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Cover art for Runaway Man

Runaway Man

Written by David Handler

Young Benji Golden, one-time aspiring actor, is now working for the struggling family business, Golden Legal Services, which was started by his late father, an ex-cop, and his mother, former pole dancer. Benji and his mother are hired by a lawyer from a prestigious New York City firm to find a missing college student who they claim is due to inherit a large sum of money. However, once Benji delves into the case, he discovers that all is not what it seems.

So many crime fiction stories published currently are unrelentingly dark and violent, and although bad things certainly do happen in Runaway Man, there is also plenty of humor, and lots of colorful characters. Read it for the mysterious twists, turns, many red herrings, but also for a laugh.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for Finding Nouf

Finding Nouf

Written by Zoe Ferraris

Finding Nouf is a detective story, but at its heart, it offers a glimpse of what it is like to live in Saudi Arabia, where women's choices are restricted. However, the story makes you realize that many men also have limited options in a society with strict rules and customs. The main character, Nayir al-Sharqi, a guide knowledgeable in desert ways, is hired by a wealthy family to find their missing daughter, Nouf. As Nayir tries to solve the mystery, he ends up working with a well-educated but tradition-bound woman, and his reaction and response to her offers readers a glimpse into another way of life and belief.

Recommended by Mary
Cover art for The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues: A History of Greenwich Village

The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues: A History of Greenwich Village

Written by John Strausbaugh

The subtitle says it all: "400 years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues, A History of Greenwich Village."

Greenwich started as a country living community for the rich - John and Abigail Adams built a home there. It later was moved in order to build multi-family homes, became a theater, a stable and was then torn down. The city encroached and surrounded bucolic Greenwich. Still Village-like in scope it became a community of creative, unorthodox artists and misfits.

Strausbaugh did his homework. The story moves quickly, chock-full of American history, what started in Greenwich definitely did not stay in Greenwich. All the movements that crisscrossed America started here. The music, from folk to glam, the civil rights movement, gay and lesbian rights (Stonewall is here! - Dog Day afternoon happened here!). All the stories are true and Strausbaugh interviews and gives a history of what happened to the people.

A few of the names: Walt Whitman, Dylan Thomas, Diane Arbus, Poe, Cole Porter, Jack Kerouac, Robert Downey Sr & Jr, Jackson Pollack, John Waters, Robert Moses, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Thoroughly enjoyable, even if you have never been to NYC or Greenwich Village!

Recommended by Suzi
Cover art for Jingle Dancer

Jingle Dancer

Written by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright

Jenna loves the tradition of jingle dancing that has been shared by generations of women in her family, and she hopes to dance at the next powwow. But she has a problemó how will her dress sing if it has no jingles? After listening to a traditional tale, she decides to find her jingles from various family members.
Jenna is careful to borrow only a limited number of jingles, "not wanting to take so many that [another's] dress would lose its voice."
Seeing Jenna as both a modern girl in the suburban homes of her inter-tribal community and as one of many traditionally costumed participants at the powwow will give some readers a new view of a contemporary Native American way of life, thereís a harmonious meshing of the old and new ways.
A powerful feature of this wonderful picture book is how it tells a story about a Native girl and her family's traditions without resorting to age-old stereotypes. And itís got great illustrations. It would read aloud well.

Recommended by LouAnn
Cover art for Summertime, All the Cats are Bored

Summertime, All the Cats are Bored

Written by Philippe Georget

If, like me, you are a Francophile, then you will love this book. A decent mystery, with Very French detectives, and language that exposes the fact that this is a translation. I loved that aspect of the book, it felt European and fun.

The title has little to do with the story, although there is a cat and it may be bored. A Dutch girl is found murdered on a beach, then another Dutch girl goes missing, and a third Dutch girl is attacked in the street. The detectives of the Perpignan police station are not sure if the crimes are related. The girls are similar in age and appearance but otherwise lack a coherent connection. It is summer, the heat is intense and the lead detective is undergoing an existential crisis (it is after all FRANCE!).

The blurb on the front calls it "A Perfect Beach Read", I would say that it is perfect for anywhere.

Give it a try! Cheaper than a trip to France!

Recommended by Suzi
Cover art for If I Ever Get Out of Here

If I Ever Get Out of Here

Written by Eric Gansworth

Lewis is the only Native American in the advanced track at his school. The other Indians may be proud of him, but he goes through the day in different classes and is friendless. He cuts off his braid in an effort to get the white kids to see him differently. The only result is his own feeling of loss.
This book explores a friendship between Lewis and a white Air Force "brat" who is into the similarities between Lewis and himself, rather than the differences. It is, however, a rare but honest look at culture and how people with vastly different upbringings and identities can clash. And dance. And laugh. Gansworth informs readers about cultural difference, but he doesn't beat anyone up as he does it.

Recommended by LouAnn
Cover art for The Bird Skinner: A Novel

The Bird Skinner: A Novel

Written by Alice Greenway

In this novel, Jim Kennoway, an ornithologist, reflects on his life, both his time in the Pacific Theater during World War II and his life now on a small remote island in Maine. He is haunted by his past, and when he receives a letter from the daughter of the Solomon Islander who helped him during the war, Jim's memories of the birds, the people, the war, and the death roll together quicker and quicker. He desperately needs help coming to terms with his past, but is steadfastly independent. The author has such control over the idiosyncracies of her main character and allows the reader to truly see him, flaws and all.

Recommended by Mary
Cover art for Mandarin Gate

Mandarin Gate

Written by Eliot Pattinson

Shan Tao Yun, formerly an inspector in Beijing, has been banished to Tibet in disgrace. China considers Tibet to be one of its autonomous regions, but in reality, many Tibetans live in persecution under Chinese authority. When a crime is committed and evidence is covered up by Chinese police, Shan begins his own investigation, during which a tender friendship develops between the Chinese investigator, who has immersed himself in Tibetan Buddhist life and belief, and one of the Tibetan monks he meets. Both men strive to hold on to Tibetan traditions as Shan tries to solve the mystery. If you enjoy this novel, try others in the Shan series by the same author.

Recommended by Mary
Cover art for Sabriel


Written by Garth Nix

After graduating from school, Sabriel is ready for her next challenge. It comes sooner than expected when she receives a message delivered by the dead forcing Sabriel to cross the prohibited zone into the magical old kingdom. Sabriel isnít sure what is happening, all she knows is her father is in trouble and she must find him. After living in non-magical world of Ancelstierre, she might not be aware of the dangers facing her, even from the people or creatures claiming to help her. This book has a special place in my heart for being one of the first fantasy novels I read featuring a female main character. Not only that, Sabriel isnít an orphan and doesnít need the guidance of some older wizard to help her figure out what is going on. The characters, the setting, and the magic work together to make a book that is hard to put down.

Recommended by Kate
Cover art for To Say Nothing of the Dog

To Say Nothing of the Dog

Written by Connie Willis

The idea of time travel is exciting; traveling back and forth in time to perfect the restoration of a cathedral is exhausting. Therefore, Ned Henry has been sent back to the Victorian era for a little bit of rest, and to fix a slight hiccup in the time stream caused by a colleague. Simple, right? Only the colleague doesnít know where the hiccup happened and the harder they try and find it, the more out of sync time becomes. If Ned is unsuccessful, it isnít just his job on the line, all of space and time could be destroyed.

Recommended by Kate

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