Dec 1, 2011

Apollo's angels - Jennifer Homans

Apollo's angels: a history of ballet - Homans, Jennifer

Summary: "Unique among the arts, ballet has no written texts or standardized notation. It is a storytelling art passed on from teacher to student. A ballerina dancing today is a link in a long chain of dancers stretching back to sixteenth-century Italy and France: Her graceful movements recall a lost world of courts, kings, and aristocracy, but her steps are also marked by the dramatic changes in dance and culture that followed. From ballet's origins in the Renaissance and the codification of its basic steps and positions under France's Louis XIV (himself an avid dancer), the art form wound its way through the courts of Europe, from Paris and Milan to Vienna and St. Petersburg. Jennifer Homans, a historian and critic who was also a professional dancer, traces the evolution of technique, choreography, and performance in clear prose, drawing readers into the intricacies of the art with vivid descriptions of dances and the artists who made them"--From publisher description.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Homans brings her intimate experience as a dancer and her discerning dance critic's eye to her fascinating and exquisitely detailed history of ballet, an art that combines rigor and idealism. Homans begins with how the Renaissance belief in the transforming power of art engendered the first ballets, which were performed in the sixteenth-century French court of King Henri II and Catherine de Medici, thus launching ballet's long association with state governments. Louis XIV then established ballet's core rules and conventions, including the five "true" or noble positions. Homans thoroughly and conversantly tracks ballet's flourishing in France, robust flowering in Russia, and exuberance in the U.S., emphasizing the progression from elaborate artifice to profound expressiveness. Homans also warmly profiles pivotal ballet masters, choreographers, and dancers, including the pioneering ballerina Marie Taglioni in La Sylphide (1832), "the first modern ballet," and the essential Balanchine. Most arrestingly, Homans assesses ballet's grace under terror during the French and Russian revolutions, the world wars, and the cold war. Homans brings her glorious landmark study of ballet's ideals and enchantment to a somber close as she asks why this strong and supple "art of belief," which triumphed over catastrophe and adversity, is now in danger of extinction. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

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Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers: the story of success - Gladwell, Malcolm

Summary: The best-selling author of Blink identifies the qualities of successful people, posing theories about the cultural, family, and idiosyncratic factors that shape high achievers, in a resource that covers such topics as the secrets of software billionaires, why certain cultures are associated with better academic performance, and why the Beatles earned their fame.

Booklist Reviews
Gladwell, author and journalist, sets out to provide an understanding of success using outliers, men and women with skills, talent, and drive who do things out of the ordinary. He contends that we must look beyond the merits of a successful individual to understand his culture, where he comes from, his friends and family, and the community values he inherits and shares. We learn that society s rules play a large role in who makes it and who does not. Success is a gift, and when opportunities are presented, some people have the strength and presence of mind to seize them, exhibiting qualities such as persistence and doggedness. Successful people are the products of history and community, of opportunity and legacy, and success ultimately is not exceptional or unattainable, nor does it depend upon innate ability. It is an attitude of willingness to try without regard for the sacrifice required. This is an excellent book for a wide range of library patrons. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

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Is everyone hanging out without me? - Mindy Kaling

Is everyone hanging out without me? (and other concerns) - Kaling, Mindy

Summary: The writer and actress best known as Kelly Kapoor on "The Office" shares observations on topics ranging from favorite male archetypes and her hatred of dieting to her relationship with her mother and the haphazard creative process in the "Office" writers' room.

“She’s like Tina Fey’s cool little sister. Or perhaps… the next Nora Ephron.” —The New York Times

“The fashion opinions of Kelly Kapoor mixed with a Miss Manners-esque advice column.” —

“If you love Kelly and think the three minutes or so allotted her on episodes of The Office are too few, you can take home Mindy.” —The New Yorker

“Is anyone else kind of sold on the genius title alone?” —Nylon

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Goliath - Scott Westerfeld

Goliath - Westerfeld, Scott

Series Title: Leviathan Trilogy

Summary: Alek and Deryn encounter obstacles on the last leg of their round-the-world quest to end World War I, and reclaim Alek's throne as prince of Austria.

Booklist Reviews
"Gadget-loving Clankers and biology-based Darwinists are still at war, but there is new hope for peace based on the threat of using Goliath, a powerful weapon developed by the famous inventor Nikola Tesla. Prince Alek believes Tesla's intentions are good, but Midshipman Deryn is skeptical. Goliath arrives safely in New York, but an attempted attack by German mechanical walkers ignites a series of events that may mean the end of a European city—and the Leviathan, with all her crew. The alternative-history steampunk extravaganza that began with Leviathan (2009) ends with this third volume, and it does not disappoint. Westerfeld stays true to his characters and the strength of his earlier story as he propels it to a satisfying close, and there are tantalizing bits in that wrapping up that could birth a terrific next series. (Fingers crossed, Mr. Westerfeld.) Secondary characters remain vivid, and the real stars of this entry may be lorises Bovril and Tazza. Once again, Thompson's evocative art enlivens the narrative." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Almost French - Sarah Turnbull

Almost French: love and a new life in Paris - Turnbull, Sarah

Summary: A Sydney journalist recounts her unexpected move to Paris, through which she fell in love and came to cherish the city's charm, fashion, food, paradoxes, and dinner parties. 50,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

Library Journal Reviews
In an unpretentious manner, the strong yet empathetic Turnbull relates the transition from her Australian home to a new life with her French fiance, adding a good twist of dry, self-deprecating humor. A freelance journalist, Turnbull has a knack for describing the salient and entertaining episodes succinctly yet vividly, which prevents the story from descending into monotony. From meeting her husband's extended family to attending haute couture fashion shows, Turnbull candidly assesses her new environment. She also takes the stereotypes of French culture, such as the obsession with aesthetics, acknowledges their basis in reality, and then delves deeper to find an explanation for each. Turnbull's love for her husband tempers the frustration and humiliation she experiences while mastering not only the language but also the idiosyncratic rules and customs of the French. This enjoyable and insightful book is suitable for public library collections.-Rebecca Bollen, North Bergen, NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Mister Wonderful - Daniel Clowes

