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The Mathematician's Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer

The mathematician in the debut novel Mathematician’s Shiva is Rachela Karnokovitch, a fictional professor at the University of Wisconsin who was a Polish-born Soviet defector and formidable woman of intellect. This is an enjoyable book for those who like to read humorous and heartwarming stories with a Wisconsin connection. The story is told by her son Sasha as he looks back on the time in January 2001 when she died, and the family observed shiva, the Jewish custom of 7 days of mourning.

One last beach read for the summer

Summer is winding down and beach season is almost over. In a feeble attempt to hold on to those last days of summer I grabbed On the Rocks by Erin Duffy off of the new fiction shelves. The cover picture displays what looks like a tranquil afternoon spent on the beach, but this book was anything but tranquil. On the Rocks is a well written and highly amusing look at one woman's attempt to put her life back together after a very public breakup - via Facebook.

Don’t read this book while drinking a diet soda

Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark is a satirical debut novel about the food additives industry. In 1973 David is a young flavor chemist or flavorist hired by a big company to research an artificial sweetener called Sweetness #9. He notices that the lab rats and monkeys being fed Sweetness #9 are becoming obese and showing behavioral problems. Before he gets very far with his concerns, he is fired.

The Stories We Tell by Patti Callahan Henry

Being a true Southerner means keeping up appearances at all costs. As a result, many Southern couples put on pretenses and sometimes lead double lives. In The Stories We Tell by Patti Callahan Henry, Eve and Cooper Morrison are that golden couple, seemingly leading the ideal life as the cream of Savannah society. But, things are not always as they seem. This powerful novel about the value of truth focuses on the Morrison family and the one night that changed the dynamics of their family forever.

The Objects of Her Affection by Sonya Cobb

Here’s a debut novel for people who liked The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and the TV series Breaking Bad. As in The Goldfinch, The Objects of Her Affection is set in the world of art and priceless antiques, and as in Breaking Bad, the main character turns to illegal activity to get money for her family. The story starts in 2005 and ends in 2007. Main character Sophie is married to Brian, a curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs

The family saga first introduced in The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs continues in The Beekeeper's Ball, the second installment of the Bella Vista Chronicles. Former celebrated chef Isabel Johansen is opening a destination cooking school focusing on local produce and products at Bella Vista, her family estate in the sleepy Sonoma town of Archangel. Isabel is a reserved, organized woman and seems so together, but when renowned journalist Cormac "Mac" O'Neill arrives on the scene he certainly shakes things up.

J. K. Rowling writes great mysteries too

Last year Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith was published and received great reviews. Then it was revealed the Galbraith was really J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. Rowling has shown that she can write mysteries as well as fantasy with the Cormoran Strike series under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The next book in the series after Cuckoo’s Calling is Silkworm and was recently published. This is a traditional hard-boiled procedural mystery. London P.I.

Classic Poetry for….Dogs?

In the mood for some lighthearted poetry loaded with canine silliness? Classic Poetry for Dogs: Why Do I Chase Thee by Jessica Swaim will have you howling with laughter. This hilarious little book is a spoof on well-known poems from the point of view of canine authors like Elizabeth Basset Browning, William Shakespaw, Rover Frost, Edgar Allen Pug, and others. Some poems are a little bit naughty, but I suppose even sophisticated dogs enjoy down-to-earth humor.

A book for book lovers

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is a touching story about people who love books and about the people they love. A.J. is a middle-aged widower who owns Island Books on Alice Island, MA. He is quirky and prickly and still grieving for his wife Nic who died in a car accident. Things are not going well for A.J. His meeting with Amelia Loman, the new representative for Knightly Press, ends badly with A.J. ranting about the current state of publishing.

Power Play by Danielle Steel

The life of business and power is not all it seems and Danielle Steel's latest novel gives an excellent example of the good and bad. Power Play runs two stories at the same time about powerful CEO's and the way they conduct their lives - one involving a hardworking devoted mother who sacrifices any type of personal life for her success, and the other a philandering, scheming man with no conscience who always seems to land on top. The way the two stories come together is excellently written.

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