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By Yan Lianke, translated by Carlos Rojas (Grove Atlantic, $16). The author of “The Day the Sun Died” and winner of the Franz Kafka Prize writes about his family members’ struggles with poverty during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. “Throughout the book, Yan depicts his provincial relatives with enormous heart and respect, acknowledging their sacrifices in a dark yet poignant meditation on grief and death,” wrote a Kirkus reviewer.

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If you have an Amazon Echo, you’ve probably tapped into some of the cool features the virtual assistant Alexa can provide, from controlling your lights and thermostat to grocery shopping and reading off recipes. Now you can add sous-chef to the list of tasks Alexa has mastered—at least when it comes to reheating your food.

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Samantha Power, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “‘A Problem from Hell’: America and the Age of Genocide,” here tells her life’s journey from her Dublin childhood to stints in the Obama administration and United Nations.

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Musician/author/poet Patti Smith’s third volume of her memoirs — the first, “Just Kids,” won the National Book Award in 2010 — takes us through her life in her 70th year, in “a hybrid narrative that’s part travel journal, part reflexive essay on our times, and part meditation on existence at the edge of a new decade of life,” wrote an NPR reviewer, describing the book as “a beautifully realized and unique memoir that chronicles a transformative year in the life of one of our most multi-talented creative voices.”

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Diaz’s debut memoir, winner of the 2020 Whiting Award for nonfiction, tells of growing up in a troubled family in Puerto Rico. “Diaz is meticulous in her craft, and on page after page her writing truly sings,” wrote a New York Times reviewer. “This brutally honest coming-of-age story is a painful yet illuminating memoir, a testament to resilience in the face of scarcity, a broken family, substance abuse, sexual assault, mental illness, suicide and violence. It takes courage to write a book like ‘Ordinary Girls,’ and Diaz does not shy away from her deepest, most troubling truths.”

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Named one of the best books of 2019 by The New York Times, this sprawling debut novel is “an intimate, brainy, gleaming epic, set mostly in what is now Zambia, the landlocked country in southern Africa,” wrote an NYT reviewer; the book follows the fortunes of three families across four generations, from colonialism through the AIDS crisis. “The reader who picks up ‘The Old Drift’ is likely to be more than simply impressed,” the review continued. “This is a dazzling book, as ambitious as any first novel published this decade. It made the skin on the back of my neck prickle.”

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Jeong, a bestselling author of psychological thrillers in her native South Korea (including “The Good Son”), wrote this novel, translated by Chi-Young Kim, in 2011; it’s only just now being translated and published here. This book, about a young boy whose father is accused of a brutal crime, is “an admirable achievement,” wrote a Los Angeles Times reviewer, “bolstering the case for Jeong as one among the best at writing psychological suspense.”

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Perfect for YA readers: High school, how bad can it get? Well, blackmail, cheating, gossip, manipulation, lying, police brutality, racism and murder. The novels of Thomas, McManus and Urban take us back to those gruesome-as-only-high-school-can-be days where everything seems to be high-stakes and intensely important, but sometimes, more than feelings get hurt. One reviewer described McManus’s “One of Us Is Lying” as “‘Pretty Little Liars’ meets ‘The Breakfast Club.’” (If I remember correctly, my high school was just like that.) And talk about game-playing: Urban’s Christie-esque “All Your Twisted Secrets” brings a group of students into a deadly real-life game of Clue. And in “The Hate U Give,” Thomas makes worlds collide in her timely and honest examination of how the pressure to balance your identity as a student at a fancy prep school, your racial identity and your identity at home can turn into an intense, life-changing drama.

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You just might need the warm, chatty delights of a Lipman novel. This one, her 11th, is about an old yearbook that goes astray, causing troubles for its owner’s grown daughter and the busybody documentary filmmaker who finds it. A New York Times reviewer described it as “a caper novel, light as a feather and effortlessly charming” and said it “inspires a very specific kind of modern joy.”

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From the Seattle-based author of “Alif the Unseen” comes this historical fantasy, set in the royal court of Granada during the Spanish Inquisition and featuring the friendship between a concubine and a palace mapmaker with an extraordinary gift. Seattle Times reviewer Wright called it “an enchanting historical fantasy adventure that combines an unconventional love story with a thoughtful exploration of faith and religious tolerance.”

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Fall is officially here, and that means your nights might feel a little chilly. Next time you’re sipping hot apple cider and watching your favorite Halloween movies, curl up with this cozy heated blanket for the perfect night in.

The Billings Gazette is committed to promoting volunteerism as a way to build a caring community for all citizens. This listing includes oppor…

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Critics and the public tend to see eye-to-eye when it comes to rating movies. Granted, film reviewers are famous for their sometimes uppity taste and penchant for the artsy rather than the generic. But when a movie soars, most everyone can see it — and when it stinks, most can smell it.

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