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Aug 1, 2012

Runaway - Alice Munro

Runaway - Munro, Alice

Summary: A collection of short fiction captures the lives of women of all ages and circumstances, as they deal with the limits and lies of passion, unfulfilled dreams, motherhood, betrayal, and the bonds of love.



Booklist Reviews
/*Starred Review*/ The CIP subject heading assigned to this collection of stories is "Women--Fiction." Accurate, yes, and helpful to librarians, of course, but at the same time so reductive, for although Canadian Munro does indeed write about women, her sheer perception and eloquence make her one of the foremost contemporary practitioners of the short story in English. And her status only gains more secure footing with the appearance of these eight new pieces. Munro's stories range "long"--that is, in the 30- to 40-page category. Their planned cohesion and intended restriction of focus actually mean that Munro has invented her own "genre" of short fiction: not undeveloped novels or even unfledged novellas but, rather, true short stories offering a widening and deepening of exploration that shorter pages don't allow. The title story ranks among Munro's best: a showcase of her own approach to "Women--Fiction." A young woman is encouraged by a neighbor to leave her husband, whom she believes is causing her mental distress, but upon discovering that running away really means just being lost, she returns home. And a cycle of three stories featuring the same character at three important junctures in her life is faultless in its clear-cut delineation of the arc of love, loss, and disconnection the woman's family relations have come to represent. Munro is remarkable for the ease and completeness with which she brings the world of a character into the frame, and her characteristic and greatly effective looping through time--not just connecting present and past but also indicating the future--is haunting. All this in a lovely, precise style. ((Reviewed September 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall - Mantel, Hilary

Summary: Assuming the power recently lost by the disgraced Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell counsels a mercurial Henry VIII on the latter's efforts to marry Anne Boleyn against the wishes of Rome, a successful endeavor that comes with a dangerous price.



Library Journal Reviews
As Henry VIII's go-to man for his dirty work, Thomas Cromwell (1485–1540) isn't a likely candidate for a sympathetic portrait. He dirtied his hands too often. In the end, Henry dropped him just as he had Cromwell's mentor, Cardinal Wolsey, who counseled the king before him. But as Mantel (Beyond Black) reminds us, Cromwell was a man of many parts, admirable in many respects though disturbing in others. Above all, he got things done and was deeply loyal to his masters, first Wolsey and then the king. Nor was Henry always bloated and egomaniacal: well into his forties, when in good spirits, the king shone brighter than all those around him. VERDICT Longlisted for the Booker Prize, this is in all respects a superior work of fiction, peopled with appealing characters living through a period of tense high drama: Henry's abandonment of wife and church to marry Anne Boleyn. It should appeal to many readers, not just history buffs. And Mantel achieves this feat without violating the historical record! There will be few novels this year as good as this one. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/09; history buffs may also enjoy reading Robert Hutchinson's biography, Thomas Cromwell: The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII's Most Notorious Minister, reviewed on p. 66.—Ed.]—David Keymer, Modesto, CA

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A Surrey state of affairs - Ceri Radford

A Surrey state of affairs - Radford, Ceri

Summary: "Constance Harding's comfortable corner of Surrey is her own little piece of heaven. She lives in a chocolate box house complete with an Aga and a parrot, her bell-ringing club is set to dominate the intercounty tournament, and she is sure she can get her son, Rupert, to settle down if she just writes the perfect personal ad for him. Naturally, things turn disastrous rather quickly. And she's about to learn that her perfect home conceals a scandal that would make the vicar blush. Her Lithuanian housekeeper's undergarments keep appearing in her husband's study and her daughter is turning into a Lycra-clad gap-year strumpet. As her family falls apart, Constance embarks on an extraordinary journey. From partying in Ibiza to riding bareback with a handsome Argentinean gaucho whose only English words are "Britney" and "Spears," Constance is about to discover a wider world she thought it was too late to find. Hilarious, inventive, and ultimately heartwarming, A Surrey State of Affairs will appeal to fans of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and the novels of Alexander McCall Smith. "-- Provided by publisher.


