Terrific new books continue to arrive


The calendar may have been turned to April when I was writing this, but three inches of snow had just fallen, and it felt like November. May hopefully will be the turning point for the weather and we finally will be able to enjoy the outdoors without wearing a heavy jacket (and boots and gloves and …). Those few lovely days when the temperature skimmed 70 degrees were such a tease – but also gave us a taste for sunny days to come! We are especially hoping for sunshine and good weather May 3 for the book sale by the Friends of the Middlebury Public Library!
In the meantime, we continue to get some terrific new books by your favorite authors – and you always can request a book if we don’t have your favorite. Few authors are as beloved – or as prolific – as Nora Roberts. I will admit to having read a few of her books – especially her trilogies – while on vacation. But don’t call me on that – her books are not meant to be deep-thinking literature, but a nice, relaxing type of escapism.
“The Collector” (ROB) is her newest stand-alone novel and if you want to read a light romance-cum-mystery, you may want to pick up this one. The central character has a terrific job: She is a professional up-scale house-sitter! She also is a freelance writer, but while she is house sitting in Manhattan, Lila witnesses a possible murder-suicide, and her life is never the same. Ash is the brother of the suicide who refuses to believe he would kill anyone and is dependent on Lila as the eye witness for proof. Together, they travel from Manhattan to Italy among the wealthy collectors of the world in search of the truth.
Quirky? “Cold Storage, Alaska” (STR) by John Straley is the name of the slowly dying town Clive returns to after a seven-year stint in jail. The quirkiness is in the fact that Clive can hear animals talking to him – guiding him. Or is he going crazy? I was giggling by the end of chapter one – and looking forward to the rest of the story. Quirky also describes all the weird – sorry, quirky – inhabitants of the town who seem to be waiting for something to happen. Or will the town just slowly fade away into oblivion? Don’t worry, all the threads to everyone’s stories are tied up in a neat bow by the end, but as with everything in life, enjoy the journey, not just the end.
Nevada Barr’s “Destroyer Angel” (BAR) is a much darker thriller. Anna Pigeon is back and taking a well-earned camping vacation with her friends. After a solo canoe trip, she returns to camp to discover her friends are being abducted and beaten by armed men. Staying hidden, she attempts to lure the bad guys away while protecting her friends and their teenage children. Tense and creepy, the tale takes place over one very violent day and winds up with a terrific and justified ending. Great writing, as always – absolutely chilling.
“Seating Arrangements” (SHI) by Maggie Shipstead earned the author many “finalists” and prizes for her first novel, and deservedly so, but “Astonish Me” (SHI) is just as breathtakingly beautiful. The tale has gorgeous, lyrical writing about Joan, a dancer who never will be a prima ballerina. She becomes involved with a Russian dancer, Arslan, when she helps him defect. The story juggles between that past affair and the present, as Joan’s son displays the gift of ballet and comes to idolize her former lover. Read this book, if only for the sheer joy of excellent writing.
Bruce Weber writes that “Life is a Wheel: Love, Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America” (796.609 WEB) to chronicle his trek by bike across the upper part of the United States. While I was expecting more introspection, it was pleasant to read a more upbeat retrospective of his thoughts about his life to that point. Nearing 60, he had been a writer for the New York Times (obituary). He chose to ride by himself. It is interesting to follow his route and meet the people he meets along the way as well as experience his anticipation of speaking with and seeing his girlfriend, Jan.
Spend a day “on the line” with Michael Gibney in “Sous Chef” (641.59 GIB). From suiting up in chef whites and blacks (like “working in pajamas”) in the morning, we follow the author for a typical day at an upscale New York City restaurant. As a sous chef, or second-in-command in the kitchen, the author takes us through the fast-paced lifestyle where one mistake (especially if the New York Times food editor is eating there!) could mean a real problem. Find out just what goes into preparing that delicious meal you are eating the next time you choose to eat in a restaurant.
So, were they actually prostitutes? Or just women who made such an impact in finance and society that men felt a need to degrade them? These and many other questions are raised about Victoria Woodhull and “Tennie” Claflin; forward-looking sisters in Victorian-era America. The book is “The Scarlet Sisters: Sex Suffrage and Scandal in the Gilded Age” (305.42 MAC) by Myra Macpherson. After a childhood spent one step ahead of the law as “spiritualists,” the sisters were, among other firsts, the first women to open their own brokerage firm. It’s a fascinating look at two women far ahead of their time.
Michael Lewis writes about the “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt” (332.6 LEW), a small group of financial whizzes who uncover the fact that the U.S. stock market has been rigged to benefit insiders and also is controlled by the big Wall Street banks. No, this isn’t a new thriller by Cussler, but a true account about men at the highest levels in our financial system and how this small group of morally correct financiers seek to right what they perceive as an unfair system.
Adult Services Librarian Donna Hine writes Library Lines once a month. If you have a topic you’d like her to cover, contact her at the library at 203-758-2436.


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