Sep 1, 2011

The other side - Istvan Banyai

The other side - Banyai, Istvan

Summary: A wordless picture book that shows a series of familiar scenes through many twists in point of view, such as a boy looking down out of a jet's window and another boy on the ground looking up at the same jet.

Horn Book Guide Reviews
In this wordless book, we see part of a story on one page; turning that page reveals another perspective. There are other stories as well, mysteriously intertwined. The resolution raises more questions, sending readers back to the beginning for additional clues in Banyai's precise line art. Readers who like puzzles and the challenge of lateral thinking will find themselves preoccupied for hours. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Stranger than fiction - Chuck Palahniuk

Stranger than fiction - Palahniuk, Chuck

Summary: A collection of nonfiction writings documents encounters with Marilyn Manson and Juliette Lewis, the challenges faced by the author when "Fight Club" was made into a movie, the lives of submariners, and the violent experiences of college wrestlers. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
From Fight Club (1996) and the guys who fight for sport to Choke (2001) and a young man who might literally be the son of Jesus, Palahniuk's novels are consistently populated with extraordinary eccentrics. So it's no surprise that in this collection of previously published magazine pieces, he writes mostly of the bizarre. Palahniuk focuses on themes of solitude and community, on our need to feel simultaneously special and a part of something. He attends the Olympic wrestling trials, for instance, and examines why men endure cauliflower ear and debilitating injury to participate in a sport that no one watches or cares about. The personal essays (Palahniuk describes a romp through Seattle while wearing a dog costume, for instance) don't shine as much as the journalistic pieces, although fans will be interested to learn personal details about Chuck and his experiences with quasi celebrity. But the best narratives here-- particularly a lengthy one on Americans who build European-style castles--show Palahniuk's deep compassion for oddballs and misfits, a hard-boiled kindness for which his fans revere him. ((Reviewed May 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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Close to famous - Joan Bauer

Close to famous - Bauer, Joan

Summary: Twelve-year-old Foster McFee and her mother escape from her mother's abusive boyfriend and end up in the small town of Culpepper, West Virginia, where they use their strengths and challenge themselves to build a new life, with the help of the friends they make there.

Booklist Reviews
Twelve-year-old Foster McFee and her mother leave Memphis in the middle of the night, fleeing the mother's abusive boyfriend. Foster has a severe learning disability, a pillowcase full of mementos of her dead father, and a real gift for baking. When she and her singer mother relocate to a tiny, rural West Virginia town, they discover a friendly and welcoming population of delightfully quirky characters. Foster finally learns to read from a reclusive, retired movie star; markets her baked goods at Angry Wayne's Bar and Grill; helps tiny but determined Macon with his documentary; and encourages her mother to become a headliner rather than a backup singer, all the while perfecting her baking technique for the time when she gets her own cooking show like her TV idol, Sonny Kroll. Bauer gently and effortlessly incorporates race (Foster's mother is black; her father was white), religion, social justice, and class issues into a guaranteed feel-good story that dodges sentimentality with humor. Readers who want contemporary fiction with a happy ending will find it here. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Inside out & back again - Thanhha Lai

Inside out & back again - Thanhha, Lai

Summary: Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* After her father has been missing in action for nine years during the Vietnam War, 10-year-old Hà flees with her mother and three older brothers. Traveling first by boat, the family reaches a tent city in Guam, moves on to Florida, and is finally connected with sponsors in Alabama, where Hà finds refuge but also cruel rejection, especially from mean classmates. Based on Lai's personal experience, this first novel captures a child-refugee's struggle with rare honesty. Written in accessible, short free-verse poems, Hà's immediate narrative describes her mistakes—both humorous and heartbreaking—with grammar, customs, and dress (she wears a flannel nightgown to school, for example); and readers will be moved by Hà's sorrow as they recognize the anguish of being the outcast who spends lunchtime hiding in the bathroom. Eventually, Hà does get back at the sneering kids who bully her at school, and she finds help adjusting to her new life from a kind teacher who lost a son in Vietnam. The elemental details of Hà's struggle dramatize a foreigner's experience of alienation. And even as she begins to shape a new life, there is no easy comfort: her father is still gone. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Life, on the line - Grant Achatz

Life, on the line : a chef's story of chasing greatness, facing death, and redefining the way we eat - Achatz, Grant

Summary: An award-winning chef describes how he lost his sense of taste to cancer, a setback that prompted him to discover alternate cooking methods and create his celebrated progressive cuisine.

