Best New Books: Week of 9/4/2018

Labor Day weekend has come and gone, marking the unofficial end of Summer. Luckily there’s still lots of warmth and sunshine making it perfect for reading a great book outside. And of course, there are plenty of them arriving at the library this week. It’s a jam-packed list so let’s get right to it!



FICTION



Lake Success by  Gary Shteyngart

Lake SuccessMyopic, narcissistic, hilariously self-deluded and divorced from the real world as most of us know it, hedge fund manager Barry Cohen oversees $2.4 billion in assets. Deeply stressed by an SEC investigation and by his 3 year-old-son’s diagnosis of autism, he flees New York on a Greyhound bus in search of a simpler, more romantic life with his old college sweetheart, whom he hasn’t seen or spoken to in years. Meanwhile, reeling from the fight that caused Barry’s departure, his super-smart wife Seema, a driven first-generation American who craved a picture-perfect life with all the accoutrements of a huge bank account, has her own demons to face. How these two imperfect characters navigate the Shteyngartian chaos of their own making is the heart of this biting, brilliant, emotionally resonant novel very much of our times.

Description from Goodreads.

“As good as anything we’ve seen from this author: smart, relevant, fundamentally warm-hearted, hilarious of course, and it has a great ending.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Shteyngart’s latest is a hilarious, melancholic, and rapier-sharp tale for our times.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Shteyngart does slapstick as well as ever, but he stakes out new terrain in the expert way he develops his characters’ pathos. . . . [Lake Success is] a stylish, big-hearted novel. Shteyngart made his name as a sharp satirist, and he’ll undoubtedly widen his appeal with this effort.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

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The Golden State by  Lydia Kiesling

golden stateIn Lydia Kiesling’s razor-sharp debut novel, The Golden State, we accompany Daphne, a young mother on the edge of a breakdown, as she flees her sensible but strained life in San Francisco for the high desert of Altavista with her toddler, Honey.

Bucking under the weight of being a single parent―her Turkish husband is unable to return to the United States because of a “processing error”―Daphne takes refuge in a mobile home left to her by her grandparents in hopes that the quiet will bring clarity.
But clarity proves elusive. Over the next ten days Daphne is anxious, she behaves a little erratically, she drinks too much. She wanders the town looking for anyone and anything to punctuate the long hours alone with the baby. Among others, she meets Cindy, a neighbor who is active in a secessionist movement, and befriends the elderly Alice, who has traveled to Altavista as she approaches the end of her life. When her relationships with these women culminate in a dangerous standoff, Daphne must reconcile her inner narrative with the reality of a deeply divided world.

Keenly observed, bristling with humor, and set against the beauty of a little-known part of California, The Golden State is about class and cultural breakdowns, and desperate attempts to bridge old and new worlds. But more than anything, it is about motherhood: its voracious worry, frequent tedium, and enthralling, wondrous love.

Description from Goodreads.

“Kiesling’s intimate, culturally perceptive debut portrays a frazzled mother and a fractious America, both verging on meltdown . . . Kiesling depicts parenting in the digital age with humor and brutal honesty and offers insights into language, academics, and even the United Nations. But perhaps best of all is her thought-provoking portrait of a pioneer community in decline as anger and obsession fray bonds between neighbors, family, and fellow citizens.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“First novelist Kiesling nails the particular travails of new mothers, puts a human face on immigration issues, and adds some contemporary political commentary . . . There’s so much to love about this novel . . . Strongly recommended for readers who enjoy contemporary literary fiction and can handle a few swear words.” – Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

“Lydia Kiesling’s first novel encapsulates the intense and often conflicting feelings of early parenthood: frustration, tenderness, isolation. By playing with punctuation and sentence structure, Kiesling immerses the reader in the fragile headspace of the anxious new mother. With a style reminiscent of Claire Vaye Watkins and Sarah Stonich, The Golden State sparks the lovely, lonely feelings inside us all.” – Booklist

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John Woman by  Walter Mosley

john womanAt twelve years old, Cornelius, the son of an Italian-American woman and an older black man from Mississippi named Herman, secretly takes over his father’s job at a silent film theater in New York’s East Village. Five years later, as Herman lives out his last days, he shares his wisdom with his son, explaining that the person who controls the narrative of history controls their own fate.

