'The Last Pilot' deftly evokes America's ramp-up to the space program

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"The Last Pilot: A Novel" by Benjamin Johncock; Picador (320 pages, $26)

In "The Last Pilot," debut novelist Benjamin Johncock evokes the years of America's ramp-up to the space program so skillfully, a reader can almost feel the sandblasted landing strips. But he also probes the struggles of a couple who face the most painful crisis parents ...Read more

Review: 'What Pet Should I Get?' by Dr. Seuss

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"What Pet Should I Get?" by Dr. Seuss; Random House Books for Young Readers (48 pages, $17.99)

There are moments of uproarious fun in Dr. Seuss' never-before-published picture book, "What Pet Should I Get?"

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known for his more fantastical creatures -- the Grinch, Things One and Two -- proves himself just as capable ...Read more

Envisioning colonialism through water

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"Drought: A Novel" by Ronald Fraser; Verso (244 pages, $19.95 paper)

Ronald Fraser's "Drought" is an uneven novel, but when it is good, it is very, very good -- as in Graham Greene good.

The story of a British expatriate named John, who in the late 1950s quits his newspaper job and escapes to the Andalusian mountain village of Benalamar, "...Read more

'Future Crimes': A sober warning about the Internet of Things

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"Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It" by Marc Goodman; Doubleday (464 pages, $27.95)

If you're trying to decide whether to bring your e-reader or a hardback on vacation, Marc Goodman's new tome "Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It" ...Read more

'Bum rap' gives insight, intrigue into courtroom drama

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"Bum Rap" by Paul Levine; Thomas & Mercer (350 pages, $15.95)

Miami author Paul Levine joins the characters from his two Miami-based series -- former Dolphin-turned-lawyer Jake Lassiter and attorneys Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord -- for a highly entertaining look at the law, South Florida style.

"Bum Rap" is as much a legal thriller as it is...Read more

Review: 'The Jezebel Remedy' by Martin Clark

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"The Jezebel Remedy" by Martin Clark; Knopf (382 pages, $27.95)

Martin Clark's latest novel is a legal thriller, but it's far richer than the usual sort of book you think of when you see that description. There's an intriguing mystery at the heart of "The Jezebel Remedy," as well as shady shenanigans, corporate conspiracy, thinly veiled and not...Read more

In 'Speak,' distinct voices from distinct eras ponder human connection

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"Speak: A Novel" by Louisa Hall; Ecco (336 pages, $27.99)

In the middle of her second novel, "Speak," Louisa Hall quotes T.S. Eliot from "Four Quartets": "Time present and time past are both present in time future, and time future contained in time past." It's a telling choice, for time -- present, past and future -- is a key element of this ...Read more

'Go Set a Watchman' isn't horrible, isn't good

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"Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee; HarperCollins (288 pages, $27.99)

In case you've been squirreled under a rock that shelters you from turbulent events in the literary world, last week, HarperCollins released a "rediscovered" book by Harper Lee, author of the beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning 1960 classic To Kill a Mockingbird.

Back in February,...Read more

In 'A Full Life,' Jimmy Carter at 90 remains a wise truth teller

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"A Full Life: Reflections at 90" by Jimmy Carter; Simon & Schuster (272 pages, $28)

Jimmy Carter let me down. Not with his book "A Full Life: Reflections at 90" -- a warm and detailed memoir of his youth followed by a clear-eyed assessment of the issues he tackled as president and afterward -- but with his response to the question "Does the arc...Read more

'Coal Wars' looks at the environmental impact of burning coal

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"Coal Wars: The Future of Energy and the Fate of the Planet" by Richard Martin; Palgrave Macmillan (284 pages, $28).

There is no doubt about which side of the great divide over coal Richard Martin stands on. "If we don't shut down Big Coal, the fight against global warming is lost," the energy analyst says early on in "Coal Wars: The Future of ...Read more

'Watchman' attacks small-town bigotry

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"Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee; HarperCollins ($27.99, 288 pages)

Has Nelle Harper Lee lost her mind?

