Wells, Martha. Artificial Condition.

NY: Macmillan/Tom Doherty, 2018.

I got hooked on All Systems Red, the first volume of the “Murderbot Diaries,” and I’ve been looking forward to this one, but it’s somehow less satisfying than I had expected. Perhaps it’s because we already know a lot about the protagonist now, and the strange circumstances that govern his life, but this second adventure just doesn’t seem to have quite the same kick.



Miller, Madeline. Circe.

NY: Little, Brown, 2018.

I’m pretty demanding when it comes to historical fiction, and I read a lot of it, but I was pretty much blown away by Miller’s first novel, The Song of Achilles. And now she’s done it again. Both books are now in my “Top Ten Historicals” list. This one is somewhat different from the first book, too, in that the protagonist (and most of the other characters, for that matter) isn’t even mortal. She’s Circe (“Hawk”), daughter of Helios, the Titan sun god, and a nymph, and she doesn’t have much power compared to the arrogant Olympians, but she knows how to use what she’s got.


Shusterman, Neal. Scythe.

NY: Simon & Schuster, 2016.

This is one of the more innovative and original SF novels I’ve read recently. I thought, from the jacket copy, that it would be fantasy, but it’s actually pretty “hard” science fiction, set maybe three centuries in our future. It seems that in 2040, the “cloud” of data — the Internet and everything else — reaches the tipping point and becomes sentient, and that’s the end of the old random world. Because humans are now virtually immortal, you can be revived from almost any sort of death, short of complete destruction of the body by fire.


Prince, Liz. Tomboy.

San Francisco: Zest Books, 2014.

The author calls herself “an autobiographical cartoonist,” and this is the story of her struggle to get through childhood — but from a very particular perspective. Liz was always a “tomboy.” Meaning, actually, that she always wanted to somehow BE a boy.


Knisley, Lucy. Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride.

NY: First Second, 2016.

I’ve been a fan of Lucy’s graphic memoirs since French Milk, and this nearly 300-page volume is sort of the culmination, her graduation into what she thinks of as “real” adulthood. She’s been relatively successful, too, with four books out before her 30th birthday, strong praise for all of them, and undoubtedly more to come. If you’ve read all her books over the past decade, you know that she and a guy named John were happily together in Chicago for five years while she attended the Art Institute and he made his first assault on the tech world. (They both revel in being self-declared nerds.)


Published in: on 26 September 2018 at 8:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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Larsson, Stieg. The Girl Who Played with Fire.

NY: Knopf, 2009.

More than a decade ago, I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first in Larsson’s best-selling posthumous trilogy set in Sweden, and I loved it. A very complex, multi-plotted murder mystery with involving and highly original characters — especially Lisbeth Salander, the near-genius hacker with a decidedly warped view of the world (with good reason) and a very strong sense of justice. But for a variety of reasons, I never got around to reading the two subsequent books.


Miller, Madeline. The Song of Achilles.

NY: Bloomsbury, 2011.

This was Miller’s first historical novel set in the ancient world and it made her noteworthy almost overnight. Her subject is the Western world’s oldest piece of fiction — Homer’s Iliad. The tragic hero of the ten-year war between the Greek states and Troy is Achilles, aristos achaion, the best of the Greeks, and his story is told by Patroclus, exiled son of the bitter King Menoitius.


Carlson, David L. & Landis Blair. The Hunting Accident: A True Story of Crime and Poetry.

NY: First Second, 2017.

If you’re in the market for a really involving graphic novel that will keep you absorbed for hours and have you hunting up background material so you can learn more, I strongly recommend this one. It’s the winter of 1959 in Chicago and ten-year-old Charlie Rizzo has just returned to live with his father following his divorced mother’s death in California. He doesn’t really know his father that well, except that he’s blind and writes poetry, but his mother and grandmother had felt the need to “save” Charlie from him five years earlier.


Arnold, Elana K. What Girls Are Made of.

Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 2017.

This is one of the stronger YA novels I’ve come across recently, and I suspect it won’t be to the taste of many teenage readers. “There’s no such thing as unconditional love,” Nina’s mother told her when she was fourteen. “I could stop loving you at any time.” Nina took that to heart when she finally acquired a boyfriend, and so she’s willing to do almost anything to keep him.


Published in: on 14 September 2018 at 6:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Ingolfsson, Viktor Arnar. Daybreak.

Las Vegas: AmazonCrossing, 2013 (first published 2005 in Icelandic).

I don’t know what it is about Scandinavian mystery writers, and about Icelandic writers in particular, but they’re both very similar to and very different from the classic Anglo-American police procedural. And Ingofsson is one of the best of them, so it’s a puzzle why this one had to wait eight years to be published in translation.


Published in: on 11 September 2018 at 10:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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