Tilney, Alexander. The Expectations.

NY: Little, Brown, 2019.

This is Tilney’s debut novel and it’s a doozy — funny, emotional, redolent of the 1990s, and deeply involving. The St. James School in New Hampshire is one of the top prep schools in New England and Ben Weeks’s father, grandfather, and all his other male relatives have attended there since the first class of six graduated in 1856.


Published in: on 31 October 2019 at 10:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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Schlereth, Thomas J. Victorian America: Transformations in Everyday Life, 1876-1915.

NY: HarperCollins, 1991.

I’ve been fascinated by history since adolescence, and I ended up with a couple of degrees in it, but my preference has always been for social history and material history. Not kings and treaties and the broad sweep of anonymous events but intimate, everyday, “people next door” history. And that also laps over into the areas of local history and genealogy, and also archival management, in all of which I spent most of my career.


Hicks, Faith Erin. Comics Will Break Your Heart.

NY: Roaring Brook Press, 2019.

Hicks is herself a well-regarded graphic novelist, so her first text-only young adult novel, about the youngest generation of two families caught up in the history of the comic book industry, is a perfect fit. Sixteen-year-old Miriam Kendrick, who has lived all her life in the small, fading, seaside industrial town of Sandford, Nova Scotia.


Published in: on 25 October 2019 at 3:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Parker, K. J. The Two of Swords: Vols. 1, 2 & 3.

NY: Orbit 2015-17.

I so enjoyed Parker’s most recent book, Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, that I immediately went looking for his earlier work. And I found this three-volume epic, and it’s a doozy. The whole thing runs to some 1,500 pages, by the way, so carve yourself out some uninterrupted time for it.


Kirby, Jessi. Moonglass.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2011.

It’s not easy writing a novel, and anyone who has done it tends to be generous in judging someone else’s debut work. That really isn’t necessary in this case, though, because Kirby does a generally first-class job of telling her story. At sixteen and about to be a high school junior, Anna Ryan has spent her entire Southern California life within the sound of the surf.


Published in: on 18 October 2019 at 1:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Jensen, Jeff. Green River Killer. 2d ed.

Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Books, 2019.

As Brian Bendis notes in his introduction, there are lots of stories out there that could told by anyone with the talent. But there are also certain stories that only one person could tell properly, and this is one of those. Jeff Jensen is an entertainment journalist, which means he knows how to write, in the stringing-the-words-together sense. But his father is Tom Jensen, a now-retired detective for thirty years with the King County, Washington, sheriff’s department.


Winslow, Don. The Winter of Frankie Machine.

NY: Knopf, 2006.

Winslow is a new author to me but I’ll certainly be looking up his other work because this is one of the best-written and most originally plotted crime novels I’ve read in years. Frank Machianno is a lifelong San Diegan and even at sixty-two, he’s busy, busy, busy.


Kenneally, Miranda. Stealing Parker.

Napierville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2012.

This is one of the early entries in this author’s “Hundred Oaks High School” YA series, all of which are set in Franklin, Tennessee, near Nashville. It’s typical small-town Tennessee, with way too many fundamentalist churches, which is an important part of the plot this time.


Kindt, Matt. Divinity.

NY: Valiant Entertainment, 2015.

This volume collects the first four issues of a semi-superhero comic that got effusive reviews — but I really don’t know why, because it doesn’t work at all. It seems that back around 1960, the Soviets sent off a top secret one-man mission into the far depths of space. (How they managed that when neither Russia nor the U.S. had even put a man into Earth orbit yet is never explained.)


Griffiths, Elly. The Woman in Blue.

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2016.

This is the eighth volume in the very enjoyable murder mystery series featuring archaeologist Ruth Galloway of Norfolk, but it’s a bit unlike the earlier ones in that the archaeological component is almost nonexistent. It’s still a good story, though.