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"Blood Grove" by Walter Mosley; Mulholland Books (320 pages, $27) ——— Walter Mosley’s books about Easy Rawlins are crime fiction, not history. But taken together, they’re a vivid picture of Black life in Los Angeles in the mid-20th century. Mosley writes in many genres, and he does it so well that the National Book Foundation gave him its 2020 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American ...

In Amelia Pang’s new nonfiction book, “Made in China: A Prisoner, An SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America’s Cheap Goods,” Oregon mother Julie Keith opens a package of discounted Halloween decorations to find an SOS letter written by a Chinese political prisoner. From this letter, Keith learns that her purchase was assembled and packaged by a man named Sun Yi, imprisoned for campaigning ...

"The Unwilling" by John Hart; St. Martin’s (384 pages, $27.99) ——— Engrossing — and effective — historical mysteries don’t have to take place during eras hundreds of years ago. Often, the most gripping historicals take place during our immediate past as John Hart demonstrates in “The Unwilling,” set in 1972 during the height of The Vietnam War. Hart’s seventh novel delivers an intense story ...

In this special Valentine's Day edition of Paperback Picks: a multitude of novels about love, in all its beautiful variety. Some of these are favorites of mine; some are books I've been meaning to get to; all should provide some pleasantly heart-shaped distraction. "Call Me By Your Name" by André Aciman. Transformed into a passionately beautiful movie a few years ago, Aciman's 2007 novel takes ...

After being crowned Miss World 2000, Priyanka Chopra Jonas began receiving offers for prominent roles in Bollywood in her native India. But in the eyes of some industry leaders, the pageant winner's looks still weren't enough. In "Unfinished," her new memoir released Tuesday, the actress, singer and producer recalls that — shortly after winning the international beauty pageant — a ...

LOS ANGELES — Shelly Fredman, a third grade teacher at New Roads School in Santa Monica, spent a good chunk of Inauguration Day in tears. From her home in View Park-Windsor Hills, she watched National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman take the stage at the Capitol. And as the 22-year-old stood before a sea of state flags and the Washington Monument and read "The Hill We Climb," Fredman ...

"Bloodline" by Jess Lourey; Thomas & Mercer (352 pages, $15.95) ——— Jess Lourey channels bits of “The Stepford Wives” and “Rosemary’s Baby” — without the supernatural elements — for a tightly coiled domestic thriller that slowly but persuasively builds the suspense. Secrets abound around every corner as pregnant journalist Joan Harken soon discovers when her fiancé Deck Schmidt convinces her ...

When Cambridge-trained physician and author Seema Yasmin started investigating outbreaks for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she noticed a troubling pattern: Children were falling severely ill or dying from vaccine-preventable diseases, including measles and whooping cough. Just as troubling was how these outbreaks were fueled by the "concurrent spread of spread of myths and ...

When her book "The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World" came out in April 2019, Melinda Gates could not have imagined how important the ideas in it would become in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. The pandemic cast systemic inequities facing women and people of color into newly sharp relief, as parents struggled to manage both full-time child care and full-time work, and ...

The days are getting longer, right? That means more time for reading, at least by my definition. Here are a half-dozen recommended paperback, if your bedside table is currently bare. "The Only Good Indians" by Stephen Graham Jones (Gallery / Saga Press, $16.99, out Jan. 26). Jones, whose work runs the gamut of horror, science fiction, crime fiction and experimental novels, here crafts "a ...

“Prisoners of History: What Monuments to World II Tell us About our History and Ourselves” by Keith Lowe; William Collins (302 pages, $29.99) ––– A pedestal is a risky place to take a stand. In America, official tributes to leaders from Robert E. Lee to Abraham Lincoln have been destroyed or defaced. In Europe, memorials to Communist dictators have been torn down. In the Middle East, even ...

For a whole lot of reasons, it might feel right this month to focus on books that take us somewhere else — to another time and place far from here. So "The House on Vesper Sands," by Irish author Paraic O'Donnell, seemed to be dropped in my lap as a gift from the crime-fiction gods. It takes place in 1893 London, on a series of wintry nights made otherworldly, a character notices, by snow. "He ...

“Black Firsts: 500 Years of Trailblazing Achievements and Ground-Breaking Events” by Jessie Carney Smith; Visible Ink Press (704 pages; $29.95) ––– It’s painful being a pioneer. “Black Firsts: 500 Years of Trailblazing Achievements and Ground-Breaking Events” is a proud celebration of Black success. But its thousands of entries – groundbreakers in every field – often come with nagging ...

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"Before the Coffee Gets Cold" by Toshikazu Kawaguchi, translated from the Japanese by Geoffrey Trousselot; Hanover Square Press (272 pages, $19.99) ——— What a strange little book this is! Quirky and charming. A bestseller in Japan, "Before the Coffee Gets Cold" is set in a coffee shop in an out-of-the-way alley in Tokyo, a tiny ancient place with just three tables and nine chairs. But one of ...

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"Why Fish Don't Exist" by Lulu Miller; Simon & Schuster (240 pages, $26) ——— National Public Radio contributor Lulu Miller charts her rebound from a breakup in a book that is part biography, part murder mystery, part an attempt to figure out what's happening in her own heart. The biography is of taxonomist David Starr Jordan, a hero of hers who inspires the book's title (the argument is that ...

Every time I set out to visit a country in the NATO alliance when I was Supreme Allied Commander, I’d try to read a book that could help me understand the history, culture and zeitgeist of the place. It could be a novel by a native writer, a history or a work of historical fiction. Can you really understand France without reading Camus and Sartre? To comprehend Russia, including the mindset of ...

"Murder in Old Bombay" by Nev March; Minotaur (400 pages, $26.99) ——— The ongoing St. Martin’s Minotaur/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition has launched the careers of several solid mystery writers. Author Nev March continues this history of excellence with her absorbing debut “Murder in Old Bombay.” Set in 1892, “Murder in Old Bombay” delivers a gripping look at India’s ...

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