Readers Guide

 

By Susie Stooksbury
 
July 18, 2014
July 11, 2014
July 4, 2014
June 27, 2014

July 18, 2014 

George F. Kennan was one of the 20th Century’s most influential diplomats and he certainly played a major role in framing America’s modern foreign policy.  His retirement from the State Department in 1953 simply launched for him another half century as presidential advisor, author, and Pulitzer Prize winner.  Remarkably he kept a diary for 88 years of his long, prolific life.  The Kennan Diaries (327.730) are a wonderful window into the last century and the life of this extraordinary man.  

A beautiful home in an upscale Philadelphia suburb and a job she loves doesn’t guarantee happily ever after for Allison Weiss.  Her relationship with her ever-more distant husband, the behavior of her out-of-control 5-year-old daughter, and her father’s disappearance into Alzheimers has her stressed out.  She has discovered, though, that the pain medication prescribed for her bad back seems to help her cope, so she continues to take it even after her back pain stops.  Pretty soon Allison has another problem – only she doesn’t realize it.  Jennifer Weiner thoughtfully explores a very real modern-day issue in her latest, All Fall Down. 

Fans of financial advisor Dave Ramsey already know his thoughts on saving and spending money.  Now he shows you how to teach your children about money and how to handle it.  He has a co-author this time – his daughter, Rachel Cruze, whose experiences growing up support her dad’s common sense approach.  Together they offer a practical and do-able guide to “raising the next generation to win with money” in Smart Money Smart Kids (332.024). 

Psychic Manfred Bernardo moves to tiny Midnight, Texas, (pop. 261) for peace, quiet and privacy.  What he gets instead is a close knit community with its own vampire and witch, plus a wealth of other odd eccentrics.  In spite of himself, Manfred fits right in – especially when one of the locals is murdered.  Popular Charlaine Harris begins a brand new series with Midnight Crossroad. 

Issues with race, elitism, college athletics and administrative cover-ups all came to a head in 2006 when several members of Duke University’s lacrosse team went on trial for raping a Black striptease artist at a party.  William D. Cohan, a journalist and Duke alumnus, takes a look back at the case to make his thought-provoking report on the incident and its repercussions in The Price of Silence: the Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of our Great Universities (364.153). 

In his first book of a planned trilogy, Aidan Harte creates a Renaissance world slightly different from the one we know through history books.  Irenicon is the name of a river that bisects the city of Rasenna.  It was created by the Concordia, a powerful group who developed a way to control water so as to keep their various city states within their realm physically divided and unable to unite.  Now, as Sofia Scaligeri is poised to become Rasenna’s new countess, the Concordia sends an engineer to build a bridge over the river so their troops can move easily and quickly to quash any uprising.  But Sofia sees the bridge as an opportunity to unite her city with the hope that they can eventually overthrow the Concordia. 

Other new titles:

Fiction –
     The Smoke at Dawn: a Novel of the Civil War, by Jeff Shaara;
    
The Hurricane Sisters, by Dorothea Benton Frank;
    
Skin Game: a Novel of the Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher;
    
Starfire, by Dale Brown

Non-fiction –
     The Keillor Reader (818.000), by Garrison Keillor;
     
Clean Eats: Over 200 Delicious Recipes to Reset Your Body’s Natural Balance and Discover What it Means to
        be Truly Healthy (641.563)
, by Alejandro Junger.

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July 11, 2014 

While the suffragists in Tennessee compelled the legislature to cast the deciding ballot on the issue of women’s right to vote, the women of this state continued to play an important role in spreading reform throughout this region.  They drew attention to many pressing social concerns, from their efforts to stop the tradition of lynching to promoting agricultural and education reforms.  Their stories unfold in a collection of fine essays – Tennessee Women in the Progressive Era: Toward the Public Sphere in the New South (305.420) 

Fans of thriller writers Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Lee Child and John Sandford may be interested in their latest endeavor.  These four, plus nineteen other members of the International Thriller Writers, have pooled their creativity to present a unique anthology.  Faceoff (SS) unites series characters in eleven short pieces.  For instance, Child’s Jack Reacher and Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller help each other out while watching baseball at a bar, and Lehane’s Patrick Kenzie teams up with Connelly’s Harry Bosch to work a cold case in Boston. 

