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Goodreads Choice AwardNominee for Best Mystery & Thriller (2016) Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one. When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investi...Details, rating and comments
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Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turn...Details, rating and comments
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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER A landmark volume in science writing by one of the great minds of our time, Stephen Hawking’s book explores such profound questions as: How did the universe begin—and what made its start possible? Does time always flow forward? Is the universe unending—or are there boundaries? Are there other dimensions in space...Details, rating and comments

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MONARCH
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More than a collection of stories Tobias’ debut is a selection of gritty emotional character studies. Bettie the protagonist of “Nova” fixates on her mysterious companion Jones as the two set off on a violent road trip through California. “First time I laid eyes on Jones” she says “I didn’t know how I would be tortured gently how I would come to rest just beneath her skin.” In “Red Cardboard Hearts Hanging From Strings” Liza reminisces on past love and a miscarriage as she marries her lover. And in “Under Her Cellophane Skin” Lemon a heroin addict living on the streets of Seattle converses with a lonely old man at a bar. Brimming with pure Americana not unlike the movies Wild at Heart or Thelma and Louise Tobias’ stories pull no punches. Readers are given descriptions of characters’ troubled mental states which like their bodies ache and ooze. “Her body’s an arsenal of anger” Tobias writes about Georgia the title story’s protagonist “enough stored for a fallout shelter with full reserves but the weight the weight she carries in pain and pounds somehow softens her sorrow consumes any energy leftover for a fight.” Tobias’ writing has strength in its hardiness and weakens when it’s trying to sweeten as in “What My Momma Knows Is True” in which a child grapples with the death of her grandmother. The strongest stories in the collection like “Monarch” are tough and unnerving and mean. And yet the book is consistently loving toward its characters as Tobias writes in a reader’s guide at the end of the book: “All characters share an ability to change relative to their wounds against harrowing transformative obstacles.” Indeed this collection carries on with the thesis that each character each person has the opportunity to grow in spite of their circumstances.


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THE RAINBOW PARADE
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Everyone has a rainbow “made up of all the things that make you happy.” As the book begins a pale-skinned black-haired child takes part in a variety of activities: having a bubble bath trying on different clothes (including overalls and a dress) and attending a Pride parade alongside adults of various races abilities and gender expressions. The mood shifts as the protagonist notices a sad-looking child curled up amid gray rain clouds. “Everyone has their own rainbow but not everyone feels comfortable letting theirs shine” we’re told. Readers are reminded “that the sun will appear again soon” and that rainbows appear “when the sun shines through the rain.” Though rainbows and other queer symbols are everywhere in Chen’s dreamy color-strewn artwork the text sticks to generalities. Pride is described as “the feeling that wraps around you like a cozy hug” and “when you are loved for being yourself.” It’s a laudable reassuring sentiment but without context from adults young readers won’t grasp the message that all LGBTQ+ identities should be celebrated though backmatter fills in some gaps. The jewel-toned illustrations are engaging and bright but the tale’s many platitudes (“Just be true to who you are!”) leave the book feeling cliched.


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OUR WORST STRENGTH
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According to Richardson some key traits lodged in the American ethos such as self-reliance and maintaining privacy seem positive but have contributed to increasing widespread isolation; trauma lessens when burdens are shared as a group but too often Americans are expected to find their own solutions. Sally a participant in the author’s study is a nurse mourning the tragic death of her sister. (Richardson uses research gleaned from a sampling of older Americans aged 45-74.) Her co-workers ignored Sally’s unhappiness until her volatile emotions began to affect her job performance. By comparison Richardson’s adopted South Indian community (he spent time in the region conducting fieldwork as a student) gave immediate “comfort and censure” to a man who had developed a drinking problem seeing his issue as the group’s responsibility. Family ties in modern America are weak and distant compared to earlier time periods and other cultures the author asserts. Canada’s Nêhiyawak people have 17 terms related to varieties of cousins; in the U.S. most people have little contact with any cousins at all. Richardson observes that even minor-seeming issues such as the ways we eat and have fun contribute to societal disconnection. With abundant specialized diets (e.g. gluten-free or vegan) available to them and unlimited access to snacks family members and friends often eat separately rather than sharing meal times. Recreation is a healthy respite from work but the idea of fun has shifted—rather than involving social interactions amusement now often falls to streaming platforms like Netflix viewed alone. Richardson effectively uses humor and personal anecdotes—his dad becomes an ongoing joke—and the book’s charts and graphs are mostly easy to read. The author’s message that we need more collectivism to be healthy again is daunting for an individualistic society but Richardson also provides glimmers of hope; for example Gen Z seems to be a more collaborative generation than its predecessors and Americans are seeking mental health treatment more often.


