Reviews I-Q

I Remember You

by Harriet Evans

“…Tess Tennant’s fabulous life in swinging London has come crashing around her ears, so she packs up and heads back to her hometown, the charming English village of Langford, where time has not quite stood still but certainly moves at its own pace. She reconnects with old friends and can’t avoid her first love, even on a whirlwind side trip to Rome. The whole thing is sweet and romantic while still packing some emotional weight. Even if you never, ever, you’d-have-to-chloroform-me-and-throw-me-in-the-trunk-of-a-car, ever want to go back and live in your home town, this turns out to be a very pleasant trip….”

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Ice Land

by Betsy Tobin

“…Suddenly, Iceland is in the news thanks to Eyjafjallajokull (and if you think I copy and pasted that directly from the Icelandic Tourism Board website, you are absolutely correct) turning much of Northern Europe into a no-fly zone. This little country is a treasure trove of history and folklore, and Tobin mines it by heading back to another astonishing volcanic explosion which took place at the turn of the first millennium. This is a romantic, magical adventure which takes turns telling the story of a young farm girl and her unusual destiny, and the first person narrative of Freya, who, while she might be the Norse goddess of love, still has a thing or two to learn. The rumbling shadow of Hekla, one of the Angry Sisters volcanoes, is a constant reminder of the volatility of the land and the people who live there….”

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The Immaculate Complexion

by Edie Bloom

“…Marnie Mann is your basic Everywoman — she likes her desserts, her big sweaters, and even the occasional frown line doesn’t phase her. But when she takes a temp job at the biggest cosmetic firm in Manhattan, she finds herself hip deep in size zero princesses. Will she be able to resist the allure of Botox and free samples? (I know I couldn’t.)….”

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Immortal

by Traci L. Slatton

“…Confession time — I just got home from my honeymoon in Italy (the food, oh my God. I’ll never eat gnocchi again!) and we spent a few days in Florence, where this book takes place. I spent my time in the present day, while the narrator lives mainly in the 14th century, but when the whole city is a treasure house of lovingly preserved antiquity, I walked on the same streets, looked at the same art, and breathed the same flower-scented air. (Did I mention that I loved Italy?) he author describes this book as ‘rags to riches to burnt at the stake’ and that puts it in a nice nutshell. Luca is an orphan, his parents a mystery, his future decidedly uncertain. Luca has a big secret — he’s immortal, and that eventually comes to the attention of the Inquisition (no one expects — I’ll stop.). Even though this is clearly a fantasy (particularly the ending), Luca lives a real-feeling life, rubbing elbows with artists, Medicis, Jews (in the 14th century, we always got our own catagory!), evil priests, alchemists, even a bad tempered donkey. I can tell you for a fact that Florence is indeed, as a long-departed Pope called it, The Fifth Element of the Universe. The book and the city are both recommended….”

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In Case We’re Separated

by Alice Mattison

“…Compare and contrasts Alice Munro’s Runaway and Alice Mattison’s In Case We’re Separated, two short story collections. One deals with repressed families in the upper Midwest and Canada, the other with loud, demonstrative families in Manhattan. Guess who has the Seder?…”

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In Lucia’s Eyes

by Arthur Japin

“…File this one under ‘really depressing but in a good way’.   In Lucia’s Eyes by noted Dutch author Arthur Japin. 15-year old Lucia has it all — a beautiful estate in Italy, and a hot boyfriend (Casanova himself, beat that if you can.) It all goes wrong when she is disfigured by the pox and runs away from home. (You will be very grateful for modern medicine.) Her options at that point are limited to how skanky of a streetwalker she’ll become. Lucia is made of sterner stuff and rises above her unfortunate circumstance, and even gets a second chance at her old flame….”

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In the Company of the Courtesan

by Sarah Dunant

“…It’s hard out here for a pimp. No, seriously, it is. Espcially if you’re a dwarf in 16th century Venice, and people expect you to, like, juggle or something, when you only want to be respected as a businessman; plus you’re in love with your boss, the lovely Fiametta; plus you’re afraid of water and it’s Venice!….”

