Sep 1, 2013

Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish Perish - David Rakoff

Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish Perish - Rakoff, David

Summary: The characters' lives are linked to each other by acts of generosity or cruelty. A daughter in early 20th century Chicago; a hobo during the Great Depression; an office girl in 1950s Manhattan; the young man reveling in 1960s San Francisco, then later tends to dying friends as the AIDS pandemic hits; as the new century opens, a man who has lost his way finds a measure of peace in a photograph he discovers in an old box-an image of pure and simple joy that unites the themes of this work.

Booklist Reviews
Rakoff, the best-selling author of Half Empty (2010), brings his thoughtful and tender perspective on life to this wonderfully funny yet heartbreakingly sad novel-in-verse. Throughout this rhyming novel, he crosses decades, telling the great American story through memorable characters loosely linked by acts of kindness or callousness. For example, a young runaway unfairly banished from her home finds unlikely comfort with a vagabond. Each chapter serves up a slice of life's victories, discoveries, cruelties, and casualties, such as when a young man discovers sexual freedom in 1960s San Francisco only to later tend to friends ravaged by AIDS. This novel begs to be read aloud in the mode of Rakoff's frequent and popular radio appearances on NPR's This American Life. Although, sadly, we won't be hearing new works from Rakoff, who died in August 2012, fans of the award-winning author will embrace with particular appreciation this final lesson on how to accept life's blessings and blows. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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Necromancing the stone - Lish McBride

Necromancing the stone - McBride, Lish

Summary: Six weeks after escaping from the necromancer Douglas, Sam LaCroix is under the protection of the Blackthorn pack of werewolves and fey hounds and unsure if his necromancer rival is dead.

Kirkus Review
A slacker wrangles zombies, werewolves, gnomes and gods in this amiable second entry in a humor-horror mashup series (Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, 2010). Life is looking up for Samhain LaCroix, college dropout, oldies aficionado and former fry-cook. After accidentally killing the evil necromancer Douglas, Sam has inherited his powers, fortune, minions and seat on the Seattle Council of magical beings. On the downside, Sam's new servants hate him, one of his best friends is now a ghost and another a were-bear, his girlfriend's father has just been murdered, and her werewolf pack blames him…and, oh yeah, apparently Douglas isn't completely dead after all. Fans will be happy to revisit the likable characters and learn more about paranormal politics, but those expecting the first book's manic action, grisly violence and sexy romance will be disappointed by the leisurely pace and wistful, almost melancholic tone. Indeed, the plot consists almost entirely of endless and repetitive meetings, leading up to a climactic confab with his erstwhile enemy. While the story stops dead when a few chapters slip into the viewpoints of secondary characters, only important for setting up the (just barely plausible) denouement, Sam's marvelously witty, self-deprecating narration carries readers along effortlessly to the very end. With most loose plot threads neatly tied off, there is still room for further adventures with Sam and his merry band. After all, they've got rhythm, they've got music, they've got the legions of the undead--who could ask for anything more? (Urban fantasy. 14 & up)(Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2012)

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Goodbye Columbus - Philip Roth

Goodbye Columbus - Roth, Philip

Summary: "'Goodbye, Columbus' is the story of Neil Klugman and pretty, spirited Brenda Patimkin, he of poor Newark, she of suburban Short Hills, who meet one summer break and dive into an affair that is as much about social class and suspicion as it is about love. The novella is accompanied by five short stories that range in tone from the iconoclastic to the astonishingly tender and that illuminate the subterranean conflicts between parents and children and friends and neighbors in the American Jewish diaspora."

Library Journal
This release by the 1960 National Book Award winner will acquaint listeners with the world of American Jews in the 1950s and to Roths wit and insight into the problems accompanying assimilation. A widely respected American writer, Roth is the author of 22 books, including American Pastoral (Audio Reviews, LJ 10/1/97) and I Married a Communist (Houghton, 1998). Goodbye, Columbus features Neil Klugman, a young man from Newark living with his aunt, and Brenda Patimkin, an archetypal Jewish American Princess, whose summer romance illustrates the tension between old world values and the new suburb-based culture. Provocative and entertaining, the other stories tell of likable characters, mostly men, who embrace their Jewishness yet must face conflicts in family and community. Although written nearly 40 years ago, these stories illustrate truths about America and its relationship with Jews that remain relevant today. The readers, who include actors Theodore Bikel and Elliott Gould, are all excellent, capturing the particular characteristics of Jewish American speech. Highly recommended for all libraries.Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo

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What it's like to go to war - Karl Marlantes

What it's like to go to war - Marlantes, Karl

Summary: War is as old as humankind, but in the past, warriors were prepared for battle by ritual, religion and literature, which also helped bring them home. In this narrative, the author weaves accounts of his combat experiences with thoughtful analysis, self-examination, and his readings from Homer to the Mahabharata to Jung. He talks frankly about how he is haunted by the face of the young North Vietnamese soldier he killed at close quarters and how he finally finds a way to make peace with his past. He discusses the daily contradictions that warriors face in the grind of war, where each battle requires them to take life or spare life, and where they enter a state he likens to the fervor of religious ecstasy. He also underscores the need for returning veterans to be counseled properly.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* A Rhodes scholar who served as a marine lieutenant in Vietnam (he left Oxford to return to active duty), Marlantes seems to exemplify what we want in our military officers. Thoughtful and articulate, he is a student of history and philosophy; he recognizes the need for armies but believes nations should undertake more soul-searching before going to war. Above all, he feels that we need to do a better job preparing soldiers (he prefers the au courant "warriors") for war and also helping them heal, physically and mentally, from war. He interleaves harrowing scenes from his own experiences in combat with the lessons he learned and his hopes for their broader application. While his often Jungian perspective may strike some readers as idiosyncratic or hard to implement, his empathy is apparent, his emotions are affecting, and his goals are admirable. Both a training manual for would-be warriors and a caution to the politicians who would deploy them, this is also essential reading for civilians who seek to better understand the complicated costs of military action. By turns horrifying and soothing, visceral and deeply profound, it's a book you'll never forget—whether you agree with it or not. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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The world according to Garp - John Irving

