Maigret in New York by Georges Simenon

The trouble with Maigret in New York is clearly stated in the title. Inspector Maigret should stay in France, preferable in Paris.  I suppose over the course of 75 novels Maigret was bound to leave the country at least once, but I much prefer him when he is at home. Certain books are associated with certain places–that becomes part of the fun, maybe part of the … Continue reading Maigret in New York by Georges Simenon

Top Ten Favorite Reads for 2016.

I’m going to stick to my guns here, enforce my long time rule for selecting the top ten list which is “Do I want to read this book again someday?”  The answer must be yes to qualify. Which means there are many books that I loved reading that will not make the list. Lots of books are great books, great reads, but not something I’ll … Continue reading Top Ten Favorite Reads for 2016.

The Highwayman by Craig Johnson

I admit it. I have a thing for Netflix’s Walt Longmire. The strong, silent type–wounded by a tragic past–handsome in a casually masculine way suiting his late middle age.  He’s a sexier John Wayne without the political baggage. I cancelled Netflix after season three thinking that was all the episodes we were going to get only to find out last week that season four has … Continue reading The Highwayman by Craig Johnson

Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin

I didn’t feel right at home when I began Mary Ann in Autumn.  I thought I would. I expected to.  I always have before.  Each new addition to the Tales of the City books felt like bumping into a bunch of old friends I hadn’t seen in a while.  All of us grabbing a cup of coffee together so we could have a chance to … Continue reading Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

I consider David Copperfield to be a great book, one of many  masterpieces by Charles Dickens.  It’s a long book, a very long book, telling nearly the entire life story of its narrator and title character. People may prefer different sections of David Copperfield over other parts of the book, the bits with Francis Micawber are the best parts by the way, but you can’t really judge … Continue reading Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

Earthsea vs. The Apocalypse

The deck really was stacked against Desirina Boskovich.  Though her short stories Heaven is a Place on Planet X and To Wrestle Not Against Flesh and Blood are both terrific fun, there’s really no way she could win against an Earthsea story by Ursula K. LeGuin.  Not while I am the judge. I’ve been pairing sets of short stories against each other in a tournament of books … Continue reading Earthsea vs. The Apocalypse

The Yellow Dog by Georges Simenon

Inspector Maigret is not bothered (dot com.) Someone accuses him of dragging  his feet with the investigation, someone else says the police have arrested the wrong man, another refuses to answer questions… Inspector Maigret simply shrugs his shoulders and moves on like nothing matters anyway.  He’ll solve the crime soon enough. #MaigretIsNotBotheredDotCom. It’s a great state of mind for a noir detective to be in, … Continue reading The Yellow Dog by Georges Simenon

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein

 That people, even more than things, lost their boundaries and overflowed into shapelessness is what most frightened Lila in the course of her life.  The loss of those boundaries in her brother, whom she loved more than anyone in her family, had frightened her, and the disintegration of Stefano in the passage from fiance to husband terrified her. I learned only from her notebooks how … Continue reading The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

A summer read that is a creepy good time. Jeff Vandermeer’s novel Annihilation, the first part of the Southern Reach Trilogy, concerns a team of scientists sent into a quarantined region to find out as much as the can about what has happened there.  They are the 12th team of scientists to undertake this mission. The region, known as Area X, appears to be growing several miles … Continue reading Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

Is this the best police procedural ever written? The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

Late one rainy night in Stockholm, a gunman boards a double decker bus and kills everyone on board.  He leaves no clues behind.  No hint at his motive or identity.  Just victims.  And questions with no answers. As soon as Superintendent Martin Beck of the Stockholm Homicide Squad begins his investigation he finds that one of the victims was a member of his own squad. … Continue reading Is this the best police procedural ever written? The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

Best of Three: School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani, The Book of Bad Things by Dan Poblacki and No Place by Todd Strasser

Okay, I confess.  I didn’t quite have a full lesson plan to keep the kids busy for the second to the last day of school so I decided each class would begin with fifteen minutes of reading time.  Their all supposed to have a book with them throughout the day, just in case they have free time for reading, so this should work. I arrive, set … Continue reading Best of Three: School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani, The Book of Bad Things by Dan Poblacki and No Place by Todd Strasser

Also Known as Elvis by James Howe

Skeezie finally gets his own book. James Howe’s The Misfits featured four friends in middle school.  While the four are all social outcasts for various reasons, I always felt that Skeezie was kind of an outcast even within the group because he’s just so darn normal. True, he always wears the same black leather jacket and is known for slicking back his hair, but other than that, … Continue reading Also Known as Elvis by James Howe