Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind.

NY: DAW, 2007.

I’ve been hearing good things about this author’s first fantasy novel, the first third of a trilogy, but I was delaying until the whole thing had been published so I wouldn’t have to wait between volumes to see what happens next. But the third volume has been very slow to appear, so I finally gave up and jumped in, and I’m glad I did. It’s an amazing book for any author, but even more so for a first book.



Rowell, Rainbow. Fangirl.

NY: St. Martin, 2013.

Rowell gets strong reviews for her YA novels, especially this one, so I thought I should take a look. Here we meet Cath from Omaha, a new freshman at the University of Nebraska, who is not at all sure she’ll be able to adapt to it. She doesn’t do well at all with new places, new people, or new experiences. She isn’t all that crazy about the Real World, for that matter.


Mackler, Carolyn. Infinite In Betweeen.

NY: HarperCollins, 2015.

This is the first of Mackler’s YA books I’ve read and it’s not bad. The structure is a little strange, but it seems to work. The focus is on five kids in a town in central New York as they make the journey through four years of high school. In freshman orientation, as an “ice-breaker,” all the new students are broken into groups of five to share some kind of socially useful activity.


Telgemeier, Raina. Drama.

NY: Scholastic, 2012.

I became a fan of this author’s graphic novels with Smile, about the young protagonist’s trials and tribulations following a dental accident. You wouldn’t think there would be much of an interesting story there, but it’s really about various aspects of growing up. My very discriminating adolescent granddaughter (who wears braces) loved it — and also the author’s next book, Sisters.


Cave, Roderick & Sara Ayad. The History of the Book in 100 Books.

Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books, 2014.

As a kid, I learned to appreciate books as physical artifacts, as much as for their content. In high school, I learned to love the smell of rare and used bookstores. And in library school, in the late 1960s, I finally took a few courses in the history of books and printing, where I learned about papermaking, the history and practice of typesetting, and the arts of illustration and bookbinding.


Castellucci, Cecil & Jim Rugg. Janes in Love.

NY: DC Comics, 2008.

This is the sequel to Plain Janes — though it doesn’t actually say that anywhere, and if you pick it up thinking it’s a standalone graphic novel, you will have no idea what’s going on. As background, Jane Beckles is a high school student transplanted from the big city to a small suburban town following the detonation of a terrorist bomb that put her in the hospital for awhile. Now she’s running a girl gang that creates public art projects at night, which the town’s cops and managers treat as vandalism.


Hassler, Jon. Staggerford.

NY: Atheneum, 1977.

Miles Pruitt is a native and lifelong resident of the small, ordinary town of Staggerford, Minnesota, somewhere on the highway between Fargo and Duluth. At thirty-five, he’s been teaching Senior English for twelve years at the same high school he himself graduated from — which means he has been depending on the school’s basement cafeteria for hot lunches for more than half his life.


Published in: on 23 April 2016 at 10:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Knisley, Lucy. Radiator Days.

Rhinebeck, NY: Epigraph Publishing, 2008.

Since discovering French Milk, her first graphic work, several years ago, I’ve become a solid fan of Lucy Knisley (pronounced “Nighsley,” silent “K”). She doesn’t do superheroes or abstract philosophy but concentrates almost entirely on retelling the events of her own life and experiences and what she’s learned from them. She’s had the sort of adventures any of us might have had, but she thinks a lot harder about what they mean.


Lovesey, Peter. Down Among the Dead Men.

NY: Soho Press, 2015.

Detective Superintendent Diamond of Bath CID has long suffered under his superior, ACC Georgina Dallymore, who demands the courtesies, tends to look down on the lower classes, and pursues budget details while Diamond pursues villains. In fact, the author paints her as a space-waster who seems to know very little about how to be a cop.


Published in: on 1 March 2016 at 7:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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Cleeves, Ann. Raven Black.

NY: St. Martin, 2006.

I happened to see the first episode of BBC Scotland’s “Shetland” on TV recently and was taken with the setting — the Shetland Islands, in the subarctic Atlantic northeast of Scotland. The story and the characters got my attention, in addition to the Islands themselves, so I picked up this first volume in the series of books on which the drama was based.