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Five Book Friday!

Technically, this is our first Five Book Friday of Spring, beloved patrons, and I had a great post planned about the onset of longer days and brighter skies and warmer weather….but we had warmer weather in February, and now we are paying for it, because the weather gods are feckless, cruel beings.  Nevertheless, here are a few myths, legends, and stories from around the world about the coming of spring to keep your hopes high:

  1. The Spring Beauty, A Chippewa Legend (click the title for the full story)
    “I am Seegwun, the Spirit of Spring,” answered the youth. “I breathe, and flowers spring up in the meadows and woods….I shake my ringlets…and the warm showers of soft rain fall upon the Earth. The flowers lift their heads from the ground, and the grass grows thick and green. My voice recalls the birds, and they come flying joyfully from the South-land. The warmth of my breath unbinds the streams, and they sing the songs of Summer. Music fills the groves wherever I walk, and all Nature rejoices.”
  2. Persephone, of the Greek Pantheon
    And oldie, but still a goodie: Demeter, Goddess of agriculture, had a daughter named Persephone. One day Persephone was snatched away by Hades, God of the Underworld, to live with him in down in the Underworld.  Demeter, heard her cries but couldn’t find her daughter, so she left all the harvest alone and as a result, mass famine struck. One day while Apollo was making his rounds through the underworld as he does through the sky, he spotted Persephone down there and reported the finding to Zeus. Zeus then sent Hermes, the messenger god, to bring Persephone back. Unfortunately, Persephone ate six pomegranate seeds given to her by Hades in the land of the dead. This trickery bound her to return to the underworld for six months every year. When Persephone returns from the underworld each year, Demeter makes the earth bloom and grow beautifully which is the time of year we know as Spring and Summer. When Persephone returns to the underworld, Demeter stops and Fall & Winter arrive.
  3. Baldur, of the Norse pantheon
    The god of light Baldur was the son of Odin and Frigga. He was so attractive and personable that he was beloved by everyone and was considered the most handsome of the gods. Naturally Loki, the premier trouble-maker in Norse mythology, resented Baldur, and, eventually killed him with mistletoe.Frigga was in such despair the world grew colder and plants shriveled up and died. Humanity prayed for deliverance from the oppressive cold and the lack of food, and finally Odin interceded.  He learned that Hel, the goddess who ruled over the land of the dead, was not inclined to release Baldur unless everything living and unliving mourned for him. Though Frigga was not able to convince everything on earth to mourn for him, Baldour was allowed to return for a small amount of time every year (much like Persephone does in the Greek tale).
  4. The Legend of the Blue Corm Maiden, from the Hopi People (Click the title for the full tale)
    Winter Katsina saw that he needed to make peace with Summer Katsina, not war. The two sat and talked.  They agreed that Blue Corn Maiden would live among the People of the Pueblos and give them her blue corn for half of the year, in the time of Summer Katsina. The other half of the year, Blue Corn Maiden would live with Winter Katsina and the People would have no corn.  Blue Corn Maiden went away with Summer Katsina, and he was kind to her. She became the sign of springtime, eagerly awaited by the People.

…Are you enjoying these stories?  If so, why not come into the Library and check out a few more?  Here is a sample of some of the sensational books that have clambered up onto our shelves this week:

Exit West: Mohsin Ameed’s work has already been celebrated around the world, but this book is being hailed as quite possibly his best work, providing a heart-rending look at the world in which we live, touched with the magic of love and the weirdness of fairy tale.  In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair that grows and is eventually threatened when violence explodes around them.  They begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through.  This is a book not only about our own political climate, but about the effects of violence on human life and relationships, and the vicious and vital promise of hope.  Entertainment Weekly agrees, giving this book a glowing review which reads in part, “Nearly every page reflects the tangible impact of life during wartime—not just the blood and gunsmoke of daily bombardments, but the quieter collateral damage that seeps in. The true magic of [Exit West] is how it manages to render it all in a narrative so moving, audacious, and indelibly human.” 

LolaMelissa Scrivner Love’s debut crime thriller puts a phenomenal twist on the “girl” titles of recent years (this “girl” has a name!  Yay!), with a  story about a ruthlessly intelligent gang leader, and the city she both embodies, and calls home.  The Crenshaw Six are a small but up-and-coming gang in South Central LA who have recently been drawn into an escalating war between rival drug cartels. To outsiders, the Crenshaw Six appear to be led by a man named Garcia. but what no one has figured out is that the gang’s real leader (and secret weapon) is Garcia’s girlfriend, a brilliant young woman named Lola. Lola has mastered playing the role of submissive girlfriend, and in the man’s world she inhabits she is consistently underestimated. But in truth she is much, much smarter–and in many ways tougher and more ruthless–than any of the men around her, and as the gang is increasingly sucked into a world of high-stakes betrayal and brutal violence, her skills and leadership become their only hope of survival.  This is a story for anyone who enjoyed Breaking Bad, and Love is definitely an author on whom thriller fans should be keeping their eye.  The New York Times agrees, calling this book, “Intense, gritty, and breathlessly paced…The titular Lola is The City of Angels made flesh, beauty and horror living side by side with no barriers between. …I fell hard for Lola in all her fierce and broken beauty, her reckless and necessary hardness, her bottomless capacity for loyalty. Don’t miss this ride.”

Delicious GeographyTravel and food. I fail to see how this book can check too many more of my boxes.  This entertaining book takes us on a fascinating exploration of the world of food, as father and daughter duo, geographer Gary Fuller and chef Tracy Reddekopp, travel the globe in an exploration of how we are all linked by food.  By studying the preparation of 35 different dishes, Fuller and Reddekopp show how sharing of foods and food traditions are prime examples of our global connection, not only in the present, but in the past as well.  There are reasons that the same dishes, or types of dishes, appear in different geographic locales when they do, and becoming conscious of this, while become well-fed, is an excellent learning experience, as well as a delectable culinary adventure!  Booklist had this to say: “From discussions on global impacts of specific ingredients, such as the introduction of the potato into Bolivia, to the social influences of ingredients like that of dairy, Fuller and Reddekopp put an interesting personal slant to each chapter. Recipes are bolstered with the history of the highlighted element of each featured recipe, along with…intimate stories to bolster the well-researched histories and tried recipes with a unique slant. . . . This is an enjoyable read that features a number of intriguing recipes that have been crafted for the home cook.”

