Book Review

Veteran bookseller Sarah Bagby shares her experience and insight into the literary world. You also listen to Sarah's book reviews through iTunes. Listen or subscribe here

Two inspired illustrated books recently caught my eye; two distinctive palates, two portraits of child artists, two books that distill complicated concepts. 

Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid is the bestselling author of novels and essays, among them the revered novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. His latest book, Exit West, is one every reader should read now. I have not been this emotionally moved by a book in years.

Not to be confused with Colson Whitehead’s inventive novel, Underground Railroad is Ben H. Winter’s Underground Airlines. Part thriller, part alternative history, and fully engaging, Underground Airlines is set in the present. 

Kwame Alexander has written two novels in verse. Each verse/voice is distinct and fun to read.

Book Review: 'Victoria'

Jan 25, 2017

I couldn’t resist reading Victoria, the novel by Daisy Goodwin. It follows Queen Victoria beginning in 1838, when she becomes Queen of England a month into her 18th year, taking us through her courtship and marriage to Prince Albert in 1840. Goodwin was commissioned to make a TV series about the life of Victoria and I tuned into the first episode now airing on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre. I wanted more and I got exactly what I wanted. 

Sheila Kohler has released her 14th book, entitled Once We Were Sisters. Told mostly in the collective “we,” Kohler takes an intimate look at the unassailable bonds of sisterhood. Sheila May and Maxine’s affluent and charmed early years are spent at Crossways, an estate in the suburbs of Johannesburg, supported by an army of servants. After the death of their timber magnate father, the pre-teen girls move with their family into a boarding house, under the care of their unstable and overbearing mother.

Among my favorite books of 2016 are two novels, a work of history, and the collected works of a great American poet.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles is a beautifully rendered period piece set primarily in the Metropol Hotel across from the Kremlin in post revolutionary Russia where a Count is under house arrest. The transformative descriptions place the reader in the hotel alongside the Count as history is being made and lives are changing dramatically in the new political climate. 

Mary Reagan

Prolific mystery writer Lawrence Block, creator of characters Matt Scudder, Bernie Rhodenbarr and Evan Tanner, has never been lacking in ideas. He writes books with colleagues, works under pseudonyms and writes guides for aspiring writers, such as Telling Lies for Fun and Profit

stanford.edu

This book review originally aired on November 30, 2015.  

Adam Johnson’s Fortune Smiles delivers six stories, six milieux, and six new ways of seeing the world.  Johnson’s stories portray the struggles of our world today, focusing mostly on characters living on the edge of proper society in circumstances out of their control, such as having to find work in a Stasi Prison; or the levees destruction after Hurricane Katrina; or defecting from Pyongyang to Seoul.

Claudia Ficca

Bakers everywhere are united in their endorsement of Dorie Greenspan as the grande dame of baking cookbooks. 

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