PositiveNPRYou\'ll find a lot to like and, almost certainly, something to love—whether you\'re seeking adventure, tragedy, self-discovery or just plain fun. Every story in it feels well-chosen, from Roshani Chokshi\'s tale of a woman who sidesteps destiny to find happiness and wisdom, to Sive Doyle\'s picaresque Spenserian teenage quest, to Sarah MacLean\'s steamy scabbard-tingling swordsmithing romance ... Who is Arthur? Who were Guinevere, Lancelot, Elaine, Merlin, Morgan le Fay? The answers change with every telling, in every generation. For now, the authors of Sword Stone Table give us all the Arthurs we could want—and remind us that any corner of the world can be a Camelot, any stone may conceal a sword, and that the Round Table has enough seats for us all.
PositiveNPRSarah Gailey\'s premise had me intrigued from the start, and though it took me a while to warm up to Ivy as a narrator, I found her worth the wait. Sure, she\'s bitter and thorny, but Ivy has the mordantly hilarious humor of a woman who lives by her wits, as well as a private investigator\'s talent for observation and for drawing people out ... I think Ivy succeeds as a protagonist because, like so many women, she\'s a talented person who feels like a failure because she isn\'t extraordinary ... I don\'t know whether Magic For Liars works as a crime novel; Ivy is believable as a sharp investigator, but the narrative may hand her a few too many gifts. I think it does work as an emotional story that contains magic: a tale of two sisters, each at her own turning point, heading unavoidably towards collision. The worldbuilding is solid and done with care. I do have a few reservations: The principal love interest is perhaps a little too wonderful a person, and the only specifically African American character on the staff—the formidable Mrs. Webb—is a source of scalpel-sharp insight and unexpected power, whose portrayal skates perilously close to magical stereotype.
Ultimately, though, Magic For Liars is a good read.
J.R.R. Tolkien, Ed. by Christopher Tolkien
RaveNPREvery version of the story in the book is incomplete, but under Christopher Tolkien's steady editorial hand, the fragments assemble themselves to give us an impression of the whole. What makes this possible is the grace with which he handles his long-accustomed dual role of guide to both story and history. His preface and annotations are openhearted and engaging. He leads the reader pleasantly through the greater landscape of Middle Earth in the First Age, and strikes as clear a path as possible through the wilderness of Tolkien's lifelong attempts to get the story finished and published. With eloquence and diligence and care, the son reconstructs and retraces the father's journey, pursuing the tale through draft after draft as Tolkien pursued his vision of Middle-Earth; as Beren, lost and hunted, followed the sound of Lùthien's voice as she sang in the shadowed forest of Doriath.
RaveNPRWhether you're contemplating a run at Les Misérables or returning to it, Bellos' book is a perfect guide — as well as a compelling story in its own right ... There are chapters on everything from the religion and politics of Les Misérables to the significance of colors in the age before chemical dyes. Bellos has struck the ideal balance of top-notch research and readable prose in the chapters that deftly lead us through the world of the novel and its characters ... an engaging and enlightening companion.