Ellis, J. R. The Quartet Murders.

Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2018.

This is the second in a reasonably enjoyable new police procedural mystery series set in Yorkshire, featuring DCI Jim Oldroyd, an old-style Yorkshireman through and through (even with his Oxford degree) and his young Detective Sergeant recently transferred up from London, but who is coming to prefer the Dales to the Smoke.


Published in: on 30 August 2019 at 3:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mason, Lizzy. The Art of Losing.

NY: Soho Press, 2019.

This is the author’s first novel, and it definitely reads like it. She has a point to make — a mission, really, apparently based on personal experiences — and she makes it, good and hard. The theme, which she states explicitly right up-front, is the dangers of teenage addiction, especially to alcohol. Which (as a father of three) I have to agree with. And I’ve never understood why getting falling-down drunk and throwing up on your shoes, and then processing a hangover, is supposed to be so much fun.


Published in: on 27 August 2019 at 4:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cline, Eric H. The Trojan War: A Very Short Introduction.

NY: Oxford University Press, 2013.

I’ve read maybe twenty of the volumes of the perhaps 350 now available in this excellent, inexpensive series and have found almost all of them to be well above average in accuracy and quality of writing. Cline is chairman of the Classics Department at George Washington University and a well-regarded author in that field.


Published in: on 24 August 2019 at 3:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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LeGuin, Ursula. Lavinia.

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008.

LeGuin was best known, of course, for her innovative, highly intelligent science fiction, but she also produced some very poetic historical fiction. The classics aren’t taught any longer, so not many younger readers will ever have heard of Virgil or the Aeneid, but that’s the subject of her last novel.


Published in: on 20 August 2019 at 4:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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Kirby, Jessi. Things We Know by Heart.

NY: HarperCollins, 2015.

This is a new author for me, and this is not her first book, but I’m impressed with both her style and her ability to construct an unusual but convincing plot. The focus is Quinn Sullivan, now seventeen, whose life on the Southern California coast seemed perfect until her boyfriend of three years was killed. She thought she’d be spending all the rest of her life with Trent, but now it’s Day 400 since he died, and Quinn still can’t get her life back.


Published in: on 17 August 2019 at 3:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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Kingsley, Sean A. God’s Gold: A Quest for the Lost Temple Treasures of Jerusalem.

NY HarperCollins, 2007.

Historical mysteries — unanswered questions and unsolved puzzles about dramatic events in the past — are always of interest, and the fate of the religious treasures looted by the Tenth Legion from the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. is one of the best-known. The Jews, led by the Zealots, had made the mistake of rebelling against Roman rule and the Emperor Vespasian came down on them very hard. He instructed his son, Titus, to destroy the city, and he did, with most of the population being either killed outright or taken off into slavery.


Published in: on 13 August 2019 at 5:59 am  Comments (1)  
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Cannon, Kevin. Far Arden.

Marietta, GA: Top Shelf Productions, 2009.

At more than 500 pages, this is certainly one of the fattest graphic novels I’ve attempted. It also has a very complex plot and a large array of characters, so you’ll have to pay attention — but it’s worth the effort. The setting is Nunavut in Canada’s Arctic north, but the story takes place in a world at right angles to our own.


Niven, Jennifer. All the Bright Places.

NY: Random House, 2015.

I’ve become a real fan of this author’s YA fiction, which is not only always well-written but deals with serious subjects. Niven doesn’t do frothy romances. She wants her readers to think about the important issues inherent in growing up. This one opens with Theodore Finch, high school senior in small-town Indiana, on the ledge of his school’s four-story-high clock tower, contemplating what it would feel like if he stepped off into space. It’s not really about actually killing himself, but about being in control of the decisions in his life.


Grossman, Lev. The Magician’s Land.

NY: Viking, 2014.

This is the concluding volume of a very above-average — and very adult — fantasy trilogy about the other world of magic that coexists with our mundane Earth, and it’s a very satisfying read. Volume Two told the story of Quentin Coldwater post-Brakebills, and this one is about his less happy life post-Filory. Because he’s been exiled from the only place he ever really wanted to be, and the future is looking pretty grim.


Published in: on 2 August 2019 at 4:24 am  Leave a Comment