Check out some of your library’s newest additions!
- “Manhattan Beach” by Jennifer Egan: Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men. Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished. With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time.
- “Fresh Complaint” by Jeffrey Eugenides: Jeffrey Eugenides’s best-selling novels have shown him to be an astute observer of the crises of adolescence, self-discovery, family love, and what it means to be American in our times. The stories in Fresh Complaint explore equally rich and intriguing territory. Ranging from the bitingly reproductive antics of “Baster” to the dreamy, moving account of a young traveler’s search for enlightenment in “Air Mail,” this collection presents characters in the midst of personal and national emergencies. We meet a failed poet who, envious of other people’s wealth during the real-estate bubble, becomes an embezzler; a clavichordist whose dreams of art founder under the obligations of marriage and fatherhood; and, in “Fresh Complaint,” a high school student whose wish to escape the strictures of her immigrant family lead her to a drastic decision that upends the life of a middle-aged British physicist. Narratively compelling, beautifully written, and packed with a density of ideas despite their fluid grace, these stories chart the development and maturation of a major American writer.
- “Provenance” by Ann Leckie: A power-driven young woman has just once chance to secure the status she craves and regain priceless lost artifacts prized by her people. She must free their thief from a prison planet from which no one has ever returned. Ingray and her charge will return to her home world to find their planet in political turmoil, at the heart of an escalating interstellar conflict. Together, they must make a new plan to salvage Ingray’s future, her family, and her world, before they are lost to her for good.
- “Why Buddhism is True” by Robert Wright: From one of America’s greatest minds, a journey through psychology, philosophy, and lots of meditation to show how Buddhism holds the key to moral clarity and enduring happiness. Robert Wright famously explained in The Moral Animal how evolution shaped the human brain. The mind is designed to often delude us, he argued, about ourselves and about the world. And it is designed to make happiness hard to sustain. But if we know our minds are rigged for anxiety, depression, anger, and greed, what do we do? Wright locates the answer in Buddhism, which figured out thousands of years ago what scientists are only discovering now. Buddhism holds that human suffering is a result of not seeing the world clearly–and proposes that seeing the world more clearly, through meditation, will make us better, happier people. In Why Buddhism is True, Wright leads readers on a journey through psychology, philosophy, and a great many silent retreats to show how and why meditation can serve as the foundation for a spiritual life in a secular age. At once excitingly ambitious and wittily accessible, this is the first book to combine evolutionary psychology with cutting-edge neuroscience to defend the radical claims at the heart of Buddhist philosophy. With bracing honesty and fierce wisdom, it will persuade you not just that Buddhism is true–which is to say, a way out of our delusion–but that it can ultimately save us from ourselves, as individuals and as a species.
- “The Ninth Hour” by Alice McDermott: On a dim winter afternoon, a young Irish immigrant opens the gas taps in his Brooklyn tenement. He is determined to prove–to the subway bosses who have recently fired him, to his badgering, pregnant wife–“that the hours of his life belong to himself alone.” In the aftermath of the fire that follows, Sister St. Savior, an aging nun appears, unbidden, to direct the way forward for his widow and his unborn child. We begin deep inside Catholic Brooklyn, in the early part of the twentieth century. Decorum, superstition, and shame collude to erase the man’s brief existence. Yet his suicide, although never spoken of, reverberates through many lives and over the decades testing the limits and the demands of love and sacrifice, of forgiveness and forgetfulness, even through multiple generations. The characters we meet, from Sally, the unborn baby at the beginning of the novel, who becomes the center of the story to the nuns whose personalities we come to know and love to the neighborhood families with whose lives they are entwined, are all rendered with extraordinary sympathy and McDermott’s trademark lucidity and intelligence. Alice McDermott’s The Ninth Hour is a crowning achievement by one of the premiere writers at work in America today.
- “The Twelve-Mile Straight” by Eleanor Henderson: Cotton County, Georgia, 1930: in a house full of secrets, two babies-one light-skinned, the other dark-are born to Elma Jesup, a white sharecropper’s daughter. Accused of her rape, field hand Genus Jackson is lynched and dragged behind a truck down the Twelve-Mile Straight, the road to the nearby town. In the aftermath, the farm’s inhabitants are forced to contend with their complicity in a series of events that left a man dead and a family irrevocably fractured. Despite the prying eyes and curious whispers of the townspeople, Elma begins to raise her babies as best as she can, under the roof of her mercurial father, Juke, and with the help of Nan, the young black housekeeper who is as close to Elma as a sister. But soon it becomes clear that the ties that bind all of them together are more intricate than any could have ever imagined. As startling revelations mount, a web of lies begins to collapse around the family, destabilizing their precarious world and forcing all to reckon with the painful truth. Acclaimed author Eleanor Henderson has returned with a novel that combines the intimacy of a family drama with the staggering presence of a great Southern saga. Tackling themes of racialized violence, social division, and financial crisis, The Twelve-Mile Straight is a startlingly timely, emotionally resonant, and magnificent tour de force.
