Displaying articles for: July 2012

Never Back Down

In Ernest Hebert's autobiographical novel, Jack Landry, a promising high school baseball player from small-town New Hampshire, strives to live by one simple motto: Never back down, never institgate. At least, it seems like a simple motto. But life proves far more complicated in this uniquely American coming-of-age story.

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Albert of Adelaide

Orphaned platypus Albert has escaped from the zoo. Now he's on a quest to find the "Old Australia." Instead, he meets Jack, a pyromaniacal wombat and the first of many eccentric creatures -- others include militant kangaroos, menacing dingoes, and a washed-up Tasmanian devil -- that Albert encounters on his journey. Howard L. Anderson's novel is an uproarious introduction to the menagerie of characters living just outside our enclosures.

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The Twilight War

Beginning with the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 and exacerbated by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a low-level conflict between Iran and the United States has simmered for more than three decades. Historian David Crist draws on ten years of research to reveal the hidden skirmishes behind the headlines.

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Shine Shine Shine

Lydia Netzer's marvelous debut novel introduces an unusual couple dealing with extraordinary challenges. When a car accident forces Sunny to confront the past that she hides under a blond wig, her genius astronaut husband, Maxon, is distracted by the fact that he's on his way to the moon. An original story of life's unpredictability and the cosmic power of love.

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Rabid

Vampires and werewolves may have their mythic origins in the much realer threat of rabies. A journalist and a veterinarian explore the history of the virus that has frightened and fascinated for centuries.  Science with a bite.

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Burying the Typewriter

When the police arrested her father for anti-communist activities in 1983, Carmen Bugan's idyllic life in the Romanian countryside was upended. She captures the trauma of this event, his subsequent release, and her family's exile in language that recalls her previous work as a poet and sheds light on little-known chapter of history.

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Our Kind of People

Uzodinma Iweala's debut novel, Beasts of No Nation, astonished readers with its unflinching portrayal of child soldiers in West Africa. He returns to the troubled continent in this nonfiction account of the AIDS crisis that is similarly startling and original. Rather than focus on stories of death and destruction, Iweala instead addresses the millions who live every day with the disease.

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Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Grieving the death of her beloved uncle and alienated from her family, 14-year-old June finds solace in an unexpected friendship. Love and compassion course through Carol Rifka Brunt's tender coming-of-age story with an elegiac, emotional resonance that reminds us of Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

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The Violinist's Thumb

Sam Kean's bestseller The Disappearing Spoon romped through the Periodic Table in a compulsively readable history of chemical discoveries. In The Violinist's Thumb -- a reference to the genetic quirk that helped make Paganini's playing legendary -- the writer unveils the mysteries of DNA to equally magical effect.

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Office Girl

Love, beauty, rock and roll, and really annoying workplaces:  that's the territory covered in this charming indie romance.  The 1990s are drawing to a close and neither art-school dropout Odile or sound-obsessed Jack know where their stalled lives are going. Joe Meno's sly, funny and hiply warmheated story of their awkward journey to love makes for a delightfully airy summer read.

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The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, waiting for his housekeeper to arrive and free him, outrageous reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman's hilarious novel is a multifaceted meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged society where the two are often interchangeable.

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Tiny Beautiful Things

Before the publication of her bestselling memoir Wild, Cheryl Strayed's advice column "Dear Sugar" had become an Internet phenomenon bringing breathtaking insight, humor, and honesty to the problems emailed her way. Here she collects the best of her columns and adds never-before-seen material.

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Shadow of Night

Vampire Matthew Clairmont and witch Diana Bishop travel back to Elizabethan London in the enchanting sequel to Deborah Harkness's blockbuster debut, A Discovery of Witches. Their quest for a dangerous manuscript will find them facing mysterious perils in which only one thing is certain -- the author's continued magic touch.

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City of Ravens

According to legend, Charles II warned that if there were no ravens at the Tower of London, the British Nation would collapse. The truth behind how these clever birds became tourist attractions is unpacked by natural historian Boria Sax. The result is a captivating exploration of how we make myths and endow animals with unique meaning.

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The Odyssey of KP2

Readers of the classic Ring of Bright Water will rejoice at this true story of a Hawaiian monk seal pup -- one of a dwindling population left in the wild -- rescued from near-certain death and raised by scientists in California. Eminent marine biologist Terrie M. Williams introduces us to KP2's irrepressible personality and his role in shaping the fate of his species.

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Heading Out to Wonderful

Suspense and a poignant love story combine in this tale of a World War II veteran who arrives in a small Virginia town, only to fall for the spouse of a powerful man. The author of the acclaimed novel A Reliable Wife brings a timeless magic and compelling urgency to this American tragedy.

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The Dictator's Learning Curve

With despots toppled in Egypt and Libya and pro-democracy demonstrations convulsing Syria and Russia, the conflict between repression and liberation has reached new heights. This powerful work of reporting illuminates the challenges faced by advocates of free societies everywhere.

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Say Nice Things About Detroit

When David moves home to Detroit after more than two decades away, he's fleeing memories of his dead son and ex-wife. What he finds is a murder mystery involving his high school sweetheart. Scott Lasser's novel captures the soul of a city on the ropes and one man's attempt to save himself and his hometown by taking justice into his own hands.

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Little Century

In the spirit of My Antonia and There Will Be Blood, an orphaned 18-year-old girl heads west in search of her only living relative -- and finds herself in the middle of a war between sheep herders and cattle ranchers that threatens to keep the railroad from extending to their patch of wilderness. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

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Beyond the Blue Horizon: How the Earliest Mariners Unlocked the Secrets of the Oceans

Oceans cover seven-tenths of the Earth's surface.  In order to traverse the globe, early explorers  -- from the South Pacific to the cold North Sea -- had to venture out into the vast open waters.  Brian Fagan takes readers on a fascinating journey through what may have been the most significant of all human endeavors.

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The Festival of Earthly Delights

When young American Boyd Darrow relocated to the Southeast Asian country of Puchai, he'd hoped to find his future in this tiny nation in which a wink can have hundreds of meanings.  But the tangles of heartbreak, it turns out, can be found anywhere on Earth -- even in a land where the spirits of turtles will curse the unwary.  A delightfully funny and heartfelt novel from a fresh voice in fiction.

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The Hollow Earth

The appeal of Edgar Rice Rice Burroughs's tales of a band of explorers inside a hollow Earth relies on the unique venue, on the hero's stalwart ingenuousness, and of course on the author's masterful, compelling plotting.  Pleasure reading at its purest, with an introduction by the Review's own Paul Di Filippo.

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April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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