Mister Wonderful - Clowes, Daniel

Summary: A single-volume compilation of an Eisner Award-winning story includes 40 pages of new material and follows the experiences of Marshall, who throughout the course of a life-changing blind date finds himself emotionally challenged in bizarre ways. - (Baker & Taylor)

LJ Express Reviews
The latest installment from independent comics master Clowes (Ghost World; Wilson) is a charmingly cynical look at love, dating, and starting over at midlife. Marshall, a broke, middle-aged divorcé who simply wants someone with whom he can share the newspaper, has been set up on a date with the beautiful but damaged Natalie. After they share a meal during which he learns almost everything about her (specifically, her recent difficult relationship and even harder breakup) and she learns almost nothing about him (he cleverly omits his life-altering experience with a sociopathic prostitute), Marshall and Natalie continue further down the relationship rabbit hole into an evening that would test anyone's dating limits. Clowes's art is clean and clever as always, at times shifting to a childlike style when the narration goes inside Marshall's head. Verdict By turns snarky and sweet, Marshall becomes increasingly less of a misfit and more of a hero as the story goes on, and all we wish, for both him and Natalie, is the very best. Dryly funny but buoyed by hopefulness, Clowes's latest is a lovely afternoon read. Highly recommended.-Beth Nerbonne, Rochester P.L., NH (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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London under - Peter Ackroyd

London under: the secret history beneath the streets - Ackroyd, Peter

Summary: Presents a chronicle of London's underground network of rivers, labyrinths, and chambers and how they have been used in various time periods, from sewers and amphitheaters to crypts and tube stations. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
"What enormous hosts of dead belong to one old great city!" Dickens marveled in 1861. Ackroyd here invades the ghostly realm under Britain's greatest old city. Visits to crypts, catacombs, and cemeteries draw the reader deep into the hidden world where prehistoric mastodons, Roman soldiers, medieval monks, and Victorian burghers mingle in sepulchral gloom. But that gloom also pulses with the energy of life: the crowded underground railroads still running on routes carved out by intrepid nineteenth-century tunnelers, the black filth flowing through a thousand miles of sewer lines still performing the inglorious function of medieval cesspools, and the intricate modern matrix of conduits and pipes carrying electricity, natural gas, and drinking water. Nonhuman life also scurries through the shadows: cockroaches, rats, and even mysterious white crabs. But Ackroyd fuses dead and living, human and animal, technological and natural in the final chapter, where underground geography becomes imaginative metaphor in the Eloi-Morlock fantasy of Wells' Time Machine. As a sequel to London: The Biography, this is an enthralling step down! Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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The scrapbook of Frankie Pratt - Caroline Preston

The scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: a novel in pictures - Preston, Caroline

Summary: "For her graduation from high school in 1920, Frankie Pratt receives a scrapbook and her father's old Corona typewriter. Despite Frankie's dreams of becoming a writer, she must forgo a college scholarship to help her widowed mother. But when a mysterious Captain James sweeps her off her feet, her mother finds a way to protect Frankie from the less-than-noble intentions of her unsuitable beau. Through a kaleidoscopic array of vintage postcards, letters, magazine ads, ticket stubs, catalog pages, fabric swatches, candy wrappers, fashion spreads, menus, and more, we meet and follow Frankie on her journey in search of success and love."--from cover, p. [2]

Kirkus Reviews
Selecting from her own collection of period mementos, Preston (Gatsby's Girl, 2006, etc.) creates a literal scrapbook for a young New Hampshire woman coming of age in the 1920s. Frankie receives a blank scrapbook and her deceased father's typewriter as high-school graduation gifts and begins to record her adventures with the keepsakes she collects. Although Vassar offers Frankie a scholarship, Frankie still can't afford to attend college. Instead she takes a job caring for elderly Mrs. Pingree (see old debutante picture). The dowager's visiting nephew Jamie, a dashing, emotionally damaged World War I vet in his 30s, emotionally seduces 17-year-old Frankie (see his scribbled notes). When the not-yet-sexual affair is discovered, Mrs. Pingree gives Frankie a $1,000 check (see society-pages article about Jamie's wife). Soon Frankie heads off to Vassar, a haven of socialites and bluestockings (see bridge score card, pack of bobbed hair pins). Her rich, intellectual but neurotic Jewish roommate Allegra is a supportive friend until Frankie wins the literary prize (read snippet of Frankie's story about Jamie romance). After graduation, Frankie moves to Greenwich Village and finds a job at True Story. Allegra's brother Oliver, working at a new magazine called the New Yorker, becomes her constant companion. Though smart, kind and attentive (see admission tickets to movies, dancehalls, ballgames), he doesn't propose. When Frankie realizes why, she goes to Paris (see Cunard baggage sticker), where the past catches up with her and a whole new chapter of life starts. Lighter than lightweight but undeniably fun, largely because Preston is having so much fun herself. Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Dear Carey - Dyan Cannon

Dear Carey: my life with Carey Grant - Cannon, Dyan

Summary: The actress/filmmaker tells the story of her turbulent marriage to Hollywood legend Cary Grant, capturing the glamour of Hollywood's greatest period of stardom and revealing the stories of love and betrayal hidden from public view.

