Sep 1, 2014

Devil in the Grove - Gilbert King

Devil in the grove : Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the dawn of a new AmericaDevil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America - King, Gilbert

Summary: Chronicles a little-known court case in which Thurgood Marshall successfully saved a black citrus worker from the electric chair after the worker was accused of raping a white woman with three other black men. Winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.



Booklist Reviews
In 1951 Thurgood Marshall had already begun the Brown v. Board of Education case when he took on an explosive case to save the only survivor of the Groveland Four, young black men wrongfully accused of raping a white woman in central Florida. The young woman, estranged from her husband, concocted a rape accusation involving two black men recently returned from military service and two other, unrelated men. One of the accused was killed by a vigilante mob. After a reversal of their convictions, as they faced a retrying of the case, two others were killed by the sheriff charged with protecting them. King draws on court documents and FBI archives to offer a compelling chronicle of the accusation, which led to a paroxysm of violence against the black community in Groveland, reminiscent of the destruction of Rosewood, in 1923; brutal beatings that led to forced confessions; and the dramatic trial. Marshall, physically exhausted and facing threats to his life, was housed, fed, and protected by a black community encouraged by his presence as he battled to save the life of the last remaining member of the Groveland Four.

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Buddhist Boot Camp - Timber Hawkeye

Buddhist boot campBuddhist Boot Camp - Hawkeye, Timber

Summary: Brief chapters introduce mindfulness-enhancing techniques that draw from Buddhist philosophies and practices to help improve aspects of life ranging from love, relationships, and success to understanding, fear, and gratitude.



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Pontoon - Garrison Keillor

Pontoon : a Lake Wobegon novelPontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegone - Keillor, Garrison

Summary: Astonished to learn that her impeccable mother led a secret life marked by her passionate love for a Las Vegas man and a private commitment to pleasure, Barbara elects to end destructive patterns in her own life while honoring her mother's final wishes.



Booklist Reviews
When the angel of death came for Evelyn Peterson, she didn't know that Debbie Detmer would be back in Lake Wobegon for the first time in ages to be married, kinda, in a big lakeside ceremony on a pontoon boat with, among other things, a parachuting Elvis impersonator and a hot-air balloon—all on the day Evelyn's memorial, also at the lake, would be held. Of course, how could she know that? Nobody else in town knew Debbie was coming, except for her parents, and given how Walter's been since that fall in the bathroom, maybe only Mrs. D. could be said to have known. During the days 'twixt death and marriage, lots happens. Barbara, Evelyn's daughter, learns that her mother hadn't been visiting relatives on her many out-of-town jaunts; she'd been partying with Raoul, the man she should have married. Barbara's son Kyle decides to honor Grandma's wish to have her ashes deposited in the lake by dropping them while parasailing. Now consider the possibilities with faux Elvis, balloon, and Kyle fleeting over the lake simultaneously . . . It's just the capper to a hyperbusy slice of small-town life of the sort that Keillor regularly exploits so hilariously and affectingly, and the moral of which may be that we'd all best be humble. Only comedian of horrors Christopher Moore, in his tales of Pine Cove, California, rivals Keillor as a provincial farceur.

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The Cahill Witch Chronicles - Jessica Spotswood

Born wickedThe Cahill Witch Chronicles - Spotswood, Jessica

Summary: In an alternate New England of 1900, where the Brotherhood dominates and controls society, sixteen-year-old Cate Cahill has struggled since her mother's death to keep secret that she and her younger sisters are witches, but when a governess arrives from the Sisterhood, everything changes.



Booklist Reviews
The prophecy written in Mother's diary is clear: "A trio of sisters will come of age, all witches. One of the sisters, who will be gifted with mind-magic, will be the most powerful witch born in centuries." Her daughters—Cate, Maura, and Tess—compose the trio, and Cate is the one who possesses mind-magic. But Mother is dead, Father is oblivious, and the Brotherhood is intent on stamping out all witches in New England in an effort to squelch female independence and initiative. How can Cate protect herself and her sisters from the Brotherhood's terrifying scrutiny? Spotswood has melded historical fiction with the paranormal into an intriguing story of witchcraft, family responsibility, and unrequited love. A constant undercurrent of uneasiness permeates the novel; readers will find themselves tantalized by Cate's two suitors and their marriage proposals, terrified by the Brotherhood's hatred and disgust of girls and women, and frustrated at the necessity to wait for the second book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles to learn what becomes of the sisters.

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A Year in Provence - Peter Mayle

A year in ProvenceA Year in Provence - Mayle, Peter

Summary: The author describes his experiences when he and his wife moved to a two-hundred-year-old French farmhouse, and shares his observations on the people and culture of Provence.




Publishers Weekly Reviews
The author describes his first 12 months in Provence, after he and his wife have abandoned England for an 18th-century farmhouse in the Luberon Mountains. Throwing themselves into the life of this rural region, they master the local customs, gain partial understanding of their neighbors' patois, overcome the frustrations of French bureaucracy, and learn to deal with workmen who operate on the idiosyncratic Provencal sense of time. In nimble prose, Mayle, columnist for GQ , captures the humorous aspects of visits to markets, vineyards and goat races, and hunting for mushrooms. Even donating blood is an occasion for fun. The Provencal cuisine is Mayle's leitmotif, however. He opens with an account of a memorable New Year's lunch, ends with an appreciation of an impromptu Christmas dinner, and describes just about every meal eaten during the months in between. His adventures, gastronomic and otherwise, are thoroughly entertaining.

