Bluffton Staff Picks
October 2008

Compiled by Francesca Denton, Reference Manager

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Halle recommends…Prodigal Summer

Barbara Kingsolver writes to her roots bringing together three stories and their characters, including a den of coyotes. Set in the southern Appalachia that she knows and loves, the stories unfold amongst the forested mountains, the wildlife and the homesteads struggling for their very existence. This is beautifully written book rich with detail and imagery.
Whale Talk cover

Scott recommends…Whale Talk

Author Chris Crutcher writes a memorable book about fitting in yet standing up for your beliefs and your friends. The cast of characters includes adults, children, and teenagers that who struggle through “tragedy and comedy” for acceptance and respect.
Walking cover

Barbara recommends…Walking: The Complete Book

Walking is my favorite form of exercise. Now I understand why I always feel better after my walk. Easily understood explanations of how the body and mind benefit from a simple walk will inspire you to get up and out the door.
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Sheryl recommends…Fair and Tender Ladies

This is the fictional story of Ivy Rowe, a woman “growing up and growing old” in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. The book is a series of letters that Ivy writes to family, friends, lovers and acquaintances of a life lived fully and reflected upon through these correspondences and remembrances.
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Francesca recommends…Nine Parts of Desire

Wall Street Journal Mideast Correspondent, Geraldine Brooks, turned popular fiction writer, researched this book by going “beneath the veil” to learn first-hand about the life of Muslim women in the Muslim countries of the Middle East. She is a masterful journalist and storyteller and her observations will both surprise and intrigue the reader.
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Sheryl recommends…Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

This is a beautifully written love story that finds connects food and romance amidst the Mexican Revolution in turn-of-the-century Mexico. Ranchers, bandidos, revolutionaries, love-torn daughters, and famous generals spice up this engrossing story of family tradition, lost/found love, and history. An added bonus is the recipes for the dishes served from the family kitchen that fuel the many romantic and revolutionary desires of this cast of colorful characters.
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Virginia recommends…My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

From the very popular author, Jodi Picoult, comes another novel that makes the reader ponder their own reaction to life’s dilemmas. This is the story of a sister born to provide bone marrow for her sibling. All kinds of ethical, medical, familial issues are raised in this thought-provoking and controversial read.
Wedding Ring cover

Virginia recommends…Wedding Ring by Emilie Richards

This is the first book in a series of books that follow three generations of women who laugh, cry, blame, and forgive as a family moves through crises and confrontation. The characters are engaging and the plot keeps the reader turning those pages!
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Francesca recommends…Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen

Gary Paulsen, popular young adult writer, had a life-long dream of running a team of dogs in the Iditarod sled race in Alaska. He sets out to train a team of dogs and actually runs the race. This is the hilarious (I mean laugh out loud) and true account of his trials and tribulations, and near death experiences, taking on this grueling and dangerous challenge.
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Francesca recommends…The Namesake by Jumpa Lahiri

This excellent book has been made into a motion picture. It poignantly captures the struggle of an Indian family from Calcutta trying to reconcile their native traditions with their new and often confusing American culture. No matter how long it’s been since your family came to these shores, you will empathize with this touching and beautifully written story of the first-generation American experience.
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Ann recommends…The World to Come by Dara Horn

Artist Marc Chagall, mystery, romance, fantasy, theology, history and more! The author skillfully weaves all of these subjects into a remarkable story and takes us on an incredible journey through the past, present, and future. This is not an easy read, but well worth the time spent.
Outlander cover

Francesca recommends…Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

This is Book One of a six book saga that will keep you enthralled with the swashbuckling plotline spanning space and time. Set in both 18th century Scotland, during “The Rising”, and 20th century America author Gabaldon weaves an engrossing tale of a reluctant time traveler finding herself with two husbands in different centuries. Outlander is full of well-researched historical reference, placing the reader back in that time of Bonnie Prince Charlie and men in kilts. This is a must read for anyone who enjoys a good historical novel.
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Barbara recommends… A Death in Belmont by Sebastian Junger

While not as compelling as The Perfect Storm, Junger presents a well-written examination of race and the “justice” system in the early 1960’s. His personal story and guesses at what might have been will leave you with goose-bumps!
Washington's Crossing cover

Joe recommends…Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer

Fischer writes an excellent account of how George Washington, in the winter of 1776-1777, snatched victory from defeat in a series of daring moves against British forces. This book will leave readers with a greater appreciation of the great odds faced by the American troops against the professional British forces.
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Amber recommends…The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

Alice in Wonderland lovers beware! Frank Beddor takes a nasty twist on the Alice tale, turning a colorful children’s story into a dark fantasy for readers of all ages. We finally get the true story of Alyss, Princess of Wonderland.
Looking Glass Wars cover

Virginia recommends…Alice’s Tulips

Set during the U.S. Civil War this engrossing and well-written story turned murder mystery follows Alice Bullock, young, newly-married, and left on her husband’s Iowa farm with his “formidable” mother after he joins the Union Army. She writes to her sister of her life of grueling farm work, barn raisings, quilting bees, and other details of small town life. Life on the farm and in this small Midwest community is also spiced with gossip and treachery. When Alice is accused of murder she must seek out support and build her defense from some unlikely sources.
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Barbara recommends…Evidence of Things Unseen

Ray Foster’s passion is light. While all the varieties of light in Ray’s life are revealing, they ultimately bring sorrow to Ray and the potential for devastation for the rest of us. This is a beautifully written novel.
Constant Gardener cover

Pete recommends…The Constant Gardener (Movie based on the book by John Le Carré)

The Constant Gardener movie (of the same book title and author John Le Carré) stays true to the author’s original story line. It features Africa as the principle setting and a conspiracy by a large pharmaceutical company to “test” drugs without regard to their health effects on the poor. There is plenty of tension and drama, and the acting by Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz is top notch. The Constant Gardener is a movie with something to say, and it speaks its message loudly and with eloquence. Some scenes are violent and the ending while upbeat is still tragic.
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Virginia recommends…Leaving Cold Sassy by Olive Ann Burns

Due to the untimely death of the author, this unfinished sequel to one of the best books ever written, Cold Sassy Tree, leaves Will Tweedy and his bride at the beginning of their marriage. However, it does continue the engaging story of their tumultuous, passionate, hilarious relationship that survives poverty, disappointment, and reckless indecision. If you loved Cold Sassy Tree you owe it to yourself to read this sequel.
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Francesca recommends…Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Set in South Carolina in 1964, this is the story of Lily Owens who searches for the secret to her mother’s past with the help of a trio of black beekeeping sisters. The mesmerizing world of bees is aptly interwoven with the resilience of the female of species, and the power to make our own destiny. This is one of my very favorite books.
Eyre Affair cover

Halle recommends…The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

British author Fforde writes this surreal literary romp that meshes the classics with a clever “who-done-it”. Villains, stolen manuscripts, kidnappings, and the killing off of minor characters are just a small part of this very original and entertaining genre-bending novel…think Douglas Adams (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) meets Shakespeare!
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