So, I just finished reading “Are You Sleeping” by Kathleen Barber as an e-book. There is something so subtle and nuanced about this book as it seamlessly slips between the past and the present. The twist in this thriller is also so under the radar that it will haunt you and make you question your own judgment long after you finish reading it. If you pick this one up, don’t expect a dose of optimism, but rather the harsh reality of mental illness and those it affects. Lies, murder, and darkness–what more could you want in a psychological thriller?
I won’t get into politics here, but have you ever wondered why government officials and financial institutions are rarely held accountable for their crimes? Then, The Chickens*** Club by Jesse Eisinger is for you. If you’re offended by the star symbols, I’m sorry. Anyway, it’s a wonderful new book that we have at the library by a Pulitzer Prize winner. He talks about James Comey and a wide cast of characters we’ve all been hearing about in the news. It’s a fascinating read discussing the financial crisis, as well as other large-scale scandals. If you would like to place a hold on this book, click here.
On the completely opposite side of the spectrum is Richard Kadrey’s The Kill Society. This book is like a cross between Mad Max and Cormac McCarthy with a lot of noir themes thrown in for good measure. This book is a thrill ride until the very last minute and I had a great time with it. It’s available from your library as an e-book.
Here are some mini-reviews of the best new books at your library:
- Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero: This is the story about the kids from Scooby-Doo all grown-up. While this sounds like a bit of a silly idea, it is well-executed with some dark undertones.
- The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota: This is a book that challenges its readers to step into the shoes of another–in this case, take a walk in the lives of Indian migrants in Britain.
- Defectors by Joseph Kanon: This is a wonderful thriller and spy novel that is set in the early 1950s during the Red Scare. It was so gripping that it only took me about a day to get through it.
- The Child by Fiona Barton: The author’s previous book, The Widow, centers around a cold case–this book does as well, only this time, it involves the murder of a newborn. There’s a huge twist at the end that will leave you thinking about this book for some time to come.
- The Force by Don Winslow: This quote from NPR was so wonderful that I have to use it. “An instant classic, an epic, a…Wagner opera with a full cast and buckets of blood and smack and Jameson whiskey.” If that doesn’t sound awesome to you, then I don’t what to tell you.
- Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong (e-book): A book about dementia that’s sweet (but not too sweet) and relatable.
- The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss (e-book): Goss is drawing from Robert Louis Stevenson, H. G. Wells, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Mary Shelley in this story of friendship and history. Rather than being derivative, it’s actually quite insightful.
- The Chalk Artist by Allegra Goodman: This book is a testament to the power of reading. Literature vs. video games–who will win?
- Theft by Finding by David Sedaris: For fans of David Sedaris, this is like a glimpse into his mind–an all-at-once shocking and amazing place.
- Silver Silence by Nalini Singh (e-book): If you like paranormal romance, then this book is for you. There are changelings, humans, and a race called Psy who ward off all emotions.
I just finished “Miles, the Autobiography” and I have to say I loved it. Miles Davis is a figure not unlike those in the media today. His book is full of judgments and outright dismissals of other artists. If you can get past the general ‘meanness’ of the biography, I think that fans of Miles Davis will enjoy his take on the world.
Additionally, his feelings on other musicians have also been recorded during a series of blindfold tests that forced Davis to figure out who was playing and then remark on what he had heard. In one particular test, he said of Eric Dolphy’s “Miss Ann” that “nobody else could sound that bad!”
If you’re interested in Miles Davis or any other famous figure, let a librarian know. We have a rather expansive biography section full of information about your faves!
After a week-long hiatus, we’re back! Here are some of the best new books at your library. This time, we’re focusing on e-books and e-audiobooks. If you’ve never used library e-books or e-audiobooks (and you’re interested in doing so), talk to a librarian today!
- Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession (e-book) by Alison Weir: I feel like I’ve researched everything there is to know about Anne Boleyn. This book was a breath of fresh air because it fictionalizes the drama of this era. Weir also writes non-fiction books about the English royals, so she knows her stuff.
- Black Mad Wheel (e-audiobook) by Josh Malerman: What I enjoyed the most about this book was Malerman’s prose. He’s very sparing in the use of his words, so in this way, they really pack a punch. This is a book by a musician–about musicians. A rock band is asked to investigate a strange sound in the Namib Desert of Africa during the early Cold War. What goes down during their mission isn’t quite clear at first, but I will tell you that the main character ends up in the hospital.
- The Heirs (e-book and e-audiobook) by Susan Rieger: A wealthy and powerful (and also dying) man is about to leave his five sons (and wife) without a father/husband. He may have also left a mistress along with other children. Read this for some high-brow drama.
- Spirit of the Horse: A Celebration in Fact and Fable (e-book) by William Shatner and Jeff Rovin: If you enjoy casually reading about horses, then this is the book for you. It’s clear that the author has a deep passion for the creatures while reading this book. Even though I think he could have used a better editor, it’s still fun to read the meandering thoughts of William Shatner.
