Tag Archives: Six Book Sunday

Six Book Sunday!

Another week gone by, dear readers, and another Friday where we missed our chance to showcase some of the terrific new books that hustled onto our shelves this week…

…But never fear!  We are here on Sunday, once again, with six sensational books to keep your literary appetites satiated.  We’re open from 1pm to 5pm, giving you plenty of time to stock up on books, audio recordings, and DVDs for the week.  To all those intent on savoring every second of the Superbowl, enjoy, stay warm, and stay safe.  And to all those of you who are not…frankly, the same rules apply.  Enjoy, stay warm, and stay safe!

And now…on to the books!

The Woman in the WindowAccording to the wonderful staff at NOBLE, this book has the most holds on it in our system, adding to the already sky-high hype about A.J. Finn’s debut, which is already, apparently, being developed for a major motion picture.  The story focuses on Anna Fox, a reclusive New Yorker who remains in her home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.  Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.  What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control?  This Hitchcockian thriller has already been recommended for fans of Tana French and Gillian Flynn, but with so many ecstatic reviews pouring in, this is definitely a book that plenty of readers are going to want to check out.  As a matter of fact, Stephen King himself called it “one of those rare books that really is unputdownable. The writing is smooth and often remarkable. The way Finn plays off this totally original story against a background of film noir is both delightful and chilling.”

We Were the Lucky OnesWhen When Georgia Hunter was fifteen , she learned that she was part of a family of Holocaust survivors.  This moving, insightful novel is part of the result of her search to uncover and recover their history.  It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.  As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.  Hunter’s novel has already been nominated for several literary awards, and has been earning heartfelt reviews from a number of outlets, including Publisher’s Weekly, who observed, “Hunter sidesteps hollow sentimentality and nihilism, revealing instead the beautiful complexity and ambiguity of life in this extraordinarily moving tale.”

Afterland: Poems Mai Der Vang’s award-winning collection of poetry is beautiful and accessible, but it is also a stunning testament to the history of her family and her people.  Her poetry details the Hmong exodus from Laos, as well as the story of her own family, and by doing so, she also provides an essential history of the Hmong culture’s ongoing resilience in exile. Many of these poems are written in the voices of those fleeing unbearable violence after U.S. forces recruited Hmong fighters in Laos in the Secret War against communism, only to abandon them after that war went awry leaving the fate of thousands of refugees seeking asylum in jeopardy.   That history is little known or understood, but the three hundred thousand Hmong now living in the United States are living proof of its aftermath.  These poems capture the fear and the outrage that many Hmong people carried with them in their flight, as well as the desperate need to preserve their culture and tradition after the disruption of asylum and exile, and a powerful memorial to a little discussed aspect of global history.  Booklist gave it a starred review, saying, in part “Vang’s collection interweaves profoundly personal recollections with unflinching glimpses into the circumstances of refugees past. . . . Vang imbues her imagery not only with loss but also with the remarkable resilience and crystalline spirituality of Hmong lore and language. “Ask me to build our temples / So rooted, so stone, we won’t ever die out,” Vang writes. With this luminous, indelible volume, she’s already built one.”

A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History: The civil rights movement has become national legend, lauded by presidents from Reagan to Obama to Trump, as proof of the power of American democracy. This fable, featuring dreamy heroes and accidental heroines, has shuttered the movement firmly in the past, whitewashed the forces that stood in its way, and diminished its scope. And it is used perniciously in our own times to chastise present-day movements and obscure contemporary injustice.  In this work, award-winning historian Jeanne Theoharis dissects this national myth-making, teasing apart the accepted stories to show them in a strikingly different light. Moving from “the histories we get” to “the histories we need,” Theoharis challenges the fable of the civil rights movement to reveal the diversity of people, especially women and young people, who led the it; the work and disruption it took; the role of the media and “polite racism” in maintaining injustice; and the immense barriers and repression activists faced, and challenges us to reckon with the fact that far from being acceptable, passive or unified, the civil rights movement was unpopular, disruptive, and courageously persevering.  Library Journal gave this powerful and gripping work a starred review, calling it “An important illustration of the ways that history is used, or misused, in modern social and political life. Required reading for anyone hoping to understand more about race relations and racism in the United States and highly recommended for all readers interested in 20th-century American history.”

