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Staff Pick: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Picture of CynthiaMedieval historian-turned-mortician Caitlin Doughty brings a unique blend of historical perspective, practical training, and newbie experiences to her exploration of modern death in the U.S.  The essays in Smoke Gets in Your Eyes include some gory details, but also honest accounts of a new mortician sometimes fumbling her way in the space after death.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on April 28, 2015 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Picks by Cynthia, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: Now, Voyager

Cover of Now VoyagerDiane of Fiction/AV/Teen services suggests Now, Voyager

Hollywood cranked out women’s pictures, or weepies, with excessive emotional fervor from the 1930s to 1950s. For many historians, 1942’s Now, Voyager starring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains, is the definitive weepie. Davis portrays Charlotte Vale, a dowdy Boston spinster, oppressed and driven to a nervous breakdown by a domineering mother. She recovers with the help of a kindly psychiatrist, played by Claude Rains, who runs a mental health sanitarium. After leaving the doctor’s care, Charlotte takes an ocean voyage where she finds self-confidence and love through a romance with an unhappily-married man, played by Paul Henreid, and ends up taking his emotionally troubled daughter under her wing.

 

For more movies featuring Bette Davis as the headstrong lead try

Cover of Dark Victory
Dark Victory follows the life of a fast moving Long Island socialite who skids to a stop when she discovers that she has less than a year to live.

Cover of The Letter
Set on a rubber plantation in Malaya, The Letter centers on a woman’s reasons for killing a man who was a close family friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover of The Old MaidHeadstrong, beautiful Tina has nothing but disdain for her Aunt Charlotte, in The Old Maid, but unloved, unlovable Aunt Charlotte is really Tina’s mother, whose romance with a Civil War soldier that didn’t return resulted in Tina’s birth.

Cover of Deception
World War II has separated pianist Christine Radcliffe from her great love, cellist Karel Novak. Thinking Karel has been killed in action, she is unexpectedly reunited with him. Pulling off the ultimate Deception, she’ll lie to keep her shameful past as the mistress of a wealthy composer a secret.

Cover of The Great Lie
In The Great Lie, tempestuous and ambitious concert pianist Sandra shares a bond with down-to-earth Maggie and her little boy, Pete. No one knows that Pete is Sandra’s son – the son of the heroic aviator both women love.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on April 27, 2015 Categories: Movies and TV, Picks by Diane, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: From the Land of the Moon by Milena Agus

Picture of JennyThis poetic gem translated from Italian is weighted with sorrow. Written in flashbacks spanning three generations, a girl shares the story of her Sardinian grandmother who has been in search for perfect love and declared mad as a result. Milena Agus’ From the Land of the Moon is a study of unreliable narrators, misunderstanding, and the reaches of the heart.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on April 21, 2015 Categories: Books, Literary, Picks by Jenny, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

Picture of ColleenThe Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly on audiobook will appeal to almost anyone! Narrator Adam Grupper becomes main character, Mickey Haller, and brings non-stop action into this courtroom drama. His character voicing and pacing elevate this audio to an easy listen whether you are new to audiobooks or an avid listener.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on April 14, 2015 Categories: Audiobooks, Picks by Colleen, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: Carnet de Voyage by Craig Thompson

Cathleen staff picks photoPaging through Carnet de Voyage is like a virtual backpack trip through Europe and Morocco. Craig Thompson’s sketchbook travel diary depicts in simple yet telling detail the moments, individuals, and local color that made indelible impressions on him during a combination book tour and search for exotic new inspiration.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on April 7, 2015 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Picks by Cathleen, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: The Children of Huang Shi

Picture of JoyceFind a hero in The Children of Huang Shi ! This true story takes journalist George Hogg behind the lines in war-torn China. With the help of a partisan leader, an Australian nurse, and a former aristocrat, Hogg attempts to save 60 orphans through their perilous trek over the mountains.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 31, 2015 Categories: Movies and TV, Picks by Joyce, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

Cover of The Hundred Year HouseNancy of Fiction/AV/Teen Services suggests The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai

Laurelfield, a grand old estate north of Chicago, is the centerpiece of Rebecca Makkai’s clever novel. The book begins in 1999 with descendants of the well-heeled Devohr family. Zee Devohr and her husband Doug, both academics, are living temporarily in the coach house. Doug hopes to do research on an obscure poet who lived at Laurelfield when it was an artists’ colony in the 1920s, but Zee’s mother is surprisingly protective of whatever files and artifacts might be in the attic. The narrative travels backward in time, leaping to 1955, 1929, and 1900, revealing Laurelfield’s complicated past and its eccentric occupants. In this reverse chronological order, echoes from the past – and future – are well crafted, and the engaged reader will be rewarded. With its rich detail, fine prose, and dark humor, The Hundred Year House is a unique and satisfying read.

 

For more eccentric characters in grand settings, try…

Cover of The Last Summer of the Camperdowns
The Last Summer of the Camperdowns by Elizabeth Kelly is the rollicking novel about a 12-year-old girl’s eventful summer of 1972 on her dysfunctional family’s Cape Cod compound.

Cover of Rooms
In Lauren Oliver’s suspenseful novel Rooms, a troubled family arrives at the mansion of their estranged, recently deceased patriarch, but find there are ghosts too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover of Bellweather Rhapsody
In the witty Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia, talented high school musicians and their chaperones descend upon a huge, once-grand hotel in the Catskills for a music festival on the anniversary of a shocking crime.

Cover of A Sudden Light
Set in a haunted mansion in the Pacific Northwest, A Sudden Light by Garth Stein is an atmospheric novel narrated by a 14-year-old boy who embarks on a quest to learn more about the house and his family’s secrets.

Cover of An Evening of Long Goodbyes
An Evening of Long Goodbyes by Paul Murray features colorful characters at a crumbling seaside estate near Dublin, where the cozy existence of 24-year-old Charles is about to be given a serious shake-up.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 26, 2015 Categories: Books, Picks by Nancy, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: Elizabeth and Hazel by David Margolick

Picture of LarryDavid Margolick describes the lives of two girls in the famous photograph from Little Rock Central High School’s desegregation in 1957: a stoic African-American girl walking on the first day of school followed by a white girl, her face distorted as she screams racial epithets. Elizabeth and Hazel is a thought provoking and memorable exploration of how this experience affected their lives in attempts to reconcile the painful, traumatic experience within themselves and with each other.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 24, 2015 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Picks by Larry, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

Picture of MartaAddie Baum, The Boston Girl, recalls her life story to granddaughter Ava. Born in 1900 and saddled with a difficult mother, Addie must overcome poverty, gender roles, and lack of education. Author Anita Diamant has created a lovable character who peppers serious subjects with humorous asides and grandmotherly advice.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 17, 2015 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, Picks by Marta, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: Dazed and Confused

Picture of DianeIt’s 1976, the last day of school in Austin, Texas, the music is rocking, the keg is tapped, and Matthew McConaughey is “All right, all right, all right.”  Join the party in Dazed and Confused, the coming of age cult comedy film written and directed by Boyhood’s Richard Linklater.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 10, 2015 Categories: Movies and TV, Picks by Diane, Staff Picks