Jun 1, 2011

I'm down: a memoir - Mishna Wolff

I'm down: a memoir - Wolff, Mishna

Summary: Traces the author's experiences of growing up with a white father who believed himself to be African-American, describing how his efforts to indoctrinate his daughter into black culture caused her to be rejected by her black and white peers.

Kirkus Reviews
A humorist and former model recalls growing up gifted and white in a poor, predominantly black neighborhood.In the early 1970s, Wolff and her parents, all Caucasian, moved back to her father's childhood neighborhood, Rainier Valley in south Seattle. The neighborhood had changed from white to black, and her father decided that the family should be black too. "He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esque sweater, gold chains, and a Kangol," writes the author, "telling jokes like Redd Fox and giving advice like Jesse Jackson." Wolff's mother soon tired of the project and divorced her father. At age seven or eight, Wolff says, she was terrible at acting black, and she became a source of constant irritation and disappointment to her father. She could not dance, sing or even jump rope, and she displayed weakness in a tough neighborhood. Just as she discovered she was good at something black—rapid-fire insults along the lines of "Your mama's so fat…" or "You're so ugly…"—her mother transferred her to a school for gifted children (all of them white and rich). So started Wolff's perilous journey of self-identity. The blackness of her neighborhood only made her feel out of place at school, and the whiteness of her school only alienated her from her father and the black woman he married, to the point where she moved out to live with her mother. By age 12 she was a mess, suffering from insomnia, migraines and a deep anxiety that she would always be poor and never have "a lucrative anesthesia practice like all my friends." Over time, Wolff found some balance. Even her father, in a lovingly told final episode, gave her what she most wanted—his acceptance.Deftly and hilariously delineates the American drama of race and class for one little girl.Agent: Erin Hosier/Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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The spirit catches you and you fall down - Anne Fadiman

The spirit catches you and you fall down: a Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures - Fadiman, Anne

Summary: A study in the collision between Western medicine and the beliefs of a traditional culture focuses on a hospitalized child of Laotian immigrants, members of the Hmong tribe, whose belief that illness is a spiritual matter came into conflict with doctors' methods. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
The Lee family had suffered much in Laos and Thailand before coming to the U.S. and settling in Merced, California, among an already large Hmong population. Fadiman explores relations between young Lia Lee, her parents, and various physicians. She brings Hmong culture vividly to life and shows how naturally misunderstandings arise when American health-care providers deal with Hmong patients and their families. For example, the Hmong feel that soul strings must be tied around parts of the body when the individual is endangered; American nurses understandably but insensitively cut off these dirty ties. Fadiman's brief history of the Hmong also explains Lia's parents' desire to be independent and in charge, in the process filling a gap in many a reader's knowledge. Her book has a scope much broader than that of a medical case history, and it could well spark discussion of such questions as whether an immigrant lacks intelligence if she cannot express herself quickly and clearly in English and whether a foreign culture is always inferior. ((Reviewed September 15, 1997)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Inside of a dog: What dogs see, smell, and know - Alexandra Horowitz

Inside of a dog: What dogs see, smell, and know - Horowitz, Alexandra

Summary: What do dogs know? How do they think? The answers will surprise and delight you as Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist, explains how dogs perceive their daily worlds, each other, and that other quirky animal, the human.

LJ Express Reviews
Dogs have no sense of time; don't see in color; don't learn by observation-or do they? Cognitive scientist Horowitz (psychology, Barnard Coll.) explains that to understand the dog, we must understand his umwelt, his perception of his surroundings based upon anatomy, physiology, experience, and evolution. Debunking long-held misconceptions about the dog's sensory and emotional life, Horowitz gives dog lovers who have always believed that dogs can learn through example or anticipate an owner's return a wealth of current scientific information to confirm their perceptions. Verdict An essential read for pet owners and students of animal behavior who have followed developments in the emerging field of comparative psychology in Stanley Coren's How Dogs Think, Temple Grandin's Animals Make Us Human, and Patricia B. McConnell's Tales of Two Species.-Florence Scarinci, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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True grit - Charles Portis

True grit - Portis, Charles

Summary: Pursuing a murderer who has escaped into Indian Territory, U.S. Marshal Rooster J. Cogburn teams up with a bounty-hunting Texas Ranger and Mattie Ross, a cantankerous young lady who is bent on revenge.

