Monthly Archives: December 2013

CBR’s Top 10 Posts of 2013

CBR_Logo2As 2013 comes to an end, we’re looking back at the most popular posts we’ve shared on Chicago Book Review since we launched just six months ago, in June 2013. This Top 10 list makes for an interesting mix of book reviews, features about authors, articles about various facets of Chicago’s publishing industry, and essays and polls about the area’s literary scene.

It’s always surprising to see what hits and wArt of Migrationhat misses, interesting to see what resonates with our readers, what goes viral. We’re glad to see that what we’re doing here is finding a loyal audience. Also interesting is where our readers are from. As might be expected, most are from here in the United States, but we’ve welcomed readers from 135 countries around the world, from Canada and the United Kingdom to India, New Zealand, Australia, Italy … the list goes on and on.

Chicago Review Press logoMaybe that’s because Chicago publishers and authors are putting out so many great titles. No matter the genre, publishers in Chicago, Illinois, and the Midwest are issuing thousands of new books every year, titles that reach local readers and readers from around the world.

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy high res frontSo, take a look at these posts—and some of the others on our site. Revisit your favorites. Explore some you might have missed. If you’re a fan of fiction, take a look at the nonfiction titles we’ve reviewed to see if there might be a title that tempts you to branch out and explore new topics. And, if you usually read nonfiction, check out some of our reviews of novels to see if a little literary escapism might be up your alley. Check out our features. Browse the events listing. Because Chicago’s literary community is brimming with great authors writing great books and working with great publishers.

CBR’s TOP 10 POSTS OF 2013

  1. Chicago Book Review’s Best Books of 2013
  2. Beautiful Birds and Bees 
  3. Local Author Spotlight: Robert Hellenga, ‘Midwestern Author’ (And That’s Just Fine)
  4. As Easy As Pie
  5. No Kidding! Children’s Publishing Thrives in Chicagoland 
  6. CBR’s 2013 Holiday Reading Guide 
  7. Chicago’s Literary Renaissance
  8. Hit the Books! MC900048059
  9. Calling All Reading Locovores
  10. Local Author Spotlight: Karen Doornebos Is Living in Austen 

Thanks much, loyal readers! And all best for a happy 2014 full of great books!

Let us know what you think …



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Chicago Book Review’s Best Books of 2013

CBR_Logo2As 2013 comes to a close, we’re looking back on our first six months of blog existence with gratitude to all the authors, bookstores, publishers, readers, and reviewers who are helping us turn Chicago Book Review into something special—something that goes beyond Top 10 bestsellers to examine the books issued by local authors and publishers. Something that falls somewhere between vapid “I loved it!” reviews and reviews awash in erudition by writers in love with their own words.

Since launching in June 2013, we’ve been lucky enough to work with a number of local authors and publishers to highlight some of the great work coming out of Chicago, out of Illinois, and out of the Midwest. Today we shine a spotlight on some of that work with our first annual (just kidding, grammar geeks!) year-end “Best of” round-up.


Four-Star Review

9781613744574 hi res cover imageThe Hoosier Mama Book of Pie: Recipes, Techniques, and Wisdom from the Hoosier Mama Pie Company by Paula Haney, with Allison Scott

Home Front Girl: A Diary of Love, Literature, and Growing Up in Wartime America by Joan Wehlen Morrison

The Art of Migration: Birds, Insects, and the Changing Seasons in Chicagoland by Peggy Macnamara with John Bates and James H. Boone

Three-Star Review

Large_9781600788345November’s Fury: The Deadly Great Lakes Hurricane of 1913 by Michael Schumacher

100 Things Bears Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by Kent McDill

Wrigley Field: The Centennial by Les Krantz

Power Vegan: Plant-Fueled Nutrition for Maximum Health and Fitness by Rea Frey

Undone: When Coming Apart Puts You Back Together by Laura Sumner Truax

9780897337182_FCZen Under Fire: How I Found Peace in the Midst of War by Marianne Elliott

Chicago Flashbulbs: A Quarter-Century of News, Politics, Sports and Show Business (1987–2012) by Cory Franklin, MD

The Longevity Seekers: Science, Business, and the Fountain of Youth by Ted Anton

County: Life, Death, and Politics at Chicago’s Public Hospital by David A. Ansell, MD, MPH

Chicago Skyscrapers: 1871–1934 by Thomas Leslie, AIA

Golden: How Rod Blagojevich Talked Himself out of the Governor’s Office and Into Prison by Jeff Coen and John Chase

Hollywood on Lake Michigan: 100+ Years of Chicago and the Movies, Second Edition by Michael Corcoran and Arnie Bernstein

9780226020938Expressionista: How to Express Your True Self Through (and Despite) Fashion by Jackie Walker and Pamela Dittmer McKuen

Ramblers: Loyola Chicago 1963—The Team That Changed the Color of College Basketball by Michael Lenehan

You Were Never in Chicago by Neil Steinberg

Gold Coast Madam: The Secret Life of Rose Laws by Rose Laws with Dianna Harris

Portraits from the Park: Comiskey Park Photographs, 1973–1990 by Thomas W. Harney

First Son: The Biography of Richard M. Daley by Keith Koeneman


9781402279454-300CBR’S BEST FICTION OF 2013

Four-Star Review

The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow


Three-Star Review

Vintage Attraction frontJMquoteA Murder at Rosamund’s Gate by Susanna Calkins

Vintage Attraction by Charles Blackstone

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café: A Novel with Recipes by Jenny Colgan

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

The One-Way Bridge by Cathie Pelletier


Here’s wishing a great 2014 to one and all, full of great books from great authors and great publishers. Read local!


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Guest Post: Check It Out!


“What is more important in a library than anything else—than everything else—is the fact that it exists.”
—Archibald MacLeish


Imagine a public library. Do you picture dusty bookshelves and elderly librarians with glasses perched at the end of their nose demanding silence? Then perhaps you have not visited your local public library lately.

Holiday Walk 1

GEPL Holiday Walk 2013

Public libraries have evolved from silent warehouses of old books into vibrant community centers, a place away from home, work or school where anyone can learn and discover new ideas. Libraries provide communities with a host of innovative products and services including fast internet connections, the latest books, music to download, movies to borrow, videogames to play, periodicals to peruse and eBooks to read. Small and large groups can book gatherings inside library meeting spaces and individuals can reserve private study rooms.

Libraries offer a variety of technology classes for individuals of varying ability levels, from learning the basics during Introduction to Computers or building on expertise during Electronic Photo Sharing. There are also high quality entertainment programs and educational classes appealing to all ages. Children can be entertained during StoryTimes and learn about math during a STEAM program. Adults can learn to play guitar, listen to local musicians play during an Open Mic Night or play library-sponsored trivia at a local tavern. Teens can prepare for the ACT by taking a practice test and can explore their creativity during a 3D printing lab.

GEPL Logo #1Public libraries allow for discovery, self-examination and lifelong learning. When you require help retrieving information or learning how to accomplish a new task, remember to call upon the staff at your local library for assistance. Library staff can help you find the next great book to read or movie to watch. Additionally, they can teach you how to download a book to your smartphone or tablet device, attach a document to your emails or locate reputable financial or medical information using an online database. Questions can always be posed in person, by telephone, by live chat or text message.

The next time you are looking for something fun to do visit your local public library and discover how they provide so much more than books.

—Dawn Bussey

Dawn Bussey earned an MLS from Dominican University and a BA in American Studies from Knox College. Formerly with the Schaumburg Township District Library and the River Forest Public Library, she currently serves as director of the Glen Ellyn Public Library.

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