Bacigalupi, Crais, Kenyon, Sandford, & More Chiller Authors | Fiction Previews, May 2015, Pt. 4


Atkins, Ace. Robert B. Parker’s Kickback. Putnam. May 2015. 304p. ISBN 9780399170843. $26.95. THRILLER When 17-year-old Dillon Yates is sentenced to a lockdown juvenile facility for a minor prank, his mother asks Spenser to investigate why so many youngsters from their town have received similar sentencing from the local get-tough judge. The ugly answer has […]

Four Books by Patrick Modiano | LJ Reviews


Modiano, Patrick. The Occupation Trilogy: La Place de L’Étoile; The Night Watch; Ring Roads. Bloomsbury USA. Sept. 2015. 208p. tr. from French by Caroline Hillier & others. ISBN 9781632863720. pap. $18. F Until he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2014, Modiano was not widely known here, but American readers can now start […]

Notes on the Assemblage by Juan Felipe Herrera | LJ Review


Herrera, Juan Felipe. Notes on the Assemblage. City Lights. Sept. 2015. 168p.  ISBN 9780872866973. pap. $16.95. POETRY As he assumes his post as the 21st U.S. Poet Laureate—the first to be Latino—Herrera is releasing a visually acute, punch-in-the-gut collection that shows off both his craft and his heart. Wound even more tightly than his previous […]

Early Warning by Jane Smiley | LJ Review

early warning_jane smiley_resized

Smiley, Jane. Early Warning. (Last Hundred Years Trilogy, Bk. 2). 15 CDs. 18:12 hrs. Books on Tape. Knopf. 2015. ISBN 9781101889077. $50. digital download. F Convening in 1953 for father and grandfather Walter’s funeral, the Iowa Langdon family notes another recent passing—Joseph Stalin. The Cold War escalates; weapons and the fortunes of Walter’s descendants (mostly) […]

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson | LJ Review

a god in ruins_kate atkinson_resized

Atkinson, Kate. A God in Ruins. 14 CDs. 16:30 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2015. ISBN 9781478932635. $35. Playaway digital, digital download. F The best novels reward readers at every level of engagement, from the casual listener seeking an engrossing audiobook with great characters to others in pursuit of a more intellectual study of structure and craft. […]

Lawrence Hill, Arnaldur Indridason, Darryl Pinckney, & More | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Feb. 2016, Pt. 1


Goldberg, Paul. The Yid. Picador. Feb. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9781250079039. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250079046. LITERARY Moscow-born Goldberg, a reporter and nonfiction author who immigrated to the United States in 1973, offers an imaginative and blackly funny debut novel about the Soviet Union in early 1953, around the time of the anti-Semitic Doctors’ Plot. Here, Stalin […]

From Politics (Dionne, Dyson, & Frank) to the Israeli-Palestinian Life (Kashua) to Raising a Transgender Child | Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Feb. 2016, Pt. 1


Dionne, E.J. Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism—From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond. S. & S. Feb. 2016. 560p. ISBN 9780062250568. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781476763811. POLITICAL SCIENCE A syndicated columnist who appears twice weekly in the Washington Post and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner for Why Americans Hate Politics, also a […]

Ginsberg, Macdonald, Seidel, Young | Barbara’s Poetry Picks, Feb. 2016, Pt. 1


Ginsberg, Allen. Wait Till I’m Dead: Uncollected Poems. Grove. Feb. 2016. 464p. ed. by Bill Morgan. ISBN 9780802124531. $22. POETRY “Rainy night on Union Square, full moon. Want more poems? Wait till I’m dead.” So proclaimed Allen Ginsberg at 3:30 in the morning on August 8, 1990. And now, nearly 20 years after his death, in […]

Six Award-Winning Novelists, from Peter Behrens to John Wray| Fiction Previews, Feb. 2016, Pt. 1


Behrens, Peter. Carry Me. Pantheon. Feb. 2016. 464p. ISBN 9781101870495. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101870518. LITERARY/HISTORICAL The author of The Law of Dreams, which received Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction in 2006, and 2012’s The O’Briens, ravishingly reviewed here, returns with another significant historical saga. Set in Europe between the world wars, it is […]

The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt | Games, Gamers, & Gaming, August 2015


The Wild Hunt is one of the richest narrative experiences gamers will ever experience, capped off with challenging, rewarding combat and nearly endless game-play freedom.

