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The Last Pirate of New YorkA Ghost Ship, a Killer, and the Birth of a Gangster Nation by Rich Cohen

Spiegel & Grau, 2019, 234 pages

Ridgefield author Rich Cohen brings mid-1800s New York City to life in all its violent seafarin’, backstreet-brawlin’ glory. In the process, he introduces us to the real godfather of New York City crime: Albert Hicks. Cohen’s previous books include New York Times bestsellers Tough Jews and The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones, and he is the co-creator, along with Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese, of the HBO series Vinyl. He became interested in Hicks, a handsome, charismatic thief and killer, as part of his attempt to track down New York’s first true gangster, the real-life OG. Cohen recounts Hicks’ misdeeds with lyrical energy reminiscent of the films of Scorsese, his sometimes collaborator, skillfully weaving historic description, plot and philosophical musings throughout. Some moments in this book are gruesome — Hicks’ most famous misdeed involved three murders, one by decapitation — but Cohen is the perfect Virgil to guide us through the hell Hicks left in his wake. — Erik Ofgang

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The Night Is Yours by Abdul-Razak Zachariah; illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo

Dial Books for Young Readers, 2019, 32 pages

Bedtime stories come in many shapes, sizes and colors. This read-aloud, which follows a young black girl as she plays a nighttime game of hide-and-seek at her apartment complex, is no exception. The product of Zachariah’s senior project while studying at Yale, the book is lovingly narrated by the girl’s father, who speaks directly to his daughter as she finds her culturally diverse friends. The story was born of Zachariah’s own experiences growing up in a West Haven apartment complex, and the girl’s character is based on his younger sister. Defying stereotypes of low-income housing and the people who live within them, Zachariah’s simple tale offers young readers and listeners a positive representation of a caring community. Aimed at children ages 3-7, the book’s illustrations, by the New York Times bestselling illustrator of I Am Enough, drive home the empowering message of diversity and finding confidence in one’s abilities. Not a bad message for any child before they drift off to sleep. — Albie Yuravich

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How to Survive a Brazilian Betrayal by Velya Jancz-Urban and Ehris Urban

Green Writers Press, 2019, 342 pages

“Co-authors” is just one of many ways to describe Velya and Ehris. They joined forces to pen this mother/daughter memoir, but as a duo they’re already known as Grounded Goodwife. Hands-on holistic workshops and what they call “gal power” presentations are offered at their 1770 farmhouse. Ehris, the daughter, is an herbalist and nutritionist. Velya is a teacher and historian. Throughout the book they pass the keyboard back and forth and narrate in distinct, separate voices. They were swindled and betrayed during dealings to move from Bridgewater, Connecticut, to Brazil to buy a rural dairy farm, and even found out their lives could be in danger. After escaping Brazil they returned to Connecticut and found a foreclosed farmhouse in Woodbury. “When the first thing off the moving truck were saddles, bridles, reins, and a huge box labeled cow medicine and calf nipples, I realized I’d forgotten about at least half of our possessions.” — Mike Wollschlager

This article appeared in the August 2019 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get the latest and greatest content from Connecticut Magazine delivered right to your inbox. Got a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com, or contact us on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag.

The senior writer at Connecticut Magazine, Erik is the co-author of Penguin Random House’s “The Good Vices” and author of “Buzzed” and “Gillette Castle.” He is also an adjunct professor at WCSU’s MFA Program and Quinnipiac University

Mike Wollschlager, editor and writer for Connecticut Magazine, was born and raised in Bristol and has lived in Farmington, Milford, Shelton and Wallingford. He was previously an assistant sports editor at the New Haven Register.

Albie Yuravich is the editor in chief of Connecticut Magazine. A product of the Naugatuck River Valley, he's also been a newspaper editor and writer at the New Haven Register, Greenwich Time, The Register Citizen and the Republican-American.