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Recent Reviews

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Islandborn Cover Image
Posted on Tuesday, March 6, 2018

"Just because you don't remember a place, doesn't mean its not in you." A fantastically illustrated journey of remembrance--the whole country, which sounds like the inside of a drum-- beach poems, and 'bats like blankets' fly off each page, as Lola explores her own history. ​Lovely story. Recommended by Jenna

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Cat Poems Cover Image
Posted on Tuesday, March 6, 2018

“For I will consider my cat Jeoffry”; “Minnaloushe creeps through the grass/Alone, important and wise”; “The cat/ licks its paw and lies down in/the bookshelf nook”/ “The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea.”  This is the book I’ve been waiting for!  All of my favorite cat poems and some I didn’t know.  So, I admit it:  I’m a complete sucker for cat poems, and this cute little collection houses some of the best.  Pocket-sized for tucking away and enjoying whenever you need a reminder that you walk the earth with superior creatures. Recommended by Sarah

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Radioapocrypha (Osu Journal Award Poetry) Cover Image
Posted on Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Just listen to the conceit of BK Fischer’s amazing poetry collection Radioapocrypha: it’s a novella in verse explaining what would’ve happened if Jesus had appeared as a smart-alleck chemistry teacher in Maryland in 1989, the year Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” came out. Of course, it’s good for laughs: the last supper is KFC takeout, water gets turned into boxed wine, and wisdom gets dispensed like “If a girl is wearing cut-off shorts with peace signs on her butt cheeks, make friends with her.” But Fischer’s most impressive feat is pulling a John Hughes and mining real pathos from the comic premise. Her gospel of the suburbs is ultimately an affecting and original meditation on sexuality, grief, rage, and the universal desire to get out: after all, “No one needs to stick around to find out if they open a Subway.” Recommended by Danny

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Two Girls Down Cover Image
Posted on Tuesday, January 23, 2018

You know that totally-absorbed-can’t-put-it-down reading experience?  Louisa Luna’s Two Girls Down provides just that. It’s riveting, suspenseful, surprising and so addictive that I had to slow down in my eagerness to get to the next twist in order to appreciate the admirable prose. Luna’s style is straightforward but creative, and I love finding those unique turns of phrase that mark a clever and observant writer’s prose. She has created a fascinating new crime-solving duo with bounty hunter Alice Vega, who teams up with private investigator Max Caplan to find two kidnapped young girls. Vega is cool, confident, canny and can drop a suspect with a length of chain and a well-thrown cup of hot tea.  Caplan is a quirky combination of keenly intelligent detective, emotionally tortured ex-cop, and mushy, proud dad to a precocious sixteen-year-old.  The dialogue is snappy and realistic, and the characters are multi-dimensional.  It is a supremely satisfying read and I can’t wait for more Cap and Vega exploits. Recommended by Sarah

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American Heart Cover Image
Posted on Monday, January 22, 2018

My spirits are still aloft three hours after finishing Laura Moriarty's book American Heart. You may have heard about all the flak she has taken for the book and about the censored review—a review written by a Muslim woman of color—pulled after pressure from people who feared the book represented another white savior narrative because its admittedly flawed white teenage protagonist commits to seeing a woman to safety in an America—not very unlike our own—that has put all Muslims like this woman in an internment camp in Nevada. This is a Muslim woman, I might add, who has stayed in America even after her husband and son fled to Canada because she had hoped to outlast the virus of fear spreading the country, had hoped to stay in a teaching job at a university where she could help students learn not only about engineering but also about how to conquer their own fears of difference, had hoped to stay in a country that had become her home. The book is as much about her as it is about its white protagonist. American Heart ultimately heralds two good people doing the right thing at great personal risk. Recommended by Kelly

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The Alice Network Cover Image
Posted on Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn is a stunning book that brings to life the dangerous world of female espionage agents in World War I. The "present day" of the novel is two years post-World War II, and American Charlie St. Clair sets off to find her cousin, missing since the last days of the fall of France. She enlists the help of the mysterious Eve Gardiner, whose story as a spy in the Alice Network in France is interwoven through the novel in flashback. As Eve comes to terms with the great tragedy of her own past, Charlie learns to accept herself and her own choices in a powerful story of personal redemption. Based on the author's research into this little-known slice of Great War history, this is fantastic historical fiction. I could not put the book down. Recommended by Sarah

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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore Cover Image
Posted on Saturday, January 13, 2018

Matthew Sullivan's Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is a clever and compelling bibliophile mystery, sure to appeal to those whose second home is a bookstore. Lydia Smith, employee at the titular bookstore (a barely-masked clone of Denver's Tattered Cover) caters to the down and out customers lurking in the stacks, until she finds one of her favorites has killed himself in the history section with a childhood photo of Lydia in his pocket. The investigation will lead to secrets about Lydia's past she's not ready to reckon with. A good debut mystery for those who love books. Recommended by Danny

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American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West Cover Image
Posted on Saturday, January 13, 2018

American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee reads like a novel but it's nonfiction--well-reported, in-depth nonfiction that presents an intimate portrait of a beautiful creature. The book is ostensibly a biography of Oh-Six, a female wolf who leads a fearsome Yellowstone pack. But the story it tells is much bigger: politics, livelihood, regionalism, class, survival, and landscape all figure into this tragic and compelling tale. The book is part legal thriller, part biography, part nature book, and part rural cultural analysis, but it's 100% unforgettable. Recommended by Danny

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The Alice Network Cover Image
Posted on Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn is a stunning book that brings to life the dangerous world of female espionage agents in World War I. The "present day" of the novel is two years post-World War II, and American Charlie St. Clair sets off to find her cousin, missing since the last days of the fall of France. She enlists the help of the mysterious Eve Gardiner, whose story as a spy in the Alice Network in France is interwoven through the novel in flashback. As Eve comes to terms with the great tragedy of her own past, Charlie learns to accept herself and her own choices in a powerful story of personal redemption. Based on the author's research into this little-known slice of Great War history, this is fantastic historical fiction. I could not put the book down. Recommended by Sarah.

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Leonardo Da Vinci Cover Image
Posted on Wednesday, January 3, 2018

STAFF REVIEW: Deep winter is the time to stretch your reading muscles. (It worked for me several years ago with Nicholas Nickleby, trust me, a marathon that made all other books feel like strolls.) Have I got the perfect tome for you: Leonardo da Vinci, by Walter Isaacson. It's true; I do love a long biography. Having read Isaacson's previous biography of Steve Jobs, I knew I could trust his exhaustive research, a sign of any good biography. But Isaacson does something else rarer to find: He writes with the assumption that you know nothing about his subject without sounding pedantic and patronizing. His specialty as a biographer is finding individuals who have lived their lives right at the intersection of art and science--people who often blur the distinction between the two. Thus his choice of Leonardo comes as no surprise. This beguiling new look at Leonardo's personal and public life, complete with many color images, will not disappoint. Recommended by Kelly