Nov 1, 2014

The Last of the Doughboys - Richard Rubin

The last of the doughboys : the forgotten generation and their forgotten World WarThe Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War - Rubin, Richard

Summary: Collected over ten years, presents interviews with the last remaining World War I veterans, aged 101 to 113, to paint a picture of a time and a generation that, despite memorials and history lessons, is quickly fading away.




Booklist Reviews
There may be as many as a million surviving veterans of WWII, and their stream of memoirs continues, contributing to their place as part of the "Greatest Generation." But the last known American veteran of the Great War died in 2011. Determined to obtain and document the remembrances of the surviving "doughboys," journalist Rubin began an effort to locate and interview many of them a decade ago. The result is this fascinating and deeply moving collection of individual stories. These veterans, between the ages of 101 and 113, tell their stories in sometimes halting ways; but aided by the patience and prompting of Rubin, they provide a vivid picture of their wartime experiences as well as the vastly different American society from which they sprang. Most of these men came from rural backgrounds, and they used horsepower rather than tractors to plow fields. Some describe their shock at their first exposure to industrial-scale warfare, while others stepped easily into the beginnings of aerial combat. Some recall the comradeship, while others emphasize the terror of trench warfare. This is an important and masterful tribute to those who participated in a conflict that continues to shape the world today.

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To Sail a Darkling Sea - John Ringo

To sail a darkling seaTo Sail a Darkling Sea - Ringo, John

Summary: With human civilization annihilated by a biological zombie plague, a rag tag fleet of yachts and freighters known as Wolf Squadron scours the Atlantic, searching for survivors. Within every abandoned liner and carrier lurks a potential horde of zombies but also holds the flickering hope of survivors. Now Wolf Squadron must clear the assault carrier USS Iwo Jima of infected before the trapped Marines and sailors succumb to starvation.


Booklist Reviews
In Under a Graveyard Sky (2013), Ringo introduced Steve Smith, an Australian ex-paratrooper; his wife, Stacey; and their teenage daughters, Sophia and Faith. After the zombie apocalypse, the family fled New York in a boat loaded with supplies and weaponry. Their initial plan was to find a place to hole up until the man-made plague died out, but soon they sought other vessels and set about rescuing their survivors (after first "clearing" the boats of the infected). Now the makeshift flotilla, operating with the cooperation of what remains of the U.S. government, has become a sort of oceangoing city. And the mission has grown in scope: along with clearing any vessels the flotilla encounters, Smith and his fellow sailors will attempt to clear small towns, making their way to Guantanamo Bay, where they will use the medical facilities to begin manufacturing a vaccine. Not only has Ringo found a mostly unexplored corner of the zombie landscape, he's using the zombie frame to tackle a broader theme: the collapse and rebirth of civilization. The zombie scenes are exciting, sure, but it's the human story that keeps us involved. A fine series.

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Pomegranates & Pine Nuts - Bethany Kehdy

Pomegranates & pine nuts : a stunning collection of Lebanese, Moroccan and Persian recipesPomegranates & Pine Nuts: A Stunning Collection of Lebanese, Moroccan and Persian Recipes - Kehdy, Bethany

Summary: Provides 100+ new recipes that will introduce you to the wonders of the Middle East and change any thought you might have had that this hearty cuisine is complicated or laborious.



Publishers Weekly Reviews
In her first cookbook, Kehdy tackles the cuisine of both her personal and her ethnic past. Having written her own food blog, she currently works as a recipe developer and food writer; the next step was obviously a book paying homage to the recipes of her history. With sections covering the entire meal, from mezze to dessert, for both carnivores and vegetarians, the book covers a great deal of ground. From simple Middle Eastern takes on classic dishes like Corn-on-the-Kabab and Ma'amoul Shortbread Cookies to the more complex, traditional Tamarind & Herb Mackerel Stew and Chicken Basteeya (although this is a little experimental, as classic basteeya is made with pigeon). Additional sections cover basics such as what should be kept in a "Middle Eastern and North African pantry" and "basic recipes and methods," in which many of the classical sauces, dipping sauces, ingredients, and techniques for creating the delicacies are covered. Kehdy's book presents an entire culinary world and tradition, ready to excite and challenge the Middle Eastern and North African eater.

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Breakfast for Dinner - Lyndsay Landis

Breakfast for dinner : recipes for frittata florentine, huevos rancheros, sunny-side-up burgers, and more!Breakfast for Dinner: Recipes for Frittata Florentine, Huevos Rancheros, Sunny-Side Up Burgers, and More! - Landis, Lyndsay

Summary: Offers recipes for typical breakfast dishes with an added twist to make them appropriate for dinner, including bacon fried rice, breakfast ravioli, egg and chorizo burritos, and cornmeal pancakes with beer-braised short ribs.


Library Journal Reviews
With such recipes as Nova Lox Bruschetta, Bacon Fried Rice, and Doughnut Fudge Sundaes, Landis and her husband/co-blogger Hackbarth bring elegance, ethnic variety, and whimsy to breakfast favorites served as dinner. If you'd like to entertain guests with creative cocktails and appetizers, or settle down to a comforting dinner, this cookbook will give you plenty of choices, from Bacon Old-Fashioneds and Parmesan Beignets to Habanero-Cheddar Bread Pudding. VERDICT Bringing depth to what could have been a trite concept, this is a fun, versatile, and beautifully photographed collection.

