Five Book Friday!

If you, beloved patrons, aren’t sure what day today is, what year it is, or why in general, then please know that you are in good company, and that we are here for you.  Additionally, we are also bringing you a selection of books that have meandered through the holiday revelry to join you on your final reading spree of 2018.  We hope they bring you joy!

Just a reminder, the Main Library, as well as the South and West Branches will be observing the following hours in the coming week:

Monday December 31:  Close at 1 pm

Tuesday January 1, 2019:  Closed

Normal hours will resume on Wednesday, January 2, at which time, we can all try to get back to a more routine schedule!

Until then, we wish you all joy for the coming year, and a 2019 full of literary adventures!  And now, on to the books!

Dare to Love a Duke: We are going to be talking a lot about this book in an upcoming post, friends, so let’s take a moment to introduce you to Eva Leigh’s newest historical romance.  Thomas Powell, the new Duke of Northfield, knows he should be proper and principled, like his father. No more dueling, or carousing, or frequenting masked parties where Londoners indulge their wildest desires. But he’s not ready to give up his freedom just yet. The club is an escape, a place where he can forget about society and the weight of his title… and see the woman he’s wanted forever.  Lucia—known as Amina—manages the Orchid Club, a secret society where fantasies become reality. But for Lucia, it’s strictly business, profitable enough to finance her dream: a home for the lost girls of the streets. Surrounded by lovers, she only observes, unwilling risk her future for any man. No member has ever intrigued her…until the masked stranger whose heated looks sear her skin. After months of suppressed longing, they dare to give in to temptation, just once, before they both move on.  But the late duke’s legacy comes with a shocking secret, and the scandal threatens to destroy everything Tom loves… his family, the Orchid Club, and even Lucia.  Leigh’s book is getting a good deal of attention, mostly for the right reasons, and is a worthy addition to her Underground London series.  Publisher’s Weekly, for example, wrote a glowing review of this book, describing it as “a sexy, scandalous tale… Complex characters, witty exchanges, a little blackmail, and a lot of loyalty and love make this a fantastic ending to a sensational series.”

The Long Take or a Way to Lose More Slowly: Robin Robertson’s 2018 Man Booker Prize Finalist book has at last arrived on our shelves, and we couldn’t be more excited to dive into this new noir tale.  Walker is a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder; he can’t return home to rural Nova Scotia, and looks instead to the city for freedom, anonymity and repair. As he finds his way from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco, we witness a crucial period of fracture in American history, one that also allowed film noir to flourish. The Dream had gone sour but—as those dark, classic movies made clear—the country needed outsiders to study and to dramatize its new anxieties. Both an outsider and, gradually, an insider, Walker finds work as a journalist, and tries to piece his life together as America is beginning to come apart: riven by social and racial divisions, spiraling corruption, and the collapse of the inner cities.  This is a book with deep literary insight and the visual power of a film that the Los Angeles Review of Books called “A remarkable work . . . I can’t think of anything quite like it  . . . Modern, complex, political . . .Though rooted in a specific time and place, The Long Take’s larger theme is the capacity of greed and politics to turn hope into despair . . . A poem that’s long been waiting to be written.”

How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?From three-time Hugo Award winner-author N. K. Jemisin comes a collection of short fiction that sharply examines modern society.  Jemisin’s work always challenges and delights in equal measure with thought-provoking narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption.  In this collection, spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow South must save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.  This is a book for Jemisin’s growing fan base, as well as for new readers looking for an introduction to her brilliance.  NPR wrote a stirring review of this collection, noting in part that “One line from [Jemisin’s introduction] has tattooed itself on my mind, a sort of manifesto for her ongoing work and all the fiction I love: ‘Now I am bolder, and angrier, and more joyful.’ I felt, after reading these stories, that I was too.”

The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to the Civil War: In this thoroughly-researched and wonderfully readable history, Joanne B. Freeman recovers the long-lost story of physical violence on the floor of the U.S. Congress. Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, she shows that the Capitol was rife with conflict in the decades before the Civil War. Legislative sessions were often punctuated by mortal threats, canings, flipped desks, and all-out slugfests. When debate broke down, congressmen drew pistols and waved Bowie knives. One representative even killed another in a duel. Many were beaten and bullied in an attempt to intimidate them into compliance, particularly on the issue of slavery.  These fights didn’t happen in a vacuum. Freeman’s dramatic accounts of brawls and thrashings tell a larger story of how fisticuffs and journalism, and the powerful emotions they elicited, raised tensions between North and South and led toward war. In the process, she brings the antebellum Congress to life, revealing its rough realities―the feel, sense, and sound of it―as well as its nation-shaping import. Funny, tragic, and riveting, this book earned a starred review from Library Journal, who called it “A thought-provoking and insightful read for anybody interested in American politics in the lead up to the Civil War.”

All That Heaven Allows: A Biography of Rock Hudson: Rock Hudson was a film icon worshiped by moviegoers and beloved by his colleagues.  He represented the embodiment of all that romantic American cinema had to offer. Yet beneath the suave and commanding star persona, there was an insecure, deeply conflicted, and all too vulnerable human being. Growing up poor in Winnetka, Illinois, Hudson was abandoned by his biological father, abused by an alcoholic stepfather, and controlled by his domineering mother. Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Hudson was determined to become an actor at all costs. After signing with the powerful but predatory agent Henry Willson, the young hopeful was transformed from a clumsy, tongue-tied truck driver into Universal Studio’s resident Adonis. In a more conservative era, Hudson’s wholesome, straight arrow screen image was at odds with his closeted homosexuality.  For years, Hudson dodged questions concerning his private life, but in 1985 the public learned that the actor was battling AIDS. The disclosure that such a revered public figure had contracted the illness focused worldwide attention on the epidemic.  Drawing on more than 100 interviews with co-stars, family members and former companions, as well as utilizing private journals, personal correspondence, and production files, Mark Griffin provides a nuanced and in-depth portrait of the man behind the movie posters, and an exploration of Hudson’s classic films.  USA Today provided a moving review of this book, describing it as “Exhaustive and empathetic…. Griffin fills in what’s left to say [about Hudson’s life] in between the lines with an impressive list of interviews with movie star friends, acquaintances and co-stars and also digs deep into private journals and correspondence.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons, happy reading, and Happy New Year!

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