Tag Archives: Five Book Friday

Five Book Friday!

We also wanted to alert you to the fact that the West Branch Library is once again a site for early voting in Massachusetts!

Early voting will begin on October 22nd and continue through
November 2nd, 2018. Prior to the enactment of this new law, the only way a registered voter was allowed to vote prior to Election Day was through absentee voting. Although absentee voting will still be available for registered voters who qualify, only those who will be absent from their city or town on Election Day, or have a disability that prevents them from going to the polls, or have a religious belief
preventing the same, are legally allowed to vote by absentee ballot.
Unlike absentee voting, early voting is for every registered voter. Registered voters do not need an excuse or reason to vote early. Regardless of whether a voter wants to take advantage of early voting, vote absentee or vote on Election Day, the first step is making sure you are registered. To check to see if you are registered to vote, and to find information on how to register to vote, you may visit the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website. To be eligible to vote in the November 6th State Election, you must have registered to vote or made any necessary changes to your voter registration by Wednesday, October 17th, 2018.

Check out this handy fact sheet for early voting times and locations around Peabody!

And now, on to the books!

MelmouthAnyone who savored Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent will no doubt be delighted to hear her second novel has arrived!  For those who haven’t yet encountered this magical world, do yourself a favor and do so!  It has been years since Helen Franklin left England. In Prague, working as a translator, she has found a home of sorts—or, at least, refuge. That changes when her friend Karel discovers a mysterious letter in the library, a strange confession and a curious warning that speaks of Melmoth the Witness, a dark legend found in obscure fairy tales and antique village lore. As such superstition has it, Melmoth travels through the ages, dooming those she persuades to join her to a damnation of timeless, itinerant solitude. To Helen it all seems the stuff of unenlightened fantasy. But, unaware, as she wanders the cobblestone streets Helen is being watched. And then Karel disappears.   What unfolds is a spellbinding, time-hopping, thoroughly haunting tale that is as philosophical as it is chilling, and is sure to keep you in suspense through these ever-lengthening nights!  Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review, describing it as “An unforgettable achievement…Perry’s heartbreaking, horrifying monster confronts the characters not just with the uncanny but also with the human: with humanity’s complicity in history’s darkest moments, its capacity for guilt, its power of witness, and its longing for both companionship and redemption.”

Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger: Women are angry, and with every passing day, it seems that rage is more and more justified.  But, as Soraya Chemaly notes throughout this book, contrary to the rhetoric of popular “self-help” and an entire lifetime of being told otherwise, women’s rage is one of the most important resources available, the sharpest tool against both personal and political oppression. Women have been told for so long to bottle up our anger, letting it corrode their bodies and minds in ways they don’t even realize. Yet anger is a vital instrument, a radar for injustice and a catalyst for change. On the flip side, the societal and cultural belittlement of our anger is a cunning way of limiting and controlling our power.  With insight, energy, and wit, Chemaly insists that anger is not what gets in our way, it is our way, sparking a new understanding of one of our core emotions that will give women a liberating sense of why their anger matters and connect them to an entire universe of women no longer interested in making nice at all costs.  The Guardian loved this book, praising it in a beautiful review which read in part “Rage is a battle-cry of a book, drawing on all corner of contemporary life, from media to education and medicine. She takes the reader through a woman’s life, from infancy to adulthood, highlighting the systemic ways female rage is suppressed, diverted or minimalised. And she provides scientific evidence to back up her ideas. If life as a modern woman is maddening, then Rage is a sanity-restorer.”

Shell Game: Sara Paretsky’s acclaimed detective, V.I. Warshawski, is back, and taking on a twisting shocker of a case that is sure to keep fans spellbound.  Legendary sleuth V.I. Warshawski returns to the Windy City to save an old friend’s nephew from a murder arrest. The case involves a stolen artifact that could implicate a shadowy network of international criminals. As V.I. investigates, the detective soon finds herself tangling with the Russian mob, ISIS backers, and a shady network of stock scams and stolen art that stretches from Chicago to the East Indies and the Middle East. This is a case where nothing and no one are what they seem, except for the detective herself, who loses sleep, money, and blood, but remains indomitable in her quest for justice. Booklist gave this series installment a starred review, calling it “An expertly woven tale… Paretsky’s landmark series remains as popular as ever, and the social consciousness behind the stories seems ever more in tune with contemporary events.”

Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times: If you’re like me, and had a sensational crush on Chopin, then this is the book for you!  Based on ten years of research and a vast cache of primary sources located in archives in Warsaw, Paris, London, New York, and Washington, D.C., Alan Walker’s monumental work is the most comprehensive biography of the great Polish composer to appear in English in more than a century. Walker’s work is a corrective biography, intended to dispel the many myths and legends that continue to surround Chopin. Throughout this compelling text, Walker presents the intricate dynamics of a dramatic life; of particular focus are Chopin’s childhood and youth in Poland, which are brought into line with the latest scholarly findings, and Chopin’s romantic life with George Sand, with whom he lived for nine years. Comprehensive and engaging, and written in highly readable prose, the biography wears its scholarship lightly: this is a book suited as much for the professional pianist as it is for the casual music lover. Kirkus agreed, giving this book a starred review and calling it “A sensitively discerning examination of a 19th-century superstar . . . a magnificent, elegantly written biography . . . An absorbing biography unlikely to be surpassed anytime soon.”

1,000 Books to Read: A Life-Changing List: This marvelous book takes the stress of dying out of your reading experience by instead presenting the volumes that will help you live a more full, engaged life.  Covering fiction, poetry, science and science fiction, memoir, travel writing, biography, children’s books, history, and more, these selections ranges across cultures and through time to offer an eclectic collection of works that each deserve to come with the recommendation, You have to read this. But it’s not a proscriptive list of the “great works”—rather, it’s a celebration of the glorious mosaic that is our literary heritage.  There are nuts and bolts, too—best editions to read, other books by the author, “if you like this, you’ll like that” recommendations , and an interesting endnote of adaptations where appropriate. Add it all up, and in fact there are more than six thousand titles by nearly four thousand authors mentioned—a life-changing list for a lifetime of reading.  Booklist waxes rhapsodical about this work, giving it a starred review and saying “Every so often, a reference book appears that changes the landscape of its area of focus. In the case of reading and readers’ advisory, this is one such book….lively, witty, insightful prose…It might be wise to invest in several copies of this wonderful meditation on life lived with and enhanced by the written word.”