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A Night in the Lonesome October - Roger Zelazny

A Night in the Lonesome October - Zelazny, Roger

Summary: Snuff, a guard dog who performs thaumaturgical calculations, accompanies his master, Jack, on collecting expeditions into the Whitechapel slums of nineteenth-century London




Kirkus Reviews
After years of unprepossessing folderol--the wearisome Nine Princes in Amber retreads are depressingly typical--Zelazny bursts forth with, well, ``Victorian light supernatural fantasy'' just about covers it. Narrator Snuff, a guard dog who performs complex thaumaturgical calculations in his head, has many duties: to keep various Things firmly trapped in mirrors, wardrobes, and steamer trunks; to accompany his master, Jack--he of the magical blade--on weird collecting expeditions into the graveyards and slums of Victorian London; and--for a single hour each night--discuss the day's goings-on in human speech. Snuff's neighbors include: Jill the witch and her familiar, Graymalk the cat, with whom Snuff forms a friendly alliance; Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Frankenstein, Dracula, a werewolf, and a satanic vicar. The witches, detectives, doctors, vampires, etc., along with their equally industrious familiars, trade information and scheme for advantage as the full moon of Halloween approaches; at that time, a magical showdown to decide the fate of the Earth will occur. Some of the characters are ``openers,'' determined to open a magical doorway allowing the Old Gods to reoccupy the Earth; others are ``closers,'' equally resolved to keep the magical door nailed shut; and a few are involved yet stand outside the Game altogether. Snuff's problem is to discover who is which. Sparkling, witty, delightful: Zelazny's best for ages, perhaps his best ever.

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First Rain - Inga Swearingen (CD)


First Rain - Swearingen, Inga (CD)




American Songwriter Review
Inga Swearingen’s melodies unfold like Virginia Woolf’s best sentences, patiently building to an expected climax before transcending it like a sweet exhalation of air. First Rain (Rhythome), her newest release, is an exquisitely crafted piece of work that delicately interweaves jazz and folk into a most uncommon singer/songwriter album. Although Joni Mitchell may be her most obvious touchstone, Swearingen possesses the musical chops and intuition to step out of Mitchell’s considerable shadow and into a place all her own. First Rain includes several stellar versions of standards (a Monk-ish take on “Blackbird” is particularly excellent), but Swearingen’s original compositions, in which she utilizes the complexities of jazz harmonics to bring out the emotional undercurrents of her still life observations, are the most inspiring of the collection.

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A Song for Issy Bradley - Carys Bray

A Song for Issy Bradley : a novelA Song for Issy Bradley - Bray, Carys

Summary: A devastating tragedy challenges the close family bond and faith of a convert to the Mormon religion, her ministry-driven bishop husband and their three children, who respectively balance, rebel against and embrace their father's beliefs. A first novel by the award-winning author of Sweet Home.



Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* The members of the Bradley family are close. They have to be, as committed members of the Mormon faith in a decidedly secular British neighborhood. When an unexpected tragedy suddenly hits the family, each of the Bradleys reacts in very different ways. Ian, the patriarch and respected church elder, sees the tragedy as an opportunity to grow his family's faith and looks to holy texts for guidance. Claire, the matriarch and a convert to the Mormon way of life through marriage, questions not only her place in the church but also her importance to the family. The three Bradley children, Alma, Zippy, and Jacob, ponder morality, purity, and loss in their own distinct ways. While the family slowly attempts to rebuild after the tragedy, the possibility that they may never fully recover simmers quietly just below the surface. Bray was raised in a strict Mormon household, and her unique perspective colors this emotionally driven, poignant novel. Bray fully inhabits each of her characters, displaying an admirable range of narrative talent rare in a first novel. Fans of The Lonely Polygamist (2010) and Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2012) will savor this thrilling glimpse behind the scenes of a family in crisis.

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Burning Down the House - Nell Bernstein

Burning down the house : the end of juvenile prisonBurning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison - Bernstein, Nell

Summary: Presents a look at the juvenile justice system, describing the violence and physical abuses that pervade detention centers and advocating the need for reform so that juveniles can receive the rehabilitation they need to change their lives.



Publishers Weekly Reviews
Award-winning journalist Bernstein (All Alone in the World) turns her attention to the U.S. juvenile justice system in which more than 66,000 youths are confined. Many young people in large detention centers live under "constant surveillance," fearful of beatings, rape, solitary confinement, or being denied showers, companionship, and adequate food. Such is the grim reality of a system that removes two elements central to adolescent development—connection and autonomy—and, as Bernstein documents, drives low-level delinquents deeper into criminality. With considerable empathy, Bernstein introduces adolescents in and out of detention centers, capturing their struggles to overcome traumatic histories. She covers the rise of the "super-predator myth" in the late 1980s/early 1990s that led to increased rates of juvenile incarceration and more stringent laws ("three strikes"), as well as the wave of reform that resulted in a 39% drop in incarceration in the past decade. She interviews reform-minded administrators like Tom Decker, director of Missouri's juvenile justice system, a model for other states because of its acclaimed network of small, non-institutional placements and low rates of recidivism. Visiting "therapeutic" prisons in Minnesota, California, and New York, she concludes that no matter how much effort goes into creating "a kinder, gentler prison," these institutions remain embedded in a larger culture that seems impervious to reform. Passionate, thoughtful, and well-researched, this is a resounding call to action.

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The Queen of the Tearling - Erika Johansen

The queen of the Tearling : a novelThe Queen of the Tearling - Johansen, Erika

Summary: Coming out of exile to ascend her rightful throne, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, with a cadre of soldiers and the magical Tearling sapphire to protect her, makes a daring decision that evokes the wrath of the evil Red Witch, forcing her to embark on a quest to save her kingdom and fulfill her destiny.



Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Although the setting resembles medieval times, this story takes place far in the future. Following a mysterious cataclysmic event referred to as the Crossing, humans now exist without modern technology and have reverted back to feudalism. At the story's opening, Kelsea, the rightful Queen of the Tearling, turns 19 (the age of ascension) and is escorted by the Queen's Guard from her forest home to claim her throne. Raised, educated, and protected by an elderly couple since birth, Kelsea possesses much book intelligence but lacks practical political knowledge. Nevertheless, she is everything one desires in a leader—she is strong, decisive, just, and possesses an inner strength that allows her to face any challenge placed in front of her. However, her challenges seem insurmountable and include the need to abolish the slave lottery that plagues her people. In an impressive start to a series, Johansen expertly incorporates magic necklaces, political intrigue, questions of honor, well-drawn characters, and a bit of mystery into a compelling and empowering story. As much is (understandably) left unexplained, it will be interesting to see where future installments take this series.

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The Goblin Emperor - Katherine Addison

The goblin emperorThe Goblin Emperor - Addison, Katherine

Summary: Reluctantly elevated to the throne when his father and brothers are killed in a suspicious accident, an exiled half-goblin is rapidly overwhelmed by Ambitious sycophants, imperial burdens, and dangerous plots while searching for friendship and love.



Kirkus Reviews
New fantasy from an author who, as Sarah Monette, wrote the Doctrine of Labyrinth series. Eighteen-year-old half-goblin Maia, the despised youngest son of the Emperor, lives in wretched circumstances, exiled from the Imperial Court and overseen by his brutal cousin, Setheris. But then a courier arrives with the news that his father and elder brothers have been killed in an airship crash. Stunned and disconcerted, Maia must take his place as the rightful Emperor of the Elflands. Armed only with his quick wits, empathy and natural humility, his first task is to face down the arrogant and contemptuous Lord Chancellor, Uleris Chavar, and insist that he be crowned before his father's funeral. Alone and friendless, bewildered by the complex politics and economics of the court—and soon informed that his father's death was caused by sabotage, not accident—Maia finds the burden almost unsupportable. He comes to rely on Csevet, the courier who becomes his secretary, for information and advice and on his guards Cala and Beshelar, who are sworn to protect him. Gradually he finds ways to solve intractable problems. He treats servants as people and women as equals, an approach that wins him many admirers but also enrages the more traditional nobles. Addison patiently and tellingly paints in the backdrop, mingling steampunk elements and low-key magic with imperial intricacies. There are powerful character studies and a plot full of small but deadly traps among which the sweet-natured, perplexed Maia must navigate. The result is a spellbinding and genuinely affecting drama. Unreservedly recommended.

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Planet of the Apes - Pierre Boulle

Planet of the Apes - Boulle, Pierre

Summary: In the not-too-distant future, three astronauts land on what appears to be a planet just like Earth, with lush forests, a temperate climate, and breathable air. But while it appears to be a paradise, nothing is what it seems. They soon discover the terrifying truth: On this world humans are savage beasts, and apes rule as their civilized masters. In an ironic novel of nonstop action and breathless intrigue, one man struggles to unlock the secret of a terrifying civilization, all the while wondering: Will he become the savior of the human race, or the final witness to its damnation? In a shocking climax that rivals that of the original movie, Boulle delivers the answer in a masterpiece of adventure, satire, and suspense.

Booklist Reviews
Boulle's classic 1963 novel differs in several ways from the 1968 movie and its various spinoffs. While the bare-bones story is familiar—astronaut travels to a planet populated by intelligent apes, is captured, fights to prove that he is a thinking creature—the novel is richer in detail and parallels to human culture. Boulle's apes live in cities, wear human-style clothing, drive automobiles. Technologically, they are in pre-spaceflight mode (although they have sent vessels into orbit, with humans as pilots—just like we did with monkeys, back in the 1950s and '60s). As in the '68 movie, Boulle's humans are essentially wild animals, unclothed and uncivilized—which is why our hero, French journalist Ulysse Mérou, poses such a problem for his captors: intelligent humans, capable of speech and advanced thought, are not supposed to exist. Many familiar ape characters are here—Zira, Cornelius, Nova, Zaius—but they are subtly different: for example Zaius, the orangutan scientist, is less buffoonish, and more menacing, than you might be expecting. The novel is paced more slowly than the movie, too: the film is a sci-fi movie with philosophical undertones, but the novel is more like a fable, an overt morality tale posing as science fiction, weighted more toward dialogue than action. It should be considered essential reading not just for fans of the movie, but for all science-fiction readers.


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The Girl With All the Gifts - M. R. Carey

The Girl With All the Gifts - Carey, M. R.

Summary: Not every gift is a blessing. Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh. Melanie is a very special girl. Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end.


Kirkus Reviews
Sgt. Parks, Pvt. Gallagher, Miss Justineau and Dr. Caldwell flee an English military camp, a scientific site for the study of "hungries," zombielike creatures who feast on flesh, human or otherwise. These once-humans are essentially "fungal colonies animating human bodies." After junkers—anarchic survivalists—use hungries to breach the camp's elaborate wire fortifications, the four survivors head for Beacon, a giant refuge south of London where uninfected citizens have retreated over the past two decades, bringing along one of the study subjects, 10-year-old Melanie, a second-generation hungry. Like others of her generation, Melanie possesses superhuman strength and a superb intellect, and she can reason and communicate. Dr. Caldwell had planned to dissect Melanie's brain, but Miss Justineau thinks Melanie is capable of empathy and human interaction, which might make her a bridge between humans and hungries. Their philosophical dispute continues in parallel to a survival trek much like the one in McCarthy's On the Road. The four either kill or hide from junkers and hungries (which are animated by noise, movement and human odors). The characters are somewhat clichéd—Parks, rugged veteran with an empathetic core; Gallagher, rube private and perfect victim; Caldwell, coldhearted objectivist ever focused on prying open Melanie’s skull. It may be Melanie's role to lead second-generation hungries in a revival of civilization, which in this imaginative, ominous assessment of our world and its fate, offers cold comfort. One of the more imaginative and ingenious additions to the dystopian canon.

