Readers Guide

 

By Susie Stooksbury
 
September 26, 2014
September 19, 2014
September 12, 2014
September 5, 2014

September 26, 2014 

While it may seem that Bobby J. Copeland’s forte is writing books about the Old West portrayed in the exciting movies of Saturday matinees, he has another love and that’s his hometown – Oak Ridge.  He was only 10 when his family moved to Happy Valley, the community that sprang up during the construction of K-25.  He has great memories of how things used to be and he details them all – wonderfully illustrated with Ed Westcott’s iconic photographs – in Oak Ridge – the Way it Was: a Non-Scientific Look at the First 40 Years of the Secret City (976.873 and ORR 976.873). 

Ken Follett began his impressive saga of the Twentieth Century with Fall of Giants, which focused on five interrelated families from different key nations around the world.  Opening in 1911, the Century Trilogy now closes with The Edge of Eternity, as the new generation bears witness to the turbulent 60s, 70s, and 80s – from the inside of the Kennedy White House to revelations about the CIA in the 1980s. 

Historian Geoffrey C. Ward and filmmaker Ken Burns have collaborated once again to recreate a slice of America’s past.  Their subject this time is one of our country’s most influential families – The Roosevelts (973.910).  Their “intimate biography” focuses on Theodore, Eleanor, and Franklin Delano and shows how each of them overcame tough challenges – both physically and emotionally – to dedicate their lives to public service.  This companion volume goes into even more detail than their outstanding series. 

Jonathan Kellerman gives his usual writing partner, his wife Faye, a rest as he joins forces with their son, Jesse, who also has his own popular series of crime novels.  The Golem of Hollywood features burned-out LAPD detective Jacob Lev who awakens one morning with a mysterious woman in his bed.  The surprises keep coming when he is called in to investigate a bizarre murder: a house high in the Hollywood hills contains the unidentified head of a very dead person – the only clue is the Hebrew word for Justice burned into the kitchen countertop. 

For 15 years, until the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, the leading edge of America’s technological revolution was in Silicon Valley, a once quiet section of the San Francisco Bay area.  Photographer Doug Menuez was invited by an uncharacteristically magnanimous Steve Jobs to document the development for his NeXT Computer Company.  Before long, Menuez was photographing the rest of the young geniuses in that hotbed of innovation – Bill Gates and John Warnock among them.  Fearless Genius (338.700) brings his body of work together to form an exciting history of “the digital revolution in Silicon Valley 1985-2000”. 

Lev Grossman also closes his popular trilogy about magician Quentin Coldwater with The Magician’s Land.  Dethroned as the Magician King of Fillory and banished from the land he loves, Quentin plans to spend the rest of his life quietly teaching at Brakebills Preparatory College of Magic.  Those plans fall through, though, when he is kicked out for insubordination.  He is soon forced into taking a dicey freelance job which will eventually bring back those he knew in the past and set him on a new course for the future. 

Other new titles:

Fiction –
     The Competition: a Rachel Knight Novel, by Marcia Clark;
    
The Illusionists: a Novel, by Rosie Thomas;
    
The Long Way Home: a Chief Inspector Gamache Novel (M), by Louise Penny;
    
Act of War, by Brad Thor.

Non-fiction –
     Growing Up Duggar: It’s All About Relationships (306.850), by Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger Duggar;
    
Elephant Company: the Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals who Helped him Save Lives
       World War II (940.542)
, by Vicki Constantine Croke.

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September 19, 2014 

If you remember Ethel Howell, Dr. Preston, and cruisin’ around Shoney’s on Friday night, chances are you were a teen in Oak Ridge during the Fifties and Sixties.  Tollie Moore DeGraw brings back some great memoires from those days in her book, Secret City, the Second Generation (976.873 and ORR 976.873). 

Danny Doyle grew up a scared, bullied kid in the Pennsylvania coal town called Lost Creek.  After his bipolar mother was committed to a psychiatric facility, Danny landed in the care of his grandfather, who, along with local cop Rafe, saw the boy’s potential.  Now Dr. Sheridan Doyle, as he is known in Philadelphia, is a well-respected forensic psychologist whose specialty is serial killers.  A trip back home to see his ailing grandfather, though, leads Danny into a murder case that chillingly involves his own family and Lost Creek’s violent past.  One of Us is the new suspense thriller by Tawni O’Dell. 