The world according to Garp - Irving, John

Summary: The World According to Garp is a comic and compassionate coming-of-age novel that established John Irving as one of the most imaginative writers of his generation. A worldwide bestseller since its publication in 1978, Irving's classic is filled with stories inside stories about the life and times of T. S. Garp, novelist and bastard son of Jenny Fields--a feminist leader ahead of her time. Beyond that, The World According to Garp virtually defies synopsis.

Kirkus Review
/* Starred Review */ Book-club spotlighting is bound to introduce Irving's particular brio to its largest audience yet; his newest book is characteristically broad and eager, Heir to a shoe-manufacturing fortune and a Wellesley dropout, Jenny Fields becomes a nurse, which isn't quite the thing for a girl of her station. Girls of her station also have some use for men, while Jenny uses one man for one purpose only and only once: she calculatedly gets herself impregnated by an accidentally lobotomized war-veteran patient, Technical Sergeant Garp. Moreover, Jenny defies convention by writing and publishing, late in life, a memoir (entitled "A Sexual Suspect") that quickly becomes a feminist bible. Her son, T. S. Garp (named for his father), grows up meanwhile with writerly instincts of Ids own; Jenny whisks him off to Austria for an education richer in life than college would afford, and Irving shuffles Jenny offstage in order to concentrate on young Garp: his marriage to bookish Helen, his two young sons, Helen's half-hearted affair with a graduate student, and then a grotesque accident involving the entire family that maims one son, kills the other, and (by plot-tinkering) literally dismembers the cuckolding grad student. Also offered are samples of Garp's manuscripts during this time, presumably objective correlatives to Garp's life at the time, but more like a handy hole for loose and incompatible prose efforts the book would not otherwise graciously host. Jenny comes back near book's end, getting herself assassinated at a feminist political rally, but it's Garp's (and Irving's) version of the world that's in control by then. That version is richly anecdotal--almost a brocade of digression--and mostly involved with the same basically inert topics that Irving's earlier books were made of: Vienna, wrestling, wife-swapping, boy's schools, novelists. Despite the withit trappings (feminism, etc.), Irving's wild stylistic scrabble up and down the keys resolves itself into a few leaden theme chords that his veteran readers will wish that he'd broken free of by now. But this hint of staleness will be all but totally disguised to first-time readers: Irving's style and zest remain superb, and his fondness for children--his anxiety over them and their welfare--is as rare and fine and affecting and pure as Heller's or Cheever's. (Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1978)

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And the mountains echoed - Khaled Hosseini

And the mountains echoed - Hosseini, Khaled

Summary: Presents a story inspired by human love, how people take care of one another, and how choices resonate through subsequent generations. Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and step-mother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Adbullah, Pari, as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named, is everything.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Saboor, a laborer, pulls his young daughter, Pari, and his son, Abdullah, across the desert in a red wagon, leaving their poor village of Shadbagh for Kabul, where his brother-in-law, Nabi, a chauffeur, will introduce them to a wealthy man and his beautiful, despairing poet wife. So begins the third captivating and affecting novel by the internationally best-selling author of The Kite Runner (2003) and A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007). An immense, ancient oak stands in Shadbagh, emblematic of the complexly branching stories in Hosseini's vital, profound, and spellbinding saga of family bonds and unlikely pairings forged by chance, choice, and necessity. We meet twin sisters, one beautiful, one plain; one an invalid, the other a caretaker. Two male cousins, one a charismatic wheeler-dealer; the other a cautious, introverted doctor. A disfigured girl of great valor and a boy destined to become a plastic surgeon. Kabul falls and struggles to rise. Shadbagh comes under the rule of a drug lord, and the novel's many limbs reach to Paris, San Francisco, and a Greek island. A masterful and compassionate storyteller, Hosseini traces the traumas and scarring of tyranny, war, crime, lies, and illness in the intricately interconnected, heartbreaking, and extraordinary lives of his vibrantly realized characters to create a grand and encompassing tree of life. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The immense popularity of Hosseini's previous books ensures a high-profile promotional campaign and mounting word-of-mouth excitement in anticipation of the release of his first new novel in six years. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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The mighty LaLouche - Matthew Olshan

The mighty LaLouche - Olshan, Matthew

Summary: In Paris, France, more than a hundred years ago, a small man named Lalouche is let go from his job as a mail carrier and discovers that he has great skill as a fighter.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* In Paris, at the turn of the last century, lived a postman named Lalouche. Skinny—but nimble—bony—but with strong arms—he resides with his finch, Geneviève. One day Lalouche turns up at the post office only to learn that an electric auto will replace him on his route. Mon dieu! Who will pay for his rented room? How will he feed Geneviève? When a poster for a boxing club catches his attention, Lalouche has an idea. He shall become a boxer! The club manager is dubious, but what Lalouche lacks in strength, he makes up for in his ability to twist, turn, leap, and squirm. Soon he has beaten the burly stars of the ring: the Anaconda, the Grecque. But when the electric cars prove a bust, he is thrilled to return to his job as postman. The text is more action-packed idea than story, but it neatly serves its purpose as a vehicle for Blackall's amazing artwork. The illustrations, made with Chinese ink and watercolors, are cutouts arranged in layers and then photographed. This gives the spreads a 3-D look, with the effect being more of looking at a diorama than a page in a book. Wonderful details abound, from the expressions on the boxers' faces to the finch flying around the ring. The final scene of Lalouche on the balcony of his new Paris apartment is a delight artistically and emotionally. But we're not quite done: the endpapers feature posters of France's most powerful pugilists in all their punchy glory. Très bien! Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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The giant jam sandwich - John Vernon Lord

