'Remembering Katharine Hepburn' and her life in Connecticut

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"Remembering Katharine Hepburn" by Ann Nyberg; Globe Pequot (168 pages, $16.95)

Katharine Hepburn may have achieved stardom in Hollywood and triumph on Broadway, but she never, ever lost her connection to her native Connecticut. Indeed, she lived out much of her last years in her house in Fenwick, a tony borough on Long Island Sound where her ...Read more

Review: 'The Girl Who Escaped ISIS'

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"The Girl Who Escaped ISIS" by Farida Khalaf and Andrea Hoffmann, translated from German by Jamie Bulloch; Atria Books (240 pages, $24)

Amid the endless war news streaming out of Syria, the need for moral clarity in the conflict is running high.

Farida Khalaf's story offers it explicitly. Khalaf was a math whiz and a soldier's daughter who was...Read more

Review: 'Television: A Biography'

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"Television: A Biography" by David Thomson; Thomas & Hudson (412 pages, $34.95)

David Thomson is one of film's more thoughtful critics. He's also a crank. Scan his witty, withering put-downs in "The Biographical Dictionary of Film" -- a must for cinephiles who don't mind their idols being taken down a peg -- and you'll swear he's the ...Read more

Change is a sign of health, not corruption, in a language

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"Words on the Move: Why English Won't -- and Can't -- Sit Still (Like, Literally)" by John McWhorter; Henry Holt and Co. (272 pages, $28)

John McWhorter's breezy "Words on the Move" is the umpteenth attempt to put to death the stubborn misconception that language change is a sign of intellectual laziness and cultural rot.

It's not even ...Read more

Chuck Noll a football coach who also made time for life

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"Chuck Noll: His Life's Work" by Michael MacCambridge; University of Pittsburgh Press (504 pages, $26.95)

Is any great National Football League coach so little discussed, outside of western Pennsylvania, as Chuck Noll? His Pittsburgh Steelers won four Super Bowls in six seasons in the 1970s, a stretch of dominance surpassed only by the Green ...Read more

Review: 'Napoleon's Last Island,' by Thomas Keneally

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"Napoleon's Last Island" by Thomas Keneally; Atria Books (423 pages, $30)

Australian Thomas Keneally, author of "Schindler's List" and 2013's brilliant "The Daughters of Mars," is one of the finest living English-language writers. His sprawling new novel tries to do what he has done well so many times -- set real and fictional characters in a ...Read more

Family stories are the subject of Michael Chabon's new book “Moonglow”

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"Moonglow" by Michael Chabon; Harper (430 pages, $28.99)

It is the morning after the election. I am on a plane to Washington, D.C., confused and distraught about what happened. Someday, we will tell ourselves stories about this day, and what happened next, and perhaps our stories will carry the theme that our worst fears often do not ...Read more

Wesley Lowery documents 'stream of black death' in 'They Can't Kill Us All'

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"They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement" by Wesley Lowery; Little, Brown and Company (256 pages, $27)

"How do you sleep when you know that soon you'll need to tell the story of the death of yet another black man?"

That's the question journalist Wesley Lowery asked himself while lying ...Read more

Lead-up to a day of infamy

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"Countdown to Pearl Harbor: The Twelve Days to the Attack" by Steve Twomey; Simon & Schuster (416 pages, $30)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As Hollywood regularly reminds us, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, was an act of duplicity so monstrous that President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it a "day which will live in infamy."...Read more

Anna Kendrick's memoir: a simple song, pitch perfect

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"Scrappy Little Nobody" by Anna Kendrick; Touchstone (275 pages, $26.99)

Being a likable, down-to-earth celebrity and writing a likable, down-to-earth memoir is, to borrow one of Anna Kendrick's favorite expressions, a fool's errand. The internet is peppered with posts such as "Anna Kendrick Is All of Us" and "15 Reasons Why Anna Kendrick Is ...Read more

Coll Thrush's 'Indigenous London' spins history's lens

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"Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire" by Coll Thrush; Yale University Press (328 pages, $38)

Vancouver-based scholar and author Coll Thrush cleverly spins history's lens with "Indigenous London: Native Travelers at the Heart of Empire."

