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Recent Book Reviews

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Marbles: mania, depression, Michelangelo, + me

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Forney, Ellen(2012)Recently Added Review
Marbles: mania, depression, Michelangelo, + me

Marbles is the memoir of cartoonist Ellen Forney which covers her diagnosis with and subsequent treatment of Bipolar Disorder. The graphic novel spans from Forney’s thirtieth birthday forward as she struggles with mania, depression, medication side effects, and everything in between. Along the way Forney explores the possible connections between her illness and her creativity, going so far as to research artists from the past who exhibited traits of Bipolar Disorder. Though the memoir deals with serious topics, Forney manages to keep the work filled with an equal mix of levity and of hope. This is an important book for anyone trying to gain some insight into this little understood illness or for anyone who is currently suffering and looking for someone to relate to.

Reviewed by Sarah F., Matthews Branch

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Masaryk Station

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Downing, David(2013)Recently Added Review
Masaryk Station

The Cold War steadily replaces World War II as the sixth and final installment of the masterfully-forged John Russell series finds our reluctant hero in 1948 Berlin. He is still spying for both Soviet and Western occupiers, trapped in an ever more deadly ideological struggle between the erstwhile allies. Rapidly-expanding tension raises fears of yet another, even more devastating global conflict. Russell, understandably grown more cynical by it all, is ready to retire, but because his debt to the Russians seems never to be satisfied, quitting carries a potentially fatal risk. Continuing, however, obviously carries equal or greater peril – from all sides. A Russian defector with evidence incriminating a Soviet security chief may offer a way out, provided Russell is willing to take the ultimate and, perhaps, final risk.

Reviewed by Jim B.

Patron Review This book review was submitted on-line by a Reader's Club patron.

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Heroin Diaries

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Sixx, Nikki(2007)Recently Added Review
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Heroin Diaries

Nikki Sixx, bassist and founding member of metal band Mötley Crüe, describes his harrowing journey in and out of addiction through his journal entries written over the course of a year at the height of the band`s stardom. Interspersed with the comments and observations of bandmates, friends, lovers and others, this book goes beyond the clichéd rock star tell-all and exposes the introspective, almost spiritual side of a man who literally lived and died for the fast life of fame. The journal entries are raw, painful and disturbing, like a train wreck you can’t look away from, but the conclusion will ultimately have you rooting for Sixx’s tentatively hopeful, continued sober future.

Reviewed by Jori F., Steele Creek Branch

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Lehrter Station

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Downing, David(2012)Recently Added Review
Lehrter Station

Downing’s fifth John Russell novel describes the British-American journalist’s attempt to fulfill his obligation to the Soviets who rescued his family during the war. NKVD agents approach Russell and order him to return to occupation-divided Berlin and assess Germany’s political, especially socialist, tendencies. In addition, and more perilously important, he must convince American Intelligence that he, though a Russian agent assigned to spy on them, is willing to turn double-agent . . . while still, in fact, continuing to spy for the NKVD. This triple-cross, along with the hero’s more humanistic endeavors on behalf of refugees and missing persons, not to mention the author’s fascinating evocation of wartime German train stations, will delight fans, seasoned or new, of this excellent series.

Reviewed by Jim B.

Patron Review This book review was submitted on-line by a Reader's Club patron.

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Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America's Gutsiest Troublemakers

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Offerman, Nick( 2015)Recently Added Review
Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America's Gutsiest Troublemakers

Following the success of his autobiography, Paddle Your Own Canoe, Nick Offerman returns with this bite-sized biography collection of America’s gutsiest pioneers. From well-known founding fathers such as George Washington to the modern day comedy trailblazers like Conan O’Brien, Offerman offers personal insights, little-known facts, and snarky humor with every enlightening entry. Fans of his overly-masculine Parks & Recreation character Ron Swanson will be delighted at his many digressions involving woodworking, outdoorsmanship, and, of course, meat. However, Gumption offers much more than Swanson witticisms; each of the twenty-one groundbreakers remind us of the great strength and originality required to build and sustain our country.

