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"The Winemaker's Wife" by Kristin Harmel; Gallery Books (400 pages, $28) ___ I have to admit that when I think of Champagne, I don't usually think of World War II. But Kristin Harmel's engrossing new historical novel, "The Winemaker's Wife," focuses on that war's impact on the region of France famed for its sublime sparkling wine. Harmel, who lives in Orlando, Fla., employed a nearby setting ...

"Woman at 1,000 Degrees" by Hallgrimur Helgason; Algonquin Books (400 pages, $16.95) ___ This rollicking novel by Icelandic writer Hallgrimur Helgason (newly released in paperback, with an English translation by Brian FitzGibbon) is as delightful as it is dirty. Inspired by a real-life old lady whom Helgason telephoned by chance during political canvassing, "Woman at 1,000 Degrees" is ...

spotlight

Europe recorded its hottest June ever. The hottest temperatures occurred June 26-28, resulting from a high-pressure system that settled over Europe combined with hot winds from the Sahara Desert in Africa.