Five Book Friday!

And we hope that you have enjoyed your February vacation, beloved patrons!  We’re happy to be back and bringing the best in the world of Libraries, books, and literary awards!

Here’s a list of some of the sensational titles that have sojourned onto our shelves this week, and are eager to join you in your wintertime adventures!

Never Enough: The Neuroscience and Experience of AddictionDrug addiction is as old as human society, but for the past generation, we have been coping with new drugs, new methods of accessing them, and increasing health problems related to addiction that have finally been recognized as an epidemic.  In this insightful and deeply empathetic new book, Judith Grisel a  renowned behavioral neuroscientist and recovered drug addict, brings new The brain’s capacity to learn and adapt is seemingly infinite, allowing it to counteract any regular disruption, including that caused by drugs. What begins as a normal state punctuated by periods of being high transforms over time into a state of desperate craving that is only temporarily subdued by a fix, explaining why addicts are unable to live either with or without their drug. One by one, Grisel shows how different drugs act on the brain, the kind of experiential effects they generate, and the specific reasons why each is so hard to kick.  This is a book that offers new insight into how the brain functions, offers critical contributions to addictive behavior, and will help inform a more rational, coherent, and compassionate response to the epidemic in our homes and communities.  Kirkus Reviews noted that Grisel “writes clearly and unsparingly about both her experiences and the science of addiction—tobacco and caffeine figure in, as well—making plain that there is still much that remains unknown or mysterious about the brain’s workings. In the end, she notes, much of our present culture, which shuns pain and favors avoidance, is made up of ‘tools of addiction.’ Illuminating reading for those seeking to understand the whos, hows, and wherefores of getting hooked.”

RuptureWe are big fans of Ragnar Jónasson’s Icelandic mysteries here at the Library, so the arrival of a new title is always a cause for celebration.  In this fourth mystery featuring Ari Thór sees the young police officer trying to solve a 50-year-old murder when new evidence surfaces. But the case proves difficult in a town where no one wants to know the truth, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.  This is a series that has a great a sense of place as it does a cast of compelling and memorable characters, that The Guardian called “A distinctive blend of Nordic Noir and Golden Age detective fiction … economical and evocative prose, as well as some masterful prestidigitation.”

The PlottersA little bit of science-fiction, and a little bit of thriller, and a whole lot of suspense, this novel from South Korean author Un-Su Kim is making waves around the globe.  In this alternative South Korea, assassination guilds compete for market dominance.  Plotters quietly dictate the moves of the city’s most dangerous criminals, orchestrating every assassination from the shadows.  But their existence is little more than a rumor.  Just who are the plotters? And more important, what do they want? Reseng is an assassin. Raised by a cantankerous killer named Old Raccoon in the crime headquarters “The Library,” Reseng never questioned anything: where to go, who to kill, or why his home was filled with books that no one ever read. But one day, Reseng steps out of line on a job, toppling a set of carefully calibrated plans. And when he uncovers an extraordinary scheme set into motion by an eccentric trio of young women–a convenience store clerk, her wheelchair-bound sister, and a cross-eyed librarian–Reseng will have to decide if he will remain a pawn or finally take control of the plot.  Surprising, funny, and unsettling, this novel earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, who noted, “The complex plot, in which Reseng becomes involved with a more polished, CEO-like hit man named Hanja, builds to a highly cinematic and violent denouement. Most memorable, though, is the novel’s message about the insidiousness of unaccountable institutions, from those under the military junta to those that thrive in today’s economy. The consequence of the pervasive corruption is an air of existential despair. This strange, ambitious book will appeal equally to literary fiction readers.”

What We Did: A compelling novel that confronts a number of issues in the #MeToo era, Christobel Kent’s newest novel deals with issues of childhood abuse and the dangers of modern-day retribution.  Bridget has a secret—one she keeps from everyone, even her husband. One that threatens to explode when her childhood music teacher, Carmichael, walks into her dress shop. With him is a young girl on the cusp of adulthood, fresh-faced and pretty. She reminds Bridget of herself at that age, naïve and vulnerable.  Bridget wants him away—away from her, away from that girl. But Carmichael won’t leave her alone, won’t stop stalking her. And Bridget’s not a little girl anymore. When he pushes her too far, she snaps. But what she thought was a decisive act only unravels more insidious threats—more than she could have ever imagined—and from which no one is safe, not even her family.  Not an easy novel, it’s still an important and a gripping one.  The Washington Post agreed, discussing in its review how “Kent serves up a twisting and complex plot, but the novel’s chief appeal lies in the tense character of Bridget, who learns that a life lived under the radar can’t protect her from the creepy-crawly things that live there, too.”

Europe: A Natural History: Having already produced fascinating ecological histories of Australia and North America, Tim Flannery now turns his gaze to Europe.  He begins 100 million years ago, when the continents of Asia, North America, and Africa interacted to create an island archipelago that would later become the Europe we know today. It was on these ancient tropical lands that the first distinctly European organisms evolved. Flannery teaches us about Europe’s midwife toad, which has endured since the continent’s beginning, while elephants, crocodiles, and giant sharks have come and gone. He explores the monumental changes wrought by the devastating comet strike and shows how rapid atmospheric shifts transformed the European archipelago into a single landmass during the Eocene. As the story moves through millions of years of evolutionary history, Flannery eventually turns to our own species, describing the immense impact humans had on the continent’s flora and fauna―within 30,000 years of our arrival in Europe, the woolly rhino, the cave bear, and the giant elk, among others, would disappear completely. The story continues right up to the present, as Flannery describes Europe’s leading role in wildlife restoration, and then looks ahead to ponder the continent’s future: with advancements in gene editing technology, European scientists are working to recreate some of the continent’s lost creatures, such as the great ox of Europe’s primeval forests and even the woolly mammoth.  This is a book that has been getting attention on both sides of the Atlantic, with the Irish Times calling it,“Bold and brilliant… Flannery looks far forwards as well as back, to see how pre-prehistory might inform tomorrow.”

Until next week, beloved patrons–Happy Reading!

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