May 5, 2016 by Reader's Connection
• The Crow Girl is a Swedish crime novel by Erik Axl Sund, and it is due to go on sale in June of this year.
• The book has been translated into English by Neil Smith.
• It was originally three novels, which have been combined into a 750-page epic of abuse and torture and murder.
• Erik Axl Sund is really two different authors, Jerker Eriksson and Håkan Sundquist.
• If you see the authors on the street, they are usually clean-shaven and dressed in ties & jackets; but the marketing department decided that The Crow Girl sales would go up if the authors looked like they do in this picture.
• I made that last one up. I have no idea how these guys usually dress.
• On at least three occasions, I put The Crow Girl down, saying that I couldn’t read any more.
• For the last few hundred pages, I couldn’t stop.
• Scandinavian crime fiction is a big draw, so this triple-decker might be a hit.
• You’re probably hoping for a description of what goes on in the book. I just now finished it, and am not sure what happened.
• I enjoy books where the identity of a character changes, and that happens a lot in The Crow Girl. Some characters even cease to exist, and I don’t mean the ones who are being murdered.
• I keep adding stuff that I have to delete so as to avoid revealing too much about these shifting characters.
• Do you enjoy having the rug pulled out from under you?
• If you read The Crow Girl, please answer this question with a comment: Who’s the guy who has a severe stomach problem near the end of the novel?
• I’m annoyed with the authors. I can’t go into detail, but Eriksson and Sundquist could have handled certain things differently, and their novel still would have packed a punch.
• Will there be Crow Girl survivor groups?
• If I’ve scared you away from this novel, but have inspired in you a deep desire to read something about crows, here are a couple of poems. I was pushing Frank Lima’s “Heckyll & Jeckyll” during National Poetry Month, and Marilyn Nelson’s “Crows” came in the mail yesterday (May 4th). You might need to re-read the poem if you’re confused by her use of is as a noun.
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An interview with the Manager of the Beech Grove Public Library (soon to be the Manager of the Beech Grove Branch of IndyPL)
May 2, 2016 by Reader's Connection
On June 1, the Beech Grove Public Library will merge with the Indianapolis Public Library.
Here’s a YouTube of the IndyPL Library Board voting to approve the merger, a few words from IndyPL Board President Dr. David W. Wantz, and an interview with Beech Grove Public Library Manager Elizabeth Schoettle, who will be the Manager of the Beech Grove Branch of IndyPL.
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April 28, 2016 by Reader's Connection
From Selector Jessica Lawrence: Considering the latest season of the acclaimed cold-war-era television series, The Americans, has just premiered, and the big-screen adaptation of Bridge of Spies came away with an Oscar this year, it seems we just can’t get enough Cold War drama these days. If you’re looking for more drama and espionage in your reading life, check out these titles that might just satisfy.
Publisher descriptions provided below.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – John le Carré
Featuring George Smiley, this New York Times bestseller is the first installment in John le Carré’s acclaimed Karla Trilogy. From the author of A Delicate Truth and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. The man he knew as “Control” is dead, and the young Turks who forced him out now run the Circus. But George Smiley isn’t quite ready for retirement—especially when a pretty, would-be defector surfaces with a shocking accusation: a Soviet mole has penetrated the highest level of British Intelligence. Relying only on his wits and a small, loyal cadre, Smiley recognizes the hand of Karla—his Moscow Centre nemesis—and sets a trap to catch the traitor. The Oscar-nominated feature film adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy features Gary Oldman as Smiley, Academy Award winner Colin Firth, and Tom Hardy.
Iron Curtain – Anne Applebaum
In the long-awaited follow-up to her Pulitzer Prize-winning Gulag, acclaimed journalist Anne Applebaum delivers a groundbreaking history of how Communism took over Eastern Europe after World War II and transformed in frightening fashion the individuals who came under its sway.
The Hunt for Red October – Tom Clancy
Here is the runaway bestseller that launched Tom Clancy’s phenomenal career. A military thriller so gripping in its action and so convincing in its accuracy that the author was rumored to have been debriefed by the White House. Its theme: the greatest espionage coup in history. Its story: the chase for a top secret Russian missile sub. In 1990 the book was made into a film starring Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery.