After his father dies and his mother disappears, Cornelius sets about reinventing himself–as Professor John Woman, a man who will spread Herman’s teachings into the classrooms of his unorthodox southwestern university and beyond. But there are other individuals who are attempting to influence the narrative of John Woman, and who might know something about the facts of his hidden past.

Engaging with some of the most provocative ideas of recent intellectual history, John Woman is a compulsively readable, deliciously unexpected novel about the way we tell stories, and whether the stories we tell have the power to change the world.

Description from Goodreads.

“The versatile, justly celebrated creator of Easy Rawlins, Leonid McGill, and other iconic crime solvers raises the stakes with this tightly wound combination of psychological suspense and philosophic inquiry…Here he weaves elements of both the erotic and the speculative into a taut, riveting, and artfully edgy saga…Somehow, it makes sense that when Walter Mosley puts forth a novel of ideas, it arrives with the unexpected force of a left hook and the metallic gleam of a new firearm.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Mosley is at his commanding, comfort-zone-blasting best in this heady tale of a fugitive genius. His hero’s lectures are marvels of intellectual pyrotechnics and provocative inquiries; intense sex scenes raise questions about gender roles and intimacy; and John Woman’s increasingly drastic predicament and complex moral quandary precipitate arresting insights into race, freedom, power, and the stories we tell to try to make sense of the ceaseless torrent of human conflict and desire” – Booklist

“Offbeat and insightful… Fast paced but still full of provocative questions about society, the story grounds the wilder aspects of its plot by providing a fascinating cast of endearing characters. Mosley’s novel is one to savor, and an unpredictable, unabashedly strange good time.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Available Formats:

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MYSTERY & SUSPENSE



The Man Who Came Uptown by  George Pelecanos

man who came uptownMichael Hudson spends the long days in prison devouring books given to him by the prison’s librarian, a young woman named Anna who develops a soft spot for her best student. Anna keeps passing Michael books until one day he disappears, suddenly released after a private detective manipulated a witness in Michael’s trial.

Outside, Michael encounters a Washington, D.C. that has changed a lot during his time locked up. Once shady storefronts are now trendy beer gardens and flower shops. But what hasn’t changed is the hard choice between the temptation of crime and doing what’s right. Trying to balance his new job, his love of reading, and the debt he owes to the man who got him released, Michael struggles to figure out his place in this new world before he loses control.

Smart and fast-paced, The Man Who Came Uptown brings Washington, D.C. to life in a high-stakes story of tough choices.

Description from Goodreads.

“The thriller plot is taut and suspenseful, as jolting as it is carefully nuanced, but it is Pelecanos’ focus on character, on his ability to show the richness and depth of his people, as well as their often-heartbreaking yearning for something more, that gives this novel-and all his work-its special power.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Using his customary knowing dialogue and stripped-down, soulful prose, Pelecanos skillfully, sensitively works the urban frontier where the problems and stresses of everyday life cross the line into the sort of criminal behavior that could tempt anyone-anyone at all.” – Kirkus Reviews

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The Piranhas: The Boy Bosses of Naples by  Roberto Saviano

piranhasIn Naples, there is a new kind of gang ruling the streets: the paranze, or the children’s gangs, groups of teenage boys who divide their time between counting Facebook likes, playing Call of Duty on their PlayStations, and patrolling the streets armed with pistols and AK-47s, terrorizing local residents in order to mark out their Mafia bosses’ territory.

