Spotlight on New Historical Fiction

If you enjoy history, but like a good story to go along with it, you may have already discovered the genre of historical fiction. If not, consider this your introduction.

Your librarian can help you to find a great historical novel set in any era using tools such as NoveList. Or follow the link to our library database page and under the heading for literature, click on ‘NoveList’ (or ‘Remote Access’ from home) to access this useful resource for readers.

Take  a look at these works of historical fiction, recently added to the shelves at Sewickley Public Library. You can follow the linked titles to find them in the library catalog, where you may request a copy for pickup.

 

The Pagan LordTHE PAGAN LORD: A NOVEL by Bernard Cornwell

The seventh and latest in the ‘Saxon Tales Saga,’ also referred to as ‘The Warrior Chronicles’ and ‘Saxon Stories,’ this book is by “the move prolific and successful historical novelist in the world today,” according to a Wall Street Journal review. The Pagan Lord continues Cornwell’s epic telling of the making of England in the middle ages and the struggle to unite Britain, centering on the stories of Alfred the Great and his descendents. If you are an Anglophile or love Viking stories (or both!), this book and series will have appeal.

The full list of books in the ‘Saxon Stories’ can be found on Bernard Cornwell’s website. If this series and setting sounds intriguing and you’d like to begin at the beginning, the first in this series is The Last Kingdom: A Novel.

The Ghost of the Mary CelesteTHE GHOST OF THE MARY CELESTE by Valerie Martin

Valerie Martin’s latest work of historical fiction explores the unanswered questions surrounding the Mary Celeste, an American merchant vessel found adrift off the Spanish coast in 1872, cargo intact but the entire crew vanished with no signs of foul play.

Martin has written other acclaimed works of historical fiction. Mary Reilly, a retelling of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the point of view of a young female servant, won both the Nebula Award and the World Fantasy Award. And Property, which tells the story of a plantation master’s wife and her slave on a sugar plantation near New Orleans in 1828, won the Orange Prize (now called the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction) and was named one of the 10 best historical novels by The Observer in 2012.

The Wife, The Maid, and The MistressTHE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS by Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon’s debut novel, set in Jazz Age New York, The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress is an fictionalized account of the real disappearance in 1930 of Justice Joseph Crater. The investigation is undertaken by newly promoted police officer Jude Simon, who proceeds by questioning three women in Crater’s life: his wife, his mistress, and his maid (who also happens to be Simon’s wife). The mystery winds its way through speakeasies and involves the most notorious gangsters of the day.

 

Of course, these are only three recently written historical fiction novels, set in three eras, and in three different geographic settings. There is sure to be a great work of historical fiction set in whatever time period or in whatever place interests you.

New Pittsburgh Book

A great new book featuring the people and places of Pittsburgh has recently been published, and you can now find it at Sewickley Public Library.

Click the title to find the book in our online catalog, from which you may place a hold.

Pittsburgh PraysPITTSBURGH PRAYS: THIRTY-SIX HOUSES OF WORSHIP, by Abby Mendelson, with Tim Fabian and Brian Cohen.

A summary from the library catalog: With stirring narrative and beautiful photography, Pittsburgh Prays takes us on a journey to the massive cathedrals and private chapels, synagogues, mosques and temples of Greater Pittsburgh.The book highlights not only sacred places, and piety, but also the love that created and maintains these houses of worships of all faiths, foci of communities and neighborhoods. More than bricks and mortar, each building represents the lexicon of Pittsburgh history – and generations dedicated to the greater good.

Also, read this review by Marylynne Pitz in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to learn more about Pittsburgh Prays: Thirty-Six Houses of Worship.

Fascinating New Nonfiction for Spring

We Will SurviveWE WILL SURVIVE: TRUE STORIES OF ENCOURAGEMENT, INSPIRATION, AND THE POWER OF SONG, by Gloria Gaynor and Sue Carswell

Remarkable stories reveal that “I Will Survive” has reached people from all walks of life and touched their lives in thousands of unique ways. From individuals triumphing over illness to those suffering from the painful loss of a loved one to others piecing their lives together after bearing witness to national tragedy, “I Will Survive” has become an emotional anthem for them and for millions of Gloria Gaynor’s adoring fans around the world. In We Will Survive, Gloria shares forty of these inspirational, true stories about survivors of all kinds – individuals who have found comfort, hope, and courage through the power of this one song.

