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"The New Me" by Halle Butler; Penguin (208 pages, $16) ___ "Jillian" author Halle Butler, a Granta best young American novelist, offers a darkly comic view of contemporary life in the highly readable "The New Me," about a Chicago temp with a good education and a bad attitude. Millie has two successful, indulgent parents and no student loans. Yet she is "flailing, filled with puke, thinking ...

"Cari Mora" by Thomas Harris; Grand Central (320 pages, $29) ___ My skin was crawling by page 7. It's been 13 years since Thomas Harris last published a novel, but in "Cari Mora" the creator of Hannibal Lecter shows us he still knows how to send ice down our spines. Four of the five previous novels by Harris, a former journalist, feature Lecter, the fiendishly brilliant serial killer and ...

"Biloxi" by Mary Miller; Liveright (255 pages, $24.95) ___ Here's my advice: Don't think too much about this book - just enjoy it. "Biloxi," the third novel by Mary Miller, is an entertaining, endearing story about a late-middle-aged, morose divorced guy who accidentally acquires a dog. The dog changes his life (as dogs do). For good? For bad? For more complicated? For all those things. The ...

"The Queen" by Josh Levin; Little, Brown (417 pages, $29) ___ Sometimes a sentence makes you fall in love with a book. "The Queen" is Josh Levin's nonfiction portrait of grifter Linda Taylor, a little remembered Chicagoan who loomed large in 1970s and '80s discussions of welfare fraud. Early in the book Levin gives us this gem about Taylor's Cadillac: "That car was impossible to miss, parked ...

"The Lost Gutenberg" by Margaret Leslie Davis; TarcherPerigree (294 pages, $27) ___ Despite its misleading title, "The Lost Gutenberg" is a fascinating read for anyone who cares about books. The bibliobiography's subject is the Gutenberg Bible known as Number 45, which was published in 1456 and became the world's most expensive book when it was sold in 1987 for $5.4 million. The title could ...

"The Players Ball: A Genius, a Con Man, and the Secret History of the Internet's Rise" by David Kushner; Simon & Schuster (256 pages, $27) ___ The internet has become such a pervasive part of our lives in such a short time that it's already hard to remember its early days. For a vivid history of its Wild West phase, juiced up with a long-running battle royale between two men who made (and ...

"Girl Gone Missing" by Marcie R. Rendon; Cinco Puntos Press (224 pages, $15.95) ___ Renee Blackbear is a regular at the bars and pool halls that line the streets of Fargo-Moorhead as well as the farm towns along the Red River. She chain-smokes and downs beers while hustling pool and avoiding her unchallenging college classes at Moorhead State. For extra cash, she drives a beet truck late at ...

"Lost Without the River" by Barbara Hoffbeck Scoblic; She Writes Press (271 pages, $16.95) ___ I may never be able to sort out whether I enjoyed this memoir because I also grew up on a South Dakota dairy farm, or because author Barbara Hoffbeck Scoblic has captured something universal here. We'll go with the latter, because this is, in truth, a study of family ties and geographic ties that are ...

"Queer Voices: Poetry, Prose, and Pride," edited by Andrea Jenkins, John Medeiros and Lisa Marie Brimmer; Minnesota Historical Society Press (218 pages, $18.95) ___ For 26 years, the monthly Queer Voices reading series has given Minnesota's LGBTQIA+ writers a safe space to experiment. So it's appropriate that this collection from 44 of the series' writers, almost all of whom are as identified ...