The giant jam sandwich - Lord, John Vernon

Summary: When four million wasps fly into their village, the citizens of Itching Down devise a way of getting rid of them.

Kirkus Review
"Children should have fun spotting the cockeyed absurdities purveyed here in pictures and verse."

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The adventures of Jodelle - Guy Peelaert

The adventures of Jodelle - Peelaert, Guy

Ensconced in the avant-garde of the extraordinary social and cultural upheavals that were drawing 1960s Europe into the building wave of postmodernism, a Belgian advertising dropout, fed up with the corporate world, conceived the first “adult comic book” virtually off the top of his head.

By creating The Adventures of Jodelle, a deluxe comics album that wore its revolutionary Pop sensibility on its sleeve, Guy Peellaert obliterated the conventions of what had up to that point been a minor, childish medium. Ironically appropriating the face and body of the teen idol Sylvie Vartan, he fashioned a new kind of heroine, a sensual, parodically beautiful spy. For his setting he chose a defiantly anachronistic Roman Empire, into which irrupted the most flamboyant symbols of a conquering America, the originator of all fantasies.

Every page of this fascinating saga features a flood of topical references and in-jokes, operating playfully on the border that separated so-called “high” and “low” cultures. Peellaert drew from the most exciting stimuli of his time, subjecting them to his powerful formal innovations: Pop Art, extreme fashions, strident advertising, shock graphics, and cinematic techniques all collided in virtuoso compositions of extreme sophistication, whose inspirations ranged from classical paintings to Gottlieb pinball machines.

Published to thunderous acclaim in France in 1966 and then throughout Europe and in the U.S., Jodelle was an instant classic, whose influence would spread far beyond the confines of comics. It also triggered Guy Peellaert’s “Pop Period,” a creative whirlwind marked by his 1967 creation of Pravda, an unforgettable character that has since been acknowledged as a major component of the European Pop movement.

Completely remastered and featuring a new translation, this long-awaited reprinting of The Adventures of Jodelle is accompanied by an 80-page, lushly-illustrated textual supplement created in partnership with the artist’s estate which traces the creative path travelled by this maverick artist, who multiplied his chosen means of expression, skipping from comics to cinema and moving through fashion, periodicals, and television, including collaborations with many of the great figures of mythical 1960s-era Paris, from Serge Gainsbourg to Yves Saint Laurent.

- (WW Norton)

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Diana Vreeland Bazaar years: including 100 audacious Why don't yous...? - John Esten

Diana Vreeland Bazaar years: including 100 audacious Why don't yous...? - Esten, John


"Why Don't You . . .

tie black tulle bows on your wrists?
have a yellow satin bed entirely quilted in butterflies?
remember how delicious champagne cocktails are after tennis or golf? Indifferent champagne can be used for these."

For more than half a century, Diana Vreeland, doyenne of American fashion, beguiled, awed, astonished, and was adored by almost anyone who created or wore clothes.

Irresistible and flamboyant, socialite Mrs. T. Reed Vreeland began her now legendary twenty-five-year tenure at Harper's Bazaar writing a column of audacious advice: extravagant ideas that helped redefine American women and twentieth-century fashion. Her commentary created a fashion frenzy when it began appearing in Harper's Bazaar in 1936. Her ideas were simultaneously stylish and outrageous, and have as much appeal today as they did decades ago.

Here for the first time, John Esten has compiled one hundred of Mrs. Vreeland's kaleidoscopic "Why Don't You . . . ?" suggestions, and paired them with the breathtaking works of such renowned photographers and artists as Munkacsi, Dahl-Wolfe, Hoyningen-Heune, and Bérard, which further capture the dazzling legacy of whimsy, elegance, and style of Mrs. Vreeland's Bazaar years.
- (Holtzbrinck)

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The language of flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The language of flowers - Diffenbaugh, Vanessa

Summary:"The story of a woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own past"-- Provided by publisher.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Abandoned as an infant, Victoria grew up as a ward of the California foster-care system and, abused and neglected, turned into an angry, uncontrollable child. Deemed "unadoptable," she gets one final chance at a home life when she is placed with Elizabeth, a single woman running her family's vineyard in the verdant hills outside San Francisco. Days before Victoria is scheduled to be officially adopted by Elizabeth, a terrible misunderstanding violently tears them apart, and she is sent back into the system. Though the emotional damage seems insurmountable, Victoria's time on the farm taught her that there were other ways of getting her message across. Finally forced to support herself, Victoria lands a job with a florist and uses her knowledge of the hidden meaning of flowers to gradually and fitfully make her way back into the world—one that will include a career, motherhood, and the personal forgiveness necessary for her to love and be loved in return. Enchanting, ennobling, and powerfully engaging, Diffenbaugh's artfully accomplished debut novel lends poignant testimony to the multitude of mysteries held in the human heart. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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The things they carried - Tim O'Brien

