Andrea Phillips: The Daring Adventures of Captain Lucy Smokeheart (so far)

I wouldn’t normally write about a novel that’s half-complete, but I just tore through the available chapters of this serial novel-in-progress like a bag of movie popcorn, and this seems like a great jumping-on-point. I think the overall title does a fantastic job of setting expectations: Smokeheart sails in waters that remind me of ErrolContinue reading “Andrea Phillips: The Daring Adventures of Captain Lucy Smokeheart (so far)”

Mary Jo Pehl: Employee of the Month and Other Big Deals

This book was recommended to me as really uproarious, which I thought oversold it; It was a one-guffaw read for me. It’s a series of pseudo-autobiographical essays, recounted with some verve, but with not a lot to distinguish them from other amusing pseudo-autobiographical essays about mildly dysfunctional upbringings and somewhat stressful employment and dating experiences.Continue reading “Mary Jo Pehl: Employee of the Month and Other Big Deals”

Alexandra Potter: Me and Mr. Darcy

My parents, a scientist and a career academic, both have a fondness for Regency (i.e., historical and relatively chaste) romance novels that might seem at odds with their characters. If I remember right, on separate occasions, both described a fascination with the combinatorial aspect of the genre: all the allowed variations of the genre playingContinue reading “Alexandra Potter: Me and Mr. Darcy”

T. A. Pratt: Blood Engines

Blood Engines is a contemporary fantasy, but tonally the works it most reminded me of were Zelazny’s Amber books — especially the latter set centered around Merle — and Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos novels. Protagonist Marla Mason displays a similar flexible morality, penchant for multi-flavored mayhem, and degree of badassedness. There’s also a dash ofContinue reading “T. A. Pratt: Blood Engines”

Jane Palmer: The Watcher

The Watcher is a little slippery. If I described the bones of its plot or its characters (which include a planet threatened with destruction from an energy-being, time travel, sea monsters, and a conveniently bulletproof resident of Earth) it would sound either like a pulp-era space opera, or a consciously zany send-up of same (perhapsContinue reading “Jane Palmer: The Watcher”

Tom Perrotta: The Leftovers

More than a week later, I’m still not really sure what I think of The Leftovers. In some ways its upper middle class suburban lifestyle satire struck me as thematically similar to Little Children, with the addition of its major background plot element: it takes place after a Rapture-like event caused a significant fraction ofContinue reading “Tom Perrotta: The Leftovers”

Michael Reaves and Steve Perry : Death Star

The first part of Reaves and Perry’s novel is set immediately before the original 1977 Star Wars movie; the second section is set during the time frame of the film, and interleaves most of the scenes set on the Death Star into the new story. (It’s a bit structurally similar to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern AreContinue reading “Michael Reaves and Steve Perry : Death Star”

Diana Peterfreund : Tap & Gown

How much have I been enjoying Peterfreund’s “Secret Society Girl” novels? Not only enough that I bought the concluding volume as soon as it was released, but enough that I didn’t read Tap & Gown until now – because I didn’t want to stop having the last book in the series left to look forwardContinue reading “Diana Peterfreund : Tap & Gown”

Daniel H. Pink : Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Pink is an engaging writer, and I certainly was entertained by and learned useful things from Drive. It examines the difference between extrinsic motivation (e.g., “I want to earn a million by the the time I’m 35”) and intrinsic motivation (e.g., “I want to be the best criminal lawyer in the state.”), and argues, withContinue reading “Daniel H. Pink : Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”

Eduardo Porter : The Price of Everything

There are a lot of intriguing concepts in The Price of Everything, but I was bothered throughout by logic that seemed sloppy. But on the other hand, I mistrust my judgement a little bit because I had a vehement, irrational, negative emotional reaction to some of the book’s content. Porter’s key concept is that youContinue reading “Eduardo Porter : The Price of Everything”