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A Cook's Journey to Japan - Sarah Marx Feldner

A cook's journey to Japan : fish tales and rice paddies : 100 homestyle recipes from Japanese kitchensA Cook's Journey to Japan - Feldner, Sarah Marx

Summary: The author recounts her adventures travelling throughout Japan and presents one hundred recipes she collected from home cooks she met along the way, with a discussion on tools, utensils, cooking techniques, and unique Japanese ingredients.

LJ Express Reviews
In this excellent compilation of traditional and contemporary Japanese cooking, Feldner focuses on certain regional specialties like Oyaki (vegetable-stuffed rolls) to reveal the diversity within Japanese cuisine. As Feldner points out, Japan is a small country with extremely different terrains, leading to distinct regional cooking styles. Her extensive travels throughout the lesser-known areas of Japan shine through in her distinctive recipes. Murata's fine photography is both beautiful and useful-many recipes feature a step-by-step photo guide of the preparation. The beginning of the book is an outstanding primer on ingredients and cooking tools that are distinctly Japanese. Verdict This gorgeous, original, and easy-to-use cookbook is recommended for all levels of experience and for palates that are open to new and varied flavors.

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A Natural History of Dragons - Marie Brennan

A natural history of dragons : a memoir by Lady TrentA Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir of Lady Trent - Brennan, Marie

Summary: A first entry in a new fantasy series by the author of the Onyx Court stories follows the tale of a bookish young woman whose passion for learning leads to revolutionary new understandings about dragons and defies the stifling conventions of her world.



Publishers Weekly Reviews
Isabella, Lady Trent, is a naturalist and adventurer in a country that more or less resembles 19th-century England, yet fantastical creatures roam, Judaism appears to be the dominant religion, and Europe once had an ancient Egypt-like civilization. Isabella has been obsessed with studying dragons since childhood, but a formal scientific career is off limits to a woman. Instead she marries a man who shares her passion for natural history and convinces him to let her join his expedition to see the wild dragons of Vystrana. Along the way, Isabella solves a mystery and proves her worth as a naturalist. Brennan's stand-alone novel (unrelated to her Onyx Court series), written as Isabella's memoir of her youthful adventures, and beautifully illustrated by Todd Lockwood, is saturated with the joy and urgency of discovery and scientific curiosity. Isabella's life is genuinely complicated by her scientific leanings, yet she perseveres with perfectly period-accurate spirit and awareness of the risks and costs. Brennan's world-building is wonderfully subtle, rendering a familiar land alien with casual details. Fans of fantasy, science, and history will adore this rich and absorbing tale of discovery.

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Modern Nature-Inspired Quilts - Bernadette Mayr

Modern nature-inspired quilts : make 25 beautiful projects--no rulers or templates requiredModern Nature-Inspired Quilts - Mayr, Bernadette

Summary: A full-color guide employs free-cutting techniques to teach readers how to make more than two dozen imaginative projects, including not just quilts, but also wall-hangings, cushions and a child's backpack.



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Waistcoats & Weaponry - Gail Carriger

Waistcoats & weaponryWaistcoats & Weaponry - Carriger, Gail

Summary: In her alternate England of 1851, while taking her friend Sidheag by train to her werewolf pack in Scotland, sixteen-year-old Sophronia uncovers a plot that threatens to dissolve all of London into chaos and must decide where her loyalties lie once and for all.



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Start Something That Matters - Blake Mycoskie

Start something that mattersStart Something That Matters - Mycoskie, Blake

Summary: Describes the TOMS Shoes founder's transformation from a businessperson to an advocate, in an account that outlines his philosophy about working in ways that both fulfill material desires and have philanthropic and social benefits.




PW Annex Reviews
Best known as the founder of TOMS Shoes and as a contestant on The Amazing Race, Mycoskie uses his experience with TOMS, as well as interviews with leaders of non-profits and corporations, to convey valuable lessons about entrepreneurship, transparency of leadership, and living by one's values. The brilliant, simple mission of TOMS (for every pair of shoes purchased, they will give another pair away to children in need around the world) has inadvertently turned its customers into brand ambassadors, making this for-profit company with defined charitable goals wildly successful. Mycoskie deftly balances personal tales about starting a business with generally applicable lessons. While his story sometimes becomes repetitive and he treads familiar ground with start-up tales (motivate your overworked interns by feeding them, never be afraid to get your hands dirty), he offers excellent advice about the importance of honesty and principles in business. This book will appeal to the Millennial generation, who are known for seeking socially relevant jobs, as well as older workers looking to get back in touch with their values.

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Crocheting Clothes Kids Love - Shelby Allaho

Crocheting clothes kids love : includes 28 fun-to-wear projectsCrocheting Clothes Kids Love - Allaho, Shelby

Summary: Features twenty-five designs for garments and accessories for school-age children. Each stylish project for kids can be used with a variety of yarn types in easy-care fibers.



