Bagieu, Penelope. California Dreamin’.

NY: First Second, 2017.

This is one of those books that’s going to mean quite different things to you depending on how old you are. I grew up in Texas in the ’50s, a much bigger fan of Jerry Lee than of Elvis, and I had no use at all for those floppy-haired guys from England with all their “yeah, yeah, yeah.” And then I went to Northern California for a couple of years in the early ’60s just as beach-rock and folk music was being invented. I saw Baez in concert. PP&M came and played on campus for free, just for laughs.



Rothfuss, Patrick. The Wise Man’s Fear.

NY: DAW, 2011.

The first volume of this engrossing fantasy trilogy-to-be ran close to 700 pages and it took me longer than usual to read because I took my time and thought about what I was reading. Rothfuss’s multilayered style has that effect. This second volume is 1,000 pages even and, again, I took my time. The Chronicler has come to Kvothe’s small-town inn in search of his story, which the legend-covered man known as “King-Killer” decides it’s time to tell, in all its many facets.


Published in: on 24 December 2017 at 8:18 am  Leave a Comment  

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.


Dessen, Sarah. Just Listen.

NY: Viking, 2006.

I’ve become hooked recently on Dessen’s highly literate YA novels, and this one is one of her best so far. Even though I’m a grandparent, I’m also a lifelong librarian and recommender of books to all sorts of readers, and that includes teenagers, so the purported target readership doesn’t faze me. A book is either well-written or not.


Published in: on 22 June 2017 at 11:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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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.


Cline, Ernest. Armada.

NY: Crown, 2015.

There’s a syndrome that attacks many new authors: The Sophomore Novel Blues. That blockbuster first book turns out to be difficult to replicate and the second one is a disappointment. Cline’s first effort, Ready Player One, was a hoot and a half, a combination of science fiction and gamer-geek nostalgia. This one obviously comes out of the same sort of authorial experience, but while it isn’t an actual failure, it isn’t nearly as satisfying — especially the first half.


Lovesey, Peter. The Tooth Tattoo.

NY: Soho Press, 2013.

This twelfth book about Detective Superintendent of Bath CID is one of the more successful ones in the latter part of the series. (Diamond wasn’t a very sympathetic character in the first couple, but he got better.) The topical theme this time is classical chamber music, a very attenuated world which Lovesey obviously knows a good deal about. (He’s big on theater, too.)


Published in: on 1 February 2016 at 12:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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Penny, Louise. The Beautiful Mystery.

NY: St. Martin, 2012.

I’ve enjoyed all seven of the previous novels about Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Quebec Sûreté, even when the author goes a little over the top regarding the mysticism of art, because there’s always the down-to-earth murder investigation to balance things. But I don’t quite know what to make of this one.


Lippman, Laura. In Big Trouble.

NY: HarperCollins, 2006.

Most novelists seem eventually to write a “road trip” book and this is Lippman’s. Tess Monaghan, girl reporter turned PI, knows practically everything there is to know about her native Baltimore, but she doesn’t enjoy travel much nor is she into exploring new places.


Leonard, Elmore. Be Cool.

NY: Delacorte, 1999.

Sequels are a well-known potential trap for both novelists and film-makers. “Hey, that one went over really well. I think I’ll do another one just like that, only different.” This romp is, of course, the not-quite-so-successful sequel to one of Leonard’s best books, Get Shorty, in which loan shark Chili Palmer becomes a Hollywood movie producer, making a film based on his actual activities in collecting a debt from a gambler named Leo and getting mixed up with some seriously bad guys.


Published in: on 7 October 2014 at 6:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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