“A revealing look at Cannon’s relationship with her first husband, who happened to be a Hollywood legend. (USA Today )

“Candid.” (Los Angeles Times )

“Dyan Cannon has written a complex and captivating memoir…an unqualified success.” (New York Journal of Books )

“Cannon writes of her time with one of Hollywood’s most glamorous and charming men and of her own life, pre- and post-Grant...with refreshing humor.. For those who enjoy memoirs of gutsy survivors.” (Library Journal )

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Nov 1, 2011

The marriage plot - Jeffrey Eugenides

The marriage plot - Eugenides, Jeffrey

Summary: Madeleine Hanna breaks out of her straight-and-narrow mold when she falls in love with charismatic loner Leonard Bankhead, while at the same time an old friend of hers resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is his destiny.

Booklist Reviews
"*Starred Review* In Eugenides' first novel since the Pulitzer Prize–winning Middlesex (2002), English major and devotee of classic literature Madeleine Hanna is a senior at Reagan-era Brown University. Only when curiosity gets the best of her does she belly up to Semiotics 211, a bastion of postmodern liberalism, and meet handsome, brilliant, mysterious Leonard Bankhead. Completing a triangle is Madeleine's friend Mitchell, a clear-eyed religious-studies student who believes himself her true intended. Eugenides' drama unfolds over the next year or so. His characteristically deliberate, researched realization of place and personality serve him well, and he strikes perfectly tuned chords by referring to works ranging from Barthes' Lovers' Discourse to Bemelmans' Madeline books for children. The remarkably à propos title refers to the subject of Madeleine's honors thesis, which is the Western novel's doing and undoing, in that, upon the demise, circa 1900, of the marriage plot, the novel "didn't mean much anymore," according to Madeleine's professor and, perhaps, Eugenides. With this tightly, immaculately self-contained tale set upon pillars at once imposing and of dollhouse scale, namely, academia ("College wasn't like the real world," Madeleine notes) and the emotions of the youngest of twentysomethings, Eugenides realizes the novel whose dismantling his characters examine. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The publisher will be cashing in on the popularity of Middlesex, especially with public library users, by targeting much of their publicity campaign in that direction." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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The cat's table - Michael Ondaatje

The cat's table - Ondaatje, Michael

Summary: Boarding a 1950s ship and sequestered to an out-of-sight dining table with other marginalized children, an eleven-year-old boy shares rollicking adventures while traveling to various world regions, learning about jazz, women, and a shackled prisoner along the way.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* In 1953, an 11-year-old boy's life is permanently upended when he leaves Colombo, Ceylon, to begin a new life in London with his mother. His 21 unsupervised days aboard the ocean liner Oronsay prove momentous as significant events during the crossing profoundly impact the boy's future while immensely expanding his world. Although seemingly at the periphery of society, seated at the so-called cat's table, the boy's dining mates—an assortment of colorful characters—are, in fact, a lot more instrumental in the ensuing intrigue aboard the ship than originally appears. The boy, Michael, and two companions have the run of the ship. They get up early each morning for various adventures. They eavesdrop, get into trouble, and observe adult situations that they lack the facility to interpret. Michael finds himself assistant to Baron C. in the breaking and entering of the ship's cabins to make off with various valuables. A dog they smuggled aboard from the port city of Aden escapes, creating much havoc; an on-board prisoner plots a getaway; and budding sexuality begins to sprout. As the years pass, Michael, who grows up to be an acclaimed writer with an international reputation (not unlike Ondaatje, especially for The English Patient, 1992), frequently returns to the events of those three weeks and demonstrates how "over the years, confusing fragments, lost corners of stories, have a clearer meaning when seen in a new light, a different place." High-Demand Backstory: An extensive U.S. author tour will bring attention anew to the literary talents of this remarkable writer. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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The Buddha in the attic - Julie Otsuka

The Buddha in the attic - Otsuka, Julie

Summary: Presents the stories of six Japanese mail-order brides whose new lives in early twentieth-century San Francisco are marked by backbreaking migrant work, cultural struggles, children who reject their heritage, and the prospect of wartime internment.

Booklist Reviews
"*Starred Review* Otsuka's stunning debut, When the Emperor Was Divine (2002), a concentrated novel about the WWII internment of Japanese Americans, garnered the Asian American Literary Award, the ALA Alex Award, and a Guggenheim. Her second novel tells the stories of Japanese mail-order brides at the start of the twentieth century in a first-person-plural narrative voice, the choral "we." This creates an incantatory and haunting group portrait of diverse women who make the arduous ocean journey to California buoyant with hope only to marry strangers nothing like the handsome young men in the photographs that lured them so far from home. Prejudice and hardship soon transform the brides into fingers-worked-to-the-bone laborers, toiling endlessly as domestic workers, farmers, prostitutes, and merchants. Every aspect of female life is candidly broached in Otsuka's concise yet grandly dramatic saga as these determined, self-sacrificing outsiders navigate the white water of American society, only to watch their American-born children disdain all things Japanese. Drawing on extensive research and profoundly identifying with her characters, Otsuka crafts an intricately detailed folding screen depicting nearly five decades of change as the women painstakingly build meaningful lives, only to lose everything after Pearl Harbor. This lyrically distilled and caustically ironic story of exile, effort, and hate is entrancing, appalling, and heartbreakingly beautiful." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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The year we left home - Jean Thompson

The year we left home - Thompson, Jean

Summary: Chronicles the happiness pursuits of the Eriksons from their 1970s coming-of-age to the near-present day, in a story told from revolving viewpoints

