New Books for the Week of 9/19/16

New this week at the MA Library: monstrous serial killers, teenage girls saving the world, glimpses of ancient empires and future tech, and so much more…

 

Fiction

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
Iris Chase Griffin, an elderly widow and sole survivor of a once wealthy and influential family in Ontario, Canada, recounts the deaths of her husband and sister in the 1940s. In 1945, her sister Laura died when the breaks on her car failed, but Iris believes it was suicide. Two years later her husband was found dead on a sailboat. Woven between the two tales is a novel-within-a-novel. A pair of lovers whose names we never learn improvise a science fiction story, “The Blind Assassin,” while meeting in dingy backstreet rooms. As the three stories unfold they begin to reveal the secrets of the Chase family.

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
When a horrifying crime scene unfolds in Detroit – the body of an 11-year-old boy is found fused together with a fawn – a detective and her daughter, a journalist, an artist, and a homeless man all deal with the ramifications of it in their own haunted ways. Detective Versado struggles to investigate under the harsh glare of media exposure and journalist Jonno Haim uses the opportunity to make a name for himself. Meanwhile, Versado’s teenage daughter and her friend set up honeypot schemes to trap online pedophiles. Sculptor Clayton Broom is terrorized by nightmarish hallucinations made real, and those visions attack TK, a vagrant tormented by his violent childhood. As the mutilated corpses pile up, the five perspectives intertwine.

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him. Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there? Solomon is the answer. Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, sitting through Star Trek marathons with him and introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they’d be, and when their walls fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well. This coming-of-age tale showcases the different ways we hide ourselves from the world – and how love, tragedy, and the need for connection may be the only things to bring us back into the light.

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
Gottie’s heart has been broken three times. One, when her best friend moved away without saying goodbye. Two, when her beloved grandfather died. Three, when her first love wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral. As Gottie spirals deeper into grief, her past literally comes back to haunt her when she is inexplicably sent back in time to good memories and bad, revisiting afternoons of kisses and days she wanted to forget forever. This summer, Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide – and she’s the only one who can figure out why.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace – and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox – possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

 

Comic Books

Lumberjanes vol 1: “Beware the Kitten Holy” by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, and Brooke Allen
“Friendship to the max!” is the slogan for this comic book. The five teen girls at the heart of the story, Mal, Ripley, Molly, Jo, and April, are the bestest of besties. The girls are all away at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet, a summer camp for Lumberjane Scouts (similar to Girl Scouts). In the woods around their camp lurks malevolent monsters, magical beasts, and secret caves. The girls explore the deepest parts of the forest and must solve puzzles and mysteries using friendship and intellect.

Midnighter vol 1: “Out” by Steve Orlando and Aco
Midnighter is a gay superhuman with super strength, genius intellect, and the ability to predict every possible outcome of a fight before the fight even starts. He is sarcastic, violent, and on the prowl for both his nemesis and a hot date. The man formerly known as Lucas Trent must track down the thief who stole valuable and dangerous technology from the God Garden before he can use it to create a being even more powerful and unstoppable than Midnighter. Not only that, but he must also come to terms with his recent painful breakup with his boyfriend Apollo, another superhero, accept his traumatic past, and learn to accept himself as man he really is rather than who he wishes he was. Dick Grayson makes a few appearances to assist Midnighter in battling his enemies.

Paper Girls vol 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang
It’s dawn the morning after Halloween in 1988, and 12-year-old Erin has just started her newspaper delivery route in her residential neighborhood in Cleveland. Three other girls, Mac, Tiffany, and K.J., team up with her, but what is supposed to be an easy route becomes a life-threatening experience. All of a sudden their neighbors and family members vanish right before their eyes. The girls are caught between two vicious factions of sinister, murderous humanoid beings: one a race of technologically advanced yet linguistically anachronistic adults, the other rebellious teenagers determined to crush the adults’ power hierarchy. They don’t know if the creatures are from an alternate reality or an alternate future, but the fate of the world is in the girls’ hands.

Saga vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
This epic fantasy/space opera stars two lovers from enemy worlds. Alana is from Landfall, a technologically advanced world at war with Wreath, a planet fueled by magic and Marko’s homeworld. The couple flee the war and raise their daughter, Hazel, but are pursued by assassins, killers, enemy kingdoms, and people from their past. Sent to capture them is The Will, a hired mercenary, and his Lying Cat. Along the way he rescues a young victim of sex trafficking and teams up with Marko’s ex-girlfriend. Prince Robot IV, from a race of beings with televisions for heads, is also on the hunt for Alana and Marko. Protecting the desperate family is a spaceship made from a living tree and the ghost of a girl killed by a landmine left behind when the war came to her planet. Saga is a story about the importance of family, the devastation of war, and the cruelties of intolerance.

