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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Audley, Anselm & Elizabeth Edmondson. A Matter of Loyalty.

Seattle: Thomas & Mercer, 2017.

Elizabeth Edmondson doesn’t seem to be a very widely known author, but she’s a very good one — for all that I only discovered her stuff myself through Kindle Unlimited. She’s done a number of “suspense-romance” novels and then the “Classic English Mysteries” of which this is the third installment — and also, unfortunately, the last, since the author died in the middle of the first draft.

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Robinson, Peter. Sleeping in the Ground.

NY: Morrow, 2017.

Robinson’s first-rate mystery series featuring DCI Alan Banks of Yorkshire has always been heavy on police procedural details when it comes to crime-solving, and this 24th episode is no exception. Banks is coming home from the funeral of a woman he hasn’t seen in forty years — the first girl he was every really in love with, back in college — when he gets word there’s been a shooting at a country wedding on his patch.

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Cho, Michael. Shoplifter.

NY: Pantheon, 2014.

This not-long graphic novel isn’t even close to an epic. No superheroes, not even especially unusual characters. A “quiet” story, as they say, but it’s quite well done. Corinna Park is a Korean-Canadian in her mid-20s who is burning out in her job with an ad agency. Does she really want to keep pitching perfume to nine-year-old girls? But what else can you do to pay the bills in the big city with a degree in English Lit? (She’d rather be a novelist, but. . . .)

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Published in: on 26 April 2018 at 4:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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Brown, Chester. Paying for It.

Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2011.

Chester, who lives and works in Toronto, has been a working cartoonist for quite a long time and his books tend to serious subjects and transparent honesty. The subtitle here is “A Comic-Strip Memoir About Being a John,” and that’s exactly what it is. When he broke up with his third long-term girlfriend (though they kept living together), he decided enough was enough: No more traditional relationships. It wasn’t worth it.

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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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Moebius. The World of Edena.

Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Books, 2016.

Like most Americans of my generation, I first discovered French graphic novelist Moebius (whose real name was Jean Giraud, and who died in 2012) in the highly innovative and much-mourned Heavy Metal Magazine. His work, like that of his European peers, was a far cry from the DC approach to comics. This epic (it runs to 360 pages) started out in 1983 as a contracted series for the Citroen car company, whose vehicles were always very “French” in design. But then it took off on its own and the resultant volume became an overnight collector’s item.

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Published in: on 10 April 2018 at 7:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Corey, James S. A. Nemesis Games.

NY: Little, Brown, 2015.

This is the fifth volume in what has become one of the best-written space opera adventures to appear in many years. By this point, the reader has become thoroughly invested in the four main characters, as well as the half-dozen recurring supporting players, and there’s a tendency to hold one’s breath at key points in the story — because there’s never a guarantee than everyone will survive.

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