Staff Picks

The Muralist

Summary: 
If you enjoyed reading "The Art Forger". you will most likely appreciate B.A. Shapiro's new novel called "The Muralist". The story moves through time between NYC in the 1940's and the present day. Alizee Benoit is an artist in the dawning era of American Abstract Expressionism. She is also of European Jewish ancestry and desperately trying to get visas for her relatives who are seeking asylum in the United States. The main character in the present day is Alizee's great-niece Danielle, who is trying to piece together the mysterious circumstances surrounding Alizee's sudden disappearance in the '40's. This historical novel is a gripping thriller,seamlessly weaving together the subjects of 20th century art and politics and a very well-written and moving tale as well.

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The Kill Artist

Summary: 
This novel, first in the Gabriel Allon series, is a fast-paced, anti-terrorist, political story of the Middle East in the 1990s. Daniel Silva paints an absorbing portrait of a reluctant hero’s attempt to thwart an old enemy to preserve a precarious peace. After the assassination of his wife and son, Gabriel Allon retires from his brutal anti-terrorist career and loses himself in his previous cover job: art restoration. But when Tariq al-Hourani, the Palestinian terrorist responsible for his family’s death, begins a killing spree designed to destroy Middle East peace talks, Gabriel once again is drawn into the shadowy world of international intrigue. In this game of hide-and-seek, the motives of Gabriel and Tariq soon become more personal than political. There are so many twists and turns in this book, it is hard to keep up. It is a great read for those who enjoy this genre. I am ready for the next in the series!!

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Between the World and Me

Summary: 
One hardly needs me to recommend a National Book Award winner, but I can't get this book out of my head. The economical (176 pages) work of non-fiction is a letter from Coates to his teenage son about what it means to be black in America today. Covering American history, current events, and the author's personal narrative, the word in my head is "important." This is such an important book at this time, in this country. It can be shocking and demoralizing, but also hopeful. Consider listening to the audiobook. Coates performs his own narration and his voice lends even more to the powerfulness and beauty of the text.

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Heresy

Summary: 
Set in 1583 against a backdrop of religious-political intrigue and barbaric judicial reprisals, Parris's compelling debut novel centers on real-life Giordano Bruno, a former Italian monk excommunicated by the Roman Catholic church and hunted across Europe by the Inquisition for his belief in an infinite universe. Befriended by the charismatic English courtier and soldier Sir Philip Sidney, the ambitious Bruno flees to more tolerant Protestant England, where Elizabeth I's secretary of state, Sir Francis Walsingham, recruits him to spy, under the cover of philosophical disputation, on secretly Catholic Oxford scholars suspected of plotting treason. As one Oxford fellow after another falls to gruesome homicide, Bruno struggles to unravel Oxford's tangled loyalties, his mission is dramatically thrown off course by these grisly deaths and the charms of a mysterious but beautiful young woman. He realizes that somewhere within Oxford’s private chambers lurks a brutal killer. Parris (the pseudonym of British journalist Stephanie Merritt) interweaves historical fact with psychological insight as Bruno, a humanist dangerously ahead of his time, begins his quest to light the fire of enlightenment in Europe. A fantastic read and beautifully written.

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Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Summary: 
A remarkable debut starring food and family, both biological and chosen, this novel is an homage to and satire of foodie culture and a reversal of predictable relationships. Eva Thorvald is the connecting character in chapters mostly about others, and their impact on her life is both subtle and transformative—lots of laughter paired with genuine emotion. Very satisfying.

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Plotted: A literary atlas

Summary: 
Plotted: a literary atlas provides artistic visuals of numerous western classics. Maps include "TheVoyage of Odysseus," "Huckleberry Finn's Mississippi River Journey," and "The wrinkled time continuum" of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle inTime. My favorite maps in this book display Frederick Douglass's journey from slavery to abolitionist and statesman.Avid readers of literature will enjoy this work. Visual learners studying any of the classics depicted in this book may find Plotted a useful companion.

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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Summary: 
Once again, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of "Eat Pray Love", has delivered a winner. This time she addresses the topic of creativity, which she calls big magic. She is referring to the mysterious, magical process of inspiration which is the essence of the creative process. With down-to-earth humor, Gilbert shares her wisdom and experience for anyone who is interested in leading a full, rich, and creative existence. She encourages us to uncover the "strange jewels" which each of us has within.

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I Am Pilgrim

Summary: 
Will America escape the most horrific act of terrorism it faces? A thriller so gripping, I wanted to retire as a mom (of very young and dependent children, by the way) and just finish this nail biter of a story.

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Charles and Emma: the Darwins' leap of faith

Summary: 
I read this some time ago, but just spotted it again as the kids are looking for biographies. This one intrigued me and although much of the information that is woven into this story is not what I would have grabbed by subject, it was so well told that I was fascinated. The Bio reads like a novel and pulls you right into the time period, the thinking behind both viewpoints of Evolution and the Darwin's marriage and life, often very difficult. Though in the Children's Dept. it's one to read!

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The Winter King: a novel of Arthur

Summary: 
In Dark Ages Britain, Arthur has been banished and Merlin has disappeared; a child-king sits unprotected on the throne and magic vies with religion for the souls of the people. Going far beyond the usual tales of romance and chivalry, Cornwell's Arthur is fierce, dedicated and complex, a man with many problems, most of his own making. His impulsive decisions sometimes have tragic ramifications, as when he takes Guinevere instead of the intended Ceinwyn, alienating his friends and allies and inspiring a bloody battle. The secondary characters are equally great, and are filled with the magic and superstition of the times. Merlin is a crafty schemer, fond of deceit and disguise. Lancelot is portrayed as a warrior-pretender, a dishonest charmer with dark plans of his own; Galahad as the noble soldier of purpose and dedication. Guinevere, is however, no gentle creature waiting patiently in the moonlight, she has designs and plots of her own. The story of these characters and others is narrated by Derfel Cadarn, a character we follow from his earliest year, first one of Arthur's warriors, later a monk. This novel could change the way the story of Arthur is told. I loved this book and it opened up a whole new perspective and to my mind, possibly a more realistic view of the Arthurian Legends.

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