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Cover art for The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues: A History of Greenwich Village

The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues: A History of Greenwich Village

Written by John Strausbaugh

The subtitle says it all: "400 years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues, A History of Greenwich Village."

Greenwich started as a country living community for the rich - John and Abigail Adams built a home there. It later was moved in order to build multi-family homes, became a theater, a stable and was then torn down. The city encroached and surrounded bucolic Greenwich. Still Village-like in scope it became a community of creative, unorthodox artists and misfits.

Strausbaugh did his homework. The story moves quickly, chock-full of American history, what started in Greenwich definitely did not stay in Greenwich. All the movements that crisscrossed America started here. The music, from folk to glam, the civil rights movement, gay and lesbian rights (Stonewall is here! - Dog Day afternoon happened here!). All the stories are true and Strausbaugh interviews and gives a history of what happened to the people.

A few of the names: Walt Whitman, Dylan Thomas, Diane Arbus, Poe, Cole Porter, Jack Kerouac, Robert Downey Sr & Jr, Jackson Pollack, John Waters, Robert Moses, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Thoroughly enjoyable, even if you have never been to NYC or Greenwich Village!

Recommended by Suzi
Cover art for Jingle Dancer

Jingle Dancer

Written by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright

Jenna loves the tradition of jingle dancing that has been shared by generations of women in her family, and she hopes to dance at the next powwow. But she has a problemó how will her dress sing if it has no jingles? After listening to a traditional tale, she decides to find her jingles from various family members.
Jenna is careful to borrow only a limited number of jingles, "not wanting to take so many that [another's] dress would lose its voice."
Seeing Jenna as both a modern girl in the suburban homes of her inter-tribal community and as one of many traditionally costumed participants at the powwow will give some readers a new view of a contemporary Native American way of life, thereís a harmonious meshing of the old and new ways.
A powerful feature of this wonderful picture book is how it tells a story about a Native girl and her family's traditions without resorting to age-old stereotypes. And itís got great illustrations. It would read aloud well.

Recommended by LouAnn
Cover art for Summertime, All the Cats are Bored

Summertime, All the Cats are Bored

Written by Philippe Georget

If, like me, you are a Francophile, then you will love this book. A decent mystery, with Very French detectives, and language that exposes the fact that this is a translation. I loved that aspect of the book, it felt European and fun.

The title has little to do with the story, although there is a cat and it may be bored. A Dutch girl is found murdered on a beach, then another Dutch girl goes missing, and a third Dutch girl is attacked in the street. The detectives of the Perpignan police station are not sure if the crimes are related. The girls are similar in age and appearance but otherwise lack a coherent connection. It is summer, the heat is intense and the lead detective is undergoing an existential crisis (it is after all FRANCE!).

The blurb on the front calls it "A Perfect Beach Read", I would say that it is perfect for anywhere.

Give it a try! Cheaper than a trip to France!

Recommended by Suzi
Cover art for If I Ever Get Out of Here

If I Ever Get Out of Here

Written by Eric Gansworth

Lewis is the only Native American in the advanced track at his school. The other Indians may be proud of him, but he goes through the day in different classes and is friendless. He cuts off his braid in an effort to get the white kids to see him differently. The only result is his own feeling of loss.
This book explores a friendship between Lewis and a white Air Force "brat" who is into the similarities between Lewis and himself, rather than the differences. It is, however, a rare but honest look at culture and how people with vastly different upbringings and identities can clash. And dance. And laugh. Gansworth informs readers about cultural difference, but he doesn't beat anyone up as he does it.

Recommended by LouAnn
Cover art for The Bird Skinner: A Novel

The Bird Skinner: A Novel

Written by Alice Greenway

In this novel, Jim Kennoway, an ornithologist, reflects on his life, both his time in the Pacific Theater during World War II and his life now on a small remote island in Maine. He is haunted by his past, and when he receives a letter from the daughter of the Solomon Islander who helped him during the war, Jim's memories of the birds, the people, the war, and the death roll together quicker and quicker. He desperately needs help coming to terms with his past, but is steadfastly independent. The author has such control over the idiosyncracies of her main character and allows the reader to truly see him, flaws and all.

