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Ellen_C

Ellen_C

Joined May 2016

review
Ellen_C
Janis: Her Life and Music | Holly George-Warren
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Well researched bio of Janis Joplin. Starts with her parents and takes us through teen years, California, music, drugs, fame. Holly George-Warren shows how Janis remained close to family, was driven to succeed at music but succumbed to the negative thinking of her father‘s “Saturday night swindle” philosophy, that you can never win. https://cannonballread.com/2019/11/janis-her-life-and-music-elcicco/

5 likes1 stack add
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Ellen_C
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Mehso-so

Biography of an influential and unconventional woman from my home town, Cincinnati. Storer was a wealthy woman involved in business, art and politics. Her religious fervor clashed with politics in most interesting ways. https://cannonballread.com/2019/11/maria-longworth-storer-from-music-and-art-to-...

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Ellen_C
The House of Broken Angels | Luis Alberto Urrea
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Beautiful story of family, death, life. Big Angel has just buried his mother and is about to celebrate his last birthday with family. He and others reflect on his life, what makes family, how one lives with the past while moving forward. https://cannonballread.com/2019/11/the-house-of-broken-angels-a-novel-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
The Stationery Shop | Marjan Kamali
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A story of interrupted love & political upheaval in Iran, similar in some ways to The Saffron Kitchen. In 1953 Tehran, Roya and Bahman are engaged. When they are to meet on the square to elope, the coup begins and the two are separated. Years later, Roya now in her 70s in the US, reunites with Bahman and we find out what happened in 1953. I preferred this to The Saffron Kitchen. https://cannonballread.com/2019/10/the-stationery-shop-novel-elcicco/

9 likes1 stack add
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Ellen_C
The Saffron Kitchen | Yasmin Crowther
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Story of Maryam, who left Iran under tragic conditions and made a life with an English husband & their daughter Sara in London. Tragedy impels her to return to Iran, but Sara, out of both anger and love, follows to find out what happened to her mother, the truth about her past. Beautiful story with no easy endings. https://cannonballread.com/2019/10/the-saffron-kitchen-a-novel-elcicco/

Tamra Sounds great! 1mo
4 likes1 comment
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Ellen_C
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Extraordinary historical fiction about the last days of David Livingstone in Africa & the efforts of his African attendants to move his body & papers 1500 miles to the coast & England. Narrated by two members of the party, female cook Halima and freed slave Jacob Wainwright (both real people), the novel examines colonialism‘s impact on those most directly affected. https://cannonballread.com/2019/10/out-of-darkness-shining-light-elcicco/

4 likes1 stack add
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Ellen_C
Oksana, Behave! | Maria Kuznetsova
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Delightful debut novel about a girl whose family moves from Kiev to the US. Oksana has to deal with uprootedness, loss, frustrated love, disappointing career options as she strives to become a writer. And she has a Baba who can both drive her crazy and inspire her. https://cannonballread.com/2019/09/oksana-behave-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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Incredible anti-war novel, the story of Billy Pilgrim, who has become unstuck in time. Billy, like Vonnegut, witnessed the firebombing of Dresden as a POW. Billy also has been abducted by aliens, been a successful businessman, and more, always knowing his inevitable future. Great read for #BannedBooksWeek https://cannonballread.com/2019/09/slaughterhouse-five-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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Mehso-so

I am probably one of the only women I know who does not love this book. I thought it was a bore as a kid and my opinion has only marginally changed as an adult. It‘s an American classic about four impoverished sisters growing up during the Civil War and after. It‘s based on Alcott‘s own life, and apparently, she didn‘t much like her own story! https://cannonballread.com/2019/09/little-women-elcicco/

9 likes1 stack add
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Ellen_C
March | Geraldine Brooks
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Outstanding work of historical fiction that imagines what Mr. March — Marmee‘s husband & father to the “Little Women” — did during the civil war. Brooks provides incredible historical detail and a story of personal relationships between March, Marmee and slave named Grace. Won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006. I love Brooks‘ novels. They are so well researched and written. https://cannonballread.com/2019/09/march-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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Excellent collection of essays, part memoir, part cultural and political critique. Blends humor with keen observations and ultimately challenges those of us who fancy ourselves “progressive” to put our money where out mouth is. https://cannonballread.com/2019/09/the-awkward-thoughts-of-w-kamau-bell-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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I just did a re-read of the first 3 in the HP series. I had forgotten how delightful they are! So much better than the movies!! Rowlings attention to details, character development and tackling of serious issues is magical itself. I probably won‘t be able to stop reading now. https://cannonballread.com/2019/09/harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone-and-harr...