Until next week, beloved patrons–Happy Reading!

Five Book Friday!

And a very happy Free-For-All birthday to Italian poet, prose writer, editor, translator, and 1975 Nobel Prize Laureate Eugenio Montale!

From Poets.org:

Eugenio MontaleEugenio Montale was born into a family of businessmen in Genoa on October 12, 1896. During World War I, he served as an infantry officer on the Austrian front. Originally, Montale had trained to be an opera singer, but when his voice teacher died in 1923, he gave up singing and concentrated his efforts on writing. After his first book, Ossi di seppia (Cuttlefish Bones), appeared in 1925, Montale was received by critics as a profoundly original and experimental poet…He was dismissed from his directorship of the Gabinetto Vieusseux research library in 1938 for refusing to join the Fascist party. He withdrew from public life and began translating English writers such as ShakespeareT. S. EliotHerman Melville, and Eugene O’Neill. In 1939, Le occasioni(The Occasions) appeared, his most innovative book, followed by La bufera e altro (The Storm and Other Things, 1956). It was this trio of books that won Montale the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1975…Montale was also a prolific essayist, writer of stories and travel sketches, distinguished music critic, translator, and amateur painter.  He died in Milan in 1981 at the age of 85.

Visit poets.org to read more about Montale and read his stunning work!

And now: on to the books!

Small Country: A new arrival to our shelves, Gaël Faye’s novel is already a prize-winner France, and has been longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.  Set in Burundi in 1992, the book tells the tale of  ten-year-old Gabriel, who lives in the idyllic expatriate neighborhood of Bujumbura with his French father, Rwandan mother and little sister Ana.  These are carefree days of laughter and adventure – sneaking Supermatch cigarettes and gorging on stolen mangoes – as he and his mischievous gang of friends transform their tiny cul-de-sac into their kingdom. But dark clouds are gathering over this small country, and soon their peaceful existence will shatter when Burundi, and neighboring Rwanda, are brutally hit by civil war and genocide.  This is a story that focuses on some of the darkest aspects of recent African and, indeed, global memory, but also the potential for healing that came after it, make Faye’s ability to balance darkness with light is precisely what makes this work so compelling.  The Guardian agrees, calling this work
“Luminous… This is a book that demanded to be written, not only to mark the lives lost in Burundi and Rwanda, but also to show the way in which violence can take hold of a nation. With a light touch, Faye dramatises the terrible nostalgia of having lost
not only a childhood but also a whole world to war.” 

Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster: While I inherently resent books that call any aspect of history “forgotten”, there is no denying the significance of the story that Stephen Carter has told in this new book.  Eunice Hunton Carter, Stephen Carter’s grandmother, was raised in a world of stultifying expectations about race and gender, yet by the 1940s, her professional and political successes had made her one of the most famous black women in America.  A graduate of Smith College and the granddaughter of slaves,her triumphs were shadowed by prejudice and tragedy. Greatly complicating her rise was her difficult relationship with her younger brother, Alphaeus, an avowed Communist who―together with his friend Dashiell Hammett―would go to prison during the McCarthy era. Yet she remained unbowed.  And without the strategy she devised, Lucky Luciano, the most powerful Mafia boss in history, would never have been convicted. When special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey selected twenty lawyers to help him clean up the city’s underworld, she was the only member of his team who was not a white male.  Publisher’s Weekly gave this remarkable history a starred review, describing how “Carter’s enthusiasm for his grandmother’s incredible fortitude despite numerous setbacks is contagious; Eunice Carter’s story is another hidden gem of African-American history.”

A Dream Called Home: A Memoir: When Reyna Grande was nine-years-old, she walked across the US–Mexico border in search of a home, desperate to be reunited with the parents who had left her behind years before for a better life in the City of Angels. What she found instead was an indifferent mother, an abusive, alcoholic father, and a school system that belittled her heritage. With so few resources at her disposal, Reyna finds refuge in words, and it is her love of reading and writing that propels her to rise above until she achieves the impossible and is accepted to the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Although her acceptance is a triumph, the actual experience of American college life is intimidating and unfamiliar for someone like Reyna, who is now once again estranged from her family and support system. Again, she finds solace in words, holding fast to her vision of becoming a writer, only to discover she knows nothing about what it takes to make a career out of a dream.  Reyna Grande’s remarkable memoir The Distance Between Ushas has become required reading in schools across the country, and this moving addition to her story helps us see another side of her, as well as a moving aspect of the immigrant experience overall.  Kirkus Reviews loved this book, calling it “Candid and emotionally complex, Grande’s book celebrates one woman’s tenacity in the face of hardship and heartbreak while offering hope to other immigrants as they “fight to remain” and make their voices heard in a changing America. A heartfelt, inspiring, and relevant memoir.”

The Best of the Best Horror of the Year: A perfect selection for All Hallows Read, this collection features ten year’s worth of essential short horror fiction from some of the most acclaimed names in the genre. For more than three decades, editor and anthologist Ellen Datlow, winner of multiple Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, has had her finger on the pulse of the horror genre, introducing readers to writers whose tales can unnerve, frighten, and terrify. This anniversary volume, which collects the best stories from the first ten years of her annual The Best Horror of the Year anthology series, includes fiction from award-winning and critically acclaimed authors Neil Gaiman, Livia Llewellyn, Laird Barron, Gemma Files, Stephen Graham Jones, and many more.  Booklist loved this collection, describing it as “A survey of some of the best horror writing of the last decade. . . . highly recommended for anyone interested in contemporary horror and dark fantasy, as well as anyone looking for a collection of some of the best and most horrifying short fiction currently available.”

