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The Standards

If you're looking for a great read, here's a list of my favorites.

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The Bluest Eye (Vintage International) Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780307278449
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - May 8th, 2007

Morrison's first work, The Bluest Eye reads nothing like one. Thoughtful with great characters, she demonstrated her skill from the beginning. You don't need me to say it, but I will--it's great!


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Tipping the Velvet: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781573227889
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - May 2000

Waters' prose is clear and incredibly descriptive. I was shucking oysters; I was walking the streets of London; and I was performing on stage. She leaves you feeling everything Nan does. Highly recommend! - randy


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The Immortalists Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780735215092
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - February 5th, 2019

Finding the words to describe how deeply moving this story is is beyond me. Beautiful prose, amazingly wonderful characters, and a narrative with the perfect mix of tension and tenderness. I absolutely loved it! And I am so grateful that Chloe Benjamin found these words and shared them with us. - randy


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Washington Black Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780525563242
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - April 9th, 2019

This is a terrific read that hides almost nothing from start to finish. Filled with vibrant prose that carries you through a deceptively simple plot, Wash's story will grab you and not let go. Washington Black is understandably a NYT's Top Book of 2018. - randy


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Fox 8: A Story Cover Image
By George Saunders, Chelsea Cardinal (Illustrator)
$17.00
ISBN: 9781984818027
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - November 13th, 2018

Master storyteller that he is, Saunders again proves how wonderful his skills are with this great fable. Fox 8 has learned to speak and read “yuman”. He is in awe of our abilities and creations until one day he witnesses our bad side. Why are we this we? Fox 8 wants to know. - randy


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The Little Snake Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9781786893864
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Canongate Books - November 6th, 2018

A wonderfully beautiful allegory reminiscent of Mohsin Hamid's Exit West with a touch of "Meet Joe Black". As a young girl, Mary becomes friends with Lanmo, a jewel-eyed, golden snake who is obviously unlike any other snake. He comes in and out of Mary's life over the next several years, finally helping her make her way to a new city when hers is no longer safe. A perfect tale exploring both the lack of and abundance of empathy in our world. - randy


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Brother Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9781635572049
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - July 31st, 2018

Francis has all the attributes -  loyalty, compassion, strength, defiance, love, etc., of someone we should all want in our lives. Unfortunately, in his world, they are not always valued.  With a devastating narrative, Chariandy creates a story that burrows in deep and will stay with you for a long time. It's absolutely beautiful! - randy


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Lake Success: A Novel Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780812997415
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House - September 4th, 2018

Totally disgraced, middle-aged, self-absorbed hedge fund manager abandons his family and takes a Greyhound bus cross-country in search of his college sweetheart during the 2016 election? Ridiculously funny. And per usual, Shteyngart has his thumb on the often ludicrous and always true pulse of our times. - randy


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Stoner Cover Image
By John Williams, John McGahern (Introduction by)
$14.95
ISBN: 9781590171998
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: NYRB Classics - June 20th, 2006

If you live in Missouri or have ever lived in Missouri, this is a must read. Some of the most beautiful prose ever written, Stoner is the moving story of a University of Missouri professor who deserves more than he gets. And, even if you’re just visiting, this is one of the best books you’ll ever read. - randy


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The Sparrow: A Novel (The Sparrow Series #1) Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780449912553
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - September 8th, 1997

What a magnificent achievement! Led by the Jesuits, a group of scientists take off on an asteroid to make contact. We’ve found a planet with 2 species of “sentient” beings with souls to save. Russell doesn’t flinch when asking the moral questions we’re afraid to answer. And the “twist” at the end is mind blowing! - randy


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The Governesses Cover Image
By Anne Serre, Mark Hutchinson (Translator)
$12.95
ISBN: 9780811228077
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - October 30th, 2018

A real gut punch. Almost twisted and quirky does it no justice (and is probably an offense). I am having trouble with the feeling that in face of all evidence suggesting otherwise there is a hidden subtlety, Yes, redundant, but a great reason to revisit sooner than later. I loved it! - randy


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The Invisible Circus Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780307387523
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - October 9th, 2007