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Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey

by Alison Weir

“…Jane was a distant relation of Henry VIII and that made her ripe for the picking of every social climber and ambition hound at the Tudor court, up to and most definitely including her parents. Even though you really do feel sorry for this poorly treated young lady, turns out Jane was a bit of a pill and as stubborn and pouty as any teenager who ever lived. She did have a good nine day run as queen before she lost her head….”

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Interred with Their Bones

by Jennifer Lee Carrell

“…As if we don’t have enough to keep us up at night, apparently there is some question as to whether Shakespeare 1) actually wrote all those plays, and 2) even existed. Jennifer Lee Carrell has built a fine mystery featuring a young American theater director who’s plopped into a quest for missing plays (oh — I guess that would be number 3: missing plays) and a cast of characters all passionately convinced they know the Truth About Shakespeare. (My favorite theory is Written by Committee, since that’s how we do it here at Fiction Nation. What, you thought Kim Alexander was a real person?)…”

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Intoxicated

by John Barlow

“…We’re inventing things this week. Intoxicated by John Barlow is sort of about the invention of the world’s first soft drink (Rhubarbilla!) but it’s also about the rise of industrialism in England, fathers and sons,  the tension between the working and lesiure class, and dwarves. The author has been compared to Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and it does have that oddball feel to it….”

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It’s About Your Husband

by Lauren Lipton

“…the debut novel by Lauren Lipton. Iris is recently separated, recently transplanted from California to Manhattan, and very recently fired. Instead of cutting and running, she takes a job as a private eye, spying on the possibly cheating spouse of a wealthy socialite.  I am not kidding when I tell you this woman is the worst detective who ever lived. The fun of this book is following Iris’s adventures in New York, as she gets the right shoes and a decent haircut from her obligatory hairdresser/wacky neighbor (that was a stroke of luck! My wacky neighbor is…um, I guess I’m the wacky neighbor. Never mind.). The plot is a little contrived but it did keep me guessing. Recommended for plane rides and trips home….”

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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell

by Susanna Clarke

“…The rather prissy Mr Norell becomes an unlikely celebrity for bringing old-fashioned magic back to the fore. But his protégé and rival, Jonathan Strange, wants to open the gates of Fairy and bring back the mysterious Raven King.  We spend some time in Fairy, and it’s no Magic Kingdom. Imagine instead endlessly and joylessly dancing the night away with dead-eyed strangers in a series of crumbling ruins — I know! Just like college!…”

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Keeper of Light and Dust

by Natasha Mostert

“…Martial arts, tattoos, and mysticsm maybe not the most natural combination, but Mostert has written a tightly-wound mystery featuring a very 21st century vampire — he’s not after your blood, but your essential life force. Mia, our heroine, is a member of the ancient order of Keepers, a sort of guardian angel who look after some particularly spiritually advanced fighters. When the vampire comes after one of her boys, the fight between them is on, in and out of our world. This is an unusual book — one doesn’t read about sports in fantasy too often — but thoroughly researched and very nicely done….”

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Kiss Her Goodbye

by Robert Gregory Browne

“…Two genres in one this week — it’s a hard boiled crime drama as a bank heist goes terribly wrong, and FBI agent Jack Donovan has to track down the cult leader who has kidnapped his daughter. Along the way, the bad guy (who is really bad) takes Donovan on a trippy, scary visit to The Great Beyond. Half the battle is fought on solid ground, with the life of a young girl in the balance, and half is fought on the Other Side, where the rules are unwritten. With a background in screenwriting and a great ear for dialogue, it’s no surprise that Robert Gregory Browne’s debut is fast paced, twisty and cinematic….”

