Short stories 

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Four Kitchens

Lauren Shockey

Grand Central, $24.99/hardcover

Four Kitchens: My Life Behind the Burner in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv and Paris may have been "conceived in the spirit of Kitchen Confidential," but a snarky and fully engaging Anthony Bourdain, author Lauren Shockey is not. Nor is she a Gabrielle Hamilton, who struck deep with her recent food memoir Blood, Bones & Butter. Shockey borders on the schlocky with what seems to be reconstructed dialogue, most of which could have been paraphrased. Her food descriptions, particularly of molecular gastronomy, are good, and a handful of scenes — eating dog in Vietnam, for example — triumph. But the overall tone feels a little too "this is where I went and this is what I learned," scraping the surface of by-now well-documented kitchen life and failing to illuminate anything really soul-stirring, beyond pot-stirring. — Matthew Schniper

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Mountain Brew

Ed Sealover

The History Press, $21.99/paperback

Written in a style that betrays Ed Sealover's roots in the daily newspaper world — straightforward, repetitive introductions to brewery profiles, et cetera — Mountain Brew: A Guide to Colorado's Breweries stil easily entertains, merely with its depth of knowledge. And though more Colorado breweries have, of course, opened since the book's July release, scores of businesses are represented here, including Colorado Springs stalwarts like Trinity Brewing Co., which enjoys one of the longest passages in the compendium. Sealover, now a Denver Business Journal reporter, doesn't get everything right, like saying Black Fox Brewing Co. (listed under chapter four, "Experimental Breweries") owner John Schneider's last name is Davidson. But he manages to find enough of the spirit of a brewery to give dimension to what most drinkers know only as logo and flavor. — Bryce Crawford

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Small Town Sinners

Melissa Walker

Bloomsbury USA Childrens, $16.99/hardcover

Lacey Anne Byer's life has been spent within the shelter of her small-town Pentecostal church, where her father is the children's pastor. This 16-year-old really doesn't mind a 9 p.m. curfew; she's passive, well-behaved, an exemplary Christian girl who sometimes speaks in tongues, or "private prayer language." She's not a fake or a flake; she's a true believer who tries not to judge others, and she's very excited to play her part in the church's annual "Hell House" conversion event. Then a new boy moves to town, and Lacey Anne's attracted to him ... right as a close friend becomes pregnant. Honest about her confusion, conflict and love for God, Lacey Anne makes Melissa Walker's young adult novel Small Town Sinners into a fair and compassionate portrait of a teenage evangelical. Yes, she's conservative; she's also genuine. — Kel Munger


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