Staff Book Picks: October 2020

Alvarez, Julia, author.

"A literature professor tries to rediscover who she is after the sudden death of her husband, even as a series of family and political jolts force her to ask what we owe those in crisis in our families, biological or otherwise"-- Provided by publisher.

Baker, Mishell.

"A cynical, paraplegic screenwriter with borderline personality disorder gets recruited to join a secret organization that oversees relations between Hollywood and Fairyland in the first book of a new urban fantasy series from debut author Mishell Baker" --from Amazon website.

Baker, Nicholson.

"Nicholson Baker turns his attention to the inner landscape of a nine-year-old American girl, Eleanor Winslow, who is spending a semester at an English school. Her observations are hilarious as she tells herself stories, defends a classmate, has nightmares about cows, and generally does her best to make sense of life's particulars, noting it all down with innocence and candor."--BOOK JACKET.

Blaise, Misha Maynerick, 1977- author, illustrator.

"An exuberant and vibrant illustrated exploration of birds and our relationships with them. With enthralling facts, humorous anecdotes, and gorgeous artwork, artist Misha Blaise pays loving homage to these amazing beings that populate our skies and share the planet with us. Using her own adoration of birds as a starting point to explore avian minutiae both strange and fascinating, Blaise winds through the interconnectedness between humans and our feathered friends, from the eccentric people who obsess about birds to the compelling ways people have integrated birds into culture throughout history, as well as our similar behaviors, kindred intelligence, and shared habitats. Thoughtful, philosophical, and delighting, Crazy for Birds pairs beautiful artwork with whimsical writing to explore the many wonders of birds"-- Provided by publisher.

Brown, Karma, author.

Alice Hale left a career in publicity to become a writer and follow her husband to the New York suburbs. Unaccustomed to filling her days alone in a big, empty house, she is captivated by a vintage cookbook found buried in a box in the old home's basement, and by the cookbook's previous owner. As Alice cooks her way through 1950s housewife Nellie Murdoch's past, she realizes that within the cookbook's pages are clues about Nellie's life-- including a unsent letters penned to her mother. Uncovering a more sinister side to Nellie's marriage, Alice begins to take control of her life-- and protect herself with a few secrets of her own. -- adapted from jacket

Chakraborty, S. A., author.

"Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty--an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and Uprooted, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts. Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she's a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by--palm readings, zars, healings--are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive. But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she's forced to question all she believes. For the warrior tells her an extraordinary tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling birds of prey are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass--a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. In Daevabad, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. A young prince dreams of rebellion. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences. After all, there is a reason they say to be careful what you wish for"-- ǂc Provided by publisher.

Crouch, Blake, author.

New York City cop Barry Sutton investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome-- a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived. Neuroscientist Helena Smith dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. Together they face a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. Memory makes reality-- and the force is beginning to unmake the world as we know it. -- adapted from jacket.

Dimaline, Cherie, 1975- author.

"Joan has been searching for her missing husband, Victor, for nearly a year--ever since that terrible night they'd had their first serious argument hours before he mysteriously vanished. Her Métis family has lived in their tightly knit rural community for generations, but no one keeps the old ways...until they have to. That moment has arrived for Joan. Joan turns to Ajean, an elderly foul-mouthed card shark who is one of the few among her community steeped in the traditions of her people and knowledgeable about their ancient enemies. With the help of the old Métis and her peculiar Johnny-Cash-loving, twelve-year-old nephew Zeus, Joan must find a way to uncover the truth...Her life, and those of everyone she loves, depends upon it."-- From publisher's marketing.

Donovan, Tristan, author.

