Linda – Technical Services
Lock In by John Scalzi, New Fiction Scalzi
If you’re worrying about Ebola and identity theft, read John Scalzi’s new book for a whole new outlook on these popular 21st Century anxieties. Lock In takes place not too far in the future where a new flu has left some of its victims locked inside their own heads. Computer networks and carbon-fiber technology have created a new breed of humans who live and work along with their biological brothers, but there are huge amounts of money to be made. And there are hackers for sale.
This is classic science fiction, enhanced by Scalzi’s deft characterization and intelligent plotting. Another plus, by reading carefully I was (almost) able to understand the computer stuff, which made me feel smart. So read the book. You’ll feel good about it.
Sue – Circulation
The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson, New Fiction Lawrenson
This mysterious, atmospheric novel interweaves the stories of three women, two who lived during World War II and were active in the French Resistance and one who lives in the present. The book opens in the present as Ellie, an English landscape designer, travels to an island off the coast of France to restore a memorial garden on an estate owned by a man and his elderly mother. The mother’s behavior is erratic and disturbing and Ellie feels unwelcome and even threatened and decides to pass on the job and makes plans to leave. The book then takes us back in time to the war and the efforts of British and French agents in the Resistance movement in France. It follows Marthe, a young blind woman in occupied France who works at a perfumery and discovers that her employers are leaders in the Resistance, and Iris, a British intelligence officer in London who becomes romantically involved with a Frenchman working on behalf of the Allies. As the book unfolds, we discover how the lives of these three women are connected and how the events of the war still reverberate decades later. An exciting story of love, sacrifice, and bravery, as well as the difficult choices that must be made during a time of war amidst confusion and uncertainty.
The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson, Fiction Thompson
Sixty years old, with two grown sons, Anders decides he needs to make a change in his life, so he retires from his job, leaves his wife, Helene, and buys a condo. Anders spent his whole life following the rules – working hard, supporting his family – but now he feels like he missed out, spending his life doing what he had to do and not what he wanted to do. Living in a Connecticut suburb, he commuted to the city each day for his job in finance, in which he witnessed corporate greed that has left him disgusted with his former career. His children are a disappointment to him: his older son is a boring corporate drone and his younger son an unemployed wastrel. During his first Christmas since his divorce, he receives an invitation to a party given by his former neighbors. He attended this party for years with his wife. They are really her friends, but he decides to go to the party anyway and it is a disaster. He discovers that Helene is now living with his former college roommate in their marital home. Seeing her doing so well and apparently over him makes him wonder if he made the right decision. Also while at the party, he throws his normal cautious nature to the wind and does drugs with Charlie, the son of the hosts of the party. This action sets off a chain of events that will deeply affect Anders as well as his wayward younger son Preston. Both funny and sad, the book is filled with characters that are neither good nor bad: they feel like real people just struggling to do their best and make sense of their lives. Although I didn’t always agree with the decisions Anders made, especially one near the end of the book, he was a sympathetic character to me – I felt for him and rooted for him to find happiness. I was pleased with the ending.
Case Histories, starring Jason Isaacs, DVD Case Histories, Series 1 and 2
Set in Edinburgh, Scotland, this mystery series revolves around Jackson Brodie, a former soldier and police detective, who is now a private detective. Jackson is divorced with a young daughter. He had a tragic childhood, losing his sister and then his brother in acts of violence that have left him psychologically scarred. Jackson is tough, but with a tender heart. He is more interested in seeing justice done than always following the letter of the law, so private detection suits him, as it gives him more leeway than the police. He is an excellent detective because he knows how to read people. The story lines focus more on the relationships among the characters than police procedure. Jackson does, however, frequently call on his former partner in the police force, Louise, in order to get access to police databases. He and Louise have an intense relationship, with unresolved sexual tension between them. She is often exasperated by his unorthodox methods, but has great respect for him. Jackson takes on all sorts of cases, from lost cats to trailing spouses suspected of adultery to murder investigations. Although Jackson sometimes skirts the law, he is a decent man with a strong code of ethics. Isaacs gives a nuanced performance, showing Jackson’s strength and his tenderness. The cases are all interesting with well-drawn characters. I also love the soundtrack to this series. Gritty, soulful rock/folk ballads add to the emotional intensity of the show.
Corky – Circulation
Mad, Bad, and Blonde by Cathie Linz, Fiction Linz
When Faith West, a children’s librarian, is jilted at the altar via a text saying her fiance wants adventure and excitement, but not her, she gets mad. Faith goes on her scheduled Italian honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast alone, but doesn’t stay that way for long. She meets Caine Hunter, an ex-Marine, and the sparks fly. (She is oh so bad.) But when Faith finds out Caine lied to her, she doesn’t put up with it, dyes her hair blonde, and the romance is on.
Cathie Linz, a local author, writes a light, funny book with clever dialogue and characters that are both quirky and memorable. This is a steamy romance with a stormy relationship and some suspense thrown in with twists and turns. Mad, Bad, and Blonde is a cute and fun contemporary romance.