For the Benefit of Those Who SeeFOR THE BENEFIT OF THOSE WHO SEE: DISPATCHES FROM THE WORLD OF THE BLIND, by Rosemary Mahoney

In the tradition of Oliver Sacks’s The Island of the Colorblind , Rosemary Mahoney tells the story of Braille Without Borders, the first school for the blind in Tibet, and of Sabriye Tenberken, the remarkable blind woman who founded the school. Fascinated and impressed by what she learned from the blind children of Tibet, Mahoney was moved to investigate further the cultural history of blindness. As part of her research, she spent three months teaching at Tenberken’s international training center for blind adults in Kerala, India, an experience that reveals both the shocking oppression endured by the world’s blind, as well as their great resilience, integrity, ingenuity, and strength.

DanubiaDANUBIA: A PERSONAL HISTORY OF HABSBURG EUROPE, by Simon Winder

For centuries much of Europe was in the hands of the very peculiar Habsburg family. An unstable mixture of wizards, obsessives, melancholics, bores, musicians and warriors, they saw off-through luck, guile and sheer mulishness-any number of rivals, until finally packing up in 1918. From their principal lairs along the Danube they ruled most of Central Europe and Germany and interfered everywhere-indeed the history of Europe hardly makes sense without them. Danubia, Simon Winder’s hilarious new book, plunges the reader into a maelstrom of alchemy, skeletons, jewels, bear-moats, unfortunate marriages and a guinea-pig village. Full of music, piracy, religion and fighting, it is the history of a strange dynasty, and the people they ruled, who spoke many different languages, lived in a vast range of landscapes, believed in rival gods and often showed a marked ingratitude towards their oddball ruler in Vienna.

TrainTRAIN: RIDING THE RAILS THAT CREATED THE MODERN WORLD – FROM THE TRANS-SIBERIAN TO THE SOUTHWEST CHIEF, by Tom Zoellner

Tom Zoellner loves trains with a ferocious passion and chronicles the innovation and sociological impact of the railway technology that changed the world, and could very well change it again. From the frigid trans-Siberian railroad to the antiquated Indian Railways to the futuristic MagLev trains, Zoellner offers a stirring story of man’s relationship with trains. Zoellner examines both the mechanics of the rails and their engines and how they helped societies evolve. Zoellner also considers America’s culture of ambivalence to mass transit, using the perpetually stalled line between Los Angeles and San Francisco as a case study in bureaucracy and public indifference. Train presents both an entertaining history of railway travel around the world while offering a serious and impassioned case for the future of train travel

The Monkey's VoyageTHE MONKEY’S VOYAGE: HOW IMPROBABLE JOURNEYS SHAPED THE HISTORY OF LIFE, by Alan de Quieroz

In The Monkey’s Voyage, biologist Alan de Queiroz describes the radical new view of how fragmented distributions came into being: frogs and mammals rode on rafts and icebergs, tiny spiders drifted on storm winds, and plant seeds were carried in the plumage of sea-going birds to create the map of life we see today. In other words, these organisms were not simply constrained by continental fate; they were the makers of their own geographic destiny. And as de Queiroz shows, the effects of oceanic dispersal have been crucial in generating the diversity of life on Earth, from monkeys and guinea pigs in South America to beech trees and kiwi birds in New Zealand. By toppling the idea that the slow process of continental drift is the main force behind the odd distributions of organisms, this theory highlights the dynamic and unpredictable nature of the history of life.

My Life in MiddlemarchMY LIFE IN MIDDLEMARCH, by Rebecca Mead

Rebecca Mead was a young woman in an English coastal town when she first read George Eliot’s Middlemarch, regarded by many as the greatest English novel. After gaining admission to Oxford, and moving to the United States to become a journalist, through several love affairs, then marriage and family, Mead read and reread Middlemarch. The novel offered Mead something that modern life and literature did not. In this wise and revealing work of biography, reporting, and memoir, Rebecca Mead leads us into the life that the book made for her, as well as the many lives the novel has led since it was written. Employing a structure that deftly mirrors that of the novel, My Life in Middlemarch takes the themes of Eliot’s masterpiece-the complexity of love, the meaning of marriage, the foundations of morality, and the drama of aspiration and failure-and brings them into our world.

Me, Myself, and WhyME, MYSELF, AND WHY: SEARCHING FOR THE SCIENCE OF SELF, by Jennifer Ouellette

As diverse as people appear to be, all of our genes and brains are nearly identical. In Me, Myself, and Why, Jennifer Ouellette dives into the minuscule ranges of variation to understand just what sets us apart. She draws on cutting-edge research in genetics, neuroscience, and psychology-enlivened as always with her signature sense of humor-to explore the mysteries of human identity and behavior. Readers follow her own surprising journey of self-discovery as she has her genome sequenced, her brain mapped, her personality typed, and even samples a popular hallucinogen. Bringing together everything from Mendel’s famous pea plant experiments and mutations in the X-Men to our taste for cilantro and our relationships with virtual avatars, Ouellette takes us on an endlessly thrilling and illuminating trip into the science of ourselves.