"Board games have been with us longer than even the written word. But what is it about this pastime that continues to captivate us well into the age of smartphones and instant gratification? In It's All a Game, British journalist and renowned games expert Tristan Donovan opens the box on the incredible and often surprising history and psychology of board games. He traces the evolution of the game across cultures, time periods, and continents, from the paranoid Chicago toy genius behind classics like Operation and Mouse Trap, to the role of Monopoly in helping prisoners of war escape the Nazis, and even the scientific use of board games today to teach artificial intelligence how to reason and how to win. With these compelling stories and characters, Donovan ultimately reveals why board games have captured hearts and minds all over the world for generations"-- Provided by publisher.

Follett, Ken, author.

In this short, spellbinding book, international bestselling author Ken Follett describes the emotions that gripped him when he learned about the fire that threatened to destroy one of the greatest cathedrals in the world--the Notre-Dame de Paris. Follett then tells the story of the cathedral, from its construction to the role it has played across time and history, and he reveals the influence that the Notre-Dame had upon cathedrals around the world and on the writing of one of Follett's most famous and beloved novels, The Pillars of the Earth.

Fromm, Erich, 1900-1980.

The psychologist explores the theory, meaning, and practice of love, as well as its significance in contemporary Western society.

Hajdu, David, author.

"A poignant and hilarious oral history of a (fictitious) musical phenomenon. Celebrated music critic and cultural historian David Hajdu unravels the mystery of a one of-a-kind artist, a pianist with a rare neurological condition that enables her to make music that is nothing less than pure, unmediated emotional expression. Her name is Adrianne Geffel, praised as "the Geyser of Grand Street" and the "Queen of Bleak Chic." Yet despite her renown, she curiously vanished from public life, and her whereabouts remain a mystery to this day. Hajdu pieces together her story through the memories of those who knew her, inspired her, and exploited her-her mother, father, best friend, producer, critics, teachers-in this slyly entertaining work of fiction. Adrianne Geffel is at once a piercing satire, a vividly twisted evocation of New York in the 1970s and '80s, and a strangely moving portrait of a group of characters both utterly familiar and like none we've ever encountered"-- Provided by publisher.

Hayes, Christopher, 1979- author.

"Hayes contends our country has fractured in two: the Colony and the Nation. In the Nation, we venerate the law. In the Colony, we obsess over order, fear trumps civil rights, and aggressive policing resembles occupation. [His book posits that] a country founded on justice now looks like something uncomfortably close to a police state. How and why did Americans build a system where conditions in Ferguson and West Baltimore mirror those that sparked the American Revolution?"--Amazon.com.

Hussong, David Castro, 1990- author.

"A joyful exploration of the cuisine of Baja California--hailed as Mexico's Napa Valley--with 60 recipes celebrating the laidback lifestyle found right across the border. Less than an hour's drive from San Diego, Baja California is an up-and-coming destination for tourists looking to experience the best of what Mexico has to offer. From Baja wine country to incredible seafood along the coast, Baja cuisine showcases grilled meats, freshly caught fish, and produce straight from the garden, all mingled with the salt spray of the Pacific Ocean. Inspired by the incredible local landscape and his food from the award-winning restaurant Fauna, star chef David Castro Hussong conducts a dreamy exploration of Baja cuisine featuring 60 recipes ranging from street food such as Grilled Halibut Tacos and Chicharrones to more refined dishes such as Grilled Steak in Salsa Negra and Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa. Each chapter opens with a hand-drawn map and gorgeous photographs of the region and profiles of top food purveyors are scattered throughout, bringing the spirit of Baja into your kitchen, no matter where you live"-- Provided by publisher.

Jones, Stephen Graham, 1972- author.

"A suburban town in Texas. Everyone's got an automatic garage door opener. All the kids jump off a perilous cliff into a shallow river as a rite of passage. The sheriff is a local celebrity. You know this town. You're from this town. Homecoming princess, Lindsay. She's just barely escaped death at the hands of a brutal, sadistic murderer in a Michael Jackson mask. Up on the cliff, she was rescued by a horse and bravely defeated the killer, alone, bra-less. Her story is already a legend. She's this town's heroic final girl, their virgin angel. Halloween masks floating down that same river the kids jump into. But just as one slaughter is not enough for Billie Jean, our masked killer, one victory is not enough for Lindsay. Her high school is full of final girls, and she's not the only one who knows the rules of the game. When Lindsay chooses a host of virgins, misfits, and former final girls to replace the slaughtered members of her original homecoming court, it's not just a fight for survival-it's a fight to become 'The Last Final Girl'"--Page 4 of cover.

