The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell

  Don't pick up The Wordy Shipmates expecting a grown-up version of Thanksgiving-centered lesson plans from grade school. Sarah Vowell offers an accurate portrayal of the Puritans in this well-researched non-fiction title, which regularly quotes primary source material and is delivered in a fast-paced, humorous, narrative style. Vowell introduces us to colorful characters who pop off the page, real people from our country's past who demand attention and dare to be remembered. She brings history to life. I especially loved learning more about Roger Williams and the founding of Rhode Island. Here's this crazy zealot who, despite his own fanatical beliefs, believes in and advocates for the separation of church and state so wholeheartedly that he is exiled. He's a man well ahead…

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Little Island by Katharine Britton

  Little Island caught my attention when I happened to be in the mood for a contemporary fiction, family-drama type of novel, and it had the added bonus of being set in Maine. It didn't disappoint. Joy, her mother Grace, her father Gar, and her twin siblings Roger and Tamar have been working through a tragedy from their past, one that has affected each of them in a different way. When they come together to hold a memorial service for Grace's mother, tensions come to a head. Each family member is forced to deal with one another, as well as look within to find peace. The dialogue was realistic, the characters complex. Britton spent plenty of time fleshing them out.…

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