Readers Guide


By Julie Forkner

February 6, 2017
January 30, 2017
January 23, 2017
January 16, 2017

February 6, 2017 

In 1984, a member of the Irish Republican Army planted a long-delay time bomb in the Grand Hotel on the Brighton coast where Margaret Thatcher would soon be staying. Jonathan Lee has used that event as the basis for his new novel, High Dive (F). Although based on tragic true events, Lee has managed to create a fictional scenario of clashing loyalties and high comedy.

When the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, it heralded the promise of a new, more open Russia. That promise, however, has not played out as Russia becomes more dangerous, existing, as Arkady claims, in a state of perpetual fear and ongoing war with its neighbors. Arkady Ostrovsky traces the evolution of Russia from Gorbachev’s perestroika to Putin’s regime in The Invention of Russia: From Gorbachev’s Freedom to Putin’s War (947.086.)

Kavya Reddy leads a charmed, albeit childless, life in Berkeley, surrounded by the wealth and company of Northern California. Soli Valdez is an ambitious eighteen year-old, undocumented and pregnant. At a loss in a new country where she is often invisible and helpless, Soli finds a purpose and identity in motherhood. Until that is, she is sent to an immigration detention camp and her son is put up for adoption. Soli’s determination to get her son back collides with Kavya’s fierce desire for a child in Lucky Boy (F) by Shanti Sekaran.

In 2008, AIG was one of the most despised banks in the nation, playing a major role in the financial crisis and receiving millions in taxpayer bailout money. Bob Benmosche became the group’s CEO in August of 2009, taking over the failing business against all odds. By 2011, Benmosche had repaid an enormous debt of $182.3 billion and still made a profit of $22.7 billion. His book, Good for the Money: My Fight to Pay Back America (368.009), tells how he did it.

For those readers interested in something different, Pola Oloixarac’s novel Savage Theories (F) is a novel like no other. One reviewer stated that all other novels are boring in comparison, and it has been named a riveting new read by Oprah Winfrey. Described as “a novel of seduction and madness, hate and love, set in the world of Argentine academia,” Savage Theories will lose you in a world you never knew existed.

Chris Lehmann’s book The Money Cult: Capitalism, Christianity, and the Unmaking of the American Dream (261.850) attempts to explain how American Christianity has dealt with its economic identity throughout history. Arguing that far from being austere and pious, the Puritans were entangled with capitalism from the very beginning. Situating today’s megachurches and profitable Christian personalities such as Joel Osteen, against that backdrop, Lehmann shows how close capitalism and Christianity have been throughout our history.

Also at the Library:
     Below the Belt (F) by Stuart Woods
     The Old Man (F) by Thomas Perry
     The Sleepwalker (F) by Chris Bohjalian
     The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World
) by Brad Stone
     Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission (973.921) by Bret Baier
     Rise: How a House Built a Family (305.896) by Cara Brookins

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January 30, 2017 

Despite the popularity of the Twilight series, author Stephenie Meyer was heavily criticized for her passive female characters. Her current heroine, Alex, aka The Chemist, is an altogether different person than Bella was. As an expert in her field, namely interrogation and torture, Alex is suddenly on the run from her former employer, an agency so secret it doesn’t have a name, for reasons she does not know. When she’s offered a way out, the way out becomes even more dangerous than staying in “The Chemist” (F)

In 1899, George and Willie Muse, six and nine at the time, disappeared from the town of Truevine, Virginia. Truevine is still described as one of the most segregated places in the nation. What, then, would life have been like for two albino African-American boys? The story handed down in Truevine states that the boys were kidnapped and sold to the circus. That they were in the circus is undeniable – the boys are well documented being shown as “ambassadors from Mars,” cannibals, and “sheep-headed freaks.” Investigative reporter Beth Macy set out to discover how the boys ended up prisoners of the circus and the truth of their lives there in “Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest” (791.350.)

Historian William Forstchen’s John Matherson trilogy started with “One Second After” (F), that second being the one just after a nuclear bomb detonates above North America. The finale to the series, The Final Days (F), takes place in the small town of Black Mountain, North Carolina where John Matherson and his community are trying to restore their world to what it was before the disaster. A new aggressive government, however, has taken over and the Constitution is no longer in effect. The Army has been deployed to suppress rebellion, but John and his followers have other plans in this dystopian fantasy.