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The Knife of Never Letting Go

by Patrick Ness

“…Now pay attention, because you have the chance to jump on a huge book before the Harry Potter-sized storm hits. This book has won a couple of very prestigious Young Adult fiction awards in England and it’s easy to see why. This is one of the most deeply affecting, uniquely voiced books I’ve read in ages. Imagine Huck Finn growing up in the Territories of King and Straub. Imagine a world where no thought is hidden — not even those of animals. (Dogs mostly think about food and poo, of course.)  If you don’t sob like your heart is shattered halfway through (YOU’LL KNOW!) you have no soul. This is part one of a three-part series, and while I am grinding my teeth over the fate of the characters, I am overjoyed that I’ll get to see them again. Seriously, trust me on this one….”

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The Last Bridge

by Teri Coyne

“…Teri’s friends who knew her as a stand up comedian must have been slightly freaked when they got to read her first novel, the disturbing and intense story of an abused girl who grows up to be a drunken waste. Alexandra, known as Cat, is called home after ten years by her mother’s suicide note — He isn’t who you think he is. Who is ‘he’? And who, ultimately, is Cat? It’s a hard road with no easy answers. Deeply affecting — Teri’s book has stayed with me for a long time….”

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The Last of Her Kind

by Sigrid Nunez

“…You know the kind of friend you make when you go to college? You two are like sisters. (Guys, get your minds out of the gutter. Pervs.)  No matter how many years go by or where life takes you, you always have each other. This book is not about that kind of friend. Set in the middle of the counter-revolutionary 60’s, this novel is narrated by George, who grows up poor, and only wants a real family. Her college roommate Ann grows up despising her wealthy family, and devotes herself to bringing down The Man (they did that, I hear). Surprising, honest, and both intimate and grand in scope — a serious and excellent book….”

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The Last Will of Moira Leahy

by Therese Walsh

“…Therese Walsh became curious about twins, and about a Javanese weapon called a keris, and somehow managed to create a dreamlike novel that explores both. I found the tale of the two young girls and how they weren’t quite as bonded as they thought more engrossing than the story of the remaining sister’s quest to understand why this weapon means so much to her, but both halves do ultimately converge in a satisfying, twisty conclusion….”

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The Liar’s Diary

by Patry Francis

“…Ah, suburbia. You can count on those manicured lawns and lovely McMansions to hide all sorts of deviant behavior. Why would you live anywhere else? In this particular picture-perfect town, the arrival of the hot new music teacher is the catalyst for events including (but not limited to) adultery, voyeurism, abuse and murder. Our narrator, Jeanne, is a dowdy mouse with a lousy marriage and some pretty big secrets of her own. Who is the Liar of the title? That’s a tough call….”

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Lifelines

by CJ Lyons

“…The debut novel by doctor-turned-novelist Lyons races along breathlessly as we follow brand new chief attending doctor Lydia Fiore as she attempts to survive her first shift at Angels of Mercy hospital in Piitsburgh. This mix of medicine, action and (a little) romance will call to mind ER when it was good, but with more strong female characters, something I will always welcome. This is the first book in an intended series; each will put the focus on one of a team of four women who work together saving lives while trying to have lives outside of the hospital….”

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The Little Balloonist

by Linda Donn

“…The Little Balloonist by Linda Donn is the amazing and true story of a tiny little peasant girl (she totally would be played by an Olsen) who became the chief aeronaut to the court of Napoleon. Refreshingly, a woman of accomplishment and no one calls her a witch!…”

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Little Bee

by Chris Cleave

“…What is a stranger’s life worth to you? Would you give up a finger? That’s the bizzaro-world question put to a middle class London couple on a remote beach in Nigeria (worst vacation ever). The result is a fractured marriage (and a missing finger) and several years later, the life saved showing up on your doorstep. The young woman is Little Bee, who possesses one of the most original and witty voices I’ve encountered in ages, and this story of the First and Third world in collision is unforgettable….”

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The Little Book

by Selden Edwards

“…A deceptively sweet and light time trip to end-of-the-century Vienna with an aging rock star as our confused but well-intentioned tour guide. The big question — do you kill the child Hitler? — is one of those that only seems easy. The great minds of the day pass through this book along with reflections on love, music, therapy and baseball….”

