Indriðason, Arnaldur. Reykjavik Nights.

NY: St. Martin, 2015.

I’ve read several of this author’s novels about homicide detective Erlendur Sveinsson of the Reykjavik CID, and they’re pretty good — in a rather dour, classically Scandinavian way. But this is the first one in a new sub-series about Erlendur’s early career, set in 1974, when Iceland celebrated the 1,100th anniversary of its first settlement. He’s a young cop in uniform, mostly handling traffic incidents, driving a police van around town on call on the night shift.

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Smith, Jennifer E. The Geography of You and Me.

NY: Little, Brown, 2014.

Smith has become one of my favorite authors of Young Adult novels. She writes unabashed, deeply affecting romances and she does it very, very well. Lucy is sixteen and has lived all her life on the twenty-fourth floor of a very nice New York apartment building. Owen is seventeen, the son of the building’s new super, and he lives in a dark flat in the basement. It’s the first of September, the day before the school year starts, and Lucy’s parents have left her alone — again — while they go off to Paris.

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Sloan, Robin. Sourdough, or, Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market.

NY: MCD Books, 2017.

The short and sweet of it is, this is a really lovely book. If you’ve read Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore (and you should have by now), you are already aware of the high quality of storytelling of which Sloan is capable and the originality and sheer beauty of the prose with which he delivers it. This book is chockfull of such writing. In Mr. Penumbra, he explored the intersection between the worlds of very old books and very new tech. This time, it’s innovative tech meets innovative foodways.

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Published in: on 20 June 2019 at 4:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Hirsh, Ananth & Yujo Ota. Lucky Penny.

Portland, OR: Oni Pressm 2016.

This graphic novel is very much in the old style, and very funny, too. Penny Brighton is in her early twenties, single, and a walking disaster area. She’s convinced she’s bad luck for everyone around her, and she may be right. She gets fired from her department store job the same day she loses her apartment.

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Doughton, Autumn & Erica Cope. Steering the Stars.

np: Amazon Digital Services, 2015.

Budding writer Hannah Vaughn is about to start her junior year in a backwater Oklahoma high school, but she has dreams. And one of them comes true when she wins a competition to attend a private school in London with a highly-regarded creative writing program. She’ll be glad to get away from her mother and brother, and also the boy friend from whom she has recently probably broken up (He couldn’t understand why she would ever want to leave Oklahoma. . . .)

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Chaffee, Graham. Good Dog.

Seattle: Fantagraphics, 2013.

This a nicely laid-back graphic novel, a good way to relax for an afternoon. Ivan is just a nondescript yellow dog, not that old, not that bright, a stray all his life, and mostly just wishing he had a human to tell him what to do. His strange dreams drive him crazy, and so do those stupid chickens.

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Published in: on 22 May 2019 at 1:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Lovett, Charlie. The Lost Book of the Grail.

NY: Penguin, 2017.

I’m a book lover and always have been, so a well-written, well-plotted intellectual thriller about librarians and bibliophiles is exactly my cup of tea. This is Lovett’s third novel of that sort — the first two being the very enjoyable The Bookman’s Tale (involving Shakespeare) and First Impressions (Jane Austen)– and this one is well up to that standard.

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Whaley, John Corey. Highly Illogical Behavior.

NY: Penguin, 2014.

This is a new author for me but I’m quite impressed with his work. The story is about sixteen-year-old Solomon Reed who hasn’t left the house in three years, and it works for him. He’s acutely agoraphobic, the result of a serious panic disorder, and simply walling himself off from the outside world is his solution to his problem. His parents have decided to accept the situation — they even provide homeschooling — though they keep hoping for changes in the future.

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Spinelli, Jerry. The Warden’s Daughter.

NY: Knopf, 2017.

Ever since reading Stargirl, I’ve been rather taken with Spinelli’s considerable skills as a highly original storyteller, recounting the ordinary lives of very unusual young people. The story this time is set in 1959 and focuses on twelve-year-old Cammie O’Reilly, only child of the warden of a large county prison in a fictional small town in the Schuylkill Valley of eastern Pennsylvania.

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Lockhart, E. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.

NY: Hyperion, 2008.

I had read Lockhart’s The Boyfriend List and its several sequels and enjoyed them. They were well-written and very funny. But this one is far more mature for a YA novel, more serious in its subject matter, and also unusual in its method. There’s a reason it was a National Book Award finalist. And Frankie is one of the most fascinating characters I’ve met in some time.

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