summer reading

The following titles – and more – will be on the shelves of Hartford Public Library, beginning June 12. If the title is not at your closest branch, place a hold and it will be delivered there for you. All our titles are in our catalog; you may search it at any time.
(Summaries from book vendors)

And Then We Danced by Henry Alford

Equal parts memoir and cultural history, from acclaimed comic stylist and professional hobbyist Henry Alford comes a hilarious journey through the world of dance that will inform, entertain and leave readers tapping their toes.

When Henry Alford wrote about his experience with a Zumba class for The New York Times, little did he realize that it was the start of something much bigger. Dance would grow and take on many roles for Henry: exercise, confidence builder, an excuse to travel, a source of ongoing wonder and—when he dances with Alzheimer’s patients—even a kind of community service.

Tackling a wide range of forms (including ballet, hip-hop, jazz, ballroom, tap, contact improvisation, Zumba, swing), this grand tour takes us through the works and careers of luminaries ranging from Bob Fosse to George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp to Arthur Murray. Rich in insight and humor, Alford mines both personal experience and fascinating cultural history to offer a witty and ultimately moving portrait of how dance can express all things human. (Downtown)

 

The Bone and Sinew of the Land by Anna-Lisa Cox

The American frontier is one of our most cherished and enduring national images. We think of the early pioneers who settled the wilderness as courageous, independent–and white.
This version of history is simply wrong. Starting in our nation’s earliest years, thousands of free African Americans were building hundreds of settlements in the Northwest Territory, a territory that banned slavery and gave equal voting rights to all men. This groundbreaking work of research reveals the lost history of the nation’s first Great Migration. Though forgotten today, these pioneers were a matter of national importance at the time; their mere existence leading to fierce political movements and battles that tore families and communities apart long before the Civil War erupted.
The Bone and Sinew of the Land is a story with its roots in the ideals of the American Revolution, a story of courageous pioneers transformed by the belief that all men are created equal, seeking a brighter future on the American frontier. (Albany and Downtown)

The Debatable Land by Graham Robb

Two years ago, Graham Robb moved to a lonely house on the very edge of England, near the banks of a river that once marked the southern boundary of the legendary Debatable Land. The oldest detectable territorial division in Great Britain, the Debatable Land served as a buffer between Scotland and England. It was once the bloodiest region in the country, fought over by Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and James V. After most of its population was slaughtered or deported, it became the last part of Great Britain to be brought under the control of the state. Today, it has vanished from the map and its boundaries are matters of myth and generational memories.Under the spell of a powerful curiosity, Robb began a journey—on foot, by bicycle, and into the past—that would uncover lost towns and roads, and unlock more than one discovery of major historical significance. These personal and scholarly adventures reveal a tale that spans Roman, Medieval, and present-day Britain.Rich in detail and epic in scope, The Debatable Land takes us from a time when neither England nor Scotland existed to the present day, when contemporary nationalism and political turmoil threaten to unsettle the cross-border community once more. With his customary charm, wit, and literary grace, Graham Robb proves the Debatable Land to be a crucial, missing piece in the puzzle of British history. (Downtown)

 

Fight No More by Lydia Millet

In her first story collection since Love in Infant Monkeys, which became a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Lydia Millet explores what it means to be home. Nina, a lonely real-estate broker estranged from her only relative, is at the center of a web of stories connecting fractured communities and families. She moves through the houses of L.A.’s wealthy elite and finds men and women both crass and tender, vicious and desperate. With wit and intellect, Millet offers profound insight into human behavior from the ordinary to the bizarre: strong-minded girls are beset by the helpless, myopic executives are tormented by their employees, and beastly men do beastly things.Fresh off the critical triumph of Sweet Lamb of Heaven (longlisted for the National Book Award), Millet is pioneering a new kind of satire—compassionate toward its victims and hilariously brutal in its depiction of modern American life. (Downtown)

 

God, War, and Providence by James A. Warren

The tragic and fascinating history of the first epic struggle between white settlers and Native Americans in the early seventeenth century: a fresh look at the aggressive expansionist Puritans in New England and the determined Narragansett Indians, who refused to back down and accept English authority over people and their land.

