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Staff Picks 2010
A deliciously creepy ghost story set on a fictional island in Lake Superior The first novel by Webb, a Duluth resident. Carol & Alene
Lisbeth Salander is back, her fierceness and survivalist instinct renewed in this third and final book in Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. More than ever, it looks like Salander is caught between a rock and a hard place. While she fights for her life in the hospital, only a few doors down from her father, her mortal enemy (who she almost, but not quite, managed to kill), trusty friend and journalist Michael Blomqvist and Salander’s posse of computer anarchist friends work hard on her behalf to prove her innocence in the three killings for which she is wanted. Eva, Carol, & Kathy
The newest in the marvelous Maisie Dobbs mystery series. Carol
The first novel by Kathryn Stockett is about African American maids in 1960 Jackson, Mississippi. Her writing is smooth, fresh and poetic. Add to this a lovely complexity – nothing is simply black or white in Stockett’s world - and you have a book which is almost impossible to put down. This is a reading club book if I ever saw one, and a joyfully good read that leaves you thinking. Eva (& Carol--and it's finally in paperback!)
I loved this riveting account of the development of antibiotics during WWII, which was overlaid with a fictional love & suspense story. Alene
The newest mystery featuring Joe Pickett has him confronting terrifying situations in the mountains of Wyoming. Yet, nothing is really black or white, good or evil, which is one of the things I enjoy with this series. Carol
In Purge, Finish writer Oksanen gives us a new angle on WWII atrocities. Oksanen reveals a torn Eastern Europe where some people committed horrible acts during the war just to survive, and others committed horrible acts because they could. Now, in present day Estonia, those actions resurface. Oksanen’s writing is strong and the mystery plot keeps the readers on their toes, but Purge also leaves the readers feeling they have learned something very important. Eva
The synopsis on the book tells you nothing, and I don’t think I’ll tell you much more, other than this is an excellent read about a young Nigerian refugee and the British couple she encounters.
A moving story about a man and his dog Stella, who is currently the best thing in his life and offers him advice as he navigates his shaky mid-life.
Remember Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow hitting the New York Times’ best-seller list about twenty years ago, and staying on it for 45 weeks? Now, the sequel, Innocent, is here. Judge Sabich and prosecutor Tommy Molto are back at it again in a complex drama that keeps turning in unexpected ways. A page turner, it is also a book to read carefully, savoring every page. Eva & Carol
Yes, it’s another vampire book—but it reads just like one of your favorite thrillers. Nathaniel Cade (the vampire) has been the Presidents’ secret service agent since Andrew Johnson. A fun read! Carol
After reading Jackson’s Gods in Alabama, I became a fan, and so right away picked up her newest book. Rose Mae Lally, who is locked in an abusive marriage, feels there is only one way out. In an unusual meeting she meets her mother, absent since Rose was a little girl. Jackson had me wrapped in suspense until the very end. Kathy
This big book is a little sci fi, a little fantasy, and a lot thriller, covering 100 years time. You start with a virus which might cure diseases and be the fountain of youth—and, of course, the military has other plans for it. Add a young girl whose destiny is to save the world, a caring FBI agent, and a group of survivors in a FEMA encampment and you’ll be up late reading the first in a planned trilogy. Carol
Conroy’s writing is always rich and atmospheric, and in South of Broad, Charleston, S.C. is as much a character as the people. And Leopold Bloom King is a most engaging character. The story moves from Leo meeting his quirky group of friends in high school to 20 years later, when tragedy brings them together again. Carol
This is Green Bay native Somerville’s first novel and it arrived to critical acclaim. A pregnant wife sends Matthew off to find her old cradle, and he finds much more than he bargained for. A moving story of what it means to be a family. Carol
This is possibly the best book I have read all year. While the beginning – a young child contemplating her impending suicide because the world is rotten –may not sound uplifting, the book is lovely, positive, and restores your faith in humanity. Eva (& Carol)
A little girl is left on a ship bound for Australia in the early 1900’s and is adopted by the port master when no one claims her. As an adult she learns of her mysterious beginning and sets out to find out who her parents are. The storytelling shifts back and forth in time and from one voice to another, including her granddaughter, who gets caught up in the mystery.
Janzen leaves her husband and returns to her Mennonite family to regroup. Moving and funny—I would like to hang out with the author. Carol
Another protagonist with mysterious origins, Julie, tells this fun story of historical fiction, a current day mystery, and romance. Julie may be related to the historical Giulietta, who was the basis for Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, and that may also put her life in danger. Most of the action takes place in Italy, whether in the present or the 1300’s . Carol
Franzen presents a new family drama. And as in The Corrections, he builds a truly believable world where we can all identify with his oh so flawed characters. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
This is her second mystery, set in Ireland, and again featuring Cassie Maddox. An intriguingly different mystery, and customers tell me I must now read her first—Into the Woods. Carol
I enjoy a good memoir and Spoon Fed is just that. Severson is the food editor with the New York Times, and in her memoir she describes how 8 cooks saved her life. Spoon Fed has a local flavor, since the author has relatives in the Cumberland area and also spent summers there. Kathy
A great thriller—I’ve found a new author Norm
Here the Dalai Lama shares the very beginning of his life journey, how he came to be selected as the great spiritual leader of his country, the horrific massacre by the Chinese and his subsequent exile. Beautiful and thought provoking. Eva
An incredibly moving and very readable novel about early onset Alzheimer’s. It is a scary prospect for all of us, but in the end, Alice is still there. Carol & Kathy
In the San Francisco area we find two sisters who couldn’t be more different—one is at the head of a new dot-com about to go public at the height of the boom, the other is a student at Berkley involved in a movement to save the giant Redwoods. And then there’s the cookbook collection that becomes available to her boss at a used bookstore. This does all come together in showing us how important it is to hold onto what is real in a rapidly changing and sometimes virtual world. Carol
A historical novel about the Velodrome de Hiver roundup of families in Paris. This is the story of one child survivor and a present day journalist covering the not so well known atrocity—a riveting read. Kathy
A rich book about Russian ballerinas & other artists during the Stalin era. The telling of their story in Moscow alternates with a major auction of the jewelry collection of Nina Revskaya, who defected to the West, and with a Harvard professor’s search for his parents (which seems to be a theme in my reading this past fall!). Carol
This mystery is quirky & darkly comic in the way only British mysteries seem to be. It introduces the precocious 11 year old sleuth/ chemist Flavia, who could be the child of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. When her father is implicated in a murder, she sets out to investigate. Who knew philately could be so dangerous—the postage stamp as early terrorist weapon? Carol