Readers Guide


By Julie Forkner

May 15, 2017
May 8, 2017
May 1, 2017
April 24, 2017

May 15, 2017 

Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly (M)
is Adrian McKinty is the sixth novel in the Sean Duffy series, taking place at the height of the The Troubles in Belfast, 1988. Duffy, a Catholic policeman, is less than well-liked in his Protestant surroundings. When a minor drug dealer is found shot dead with a crossbow, the depths of Duffy’s unpopularity become undeniable. Told in McKinty’s trademark sardonic humor, this latest in the series creates a vivid sense of Belfast during the height on one of its most tense times.

John Henry Browne has been defending people accused of heinous crimes, people like Ted Bundy, for most of his career.  Benjamin Ng of the Wah Mee massacre and Sgt. Robert Bales of the Kandahar massacre are also among the people whom he has defended, and he often works pro bono. His new memoir The Devil’s Defender: My Odyssey Through American Criminal Justice from Ted Bundy to the Kandahar Massacre (340.092) details his struggles to defend Ted Bundy when his own girlfriend had just been murdered, as well as his own struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. 

Emily Ruskovich is a storyteller in the tradition of Ken Kesey or Rick Bass. Set in rugged northern Idaho, Ann and Wade have begun building a new life for themselves, trying to leave behind Wade’s first wife Jenny. The mystery of what happened to Jenny and their daughters, one dead, the other having run away, is what drives Ann to take care of Wade and to understand his past. The truth turns out to be less than satisfactory, but it doesn’t stop Ann from looking at it squarely in Idaho (F).

The people of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma were, at one time, the richest people per capita in the country. The discovery of oil under their land ensured that the nation’s members were wealthy, until they began to be shot, poisoned, and blown-up. The murder of 24 Osage Indians came under the purview of the nascent FBI, run by a young J. Edgar Hoover. With the help of Texas Ranger Tom White, Hoover, despite many mistakes, managed to expose one of the most evil conspiracies in American history. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI (364.152) is the result of years of research by The New Yorker staff writer David Grann.

Sally Spencer, a pen name for Alan Rustage, is the author of the long running Inspector Woodend and Monica Poniatowski series.  Spencer’s new series, the Jennie Redhead series, begins with The Shivering Turn (M). Jennie, in the tradition of private investigators everywhere, is well-educated, experienced, and not afraid of a fight. When Mary Corbet hires Jennie in the spring of 1974, Jennie has to find out if Corbet’s daughter has been murdered. The one clue she has, a snippet of a 17th century poem, leads her to Oxford’s underworld of privilege, violence, and excess. 

The podcast Serial, which first aired in 2014, began a new chapter in true crime reporting and investigative journalism. Serial describes the case of Adnan Syed, accused of the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, when they were both seniors in high school. Rabia Chaudry, a longtime friend of the Syed family, does not believe that Adnan is guilty and convinced Serial producer Sarah Koenig to tell the story. Chaudry’s book, Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice after Serial (364.152) introduces new evidence to Adnan’s case and shows how the original police investigation was rife with errors. Serial’s ability to reach a massive audience resulted in a crowdsourced investigation that could have lasting impact on the justice system.

Also at the Library:
     Fast and Loose (F)
by Stuart Woods
     The Fix (F) by David Baldacci
     One Perfect Lie (F) by Lisa Scottoline
     This Calls for a Drink The Best Wines and Beers to Pair with Every Situation (641.210) by Diane
     Get What’s Yours for Medicare: Maximize Your Coverage, Minimize Your Costs (368.426) Philip
     How to Ruin Everything (814.000) by George Watsky

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May 8, 2017 

Love amid war has been the subject of some of the best known novels – Farewell to Arms (F) and Gone with the Wind (F) to name a few. Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West (F) could well find its place among those. Set in an unnamed country where bombs regularly explode and war rages constantly, lovers Saeed and Nadia escape through one of the mysterious doors that appear around the city. What they find on the other side will test their commitment to each other and to their humanity.

High quality uranium ore is an essential ingredient in making an atomic bomb, and in 1939, it existed only in the Katanga province of the Belgian Congo. Once the Manhattan Project committed to creating atomic weapons to use against Germany and Japan, the race against the Nazis to find and smuggle uranium ore out of the Congo began. Spies in the Congo: America’s Atomic Mission in World War II (355.825) by Susan Williams draws on new information taken from the British and American archives about the mission to smuggle uranium ore out of the Congo, through the spy-infested Angolan port, and into the United States.

