Monthly Archives: November 2013

CBR’s 2013 Holiday Reading Guide

CBR_Logo2Here at Chicago Book Review, we hope to help readers find interesting new titles that otherwise might go unexplored. By reviewing titles from local publishers and local authors, as well as those books that have some other Chicago-area angle, we hope to bring to light new books and new authors that readers can discover. Over the past few months, we’ve reviewed a number of great titles—any one (or two or three) of which would make great additions to holiday wish lists. And so we are pleased to provide this 2013 holiday reading list. You can find reviews of each of these books on the site.

While perusing this list, look to your left and check out the links to local publishers and local bookstores. We hope you think local when shopping for your favorite books.

Shop Local. Read Local.

General Fiction

  • Vintage Attraction by Charles Blackstone (Pegasus Books)
  • Recalled to Life by Dan Burns (Eckhartz Press)
  • Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan (Sourcebooks)
  • The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley (Sourcebooks)
  • Long Division by Kiese Laymon (Agate Publishing)
  • The One-Way Bridge by Cathie Pelletier (Sourcebooks)
  • Murder_at__Rosamund¹s_Gate_revised_2The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow (Sourcebooks)


  • Bright and Yellow, Hard and Cold by Tim Chapman (Allium Press)
  • A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate by Susanna Calkins (Minotaur Books)
  • Havana Lost by Libby Fischer Hellmann (The Red Herrings Press)
  • Buried Truth by Gunter Kaesdorf (Cambridge Books)


  • Highly Recommended by Paul Rand (McGraw-Hill)


  • The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie by Paula Haney (Agate Publishing)


  • Bela Tarr, The Time After by Jacques Rancière (Univocal Publishing)


  • Power Vegan by Rea Frey (Agate Publishing)

9781613744574 hi res cover imageHistory

  • City Water, City Life by Carl Smith (University of Chicago Press)
  • Code Name Pauline by Pearl Witherington Cornioley (Chicago Review Press)
  • Home Front Girl by Joan Wehlen Morrison (Chicago Review Press)
  • Swastika Nation by Arnie Bernstein (St. Martin’s Press)

Local Interest

  • Chicago Skyscrapers by Thomas Leslie (University of Illinois Press)
  • WSC_cvr_webresGold Coast Madam by Rose Laws (Lake Claremont Press)
  • Hollywood on Lake Michigan by Michael Corcoran and Arnie Bernstein (Chicago Review Press)
  • The Supper Club Book by Dave Hoekstra (Chicago Review Press)
  • Wisconsin Supper Clubs by Ron Faiola (Agate Publishing)


  • You Were Never in Chicago by Neil Steinberg (University of Chicago Press)
  • Zen Under Fire by Marianne Elliott (Sourcebooks)



  • Chicago Flashbulbs by Cory Franklin, MD (Academy Chicago)
  • County by David Ansell, MD (Academy Chicago Publishers)
  • Every Day is Election Day by Rebecca Sive (Chicago Review Press)
  • First Son by Keith Koeneman (University of Chicago Press)
  • C_Koeneman_FirstSon_9780226449470_jkt_MBGolden by Jeff Coen and John Chase (Chicago Review Press)


  • Troubled Minds by Amy Simpson (InterVarsity Press)
  • Undone by Laura Sumner Truax (InterVarsity Press)

Science & Nature

  • The Art of Migration by Peggy Macnamara (University of Chicago Press)
  • Art of MigrationThe Longevity Seekers by Ted Anton (University of Chicago Press)


  • Portraits from the Park by Thomas Harney (Columbia College Chicago Press)
  • Ramblers by Michael Lenehan (Agate Publishing)
  • HarneyWrigley Field: The Centennial by Les Krantz (Triumph Books)


  • Expressionista by Jackie Walker and Pamela Dittmer McKuen (Simon & Schuster)

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Calling All Reading Locovores

CBR_Logo2This coming Sunday is shaping up to be an exciting day for readers, writers, and literary types of every ilk across city and suburbs, thanks to the efforts of the organizers and everyone else behind Chicago Book Expo 2013.

Scheduled for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, November 24, at St. Augustine College, 1345 W. Argyle, Chicago, the free event boasts myriad book-related events sure to whet the literary appetites of just about everyone. Attendees will find more than ninety exhibitors (including Chicago Book Review!), forty speakers, and two dozen sessions at which they can learn from, chat with, and discover authors, publishers, and various literary and publishing organizations. Highlights include Uptown-area author Aleksandar Hemon, Bookslut founder and editor-in-chief Jenna Crispin, and Chicago Writers Association president Randy Richardson.

Chicago Book Expo 2013 Logo“This is broader than most other events that exist—which all do a great job for what they’re doing,” says co-organizer Lynn Haller, a freelance editor and writer. “It brings everybody together.”

And by “everybody,” Haller really means just that. More than a conference for writers or a workshop for editors or a bookfair for readers, Chicago Book Expo is a pop-up bookstore and literary fair focused on highlighting Chicago’s publishers, large and small. Exhibitors include Agate Publishing, Allium Press, Curbside Splendor, Fifth Star Press, Northwestern University Press, and University of Chicago Press. Scheduled authors include Dennis Byrne, Mary Driver-Thiel, Dmitry Samarov, and Mark Zubro. Representatives from various associations also will be on hand, including Chicago Women in Publishing, Chicago Writers Association, Independent Writers of Chicago, Midwest Publishing Association, and Society of Midland Authors.

