Staff Recommends 2012

 


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

Book Talk: We RecommendMister Pip
Recommended by Jenny Allen
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
Mister Pip is the evocative title of this award-winning book from New Zealand author Lloyd Jones. The Dickens novel “Great Expectations” plays a highly unusual role in this coming of age novel that begins in the midst of war on a tiny island in the Pacific.

Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Janet Drake
A Natural History of the Senses
A Natural History of the Senses by Diane Ackerman 612.8 Ackerman
If you'd like to be reintroduced to your senses, here's a well-researched, descriptive, rich, and lyrical overview of what they are doing. Page after page will awaken your wonder and answer your curiosity about why we react to our world. Ackerman's knowledge and writing style turn this fascinating investigation into a sensory adventure.

Impressionist and post-impressionist paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Charles F. Moffett 759.4 Metropolitan
Impressionist and post-impressionist paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of ArtOne hundred twenty six colorplates of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings from the Metropolitan Museum of Art are in this grand collection. To make it possible to see some of the brushwork with more clarity, detailed enlargements of sections of the colorplates accompany 46 of them. Also supporting each colorplate is commentary, tracing the evolution of a new way of seeing, which marked the work of Impressionism and Postimpressionism.


Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Lucy Loveridge, Children’s Services

Fun YA Fantasy series with strong females in alternate Americas. More realistic difficulties and more socially aware characters than in the Hunger Games series, IMHO.
Thirteenth ChildAcross the Great Barrier
Frontier Magic by Patricia C. Wrede, Y Fiction
Book 1: The Thirteenth Child
Book 2: Across the Great Barrier

Eff is a thirteenth child, doomed to evil according to the prevailing magical tradition in Columbia (a mid 19th century alternate America), while her twin brother Lan, a seventh son of a seventh son, is meant for magical greatness, but when the family moves to the frontier so their father can teach magic at a new land grant college, both discover that fate is more malleable than they believed. Eff embraces ethnic magics and falls under the spell of the frontier, with its endless opportunities available to those who can overcome its dangers, as she grows to womanhood and begins to think about the shape of her future. Eff’s plans for venturing beyond the Great Barrier in her work augur more adventure in the coming book(s) in the series. An inventive Western fantasy—the three magic systems brought from different continents by immigrants to Columbia are very well thought out.

Flora Segunda, Being the Magical Mishaps… by YsabeauFlora Segunda : Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog S. Wilce, Y pb FantasyFlora's FuryFlora's Dare : How a Girl of Spirit Gambles All to Expand Her Vocabulary, Confront a Bouncing Boy Terror, and Try to Save Califa from a Shaky Doom (Despite Being Confined to Her Room)
Flora’s Dare, How a Girl of Spirit… by Ysabeau S. Wilce, Y Fiction Fantasy
Flora’s Fury, How a Girl of Spirit… by Ysabeau S. Wilce, Y Fiction Fantasy

Flora lives in the Republic of Califa (a still Spanish alternate California), which has recently been defeated by the Huitzil Empire (a still Aztec alternate Mexico). She has a very dysfunctional, but proud, family including a commanding general (her mother), a madman (her father), a banished butler, and Flora Primero, a sister who was lost during the Huitzil War, for whom she is named. Flora wants to be a ranger, not a soldier as her mother expects her to be. Rangers are more independent and adventurous and, most importantly, use magic. Flora has learned all she knows of rangering through a series of adventure books featuring Nini Mo, the Rangers legendary founder, whom Flora quotes often. Flora grows from a crazy, wild, determined teen planning her Catorcena, her entry into adulthood, to a reluctant soldier in her mother’s army over the course of these books. With a little help from Udo, her vain, loyal best friend, some magical entities, occasional pirates, outlaws, traitors and revolutionaries and through the use of her own daring and creative Will, Flora survives some very bad luck, accomplishes some amazing tasks and discovers some disturbing secrets, all in a very amusing narrative. There are hints that the series is heading to a rematch between the Califans and the Huitzil with Flora and Udo right in the middle of it, so the rest of the series cannot come soon enough.

Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Mary Murphy, Circulation.


Three mystery stories with teens in terrible trouble: Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob by William Landay, Fiction
This engaging work of fiction by local author William Landay is a frightening tale of murder that takes place in a suburb of Boston. When Asst. D.A. Andy Barber’s son Jacob is accused in the murder of a classmate, life takes a desperate turn for Andy, a man with many secrets and Jacob, a son on the edge of a long prison term. Highly suspenseful. A must read title for mystery readers.

The Conviction by Robert Dugoni, Fiction The Conviction
This is the fifth and latest in the David Sloane legal thriller series. Sloane and a co-worker take their sons camping. The boys are arrested and so begins Sloane’s investigation of a local judge and the Fresh Start program where the boys are incarcerated. Dugoni has once again created a high energy thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Gone Missing by Linda Castillo, Fiction
This is the fourth novel in the Capt. Kate Burkholder series. KateGone Missing Burkholder grew up Amish. She becomes Chief of Police in the Amish community of Painter’s Mill. When the Amish girls are experiencing Rumspringa, which is a time of freedom before making a lifetime commitment to the Amish life, a body is discovered and linked to several cold cases in the surrounding Amish communities, and Kate is on the hunt for a serial killer. This is a chilling tale of serial abductions and not for the faint of heart.


Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Kelly Sprague
Why Read Moby Dick?

Why Read Moby Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick (813 Melville)
Let Nathaniel Philbrick start your summer with thoughts of the sea. This short guide to Moby Dick will inspire you to go back to the great classic or dive in to it for the first time. Melville’s expansive imagination and sense of humor shine though this quick tour of the whaling life aboard Ahab’s fated ship.

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick (973.2) Mayflower
The story of America begins here. Philbrick’s lively voice focuses on the world around us in this state. Massachusetts history is written in the names of our towns, rivers, and roads and Philbrick brings those places to the forefront in this engaging history of the earliest days of America. King Philip’s War was as real as the first Thanksgiving, and exploring how and why it began brings issues of race, violence, religious identity, and economic opportunity into a conversation that remains relevant today.
State of Wonder
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (Fiction)
Have an Amazon adventure while relaxing on the beach in New England this summer! Patchett’s absorbing tale of science and ethics plays out deep in the heart of the Amazon. Be forewarned: there is a snake!
Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Laraine Worby

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s BerlinIn the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (943.086 Larson)
By the author of Devil in the White City and set in pre-war Berlin, this is the story of William Dodd, the American Ambassador to Germany as Hitler is rising to power. Told through his eyes, and those of his high-spirited daughter, this non-fiction work reads like a suspense filled thriller. Dodd is right there as persecution against the Jews mounts and Nazi power escalates, but he never truly believes that the madness of Hitler will prevail until it is too late.


Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Sherry Baker


Three compelling stories of families dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease:

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
The author’s first novel, this book portrays a brilliant Harvard psychologyStill Alice professor’s descent into early-onset dementia. Not yet 50, Alice is a happily married mother of three grown children when she begins to experience confusion and disorientation. Frighteningly real, the story is told from Alice’s point of view, but also captures the effect her condition has on her family and the stigma it carries in society. Over the three years of her illness, Alice loses her career, her lifestyle, and herself as they struggle together to help her be “still Alice.”

The Story of my Father by Sue Miller
When popular novelist Sue Miller’s father is found wandering anThe Story of My Father : A Memoir d disoriented after losing his car on an interstate trip, a journey of a different kind begins. As the brilliant retired theology professor and minister loses his memory to dementia, Miller looks back on his life and her own. In this deeply personal memoir, she combines stories of warm childhood memories with her daily struggle to provide care for her father and sustain her own family and writing career. The author says that she found comfort, pleasure even, in learning about this cruel disease and telling her father’s story.

