RaveLibrary JournalFior...eschews exposition in favor of narrative momentum and an incisive focus on his characters\' emotional development, resulting in an at-times bewildering, but uncommonly moving, glimpse of the future ... An imaginative and skillfully told story about characters and a world reeling from trauma but poised for a new beginning. Fior\'s talent for conveying emotion evokes both heartache and awe.
Manuele Fior, trans. by Jamie Richards
MixedPublishers Weekly... a visually stunning if underdeveloped postapocalyptic adventure ... Fior’s artistry is as impeccable as ever ... Less successfully, the script leans heavily on tropes of the gruff, suffering male protagonist and the tender female deuteragonist who loves him despite his abusive behavior. Artistically forward-thinking, the themes turn backward in execution. Despite the unoriginal character study, Fior proves he remains one of the finest painters in comics.
Lucy Jane Santos
PositivePublishers Weekly... [a] sweeping debut ... Santos keeps the science accessible, and her survey is full of fun facts ... This is sure to please scientific minds and history buffs alike.
PositivePublishers WeeklyComedian and television writer Scharpling careens with reckless abandon around the curves life has thrown him in his sidesplitting debut ... All jokes aside, Scharpling uses his struggles to offer poignant life lessons, dropping in thoughtful reflections about the importance of putting ideas into action and overcoming shame ... Readers will laugh, cry, and laugh some more as they cheer on this story of persistence and triumph.
RavePublishers Weekly... fascinating ... Cox’s profiles are full of insight and the observational flare of excellent magazine writing ... This entertaining guide to the art of getting things done gets it done with style.
Jennifer Otter Bickerdike
PositivePublishers WeeklyRock historian Bickerdike offers an impressive corrective to the \'one-sided narrative... perpetuated about Nico\' ... Music lovers will be enthralled
PositivePublishers WeeklyAshenburg’s gratifying latest follows a journalist who starts a dubious friendship with her ex-husband’s wife ... Liz lands as a strong character with complex motivations and a believable personal evolution who transcends the often caricatured figure of the jilted ex-wife. With its fruitful examination of betrayal and forgiveness, Ashenburg’s engrossing latest should appeal to fans of Nora Ephron.
PositiveKirkusAshenburg writes candidly about a complex character who’s allowed to screw up in big ways ... A look at betrayal and forgiveness that nicely balances humor and depth.
PositivePublishers Weekly[A] Texas crime story, heavy with sticky-hot atmosphere and rippling with familial melodrama ... Ruth’s naturalistic art and washed-out sandy coloring bring a timeless feel to the action while also highlighting its cinematic qualities ... Neatly balancing pulpy thrills with well-observed father-son dynamics, this is a genre tale that punches above its weight.
MixedKirkusThe story is swift and breezy, relying on archetypes and pattering dialogue to fill in characters painted mostly in broad strokes .. Exceptional art ... The near photorealism and energy of Ruth’s linework are absolutely gorgeous ... But the story’s reliance on Hollywood tropes keeps the tale from full poignancy. Rich art in need of a richer story.
PositiveLibrary JournalThe second collaboration between Hawke and Ruth is an emotionally complex hard-boiled thriller.
PositiveBooklistThe gritty, Southern-noir style of writing pairs well with the setting and characters and the way they are depicted in rich grayscale illustrations ... Fans of the crime genre will enjoy this, as will readers of native Texans Greg Ruth and Ethan Hawke’s previous collaboration
RavePublishers Weekly[A] dazzling, heartrending debut ... Ahmed brilliantly maps the tension between the three women with emotional acuity, and as Seema’s pregnancy unfolds, Ahmed slowly builds to a showdown, culminating in a shattering and unforgettable conclusion. This is a gem.
RaveKirkusAhmed\'s complex, ambitious debut is narrated by a fetus who has narrative art to spare ... The story unfolds in a confusing manner, with some intent to mislead ... Ahmed swings for the fences in this luminously intelligent, culturally magisterial debut.
RaveBooklistThis rich, unafraid debut novel offers a masterclass in perspective-taking and will leave readers deep in their feelings ... Ahmed’s impressive insight into his characters’ lives is lifted up by a lovely use of intuitive and beautiful language ... Showing his characters honestly and authentically in the full ranges of their different and shared humanities succeeds in meaningful ways
PositiveKirkus... enthusiastic ... Most did not seek fame and were not \'trailblazers by choice,\' but readers will share the author’s outrage upon learning that many were deliberately written out of history and treated badly even as they served ... The author fills her accounts with invented dialogue and novelistic thoughts, but her subjects worked hard, often behaving heroically and suffering for it, so that’s a minor quibble ... Inspiring stories of women warriors who deserve greater attention.
PositivePublishers Weekly... breezy ... This brisk and informative survey is a worthy tribute to the trailblazing women of WWII.
Agustín Fernández Mallo, tr. Thomas Bunstead
RavePublishers WeeklyThroughout, Mallo’s prose is enticing—at times conversational, exhilarating, hilarious, and deeply quirky. If a through line emerges, it’s in the ideas, which revolve around the trash heap of postwar wreckage and consumption. Out of this trash, Mallo has crafted a remarkable work.
RavePublishers Weekly[A] luminous debut ... A captivating oral history ... There’s plenty of entertaining backstage melodrama, but Lapine never plays it just for laughs, instead drawing out the serious devotion to craft and artistic risk-taking that fueled it. This is a fascinating 360-degree panorama of showbiz at its most intense and creative
PositiveKirkusThis delightful book revisits the two years they spent telling a fictionalized version of Seurat’s life ... The result sometimes feels like a mutual admiration society ... But fans will find much to love ... The author is refreshingly candid ... Art isn’t easy, as this entertaining look at the making of a cultural touchstone amply demonstrates
PositivePublishers WeeklyBehind the shenanigans, Higgins takes an in-depth and well-balanced look at the interplay between Musk’s swashbuckling mindset of \'building the airplane as [he] was heading down the runway\' and the hardheadedness of Tesla’s veteran engineers and leaders, who understood the rigors of making cars that could kill people if they malfunctioned. The result is a sometimes appalling, occasionally inspiring, and always entertaining saga.
PositiveKirkusThe author effectively combines his well-honed journalistic skills with revealing perspectives from industry observers, frustrated Tesla staff, futuristic engineers, and Musk himself, creating a spirited report on a company consistently embroiled in a swirl of melodrama and controversy ... Readers fascinated by the hype of Tesla history will find a gold mine of facts and foibles in this immersive analysis.
RaveHarlequin Junkie... superb ... a novel that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Humor, a fast-moving plot, action, swoony romance…Darynda Jones included it all here and it worked perfectly ... The town itself was like a living, breathing character in the story. From the townspeople to the locations Sunny and her crew explored in this installment, Jones described it all so well that I literally felt like I was there in every scene. And that’s impressive considering I’ve never been west of the Mississippi ... Be prepared to giggle, cry, and sigh happily–sometimes all within one scene–and for some shocking revelations when you read A Good Day for Chardonnay, Darynda Jones’s newest masterpiece. Highly recommended.
RaveKirkusA hilarious amalgam of mystery, hot sex, and comedy of errors. Can’t wait for the next episode.
PositivePublishers Weekly... entertaining ... Snappy dialogue and appealing characters enhance the crazy, stop-and-go plot, and a bit of a cliffhanger points to more fun ahead. Fans of zanier mysteries will welcome Sunshine’s further adventures.
RaveBooklist... riveting ... To provide context for the titular murders, Kavanagh delves deeply into British rule in Ireland, which started with the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169. After sketching out the timeline, Kavanagh fully immerses readers into mid and late 1800s Ireland, providing rich historical details about day-to-day life and tracking the rising political tensions between poverty-stricken Irish tenants and despotic English landlords ... This entertaining and informative narrative is populated by colorful characters on both sides of the conflict, all of whom are brought to vivid life by Kavanagh’s stellar writing and through firsthand correspondence.
PositivePublishers Weekly... a page-turning history ... [Kavanagh] vividly describes how the murders were plotted and carried out by the Invincibles, an extremist group within the Brotherhood, with funding from American supporters of Irish independence, and shows how the resulting backlash delayed home rule for Ireland by more than 30 years ... This entertaining and richly detailed chronicle offers fresh insights into a conflict whose repercussions are still felt today.
PositiveKirkus... painstaking and sometimes-harrowing detail ... To depict broader crises, Kavanagh uses \'the shifting episodic structure of today’s television dramas,\' or quick cuts from country to country and character to character, which makes it hard to follow the sprawling plot and cast. Yet Kavanagh’s keen sense of Ireland’s pain—and the damage England inflicted on itself with its handling of it—ultimately justifies her conclusion ... A cinematic, multilayered revenge tragedy centered on Ireland’s fraught quest for independence.
K B Wagers
RaveKirkusSeamlessly blending elements of military science fiction and space opera ... Although the storyline is powered by an impressively intricate plot that features mystery, intrigue, and nonstop action, it’s the deeply developed characters and the dynamic relationships among them that fuel this narrative. Wagers creates a cast of characters that are not only authentic, but endearingly flawed. Many characters are memorable, but it’s Chief Petty Officer Altandai \'Jenks\' Khan who steals the show. So much more than a proverbial badass, she has an extensive backstory, and her relationship issues with those she loves are worth the price of the book alone ... Top-notch character-driven science fiction.
K B Wagers
RavePublishers Weekly... serves up buffet-size portions of everything their fans have come to expect: dug-in friendships, action, impossible odds, and clever dialogue that always hits home ... Wagers’s characterization plumbs incredible depths, particularly with street rat–turned–engineering chief Jenks, a brain with vicious fists. Wagers’s fans should snap up this fun, thrilling latest.
PositiveKirkusKean is on surer footing with his later, brightly told anecdotes of a host of scientists and para-scientists who merrily crossed the ethical line in the quest for glory and sometimes wealth ... A mostly entertaining rogues’ gallery of scientists gone bad.
RavePublishers WeeklyKean delivers a fascinating survey of crimes committed by scientists ... This engrossing look at crimes often committed by otherwise moral people deserves a wide readership.
PositivePublishers Weekly[A] moving exploration of \'nature as a healing force\' ... Equally impassioned and informative, Jones’s survey hits the mark as an urgent plea to get outside.
PositiveKirkusDespite the sobering nature of her arguments and sometimes elegiac tone, Jones offers glimmers of hope ... Both thoughtful and lyrical, this book offers a powerful plea for humanity to actively seek a more balanced relationship with a planet in crisis. Vibrantly topical reading.
Anthony Veasna So
RavePublishers WeeklySo conjures literary magic in his hilarious and insightful posthumous debut ... What makes the stories so startling is the characters’ ability to embrace life and all its messy beauty despite the darkness of the past ... After this immersive introduction to the Central Valley community, readers won’t want to leave
Anthony Veasna So
RaveKirkusThe protagonists of these stories grew up in California, but they are constantly aware that their parents and grandparents and aunties and uncles witnessed genocide before escaping Cambodia. This awareness manifests in different ways across the collection ...Even when these stories are funny and hopeful, an inescapable history is always waiting.
Anthony Veasna So
RaveBooklistNine electrifying stories comprise So’s debut ... When read together their magnificence is enhanced as they create an interconnected Cambodian American community ... [An] exuberant publication
RavePublishers Weekly[A] stunning biography ... Donner’s research is impeccable, and her fluid prose and vivid character sketches keep the pages turning as the story moves toward its inevitable, tragic conclusion. This standout history isn’t to be missed.
PositiveKirkusDonner has clearly worked hard in East German, Soviet, and recently released American archives to tell an impressive story ... Mostly novelistic, the narrative contains some manufactured tension, melodrama, and passages of purple prose and paragraphs broken apart or clipped short to create a dramatic effect that feels forced. Despite the breathless delivery, this is a welcome contribution to the history of the anti-Nazi underground.
John Oliver Killens
PositiveKirkusThough set sometime in the 1980s, Killens’ novel comes across as a compendium of social and political phenomena in American race relations, whether it’s Pan-Africanism, the Ku Klux Klan, or, of course, the Black upper middle class. Most if not all are treated with scathing irreverence and acerbic wit. At times, the shakiest element in Killens’ situation comedy is the extent to which Johnson’s masquerade holds up as his iteration of the African leader becomes something of a folk hero among Black Americans and a target for White racists. And there are times when the plot gallops ahead of Killens’ ability to control it. But even at its most unruly, the go-for-broke narrative style grows on you, and the author himself occasionally materializes in a walk-on role, lending the book a metafictional feel ... An audacious final testament of an underappreciated craftsman.
John Oliver Killens
PositivePublishers WeeklyKillens cleverly satirizes 1960s American politics in this sharp thriller ... Killens is pointed in his barbs ... Throughout, Killens maximizes the potential of his plot with outrageous humor. Readers will be glad to find this gem unearthed.
PositiveKirkusKleeman’s novel is idea-driven, a critique of the artifice of consumerism and Hollywood culture in which that artifice is heightened on each page, from characters talking in polished soliloquies to the ominous ubiquity of WAT-R bottles in everyone’s hands. Everything in this world is deliberately just a little bit off, like the slight telltale warp of a Photoshopped selfie. While some readers might find the novel overly conceptual, it’s undeniably fun to watch Kleeman juggle genre, from mystery to domestic drama, from cli-fi to ghost story ... An admirably eclectic take on environmental dystopia.
PositivePublishers Weekly... ranging and ambitious ... While a few plot twists are telegraphed, the action is propulsive and entertaining even as the horrors of climate change smolder around every corner. Readers will be captivated by this intelligent, rip-roaring story.
PositiveKirkus... [a] very fine collection ... Ohlin’s stories have a quiet elegance to them and a restraint, although they’re filled, too, with grief and with loss ... Some of the stories are told in the first person and some in the third, but, either way, there is a kind of sameness that stretches across the book as a whole. The sameness has less to do with what happens (or doesn’t happen) and more to do with how the characters sound—they all seem to have the same voice. Still, Ohlin handles them with such nuance that, in the end, the book is a pleasure to behold ... A wry and moving collection that supplies no easy, unearned endings.
PositivePublishers Weekly... another rich collection full of insights and sticky contradictions ... Ohlin also does a great job capturing her characters’ perspectives on life ... Throughout, Ohlin reveals the depth of her characters with empathy and precision. The strongest stories are more than worth the price of admission.
PositiveKirkusThe pace drags with repetition and lack of surprise. Fortunately the second half shifts into another gear, characters evolve amid the stress and several neat twists, and the action moves almost like a thriller to a stunning climax. As in his previous three novels, Butler brings sympathy and insight to the familiar rituals and dynamics of male friendship. He might have done more with Gretchen. She has an intriguing backstory that doesn’t develop, and while she’s an impressive force when onstage, the plot mostly keeps her in the wings ... An exceptional tale, once it gets going, of what money can do to those who need it.
PositivePublishers Weekly... ambitious ... Extensive backstory undercuts the mounting tension as the plot builds to an inevitable accident that spirals quickly into horrific violence ... Butler explores big themes—including pride in work, inequality, human failings, and greed—at the expense of action. Those expecting a fast-moving thriller will be disappointed, but patient readers will be rewarded.
PositiveKirkus... captivating ... Widder’s enthusiastic, joyful memoir amply describes the \'wonder and exhilaration of discovery\' ... Inspiring for science-loving readers and environmentalists young and old.
RavePublishers Weekly[A] layered and engrossing Cold War historical ... Tanabe depicts the Communist characters with humanity against the chilling backdrop of mutually assured destruction.
PositiveKirkusAlthough the dialogue can sometimes veer toward mini lectures, the novel moves at a brisk pace even as she weaves together the stories of Rina’s domestic dilemmas and her adventures as an undercover agent
PositiveBook ReporterAn exhilarating tale ... With the fast-paced twists of a classic spy thriller, and a nuanced depiction of female experience, A Woman of Intelligence shimmers with intrigue and desire.
Willa C Richards
PositivePublishers Weekly[A] devastating debut ... The author does an excellent job of showing Peg at two different points in her life ... The other characters are equally well drawn. In a glut of dead girl stories and true crime vehicles, Richards pulls of a wrenching and rewarding twist on both.
PositivePublishers Weekly... spirited if overstuffed ... The epistolary form lends itself well to the theme of extreme fandom and the soulful self-discovery of transgender identity as Gala yearns for belonging and contends with her depression. Gala and B—’s separate trajectories through joy, confusion, and episodes of darkness deepen both characters. The novel’s evocation of the hippie era and band culture is also remarkable, though Gala’s lengthy missives begin to lose steam soon after B—’s big reveal. Still, Thornton wrings a great deal of heart and soul from this earnest confessional.
PositiveKirkus... wildly imaginative ... Gala’s letters themselves could represent a fan’s projection of meaning onto the unreachable pop star, a vital act of creation in its own right and one that resonates intriguingly with the assertion of trans identity. Thornton’s writing is as rich as her ideas and spiked with wit, though the story frequently drags and is overstuffed with curiosities, such as the hovercraft that characters inexplicably drive ... Like the mysterious album of the title, a messy, mesmerizing, and deeply personal work of art.
PositiveKirkusSebastian\'s characterization is strong; each of Arthur\'s friends bolster one of his weaker qualities—and do it well—and the young prince\'s impostor syndrome will ring true to almost any reader. The novel remains relatively faithful to source materials from Malory and the French poets, though the eagle-eyed may spot an anachronism or two. Although the large central cast often requires an excessive amount of pace-hindering dialogue, the end result is one that Arthuriana buffs and newcomers alike can enjoy. A thoughtful, crisp take that brings just the right amount of newness to the timeless legends readers know and love.
MixedPublishers WeeklySebastian’s slow-burning adult debut...imbues this classic character with great agency and power, delving into Elaine’s growing talents as a seer and increasingly complicated relationships ... Sebastian’s banter-filled take on beloved characters offers plenty of enjoyment, but the plodding pacing and Elaine’s repetitive visions—the majority of which project too far into the future to affect the events of the novel itself—prevents this adventure from reaching its potential. This is best suited for die-hard devotees of Arthurian legend.
PositivePublishers WeeklyAn assassination plot drives this suspenseful historical thriller from Leonard ... Leonard makes his lead sympathetic without glossing over the brutality Melville employs to do his job.
RaveKirkus[A] lively and assured historical drama ... Melville and Steinhauer, along with many other characters, are based on historical personages, and their portraits are finely drawn. The narrative pace never flags, and even the obligatory scenes of shootouts, explosions, and hurtling locomotives are refreshingly vivid. The novel’s quieter moments are, however, its best, and none is better than its final twist ... A briskly paced, richly atmospheric historical thriller.
PositivePublishers WeeklyIn this intriguing debut, Palmer expands a modest tale of writerly lassitude into an ambitious account of high and low culture ... Readers will recognize in the narrator a well-worn type: intelligent, aimless, self-absorbed, and romantically slippery. Nonetheless, Palmer’s unexpected juxtapositions and probing spirit make this an original portrait of a lovelorn dreamer.
RaveKirkusPalmer’s ruminative first novel mixes cultural analysis with the affecting story of a young man’s slow reengagement with his life ... While these analyses may deter plot-oriented readers, these intriguing, amusing, provocative, and insightful passages contribute to the book’s success as a novel equally concerned with the heart and the mind ... A quietly accomplished and unusually constructed novel that marks the debut of a significant talent.
RavePublishers WeeklySpecktor, a novelist and film critic, calls on both skills in this fascinating look at Hollywood ... This enthralling work deserves a central spot on the ever-growing shelf of books about Tinseltown.
MixedKirkusPersonal moments are the strongest in the book ... But whenever he reveals a bit of himself, Specktor quickly pulls back to the comfort of film history or deep descriptions of his Hollywood neighborhood. Specktor delivers interesting pieces of criticism, reporting, and self-help in this unique memoir, but the whole falls short.
RavePublishers WeeklyPazcoguin reveals the grimy underbelly of elite stagecraft and the extreme passions that fuel it in this rollicking debut ... Pazcoguin’s humorous asides entertain, though at times they can undermine the abuse she endured ... While the juicy details of beautiful people behaving badly are beguiling, it’s Pazcoguin’s unsparing criticism of the industry that begs an encore. This is potent stuff.
PositiveKirkusIn her brisk, spirited debut memoir, the author recounts her experiences in the competitive, hierarchical ballet world ... A lively chronicle of dedication and joy.
