Book reviews from The Miami Herald

Bill Bryson's best-loved book may be Notes From A Small Island, his book about Britain from 20 years ago. Now he's written a sort-of-update, The Road To Little Dribbling. I liked it a lot — he's an extremely entertaining, smart writer — though I think I like an earlier book of his that I reviewed, Home, a little better.

We throw the term "witchhunt" around pretty loosely but there was a time in our nation's history when it was deadly, serious business. So serious and so deadly that people were killed. Stacy Schiff is best known for biographies but her latest book, The Witches, is more of a biography of a town — Salem and environs — and a time — the late 17th century — when the contagion overran New England.

Treasure hunting is a big deal in these parts but the subjects of Robert Kurson's book, The Pirate Hunters, are in search of a story more than gold coins or emeralds. One of the main characters is the same guy whose search to identify a German U-boat was the subject of Kurson's bestseller The Shadow Divers, so he's up for the challenges, which are many.


Dennis Lehane is best known for his contemporary thrillers about Boston, like Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone. But I'm a huge fan of his more recent historical novels, which start out in Boston but travel to Tampa and even Cuba. The last was World Gone By.

I like bibliothrillers — books that center around books, the book trade and crime or suspense of some kind. The Forgers isn't the best I've ever read but it was entertaining and satisfyingly creepy.

Maybe you've heard about Lev Grossman's Magicians trilogy because of the Scyfy TV series based on them. They're great — commonly described as Harry Potter with drugs (because the protagonist attends a secret academy of magic) but they're far more infused with Narnia for my money. Only with drugs and lots of bad stuff without a supernatural Jesus lion stand-in to save the day. The Magician's Land is the last book in the trilogy.



The King's Curse is the final volume in Philippa Gregory's Cousins' War series, based on the Wars of the Roses. Three of those books — The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's Daughter, are the basis for the Starz series The White Queen. This final volume brings the story into the reign of Henry VIII, through the eyes of Margaret Pole, one of the last of the Plantagenets. I thought it was one of the better books in this series.

The Book of Life is the third and last book in Deborah Harkness' All Souls trilogy (the first two are called A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night. I loved all three of them.