Chicago Noir 2: The 1970s

Michael Raleigh, author of the Paul Whelan mysteries, has written what will hopefully be the start of a new series set in 1970s Chicago. Peerless Detective follows Billy Fox, a vet from small-town Michigan, to Chicago in search of an old girlfriend. In a series of events, he ends up apprenticing in a detective firm, […]

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Darkness and Light: The Marriage of Opposites

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I always relish a new Alice Hoffman book, and I am not disappointed with The Marriage of Opposites; far from it. This is a story of people who defy convention to be their true selves. Rachel always wants her own way, and her father usually lets her have it, until he arranges for her to marry an older man to […]

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Classics of Mars

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With the film adaptation of The Martian (one of our picks for Best of the Best 2014) coming out October 1, here's a look at classic Red Planet reads. Novels about Mars have increased by orders of magnitude since the early 1950s when Ray Bradbury published The Martian Chronicles. In Bradbury's seminal work, Man immigrates to Mars after thoroughly […]

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The Matter of Kansas

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Most people regard Kansas as a place to get through on the way to somewhere else, or as a bastion of conservatism. This mentality has led to books like What's the Matter With Kansas? that ask how the birthplace of the People's Party could come up with Republican stalwarts like Senator Pat Roberts. There are fascinating […]

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Many Nights in Bangkok

The latest book in the Sonchai Jitpleecheep series, The Bangkok Asset, is one to remember. John Burdett writes the series about a Thai policeman who is also a good Buddhist. Sonchai worries about his karma a great deal, but still manages to do his job for his corrupt superiors. While the mysteries in this series often skew toward the […]

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Parents and Children: The Immigrant Experience

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Nadia Hashimi, author of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, has a new novel set in Afghanistan: When the Moon Is Low. Fereiba endures an unhappy childhood to be wedded to Mahmood, an engineer. The happy pair have two children and another on the way when the Taliban comes to power and disappear Mahmood. Realizing her untenable […]

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Holy Women, Batman! Women Religious in Historical Fiction

Nuns At The Beach

Robyn Cadwallader is a new novelist, and The Anchoress is a delight. Sarah, a cloth merchant's daughter in 1255, is looking to escape the anguish of her sister's death and the predations of the local lord's son. This leads her to vows as anchoress, a holy woman contained in a nine-paces-by-five-paces cell, never to emerge. As […]

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Travel to Novel Places: Colonial Kenya

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Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife, has a new novel: Circling the Sun.  It focuses on the early life of Beryl Markham, a horse trainer and one of the first female commercial pilots. Coming to what would become Kenya at a young age and abandoned by her mother, Beryl grows up wild on her father's […]

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DIY: Etsy!

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For those of you who don't know, Etsy is an online community and shopping site. It's a great way to sell hand made and vintage items. Also, it can be a good way to start a small business with relatively few investment costs and overhead.  As an aspiring Etsy entrepreneur myself, I did the sensible thing and […]

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Civility Will Prevail: Matthew Quick’s Novels for Adults

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Matthew Quick is best known for The Silver Linings Playbook, his first novel and one that has been turned into a movie, Silver Linings Playbook.  In these works, Pat Peoples is recently released from a mental institution where he was committed after an explosive argument with his estranged wife. He still loves her, she's moved on.  Peoples starts compulsively working out and […]

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