Hi everyone, here are our recommended titles for the week, and while the library is closed the weekly recommendations will all be digital – eBooks & downloadable audiobooks available through the Digital Catalog.
I’m going to kick off our weekly suggested reading posting by recommending a handful of titles that focus on men and women who have served our country in the armed forces; to honor all those who have served, but especially, today, those who gave their lives to defend our country.
Memorial Day Collection:
Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II written by Liza Mundy and read by Erin Bennett (Format: Downloadable Audiobook)
Recruited by the US Army and Navy from small towns and elite colleges, more than ten thousand women served as codebreakers during World War II. While their brothers and boyfriends took up arms, these women moved to Washington and learned the meticulous work of code-breaking. Their efforts shortened the war, saved countless lives, and gave them access to careers previously denied to them. A strict vow of secrecy nearly erased their efforts from history; now, through dazzling research and interviews with surviving code girls, bestselling author Liza Mundy brings to life this riveting and vital story of American courage, service, and scientific accomplishment.
Every Man a Hero: A Memoir of D-Day, the First Wave at Omaha Beach, and a World at War written by Ray Lambert and read by Jim DeFelice (Format: Downloadable Audiobook):
AN EXTRAORDINARY AND UNFORGETTABLE NEW FIRSTHAND ACCOUNT OF D-DAY
Seventy-five years ago, he hit Omaha Beach with the first wave. Now Ray Lambert, ninety-eight years old, delivers one of the most remarkable memoirs of our time, a tour-de-force of remembrance evoking his role as a decorated World War II medic who risked his life to save the heroes of D-Day.
At five a.m. on June 6, 1944, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ray Lambert worked his way through a throng of nervous soldiers to a wind-swept deck on a troopship off the coast of Normandy, France. A familiar voice cut through the wind and rumble of the ship’s engines. “Ray!” called his brother, Bill. Ray, head of a medical team for the First Division’s famed 16th Infantry Regiment, had already won a silver star in 1943 for running through German lines to rescue trapped men, one of countless rescues he’d made in North Africa and Sicily.
“This is going to be the worst yet,” Ray told his brother, who served alongside him throughout the war.
“If I don’t make it,” said Bill, “take care of my family.”
“I will,” said Ray. He thought about his wife and son–a boy he had yet to see. “Same for me.” The words were barely out of Ray’s mouth when a shout came from below.
To the landing craft!
The brothers parted. Their destinies lay ten miles away, on the bloodiest shore of Normandy, a plot of Omaha Beach ironically code named “Easy Red.”
Less than five hours later, after saving dozens of lives and being wounded at least three separate times, Ray would lose consciousness in the shallow water of the beach under heavy fire. He would wake on the deck of a landing ship to find his battered brother clinging to life next to him.
Every Man a Hero is the unforgettable story not only of what happened in the incredible and desperate hours on Omaha Beach, but of the bravery and courage that preceded them, throughout the Second World War—from the sands of Africa, through the treacherous mountain passes of Sicily, and beyond to the greatest military victory the world has ever known.
Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown by Eric Blehm (Format: eBook):
When Navy SEAL Adam Brown woke up on March 17, 2010, he didn’t know he would die that night in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan—but he was ready: In a letter to his children, not meant to be seen unless the worst happened, he wrote, “I’m not afraid of anything that might happen to me on this earth, because I know no matter what, nothing can take my spirit from me.”
Long before Adam Brown became a member of the elite SEAL Team SIX—the counterterrorism unit that took down Osama bin Laden—he was a fun-loving country boy from Hot Springs, Arkansas, whose greatest goal had been to wear his high school’s football jersey. An undersized daredevil, prone to jumping off roofs into trees and off bridges into lakes, Adam was a kid who broke his own bones but would never break a promise to his parents.
But after high school, Adam fell in with the wrong crowd, and his family watched as his appetite for risk dragged him into a downward spiral that eventually landed him in jail. Battling his inner demons on a last-chance road to redemption, Adam had one goal: to become the best of the best—a U.S. Navy SEAL.