Library Journal Reviews
Most crochet books for children focus on babies and toddlers, so award-winning designer Allaho and crafter Gormley (Go Crochet! Afghan Design Workbook) decided to tackle clothes for a different group: children age six to 12. The collection features garments, including winter wear, and small accessories that take advantage of the lacy and whimsical motifs common in crochet. The projects are appropriate for crocheters of a variety of skill levels, and each one contains step-by-step written directions and full explanations of any special stitches used. Adults may even want some of the accessories for themselves, especially the pompom-studded caravan scarf, a cozy, shawl-like wrap that would suit grown-ups as well as it does youngsters. Allaho and Gormley include patterns for both boys and girls in the collection, and those aimed at boys are more than just token hats and scarves. VERDICT The unique emphasis will appeal to crocheters whose little ones have aged out of the baby and toddler patterns, and children in the target age group will enjoy wearing these designs.

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Mortal Heart - Robin LaFevers

Mortal heartMortal Heart - LaFevers, Robin

Summary: The powerful conclusion to Robin LaFever's New York Times best-selling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith's worst fears are realized when she discovers that, despite her lifelong training to be an assassin, she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever shut up in the convent of Saint Mortain.



Publishers Weekly Reviews
This final volume in LaFevers's much-praised His Fair Assassin trilogy centers on Annith, the most brilliant of the young women brought up in the convent of St. Mortain, an ancient Celtic god still very much present in the tale's 15th- century Brittany. Despite being unequalled with knives and bow, Annith has been refused assignment as an assassin by the Abbess even though her close friends, Sybella and Ismae, have already made their first kills. When a much younger and underprepared girl is sent out in her stead, probably to her death, Annith rebels, fleeing the convent. She hopes to aid the endangered Duchess of Brittany whose meager forces must protect their country from a French invasion. On her way, however, Annith meets Balthazaar—a Hellequin, one of the damned souls charged with bringing the recently dead to Mortain, but also "breathtakingly handsome in a dark, almost broken way"—and her life is changed forever. Both a powerful tale of political intrigue and a heady supernatural romance, this memorable adventure will entirely satisfy devotees of this series. Ages 14–up.

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Trophy Cupcakes and Parties! - Jennifer Shea

Trophy cupcakes & parties! : deliciously fun party ideas and recipes from Seattle's prize-winning cupcake bakeryTrophy Cupcakes and Parties!: Deliciously Fun Party Ideas and Recipes from Seattle's Prize-Winning Cupcake Bakery - Shea, Jennifer

Summary: A guide to hosting luxurious parties ranges from crafty kid bashes to sophisticated engagement celebrations and exotic themed gatherings, in a reference complemented by favorite recipes from the Seattle cupcake bakery.

Library Journal Reviews
Trophy Cupcakes & Party founder Shea shares how she designs inspired theme parties for children and adults (hint: worksheets and helpers are involved). Ambitious readers can dive straight into planning elaborate fêtes like Destination: Paris—complete with crème bruleé cupcakes, hand-dyed streamers, signature cocktails, and a French buffet—and novices can start with tips and tricks in Party Planning 101. Be sure to read the cupcake assembly instructions in each party-planning section; the batter recipes at the back of the book omit the accompanying frostings and decorations. VERDICT No detail is spared in this epic entertaining guide that can help readers learn to pipe perfect frosting ruffles and assemble a homemade piñata. Highly recommended.

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Code Name: Johnny Walker

Code name, Johnny Walker : the extraordinary story of the Iraqi who risked everything to fight with the U.S. Navy SEALsCode Name: Johnny Walker: The Extraordinary Story of the Iraqi Who Risked Everything to Fight with the U.S. Navy SEALs - Walker, Johnny

Summary: This extraordinary story of the Iraqi translator "Johnny Walker," who risked his life working with the Navy SEALs to save countless American lives, reveals how his job made him and his family targets, forcing them to flee to California where he continues to work with the military, training new SEALs.


Booklist Reviews
If Walker, a pseudonym, told us his real name, he'd be endangering his family in Iraq. He lives now in the U.S. but was given the code name "Johnny Walker" by the SEALs when he was working in Iraq with the Americans as an interpreter. How did an Iraqi family man wind up accompanying the American SEALs on multiple missions, many of which resulted in the deaths of Iraqi citizens? It's not a complicated question: the author is a man who loves his country but hated what was being done to it by Saddam Hussein. When the American soldiers came, he saw a chance to help bring justice and peace back to his country. This is an excellent memoir, a story about the post-9/11 war in Iraq as told by someone who is simultaneously an insider and an outsider (he's not a military man). Coauthor DeFelice is a veteran military-fiction and -nonfiction writer, and it's easy to suspect that he provided much of the book's structure and narrative description. But the voice—earnest, disillusioned, passionate, patriotic—seems undeniably to be that of the pseudonymous "Johnny Walker."

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Catastrophe 1914 - Max Hastings

Catastrophe 1914 : Europe goes to warCatastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War - Hastings, Max

Summary: A history of the outbreak of World War I from the breakdown of diplomacy to the dramatic battles that occurred before the war bogged down in the trenches.