To find any of the above titles in the online library catalog, click the titles. From there, you may also place a hold for pickup.

New Mysteries in March

Take a look at these new mysteries, of all varieties, just arrived at Sewickley Public Library. Remember to click the titles of any book in this post to see them in our online catalog, where you may place a hold.

 

Death Comes to the VillageDEATH COMES TO THE VILLAGE, by Catherine Lloyd

Major Robert Kurland has returned to the quiet vistas of his village home to recuperate from the horrors of Waterloo. However injured his body may be, his mind is as active as ever. Too active, perhaps. When he glimpses a shadowy figure from his bedroom window struggling with a heavy load, the tranquil façade of the village begins to loom sinister. Unable to forget the incident, Robert confides in his childhood friend, Miss Lucy Harrington. As the dutiful daughter of the widowed rector, following up on the major’s suspicions offers a welcome diversion-but soon presents real danger…

Death Comes to the Village is the first in Catherine Lloyd’s “Kurland St. Mary Mysteries.” Be one of the first to get swept up into a new mystery series!

THAT OLD BLACK MAGIC, by Mary Jane Behrends Clark

Aspiring actress and wedding-cake decorator Piper Donovan has barely arrived in New Orleans to perfect her pastry skills at the renowned French Quarter bakery Boulangerie Bertrand when a ghastly murder rocks the magical city. Though Piper has a full plate decorating cakes for upcoming wedding celebrations, she’s also landed an exciting but unnerving role in a movie being shot in the Big Easy. When the murderer strikes again, leaving macabre clues, she thinks she can unmask the killer. But Piper will have to conjure up some old black magic of her own if she hopes to live long enough to reveal the truth.

That Old Black Magic is the fourth in Clark’s “Wedding Cake Mysteries.” If this sounds interesting and you haven’t read the first three, check out To Have and To Kill.

Rosemary and CrimeROSEMARY AND CRIME, by Gail Oust

Piper Prescott, a transplanted Yankee living in the South, has got her sass back. Recently divorced, Piper decides to pursue a dream she’s secretly harbored: owning her own business, Spice it Up!, a spice shop in her adopted hometown, Brandywine Creek, Georgia. But Piper’s grand opening goes awry when the local chef who’s agreed to do a cooking demo is found stabbed. Not only did Piper find the body, she handled the murder weapon and doesn’t have a witness to her alibi, making the case look like a slam dunk to brand new police Chief Wyatt McBride. Desperate to uncover the truth-and prove her innocence-Piper enlists the help of her outspoken BFF Reba Mae Johnson to help track down the real culprit.

Rosemary and Crime is also the first in a new mystery series by Gail Oust.

NANTUCKET SAWBUCK, by Steven Axelrod

When Nantucket homeowner Preston Lomax is killed in his McMansion, everyone on the island could be a suspect. Chief of Police Henry Kennis, a newcomer from California, finds himself investigating with help from the State Police. Together they solve the case–or so it appears.

The Blood PromiseTHE BLOOD PROMISE, by Mark Pryor

In post-Revolution Paris, an old man signs a letter in blood, then hides it in a secret compartment in a sailor’s chest. A messenger arrives to transport the chest and its hidden contents, but then the plague strikes and an untimely death changes history. Two hundred years later, Hugo Marston is safeguarding an unpredictable but popular senator who is in Paris negotiating a France/U.S. dispute. The talks, held at a country chateau, collapse when the senator accuses someone of breaking into his room. Theft becomes the least of Hugo’s concerns when someone discovers a sailor’s chest and the secrets hidden within, and decides that the power and money they promise are worth killing for. But when the darkness of history is unleashed, even the most ruthless and cunning are powerless to control it.

This is Mark Pryor’s third Hugo Marston mystery. If you like this description but want to start from the beginning, check out The Bookseller.

LION PLAYS ROUGH: A LEO MAXWELL MYSTERY, by Lachlan Smith

The Maxwell brothers are living together in Oakland while Leo, chafing in his role as junior attorney in his former sister-in-law’s small criminal defense firm, is on the lookout for the big case that will make his reputation. He thinks he’s found that when a mysterious woman nearly runs him down, then appears at his office to hire him to defend her brother on a murder charge. One problem: Leo hasn’t actually met the client when he sets out to investigate what seems like a hot tip on a burgeoning scandal in the Oakland Police Department. Leo takes a series of photographs that seem to blow the lid on deep-set corruption in the Department, however when he brings these pictures to the attention of the District Attorney’s office, he quickly learns that all is not as it seems, beginning with Leo’s client and the alluring woman who hired him.

