New Nonfiction Books: March 2018

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Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by  Laura Thompson

agatha christieIt has been one hundred years since Agatha Christie wrote her first novel and created the formidable Hercule Poirot. A brilliant and award winning biographer, Laura Thompson now turns her sharp eye to Agatha Christie. Arguably the greatest crime writer in the world, Christie’s books still sell over four million copies each year—more than thirty years after her death—and it shows no signs of slowing.

But who was the woman behind these mystifying, yet eternally pleasing, puzzlers? Thompson reveals the Edwardian world in which Christie grew up, explores her relationships, including those with her two husbands and daughter, and investigates the many mysteries still surrounding Christie’s life, most notably, her eleven-day disappearance in 1926.

Agatha Christie is as mysterious as the stories she penned, and writing about her is a detection job in itself. With unprecedented access to all of Christie’s letters, papers, and notebooks, as well as fresh and insightful interviews with her grandson, daughter, son-in-law and their living relations, Thompson is able to unravel not only the detailed workings of Christie’s detective fiction, but the truth behind this mysterious woman.

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Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure by  Amy Kaufman

bachelor nationThe first definitive, unauthorized, behind-the-scenes cultural history of the Bachelor franchise, America’s favorite guilty pleasure.

For fifteen years and thirty-five seasons, the Bachelor franchise has been a mainstay in American TV viewers’ lives. Since it premiered in 2002, the show’s popularity and relevance has only grown–more than eight million viewers tuned in to see the conclusion of the most recent season of The Bachelor.

The iconic reality television show’s reach and influence into the cultural zeitgeist is undeniable. Bestselling writers and famous actors live tweet about it. Die-hard fans–dubbed “Bachelor Nation”–come together every week during each season to participate in fantasy leagues and viewing parties.

Bachelor Nation is the first behind-the-scenes, unauthorized look into the reality television phenomenon. Los Angeles Times journalist Amy Kaufman is a proud member of Bachelor Nation and has a long history with the franchise–ABC even banned her from attending show events after her coverage of the program got a little too real for its liking. She has interviewed dozens of producers, contestants, and celebrity fans to give readers never-before-told details of the show’s inner workings: what it’s like to be trapped in the mansion “bubble”; dark, juicy tales of producer manipulation; and revelations about the alcohol-fueled debauchery that occurs long before the fantasy suite.

Kaufman also explores what our fascination means, culturally: what the show says about the way we view so-called ideal suitors, our subconscious yearning for fairy-tale romance, and how this enduring television show has shaped society’s feelings about love, marriage, and feminism by appealing to a marriage plot that’s as old as Jane Austen.

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Box of Butterflies: Discovering the Unexpected Blessings All Around Us by  Roma Downey

box of butterfliesRoma Downey—best known as the beloved angel on the TV show Touched by an Angel—has created a beautiful book filled with encouragement and hope, assuring us of God’s comforting presence in our lives.

Ever since she was a little girl, Roma has seen butterflies as a reminder of God’s presence. They have appeared to her in moments when she needed encouragement and reminded her she is not alone. In this deeply personal book, Roma shares stories from her life, alongside quotes, poems, scripture, and artwork that she prays will uplift you as they have her. Each grace-filled chapter of this beautiful full-color book covers topics such as courage, strength, gratitude, love, and kindness.

Reminiscent of the message of her popular television series, Touched by an Angel, this book’s central theme is that there is a God, He loves you, and that even in your most difficult moments, He is by your side. That though you may feel alone, you are never truly alone. The subtle butterfly theme reminds us that the wonder of God’s love and kindness is sometimes reflected in the gentle whispers of his creation and that we all have the power to transform from simple caterpillars into exquisite butterflies.

Written in a way that encourages you to “dip in and out” of its flowing content, this inspiring book invites you to return to its pages again and again, as life brings new challenges or you find yourself in need of new inspiration.

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The Bridesmaid’s Daughter: From Grace Kelly’s Wedding to a Women’s Shelter by  Nyna Giles

The Bridesmaid's DaughterA daughter’s moving search to understand her mother, Carolyn Scott—once a bridesmaid to Princess Grace and one of the first Ford models—who later in life spent years living in a homeless shelter.

