In Transcription by Kate Atkinson, Juliet Armstrong finds herself swept along the currents of World War II to become “someone’s girl,” making tea and transcribing the audio recordings of homegrown Nazi sympathizers. Having found my way to Kate Atkinson’s writing by way of Life After Life, I’ve now read most of her published work. She is one of the most versatile writers I’ve ever read but with Transcription, she seems to have fallen prey to that thing that happens when a tv show or movie is made of a popular author’s stories- she is writing for the visual impact on a […]
Yes! My soul needed a good magical realism book. It was crying out for it you guys. “Once Upon a River” delves into many characters but manages to thread the needle with keeping an eye on the main plot from beginning to end of this book. I absolutely loved “The 13th Tale” so I was looking forward to see what Setterfield did with this. She weaves stories, fairy-tales, and myths together to tie around the Thames River and the people who live alongside it. “Once Upon a River” starts with an inn called the Swan. Everyone tends to gather there […]
I am so happy to report that this novel was truly a great read, sure to be on my favorites list at the end of the year. I was a little thrown by not loving my last Lyndsay Faye book, but faintingviolet rightly pointed out that it was her first published book, so it’s natural for it to not be as good. It does appear that Faye is only getting better and better. I loved Jane Steele and I LOVED The Paragon Hotel. The story centers on Alice James, fleeing for her life via cross-country train going from mafioso Little […]
This book has many of the things I love: Steampunk, electricity, Spring-heeled Jack, werewolves, a mystery, time-travel affecting the present, and the implication of liminal space. It also has a glowing recommendation from Michael Moorcock on the back. Note to self: Do not buy any other book Michael Moorcock likes.
I am notorious for judging a book by its cover. I am also notorious for trying to read the book jacket as little as possible so that I don’t spoil the plot. I try to get just enough of a peek at it that I can tell if it sounds interesting, but not enough to know too much of the plot (thank you publishers for pretty much spelling out entire novels in the jacket). This practice has often resulted in taking a book out of the library, reading a couple of pages and then realizing that it is part of […]
Almost accidentally, author Susan Hood stumbled upon a historical event that has gone mostly overlooked and it is the basis of her exciting middle grade novel Lifeboat 12. The book is told in verse format by narrator and actual survivor Ken Sparks, who is thirteen years of age right before London is destroyed in the Blitz. His life in London is troubled by things large in scope (like running to bomb shelters nightly when the alarms go off and living off rations and hand-me-downs) and intimate (feeling slighted by his stepmother who dotes on his half-sister and only seems disappointed […]
I liked this one well enough, but I can’t say it wasn’t a little bit of a disappointment after liking Faye’s other books so much. The pacing was very uneven here and I wonder if cutting some of the material (the book is about 400 pages) would have helped. There’s a great book in here somewhere, surrounded by too much extra. One thing I really loved? The setting. I don’t think I’ve ever read pre-civil war historical fiction that isn’t pioneer-ish before. This takes place in New York City in 1845 when the city is just forming its first police […]
I enjoy Charles McCarry’s Paul Christopher series, a great blend of espionage intrigue and commentary on American foreign affairs. Many consider The Last Supper to be his magnum opus. While I enjoyed parts of the book, I will not be one of those people. The Last Supper is not a conventional Christopher novel in that there’s a case and he’s working it. Instead, it’s kind of a biographical work that traces his father’s life and his own. Throughout it are multiple espionage cases handled by the OSS and CIA respectively that lead up to the book’s big reveal about Christopher, Christopher’s father and […]