Kirkus Reviews
One of America's most decorated chefs relates the triumphal story of his culinary genesis and epic battle with tongue cancer.

The unlikely comma in the title of this 36-year-old's memoir, seemingly choking off the subject before it's developed, wonderfully captures the pivotal pause cancer forced the young chef to take during his meteoric rise in the restaurant world. Witnessed and told in part by business partner Kokonas, Achatz's story begs comparison more with sports greats like Andre Agassi and Lance Armstrong, who famously surmounted gross physical challenges to reach the pinnacle of their careers, than with other culinary lions. While his untimely diagnosis with carcinoma of the tongue at age 33 may have compelled Achatz to share his story of life "on the line" with a mainstream audience, the bulk of the memoir focuses on the chef's extraordinary culinary journey. From cracking eggs at age seven in his grandmother's café, to opening Alinea in Chicago at 31, which was subsequently named the best restaurant in the country by Gourmet in 2006, Achatz writes that the great challenge of his younger life was matching the culinary achievement of those around him. "All of my life I was surrounded by success"—including his parents, who owned their own restaurant before they were 30, exposure to the uncompromising demands of Charlie Trotter and mentoring by the inimitable Thomas Keller. "The whole time I wanted to be as good as all of them," he writes. "I knew the only way to come close to that was to do something different; otherwise, I would always be in their shadows." With an unrelenting work ethic and crackerjack imagination that has yielded gastronomic gems like foie gras lozenges enrobed in bittersweet chocolate or lavender-flavored popsicles, not to mention a revolutionary approach to food preparation and presentation, Achatz has demonstrated success at achieving "different." But what makes this memoir ring true for those beyond the world of the professional kitchen is the author's understated rise to the challenge of his life-altering trauma.

Revelatory and inspiring.
Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Humble masterpieces - Paola Antonelli

Humble masterpieces: everyday marvels of design - Antonelli, Paola

Summary: From M & Ms to Post–It Notes, a charming and insightful collection of design marvels from everyday life, celebrated by the curator of the MoMA's department of architecture and design.

Every day we use dozens of tiny objects, from Post–It notes to Band–Aids. If they work well, chances are we do not pay them much attention. But although modest in size and price, some of these objects are true masterpieces of the art of design.

Paola Antonelli, curator of the Museum of Modern Art's Department of Design and Architecture, is a highly celebrated figure in the world of design (she was just ranked among the top 100 most powerful people in the world of art). Paola has long been passionate about the subject of everyday objects that are marvels of design. The response to her recent MoMA show, also called Humble Masterpieces, was electric. In addition to lively coverage in dozens of publications, the museum goers spread the word about the fun of learning about and nominating their own picks for humble masterpieces.

Now, in this colorful visual feast, Antonelli chooses 100 fabulous objects, from Chupa Chup lollipops to Legos to Chopsticks and Scotch tape. Each object will be portrayed with a gorgeous close–up detail, a brisk and informative text on its origin and special design features, as well as a silhouette image of the object as we see it each day. Certain to appeal to a broad audience, and to lend itself to fun, creative promotional opportunities, Humble Masterpieces will celebrate the possibility of looking at our everyday lives in an all–new way.

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The emperor of scent - Chandler Burr

The emperor of scent : a story of perfume, obsession, and the last mystery of the senses - Burr, Chandler

Summary: Explores the life of scientific maverick Luca Turin, a man whose remarkable powers of smell and obsession with perfume led to the discovery of how the nose works and how scents are detected. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
/*Starred Review*/ Science is supposed to be rational and objective, but in the real world, as mettlesome journalist Burr discovered while chronicling an ingenuous scientist's approach to solving one of the greatest mysteries of the body, how smell works, it is more often ego-driven, avaricious, and viciously resistant to fresh ideas. Burr, author of A Separate Creation (1996), met Luca Turin by chance, just one of the countless serendipitous moments that typify this cosmopolitan biophysicist's intuitive and innovative approach to science. Possessed of a capacious intellect, an obsession with smell, and a passion for perfume, Turin has always, Burr writes, "picked up information like flypaper." This gift, coupled with Turin's preternaturally sensitive nose, phenomenal memory, and prodigious ability to precisely describe scents, enabled him to write his renowned Parfums: Le Guide (1992)--which granted him precious access to the secretive big seven fragrance corporations--and to think outside the box and challenge the clearly flawed, but persistent, theory that scents are recognized by molecular shape. Turin is certain that it's molecular vibrations, and the scandalous story of his thwarted efforts to publish his exciting and provocative findings, thanks to Burr's vigorous writing style, incisive portraits, and scientific explication, is as suspenseful as it is fascinating. ((Reviewed December 1, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews

