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Few have written more eloquently about abuses of authority than Junot Díaz. He took it on in his Pulitzer Prize-winning book "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," a withering critique of American imperialism embedded in a story of aspiration and brutality. He faced it down from many directions in his short story collections "Drown," from 1996, and "This Is How Your Lo…

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The Lackawanna Public Library – just four years shy of turning 100 – was the last Carnegie Library built of more than 1,650 libraries constructed in the United States by the Carnegie Foundation. And like some grande dames, the Colonial Revival building is due for a facelift. Thanks to more than $1.56 million in New York State library construction funding, Lackawanna'…

YOUNG ADULT I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman; Viking, 272 pages ($18.99) Ages 14 and up. Three lonely young people, all struggling with profound loss and the oppressive burden of impossible expectation, meet in a dramatic accident  in New York's Central Park and forge a strong connection with each other in this exquisite heartbreaker of a novel by the gifted Gayle …

CHILDREN’S Aru Shah and the End of Time, Book One in the Pandava quartet by Roshani Chokshi; Rick Riordan Presents/Disney-Hyperion Imprint, 368 pages ($16.99). Ages 8 to 12. ... A death-defying quest to save the world featuring a 12-year-old girl wearing Spider-Man pajamas is the marvelous first outing for "Percy Jackson" creator Rick Riordan's new imprint dedicated t…

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CHILDREN’S NONFICTION Martin Rising: Requiem for a King by Andrea Davis Pinkney, paintings by Brian Pinkney; Scholastic, 123 pages ($19.99) Ages 9 to 12. (Jan. 2 publication) ... On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. comes this stunning poetic tribute to the martyred civil rights leader, focusing on the final weeks of his life as he …

YOUNG ADULT Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi; Simon & Schuster, 391 pages ($17.99) Ages 14 and up. Two lonely, damaged souls emerge from their solitude to connect - almost entirely by text message - in this whip-smart, hilarious and poignant love story, the debut novel  by Mary H.K. Choi, a culture correspondent for "Vice News Tonight" on HBO. The novel unfolds, i…

Local News

The latest edition of Books for Kids kicked off on a gloomy Tuesday morning, but inside the Salvation Army's Mitchell Owen Community Center, the faces of smiling children brightened the day. More than 2.8 million books have been distributed in Western New York during more than two decades of the annual fund drive. Sponsors of the event gathered at the community center t…

Books

This weekend, around the world, readers who love JRR Tolkien's work – especially The Lord of the Rings – will celebrate a Tolkien Reading Day, in Tolkien's honor. In one of the more unlikely episodes in my life, the England-based international Tolkien Society credits me with being the founder of the event. It's kind of a wonderful and surprising story, but this is absol…

GRAPHIC NOVEL New Shoes by Sara Varon; First Second, 205 pages ($17.99) ... From the creator of the acclaimed "Robot Dreams, "Bake Sale, "Odd Duck" and "Sweather Weather" comes another adorable, wondrously imaginative tale, set in a village in the Amazon rainforest, of friendship, community and venturing out of your comfort zone. Francis the donkey is the best shoemaker…

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It's a tossup between baseball and boxing. Considering that we're in basketball's championship season, maybe we should make it a jump ball between them. The question is: Which sport--baseball or boxing--has engendered the greatest contributions to American literature? Some would rush to nominate baseball, "the great American game," on the strength of truly great nove…

Books

The news is full of stories about refugees fleeing harsh and often uninhabitable conditions. Viet Thanh Nguyen (pronounced like "Win") knows something about that. Nguyen came to the United States at age 4 with his family from Vietnam following the fall of Saigon. His search for identity led to his debut novel, "The Sympathizer," a spy novel set in Vietnam that earned…

YOUNG ADULT What the Night Sings by Vesper Stamper; Knopf Books for Young Readers, 272 pages ($19.99) Ages 12 and up. ... This powerful debut novel, beautifully illustrated by the author in somber shades of brown, tells the story of a young Holocaust survivor, a gifted singer who finds herself alone in the world at 17, forced to rebuild her life and find her place…

Art

Aidan Ryan is trying to answer a question about bad hockey and good poetry. "Right now, if you go to a Sabres game, you'll get like 15,000 people in the crowd," the young poet said about attendance at the game the dismal performance of Buffalo's NHL team. "They're paying to go watch the Sabres to perform at that level. Why can't we get these people interested in poetry?" …

YOUNG ADULT A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena; Farrar Straus Giroux, 369 pages ($17.99) Ages 14 and up. ... Blood is pooling on the highway, as the spirits of 16-year-old Zarin and 18-year-old Porus hover over the scene of their fatal highway accident in Jeddah, Saudia Arabi, in the opening chapter of this brilliant, powerful, unforgettable debut novel by Tanaz Bhathen…