Recommended by Mary
Cover art for Mandarin Gate

Mandarin Gate

Written by Eliot Pattinson

Shan Tao Yun, formerly an inspector in Beijing, has been banished to Tibet in disgrace. China considers Tibet to be one of its autonomous regions, but in reality, many Tibetans live in persecution under Chinese authority. When a crime is committed and evidence is covered up by Chinese police, Shan begins his own investigation, during which a tender friendship develops between the Chinese investigator, who has immersed himself in Tibetan Buddhist life and belief, and one of the Tibetan monks he meets. Both men strive to hold on to Tibetan traditions as Shan tries to solve the mystery. If you enjoy this novel, try others in the Shan series by the same author.

Recommended by Mary
Cover art for Sabriel


Written by Garth Nix

After graduating from school, Sabriel is ready for her next challenge. It comes sooner than expected when she receives a message delivered by the dead forcing Sabriel to cross the prohibited zone into the magical old kingdom. Sabriel isnít sure what is happening, all she knows is her father is in trouble and she must find him. After living in non-magical world of Ancelstierre, she might not be aware of the dangers facing her, even from the people or creatures claiming to help her. This book has a special place in my heart for being one of the first fantasy novels I read featuring a female main character. Not only that, Sabriel isnít an orphan and doesnít need the guidance of some older wizard to help her figure out what is going on. The characters, the setting, and the magic work together to make a book that is hard to put down.

Recommended by Kate
Cover art for To Say Nothing of the Dog

To Say Nothing of the Dog

Written by Connie Willis

The idea of time travel is exciting; traveling back and forth in time to perfect the restoration of a cathedral is exhausting. Therefore, Ned Henry has been sent back to the Victorian era for a little bit of rest, and to fix a slight hiccup in the time stream caused by a colleague. Simple, right? Only the colleague doesnít know where the hiccup happened and the harder they try and find it, the more out of sync time becomes. If Ned is unsuccessful, it isnít just his job on the line, all of space and time could be destroyed.

Recommended by Kate
Cover art for A Crime in the Neighborhood: A Novel

A Crime in the Neighborhood: A Novel

Written by Suzanne Berne

Suzanne Berne is a new author for me and WOW can she write. It's 1972 and 12 year-old Boyd Ellison goes missing. He is found molested and murdered behind the local mall.

Marsha Eberhardt is 10 years old and her father has left her mother, running away with her mother's sister. Her sibling twins have each other for consolation, but Marsha has no-one.

Mr. Green moves in next door, a single man who is isolated in the neighborhood.

It's the beginning of the 1970s and America is transitioning from a (seemingly) safe society to one of fear and distrust. Nixon is in the White House and Watergate is on the news. There is a terrible feeling of loss of control in the very air.

How these events affect Marsha and how she reacts is the essence and story of this short concise novel. There is no-one to turn to and no-one to trust and she tries to make sense of her confusion by keeping track of every detail in her journal. If she can just hold all the threads together her world won't blow apart, or so she thinks.

But keeping track can lead to wrong conclusions and destroy the lives around her.

The writing is brilliant and the details build word by word. Berne is able to create a sense of menace in a landscape of carefully controlled neighborhoods.

Recommended by Suzi

Cover art for LoveStar: a Novel

LoveStar: a Novel

Written by Andri Snaer Magnason

Icelandic couple Indridi and Sigrid are happy together, but in the dystopian world in which they live, where consumerism and technology reign, they are being "calculated apart" by a system which has determined that Sigrid is a better match for someone else. This love story, though surreal, provides commentary on our own rife-with-technology lifestyles, and is loaded with bizarre yet charming imagery. Reminiscent of Orwell, Vonnegut and Douglas Adams, but with an original, Icelandic flavor.

Recommended by Abe

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