This is Lachlan Smith’s followup to the beginning of his Leo Maxwell mystery series after his debut, Bear is Broken.

Hunting ShadowsHUNTING SHADOWS, by Charles Todd

Inspector Ian Rutledge is summoned to the quiet, isolated Fen country to solve a pair of seemingly unconnected murders before the killer strikes again in August 1920. Despite his experience, Inspector Ian Rutledge can find no connection between the two deaths. Then the case reminds Rutledge of a legendary assassin whispered about during the war. His own dark memories come back to haunt him as he hunts for the missing connection-and yet, when he finds it, it isn’t as simple as he’d expected.

Hunting Shadows is the 16th Ian Rutledge mystery, by Charles Todd. A list of all sixteen in order can be found here on Goodreads. If you want to start at the beginning, check out A Test of Wills.

Spotlight on Memoir: New Biographies

Recently the library has added several new memoirs to its biography collection. Telling a story from the author’s life, rather than the story the author’s life, memoir is a special category of autobiography. Memoir has become an increasingly popular literary nonfiction genre in recent years.

Below, take a look at three memoirs Sewickley Public Library has recently added to its shelves. You may click on the titles to see the books in our online catalog, from which you may place a hold.

Glitter and GlueGLITTER AND GLUE: A MEMOIR, by Kelly CorriganBooklist Review

When mother of two Corrigan struggles with cancer, she remembers a mother she never met more than 20 years earlier in 1992 in Australia. Back then, seeking money to enhance the next leg of her round-the-world travels, Corrigan became the nanny for a widower, John, whose family five-year-old Martin and seven-year-old Milly as well as a garage-living stepson and an in-law-apartment-living father-in-law had just lost their matriarch to cancer. Though it’s a true story, Corrigan has changed the names and some of the details to disguise identities. Here, the memories of her work as companion, surrogate mom, and onetime lover to various family members are filtered through Corrigan’s experiences, good and bad, of herself as mother and herself as daughter (her mom’s admonitions and pronouncements, served up in italics, support the young nanny as well as the text, then and now). The flavor of what a youthful, journal-writing Corrigan probably once hoped this book would be a spectacle of travel and awesome experience comes through in the writing but doesn’t disturb this touching, hard-won paean to mothering and parenting, living and losing.–Kinney, Eloise Copyright 2010 Booklist

This book is also available in Adobe EPUB eBook format via OverDrive.

Flyover LivesFLYOVER LIVES: A MEMOIR, by Diane JohnsonBooklist Review

The author of shrewd and scintillating novels about Americans abroad, Johnson (L’Affaire, 2003; Lulu in Marrakech, 2008) grew up in Moline, Illinois, A pleasant place, surrounded by cornfields, I had always longed to get out of. And so she did, as she crisply and wittily recounts in this stealthily far-reaching family history. Johnson’s personal story gains resonance in harmony with a remarkable set of memoirs written by her ­great-­great-great grandmother, Anne, born in 1779, and Anne’s daughter, Catharine, a teacher who, after a tortuous nine-year engagement, married a doctor only to endure his depression and long absences and the deaths of all but one of her nine children. Johnson perceives that her skilled and strong foremothers lived daunting yet satisfyingly useful lives. Adeptly structured, incisive, funny, and charming, Johnson’s look back delves into deep questions of history and inheritance, from the impact of America’s many wars on the Midwest to the transforming changes in modern women’s lives to her own adventures as a novelist and screenwriter raising a large, blended family, living overseas, and keenly observing cultural differences, personal quirks, and timeless commonalities.–Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist

The Answer to the Riddle is MeTHE ANSWER TO THE RIDDLE IS ME: A MEMOIR OF AMNESIA, by David MacLean - Booklist Review

While studying in India on a Fulbright scholarship in 2002, Ohio native MacLean abruptly lost consciousness and came to his senses in a Hyderabad train station minus any memories of his name or reasons for being there. Luckily, a kindly station attendant took pity on the presumably drug-addled foreigner and found him refuge in a well-run mental hospital where he hallucinated his way back to reality as friends and parents were contacted. So begins this riveting, sad, and funny memoir from PEN literary award-winner MacLean, expanded from an essay featured on the radio show, This American Life. Contrary to the station agent’s assumption, however, MacLean’s amnesia was triggered by an allergic reaction to Lariam, a common antimalaria agent that receives a scathing critique here. In addition to short-circuiting his memories, the drug’s aftermath forced MacLean to get reacquainted with his parents, a girlfriend, and his rationale for coming to India in the first place. His work is both a sharply written autobiography and an insightful meditation on how much our memories define our identities.–Hays, Carl Copyright 2010 Booklist

For more memoir suggestions, please visit the Reference Desk at Sewickley Public Library, where a librarian can help you to choose a title of interest.

