Readers Guide


By Julie Forkner

January 1, 2018
December 25, 2017
December 18, 2017
December 11, 2017

January 1, 2018 

On par with Agatha Christie, P. D. James, and Ruth Rendell, Val McDermid has long been known for her tightly woven, complex plots and even more complicated characters. A native of Scotland, McDemid was the crime reporter for the Manchester Evening News for many years before she turned to writing fiction. In her newest novel, Insidious Intent (M), someone is preying on single women by crashing weddings and seducing them away only to leave their bodies to be a gruesome discovery for the police. Set in the north of England, Insidious Intent will appeal to fans of the Netflix series Happy Valley or Broadchurch.

Jack Barsky lived in the United States as a Russian spy States for two decades before the FBI caught him. East German by birth, Barsky writes that as a young man he believed in the Communist cause and willingly agreed to spy for the then-U.S.S.R. When he was ordered to return home after ten years, Barsky decided he wanted to stay in the U. S. and began his life as a double agent. He tells his story in Deep Undercover: My Secret Life and Tangled Allegiances as A KGB Spy in America (327.124.) 

In the middle of the North Sea between the UK and Denmark, fourteen people are trapped on the island of Skek. Once a fishing settlement, and then a military outpost, and then a scientific base, Skek is now home to Hazelton Adventure Experiences and their corporate team-building exercises. Extreme sports are called extreme for a reason, and people dying is not unheard of but when the bodies start piling up the fourteen people stranded on the island have to judge who to trust and who not to trust in One of Us Will Be Dead by Morning (F) by David Moody, author of the Hater trilogy. 

Dr. Dale E. Bredesen earned his medical degree from Duke University and served as Chief Resident in Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco. With his extensive background in neurology, Dr. Bredeson knew that the current medical research was failing patients with Alzheimer’s disease. In his book The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline (616.831) he explains that Alzheimer’s is not a single condition, but rather several conditions. Although these many conditions have different symptoms and appear at different stages of life, they are all influenced by metabolic imbalances. Dr. Bredesen explains the steps to take to protect yourself and even reverse cognitive decline. 

Jon Land is the author of over forty suspense, thriller, and horror novels, and has contributed to series by Lee Child, Lisa Scottoline, and Jeffrey Deaver. In Dark Light Dawn (F), Navy Seal Max Younger has an uncanny ability to survive any combat situation. As sinister and apocalyptic events begin happening across the world in an ever-increasing rate, Younger is called on to help stop the spread of violence. At the same time, infectious disease specialist, Victoria Tanoury, is working to contain the spread of a lethal epidemic. As the two work, their respective battles blend into one fight against the rising darkness.  


Although empathy is a favorable trait that helps us understand life in another person’s shoes, psychologist Paul Bloom believes that misguided empathy is actually the unintentional cause of much of the world’s inequality. Bloom argues that honest but misplaced emotions distort our judgement and leads to the opposite of the desired effect. In Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion (152.410), Bloom argues that learning to limit our impulse toward empathy can lead to a more compassionate world.

Also at the library:
     Death at Nuremberg (F) by W. E. B. Griffin
     Year One (F) by Nora Roberts
     The It Girls (F) by Karen Harper
     The Unknown Kerouac: Rare, Unpublished, and Newly Translated Writings (818.000) by Jack  Kerouac
     Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans (973.523) by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger
     The Ethical Carnivore: My Year Killing to Eat (641.360) by Louise Gray

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December 25, 2017 

Arthur Vogel is a tech mogul who is worth more than a trillion dollars. He’s also 127 years old. Having poured his money into finding a cure for death with no success, Vogel transfers himself into the body of Gene, a newly created human designed to provide immortality for someone else. Will Vogel continue as he always has or will parts of Gene remain? Will the dichotomy result in a struggle between the two or will the newly-young, powerful mogul continue his desire for global domination? In Immortal Life: A Soon to be True Story (F) by Stanley Bing imagines what will happen next in our technology driven society. 

Known as the Father of the Nuclear Age, Enrico Fermi straddled the worlds of classical and quantum physics. Having led a team of scientists at the University of Chicago to create the world’s first nuclear chain reaction, Fermi was at the heart of the Manhattan Project, but he was also an unwilling member of the Italian Fascist Party. David N. Schwartz’s new biography of Fermi, The Last Man Who Knew Everything; The Life and Times of Enrico Fermi, Father of the Nuclear Age (530.092) examines not only Fermi’s life but a moment in history when the modern age was born.  

