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  • By Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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You’ll be barking up the right tree with “Maggi and Milo Make New Friends,” by Juli Brenning, a charming picture book to share with young readers, especially on National Dog Day, which is today. That’s no woof!

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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“Reader, I murdered him,” so begins the captivating novel “Jane Steele.”

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  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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“Americans call them hillbillies, rednecks or white trash. I call them neighbors, friends and family.” J. D. Vance is a hillbilly and a Yale Law School graduate. His memoir begins with a description of his birthplace, the poor Appalachian community of Jackson, Kentucky. In this touching chro…

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  • Reviewed by Maria Brady-Smith
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Brad Watson’s novel, “Miss Jane” is a treasure. It is a simple story, beautifully written.

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  • Reviewed by Moe Godat
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Hannah Dexter didn't really care when Craig Ellison killed himself, even though she felt like she should have. As her small town dealt with the aftermath of his suicide, Hannah continued on as if nothing had happened. And to her, nothing really had. That is until she met Lacey.

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  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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I was a few chapters into “The Heavenly Table,” and I wasn’t sure if Donald Ray Pollock was aiming for a dark drama, or if he was writing a comedy. The dialogue was so Coen-esque I was chuckling aloud as I read, but I was laughing about desperate people living desperate lives.

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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‘The Railwayman’s Wife” is a story of love and of loss. The book takes place in 1948, in post-war Australia. The main character, Anikka Lachlan, has just lost her husband Mac to an accident and must learn how to continue living without him. Anikka takes a job at the Railway Institute's local…

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  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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When I took an anthropology course 50 years ago, one of the assigned readings was Robert Redfield’s book “The Primitive World and Its Transformation.” In it, Redfield proposed that modern, technologically oriented societies lose something that preliterate societies enjoy – connectedness and …

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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Looking like a modern-day Pippi Longstocking, a pint-sized cutie with a peck-sized problem is back in “Sophie’s Squash Go to School,” by Pat Zietlow Miller, a book about friendship.

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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August heralds a myriad of emotions, as unique and individual as students beginning their journey into the land of the 3 R’s. A group of 20 children is the focus of this adventure in “The Class” a picture book by Boni Ashburn that celebrates the start of school.

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  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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With the Olympics in full swing, balance watching the action by sharing a book with a young reader about a past gymnast who captured hearts around the world.

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  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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“Arabella of Mars,” by David Levine, had me convinced and thrilled from the wonderful cover art to the end of the novel. Reading like a cross between Edgar Rice Burroughs’ tales of Mars and Patrick O’Brien’s seafaring war stories, “Arabella of Mars” is intelligent, inventive and exciting fun.

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  • Reviewed by Issy Volmert
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Five years ago, Elsie Main's twin brother Eddie was lost to the sea in an accident that she can't remember. Her family has never recovered, and each member deals with the tragedy in their own twisted way. No one in the broken family ever touches salt water and they don’t talk about it.

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  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Jim Lynch’s fourth novel tells the story of three generations of the Johannssen family. The patriarch, Bobo, a.k.a. Grumps, maintains they are descendants of the Icelandic explorer, Leif Erikson. The Johannssens live near Puget Sound, off the coast of Washington. For two generations they hav…

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  • Reviewed by Reed Eschmann, age 12
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Overall, I would say that the best part about “The Outcasts,” the first book in “The Brotherband Chronicles” is the characters. They are like most characters you will find in books; Tursgud, the bully, is much stronger and bulkier than the main character, Hal.

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  • Reviewed by Abigail Tippin
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Today we welcome a review by Abigail Tippin, a member of the Bourbeuse River Book Club at Scenic Regional Library in Union.

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  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s “The Silence of the Sea,” published in Icelandic in 2011 and now available in English due to an elegant translation by Victoria Cribb, is a fascinating slow-burn mystery of what happened to the passengers aboard an empty luxury yacht that crashes into a pier in Reykjavi…

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  • Reviewed by Natasha Douglass
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“The Inside of Out,” by Jenn Marie Thorne, is a progressive book in a new era, one of the first of its kind. Shattering the traditional walls defining what “should” be discussed in teen fiction, this book addresses real and relevant issues that the modern young adult deals with daily.