An absorbing chronicle of heroism and humanity, Fearless presents an indelible portrait of a highly trained warrior who would enter a village with weapons in hand to hunt terrorists, only to come back the next day with an armload of shoes and meals for local children. It is a deeply personal, revealing glimpse inside the SEAL Team SIX brotherhood that also shows how these elite operators live out the rest of their lives, away from danger, as husbands, fathers, and friends.
Fearless is the story of a man of extremes, whose courage and determination was fueled by faith, family, and the love of a woman. It’s about a man who waged a war against his own worst impulses and persevered to reach the top tier of the U.S. military. Always the first to volunteer for the most dangerous assignments, Adam’s final act of bravery led to the ultimate sacrifice.
Adam Brown was a devoted man who was an unlikely hero but a true warrior, described by all who knew him as fearless.
The Jersey Brothers written by Sally Mott Freeman and read by Cassandra Campbell (Format: eBook)
This extraordinary adventure of three brothers at the center of the most dramatic turning points of World War II is “liable to break the hearts of Unbroken fans, and it’s all true” (The New York Times).
They are three brothers, all Navy men, who end up coincidentally and extraordinarily at the epicenter of three of the war’s most crucial moments. Bill, a naval intelligence officer, is tapped by FDR to set up and run his secret map room in the White House basement. Benny is the gunnery and antiaircraft officer on USS Enterprise, one of the few ships to escape Pearl Harbor and, by the end of 1942, the only aircraft carrier left in the Pacific to defend against the Japanese. Barton, the youngest, gets a plum commission in the Navy Supply Corps because his mother wants him out of harm’s way. But this protection plan backfires when Barton is sent to Manila and listed as wounded and missing after a Japanese attack. Now it is up to Bill and Benny to find and rescue him…
Based on a decade of research drawn from archives around the world, interviews with fellow shipmates and POWs, and half-forgotten letters stashed away in attics, The Jersey Brothers is “a captivating tour-de-force” (San Antonio Express-News) that whisks readers from America’s front porches to Roosevelt’s White House to the battlefronts of the Pacific. But at its heart The Jersey Brothers is a family story, written by one of its own in intimate, novelistic detail. It is a remarkable tale of agony and triumph; of an ordinary young man who shows extraordinary courage as the enemy does everything short of killing him; and of brotherly love tested under the tortures of war.
The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II by Katherine Sharp Landdeck (Format: eBook):
“With the fate of the free world hanging in the balance, women pilots went aloft to serve their nation. . . . A soaring tale in which, at long last, these daring World War II pilots gain the credit they deserve.”—Liza Mundy, New York Times bestselling author of Code Girls.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Cornelia Fort was already in the air. At twenty-two, Fort had escaped Nashville’s debutante scene for a fresh start as a flight instructor in Hawaii. She and her student were in the middle of their lesson when the bombs began to fall, and they barely made it back to ground that morning. Still, when the U.S. Army Air Forces put out a call for women pilots to aid the war effort, Fort was one of the first to respond. She became one of just over 1,100 women from across the nation to make it through the Army’s rigorous selection process and earn her silver wings.
The brainchild of trailblazing pilots Nancy Love and Jacqueline Cochran, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) gave women like Fort a chance to serve their country—and to prove that women aviators were just as skilled as men. While not authorized to serve in combat, the WASP helped train male pilots for service abroad, and ferried bombers and pursuits across the country. Thirty-eight WASP would not survive the war. But even taking into account these tragic losses, Love and Cochran’s social experiment seemed to be a resounding success—until, with the tides of war turning, Congress clipped the women’s wings. The program was disbanded, the women sent home. But the bonds they’d forged never failed, and over the next few decades they came together to fight for recognition as the military veterans they were—and for their place in history.
General Recommendations of the Week:
1968 by Joe Haldeman (Format: eBook):
“So many tensions and so much emotion . . . A powerful novel” of the Vietnam era by the award-winning author of The Forever War (Booklist).
John “Spider” Spiedel is a college dropout who is drafted into the war as a combat engineer. Scared, he tries to keep his head down and stay safe, a plan that works until the Tet Offensive, when he is wounded and sent stateside—and receives a devastating diagnosis. And while he’s been away fighting, his girlfriend, Beverly, has fallen in with the hippie movement in an attempt to rebel against the repressive values of American society and the injustice of the war that took her boyfriend overseas.
