BY SEAN CLARK

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

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Wire to Wire, by Scott Sparling. Reviewed by Anonymous (HTMLgiant).

Here’s an excellent example of how to write a concise book review. In three paragraphs whoever wrote this review for HTMLgiant fully convinced me I want to read this book (put out by Tin House, which has a knack for finding good writing). In a nutshell, he calls it “a smart and beautiful book about losers—aimless, glue sniffing, speed freak, train hopping, mostly rural, accidentally homicidal losers.” If, like for me, this kind of book isn’t your usual cup of tea, take 30 seconds to read this review and see if you are similarly persuaded.

Get the book.

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The Stranger’s Child, by Alan Hollinghurst. Reviewed by Michael Dirda (Washington Post).

I really like sprawling books that manage to intricately and subtly insert cause-and-effect relationships across long spans of time. See Jeffery Eugenides’s Middlesex. This book looks to do just that. A surreptitious poem sets things in motion for 100 years in the future. And Hollinghurst succeeds in “preserving the dramatic unities of place, time and action. He effortlessly juggles several points of view (including a 6-year-old’s), slowly revealing people’s true characters while keeping the reader guessing.” If Michael Dirda bemoans a book not being listed for the Man Booker (which Hollinghirst already has won, for The Line of Beauty), odds are it’s a very good book.

Get the book.

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The Apothecary, by Maile Meloy. Reviewed by Susan Carpenter (Los Angeles Times).

Not sure how I feel about Meloy writing for the YA set. I really liked Liars and Saints (and her last book was likable enough), so if she can keep up that kind of quality while aiming for a younger audience, then I suppose that’s a good thing. After all, Markus Zusak wrote an excellent World War II young adult book just a few years back. But this has me scratching my head a bit:

A gem of historical fiction for the middle-school set, Meloy’s children’s debut is a pitch-perfect melding of postwar intrigue and ancient medicinal arts told from the perspective of a 14-year-old girl.

Hmm. The story, as Carpenter goes on to describe, does sound interesting, with an international cast of young characters playing out a microcosmic analogue of the events surrounding WWII. I’m going to hang back on this one a bit to see how it’s received, but I think I’ll probably end up reading it.

Get the book.

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Briefly: A little more Michael Dirda: Arabian Sands. A little more Eugenides: The Marriage Plot. And Nico already brought it up, but this looks good: Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend.

Bonus Book Trailer: A well made one for once.

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