Need to Know: It’s a good time for thrillers, beloved patrons.  Karen Cleveland’s political thriller has already been optioned for a major film, and is earning rave reviews from authors and reviewers alike.  In pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, CIA analyst Vivian Miller uncovers a dangerous secret that will threaten her job, her family—and her life. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.  After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her—her job, her husband, even her four children—is threatened.‎  Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust?  It isn’t often that John Grisham writes a cover blurb for a book, but this is one of the rare exceptions, with Grisham saying “Perhaps there will be two or three readers out there who manage to finish the first chapter of this terrific debut and put it down for more than an hour. But they’ll be back. And they’ll devour it like the rest of us, skipping lunch, losing sleep, turning pages until the end, where we’re all left waiting for more.”

Smoketown: The Untold Story of the Other Great Black Renaissance: Today black Pittsburgh is known as the setting for August Wilson’s famed plays about noble but doomed working-class strivers, including Fences.  But this community once had an impact on American history that rivaled the far larger black worlds of Harlem and Chicago. It published the most widely read black newspaper in the country, urging black voters to switch from the Republican to the Democratic Party and then rallying black support for World War II. It fielded two of the greatest baseball teams of the Negro Leagues and introduced Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Pittsburgh was the childhood home of jazz pioneers Billy Strayhorn, Billy Eckstine, Earl Hines, Mary Lou Williams, and Erroll Garner; Hall of Fame slugger Josh Gibson—and August Wilson himself. Some of the most glittering figures of the era were changed forever by the time they spent in the city.  Journalist Mark Whitaker has crafted a captivating portrait of this community, depicting how ambitious Southern migrants were drawn to a steel-making city on a strategic river junction; how they were shaped by its schools and a spirit of commerce with roots in the Gilded Age; and how their world was eventually destroyed by industrial decline and urban renewal.  Kirkus Reviews called this engaging, enlightening, and surprising work “An expansive, prodigiously researched, and masterfully told history.”


Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

Six Book Sunday!

Due to some scheduling changes this week, beloved patrons, we weren’t able to bring you our typical Five Book Friday post–and for that, our apologies.

As a way of making amends, we offer you this, our Six Book Sunday selection, which brings you a sensational sampling of the books that have sidled onto our shelves this week, and cannot wait to begin the week in your company!

Tempest: Beverly Jenkins is a master of historical romance, and redefined the genre as one that could represent the lives and stories of Black women and men with beauty, passion, and dignity.  And this new book continues to cement her legacy as one of the most important romance writers of our generation.  What kind of mail-order bride greets her intended with a bullet instead of a kiss? One like Regan Carmichael—an independent spirit equally at home in denims and dresses. Shooting Dr. Colton Lee in the shoulder is an honest error, but soon Regan wonders if her entire plan to marry a man she’s never met is a mistake. Colton, who buried his heart along with his first wife, insists he only wants someone to care for his daughter. Yet Regan is drawn to the unmistakable desire in his gaze. Regan’s far from the docile bride Colton was expecting. Still, few women would brave the wilds of Wyoming Territory for an uncertain future with a widower and his child. The thought of having a bold, forthright woman like Regan in his life—and in his arms—begins to inspire a new dream. And despite his family’s disapproval and an unseen enemy, he’ll risk all to make this match a real union of body and soul.  Publisher’s Weekly gave this book a starred review, cheering that “Legendary historical romance author Jenkins brilliantly touches on painful, significant historical and cultural references… the amusing dialogue, lively characters, and vivid descriptions of the Old West make this even-paced romance a winner.”

Why You Eat What You Eat: The Science Behind Our Relationships With Food: Acclaimed neuroscientist Rachel Herz, whose concentration in emotions and perception, has the power to make even the most complex mental processes understandable and fascinating, and in this book, she brings all her power to bear to help us understand precisely why we consume and crave the edibles that we do; for example: why bringing reusable bags to the grocery store encourages us to buy more treats, how our beliefs can affect how many calories we burn, why TV influences how much we eat, and how what we see and hear changes how food tastes.  She also discusses useful techniques for improving our experience of food, such as how aromas can help curb cravings and tips on how to resist repeated trips to the buffet table.  A book for foodies, science buffs, and those with New Years’ Resolutions to keep, this book will also help you understand how and why you taste what you taste, as well as how you can get even more out of the food you eat.  As Kirkus Reviews points out, “One of Herz’s major strengths is her skill at creating catchy phrasing to convey complicated scientific theories and experiments.”

