‘Dear Committee Members’: Novel composed of letters a happy surprise

Dear Esteemed Readers:

I write today with the happy task of commending to your attention “Dear Committee Members” (Doubleday, 180 pages, $22.95), the new novel by Julie Schumacher.

In the interest of impressing upon you [...]

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Heartbreaking novel follows fairy tale format

Roxane Gay’s powerful, heartbreaking debut novel, “An Untamed State,” (Grove Press, 368 pages, $16) takes you square by the shoulder from the first sentence and doesn’t let go until the final chapter.

“Once [...]

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First-time author should add more books to list

When I was 39 I created a “bucket list” of 40 items that I wanted to complete by the time I turned 40.

The things I wanted to accomplish at 40 are much different from the things I would have dreamed of accomplishing as a teena [...]

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‘Paperboy’ delivers story of overcoming adversity

I  was drawn to this story because it tells of a young boy and his struggles with stuttering.

Both of our teenage boys stutter. The author himself stuttered as a child and wrote this story from his childhood experiences growing up. < [...]

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‘The Night Searchers’: Author’s latest thriller, isn’t as much

I was a loyal reader of Marcia Muller’s Sharon McCone mysteries for a long time. McCone — gutsy, smart, determined — was easily one of my favorite fictional detectives. But as a series progressed, I grew less enamored of her a [...]

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‘Norwegian Folk Tales of Anthon and Gurina Johnson’: New children’s book retells Norwegian tales

Jean Russell Larson grew up hearing wonderful folk tales from her Norwegian grandmother.

Carrying on the tradition, Larson later shared the stories with her eight children. They referred to the stories as “chimney corner tales,” [...]

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‘Inspiration on Demand’: Book full of positive ideas

Sometimes something positive can come out of a negative situation.

Just ask Iowan Joshua Coburn, a former body modification artist turned motivational youth speaker who was struggling with depression and a divorce a few years back. In order [...]

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‘The Word Exchange’: New novel blends suspense, philosophy

In “The Word Exchange” (Doubleday, 370 pages, $26.95), Alena Graedon imagines a near future in which a single company makes a play to control not only content, but meaning itself.

Graedon’s debut novel blends plausible [...]

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Books bring good way to end, start the day

Even when the days are full of outside adventures it’s good to start and end with a good story. And we never know when a rainy day might hit us — a day that’s perfect for a stack of stories.

Let’s start with humor [...]

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‘Acts of God’: First time read inspires interest in other works

Ellen Gilchrist’s new short story collection, “Acts of God,” finds people struggling against forces beyond their control. Gilchrist, a National Book Award winner, shines a light on the combination of naivete and courage that a [...]

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What’s so funny?

New Yorker cartoons are a lot like what U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said about obscenity — you know it when you see it. Except, in case of the magazine’s cartoons, in a nice way.

A character dressed in a robe [...]

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‘Talking to Ourselves’: Discover novel again and again

“Discover” is a funny word. When we use it, we don’t often mean that we are the first to do something, but that we are just now becoming aware of something that has long since existed.

This is the feeling that comes whe [...]

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‘The Devil’s Glove’: Mystery strikes out with unusual prose, plot

‘The Devil’s Glove” (Tate Publishing, 382 pages, $26.99) is bedeviled by some writing issues.

Debut novelist Louis Agnello Jr., writing under the name Cousin Vinny, has penned a tale of good versus evil in which the &#x [...]

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‘Team Seven’: Teen coming-of-age story scores

“Team Seven,” the debut novel from Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Marcus Burke, is the story of Andre Battel, a young African-American man coming of age in Milton, Mass., a small town just south of Boston. Beginning when Andr [...]

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‘The Farm’: Thriller puts new spin on family turmoil

Imagine receiving a call from your father alerting you that your mother is suffering from delusions. Now imagine the next call is from your mother who maintains your father is lying and that she is attempting to expose a great evil. Who would you [...]

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