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Elmer - Gerry Alanguilan

Elmer - Alanguilan, Gerry

Summary: Jake Gallo, an intelligent chicken, returns to the farm where his father, Elmer, one of the first sentient chickens, is dying, where he reads Elmer's diary and talks to the man who protected his parents before chickens were declared human. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Gorgeously drawn black-and-white artwork combines with outstanding storytelling in this modern-day fable of ethnic strife, identity, friendship, and family. The titular character has been a writer all his "human" life, keeping a secret diary that his son Jake discovers and reads after Elmer's death. Along with his newly engaged sister and gay movie-star brother, Jake returns to his childhood home for Elmer's last days, stays on for his funeral, and helps his newly widowed, delicate mother. Oh, and Jake and family are sentient, well-spoken chickens, a result of a never-explained but carefully depicted world event in 1979. Elmer's old human friend, Farmer Ben, offers Jake insight on Elmer's past—both pre- and postsentience—and advice as Jake works through his family's victimization at the hands of Ben's kind. Bloody world wars pitted chicken against man and led to a wave of antichicken prejudice and even attempts at genocide before the UN declared chickens an equal part of humanity. Ethical and moral issues touch on wide-angle politics but also keep close to familial events in Jake's childhood (bullying, child-parent strife) and adulthood (inter-"ethnic" marriage). The fine-lined artwork depicts the differences between sentient and presentient chickens, while some full-page panels show the lush scenery and relative calm between action sequences. Set in Alanguilan's Philippine homeland and marked by its culture, Elmer deserves a wide international readership (for teen collections, note brief female nudity and strong violence) and shows how the sequential-art format can challenge even such canonical predecessors as Animal Farm. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

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The Duggars - Michelle Duggar

The Duggars: 20 and counting!: raising one of America's largest families--how they do it - Duggar, Michelle

Summary: A behind-the-scenes look at this supersize, faith-filled family from Arkansas that's full of entertaining and enlightening stories, photos, recipes, tips, traditions, and practical ideas for rearing happy children.

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Austenland - Shannon Hale

Austenland - Hale, Shannon

Summary: Because her obsession with Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice," is ruining her love life, Jane Hayes is delighted when she gets the chance to take a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women.

Booklist Reviews
Suppose you're a huge fan of Jane Austen, and in particular Pride and Prejudice and in particular Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the BBC adaptation, and nothing in real life quite measures up. And suppose your great-aunt's legacy to you is a three-week vacation at an Austen-themed resort. This is the situation in which Jane Hayes, New York graphic artist, finds herself. Pembrook Park is a kind of Austen Fantasy Island where the female guests are required to dress, speak, eat, and in every way conduct themselves like heroines in Austen's novels, with actors filling out the roles of eligible suitors. Jane, called Miss Erstwhile for the duration of her stay, tries to get used to corsets and other Regency amusements while sorting out whether the attentions of a Darcyesque Mr. Nobley, not to mention a good-looking gardener, are sincere or part of the show. A clever confection for fans of contemporary Austen knockoffs. ((Reviewed March 15, 2007)) Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

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The greater journey - David G. McCullough

The greater journey: Americans in Paris - McCullough, David

Summary: "This is the inspiring and, until now, untold story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, architects, and others of high aspiration who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, ambitious to excel in their work. Most had never left home, never experienced a different culture. None had any guarantee of success. That they achieved so much for themselves and their country profoundly altered American history. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in America; future abolitionist Charles Sumner; staunch friends James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel F. B. Morse (who saw something in France that gave him the idea for the telegraph); pianist Louis Moreau Gottschalk; medical student Oliver Wendell Holmes; writers Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, and Henry James; Harriet Beecher Stowe, seeking escape from the notoriety Uncle Tom's Cabin had brought her; sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and painters Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent; and American ambassador Elihu Washburne, who bravely remained at his post through the Franco-Prussian War, the long Siege of Paris and even more atrocious nightmare of the Commune. His vivid account in his diary of the starvation and suffering endured by the people of Paris (drawn on here for the first time) is one readers will never forget. Nearly all of these Americans, whatever their troubles, spent many of the happiest days and nights of their lives in Paris."--From publisher description.