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London is the Best City in America

by Laura Dave

“…So Emmy’s been living in a ratty seaside town in Rhode Island for three years to practice the art of documentary film making — running out on her fiancee exactly three years ago? Must be a bizarre coincidence. Now her brother is getting seriously cold feet two days before his wedding, and you know the caterer is not going to give the deposit back. No villians in this one, just a loving look at brothers and sisters, and finally making up your mind…”

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Lost Dog

by Bill Cameron and Bobbie Faye’s Very (very very very) Bad Day by Toni McGee Causey

“…have a few things in common…they’re both printed on paper in English. Oh, and they’re both mysteries released under the blog/banner of The Killer Year. It’s a group of established writers who mentor some up and comers. I’ll be talking to Bill, who sets his grim, violent thriller full of fascinatingly damaged people under the grey skies of Portland Oregon. I’ll also talk to his blog mate Toni, who has created a human stick of dynamite named Bobbie Faye and plunked her into the swamps of Lake Charles Louisiana during the Contraband Days Pirate Festival. We’ll talk about the mentoring process and about just what it takes to create a mystery….”

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Lost Girls

by George Shuman

“…Sherry Moore is a blind woman who can ‘see’ the last 18 seconds of a dead person’s life by touching their hand. When she touches a dead climber in a howling Arctic blizzard, the trail leads to Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, South America, and to hell. I learned more about human trafficking — the modern way of describing slavery — than I was expecting. This book can be taken as a rather brutal but quite well written mystery, I guess, but I just don’t see how a person can know what’s going on around them and not be moved to do something. What, I’m not sure. Start here….”

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Love Walked In

by Marisa de los Santos

“…For a serious wallow in chick-lit, Marisa de los Santos’ debut novel, Love Walked In with: references to classic films (check) gorgeously decorated yet affordable apartments (check) quirky yet loveable families (check) and of course True Love Against All Obstacles (double check). By the way, look for this movie starring Sarah Jessica Parker, probably this time next year. You heard it here first…”

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The Madonnas of Leningrad

by Debra Dean

“…Did you know that during the WWII German seige of Leningrad, thousands of people lived in the basement of the Hermitage museum? This is very serious book that shifts back and forth between that time and the mind of an elderly Russian woman who lived through it. Sad, but hopeful. Sapful?…”

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The Magicians

by Lev Grossman

“…The first section of this book takes place at the exclusive-to-the-point-of invisibility Brakebills University, where students sweat blood learning that magic is difficult, boring and possible. Quentin, our hero, is unusually gifted but a brooder of epic proportions. He’s obsessed with Fillory, the Narnia stand in of his youth. The second half of the book, where things pick up, takes us to Fillory, which is more difficult, complicated and dangerous than Quentin ever suspected….”

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Man Camp

by Adrienne Brodeur

“…Does your man spend more than you at Sephora? Can he tell voile from moiré? Maybe he could use a week at Man Camp. Two New York women, fed up with the dainty little hothouse flowers they’ve been dating, come up with a clever scheme to get their men back to the land. Whether a New Yorker really needs to know how to change a tire or milk a cow I guess is missing the point of this quick, funny novel…”

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Map of Ireland

by Stephanie Grant

“…What were you doing in 1974? Up in Boston, Ann Ahern was not going to her first week of junior high — it was the start of The Bussing, you remember. When Ann finally gets to class, there are ‘black girls’ on her basketball team and a new and beautiful French teacher, Senegalese Mme. Eugenie, who captured her imagination. Stephanie Grant set out to write a female version of Huck Finn, a coming of age story set not in the kitchen or bedroom (although Ann visits both) but against the backdrop of a pivotal time in history. Ann is changing, growing, painfully but inevitably — and so was the rest of the country….”