The Akha people’s lives center around growing Pu’er tea in the mountaintops of remote China. In a very traditional and ritualistic society, Li-yan is an outsider – educated and independent. When she gets pregnant out of wedlock, Li-yan gives her baby to an orphanage, where she is adopted and raised in California. As both Li-Yan and Haley, her daughter, grow, they begin studying the meaning in Pu’er and the way it has shaped their destinies in The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane (F) by Lisa See.

Investigative journalist Ron powers helped write Flags of our Fathers (940.542), which was later turned into a movie by Clint Eastwood. He also had not one, but two, sons diagnosed with schizophrenia. No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America (362.260) is his story of the struggle he, his wife, and his sons went through to get help. Along the way, Powers explains the political and social history of the disease that determines our approach to mental health care today.

Editor of the literary magazine One Story and author of The Good Thief (F) Hannah Tinti has a new novel based on the Hercules myth. Samuel Hawley and his daughter Loo have recently moved to Olympus, Mass., the place where Loo’s mother died. Samuel has a violent, criminal past, and each of the twelve scars on his body tells part of his tale. As Loo begins to put together her mother’s story, the fierceness of Samuel’s love for his daughter comes to light.

South Korea’s economy is ranked 11th in the world in terms of size, ahead of both Russia and Spain. For an economic powerhouse, the home of both Samsung and Hyundai, South Korea is otherwise a relative unknown. Michael Breen, an ex-pat living in South Korea, tells this history of the Koreas, the split between North and South, and how the South, in one generation went from an impoverished, rural country to advanced-nation status in The New Koreans (951.900.)

Also at the Library
     The Horse Dancer (F) by Jojo Moyes
     The Broken Road (F) by Richard Paul Evans
     The 16th Seduction (M) by James Patterson
     All Under Heaven: Recipes From the 35 Cuisines of China (641.595) by Carolyn Phillips
     No Greater Love (234.500) by Mother Teresa
     The Snowden Files (327.127) by Luke Harding

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May 1, 2017 

Stephanie Powell Watts used The Great Gatsby (F) as inspiration for her novel No One is Coming to Save Us (F), but to say that the later is a spin off of the former is to miss the Watts’ originality and unique talent. JJ Ferguson, having made his fortune in the corporate world and government contracts, has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina, where the town’s furniture industry is rapidly collapsing. Compared to JJ’s success, the residents of Pinewood are all forced to reconsider their situation, what they want, and what they might do to get it. If you were able to have the change you’ve always dreamed about, would you be brave enough to grab it?

Stephen Miller’s biography of Dolly Parton, Smart Blonde (782.421), was first published in 2008. Since then, Miller has returned to Parton’s family and friends to go more in depth into Dolly’s world. Revised and republished, Smart Blonde looks past Dolly’s painstakingly created image to reveal a razor sharp business woman who conquered the male dominated world of Nashville in the 1960s. Although this is a revised edition, fans old and new will find something they didn’t know before in this intimate and respectful look into Dolly’s life.

J. D. Wilkes, front man and founder of the 90’s band Legendary Shack Shakers, is now an author, as well. The Vine that Ate the South (F) has all the same flavors as Wilkes’ music – country-punk, Southern gothic lyricism. As the unnamed main character and his Elvis-coiffed side-kick set out to find the truth behind a rural legend of a couple being eaten alive by kudzu, they travel through Wilkes’ native Kentucky countryside encountering characters only Southern folktales can create. Wilkes is clearly an expert on his subject and his wild tale is one that shows a passion for the rural South in every word.

Another musician turned author, Tom T. Hall turned his considerable talents from writing songs to writing his book The Storyteller’s Nashville: A Gritty and Glorious Life in County Music (781.642) about his decades long career in country music. Describing Nashville in its days before it was famous as a hairy-legged town, Hall traces his rise alongside that of Nashville. Along the way, he brings in Johnny Cash, Jimmy Carter, and a host of other people that all witnessed his long and successful career. 

The Altamaha River is also known as Georgia’s Little Amazon, rumored even to harbor its own river monster. When Hunter and Lawton Loggins set out to kayak the river, they take along their father’s ashes determined to deliver the old shrimper back to the sea. Taylor Brown, author of The River of Kings (F), weaves three different story lines into the brother’s journey downriver – that of the brothers themselves, the mysterious death of their father, and the forgotten history of the river’s first people. Coupled with illustrations from the 1564 expedition by Jacques Le Moyen, the first European artist in North America, The River of Kings is a dramatic adventure through a uniquely Southern landscape and a deep family secret.