The Golden StateIn Lydia Kiesling’s razor-sharp debut novel, we accompany Daphne, a young mother on the edge of a breakdown, as she flees her sensible but strained life in San Francisco for the high desert of Altavista with her toddler, Honey. Bucking under the weight of being a single parent―her Turkish husband is unable to return to the United States because of a “processing error”―Daphne takes refuge in a mobile home left to her by her grandparents in hopes that the quiet will bring clarity.  But clarity proves elusive. Over the next ten days Daphne is anxious, she behaves a little erratically, she drinks too much. She wanders the town looking for anyone and anything to punctuate the long hours alone with the baby. Among others, she meets Cindy, a neighbor who is active in a secessionist movement, and befriends the elderly Alice, who has traveled to Altavista as she approaches the end of her life. When her relationships with these women culminate in a dangerous standoff, Daphne must reconcile her inner narrative with the reality of a deeply divided world. A keenly observed, emotional tale, Kiesilng’s novel was awarded a starred review by Publisher’s Weekly, who noted, “Kiesling’s intimate, culturally perceptive debut portrays a frazzled mother and a fractious America, both verging on meltdown . . . Kiesling depicts parenting in the digital age with humor and brutal honesty and offers insights into language, academics, and even the United Nations. But perhaps best of all is her thought-provoking portrait of a pioneer community in decline as anger and obsession fray bonds between neighbors, family, and fellow citizens.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

 

Five Book Friday

And our hearty and heartfelt congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege.

https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/nobel-peace-prize-2018-intl-dle/index.html

From the Nobel Peace Prize Committee:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict…Each of them in their own way has helped to give greater visibility to war-time sexual violence, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions.

The physician Denis Mukwege has spent large parts of his adult life helping the victims of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since the Panzi Hospital was established in Bukavu in 1999, Dr. Mukwege and his staff have treated thousands of patients who have fallen victim to such assaults. Most of the abuses have been committed in the context of a long-lasting civil war that has cost the lives of more than six million Congolese.

Nadia Murad is herself a victim of war crimes. She refused to accept the social codes that require women to remain silent and ashamed of the abuses to which they have been subjected. She has shown uncommon courage in recounting her own sufferings and speaking up on behalf of other victims.

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize is firmly embedded in the criteria spelled out in Alfred Nobel’s will. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad have both put their personal security at risk by courageously combating war crimes and seeking justice for the victims. They have thereby promoted the fraternity of nations through the application of principles of international law.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1027234/nobel-peace-prize-winners-2018-Denis-Mukwege-Nadia-Murad

You can read more about both of these remarkable human beings on the Nobel Peace Prize Committee’s website.  There is little we can add here, except for our thanks to Dr. Mukwege and Ms. Murad for all they have done, all they will continue to do, and for the inspiration they provide to others.

Waiting for EdenElliot Ackerman is a veteran himself, and his experiences add real depth and emotion to his novel, a National Book Award Finalist, about a veteran coping with the overwhelming challenge of returning home. Eden Malcom lies in a bed, unable to move or to speak, imprisoned in his own mind, covered in burns and existing on life support. His wife Mary spends every day on the sofa in his hospital room. He has never even met their young daughter. And he will never again see the friend and fellow soldier who didn’t make it back home–and who narrates the novel while awaiting his journey to whatever afterlife awaits. But on Christmas, the one day Mary is not at his bedside, Eden’s re-ordered consciousness comes flickering alive. As he begins to find a way to communicate, some troubling truths about his marriage–and about his life before he went to war–come to the surface. Is Eden the same man he once was?  Who is there to tell him who he truly is?  This is a profound and moving novel that centers on a small-scale story, while making big, important claims about the world around the characters–and around the readers, as well.  As the Washington Post wrote in their review, this is: “A classic triangle story of love and friendship, a ghost story, a captivity narrative, and a study of human endurance . . . all of it easily read in one sitting . . . Ackerman’s novel quietly suggests that America itself is a ghost story, and we are all in the act of waiting for Eden.” 

The Shakespeare Requirement: If anyone else out there thought that Julie Schumacher’s first novel, Dear Committee Members, was one of the most darkly funny, cathartic novels in recent memory, then get ready for another novel about the ins, outs, ups, and downs of reality in academia, told with Schumacker’s unflinching eye for quirky detail.  Now is the fall of his discontent, as Jason Fitger, newly appointed chair of the English Department of Payne University, takes arms against a sea of troubles, personal and institutional. His ex-wife is sleeping with the dean who must approve whatever modest initiatives he undertakes. The fearsome department secretary Fran clearly runs the show (when not taking in rescue parrots and dogs) and holds plenty of secrets she’s not sharing. The lavishly funded Econ Department keeps siphoning off English’s meager resources and has taken aim at its remaining office space. And Fitger’s attempt to get an antediluvian Shakespeare scholar to retire backfires spectacularly when the press concludes that the Bard is being kicked to the curricular curb.  Schumacher writes acidic satire, with zero tolerance for hypocrisy, and an absolutely delightful sense of humor that has to be read to be believed.  Kirkus Reviews gave this sensational book a starred review, noting, “”Schumacher abandons the epistolary style of her previous novel for a straight narrative but retains all of its acid satire in a sequel that is far more substantive and just as funny… A witty but kindhearted academic satire that oscillates between genuine compassion and scathing mockery with admirable dexterity.”

Kill the Queen: The first novel in Jennifer Estep’s Crown of Shards epic fantasy series is a sure-fire treat for Game of Thrones fans looking for a new series to savor.  In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten. But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre. Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move. But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.  Booklist hailed the arrival of this series’ opener, noting “Estep starts an exciting new fantasy series full of magic, fierce women, and revenge.”

Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience, and the Fight for a Sustainable Future: Mary Robinson was the first female president of the Republic of Ireland, and is now the UN Special Envoy on Climate Change, and as such, this slim work is powerful indeed.  Since 2003, Robinson has been traveling the world to raise awareness of, and investigate the realities of climate change. Mary Robinson’s mission would lead her all over the world, from Malawi to Mongolia, and to a heartening revelation: that an irrepressible driving force in the battle for climate justice could be found at the grassroots level, mainly among women, many of them mothers and grandmothers like herself. From Sharon Hanshaw, the Mississippi matriarch whose campaign began in her East Biloxi hair salon and culminated in her speaking at the United Nations, to Constance Okollet, a small farmer who transformed the fortunes of her ailing community in rural Uganda, Robinson met with ordinary people whose resilience and ingenuity had already unlocked extraordinary change.  Library Journal gave this remarkable book a starred review, explaining that  “Robinson puts a human face on this politically charged issue, adding to the climate change conversation. Highly recommended.”

The Tango War: The Struggle for the Hearts, Minds and Riches of Latin America During World War II: Mary Jo McConahay fills an important gap in our understanding of the Second World War with this view of Latin America, and how all the combatant nations of the world attempted to gain influence and power in the area.  The fight was often dirty: residents were captured to exchange for U.S. prisoners of war and rival spy networks shadowed each other across the continent.  Though the Allies triumphed, at the war’s inception it looked like the Axis would win. A flow of raw materials in the Southern Hemisphere, at a high cost in lives, was key to ensuring Allied victory, as were military bases supporting the North African campaign, the Battle of the Atlantic and the invasion of Sicily, and fending off attacks on the Panama Canal. Allies secured loyalty through espionage and diplomacy―including help from Hollywood and Mickey Mouse―while Jews and innocents among ethnic groups ―Japanese, Germans―paid an unconscionable price. Mexican pilots flew in the Philippines and twenty-five thousand Brazilians breached the Gothic Line in Italy.  This is an eye-opening account that is a must-read for history buffs, espionage aficionados, and thriller fans alike! Kirkus Reviews gave this book a starred review, as well, praising the fact that “McConahay gives an account thick with detail and unexpected twists regarding America’s efforts to control the resources of Latin America. Fast-paced and informative, this is essential reading for anyone who wants to better understand World War II and some of the forces that led to it.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons: Happy Reading!

Five Book Friday!

We are here to provide resources to those who need them.  Here is the contact information for RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization

  • Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
  • When you call 800.656.HOPE (4673), you’ll be routed to a local RAINN affiliate organization based on the first six digits of your phone number. Cell phone callers have the option to enter the ZIP code of their current location to more accurately locate the nearest sexual assault service provider.

And now, on to the books:

Time’s Converts:  Deborah Harkness, author of the beloved All Souls Trilogy brings another time-hopping paranormal love story that is sure to delight her legions of fans.  On the battlefields of the American Revolution, Matthew de Clermont meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during a moment of political awakening when it seems that the world is on the brink of a brighter future. When Matthew offers him a chance at immortality and a new life free from the restraints of his puritanical upbringing, Marcus seizes the opportunity to become a vampire. But his transformation is not an easy one and the ancient traditions and responsibilities of the de Clermont family clash with Marcus’s deeply held beliefs in liberty, equality, and brotherhood.  Fast-forward to contemporary Paris, where Phoebe Taylor–the young employee at Sotheby’s with whom Marcus has fallen in love–is about to embark on her own journey to immortality. Though the modernized version of the process at first seems uncomplicated, the couple discovers that the challenges facing a human who wishes to be a vampire are no less formidable than they were in the eighteenth century. The shadows that Marcus believed he’d escaped centuries ago may return to haunt them both–forever.  A historian herself, Harkness imbues her books with a memorable view of the past and its intersections with the present in a way that Booklist hailed in its review, saying “Effortlessly sweeping across time and continents . . . Harkness replaces the captivating Matthew and Diana dynamic with a passionate new love story.”

CoDex 1962Icelandic author and Oscar-nominated songwriter Sjón has earned a global reputation for his utterly unique stories, and now his most famous trilogy of books (outside the English-speaking world) is available in an English translation.  Josef Löwe, the narrator of this tale, was born at precisely the same moment as Sjón himself.  Josef’s story, however, stretches back decades in the form of Leo Löwe―a Jewish fugitive during World War II who has an affair with a maid in a German inn; together, they form a baby from a piece of clay.  In the second story, Löwe arrives in Iceland with the clay-baby inside a hatbox, only to be embroiled in a murder mystery―but by the end of the volume, his clay son has come to life. And in the final volume, set in present-day Reykjavík, Josef’s story becomes science fiction as he crosses paths with the outlandish CEO of a biotech company (based closely on reality) who brings the story of genetics and genesis full circle.  This is a story that is part folklore, part traditional epic, part sci-fi, part mystery, and all together a unique story that Sjón’s fans and new comers alike will savor.  Kirkus Reviews gave this book a starred review, noting “In this beguiling, surpassingly eccentric triptych, Icelandic novelist Sjón takes on, in turn, romance (classic, not Gothic), mystery, and science fiction to examine how people parse themselves into little camps and try to make their way through this harsh world . . . Sjón’s work is unlike anything else in contemporary fiction. Strange―but stunning.”

Your Duck is My DuckDeborah Eisenberg is a gifted short-story writer, and that talent shines through in this new collection. In Eisenberg’s world(s), the forces of money, sex, and power cannot be escaped, and the force of history, whether confronted or denied, cannot be evaded.  These forces wind through a varied and engrossing set of tales: a tormented woman whose face determines her destiny; a group of film actors shocked to read a book about their past; a privileged young man who unexpectedly falls into a love affair with a human rights worker caught up in an all-consuming quest that he doesn’t understand.  The result is a collection that earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, who called it …”superlative and entertaining…Eisenberg is funny, grim, biting, and wise, but always with a light touch and always in the service of worlds that extend far beyond the page. A virtuoso at rendering the flickering gestures by which people simultaneously hide and reveal themselves, Eisenberg is an undisputed master of the short story.”

