Readers Guide


By Susie Stooksbury


August 22, 2014
August 15, 2014

August 8, 2014
August 1, 2014

August 22, 2014 

In his latest novel, Wayfaring Stranger, James Lee Burke unfolds the story of Weldon Holland, who is the grandson of series character Hackberry Holland.  From 1934, when 16-year-old Weldon catches a glimpse of Bonnie Parker, through the Battle of the Bulge and into the post-war years in Texas, he has always maintained a solid moral compass.  Now he is a partner in a thriving oil company and he must deal with his business rival who hopes to ruin him by slandering his wife.

Prior to the Watergate scandal in 1973, Richard Nixon was at the top of his game as President as he expanded our foreign relations with China and Moscow and brought Vietnam to a close.  Throughout this period, his voice-activated tapes were rolling collecting nearly 3,700 hours of conversations at the White House and Camp David.  Historians Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter have edited and annotated this significant resource – The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972 (973.924). 

In 2012, the then 66-year-old movie maker John Waters decided to hitchhike from his place in Baltimore to his place in San Francisco.  Armed with his Blackberry and a sign that read “I am Not a Psycho”, he racked up 15 rides in eight days – and had some surprising adventures along the way.  He recounts them all in Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America (791.430). 

Orientation for the new batch of kindergarteners at Pirriwee Public school is an exciting occasion for the children as well as their parents who begin forming cliques and factions almost immediately.  Six months later at the school’s fun-filled Trivia Night, one of those parents ends up dead – murdered, as it eventually turns out.  Liane Moriarty creates a vibrant cast of would-be suspects in her darkly comic new novel Big Little Lies. 

Perhaps you, like budding writers Don and Mindy Wallace, dream of owning a lovely cottage in France.  For the Wallaces, that dream came true when a friend of theirs told them of a house for sale on Belle Ile – a small island they had once visited off the coast of Brittany.  They bought it sight unseen only to learn two years later that it was almost a ruin.  How they ended up creating their own special paradise makes up The French House: an American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village that Restored Them All (944.130). 

Once the best of friends, Eve and Bella haven’t been in touch for years. Bella went on to become a top executive in a multi-national corporation and married a Swedish tennis star, while Eve’s career as a journalist fizzled out.  Now she works with homeowners who want to sell their houses quickly.  When Bella is transferred to London, she hires Eve to “stage” their mansion.  Eve begins the transformation while Bella is away leaving her precocious daughter, obese washed-up tennis champ Lars, and a surprisingly wise rabbit named Dominique behind.  The Stager is by Susan Coll. 

Other new titles:

Fiction –
     Last Orders: the War That Came Early, by Harry Turtledove;
Circles in the Snow: a Bo Tully Mystery (M), by Patrick F. McManus;
Jericho, by Ann McMan;
Border Wars, by Lou Dobbs and James O. Born;
The Red Room, by Ridley Pearson.

Non-fiction –
     I Heard My Country Calling: a Memoir (328.730), by James Webb.

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August 15, 2014 

In her first stand-alone novel, Jacqueline Winspear, author of the popular Maisie Dobbs series, takes us back a century to the time England declared war on Germany in August 1914.  Although newlyweds Tom and Kezia Brissenden are excited to be running the family farm, he enlists and begins training for warfare in the trenches.  Kezia, a city-raised vicar’s daughter, relies on The Woman’s Book, a guide to household management, to help her in her new chores.  Meanwhile, Tom’s sister Thea decides to become an ambulance driver in order to dodge trouble over her outspoken suffragist views.  The Care and Management of Lies follows these characters and others into a war that will change their world. 

There is more comic commentary on life from the mother-daughter writing duo – novelist Lisa Scottoline and columnist Francesca Serritella – in their fourth book, Have a Nice Guilt Trip (814.000).  Whether dissecting the joys of getting a new puppy, going on an actual date, or twerking, this pair will have you laughing with their spot-on observations. 

In the late 1950s, when mixed marriages were unthinkable, Marilyn Walker, a white pre-med student at Radcliffe, met and fell in love with James Lee, a first generation Chinese-American graduate student.  Their three children all showed academic promise, but it was their middle daughter, Lydia, who Marilyn and James each had separate hopes for.  When Lydia’s body is pulled from the lake, the Lees see all their dreams for the future disappear.  In her compelling fiction debut, Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng finely creates a family in crisis. 