Publishers Weekly Reviews
Bookended by two wars—Vietnam and Iraq—Thompson's third novel (after the collection Do Not Deny Me) sketches the travails of an Iowa family over three decades. Matriarch Audrey neatly sums up the episodic novel's grand theme: "she'd been born into one world, hopeful and normal, and now she lived in another, full of sadness and failure." The novel opens as oldest daughter Anita, the beauty of the family, celebrates her marriage. Over the years, however, Anita confronts dissatisfaction with herself and disillusionment with her pompous husband. Her younger brother, Ryan, a high school senior as the novel opens, longs to escape his rural roots, dating a hippie poet and majoring in political science before realizing that the farmers who came before him might hold more relevance than he'd imagined. Cousin Chip comes back from Vietnam troubled and aimless, his wanderings from Seattle to Reno, Nev., to Veracruz, Mexico, offering a parallel to the spiritual restlessness all the other characters feel. Told from the point of view of more than a half-dozen characters, the vignettes that make up the narrative are generally powerful in isolation, but as a whole fail to develop into anything more than a series of snapshots of a family touched by time and tragedy. (May)

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Wonderstruck - Brian Selznick

Wonderstruck - Selznick, Brian

Summary: Having lost his mother and his hearing in a short time, twelve-year-old Ben leaves his Minnesota home in 1977 to seek the father he never knew in New York City, and meets there Rose, who is also longing for something missing from her life. Ben's story is told in words; Rose's in pictures.

Booklist Reviews
"*Starred Review* Opening Selznick's new book is like opening a cabinet of wonders—the early museum display case "filled with a nearly infinite variety of amazing things" that is so central to this story. Following the Caldecott Medal–winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007), Selznick offers another visual narrative, one that feels even better suited to his inventive style. The beautifully crafted structure includes two stories set 50 years apart. The first, set in 1977, is told in text and follows Ben, who is grieving the sudden loss of his mother when he stumbles upon clues that point to his father's identity. The second, told entirely in richly shaded pencil drawings, opens in 1927 as a young girl, Rose, gazes at a newspaper clipping. Rose is deaf, and Ben also loses his hearing, during a lightning strike. Both lonely children run away to New York City, and their parallel stories echo and reflect each other through nuanced details, which lead "like a treasure map" to a conjoined, deeply satisfying conclusion. Selznick plays with a plethora of interwoven themes, including deafness and silence, the ability to see and value the world, family, and the interconnectedness of life. Although the book is hefty, at more than 600 pages, the pace is nevertheless brisk, and the kid-appealing mystery propels the story. With appreciative nods to museums, libraries, and E. L. Konigsburg, Wonderstruck is a gift for the eye, mind, and heart." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Spiral-bound: top secret summer - Aaron Renier

Spiral-bound: top secret summer - Aaron Renier

Summary: With an ensemble cast straight from a box of Animal Crackers, this is a delightful tale of ambition, morality, and self-discovery drawn in a decidedly beautiful fashion reminiscent of Richard Scary and Lewis Trondheim, yet utterly unique. Renier's fully-realized and compellingly adventurous narrative is at once both achingly naive and profoundly worldly. A remarkable debut, this tightly crafted novella is the real deal, and will charm your socks off.

Booklist Reviews
In this graphic novel about the young animal characters who live in the Town, Turnip the elephant is using the summer to find his artistic voice through sculpture, his friend Stucky the dog is building a submarine, and Ana the rabbit is working on the town's underground newspaper. Their stories all wind around the town's deep, dark secret about the monster that lives in the pond. Kids who enjoyed novels such as Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy and Roald Dahl's Matilda will find a similar sense of adventure here. The characters seem like real children, wholesome without being too sweet, and Renier's art is light and fun, a sort of Babar meets underground comix. Readers older and younger than the target audience will enjoy this, too. ((Reviewed November 1, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

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Onwards towards our noble deaths - Shigeru Mizuki

Onwards towards our noble deaths - Mizuki, Shigeru

Summary: "[A] semi-autobiographical account of the desperate final weeks of a Japanese infantry unit at the end of World War Two. The soldiers are instructed that they must go into battle and die for the honor of their country, with certain execution facing them if they return alive" -- from publisher's web site.

Booklist Reviews
This first English translation of legendary Japanese cartoonist Mizuki's 1973 antiwar screed is a lightly fictionalized account ("90 percent fact," he claims in an afterword) of his time in the Imperial Army during WWII. Though some 30 soldiers are introduced in the opening character guide, no more than a few ever really differentiate themselves, a fitting reminder of the low premium that war puts on individual life. What comes through clearly is the litany of indignities the soldiers endure on a daily basis from slap-happy officers, perilously unforgiving conditions, and sudden outbursts of death on the receiving end of the enemy's bombs and bullets. Most gut-twisting is the grunt's-eye view of the lunacy of gyokusai ("noble" suicide attacks), which several men somehow survive only to face theirarmy's brutal intolerance for their loss of honor. Mizuki's realistic settings, rife with fiery explosions and jungle squalor, are sharply contrasted by the cartoony figures. A war story without an ounce of glory but with pathos in bulk. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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The BUST DIY guide to life - Laurie Henzel

The BUST DIY guide to life: making your way through every day - Laurie Henzel

Summary: Collects do-it-yourself and craft projects from Bust magazine covering such topics as food and entertaining, travel, and career and finance.
Whether it’s sewing clothes, making cheese, or growing a garden, the modern appeal of “do-it-yourself” projects has a broader reach than ever. And who better to teach us how to DIY our lives than the über-crafty editors of BUST, the quirky, raw, and real magazine “for women who have something to get off their chests”? In The BUST DIY Guide to Life, magazine founders Debbie Stoller (of Stitch ’n Bitch fame) and Laurie Henzel have culled more than 250 of the best DIY and craft projects from its 15-year history. Organized by category—beauty and health, fashion, food and entertaining, career, finance, travel, and sex—and written in BUST’s trademark brazen and witty style, this quintessential DIY encyclopedia from the quintessential DIY magazine is eclectic, empowering, hilarious, and downright practical, truly capturing the spirit of women today.

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Jaws - Peter Benchley

Jaws - Benchley, Peter

Summary: A man-eating shark causes havoc off the Long Island coast.