We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time:  Chef José Andrés arrived in Puerto Rico four days after Hurricane Maria ripped through the island. The economy was destroyed and for most people there was no clean water, no food, no power, no gas, and no way to communicate with the outside world.  Andrés addressed the humanitarian crisis the only way he knew how: by feeding people, one hot meal at a time. From serving sancocho with his friend José Enrique at Enrique’s ravaged restaurant in San Juan to eventually cooking 100,000 meals a day at more than a dozen kitchens across the island, Andrés and his team fed hundreds of thousands of people, including with massive paellas made to serve thousands of people alone.. At the same time, they also confronted a crisis with deep roots, as well as the broken and wasteful system that helps keep some of the biggest charities and NGOs in business. Based on Andrés’s insider’s take as well as on meetings, messages, and conversations he had while in Puerto Rico, this book movingly describes how a network of community kitchens activated real change and tells an extraordinary story of hope in the face of disasters both natural and man-made, offering suggestions for how to address a crisis like this in the future. This book earned another starred review from Kirkus Reviews, who cheered “…The author’s passion to help people is palpable . . . His actions should be the basis for future work by FEMA and other humanitarian agencies . . . A passionate and courageous story that should be required reading for anyone involved in disaster response.”

One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our DemocracyIn this timely and insightful work, Carol Anderson considers the ramifications and results of the 2013 Supreme Court ruling Shelby County v. Holder, also known as the Shelby Ruling, eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, allowing districts with a demonstrated history of racial discrimination to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice.  Focusing on the aftermath of Shelby, Anderson follows the astonishing story of government-dictated racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws. In gripping, enlightening detail she explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures, as well as the efforts of grassroots organizations and individuals to ensure the basic rights of democratic citizenship.  Anderson’s book was named a Pick of the Month by Library Journal, who wrote in their review, “In White Rage, a New York Times best seller that won the National Book Critics Circle Award,Emory professor Anderson chronicled efforts since 1865 to block the advancement of African Americans. Here she concentrates on efforts to curtail the African American vote since the 2013 Shelby ruling gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Anderson considers both consequences–e.g., photo ID requirements, poll closures–and means of redress.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons, happy reading.

Five Book Friday!

In addition to checking out some of the sensational books that have pirouetted onto our shelves this week, beloved patrons, we also wanted to bring you some information about hurricane relief efforts.  Our neighbors and friends in North Carolina, South Carolina, and the mid-Atlantic region in general are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Florence, and they need our help.  While the extent of the damage–and, hence, the extent of the need–is not yet fully known, there are several ways in which you can provide immediate help.

Via Raleigh Dream Center

First and foremost, the American Red Cross has set up a website devoted specifically to donations for hurricane relief.  You can also make donations over the phone by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or texting “FLORENCE” to 90999. When calling or donating online, make sure to designate your donation to Florence relief efforts.

In addition, the Red Cross is also asking for blood donations, which can be made locally.  Check the Red Cross website to find the closest donation location to you.

The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina has been active in dozens of communities in North and South Carolina for more than 35 years, and is working hard to provide food, water, hygiene items, and cleaning supplies to the thousands affected by the hurricane.  While we can’t really send them food, there is a virtual food drive that remains ongoing, in which you can participate.  Additionally, monetary donations are appreciated.

In South Carolina, the One SC Fund works to support the state by funding nonprofits with grants during state-declared emergencies. For Tropical Depression Florence relief, the One SC Fund is accepting donations online. The Fund states these donations will support other nonprofits “that are, and will be, responding to the needs of individuals affected by Hurricane Florence.”

In North Carolina, the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund is currently accepting contributions for Hurricane Florence damage. Contributions will help with immediate unmet needs of Hurricane Florence victims. Contributions can be made online by secure link, or you can text “Florence” to 20222.  Alternatively, checks can be mailed to:

North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund
20312 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699

As always, if you are not able to donate at this time, please do not worry.  There will always be ways to help, and any contributions you can make at any time will be appreciated.  And thank you in advance for your good will and kindness!

And now…on to the books!

Arthur Ashe: A Life:Born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1943, by the age of eleven, Arthur Ashe was one of the state’s most talented black tennis players. Jim Crow restrictions barred Ashe from competing with whites. Still, in 1960 he won the National Junior Indoor singles title, which led to a tennis scholarship at UCLA. He became the first African American to play for the US Davis Cup team in 1963, and two years later he won the NCAA singles championship. In 1968, he won both the US Amateur title and the first US Open title, rising to a number one national ranking. Turning professional in 1969, he soon became one of the world’s most successful tennis stars, winning the Australian Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1975. After retiring in 1980, he served four years as the US Davis Cup captain and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1985.  In this fascinating biography, Raymond Arsenault chronicles Ashe’s rise to stardom on the court, as well as his off-court career as a writing, historian of tennis, and human rights activist in the United States, as well as an advocate for the destruction of Apartheid policies in South Africa.  Additionally, Arsenault takes us through Ashe’s heart condition, which led to multiple surgeries and blood transfusions, one of which left him HIV-positive. In 1988, after completing a three-volume history of African-American athletes, he was diagnosed with AIDS, a condition he revealed only four years later. After devoting the last ten months of his life to AIDS activism, he died in February 1993 at the age of forty-nine, leaving an inspiring legacy of dignity, integrity, and active citizenship.  This is an important, overdue, and highly enjoyable biography that is being praised by readers, critics, and tennis players, as well!  The New York Times Review of Books gave it a resoundingly positive review, saying “For those who have long admired Ashe, this close look at his life offers even more evidence that he was more than a great player, he was an extraordinary person. . . . among the best books about tennis I’ve ever read — it’s a deep, detailed, thoughtful chronicle of one of the country’s best and most important players.”

