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Books Outside the Binary

Wed, 12/02/2020 - 2:33pm by mrajraspn08

Most people have heard of transgender people, and transitioning to male and female. But what about when you're “other”? That's an option! Here are some books to present these identities to others, and to familiarize yourself with the options.

They/Them/Their is a handy guide to those just learning about nonbinary identities. It discusses some of the options and how gender isn't necessarily an either/or option.

While Born Both is about intersex people, it also is a great read for anyone who doesn't feel exactly male or female. Hida Viloria walks through her journey upon finding out she's intersex as she begins exploring all sides to this identity and becomes an advocate for those outside the binary.

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The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen

Mon, 11/23/2020 - 5:38pm by samanthar


Book coverThe Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen is more than a book of recipes; it’s an education, exploration, and exaltation of seasonal, indigenous American food.  Author and chef Sean Sherman has worked to decolonize the Indigenous diet by tracing the history of foods and their introduction to the first people. There is no white flour, sugar, or dairy in this cookbook - only authentic Indigenous ingredients that have evidence of being utilized in America before European influence. While there were many unfamiliar ingredients to me - like juniper and sunchokes- there was plenty of the familiar, too, like sweet corn and squash. Chef Sherman encourages homecooks to go out to your local farmer’s market and find ingredients that are in season and close to your kitchen, and incorporate or substitute them into the recipes. The focus stays on the fundamentals of food, with the recipes organized into chapters based on where ingredients are gathered, like Fields and Gardens, and Prairies and Lakes. Even if you don’t plan on making any of the recipes featured, the beautiful photos and Sherman’s informative writing is well worth checking out. I especially enjoyed reading through and seeing the beautiful photography, the special attention paid to every ingredient, and the anecdotes and informative stories sprinkled throughout. 

                                                     Excerpt from book

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100 Reasons to be Thankful in 2020

Mon, 11/23/2020 - 11:45am by muffy


New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2020, a greatly anticipated annual list since 1968 that covers fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, poetry and stories. Just announced today is the 10 Best Books of 2020.


During this live streaming event, the 10 New York Times book editors each gave an impassioned endorsement for their personal favorites that did not make the list. Here they are:

Kirkus Reviews:  Best Books of 2020: 100 favorite fiction titles this year, as well as the 100 Best Picture Books for young readers. 

Time Magazine: The 100 Must-Read Books of 2020 - “Fiction, nonfiction and poetry that deepened our understanding, ignited our curiosity and helped us escape.”

Library Journal: Best Books 2020: Worst Year, Best Books, 144 titles across 15 categories will help get libraries and readers through to better days.


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Friends & Strangers: J. Courtney Sullivan's Diverting New Novel

Mon, 11/23/2020 - 10:35am by eapearce


Book cover image for Friends and Strangers

In J. Courtney Sullivan's latest novel, Friends and Strangers, she continues to demonstrate her ability to paint complex portraits of women at different stages of life. Sullivan is the author of four well-received previous novels, including Maine, Commencement, The Engagements and Saints for All Occasions. While some of these are set in the present day and some are historical fiction, all ask questions of their female characters that are deeply relevant to women then and now: do I want to become a mother? What if I don't want to become a mother? What if I regret becoming a mother? Should I get married? Should I stay with my partner when things aren't working? How can and should I support myself and my family?

Friends and Strangers asks these questions and more of two main characters, new mother Elisabeth and her college-aged nanny, Sam. Despite coming from very different backgrounds and being over a decade different in age, the two bond quickly. But each woman is dealing with some personal struggles and working to decide what trajectory to take in life. Elisabeth endured a series of brutal fertility treatments to have her first and only child, and now her husband wants another, but she isn't sure, especially because she's keeping a secret from her husband that she wants to share with him but doesn't know how. Sam met an older British man when she was visiting a friend in London and he wants to get married as soon as she graduates from college, preventing her from pursuing her dream career. Over the course of the book, both women make decisions and mistakes that lead to changes in their relationship to loved ones and each other, and ultimately to a surprising rift.

