Jennifer Traig: Devil in the Details – Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood

Traig’s memoir of growing up beset by scrupulosity, a form of OCD manifesting as extremes of religious observance, was often very funny. This was a multiple-guffaw read for me. And beyond its entertainment value, it’s informative and sometimes insightful. I found its structure a little perplexing; it’s somewhere between a linear coming-of-age memoir and aContinue reading “Jennifer Traig: Devil in the Details – Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood”

Amber Benson: Death’s Daughter

On the positive side, Death’s Daughter has an intriguing milieu that’s quite different from any other paranormal/urban fantasy I’ve bumped into. It’s a little reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics and Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality novels, but not unduly so. Benson also offers a few moments of genuine wit and some perceptive descriptions. OnContinue reading “Amber Benson: Death’s Daughter”

Bill Loehfelm: The Devil She Knows

Loehfelm’s noirish suspense novel revolves around a memorable trio of characters. Maureen Coughlin is tough, canny, and proud. She’s in a dead-end waitressing job, struggling mightily to make ends meet. She’s a little hard to like and makes some poor choices, but Loehfelm gets the reader well inside her head, so even her worst behaviorContinue reading “Bill Loehfelm: The Devil She Knows”

Stephen M. Irwin: The Dead Path

I can’t say The Dead Path didn’t get its hooks into me: I finished the final hundred pages at a single sitting, anxious for one of its characters, in particular, to escape the morass. There are some clever aspects to how it works an old religion into a modern tale; Irwin’ prose is reliably serviceableContinue reading “Stephen M. Irwin: The Dead Path”

Patricia C. Wrede: Dealing with Dragons

Dealing with Dragons shares several traits with the fantasies of Dianna Wynne Jones. It assumes familiarity with fairytale conventions and tropes, and reworks and subverts them, with a particular focus on excising sexism and adding subtle metatextual humor. Princess Cimorene is the sort of strong, quick-witted, and self-reliant protagonist who could easily be at homeContinue reading “Patricia C. Wrede: Dealing with Dragons”

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”

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”

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

This was my first exposure to either Cohn or Levithan, aside from seeing the film version Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (without, I’m ashamed to say, even knowing it was based on a novel). But it’s their third collaboration, in which the authors write alternating chapters, “without planning anything out beforehand. That’s the way theyContinue reading “Rachel Cohn and David Levithan: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares”

Lisa Goldstein: Dark Cities Underground

Lisa Goldstein has long been on the list of writers I thought I should read something by sometime, and now she’s on the list of writers I want to read everything by. The set up for Dark Cities Underground reads like something from the manual of how to write a novel that appeals to me:Continue reading “Lisa Goldstein: Dark Cities Underground”

Philip Plait: Death from the Skies!

Death from the Skies!‘s nine chapters all follow the same pattern: a brief, moderately sensationalized depiction of an astronomical disaster followed by a somewhat more sober discussion of the event, with an emphasis on how likely and/or subject to mitigation it is. The book more-or-less progresses from near-term potential events (like a meteor collision) toContinue reading “Philip Plait: Death from the Skies!”