True Grit, first published in 1968 and the basis for the movie by the same name starring John Wayne, tells the story of fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross. A coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shoots her father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robs him of his life, his horse, and $150 in cash money. That's when Mattie fearlessly heads out to avenge her father's blood, convincing one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, the meanest U.S. Marshal there is, to accompany her. But their plans run into an obstacle -- namely, a Texas Ranger who is also investigating the murder, and whose idea of justice is vastly different from Mattie and Rooster's.

Like Mattie herself, True Grit is eccentric, cool, straight, and unflinching. This is an American classic through and through.
- (Center Point Pub)

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Valley of the dolls - Jacqueline Susann

Valley of the dolls - Susann, Jacqueline

Summary: The story of three women and their struggle to make it in the entertainment industry. Upon making it to the top, the sad realization sets in that they have no place to go but down.

Staff Review
Susann's cult classic, full of drugs, drama, and celebrity scandal is an intoxicating summer read.

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The perfect Nazi - Martin P. Davidson

The perfect Nazi: uncovering my grandfather's secret past and how Hitler seduced a generation - Davidson, Martin P.

Summary: Traces the author's research into his family's history after learning at his mother's deathbed that his formidable grandfather had been a Nazi SS officer, describing his discoveries of how his grandfather embodied the persona of an ideal soldier whose fortunes reflected the rise and fall of the Nazi party. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
As a film editor with the BBC, Davidson persuaded his employer to broadcast all two hours and 20 minutes of Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, in response to public debate surrounding the filmmaker's autobiography. He had no idea at the time that Bruno Langbehn, his maternal grandfather, had likely been "one of those grim-faced SS hoplites marching in the film's endless formations." His family had always been tight-lipped about his grandfather's past, and he could never forget the provocatively unrepentant comments old Bruno would make after a few drinks. But it wasn't until after Bruno's death that the whole truth began to emerge: Davidson's grandfather had been a dedicated Nazi, an "early joiner" who rose through the ranks to become a decorated SS officer (and colleague of Adolf Eichmann). Scouring records and photographs and visiting the places where Bruno lived, Davidson pieces together his grandfather's past, and through this biography sheds some light on the mechanisms of Nazi ideology. Though an investigation of this sort could easily succumb to sensationalism, Davidson treads carefully and remains candid about the discomfort his research causes him. The result is an engrossing and deeply personal narrative that raises as many questions as it seems to answer. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Nine lives - William Dalrymple

Nine lives: in search of the sacred in modern India - Dalrymple, William

Summary: Examines how traditional religions are observed in present-day India through the experiences of such individuals as a Tantric practicing middle-class woman from Calcutta, a prison warder from Kerala who is worshipped as an incarnate deity, and a Jain nun who watched a friend ritually starve.

Booklist Reviews
Dalrymple, author of prizewinning works of far-roaming inquiry, including The Last Mughal (2007), knows when to let others speak. Which is what he does with great finesse in this evocative set of portraits of nine spiritual seekers living across India. Nine lives that open doors onto nine of India's many arduous paths to the divine and reveal striking, nearly surreal juxtapositions between the old and the new. There's the haunting tale of a Jain nun who as a girl renounced her life of privilege and the wrenching story of Rani Bai, a devadasi, or servant of the goddess Yellamma, who was forced into prostitution as a girl. Hari Das describes what it feels like "to be taken over by a god" when he performs theyyam, the sacred possession dance of Kerala, only to return to his dangerous work as a prison guard. Dalrymple sets each vivid profile within an intricately drawn history of the ancient and now-endangered tradition each devotee is dedicated to preserving in the escalating battle between holiness and hustle that is transforming India. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

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All the pretty horses - Cormac McCarthy

All the pretty horses - McCarthy, Cormac

Summary: Cut off from the life of ranching he has come to love by his grandfather's death, John Grady Cole flees to Mexico, where he and his two companions embark on a rugged and cruelly idyllic adventure. 25,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

