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Julius Blüthner, a German piano maker in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, was a legend in his time. He would take the train from Leipzig to the mountains of Romania to personally choose the spruce trees which would become, after a process involving many steps and many years, a piano. One of the Blüthner factory’s rare instruments, which would “open up and gather into itself a unique history,” is a main character in Chris Cander’s latest novel, The Weight of a Piano.

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The Swick and the Dead is book two in Maggie Foster’s clever and imaginative Loch Lonach Mysteries series, and the odd word in the title, “swick,” has a double meaning. In recent slang, swick mashes together “sweet” and “sick” to refer to something “cool” or “excellent” or “pleasant.” In old Scottish, however, swik (and similar spellings) referred to something much darker: deceit or a deceiver.

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This is fun, fierce, feminist YA fiction that educates, inspires, exhorts, incenses, and comforts.

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Bennett Donovan’s first book, Devil’s Sinkhole, is an intelligent, entertaining short novel with two key settings, Austin’s famed hipster-slacker scene and, 170 miles to the southwest, the Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area near Rocksprings, Texas.

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Edinburg, Texas, writer Sylvia Sánchez Garza’s Cascarones is an entertaining, informative short novel best classified as a bildungsroman, a coming-of-age story focused mostly on one character’s formative years.

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If you’ve read any of Sonja Klein’s three previous books (Honk If You Married Sonja, Roundtrip from Texas, and Ambushed by America), you already know to expect the unexpected from her well-written and often hilarious or poignant personal essays.

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