Roberto Saviano’s The Piranhas tells the story of the rise of one such gang and its leader, Nicolas—known to his friends and enemies as the Maharajah. Nicolas’s ambitions reach far beyond doing other men’s bidding: he wants to be the one giving the orders, calling the shots, and ruling the city. But the violence he is accustomed to wielding and witnessing soon spirals beyond his control—with tragic consequences.

Description from Goodreads.

“…a chilling tale of teenage gangsters. … A well-wrought crime story that could as easily have been a documentary: truthful and sobering.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Saviano turns to fiction to take another look at Neapolitan crime, this time focusing on the real-life phenomenon of youth gangs, or paranze, wreaking havoc in the city. He prefaces the novel with a short statement: ‘What you are about to read actually occurred. Facts have been modified and connected to others in order to make a violent and complex world more comprehensible….’ The Piranhas is all the more disturbing for this basis in real events.” – Shelf Awareness

“Famous for his exposé of the Campagnian mafia (Gomorrah), Saviano now offers a novel to color in the outlines, conjuring one bravura personality and the violence he unleashes to gain a piece of the action in Naples.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

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Foe by  Iain Reid

foeWe don’t get visitors. Not out here. We never have.

In Iain Reid’s second haunting, philosophical puzzle of a novel, set in the near-future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with alarming news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm…very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Henrietta won’t have a chance to miss him, because she won’t be left alone—not even for a moment. Henrietta will have company. Familiar company.

Told in Reid’s sharp and evocative style, Foe examines the nature of domestic relationships, self-determination, and what it means to be (or not to be) a person. An eerily entrancing page-turner, it churns with unease and suspense from the first words to its shocking finale.

Description from Goodreads.

“Reid builds to a deeply unsettling climax. As much a surgical dissection of what makes a marriage as an expertly paced, sparsely detailed psychological thriller, this is one to read with the lights on.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Reid proves once again that he is a master of atmosphere and suspense. Readers won’t be able to put this one down.” – Publishers Weekly

“Reid is at it again, exploiting readers with plot twists, narrative unease, and explosive conclusions in his second novel… [he] has the rare ability to make readers both uncomfortable and engaged, and this drama will surely send them back to the beginning pages to track the clues he left to the surprise ending.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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Leave No Trace by  Mindy Mejia

leave no traceThere is a place in Minnesota with hundreds of miles of glacial lakes and untouched forests called the Boundary Waters. Ten years ago a man and his son trekked into this wilderness and never returned.

Search teams found their campsite ravaged by what looked like a bear. They were presumed dead until a decade later…the son appeared. Discovered while ransacking an outfitter store, he was violent and uncommunicative and sent to a psychiatric facility. Maya Stark, the assistant language therapist, is charged with making a connection with their high-profile patient. No matter how she tries, however, he refuses to answer questions about his father or the last ten years of his life

But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy who is no longer a boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world.

Description from Goodreads.

“Mejia’s thrilling tale works both as an engaging mystery and a haunting meditation on grief, abandonment, and the lost places within ourselves. Brutal, devastating, and utterly riveting.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Mejia’s writing crosses back and forth between exquisite literary descriptions and thrilleresque escapes and acts of violence.” – New York Journal of Books

“With intensely complicated characters, a fast-paced plot, lots of twists and turns, and an impeccable ending, Leave No Trace is the type of book one finishes in one sitting, preferably with rain pattering on the window and a cup of coffee in hand.” – Minnesota Monthly Magazine

Available Formats:

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HISTORICAL FICTION



The Lost Queen by  Signe Pike

lost queenIntelligent, passionate, rebellious, and brave, Languoreth is the unforgettable heroine of The Lost Queen, a tale of conflicted loves and survival set against the cinematic backdrop of ancient Scotland, a magical land of myths and superstition inspired by the beauty of the natural world. One of the most powerful early medieval queens in British history, Languoreth ruled at a time of enormous disruption and bloodshed, when the burgeoning forces of Christianity threatened to obliterate the ancient pagan beliefs and change her way of life forever.