Booklist Reviews
This novel about a rogue shark that terrorizes a beach community hasn’t aged a day since its publication more than 35 years ago. Benchley’s writing is lean and efficient—this is his first novel, and also by far his best—and the story is a solid mixture of small-town politics, mystery, and outright terror. The author positions his protagonist, police chief Martin Brody, as virtually the lone voice of reason in a town filled with people who want to downplay the shark’s presence (so as not to scare away tourists with their bulging wallets); and when the body count starts to rise, it’s Brody who has to find a way to kill the beast, even if it means putting his own life on the line. The familiar characters—Brody, oceanographer Matt Hooper, shark-hunter Quint—are not as likable as they are in Steven Spielberg’s classic film adaptation, but in the context of the novel, they are well drawn and compelling. Those who are familiar with the movie, but not the book, are in for some surprises, and those who read the book way back when should definitely give it another look. --David Pitt

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Shatner rules - William Shatner

Shatner rules: your guide to understanding the Shatnerverse and the world at large - Shatner, William

Summary: The actor best known as Captain Kirk on "Star Trek" shares self-deprecating memories from his on- and off-screen experiences while discussing such topics as his larger-than-life celebrity persona, his career longevity, and his views on modern technology. 

Kirkus Reviews
The galaxy's most famous starship captain offers a mostly tongue-in-cheek guide to his rules for living, complete with anecdotes and life lessons. Eighty years old and still going strong with multiple TV shows, films, books and appearances (all of which he promotes tirelessly within these pages), Shatner's lust for life shines through in this lightweight, amusing effort. The book apes the familiar self-help format, with the rules ("Say Yes," "Stay Hydrated," etc.) used as starting points for funny and poignant anecdotes from his "unique, strange, and wonderful" life, and instructions to the reader on "how to live a Shatneresque existence… [and] experience the essence of Shatner in its purest form." In addition to the rules, there are frequent asides in the form of "Notes" and "Fun Factners," basically one-liners playing off the narrative. Shatner is a true raconteur, and in between the jokes there are surprisingly profound ruminations on life and death, from someone whose career in the spotlight stretches from the early days of TV to the age of Twitter. Much of the ground covered here will be familiar to readers of his autobiography, Up Till Now (2008), including Shatner's feelings about his former Trek cast-mates' public criticisms and the tragic 1999 drowning death of his wife Nerine. However, his legions of fans probably won't mind, or be put off by his outsized personality, though they may think twice about shouting "beam me up, Scotty!" when they encounter him. Whatever the situation--be it an awkward dinner with Charlton Heston or a fight to the death with a wild boar--Shatner applies his rules as only he can. This book may not boldly go where no man has gone before, but Shatner fans will relish the opportunity to learn from the master. Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Salem's Lot - Stephen King

Salem's Lot - King, Stephen

Summary: A nightmare of evil grips a small Maine town when a mysterious stranger appears - (Baker & Taylor)

"Stephen King's second book, 'Salem's Lot (1975)--about the slow takeover of an insular hamlet called Jerusalem's Lot by a vampire patterned after Bram Stoker's Dracula--has two elements that he also uses to good effect in later novels: a small American town, usually in Maine, where people are disconnected from each other, quietly nursing their potential for evil; and a mixed bag of rational, goodhearted people, including a writer, who band together to fight that evil."--Review from

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The house in France: a memoir - Gully Wells

The house in France: a memoir - Wells, Gully

Summary: "Set in Provence, London, and New York: a daughter's wonderfully evocative and witty memoir of her mother and stepfather--Dee Wells, the glamorous and rebellious American journalist, and A. J. Ayer, the celebrated and worldly Oxford philosopher--and the life they lived at the center of absolutely everything. Gully Wells takes us into the heart of London's liberated intellectual inner circle of the 1960s. Here are Alan Bennett, Isaiah Berlin, Iris Murdoch, Bertrand Russell, Jonathan Miller, Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens, Robert Kennedy, and later in New York Mayor Lindsay and Mike Tyson . . . her mother as a television commentator earning a reputation for her outspoken style and progressive views . . . her stepfather, an icon in the world of twentieth-century philosophy, proving himself as prodigious a womanizer as he was a thinker. And throughout, there is La Migoua, the house in France, on a hill between Toulon and Marseilles, where her parents and their friends came together and where Gully herself learned some of the long-lasting lessons of a life well-lived. A dazzling portrait of a woman who 'caught the spirit of the sixties' and one of the most important intellectual figures of the twentieth century, drawn from the vivid memory of the child who adored them both."-- Provided by publisher.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Wells had the perfect childhood for her vocation as travel writer and features editor of Condé Nast Traveler and the good sense to enjoy it, even though her mother was as vexing as she was scintillating. Wells is a breathtakingly frank, nimbly hilarious, and sensuously precise memoirist and portraitist, capturing the chimerical energy of her famously sexy and outrageous Canadian American expat mother. Dee was a controversial journalist, critic, television personality, and novelist as well as a glamorous yet raucous partygoer and hostess. After divorcing her young daughter's diplomat father, Dee moved to 1960s London and corralled the renowned Oxford philosopher and notorious womanizer A. J. Ayer into marriage. "Clever and funny" celebrities, the couple lived carousel lives (assiduously observed by young Gully) in London and their funky old house in Provence, until their love affairs pulled them apart. Wells remembers intoxicating conversations and outrageous behavior in scenes worthy of Oscar Wilde, featuring the likes of Bertrand Russell, Iris Murdoch, and John and Robert Kennedy. She tells her own fascinating story, too, including her long-ago on-and-off romance with Martin Amis. Desire and ambition, creativity and fame, betrayal and love, all take on new dimensions in Wells' sparkling and spiky look back at protean and brilliant iconoclasts. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Whatcha mean, what's a zine?: the art of making zines and minicomics - Mark Todd