Nyna Giles was picking up groceries at the supermarket one day when she looked down and saw the headline on the cover of a tabloid: “Former Bridesmaid of Princess Grace Lives in Homeless Shelter.” Nyna was stunned, shocked to see her family’s private ordeal made so public—the woman mentioned on that cover, Carolyn Scott Reybold, was her mother.

Nyna’s childhood had been spent in doctor’s offices. Too ill, she was told, to go to school like other children, she spent nearly every waking moment at her mother’s side at their isolated Long Island estate or on trips into the city to see the ballet. The doctors couldn’t tell her what was wrong, but as Nyna grew up, her mother, who’d always seemed fragile, became more and more distant. Now Nyna was forced to confront an agonizing realization: she barely knew the woman on the magazine in front of her.

She knew that her mother had been a model after arriving in New York in 1947, living at the Barbizon Hotel, where she’d met the young Grace Kelly and that the two had become fast friends. Nyna had seen the photos of Carolyn at Grace’s wedding, wearing the yellow bridesmaid gown that had hung in her closet for years. But how had the seemingly confident, glamorous woman in those pictures become the mother she knew growing up—the mother who was now living in a shelter?

In this powerful memoir of friendship and motherhood, Nyna Giles uncovers her mother’s past to answer the questions she never knew to ask.

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Falling with Wings: A Mother’s Story by  Dianna De La Garza

Falling with WingsBefore she was mother to global superstar Demi Lovato, she was just Dianna Hart. 
Dianna tells her story from the very beginning in this complete and genuinely affecting memoir.

She had big plans of becoming a country music star, but her life went in a different direction than her dreams. She developed an eating disorder early in life to gain a sense of control in her strict upbringing. As she continued to struggle with body image and her obsession with being perfect her entire adult life, she was also met with other difficult situations. Her husband and father of her two eldest daughters, Dallas and Demi, had his own troubles that effected the entire family. She coped with alcohol and pills, forming a long-lasting addiction.

She’s had terrible lows but also some great highs as she watched her daughters break out in Hollywood to become strong, empowered young women.

As a mother caring for daughters with addictions while continuing to battle her own, Dianna offers a unique perspective. And as a family, they have survived everything life has thrown at them and come away from it stronger than ever.

Dianna tells her story of living through and surviving adversity–with tremendous strength, love and faith.

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Giada’s Italy: My Recipes for La Dolce Vita by  Giada De Laurentiis

giadas italyWith photos shot on location around her native Rome, Giada’s latest book is a lavish exploration of her food roots and the lifestyle traditions that define la bella vita , with the contemporary California twist that has made her America’s most beloved Italian chef.

America knows and loves Giada De Laurentiis for her lighter, healthier takes on classic Italian fare. In her newest cookbook, she invites fans and home cooks to get to know the flavors and stories that have inspired her life’s work. Here, she shares recipes for authentic Italian dishes as her family has prepared them for years while infusing them with her signature fresh flavors to make them her own, like in her Grilled Swordfish with Candied Lemon Salad; Spaghetti with Chianti and Fava Beans; Asparagus with Grilled Melon Salad; Bruschetta with Burrata and Kale Salsa Verde; and Fennel Upside Down Cake. Filled with gorgeous photography of Italy, peppered with family stories, and complete with more of Giada’s tips and advice for cooking up fabulous meals with ease, Giada’s Italy is a stunning celebration of Italy’s flavors as only Giada could present them.

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The Island That Disappeared: The Lost History of the Mayflower’s Sister Ship and its Rival Puritan Colony by  Tom Feiling

Island That DisappearedThe Island that Disappeared tells, for the first time, the story of the passengers aboard the Mayflower’s sister ship (the Seaflower) who in 1630 founded a rival puritan colony on an isolated Caribbean island called Providence–so small it doesn’t appear on most maps. Chaos ensued, and the great experiment failed. One-hundred years later the disaster repeated itself.

Travelling to the island today, Tom Feiling finds a new mix of puritans and pirates that make Providence a symbol of how the Western world took shape.

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My Days: Happy and Otherwise by  Marion Ross

my daysFor eleven seasons, Marion Ross was head of one of America’s favorite television households. Now meet the lovable real-life woman behind the Happy Days mom . . .