The River of KingsTaylor Brown is a master at the American journey story, having brought us a journey during Reconstruction in last year’s The Fallen Land, we now are treated to a river trek–and a historical journey–that is just as touching and engrossing. The Altamaha River, Georgia’s “Little Amazon,” has been named one of the 75 “Last Great Places in the World.” Crossed by roads only five times in its 137-mile length, the blackwater river is home to thousand-year-old virgin cypress, descendants of 18th-century Highland warriors, and a motley cast of rare and endangered species. The Altamaha has even been rumored to harbor its own river monster, as well as traces of the most ancient European fort in North America. Brothers Hunter and Lawton Loggins set off to kayak the river, bearing their father’s ashes toward the sea.  Both young men were raised by an angry, enigmatic shrimper who loved the river, and whose death remains a mystery that his sons hope to resolve. As the brothers proceed downriver, their story is interwoven with that of Jacques Le Moyne, an artist who accompanied the 1564 expedition to found a French settlement at the river’s mouth, which began as a search for riches and ended in a bloody confrontation with Spanish conquistadors and native tribes.  Publisher’s Weekly loved this trip, saying that Brown’s book “Captures the essence of an enchanting place with a story combining adventure, family drama, and local history.”

No One Cares About Crazy People: In this heartbreaking, well-researched, and determined book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Powers asks, How did we, as a society, get to this point in our treatment and thinking about mental illness. Powers traces the appalling narrative–from the sadistic abuse of “lunaticks” at Bedlam Asylum in London seven centuries ago to today’s scattershot treatments and policies. His odyssey of reportage began after not one but both of his beloved sons were diagnosed with schizophrenia.  Braided into his vivid social history is the moving saga of Powers’s own family: his bright, buoyant sons, both of whom struggled mightily with schizophrenia, and the way their personal history fits into the scope of his wider history on mental illness.  Kirkus Reviews gave this journey a starred review, saying, “Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Powers presents two searing sagas: an indictment of mental health care in the United States and the story of his two schizophrenic sons…. This hybrid narrative, enhanced by the author’s considerable skills as a literary stylist, succeeds on every level.”

Until next week, beloved patrons, happy reading!

Five Book Friday!

And a top of the mornin’ to you, dear readers!

Saint Patrick, and some less-than-metaphorical snakes…

I’ve already seen plenty of green being worn around the Library today in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which makes my heart happy.  We’ve all, I’m sure, heard different stories about traditions that are meant to be performed on St. Patrick’s Day…I grew up with a lot of Irish relatives who taught me to throw salt over my shoulder to keep the Wee People distracted, and not to leave milk out because it attracts ghosts, so some of the newer traditions have been lost on me.  So, in honor of the day, let’s take a look at the real St. Patrick, and what we are really commemorating today.

  1. St. Patrick’s acutal name was most likely Maewyn Succat.  Though we don’t know too much about him, we’re pretty sure he was from what is now Wales…or maybe Scotland, and was captured by Irish pirates/brigands around the age of 16 and brought to Ireland as a slave, escaping via ship around six years later.
  2. He returned to Ireland after becoming a priest, and began converting local pagan inhabitants to Christianity.  Many of the symbols associated with Ireland today, especially the shamrock, were symbols with Druidic power that Patrick co-opted as symbols of Christianity.  That whole thing about him ‘driving the snakes out of Ireland’?  It’s a veiled reference to Druids being driven out.
  3. The first St. Patrick’s Day Parade was held in New York on March 17, 1762, and referred to a soldiers’ parade (when they display their ability to march and stuff).  It’s gotten a bit…bigger since then.
  4. For the love of all that is good and noble on this earth, don’t pinch people.  Please.  It’s not nice.  And it didn’t start as a thing until the later part of the 19th century by Americans (some of whom were Irish immigrants).  The explanation for this was that wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns, so if you are not wearing green, other people get to pinch you on behalf of the leprechauns.  Which is absurd.  Leprechauns can always see you.  And they are far too clever to resort to pinching you.  And you are not a leprechaun (unless you are, in which case, fair play).  So don’t pinch people.  Today or any other day.  Thank you.
  5. Go to the Library!  Ok, this isn’t strictly a St. Patrick’s Day tradition, but libraries were and are critically important institutions around the world, as well as on the Irish island.  The Linen Hall Library in Belfast became a repository of materials for all sides during The Troubles, with all sides tacitly agreeing that a library was a safe, non-sectarian place to collect their history.  While there is an ongoing debate about staffing and funding in Libraries across the UK and Ireland, right now, one single library card will let you into every library in the Republic of Ireland.  How cool is that?  So why not come by, and enjoy a few of the books that are merrily performing jigs on our shelves today?

Taduno’s Song: Nigerian author Odafe Atogun’s debut is a retelling of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, with a modern infusion of Nigerian music, and an homage to Nigerian musician Fela Kuti.  When Taduno receives a stained brown envelope from his homeland, from which he has been exiled for years, he determines to return again.  But though he arrives full of hope, the musician discovers that his people no longer recognize him, or remember his voice, and that his girlfriend, Lela, has been abducted by government agents. Taduno wanders through his house in search of clues, but all traces of his old life have been erased. As he becomes aware that all that is left of himself is an emptiness, Taduno finds new purpose: to find his lost love.  But in the end, will he forsake his people and give up everything, including his voice, to save Lela?  By translating Orpheus’ Underworld into a modern totalitarian government, Atogun expands his fable into something much more modern, and infinitely more complex than a mere fable, but his beautifully accessible language keeps this story entrancing.  Publisher’s Weekly agrees, celebrating the “Uniting a retelling of the Orpheus myth, an indictment of totalitarian inhumanity, and a Kafkaesque meditation on identity within the spare language of fable, Atogun’s memorable debut novel testifies to the power of both oppression and art”.

