Sookie Poole of Pointe Clear, Alabama, has just married off her last daughter and is ready to begin this new phase of her life. The only fly in the ointment is her mother, Lenore Simmons Krackenberry, a formidable force of nature whose eccentricities are getting worse. Sookie has always felt she never measured up to her mother’s expectations – and an envelope she receives may help her understand why. It seems Sookie was adopted, and her search for her biological family takes her to the Midwest and all the way back to World War II. The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion is the latest delight from Fannie Flagg.
On October 9, 2012, Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by agents of the Taliban who were attempting to silence her protests over their edict banning education for girls. This appalling act made world-wide headlines as the young woman fought for her life in the hospital. Miraculously she recovered and she has continued to speak out for Pakistani girls and their right to an education. She tells her story in I am Malala: the Girl who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban (371.822).
The observance of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John Kennedy included fascinating TV shows, myriad articles, and a number of new books. Here are a few of them, including When the News Went Live: Dallas 1963 (973.922) by Bob Huffaker, Bill Mercer, George Phenix, and Wes Wise – the four reporters with Dallas station KRLD who fed the minute-by-minute coverage of the events as they unfolded to CBS affiliates across the country. Dallas Morning News reporter Hugh Aynesworth was in Dealey Plaza that day, even though he was off the clock. He recounts what he saw and heard in November 22, 1963: Witness to History (973.922). For Clint Hill and the other Secret Service agents who accompanied the Kennedys to Dallas, it was another day of vigilance and protection – until the shots rang out killing the President. Hill was walking behind the limo and witnessed it all, and he now recounts what he saw during those Five Days in November (973.922).
Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri returns with her second novel The Lowland – a compelling tale of two brothers and the divergent paths their lives take. Although they were born 15 months apart, Subhash and Udayan share the closeness of twins. The older, Subhash, is a tradionalist willing to follow the strict wishes of his parents, while Udayan is somewhat wild and undisciplined. It is Udayan’s choice to join the Communist movement sweeping India in the 60s which touches off a tragedy that will affect Subhash and his family for generations.
A lawyer by training, young Scotsman Walter Moody sails to Kokitika, New Zealand, in 1866 to join the gold rush and make his fortune. As he checks into the hotel, he interrupts a tension-filled meeting between 12 residents who are determined to solve several puzzling mysteries which have recently occurred in the ordinarily quiet town. Soon, they have involved the unwitting Walter in their investigations. Winner of this year’s Man Booker Prize, The Luminaries is an intricately challenging and totally entertaining novel by Eleanor Catton.
Other new titles:
Fiction – Strait of Hormuz, by Davis Bunn; Whitefire, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child; By Stone, By Blade, By Fire: a Barbara Holloway Mystery, by Kate Wilhelm; A Christmas Hope (M), by Anne Perry.
Non-fiction – What Are You Hungry For? The Chopra Solution to Permanent Weight Loss, Well-Being, and Lightness of Soul (613.250), by Deepak Chopra; My Story (364.154), by Elizabeth Smart.
In her latest novel, Cassandra King takes the bones of Daphne DuMaurier’s classic Rebecca but puts her own spin on it. Having walked out of her abusive marriage, Helen Honeywell is beginning to enjoy her life as the host of a popular cooking show when charismatic widower Emmet Justice sweeps her off her feet. They marry quickly after a whirlwind courtship and plan to spend the summer at Moonrise, Emmet’s family home high in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Once there, though, Helen begins to have misgivings. Emmet’s friends make it clear they don’t like her, and as Emmet even seems to cool towards her she realizes she must learn the secret of Rosalyn Justice’s death to find peace.
Here is a little tidbit to whet your appetite for the new season of Downton Abbey which begins in January. Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey (791.450) is your “official backstage pass to the set, the actors and the drama”. It is lush with photographs that detail the props, hair and make-up, and wardrobe which together recreate so wonderfully the look and feel of England in the Twenties.