The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots & the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War: Neal Bascombe’s popular histories of the First World War are well-researched, thoughtful, and deeply engaging stories that make history feel real and vital.  This book is no exception, delving into the world of POW camps during the First World War.  For Allied soldiers, one of the worst camps was Holzminden, a land-locked prison that housed the most troublesome, escape-prone prisoners. Its commandant was a boorish, hate-filled tyrant named Karl Niemeyer who swore that none should ever leave.  Desperate to break out of “Hellminden” and return to the fight, a group of Allied prisoners led by ace pilot (and former Army sapper) David Gray hatch an elaborate escape plan. Their plot demands a risky feat of engineering as well as a bevy of disguises, forged documents, fake walls, and steely resolve. Once beyond the watch towers and round-the-clock patrols, Gray and almost a dozen of his half-starved fellow prisoners must then make a heroic 150 mile dash through enemy-occupied territory towards free Holland.  Bascombe’s work is based on letters, diaries, and other first-hand accounts of this sensational escape that is earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews who called it “Fast-paced account of a forgotten episode of World War I history . . . Stirring . . . Bascomb’s portraits of the principals are affecting . . . Expertly narrated, with just the right level of detail and drama.”

The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War: Those of you looking for some more sensational war stories will love this latest from Ben Macintyre, whose work on espionage history has resulted in some highly entertaining real-life spy stories.  This book tells the story of Oleg Gordievsky, who took his first posting for Russian intelligence in 1968 and eventually became the Soviet Union’s top man in London.  However, Gordievsky was also a double agent, and from 1973, was secretly working for Britain’s MI6.  For nearly a decade, as the Cold War reached its twilight, Gordievsky helped the West turn the tables on the KGB, exposing Russian spies and helping to foil countless intelligence plots, as the Soviet leadership grew increasingly paranoid.  Desperate to keep the circle of trust close, MI6 never revealed Gordievsky’s name to its counterparts in the CIA, which in turn grew obsessed with figuring out the identity of Britain’s obviously top-level source. Their obsession ultimately doomed Gordievsky: the CIA officer assigned to identify him was none other than Aldrich Ames, the man who would become infamous for secretly spying for the Soviets.  Culminating in the gripping cinematic beat-by-beat of Gordievsky’s nail-biting escape from Moscow in 1985, this is a history book that fans of many genres will savor.  The Guardian wrote a glowing review of the book, noting “Macintrye had no access to MI6’s archives, which remain secret. But he has interviewed all of the former officers involved in the case, who tell their stories for the first time. He spoke extensively to Gordievsky, who is now 79 and living in the home counties – a remarkable figure, “proud, shrewd and irascible”. The result is a dazzling non-fiction thriller and an intimate portrait of high-stakes espionage.”

Washington Black: Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize yesterday, Esi Edugyan’s novel tells the story of George Washington Black, or “Wash,” an eleven-year-old field slave on a Barbados sugar plantation.  Although initially terrified to be chosen by his master’s brother as his manservant, Wash is surprised to learn the eccentric Christopher Wilde is a naturalist, explorer, inventor, and abolitionist.  Soon Wash is initiated into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky, where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning–and where two people, separated by an impossible divide, can begin to see each other as human. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash’s head, Christopher and Wash must abandon everything, escaping along the eastern coast of America, and, finally, to a remote outpost in the Arctic. What brings Christopher and Wash together will tear them apart, propelling Wash even further across the globe in search of his true self.  This is a novel about freedom and friendship that is as thought-provoking as it is wonderfully imaginative.  Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred (and boxed!) review, raving that “Edugyan’s magnificent third novel again demonstrates her range and gifts . . . Framing the story with rich evocations of the era’s science and the world it studies, Edugyan mines the tensions between individual goodwill and systemic oppression, belonging and exclusion, wonder and terror, and human and natural order . . . Crafted in supple, nuanced prose, Edugyan’s novel is both searing and beautiful.”

Ordinary People: Diana Evans is known for confronting difficult topics in her books with indefatigable humanity, and this novel is no exception, capturing the struggles of two married couples.  In a crooked house in South London, Melissa feels increasingly that she’s defined solely by motherhood, while Michael mourns the former thrill of their romance. In the suburbs, Stephanie’s aspirations for bliss on the commuter belt, coupled with her white middle-class upbringing, compound Damian’s itch for a bigger life catalyzed by the death of his activist father. Longtime friends from the years when passion seemed permanent, the couples have stayed in touch, gathering for births and anniversaries, bonding over discussions of politics, race, and art. But as bonds fray, the lines once clearly marked by wedding bands aren’t so simply defined.  Evans is the kind of writing who can make everyday details feel extraordinary, and that talent makes this story about the fragile bonds that bind us together so moving.  Library Journal had a world of good things to say about this class, noting “This new novel from Evans…tells the story of a group of young, mostly black Londoners searching for equanimity in their personal and professional lives, with the music of John Legend, Jill Scott, and Amy Winehouse providing the soundtrack as they navigate the rocky roads from dating to mating and parenting…. With astute observations on marriage and parenthood… and an accompanying playlist to boot, this novel is anything but ordinary. It’s a sparkling gem.”

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

Five Book Friday!

Via BuzzFeed

And, as promised, we all bring you the 2018 National Book Award Longlist for Fiction!  The announcement was made about an hour ago, and we are pleased as punch to bring the results to you!  As with yesterday’s list, clicking on the author’s name will bring you to their National Book Award author’s page.  Clicking on the title will bring you to the library page where you can check on the book’s availability and request it.

Fiction

 

And now, on to the books on our shelves!

The Duke With a Dragon Tattoo: Yes, it’s another Duke-As-Hero historic romance, but Kerrigan Byrne’s stories never follow precedent or trope, so we’re convinced that this story is going to be both delightful and unique!  He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul.  Lorelai will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?  Byrne’s books are always a topic of conversation around here, and Library Journal loved this new addition, describing it as “A hero so lost he fears he’ll never be found and a heroine who won’t give up on him reclaim their love in a bold, lyrical tale that brings the darker side of the Victorian Age into sharp relief; another winner in a stellar series.”