March Staff Pick: Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Our March Staff Pick is from Pat, on the first anniversary of it’s publication in March 2013, after nearly 50 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List (including time spent in the number one spot): Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Click the title to read more about the book and see reviews in our library catalog.

This book received a *Starred Review* from Booklist and was called, “the new manifesto for women in the workplace,” by Oprah Winfrey.

Here is what Pat has to say about the book, and why she liked it:Lean In

The chief operating officer of Facebook wisely and clearly explains the inequalities women face in the workforce and how she has paved her way. This book reads and rings true, especially for young women in all leadership positions. Sandberg writes compellingly and includes a wonderful family background that guided her throughout and taught her well. Those who have made gains for women and others need to understand that these huge strides have made the world a better place for everyone.

Pat also said that she thought Lean In would be eye-opening for men as well as women, even especially for men.

Lean In is also available at Sewickley Public Library as a Book on CD; or through OverDrive as a eBook in both Kindle Book and Adobe EPUB eBook formats, and as an eAudiobook in both mp3 and WMA formats.

Movies Recently Added for March 2014

Take a look at a selection of movies Sewickley Public Library has recently added to its collection. Click the titles to view the item in the library catalog, where you may submit a request for pickup.

 

Fiction Films

 

Don JonDON JON – A New Jersey guy dedicated to his family, friends, and church, develops unrealistic expectations from watching porn and works to find happiness and intimacy with his potential true love. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, and Julianne Moore.

 

ELYSIUM – In the year 2154, the very wealthy live on a man-made space station while the rest of the population resides on a ruined Earth. A man takes on a mission that could bring equality to the polarized worlds. Starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. Also available as a Blu-Ray.

ENOUGH SAID – A divorced woman who decides to pursue the man she’s interested in learns he’s her new friend’s ex-husband. Starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, and Catherine Keener.

FRUITVALE STATION – The purportedly true story of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008. Starring Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, and Octavia Spencer.

In A World...IN A WORLD… – An underachieving voice coach finds herself competing in the movie trailer voice-over profession against her arrogant father and his protégé. Starring Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, and Michaela Watkins.

 

INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED – A man who has made a new life for himself and the daughter left on his doorstep 6 years ago finds his family threatened when the birth mother resurfaces. Starring Eugenio Derbez, Karla Souza, and Jessica Lindsey. In Spanish with English subtitles.

 

RUNNER RUNNER – When a poor college student who cracks an online poker game goes bust, he arranges a face-to-face with the man he thinks cheated him, a sly offshore entrepreneur. Starring Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake, and Gemma Arterton. Also available as a Blu-Ray.

 

RUSH – The merciless 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Starring Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, and Olivia Wilde. Also available as a Blu-Ray.

 

SHORT TERM 12 - A 20-something supervising staff member of a residential treatment facility navigates the troubled waters of that world alongside her co-worker and longtime boyfriend. Starring Brie Larson, Frantz, Turner, and John Gallagher Jr.

 

Documentary Films

 

Good Ol FredaGOOD OL’ FREDA – A documentary in which Freda Kelly looks back at her career as lifelong secretary for The Beatles. Featuring Freda Kelly, Tony Barrow, and the Beatles (archive footage).

 

TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM – Backup singers live in a world that lies just beyond the spotlight. Their voices bring harmony to the biggest bands in popular music, but we’ve had no idea who these singers are or what lives they lead, until now. Featuring Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, and Lisa Fischer.

 

All synopses from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com).