A devout Puritan minister in seventeenth-century New England, Roger Williams was also a social critic, diplomat, theologian, and politician who fervently believed in tolerance. Yet his orthodox brethren were convinced tolerance fostered anarchy and courted God’s wrath. Banished from Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635, Williams purchased land from the Narragansett Indians and laid the foundations for the colony of Rhode Island as a place where Indian and English cultures could flourish side by side, in peace.

As the seventeenth century wore on, a steadily deepening antagonism developed between an expansionist, aggressive Puritan culture and an increasingly vulnerable, politically divided Indian population. Indian tribes that had been at the center of the New England communities found themselves shunted off to the margins of the region. By the 1660s, all the major Indian peoples in southern New England had come to accept English authority, either tacitly or explicitly. All, except one: the Narragansetts.

In God, War, and Providence James A. Warren tells the remarkable and little-known story of the alliance between Roger Williams’s Rhode Island and the Narragansett Indians, and how they joined forces to retain their autonomy and their distinctive ways of life against Puritan encroachment. Deeply researched, vividly written, this account of the Narragansetts’ courageous resistance campaign, aided by Williams, serves as a telling precedent for white-Native American encounters along the North American frontier for the next 250 years. (Downtown)

 

Island of the Mad: A novel of suspense featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes

Following on the heels of her exciting and widely acclaimed A Monster’s Notes, and with Sheck’s characteristic brilliance of language, Island of the Madfollows the solitary, hunchbacked Ambrose A., as he sets out on a mysterious journey to Venice in search of a lost notebook he knows almost nothing about.

Eventually he arrives in San Servolo, the Island of the Mad, in the Venetian Lagoon, only a few minutes’ boat-ride from Venice. At the island’s old, abandoned hospital which has been turned into a conference center, he discovers a mess of papers in a drawer, and among them the correspondence and notes of two of the island’s former inhabitants—a woman with a rare genetic illness which causes the afflicted to gradually become unable to sleep until, increasingly hallucinatory and feverish, they essentially die of sleeplessness; and her friend, a man who experiences epileptic seizures. As the sleepless woman’s eyesight fails, she wants only one thing—that her friend read to her from Dostoevsky’s great novel, The Idiot, a book she loves but can no longer read herself. As Ambrose follows their strange tale, everything he has ever known or thought is called into question. (Downtown)

 

Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth by Adam Frank

Light of the Stars tells the story of humanity’s coming of age as we awaken to the possibilities of life on other worlds and their sudden relevance to our fate on Earth. Astrophysicist Adam Frank traces the question of alien life and intelligence from the ancient Greeks to the leading thinkers of our own time, and shows how we as a civilization can only hope to survive climate change if we recognize what science has recently discovered: that we are just one of ten billion trillion planets in the Universe, and it’s highly likely that many of those planets hosted technologically advanced alien civilizations. What’s more, each of those civilizations must have faced the same challenge of civilization-driven climate change.Written with great clarity and conviction, Light of the Stars builds on the inspiring work of pioneering scientists such as Frank Drake and Carl Sagan, whose work at the dawn of the space age began building the new science of astrobiology; Jack James, the Texas-born engineer who drove NASA’s first planetary missions to success; Vladimir Vernadsky, the Russian geochemist who first envisioned the Earth’s biosphere; and James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis, who invented Gaia theory. Frank recounts the perilous journey NASA undertook across millions of miles of deep space to get its probes to Venus and Mars, yielding our first view of the cosmic laws of planets and climate that changed our understanding of our place in the universe.Thrilling science at the grandest of scales, Light of the Stars explores what may be the largest question of all: What can the likely presence of life on other worlds tell us about our own fate? (Albany and Downtown)

 

Little Big Love by Katy Regan

Ten-year-old Zac Hutchinson collects facts: octopuses have three hearts, Usain Bolt is the fastest man on earth. But no one will tell him the one thing he wants to know most: who his father is and where he went.