An emotionally rich story about surviving not only the early death of a father to leukemia but also the suicide of an older sister under unknown circumstances, The Invisible Circus is a coming of age story wrapped in the American and European counter culture of the late '60's and early '70's. It avoids most of the genre's cliches and deftly handles the rest. Egan is one of America's greatest writers-past or present, and you understand why as this story ends. - randy


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The Reservoir Tapes Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781948226332
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Catapult - July 16th, 2019

Becky Shaw is on a hike with her family when she disappears. This is the story of her family and the townsfolk in the months leading up to what may be a crime or may not. It’s a wonderful job of setting the mood in a small English village and introducing many characters that could be responsible for her disappearance. I couldn’t put it down! - randy


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Tin Man: A Novel Cover Image
$14.00
ISBN: 9780735218765
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - April 9th, 2019

As tragic as parts of this story are, you can always feel the bright yellow light that binds Ellis and Michael together. Beautiful and well written, Tin Man is a great read. - randy


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Cove Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781936787845
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Catapult - April 10th, 2018

A man slips out to sea with his father's ashes leaving only a note that says "Pick salad x". As a storm approaches, he's caught too far from shore and is struck by lightning. Suddenly, he finds himself adrift with no land in sight, he has no idea how long he's been unconscious, and he can't feel his arms. Intense, harrowing, beautiful, and great! - randy


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On Chesil Beach Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780307386175
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - June 10th, 2008

One of my favorites. The tension contained, barely contained, in this beautiful prose is just about overwhelming. Florence and Edward are trapped by the rules of a society at the precipice of a major change. Bound by duty and tradition, theirs is a love destined to die with history or flourish in the coming sexual revolution of the 1960's. I absolutely love this book! - randy


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McGlue: A Novella Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780525522768
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - January 8th, 2019

You find yourself locked in quarters. Your body is screaming for alcohol. You're several months from port. You just killed your only friend and everyone wants justice. You probably deserve it. A dark, twisted tale of a friendship and alcohol. Two thumbs up! - randy


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Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions Cover Image
By Valeria Luiselli, Jon Lee Anderson (Introduction by)
$12.95
ISBN: 9781566894951
Availability: Backordered
Published: Coffee House Press - April 4th, 2017

Fleeing the threat of death in Central America, thousands of undocumented children seek asylum each year. In this essay, you will see how dangerous their journey through Mexico is and that this is only the beginning of their ordeal. As an immigrant and court translator, Luiselli is able to share their stories. She also challenges us to take responsibility for our role in creating such dangerous circumstances instead of simply building a wall. - randy


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The Fifth Wall Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781574232288
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Black Sparrow Press - May 15th, 2017

Sheila has always been ambivalent about her family. On a trip home to visit friends, she sets out to surprise her mother only to witness the most awful death you could imagine - her mother's suicide. And that's just the prologue. How do you deal with grief and PTSD at the same time? You set up a camera and film the slow, physical deconstruction of your home. One of the most moving books I've read. - randy


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Man in the Dark: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780312428518
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - April 28th, 2009

As the weird world rolls on.

What parts of our lives are fated and for what parts do we own responsibility? With crazy great prose, Auster packs a lot into this little book. So many stories spread throughout the narrative, and they are all wonderful and with great purpose. Entirely enjoyed, and really, I loved this book! - randy


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Neon in Daylight Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781936787753
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Catapult - January 9th, 2018

 

Not just another escape to New York to avoid your life story. Solid prose and I loved the characters. Kate becomes involved with both Inez, a 19 year old prescription drug dealer, and Bill, a writer with only one, very successful title from some 20 years earlier. I really liked this story, and the ending is not quite expected. - randy


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Ultraluminous: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781250192738
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - December 4th, 2018

K is an escort with a heroin addiction who has just returned to New York after working for 7 years in Dubai. In what will be her one last year, she seeks out clients in the world of high finance, she falls in love with a veteran, and she remembers her time spent with the Sheikh, a bomb maker for hire. I was floored by the raw emotion evoked by the directness of Faw’s prose. And the last 5 pages are jaw dropping! - randy's December Staff Pick, 2017