The Disordered Mind: What Unusual Brains Tell Us About Ourselves: Eric R. Kandel was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his foundational research into memory storage in the brain, and his book thus draws on a lifetime of pathbreaking research and the work of many other leading neuroscientists to take us on an unusual tour of the brain.  e confronts one of the most difficult questions we face: How does our mind, our individual sense of self, emerge from the physical matter of the brain? The brain’s 86 billion neurons communicate with one another through very precise connections. But sometimes those connections are disrupted. The brain processes that give rise to our mind can become disordered, resulting in diseases such as autism, depression, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder. While these disruptions bring great suffering, they can also reveal the mysteries of how the brain produces our most fundamental experiences and capabilities—the very nature of what it means to be human. Studies of autism illuminate the neurological foundations of our social instincts; research into depression offers important insights on emotions and the integrity of the self; and paradigm-shifting work on addiction has led to a new understanding of the relationship between pleasure and willpower.  While this book is about the brain as an organ, it’s also about the brain’s role in making us who and what we are, considering the power and role of memory, emotions, and creativity.  It’s a work that is both wonderfully readable and deeply intelligent.  Publisher’s Weekly agrees, calling it “Highly accessible . . . Kandel’s deep compassion for people is also evident, as when he discusses how understanding the biological basis for mental disorders might take them out of the realm of legal culpability. The result of his work is an easily comprehended, meticulous synthesis of current research into the biological grounding of the human mind.”

Field of Bones: Fan-favorite J.A. Jance has returned with another installment of her stellar series featuring Sheriff Joanna Brady.  As we open, Sheriff Brady.  This time Sheriff Joanna Brady may expect to see her maternity leave through to completion, but the world has other plans when a serial homicide case surfaces in her beloved Cochise County. Rather than staying home with her newborn and losing herself in the cold cases to be found in her father’s long unread diaries, Joanna instead finds herself overseeing a complex investigation involving multiple jurisdictions.  Filled with the kind of characterization and small-town details that make this series such a winner, this eighteenth installment of Jance’s series is being praised by series fans, with Publisher’s Weekly noting “Jance ratchets up the tension …This long-running series shows no signs of losing steam.”

She Would Be King: Wayétu Moore’s powerful debut novel reimagines the dramatic story of Liberia’s early years through the eyes and lives of three fascinating characters, whose bonds and whose magic will transform the world around them.   Gbessa, exiled from the West African village of Lai, is starved, bitten by a viper, and left for dead, but still she survives. June Dey, raised on a plantation in Virginia, hides his unusual strength until a confrontation with the overseer forces him to flee. Norman Aragon, the child of a white British colonizer and a Maroon slave from Jamaica, can fade from sight when the earth calls him. When the three meet in the settlement of Monrovia, their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes, and build a nation around themselves.  This is a powerfully emotive work that gives a voice and meaning to an area of the world seldom explored in fiction.  It’s being lauded by crtics and readers alike, as well, with Kirkus Reviews hailing it as “An ambitious, genre-hopping, continent-spanning novel. . . . Moore is a brisk and skilled storyteller who weaves her protagonists’ disparate stories together with aplomb yet is also able to render her sprawling cast of characters in ways that feel psychologically compelling. In addition, the novel’s various settings―Virginia, Jamaica, and West Africa―are depicted so lushly that readers will find themselves enchanted.”

A River of StarsAnother sensational debut novel here, this one from journalist Vanessa Hua.  Holed up with other mothers-to-be in a secret maternity home in Los Angeles, Scarlett Chen is far from her native China, where she worked in a factory and fell in love with the owner, Boss Yeung. Now she’s carrying his baby. Already married with three daughters, Boss Yeung is overjoyed because the doctors have confirmed that he will finally have the son he has always wanted. To ensure that his child has every advantage, Boss Yeung has shipped Scarlett off to give birth on American soil. U.S. citizenship will open doors for their little prince.  As Scarlett awaits the baby’s arrival, she chokes down bitter medicinal stews and spars with her imperious housemates. The only one who fits in even less is Daisy, a spirited teenager and fellow unwed mother who is being kept apart from her American boyfriend. Then a new sonogram of Scarlett’s baby reveals the unexpected. Panicked, she escapes by hijacking a van—only to discover that she has a stowaway: Daisy, who intends to track down the father of her child. The two flee to San Francisco’s bustling Chinatown, where Scarlett will join countless immigrants desperately trying to seize their piece of the American dream. What Scarlett doesn’t know is that her baby’s father is not far behind her. An unpredictable adventure, a tale of friendship, empathy, and wit, this is  also a closely-observed story about Chinese immigrant’s experiences in the US that is as eye-opening as it is entertaining.  The USA Today agrees, describing the book in their review:  “Vanessa Hua’s story spins with wild fervor, with charming protagonists fiercely motivated by maternal and survival instincts. A River of Stars is a migrant narrative tenderly constructed around Scarlett’s quest to carve a life for her daughter and herself at the risk of deportation.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–Happy Reading!

Six Book Saturday!

With our apologies, beloved patrons, for missing our typical Friday round-up of all the sensational books that are awaiting you on our shelves, we present you a special weekend bonus edition of the Free-For-All, with six new titles for your consideration!

Just a reminder, the Library will be closed until Tuesday, September 4 in honor of the Labor Day holiday.  We hope yours is a safe and a relaxing weekend, and we look forward to seeing you at 9am on Tuesday!

 

SeveranceIt’s not everyday you hear a book described as a “wryly funny, apocalyptic satire”, but that’s precisely the way in which Ling Ma’s debut novel is being described.  Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine. With the recent passing of her Chinese immigrant parents, she’s had her fill of uncertainty, and is currently content just to carry on.  So Candace barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps New York. Then Shen Fever spreads. Her bosses enlist her as part of a dwindling skeleton crew with a big end-date payoff. Soon entirely alone, still unfevered, she photographs the eerie, abandoned city as the anonymous blogger NY Ghost.  Candace won’t be able to make it on her own forever, though. Enter a group of survivors, led by the power-hungry IT tech Bob. They’re traveling to a place called the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. But Candace is carrying a secret she knows Bob will exploit. Should she escape from her rescuers?  This is a novel as funny and insightful as it is unsettling and imaginative, and it getting write-ups in ‘best of’ and ‘most anticipated’ lists across the country, as well as earning a starred review from Booklist, who noted, “Embracing the genre but somehow transcending it, Ma creates a truly engrossing and believable anti-utopian world. Ma’s extraordinary debut marks a notable creative jump by playing on the apocalyptic fears many people share today.”