Audiobook on CD (On order)
The Manchurian Candidate – Richard Condon
The classic novel of espionage and intrigue. Sgt Raymond Shaw is a hero of the first order. He’s an ex-prisoner of war who saved the life of his entire outfit, a winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the stepson of an influential senator…and the perfect assassin. Brainwashed during his time as a POW he is a ‘sleeper’, a living weapon to be triggered by a secret signal. He will act without question, no matter what order he is made to carry out. To stop Shaw, his former commanding officer must uncover the truth behind a twisted conspiracy of torture, betrayal and power that will lead to the highest levels of the government.
From Russia with Love – Ian Fleming
James Bond is marked for death by the Soviet counterintelligence agency SMERSH in Ian Fleming’s masterful spy thriller, and the novel that President John F. Kennedy named one of his favorite books of all time. SMERSH stands for “Death to Spies” and there’s no secret agent they’d like to disgrace and destroy more than 007, James Bond. But ensnaring the British Secret Service’s most lethal operative will require a lure so tempting even he can’t resist. Enter Tatiana Romanova, a ravishing Russian spy whose “defection” springs a trap designed with clockwork precision. Her mission: seduce Bond, then flee to the West on the Orient Express. Waiting in the shadows are two of Ian Fleming’s most vividly drawn villains: Red Grant, SMERSH’s deadliest assassin, and the sinister operations chief Rosa Klebb—five feet four inches of pure killing power. Bursting with action and intrigue, From Russia with Love is one of the best-loved books in the Bond canon—an instant classic that set the standard for sophisticated literary spycraft for decades to come.
The Billion Dollar Spy – David E. Hoffman
Leaving the American embassy in Moscow one evening in 1978, the CIA station chief heard a knock on his car window and was handed an envelope containing Soviet military technology research unknown to U.S. intelligence. Over the years, Soviet engineer Adolf Tolkachev handed over tens of thousands of pages of secrets, allowing America to reshape its weapons systems to defeat Soviet radar. Hoffman’s compelling account unfolds like an espionage thriller.
You Are One of Them – Elliott Holt
Sarah Zuckerman and Jennifer Jones are best friends in an upscale part of Washington, D.C., in the politically charged 1980’s. Sarah is the shy, wary product of an unhappy home: her father abandoned the family to return to his native England; her agoraphobic mother is obsessed with fears of nuclear war. Jenny is an all-American girl who has seemingly perfect parents. With Cold War rhetoric reaching a fever pitch in 1982, the ten-year-old girls write letters to Soviet premier Yuri Andropov asking for peace. But only Jenny’s letter receives a response, and Sarah is left behind when her friend accepts the Kremlin’s invitation to visit the USSR and becomes an international media sensation.
Bridge of Spies – Giles Whittell
Bridge of Spies is the true story of three extraordinary characters – William Fisher, alias Rudolf Abel, a British born KGB agent arrested by the FBI in New York City and jailed as a Soviet superspy for trying to steal America’s most precious nuclear secrets; Gary Powers, the American U-2 pilot who was captured when his plane was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission over the closed cities of central Russia; and Frederic Pryor, a young American graduate student in Berlin mistakenly identified as a spy, arrested and held without charge by the Stasi, East Germany’s secret police. Bridge of Spies vividly traces how their fate helped to define the conflicts and lethal undercurrents of the most dangerous years of the Cold War.
Drawing on newly declassified files, this is the story of how a book forbidden in the Soviet Union became a secret CIA weapon in the ideological battle between East and West. In May 1956, an Italian publishing scout paid a visit to Russia’s greatest living poet, Boris Pasternak. He left carrying the manuscript of Pasternak’s first and only novel, entrusted to him with these words: “This is Doctor Zhivago. May it makes its way around the world.” Pasternak believed his novel would never be published in the Soviet Union, where the authorities regarded it as irredeemable–but he thought it stood a chance in the West and, indeed, it was widely published in translation. Then the CIA smuggled a Russian-language edition into the Soviet Union. Copies were sold on the black market and passed surreptitiously from friend to friend, and Pasternak found himself in no small trouble. But his funeral in 1960 was attended by thousands of admirers who defied their government in order to bid him farewell. The example he set launched the great tradition of the Soviet writer-dissident.
Superman: Red Son – Mark Millar
Imagine a reality where the world’s most powerful super-being does not grow up in Smallville, Kansas – or even America, for that matter… Superman: Red Son is a vivid graphic novel of Cold War paranoia that reveals how the ship carrying the infant who would later be known as Superman lands in the midst of the 1950s Soviet Union. Raised on a collective, the infant grows up and becomes a symbol to the Soviet people, and the world changes drastically from what we know – bringing Superman into conflict with Batman, Lex Luthor and many others.