Jelani Cobb with Matthew Guariglia
RaveKirkusA timely distilled version of the powerful report on racism in the U.S. ... In this edited and contextualized version, New Yorker staff writer Cobb, with the assistance of Guariglia, capably demonstrates the continued relevance and prescience of the commission’s findings ... a superb introduction by Cobb and a closing section of frequently asked questions ... The book contains plenty of fodder for crucial national conversations and many excellent ideas for much-needed reforms that could be put into place now. A welcome new version of a publication that is no less important now than it was in 1967.
Jelani Cobb with Matthew Guariglia
RavePublishers Weekly... an astutely abridged and incisively contextualized version of the 1968 Kerner Commission Report ... The report itself is startlingly blunt...and remarkably prescient ... In the appendix, Cobb briskly and persuasively tackles \'frequently asked questions\' ... The result is an essential resource for understanding what Cobb calls the “chronic national predicament” of racial unrest.
RaveHarlequin JunkieAll Our Shimmering Skies is a semi historical drama and an intense cultural immersion that is wrapped in the magic of a vastly untouched landscape wherein love and hope remain front and centre. Dalton’s writing is simply sublime and whilst the harsh brutality of the era was challenging to stomach from time to time, his storytelling and characterisation were masterful. From our fearless heroine Molly, to our presumed Japanese enemy Yukio, the beauty and yet dark desperation within each is made all the more profound given the sheer tenacity and grit each character displays. And whilst a little further light and humour was needed to meter the inherent darkness and fear of what we know is coming, love grows in the most unlikely of places and becomes the unyielding torch that helps guide their way. Undoubtedly, this is not a soft or gentle read and definitely not for the faint hearted. However, for those who love incredible storytelling, brilliant characters, creative context and powerful themes based on love and hope, I highly recommend you set aside some time to dig into this one shovel first.
RavePublishers Weekly... a spellbinding saga of survival and transformation ... a quest marked by trials and wonders while being pursued by Aubrey. Dalton provides exquisite descriptions of deserts, waterfalls, mazes of stone monoliths, and Aboriginal cave paintings, and creates a courageous, unsentimental heroine in Molly. This is a wonder.
PositiveKirkusRyckman writes with cool, tightly packed precision on the futile ways people try to fill the emptiness and absence of life with objects and religion and desperate acts. Her rendering of the dynamics of an affair, which is so often an attempt to escape oneself, is especially keen ... A hypnotizing, bleak account of the ways people trap themselves in their own minds.
PositivePublishers Weekly... seductive ... Vivid phrases and short, sharp chapters—sometimes as little as a single sentence or paragraph—keep up the momentum, while an unusual use of first-person plural narration keeps the reader on their toes, even if the prose’s rhythm and inventiveness can feel precious. Still, readers of lyrical, genre-bending fiction will be spellbound.
RaveHarlequin JunkieDoes Nalini Singh write anything that *isn’t* epic? Last Guard was an exquisite slow burn romance that also had a wildly exciting plot about ongoing issues with the PsyNet ... If you’ve been following the Psy-Changeling series, which is now into book five of the Trinity (altogether for the series I believe it’s twenty books total), this was a pretty thrilling installment ... For some reason–and it’s probably just me–it took a couple of chapters to get my head in the game and feel like I was immersed in the story the way Singh’s usually do for me. But once I was there, I couldn’t get enough…especially of Canto and Payal. Sigh ... if you’re looking for a paranormal romance with splashes of science fiction (and even some nosy bear shifters!) Last Guard will be keeper shelf material.
Erin A. Craig
MixedPublishers WeeklyAccomplished prose and a love of beekeeping warm this horror-tinged landscape, but the plot quickly loses momentum in repetitive threats and vague omens, and its insistence that only outside enemies cause social strife may well repel some readers. Even so, fans of Brenna Yovanoff and Erin Bowman will enjoy this lushly built, ominous rural America.
MixedPublishers Weekly... a comprehensive if stilted rundown of the tweetstorms, turf wars, denialism, and desperation that roiled the Trump administration from January 2020 to January 2021. It’s a sweeping study of bureaucratic dysfunction ... Unfortunately, the book’s moment-by-moment accumulation of detail grows dull at times, and the desire of Leonnig and Rucker’s largely anonymous sources to shift blame and preserve their own reputations makes it hard to parse what actually happened during controversial events such as the violent removal of protestors from Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Square for a Trump photo op. This deeply sourced first draft of history is long on access but short on definitive insights.
RavePublishers Weekly... a riveting chronicle of the meteoric rise and scandalous fall of the Dubai private equity firm Abraaj and its conniving founder, Arif Naqvi ... The narrative moves at a fast clip, and extensive interviews with former Abraaj employees strengthen the shock of Naqvi’s \'masterful performance.\' This deeply reported tale captivates.
PositivePublishers Weekly... uninspired ... Jin has a knack for seamlessly compressing large swaths of time, yet Tian remains something of a mystery, with little effort made to explore his singing abilities. And though the author shuttles his protagonist through a series of trials over many years, Tian’s unfailing ability to overcome setbacks lessens the novel’s dramatic pull. As far as itinerant heroes’ quests for freedom go, this one doesn’t get the heart racing.
MixedKirkusThough 37 years old and a well-established vocalist in his native China, Yao Tian seems curiously naïve and passive ... Written with terse command, in short chapters and without literary flourish, the novel itself is no morality tale ... Written with great control, the novel unfolds as surprisingly as life often does.
Niloofar Rahmani with Adam Sikes
RavePublishers WeeklyIn this exhilarating debut, Rahmani tells the inspiring story of how she became the Afghan Air Force’s first-ever female pilot ... she unsparingly reveals the violence women in her country were subjected to ... Delivered with compassion and courage, Rahmani’s heart-racing account will leave readers gripping their seats. This is a vital work of the highest order.
RavePublishers WeeklyNorth spins a riveting tale of subterfuge and deadly self-indulgence in this postapocalyptic thrill ride ... North\'s eloquent prose paints a vivid contrast between the overconsumption that led to the Burning Age and the near-utopian present ... Meanwhile, the shifting enmity and companionship between Georg and Ven creates a tense, fascinating dynamic as the Brotherhood gears up for war. North\'s convincing view of postapocalyptic society captivates, and the political intrigues will keep readers hooked right up until the explosive close.
PositiveKirkusThis upbeat account abounds with brief stories of trailblazers ... At times, Gallagher casts her subjects in flat, modern terms, such as writing that one of them \'prioritized\' or had \'skill sets\'. Yet the stories mostly transcend occasional banalities ... A mostly engaging account of how the West was won for women from all walks of life.
PositivePublishers WeeklyGallagher delivers a buoyant women’s history of the American West ... Gallagher brings a fresh lens to the suffrage movement, and rescues many of her pioneering subjects from obscurity. Feminists will be heartened by this rich and satisfying history.
PositiveKirkusThis entertaining novel alternates between Jai’s and Radha’s third-person perspectives. Changes in their relationship, and between each of them and their immigrant families, are well paced, authentic, and page-turning. Both characters are well developed and easy to root for. A perceptive and textured romance.
PositivePublishers WeeklySharma deftly crafts a sweet romance steeped in food, dance, and desi culture ... Financial and medical issues intersect with familial pressures in ways that relatably shape the well-wrought characters’ lives, while humor and romance leaven the quickly paced book’s exploration of serious topics.
Thora Hjorleifsdottir, tr. Meg Matich
PositivePublishers WeeklyHjorleifsdottir’s fresh prose disturbingly evokes the young woman’s unmoored state. The burnished micro-chapters form a narrative necklace of gems.
Christina Conklin and Marina Psaros
PositiveThe Chicago Review of BooksAt a time when the latest doom-and-gloom news is just a swipe away, it can be difficult to find new ways to make the climate crisis feel vital again. The Atlas of Disappearing Places succeeds by approaching the subject from a place of hope and beauty, combining place-based storytelling and scientific data with exquisitely-rendered maps of twenty vulnerable locations across the globe. The rare coffee table book that’s also a call to arms.
PositivePublishers Weekly... doggedly researched ... Enlivened by its brisk pace and lucid scientific details, this is a rewarding introduction to a noteworthy episode in the history of Soviet espionage.
RavePublishers Weekly... a searing indictment ... Gilpin is a captivating writer, made even more impressive by the fact that her formal education at Carlbrook wasn’t just abysmal, but involved psychological torture—such as having a flashlight beam shot into her eyes nightly as she attempted to sleep—until she graduated at age 17. By confronting the ugliness of a system that almost killed her, Gilpin emerges victorious in a narrative that radiates with humanity. This unflinching account is impossible to put down.
PositivePublishers Weekly... fascinating ... gives the historical Red Turban Rebellion a grimdark fantasy twist ... Though Parker-Chan’s unrelentingly grim view of humanity bogs down the middle of the novel, her nuanced exploration of gender identity and striking meditation on bodily autonomy set this fantasy apart. Fans of Asian-influenced fantasy have just been given their newest obsession.
PositivePublishers WeeklyHugo Award winner Becky Chambers launches the Monk and Robot series with this contemplative, bite-size novel ... A cozy, wholesome meditation on the nature of consciousness and its place in the natural world. Fans of gentle, smart, and hopeful science fiction will delight in this promising series starter.
PositiveBooklistThe first book in Chambers’ new series feels like a moment to breathe, a novel that exists to give readers a place to rest and think ... While the plot is light, the character development, a hallmark of Chambers’ earlier works, is strong and engaging.
Camilla Läckberg, tr. Ian Giles
RavePublishers WeeklyA] rip-roaring sequel ... Läckberg intersperses Faye’s struggle to preserve Revenge and her secrets with scalding scenes from Faye’s youth in the town of Fjällbacka ... This tribute to lusty sisterhood is a must for Scandi noir fans.
Camilla Läckberg, tr. Ian Giles
PositiveKirkusLäckberg’s second novel about the brilliant economist who overcame a stifling marriage certainly draws on the strengths of the first: The plot careens at breakneck speed ... What the story lacks in believability, it more than makes up for with soap-opera–level drama and fireworks. A scandal-filled page-turner sure to delight the beach-read crowd.
RaveKirkusIn this well-researched, consistently illuminating work, the author smoothly combines environmental science and cultural history ... An absolutely captivating nature book
RavePublishers Weekly[A] riveting survey ... There’s much quaint and curious lore ... Barnett delivers the goods with erudition and evocative prose ... The result is an entertaining, colorful tour of a surprisingly dynamic part of nature.
PositivePublishers Weekly... exciting ... Unexpected obstacles upend their plans but set up the surprising conclusion. Dashes of humor and taut pacing elevate this appealing tale. Readers will be delighted.
MixedKirkusHumorous wordplay lightens the grim subject matter. Tension builds to a surprising and audacious climax, then flattens to a disappointing ending in which key elements are left unresolved ... An entertaining animal story that may prove too scary for children and too childish for adults.
RaveLibrary JournalThe story is fast-paced, well plotted, and full of twists, and Lynnette is the perfect imperfect final girl, a heroine readers want to root for despite her flaws. Hendrix\'s writing truly shines in the details, such as chapter titles phrased as sequels to the novel; none of these sequels is real, but their presence in the book allows its final girls to leap off the page and into the world ... Hendrix presents yet another thought-provoking, fun, and chilling winner with perfect timing, as the slasher novel seems to be trending.
RavePublishers Weekly... a wildly entertaining romp through the conventions of horror’s slasher film subgenre ... Hendrix masterfully evokes the paranoid existences of his diverse cast in the aftermath of their traumatic ordeals, and he so explicitly details the massacres and fictional film sagas that grew out of them that readers may believe them to be real. The result is a wonderfully suspenseful and darkly comic novel that cleverly subverts popular culture. Horror fans will be wowed.
PositiveKirkus... this scary unraveling aims straight for the sheer terrors the best slasher films create ... skin-crawling ... Hendrix can be tongue-in-cheek...but is deadly serious here while still warping the conventions of the genre, including the fact that some of the survivors have participated in graphic horror flicks depicting their very real traumas. The book is creepy enough on its face, but Hendrix’s use of expedient narrative tools, including a laconic cowboy lawman, an overly eager journalist, and a host of archetypal serial killers, heightens the unease ... A bloody and grotesque but ultimately entertaining and inspiring take on horror movies, trauma, and self-determination.
PositiveKirkusThis book isn’t completely out of his wheelhouse, featuring as it does some unsurprising rips in the space-time continuum, but it’s a little more grounded than usual, closer to a clever riff on unwanted resurrection ... It’s all very noodle-bending, time-travel–y science fiction, but Barry is playing with a very specific set of tropes ... A very clever, unpredictable little murder mystery with some bittersweet tones about the things we do for love.
PanPublishers Weekly... middling ... The characterizations are uninspired, and Barry fails to make Felicity’s response to her mind-bending situation psychologically plausible. Hopefully, this talented author will return to form next time.
Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell
PositivePublishers WeeklyBrown and Farrell write in sharp prose as they cover drug-fueled private jet flights, financial shenanigans, and a botched IPO, enlivening what could have been a dry postmortem of a failed startup. A delicious chronicle of hubris and misjudgment, this will hit the spot for fans of business tales that walk on the wild side.
Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell
PositiveKirkusThe breathless narrative, propelled by diligent reporting, chronicles the startup’s rapid expansion worldwide, eventually becoming the most valuable startup in the country ... Drawing from interviews with former WeWork and SoftBank staff, rivals, friends, and family members, Brown and Farrell vividly piece together the details of how Neumann persuaded backers to invest in his company with minimal oversight while those same venture capitalists also believed WeWork was a remunerative tech firm rather than the perilous real estate company it truly was ... A rousing exposé of extreme financial greed and yet another example of modern corporate hubris.
PositivePublishers WeeklyJournalist Lowe (Mental) tackles climate change, mass incarceration, and the \'war on drugs\' in this deeply reported if uneven account of California’s inmate firefighting crews ... the book is at its strongest when it leaves aside the statistics and stays focused on the lives of prisoners as they train to fight wildfires, reflect on their crimes, and struggle to find gainful employment after prison. The result is a powerful and affecting portrait of the \'inherent flaws\' of using prison labor to save California from climate disaster.
PositiveKirkusA detailed and infuriating depiction of America’s inhumane practice of deploying inmate firefighters. In this expansion of her work for the New York Times Magazine, journalist Lowe delves into the stories of the incarcerated women fighting California’s frequent, deadly wildfires. At great personal risk, these women remain prisoners as they battle flames and endure grueling physical challenges ... The stories share horrifying, dehumanizing parallels with slave labor—especially analogous given the disproportionate number of American prisoners who are Black. However, Lowe does not examine race until halfway through the book, which weakens the critical and rhetorical power of the story as a whole ... Nevertheless, Lowe writes compellingly ... A disturbing portrayal of America’s exploitative prison system and the incarcerated women fighting California’s wildfires.
Derek B. Miller
RavePublishers Weekly... terrific ... This quest spirals into grimly entertaining capers, including a jewel heist in the burgeoning borscht belt resorts of the Catskills. Diverting subplots track America’s entry into WWII and the birth of modern stand-up comedy, as shown by Lenny’s hilarious forays into showbiz. Readers will root for Sheldon, a memorable survivor, every step of the way.
Derek B. Miller
MixedKirkusThere\'s a lot to enjoy in this sprawling book, which brings a Huck Finn–ish humor to its coming-of-age story. But with its overstated themes and tendency to dictate the characters\' thoughts and feelings rather than elicit them, the novel compromises its emotional impact. A novel whose entertaining parts don\'t make for a satisfying whole.
RavePublishers WeeklyIn this brilliantly conceived and vividly written biography, historian Flavell (When London Was Capital of America) takes a fresh look at the family of Richard Admiral Lord Howe and Gen. William Howe ... Analyzing letters and diaries left behind by the women of the family, Flavell upends the popular conception of the aristocratic Howes as \'inscrutable\' and sheds light on the drawing-room politics of Georgian England ... Flavell skillfully alternates vivid descriptions of overseas battles with developments in England ... History buffs won’t want to miss this richly textured account.
PositiveKirkusHistorian Flavell reappraises the careers of two maligned British commanders in the Revolutionary War and shows how female relatives tried to burnish the men’s reputations ... The author offers much for historians to argue about and plenty for patient readers to enjoy. An intelligent, sympathetic portrait that challenges popular views of the Howe family.
Jeffrey E. Garten
PositivePublishers WeeklyGarten vividly sketches the personalities behind the policy [...] and the political optics that preoccupied them. Garten’s lucid, easy-to-grasp exposition focuses on international turmoil in exchange rates and trade ... this is an enlightening study of an era when previously unthinkable economic measures suddenly went mainstream.
Jeffrey E. Garten
RaveKirkusA densely detailed and highly charged account of the Nixon administration’s abandonment of the gold standard ... Fiscal and monetary policy wonks will admire Garten’s skillful narrative and thorough research.
Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley
RaveKirkusA captivating survey of the uses and abuses of quarantines ... Journalists Manaugh and Twilley meld a global view of a timely subject with vividly detailed accounts of quarantines ... Persistent challenges include the tedium of isolation, the architectural rigors of designing suitable facilities, and the xenophobic use of quarantine ... For such risks, the authors propose fresh, sensible remedies ... But a larger charm of this smart book lies in their ability to bring potentially dry topics to life ... An infectiously appealing overview of efforts to contain the potentially infectious.
Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley
RavePublishers Weekly... a riveting and timely look at how humanity has protected itself by isolating segments of its populations ... Manaugh and Twilley cull their research into a concise and logical series of recommendations for future public health crises, grounded in a deep appreciation of the human impact of quarantining ... This thoughtful study couldn’t arrive at a better moment.
PositivePublishers Weekly... meticulous and enraging ... Daughton skillfully reads against the grain of these official records to uncover the harrowing reality faced by native Africans. This is a devastating record of the horrors of colonialism.
RavePublishers Weekly... [a] heartfelt and nuanced memoir ... the author manages to humanize her subjects and make a case for devoting more resources to the treatment of all mentally ill in prisons ... For those interested in the inner workings of the criminal mind, this is must reading.
PositiveKirkus... a series of sometimes-discomfiting case studies ... dark passages abound ... Adshead’s interest is not lurid, though there are lurid episodes ... A welcome contribution to the literature of crime and rehabilitation.
Omar El Akkad
RaveKirkusEl Akkad\'s compelling, poetic prose captures the precarity and desperation of people pushed to the brink, and the wide-ranging dialogue levels frequently trenchant critiques...even as it produces a few admittedly didactic monologues ... This is an equally incisive, if more conventional, novel than the author\'s debut, American War (2017) ... A compassionate snapshot of one Syrian refugee\'s struggle to plot a course for home.
Omar El Akkad
PositivePublishers Weekly... a stirring if straightforward account of a young boy’s flight from Syria during the country’s civil war ... a moving if somewhat predictable story of survival and the need for compassion and camaraderie across languages, cultures, religions, and borders. While readers may find themselves wishing for more complexity, there is plenty of moral clarity.
PositiveKirkus\" Throughout, the author builds a multilayered discussion by referencing other scholars and her experiences as a teacher and mentor, portraying contemporary academia as a minefield for her bright, diverse students, many of whom carry the extra burden of being a \'model minority.\' Overall, it’s a passionate and intermittently approachable work occasionally hampered by academic jargon. A lively, politically engaged jeremiad on issues of identity, multiculturalism, and efforts to redress enduring wrongs.
MixedPublishers Weekly... [an] impassioned if uneven polemic ... Patel discusses organizing strategies with civil rights activists including Ruby Sales, but her analysis of how contemporary student protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, or calling for the removal of Confederate monuments, can be informed by the tradition of \'fugitive learning\' among Black Americans is less clear. Though her call for decolonizing the classroom is timely, and her admiring portraits of activist scholars provide useful points of reference, Patel offers few solid guidelines for how teachers, students, and administrators can begin to do \'the hard and largely unprecedented work of dismantling racism.\' Readers will appreciate the expert diagnosis but wish for a clearer prescription.
Ed. by Swapna Krishna and Jenn Northington
RavePublishers Weekly... an anthology of breathtaking breadth, depth, and creativity ... There isn’t a bad story in the bunch, and the anthology offers such a variety of style, theme, and genre that die-hard Arthurian fans and more casual readers will be equally delighted. This is a must-read.
PositiveKirkusWells offers no pat prescriptions for nurturing \'lived relationships with water and plants and soil\'—only an ardent hope that humans will persist in \'fighting and reconciling and reaching across the divide of mutual misapprehension\' to save their world. An urgent message gently conveyed.
