Cunliffe, Barry. The Celts: A Very Short Introduction.

NY: Oxford University Press, 2003.

I’ve read several of Cunliffe’s books on cultures of the European Bronze and Iron Ages and have enjoyed both what he has to say and the engaging style with which he says it, but this 150-page volume is somewhat confusing.

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Published in: on 30 March 2015 at 10:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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French, Tana. In the Woods.

NY: Viking, 2007.

I enjoy reading mysteries — especially police procedurals — set in places outside the U.S. I’ve read books in which the action takes place in Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Thailand, Italy, and Australia, but this is my first experience with Ireland.

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Rabagliati, Michel. Paul Joins the Scouts.

Greenwich, NS: Conundrum Press, 2013.

I’ve read a couple of the author’s earlier slice-of-life and semi-autobiographical graphic novels about Paul which were written a decade or so ago, but those were set in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, when the protagonist was an adult trying to make his way in the professional art world. This one is also very nice but it takes place when Paul is only about eleven, so the author seems to be moving backward. Or something.

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King, Stephen. 11/22/63.

NY: Scribner, 2011.

Like practically everyone else who reads a lot, I’ve read a number of Stephen King novels. None of them were bad but some appealed to me a good deal more than others. And there have been a few that really got to me, like The Stand. His longer work is capable of approaching the epic in subject and breadth, and this is one of those books. The title alone tells you what it’s all about: The assassination of President John F. Kennedy, a traumatic and era-dividing event in recent U.S. history that also largely defined my own generation. Because this is a fascinating book for a reader of my age.

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Pinker, Steven. The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.

NY: Viking, 2014.

Pinker is one of those “public intellectuals” whose work is thoughtful and always worth paying attention to, but who would probably publish in obscurity if his own style wasn’t so appealing and lively. He’s both a cognitive scientist and a linguist with a string of awards, and he has the knack of explaining complex ideas in a way that the non-specialist can grasp.

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Published in: on 20 March 2015 at 5:33 am  Comments (1)  
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Sharp, Ilsa. Culture Shock! Australia. 6th ed.

Tarrytown, NY: Marshall Cavendish, 2005.

Even though the foundation myths of Australia and the United States and their early histories have almost nothing in common, there’s a commonality of experience: Huge, mostly uninhabited spaces, an “old west” based on stock raising, gold rushes, and having to come to terms with an indigenous culture with which the incomers also had nothing in common. I’ve known a number of Americans, especially in the 1960s and ’70s, who loved Australia and thought seriously about emigrating. But the place has changed tremendously in the past forty or fifty years.

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Willis, Connie. The Best of Connie Willis.

NY: Del Rey, 2013.

Connie Willis is consistently one of the very best writers of science fiction around, and has been for three decades. She’s accumulated more Hugos and Nebulas for her actual writing (as opposed to editing) than anyone, and all the ten stories in this stellar collection have won one or the other — or both.

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McDevitt, Jack. Time Travelers Never Die.

NY: Ace, 2009.

I have a thing about time travel stories, possibly because I have a thing about history. At one point, the two temporal tourists in this entertaining yarn make up a joint “to-do” list of all the people they would like to meet and all the events they would like to witness down through history. I could easily compile a competing list with no duplications.

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Published in: on 10 March 2015 at 4:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Milne, A. A. The Red House Mystery.

NY: Dutton, 1922.

Everybody knows Milne as the creator of Winnie the Pooh, but few people these days know he also wrote short stories for Punch, essays on ethics and politics, theatrical plays (his idol was James M. Barrie), and screenplays for Leslie Howard’s early films. In fact, he was annoyed at being typecast as a children’s author and wanted to experiment in various genres

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Published in: on 8 March 2015 at 5:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Winters, Ben H. World of Trouble.

Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2014.

Henry Palace of Concord, N.H., always wanted to be a cop and he was even an official detective for three months before the police department shut down. Because who really cares about crime, even murder, when a very large, very fast-moving asteroid is going to end the world in less than eight months?

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Published in: on 5 March 2015 at 7:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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