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Short Takes 

The Winter Rose
Jennifer Donnelly
Hyperion, 2008, $24.95
Cleavage, magenta silk, and an ivory rose. Tivoli author Donnelly’s addictive page-turner is a dream read for lovers of epic romance. Idealistic physician India Selwyn-Jones falls for a hardscrabble gangster with unforeseen depths in a story that sweeps from gritty Victorian London across several oceans. Appearing at the Millbrook Book Festival 5/17.

Planet Shanghai
photos by Justin Guariglia, foreword by John Krich
Chronicle Books, 2008, $24.95
National Geographic photographer Guariglia offers an idiosyncratic portrait of a city in frantic transition, detailing neon-lit skyscrapers, rubble and ruins, and all manner of foodstuffs. The “Style” section celebrates the Chinese penchant for perforated loafers, sandals worn with socks, and pajamas as streetwear. Appearing at the Millbrook Festival 5/17.

What’s So Funny?
Donald E. Westlake
Grand Central Publishing, 2008, $7.99
Eternally ill-fated thief John Dortmunder hits lucky 13 in this hilariously twisted caper. When he’s blackmailed into an impossible heist—lifting a bejewelled czarist chess set from an maximum-security underground bank vault—there’s nowhere to go but off the deep end. Columbia County grandmaster Westlake is at the top of his game, as usual.

Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an Uphill World)
Mitchell Lewis Ditkoff
Morgan James Publishing, 2008, $23.95
The “idea guru” behind Idea Champions, Face the Music, and the Breakthrough Café teaches anyone with entrepreneurial or creative dreams how to get behind the wheel (which, Ditkoff says, was actualized nearly 30,000 years ago by a Neanderthal do-it-yourselfer, possibly one like his spokescaveman Og).

Panini Express:
70 Delicious Recipes Hot Off the Press
Daniel Leader and Lauren Chattman
The Taunton Press, 2008, $18.95
You’ve sprung for that Williams-Sonoma panini press. What can you make besides grilled cheese with ridges? Bread Alone’s Leader and Chattman marry artisan breads with mouthwatering fillings to create stellar sandwiches like Tuscan Chicken with Artichokes and White Beans, Caesar Shrimp and Arugula, and the Catskills

Benchclearing: Baseball’s Greatest Fights and Riots
Spike Vrusho
The Lyons Press, March 2008, $16.95
A donnybrook runs through it. Rhinebeck resident Spike Vrusho (who sounds as if he could scrap with the best of them) chronicles the greatest rhubarbs in baseball history—Marichal vs. Roseboro, Rose vs. Harrelson—as well as fan riots and clubhouse slugfests. Naturally, Billy Martin has a chapter all to himself.
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