Readers Guide


By Julie Forkner

November 13, 2017
November 6, 2017
October 30, 2017
October 23, 2017

November 13, 2017 

With the allegations against Harvey Weinstein in the news, you might think that Naomi Alderman has a special ability when it comes to the timing of the release of her new book. The Power (F) considers a world where women, not men, are the dominant sex. Teenage girls suddenly have the power to send electrical shocks through their fingertips, and they are quickly teaching women of all ages to wield this new, uncanny weapon. Although many works of speculative fiction fail to set fire to people’s imagination, Alderman’s gift for story telling makes this novel electrifying. 

Programmer and video game developer Zoe Quinn survived two years of online harassment, account hacking, and online sexual harassment, including having nude photos published online without her consent by an ex-boyfriend. Known as #Gamergate, the mob that harassed Quinn were relentless, organized, and persistent in their attacks. Highlighting many of the serious problems of the internet, #Gamergate changed Quinn’s life. She is now an online activist for victims of cyberabuse. Her book Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, And How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate (794.800) tells the story of how she triumphed over her online bullies and restored her reputation and dignity.

Although the dark side of the internet is a product of recent history, Daniel Wilson imagines a world where humans have used technology for evil for centuries. Working on restoring a three hundred year old mechanical doll, a young anthropologist discovers a secret world of mechanical human beings that began in Russia in 1710. Clockwork Dynasty (F) is the newest adventure from the author of Robopocalyse (F). 

Although mechanical humans have been the subject of science fiction for ages, the very real field of bioengineering is the new frontier of science and medicine. Author Adam Piore investigated this evolving scientific field by visiting people who had regrown limbs lost in traumatic accidents, trying on muscle suits that give the wearer the strength of a machine, and talking to doctors trying to give mute patients the ability to communicate telepathically. The Body Builders: Inside the Science of the Engineered Human (660.600) is an inspiring account into how science is attempting to augment our physical and mental abilities. 

Rags to riches stories have been around as long as stories themselves. Marie Lu’s new novel Warcross (YPF) brings new life to the classic trope. Emika Chin has been surviving on Ramen in squatters digs for years when she discovers and exploits a bug in a universally adored video game. Having nursed a crush on the game’s designer for years, Chin is shocked when the game’s creator, rather than suing her for the breach, offers her a job. Although this high-paced novel is marketed for young adults, any reader who enjoys the break neck speed of video games and the high tension of war novels will enjoy this latest from the creator of the Legend (YPF) series.

Christine Negroni is an air safety investigator and aviation journalist. Her second book, Crash Detectives: Investigating the World’s Most Mysterious Air Disasters (363.124) is an historical account of how both humans and machines can fail, and how we have learned from those mistakes to be able to fly. From Amelia Earhart’s mysterious disappearance to her own theories about what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Christine Negroni is an adept storyteller and investigator.

Also at the Library:
     The Rooster Bar (F) by John Grisham
     A Scandal in Battersea (F) by Mercedes Lackey
     Dark Legacy (F) by Christine Feehan
     What Unites Us (323.650) by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner
     Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle (320.520) by Jeff
     Woodturning Patterns: 80+ Designs for the Workshop, Garden, and Every Room in the House (684.083) by
       David Heim

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November 6, 2017 

When a young, Irish immigrant chooses to commit suicide in Brooklyn in the early 1900’s, he begins a family drama that will take generations to play out. His pregnant widow is taken in by the Little Nursing Sister of the Sick Poor nuns, and her grandchildren tell the family’s story. Written with the utmost delicacy and tenderness, Alice McDermott’s The Ninth Hour (F) is a stunning achievement.

In 2001, two researchers found 148 notebooks discarded in a dumpster in Cambridge, England. The notebooks turned out to be the diaries, spanning fifty years, of an unnamed person. Challenged with finding the author, Alexander Masters set out to discover her identity and in the process wrote a uncomfortably funny book about underachieving, missed opportunities, and quirky obsessions. A Life Discarded: 148 Diaries Found in the Trash (828.000) is as engrossing as it is funny. 

