Ames Public Library's Reading Connection
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Ames Public Library's Reading Connection
Left Corner

Staff Picks 2006, Issue 2

Left Corner

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
by Michael Chabon (CHA)

Chabon uses his prodigious gifts for language to examine the humor and tragedy in love, family and friendship during the golden age of the American superhero comic book. This epic novel tells the fictional history of the partnership between cousins Sammy Klayman and Josef Kavalier, creators of a prewar masked comic book hero, The Escapist.

- Cathy

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (KIN)

Raised by a single mother in Pittnam, Kentucky, Marietta Greer is determined not to get pregnant and to leave home as soon as possible. Her trip west leads to dramatic changes in her personal life. She assumes a new first name and takes responsibility for a 3-year old girl left in her car by a frantic woman. She and the child establish a new family with a recently abandoned woman and her newborn and a widow who runs a sanctuary for refugees fleeing political horrors in Guatemala.

- Sara

Bombay Time by Thrity Umrigar (UMR)

Set in contemporary Bombay, Umrigar's first novel is about the Parsi community that came to India from Iran hundreds of years ago. Financially successful and able to maintain their Zoroastrian religion and Persian culture amidst the dominant Hindu and Muslim populations of the city, the Parsis stand out in a city of mass poverty. Tensions both inside and outside of the community are evident as Parsi apartment house residents relate their stories during the wedding of one of their own.

- Janet

The Children of Men by P.D. James (SF JAM)

Famous mystery writer P.D. James takes a departure from detectives to create a dystopic novel of England in 2021. The society she imagines has no future as the last birth occurred in 1995. The unlikely hero of this cautionary tale is a middle-aged Oxford professor who falls in with a group of dissidents on a thrilling adventure to bring down the tyrannical ruler.

- Dawn

The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck
by Don Rosa (Adult Graphic Novel ROS)

Discover the true story of the world's richest duck, from his impoverished early years in Scotland to his adventures as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River and a cowboy in the Dakota Badlands, until he finally strikes it rich in the Klondike. Don Rosa works from the pioneering comic books written and drawn by Scrooge's creator Carl Banks to provide a complete history of the duck who loves to swim like a porpoise and burrow like a gopher through the towering mounds of coins in his 3-cubic-acre money bin.

- Mike

Officer Down by Theresa Schwegel (MYS SCH)

After Chicago police officer Samantha (Smack) Mack's gun kills her partner during an unplanned takedown, the question becomes—who fired the weapon, Smack or the suspect? Officials label it an accidental shooting since evidence doesn't support Smack's claim that she was not the shooter. This tightly plotted, gritty look at the internal workings of a police department features a strong female character out to discover the truth about the incident even as she begins to wonder who she can trust.

- Ann

The Sempster's Tale by Margaret Frazer (MYS FRA)

Dame Frievisee is a nun and an amateur detective in 15th century England. She travels to London to procure vestments from a seamstress (the sempster of the title) for her cousin only to discover she is to return conveying a secret stash of gold. Set during a time when rebels are protesting the excesses of King Henry VI and his court, and a time of great anti-Semitism, this action-packed and detailed historical account finds Dame Frievisee solving two murders blamed on the seamstress's Jewish lover.

- Lynne

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl (920 Reich, R.)

Ruth Reichl, food editor of "Gourmet" magazine, delights us with this well-written and humorous coming-of-age memoir. She shares her story of food influences and adventures—from her mother ("Queen of Mold") giving food poisoning to the guests at her son's engagement party to her own boarding school escapades. One doesn't have to be a foodie to appreciate this engaging story.

- Paige

Thinking in Pictures: and Other Reports From My Life With Autism by Temple Grandin. (616.8982 GRA)

Renowned animal scientist Temple Grandin explains that she experiences the world visually rather than verbally because she is autistic and that this perspective allows her to empathize with animals in a unique way. Seeing and feeling from a cow's perspective, for example, enabled her to design humane livestock-handling facilities used throughout the United States. Her insights into autism and animal behavior are equally compelling.

- Mary

Vanish by Tess Gerritsen (GER)

In a fast-paced thriller, Boston medical examiner Maura Isles discovers a live woman in the morgue. When transferred to a nearby hospital, the woman becomes part of a hostage-taking team whose hostages include pregnant police detective, Jane Rizzoli. As Jane's FBI agent husband Gabriel works to free her, he realizes the case is attracting high-level government attention. Once freed, Jane, along with Gabriel and Maura investigate the hostage-taker and uncover a conspiracy involving sex slaves and murder.

- Ann