In a league with Herman Koch and Stephen King, South Korean writer Hye-Young Pyun’s intense new psychological thriller gets at the root of grief and secrecy. Having caused the car accident that killed his wife, Ohgi awakes from a coma, neglected by his caretaker, his mother-in-law. Grieving for her only child, Oghi’s mother-in-law spends her days undoing her daughter’s one realized life goal, the garden surrounding her house. Sensitive and intelligent, Oghi’s late wife was thwarted at every turn and her garden was her one solace in a complicated, painful marriage. As Oghi comes to terms with his actions and his relationship with his late wife, he also must grapple with the brutality of neglect, in all its forms, in The Hole (F).  

According to author David Browne, between the beginning of 1969 and the spring of the following year, 4,330 bombs exploded across the United States. The Summer of Love seemed to be over. At the same time, The Beatles were about to release Let it Be; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young finished Déjà vu; Simon and Garfunkel completed their masterpiece, Bridge Over Troubled Waters; and James Taylor put together a soon-to-be famous album, Sweet Baby James. Seeing the year 1970 as a crucial, pivotal yet under-documented year in American history, David Browne sets the history of the nation against the stories of the rock legends of the day in Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY and the Lost Story of 1970 (781.660). 

Fans of the English series Last Tango in Halifax might enjoy Elizabeth Berg’s new book, The Story of Arthur Truluv (F). In a wonderfully uplifting novel, Berg brings together an unlikely trio of friends, all struggling with loss and isolation. Arthur Moses is retired and widowed. He fills his time tending his garden and eating his lunch with his late wife in the cemetery. Maddy Harris, whose mother died just weeks after she was born and whose father is cold and distant, is unhappy at school and escapes to the same cemetery to get away from the chaos of high school. As Arthur and Maddy become fast friends, they are joined by Lucille, Arthur’s neighbor, and each one discovers a new potential for happiness. 

All parents want their children to be strong and brave enough to handle the challenges life will send their way, but Maude Julien’s parents took that desire to an extreme. Believing it was their responsibility to turn Maude into the ultimate survivor, Maude’s parents raised her in isolation and subjected her to endless drills designed to eliminate weakness. But Maude’s story truly begins with her mother, who was separated from her family at age six, by Maude’s father, for the purpose of giving him a child he could raise to be a superhuman, free from the contamination of the outside world. Maude eventually escaped to become a well-known psychotherapist and to write her stunning memoir,The Only Girl in the World (362.760.)  

Also at the Library:
Wired (F) by Julie Garwood
     Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe (F) by Melissa De La Cruz
     Wyoming Winter (F) by Diana Palmer
     The Crown: Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and the Making of a Young Queen (941.085) by Robert Lacey
     Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming (363.738) edited by
       Paul Hawken
     Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns that Put Donald Trump in the White House
by Donna Brazile

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December 18, 2017 

Holidays and special events bring families together, but more often than not families reconnect when someone receives a serious medical diagnosis. For Johhny McKinnon it is a potentially malignant brain tumor that spurs him to reconnect with his grown son, Corran, and new granddaughter. The last time Johnny saw Corran he suspected him of stealing a wedding ring to pawn in order to buy heroin, for Corran has been struggling with addiction for a long time. Laura Lee Smith’s new novel, The Ice House (F), catches the heartbreak and humor of a dysfunctional family with delicacy and grace.

2018 will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. To mark the occasion, Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s hardball, has written a biography of presidential candidate and third Kennedy son to be killed in public service. In this whole life story of Robert Kennedy, Matthews shows both his devoutly religious nature and his great ambition and explains the roots of Kennedy’s vision that a great country can also be a good one in Bobby Kennedy: A Raging Spirit (921.000).  

It’s rare that a first novel gets nominated for a major award, but Fiona Mozley’s Elmet (F) was longlisted for this year’s Man Booker award. Bringing legends of Yorkshire, England into contemporary terms, Mozley’s gothic tale is one of outsiders in a modern landscape. Cathy, Danny, and their father are building their house by hand on land that isn’t theirs and hunt game with a bow and arrow. Their father is a giant of a man determined to teach his children to face the darkness of the world head-on. When the Price family, their polar opposite, prove to also be their nemesis, a shared occult history sends both families spiraling into tragedy.  

Fans of the Netflix series The Crown will remember the episode when a deadly smog smothers London, bringing normal life to a halt in December of 1952. 12,000 people dies from the poisonous air, but in the murky darkness another killer was stalking victims. John Reginald Christie, known as The Beast of Rillington Place, carried out so many murders during the Great Smog of 1952 that bodies were buried in the garden, hidden under floorboards, and stacked in the walls. Kate Winkler Dawson tells the gruesome story and political intrigue of the year 1952 in Death in the Air: The True Story of the Great London Smog and the Strangling of a City (364.152.) 

