Staff Choices

Posted by bpardue on 02/12/19
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Into the early 1990s, it was hard to believe that England was the land where soccer (football!) was invented. The top English teams were run by old-boy owners at a loss, games were played in decrepit stadiums in squalid conditions, and you couldn't even watch a game live on TV. All that changed in 1992, when a handful of owners got the bright idea that soccer could actually be a profitable game, and that a top-flight league could provide attractive, family-friendly and TV-ready entertainment--as with America's NFL. Soon, a new "Premier League" was hastily assembled, based on a handful of bylaws, and the ball was set rolling for a bright new future. Then a new TV contract was worked out, and the cash really started flowing. Of course, once the league started making money, new investors took interest, especially from abroad--wealthy Americans, Russian oil barons and an Abu Dhabi royal family member, among others. With hyper-wealthy owners and no spending cap, player salaries skyrocketed, and soon Premier League teams were plucking the finest players and coaches from around the world. "The Club" is slight on soccer details and tactics, but provides a fascinating inside look at the Premier League's growth from a neglected property to one of the world's most powerful and disruptive sports/entertainment juggernauts. A quick read with plenty of colorful characters, the book will appeal to even non-soccer fans.
Posted by jlasky on 02/08/19
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With incredible detail, Michael Ondaatje carefully lays out the mysterious story of the childhood of Agnes and Nathaniel. In post WWII London, the adolescents are left by their parents, in the hands of eccentric and possibly nefarious family friends, who take the children on covert nighttime river excursions into the underbelly of post war society.

It is not until a decade later that Nathaniel begins to unravel his mother's secret life during the war, as well as the lives of the characters that spent time at the family home during that time.

Warlight comes from a term used during London blackouts for the dimmed lights of essential vehicles, which plays right into the dark  atmosphere Ondaatje creates. A haunting character-driven novel that offers an unusual view of the many underworlds at work during war.
Posted by Alisa S on 02/08/19
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Set against the backdrop of Apartheid South Africa, Bianca Marais' Hum If  You Don’t Know The Words is a story of love and friendship between an orphaned
white girl and the grieving black woman who becomes her caretaker. After young Robin has lost her parents to an act of violence, she comes to live with her loving but irresponsible aunt. Meanwhile, village dweller Beauty Mbali arrives in Johannesburg to search for her daughter, a student  who has gone missing in the chaos of the Soweto Uprising of 1976.  A sympathetic friend finds Beauty a position as Robin’s nanny, and the two must grow to trust one another under very frightening circumstances.
This story is both moving and suspenseful.  While the action occurs over forty years ago, the themes of racism and redemption are more relevant now than ever.
Posted by NealP on 02/04/19
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Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer remains one of my favorite books from 2018.
McNamara died tragically in 2016 prior to completion of the book, and the arrest of the GSK -- a result of a DNA link from a relative’s genetic genealogical test.  The book is dark and terrifying, but skillfully written by McNamara who mindfully humanizes the killer’s victims. 
The book itself will appeal to fans of true crime and mystery, but in McNamara’s hands she elevates the story beyond strict genre study.  I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is more than a detective story – McNamara traces changing forensic techniques through multi-decade investigations, but never loses focus of the killer, victims, investigators, and witnesses.  Readers with an interest in human nature, crime, and investigative dramas will enjoy this work.
We will be discussing I’ll Be Gone in the Dark at our next Books and Brews at Eddie’s on February 13th.  Please feel free to join us.
True Crime
Posted by jonf on 02/03/19
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This is the 18th book in the Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady series by J.A. Jance. Joanna is on maternity leave and in her absence Tom Hadlock has taken over her duties. Her leave is shortened when a local boy Jack find a skull in the desert along with a field of bones. After a body of another young woman is found in the same area it becomes clear there maybe a serial killer loose.
Sheriff Brady calls in help from an F.B.I. profiler and the manhunt is on. The killer, known as the Boss is a truly creepy antagonist. The book starts a little slower than some of her earlier works but picks up the pace for an exciting thriller.
This is a well written series, but if you have not read any it would be best to start with one of the earlier books in the series.
Field of Bones is filled with many good characters and a great feel for the Arizona desert.
Posted by SherriT on 01/19/19
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Lyndsay Faye's book The Paragon Hotel begins in the year 1921 with a young, white Alice “Nobody” James running from her ties in NYC and from the mafia. Aboard a train bound for Portland, she befriends a black Pullman porter named Max who finds her story, life and run-ins captivating. Once in Portland, he takes her to The Paragon Hotel, an all-black residence in the city. Alice soon comes to realize that the crime on the west coast is just as troubling as the east coast when she discovers her new city is a stomping ground for the Klu Klux Klan. As a woman running from the New York mafia, she finds herself a new family of sorts and learns about the many faces of evil and love.

This was a compelling and entertaining historical fiction story about a difficult time in America's past told by a perceptive and likable main character. With a cast of colorful, tenacious supporting characters and a narrative so full of friendship and love, mystery and intrigue, this book is sure to be your first hit of 2019.
Posted by Lucy S on 01/17/19
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Maurice Swift wants to be a writer, but he doesn’t have an original idea in his head. He goes about achieving this fiercely desired stature of novelist by shallowly playing up his good looks, targeting those he feels will help him in a calculating and unscrupulous way. Men and women fall into his orbit as he insinuates himself into their lives. He is ambitious, self-absorbed, secretive and devious with detestable motives. How author John Boyne’s storyline unfolds is well-written, filled with wry wit and clever dialogue with an unlikeable main character who lacks decency and morals. Lured into the story, I kept wondering how his twisted masquerade would end. 
A Ladder To The Sky at 362 pages runs a little long but it certainly captured my attention with hints of The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith.
Posted by jlasky on 12/31/18
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 Based in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood in 1985, Chicago author Rebecca Makkai tells a heartbreaking story about the AIDS epidemic. Working with a paired storyline thirty years later in France, Fiona, a woman in grief has been an intimate witness to the losses through her beloved brother and his friends. A photographer from that social circle, comes back into her life as she  is trying desperately to find and save her estranged daughter.
The richly developed characters in The Great Believers, will make you want to turn back time and guide them to a different ending. The staggering number of those who were lost, and what could have been will stay with you long after you finish the book.
Posted by Alisa S on 12/26/18
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It is always a pleasure to discover a new mystery series that is not only well plotted but features engaging characters, and
The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan, while only first in a planned series, holds much promise. This debut, set in both gritty Galway and the more bucolic Irish countryside, follows police detective Cormac Reilly as he tries to unravel a cold case involving a suspicious death that haunts him years later. 
McTiernan, a former Irish lawyer now residing in Australia, has drawn comparisons to fellow Irish crime writer Tana French. The Ruin, with its complex characters, page-turning mystery, and evocative sense of place,  proves that McTiernan is worthy of this comparison. 
Posted by Lucy S on 12/20/18
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Entrepreneur, author and independent shopkeeper Lisa Ludwinski is making a difference at Sister Pie Bakery located within Detroit, a city that has been buffeted with financial and community woes. Her business model is worthy of admiration. She follows a triple-bottom-line business ethic of working to support her employees, the environment and the economy including a “pie-it-forward” program. A deep sense of place and pride is felt through the beautifully photographed pages. Each recipe has a narrative of how it came to be.

Check out Sister Pie if you would like to experiment with new savory and pastry recipes with unusual flavor combinations and to be encouraged to use good quality ingredients. I made the buckwheat chocolate chip cookie recipe without telling my family it was gluten free – no complaints were heard. A wonderful example of someone following their passion, translating it into a successful career.
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