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Tower Lord - Anthony Ryan

Tower LordTower Lord - Ryan, Anthony

Summary: Darkblade, the great warrior of the Sixth Order returns home in defeat from King Janus's war vowing to never take up a sword again, but fate has other plans for him, in the sequel to Blood Song.




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Fortune's Pawn - Rachel Bach

Fortune's pawnFortune's Pawn - Bach, Rachel

Summary: Mercenary Devi Morris takes a job on The Glorious Fool, a trade ship where one year of work is equal to five years everywhere else in the first novel of the new science fiction series.




Kirkus Reviews
Rollicking space opera starring a tough, sexy, armor-clad space chick who smells like rotten meat. So, anyway, thinks the massive, claw-endowed dude who ought to be Deviana Morris' mortal enemy. Devi, as she's known, returns the compliment. "There are four space-faring races in the known galaxy: humans, aeons, lelgis, and xith'cal," she mutters--adding that the last are "always dangerous." So what's an 8-foot-tall xith'cal doing aboard their ship? Well, therein hangs a tale. Devi is an accomplished sleep-arounder, tough and cynical, though capable of melting a bit in the arms of the right space guy; when she's not, she is most definitely kicking butt and, thanks to her ability to speak Universal, taking names out in space. She's also got a secret weapon, namely, "Custom Verdemont master craft knight's armor," which is a bigger deal than it might seem. Bach, aka Rachel Aaron, a much-published fantasy/science fiction author best known for her Legend of Eli Monpress series, does a nice job of painting a scenario that, if familiar--think the space marines of the Alien franchise or the motley crew of Firefly--allows her plenty of room for action. And action aplenty is what she delivers, with lots of variegated blood and memorable characters, major and minor. Devi is the most complete of them, but New Agers, for instance, will thrill at Novascape Starchild, a groover who utters oracular sayings such as "[t]here is no top or bottom in space. We are all exactly where we are meant to be." And where we're meant to be is tucked inside our armored long johns blasting xith'cal. Lots of fun.

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Amélie (DVD)

Amélie (DVD)

Summary: Amélie is a young woman who had a decidedly unusual childhood: misdiagnosed with an unusual heart condition, Amélie didn't attend school with other children, but spent most of her time in her room, where she developed a keen imagination and an active fantasy life. Despite all this, Amélie has grown into a healthy and beautiful young woman who works in a cafe and has a whimsical, romantic nature. She decides to step into the lives of others around her to help them out.

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Dust - Charles Pellegrino

DustDust - Pellegrino, Charles

Summary: When a gigantic ecological eruption causes dust mites to rapidly reproduce and become flesh-eating insects, paleobiologist Richard Sinclair and a group of survivors must try to stop this deadly phenomenon before the world is destroyed.



Library Journal Reviews
It all starts with a massive die-off of fungus gnats. The fungus the gnats ate grows with nothing to control it. Worse, the bugs that eat the gnats have to find other food. Up the food chain the disaster moves until a horde of mites swarm ashore at a Long Island community, eating their way through every living thing. Scientist Richard Sinclair evacuates Long Beach with his daughter, Tam, leaving behind his wife, a victim of the mites' rampage. With other scientists around the world, Richard plots the course of nature out of whack as predators switch prey and entire species of insects die. As crops that depend on insect pollination perish, the commodities markets plummet, followed closely by the world's stock markets. When vampire bats start attacking humans, Richard fears the destruction of the world. Paleontologist Pellegrino has written a biological thriller that will convince readers to treat insects with more respect. His afterword discusses the events in the book and identifies which ones were based on fact.

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Much Loved - Mark Nixon

Much lovedMuch Loved - Nixon, Mark

Summary: Award-winning photographer Mark Nixon has created a trove of quirky and nostalgic portraits of teddy bears and other stuffed animals that have been lovingly abused after years of play.



PW Annex Reviews
Dublin-based photographer Abrams collects 65 portraits of well-worn stuffed animals and shares their ages and stories of their origins. Claiming Irving Penn as an influence to this project, Abrams embraces "the idea of making an everyday object become visible again." These "much-loved" objects are world travelers, defenders against unruly terriers, pirate adventurers, and comforters of the ailing. The youngest is 5 years-old, the oldest is 102. Some are tattered and dread-locked, missing ears, limbs, eyes, and stuffing. One owner claims hers suffers from "teddy leprosy," another mild Tourette's. In addition to Bono's and Mr. Bean's bears, Abrams also includes his own childhood panda, as well as his son's Peter Rabbit—both of which inspired the project. He also introduces readers to Dublin's Dolls Hospital, a business specializing in the repair of dolls and stuffed toys. Finally, the book contains a blank page for the reader to add an image of his or her own special stuffed animal. The photographs range from hilarious, like the cover image of a bright pink bear with a pronounced frown, to monstrous, like the remnants of a giraffe that resemble a horror movie prop. The project is both aesthetically pleasing and exceedingly charming.