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THE WELL-CONNECTED ANIMAL
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Our belief in human exceptionalism has long included the dogma that we are the only animals that create complex social networks—but we are wrong. In this compelling book evolutionary biologist Dugatkin author of The Imitation Factor and Principles of Animal Behavior notes that while the study of complex non-human social networks is a fairly young discipline new research is occurring at a rapid pace. As one example we now know reciprocal altruism drives vampire bats who are most likely to share cocktails of their own blood with drinking buddies—bat friends who have done the same in the past. Another example: Dolphins help the Laguna people in Brazil by using their sonar to locate mullet; then they alert each other and nearby fishermen to the fish by slapping the water en masse sending them into nets (and smiling dolphin mouths). Barbary macaques are prosocial animals warning friends—but not acquaintances—of bad weather. Also prosocial are goats who like human teenagers have friends enemies and frenemies. The author also looks at Sonso chimpanzees who speak a rich language of more than 120 common gestures; honeybees whose “dances” direct hives to food; the “giant dolphin mugshot book” compiled by researchers showing that dolphins teach each other to use sponge tools; and silvereye birds who produce more than 60 syllables in a vernacular so expressive that neurologists study it to better comprehend the origins of the human spoken word. “It’s time to scratch off another item from the ‘what makes humans unique’ list” writes Dugatkin adding “Everywhere and in every context animals are embedded in networks.” This book makes a fitting companion to Ed Yong’s An Immense World.


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THE LION HUNT
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After stealing a cache of drugs and money from a recent raid a disillusioned Crowder is caught convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison. “Here I am putting my life on the line every fucking day doing my job while others are getting away with shit—buying new cars paying off their mortgages and credit card debt and padding their bank accounts. And me I can barely afford the mortgage payment on the dump I call a home.” Temporarily housed in a low-security detention facility Crowder realizes she can’t spend the next two decades in prison—she needs to escape as soon as possible flee the country and try to begin a new life under a new identity. Then Elena Sanchez-Gomez—the wife of the head of an infamous Mexican drug-trafficking cartel—enters the facility as a prisoner; she’s recently been convicted of the attempted murder of a Louisiana state trooper during a traffic stop. The two women soon join forces in an attempt to not only survive the many dangers of the prison system but also to try to escape cross the border into Mexico and reunite with Sanchez-Gomez’s all-powerful husband nicknamed El Leon (the Lion). Both women are cunning in their own ways: Crowder is a “dirty cop” with military and combat training and Sanchez-Gomez is a survivor of Mexico’s mean streets an orphan who’s had to kill multiple times to survive. Should the modern-day versions of Thelma and Louise eventually find a way to escape the detention faculty their path to freedom—literally more than a thousand miles into southern Mexico—will be flooded with DEA agents police officers enemy cartel members and innumerable people seeking the lucrative reward money for apprehending the two escaped convicts.

Complicating matters is El Leon’s newest drug on the market which is laced with fentanyl ecstasy and LSD and is “a hundred times more potent than prescription oxycodone.” Described as “the most dangerous drug to have ever been trafficked in the United States” the deadly new product leaves Crowder with a conflicted conscience. Her intense bond with Sanchez-Gomez is genuine but will helping her ultimately end up killing thousands of addicts in the States? The action-packed story revolves around a cast of diverse and deeply developed characters but the novel’s greatest strength comes from former trial lawyer Zappa’s ability to construct an impressively intricate storyline. The plot twists are worthy of applause and readers will find themselves riveted throughout this highly palatable fusion of police procedural and mainstream thriller. The novel also differentiates itself from comparable titles through an examination (albeit subtle) of the opioid epidemic which brings a timeliness and thematic weight to the story: “The body count from accidental overdoses continued to rise [in] the streets of more American cities. The only way to slow the emerging fentanyl epidemic was to stop the manufacture of [the] drug.”


