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  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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On Christmas Even, bells jingle waking Ollie. Cuddly toy reindeer in hand, she rushes to the window, the night landscape a brilliant white with new fallen snow.

  • Reviewed by Emma Thomas
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“Patina” by Jason Reynolds is a book about an independent, argumentative girl named Patina Jones. Everyone calls her Patty. She has a little sister, Maddy. When she was six-years-old something happened. Her dad Ronnie kissed everyone goodnight and went to sleep, never to wake again. Three ye…

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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This historical fiction novel also has an element of mystery. “The Stolen Marriage,” is a book full of secrets, betrayals, prejudice and forgiveness. This page-turner has likeable well-rounded characters and plenty of family drama. Readers are immersed in a detailed account of the daily life…

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Violence, kidnapping and torture have regrettably become routine in Central Asia and the Middle East over the last 20 years. This is largely due to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Syria) whose revolutionary activities are reported daily in our mainstream media, as well as …

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell, Staff, Washington Public Library
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“Artemis,” Andy Weir’s moon-based sophomore effort, is another entertaining novel set in a realistic depiction of life in Space. Like his first book, “The Martian,” half the fun of this novel is knowing that Weir is dedicated to making the science as accurate as possible. It’s like going to …

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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With the holidays in full swing, families gather from far and near to share a meal and visit. Too often young people, and adults too, bring along an unwelcome and uninvited guest –electronic screens, video games and telephones. What’s a host to do?

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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“Shadow of the Lions,” by Christopher Swann, is a suspenseful and mysterious coming-of-age story. The tale is told by Matthias Glass who graduated from Blackburne, an elite boys’ boarding school in Virginia 10 years earlier.

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell, Staff, Washington Public Library
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I’ve been reading Christopher de Bellaigue’s “The Islamic Enlightenment” a chapter at a time over the last few months. It is a balanced, fascinating and beautifully written account of Islam over the last two centuries when, the author argues, Islam has undergone an enlightenment.

  • Reviewed by Emma Thomas, Union Middle School
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“The 12 Dares of Christa,” by Marissa Burt, is about a 13-year-old girl named Christa. Her mom, an actress, and her dad, a travel agent, decide to get a divorce.

spotlight featured
  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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The setting for “American Fire” is Accomack County, a sparsely populated rural region on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. During five months in late 2012 and early 2013 this small area witnessed a spree of 67 arsons. This siege of criminal acts drew “Washington Post” reporter Monica Hesse to the ar…

  • Reviewed by Jan Eade
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If you are a fan of Debbie Macomber's novels, you will feel right at home reading "Lilac Lane." Its author, Sherryl Woods, writes about family, home and characters who find a place in the reader's heart much like Macomber does. 

  • Reviewed by Bill Winkler
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An anesthesiologist once described the practice of his specialty as “hours of boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror.” In his book “Counting Backwards: A Doctor’s Notes on Anesthesia” pediatric anesthesiologist Henry Jay Przybylo, M.D. offers his take on this glib (and inaccurate) de…

  • Reviewed by Pat Sainz
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Peter Manuel was a convicted serial killer of seven people (and suspected of killing more) who cut his murderous swath through the Scottish countryside in the 1950’s. He was hanged in 1958 in Scotland. The title of “The Long Drop” is a reference to this event, along with the details that led…

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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“Unquiet Spirits,” Bonnie MacBird’s second novel in her Sherlock Holmes series, is a charming and suspenseful mystery which sees Holmes and Watson attempt to decipher a bizarre series of events that eventually involves an incident from Sherlock’s past - an incident Sherlock has concealed fro…

  • Reviewed by Kylie Sullentrup
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“The Light We Lost,” by Jill Santopolo, is an admirable novel that initially drew me in with its cover art. The enchanting illustrations connect to the story in two ways that caught my eye. The protagonist, Lucy, is shown looking deeply captivated by another character, which can be open to i…

  • Reviewed by Kelly Brinkmann
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In Sandra Brown’s novel, “Seeing Red” United States Army retired Major Franklin Trapper is bunkered down in his home living a quiet life, secluded from the media attention he used to enjoy.