Theirs was definitely not one of those cute meetings lovers are so fond of talking about. Shandi Pierce and William Ashe meet at a gas station convenience store during an armed robbery. When William takes the bullet meant for Shandi, she knows she has met the man of her dreams. With wit and heart, Joshilyn Jackson tells of two people with complicated, messy lives trying to find their way together in Someone Else’s Love Story.
An architect by profession, Charles Belfoure makes his thoroughly original fiction debut with a story that features – who else? – an architect. The Nazi occupation of Paris has caused no end of trouble for Lucien Bernard. Their very presence has brought darkness to his beloved city and his livelihood has dried up. The job offer from a wealthy industrialist to design cleverly disguised hiding places for Jews is intriguing to Lucien – he will allow him to do the work he loves, earn some money, and outwit the Germans. It will also get him executed as a collaborator if he is caught – and there are many in Paris who would be happy to turn him in if they ever discovered what he is doing. The Paris Architect is the title.
After the American Revolution was over and the celebration died down, a group of intelligent and strong-willed men set about growing a nation. Two of the most dynamic were Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, whose separate visions of what the country should be were diametrically opposed. Historian John Ferling explores “the rivalry that forged a nation” in his new book, Jefferson and Hamilton (973.099).
Fiction – Dirty Love, by Andre Dubus III; Takedown Twenty: a Stephanie Plum Novel (M), by Janet Evanovich; Southern as a Second Language, by Lisa Patton; Rustication, by Charles Palliser.
Non-fiction – Practice to Deceive (364.152), by Ann Rule; Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision & Reality (655.409), by Scott Belsky.
Pulitzer Prize winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin takes as her subject the political landscape of the early 20th Century and the fascinating friendship between Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Her lens in The Bully Pulpit (973.911) is far-reaching, not only portraying the larger-than-life Roosevelt and the unassuming Taft, but focusing as well on journalists such as Ida Tarbell and Lincoln Steffens who played such a key role in Roosevelt’s political agenda.
Publisher HarperCollins has launched The Austen Project in which six authors have been enlisted to put their own modern spin on Jane Austen’s classic novels. First up is Sense & Sensibility, with Joanne Trollope providing her updated story of the Dashwood women who lose their ancestral home to some distant cousins after the death of Mr. Dashwood. As the girls – Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret – set out to find love and financial security, they watch in dismay as their gauche cousins bring their own decorating touches to their beloved Norland Park.
A veteran of the Iraq War, Spero Lucas has managed to find a job as a private investigator that keeps him within the propriety of the law yet allows him to enjoy the addictive adrenaline rush he gets from violence – his legacy from the war. He works for a D. C. defense lawyer and is currently trying to clear Calvin Bates of the charge of murdering his girlfriend. But Spero also works side jobs in his spare time – usually locating lost or stolen items – and it is the hunt and recovery, usually violent, that awakens Spero’s true talents. The Double is the latest in George Pelecanos’ new series featuring the enigmatic Lucas.
Growing up in little St. Francisville, Louisiana, journalist Rod Dreher knew he wanted more out of life and left as soon as he got a job offer. His sister Ruthie, however, knew everything she wanted was in that little town and she grew to become a vital part of the close-knit community. When Rod learned that Ruthie had been diagnosed with a particularly virulent form of cancer, he marveled at the support the town provided throughout her illness and he began to question the life he had chosen for himself. The Little Way of Ruthie Leming (070.920) is his compelling memoir about a life well lived in a world he finally came to appreciate.
The Goldfinch is a small painting, one of the few remaining works by the Dutch artist Fabritius who was killed centuries ago in an explosion which also destroyed his studio. It is Theo Decker’s mother’s all-time favorite painting and it is currently on exhibit at the Met in New York. The two Deckers are there, needing to kill a little time, when a bomb goes off. Theo’s mother is killed, and in the confusion afterwards Theo somehow ends up with the painting. In her intriguing new novel, Donna Tartt explores that defining moment in the boy’s life and the path he must follow to keep the beloved painting secret.
