Identity-seeking narrator learns he can’t change his stripes

Reading Kristopher Jansma’s rollicking debut novel, “The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards,” is a little like trying to count the lines in a bar code; pretty hard to keep track of everything unless you’re using a pencil. The easiest place to start might be with the title, which is obvious enough — a leopard’s spots aren’t supposed to change.

Lee’s Summit poet creates layers of meanings

Lindsey Martin-Bowen finds inspiration in many places, from past literature to the name of a local car repair shop. Martin-Bowen will read from her collection “Inside Virgil’s Garage” at 8 p.m. Friday at the Writers Place.

In novel, Lee’s Summit woman reveals cultural shame endured by daughter and mom

In “The Voices of Heaven,” Maija Rhee Devine of Lee’s Summit reveals the emotions of growing up in a Korean household that demanded male heirs. Her mother had to endure a mistress brought in to provide baby boys. Others blamed her. On Wednesday, Devine will read from the novel at the Kansas City Public Library’s Central Library.

The ‘Anthropocene Age’ may find many animals crowded out

Elizabeth Kolbert’s “Field Notes From a Catastrophe” (2006) presented a powerful account of how climate change was disrupting lives around the planet. Man is causing extinctions of other species all over the world, and our actions could eventually lead to our own, the author says.

Being in on ‘The Lie’ adds to the intrigue

Hesh Kestin’s novel title, “The Lie,” just as easily refers to what is lying beneath the surface, or lying in wait, as it does to a piece of untrue information. The story’s protagonist, Dahlia Barr, is a left-wing human rights attorney freshly turned chief superintendent of Israeli police — and she is consumed with each sense of the word “lie.”

Family secrets lurk in ‘Boy, Snow, Bird,’ an inventive take on Snow White

As in the time-honored tale “Little Snow-White,” a mother dies shortly after giving birth to a beautiful daughter “white as snow,” and a stepmother is threatened by her stepdaughter’s beauty. This story is not told in the stark fashion of the Grimm brothers, but with originality and humor by the Nigerian-born, London-raised Oyeyemi.

Murders strike close to home

In two new books, authors Kevin Cook and Nicholas J.C. Pistor examine the impact of two crimes on neighbors: a famous 1964 murder in New York City and an unsolved 1874 ax killing in Illinois.

Truman’s persuasive Army pal

As made clear in “Genesis: Truman, American Jews, and the Origins of the Arab/Israeli Conflict,” by John B. Judis, Harry S. Truman’s evolution on the question of diplomatic recognition of Israel was complicated. Judis speaks at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Central Library.

‘Empire of Necessity’ shows a little-known side of slavery

In “The Empire of Necessity,” Greg Grandin tells a great and moving story but bloats and dilutes it with long digressions, from the Spanish reconquista of Iberia from the Muslim Moors to the ox-hide trade in Argentina. Fortunately, the narrative revives whenever Grandin loops back to the lives of the core characters: Delano, Cerreno, Babo and Mori.

Energy is prized in young author’s dystopian future

The dream of many young writers has become reality for Bethany Taylor. The 2010 University of Kansas graduate, writing as Bethany Hagen, has published her first novel, “Landry Park,” a dystopian young adult drama set in Kansas City 200 years from now.

‘Careless People’ goes beyond Gatsby’s glitter

After a Fitzgerald-obsessed 2013, the appearance of Sarah Churchwell’s “Careless People” at first seems like a reckless test of just how much Gatsby the reading public will swallow. But it would be a shame if last year’s gluttony made readers abstain from this rewarding work.