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The Night Parade

Wed, 11/18/2020 - 3:15pm by -alex-

The Night Parade follows the adventures of a young Japanese teenager as she navigates the real and spiritual realms of a traditional village.  If you're a fan of films like Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away then you'll find lots to love here.

Book cover.  A group of otherworldly spirits walk under a tree.On a fateful summer vacation, young Saki leaves her friends and the city behind to visit her grandmother in the family’s ancestral village.  Caught between a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine, Saki’s grandmother’s house becomes the jumping-off point in a wild adventure through the human and spirit worlds when Saki accidentally triggers a death curse.  Who can you trust when the local spirits and the neighborhood teenagers all have agendas of their own?  Can Saki break the curse in time, or will doom fall on her family and on the colorful cast of spirits she’s met along the way?  With only three nights to make things right, Saki finds herself locked in a race against time.

Author Kathryn Tanquary deftly mixes the real-world truth of depopulation and decline in rural communities all across Japan, along with tribulations of family life that would be recognizable to everyone who has ever been a kid or a teenager.  Added to this is a thrilling, sometimes funny and always heart-warming odyssey through ordinary mountain paths and an infinitely grander, far stranger world hiding just slightly beyond what we can see. 

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #759, “Roommates are like a box of cheap fireworks, you never know what they will do next.” ~ Kilroy J. Oldster

Mon, 11/16/2020 - 8:37pm by muffy


Here are 2 of the Top 10 Romance Debuts picked by Booklist

The Roommate * * by American expat Rosie Danan (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook)

Overeducated, underemployed Connecticut socialite Clara Wheaton takes an impulsive leap of faith moving cross-country to house-share with childhood crush Elliott Bloom, only to find herself unceremoniously deposited at Elliot’s doorstep as he speeds off to tour with his band. Disappointment becomes resentment when she finds Elliott has rented out his room for the summer. An internet search reveals that her new roommate is none other than heart-throb porn star Josh Darling. 

Their easy rapport and budding friendship develops into a no-strings-attached relationship and a new business venture “somewhere between porn and sex-ed,” designed to teach women’s partners how to better please them in bed. “Danan makes this novel premise work with a charming, believable heroine; an offbeat hero with a heart of gold; and snappy, laugh-out-loud prose. Romance fans will especially appreciate that the steamy erotic scenes are used to further character development, rather than just for cheap thrills. This delectable rom-com is both red-hot and fiercely feminist.” (Publishers Weekly) 


The Marriage Game *  by Sara Desai (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook).

When Layla Patel returns home to San Francisco jobless, homeless and in shame after a video of her reaction to finding her photographer boyfriend in bed with 2 of his models went viral, her father offers her the office above the family restaurant to start her own business, nevermind that he neglects to tell her that Sam Mehta, the CEO of a redundancy business is the current tenant. As neither of them will vacate, they reluctantly agree to share the space.

Then Layla discovers that her father has posted her marriage résumé on a Indian dating website.  To avoid making the same mistakes from her past relationships, Layla agrees to meet the 10 men on her father's list. Sam, with reasons of his own, offers to be her chaperon until one of them wins the bet : if Layla finds a husband among the blind dates, she will surrender the office to Sam, if she doesn't, then Sam must leave the office.

“It's a blast to witness Sam and Layla exchange flirtatious barbs as their snarky chemistry blossoms into something real over the course of Layla's hilariously disastrous dates. Rom-com fans should take note of this fresh, fun offering.” (Publishers Weekly) 

“This witty and delightful story about family, forgiveness, and letting go is utterly satisfying. Desai's first book will be a hit with fans of Sonya Lalli's The Matchmaker's List.(Library Journal)

Bonus Feature: Unconventional Roommates

memorialMemorial, * * * * a multiple award-winner by Bryan Washington (also available in eBook and audiobook, read by the author)

Ben(son) and Mike live together in the slowly gentrifying Third Ward of Houston. Ben is black and works as a day-care teacher, while Mike, of Japanese descent, is a cook in a Mexican restaurant. After 4 years together, sex is sporadic and things are rocky between them. Then Mike’s mother Mitsuko arrives from Japan for a visit, but upon hearing that his estranged father is dying, Mike promptly takes off for Osaka, leaving his mother with Ben who speaks no Japanese. 