Vietnam was the conflict that changed America’s relationship with war forever, and this novel by Nebula and Hugo Award–winning author Joe Haldeman, inspired by his own experience in the military, is a look at this turbulent time in US history as seen through the eyes of the people most affected: the soldiers and their loved ones. 1968 is not just a story of two young people attempting to find themselves in a tumultuous world—it’s the account of a country trying to find itself as well.
A Catalog of Birds by Laura Harrington (Format: eBook)
Billy Flynn always wanted to fly. An attractive young man, a patriot, he is also an artist with pencil and paint and has an abiding affinity for nature. It’s 1970 and he cannot resist the call to serve in Vietnam. A year later he is the only survivor when his helicopter is shot down.
A wounded Billy returns home to his family in upstate New York, especially to Nell, his adoring younger sister. In his absence, the woman he loves has mysteriously disappeared. His wounds have crippled his ability to even hold a pencil and his hearing loss has cut him off from the natural world. Nell, a brilliant student headed for a career in science, will do all that’s possible to save him.
A Catalog of Birds is the story of a family and a community confronted with a loss of innocence and wounds that may never heal. The legacy of war and its destruction of nature is seared onto the memories of a small American town.
Laura Harrington has written a tale of forgiveness, of ourselves, and those we love. Illuminated by heartbreak and promise, the novel is alive with spirit and wonder and hope for the future.
Home: A Novel by Toni Morrison (Format: eBook):
An angry and self-loathing veteran of the Korean War, Frank Money finds himself back in racist America after enduring trauma on the front lines that left him with more than just physical scars. His home–and himself in it–may no longer be as he remembers it, but Frank is shocked out of his crippling apathy by the need to rescue his medically abused younger sister and take her back to the small Georgia town they come from, which he’s hated all his life. As Frank revisits the memories from childhood and the war that leave him questioning his sense of self, he discovers a profound courage he thought he could never possess again. A deeply moving novel about an apparently defeated man finding his manhood–and his home.
Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger (Format: eBook):
“A brilliant achievement, and one every crime reader and writer needs to celebrate.” —Louise Penny, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Glass Houses
“A master craftsman [and] a series of books written with a grace and precision so stunning that you’d swear the stories were your own.” —Craig Johnson, author of the Walt Longmire series
“Among thoughtful readers, William Kent Krueger holds a very special place in the pantheon.” —C.J. Box, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Disappeared
Read the thrilling, universally acclaimed debut that introduced the award-winning Cork O’Connor mystery series to the world by New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger.
In eighteen novels over twenty years, William Kent Krueger has enthralled readers with the adventures of P.I. Cork O’Connor, former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota—selling more than 1.5 million copies of his books and winning the Edgar Award, Minnesota Book Award, Northeastern Minnesota Book Award, Dilys Award, Lovey Award, and Anthony Award along the way. Now, in this special anniversary edition, longtime fans and new readers alike can read the novel that first introduced Corcoran “Cork” O’Connor to the world.
Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, Cork is having difficulty dealing with the marital meltdown that has separated him from his children, getting by on heavy doses of caffeine, nicotine, and guilt. Once a cop on Chicago’s South Side, there’s not much that can shock him. But when the town’s judge is brutally murdered, and a young Eagle Scout is reported missing, Cork takes on this complicated and perplexing case of conspiracy, corruption, and a small-town secret that hits painfully close to home.
Iron Lakes is the first book in the Cork O’Connor mystery series.
Keeping Watch by Laurie R. King (Format: eBook):
Acclaimed as one of the most original talents to emerge in the last decade, award-winning author Laurie R. King returns to Folly Island to deliver her most stunning achievement yet—a breathtaking novel of suspense that explores the very essence of good and evil.
Allen Carmichael came back from Vietnam a lifetime ago—but only now was he ready to return home. For years, he’s lived on the fringes of the law, using a soldier’s skills to keep watch over those too young to defend themselves. Some consider him nothing but a kidnapper for hire—the best in the business; others call him a hero. His specialty has been rescuing children from abusive parents and escorting them to loving homes. But after twenty-five years, he is ready to take on his final case—a case that could destroy him.