  • By Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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Many of us recall the allure of a rippling stream and the activities it spawned —from skipping rocks, to nabbing crawdads, and diverting the creek’s flow with a dam that would make a beaver envious.

  • Reviewed by Bill Winkler
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If asked to describe a Norwegian many Americans might conjure up a Garrison Keillor-inspired image of a stoic, practical, somewhat doughy individual whose approach to life is, “Well, it could be worse.”

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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“The Wilding Sisters” by Eve Chase is a lyrical dual narrative – a gripping coming-of-age story about a family of four, the Wilde sisters. The narratives are separated by 50 years and play well off each other. This is a story of secrets, sisters and unsolved mystery.

  • Reviewed by Emma Thomas, Union Middle School
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In “Landscape with Invisible Hand,” aliens called vuvvs come to a future version of Earth. They wanted to share their advanced technology with humans. A teenager named Adam thought it would be fine to share their world with the vuvvs, but their technology took over almost everyone’s jobs, in…

  • Reviewed by Bruce Crane
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There aren’t many people around today who lived through the Great Depression, which started with the stock market crash in 1929. The Depression left attitudes and ways of thinking in the generation before mine. In particular, even those with adequate incomes, and more, were reluctant to spen…

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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In the early 1900’s, Congress debated the possibility of introducing the African Hippopotamus to the bayous and marshes of the Southern United States. Hippos solved two problems: they would consume the invasive hyacinth plants choking the waterways and in return provide a tasty protein sourc…

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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On April 12, 1945, President Franklin Roosevelt died suddenly and Vice President Harry S. Truman assumed the highest office in the land. By Truman’s own assessment, he was unprepared for the presidency and remarked to a Vermont senator, “I’m not big enough for this job.” This newcomer to nat…

  • Reviewed by Madysen Jones, Washington High School
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“The Ex,” by Alafair Burke, is a hair-raising novel. In the book we meet Olivia Randall, a defense attorney, not known for making the best decisions. Her life is going fairly well until she answers an ‘unknown’ call. It turns out to be Buckley Harris, calling on behalf of his father, who has…

  • Reviewed by Pat Sainz
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The title of this psychological thriller by Australian writer Michael Robotham could pertain to either of the two main characters in the book, Agatha Fyfle and Meghan Shaughnessy. One is privileged and married to a local television star; the other is poor, abused, and perhaps pregnant by a m…

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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Candy’s sweet but short lasting. Why not give a book to your little goblin or princess on Halloween? Here’s one that might appeal to the spookster set, not scary, but totally entertaining.

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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James Atlas, author of award-winning biographies about Saul Bellow and Delmore Schwartz, delves into his inner self to explore the source of his attraction to the profession of biographer. He stresses that biographers have a hallowed responsibility to present their subject’s life so that it …

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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Gaynor has written a lyrical historical fiction novel based on the Cottingley fairy photographs taken by two cousins during World War II. The story weaves the old legend of the Cottingley Fairies with the present day character Oliva Kavanagh. The novel is told in dual story lines between the…

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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“Down Among the Sticks and Bones” is Seanan McGuire’s brilliant, heart-rending prequel to her award-winning novella, “Every Heart a Doorway.” From the first novella, we know that children occasionally find doorways to fantasy worlds, enter, and leave their old lives behind for a while. After…

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor, The Missourian
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Unique undies in eerie green terrorize Jasper the bunny in “Creepy Pair of Underwear!” by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated with zany pictures by Peter Brown.

  • Reviewed by Madysen Jones, Washington High School
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“One For Sorrow,” by Mary Downing Hahn, is a novel about friendship and the way you should treat others.

