And a frigid one it is, dear readers. Though many of us consider ourselves hale and hearty New Englanders who tweak the nose of bad weather and giggle at climatic extremes…it’s really cold out there, and it never hurts to read, reread, and reminder ourselves of these helpful tips from the Red Cross about keeping everyone, humans and furry friends alike, safe during weather like this. They also have some winter tips and advisories for you to peruse.
We are here and the heat is on, so feel free to come warm up here at the Library, and take a gander at our books, movies, audiobooks, and other material to help pass these long winter nights. Here’s just a preview of some of the sensation books that have sidled onto our shelves this week:
After the End of the World: Personally speaking, I could not be more excited that this book has arrived on our shelves. It’s an open secret that Jonathan L. Howard is a Free-For-All favorite author, and his Carter and Lovecraft series is a terrific sci-fi adventure–particularly for fans of H.P. Lovecraft…particularly for those fans who would really like to confront and defy Lovecraft’s own odiousness while still enjoying the weirdness of his fiction. In this second book in this series, PI Daniel Carter and his erstwhile partner Emily Lovecraft find themselves trapped in the Unfolded World. In this world, the Cold War never happened because the Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1941. In this world the Nazi Großdeutschland is the premier superpower, and is not merely tolerated but indulged because, in this world, the Holocaust happened behind the ruins of the Iron Curtain and consumed only Bolsheviks, Communists, and others the West was glad to see gone. In this world, there are monsters, and not all of them are human. But even in the Unfolded World, there are still bills to pay and jobs to do. Carter finds himself working for the German secret security service to uncover the truth behind a major scientific joint project that is going suspiciously well. The trail takes Lovecraft and him to a distant, abandoned island, and a conspiracy that threatens everything. Fortunately, if there is a character who is going to face down the mind-bending darkness at play here, it’s Emily. And she has a shotgun. If my praise for Howard’s limitless imagination, fiendishly clever and detailed plotting, and talent for creating character you would willingly follow to the gates of Hell (often literally), then trust Booklist, who said in their review “This is a wonderful novel, ambitious on many levels and thoroughly successful. Its central characters are even more compelling than they were in their first appearance…and the story is diabolically clever and convoluted. As readers wait for the next installment, they will ask themselves where Howard will take Daniel and Emily next.”
The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny With a Dashing Stranger: Victoria Alexander’s Lady Travelers series is just what the armchair adventurer needs for days like this–intriguing characters, beautiful locales, smart adventures, and plenty of witty banter and chemistry to keep things moving at a wicked clip. When Lady Wilhelmina Bascombe’s carefree, extravagant lifestyle vanishes with the demise of her husband, her only hope lies in retrieving a family treasure—a Renaissance masterpiece currently in the hands of a cunning art collector in Venice. Thankfully, the Lady Travelers Society has orchestrated a clever plan to get Willie to Europe, leading a tour of mothers and daughters…and one curiously attentive man. Dante Augustus Montague’s one passion has long been his family’s art collection. He’s finally tracked a long-lost painting to the enchanting Lady Bascombe. Convinced that the canvas had been stolen, he will use any means to reclaim his birthright—including deception. But how long before pretend infatuation gives way to genuine desire? Willie and Dante know they’re playing with fire in the magical moonlit city. Their common quest could compromise them both…or lead them to happily-ever-after. The Lady Travelers series has already won plenty of acclaim already, and this second installment has been praised by critics and readers alike, with RT Book Reviews saying “”Alexander is an original and so are her romances…[she] fulfills readers’ desires and then some.”
Fool’s River: Timothy Hallinan’s Poke Rafferty thrillers deal with some pretty rough themes, including the Bangkok sex trade, but Hallinan balances these issues with such humanity and genuine sympathy that it makes his stories quite the compelling read. In this eighth book in the series, Poke, a Bangkok writer, is facing down the worst days of his life. It all started when Edward Dell, the almost-boyfriend of Poke’s teenage daughter, Miao pays an emergency visit. The boy’s father, Buddy, a late-middle-aged womanizer who has moved to Bangkok for happy hunting, has disappeared, and money is being siphoned out of his bank and credit card accounts. It soon becomes apparent that Buddy is in the hands of a pair of killers who prey on Bangkok’s “sexpats”; when his accounts are empty, he’ll be found, like a dozen others before him, floating facedown in a Bangkok canal with a weighted cast on his unbroken leg. His money is almost gone. Over forty-eight frantic hours, Poke does everything he can to locate Buddy before it’s too late. Publisher’s Weekly gave this series entry a starred review, calling it “Outstanding . . . Fans of hard-boiled detective fiction will feel right at home.”
What It’s Like to Be a Dog: People with pets–and, no doubt, people without pets–often wonder just what is going on in the brains of the animals with whom we share this planet. Enter neuroscientist Gregory Berns, who set out to discover what it’s like to be a dog…and a bat….and a dolphin? Berns and his team began with a radical step: they taught dogs to go into an MRI scanner–completely awake. They discovered what makes dogs individuals with varying capacities for self-control, different value systems, and a complex understanding of human speech. It turns out, they are as emotionally complex, in many ways, as the humans they love. And dogs were just the beginning. In this fascinating, insightful, and wonderfully educational book, Berns explores the fascinating inner lives of wild animals from dolphins and sea lions to the extinct Tasmanian tiger. This book has gotten high praise from critics and readers, as well as experts like Temple Grandin and the Humane Society of the United States, who noted “Gregory Berns is a remarkable scientist, whose pioneering MRI studies of the brain across a range of species have opened up a pathway to deeper understanding of animals’ internal awareness and perspectives. He’s also an exceptional thinker, whose grasp of the ethical and practical significance of his findings for the status and treatment of animals is pervasive in this absorbing work.”
Hellfire Boys: The rules and experience of war changed permanently in 1915 when the German Army successfully unleashed poisoned gas along the Western Front of the First World War, earning international fury, as well as launching a new kind of international arms race. The development of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service in 1917 left an indelible imprint on World War I. This small yet powerful division, along with the burgeoning Bureau of Mines, assembled research and military unites devoted solely to chemical weaponry, outfitting regiments with hastily made gas-resistant uniforms and recruiting scientists and engineers from around the world into the fight. Drawing from years of research, Theo Emery brilliantly shows how World War I quickly spiraled into a chemists’ war, one led by the companies of young American engineers-turned-soldiers who would soon become known as the “Hellfire Boys.” As gas attacks began to mark the heaviest and most devastating battles, these brave and brilliant men were on the front lines, racing to protect, develop, and unleash the latest weapons of mass destruction. Emery’s book emphasizes the importance of the First World War to American history, not only in terms of military technology, but also in understanding the ruthlessness of modern military ideology, in a work that earned a starred review from Library Journal, who praised both his research and storytelling skills: “Moving crisply between stateside turf wars and battlefront combat, this well-written and well-researched slice of history will appeal to virtually any history or war buff.”
Until next week, beloved patrons, happy reading!