Five Book Friday!

This week, beloved patrons, is the week that all readers (and libraries, and bookshops…) await all year.  It’s Book Season

This is the prime season where publishers release all the books  in advance of the upcoming winter/holiday season.  Included in this bushel o’ books are some of the most anticipated titles, like Dan Brown’s latest Robert Langdon book, OriginHarlan Coben’s Don’t Let Goand Stephen and Owen King’s Sleeping Beauties.

But along with those well-publicized blockbusters, there are a huge number of other newly released bits of magic that are just as eager to share your adventures with you, and savor the time that the lengthening evenings offer to curl up with a new book!

Here are just a few of the titles that have crept up onto our shelves this week:

The Dark LakeThe debut work of Australian author Sarah Bailey seems to have wowed plenty of authors and critics alike, with it’s moody atmosphere, deep, complex characters, and an investigation full of secrets and shattering revelations.  The lead homicide investigator in a rural town, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is deeply unnerved when a high school classmate is found strangled, her body floating in a lake. And not just any classmate, but Rosalind Ryan, whose beauty and inscrutability exerted a magnetic pull on Smithson High School, first during Rosalind’s student years and then again when she returned to teach drama.  As much as Rosalind’s life was a mystery to Gemma when they were students together, her death presents even more of a puzzle. What made Rosalind quit her teaching job in Sydney and return to her hometown? Why did she live in a small, run-down apartment when her father was one of the town’s richest men? And despite her many admirers, did anyone in the town truly know her?  Gemma Woodstock is a wonderfully intriguing character in her own right, with plenty of secrets and shadows in her past, and we can only hope that this is the beginning of a series of outings for this fascinating detective!  Douglas Preston, co-author of the Pendergast series, provided one of the cover blurbs for this book, calling it “A crime thriller that seizes you from the first page and slowly draws you into a web of deception and long buried secrets. Beautifully written, compulsively readable, and highly recommended.”

The TrickEmanuel Bergmann’s tale deals with some of the darkest moments in the twentieth century, but the magic of his tale is how light it is, not only in terms of its narrative, but also in the way it continually shows the better side of human nature, the everyday ability we all have to work miracles.  In 1934, a rabbi’s son in Prague joins a traveling circus, becomes a magician, and rises to fame under the stage name the Great Zabbatini just as Europe descends into World War II. When Zabbatini is discovered to be a Jew, his battered trunk full of magic tricks becomes his only hope of surviving the concentration camp where he is sent.  Seven decades later in Los Angeles, ten-year-old Max finds a scratched-up LP that captured Zabbatini performing his greatest tricks. But the track in which Zabbatini performs his love spell—the spell Max believes will keep his disintegrating family together—is damaged beyond repair. Desperate for a solution, Max seeks out the now elderly, cynical magician and begs him to perform his magic on his parents.  But as their unlikely friendship develops,  Max learns some of the real secrets behind Zabbatini’s greatest tricks–and realizes the secret that binds them together.  This a beautiful book with an ending that will turn you inside out.  RT Book Reviews gave this book a ‘Top Pick’ rating, saying in its review, “Bergman’s storytelling is a feat of magic in and of itself; his light tone and deft descriptions capture the wonder of friendship, the heartbreak of youth, and the dread of some of history’s darkest moments with an ease that is both engaging and deeply emotional. The result is a story that is powerfully moving without being heavy-handed, and full of hope without being blind to the horror and selfishness of which humanity is capable.”

Ali: A Life: Jonathan Eig had access to all the key people in Ali’s life to write this complete biography, including his three surviving wives and his managers. He conducted more than 500 interviews and uncovered thousands of pages of previously unreleased FBI and Justice Department files, as well dozens of hours of newly discovered audiotaped interviews from the 1960s. Collectively, they tell Ali’s story like never before—the story of a man who was flawed and uncertain and brave beyond belief.  “I am America,” he once declared. “I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me—black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.”  In providing insight into our of our century’s most well-known, complicated, and larger-than-life personalities, Eig also helps us understand the times in which Ali lived, and the legacy he left behind for us, in sports, culture, and politics.  This book is being hailed as a triumph, and has already made a number of ‘must read’ and ‘best of’ lists, and Kirkus gave it a starred review, calling it “An appropriately outsized—and first-rate—biography . . . Eig does a fine job of covering all the bases . . . An exemplary life of an exemplary man who, despite a few missteps, deserves to be remembered long into the future.”

Iraq + 100: There is no traditional of science fiction in Iraqi literature–or in most of the cultures of the Middle East.  The genre is generally the purview of  society who can look to the future in confidence and security.  But this collection of stories features Iraqi authors, living both in Iraq and around the world, to imagine their world, their home, their society, in a century, and to tell the story of what they saw.  Collected by Iraqi screnwriter and filmmaker Hassam Blasim, the result is a stunning, chilling, thought-provoking collection of stories that not only forces us to consider the power of the science fiction genre, but also the way the reality around us shapes our understanding of fiction and the future.  This collection has earned starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, and RT Book Reviews, and NPR described it as “Painful, difficult, and necessary; often beautiful, always harrowing. If that sits awkwardly with the conventions of Western science fiction that imagine dystopias at arm’s length and totalitarianism as fanciful thought-experiment, then perhaps now more than ever is the time for those conventions to change.”

The Indigo GirlYet another addition to the Books With ‘Girl’ In The Title collection, but this historic novel is yet another example of how that word, ‘Girl’, masks the strength, resilience, and determination of women across time.  This book is set between 1739 and 1744, and tells the story of Eliza Lucas, a sixteen-year-old whose father leaves her in charge of their family’s three plantations in rural South Carolina and then proceeds to bleed the estates dry.  With international tensions rising, Eliza’s mother wants nothing more than for their South Carolina endeavor to fail so they can go back to England.  Eliza, however, is determined to survive in this new world, even if her only allies are an aging horticulturalist, an older and married gentleman lawyer, and a slave with whom she strikes a dangerous deal: teach her the intricate thousand-year-old secret process of making indigo dye and in return — against the laws of the day — she will teach the slaves to read.  The real-life Eliza Lucas was a powerhouse of strength and determination who fundamentally changed the economy of the American colonies, and this well-researched story gives her her due, without shying away from the abhorrent system upon which she built her fortune.  Library Journal agrees, noting “Without preaching or judging, the narrative integrates the politics of gender inequality, race, and class into Eliza’s quest for confidence and allies…Boyd’s first historical novel captivates on every level, refreshingly crafting the eighteenth-century world of real-life Eliza Lucas Pinckney.”


Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

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