Booklist Reviews
Radford scores a bull's-eye with this hilarious, spot-on debut. Constance Harding finds herself increasingly bemused and bewildered by her distant husband, slovenly housekeeper, two stubbornly independent grown children, and engagingly eccentric church-bell-ringing group. What's a proper, middle-aged, upper-middle-class British matron to do? Blog, of course—and blog, she does, in a series of earnestly witty posts detailing all the comings and goings of her comfortable little corner of Surrey, England. Although the messy handwriting on the wall is visible to everyone else long before the ever-optimistic Constance sees it, you can't help cheering for this determinedly chipper heroine as she grapples magnificently with the series of unexpected curves life throws her way. No one has a stiffer upper lip, and no one can ring away all her troubles with a particularly tricky Reverse St. Sylvester the way Constance can. Excellent Brit chick lit for the more—shall we say—well-seasoned crowd. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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The big book of juices - Natalie Savona

The big book of juices: more than 400 natural blends for health and vitality every day - Savona, Natalie

Summary: With some 405 recipes for fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, and quenchers, this updated and expanded edition of Natalie Savona's best-selling guide to juicing now offers health-conscious readers even more. A clever indexing system sorts the juices by key ingredients, by nutrients, and by health benefits. Plus, a simple five-star system rates the effectiveness of the drinks in boosting energy and detoxifying the body, as well as potential benefits for the immune system, digestion, and even skin quality.
- (Sterling)

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Feynman - Jim Ottaviani

Feynman - Ottaviani, Jim

Summary: "In this substantial graphic novel biography, First Second presents the larger-than-life exploits of Nobel-winning quantum physicist, adventurer, musician, world-class raconteur, and one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century: Richard Feynman. Written by nonfiction comics mainstay Jim Ottaviani and brilliantly illustrated by First Second author Leland Myrick, Feynman tells the story of the great man's life from his childhood in Long Island to his work on the Manhattan Project and the Challenger disaster. Ottaviani tackles the bad with the good, leaving the reader delighted by Feynman's exuberant life and staggered at the loss humanity suffered with his death"-- from publisher's web site.

Choice Reviews
This biography in graphic novel form draws on widely available primary materials, principally the popular scientific writings and anecdotal memoirs of Richard Feynman, one of the 1965 Nobel laureates in physics and one of the most famous scientists of the 20th century. Ottaviani has written several other histories of science in graphic novel form, including Suspended in Language: Niels Bohr's Life, Discoveries, and the Century He Shaped (CH, Dec'04, 42-2193). This is Ottaviani's first collaboration with illustrator Myrick. Ottaviani and Myrick utilize the freedom provided by the graphic novel format to describe Feynman's physics using pictures, as Feynman preferred when communicating complex ideas in quantum electrodynamics. In addition to Feynman's personal life story, Ottaviani includes some of Feynman's own narrative on the development of physical ideas. The high-quality color graphics and tight writing make for enjoyable reading. A full bibliography with primary and secondary resources appears at the end of the book. While not a work of academic scholarship, this biography provides an accessible introduction to Feynman for general audiences, and particularly teens and young adults. Summing Up: Recommended. General readers and secondary school students. General Readers. S. A. Curtis University of Missouri--Kansas City Copyright 2012 American Library Association.

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American sniper - Chris Kyle


American sniper: the autobiography of the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history - Kyle, Chris

Summary: The astonishing autobiography of SEAL Chief Chris Kyle, whose record 150 confirmed kills make him the most deadly sniper in U.S. military history.


Booklist Reviews
If you're wondering why it takes multiple cowriters for Navy SEALs sniper Kyle to tell his story, consider this: Jim DeFelice, coauthor number two, is the author of numerous military thrillers. He clearly appears to have been brought on board to give Kyle's story the requisite oomph. And it worked. The book reads like a a first-person thriller narrated by a sniper. The bare-bones facts are stunning. Kyle has the most confirmed kills of any U.S. military sniper (more than 150), two Silver Stars, and at least one confirmed bounty on his head. The book follows his career from 1999 to 2009, and, like Anthony Swofford's Jarhead (2003), it portrays a sniper's life as a mixture of terror and mind-numbing boredom. The book never glorifies what Kyle did for a living, but it's not an apologia, either. Kyle doesn't spend a lot of time justifying his chosen profession, preferring instead to give readers a sense of what it is like to be a sniper, which lets us speculate as to whether we would have what it takes, if the situation called for it. A first-rate military memoir. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.