It was 150 years ago that Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman and his northern troops swept through the South in their March to the Sea.  Depending on your loyalties, Sherman was either a brilliant strategist or a devil.  Historian Robert L. O’Connell presents a well-rounded biography of the General, detailing his colorful, complex life before, during, and after the war in Fierce Patriot: the Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman (921.000). 

At 33, Ellen Trawton decides to run away from home.  She is tired of London’s social whirl and resents her mother’s constant pressure to marry her fiancé – a man she now realizes she doesn’t love.  Breaking all ties with the world she knows – she even throws away her iPhone – she heads for her mother’s estranged family in Ireland.  Her ramblings along the wild coast at Connemara take her to a deserted lighthouse, the troubled widower who lives near there, and the wary ghost of his wife.  Secrets of the Lighthouse is the latest romantic thriller from Santa Montefiore. 

Since the Fifties, we have been told that saturated fats in the diet are a leading factor in heart disease and that a low-fat diet is our ticket to good health.  Journalist Nina Teicholz reports, however, that many long term studies indicate that good heart health through low-fat diets is a fallacy.  Read what she has to say in her provocative book, The Bit Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet (613.284). 

As the war in Europe winds down, David Warburg, who is a lawyer with the U.S. Treasury Department, is sent to Rome to establish the War Refugee Board which will assist European Jews in their efforts to create a homeland.  He is assigned Red Cross worker Marguerite d’Erasmo to be his assistant, and she secretly hopes to use her job to further her own agenda.  David doesn’t realize the snake pit Rome has become until he learns about the Vatican’s involvement in helping Nazi war criminals escape to Argentina – and the people in power who not only condone it but hope to stop the Jewish migration to Palestine.  Novelist James Carroll takes us into the maelstrom that was post-war Europe in Warburg in Rome. 

New DVDs:

Feature –
     Divergent, with Shailene Woodley and Theo James;
    
Face of Love, starring Annette Benning and Ed Harris;
    
Out of the Furnace, featuring Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson;
    
Amazing Spider-man 3, with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone;
    
Transcendence, featuring Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman.

Informational –
     Muscle Shoals: the Incredible True Story of a Small Town With a Big Sound (DVD 781.490);
    
Stephen Hawking’s Grand Design (DVD 523.100).

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September 12, 2014 

Oak Ridger Timothy Oesch presents his imaginative Seruna Savant.  Texas physician Will Johnson is visited one day by an extraordinary young woman who has traveled to Earth to fulfill her dead father’s quest to find the cause of diabetes.  She helps Will discover that the real catalyst is an air pollutant which the government could easily regulate but refuses due to economic and political reasons.  Their discovery, however, puts both their lives in danger as the nation’s power brokers try to silence them. 

Along with Father Tim Kavanagh and his wife, Cynthia, Jan Karon’s legion of fans finally make a return trip to Mitford.  The endearing little village in the North Carolina mountains, as well as its quirky inhabitants, takes center stage in Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, Karon’s first novel in five years.  It is time for Father Tim to decide what to do with the rest of his life – especially after he turns down the chance to take over his old parish.  While waiting to find that new direction, he begins working at the Happy Endings Bookstore where he is always available to help his friends and family work through their own problems. 

Thanks to many, many books and TV shows, most of us have a pretty good idea about what forensic pathologists do.  Dr. Judy Melinek began her career at the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner just two months before 9/11.  Her continued passion for her work is evident as she looks back on that time in Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner (614.100). 

It is Claire Limya Lame’s birthday and she is turning seven.  While each of these special days has been a unique time for the little girl, whose mother died in childbirth, this is the day her father, impoverished fisherman Nozias, decides that in order for his daughter to have a better life he must allow her to be raised by wealthy widow Madame Gaelle.  Claire has other ideas, though, and soon the whole village of Ville Rose begins searching for her.  Author Edwidge Danticat uses the little girl and the stories surrounding her birthdays to take us into the heart of life in Haiti in Claire of the Sea Light.   

Scientific studies of the brain have made great strides over the last decades, thanks largely to advances in technology.  Yet people have been studying this most enigmatic of organs for centuries, basing what knowledge and theories they have gained on patients who survived strokes, terrible diseases, and bizarre accidents.  Science writer Sam Kean looks at “the history of the human brain as revealed by true stories of trauma, madness, and recovery” in his fascinating new book, The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons (617.480). 

