New Reads (July 14, 2015–)

Go Set A Watchman 
by Harper Lee
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An historic literary event: the publication of a newly discovered novel, the earliest known work from Harper Lee, the beloved, bestselling author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014. Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch–Scout–struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her. Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee’s enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.

Armada
by Ernest Cline
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It’s just another day of high school for Zack Lightman. He’s daydreaming through another boring math class, with just one more month to go until graduation and freedom–if he can make it that long without getting suspended again.; Then he glances out his classroom window and spots the flying saucer. At first, Zack thinks he’s going crazy. A minute later, he’s sure of it. Because the UFO he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada– in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders. But what Zack’s seeing is all too real. And his skills–as well as those of millions of gamers across the world–are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it. Yet even as he and his new comrades scramble to prepare for the alien onslaught, Zack can’t help thinking of all the science-fiction books, TV shows, and movies he grew up reading and watching, and wonder: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little too… familiar? Armada is at once a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien-invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before–one whose every page is infused with author Ernest Cline’s trademark pop-culture savvy.

Speak 
by Louisa Hall
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A thoughtful, poignant novel that explores the creation of artificial intelligence–illuminating the very human need for communication, connection, and understanding In a narrative that spans geography and time, from the Atlantic Ocean in the seventeenth century to a correctional institution in Texas in the near future, told from the perspectives of five very different characters, Speak considers what it means to be human, and what it means to be less than fully alive. A young Puritan woman travels to the New World with her unwanted new husband. Alan Turing, the renowned mathematician and code breaker, writes letters to his best friend’s mother. A Jewish refugee and professor of computer science struggles to reconnect with his increasingly detached wife. An isolated and traumatized young girl exchanges messages with an intelligent software program. A former Silicon Valley wunderkind is imprisoned for creating illegally lifelike dolls. All five characters are attempting to communicate–with estranged spouses, lost friends, future readers, or computer programs that may or may not understand them. Although each speaks from a distinct place and moment in time, they all share the need to express themselves while simultaneously wondering if they will ever be heard, or understood. In dazzling and electrifying prose, Louisa Hall explores how the chasm between computer and human–shrinking rapidly with today’s technological advances–echoes the gaps that exist between ordinary people.

Watchmaker of Filigree Street
by Natasha Pulley
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An enchanting new literary historical fantasy with the spark and wit of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street plunges readers into a magical past. 1883. Thaniel Steepleton returns home to his tiny London apartment to find a gold pocket watch on his pillow. Six months later, the mysterious timepiece saves his life, drawing him away from a blast that destroys Scotland Yard. At last, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori, a kind, lonely immigrant from Japan. Although Mori seems harmless, a chain of unexplainable events soon suggests he must be hiding something. When Grace Carrow, an Oxford physicist, unwittingly interferes, Thaniel is torn between opposing loyalties. The Watchmaker of Filigree Street is a sweeping, atmospheric narrative that takes the reader on an unexpected journey through Victorian London, Japan as its civil war crumbles long-standing traditions, and beyond. Blending historical events with dazzling flights of fancy, it opens doors to a strange and magical past.

 

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