Wilson, Sarah & Bernie Karlin. Garage Song.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 1991.

At my advanced age, I don’t often review children’s picture books, but this one deserves to be an exception. My three-year-old grandson found it at the library and, at his insistence, I read it to him until he had it nearly memorized.

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Published in: on 28 September 2013 at 4:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Lippman, Laura. Baltimore Blues.

NY: Harper, 1996.

It’s always nice to discover a new detective/mystery series of quality and this first book featuring Baltimore native and recently-ex-journalist Tess Monaghan definitely qualifies. Lippman herself is a Baltimorean and ex-reporter and the city’s style and personality constitutes one of the major characters in the story.

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Cline, Ernest. Ready Player One.

NY: Crown, 2011.

This is the downright geekiest book I’ve read in a long, long time. In fact, if you were born around 1970 and grew up a pop culture junkie in the ‘80s, this is absolutely the book for you. Hey, I’m a generation older than that and I still loved it.

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Pym, Barbara. The Sweet Dove Died.

NY: Dutton, 1978.

Pym’s novels aren’t epics or sagas, they’re rather small but always graceful examinations of ordinary people and the situations in which they find themselves. The setting this time is London of the late 1970s and there are four focal characters, two younger and in tune with the times (more or less), and two older who are trying hard to pretend “the times” don’t exist.

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Published in: on 20 September 2013 at 5:27 am  Leave a Comment  
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Kent, Alexander. Command a King’s Ship.

NY: Putnam, 1973.

Fans know that this author is actually Douglas Reeman, who wrote several excellent naval adventures set during World War II, in which he himself participated. “Kent” is the name under which his couple of dozen books have appeared about Richard Bolitho, a Royal Navy figure of the late 18th century, from the war in America to the early part of the Napoleonic Wars. (Bolitho is about a generation older than Hornblower or Aubrey.)

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Wambaugh, Joseph. The Secrets of Harry Bright.

NY: Morrow, 1985.

Wambaugh has a decades-long reputation for turning out well-crafted, often rather light-hearted crime novels. He generally does this by alternating a carefully plotted core narrative with a large quantity of extraneous, or at least tangential, anecdotal material about a large number of characters. Some readers enjoy this approach and some find it annoying.

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Published in: on 15 September 2013 at 5:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lovesey, Peter. Diamond Solitaire.

NY: Mysterious Press, 1992.

I found the first book in this widely lauded series, The Last Detective (1991), to be singularly unimpressive and I frankly wasn’t in a hurry to continue with the adventures of an overweight police superintendent with a bullying personality. A friend whose literary opinions I generally respect, however, urged me not to give up on this character, so I decided to give Lovesey one more shot. And this second volume is a considerable improvement. But it still has problems.

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Haldeman, Joe. The Hemingway Hoax.

NY: Morrow, 1990.

Haldeman’s first science fiction novel, The Forever War, drew a great deal of attention, won numerous awards, and has become a modern classic. His many subsequent novels, however, haven’t really gotten the attention they deserve beyond the narrow confines of serious fandom.

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Published in: on 11 September 2013 at 5:26 am  Comments (1)  
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Weldon, Fay. Long Live the King.

NY: St. Martin, 2013.

This second volume in the author’s Edwardian trilogy is a considerable improvement over the first. The old queen has finally died and the family of the Earl of Dilberne is caught up in the planning for the coronation of Edward VII.

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Weldon, Fay. Habits of the House.

London: Head of Zeus, 2012.

Most people will have forgotten (if they ever knew) that Fay Weldon wrote the pilot episode of the original Upstairs, Downstairs back in 1971. However, a fan of that series who picks up this book (the first volume of a trilogy) expecting more of the same is likely to be bemused. (Nice aristocratic word, that.)

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