Seventy years separate the stories of Tamiko Kokuba and Luz James, yet each of the young women have reached the point of seriously contemplating suicide.  In 1945, as the Battle of Okinawa boils around her, pregnant Tamiko is torn from her family to care for wounded Japanese soldiers in the “caves”.  As hard as her life has become, she fears the conquering Americans more.  She knows her dead ancestors – her clan – will welcome her.  So, too, Luz James is now ready to depart this world having been uprooted yet again to the military base in Okinawa by her mother while she mourns the death of her beloved older sister.  Sarah Bird masterfully weaves together their stories in her latest novel, Above the East China Sea. 

Jesuit priest James Martin invites you to meet the Jesus he has come to know through his studies as well as through his prayers and experience.  What really brought Jesus to life for him, though, was his journey through the Holy Land.  Seeing the places where Jesus lived and preached brought Martin a new understanding of him as a man and as the living symbol of faith.  Join him in Jesus: a Pilgrimage (232.000). 

Centurions Macro and Cato are sent to Judea on Rome’s eastern frontier to instill some sense of order to the dissolute troops stationed there.  It is a tough job made even tougher by the fact that rebellion is rippling among the citizens who still resent the crucifixion of Jesus some seventeen years earlier.  And watching it all is Rome’s old enemy Parthia who is patiently waiting for his longed for invasion to begin.  The Zealot is the seventh in Simon Scarrow’s excellent series of Roman Legion novels. 

It seems even the privileged children of Stalin’s select group of advisors and friends are not exempt from the oppressive regime that has just celebrated its victory over Hitler.  Students at the Stalin School 101, where Stalin’s own children graduated, have formed a secret society dedicated to the romantic poetry of Alexander Pushkin while they remain carelessly oblivious to the misery and social despair around them.  When two of the group are accidentally killed during one of their gatherings, the rest are jailed and their families become endangered as they fall under Stalin’s brutal sense of justice.  Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore based his second novel, One Night in Winter, on an actual event from Russia’s turbulent past. 

New DVDs:

Feature –
     Dallas Buyer’s Club, starring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto;
    
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, with Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig;
    
Flowers in the Attic, featuring Ellen Burstyn and Heather Graham;
    
The Fifth Estate, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Laura Linney.

Television –
     Call the Midwife, Season Three, starring Jessica Raine and Miranda Hart.

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July 4, 2014 

Glenn Greenwald is a former constitutional lawyer who has won numerous awards for his investigative reporting and cogent journalism.  He is also the man Edward Snowden chose to give his cache of top secret information on the National Security Agency and its practices.  In No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (327.127), Greenwald recounts their first contact and their eventual meeting in Hong Kong.  He then goes into the disclosures and their continuing impact. 

Hollywood, as well as adult readers, have discovered many of the fine novels now being written for young people.  The latest to hit the box office is The Fault in Our Stars (YPF), an emotion-packed tale of two teens who meet at a cancer support group.  Now 16, Hazel Grace Lancaster knows that the drug she relies on to keep her thyroid cancer at bay will eventually stop doing its job.  Her acceptance of an abbreviated life is shaken, though, when she meets Augustus Waters, who lost his leg to osteosarcoma, and feels an instant connection with him.  John Green is the author of this multi-kleenex story. 

Katie Chase had been seeing a marriage counselor when she disappeared.  Since her husband, Hal, had a shaky alibi, he becomes the prime suspect after her body is discovered several blocks away from their house.  He asks Dismas Hardy to represent him.  In turn, Dismas hires newly retired SFPD homicide detective Abe Glitsky to begin an independent investigation into what eventually becomes an explosive case.  John Lescroart reunites Hardy and Glitsky in another winning thriller, The Keeper. 

In recent years noted scientists and thinkers, such as Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens, have professed the idea that our increasing understanding of the universe through science demonstrates the non-existence of God.  Acclaimed mathematician and writer Amir D. Aczel believes they are wrong.  He clearly demonstrates Why Science Does not Disprove God (215.000) in his engaging new book.  

