Jam on the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett

Jam on the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett

A fascinating and gripping novel of life as a female African American journalist in the early 20th century. A perfect complement to the age of “intersectionality”, Jam on the Vine features Muslim characters, gay and bi-sexual characters, and feminist characters, unafraid to speak out and to be themselves. Like role model Ida B. Wells, Ivo […]


The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

Lois McMaster Bujold is justly famous for her classic Vorkosigan Saga in science fiction, but this book shows she is a master of fantasy as well. A disgraced and crippled former knight returns to court to tutor the royal princess. There, he must battle old enemies and rivals, while seeking to dismantle the curse that […]


Harnessing Peacocks by Mary Wesley

Harnessing Peacocks by Mary Wesley

Not what I think of when I think of the “nice” English domestic novel. Nice is a word the author, at least  as ruminated about by Hebe, the mysterious freelance unmarried cook with child, despises. Instead it is fun, lively, full of cutting remarks, keen observations (such as how love affairs can help a marriage), […]


The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

A meta-fantasy book for those who grew up loving fantasy books, and always harbored the secret hope that one day a wizard would show up on their doorstep with a quest, or a letter of admission to Hogwarts, or a magic wardrobe.  This book explores what happens when that occurs, and you get everything you […]


On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman

On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman

In about every third book that Elinor Lipman writes, the main character is unsympathetic. I don’t think Faith Frankel, underemployed and living in her claustrophobic hometown, is supposed to be unpleasant but she is whiny and jumps to unsupported conclusions and acts on them. Of course, she did just buy an old rotting bungalow where […]


The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

You already know much of what Kolbert presents here. Life is both tenacious and tenuous. At least five times in the last half-billion years much of Earth’s life has been wiped out by a change in global conditions, the most recent probably caused by an asteroid impact during the Late Cretaceous epoch. Die-offs cascade as […]


Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

When your god dies, it’s time to call in a Craftswoman or Craftsman to resurrect what they can – and find out who murdered him.  Fantastic world-building and compelling characters make for a great start to a new series!


Murder of a President

Murder of a President

Based on Candice Millard’s excellent book Destiny of the Republic, this PBS American Experience production takes us to Washington, D.C. in the summer of 1881. James Garfield has just been elected President and is turning out to be a strong leader–one determined to eliminate the horrible mess of machine politics and to continue the fight for equality for […]


Labyrinth of Lies

Labyrinth of Lies

In 1958 West Germany, the average person had never heard of Auschwitz. When a teacher at an elementary school in Munich–a former Nazi guard who had murdered people at Auschwitz–is ID’d by a Holocaust survivor, a young DA begins an investigation into how many former Nazis hold jobs and positions of importance despite a law that […]


101 Reykjavik

101 Reykjavik

Ever wonder what a slice of life looks like in Iceland? Start with Baltasar Kormákur’s award-winning black comedy, 101 Reykjavik. Hlyner is a 30-year-old slacker who lives with his divorced mother in a stifling apartment in Reykjavik. He spends his days wandering about town looking for a job (kinda sorta) and, during the frigid blustery […]