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In Aphrodite in Jeans, Katherine Shirek Doughtie explores what happens when a woman stalemated in the middle of life dares to answer a call to live more fully. Whether discussing motherhood, working through relationships or taking care of an aging parent, these essays are in turn funny, poignant and challenging. With wicked insight and unflinch­ing courage, Ms. Doughtie ruthlessly examines her experiences as she dares to tackle life head on.

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The author Rudyard Kipling is familiar to most, especially his famed stories that make up The Jungle Book. However, a lesser known fact is that although he was born in India, Rudyard Kipling came to live in Vermont in 1892 with his American wife and set up home in Brattleboro. It was there that he wrote The Jungle Book, inspired by his love for the country of his birth.

Victoria Vinton’s The Jungle Law is a fictional account of the time the Kiplings spent in Vermont. Mixing fact and invention, Vinton parallels Kipling’s story with that of his neighbors’,

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Jacob Green doesn’t mean to disappoint his father, but he can’t help thinking the most unthinkable (and very funny) thoughts about public-school humiliation, Hebrew-school disinclination, and in-home sex education (with the live-in nanny!). If only his mother hadn’t started col­lege at thirty-six (and fallen for her psychology professor). If only he were more like his rebellious older brother (suspended from Hebrew school for drawing the rabbi in a threesome with a lobster and a pig). If only Jacob could confront his overbearing father and tell him he doesn’t want to sing in synagogue, attend est classes, write the perfect thank-you note,

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In 1998, journalist Barbara Ehrenreich became a waitress, a maid, and a low level sales clerk while researching Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. Selling close to one million copies, Nickel and Dimed exposed the truth about the demise of a living wage, health insurance, and other presumed rewards for American workers. In Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream, she goes undercover once again, this time to explore the grim results of corporate downsizing. Immersed in the world of the white-collar unemployed, she joins the ranks of those who seem to have done everything right—finished college,

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Victory Ford is the darling of the fashion world. Single, attractive, and iconoclastic, she has worked for years to create her own signature line. As well as learning crucial lessons about what she really wants in a relationship.

Nico O’Neilly is the glamorous, brilliant editor of Bonfire Magazine— the pop-culture bible for fashion, show business, and politics. Considered one of the most powerful women in publishing, she seems to have it all. But in a mid-life crisis, she suddenly realizes this isn’t enough.

Wendy Healy’s chutzpah has propelled her to the very top of the cut­throat movie industry.

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One of the most widely praised and rapturously entertaining first novels in recent years begins with a little girl falling down an aban­doned mineshaft in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Her name is Ursula Maki, she’s part Chinese, part Finnish, only two years old, and soon the dangerous effort to rescue her has an entire country glued to the TV. As it follows that effort, Ursula, Under re-creates the chain of ancestors, across two thousand years, whose lives culminate in the fragile miracle of a lit­tle girl underground: a Chinese alchemist in the third century BC, the orphaned playmate to a seventeenth-century Swedish queen,

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