• Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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“Free Bird,” by Jon Raymond, is a timely novel that delves into contemporary issues, the war in Afghanistan, the current political division between the right and left in the United States and state environmental issues. These political issues are brought to light through the story of a dysfu…

  • Reviewed by Bruce Crane
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In “Testimony” the author leaves his usual venue, Kindle County Minnesota, taking Bill ten Boom ultimately to the Hague and Bosnia. There, he becomes involved in prosecuting war criminal, Laza Kajevic, the murderous former chief of the Bosnian Serbs.

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  • Reviewed by Antoinette West
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I am a woman of a certain age who, in spite of strong reservations, has had to fly too often in commercial aircraft, the only means to my destination. I was the passenger white knuckling the arm rests and clutching her Saint Christopher medal during take offs and landings as I visualized new…

  • Reviewed by John B. Crane
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Meet John. B. Crane, our newest MO Books reviewer. He is a semi-retired psychiatrist, practicing part-time in Union. He loves reading novels, but not so much non-fiction. Crane says he gets enough of that from psychiatry journals.

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  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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Since time began, youngsters have played Rock, Paper Scissors. Finally we have a clue to its origin with “The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors,” a crowd-pleaser by Drew Dayalt. (Though his name is Drew, he didn’t draw the illustrations – those spring from the wacky imagination of Adam Rex.)

  • Charles Garton Coy
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Looking at news sometimes it is difficult to know what is real and what is fabricated, and to know the difference actually matters.

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  • Reviewed by Stephanie Monzyk
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“The Girl Before” is a psychological thriller by J.P. Delaney that truly leaves the reader guessing “whodunit” until the shocking conclusion.

  • Reviewed by Miles Eschmann, Kirkwood High School
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“Bull,” by David Elliott, is rough, but in a good way. Sure it uses foul language at times but that contributes to the style of the book, and I'm not sure it would have stood out to me otherwise.

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell, Staff, Washington Public Library
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What happened to the Franklin expedition? In 1845 Sir John Franklin set sail from England with 128 men in two ships to search for the elusive passage around North America. Instead they sailed direct into two of the severest winters in memory and disappeared in the Arctic, never to be heard f…

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  • Reviewed by Diane Lick, May 10, 2017
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Often opening sentences give the story away, but in “Girl in Disguise,” the tale is revealed in the last sentence: “’Someone has to the first,’ I told myself ruefully, joyfully, and swung open the door.”

  • Charles Garton Coy
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The main purpose of Meramec River Dam was flood control, but on August 8, 1978, voters stopped construction as the main portion of the dam was underway.

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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On August 16, 1977, Elvis Presley was found dead on his bathroom floor after a heart attack induced by a drug overdose. He was 42 years old (1935-1977). The autopsy identified 14 drugs in his body. “All were drugs legally obtained with a prescription signed by a doctor….” but ten of them wer…

  • Reviewed by Janet Polumbo
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Today we welcome a new reviewer, Janet Polumbo, of Augusta. Jan says she’s always enjoyed “pleasure reading,” and that retirement from a career as a nurse is affording her the time to do just that.

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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Kij Johnson’s “The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe” is a beautiful novella and another feather in the cap for Tor, a publisher offering some amazing novellas these days. (The 2017 Hugo nominations were released as I was writing this review. An impressive four novella nominations came from Tor.com…

  • Reviewed by Antoinette West
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In spring 2016, the “New York Times,” and countless international newspapers and websites across the world, posted the obituary of 92-year-old actress Madeleine Lebeau. The passing of an actress who throughout her career had played only supporting roles and had never been involved in unsavor…

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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I loved “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir.” The strong female characters are very believable. It is a story of a small England town during the early days of World War II. The novel is comprised of letters, diary and journal entries of five very different women from the small town of Chilbury.

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Journalist and historian Stephen Kinzer’s thesis in “The True Flag” is that the United States turned from isolationism to foreign interventionism as a result of the Spanish-American War. This 1898 war led to the United States’ conquest of Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Philippine Islands and t…

  • Reviewed by Maria Brady-Smith
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Wow! That is the first thing I have to say about Kate Tempest’s long poem, “Let Them Eat Chaos.” The first page tells us that the book was meant to be read aloud. I suggest reading it first to familiarize yourself with it and then listening to the author read, well, perform it, actually, her…

  • Reviewed by Brynn Jankowski, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
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"Long May She Reign," by Rhiannon Thomas, is a fantasy mystery that indulges in a tale that pits family and friends against each other.

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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The thought of spending her summer with a grandmother she hardly knows – in a state far from her home – has 12-year-old Azalea in a panic. So begins an engaging historical fiction novel set in the 1950’s by Augusta Scattergood.

  • Charles Garton Coy
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Politics has always been a rough-and-tumble game as I learned while running for public office. Recently it has become an even less civil game and frankly, a more childish one.

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  • Reviewed By Bill Schwab
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Scholar and critic Susan Bordo has answered the question countless people have been asking: “Why did Hillary Clinton lose the 2016 Presidential Election?” In one of the first of many books that will analyze this historic election, Bordo claims Clinton’s defeat was caused by sexism, Bernie Sa…

  • Reviewed by Issy Volmert, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
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In “Whenever I’m With You,” by Lydia Sharp, the main character Gabi has not lived your average teenage life. She grew up the daughter of a rising movie actress. After her mom achieved fame and fortune, she cheated on Gabi's dad and tore the family apart. Now, Gabi and her father live just ou…

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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The prize for one of the most creative covers goes to “Tidy,” by Emily Gravett. A cutout on the front of this ecological tale, a perfect pick for Earth Day, shows a badger picking up leaves from the forest floor, placing each meticulously into a trashcan. With a page turn we learn about this…

  • Charles Garton Coy
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Regardless of President Trump's polices, it is important to understand why his words resonate, and to acknowledge that, in many cases, the problems they are bringing to the surface point to people who feel left behind.

