This Wicked World by Richard Lange

Synopsis: Fresh out of jail and trying to go straight, ex-bodyguard Jimmy Boone’s curiosity is piqued by a mauled pit bull, leading him to a cache of counterfeit money, a pissed-off stripper, and a conman looking to retire at any cost. Review: I wasn’t sure that I would like This Wicked World, being that I typically prefer British crime novels written by women to American crime novels of any kind. It did not take long for me to get totally sucked into the book, however,…

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A Morning Like This by Deborah Bedford

Synopsis: When David learns that he has a daughter from an affair, and that she needs a bone marrow transplant from his son, he confesses all to his wife and tries to put his marriage back together. Review: I really did not care for A Morning Like This. I felt like David expected cheap grace just because the child from his affair had cancer, and didn’t think he needed to do any real work of repentance. He was just awful to Abby, not allowing her…

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Ms. Taken Identity by Dan Begley

Synopsis: A guy decides to write a chick lit novel, and finds love and loses himself along the way. Review: Ms. Taken Identity could’ve been a big huge miss. It’s a great concept that the author could’ve coasted on. Happily, Ms. Taken Identity has humor, heart, and a whole lot of smarts. Mitch is a PhD candidate with a 750-page magnum opus that nobody wants to buy. On a lark, he decides to write chick lit because in his mind, any idiot can do it.…

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The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand

Synopsis: A tight-knit group of 4 couples must deal with the sudden and suspicious deaths of two of their own. Review: The Castaways put me off at first because it reminded me of The Big Chill, a movie I’ve never liked. I’ve never really been able to put my finger on why, except I know it has something to do with Glenn Close’s smug smile throughout. Perhaps it was because although they were ostensibly reuniting because of a death, they were so solipsistic in their…

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You Make Me Feel Like Dancing by Allison Bottke

Synopsis: Dancing hairdresser Susan loves disco and dreams of opening a Disco Hall of Fame, but secrets from her Studio 54 past may ruin everything. Review: I’m totally the wrong demographic for “boomer lit,” and I never really connected with the characters in You Make Me Feel Like Dancing. I felt like the Christian aspect didn’t go very deep, with much of the God-talk feeling like Oprah-theology, not orthodox Christianity. It just was not for me. Share on Facebook

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The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns by Elizabeth Leiknes

Synopsis: Lucy only wanted to save her sister after a accident, but a lifetime escorting souls to hell wasn’t quite the price she had in mind, and now she wants out. Review: The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns was a quick, breezy read. Elizabeth Leikness has imagination to spare when it comes to her plotting, and I never quite guessed what was coming next. She has a wonderfully satirical wit, but her book isn’t superficial at all. Lucy’s job is to wrangle the truly wicked…

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The Down and Dirty Dish on Revenge by Eva Nagorski

Synopsis: A history of revenge and handbook for “serving it up nice and cold to that lying, cheating bastard.” Review: Breezy and snazzy, The Down and Dirty Dish on Revenge does a lot with what seems on the surface to be a thin premise. Eva Nagorski looks at revenge in literature, through history, and across different cultures, with almost a sociologist’s eye. She peppers the book with real-life anecdotes of revenge both creative and mean-spirited. And she closes the book with a chapter on the…

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The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome by John F. Wasik

Synopsis: Subtitled “Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream,” this book analyzes the housing crisis and reflects upon ways that America can move forward with affordable, environmentally sustainable architecture. Review: The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome is a good companion piece to James Howard Kunstler’s A Geography of Nowhere. Author John F. Wasik offers a cogent overview of the current housing crisis along with an analysis of the unsustainability of the current fads in American housing. He explains trends in environmentally conscious architecture and building, and offers his ideas…

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The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist (Translated by Marlaine Delargy)

Synopsis: Rendered dispensable because she has not borne a child by the age of 50, Dorrit faces a future of human experiments and organ donations in an otherwise idyllic unit until she is called on to make her final donation. Review: Though not quite as poetically haunting as Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, The Unit is a gripping account of a utilitarian world where humans constitute the ultimate resource. Basically, any man or woman who has not had children by a certain age gets…

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The Unseen by Alexandra Sokoloff

Synopsis: Reeling from a betrayal by her fiance, a psychologist finds herself fascinated by Duke University’s research into the paranormal from the early 20th century, and decides to replicate one such experiment that ended in tragedy and closed down the department for good. Review: I’m so glad Superfast Toddler took a loooooong nap today because I don’t think I could’ve taken another night trying to read The Unseen in a dark bedroom with only a tiny booklight. I finished in the bright June sunshine and…

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