Staff Picks

Language Arts

Summary: 
This novel revolves around Charles Marlow, a 50-something divorced man living in Seattle who has an autistic son. His former wife is a fiercely protective woman who has tried many methods of treatment for their boy Cody. The story also goes back in time to Charles'childhood,specifically his fourth-grade class and his friendship with a classmate who was labelled "retarded". This book is a beautifully written, compassionate tale with colorful descriptions, well-developed characters, and lively dialogue.

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A Slant of Light

Summary: 
Jeffrey Lent writes dark historical novels. This novel takes place after the Civil War in Upstate New York. The book begins with a murder scene. A Civil War veterans murders his wife and her lover. He also injures an employee. The remainder of the book develops the facts leading to the murder. There's also a side story about a farmer who helps out the employee injured in the veteran's rampage. I enjoy reading Lent's novels because he is very descriptive about his settings. He presents the reader with a true sense of the scenes. I usually am disappointed with the endings of Lent's novels. I was disappointed with the ending of this book. Lent never provides the perfect endings. I usually find myself asking more questions about the characters than receiving answers. Lent shows that life never provides the perfect endings.

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The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag

Summary: 
Flavia de Luce does it again!! The very smart 11 year old, chemistry wizz, with a penchant for poisons, solves 2 murders. She thinks that her days of crime-solving in Bishop’s Lacey are over—until a puppeteer Rupert Porson gets electricuted during a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk!! This for me was a much more enjoyable book than the first, though I enjoyed that immensely. The plot was almost secondary to the main character of Flavia. She is a treat!

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The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy

Summary: 
This well-read version of the companion book to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry gives voice to its inspiration, the dying woman, who has a tale to tell, forgiveness to seek, and a quiet life. Her memories, her companion hospice patients, and the hidden connections with passersby reveal life thrumming in the depths of stillness.

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Crooked Heart

Summary: 
“Blinking little walking dictionary” orphan Noel Bostock is evacuated from London’s blitz and lodged with incompetent scammer Vee and her layabout dreamer son Donald. Noel puts his mind to survival, and makes himself indispensible. A richly enjoyable tale of ingenuity, pluck, and resilience. And funny too!

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Hausfrau

Summary: 
Expat, frustrated wife, distant mother, sad passive Anna regards Switzerland as her prison. Prescribed antidotes—analysis and language lessons—she self-medicates with reckless sex. Jungian insights and principles of German grammar ricochet through her frantic quest for meaning.A haunting update of Anna Karenina and beautifully written.

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The High Divide

Summary: 
Two brothers – and soon their mother—set out in 1886 to track down father, husband, and secret-keeper Ulysses Pope in the Montana Territory, and each uncovers a hidden self. An adventure story, an exploration of guilt and self-protection, and family strength in a different kind of Western.

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Enchanted August

Summary: 
Two young mothers, a humiliated actress, and 78-year-old Beverly Fisher all need the restorative powers of an island cottage off the Maine coast, as much as Elizbeth von Arnim’s middleaged dames needed Tuscany a century earlier. A lighthearted and satisfying update of the classic—- a perfect summer read.

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The Empty Throne

Summary: 
The early tenth century AD is a time of change for the kingdoms that will become England . There are new raids by the Vikings from Ireland, and turmoil among the Saxons over the leadership of Mercia. Æthelred, the ruler of Mercia, is dying, leaving no legitimate heir. The West Saxons want their king, but Uhtred has long supported Æthelflaed, sister to King Edward of Wessex and widow of Æthelred. Widely loved and respected, Æthelflaed has all the makings of a leader—but could Saxon warriors ever accept a woman as their ruler? The stage is set for rivals to fight for the empty throne. Uhtred is still suffering from the wounds he received in battle. To recover his strength he needs to find the sword that caused the injury, but lost amid the battle’s blood and mud, how could it be traced and who among the Vikings or Saxons might be holding it? This is another great tale from Bernard Cornwell, is which we learn much more of the characters in this saga. A great read and I cannot wait for the next book.

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Wars of the Roses: Margaret of Anjou

Summary: 
This book is a delight to read. I wish I had the next in the series in my possession already!!! It is 1454 and for over a year King Henry VI has remained all but exiled in Windsor Castle, struck down by his illness, his eyes vacant, his mind a blank. His fiercely loyal wife and Queen, Margaret of Anjou, safeguards her husband’s interests, hoping that her son Edward will one day come to know his father. Henry is all but absent as king, and Richard, the Duke of York, Protector of the Realm, extends his influence throughout the kingdom. When the king unexpectedly recovers his senses and returns to London to reclaim his throne, the balance of power is once again plunged into turmoil. The clash of the Houses of Lancaster and York may be the beginning of a war that can tear England apart. A must read for all history nuts!!!

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