Susan's Staff Picks
"So much of what I love about reading is in this book – stimulating intellectually ( looking up some unknown words and also realizing that learning some Greek might be fun), stretching the imagination from the ancient world to futuristic space travel, touching on the questions of our responsibility for people, animals, plants and the earth itself.
The story is uncovered and moved along primarily by the questioning minds and needs of teenagers and their animal companions. The number of characters, time periods and story lines make this a challenging read but with an open mind and patience it is so worth it! I loved it and was in awe of how the lines merged and resolved even through the desperate times some of the characters experienced. Anthony Doerr said “primarily this is a book about our planet – in itself a vast library – and the stories that connect us."
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"When the shoe dropped into her lap the foot was still in it" is the first line of this novel. Newman has thrown down the challenge. Could you read this line and then calmly put the book down? I couldn't and so I began the roller coaster ride with one drop after another as Captain Bill Hoffman is faced with an impossible choice while flying a commercial plane. We are introduced to a good man who seems to be forced into a decision with only terrible results. If you like suspense but are tired of guessing the conclusion early in the story then please read this book. You won't be disappointed."
"Garrett Kohl is a native Texan but living with his father and older brother became untenable after his mother died so he left home, joined the military and eventually became a DEA agent. Following a difficult mission in Afghanistan he needs to hide a young boy and he takes him home to Texas. There he finds another situation and he now is protecting a boy and protecting his family and their ranch. If you have read any C.J. Box books you will like learning about the High Plains of Texas, the beauty of the land and the strength of the people who live there. This is a fast paced story incorporating much of the traditional western but also adding in contemporary criminals who underestimate the strength and resources that Texans have needed to survive. I will be looking forward to more of Garrett Kohl and his family."
"Krueger has written a few books about the old forest and lakes in Aurora, Minnesota where Cork O'Connor is now the retired sheriff but in Lightning Strike he has taken us back to meet 12 year old Cork. That summer Cork and a friend were the first to find a body hanging in an logging camp - a respected Ojibway from the community. Though it looks like a possible suicide Cork's dad, the current sheriff is not convinced. While Cork's mom is part Ojibway, his dad is not and the other members of the tribe do not usually confide in him or trust him. Cork lives in both worlds and so becomes his dad's helper. It is the summer that changes him and his relationship to his father. It is the beginning of his life protecting and serving in his community. This is a well written coming-of-age story about a man we thought we knew. This story paints his life as a whole picture."
"This is a small book with a large message. Junger walked 400 miles along the railroad tracks in the Northeast – much of it in PA. Four friends joined him for all or part of the journey. As he wrote about this experience he interspersed walking information with history – of the railroad building, of the Native Americans who originally travelled the valleys and paths through the mountains. He discusses the philosophy of what it means to be free. The men carried everything they needed, occasionally stopping in small towns for breakfast at a local diner and to replenish supplies. They relied on each other and on their knowledge, experience and ingenuity. Junger’s writing is informative, thought-provoking and often surprising in the ideas he melds together. Good reading!!"
"While many novels reveal the story in bits and pieces, they usually narrow at some point to draw the reader toward the conclusion (or back to the beginning). We begin with 13 year old Duchess Ray Radley, caretaker of her 5 year old brother and her mother, Star. She is a self-proclaimed outlaw, doing whatever she deems neccessary to care for her family. Mystery, drama, revenge, corruption, love, strength, and commitment all play a part as Duchess' story circles around her past and her present until pieces are finally drawn together. What we liked best about this story is that on its way to completion each twist is less a reveal and more a widening, leading to its excellent and profound end."
"As we become increasingly aware of the changes in our physical world, scientists, environmental activists, young people and writers of both fiction and non-fiction have been addressing the problems. McConaghy’s debut novel charted the migration route of arctic terns and their search for fish as they flew from Greenland to the Antarctic. In this novel Inti Flynn and her team are introducing gray wolves to the remote Scottish Highlands in the hopes that the wolves will establish dens and territories, restore much of the landscape lost to overwhelming numbers of smaller animals and the overgrazing of unrestricted domestic animals. This was done successfully in the western US. The backstories of the local people, the team members and the wolves are all explored by McConaghy as the tension grows. Well written, intriguing and thought provoking."
"Jack, a young cowboy and expert fly fisherman, is hired by the Kingfisher Lodge to be one of the fishing guides for their elite customers. He is hoping to escape into the peace of fishing. His first client is a well-known singer who is a good fly fisherman and is comfortable in the mountain environment. Should be a good experience but separately and then together they realize that Kingfisher Lodge is not the calm setting each had hoped for but instead is hiding inconsistencies, mysteries and terror. Peter Heller’s love of nature is evident in his excellent writing. Places come alive; details resonate with truth. He then brings conflict and violence into that beautiful scene. Well done!"
"Confusion reigns and encompasses Windsor Horne Lockwood III (Win), who is only a fan of confusion when he causes it. His customary plan is to deliver justice without regard to due process but now he has a twofold purpose, deliver justice and discover and protect the hidden truths within his own family. It is never good to learn that your family has been lying and hiding things for years.
This is fast-paced, complex, violent and entertaining story."
"It is 1938 and Reno Nevada is quickly becoming the divorce capitol of the country. Wealthy women that they must 'reside' in the state for six weeks before their divorce can be finalized. Some choose to stay at one of the dude ranches where they can be pampered and yet be as involved as they might choose in riding or hiking and exploring.
Ward is now working at one of those ranches - he eminently qualified. He grew up in a wealthy family until they lost their money and he spent a year at Yale. This is his story of one summer on the ranch and a few of the women he met - one of who he loved.
A slice of American history, one summer in Reno, Nevada, and the repercussions that rolled on through the years."
"In the beginning pages Melody writes 'Look at ne on the last day in May. Finally sixteen and the moment like a hand holding me out to the world.' Born to a sixteen year old mother whose unworn dress lays on the bed ready to be worn, Melody puts on the dress and in some ways also puts on the expectations of her college educated grandparents who believe she will carry on the family legacy of attending her grandmother's college and becoming an educated black woman in their Brooklyn community.
Through the ensuing pages, Melody shares the pieces of her story. Her father gave up his dreams to raise her as they lived with her maternal grandparents; her mother left for a non-legacy college to find her own dream. Family history has given her much to process as she weaves her current story with their past.
Excellent writing, a great character development, and an understanding of different choice and where they might lead."
"Though I am not a McConaughey fan, this book looked interesting so I picked it up, read a little bit and bought it. Though I was not a fan when I began the book, I am a fan now! I will keep it and probably re-read it. It is that interesting and thought-provoking.
I don't believe I can say it better than Matthew wrote on the book jacket. I found depths and dimensions in McConaughey that I would have never suspected. There are humorous ancedotes, stories of failures and problems, recounting of adventures that most of us only dream of and/or might not have the courage to pursue. The man behind the movies is much more interesting than his Hollywood persona would indicate.
I highly recommend this book."