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California: A Novel

Lepucki has armed her novel with a stunning twist, and its fallout is thrilling.

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky

The problem in “How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky” is that its potentially comic scenes rarely attain escape velocity.

White Beech: The Rainforest Years

“White Beech” does deliver a farmer’s marketbasket of pleasures. I enjoyed her observations about sexism and natural history, what she calls “the blokiness of botany.”

Half a King

Grimdark fantasy for people who aren’t necessarily very young, just those who don’t have the patience or stomach for Game Of Thrones.

Dry Bones in the Valley: A Novel

Bouman brings his world to life with texture that gives every room and vehicle and person a history and character, keeping us immersed in this mesmerizing and often terrifying story.

The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar

Anyone who thinks the bond between man and dog or cat is the supreme human-house pet attachment will have to reconsider after reading Martin Windrow’s touching account of the bird who changed his life, a possessive and characterful tawny owl named Mumble who was his domestic companion for 15 action-packed years.

Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer

That makes “Preparing the Ghost” unsatisfying at times, but also alluring. It’s hard to imagine a better book about not entirely understanding giant squids.

Astonish Me: A novel

A nondancer, Shipstead has admirably absorbed ballet’s vocabulary of steps, and certain settings and classic bits of choreography are precisely and credibly described.

Summer House with Swimming Pool

A good psychological thriller ought to end with a crisp, clean twist. This ending is mashed potatoes.

Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero

Romm reminds us that we need to care about Seneca — he is a touchstone for the modern world.

The Painter: A novel

If “The Painter” is sometimes clumsy, though, it’s easy to see past its gangly awkwardness to its pure heart. This is an ultimately moving story about love, celebrity and the redemptive power of art.

Price of Fame: The Honorable Clare Boothe Luce

This full, warts-and-all biography hauls her back into the limelight and does her full justice. When she first laid eyes on Ms. Morris, her shrewd old instincts were exactly right.

More Curious

Mr. Wilsey is able here to convey his feelings earnestly — be they amazement or anger, idealism or impatience — with the same vividness and immediacy he brings to his descriptions of people, places and things.

The Book of Unknown Americans

The Book of Unknown Americans is a deeply stirring story about a budding romance between two unlikely lovers, but it is also a ringing paean to love in general: to the love between man and wife, parent and child, outsider and newcomer, pilgrims and promised land.

Run, Don't Walk: The Curious and Chaotic Life of a Physical Therapist InsideWalter Reed Army Medical Center

By the end of the book, some of the most rewarding moments have come from witnessing the simultaneous growth of the patient and therapist, the latter in many ways just as misunderstood as the soldiers.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands: A Novel

The tone is dark, perhaps too dark for the author to sustain. In this erratic novel, hope is not the thing with feathers.

Last Stories and Other Stories

Last Stories isn’t a read in one sitting kind of book. But for the patient, intelligent reader, it will become a beloved and trusted old friend by the time you reach the final page.

The Queen of the Tearling

There is so much to love about Erika Johansen’s novel and very little to dislike. Her characters are realistic, mysterious, and even fun.

Claire of the Sea Light

If any book about human frailty can be described as delicate, Claire of the Sea Light is it.

John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams may not have been one of America’s greatest presidents, but he was definitely one of its greatest citizens.