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WEALTHIER
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The author astutely observes that while millennials generally want to retire relatively early they often adopt strategies inconsistent with that goal. Afraid of volatility they avoid the stock market and embrace far riskier alternative options like cryptocurrency investments. The good news per Solin is that most of them would be served by a simple DIY approach to investment that doesn’t rely upon costly and often exploitative financial planners. In short the author recommends buying two exchange-traded funds one populated by stocks and another by bonds; the former is an engine of growth while the latter is a bastion of security. In language accessible to even the most inexperienced investor Solin provides a thorough elaboration of this strategy covering a wide array of topics including retirement planning the dangers of nonfungible tokens and the distraction of “lottery-like returns.” He convincingly argues that financial media is profoundly unreliable and that professional investors are often deeply incentivized to betray the interests of their clients. Unfortunately Solin follows the business-book trend of gratuitously and shallowly citing the findings of contemporary neuroscience and furnishes this ludicrous counsel regarding the alleged tyranny of the amygdala: “Engage logical thinking. The amygdala hijack overrides rational thought so it’s essential to engage your analytical mind consciously. Remind yourself of the facts and consider the situation more objectively.” (Of course if the amygdala truly commandeers rational thought the willed effort to think rationally is absurd.) Despite this tedious detour the book does offer an abundance of “sound no-nonsense wisdom.” Solin is entirely right in asserting that the average investor simply does not need a surfeit of professional financial guidance and that his simple strategies are likely appropriate for most.


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NOLA'S BLACK DOVE
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Against the sultry jazzy backdrop of New Orleans attorney Noel Corbin also known as Crow has struggled with sobriety and dedicated his career to helping those who get a raw deal in the city’s corrupt legal system. Crow has been a lawyer for the Cajun mafia and local opinions of him are mixed. (A Tulane professor tells him “I’ve heard you’re a free spirit representing various entertainers gamblers nonconformists and the occasional civil rights case using dubious methods.”) A colleague approaches Crow with a perplexing case: An evidently biracial child named Dove is caught in an absurd legal limbo due to the south’s racist laws. Her mother was white but died soon after childbirth and Dove’s birth certificate lists the baby as white. A Black couple wishes to adopt Dove but cannot as the law disallows interracial adoption. The state refuses to change the birth certificate until the presumably Black father comes forward. Crow is troubled by the story and upon meeting the prospective parents assures them he has the contacts within (and outside of) government to give them a fighting chance. So far the state has refused to budge but Crow pulls from every resource he can think of to find a way for this family to have the happiness they deserve. Martinez’s legal drama based on a real case in Louisiana has an imperfect but likable protagonist in Crow whose Cajun roots and legal career make the story a lively love letter to the local culture and a damning indictment of the era’s racial policies. The author’s wry sensibility regarding the legal system’s corruption is amusing and illuminating while the absurdity of Dove’s specific case is described in a matter-of-fact common-sense way. The novel drags somewhat in the middle as the characters await the trial but the unexpected conclusion feels authentic.


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THOMAS JEFFERSON'S BATTLE FOR SCIENCE
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While Jefferson and the other American revolutionaries fought for independence from Britain he undertook a lesser-known battle—against scientific misinformation. Jefferson loved the natural world: He collected fossils and bones and took pride in accurately measuring everything from air temperature to the weight of catfish. So it was galling to him when French scientist Count Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon published an encyclopedia declaring the New World “swampy and cold” with small bears and “puny” wolves—inferior to Europe. Anderson cleverly juxtaposes Buffon’s faulty scientific claims alongside Jefferson’s colorful outrage: “Hogwash!” “Poppycock!” She succinctly lays out Jefferson’s critique: Buffon had never been to the New World—was he biased? Where did he get his information? To convince Buffon of his errors Jefferson sought evidence—measurements of New World animals pelts to prove their existence even an actual moose. Holmes wittily presents Jefferson’s inquiries through comic-book panels depicting heads exploding with arguments set against sepia-colored notebook pages. In an author’s note Anderson calls out Jefferson for his bias as the owner of enslaved persons and for his lack of forethought in how Americans’ exploration of the Louisiana Purchase would affect Indigenous people.


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FINDING THINGS
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“If you found a little ball on the grass and it was there for days you could take it home.” Using “if” statements like this similar to those found in beloved books such as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (1985) Henkes relies on far simpler storytelling. The book zeroes in on four objects: a ball a flower a box and a kitten in that order. With each acquisition we learn under what circumstances the “you” of the story could take it home (the kitten in particular requires the most caveats) and in the end the box flower and ball all turn out to be things that serve the kitten very well. The final sentence is a succinct “Everyone would be happy.” And everyone is. Using no more words than you might find in a beginning reader Henkes once again demonstrates his mastery for boiling a story down to its most essential parts. Dronzek depicts a cast of three (a child with lightly tanned skin a dog and the small white kitten); each of her images is compartmentalized into neat boxes and panels all painted with bright acrylic colors that pop off the page. Each element is as accessible as it is ripe for speculation.


