Mina, Denise. Exile.

NY: Little, Brown, 2001.

This second novel about Maureen O’Donnell of working-class Glasgow picks up a few months after the first one left off , with Maureen trying to spend the money left her by her murdered, married boyfriend and working for a foundation (or the Scottish equivalent) that manages a string of women’s shelters — an institution that seems more needed in her city than most.

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Mina, Denise. Garnethill.

NY: Little, Brown, 1998.

I’ve heard good things about this author for a decade but somehow hadn’t gotten around to reading any of her books. This debut novel, however, will have me lining up all her more recent work. Actually, I picked it up in part because all the Scots authors I’ve read — people like Rankin and McCall Smith — are staunch Edinburghers and those people have their own very particular view of what they believe goes on in Glasgow. I decided it was time to get the Glaswegian take on things.

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Pratchett, Terry. Dodger’s Guide to London.

NY Doubleday, 2013.

It’s an article of faith that I will happily read anything Terry Pratchett cares to write. And there’s some interesting stuff in this relatively slender volume, especially for the reader who isn’t very familiar with Victorian London. Still and all, it’s a bit of a disappointment, as if the author took bad advice from his editor and was also assigned a rather mediocre designer.

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Published in: on 23 December 2014 at 7:09 am  Leave a Comment  
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Nesbo, Jo. Cockroaches.

NY: Random House, 2013.

I have a thing for Scandinavian mystery writers and Nesbo’s series (now up to ten volumes) about Oslo police detective — and ongoing train wreck — Harry Hole has gotten steadily excellent reviews. But for some strange reason, it has taken them a very long time to publish the first few books in English translation — especially since several of the later books have been out for some time now.

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Shipway, George. The Paladin.

NY: Harcourt, 1973.

Shipway is the best historical novelist in English you may never have heard of. I read several of his books back in the ’70s, but they’ve all been out of print for many years. (You’ll probably have to go, as I did, to Inter-Library Loan, or a really good used book store, to find them.)

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Galbraith, Robert. The Silkworm.

NY: Little, Brown, 2014.

The whole world knows by now that Galbraith is actually J. K. Rowling, staking out new post-Harry-Potter territory, and doing it very well indeed. Anyone who thought Rowling was stuck at Hogwart’s forever should reconsider. And now it’s eight months since Cormoran Strike, ex-military cop and war casualty, solved the Lula Landry case and rubbed the Met’s nose in the dirt in the process.

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De la Bédoyère, Guy. The Romans for Dummies.

NY: Wiley, 2006.

When this series (as well as “The Idiots Guide to” books) first got started, reviewers always made fun of the running title, and often of the mandatory bad jokes and puns scattered through the text. As time goes on, though, some of the individual volumes have turned out to be quite good. I have a strong background in Greek and Roman history, so I was interested in how well they would pull this one off, and I was very pleasantly surprised.

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Johnston, E. K. The Story of Owen, Dragon Slayer of Trondheim.

Minneapolis: Lerner Publishing, 2014.

Trondheim is a very ordinary small mining and farming town in southwest Ontario, and Siobhan McQuaid is a pretty ordinary sixteen-year-old — except for her music, which fills all the world around her. But this is actually an alternate history novel, and Trondheim, like all other communities, has problems with attacks by flying dragons.

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Coles, Stephen. The Anatomy of Type: A Graphic Guide to 100 Typefaces.

NY: HarperCollins, 2012.

I am not and never could be a designer, either of typography or anything else, but I’m enough of a book-junky to appreciate the differences between the way type looks on the page (both in blocks of text and as headings), or on road signs, or on billboards.

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Published in: on 6 December 2014 at 7:27 am  Leave a Comment  

Hershler, N. The Soldier’s Handbook for Use in the Army of the United States.

Washington: GPO, 1900.

As every veteran knows, when you enlist in the armed forces you discover you have a large number of new regulations and procedures to bone up on, and quick. They always give you a manual to aid in your learning and this is the U.S. Army’s version from immediately after the War with Spain. If you lost it, you had to pay for it, too — 45 cents, close to a day’s pay for a private — unless it was “lost through no fault of the man.”

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Published in: on 4 December 2014 at 6:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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