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Featured Book Lists
New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog The Children Act
by Ian McEwan

Publishers Weekly The 1989 Children Act made a child's welfare the top priority of English courts-easier said than done, given the complexities of modern life and the pervasiveness of human weakness, as Family Court Judge Fiona Maye discovers in McEwan's 13th novel (after Sweet Tooth). Approaching 60, at the peak of her career, Fiona has a reputation for well-written, well-reasoned decisions. She is, in fact, more comfortable with cool judgment than her husband's pleas for passion. While he pursues a 28-year-old statistician, Fiona focuses on casework, especially a hospital petition to overrule two Jehovah's Witnesses who refuse blood transfusions for Adam, their 17-year-old son who's dying of leukemia. Adam agrees with their decision. Fiona visits Adam in the hospital, where she finds him writing poetry and studying violin. Childless Fiona shares a musical moment with the boy, then rules in the hospital's favor. Adam's ensuing rebellion against his parents, break with religion, and passionate devotion to Fiona culminate in a disturbing face-to-face encounter that calls into question what constitutes a child's welfare and who best represents it. As in Atonement, what doesn't happen has the power to destroy; as in Amsterdam, McEwan probes the dread beneath civilized society. In spare prose, he examines cases, people, and situations, to reveal anger, sorrow, shame, impulse, and yearning. He rejects religious dogma that lacks compassion, but scrutinizes secular morality as well. Readers may dispute his most pessimistic inferences, but few will deny McEwan his place among the best of Britain's living novelists. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog Darth Vader and Son
by Jeffrey Brown

Publishers Weekly When the first Star Wars film conquered the world in 1977, no one could have possibly foreseen it going on to become such an ubiquitous part of our cultural heritage. Now even parenthood can be viewed through the filter of the Sith lord Darth Vader. Jeffrey Brown (Incredible Change-Bots) crashes headlong into George Lucas's galaxy far, far away with endearing, funny-and fully licensed-results. A series of full-page gag cartoons focusing on the "what if?" of Darth Vader raising a four-year-old Luke Skywalker, the book twists father/son moments into scenarios within the Star Wars playground. For instance, the addition of a wailing little Luke turns the Bounty Hunter scene into, as one bounty hunter's thought balloon puts it, Awkward!" Trick-or-treating, toy shopping, a day at the zoo, and more are rejiggered with a lighthearted, charming tone. However, the book also provides ample proof that adding a babysitting Darth Vader to any Star Wars situation makes it gently humorous. Brown's signature scratchy style is embellished with full color and stripped-down likenesses. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog A Single Shard
by Linda Sue Park

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-In this tale of courage and devotion, a single shard from a celadon vase changes the life of a young boy and his master. In 12th-century Korea, the village of Ch'ulp'o is famous for its pottery. The orphan Tree-ear spends his days foraging for food for himself and Crane-man, a lame straw weaver who has cared for him for many years. Because of his wanderings, Tree-ear is familiar with all of the potters in the village, but he is especially drawn to Min. When he drops a piece Min has made, Tree-ear begins to work for him to pay off his debt, but stays on after the debt is paid because he longs to learn to create beautiful pots himself. Sent to the royal court to show the king's emissary some new pottery, Tree-ear makes a long journey filled with disaster and learns what it means to have true courage. This quiet story is rich in the details of life in Korea during this period. In addition it gives a full picture of the painstaking process needed to produce celadon pottery. However, what truly stands out are the characters: the grumpy perfectionist, Min; his kind wife; wise Crane-man; and most of all, Tree-ear, whose determination and lively intelligence result in good fortune. Like Park's Seesaw Girl (1999) and The Kite Fighters (2000, both Clarion), this book not only gives readers insight into an unfamiliar time and place, but it is also a great story.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Park (Seesaw Girl) molds a moving tribute to perseverance and creativity in this finely etched novel set in mid- to late 12th-century Korea. In Ch'ul'po, a potter's village, Crane-man (so called because of one shriveled leg) raises 10-year-old orphan Tree Ear (named for a mushroom that grows "without benefit of "parent-seed"). Though the pair reside under a bridge, surviving on cast-off rubbish and fallen grains of rice, they believe "stealing and begging... made a man no better than a dog." From afar, Tree Ear admires the work of the potters until he accidentally destroys a piece by Min, the most talented of the town's craftsmen, and pays his debt in servitude for nine days. Park convincingly conveys how a community of artists works (chopping wood for a communal kiln, cutting clay to be thrown, etc.) and effectively builds the relationships between characters through their actions (e.g., Tree Ear hides half his lunch each day for Crane-man, and Min's soft-hearted wife surreptitiously fills the bowl). She charts Tree Ear's transformation from apprentice to artist and portrays his selflessness during a pilgrimage to Songdo to show Min's work to the royal court he faithfully continues even after robbers shatter the work and he has only a single shard to show. Readers will not soon forget these characters or their sacrifices. Ages 10-14. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Gr. 4-8. When the polite greeting in a society is "Have you eaten well today?' one may guess that subsistence is of prime concern. Surely no one in this twelfth-century Korean village is more accustomed to hunger than the orphan boy Tree-ear and his guardian Crane-man who is lame. They sleep under a bridge in summer and in a pit in winter, eating what they can forage in the woods or garbage piles. At the age of 12, Tree-ear becomes an assistant to the potter Min. A hard taskmaster to himself and the boy, Min is the maker of the finest celadon ware in Ch'ul'po, a village known for its pottery. When Min entrusts two precious pots to Tree-ear to deliver to Songdo, the boy must make his way across miles of unknown territory, relying on his courage and wits to prove himself worthy of Min's trust. This quiet, but involving, story draws readers into a very different time and place. Though the society has its own conventions, the hearts and minds and stomachs of the characters are not so far removed from those of people today. Readers will feel the hunger and cold that Tree-ear experiences, as well as his shame, fear, gratitude, and love. A well-crafted novel with an unusual setting. --Carolyn Phelan

