Educated: a Memoir by Tara Westover

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#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An unforgettable memoir about a young girl who, kept out of school, leaves her survivalist family and goes on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University

I was enthralled and moved by this powerful memoir. The author grew up in a survivalist family in Idaho, the youngest child. She was not homeschooled—instead, she simply didn’t go to school at all, due to her father’s mistrust of public schools. Her family didn’t believe in modern medicine. Instead, her mother was an herbalist and midwife. The memoir becomes a story of her internal struggle—to believe her own version of her life and to have the strength to break away from her past.

“The extremity of Westover’s upbringing emerges gradually through her telling, which only makes the telling more alluring and harrowing.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Incredibly thought-provoking . . . so much more than a memoir about a woman who graduated college without a formal education. It is about a woman who must learn how to learn.”The Harvard Crimson

“At its heart, her memoir is a family history: not just a tale of overcoming but an uncertain elegy to the life that she ultimately rejected. Westover manages both tenderness and a savage honesty that spares no one, not even herself.”Booklist

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Something Like Happy by Eva Woods

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A sweet story of love and friendship with a wonderful overall message; if you liked Jojo Moyes “Me Before You” you’ll like this too.

“Delightful page-turning awaits readers, even with Polly’s inevitable finale. Polly is a wonderful character with a positively infectious attitude-memorable and magnetic, with a healthy dose of gallows humor. Joy shines through the tears, as this novel is a life lesson that should not be ignored.” – Publisher Weekly

“Something like Happy is inspiration in a bottle. Author Woods uses her novel- inspired by a social-media hashtag-to explore the exhilaration of new friendship, the power of loss, and the evergreen tendrils of hope.” –Booklist

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Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

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This is a fun, twisty murder mystery within a murder mystery.  It’s got some hallmarks of a classic Agatha Christie and a touch of the modern thriller as well.  Two mysteries for the price of one, and both are very engrossing.

Each of the narratives in Magpie Murders is engaging and fluid, each with its own charm, though Horowitz’s joyful act of Christie ventriloquism is, in particular, spectacularly impressive. – Washington Post

Magpie Murders is an ingenious, twisting tribute to the sleepy English countryside murder and will thoroughly entertain readers of old fashioned detective thrillers. – New York Journal of Book

An ingenious funhouse mirror of a novel sets a vintage ‘cozy’ mystery inside a modern frame – Wall Street Journal

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The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson

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I stopped reading another great book when I read the review of this book. Within pages I was hooked!  A captivating true crime story of an unlikely thief (a 20 year old, American concert flute player) and his even more unlikely crime (breaking into the Tring Museum –home to the largest and oldest ornithological collections in the world)  in 2010 in London.  The author is relentless in his pursuit of the facts, the thief(s), and the appalling greed for our natural treasures.  I can’t stop thinking about it. Put this title on hold at the library!

“This extraordinary book exposes an international underground that traffics in rare and precious natural resources, yet was previously unknown to all but a few. A page-turning read you won’t soon forget, The Feather Thief tells us as much about our cultural priorities as it does about the crimes themselves. There’s never been anything like it.”  —Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs

“A fascinating book . . . the kind of intelligent reported account that alerts us to a threat and that, one hopes, will never itself be endangered.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Captivating…Everything the author touches in this thoroughly engaging true-crime tale turns to storytelling gold. . . . Johnson’s flair for telling an engrossing story is, like the beautiful birds he describes, exquisite. . . . A superb tale about obsession, nature, and man’s ‘unrelenting desire to lay claim to its beauty, whatever the cost.’”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

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The Power by Naomi Alderman

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What happens when women suddenly inherit unlimited power which allows them to inflict pain and/or death to anyone who tries to attack them? Teenage girls start to run amok and the patriarchy is turned on its head for starters…but is the world where women are in charge more peaceful and less violent? The author goes to the extreme to make some points, but there is very interesting social commentary in this one.

“I was riveted by every page. Alderman’s prose is immersive and, well, electric, and I felt a closed circuit humming between the book and me as I read.”―Amal El-MohtarNew York Times Book Review

“Sometimes lightning does strike the same place twice. Sometimes it strikes a whole bunch of times. In Orange Award winner Naomi Alderman’s chilling The Power, women across the globe discover a sudden ability to harness their aggression by inflicting electric shocks through their fingertips. Fans of speculative fiction (see also: Margaret Atwood and Ben Marcus) about empowered youth will be struck by Alderman’s speedy and thorough inhabitation of a world just different enough from ours to jolt the imagination.”  – Sloane CrosleyVanity Fair

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Raven Black by Ann Cleeves

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When murder strikes a remote hamlet in the Shetland Islands, and the body of a teenage girl turns up in the winter snow, Inspector Jimmy Perez launches an investigation into the killing that takes him into the heart of sinister secrets from the past.