Booklist Reviews
After writing almost exclusively about WWII, eminent historian Hastings (Inferno) turns his attention to the outbreak of WWI. Chronicling both the prelude to the war and its initial battles, he concentrates on events occurring between June 28, 1914, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, and December 31, 1914, when soldiers on both sides of the conflict languished in trenches. Drawing on accounts generated from rarified diplomatic circles, seasoned military leaders, and ordinary citizens helplessly caught up in the international catastrophe, he examines the origins and the onset of the Great War in minute and vivid detail. Hastings, unlike many contemporary historians, refuses to indulge in any retrospective hand-wringing, concluding rather firmly that Germany and Austria must accept principal blame for the war and that it is an analytical and an ethical mistake to believe that it did not matter which side won. This compelling reexamination of the commencement of the conflict represents an important contribution to the scholarship of the "war to end all wars."

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Garlic and Sapphires - Reichl, Ruth

Garlic and sapphires : the secret life of a critic in disguiseGarlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise - Reichl, Ruth

Summary: A new installment in the Gourmet editor-in-chief's series of memoirs recounts her visits to some of the world's most acclaimed restaurants, both as herself and as an anonymous diner in disguise, to offer insight into how her dining experiences changed according to her character and whether or not she was recognized.



Booklist Reviews
This third volume of Reichl's autobiography covers her years as the New York Times' powerful restaurant critic, and readers of her previous books will relish the tales of her life at the summit of her power. Having been lured east from a successful stint in Los Angeles, Reichl faces a hideously competitive market, where even her predecessor seems out to get her. She adopts a number of disguises to keep restaurant owners from recognizing her. Repeated visits to Le Cirque, Sirio Maccioni's lionized temple of dining, yield wildly differing experiences, so she pens a so-so review only to find out it's the publisher's favorite restaurant. Reichl's insistence on reviewing non-mainstream restaurants upsets those who think Manhattan ends at Central Park North. Reichl offers few other insights into the inner workings of the nation's most powerful newspaper. Some of the book's most affecting episodes involve her young son's love of potatoes in all forms. And a touching encounter with a homeless man in the subway after a particularly chic and elegant lunch outlines the ironies of her profession. Reichl reproduces a number of her most significant reviews, and she also offers recipes for favorite dishes.

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Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah - Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi

Summary: A young woman from Nigeria leaves behind her home and her first love to start a new life in America, only to find her dreams are not all she expected.




Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* To the women in the hair-braiding salon, Ifemelu seems to have everything a Nigerian immigrant in America could desire, but the culture shock, hardships, and racism she's endured have left her feeling like she has "cement in her soul." Smart, irreverent, and outspoken, she reluctantly left Nigeria on a college scholarship. Her aunty Uju, the pampered mistress of a general in Lagos, is now struggling on her own in the U.S., trying to secure her medical license. Ifemelu's discouraging job search brings on desperation and depression until a babysitting gig leads to a cashmere-and-champagne romance with a wealthy white man. Astonished at the labyrinthine racial strictures she's confronted with, Ifemelu, defining herself as a "Non-American Black," launches an audacious, provocative, and instantly popular blog in which she explores what she calls Racial Disorder Syndrome. Meanwhile, her abandoned true love, Obinze, is suffering his own cold miseries as an unwanted African in London. MacArthur fellow Adichie (The Thing around Your Neck, 2009) is a word-by-word virtuoso with a sure grasp of social conundrums in Nigeria, East Coast America, and England; an omnivorous eye for resonant detail; a gift for authentic characters; pyrotechnic wit; and deep humanitarianism. Americanah is a courageous, world-class novel about independence, integrity, community, and love and what it takes to become a "full human being."

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Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times (DVD)

Inventing LA the Chandlers and their TimesInventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Times (DVD)

Summary: The story of the Chandler family's influence over Los Angeles through their publication, the Los Angeles Times, and its entwinement with politics, civic ideals, and personal agendas.




Video Librarian Reviews
This PBS documentary, narrated by Liev Schreiber, chronicles the rise and fall of the Chandler family—who for four decades owned the Los Angeles Times and helped provide the vision that transformed L.A. from a sleepy agricultural town to a bustling metropolis—while also charting the shifting political culture and the decline of newspapers in the Internet age. Two-time Emmy Award–winning filmmaker Peter Jones traces the family lineage from the paper's founder, Harrison Gray Otis, a tireless, often self-serving California promoter and rabid anti-union businessman; to his son-in-law Harry Chandler, who became a trusted confidante, drawing the nickname "pirate visionary"; to the savvy third-generation head Norman Chandler, whose wife, Dorothy, built a concert hall and saved the Hollywood Bowl; and their son Otis, who led the Los Angeles Times into its glory days in the 1970s. Along the way, the paper exploited its political and Hollywood connections—at one point even encouraging MGM boss Louis B. Mayer to produce a fake documentary that helped crush socialist Upton Sinclair's bid to become state governor. Eventually, political divides, attempts to diversify holdings, and the gradual decline of the newspaper business led the Chandlers to sell to out-of-town interests. Drawing upon extensive archives, this is a vivid, informative social history, featuring insights from historians, former employees, and select family members. Recommended.

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Rules of Civility - Amor Towles

Rules of Civility - Towles, Amor

Summary: A chance encounter with a handsome banker in a jazz bar on New Year's Eve 1938 catapults Wall Street secretary Katey Kontent into the upper echelons of New York society, where she befriends a shy multi-millionaire, an Upper East Side ne'er-do-well, and a single-minded widow.