Khan, Ausma Zehanat, author.

"On leave from Canada's Community Policing department, Esa Khattak is traveling in Iran, reconnecting with his cultural heritage and seeking peace in the country's beautiful mosques and gardens. But Khattak's supposed break from work is cut short when he's approached by a Canadian government agent in Iran, asking him to look into the death of renowned Canadian-Iranian filmmaker Zahra Sobhani. Zahra was murdered at Iran's notorious Evin prison, where she'd been seeking the release of a well-known political prisoner. Khattak quickly finds himself embroiled in Iran's tumultuous politics and under surveillance by the regime, but when the trail leads back to Zahra's family in Canada, Khattak calls on his partner, Detective Rachel Getty, for help. Rachel uncovers a conspiracy linked to the Shah of Iran and the decades-old murders of a group of Iran's most famous dissidents. Historic letters, a connection to the Royal Ontario Museum, and a smuggling operation on the Caspian Sea are just some of the threads Rachel and Khattak begin unraveling, while the list of suspects stretches from Tehran to Toronto. But as Khattak gets caught up in the fate of Iran's political prisoners, Rachel sees through to the heart of the matter: Zahra's murder may not have been a political crime at all. From Ausma Zehanat Khan, the critically acclaimed author of The Unquiet Dead and The Language of Secrets, comes another powerful novel exploring the interplay of politics and religion, and the intensely personal ripple effects of one woman's murder" --Publisher description.

Kuang, R. F. (Rebecca F.), author.

A war orphan rises from her humble beginnings to become a powerful military commander, and perhaps her country's only hope for survival.

Laurain, Antoine, author.

"When Hubert Larnaudie invites some fellow residents of his Parisian apartment building to drink an exceptional bottle of 1954 Beaujolais, he has no idea of its special properties. The following morning, Hubert finds himself waking up in 1950s Paris, as do antique restorer Magalie, mixologist Julien, and Airbnb tenant Bob from Milwaukee, who's on his first trip to Europe. After their initial shock, the city of Edith Piaf and An American in Paris begins to work its charm on them. The four delight in getting to know the French capital during this iconic period, whilst also playing with the possibilities that time travel allows. But, ultimately, they need to work out how to get back to 2017, and time is of the essence..."--Provided by publisher.

Lepionka, Kristen, author.

"Nobody knows what happened to Sarah Cook. The beautiful blonde teenager disappeared fifteen years ago, the same night her parents were brutally murdered in their suburban Ohio home. Her boyfriend Brad Stockton--black and from the wrong side of the tracks--was convicted of the murders and is now on death row. Though he's maintained his innocence all along, the clock is running out. His execution is only weeks away when his devoted sister insists she spied Sarah at an area gas station. Willing to try anything, she hires PI Roxane Weary to look at the case and see if she can locate Sarah. Brad might be in a bad way, but private investigator Roxane Weary isn't doing so hot herself. Still reeling from the recent death of her cop father in the line of duty, her main way of dealing with her grief has been working as little and drinking as much as possible. But Roxane finds herself drawn in to the story of Sarah's vanishing act, especially when she links the disappearance to one of her father's unsolved murder cases involving another teen girl. The stakes get higher as Roxane discovers that the two girls may not be the only beautiful blonde teenagers who've turned up missing or dead. As her investigation gets darker and darker, Roxane will have to risk everything to find the truth. Lives depend on her cracking this case--hers included" --Publisher description.

Lewis, Linden A., 1988- author.