Notable New Fiction for Late Winter

While we wait for the snow to stop falling, the temperatures to rise and the sun to come out, what better way is there to beat the late winter blues than losing yourself in a great new book? Here are ten that have recently arrived on the shelves at Sewickley Public Library, of all sorts and genres:

 

No Place for a DameNO PLACE FOR A DAME by Connie Brockway – Booklist *Starred Review*

Avery Quinn is counting on the fact that a gentleman always honors his debts, and Giles Dalton, the Marquess of Strand, is definitely in Avery’s debt. If it wasn’t for Avery’s flair for drama, Giles would find himself married to the vain, venal, and very annoying Sophie North. Now all Giles has to do to settle his debt is to help Avery present her findings on the comet she discovered to the Royal Astronomical Society. There is just one small problem: the misogynistic idiots at the Royal Astronomical Society refuse to accept any scientific work from a woman. Of course, if Avery were to disguise herself as a young man and Giles were to then present Avery to the society as his new protege, there wouldn’t be any problems. At least that is Avery’s plan. Expertly threaded with danger and desire, imbued with simmering sensuality, and richly seasoned with wicked wit, No Place for a Dame in which Giles claims his place as hero after appearing in Brockway’s Promise Me Heaven (2013) and All Through the Night (2013), both available in new editions is top-drawer historical romance from an author who never disappoints.–Charles, John Copyright 2010 Booklist

 

The Silence of the WaveTHE SILENCE OF THE WAVE by Gianrico Carofiglio – Publisher’s Weekly Review

A desperate search for human connection is at the heart of this moving novel from Carofiglio (The Past Is a Foreign Country). Roberto Marias, who infiltrated major drug cartels during his time as an undercover Italian cop, is on leave after coming close to blowing his own head off. His calendar has only two fixed points, his twice-a-week therapy appointments. Roberto, who drifts through life in a haze with minimal interactions with others, sometimes finds that “remembering and thinking are not beneficial activities” for him. A chance encounter with Emma, an attractive woman he recognizes from a TV commercial, may offer a chance of relief from his malaise. Some chapters related from the perspective of someone named Giacomo, who’s entranced by a classmate named Ginevra, add suspense, as the relationship of this subplot to the main one doesn’t become clear until the end. The author subtly and simply conveys the backstory to Roberto’s suicidal ideation. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

S.S. by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

One book. Two readers. A world of mystery, menace, and desire. A young woman picks up a book left behind by a stranger. Inside it are his margin notes, which reveal a reader entranced by the story and by its mysterious author. She responds with notes of her own, leaving the book for the stranger, and so begins an unlikely conversation that plunges them both into the unknown. The book: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer named V.M. Straka, in which a man with no past is shanghaied onto a strange ship with a monstrous crew and launched onto a disorienting and perilous journey. The writer: Straka, the incendiary and secretive subject of one of the world’s greatest mysteries, a revolutionary about whom the world knows nothing apart from the words he wrote and the rumors that swirl around him. The readers: Jennifer and Eric, a college senior and a disgraced grad student, both facing crucial decisions about who they are, who they might become, and how much they’re willing to trust another person with their passions, hurts, and fears. S., conceived by filmmaker J. J. Abrams and written by award-winning novelist Doug Dorst, is the chronicle of two readers finding each other in the margins of a book and enmeshing themselves in a deadly struggle between forces they don’t understand, and it is also Abrams and Dorst’s love letter to the written word.

 

A Dangerous DeceitA DANGEROUS DECEIT by Marjorie Eccles – Booklist Review

The sleepy village of Folbury is upset by not one but two recent deaths. Respected local Osbert Rees-Talbot, a distinguished veteran of the Boer War, drowns in his bath, and the body of an unidentified man is found buried on the edge of the estate of wealthy landowner Lord Scroope. The former seems to be a tragic accident, while the latter is clearly murder, but with no clues or suspects and nothing to identify the victim except a South African coin in his pocket. Then a third death occurs, that of local businessman Arthur Aston, who’s found suffocated in a sandpit. Three unique cases with nothing to connect them, or is there? Ambitious local copper Joe Gilmour is determined to find out. His investigation leads him back in time to South Africa’s Boer War. Good period ambiance, a rich cast of characters, and numerous plot twists make this mixture of period drama and police procedural a gripping and satisfying read.–Melton, Emily Copyright 2010 Booklist

 

The Invisible CodeTHE INVISIBLE CODE by Christopher Fowler – Publisher’s Weekly Review

London’s perpetually-in-jeopardy Peculiar Crimes Unit gets a reprieve in Fowler’s excellent 10th mystery featuring senior detectives Arthur Bryant and John May (after 2012′s The Memory of Blood). Oskar Kasavian, the Home Office security supervisor who oversees the PCU, hires Bryant and May unofficially to deal with a personal problem. His much-younger wife, Sabira, has begun acting strangely, and with Kasavian due to take the helm of a major European antiterror initiative, it’s vital that any scandal be avoided. When Sabira insists that devils are out to get her, the two sleuths take her fears seriously. They look into a possible tie to the death of Amy O’Connor, who dropped dead in a church from unknown causes shortly after two children identified her as a witch and plotted to kill her. In the light of the challenges that Fowler has given his heroes in prior books, it’s particularly impressive that he manages to surpass himself once again. Agent: Howard Morhaim, Howard Morhaim Literary Agency. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

If Christopher Fowler’s Bryant & May series is new to you, check out Full Dark House, the first in the series.