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Mark of the Lion

by Suzanne Arruda

“…Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Arruda, is the first in a mystery series featuring an Indiana Jones style adventuress named Jade Del Cameron.  It’s set in British Colonial East Africa in 1919, so there’s lots of big-game hunting, social climbing, tea drinking and general derring-do. Oh, and there are man-eating dreadlock-wearing hyenas!…”

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Mass Effect: Ascension

by Drew Karpyshyn

“…Did you know there are people who write video games? Me neither! Turns out they bring as much integrity, pride and passion to their work as any other medium. Drew Karpyshyn has a lot to be proud of. He’s a rock star in the world of gamers, and Ascension is the book that goes along with the video game, except the game isn’t out yet and all the characters are different and you can read the book without having played the game (I did). It was a sort of delightful dislocation and immersion into an already-established universe, and I had to struggle a bit to sort out who did what to whom. Glad I did, too….”

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Mating Rituals of the North American WASP

by Lauren Lipton

“…Well, who hasn’t had a day like this? You wake up in Vegas with a wicked hangover next to a stranger. It’s the romantic comedy equivalent of war with the French — it gets things started. Peggy, our heroine, must make the Yankee-WASP-preppy triad of the Right People of Litchfield Connecticut believe she was to the falling-down manor born. The reason? Everyone’s latest obsession: real estate. Would I pretend to be married to a hot but glacially repressed stranger if there was a restored Victorian with original hardwood floors at stake? You bet….”

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Matters of Faith

by Kristy Kiernan

“…Kristy Kiernan came strong out of the gate with her novel Catching Genius, and we had a great time talking about Florida (I know it well) and math prodigies (the opposite.) I knew her new book, Matters of Faith, would find her treating her characters with respect, even the blazing nutjobs — and we have several! The problems start for the Tobias family when college student and professional dabbler in religion Marshall brings home his new girlfriend. Ada is adorable! Too bad she’s a member of a fringe fundie cult who believes they can pray away illness. They decide a good place to set up prayer camp is on a boat in the middle of the bay, with Marshall’s hyper allergic sister Meghan as Exhibit A. The results are both predictable (a big trip to the hospital, the police get involved) and otherwise. Parents Chloe and Cal have to decide how and whether to forgive their son, and that’s made tougher by his flight with Ada into the Everglades. This is not a cheery book but it’s so thought provoking and Kiernan brings her considerable talent to making every characters viewpoint valid — even poor, deluded Ada (although she was still nuts.)…”

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The Memorist

by M.J. Rose

“…What if you could revisit your past life? Sounds like fun, except for the part where you got horribly murdered. If that was all you could see — and you just kept seeing it — would you tell everyone about your fabulous gift or would you spend your life seeking mental help and trying to make it go away? In The Memorist, Meer, the heroine is sort of stuck between two lives without really living either of them. The book was exciting and the characters were well drawn, but the sadness of Meer’s existence is what really stuck with me. Despite a slightly over-the-top finish, the author keeps a nice balance between science, pretend-science, and the humanity of her characters, to me the most interesting part….”

…”

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Midori by Moonlight

by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

“…Midori has it all — overbearing parents who keep asking why she isn’t married yet, and an American ex-fiancé who dumps her like day-old sushi the day after their engagement party. She’s also got no visa, little money, fewer contacts and even less English. Welcome to San Francisco! Midori may be sweet and delicate as the pastries she loves to bake, but girlfriend also has nerves of steel and will not be going back to Japan, thank you. It was great fun watching her figure out whether the country she’d dreamed of all her life was also actually meant to be her home….”

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Misrepresented

by Renée Morgan-Hampton

“…When Harianne DeCanter agrees to represent her old mortal arch enemy, lawyer Matthew Daytona, she may be in over her head — did he actually murder Harianne’s best friend? It’s all so dramatic. This is one for lovers of CSI, as the author has a great eye for procedurals, and she’s created a fine heroine in Harriane….”

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Mistress of Rome

by Kate Quinn

“…In her excellent first novel, Quinn heads to ancient Rome in a book packed with glistening gladiators, slutty bad girls, a totally psycho Emperor and scheming and revenge in every corner. At the center of the story is the melancholy Thea — you’d be sad too if you were the personal slave of the biggest bitch in the city, and in love with *gasp* a BARBARIAN! A great mix of history, romance and LOTS of blood….”