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Heft - Liz Moore

Heft - Moore, Liz

Summary: An obese former academic shut-in and a poor kid dreaming of a successful baseball career are linked together by a former student who transforms their lives in this novel from the author of The Words of Every Song. 20,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)


Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Moore's endearing novel, following The Words of Every Song (2007), looks at the lives of two solitary characters learning to acknowledge and accept their troubled realities of family and providence. Fifty-eight-year-old Arthur Opp, a college professor turned morbidly obese recluse, lives in a dilapidated house in Brooklyn, where his only human connection is through correspondence with a former student, the vulnerable and lonesome Charlene. When Charlene unexpectedly contacts Arthur with the news that she is the mother of a teenage son, Kel, Arthur is compelled to reflect upon and refocus his life, tenuously striking up a friendship with his young cleaning woman. Meanwhile, Kel is a gifted high-school athlete who depends on his physical prowess to navigate his interpersonal relationships. Kel's dream of becoming a professional athlete is well within reach, yet his ambition is confounded by his mother's alcoholism. When Charlene attempts suicide, Kel is left to forge a life of his own. As the book shifts between the perspectives of Arthur and Kel, Charlene's connection to the two characters reveals surprising junctures along the way. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Canada - Richard Ford


Canada - Richard Ford

Summary: Then fifteen-year-old Dell Parsons' parents rob a bank, his sense of normal life is forever altered. In an instant, this private cataclysm drives his life into before and after, a threshold that can never be uncrossed.


Booklist Reviews
After 15-year-old Dell Parsons' parents rob a bank and are arrested, the trajectory of his life is forever altered. He and his twin sister, Berner, are left to forge their own futures while still reeling from the shock of their parents' desperate act. Berner, burning with resentment, takes off for the West Coast, while a family friend makes arrangements for Dell to hide in Canada. But what Dell discovers in Canada, while in the employ of a mysterious Harvard-educated American with a violent streak, is to take nothing for granted, for "every pillar of the belief the world rests on may or may not be about to explode." Why Dell not only survives his traumatic adolescence but manages to thrive, while Berner, seemingly more worldly, succumbs to drink and a fractured existence is just one of the many questions Ford posits. In subdued, even flat, prose, Ford lays out the central mysteries of Dell's young life, and although the narrative voice here is neither as compelling nor as rich as that found in Ford's great Bascombe trilogy, devoted Ford fans will find that it resonates well beyond the page. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This highly anticipated novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning Ford, his first in six years, will have a 200,000-copy first printing backed by a 15-city author tour. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Ender's game - Orson Scott Card


Ender's game - Card, Orson Scott

Summary: Child-hero Ender Wiggin must fight a desperate battle against a deadly alien race if mankind is to survive.


Kirkus Reviews
A rather one-dimensional but mostly satisfying child-soldier yarn which substantially extends and embellishes one of Card's better short stories (Unaccompanied Sonata and Other Stories, 1980). Following a barely-defeated invasion attempt by the insect-like alien "buggers," a desperate Earth command resorts to genetic experimentation in order to produce a tactical genius capable of defeating the buggers in round two. (A counterinvasion has already been launched, but will take years to reach the buggers' home planet.) So likable but determined "Ender" Wiggins, age six, becomes Earth's last hope--when his equally talented elder siblings Peter (too vicious and vindictive) and Valentine (too gentle and sympathetic) prove unsuitable. And, in a dramatic, brutally convincing series of war games and computer-fantasies, Ender is forced to realize his military genius, to rely on nothing and no-one but himself. . . and to disregard all rules in order to win. There are some minor, distracting side issues here: wrangles among Ender's adult trainers; an irrelevant subplot involving Peter's attempt to take over Earth. And there'll be no suspense for those familiar with the short story. Still, the long passages focusing on Ender are nearly always enthralling--the details are handled with flair and assurance--and this is altogether a much more solid, mature, and persuasive effort than Card's previous full-length appearances. (Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 1984)

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The 500 - Matthew Quirk


The 500 - Quirk, Matthew

Summary: Former con artist and Harvard Law student Mike Ford accepts a position with the DC-based Davies Group, a consulting firm whose specialty is pulling strings for the five hundred most powerful people inside the Beltway.


Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* In his first novel, journalist Quirk takes on the Washington, D.C., power structure in a thundering David-and-Goliath tale of corruption. Mike Ford is struggling to pay his tuition at Harvard law and settle his incarcerated father's debt when he's recruited by Henry Davies, who heads D.C.'s most influential consulting firm. Ford soon learns that the job, despite its six-figure salary, multiple perks, and enticing colleague, Annie Clark, is essentially a con game in which the Davies Group seeks to solidify influence with the 500 people who wield the real power inside the Beltway. And Ford, who learned cons, grifts, and more from his father, brings a special skill set to the game. Assigned to work on a job to amend a foreign-relations law to benefit a Serbian war criminal, he finagles a recording that indicates the lengths to which Davies will go to achieve its ends, thus embarking on a deadly cat-and-mouse game with his boss, trained killer William Marcus, and Davies himself. It leads, inevitably, to a final moral dilemma. Expect this propulsive page-turner, with high-stakes action that doesn't stop, to be one of the season's most talked-about debut thrillers. A sequel is in the offing and will be much anticipated. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With movie rights sold just days after the book itself, the publisher will be orchestrating a blockbuster launch. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Miss Spitfire - Sarah Miller


Miss Spitfire: reaching Helen Keller - Miller, Sarah

Summary: At age twenty-one, partially-blind, lonely but spirited Annie Sullivan travels from Massachusetts to Alabama to try and teach six-year-old Helen Keller, deaf and blind since age two, self-discipline and communication skills. Includes historical notes and timeline.

Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Miller's accomplished debut imagines Annie Sullivan's first experiences with her famous pupil, Helen Keller, from the young teacher's train ride to Alabama, during which she anticipated teaching a charge who had "no words, only sensations," to the breakthrough at the water pump, where she taught Helen to use language. Miller based her story on Sullivan's letters, excerpts of which begin each chapter, and in Sullivan's voice, Miller muses about the monumental questions and challenges that she faced: "It's up to me to show Helen that communication between people exists at all." Many lengthy passages detailing the wild, messy intimacy and the violent physical altercations between Sullivan and young Helen may tire some readers, but they amplify the visceral sense of Sullivan's exhausting struggle. In language that often reads like poetry, Miller creates a strong portrait of Sullivan's accomplishments, as well as her character—volatile, ferociously intelligent, and yearning for love and belonging, just like Helen. "Words bridge the gaps between two minds. Words are a miracle," Sullivan says. Miller's words reach beyond the historical facts here, encouraging readers to think about the small miracles of connection they can accomplish with words every day. Photos, a chronology, and an extensive bibliography conclude this stirring, fictionalized account.

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Salmon fishing in Yemen - Paul Torday


Salmon fishing in Yemen - Torday, Paul

Summary: A middle-aged scientist working at London's National Centre for Fisheries Excellence, Dr. Alfred Jones takes on the outlandish--and ill-fated--task of introducing the sport of salmon fishing into the Yemen River at the behest of a mysterious sheikh.


Booklist Reviews
/*Starred Review*/ Almost exclusively through correspondence--memos, e-mails, diary excerpts, and the text of a government investigation--Torday has woven a charming novel about a bizarre plan to introduce salmon fishing into Yemen and bring the benefits of the sport to Yemenis. When first approached, Alfred Jones, a scientist at London's National Centre for Fisheries Excellence, dismisses the idea as ridiculous, but it catches the attention of the prime minister's spinmeister, and Alfred is compelled to consult with the author (and bankroller) of the plan, a fabulously wealthy Yemeni sheik. Dutifully, Smith begins to study the idea while realizing that his 20-year marriage to a shrewish, driven banker is devoid of love. And, while being tossed about by political agendas, he begins to believe that the impossible may be possible. That may sound trite, but Torday carries it off with a wacky plot, vivid characters, and a knowing sense of politics and bureaucracy. A remarkably assured first novel, this one is a pure delight. ((Reviewed March 1, 2007)) Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

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Paris in love - Eloisa James


Paris in love: a memoir - Eloisa James

Summary: Chronicles the year that the author and her family lived in Paris, describing her walking tours of the city, her school-age children's attempts to navigate foreign language schools, and her thoughts on the pleasures and eccentricities of French living.


Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* December 2007 was a terrible time for best-selling romance author James (When Beauty Tames the Beast, 2011). Not only did her mother die from cancer, but James found out that she also had the dreaded disease. Her brush with cancer turned out to be treatable, but the struggle had taken its toll, so James felt that a change was in order. Taking a sabbatical from Fordham University, where she is better known as Shakespearean scholar and professor Mary Bly, daughter of fiction writer Carol Bly and poet Robert Bly, with degrees from Harvard, Yale, and Oxford, she and her husband sold their New Jersey home and with their two children set off for a year in Paris. James planned to work industriously on various literary projects but quickly found that the only writing she was doing was on Facebook and Twitter. Her online musings on food, fashion, and family became the basis for this chronicle of an unforgettable year in Paris, where, without the constant claims of academic life and the rigorous demands of the publishing treadmill, James rediscovered the simple pleasures of life. Her chic, charming, and completely captivating memoir of a healing year in the City of Light is bound to inspire readers to dream of setting off on their own escapes. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Arguably - Christopher Hitchens

Arguably: essays - Hitchens, Christopher

Summary: Essayist Christopher Hitchens ruminates on why Charles Dickens was among the best of writers and the worst of men, the haunting science fiction of J.G. Ballard, the enduring legacies of Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell, the persistent agonies of anti-Semitism and jihad, the enduring relevance of Karl Marx, and how politics justifies itself by culture--and how the latter prompts the former.

Library Journal Reviews
The more than 100 previously published commentaries and book reviews—1999 to the present—by this notable columnist, critic, and best-selling author (God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything) are serious, humorous, and, above all, thought-provoking. Topics range from the political situation in Afghanistan, Iran, and Tunisia to literary criticism of the works of John Updike, J.K. Rowling, and Stieg Larsson. The essay "Why Women Aren't Funny" contemplates why some women, who have the whole world of men at their feet, put childbirth higher and wit and intelligence lower on their scale of womanhood's enduring qualities. This leads to an essay on diaper-changing stations in men's restrooms. Recommended for shrewd readers and writers who enjoy keeping up with today's lively intellectual arguments, to which Hitchens has contributed so much. [See Prepub Alert, 3/14/11.]—Joyce Sparrow, Kenneth City, FL

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Agent Garbo - Stephan Talty


Agent Garbo: how a brilliant, eccentric spy tricked Hitler and saved D-Day - Talty, Stephan

Summary: Describes the life of Juan Pujol, a poultry farmer who opposed the Nazis and concocted a series of staggering lies that lead to his becoming one of Germany's most valued spies, while actually acting as a double-agent for the Allies. - (Baker & Taylor)


Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Most readers probably haven't heard of Juan Pujol, the Spanish hotel manager who, in January 1941, waltzed into the British Embassy in Madrid and announced that he wanted to help the Allied war effort. Nobody knew quite what to do with him, and, to be fair, he really didn't know exactly what he wanted to do—although espionage seemed a viable course of action, despite his utter lack of training or experience. Turned down by the British, Pujol came up with a stunningly audacious plan: he would approach the Germans, offer his services as a spy, gather intelligence, and then go back to the British, operating as a double agent. And here's the thing: it worked. Pujol became one of the most important and successful British double agents, manipulating the Germans to believe the most spectacular lies—such as the one that said the D-Day invasion would be at Calais, not Normandy. This is a wonderful book for WWII buffs, a true-life spy thriller with about as much intrigue and excitement as you'd find in a le CarrĂ© novel. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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The walking dead - Robert Kirkman


The walking dead - Kirkman, Robert

Summary: "An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled-- no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally start living"--P. [4] of cover.

Read Review from "No Flying, No Tights"

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Freedom's forge - Arthur Herman

Freedom's forge: how American business built the arsenal of democracy that won World War II - Herman, Arthur

Summary: Assesses the pivotal role of American big business in building weapons and enabling industrial dominance for Allied forces in World War II, tracing the contributions of Danish immigrant William Knudsen and shipbuilding industrialist Henry Kaiser. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
A narrative of America's industrial mobilization for WWII, Herman's history heroizes two business executives at the center of affairs, Henry Kaiser, builder of the Liberty ships, and William Knudsen, president of General Motors. While Kaiser's hyperkinetic flamboyance lingers in the recognition his name still provokes in WWII readers, the more effacing Knudsen, Herman makes clear, was the critical character. An expert in organizing assembly lines, Knudsen was tapped by FDR in 1940 to convert consumer into military production, which he initiated through private enterprises. New Dealers who wanted the government, not big business, to direct mobilization nominally won in early 1942 by ousting Knudsen and establishing the War Production Board. But Knudsen's profit-motive template had momentum and prevailed, as Herman dramatizes in the manufacturing setups for such weapons as the B-24 and B-29 bombers, Sherman tanks, and aircraft carriers. What with the millions of workers needed to build them, Rosie the Riveter included, swarming factory floor and shipyard, Herman's story will resonate with readers whose parents and grandparents won the war with a welding torch. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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A lady cyclist's guide to Kashgar - Suzanne Joinson

A lady cyclist's guide to Kashgar - Joinson

Summary: In 1923, Eva English and her devout sister Lizzie embark on a journey to be missionaries in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, while in modern-day London, a young woman's act of kindness to a Yemeni refugee results in an unexpected journey.