- White Fur (e-book) by Jardine Libaire: People fall in love, make money and die in New York City in the 1980s. What’s not to love? Joking aside, this book was painful to read because it left nothing left unsaid. It’s beautiful and smart and I loved it.
I just finished a couple books and they were both awesome! The best part about these two books is your library owns them, so stop in and check them out or put them on hold today.
“A Face Like Glass” by Frances Hardinge: Everyone in Caverna is born with a blank canvas for a face and must be taught how to make expressions. Facesmiths are the professionals who provide the service of creating expressions for the people of Caverna. The problem with this service is that it costs money–the rich get to choose from an array of faces while those that don’t have financial resources get stuck with faces that have already been chosen for them such as expressions of subservience. This book is pure magic in both the craft of the writing, as well as the actual content.
“Bad Dreams and Other Stories” by Tessa Hadley: This short story collection gives readers complex characters and a sense of closure when each story is finished. I actually became attached to a lot of the characters here instead of forgetting them the moment I moved on to the next story. The connecting thread between these stories is self-reflection–each character goes through a deeply conflicting experience and must look inside themselves for the answers.
In order to highlight some of the best and newest additions to the Jacksonville Public Library’s collection, the blog will have a regular curation of mini book reviews. If you’re interested in any of these titles, stop in or give us a call!
- “I’d Die for You” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Anne Margaret Daniel: This is a new collection of Fitzgerald’s previously unpublished or uncollected short stories. Not every story is destined to become a new classic. However, each story gives readers insight into the famed author’s psyche while trying to produce new work.
- “Anything Is Possible” by Elizabeth Strout: As with other works by Strout, it’s hard to quite tell if this is a novel or a collection of short stories. Either way, each chapter or story is connected by common themes. Strout’s newest book is well-written and examines ideas like class (as in working-class etc.), insecurity, and forgiveness. Don’t miss out!
- “The Pearl Thief” by Elizabeth Wein: I am reviewing a novel for young adults because both adults and teens alike enjoy reading them. This book is published by the same author as Code Name Verity. However, you do not need to read the previously published novel to understand and enjoy this new one. It’s both a murder mystery and a coming-of-age story. The thing I loved most about this book was the main character–she’s witty and real.
- “House of Names” by Colm Toibin: This book is quite tragic… Characters are thrown into dungeons and the amount of violence that occurs is quite staggering. However, the violence isn’t gratuitous. With Toibin’s adept writing, the characters are alive with depth. This book doesn’t quite seem like Toibin’s other work, but it is a great book on its own. I was sitting on the edge of my seat as I turned every page.
- “The Radium Girls” by Kate Moore: This book is all about workers’ rights. The women Moore writes about died from the radium they were exposed to while working for dial-making factories. The women’s lives were painful and tragic, but their legacy has paved the way for the protection of workers today.
- “The American Spirit” by David McCullough: This collection of speeches is tied together by the theme of history. McCullough is synonymous with expert as he has won 2 Pulitzer Prizes and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his previous work. These speeches instill a much-needed hope at a time of unrest on both sides of the aisle.
- “Shattered” by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes: This book explores the ins and outs of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for president. Ultimately, it looks at what went wrong and tries to make sense of Clinton’s shocking loss last November. This book is the first word on 2016, but it most certainly will not be the last.
- “The Shadow Land” by Elizabeth Kostova: In Kostova’s third novel, she returns to Eastern Europe–Bulgaria. The author has spent much time in this country as this is where she met her husband. The novel starts in 2008 with the main character teaching English in a new country and quickly turns into a mystery to figure out the life of a man named Stoyan Lazarov. Kostova has managed to make another masterpiece so check it out today!
- “The Upside of Unrequited” by Becky Albertalli: This new young adult novel explores all the challenges and beauty that comes with new love. This book is super fun with a cast of characters that will keep you entertained. Try this one out for a summer beach read!
- “Richard Nixon” by John A. Farrell: This biography turns Richard Nixon into a human with depth and feelings. However, it doesn’t let Nixon off the hook for the corruption of his presidency. The book also brings previously unknown details to light from diaries and reports that were recently discovered. If you’ve ever been curious about Nixon, the man, this book is for you.
I recently read All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai. I absolutely loved most of it. It’s relentlessly hilarious with an incredibly unique concept. In the main character’s timeline, the world is almost perfect–technology has solved every conceivable problem that we have today. There’s just one problem that Tom still has–he’s lost the love of his life, but he has a time machine.
The worst thing possible happens: Tom ends up in the readers’ (our) timeline and he doesn’t understand our world at all. He has some big choices to make: stay here with the woman of his dreams or go back to a technologically advanced haven. I can tell you one thing: he doesn’t make it easy on himself.
My only issue with the book was that the story became a bit convoluted at times, but it continued to maintain my interest. I actually laughed out loud multiple times and truly enjoyed reading something so out-of-this-world.
This book is available at our library, so come check it out!