E. Nesbit: Five Children and It

I learned about E. Nesbit and Five Children and It from Delia Sherman’s The Freedom Maze, which predisposed me to wonder if the reason I didn’t know Nesbit’s name while I did know the names Baum, Barrie, Lofting, Grahame, etc. was rooted in sexism. (Then again, I did know the names Travers and Norton.) AfterContinue reading “E. Nesbit: Five Children and It”

Laurie Notaro: Spooky Little Girl

I found Spooky Little Girl frustrating. It’s not that it’s bad, exactly, but I feel like there’s a much stronger and sharper book stuck inside it. It offers a nifty reversal on a traditional ghost story plot driver: instead of the living figuring out why they are being haunted, Lucy has to figure out whyContinue reading “Laurie Notaro: Spooky Little Girl”

Emily Cheney Neville: It’s Like This, Cat

Given that at one point I was consciously trying to read all the Newbery award winning books and that I have always considered prominent feline presences in literature a draw, I’m really not sure how I missed reading It’s Like This, Cat until now, but’s an omission I’m happy to have rectified. Neville doesn’t compromiseContinue reading “Emily Cheney Neville: It’s Like This, Cat”

Karen Novak: Innocence

Karen Novak’s creepy suspense novel Innocence impressed me on several levels. It has some vividly drawn characters, and a twisty plot that managed to surprise me more than once. It has an unusual structure, employing shifts of narrative perspective and chronology to build dramatic tension. And Novak’s prose evinces both an eye for interesting detailContinue reading “Karen Novak: Innocence”

Audrey Niffenegger: Her Fearful Symmetry

Note: I didn’t read the book jacket blurb, or anything else about Her Fearful Symmetry, before reading it. As a result I enjoyed some surprises in this novel that other reviewers or copywriters have revealed. I don’t think Her Fearful Symmetry is so dependent on all its twists that it can’t withstand some spoilers, butContinue reading “Audrey Niffenegger: Her Fearful Symmetry”

Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler’s Wife

I loved this book almost unreservedly — it’s easily one of the 5 or 6 best novels I’ve read so far this year. The title is very literally descriptive: it’s the chronicle of Henry and Clare’s relationship. Henry jumps around in time (involuntarily, sometimes forward, mostly backward, mostly within his own lifespan); Clare moves linearlyContinue reading “Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler’s Wife”

Garth Nix: Shade’s Children

Back in 1999, members of a mailing list I was on traded book recommendations. Several of the novels I read as a result (among them Hulme’s The Bone People, Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina, Dunn’s Geek Love, Ryman’s Was, Carroll’s Outside the Dog Museum, Powers’ The Goldbug Variations, and Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the EndContinue reading “Garth Nix: Shade’s Children”

Karen Novak: Five Mile House

Karen Novak’s Five Mile House is unambiguously a ghost story, even a haunted house story — one of the narrative voices belongs to a ghost, and provides the novel with its arresting opening sentences: I am Eleanor, and I, like this house, am haunted. I died when I fell from this tower, that window. ItContinue reading “Karen Novak: Five Mile House”