Before she was affectionately known to millions as “Mrs. C.,” Marion Ross began her career as a Paramount starlet who went on to appear in nearly every major TV series of the 1950s and 1960s–including Love, American Style, in which she donned an apron that would cinch her career. Soon after came the fateful phone call from producer Garry Marshall that made her an “overnight” success, and changed her life . . .

In this warm and candid memoir, filled with loving recollections from the award-winning Happy Days team–from break-out star Henry Winkler to Cunningham “wild child” Erin Moran–Ross shares what it was like to be a starry-eyed young girl with dreams in poor, rural Minnesota, and the resilience, sacrifices, and determination it took to make them come true. She recalls her early years in the business, being in the company of such luminaries as Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Noel Coward, yet always feeling the Hollywood outsider–a painful invisibility that mirrored her own childhood. She reveals the absolute joys of playing a wife and mother on TV, and the struggles of maintaining those roles in real life. But among Ross’s most heart-rending recollections are those of finally finding a soulmate–another secret hope of hers made true well beyond her expectations.

Funny, poignant, and revealing–and featuring Garry Marshall’s final illuminating interview–as well as a touching foreword from her “TV son” Ron Howard, and a conversation with her real-life son and daughter, Marion Ross’s story is one of inspiration, persistence, and gratitude. It’s also a glowing tribute to all those who fulfilled her dreams–and in turn, gave us some of the happiest days of our own lives.

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The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi: My Journey into the Heart of Scriptural Faith and the Land Where It All Began by  Kathie Lee Gifford

rock the road and the rabbiAs a lifelong student of Scripture, Kathie Lee Gifford has always desired a deeper understanding of God’s Word and a deeper knowledge of God Himself. But it wasn’t until she began studying the biblical texts in their original Hebrew and Greek—along with actually hiking the ancient paths of Israel—that she found the fulfillment of those desires.

Now you can walk with Kathie on a journey through the spiritual foundations of her faith:

The Rock (Jesus Christ): Hear directly from Kathie about her life-changing and ever-deepening connection with Jesus, the Lover of her soul.

The Road (Israel): Explore dozens of ancient landmarks and historical sites from Israel, the promised land of God’s covenant.

The Rabbi (God’s Word): Go beyond a “Sunday school” approach to the Bible by digging into the original languages and deeper meanings of the Holy Scriptures.
As you journey through The Rock, The Road, and The Rabbi, you’ll also find additional content from Messianic Rabbi Jason Sobel throughout the book. Jason’s insight into the Hebrew language, culture, and heritage will open your eyes to the Bible like never before.

Come! Begin your journey toward a deeper faith through The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi.

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Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump by  Michael Isikoff and David Corn

russian rouletteThe incredible, harrowing account of how American democracy was hacked by Moscow as part of a covert operation to influence the U.S. election and help Donald Trump gain the presidency.

Russian Roulette is a story of political skullduggery unprecedented in American history. It weaves together tales of international intrigue, cyber espionage, and superpower rivalry. After U.S.-Russia relations soured, as Vladimir Putin moved to reassert Russian strength on the global stage, Moscow trained its best hackers and trolls on U.S. political targets and exploited WikiLeaks to disseminate information that could affect the 2016 election.

The Russians were wildly successful and the great break-in of 2016 was no “third-rate burglary.” It was far more sophisticated and sinister — a brazen act of political espionage designed to interfere with American democracy. At the end of the day, Trump, the candidate who pursued business deals in Russia, won. And millions of Americans were left wondering, what the hell happened? This story of high-tech spying and multiple political feuds is told against the backdrop of Trump’s strange relationship with Putin and the curious ties between members of his inner circle — including Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn — and Russia.

Russian Roulette chronicles and explores this bizarre scandal, explains the stakes, and answers one of the biggest questions in American politics: How and why did a foreign government infiltrate the country’s political process and gain influence in Washington?

