Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Jan. 2014, Pt. 5: Chiavareni, Cornwell, Johnson, Jungersen, & Sansom, plus Poetry of Witness

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Chiaverini, Jennifer. Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival. Dutton. Jan. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780525954286. $26.95. HISTORICAL Having demonstrated her talent for revivifying real-life women from the Civil War era with Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker and The Spymistress, Chiaverini introduces us to Kate Chase Sprague, who helped her much-widowed father get established as secretary of the Treasury in Abraham Lincoln’s […]

Nonfiction Previews, Jan. 2014, Pt. 5: History from the Tudors to Ariel Sharon

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Chappell, David L. Waking from the Dream: The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr. Random. Jan. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9781400065462. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780812994667. SOCIAL SCIENCE/AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, this revisionist work has […]

Fiction Previews, December 2013, Pt. 1: Big Commercial Fiction from Connelly to Weldon

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Connelly, Michael. The Gods of Guilt. Little, Brown. Dec. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780316069519. $28. CD: Hachette Audio. THRILLER Defense attorney Mickey Haller is back with a new case—the murder of a prostitute whom he thought he had saved from a life on the streets. Now he learns that he may have instead endangered her and […]

Barbara’s Picks, Nov. 2013, Pt. 3: Fiction from Albom, Baldacci, Banks, Child/Preston, Griffith, Hammett, Lynch, Miles, & Smith

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Albom, Mitch. The First Phone Call from Heaven. Harper: HarperCollins. Nov. 2013. 272p. ISBN 9780062294371. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062294395. lrg. prnt. CD: HarperAudio. POP FICTION Phones are ringing off the hook in little Coldwater, MI, but the callers are all deceased, stirring emotions from joyous relief to uncertain fear as they report being happy in […]

Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Nov. 2013, Pt. 2: Sebastian Faulks, Fannie Flagg, Richard Kadrey, Wally Lamb, Diane Setterfield, Anita Shreve, Robert Stone

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Faulks, Sebastian. Jeeves and the Wedding Bells. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781250047595. $24.99. POP FICTION What a combination! Faulks, author of absorbingly well-rendered best sellers like Charlotte Gray, as well as the James Bond sequel Devil May Care, here takes on one of his favorite authors with the permission of the estate. Yes, […]

Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Nov. 2013, Pt. 2: Jung Chang, Nora Ephron, Wil S. Hylton, Richard Kurin, Ann Patchett, Claudia Roth Pierpont

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Chang, Jung. Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China. Knopf. Nov. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780307271600. $30. BIOGRAPHY First a Red Guard, then the recipient of a doctoral degree in linguistics from England’s Bristol University, then the hugely best-selling author of Wild Swans and Mao, Jung Chang has a remarkable life story. And the […]

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 […]

Barbara’s Picks, Oct. 2013, Pt. 2: Nonfiction from Robert Dallek, Richard Dawkins, Jonathan Franzen, Daniel Lieberman, & John W. Pilley

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Dallek, Robert. Camelot’s Court: Inside the Kennedy White House. Harper: HarperCollins. Oct. 2013. 576p. ISBN 9780062065841. $32.50. lrg. prnt. HISTORY Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy, and aides Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger: these were the courtiers of Camelot, the smart and […]

Barbara’s Picks, Sept. 2013, Pt. 4: Atwood, Berg, Brook, Gurganus, Lethem, Rush, Shacochis, Vann

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Atwood, Margaret. Maddaddam. Doubleday. Sept. 2013. 416. ISBN 9780385528788. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385537834. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. DYSTOPIAN FICTION In this wrap-up to the magisterial trilogy begun with Oryx & Crake and continued with The Year of the Flood, the waterless flood has indeed descended, wiping out most of humanity. Ren and Toby have rescued poor […]

Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2013, Pt. 3: Nonfiction from Christopher Andersen to Brenda Wineapple

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Andersen, Christopher. These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack and Jackie. Gallery: S. & S. Aug. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781476732329. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781476732343. BIOGRAPHY Once senior editor of People magazine, Andersen has a real track record when it comes to celebrity bios; he’s written 15 New York Times best sellers, with subjects […]

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