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Staff Recommendations


  • The improbability principle : why coincidences, miracles, and rare events happen every day

    by Hand, D. J. (David J.), 1950-

    Reviewed by: Bob Timmermann, Senior Librarian, Science, Technology & Patents Dept.

    February 24, 2014

    Call Number: 519 H236

    On April 23, 1999, Fernando Tatis of the St. Louis Cardinals hit a
    grand slam home run against Chan Ho Park of the Dodgers. That's not an
    overly rare event. However, Tatis didn't hit just one grand slam off
    of Park. He hit TWO. And they were in the same inning. No Major League
    player had ever done this before and no one has done it since. The
    chances of being a witness to such a thing must be so high to make it
    unlikely that anyone would ever see it. And yet it happened.

    David Hand's book The Improbability Principle tries to explain... Read Full Review

  • A star for Mrs. Blake

    by Smith, April, 1949-

    Reviewed by: Janice Batzdorff, Librarian

    February 16, 2014

    When U.S. soldiers died during the First World War, their relatives were given the choice to have the remains shipped home or buried in an American cemetery in Europe. A lobbying movement on behalf of those who selected overseas interment resulted in Congress financing close to 7000 pilgrimages for mothers and wives to visit the graves.

    Inspired by the diary of a young West Point graduate who escorted groups of mothers to France, local writer April Smith has created a well-researched and engaging fictional account of five women who left their homes during the height of the Depression... Read Full Review

  • Under the wire : Marie Colvin's final assignment

    by Conroy, Paul,

    Reviewed by: Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Central Library

    February 10, 2014

    Call Number: 071.092 C727Co

    "Where are all the men?" the editor asked Marie Colvin, who would not abandon hundreds of refugees in war-ravaged East Timor, and answered, "I suppose they just don't make men like they used to." They may not make war journalists, male or female, to match the likes of Marie Colvin who was one of the greats and valued as such by her colleagues. 

    International photographer Paul Conroy recounts the reporting he and Marie Colvin did in 2012 in the Baba Amr section of Homs, Syria which was known for its support of... Read Full Review

  • The crane wife : a novel

    by Ness, Patrick, 1971-

    Reviewed by: LAPL Staff, Librarian

    February 3, 2014

    Patrick Ness, who has been writing marvelous young adult fiction for several years now, has written his first adult novel, The Crane Wife, and it's a lovely book.

    George is a middle-aged divorced man who runs a small printing shop in London. He’s a quiet, pleasant man, the sort you wouldn’t notice if you passed him on the street. That affability is starting to work against him, though; he’s so genially low-key that he doesn’t inspire much passion in anyone (or have much passion about anything), and women rarely get beyond seeing him as a good... Read Full Review

  • All in one basket

    by Devonshire, Deborah Vivien Freeman-Mitford Cavendish, Duchess of, 1920-

    Reviewed by: Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Central Library

    January 28, 2014

    Call Number: 942.51 D511-6

    Deborah Vivien Freeman-Mitford Cavendish, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, is the youngest of the Mitford sisters whose interests and social views were all over the political compass. One sister was a Communist; one sister and her husband were imprisoned during World War II for their fascist views and overtly supporting the Nazis; several other siblings were unofficial supporters of fascist politics; and two others preferred the agrarian life. As a child, the Duchess was tormented and teased by her older sisters who called her Nine because they thought her intellectual development stopped at... Read Full Review

  • The human division

    by Scalzi, John, 1969-

    January 13, 2014

    Call Number: SF

    When we last left the Colonial Union (CU)--the human political/military force in John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War series--things were in a bit of a mess. Since there is no way to describe this mess without giving away the ending to the last books in the series (The Last Colony and Zoe’s Tale), mess will simply have to suffice to describe the difficulties facing the CU (some of their own making and some issuing from their rival, The Conclave). In The Human Division, Scalzi takes us back to the Colonial Union to see how it is dealing with these... Read Full Review

  • Midnight in Mexico : a reporter's journey through a country's descent into the darkness

    by Corchado, Alfredo.