The Russian Affair – Michael Wallner
When Anna begins an affair with the powerful Soviet official, Alexey Bulyagkov, her life begins to look a little bit brighter. But soon her romance comes to the notice of the KGB, and she’s forced to spy on him to protect her family.
You can check out all of these titles and more at the Indianapolis Public Library!
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April 25, 2016 by Reader's Connection
William Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist scared me, but only because my father had told me that an acquaintance of his had been consulted at the time of the real-life exorcism on which the novel was based. The book was badly written, and if not for its real-world springboard I probably wouldn’t have finished the thing.
Now we have Grady Hendrix’s new novel My Best Friend’s Exorcism, about two girls in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1980’s. Gretchen’s parents are well-to-do, and Abby’s parents are struggling, but the girls manage to become best friends. When Gretchen embarks on some strange behavior, Abby wants to help.
This novel is loaded with occurrences so icky that they rival the famous head-spinning and vomiting in Blatty; but Hendrix’s book is also funny, and charged with the strangeness that occurs during adolescence, with or without demons. We read about locker-room cruelty, cafeteria cliques, drug experiments, shifts in popularity, the different quantities of makeup that girls wear–and if you throw in a being from the underworld (whose name I was going to print here, but have decided against it) adolescence actually gets worse.
Hendrix’s earlier novel, which I haven’t read, was the well-received Horrorstör, set in an IKEA-like furniture outlet. That might make you smile, and you might decide that the possession story in My Best Friend’s Exorcism is a metaphorical joke about the transformations that teenagers go through. But whether I was laughing or cringing, the story held me.
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April 20, 2016 by Reader's Connection
We are two-thirds of the way through National Poetry Month, and tomorrow is Poem in Your Pocket Day. And Saturday will be the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. I’m all a-flutter. But back to earth. Here are the May book discussions. (The Warren group will once again convene at Irvington.)
Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics will be discussed at the Wayne Library on Monday, May 2nd at 6:30 p.m.
If Jesse Owens is rightfully the most famous American athlete of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, repudiating Adolf Hitler’s notion of white supremacy by winning gold in four events, the gold-medal-winning effort by the eight-man rowing team from the University of Washington remains a remarkable story. It encompasses the convergence of transcendent British boatmaker George Pocock; the quiet yet deadly effective UW men’s varsity coach, Al Ulbrickson; and an unlikely gaggle of young rowers who would shine as freshmen, then grow up together, a rough-and-tumble bunch, writes Brown, not very worldly, but earnest and used to hard work. Brown takes enough time to profile the principals in this story while using the 1936 games and Hitler’s heavy financial and political investment in them to pull the narrative along. In doing so, he offers a vivid picture of the socioeconomic landscape of 1930s America (brutal), the relentlessly demanding effort required of an Olympic-level rower, the exquisite brainpower and materials that go into making a first-rate boat, and the wiles of a coach who somehow found a way to, first, beat archrival University of California, then conquer a national field of qualifiers, and finally, defeat the best rowing teams in the world. A book that informs as it inspires. — Booklist
The Franklin Road Library will host of discussion of Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune, by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. on Monday May 2nd at 6:30 p.m.
Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr., a cousin of the book’s subject, reconstruct the life of reclusive copper heiress Huguette Clark (1906-2011) in this riveting biography. The authors bring Huguette’s odd past into clear perspective, including the hilariously corrupt political schemes of her father, W.A. Clark, who was a Montana senator. Though less celebrated than his compatriots Rockefeller and Carnegie, W.A. Clark was at a time wealthier than they, and by extension, so was his daughter. She was a regular in the society pages during her youth and even married for a short time, Clark later slipped into her own world and stayed there, quietly buying multi-million dollar homes for her dolls. Kind and unspeakably generous to those who worked for her and usually suspicious of family, she wrote a few big checks to people she hardly knew. Other family acquisitions, valuable musical instruments and jewelry among them, she simply gave away. The authors provide a thrilling study of the responsibilities and privileges that come with great wealth and draw the reader into the deliciously scandalous story of Clark’s choices in later life, the question of Clark’s presence of mind always at issue. Hewn from Huguette’s stories, purchases, phone calls, gifts, and letters, the tale of where and how Huguette Clark found happiness will entrance anyone. — Publishers Weekly
Also on Monday the 2nd at 6:30: The Cooking Chats at Glendale Library will focus on Kitchen Chemistry: the Science of Cooking.
