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Book Reviews
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Interior Chinatown
by Charles Yu

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Yu is a successful television writer (Westworld, etc.) and it shows in this 2020 National Book Award winner for fiction. Written allegorically in a tele-play format, Yu speaks volumes of truth about how Hollywood treats Asian actors, pigeon-holing them in cliched, racist roles. But there is much humor here too -- set on a backdrop of how different generations of an Asian family survive economically and socially in Los Angeles. This novel is fresh, insightful and ever-so-slightly weird in a good way!

Next Level Basic
by Stassi Schroeder

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Sometimes you need a light read, though I'm embarrassed to admit I actually spent money on this book. Reality TV is a guilty pleasure of mine, and the show Vanderpump Rules is no exception. Stassi Schroeder is best known for that show, but has also been on others, including Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I didn't go into reading this book expecting anything particularly insightful, so I wasn't disappointed there. It was good to learn a little bit more about Schroeder's life (and some of the failed relationships for which she's become known). Still, this book was so formulaic. It was the "basic" take on the same rules of life themed books you see from Rachel Hollis, etc., but missing the Christian overtones. Honestly, if you're obsessed with Bravo shows, this is a cute book if you can get it from the library. Just don't spend your money on it.

Big Sky
by Kate Atkinson

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What isn't to like about Kate Atkinson!? After straying from her detective series with some real winners like Life After Life and A God in Ruins, she's back with the latest adventure of Private Detective, Jackson Brodie. This time around, our beloved Brodie has stumbled upon a sex trafficking ring operating out of a sleepy seaside village on the East Coast of England. Full of wonderful characters, delicious plot twists and Atkinson's signature low-key British sarcasm and humor. A great summer read!

Split Level
by Sande Boritz Berger

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Split Level kept popping up as a book suggestion on my Kindle, so I decided to give it a try. It made me somewhat grateful that I wasn't around in the 1970s for dating and early marriage. Alex Pearl, the narrator, is a bored New Jersey housewife living in a suburb with her husband and two young kids. Maybe the magic has gone out of the Pearls' marriage. Maybe it was never there in the first please. The two head for a weekend marriage retreat, something that was apparently de rigueur during that era, and come out of the weekend at Marriage Mountain with more advice than they bargained for. Alex's husband Donny is more than on board with the recommendations another retreat attendee made, which eventually leads to the couple becoming entangled with another husband and wife from their community. Can a married couple temporarily leave monogamy behind and emerge unscathed? That's the dilemma the Pearls face, with their lives unraveling at the same time as Richard Nixon experienced his downfall. This was an interesting departure from the typical summer beach reads and a nostalgic look back, for those who lived through it, at an era with much change and tumult.

The Martian
by Andy Weir

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I really enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend it. The protagonist was such a strong character and my vision of life on Mars has certainly changed.

Born A Crime
by Trevor Noah

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I liked this book very much. The author's story about growing up half-black in South Africa during apartheid was very enlightening. Very sad historical truths told from his own comic perspective. But I mostly remember it because it was a very loving tribute to his mother, and all she endured.

Cross Creek
by Majorie Rawlings

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I have read this book several times in my life--and I do not like to re-read books but each time I read it I get something different from it. Ms. Rawlings was a Pulizer prize winner for her book "The Yearling" in a pre-WW II period when few women where able to make a living writing. The book "Cross Creek" describes her home in Florida (purchased with her own money), and lived there without a husband (even after she married her second husband he only visited a few weeks at a time). She bought the house and the orange grove with an expectation that the orange sales would keep her financially afloat enough to write. She was right (mostly) about the grove as an income and wrong (mostly) that she would have oodles of time to write. In "Cross Creek" she describes the land, the people, the weather, and her love of growing things. Excellent descriptions. I am in awe of a woman who was so independent at a time when women were supposed to be wives and mothers only. *Disclaimer*-- this book was written and published at a time when racial prejudices were accepted as truths, so there is language that would never be printed now.

Fell Of Dark
by Caleb Roehrig

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Not your average YA vampire story! Not too much romance but a whole lot of adventure. A fast-paced and interesting story told from the perspective of a misfit teen in a mostly boring town.

Whiskers In The Dark
by Rita Mae Brown

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This was not one of my favorites in the Mrs. Murphy series. In other books, the animals actually help solve the crime. In this book, I felt the animals were just an add-on. I found the crime a bit implausible and there was too much of the author's personal opinion of recent events.

Rituals Of The Season
by Margaret Maron

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I loved the book, excellent read!


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