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Monkey Love

by Brenda Scott Royce

“… Who’s up for a  lighthearted romp through Manhattan? Monkey Love is by Brenda Scott Royce,  who went from zookeeper to author. It’s the fast and funny tale of how multi-tasker, multi-careerist Holly finds love and purpose with the help of a Regis Philbin-loving monkey named Talullah.  Be prepared for slapstick, celebrity cameos, and cravings for a big Italian dinner…”

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Monkey Star

by Brenda Scott Royce

“…It’s an anniversary of sorts as Fiction Nation welcomes back its very first author! Brenda is back with the sequel to Monkey Love. This time our gal Holly Heckerling (whose luck has not improved) packs her bags and heads for Hollywood. She attracts the attention of a charming and persistent actor and finds gainful employment (at last) as the animal wrangler on a movie set. The comedy is balanced a bit by some serious discussion of what happens to animal actors after they retire….”

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Murder at the Bad Girl’s Bar & Grill

by N.M. Kelby

“…I fell in love with Nicole’s writing a few years back when I got a copy of Whale Season, and she’s just gotten better. When you find out someone’s a South Florida mystery writer you come to a book with a certain set of expectations — you want your wacky tempered with pathos, you want heinous crime balanced against lovely supporting characters, and you’ve got to have the backdrop of sea and sky. In Murder at the Bad Girl’s Bar and Grill, as in so many books set down there in the swamps, the battle to protect a tiny bit of wildness against development is right there next to a (fairly convoluted) murder mystery. Every word matters and every character comes with a cockeyed dignity, right down to the vultures….”

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The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death

by Charlie Huston

“…Here’s a contender for a job you really don’t want: trauma cleaner. These are the guys who go in and get the blood out of the wallpaper and the brains off the ceiling when the cops are done at the murder scene. It’s dirty and grueling and the perfect gig for Web Goodhue, who has a certain need to clean things up in his own life. He gets sucked into a crime spiral most emphatically not populated by the intellectual cream of the underworld crop in this extremely funny, violent, and oddly moving book….”

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Names My Sisters Call Me

by Megan Crane

“…When youngest sister Courtney gets engaged, she thinks it’s the perfect time to re-connect with her wild-child troublemaking sister Raine, last seen ruining oldest sisters Nora’s wedding several years earlier. You’re right Cort, weddings aren’t stressful enough!…”

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Nature Girl

by Carl Hiaasen

“…Oh, those wacky South Florida mystery writers. If someone isn’t getting attacked by eagle poop, they’re being assaulted by the guitar of noted musician Mark Knopfler. Nature Girl doesn’t stray from Hiaasen’s proven formula, and in this case it’s just right. Honey Santana is just crazy enough to be an engaging heroine, and her son Fry is a good hearted and well written kid. The villains — well, no one has a weed whacker for a hand, but they’re pretty vile anyway….”

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Nefertiti

by Michelle Moran

“…Did you know that the kings and queens of ancient Egypt were exactly as spoiled and bad tempered as your average high school student? It’s true! The big difference is the pharaohs had nearly unlimited wealth and power and didn’t have to work at the Gap….”

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Nuclear Jellyfish

by Tim Dorsey

“…That voice raging in the scrubby, humid, snake infested wilderness? It’s Serge Storm, Dorsey’s most anti of anti-heroes (yet heroic in his own very specific way) back and ready to clean up Florida — this time it’s north Florida, the Jacksonville area (ugh)*, and he’s cleaning it up one skinhead, drug dealer, thug, polluter, and impolite bar patron at a time. The story involves roving bands of salesman wandering across the state, and those who try and pick them off (yes, kind of like antelopes and really ugly, warty hyenas) but it’s really a chance for Serge to get out there and deliver monologues on the place he loves best. (*Having grown up in South Florida, I tend to look down my nose at anything north of Lake Okeechobee. I apologize to those who call Jax home and remind them they are free to leave.)…”