Jaime Primak Sullivan has turned her reality TV show Jersey Belle into a memoir of her Southern education. The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl: Adventures in Life and Love in the Heart of Dixie (791.450) is the story of how Jaime met, courted, and married her Southern gentleman husband and her subsequent move from New Jersey to Birmingham, Alabama. Told with the same raucous, no-holds-barred attitude she is known for on her Bravo show, Sullivan’s adjustment to life in the South is testament to the things we all have in common, regardless of where we call home.

Also at the library:
     My Italian Bulldozer (F) by Alexander McCall Smith
     The Lost Order (F) by Steve Berry
     Song of the Lion (M) by Anne Hillerman
     Company Confessions: Secrets, Memoirs, and the CIA (327.127) by Christopher Moran
     Rampage Nation: Securing American from Mass Shootings (364.400) by Louis Klarevas
     This Fight is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’ Middle Class (305.550)  by Elizabeth Warren

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April 24, 2017 

Karen Bloom is a tiger mother. She expects nothing less than perfection from her daughter, Bronte, whose schedule is so demanding she rarely has time to eat dinner with the rest of the family. When Bronte disappears, the family and its secrets start unravelling. Noel, Karen’s successful doctor husband, has an appetite for women, and the older children, Verity and Ewan, seem to have an appetite for drugs. When Karen herself disappears, will the family finally be able to pull itself together? Paula Daly’s novel The Trophy Child (F) is her fourth novel set in England’s Lake District.

Many people jokingly refer to their penchant for orderliness as “their OCD.” For people who do truly struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, it is no joke. Kristen Pagacz struggled with OCD for twenty years before she learned its name. Pagacz describes her OCD as “the meanest, wildest monkey running around my head, constantly looking for ways to bite me.” Leaving the OCD Circus: Your Big Ticket Out of Having to Control Every Little Thing (616.852) is Pagacz’s story of how she came to understand OCD and how she found her ticket out. 

Alice Stanhope and her daughter, socially anxious Zoe, make an excellent two person team. A fierce protector and strong single mother, Alice has raised Zoe on her own, keeping the identity of Zoe’s father a mystery. When Alice gets sick and has to plan for Zoe’s future without her, she enlists the help of Kate, a nurse, and Sonja, a social worker. As the four women’s lives become increasingly entwined, each one will have to confront their darkest fears in Sally Hepworth’s The Mother’s Promise (F).

For those who prefer to operate at top speed, Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans (158.100) is a source of tips, tools, and routines collected from some of the world’s highest achievers. From Navy Seal Jocko Willink’s advice on how to overcome failure to meditation guru Tara Brach’s use of negative emotion, Tools of Titans is a pocket guide to achieving the highest standards with the fewest excuses. Not for those who prefer a slower pace of life, Tim Ferriss is one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Business People.

Partly inspired by the Heide Circle, a group of Australian abstract artists, Emily Bitto’s The Strays (F) revolves around the artistic Trentham family. On the first day of school, Eva Trentham befriends Lily and brings her home to an eccentric artist’s commune. In 1930’s Australia, Lily is infatuated by the worldliness and chaos of the Trentham household where parties are often spontaneous and adult supervision is sorely lacking. As with most communal experiments, darkness and disaster lurk over the Trentham household and Lily is in front row seat to observe the great downfall.

The story of Emmett Till, the boy from Chicago who was beaten to death while visiting family in Mississippi, is a famous part of the nation’s civil rights story. The story of his father, Louis Till, however, is less well known. Louis Till was executed by the army in World War II for allegedly raping and murdering a woman in Italy. John Edgar Wideman tells the story of the Till family and, by extension, an important chapter of the civil rights story, that of the treatment of African-American soldiers in World War II, in his book Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File (364.152.)

Also at the Library
     Forever a Hero (F) by Linda Lael Miller
     Vicious Circle (M)  by C. J. Box
     Mangrove Lightning (F) by Randy Wayne White
     The Nine of Us: Growing Up Kennedy (327.209) by Jean Kennedy Smith
     Urban Cycling: How to Get to Work, Save Money, and Use Your Bike for City Living (796.600) by Madi Carlson
     Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organization and Tidying Up (648.00) by Marie Konda

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