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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This spellbinding, jaw dropping memoir by former FBI Agent Joe Navarro discloses the disturbing details of how he captained the 1980s investigation into the biggest breach of military secrets in United States’ history. The enormous traitorous act would have made America dangerously defensele…

  • Reviewed by Antoinette West
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"Based on a True Story" is a gripping tale where nothing is exactly what it seems. In spite of its title, it is a novel, not a biography or an autobiography, yet it is written in the first person, by a writer named Delphine de Vignan, about a writer named Delphine.

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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I had no idea what to expect when I picked up a copy of Jonathan Coe’s “Number 11.” It is a sequel to “The Winshaw Legacy,” though, as Coe alludes in his novel, it is not really a sequel. “Number 11” works fine as a stand-alone. It is an entertaining, smart and surprising look at England in …

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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“Leopard at the Door” by Jennifer McVeigh, is the story of 16-year-old Rachel Fullsmith. She has just returned to the family farm in rural Kenya after spending the past six years in England. During this time things have changed dramatically. Her mother was killed in a car accident a few year…

  • Reviewed by Monica Holtmeyer, Washington High School
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I was honestly not prepared for the roller coaster story that #1 "New York Times" bestselling author, Melissa de la Cruz, gives readers in her novel, “Something in Between.”

  • Reviewed by Maria Brady Smith
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Tim Gautreaux’s gorgeously written book of short stories, “Signals,” was engaging from cover to cover. From heartbreaking to humorous, each portrait involves working class characters in Louisiana. Throughout the stories, Gautreaux explores themes such as the high price of seeking status, the…

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell, Washington Public Library
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Sylvain Neuvel’s first novel, “Sleeping Giants,” surprised me last year. Sleek and fun, it was compulsively readable escapism, the literary equivalent of an intelligent cinematic blockbuster. So it is with great pleasure that I can say that Neuvel’s second book in the series, “Waking Gods,” …

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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Some books are pure eye candy, like Kevin Henkes’ picture book, “Egg.” Simple, yet deliciously appealing, it’s a nearly wordless story, a timely title that would be perfect to tuck into an Easter basket, or give to a child with a spring birthday.

  • Reviewed by Brynn Jankowski, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
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"Defy the Stars," by Claudia Gray, is a science fiction book that emphasizes the meaning of humanity. In Gray’s world, there are different inhabited planets, robots called mechs, and spaceships – enough adventure to last a lifetime!

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  • By Barbara Gibbs Ostmann
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This year the United States is observing the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I on April 6, 1917. Missourians are fortunate to have the federally designated National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City. It is a national treasure within an easy drive for Missouria…

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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All the ingredients necessary to develop a green thumb are at young readers’ fingertips with “Plant the Tiny Seed,” an innovative, hands-on picture book by Christie Matheson told in singsong rhyme. Step by step, Matheson walks children through the process of growing flowers from a packet of …

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  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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Candy is dandy but a board book with some Peeps makes an extra special treat. And what could be more appropriate for the upcoming holiday than a tale about how the star of Easter earned his ears?

  • Charles Garton Coy
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You have to wonder what’s behind President Donald Trump”s proposed budget that maximizes military expenditure for hard-powered war preparation with more tanks, bombers, missiles and even more nuclear weapons. Trump wants $54 billion more for these expenditures.

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Dr. Richard Haass, president of the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations, has written a primer on contemporary foreign policy that everyone could benefit from reading. Haass examines our disordered world and the United States decades long, failed efforts to shape every nation after its o…

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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“The Other Side of the World,” is a fast paced novel by Stephanie Bishop, the story of a young wife and mother who struggles with the difficulties and stress of marriage, and in particularly, motherhood. It is 1963 in Cambridge, England, and Charlotte, an aspiring painter, has just found out…

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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One of the reasons I read a book like Douglas Preston’s “The Lost City of the Monkey God” is the hope of receiving some vicarious Indiana Jones-esque thrills.

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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A wordless book must be wondrous to work – the illustrations strong enough to carry the tale, without the backbone of words.

  • Reviewed by Stephanie Monzyk, The Missourian
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“For one whole year, we worried about Kate. We worried to her face and worried behind her back, credited her with being tough while judging her for being pathetic. Some days we thought she was suicidal; others she seemed homicidal, or as if she had the potential, anyway, not that any of us w…

  • Charles Garton Coy
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After meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Donald Trump has again usurped the agenda with a couple of outrageously ignorant tweets, saying that Germany “owes vast sums of money to NATO” and that the U.S. “must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it p…

  • Reviewed by Antoniette West
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In "Charlton Heston, Last Hollywood Icon," Marc Eliot's biography of the actor's long life, extensive acting career and controversial political activism, readers will discover that there was more to the matinee idol than Ben-Hur and gun-rights.

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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“Cruel Beautiful World,” by Caroline Leavitt, is set in the hippie, peace and love era of the 1970s. The novel makes references to the Manson murders, the Vietnam War, Kent State, and commune living. It is the story of two sisters and their coming of age during the 70s.

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