PositivePublishers Weekly... [a] dense and eclectic survey ... Wells describes [a California wildfire] in shocking and vivid detail ... The people profiled come across as optimistic and resilient, and so too does the author. Her descriptions of climate change captures the harsh reality of devastation, and her musings often lean poetic ... Still, her curiosity keeps things moving ... Climate-minded readers should take note of this roving account of perseverance.
RavePublishers Weekly... an enlightening look at how a well-meaning utopian community in India became complicated by reality ... a propulsive narrative ... Expect the unexpected in this riveting story.
PositiveKirkusMelding history, biography, and memoir, the author offers a sensitive examination of Auroville’s complex origins, tumultuous evolution ... the author portrays with generosity the consuming faith that led Maes and Walker to endure suffering and to leave Auralice abandoned ... A discerning portrait of a storied community.
PositiveWall Street JournalAkash Kapur’s Better to Have Gone is a haunting and elegant account of this attempt at utopia and of his family’s deep connections to it ... The beauty of Mr. Kapur’s story lies in our conviction, by the end, that he and his wife have found most of the answers they were looking for.
PositivePublishers WeeklyNguyen immerses readers in a chilling landscape while effortlessly softening the more sinister moments with wistful, dreamlike flashbacks. This impressive sci-fi thriller marks Nguyen as a writer to watch.
PositiveKirkusNguyen\'s debut is claustrophobic and dark, full of twisting ship corridors and unreliable characters. While many of these elements have been seen before, Nguyen combines them in ways that raise questions about totalitarian systems, environmental destruction, and the nature of humanity. A promising, atmospheric debut.
PositivePublishers Weekly... a novelistic blow-by-blow account ... vividly describes arduous ascents, rubble-strewn streets, and the crowds that lined the route, waving flags and shouting encouragement. The result is an immersive look at the mythical power of sports to unite and inspire.
PositiveKirkusThe physicality in Abbott’s prose gives the mounting tension a heartbeat ... While the life of a ballerina may be \'mysterious and private,\' many illusions are shattered by the end. Though this story lacks some of the unquenchable energy that is Abbott’s trademark, the mesmerizing prose will keep you turning the pages. Abbott is a master of thinly veiled secrets often kept by women who rage underneath their delicate exteriors.
RavePublishers Weekly... gut-punching noir ... Abbott is pitch-perfect at making the sisters’ complex dynamic and mix of emotions plausible and painful, while capturing the competitiveness and cruelty of children’s ballet, where every young girl wishes to be the center of attention. This look at the darker side of the dance world demonstrates why Abbott has few peers at crafting moving stories of secrets and broken lives.
RavePublishers Weekly... a superlative debut ... Newman makes buy-in to the setup easy by ensuring every character, including Khani, is multidimensional. This tense, convincing thriller marks the arrival of an assured new talent.
Eto Mori, tr. Jocelyne Allen
PositiveKirkusNaoki Prize winner Mori tackles a fraught topic with empathy, humor, and grace. The soul’s wry narration keeps the tone light while the simple yet powerful plot beautifully illustrates the impact that perspective can have on one’s mental health. An uplifting tale about the kaleidoscopic nature of the human soul.
Eto Mori, tr. Jocelyne Allen
PositivePublishers WeeklyThemes of gratitude and the acceptance—and even celebration—of human imperfections guide the soul’s journey back to itself as it learns the value of, among other things, recognizing one’s parents as complicated, flawed individuals. Mori’s novel is both life-affirming and, in Allen’s translation, quietly funny, offering readers a timeless perspective on human connections.
Heather Cass White
PositivePublishers Weekly... discerning ... White’s prose style tends toward the academic, and given the sometimes abstract subject matter, can be difficult follow. Such density, however, doesn’t conceal White’s triumphant conviction that reading should stay \'wild.\' Literary-minded readers will appreciate this fresh approach.
Heather Cass White
MixedKirkusOnly some of the quotes are attributed in the body of the text. While White makes a note of this structural element, discerning readers may tire of flipping to the back pages. Meanwhile, the language at times strains to be lofty ... Throughout, White seems less interested in making new readers than emboldening the already well-read. Herein lies its strength, including when the author takes up counterarguments ... Yes, everyone deserves the right to literacy, but not all souls hunger for Middlemarch. So don’t look down your noses at nonreaders. A mixed bag that will end up in the book sacks of the literature-inclined—not unintentionally.
Luiz Ruffatot, trans. by Julia Sanches
MixedPublishers WeeklyThe ailing Oseias becomes a cipher for these talky characters, whose dialogue can come off as stiff in Sanches’s translation ... The narrator’s unadorned style can have an incantatory quality, but the spell is not strong enough to make up for the brittle characters and familiar premise. Fans of ruminative works such as Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones may be disappointed.
Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang
RavePublishers Weekly... a paragon of investigative journalism ... Compiling interviews with former and current employees as well as investors, regulators, and lawmakers, the authors offer an unvarnished view of the company’s callous business practices ... though CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg refused to be interviewed, both come vividly to life, the latter a \'master manager\' and advertising guru, the former an operator who’s affable in public and ruthless behind the scenes. The result is a work of impeccable research and relentless reporting.
PanPublishers Weekly... satirical, strange, and erratic ... The light, playful tone makes for an odd juxtaposition with the political satire ... Readers may get a kick out of the wild romp, but those for whom the Trump term felt darker than fodder for frothy fiction may want to look elsewhere.
PositivePublishers Weekly... comprehensive ... Hooven also explores testosterone’s effects on aggression, and her consideration of its impact on athletic performance is provocative ... The scope of Hooven’s research is impressive and her writing is refreshingly free of jargon. The result is an approachable introduction to an often misunderstood aspect of human biology.
MixedKirkus... timely and intriguing yet eminently debatable territory ... Much of this boils down to the ancient question of nature vs. nurture, and Hooven walks a fine line between the two ... The author privileges definitions of sex while not giving much breathing room for contending notions of gender ... Moderately interesting popular science likely to excite academic debate on sex and gender.
RavePublishers WeeklyJobb...provides the definitive account of serial poisoner Thomas Neill Cream in this enthralling real-life thriller ... Jobb nicely places this grim story in context, as Cream’s London trial created a precedent for the admission of similar uncharged crimes as evidence and exposed massive Scotland Yard failures that left Cream free to kill more people until he was finally apprehended. Jobb’s extensive research pays off in a true-crime masterpiece that will easily sit alongside The Devil in the White City.
RaveKirkusA lively account ... Jobb richly embellishes his grim central tale with carefully researched setting, detail, and social mores of the late Victorian era, elegantly contrasted with his eponymous fiend ... A vivid, engaging revival of a forgotten Victorian villain.
MixedPublishers Weekly... [a] colorful if myopic account ... Wolff paints a scathing portrait ... while Wolff’s anecdotes astound, he fails to put these events in a larger context, leaving the question of why Trump’s \'ham-handed\' disinformation campaign convinced so many Americans unanswered. The result is a dismaying yet unenlightening rehash of recent events.
RavePublishers Weekly... gloriously labyrinthine ... Zenith elegantly conveys Pessoa’s eccentricity while making him an exemplar of the fragmented consciousness of a modernity that has \'disabused us of whatever harmonious wholes we once cherished.\' Zenith’s dynamic prose, deep erudition, and incisive readings of Pessoa’s poetry make for a meticulous portrait of one artist’s brilliant and bewildering inner world.
RaveKirkus... capacious, perceptive ... Zenith delivers careful readings of Pessoa’s works and examines with sensitivity his varied intellectual, spiritual, and aesthetic proclivities as well as his longing for posthumous fame, which he amply accrued ... Impressive research and evident enthusiasm inform a definitive biography.
PositivePublishers WeeklyShaw debuts with a beautiful paean to dogs in this touching memoir recounting the canines who changed her life ... In heartbreaking, lyrical prose, she meditates on the dogs \'that shepherded me into adulthood,\' motherhood, and her decade of \'hard-earned\' marriage ... Dog lovers, take note and grab some tissues.
PositiveKirkusThis poignant and gracefully written memoir amply embraces the complexities of the human-dog relationship in a uniquely personal way, and it’s also a moving story of self-acceptance ... A dog lover’s warmhearted delight.
PositivePublishers Weekly... disquieting ... The twists keep coming until the very last page. Agatha Christie fans will welcome this 21st-century update on the classic golden age village mystery.
Yan Ge tr. Jeremy Tiang
PositivePublishers Weekly... a noirish, stylish bestiary ... The overall effect of Yan’s storytelling is dreamy and hypnotic, sometimes opaque but always captivating. These cryptic but well-told tales offer much to chew on.
Antonio Muñoz Molina tr. Guillermo Bleichmar
RavePublishers WeeklyIn the end, the solitary writer’s journeys and observations culminate in his discovery of solace in loving his wife, and his passion makes the narrative deeply rewarding. The result is a treasure trove.
Antonio Muñoz Molina tr. Guillermo Bleichmar
MixedKirkusMolina writes with a poet’s sensibility ... writing that feels like it’s part fiction, part memoir ... Reading paragraphs composed almost entirely of these recorded words across this 400-plus-page book becomes suffocating, though the paragraphs made from news headlines replicate the 24-hour news cycle’s deluge with stunning accuracy. Relief arrives when the collage becomes an epiphany about life, capitalism, wandering, or the self; or when Muñoz Molina indulges in fascinating stories about the lives of Baudelaire, Poe, De Quincey, and more ... Mr. Nobody is interwoven with stories about the same famous men but feels less claustrophobic because here Muñoz Molina focuses more on describing the city and its people, which enriches the experience of wandering ... While this book is a flâneur’s catalog of walking among the noise of the modern world, it often feels like a marathon.
PositivePublishers Weekly... riveting ... The author movingly describes their resilience, whether facing aggressive storms or the terror of colonization. At the heart of these stories is the natural world, which serves as a constant symbol of survival ... Thompson’s strengths are in his exquisite descriptions of nature, as well as his memorable voice. This shows great promise.
PositivePublishers Weekly... engaging ... Though the various parts are uneven, it’s well worth the time.
MixedKirkus... the novel’s characters and plots remain frustratingly underdeveloped. By including both storylines in this short novel, Sahota limits his ability to deeply explore either, and the result feels like a missed opportunity. A beautifully written but narratively limited family saga.
RaveKirkusThis fierce and intelligent book is important not just for how it celebrates hard-won pride in one’s identity, but also for how Nolan articulates the complicated—and too often overlooked—nature of personal and cultural in-betweenness. An eloquently provocative memoir in essays.
PositivePublishers Weekly... deeply personal ... At times, the episodic nature can lack immediacy: \'On Dating White Guys While Me\' boils down to a sort of list of men. Still, the mix of cultural criticism and thoughtful personal writing will be just right for fans of Roxane Gay.
Kathryn Kolbert and Julie F. Kay
RaveKirkusTwo legal titans who have been defending abortion rights for decades catch us up on the current disaster and plot the road ahead ... [Kolbert and Kay] share the firsthand stories of their landmark cases as well as heartbreaking dramas from the front lines ... A knowledgeable, essential reframing of an incendiary issue based on common sense, historical fact, and simple decency.
Kathryn Kolbert and Julie F. Kay
RavePublishers WeeklyKolbert and Kay [...] call on activists and policymakers to widen the reproductive rights agenda to include affordable childcare, reducing maternal and infant mortality rates, and improved sex education. This impassioned and well-argued rallying cry rings loud and clear.
Tess Gerritsen and Gary Braver
MixedKirkusIn their first collaboration, veterans Gerritsen and Braver unfold a painful, and painfully familiar, fable of adultery and its fatal consequences ... The fate of this modern-day Heloise and Abelard unfolds with minimum surprise but maximum impact.
Tess Gerritsen and Gary Braver
PanPublishers WeeklyThe characters are tissue-thin, and the telegraphed ending won’t surprise most readers. These authors have done better on their own.
Shirley Jackson, Ed. by Laurence Jackson Hyman
RavePublishers WeeklyThe life of Shirley Jackson (1916–1965)—as a mother and a writer—emerges in vivid detail ... Her cartoons, one of the most charming elements of the collection, also chronicle a marriage in decline. Full of wit and heartbreak, this volume shines, and Jackson’s singular prose never fails to entertain.
Shirley Jackson, Ed. by Laurence Jackson Hyman
RaveKirkusJackson reveals a warm, witty side in her voluminous correspondence ... There’s still an edge to the hilarious domestic vignettes she sends her parents ... A vivid, engaging, and engrossing collection from one of American literature’s great letter writers.
PositiveKirkusThe author of American Housewife and Southern Lady Code cuts loose with uproarious observations on friendship, middle age, and her own life ... essays showcase the author’s deadpan humor ... This smart, sassy, page-turning collection will appeal to fans of the author’s work as well as anyone who enjoys the quick-witted jocularity of a singular Southern woman who refuses to let anything—or anyone—get her down ... Like her previous books, this one is darkly hilarious and nearly always on-point.
PositivePublishers WeeklyEllis shines in this collection of essays that lovingly underscores the importance of having a circle of close friends ... Ellis balances intimacy, humor, and directness ... The result is a candid, funny reminder that one need not take life too seriously.
RavePublishers Weekly... spectacular ... Anam provides a piercing perspective on marital and business institutions and gender bias and cultural clashes, and weaves in rich local color as Asha grows reacquainted with her childhood home and her parents’ Muslim community. This is a powerful statement on the consequences of public achievement on private happiness.
MixedKirkusAnam\'s fourth novel is very good on all the tech and millennial accoutrements, with imaginary apps for everything from consensual sex to anal hygiene and no scene complete without a glass of raspberry shrub or rosemary water. Nits: The outcome is overly signaled; feminism plays an odd role somewhere between liberation ideology and buzzkill; the front end of the pandemic crashing into the back end of the book seems unnecessary. A clever, often funny anti-romance novel set in the world of platforms, launches, engagements, and turmeric lattes.
RaveKirkusWritten with an ever present awareness of climate change and the ecological disaster it portends for all terrestrial life, this clearsighted book offers a clarion call to not only foster greater sensitivity toward the animal world as a whole, but to recognize the Earth as more than just a \'human-shaped\' space. An urgent, humane, and exceptionally well-documented book.
PositivePublishers Weekly... thought-provoking ... Throughout, the author is sensible and evenhanded, offering straightforward encouragement over contentious judgment ... Mance’s plea for better treatment of animals will open eyes.
RavePublishers WeeklySportswriter Montville...masterfully combines memoir and sports history in this thrilling deep dive into a legendary NBA championship battle ... In vividly evoking the ups and downs that led to this monumental match-up, Montville paints a humanizing portrait of the game. This is another success for a gifted writer.
RaveKirkusMontville’s deep dive into the storied series is much more than the usual color commentary ... His writing has the verve of the new journalism, but the author also looks hard at the business of basketball ... readers will learn all sorts of fun sports trivia—e.g., why the Celtics wore black sneakers—and Montville is a master of context ... Montville’s book makes an excellent companion to Ron Brownstein’s Rock Me on the Water as a portrait of a fast-receding time. A thrillingly good blend of sportswriting, pop culture, and history and a must-read for roundball fans.
RaveKirkusAn intelligent, quite often moving novel of meditation and aftermath ... he plot of this book, conventionally speaking, would fit on a cocktail napkin: Krishan, a young Sri Lankan man who lives in the southern city of Colombo and works for a nongovernmental organization there, receives a phone call; takes a long walk, during which he stops to smoke a few cigarettes; makes the titular train journey into the recently war-ravaged north, during which he recalls a love affair now over; attends a village funeral. That\'s it. And yet the novel is charged throughout with tension and excitement. Part of that derives from Arudpragasam\'s fierce intelligence and his total commitment to plumbing Krishan\'s psyche, to following his thoughts patiently, relentlessly, with exquisite subtlety ... a novel of philosophic suspense, one whose reader shivers in anticipation not of what will happen next but of where the next thought will lead. A luminously intelligent, psychologically intricate novel—slow in always rewarding ways.
PositivePublishers WeeklyOverall, though, the elegant descriptions of Krishan’s sentiments helps smooth over the slow pace and spare plot ... Readers who enjoy contemplative, Sebaldian narratives will appreciate this.
PositiveEntropy MagFung’s vignette is the literary vignette, that lean, brief verbal descriptor of a place or object ... a portrait of emptiness. The first, original emptiness is the inherent nature of the astronaut father relationship, which implies a father largely absent from the narrator’s childhood. The second emptiness is a direct result of the first one, the absence of communication which results from both the narrator’s physical distance from him and the rift between their two cultures. It is the sort of atmosphere in which even a declaration of love must be rigorously scripted, in which communication is always at the peril of breaking down, emptiness pressing in at the edges to fill the space ... The tension between emptiness and what fills it is what gives Ghost Forest its narrative propulsion ... The result is a gnarled thing, an empty thing, but also successfully empty. For what the empty space holds is love felt from far away, and oral history wrenched after death, and the generous and joyful spirit of both the art and its author.
MixedKirkusSpurred by her father’s illness, a Chinese Canadian woman explores her family’s past ... In very short, matter-of-fact fragments, the narrator accumulates memories of growing up, adjusting to life in Canada, and handling an often difficult relationship with a father she sees only twice a year ... Debut author Fung seems to be describing her own narrative technique as much as this historical style, and its spareness does occasionally lend the narrative a fittingly agile sense of itinerancy. Largely, though, the details come across as somewhat mundane: They never really cohere into something bigger than their sum, and the characters remain unconvincing collections of attributes. As a result, the ending in particular feels merely sentimental rather than moving. Occasionally touching but ultimately insubstantial.
PositivePublishers WeeklyFung’s moving debut follows an unnamed protagonist whose family immigrated to Vancouver from Hong Kong when she was three, right before the 1997 handover to Chinese rule ... Woven throughout are stories from the narrator’s mother and grandmother, whose tales about their family provide both historical context and levity. The bracing fragments and poignant vignettes come together to make a stunning and evocative whole.
PositiveKirkusA popular-science treatment of an overlooked area of study ... Perspiration is neither a fashionable body secretion nor of much interest to publishers, so most readers have not encountered a book on the subject, but science writer and journalism instructor Everts fills that gap admirably ... Few readers will skip the chapter on the history of deodorants, an American invention ... Throughout, Everts mixes facts with interviews and encounters with sweat-related activities across the world ... The author’s prose is sometimes flippant and dense with amusing asides, quips on stinkiness, and embarrassing encounters, but she delivers a solid education. Fascinating information for tolerant readers.
PositivePublishers WeeklyEverts, a professor of journalism at Carleton University, argues in her fascinating debut that \'sweat may be sticky, stinky, and gross,\' but it’s one of humans’ most crucial and least understood bodily functions ... Her tone is conversational and accessible, even as she describes cutting-edge science on pheromones in sweat, the potential for using perspiration as an early diagnostic tool for Parkinson’s, and the chemistry of antiperspirants. Everts has an easy hand with demystifying myths associated with sweat, such as the mistaken belief that it can be used as a detoxifying strategy or that sports drinks, such as Gatorade, are valuable aids to athletes looking to replenish salt levels. Packed full of information and unexpected tidbits, this is hard to put down.
PositiveKirkusIllustrated throughout with personal photos, this quietly feminist book not only offers humorous insight into the politics of a divided, madly competitive family. Johnson also reveals how conservative extremism and the politics of fear are not just an American issue, but are reshaping the political world as we know it. A wittily provocative look at British politics.
PositivePublishers WeeklyBritish author Gayle (Half a World Away) returns with a winning tale of a lonely 82-year-old widower ... engaging ... While a late plot twist feels destabilizing, Gayle finds many endearing moments in Hubert and Ashleigh’s search for friendship and community. Readers will be touched.
MixedKirkusGayle leaves lad lit behind in this sentimental novel about a lonely widower living in England ... Gayle’s novel doesn’t exactly break new ground [...] and Gayle\'s prose is, for the most part, workmanlike. This novel is resolutely sentimental and ends with an unnecessary chapter that would have been better left out. But despite all that, Gayle’s book works for what it is, and that’s a testimony to the author’s charm and unfeigned sweetness—the reader can tell he cares a lot about Hubert, and his compassion is contagious. A little manipulative and a lot sentimental but sweet and charming enough that some readers won’t mind.