In 1930, a murder trial was decided on the testimony of a ghost. In 1897 in the mountains of West Virginia, Zona Heaster, willful and beautiful, marries the blacksmith, Erasmus Trout Shue, against her mother’s wishes. A few weeks later, Zona is dead. When her ghost appears to her mother, Erasmus is accused of murder. An Unquiet Grave (F) by Sharyn McCrumb is based on both research into the real court case and on the folklore of the West Virginia mountains. 

What makes a children’s book fit for children? How did the world of children’s literature go from the very un-fun New England Primer, the first children’s book published in the US, to books like Where the Wild Things Are (JP)? Author Bruce Handy doesn’t really know but his attempt to grapple with the world of children’s literature is nostalgic, charming, and profound in Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult (809.892). 

Someone set a fire in the orderly, progressive suburb of Shaker Heights, Ohio. Lots of them, according to the fire chief, and they were everywhere. The cast of characters in Celeste Ng’s newest novel, Little Fires Everyone (F), range from the enigmatic Mia, an itinerant artist and single mother, to Mrs. Richardson, the upright matriarch, to an adopted Chinese baby and her immigrant birth mother, and a horde of characters trying to navigate their way through life in 1990s America and wrestling with the fact that following the rules doesn’t always avert disaster.  

Long before Russian operatives allegedly began manipulating Facebook posts to sway the Presidential election, the CIA used famous writers to produce cultural propaganda. Infiltrating already established magazines like the Paris Review as well as creating new ones, the CIA created a cultural cold war, sometimes using authors such as Richard Wright and John Matthieson as agents. Joel Whitney tells the story in Finks: How the CIA Tricked the World’s Best Writers (327.127).

Also at the Library:
     Mind Game (F) by Iris Johansen
     Deep Freeze (M) by John Sandford
     Two Kinds of Truth (M) by Michael Connelly
     The Dim Sum Field Guide (641.595) by Carolyn Phillips
     Brew it Yourself: Make Your Own Beer, Wine, Hard Cider, and Other Concotions (641.870) by Nick Moyle and
        Richard Hood
     The Intuitive Eating Workbook: 10 Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food (613.250) by     
        Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch

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October 30, 2017 

Ken Follett continues his story of the fictional city of Kingsbridge in the new novel, A Column of Fire (F). In 1558, as Queen Elizabeth ascends the throne and England is deeply, violently divided along religious lines, lovers Ned Willard and Margery Fitzgerald are on opposite sides of the religious clash engulfing the country. As Queen Elizabeth sets up the country’s first secret service to protect her from spies and hidden enemies, Ned and Margery are drawn into the political conflict at a great cost to their love. Although A Column of Fire continues the story Follett began with The Pillars of the Earth (F) and World Without End (F), newcomers to Follett’s tale will be able to follow the story without benefit of the previous two books.

It’s never been easy to make a living as an artist. Even Leonardo da Vinci was ostracized from the inner circle of successful artists and shunned by the  great patrons of his time. Luckily for the artist, King Louis XII of France invaded Milan just as da Vinci was finishing The Last Supper. Jean-Pierre Isoubts and Christopher Heath Brown present a new view on da Vinci’s career, focusing specifically on his years at the Sforza court in Milan. Full of fresh insights and rich with history, Young Leonardo: The Evolution of a Revolutionary Artist, 1472-1499 (709.200) is an exciting new look at a timeless subject.  

Released in conjunction with the third season of Outlander, Diana Gabaldon’s newest collection of short stories, Seven Stones to Stand or Fall (F), fills in story lines the TV show doesn’t cover. Among other stories is the tale of Jamie Fraser and Ian Murray as mercenaries in France long before Claire arrived. From The Battle of Quebec to Jamaica to World War II, this collection of short fiction is sure to engross fans of Gabaldon’s elaborate world.  

The Biltmore House in Asheville, NC is one of the grandest homes ever built in the United States. Designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt and landscaped by the famed Frederick Law Olmstead, the story of Biltmore and its owners George W. Vanderbilt and his wife, Edith Stuyvesant Dresser, begins in the Jazz Age. Denise Kiernan tells how the great house came to be and how it was saved from its own unimaginable excess in The Last Castle (975.688).  