Booklist Reviews
This rhapsodic tribute to a bygone era conjures up mesmerizing images of 1930s New York. Two worlds collide on New Year's Eve 1937, and three lives will never be the same. For Katey Kontent and Eve Ross, two working gals out on the town, a chance encounter with patrician banker Tinker Grey sets into motion a series of events causing far-reaching consequences. As Towles explores the seemingly random ways in which both choice and chance can impact the future, Katey, Eve, and Tinker each face a dark night of the soul, during which fates are twisted, reshaped, and realigned. Discerning readers will draw parallels between Towles and the ominously ironic Edith Wharton while relishing the fact that the snappy dialogue and descriptive prose are wrapped in a compelling narrative.

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Rebozo de aromas - Esther Rizo Campomanes

Rebozo de aromasRebozo de aromas - Rizo Campomanes, Esther

Summary: A family’s intimate portrait is woven into the social changes that took place between the first half of the 19th century and the Mexican Revolution.




Library Journal Reviews
Rizo Campomanes's debut effort is published at the eve of her 89th birthday. This is the fictionalized story of her family's life from the mid 19th century to the 1920s. The author attended various writing workshops led by established Mexican writers, such as Elena Poniatowska and Monica Lavin, when Lavin recognized the quality of Rizo Campomanes' narrative. Born in Cuba of an exiled Mexican family, Rizo Campomanes here gives voice to her ancestors. Interweaving her own family tree, historical research, and the stories passed on through generations, she relates the past using a rich descriptive language, including Nahuatl. The dramatic story is not told in a linear fashion, although it does begin with an abandoned blonde baby of noble ancestry discovered by childless peasants (the author's great grandfather) and conclude with her mother arriving in Cuba to escape the Mexican Revolution. Notable characters are the author's two grandmothers (after both of whom the author is named): Eloisa, who cures people with psychic powers, and Esther, who remains mute after having left Mexico for Cuba. Rizo Campomanes, an avid reader, thinks of herself as having self-taught skills because she did not finish high school; we can only be grateful that she had the courage and stamina to finish this long-envisioned project.

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The Castle Behind Thorns - Merrie Haskell

The castle behind thornsThe Castle Behind Thorns - Haskell, Merrie

Summary: Awakening in the ruin of a castle with no memory of how he got there, Sand discovers that he is trapped inside by a thorny bramble before encountering the castle's lost heir, Perrotte, and embarking on an effort to gain their freedom.




Booklist Reviews
Sand, a 13-year-old boy who dreams of becoming a blacksmith, finds himself trapped in a magical castle with no means of escape. Destroyed in an earthquake 20 years earlier and surrounded by an impenetrable forest of deadly thorns, the Sundered Castle has always been the stuff of legend. As Sand repairs the damage around him piece by piece, the castle slowly returns to life, and when long-dead royal daughter Perrotte appears in the courtyard, Sand can no longer deny that there is powerful magic behind the castle's stories. Haskell has created a rich fantasy set in medieval Brittany that reads almost like a parable. Sand and Perrotte, each harboring deep secrets that explain their imprisonment, forge a tentative alliance that blossoms into true friendship as they work toward escape. Themes of self-reliance, forgiveness, and personal integrity figure prominently but are developed naturally through the intricate plot and personal growth of the characters. The straightforward narration belies the introspective core of this appealing story.

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Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

Neil Patrick Harris : choose your own autobiographyNeil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography - Harris, Neil Patrick

Summary: The Emmy Award-winning star of How I Met Your Mother shares his experiences as a child star, Broadway performer and father in an over-the-top, humorous account creatively designed in the style of the popular interactive adventure series.



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What If? - Randall Munroe

What if? : serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questionsWhat If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions - Munroe, Randall

Summary: The creator of the popular webcomic "xkcd" presents his heavily researched answers to his fans' oddest questions, including "What if I took a swim in a spent-nuclear-fuel pool?" and "Could you build a jetpack using downward-firing machine guns?"


Library Journal Reviews
Have you ever wondered at what point in history there were too many English-language books to read in one lifetime? Or what would happen to the Earth if the Sun didn't exist? Munroe has your answers. A former NASA roboticist, the author launched the weblog xkcd.com, which purposely has no phonetic pronunciation, in 2005. The blog's blend of math and science, sarcasm, and stick-figure drawings has gained a loyal following. (His etching of someone who reads a book on juggling, tries to juggle, fails, and immediately trashes the book is especially poignant.) In 2012, Munroe started answering reader-submitted hypotheticals using Internet research along with his own knowledge. That series, "What If," is the focus of this witty nonfiction debut, which features a plethora of new black-and-white cartoons. VERDICT Those who enjoyed the irreverent style of Allie Brosh's best-selling memoir, Hyperbole and a Half, will enjoy Munroe's serious and silly musings on everything from science to romance.

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The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza - Jack Gantos

The key that swallowed Joey PigzaThe Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza - Gantos, Jack

Summary: A conclusion to the series that includes Joey Pigza Loses Control finds Joey dropping out of school to help care for his baby brother and searching for clues to his father's disappearance.




Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* The fifth and (ostensibly) final book in the multi-award-winning Joey Pigza chronicle features all of the drama, havoc, and heart readers have come to expect, dread, and love. Joey is back in his roachy row house with his mother and new baby brother, Carter Jr., as the family works to find some normalcy following the tragicomic chaos perpetrated by his now-absent father. But it's not long before Fran, struggling with postpartum depression, checks herself into a hospital, leaving Joey to take care of the baby alone. Gantos piles on the problems, defining them in searing, heartrending detail; for all the peril of Joey's circumstances, it is his parents' brutal honesty that leaves welts. Still, Joey's indomitable spirit, grounded in his fierce, tender devotion to baby Carter and expressed through Gantos' inimitable comic tone, shows the fragile adults around him just what it looks like to be the man of the house. The book, with the series, closes on a fitting note of tenuous, plausible hope. High-Demand Backstory: The conclusion of Gantos' beloved and much-lauded series is big news, and Joey's fans of all ages will want to grab their copies as soon as possible.

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Ten Years in the Tub - Nick Hornby

Ten years in the tub : a decade soaking in great booksTen Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books - Hornby, Nick

Summary: Culling the best of his monthly column "Stuff I've Been Reading" in The Believer magazine, the bestselling author presents hilarious observations on a vast array of topics, and provides a wide-ranging reader list that serves as a reminder as to why we read.


Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* How often do you begin reading a book that makes you—immediately, urgently, desperately—want to read more books? Collecting 10 years of Hornby's wonderful Stuff I've Been Reading column in The Believer, this is the next best thing to having a real-live Hornby to urge you on. Each column starts with a list of Books Bought and Books Read, instructive in themselves, and then proceeds to a digressive discussion that is as much about the enterprise of reading as it is about the books he discusses; I haven't even read the books I think I've read. I can't tell you how depressing this is. Frequently funny and endlessly quotable, Hornby's columns discuss reading out of his comfort zone, binge reading, reading fasts (usually when soccer season starts), reading his writer-friends' books, and the rarely aired idea that, sometimes, when a book doesn't seem good, maybe—just maybe—it's the reader's fault. Through it all, he struggles, cheekily, against The Believer's dictum that all reviews be positive. (Disliked books, sadly, must not be named.) Bursting with enthusiasm and clear-eyed about the author's own contradictions, Ten Years in the Tub deserves to be devoured whole by anyone willing to spare 10 minutes to think about the books they read.

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Paganini's Ghost - Paul Adam

Paganini's ghostPaganini's Ghost - Adam, Paul

Summary: After an unsavory art dealer is found dead in his hotel room, violinmaker Giovanni Castiglione must search for an instrument once owned by famed violinist Niccoláo Paganini--and solve a mystery that has gone unanswered for over a century.



Booklist Reviews
A day after a heavily promoted violin recital in Cremona, Italy, at which prize-winning Russian prodigy Yevgeny Ivanov plays the priceless violin once owned by Paganini, a visiting French art dealer is found murdered in his hotel room. When a scrap of paper torn from a Paganini piece played by Ivanov seems key to opening an ornate gold box found in the victim's possession, violin maker Gianni Castiglione (introduced in The Rainaldi Quartet, 2006) is called into the case by his friend, police detective Antonio Guastafeste. Castiglione cracks the code to find that the now-empty box once housed a small violin, setting him—with Guastafeste—on a cross-continental search, during which other murders are committed, and Castiglione must call on his knowledge of history, genealogy, and provenance to find long-missing treasures and solve the crimes. In this stylish mystery, widower Castiglione is further humanized by his developing romance with Margherita Severini and his relationship with young Ivanov. An intriguing puzzle combines with an enthralling mix of Italian ambience, history, and—most of all—music.

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Lionheart - Sharon Kay Penman

LionheartLionheart - Penman, Sharon Kay

Summary: A tale inspired by the life and reign of Richard I traces how a second surviving son of Henry Plantagenet and Eleanor of Aquitaine inherits the throne from his brother before embarking on the Third Crusade and a war against the Saracens, a conflict that is complicated by the schemes of his usurping brother, John.



Library Journal Reviews
The Saracens called him Malik Ric. The English called him Lionheart. In Penman's latest historical, Richard I, determined to conquer the Holy Land and capture Jerusalem, journeys first to Sicily and Cyprus to free his imprisoned sister, Joanna; battle against self-proclaimed emperor Isaac Comnenus; and marry his bride, Berengaria of Navarre. Despite the departure of the French from Outremer (the Crusader states established after the First Crusade), Richard seizes strategic cities in the Holy Land as he maintains diplomatic relations with the Saracens. His legendary feats in battle and genius as a military commander bring him closer to capturing the Holy City. When word reaches him that England is in turmoil, Richard must decide whether to make a peace treaty with the Saracens or continue to fight for Jerusalem. His surprising choice will leave readers begging for more of Lionheart; Penman will continue his story in 2012 with A King's Ransom. VERDICT As in her previous historical novels (Time and Chance) and mysteries, Penman expertly weaves well-researched historical events into her fast-paced revisionist story. Certain to appeal to historical fiction fans interested in the medieval era.

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The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

The Fault in Our Stars - Green, John

Summary: Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few more years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis, but when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at the Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.



Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* At 16, Hazel Grace Lancaster, a three-year stage IV–cancer survivor, is clinically depressed. To help her deal with this, her doctor sends her to a weekly support group where she meets Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer survivor, and the two fall in love. Both kids are preternaturally intelligent, and Hazel is fascinated with a novel about cancer called An Imperial Affliction. Most particularly, she longs to know what happened to its characters after an ambiguous ending. To find out, the enterprising Augustus makes it possible for them to travel to Amsterdam, where Imperial's author, an expatriate American, lives. What happens when they meet him must be left to readers to discover. Suffice it to say, it is significant. Writing about kids with cancer is an invitation to sentimentality and pathos—or worse, in unskilled hands, bathos. Happily, Green is able to transcend such pitfalls in his best and most ambitious novel to date. Beautifully conceived and executed, this story artfully examines the largest possible considerations—life, love, and death—with sensitivity, intelligence, honesty, and integrity. In the process, Green shows his readers what it is like to live with cancer, sometimes no more than a breath or a heartbeat away from death. But it is life that Green spiritedly celebrates here, even while acknowledging its pain. In its every aspect, this novel is a triumph.

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The Witch's Boy - Kelly Barnhill

The witch's boyThe Witch's Boy - Barnhill, Kelly

Summary: When a Bandit King comes to steal the magic that Ned's family is meant to take care of, Ned struggles to summon the strength to protect his family and community, while the bandit's daughter puzzles over a mystery that ties her to Ned.




Publishers Weekly Reviews
In a story of an unexpected hero, a thief's daughter, and some very tricky magic, Barnhill weaves a powerful narrative about the small tragedies that happen when parents fail their children, even with the best intentions. After Ned's twin brother, Tam, drowns, his mother, the village's Sister Witch, binds Tam's soul to Ned, who grows up as an awkward, stuttering boy ostracized by the rest of his village. Áine's widower father loves her, but he loves his life as a Bandit King more. The magic that touches both Ned and Áine draws their lives inexorably together as they are caught up in the machinations of King Ott's selfish empire-building. Barnhill (The Mostly True Story of Jack) makes bold character choices: Ned is soft, but never weak, while Áine is tough, prickly, yet sympathetic. Peripheral adults are well fleshed out, from Ned's father, devastated by the loss of one child and afraid to show his love for the other, to a sensible queen who knows the value of a good witch. Barnhill elegantly joins the story's diverse threads in a complex tale whose poignancy never turns sentimental. Ages 9–up.

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Soulless - Gail Carriger

SoullessSoulless - Carriger, Gail

Summary: The life of a spinster in Victorian London isn't an easy one on the best of days, but such a life becomes infinitely more complicated when said spinster is "soulless" - a preternatural bridging the gap between the natural and supernatural worlds. Miss Alexia Tarabotti has this unique distinction, and when she is assailed at a formal gathering by a rove vampire, an encounter that results in the death of the half-starved creature, her circumstances become exponentially more complicated indeed! Now caught up in an intrigue with life or death stakes, Alexia must rely on all her talents to outmatch the forces conspiring against her, but it may be the man who has caught her eye - Lord Conall Maccon - and their budding flirtation that truly drives her to her wit's end!

Publishers Weekly Review
*Starred Review* Carriger debuts brilliantly with a blend of Victorian romance, screwball comedy of manners and alternate history. Prickly, stubborn 25-year-old bluestocking Alexia Tarabotti is patently unmarriageable, and not just because she's large-nosed and swarthy. She's also soulless, an oddity and a secret even in a 19th-century London that mostly accepts and integrates werewolf packs, vampire hives and ghosts. The only man who notices her is brash Lord Conall Maccon, a Scottish Alpha werewolf and government official, and (of course) they dislike each other intensely. After Alexia kills a vampire with her parasol at a party—how vulgar!—she and Conall must work together to solve a supernatural mystery that grows quite steampunkishly gruesome. Well-drawn secondary characters round out the story, most notably Lord Akeldama, Alexia's outrageous, italic-wielding gay best vampire friend. This intoxicatingly witty parody will appeal to a wide cross-section of romance, fantasy and steampunk fans.

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Unmarked - Kami Garcia

UnmarkedUnmarked - Garcia, Kami

Summary: Kennedy Waters and her companions find themselves in a world where vengeance spirits kill, ghosts keep secrets, and a demon walks the Earth. As they learn more about their ancient secret society, its longtime rivals the Illuminati, and Kennedy's mysterious family, they wonder whether Kennedy is really meant to be a member of the Legion.



Booklist Reviews
Accidentally releasing the powerful demon Andras (in Unbreakable, 2013) leaves Kennedy Waters guilt-ridden, especially as destructive weather, widespread violence, and eerie kidnappings dominate the nightly news—surely it's a sign of Andras' evil at work. Even after her friends, especially hunky Jared, rescue her from boarding school, she still can't quite shake the feeling that she deserves all the blame. But her inner struggles quickly take a backseat to their quest to uncover the secret last member of the Legion, who happens to be Kennedy's long-lost relative. In this installment of Garcia's popular series, the teens dig up encoded clues all over the Eastern Seaboard to trace the ancient history of the Legion, and in the process, they learn life-altering truths about Kennedy's past and the source of her gifts. Garcia's cinematic scenes—full of timely reveals, terrifying moments of demonic possession, and crackerjack detective work— zip on by with a pace that rivals Dan Brown. That, coupled with snarky, mood-lightening teenage interludes, makes this a crowd-pleasing page-turner. Readers new to the series should start with the first installment.

