Readers Guide

 

By Susie Stooksbury
 
January 23, 2015
January 16, 2015
January 9, 2015
January 2, 2015

January 23, 2015 

As we see frequently in the news these days, unmanned aircraft are rapidly changing the face of modern warfare.  Drones were first used during World War II as targets for training anti-aircraft gunners, but it took a number of years and several innovators to turn them into the fighting machines they are today.  Richard Whittle reveals “the secret origins of the drone revolution” in his fascinating new book, Predator (623.746) 

Half Seneca Indian Jane Whitfield has helped many people in trouble disappear, but in her eighth adventure she agrees to find someone who seems to have vanished without a trace.  Her childhood friend, Jimmy Sanders, has been accused of killing the white man he clashed with in a bar.  The clan mothers have called on Jane to find him, which turns out to be fairly easy.  The hard part is keeping him safe from the police and from the mobsters who want Jimmy to take the rap for Nick Bauermeister’s murder.  A String of Beads is the latest entry in Thomas Perry’s fine series. 

Chief Curator for Britain’s Historic Royal Palaces, Lucy Worsley charts the history of our seemingly very human fascination with sensational murder cases in her entertaining new book, The Art of English Murder (364.152).  Through her lively report, Worsley shows how 18th Century newspaper accounts of sordid crimes led to the inexpensive “penny dreadfuls” and eventually to the detective novels, police procedurals, and thrillers we love so well today. 

As the mother of five grown sons and the wife of the Mormon bishop, Linda Wallheim is deeply involved with her community.  Her commitment and curiosity lead her into some dark areas, though, when she questions the mysterious and sudden disappearance of a young wife and mother as well as the alarming revelations of a terminally ill man.  Long buried secrets shake the foundations of a town in Utah in The Bishop’s Wife, by Mette Ivie Harrison. 

Long before Hollywood discovered plastic surgery, there was Thomas Dent Mutter, a Philadelphia physician who practiced in the mid-19th Century.  Considered an eccentric, Mutter performed successful surgeries on patients with cleft palates, burn scars, clubfeet, and other deformities, thus saving many from being classified as monsters.  He also used anesthesia, kept surgical areas sterile, and set up recovery rooms – all generally considered quirky practices at the time.  Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz tells “a true tale of intrigue and innovation at the dawn of modern medicine” with Dr. Mutter’s Marvels (617.092). 

Victorian England’s top private detective, Sidney Grice, has hit a low point since notoriety over his previous investigation, deliciously recorded in The Mangle Street Murders, has left him with a disturbingly light caseload.  Job security beckons, however, when Horatio Green, a member of a new formed tontine calling themselves The Last Death Club, hires Grice to investigate the demise of each member, then promptly drops dead in the detective’s drawing room.  Grice and his ward, the cigarette-smoking, gin-loving March Middleton, have a real puzzler on their hands in The Curse of the House of Foskett (M).  M .R. C. Kasasian is the author. 

Other new titles:

Fiction – 
     Grail Knight: a Novel of Robin Hood, by Angus Donald;
    
1636: the Viennese Waltz: Ring of Fire Series #18, by Eric Flint, Paula Goodlett, and Gorg Huff;
    
Insatiable Appetites: a Stone Barrington Novel, by Stuart Woods;
    
Saint Odd: a Odd Thomas Novel, by Dean Koontz.

Non-fiction –
     Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence (201.720), by Karen Armstrong;
    
The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books (813.000), by Azar Nafisi.

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January 16, 2015 


For the last 14 years, Oprah Winfrey has written a column each month for her publication “O, The Oprah Magazine” offering what she has learned, and continues to learn, from her life – certainly a life well lived.  These warm and candid essays have been collected into a charming volume entitled What I Know for Sure (814.000).
 

When NPR correspondent David Greene finished his stint as Moscow Bureau Chief, he began his journey home with a 6,000 mile trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway.  The experience gave him a chance to meet the people as well as say “goodbye” to old friends, and to find out their take on life in the new Russia under Putin.  Greene, now co-host of “Morning Edition “, recorded his experiences in his fascinating book, Midnight in Siberia: a Train Journey into the Heart of Russia (914.700). 

