Staff Picks

The Summer Guest

Summary: 
A diary falls into the hands of a London publisher in need of a miracle and a translator adrift in Switzerland, documenting the summers when a family of three intellectual sisters and a musical brother hosted the Chekhov family on their Ukrainian estate. The result is a fascinating novel about the life-sustaining power of fiction.

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Three Sisters, Three Queens

Summary: 
Philippa Gregory's latest in the Plantagenet/Tudor series tells of the pivotal roles the three queens played in Henry VIII’s kingdom. Katherine of Aragon arrives at the Tudor court as a young bride, the oldest princess, Margaret, who serves as the narrator, takes her measure. Each knows the other for a rival, an ally, a pawn, destined—with Margaret’s younger sister Mary—to a sisterhood unique in all the world, since they will become the queens of England, Scotland, and France. Although they are tied by family loyalties and affections, the three queens find themselves set against each other. Katherine commands an army against Margaret and kills her husband James IV of Scotland. But Margaret’s boy becomes heir to the Tudor throne when Katherine loses her son. Mary steals the widowed Margaret’s proposed husband, but when Mary is widowed it is her secret marriage for love that is the envy of the others. This was an interesting introduction into the events of the time from a woman's perspective and well worth a read.

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The Hidden Life of Trees : What they feel, how they communicate : discoveries from a secret world

Summary: 
I will never look at trees and forests quite the same way, Peter Wohlleben shares his understanding and appreciation of woods and forests and explains processes of life, death, and regeneration and the scientific processes, of which we are unaware. Trees exist in families, tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, and support them as they grow. It is a fascinating eye-opening book . A joy to read

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The Other Einstein

Summary: 
Mileva "Mitza" Maric is an extraordinarily brilliant, gifted Eastern European woman studying physics in Zurich, Switzerland at the dawn of the 20th century. There she meets and falls in love with the charismatic Albert Einstein, a fellow student in her all-male class. Together these two young scientists share many ideas, mathematical calculations as well as physical intimacy. When Mitza becomes pregnant out-of-wedlock she is forced to abandon her studies and return to her family to have the child. This carefully researched historical novel poses many questions regarding Mileva's role in the development of the theory of relativity. It proposes that she deserves far more credit for the development of this groundbreaking vision of the nature of the universe. Written in the first person, Marie Benedict gives this forgotten woman a heart, mind, and voice that tells a story which needs to be shared with the world.

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The Internet of Us : knowing more and understanding less in the age of big data

Summary: 
A quick read that examines the Internet's effect on our knowledge.

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Red Platoon : a true story of American valor

Summary: 
The author participated in fighting off a 2009 Taliban attack on Command Outpost Keating in Afghanistan. This work provides his account of the battle. I listened to the audio book version narrated by Will Damron who does a great job narrating this story. The story itself does a great job of explaining the situation Romesha and his colleagues encountered. I strongly recommend this work.

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The Fort : a novel of the Revolutionary War

Summary: 
In the summer of 1779, a small British force of fewer than a thousand Scots, backed by three sloops-of-war, sail to New England. They establish a fort, to be called Fort George at Penobscot Bay, in the eastern province of Massachusetts that would become Maine. Massachusetts sends a fleet of more than forty vessels and some one thousand infantrymen to deal with these the foreign invaders. However ineptitude and irresolution lead to a overwhelming defeat, when the British send a huge fleet to relieve the fort. This was for me, another Bernard Cornwell page-turner, which I couldn't put down. His ability to describe battle scenes and the combatants is wonderful. You feel as though you are right in the middle of the fighting. It was also an eyeopener for me to learn that a Boston silversmith and 'patriot' named Paul Revere, faced court-martial for disobedience and cowardice as a result of his conduct in this assault on the British.

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The Unquiet Dead

Summary: 
#1 in a Canadian mystery series, this novel provides a fascinating entree into the difficult political and cultural issues of our time. Hockey-playing Sgt. Rachel Getty and her Muslim boss Esa Khattak solve crimes and prevent social unrest in the Community Policing Section in multi-ethnic Toronto. When a relatively unknown newcomer falls to his death from the Bluffs in a wealthy neighborhood, his and many others’ secrets, buried in the tragedy of Bosnia, come to light.

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The Language of Secrets-

Summary: 
The second Rachel Getty/Esa Khattak mystery focuses on radicalization in Toronto's Muslim community and the murder of an undercover Muslim policeman. The plot is compelling, but the struggle of the characters to understand the complexity of culture, politics, faith and personality is profound. Best if read promptly after #1 _The Unquiet Dead_ Can't wait for #3!

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How To Be a Tudor: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Tudor Life

Summary: 
Ruth Goodman takes us on a journey through a day in the lives of the ordinary people, who toiled through the Tudor times, and also the elite, who did not. From dawn to dusk, she documents the facts and foibles of ordinary Tudor life. It is a fascinating book, a must-read for those of us who are insatiably curious about this turbulent and yet vibrant time in English history.

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