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  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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John Hart’s “Redemption Road” is a riveting crime thriller that draws the reader in from the very beginning. Throughout the spellbinding 417 pages, the plot and subplots take many twists and turns before “whodunit” is eventually revealed.

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  • Reviewed by Moe Godat
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Moving is never easy. But for Pip and Grace, the main characters in “The Girls in the Garden,” by Lisa Jewell, moving is a different experience than most would expect. With their father locked away in a hospital for a schizophrenic break, and all of their possessions burnt to a crisp by his …

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  • Reviewed by Maria Brady-Smith
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I have always enjoyed reading Anne Tyler’s books. She is a prolific writer, having written 20 novels, and some of my favorites are “Breathing Lessons,” which won a Pulitzer Prize, “The Accidental Tourist,” “Ladder of Years,” “The Amateur Marriage,” and “A Spool of Blue Thread.”

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  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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ISIS is the timely subject of Daniel Silva’s latest spellbinding novel, “The Black Widow.” As current as today’s headlines, it is well-researched and authenticated with data collected from working intelligence officers.

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  • By Teen Reviewer, Natasha Douglass
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“The Fall of Butterflies” by Andrea Portes, is a beautifully written novel about culture shock and teenage adjustment. Willa Parker, a social outcast from Iowa, heads east to the prestigious Pembroke boarding school to start a new life.

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  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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Set during the wartime atmosphere of 1942 New York, and featuring two likeable heroes, Dan Fesperman’s “The Letter Writer” is a complex, smart and suspenseful mystery. Basing the novel on a real incident, the burning of the SS Normandie, Fesperman depicts the suspicions, politics, and nation…

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  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Justice Stephen Breyer’s new book reveals his perspective on how the role of the Supreme Court has changed over the last 20 years. “The Court and the World” is an insightful argument, supported by countless court cases, that we now live in a global community that calls for the Supreme Court …

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  • Reviewed by Amy Bolte
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Sometimes there are books you are happy to share with your friends because the book is so good that you can’t imagine anyone not liking it. Then there are those books that fall under the “guilty pleasure” category – they are fun reads, but since they may be a little on the “light” side you w…

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  • Reviewed by Morgan Hammer, Age 13, Immaculate Conception School
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“The Penderwicks in Spring,” by Jeanne Birdsall, is a story about Batty, a girl with a large family. Her family is made up of her dad and stepmom, three older sisters, one younger sister and one younger brother.

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  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell, Staff, Washington Public Library
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Curtis C. Chen’s first novel, “Waypoint Kangaroo,” has a solid premise, a zippy plot, and some intriguing world-building. This is a promising debut. Chen writes with a breezy, cheeky style that reminds me of John Scalzi. Fans of Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” Universe novels should seek this one out.

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  • Reviewed by Maria Brady-Smith
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Today we welcome a new MO Books reviewer, Washingtonian Maria Brady-Smith. She recently retired from the School District of Washington where she worked 16 years as a parent educator with Parents as Teachers, and 13 years as a School Psychological Examiner in Early Childhood Special Education.

  • Reviewed by Dawn Kitchell, The Missourian
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Nike co-founder Phil Knight has hung up his metaphorical track shoes and officially retired as chairman of the athletic company, according to the Wall Street Journal, which also reported recently that Knight sold his voting interests in Swoosh LLC to a trust controlled in part by his son.

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  • Reviewed by Moe Godat
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This novel is perfect for the Brontë lover in all of us and is especially appealing to those who have read the author’s three famed works.

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  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Our language reflects our disrespect. Something worthless or unappealing is ‘for the birds.’ An ineffectual politician is a ‘lame duck.’ To ‘lay an egg’ is to flub a performance. To be ‘henpecked’ is to be harassed with persistent nagging. ‘Eating crow’ is eating humble pie.”