Whatcha mean, what's a zine?: the art of making zines and minicomics - Todd, Mark

Summary: Explores the diversity and creativity that can be captured in zines, handmade mini-comics or magazines about anything and everything, with helpful tips and practical suggestions for writing, producing, editing, and printing one. Original. - (Baker & Taylor)

Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews
Even in these days of blogs and podcasting, print zines still thrive. Long-time zinesters Todd and Watson bring together text and artwork from more than twenty other zine and mini-comic creators for an inside look at this underground genre. With more than one hundred zine-ish looking pages, this book is packed with useful information for aspiring zinesters. Teens already familiar with the format will have no trouble following the quirky typed and handwritten layout. Those used to slick, stylish type may have some trouble navigating, although the two-color printing of the finished book should make it easier to read than the uncorrected proof. Several sections, particularly the information on silk screening, are more advanced than most teens, especially those just starting out, would need, but because each page or two is a self-contained article, skipping around is not a problem The information on formatting and printing alone is a goldmine and a great resource for teachers and librarians doing art and writing projects with youth. The book is a one-stop source for someone putting together a zine or comic program and worth the purchase for public libraries looking for innovative and interesting ways to encourage teens to create.-Vikki Terrile Glossary. Illus. 3Q 3P M J S Copyright 2006 Voya Reviews.

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Sea of poppies - Amitav Ghosh

Sea of poppies - Ghosh, Amitav

Summary: Preparing to fight China's nineteenth-century Opium Wars, a motley assortment of sailors and passengers, including a bankrupt rajah, a widowed tribeswoman, and a free-spirited French orphan, comes to experience family-like ties that eventually span continents, races, and generations.

Booklist Reviews
"A passion for history propels Ghosh's sweeping novels, in which love leaps the fences of race, caste, nationality, and class. After his complex tale of humankind's relationship with nature in The Hungry Tide (2005), Ghosh returns to the narrative grandeur of The Glass Palace (2001) in this lengthy yet fast-flowing historical novel about England's ruthlessly run opium industry in occupied India. It begins in a "sea of poppies" in Bengal, and culminates on board the Ibis, an old slave ship carrying a motley group of outcasts. There's brave Deeti, a young fugitive widow; dashing Zachary, the son of a former slave and her American master; adventurous Paulette, a French orphan; and Neel, a fallen raja. In vivid settings ranging from the hellish precincts of an enormous opium factory, to absurdly lavish upper-class households, to the Ibis' grim hold, Ghosh unfurls tales of betrayal and tyranny, revelation and transformation, while reveling in the mischievous inventiveness of a bawdy polyglot lingo favored by sailors on Eastern seas. With intimations of Dickens and Melville, Ghosh's vital saga encompasses suspense and satire, perverse cruelty and profound kindness, and the countless ways humans conceal desire and fear behind arrogance and brutality. More frolicsome language, penetrating insights, and high adventure will follow now that the Ibis trilogy is under way." Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

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Voices from the Korean war - Richard Peters

Voices from the Korean war: personal stories of American, Korean, and Chinese soldiers - Peters, Richard

Summary: Unique in gathering war stories from veterans from all sides of the Korean War -- American, South Korean, North Korean, and Chinese -- this volume creates a vivid and multidimensional portrait of the three-year-long conflict told by those who experienced the ground war firsthand. Richard Peters and Xiaobing Li include a significant introduction that provides a concise history of the Korean conflict, as well as a geographical and a political backdrop for the soldiers' personal stories.
- (University of Kentucky)

Booklist Reviews
Edited by two Korean War veterans, this oral history volume rather breaks a trail in the historiography of that conflict, offering, after an excellent, balanced narrative introduction, accounts of various phases of the war by survivors from both sides. Here are the first clashes, the retreat--or, from the North Korean viewpoint, advance--south, and Chinese infiltration into North Korea, which led to U.S. disaster and the Chosin Reservoir campaign, during which the weather was bad for the Americans, worse for the underclad and undersupplied Chinese. The stalemate beginning in 1951 is covered by several voices, including those of a Korean housewife and a classic green second lieutenant, a South Korean. Thereafter come the Koje-Do prison riots, reported by both a guard and an organizer. If the book will change no one's politics, it definitely adds to everyone's store of knowledge, particularly about the Koreans, on whose territory the blood was shed. ((Reviewed January 1 & 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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Maphead - Ken Jennings

Maphead: charting the wide weird world of geography wonks - Jennings, Ken

Summary: Traces the history of map making while offering insight into the role of cartography in human civilization and sharing anecdotes about the cultural arenas frequented by map enthusiasts. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
Considering Jennings' calling card—he's the Jeopardy! multimillionaire—readers might expect a light, trivia-filled book. Well, that's half right. It's breezily written, but it's not trivial. In fact, it demonstrates that Jennings, a software engineer before his game-show triumph, could have a long career as a writer. There is some trivia in it (e.g., there's no evidence pirates ever used treasure maps), but mainly it's a serious and passionate look at the importance of geography and, by extension, the ability to use and understand maps—for students, historians, political leaders, pop-culture innovators, and, indeed, everyone. Jennings peppers the book with humorous comments and personal asides (he admits up front that he's "a bit of a geography wonk"), but his mission is to rescue geography from irrelevance, to make us realize that geographic illiteracy is not merely "comic shorthand for stupidity" but a real and pervasive problem. A fascinating book that blends humor, memoir, and serious analysis. Comparisons to Bill Bryson's magnificent A Really Short History of Nearly Everything (2009) are entirely apt. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Oct 1, 2011