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Ansel Adams: 400 Photographs - Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams : 400 photographsAnsel Adams: 400 Photographs - Adams, Ansel

Summary: A visual celebration of the eminent photographer's most significant works collects four hundred chronologically arranged, essay-complemented pieces, from his first landscapes of Yosemite and the High Sierra in 1916, to his depictions of national parks in the 1940s, to his last achievements from the 1960s.

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El Deafo - Cece Bell

El deafoEl Deafo - Bell, Cece

Summary: A poignant graphic tale based on the creator's own experiences with hearing loss follows the adventures of young Cece, who develops "superpowers" to manage the challenges of making friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid that sometimes lets her hear things she shouldn't.



Kirkus Reviews
A humorous and touching graphic memoir about finding friendship and growing up deaf. When Cece is 4 years old, she becomes "severely to profoundly" deaf after contracting meningitis. Though she is fitted with a hearing aid and learns to read lips, it's a challenging adjustment for her. After her family moves to a new town, Cece begins first grade at a school that doesn't have separate classes for the deaf. Her nifty new hearing aid, the Phonic Ear, allows her to hear her teacher clearly, even when her teacher is in another part of the school. Cece's new ability makes her feel like a superhero—just call her "El Deafo"—but the Phonic Ear is still hard to hide and uncomfortable to wear. Cece thinks, "Superheroes might be awesome, but they are also different. And being different feels a lot like being alone." Bell (Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover, 2012) shares her childhood experiences of being hearing impaired with warmth and sensitivity, exploiting the graphic format to amplify such details as misheard speech. Her whimsical color illustrations (all the human characters have rabbit ears and faces), clear explanations and Cece's often funny adventures help make the memoir accessible and entertaining. Readers will empathize with Cece as she tries to find friends who aren't bossy or inconsiderate, and they'll rejoice with her when she finally does. Worthy of a superhero.

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Lifetime - Lola Schaefer



Lifetime : the amazing numbers in animal livesLifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives - Schaefer, Lola

A counting primer combines contrasting illustrations with animal facts that invite young children to count a woodpecker's thirty roosting holes, a giraffe's two hundred spots, and one thousand baby seahorses.

Booklist Reviews
Schaefer combines her interest in animals and her fascination with numbers, using sparse text to introduce both animals and a numerical fact about a specific characteristic of each animal. An introduction provides the caveat that approximations differ depending on many factors in the life of the animal. The text is matter-of-fact, and the colors of the mixed-media illustrations subdued, but they complement each other in tone. It takes a bit to realize that Neal's illustration for each animal matches the number Schaefer uses in the text. For instance, the illustration for sea horses has 1,000 "teeny-weeny, squiggly-wiggly baby sea horses." (Feel up to counting all of them?) Thankfully, as part of the back matter, Schaefer adds detailed information about each animal and its life span, how she calculated the estimations she uses throughout the book, two animal math problems to solve, and more. Fills a clever niche for both animal science and mathematics.

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War Brides - Helen Bryan

War bridesWar Brides - Bryan, Helen

Summary: Five women form a bond of friendship in the English village of Crowmarch Priors as they find their lives altered by loss and love during World War II.

Journal Gazette and Times-Courier Review
It will enthrall you until you get to the end, which you might want to relish a second time, and then you’ll wish for a bit more.

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Oct 1, 2014

Behind the Beautiful Forevers - Katherine Boo

Behind the beautiful foreversBehind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity - Boo, Katherine

Summary: Profiles everyday life in the settlement of Annawadi as experienced by a Muslim teen, an ambitious rural mother, and a young scrap metal thief, illuminating how their efforts to build better lives are challenged by religious, caste, and economic tensions.



Kirkus Reviews
In her debut, Pulitzer Prize–winning New Yorker staff writer Boo creates an intimate, unforgettable portrait of India's urban poor. Mumbai's sparkling new airport and surrounding luxury hotels welcome visitors to the globalized, privatized, competitive India. Across the highway, on top of tons of garbage and next to a vast pool of sewage, lies the slum of Annawadi, one of many such places that house the millions of poor of Mumbai. For more than three years, Boo lived among and learned from the residents, observing their struggles and quarrels, listening to their dreams and despair, recording it all. She came away with a detailed portrait of individuals daring to aspire but too often denied a chance--their lives viewed as an embarrassment to the modernized wealthy. The author poignantly details these many lives: Abdul, a quiet buyer of recyclable trash who wished for nothing more than what he had; Zehrunisa, Abdul's mother, a Muslim matriarch among hostile Hindu neighbors; Asha, the ambitious slum leader who used her connections and body in a vain attempt to escape from Annawadi; Manju, her beautiful, intelligent daughter whose hopes laid in the new India of opportunity; Sunil, the master scavenger, a little boy who would not grow; Meena, who drank rat poison rather than become a teenage bride in a remote village; Kalu, the charming garbage thief who was murdered and left by the side of the road. Boo brilliantly brings to life the residents of Annawadi, allowing the reader to know them and admire the fierce intelligence that allows them to survive in a world not made for them. The best book yet written on India in the throes of a brutal transition

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