“This is the ultimate event for the book locovore,” Haller says.

First held in 2011, Chicago Book Expo that year was attended by 1,200 people—a lot of book locovores. Originally launched as a project of Chicago Writers House, the event was founded by John Rich. That year, forty publishers participated, and NewCity named it the “best new literary event” in Chicago. Chicago Writers House is no longer officially associated with the event, which Haller and co-organizer John K. Wilson, a political writer, have been planning for months.

“We’re sort of in the belly of the beast right now in terms of getting this finished,” Haller says as the event date approaches ever faster. “I think it’s really exciting. It’s just really exciting to see how it’s taken off and to see how excited people are about it.”

There’s certainly plenty to be excited about. The 2013 Chicago Book Expo boasts a number of new features, including six tracks of programs; bilingual programming; related nonfiction programming focused on Chicago history, politics, and culture; publishing and writing programs; and an expanded venue to highlight the area’s self-published authors. In addition, the Expo provides readers, writers, and publishers alike an opportunity to chat with one another and to discover some of the great books coming out of Chicago.

“There’s a void in the whole Chicago publishing scene for an event like this,” Haller says. “There really isn’t this kind of opportunity for small presses to exhibit. This fills that void.”

Book Expo 2013 poster (small version)Not only will Chicago Book Expo help fill a void, it also serves as a way for readers, writers, and publishing types to see what all is going on in a city rife with disparate literary events—so many literary events, in fact, that it can be a challenge to keep track of them all.

“One of the things that’s really interesting,” Haller says, “is that we realized as we started organizing this that there is so much going on [in Chicago] that it’s really hard to know about all of it. This is an endeavor to make all of these people aware of each other.”

Fostering relationships between writers and editors and between readers and authors is one of the key goals of Chicago Book Expo—that and providing a venue for readers to buy books from local authors right at the start of the holiday shopping season. And maybe meet and chat with some local authors. And attend a few sessions. And learn about local publishing. And hobnob with literary types at the event’s after-party at Fat Cat, 4840 N. Broadway.

“No matter what happens,” Haller muses, “we’re going to bring together a lot of interesting people.”

—Kelli Christiansen

Learn more about Chicago Book Expo.

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As Easy As Pie

CBR_Logo2The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie:
Recipes, Techniques, and Wisdom from the Hoosier Mama Pie Company
by Paula Haney, with Allison Scott

Those who open the Hoosier Mama Book of Pie expecting only a pie cookbook are in for a pleasant surprise. Although it definitely delivers in the cookbook category, it begins with a look at the history of the pie company itself, from its farmer’s market days to its present incarnation, a tiny, bustling bakery in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village. It’s hard not to be charmed by the story of this company and its founder, Paula Haney, who worried for months “if a bakery devoted to one just one product could cover the rent.” Four years and more than 100,000 pies later, it’s clear her fears were unfounded.

HMP_coverAs far as instruction goes, there’s definitely something for everyone; for pie novices, there are detailed introductions to different ingredients and the roles they play, as well as step-by-step instructions for producing different kinds of doughs and fillings. While certain sections could benefit from more photographs, the photos that are included are beautiful and provide a good idea of what the finished product should look like, which is key for beginners.

For the seasoned baker, there are a wealth of sweet and savory pie recipes to choose from, as well as chapters on quiches, hand pies, and turnovers. They range from classic pies with traditional ingredients to pies that are, at first glance, downright intimidating.  But even the more complex recipes, given a thorough reading, do offer tutorials and instructions that make them accessible for bakers of any level. Although making a twenty-eight-ingredient chicken pot pie may not be for everyone, if you’re up to the challenge, this book will walk you through it. If you aspire to make dishes completely from scratch, there’s a healthy section of “Subrecipes” that guide you through the making of sweet and savory ingredients.

Hoosier Mama Pie Company, Chicago, 121912

Author and Pie Guru Paula Haney

Several touches elevate the Hoosier Mama Book of Pie from typical cookbook to something more special. Locavores will appreciate that the fruit pie recipes are grouped by season, because Hoosier Mama bakes them according to what’s seasonally available from local vendors. Busy bakers will appreciate that every recipe gives detailed information about how far in advance the pie can be made and how long it can be stored, baked or unbaked, in the refrigerator or freezer. Also included is an extensive list of resources, for everything from how to find a quality butcher to how to choose quality pie-making equipment.

The book is exhaustive, but not overwhelmingly so. It’s hard to imagine needing any other cookbook in one’s collection for the purpose of making pie. The only obvious omission is scaling information; with the exception of the turnover and hand pie recipes, the majority are for producing full-sized pies. Experienced bakers can scale back to seven-inch or individual-sized pies without a problem, but others would benefit from basic scaling guidelines, should they not need or want to produce standard-sized pies.

During the past several years, there has been quite a bit of talk about pie as the “new cupcake,” or the latest food trend. Author Paula Haney makes a convincing argument that pie is “too elemental to be trendy” and that although many of us have a deep fondness for pie, what we often lack is the confidence to make our own, a skill that used to be taken for granted.

If any message comes through loud and clear in this delightful pie primer, it is this: Although pie-making can be difficult, “the good news is that just a little effort can make a great pie maker out of anyone who appreciates great pie.”

Four-Star Review

August 2013, Agate Midway
$29.95, hardcover, 384 pages
ISBN: 978-1-5728-4143-7

—Reviewed by Julie M. Hentz

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