A Cineaste’s Bookshelf

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REVIEW: Dear Miss Kopp

In the sixth installment of the Kopp Sister chronicles, we see the adventures of the Kopps at war recounted via a series of letters written to one another.
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Best Reads of 2020

I read a lot. All the time, really. A few years ago I finally learned to allow myself to stop reading books that I wasn't enjoying and move on to another title. The end of the year is an arbitrary marker but it's as good a time as any to look back and review the pages I've read. Here are eight books I enjoyed reading this year.
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Books for November

I've been borrowing lots of library books lately. There are tons of titles from new writers and a library card is the best way to test them out. If you don't have a library card, why not? It's free and easy. Plus, librarians love it and circulation numbers help them stay open! Add these to your list for your next trip to the library.
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REVIEW: Murder Maps - Crime Scenes Revisited

In addition to being an excellent reference, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of criminal investigation. It is beautifully designed and a joy to thumb through. Chock-full of tidbits and ephemera, it offers a new way to view old cases. 
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REVIEW: A Nervous Man Shouldn't Be Here in the First Place

Don't feel bad if you have never heard of Bill Baggs. He wouldn't have minded. In this biography, Condon's presentation of this little-known character is approachable, despite the deep dive she did into his complicated life.
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REVIEW: The Thursday Murder Club

Richard Osman's debut novel is a polite, heartfelt version of a crime story involving a retirement home and a handful of murders. At times laugh-out-loud funny, it's a cracking good yarn with memorable characters.
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REVIEW: Piranesi

Piranesi opens with strange and unintelligible descriptions of archways, empty chambers, marble statues and unending stairways. Slowly, clues to the narrator's labyrinthian world take form.
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REVIEW: The Vapors

Mostly a history, with a dash of memoir thrown in, David Hill recounts the history of the gambling and corruption that built Hot Springs through the lens of his grandmother and father's lives.
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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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