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Second Wind: A Sunfish Sailor, an Island, and the Voyage That Brought a Family Together by  Nathaniel Philbrick

Second WindIn the spring of 1992, Nat Philbrick was in his late thirties, living with his family on Nantucket, feeling stranded and longing for that thrill of victory he once felt after winning a national sailing championship in his youth. Was it a midlife crisis? It was certainly a watershed for the journalist-turned-stay-at-home dad, who impulsively decided to throw his hat into the ring, or water, again.

With the bemused approval of his wife and children, Philbrick used the off-season on the island as his solitary training ground, sailing his tiny Sunfish to its remotest corners, experiencing the haunting beauty of its tidal creeks, inlets, and wave-battered sandbars. On ponds, bays, rivers, and finally at the championship on a lake in the heartland of America, he sailed through storms and memories, racing for the prize, but finding something unexpected about himself instead.

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Tasting Paris: 100 Recipes to Eat Like a Local by  Clotilde Dusoulier

tasting parisTasting Paris features new and classic French recipes and cooking techniques that will demistify the art of French cooking and transport your dinner guests to Paris. Whether you have experienced the charm of Paris many times or dream of planning your first trip, here you will find the food that makes this city so beloved. Featuring classic recipes like Roast Chicken with Herbed Butter and Croutons, and Profiteroles, as well as newer dishes that reflect the way Parisians eat today, such as Ratatouille Pita Sandwich with Chopped Eggs and Tahini Sauce and Spiralized Zucchini Salad with Peach and Green Almonds. With 100 recipes, 125 evocative photographs, and native Parisian Clotilde Dusoulier’s expertise, Tasting Paris transports you to picnicking along the Seine, shopping the robust open-air markets, and finding the best street food—bringing the flavors and allure of this favorite culinary destination to your very own kitchen.

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Unmasked: A Memoir by  Andrew Lloyd Webber

unmaskedOne of the most successful and distinguished artists of our time, Andrew Lloyd Webber has reigned over the musical theatre world for nearly five decades. The winner of numerous awards, including multiple Tonys and an Oscar, Lloyd Webber has enchanted millions worldwide with his music and numerous hit shows, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera—Broadway’s longest running show—and most recently, School of Rock. In Unmasked, written in his own inimitable, quirky voice, the revered, award-winning composer takes stock of his achievements, the twists of fate and circumstance which brought him both success and disappointment, and the passions that inspire and sustain him.

The son of a music professor and a piano teacher, Lloyd Webber reveals his artistic influences, from his idols Rodgers and Hammerstein and the perfection of South Pacific’s “Some Enchanted Evening,” to the pop and rock music of the 1960s and Puccini’s Tosca, to P. G. Wodehouse and T. S. Eliot. Lloyd Webber recalls his bohemian London youth, reminiscing about the happiest place of his childhood, his homemade Harrington Pavilion—a make-believe world of musical theatre in which he created his earliest entertainments.

A record of several exciting and turbulent decades of British and American musical theatre and the transformation of popular music itself, Unmasked is ultimately a chronicle of artistic creation. Lloyd Webber looks back at the development of some of his most famous works and illuminates his collaborations with luminaries such as Tim Rice, Robert Stigwood, Harold Prince, Cameron Mackintosh, and Trevor Nunn. Taking us behind the scenes of his productions, Lloyd Webber reveals fascinating details about each show, including the rich cast of characters involved with making them, and the creative and logistical challenges and artistic political battles that ensued.

Lloyd Webber shares his recollections of the works that have become cultural touchstones for generations of fans: writings songs for a school production that would become his first hit, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; finding the coterie of performers for his classic rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar; developing his first megahit, Evita, which would win seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical; staking his reputation and fortune on the groundbreaking Cats; and making history with the dazzling The Phantom of the Opera. 

Reflecting a life that included many passions (from architecture to Turkish Swimming Cats), full of witty and revealing anecdotes, and featuring cameo appearances by numerous celebrities—Elaine Paige, Sarah Brightman, David Frost, Julie Covington, Judi Dench, Richard Branson, A.R. Rahman, Mandy Patinkin, Patti LuPone, Richard Rodgers, Norman Jewison, Milos Forman, Plácido Domingo, Barbra Streisand, Michael Crawford, Gillian Lynne, Betty Buckley, and more—Unmasked at last reveals the true face of the extraordinary man beneath the storied legend.

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