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Buxton's account of humanity's demise, narrated through the eyes of S.T., a domesticated crow fond of all things human,especially cheetos, is absurdly entertaining. Shifting between humor and pathos to great effect, we see the nature of our world graphically revealed in its contamination, and subsequent cleansing. The story is enriched by a cast of other animal narrators and characters, the heroic bloodhound Dennis, Winnie the Poodle, the ferocious Ghengis Cat, and a contemplative humpback whale. The Hollow Kingdom lingers in one's thought well beyond its last pages.

Weymouth, author of the excellent Light Between Worlds, has produced a sublimely atmospheric coming of age story built around the premise that the realm of England is safeguarded by the powers of six ancient houses and their keepers. The houses are sentient, magic wielding dwellings whose powers control the well being of their surrounding territories and are duty bound to serve the Crown.  In Treason of Thorns a young keeper Violet  finds herself torn between duty to house and crown as her own house Burleigh, veers toward madness and rebellion.

Harkening back to Holiday Book Picks of Yore this book is actually a reprint of a book of humorous cat photos originally published in 1911. Charming and still very funny, cat lovers will rejoice to receive this collection of vintage cat humor.

Renowned Maine author and illustrator mat Tavares has outdone himself with this exquisitely illustrated tale of one of Santa's reindeer. Young Dasher lives in a traveling circus performing under a hot sun. His mother regales him with magical tales of the distant north and Dasher, being brave, escapes during a storm which has blown the pen door open. He follows the north star to find his destiny. Dasher is sure to be a beloved holiday classic.

It is much easier to find books set in Maine than it is to find books which feel like they really took place here. Julia Drake's outstanding young adult debut novel, The Last True Poets of the Sea, has, apart from all its other virtues, one of the most authentic Maine settings you'll find in a novel.  The book follows Violet, a New Yorker  whose great, great grandmother Fidelia was the sole survivor of a shipwreck off the northern Maine Coast. Fidelia swam to shore, and remained there, founding the town of Lyric Maine. Violet, in the wake of a family emergency in which she has played a critical, and disappointing role, is sent to Lyric for the Summer, staying with her Uncle.  The search for the sunken vessel her grandmother arrived on, along with surviving the personal wreckage which brought her to Lyric, is the foundation of a book teeming with depth, romance, intrigue, and self exploration. Resting on nuance rather than easy answers The Last True Poets of the Sea delivers a truly exceptional reading experience.

With The Last Equation Gibbs, author of the popular Spy School books, launches a new espionage series built around tough egg and thirteen year old girl genius Charlie Thorne.  This is a terrific story which incorporates a fascinating plot device, an equation, Pandora, developed by Einstein butwhich he considered too dangerous for humanity. Pandora's whereabouts are being chased by the CIA, Mossad, and an evil minded group known as the Furies. Einstein hid the equation where he hoped  only someone safe to find it will be able to discover, and Charlie is brought in by her CIA half brother to see if she can find it before the Furies do. Charlie is a very appealing character and the story has just the right blend of action, adventure, and puzzle solving.

Setting the table for a sumptuous many course feast is no easy task, it must intimate what is to come and hint at looming surprises, it must establish attachment and suspense and deliver both the familiar and the exotic.  A Hero Born, the first book in an historical epic of China, The Legends of the Condor Heroes, carries off its table setting function with the panache one would expect from a beloved national saga.  Set in the 13th century during the wars between the Jin and Song dynasties, and during the rise of Genghis Khan and the Mongol invasion, it introduces us to varied sages and villains, heroes and heroines, exotic martial valor, mysteries and secrets all of which comprise the central pillars of the Legends of the Condor Heroes. These books, long celebrated in China, are a tale of patriotism set against the backdrop of foreign invasion and domestic corruption, much as is Henryk Sienkiewicz's classic Polish Trilogy. And as with other national epics such as Eiji Yoshikawa's Mushashi and Taiko and Alexander Dumas' Musketeer Cycle, Jin Yong's A Hero Born immerses its new Western audience in a whole new world of martial traditions and history supported with the familiar, universal pleasures of epic literature at its best. 

Toddlers and their parents will love sharing this wonderfully engaging book with its simple word play, gentle adventure, charming illustrations,  and sly humor. A revelation on every page awaits its readers. Children will want to return here many times and parents will not tire of joining them. Delightful!


This story of WWII American Spy Virginia Hall is both riveting and illuminating. Hall explodes gender barriers with the same force she employed using actual explosives and firearms. A well to do woman from Baltimore with a prosthetic leg, Hall managed to persuade Britain's Special Operations Executive to take her on as an operative in occupied France where Hall embarked on an amazing career of galvanizing the French Resistance movement and fighting Nazi Germany. This is an exceptional and fascinating account of WWII espionage seen though a unique lens.