The World Remade: America in World War I The US didn’t declare war until 1917, but it was certainly involved in the First World War from the very beginning.  In this accessible and thought-provoking history, journalist G.J. Meyer takes us through the bitter debates within American politics and society over the war and the possibility of American military intervention, as well as the global conspiracies, policies, and plans that affected those decisions.  His passion for understanding characters and personalities makes this story an engaging one that history buffs of all stripes will enjoy.  There is always a concern with journalists writing history, as the tendency is to over-simplify matters for easy consumption.  Meyer, however, does an impressive job outlining just how complicated and divisive a time this was in American history, and keeps a keen eye on the ramifications that the decisions made in 1917 have on us today.  The Washington Post agrees, saying, in a really excited review, that this book is “Thundering, magnificent . . . a book of true greatness that prompts moments of sheer joy and pleasure . . . It will earn generations of admirers.”

Shadowbahn: I’ll be honest with you, I’m not entirely sure what to make of this book, dear readers.  And that is precisely what makes it so exciting.  Steve Erickson’s story begins 2021 with the Twin Towers suddenly reappearing…in the Badlands of South Dakota.  To all the people who flock to visit them, including siblings Parker and Zema, who are traveling from L.A. to visit their mother in Michigan, the towers seem to sing–but everyone hears a different song.  But as Parker and Zema drive on, taking a detour through a shadowland that doesn’t appear on any map, ghosts, spirits, and the neverborn begin to awake, lured and driven mad by the music of the towers.   This is a story about music, about American culture, about what’s wrong with it–and full of hope for what might be made right again, and is being hailed as a wholly original kind of masterpieces by readers and critics across the country, with The New York Times Review of Books cheering that it is “compassionate, weird, unpredictable, jaunty. It’s sad, and it’s droll and sometimes it’s gorgeous … In this novel, Erickson has mobilized so much of what feels pressing and urgent about the fractured state of the country in a way that feels fresh and not entirely hopeless, if only because the exercise of art in opposition to complacent thought can never be hopeless”.

The Principles Behind Flotation: And speaking of books with bizarre premises, this delightfully quirky coming-of-age novel features a magical sea that appears overnight in a cow pasture in Arkansas.  Around that sea grows a religious order that puts on passion plays for tourists about the sea’s appearance and a thriving tourist destination, but the Sea’s owner has no interest in allowing any one to study the Sea of Santiago itself, which is hard news for A.Z. McKinney, whose lifelong dream has been to chart the sea’s depths and wring all its secrets from it, drop by drop (she resorts to carrying samples home in her bathing suit).   But for all of A.Z.’s big dreams, she is still a teenager, and still trying to figure out how she fits in the world, and on dry land, let alone on the great and mysterious Sea.  Alexandra Teague’s novel is one of the weirdest I’ve read in a while, but also one of the most fun, defiantly inventive, and strangely moving.  Also, there are lots of scenes set in a library (where A.Z.’s mom works), so that is always a plus.  Romantic Times Book Reviews agrees, giving this one a Top Pick rating, calling it “A rich, insightful, ambitiously inventive coming‐of‐age tale that will fire the imagination and capture the heart . . . The delightfully quirky details of this setting combine to create a richly textured world that readers will find difficult to leave behind, and the beautifully flawed and fully realized characters will linger long after the final page has turned.”

The Book Thieves The stories of how Nazis looted the museums, galleries, and private collections of Europe has been well told in film and in print.  But what we don’t talk about as much is how many books the Nazis stole.  Not to burn–though they did plenty of that–but to hoard, with a plan to wage intellectual warfare against the very people from whom these books were stolen: Jews, Communists, Liberal politicians, LGBT activists, Catholics, Freemasons, and many other opposition groups. But when the war was over, most of the books were never returned. Instead many found their way into the public library system, where they remain to this day.  But there is a team of librarians in Berlin who are working through their library system to find stolen books and return them–and Anders Rydell tells their story, and his own, in this heartbreaking, infuriating, hopeful, and redemptive story.  This is a book about history, about heroism, and about Rydell’s journey across Europe to return one book to its rightful family–the only item that survived its owner’s murder.  This is a book for book lovers everywhere, and a shatteringly powerful story about fascism, hatred, and hope.  A review from Rydell’s home country of Sweden states that his work  “constitutes a solid mapping of the quiet work being done in Berlin, Vilnius, Prague, Paris and other cities. The author tells of the monstrosities committed in the best possible manner. He mixes his library visits and historical background with a consistently confident tone. It might appear cynical to talk about tone here, but Rydell’s at times beautiful, at times matter-of-fact and restrained writing does wonders for the reader’s engagement. Reality as it has been – and is today – does not have to be added to with emotionally loaded pointers.”

Until next week, beloved patrons, happy reading, and Go mbeirimíd beo ar an am seo arís!

Five Book Friday!

Remember when everyone was thinking of heading to the beach in February, dear readers?  Well, as we all knew, here we are in March paying for the unseasonable warmth with…unseasonable cold.  March, it truly seems, has trotted in like the proverbial lion…

BRITON RIVIÈRE, UNA AND LION

…But is that what that phrase actually means?  A few years ago, The Paris Review published a fascinating piece on the phrase “in like a lion, out like a lamb”, trying to conclude the origin of the phrase in an article that is both informative and delightfully quirky.  I’ll just leave it here for you to check out.

And if you’re looking for things to keep you busy this chilly weekend, here are a selection of the super-terrific books that have waltzed their way onto our shelves this week, and are very eager to make your acquaintance!  Though the summer thrillers are already making their appearance, they are also perfectly suitable for helping you through a lion-like March just fine:


The Girl Before
Oh hey, look!  It’s another book with “Girl” in the title.   *Sigh*.  Anyways, despite my overwhelming frustration with this trend, there’s no arguing that J.P. Delaney’s is getting everyone very excited–critics, authors, and reviewers alike are raving, and Ron Howard has already started adapting it for film.  The story centers around two women who, it would seem, have found the perfect home; an architectural marvel; a masterpiece in design.  However, enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does..  But before they move in, they are both confronted with an odd request….Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.  For Emma, who is still coping with the after-effects of a traumatic break-in, this is the first place that feels safe.  For Jane, who is dealing with a painful tragedy, the place (and its creator) are a haven and a welcome distraction.  Until Jane learns about the girl before her, and her untimely end.  And as she tries to uncover the truth about Emma, she finds herself caught in the same situation, encountering the same people–and sharing the same fate?  This is a twisty, turny, psychological novel that is drawing comparisons to Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins, with the USA Today gleefully commenting that “Delaney has created a genuinely eerie, fascinating setting in One Folgate Street. . . . The novel’s structure, volleying back and forth as first Emma and then Jane begin to question their improbable luck, is beautifully handled. The pages fly.”