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Off the Menu

by Christine Son

“…it’s a charming and funny look at three Asian-American best friends and superacheivers — a high-powered lawyer, a star chef, and a trust-fund baby with a brand new thesis — and each comes with demanding parents, demanding careers, and an inability to just go ahead and say what’s on her mind. (It’s just like All My Children!) Little do they each know that the lawyer wants to be a singer, the chef can’t talk to her thoroughly unassimilated father, and the terribly upper-class daughter wants to run off with her poor boyfriend. Secrets are revealed and relationships are ended and begun as the friends try to follow their dreams, please their parents, and stay fabulous….”

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Off the Page: Writers Talk About Beginnings, Endings, and Everything In Between

edited by Carole Burns

“…a book of quotes by writers about writing…about the business of fiction, how you know when you’re done writing, and where all those ideas come from in the first place. (Hint:  not The Idea Store, although man, wouldn’t that be more convenient?)…”

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On Agate Hill

by Lee Smith

“…Told entirely in diary and journal entries, the story of orphaned Molly Petree, brave and clever, who grows up just after the Civil War in the ruins of a grand North Carolina estate, was moving and beautifully written. Not a period of history I normally reach for, but this one put a very human and appealing face on what happens to people after the shooting stops. (Like Deadwood without the swearing! Like Ken Burns but I sat through the whole thing!)…”

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The Opposite of Me

by Sarah Pekkanen

“…If your sister is pretty, can you be pretty too? Can you both be the smart one? And why do we cling to our childhood roles when we should have left them far behind? Sisters Lindsey (smart) and Alex (pretty) spend their lives reacting to expectations, and to each other, until circumstances force them to reevaluate their lives and put on their grown-up shoes. Pekkanan not only raises some interesting questions about the inner geography of sisters, she also tells a story both funny and tragic by turns &#151 just like life!…”

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Oryx and Crake

by Margaret Atwood

“…Falling in love with a girl you see on the Web sounds great — what happens when she shows up on your doorstep? Crossing pigs and baboons is all in good fun, until they escape from the lab. You may have the world’s worst mother, but at least she’s not a terrorist — you hope. And you may be the smartest genetics engineer ever, but unleashing a world ending plague because your girlfriend cheats? Now, how smart is that? This is a love story between two uber-geeky young men…”

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The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square

by Rosina Lippi

“…Julia has the perfect life. A transplanted Chicago businesswoman with a Dark Secret, she now owns (and lives above) a shop specializing in antique bed linens. (Hence the pajamas of the title.) The small Southern town she’s hiding in — Ooops! Spoiler! — has gone beyond ’embrace’ to ‘enable’. Are you wondering what’s going on with Julia? So is the Handsome Stranger who comes to town and shakes things up. But John Dodge has a cartload of his own baggage to sort through. This is an elegantly written love story for grownups, in my opinion not helped by it’s somewhat cutesy title. Don’t let that stop you from picking it up….”

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People of the Book

by Geraldine Brooks

“…Pulitzer Prize-winner Geraldine Brooks takes the remarkable true story of the Sarajevo Haggadah, a priceless medieval Jewish manuscript, and follows it back and forth through the centuries — from 14th century Seville to the Inquisition’s Venice to contemporary Bosnia, where rare book expert Hanna Heath is charged with its restoration. Hanna gets more than she bargained for as the ancient pages start to reveal their secrets in wine stains, salt and a mysterious white hair. (Hanna also unearths some of her own family’s secrets.) The wandering timeline and Hanna’s clear and vibrant voice made for both a rousing adventure and an elegant meditation on art and survival….”

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The Pig Did It

by Joseph Caldwell

“…Unfolding like a story told by your favorite Irish uncle, The Pig Did It is a sort of a ghost story, a fairy tale, a murder mystery and a sharp comedy of manners set on Ireland’s wild western shore. Aaron has come from New York to his childhood home of County Kerry to brood on a love gone wrong, but his plans for dramatic solitude are run off the road (literally) by the pig of the title. Note — if you are adopted by a pig, make sure there is plenty of Tullamore Dew in the house….”

