May 3, 2010

Crow planet: essential wisdom from the urban wilderness - Lyanda Lynn Haupt

Crow planet: essential wisdom from the urban wilderness - Haupt, Lyanda Lynn

Summary: A scholarly tribute to crow life and mythology explains how increasing crow populations are reflecting various ecological imbalances while providing opportunities to connect with the animal world.

Kirkus Reviews
A self-described posthippie ecofeminist offers a quiet, genial book of "hopeful possibility" amid the current ecological crisis. Wildlife researcher and rehabilitator Haupt (Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everything and Other Lessons from Darwin's Lost Notebooks, 2006, etc.) writes gracefully about the interactions between crows and humans in the urban landscape and what those interactions portend for the future of the zoöpolis (where human and animal geographies overlap). For most people, notes the author, crows are the most commonly encountered native wild animal. Her fascination with the unusually intelligent birds began after a long depressive funk. One day she looked out her study window, saw an injured fledgling perched on an electrical wire and took the bird in. While nursing it back to health, she began to feel better. Haupt then spent two years studying the shiny black songbirds in her backyard and neighborhood. Found in growing numbers—there are more than 30 million in the United States—in densely populated towns and suburbs, the omnivorous American Crow thrives on the detritus of modern urban life, consuming everything from road kill to bread crumbs, bagels and McDonald's fries. The author discovered that watching the creatures mate, nest, forage and help one another encouraged a necessary awareness of the continuity between human lives and that of other species. Like her beloved Thoreau—who wrote, "There is no wildness distant from ourselves"—Haupt celebrates the interconnectedness of all life and urges readers to pay close attention to their home places. The chapter on the habits of amateur urban naturalists is a neat how-to guide for anyone interested in learning how the wild, nonhuman animals around us live. Even though we are unable to view our entire planet, she writes, we can take positive action by cultivating a sense of wonder at the wildlife at our door: "We practice wonder by resisting the temptation to hurry past things worth seeing." A fresh take on conscious living in the everyday world. Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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Mennonite in a little black dress: A memoir of going home - Rhoda Janzen

Mennonite in a little black dress: A memoir of going home - Janzen, Rhoda

Summary: A hilarious and moving memoir--in the spirit of Anne Lamott and Nora Ephron--about a woman who returns home to her close-knit Mennonite family after a personal crisis.

Booklist Reviews
Janzen was raised in a strict Mennonite society, and while she upheld the values as a child and maintained her faith even as an adult, she couldn't help but rebel. However, after marrying an emotionally abusive atheist who leaves her for a man he met on, and then barely surviving a terrible car accident, Janzen finds herself back home reliving her Mennonite childhood as an adult. In her compelling memoir, Janzen explores her past and her present with honesty and self-deprecation, and the result is both hilarious and touching. She delves into her relationships with her mother, sister, and ex-husband without holding back, and she explores some of the Mennonite traditions that helped shape her life. No prior knowledge of Mennonite culture is necessary for enjoying and learning from this lively chronicle of the patience and strong sense of humor one needs to go home again. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

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American meadow garden: creating a natural alternative to the traditional lawn – John Greenlee

American meadow garden: creating a natural alternative to the traditional lawn - Greenlee, John

Summary: In a book with full-color photos, an expert nurseryman and designer details site preparation, plant selection and maintenance of a meadow garden, explaining how ornamental grasses perform in different climates and areas.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* In a book long awaited by green mavens and horticultural enthusiasts, Greenlee's dynamic garden designs are paired with Holt's splendid photographs in a beautifully produced, information-packed volume that looks at meadows in the context of garden spaces large or small. Greenlee is a passionate advocate for meadows as fecund and lovely habitats, while stressing the water-saving qualities of meadows as opposed to mown lawns. He describes sunlight and clouds as elements essential to appreciating the aesthetics of meadows, explains the basics of grass ecology, and makes recommendations specific to various terrains for creating evocative effects within a "purposeful" design. The diverse meadows featured in Holt's photographs effectively illustrate Greenlee's premises. Suggestions for grasses that can be combined with select perennial flowers, ferns, bulbs, and annuals are provided for sites in regions of all climates with an eye to establishing a compact ecosystem and avoiding the waste of traditional lawns. With a step-by-step guide to planting and maintaining a meadow garden, an A to Z of grasses, and many other invaluable resources, this is the most comprehensive and practical resource yet on this increasingly popular garden type. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