In her novel, Three Daughters of Eve (F), Elif Shafak manages to fit in theology, feminism, terrorism, and 15 years worth of one woman’s life story in a slim, quickly paced story. As Peri makes her way through traffic to a dinner party, she is mugged just at the point when her frustrations come to a boil. Chasing her attacker down the street, she sees an old Polaroid fly from her purse. The picture is her last memento from her college years, and she cannot let it go. Arriving at her dinner party disheveled, the wealthy guests ignore her distress and what follows reflects real life so well that the author may well be clairvoyant. 

The art of photography started during the Civil War, when thousands of people were grieving for loved ones killed in battle. William Mumler capitalized on that grief by claiming to be able to take pictures of the spirits of the deceased alongside their living relatives. Peter Manseau captures the circuslike trial that brought Mumler down in The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography and the Man who Capture Lincoln’s Ghost (133.920.) 

Also at the Library:
     Past Perfect (F) by Danielle Steel
     End Game (F) by David Baldacci
     The People vs Alex Cross (M) by James Patterson
     We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy (973.932) by Ta-nehisi Coates
     Grown-Up Anger: The Connected Mysteries of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and the Calumet Massacre of
        1913 (782.421)
by Daniel Wolff
     True Flag: Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, and the Birth of American Empire (327.730) by Stephen Kinzer

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December 11, 2017 

Ada Lovelace was Lord Byron’s only legitimate child. Although her father was fiery, passionate, and literary, her mother was a mathematician, determined to save her daughter from the vagaries of her father’s lifestyle. Brought up with a rigorous grounding in science and math, Ada made her debut into London society with an undiscovered passion. The Enchantress of Numbers (F) by acclaimed author Jennifer Chiaverini is the dramatic tale of one of the world’s first computer programmers, her vast talents, and her passionate relationship with Charles Burbage.

Douglas R. Egerton is a Professor of History specializing in race relations in the early American South at Le Moyne University. His newest book, Thunder at the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments that Redeemed America (973.741), explains how, after the Emancipation Proclamation became official in 1863, the Boston Brahmins initiated what turned out to be one of the most serious experiments in American history. Recounting the beginnings and the history of the 54th Massachusetts Cavalry, made famous in the movie Glory, as well as the 55th  Massachusetts Infantry and the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry, Egerton shows the horror of warfare in the 1800s and helps to elucidate the role of both white officers and African American soldiers in the Civil War.  

David Ignatius is a spy novelist who creates an eerily familiar, but fictional, world. In his newest novel, The Quantum Spy (F), Ignatius imagines a world where the US and China are competing to build the world’s first quantum computer, and America’s top lab has been compromised by a suspected Chinese informant. With stakes as high as possible, the situation quickly gets complicated for Harris Chang, the Chinese-American CIA agent in charge of finding the spy and averting a global disaster. 

The CIA also plays a role in Jonathan Brown’s history of the Cuban Revolution, but this time the government agency is real instead of fictional. When Fidel Castro overthrew Fulgencio Batista in 1959, he promised that his takeover, which aimed to spread a socialist revolution outside of Cuba through armed insurrection, was the true Revolution. In Cuba’s Revolutionary World (972.910), Jonathan Brown explains just how prophetic Castro’s words were for Latin America and the wider world. 

Far away from Cuba, the French intelligence agency is looking for a spy to help destabilize North Korea and overthrow Kim Jong-un. Soon, Constance, a beautiful, bored, intelligent woman in a fading marriage, is kidnapped by the French bureaucracy and prepared for a mission in North Korea. Author Jean Echenoz takes his subject less than seriously, and Constance’s voyage into North Korea is an unpredictable journey full of unexpected twists, great sex, and pop music in Special Envoy (F). 

Harvard University’s Meghan O’Sullivan is the Jeane Kirkpatrick Professor of the Practice of International Affairs and the Director of the Geopolitics of Energy Project. Her book, Windfall: How the New Energy Abundance Upends Global Politics and Strengthens America’s Power (333.790), published in September explains the effects the success of renewable energy is having across the globe. Far from undermining America’s stance in global politics, O’Sullivan argues that the United States is in a more powerful position now even as Russian and Chinese worldviews are expanding, Europe is reaching new levels of cooperation, and the Middle East is undergoing historic energy reform. 

Also at the Library:
     Tom Clancy: Power and Empire (F) by Marc Cameron
     Mississippi Roll: a Wild Cards Novel (F) edited by George R. R. Martin
     Ironfoot (F) by Dave Duncan
     Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose (973.932) by Joe Biden
     No Time to Spare: Thinking About what Matters (814.000) by Ursula K. Le Guin
     The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner (355.021) by Daniel Ellsberg

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