Carlson, David L. & Landis Blair. The Hunting Accident: A True Story of Crime and Poetry.

NY: First Second, 2017.

If you’re in the market for a really involving graphic novel that will keep you absorbed for hours and have you hunting up background material so you can learn more, I strongly recommend this one. It’s the winter of 1959 in Chicago and ten-year-old Charlie Rizzo has just returned to live with his father following his divorced mother’s death in California. He doesn’t really know his father that well, except that he’s blind and writes poetry, but his mother and grandmother had felt the need to “save” Charlie from him five years earlier.



Arnold, Elana K. What Girls Are Made of.

Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 2017.

This is one of the stronger YA novels I’ve come across recently, and I suspect it won’t be to the taste of many teenage readers. “There’s no such thing as unconditional love,” Nina’s mother told her when she was fourteen. “I could stop loving you at any time.” Nina took that to heart when she finally acquired a boyfriend, and so she’s willing to do almost anything to keep him.


Published in: on 14 September 2018 at 6:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Ingolfsson, Viktor Arnar. Daybreak.

Las Vegas: AmazonCrossing, 2013 (first published 2005 in Icelandic).

I don’t know what it is about Scandinavian mystery writers, and about Icelandic writers in particular, but they’re both very similar to and very different from the classic Anglo-American police procedural. And Ingofsson is one of the best of them, so it’s a puzzle why this one had to wait eight years to be published in translation.


Published in: on 11 September 2018 at 10:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Wells, Martha. All Systems Red.

NY: Tor, 2017.

Wells has written mostly fantasy novels of a type that just doesn’t appeal to me, so I was only slightly aware of her work. But this one is straight-up, hardcore science fiction, and it’s quite good. The narrator is nameless because he’s a construct — more than an “enhanced human,” less than a full machine, designed to be hired out for security work. But “SecUnit,” as the humans for whom he works sometimes call him, has hacked his own governor module, making him a free agent, and because of his often bloody professional past he has come to think of himself as “Murderbot.”


Nadler, Steven & Ben Nadler. Heretics! The Wondrous (and Dangerous) beginnings of Modern Philosphy.

Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017.

As an undergraduate many years ago, I took quite a few courses in the history of philosophy, simply because I needed an easy second minor and (once you learn the actual history), philosophy doesn’t really have any right or wrong answers. I learned a lot and I’ve maintained an interest, so I had high hopes for this uncommon graphic approach to the subject in its more recent centuries.


Published in: on 5 September 2018 at 7:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Flanagan, Liz. Eden Summer.

NY: Scholastic, 2017.

I read a fair number of YA novels of the “teen romance” sort (I’ll read almost anything if it’s well-written) and there are certain features and themes that are common to most of them. Flanagan, whose first novel I believe this is, has taken a rather different path in her story, and it’s quite an original and empathic one.


Published in: on 2 September 2018 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Crouch, Blake. Dark Matter.

NY: Crown, 2016.

When I don’t have a specific book pending in the back of my mind, waiting until I finish the current one, I usually browse my “To Read” list (which is very lengthy) until something just hits me the right way. This week, it was Crouch’s book, which has been staring at me from the shelf for awhile now. Time travel and alternate histories are two of my favorite subgenres within science fiction, and in recent years, authors of both have often turned to the concept of the multiverse to quasi-explain the “how it works” part of their stories. Crouch sort of does the same thing here, but he carries it all off in highly original and unique ways.


Fuller, David. Sundance.

NY: Riverhead Books, 2014.

Among other things, I’ve been a more or less professional genealogist for more than fifty years (an obvious interest for a big-city librarian with several history degrees), and because I have an interest in the so-called Old West, I’ve spent some time researching some of the better-known Good Guys and Bad Guys thereof. That includes Robert Parker and Harry Longbaugh, better known to most Americans as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Both were killed by the Bolivian army in 1908 — right?


Novik, Naomi. His Majesty’s Dragon.

NY: Ballantine, 2006.

I’d been aware of this fantasy series set during the Napoleonic wars, but to be honest, I had sort of deliberately avoided it. I’m a lifelong fan of naval adventure stories set in that period, having discovered my father’s shelf of Hornblower novels at an early age. I’ve read very literally several hundred novels by several dozen authors about the Royal Navy at the turn of the 18th century, and I’m picky about authenticity of detail. But I recently read Uprooted, a standalone fantasy novel by the same author and greatly enjoyed it, so I decided I ought to give this earlier work a fair chance. And I have to say, it doesn’t disappoint.


Lee, Sharon & Steve Miller. Neogenesis.

NY: Baen, 2018.

Last year’s volume in this excellent space opera series was the latest in the arc that focused on Capt. Theo Waitley, youngest scion of Clan Korval, the House of Tree and Dragon, as she struggled to preserve the existence of her AI ship. This new arc in the Liaden saga runs mostly in parallel with that one — as the stories set in various parts of the now very complex Liaden universe often do — and it concentrates on events back home on Surebleak, though the two narratives come together for a mutual resolution late in the book.