Together with her twin brother Lailoken, a warrior and druid known to history as Merlin, Languoreth is catapulted into a world of danger and violence. When a war brings the hero Emrys Pendragon, to their door, Languoreth collides with the handsome warrior Maelgwn. Their passionate connection is forged by enchantment, but Languoreth is promised in marriage to Rhydderch, son of the High King who is sympathetic to the followers of Christianity. As Rhydderch’s wife, Languoreth must assume her duty to fight for the preservation of the Old Way, her kingdom, and all she holds dear.

The Lost Queen brings this remarkable woman to life—rescuing her from obscurity, and reaffirming her place at the center of the most enduring legends of all time.

Description from Goodreads.

The Lost Queen, Signe Pike’s debut novel set in sixth-century Scot­land, is the rare historical epic that manages to be truly sweeping and yet always intense and person­al—at once a romance, a story of faith, a story of war and a story of family… By the end, you feel happily lost in this mist-shrouded place in history, and you only wish you could stay there longer. Moving, thrilling and ultimately spellbinding, The Lost Queen is perfect for readers of historical fiction like Jean M. Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear and Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, and for lovers of fantasy like Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.” – BookPage

“An engrossing debut… Pike’s narrative blends court intrigue, romantic interludes, and gritty violence into a literary brew worth savoring to the dramatic finale. The elements of Celtic mysticism will appeal to fantasy fans looking for a Mists of Avalon–type experience, while the setting remains grounded in sixth-century Scotland’s political realities. Enthusiastically recommended for readers of female-centered historical sagas and those enamored of Arthurian tales.” – Booklist

“A gripping tale… you won’t regret losing yourself in this fast-moving story.” – Charleston Magazine

Available Formats:

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The Silence of the Girls by  Pat Barker

silence of the girlsThe ancient city of Troy has withstood a decade under siege of the powerful Greek army, who continue to wage bloody war over a stolen woman–Helen. In the Greek camp, another woman watches and waits for the war’s outcome: Briseis. She was queen of one of Troy’s neighboring kingdoms, until Achilles, Greece’s greatest warrior, sacked her city and murdered her husband and brothers. Briseis becomes Achilles’s concubine, a prize of battle, and must adjust quickly in order to survive a radically different life, as one of the many conquered women who serve the Greek army.

When Agamemnon, the brutal political leader of the Greek forces, demands Briseis for himself, she finds herself caught between the two most powerful of the Greeks. Achilles refuses to fight in protest, and the Greeks begin to lose ground to their Trojan opponents. Keenly observant and cooly unflinching about the daily horrors of war, Briseis finds herself in an unprecedented position to observe the two men driving the Greek forces in what will become their final confrontation, deciding the fate, not only of Briseis’s people, but also of the ancient world at large.

Briseis is just one among thousands of women living behind the scenes in this war–the slaves and prostitutes, the nurses, the women who lay out the dead–all of them erased by history. With breathtaking historical detail and luminous prose, Pat Barker brings the teeming world of the Greek camp to vivid life. She offers nuanced, complex portraits of characters and stories familiar from mythology, which, seen from Briseis’s perspective, are rife with newfound revelations. Barker’s latest builds on her decades-long study of war and its impact on individual lives–and it is nothing short of magnificent.

Description from Goodreads.

“In graceful prose, Man Booker Prize winner Barker, renowned for her historical fiction trilogies, offers a compelling take on the events of The Iliad, allowing Briseis a first-person perspective. Briseis is flawlessly drawn as Barker wisely avoids the pitfall so many authors stumble into headlong, namely, giving her an anachronistic modern feminist viewpoint. The army camp, the warrior mindset, the horrors of battle, the silence of the girls—Barker makes it all convincing and very powerful. Recommended on the highest order.” – Booklist 

“Its magnificent final section can’t help but make you reflect on the cultural underpinnings of misogyny, the women throughout history who have been told by men to forget their trauma… You feel you are in the hands of a writer at the height of her powers, her only priority to enlarge the story.” – Evening Standard