PositiveKirkus\"A Clinton administration insider delivers a fruitful survey of the roles that close friends have played throughout presidential history ... Ginsberg does nothing to improve Nixon’s reputation as he recounts how the president eventually brought the straight-arrow Rebozo into the criminal conspiracy that ended his tenure in the White House—with Rebozo urging Nixon not to resign until the very end. There’s no real thesis in Ginsberg’s capably spun story, but there are plentiful insights. A fresh, well-written take on the lives of our presidents.
PositivePublishers Weekly... an entertaining group portrait ... Ginsberg’s succinct and lucid profiles are buoyed by colorful insider details, including Vernon Jordan’s joke to Bill Clinton about why he refused to take golf lessons ... Readers will delight in this intriguing look at the human side of the presidency.
RavePublishers Weekly... [a] soulful historical travelogue ... His vivid retelling casts the history in a romantic light, as he recounts how Garibaldi held together his volunteers with the dream of Italian nationhood ... Contrary to Garibaldi’s vision of generous, liberal solidarity, Parks’s Italy often feels atomized, alienated, and resentful of immigrants. Even so, Parks’s elegant, wry prose saves the story from tipping into despair. This gripping account of Italy’s visionary past serves as a revealing window into its clouded present.
PositiveKirkusThe author does an exemplary job weaving together different historical accounts of the march, and he brings Garibaldi’s charisma, determination, and desperation to vivid life. He is less successful at interpreting the present. His descriptive passages of the Italian countryside sing, but he provides little context for the politics and economy of contemporary Italy ... Students of historic and contemporary Italy will enjoy the author’s vivid revival of Garibaldi’s ordeal, and his dry wit is on full display, but he missed an opportunity to make this dramatic story more accessible to general readers. An account that ably retraces the flight of a revolutionary but offers limited insights into Italy\'s present.
PositivePublishers Weekly... a granular yet wide-ranging history of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) ... Bass’s personal reflections occasionally distract from the larger story, and the level of detail may be overwhelming for generalists. Still, readers with a background in the subject will consider this essential.
PositiveKirkus... a vivid book debut with a detailed recounting of a prevention program that effectively stemmed AIDS in Africa ... acronyms sometimes overwhelm the narrative ... A timely history of successful government intervention.
PositiveKirkusOver the years, [Stern] has conducted extensive interviews with those who knew him—the book is packed with quotations—and had access to personal letters, journals, and scrapbooks, resulting in this much-needed, affectionate, and entertaining book-length profile ... As the first substantive biography of Hirschfeld, this will be welcomed by art and Broadway lovers alike.
RavePublishers WeeklyThe creeping pace, melancholic tone, and full-bodied characters create a perfect snapshot of desperate youth amid oppressive tradition. This stands among the best of the current modern gothic trend.
Ed. by Barbara Demarco-Barrett
PositiveKirkusThere\'s money ... There’s the love that goes wrong ... There’s the fear that sprouts ... And sometimes all three can produce a toxic mix ... An engaging mix of the good, the bad, and the off-kilter.
Ed. by Barbara Demarco-Barrett
PositivePublishers Weekly... fine noir ... It’s rare to find a group of stories without a bad one, but DeMarco-Barrett has chosen well and there’s not a dud in the bunch.
PositiveKirkusA full-throated condemnation of the recently departed attorney general. If former Southern District of New York prosecutor Honig, now a CNN analyst, has any use for William Barr, you wouldn’t know it from these barbed pages ... [a] damning, convincing account ... A resounding excoriation of an unquestionably corrupt operator.
PositivePublishers Weekly... a sharp-edged account ... Honig draws on his own career as a federal and state prosecutor to make clear the extent of Barr’s violations, and he offers a list of useful reforms, including explicit limits on communications between the Justice Department and the White House. Though Honig doesn’t break much new ground, this is a comprehensive indictment of one of the most controversial figures of the Trump administration.
RaveKirkusMeditative short stories about the befuddling domestic lives of women and girls in northern New England ... The stories in this debut collection are full of horses. Certainly, horses are common in the landscapes of rural Vermont, where these tales are usually set, but they are absolutely everywhere here, alongside narrators whose demanding young children and difficult marriages make their daily lives gray and exhausting ... Plunkett’s strength is in the patience and precision of her interior and exterior landscapes. Like horses, too, these stories are full of beauty and elegance but also inscrutability, with Plunkett content to braid scenes and images together and let the mystery of their relationships abide. Wistful tales rendered with delicate writing and powerful perception.
RavePublishers WeeklyPlunkett’s striking debut puts a series of women’s interior lives in stark relief ... Plunkett’s keen observations will pique readers, and the stories pay off with dividends.
PositivePublishers WeeklyRiley delivers a spirited narrative of an enslaved woman turned Caribbean power broker, based on a historical figure ... While the narrative is overly long and often stalls out in repetition, Riley has made a fascinating character out of Dorothy. Readers will enjoy Riley’s depiction of Dorothy’s unconventional life.
PositiveKirkusWith gentle humor, this charming coming-of-age story captures the ups and downs of a young woman defining a life on her own terms. The narrative also celebrates dogs as the delightful garnish on the \'huge, messy…stew\' of urban life ... Warmly uplifting and wise.
María Ospina tr. Heather Cleary
PositivePublishers Weekly... smart, vibrant ... Throughout, Ospina draws out the class distinctions among her characters with stark, incisive contrasts. The strongest stories have clear conflicts, while others meander, such as the diaristic Fauna of the Ages and Collateral Beauty. Still, Ospina’s central themes consistently resonate, and some of the stories are quite memorable.
Danny Trejo and Donal Logue
RavePublishers WeeklyQuintessential Hollywood bad guy Trejo delivers a powerful and expertly crafted memoir that is tougher, more frightening, and more memorable than any of his films ... Tracing his success as an actor, he shares fascinating behind-the-scenes views of working with stars such as Robert DeNiro ... Even in recounting his rise to fame with films such as Machete, Trejo never veers from the story of how his hard work paid off by allowing him to support his family, overcome the \'environment of toxic masculinity that I was raised in,\' and \'spread the message of recovery.\' This page-turner will thrill the legend’s huge fan base.
Danny Trejo and Donal Logue
PositiveKirkus... the author expresses himself in an informal yet consistently thoughtful manner ... A raw and deeply engrossing salvation story.
PositivePublishers Weekly... sharp ... The authors play their cards carefully, balancing the buoyancy of infatuation with subtle red flags and red herrings. Blending comedy, thriller, and romance to great and surprising effect, this should have wide appeal.
PositivePublishers WeeklyThrough in-depth research, patient interviews, and police and medical records, Brottman delivers a horrifying account ... Brottman draws with authority on case studies and criminal statistics to dispel the common misconception that the insanity defense is preferable to prison and amounts to a get-out-of-jail-free card. True crime fans looking for a provocative approach to the genre will be rewarded.
PositiveKirkusBrottman, who met Bechtold while teaching a Focus on Fiction class at Perkins, is clearly on his side. The author’s meticulous research is evident throughout, and she mostly handles the information deftly, making for a smooth narrative populated by a variety of colorful characters. Her lack of objectivity is the book’s major flaw ... The doctors at Perkins claimed that Bechtold was paranoid, and while Brottman shows effectively that forced hospitalization could make anyone seem paranoid, she fails to prove that, in this case, both could have been true at the same time ... A quick and intriguing read marred by a lack of objectivity.
Caroline B. Cooney
RavePublishers Weekly... bighearted ... The author does a remarkable job of combining tones, including sentimental and snarky, while being both wry and gently respectful in depicting mentally diminished people. Cooney should win new fans with this one.
RaveKirkusNot for the easily rattled, the author’s engrossing reportage meticulously reveals the tumultuous rise and fall of NXIVM after numerous criminal indictments and prosecutions. The author incorporates critical narratives from former members, laying bare their awful experiences ... File this alongside Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear and Jeff Guinn’s The Road to Jonestown. An incendiary, serpentine report on criminal manipulation of staggering proportions.
RavePublishers Weekly...the definitive look at the NXIVM cult ... Berman’s rigorously sourced narrative brings this über-creepy story to life, and by waiting to publish until after the conclusion of Raniere’s trial, Berman has produced a more comprehensive account of the case than previous studies. This deep dive behind the headlines isn’t to be missed.
PositiveBooklistWhen the child of a globally recognized literary giant publishes a memoir, the pressure of inevitable comparison must be immense. And yet Garcia, the son of Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, has chosen to focus on the waning years of his parents’ lives, when the immediate glare of the spotlights had long passed ... The result is an intensely personal reflection on his father’s legacy and his family bonds, tender in its treatment and stirring in its brevity. Composed in short chapters of concise, honest prose, Garcia’s book pulls back the curtain to provide a view denied to journalists, photographers, and even the doctors and nurses who crowded his father’s hospital quarters, eager to get a peek at the dying star ... An intimate portrait of immense loss.
PositiveKirkusIn a slender, affectionate memoir, film director and screenwriter Garcia pays tribute to his father, Nobel Prize–winning author Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014), and his mother, Mercedes Barcha, who died in 2020 ... His son sensitively completes the story, and he includes family photos. A warm homage filled with both fond and painful memories.
PositivePublishers WeeklyThroughout, flashes of Garcia Marquez’s personality and earthy sense of humor pierce through ... Garcia’s limpid prose gazes calmly at death, registering pain but not being overcome by it, as he documents his mother’s matter-of-fact pragmatism and the deep emotion hidden beneath it ... The result is a moving eulogy that will captivate fans of the literary lion.
PositivePublishers WeeklyYoder’s guttural and luminous debut blends absurdism, humor, and myth to lay bare the feral, violent realities underlying a new mother’s existence ... Bursting with fury, loneliness, and vulgarity, Yoder’s narrative revels in its deconstruction of the social script women and mothers are taught to follow, painstakingly reading between the lines to expose the cruel and downright ludicrous ways in which women are denied their personhood. An electric work by an ingenious new voice, this is one to devour.
PositiveKirkusA new mother who fears she\'s going through a frightening and exhilarating transformation leans into the feral side of motherhood ... Though at points this novel can read as if ticking boxes from a list of notes cribbed from an internet moms\' group, it remains a darkly funny, often insightful dive into the competitive relationship and mutually generative potential between art and motherhood and the animalism underlying procreation and child-rearing. It is both a lament for and, at times, a satire of discontented, primarily White, heterosexual cis women who, without sufficient familial or community support, seek out often toxic and sometimes predatory online communities, where their propensities for a certain kind of American middle-class girl-boss elitism are honed toward \'mom shaming\' and multilevel marketing scams.
Miranda Cowley Heller
PositiveKirkusThe moody and atmospheric setting of the shadowy paths and ponds of the Back Woods is described in lush detail that makes a sharp contrast to the colder, sharper elements of Elle’s story. But the long-held secrets that Elle reveals and reckons with over the course of her day of decision cast the biggest shadow over her life and will inform the rest of her days. From the first pages of her debut novel, Heller pulls no punches. Some of them just sneak up on you later on.
Miranda Cowley Heller
PositivePublishers WeeklyIn Heller’s captivating debut, a woman’s visit to her family’s summer home on Cape Cod forces her to make a momentous decision ... When the details are revealed later on, they put the somber mood of the first half in a new light. While the story takes a while to get going, Heller’s prose is full of lush atmospheric details. This will keep the reader guessing all the way to the end.
RaveKirkusIn withholding key details from the reader early on, Fesperman is cheating a bit. But his follow-up to the exceptional Safe Houses is a breezy, thoughtful thriller that avoids high drama in favor of quick and ultimately unsettling shots to the system. An absorbing tale of terrorism with a tantalizing what if at its core.
RavePublishers WeeklySet in 1999, this gripping if uneven spy thriller from Fesperman fictionalizes the story of the terrorist cell in Hamburg, Germany, responsible for the 9/11 attacks ... Identities and motives are tantalizingly muddled, and Fesperman, a fine stylist, does a good job portraying the elusive, frustrating nature of espionage, but Saylor, more pawn than leader, doesn’t seem to be the narrative’s obvious fulcrum, and the suspense is undercut by the knowledge that the Hamburg cell succeeded in its mission. With the 20th anniversary of 9/11 looming, this solid effort is worth a look.
PositiveLibrary JournalOffering contemporary and historical context, Sampson introduces Barrett Browning as a woman of—and ahead of—her time and tracks her literary progression alongside her changing political views during an era of slavery and abolition ... Sampson’s work is marked by her careful attention to language and a desire to allow her subjects the opportunity to name themselves. A welcome update that avoids sensationalism to pursue a more complex history of a much-loved literary figure. Recommended for all collections.
PositivePublishers WeeklySampson takes an unconventional and intriguing look at the life of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861) ... Sampson makes the case for Barrett Browning being \'radical and exciting,\' as she set the stage for such poets as Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath, and as \'someone who becomes herself through becoming a poet.\' ... This account shines when breaking the mythologies that surround Barrett Browning’s reputation, but the frequent reflections on framing and mirrors distracts rather than enhances. Still, fans of Barrett Browning will appreciate this refreshing portrait of the poet as an empowered woman.
Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
RaveKirkusA sprawling, ambitious debut novel that is as impassioned in promoting Black women’s autonomy as it is insistent on acknowledging our common humanity ... In her first novel, Jeffers, a celebrated poet, manages the difficult task of blending the sweeping with the intimate, and, as in most big books, she risks stress-testing some of her own narrative threads. Still, the sturdiest of those threads can throb with haunting poignancy, as in the account of Ailey’s promising-but-troubled sister, Lydia, which can stand alone as a masterful deconstruction of addiction’s origins and outcomes. If this isn’t the Great American Novel, it\'s a mighty attempt at achieving one.
Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
RavePublishers WeeklyA staggering and ambitious saga exploring African American history ... The multigenerational story bursts open when Ailey unearths some unknown family history during her graduate studies, as well as secrets of the Black female founder of her family’s alma mater. Themes of family, class, higher education, feminism, and colorism yield many rich layers. Readers will be floored.
PositiveKirkusBraiding the lives of mothers and daughters in England and Ireland across three generations, Freud explores the joys, heartbreaks, and aching enigmas of family bonds ... Freud’s gifts for female empathy and fluid storytelling are fully evident in her ninth novel, which follows the Kelly family from pre–World War II years to more modern times ... Yet the author’s insight is apparent, both in her character studies and expression, as the ambiguity of the book’s title demonstrates. A vivid, reliable saga of female experience.
PositivePublishers WeeklyJournalist Keohane debuts with a playful account of his \'quest to master talking to strangers.\' Enriching his own social experiments (including \'the ultimate taboo of talking to people on mass transit\') with the findings of psychologists, sociologists, biologists, and theologians, Keohane unpacks the fear of rejection, notes the importance of eye contact, and details how social interaction promotes happiness ... Keohane lucidly explains the scientific and sociological research and shares practical advice on how to get past small talk (\'just a door to a better conversation\'), establish commonalities, listen closely, and bring a conversation to an end ... Keohane doesn’t fully acknowledge why members of historically marginalized groups might be less comfortable than a straight, white man with engaging a stranger on the subway. Still, his entertaining and well-informed musings will inspire readers to strike up more conversations.
PositiveKirkusAfter a year of quarantine and masks and years of severe political division, journalist Keohane shows us why it’s vital for us to come together ... Reading this book is like taking a college course that becomes a cult favorite because the witty, enthusiastic professor makes the topic seem not only entertaining, but essential ... Possibly life-changing ideas supported with extensive sociological research, lively storytelling, and contagious jollity.
RaveBookreporterFerrell’s Dear Miss Metropolitan gives voice to characters surviving unimaginable tragedy. The story is inventively revealed before, during and after the ordeal in this singular and urgent novel ... Introducing an extraordinary and original writer whose first novel explores the intersections of grief and rage, personal strength and healing — and what we owe one another.
PositivePublishers WeeklyFerrell’s innovative and harrowing debut novel draws on the Ariel Castro kidnappings in Cleveland for a story about the abduction and captivity of three young women in Queens, N.Y., and their subsequent escape in 2007 ... Composed of an assemblage of fragments, photos, articles by Mathilda, and first-person narration from the victims, this effectively unpacks both individual and collective trauma. It’s blistering from page one.
PositiveKirkusThe first part of this novel shifts between the girls’ early lives and their experiences as prisoners in Queens, New York. There are also glimpses of what happens when they are free again. Ferrell’s blend of stream-of-consciousness with dark fairy-tale elements is inventive but only fitfully effective, and sections narrated by other voices—including the journalist whose advice column, for reasons that are not at all clear, gives this book its title—are more confusing than illuminating. The second half of this novel is less repetitive than the first, but it also makes less sense ... It’s not difficult to envision this chapter as a powerful short story, but it’s a challenge to read after having endured the first half. Ferrell is asking a lot of her audience. What she gives is sometimes too much, sometimes too little. A punishing read in terms of both content and style.
PositivePublishers WeeklySharpson’s provocative debut, adapted from his play The Caspian Sea, takes readers to the early 23rd-century Caspian Republic, an authoritarian nation-state reminiscent of Cold War–era Eastern Europe, where the remnants of pure humanity hold out against an artificial intelligence-controlled world ... Sharpson skillfully evokes an atmosphere of paranoia, duplicity, and secrecy, while using the conflict between humans and AIs to probe themes of self-awareness, identity, and memory. As Sharpson pushes the narrative beyond South’s present and into an increasingly messy future, he showcases the untenable nature of the Caspian Republic and its corrupt framework. The result is a thoughtful sci-fi thriller that skillfully blends a retro spy aesthetic with future technology.
PositivePublishers WeeklyJestin’s charged and chilling debut turns on a stifling vacation that descends from purgatory into a nightmarish inferno ... Though not the subtlest portrait of adolescence, Leonard’s curt voice is distinctly effective. Jestin’s memorable vision of a crushing landscape will linger with the reader.
PositiveKirkusHere’s a book that reminds us in no uncertain terms that film noir would not exist without the French ... The short novel unfolds like an adolescent version of Camus’ The Stranger, as Leo spends pages considering the senselessness of what happened and feeling the weight of life’s ennui. The author is 26 and not too far removed from his antihero’s demographic and concerns, the everyday life here interrupted by death and guilt. At its best the book cranks out short, terse sentences like machine gun fire ... At the least, it’s a calling card for what should be a bright career. The fates are up to no good in this ennui-filled story of passive crime and guilt.
RaveKirkusA thorough delineation of neural representations, or brain maps, that affect our sensory, motor, cognitive, and emotional capacities ... Schwarzlose illuminates four primary themes of brain maps: their universality, respective uniqueness, the idea that they are created out of necessity, and their ability to give organisms the opportunity to adapt ... The scope of the book is staggering, as is the potential of technology\'s role in decoding minds, and yet Schwarzlose successfully and enthusiastically relays the research in relevant, understandable, and absorbing language.
RavePublishers WeeklyNeuroscientist Schwarzlose debuts with a fascinating deep-dive into the \'remarkable maps\' in the human brain ... Schwarzlose’s presentation of cutting-edge science is consistently accessible and concise, as is her historical perspective on early brain research ... This is deeply enjoyable and thoroughly researched—science-minded readers should take note.
RavePublishers WeeklyAstute and accessible account the challenges and double standards he faces as a Black man in America and what white people can do to help bring about change ... Ross folds analyses of Supreme Court rulings, gentrification, the \'war on drugs,\' and income disparities into his candid personal reflections, and offers a useful framework for how white men, in particular, can \'shift culture and advance equity\' by paying attention to how they receive feedback and by drawing on their own feelings of powerlessness to empathize with marginalized groups. This commonsense guide tackles a pressing social issue head-on.
RaveKirkusA Black man speaks hard truths to White men about their failure to dismantle systemic racism ... The letters are consistently compelling, covering wide ground that includes the broken criminal justice system, gentrification, and the problem with framing equity work as \'charity.\' Finally, Ross offers practical guidance and solutions for White men to employ at work, in their communities, and within themselves ... A fiery, eloquent call to action for White men who want to be on the right side of history.
PositiveKirkusGilda\'s internal monologue is weighed down with meditations on death and crippling imposter syndrome. Some readers will find it hilariously relatable while others might find it superfluous and aggravating. Gilda’s ignorance when it comes to the rituals of the Catholic Church and her bumbling attempts to blend in at work are some of the funniest passages in this dark but funny novel ... The secondary characters add lightness to the story despite Gilda\'s constant thoughts of death, offering a reprieve from her internal monologue ... Readers will find themselves rooting for the lovable but traumatized heroine.