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Ellen_C
The Age of Innocence | Edith Wharton
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I love Edith Wharton! This novel is another incisive, gut wrenching look at “moneyed” New York and its stifling conventions. Newland Archer is engaged to the lovely May Welland, but when May‘s cousin Countess Ellen Olenska arrives in New York, scandal follows. https://cannonballread.com/2019/09/the-age-of-innocence-elcicco/

Tamra I love her too! 3mo
Cathythoughts 👍🏻♥️ 3mo
12 likes2 comments
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Ellen_C
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I can‘t get enough of JY Yang‘s Tensorate series. In book #4, the Protector has been assassinated, and the leader of the rebellion, Lady Han drunkenly reveals to an anonymous interviewer her own personal history and her political and personal ties to Hekate, the deceased. Each of these stories presents a unique narrative voice and very cool take on relationships and power. https://cannonballread.com/2019/08/the-ascent-to-godhood-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
Trail of Lightning | Rebecca Roanhorse
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First book in what looks like a great series, features strong female protagonist, Navajo history & culture. In the future, the Big Water has wiped out most of the US, with the Navajo nation surviving. Monsters have returned though too and some people, including Maggie Hoskie have acquired formidable clan powers. Part mystery, part thriller, potential for romance. Great fight scenes! https://cannonballread.com/2019/08/trail-of-lightning-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
The Marrow Thieves | Cherie Dimaline
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YA dystopian fiction featuring Indigenous people, importance of history & memory. Environmental destruction has devastated the world. 16-year-old Frenchie has lost his family and is on the run with a small band of Native Americans. Indigenous people are being rounded up and put in “schools” so that their ability to dream, which non-Indigenous people have lost, can be harvested. https://cannonballread.com/2019/08/the-marrow-thieves-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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Title is The Bletchley Scandal in US. Fun little mystery set in interwar Europe and introducing Hilary Manningham-Butler, a former MI5 agent with a big secret that is in danger of being revealed at an MI5 reunion. But murder is afoot, and all the suspects are agents. For those who are fans of Wodehouse, Nick & Nora Charles https://cannonballread.com/2019/08/the-bletchley-scandal-a-hilary-manningham-but...

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Ellen_C
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Mehso-so

Ulf is on the run from a drug kingpin‘s henchmen and winds up in a remote north Norwegian village. There, despite his best efforts to stay lost and alone, he becomes entangled with the people of Kasund, a village of Sami people, some of whom practice an unusual form of Christianity. Interesting enough plot, although character development was a bit thin. https://cannonballread.com/2019/08/midnight-sun-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
Inherit the Wind | Jerome Lawrence, Robert Edwin Lee
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Incredibly timely play, Based on the “Scopes Monkey Trial” of 1925, this play features a science teacher jailed for teaching evolution and two courtroom titans who battle over matters of science, religion and a person‘s freedom to think and speak. Play was a response to McCarthyism and is eerily reminiscent of our current world. https://cannonballread.com/2019/08/inherit-the-wind-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
The Secret Garden | Frances Hodgson Burnett
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Childhood classic that has some important things to say about mental health and physical health as well as the importance of connecting to the natural world. https://cannonballread.com/2019/08/the-secret-garden-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
Carrie | Stephen King
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I liked this so much more than I expected to! Iconic story of prom gone wrong. King‘s storytelling keeps you turning page after page, even when you know what‘s coming. Also, really interesting way of writing about women, their relationships with each other and with their bodies/blood. https://cannonballread.com/2019/08/carrie-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
The Red Badge of Courage | Stephen Crane
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Mehso-so

As part of a reading bingo challenge, I re-read a book from my school days, and I chose one I remembered not liking. I still don‘t like it! While it presents a pretty honest picture of the horrors of war, it also kind of makes it seem glorious and the main character doesn‘t change much as a result of battle, IMO. https://cannonballread.com/2019/07/the-red-badge-of-courage-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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Fascinating mystery that spirals out to show how the disappearance of some school girls and their teacher ripples out to affect all those around them. Beautiful writing, and themes related to humanity, nature, time. https://cannonballread.com/2019/07/picnic-at-hanging-rock-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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Mehso-so

Kind of an uneven read. Lectures form 1963 by physicist Richard Feynman on the impact of science on other fields. First two essays are organized and provocative. Third is all over the place but makes some interesting points that will be important after the Challenger disaster. https://cannonballread.com/2019/07/the-meaning-of-it-all-thoughts-of-a-citizen-s...

