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Book Reviews
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2013  
  Autumn Bones: Agent of Hel by Jacqueline Carey
  The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kawamba
  The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari by Paul Theroux
  City of Women by David R. Gillham
  Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  Almost Amish: One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life by Nancy Sleeth
  NPR Summer Reading List recommended by Rona Brinlee, Daniel Goldin, and Lucia Silva
  Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
  The Michigan Quarterly Review
  Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey
  Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly


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Autumn Bones: Agent of Hel by Jacqueline Carey

Sue’s Book of the month is Autumn Bones: Agent of Hel by Jacqueline Carey. This is the second installment of Carey's suburban fantasy series (after Dark Currents). Fathered by an incubus, raised by a mortal mother, and liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, Daisy Johanssen pulled the community together after a summer tragedy befell the resort town she calls home (sounds like Saugatuck/Douglas?). Things are back to normal—as normal as it gets for a town famous for its supernatural tourism, and presided over by the reclusive Norse goddess Hel. Carey's ability to create a diverse, enjoyable cast of characters in a setting that feels natural to all of them carries it through.

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The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kawamba

Carol’s book of the month is In The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind by William Kawamba. When 14-year-old William’s Malawi village was hit by a drought, everyone's crops began to fail. Without enough money for food, let alone school, William spent his days in the library and figured out how to bring electricity to his village. Persevering against the odds, William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps, and thus became the local hero who harnessed the wind. Lyrically told and gloriously illustrated, this story will inspire many as it shows how, even in the worst of times, a great idea and a lot of hard work can still rock the world.

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The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari by Paul Theroux

Sue’s book of the month is The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari by Paul Theroux. Happy again, back in the kingdom of light, writes Paul Theroux. This is a story that’s rich, laced with irony, the work of a thirsty observer, full of colorful encounters as he sets out on a journey through the continent he loves best. Arriving in Africa as a 22-year-old Peace Corps volunteer, this vast land has never left his soul. His odyssey takes him northward from Cape Town, through South Africa and Namibia, then into Angola, wishing to head farther still until he reaches the end of the line. Journeying alone through the greenest continent, Theroux encounters a world increasingly removed from both the itineraries of tourists and the hopes of postcolonial independence movements. From the Cape Town townships, passing through the Namibian bush, past the browsing cattle of the great sun baked and parched heartland of the savanna, Theroux crosses into a different Africa, a muddled-together Africa of tumbled fences and cooking fires, of mud and thatch, of heat and poverty, and of roadblocks, mobs, and anarchy. A beautiful and sometimes haunting read.

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City of Women by David R. Gillham

Sue’s book of the month is City of Women by David R. Gillham. It is 1943, the height of the World War II. With the majority of men away at the front, Berlin has become a city of women. On the surface, Sigrid is the model German soldier’s wife. She goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and dutifully cares for her annoying, meddling mother-in-law, all the while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the regime. But behind this façade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman of passion who dreams of her former Jewish lover, now lost in the chaos of the war. But Sigrid is not the only one with secrets — she soon finds herself caught between what is right and what is wrong, and what falls somewhere in the shadows between the two.

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Jacqueline and Julie’s book of the month is Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Rich in historical detail and intrigue, Code Name Verity is a vivid reminder of what makes historical fiction so compelling. This is a tale of friendship, war, and early women's aeronautics. Verity has been captured by the Nazis while attempting espionage in France during World War II. This story is her confession. She swears she is telling the truth, but she also admits that she is a very good liar. Code Name Verity is totally engrossing. Her story is that of two women who should never have crossed paths, yet were destined to become the best of friends and embark upon the covert mission that would determine which of them would live or die.

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Almost Amish: One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life by Nancy Sleeth

Almost Amish: One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life by Nancy Sleeth. A guest of ours gave us this book recommendation. The author of this book had always been intrigued by the Amish, and so she decided to de-clutter her families life and live more simply. We've been told to not waste and to turn off the lights when we leave a room, but we've never been given any practical steps on how to slow down, live simply, take a siesta, and stop letting things rule over us.

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NPR Summer Reading List recommended by Rona Brinlee, Daniel Goldin, and Lucia Silva

Summer is all about books, and we’ve taken a list from NPR recommended by Rona Brinlee, Daniel Goldin, and Lucia Silva. Here’s the list:
 
Daily Rituals by Mason Currey
Equilateral by Ken Kalfus
Life After Life by Jill McCorkle
The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell
The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani
Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made the Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
The View from Penthouse B by Elinor Lipman
How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid
Queen of the Air by Dean Jensen
The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon
The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore
A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel
Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra
Poems to Learn by Heart by Caroline Kennedy and Jon J. Muth
Pacific by Tom Drury
The Dark Road by Ma Jian

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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

Carol’s book of the month is Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. This novel illustrates the way many Americans have become bewitched with inserting themselves into every situation they deem newsworthy. Even down to hobnobbing with war heroes to make themselves feel more important, influential, and impressive. It also calls attention to the country's caste system of haves and have-nots, the lower castes often being on the front lines of our wars. Unfolding over the course of one Thanksgiving Day, this book follows the 8 survivors of Bravo Company and the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal, and especially focuses on Specialist William Lynn, a 19-year-old Texas native. Over the course of this day, Billy begins to understand the difficult truths about himself, his country, his struggling family, and his brothers-in-arms, soldiers both dead and alive. In the final few hours before returning to Iraq, Billy will drink and brawl, yearn for home and mourn those missing, face a heart-wrenching decision, and discover pure love and a bitter wisdom far beyond his years.

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The Michigan Quarterly Review

Our book of the month is actually The Michigan Quarterly Review. Our dear friend Alison Swan has written prose for it occasionally and we love to read everything she writes and recommends. MQR is an eclectic interdisciplinary journal of arts and culture that seeks to combine the best of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction with outstanding critical essays on literary, cultural, social, and political matters. They are the flagship journal of the University of Michigan. In the past they have published works by Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, and other authorities in their field. They also try to include at least one story, essay, or poem by a previously unpublished writer in every issue. It’s a delight to read.  For more info or to order a subscription, click here.

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Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey

Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey is the first book in her new series Agent of Hel. Dark Currents is an excellent new entry in the world of urban fantasy, though to be fair, it’s perhaps more rustic fantasy. Dark Currents does an exemplary job of creating an intriguing world of fantastical creatures, interesting normals, and subtle complexities behind the scenes. Daisy, the main female character, is a good blend of supernatural species and human. The book is a fascinating interpretation of ghouls, and the werewolves are believable, which is refreshing. And best of all, it takes place in a cool little tourist town, just like Saugatuck! This book is entertaining, funny, and well written

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Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly

The kind of book that you just want to grab the next person you see and say, you must read this! Outstanding story of a devout Buddhist named Teza who is sentence to 20 plus years solitary confinement in a Burmese Prison Camp. Beautiful story, well written. Connelly gives vivid descriptions of characters that make for gripping reading. You can purchase or order this book at the Singapore Bank Bookstore in Saugatuck (269-857-3785).

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