"Combining the social commentary of The Handmaid's Tale with the white-knuckled thrills of Red Rising, this epic space opera follows a comfort woman as she claims her agency, a soldier questioning his allegiances, and a non-binary hero out to save the solar system. First Sister has no name and no voice. As a priestess of the Sisterhood, she travels the stars alongside the soldiers of Earth and Mars-the same ones who own the rights to her body and soul. When her former captain abandons her, First Sister's hopes for freedom are dashed when she is forced to stay on her ship with no friends, no power, and a new captain-Saito Ren-whom she knows nothing about. She is commanded to spy on Captain Ren by the Sisterhood, but soon discovers that working for the war effort is so much harder to do when you're falling in love. Lito val Lucius climbed his way out of the slums to become an elite soldier of Venus, but was defeated in combat by none other than Saito Ren, resulting in the disappearance of his partner, Hiro. When Lito learns that Hiro is both alive and now a traitor to the cause, he now has a shot at redemption: track down and kill his former partner. But when he discovers recordings that Hiro secretly made, Lito's own allegiances are put to the test. Ultimately, he must decide between following orders and following his heart. A stunning and sweeping debut novel that explores the power of technology, colonization, race, and gender, The First Sister is perfect for fans of James S.A. Corey, Chuck Wendig, and Margaret Atwood."-- Provided by publisher.

Liu, Aimee, author.

"It's 1942. The Japanese have invaded Burma and are closing in on India. After five years in the remote Andaman Islands, aspiring anthropologist Claire Durant and her husband Shep, a civil surgeon, must evacuate with their beloved but mysteriously mute four-year-old, Ty. They cannot, however, take Naila, the local girl whose ability to communicate with Ty has made them dangerously dependent on her. The morning of the evacuation, both children disappear. With time running out, Shep forces Claire onto the ship while he stays behind to find their son. But just days after landing in Calcutta, Claire learns that the Japanese have taken the Andamans-and cut off all access to her missing family. In the desperate odyssey that follows, Claire, Shep, and Naila will all take unimaginable risks while drawing deeply from their knowledge of these unique islands to save their beloved "glorious boy.""-- Provided by publisher.

Liu, Ken, 1976-

Presents the author's selection of his best short stories, as well as a new piece, in a collection that includes "The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary," "Mono No Aware" and "The Waves."

Martine, Arkady, author.

"During a time of political instability in the highest echelons of the imperial court, Ambassador Mahit Dzmare arrives in the center of the multi-system Teixcalaanli Empire only to discover that her predecessor, the previous ambassador from their small but fiercely independent mining Station, has died. But no one will admit that his death wasn't an accident--or that Mahit might be next to die. Now Mahit must discover who is behind the murder, rescue herself, and save her Station from Teixcalaan's unceasing expansion--all while navigating an alien culture that is all too seductive, engaging in intrigues of her own, and hiding a deadly technological secret--one that might spell the end of her Station and her way of life--or rescue it from annihilation"--From publisher.

Moore, Kate (Writer and editor), author.

As World War I raged across the globe, hundreds of young women toiled away at the radium-dial factories, where they painted clock faces with a mysterious new substance called radium. Assured by their bosses that the luminous material was safe, the women themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered from head to toe with the glowing dust. With such a coveted job, these "shining girls" were considered the luckiest alive--until they began to fall mysteriously ill. As the fatal poison of the radium took hold, they found themselves embroiled in one of America's biggest scandals and a groundbreaking battle for workers' rights. The Radium Girls explores the strength of extraordinary women in the face of almost impossible circumstances and the astonishing legacy they left behind.

Moreno-Garcia, Silvia, author.

