New Releases Week of 08/05/2017

31434883Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman
Contemporary Fiction
Hardcover, 336 pages

Smart, warm, uplifting, the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes the only way to survive is to open her heart.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. That, combined with her unusual appearance (scarred cheek, tendency to wear the same clothes year in, year out), means that Eleanor has become a creature of habit (to say the least) and a bit of a loner. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kind of friends who rescue each other from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.


31706250New Boy (Hogarth Shakespeare)
by Tracy Chevalier
Historical Fiction
Hardcover, 192 pages

Arriving at his fifth school in as many years, a diplomat’s son, Osei Kokote, knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.
The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970’s suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practice a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Peeking over the shoulders of four 11 year olds Osei, Dee, Ian, and his reluctant girlfriend Mimi, Tracy Chevalier’s powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.


31625636We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe
by Jorge Cham, Daniel Whiteson
Nonfiction/Science
Hardcover, 336 pages

PHD Comics creator Jorge Cham and particle physicist Daniel Whiteson have teamed up to spelunk through the enormous gaps in our cosmological knowledge, armed with their popular infographics, cartoons, and unusually entertaining and lucid explanations of science.
In We Have No Idea, they explore the biggest unknowns in the universe, why these things are still mysteries, and what a lot of smart people are doing to figure out the answers (or at least ask the right questions). While they’re at it, they helpfully demystify many complicated things we do know about, from quarks and neutrinos to gravitational waves and exploding black holes. With equal doses of humor and delight, they invite us to see the universe as a vast expanse of mostly uncharted territory that’s still ours to explore.


31453065Scars of Independence: America’s Violent Birth
by Holger Hoock
Historical Nonfiction
Hardcover, 480 pages

A magisterial new work that rewrites the story of America’s founding.
The American Revolution is often portrayed as an orderly, restrained rebellion, with brave patriots defending their noble ideals against an oppressive empire. It’s a stirring narrative, and one the founders did their best to encourage after the war. But as historian Holger Hoock shows in this deeply researched and elegantly written account of America’s founding, the Revolution was not only a high-minded battle over principles, but also a profoundly violent civil war—one that shaped the nation, and the British Empire, in ways we have only begun to understand.
In Scars of Independence, Hoock writes the violence back into the story of the Revolution. American Patriots persecuted and tortured Loyalists. British troops massacred enemy soldiers and raped colonial women. Prisoners were starved on disease-ridden ships and in subterranean cells. African-Americans fighting for or against independence suffered disproportionately, and Washington’s army waged a genocidal campaign against the Iroquois. In vivid, authoritative prose, Hoock’s new reckoning also examines the moral dilemmas posed by this all-pervasive violence, as the British found themselves torn between unlimited war and restraint toward fellow subjects, while the Patriots documented war crimes in an ingenious effort to unify the fledgling nation.
For two centuries we have whitewashed this history of the Revolution. Scars of Independence forces a more honest appraisal, revealing the inherent tensions between moral purpose and violent tendencies in America’s past. In so doing, it offers a new origins story that is both relevant and necessary—an important reminder that forging a nation is rarely bloodless.


31449383Spies in the Family: An American Spymaster, His Russian Crown Jewel, and the Friendship That Helped End the Cold War
by Eva Dillon
Historical Nonfiction
Hardcover, 336 pages

A riveting true-life thriller and revealing memoir from the daughter of an American intelligence officer—the astonishing true story of two spies and their families on opposite sides of the Cold War.
In the summer of 1975, seventeen-year-old Eva Dillon was living in New Delhi with her family when her father was exposed as a CIA spy. Eva had long believed that her father was a U.S. State Department employee. She had no idea that he was handling the CIA’s highest-ranking double agent—Dmitri Fedorovich Polyakov—a Soviet general whose code name was TOPHAT. Dillon’s father and Polyakov had a close friendship that went back years, to their first meeting in Burma in the mid-1960s. At the height of the Cold War, the Russian double agent offered the CIA an unfiltered view into the vault of Soviet intelligence. His collaboration helped ensure that tensions between the two nuclear superpowers did not escalate into a shooting war.
Spanning fifty years and three continents, Spies in the Family is a deeply researched account of two families on opposite sides of the lethal espionage campaigns of the Cold War, and two men whose devoted friendship lasted a lifetime, until the devastating final days of their lives. With impeccable insider access to both families as well as knowledgeable CIA and FBI officers, Dillon goes beyond the fog of secrecy to craft an unforgettable story of friendship and betrayal, double agents and clandestine lives, that challenges our notions of patriotism, exposing the commonality between peoples of opposing political economic systems.
Both a gripping tale of spy craft and a moving personal story, Spies in the Family is an invaluable and heart-rending work.


31626660Woman No. 17
by Edan Lepucki
Mystery
Hardcover, 320 pages

A sinister, sexy noir about art, motherhood, and the intensity of female friendships, set in the posh hills above Los Angeles, from the New York Times bestselling author of California.
High in the Hollywood Hills, writer Lady Daniels has decided to take a break from her husband. She’s going to need a hand with her young son if she’s ever going to finish her memoir. In comes S., a magnetic young artist, who will live in the secluded guest house out back, care for Lady’s young toddler son, and keep a watchful eye on her older, teenage, one. S. performs her day job beautifully, quickly drawing the entire family into her orbit, and becoming a confidante for Lady. But as the summer wears on, S.’s connection to Lady’s older son takes a disturbing, and possibly destructive, turn. Lady and S. will move closer to one another as they both threaten to harm the things they hold most dear. Darkly comic, twisty and tense, this mesmerizing new novel defies expectation and proves Edan Lepucki to be one of the most talented and exciting voices of her generation.


32335977Saints for All Occasions
by J. Courtney Sullivan
Historical fiction
Hardcover, 352 pages

Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America.
Nora is the responsible sister; she’s shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn’t sure that she loves. Theresa is gregarious; she is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls on Dudley Street. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan—a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand.
Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family with four grown children: John, a successful, if opportunistic, political consultant; Bridget, privately preparing to have a baby with her girlfriend; Brian, at loose ends after a failed baseball career; and Patrick, Nora’s favorite, the beautiful boy who gives her no end of heartache. Estranged from her sister and cut off from the world, Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont. Until, after decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago.


 

 

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