PositivePublishers WeeklyRunaway humor sustains an otherwise grim story in Austin’s exuberant debut ... What starts out as genuinely bleak affair, with a depressed Gilda considering suicide, becomes a brisk story underpinned by a vibrant cast.
Eric Dean Wilson
PositiveKirkus... unsettling ... Having absorbed this shocking information early on, readers may expect Wilson to sound the alarm and urge climate activists to pay attention. Although that’s an ongoing theme, the author has not written a polemic but rather a philosophical attack on the free market and capitalism, which drive our obsession with personal comfort ... Wilson occasionally overreaches but nonetheless provides ingenious food for thought.
Eric Dean Wilson
PositivePublishers Weekly... a tour de force on the steep costs of living in a world that prioritizes personal comfort ... Wilson’s impressive take offers climate-minded readers much to consider.
RaveKirkusAny description of the book could make it sound like too many spinning plates, but Kupersmith manages the whirl with dexterity and confidence. The novel is epic enough in scope to require a character list and several pages of maps, but the pages fly as the reader is compelled to figure out how all the narratives will eventually collide ... Drawing from genres as diverse as horror, humor, and historical fiction, Kupersmith creates a rich and dazzling spectacle.
RavePublishers Weekly... exceptional ... offers profound and original insight on Vietnam’s tortured history ... These vivid vignettes—horrifying and hilarious by turns—are marvelously written and include nightmarish scenes of immolation, two-headed snakes, and other accounts of disappearing young women, as well as a memorable team of ghost hunters and a soul-swapping dog. The multiple pages of maps and dramatis personae at the novel’s opening help ground the reader through this disorienting but captivating opus, until the clues and characters coalesce in a way that’s both surprising and satisfying. Magic can be both benevolent and monstrous in Kupersmith’s work, and here she indelibly illustrates the ways in which Vietnam’s legacies of colonialism, war, and violence against women continue to haunt. This more than fulfills the promise of her first book.
Lyn Liao Butler
RavePublishers Weekly... riveting ... Butler weaves in convincing descriptions of Lexa’s navigating of the dating scene and the fetishizing of Asian women, and depicts a fascinatingly complex antagonist in Pin-Yen, who by the end must contend with the effect of her past actions. Butler breathes zesty new life into women’s fiction.
Lyn Liao Butler
MixedKirkusMelodramatic plot twists pile on with lightning speed, but a dinner scene in which Lexa and her two half sisters confront a White man with \'yellow fever,\' intent on objectifying Asian women, is hilarious. Other plot points suffer from a reliance on stereotypes. The central mystery of the novel, the cause of Lexa\'s estrangement from her biological father, is unfortunately predicated on a misogynist and racist caricature. Jing Tao\'s wife, Pin-Yen, is literally referred to as a Tiger Mom and is characterized in broad strokes: She forces piano lessons on her own daughter and pushes for academic success. Pin-Yen commits truly egregious acts of cruelty against the 14-year-old Lexa, but her cartoonish villainy undermines the book. If Jing Tao is truly the enlightened, loving man the reader is told he is, what would have sustained his marriage to a woman so monstrous? Why can\'t he and his wife communicate with each other like adults? That Jing Tao never noticed his wife\'s manipulations is a convenient plot device that reveals how underwritten he is as a character. The novel is trying for a breezy, sometimes-comical, sometimes-sentimental depiction of family and heritage, but such paper-thin characterizations undermine its own good intention ... Family drama cannot transcend soap-operatic plot twists and too-easy resolutions.
PositiveKirkusThe plot is twisty but not excessively so—it\'s the kind where an experienced reader can enjoy staying a few steps ahead of the reveals rather than the kind where the answers are obvious too early or are based on too many late-breaking details ... A fast, fun read for domestic thriller fans.
MixedPublishers Weekly... soapy ... Constantine squanders a clever premise and suspenseful opening with a string of increasingly absurd plot twists. Addison is a resilient heroine for whom readers will root, but her supporting cast lacks depth, and the tale’s villain borders on caricature. Fans will hope for better next time.
CC Sabathia and Chris Smith
RaveKirkus... entertaining ... Everything about Sabathia is larger than life, yet he tells his story with honesty and humility.
CC Sabathia and Chris Smith
PositivePublishers Weekly... unsparing ... Those in search of inspiration need look no further.
PositiveKirkusA distillation of the motivations and importance of Robert F. Kennedy’s life and legacy ... In equal measure, she humanizes Kennedy and those around him by using precise, occasionally exhausting detail. Though some sections are dry, the accretion of historical moments lends enough of a novelistic air to the book to keep the pages turning. The impeccably researched text encompasses the entirety of Kennedy’s political career, with weight given to the transformation he underwent in terms of how he conceptualized racial oppression and poverty in the U.S. and abroad ... The author nicely balances cogent analyses of Kennedy’s large-scale policies ... Though the author relies heavily on quotations, it’s not burdensome ... A sharp portrayal of the potential of the 1960s through the lens of RFK.
PositivePublishers WeeklyA nuanced and deeply researched portrait of Robert Kennedy’s engagement with the civil rights movement as attorney general, U.S. senator, and presidential candidate ... Sullivan makes a persuasive case that Kennedy played a crucial role in persuading white Americans to recognize the ill effects of racial discrimination. The result is an immersive and eye-opening history.
Susan R Barry
PositiveKirkusThrough stories of two amazing individuals, a neurobiologist explains how we see and hear ... Barry delivers gripping accounts of two [children who learned to recover their senses]. The first, Liam McCoy, lived in a \'cocoon of visual blur.\' ... The second, Zohra Damji, was profoundly deaf ... Both stories are inspiring and well rendered by the author. Even science-savvy readers will find surprises in this insightful exploration of how two humans learned a new sense.
Susan R Barry
PositivePublishers WeeklyNeurobiologist Barry explores sight, hearing, and perception in this triumphant survey of people who gained a sense they were born without ... Barry skillfully balances scientific explanations with empathetic stories of how senses shape the human experience ... This powerful tale is as thoughtful as it is informative.
RaveKirkusA fictional portrait of a lesser-known battle in American history ... A massacre of U.S. Army soldiers by Native Americans that foreshadowed the more famous one at the Little Bighorn River a decade later is the subject of this richly detailed but fast-paced novel ... The novel effectively inhabits the mind of Crazy Horse, a sober, determined fighter who understands that he \'must fight not for his own aggrandizement or glory, but only for the betterment of his people.\' Punke patiently escalates the tension between the opposing sides, as raids on the fort’s cattle herd and skirmishes with crews dispatched to fell trees for the wood supply threaten its survival while the tribes recognize the need to attempt a fatal blow before the onset of winter. The expansive, vivid account of the climactic battle, in which Crazy Horse acts as a decoy to lure the Army forces into a deadly trap, brings the novel to a pulsating climax.
RavePublishers WeeklyPunke again brings the Old West to life in this engrossing account of the violence and horror of a Wyoming massacre that presaged the Battle of Little Big Horn ... Punke makes the battle vivid, and draws deep characterizations of individuals on both sides, exploring Crazy Horse’s fear of impending change, U.S. soldiers’ indifference to fighting, and a captain’s lament of the breakdown of discipline and reason within the battalion’s leadership. This is historical fiction at its best.
Peter L W Osnos
PositiveKirkusA veteran journalist and editor shares a lifetime of dramatic career twists and turns ... Arranged chronologically and loaded with specifics, the narrative begins with the author’s childhood ... All of the author’s personal and professional landmarks feature colorful characters and vivid, passionate narration. Even midway through, it’s clear the book was a labor of love, though at times, his enthusiasm becomes excessively digressive. Much of the memoir’s charm comes from Osnos’ candor and energy, and he concludes with a deeply personal retrospective of thought, grateful reflection, and pictorial extras that both seasoned and aspiring journalists will appreciate. The meticulously detailed, inspiring journey of an American news reporter and publisher.
Peter L W Osnos
MixedPublishers WeeklyThe acclaimed journalist and publisher debuts with an underwhelming look at his life ... Early on, Osnos confesses that, in writing his memoir, he erred on the side of overinclusiveness; that choice inundates his narrative with extraneous details ... Other musings border on tone-deaf ... While Osnos has undoubtedly had an impressive career, less would’ve been more here.
PositiveKirkusInterwoven with Bhojpuri and Creole renderings of Aji’s songs and stories as well as Mohabir’s own interesting poetry, this distinctive memoir explores the complex, at times heartbreaking, intersection of identities and the tumultuous process of becoming an artist. A shattering and heartfelt journey from heartache and hesitancy to confidence, self-acceptance, and joy.
PositivePublishers Weekly... a moving psychological suspense novel ... As incredible as the plot’s harrowing twists may seem, any number of true crime accounts testify otherwise. Fortunately, there’s a light amid all this darkness—courageous, determined Sarah. Readers will hope to encounter her again.
RavePublishers Weekly... this dazzling collection makes a definitive case for the Pulitzer Prize–winning Komunyakaa as a monumental and singular American voice. A jazzy master of enjambment and arresting opening lines, Komunyakaa synthesizes natural history, myth, and wide-ranging intellectual curiosity into sensory acts of witness. Rarely has lyrical precision felt this muscular ... His connoisseurship of blues, soul, and jazz is vividly rendered ... In this roving survey of history and nature, violence often meets beauty, but Komunyakaa never forgets how \'The body remembers/ every wish one lives for or doesn’t.\'
RaveKirkusIn this comprehensive scrutiny of the vaping craze and the business behind it...Etter seamlessly infuses this story with that of tech wunderkind ... The author diligently chronicles the numerous redesigns of their nicotine liquid vaporizing invention, the Juul, as well as the dogged attention from tobacco executives ... Etter illuminates the crucial missteps that can occur when greed and poor leadership obscure the vision of an enterprising product. Armed with an immense body of research and insider interview material, the author digs deep into the controversial industry ... Riveting journalism that probes the triple threat of vaping, nicotine addiction, and corporate greed.
PositiveKirkus\"... emotional, introspective ... Baird skillfully intertwines her personal journey with some research and scientific data, constructing a backdrop for these reflections that readers can apply to their own journeys. It’s impossible to read this book and not sense a shift in one’s thinking about happiness, joy, and a range of other emotions. Graceful, expressive meditations on many of life’s intangibles.
MixedPublishers WeeklyUnfortunately, she flounders when wandering into bland self-improvement advice, with an overabundance of secondary sources, inspirational quotes, a platitude-laden \'my darling daughter\' missive...and cringe-inducing rhapsodies about finding one’s own \'tribe\' (alongside, it should be noted, valuable lessons from Aboriginal cultures). There are sparks and flares of brilliance to be found, but overall the assembly never burns brighter than standard inspirational genre fare.
MixedKirkusMcClorey\'s debut is a poignant comedy starring an endearing female character whose quirkiness seems to be rooted in some unspecified admixture of disorders that is never fully pinned down in the book. Maybe that\'s just the point, so readers who identify with the eccentric protagonist don\'t have to climb over a diagnosis to get there ... McClorey has the courage to make Amy less than completely likable, which gives the book an interesting edge, but her courage seems to fail in the final pages. The story stops rather than ends, pretending to be more conclusive and less depressing than it is. Like a tasty half sandwich. What\'s here is good, but it\'s not quite enough.
RaveKirkus... an authoritative writer ... when the author shows her editing process for the song, making the symbolism stronger and switching points of view, it’s a lesson that’s hard to forget. Gauthier brings that sharp honesty to a variety of songs and the topics that inspired them ... A powerful memoir that says as much about Gauthier and her eventful, trailblazing life as it does about her music.
RaveKirkusIn this fascinating, readable work, the author helps readers understand exactly how democracy is meant to work. Meticulously researched and clearly spelled out, the narrative demonstrates what democracy is and isn’t ... For such an all-encompassing, often messy, and contentious subject, the author maintains a concise, consistently informative narrative that explains key terms and theoretical frameworks in a way that should engage a wide audience. An essential examination of what democracy is and can be, how it can be abused or strengthened, and how we can move forward.
MixedPublishers Weekly... [a] muddled meditation ... Müller views the struggle through a wide-ranging survey of political theory and practice ... Müller’s hang-dog take on democracy...isn’t very directional ... This ruminative sketch asks plenty of pressing questions, but offers few clear answers.
RaveKirkusThroughout this immensely readable history, Sohn fashions sympathetic narratives of these women’s lives and underscores their invaluable sacrifices for a vital cause. Many readers will be appalled to learn that literature about birth control was once considered obscene. Stellar research in women’s history, especially crucial due to recent threats to abortion rights across the country.
RavePublishers Weekly... an engrossing account of U.S. post office special agent Anthony Comstock’s anti-vice crusade and the women who opposed it ... Blending colorful details of life at the turn of the 20th century with sharp insights into just how revolutionary these new ideas were, this fascinating history deserves a wide readership.
RavePublishers WeeklyHoby...delivers an accomplished take on class and protests against racial injustice ... Hoby’s writing sparks with inventiveness...and she offers insights on the damage of power imbalances in relationships. This speaks volumes on the shallowness of white privilege.
PositiveKirkusHoby returns to a favorite subject: unmoored young New Yorkers enmeshed in other people’s lives ... it is only when tragedy strikes back in New York that the spell is broken and Luca is left to reckon with himself—and choices he hadn’t realized he was making. A small book about small things that becomes a big book about everything.
RaveKirkus... stunning ... It\'s a delight to accompany the narrator’s astute observational intelligence through these pages ... She threads...brilliantly through the intimacies her character is trying to navigate: with new colleagues, women friends, and her beau, who goes away; with the work and with the nature of The Hague itself ... The novel packs a controlled but considerable wallop, all the more pleasurable for its nuance. This psychological tone poem is a barbed and splendid meditation on peril.
PanPublishers Weekly... plodding ... There’s something vaguely unseemly ... But it’s hard to discern what anybody is actually up to ... There are, unfortunately, plenty of unused opportunities for deeper character development; Adriaan in particular is built up as a nemesis, but he does little more than preen, while even less can be said of the various other dilettantes and sexual rivals. Subtle to a fault, this adds up to very little outside of a plethora of dinner scenes and undeveloped subplots, while the translator simply drifts through a Henry James–style chronicle of life abroad. Kitamura is a talented writer, but this one disappoints.
RaveKirkusTo his credit, the author also wrestles with issues of cultural appropriation, since in some places it’s now easier for a suburbanite to grow San Pedro cacti than for a Native American to use it ceremonially ... A lucid (in the sky with diamonds) look at the hows, whys, and occasional demerits of altering one’s mind.
PositivePublishers WeeklyBlending artful exposition of the evolution and neurochemistry of botanical drugs, erudite history, and (usually) precise and evocative prose, this is an insightful take on plants’ beguiling sway over the human psyche.
PositivePublishers Weekly... Heinrich delivers a powerful reflection on his decades of competitive running that’s nicely colored by an exploration of the effects of aging on the human body ... n evocative prose, Heinrich treats readers to precise explanations of such diverse subjects as the physiology of tree frogs and the life cycle of the \'suicide tree\' of Central America. Heinrich’s keen observations and unique story will keep readers hooked.
PositiveKirkusPassionate meditations on the pleasures and pains of a lifetime of running, with greatest appeal to fellow runners.
William Di Canzio
PositivePublishers Weekly... canny ... Di Canzio liberally quotes dialogue from Forster’s novel for dozens of pages, creating a satisfying blend of fan fiction and intertextuality. The romance and the wartime scenes are particularly well rendered, as is a postwar episode featuring Alec in Cassis. Less compelling, however, are the subplots, such as one involving Maurice’s sister Kitty. Forster is a high benchmark, but Di Canzio makes a noble effort in this inspired work.
William Di Canzio
MixedKirkusThough groundbreaking in its time for its positive portrayal of same-sex love, Maurice is inhibited by its highly visible agenda: The author’s intention for the book (that Maurice, a gay man, finds true love) is telegraphed from the first pages to the last, and every detail is in cold service to this goal. Unfortunately, though his prose is enjoyable and his book’s relationship to Forster’s original will bring real delight to readers who read the two back to back, di Canzio’s novel suffers from a similar failing. As Alec confidently diagnoses the inequities of his day, he begins to feel outside his own time period, the emanation of an author more interested in serving neat denunciations of Alec’s historical moment than in investigating whatever interior muddle that moment might stir up in Alec’s character. This may not bother some readers. But for those looking to feel embedded in the period, di Canzio will disappoint ... Fast, fluent, and enjoyable—but unconcerned with evoking the lived experiences of the characters.
PositivePublishers WeeklyChongda paints a tantalizing portrait of a changing China in his dazzling English-language debut ... It’s in this space that his writing glows, juxtaposing the beauty of both small-town living and urban life. This shines with the bright talent of an excellent storyteller.
RaveKirkusA lean, mean crime story ... Fast on its feet, by turns lethal and tender ... This is a bloody good yarn with two compelling antiheroes you’ll root for from the start, and not only because their enemies, or at least some of them, belong to a White nationalist biker club with murderous ways of its own. Lean and mean, this is crime fiction with a chip on its shoulder.
RavePublishers WeeklyIn this strong crime novel...[t]he relentless pace and at times brutal action stand out, but more memorable are the richly developed characters of Ike and Buddy Lee. Along the way, the book provides a nuanced take on contemporary race and LGBTQ issues of a type not commonly found in crime fiction. Chalk up another winner to Cosby.
PositivePublishers Weekly... tightly plotted, well-paced ... The complex relationship between Ruth and the married Nelson, who’s the father of Ruth’s 10-year-old daughter, is handled intelligently, with no unnecessary melodrama, and serves as an intricate part of the finale. Police procedural fans will be more than satisfied.
RavePublishers Weekly... stunning ... The author’s sobering recollections of his youth are punctuated with humorous and insightful encounters that include a discussion on national sociopolitical identity with Nicolas Cage and an improbable first date with a funeral director. Mott’s poetic, cinematic novel tackles what it means to live in a country where Black people perpetually \'live lives under the hanging sword of fear.\' Absurdist metafiction doesn’t get much better.
PositiveKirkus... a profound exploration of love, friendship, and racial violence in America ... As chapters alternate between the author’s and Soot’s perspectives, their narratives slowly begin to merge, unfolding into a story that is at once a paean to familial love and friendship and a reckoning with racism and police violence ... By turns playful and surprising and intimate, a moving meditation on being Black in America.
PositiveBookreporterThe novel’s premise is intriguing, no doubt about it. But what surprised and delighted me most was Hall’s wonderful writing, the rich detail of the world she’s built. Her main characters, especially El, Millie and Finn, are vivid, passionate, flawed yet righteous individuals. The Reverends --- the villainous Sisters, as well as the kind, bossy ones --- are almost as compelling. Hall’s descriptive powers stunned me: lush, sensuous, mood-establishing passages that put us right smack in the middle of Elfreda’s brain, or a physical place.
MixedPublishers WeeklyHall’s full-length fantasy debut stumbles over its many plot twists as a young woman becomes entangled in a scheme to undermine the ruling order ... Hall’s prose is vivid and the characterization is incisive as Elfreda’s involvement with the insurrectionists grows and ultimately places a target on her back, but a pile-up of minor plot swerves make for a bumpy reading experience. Insubstantial foreshadowing makes some of these surprises feel like they come out of nowhere while others manipulate insufficiently established loopholes in the rules of the world ... Readers who can forgive the flaws, however, will find this a powerful indictment of how power erodes ethics.
PositiveKirkusA rites-of-passage portrait of the graphic artist as a young man ... Bittersweet and elliptical, a narrative in which not much happens but everything changes.
PositivePublishers WeeklyDelisle opens this perceptive memoir observing himself at age 16, working summers at a Quebec City paper mill ...He also regularly overhears instances of sexism, misogyny, and homophobia in his coworkers’ conversations, which contrasts with Delisle’s occasionally naive but sincere efforts at maintaining respectful relationships with others. His cartoony and simple yet textured drawings capture the characters with insight and gentle humor, as well as terrifying close calls with dangerous machinery.
PositivePublishers Weekly... bold and surprising ... Unflinching and brave, Halperin’s story lays bare the characters’ nuanced and complicated responses to domestic violence. This haunting portrait of a broken family will stay with readers.