Publishers Weekly Reviews
This is a novel so exuberant in its prose, so offbeat in its setting and so mordant and profound in its deliberations that one searches in vain for comparisons in American literature. None of McCarthy's previous works, not even the award-winning The Orchard Keeper (1965) or the much-admired Blood Meridian (1985), quite prepares the reader for the singular achievement of this first installment in the projected Border Trilogy. John Grady Cole is a 16-year-old boy who leaves his Texas home when his grandfather dies. With his parents already split up and his mother working in theater out of town, there is no longer reason for him to stay. He and his friend Lacey Rawlins ride their horses south into Mexico; they are joined by another boy, the mysterious Jimmy Blevins, a 14-year-old sharpshooter. Although the year is 1948, the landscape--at some moments parched and unforgiving, at others verdant and gentled by rain--seems out of time, somewhere before history or after it. These likable boys affect the cowboy's taciturnity--they roll cigarettes and say what they mean--and yet amongst themselves are given to terse, comic exchanges about life and death. In McCarthy's unblinking imagination the boys suffer truly harrowing encounters with corrupt Mexican officials, enigmatic bandits and a desert weather that roils like an angry god. Though some readers may grow impatient with the wild prairie rhythms of McCarthy's language, others will find his voice completely transporting. In what is perhaps the book's most spectacular feat, horses and men are joined in a philosophical union made manifest in the muscular pulse of the prose and the brute dignity of the characters. ``What he loved in horses was what he loved in men, the blood and the heat of the blood that ran them,'' the narrator says of John Grady. As a bonus, Grady endures a tragic love affair with the daughter of a rich Spanish Hacendado , a romance, one hopes, to be resumed later in the trilogy. (May) Copyright 1992 Cahners Business Information.

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Martin Dressler - Steven Millhauser

Martin Dressler: the tale of an American dreamer - Millhauser, Steven

Summary: A young entrepreneur in late-nineteenth-century New York City, Martin Dressler rises from helper in his father's cigar store as an elusive dream and his love for two sisters comes to life in the Grand Cosmo, an extravagant hotel. - (Baker & Taylor)

Kirkus Reviews
A chronicle of obsession, self-indulgence, and, in a curious way, moral growth, expertly poised between realistic narrative and allegorical fable, from the author of such intriguing, if sometimes unduly gossamer, fictions as Edwin Mullhouse (1972) and In the Penny Arcade (1986). The eponymous Martin, a quiet, diligent youth who learns the rudiments of business practices as a clerk in his father's Manhattan cigar store in the 1890s, rises gradually to wealth and fame as bellhop and eventually second-in-command at a well-known New York hotel, then proprietor of his own cigar store, afterward a thriving lunchroom, and, before his 30th birthday, of the ultramodern Dressler Hotel and its even more successful successors, most notably the Grand Cosmo, ``a leap beyond the hotel,'' that incorporates elements of a traveling Chautauqua, a theme park, and even a hint of Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. Millhauser gives equal weight--as never before in his fiction--to both the dreamlike nature of Martin's ambitions and progress, and the quotidian mechanics of achieving that success: The novel is built up from an amazing density of specific period detail that never for a moment seems oppressive or ostentatious. Millhauser also develops with great skill the relationships through which Martin realizes his own nature: those with business associates and mentors, and especially with ``the Vernon women,'' a mother and two adult daughters with whom he establishes an unconventional friendship, leading him to a profitable partnership and a disillusioning marriage. This strange story ends with Martin on the verge of ruin, having realized that ``he had dreamed the wrong dream, the dream that others didn't wish to enter,'' yet in no sense defeated, still enchanted, empowered- -and limited--by his dream. A fascinating and provocative portrayal of turn-of-the-century America tht hums with energy and wit. It might be another of Dreiser's densely packed tales of financiers and titans, written at characteristic white heat, but by an immeasurably more graceful stylist. Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables - Montgomery, L.M.

Summary: By mistake, Anne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a farm on Prince Edward Island and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone.

When Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert of Green Gables, Prince Edward Island, send for a boy orphan to help them out at the farm, they are in no way prepared for the error that will change their lives. The mistake takes the shape of Anne Shirley, a redheaded 11-year-old girl who can talk anyone under the table. Fortunately, her sunny nature and quirky imagination quickly win over her reluctant foster parents. Anne's feisty spirit soon draws many friends--and much trouble--her way. Not a day goes by without some melodramatic new episode in the tragicomedy of her life. Early on, Anne declares her eternal antipathy for Gilbert Blythe, a classmate who commits the ultimate sin of mocking her hair color. Later, she accidentally dyes that same cursed hair green. Another time, in her haste to impress a new neighbor, she bakes a cake with liniment instead of vanilla. Lucy Maud Montgomery's series of books about Anne have remained classics since the early 20th century. Her portrayal of this feminine yet independent spirit has given generations of girls a strong female role model, while offering a taste of another, milder time in history. --Emilie Coulter

