Eva Ibbotson: The Secret of Platform 13

This past Christmas afforded me the happy opportunity of researching what-next-after-Potter? books for a young relation, and of course I’m reading a bunch myself. This book shares the plot detail of a mysterious train platform leading to another world*, but what it reminded me of most was Roald Dahl, perhaps because cute, quirky, and creepyContinue reading “Eva Ibbotson: The Secret of Platform 13”

Erik Spiekermann, E.M. Ginger: Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works

As the name might suggest, Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works takes a breezy, irreverent approach to introducing typography to the lay reader. It does a good job of explaining the vocabulary of the field. It demonstrates how elements of of a typeface contribute to legibility in various contexts. And it introducesContinue reading “Erik Spiekermann, E.M. Ginger: Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works”

Gail Carriger : Soulless

Soulless is set in a fantasy alternate Victorian era, with vampires and werewolves alongside airships and mysterious brass apparati. It deftly mashes the modern urban fantasy/paranormal romance into the Regency-style historical romance, adds a hefty dollop of whodunnit, and seasons it with steampunk atmosphere and a tiny dash of xenophobic horror. I liked it aContinue reading “Gail Carriger : Soulless”

Madeleine L’Engle : A Swiftly Tilting Planet

I was sorely disappointed by A Swiftly Tilting Planet when I first read it; I’m pretty sure I only read it once before. It may be worth mentioning that I first encountered this novel when my head was full of Tolkein and Star Wars — and it’s not exactly crammed with action-adventure teenage boy appeal.Continue reading “Madeleine L’Engle : A Swiftly Tilting Planet”

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”

Seth Greenland: Shining City

I think the marketing of Shining City does it a mild disservice — it’s positioned as a story in which a more-or-less normal guy inherits a small business from his estranged brother that is not what it at first seems. Really, it’s a story about a more-or-less normal guy whose life is repeatedly jostled outContinue reading “Seth Greenland: Shining City”

Doug Dorst: The Surf Guru

I usually read single-author short story anthologies interspersed with other fiction because reading too many short stories back-to-back tends to emphasize the commalities of the stories to their detriment. That wasn’t the case with The Surf Guru; I read this book slowly because I wanted to draw it out. The Surf Guru‘s range is impressive,Continue reading “Doug Dorst: The Surf Guru”

Gary Shteyngart – Super Sad True Love Story

Super Sad True Love Story reminded me in bits and pieces of several other near future satire/dystopias (all of which I thought were more successful), among them Wallace’s infinite Jest and Hal Hartley’s film The Girl from Monday, but most of all David Marusek’s Counting Heads. Marusek’s book is much more science fiction-y and action-oriented,Continue reading “Gary Shteyngart – Super Sad True Love Story”

Michael Kaminski: The Secret History of Star Wars

The foremost thing I want to note about The Secret History of Star Wars is that I found fascinating nuggets throughout the whole book. Next, that it represents a hell of a lot of work on Kaminski’s part — it weighs in at over 600 pages. Third, that it would benefit greatly from a strongContinue reading “Michael Kaminski: The Secret History of Star Wars”

Dave Zeltserman: Small Crimes

I ran across the elevator pitch for the third of Zeltserman’s “Badass Gets Out of Jail” books and thought it sounded more than a little Charlie Huston-esque, so I checked out the first in the series, Small Crimes. Turns out it’s not the same badass — each book starts with a (different) felon being releasedContinue reading “Dave Zeltserman: Small Crimes”