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LUNAR BOY
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The child who has dark brown skin and wavy white hair lives happily with his adoptive hijabi mother and her loving spaceship community. When he becomes confused about his identity his unconditionally loving mother suggests he start by choosing a new name since the old one doesn’t fit. Now Indu Wulandari Muliadi and his mom are moving to New Earth where his mom is getting married. Indu struggles with having a stepfather and stepsiblings and feels isolated because he doesn’t know Bahasa Indonesia well. A school pen pal assignment matches him with Chinese Indonesian Noah Wong a bisexual 12-year-old and they become friends. Indu who’s gay might even have a crush on him—but then Noah suddenly stops talking to him. A devastated Indu feels hopelessly alone. When the Moon hears his cries and offers Indu a chance to come home on New Year’s and leave the pain behind he decides to go. Knowing that he’s leaving Indu tries to make his remaining months on New Earth different which opens him up to unexpected friendships and places and the beauty of his new home and family. This luminously illustrated graphic novel offers readers a lovely story of change understanding identity and belonging. Indu meets other trans people and discovers an incredible queer community. Indonesian culture is woven throughout the text and the stunning artwork.


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TINY TALES
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A group of creatures including a ladybug a roly-poly a snail and a couple of slugs watch the sunset. Firefly shows up and encourages the others to stay up late to see the moonflower bloom. “Bedtime can wait” they decide as Firefly leads them through the forest. At first they startle at the nighttime sounds of owls and frogs but soon find them soothing like a lullaby. “I never thought of it that way before” muses Firefly. Later Firefly uses its flash to help turn unexpected and seemingly frightening shadows into playful shadow puppets. But will they make it to the moonflower in time? Maybe not but what really matters is that these pals have spent time together. Even better Firefly has learned to see nighttime in a whole new light. As in Tiny Tales: Shell Quest (2021) Waldo makes her cast of creepy-crawlies downright endearing; fans will recognize the snail and the slugs from her previous title. The colorful creatures pop effectively against the deep purples of the night. With just a few panels per page and a limited word count this short comic will please comics newbies; those in need of some guidance will appreciate the brief explanation of how to read a comic.


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IN THIS FAMILY
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Speaking directly to the infant the narrator says that this family speaks Hindi English and some Spanish. “My name is Narayan” the young narrator says. “We have named you Uma.” The narratorial voice then appears to shift as other members share their perspectives including maternal grandparents who call themselves Nana and Nani and love to tell riddles and serve boondi ki raita a great-grandmother who lives in New Delhi a paternal grandmother who enjoys gardening and making spaghetti and turkey meatballs and a paternal grandfather who lives in Sister Bay Wisconsin and takes the child to Al Johnson’s for cherry-stuffed French toast. Uma’s dark-skinned mother explains that although Uma’s lighter skin tone makes it hard for people to see the similarities between the two of them they are still a family. And while strangers may call the family “half-and-half” they are in fact a beautiful diverse whole. Imbued with a frank child-friendly sense of optimism this lyrical tale conveys the challenges of being part of a multiracial family. Though the shifts between narrators can be confusing—a problem that’s sometimes aided by the illustrations—overall it’s a wonderful tribute to family. Patel’s earth-toned artwork swirls with energetic linework as young Uma matures over the course of the story.


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GOOSEBERRY
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Twelve-year-old B has lived unhappily in various foster homes since their parents’ deaths. Nonbinary trans and undecided on their new name B also grapples with their emotional anxious neurodiverse brain. At school B endures queerphobic bullying and academic struggles but has a tight friend group. When Humane Society runaway Gooseberry charges in to comfort a crying B at a block party B knows it’s fate. Fortunately B’s new foster moms Jodie and Eri agree. After all B’s dream is to be a dog trainer. Gooseberry tests B to their limits—hiding snapping and escaping—but B also has more to learn about dog training than they realized. B refuses to give up though and Jodie and Eri refuse to give up on B. Evocative metaphors illuminate B’s thought processes for readers as B wrestles with a world that’s not calibrated for their autism or their gender identity. Gooseberry is often B’s emotional mirror benefiting as much from B’s devotion as B benefits from having accepting supportive parents. Readers might be surprised however that the Humane Society would adopt out a highly reactive dog to inexperienced dog owners with a rule-breaking kid. B and their foster moms seem to be white and Eri is trans; there’s racial and gender diversity among the supporting cast.