 

The Case of the Love CommandosTHE CASE OF THE LOVE COMMANDOS: FROM THE FILES OF VISH PURI, INDIA’S MOST PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR by Tarquin Hall – Booklist *Starred Review*

Vish Puri of Delhi, head of Most Private Investigators, Ltd., is regarded by many (and himself) as the best private eye in India. Puri’s closed cases for the month of June include delivering an enormous ransom and recovering a pampered pug from its kidnappers, as well as helping a celebrity chef with a hacked computer. The chef responds by treating Puri to a spirit-transforming plate of papri chaat and tamarind chutney. Puri’s love of food and Hall’s descriptions of the dishes he enjoys is one of the delights of this series. From pampered pugs to hacked computers, Puri is plunged into a much more serious investigation at the behest of one of his operatives, a member of a real group called the Love Commandos, dedicated to helping mixed-caste couples. The Love Commandos have engineered the rescue of a young woman of the high-caste Thakur family from an arranged marriage. The young woman wants to marry an untouchable Dalit boy. The young man goes missing. Puri and his operatives infiltrate the Dalit boy’s home in a tiny Indian village, so traditional that schoolchildren automatically arrange themselves according to caste. As in any Puri novel, a great deal of humor about Puri’s family life is mixed with skillful plotting and realistic descriptions of contemporary India’s overflowing street life. Hall, a British journalist who has lived in South Asia for more than a decade, is also the author of the memoir Salaam Brick Lane.–Fletcher, Connie Copyright 2010 Booklist

If Tarquin Hall’s Vish Puri series is new to you, check out The Case of the Missing Servant, the first of the detective’s cases.

 

Sea of HooksSEA OF HOOKS by Lindsay Hill – Booklist Review

Christopher Westall was an awkward child with parents who never understood him and never took the time to try. Marked by odd hobbies and strange mannerisms, he rarely made friends, and though he did find some sympathetic allies to assist along the way, all too often his childhood was plagued by tragedies that shaped him in unpredictable ways. Now a young man, he is traveling to Bhutan in the wake of his mother’s suicide, seeking some kind of solace or new beginning. A fresh take on the coming-of-age theme, this maze of a story is told as a collection of irregularly interspersed thoughts, flashbacks, and current narratives, most no more than a paragraph long. The abrupt changes in time and place plus the briefness of each installment might make it hard for readers to feel invested in the story or its characters, but the method mirrors Christopher’s confused state of mind and perfectly sets the pace for a few surprising discoveries. Discerning readers in search of a uniquely woven yarn will especially appreciate first novelist Hill’s unusual style.–Ophoff, Cortney Copyright 2010 Booklist

 

Perfect A NovelPERFECT: A NOVEL by Rachel Joyce – Publisher’s Weekly Review

An 11-year-old boy makes an error that brings tragedy to several lives, including his own, in Joyce’s intriguing and suspenseful novel. One summer day in a small English village in 1972, Byron Hemmings’s mother, Diana, is driving him and his younger sister to school when their Jaguar hits a little girl on a red bicycle. Diana drives on, unaware, with only Byron having seen the accident. Byron doesn’t know whether or not the girl was killed, however, and concocts a plan called “Operation Perfect” to shield his mother from what happened. Previously, she has always presented the picture of domestic perfection in trying to please her martinet banker husband, Seymour, and overcome her lower-class origins. After Byron decides to tell her the truth about the accident, she feverishly attempts to make amends by befriending the injured girl’s mother, but her “perfect” facade begins to splinter. Joyce sometimes strains credibility in describing Diana’s psychological deterioration, but the novel’s fast pacing keeps things tense. Meanwhile, in alternate chapters, Jim, a psychologically fragile man in his 50s, endures a menial cafe job. Joyce, showing the same talent for adroit plot development seen in the bestselling The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, brings both narrative strands together in a shocking, redemptive (albeit weepily sentimental) denouement. The novel is already a bestseller in England. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

 

The Republic of ThievesTHE REPUBLIC OF THIEVES by Scott Lynch – Booklist *Starred Review*

