Staff Picks

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

December 16, 2013

Black Fridays

Black Fridays
by Sears, Michael

Since the 2008 Wall Street meltdown, there have been any number of books written about the hotshots, the wheeler-dealers, the sleight-of-hand masters who inhabit that world. In this entry, Sears—himself a 20-year veteran of those particular wars—introduces Jason Stafford, a one-time Wall Street star who took one too many chances and paid for it by way of two years in Ray Brook Prison. Now he’s out and trying to put his life back together. He manages to land a consulting job with a boutique firm looking into minor irregularities that have come to the attention of the SEC. But the bigger problem for Jason is getting his son back. The ex has taken “The Kid” back to live with her mother in Louisiana. Grandma is Southern Sweet, but, lacking the skills necessary for coping with an autistic boy, she keeps him locked in a room. Jason is determined that his son will have a better life; the problem is how an ex-con with limited options can make that happen. Compounding the problem, his investigation into the minor irregularities begins to spiral into something much bigger, which has the wrong people wanting to stifle Jason’s search for the truth. For all the power of Wall Street, the real story here is Jason’s struggle to make a better world for his son.

                              — Recommended by Cheryl Holtsclaw, West Indianapolis Library


December 2, 2013

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution
by Anderson, Chris
338.04 AND

So what is the difference between the “old” industrial revolution and the “new” industrial revolution? In the past in order to get something made it required a factory, lots of time and lots of man power. Now innovators are able to produce a product simply by using open-source designs, communal ideas, and a 3-D printer. That may sound very simplistic but the time between an initial idea and when it becomes available to the public has become drastically shortened. Anderson uses his vast knowledge and personal experience to chart a course for the next ten years. He feels that because of the networking effect of the web “Makers” can use file standards that allow anyone to design a product, send it to a commercial manufacturing service or fabricate it from their own desktop. This is the new way products will be developed and manufactured. Anderson feels we will not do away with large companies, just the monopoly the large companies used to enjoy. A very eye opening read.

               — Recommended by Lygia Bischoff, Pike Library


November 18, 2013

Still Life

Still Life
by Penny, Louise

When selecting a book for recommendation on the library web site, our guidelines encourage us to select something “to pique the interest of the reading public.” In other words, select a book that’s out of the ordinary, not necessarily a blockbuster bestseller. The mysteries in the Chief Inspector Gamache series by award-winning Canadian author Louise Penny are, in my opinion, definitely superior. I’ve just finished reading How the Light Gets In, the ninth book about the man who leads an elite group of homicide investigators in the Surete du Quebec. The adjectives that I would use to describe the book include original, complex, gripping, and satisfying. I had to restrain myself several times to keep from rushing ahead to see what was going to happen. Also, the characters are ones that I’ve come to care about during the course of the series. Gamache is strong, principled, and devoted to his colleagues, his family, and his friends in the almost magical village of Three Pines which is somewhere south of Montreal. This is where the reader meets him on his first case, and this is where you must begin with Louise Penny’s first Inspector Gamache book, Still Life.

In Still Life, school teacher Jane Neal is found dead in the woods near the village, and her death is assumed to be a hunting accident at first. But something is suspicious, and Inspector Gamache and his right hand man Inspector Beauvoir are called to Three Pines from the city to investigate. This is just the beginning of a great reading experience.

Click on the title link at the top of this review, and when the box opens, click where it says Excerpts, and you can read the opening passages of Still Life, which is as well-crafted as all of the others in the Gamache series. Most of the books in the series are available from the library in some alternative format--in large print, as downloadable audiobooks or e-books, or as audiobooks on CD.

                                   — Recommended by Georgia Silvers, Warren Library


November 4, 2013

Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941

Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941
by Olson, Lynne
940.531 OLS

Ms. Olson’s richly detailed story tells us of a Democrat re-elected to the Presidency by a big margin, along with an increased Congressional majority, whose conceit leads him to alienate the Congress. When the Supreme Court continually strikes down his New Deal programs as unconstitutional, he proposes to add six more (compliant) justices, but a Congress resentful of his arrogant behavior rejects his proposal overwhelmingly. Thus humbled, he tries never again to outpace public opinion, so when he wants to support the Allies fighting the Nazis, he moves slowly and relies on surrogates to make the public arguments.

Opposing him is the American hero, Charles Lindbergh, and on both sides are many interest groups, with members often changing sides. As Roosevelt runs for an unprecedented third term, outsiders including the German Embassy which secretly provided train tickets for isolationist delegates, manipulate both party nominating conventions and help to make it one of the nastiest election campaigns of the century.

Even after his re-election, Roosevelt continued leading from behind, frustrating his supporters after each bellicose speech by weeks of dithering without action despite Gallup polls showing majority support. In the end, only the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought us to war and united the country.

                                   — Recommended by Melinda Mullican, Wayne Library


October 28, 2013

The Professionals

The Professionals
by Laukkanen, Owen

It started as a joke.  Four college grads with no job prospects decide that their choices come down to robbing a bank or serving lattes.  Bank robbery being a risky and low-return-on-investment endeavor, they decide that ransoming the bankers themselves might be a better source of money.  But not for big bucks, that gets police involvement and media attention.  Fifty or sixty thousand dollars is chump change for these guys, so they’re unlikely to raise a ruckus or demand retribution.  The first time is a lark: Can we do it?  Then it’s: Can we do it again?  Until a couple of years go by and the four friends have a long string of successes, are halfway to their retirement goal.  But one day they kidnap the wrong man, one with mob connections, and, suddenly, the police aren’t their biggest worry.  Laukkanen has not only written a terrific book—the biggest problem I had with it was turning the pages fast enough to keep up with the story—but has also given a compelling illustration of how one bad decision can set events in motion from which there is no turning back.

— Recommended by Cheryl Holtsclaw, West Indianapolis Library