“In The Silence of the Girls, [Barker] now gives a voice to the voiceless…It is not generally known that the omission of Pat Barker’s Regeneration from the 1991 Booker shortlist by the all-male panel of judges was the trigger for the foundation of the Orange (now Women’s) Prize. Barker’s omission from this year’s Booker longlist is a decision equally lamentable, for The Silence of the Girls is a book that will be read in generations to come.” – Daily Telegraph

Available Formats:

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SCI-FI & FANTASY



The Fall of Gondolin by  J.R.R. Tolkien

fall of gondolinIn the Tale of The Fall of Gondolin are two of the greatest powers in the world. There is Morgoth of the uttermost evil, unseen in this story but ruling over a vast military power from his fortress of Angband. Deeply opposed to Morgoth is Ulmo, second in might only to Manwë, chief of the Valar: he is called the Lord of Waters, of all seas, lakes, and rivers under the sky. But he works in secret in Middle-earth to support the Noldor, the kindred of the Elves among whom were numbered Húrin and Túrin Turambar.

Central to this enmity of the gods is the city of Gondolin, beautiful but undiscoverable. It was built and peopled by Noldorin Elves who, when they dwelt in Valinor, the land of the gods, rebelled against their rule and fled to Middle-earth. Turgon King of Gondolin is hated and feared above all his enemies by Morgoth, who seeks in vain to discover the marvellously hidden city, while the gods in Valinor in heated debate largely refuse to intervene in support of Ulmo’s desires and designs.

Into this world comes Tuor, cousin of Túrin, the instrument of Ulmo’s designs. Guided unseen by him Tuor sets out from the land of his birth on the fearful journey to Gondolin, and in one of the most arresting moments in the history of Middle-earth the sea-god himself appears to him, rising out of the ocean in the midst of a storm. In Gondolin he becomes great; he is wedded to Idril, Turgon’s daughter, and their son is Eärendel, whose birth and profound importance in days to come is foreseen by Ulmo.

At last comes the terrible ending. Morgoth learns through an act of supreme treachery all that he needs to mount a devastating attack on the city, with Balrogs and dragons and numberless Orcs. After a minutely observed account of the fall of Gondolin, the tale ends with the escape of Túrin and Idril, with the child Eärendel, looking back from a cleft in the mountains as they flee southward, at the blazing wreckage of their city. They were journeying into a new story, the Tale of Eärendel, which Tolkien never wrote, but which is sketched out in this book from other sources.

Following his presentation of Beren and Lúthien Christopher Tolkien has used the same ‘history in sequence’ mode in the writing of this edition of The Fall of Gondolin. In the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, it was ‘the first real story of this imaginary world’ and, together with Beren and Lúthien and The Children of Húrin, he regarded it as one of the three ‘Great Tales’ of the Elder Days.

Description from Goodreads.

“…enough splendid imagery and characterful prose that readers will be carried along to the end even if they don’t know where they are going … among the most propulsive of Tolkien’s writing.” – The Independent

“Deep delvers of Middle-earth lore will be rewarded with a thorough understanding of one of modern fantasy’s seminal works. A-” – Entertainment Weekly

“This gorgeous novel is a must for more than just Tolkien fanatics.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

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HORROR



Flight or Fright edited by  Stephen King & Bev Vincent

flight or frightStephen King hates to fly.

Now he and co-editor Bev Vincent would like to share this fear of flying with you.

Welcome to Flight or Fright, an anthology about all the things that can go horribly wrong when you’re suspended six miles in the air, hurtling through space at more than 500 mph and sealed up in a metal tube (like—gulp!—a coffin) with hundreds of strangers. All the ways your trip into the friendly skies can turn into a nightmare, including some we’ll bet you’ve never thought of before… but now you will the next time you walk down the jetway and place your fate in the hands of a total stranger.