As unconventional roommates, Mitsuko and Benson try to make the best of an absurd domestic situation that ends up meaning more to each of them than they ever could have predicted. In the meantime in Osaka, Mike tries to get to know his father Eiju who abandoned the family decades ago. As they share a tiny apartment and Mike helps  manage Eiju’s neighborhood bar, he gains a new perspective on their shared history, and a renewed sense of self. 

Tender, funny, and heartbreaking, this tale of family, food (Mike cooks for their Venezuelan neighbors; Mitsuko makes Ben congee), and growing apart feels intimate and expansive at the same time.” (Publishers Weekly)

"A subtle and moving exploration of love, family, race, and the long, frustrating search for home.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

* * * * = 4 starred reviews

* * = 2 starred reviews

* = Starred review

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The Black Flamingo

Wed, 11/11/2020 - 11:01am by samanthar


Book coverThe Black Flamingo is a YA book written in verse by poet and performer Dean Atta. It’s a queer coming of age story that follows Michael, a teenager living in London who’s half Greek-Cypriot, half Jamaican. Readers follow Michael from a young child who would rather receive a Barbie than a Ninja Turtle for his birthday, to a high schooler sharing his feelings to his crush, to a young adult finding his place on a college campus. Atta’s verse is rich, and expounds the themes of love, identity, and belonging. 


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Chadwick Boseman: Remembering a King

Fri, 11/06/2020 - 12:08am by copelands

Chadwick BosemanActor Chadwick Boseman had a respected career in Hollywood until his untimely passing from colon cancer on August 28th at age 43. Boseman played many diverse characters and brought them to life on-screen. His resume included roles like Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get On Up, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. These historical figures were portrayed with grace and dignity and were reimagined for newer generations. Undoubtedly, his most notable role that gained him international fame was King T’Challa or Black Panther in the Black Panther film. Inspiring millions around the world as the powerful superhero from the fictional nation of Wakanda, Boseman saw the height of his success. Children and adults everywhere were inspired to see a Black superhero in one of Marvel’s biggest productions. Earning over 1.3 billion dollars worldwide, Black Panther went on to become the ninth-highest grossing film of all time. He reprised this role in Avengers: Endgame, the highest grossing film of all time.  Additionally, Boseman’s talent went beyond screen acting. He had a history with libraries and worked as a drama instructor at the Schomburg Center of the New York Public Library from 2002 to 2009. He will also be remembered for being a philanthropist; donating supplies to minority communities affected most by COVID-19, supporting the Jackie Robinson Foundation, and advocating to help close the gender wage gap in Hollywood. He also continuously uplifted and supported fans across the world despite his own private health battle. Thank you Chadwick Boseman, for your incredible legacy in film and beyond. For those interested in films starring Chadwick Boseman, we proudly carry many in our collection as we honor and celebrate his life and career.


Black Panther: After his father’s death, T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, returns home to the fictional nation of Wakanda where he ascends to the throne as king. His cousin, Erik Killmonger challenges him with plans to abandon the country's isolationist policies and begin a global revolution.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #758, In a dark, dark wood, there was a dark, dark house...

Fri, 10/30/2020 - 2:28pm by muffy


You Let Me In * * by Norwegian Camilla Bruce (who grew up in an old forest, next to an Iron Age burial mound) is a thrilling Gothic tale that combines the sinister domestic atmosphere of Shirley Jackson, the haunting mystery of Gillian Flynn, and the otherworldly romanticism of Holly Black. The Guardian reviewer called it (a) “smart, creepy fairy story.”