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Spy of the First Person Cover Image
$14.00
ISBN: 9780525563365
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - November 20th, 2018

With prose that eloquently meanders through the unnamed narrator’s memories, Shepard shares with the reader the experience of becoming more and more reliant on loved ones in the final days of life. Moving throughout, this novella is near perfect. - randy


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Elmet Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781616208424
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Books - December 5th, 2017

This is a great read. I found myself totally entranced by both the characters and the scenery. And the writing is beautiful. I'm stilling mulling over Vivien at the end. Does she know Danny will take off after his sister or is it just a convenient way to explain why Danny takes off looking for Cathy? I love having something to think through after finishing a story! - randy


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Uncommon Type Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781101911945
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - September 4th, 2018

Wow! Here is a collection of stories that are at times funny, often moving, and all are really, really good, if not great. Welcome to Mars is perhaps my favorite. It’s Kirk’s 19th birthday and he joins his father to go surfing in what turns out to me a defining day in his life. And then there’s Alan Bean Plus Four which is a hilarious telling of a journey 4 friends take to the moon. Read it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by Tom Hanks as a writer. -randy's November Staff Pick, 2017


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Manhattan Beach: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781476716749
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - June 5th, 2018

With incredibly well-developed characters and an absorbing story that often reads like a thriller, Manhattan Beach is amazingly beautiful. Anna works in the Brooklyn Naval Yard as a diver during WWII. She’s lost her father, and as she becomes entangled with Dexter, a club owner, her mother moves back to the Midwest. She is fiercely independent and is one of the best characters I’ve read in a long time! There’s a reason Jennifer Egan won the Pulitzer. - randy


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Exit West: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780735212206
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - February 27th, 2018

One of the most lyrical novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Nadia and Saeed are falling in love during the final throes of a civil war. They decide to leave. In doing so, they have to deal with all they are leaving behind and all they will encounter as they cross the globe. It was no surprise that it is a finalist for the Man Booker Prize. It’s my favorite to win! (Ok. I can't really complain that Lincoln in the Bardo won. It was pretty awesome, too.) - randy


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History of Wolves Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802127389
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - November 7th, 2017

Such an engrossing read. Fifteen year old Linda forms a strong bond with Paul and his mother Patra as they hurdle towards a family tragedy. Set in the northern woods of Minnesota, Linda is navigating the world on her own and is marked for life by the choices she makes as well as the choices of others. A great debut novel! - randy


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Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel Cover Image
By George Saunders, George Saunders (Read by), Nick Offerman (Read by), David Sedaris (Read by), Various (Read by)
$35.00
ISBN: 9780553397574
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Audio - February 14th, 2017

One of the most ambitious novels I’ve listened to, this is a creative and a wonderful imagining of the day of and the days following Willie Lincoln’s death. During a couple of visits to Willie’s tomb, Lincoln causes a great stir amongst the many souls living in a sort of purgatory and trapped in the cemetery. A very moving story about accepting the harder times in life and very apropos of the challenges Lincoln faced as president. With a wonderful cast, Saunders first novel is a great listen! - randy


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Stephen Florida Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566895163
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Coffee House Press - June 12th, 2018

At its core, Stephen Florida is a coming of age story. Losing his parents at 14, Stephen goes to live with his grandmother. Orphaned again when his grandmother dies of heart disease, he promises her that he’ll go to college and win a national championship. Stephen is an obsessive and Habash puts us in his mind and takes us for a wonderful, bumpy ride through his final season - a final season where family, love, and friendship begin to take their proper place in Stephen’s life…maybe. - randy


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Tuesday Nights in 1980 Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781501121050
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Gallery/Scout Press - May 2nd, 2017

Set against the burgeoning art scene of New York, this is a story about boundless possibilities interrupted by great personal loss. James has synesthesia. His words are alive with color and taste and feeling, making him a gifted and respected art critic. Raul, an orphan from Argentina, refusing to deal with the emotional void opening between himself and his sister, flees to the city he was born in where he discovers his talent. With flowing, rhythmic prose, Prentiss tells a very real and moving story. Simply brilliant! - randy