Library Journal Reviews
Using a cache of letters, journals, and memoirs McCullough explores the impact of Paris on American thought and creativity during the 19th century. Tracing the city's influence on dozens of characters, McCullough offers readers his special blend of accessible, story-based social history. His lists of subjects reads like the top class of a 19th-century who's who: Augustus Saint-Gaudens (the New York sculptor), Mary Cassatt, Oliver Wendell Holmes (father of the Supreme Court Justice), James Fenimore Cooper, Samuel F.B. Morse, Charles Sumner (who went on to be the key voice in the Senate against slavery), and Harriet Beecher Stowe all make appearances. As McCullough's wonderful book makes clear, these luminaries did not just sharpen and deepen their particular expertise in Paris, they witnessed and absorbed a way of life and outlook that was both totally foreign and extremely influential. Presenting an intersecting grid of tales, McCullough dips out of one story only to dip into another as he explores the individual biographies that collectively make his point. The result is narrative nonfiction at its best, a work that seduces the reader with a fascinating blend of strongly defined characters, illuminating and intriguing detail, and an engrossing pace. - Neal Wyatt, "RA Crossroads", Booksmack! 7/7/11 Read-alikes: (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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The Devil's company - David Liss

The Devil's company - Liss, David

Summary: Set in 1700s London. When Benjamin Weaver is blackmailed into stealing documents from the ruthless British East India Company, he soon discovers the theft of trade secrets is only the first move in a daring conspiracy within the eighteenth century's most powerful corporation. To save his friends and family, Weaver must infiltrate the Company, navigate its warring factions, and uncover a secret plot of corporate rivals, foreign spies, and government operatives.

Booklist Reviews
Liss' third Benjamin Weaver novel finds the eighteenth-century British "thief-taker" (a kind of detective specializing in recovering stolen goods) on the wrong end of an elaborate scam. A secretive businessman, Mr. Cobb, has bought the debts of Weaver's uncle and two friends and threatens to throw them all into debtors' prison if Weaver doesn't do his bidding: gather information that could be used against London's formidable East India Company. Reluctantly, Weaver is on the case, but his real agenda is to save his friends and use whatever information he uncovers against Cobb and his henchmen. As in the previous Weaver adventures, A Conspiracy of Paper (2000), about Exchange Alley, center of the eighteenth-century British stock trading, and A Spectacle of Corruption (2004), about the world of bare-knuckle politics, Liss probes another insular community, silk traders, whose tentacles extend deep into every fabric of British economic and social life. His portrait of the East India Company could stand as a treatise on the birth of today's megacorporation: rife with historical detail and philosophical rumination on the proper relationship between business and government, it offers context on issues that continue to fuel debate on both sides of the Atlantic, but it does so not with pontificating economists but with a cast of robust Dickensian characters who wear their individuality on their silky sleeves. If the plot twists itself into a too-elaborate knot this time, requiring some awkward untwisting at the end, it interferes only slightly with our enjoyment of the novel. For every English major who flunked economics, Liss is here to complete our education in a way we can understand. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

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Mao's last dancer - Cunxin Li

Mao's last dancer - Li, Cunxin

Summary: Chosen from millions of children to serve in Mao's cultural revolution by studying at the Beijing Dance Academy, Li knew ballet would be his family's best opportunity to escape the bitter poverty in his rural China home. From one hardship to another, Li persevered, never forgetting the family he left behind.

Kirkus Reviews
A prominent ballet dancer revisits the strange course that led him from a Chinese hamlet to the world stage.Mix Billy Elliott with Torn Curtain and you'll have some of the tale in very broad outline. Born in 1961, Li lived his early years under the shadow of Mao's Great Leap Forward, which had impoverished the already poor countryside to an almost unbelievable extent. "Dried yams were our basic food for most of the year," Li writes. "We occasionally had flour and corn bread for a treat, but those were my [mother's] special reserves for relatives or important visitors. . . . Dried yams were the most hated food in my family, but there were others in the commune that could not even afford dried yams. We were luckier than most." Luck came in another form when Madame Mao decided that recruiting ballet dancers from the provinces would prove to the world that Chinese Communism was truly egalitarian, whereupon Li was packed off to dance school. "The officials mentioned ballet," he writes, "but all I knew about ballet was what I'd seen in the movie The Red Detachment of Women." Willing but slow to learn ("I was considered a laggard by most of my teachers," he writes with characteristic modesty), Li eventually found his feet, at the same time finding a purpose: "to serve glorious communism." One exchange trip to Texas, though, and Li, now in his late teens, was ready for something else. Li's well-paced account of the ensuing cloak-and-dagger episodes that led to his defection to the West adds suspense to a tale already full of adventures, but there are no conventional bad guys to be found in it. Indeed, he writes with fine compassion for the Chinese consul who attempts to dissuade him from becoming an outcast; "unlike me, he had to go back and would probably never manage to get out again."Nicely written and humane: for anyone interested in modern Chinese history or for fans of dance. Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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The five - Robert McCammon

The five - McCammon, Robert

Summary: Follows an eponymous rock band struggling to survive on the margins of the music business as they move through the American Southwest on what might be their final tour together, where the band members come to the attention of a damaged Iraq war veteran, and their lives are changed forever.