Her Every FearAnd while we’re on the topic of houses being scary, Peter Swanson’s newest book features a Boston house doing it’s best to freak us all out, and the woman who has to face down the truth these walls conceal.  Kate Priddy has always been anxious and perhaps a bit obsessive–traits that grow nearly crippling after an ex-boyfriend kidnaps and nearly kills her. When Corbin Dell, a distant cousin in Boston, suggests the two temporarily swap apartments, Kate, now an art student in London, leaps at the idea, hoping that a change of scene will help her get a grip on her life again.  But soon after her arrival at Corbin’s Beacon Hill apartment, Kate makes a shocking discovery: his next-door neighbor, a young woman named Audrey Marshall, has been murdered.  Though Corbin is quick to profess his innocence, several discoveries in the apartment make the jet-lagged Kate more and more uneasy about her cousin–and Alan, the quiet, attractive young man across the courtyard.  Is there anyone she can trust?  Swanson excels at writing good noir, shifting narrative perspective with ease and creating an atmosphere that is being compared to Hitchcock’s Rear Window as his heroine confronts the evil before her and the fear inside her in a story that earned a starred review from Booklist, who said “The skillfully conjured Boston winter creates the perfect atmosphere for breeding paranoia… Swanson … introduces a delicious monster-under-the-bed creepiness to the expected top-notch characterization and steadily mounting anxiety.”

The DryFrom the chill of a Boston winter, we move to the deadly heat of an Australian summer in Jane Harper’s mystery debut.  Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades, after being summoned to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Two decades ago, Falk was accused of murder, and Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.  Now, amidst the worst drought in a century, Aaron is beginning to realize just how well little towns can keep secrets–and to discover who killed his best friend.  In addition to praising Harper’s ability to set a scene, crafting the choking heat and creeping menace of a hometown that will make your skin crawl, her talent at crafting a mystery has reviewers raving.  Kirkus gave it a starred review, declaring it “A nail-biting thriller…A chilling story set under a blistering sun, this fine debut will keep readers on edge and awake long past bedtime.”

The Aleppo Cookbook: It probably should come as a surprise that one of the world’s most long-inhabited cities is also home to some of its richest culinary traditions. And in this stunning new cookbook, Marlene Matar, one of the Arab world’s most renown chefs, takes us on a tour of the many cultures, people, and ingredients that have shaped, and been shaped by, this remarkable city.  Along with the requisite pictures of food (which are quite enough to produce a fit of the munchies in and of themselves), there are also a number of photographs of the markets and people of Aleppo, offering readers insight into life there today.  The result is a deliciously enticing cookbook, as well as a haunting testament to the survival, endurance, and humanity of the people of Syria.

Blitzed: Drugs in the Third ReichIt has taken several generations of historians to being to tackle the nuances and intricacies of the Third Reich–and understandably so, as we are still trying to cope with the larger horrors of the Holocaust–but within recent years, some genuinely fascinating pieces have been written on gender, economics, humor and, now, on the drugs of Hitler’s Germany.  Though the Nazi party may have touted an ideology of physical, mental, and moral purity, Norman Ohler reveals that the Third Reich was actually saturated with drugs of all kinds.  Powerhouses like Merck and Bayer cooked up cocaine, opiates, and, most of all, methamphetamines, to be consumed by everyone from factory workers to housewives to millions of German soldiers.  Indeed, soldiers were fed a form of crystal meth in order to keep their morale and ‘fighting spirit’ high (which is a big step up from the cocaine that they were fed during the First World War).  Rather than seeing this widespread intoxication as an excuse or a rationale for the course of history, Ohler instead argues that drugs are a vital way of making sense of Nazi German society.  His work is well-researched and completely readable, making for a book that has been garnering praise from historians and pop-culture outlets alike, with the British Times praising its depiction of “how Nazi Germany slid towards junkie-state status. It is an energetic … account of an accelerating, modernizing society, an ambitious pharmaceuticals industry, a military machine that was looking for ways to create an unbeatable soldier, and a dictator who couldn’t function without fixes from his quack … It has an uncanny ability to disturb.”

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

Six Book Sunday!

We were mired in a wealth of technical difficulties on Friday, beloved patrons (it’s been a frustrating month for technology, but we hope that it’s all under control at last), and as a result, we missed our regular Five Book Friday post, for which, a whole wheelbarrow-full of apologies.  As a way to make it up to you, we are bringing you a heaping Six Book Sunday, featuring some of the newest books to shuffle up onto our shelves this week, including a snazzy extra book for your reading pleasure!

All Our Wrong Todays: One of the most anticipated releases of the year, Elan Mastai’s novel of life, love, and time travel somehow manages to live up to all its hype, delivering a story that is unexpectedly funny and stunningly touching.  In Tom Barren’s version of 2016, technology has progressed, war is an outdated concept, and everyone lives a life of well-regulated hedonism.  But Tom Barren’s world has never been one into which he fit.  Then a bizarre time-traveling mishap launches Tom into our 2016.  It all seems like some kind of dystopian nightmare at first, but then Tom meets this world’s version of his family and acquaintances, and realizes that this messy, dirty, nasty world of ours might be worth much more than he first thought.  What makes this book so incredible is how Mastai blends complex science with simple, earnest, heartfelt story-telling to make a book that is high-concept, but utterly accessible.  RT Book Reviews gave his work a Top Pick rating, saying, “With humor, grace and dizzying skill, Mastai crafts a time-traveling novel that challenges every convention of the trope, and succeeds brilliantly. His droll, unassuming writing style couches a number of razor-sharp critiques…while the endless array of technological gadgets, innovations and possibilities give the story its drive and irresistible exuberance… heartrending, funny, smart, and stunningly, almost brazenly hopeful.”