Thrillerfest X: What’s Trending in 2015


Held July 7–11 in New York City and sponsored by International Thriller Writers (ITW), this year’s Thrillerfest—the tenth annual event—really was somewhat more international in flavor than previous years. Authors present included Sara Blaedel, creator of the internationally best-selling series starring Det. Louise Rick and in 2014 voted Denmark’s most popular novelist for the fourth […]

Copper Canyon Announces a New Volume of Pablo Neruda Poems for April 2016


In June 2014, researchers at the Pablo Neruda Foundation in Santiago, Chile, discovered 20 previously unknown poems by the widely admired poet-diplomat. Poetry lovers here have been waiting impatiently, but finally we have word that Washington State–based Copper Canyon Press has acquired the U.S. rights to the manuscript. We still have to wait some–the book […]

Prize-Worthy Aboulela, Screen-Worthy Cornwell & Endo, Thatcher’s Continuing Biography, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Jan. 2015, Pt. 4


Aboulela, Leila. The Kindness of Enemies. Grove. Jan. 2016. 320p. ISBN 9780802124487. $26. LITERARY FICTION Sudanese-born, Scotland-based, and relentlessly prize-worthy, Aboulela grabbed the Caine Prize for African Writing with a story from the collection Coloured Lights and the Scottish Book Award for her most recent novel, Lyrics Alley; that novel and her two others, The […]

McLain’s Circling the Sun Soars | RA Crossroads


Welcome to RA Crossroads, where books, movies, music, and other media converge, and whole-collection readers’ advisory (RA) service goes where it may. In this column, Beryl Markham leads me down a winding path.

A Cain Kickback, Patterson in Paris, & the Art of the Thriller | Fiction Previews, Jan. 2016, Pt. 4


Abbott, Jeff. The First Order. Grand Central. Jan. 2016. 480p. ISBN 9780316268424. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781455558407. lib. ebk. ISBN 9781455591855. Downloadable: Hachette Audio. THRILLER Three-time Edgar Award nominee Abbott returns with the fifth in his high-octane, newly formatted Sam Capra series. No word on plot yet, but this book is being positioned as a breakout; […]

From Tama Janowitz to Amy Winehouse’s Mom | Memoir Previews, Jan. 2015, Pt. 4,


Hazzard, Kevin. A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back. Scribner. Jan. 2016. 288p. ISBN 9781501110832. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781501110870. MEMOIR Looking for a way to test himself, Hazzard became a paramedic in 2004 and held the job for nearly a decade, working in some of the toughest parts of Atlanta. […]

Two Across by Jeff Bartsch | LJ Reviews

Two Across

Bartsch, Jeff. Two Across. Grand Central. Aug. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9781455554621. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781455554607. F Bartsch’s first novel opens at a 1960 spelling bee at a Washington, DC hotel, where we meet Vera Baxter and Stanley Owens, brilliantly fierce competitors in the national championship. In a rare occurrence, they tie for the win, a […]

Benjamin Black, Mark Bowden, Janice Lee, & an Afghan Romeo and Juliet | Barbara’s Picks, Jan. 2016, Pt. 3


Black, Benjamin. Even the Dead: A Quirke Novel. Holt. Jan. 2016. 304p. ISBN 9781627790666. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781627790673. CD/downloadable: Macmillan Audio. MYSTERY In this seventh in a series from Black, the alter ego of Man Booker Prize winner John Banville, Dublin-based pathologist Quirke gets quite a workout. Even as he’s worried that the blackouts and […]

A Fantasy/Romance/Paranormal Romance Mix | Fiction Previews, Jan. 2016, Pt. 3


Armstrong, Kelley. Otherworld Secrets: An Anthology. Plume. Jan. 2016. 400p. ISBN 9780452298354. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9780698173521. FANTASY Last year, Armstrong published the first of three anthologies featuring the witches, werewolves, necromancers, vampires, and half-demons from her “Otherworld” series. Otherworld Nights featured only one original piece out of six short stories and two novellas, which […]

From the Armenian Genocide to the Holocaust to the Dadaab Refugee Camp | History Previews, Jan. 2016, Pt. 3


Loridan-Ivens, Marceline. But You Did Not Come Back. Atlantic Monthly. Jan. 2016. 112p. ISBN 978080212450. $22. HISTORY When she was only 15, Loridan-Ivens was sent by the Vichy militia to the Drancy transit camp with her father, who told her that he would not survive the ordeal they were about to face. In fact, he  […]