The things they carried - Tim O'Brien

Summary: An anniversary edition of a collection of interconnected fictional stories follows the members of an American platoon fighting in the Vietnam War, in a book that mirrors the author's own wartime experiences. This finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award has been banned for profanity and other strong language. - (Baker & Taylor)

BookList Review
"In the end. . .a true war story is never about war. It's about sunlight. It's about the special way that dawn spreads out on a river when you know you must cross the river and march into the mountains and do things you are afraid to. It's about love and memory. It's about sorrow. It's about sisters who never write back and people who never listen." In Tim O'Brien's world, of course, a war story is all that--and more. The author of the National Book Award-winning Going After Cacciato offers us fiction in a unique form: a kind of "faction" presented as a collection of related stories that have the cumulative effect of a unified novel. The "things they carry"--literally--are prosaic things: amphetamines, M-16s, grenades, good-luck charms, Sterno cans, toilet paper, photographs, C-rations. But the men in O'Brien's platoon--Curt Lemon, Rat Kiley, Henry Dobbins, Kiowa, and the rest--also carry less tangible but more palpable things such as disease, confusion, hatred, love, regret, fear, what passes for courage; in short, the prototypical psychological profile of the youthful Vietnam vet. There are 22 pieces here in all, some of which were previously published in such diverse literary arenas as Playboy, Granta, GQ, and Esquire. The prose ranges from staccato soldierly thoughts to raw depictions of violent death to intense personal ruminations by the author that don't appear to be fictional at all. ("On the Rainy River," O'Brien's account of the time he almost fled to Canada after receiving his draft notice, is particularly moving.) Just when you thought there was nothing left to say about the Vietnam experience. . .there's plenty. ((Reviewed March 15, 1990)) -- Martin Brady

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A little book of sloth - Lucy Cooke

A little book of sloth - Cooke, Lucy

Summary: Hang around just like a sloth and get to know the delightful residents of the Avarios Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica, the world's largest sloth orphanage. You'll fall in love with bad-boy Mateo, ooh and ahh over baby Biscuit, and want to wrap your arms around champion cuddle buddy Ubu!

Booklist Reviews
Kids, you can't possibly imagine the level of cuteness at work in this book. Here's a visual: a baby sloth hugs a teddy bear, and he's smaller than the bear. There are sloths in pjs, sloths gnawing on green beans, and even a pile o' sloths in a bucket. Of course, in addition to the huggable pictures and handsome book design, there's a story here too. Cooke, photographer, zoologist, and founder of the Sloth Appreciation Society, introduces a rehabilitation sanctuary in "a sleepy corner of Costa Rica," home to approximately 150 slow-moving residents. Judy Arroyo is "mom" to each of these creatures, from Buttercup, the first tiny orphan that landed on her doorstep, to Sunshine and Sammy, rescued from poachers. Cooke points out in her lively text that there are two families of sloth: the three-fingered Bradypus and the two-fingered Choloepus ("a cross between a Wookie and a pig"). Fascinating facts about sloths abound. Move over puppies, kittens, and piglets—kids are going to have a new favorite animal when they get their hands on this, especially given the unofficial sloth motto: "Just chill." Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Farm anatomy - Julia Rothman

Farm anatomy: the curious parts & pieces of country life - Rothman, Julia

Summary: "Talk the talk of the country with Julia Rothman's entertaining and informative visual tour of life on the farm. Her drawings, diagrams, step-by-step sequences, and dissections reveal everything from the parts of a milking machine and the anatomy of a pig to how to plow a field and shear a sheep"--P. [4] of cover.

LJ Express Reviews
Talented visual artist Rothman (Drawn In: A Peek into the Inspiring Sketchbooks of 44 Fine Artists, Illustrators, Graphic Designers, and Cartoonists) takes readers through a working Iowa farm's inventory of equipment, livestock, and produce-scattering practical observations and recipes throughout this richly illustrated book. She captures the excitement and longing the growing back-to-basics, back-to-the-farm, and do-it-yourself movements reported in the news often produce. This book continues the spirit of publications like the 1968-72 counterculture publication Whole Earth Catalog, which guided readers toward self-sufficiency. Rothman's sprightly and engaging illustrations are also accurate; all are labeled so that readers can find information about the parts of a hay baler, the process of making homemade cheese and bread, among many other bits of knowledge at their fingertips. Verdict Though substantive information is embedded in the illustrations, the overall tone is entertaining. This book is appropriate for all readers looking for an accessible introduction to farm life.-Sara Rutter, Univ. of Hawaii, Manoa (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Replay - Ken Grimwood

Replay - Grimwood, Ken

Summary: Through a bizarre cycle of dying and coming back to life again and again, Jeff Winston receives six chances to change his life, correct previous mistakes, and find the happiness that has long eluded him - (Baker & Taylor)

Library Journal Reviews
The possibility of traveling back in time to relive one's life has long fascinated science fiction writers. Without a single gesture toward an explanation, this mainstream novel recounts the story of a man and a woman mysteriously given the ability to live their lives over. Each dies in 1988 only to awaken as a teenager in 1963 with adult knowledge and wisdom intact and the ability to make a new set of choices. Different spouses, lovers, children, careers, await them in each go-round of the past 25 years, as well as slightly altered versions of world events. Their deep commitment to one another continues through the centuries of their many lifetimes. This delightful and completely engrossing story will appeal to a wide variety of readers. Literary Guild selection. Marcia R. Hoffman, M.L.S., American Hoechst Corp., Somerville, N.J. Copyright 1987 Cahners Business Information.

