book reviews: mystery, fiction,non-fiction, fantasy

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  • Mystery/Crime

  • Fantasy

  • Fiction

  • Non-Fiction

  • Music and Art


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  • New Reviews:

  • Quench Your Own Thirst: Business Lessons Learned Over a Beer or Two by Jim Koch.

  • Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli.

  • Master of Ceremonies; A Memoir by Joel Grey.

  • The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End by Katie Roiphe.

  • Failure: Why Science is so Successful by Stuart Firestein.

  • Chicagonomics: The Evolution of Chicago Free Market Economics by Lanny Ebenstein.

  • Arcadia by Lauren Groff.

  • Fates and Furies by Laura Groff.

  • No One Ever Told Us That: Money and Life Lessons for Young Adults by John D. Spooner.

  • Sviatoslav Richter, Pianist by Karl Aage Rasmussen.

  • Léon Blum : Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist by Pierre Birnbaum.

  • Palace of Treason by Jason Matthews.

  • The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida.

  • The Wright Brothers by David McCullough.

  • Bernard Berenson A Life in the Picture Trade by Rachel Cohen.

  • Humanistic Judaism by Sherwin T. Wine.

  • Jabotinsky: A Life by Hillel Halkin.

  • Ben Gurion, Father of Modern Israel by Anita Shapira.

  • Find Me by Laura Van Den Berg.

  • Living The Secular Life by Phil Zuckerman.

  • The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution by Jonathan Eig.

        Newer Listings:

  • This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids by Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo.

  • Rainbow in the Cloud: Wisdom and Spirit of Maya Angelou.

  • Inside Madeline by Paula Bomer.

  • The Quotable Musician From Bach To Tupac by Sheila E. Anderson.

  • The Leonard Bernstein Letters edited by Nigel Simeone.

  • Daughter of the King Growing Up in Gangland by Sandra Lansky and William Stadiem.

  • Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues by MartinJ Blaser MD.

  • Visible City by Tovah Mirvis.

  • A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthough Ideas by Warren Berger.

  • The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison.

  • The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman..

  • Scent of Butterflies by Dora Levy Mossanen.

  • Alena by Rachel Pastan.

  • Stranger in My Own Country: A Jewish Family in Modern Germary. by Yascha Mounnk.

  • The Rise of Abraham Cahan by Seth Lipsky.

  • Raw by Mark Haskell Smith.

  • The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls.

  • The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed his Mind and changed the history of Free Speech in America.. by Thomas Healy.

  • The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells. by Andrew Sean Greer.

  • Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell

  • All That Is by Phillip Salter.

  • The Great Agnostic Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought by Susan Jacoby.

  • The Hour of Peril by Daniel Stashhower.

  • Ghost Man by Roger Hobbs.

  • Power Systems by Noam Chomsky.

  • Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan.

  • Winter of the World Book Two of the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett.

  • In Praise of Messy Lives by Katie Roiphe.

  • Chasing Venus The Race To Measure the Heavens By Andrea Wulf.

  • Free Will By Sam Harris.

  • The Orphan Master by Jean Zimmerman.

  • Unorthodox:The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman.

  • When General Grant Expelled the Jews by Jonathan D. Sarna.

  • Bringing up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman.

  • The Inquisitor by Mark Allen Smith.

  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.

  • Bad Boy of Music by George Antheil.

  • Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of the Most Beautiful Woman in the World by Richard Rhodes.

  • Mudbound by Hillary Jordan.

  • Jews On Broadway An Historical survey of Performers, Playwrights, Composers, Lyricists, and Producers. By Stewart Lane.

  • When She Woke by Hillary Jordan.

  • The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta.

  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.

  • Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay.

  • La Seduction by by Elaine Sciolino.

  • The Greater Journey Americans in Paris by David McCullough.

  • The Forgotten Founding Father:Noah Webster's Obsessions and the Creation of an American Culture by Joshua Kendall.


  • Fantasy


  • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. Riverhead Books 2015. Lotto, a Florida mama's boy who is heir to a magnificient inheritance is immeadiately taken with Mathilde, a fellow student attending his college. Much to the surprise of his friends, Lotto and Mathilde marry soon after graduation. He was one of the most popular men on campus, known for his sexual adventures and affable personality. Mathilde was more aloof with few friends, and attractive in an unusual way. They move to New York, where Lotto struggles to find work as an actor, and Mathilde works as his main financial support. Although their core friend group visits them, Mathilde remains somewhat apart and does not share Lotto's intimate history with with them. Mathilde eventually discovers one of Lotto's plays, and monitors his path to becoming a successful playwright. The plot is subsidiary to the real pith of the novel: character development and relationships. The author is a ingenious puppeteer: we subtly learn about the characters background and how they deftly hide their pasts from each other. The characters develop in a slow, unassuming fashion: the reader will uncover unexpected twists about their lives. The novel was chosen by as the #1 book of 2015. It was one of the Library Journal's top ten books of the year, and a National Book Award Finalist in 2015. The author has written The Monsters of Templeton, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for new writers, Delicate Edible Birds, a collection of short stores, and Arcadia, which was awarded the Medici Book Prize in 2013. Her web site is

  • Arcadia by Lauren Groff. Hyperion The story of 60's commune life as viewed from the perspective of a little boy. Bit, the son of Hannah and Abraham, was born on the commune in rural Pennsylvania. We are witnesses to the development of the commune: the in-fighting, poverty, culture, building and eventual demise through the eyes of the main character to manhood. Eventaully, Bit will move to the "outside" exhibiting and teaching photography. His life is colored with his immersion in the commune: boyhood friends, parents, elders, and temporary dwellers. Throughout the novel there is the dominating presence of nature- Bit brings this to the city along with his past. This is a captivating, raw and spiritually penetrating novel. Stylisting flowing, and encompassing depth on many levels. The author's web site is

  • The Diver's Clothes Lie  Empty by Vendela Vida. Harper Collins: 2015. A newly divorced woman from Florida travels alone to Morocco. Unexpectedly, the backpack containing her valuables and passport is stolen shortly after at her hotel during check-in. Having no passport or other identification will lead her to a bizarre path of adventure as a person with multiple identities, including a part as a stand-in for a celebrity actress in a movie. As the whirlwind of her adventures progresses, the story of her entangled past slowly unfolds. She assumes new identities while escaping further from the past of her former life. The reader will be immersed in this highly original novel. The author has written four books, including The Lovers and Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name, which was awarded a Sundance Institute/Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award when developed into script. She is a founding editor of Believer Magazine.

  • Find Me by Laura Van Den Berg. Farrar,Straus, and Giroux : 2015. Joy is immune to the "sickness" raging in the U.S. and has volunteered to live in a hospital researching its cure. No one leaves the hospital- it is a sci-fi  environment where the staff wear hazmat suits and patients are clothed in hospital scrubs. The U.S. is in a state of near anarchy. Joy, who was abandoned as an infant, seeks to escape the hospital and find her birth mother, who is a famous scientist. The novel focuses on the bizarre state of affairs in the U.S.- the economic system has decayed- there is constant news of the sickness abating and then raging again as an epidemic. This is a haunting futuristic novel depicting an eerie future scenario. The reader will be drawn to the author's storytelling gift. Her first collection of stories, What the World Will Look Like When All The Water Leaves Us, was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and a finalist for Frank O'Connor Short Story Award . Her second collection of stories, The Isle of Youth, was an NPR Best Book in 2013. Find Me is her first novel. Her web site is
  • Non-Fiction