Reader’s thoroughly enjoyed the story of London street musician James Bowen whose drug-addled, hand-to-mouth existence took a turn for the better when he befriended an injured stray cat he named Bob.  That was two years ago.  Bowen is now a best-selling author who recalls those painful, nearly homeless days, the people he knew, and the new lease on life the handsome feline brought with him in The World According to Bob (636.800). 

Other new titles:

Fiction –
     Power Play: an FBI Thriller, by Catherine Coulter;
    
A Perfect Life, by Danielle Stell;
    
Hounded: an Andy Carpenter Mystery (M), by David Rosenfelt;
    
Your Fathers, Where are They? And the Prophets, Do they Live Forever? by Dave Eggers;
    
The Lost Island: a Gideon Crew Novel, by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child.

Non-fiction –
     The Same Sweet Girls’ Guide to Life: Advice from a Failed Southern Belle (158.100), by Cassandra King.

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September 5, 2014 

Economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen Dubner, authors of the popular Freakonomics, have teamed up yet again to continue their crusade to help you think outside the box.  They examine such diverse topics as why Nigerian internet scammers will tell you they are from Nigeria and how the hot dog eating champion of the world eats all those dogs.  Before long they will make you, too, Think Like a Freak (153.430). 

Talented painter Harriet Burden has worked long and hard to be recognized by the modern art world but has met little success.  Now middle-aged, the years of being ignored by the critics and subordinated by her late husband have taken their toll.  She sets up three shows, each fronted by a male artist.  The shows receive critical acclaim, but Harriet’s ploy to stun the world with the revelation that the works are all her creation falls flat when the third artist, a fellow called Rune, charges that Harriet is lying and that he is the true creator.  Things are further complicated when Rune is murdered.  Siri Hustvedt presents her thought-provoking new novel, The Blazing World. 

The fact that there is still quality wood furniture being made in America today rests largely on the gumption of John Bassett III.  Grandson of the founder of Bassett Furniture Company, he watched as this once thriving industry was all but decimated in the 1980s by a flood of cheap Chinese imports.  But he fought back – and he won.  Journalist Beth Macy tells how in Factory Man (338.700). 

In Iceland in 1828, three people were convicted of a double murder.  One of the victims was Natan Ketilsson, a local healer, whose housekeeper, Agnes Magnusdottir, was sentenced to die for bludgeoning him to death.  While waiting for her execution, Agnes was put in the tenuous care of farmers Jon and Margret Jonsson and the young assistant minister, Reverend Thorvadier, was assigned to be her spiritual guide.  Australian novelist Hannah Kent builds a beautifully crafted and compelling novel based on this true story in her fiction debut, Burial Rites. 

The Victorians’ practice of bringing back artifacts from their travels in the Middle East helped uncover the origin of the Flood story which holds a central place in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic texts.  In 1872, British Museum curator George Smith discovered the same story on a piece of cuneiform dating back to the Babylonians of Mesopotamia.  Surprisingly, in 1985, Irving Finkel, now curator at the British Museum, was shown a cuneiform that embellished on the Babylonian relic by giving instructions on how to build a vessel that would withstand the flood.  He gleefully recounts Smith’s work and his own in The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood (299.210). 

Ruth Downie transports us back to A.D. 122 Britannia as the Roman legion works diligently on Hadrian’s Wall.  Built to protect the Romans in the south from the Barbarians in the north, the wall runs across land once held by the locals with whom the soldiers have a very nervous détente.  Medical officer Gaius Petrius Ruso and his native wife, Tilla, try to help bridge the tension, but things start to fall apart when Ruso’s clerk Candidus and a nine-year-old British boy both mysteriously disappear.  Tabula Rasa is the curmudgeonly Ruso’s sixth adventure. 

Other new titles:

Fiction –
      Problems with People: Stories, by David Guterson;
    
The Directive, by Matthew Quirk;
    
The Girls of August, by Anne Rivers Siddons;
    
Vertigo 42: a Richard Jury Mystery (M), by Martha Grimes;
    
Mambo in Chinatown, by Jean Kwok.

Non-fiction –
     The Most Dangerous Animal of All: Searching for My Father…and Finding the Zodiac Killer (364.152), by
        Gary L. Stewart.

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