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A moveable feast: the restored edition - Ernest Hemingway

A moveable feast: the restored edition - Hemingway, Ernest

Summary: Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway's most beloved works. It is his classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s, filled with irreverent portraits of other expatriate luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein; tender memories of his first wife, Hadley; and insightful recollections of his own early experiments with his craft. It is a literary feast, brilliantly evoking the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the youthful spirit, unbridled creativity, and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized.

BookPage Reviews
Behind the Book: Hemingway classic restored
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
Most people do not realize that the title of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast was not chosen by my grandfather or that significant revisions to his final manuscript were made after his death in 1961. People do not realize this because the book was presented as completed in 1960. However, it was never finished in Hemingway’s eyes and it is clear that he worked on it practically until his death.
The title, of course, is wonderful. In many ways Mary Hemingway, my grandfather’s widow and my godmother, did a fine job editing the book, but she made changes to the text that we know the author did not want and passed them off as his own. The Restored Edition of A Moveable Feast is based on my grandfather’s last manuscript with his notations and emendations. Even without a final chapter, it is, I believe, a truer representation of the book that he intended to publish. Copyright 2009 BookPage Reviews.

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Headlong – Michael Frayn

Headlong - Frayn, Michael

Summary: When a frustrated philosopher uncovers what he believes is a lost painting by Bruegel in a boorish neighbor's basement, he embarks on a hilarious quest to separate the work from its owner - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
A more apt title for this novel could hardly have been found, for it best explains how the main character involves himself in an intriguing situation that opens before his very nose like a beguiling flower. Philosopher Martin Clay and his art-historian wife, Kate, have traveled to their country house where they intend to spend a couple of months while Martin finishes the book he has been working on. They meet their neighbor, the landowner Tony Churt, who invites them to his house to view and place a value on some paintings in his possession. Astonished at what he is shown, Martin believes that one of the paintings is a lost work by famous sixteenth-century Flemish artist Bruegel. But Martin wants to keep the possibility to himself, not even telling his wife until much later. What Martin also wants is to own the painting himself, to eventually bring it to the light of the art world--and if some money and a degree of fame should happen to fall his way, then so be it. He concocts an elaborate scheme to get hold of the painting, and eventually, Kate finds out. His conniving severely tests the strength of their marriage. Frayn occasionally lapses into Art 101, lecturing the reader on Bruegel and Renaissance art, but these asides only work to make this compelling story even richer. Readers will no doubt plunge right into this intelligent, entertaining novel, the latest by a British playwright, journalist, and novelist. ((Reviewed July 1999)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews
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The practice of deceit: A novel – Elizabeth Benedict

The practice of deceit - Benedict, Elizabeth

Summary: Chronicles a particularly nasty divorce that pits a quintessential "nice guy" against his ex-wife, a manipulative lawyer who will stop at nothing to conceal her own sordid past and destroy his credibility. - (Baker & Taylor)

Library Journal Reviews
When therapist Eric Lavender discovers that lawyer wife Colleen has been hiding some nasty secrets, she makes sure he runs afoul of the law. From the author of Almost, an NPR Best Book of the Year; with a four-city tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Confessions of an economic hit man – John Perkins

Confessions of an economic hit man - Perkins, John

Summary: This is the inside story of how America turned from a respected republic into a feared empire. John Perkins should know, he was an economic hit man. His job was to convince countries that are strategically important to the U.S., from Indonesia to Panama, to accept enormous loans for infrastructure development and to make sure that the lucrative projects were contracted to Halliburton, Bechtel, Brown and Root, and other United States engineering and construction companies.

