You are here

Sharon's Picks






The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War Cover Image
ISBN: 9780544483873
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - May 5th, 2015

Think about it---build the first U.S. bomber plant from scratch, one that could produce one bomber per hour, and do it in record time. All those who opposed Hitler knew the need was great and the clock was ticking.

Here is the fascinating backstory of how, in a field east of Ypsilanti, Michigan, the Willow Run bomber plant was built and became the largest airplane factory in history and the linchpin in America's arsenal of democracy.  Baime presents an insightful blend of events giving equal time to the political, cultural and international forces of the time as well as to the personal dynamics of the individuals who rose to meet the formidable challenge.

A very interesting, informative book that at times is a real page-turner!


The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616204518
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - December 2nd, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is an engaging novel about a cantankerous bookstore owner who prefers to be left alone but whose life is turned upside down by the appearance of an unexpected arrival.  Although I particularly enjoyed the author's descriptions of the inner workings of a bookstore, it is the artful mixture of humor, suspense & tenderness,along with a variety of appealing characters,that makes this story both moving and entertaining.

Angels of Detroit Cover Image
ISBN: 9781632863638
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury USA - July 5th, 2016

Angels of Detroit    Christopher Hebert

Christopher Hebert’s remarkable intersecting stories of those who still “live” in what remains of a once thriving city is set just outside of Detroit's revitalized city center and midtown area. Deteriorating buildings hold secrets and desires. Vacant, dimly lit blocks remain a constant reminder of yesterday, frustration and loss.  

Built on the bones of Detroit’s history Hebert weaves an extraordinary fictional story of women and men who do what they can to retain or regain control of at least some part of their lives. Some make the best of what remains, others can not accept the loss. Throughout, the scarred physical landscape looms large as a decisive underlying influence in their decisions.

It’s a challenge to summarize this engaging,expansive,multi-character novel without revealing the plot but there is much to recommend. There’s an ease and clarity to Hebert’s writing and the characters’ voices ring believably true. He carefully builds the individual story lines and in unexpected ways gradually ties most together adding a sense of urgency and suspense to the story.  And for me, the Angels of the novel may be the female characters who with few exceptions are strong, resolute survivors. Perhaps these women, like the 2 women who stand side by side on the original seal of Detroit, represent the hope that the city will rise once again.

     “The seal in the middle of the flag represents the fire that destroyed the city in 1805.   

     Two women stand in the foreground while the city burns in the background.  The

     woman on the left weeps over the destruction, while the woman on the right consoles

     her by gesturing to a new city that will rise in its place.”

American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land Cover Image
ISBN: 9781631490514
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - July 11th, 2017

American Fire - Monica Hesse

An absolutely riveting account of a string of mysterious building fires that unnerved the communities of Accomack county Virginia, overwhelming their volunteer fire departments and baffling the authorities. The search for the culprits took the small towns on a long,frustrating journey and then after almost 6 months local residents, Charlie and Tonya, were caught lighting the 62nd fire. The communities were shocked and angry as they grappled with the knowledge that two of "their own" had caused so much damage and disruption. Was it thrill seeking, revenge or something else that motivated Charlie and Tonya? The motive(s) turned out to be totally unexpected.                                                                                                                                         

Having previously covered the arsons for the Washington Post, Hesse returned to Accomack county to follow Charlie and Tonya's criminal trials. What she expected to be a few weeks stay turned into months as she gained the trust of community members and authorities and widened her investigation. What she uncovered over the course of her two year stay resulted in this mesmerizing account of personal dissappointments and psychological manipulation. With an eye for detail Hesse not only explores Charlie and Tonya's background but also the culture, institutions and physical landscape of the communities. Much more than a timeline of events,Hesse has created a vivid sense of place and a page-turning account of Charlie and Tonya’s arson spree and how it affected the tight knit communities suffering economic decline.  

American Fire is a fascinating story!

The Women in the Castle Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062563668
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow & Company - March 28th, 2017

The Women In The Castle     Jessica Shattuck


The Women In The Castle is a powerful story of how 3 widows of WW II German war resisters coped in the aftermath of their husbands’ deaths. With a completely unique perspective the author has created an immersive and thought provoking story. I hesitate to say a novel about this difficult time is a really good read...but this one definitely is.

At the center of the story is Marianne, an incredibly strong-willed woman who promises her husband and his collaborators that she will take care of their wives if the plot to overthrow Hitler fails. With his death and the end of the war she assumes this role with a fierce determination fueled by hatred of former Nazis and German citizens who did not resist. She succeeds in finding some of the women and their children but Marianne’s single-minded focus blinds her to their emotions and needs. At first they find solace in one another but slowly take different paths leading to years of separation. As each woman’s backstory unfolds the scope of the story deepens as it deals with the many choices each faces as she tries to rebuild a new life. There is a sensitivity and grace to Shattuck’s writing which I found powerful and deeply moving. Ultimately this is a tale of struggle,complicated relationships,loyalty and reconciliation

And, yes there is a castle. Over the course of the novel it represents the vestiges of an aristocratic society, symbolizes a dying culture, becomes a refuge and in the end represents resilience and strength.