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Mixed Media Roundup: July/August 2023

Mixed Media

The All-American

By Susie Finkbeiner
Reviewed by Ann Byle

It is 1952 in the Detroit suburb of Bonaventure Park, an era of baseball, apple pie, and the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings. Bertha and Florence Harding, sisters as different as night and day, must face the unimaginable when their novelist father is accused of being a communist. Their worlds fall apart as friends flee, their father stops writing, and the family must move north to escape harassment. 

Bertha turns to baseball, her one true love, and eventually makes the All-American Girls Baseball League’s Sweet Peas team. Florence, the younger sister, escapes into the books she loves so much. The All-American is a great summer read as delicious as apple pie and as enjoyable as an afternoon at the ballpark. (Revell)


Reviewed by Sam Gutierrez

Henk Rogers is the owner of a small game technology company who bets everything on a rare opportunity to secure exclusive rights to the game Tetris for handheld devices. Unfortunately, a powerful and wealthy company is also vying for the rights. To beat them to the punch, Rogers decides to fly to Russia to negotiate face to face. What unfolds becomes a high-risk game of its own.  

Tetris is a simple game. Players flip falling blocks of different shapes left and right, up and down to fit them together in larger blocks without any gaps. It’s fun and addicting. Though it's nowhere near as addictive or fast-paced as the game, Tetris offers a fun account of the story behind it. (Apple TV+)

The Christie Affair

By Nina de Gramont
Reviewed by Lorilee Craker

Based on Agatha Christie’s real-life 11-day disappearance in 1926, this novel creates elaborate and ingenious backstories for the novelist and the surprisingly sympathetic “other woman” who ultimately came between Christie and her first husband.

De Gramont weaves a murder mystery into the plot, an imagining of what really happened to cause Christie to drive her car away and vanish, kicking off a massive search. Though this is fascinating—to this day, no one knows why she disappeared—I was enthralled by a subplot involving an adoption from an Irish convent. This mainstream novel has some sensual content, but it’s not graphic. 

With stunning, elegant sentences and a cracking good twist near the end, The Christie Affair is not to be missed for fans of mystery, suspense, and historical fiction. (St. Martin’s)

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Reviewed by Sara Kyoungah White

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves is an affectionate nod to those who either grew up throwing dice in a friend’s basement or currently spend weekends battling bugbears. But it’s also a surprisingly good movie for anyone who loves fantasy adventures.

It follows most of the rules and tropes of the game, with enough insider cues to satisfy hardcore D&D players and enough context and emotional depth for even the uninitiated to follow along. In it, Edgin Darvis (Chris Pine) builds a small, ragtag team of misfits to save his daughter and the world from a former ally and his evil wizard partner.

All in all, it’s a satisfying reminder of the ultimate vanquishing of evil and the triumph of all that is good, true, and beautiful. (Warner Bros.)

The Lowdown

The Upper Peninsula’s Immigrants in Photos: In Pictured Life, by Anneke Crans, the lives of the Dutch, Finns, Norwegians, and Swedes—immigrants to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula—are revealed. This story takes the reader through family struggles and toils, shining a spotlight on the schools, barns, and homes of magnificent architecture in the U.P. (

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It: In Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his Impossible Mission Force embark on their most dangerous mission yet: to track down a terrifying new doomsday weapon before it falls into the wrong hands. (Paramount, in theaters July 12)

Season 3 Drops: In Sweet Magnolias, lifelong friends lift each other up as they juggle relationships, family, and careers in the small Southern town of Serenity. (Netflix, July 20)

Owner of a Lonely Heart: When author Beth Nguyen was 8 months old, she left Vietnam at the end of the war with her father, sister, grandmother, and uncles for a life in Grand Rapids, Mich. Her mother stayed behind (or was left behind), and Nguyen did not meet her again until Nguyen was an adult. This is a memoir about family, parenthood, and life as a refugee. (Scribner, July 4)

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