Featuring brand new stories by Joe Hill and Stephen King, as well as fourteen classic tales and one poem from the likes of Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Roald Dahl, Dan Simmons, and many others, Flight or Fright is, as King says, “ideal airplane reading, especially on stormy descents… Even if you are safe on the ground, you might want to buckle up nice and tight.”

Description from Goodreads.

“This entertaining anthology of horror, mystery, and literary tales about aircraft (most reprinted) will have the reader thinking twice about flying… This is a strong anthology full of satisfying tales.” – Publishers Weekly

“…a glorious collection of 17 airborne-themed short stories from a selection of authors who are gleefully intent on making sure that you never want to fly again. .. The beauty of Flight Or Fright is the sheer craftsmanship of the tales. These are a masterclass in tension and fear, the perfect thing to read when you’re firmly on the ground…” – Movies in Focus

Available Formats:

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NONFICTION



Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times by  Mark Leibovich

big gameLike millions of Americans, Mark Leibovich has spent more of his life than he’d care to admit tuned into pro football. Being a lifelong New England Patriots fan meant growing up with a steady diet of lovable loserdom. That is until the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick era made the Pats the most ruthlessly efficient sports dynasty of the 21st century, its organization the most polarizing in the NFL, and its fans the most irritating in all of Pigskin America. Leibovich kept his obsession relatively private, in the meantime making a nice career for himself covering that other playground for rich and overgrown children, American politics. Still, every now and then Leibovich would reach out to Tom Brady to gauge his willingness to subject himself to a profile in the New York Times Magazine. He figured that the chances of Brady agreeing to this were a Hail Mary at best, but Leibovich kept trying, at least to indulge his fan-boy within. To his surprise, Brady returned the call, in the summer of 2014. He agreed to let Mark spend time with him through the coming season, which proved to be a fateful one for all parties. It included another epic Patriots Super Bowl win and, yes, a scandal involving Brady–Deflategate–whose grip on sports media was as profound as its true significance was ridiculous.

So began a four-year odyssey that has taken Mark Leibovich deeper inside the NFL than anyone has gone before. Ultimately, this is a chronicle of what may come to be seen as “peak football”–the high point of the sport’s economic success and cultural dominance, but also the moment when it all began to turn. From the owners meeting to the NFL draft to the sidelines of crucial games, he takes in the show, at the elbow of everyone from Brady to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, who is cordially hated by even casual football fans to an extent that is almost weird. It is an era of explosive revenue growth, as deluxe new stadiums spring up all over the country, but also one of creeping existential fear. Football was never thought to be easy on the body–players joke darkly that the NFL stands for “not for long” for good reason. But as the impact of concussions on brains has become the inescapable ear-ring in the background, it became increasingly difficult to enjoy the simple glory of football without the buzz-kill of its obvious toll.

And that was before Donald Trump. In 2016, Mark Leibovich’s day job caught up with him, and the NFL slammed headlong into America’s culture wars. Big Game is a journey through an epic storm. Through it all, Leibovich always keeps one eye cocked on Tom Brady and his beloved Patriots, through to the end of the 2017-18 season. Pro football, this hilarious and enthralling book proves, may not be the sport America needs, but it is most definitely the sport we deserve.

Description from Goodreads.

“What we have here are 349 unflinching pages detailing the NFL’s rampant boobery . . . It probably took a reporter like Leibovich to write a historic book like this. A top-flight journalist who’d gorged on a product for decades parachutes into the factory to see exactly how the product is made and who’s making it. The findings are mind-numbing, stomach-turning and stupefying. But the product is still so delicious.” – NBCSports.com

“Enlightening and entertaining . . . Boston fans will savor an abundance of material about the hometown team. The chapters involving the Patriots (among them, ‘Beware the Pissed Off Pretty Boy,’ ‘“I’m Drunk, I’m Stupid, I’m a Pats Fan”, the Man Told Police’) are filled with delectable tidbits.” – Boston Globe

“Rollicking entertainment. Must-read for NFL junkies.” – Kirkus Reviews

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21 Lessons for the 21st Century by  Yuval Noah Harari

21 lessons for the 21st centuryIn Sapiens, he explored our past. In Homo Deus, he looked to our future. Now, one of the most innovative thinkers on the planet turns to the present to make sense of today’s most pressing issues.

