Desperate Times | African American Fiction (and More)

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The phrase “desperate times call for desperate measures” is especially true for December’s selections. Whether plunging into a gang war or jockeying to be plucked as a millionaire’s wife, the characters in these novels find themselves caught up in desperate situations. Some will turn to God and others will rely on superior firepower.

Damien Echols, Stephen King, Larry McMurtry, Lisa See, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Jun. 2014, Pt. 1

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Allen, Danielle. Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality. Liveright: Norton. Jun. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780871406903. $27.95. HISTORY A political philosopher who looms large in the scholarly community (she is a professor of social science at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Princeton and on the board of the […]

Kai Bird, Courtney Collins, Stacey D’Erasmo, Timothy Geithner, Ruth Reichl | Barbara’s Picks, May 2014, Pt. 4

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Bird, Kai. The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames. Crown. May 2014. 432p. ISBN 9780307889751. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780307889775. CD: Random Penguin Audio. BIOGRAPHY Given continuing tensions in the Middle East—and how much they have escalated in the last decades—we should pay attention to Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer Bird’s account of CIA agent […]

Debuts with Buzz, from British Playwright Paull, 5 Under 35 Honoree Johnston, & More | Fiction Previews, May 2014, Pt. 4

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Gay, Roxane. An Untamed State. Black Cat: Grove Atlantic. May 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780802122513. pap. $16. LITERARY A multiple Pushcart nominee with work in Best American Short Stories 2012, Gay has a built-in readership anticipating this work. Mireille Duval Johnson, youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest men, lives contentedly with her husband and son […]

Cunningham, Doerr, Hemmings, Kendal, Levitt/Dubner, McCullough Jr. | Barbara’s Picks, May 2014, Pt. 2

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Cunningham, Michael. The Snow Queen. Farrar. May 2014. 272p. ISBN 9780374266325. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780374710347. CD: Macmillan Audio. LITERARY FICTION Lovelorn yet again, Barrett Meeks looks to the sky as he wanders through New York’s Central Park and is transfixed by a luminous white light that beams down on him angelically, inducing a religious conversion […]

Leon & Shipstead in Fiction, Caldwell & Ehrenreich in Nonfiction | Barbara’s Picks, Apr. 2014, Pt. 4

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Caldwell, Gail. New Life, No Instructions: A Memoir. Random. Apr. 2014. 176p. ISBN 9781400069545. $22; ebk. ISBN 9780679604426. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. MEMOIR Highly regarded when she served as chief book critic for the Boston Globe—she won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism—Caldwell has since made her mark with the thoughtful and beautifully wrought memoirs Let’s Take […]

Mystery from Crombie, History from Dunmore, & a Steinbeck Anniversary Edition | Fiction Previews, Apr. 2014, Pt. 4

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Crombie, Deborah. To Dwell in Darkness. Morrow. Apr. 2014. 384p. ISBN 9780062271600. $25.99. lrg. prnt. MYSTERY In the latest Duncan Kincaid–Gemma James outing, Duncan is investigating a lethal bombing in famed St. Pancras Station after having just been transferred to the London borough of Camden from Scotland Yard headquarters. Gemma’s assistant saw it all, but […]

Maeve Binchy, Lydia Davis, Julia Glass, Mo Hayder, Laura Kasischke | Barbara’s Fiction Picks, Apr. 2014, Pt. 3

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Binchy, Maeve. Chestnut Street. Knopf. Apr. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780385351850. $26.95. CD/downloadable: Random Audio. POP FICTION Following Binchy’s untimely death in July 2012, this set of previously unpublished linked short stories will warm the hearts of fans everywhere. Binchy wrote these pieces intermittently while producing her big novels and Irish Times columns, hoping someday to […]

Seven Best-Selling Commercial Authors from Bradford to ebook Wonder Van Dyken | Fiction Previews, Apr. 2014, Pt. 2

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Bradford, Barbara Taylor. Cavendon Hall. St. Martin’s. Apr. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9781250032355. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250032331. CD: Macmillan Audio. POP FICTION/HISTORICAL Perk up, Downton fans: the mega-best-selling Bradford, OBE, sets her next work in Edwardian England, at the home of the aristocratic Inghams. The family of Charles Ingham, the sixth Earl of Mowbray, includes two […]

Chris Pavone, Helen Oyeyemi, & NYU Professor Conley’s Take on Parenting | Barbara’s Picks, Mar. 2014, Pt. 4

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Conley, Dalton. Parentology: Everything You Wanted To Know About the Science of Raising Children but Were Too Exhausted To Ask. S. & S. Mar. 2014. 320p. ISBN 9781476712659. $25. PARENTING Conley stars in two disciplines, sociology and biology, and has three appointments at NYU: in the sociology department and at the School of Medicine and […]

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