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At Freddie's - Penelope Fitzgerald

At Freddie's - Fitzgerald, Penelope

Summary: Freddie, the elderly proprietress of the Temple Stage School for children, attempts to outwit two successful businessmen who are interested in taking over the school - (Baker & Taylor)

"A work of immense poise and dignity, but warmth and humor, too... This is definitely one of the most charming - but strongly textured - novels anyone will read in a long while." Booklist, ALA

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Devil's food cake murder - Joanne Fluke

Devil's food cake murder - Fluke, Joanne

Summary: When someone shoots visiting Lutheran minister Matthew Walters, Hannah Swenson and cronies investigate Matthew's background, especially his relationship to his creepy, paroled convict cousin, Paul.

Booklist Reviews
When Matthew Walters returns to Lake Eden, Minnesota, to fill in for the Reverend Bob Knudson, who will soon be leaving on his honeymoon, Grandma Knudson suspects that Walters is not the same person who summered with her as a teen while his parents were doing missionary work. She asks Hannah Swensen, owner of the Cookie Jar bakery, to verify Walters' identity. Hannah determines Walters is who he says he is, but shortly thereafter, he's murdered. Hannah and her family, along with her dentist boyfriend, Norman, work to solve the crime. Hannah's life is complicated by Norman's former fiancée relocating to Lake Eden to join his dental practice. Series readers will enjoy plot twists, the small-town winter setting, and the bakery backdrop, but the main pleasure here remains the opportunity to get reacquainted with Hannah, her family, and the other Lake Eden residents. Fans will be eagerly awaiting the next installment, thanks especially to a bombshell Norman drops at the end of the story. As always, delicious, easy-to-follow recipes are sprinkled throughout the text. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews

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The tie that binds - Kent Haruf

The tie that binds: a novel - Haruf, Kent

Summary: Edith Goodenough, the courageous daughter of Colorado homesteaders, finds herself bound by duty, love, and obligation to her crippled father and, by strength and determination, learns to live within the constraints of that responsibility - (Baker & Taylor)

"An impressive, expertly crafted work of sensitivity and detail. . . . Powerful." --Los Angeles Times Book Review

"[A] fine first novel that dramatically and accurately explores the lives of people who work the land in the stark American Middle West." --The New York Times Book Review

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Nerve - Taylor Clark

Nerve: poise under pressure, serenity under stress, and the brave new science of fear and cool - Clark, Taylor

Summary: Draws on a variety of case studies to explain why some people thrive under pressure while others fail miserably, and explains how to build confidence and steady shaky nerves.

Booklist Reviews
Clark, author of Starbucked (2007), maintains his light, frequently humorous tone in this (mostly) serious look at the psychology of stress. Drawing on various forms of research, and numerous real-life stories, the author explores the reasons why we feel stress, our responses to it, and what we can do to deal with it constructively. Clark takes us through the history of stress research, from early breakthroughs (Walter Cannon's 1915 elucidation of the fight-or-flight response) to experimental research ("most of what we know about the science of fear comes from tormenting rats," Clark wryly observes) to today's cutting-edge explorations of the workings of the human brain. The subjects of his real-life stories of dealing with stress under intense pressure range from Russian sub commanders to game-show contestants to tsunami survivors to pro athletes to musicians. The author makes some shrewd observations (for example, that Cannon's fight-or-flight response leaves out a third F: freeze), and, unlike many authors of popular-science books, he really knows how to write, too: the book is informative, engaging, and, in quite a few places, funny. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Invisible lives - Anjali Banerjee

Invisible lives - Banerjee, Anjali

Summary: Upholding her family traditions throughout her lifetime, dutiful Indo-American sari maker Lakshmi Sen agrees to marry an upstanding doctor selected for her by her widowed mother, employs her mystical abilities to identify the perfect fabrics for her customers, and finds herself falling in love with a famous actress's bodyguard. Original. 30,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
In Banerjee's sophomore effort, she introduces Lakshmi Sen, a young woman who has the uncanny ability to read people's emotions. She puts her gift to use in her mother's Seattle sari shop--finding fabrics that ease a bride's cold feet, evoke a widow's first love, and even soothe a young autistic boy's fears. Her notoriety draws the interest of a Bollywood star, but whenever the actress' charming chauffeur Nick is around, Lakshmi has trouble keeping her own emotions in check. Will she allow herself to fall for Nick or marry the Indian doctor her family has chosen for her? Banerjee captures the struggle between tradition and modernity in this accessible chick-lit tale. Readers will appreciate that Banerjee doesn't choose sides and offers a variety of perspectives through her characters. The book has a romantic, magical quality that isn't a bit treacly. It's exciting to see how much Banerjee has grown since her debut, Imaginary Men (2005). ((Reviewed September 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews

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The house of six doors - Patricia Selbert

The house of six doors - Selbert, Patricia

Summary: Mama takes thirteen-year-old Serena and her sister to the US in search of fortune, leaving behind their multicultural family, stability, and the colors of the Caribbean. After driving from Miami to Hollywood, their money and luck run out and a 1963 Ford Galaxie becomes their first American home. Guided by the memory of her native Curacao and the words of her wise grandmother, Serena confronts unimagined challenges and grows up quickly. What gifts will this new country bring, and at what price?

"This is an honest and compelling coming-of-age story that follows a girl as she moves between two cultures, cradled between longing for her indigenous past and the glittering promise of her future in America. Selbert artfully shines light upon the honest transformation of an immigrant family, moving from memories of a windswept island and a grandmother's wisdom to the poignant integration and reality facing all American immigrants." - Carol Prunhuber, author of "Women: Around the World and Through the Ages"

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Lone survivor - Marcus Luttrell

Lone survivor: the eyewitness account of Operation Redwing and the lost heroes of SEAL Team 10 - Luttrell, Marcus

The leader, and only survivor, of a team of U.S. Navy SEALs sent to northern Afghanistan to capture a well-known al Qaeda leader chronicles the events of the battle that killed his teammates and offers insight into the training of this elite group of warriors. - (Baker & Taylor)

Four US Navy SEALS departed one clear night in early July, 2005 for the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border for a reconnaissance mission. Their task was to document the activity of an al Qaeda leader rumored to have a small army in a Taliban stronghold. Five days later, only one of those Navy SEALS made it out alive. This is the story of the only survivor of Operation Redwing, SEAL team leader Marcus Luttrell, and the extraordinary firefight that led to the largest loss of life in American Navy SEAL history. His squadmates fought valiantly beside him until he was the only one left alive, blasted by an RPG into a place where his pursuers could not find him. Over the next four days, terribly injured and presumed dead, Luttrell crawled for miles through the mountains and was taken in by sympathetic villagers who risked their lives to keep him safe from surrounding Taliban warriors. A born and raised Texan, Marcus Luttrell takes us from the rigors of SEAL training, where he and his fellow SEALs discovered what it took to join the most elite of the American special forces, to a fight in the desolate hills of Afghanistan for which they never could have been prepared. His account of his squadmates' heroism and mutual support renders an experience for which two of his squadmates were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for combat heroism that is both heartrending and life-affirming. In this rich chronicle of courage and sacrifice, honor and patriotism, Marcus Luttrell delivers a powerful narrative of modern war. - (Little Brown & Co)

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iPhone: The missing manual - David Pogue

iPhone: The missing manual - Pogue, David

Summary: Explains how to use the innovative cellular phone and learn all the options of its additional capabilities which include conference calling, text messaging, playing music and videos, displaying photographs, along with Internet access and email.

With multitasking and more than a 100 other new features, iPhone 4.0 is a real treat, cooked up with Apple's traditional secret sauce of simplicity, intelligence, and whimsy. iPhone: The Missing Manual gives you a guided tour of everything the new iPhone has to offer, with lots of tips, tricks, and surprises. Learn how to make calls and play songs by voice control, take great photos, keep track of your schedule, and much more with complete step-by-step instructions and crystal-clear explanations by iPhone master David Pogue.

Whether you have a brand-new iPhone, or want to update an earlier model with the iPhone 4.0 software, this beautiful full-color book is the best, most objective resource available.

* Use it as a phone -- learn the basics as well as time-saving tricks and tips for contact searching, texting, and more
* Treat it as an iPod -- master the ins and outs of iTunes, and listen to music, upload and view photos, and fill the iPhone with TV shows and movies
* Take the iPhone online -- make the most of your online experience to browse the Web, read and compose email, use social networks, or send photos and audio files
* Go beyond the iPhone -- learn how to use the App Store, and how to multitask between your apps, organize them in folders, and read ebooks in iBooks

Unlock the full potential of your iPhone -- with the book that should have been in the box.
- (Ingram Publishing Services)

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