Antonina Beaulieu is in the glittering city of Loisail for her first Grand Season, where she will attend balls and mingle among high society in hopes of landing a suitable husband. But Antonina is telekinetic, and strange events in her past have made her the subject of malicious gossip and hardly a sought-after bride. Now, under the tutelage of her cousin's wife, she is finally ready to shed the past and learn the proper ways of society. Antonina, who prefers her family's country home to the glamorous ballrooms of the wealthy, finds it increasingly difficult to conform to society's ideals for women, especially when she falls under the spell of the dazzling telekinetic performer Hector Auvray. As their romance blossoms, and he teaches her how to hone and control her telekinetic gift, she can't help but feel a marriage proposal is imminent. Little does Antonina know that Hector and those closest to her are hiding a devastating secret that will crush her world and force her to confront who she really is and what she's willing to sacrifice.

Nguyễn, Phan Quế Mai, 1973- author.

"The multigenerational tale of the Trà̂n family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trà̂n Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that will tear not just her beloved country but her family apart"-- Provided by publisher.

O'Malley, Daniel.

A high-ranking member of a secret organization that battles supernatural forces wakes up in a London park with no memory, no idea who she is, and with a letter that provides instructions to help her uncover a far-reaching conspiracy.

Pelevin, Viktor
Prentiss, Molly, author.

A "debut novel that follows a critic, an artist, and a desirous, determined young woman as they find their way--and ultimately collide--amid the ever-evolving New York City art scene of the 1980s--Amazon.com.

Prescott, Lara, author.

At the height of the Cold War, two secretaries are pulled out of the typing pool at the CIA and given the assignment of a lifetime. Their mission: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR, where no one dare publish it, and help Pasternak's magnum opus make its way into print around the world. Glamorous and sophisticated Sally Forrester is a seasoned spy who has honed her gift for deceit all over the world -- using her magnetism and charm to pry secrets out of powerful men. Irina is a complete novice, but under Sally's tutelage quickly learns how to blend in, make drops, and invisibly ferry classified documents. Their story is intertwined with that of the decades-long affair between Pasternak and his mistress and muse, Olga Ivinskaya, who was sent to the Gulag and inspired Zhivago's heroine, Lara.

Roberts, Callum, author.

A memoir by the world's leading coral reef scientist, revealing the thrill of diving and the vital science and story of these majestic reefs.

Sager, Riley, author.
Serle, Rebecca, author.

"When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend's marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan. But when she wakes up, she's suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It's the same night -December 15 -but 2025, five years in the future. After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can't shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn't the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind. That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision."--Publisher website.

Shaffer, Andrew, author.

"Vice President Joe Biden is fresh out of the Obama White House and feeling adrift when his favorite railroad conductor dies in a suspicious accident, leaving behind an ailing wife and a trail of clues. To unravel the mystery, "Amtrak Joe" re-teams with the only man he's ever fully trusted: the 44th president of the United States. Together they'll plumb the darkest corners of Delaware, traveling from cheap motels to biker bars and beyond, as they uncover the sinister forces advancing America's opioid epidemic"--Provided by publisher.

Sibley, David, 1961- author, illustrator.

"'Can birds smell?' 'Is this the same cardinal that was at my feeder last year?' 'Do robins "hear" worms?' In [this book], David Sibley answers the most frequently asked questions about the birds we see most often. This special, large-format volume is geared as much to nonbirders as it is to the out-and-out obsessed, covering more than two hundred species and including more than 330 new illustrations by the author"--Publisher marketing.

Van Hemert, Caroline, author.

Documents the biologist adventurer's treks in the vast wilderness region spanning the Pacific rainforest through the Alaskan Arctic, where she and her husband tested their physical boundaries while making profound natural-world connections.

Wells, Martha, author.

"When Murderbot's human associates (not friends, never friends) are captured and another not-friend from its past requires urgent assistance, Murderbot must choose between inertia and drastic action"-- From publisher's description.

Wilson, G. Willow, 1982- author.

Documents the author's conversion from all-American atheist to Islam, a journey marked by her decision to relocate to Cairo, romance with a passionate young Egyptian, and her efforts to balance the virtues of both cultures.