The state of Alabama doesn't think so, and several friends have defended the 89-year-old author's decision to release a sequel to her 1960 masterpiece, "To Kill a Mockingbird." Anticipation over "Go Set a Watchman" has sparked the biggest ...Read more

'What Doesn't Kill Her' packed full of believable twists

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"What Doesn't Kill Her" by Carla Norton; Minotaur (368 pages, $25.99)

A young woman's determination to be a survivor, not a victim, and to find her sense of self makes a forceful theme in Carla Norton's compelling series. It's a long battle, forever to be fought, because Reeve LeClaire was held captive for four years by a psychopath, her escape...Read more

Book review: 'Go Set a Watchman' pricks at the literary conscience

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There is much to be said of all the speculation and allegations about how exactly the long-lost manuscript of "Go Set a Watchman" was discovered and whether author Harper Lee ever wanted it to be published in the first place.

Let's set those concerns aside for now and focus on the story itself.

Whether you consider "Watchman" a sequel to "To ...Read more

'A Hanging at Cinder Bottom' is an engaging, clever con

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"A Hanging at Cinder Bottom: A Novel" by Glenn Taylor; Tin House (400 pages; $15.95 paper)

Imagine if Bonnie and Clyde had lived in West Virginia and hadn't needed to be so doggone famous.

Abe Baach and Goldie Toothman give the notorious outlaws a run for their (stolen) money in "A Hanging at Cinder Bottom." In the novel, the pair come of age ...Read more

'Art of the Con' paints revealing picture of scammed collectors

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"The Art of the Con: The Most Notorious Fakes, Frauds, and Forgeries in the Art World" by Anthony M. Amore; Palgrave Macmillan (272 pages, $26)

Late last month, an art dealer named David Carter pled guilty to seven counts of fraud in a British court for passing off cheap bric-a-brac paintings he found on the Internet as originals by Alfred ...Read more

Harper Lee's 'Go Set a Watchman' reveals a darker side of Maycomb

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"Go Set a Watchman: A Novel" by Harper Lee; Harper (278 pages, $27.99)

It would be a mistake to read Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman" as a sequel to her 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Yes, it takes place a generation after the earlier book, involving a visit from Scout Finch -- now 26 and using her given name, Jean Louise...Read more

'The Best Team Money Can Buy' profiles post-McCourt Dodgers

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"The Best Team Money Can Buy: The Los Angeles Dodgers' Wild Struggle to Build a Baseball Powerhouse" by Molly Knight; Simon & Schuster (320 pages, $26)

Molly Knight begins "The Best Team Money Can Buy: The Los Angeles Dodgers' Wild Struggle to Build a Baseball Powerhouse" with a brutal moment: Clayton Kershaw's collapse in Game 6 of the 2013 ...Read more

'Small Backs' dramatizes the burdens that girls must bear

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"The Small Backs of Children: A Novel" by Lidia Yuknavitch; Harper (240 pages, $24.99)

"I see the stories of women, but they are always stuck inside the stories of men. Why is that?"

So says Menas, the Lithuanian girl at the center of Lidia Yuknavitch's "The Small Backs of Children," a prose poem recast as a novel and calling to mind the late ...Read more

'Jezebel Remedy' a cure for summer doldrums

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"The Jezebel Remedy" by Martin Clark; Knopf (400 pages, $27.95)

Early in "The Jezebel Remedy," lawyer Joe Stone explains to his wife that he liked a particularly obstreperous client, because "The world needs its agitators. Needs a few wasps and yellow jackets to keep things from going stale. As a bonus, you got the unvarnished truth from her --...Read more

Review: 'Master Thieves' by Stephen Kurkjian

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"Master Thieves" by Stephen Kurkjian; Public Affairs (272 pages, $25.99)

Whodunits are irresistible, partly because readers can't wait to find out whether the theories they develop along the way jibe with the ultimate conclusion. Through that lens, "Master Thieves" doesn't deliver; the "who" remains tantalizingly unclear. But that's OK, and ...Read more

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