The featured books are Jeff Potter’s Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, Good Food (which is also available as a a downloadable e-book) and The Science of Good Cooking from America’s Test Kitchen.
According to librarian Jan Swan: “Its really fascinating. They’re all about the roles of salt, sugar in cooking and preserving and the difference between baking powder and baking soda plus lots of other stuff.”
David Brown’s Tchaikovsky: The Man and His Music will be discussed at Central Library on Tuesday, May 3rd at 6:00 p.m. Special guest will be Mike Muszynski, bassoonist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
A leading authority on Tchaikovsky, Brown previously aimed his work at specialists–see Tchaikovsky , his four-volume life-work study published in the 1980s and 1990s by Norton. Here, in a completely innovative approach to the composer, he combines a music appreciation course with a biographical study that is intermixed with discussions of Tchaikovsky’s music. The reader is given basic instructions for listening to music in general, as well as specific directions for the various compositions that are discussed; the pieces are even rated (one to five stars) according to the author’s opinion of their value. The appendixes provide technical information about musical forms, the scale, and a glossary, but the amount of technical discussion is kept to a minimum. Brown’s analysis of the compositions is usually quite helpful, although sometimes markedly personal and often full of romantic fantasy. As a whole, the book is extremely well written, and the biographical parts are full of engrossing details. — Library Journal
The world’s strongest librarian is back! I mean the book. Josh Hanagarne’s The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family will be discussed by the Warren Library discussion group on Thursday, May 5th.
BUT WAIT! Due to ongoing construction at Warren, the discussion will take place at the Irvington Library, AND IT WILL BEGIN AT 12:30 p.m. Warren Manager Ruth Hans says “We’re trying to keep things as confused as possible to keep in line with the general spirit around here.”
Josh Hanagarne is a remarkable man. He is a librarian, a follower of the Mormon faith, has Tourette’s syndrome, and can deadlift 600 pounds. In this moving memoir, Hanagarne shows his readers what it is like to live with a severe form of Tourette’s and how, with patience, love, and support from his family, he was able to build a rich, full life. With the onset of Tourette’s, Hanagarne found a source of joy and delight and a welcome escape in books. He chronicles the increasing severity of his Tourette’s, which forces him to leave his Mormon mission early and affects his pursuit of higher education. Hanagarne is open about his struggles, from his questioning of his faith, through the difficulties in his marriage, to his dogged determination to challenge himself to persevere and become a librarian. Throughout, his optimism and amusing, self-deprecating sense of humor shine through. An excellent and uplifting story on accepting and coping with lifelong disabilities, of particular interest to librarians. — Booklist
From 10:00 to 11:30, attendees will read aloud (if they wish to), sample refreshments (if they wish to), and discuss. A poem will be read.
Tademy’s third riveting historical novel follows four generations of an African American family, starting in 1810 when the patriarch, Cow Tom, is born a slave in Alabama. Gifted not only in his handling of cattle but also in his way with language, Cow Tom is sold at a young age to a Creek Indian chief who uses Cow Tom’s skills to communicate with the U.S. military during the U.S.-Indian wars. Cow Tom, his wife, Amy, and their two young daughters, Rose and Elizabeth, are removed along with the rest of the Creeks to Indian Territory in what later becomes Oklahoma. After the Civil War, Cow Tom is named chief of the Creek freedmen, though the family still lives in dire conditions–11 people crammed into a 10-by-12-foot space, always facing disease. Their circumstances gradually improve until they own their own cattle ranch, though they are constantly threatened by white expansion westward. Each of the novel’s characters speaks in a compelling voice, especially Amy, the steadfast matriarch, and her granddaughter, Rose, to whom Tademy devotes the final third of her completely engrossing and historically accurate family saga, which in many ways mirrors her own family history. — Booklist
A novel to live in, learn from, and feel bereft over when the last page is turned, Doerr’s magnificently drawn story seems at once spacious and tightly composed. It rests, historically, during the occupation of France during WWII, but brief chapters told in alternating voices give the overall–and long–narrative a swift movement through time and events. We have two main characters, each one on opposite sides in the conflagration that is destroying Europe. Marie-Louise is a sightless girl who lived with her father in Paris before the occupation; he was a master locksmith for the Museum of Natural History. When German forces necessitate abandonment of the city, Marie-Louise’s father, taking with him the museum’s greatest treasure, removes himself and his daughter and eventually arrives at his uncle’s house in the coastal city of Saint-Malo. Young German soldier Werner is sent to Saint-Malo to track Resistance activity there, and eventually, and inevitably, Marie-Louise’s and Werner’s paths cross. It is through their individual and intertwined tales that Doerr masterfully and knowledgeably re-creates the deprived civilian conditions of war-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers. — Booklist
