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Wednesday, August 25,2010

Paging blues fans

New book captures music legends during two Ann Arbor festivals

by Bill Castanier
With an erudite and knowledgeable essay by music historian and archivist Michael Erlewine wrapped around stunning, never-before-seen black-and-white photographs by Stanley Livingston of virtually every major blues performer, the book is a one-of-kind tribute to a bygone era.
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Wednesday, August 11,2010

A 'Blessing' in disguise

Surviving a tough year inspired Katrina Kittle to think about animals

by Bill Castanier
Those experiences all come together in Kittle’s new book, “The Blessing of the Animals,” which explores loss, divorce and the institution of marriage. Kittle says she is a favorite of book clubs; one reason for that is she raises a lot of questions about social issues in her books.
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Wednesday, August 4,2010

Must be the season of the 'Witch'

Kelley Armstong casts a supernatural spell in a new mystery featuring a detective witch

by Bill Castanier
“Growing up, horror was something for guys,” she said. “I read Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, Stephen King.’’
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Wednesday, July 28,2010

North to Kalkaska

Bryan Gruley returns to his Michigan roots in ’The Hanging Tree’

by Bill Castanier
Gruley’s second book, “The Hanging Tree,” is a masterpiece of detective fiction, with the right amount of blind alleys that leave the outcome always in doubt. The author, who is the Chicago bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, has topped his first book while capturing the essence of a hockey-crazy Michigan small town.
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Wednesday, July 21,2010

A moo-ving tale

Former Lansing author works unusual twists into ’The Drifts’

by Bill Castanier
Some of the plotlines may be over the top, but Vernon uses them to convey the central themes of stereotyping, outsiders and survival. The book, set in rural Arkansas during a blizzard, finds the characters not only confronting their demons, but also committing acts of violence.
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Wednesday, July 14,2010

American history on the rocks

’Last Call’ reveals facts and myths about Prohibition

by Bill Castanier
It’s easy to picture author Daniel Okrent at a large oak table, huddled over diaries, letters and old books and taking notes with a No. 2 pencil. After all, he spent five years researching his most recent book, “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.
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Wednesday, July 7,2010

Controversial or a classic?

’To Kill a Mockingbird’ still inspires debate

by Bill Castanier
Fifty years after its publication, "Mockingbird" is still the subject of intense debate. Lee, who never published another novel, has not said a word about the novel’s meaning or offered any insight into the ambiguities of race and equal justice laid out in the story.
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Wednesday, June 30,2010

Season’s readings

Spend the summer with Michigan authors

by Bill Castanier
And as you linger over a cold glass filled with amber liquid, read “Last Call,” the history of Prohibition in this country. The author, Dan Okrent, is a University of Michigan grad and has assembled an interesting history of one of America’s most famous failed attempts at controlling society’s evils.
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Wednesday, June 23,2010

’Twilight’s’ last gleaming?

Vampires still claim many young readers, but ’Games’ are gaining

by Bill Castanier
Is our lust for everything vampire sated, waiting for the spike, as popular media have suggested? Or is it just sleeping, ready to reawaken with a new passion when “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” the latest film based on reigning queen of vampire fiction Stephenie Meyer’s novels, is released June 30?.
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Wednesday, June 16,2010

Educating Uganda

Author chronicles building schools in his homeland

by Bill Castanier
Twesigye Jackson Kaguri’s book was already brewing about the same time Craig Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Tea” went to the top of The New York Times Best Sellers list; with a little luck, panache and old-fashioned pluck, the Okemos author may also climb to the top of that list.
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