Boston’s Massacre: Perfectly timed to coincide with the 247th anniversary of the Boston Massacre, Eric Hinderaker’s book offers a new take on this seminal event in the run-up to the American War of Independence.  On the night of March 5, 1770, British soldiers fired into a crowd gathered in front of Boston’s Custom House, killing five people–yet for all that we reference the event, very little about the “Boston Massacre” is known for a fact.  In this thoroughly-researched and illuminating work, Professor Hinderaker takes on the multiple competing narratives that emerged from the ‘massacre’, and draws connections between this event and more modern examples of police brutality, showing that the Boston Massacre still has some significance today.  As Publisher’s Weekly notes, “Hinderaker claims no definitive version of the event, instead offering a thoughtful meditation on the episode’s significance for shared American identity and memory. Untangling the complex circumstances under which Britain stationed thousands of troops in Boston in the peacetime of 1768…He ends with a provocative…reflection on the massacre’s symbolic resonance with more recent examples of police brutality, making this book important reading for anyone interested in questions regarding the limits of authority and protest.”

Girl in Disguise: Even though I’ve publicly stated that I will no longer tolerate another novel with “girl” in the title, Greer Macallister’s historic mystery is good enough to make me want to bend the rules.  With no money and no husband, Kate Warne finds herself with few choices. The streets of 1856 Chicago offer a desperate widow mostly trouble and ruin–unless that widow has a knack for manipulation and an unusually quick mind. In a bold move that no other woman has tried, Kate convinces the legendary Allan Pinkerton to hire her as a detective.  Faced with fighting criminals and coworkers alike, Kate immerses herself in the dangerous life of an operative, winning the right to tackle some of the agency’s toughest investigations, even at the risk to her own life and spirit.  Based on the adventures of real-life detective Kate Warne, Macallister has crafted a action-packed thrill-ride through 1850’s America that Booklist called “a rip-roaring, fast-paced treat to read, with compelling characters, twisted villains, and mounds of historical details adeptly woven into the tale of a courageous woman who loves her job more than anything or anyone else.”

Who Killed Piet Barol?:  Keeping within the realms of historic fiction, we have Richard Mason’s second book featuring Piet Barol (the first being History of a Pleasure Seeker), here, it is 1914, and Piet is living large in South Africa’s Cape Colony, pursuing his constant hunger for riches and comfort, even as imperial official ruthlessly turn native inhabitants out of their homes in an attempt to create a land of white settlers.  However, Piet’s prodigious luck is about to run out.  Reinventing himself once again as a furniture dealer–but the wood he needs is in a forbidden forest filled with sacred, untouchable trees. His pursuit of the bewitched trees of the fabled forest of Gwadana takes him deep into the Xhosa homelands, where unfailing charm, wit and the friendship of two black men are his only allies as he attempts an act of supreme audacity: to steal a forest from its rightful owners.  Mason always does a superb job of crafting a setting, and the portrait he paints of the violent and fascinating Cape Colony is one of his finest.  But more than that, this narrative–a bizarre blend of fact, fable, horror and hilarity, is one that is hard to put down or forget.  Library Journal loved this book, remarking on its “Eloquent, sensuous prose . . . Mason imbues the forest with life, taking readers inside the psyche of each tree, animal, or insect, as it senses the looming danger . . . Vivid . . . This profoundly tragic tale, in which colonialism battles tribal customs, and divisions of race and class sow distrust, should put Mason over the top.”


Lincoln in the Bardo
: Quite seriously, it’s only March, and George Saunders’ first full-length novel may be the biggest, most acclaimed book of the entire year.  After Lincoln’s beloved son, Willie, dies the president is bereft. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy s body. From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.  On one level, this is a novel about monumental loss–not only Lincoln’s son, but the thousands and thousands of sons who were killed in the Civil War, and the optimism of a nation that very nearly tore itself apart.  On the other, it is a stunning, whimsical, haunting story about life and living, that features an astounding number of individual voices, viewpoints, and truths.  For those who like audiobooks, Saunders gathered over 100 narrators for this book, making it one of the most impressive productions of the year, as well.  It’s hard to choose one good review out of the countless numbers that are rolling in, but we’ll go with Kirkus’ review here, which called this book “Exhilarating . . . Ruthless and relentless in its evocation not only of Lincoln and his quandary, but also of the tenuous existential state shared by all of us.”

Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and MeOliver Sacks died of cancer in August of 2015, leaving behind a fascinating body of work focused on the brain, its vagaries, and the way it made us uniquely–sometimes bizarrely–human, a number of touching books and memoirs…and Bill Hayes, a photographer who came to New York in 2009 after the death of his partner, and fell in love with the city at night, with the people who inhabited it, and, especially, with his neighbor, Sacks.   This book of vignettes of Hayes’ memories of Sacks, and their shared love of New York City, including a number of Hayes startlingly honest, utterly captivating photos, offers a touchingly intimate view of a man that so many felt they knew from his books, from his falling in love for the first time at the age of 75 to his death.  While a heart-rending tale of loss, it is also a beautiful meditation on the moments that make life worth living, and the kind of love that comes along once in a lifetime.  Newsweek summed it up beautifully, saying “Buy a box of tissues and pray for snow: This…will have you alternately bawling and giddily clapping your hands for the lovers that may not have had the time they deserved, but certainly made the best with the time that they had.”

Until later, beloved patrons–happy reading!

Five Book Friday!

And a very happy birthday to author and academic, Judith Butler!

Though perhaps not a widely known theoretician, Butler is revered and oft-discussed in the field of gender and women’s studies for her study of gender performance.  It’s a notoriously difficult concept–essentially, trying to determine whether we behave as “women” or “men”, and relate to each other as such, as a result of biological factors or cultural expectations.  Or both.  Which means we can’t not act that way, because there is no room to do otherwise (unless cultures change to make it possible, in which case, we have to start the process over again).

In the end, however, as I explain to my students (those poor kids), what Butler’s arguments all boil down to, is “what makes a life worth grievable”?  What characteristics of a life make it worth remembering, worth defending?  And what qualities make it forgettable, expendable?  And that question, I think, pulls us out of the realm of academia and forces us to confront the ties that bind us all together and that, ultimately, make us, and everyone around us, and in contact with us, and on the planet along with us, human.  It forces us to think about the act of empathy, and why we can walk in some people’s shoes, but refuse to try on others.  And, just maybe, it might make us willing to try to forge new connections, and realize how we are all, really, fundamentally, connected.  To use her words, from Gender Trouble, “Let’s face it.  We’re undone by each other.  And if we’re not, we’re missing something.” (19)

And the beautiful part is that Butler extends this lesson not only to our current day existence, but to literature, as well.  In one of her more recent books, Frames of War, Butler talks about poetry, and why poems written by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were destroyed under the allegation that they were a threat to national security.  And her answer is that poetry, as an art form and a personal statement, is a way of not only documenting the harm done to the body, but also it’s ability to survive.  Writing about your condition, and allowing another to read your words, creates a bond that makes for a grievable life:

The words are carved in cups, written on paper, recorded onto a surface, in an effort to leave a mark, a trace, of a living being – a sign formed by the body, a sign that carries the life of the body. And even when what happens to a body is not survivable, the words survive to say as much. (59)

Which is just one of the reasons we are so grateful, every day, to be able to share stories with you.  And why we celebrate Judith Butler today.

