Five Book Friday!

Well, Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, dear readers, but for those of you still in a mood to celebrate, fear not!  February still offers plenty of other days to celebrate.  Check out some of these terrific options:

February 17: National Random Acts of Kindness 

February 21: National Sticky Bun Day

February 23: National Toast Day (the food, not the action, so bust out those toasters!)

February 26: National Tell a Fairy Tale Day

February 28: National Chocolate Souffle Day

Best of all, there is never not a good day to celebrate Libraries, so come on it, and check out some of the new titles that have wiggled onto our shelves this week!

How to Stop TimeA you a reader who loved the idea of Fitzgerald’s tale “The Secret Life of Benjamin Button,” but wished it had a less gut-wrenching ending?  Then Matt Haig’s newest tale is for you! Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. Tom has lived history–performing with Shakespeare, exploring the high seas with Captain Cook, and sharing cocktails with Fitzgerald. Now, he just wants an ordinary life. So Tom moves back his to London, his old home, to become a high school history teacher–the perfect job for someone who has witnessed the city’s history first hand. Better yet, a captivating French teacher at his school seems fascinated by him. But the Albatross Society, the secretive group which protects people like Tom, has one rule: Never fall in love. As painful memories of his past and the erratic behavior of the Society’s watchful leader threaten to derail his new life and romance, the one thing he can’t have just happens to be the one thing that might save him. Tom will have to decide once and for all whether to remain stuck in the past, or finally begin living in the present. This is a moving, heart-warming romp love story across the ages that has had critics and reviewers raving.  The reviewer for Publisher’s Weekly noted “I am in concert with Haig’s fans as I read the book, turning pages for the story but also stopping to underline passages. I want to remember the lines. I want to read out loud to someone. Nothing like a love that lasts 400 years.”

Feel Free: Zadie Smith has become a treasured voice in fiction, and her gift for storytelling and insight into human nature makes this collection of essays a joy for her fans, and a delightful introduction to new readers.  Arranged into five sections–In the World, In the Audience, In the Gallery, On the Bookshelf, and Feel Free–this new collection poses questions we immediately recognize. What is The Social Network–and Facebook itself–really about? Why do we love libraries? (YAY LIBRARY LOVE!!) What will we tell our granddaughters about our collective failure to address global warming? Gathering in one place for the first time previously unpublished work, as well as already classic essays, such as, “Joy,” and, “Find Your Beach,” this stellar collection offers a survey of important recent events in culture and politics, as well as Smith’s own life.  Kirkus gave the book a starred review, observing “If only all such thoughts were so cogent and unfailingly humane. The author is honest, often impassioned, always sober…Smith’s observations are timeless.”

GnomonNick Harkaway is an author who revels in the potential of genre fiction, and always ends up making those genres uniquely his own.  On the surface, this book is a dystopian thriller, but beneath the label, this book is a wonderfully though-provoking commentary on our own time and consciousness, as well.  In the world of the story, citizens are constantly observed and democracy has reached a pinnacle of ‘transparency.’ Every action is seen, every word is recorded, and the System has access to its citizens’ thoughts and memories–all in the name of providing the safest society in history.  When suspected dissident Diana Hunter dies in government custody, it marks the first time a citizen has been killed during an interrogation. The System doesn’t make mistakes, but something isn’t right about the circumstances surrounding Hunter’s death. Mielikki Neith, a trusted state inspector and a true believer in the System, is assigned to find out what went wrong. Immersing herself in neural recordings of the interrogation, what she finds isn’t Hunter but rather a panorama of characters within Hunter’s psyche.  Embedded in the memories of these impossible lives lies a code which Neith must decipher to find out what Hunter is hiding.  The staggering consequences of what she finds will reverberate throughout the world.  This is a complex book that will hold appeal to tech fans as well as philosophers.  The British Newspaper The Spectator reveled in its eccentric genius, saying, “This huge sci-fi detective novel of ideas is so eccentric, so audaciously plotted and so completely labyrinthine and bizarre that I had to put it aside more than once to emit Keanu-like ‘Whoahs’ of appreciation. . . It is huge fun. And it will melt your brain. . . Whoah, indeed. I wanted to give it a round of applause.”

A Dangerous Crossing: Fans of Ausma Zehanat Khan, whose investigative duo, Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak first appeared in the wrenching mystery The Unquiet Dead, will be thrilled to hear they are reappearing in this story that blends Khan’s careful plotting and character insight into another very human and immediate tragedy.  Esa’s childhood friend, Nathan Clare, calls him in distress: his sister, Audrey, has vanished from a Greek island where the siblings run an NGO. Audrey had been working to fast-track refugees to Canada, but now, she is implicated in the double-murder of a French Interpol agent and a young man who had fled the devastation in Syria.  Esa and Rachel arrive in Greece to a shocking scene, witnessing for themselves the massive fallout of the Syrian war in the wretched refugee camps. Tracing Audrey’s last movements, they meet some of the volunteers and refugees―one of whom, Ali, is involved in a search of his own, for a girl whose disappearance may be connected to their investigation.  Working against time, with Interpol at their heels, Esa and Rachel follow a trail that takes them from the beaches of Greece, to the Turkish–Syrian border, and across Europe, reaching even the corridors of power in the Netherlands. Had Audrey been on the edge of a dangerous discovery, hidden at the heart of this darkest of crises―one which ultimately put a target on her own back?  Khan is a writing who knows very well of what she speaks.  As Library Journal pointed out in their review, “Khan’s doctorate and research in international human relations law give credence to her portrayal of a timely situation . . . This is a series well worth investigating.”

A Wedding at Two Love Lane: Fans of Kieran Kramer’s historical romances will find that her delightful writing style and super character development translate beautifully into the contemporary, in this tale of matchmaking and unexpected passion.  Greer Jones has made a real name for herself at the elegant matchmaking agency Two Love Lane. For a lot of reasons―including a past engagement she broke off―practical tech expert Greer is more interested in the business of love than the experience of it, but she can’t help but covet a gorgeous wedding gown that’s the prize in an upcoming cocktail-party contest. In a moment of brazen inspiration, Greer asks a handsome Brit she’s only just met to accompany her to the party. He agrees―and Greer believes her date is a starving artist. Little does she know the truth. . .Ford Smith, as he calls himself, is actually Stanford Elliott Wentworth Smythe, the Eighth Baron of Wickshire. Fresh off a breakup with a money-grubbing siren who deceived him all the way to the altar, Ford has no desire to fall in love―especially with Greer who, like the desired wedding gown, is beautiful but only skin-deep. But soon Ford realizes that there’s more to Greer than meets the eye. Her professionalism is matched only by her passion for life and love. . .and, best of all, she has no idea that he’s to the manor born. Could it be that true love is priceless after all?  Booklist loved this tale, noting that it is  “Brimming with sassy southern charm and an abundance of deliciously dry wit, this debut entry in Kramer’s Two Love Lane series is festive treat.”


Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!