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The Week’s Best Book Reviews 2/15/11

[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers. Follow it here.]

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The Oracle of Stamboul, by Michael David Lukas. Reviewed by Tess Taylor (Barnes and Noble Review).

Right off the bat, Taylor describes this novel as “fabulistic” and I knew it was up my alley. I like books that flirt with magic or the supernatural. This book, which sounds to be a picaresque of sorts,  seems to do that well–though not, according to Taylor, without flaw. 19th-century Turkey isn’t a place you see too many books set, so that should lend it a fair degree of uniqueness and charm. Like Taylor says it certainly “seems as likely a place as any for real magic to thrive.”

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Gone, by Mo Hayder. Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan (Washington Post).

How do you go about writing a review of a book you know is hackneyed and all plot, yet also entertaining and appealing (aside from using C4′s handy 3-category scoring system)? Corrigan gives a pretty good example. Sure, the review contains a lot of plot summary, but that’s the meat of what the book has to offer. Still, she does a nice job of identifying what it is about this book that grabbed her and why it will appeal to fans of mystery/thrillers.

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The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady, by Elizabeth Stuckey-French. Reviewed by Jincy Willett (New York Times).

This book sounds delightfully dark. The title hints at sci-fi schlock, but that’s not what Stuckey-French delivers. A 77-year old woman hunts down the doctor whose radioactive treatment killed the woman’s daughter years earlier and “sporting a pseudonym and a Welsh corgi, strolls by the house every day in hopes of catching him alone outside, and one day she does.” But since he has Alzheimer’s the killing is not satisfactory revenge, so she goes after his oddball family. Read the review, this is an intriguing book.

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The Science of Kissing, by Sheril Kirshenbaum. Reviewed by Jessica Gelt (LA Times).

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, so it seems appropriate to include this book. Mostly because it posits that rather than representative of a lofty emotion, kissing is biological:

…despite its exalted status as one of the world’s most passionate activities, the kiss has evolved for a single blind purpose: to get you into bed so you can propagate the species.

Drop that line over a nice candlelit dinner to really turn up the heat.

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Bonus Book Trailer:

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