Book One of the Shetland Island Quartet (Shetland Island Mysteries)

“Chilling…enough to freeze the blood.” —Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review

“Deserves the top crime writer’s prize in the United States this year. Don’t miss this standout.” —Rocky Mountain News

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The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman

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This is one of my favorite non-fiction books “that reads like fiction”. When Lia Lee, the 13th child in a family of Hmong refugees who had settled in Merced, was three months old, she was diagnosed with severe epilepsy. The series of events that cascaded from this diagnosis illustrate the potential thorniness of cross cultural interactions. Everyone wanted the best for Lia – especially her devoted parents and the dedicated doctors and staff at the hospital where she was repeatedly treated.

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest, and the Salon Book Award

“Superb, informal cultural anthropology–eye-opening, readable, utterly engaging.” ―Carole Horn, The Washington Post Book World

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down changed how doctors see themselves and how they see their patients. Anne Fadiman celebrates the complexity and the individuality of the human interactions that make up the practice of medicine while simultaneously pointing out directions for change and breaking readers’ hearts with the tragedies of cultural displacement, medical limitations, and futile good intentions.” ―Perri Klass, M.D., author of A Not Entirely Benign Procedure

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The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

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I loved this book, full of sibling love, magic, and fate. In 1969, 4 siblings (ages 13, 11, 9, and 7) living in NYC hear about a psychic who not only can tell you your fortune, but also the day that you will die. I disagreed with some turns the author took, but overall thought it was very good.

“A family saga about love, destiny, living life and making choices that will cause readers to consider what to do with the time given them on this earth.”—The Huffington Post

“Chloe Benjamin is a novelist to watch….The Immortalists weaves together philosophy and fortune-telling, to great effect….As deft and dizzying as a high-wire act…the reader is beguiled with unexpected twists and stylish, crisp prose….Unwittingly, this ambitious, unorthodox tale may change you too.”—The Economist

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Verdict of Twelve (British Library Crime Classics) by Raymond Postgate

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Since its first publication in 1940, Verdict of Twelve has been widely hailed as a classic of British crime writing. This edition offers a new generation of readers the chance to find out why so many leading commentators have admired the novel for so long.

“Verdict of Twelve is a superb piece of writing and makes other horror stories seem flat and undiscerning.” — New Yorker

The prosecution and defense present their cases, and the jury retires to consider aspects of the evidence that would startle the court. The characters are well drawn, at times frighteningly so, and the ending is perversely satisfying.  – Publishers Weekly

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The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

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Kristin Hannah, author of The Nightingale, has done it again.  A troubled family consisting of thirteen year old Leni and her parents Ernt and Cora, sets off to Alaska in the 1970’s hoping to find happiness and fulfillment.  But they find that the harsh reality of the long dark winter is an unsympathetic teacher. The family learns the terrible truth that there is no one to save them but themselves.  A classic coming of age story and survival saga that is highly readable.  This book will make you enjoy the Nor’easters of 2018!

Alaska itself and its wildness and beauty is as much a character in this book as the people who are brave enough to live there. “In the vast expanse of this unpredictable wilderness, you will either become your best self and flourish, or you will run away, screaming from the dark and cold and the hardship.  There is no middle ground, no safe place, not here, in the Great Alone.” — Kristin Hannah.   Beauty versus violence.  An excellent read.

“Hannah vividly evokes the natural beauty and danger of Alaska and paints a compelling portrait of a family in crisis and a community on the brink of change.” ―Booklist

“There are many great things about this book…It will thrill her fans with its combination of Greek tragedy, Romeo and Juliet-like coming of age story and domestic potboiler. She recreates in magical detail the lives of Alaska’s homesteaders…and is just as specific and authentic in her depiction of the spiritual wounds of post-Vietnam America. A tour de force.” ―Kirkus (starred review)

“Hannah skillfully situates the emotional family saga in the events and culture of the late ’70s… But it’s her tautly drawn characters―Large Marge, Genny, Mad Earl, Tica, Tom―who contribute not only to Leni’s improbable survival but to her salvation amid her family’s tragedy.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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