Neuvel, Sylvain. Sleeping Giants.

NY: Del Rey, 2016.

The advance information I saw on this book was a bit confusing. The reviews were good, but the blurb was basically, “A little girl accidentally discovers a giant, glowing, metal hand buried in South Dakota, and when she grows up, she becomes a physicist and is put in charge of studying it.” I had no idea what to make of that, but what the hell. Del Rey doesn’t often publish crap, right? Well, I’m writing this review on not too much sleep, because I stayed up much of the night to finish it. It was an absolutely absorbing story.


Galbraith, Robert. Lethal White.

NY: Little Brown, 2018.

The very entertaining “Cormoran Strike” mystery series has put paid to any question that J. K. Rowling couldn’t write anything but fantasy for children. This fourth entry may be the best yet. The sheer complexity of the plot and the interaction of the characters also gives it a Dickensian flavor.


Griffiths, Elly. The Outcast Dead.

NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.

This is the sixth in the series about Dr. Ruth Galloway, forensic archaeologist in the wilds of Norfolk, and the overarching theme this time is the peculiar social status of full-time childminders (what we call “day care” in the U.S.). Do parents who park their kids with a sitter all day harm them by doing so? Is a woman wrong to not be a full-time at-home mother?


Castle, Jennifer. You Look Different in Real Life.

NY: Harper-Collins, 2013.

This is an unusual sort of YA novel and a very enjoyable one. Justine is a sixteen-year-old student in a small town in New York’s Hudson Valley, and back when she was six, she and four of her schoolmates — all of them rather different from each other, of course — were chosen to star in a sort-of documentary film about what typical kids go through in the process of growing up. That film won awards and made them semi-famous, and the couple who filmed and produced it decided to do a series of sequels, five years apart, until the kids reached adulthood.


Published in: on 21 December 2018 at 7:09 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Griffiths, Elly. A Dying Fall.

NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

This is the fifth book in the very entertaining mystery series featuring Ruth Galloway of Norfolk — an overweight and middle-aged forensic archaeologist, underpaid college professor, and single mother. She and her daughter, now almost two, live in an isolated cottage on the saltmarsh in Norfolk, but the story this time is set mostly in Lancashire, in and around the resort town of Blackpool, which is also the hometown of DCI Harry Nelson


Published in: on 18 December 2018 at 9:40 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Grisham, John. Calico Joe.

NY: Doubleday, 2012.

As I’ve noted before, Grisham writes three kinds of novels. There’s his courtroom thrillers, which are usually among his best work, partly because that’s his own background. Then there’s his “caper” adventures, about con men and bent judges and whatnot, and as a group, those are considerably less successful, largely because he tends to blow off the research and gets things wrong in fields he’s not familiar with (and then jokes about it). And finally, there’s everything else. This one is in that third group, and it’s actually quite good — and that’s largely because Grisham himself is a baseball fanatic.


Published in: on 15 December 2018 at 8:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Johnson, Maureen. The Bermudez Triangle.

NY: Penguin, 2004.

Most YA novels aimed at teenage girls seem to be about friendship and romance, which are obviously themes of continual interest to the more thoughtful among that segment of the population. This one falls into that subcategory but it’s considerably better than most. It’s not cutesy and it doesn’t talk down to the reader, and there’s also some very funny writing.


Published in: on 12 December 2018 at 5:12 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Caletti, Deb. He’s Gone.

NY Random House, 2013.

The plot of this psychological thriller may remind you of Kimberly Belle’s The Marriage Lie, but Caletti does it better. Dani is a middle-aged Seattlite who shares an upscale, two-story houseboat with Ian, her second husband. (She had finally escaped her abusive first husband for him, and he had finally left his unmanageable first wife for her.) Ian is half-owner of a successful software company and the morning after a party to celebrate a new product release, he’s nowhere to be found.


Published in: on 9 December 2018 at 5:56 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

McManus, Karen. One of Us Is Lying.

NY: Delacorte, 2017.

It’s unusual to find a YA romance that also succeeds so well as a murder mystery, but McManus pulls it off nicely. Five San Diego high school seniors get detention for having forbidden cell phones in class and are cooped up together one fall afternoon. Four of them represent quite a spread of types — but then there’s the fourth one.


Lake, Nick. Whisper to Me.

NY: Bloomsbury, 2016.

This is not at all your typical Young Adult romance. In fact, it’s a throat-grabber that fairly screams with psychological tension. Cassandra — Cassie — is a lower-middle-class New Jersey beach town girl, seventeen and anxious to get far, far away as soon as she can. She’s hoping to trade on her artistic talent for a college scholarship. She’s something of an outcast at her school and has only one real friend, but she mostly doesn’t care.