The art of fielding - Chad Harbach

The art of fielding - Harbach, Chad

Summary: A baseball star at a small college near Lake Michigan launches a routine throw that goes disastrously off course and inadvertently changes the lives of five people, including the college president, a gay teammate, and the president's daughter.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Sports fiction has a built-in plot problem. The drama usually rides on a team's success or failure as it moves through a season to the Big Game. The team either overcomes adversity and wins, following in the cliché-strewn tradition of everything from The Bad News Bears to Rocky, or it loses, a literately more resonant route, to be sure, but inevitably unsatisfying if the reader has become a fan along the way. First-novelist Harbach finds an inventive and thoroughly satisfying solution to the Big Game problem, and it works because the reader doesn't live or die with what happens on the field. This sprawling multiple-story saga follows the coming-of-age and midlife crises of five characters at Westish College, a small liberal-arts school in Wisconsin. At the center of it all is Henry Skrimshander, a shortstop of phenomenal ability who has led the school's baseball team to unprecedented heights. Then a wildly errant throw from Henry's usually infallible arm provides the catalyst for game-changing events not only in Henry's life but also in those of his roommate, Owen Dunne; his best friend and mentor, the team's catcher, Mike Schwartz; the school's president, Guert Affenlight; and the president's daughter, Pella. In an immediately accessible narrative reminiscent of John Irving, Harbach (cofounder of the popular literary journal n+1) draws readers into the lives of his characters, plumbing their psyches with remarkable psychological acuity and exploring the transformative effect that love and friendship can have on troubled souls. And, yes, it's a hell of a baseball story, too, no matter who wins. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Requiem for a dream - Hubert Selby

Requiem for a dream - Selby, Hubert

Summary: In Coney Island, Brooklyn, Sara Goldfarb, a lonely widow, wants nothing more than to lose weight and appear on a television game show. She becomes addicted to diet pills in her obsessive quest, while her junkie son, Harry, along with his girlfriend, Marion, and his best friend, Tyrone, have devised an illicit shortcut to wealth and leisure by scoring a pound of uncut heroin. Entranced by the gleaming visions of their futures, these four convince themselves that unexpected setbacks are only temporary. Even as their lives slowly deteriorate around them, they cling to their delusions and become utterly consumed in the spiral of drugs and addiction, refusing to see that they have instead created their own worst nightmares. - (Blackwell North Amer)

Kirkus Reviews
Selby's most effective strategy has been to pummel, to wear the reader down under an inexorable heaping-up of degradations; his last, The Demon, was an embarrassing flub precisely because he tried giving his characters middle-class options--and wound up with soap opera. Here he's somewhat back on track. The abomination this time is heroin addiction. Harry Goldfarb cruises the Bronx in the company of fellow addict Tyrone C. Love and Harry's girl Marion (also a junkie). They get together, do up, space out, play the dozens, watch TV: Selby's best stroke is bringing across the grinding tedium of the addict's day, as meaningless and mechanical as an assembly line worker's. To get the daily drugs, Harry will hock suffering mama Sam's TV, he'll haul newspapers onto trucks in the middle of the night, he'll deal the junk himself to his fellow-addicts. When Harry and Tyrone get a chance to deal big, life is very sweet for a while. Then the supply drops, and life becomes vulturine. One scene stands out: a midnight Christmas heroin distribution by the local drug boss, as starving junkies enter a no-man's land in the South Bronx (even the cops are staying away) to buy the junk and then try to make it out of the area alive before they're ripped off. Lurid, nightmarishly effective. But as always with Selby, there's the question: is the numbing banality of the writing intentional or not? Maladroit characters, clumsy clichÉs (the worst Yiddish dialect ever), a sentimentally overblown ending--the book feels half-written, half-hoped. Selby, it seems clearer and clearer, isn't interested in writing novels that involve the agonies of real people: he's concerned only with the agonies themselves. His crude skills sometimes make this preoccupation seem presumptuous, other times powerful. Here, we'd have to say, the mix is 50-50. (Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 1978)

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Black swan green - David Mitchell

Black swan green - Mitchell, David

Summary: A meditative novel of a young boy on the cusp of adulthood follows a single year in the life of thirteen-year-old Jason Taylor as he grows up in what is for him the sleepiest village in Worcestershire, England, in 1982. By the aauthor of Cloud Atlas. 50,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
/*Starred Review*/ On the heels of his critically acclaimed Cloud Atlas (2004), frequent Booker Prize nominee Mitchell has left behind complicated literary constructions for this beautiful, stripped-down coming-of-age story. Our 13-year-old narrator, Jason Taylor, lives in Worcestershire's Black Swan Green with his sister and his parents. Jason suffers from a stammer, and in order to keep above the bottom rung of the social ladder, he must go to extravagant lengths to avoid using stammer words (some days those that start with n; other days, s). And he must live in the wake of his brilliant sister and mediate between his parents. The anxieties and excitements of boyhood are captured extraordinarily well here. Some will argue that Jason doesn't sound 13 (he certainly has, per day, a lot more arrestingly beautiful thoughts than does your average 13-year-old), but the narrative voice is consistent, and readers will come to believe it. Indeed, it is Mitchell's brilliant ability to reproduce internal monologue that makes this story so mesmerizing. He reproduces Jason's inner life with such astonishing verisimilitude that readers will find themselves haunted by him long after turning the last page. ((Reviewed February 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

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Remainder - Tom McCarthy

Remainder - McCarthy, Tom

Summary: Traumatized by an accident that involves something falling from the sky and leaves him with an outrageous sum in legal compensation, a man spends his time and money obsessively reconstructing and re-enacting memories and situations from his past, but when this fails to quench his thirst for authenticity, he starts reconstructing more violent events. Original. 30,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