The House on Beartown Road: a Memoir of Learning and Forgetting by Elizabeth Cohen
Cohen, a married New York journalist, joins the ranks of the “sandwiThe House on Beartown Road ch generation” when her father is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, and her daughter is just a baby. When she takes her father into their home, her husband, unable to handle the stress, abandons her. In this inspiring memoir, Cohen draws parallels between her daughter’s learning and her dad’s forgetting as she struggles to survive a harsh winter alone. Beautifully written, this story informs the reader about this disease and how one woman courageously endured its devastation.



Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Robin Frank


Celebrate Women’s History Month…


Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan (Fiction Sullivan)
Three generations have been sharing their summers at their family beachfront home in Ogunquit, Maine. At the center of the novel arMaine four strong-willed women who each tell their own story of their last summer in Maine. Alice is the matriarch whose mysterious past unfolds to the reader in a story filled with both humor and drama. Their family history is interwoven throughout and brings to life these very real and entertaining characters as they cope with each other and their own life changing decisions. In addition, Ogunquit is depicted with an authenticity that makes this novel particularly fun to read for both visitors and Mainers.

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (Fiction Gowda)Secret Daughter
Krishnan and Somer fall in love while in medical school together in California, and later marry. When Somer is told she cannot bear children, they travel to Krishnan’s birth home in India to adopt a baby girl. In alternating chapters, Gowda also shares the life of a couple in India and the events that lead them to a Mumbai orphanage. The novel spans decades as the vastly different lives of the two couples eventually intersect, giving the reader insight into their deeply personal struggles. Through four women spanning three generations, we read about India’s traditions, poverty, and riches.

Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Lisa Taranto


Cocktail hour under the tree of forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller (B FULLER, A. Fuller)
Fuller lovingly but humorously describes her mother growing uCocktail hour under the tree of forgetfulnessp in Kenya, how she met Fuller’s father and their life together in their beloved home in Africa. A sequel to Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Fuller sits with her parents under the “Tree of Forgetfulness” on their banana farm in Zambia as her parents recall early days of marriage, the tragic loss of three of their children and the horrific events of the Rhodesian Civil War. There were also happier times as they raised their family which always included a few dogs, cats, horses and sometimes rabbits. The determination, love and forgiveness her parents share make this a truly endearing read.

Nothing daunted : the unexpected education of two society girls in the West by Dorothy Wickenden (371.1 Wickenden) 
Wickenden, the New Yorker's executive editor, writes a heartwarming story of her grandmother and her best friend's experiences traveling to a small town in Colorado to become teachers in 1916. This is a captiNothing dauntedvating description of life in the early 20th Century for two Smith graduates. They traveled from New York on a newly built transcontinental railroad and experienced the breath taking beauty of the landscape of Colorado and the harsh conditions of poverty in the rural town where they taught. Much of the information in this book is based on personal letters and articles that were saved by the families. The narrative is related as warm memories by her grandmother and it is an inspiring tribute to a friendship that lasted eighty-three years.

Book Talk: We Recommend
Recommended by Rebecca Berkowitz


Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading by Nina Sankovitch (028.9 Sankovitch)Tolstoy and the Purple Chair : My Year of Magical Reading
This book is a memoir, an elegy to a beloved sister, an essay on mourning and a love letter to literature. Sankovitch finds she is unable to come to terms with her sister’s death. In an effort to reclaim her life she decides to read a book a day for a year and blog about each book (www.readallday.org).
There is much about the books, about the logistics, about her life, her perspective on literature and her unrelenting grief. Her choices are eclectic and she provides a list of all 365 titles.

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry (Fiction)Hannah Coulter
Hannah Coulter is an ordinary person living in challenging times. Born in rural Kentucky during the Great Depression, widowed in World War II, she lives on to love and marry again, bear more children and preside over a family and a farm heavily buffeted by the winds of change. Berry writes with understated eloquence of ideas, emotions and the kind of quiet courage that sustains us. Hannah Coulter will inspire you.
You'll find more ideas on the Reader Services Page, the Fiction Booklist Section and among our previous Staff Recommendations.

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Updated on 10/28/2013 02:40 PM
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