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Book Review: The Book of Magic

By Robert McCool

When I read for pure pleasure, I read Alice Hoffman. And nothing brings me more joy than her “Magic” books.

Beginning with Practical Magic from 1995, then enhanced by The Rules of Magic in 2017, also Magic Lessons in 2020, and now finishing with The Book of Magic (Simon and Schuster, ISBN: 978-9821-5148-5), Hoffman’s novels are masterworks of extraordinarily vivid magic-realism. These books are about books, family and love, in enchanting prose that opens your heart and mind to the possibilities that life has to offer.


Book Review: Gangsters vs. Nazis by Michael Benson

By Robert McCool

With sixty nonfiction books to his name, Michael Benson speaks with an authority that's hard to deny. That is especially true with his latest, Gangsters vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in Wartime America (Kensington Press, ISBN: 978-0-8065-4179-2).

In this April 2022 release, Benson's genius particularly shines. His research is unparalleled and easy to follow in this engaging page-turner. His skill in writing nonfiction results in a flowing scene of visualizations of the people and places in the time they occur in, 1938. All of the action is accurate and true; he's committed to the story and willing to go the distance it takes to present it.


Book Review: The Devil in the White City

by Robert McCool

First posted on the Icon September 10, 2020.

Welcome to the White City - Chicago in 1890-1893.

It's been a while since I've written a review, as my wife had an emergency back surgery and an extended stay in the hospital that has kept me busy doing other things than writing.

But even as immediate as my time has been recently this book has been on my mind quite a bit. Once again, it comes recommended by a member of the Ada book club, and is justified as a good read.


Did the 13th Amendment end slavery?

By Amelia Alexander

Alexander is an Ada High School student and a regular columnist for the Bluffton Icon.

I have been learning many things in school that have inspired me to write about them. In government, we are memorizing the amendments. Even the early amendments to the U.S. Constitution that trace back to the 1800s are still extremely relevant. I wanted to write about the 13th Amendment because it pertains to things that the media does not always cover.


What is the 13th Amendment?


Book Review: Cloud Cuckoo Land

By Robert McCool

Let's celebrate librarians.

Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Doerr's (“All The Light We Cannot See”) 2021 release, Cloud Cuckoo Land (Scribner, ISBN 978-1-9821-8967-9) is dedicated to librarians: past, present, and future. Some of the novel occurs within a library in whatever time and location is being reported in these joined stories of five distinctly different characters. 


Book Review: Blind Tiger

By Robert McCool

In her twenty-sixth novel Sandra Brown takes us back to Prohibition era Texas in order to present an ambitious story about a couple bound to come together over illegal whiskey making. It is also about 1920s societal norms for women.

Blind Tiger  (Grand Central Publishing, Hatchette Book Group; ISBN 978-1-5387-5196) is a big five-course dinner that fills you completely up and satisfies your appetite for action and romance. Really, it is a big book with room for each character's development into a fully fleshed human with a human's desires and drives.