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Then We Came to the End - Joshua Ferris

Then we came to the end : a novelThen We Came to the End - Ferris, Joshua

Summary: The remaining employees at an office affected by a business downturn spend their time competing for the best office furniture left behind and enjoying secret romances, gossip, elaborate pranks, and frequent coffee breaks, while trying to make sense of their only remaining "work," a mysterious pro-bono ad campaign.



Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Anyone who has ever logged time in a gray cubicle with cloth walls that wouldn't hold tacks will be astounded at the accuracy of this first-novel portrait of the workplace demimonde. Set in an unnamed advertising firm in Chicago, it grabs readers on the very first page like an executive assistant who can't wait to share the latest HR rumors. The firm is laying off employees, and as the quirky staff-cum-family alternately turns to and turns on one another, the reader plays eavesdropper to the unnamed narrator (who speaks in the first-person plural). He (or she) documents Benny's wild adventures with an inherited totem pole; the full catalog of Marcia's relentlessly eighties hairdos; Jim's lame but earnest ad pitches; Joe's inflexible professionalism; office leader Lynn's breast cancer; and the riotous yet painful mental breakdowns of not one but three pink-slipped workers. At their final gathering, the coworkers discover that their intimacy is a function only of proximity; no number of e-mails, lunches, or phone calls can substitute for the binding power of office walls. While the prose veers off into amusing tangents, like an associate trying to waste as much of an unproductive afternoon as possible, the author always returns to the story at hand. It's a 375-page, 3-martini-lunch of a novel, and you'll have it read by quitting time.

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Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 - Francine Prose

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 : a novelLovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 - Prose, Francine

Summary: Paris in the 1920s shimmers with excitement, dissipation, and freedom. It is a place of intoxicating ambition, passion, art, and discontent, where louche jazz venues like the Chameleon Club draw expats, artists, libertines, and parvenus looking to indulge their true selves. It is at the Chameleon where the striking Lou Villars, an extraordinary athlete and scandalous cross-dressing lesbian, finds refuge among the club’s loyal denizens, including the rising Hungarian photographer Gabor Tsenyi, the socialite and art patron Baroness Lily de Rossignol; and the caustic American writer Lionel Maine. As the years pass, their fortunes—and the world itself—evolve. Lou falls desperately in love and finds success as a race car driver. Gabor builds his reputation with startlingly vivid and imaginative photographs, including a haunting portrait of Lou and her lover, which will resonate through all their lives. As the exuberant twenties give way to darker times, Lou experiences another metamorphosis—sparked by tumultuous events—that will warp her earnest desire for love and approval into something far more.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Artistically and intellectually adventurous, Prose presents a house-of-mirrors historical novel built around a famous photograph by Brassai of two women at a table in a Paris nightclub. The one wearing a tuxedo is athlete, race-car driver, and Nazi collaborator Violette Morris. So intriguing and disturbing is her story, Prose considered writing a biography, but instead she forged an electrifying union of fact and fiction by creating a circle of witnesses and chroniclers of varying degrees of reliability. Gabor, a Hungarian photographer enthralled by Paris after dark, photographs two weary lovers: Arlette, an opportunistic performer, and Lou Villars, a tux-clad athlete. The women are regulars at the Chameleon Club, a safe haven for lesbians, gays, cross-dressers, and others who must change their stripes to survive. We glean the many facets and repercussions of Lou's "dramatic and terrible life" via Gabor's surprisingly explicit letters to his parents, an unpublished biography, works by an American writer in Paris, and the memoirs of two rivals for Gabor's love, a young teacher and a lonely baroness. In an intricately patterned, ever-morphing, lavishly well-informed plot spanning the French countryside and reaching to Berlin, Prose intensifies our depth perception of that time of epic aberration and mesmerizing evil as she portrays complex, besieged individuals struggling to become their true selves. A dark and glorious tour de force.

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Atlantic - Simon Winchester

Atlantic : great sea battles, heroic discoveries, titanic storms, and a vast ocean of a million storiesAtlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories - Winchester, Simon

Summary: Blending history and anecdote, geography and reminiscence, science and exposition, the best-selling author of Krakatoa tells the breathtaking saga of the Atlantic Ocean, setting it against the backdrop of mankind’s intellectual evolution.


Library Journal Reviews
How does one attempt to write a biography of a subject as old and vast as an ocean? Driven by a lifelong fascination with the Atlantic, Winchester (The Professor and the Madman) found inspiration in viewing the ocean and our relationship with it through the categories of Shakespeare's seven ages: infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, old age, and second childhood. Employing a mixture of history, science, and anecdotes from both sides of the Atlantic, he envisions the ocean's birth and eventual death and explores how its boundaries were discovered and defined, the many ways it has affected the development of human society (artistically, militarily, industrially), and humanity's effect on it in turn. Though the sheer size of the subject obviously limits how much of the Atlantic's "life" can be related in a single volume, Winchester does an excellent job at presenting an extensive collection of the most interesting parts of its existence. VERDICT Winchester is in fine form, and his typically engaging style creates a vibrant portrait of an ocean that remains endlessly fascinating. Highly recommended, especially for those who have enjoyed the author's previous works.

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Poppy Done to Death - Charlaine Harris

Poppy done to deathPoppy Done to Death (Aurora Teagarden Mysteries) - Harris, Charlaine

Summary: When her sister-in-law Poppy is found murdered, amateur sleuth Aurora Teagarden teams up with Poppy's boyfriend, a local police detective, to solve the case, in spite of complications caused by their own past relationship.




