Recent Reviews

The Red Caddy: Into the Unknown with Edward Abbey Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, June 14, 2018

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. Bowden demands that readers address the question: Can we separate the art from the artist? Recommended by Kelly

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, June 14, 2018

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

Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, June 14, 2018

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. This contribution to the recent bestsellers about Americans’ unnatural relationship with natural aging—namely Gawande’s Being Mortal—distinguishes itself because she writes from a place that “could not be euphemized as ‘middle-aged.’” Ehrenreich bravely translates the latest science that debunks the comforting idea of the body as a whole rooting for eternal life, arriving instead at a transcendent view of death that enfolds the illusory self into the longevity of the universe. Recommended by Kelly.

Against Memoir: Complaints, Confessions & Criticisms Cover Image
Posted on Thursday, June 14, 2018

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

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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: A Novel 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