Coming of Age in Recent Fiction

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Danny Kelly has one dream: to win Olympic gold in swimming. Everything he and his family do is towards that goal. He endures the taunts of his teammates at his snobby prep school where he is a scholarship student because he knows he is the strongest, the fastest, the best. However, when Danny's dream is taken from […]

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The Good Thief’s Guide to Mysteries

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Chris Ewan is the author of a series of witty, deftly plotted mysteries all set in different cities, mostly in Europe. The reason his protagonist, the charming Brit Charlie Howard, keeps on the move is because in addition to being a minor novelist, he is primarily a cat burglar and knows better than to stay too […]

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“It’s About This Nurse…” Favorite Stories Retold

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It sometimes happens when I go to the theater, or the movies, or read a book, that I find the minor characters more interesting than the people the story is supposed to be about. This often means that I am paying more attention to the servants or the villain than the young lovers or other main characters, […]

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Poets Forche and May at CPL for Poetry Day

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Poets Carolyn Forché and Jamaal May will be at Harold Washington Library Center for Poetry Day on Thursday, October 16. Given their contrasting styles, it should make for a stimulating, even revelatory evening. Both poets were both born in Michigan, with May staying in the Detroit area and Forché trotting the globe before settling near Washington, D.C.  While Forché […]

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An Irish Complaint

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Some consider the fight for Irish independence one of the more romantic episodes of the 20th century, and many filmmakers have thought it has cinematic potential. No less a giant than David Lean used it as a backdrop for his romance, Ryan's Daughter. Innocent Rosy Ryan marries a middle-aged schoolteacher, but falls madly in love with a […]

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Tough Broads

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It is with great pleasure that I welcome a new author to the mystery genre: Minerva Koenig. In Nine Days, she creates truly memorable characters and a quick-turn-that-page story. Julia Kalas is staring down forty and is not a completely socially acceptable dress size. An expert house renovator and remodeler, she is now in the federal witness protection […]

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Simon Brett Mysteries

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Charles Paris is painfully aware he's not a successful actor. Or husband. Or much of anything else, except sleuth. In his latest novel in this long-running series, Simon Brett puts Charles through his paces with a collection of murders during the Christmas pantomime season in The Cinderella Killer. Kenny Polizzi is a big-name actor from the […]

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Comic Book Literature

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If you liked The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, especially how it reads like a comic book in the form of a literary novel and how it deals with big questions, I have two other books that may appeal. In Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman, Doctor Impossible has gotten bored of imprisonment […]

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Building a Mystery, Part II: Reza Aslan

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The question that concerns many of the faithful and skeptics alike is, who was Jesus, really? Reza Aslan attempts to answer that question in Zealot. Tellingly, the subtitle is "The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." This is because we have so little outside of the gospels to go on for Jesus' life. Part of […]

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Ladies of Dagenham, Unite!

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Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins) is nothing out of the ordinary, working at the Ford factory and raising her children with her husband in their blue-collar suburb of London in 1968.  O'Grady works in the all-female section of the plant sewing seat covers, along with 146 other women. What starts out as a dispute over job designation grows into […]

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