74-year-old bestselling romance novelist Cassandra Tipp has been missing for a year now. Though there is no evidence of foul play, the Police is convinced she is dead, and suspects her disappearance must be linked to the mysterious disembowelment of her husband, Tommy Tipps for which Cassandra was tried; and the subsequent murder-suicide of her father and brother.  To claim her massive fortune, her surviving heirs (nephew and niece) must come to her home in the woods, locate her final manuscript, and find a password and present it to the executor of her estate. 

What they read is Cassandra’s story - fantastical and disturbing, dominated by the Pepper-Man, a sinister fairy with spindly, leathery hands who initiated her into the underworld. “Readers will find themselves engrossed on a wild trip to a parallel, earthly dimension as Bruce reveals the secrets hidden by the Tipp family's dysfunction. Remarkably, Bruce takes the fairy trope and squeezes every ounce of tweeness out of it; she also introduces ancient elements, akin to Celtic myths, without romanticizing or sanitizing them. The characterizations are masterful but don't take a back seat to an enthralling story, a genre-blender that perplexes us with its whodunit elements and the ongoing mystery as to what is in Cass' mind and what's real. Neil Gaiman fans are a ready audience for this superb debut...“ (Booklist)


Readers might not want to miss the latest from Silvia Moreno-Garcia - Mexican Gothic, currently being adapted by Hulu into a series, (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) is a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror, set in 1950s Mexico. 

After receiving a frantic plea from her newly-married cousin Catalina, glamorous debutante and college student Noemí Taboada travels from Mexico City to High Place, “(a) house...sick with rot, stinks of decay, brims with every single evil and cruel sentiment", where she finds Catalina bedridden from a mysterious illness, her new husband, the handsome Englishman Virgil Doyle menacing and alluring at the same time. Then she meets the dying patriarch Howard Doyle, head of a prominent English mining family that built their now-dwindling fortune on the backs of Indigenous laborers. Soon, Noemi finds herself plagued by horrifying dreams and visions, a peculiar fungus that grows everywhere.  Before long, Noemi fears for her own life as well as Catalina's.

"In a novel that owes a considerable debt to the nightmarish horror and ornate language of H.P. Lovecraft, the situations in which Noemí attempts to prevail get wilder and stranger with every chapter, as High Place starts exhibiting a mind of its own... Readers who find the usual country house mystery too tame and languid won't have that problem here.” (Publishers Weekly)

“An inspired mash-up of Jane Eyre, Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, Dracula, Rebecca and that 1958 classic sci-fi movie, The Blob …Inventive and smart, [Mexican Gothic is] injecting the Gothic formula with some fresh blood.” (NPR’s Fresh Air)



Haunted Houses: Classic Stories of Doors That Should Never be Opened - Classic haunted house ghost stories curated by world-renowned filmmaker and horror genre expert John Landis. This beautifully presented, highly collectible anthology features ghost stories that have enthralled, terrified and inspired readers decade after decade.  Some are relatively well known; others are long-lost treasures, awaiting rediscovery. 

* * = 2 starred reviews

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Fri, 10/30/2020 - 2:19pm by ncurtis

Between the short story and the novel is the novella; a work of prose sometimes overlooked. Novellas range widely in style as well as content and are often poignant in their brevity. Below are a few superb examples.

In Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson, Woodson’s lyrical prose carries readers through the narrator’s memories of growing up. The story begins with adult August seeing a friend from childhood, which triggers a flood of memories from youth and adolescence. The writing captures the beauty of life, even within painful experiences.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros tells the story of Esperanza, a girl growing up in a Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago. Set over the course of a year, the novella shows the changes and observations of a young adolescent. Esperanza experiences joys and disappointments through relationships with family and friends. She seeks a world beyond the confines of her home, while understanding the important connection she has to the people around her.