Library Journal Reviews
Librarian/sleuth Aurora ("Roe") Teagarden (Last Scene Alive) has problems: after discovering the dead body of her sister-in-law, she tracks down the woman's "missing" husband at his current girlfriend's house, shelters her own teenaged runaway half-brother, and juggles both a successful writer/boyfriend and several would-be love interests. But all this pressure seems to sharpen her sleuthing, for Aurora is nothing if not organized-she even finds a stray (but crucial) gas receipt in her kitchen. Well-established characters, family concerns, wry humor, and small-town busybodies solidify the plot of this delightful cozy.

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The Farm - Tom Rob Smith

The FarmThe Farm - Smith, Tom Rob

Summary: After learning his mother was committed to a mental hospital, Daniel receives a call from her, claiming that his lying father is part of a crime conspiracy.




Publishers Weekly Reviews
At the start of this superior psychological thriller from Thriller Award–winner Smith (Child 44), the narrator, a Londoner known only as Daniel, receives a phone call from his father, who has retired with his wife to a farm in Sweden. The father tells Daniel that his mother is in the hospital. For months, she has been "imagining things—terrible, terrible things." Before Daniel can fly to Sweden, his father calls again to inform him that she persuaded the doctors to authorize her discharge and has disappeared. As Daniel struggles to accept that news, his mother phones to announce that she's flying to Heathrow and that everything his father has told him "is a lie." When she arrives, she offers a complex tale to buttress her conviction that she has been plotted against, leaving Daniel uncertain as to whom and what to believe. Smith keeps the reader guessing up to the powerfully effective resolution that's refreshingly devoid of contrivances.

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Sycamore Row - John Grisham

Sycamore rowSycamore Row - Grisham, John

Summary: When wealthy Seth Hubbard hangs himself from a sycamore tree and leaves his fortune to his black maid, Jake Brigance once again finds himself embroiled in a controversial trial that will expose old racial tensions and force Ford County to confront its tortured history.



Publishers Weekly Reviews
Leave it to Grisham to make a battle about wills nail-bitingly suspenseful in his second novel featuring lawyer Jake Brigance, the hero of Grisham's debut, A Time to Kill. It's 1988, and Seth Hubbard, an elderly man dying of cancer, hangs himself after leaving detailed instructions for his funeral—and a handwritten will, penned the day before, that disinherits his children and gives 90% of his estate to his African-American caretaker, Lettie Lang. Since that unwitnessed document contradicts an earlier one, and Hubbard's assets are north of $20 million, Brigance, who was asked by Hubbard in a note to represent his interests, has a battle on his hands when the disinherited lawyer up. The storyline takes several dramatic turns, even as why Hubbard was so generous to Lang, whom he was not close to, remains a mystery. All the author's strengths are in evidence—his capturing the rhythms of small-town life in Clanton, Miss., his skill at making legal minutiae comprehensible, and his gift at getting readers to care about his characters.

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Danubia - Simon Winder

Danubia : a personal history of Habsburg EuropeDanubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe - Winder, Simon

Summary: A lively, informative chronicle of the influential Habsburg family from the end of the Middle Ages to World War I traces their role in a colorful range of traditions, horrors, and curiosities.




Booklist Reviews
The Habsburg Empire was a ramshackle, lumbering old giant centered in the Danube Valley that held a central place in European politics from the Middle Ages to the end of WWI, ruled by the dominant dynasty of Europe for four centuries, the Habsburg family. Winder set out to wander through the lands that used to constitute the empire, describing and reflecting on what he sees now, particularly in terms of the appearance of villages, towns, and cities, and what he knows through his research as to how things used to look when the Habsburgs held sway. The sentiment around which he builds his colorful narrative is that the longevity of the Habsburg dynasty was due to a mix of cunning, dimness, luck and brilliance. (About one particular archduke, Winder says, he was one of the Habsburgs who make the family worthwhile, who make up for all the pious timeservers who congest the family tree.) This personalized, almost you-are-there view of history results in an arresting combination of anecdote and scholarly examination, where the interests of serious armchair travelers and devoted students of European history meet.

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Absolutely Almost - Lisa Graff

Absolutely almostAbsolutely Almost - Graff, Lisa

Summary: Ten-year-old Albie has never been the smartest, tallest, most athletic, greatest artist, or most musical in his class, as his parents keep reminding him, but new nanny Calista helps him uncover his strengths and take pride in himself.



Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Albie almost understands why he is starting fifth grade at a new school. It's got something to do with the things he can't quite do, like subtract numbers inside his head or figure out the words in books. Fortunately, Albie also gets a kindhearted new sitter named Calista, who can turn Albie's sadness into happiness simply through the magic of donuts. But even Calista can't stop the mean kid at school from calling Albie names, or make Albie's parents see how hard he tries in school. As every kid knows, some problems take more than donuts to solve. Graff (A Tangle of Knots, 2013) creates a heartfelt portrait of a child searching for nothing more than a safe place to thrive. The story is parsed into short chapters that can stand alone as mini-stories, perfect for young readers who aren't ready to tackle full pages of text. This format is also well suited to presenting the incremental steps of Albie's evolution from bewildered victim to hero of his own story. Beautifully written, Albie's story is accessible and dignified, with a gentle message that will touch any reader's heart. Middle-grade readers will love the references to Dav Pilkey's inexhaustibly popular Captain Underpants series, which has introduced so many children to the fun side of reading. A perfect book to share with struggling readers.

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With the Old Breed, at Peleliu and Okinawa – E.B. Sledge


With the old breed, at Peleliu and Okinawa - Sledge, E.B.

