Staff Picks

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

October 21, 2013

The Luminaries

The Luminaries
by Catton, Eleanor

My girl has won! I gushed about The Luminaries, last month, in a Reader's Connection post; and now Eleanor Catton has won the Man Booker Prize.

She has called the novel an "astrological murder mystery," so the library may shelve it with mysteries. I think we should buy 12 copies for each branch, assign each copy to a different sign of the zodiac, and shelve them in the duodecimal sectors into which the branch has been divided.

If you don't have the stamina to click on the above link and go to my review, I'll tell you that the story is set during the New Zealand gold rush of the 1860's. One fellow has disappeared, another has died under suspicious circumstances, and twelve men have gathered to discuss what can be done about crimes that may have been committed. The novel is 800-some pages long, and as Alice Jones wrote in The Independent, "What sets it apart, and presumably dazzled the [Man Booker] judges, is its fiendishly intricate structure . . . "

At 28, Ms. Catton is the youngest author to ever win the Booker. I wish her a long and prolific life.

— Recommended by Glenn Halberstadt, Information Technology


October 14, 2013

Loving Frank

Loving Frank
by Horan, Nancy

Historical fiction well done. Author Nancy Horan tackles the scandalous love of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney. By writing as fiction, the author has the liberty to grace our characters with feeling and conversation, while Horan’s well-researched adherence to the very public couple’s tumultuous history makes the story seem more biography than fiction.

Frank and Mamah both fell in love and left their respective spouses and children for one another. Both knew what they wanted from life and were not to be bothered by the conventionalities of 1909 Chicago. After time in Europe, Frank designed their Wisconsin home, Taliesin. It was here, in 1914 that Mamah, her two children, and four others were murdered, as the home burned.

You can read many books about Frank Lloyd Wright, and in most, Mamah is but a footnote. The finest commendation for Loving Frank is that Mamah is given life again; and we as readers learn, she is a very modern woman, coping with the Gilded Age, and sometimes Frank.

— Recommended by Mike Hylton, Irvington Library


October 7, 2013

The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation

The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation
by Letts, Elizabeth
798.25079 LET

It must have been fate that brought Henry de Leyer and the horse he later named Snowman together. Henry was looking for a horse that he could use for riding lessons and was hoping to find one at the local auction. But Henry was late and only arrived in time to see the last horses being loaded on the truck headed for the slaughterhouse. As Henry looked over the sad lot he noticed a dirty, scarred plow horse looking steadily back at him. Something clicked and Henry bought the horse for $80.00.

This docile animal, who had only ever known a plow, soon exhibited a hidden talent – he could jump. De Leyer, who had been an equestrian in his native Holland before World War II, recognized the special gift his horse had and soon had Snowman entered in jumping competitions. Snowman and Henry rose through the rarified air of show jumping, ultimately competing in national shows usually dominated by the rich and privileged of society. Their symbiotic relationship proved what man and animal can accomplish when they combine their talent, skill and determination to achieve great things.

A documentary film on Snowman and Henry de Leyer is planned for release in late 2013.

                 — Recommended by Kim Vanderwilt, Lawrence Library


September 30, 2013

The Wave

The Wave
by Mosley, Walter

Errol Porter, a man down on his luck, happens to come across a man who resembles his late father when he was much younger. However, as he starts to interact with the stranger, Errol finds that stranger’s past and his father’s past seem to be an identical match. Errol ventures to uncover answers behind this particular mystery, but the adventure takes Errol down timeless paths and opens up ancient doors that Errol my not be ready to acknowledge.

— Recommended by Rodney Freeman, Spades Park Library


September 23, 2013

One Man's Paradise

One Man's Paradise
by Corleone, Douglas

Kevin Corvelli, a hotshot lawyer haunted by his failure to save an innocent man, escapes his life in New York and moves to Hawaii.  He rents a small office from a near-retirement lawyer, Jake, and plans to leave the high-profile cases back on the Mainland and now specialize in easy-peasy, slam-dunk, low-risk cases.  Before Kevin’s office furniture has even arrived, Jake reels him into representing a young man accused of killing his girlfriend.  For all the right reasons, of course, the $50,000 retainer having nothing to do with it.  Kevin has some trouble adjusting to the slow pace and easygoing nature of the Hawaiian culture, so investigating the crime and learning to navigate the Hawaii legal system is a challenge.  Corleone plays the brash New York attorney nicely against the people, culture, and land of Hawaii.  Corvelli is a fish out of water, but learning quickly to swim; his client’s life depends on it.  One Man’s Paradise is a pitch-perfect blend of wit, dialogue, setting, and plot.  One might even go so far as to say that, with this book, Corleone has made us an offer that we can’t refuse.

                                 — Recommended by Cheryl Holtsclaw, West Indianapolis Library