PositiveKirkusChapters alternate among the varying perspectives of all three women, and author Halperin expertly weaves scenes from the past into the present to build a more complete world. She also dives deep into the confused, reckless thoughts that can permeate adolescence. The characters are unflinchingly honest as they explore their emotions in a manner that is both refreshing and haunting. The novel is similarly unapologetic as it tackles difficult questions about abusive relationships, toxic secrets, and romantic and familial betrayals. While certain subplots do little to advance the narrative, this difficult story is sufficiently high stakes and relentless that it remains gripping throughout ... A bold and remorseless debut about the agony and affection that are attendant to complicated families.
Amy Mason Doan
PositiveKirkusDoan has created a story that is half set in each world as Jackie clears out the house for sale in 1999 while working through her memories of the one idyllic summer she spent drenched in love, happiness, and sunlight before everything went very wrong. Doan’s descriptions of the rugged landscape in Humboldt County create a visually rich backdrop for her characters to inhabit ... A well-written, well-paced novel that unfolds slowly, hinting at the events that broke apart a young woman\'s life.
PositiveKirkusThe author perfectly captures what it means to come home again and rediscover yourself in the process ... Make room in your beach bag for this cozy summer read.
PositivePublishers Weekly... charming if predictable ... While it’s no surprise that things turn out just fine for Kate, Miles—who develops an interest in cooking—and Ziggy, Dorey-Stein captures a strong sense of their feeling stymied now that their glory days have passed them by. It’s a modest story, but it delivers on its promise.
PositiveKirkusBurdened with the knowledge that the world is ending, an indentured servant tries to make the most of what\'s left of her life ... The narrative voice keeps both characters at a distance that prevents readers from making emotional connections with them. Levien\'s debut makes no secret of the fact that the world is ending, but its shallow character sketches lack the depth necessary to make an audience care what happens to its cast before the final earthquake comes for them. An ambitious debut that falls just short of landing among the stars.
PositivePublishers WeeklyHow to respond to the knowledge that the world is ending is the central question of Levien’s middling sci-fi debut ... Told from two engaging if underdeveloped perspectives and full of present-day analogs, this sci-fi adventure is an extended, often oddly meandering chase scene through familiar far-future landscapes. Combining detective work and slow-burn romance, Levien offers plenty for lovers of cross-genre sci-fi to engage with, but seasoned readers will long for more innovation in the worldbuilding. This is solid, but not groundbreaking.
PositivePublishers WeeklyIn her gorgeously visceral second collection, Benson explores misogynist violence through the lens of myth, bringing Zeus into the present day as a serial rapist and abuser ... The second half of the collection is more overtly personal, as the poet reflects on experiences with childbirth, motherhood, and mental health. There is chaotic beauty throughout, particularly in her physical descriptions of how the human body becomes more animal while giving birth ... This is a fiercely feminist articulation of rage and reckoning.
PositivePublishers WeeklyA brisk and intriguing account of how the islands of Oceania came to be inhabited by humans ... Thomas draws on the latest findings in archaeology, genetics, climatology, and linguistics to chronicle the settlement of present-day Australia and New Guinea ... Throughout, Thomas highlights the work of Indigenous scholars, including Tongan anthropologist Epeli Hau‛ofa, and makes the case that the region has been more central to world affairs than is widely known. With lucid explanations of modern advances in historical anthropology and evocative reflections on the author’s own fascination with Oceania, this is an accessible introduction to an astounding chapter in human history.
PositiveKirkusA scholarly survey of the current state of knowledge on the ancient peopling of Oceania ... Blending ethnohistory, archaeology, and linguistics, anthropologist Thomas asks the big questions about \'a civilization that has seldom been recognized as such.\' ... The author’s academic tone makes the book largely of interest to specialists, though his view that the Polynesians have long been \'archipelago dwellers\' well aware of their distant relatives on other atolls and high islands brings a welcome world-systems approach to Oceania, an understudied region. Students of exploration and world cultures will find value here.
RavePublishers WeeklyJournalist Zimberoff debuts with a breezy and informative survey of the food-tech industry, noting both the promise and perils of the innovations that are changing the way people eat ... Zimberoff excels at making complex issues accessible, and she leavens her survey with dashes of dry humor ... Anyone curious about the future of food should give this a look.
PositiveKirkusSchreier directs his focus toward the volatility of the businesses through which they are created and sold. The author recognizes that such an industry doesn’t generate $150 billion in global revenue without its share of defeats and melodrama ... Through firsthand interviews with veteran game designers, Schreier presents varying perspectives on how the industry’s instability consistently leaves developers and designers stranded. The author scrutinizes the consistent challenges caused by studio shutdowns, which directly affect how and where designers live ... An informed, well-balanced report on the video game industry’s passions and pitfalls.
PositiveKirkusCartoonist McPhail’s debut graphic novel follows a youngish artist’s desperate search for authenticity in a culture where true selves hide behind performative, perfunctory interactions ... McPhail’s art is exceptional—realistic if impressionistic settings and anatomic figures with cartoonish accents like bug eyes and overemotive gestures. The visuals are scrumptious and the yearning for personal connection is deeply relatable, but the story loses focus with observational bits about pretentious coffee shops and corporate jargon, and the central romantic relationship has a bit too much of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl dynamic to fully resonate. But even when beats feel overly familiar, McPhail presents them with style and grace, deftly moving the story along with subtle, impactful visual cues .... gorgeous navel-gazing.
PositiveBookpageIn his breakout graphic novel, New Yorker cartoonist Will McPhail charts a millennial’s ungainly journey toward emotional connection. With generous wit and mostly black-and-white drawings, In follows Nick, an artist trapped in a cycle of hollow conversations and extra-milky lattes. ... That In is semiautobiographical lends both tenderness and a self-implicating edge to McPhail’s lampooning of the \'woke millennial hipster.\' ... When Wren becomes unexpectedly entangled in Nick’s family life, he is confronted once again with an opportunity to be in—that is, to be vulnerable. And when small talk becomes real talk, the world suddenly seems all that much brighter.
PositivePublishers WeeklyThough snarkier and smuttier than E.M. Forster, New Yorker cartoonist McPhail’s graphic novel debut comes across as a book-length illustrated version of the Howard’s End epigraph: \'Only connect!\' ... The narrative takes an unexpected turn when Nick suddenly decides to say something personal in a glorious scene that mixes the rapturous (a montage of fantastical lush color frames in this cool and restrained black-and-white book) with the comical (the man he’s connecting with is his plumber). But though Nick’s arc toward authenticity is well rendered, it’s too easily won, with a world willing to accommodate him the second he opens up and a convenient manic-pixie love interest. This smart if somewhat uneven character study bangs together insecure urban hipster humor with raw emotion.
RaveThe Nerd DailyThis read was such a breath of fresh air and Lizzy Dent really excelled at fleshing out Birdie’s character from the context of what she’s had to go through in her past compared to Heather and how it has led her to where she is now. Wine is not something I’m an expert at and although I couldn’t quite understand half of what was expected of Birdie in this job that turns out to be more challenging than previously thought, Dent does a great job at making it easy to read and like the reader is also learning and getting through the obstacles Birdie is facing. Even as a person with the least knowledge of wine, I found myself feeling more confident about it by the end of the book and really enjoyed reading from Birdie’s perspective throughout it ... The humour throughout the book was light and although the amount of swearing surprised me a little, I loved the easy-going nature, and particularly how well the poignant moments that discussed more serious topics were integrated with such care all the while maintaining respect and sensitivity ... Overall, this was such a great read (a great debut!) and I look forward to reading more from Lizzy Dent. I’d highly recommend it if you’re keen for a fast-paced, heartwarming, and fun rom-com with found family and personal development vibes.
PositivePublishers WeeklyDent’s stressful debut sees a woman living out a classic anxiety dream as she fudges her way through a job she’s way underqualified for ... The romance is solid, but a key emotional moment happens off-page, making the ending feel unearned, and the side characters outshine self-centered Birdy, making it hard to forgive her deception as her bumbling puts their jobs at risk. Readers will need a high tolerance for anxiety-inducing humor to get into this one.
RavePublishers Weekly[A] nail-biting thriller from Cobb ... Wild plot twists keep the pages turning up to the unexpected ending. This romp is a guilty pleasure.
Grace M Cho
RaveBooklistCho has been writing this book as \'equal parts therapy and eulogy\' as she laid bare her achingly symbiotic relationship with her enigmatic mother. Nearly two decades since Koonja’s mysterious death, Cho write[s] her back into existence, to let her legacy live on the page, and in so doing, trace [Cho’s] own.\' The spectacular result is both an exquisite commemoration and a potent reclamation.
Grace M Cho
PositiveKirkusA Korean immigrant and sociology professor reevaluates her mother\'s past and their fraught relationship ... In this probing, vividly written memoir, charged with the pain of losing \'the person I loved most in the world,\' Cho moves fluidly around in time, touching on difficult as well as happy memories—e.g., her mother\'s former zest for foraging and baking dozens of blackberry pies. Using the tools she developed as a sociologist, as well as her own insights as a daughter, the author was able to shape an evocative portrait of her mother\'s past ... Though Cho refuses to settle on a specific explanation for her mother\'s illness, which creates some sense of an unresolved narrative, the author’s re-creation of her family dynamic is haunting and filled with palpable emotion. A wrenching, powerful account of the long-term effects of the immigrant experience.
PositiveKirkusA survey of the historical effects of climate on world religions ... In his latest, acclaimed religious scholar Jenkins looks at how climate change, broadly defined, has shaped movements in religion—mainly in the European realm but also around the globe. The author argues that by studying the past, we can make assumptions about the future of religious reactions to climate change. However, his forecasting is shaky, as the text becomes a catalog of natural catastrophes, each tenuously tied to its own corresponding historical horror ... the author’s attempts to tie nearly every important moment in European religion to climate issues—for instance, the rise of John Calvin’s theocracy in Geneva due to sunspot activity and Baltic Sea temperatures—will overwhelm most readers. Jenkins does incorporate other factors into his analysis, but he often forces the issue, overestimating the degree of causation between climate and \'religious upheaval.\' ... A well-researched concept that falls flat in the presentation.
PositivePublishers WeeklyIn this uneven study, Jenkins, a professor of history at Baylor, attempts to chronicle how climate change has affected religions ... Unfortunately, Jenkins’s limited lens causes him to miss some opportunities ... Despite these limitations, Jenkins marshals an impressive amount of research on how specific weather events have affected populations. Those with a serious scholarly interest in European religious history will get the most from this.
John B Judis
PositiveKirkusA sobering assessment of recent history as a string of poorly managed catastrophes ... The author projects that the class and geographical (urban vs. rural) divide is likely to grow, and with it, the problems he so cogently analyzes. Readers with an interest in global political trends will want to consult this skillfully argued book.
John B Judis
PositivePublishers WeeklyTalking Points Memo editor Judis compiles and updates his three most recent books in this lucid examination of political movements that have emerged in the U.S. and Europe over the past few decades in response to the failures of neoliberalism ... Though dry, Judis’s wide-ranging study draws informative connections between disparate world events. Readers will walk away with a firmer grasp on current affairs.
RavePublishers WeeklyMyers-Powell pulls no punches in her piercing debut ... Myers-Powell isn’t shy describing her gritty past and the delivery is stirring. This page-turner impresses from start to finish.
MixedKirkus\"... earnest ... The author’s story, co-written by Reynolds, is consistently frank and often shocking, which may deter some readers ... A gritty and relentlessly grim survivor’s tale, certainly not for tender sensibilities.
Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
RaveThe Nerd DailyThank you, Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray for writing this book. I’ve been waiting for a story that would keep me engaged till the end and finally, after a long and arduous search, I’ve found it! Writing a historical fiction about lesser-known real-life-characters is a challenging task on its own, and to make it engaging and realistic to the reader is another level altogether. But this dynamic duo did it, so kudos to them! ... I loved how the authors were able to combine history with fiction so seamlessly, making the whole story come alive. It kept me intrigued, fascinated, and mesmerised throughout ... an immersive, well-told, and thoroughly researched historical fiction about a remarkable personal librarian ... Definitely a must-read, especially for fans of historical fiction!
Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
PositivePublishers Weekly... powerful ... Benedict and Murray do a great job capturing Belle’s passion and tenacity as she carves a place for herself in a racist male-dominated society. This does fine justice to a remarkable historical figure.
Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
MixedKirkusThough instructive about both the Morgan collection and racial injustice, the book is exposition-laden and its dialogue is stilted—the characters, particularly Belle, tend to declaim rather than discuss. The real Belle left scant records, so the authors must flesh out her personal life, particularly her affair with Renaissance expert Bernard Berenson and the sexual tension between Belle and Morgan. But Belle’s mask of competence and confidence, so ably depicted, distances readers from her internal clashes, just as her veneer must have deterred close inquiry in real life ... Strangely stuffy and muted.
PositivePublishers Weekly... invigorating ... Brandon describes the \'perilous and splendid\' landscape with lyric restraint, though florid excesses occasionally emerge in the dialogue ... The same could be said for most of the novel’s characters, especially the evil ones for whom pomposity and depravity go hand in hand. These mannered flourishes don’t, however, detract from a clean, satisfying narrative. Brandon’s fans will eat this up, and it should earn him some converts.
PositivePublishers Weekly... [an] entertaining story of friendship and second chances ... Liv and Savannah’s eventual friendship is sweet, albeit too good to be true ... Alternating between the five budding couples, Clark delivers a humorous, poignant story about rebuilding after tragedy. Though the tidy ending is a touch saccharine, the appealing characters will draw readers in.
MixedKirkusClark works hard to build a diverse cast of characters, but with upward of eight points of view and a swirl of subplots, there isn\'t much room for in-depth character development ... In spite of everything, though, Clark\'s prose is engaging, her characters are likable, and the plot moves quickly enough that the shortcomings can be overlooked. This overstuffed love story is a fun bit of escapism, but it doesn\'t dig deep.
PositiveUSA TodayCasey Wilson\'s book of essays welcomes readers inside the mind of the very confident celebrity ... Wilson\'s essays touch on light topics – like eating all her dinners in bed and her dad\'s decision to get a perm – but also tackle tougher subjects including her mom\'s sudden death from a heart attack and her elder son\'s health issues.
PositiveKirkusSometimes the films are only tenuously connected to these stories—the chapter on Aliens takes a jarring turn from a discussion of Ripley, Sigourney Weaver’s warrior lead, to his mother’s giving birth—but most chapters are smooth and focused ... A moving portrait of a bond film lovers will understand: between a cineaste and the people who nurtured that love.
PositivePublishers WeeklySome of the plot points hinge on avoidable misunderstandings, particularly between Billie and Dulce, but Hostin nicely captures the Vineyard’s social nuances. This messy beach book packs plenty of drama.
PositiveKirkusIt takes a little too long to get there, though some may enjoy the leisurely setup and relentless name-checking—a concordance of the Black visual artists, musicians, authors, actors, designers, and celebrities mentioned here, along with the New York and Martha\'s Vineyard restaurants and bars, could be a valuable book in itself. Hostin\'s most serious weakness is substituting catalog copy for characterization ... Be patient—once the Le Creuset pot finally starts boiling, this book earns its place on the beach blanket ... Be patient—once the Le Creuset pot finally starts boiling, this book earns its place on the beach blanket.
Pedro Mairal tr. Jennifer Croft
PositivePublishers WeeklyThis introspective outing from Mairal follows a writer’s eventful day as he travels from Argentina to Uruguay to game the exchange rate and collect advances on two books ... While Lucas’s objectifying of Magalí wears thin, the story ends beautifully and judiciously, as Lucas must decide what he wants and who he wants to be. It adds up to an intimate and mostly fresh look at middle age.
RaveKirkusSuperbly rendered biographies of the adventurers who were instrumental in conceiving, building, popularizing, and sustaining the storied Appalachian Trail ... His character studies are uniformly fascinating, as readers learn far more than expected about these obsessive, sometimes cranky creators. No romanticist, D’Anieri also asks, and usually answers, salient if seldom-asked questions ... In exploring the trail’s \'collage of aspirations and associations,\' D’Anieri has gone a long way toward discovering its identity. Thankfully, the tone is by no means academic but rather as accessible as the author believes the AT should be ... An incisive take on an American treasure that shines with illuminating detail and insight.
PositivePublishers WeeklyIn this engrossing debut, urban planning professor D’Anieri takes a breezy trek through the century-long history of the Appalachian Trail ... In genial prose, D’Anieri captures the trail’s majesty and its power to inspire those who ramble on it. Hikers will be captivated by the rich history, as well as those in need of inspiration for their next escape.
MixedKirkusThough often sharply observed, Benoit’s essays offer too many details, which she often footnotes with observations on her own observations, as well as trivialities—e.g., how-to lists and hit-or-miss film critiques \'based on whether I thought [the protagonist’s] character was a helpful or harmful depiction of adult womanhood.\' The result is a book that should appeal to young women but that also exhausts rather than satisfies. Humorous, intermittently insightful, but overdone.
RavePublishers WeeklyGQ sex columnist Benoit debuts with a riotous collection of essays illuminating her rocky path to self-acceptance ... Heartening and hilarious, this is prime summer reading material.
PositiveBooklistReaders looking for an entertaining escape from their everyday grind will appreciate the opportunity to take a moment or two to see the world from sex and relationship advice columnist, comedian, and Twitter darling Benoit’s point-of-view ... Benoit’s engaging writing style invites laughter while she sparks serious contemplation on a variety of topics ... Readers suffering from a short attention span can easily read one essay at a time before wandering off, but will most likely return quickly for more.
PositiveKirkusA compassionate inquiry into the hidden phenomena of prison relationships ... Greenwood makes good use of interviews with prisoners, academics, and others, and the writing is observant, humorous, and even sensuous, as when the author and Jo attend a conference for prisoners’ families and hear frank talk about the realities of frustration and conjugal visits ... An empathetic and well-characterized book that will add complexity to debates about mass incarceration.
PositivePublishers WeeklyEnriched by the author’s curiosity and empathy, and shot through with memorable details (Jo and Benny \'toast[ed] each other with blue Powerade from the vending machine\'), this is an intriguing look at a little-known world.
MixedPublishers Weekly... [a] dreamy if tepid debut ... Anne Marie’s character remains frustratingly oblique. Vague memories emerge of Anne Marie’s troubled relationship with her mother, who died when Anne Marie was 15, rendering her protagonist’s hard-knock life through painful flashes that contribute to the mood but fail to illuminate. Though the novel aptly captures the characters’ sense of aimlessness, it loses its own way.
PanKirkus\"... it\'s hard not to feel that McFarlane’s talent might have been better served by taking more time to incubate. The novel suffers from the anxiety of influence: McFarlane\'s very serious young characters feel not like members of Gen Z but instead transplants from the 20th-century American novels by which she has clearly been inspired. And though she refers to solar power and cellphones, she bypasses practical realities of life in the 21st century, including politics and social media, rendering this novel curiously inert. A limited first effort from an author to watch.
MixedPublishers WeeklyMaynard shows her mastery at pulling the heartstrings in her latest family saga ... Granted, the many side plots start to feel contrived once they’re added up ... but Maynard does a good job of developing Eleanor, making the perspective she gains over the course of her life feel fully earned. Despite the melodrama, Maynard succeeds at pulling in the reader.
RaveKirkusHow much pain and loss can one person take? How can you end up evicted from a world you built yourself? How can doing the right thing backfire totally? In her 10th novel, Maynard vividly imagines a scenario that answers these questions with hard-won wisdom, patiently leading her protagonist and her readers through the valley of bitterness and isolation to what lies on the other side ... The novel bites off a lot—a Brett Kavanaugh–inspired storyline, a domestic abuse situation, a trans child, Eleanor\'s career—and manages to resolve them all, in some cases a bit hastily ... Maynard creates a world rich and real enough to hold the pain she fills it with.
Sara Mesa, trans. by Megan McDowell
RavePublishers Weekly... engrossing ... Mesa writes in brief bursts throughout, carefully avoiding formulaic plot developments as her characters spend more time together. The consequences of their encounters unfold in an ingenious final act set one year later, which is both unsettling and touching. This is difficult to put down.
Ed. by Gideon Lichfield
MixedPublishers WeeklyThe sober but hopeful sixth installment of hard SF anthology series Twelve Tomorrows...excels when focused on human impact, while weaker entries rely too heavily on stereotypes or invented technology ... Madeline Ashby’s uneven \'Patriotic Canadians Will Not Hoard Food!\' devolves into defeating rhetorical straw men, and Ken Liu’s dry, allegorical \'Jaunt\' explains ideas rather than utilizing them ... At their best, these intelligent, emotional, and vibrant stories show a compassionate way forward through an ongoing crisis.
