Adamson, Lynda G. World Historical Fiction.

Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1999.

Any heavy reader is always happy to come across a source that recommends other books to read, and if historical novels are your thing, this is an excellent place to start. The author is well known to librarians, for whom this fat volume is mostly intended, and she includes here more than 6,000 books from all periods of history, all with annotations.

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MacDougall, Ruth Doan. Snowy.

NY: St. Martin, 1993.

In 1973, MacDougall published The Cheerleader, a now-classic story of the struggle to get through four years in a small-town high school in the late 1950s and out into Real Life. The focus was the overachieving Henrietta “Snowy” Snow and her closest friends of both sexes and we learned a great deal about all of them by the time they graduated. Written twenty years later (partly, I’m sure, in response to the clamor of fans who demanded to know what came next), this is the immediate sequel, taking Snowy and the gang through the rest of their lives.

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Published in: on 29 April 2012 at 4:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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Grafton, Sue. V Is for Vengeance.

NY: Putnam, 2011.

The first book in this bestselling series about the cases and adventures of California private detective Kinsey Millhone was A Is for Alibi, published in 1982, which was the protagonist’s “real time.” Now, twenty-nine years later, it’s only 1986 in Kinsey’s world. Grafton has said that her decision not to have her heroine age at the same rate as the author (and her readers) was largely to avoid the complications of personal computers, cell phones, AIDS, terrorism, and all the other major changes in how we do things.

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MacDougall, Ruth Doan. The Cheerleader.

NY: Putnam, 1973.

It’s difficult to write a review of a book like this. There’s so much the author has to say that ought to be noted, and there’s so much I need to say about my reactions to it. Very briefly, it’s 1955 and Henrietta Snow — known to everyone as “Snowy” — is fifteen and a sophomore at a small-town New Hampshire high school. Almost everyone she knows is blue-collar, but she and a small number of her friends are determined to go to college.

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Donald, Angus. Outlaw.

NY: St. Martin, 2009.

It’s 1188 and Henry II of England is approaching the end of his reign, embroiled in unproductive fighting against Philip of France, as well as against his own rebellious sons. But this story is set in the royal forest of Sherwood, near Nottingham, where Robert Odo, youngest son of a Norman baron, and known as Robin Hood, holds sway.

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Published in: on 23 April 2012 at 6:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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Beinhart, Larry. No One Rides for Free.

NY: Morrow, 1986.

Tony Cassella is a New York private detective with a whole lot of history and an entire crew of monkeys on his back. He’s offered a case by a fancy Wall Street law firm (and immediately triples his usual rates) with the task of finding out what one of their attorneys, Edgar Good, convicted of embezzlement, has been telling the SEC in an attempt to stay out of Attica.

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Published in: on 21 April 2012 at 4:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Leffland, Ella. Rumors of Peace.

NY: Harper, 1979.

Leffland is a highly regarded novelist of slender output — five novels in thirty years, and nothing at all in more than a decade. This one, her third, has recently been republished (and marketed as a “classic”), but I came across it when it first appeared and I remember enjoying it very much, so when I came across a mention of the book in another review, I decided it was time for a re-read.

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Holland, Cecelia. Two Ravens.

NY: Knopf, 1977.

Holland has written more than thirty novels in the past forty-plus years, and while all of them have been (to my mind) at least above average, her style has changed somewhat over time. This one is from her “early period,” which means short declarative sentences, a straightforward and unadorned narrative style, and a tendency to under-explain, to let the reader draw his own conclusions as to the characters’ motivations and inner mental workings.

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Perkins, Lynnne Rae. All Alone in the Universe.

NY: Greenwillow Books, 1999.

What does a twelve-year-old girl do when her best friend since Third Grade sudden begins spending most of her time hanging out with someone else? Someone the protagonist doesn’t even much like?

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Published in: on 16 April 2012 at 5:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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Merrifield, Ralph. London: City of the Romans.

Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983.

This magisterial volume is an outgrowth of the change in the state of archaeology in postwar Britain, and especially in London. In the 1950s, a great many opportunities unfortunately were missed during the clearing and rebuilding of the devastation left in the city by the Blitz, to poke about and discover what could be found from earlier centuries — but people understandably had other things on their minds.

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