Cornwell, Greenberg, Harrison, Leovy, Simsion | Barbara’s Picks, Jan. 2015, Pt. 4

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Cornwell, Bernard. The Empty Throne. Harper. Jan. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9780062250711. $27.99. HISTORICAL FICTION It’s hard going for Uhtred in this eighth entry in the popular “Saxon Tales” series by New York Times best-selling author Cornwell. First, to heal from wounds he has received in battle, he must find the sword that did the damage. […]

Literary Gems (e.g., Nancy Huston, Brian Morton) and Some Major Debuts | Fiction Previews, Sept. 2014, Pt. 5

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Adcock, Siobhan. The Barter. Dutton. Sept. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9780525954224. $26.95. LITERARY In present-day Texas, Bridget feels a certain emptiness after giving up her career as an attorney to raise her daughter—and a certain anxiousness because she alone senses that an alien presence has entered the house. A century before, a bride from the city […]

Best-Selling Commercial Fiction from Ken Follett to Sherrilyn Kenyon to James Patterson | Fiction Previews, Sept. 2014, Pt. 4

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Adler-Olsen, Jussi. The Marco Effect. Dutton. Sept. 2014. 480p. ISBN 9780525954026. $27.95. THRILLER In the next Department Q story from Denmark’s top crime writer, also a New York Times best-selling author, Det. Carl Mørck and his colleagues get caught up in a missing-persons case that touches on 15-year-old Marco Jameson, in rebellion against his Gypsy […]

Richard Bausch, Malcolm Brooks, Jules Feiffer, Richard Flanagan, Elizabeth Green, Daniel J. Levitin| Barbara’s Picks, Aug. 2014, Pt. 1

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Bausch, Richard. Before, During, After. Knopf. Aug. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780307266262. $26.95. LITERARY FICTION Winner of everything from a PEN/Malamud Award to the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Bausch offers a 20th work of fiction that blends private and public trauma to devastating effect. Disaffected Congressional aide Natasha and faith-challenged […]

From Samuel Beckett to James Carroll to Jacqueline Winspear in Historical Fiction Mode | Barbara’s Picks, Jul. 2014, Pt. 2

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Beckett, Samuel. Echo’s Bones. Grove. Jul. 2014. 128p. ISBN 9780802120458. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780802194077. LITERARY FICTION In 1933, Chatto & Windus agreed to issue Beckett’s first published work of fiction, a collection of ten linked stories called More Pricks Than Kicks. The editor asked Beckett to write a final piece, which was then rejected as […]

Fiction Previews, Jul. 2014, Pt. 1: Upcoming Authors from Robin Black to Tiphanie Yanique

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Black, Robin. Life Drawing. Random. Jul. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9781400068562. $25. LITERARY/PSYCHOLOGICAL Having grabbed out attention with the story collection If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This, Black returns with a debut novel about a couple living the good, creative life in the country—she’s a painter, he’s a writer—when an alluring British woman […]

Big Science Titles from Tim Flannery, Michio Kaku, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2014, Pt. 4

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Ferreira, Pedro G. The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle Over General Relativity. Houghton Harcourt. Feb. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780547554891. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780547554907. SCIENCE Oxford astrophysicist Ferreira writes for trade as well as academic publications and frequently appears on the BBC, so we can trust him to write limpidly about a […]

Barbara’s Picks, Dec. 2013, Pt. 2: Data Mining, Gold, Suspense, Fiction in Translation, & a Big Debut Novel

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Aiden, Erez & Jean-Baptiste Michel. Uncharted: Big Data and an Emerging Science of Human History. Riverhead: Penguin Group (USA). Dec. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9781594487453. $27.95. SCIENCE/HISTORY Harvard Society Fellow Aiden and Harvard University scientist Michel, a 2012 TED Fellow recently named one of Forbes’s “30 under 30,” here address a hot (indeed, controversial) topic: mining […]

Barbara’s Picks, Nov. 2013, Pt. 3: Nonfiction from Auster, Bloom, Brotton, Gardiner, Halperin/Heilemann, Klima, & Robb

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Auster, Paul. Report from the Interior. Holt. Nov. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780805098570. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780805098594. CD: Macmillan Audio. MEMOIR At 63, celebrated novelist Auster wrote an account of his body and of physical sensation generally that was published last year as Winter Journal. In this work he charts the life of the mind, particularly […]

Barbara’s Picks, Oct. 2013, Pt. 3: Basbanes, Boyle, Cahill, Drabble, Goleman, Holmes, Lepore, MacGregor, Venter, & Winterson

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Basbanes, Nicholas A. On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History. Knopf. Oct. 2013. 448p. ISBN 9780307266422. $35. HISTORY Having given us a much-loved trilogy of books about books—A Gentle Madness, Patience and Fortitude, and A Splendor of Letters—Basbanes has written a thoroughgoing chronicle about the stuff books are traditionally made of: paper. He starts […]

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