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Biographies reveal complex lives of famous female authors


Generations of young women have grown up treasuring the adventures of Anne Shirley of Green Gables on remote Prince Edward Island and of the lively March sisters of Concord, Mass.

Since the authors of these classics grew up in similar settings and circumstances to those depicted in their novels, we might assume that they lived a version of the kind of idealized lives they wrote about. Instead, biographies of both authors reveal the compelling details of the lives of two very complex women.

As her title suggests, in “Looking for Anne of Green Gables,” Irene Gammel deliberately teases out the strands of the fictional Anne from the life of her creator, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and the influences that shaped her prolific output of novels featuring girls in small worlds who harbor big dreams.

Awkward start leads to compelling story in ‘Neverhome’


“Neverhome” by Laird Hunt, c.2014, Little, Brown & Company $26, 256 pages

Why do we love dogs?

“Travels with Casey” by Benoit Denizet-Lewis, c.2014, Simon & Schuster, $26, 341 pages

More Bradbury books to enjoy


“Beware the autumn people.”

This year, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside is hosting The Big Read of “Fahrenheit 451,” one of Ray Bradbury’s most well-known novels. Bradbury was a prolific writer, however, so if you enjoyed “Fahrenheit 451,” here are some more Bradbury books to enjoy.

Gripping tale of ‘Flight 93’

“Flight 93: The Story, The Aftermath, and the Legacy of American Courage on 9/11” by Tom McMillan, foreword by Gov. Tom Ridge, c.2014, Lyons Press, $25.95, 288 pages

Large-print classics are easy on the eyes


Finding reading those little letters a bit of an eye strain? Recently, I have begun to explore the easier-on-the-eyes large-print collection of the Kenosha Public Library. This collection is well stocked with best selling authors and new titles in both fiction and nonfiction. I was looking for more.

I delved deeper into the collection and found Jane Austen well represented with six titles. Set in 1800s England, “Emma” is my pick. As Emma makes marriage matches for her friends, she comes to understand her own heart. Austen’s novel of social commentary is as fresh and delightful now as when it was first written. The fact that it has never gone out of print attests to its timelessness.

Cosby bio takes us back to childhood


“Cosby: His Life and Times” by Mark Whitaker, c.2014, Simon & Schuster, $29.99, 544 pages

Book review: Miss America writes a fun tell-all book

-- “Being Miss America : Behind the Rhinestone Curtain” by Kate Shindle, c.2014, University of Texas Press, 236 pages

In the memoir “Being Miss America” by Kate Shindle, you’ll peek behind the brocade curtains to learn more about the long-running pageant.

Off the Shelves: ‘Forgotten war’ gets attention in these books


For years, the War of 1812 was viewed by many as a “forgotten conflict.”

Coming as it did between the American Revolution and the Civil War, it seemed to get lost in the mists of time. With the celebration of the war’s bicentennial two years ago, there has been renewed interest in the conflict — and a bevy of new books about this war.

Fiction writer Iain M. Banks was a great author

Last year, the world of science fiction lost a great author in Iain Banks. Since his literary debut in 1984, Banks had written dozens of fiction books (as Iain Banks) and science fiction books (as Iain M. Banks), crafting characters and worlds that felt lived-in and layered, rather than simply imagined for your benefit as a reader. Profiled below are books that fit into the subgenres of horror, urban fantasy, and space opera, respectively.

— “Wasp Factory” (1984). Banks’ debut novel is undeniably creepy — this is not a “before bed” read or even an “in the house alone” read. The novel’s protagonist, Frank, is a 16-year-old who has defined a series of talismans and rituals, including killing, that allow him to protect the island where he lives and predict the future. The novel is told from Frank’s point of view, and Banks skillfully avoids making a terrifyingly vicious protagonist into a monster. If you enjoyed the first season of HBO’s “True Detective” but didn’t get enough of the creepy Carcosa cult, this book is right up your alley.

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