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Staff Picks

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

30 March, 2015

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance
by Bujold, Lois McMasters
SF BUJ

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance is part of the Vorkosigan Saga. It is the most recent in the series, and chronologically it falls near the end of the series. This is one of the lighter and more enjoyable books in the series. The central character in the book is, as the title suggests, Captain Ivan Vorpatril. In prior books, Ivan has variously been Lieutenant Vorpatril or Lord Ivan. This book is much more about Ivan Xav, the man.

The book starts with an Imperial Security agent buzzing Ivan’s door in the middle of the night. This agent asks Ivan to undertake a special mission for Imperial Security – to meet up with a woman. For the womanizing bachelor Ivan, how hard could that be? The result is one part romantic comedy and another part mad caper.

This book is definitely science fiction: it has spaceships and floating cars and a blue alien. Wormhole travel and genetic manipulation are possible, and there are some glimpses at some military technology and even some criminal applications of technology. However, the lighter elements set it apart even from some of the other books in its own series, and the particular combination of science fiction, comedy and romance is very nearly unique.

The story does not race, but rather unwinds, if perhaps in some unexpected and occasionally ridiculous directions. Throughout, however, the tone remains wry and witty. The combination makes for a tale that is engaging and fun. For someone already familiar with the characters this was quite an enjoyable book. However, since this book shifts to Ivan as a new central character, readers new to the series can enjoy it, too.

                 --Recommended by Keith Dinnage, Haughville Library

 

March 23, 2015

Incognegro

Incognegro
by Johnson, Mat
GN JOH

This book was recommended to me by another librarian who knows about my love of graphic novels. Incognegro is more than just a graphic novel. Set in the 1930s, Harlem newspaper man Zane Pinchback exposes the murders committed against African Americans in the turbulent south by going Incognegro.

Incognegro provides the reader with an inside look into an undercover story of passing both by color and gender. Zane is a pale African American who poses as a Caucasian in order to expose members of the KKK in his news articles, written under the pseudonym Incognegro. Zane longs to be known for his news stories but realizes that he must remain anonymous if he is to keep trying to right the wrongs of the south. His work takes an interesting turn for the worse when he learns that his brother is being held for the murder of a Caucasian woman.

A mystery revolving around race and gender identity unfolds to reveal that some people are not what or who they claim to be.

                   --Recommended by Vanessa Jamerson, East 38th Street Library

 

March 16, 2015

Burial Rites

Burial Rites
by Kent, Hannah
FIC KEN

I wish I was a better writer as I don’t think I can do this book justice! Set in Iceland in the early 1800s, it is the story of Agnes, an accused murderess, the family she is sent to live with on a remote farm until her execution, and the young minister assigned to bring her redemption and salvation. Margaret, the mother of the family, is at first fearful, but comes to appreciate Agnes’ help and learns that there is more to the crime than first appears. We slowly discover Agnes’ brutal early life and what led to the murder of her employer. “To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.” The starkness of the setting and the beautiful prose set off this intriguing story based on an actual case.

Burial Rites is also available as a downloadable e-book.

                — Recommended by Ann Grilliot, Lawrence Library

 

March 9, 2015

Up, Up, & Away: The Kid, The Hawk, Rock, Wladi, Pedro, Le Grand Orange, Youppi!, The Crazy Business of Baseball, & the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos

Up, Up, & Away: The Kid, The Hawk, Rock, Wladi, Pedro, Le Grand Orange, Youppi!, The Crazy Business of Baseball, & the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos
by Keri, Jonah
796.35764 KER

The Montreal Expos played their final game of baseball in 2004, but the team lives on in Jonah Keri’s comprehensive history.

As a life-long fan of the Expos, Keri rehashes the highs and lows of the club’s 35 year history, allowing us to feel every triumph and heartbreak the way he did from his seat at Olympic Stadium. Even avid baseball fans may not know the unlikely story of how the Expos came to be the first Major League Baseball franchise based outside of the United States. Many may have forgotten the disappointment of the 1994 season, in which the Expos were leading the National League when a players’ strike ended the season prematurely. And while Hall of Famers like Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, and Randy Johnson may be household names for most baseball fans, many of those fans may not recall that those three players began their careers as Expos.

Though the Expos eventually left Canada and became the Washington Nationals, they left behind a legacy in Montreal that any fan of the team, or fan of baseball, will want to remember.

             — Recommended by Adam Todd, Spades Park Library

 

March 2, 2015

Girl In Translation

Girl In Translation
by Kwok, Jean
FIC KWO

This debut novel follows Kimberly Chang who moves to New York City from China eager to forge a new life. Almost immediately, she is forced to lead a secret double life when the house she and her mother were promised turns out to be a squalid Brooklyn apartment, and the "big American factory" is, in fact, a sweatshop. Distinguished student by day, Chinatown sweatshop worker by night, Kimberly faces the harsh realities of extreme poverty and the struggles of attempting to span two cultures. The author, herself an immigrant, details the lives of those like Kimberly who contend with language barriers, questions of identity and loyalty to family. A poignant story of heartache and hope, from a world that is most often shrouded in secrecy.

                 --Recommended by Jackie Kelly, Central Library