Throughout her vibrant career that still continues to entertain, as well as a string of books about her life and philosophy, Shirley MacLaine has revealed herself to be a truly one-of-a-kind person. In her latest book, she asks the question What If…(791.430) as a springboard to exploring a wide-ranging set of new possibilities in everything from love to politics and religion. Along the way, she also candidly talks about her role on Downton Abbey and her experiences introducing a new pup into her one-dog household.
Fiction – Winners, by Danielle Steel; Through the Evil Days: a Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Novel (M), by Julia Spencer-Fleming; The Valley of Amazement, by Amy Tan; Rasputin’s Shadow, by Raymond Khoury.
Non-fiction – The Pioneer Woman Cooks a Year of Holidays (641.568), by Ree Drummond.
In both his fiction and non-fiction, Pat Conroy has drawn upon his life as the oldest son in a highly dysfunctional family. Through these books, he has worked through the anger, heartbreak, and frustration he knew as the son of a father prone to violence. Now he reveals the real man behind the abusive character he called Santini in his new memoir, The Death of Santini: the Story of a Father and his Son (921.000).
Lotty Herschel and Kitty Binder have been a part of each other’s lives since 1939 when their parents sent them to London on the Kindertransport out of Vienna. Both settled in and around Chicago, and Kitty’s drug addicted daughter Judy eventually became an on-again, off-again patient at Lotty’s clinic. Now Judy claims someone is trying to kill her. Lotty turns to her good friend, V. I. Warshawsky, for help. Vic soon learns that Judy’s computer genius son, Martin, has been missing for more than a week. The case takes her into the underworld of drugs as she follows leads to pre-war Europe and the development of the atomic bomb. Critical Mass (M) is the latest from Sara Paretsky.
It’s hard to believe that Bridget Jones has turned 51. Now a single mother of two, she is once again facing the dating scene – but the rules have changed along with the technology. Join her as she deals with Twitter, a boyfriend 15 years her junior, and an infestation of head lice in Helen Fielding’s new treat, Bridget Jones: Mad about the Boy.
Maybe you think the smartest guy on any football team is the quarterback. Well, think again. The brainiac with the Minnesota Vikings is their punter, Chris Kluwe, who thinks deep, serious, and not-so-serious thoughts on a variety of topics. He share his musings in his most unusual book, Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: on Myths, Morons, Free-Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities (814.000).
The approaching centennial of World War I has touched off a spate of new books and provided a wealth of inspiration for novelists. Thomas Keneally is one of them. In Daughters of Mars, he follows the fortunes of sisters Naomi and Sally Durance, who leave their home in Australia to join the Nursing Corps. Their first stop is Gallipoli where they receive a shocking indoctrination into the horrors of battle. They barely survive the torpedoing of their ship as they head to France, only to be faced once they get there with the devastating heartbreak of gas warfare.
The first World War also becomes a jolting reality for Nova Scotia fisherman Angus MacGrath when he learns his brother-in-law and best friend, Ebbin Hant, has gone missing on the front line. Against the wishes of his father, who is a pacifist, Angus enlists believing he will be sent to London to become a cartographer. In fact, he ends up in France in the thick of the fighting. At home, Angus’ 13-year-old son, Simon, is also struggling to understand his father’s actions while being forced to leave the certainties of childhood behind. The Cartographer of No Man’s Land marks the compelling debut of P. S. Duffy.
Fiction – The Wolves of Midwinter, by Anne Rice; No Man’s Nightingale: an Inspector Wexford Novel (M), by Ruth Rendell; The Spymistress, by Jennifer Chiaverini; The Pure Gold Baby, by Margaret Drabble.
Non-fiction – Keep It Pithy: Useful Observations in a Tough World (814.00), by Bill O’Reilly; Autobiography of Mark Twain: vol. 2 (921.000), by Mark Twain.