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Recovery Road
by Nelson, Blake

Book list Madeline is starting junior year in rehab. She hates the losers surrounding her all except Trish. Soon the two are escaping the halfway house every Tuesday to go to the movies with other recovering addicts. It is here that Madeline meets Stewart, another recovering addict, and the two teens are immediately drawn together. What follows is a story about being in love while trying to survive sobriety. Eventually, the two are released from rehab and must return to their previous lives; for Madeline that means returning to school and her old friends and routines. Her struggle to stay sober and find a new path is realistic and the strength of the story. Her relationship with Stewart, on the other hand, has the expected narrative ups and downs. When a tragedy strikes, Madeline is left to figure out what she really wants from life and how Stewart fits into her plans. Spanning over three years, the book finds its biggest fireworks in the first half, with the rest proceeding like an extended epilogue.--Yusko, Shauna Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Nelson offers another sharply focused portrait of a teen in crisis in this story of ex-party girl Maddie, who struggles to renew herself after being released from a rehab center. At Spring Meadow, Maddie's best moments come during her fleeting romance with another young patient, Stewart. After returning home, 16-year-old Maddie counts the days until Stewart's release, hoping they can take up where they left off. Meanwhile, she battles loneliness and isolation at her high school where her earlier drunken escapades earned her the nickname "Mad Dog Maddie," and her old friends pressure her to start using again. "It's so weird being straight," Maddie thinks. "You have no defenses. Shit happens and you have to feel it." Predictably, reuniting with Stewart isn't the answer to Maddie's problems, and tension rises as both teens' resolve to stay sober shows signs of weakening. Nelson (Destroy All Cars) gives a hard, honest appraisal of addiction, its often-fatal consequences, and the high probability of relapse. This is an important story that pulls no punches. Ages 13-18. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-After one too many incidences of drinking and fighting, Madeline Graham's parents send her to Spring Meadows, which is just one of a string of rehab centers on what is called Recovery Road. She is just getting used to the routine of it all-therapy, work, and mealtime-but then, on one fateful weekly Movie Night in town, Maddie meets Stewart, a damaged teen fighting demons of his own. The two begin an intense relationship that flourishes in the bubble of recovery's routine. Once Maddie is released, though, she finds that their connection just isn't the same, even though she still loves him. She has sex for the first time while not drunk. When she tries to move on with her life, though, she feels the need to keep rescuing Stewart from himself. The story, told by Maddie, is all about finding the wrong kind of love and trying to make it right. She and Stewart have a deep connection because they understand one another on a different level due to what they are both going through. Maddie is a strong, likable teen, and the rest of the characters are believable and genuine as they help her move on with her life after rehab. The chapters are concise, which will grab reluctant readers. This is a great book for teens who are, or know someone who is, dealing with drug or alcohol addiction. Nelson doesn't glamorize it, but paints a portrait of the struggle that people go through when fighting substance abuse.-Kimberly Castle, Medina County District Library, OH (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog The looming tower
by Lawrence Wright

