Yay for New Books! September Edition

As a selector, I get to see and read reviews of titles as I'm ordering them, long before they hit our shelves. I try to make a note of those that I want to check out, or titles that I simply think seem interesting or unique...here is my September list. Get 'em while they're hot off the press--if they are still on order, place a hold!

American demon : Eliot Ness and the hunt for America's Jack the Ripper

Stashower, Daniel, author.

364.1523/Stashower (NEW)
True Crime, Biographies, History

Stashower (Teller of Tales) traces Eliot Ness's career with a focus on the media-named Torso Murders, which shook the city of Cleveland. Over a course of three years, citizens discovered bundles of dismembered body parts. Twelve killings in all were ascribed to the unknown assailant, dubbed the Mad Butcher, and only two victims were positively identified. Ness was famous for his work in Al Capone's downfall. After some less prestigious work shutting down moonshine stills in the mountains, Ness landed a job that played to his strengths: Cleveland's safety director. Here he could modernize the police force, use his gang busting skills against the city's organized crime, and ferret out corruption within the ranks. Cleveland needed this, but what the city wanted was a hero who could stop the Mad Butcher. Stashower's Ness is a flawed do-gooder, frustrated by city politics, sullied by personal indiscretions, and taunted by postcards from the man he suspected was the Mad Butcher but couldn't prove. VERDICT Stashower was born in Cleveland, and his personal connection to the city breathes life into this well-researched and chilling account.—Terry Bosky Copyright 2022 Library Journal.

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Just what did Eliot Ness get up to after taking down Al Capone?
- Candice

The contemplative tarot : a Christian guide to the cards

Muller, Brittany, author.

Religion, Self Help, Paranormal

"To use tarot in a contemplative way is to marry prayer with art," contends Blessed Vigil blogger Muller in her delightfully unusual debut. She posits that tarot cards can be used as a "tool to facilitate inner knowledge, inner growth, and inner transformation" by prompting prayerlike reflection, and to that end she draws spiritual lessons from each card by putting them in conversation with the Bible. Examining the death card, she quotes from Corinthians and posits that the card reminds Christians of the hope promised by life after death, and that the river illustrated on the card evokes rebirth through baptism. The boy depicted on the sun card, Muller proposes, is reminiscent of God's choice to incarnate himself as the "innocent babe" Jesus, rather than "a warrior or a king," with the sun reflecting the warmth of God's love. Muller also tackles the minor arcana, suggesting that the ace of pentacles calls for appreciating creation, while the five of cups brings to mind the inevitability of sin and largesse of God's mercy. The blend of Christianity and the esoteric results in a refreshingly unconventional outing, and the research into tarot's origins as a card game influenced by Christian and ancient pagan traditions, as well as its eventual evolution into a divinatory device under Napoleon Bonaparte, adds enlightening historical context. This pensive and unexpected volume will resonate with New Age fans and open-minded Christians alike. (Sept.) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

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While admittedly not a regular participant of either of these belief systems, I am intrigued by the blending of them and curious to see how they might flow into one another.
- Candice

Ask Me For a Blessing, You Know You Need One

Dannhauser, Adrian

Being Processed

Dannhauser, a priest at Church of the Incarnation in Manhattan, debuts with a compassionate meditation on the power of blessings. The author reflects on what she's learned about faith from her weekly practice of administering prayers to strangers on the street while standing outside her Midtown church with a sign that reads, "Ask me for a blessing." She lays out the philosophy of her sidewalk chats and posits that "evangelism is simply about speaking the truth of God's grace, love, and mercy into people's lives." Dannhauser details notable conversations she's had, recounting a man who kneeled for a blessing with a drink in his hand and food in his mouth, as well as a drunk young woman who found comfort after opening up about an unrequited love. The author suggests that the utility of such conversations lies in their ability to draw in people who might not be actively religious and let them know that "God is always looking to honor and affirm the good in us." The anecdotes make for captivating miniature character portraits that brim with folk wisdom, as when a cancer survivor's thankfulness for the support he received from loved ones led Dannhauser to conclude that the "truest form of gratitude to God has humility at its heart." The result makes for a touching Christian variation on Humans of New York, with humanity and insight to spare. (Sept.) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly

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This book appealed to me in the sense that, we've all been through some pretty rough times lately, we've all got burdens and fears, and here is a person who has found a way to make an impact, and decided to share it with the world. Seems like a good thing.
- Candice

Book of Phobias and Manias : a history of obsession.