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A tree grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith

A tree grows in Brooklyn - Smith, Betty

Summary: Armed with her idealism and determination, young Francie Nolan struggles to escape from the poverty of life in a Brooklyn tenement during the early 1900s. Reprint. - (Baker & Taylor)

Kirkus Review
/* Starred Review */ "A first novel of unusual quality and understanding, written with strong realism and compassion, sometimes bald, always human, this rightfully ranks with the Farrell genre, though, to my thinking, there is better balance and more sympathy. The slums of Brooklyn, and the Irish Catholics, form the setting for the story of Francie Nolan and her family:- Johnny, her father, handsome and shiftless; Katie, her mother, hardening under years of poverty and improvidence; Neeley, Katie's favorite child; Aunt Sissy, a good "bad woman", and chiefly Francie herself, gentle, shy, imaginative. The reader shares her humiliations at school, loss of face and pride her real sorrow when her father drinks himself to death; her ambition for a college education, thwarted when she must go to work at 14; her first love affair and disillusionment. Lusty -- sometimes funny -- consistently moving, this is a book for a discriminating public, not too tender skinned... Betty Smith is more than a "promising young author". A Harper "Find". (Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 1943)

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Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

Rebecca - Du Maurier, Daphne

Summary: The young second wife of a widower comes to realize the evil surrounding Rebecca, his first wife.

Kirkus Review
/* Starred Review */ A brilliant piece of writing, with the atmosphere and suspense and pace that made Jamaica Inn an absorbing and thrilling story -- and it has besides a depth of characterization and soundness of psychological conflict that makes it a finer and more penetrating book. The story is told through the eyes of the unsophisticated and somewhat terrified young second wife of Maxim de Winter, owner of Manderley, a Cornish estate that had won renown under the executive management and fascination of the first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca. Bit by bit, the character of Rebecca is built up in the mind of her successor, and the sinister figure of the housekeeper who had adored her, strengthens the conviction that her ghost haunts the place. Then comes disaster, impending tragedy, and in the face of what seems the end of all things, a new Rebecca emerges -- and a new marriage is brought to life. A haunting sense of impending tragedy keeps one breathless to the end. It is fascinating reading. Should be easy to sell -- easy to rent. (Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 1938)

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Al Capone does my homework - Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone does my homework - Choldenko, Gennifer

Summary: "Moose Flanagan, who lives on Alcatraz along with his family and the families of the other prison guards, faces new challenges when his father is promoted to Associate Warden"-- Provided by publisher.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* In this final installment in Choldenko's Alcatraz series, Moose Flanagan has a mystery to solve. His father has been promoted to associate warden of the infamous island prison, drawing negative attention from cons and guards alike. When their family apartment is burned down, gossip points to Moose's older sister, Natalie, and it falls to Moose to discover the truth. With baseballs, bottle caps, and carrier-cockroaches, he and the other island kids take on gambling debts, missing knives, a murder plot, a counterfeit ring, even pixie secrets—any of which might or might not be related to the fire. Choldenko supports all of this with the strength of her generous narrative, weaving in resonant emotional elements like the complicated family dynamic circling Natalie's autism and Moose's budding romance with Piper. (Or is it Annie?) Especially noteworthy is the author's sensitive ability to humanize heroes and villains alike, grounding the tense action in palpable reality. With rich characterization, tender drama, and sleuthworthy clues, this poignant mystery makes for a thoroughly satisfying conclusion to the landmark historical trilogy. A detailed author's note highlights elements of truth uncovered in her research that made their way into the story. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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Blood & beauty - Sarah Dunant

Blood & beauty: the Borges: a novel - Dunant, Sarah

Summary: "By the end of the fifteenth century, the beauty and creativity of Italy is matched by its brutality and corruption, nowhere more than in Rome and inside the Church. When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia buys his way into the papacy as Alexander VI, he is defined not just by his wealth or his passionate love for his illegitimate children, but by his blood: He is a Spanish Pope in a city run by Italians. If the Borgias are to triumph, this charismatic, consummate politician with a huge appetite for life, women, and power must use papacy and family--in particular, his eldest son, Cesare, and his daughter Lucrezia--in order to succeed. Cesare, with a dazzlingly cold intelligence and an even colder soul, is his greatest--though increasingly unstable--weapon. Later immortalized in Machiavelli's The Prince, he provides the energy and the muscle. Lucrezia, beloved by both men, is the prime dynastic tool. Twelve years old when the novel opens, hers is a journey through three marriages, and from childish innocence to painful experience, from pawn to political player."

Kirkus Reviews
The big, bad Borgia dynasty undergoes modern reconsideration in the best-selling British author's epic new biofiction. Eclipsing her earlier period novels in scope, Dunant's (Sacred Hearts, 2009, etc.) latest is an impressively confident, capable sweep through the corrupt politics and serpentine relationships of a legendary family. Marshaling a mass of material, including contemporary research, Dunant delivers a colorful, sensual and characteristically atmospheric account of Rodrigo Borgia's ascent to the papacy as Alexander VI in 1492 and his subsequent tireless efforts to build a power base through the strategic use of his four children. Cesare is the sly, shrewd son, a match for his father in guile but with a colder heart, who moves ruthlessly from cardinal to soldier as politics and advancement dictate. Beloved daughter Lucrezia makes one strategic marriage after another while nursing a powerful attachment to Cesare. Two more sons play similarly useful roles, forging alliances. The politics are complicated, but Dunant's clear account is balanced by oddly affectionate character portraits informed by her interest in the psychology of these larger-than-life figures. Closing at a bittersweet moment that fuses family fortunes and realpolitik, the author promises a second volume. Dunant's biggest and best work to date, this intelligently readable account of formative events and monster players has Hilary Mantel–era quality best-seller stamped all over it. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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The golem and the jinni - Helene Wecker