And, speaking of books…..here are some new ones that skipped onto our shelves this week and are eager to meet you.

Stalin and the ScientistsScientists throughout history, from Galileo to today’s experts on climate change, have often had to contend with politics in their pursuit of knowledge. But in the Soviet Union, where the ruling elites embraced, patronized, and even fetishized science like never before, scientists lived their lives on a knife edge. The Soviet Union had the best-funded scientific establishment in history. Scientists were elevated as popular heroes and lavished with awards and privileges. But if their ideas or their field of study lost favor with the elites, they could be exiled, imprisoned, or murdered. And yet they persisted.  In this fascinating tale, Simon Ings traces the lives of some of the USSR’s most noted scientists, from the beginning of Russia’s revolutionary period in 1905 until the death of Stalin in 1953.  Though it is a story of incredible triumphs, breakthroughs, and globally-significant discoveries, it is also a heartrending story of folly and ignorance, as Ings looks at Stalin’s power over his intellectuals, and the damage he inflicted on scientists and their field by refusing to give up outdated notions of biology (and, for a time, denying the existence of genes), and punishing those who refuted him.  The book is not only one for those looking to learn more about the vagaries of Soviet history, but also for science enthusiasts who are looking for the compelling human side to some of the 20th century’s most notable breakthroughs.  Ings’ work has already been nominated for several non-fiction awards, and the UK’s Sunday Business Post said in it’s review, “[Ings] has an eye for the interactions between the worlds of the laboratory, the print room and the corridors of power . . . Stalin and the Scientists is a fascinating read. Well researched and written in a lively and engaging style, it grips like a good novel would.”

Shining CityTom Rosenstiel’s debut thriller has been getting thumbs-up from a number of fellow authors and critics alike for it’s twists, turns, and unrelenting pace.  Peter Rena is a “fixer.” He and his partner, Randi Brooks, earn their living making the problems of the powerful disappear. They get their biggest job yet when the White House hires them to vet the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Judge Roland Madison is a legal giant, but he’s a political maverick, with views that might make the already tricky confirmation process even more difficult.  But while Rena and his team put all their efforts into investigating the judge–and thwarting the attempted interventions of Washington’s elite–a series of seemingly random killings begins to overlap with their case, and it seems Judge Madison is the intended target.  Rosentiel himself is the executive director of the American Press Institute, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and founder of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, so he certainly knows his politics, his personalities, and how to tell a gripping tale.  Though this is his first foray into fiction, Library Journal didn’t hesitate to give the book a starred review, saying it “shines with page-turning intensity that will make readers hope that this book is the beginning of a new series. Highly recommended for legal and political thriller junkies and fans of David Baldacci and John Grisham.”

The PossessionsAnother debut here, this one dealing with death, desire, and the lengths that both will force us to go.  In the world that Sara Flannery Murphy has created, people (known as ‘bodies’) are employed to embody the deceased, by wearing their clothes, and taking a pill called lotuses to summon spirits and dampen their own thoughts.   Edie has been a body at the Elysian Society for five years, an unusual record. Her success is the result of careful detachment, and a total refusal to get involved in her clients’ lives.  But when Edie channels Sylvia, the dead wife of recent widower Patrick Braddock, she becomes obsessed with the glamorous couple. Despite the murky circumstances surrounding Sylvia’s drowning, Edie breaks her own rules and pursues Patrick, moving deeper into his life, even as her own begins to unravel.  An unsettling, unexpected, and totally gripping tale of secrets, lies, obsession, and loss, this book is getting wild reviews from a wide audience of critics, writers, and readers, including Publisher’s Weekly, who gave it a starred review, and called it “Suspenseful….a beautifully rendered, haunting page-turner.”

Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History: There.  That got your attention, didn’t it?  For centuries scientists have written off cannibalism as a bizarre phenomenon with little biological significance. Its presence in nature was dismissed as a desperate response to starvation or other life-threatening circumstances, and few spent time studying it. A taboo subject in our culture, the behavior was portrayed mostly through horror movies or tabloids sensationalizing the crimes of real-life flesh-eaters. But the true nature of cannibalism–the role it plays in evolution as well as human history–is even more intriguing (and more normal) than the misconceptions we’ve come to accept as fact.  In this work, Bill Schutt, a professor of biology at Long Island University delves into both science and history to look at why certain species consume themselves, and what significance that carries.  The result is a bizarre and wonderful genre cross-over that spans continents and species to look at a practice that has been much discussed, but seldom truly considered.

The One Inside: Another debut…of a sort….this is Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Sam Shepard’s first long work, and deals, as so many of his plays have done, on issues of memory, death, and the distance between the past and the present.  We begin in a man’s house at dawn in rural America, as the man himself tries to follow the journey of his life, but the more he travels, the more his perspective begins to shift; first from his life to that of his late father’s, from his home to the broader landscape of the American midwest, and from his individual life to that of his father’s young girlfriend, with whom the man was also involved.  Filled with references to the places the man has been, the sights he’s seen, the culture (and drugs) he’s ingested, and the scars he bears, this is a haunting dreamscape of a book that is poignant and haunting and utterly unique.  Kirkus Reviews agrees, calling Shepard’s work “An elegiac amble through blowing dust and greasy spoons, the soundtrack the whine of truck engines and the howl of coyotes. . . . It’s a story to read not for the inventiveness of its plot but for its just-right language and image.”

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

Five Book Friday!

And a very happy Free For All birthday to Sadegh Hedayat, Iranian author, poet, and intellectual, who was born this day in 1903.

