Queens of Havana

The 1920s and '30s were the heyday of Cuban jazz and son, and Havana's clubs were overflowing. But the music was all made by men, until, during the hard years after a crash in the sugar market, the daughters of a half-Chinese greengrocer began playing around Havana to raise money. Loaded with verve, talent, and plenty of moxie, the Castro sisters named their septet after a native princess who resisted the Spanish, and became Cuba's first all-girl band. After shocking and delighting Havana, they took the world by storm. Now in her 80s, Alicia Castro, the band's saxophonist, recounts the band's adventures, chronicling voyages from Puerto Rico to Paris to Broadway to Rio, and travels among some of her generation's jazz greats. In doing so she uncovers wellsprings of Cuban music, in sugar plantations, African Orichas, Chinese operas, and beyond -- ultimately, a history of Cuba itself. As the jazz years give way to the Fidel years and the more troubled present, the book offers an intimate portrait of an era, told with the charm and flair of a practiced performer, and the loving humor of a beloved aunt. This is a story to savor. -

July 25: On this day in 1834 Samuel Taylor Coleridge died of heart disease at the age of sixty-one.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).