Staff Picks

Nightbird

Summary: 
Being a big fan of Alice Hoffman's novels, I recently enjoyed reading a book she wrote for a much younger audience. "Nightbird" is a winner of the Great Stone Face Award and a thoroughly enjoyable story. In her usual manner, Hoffman blends together ordinary down-to-earth living with a sense of the magical. This story takes place in the little town of Sidwell, situated in the Berkshires. The characters include a young girl and her older brother with wings, due to an age-old curse placed by a woman who was a witch. A very easy read, (it was written for youngsters) this tale nevertheless keeps the reader riveted, eagerly going from chapter to chapter, unable to put it down because one wants to find out what will happen next. And of course it has a very happy ending!

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The Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984: A Graphic Memoir

Summary: 
Through vignettes, Riad Sattouf's debut English language graphic novel: "The Arab of the Future", chronicles his nomadic childhood. The book begins in France, but soon Sattouf's father, a staunch supporter of Nasser's Pan-Arab dream, accepts a job at a university in Libya. After teaching for several years, he again uproots the family to his native Syria. I think what makes this book such a delight to read is that it goes beyond a simple cartoon diary or travelogue. Sattouf is a gifted writer/cartoonist/storyteller, taking readers somewhere deeply intimate, albeit blinded by his childhood innocence. This book was hilarious, yet deeply disturbing, insightful and timely.

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Prince of Fire

Summary: 
This is by far the best novel of the Gabriel Allon series I have read so far. Daniel Silva begins with Allon back in Venice. An explosion in Rome leads to a disturbing personal revelation: a dossier in the hands of terrorists that uncovers his secrets. Gabriel Allon is recalled home to Israel, and eventually finds himself stalking an elusive master terrorist. A knife-edged thriller of astonishing intricacy, until one can no longer decide who is stalking whom. I loved this book and am ready for #6

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Conspirata

Summary: 
Robert Harris continues the story of the rise of Marcus Cicero to consul of Rome through the narration of Tiro, his right-hand man and slave. On the eve of Cicero’s inauguration as consul of Rome, a young slave boy has been murdered, which looks like a human sacrifice. For Cicero, these are ill omens, for even though he has been elected leader by the people, he is despised by very powerful individuals who seek to destroy him. Cicero seeks only to preserve the republic. There is a plot to assassinate him, abetted by a rising young star of the Roman senate named Gaius Julius Caesar, whose goal is to move Rome to the path of a dictatorship! Tiro documents Cicero's struggles, using all his powers of wit, strength, and force of will to overcome the plot and keep Rome a from dictatorship. A fascinating read, that gives one just a glimpse of politics-----Roman Style.....

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Conspiracy

Summary: 
The 5th in the Giordano Bruno series has the most complicated plot yet. Paris, 1585 is a city on the edge of catastrophe: Henri III, a king without an heir, lives in fear of a coup from the Duke of Guise and the Catholic League. His mother Catherine de Medici and her harem of spies are watching over his shoulder. Bruno has been forced to leave London. Unable to find refuge and a source of income, alone and near destitute in Paris, he turns to old friend and zealous preacher, Paul Lefevre. But when the priest is murdered, Bruno is pulled into a dangerous world. If Bruno can't uncover the truth, not only is the future of the de Valois monarchy threatened - but his own life will be the forfeit. S.J Parris (Stephanie Merritt) somehow weaves a plot of such complexity that just sucks you in until the very last pages. A terrific read-- I just hope this isn't the last in the Bruno series.

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The Girl in Green

Summary: 
Miller brings the same keen wit, intelligence, empathy and profound wisdom to all involved in Iraq and Syria as in Europe in Norwegian by Night. Pvt. Arwood Hobbes and photojournalist Benton and UN worker Marta all suffer for their actions and inactions, but persevere with their eyes wide open. A timely, illuminating thriller. And laugh-out-loud funny at times.

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In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom

Summary: 
In this gripping and deeply personal memoir, Park takes us along on her incredibly dangerous journey to escape brutal dictatorship in her native North Korea.

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Imperium

Summary: 
In this first book of a trilogy about the life of the Roman Senator Marcus Cicero. Robert Harris recreates the vanished biography written by his household slave and right-hand man, Tiro, narrating Cicero’s extraordinary struggle to attain supreme power in Rome. Tiro opens the door to a desperate Sicilian aristocrat, Verres, who was first robbed by the corrupt Roman governor, who is now trying to convict him under false pretenses and sentence him to a violent death. Verres believes only the great senator Marcus Cicero, one of Rome’s most ambitious lawyers and spellbinding orators, can bring him justice in a crooked society manipulated by the villainous governor. But for Cicero, it is a chance to prove himself worthy of absolute power. Thus begins one of the most gripping courtroom dramas in history, and the beginning of a quest for political glory by a man who fought his way to the top using only his voice—defeating the most daunting figures in Roman history. I am ready for the next books in the series!

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Commonwealth

Summary: 
When Bert Cousins arrives at Franny Keating's christening party uninvited and impulsively kisses Franny's beautiful mother, he sets in motion a series of events which will forever change the lives of six children and four parents. Thus begins Ann Patchett's latest novel about families and the complex relationships involved, spanning a period of five decades. Set in California and Virginia, the author vividly paints a picture of the lives of two families, depicting them through lively dialogue, characterization and description. Touching on the themes of love and the loss of love between siblings and parents, Patchett's heartfelt work is storytelling at its best.

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Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

Summary: 
Furiously Happy is, at its core, a book about mental illness, anxiety, and depression, but it is also about embracing those not so nice aspects of our lives and finding joy. Lawson uses her frankness and humor about her own mental illness and daily struggles to remind her readers how beautifully flawed we all are, and we don't have to be ashamed of it. A wonderfully hilarious and inspiring read.

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