When Zac’s mother, Juliet, inadvertently admits that his dad is the only man she’s ever loved, Zac decides he is going to find him and deliver his mom the happily ever after she deserves.

But Liam Jones left for a reason, and as Zac searches for clues of his father, Juliet begins to rebuild what shattered on the day that was at once the happiest and most heartbreaking of her life.

Told through the eyes of Zac, Juliet, and grandfather Mick, Little Big Love is a layered, heartfelt, utterly satisfying story about family, love, and the secrets that can define who we are. (Downtown and Ropkins)

 

The Pharaoh Key: A Gideon Crew novel by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Gideon Crew–brilliant scientist, master thief, intrepid adventurer–is shocked when his former employer, Eli Glinn, vanishes without a trace, and Glinn’s high-tech lab Effective Engineering Solutions shuts down seemingly overnight.

Fresh off a diagnosis that gives him only months to live, Crew is contacted by one of his former coworkers at EES, Manuel Garza, who has a bead on one final treasure hinted at in EES’s final case, the long-awaited translation of a centuries-old stone tablet of a previously undiscovered civilization: The Phaistos Disc.

What lies at the end of the trail will either save Gideon’s life–or bring it to a sudden, shocking close. Crew once again faces incredible odds–but as Gideon has proved again and again, there’s no such thing as too great a risk when you’re living on borrowed time. (Camp Field and Downtown)

 

Red Card by Ken Bensinger

The definitive, shocking account of the FIFA scandal—the biggest international corruption case of recent years, spearheaded by US investigators, involving dozens of countries, and implicating nearly every aspect of the world’s most popular sport, soccer, including its biggest event, the World Cup.

The FIFA case began small, boosted by an IRS agent’s review of an American soccer official’s tax returns. But that humble investigation eventually led to a huge worldwide corruption scandal that crossed continents and reached the highest levels of the soccer’s world governing body in Switzerland.

In Red Card, Ken Bensinger explores the case, and the personalities behind it, in vivid detail. There’s Chuck Blazer, a high-living soccer dad who ascended to the highest ranks of the sport while creaming millions from its coffers; Jack Warner, a Trinidadian soccer official whose lust for power was matched only by his boundless greed; and the sport’s most powerful man, FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who held on to his position at any cost even as soccer rotted from the inside out.

Remarkably, this corruption existed for decades before American law enforcement officials began to secretly dig, finally revealing that nearly every aspect of the planet’s favorite sport was corrupted by bribes, kickbacks, fraud, and money laundering. Not even the World Cup, the most-watched sporting event in history, was safe from the thick web of corruption, as powerful FIFA officials extracted their bribes at every turn. Arriving just in time for the 2018 World Cup, Red Card goes beyond the headlines to bring the real story to light, accompanying the determined American prosecutors and special agents who uncovered what proved to be not only the biggest scandal in sports history, but one of the biggest international corruption cases ever. And it is far from over. (Downtown)

 

The Removes by Tatjana Soli

Spanning the years of the first great settlement of the West, The Removes tells the intertwining stories of fifteen-year-old Anne Cummins, frontierswoman Libbie Custer, and Libbie’s husband, the Civil War hero George Armstrong Custer. When Anne survives a surprise attack on her family’s homestead, she is thrust into a difficult life she never anticipated—living among the Cheyenne as both a captive and, eventually, a member of the tribe. Libbie, too, is thrown into a brutal, unexpected life when she marries Custer. They move to the territories with the U.S. Army, where Libbie is challenged daily and her worldview expanded: the pampered daughter of a small-town judge, she transforms into a daring camp follower. But when what Anne and Libbie have come to know—self-reliance, freedom, danger—is suddenly altered through tragedy and loss, they realize how indelibly shaped they are by life on the treacherous, extraordinary American plains.

