‘The Fountains of Silence’ by Ruta Sepetys

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With “The Fountains of Silence,” Ruta Sepetys gives us another emotionally-charged, historically accurate, fascinating historical fiction novel. While her books are ostensibly aimed at young adults, adults love her novels, too. “The Fountains of Silence” continues that tradition and will educate and horrify readers with the uncovering of what life was like during Franco-era Spain.

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‘The Family Upstairs’ is a taut psychological thriller by Lisa Jewell

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Lisa Jewell is no stranger to bestseller lists, and with this new chilling novel, “The Family Upstairs,” her bestselling streak will surely continue unabated. This mystery features several narrators, but only Henry, the son of the wealthy Lamb family, is a first person narrator. Libby Jones, the main character, was adopted as a child and finds out when she turns twenty-five that she is the sole heir to a huge mansion in a posh part of London where horrible events took place when she was a baby. Continue reading

‘The Dog I Loved’ by Susan Wilson who writes books about dogs and love of dogs

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“The Dog I Loved” is by Susan Wilson, many of whose books are about the relationships between people and the dogs who redeem them. Her books are about loss, betrayal, romance, and most of all, about what the love of a dog can do to save us, to make us feel whole, to make us more human. And in this novel, she does just that.

It’s the story of two women, Rosie and Meghan, who meet because of a dog, and it’s the story of how both their lives are changed by that dog and another dog, Shadow, the mystical dog that appears later in the story. It’s also about abuse and loneliness and how we can find comfort in friendship and by having a loving canine companion by our side.

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‘Maybe He Just Likes You’ by Barbara Dee is a middle grade book about harassment that should be required reading

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With “Maybe He Just Likes You,” author Barbara Dee creates a plot and a main character that will cause readers to get angry. We get angry at both the situation and the main character, even though we can sympathize with her.

Mila is a seventh-grader being harassed at school. It seems to start innocently with a group hug, but then a group of boys, basketball players, all touch her, bump into her, smirk at her, and when she tells them to stop they act like they don’t know what she is talking about.

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‘Blind Search; A Mercy Carr mystery’ by Paula Munier is the second in this delightful dog-filled mystery series

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With her “Marcy Carr” series, including the new “Blind Search,” Paula Munier checks all the boxes as to what makes a successful, gripping mystery. First and foremost, the main character, Mercy, and the former military working dog, Elvis, are likable and realistic. Elvis was her fiancee’s military working dog, and when he was killed, both his fianc√© and his dog suffered greatly. Mercy is far from perfect, and she admits that the issue preventing her and Elvis from becoming search and rescue dogs is that they both sometimes¬† lack warmth when dealing with people. Continue reading

‘A Better Man’ by Louise Penny is a lovely story about both the beauty and the bestiality that exist in the hearts of men

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In “A Better Man,” author Louise Penny shares the stories of several men, some of whom strive constantly to be better men, others who should be striving for betterment, although they are not. The main character, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is the main character in these novels, and he is a striking man. Not only does he command the respect of those he leads, he commands their affection and admiration.

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‘A Field Guide to Identification: Effin’ Birds’ by Aaron Reynolds is a wonderful gift for a fowl-mouthed friend (sic)

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With his witty and extremely vulgar book, “Effin’ Birds,” Aaron Reynolds takes daring language to a new level. Don’t get this for a friend who is easily offended by the random four-letter word. This book has four-letter words on each and every page. In fact, on one of the pages with the least foul words is the text, “This is a big frigging waste of energy.” “Frigging” being the euphemism for the word that is liberally sprinkled elsewhere. Elsewhere everywhere.

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Dogs, wild animals and ocean creatures: Nonfiction middle grade books all perfect for gift giving

Some informative books that will get children enjoying reading nonfiction are available just in time for the holidays. But even after the holidays, these books are wonderful choices for not only classrooms and libraries, but also for home bookshelves. Adults will enjoy learning about dogs, wild animals, and ocean creatures, too.

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Winter and Christmas perfect picture books for the holidays

It’s the time of year for snuggling by the fire, or just on a warm bed, and reading stories about winter, about family, about the holidays. Here are books for everyone — some are just beautiful winter tales about friendship and peace, others are about the Christmas season. Some have wonderful important messages and others are just plain funny. There’s a book for everyone in this sweet collection of picture books perfect for reading aloud.

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‘Call It What You Want’ by Brigid Kemmerer is a compelling story of teenagers grappling with the fallout from mistakes that may or may not be their doing

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“Call It What You Want” is another example of fine writing by Brigid Kemmerer, author of “A Curse So Dark and Lonely.” One of her talents is writing about people by using such effective dialogue and narrative style and technique that her characters become extremely realistic and worthy of compassion. Her two main characters in this novel are both flawed teenagers, but in spite of — or perhaps because of — those shortcomings, they grow insightful and compassionate, and they help right wrongs. The story is told in alternating first person narratives, a strategy which works well to make readers feel that they understand each character’s feelings and motivations.

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