Y: The Last Man book 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
In the summer of 2002, a plague suddenly kills every living creature on the planet with a Y chromosome, all except for a young man named Yorick Brown and his male pet monkey, Ampersand. Yorick is determined to locate his girlfriend, who had been traveling through Australia when the world fell apart, but everyone else wants him, too. Some women want him dead to finish off what the plague did not, other want to use him to repopulate the planet, while others wish to experiment on him to unlock a cure. Several women aid him along the way, including the mysterious Agent 355 and Dr. Alison Mann, who may have more to do with the plague than she realizes. The story hits on the themes of sexual and gender identity and intersectional feminism from a post apocalyptic perspective.

 

Non-Fiction

Beyond: Our Future in Space by Chris Impey
Examines the history of astronautics, the science behind interstellar and interplanetary travel, and how humans might expand on space exploration in the future. Includes discussions of commercial space travel, robotics, asteroid mining, and establishing colonies on the moon and Mars.

China’s Wars: Rousing the Dragon 1849-1949 by Philip Jowett
Presents a history of the political conflicts in China from the end of the Qing (Machu) Dynasty and the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Includes information on the Boxer Rebellion, warlords, Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek, the National Revolutionary Army, the Imperial army, the Japanese occupation of Manchuria (Manchukuo), Beijing (Peking), the People’s Liberation Army, Mao Zedong, Sun Yat-sen, weaponry, foreign relations and more.

The Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty by Vikram Chandra
Describes the unique relationship between art and technology from the perspective of a novelist and computer programmer. Chandra discusses the creativity and detail used in coding and compares it to similar techniques in the craft of writing. He also delves into the machismo of tech geeks, logic gates, literary modernism, the “Indian Mafia” of Silicon Valley, and the writings of Abhinavagupta and Anandavardhana. It is a memoir of his life as a coder, an essay on literature, and discussion on technology.

Heart of Europe: A History of the Holy Roman Empire by Peter H. Wilson
Describes the history of the Holy Roman Empire from its origins in Charlemagne’s kingdom in 800 to its demise in 1806. He traces the borders of the Empire through kingdoms in Germany, France, Denmark, Italy, and Poland and the religious as social conflicts that arose, including the Sack of Rome in 1527. Includes political and historical maps as well as family trees of the European monarchies and dynasties the Carolingians, Ottonians, Salians, Stauffers and Welfs, Luxembourgs, and Hapsburgs.

The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech by Kimberley Strassel
Presents a noted criticism of the American Left for its reaction to changes in campaign finance laws. Includes information on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, disclosure laws, corporations, the First Amendment, the Freedom of Information Act, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Tea Party, the Obama administration, Congress, and more.

Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality by Debbie Cenziper and Jim Obergefell
Presents a detailed account of the 2015 Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same sex marriage in the United States.

Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle That Brought Down the Klan by Laurence Leamer
Describes the events and consequences of the 1981 lynching in Mobile, Alabama, of 19-year-old African American Michael Donald by Henry Hays and James Knowles, members of the KKK and the United Klans of America. After Hays was sentenced to death, Morris Dees, the cofounder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, sued UKA for conspiracy, forcing the leaders of the Klan to testify in court. Dees eventually won the case and set a precedent for future lawsuits against other racist organizations.

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard
Presents a political, social, and military history of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. Includes information on animals, Mark Antony, the army, Augustus, bars, baths, Julius Caesar, Carthage and the Punic Wars, children, Cicero, coinage, The Social War, consulship, disease, the economy, food and dining, the Roman Forum, funerals, gambling, gladiators, Hadrian, Hannibal, housing, the Jewish Revolt, Juvenal, Livy, Marcus Aurelius, marriage and weddings, Nero, Octavian, Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger, Pompeii, religion, Romulus and Remus, the Senate, slavery, taxation, Trajan, Virgil, women, and more.

This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress by John Brockman
Profiles the views of 175 of the world’s most influential scientists, economists, artists, and philosophers as to what scientific ideas should be retired. Topics include IQ, brain plasticity, the Big Bang, infinity, string theory, wave function, quantum jumps, race, human nature, essentialism, atheism, spacetime, free will, random mutations, innateness, instinct, Big Data, left brain and right brain, time, scientific morality, culture, geometry, calculus, statistical significance, and more.

Vietnam: A New History by Christopher Goscha
Describes the history of Vietnam from antiquity to modern day, including periods when it was ruled or colonized by Japan, France, and China. However, much of the book focuses on the colonial, postcolonial, Vietnam War, Cold War, and modern eras. It also includes geographic and political maps of mainland Southeast Asia, the area formerly known as Indochina.

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O’Neil
Offers a critique of the use of mathematical algorithms to quantify social and cultural traits. O’Neil discusses how Big Data can affect democracy and intellectual freedom, as well as what the level of responsibility is for modelers and policy makers.


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