The golem and the jinni - Wecker, Helene

Summary: Combines elements of Jewish and Arab folk mythology in the story of two supernatural creatures--Chava, a golem brought to life by a disgraced rabbi, and Ahmad, a jinni made of fire--who form an unlikely friendship on the streets of turn-of-the-century New York. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
First novelist Wecker has blended not only genres but also elements of Jewish and Arab folklore and mythology in this intriguing historical fantasy. What happens when a golem, a Polish woman made of clay, recently marooned in late-nineteenth-century New York, joins forces with jinni, a creature made of fire, accidently released by a Syrian tinsmith in lower Manhattan? The premise is so fresh that it is anyone's guess, and Wecker does not disappoint as she keeps the surprises coming in this unusual story of the intersection of two magical beings and their joint impact on their parochial immigrant communities. While stolid Chava and fiery Ahmed struggle to cope with their individual challenges and desires, they must together overcome philosophical, spiritual, and physical hurdles to ward off an insidious demonic threat. A mystical and highly original stroll through the sidewalks of New York. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Doll bones - Holly Black

Doll bones - Black, Holly

Summary: Zach, Alice, and Poppy, friends from a Pennsylvania middle school who have long enjoyed acting out imaginary adventures with dolls and action figures, embark on a real-life quest to Ohio to bury a doll made from the ashes of a dead girl.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* A trio of adolescents goes on a quest to satisfy the demands of a ghost. Sounds like standard middle-grade fare, but in Black's absolutely assured hands, it is anything but. Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been playing the same make-believe game for years, one involving pirates and mermaids and, of course, the Great Queen—a creepy, bone-china doll at Poppy's house. Then Poppy reveals that she's been haunted by a girl whose ground-up bones lie inside the Great Queen, so the doll must be properly buried. Begrudgingly, the three agree to play one last game and hope against hope for "a real adventure, the kind that changed you." With heart-wrenching swiftness, Black paints a picture of friends at the precipice of adulthood; they can sense the tentative peace of youth that is about to be demolished. The tightly focused, realistic tale—bladed with a hint of fairy-tale darkness—feels cut from the very soul of youth: there is no sentimentality, no cuteness, only the painful, contradictory longing to move forward in one's life without leaving anything behind. Stories about the importance of stories ("Maybe no stories were lies," thinks Zach) don't come much more forthright and affecting than this one. Wheeler's sketches ameliorate some of the tension and dread—not a bad thing. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Black's best-selling Spiderwick Chronicles pave the way for this powerful stand-alone, which comes with an author tour, in-theater promos, and more. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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The edge of the earth - Christina Schwarz

The edge of the earth - Schwarz, Christina

Summary: "In 1898, a woman forsakes the comfort of home and family for a love that takes her to a remote lighthouse on the wild coast of California. What she finds at the edge of the earth, hidden between the sea and the fog, will change her life irrevocably"--Dust jacket flap.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* In turn-of-the-century Milwaukee, the lovely, refined Gertrude Swann has a well-planned future with a well-connected fiancé and a well-stocked trousseau. But when a distant cousin breezes into town, she finds herself married and living on the remote coast of California with a man she realizes she barely knows. Her new husband has taken the post of assistant lighthouse keeper, and their only companions are the family of the chief keeper, including his four children. It's a difficult transition, eating canned food and living in rustic conditions, but Trudy finds that her new life has unexpected rewards. Shedding her corsets along with her leisure, she begins teaching the children and studying the marine life of the coast. The discovery of an Indian woman living nearby tests the values and priorities of all the members of their small community. This novel is a wonderful story and a deep meditation on the meaning of work and knowledge. It's also a compelling imagining of its time and place, making it a good choice for lovers of historical fiction. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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The testing - Joe Charbonneau

The testing - Charbonneau, Joe

Summary: It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await.

Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up-Like almost every 16-year-old in the United Commonwealth, Cia Vale hopes to be called for the Testing, her ticket out of rural Five Lakes Colony and into the University in Tosu City. Cia's father was selected, but only vaguely remembers the experience in nightmares. Her four older brothers were passed over. Just when she has resigned herself to life as a mechanic or farmer, she gets word that she is one of four students selected from Five Lakes and is expected to board the skimmer to Tosu City the next day, most likely never to return. The bulk of the book is taken up with the Testing-devious exercises to identify those with superior leadership skills as society has suffered through Seven Stages of War and desperately needs to repair the damage to living creatures and the environment. The mental and physical trials will weed out 80 percent of the candidates, leaving several maimed or dead. Cia teams up with Tomas for both practical and romantic reasons. She is independent and smart for the most part, and Tomas seems almost too good to be true. There are double-crosses, mutant life-forms, and booby traps to navigate before 20 hearty souls receive word that they have passed. Cia's story is expected to span a trilogy. The influence of The Hunger Games is obvious, and The Testing will satisfy readers who want similar dystopian adventures.-Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TXα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC

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The boy in the song - Michael Heatley

The boy in the song: true stories behind 50 rock classics - Heatley, Michael

Summary: Focuses on the boyfriends, husbands, bandmates, exes, heroes, celebrities, fathers, sons, and even complete strangers who inspired 50 of rock's greatest songs. There are minibiographies of each muse-- some short and sad, others longer and inspirational.