How do computers and robots change the meaning of being human? How do we deal with the epidemic of fake news? Are nations and religions still relevant? What should we teach our children?

Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.

In twenty-one accessible chapters that are both provocative and profound, Harari builds on the ideas explored in his previous books, untangling political, technological, social, and existential issues and offering advice on how to prepare for a very different future from the world we now live in: How can we retain freedom of choice when Big Data is watching us? What will the future workforce look like, and how should we ready ourselves for it? How should we deal with the threat of terrorism? Why is liberal democracy in crisis?

Harari’s unique ability to make sense of where we have come from and where we are going has captured the imaginations of millions of readers. Here he invites us to consider values, meaning, and personal engagement in a world full of noise and uncertainty. When we are deluged with irrelevant information, clarity is power. Presenting complex contemporary challenges clearly and accessibly, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is essential reading.

Description from Goodreads.

“A sobering and tough-minded perspective on bewildering new vistas.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

“Magnificently combining historical, scientific, political, and philosophical perspectives, Harari . . . explores twenty-one of what he considers to be today’s ‘greatest challenges.’ Despite the title’s reference to ‘lessons,’ his tone is not prescriptive but exploratory, seeking to provoke debate without offering definitive solutions. . . . Within this broad construct, Harari discusses many pressing issues, including problems associated with liberal democracy, nationalism, immigration, and religion. This well-informed and searching book is one to be savored and widely discussed.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

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Small Fry by  Lisa Brennan-Jobs

small fryA frank, smart and captivating memoir by the daughter of Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Born on a farm and named in a field by her parents–artist Chrisann Brennan and Steve Jobs–Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s childhood unfolded in a rapidly changing Silicon Valley. When she was young, Lisa’s father was a mythical figure who was rarely present in her life. As she grew older, her father took an interest in her, ushering her into a new world of mansions, vacations, and private schools. His attention was thrilling, but he could also be cold, critical and unpredictable. When her relationship with her mother grew strained in high school, Lisa decided to move in with her father, hoping he’d become the parent she’d always wanted him to be.

Small Fry is Lisa Brennan-Jobs’s poignant story of a childhood spent between two imperfect but extraordinary homes. Scrappy, wise, and funny, young Lisa is an unforgettable guide through her parents’ fascinating and disparate worlds. Part portrait of a complex family, part love letter to California in the seventies and eighties, Small Fry is an enthralling book by an insightful new literary voice.

Description from Goodreads.

“A masterly Silicon Valley gothic… The bohemian landscape she captures will be virtually unrecognizable to anyone who equates this slice of Northern California with Teslas and tiger moms… Of the book’s myriad achievements, the greatest might be making [this] story her own.” – Vogue

“An epic, sharp coming-of-age story from the daughter of Steve Jobs. It’s rare to find a memoir from a celebrity’s child in which the writing is equal to―or exceeds―the parent’s reputation, but that is the case with Brennan-Jobs’ debut. In a lesser writer’s hands, the narrative could have devolved into literary revenge. Instead, Brennan-Jobs offers a stunningly beautiful study of parenting that just so happens to include the co-founder of Apple… An exquisitely rendered story of family, love, and identity.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“Brennan-Jobs skillfully relays her past without judgement… staying true to her younger self. It is a testament to her fine writing and journalistic approach that her memoir never turns maudlin or gossipy. Rather than a celebrity biography, this is Brennan-Jobs’s authentic story of growing up in two very different environments, neither of which felt quite like home.” – Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

