Kay, Elliott. Poor Man’s Fight.

NY: Skyscrape, 2015.

This space opera epic is the debut work by an author I discovered through Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. It was a free read and I wasn’t expecting a lot — but I was surprised and delighted at how good it is. It includes some of the most hair-raising, throat-grabbing, headlong, blood-and-guts adventure writing I’ve read in years. It will remind you a little of Heinlein, and a little of Corey, and when you reach the 80% point, you should plan on putting the rest of your life on hold for awhile, because you aren’t going to want any interruptions.

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Buxbaum, Julie. What to Say Next.

NY: Delacorte, 2017.

This is a much deeper and more thoughtful examination of high school romance than most I’ve seen. David Drucker is a very high-functioning borderline autistic whose life has long been made hell by classmates sneering at him as a “retard,” when he actually has the highest IQ of any kid in the school. He copes with the outside world by wearing headphones that surround him with music as he walks from one class to another, and by referring regularly to his notebook of rules and character sketches of everyone he interacts with.

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Stevenson, Noelle. Nimona.

NY: Harper, 2015.

EXPLOSIONS! SCIENCE! SHARKS! NERDS! SYMBOLISM! Yep, that’s the kind of graphic novel this is. It won a bunch of awards, not only from other artists but from its (mostly) teenage readers, as well. Lord Ambrosius Goldenloin is the Official Hero here and Lord Ballister Blackheart is the Bad Guy, but neither of them is really terrible — even though the former hacked off the latter’s arm back when they were students together. Now, Ambrosius works for the Institution while Blackheart tries to keep the kingdom’s growing police state from impinging on its subjects any further.

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Jemisin, N. K. The Awakened Kingdom.

NY: Orbit Books, 2014.

If you enjoyed Jemisin’s “Inheritance” trilogy as much as I did, then you will certainly want to read this shorter sequel. She calls it a novella, but at 250 pages, I regard it as a novel.

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Published in: on 29 April 2018 at 9:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Stratford, Sarah-Jane. Radio Girls.

NY: New American Library, 2016.

It’s the fall of 1926 and young Maisie Musgrave, born in Toronto and raised in New York by whomever her actress mother was able to dump her on, has returned to her adopted home of London. Moreover, after several years as one of the barely-working poor, she has just been hired as a secretary at the four-year-old BBC up on Savoy Hill. Mostly, she’s the typing assistant to the executive assistant to the Director General, John Reith, who hates being forced to hire so many women.

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Atwood, Margaret. Moral Disorder and Other Stories.

NY: Random House, 2006.

To my mind, Margaret Atwood is one of the very best living writers in English and has been for some time. Her novels are never less than first-rate, and so too are most of her short stories. Not that many people are equally good at both. This volume actually falls somewhere between the two forms. The stories were written and originally published separately, and over a period of years, but they all are episodes from the life of Nell, a Canadian woman now (apparently) in her seventies, as she looks back and remembers her life.

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Published in: on 16 April 2018 at 4:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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Egan, Jennifer. Manhattan Beach.

NY: Scribner, 2017.

I was aware that one of Egan’s previous novels had won a Pulitzer, and that the others had all been shortlisted for one major award or another, but somehow, I hadn’t actually gotten around to reading any of them until now. But I’m a sucker for a good historical, and this one is set on the Brooklyn home front during World War II, and it’s extremely well written.

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Zarr, Sara & Tara Altebrando. Roomies.

NY: Little, Brown, 2013.

Lauren Cole of New Jersey has just graduated from high school and is headed for UC-Berkeley in a couple of months. She’s an only child, living with her neurotic mother, her father having left them years before when he discovered he was gay. She can’t wait to escape to the West Coast. Elizabeth Logan of San Francisco is also headed for Cal, which is only twenty-five miles away for her, but it’s still an escape. She’s one of six kids, the other five all being very young, so that she’s more or less an assistant parent. She loves her family but she can’t wait to get away, too.

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Published in: on 28 February 2018 at 1:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Jemisin, N. K. The Kingdom of Gods.

NY: Orbit, 2011.

The most common pattern for a fiction trilogy is for a good deal of action and the introduction of strong characters in the first volume (to hook the reader), extended plot development and a relative lull in action in the second volume (the “bridge”), and a wrapping-up of everything in the third volume. Jemisin declines to follow that well-worn path, though.

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Dessen, Sarah. Once and for All.

NY: Viking, 2017.

Dessen’s latest YA novel easily maintains the high standards set by its predecessors. The protagonist in each of her books is usually part of an unusual setting, which adds interest for the reader in addition to her romantic adventures. At seventeen, Louna Barrett has been deeply immersed in the wedding business for nearly a decade, thanks to her mother’s busy schedule. “A Natalie Barrett Wedding” is always a big deal and usually pretty expensive, so the pressure is always on.

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Published in: on 29 December 2017 at 9:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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