On a whim, Melissa Rivers presented her mother, Joan, with a diary for Christmas – and unwittingly unleashed a fire storm.  Beginning in January and writing steadfastly throughout the year, Joan spares no mercy in her comments on just about everything and everybody (including herself) - from modern life to unsuspecting celebrities.  It’s the Diary of a Mad Diva (792.700). 

Fourth of July Creek is another fiction debut that has caught the attention of the critics.  First time novelist Smith Henderson sets his grim piece in Montana during the late 1970s where social worker Pete Snow perseveres in helping the desolate people in his small town – even though his own life is a mess.  When he is called in on the case of young Benjamin Pearl, the nearly feral son of reclusive survivalist Jeremiah, he despairs of ever being able to help the boy.  He begins, however, to make some progress with both Pearls – until Jeremiah’s paranoid behavior catches the attention of the FBI. 

Three popular authors are the subjects of new books.  Along with the re-issuing of the wonderful works of P. G. Wodehouse comes a delightful diversion.  Performing Fleas (826.000) consists of his many letters to his old school chum William Townend from 1920 to 1953.  One of Ireland’s most beloved writers receives admirable treatment at the hands of Piers Dudgeon in Maeve Binchy: the Biography (921.000).  Joanne Drayton begins her biography of popular mystery writer Anne Perry in 1994 when the world learned that she and her friend Pauline Parker were accused of murdering Parker’s mother in 1954.  The Search for Anne Perry (921.000) looks at how this incident colored Perry’s life and writing. 

Other new titles:

Fiction –
     Invisible, by James Patterson and David Ellis;
The City, by Kean Koontz;
The Heist, by Daniel Silva;
Remains of Innocence: a Brady Novel of Suspense (M), by J. A. Jance;
Margaret Truman’s Undiplomatic Murder: a Capital Crimes Novel, by Donald Bain.

Non-fiction –
     The Church of Mercy: a Vision for the Church (282.000), by Pope Frances.

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August 8, 2014 

If you attended the Friends of Oak Ridge National Lab Dick Smyser Community lecture in July 2013, you heard former Oak Ridger Mike Tabor talk about his experiences as a forensic dentist.  Dr. Tabor has now published a mystery featuring a couple of meth addicts who go on a crime spree, leaving an unidentified body in their wake.  Dr. Chris Walsh, Chief Forensic Odontologist of the Tennessee Medical Examiner’s office, sets out to put a name to the victim and find the killers in Walk of Death (M). 

According to fans and critics, the late Tom Clancy would be pleased with Mark Greaney’s handling of his Jack Ryan franchise.  Support and Defend features President Ryan’s nephew Dominic Caruso, who heads the ultra-secret arm of the government known as The Campus.  Despite a series of personal tragedies, Dominic begins a race against time to find Ethan Ross, a former midlevel employee of the National Security Council who has disappeared, taking with him a flash drive full of top secret information. 

The Army’s 1st Infantry Division, known as the Big Red One, were battle seasoned veterans by the spring of 1944 hoping to go home, but by June it was clear they had another job to do.  They were among the first wave of troops to go ashore in the invasion of Normandy and their valor that day made victory possible for the Allies.  Historian John C. McManus highlights these brave men in The Dead and Those About to Die: D-Day: the Big Red One at Omaha Beach (940.542). 

Frankie Rowley returns home after spending 15 years as an aid worker in Africa to find her father slipping into dementia and her harried mother thrown reluctantly into the role as caregiver.  The elder Rowleys have moved permanently to their summer home in little Pomeroy, New Hampshire, and during Frankie’s first night there one of the neighboring summer homes burns to the ground.  When another summer house burns down several nights later, the local newspaper editor, who is a new resident, suspects arson – and touches off resentment between the permanent residents and the summer people.  Sue Miller’s latest multi-layered novel is The Arsonist. 

Whether you have visited Versailles or know of it only through books and film, you have never seen it like this.  Yves Carlier, head curator of the Documentary Resources Department, and photographer Frances Hammond invite you to spend A Day at Versailles (944.366).  They take you into closed off areas few tourists see and into the vibrant history of this extraordinary place. 

