Ilana C. Myer, Last Song Before Night

Ilana C. Myer’s Last Song Before Night is, in the most simplistic reduction, a quest fantasy, set in the rich, complex pseudo-medieval society of Eivar where poets and seers are trained in a special academy. Once, long ago, poets were also enchanters, but their abilities made them dangerous and feared…

Daniel Okrent, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition

Cover of Daniel Okrent's Last Call

Daniel Okrent’s Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition is ostensibly a history of America’s attempt from 1920 to 1933 when, in response to the 18th amendment, the nation outlawed “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” In actuality, Okrent has written a careful, readable and interesting history…

Roland Green, Stephen Cushman et al, Eds. Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. 4th Edition.

Cover of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics is a massive tome, perhaps as much as three or four times the size of the second edition. At 1,639 folio-sized pages of text, and 5.7 lbs, even in softcover, it is cumbersome at best. It’s just as well then that it’s still…

Celebrating Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week, 2015 runs from September 27 through October 3, 2015. The American Library Association describes it like this: Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to…

Fran Wilde, Updraft

Fran Wilde’s Updraft is a debut novel from a writer with a strong record of short story publication. Set in a post apocalyptic culture where people spend their lives above the clouds in living towers of bone, depending on fliers using silk and leather wings for transportation, and governed by…

John D. Rateliff, The History of the Hobbit

Image of the slipcase and books of John D. Rateliff's History of the Hobbit

John D. Rateliff’s The History of the Hobbit is a handsome three-volume slip-cased set of hard covers. The first two volumes are the actual History of the Hobbit, in the form of Part One: Mr Baggins, and Part Two: Return to Bag-End. The third volume in the set is Tolkien’s…

Stephen King, Finders Keepers

Cover of Stephen King's Finders Keepers showing an open book with blood raining down in front of it

Stephen King’s summer release, Finders Keepers, picks up the saga of retired police detective (“Det Ret”) Bill Hodges, a story King began in his previous novel, Mr. Mercedes. Although it’s book two of a planned Bill Hodges Trilogy, Finders Keepers doesn’t suffer from any of the usual middle-of-a-trilogy weaknesses. The novel stands…

Sarah Owens, Sourdough: Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savories, and More

Sarah Owens is a sculptor, a trained horticulturist, formerly the steward of the Cranford Rose Collection at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and the founder of an artisan microbakery called BK17 Bakery. Sourdough manages to unite her passions for art, horticulture and sourdough. The first half of the book is a…

Massimo Montanari, Medieval Tastes

There are three things you need to know about Montanari’s Medieval Tastes: Food, Cooking, and the Table; first that this is an academic treatise, that it was translated from the original Italian by Beth Archer Brombert, and that it is a culinary history, rather than a cookbook. That being said,…

Archie Fisher, A Silent Song

I should confess right up front that Archie Fisher is one of my very favorite song writers and performers. It isn’t overstating the case to say Fisher (along with Jean Redpath and NPR’s Fiona Ritchie and Thistle and Shamrock) had a lot to do with my interests in the Child…