Hedayat was raised in an aristocratic family with many ties to the French imperial government and, as a result, was sent to Europe to receive a “western” education at a fairly early age.  Initially, he planned to become an engineer, but after falling in love with the architecture of Paris, Hedayat decided to become an architect…and later a dentist….in the end, he returned to Iran without a degree, and held a number of jobs while devoting his life to studying Iranian history, prose, folktales, and myths.

He produced a considerable body of work, including short stories, poems, travel pieces, and literary criticism, all of which attempted to move Iranian literature into the ‘modern’ world.  At the same time, he began heavily criticizing what he perceived to be the two major causes of Iran’s decimation: the monarchy and the clergy, and through his stories he tried to impute the deafness and blindness of the nation to the abuses of these two major powers.  His most well-known work, The Blind Owl, is a startling piece of modernism that confronts human beings’ inherent lack of ‘civilization’, while also confronting head-on the anguish of living under repression.  The book was originally published with a stamp that read  “Not for sale or publication in Iran.”, but was serialized there after the abdication of Reza Shah in 1941.  Sadegh Hedayat committed suicide in Paris in 1951, leaving behind a body of work that is still striking today for its insights and its impact, and a legacy of being the first modernist in Iranian literature.

And speaking of literature….here are some of the books that trudged through this week’s snow to make it onto our shelves this week!

 

Universal HarvesterIf the holographic cover on this creepy little tome doesn’t catch your eye, then I certainly hope the blurb will.  John Darnielle takes the current literary love of nostalgia and turns it into something dark, disquieting, and subtly spellbinding.  The story is set in the late 1990’s in the tiny town of Nevada, Iowa, where very little ever happens, and where Jeremy works at the local Video Hut.  But his quiet routine is disrupted when a local school teacher returns a movie with an odd complaint–that there’s something on the tape that shouldn’t be there.  When several more such complaints come in, Jeremy risks taking one of the videos home…and discovers that there is, indeed, something recorded in the middle of the film.  Each interruption is dark, disturbing, sometimes violent, features no faces, but shows enough landmarks for him to tell that they were filmed right outside of town.  And trying to track down just what is behind these strange scenes will lead Jeremy and his friends deep into their own landscapes, and on a journey that stretches into both the past and the future, with consequences that no one ever imagined.  This  novel is getting a heap of praise from a number of outlets, including Booklist, who gave it a starred review and hailed, “Darnielle’s masterfully disturbing follow-up to the National Book Award-nominated Wolf in White Van reads like several Twilight Zone scripts cut together by a poet . . . All the while, [Darnielle’s] grasp of the Iowan composure-above-all mindset instills the book with agonizing heartbreak.”

AutumnFrom celebrated author Ali Smith comes the first in a proposed  “seasonal quartet”—four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons, after all, are)–that will consider what it means to live in a specific time and place, as well as what it means to live at all.  At the heart of this story is the relationship between Daniel, a 100-year-old man, and his neighbor Elizabeth, born in 1984.  We see these two together at different stages of Elizabeth’s life, from her childhood to the present day, and, through them, get a look at the world that is forming around them, and shaping their everyday existence.  Smith dived headfirst into the anguish, turmoil, and anger that is fueling our world today, and uses her characters as a lens through which to mourn, to contemplate, and, perhaps, to offer a little bit of hope for an honest human connection in the midst of….all of this.  It’s not an easy book to explain, but it’s an enormously significant one, and a gutsy move from an author who has never been afraid to push the proverbial envelope.  This book, which is being hailed as the first ‘post-Brexit’ novel to engage with the Brexit debate, is making waves on both sides of the pond, with The Guardian calling it a beautiful, poignant symphony of memories, dreams, and transient realities; the ‘endless sad fragility’ of mortal lives.”

Dust Bowl GirlsAt the height of the Great Depression, with dust storms ravaging the mid-west, and financial hardship touching–or ruining–over a third of the US population, Sam Babb, the charismatic basketball coach of tiny Oklahoma Presbyterian College, began dreaming.  He traveled from farm to farm across hundreds of miles, offering young women a free college education if they would play for his newly-formed basketball team, the Cardinals.  While these women were remarkable simply for taking the risk of leaving their home and pursuing a dream that would daunt many, they also accomplished something remarkable as a deeply-devoted team: they won every game they played.  In this beautifully-told and thoroughly-researched history, Sam Babb’s granddaughter, Lydia Ellen Reeder tells about the Cardinals, their rise to athletic dominance, and their showdown with the reigning champions of basketball (a team led by none other than Babe Didrikson).  Though a story, ultimately, of triumph, she also discusses the intense scrutiny, suspicion, and condemnation to which these women were subjected, and the prevailing myths and lies that they also defeated in the course of their remarkable athletic careers. Library Journal gave this book a big nod, noting that it is “Equal parts social history and sports legend come to life . . . Of special interest for students of women’s studies and a strong contender for a film adaptation. With high appeal to sports fans and historians, this hidden gem of a story deserves a place in all public library collections.”

Civil WarsA History in Ideas: “Civil War” is a concept that, I would argue, most of us think we understand.  But in this fascinating little tome, historian David Armitage walks his audience through the many, many forms that civil wars can take, and just what the consequences are for labeling a conflict as such–for example, the potential for any other powers engaging, profiting from, or controlling the outcome of one.  From the American Revolution to the current-day way in Iraq, and journeying via philosophy, economics, biography, and history, Armitage’s book considers wars on the ground, as well as the theory of war itself, arguing that, no matter how many times we try to end wars, violence seems to be an inherent part of the nation-state system, and our best defense is to understand how and why specific forms of violence occur.  Publisher’s Weekly gave this book a starred review, and called this work “Learned…Indispensable…a model of its kind: concise, winningly written, clearly laid out, trenchantly argued…His conclusion is sobering: human societies may never be without this kind of conflict, and we’re better off trying to understand it than ignoring its problematic nature. It’s hard to imagine a more timely work for today.”