Summary: A former member of the First Marine Division gives a front-line description of two World War II Pacific campaigns--the bloody campaigns at Peleliu and Okinawa--in which he participated as a teenage soldier.



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Lost for Words - Edward St. Aubyn

Lost for words : a novelLost for Words - St. Aubyn, Edward

Summary: A frenzied competition for a major British literary award pits several colorful characters against one another and is complicated by an accidental entry, a scandal involving a judge, and a vengeful reject.




Library Journal Review
As literary awards go, there couldn't be a more unlikely collection of judges, authors, publishers, and publicists than the one assembled for the Elysian Prize, a fiction award standing in for the real-life Man Booker Prize. The committee, chaired by former MP Malcolm Craig and made up of a self-important group of writers, academics, and actors, set themselves the task of finding works of fiction with social relevance, geographic representation, and political correctness. With no intention of actually reading most of the cringe-worthy submissions, each member champions the one book he or she has glanced at, the most improbable of which is The Palace Cookbook, an assemblage of recipes and anecdotes from India submitted accidentally by a careless publisher instead of the serious novel that should have been sent. The fun begins when the delusional nephew of the cookbook author sets out for murderous revenge after his own self-published tome has been overlooked. VERDICT For anyone who wonders about the process of judging literary awards, this fast and funny lark from the author of the notable Patrick Melrose novels may shed some comedic light.

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Margaret Fuller - Megan Marshall

Margaret Fuller : a new American lifeMargaret Fuller: A New American Life - Marshall, Megan

Summary: Provides a portrait of Thoreau's editor and Emerson's friend, who was also a daring war correspondent and a crusader for women's rights who had a passion for her life's work, which was eclipsed by tragedy and scandal after her death at the age of forty.



Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* "The mind has a light of its own," wrote Margaret Fuller, and the radiance of her inner world vitalizes Marshall's profoundly simpatico portrait of this path-breaking feminist and courageous journalist and writer. Marshall encountered Fuller while working on her acclaimed first book, The Peabody Sisters (2005), and she inhabits Fuller's dramatic, oft-told story with unique intimacy by virtue of her fluency in and judicious quoting of Fuller's extraordinarily vivid letters. Marshall conveys Fuller's "passionate intensity," "unusual intellect and outsized personality," "expansive sympathy," and extraordinary valor as she illuminates family struggles, social obstacles, and private heartache in conjunction with each phase of Fuller's phenomenal achievements as an innovative teacher, lecturer, and editor. Marshall brings stirring historical and psychological insights to Fuller's complicated relationship with Emerson and the other transcendentalists, her journey west and response to the horrific plight of Native Americans, her gripping dispatches on social ills as a front-page columnist for Horace Greeley's New York Tribune, and her triumphs in Europe as "America's first female foreign correspondent." How spectacularly detailed and compassionate Marshall's chronicle is of Fuller's scandalous love for an Italian soldier, the birth of their son, her heroic coverage of the 1849 siege of Rome, and her and her family's tragic deaths when their ship wrecks in sight of the American coast. A magnificent biography of a revolutionary thinker, witness, and writer.

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor

Daughter of smoke & boneDaughter of Smoke and Bone - Taylor, Laini

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Karou, a lovely, enigmatic art student in a Prague boarding school, carries a sketchbook of hideous, frightening monsters--the chimaerae who form the only family she has ever known, in a unique fantasy by an award-winning author about forbidden love, an epic battle and hope for a world remade.



Booklist Reviews
Seventeen-year-old Karou moves deftly between her relatively normal high-school life in Prague and the strange world of the chimaera, in which she collects the human and animal teeth that the wishmonger, Brimstone, painstakingly sorts. The chimaera are the only family Karou has known, and when access to their world suddenly disappears behind smoldering black handprints, she vows to find them. Could this have been a result of the perpetual war between the chimaera and the seraphim? Along with this central mystery of monsters, a fantastical Romeo-and-Juliet romance develops between Karou and the angel Akiva, a romance destined for hurt and betrayal. Author Taylor has created a variety of worlds, time frames, and creatures with such detail and craft that all are believable. Blurring the boundaries of good and evil, slaves and owners, human and beast, she careens readers from sadness to love, from the predictable to the amazing, and from the outlandish to the bizarre. Readers will look forward to the suggested sequel to this complex, exciting tale.

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1493 - Charles C. Mann

1493 : uncovering the new world Columbus created1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created - Mann, Charles C.

Summary: Reveals how the voyages of Columbus reintroduced plants and animals that had been separated millions of years earlier, documenting how the ensuing exchange of flora and fauna between Eurasia and the Americas fostered a European rise, decimated imperial China and rendered Manila and Mexico City the center of the world for two centuries.


Booklist Reviews
From the same mold as Mann's popular and critical success, 1491 (2005), this tome surveys up-to-date scholarship on the ramifications of Columbus' voyage. Eschewing condemnation or exaltation, Mann aims to explain all that was exchanged during the centuries in which ships connected continents. Diseases, pests, plants, people, and silver are the major transports into which he delves, and he presents them in their scientific, geographic, economic, and historical aspects. Where academic debates persist (e.g., over how slavery became established in America, about what rendered China ravenous for Spanish silver), Mann advocates his view of the particulars, supported by his on-site reportage from places significant in his accounts, such as Manila and Columbus' first settlement. Shaping a sprawl of information, he emphasizes how homogenization was unleashed by transoceanic trade, as is illustrated most minutely in discussions of the potato, the rubber tree, and mixed-race societies. With its theme of globalization, Mann's survey should interest not only history readers but also those concerned about the environmental and social impacts of contemporary world commerce.