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Ellen_C
A Study in Scarlet | Arthur Conan Doyle
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The first Sherlock Holmes mystery. Watson narrates his introduction to the brilliant, eccentric Sherlock Holmes and their investigation into the murder of an American in London. The first half is a tour de force featuring Holmes‘ astounding analytical abilities. Part 2 is the murderer‘s backstory, showing motive. A bit problematic due to the way a certain group of people is portrayed. https://cannonballread.com/2019/07/a-study-in-scarlet-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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I hate to admit that I had never read any Verne until this novel. What a delight! It‘s funny, informative, features some fascinating characters and a sort of chase. I was on the edge of my seat! A product of its time (1873), it also features some racist/colonialist views but still an entertaining story. https://cannonballread.com/2019/07/around-the-world-in-eighty-days-elcicco/

BarbaraBB Excellent review! I just read this one too and was equally surprised about how much I liked it! 4mo
6 likes1 comment
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Ellen_C
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Panpan

Volumes 2 and 3. Disappointing! Each volume has a different writer so the story is not coherent. Cliffhangers from volume 1 are not resolved. Weird plot twists are thrown in with little explanation. I am willing to suspend belief to a certain extent with sci fi but your story has to hold together! https://cannonballread.com/2019/07/snowpiercer-2-the-explorers-and-snowpiercer-3...

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Ellen_C
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Mehso-so

Interesting French graphic novel. Due to a climate disaster, the world is an uninhabitable frozen wasteland. Survivors live aboard the train Snowpiercer, which is set up by strict class division. When a runaway from third class is caught in second, investigations begin and revolution is in the air. https://cannonballread.com/2019/07/snowpiercer-vol-i-the-escape-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
NOTES TO SELF: Essays | EMILIE. PINE
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Brilliant collection of essays that are personal but speak to bigger themes related to feminism, body image, abuse, and more. By writing about events in her life that she has never discussed with anyone before, Pine shows both vulnerability and power. https://cannonballread.com/2019/07/notes-to-self-essays-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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This book will break your heart & make you angry. Post WWII, a young woman becoming pregnant out of wedlock was such a source of shame that she was hidden away, sent to a home for unwed mothers, essentially forced to surrender her child for adoption. This is the story of these women. https://cannonballread.com/2019/07/the-girls-who-went-away-the-hidden-history-of...

Megabooks Such a good book!! 5mo
7 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Ellen_C
Wicked Saints: A Novel | Emily A. Duncan
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Panpan

This fantasy novel starts with an interesting premise but becomes problematic quickly. Poor character development, a weak and dithering female protagonist, confusing plot lines and characters who practice magic by cutting themselves. Ugh. No thanks. https://cannonballread.com/2019/06/wicked-saints-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
Piecing Me Together | Rene Watson
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Outstanding YA novel about a young woman straddling two worlds and trying to prove that she is capable of giving help to others, not just receiving help. Deals with racism, friendship and learning to self-advocate. https://cannonballread.com/2019/06/piecing-me-together-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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History of a small group of women who became spies and organized resistance in preparation for the allied invasion on D-Day. Very readable, good intro to the topic. Timely. Nazis are still evil, people!! We always need to be fighting them. https://cannonballread.com/2019/05/d-day-girls-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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Well done murder mystery featuring a female Parsi lawyer in 1921 India. Well researched and informative about law and religious practice, seclusion and divorce. Perveen Mistry has a pretty interesting background that helps her in her work representing the widows. https://cannonballread.com/2019/05/the-widows-of-malabar-hill-a-perveen-mistry-n...

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Ellen_C
Strange Practice | Vivian Shaw
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Mehso-so

First in what promises to be an entertaining series featuring Greta Helsing, doctor to monsters. A strange group of people dressed as monks lurk at night attacking and murdering, their focus seemingly turned against the monster community of London. Dr. Helsing is an especial target due to her work. Love the characters in this book (stronger than the plot). https://cannonballread.com/2019/05/strange-practice-a-dr-greta-helsing-novel-elc...

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Ellen_C
Our Lady of the Ruins | Robert Hazel, Traci Brimhall
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It‘s national poetry month. I received this book as a gift last year. It‘s a slim volume but the poems, dealing with women grieving and traumatized by apocalyptic events, are thought provoking and often deeply spiritual in nature. https://cannonballread.com/2019/04/our-lady-of-the-ruins-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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Loved this!! A story of one young woman‘s cry against patriarchy and injustice. Winnie tells her grown daughter the truth about her life in China before coming to the US just before the communist takeover. Fascinating account of war and of a horrific, abusive marriage, and of friendship and secrets. https://cannonballread.com/2019/04/the-kitchen-gods-wife-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
Excellent Women | Barbara Pym
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My first Pym novel. Mildred Lathbury, 30, is an “excellent woman” devoted to good works and church, and a “spinster.” An otherwise ordinary life gets thrown some curveballs when the Napiers, with handsome Rocky and his wife the anthropologist Helena, move in downstairs. Then, minister and friend Julian Malory unexpectedly gets engaged to a young widow. Delightful humorous writing! https://cannonballread.com/2019/03/excellent-women-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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A story of imperfect love between a mother and daughter and about the struggles and “ruthlessness” of being a writer. https://cannonballread.com/2019/03/my-name-is-lucy-barton-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
The Language of Flowers: A Novel | Vanessa Diffenbaugh
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Mehso-so

