Tamaki, Mariko & Rosemary Valero-O’Connell. Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me.

NY: First Second, 2019.

This is the other kind of graphic novel, the kind that’s as far from a “comic book” as it’s possible to get. The kind that could as easily be a text-only novel, but in which the story really is enhanced by the art. The protagonist is Frederica Riley, a seventeen-year-old Berkeley lesbian, who has been in love with Laura Dean, the most popular girl in school, for a year now. And Laura is a crappy girlfriend.

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Kowal, Mary Robinette. The Calculating Stars.

NY: Tor, 2018.

Suppose Thomas Dewey beat Truman in the Election of 1948, and suppose President Dewey was much more willing to throw money at the nascent space program. And then suppose an asteroid smacked into the Earth just off Chesapeake Bay and obliterated the eastern seaboard, including Washington, D.C. and the entire American government, leaving the Secretary of Agriculture (who was on a Midwestern farm tour) as the new president. (more…)

Goldberg, Lee. Lost Hills.

Seattle: Thomas Mercer, 2019.

Goldberg has written more than thirty novels, mostly mysteries and thrillers, and has won two Edgars and a number of other awards. This is the first episode in a new series and the character-handling and the writing in general are as skilled as you would expect.

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Allison, John. Giant Days. Vols. 1-12 + Early Admission [prequel].

Los Angeles: BOOM! Box, 2015-20.

This is one of the most entertaining and real-world-funny graphic novel series I’ve seen in some time, following three young British women through their careers at university, one term at a time. Susan Ptolemy is pre-med, doesn’t have much use for boys (with a couple of special exceptions), and has a tongue like a sardonic buzz-saw when she’s provoked — and she provokes easily.

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Crombie, Deborah. A Bitter Feast.

NY: HarperCollins, 2019.

This is the 18th episode in the pretty good crime series featuring Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid and his wife, DI Gemma James, both of the Met in London. This series has been running since 1993 and I was beginning to think that perhaps that was long enough. The plots, frankly, were beginning to get a bit thin.

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Published in: on 27 January 2020 at 5:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
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McDonald, Abby. Getting Over Garrett Delaney.

Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press 2012.

In some ways, this YA novel is one of the lighter ones — no deaths or other family tragedies — and it’s pretty good. Sadie is seventeen and has had a crush on Garrett for most of her life. He doesn’t see her that way, though, so she long ago settled for being best friends. She’ll take what she can get — though she hates it when he keeps coming to her for advice on the latest girl he’s fallen for.

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Published in: on 18 January 2020 at 1:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Knisley, Lucy. Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Cheerful Chaos.

NY: First Second, 2019.

Lucy Knisley (pronounced “Nighz-lee”) has become something of a graphic novel phenomenon, beginning with her first book, French Milk, published when she was in her early twenties. Ten years and six books later, she’s pretty much unstoppable — and that’s a good thing, because she does really great work, all of it spun out of the often ordinary-seeming experiences of her own life.

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McDermid, Val. The Mermaids Singing.

NY: HarperCollins, 1995.

McDermid is one of the best writers of crime fiction around, and she’s about as far from Agatha Christie as one can get. Her settings are often gray and working-class and her plots are gritty and generally assume the worst about human nature. She’s a realist, in other words.

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Schlereth, Thomas J. Victorian America: Transformations in Everyday Life, 1876-1915.

NY: HarperCollins, 1991.

I’ve been fascinated by history since adolescence, and I ended up with a couple of degrees in it, but my preference has always been for social history and material history. Not kings and treaties and the broad sweep of anonymous events but intimate, everyday, “people next door” history. And that also laps over into the areas of local history and genealogy, and also archival management, in all of which I spent most of my career.

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Griffiths, Elly. The Woman in Blue.

Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2016.

This is the eighth volume in the very enjoyable murder mystery series featuring archaeologist Ruth Galloway of Norfolk, but it’s a bit unlike the earlier ones in that the archaeological component is almost nonexistent. It’s still a good story, though.

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