The boy’s name is Jamie: He believes his father is going to kill him. Allen is convinced that the twelve-year-old is right and devises a strategy to save him. His last job done, Allen heads back to Folly Island, where he plans to settle into a quiet life. But not long after his return, a small plane piloted by the boy’s father’s crashes, leaving behind debris—but no body. Now it is up to Allen to resolve whether Jamie’s father is dead or alive—and to make sure Jamie himself stays out of harm’s way. But a series of ominous events leads Allen to question whether Jamie’s father is really the enemy after all. Or if the real threat is far more unspeakable…and the killer unimaginable.
Riveting, harrowing, and unforgettable, Keeping Watch takes psychological suspense to its most dizzying heights and proves again why Laurie R. King has been called by both readers and critics an undisputed master of suspense.
Machine Dreams by Jayne Anne Phillips (Format: eBook):
In her highly acclaimed debut novel, the bestselling author of Shelter introduces the Hampsons, an ordinary, small-town American family profoundly affected by the extraordinary events of history. Here is a stunning chronicle that begins with the Depression and ends with the Vietnam War, revealed in the thoughts, dreams, and memories of each family member. Mitch struggles to earn a living as Jeans becomes the main breadwinner, working to complete college and raise the family. While the couple fight to keep their marriage intact, their daughter Danner and son Billy forge a sibling bond of uncommon strength. When Billy goes off to Vietnam, Danner becomes the sole bond linking her family, whose dissolution mirrors the fractured state of America in the 1960s. Deeply felt and vividly imagined, this lyrical novel is “among the wisest of a generation to grapple with a war that maimed us all” (The Village Voice), by a master of contemporary fiction.
Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War written by Karl Marlantes and read by Bronson Pinchot (Format: Downloadable Audiobook):
An incredible publishing story—written over the course of thirty years by a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, a New York Times bestseller for sixteen weeks, a National Indie Next, and a USA Today bestseller—Matterhorn has been hailed as a “brilliant account of war” (New York Times Book Review).
Matterhorn is an epic war novel in the tradition of Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead and James Jones’ The Thin Red Line. It is the timeless story of a young marine lieutenant, Waino Mellas, and his comrades in Bravo Company, who are dropped into the mountain jungle of Vietnam as boys and forced to fight their way into manhood. Standing in their way are not merely the North Vietnamese but also monsoon rain and mud, leeches and tigers, disease and malnutrition. Almost as daunting, it turns out, are the obstacles they discover between each other: racial tension, competing ambitions, and duplicitous superior officers. But when the company finds itself surrounded and outnumbered by a massive enemy regiment, the marines are thrust into the raw and all-consuming terror of combat. The experience will change them forever. Matterhorn is a visceral and spellbinding novel about what it is like to be a young man at war. It is an unforgettable story that transforms the tragedy of Vietnam into a powerful and universal story of courage, camaraderie, and sacrifice—a parable not only of the war in Vietnam but of all war, and a testament to the redemptive power of literature.
Kristin Hannah’s Coming Home 4-Book Bundle: On Mystic Lake, Summer Island, Distant Shores, Home Again by Kristin Hannah (Format: eBook):
ON MYSTIC LAKE
“Superb . . . I’ll heartily recommend On Mystic Lake to any woman . . . who demands that a story leaves her with a satisfied glow.”—The Washington Post Book World
Annie Colwater’s husband has just confessed that he’s in love with a younger woman. Devastated, Annie retreats to the small town where she grew up. There, she is reunited with her first love, Nick Delacroix, a recent widower who is unable to cope with his silent, emotionally scarred young daughter. Together the three of them begin to heal. But just when Annie believes she’s been given a second chance at happiness, she is forced to make a choice that no woman in love should ever have to make.