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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With Hallmark-like sentiment by Patricia MacLachlan, and burnished illustrations in autumnal shades by Chris Sheban, “Someone Like Me” is a treasure. It’s story returns us to yesteryear, when sipping lemonade on a porch swing was the norm as was lying on a blanket under an apple tree with a …

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Astronaut Scott Kelly has orbited the Earth five hundred twenty times and has spent more than eighteen hours on spacewalks. In his stunning memoir, “Endurance” he relates one incredible experience after another by recounting his lifetime of discovery, both in space and on Earth.

  • Reviewed by Pat Sainz
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As I read this historical fiction book about ethnic wars in Burma (now Myanmar) between 1939 and the 1960’s, I recalled hearing the news and reading about the recent massacres in Myanmar as the Burmese army retaliated against the Rohingya Muslim minority following an alleged Rohingya insurge…

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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I couldn’t stop reading Jac Jemc’s “The Grip of It,” a creepy psychological suspense novel about a couple who buys a haunted house. Prompted by James’ gambling problem, Julie and James purchase a large house in a small town and trade city life for a slower-paced country life.

  • Reviewed by Jan Eade
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If you like to spend time in bookstores, or enjoy mysteries, you will be captivated by this smart, twisty novel. You also will find out that lonely regulars who spend many hours perusing bookshelves are called -- "BookFrogs" by this author; an interesting term.

  • Reviewed by Issy Volmert, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
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Robin Benway’s “Far From the Tree” tells the story of three biological siblings who meet each other for the first time, 15 years after the disappearance of their mother. Their complicated relationship with each other only gets more tangled when the secrets they all harbor come to light.

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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John Freeman has compiled an exceptional anthology of literature about inequality in the United States. This collection includes stories of fiction, essays, narratives, journalism and poetry from 36 acclaimed authors, including Roxanne Gay, Richard Russo, Ann Patchett, Eldwidge Danticat and …

  • Reviewed by Bruce Crane
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This is an engaging story about Eugenia, an Italian teen brought to this country by her parents who have stars in their eyes about the possibilities in America. Her father fancies himself a filmmaker, having been in a commercial on Italian television for Italian spam, along with the rest of …

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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This novel is about the multi-generational Talaminis, a family that makes ice cream as its livelihood. The family provides a history of its memorable characters.

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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In this compact, compelling tale, Virginia Anderson relates the parallel narrative of two young men from Connecticut farming communities during the Revolutionary War years. The book highlights the tragic, interwoven nature of the 18th Century civil conflict that pitted neighbor against neighbor.

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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A pug with a piggish appetite for winning gets his just desserts in “Pig the Winner,” a rhyming story by Aaron Blabey with laugh-out-loud illustrations.

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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“This morning more than 350 million people devoured a bowl of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes,” is the opening sentence of this subtly amusing, quirky cultural history about John Harvey and William Keith Kellogg. The book's author, Dr. Howard Markel, chronicles the contentious relationship between the…

  • Reviewed by Claire Nappier, Washington Middle School
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Meet Claire Nappier, the newest reviewer for the MO Books Blog. She is a seventh grader at Washington Middle School and enjoys reading all types of fiction. Her favorite genres are fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian.

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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If you haven’t read a graphic novel, don’t assume this popular genre isn’t “really reading.” Some graphic novels have real meat on their bones, engrossing plots with admirable characters and the added appeal of a colorful, easy to follow comic-book style.

  • Reviewed by Bruce Crane
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For anyone who saw military service during the Vietnam War “The Reason You’re Alive,” by Matthew Quick, will strike like a blunt instrument. For those who were in combat, it will hit like a hatchet, and I don’t recommend they read it.

  • Reviewed by Kylie Sullentrup, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
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Birdie isn't supposed to be at the party in "The Inevitable Collision of Birdie and Bash," by Candace Ganger. But Sebastian “Bash” is – he’s there to keep his closest, and only friend Kyle in line.

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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William Fowler, a longtime raconteur of nautical history, recounts the 10-year-long race for superiority of the North Atlantic shipping lanes during the 1830’s and 1840’s in “Steam Titans.”

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