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 […]

Nonfiction Previews, Oct. 2013, Pt. 4: English History, World War I, World War II, and a Thatcher Biography

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Ackroyd, Peter. Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I. Thomas Dunne Bks: St. Martin’s. Oct. 2013. 512p. ISBN 9781250003621. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781250037596. HISTORY Ackroyd, who is responsible for books like London: The Biography, offers the second in his “History of England” series. His skills as a novelist will doubtless come […]

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 […]

Fiction Previews, Oct. 2013, Pt. 2: Top Commercial Fiction, Including Christmas Stories from Andrews, Macomber, & Thayer

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Andrews, Mary Kay. Christmas Bliss. St. Martin’s. Oct. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9781250019721. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250019738. CD: Macmillan Audio. CHRISTMAS FICTION New York Times best-selling author Andrews draws characters from her three popular Savannah novels—Savannah Blues, Savannah Breeze, and Blue Christmas—to craft a blissful Christmas novella. As the holidays loom, so does antiques dealer Weezie […]

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, Sept. 2013, Pt. 3: Barnes, Carroll, Coetzee, Ford, George, Harding, Hastings, Kennedy, Lahiri

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Barnes, Julian. Levels of Life. Knopf. Sept. 2013. 144p. ISBN 9780385350778. $22.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385350785. MEMOIR Not a conventional memoir—did you really expect something so mundane from the multi-award-winning author of Flaubert’s Parrot and The Sense of an Ending?—this book aims to “put together two things that have not been put together before, and the […]

Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2013, Pt. 2: Fiction from Kelley Armstrong to Paul Yoon

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Armstrong, Kelley. Omens: A Cainsville Novel. Dutton. Aug. 2013. 416p. ISBN 9780525953043. $26.95. FANTASY In this launch of a new series from the author of the hugely popular “Otherworld” books, wealthy, 24-year-old Ivy Leaguer Olivia Taylor Jones is happily engaged when she discovers that she is adopted—and that her biological parents are serial killers imprisoned […]

Barbara’s Picks, Aug. 2013, Pt. 1: Short Stories from Barrett, New Fiction from Danticat, the Muslim Response to Fundamentalism, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy

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Barrett, Andrea. Archangel. Norton. Aug. 2013. 224p. ISBN 9780393240009. $24.95. SHORT STORIES As Barrett demonstrated with books like Voyage of the Narwhal, she writes perceptively about science. And as she proved with her National Book Award winner, Ship Fever, she’s mastered the short form. With these short stories, focusing on science, she’s set to prove […]

Barbara’s Picks, Jul. 2013, Pt. 4: Bass, Bohjalian, Dunant, Housh, Mankell, Rakoff, Sapienza

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Bass, Rick. All the Land to Hold Us. Houghton Harcourt. Jul. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9780547687124. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780547687438. LITERARY FICTION It’s not surprising that exemplary nature writer Bass’s fourth novel, set in Texas, features salt miners and oil and gas wildcatters. But you’ll also meet Baptists, high school football players, a local beauty, a […]

Fiction Previews, Jul. 2013, Pt. 4: Susan Choi, Matt Haig, Karin Slaughter, & More

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Adler, Elizabeth. Please Don’t Tell. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Jul. 2013. 384p. ISBN 9781250019899. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250019905. WOMEN’S FICTION One stormy night on the California coast, elegant 58-year-old Fenny Dexter opens her door to a blood-soaked man claiming to have been in an accident. He departs after a cozy night (they feel a spark), and […]

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