Genetic testing is experiencing exponential growth. As the cost of DNA sequencing rapidly decreases, genetic testing is becoming more and more accessible to individuals and families. Authors Steven Lipkin, MD and Jon R Luoma feel that today’s genomics are in a similar place nuclear physics was last century – it can be used as a powerful tool for doing good if used correctly but also potentially devastating. “The Age of Genomes: Tales from the Front Lines of Genetic Medicine” (616.042) explores both the risk and the promise of genetic medicine through patients’ true stories and Dr. Lipkin’s easily accessible medical interpretations.

Jay Crawford spent ten years in jail for a crime he did not commit. When he begins to fear for his family’s safety, he manages to escape, never dreaming that life on the outside would be harder than escaping. Crawford’s best friends come to his rescue, but seduction, black mail, betrayal, and even murder may prove too much in Carl Weber’s newest thriller “Man on the Run” (F).

TED talks have become famous for their ability to entertain an audience so thoroughly that the educational part of those speeches is a pleasure. Chris Anderson began curating the TED platform in 2001 and since then has taught speakers how to craft short talks for maximum impact. “TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking” (808.510) shows the secrets to creating a powerful presentation that anyone who has to speak in public should know.

Also at the library:
     The Mistress (F) by Danielle Steel
     Christmas Masquerade (F) by Debbie Macomber
     Wyoming Brave (F) by Diana Palmer
     The Mistresses of Clivenden: Three Centuries of Scandal, Power and Intrigue In an English Stately Home    
by Natalie Livingstone
     My Father and Atticus Finch: A Lawyer’s Fight for Justice in 1930s Alabama (345.761) by Joseph Madison Beck
     To Protect and Serve: How to Fix America’s Police ( 363.200) by Norm Stamper

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January 23, 2017 

John Wesley Harding was one of the most notorious outlaws of late 1800’s Texas, facing down such well known law keepers as Wild Bill Hickock. Known to have killed over 20 men, Harding was finally arrested in 1878 and sent to federal prison for fourteen years. When he was released on pardon, he ran, unsuccessfully, for public office. Historical fiction author James Carlos Blake has written a powerful and uncompromising fictional account of Harding’s life in The Pistoleer (F). Blake’s writing is as ruthless as the time period he portrays. 

Outlaws were not the only ones fighting in the days after the Civil War. As the United States continued to expand westward, white settlers increasingly clashed with native tribes, who were often in conflict themselves. The dynamic of inter-tribal conflict and Manifest Destiny resulted in decades of wide-ranging and fierce battles for the right to land. In The Earth is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West (978.020), historian Peter Cozzens attempts to give a balanced look at the American policies of westward expansion and the Native resistance to encroaching settlements. Cozzens’ work is a huge undertaking, with detailed descriptions of battles and negotiations in an attempt to give every side its due.

In a fictional post-Civil War South, Terry Roberts’ That Bright Land (F) gives us Jacob Ballard, a former Union soldier and spy sent by the War Department to the mountains of North Carolina where a serial killer is on the loose. Ballard’s search for the murderer makes him face his own savage past.  Roberts, like many other writers, notably Ron Rash and Sharyn McCrumb, draws on the real-life Shelton Laurel massacre for material. That Bright Land, set in Madison County just over the North Carolina border from Tennessee, details how highly divided the mountains were during the Civil War and just how hard it was to reconcile after the fighting ended.

Some parents are criticized for hovering over their children unnecessarily. James Campbell is not that parent. Invited by his cousin to help build a cabin in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, James Campbell not only accepted the invitation but brought along his fifteen year old daughter. Although Campbell had his doubts as to whether or not Aiden would be able handle the brutal conditions, she embraced the wilderness and even returned to help work trap lines and hunt caribou. Afterwards, Campbell decided that he and Aiden would make a third trip to the Arctic, backpacking across the Brooks Range to the headwaters of the Hulahula River. Their journey tested both their physical stamina and their relationship and is the subject of Braving It: A Father, A Daughter, and an Unforgettable Journey into the Alaskan Wild (917.980).

The history of the Civil War can turn small towns into tourist destinations. The same is true in Robert Charles Wilson’s new science fiction novel Last Year (F). In the near future, people are able to open passageways into the past – but only once. Once a passageway has been closed, that past can never happen again. A passageway into late 19th century has created a tourist destination for time travelers in post-Civil War Ohio. When a native of the past falls in love with a woman of the future, what secrets will he reveal in order to keep the woman he loves?