Booklist Reviews
The authors follow up The Girl in the Song (2010) with this obligatory—but also entertaining—sequel. It's pretty well known that Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" was written about his son (who died tragically at the age of four), and that the Jude in the Beatles' "Hey Jude" was Julian Lennon, but the genesis of some other hit songs, while not hidden, hasn't become common knowledge. When Springsteen sang about "Bobby Jean," he was making reference to guitarist Steve Van Zandt, an old friend and E-Street Band colleague; the "you" in Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" was country-music legend Porter Wagoner (although their relationship was professional, not sexual); Boy George wrote "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" about Culture Club's drummer, Jon Moss. The authors also look at some songs whose references aren't clear: Carly Simon's "You're So Vain," for example, is commonly thought to be about Warren Beatty, but there are other likely candidates; and Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" could be about several guys (including Full House's David Coulier or former NHL player Mike Peluso). Perfect fodder for a rock-trivia game and a nice companion piece to the first book. Stand by for The Kid in the Song? Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Wretched writing - Kathryn Petras

Wretched writing: a compendium of crimes against the English language - Petras, Kathryn

Summary: "Wretched writing is the lowest of the low; it is a felonious assault on the English language. Exuberantly excessive, it is a sin committed often by amateurs and all-too-frequently by gifted writers having an off day. In short, it's very bad writing. Truly bad. Appallingly bad. It's also very funny. A celebration of the worst writing imaginable, Wretched Writing includes inadvertently filthy book titles, ridiculously overwrought passages from novels, bombastic and confusing speeches, moronic oxymorons, hyperactive hyperbole, horribly inappropriate imagery in ostensibly hot sex scenes, mangled cliche muddled metaphors, and unintended double entendres. Sit back and enjoy these deliciously dreadful samples, and try not to cringe too much"-- Provided by publisher.

Publishers Weekly Reviews
The Petrases (Unusually Stupid Americans), a brother-and-sister team, dig deep in this entertaining and cringe-inducing collection of overwrought passages taken from various sources published from the 19th century to the present. The book is arranged by alleged literary crime ("colorful language, excessive," "food imagery, bad," "metaphors, confusing"), and the authors mercilessly skewer bad writing and offer plenty of examples. Some cases are simply confusing ("She sat huddled in a chair, covering her ears with crossed legs") while others more readily appall ("He smiles down at her nipple, which is brown as a bar of Belgian chocolate"). There are the pathetic sex scenes ("He held her breasts in his hands. Oddly, he thought, the lower one might be larger"—written by Scooter Libby), awful book titles (Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers), and embarrassingly bad attempts at dialect ("Yassuh, A spose we caint keep dese ressavations," from Ian Fleming's Live and Let Die). Readers may be surprised to see authors like Danielle Steel, Glenn Beck, and Michael Crichton among the offenders, proving the authors' point that no one is above making the occasional error. It all adds up to a terrifically guilty pleasure for readers (and writers). (Aug.)

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Jazz: a film by Ken Burns (DVD)

Jazz: a film by Ken Burns (DVD)

Summary: 10 episodes tracing the history of jazz from its roots in the African-American community of New Orleans to its heights and continuing presence.

Accompanied by a menagerie of products, Ken Burns's expansive 10-episode paean, Jazz, completes his trilogy on American culture, following The Civil War and Baseball. Spanning more than 19 hours, Jazz is, of course, about a lot more than what many have called America's classical music--especially in episodes 1 through 7. It's here that Burns unearths precious visual images of jazz musicians and hangs historical narratives around the music with convincing authority. Time can stand still as images float past to the sound of grainy vintage jazz, and the drama of a phonograph needle being placed on Louis Armstrong's celestial "West End Blues" is nearly sublime.

The film is also potent in arguing that the history of race in the 20th-century U.S. is at jazz's heart. But a few problems arise. First is Burns's reliance on Wynton Marsalis as his chief musical commentator. Marsalis might be charming and musically expert, but he's no historian. For the film to devote three of its episodes to the 1930s, one expects a bit more historical substance. Also, Jazz condenses the period of 1961 to the present into one episode, glossing over some of the music's giant steps. Burns has said repeatedly that he didn't know much about jazz when he began this project. So perhaps Jazz, for all its glory, would better be called Jazz: What I've Learned Since I Started Listening (And I Haven't Gotten Much Past 1961). For those who are already passionate about jazz, the film will stoke debate (and some derision, together with some reluctant praise). But for everyone else, it will amaze and entertain and kindle a flame for some of the greatest music ever dreamed. --Andrew Bartlett (

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Up, up, and oy vey! - Simcha Weinstein

Up, up, and oy vey!: how Jewish history, culture, and values shaped the comic book superhero - Weinstein, Simcha

Summary: From the birth of Krypton in Cleveland to the Caped Crusader, the Incredible Hulk, Spider Man, the X-Men and more, Up, Up, and Oy Vey chronicles the story about the origins of the most famous superheroes. Jewish contribution to pop-culture is well-documented, but the Jewish role in the creation of action comic superheroes has not been —- until now!

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The day the crayons quit - Drew Daywalt

The day the crayons quit - Daywalt, Drew

Summary: When Duncan arrives at school one morning, he finds a stack of letters, one from each of his crayons, complaining about how he uses them.