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Aug 1, 2014

Hildafolk Series - Luke Pearson

Hildafolk Series - Pearson, Luke

Summary: Hilda is sat in her tent, dwarfed by volumes of the Greater Fjords Wildlife Chronicles with a flashlight and her restless companion Twig, but Hilda's not in the fjords and it isn't raining. Hilda's pitched a tent in her room and it's been days since she's been out.

In Hilda's new adventure, she meets the Nisse: a mischievous but charismatic bunch of misfits who occupy a world beside?but also somehow within?our own, and where the rules of physics don't quite match up. Meanwhile, on the streets of Trolberg, a dark specter looms . . .

Prize-winning author whose previous graphic novel was in Publishers Weekly's Top 25 Children's Picture Books of 2012
Hilda and the Black Hound is the fourth installment in the award-winning Hildafolk series
Other titles in the series are consistently popular in both children's and comic book categories

Luke Pearson is one of the leading talents of the international comics scene. He was the winner of the Young People's Comic category at the British Comic Award (2012) and was shortlisted in the Eisner Award's Best Publication for Kids and Best Writer/Artist categories (2013).

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Pearson's British-import series starring a plucky, blue-haired heroine continues from the equally charming Hildafolk (2010) and Hilda and the Midnight Giant (2012). Hilda and her mom have moved from the countryside, where the little girl loved to explore all day long, to a small European city filled with winding streets, ancient statuary, and strange creatures inspired by Scandinavian legend. Despite her mother's worries, Hilda loses track of her dubious companions and befriends a wounded bird, who proves a much grander figure than he initially appears. Hilda has a huge heart, a huge sense of curiosity, and an admirable sense of courage. Her encounters with a Salt Lion and an obscurely glimpsed Rat King lack overly frightening menace and are done with artful panache, making this a fantastic choice both for kids and for adults looking for a bit less punching and a bit more quiet wonder in their comic books. Environment being so crucial to the tale, Pearson's expressive architecture and city design are nothing short of remarkable, giving a personality to neighborhoods and even individuals doorways. His large-headed, stick-legged cartooning employs both humor and empathy and gracefully reflects the book's tone, a perfect pitch between childlike adventure, subtle mystery, and gentle lyricism. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Codex 632 - Jose Santos

Codex 632 - Santos, Jose

Summary: Thomas Noronha, a history professor and cryptologist, follows a trail of historical enigmas and hidden documents to uncover the true identity of Christopher Columbus.

Kirkus Reviews
A scholar doggedly pursues the true story behind one of the world's most famous explorers.A television journalist based in Portugal, dos Santos pours his storytelling experience into an intriguing if Byzantine exploration of codes, cultures and Christopher Columbus. Less a Brownian thriller than a speculative one, this debut novel focuses on its flawed protagonist and his dizzying search for the truth. Our sensible leading man, Thomas Noronha, is a professor of history and, naturally, an expert code-breaker, fluent in a handful of modern and ancient languages and possessing an innate ability to unlock complex ciphers. A basically decent guy, he struggles to balance his academic responsibilities with the considerable resources required by a distant wife and a daughter with Down syndrome. It proves a tempting distraction when the evasive Americas History Foundation offers a healthy sum to continue the work of a dead academic investigating the Age of Discovery's most famous personage. The good professor is quickly off to Rio de Janeiro, where he finds an odd note from his predecessor, scribbled in a dead language, that warns of the perils of identity. Noronha makes for a beguiling hero, burdened by his family's needs and tempted into an unwise affair with Lena, a student whose interests prove less than virtuous. Dos Santos layers in all the usual suspects, including the Knights Templar, Jewish mysticism and the Holy Grail, in speculating on the true identity, nationality and motives of Columbus. Readers more intrigued by academic detection than global conspiracies should eat this one up.A fresh-thinking historical thriller buoyed by its hero, a man with a spinning moral compass trying to find his truth North. Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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The Incrementalists - Steven Brust

The Incrementalists - Brust, Steven

Summary: "The Incrementalists--a secret society of two hundred people with an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations, races, and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, just a little bit at a time. Their ongoing argument about how to do this is older than most of their individual memories. Phil, whose personality has stayed stable throughmore incarnations than anyone else's, has loved Celeste--and argued with her--for most of the last four hundred years. But now Celeste, recently dead, embittered, and very unstable, has changed the rules--not incrementally, and not for the better. Now the heart of the group must gather in Las Vegas to save the Incrementalists, and maybe the world"-- Provided by publisher.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* A secret society has existed for millennia, operating under the surface of society. The Incrementalists are improving the world by making slight adjustments that make human existence a bit better than it might have been. During the Civil War, they influenced one of General Grant's right-hand men so that he would keep Grant from succumbing to his affection for alcohol. They had a hand in the invention of the MP3 format, and they practically invented Robin Hood. But now they have a major problem on their hands. One of their own, who recently died, might have been murdered, and the woman who was given her memories paradoxically doesn't seem to be able to remember her. Even worse, it looks like the dead woman has somehow manipulated the Incrementalists (or, to be more precise, Phil, who has loved her for centuries) into putting her memories into a very specific young woman for a very specific and quite troubling, possibly catastrophic, reason. It's difficult to categorize this imaginative new novel from established sf/fantasy novelist Brust and newcomer White. It's not quite a comedy, but bits of it are quite funny. It's a fantasy, to be sure, but it's grounded in today's world and references real historical events. It's cleverly constructed, populated with characters readers will enjoy hanging out with, and packed with twists and nifty surprises. If you have to call it something, call it genius at work. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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