With taut, suspenseful writing, Tatjana Soli tells the exhilarating stories of Libbie and Anne, who have grown like weeds into women unwilling to be restrained by the strictures governing nineteenth-century society. The Removes is a powerful, transporting novel about the addictive intensity and freedom of the American frontier. (Albany, Barbour, Camp Field, and Downtown)

 

A Taste for Vengeance: A Bruno, Chief of Police Novel by Martin Walker

When a British tourist fails to turn up for a luxurious cooking vacation in Bruno’s usually idyllic Dordogne village of St. Denis, the worried hostess is quick to call on Bruno for help. Monica Felder is nowhere to be found, and her husband, a retired British major, is unreachable. And not long after Bruno discovers that Monica was traveling with a mysterious Irishman (her lover?), the two turn up dead. The Irishman’s background in intelligence and his connection to Monica’s husband only raise more questions for Bruno. Was she running away? How much does her husband really know? What’s the real story behind a scandal buried in the threesome’s military past? Meanwhile, the star of the girls’ rugby team, a favorite of Bruno’s, is pregnant, putting at risk her chances of being named to the French national squad. Bruno’s search for the truth in both cases leads him to places he hadn’t intended to go–but, as ever, he and his friends take time to savor the natural delights of the Dordogne. Santé! (Downtown)

 

The Verdun Affair by Nick Dybek

A sweeping, romantic, and profoundly moving novel, set in Europe in the aftermath of World War I and Los Angeles in the 1950s, about a lonely young man, a beautiful widow, and the amnesiac soldier whose puzzling case binds them together even as it tears them apart.

In 1921, two young Americans meet in Verdun, the city in France where one of the most devastating battles of the war was waged. Tom is an orphan from Chicago, a former ambulance driver now gathering bones from the battlefield; Sarah is an expatriate from Boston searching for the husband who wandered off from his division and hasn’t been seen since. Quickly, the two fall into a complicated affair against the ghostly backdrop of the ruined city. Months later, Sarah and Tom meet again at the psychiatric ward of an Italian hospital, drawn there by the appearance of a mysterious patient the doctors call Douglas Fairbanks (after the silent film actor)—a shell-shocked soldier with no memory of who he is. At the hospital, Tom and Sarah are joined by Paul, an Austrian journalist with his own interest in the amnesiac.

Each is keeping a secret; each has been shaken by the horrors of war. Decades later, Tom, now a successful screenwriter, encounters Paul by chance in LA, still grappling with the questions raised by this gorgeous and incisive novel: How to begin again after unfathomable trauma? How to love after so much loss? And who, in the end, was Douglas Fairbanks?

From the bone-strewn fields of Verdun to the bombed-out cafés of Paris, from the riot-torn streets of Bologna to the riotous parties of 1950s Hollywood,The Verdun Affair is a riveting tale of romance, grief, and the far-reaching consequences of a single lie. (Downtown)

 

Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering

“A thrilling, sexy coming-of-age story exploring toxic love, ruthless ambition, and shocking betrayal, Tell Me Lies is about that one person who still haunts you–the other one. The wrong one. The one you couldn’t let go of. The one you’ll never forget.Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college, and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother, whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer–new friends, wild parties, stimulating classes. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating. Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping, Lucy’s heart. Alternating between Lucy’s and Stephen’s voices, Tell Me Lies follows their connection through college and post-college life in New York City. Deep down, Lucy knows she has to acknowledge the truth about Stephen. But before she can free herself from this addicting entanglement, she must confront and heal her relationship with her mother–or risk losing herself in a delusion about what it truly means to love. With the psychological insight and biting wit of Luckiest Girl Alive, and the yearning ambitions and desires of Sweetbitter, this keenly intelligent and staggeringly resonant novel chronicles the exhilaration and dilemmas of young adulthood, and the difficulty of letting go, even when you know you should.” (Downtown and Park)

 

The Woman in the Woods by John Connolly

In the beautiful Maine woods, a partly preserved body is discovered. Investigators realize that the dead young woman gave birth shortly before her death. But there is no sign of a baby.

Private detective Charlie Parker is hired by a lawyer to shadow the police investigation and find the infant but Parker is not the only searcher. Someone else is following the trail left by the woman, someone with an interest in much more than a missing child…someone prepared to leave bodies in his wake.

And in a house by the woods, a toy telephone begins to ring and a young boy is about to receive a call from a dead woman. (Barbour, Camp Field, and Downtown)

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