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A Poisoned Season

by Tasha Alexander

“…In which I peer through my lorgnette: “I say, my dears — hurry up and tighten your corsets! All this dallying and we shall miss the ball tonight — it’s said to be the very best of the London Season! Perhaps that scandalous Lady Emily Ashton will be there — if anyone can figure out who’s behind the theft of all those jewels, I wager she can. I wouldn’t mind having a peek at that pink diamond myself — it belonged to Marie Antoinette, you know…” Lady Emily Ashton, detective and gadfly is back! Diamonds, corsets, and parties — it’s all in good fun until characters start getting whacked. Tasha Alexander will be my guest this weekend to talk about how women in Victorian England managed to party all night and not go to rehab….”

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PopCo

by Scarlett Thomas

“…I grew up and entered the working world. At last, I could relax, and feel truly free to express myself… No more backstabbing, no more gossip or head games, and no more cliques of cool kids whispering behind their hands pointing and laughing. Come on, either you were a laugher or a laughee.  Yeah, imagine my surprise when I finally got a real job. Corporate culture…either you’re an insider, or you’re on the sidelines at the holiday party, watching your boss dance and rolling your eyes….”

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The Pre-Nup

by Beth Kendrick

“…What’s worse than a crumbling marriage? Finding out the pre-nup you signed so blithely in those carefree days doesn’t protect you and in fact stops just short of having you thrown into Gitmo. Three friends in a ritzy Scottsdale suburb find out pretty much all at once that a pre-nup not only doesn’t sound like a good idea at the time, but could lead to their losing everything. What have we learned? Never sign anything!…”

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance — Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!

by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

“…A world in which the uptight aristocracy is beset by the walking scourge? Darcy and Elizabeth fighting and flirting while dispatching the unmentionables? And people so bound by decorum that one doesn’t even use the word ‘zombie’? It’s more than a one-note joke, you can’t kill the already funny and scathing writing of Austen, and it’s got my favorite book cover of the year. Clever and actually thought-provoking once you turn yourself over to ultra violent zombie mayhem!…”

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Princess of Park Avenue

by Daniella Brodsky

“…Take the bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan and go way uptown with Princess of Park Avenue by Daniella Brodsky. (By the way, I did some research in the city during the holidays and Bergdorf Goodman has the best window displays. Also, I picked out a very nice diamond and emerald necklace at Cartier.  And yes, you now can buy a tiny bathrobe for your tiny dog.)…”

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Queen of the Underworld

by Gail Godwin

“…Take a trip to Miami Beach in the late 1950’s in Queen of the Underworld by Gail Godwin, a semi-autobiographical look back on Castro, poetry, newspaper reporting, and the invincible power of the Daiquiri.  I know this sounds like it might be yet another vampire book, but the Queen of the Underworld is actually a high society madam…”

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The Queen’s Pawn

by Christy English

“…Told from the perspective of the convent-bred Princess Alais of France alternated by chapter with the older, elegant and worldly Eleanor of Aquitaine, we get a look into a world just struggling out of the dark ages. The Princess is dumped on Eleanor’s doorstep as a sort of fiancée/hostage, intended to marry one of Eleanor’s sons and prevent continued war with France. But when Henry takes a liking to young Alais, Eleanor is not amused. The Queen has no choice but to be a more interesting voice than Alais; after all, it’s Eleanor that history remembers. Still, English does a fine job of giving this historical cipher her own voice….”

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Quicksilver

by Neal Stephenson

“…in reading this book I have learned about the succession of kings and queens in Restoration England, the difference between Puritans and Protestants, how to smelt silver — hint: camel pee — how to cure the French Pox and how to smuggle ostrich plumes, along with a very great many other things. In fact, there is so much plot and so many characters that you need a scorecard, which the author thoughtfully provides….”

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