Reviewed by Kaitlyn M., Morrison Regional

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Cabin Lessons: A Nail-By-Nail Tale

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Carlsen, Spike(2015)Recently Added Review
Cabin Lessons: A Nail-By-Nail Tale

Spike Carlsen, seasoned writer, handyman and editor takes us on an unforgettable ride as he tells his story of building a family cabin on Lake Superior’s rough shoreline. The story is as much a tale of how to build a new marriage and blend the lives of five teenagers, as it gives true to life practical building advice. With an eye on preserving the natural beauty of the area and keeping things simple while being able to view the lake from every space, the Carlsens were able to build a 600 sq ft cabin through careful planning and lots of wedded compromise. Throughout the narration Carlsen shares his own life failures and victories and those of his new family with wit and warmth.

Reviewed by Annette N., Independence Regional

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Dog Tags

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Rosenfelt, David(2010)Recently Added Review
Dog Tags

Part pet rescue, part mystery and all page turner, Dog Tags is the perfect pool side companion. Rosenfelt’s lazy (and proud of it) attorney, Andy Carpenter, agrees to take on the case of a veteran and ex-cop under arrest for murder and his former canine police partner turned accomplice. With the evidence against him, blocked by bureaucracy at every turn, and an unknown, never miss assassin always a step ahead, Andy knows that this no simple street crime. An intricate conspiracy begins to emerge reaching back into the past and around the globe. Never one to let a client, or a dog, down Andy assembles his own investigative dream team for a dogged pursuit of the truth.

Reviewed by Rita L., Independence Regional

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The B-Side:The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American Songbook

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Yagoda, Ben(2015)Recently Added Review
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The B-Side:The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American Songbook

Did Rock-n-Roll really kill music? Mr. Yagoda presents some compelling arguments against this theory, beginning with the fact that Patti Page’s “How Much is That Doggie in the Window” was a #1 hit for 8 weeks in 1953. Tin Pan Alley and its factory like atmosphere as well as fights over copyright payments helped contribute to the demise of music heard on the airwaves after WWII. Turns out copyright fights over intellectual property is nothing new. This book is an enjoyable read for the casual music listener.

Reviewed by Gina D., Main Library

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Until Thy Wrath Be Past

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Larsson, Asa(2011)Recently Added Review
Until Thy Wrath Be Past

Students Wilma Persson and her boyfriend have been missing for months when, during northern Sweden’s spring thaw, Wilma’s body surfaces in a local river. While her death is assumed to be accidental, Wilma has already informed the reader otherwise, and in a dream, also suggests as much to prosecutor Rebecka Martinsson. By mid-volume, the crime is solved: why and how it was committed now become central. Such an early solution is unique in mystery writing; but so is the depth of characterization, the frigid setting, and the connection of the crime to Sweden’s long-ago collaboration with Nazi Germany. Unique, too, are Wilma’s ghostly comments and their contribution to the narrative. Fourth in the Rebecka Martinsson series, this exceptionally compelling book stands perfectly well on its own.

Reviewed by Jim B.

Patron Review This book review was submitted on-line by a Reader's Club patron.

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The Miniaturist

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Burton, Jessie(2014)Recently Added Review
The Miniaturist

In Holland in 1686, .01% of the population holds 42% of the wealth. Eighteen-year-old Nella is the brand-new wife of a member of that .01%. As a wedding gift, her husband, Johannes, gives her a miniature version of their house, and blank checks to spend on furnishing it. Nella will navigate her new life with Johannes, his sister Marin, and their two servants as she learns about Johannes` work at the Dutch East India Trading Company. Working with a merchant known only as the miniaturist to furnish her miniature house, Nella will discover that with each new miniature furnished another secret of the houses` residents is revealed. Who is the miniaturist? Will Nella`s life be better or worse for knowing the full truth?

Reviewed by Marie H., ImaginOn

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