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Toby's Room

Barker is peerless at evoking the atmosphere of the trenches and of wartime London, with its gray tea and mystery-meat pies, yet that atmosphere hangs heavily on this novel.


The Gathering of the Lost

A strong second entry to the series that avoids most of the pitfalls of middle series novels.


Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version

If Mr. Pullman’s Grimm is relatively traditional, that is a gesture of respect not only to these folk tales but to their origins, and to the surety we, like small children, sometimes crave in our stories.


The Accomplice

“The Accomplice” turns out to be of those thrillers in which insider knowledge is sprinkled like particulate matter in a story that is otherwise as flat as Washington tap water.


The Darlings: A Novel

I thought the novel had a lot of great potential… but for me there was a lot of missed opportunities to make the story really thrilling


Aftershock

I like to think of myself as having a high tolerance for gritty realism and flawed characters in a romance, but this book was so edgy that I couldn’t enjoy it much until the last few chapters.


Sea of Ink

Although it is a short book, there is something about it which made me linger over each chapter, pausing to follow the strokes of Bada Shanren’s pen as his techniques are described.


The Folly of the World

An ambitious but rather harrowing novel.


The Missing Ink

This may have nothing to do with handwriting, but readers probably will be having too much fun to care. Given the charms of "The Missing Ink," should Hensher ever choose to pen a meditation on mashed turnip, count me in.


Open Heart

It might be said that Wiesel's memoir "Night" is his original and most masterful "lesson" about the Holocaust, while the rest of his writing is "commentary." If so, we are deeply fortunate to have this intimate self-portrait of a man poised on the threshold of death, with more commentary yet to come.


The Testament of Mary

"The Testament of Mary" is a very simple - one might say classical - tale, showing how violence, even redemptive violence, frustrates our attempts to make sense of it.


Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

“Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,” by Robin Sloan, dexterously tackles the intersection between old technologies and new with a novel that is part love letter to books, part technological meditation, part thrilling adventure, part requiem.


By Love Possessed: Stories

Thanks to the richness of this fictional world, rather than roll your eyes at the pat endings, you want to give Goodison’s heroines high fives.


Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

The book he’s written is nothing if not one big, hyperextended, overarching theory about how to live in a random and uncertain world.


Hell or High Water

Hell or High Water vividly illustrates a New Orleans still in chaos from Katrina. Although The Times-Picayune has gone to a three-times-a-week print product this past year, Castro delivers a realistic look at an active newsroom and how vital a print newspaper can be to its readers.


Prosperous Friends

Prosperous Friends explores tough terrain with no edifying conclusions. Yet it is gorgeously written, and full of sharp insights into love, aging, sex and ambition.


Rise to Greatness

Amid the shelves of Civil War tomes, Rise to Greatness stands out as a brisk, compact history of Lincoln’s evolution as a leader.


Battleborn

Last month, Watkins won a US National Book Foundation award in the “five under 35” category for this poised debut collection. It is a well-deserved accolade for a coolly impressive new voice of the American west.


Beautiful Disaster: A Novel

This book has a place on my permanent bookshelf. I seriously cannot wait for Walking Disaster told from Travis’s point of view *hops about in anticipation*


The Diviners

Despite a few slow areas, The Diviners thoroughly entertained me and filled my craving for something a little different. So will I be reading the sequel? As Evie would say: you bet-ski.