In 1958, the world gathered in Brussels for the first exposition to be held since the end of the war.  It was to be the best World’s fair ever and would offer a thrilling look at the possibilities of the future while promoting unity and peace.  Thomas Foley, a British civil servant, experiences the real workings of the extravaganza when he is tapped to manage the Britannia, the pub that is the heart of Great Britain’s pavilion.  Steadfastly married with a young child, Thomas promptly falls in love with his Belgium hostess and becomes enmeshed with some rather inept British and Soviet spies.  Jonathan Coe’s latest comedic novel is Expo 58. 

While much has been written about the Founding Fathers, historian Lorri Glover offers a different perspective on their lives.  She focuses on five notable Virginians – Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, Patrick Henry, James Madison, and George Washington - to explore how they fulfilled their roles as family men and as leaders of their communities in Founders as Fathers: the Private Lives and Politics of the American Revolutionaries (973.309). 

In the years leading up to 1455, Johannes Gutenberg invented and refined the moveable-type printing press.  It was in that year that he produced a printed edition of the Bible, an extraordinarily controversial move that ultimately helped propel Europe into the Renaissance.  Wealthy merchant Johann Fust financed the project and demanded that his ward Peter Shoeffer, who was beginning a promising career as a scribe in Paris, return to Mainz to work with the printer.  Debut novelist Alix Christie features these three men – the unpredictable printer, the resentful scribe, and the wily merchant – at this fascinating point in history in Gutenberg’s Apprentice. 

The Bible as we know it is actually an abridgement, and, as Dr. Joel Hoffman points out, there are anywhere from 33 to 78 books that could have been included but were left out due to the political or religious tenor of the times.  In his new book, Hoffman also demonstrates that some of the surviving passages were subject to translations and interpretations by scholars who were pushing their own agendas.  He walks us through The Bible’s Cutting Room Floor (220.100) to give us an eye-opening look at “the Holy Scriptures Missing from Your Bible”. 

Other new titles:

Fiction –
     The Mistletoe Promise, by Richard Paul Evans;
    
The Peripheral, by William Gibson;
    
Blue Labyrinth, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child;
    
How to Be Both, by Ali Smith.

Non-fiction –
     Yes, Please (791.450), by Amy Poehler;
    
The Universal Tone: Bringing My Story to Light (787.870), by Carlos Santana.

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January 9, 2015 

Even as a child, Addie Baum understood that her Russian immigrant parents were uncomfortable and suspicious of their new home in America and its different way of life.  Yet she and her older sisters flourished in the freedom and opportunities they experienced in Boston at the turn of the Twentieth Century as a new age for women began to unfold.  Now 85, Addie ponders the question her granddaughter has asked – “how did you get to be the woman your are today” – and reveals her rich and event filled life in The Boston Girl, Anita Diamant’s latest novel.

 

In 1929, popular newspaper columnist Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote an autobiography telling of her childhood and her family’s many moves from Kansas to the Dakota Territory.  While the book was never published, many of the incidents were fictionalized and turned into Wilder’s beloved Little House series.  Editor Pamela Smith Hill has resurrected the original work and added copious notes that place the book in the context of its time.  The result is Pioneer Girl: the Annotated Autobiography (921.000). 

Earlier this year, W. E. B Griffin and his writing partner, William E. Butterworth IV, began a new series about the beginnings of the CIA.  Top Secret followed James Cronley and his cohorts as they successfully extracted intelligence agent Sergei Likharev from Russia and deposited him safely in Argentina while making good use of the information he freely gave over.  The second entry in the series, The Assassination Option, again focuses on Cronley’s team as they try to reunite Likharev and his family.  They need to do it, though, without the knowledge of the Pentagon or the FBI – the two agencies that fear the new CIA may be encroaching on their turf. 

Being the youngest boy in the family and the youngest girl, Benjamin Franklin and his sister Jane forged a strong bond that lasted throughout their lives.  He taught her to read and write before he ran away from home and into history.  She, being female, remained in Boston to marry and raise a large brood of children.  Yet they enjoyed writing to each other, chronicling the events in their lives and the politics of the day.  Historian Jill Lepore shines a light on this charming and feisty woman and brings her out of obscurity in Book of Ages: the Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (973.309). 

Many years ago on the original TV show Candid Camera, a very cute segment showed children who were given the choice of having one marshmallow right away or, if they waited, getting two marshmallows later.  This same test was used by psychologist Walter Mischel to study delayed gratification and its ramifications.  Nearly 50 years after he began his study, Mischel finally reveals the results in The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control (155.250). 

