Staff Picks

The Black WidowAmy
The Black Widow
Daniel Silva

Synopsis: Gabriel Allon, the art restorer, spy, and assassin, is poised to become the chief of Israel's secret intelligence service. But on the eve of his promotion, events conspire to lure him into the field for one final operation. ISIS has detonated a massive bomb in the Marais district of Paris, and a desperate French government wants Gabriel to eliminate the man responsible before he can strike again. They call him Saladin, a terrorist mastermind whose ambition is as grandiose as his nom de guerre, a man so elusive that even his nationality is not known. Shielded by sophisticated encryption software, his network communicates in total secrecy, leaving the West blind to his planning and leaving Gabriel no choice but to insert an agent into the most dangerous terror group the world has ever known. She is an extraordinary young doctor, as brave as she is beautiful. At Gabriel's behest, she will pose as an ISIS recruit in waiting, a ticking time bomb a black widow out for blood

Amy Says: Protagonist Gabriel Allon is back for the 16th installment in this spy thriller series. The Black Widow, both fast-paced and timely, has a “ripped from the headlines” feel as the fictitious events seem all too familiar. Silva’s well-researched facts make this an authentic read that is hard to put down!

Amy's Past Staff Picks

Shadowed SoulsCrystal & Nina
Shadowed Souls
Jim Butcher

Synopsis: In this dark and gritty collection featuring short stories from Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Kevin J. Anderson, Rob Thurman and more nothing is as simple as black and white, light and dark, good and evil. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what makes it so easy to cross the line.

Crystal Says: This short story collection contains 11 contemporary urban fantasy stories. It's the ideal read if you're looking to venture into the world of urban fantasy. If you're already an avid fan, this collect brings together some of the most popular authors of the genre and is a real delight.

Nina Says: The perfect collection for fans of anti-heroes and moral ambiguity. Standouts include Kevin J. Anderson’s grown-up fairy tale “Eye of Newt” and the wistful “Hunter. Healer” by Jim C. Hines, while Anton Strout’s “Solus” is one of the most fulfilling adventures. Winter Reading and Read More Challenges Alert: This book fits in the Short Story or Contemporary Fantasy categories.

Crystal's Past Staff Picks & Nina's Past Staff Picks

White CorridorDonna
White Corridor
Christopher Fowler

Synopsis: From using crackpot psychics to cutting-edge forensics, Arthur Bryant and John May are famous for their maddeningly unorthodox approach to solving crimes that the ordinary police cannot. Now Christopher Fowler, “a new master of the classical detective story,”* brings back crime detection’s oddest and oldest couple to solve the ultimate locked room mystery. Weaving together two electrifying cases, White Corridor is an unforgettable triumph—by turns hilarious and harrowing as two of detective fiction’s most marvelous characters confront one of human nature’s darkest mysteries: the ability to deceive, deny, and destroy.

Donna Says: Although this title is the fifth book in the Bryant & May Peculiar Crimes series it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone. It is the first book that I read in the series and I became hooked. Christopher Fowler provides wonderful historical details and the character of Arthur Bryant is not to be missed. Did I mention that the two detectives, Bryant and May, are octogenarians who should have retired decades ago? The story involves what I like to call two locked room mysteries. The first locked room mystery involves a member of the Peculiar Crimes Unit being killed in a locked autopsy room with only the dead around him. In the meantime, Bryant and May are stuck on the road along with other vehicles during a terrible snowstorm. A killer is trapped in the same storm and Bryant and May must catch him before he strikes again in addition to solving the death of their co-worker at the Peculiar Crimes Unit. This book is highly recommended for lovers of smart, suspenseful mysteries with dry British humor, a smidgen of wackiness and historical detail.

Donna's Past Staff Picks

A Year in ProvenceMegan
A Year in Provence
Peter Mayle

Synopsis: In this witty and warm-hearted account, Peter Mayle tells what it is like to realize a long-cherished dream and actually move into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs. He endures January's frosty mistral as it comes howling down the Rhône Valley, discovers the secrets of goat racing through the middle of town, and delights in the glorious regional cuisine. A Year in Provence transports us into all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life and lets us live vicariously at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.

Megan Says: This was such a joy to read. I have always been attracted to all things French, so this book was a sure hit for me. I felt that Mayle has great insight into the French people of Provence. I found them to be absolutely quirky and full of surprises. You will discover that in Provence time is irrelevant, hurricane force winds (the Mistral) are a yearly tribulation, dinning is a religious experience (every time) and truffles are as revered and sought after as blue diamonds.

Megan's Past Staff Picks

The Edge of the EmpireRandall
The Edge of the Empire: A Journey to Britannia from the Heart of Rome to Hadrian’s Wall
Bronwen Riley

Synopsis: AD 130. Rome is the dazzling heart of a vast empire and Hadrian its most complex and compelling ruler. Faraway Britannia is one of the Romans' most troublesome provinces: here the sun is seldom seen and "the atmosphere in the country is always gloomy." What awaits the traveller to Britannia? How will you get there? What do you need to pack? What language will you speak? How does London compare to Rome? Are there any tourist attractions? And what dangers lurk behind Hadrian's new Wall? Combining an extensive range of Greek and Latin sources with a sound understanding of archaeology, Bronwen Riley describes an epic journey from Rome to Hadrian’s Wall at the empire's northwestern frontier. In this strikingly original history of Roman Britain, she evokes the smells, sounds, colors, and sensations of life in the second century.

Randall Says: Perfect for armchair historians and travel readers, Riley follows the intrepid journey of Sextus Julius Severus to the outer limits of the Roman Empire in AD 130. This is a lively, engaging way to experience Roman history. If you enjoy The Edge of the Empire, you may like In the Land of Giants: A Journey Through the Dark Ages by Max Adams, which explores Britain’s medieval past after the collapse of the Roman Empire.

Randall's Past Staff Picks

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