    Reviewed by: Eileen Ybarra, Librarian III, Electronic Resources

    January 6, 2014

    Call Number: 351.7650972 C793

    This book is an intriguing mix of personal memoir, Mexican drug trade reporting, and a historical overview of Mexico in the late 20th century. This book is also much more than those things too: the author, Alfredo Corchado, navigates his heartache and longing for a Mexico that no longer exists, a place where he was born and where his family decided to leave in order to find a better life in the U.S. when he was just a child.  Interwoven throughout these explorations of U.S. and Mexican identities and histories, there is this alarming fact that kicks off the book: ... Read Full Review

  • The mayor of MacDougal Street : a memoir

    by Van Ronk, Dave.

    Reviewed by: David B., Librarian, InfoNow

    December 31, 2013

    Call Number: 789.14 V275

    The inspiration for the new Coen brothers film, Inside Llewyn Davis, Dave Van Ronk (1936-2002), was the unofficial leader of the Greenwich Village folk music scene in the late fifties and early sixties. Unlike most of the New York-based performers, Van Ronk was a New York native who grew up in Queens and Brooklyn. He developed a love for jazz and blues at a young age, and frequented the Washington Square Park folk singing sessions. Though he had seen very little of the country until he was in his twenties, Van Ronk became deeply enamored of music from the American heartland.

    ... Read Full Review

  • Stoker's manuscript

    by Prouty, Royce.

    December 23, 2013

    When is a risk too great? Even when the possible rewards are tempting? How do you decide? Who’s council do you seek? And what do you do, if after all the consideration and deliberation, you find that you’ve chosen poorly and the costs are higher than you could have possibly imagined? These are just some of the questions explored in Stoker’s Manuscript by Royce Prouty.

    Joseph Barkeley leads a comfortable life after a rocky childhood. He and his brother were orphaned in their native Romania after their father murdered their mother. They were rescued from an... Read Full Review

  • Hellraisers : the life and inebriated times of Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole, and Oliver Reed

    by Sellers, Robert.

    Reviewed by: Sheryn Morris, Librarian, Central Library

    December 16, 2013

    Call Number: 822.09 S467

    When this book was published in 2009, Peter O'Toole was, as noted in the title of the last chapter, "Last Man Standing," and now all four men are gone.  This is about how four handsome, enormously talented men who caroused away their assets with alcohol, drugs, gambling, scores of women, and behavior so outrageous, even compared with today's tell-and-show-all celebrity antics, that at relatively early ages they were shells of what they had been--robust manly men.  Quite frankly and openly they did not... Read Full Review

  • Quintessence

    by Walton, David, 1975-

    December 9, 2013

    What if Magellan was wrong and the world is FLAT? What if the earth really is a flat disc covered by a dome that houses the moon, stars and the sun? And those celestial objects are made of something known as “quintessence.” Quintessence is an alchemist’s dream! It allows for any of a number of transmutations to occur, and may even hold the power to bring the dead back to life. But it is also highly theoretical. Would the possible risks outweigh the potential rewards in pursuing the use of such a substance? How far would you go, and what would you risk, if you really could... Read Full Review

  • Lookaway, lookaway

    by Barnhardt, Wilton.

    Reviewed by: LAPL Staff, Librarian

    December 2, 2013

    Wilton Barnhardt's Lookaway, Lookaway is a marvelous novel, following one family over the course of a decade as scandals unfold, financial fortunes rise and fall, and secrets (old and new) are revealed.

    The Johnstons are one of the most respected families in Charlotte. Duke's a former city councilman; his wife, Jerene, manages the family art collection for the city's museum. Jerene's brother, Gaston, writes a popular series of Civil War romances (though the critics wish he'd kept writing the more respectable, if less commercial, literary fiction with... Read Full Review