Booklist Reviews
Duncan's crayons are on strike. One morning he opens his desk looking for them and, in their place, finds a pack of letters detailing their grievances, one crayon at a time. Red is tired. Beige is bored. Black is misunderstood. Peach is naked! The conceit is an enticing one, and although the crayons' complaints are not entirely unique (a preponderance centers around some variation of overuse), the artist's indelible characterization contributes significant charm. Indeed, Jeffers' ability to communicate emotion in simple gestures, even on a skinny cylinder of wax, elevates crayon drawing to remarkable heights. First-class bookmaking, with clean design, ample trim size, and substantial paper stock, adds to the quality feel. A final spread sees all things right, as Duncan fills a page with bright, delightful imagery, addressing each of the crayons' issues and forcing them into colorful cooperation. Kids who already attribute feelings to their playthings will never look at crayons the same way again. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

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Blacksad - Juan Diaz Canales

Blacksad - Diaz Canales, Juan

Summary: "Private investigator John Blacksad is up to his feline ears in mystery and intrigue, digging up the backstories behind murders, child abductions, and nuclear secrets during the 1950s Red Scare in the United States."--P. [4] of cover.

Library Journal Reviews
A European classic reappears in English, and a rich gift it is. This noir thriller set in 1950s America stars a cast of anthropomorphic animals, with the dirty-handed hero an impeccably trenchcoated black cat. John Blacksad is a sort of private investigator, and these three stories visit territory both familiar and unusual. Our hero's lost love is inexplicably murdered, a misinterpreted killing rocks a white supremacist movement, and a coterie of radical intelligentsia crosses agendas with a version of Commie-hunter Joe McCarthy. The second story, especially, offers complex and subtle plotting that earned an Angoulême award. But story aside, Blacksad soars on the art. If anyone could convince you that animal-headed beings could be real, these artists do. The evocative character renditions, draftsmanship, and painted colors simply take the breath away, from the polar bear police chief turned bad to the hog bartender, cockerel "Senator Gallo" (McCarthy), and bad guy reptilians. VERDICT A prime ambassador for the adult comic, Blacksad reinvents funny animals to a whole new purpose: suspenseful, sophisticated, and beautifully visualized drama with violence and sensual sex quite appropriate to plot and readership. Highly recommended for adult collections.—M.C.

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The bonobo and the atheist - F.B.M. de Waal

The bonobo and the atheist: in search of humanism among the primates - Waal, F.B.M. de

Summary: A renowned primatologist argues that ethical behavior witnessed in animals is the evolutionary and biological origin of human fairness and explains that morality has more to do with natural instincts than with religion.

Kirkus Reviews
Is morality a learned aspect of human nature, or is it innate? Are thinking and acting morally behaviors exclusive to humans? Drawing from decades of fieldwork and research, influential primatologist de Waal (The Age of Empathy: Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society, 2010, etc.) explores the roots of empathy and altruism, concluding that neither religion (despite its historical influence) nor law (despite its ideological heft) is the root cause of the human inclination to act morally. Instead, the author argues, biology is responsible for our instinctual understanding of right and wrong. Weaving together poignant anecdotes of his work with bonobos, a great ape that was long overlooked as a close genetic relative of humans, and philosophical discussions on morality through the lens of religious history, the author makes a cogent argument that moral instinct must precede current civilizations and religions "by at least a hundred millennia." Examples abound of behavior by animals--not just bonobos, but also elephants, chimpanzees and mice--displaying social emotions like gratitude, facial recognition, an awareness of the permanence of death and a willingness to help each other even at personal detriment. De Waal also presents research that indicates a social culture marked by matriarchal hierarchies and sexual freedom, as well as a largely peaceful and conflict-avoiding ethos. This may suggest something altogether different about human participation in the evolution of religion and law than a thesis citing those entities as responsible for providing mankind with a moral center. The author avoids belaboring any one aspect of morality's applications, however, and instead provides an intimate and joyful series of proofs that the "ingredients of a moral society…come from within." A well-composed argument for the biological foundations of human morality. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Code name Verity - Elizabeth Wein

Code name Verity - Wein, Elizabeth

Summary: In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can.

BookPage Reviews

Friendship on the front lines

Dystopia, fantasy and science fiction crowd the YA shelves these days, but Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein’s astonishing new World War II novel, is a reminder of the power historical fiction can have in the hands of an accomplished author. Set in Great Britain and occupied France both before and during the war, Code Name Verity is a complex story of friendship and courage.

As the novel opens, “Verity” has been captured by the Gestapo behind enemy lines. “I wanted to be heroic and I pretended I was,” she begins. We soon learn that she has made a deal with her captor to write down every last detail she knows. As she pens her story, he will return her clothes, piece by piece. In exchange, he will get wireless codes, details about airfields in Great Britain and Verity’s own story.

And what a story it is: Writing on whatever paper is given to her, Verity tells the story of her friendship with Maddie Brodatt, who, as a female pilot in the Air Transport Auxiliary, brought Verity to France. As in the tale of Scheherazade, Verity’s captor appreciates her rich storytelling, but in the end he does not hold the power to determine her fate. In the second part of the book, Maddie takes up the suspenseful tale, while the action builds to an unforgettable encounter between the two friends.

Elizabeth Wein is a pilot herself, and her passion for flying and the details of piloting and caring for a small plane add depth and authenticity to this complex, thoroughly researched novel. She also includes a historical note and a bibliography.

As we have learned with books like The Hunger Games, “YA” and “middle grade” may be convenient labels, but they don’t limit the audience for good books. Yes, we can call Code Name Verity a young adult book. But this sophisticated and compelling novel is likely to find a home on the shelves of teens and adults alike.
Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

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