Munroe, who has a genius for combining good science with absurd contexts, is the author of two previous fun titles What If? and Thing Explainer. He has delivered the goods again with how to: Absurd Scientific Advice For Common Real World Problems. Aptly billed as "the world's most entertaining  and useless self help guide" how to offers sketchy but scientifically plausible advice on how to do such things as catch a wedding-photography drone with sports equipment, make friends and cross rivers using accurate, but manifestly unsafe or ill considered applications of applied physics.

Bardugo's transition from writing young adult to adult fiction is a towering success. Ninth House 's  main protagonist, Alex Stern, is sure to draw deserved comparisons to Lisbeth Salander for her nuanced imperfections, outsize savagery, creative moral architecture, arresting and florid candor, and gritty vulnerability. The book is filled with vivid, viscerally realized characters, taut, unexpected and terrifying narratives, and a wonderfully evocative and unsavory New Haven cursed by its proximity to the netherworld, its veils too thin between the living and the dead. This is a page turner for the ages, an immersive, entertaining, and engaging reading experience whose only disappointment comes from having finished it.

Accomplished poet Ross Gay took it upon himself to record one instance or aspect of delight every day for a year. The result  is just as the title indicates, absolutely delightful and a steady antidote to the heaviness and despair which often threatens to engulf our vision. Gay's eye finds delight in small moments and surprising places, deftly affecting the sight of his readers, infectiously luring them into uncovering simple joys in their own worlds. The Book of Delights is as perfect a gift book as you'll ever encounter.

Georgie fears the night and Dragon fears Knights. As the two of them share their stories a friendship forms, leading to an adventure. This reassuring story is filled with warmth and wonder and is perfect for bedtime or anytime really. Krause's illustrations are as superb as his text.


The team which has brought children the enormously popular The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home delivers a holiday book sure to please their legion of fans. This tale of how the different crayons celebrate the holidays includes interactive lists and letters, a pop up Christmas tree, and even a menorah as it turns out that one of the crayons celebrates Hanukkah.

A Coffee Table Book should be jaw dropping and engaging wherever you pick it up or place it down. This book of Joni Mitchell's early songs and drawings has that going for it and more. The evocative drawings, lovely script, and the power of its words conspire to transport the lucky person who has this book in her hands. Morning Glory On The Vine is both a must see and a glorious gift book.

Night Circus author Erin Morgenstern's long awaited second novel is simply sublime. The Starless Sea's exploration and immersion in a world of other books, their making, care, and reading, results in  a magnificently layered world built of stories, world building, secrets and secret societies, wayfaring, the machinations of love and time, the adventures of fighting and yielding to change.  All of the  alluring elements of which it is made find a singularly powerful voice in the rich, honeyed pages of the Starless Sea. This is an ambitious book, fully realized, that any lover of words will savor.

There's nothing not to love about Klawde, the evil alien world cat, though his many enemies on planet Lytterboks, such as General FFang, might disagree. Exiled to the planted Earth by the Supremest Court of all Galactic Order Klawde must strive to escape and gain his revenge on FFang while dealing with the hazards he finds on our backwater planet. Young readers will devour Klawde's supremely entertaining adventures.

The big national debut by Farmington author Shana Youngdahl  is an absolute tour de force. Am I biased in the book's favor because I know Shana? No! The book has such a dynamic immediacy, a skillfully intricate narrative structure, and a challenging, open ended engagement with its protagonists, that any positive personal  bias I came in with was subsumed in the obvious and true excellence of the book.

The story is narrated by Scarlett, a big fish in a small Colorado town, with a passion for physics. The book’s power partially derives from the reader’s strong attachment to a character who embarks on a string of incredibly painful bad decisions. Scarlett is a subtly unreliable narrator. Her perception of herself as a careful person who doesn’t ordinarily make impulsive mistakes, the reader comes to realize, is slightly off center. Another exceptional element of the book derives from Scarlett’s adherence to Einstein’s understanding of the simultaneity of the past, present and future, an illusion of linear progression but in fact a perpetual series of nows. Shana takes Scarlett’s notion of time to create a narrative whose constant temporal shifts accentuates the power of the story. This is a book which will speak strongly to most anyone from fifteen to adult.

The description on this book notes that thru-hiker "Geraldine 'Gerry' Largay went missing on the Appalachian Trail in remote western Maine in July 2013." What is remote elsewhere is home to us, of course. Gerry Largay was lost just north of Farmington off the trail section which runs between Saddleback and Sugarloaf.  This account of her disappearance and the two year search for her is of intense local interest and Dauphinee's account provides a well crafted and thorough telling of this close to home tragedy.

Truth in advertising has never been used to better effect than in this infectious book which literally is nothing but a series of picture of cute animals that will make you feel better. What home or office doesn't need some of those!

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