HeartbreakerAnother wonderfully skillful coming-of-age novel that blends sci-fi and reality seamlessly, Claudia Dey’s work is getting some pretty terrific reviews.  It’s 1985. Pony Darlene Fontaine has lived all her fifteen years in “the territory,” a settlement founded decades ago by a charismatic cult leader. Pony’s family lives in the bungalow at the farthest edge of town, where the territory borders the rest of the wider world. It’s a world none of the townspeople have ever been, except for Billie Jean Fontaine, Pony’s mother. When Billie Jean arrived in the territory seventeen years prior—falling from the open door of a stolen car—the residents took her in and made her one of their own. She was the first outsider they had ever laid eyes on. Pony adores and idolizes her mother, but like everyone else in the territory she is mystified by her. Billie Jean refuses to describe the world she came from.  One night, Billie Jean grabs her truck keys, bolts barefoot into the cold October darkness—and vanishes. Billie Jean was the first person to be welcomed into the territory. Now, with a frantic search under way for her missing mother, Pony fears: Will she be the first person to leave it too?  Told through a series of alternating voices, including the boy on whom Pony has a secret crush and the family dog, Dey’s novel earned a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, who praised how “Dey strips away the trappings of modernity to show what humans truly are at base, while eschewing the usual cult narrative. The result is a whole-cloth, word-for-word triumph of imagination.”

John Woman: Walter Mosley has created some truly iconic characters over the course of his career, and John Woman is a fitting protagonist to join their pantheon.  At twelve years old, Cornelius, the son of an Italian-American woman and an older black man from Mississippi named Herman, secretly takes over his father’s job at a silent film theater in New York’s East Village. Five years later, as Herman lives out his last days, he shares his wisdom with his son, explaining that the person who controls the narrative of history controls their own fate. After his father dies and his mother disappears, Cornelius sets about reinventing himself―as Professor John Woman, a man who will spread Herman’s teachings into the classrooms of his unorthodox southwestern university and beyond. But there are other individuals who are attempting to influence the narrative of John Woman, and who might know something about the facts of his hidden past.  There is a lot with which to grapple in this book, from issues of sexuality and power to intimacy and evil, making for a thought-provoking, heady exploration.  As Kirkus Reviews notes, Mosley “raises the stakes with this tightly wound combination of psychological suspense and philosophic inquiry…Here he weaves elements of both the erotic and the speculative into a taut, riveting, and artfully edgy saga…Somehow, it makes sense that when Walter Mosley puts forth a novel of ideas, it arrives with the unexpected force of a left hook and the metallic gleam of a new firearm.”

The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life: Science journalist David Quammen explores science’s tangled relationship with evolution and microbiology in this engaging and educating work.  In the mid-1970s, scientists began using DNA sequences to reexamine the history of all life. Perhaps the most startling discovery to come out of this new field (the study of life’s diversity and relatedness at the molecular level) is horizontal gene transfer (HGT), or the movement of genes across species lines. It turns out that HGT has been widespread and important. For instance, we now know that roughly eight percent of the human genome arrived not through traditional inheritance from directly ancestral forms, but sideways by viral infection (in itself a form of HGT). Quammen chronicles these discoveries through the lives of the researchers who made them, and emphasizing how their research pertains directly to our everyday lives and longterm health.  The Boston Globe loved Quammen’s new work, declaring “Quammen has written a deep and daring intellectual adventure. . . . The Tangled Tree is much more than a report on some cool new scientific facts. It is, rather, a source of wonder.”

The Life Lucy Knew: Karma Brown ‘s fiction is written with that same vital, engaging spark that she brought to her award-winning journalism career, and considering the praise this new novel is receiving, it’s sure to be a hit among fans and new readers alike.  After hitting her head, Lucy Sparks awakens in the hospital to a shocking revelation: the man she’s known and loved for years—the man she recently married—is not actually her husband. In fact, they haven’t even spoken since their breakup four years earlier. The happily-ever-after she remembers in vivid detail—right down to the dress she wore to their wedding—is only one example of what her doctors call a false memory: recollections Lucy’s mind made up to fill in the blanks from the coma. Her psychologist explains the condition as honest lying, because while Lucy’s memories are false, they still feel incredibly real. Now she has no idea which memories she can trust—a devastating experience not only for Lucy, but also for her family, friends and especially her devoted boyfriend, Matt, whom Lucy remembers merely as a work colleague.  Unmoored and unsure, Lucy is forced to grapple with her memories and her identity in order to come to terms with who she really is.  Kirkus Reviews enjoyed this book a good deal, noting “Brown makes Lucy’s struggle vivid and stark—she has a lovely life, but, thanks to her injury, she doesn’t feel like it’s hers…A fizzy love story with a serious streak, good for readers who like their conundrums to go down as easily as one of the cocktails the characters enjoy.”

The Last Englishmen: Love, War, and the End of Empire: Deborah Baker turns her eye to the end of the British Empire, a story huge in scope, made understandable by the intimate love story at its heart.  John Auden was a pioneering geologist of the Himalaya. Michael Spender was the first to draw a detailed map of the North Face of Mount Everest. While their younger brothers―W. H. Auden and Stephen Spender―achieved literary fame, they vied to be included on an expedition that would deliver Everest’s summit to an Englishman, a quest that had become a metaphor for Britain’s struggle to maintain power over India. To this rivalry was added another: in the summer of 1938 both men fell in love with a painter named Nancy Sharp. Her choice would determine where each man’s wartime loyalties would lie.  The cast of this exhilarating drama includes Indian and English writers and artists, explorers and Communist spies, Die Hards and Indian nationalists, political rogues and police informers.  Full of a love of language, place, and character, Baker’s history earned a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, who noted, “Seemingly covering disparate topics, Baker beautifully connects them all with an incisive, clear writing style and sharp descriptions of the terrain.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!