Kirkus Reviews
An assured work of existential horror from debut novelist McCarthy.The unnamed narrator begins by explaining that there's a lot he can't explain. He cannot, for example, share many details about his accident. That information is subject to a non-disclosure agreement, but it's also-more vitally-unavailable to him: He can't remember much about the accident or his life before it. He's become, very nearly, a blank, and the voice McCarthy conjures for this nonentity is an eerily precise, dumbly eloquent complement to his mental and emotional condition. Contemplating the crumbling plaster spilling out of a jagged hole in a wall, he thinks, "It looked kind of disgusting, like something that's coming out of something." That imprecision seems sloppy, but it works brilliantly to magnify the narrator's sense of abjection. The accident, which also wrecked his body, has forced him to relearn rote tasks like walking and eating. He begins to feel disconnected from other people, and he suspects that his life is no longer quite real. He decides to create his own little universe, and the millions of pounds he won in a post-accident settlement make his wishes reality. This project begins fairly innocuously, and although it quickly becomes weirder and more dangerous, McCarthy infuses the story with an uncanny sense of foreboding long before his protagonist decides to recreate a murder scene for his own amusement. It's tempting to call this a postmodern parable or allegory for a virtual age, but to reduce this novel to the level of the didactic is to overlook its considerable, creepy power.Perfectly disturbing. Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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Understanding comics - Scott McCloud

Understanding comics: The invisible art - McCloud, Scott

Summary: A 215-page comic book about comics that explains the inner workings of the medium and examines many aspects of visual communication. Understanding Comics has been translated into 16 languages, excerpted in textbooks, and its ideas applied in other fields such as game design, animation, web development, and interface design.

Winner of the Harvey and Eisner Award, the Alph'art Award at Angoulême, and a New York Times Notable Book for 1994 (mass market edition).

"A landmark dissection and intellectual consideration of comics as a valid medium."-- Will Eisner

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The ten-cent plague - David Hajdu

The ten-cent plague: the great comic book scare and how it changed America - Hajdu, David

Summary: "In the years between World War II and the emergence of television as a mass medium, American popular culture as we know it was first created--in the pulpy, boldly illustrated pages of comic books. No sooner had this new culture emerged than it was beaten down by church groups, community bluestockings, and a McCarthyish Congress--only to resurface with a crooked smile on its face in Mad magazine."-- From publisher description.

Booklist Reviews
The movies and rock 'n' roll have had brushes with censorship, but the comic-book industry was nearly wiped out in the 1950s by do-gooders concerned about their hypothesized detrimental effects on young readers. As Hajdu shows, comics were controversial right from their turn-of-the-century origins in newspapers, but the post–World War II development of lurid crime comic books depicting the exploits of violent gangsters aroused virulent opposition that intensified with the medium's next step—gruesome horror titles. The latter became the target of newspaper crusades, the psychiatric establishment (led by Frederic Wertham, whose 1954 screed Seduction of the Innocent became a bestseller), congressional hearings, and censorship boards in more than 50 cities. The industry, a refuge for ethnic minorities and other outsiders who reveled in the freedoms gained by working under the radar of adult audiences, survived only through self-regulation in the form of a Comics Code that stripped comics of much vitality. As a telling coda, Hajdu appends a list of nearly 900 creators who, after the crackdown, never worked in comics again. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

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Oblivion: stories - David Foster Wallace

Oblivion: stories - Wallace, David Foster

A collection of short stories includes "The Soul Is Not a Smithy," in which a father distracts his son from noticing a teacher's breakdown; and "The Suffering Channel," in which a sculpture artist's profile is influenced by office politics. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
An all-male focus group convenes in a Chicago office building to sample a new form of junk food under the omnivorous eyes of a psychotic statistician, while on the street a crowd gathers to watch a possibly armed man scale the glass tower. A journalist investigates an Indiana man who makes art out of his "miraculous poo." A couple goes to a sleep clinic to resolve a snoring conflict. So it goes in Wallace's first short-story collection in five years, a high-wire performance by the star of kinetically cerebral fiction. As questing a philosopher (his last book, Everything and More [BKL O 15 03], is a history of infinity) as he is a canny storyteller, the author of Infinite Jest (1996) fashions complex tales rife with shrewd metaphysical inquiries, eviscerating social critiques, and twisted humor. Profoundly intrigued with the paradoxes of being, the haphazard forging of the self, and the relentless cascade of consciousness, he has one of his obsessed narrators bemoan language's inability to convey the psyche's wildness, yet Wallace's torrential prose comes awfully close. ((Reviewed May 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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The keeper of lost causes - Adler-Olsen Jussi

The keeper of lost causes - Jussi, Adler-Olsen

Summary: Chief detective Carl Møck, recovering from what he thought was a career-destroying gunshot wound, is relegated to cold cases and becomes immersed in the five-year disappearance of a politician.

Booklist Reviews
"*Starred Review* Since a shooting left him injured and his partner paralyzed, Copenhagen detective Carl Mørck has lost his way. His difficult personality, formerly tolerated because of his skills, has made him a liability. So his boss puts him in charge of Department Q, a cold-case Siberia that consists of Mørck and a genially obtuse assistant, Assad. There Mørck becomes intrigued by the file of Merete Lynggaard, a beautiful politician lost at sea five years ago. Here's the kicker: We know that Lynggaard is still alive, imprisoned in horrific circumstances. Adler-Olsen deftly advances both stories simultaneously. As Mørck uncovers the truth about Lynggaard's fate, Lynggaard learns why she has been singled out for an elaborate revenge. The reader's desire for the narratives to meet is so painful it's palpable. Given the Stieg Larsson effect on Scandinavian literature, it's surprising that it's taken even this long for Denmark's top crime writer to make his American debut. Comparisons are inevitable and, while he may lack a Salander, Adler-Olsen's prose is superior to Larsson's, his tortures are less discomfiting, and he has a sense of humor. Without The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, this might not have seen print here, but some will prefer it to its benefactor." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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