Novel about a young woman who, aging out of foster care and a group home, must learn to live on her own. Her skill with flowers will help her find work, but her past, especially her relationship with a foster parent who taught her about flowers, must be confronted. Themes related to parenting, motherhood and becoming a good person when you‘ve had few examples to follow. https://cannonballread.com/2019/03/the-language-of-flowers-a-novel-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
The Poet X | Elizabeth Acevedo
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YA novel written in verse. Xiomara is a budding poet but stifled by her family, religion and society that only sees her body/objectifies her. A teacher, her twin and her best friend are her allies as she tries to work around her mother to see a potential boyfriend and attend poetry club. When things hit the fan, she finds another unexpected ally. https://cannonballread.com/2019/03/the-poet-x-a-novel-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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Eye-opener. This “autobiographical novel” was self-published by an African American woman in 1859. It‘s the author‘s story of her indentured servitude and abuse in the north. Afterward reveals identity of the family she served — prominent abolitionists. https://cannonballread.com/2019/03/our-nig-elcicco/

2 likes1 stack add
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Ellen_C
On the Come Up | Angie Thomas
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Great follow-up to The Hate U Give. Bri is an aspiring rapper and student at Midtown School of the Arts. Racism experienced at school will influence her raps and lead to problems and hard questions. Another winner! https://cannonballread.com/2019/02/on-the-come-up-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
On the Come Up | Angie Thomas
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Great follow up to The Hate U Give. Bri is an aspiring rapper from Garden Heights and student at Midtown School of Arts. Racism at school will influence her rap, and will lead to troubles she didn‘t expect. What is success, who are you as a person, and can the two be reconciled? https://cannonballread.com/2019/02/on-the-come-up-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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It‘s a family history and the history of Chile. I do love when great writers combine history and fiction. It‘s a soap opera that‘s so good for you! Tolstoy was good at it, too! https://cannonballread.com/2019/02/the-house-of-the-spirits-a-novel-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
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Illustrations by Eugene Yelchin. National Book Award Finalist. Great story about Goblin/Elf diplomacy, prejudice and learning to change one‘s views. Spy thriller and buddy comedy in one! https://cannonballread.com/2019/01/the-assassination-of-brangwain-spurge-elcicco...

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Ellen_C
Boxers & Saints | Gene Luen Yang, Lark Pien
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Graphic novel about Boxer Rebellion. Bao‘s childhood experience makes him want to fight “foreign devils” and their Christian converts in China. Vibiana‘s experience of an abusive family draws her toward Christianity. Both teens on a journey to understand how they are meant to live. History, spirituality and morality in 2 brilliant stories that intersect. https://cannonballread.com/2019/01/american-born-chinese-and-boxers-and-saints-e...

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Ellen_C
Dread Nation Sneak Peek | Justina Ireland
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Loved this story about Jane McKeene, zombie-fighter extraordinaire. But the real monsters are inside the walls. Civil war ended as result of zombie uprising, there are still people called “Survivalists” working to restore pre-war ways. Children of color are forced to go to combat schools and protect cities/whites. When white families disappear, Jane and friends get sucked into a real horror. https://cannonballread.com/2019/01/dread-nation-elcicco/

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Ellen_C
The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories | Neil Gaiman, Nnedi Okorafor, Claire North, Maria Dahvana Headley, Kirsty Logan, E. J. Swift, Kamila Shamsie, Monica Byrne, Sophia Al-Maria, Amal El-Mohtar, James Smythe, Sami Shah, Catherine King, Hermes, Jamal Majoub, J. Y. Yang, K.J. Parker, Kuzhali Manickavel, Nada Adel Sobhi, Saad Hossein, Usman Malik
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Brilliant collection of short stories related to djinn/jinn/genies. Set in the past, modern day and future; on earth and in outer space. This is not just entertaining and provocative (some are downright scary) but a great chance to read authors you might not have heard of before. https://cannonballread.com/2019/01/the-djinn-falls-in-love-and-other-stories-elc...

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Ellen_C
Krampus! | Brian Joines
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Hilarious and delightful graphic novel for teens or older about how the Secret Society of Santas turn to their prisoner Krampus to help get back their powers when the remains of St. Nicholas are stolen by the Sugar Plum Fairies. Who do they work for? Who is really naughty and is anyone nice?? https://cannonballread.com/2018/12/you-better-watch-out-cannonball/