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THE ART OF DYING
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Schjeldahl (1942-2022) was best known as an art critic a role he held at the New Yorker right up until his death at the age of 80. He made the East Village his home for most of his life but his roots were in the Midwest—a fact that perhaps explains why he was able to make art accessible without dumbing it down or pandering. The title essay was published after he was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer. The author writes about his life in a discursive style that he has as an elderly man facing death surely earned but these vignettes hang together and offer a portrait of a life spent in search of beauty in an era largely defined by cynicism. Always a keen observer Schjeldahl manages the neat trick of seeming to place himself outside the frame even when he serves as his own subject. For example he recounts winning a Guggenheim grant to pen a memoir that never happened because he used that money to buy a tractor—rather than time to write. Relating this story he quotes Susan Sontag whom he recounts meeting in another anecdote that seems more self-effacing than it is. This author knows his place in cultural history and he wants us to remember it; he just doesn’t want to brag about it. The rest of this volume includes Schjeldahl’s final pieces for the New Yorker many written during the global pandemic a time when the author was uniquely equipped to talk about how we might think about art in the face of death. In the foreword Steve Martin notes “It’s easy to think you can write like Peter intrepidly flinging words around but it’s dangerous.”


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NO. 5 BUBBLEGUM STREET
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An insect narrator offers readers a peek into apartments filled with baking monkeys a houseplant-hoarding panther a family of musical spiders an adventure-loving hippo and many more creative creatures all living side by side as friends and neighbors. Translated from Polish this slice-of-life story sequentially introduces the inhabitants of each household all of whom contribute their special talents to a party at the end. Young readers may lose interest with the slow pace and sometimes wordy descriptions. Still it’s worth taking the time to pore over the lively detailed illustrations rendered in bold colors in a charmingly childlike hand-drawn style. Each apartment is as unique as its residents and many characters have a signature color or two such as Mouse’s bright red-orange decor the soothing blues and greens of Panther’s plants and the gray and black hues used to depict Bat’s home. Everything comes together in a riot of color and pattern at the party. Many pages feature multiple small labeled vignettes reminiscent of Richard Scarry’s Busytown books. The book also makes fun use of sound; birds squeak and tweet Hippo snores and the spiders play a homemade “accordiohorn.” In their joyful coexistence these very different neighbors gently model acceptance and kindness.


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FIVE DAYS IN BOGOTÁ
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Ally Blake a widowed mother of two and owner of a financially strapped art gallery in San Diego risks everything to exhibit at a Bogotá art fair and hopefully make it big. Specializing in Latin American art she’s joined by Uruguayan artist Mateo Lugano who’s also hoping to get his big break at the fair. After struggling to get her crates full of valuable art—on which her livelihood depends—free from customs Ally notices additional paintings have been added to her collection. To her astonishment the two mystery paintings are by Ponce Goméz one of the most recognizable painters in the world whose pieces go for millions. It’s revealed that David Martinez an ex-boyfriend of Ally’s working in the U.S. State Department is in Bogotá conveniently at the same time that she discovers the Gomézes. After some prodding David reveals that the American government has involved her in an off-the-books operation whose details are revealed later. Another shocking twist which increases the tension of the already high-stakes narrative involves none other than the notorious drug trafficker Pablo Escobar. Moore’s previous book Attribution (2022) also involved stolen art but this book presents a detailed behind-the-scenes look at those who deal in paintings of a different era while also offering all the elements of a nail-biting thriller. The author drives the narrative with the fact that Ally ultimately has no desire to add fuel to revolutionary fire in yet another South American country. It results in a pulse-pounding game of cat-and-mouse as she tries to avoid operatives of the U.S. government and the deadly cartel as well as seedy art dealers trying to get their hands on the paintings.


