Reviews

‘A Quilt Club For Christmas’: ‘Pickle Club’ prequel worth the wait for Dallas fans

It’s been 20 years since author Sandra Dallas wrote The Persian Pickle Club, and fans have been hoping for a sequel ever since. Dallas has done one better with her latest book, A Quilt for Christmas (St. Martin’s Press, $17.99), a Ci [...]

continue »

‘The Last Breath’: Betrayal, importance of forgiveness integral to debut novel

Kimberly Belle packs a punch with the gripping prologue of “The Last Breath.” And this debut novelist keeps readers turning the pages, assessing your beliefs and leaving you holding your breath all the way to the end.

The book [...]

continue »

‘Proclivity’: Midwest author sets up series but doesn’t instill need to read more

A good portion of Kris Kaiser’s self-published debut thriller, “Proclivity,” takes place in Iowa, including key scenes in Swisher and Cedar Rapids. Kaiser explained why in a note he included in the review copy: “I wante [...]

continue »

‘Now we will be happy’: Standalone stories are strongest together

One of the characters in Amina Gautier’s remarkable new collection of short stories, “Now We Will Be Happy” (University of Nebraska Press, $16.95), found herself a victim of teasing when she was 10 years old. “I had a b [...]

continue »

‘The Witch and the Other Tales Re-told’: Thompson didn’t rebuilt, didn’t just retell classic tales

Imagine Hansel and Gretel not as lost children in the woods but as city kids in a terrible foster home. That sort of reimagining fuels Jean Thompson’s “The Witch and Other Tales Re-told” (Blue Rider Press, 256 pages, $25.95), [...]

continue »

‘Riders on the Storm’: Gorman’s coming-of-age series comes to a close

Cedar Rapids author Ed Gorman’s successfully-drawn literary picture of Sam McCain’s coming of age comes to a close in the satisfying “Riders on the Storm” (Pegasus, 208 pages, $25.95).

Gorman introduced McCain in [...]

continue »

‘Turn me loose’ poet excels in moving readers on age-old topic

Poet Frank X Walker calls forth the spirit of a civil rights martyr in his new collection, “Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers.”

This powerful collection of poems, which revisits the assassination of Evers in Missis [...]

continue »

‘Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932’ Novel contains many voices, each adding complexity

Francine Prose’s new novel, “Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932,” is a story deeply invested in the nature of truth, the underpinnings of evil, and the power of love to undo or ennoble us.

Prose, a former faculty [...]

continue »

‘Not That Kind of Girl’: Lena Dunham’s memoir packed with witty anecdotes, honesty

I came to Lena Dunham, appropriately enough, at my therapist’s office. I was paging through the Aug. 13, 2012, issue of the New Yorker, waiting to begin my weekly session of labored oversharing, when I stumbled upon “First Love, [...]

continue »

‘Your Life Isn’t For You’: Blog post turns into book meant to inspire kindness

You might be one of the 30 million people who read Smith’s blog post titled, “Your Marriage isn’t for You” or one of the millions that saw him and his wife talk about that post on “The Today Show,” “ [...]

continue »

Japanese cartoonist’s long tale finally closes — maybe

In every review I’ve read over the past couple decades about cartoonist Yukito Kishiro’s series about a martial arts-trained cyborg — named Gally in all versions except in English translations, where she’s known, inexpl [...]

continue »

‘Jonestown Survivor: An Insider’s Look’ peels back why people died in Jonestown

In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy of Jonestown on Nov. 18, 1978, the Peoples Temple movement was portrayed in an almost exclusively one-sided fashion.

However, thanks to a dedicated team of scholars, journalists and survivors, a more [...]

continue »

‘Landline’ calls on time travel for fun plot

Writers have pondered the possibility of time travel — its benefits and possible repercussions — for years. In Omaha-based author Rainbow Rowell’s new book, “Landline,” she takes the argument in a new direction: [...]

continue »

“While the Gods were Sleeping”: Fascinating, frustrating memoir

Elizabeth Enslin begins her memoir “While the Gods were Sleeping” with the story of her son’s birth in a small village in Nepal in 1987. After a long labor that wasn’t progressing, she takes off through the rural roads [...]

continue »

‘Some Luck’: Readers of Smiley’s new book are the lucky ones

The title of Jane Smiley’s new novel doesn’t go far enough to describe the reader’s experience. Reading “Some Luck” (Knopf, 395 pages $26.95) is akin to hitting it big in a literary lottery. This first entry in a [...]

continue »