Reading Room Book Reviews: New Books by Hudson Valley Authors in March 2015

New and noteworthy books of local interest, including My Life in Dioramas, The Worlds of the Seventeenth-Century Hudson Valley, Flirting With French, and Watch Me Go


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my life in dioramas

Need something to read this month? These four new titles have a local spin:

Young adult author Tara Altebrando (The Battle of Darcy Lane) returns with her seventh novel, My Life in Dioramas (Running Press Kids, $14.95). In this story, 12-year-old Kate Marino must face her parents’ decision to sell their Hudson Valley home, an old farmhouse Kate calls Big Red. So Kate begins the battle she must fight to keep her only home; sabotage, stink bugs, and fake dogs are only a part of her plan. But in the midst of the fight, Kate also works to preserve the memories she’s made by creating dioramas of her friends and the places she loves. Altebrando’s poignant storytelling is accompanied by T.I. Bonaddio’s vivid, charcoal-like illustrations. My Life in Dioramas is set for release this April.

the worlds of seventeenth-century hudson valley

Eleven leading scholars have lent their expertise to a new book highlighting life in the Valley 400 years ago. The Worlds of the Seventeeth-Century Hudson Valley (SUNY Press/Excelsior Editions, $80) is a fresh analysis of the relationships between European settlers and Native Americans, the colonization of the land, and the evolution of imperialism. Dennis J. Maika of the New Netherland Institute calls the 265-page book, “A perfect tribute to the Hudson Valley’s unique history and how it changed forever in the decades following Henry Hudson’s 1609 voyage.” The book is edited by Jaap Jacobs, an honorary lecturer at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, while Roper is a professor of history at SUNY New Paltz.

flirting with french

William Alexander’s newest release, Flirting With French (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $15.95), is an autobiographical account of Alexander’s trip to France to become fluent in the language — even though he doesn’t speak it. The book explores the Hudson Valley resident’s mishaps and miscommunications with the androgynous locals, as well as a class he takes in Provence and his adventures in the Académie française. The New York Times calls his delivery and timing “flawless.”

watch me go

Douglas “Deesh” Sharp has been void of any trouble while living in the Bronx. But when he makes the decision to help dispose of a sealed oil drum that smells like a dead body, he finds himself up against time at Rikers Island. In Watch Me Go (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $26.95), his story is interwoven with that of Jan Price. When Jan, a 22-year-old aspiring jockey from the Finger Lakes, shares her stories, it becomes clear how pieces of their stories match up. Author Mark Wisniewski (Show Up, Look Good), a former resident of the Hudson Valley, uses Poughkeepsie and other areas of the Valley to set up Deesh’s story. In addition to novels, Wisniewski also writes poetry and short stories, and has won several awards.

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