Staff Recommends 2009


You'll find many more ideas in the Reader Services Page, the Fiction Booklist Section and among our previous Staff Recommendations.

Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Jane Peck, Branch Librarian

Dogs, dogs, dogs. Did you walk yours today? Do you enjoy reading about dogs? Try one of these titles for an enjoyable stroll through a very doggy world without a pooper bag.

Dean Koontz has written a charming tribute to his best friend, Trixie. She is a gorgeous Golden Retriever with special powers to heal your heart and Dean Koontz isn’t afraid to show his soft side as he tells her story in A Big Little Life: a Memoir of a Joyful Dog.

Or join Jon Katz on Bedlam Farm as he writes about his wonderful dogs and their relationships with Jon and other animals on the Farm. The latest title is Soul of a Dog.

Finally, if you are considering getting a dog or puppy soon make sure to check out Cesar Millan’s newest title How to Raise the Perfect Dog. Cesar, the Dog Whisperer, is renowned for his mantra of exercise, discipline, and affection to make your dog or puppy the perfect companion.

So as the holidays draw near, remember: don’t give your dog chocolate or grapes, and enjoy that long walk after your holiday dinner to balance those extra calories.
Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Lucy Loveridge

Now that we’re awaiting the last movie remake of the Harry Potter books, it might be time to find a new series for children that adults can enjoy, too. Let’s not lose that connection to straightforward, fun plotting and imaginative details that made Harry Potter such an international phenomenon.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, J Fiction
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably read these five books that began with The Lightning Thief (the movie’s coming out next February). Percy Jackson, a middle schooler with academic problems, including ADHD and dyslexia, is attacked while on a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In the subsequent debriefing by those who saved his life, Percy discovers he is a demi-god, son of one of the Greek gods, and thus a target of the Titans, enemies of the Greek gods. He also discovers there’s a summer camp for kids like him that will help him survive his adolescence as well as the Titan attacks, if he’s lucky. Much adventure ensues. A great read.

The Mad Misadventures of Emmeline and Rubberbones series by Howard Whitehouse, J Fiction
Not so well-known, but just as adventurous, are the three books (so far) of this series which began with The Strictest School in the World: Being the Tale of a Clever Girl, a Rubber Boy and a Collection of Flying Machines, Mostly Broken. This is twisted, mad-cap, Victorian adventure that is very amusing, especially if you’re familiar with the work of Frances Hodgson Burnett and other Victorian children’s authors. Stock characters such as the maiden aunt/guardian, the loyal and exotic butler, the American inventor, the stalwart village boy, and the lonely orphan are tweaked in a lovely but subversive way, and Princess Purnah of Chiligriti, a late arrival in the first book but a star in the second and third, is a joy forever while being alarmingly bloodthirsty.

Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space and its sequels by Philip Reeve, J Science Fiction
In another, farther reaching twist on Victorian adventure for children, Mr. Reeve’s books (three so far), starring Art Mumby, his priggish sister, parents and friends, take place in outer space which has been conquered, like much of Earth, by Great Britain under the leadership of Queen Victoria. The English, of course, have discovered the secret of traveling through the ether from planet to planet on ships much like the ships in the British Navy of the 1800s. Strange creatures are met everywhere; some Englishmen go native and marry Martians (not the done thing); and mind control can be accomplished through derby hats if you’re not careful. As time progresses, many plots and uprisings by the exotic inhabitants of Her Majesty’s Empire are discovered and foiled by the plucky Mumby family and their friends.

Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Sherry Baker

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff The 19th wife
This novel blends epic historical fiction with a present day murder mystery. The compelling story of Ann Eliza, the 19th wife of Brigham Young, founder and leader of the Mormon Church, details her life in a plural marriage, her separation in 1875 from her powerful husband and her crusade to end polygamy. Woven into Ann Eliza’s story is that of Jordan Scott, a young man who was cast out of his fundamentalist sect as a teenager, a common practice in polygamist groups. The two narratives intertwine, allowing the reader a fascinating look at all aspects o f plural marriage and its consequences.
EscapeStolen Innocence
Two memoirs recently published by young women who escaped from polygamous sects, Stolen Innocence by Elissa Wall and Escapee by Carolyn Jessop, reveal the struggle to eliminate plural marriages continues to this day.

Book Talk: We Recommend
by Sande Marchetti, Circulation Department

Drood by Dan Simmons. (Fiction)
DroodIn another absorbing novel using fictionalized accounts of famous people, the author recounts a terrifying story of the last years of Charles Dickens’ life. Narrated by his presumed friend and contemporary Wilkie Collins, Drood tells the story of an ill-fated train accident in which Dickens barely escapes death and first encounters the mysterious and elusive Edwin Drood. Pursuing him later to the underworld of London’s sewers, the two authors encounter a frightening world of evil, poverty, drugs and madness. Increasingly jealous of Dickens’ commercial success, Collins succumbs to opium addiction and nightmarish visions. Confronted at last with Drood’s evil powers, both authors seem to fall victim to a horrible insanity. Highly imaginative and suspenseful Drood is an absorbing read.

