Book Reviews

The Red Caddy

Originally written in 1994, Charles Bowden’s, The Red Caddy, is the first biography of Edward Abbey to appear for some time. Like the stark beauty of the desert Abbey defended, Bowden’s lucid prose tells the truth about the man, whose racist, misogynistic image so many biographers and followers alike have tried to expunge. Instead of trying to make Abbey palatable, Bowden trusts that the power of his friend’s life, warts intact, merits an honest depiction. Caddy is freshly relevant given the recent #metoo movement.

The Red Caddy: Into the Unknown with Edward Abbey Cover Image
ISBN: 9781477315798
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Published: University of Texas Press - April 25th, 2018

A passionate advocate for preserving wilderness and fighting the bureaucratic and business forces that would destroy it, Edward Abbey (1927-1989) wrote fierce, polemical books such as Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang that continue to inspire environmental activists.

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore

Though many books have been written about climate change, in Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, Elizabeth Rush offers not a scientist’s view but that of an artist translating statistics into elegy for the estuaries, the salt marshes, the shoreline wetlands of the world, and more particularly, of her childhood home. By speaking the names of the beings, both human and otherwise, that are vanishing before our eyes as shorelines become inundated, she faces her own grief and helps her readers to do so as well. Recommended by Kelly

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore Cover Image
ISBN: 9781571313676
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Published: Milkweed Editions - June 12th, 2018

Harvey. Maria. Irma. Sandy. Katrina. We live in a time of unprecedented hurricanes and catastrophic weather events, a time when it is increasingly clear that climate change is neither imagined nor distant--and that rising seas are transforming the coastline of the United States in irrevocable ways.

Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Our Illusion of Control

Barbara Ehrenrich’s latest offering, Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Our Illusion of Control, adds to her benignly cranky repertoire of cultural critique.

Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer Cover Image
ISBN: 9781455535910
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Published: Twelve - April 10th, 2018

A New York Times bestseller
From the celebrated author of Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich explores how we are killing ourselves to live longer, not better.

Against Memoir

STAFF REVIEW: Michelle Tea's new book of essays, Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Crticisms, blew me away. Some essays scrape like sandpaper. Others comfort like an arm draped over a shoulder. Tea is alternatively a modern-day prophet and a street-wise friend everyone needs to help them stay up with every new societal quirk and meme and to remind them to check their ego and privilege in a time of profound change. Recommended by Kelly

Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms Cover Image
ISBN: 9781936932184
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Published: Amethyst Editions - May 8th, 2018

The razor-sharp but damaged Valerie Solanas, a doomed lesbian biker gang, recovering alcoholics, and teenagers barely surviving at an ice creamery: these are some of the larger-than-life, yet all-too-human figures populating America's fringes. Rife with never-ending fights and failures, theirs are the stories we too often try to forget.


"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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Islandborn Cover Image
By Junot Diaz, Leo Espinosa (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780735229860
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Published: Dial Books - March 13th, 2018

From New York Times bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner Junot D az comes a debut picture book about the magic of memory and the infinite power of the imagination.


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.

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Radioapocrypha (Osu Journal Award Poetry) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780814254646
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Published: Ohio State University Press - February 1st, 2018

A novella in verse, Radioapocrypha envisions what would have happened if Jesus Christ had arrived for the first time not in Palestine two thousand years ago but in a subdivision in Maryland in 1989, the year Depeche Mode released "Personal Jesus." In this suburban retelling of the gospel, Jesus is a hunky post-punk high school chemistry teacher and the disciples are a twelve-member garage b

Two Girls Down

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.

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Two Girls Down Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385542494
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Published: Doubleday Books - January 9th, 2018

"I'm always looking for a good thriller, and this just was perfect."--Nancy Pearl, NPR's Morning Edition
"Opening this book is like arming a bomb--the suspense is relentless and the payoff is spectacular. Lead character Alice Vega is sensational--I want to see lots more of her."--Lee Child
"Sensational." Wall Street Journal

American Heart

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.

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American Heart Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062694102
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Published: HarperTeen - January 30th, 2018

A powerful and thought-provoking YA debut from New York Times bestselling author Laura Moriarty.

Imagine a United States in which registries and detainment camps for Muslim-Americans are a reality.

The Alice Network

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.

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The Alice Network: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062654199
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Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - June 6th, 2017

Featuring an exclusive excerpt from Kate Quinn's next incredible historical novel, THE HUNTRESS




One of NPR's Best Books of the Year!

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

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.

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Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501116858
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Published: Scribner Book Company - January 9th, 2018

When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind in this "intriguingly dark, twisty" (Kirkus Reviews) debut novel from an award-winning short story writer.