Thrush, author of the 2008 volume "Native Seattle," is clear about his aim for both ...Read more

In Zadie Smith's 'Swing Time,' dancers face the music

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"Swing Time" by Zadie Smith; Penguin Press (464 pages, $27)

"I ignored the ridiculous plots of these movies," confides the never-named, first-person narrator of "Swing Time," Zadie Smith's fifth novel. "To me they were only roads leading to the dance."

The narrator could be describing the 1936 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, also titled ...Read more

'The Lion in the Living Room' explores why we love cats

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"The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World" by Abigail Tucker; Simon & Schuster (237 pages, $26)

I read much of Abigail Tucker's "The Lion in the Living Room," appropriately, with a cat on my lap. And though I sat quietly, she did not: sometimes perching on the arm of my chair, staring vaguely but fixedly into...Read more

Author Yudhijit Bhattacharjee writes about a dyslexic spy

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"The Spy Who Couldn't Spell: A Dyslexic Traitor, An Unbreakable Code and the FBI's Hunt for America's Stolen Secrets" by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee; NAL (304 pages, $27)

The moral of the story of Brian Regan: No matter the circumstance or depth of financial trouble there is always a better answer to your problems than a sophisticated, get-rich-...Read more

Review: 'Play it Loud' by Brad Tolinski and Alandi PErna

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"Play It Loud" by Brad Tolinski and Alan di Perna; Doubleday (379 pages, $26.95)

The scream of the electric guitar was the dominant soundtrack of the 20th century.

First developed to provide louder rhythm backup for big bands of the Swing Era, the electric guitar then killed the big bands, feasted on their corpses and looked for its next ...Read more

Review: 'Notwithstanding' by Louis de Bernieres

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"Notwithstanding" by Louis de Bernieres; Vintage (372 pages, $16)

"Notwithstanding," the new collection of 22 short stories from Louis de Bernieres, is utterly charming. And, no, that's not damning with faint praise.

Charming is a quaint, old-fashioned word, and this is a quaint book (originally released in England in 2009) that captures the ...Read more

An indulgent read for fans of ski-film mogul Warren Miller

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"Freedom Found: My Life Story" by Warren Miller; Warren Miller Co. (512 pages, $29.95)

Most people trot out the saying in jest, usually in response to a question about how their life is going: "Just livin' the dream!" From the outside looking in, ski-movie mogul Warren Miller has always appeared to be one of those rare creatures who has been ...Read more

'Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life': Short but masterful take on the filmmaker's life and works

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"Alfred Hitchcock: A Brief Life" by Peter Ackroyd; Doubleday (276 pages, $26.95)

There are days when an 800-page biography of some fascinating person is just what we want to dive into. And then, there are days when we feel less ambitious; when we want to immerse ourselves in someone's life, but can't quite summon the intestinal fortitude to ...Read more

Connelly digs deep in 'The Wrong Side of Goodbye'

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"The Wrong Side of Goodbye" by Michael Connelly; Little, Brown (400 pages, $29)

It's hardly a revelation that book titles aren't just random choices but have a connection to the story. This has always especially been true with Michael Connelly's engrossing novels.

"The Wrong Side of Goodbye" -- his thrilling 23rd novel about LAPD homicide ...Read more

In Ha Jin's choppy 'Boat Rocker,' a journalist takes on China

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"The Boat Rocker" by Ha Jin; Pantheon (240 pages, $25.95)

"You're like a little turtle attempting to rock a boat shared by two huge countries."

Hence the title of Ha Jin's "The Boat Rocker," in which the so-called turtle is 36-year-old Feng Danlin, a journalist working on Long Island for a small Chinese news agency that's trying to speak truth...Read more

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