Saturday, August 29, 2015

Posted June 17, 2015in Book Review

‘At the Water’s Edge’

Fantastical monsters, the Scottish Highlands, a complicated romance, and the events of World War II are all included in this coming-of-age story and period novel, “At the Water’s Edge,” written by “Water for Elephants” author Sara Gruen. The story begins New Year’s Eve of 1944 at a Philadelphia high society

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Posted June 10, 2015in Book Review

‘Jesus Cow’

Michael Perry’s first adult novel takes place in the small rural town of Swivel, Wisconsin. Forty-something Harley is a bachelor living alone on the remaining 15 acres of his parents’ farm; the rest having been lost mostly to development. He works at a factory, keeps a few beefers, volunteers at

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Posted June 03, 2015in Book Review

‘Equal Before the Law: How Iowa Led Americans to Marriage Equality’

In April 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court stunned the nation when it issued its decision legalizing same-sex marriage. At the time, marriage equality was the law in Massachusetts and Connecticut, but those were liberal, urban, coastal states. Iowa was viewed as conservative and rural and was in the dead center

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Posted May 27, 2015in Book Review

‘The Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley’

“If there was a running motif throughout my brief life, it would be the close and present nature of death. I’d known it intimately from the start.” So begins the last day in the life of funeral home employee Paddy Buckley. His mother died when he was 4, his father

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Posted May 20, 2015in Book Review

‘Second Watch’

This is a J. P. Beaumont mystery with a twist. J.P. — or Beau to his friends — is having double knee replacement surgery. The surgery goes well, but in recovery he is visited by ghosts. It begins with the ghost of the first homicide he worked on as a

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Posted May 13, 2015in Book Review

‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing’

I am a confirmed pack rat. Despite my propensity to move every few years, I still seem to justify hauling around the same stuff, over and over again. Boxes of pictures that could easily be scanned, art projects from third grade and oh, so many books! I claim sentimental attachment,

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Posted May 06, 2015in Book Review

‘Making Nice’

Matt Sumell’s new novel is a collection of linked stories narrated by 30-year-old Alby. Alby was the only person in the room with his mother as she died suffering from cancer, and his grief is profound. He is not good at “making nice,” and he is horrible at grieving. He

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Posted April 29, 2015in Book Review


Iowa City native Tim Johnston has received very well-deserved rave reviews for his first adult novel, “Descent.”   This page-turning thriller with its deeply developed characters and intense situations is one of the smartest, most engrossing reads I’ve come across in months. Grant and Angela Courtland, from Wisconsin, have treated their

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Posted April 22, 2015in Book Review

‘Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania’

Erik Larson, one of the most popular history authors writing today, has picked the sinking of the Lusitania as his next study. The centennial of the Great War began last year, so the examination of the events that drew America into the war is very timely. As is his style,

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Posted April 15, 2015in Book Review

‘The Children’s Crusade’

“The Children’s Crusade” by Ann Packer is the compelling story of a family growing up in the 1970s in what will become Silicon Valley. In 1954, Bill Blair stumbled on an unimproved property and immediately began to imagine the home and family he would build there. A physician who had

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