Poston, Ashley. Geekerella.

Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2017.

Seventeen-year-old Danielle — Elle for short — is a Charleston native and an orphan. First, her mother died, then her dad remarried, and then he died. And now she’s stuck with the stepmother (and two stepsisters) from hell, at least until her next birthday. Elle is also a complete geek when it comes to a famous Star Trek-like series from decades ago, which is now about to reboot in a new movie.

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Jewell, Lisa. Then She Was Gone.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2018.

This suspense-filled novel is frankly hard to read in places, but you should try it anyway. It’s 2005 and fifteen-year-old Ellie Mack of London is a “golden girl” — gorgeous, a top student, self-confident, and in love for the first time. Her parents adore her — though Hanna, her less-gifted older sister, has trouble competing at times. And then, shortly before her GCSEs, Ellie goes to the local library, a fifteen-minute walk away, and is never seen again.

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Armentrout, Jennifer L. If There’s No Tomorrow.

Don Mills, ONT: Harlequin Books, 2017.

Armentrout is one of the better YA novelists working today, and this one in particular is a grabber. The protagonist is Lena Wise, just starting her senior year in high school, trying to write college application essays, and spending as much time as possible with her next-door neighbor and best friend, Sebastian (with whom, of course, she’s been secretly in love for years). She makes good grades, has plenty of friends, and likes to go to parties at the lake, though she never drinks much.

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Published in: on 22 February 2019 at 7:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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Mackintosh, Clare. I Let You Go.

NY: Berkley, 2014.

This is a new author for me, though she’s written a large number of thrillers and detective stories. This one begins when a young mother in Bristol is walking her five-year-old son home from school. He breaks away from her and runs across the street toward their small house but is struck and killed by a car — which then drives away. DI Ray Stevens of Homicide gets the call and he and a young female Detective Constable (only in CID for a few months, but she’s smart and eager) start their investigation. Ray’s whole team puts in great effort, but it all goes nowhere.

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Scalzi, John. The End of All Things.

NY: Tor, 2015.

Scalzi’s first book, Old Man’s War, was first-rate, not only as military SF but as a study in interstellar and interspecies political conflict. The first couple of sequels continued the story in linear fashion and were also pretty good. Then the series seemed to lose its way for awhile, finally devolving into a lengthy run of semi-independent stories, each with its own theme within the future that the author built around the Colonial Union.

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Published in: on 16 February 2019 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Chadwick, John. The Decipherment of Linear B.

Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1967.

My undergrad degree was in Greek & Roman and I read the 2nd edition of this absorbing intellectual detective story when it was first published. Fifty years later, it’s still a great read. “Linear B” is one of the two languages discovered by Sir Arthur Evans in his excavations in Crete in the early 20th century (the other being “Linear A,” an even tougher nut). Like all early languages, it was written in a heavily pictorial form, but it wasn’t clear whether the figures used were similar in intention to Egyptian hieroglyphs, or whether they were syllabic in nature. Scholars struggled with the problem for years.

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Published in: on 13 February 2019 at 5:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Gough, Richard. History of Myddle.

NY: Dorset Press, 1981.

The history you learn in school is “big” history — wars, world leaders, crusades, international treaties, vast social movements like industrialization — but I’ve always been far more interested in small, day-to-day, “next door” history. What people wore and ate, how they earned a living, their personal experiences at war, why they left the family farm and went elsewhere to raise their families, and what sort of things were important to them.

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Published in: on 10 February 2019 at 4:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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Morgan, Richard K. Thin Air.

NY: Del Rey, 2018.

I got hooked on Morgan with his first book, Altered Carbon, and its two sequels. He blazed all sorts of new trails in hard-edged noir science fiction and I happily went along for the ride. Then, unfortunately, he sort of wandered off in different directions that didn’t resonate with me and I sort of lost interest. Well, now Morgan is back with a new series of cutting-edge SF and I’m happy to be climbing back aboard.

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Wolitzer, Meg. Belzhar.

NY: Random House, 2014.

I’ve been a fan of Wollitzer’s for some time. Her style is smooth and fluent and her characters are always interesting. None of her books would be difficult for teenagers to enjoy, but this is her first deliberately YA novel. Fifteen-year-old Jam (short for “Jamaica”) Gallahue kind of had a breakdown after she lost her first real love — Reeve Maxfield, a British exchange student at her New Jersey high school. Months later, she still can’t cope with her loss, and so she ends up at “The Wooden Barn,” a Connecticut boarding school for “emotionally fragile” teenagers.

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Nelson, Jandy. The Sky Is Everywhere.

NY: Dial, 2010.

Lennie is seventeen and she’s been having a really hard time since the sudden collapse and death of her older sister, Bailey, a month earlier, while rehearsing Shakespeare. The two sisters were very close and Lennie’s grief is overwhelming. She’s a long way from coming to terms with her loss, especially with the reactions of her friends and the parallel grief of her grandmother and uncle, who raised them both.

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Published in: on 1 February 2019 at 7:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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