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Sharks in the Time of Saviors: A Novel by Kawai Strong Washburn - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780374272081
Availability: IN WAREHOUSE - Usually Ships in 3-7 Business Days
Published: MCD - March 3rd, 2020

More than an ode to the culture, geography, botany and lore of the Hawiian people and islands (although it does very much achieve that, so eloquently and beautifully), Washburn's novel is a microcosmic look at what it is to be an economically deprived family in a steam-rollered minority culture. All three of the Flores children struggle to find their place in the world, in and beyond the islands; older brother Dean and younger sister Kaui are more specifically taxed with finding their own way to distinguish themselves from middle child, Nainoa, the chosen one, the healer, the gifted one, the cursed.
There is both magic and suffering here, just as there are on the islands of Hawaii. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780062913463
Availability: IN WAREHOUSE - Usually Ships in 3-7 Business Days
Published: Ecco - October 29th, 2019

It would be easy to be distracted by the bright flames of smoldering kids and miss the true brilliance of what Wilson accomplishes here. Through the creation and very existence of the fire children whose influence is felt nearly throughout, Wilson draws us through significant reflections on wealth and privilege, family and dysfunction, love and loyalty and abject disregard for familial ties. His narrator, Lillian, burns brightest of all, with nary a flame to her name. Slighted by parentage and cruel twists of fate, she nevertheless forges on with a reckless but burgeoning heart, simmering with love of all kinds that she ultimately cannot suppress. If I was even a tad more impressed with it all, I might very well burst into flames myself. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780316486637
Availability: IN WAREHOUSE - Usually Ships in 3-7 Business Days
Published: Little, Brown and Company - October 15th, 2019

It is no exaggeration to say that few journalists have had a larger impact on our society than Ronan Farrow has in recent times. There may have been others reporting on the multiple harassment rumors swirling around Harvey Weinstein and many others over the past countless years, but it was Farrow's dogged determination and journalistic integrity that finally tipped the scales- and the world is still realigning itself in the aftermath. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine

Dutch Girl: Audrey Hepburn and World War II by Robert Matzen - Book Review

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By Robert Matzen, Luca Dotti (Foreword by)
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ISBN: 9781732273535
Availability: Out of Print
Published: GoodKnight Books - April 15th, 2019

My primary question before opening this book was how substantive it was actually going to be. I'm embarrassed to admit this now because Dutch Girl is nothing if not rich with history. To learn in depth of the Dutch people's colossal suffering during the war and how significant a battle ground The Netherlands became, most specifically as regards the areas of Velp and Arnhem where Audrey and her mother and grandparents resided, is a darkly meaningful experience. The famed book and movie "A Bridge Too Far" is based on the Allied/German battle for the bridge at Arnhem.
Audrey and her family were there in the thick of it, hunkered down in their basement, all but starving to death. Audrey's various efforts of assistance to her fellow citizens and the resistance during the war and the long term effect of Audrey's teen-year survival experience on her entire life including her life-long devotion to children's humanitarian causes and her subsequent death at an early age- there is so much here for Audrey fans and history buffs alike.
Like all great histories or biographies, Matzen's work, despite its potentially narrow focus, succeeds masterfully in shining a broad light on the human experience itself. Highly recommended. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine

Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero by Christopher McDougall - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781524732363
Published: Knopf - October 15th, 2019

This is a heartwarming romp through pastures, trails and landscapes that most of us have never experienced. Beginning with the rescue of a neglected donkey, the story blossoms into a rewarding journey with the ever-expanding and far flung cast of oddball characters and goats and other donkeys that McDougall meets and bonds with in the service of his mission to give little Sherman “a job”. If I were to pick a bone, it would be with the subtitle, “The Donkey With the Heart of a Hero.” That's not what this book is about. Sherman is a donkey with a pretty much standard burro-shaped heart, who was in need of a kind, understanding and intuitive home, which he finds thanks to McDougall and family and his bevy of unique friends. ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine

Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway Revolution by Todd S. Purdum - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781250214867
Availability: Backordered
Published: Picador - May 14th, 2019

Newly released in paperback, this is a most engaging history of perhaps America's premier songwriting duo of the 20th century, Rodgers and Hammerstein. Chock full of the details of both musical geniuses' creations from their very beginnings as well as the chronology of both of their personal stories, Purdum's work is both engaging and musically astute. These are the talented icons behind the classic shows my mother lived and breathed as I was growing up and I can still see the record jackets lying on the record player; Oklahoma!, South Pacific and of course, my favorite, The Sound of Music, to name but a few. The perfect read to heighten your appreciation of this duo's brilliance before checking out this summer's local production of Oklahoma! ~ Reviewed by Jon Fine


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