PositivePublishers Weekly... [a] thought-provoking account ... Berkowitz segues fluidly between historical eras and marshals a plethora of intriguing case studies. Readers will be convinced that policing harmful rhetoric too aggressively \'will cause worse mischief in the long run.\'
PositiveKirkusAs much as he champions free expression, Berkowitz sharply indicts social media companies engaged in \'surveillance capitalism,\' profiting by allowing racism, anti-Semitism, conspiracy theories, and disinformation to proliferate. Still, faced with this challenge, he reminds readers that \'policing speech too aggressively risks exactly the kind of overbearing exercise of state power that spells the end of a free society.\' A timely contribution to an ongoing debate.
RavePublishers Weekly... an incisive and deeply reported portrait of the Democratic Party in exile during the Trump presidency, and the confluence of events that brought Joe Biden to victory in 2020 ... Turning to the 2020 primaries, Dovere offers sharp assessments of each candidate ... Though somewhat baggy, Dovere’s narrative is littered with rich characterizations, wry humor, and impressive insider access. Political junkies will savor this satisfying deep dive.
PositiveKirkusA carefully structured account of the many moving parts that turned the Democratic Party into a resistance movement against Trump ... A wide-ranging history of a tangled campaign—catnip for politics junkies.
Stephen Mack Jones
PositivePublishers WeeklyReaders should be prepared for a surfeit of foul-mouthed dialogue and a massive body count as the action builds to a violent lakeside showdown and troubling but conclusive revelations. Snow remains a distinctive lead capable of sustaining a long series.
Stephen Mack Jones
PositiveKirkusEx-cop and philanthropist August Octavio Snow gets backed into a third case that shows once again that all Detroit politics is personal in good ways and bad ... Ignore the tangled plot and enjoy the raucous close-ups and the joyous, unsavory overview of contemporary Detroit.
RaveKirkusAs the author vividly captures the urgency, chaos, and eerie fascination involved with the treatment of mental illness, he also candidly shares numerous patient portraits, which provide some of the most moving and disturbing moments in the book ... The combination of patient case studies and medical trainee journal creates an intense reading experience and an eye-opening appreciation for medical professionals charged with psychiatric care. Residents and those contemplating a career in mental health will find much to glean from this spirited memoir of dedication and dogged determination. Engrossing, indelible, and brimming with genuine humanity.
RavePublishers WeeklyStern debuts with a mesmerizing memoir of the four years he spent in a psychiatry residency program at Harvard ... Compassionate and candid, this is as human as it gets.
RavePublishers Weekly... a vibrant political history of Texas from the 1870s to the 2020 presidential election ... Minutaglio packs his brisk history with entertaining anecdotes, including the rumor that Bob Bullock, who served two terms as lieutenant governor in the 1990s, pulled out his handgun to shoot at rats (\'real or imagined\') in restaurants, and keeps a close eye on the ways that Black and Latino voters have been marginalized by Texas power brokers. This is a rollicking and richly detailed portrait of the Lone Star state.
RaveKirkusThroughout, readers will be captivated by a Dickensian array of colorful, idiosyncratic characters, from itchy-fingered gangsters to working-class women with a low threshold for male folly. What’s even more impressive is Whitehead’s densely layered, intricately woven rendering of New York City in the Kennedy era, a time filled with both the bright promise of greater economic opportunity and looming despair due to the growing heroin plague ... As one of Whitehead’s characters might say of their creator, When you’re hot, you’re hot.
RavePublishers Weekly... a sizzling heist novel ... It’s a superlative story, but the most impressive achievement is Whitehead’s loving depiction of a Harlem 60 years gone—\'that rustling, keening thing of people and concrete\'—which lands as detailed and vivid as Joyce’s Dublin. Don’t be surprised if this one wins Whitehead another major award.
RaveKirkusAn investigative foray into the world of deep-sea waters with a veteran marine biologist ... Scales offers crisp, engaging prose, linking everything together in an accessible, entertaining manner. With plenty of scientific research to back her up, the author displays legitimate concerns about a wide variety of maladies ... A captivating nature tour and a convincing warning that \'the deep needs decisive, unconditional protection.\'
RavePublishers Weekly... [a] show-stopping work ... Scales concludes with a convincing plea for creating \'a sanctuary in the deep,\' an international agreement in which the unexplored depths of the ocean are protected from industry, but open to science. This vivid survey hits the mark as an awe-filled paean to the mysteries of the deep.
RavePublishers WeeklySpiotta...draws up a love letter to Syracuse, N.Y., in this wonderfully mischievous and witty story ... Spiotta pulls off a surprising dive into the [feminist history] story, which informs Sam’s relationship with her own mother and with Ally while shading in Sam’s interest in local lore. This is a knockout.
PositiveKirkusSam processes all this in irrational, woman-on-the-brink ways (keying a truck, a disastrous turn at a stand-up open mic) that are typical in domestic-crisis novels. But Spiotta’s characterization of Sam is more complicated and slippery, as she begins to recognize that the entrapment she feels is as much a function of broader forces she’s helpless to control ... A violent act at the tail end of the novel both clarifies and complicates the predicament, and Spiotta artfully contextualizes Sam’s existential crisis as part of her hometown\'s history ... An engrossing, interior mother-daughter story that expands into a sharp social commentary.
Travis M. Andrews
MixedPublishers WeeklyAndrew\'s chatty approach...doesn’t ever quite pinpoint why Goldblum is a perennial cult favorite, though he never misses a chance to remind the reader he’s wonderful. Those similarly smitten with Goldblum will surely appreciate this lark, but readers looking for a traditional biography or consideration of the actor can safely take a pass.
Travis M. Andrews
MixedKirkusA meandering unauthorized biography of Jeff Goldblum emphasizing his adorable mystique during a fraught cultural era ... While Andrews establishes that Goldblum embodies a unique brand of self-knowing celebrity, his prominent, exaggerated writer’s persona becomes tedious—though the author’s core claim may appeal to well-informed trend-spotters ... Alternately entertaining and tiresome.
Ed. by Tracy K. Smith and John Freeman
RaveThe Star Tribune... a remarkable outpouring from writers and artists ... 40 moving letters, essays and poems ... This powerful, riveting collection gives us the community we have longed for during the past year, the connection we have missed. It tells us the truth; it tells us what it is like.
Ed. by Tracy K. Smith and John Freeman
RaveKirkusAngry, rueful, and defiant, the impressive roster of award-winning writers and academics portrays a nation wracked by pain ... An eloquent and urgent collection.
PositiveKirkusRachel’s first-person narrative alternates with third-person chapters written from Lucia’s perspective, their experiences combining to paint a nuanced portrait of the era and its volatility. The pace is languorous and the plot feels like a bit of an afterthought, but Phillips’ keenly drawn characters and their realistically flawed relationships will hold patient readers rapt until the book’s uplifting close. An incisive, warmhearted exploration of women’s roles in shaping society, the future, and each other.
RaveKirkusIt’s distinctive McWhorter, dense yet breezy, jumping from one reference to another ... Setting aside fashion and food, much of McWhorter\'s analysis is grounded in music, film, and stage, the histories of which he seemingly knows as well as language. It makes for a delightful style when you don’t have to stop to look up a reference, and alongside the pizzazz is real substance ... A lively and informative study, not to mention wonderful cocktail party material.
PositivePublishers Weekly... playful ... McWhorter acknowledges the discomfort these words might evoke, but maintains a light touch throughout ... This colorful, trivia-filled etymology will appeal to word snobs with a wild streak.
PositiveKirkus... a damning portrait of a federal agency in crisis ... A solid case for restructuring a neglected and neglectful agency whose job is too important to admit laxity.
PositiveKirkusThe highlight of McKinney’s authentic narrative is her treatment of relationships, and Caroline and Abigail’s growing connection as the rest of their world threatens to fall apart is at once engaging, witty, and heartbreaking. A loss of faith gives way to something much stronger.
PositivePublishers Weekly... [a] promising debut ... While the ending is a bit abrupt, McKinney otherwise successfully wrangles her plot. This stirring debut about faith, secrets, and familial bonds will keep readers turning the pages.
RaveKirkus\"... [an] excellent memoir ... She maintains the perspective she had on events at that time, vividly evoking the little girl at the center of this story: her curiosity, pain, constant concern about her weight, disappointment in her father, and idolization of her mother ... The author’s accounts of the drive and the years in Mexico are highly cinematic, and Herrera avoids the excessive commentary, analysis, blame, and self-pity common in this type of memoir, allowing readers directly into the experience. In a satisfying epilogue, the author fills in the rest of the story up to the present day. The black-and-white photos attest to the beauty of the settings and all the people in them. By concentrating on telling a colorful, absorbing story rather than proving a point, Herrera moves and transports us.
RavePublishers WeeklyIn this intimate memoir...Herrera vividly brings to life her childhood summers in the 1940s and ’50s spent with her sister swimming at the family property, Horseleech Pond, in Cape Cod and of her chaotic and often magical experiences living in Manhattan and on the outskirts of Mexico City ... This is a sparkling portrait of a rarified and complex upbringing.
PositiveKirkusRothschild, who draws on a large body of interviews with family members and a few apostates, delves into the origins of such beliefs, which hark back to antisemitic screeds of centuries past ... To conjure a truly disturbing portrait of an ever growing subculture, read this one alongside Pastels and Pedophiles by Mia Bloom and Sophia Moskalenko. Given the odds that someone you know buys into QAnon doctrine, Rothschild’s rabbit-hole dive is a valuable guide.
PositivePublishers Weekly... an enlightening history of the QAnon conspiracy theory ... Though the contours of Rothschild’s findings are familiar, he unearths startling examples of the group’s twisted logic and wide reach ... Rothschild also offers useful advice on how to help loved ones get out of QAnon. This is a disturbing and well-informed look at the darker side of modern American politics.
MixedPublishers WeeklyMorgan’s witty if uneven debut attempts a fantastical combination of millennial ennui, obsession, and shape-shifting horror ... There are a few early signs of a horror plot (in Montauk, Remy thinks he sees a giant beetle outside the window, then hears screams), but the gory transition in the final act feels abrupt. Morgan does a great job with the obsession theme, but otherwise this is a bit too messy.
PositiveKirkus...just when Morgan seems set on a deep dive into Alicia’s vulnerability to society’s constant pressure to display the most authentic version of an invented self, the plot takes a dramatic twist. The last third of the book is embroiled in the kind of gore usually reserved for less introspective literary genres, with sometimes mixed results. An ambitious debut which captures the loneliness of the internet age in deft strokes in spite of a slightly confusing end.
PositivePublishers Weekly... entertaining ... Vaughn lays out every tabletop gamer’s dream as she skillfully creates the illusionary world of Insula Mirabilis. The result is a delightful romp.
RavePublishers Weekly[A] stirring take on climate change, complicity, and human connection ... While each character’s situation appears bleak, the voices in this powerful tale continually seek something beyond the imperfection of human stewardship ... This is an excellent addition to the climate apocalypse subgenre, and the way it grapples with humanity’s dramatic influence on the planet feels fresh and bracing.
PositiveKirkusBell cleverly combines the novel’s plot threads in the book\'s late stages, and despite the elliptical structure, his central message hits home: The world as we know it is past saving if we need a monopolist to save it ... A flawed but admirably big-thinking attempt to make readers rethink climate and climate fiction.
PositivePublishers WeeklyCrouch (Abroad) pulls off an entertaining and insightful exposé of diplomatic life in Namibia with the story of three women whose children attend an international school in the country’s capital ... Crouch presses her female characters to their limits, reaching notes of genuine triumph without sacrificing the wry comedy, while the red dust and heat of Namibia radiate off the page. This is a blast.
RaveKirkusOne of the novel’s greatest strengths is the omniscient third-person narration that oscillates focus between main and minor characters. The structure helps heighten the tension between characters, the past and the present, and Namibians and Americans. In addition to sketching complex characters with rich backstories, Crouch excels at moving the plot forward while not missing any opportunity to observe the human condition. With wit and tenderness, the novel explores the complicated nature of race, power, marriage, colonization, diplomacy, and community ... A sharp, funny, page-turning romp.
RaveKirkusWhere this novel excels in particular is in Ridgway’s ability to evoke the mental states of his characters, especially when they pass outside of lucidity. That the novel opens with a section centered around an aging widow whose memory isn’t as reliable as it once was and who’s struggling with paranoia and depression in the wake of her husband’s death does a fine job of preparing the reader for what’s coming ... Once this novel clicks into place, its blend of the heady and the visceral is immersive and compelling.
RavePublishers Weekly...marvelous ... What lingers is the overwhelming sensory experience of Ridgway’s prose ... This one sets the reader’s mind ablaze.
PositivePublishers WeeklyAlong with reverently describing her furry friend—who had a “face so innocent that you would have concluded that he never stalked a bluebird, let alone dismembered one”—Raven writes poetically about the flora (“my sun-worshipping tenants”) and fauna around her. Rich and meditative, Raven’s musings on nature and solitude are delightful company.
PositiveKirkusThe touching memoir of a biologist who befriended a fox in the wilderness ... With a scientific depth of examination accompanied by lyrical language, Raven explores the development of the bond between the fox and herself as well as the natural habitat surrounding her home, including the responsibilities of landownership ... A heartfelt meditation on the power of nature and a touching homage to a beloved wild friend.
MixedPublishers Weekly...heartfelt if flat ... Unfortunately, only the two main Brittanys receive more than surface-level treatment, and sections told from a later-in-life perspective add little to the story. Though the skimpy plot reads as true to life and the elements of nostalgia are spot-on, the narrative fails to get off the ground.
MixedPublishers WeeklySestanovich’s intelligent debut collection demonstrates a gift for pithy detail that encapsulates the whole of a character’s personality or era of lived experience ... The collection finds cohesion around the quiet angst of mostly young, female narrators who long for experiences, other people, and states of being just beyond their grasp. These technically accomplished if not quite revolutionary stories demonstrate a high command of craft.
MixedKirkusShort fiction populated by characters whose various longings remain unfulfilled ... These stories are restrained, nearly aloof, despite the fact that the characters are constantly and messily butting up against the futility of their desires ... Even in these emotionally wrenching scenarios, Sestanovich remains taciturn, offering the reader images and sentences of delicate beauty but leaving much, perhaps too much, unspoken. A collection shot through with crystalline moments but that ultimately holds readers at arm’s length.
PositiveKirkusMaimon also brings the story up to date. He underscores the hollowness of Trump’s promises to bring back coal jobs and how much partisan politics have stymied halting efforts at progress. Maimon writes with a journalist’s clarity and plainspokenness; he’s an outsider but never condescending, and he’s accepting that some of the truisms about the region are indeed true ... A somber consideration of a broken region that saves the scolding for its leaders instead of its residents.
PositivePublishers WeeklyAn empathetic portrait of eastern Kentucky informed by the five years ... Throughout, Maimon’s hope for the region is tempered by an awareness of how difficult it will be to defeat \'the historical and structural forces that keep people in poverty.\' Though the overarching themes are familiar, Maimon’s sharp observations and personal stake in the subject make this a standout account of what ails rural America.
Joe R Lansdale
PositivePublishers Weekly... thought-provoking ... As usual with this author, the Texas dialect is pitch-perfect, though some explanatory dialogue can be a bit didactic. Lansdale effectively dramatizes racial and economic conflict in this searing gothic tale.
Sarah Stewart Taylor
PositivePublishers WeeklyTaylor’s adept at balancing plot and plausible characterizations. Tana French fans will be eager for the next series entry.
RaveKirkusBoth a blazing polemic against the concept of race as anything more than a means to create racism as well as a fundamental route toward active unification ... Dabiri once again pulls no punches, offering a sharp, relevant critique and deconstruction of racial categorizations, particularly the common assumption of White people as the default norm ... the author is consistently direct and urgent in her presentation ... A must-read for anyone seeking to be an agent of much-needed societal change.
Ari Larissa Heinrich
RavePublishers WeeklyChi’s classic queer Chinese-language SF novel, first published in 1995, makes its English-language debut and invites a new audience into its strange, subtle world ... Readers will notice prescient echoes of modern life in Chi’s depictions of all-absorbing media consumption and loneliness in the midst of hyper-connection. Translator Heinrich closes with helpful context, situating the tale in the cultural boom of post–martial law Taipei. Though Chi’s meandering, restrained style will be unfamiliar to many Western readers, this captivating novel is rich and rewarding.
Mariana Leky tr. Tess Lewis
PositiveKirkusMany of the delights in German author Leky’s new novel are whimsical, but even if whimsy is not your preference, it\'s impossible to escape her spell. And why would you want to escape such an entertaining diversion, anyway? ... Leky’s bemused affection for her characters is apparent on every page, and it’s infectious. This is a generous and funny novel, though Leky doesn’t shy away from the ache of separation and the painful aftermath of loss. Her townspeople accept their fates with sorrow but also good humor and determination ... we leave Leky’s world knowing that every ordinary day holds the potential for something wonderful ... A warm novel with a light comic touch.
Mariana Oliver, tr. Julia Sanches
PositivePublishers Weekly[A] thoughtful, roving meditation on migration, language, and home. In intimate pieces studded with references to history and literature, Oliver ponders such topics as the tug of home and the consequences of dislocation ... Fans of lyrical essays will enjoy this literary global odyssey.
Mariana Oliver, tr. Julia Sanches
PositiveKirkus[A] collection of 10 graceful pieces that include meditations on place, language, exile, and memory ... The author, who won a scholarship to study in Erfurt, Germany, when she was 22, considers the complexities of inhabiting language, place, and time ... Thoughtful, sensitively observed essays.
RavePublishers Weekly... inspiring and revealing ... Coulombe also offers an excellent road map for success in life more generally, showing how determination and a willingness to try new things can save the day. Readers interested in the fascinating history behind a beloved brand—and entrepreneurs looking for guidance on how to think out of the box—need look no further.
PositiveKirkusAny student of social trends, logistics, and supply chains will learn much from Coulombe’s pages and the stern dicta they contain ... Sure to be required reading in business school—and for fans of Coulombe’s creation as well.
RaveKirkusEllenberg introduces readers to a bevy of relatable mathematical concepts ... Also eye-opening are the author’s discussions of pandemics ... Ellenberg offers an engrossing discussion of how geometry can help in the fight against gerrymandering. Serious mathematics at its intriguing, transporting best.
RavePublishers Weekly... riveting ... Skillfully drawing on Packard’s voluminous writings, Moore describes her subject’s \'cheerless\' marriage to Presbyterian preacher Theophilus Packard, and the couple’s growing estrangement as Elizabeth, inspired by the nascent women’s rights movement, began to publicly question his theological beliefs ... Moore packs in plenty of drama without sacrificing historical fidelity, and paints Elizabeth’s fierce intelligence and unflagging ambition with vibrant brushstrokes. Readers will be thrilled to discover this undersung early feminist hero.
PositiveKirkus... inspiring ... Drawing on sources like letters, memoirs, and trial transcripts, Moore’s well-researched book paints a clear picture of the obstacles Elizabeth faced both during and after her confinement and the cruel resoluteness of both her husband and doctor, who tried to control her at all costs ... A vivid look at the life and times of a little-known pioneer of women’s rights.
PositivePublishers WeeklyWang’s elegant debut delves into the heterogeneity of the Chinese diaspora in stories that take the reader to settings as disparate as 1920s Canada and Nazi-occupied Vienna. Wang is equally convincing with the voice of the insecure Oxford undergraduate whose parents run a Chinese takeaway in \'Belsize Park,\' as he is with a washed-up Chinese American hockey player and deadbeat dad living in modern-day Florida in \'Allhallows.\' ... Occasionally the stories feel as if they end prematurely and avoid narrative conflict, but Wang’s prose is subtle and economical, well suited to his themes of disappointment, alienation, and departure. As the stories build on one another, they create a portrait full of both nuance and grace.
RavePublishers Weekly... keen ability to find unusual human interest angles in sports and culture journalism in this expansive collection ... Branch delivers consistently smart, startling observations—and offers something for every reader, whether or not they’d consider themselves \'sports fans.\'
MixedKirkus20 articles from more than 2,000 pieces featuring people whose passions drive them to take on intense, quirky, sometimes risky challenges ... Among the most moving were one of his daughter’s soccer games, in which a girl whose mother was slain by the Las Vegas shooter in 2017 scored a winning goal; and a profile of the Lady Jaguars, a girls’ basketball team operated by the Carroll County Juvenile Court (Tennessee) to give structure and focus to the players’ lives. Spirited tales from a sympathetic observer.
