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Recent Reviews

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America Cover Image
Posted on Saturday, May 6, 2017

I just keep coming back to this book! I have read it twice! This is the history of white America that has been deliberately left out. It's embarrassing, crass, and super creepy. White Trash explores the history of "waste people," presidential perspectives, and how race has a part in every single piece of American history, no matter how hard some try to erase it. Nancy Isenberg has created a dialog that can change everything--all you have to do is read it. Happy learning! Recommended by Jenna.

Jane Steele Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, May 4, 2017

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye is a wickedly thrilling read!  In the first chapter when Jane, the narrator says, “Reader, I murdered him” I was hooked.  Set in 19th century England, Jane lives at Highgate House with her mother and unfeeling aunt.  Her mother dies and Jane is sent to a dreadful boarding school for girls that’s run by a sadistic and cruel headmaster.  Jane escapes and flees to London, living by her wits for a few years.  (She has something in common with other literary characters who do bad things to bad people.).  She spies an ad in a newspaper for a governess at Highgate House and applies for the job, all the while determined to learn if she is the rightful heir, as she’d been told as a child.  I don’t want to give too much away, but just say that the book is a mystery, an adventure, a romance and an historical novel.  Marvelously well-written, fascinating characters, carefully plotted : there is much to love about this book!  Also, it’s a bit of an homage to Jane Eyre, a favorite book of Jane Steele’s (think Mr. Thornfield instead of Mr. Rochester).    One review said:  ‘Jane Eyre gets a dose of Dexter’, and Sue Grafton gave it an ‘A-plus’! Highly recommended by Rochelle McKown.

Priestdaddy: A Memoir Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, May 4, 2017

Patricia Lockwood's memoir Priestdaddy is pretty unforgettable, primarily because nobody can craft a joke like Lockwood. She lends her manic comic energy to the story of moving home from Savannah to Kansas City after her husband's expensive eye surgery for a rare vision condition. Thing is, home is a bit stranger for Lockwood than for the rest of us: her father is a Catholic priest who's basically beyond description, but here goes: he walks around in boxers, playhs electric guitar loudly, is an ordained priest with five children, and watches Glenn Beck, well, religiously. No summary can capture the strangeness of this family, and Lockwood mines the story for absurdist humor and effective moments of pathos. Laugh, cry, cringe: this is the holy trinity of reading anything by Patricia Lockwood, and Priestdaddy is no exception. Recommended by Danny

A Reunion of Ghosts Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Reunion of Ghosts by Judith Claire Mitchell is one of the best novels I've read in years. A wry black comedy, it begins in 1999 and is the story of the forty-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. It's deftly written, rich and intelligent, the humor and wit razor-sharp. I highly recommend it. Rochelle

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, April 20, 2017

As if we needed another reason to celebrate Ruth Bader Ginsberg! This book is about her insatiable desire to change the world and her commitment to equality. It is a great book for the ardent feminist, as well as a book for parents to read to their children. There are lots of photographs, timelines, and fun facts. This book is especially important with the recent addition  to the supreme court. Happy learning!  Recommended by Jenna.

Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, April 20, 2017

The new biography, Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life by Sally Bedell Smith, is worth the time despite its girth. A teenager when Charles married Diana, I have long disliked and blamed him for all that followed. Smith's exhaustive exploration of his life has helped me move past that and even to appreciate the man for who he is: a reluctant royal with loves and ambitions that do not necessarily suit his role as the Queen and others might interpret it. Though socially awkward and intensely private, Charles also has felt compelled to use his voice and position to enlarge discussions around contemporary issues important to him. Though I think Smith unfairly dismisses some of Charles' ideas as fringe and even "kooky," especially those about climate change, her biography provides a carefully researched look into the life of the future king, and a person with the unique moral and intellectual capacity to lead. Recommended by Kelly

Consuming the Congo: War and Conflict Minerals in the World's Deadliest Place Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, April 20, 2017

How many times a day do you use your cellphone? Computer? Have a diamond ring? The western world depends on the minerals being harvested from the Congo, and the labor that which provides it. (Can also be spelled "Kongo") 5,000,000, yes, 5 million, you read that right, have died in the conflict in the Kingdom of Congo since WWII. This book explores first-hand experience, interviews, images, and data to educate readers on what is happening in the world's deadliest place. This is the kind of book that helps us to remember that moms are moms everywhere, everyone desires a job that will provide security, and kids deserve to go to school--boys and girls. This book will make you think twice about all the tainted technology we use that funds the ongoing war on the people of the Kingdom of Kongo.

Dig If You Will the Picture: Funk, Sex, God and Genius in the Music of Prince Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ben Greenman’s Dig if You Will the Picture: Funk, Sex, God, and Genius in the Music of Prince doesn’t set out to be a biography (entirely) or a work of criticism (entirely) or a memoir (entirely), instead landing at a mostly-sweet spot in between. The result is a fun read, full of memorable insights and stories. Greenman splits his analysis into four sections, about Prince’s music, meaning, madness, and memory. It’s a nice structure for a book that slides around chronologically but never loses its grip. It’s by no means comprehensive, but I’m not sure it’s possible to write the comprehensive Prince book. Do you miss Prince as much as I do? Dig if You Will The Picture is good solace. Recommended by Danny.

Black Rabbit Hall Cover Image
Posted on Saturday, March 25, 2017

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase is a spellbinding novel that reviewers say is reminiscent of Daphne du Maurier. Black Rabbit Hall is a country estate on England's Cornish coast. Something happens in 1968 that unravels the perfect family who lives there. The story shifts to the present as a young woman decides she wants to hold her wedding at the Hall. Going back and forth in time, we learn how the two families are connected. Movingly written, this gothic story of family secrets, love and loss will captivate you! -- Recommended by Rochelle

White Tears Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, March 16, 2017

White Tears by Hari Kunzru is amazing. The story starts when a popular kid, rich heir to a private-prison empire, befriends a seemingly bland audio-nerd sidekick. Together they DJ college parties and become big men on campus. After graduation they move to Brooklyn to open a recording studio specializing in making new records sound old. Then, they pull a harmless-seeming prank: they post a counterfeit blues song to the internet, calling it a newly-discovered rare recording. Immediately afterwards, all hell breaks loose (almost literally). The hats Kunzru wears in this novel are myriad: ghost story, class-privilege satire, southern gothic, cultural-appropriation cautionary tale, you name it. He wears them all well. Oh yeah—it’s also a page-turner of the highest degree. White Tears is a huge success. Recommended by Danny