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BLUE RUIN
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Kunzru’s seventh novel is narrated by Jay who in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic is in ill health getting by delivering groceries in upstate New York. His route takes him to an estate that’s coincidentally occupied by Alice a former flame and her husband Rob Jay’s one-time art school rival. Alice is disinclined to bring him into their pod for fear of infection—or of stoking old drama—so instead hides him in a barn while his health improves. In the weeks that follow Jay recalls the messiness of their relationships three decades prior: He and Alice were once inseparable and he and Rob competed in British art school but were also friendly bonded by ambition and drugs. But as their art world fortunes diverged Jay’s despair and drug use intensified prompting Alice to leave him for Rob. Kunzru cannily withholds a few details about this dynamic but from the start the novel is a study of the complications of art money and identity. Is Rob more free as an artist for having access to wealthy patrons? Does Jay have more integrity for sabotaging his art world prospects? And why do muses like Alice absorb so much abuse up on that pedestal? This novel completes a kind of trilogy by Kunzru on contemporary social crises from systemic racism (White Tears 2017) to neofascism (Red Pill 2020) to here Gilded Age income inequality topped off with paranoia and misinformation. The love triangle plot is a bit potted and tonally and thematically Kunzru is borrowing from Martin Amis’ 1980s work. But it’s a lively ever-intensifying story as Jay weaves in discussions of race immigration work and what it means to earn a living. It’s a darkly ironic tale of two bubbles—an art world divorced from economic reality and a Covid era that segregated us from society.


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STORY OF THE EVERYTHING, THE NOTHING, AND OTHER STRANGE STORIES
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Translated from Hungarian this unique picture book consisting of short stories challenges young readers to think outside the box and ponder the nature of the world we live in as well as the limitless opportunities of the worlds we don’t. Each tale starts off with the time-honored “Once upon a time” and is accompanied by a dreamlike collage illustration. The first half of the collection features existential stories that focus on “nothing” “anything” and “everything” while the second half consists of more straightforward fablelike narratives that tackle the larger concepts highlighted in the earlier stories. Many (though not all) of the tales ask readers related questions highlighted in an all-caps bolded font: “What else do you think wasn’t in this nothing?” “This is an unfinished story. How would you tell it?” This is a lofty attempt to show young readers the infinite nature of our world; many of the concepts will go over the heads of those most likely to pick this book up. The illustrations waffle between fanciful and bizarre potentially putting young readers further off. Older readers who might be able to comprehend the complex subject matter may be turned off by the format.


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MAN'S BEST FRIEND
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Twenty-nine-year-old El is used to living on the fringes. She spent her teen years in Manhattan in a cramped apartment with her single mother and her mother’s best friend sharing a bedroom with the friend’s son. She received financial aid to attend a prestigious private school filled with ultrarich students but had only tangential access to their lives of quiet luxury. Even now El can’t break through in her career as an actor instead working in a bakery and trying to figure out her next move. When El’s old classmate Julia unexpectedly offers an invitation to a party at her family’s East Hampton home El can’t resist returning to that tony world even for just one night. It’s there that El meets Bryce a Cambridge graduate from a filthy rich family who is immediately and intensely taken with her. Though El isn’t particularly attracted to Bryce’s looks or personality she’s attracted to what being with him brings—the life of ease and financial security she’s always wanted. When the two quickly move in together El begins to lose touch with the world outside her relationship quitting her job dumping her roommate and ghosting her friends—just as Bryce’s true nature starts coming to light. The author is deft at creating a tense atmosphere—complete with suspicious characters sinister motivations disturbing events and an off-kilter narrator—that will keep readers turning the pages. But the lackluster conclusion strains credulity and a symbolic thread that runs throughout the novel—dogs across the country are running away from and rebelling against their owners—is unsuccessful and ultimately has no bearing on the plot.


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NATIONAL ARCHIVE HUNTERS
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Icarus “Ike” Carter is a genius who sometimes tunes out when it comes to reading emotions; Iris his sister is a superior athlete with a photographic memory and spatial awareness to spare. Together with their museum curator mom and former Army officer dad (who’s now a Montessori school principal) they run and bike their way around D.C.’s monuments and historic sites every day. When an impressively acrobatic girl steals a miniature portrait of George Washington from their mom’s cash-strapped museum Ike and Iris hatch a plan: solve the crime and save the museum by making the recovered portrait the center of an attention-grabbing new exhibit “The Stolen Washington.” The FBI gets involved the underage criminal pulls off heists in Philadelphia and Boston and the twins even become suspects themselves. As this case wraps up the family accepts an offer to consult with the FBI in the future. Ike and Iris alternate as narrators allowing their strengths to complement each other (even if Iris thinks Ike’s explanation of Occam’s razor is a “snooze-fest”). The action is nonstop as these fifth graders outthink a seasoned FBI agent sprint through crowded streets and even shimmy down a marble porch column with aplomb. The Carters are cued white.


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woman-stock-portrait "Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."G.K. Chesterton.

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