23 Days of Terror

This is the true story of the hunt and capture of the D. C. snipers. This is the engrossing story of the man hunt that went on in October 2002. Just a little over a year after 9/11 the Washington D. C. area is plagued with a sniper, or snipers as it turns out, who shoots people at random in parking lots of stores, gas stations and other places while people were out running errands. The shootings started on October 2, 2002 and ended on with the arrest of the two suspects John Muhammad and his teenage accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo. The first shot didn’t hit anybody, but the next shot did. Soon the local police called in federal help using the FBI, the ATF, and the U.S. Marshalls. They created a task force with the Police chief of Montgomery County in charge with a special agent in charge of the FBI and a special agent in charge of the ATF assistants to the chief. It seemed like the investigation was dragging on too long for the people living in the area, but the killers left very little evidence of their crimes. The task force did the best it could. I highly recommend this well written book about a scary time. days of terror

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We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

As NAFCPL’s resident teen librarian, I read a lot of teen fiction and don’t often seek out adult fiction–when I do read an adult book, I tend to go for nonfiction.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy FowlerBut I read several tweets and blog entries that all said the same thing–go read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler as soon as possible, and don’t read any spoilers for it. This piqued my interest, and I picked up the book. (Unfortunately, the plot summary for the book on GoodReads.com gives away the plot spoiler everyone was telling me to avoid. Oops.)

In this blog entry, I’ll avoid spoilers for the book’s big twist. But I will say that I don’t think the book is ruined if you accidentally hear about the twist before you read it–in a way, I enjoyed knowing what was coming. It was like knowing how a magic trick is done but still appreciating the craft. I could see what Fowler was building to and admire how cleverly she was doing it, even if I wasn’t surprised when it happened.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is the story of Rosemary Cooke and her family. For a time, Rosemary had an idyllic childhood in Bloomington, Indiana, with her brother, her sister, and her academic psychologist parents. But as Rosemary narrates the story, she’s a college student who barely talks to her parents. Her brother is a domestic terrorist, and she hasn’t seen her sister in years. Rosemary narrates how things came to be this way  (“I sometimes worried that [my parents’] marriage had become the sort Inspector Javert might have had with Jean Valjean.”) alongside funny stories of her college life (“I’d been considering telling Harlow what I’d just learned about chimp sex. Much would depend on how drunk I got”) in a witty, insightful way. Describing a family Thanksgiving, Rosemary observes:

In Bloomington, to someone my grandma’s age, the word psychologist evoked Kinsey and his prurient studies, Skinner and his preposterous baby boxes. Psychologists did not leave their work at the office. They brought it home. They conducted experiments around the breakfast table, made freak shows of their own families, and all to answer questions nice people wouldn’t even think to ask.

This, ultimately, is what We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is about–answering questions nice people wouldn’t even think to ask. It does so in a generous, thoughtful way.

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The Whole Truth by David Baldacci

The Whole Truth by David Baldacci is a novel of intrigue that is about greed by a CEO of a defense contracting company who wants a war so that his company can sell their war machinery to a country or two. The CEO’s name is Nicholas Creel who hires Dick Pender to “perception manage” his company. He hires Dick Pender, a partner in a public relations firm, to manipulate international conflicts by putting stories on the Internet and making things appear to be true. A man who goes by the last name of Shaw makes it his mission to find out the truth after his girlfriend is murdered for trying to find the truth. This book is exciting and seems like it could happen. In fact in the author’s note Baldacci states that the Defense Department defines perception management in one of its manuals. Many PR firms offer perception management or “PM” as one of their services. They are not spin doctors because they don’t manipulate facts; they create them and sell them to the world as truth. It’s very thought provoking.

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Storms of My Grandchildren by James Hansen

Storms of my Grandchildren by James Hansen
I was inspired to read Storms of My Grandchildren by James Hansen after hearing about the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy this fall. I have heard a lot over the last few years about “global warming” and “climate change” and I wanted to understand more about those issues. James Hansen, currently the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is the best-known researcher of climate change in the USA. This book was written in 2010 but he predicted that storms would continue to become more destructive than ever before, like Hurricane Sandy.

This is his only book written for a general audience (as opposed to his fellow scientists) and it’s clear that he’s not sure how to explain these issues to people without his scientific background. Often he refers to his grandchildren and repeats stories of how he tried to explain things to them, which was generally helpful for me. Still, at times, this book was difficult for me to understand.

I’m glad that I perservered and read all of Storms of my Grandchildren. In addition to learning about the science of climate change, Hansen also talks about political censorship of science (done by both major parties) and ideas for the future. Even if I didn’t understand all of Storms of my Grandchildren, I still feel like I have a much better understanding of climate change, as well as how we as humans can go about fixing it. I recommend reading this book, but make sure to allow yourself plenty of time to read it–it’s interesting material but it’s definitely not a page-turner.

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