Booklist Reviews
Joinson's debut opens with a dramatic birth whose repercussions are felt for decades. The novel begins in 1923, with the story of two missionary sisters, Eva and Lizzie English. The pair and their leader, Millicent, are traveling to the Chinese city of Kashgar, where they will serve as missionaries and where Eva hopes to secretly write a cycling guide. Their journey is irrevocably altered when Millicent assists a young girl giving birth. When Eva, Lizzie, and Millicent are suddenly detained after the mother's death, their future remains uncertain. Shifting to modern-day London, Joinson picks up the story of Middle Eastern scholar Frieda, who returns home after months of travel to discover that an apartment has been left to her by a woman she has never met. Alternating between Frieda's and Eva's voices, Joinson slowly reveals what connects Frieda to the fateful desert birth decades before. This complex and involving historical novel examines the idea of home, the consequences of exile, the connection between mother and daughter, and the power dynamics of sexual relationships. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Wild - Cheryl Strayed

Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail - Cheryl Strayed

Summary: A powerful, blazingly honest, inspiring memoir: the story of a 1,100 mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe--and built her back up again.




Kirkus Reviews
Unsentimental memoir of the author's three-month solo hike from California to Washington along the Pacific Crest Trail. Following the death of her mother, Strayed's (Torch, 2006) life quickly disintegrated. Family ties melted away; she divorced her husband and slipped into drug use. For the next four years life was a series of disappointments. "I was crying over all of it," she writes, "over the sick mire I'd made of my life since my mother died; over the stupid existence that had become my own. I was not meant to be this way, to live this way, to fail so darkly." While waiting in line at an outdoors store, Strayed read the back cover of a book about the Pacific Crest Trail. Initially, the idea of hiking the trail became a vague apparition, then a goal. Woefully underprepared for the wilderness, out of shape and carrying a ridiculously overweight pack, the author set out from the small California town of Mojave, toward a bridge ("the Bridge of the Gods") crossing the Columbia River at the Oregon-Washington border. Strayed's writing admirably conveys the rigors and rewards of long-distance hiking. Along the way she suffered aches, pains, loneliness, blistered, bloody feet and persistent hunger. Yet the author also discovered a new found sense of awe; for her, hiking the PCT was "powerful and fundamental" and "truly hard and glorious." Strayed was stunned by how the trail both shattered and sheltered her. Most of the hikers she met along the way were helpful, and she also encountered instances of trail magic, "the unexpected and sweet happenings that stand out in stark relief to the challenges of the trail." A candid, inspiring narrative of the author's brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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The astonishing life of Octavian Nothing: The pox party - M.T. Anderson

The astonishing life of Octavian Nothing, traitor to the nation, Volume 1: The pox party - Anderson, M.T.

Summary: Various diaries, letters, and other manuscripts chronicle the experiences of Octavian, a young African American, from birth to age sixteen, as he is brought up as part of a science experiment in the years leading up to and during the Revolutionary War.

Kirkus Reviews
A historical novel of prodigious scope, power and insight, set against the backdrop of the Revolutionary War. Readers are seduced by a gothic introduction to the child Octavian, whose bizarre situation is both lavish and eerie. Octavian is domiciled with a gentleman scholar at the "College of Lucidity." A sentient being, he is a living experiment, from his classical education to the notated measurement of his bodily intake and output; as such, the study will degenerate from earnest scholarly investigation to calculated sociopolitical propaganda. Upon learning that he's a slave, Octavian resolves to prove his excellence. But events force the destitute College to depend on a new benefactor who demands research that proves the inferiority of the black race. Like many Africans, Octavian runs away, joining the Revolutionary army, which fights for "liberty," while ironically never assuring slaves freedom. Written in a richly faithful 18th-century style, the revelations of Octavian's increasingly degraded circumstances slowly, horrifyingly unfold to the reader as they do to Octavian. The cover's gruesomely masked Octavian epitomizes a nation choking on its own hypocrisy. This is the Revolutionary War seen at its intersection with slavery through a disturbingly original lens. (Historical fiction. YA-adult) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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