[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers.]


Moby-Duck, by Donovan Hohn. Reviewed by Janet Maslin (New York Times).

My favorite nonfiction books and essays are those that manage to tell an engrossing story out of something you’d never finger as having a story at all. This one, which tells the tale of what happened to 28,800 bath toys lost overboard from a container ship appears to be just that kind of story. Hohn follows rubber duckies around the world. Maslin’s review is positive, and even eager. Give it a read.


Lizard Music, by Daniel Pinkwater. Reviewed by Paul Di Filippo (Barnes and Noble Review).

Pinkwater is adored by many readers, and this rerelease of his famous 1976 young adult mind-bender is likely to ingratiate him to plenty of new fans. I’ve never read Lizard Music, but I want to, largely thanks to the teasing endorsement Di Filippo offers in this review. The plot involves ayoung boy discovering “a secret society of lizard people [that] have infiltrated the modern media landscape” (led by Rumsfeld?) and offers all sorts of crazy twists. The review goes so far as to claim, “you owe it to yourself to get this book. Your life will never be the same.  Or maybe it will, but it just won’t feel like it.”


Hot Head, by Cal Ripken, Jr. Reviewed by Dave Rosenthal (Baltimore Sun).

I liked baseball books when I was a kid. I can’t think of any that were written by famous ball players though. Cal Ripkin, Jr is more than a famous player, he’s a legend. Even young kids who were born after he retired probably know who he is. Here’s a story by him (with a co-author) that tells a maybe-autobiographical account of a kid whose temper issues are sometimes hard to wrangle on the diamond. It sounds a little didactic for sure, but still young readers who like books and baseball can’t go wrong here.


Zift: Socialist Noir, by Vladislav Todorov. Reviewed by Thomas McGonigle (LA Times).

What is socialist noir? As McGonigal tells it, it is “a perverse crash course in the constancy of irony.” This novel seems like a more than competent thriller that handles plotting just as it should in such a genre. Taking place in a day and concerning a hunt and chase for a mysterious glass eye, Zift has all the trappings of noir. And it takes place in 1960s Bulgaria, so I guess there lies the socialist bit. Really, though, this book sounds good.


Bonus Book Trailer: A crappy book trailer advertising a book on how to make book trailers. Mind blown.