American Fun, SAT Prep, & the Financial Divide | Nonfiction Previews, Feb. 2014, Pt. 4

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Beckman, John. American Fun: Four Centuries of Joyous Revolt. Pantheon. Feb. 2014. 432p. ISBN 9780307908179. $28.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307908186. SOCIAL HISTORY Author of the debut novel The Winter Zoo, a New York Times Notable Book, Beckman challenges our understanding of American Puritanism by showing that we’ve been an essentially prankish, fun-loving nation. Colonists reveled wildly, […]

Lippman, McCall Smith, Minot, Teicholz, Werth | Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2014, Pt. 3

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Lippman, Laura. After I’m Gone. Morrow. Feb. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780062083395. $26.99. CD: HarperAudio. lrg. prnt. THRILLER Investigating cold cases for some extra cash, retired Baltimore detective Roberto “Sandy” Sanchez looks into the murder 26 years earlier of Julie, once mistress to rich but shady businessman Felix Brewer, who disappeared ten years before Julie’s death. […]

Barbara’s Nonfiction Picks, Jan. 2014, Pt. 5: Dow, Grandin, Moore, & More

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Brewster, Joe & Michèle Stephenson. American Promise: Raising Black Boys To Succeed in School and in Life. Spiegel & Grau. Jan. 2014. 400p. ISBN 9780812994483. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780812994490. EDUCATION The black male achievement gap is a real problem even for successful parents like Harvard-trained psychiatrist Brewster and Columbia Law School graduate Stephenson, who became […]

Fiction Previews, Jan. 2014, Pt. 5: Fantasy, Horror, & First Historicals

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Clines, Peter. Ex-Purgatory. Broadway Bks: Crown. Jan. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9780804136617. pap. $14. HORROR Clines collected a huge fan base with Ex-Heroes and Ex-Patriots, small-press publications that were subsequently reissued in a big way by Broadway. This original title features George Bailey, a handyman by day who has wild and mysterious dreams at night. Then […]

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 […]

Nonfiction, Nov. 2013, Pt. 3: A Dozen Arts Titles, from Mozart to Norman Rockwell to the Spider-man Musical

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Berger, Glen. The Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History. S. & S. Nov. 2013. NAp. ISBN 9781451684568. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781451684582. MUSICALS Chosen by Julie Taymor to collaborate on the book of the Spider-man musical, Emmy Award–winning television and theater writer Berger saw the entire musical unfold […]

Nonfiction Previews, Nov. 2013, Pt. 2: History & Biography, from Red Cloud to JFK to the Warsaw Uprising

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Davis, Wes. The Ariadne Objective: The Underground War To Rescue Crete from the Nazis. Crown. Nov. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780307460134. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780307460158. HISTORY History both crucial and swashbuckling: an odd bunch of British intelligence officers (involved because they made “the obsolete choice of Greek at school”) joined with Cretan resistance fighters and an […]

Fiction Previews, Oct. 2013, Pt. 5: Five Hot Debut Titles

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Bonert, Kenneth. The Lion Seeker. Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2013. 576p. ISBN 9780547898049. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780547898414. LITERARY The grandson of Lithuanian immigrants, South African Bonert was inspired to write this work by the photo of an uncle with Nadine Gordimer. This portrait of South Africa’s small Jewish community doubles as the portrait of a mother-son […]

Nonfiction Previews, Sept. 2013, Pt. 4: Capturing the Kommandant of Auschwitz and Playing Chopin During the Revolution

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Bacon, John U. Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football. S. & S. Sept. 2013. 336p. ISBN 9781476706436. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781476706443. SPORTS College football is currently beset with scandal and sanctions, so one can be forgiven for expecting this report from Bacon to be a downer. And, indeed, drawing on […]

Fiction Previews, Sept. 2013, Pt. 3: Four Hot Debut Authors; Bodden, Kent, Smith, & Zailckas

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Bodden, Marlen Suyapa. The Wedding Gift. St. Martin’s. Sept. 2013. 320p. ISBN 9781250026385. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250026125. CD: Macmillan Audio. LITERARY/HISTORICAL Not every debut author sells thousands of copies of her self-published novel online before it’s snapped up by a major publisher, and not every debut author gets blurbed by Tom Wolfe and Henry Louis […]

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