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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780385341004
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dial Press Trade Paperback - May 5th, 2009

A heart-warming, straight up tearjerker! There's no other way to describe it except to say it's a great introduction into a little known part of WWII - the occupation of Guernsey off the French coast. - randy


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Ghachar Ghochar: A Novel Cover Image
By Vivek Shanbhag, Srinath Perur (Translated by)
$15.00
ISBN: 9780143111689
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - February 7th, 2017

Beautifully written, Ghachar Ghochar is a wonderful novella with moments of familial affection as well as shocking moments of meanness. What happens when a family’s fortune turns for the better? Of course, there’s the better house in the better neighborhood, the better prospects for marriage, and the better job which isn’t really a job at all. But there’s also a shift in the family dynamic that muddies the water and leads to a disastrous ending. - randy


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Insurrections: Stories (University Press of Kentucky New Poetry & Prose) Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9780813174402
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University Press of Kentucky - July 20th, 2017

These 13 stories take place in the fictional Cross River, MD. A largely black town formed in the early 19th century following a slave revolt. My favorite story is “Juba”. On his way to a job interview with an accounting firm, the narrator is mistaken for the infamous drug dealer, Juba, and is arrested. He is released and decides to track Juba down and finds that Juba doesn’t just deal drugs but plays an important role in conserving the culture of Cross River. What starts out with a frank, in your face, scene becomes a very transforming story that I loved! - randy


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We Eat Our Own: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781501128325
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - April 2nd, 2019

This book is wonderful. The story is compelling which is enough reason to love it but it's also a well crafted commentary about a darker side of humanity written with simply beautiful prose. You will love it! - randy


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Mikhail and Margarita: A Novel Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781609453756
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Europa Editions - March 14th, 2017

Set in 1930's Russia, Mikhail and Margarita is a story about love and trust and survival in the Moscow literary community. A community closely watched by Stalin himself. Ostensibly, this is about a love triangle, but its true strength and pleasure comes from how well each character's own story stands alone. I loved it! - randy


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Nutshell: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780525431947
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor - May 30th, 2017

This is the story of a separated couple and their unborn child who also happens to narrate. It's mother is having an affair and planning the murder of it's father. The characters are richly developed, the perspective is totally original, and it is wonderfully quirky! - randy


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Universal Harvester: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781250159991
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - February 6th, 2018

It’s impossible to heap too much praise on John Darnielle! After Wolf in White Van, I tempered my expectations for his second book. Shouldn’t have! Someone is splicing graphic images into VHS tapes at the Video Hut. Stephanie wants to know who’s doing it and Jeremy, hesitantly, agrees to help her find out who. Darnielle’s writing creates a perfectly pitched tension that puts you in the story from the get go. And once he has you, his most beautiful prose carries you through to the end. - randy


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Sweetbitter (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781101911860
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - April 4th, 2017

There are a lot of books about moving to New York to make it. Sweetbitter fits this description, however, it’s refreshing to have a protagonist who isn’t looking to “make” it. Tess just wants to start her life. And, of course, her first job is in a restaurant. She falls into many of the cliches of restaurant work but she knows it and that’s what makes Sweetbitter so fun and Tess a wonderful character. Read it. You won’t be disappointed. - randy


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The Sunlit Night Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781632861146
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury USA - May 3rd, 2016

Frances heads to Norway looking for some space. She’s just been dumped, graduated from college, and can’t bear the idea of moving back to the one bedroom, Manhattan apartment she grew up in. Yasha heads to Norway to honor his father’s last request - to be buried as far north as possible. Of course, they meet and fall in love but that’s a small bit of the story. They’re looking for their own piece of the world and there is no better place to start than the boundless sunshine and wide open space of Norway in the summer. - randy


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Wolf in White Van: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781250074713
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - September 2015

Wolf in White Van is Sean's story. Disfigured at 17, he lives a solitary life supplementing his insurance checks guiding people through Trace Italian, a role-playing game played through the mail that he created while in recovery. When two players take the game a little too seriously, Sean is held to account. As we move forward through Sean's experience, we're taken further back to the night that changed his life. John Darnielle does a masterful job weaving the present into the past. Another title long listed for the National Book Award that I love. - randy