The Great Zabbatini rose to fame with feats of magic and miracles, just as World War II erupted across Europe. The son of a rabbi, The Great Zabbatini is left with only his magic tricks to keep him alive. Seventy years later in Los Angeles, ten-year old Max is looking for a miracle that will keep his parents together. When he discovers a recording of the Great Zabbatini, Max thinks he’s found an answer, except the track that shows Zabbatini performing the spell of eternal love is damaged. Undeterred, Max sets out to find Zabbatini himself in a heartwarming tale of miracles and love in The Trick (F) by Emanuel Bergman. 

Growing up in Oak Ridge while it was still a secret city was a unique experience very few people in this country understand. Author D. Leah Steinberg grew up in Oak Ridge as her father and uncle worked for the Manhattan Project. Her new book, Raised in the Shadow of the Bomb: Children of the Manhattan Project (355.825), is partly her memoir of growing up in the Secret city, part discussion with siblings, and cousins, and part interview with other people growing up in the shadow of the bomb.        

Also at the Library:
     Deep Freeze (M)
by John Sandford
     Fairytale (F) by Danielle Steel
     The Couple Next Door (F) by Shari Lapena
     Fly Fishing North Carolina: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters (799.124) by Anthony V. Smith
     The Cybersecurity to English Dictionary (005.800) by Raef Meeuwisse
     Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook  (641.568) by Jamie Oliver

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October 23, 2017 

In the mountains of Western North Carolina during The Great Depression, opportunities were rare. For Ella May Wiggins, whose husband left her with four kids to raise, her one opportunity is a two-mile walk to work a twelve-hour night shift at a textile mill for $9 a week. When Ella May chooses to join a labor union to strike for better wages, she starts a fight that will impact her family for generations in The Last Ballad (F) by Wiley Cash.

Why is the flu, which kills tens of thousands of people each year, a boring sidenote but Ebola, which killed far fewer people in America, headline news for months? Why are we, as a nation, more scared of infrequent terrorist attacks than we are of daily mass violence? These are some of the questions Sasha Abramsky attempts to answer in his new book, Jumping at Shadows: The Triumph of Fear and the End of the American Dream (302.120). Abramsky argues that our misconceptions of risk and fear are making us increasingly vulnerable to the politics of conspiracy and fear-mongering. 

Deputy Sheriff Constance Kopp is outraged that young women are being arrested for leaving home to find work or escaping abusive families. In 1916, however, morality laws determined who could be out after dark, without a chaperone, and who could not. Taking place during World War I, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions (F) by Amy Stewart draws on the real life experiences of one of the nation’s first female law enforcement officer and the laws she did, and sometimes did not, enforce.

In February of 1968, a Russian submarine, K-129, disappeared on its way to Hawaii. Although the Russian Navy couldn’t find the sub, a covert American operation located it three miles below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. Deeming the information onboard to be too significant to leave on the ocean floor, the US Navy tried to retrieve it. When they couldn’t raise the submarine, the CIA concocted a bizarre story involving Howard Hughes and underwater gem mining to disguise their attempts to raise the submarine. Josh Dean tells the story in The Taking of k-129: How the CIA used Howard Hughes to Steal a Russian Sub in the Most Daring Covert Operation in History (327.127). 

Salman Rushdie is back with an epic satire of our current social climate. Mr. Nero Golden, of mysterious origin and plenty of money, has just moved with his three eccentric sons to Greenwich Village. The Golden’s neighbor, Renee, an aspiring filmmaker, tells the story of the families’ arrival in the Village and all the infidelity, hijinks, and crime that follows in The Golden House (F).

The Vietnam War: An Intimate History (959.704)
is the companion book to the Ken Burns PBS documentary of the same name. Written together with historian Geoffrey C. Ward, the book explores America’s least understood war – the social factors leading to and from it, the three Presidents who looked for ways to either win the war or get out, and many, many more aspects of a pivotal time in history. With rare photographs, recently declassified information, and first-hand accounts, The Vietnam War is the most comprehensive treatment of the subject yet to date. 

Also at the Library:
     Telling Tales (M) by Ann Cleeves
     Any Dream Will Do (F) by Debbie Macomber
     An Echo of Murder (M) by Anne Perry
     A New Way to Bake: Classsic Recipes Updated with Better-for-You Ingredients from the Modern Pantry
        (641.815) from the Kitchens of Martha Stewart
     Cooking with Nonna (641.594) by Rossella Rago
     Contemporary Eataly: Italian Cooking (641.594) by Phaidon Press

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