Announced as early as 2008, the long, long, long-awaited sequel to The Lies of Locke Lamora (2006) and Red Seas Under Red Skies (2007) finally arrives. The story picks up almost immediately after the end of Red Seas. Locke Lamora, professional thief and con artist, has been poisoned (He was being unknit from the inside; his veins and sinews were coming apart). He has only a handful of days left, but rescue from certain death comes from a most unexpected source: the Bondsmagi, the powerful sorcerers who haven’t exactly been Locke’s best friends until now. After ridding his body of the poison, they, of all things, offer him a job. They want him to help rig a local election, which doesn’t sound all that tricky, except that someone else is working the other side of the street, and she’s at least as clever and ruthless as Locke: Sabetha Belacoros, Locke’s long-lost love. This rousing adventure expands on themes introduced in the first two books and tells the full history of Locke and Sabetha, whose relationship was tantalizingly sketchy in the first installment. The Bondsmagi, too, are shown here in more detail than ever before, and Lynch has some serious surprises in store for fans of the first two books. It might have taken Lynch a lot longer to publish the book than fans wanted, but it was definitely worth the wait. A landmark publishing event in the science fiction world.–Pitt, David Copyright 2010 Booklist

 

The Prodigal A Ragamuffin StoryTHE PRODIGAL: A RAGAMUFFIN STORY by Brennan Manning and Greg Garrett – Booklist Review

The Prodigal is the much anticipated novel by the late best-selling spiritual writer Manning (The Ragamuffin Gospel, 2000) and theologian and author Garrett. Manning’s signature honesty, wit, and compassion are evident in this redemptive tale, a modern take on the prodigal son. Jack Chisolm knows what it’s like to live the good life. He’s one of America’s best-known pastors and has a beautiful family, wealth, and the conviction that God is on his side. After a fall from grace, however, Jack finds himself with nothing, dragged back to Texas by the father he hasn’t spoken to in a decade. As Jack gets back on his feet, he rediscovers what it means to live a life of faith. He also comes to recognize the power of a father’s love and the importance of community. Manning and Garrett do a wonderful job bringing to life the downfalls of a superficial form of contemporary Christianity, while dramatizing struggles readers can easily relate to. This story of love found and grace extended will bring hope to everyone who reads it.–Richard, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist

 

Click the title links to find these books in the catalog and request for pickup at Sewickley Public Library. All reviews from sources as noted.

February Staff Pick: Help for the Haunted by John Searles

This month’s staff pick is from Ing: Help for the Haunted, by John Searles. Booklist reviewer Joanne Wilkinson calls Searles’ third novel “[s]uperlative storytelling” in a starred review.

Help for the Haunted by John SearlesIng described the story, without giving too much away…

Sylvie has always known that her parents had unique jobs, jobs that scared others and even scared her from time to time. Her parents were help to haunted souls, modern day exorcists, if you will. But was the danger in their family really of a supernatural nature? Or was something even more sinister going on?

When asked what appealed to her about the book, and why you should check it out, Ing said,

This is a fascinating story and has a very sympathetic narrator in Sylvie. If you enjoy supernatural stories, or even if you don’t, this book is written well and keeps you guessing all the way through.

Help for the Haunted has won a 2014 Alex Award, which is given each year by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association, to “ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.” Click the link above to see other 2014 Alex Award Winners.

In addition to the print copy of Help for the Haunted that can be found, and requested, through the library catalog, this title is also available as an OverDrive eBook.

 

2014 Oscar Nominees

With less than one month left until the Academy Awards on March 2, it’s time to get those requests in for Best Picture-nominated films. Click the titles that are available already in the library to find them in the library catalog and request. For those not available yet, be sure to check back to find them at the library when they are released on DVD!

American HustleAMERICAN HUSTLE – A con man, Irving Rosenfeld, along with his seductive British partner, Sydney Prosser, is forced to work for a wild FBI agent, Richie DiMaso. DiMaso pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia.

 

Captain PhillipsCAPTAIN PHILLIPS – The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years.

 

Dallas Buyers ClubDALLAS BUYERS CLUB – In 1985 Dallas, electrician and hustler Ron Woodroof works around the system to help AIDS patients get the medication they need after he is himself diagnosed with the disease.

 

GravityGRAVITY – A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space.

 

HerHER – A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.

 

NebraskaNEBRASKA – An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million-dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize.

 

PhilomenaPHILOMENA – A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman’s search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.

 

12 Years A Slave12 YEARS A SLAVE – In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.

 

The Wolf of Wall StreetTHE WOLF OF WALL STREET – Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.

 

All film summaries are from the Internet Movie Database, IMDb.com.