The Evening Road: Another historical fiction piece set in a small town, and another that is receiving critical acclaim from a number of outlets.  At its heart is Ottie Lee Henshaw and Calla Destry, two determined women whose lives have been shaped by prejudice and violence, who meet by chance one dark day in the 1920’s.  Ottie Lee, her husband, and her lecherous boss are traveling to a planned lynching, and pick up Calla, who has been waiting for a meeting that never happened.  Though infused with violence, bigotry, and sheer human horror, the real power of this novel comes from the tiny moments of intimacy–shared, appreciated, or otherwise–that define these relationships, and the depth of character with which Laird Hunt infuses each of his characters.  This is a challenging read, not only because of its structure, but because of the realities it forces readers to face, but for those very same reasons, it’s an important one, and most definitely one that will linger for long after it’s been finished.  Kirkus Reviews agrees, saying in their starred review “Hunt finds history or the big events useful framing devices, but he is more interested in how words can do justice to single players and life’s fraught moments. Hunt brings to mind Flannery O’Connor’s grotesques and Barry Hannah’s bracingly inventive prose and cranks. He is strange, challenging, and a joy to read.”

Five Book Friday!

Due to some weather-related difficulties, we weren’t able to post yesterday’s stunningly glorious post, dear readers, and for that, our apologies.  But have no fear, we are safe, the Library is open, and, though we are all a bit stuff from shoveling, we are ready to go with today’s selection of new books!

The Freedom Broker: Readers looking for a fast-paced, action-packed adventure have a new author to add to their list…K.J. Howe’s debut novel introduces us to Thea Paris, an elite agent with Quantum Security International, a black-ops corporation that deals with highly sensitive rescue missions .  Abducted herself as a child, Thea thought she knew all about kidnapping–until her oil-tycoon father is kidnapped right before her eyes, right before the biggest deal of his career.  Now, thrown into the most important mission of her life, Thea is baffled by the lack of evidence before her.  There is no ransom note, no demands…only obscure and foreboding texts written in Latin sent from burner phones.  Enlisting the help of everyone at Quantum, Thea goes after the case with everything she has–but will it be enough to keep her family from devastation?  Howe defies conventions by providing readers with a smart, highly capable female lead in this series, and doesn’t skimp on tension or twists.  RT Book Reviews agrees, noting “Howe gives readers a handily twisted plotline, rife with tension and intrigue, that is sure to keep the pages turning. Overall, this is a strong start to a series that will appeal to fans of Stephanie Pintoff’s Eve Rossi and Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.”

The Impossible Fortress80’s nostalgia has been a strong current through a lot of recent fiction, and Jason Rekulak is gleefully swimming through it in this love letter to the early age of video games, processed foods, and neon.  For three young friends, self-declared nerds and video-game enthusiasts everyone, Playboy magazine represents all that they do not have–namely, women.  So they devise a plan to steal it, thwarting police, a locked building, guard dogs (really, it’s a Shih Tzu), and alarm systems.  But when each attempt ends in utter failure, they decide to swipe the security code to Zelinsky’s convenience store by seducing the owner’s daughter, Mary Zelinsky. It becomes Billy’s mission to befriend her and get the information by any means necessary. But Mary isn’t your average teenage girl. She’s a computer loving, expert coder, already strides ahead of Billy in ability, with a wry sense of humor and a hidden, big heart. Can Billy go through with the plan, or betray his best friends for the girl of his dreams?  A charming, big-hearted look at first loves that positively drips with vintage nostalgia, Rekulak still delivers a story that, as Booklist notes in its starred review ” the end the plot manages to magically subvert the time period while also paying homage to it. An unexpected retro delight.”

From Bacteria to Bach and Back : The Evolution of MindsWe all know that human beings (and a lot of other animals) have brains…but how did we develop minds?  Minds that could create, explain, rationalize, reason, and invent?  In this slightly ponderous, but significant book, Daniel C. Dennett goes beyond DNA and neurons to show how a comprehending mind could in fact have arisen from a mindless process of natural selection.   Part philosophical whodunit, part bold scientific conjecture, this landmark work enlarges themes that have sustained Dennett’s legendary career at the forefront of philosophical thought.  The result is a study of science, culture, evolution and human nature that will provide readers with as many thought-provoking questions as it answers about our place on the proverbial food-chain, and what we can really do with the eight-or-so pounds of matter in our skulls.  As Publisher’s Weekly notes, Dennet’s work is dense, but is also “Illuminating and insightful. . . . [Dennett] makes a convincing case, based on a rapidly growing body of experimental evidence, that a materialist theory of mind is within reach. . . . His ideas demand serious consideration.”

Amberlough:  Alternative histories!  Spies!  Intrigue!  If any of these words gets your heart fluttering, then be sure to check out this stylistically superb debut adventure from Lara Elena Donnelly.  Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, especially from Aristide Makricosta. They suit each other: Aristide turns a blind eye to Cyril’s clandestine affairs, and Cyril keeps his lover’s moonlighting job as a smuggler under wraps.  But when Cyril’s newest case ends in disaster, both he and Aristide find themselves on the run, facing mounting government backlash of a professional and personal variety.  Enter streetwise Cordelia Lehane, a top dancer at the Bumble Bee Cabaret and Aristide’s runner, who could be the key to Cyril’s plans―if she can be trusted.  Donnelly has crafted a sensational 1920’s setting for her characters that is as heartbreaking as it is dazzling.  As her leading men deal with the rise of Fascism and the threat that poses not only to their livelihoods but their lives, the real essence of the times becomes clear–not only the freedom and joviality, but the inevitable loss that lends this book its urgency and emotion.  Publisher’s Weekly agrees, giving this book a starred review and noting ““Donnelly blends romance and tragedy, evoking gilded-age glamour and the thrill of a spy adventure, in this impressive debut. As heartbreaking as it is satisfying.”

Four Weddings and a Sixpence: Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes an anthology from some of Avon Book’s most beloved authors.  Employing the old rhyme “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and a Lucky Sixpence in Her Shoe”, each author spins a tale four friends from Madame Rochambeaux’s Gentle School for Girls who find an old sixpence in their bedchamber and decide that it will be the lucky coin for each of their weddings.  In these historical romances of loves lost and found, challenged and regained, fans of each author will find plenty of delights in a single-serving size, while those looking for some new names to read would do well to check this book out for future reference.  Booklist agrees, giving this book as a whole a starred review and cheering “Each love story in this superbly crafted anthology is expertly imbued with the distinctive literary DNA of its creator, and the end result is a wonderfully witty, sweep-you- off-your-feet romantic experience for long-time fans as well as readers new to these marvelously gifted writers.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!