Summerscale, Kate

Science, History

Edgar Award winner Summerscale (The Haunting of Alma Fielding) examines the fear of the number 13, the 17th-century Dutch tulip frenzy, and 97 other irrational turns of mind in this fascinating compendium. Acarophobic delusions, caused by the "extreme fear of tiny insects," can be transmitted from person to person and once caused Salvador Dalí to take a razor blade to his back to kill a flea that turned out to be a pimple. Triskaidekaphobia, or fear of the number 13, may have its roots in the story of the Norse trickster god, Loki, who "cursed the earth with darkness" when he crashed a dinner party for 12 other gods at Valhalla and became the 13th at the table. Summerscale also makes the intriguing point that manias and phobias may actually preserve sanity by "crystallising our frights and fancies, and allowing us to proceed as if everything else makes sense," and links obsessions to historical and cultural developments, noting, for example, that arithmomania, or "a pathological desire to count," was first identified in the late 19th century and may be the product "of our era's reverence for mechanical processes." Exquisitely detailed and consistently insightful, this is an entertaining guide to humanity's compulsions. (Sept.) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

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The part of the review that says "and links obsessions to historical and cultural developments" was what got me hooked on this book. Luridly fascinating, and educational to boot!
- Candice

Chaos machine : the inside story of how social media rewired our minds and our world.

Fisher, Max

302.231/Fisher (NEW)
Political, Technology, Health

New York Times reporter Fisher debuts with a scathing account of the manifold ills wrought by social media. He explores toxic misogyny, recounting the unsavory particulars of "GamerGate," in which a woman video game developer was subjected to "collective harassment" after false allegations that she slept with a journalist in exchange for a positive review of her game. Other examples of the dark side of social media include anti-Muslim hate speech in Myanmar proliferating on Facebook, the spread of anti-vaccine rhetoric during the pandemic, and efforts by Russia to interfere with U.S. elections. Fisher also breaks down the tactics used by social media companies to get users to spend more time online, among them notifications that are meant to set off feel-good dopamine releases in the brain, a tactic similar to the "intermittent variable reinforcement" used by casinos. There's no shortage of books lamenting the evils of social media, but what's impressive here is how Fisher brings it all together: the breadth of information, covering everything from the intricacies of engagement-boosting algorithms to theories of sentimentalism, makes this a one-stop shop. It's a well-researched, damning picture of just what happens online. Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

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All the awful stuff online, all of its awful effects, all in one non-awful book.
- Candice

The Godmother : murder, vengeance, and the bloody struggle of Mafia women

Nadeau, Barbie Latza, author.

True Crime, Biographies

In this engrossing account, Nadeau (Roadmap to Hell: Sex, Drugs and Guns on the Mafia Coast) combines diligent research, hours of personal interviews, and vivid prose to immerse the reader in the world of Italian Mafia women. Nadeau tells the stories of those who defected and turned evidence against the mob, such as wives who betrayed their husbands, but she focuses on the unrepentant women, Assanta "Pupetta" Maresca chief among them. Born into a crime family in 1935, she married a mobster who was assassinated when she was 18 and pregnant. To retaliate, Maresca pumped 29 bullets into the man who ordered the hit and spent the next 10 years in prison, where she gave birth to her son, before being pardoned for the murder in 1965. She went on to remarry a mob underboss, but was sent back to prison in 1978 for another murder, which was overturned on appeal four years later. Maresca spent the 1980s wielding enormous influence in the crime organization, revered as the godmother and the Lady of Camorra. Even in her old age, she was celebrated as a self-made woman and was the first Mafia woman to be banned from having a public funeral due to her bloodthirsty life, when she died on New Year's Eve 2021. This look at the "feminine" side of the Mafia is a must for true crime fans. (Sept.) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

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This doesn't really need an explanation, it's just one of those slice-of-life books where that slice is so storied, all mystery and danger, and so different from our own.
- Candice