Spinecrackers (11/05/2021): Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (cover)

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

In this brilliant book, Isabel Wilkerson gives us a masterful portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through an immersive, deeply researched narrative and stories about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.
Beautifully written, original, and revealing, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents is an eye-opening story of people and history, and a reexamination of what lies under the surface of ordinary lives and of American life today.


Next Meeting:
November 5th @ 10:00 AM at Hybrid at Harnish (in-person or online participation are both available)

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Spinecrackers (10/01/2021): The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires (cover)

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Patricia Campbell’s life has never felt smaller. Her husband is a workaholic, her teenage kids have their own lives, her senile mother-in-law needs constant care, and she’s always a step behind on her endless to-do list. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime. At these meetings they’re as likely to talk about the Manson family as they are about their own families.

One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor’s handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. James is well traveled and well read, and he makes Patricia feel things she hasn’t felt in years. But when children on the other side of town go missing, their deaths written off by local police, Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt. The real problem? James is a monster of a different kind—and Patricia has already invited him in.

Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia’s life and try to take everything she took for granted—including the book club—but she won’t surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.


Next Meeting:
October 1st @ 10:00 AM at Virtual

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Spinecrackers (09/03/2021): The Girl with the Louding Voice

The Girl with the Louding Voice (cover)

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

The unforgettable, inspiring story of a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village who longs to get an education so that she can find her “louding voice” and speak up for herself, The Girl with the Louding Voice is a simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams. Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her path, Adunni never loses sight of her goal of escaping the life of poverty she was born into so that she can build the future she chooses for herself – and help other girls like her do the same. Her spirited determination to find joy and hope in even the most difficult circumstances imaginable will “break your heart and then put it back together again” (Jenna Bush Hager on The Today Show) even as Adunni shows us how one courageous young girl can inspire us all to reach for our dreams…and maybe even change the world.


Next Meeting:
September 3rd @ 10:00 AM at Hybrid at Harnish (in-person or online participation are both available)

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Spinecrackers (08/06/2021): Mexican Gothic

Mexican Gothic (cover)

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . . From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes “a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror” (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

“It’s as if a supernatural power compels us to turn the pages of the gripping Mexican Gothic.”—The Washington Post
“Mexican Gothic is the perfect summer horror read, and marks Moreno-Garcia with her hypnotic and engaging prose as one of the genre’s most exciting talents.”—Nerdist
“A period thriller as rich in suspense as it is in lush ’50s atmosphere.”—Entertainment Weekly


Next Meeting:
August 6th @ 10:00 AM at Hybrid at Harnish (in-person or online participation are both available)

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Spinecrackers (07/02/2021): The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (cover)

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

A murder mystery novel inspired by Agatha Christie with a dash of Groundhog Day and a hint of Quantum Leap and Downton Abbey.

Aiden Bishop knows the rules. Evelyn Hardcastle will die every day until he can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest at Blackheath Manor. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others. With a locked-room mystery that Agatha Christie would envy, Stuart Turton unfurls a breakneck novel of intrigue and suspense.

The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a breathlessly addictive mystery that follows one man’s race against time to find a killer, with an astonishing time-turning twist that means nothing and no one are quite what they seem.


Next Meeting:
July 2nd @ 10:00 AM at Virtual Library

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Spinecrackers (06/04/2021): Home Before Dark

Home Before Dark (cover)

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

“Maggie Holt doesn’t believe in paranormal things, even though they are the details of the story that made her family famous. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved to Baneberry Hall. They spent twenty days there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a horror memoir, House of Horrors. His tale rivaled The Amityville Horror in popularity – and skepticism. Maggie has lived her life in the shadow of her father’s book, so when she inherits Baneberry Hall after his death, she returns to renovate the house to prepare it for sale. As Maggie experiences strange occurrences straight out of Ewan’s book, she starts to wonder if what he wrote was more fact than fiction”– Provided by publisher.


Next Meeting:
June 4th @ 10:00 AM at Virtual Library

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Spinecrackers (05/07/2021): My Dark Vanessa

My Dark Vanessa (cover)

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Exploring the psychological dynamics of the relationship between a precocious yet naïve teenage girl and her magnetic and manipulative teacher, a brilliant, all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of Room, My Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.


Next Meeting:
May 7th @ 10:00 AM at Virtual Library

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Spinecrackers (04/02/2021): We Ride Upon Sticks

We Ride Upon Sticks (cover)

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

“Set in the coastal town of Danvers, Massachusetts, where the accusations began that led to the 1692 Salem witch trials, We Ride Upon Sticks follows the 1989 Danvers High School Falcons field hockey team, who’ll do anything to make it to the state finals–even if it means tapping into some devilishly dark powers … Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza (whose bleached blond ‘Claw’ sees and knows all), the Falcons prove to be wily, original, and bold, flaunting society’s stale notions of femininity in order to find their glorious true selves through the crucible of team sport and, more important, friendship”–Dust jacket flap.


Next Meeting:
April 2nd @ 10:00 AM at Virtual Library

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Spinecrackers (03/05/2021): The Bromance Book Club

The Bromance Book Club (cover)

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

The first rule of book club:
You don’t talk about book club.
Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.
Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.
Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.


Next Meeting:
March 5th @ 10:00 AM at Virtual Library

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