Staff Review
A story about a rock 'n' roll band who goes on a road trip that they never expected. Amazingly detailed, and full of rock knowledge, you won't forget this band.

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Zoo City - Lauren Beukes

Zoo City - Beukes, Lauren

Summary: Zinzi has a talent for finding lost things. Being hired by famously reclusive music producer Odi Huron to find a teenybop pop star should be her ticket out of Zoo City, the festering slum of the criminal underclass. Set in a wildly re-imagined Johannesburg, it mixes refugees, crime, the music industry, African magic and the nature of sin.

Staff Review
A unique science fiction story set in a futuristic South Africa. Completely original.

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Canti - Giacomo Leopardi

Canti - Leopardi, Giacomo

Summary: Giacomo Leopardi is Italy's greatest modern poet, the first European writer to portray and examine the self in a way that feels familiar to us today. A great classical scholar and patriot, he explored metaphysical loneliness in entirely original ways. Though he died young, his influence was enormous, and it is no exaggeration to say that all modern poetry, not only in Italian, derives in some way from his work.

Booklist Reviews
For a poet of his stature, Leopardi has enjoyed few complete translations in English. His poetic corpus isn't large; this volume contains all of it, in the original Italian as well as English. But Leopardi employed archaisms and unusual syntax, classical allusions, and the elision that makes him one of the first modernists. He also modified the traditional poetic forms he used, moving away from their rhyme schemes for the sake of personalizing his poetic voice, though he never descends to autobiography. Galassi grants the impossibility of transferring Leopardi's musicality into English, yet his versions often have their own swing to them, and they always verify the depiction of Leopardi in the introduction as a discouraged but genuine patriot and a philosophical hapless lover. They reflect, too, the romantic displacement of devotion from God to nature, the distrust of science, the exaltation of eros, and the despair of meaningful change that Matthew Arnold's English harbinger of modernism, "Dover Beach," attests. An absorbing presentation of a literary giant. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

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The moonstone - Wilkie Collins

The moonstone - Collins, Wilkie

Summary: The Moonstone (1868) by Wilkie Collins is a 19th-century British epistolary novel, generally considered the first detective novel in the English language. The story was originally serialized in Charles Dickens' magazine All the Year Round. The Moonstone and The Woman in White are considered Wilkie Collins' best novels. Besides creating many of the characteristics of detective novels, The Moonstone also represented Collins' social opinions by his treatment of the Indians and the servants in the novel.

“Perfect for long, cold winter evenings.”
— The Times

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Unaccustomed earth - Jhumpa Lahiri

Unaccustomed earth - Lahiri, Jhumpa

Summary: Exploring the secrets and complexities lying at the heart of family life and relationships, a collection of eight stories includes the title work, about a young mother in a new city whose father tends her garden while hiding a secret love affair.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Following her thoughtful first novel, The Namesake (2003), which has been made into a meditative film, Lahiri returns to the short story, the form that earned her the Pulitzer Prize for her debut, Interpreter of Maladies (1999). The tight arc of a story is perfect for Lahiri's keen sense of life's abrupt and painful changes, and her avid eye for telling details. This collection's five powerful stories and haunting triptych of tales about the fates of two Bengali families in America map the perplexing hidden forces that pull families asunder and undermine marriages. "Unaccustomed Earth," the title story, dramatizes the divide between immigrant parents and their American-raised children, and is the first of several scathing inquiries into the lack of deep-down understanding and trust in a marriage between a Bengali and non-Bengali. An inspired miniaturist, Lahiri creates a lexicon of loaded images. A hole burned in a dressy skirt suggests vulnerability and the need to accept imperfection. Van Eyck's famous painting, The Arnolfini Marriage, is a template for a tale contrasting marital expectations with the reality of familial relationships. A collapsed balloon is emblematic of failure. A lost bangle is shorthand for disaster. Lahiri's emotionally and culturally astute short stories (ideal for people with limited time for pleasure reading and a hunger for serious literature) are surprising, aesthetically marvelous, and shaped by a sure and provocative sense of inevitability. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

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