A Cineaste’s Bookshelf

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Books for August

My reading list for August includes a new mystery in 1920s India, a popular psychology book, a real Victorian diary, a look at the mob in Arkansas and a classic Japanese murder mystery.
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REVIEW: The Lady from the Black Lagoon

As Mallory O'Meara uncovers in her book, there are worlds of fascinating stories behind the Black Lagoon costume. It was designed by Milicent Patrick, and following a triumphant publicity tour with her creation, she disappeared from the film world.
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REVIEW: The Dead Mountaineer's Inn

This is a difficult book to describe. There's an avalanche, a slobbery dog, maybe a ghost, maybe an alien, maybe a spy, probably some mafia, and definitely a world weary cop. Also, it's really funny and a good mystery.
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Favorite First Lines

I play this game when I'm reading a book - I try to guess what the first paragraph the author wrote is. As a writer myself, I presume what becomes the opening line isn't how the first draft began, but I always wonder where the original kernel is buried. These are some of my favorite (published) first sentences of books.
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REVIEW: The Snow Collectors

Somewhere in the frozen North, it doesn't matter where, really, Henna is trying to forget that her parents and twin sister disappeared in a boating accident. Where she lives, it's always cold and always snowing. She writes encyclopedia entries and takes long snowshoe walks with her dog, Rembrandt.
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Books for May

It seems like a quarantine would be the perfect time to read, and read lots. It's counterintuitive but I think I'm reading less, and certainly not more now. Working from home, household responsibilities, stress, worry, and insomnia make it hard to concentrate on a book for me. Still, I'm doing my best to look forward to new releases and upcoming titles. 
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REVIEW: Boston Massacre - A Family History

Historian and professor Serena Zabin approaches the American Revolution tipping point through the lens of societal and personal relationships. The story of the incident we learn in school is presented as black and white, but the circumstances behind it were much more complicated.
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REVIEW: Beheld

Prejudice and hatred are simmering beneath the rock strewn and inhospitable Promised Land. The characters, flung into the wilds of a New World, are on the knife's edge between survival and destruction.
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REVIEW: The Lost Future of Pepperharrow

As with her previous books, Pulley develops slightly steampunk-y science that is delightful. She invents interesting physics that seem like they just might work. At the same time she tells a great story with danger, adventure, kindness, mystery, and oddness. 
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REVIEW: American Sherlock

With Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle prefigured some forensic techniques that wouldn't be used for decades. E. O. Heinrich did it in real life. He pioneered a nonexistent field of criminology through innovation, imagination and dogged methodologies.
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Five Star Predictions

Over time, book reviewers (and dedicated readers) get better and better at guessing whether or not they will like a book. Descriptions, genres, author history, even cover art all play a factor in deciding if one should devote several hours to a book.
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An Unexpected Death by Mikita Brottman

One of the Belvedere's residents is going through her normal daily routine when she notices a "missing" poster outside of her building. Unlike most of us, she becomes intrigued by the disappearance. Then, when his body is found on the roof of her hotel, she becomes obsessed.
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Happy birthday, Sherlock

January 6 has come to be known as Sherlock Holmes's birthday. Considering Holmes's line of work, the "Epiphany" is as fitting a day as any other.
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Top Ten Tuesday: Season's Readings

Some books just beg to be read by the fire or with a snow-filled window nearby. Here are a few of my favorite winter reads.
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Havana at 500

2019 marks the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana, Cuba. Here are three books to read in honor of the quincentennial.
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