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Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff

Dip into Katharine Weber's novel 'True Confections,' take a tour of early Oscar contenders in a new DVD collection, listen to Midlake's newest CD, and more.

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The Oscars' first decade

Get ready for the March 7 Oscars with an offbeat look at some of Tinseltown's early award-winning filmmaking in "Academy Collection: The Envelope Please, Volume 1," on DVD Feb. 23 from Infinity Entertainment Group. In a decade that took film from silent to early color, this four-disc set offers a rare look at Best Picture contenders during the Oscars' first decade (1929-39), including: "The Racket" (1928), "A Farewell to Arms" (1932), "A Star Is Born" (1937), "Pygmalion" (1938), and "Love Affair" (1939). Bonus: original trailers from other "Best Picture"-nominated/winning films of the decade.

Like a box of chocolates

In "True Confections," novelist Katharine Weber ("Triangle") serves up the delicious tale of Zip's Candies – a small New England confectioner whose politically incorrect candy bars have an unfortunate cultural provenance. Written as an affidavit by Alice Ziplinsky, a lonely Unitarian who married into the family business, the novel whisks up a combination of immigrants, gunrunning, betrayal, and chocolate. Throw in a double handful of dark humor and let the gloriously unreliable narrator stir, and you have a winning recipe for smart literary fiction.

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