Library Journal Reviews

According to Perkins, a former Economic Hit Man and founding president of Dream Change Coalition, "Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other ‰foreign aid' organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet's natural resources." Perkins began this book in the early 1980s but claims to have put it aside owing to threats and bribes. Perkins's daughter Jessica finally inspired him to finish it by declaring, "Don't worry dad. If they get you, I'll take over where you left off. We need to do this for the grandchildren I hope to give you someday." This riveting look at a world of intrigue reads like a spy novel. Perkins vividly recounts his work throughout the world, from Saudi Arabia to Panama to Ecuador, and introduces such characters as Panamanian president Omar Torrijos, who became a personal friend. Highly recommended for both academic and public libraries.-Lucy Heckman, St. John's Univ. Lib., Jamaica, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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The song of the lark – Willa Cather

The song of the lark - Cather, Willa

Summary: The daughter of a Swedish minister growing up in Colorado, Thea Kronborg's musical talent sets her apart from her contemporaries. Driven by her determination to satisfy her artistic impulse, she moves to Chicago where she falls in love with a wealthy married man. The novel follows Thea's growth from provincial midwesterner to acclaimed international opera singer. Her ability to resolve the tensions between her personal and professional lives and to communicate through her art makes her an unusual and thoroughly modern heroine. - (Blackwell North Amer)

No review available

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The shadow of Sirius – W.S. Merwin

The shadow of Sirius - Merwin, W.S.

Summary: Presents a collection of poems reflecting the author's life. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
With no punctuation and a solitary launching capital letter, Merwin's elegant poems are built to the measure of breath and sweep the page like palm fronds. Yet each word is old, lustrous, and solid. Only a poet as seasoned as Merwin can wrest so much meaning from dark, moon, wake, river, and song. The questions he poses are as old as night, and the answers are forever elusive. The contrast between airiness and earthiness is intrinsic to master poet Merwin's newest poems, lithe works steely in their testing of the mesh of memory and sensuousness; the coil of time, our continuing fiction; and the ripple of shadows attendant upon the brightest star, the most radiant life. Childhood reminiscences summon the dead and recall the now obsolete; the underworld masquerades as a coal mine or a shadow without form or the darkness that is the mind of day. And Merwin contemplates the earth's verdant singularity in the vault of darkness, our entreaties straying far out past the orbits and webs. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

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The laughing policeman: a Martin Beck mystery - Maj Sjöwall

The laughing policeman : a Martin Beck mystery - Sjöwall, Maj

Series: The Martin Beck Mystery Series

Summary: The incredible fourth novel in the Martin Beck mystery series finds Beck heading a major manhunt in pursuit of a mass murderer.

“I've read The Laughing Policeman six or eight times. Each time I reach the final twist on the final page, I shiver afresh.”
—Jonathan Franzen

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The China study – T. Colin Campbell

The China study : the most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss and long-term health - Campbell, T. Colin

Summary: "This study examines more than 350 variables of health and nutrition with surveys from 6,500 adults in 65 counties, representing 2,500 counties across rural China and Taiwan. While revealing that proper nutrition can have a dramatic effect on reducing and reversing these ailments as well as obesity, this text calls into question the practices of many of the current dietary programs, such as the Atkins diet, that enjoy widespread popularity in the West. The impact of the politics of nutrition and the efforts of special interest groups on the creation and dissemination of public information on nutrition are also discussed."--From publisher description.

