A list of newly released paperbacks.

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“The News from Paraguay” by Lily Tuck (Perennial, $13.95). National Book Award-winning novel about Irish courtesan Ella Lynch, who took up with the son of the president of Paraguay in 1854 and eventually became that country’s answer to Eva Peron. Valerie Ryan felt that “fact and fiction often commingle seamlessly” in Tuck’s hands, but nevertheless found the novel “uneven.”

“The Last Juror”

by John Grisham (Dell, $7.99). The new thriller by the Southern writer shares the same setting as his first novel “A Time to Kill,” and a few of its characters as well.

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“The Günter Grass Reader,”

edited by Helmut Frielinghaus (Harvest, $15). A selection of the German Nobel laureate’s fiction and nonfiction, including a tasty and informative essay on how he came to write his masterpiece, “The Tin Drum.”

“The Birth of Venus”

by Sarah Dunant (Random House, $13.95). Historical novel about a teenage girl in 16th-century Florence who secretly pursues her ambitions to be a painter. Deloris Tarzan Ament said the book “interweaves art, religion and passions of many varieties.”

“The Tea Ceremony: The Uncollected Writings of Gina Berriault”

(Shoemaker & Hoard, $15). Posthumous collection of work by the prize-winning author (“Women in Their Beds”). Bharti Kirchner called this collection “a treat” for those who haven’t read Berriault.

“A Spectacle of Corruption”

by David Liss (Ballantine, $14.95). A sequel to Liss’ “A Conspiracy of Paper,” in which bodyguard/bounty-hunter Benjamin Weaver is wrongly jailed for murder. Adam Woog called Weaver “a memorable character and nobody’s fool.”

“Dragon’s Lair”

by Sharon Kay Penman (Ballantine, $13.95). A new medieval mystery by the popular author.

“Bluffing Mr. Churchill”

by John Lawton (Penguin, $7.99). A mystery set in World War II London, featuring Scotland Yard detective Frederick Troy. Adam Woog said, “You can almost hear the buzz bombs and smell the acrid odor of the underground shelters.”


“Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001”

by Steve Coll (Penguin, $16). Updated edition of a book that John Hartl called a “gripping new history of the events leading up to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”

“The Flickering Mind: Saving Education from the False Promise of Technology”

by Todd Oppenheimer (Random House, $15.95). An examination of why the presence of computers in the classroom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Steve Weinberg wrote, “Anybody who cares about the successes and failures of kindergarten through grade-12 education should read [this] painstakingly reported, passionately argued book.”

“Inventing Japan, 1853-1964”

by Ian Buruma (Modern Library, $12.95). A veteran observer of Japan examines the country’s history from Commodore Perry’s first arrival through its post-World War II economic revival. Bradley Meacham said that the book’s “readable 175 pages boil down the scholarship of several dozen weightier books.”

“Intertwined Lives: Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and Their Circle”

by Lois W. Banner (Vintage, $16.95). A biography that sheds light on the romance between and professional relationship of anthropologists Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict.

“Traplines: Coming Home to the Sawtooth Valley”

by John Rember (Vintage, $13). A memoir-in-essays about growing up in Idaho. Steve Raymond praised Rember’s “deft touch with words.”

“An Open Book: Chapters from a Reader’s Life”

by Michael Dirda (Norton, $14.95). The Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post book critic looks back on his life. Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett declared that Dirda’s book “will uplift awkward young bookworms everywhere.”

“Getting Personal: Selected Writings”

by Phillip Lopate (Basic, $15). Lopate (“Portrait of My Body”) holds forth on childhood, bachelorhood, marriage, middle age and other topics, in a collection that David Takami said yields “persistently fresh insights.”

“The Afterlife: Essays and Criticism”

by Penelope Fitzgerald (Counterpoint, $17). A posthumous collection of nonfiction by the award-winning British novelist (“The Blue Flower”). Readers hungry for more of Fitzgerald’s distinctive sensibility will find it in abundance here.

Compiled by Michael Upchurch,

Seattle Times book critic, with contributions cited from staff

or freelance critics for The Seattle Times.