Vicky Berdecio

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Raven, Tell a Story

Summary: 
Local author Anne Donaghy tells the story of Tessa Ravenwing, a young woman who lives in a village in the mountains of Alaska. Raised by her grandmother, she learns the role of healer and storyteller at a very young age. The story begins in the year 2091 when a military weapons manufacturer controls the US government for its own profit. At seventeen Tessa decides to become an underground resistance fighter. Can she and other kindred spirits with unusual psychic gifts overthrow violent tyranny without using violence? This book weaves together indigenous mythology and exquisite descriptions of nature with a riveting story line and much suspense. It will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final page.

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Clock Dance : a novel

Summary: 
The prolific writer and Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Tyler has come up with a new novel. The story of a woman named Willa begins in 1967 when she is a young schoolgirl, then fast-forwards to 1977 when she is in college. Then the narrative moves to 1997 when she is a young widow coping with the loss of her husband in a car accident. Then in 2017, at the age of sixty, she is longing to become a grandmother. How she finds a new family in Baltimore is the kind of story Anne Tyler tells best.

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Check Me Out

Summary: 
This novel features a twenty-something young woman named Greta who works as a library assistant in the small town of Franklin, Ohio. When the library is threatened with closure Greta leaps into action. She arranges a fund-raising musical contest and a visit from a beloved children's book author. She also stages a controversial protest which gets the whole town talking. In addition to her work at the library, the story covers Greta's important relationships: her best friend Will, his cousin Mac, and a university student named Marigold. If you are looking for an easy-going, humorous summer read, this book might be for you!

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Alternate Side : a novel

Summary: 
New York Times bestselling author Anna Quindlen has come up with another fabulous novel - this one about a young couple, Nora and Charlie Nolan, living on the upper west side of Manhattan. The well-to-do block they live on is like a very small insular village unto itself, where everyone knows and cares for one another. Then one terrible morning an incident occurs which threatens the very foundation of the small neighborhood, as well as all their relationships, including the Nolans' marriage. Written with many insightful observations about class, race, family and work; this novel is a very enjoyable and eye-opening read. Anna Quindlen at her best.

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Beastly Brains : Exploring how animals think, talk and feel

Summary: 
Did you know that dolphins are able to recognize themselves when they look in a mirror? And bonobos share 98.5 % of our DNA and have been observed to use paintbrushes, make music and cook? Also, some crows are notorious problem solvers and tool users. This beautiful book written for children is illustrated with lovely color photographs of owls, dolphins, parrots, monkeys, elephants and chimps. Castaldo's premise is that "animals know more than we think and think a great deal more than we know" to quote Irene Pepperberg , an animal cognition scientist who worked for many years with an African grey parrot named Alex. Covering such topics as communication, self-awareness, making decisions and emotions and empathy, the author sheds light on the amazing capabilities of other sentient beings so that we might understand and reevaluate our relationship to them. This book makes a good case for the treatment of respect and loving-kindness for all living beings.

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Obama: An Intimate Portrait

Summary: 
This awesome New York Times bestseller is a collection of photographs and stories which document the eight years of Barack Obama's presidency. This beautiful book contains over 300 images which cover such events as President Obama and his advisers in the Situation Room during the bin Laden mission, to interactions with world leaders, as well as moments dancing with his wife Michelle and playing in the snow with his daughters Malia and Sasha. These images "reveal the spirit of the extraordinary man who became our president" and is a treasured record of contemporary American history.

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The Story of Arthur Truluv

Summary: 
This moving tale tells the story of three lonely souls: Arthur, Lucille and Maddy; who find comfort and compassion in a relationship with one another. Arthur is an elderly man who faithfully visits his wife Nola at the cemetery every day. Lucille is an older woman who gets together with her high school sweetheart, only to suddenly lose him to a heart attack. And Maddy is a pregnant eighteen-year old who insists on keeping her child, despite her father's wishes. Beautifully written, this novel depicts the importance of developing close friendships, finding happiness, and ultimately, the healing power of love, at any age.

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The Book of Lost Fragrances : a novel of suspense

Summary: 
This earlier novel by M.J. Rose (published in 2013) features Jac L'Etoile and her brother Robbie. It takes place in Paris, in the present day; as well as in ancient Egypt in Cleopatra's time, and during 1780's revolutionary France. The narrative weaves around some ancient pottery shards which still contain a scent which for some people can trigger past life memories. Jac's brother and her lover Griffin North are attempting to decipher the hieroglyphics on the ancient vessel, and Robbie is determined to give the shards to the Dalai Lama when he visits Paris. However, some members of the Chinese mafia also want the pottery, since China is attempting to repress the idea of reincarnation, in particular the location of the young man who is to succeed the Dalai Lama as Tibet's new leader. Combining history, passion and suspense, this novel is a wonder-filled and entertaining read you will not be able to put down.

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The Rules of Magic

Summary: 
Alice Hoffman's latest novel is a prequel to her bestseller "Practical Magic". It tells the story of three siblings with magical powers growing up in New York City at the cusp of the 1960's. They are members of the Owens family whose history dates back to the 1600's. There is Franny, the eldest, with blood-red hair; shy and beautiful Jet, who can read people's thoughts; and the youngest, Vincent, a handsome and charismatic musical wizard. During one summer the three siblings journey to a small town in Massachusetts to visit their aunt Isabelle. There they learn more about their secret family history from this wise older woman. This book is a story about the power of love, and a reminder of the importance of being true to yourself.

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Seduction : a novel of suspense

Summary: 
Another novel by M.J. Rose, this one was published in 2014. The main character is the mythologist Jac L'Etoile, also featured in a subsequent novel "The Collector of Dying Breaths"(reviewed previously). This story takes place on the isle of Jersey - part of Britain's Channel Islands - a place of magic and mystery dating back thousands of years to the ancient Celts. The narrative journeys back and forth from the present day, to the mid-19th century writings of Victor Hugo, to the centuries old Druids. Woven throughout this suspenseful tale are the spirits of the departed, references to reincarnation and dreams, mythology and the collective unconscious. This fast-paced evocative tale, set against the backdrop of the unrelenting ocean, will keep you enthralled, unable to put it down.

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