Library Journal Reviews
In the 1980s, a comprehensive study of the effects of diet on disease and lifestyle was conducted among 6500 adults in 65 counties in rural China. Campbell (nutritional biochemistry, Cornell Univ.) examines the results of that study and compares the predominantly plant-based Chinese diets with the high consumption of meat and dairy products in the West. Drawing on hundreds of references and his 40-year career as a nutritional biochemist, Campbell compellingly argues that animal-based foods are responsible for high rates of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, Alzheimer's, osteoporosis, and the effects of aging. He challenges long-held beliefs about the nutritional benefits of animal products and points out the confusing glut of contradictory information disseminated by the food industry. Campbell urges readers to eliminate meat and dairy from their diets to achieve better health and longevity. His study will add a new dimension to the public debate about the role of plant-based foods in the human diet. Recommended for nutrition and health collections.-Irwin Weintraub, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., New York Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Into the beautiful north – Luis Alberto Urrea

Into the beautiful north - Urrea, Luis Alberto

Summary: "Nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to the US when she was young. Recently, it has dawned on her that he isn't the only man who has left town. In fact, there are almost no men in the village--they've all gone north. While watching The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli decides to go north herself and recruit seven men--her own 'Siete Magníficos'--to repopulate her hometown and protect it from the bandidos who plan on taking it over."--Provided by publisher.

Booklist Reviews
"*Starred Review* If you are a judo-practicing, butt-kicking 19-year-old Mexican woman in a town with only one youngish man—and he s gay—you might decide to go to El Norte to recruit illegal immigrant men to revive your village. And Naveli, a twenty-first-century female Don Quixote with a three-person posse that includes her gay boss, does exactly that. This wonderfully funny, occasionally sad novel combines elements of the picaresque with the joie de vivre and startling coincidences of a road-trip movie. Urrea s knowledge of immigrant life, the rigors of poverty, and how being poor affects everyday existence provides the gritty details that make characters and places come alive. Sardonic humor, rugged details of the working-class poor, and the exotic, often bizarre characters all contribute to an outstanding reading treat. Fans of Urrea s nonfiction and his Kiriyama Prize winner, The Hummingbird s Daughter (2005), will probably not expect this lush, rollicking novel of quests, self-discovery, and romance. But—once committed to the trip—readers will have no trouble staying till the bittersweet and triumphant end."

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Let the great world spin: a novel - Colum McCann

Let the great world spin: a novel - McCann, Colum

Summary: In 1974 Manhattan, a radical young Irish monk struggles with personal demons while making his home among Bronx prostitutes, a group of mothers shares grief over their lost Vietnam soldier sons, and a young grandmother attempts to prove her worth.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* After the rigors of Zoli (2007), his historical tale of Romani life, best-selling literary novelist McCann allows himself more artistic freedom in his shimmering, shattering fifth novel. It begins on August 7, 1974, when New Yorkers are stopped in their tracks by the sight of a man walking between the towers of the World Trade Center. Yes, it's Philippe Petit, the subject of the Academy Award–winning documentary Man on Wire and one of McCann's many intense and valiant characters. The cast also includes two Irish brothers: Corrigan, a radical monk, and Ciaran, who follows him to the blasted Bronx, where he encounters resilient prostitute Tillie and her spirited daughter Jazzlyn. Gloria lives in the same housing project, and she befriends Claire of Park Avenue as they mourn the deaths of their sons in Vietnam. McCann's hallucinatory descriptions of a great city tattooed and besmirched with graffiti, blood, and drugs in the midst of a financial freefall are eerie in their edgy beauty, chilling reminders of how quickly civilization unravels. Here, too, are portals onto war, the justice system, and the dawning of the cyber age. In McCann's wise and elegiac novel of origins and consequences, each of his finely drawn, unexpectedly connected characters balances above an abyss, evincing great courage with every step. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

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The Aubrey/Maturin Series – Patrick O’Brian