Book Talk: We Recommend
by Emily A. Donnelly, McAuliffe Branch

Apollo 13 by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger. (629.454 Lovell) Apollo 13
(previously published as Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13)
Although the horrors and heroics of the Apollo 13 mission have been widely documented, no source is more compelling than Commander Lovell’s first-hand account of the disaster. More than just a collection of facts, Lovell and Kluger’s prose is filled with insights into the lives, families, and societies of NASA astronauts. This memoir will delight readers for both its high level of detail and its fiction-like fluidity.

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. (Fiction) The Martian Chronicles
Through a collection of connected short stories, sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury constructs a futuristic history of Earthlings’ attempts to colonize Mars. Rife with social and political commentary -- as well as frequently unforgettable imagery -- The Martian Chronicles has endured as a classic among varied audiences for nearly sixty years.

Laika by Nick Abadzis. (Y Graphic Nov) Laika
Before there were human astronauts, there was Laika: a stray dog destined to be the world’s first sentient space traveler. In this emotional adaptation of the true story, Nick Abadzis skillfully portrays Laika’s tragic involvement in Space Race politics while emphasizing the humanity of the scientists around her. Tissues recommended.

Book Talk: We Recommend
by Paula Marsh, Assistant Circulation Supervisor, McAuliffe Branch

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran. Fiction.Nefertiti
Michele Moran’s first novel, Nefertiti, brings the ancient world to life. The story of this ambitious queen is told through her younger sister, Mutnodjmet. Nefertiti and Pharaoh Amunhotep, aka Akhenaten, rule Lower Egypt in a destructive reign that threatens the stability of the country as a whole. Their plan to build a city for themselves, in addition to other antics in their court, create intrigue as the country waits for the next Prince of Egypt.

Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund. Fiction.Abundance
Did France misunderstand Marie Antoinette or did Marie Antoinette misunderstand France? Seta Jeter Naslund gives us an intimate portrayal of the young queen whose life amid the luxury and opulence of Versailles and the decadence of Paris brings her finally to her fate as victim of the French Revolution.

Book Talk: We Recommend by Jackie Barillet, Circulation Department

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar.  Fiction.The Space Between Us
This dense emotional novel set in modern India tells the story of two women with close personal bonds, yet separated by vast social differences. Sera, a wealthy upper-class woman, employs Bhima, from the slums of Bombay. Their intertwining lives illumine the class and gender differences in their society.

The Toss of a Lemon by Padma Viswanathan.  Fiction.The Toss of a Lemon
This family saga involving several generations of a Brahmin family begins at the end of the 19th century. The marriage of Sivakami, the matriarch-to-be, at the age of 10 first describes the many fascinating aspects of the culture interwoven with the lives of the family. As Indian society evolves slowly into the modern world, the characters’ beliefs are challenged by change and by each other in this absorbing and surprising novel.

Recommend by Mary Murphy, Circulation Department
Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by VickiDewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World Myron. 636.8 Myron.
In 1988, on a cold night in Spencer, Iowa, library director Vicki Myron found a tiny kitten stuffed in the library book drop. ‘Dewey’ was adopted by the staff and for 19 years greeted visitors to the Spencer library. The 1980’s in Iowa was a time of farming crisis and Myron describes Dewey as the comic relief and mender of the human spirit of this community. Dewey becomes quite famous and when he passes, his obituary is published in the New York Times.

The Condition by Jennifer Haigh. Fiction.The Condition
This narrative of a twenty-year span in the life of a New England family chronicles family relationships, separations and struggles. Daughter Gwen is diagnosed with Turner’s syndrome, a genetic condition that keeps her body from developing, brother Billy has a secret life and youngest brother Scott feels trapped in a job he hates and a marriage that is killing his spirit.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: a memoir by Bill Bryson. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt KidB BRYSON, B. Bryson.
A coming of age memoir of 1950’s through the eyes of Bill Bryson aka Thunderbolt Kid. His alter ego Thunderbolt kid loves comic books that he reads at the Kiddie Corral in the local supermarket in Des Moines while his mother shops. Bryson describes the 1950’s as a time of happy consumerism when neighbors clamored to see your newest electrical appliances. Bryson’s wit and insights of this time make for a fun read and of particular interest for Baby Boomers.








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Updated on 09/01/2015 09:10 AM
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