  • Reviewed by Sydney Pich
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Katie is a 17-year-old girl who feels trapped in her family and in her own skin in the novel “Unbecoming,” by Jenny Downham. Katie’s always been an exemplary student, a dutiful daughter and a careful friend. But when she finally takes the leap and expresses her heart's true sentiment, she fi…

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  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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“The Bricks That Built The Houses,” by Kate Tempest, is a story of relationships and how they frame the lives of Leon, Becky and Harry. The story opens with the three of them leaving London with a suitcase full of stolen money. The rest of the novel takes you back in time, revealing how thei…

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  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell, Staff, Washington Public Library
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“Underground Airlines,” by Ben Winters, is a brave and gripping hardboiled-detective story that poses some tough questions about modern America. The twist is that the America in “Underground Airlines” is an alternate version. The Civil War never happened. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated imm…

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  • Reviewed by Natasha Douglas, teen reviewer
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“Return to the Isle of the Lost,” by Melissa de la Cruz,
 is the witty tale of four children who turn from bad to good. The sons and daughters of Cruella de Vil, Jafar, the Evil Queen, and Maleficent are saved from their homes and relocated to the moral and ethical society of Auradon.

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  • By Barbara Gibbs Ostmann
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You've heard of Christmas in July -- for special sales and promotions or alternative birthday parties for children born near Christmas. But if you're in Branson between July 6 and 10, you'll definitely think the holiday season is here, regardless of the summer temperatures. That's because th…

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  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Alan Furst's, “A Hero of France,” is a spellbinding novel that raises many uncomfortable ethical questions for the reader. Set during the Nazi occupation of Paris, the novel asks, “What would you have done? Would you have merely grumbled about fuel and food shortages or would you have wrangl…

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  • Reviewed by Amy Bolte
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“Reliance, Illinois,” is both the title and the setting for a second novel from author Mary Volmer. This Mississippi river town in 1875 is home to murder, misrepresentation and mayhem.

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  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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“The Medusa Chronicles” is a refreshing throwback to the vast, sprawling space sagas of science fiction’s golden age. It succeeds both as an homage to Arthur C. Clarke and as a modern space opera. Veteran authors Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds, inspired by an Arthur C. Clarke short sto…

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  • By Joe Zagarri, Age 8, St. Gertrude School
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Oona Oodlethunks is the main character in “The Oodlethunks.” She has a brother Bonk, “he smells like grass and mud!” Her parents are Dave & Allison. They are a stone age family. One day, Oona finds a very large egg, she tried to carry it home to their cave. They took very good care of it…

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  • By Sydney Pich, Teen Reviewer
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Hope Walton has an eidetic memory, which means anything she sees or reads is permanently stored in her brain for later use. Because of her intense homeschool program, led by her mother, this gift comes in handy. But Hope has no idea that her gift, as well as her courage, is about to be put t…

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  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Meryl Streep is an anomaly in a film world dominated by male stars and women whose acting careers typically end at age 40. Streep has continued to be a successful female actor since the 1980s, playing substantive, memorable, complex characters.

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  • Reviewed by Issy Volmert, teen reviewer
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Tara's name might mean "star," but to her she’s anything but in Aditi Khorana’s novel “Mirror in the Sky.” The real stars of Tara’s universe are the popular kids at her New England Prep school, and the news surrounding the discovery of a life-sustaining planet, Tera Nova, somewhere in the de…

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  • Reviewed by Antoinette West
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Today we welcome a review from Antoinette West, a member of Scenic Regional Library’s Bourbeuse River Book Club.

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  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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Sylvain Neuvel’s “Sleeping Giants” is a page turning, sci-fi political thriller that features international political conspiracy, alien puzzles, the threat of human destruction and the vagaries of human behavior. As I read the book, it wasn’t long before I started to wonder if movie rights t…

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  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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Fairy-tale fun abounds in the peek-through story “Fairy Tales for Mr. Barker,” a romp through fantasyland written and illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg.

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  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Englishman Julian Barnes is the author of 20 previous books. He has won numerous awards including the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2011 for “The Sense of an Ending.” This latest compact novel is dedicated to Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich.

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  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell, Staff, Washington Public Library
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In the early 1800’s, there were rumors of large and unusual stone ruins buried deep in the jungles of Central America. Hidden in the hot, fetid jungles of war-torn countries, visiting the sites required good health, endurance and a taste for risk and adventure. In “Jungle of Stone” by Willia…

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