Two Girls Down: We’ve already received some stellar staff reviews for Louisa Luna’s thriller, which echoes the rave reviews it’s been receiving from critics across the country.  When two young sisters disappear from a strip mall parking lot in a small Pennsylvania town, their devastated mother hires an enigmatic bounty hunter, Alice Vega, to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched thin by budget cuts and the growing OxyContin and meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help to find the girls, and she will not be denied.   With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out, and they are gone forever.  At once a police procedural and a gripping thriller, this book is full of vivid characters and gripping suspense that earned a starred review from Booklist, who hailed it as “An outstanding neo-noir, introducing enigmatic bounty hunter Alive Vega, a perfect female incarnation of Jack Reacher…Vega springs to life in the hands of this immensely talented writer…This is a must-read for fans of strong female protagonists”

A State of FreedomNeel Mukherjee is a powerfully talented novelist, who digs into some truly complex philosophical theories while still producing books that are entirely accessible, deeply meaningful, and throughly fascinating.  In this newest release, he takes on the issues of displacement and migration, with a story of five intertwined lives, from a domestic cook in Mumbai, to a vagrant and his dancing bear, to a girl who escapes terror in her home village for a new life in the city.  Set in contemporary India and moving between the reality of this world and the shadow of another, this novel of multiple narratives―formally daring, fierce, but full of pity―delivers a devastating and haunting exploration of the unquenchable human urge to strive for a different life.  A haunting description of displacement, as well as an uplifting story about life and redemption, The Wall Street Journal called this novel “Exquisitely written, cleverly structured, powerfully resonant to the very last line. . . . A profoundly intelligent and empathetic novel of privilege and poverty, advancement and entrapment.”

The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape TomorrowCharles C. Mann is making a career for himself writing sweeping, yet accessible histories–and this book is another feather in his cap.  In this book, Mann turns his focus to Norman Borlaug and William Vogt, two twentieth-century scientists who were both focused on how the earth and its human population would survive together into the twenty-first century.  Mann identifies two branches of thought, which he coins “wizards”, like Norman Borlaug and his followers, whose research centered on how technology would produce modern high-yield crops that then saved millions from starvation.  The other are the ‘Prophets’, like William Vogt, a founding environmentalist who believed that in using more than our planet has to give, our prosperity will lead us to ruin. Mann delves into these diverging viewpoints to assess the four great challenges humanity faces–food, water, energy, climate change–grounding each in historical context and weighing the options for the future.   As much a look to the future as it is an assessment of the past, Mann’s book is a well-balanced consideration of our place on the planet that earned a starred review from Library Journal, who called it “A sweeping, provocative work of journalism, history, science and philosophy.”

The Infinite Future:  Are there other readers out there who hear that the premise of a new book involves lost masterpieces, mysterious authors, heroic librarians, writers, and historians, and simply must sit down and read this book right the heck immediately?  If so, this book is absolutely for you.  In the first part of this book, we meet Danny, a writer who’s been scammed by a shady literary award committee; Sergio, journalist turned sub-librarian in São Paulo; and Harriet, an excommunicated Mormon historian in Salt Lake City, who years ago corresponded with the reclusive Brazilian writer named Salgado-MacKenzie.  These three misfits ban together, determined to determine the identity of this legendary writer, and whether his fabled masterpiece–never published–actually exists. Did his inquiries into the true nature of the universe yield something so enormous that his mind was blown for good?  In the second half, Wirkus gives us the lost masterpiece itself–the actual text of The Infinite Future, Salgado-MacKenzie’s wonderfully weird magnum opus that resonates in the most unexpected ways with the characters’ quest.  Part science-fiction, part academic satire, and part book-lover’s quest, this wholly original novel captures the heady way that stories inform and mirror our lives.  There are a number of authors drawing comparisons between Tim Wirkus’ book and Ursula K. Le Guin, with the incredible Paul Tremblay saying ” I’m having a difficult time being clever in the shadow of having read Tim Wirkus’s magnificently audacious The Infinite Future. How about this: it’s a book about the power and melancholy magic of the stories we tell and of the stories we live.”


Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!