Staff Picks

Don't forget to check out our staff picks for kids!

November 28, 2011

Nightlife

Nightlife
by Thurman, Rob
SF THU

Fans of Anita Blake and others who battle preternatural baddies will be intrigued by a new member of that heroic club in this first book in a series by Indiana author Rob Thurman. Cal (Caliban) Leandros is half human and half Auphe. The Auphe are an ancient race of elves, but these are not the beloved, benevolent elves of Middle Earth and other recent places. These creatures date back to the folk and fairy tales of old, where elves were dangerous, evil beings who stole human babies and human souls. The Auphe are even worse. Cal and his totally human half-brother Niko have spent most of their life running from the Auphe. For Cal, the only worse thing than being captured by that side of his family is the fear that same monster lurks within him. But when he is attacked by an Auphe one night after work, and realizes that they need him for a purpose that puts all of humanity at risk, he decides to stop running and fight back.

— Recommended by Doriene Smither, Pike Branch

 

November 21, 2011

The American Leadership Tradition: Moral Vision From Washington To Clinton

The American Leadership Tradition: Moral Vision From Washington To Clinton
by Olasky, Marvin N.
973

Although Dr. Olasky writes from a staunchly Christian perspective, he provides balance and nuance in the vignettes of thirteen American leaders, most of whom were Presidents.  Andrew Jackson’s courage and pugnacity are known to the most casual student of history, but his intellect, vision, discernment, morality, and even cleverness, emerge in his chapter.  Meanwhile, his callous attitude toward Indians and slaves, while not defended, is at least explained.  The Lincoln chapter could well have been called "Feet of [Henry] Clay" in reference to some proclivities the two men shared.  The chapters, at about twenty pages each, are long enough to illustrate the subject’s character in historical context--warts and all--without letting the reader’s interest flag.

— Recommended by John Ridge, Wayne Branch

 

November 14, 2011

The Tenderness Of Wolves

The Tenderness Of Wolves
by Penney, Stef
MYS PEN

It's 1867 and winter is beginning to bear down on the Canadian Dove River community.  Mrs. Ross, A Scot immigrant, finds a French fur trader's body, murdered and scalped. In this expansive, well researched who-done-it, many loners, fugitives, fur traders and trappers are suspect. The crime investigation is orchestrated by two who represent the greedy, pervasive Hudson Bay Company. Mrs. Ross is astonished that her seventeen year old son, one of the suspects, has gone missing. She sets out with an Indian guide to find her son before the impending snow obscures his tracks. The wilderness is so breathtakingly described that the reader feels a part of the landscape. By journey's end we've learned more about the unsolved disappearance of two young girls many years ago, a fur trading empire falling into ruin, an ancient Indian artifact, and a deteriorating marriage. Chapters are written from several of the community members' voices, each describing their theme and perspective. This sparkling debut novel leaves a craving for a continuation of this desolate, wintery tale.

— Recommended by Sharon McKittrick, Lawrence Branch

 

November 7, 2011

Pinched: How The Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures & What We Can Do About It.

Pinched: How The Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures & What We Can Do About It.
by Peck, Don
330.973 PEC

What happens to a generation coming of age during a recession?

First appearing in article form under The Atlantic headline, where it received a 2011 Media for Liberty award, Pinched offers its reader some history and economic policy along with solid investigative journalism. Comparing the modern Tea Party to the populist movement of the 1890’s, Peck begins with similarities before shifting his attention to the rise of women in the workforce, bemoaning the lack of civic virtue in today’s elite, and tracing the decline of the suburban environment as unique aspects of the current recession. Going forward, his policy prescriptions will please and offend in equal measure as he recommends tax reform, entitlement reform, spending decreases, immigration reform, vocational training programs, and unemployment wage insurance programs (just to name a few).

Pinched is at its strongest, however, when Peck’s background in journalism asserts itself. His report on the long term effects of economic recessions makes for sobering reading. He valiantly argues for swift and decisive action at a moment in time when restraint would seem to be the more prudent course.

— Recommended by Chris Murray, Haughville Branch

 

October 31, 2011

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?
by Shapiro, James S.
822.33 AB SHA

Mark Twain and Henry James held each other in contempt, but they had at least one thing in common. They both knew that William Shakespeare didn't write those plays and poems. Helen Keller agreed. Sigmund Freud, too, though he disagreed with the other three about who did write the stuff. Sir Francis Bacon and Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, have been the chief contenders for authorship (the new movie Anonymous is pro-Oxfordian) and Contested Will relates the history of the conspiracy theory that supported each one.

A major component of each theory is the assumption that all writing is autobiographical. Will didn't have the variety of experiences that would have allowed him to pen those plays. A more snobbish component is the belief that you have to be a gentleman, go to university and all that, to be as creative as whoever this Shakespeare person was. Will was the grammar-school-educated son of a glove maker.

The passion with which anti-Shakespearean views have been held (Freud foisted a pro-Oxfordian treatise on some poor soul whom he was supposed to be analyzing) gives this book a charge, as does author Shapiro's presentation of the case for Shakespeare. Go, Will!

— Recommended by Glenn Halberstadt, Information Technology