Monthly Archives: August 2011

Staff Picks – The Kennedy Detail

The Kennedy Detail by Gerald Blaine

You don’t have to have been alive when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated to appreciate this
book. It could be a novel of intrigue.

The life of a Secret Service agent in the 1960s is described – his duties, experiences, and relationships
with his family, fellow agents, and the people he had committed to protect. In this book, the primary
persons being protected are the president of the United States and his family. Gerald Blaine and Clint
Hill are the featured agents, who became close to JFK, Jackie, and their children, be it in Washington,
DC, the Hyannis “white House,” or other venue. But the central episode of this story occurred across six
seconds in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, when Lee Harvey Oswald shot and killed the president.

Details about the assassination and its aftermath are presented as never before by the very agents who
were totally involved. The agony over their “failure” to protect permeated their lives but was never
revealed in public as they continued their service protecting the new president.

Controversy has surrounded this assassination for almost fifty years and it is good to have the true story
exposed by the very agents who lived it.

Recommended by: Paula at Main

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Staff Picks – The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Make no mistake, I loved the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan and when I first heard that Rick Riordan was setting another series in the same universe that he had created for Percy Jackson, I was both excited and a little wary. Excited because I had enjoyed that world and felt it had lots of potential for new adventures; wary because I feared the new series might not meet my expectations and that, if it didn’t, it might somehow cast a pall over my affection for the Percy Jackson books. I need not have worried. The Lost Hero, the first book in that new series – the Heroes of Olympus – managed to meet all of my expectations and did so in a style that made me glad Riordan had gone ahead with the idea. While having read the Percy Jackson books is not a pre-requisite for enjoying The Lost Hero, I do think those who have done so will be able to immerse themselves in this world much more quickly and will enjoy the book more than those unfamiliar with Percy’s story.

The Lost Hero introduces three new main characters – Jason, who has no memory of his life before page one of the story, Piper, a girl with “kaleidoscope eyes” (all together now – Lucy in the sky-yi with diamonds…) who has the gift of persuading people to give her things and Leo, whose clever and creative hands need to be always busy.

Readers are pitched head-first into one of the first forays in a new battle the demi-gods will soon find themselves embroiled in. In short order we learn that the gods have gone silent and that Percy Jackson is missing. Jason, Piper and Leo are all having visions, dreams or reawakened memories, many of which revolve around Hera who, we discover, is being held prisoner. Along with a new Great Prophecy (Seven half-bloods shall answer the call/To storm or fire the world must fall/An oath to keep with a final breath/and foes bear arms to the Doors of Death), a new quest must be undertaken by the trio of newbies to find and free Hera.

Rick has a knack for making his characters seem real and believable and, in The Lost Hero, he once again succeeds in making me care about them. My sympathy for and interest in the trio builds as details of their lives are revealed in the early chapters of the book (each chapter is told from either Jason, Piper or Leo’s third person POV) and by the time they head off on their quest, I’m fully invested in seeing them through their adventures. They not only talk like real teenagers, they think like real teenagers.

One of my favorite aspects of The Lost Hero is the inclusion of Roman mythology with the Greek that was the focus in the Percy Jackson series. I found the discussions of the subtle differences in the gods from one culture to the other really interesting and reading about them made me want to learn more about both.

Lastly, for those dying to know, Percy Jackson definitely plays a role in this series. How significant that role will be remains to be seen. Next up in the series is The Son of Neptune, due in the fall of 2011.

Highly recommended. Riordan has laid the groundwork here for another fun and exciting series and I’m already looking forward to the next book.

Recommended by: Amy S. at Main

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Staff Picks – Maisie Dobbs Series

Maisie Dobbs Series by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs is a sensitive, intelligent woman who has risen from her humble beginnings as a servant to set up practice as a personal investigator in 1929 London. Upon accepting a case, Maisie not only intends to solve the puzzle at hand but bring healing, when needed, to her clients’ lives. She is a keen observer of people, their postures and mannerisms, and possesses a ‘sixth sense’. Both skills often provide valuable insight of her clients and the victims involved in her cases. She often notices details overlooked or deemed insignificant by the local constables or Scotland Yard detectives. Her investigations frequently uncover secrets ultimately connected to experiences stemming from the Great War, World War I.
I’ve read 3 books in Jacqueline Winspear’s “Maisie Dobbs” series – “Pardonable Lies” (#5), “Birds of a Feather “(#2) and “Maisie Dobbs”(first in the series), in that order. As each story unfolds, the reader is shown glimpses into Maisie’s early years and experiences as a nurse on the battlefield in World War I France. These glimpses in the first book I read made me want to read earlier books in the series to find out more about Maisie, her assistant and war veteran Billy Beale, and other family members and associates who must daily cope with vivid memories of a war officially ended years ago. I enjoyed the way the author tied Maisie’s own personal life and past tragedies with the case at hand. I also enjoyed the great attention to historical detail as well as the chance to solve the mystery along with the sleuth, as all the clues and information to do so are provided to the reader. If you are a lover of British mysteries or historical novels, or are just looking for a new mystery author, try a book in this series. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Recommended by: Barbara at Main

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