Mandel’s ambitious, magnificent fourth novel examines the collapse of civilization after a deadly flu wipes out most of the world’s population. Moving gracefully from the first days of the plague to years before it and decades after, Mandel anchors the story to Arthur Leander, a famous actor who dies of a heart attack while playing King Lear on stage. We see glimpses of Arthur’s life years before his passing: his doomed relationship with his first wife, the exploitation of an old friendship, his failings as a father. And then we follow characters whose lives Arthur touched in some way: the paramedic who tried to save him, his second ex-wife and their damaged son, the child actress who joins a traveling theater troupe-cum-orchestra. In this postpandemic time, people live in gas stations and motels, curate museums filled with cell phones and car engines, and treasure tabloids and comic books. One comic book gives the novel its title and encapsulates the longing felt by the survivors for the world they have lost.Mandel’s vision is not only achingly beautiful but also startlingly plausible, exposing the fragile beauty of the world we inhabit. — Booklist
On Monday, May 16th, at 6:00 p.m. the Nora Library‘s Cookbook Discussion Program will focus on cookbooks about cakes and pies. Find and read a cookbook that fits this theme, pick up a review form at Nora and bring it to the meeting. Feel free to make a recipe from the cookbook and bring samples to share.
Special guests will be Chefs Brad Nehrt and Karen Williams, Culinary Arts Instructors at the J. Everett Light Career Center.
Registration is required for this program. Please call 317-275-4472 or come to the library and sign up at the Information Desk.
Flounoy’s debut is a lively, thoroughly engaging family saga with a cast of fully realized characters. Francis and Viola Turner and their 13 children have lived in a house on Detroit’s East Side for more than 50 years. In its prime, Yarrow Street was a comfortable haven for black working-class homeowners. In 2008, after Detroit’s long economic depression, Francis has died and Viola is about to lose the house, the value of which has declined to less than the owed mortgage payments, and the siblings are faced with a difficult decision about the house’s fate. Flournoy focuses on three of the Turner siblings–Cha-Cha, the eldest son, who drove an 18-wheeler carrying Chryslers before an accident took him off the road; Troy, the youngest son, a policeman with an ambitious, illegal plan; and Lelah, the unstable youngest daughter, who has a gambling addiction. In addition to the pressing financial issue regarding their family home, the plot touches on the moral, emotional, marital, and psychological problems that affect the siblings. Flournoy evokes the intricacies of domestic situations and sibling relationships, depicting how each of the Turners’ lives has been shaped by the social history of their generation. — Publishers Weekly
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner McCullough exhibits his artist’s touch in re-creating the lives of the Wright brothers, their father, and their sister Katharine from historical documents. Mining their letters, notebooks, and diaries, McCullough shows the Wright brothers (snubbed by the British as mere bicycle mechanics) for the important technoscientists they were. With only high school educations, they personified self-reliance and ingenuity, making their own calculations and testing their mechanical skills as they experimented with gliders. Their solution to controlling the gliders’ flight was wing warping, enabling the gliders to bank like a bird’s wings. As early engine designers and mechanics, when they couldn’t find a light enough engine, they designed one that their mechanic built in six weeks. A few days after Langley’s $70,000 failure, the Wright brothers made several powered flights–for less than $1,000–to prove that humans could fly. When the US military rejected their services, the Wrights signed a contract with a French syndicate. From 1910 on, the brothers were much occupied by business and patent infringement lawsuits. Wilbur contracted typhoid and died in 1912, but Orville lived until 1948. The brothers were remarkable for their analytical minds, their skiIl as early pilots, and their brilliance as experimental scientists. This work is their great, eminently readable story. — Choice
Portal, the Indianapolis Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group, will meet at the Glendale Library on Sunday, May 22nd at 1:00 p.m.
This month’s theme: Clones, Copies, and Mirror Images
Evil twin? Enchanted reflection? Clone gone wrong? Bring your favorite stories with two – or more – versions of a single character!
The reviews for Go Set a Watchman available on our website are especially long and thoughtful, and I haven’t succeeded in excerpting them in a sensible way. Click here to read them.