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“I cannot live without books”
Thomas Jefferson

NEW RELEASES

What It’s Like to Be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing–What Birds Are Doing, and Why ( Sibley Guides )
By David  Alan Sibley

Penguin Random House $35.00

 

“Can birds smell?” “Is this the same cardinal that was at my feeder last year?” “Do robins ‘hear’ worms?” In What It’s Like to Be a Bird, David Sibley answers the most frequently asked questions about the birds we see most often. This special, large-format volume is geared as much to nonbirders as it is to the out-and-out obsessed, covering more than two hundred species and including more than 330 new illustrations by the author. While its focus is on familiar backyard birds–blue jays, nuthatches, chickadees–it also examines certain species that can be fairly easily observed, such as the seashore-dwelling Atlantic puffin. David Sibley’s exacting artwork and wide-ranging expertise bring observed behaviors vividly to life. (For most species, the primary illustration is reproduced life-sized.) And while the text is aimed at adults–including fascinating new scientific research on the myriad ways birds have adapted to environmental changes–it is nontechnical, making it the perfect occasion for parents and grandparents to share their love of birds with young children, who will delight in the big, full-color illustrations of birds in action. Unlike any other book he has written, What It’s Like to Be a Bird is poised to bring a whole new audience to David Sibley’s world of birds.

How Much of These Hills is Gold
By Pam C. Zhang
Penguin Random House $26

Ba dies in the night; Ma is already gone. Newly orphaned children of immigrants, Lucy and Sam are suddenly alone in a land that refutes their existence. Fleeing the threats of their western mining town, they set off to bury their father in the only way that will set them free from their past. Along the way, they encounter giant buffalo bones, tiger paw prints, and the specters of a ravaged landscape as well as family secrets, sibling rivalry, and glimpses of a different kind of future.Both epic and intimate, blending Chinese symbolism and re-imagined history with fiercely original language and storytelling, How Much of These Hills Is Gold is a haunting adventure story, an unforgettable sibling story, and the announcement of a stunning new voice in literature. On a broad level, it explores race in an expanding country and the question of where immigrants are allowed to belong. But page by page, it’s about the memories that bind and divide families, and the yearning for home.

Three Hours in Paris
By Cara Black
Penguin Random House $27.95

ate Rees, a young American markswoman, has been recruited by British intelligence to drop into Paris with a dangerous assignment: assassinate the Führer. Wrecked by grief after a Luftwaffe bombing killed her husband and infant daughter, she is armed with a rifle, a vendetta, and a fierce resolve. But other than rushed and rudimentary instruction, she has no formal spy training. Thrust into the red-hot center of the war, a country girl from rural Oregon finds herself holding the fate of the world in her hands. When Kate misses her mark and the plan unravels, Kate is on the run for her life–all the time wrestling with the suspicion that the whole operation was a set-up.

The Mountains Sing
By Nguyen PHan Que Mai
Algonquin Books $26.95

With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the BanyanThe Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart.Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

Afterlife
By Julia Alvarez
Algonquin Books $25.95

Antonia Vega, the immigrant writer at the center of Afterlife, has had the rug pulled out from under her. She has just retired from the college where she taught English when her beloved husband, Sam, suddenly dies. And then more jolts: her bighearted but unstable sister disappears, and Antonia returns home one evening to find a pregnant, undocumented teenager on her doorstep. Antonia has always sought direction in the literature she loves–lines from her favorite authors play in her head like a soundtrack–but now she finds that the world demands more of her than words.Afterlife is a compact, nimble, and sharply droll novel. Set in this political moment of tribalism and distrust, it asks: What do we owe those in crisis in our families, including–maybe especially–members of our human family? How do we live in a broken world without losing faith in one another or ourselves? And how do we stay true to those glorious souls we have lost?

Mornings with Rosemary
By Libby Page
Simon & Schuster $16.99

Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child … When a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat. As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history–with the help of a charming photographer–she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman.

Russians Among Us:  Sleeper Cells, Ghost Stories, and the Hunt for Putin’s Spies
By Gordon Corera
Harper Collins $32.50

Spies have long been a source of great fascination in the world of fiction, but sometimes the best spy stories happen in real life. Russians Among Us tells the full story of Putin’s escalating espionage campaign in the West, the Russian ‘deep cover’ spies who penetrated the US and the years-long FBI hunt to capture them. This book also details the recruitment, running, and escape of one of the most important spies of modern times, a man who worked inside the heart of Russian intelligence. In this thrilling account Corera tracks not only the history, but the astonishing evolution of Russian espionage, including the use of ‘cyber illegals’ who continue to manipulate us today and pose a significant threat to the 2020 election.

Like a scene from the TV drama The Americans, in the summer of 2010 a group of Russian deep cover sleeper agents were arrested. It was the culmination of a decade-long investigation, and ten people, including Anna Chapman, were swapped for four people held in Russia. At the time it was seen simply as a throwback to the Cold War. But that would prove to be a costly mistake. It was a sign that the Russian threat had never gone away and more importantly, it was shifting into a much more disruptive new phase. Today, the danger is clearer than ever following the poisoning in the UK of one of the spies who was swapped, Sergei Skripal, and the growing evidence of Russian interference in American life.

Russians Among Us describes for the first time the story of deep cover spies in America and the FBI agents who tracked them. In intimate and riveting detail, it reveals new information about today’s spies–as well as those trying to catch them and those trying to kill them.

Overkill:  When Modern Medicine Goes Too Far
By Paul A. Offit, MD
Harper Collins $28.99

An acclaimed medical expert and patient advocate offers an eye-opening look at many common and widely used medical interventions that have been shown to be far more harmful than helpful. Yet, surprisingly, despite clear evidence to the contrary, most doctors continue to recommend them. Modern medicine has significantly advanced in the last few decades as more informed practices, thorough research, and incredible breakthroughs have made it possible to successfully treat and even eradicate many serious ailments. Illnesses that once were a death sentence, such as HIV and certain forms of cancer, can now be managed, allowing those affected to live longer, healthier lives. Because of these advances, we now live 30 years longer than we did 100 years ago. But while we have learned much in the preceding decades that has changed our outlook and practices, we still rely on medical interventions that are vastly out of date and can adversely affect our health. We all know that finishing the course of antibiotics prevents the recurrence of illness, that sunscreens block harmful UV rays that cause skin cancer, and that all cancer-screening programs save lives. But do scientific studies really back this up? In this game-changing book, Dr. Paul A. Offit debunks fifteen common medical interventions that have long been considered gospel despite mounting evidence of their adverse effects, from vitamins, sunscreen, fever-reducing medicines, and eyedrops for pink eye to more serious procedures like heart stents and knee surgery. Analyzing how these practices came to be, the biology of what makes them so ineffective and harmful, and the medical culture that continues to promote them, Overkill informs patients to help them advocate for their health. By educating ourselves, we can ask better questions about some of the drugs and surgeries that are all too readily available — and all too heavily promoted.