The Aubrey/Maturin Series - O’Brian, Patrick

Series Title: The Aubrey/Maturin novels

1. Master and Commander (1970)
2. Post Captain (1972)
3. H.M.S. Surprise (1973)
4. The Mauritius Command (1977)
5. Desolation Island (1978)
6. The Fortune Of War (1979)
7. The Surgeon's Mate (1980)
8. The Ionian Mission (1981)
9. Treason's Harbour (1983)
10. The Far Side Of The World (1984)
11. The Reverse Of The Medal (1986)
12. The Letter Of Marque (1988)
13. The Thirteen Gun Salute (1989)
14. The Nutmeg Of Consolation (1991)
15. The Truelove (1992)
aka Clarissa Oakes
16. The Wine-Dark Sea (1993)
17. The Commodore (1995)
18. The Yellow Admiral (1996)
19. The Hundred Days (1998)
20. Blue At The Mizzen (1999)
21. The Final, Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey (2004)

Staff Review
I read this series (20 titles) over a summer ten years ago; they were excellent then, they are superb now. Impeccably researched, they are set in the Napoleonic era, upon the Mediterranean and oceans of the world; the series follows the careers and adventures of the Royal Navy's Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend Stephen Maturin, a naval surgeon, naturalist and spy.

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Scott Pilgrim. [Vol. 1], Scott Pilgrim's precious little life – Bryan Lee O’Malley

Scott Pilgrim. [Vol. 1], Scott Pilgrim's precious little life - O'Malley, Bryan Lee

Series Title: Scott Pilgrim

Summary: Scott Pilgrim's fantastic life takes an unforeseen turn when rollerblading delivery girl Ramona Flowers makes her appearance.

Publishers Weekly Reviews
Scott Pilgrim is 23 years old, lives in a cold, unnamed Canadian town, plays bass in a band called Sex Bob-Omb and has a very cute 17-year-old Chinese-Canadian girlfriend, Knives Chau. His "precious little life" is amiably unstructured, and he drifts, happily unemployed, between band practice and time spent with Knives. His relationship with Knives is chaste-walks, chats and hugs-although Knives is getting bigger ideas. "We haven't even held hands," Scott explains. "It's just nice, you know." But then he starts having dreams about Ramona Flowers, a mysterious, equally cute and perfectly legal hipster chick on Rollerblades who delivers books for Ramona is anything but simple, and O'Malley's tale of adorable slackers in love is transformed into a wildly magically manga-kung fu fantasy adventure. We meet the first of Ramona's seven evil ex-boyfriends, Matthew Patel, who challenges Scott and his band to a supernatural martial arts duel right out of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. O'Malley has crafted a delightfully hybrid comics love story. It's an alt-lit, rock 'n' roll graphic novel with wonderful manga-influenced drawing and a comically mystical plot that manages to capture both the genuine intimacies and serial dishonesties of young love. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire - Collins, Suzanne

Series Title: The Hunger Games

Summary: By winning the annual Hunger Games, District 12 tributes Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have secured a life of safety and plenty for themselves and their families, but because they won by defying the rules, they unwittingly become the faces of an impending rebellion.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* At the end of The Hunger Games (2008), breathless readers were left in the lurch with any number of questions. Will Katniss lead an uprising against the Capitol? Does she fancy Peeta or Gale? Both? Neither? And perhaps most importantly, how in the world is Collins going to live up to the (well-deserved) hype? Without divulging too much, don't sweat it. The book opens with Katniss and Peeta reluctantly embarking on their victory tour through the 12 oppressed districts of Panem, where they witness more than a few surprising things. And right when it seems as if the plot might be going into a holding pattern between the first and third acts of the trilogy, a blindsiding development hurtles the story along and matches, if not exceeds, the unfiltered adrenaline rush of the first book. Again, Collins' crystalline, unadorned prose provides an open window to perfect pacing and electrifying world building, but what's even more remarkable is that aside from being tremendously action-packed science-fiction thrillers, these books are also brimming with potent themes of morality, obedience, sacrifice, redemption, love, law, and, above all, survival. Honestly, this book only needs to be good enough to satisfy its legions of fans. Fortunately, it's great. And if you were dying to find out what happens after the last book, get ready for pure torture awaiting the next. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
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