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Margaret the First Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781936787357
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Catapult - March 15th, 2016

Typically, I stay away from historical fiction unless it's about the 20th century. I'm very happy I overcame my bias. Margaret Cavendish was shy, a bit insecure, loyal, creative, brave and many more wonderful things. Dutton's prose is beautiful and I fully enjoyed the creative way she tells Mad Marge's story. A definitive recommend. - randy


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Let the Great World Spin: A Novel Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780812973990
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - November 30th, 2009

Set against the backdrop of Philippe Petite’s amazing high-wire jaunt between the Twin Towers, Let the Great World Spin is a look into the lives of a disparate group of New Yorkers in the early 1970’s. Rich or poor, saved or damned, black or white, American or immigrant - McCann does a wonderful job of showing the connection we all have with one another. - randy


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Only Killers and Thieves: A Novel Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062690982
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - December 4th, 2018

Tommy’s parents and sister are brutally murdered leaving him and his brother, Billy, looking for revenge. I enjoyed the story but what I really loved was the development of Tommy’s character. Older than his 14 years, he is constantly being confronted by the evils of the Australian Outback in 1885. And Howarth does a wonderful job describing the beauty found amongst all the sparseness and harshness of the desert. A great debut novel! - randy


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Welcome to Braggsville: A Novel Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780062302137
Availability: Backordered
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - September 8th, 2015

Daron (or D'aron or Da'ron depending on who's speaking) never feels comfortable in Braggsville, Georgia, so he heads to the University of California - "Berzerkley" where he joins an assorted group of personalities who refer to themselves as the "4 Indians". Daron finally finds a place that feels like home. And then they all decide to return to Braggsville for spring break to protest the annual Civil War reenactment. Johnson's satire is pitch perfect as he tackles the all to common stereotypes of the grand ole US of A. This book is funny. This book is unsettling. This book is important. -randy


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Treasure Island!!! Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781609450618
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Europa Editions - December 7th, 2011

Sadly, Treasure Island!!! is currently not in print. It's a terribly funny story about becoming an adult (or failing to do so!). And there's a murder at which you can't help but laugh a little and it's okay. Go find a used copy now! You won't regret it.


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Josephine Baker Cover Image
By Jose-Luis Bocquet, Catel Muller (Illustrator)
$22.95
ISBN: 9781910593295
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: SelfMadeHero - May 16th, 2017

What a great introduction to someone we all need to know more about. From dancing in 1920’s Paris to adopting children from cultures all around the world to speaking at The March on Washington, Josephine Baker made her way in the world by her rules and left it a better place. - randy


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Shigeru Mizuki’s Hitler Cover Image
By Shigeru Mizuki, Zack Davisson (Translated by)
$24.95
ISBN: 9781770462106
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Drawn and Quarterly - November 17th, 2015

Two reasons to read this - solid survey of Hitler's adult life and great manga . I recommend this to anyone interested in learning about the major points of Hitler's adult life but doesn't have time for a 1,000 page biography. (It took me a couple of hours and I'm not the fastest of readers.) I also enjoyed reading it in the traditional manga style - from right to left. It helped me to better digest what I was reading and to better appreciate Mizuki's art. - randy


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Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780743299640
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - November 7th, 2006

Lincoln's final response to Stephen Douglas, The Cooper Union speech is one of the most important pieces of oratory in our history. In the winter of 1860, Lincoln traveled east to court the abolitionists whose support he would later need to win the Republican nomination for President. The first stop of many on his visit to New York and New England, at Cooper Union he solidified himself as everyone's second choice ensuring the nomination would be his. Holzer gives us a tangible feel for Lincoln's oratory skills that would later give us his first and second inaugural speeches and of course The Gettysburg Address. - randy


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Pegasus Bridge Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780671671563
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - November 15th, 1988

The first and most crucial operation of D-Day took place at Pegasus Bridge where a small group of British airborne troops landed in wood gliders and took the bridge. But that was just hour one. Now they had to wait for the landings and keep the Germans off the beaches. Fascinating story! - randy