Julie Powell: Julie & Julia

I read this at least partly to challenge my own preconceptions about what kind of books I read. This is a non-cookbook about cooking — worse, French cooking, although I didn’t realize quite how meat-intensive it would actually be. But it’s also a book about a crazy challenge — specifically, cooking every recipe in JuliaContinue reading “Julie Powell: Julie & Julia”

Lindsey Davis; Silver Pigs

Silver Pigs is a hard-boiled historical mystery set in ancient Rome, specifically, in the reign of Vespasian, just after the turbulence that followed Nero’s death. I’ve frequently enjoyed historical mysteries, but they rarely succeed for me on both levels — either the period detail is compelling and the mystery is a bit slight, or theContinue reading “Lindsey Davis; Silver Pigs”

Dianna Wynne Jones: Dark Lord of Derkholm

The central premise of Dark Lord of Derkholm seems like such a natural hook on which to hang a comic fantasy that I’m surprised it hasn’t been done to death: there’s a big market for people who want to play at being a Frodo-style hero, triumphing over fearsome evil against long odds, so generic fantasylandsContinue reading “Dianna Wynne Jones: Dark Lord of Derkholm”

Delia Sherman: Changeling

I enjoyed Delia Sherman’s young-adult fantasy Changeling quite a bit. It’s the story of Neef, who was kidnapped from the mortal world at birth to dwell in the fantastic “New York Between,” and raised as a sort of second-class citizen of Faerie. This is perhaps tired territory, but Sherman manages neat twists on some veryContinue reading “Delia Sherman: Changeling”

Justine Larbalestier: Magic Lessons

I think it would probably occur to me to compare and contrast the first two volumes of Larbalestier’s “Magic or Madness” trilogy with the first two books of Scott Westerfeld’s “Midnighters” trilogy even if I didn’t know the two authors were partners. Many novels feature teenage protagonists simultaneously blessed and cursed with special powers, butContinue reading “Justine Larbalestier: Magic Lessons”

Maureen Johnson: Devilish

Maureen Johnson’s Devilish commanded my attention as soon as I heard first of it (via Westerblog, of course). The potent combo of demonic subject matter, a Providence RI setting, and a cover that evokes one of my favorite Penelope Houston albums added up to a heaping helping of positive associations and I requested Devilish fromContinue reading “Maureen Johnson: Devilish”

Diana Peterfreund: Secret Society Girl

I’ve been on such a major Scott Westerfeld kick for most of this year that not only am I reading everything of his I can get my hands on, I’m subscribed to the Westerblog and I read some of the other young adult books he talks up there, too. Here’s one: Diana Peterfreund’s debut novelContinue reading “Diana Peterfreund: Secret Society Girl”

Stanislaw Lem: Mortal Engines

Stanislaw Lem is one of the many authors I’ve always meant to read something by. I’ve even picked up a handful of his books over the years with noble intentions of follow-through which have, to-date, gone unfufilled. So picking Lem’s Mortal Engine from the freebie box I’d commited to availing myself of only if IContinue reading “Stanislaw Lem: Mortal Engines”

Michael Shea: The Incompleat Nifft

Once upon a time (in the 1940s), Mssrs deCamp and Pratt teamed up to write a series of short novels about the magical misadventures of one Harold Shea. The tales had a proto-post-modern spin to them: Shea would get transported into myths and pre-copyright stories like Spenser’s Faerie Queene. The Shea stories have an absurdlyContinue reading “Michael Shea: The Incompleat Nifft”