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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Babayaga, by Toby Barlow. Reviewed by Benjamin Hale (Washington Post).babayaga

Here’s a recipe for a winning novel: “A tale of intrigue, murder and witchcraft set against the backdrop of Cold War espionage in 1950s Paris.” Unfortunately, it seems Barlow botched the execution, delivering a novel that refuses to take itself seriously and suffers for it. Too bad, though I guess you shouldn’t really expect much from an author whose last book was a werewolf novel in verse.

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Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, by Reza Aslan. Reviewed by Dale B. Martin (New York Times).

Anyone else think it’s funny a guy named Aslan wrote a book about Jesus? (Anyone?) Anyway, this book is getting a fair amount of buzz, and it has got my interest piqued. There’s obviously not much new on Jesus for biographers to uncover, but one “real strength of the book is that it provides an introduction to first-century Palestine, including economics, politics and religion.” I really dig that kind of history book, so I’m probably going to give this one a read.

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Neptune’s Brood, by Charles Stross. Reviewed by Paul Di Filippo (Barnes & Noble Review).

Nico already mentioned this book in a WBBR, but it sounds awesome so I’m including it too. Di Filippo describes Stross’s postmodern sci-fi writing as “too information-rich, too challenging” for some readers, and the type of author that can’t be bothered to hold his reader’s hands. Sounds awesome to me. This is a brooding novel set on Venus, starring a cyborg–the human race has died out more than once, it seems. Give the review a read. This book sounds awesome, I’ve already ordered a copy.

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Quickly: Jeff Bezos is buying WaPo for a quarter billion dollars; should be interesting to see how that plays out. Publishers continue to dick over libraries. Exploding roses are the new rage for book covers. The Book Thief (which I loved) is getting a movie adaptation.