As crime writer Erica Falck goes through her late mother Elsy’s possessions, she finds what appears to be a Nazi medal.  Hoping to learn more about her aloof mother’s enigmatic past, she visits retired history professor Erik Frankel, an expert on the Nazis who also knew Elsy during the war.  She finds Frankel evasive and of little help, and she soon forgets about the interview – until several months later when she learns Frankel has been murdered.  When others in Elsy’s wartime past are also killed, Erica and her husband, Det. Patrik Hedstrom, fear that her discovery of her mother’s diaries may have unearthed a killer.  The Hidden Child is the latest from Camilla Lackberg. 

In her latest novel, Francine Prose invites us into the exotic, hedonistic world that was Paris between the first and second world wars.  Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 revolves around a group of disenfranchised characters who meet regularly at the night spot of the title.  Among them are rakish, hard-drinking American novelist Lionel Maine, Hungarian photographer Gabor Tsenyi, and Lou Villars, a cross-dressing lesbian race car driver who grows increasingly enamored with Hitler and the Nazi party. 

Other new titles:

Fiction –
     The Serpent of Venice, by Christopher Moore;
    
The Lincoln Myth, by Steve Berry;
    
Ghost Ship: a Novel of the NUMA Files, by Clive Cussler;
    
The Folklore of Discword (SF), by Terry Pratchett.

Non-fiction –
     The Sixth Extinction: an Unnatural History (576.840), by Elizabeth Kolbert;
    
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: the Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle (941.082), by the Countess of 
        Carnarvon.

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June 27, 2014 

Using diaries, letters, and interviews, Jonathan Mayo follows the action that occurred 70 years ago on the beaches of Normandy.  D-Day: Minute by Minute (940.542) begins at 4:15 a.m. Monday, June 5, 1944, and ends at midnight June 6 as the Germans began to realize that they were defeated and, ultimately, what that would mean for the war in Europe. 

In 1991, Diana Gabaldon began her epic story of time-traveling World War II nurse Claire Randall and her love for the 18th Century Scotsman Jamie Fraser.  A huge fanbase has waited impatiently for each installment, with number eight in the series hot off the presses.  As Written in My Own Heart’s Blood opens, Jamie has just returned from what Claire believes to be a watery grave to learn that in her grief she has married his best friend.  And, as the Revolutionary War continues to unfold around them, their daughter Briana and her family face dangers of their own in the 20th Century. 

The American intelligence community suffered a serious blow last year when 29-year-old Edward Snowden, a senior computer specialist with the National Security Agency, turned over tons of information on U. S. surveillance practices to the British newspaper the Guardian.  A reporter for that paper, Luke Harding, details how Edward passed along the information and the still-unfolding consequences of his deed in The Snowden Files: the Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man (327.120). 

For 25 years, Brian Lamb has taken C-SPAN out of Congress and into our living rooms with bright and entertaining interviews of notable non-fiction authors.  Sundays at Eight: 25 Years of Stories from C-SPAN’s Q & A and Booknotes (791.450) is Lamb’s eighth compilation of those interviews.  The pool of popular authors include David McCullough, Charles Krauthammer, Malcolm Gladwell, the late Christopher Hitchens, and Michael Lewis to name just a few. 

Four years ago young Justin Campbell disappeared.  The police had no leads, no kidnapper ever contacted the family – it was as if the little boy had been swallowed by the earth.  The Campbells tried to get on with their lives, but Justin’s disappearance shadowed each of them – until the day Justin was found in a nearby town living with the man who had abducted him.  In his fiction debut, Remember Me Like This, Bret Anthony Johnston tells of a family in crisis who are forced to face a whole new set of problems when their son returns. 

Sheep farmer Albert Stark is not your typical Wild West hero.  Gunfights, rattlesnakes, bar brawls, unsafe drinking water – he avoids them all.  But when his girlfriend throws him over for the town jerk, he knows he has to fight back.  Too bad he doesn’t know how to shoot a gun.  Seth MacFarlane takes us back to the days of yesteryear in his raunchy, hilarious first novel, A Million Ways to Die in the West – based on his raunchy, hilarious movie by the same name. 

New DVD titles:

Feature –
     Anchorman 2: the Legend Continues, starring Will Ferrell and Steve Carell;
    
Delivery Man, with Vince Vaughn and Chris Pratt;
    
The Monuments Men, featuring George Clooney and Matt Daman;
    
Pitch Perfect, starring Rebel Wilson and Anna Camp.

Foreign –
     Instructions Not Included, with Eugenio Derbez.

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