Chambers, Becky. Record of a Spaceborn Few.

NY: Harper Collins, 2018.

Becky Chambers’s first two novels, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit, made me a major fan of this author’s work. Her latest book definitely seals the deal. She doesn’t do swashbuckling, or running gunfights, or alien monsters. Her fundamental style reminds me a lot of Clifford Simak, in that it’s rather quiet and understated, almost pastoral — which may seem an odd adjective for a science fiction novel about life aboard a fleet of generation ships, but she writes mostly in pastels. And she does it so very well.

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Silver, Dina. Whisper if You Need Me.

np: Amazon Digital Services, 2015.

This is a rather more high-powered YA romance than most I’ve read lately. Julia Pearl of Chicago was just starting 7th Grade when her high-powered attorney father threw her glamorous mother out of the house. Now she’s sixteen and while she knows her mother has been in rehab, or something, she hasn’t seen her or spoken to her in all that time.

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Published in: on 12 November 2018 at 8:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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Wells, Martha. Rogue Protocol.

NY: Tor, 2018.

This is the third of Wells’s four-novel hard-SF cycle featuring the artificially constructed sort-of-android security unit that thinks of himself — itself — as “Murderbot.” They only run around 150 pages each, but there’s a lot of action so each of them feels more like a full-size novel.

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Published in: on 9 November 2018 at 2:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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Green, John. Paper Towns.

NY: Dutton, 2008.

Green is one of the more “serious” authors of Young Adult novels. He doesn’t do frothy romances, but rather in-depth explorations of the teenage psyche and the often harrowing process of trying to become an adult, and this is an excellent example of that. It’s not a long story, only 120 pages, but the complexity of the thinking behind it and the density of the narrative make it feel like three or four times that length.

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Macgregor, Joanne. The Law of Tall Girls.

np: Amazon Digital Services, 2017.

I have a 15-year-old granddaughter who has been a book junky — and a quite sophisticated one — since before she could read for herself. Now, I read a fair number of straight-to-Kindle books — and the average quality is higher than you might think — but I don’t ordinarily review them. The same is true of YA novels: I review only a small number of those I actually read. This highly engaging teenage love story, however, is an exception in both ways.

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Published in: on 3 November 2018 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Edmondson, Elizabeth. Finding Philippe.

London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2001.

This late author produced a series of very enjoyable romance-mystery-thriller novels, all set in the immediate post-World War II period in Britain — though it somewhat pains me to think of a story set in my own lifetime as “historical fiction” — and this was one of the few I hadn’t previously read.

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LaCour, Nina. Hold Still.

NY: Dutton, 2009.

As I’ve said before, I’ve developed a very high regard for this author, who writes novels branded as “Young Adult,” but which are filled with very adult insights, beautifully realized. This one is about sixteen-year-old Caitlin who, a few weeks before the end of her sophomore year, is informed one morning that her best friend, Ingrid, has killed herself the night before by cutting her wrists.

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Published in: on 28 October 2018 at 2:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Feiffer, Jules. Kill My Mother: A Graphic Novel.

NY: Liveright, 2014.

Feiffer is an amazing cartoonist with amazing longevity. He started drawing for publication shortly after World War II, became Will Eisner’s assistant at the age of seventeen, and his work was showing up in New Yorker, Esquire, and Playboy while Eisenhower was still in the White House. He won every artistic award there is, including an Academy Award, and then branched out into novels, stage plays, and screenplays.

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Shusterman, Neal. Thunderhead.

NY: Simon & Shuster, 2018.

Scythe, the first volume of this new series, was pretty good. It was highly original in its ideas and worldbuilding, it was believable within its own posited future — in which effective immortality requires an artificial population balance in the form of a corps of almost completely above-the-law dealers of death — and it described the interactions among a small group of fascinating characters in vivid action scenes.

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Published in: on 22 October 2018 at 6:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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LaCour, Nina. Everything Leads to You.

NY: Dutton, 2014.

LaCour is one of the most highly-regarded “serious” writers of Young Adult novels working today, and this is one of her best. Yes, it’s a very romantic love story, but it’s also much more. Emi Price is only just finishing high school in Los Angeles but she’s already a set-design intern for a movie studio. Even without the proper training (which she expects to get at UCLA next year), she’s a natural, almost a visionary genius.

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