Frequently when someone is murdered the police suspect the spouse.  In the case of Oliver Lane, who was shot to death at the family’s summer rental on the Outer Banks, his beautiful wife, Diana, becomes the top suspect – until Lane’s second wife, Jewels, is discovered, followed closely by the discovery of Lane’s third wife, Roberta.  Watching the case unfold and knowing far more than she lets on is the story’s narrator, Picasso, Oliver and Diana’s precocious 12-year-old daughter.  The intriguing I Love Your More marks the fiction debut of Jennifer Murphy.


New DVD titles:

Feature –
     Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson;
Philomena, with Judy Dench and Steve Cougan;
Pompeii, featuring Kit Harington and Emily Browning;
The Nut Job, with the voices of Will Arnett and Brendon Fraser;
The Wolf of Wall Street, featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill.

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August 1, 2014 

Deborah Harkness closes her All Souls trilogy with The Book of Life.  Historian and witch Diana Bishop, along with her husband geneticist vampire Matthew Clairmont, return to the present to complete their search for the magical book Ashmole 782 and its missing pages.  They must also deal with feuding factions in Matthew’s large family while they confront the disapproval of their supernatural colleagues who are beginning to pose a real threat to their soon-to-be-born twins. 

In Eden in Winter, the close of his Blaine family saga, Richard North Patterson picks up the action two months after the death of patriarch Ben.  The police believe that Ben’s fall from a seaside cliff was no accident and they have several members of the highly dysfunctional Blaine family on their list of suspects.  Ben’s estranged son Adam uses the investigative skills he has honed through his years as an agent for the CIA to protect his brother and uncle, but it is his father’s mistress, the beautiful Carla Pacelli, who disturbs him the most. 

Using several hundred years of economic data from around the world, French economist Thomas Piketty scientifically proves what many people have suspected for a long time – that the gap between the Haves and the Have Nots in America, as well as the rest of the world, is rapidly widening.  In Capital in the Twenty-First Century (332.041), Picketty maps the rise and spread of capitalism, the disturbing ramifications this currently presents, and some possible solutions. 

Happily settled in London, Daniel receives a phone call from his father who has recently retired, along with Daniel’s mother, to a farm in the lovely Swedish countryside.  His father is crying as he tells Daniel that his mother is sick and delusional.  As Daniel races for Heathrow to catch the first flight out to Sweden, he receives a call from his mother who tells him that she has proof of his father’s evil doings – all collected in a satchel – and that she is on her way to London to show him.  Tom Rob Smith keeps you guessing in The Farm while Daniel tries to figure out just exactly which one of his parents is crazy. 

Trust is also at the heart of Patti Callahan Henry’s latest novel.  Set in Savannah, The Stories We Tell revolves around Eve and Teddy Morrison who are small business owners and community leaders.  Their marriage is solid, despite the fact that Eve’s sister Willa is living in their carriage house until she can get her life in order and their adolescent daughter, Gwen, is going through a pretty serious rebellious stage.  Things start to crumble, however, when Teddy and Willa are in a car accident that leaves her seriously injured.  Since Willa remembers nothing about the accident and Teddy’s recounting about what happened becomes questionable, Eve begins to suspect that everything she knew about her life is a lie. 

In her fiction debut, Lauren Owen revisits Victorian London – but with an intriguing twist.  The Quick opens with James Norbury and his sister Charlotte as they grow and flourish at their crumbling estate.  After completing his education at Oxford, James, a budding poet, takes up residence in London where he enjoys a glittering social life through a charismatic new friend – then promptly disappears.  When Charlotte comes looking for him, she encounters the dangerous men of the Aegolius Club – and the vampire hunters who are on their trail. 

Other new titles:

Fiction –
     Nines Lives to Die: a Mrs. Murphy Mystery (M), by Rita Mae and Sneaky Pie Brown;
Still Waters, by Tami Hoag;
Sight Unseen, by Iris and Roy Johansen;
Cut and Thrust: a Stone Barrington Novel, by Stuart Woods;
The Director, by David Ignatius.

Non-fiction –
     John Wayne: the Life and Legend (791.430), by Scott Eyman.

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