Book list Wright, a talented New Yorker0 staff writer with a diverse portfolio and a long-standing personal interest in the Middle East, was on the al-Qaeda beat within hours of the 9/11 attacks. The product of his efforts is more deeply researched and engagingly narrated than nearly all of the looming stack of books on Osama bin Laden and his cohorts published in the past five years. The events are familiar: this account begins with theorist Sayid Qutb, covers the trajectories of bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, and culminates with Mohammed Atta and the collapsing Trade Center. But Wright's interview--fueled, character-driven approach captures both the complexity of individual actors--Qutb's alienation, for example, and bin Laden's struggle for legitimacy--as well as the fluid internal dynamics of the often covert terrorist organization. The tragic centerpiece of the book, familiar to New Yorker0 readers, is Wright's sensitive portrayal of John O'Neill, the deeply flawed working-class FBI gumshoe from New Jersey who may have been the only American to fully understand the al-Qaeda threat before 9/11. Wright seems to have found his calling: a perceptive and intense page-turner, this selection and Peter Bergen's The Osama bin Laden I Know0 (2006) should be considered the definitive works on the topic. --Brendan Driscoll Copyright 2006 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Wright (fellow, Ctr. on Law & Security, NYU Sch. of Law; Twins) goes back-way back-to 1948 to dissect the personal influences and political radicalization that would lead to al Qaeda's attack on America. Delving into the tangled roots of Egyptian political dissenters, he carefully draws out the biographical background of Osama bin Laden's number two man, Dr. Ayman-al-Zawahir, who was notable for being implicated in the plot to assassinate Anware Sadat and later became a key figure in Islamist groups as he allied with bin Laden. The matter-of-fact story of the founding of al Qaeda is almost an afterthought as Wright's narrative follows bin Laden in his business and terrorist ventures from Saudi Arabia to Sudan to Afghanistan. A chilling counterpoint to the story of this growing organization is what little attention was paid to the trickle of information that made its way to Western intelligence agencies. While illustrating the CIA and FBI responses, or lack thereof, to the emerging threat of Islamist terrorism, Wright attempts to tie in an important law-enforcement figure, John O'Neill. At one time a counterterrorism agent for the FBI who deeply understood the global nature of bin Laden's threat, O'Neill ironically perished on 9/11 at the World Trade Center. The thrust of O'Neill's story, however, does not merge well with the rest of the book (for a closer look at O'Neill, see Murray Weiss's The Man Who Warned America). However, Wright's research is exemplary, including dozens of primary-source interviews and first-person perspectives, and he provides welcome insight into the time line leading up to 9/11. Recommended for large libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/06.]-Elizabeth Morris, Illinois Fire Svc. Inst. Lib., Champaign Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Choice Wright is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, has published several previous works on a variety of subjects, and has lived and taught in the Middle East. The current study provides a well-written, dispassionate history and analysis, meticulously researched, of the series of events and personalities over a lengthy period of time that culminated in 9/11. Wright examines the impact of secularism, "Americanism," Israel, and the growing influence of radical Islam. Rival radical Islamic thinkers from Egypt to the Gulf States influenced the formation of Al Qaeda as a distinct group. The importance of such thinkers as Sayyid Qutb, Abdullah Azzam, and Osama bin Laden are carefully reviewed. This study will put to rest the notion that Islamism is characterized simply by nihilistic fanaticism, or a monolithic movement. Personal rivalries as well as doctrinal disputes are described alongside the progress and setbacks of the Islamists' cause. Also critical is the appraisal of how various American agencies and intelligence professionals view the threat. Unusual in a trade book, endnotes, bibliography, and list of interviewees are included. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers, upper-division undergraduates through faculty. M. Slann Macon State College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Library Journal New Yorker staff writer Wright profiles four men intimately involved with 9/11: al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, FBI counterterrorist chief John O'Neill, and Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi intelligence. With a three-city tour. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Wright, a New Yorker writer, brings exhaustive research and delightful prose to one of the best books yet on the history of terrorism. He begins with the observation that, despite an impressive record of terror and assassination, post-WWarII, Islamic militants failed to establish theocracies in any Arab country. Many helped Afghanistan resist the Russian invasion of 1979 before their unemployed warriors stepped up efforts at home. Al-Qaeda, formed in Afghanistan in 1988 and led by Osama bin Laden, pursued a different agenda, blaming America for Islam's problems. Less wealthy than believed, bin Laden's talents lay in organization and PR, Wright asserts. Ten years later, bin Laden blew up U.S. embassies in Africa and the destroyer Cole, opening the floodgates of money and recruits. Wright's step-by-step description of these attacks reveals that planning terror is a sloppy business, leaving a trail of clues that, in the case of 9/11, raised many suspicions among individuals in the FBI, CIA and NSA. Wright shows that 9/11 could have been prevented if those agencies had worked together. As a fugitive, bin Ladin's days as a terror mastermind may be past, but his success has spawned swarms of imitators. This is an important, gripping and profoundly disheartening book. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Red Card: A Zeke Armstrong Mystery
by Daniel J. Hale

School Library Journal Gr 4-7-Ezekial Tobias Armstrong, a soccer whiz and mystery sleuth, helps to find out who is trying to kill his coach while they are playing a tournament in Dallas. Zeke also helps to hold his teammates together as they move through the competition without their coach, who has been hospitalized. The constant action and excitement of the play-by-play, the mystery, and Zeke's first-person narration should hold readers' attention. As in many novels for young people, the adults don't appear too bright. While knowledge of soccer is not necessary to understand the descriptions, it helps.-Janice C. Hayes, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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