“Many a daughter will see something of herself in Ruby.”—People
Years ago, Nora Bridge walked out on her marriage and her family. Now she is a celebrity talk-show host. Her daughter Ruby is a struggling comedienne. The two haven’t spoken in more than a decade. Then a scandal from Nora’s past is exposed, and Ruby is offered a fortune to write a tell-all. Reluctantly she returns to the family house on Summer Island, with its frayed memories of joy and heartache. Confronting a mother who has harbored terrible secrets, Ruby finally begins to understand the complex ties that bind—and the healing that comes with forgiveness.
“There are real-life lessons here told with truth, humor, and courage. You will love this story.”—Adriana Trigiani
Elizabeth and Jackson Shore married young and weathered the storms as they built a family. From a distance their lives look picture perfect. But after their two girls leave home, Jack and Elizabeth quietly drift apart. Then tragedy turns Elizabeth’s world upside down. In the aftermath, she questions everything about her life—her choices, her marriage, even her long-forgotten dreams. In a move that shocks her husband, friends, and daughters, she lets go of the woman she has become—and reaches out for the woman she wants to be.
“A tender, beautifully told story of emotional growth, forgiveness [and] the possibility of miracles.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Madelaine Hillyard may be a world-famous heart surgeon, but her personal life is less successful. Her teenage daughter, Lina, is fast becoming a stranger—a rebel desperate to find the father who walked away before she was born. Complicating matters are the vastly different DeMarco brothers: While priest Francis is always ready to lend a helping hand, Angel long ago took on the role of bad boy. Years earlier Angel abandoned Madelaine—and fatherhood—to seek fame and fortune, leaving her devastated. Now he needs help from the very people he betrayed—as a patient in dire need.
Sunrise on Half Moon Bay by Robyn Carr (Format: eBook):
Sometimes the happiness we’re looking for has been there all along…
Adele and Justine have never been close. Born twenty years apart, Justine was already an adult when Addie was born. The sisters love each other but they don’t really know each other.
When Addie dropped out of university to care for their ailing parents, Justine, a successful lawyer, covered the expenses. It was the best arrangement at the time but now that their parents are gone, the future has changed dramatically for both women.
Addie had great plans for her life but has been worn down by the pressures of being a caregiver and doesn’t know how to live for herself. And Justine’s success has come at a price. Her marriage is falling apart despite her best efforts.
Neither woman knows how to start life over, but both realize they can and must support each other the way only sisters can. Together they find the strength to accept their failures and overcome their challenges. Happiness is within reach, if only they have the courage to fight for it.
Set in the stunning coastal town of Half Moon Bay, California, Robyn Carr’s new novel examines the joys of sisterhood and the importance of embracing change.
What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism written by Dan Rather and read by Elliot Kirschner (Format: Downloadable Audiobook)
In a collection of original essays, the venerated television journalist, Dan Rather, celebrates our shared values and what matters most in our great country, and shows us what patriotism looks like. Writing about the institutions that sustain us, such as public libraries, public schools, and national parks; the values that have transformed us, such as the struggle for civil rights; and the drive toward science and innovation that has made the United States great, Rather will bring to bear his decades of experience on the frontlines of the world’s biggest stories, and offer readers a way forward. After a career spent as reporter and anchor for CBS News, where he interviewed every living President since Eisenhower and was on the ground for every major event, from the assassination of John F. Kennedy to Watergate to 9/11, Rather has also become a hugely popular voice of reason on social media, with nearly two million Facebook followers and an engaged new audience who help to make many of his posts go viral. With his famously plainspoken voice and a fundamental sense of hope, Rather has written the book to inspire conversation and listening, and to remind us all how we are ultimately united.
Bonus Streaming Video Recommendation:
PBS’s Annual Memorial Day Concert, during which D Day veteran Ray Lambert will be honored, will be shown on PBS Stations on Monday, May 25, 2020.
It will also be streamed at 8:00 p.m. EST via at the following web page:
Ray Lambert To Be Honored at 2020 National Memorial Day Concert. The Pilot. Laura Douglass, Staff Writer, May 21, 2020, https://www.thepilot.com/news/ray-lambert-to-be-honored-at-2020-national-memorial-day-concert/article_1be9810c-9b9a-11ea-a23b-8bdb4e61e115.html
Be well and happy reading!
Linda Reimer, SSCL
Note: Book summaries are from the publisher unless otherwise specified.
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