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CHILDREN’S



The Stuff of Stars by  Marion Dane Bauer; illustrated by  Ekua Holmes

Stuff of starsBefore the universe was formed, before time and space existed, there was . . . nothing. But then . . . BANG! Stars caught fire and burned so long that they exploded, flinging stardust everywhere. And the ash of those stars turned into planets. Into our Earth. And into us. In a poetic text, Marion Dane Bauer takes readers from the trillionth of a second when our universe was born to the singularities that became each one of us, while vivid illustrations by Ekua Holmes capture the void before the Big Bang and the ensuing life that burst across galaxies. A seamless blend of science and art, this picture book reveals the composition of our world and beyond — and how we are all the stuff of stars.

Description from Goodreads.

“It’s a stunning achievement to present to readers the factual events that created the birth of the universe, the planet Earth, and life on Earth with such an expressive, powerful creativity of words paired with illustrations so evocative of the awe and magic of the cosmos. But then the story goes one brilliant step further and gives the birth of a child the same beginning, the same sense of magic, the same miracle. Wow.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“In spare, supple verse, Newbery Honor author Bauer (Winter Dance) tells a big story…In a brilliant stroke of visual imagination, Caldecott Honor artist Holmes (Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets) uses the swirls and waves of marbled paper to represent the ebb and flow of cosmic matter. Her spreads appear to move and shift on a grand scale, while Bauer suggests that, just possibly, the power of creation and the power of love are not so different.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book


Good Rosie! by  Kate DiCamillo; illustrated by  Harry Bliss

good rosieRosie is a good dog and a faithful companion to her owner, George. She likes taking walks with George and looking at the clouds together, but the closest she comes to another dog is when she encounters her reflection in her empty dog bowl, and sometimes that makes Rosie feel lonely. One day George takes Rosie to the dog park, but the park is full of dogs that Rosie doesn’t know, which makes her feel lonelier than ever. When big, loud Maurice and small, yippy Fifi bound over and want to play, Rosie’s not sure how to respond. Is there a trick to making friends? And if so, can they all figure it out together?

Description from Goodreads.

“Cartoonist Bliss’ humor shines as it works with DiCamillo’s understated text. Subtle lessons about entering a new and unfamiliar territory, finding companions, and the value of a friendly, approachable attitude are all conveyed with a delicate touch. Good Rosie—good story.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“DiCamillo’s deep empathy for her shy, lonely protagonist will come as no surprise, but her portrayal of Rosie as genuinely puzzled by the mechanics of friendship is particularly astute. Bliss (Diary of a Worm) works in a paneled comics format, and it proves felicitous for his formal drawing style and deadpan humor. This is no shaggy dog story—it’s thoughtful and funny, and a real gift for emerging readers.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“DiCamillo’s contemplative, understated text perfectly complements Bliss’s elegantly composed watercolors. Forging new bonds can be both tantalizing and overwhelming, they acknowledge, but children will feel up to the challenge after seeing Rosie conquer her anxieties. A superb friendship story and a lovely choice for one-on-one sharing, especially with little ones with first-day-of-school jitters.” – School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Available Formats:

Print Book


The Girl in the Locked Room by  Mary Downing Hahn

girl in the locked roomA family moves into an old, abandoned house. Jules’s parents love the house, but Jules is frightened and feels a sense of foreboding. When she sees a pale face in an upstairs window, though, she can’t stop wondering about the eerie presence on the top floor—in a room with a locked door. Could it be someone who lived in the house a century earlier?

Her fear replaced by fascination, Jules is determined to make contact with the mysterious figure and help unlock the door. Past and present intersect as she and her ghostly friend discover—and change—the fate of the family who lived in the house all those many years ago.

Description from Goodreads.

“An enthralling ghostly tale.” – School Library Journal

“This gentle paranormal mystery is perfect for young readers.” – Booklist

“Hahn’s mystery offers an atmospheric setting, a child ghost, and eerie circumstances.” – Publishers Weekly

Available Formats:

Print Book

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