Fast forward a whole century. In the early 1990’s, the first satellite telephone system, Iridium, was created. Built on technology developed during Reagan’s Star Wars, Iridium, technology far beyond anything else up to that point, threatened phone companies around the world. Motorola took a gamble on Iridium and lost. Within a year, bankruptcy was looming, the largest in American history at the time. Dan Colussy, however, saw potential in the pending disaster and, together with a team of rogue investors, decided to save the satellite constellation from destruction. John Bloom tells how Colussy turned around one of the largest technological blunders in US history in the book Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story (384.510.

Also at the library:

Fiction on CD:
     The Gate House (V DEMI GH R 28) by Nelson DeMille
     The Mistletoe Secret (V EVANR MS M 89) by Richard Paul Evans
     Odessa Sea (V CUSS OS B 91) by Clive Cussler

     Missing Man: The American Spy who Vanished in Iran ( 327.120) by Barry Meier
     The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks (333.780) by Terry Tempest Williams
     A Consequential President: The Legacy of Barack Obama (973.932) by Michael D’Antionio

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January 16, 2017 

The Gustav Sonata (F)
is Rose Tremain’s, winner of the Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, latest novel. Taking place in Switzerland over the course of the lifetimes of best friends Gustav and Anton, this lyrical tale tells the story of families surviving the difficult decisions made during war time and the way success and jealousy often exist together. When Gustav’s father dies as a result of his defending Jewish refugees, Gustav is left alone with his anti-Semitic mother. His friend Anton, the child of Jewish war refugees, grows to become a famous pianist. The story of their parallel lives is told with great clarity for the human condition. 

Vivian Howard, co-creator of the PBS hit series A Chef’s Life, has put her stories of growing up in North Carolina and her culinary skill together in a new cookbook, Deep Run Roots (641.597.)  Founder of Chef and the Farmer, the restaurant that made Kinston, NC famous, Howard left her childhood home in North Carolina to learn in the world class kitchens of New York City. When her family offered her the chance to open her own restaurant in Kinston, Howard seized the opportunity. Deep Run Roots (641.597) is the mouth-watering product of both her schooling and alongside stories of her North Carolina upbringing. 

The Washington Post called Bernice McFadden’s new novel The Book of Harlan (F) “simply miraculous.” Beginning at the peak of the Jazz Era, The Book of Harlan begins in Macon, GA where Harlan’s parents meet. After a stroke of good luck, the family moves to Harlem, New York, where Harlan discovers his talent and passion for music. From Harlem, Harlan goes to Paris, where World War II begins. McFadden’s thorough research and passion for her subject creates a brilliant novel. 

Local author Richard Cook saw a grave injustice in the fact that Rosie the Riveter is a celebrated icon but the women who worked for the Manhattan Project were largely ignored. Ignored Heroes of World War II (976.983) is his attempt to correct that imbalance and his contribution to the legacy of the Manhattan Project. This oral history celebrates the contributions of Wendy the Welder and the accomplishments achieved in Oak Ridge during the war. 

In 1961 Philadelphia, Joe Knight is born and quickly orphaned. Raised by an aunt, Joe grows to be a star basketball player and to form a multi-million dollar company. When he sells his ad firm in a lucrative deal, the Justice Department begins looking into the sale, and Joe’s life begins to unravel. Told with force and muscle, Morris’ All Joe Knight (F) creates an anti-hero to rival John Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom. 

Ray Kroc was just beginning to sell franchises of his hamburger chain when he met Joan, his soon-to-be wife. As the McDonald’s fortune steadily grew, their marriage grew more turbulent. Often compared to Elizabeth Taylor’s and Richard Burton’s relationship, Ray and Joan survived many years of marriage but their problems led Joan to become one of the greatest philanthropists of our time. Ray and Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald’s Fortune and the Woman Who Gave it All Away (361.740) by Lisa Napoli tells their story.

Also at the Library:
     Curtain of Death (F) by W. E. B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV
     The Spartan Dagger (F) by Nicholas Guild
     2 Timers (F) by Amaleka McCall
     Spiders from Mars: My Life with Bowie (781.660) by Woody Woodmansey
     Facebook for Seniors (006.754) by Carrie, Chris, and Cheryl Ewin
     The 30 Day Ketogenic Cleanse (641.563) by Maria Emmerich

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