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"My Mother was Nuts" by Penny Marshall

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Comedian/director Marshall writes very openly on her life experiences growing up in the Bronx, getting pregnant and married young in New Mexico, her marriage to Rob Reiner, friendship with Carrie Fisher, and relationship with Art Garfunkel.   Marshall revisits tough subjects like abortion, drugs, lack of mothering skills, and her now fading health. Great stories abound of her time spent on TV shows, movies, and her career as a movie director.  Marshall's humor is how she gets through the difficult stuff and lives with a simple motto: “try hard, help your friends, don't get too crazy, and have fun.”

All Souls: A Family Story From Southie by Michael Patrick McDonald

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In this devastatingly honest memoir Michael MacDonald, one in a family of ten, recounts his experience growing up in Southie which is one of South Boston’s public housing projects.  Described by all the residents as “the best place in the world”, McDonald has the courage to pull back this veil and tell the emotional and powerful true story.  MacDonald explores the busing riots of the 1970s, Southie’s “no snitch” culture, the loss of four of his own siblings, and the exploits of Whitey Bulgar (the town’s top gangster and father figure).  Through all of this pain and loss McDonald is still able to point out areas of hope and the strong sense of community that is still alive in Southie today.  

Romantic Outlaws: the Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon

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Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley never knew each other.  Mary W. died giving birth to her daughter Mary Shelley.  Yet both women similarly defied convention, both became famous writers; both fell in love with brilliant but impossible authors; both were single mothers and had children out of wedlock; both broke out of the rigid conventions of their era and lived in exile; and both played important roles in the Romantic era during which they lived.

Gordon’s book examines each in alternating chapters of the two women's lives.  This might sound confusing to the reader but it is not.  She presents the facts of each woman's life in a fascinating way that feels as if this biography is a novelization.  Highly readable, highly recommended.

Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell

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In London, England 1855 social and political upheaval abound.  Local pubs and churches, once thought of as safe havens, are threatened with murder and mayhem. High-ranking officials in the British Government aren't even safe; a handful have been killed in their own homes. There have even been several failed assassination attempts on Queen Victoria.  An anarchist gang or individual is creatively and brutally killing people causing chaos throughout London.  These vivid depictions of Victorian England are in David Morrell’s captivating latest mystery, “Inspector of the Dead.” The opium-eater, Thomas De Quincey, his daughter, and a couple of newly assigned detectives return to solve the mystery in Morrell’s second book in this series. They attempt to protect Queen Victoria from any future assassination attempts and find who is causing chaos throughout London before England’s government completely collapses. As the evidence mounts, try to solve the mystery before the detectives piece together the clues!

Bag of Bones by Stephen King

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Mike Noonan is a very successful author who unexpectedly loses his wife.  Widowed and grief stricken he returns to their vacation cabin in Maine looking for peace but instead he is haunted by his wife’s memory, voice, and a few ghostly spirits.

Shortly Mike finds himself embroiled in a custody battle with the town's wealthiest resident, Max.  Max is fighting against the mother of his three-year-old granddaughter and Mike is drawn to protect both mother and daughter. Even though Mike is over his head in emotional situations, his writing ability returns. But the more time Mike spends writing in the cabin, the further his psyche falls under the power of the ghostly inhabitants.

A deeper read than it appears, Bag of Bones is more than a ghost story but it is a tale of loss, despair, and let us hope, redemption. 

Juvenile Fiction Selection: The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and A Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson

It is the year 1854 and a deadly cholera outbreak has come to Broad Street in London.  A young Orphan named Eel and his best friend Florrie team up to help Dr. John Snow prove that cholera is spread through water and not by poisonous air, as is the belief at the time.  This is a great story about the history of public health and about one young orphan finding a purpose through science.  Based on true events,this book combines historical fiction, a medical mystery, and a survival story all into one exciting tale.  (Grades 5-8 School Library Journal)  

 

 

 

Teen Adventure Pick: Mosquitoland

After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim is dragged from her home in Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi.  When she learns that her mother is sick in Ohio, Mim confronts her demons on a thousand-mile odyssey from “mosquitoland” to her Ohio mother that redefines her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

Sci-Fi for Teens: The Cipher

You think your emails are private? Is your credit card number secure?  That government secrets and nuclear codes are safe from hacking?  Th1ink aga1n.  Robert 'Smiles' Smylie and his friend Ben become embroiled in a high-stakes negotiation with a pair of suspicious Feds when Ben cracks a code with the power to unlock all the Internet's secrets.

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