A southwest London neighborhood has been rocked by the abduction of two children – one taken from her house, the other from his mother’s car.  No wonder, then, that Helen and Sean Phillips are nervous about leaving 3-year-old Frankie with her teenaged half-sister Alice.  And their worst fears are realized when they return home from their evening out to find Alice asleep and Frankie gone from her bedroom.  Now with three children missing, Detective Inspector Patrick Lennon is hard pressed to find the culprit before he or she strikes again.  Popular suspense writing team Mark Edwards and Louise Voss have penned a humdinger in From the Cradle. 

Other new titles:

Fiction –
     Havana Storm: a Dirk Pitt Novel, by Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler;
    
The Job: a Fox and O’Hara Novel, by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg;
    
The Escape: John Puller series #3, by David Baldacci;
    
Friendswood, by Rene Steinke.

Non-fiction – 
     The Death of Money: the Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System (332.450), by James
        Richards;
    
Waking Up: a Guide to Spirituality Without Religion (204.000), by Sam Harris.

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January 2, 2015 

British historian Desmond Seward turns his attention to the nefarious Plantagenets, England’s longest ruling dynasty.  Beginning with Henry II and ending with Richard III, whose remains were just recently discovered, Seward deftly covers the intriguing dynasty he calls The Demon’s Brood (942.030).  As a companion piece, Seward’s 1978 biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine (942.031) has been re-issued.  The controversial and indomitable wife of Henry II was a vibrant political force in her own right as well as wife to two kings and mother of two more. 

Before she began writing well-received novels, most of them based on her own family’s Southern heritage, Lalita Tademy was a successful businesswoman in Silicon Valley.  Citizens Creek is her third novel, set in Alabama before the Removal of the Indian tribes to the west.  Cow Tom is a young slave who acts as interpreter for Yargee, the chief of the Creek tribes.  As the years go by, Tom and his family, especially his granddaughter Rose, fight for acceptance in their two worlds – as free people of color and as Creeks. 

If there is a way to unfold the story of the beginning of life in only 100 artifacts, Paul Taylor and Aaron O’Dea are the men to do it.  Under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution, Taylor, who works at the Natural History Museum in London, and O’Dea, who is staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, use stunning photographs and lively essays to chart A History of Life in 100 Fossils (560.000). 

Intelligent and ambitious, Carina Dymek is a midlevel civil servant with Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  At a meeting in Brussels, she is given a flash drive containing a document outlining plans for a European Intelligence Service to be set-up without the knowledge of public officials.  When she brings the information to her superiors, though, it touches off a firestorm with Carina, her Egyptian boyfriend, and Swedish intelligence agent Bente Jensen in the center.  Andreas Norman, a former diplomat at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, makes his impressive fiction debut with Into a Raging Blaze. 

For Sheriff Patrick Drake, the only way he saw to dig out from under the medical bills from his late wife’s last illness was to run drugs across the Canadian border. Now, after 12 years in prison, Patrick is about to be released into the care of his son Bobby, who is deputy sheriff.  Bobby has worked very hard to restore his family’s tarnished image in the town, even as he has tried to deal with his own anger towards his father.  Patrick’s return only brings more trouble, though, when his jail mates come looking for the money they think he has hidden away.  Sometimes the Wolf is the latest from acclaimed writer of suspense Urban Waite. 

Whether using a cell phone or an actual camera, photographing your family is easier now that ever.  That being said, you still want your photos to be as interesting, fun, and memorable as possible.  Let Me Ra Koh help with her “parents’ guide to photographing holidays, family portraits, and everyday life”.  From choosing a camera to “developing a photographer’s eye”, she offers great advice in Your Family in Pictures (770.000). 

Other new titles:

Fiction –
     Pegasus, by Danielle Steel;
    
Seventh Grave and No Body, by Darynda Jones;
    
Private India: City on Fire, by James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi;
    
Nora Webster, by Colm Toibin;
    
The Counterfeit Heiress: a Lady Emily Mystery (M), by Tasha Alexander.

Non-fiction –
     Code Red: How to Protect Your Savings From the Coming Crisis (332.024), by John Mauldin and Jonathan
        Tepper;
    
Make It Ahead (641.555), by Ina Garten.

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