• Reviewed by Bruce Crane
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Most everyone of a certain age is familiar with the Irish story: potato famine, escaping to New York City or Boston or where-ever, if luck would have it, perhaps killed in riots sparked by bigotry: “No Irish Need Apply.”

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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If the kids in your life like adventure and a hero with insurmountable courage they’ll relish “The Quest for Z, the True Story of Explorer Percy Fawcett and a Lost City in the Amazon.” This text-rich picture book by Greg Pizzoli is as thrilling as it is inspiring.

  • Reviewed by Issy Volmert, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School, and Katie Farrell, recent graduate Washington High School
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Inspired by the hip-hop, smash hit musical “Hamilton,” the young adult novel "Alex and Eliza" is the masterfully crafted love story of young Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler.

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  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Truevine is a town about 30 miles outside Roanoke, Virginia in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The town name comes from the Gospel of John where it is recorded Jesus that said, “I am the true vine.”

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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This enchanting book is the story of Li-yan, a Chinese girl, more specifically an Akha (an ethnic minority). Li-Yan grows up in a remote Yunnan Village in the mountains of China. The Akha are a very backward people who follow archaic traditions and rituals. It is a male dominant village wher…

  • Reviewed by Brynn Jankowski, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
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"The Boy Most Likely To," by Huntley Fitzpatrick, is a love story. It is a love story between family as well as a romance between two people, and the struggles that come with that love. "The Boy Most Likely To" is a heart-warming book that is sure to leave you with a smile on your face.

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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Connect daddies with their little ones by gifting the guys with a picture book to share at bedtime. Grins and hugs are sure to ensue with “I Don’t Want to Be Big,” by Dev Petty. Illustrations in bold colors by Mike Boldt pop, and the title is sure to win kids over.

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell, librarian, Washington Public Library
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“Astrophysics for People in a Hurry,” by astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, is exactly what it says it is – a short tour of our understanding of the cosmos that is charming, conversational, witty and perfect to read in short bursts. It’s a great introduction to astrophysics. If you lack tim…

  • Reviewed by Kylie Sullentrup, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
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“Midnight at the Electric,” by Jodi Lynn Anderson, is an astounding novel that will keep you at the edge of your seat, and always turning the pages. This novel was nearly impossible to put down.

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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German-born Bernhard Schlink writes fiction that reflects his legal background and references to his “vaterland’s” 20th century history. Like “The Reader,” his first and most famous work, “The Woman on the Stairs” continues this successful combination of topics. Schlink’s novels are not inte…

  • Reviewed by Issy Volmert
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Gem likes routine. She likes organization. She likes counting objects because the best things in her life often disappear. But the one thing Gem truly loves is her sister, Dixie. When they were younger, Gem protected Dixie in mutual love and adoration.

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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At our house, PaPa is pancake king. When our grandkids spend the night, you’ll find him fixing flapjacks. Now kids can get in the act even when the griddles not in use, thanks to “Pancakes, An Interactive Recipe Book,” a board book that would charm the apron right off Aunt Jemima.

  • Reviewed by Kylie Sullentrup, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
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Today we welcome a new reviewer to the MO Books Blog, Kylie Sullentrup, a sophomore at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School.

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Richard Beard has written a provocative, artful new novel, “The Apostle Killer.” This work of fiction opens right after the crucifixion of Jesus in Roman-occupied Judea. However, this is not ancient Judea, but the modern Judea, equipped with surveillance cameras, laptops and cell phones. Bea…

  • Reviewed by Maria Brady-Smith
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Eleanor Phipps “belonged to that class of New Yorkers whose bloodlines were traced in the manner of racehorses.” She was raised to strictly observe the code of such a class. Her one act of rebellion was to marry Rupert Falkes, an Englishman who had been an orphan, raised by a priest who foun…

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Elliott Ackerman’s timely novel is an arresting account of life at the border of Turkey and Syria. Iraqi Haris Abadi immigrates to Dearborn, Michigan to improve his sister’s life after the loss of their parents during the first Iraq war.

  • By Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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Mo Willems, the kiddie-lit author/illustrator who has left his magic mark on young readers, introducing them to personality-packed characters like Trixie, Elephant and Piggy, Pigeon and more, wowed a huge crowd at St. Louis County Library Headquarters on Tuesday evening with his antics and humor.

  • Reviewed by Jan Eade
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The crusty curmudgeon in "A Man Called Ove" was so intriguing that I found myself delighted to be introduced “Britt-Marie Was Here,” another novel by Fredrick Backman.

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  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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Perfect for Father’s Day, it’s hard to ignore the allure of “I Don’t Want to Be Big,” by Dev Petty. Illustrations in bold colors by Mike Boldt captivate, and the title is sure to win kids over, making a statement that’s the opposite of what children usually say they want.

  • 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.)

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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.”

  • 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.

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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…

  • 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.

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