French, Nicci. Tuesday’s Gone.

NY: Penguin, 2012.

I greatly enjoyed Blue Monday, the first installment in this superior series that combines British police procedural with psychological thriller and semi-domestic drama, and this second one is even better. Dr. Frieda Klein is a psychotherapist in London, a stubborn and often bloody-minded woman who only recently acquired a cell phone (it’s nearly always turned off), both loves and hates her city, and frequently spends the night walking long distances alone as a way of dealing with her own demons.


Goetzinger, Annie. Girl in Dior.

NY: NBM Publishing, 2013.

This nicely drawn graphic novel is interesting for its artwork, which celebrates the last ten years of Christian Dior, a revolutionary postwar high fashion, but it’s rather a disappointment in its storytelling. The narrator is the young (and fictional) Clare Nohant, daughter and granddaughter of professional seamstresses in the fashion world, and a would-be fashion journalist.


Published in: on 25 July 2019 at 5:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dickinson, Seth. The Monster Baru Cormorant.

NY: Tor, 2018.

When last we saw Baru Cormorant, native of a now-ruined island semi-paradise, and agent provocateur of the Imperial Republic of Falcrest, she had just betrayed the rebellion in the colonial province of Aurdwynn – a rebellion which she had fomented and then led. And she had arranged the destruction of the uprising’s aristocratic leaders, leaving a huge power vacuum, which Falcrest could now fill however it pleased.


Published in: on 22 July 2019 at 6:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Rooney, Sally. Normal People.

London: Hogarth, 2018.

This is a fascinating book, but it’s difficult to explain why. It’s the story of two young people in Ireland and their on-again, off-again relationship over a period of about four years, from roughly their last year in secondary school through their time at Trinity College in Dublin. That’s basically it. In fact, that’s almost entirely it. And yet, there’s really a great deal more to the story.


Published in: on 18 July 2019 at 10:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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Grossman, Lev. The Magician King.

NY: Viking, 2011.

It’s difficult to write a review of the second volume of a trilogy without spoiling it for those who haven’t begun the first volume yet. Let’s try this: At the end of volume one, Quentin Coldwater, recent graduate of Brakebills, had lost something precious and attempted to give up magic entirely as a result, but found that was impossible. Well, in this second episode, he gains the one thing he has wanted all his life: Entrance to Filory, the magical world. (And I mean that literally.)


Published in: on 15 July 2019 at 5:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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Matson, Morgan. The Unexpected Everything.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2016.

This author has earned a place on my “dependable authors” short list when it comes to YA novels. She can take a well-used trope — in this case, the “living with a famous father” theme — and turn it into something original, with well-drawn, in-depth characters. And then she stirs in some off-the-wall, highly cinematic scenes and adroit dialogue, just to keep you hooked.


Griffiths, Elly. The Ghost Fields.

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2015.

This is the seventh in an above-average series of murder mysteries featuring forensic archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway of northern Norfolk, and it’s a good deal spookier than most of the previous books. Because of its location, Norfolk hosted a number of Allied airfields during World War II, and there were the expected number of crashed aircraft and lost pilots, so it doesn’t really surprise anyone when an earth-moving machine uncovers a buried P-51 Mustang near the beach while leveling the ground for a housing development.


Gaiman, Neil, Fábio Moon, & Gabriel Bá. How to Talk to Girls at Parties.

Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Books, 2016.

In 2006, Neil wrote a short story by this title, and it was nominated for a Hugo. A decade later, he teamed up with two of the most original graphic artists around and they produced a visual rendition of the story that works so well, you’ll be replaying it in your head for weeks afterward. It’s about a couple of young lads, see, in south London in the early ’80s, who are out looking for a party that Vic — the experienced player of the two — has heard about.


French, Nicci. Blue Monday.

NY: Penguin, 2013.

This is the first in a new (well, new to me) mystery-thriller series set in London and featuring psychoanalyst Dr. Frieda Klein, who has nearly as many personal boogeymen as some of her patients. She’s a loner, doesn’t own a cell phone, and tries to relieve her frequent insomnia with long night-walks through the city. (She especially likes to trace the course of the underground and nearly forgotten River Fleet.)