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Book Reviews

Tru and Nelle

Tru and Nelle by Neri G. is a terrific young adult book about the friendship between Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee. Based on real events in the lives of these two literary figures, the book in many ways mirrors To Kill a Mockingbird, hinting at the real characters and events in Monroeville, Alabama that gave birth to their parallels in the novel. It's beautifully written and has both the adventure and moral peril present in To Kill a Mockingbird. Highly recommended by Kelly.

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$16.99
ISBN: 9780544699601
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Published: Houghton Mifflin - March 1st, 2016

Long before they became famous writers, Truman Capote (In Cold Blood) and Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) were childhood friends in Monroeville, Alabama. This fictionalized account of their time together opens at the beginning of the Great Depression, when Tru is seven and Nelle is six.


Eleanor and Hick

Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn. Though it's no secret that Eleanor Roosevelt had a long-term affair with journalist Lorena Hickok, Quinn's careful examination of their decades-long correspondence reveals the depth of both their love and fear during a time when such relationships were strictly verboten. The narrative views the tumultuous days of Depression, world war, and social change through the window of cultural trespass, which offers interesting insights into both a much-studied era and political icon.

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$30.00
ISBN: 9781594205408
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Published: Penguin Press - September 27th, 2016

A warm, intimate account of the love between Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Lorena Hickok--a relationship that, over more than three decades, transformed both women's lives and empowered them to play significant roles in one of the most tumultuous periods in American history


Anybody

Identity is a slippery thing in Ari Banias's excellent debut collection Anybody. Late in the collection, for instance, a speaker says, "Mostly a name feels like the crappy overhang I huddle under/while rain skims the front of me." The declaration serves to embody Anybody's​ pre-occupation and exploration of identity, its limits, and its grey areas. The pronoun, that gram-matical home of cisgendered thinking, is of particular worry and curiosity to these voices in these poems.

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Anybody: Poems Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780393247794
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 20th, 2016

In Anybody, Ari Banias takes up questions of recognition and belonging: how boundaries are drawn and managed, the ways he and she, us and them, here and elsewhere are kept separate, and at what cost identities and selves are forged.


The Little Stranger

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters is a ghost story for everyone. By everyone, I mean those who love ghost stories and also those who resist them. The writing is so spot-on and the hauntings so psychologically resonant, that they give even the skeptical reader pause. The Ayres' family estate is crumbling. Its remaining residents, Emily, her shell-shocked son Roderick, and sturdy, unmarried daughter Caroline, make an ill-fated decision to host a party to re-establish themselves in the social scene of Warwickshire, England.

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$17.00
ISBN: 9781594484469
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Published: Riverhead Books - May 4th, 2010

"The #1 book of 2009...Several sleepless nights are guaranteed."--Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly


A Reunion of Ghosts

A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell is one of the best novels that I’ve read in years. A wry black comedy, it begins in 1999 and is the story of the 40-ish Alter sisters: Lady, Vee and Delph, who share an apartment on New York’s upper East Side. But it’s also the story of four generations of the Alter family, beginning with their great-grandfather, a brilliant German chemist who invented chlorine gas, among other terrible things. Tragedies have occurred in each generation, leaving the Alter sisters to conclude that there is only one solution that will break the curse.

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A Reunion of Ghosts Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780062355898
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Published: Harper Perennial - January 26th, 2016

A NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD FINALIST

"The Alter sisters are mordant, wry, and crystalline in wit and vision; it is a tremendous pleasure to rocket through generations of their family histories with them." --Lauren Groff, New York Timesbestselling author of Fates and Furies, The Monsters of Templeton, and Arcadia


Exposure

Helen Dunmore’s newest novel is a beautiful tribute to the sweet comfort of home, to the fierce focus of mother love, and to the random risks and dangers that we are all exposed to.  She writes about the year 1960 in London, the cold war is in full cry and Dunmore describes everyday life with telling details: muddy galoshes, gold cuff links, the smells of primary school children and the sound of a train coming down the track.

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Exposure Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780802124937
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Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - April 5th, 2016

"Dunmore so cleverly interweaves each of the character's stories that as the tale unfolds it has the chilling ring of absolute authenticity. It's gripping and page turning and all those things you expect in a Spy Drama--but always laced with her trademark humanity. I was totally caught up in the story which is paced perfectly. Her best book yet."--Mavis Cheek


The Summer Before the War

Helen Simonson's heartfelt novel captures life in the small English coastal town of Rye. It is the summer of 1914, short months before every's lives are changed as WWI begins. Every character is beautifully drawn and the beauty of the countryside is vividly described. This book follows her wonderful novel Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, and I loved both of them. Recommended by Rochelle

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ISBN: 9780812993103
Availability: Special Order
Published: Random House - March 22nd, 2016

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - "A novel to cure your Downton Abbey withdrawal . . . a delightful story about nontraditional romantic relationships, class snobbery and the everybody-knows-everybody complications of living in a small community."--The Washington Post


Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal. The short answer is--we're getting there. The gist of this fascinating book is that we've long been using the wrong measures for things like "consciousness," "self-awareness," and "intention," all once considered qualities possessed only by humans. But as the many experiments that primatologist de Waal recounts show, if you use the proper controls and keep an open mind, you'll find animals are far more "like" us than we give them credit--which changes everything. Recommended by Kelly

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Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780393246186
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 25th, 2016

What separates your mind from an animal's? Maybe you think it's your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future--all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet's preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition.


Fluent in 3 Months

Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World by Benny Lewis. This morning I woke up oddly early, before the sun even. I sat down on the couch, curled up with a blanket and my coffee, and finished the second half of Benny Lewis's, Fluent in 3 Months. Upon finishing the book, I felt an absolute ardent urgency to further my second language skills. I spent the next five hours speaking aloud, working on my script, and singing along to ridiculous alphabet songs.

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Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062282699
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Published: HarperOne - March 11th, 2014

Benny Lewis, who speaks over ten languages--all self-taught--runs the largest language-learning blog in the world, Fluent In 3 Months. Lewis is a full-time "language hacker," someone who devotes all of his time to finding better, faster, and more efficient ways to learn languages.


Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth

Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, by Warsan Shire. Kenyan Born and Somalian, Shire provides a unique perspective into femininity and religiosity. As each poem unfolds, an unyielding benevolence to her surroundings and interactions with her family, peers, and her Islamic background begin to converge and take on a new shape. Celebrated by Beyonce, I was intrigued to see what she deemed poetic, I was pleasantly surprised by the depth and emotion displayed in each and every word. A powerful insight into a traumatic, veiled world. Recommended by Jenna

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Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth (Mouthmark) Cover Image
$12.00
ISBN: 9781905233298
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Published: Flipped Eye Publishing Limited - August 3rd, 2012

What elevates 'teaching my mother how to give birth', what gives the poems their disturbing brilliance, is Warsan Shire's ability to give simple, beautiful eloquence to the veiled world where sensuality lives in the dominant narrative of Islam; reclaiming the more nuanced truths of earlier times - as in Tayeb Salih's work - and translating to the realm of lyric the work of the likes of Nawal El Sa


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