Ben H. Winters
PositiveKirkus... [an] amiable thriller ... Winters’ lively tale jumps from decade to decade and all over the map as everyone grows older except Wesley, with a growing trail of bodies and suspects to mark the story’s passage. An entertaining concoction with plenty of twists on the way to a nicely unexpected resolution.
Ben H. Winters
PanPublishers WeeklyA medical tragedy propels this subpar legal thriller ... The shifts between events a decade apart confuse more than they generate suspense, and Wesley’s plight has little emotional impact. Winters has been better in crafting characters readers will connect with.
RaveKirkus... some wickedly crafty portraits ... Wily, shrewd, and terribly sad all at the same time: the story of a soul shriveling against cool, dark, shiny backgrounds.
RaveKirkusIn her 18th book, Johnson, now 86, returns with undimmed joie de vivre to the delicious Francophile vein ... Everything one looks forward to in Johnson\'s books is delivered in abundance here: nimble plotting, witty narration, edifying juxtaposition of French and American cultures ... Johnson\'s social and moral insight are condensed into pithy one-liners that begin each chapter ... Doing what she does best, Johnson shows us why she\'s been compared to writers like Henry James, Jane Austen, and Voltaire.
RavePublishers WeeklyA welcome return to her wheelhouse in this propulsive domestic dramedy of manners ... Johnson’s usual razor-sharp prose and astute observations are on full display as she tweaks comic incidents arising out of her characters’ relationships. This provocative family chronicle resolves in a poignant ending with prospects for a promising sequel. The author’s fans are in for a treat.
RaveKirkusA trashy anti-communist novel poses a moral dilemma for a young editor ... Hilarious excerpts from the appalling manuscript provide Prose’s characteristic humor in a story that otherwise has a more serious tone than her norm. Numerous hints are dropped that this project is not what it seems, and readers who know their American cultural history may spot the big reveal well before Simon does, but Prose maintains our interest with a vivid portrait of his internal conflicts ... Smart, assured fiction from a master storyteller and thoughtful social commentator.
RavePublishers WeeklyProse holds up a mirror to a fractured culture in this dazzling take on America\'s tendency to persecute, then lionize, its most subversive figures ... Sidelong commentary on Landry\'s sexual predation, shot through a lens informed by the #MeToo era, adds further resonance. This is Prose at the top of her game.
PositivePublishers WeeklyBrodie’s breezy debut draws on the American soft rock music scene of the 1960s and ’70s to mixed results ... Brodie’s narrative is at its best when focused on the mechanics and politics of music production, which emerge from the perspectives of the band’s manager and sound engineer. Brodie also has a clear grasp of the hurdles faced by Jane as a female musician, but the romantic and erotic aspects of the novel are less convincing.
PositiveKirkusInspired by the folk rock scene of the late 1960s and \'70s, Brodie’s debut novel follows Jane Quinn, an ethereal and talented musician, as she navigates love, loss, and stardom ... Throughout the novel, Brodie thoughtfully probes the different ways men and women were treated in the music industry: the men coddled and protected in the face of their faults while the women (especially rule breakers like Jane) were taken advantage of, undercut, and vilified. If the plot feels formulaic at times, Brodie’s writing—about music, family, and grief—elevates the novel. An enjoyable debut that will appeal to fans of this iconic era.
PositiveThe Guardian (UK)The book unfolds as a string of unrepentant vignettes trading on the implied obliviousness of its readership to an underworld of \'buj\' and \'belly\' ... Besides any number of awesomely tense set pieces, steady fascination stems from Gabriel’s almost surreally overlapping identities ... It’s a mark of Krauze’s success that, far from seeming ersatz, there’s real psychological crunch to his picture of code-switching outsiderdom ... The bristling energy of this hood-life tell-all ultimately flows not only from its ultra-violent vernacular swagger, but from the more subterranean pressure of a family dynamic kept just out of view.
RaveKirkusThe narrator, Snoopz, who’s occasionally called Gabriel or Krauze, describes the violence, substance abuse, and crime that permeate the battered housing towers of South Kilburn ... Krauze doesn’t offer fresh wisdom on the causes of or cures for the hard life he grew up in, but maybe an insider’s artfully gruesome view can turn the right minds to seeking better solutions. A gritty read for its gore, drugs, and profanity, but possessed of a raw and honest eloquence.
PositivePublishers Weekly... fresh and rhapsodic debut follows a group of Florida high school friends who reunite to rediscover the ties that still bind them ... This melancholy story is a startling and necessary addition to the canon of works that parse what it means to grow up in the American South.
PositiveKirkusPlotwise, the novel is a coming-of-age story with something of the tenor of a mystery: Daniel returns to Florida to sort out why Aubrey was in a car with Brandon, an abusive and hard-drinking ex-boyfriend. But the novel’s tension comes from Daniel’s struggle to navigate the emotional and cultural baggage he brings on the trip ... The tail end of the book, which turns on Daniel’s emotional purging, runs at a somewhat disappointing low boil considering the visceral incidents that precede it. But Rodriques brings a lyrical touch to his hero’s inner life, making his past pains and present-day heartbreaks feel bone-deep.
PositiveKirkusIn one of the novel’s most satisfying twists, however, it is Julia who faces the most extreme test of all. \'The naive little house cat who believed in rules and order was being toppled by the puma who knew that some days, the only law is kill or be killed,\' she realizes of herself as the novel reaches its sly denouement. Throughout, the author deftly employs alternating points of view to expose the psychological and emotional consequences of violence while sustaining a chilling atmosphere of suspense. A deeply humane and affecting psychological thriller by a debut author.
PositivePublishers WeeklyTelling the story largely in flashbacks helps the author, herself a Maine attorney, maintain suspense and tease several major plot twists. Though the final shocker ranks strictly as a deus ex machina at odds with the novel’s convincing local color, family dynamics, and criminal procedure, Wahrer offers an illuminatingly different slant on many of the stereotypes surrounding rape cases by making her survivor a gay man. Readers can expect thought-provoking, well-plotted psychological suspense from a bracingly fresh voice.
Emilio Fraia, trans. by Zoë Perry
PositiveKirkusThese are merely moments in time, lives lived and—with the possible exception of Nadia’s—lives mismanaged, leaving disappointment, regret, or, at minimum, probing introspection. With deft precision, Fraia bares his characters just enough to reveal only these stories—nothing is extraneous. Somber, spare stories that let the reader crawl inside, searching for insight, only to be left greedily craving more.
Emilio Fraia, trans. by Zoë Perry
MixedPublishers Weekly... subtle and melancholy ... These reflective, self-aware tales eschew linear narration in favor of the characters’ somewhat understated thematic musings. In the end, the reader is left to piece together the sketches in this promising if somewhat underwhelming triptych on the nature of storytelling.
PositiveKirkus\"Through sharp reporting and good storytelling, the authors enliven a journalistic genre that in less skilled hands might have gone flat ... an abundance of fresh material gives this book an intergenerational appeal ... The authors also vividly portray events ... Some readers may fault a few of the choices—particularly that of Lennon rather than Bob Dylan as the main representative of \'protest songs\'—but even the dissenters may appreciate that the authors avoid Allan Bloom–style crankiness in recalling the ’60s and evoke the ’70s without using the word disco. An intelligent and sympathetic reappraisal of the political upheavals of the ’60s and ’70s.
PositivePublishers WeeklyCharismatic but flawed figures dominate this vibrant portrait of 1960s radical movements ... The authors duly delve into the period’s excesses and indulge in a few of their own ... Still, their vivid depictions of the era’s mix of revolutionary organizing and heady breakthroughs...make for an exhilarating, inspiring outing.
RavePublishers Weekly... [a] delicious literary thriller ... Perceptive, often amusing insights into a writer’s mind make this a standout. Lippman is in top form for this enticingly witty, multilayered guessing game.
PanKirkus\"There\'s a moment in Lippman\'s latest novel when her delightful series detective, Tess Monaghan, walks into the room and, for a moment, it seems everything could be all right. Unfortunately, it\'s just a cameo, and we\'re soon back with our uninspiring cast of three ... the reader sometimes feels as stupid as Gerry thinks everyone is. It\'s too bad this book has to be compared to Misery, because despite similarities in setup, it\'s no Misery. All the reveals come after you have figured them out; the murders are played for camp. The most gaspworthy moment in the book comes in the author\'s note ... In her 25th novel, Lippman messes up a near-perfect batting average.
RaveKirkusA journalist reconstructs the brazen exploits of two World War I prisoners of war who faked mental illness to escape from \'the Alcatraz of its day.\' ... Fox tells a brisk story filled with colorful background on the magic, spiritualism, and psychiatry of the day. What’s unclear is why Jones and Hill went to such extraordinary lengths to escape when, for prisoners, they passed the time in what Jones described in his memoir as \'comparative ease.\' ... Fox provides little compelling evidence that such factors drove her heroes. Jones and Hill showed remarkable daring, but their motives remain elusive in a tale that, despite its title, is more plot- than character-driven. The brisk true story of a jailbreak so bizarre it might rate an entry in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
PositivePublishers Weekly... sharp and sometimes fantastical ... How these narratives connect is left to the reader to decide. Whether striking chords that are playful, poignant, or both at once, this collection consistently charms.
MixedKirkusBoth stories feel a little simple—the boyfriend too cruel, the father too quick to understand. Instead, DiFrancesco’s gothic tales, which are wonderfully creepy, are the real winners here ... A mixed bag with a few standouts.
MixedKirkusThe interwoven lives of artists, failed and successful ... Brundage’s characters are convincing, if mostly of the sort you’d meet in the Hamptons or at tony Chelsea galleries; at its best and most emotionally fraught moments, her novel could be bookended by Christopher Bollen’s Orient and André Aciman’s Eight White Nights. The resolution, however, seems a bit pat, as does the complication that sends Rye’s life into free fall ... An elevated soap opera but a well-written and affecting one.
PositivePublishers WeeklyAn engrossing story about a love triangle involving three photographers ... The first half of the novel brilliantly dissects the competitive and erotic entanglements that mark the characters, and Brundage is particularly good at using photographic theory to describe how each sees the world. Some of the nuance diminishes in the second half, as the mystery about how everyone is connected comes into focus and the characters flatten out. Still, the portrait has enough depth to hold the reader’s gaze.
RavePublishers Weekly... sobering, well-crafted ... Dykstra casts a searing light on racism, sexism, and the stigma of being a \'bad\' girl. This is the perfect blueprint for any true crime writer moved to investigate a cold case.
PositiveKirkusWith the same verve demonstrated in her debut, Montell explores how language can manipulate masses of people in detrimental ways. Using accessible prose, the author discusses the varied definitions of the word cult, the dangers of universally demonizing its terminology, and its murky history as society’s relationship with spirituality has evolved ... The author is an engaging storyteller, sharing tales of bizarre cult behavior found in a vast spectrum of memberships and organizations, including her own hard-sell encounter with Hollywood Scientologists ... With a provocative combination of interviews, anecdotes, and scientific and psychological research, Montell educates and empowers readers to become more aware of \'the varying dialects of Cultish that imbue our daily lives\' ... A fascinating, enthusiastic narrative on the loaded language of cults.
PositivePublishers Weekly... vivid ... Though the personal digressions occasionally distract from the bigger picture, Montell is an engaging and well-informed tour guide through the world of \'cultish scenarios.\' This intriguing account is worth a look.
Miljenko Jergović trans by. Russell Scott Valentino
RavePublishers WeeklyBosnian writer Jergović (Mama Leone) pulls off an intricate and innovative narrative encompassing biography, history, travelogue, and fiction ... Jergović devotes the first section to quotidian ancestral history, but even here the scope widens with soaring chapters on the geopolitical changes after WWII ... Jergović’s exhausting and astonishing project offers endless rewards.
Miljenko Jergović trans by. Russell Scott Valentino
RaveKirkusVast, generous-spirited ... Jergović’s pages are peppered with walk-ons from Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian history ... There is beauty aplenty, and ample monstrosity, in Jergović’s account ... A masterwork of modern European letters that should earn the author a wide readership outside his homeland.
RaveKirkusThe story of the theft is a fairly straightforward matter, with the usual red herrings. What is of more interest to readers looking between the lines is Padura’s unforgiving portrait of the Cuba of 2014, a couple of years before Fidel Castro’s death, in which there are definite haves and have-nots, the latter of whom live in shantytowns and lack \'running water, sewers, electricity, or the ration books that guaranteed Cuban citizens minimum subsistence at subsidized prices.\' In such appalling conditions, the loss of a religious statue should seem a small thing—though, of course, it’s not. An elegant blend of mystery and sociology by one of Cuba’s most accomplished writers.
RavePublishers WeeklyDressed in the grungy trappings of a crime drama, this literary tour-de-force from Padura (Grab a Snake by the Tail) offers a colorful cultural history of Cuba and the island’s historical contact with Europe that helped to shape its people’s religious beliefs ... The author forges a wondrous connection between the past and present through his characters’ faith in the statue’s occult powers and through a vivid portrait of a decayed Havana, where vestiges of opulence glimmer in the ravages of time. Padura’s novel will appeal equally to genre fans and lovers of literary thrillers.
RaveKirkusMoments of reckoning both personal and environmental are centered in this debut collection of lightly linked stories set in the American West ... Set against a larger backdrop of energy debates, environmental disasters, and climate change, Boyles’ stories are skillfully layered explorations of the politics and power plays within families, workplaces, and communities. Yet this collection’s true mastery is in the rich and varied voices of the characters and in the small moments in which they reach for hope despite all that has crumbled around them. Deliberate and compelling.
RavePublishers WeeklyBoyles’s debut collection bristles with intelligence and determination as her characters face the harsh realities of the American West, from the 1970s to the near future ... At their best, the stories of women dealing with messes men left behind evoke the characters’ grit and hope as well as a sense of place, colored in by their concern for the environment. Fans of Annie Proulx and John Sayles will love this.
RavePublishers WeeklyWinfrey (Waiting for Tom Hanks) delivers a sweet and fluffy rom-com ... With plenty of smile-worthy misadventures along the way, this light, down-to-earth romance is sure to charm.
PositiveKirkusAs in previous books, Winfrey has created a straightforward story with pop-culture nods, strong and supportive friends, and complicated-but-loving families. The core of the book grapples with the question of just what constitutes happiness and how to strike the right balance between work and life. Fans will be happy to settle into this cozy rom-com and its comfortably unfolding story.
E J Levy
PositiveKirkusThe relationship between Perry and Lord Somerton takes up a substantial part of the novel; indeed, it often reads like a Regency romance written by a \'literary\' author. Levy uses language with care, and there are some beautiful scenes here ... Artfully written but more likely to attract attention for its subject than its author’s craft.
E J Levy
PositivePublishers Weekly... elegant and provocative ... Levy provides rich insights on the effects of men’s desire ... While many trans advocates and allies will take issue with Levy’s feminist framing of Perry’s story (and, indeed, some already have), which involves Perry referring in his narration to his past self \'Margaret\' as \'she,\' Perry’s narration brims with fascinating details about medicine and social mores of the time. This beautifully written work will spark much debate.
PositiveKirkus... the author takes advantage of his detached position to meditate, objectively but not without compassion, on Williams as not just a tennis player, but a cultural figure and human being as well ... The author shifts smoothly among observations of Williams\' often less-than-impressive performances during the year, stories of her earlier life, memories of other matches he had seen her play over the years, and nuanced reflections on his subject matter ... Readers who know more about Williams than her tennis career will learn about the game\'s intricacies while those already familiar with the game will benefit from subtler details ... A scrupulous examination of the career twilight of \'the most consequential athlete of her time.\'
MixedPublishers Weekly... serviceable ... Marzorati had no special access to Williams or to those closest to her, and his collage-like book, while well written, offers little new about Williams. He does, however, enthusiastically break down each game Williams played in 2019 and peppers in information about her personal life ... This is a solidly reported book, but Marzorati doesn’t do quite enough to show what makes his subject tick.
PositivePublishers Weekly... witty and imaginative ... This multifaceted, openhearted account reveals L.A. as a \'shifting mosaic of human potential\' unlike any other place in the world.
MixedKirkus... there’s not much new in these pages, which tend to the aridly bookish without the charm and good humor of the author’s entertaining Paris, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down (2012). At one point, Baldwin quotes or cites three books in a mere 12 lines, which is at least intellectually honest: He’s not presenting anyone else’s thoughts as his own, an unusual bit of purity in the bricolage culture of Hollywood. On that note, the author is at his best when he tests commonly accepted tropes and finds many wanting. The narrative takes on topical urgency when it addresses issues of racial and social justice ... Baldwin is worth reading on all those scores but only after one has ingested the works of Mike Davis, Reyner Banham, Gustavo Arellano, Joan Didion, David Ulin, and others ... A footnote to larger and more in-depth portraits of the City of Angels, though not without merit.
RavePublishers WeeklyHarris peoples the small community with well-developed characters ... Harris writes in intelligent, down-to-earth prose and shows a keen understanding of his characters, and while the plot leads to several tragic events, there’s a tinge of hope at the end. This character study is credible and deeply moving.
PositiveKirkusThroughout the tumult, all three members of the Walker family discover reserves of unexpected courage and resolve—and one can’t help believing that if most of the other characters carried within them the empathy and grace displayed by the author of this compelling postbellum saga, most of the awful things that happen to them and their immediate surroundings would have been avoided ... An impressive debut by a storyteller with bountiful insight and assurance.
Peter S. Canellos
PositivePublishers WeeklyBiographer Canellos intertwines in this original and eye-opening biography the lives of Supreme Court justice John Marshall Harlan and his rumored half-brother, Robert Harlan, who was born a slave ... Written in lively prose and enriched with colorful character sketches and a firm command of the legal issues involved, this is a masterful introduction to two fascinating figures in American history.
Peter S. Canellos
PositiveKirkusCanellos, the former executive editor of Politico, delivers the riveting story of a courageous Kentucky lawyer who initiated significant challenges to anti–civil rights measures during an era of ubiquitous bigotry ... Given the recent heated debates about Supreme Court justices and civil rights legislation, this expert biography is especially timely and significant. An impressive work of deep research that moves smoothly along biographical as well as legal lines.
PositiveBookreporterPoignant and profound, Legends of the North Cascades brings Jonathan Evison’s trademark vibrant, honest voice to bear on an expansive story that is at once a meditation on the perils of isolation and an exploration of the ways that connection can save us.
MixedPublishers WeeklyAn intimate if uneven story of grief and parenthood with characters from two distant millennia ... Chapters about an Ice Age mother and child alternate with Dave and Bella\'s increasingly perilous situation and with gossip about Dave conveyed through interstitial monologues from various folks back home. The parallel narratives of familial trust and parent-child conflicts among the ancient people and between Dave and Bella develop effectively in tandem, though the idea of some kind of psychic connection between this young girl and her Ice Age predecessors feels strained ... Despite its faults, Evison\'s empathetic vision offers much to consider about the limits of parental authority and the capacity for both physical and emotional survival.
RavePublishers WeeklySeemingly benign coincidences become clues to a mind-bending scavenger hunt in Miles’s outstanding debut technothriller, set in the world of his podcast of the same name ... Miles masterfully combines mystery, danger, and scientific theory to bring the game to life until readers are just as caught up in searching for the next clue as the characters themselves. It’s a wild ride and it proves impossible to put down.
RaveKirkusDebut novelist Miles is known for creating hit podcasts, and while this peculiar augmentation doesn’t quite stick the landing, its premise is spellbinding. Its namesake podcast is a missing persons mystery, but this sidequel digs far deeper into the mysteries surrounding the clandestine alternative-reality game at its heart ... A twisty, timey-wimey roller coaster that morphs seamlessly from treasure hunt to conspiracy thriller to escape room.
PositiveKirkusA revealing memoir from the legendary singer’s road manager ... Oppedisano (b. 1951), a Long Island singer who became part of the Rat Pack’s inner circle after befriending famous club owner and Sinatra confidant Jilly Rizzo, offers plenty of eyewitness details from the legend’s final years. He also recounts Sinatra’s side in various famous relationships and disagreements ... Oppedisano does seem to reliably report what he has seen, including the occasional angry outburst or unexpected surrender ... Whether doting conclusions like that are true or not, it is hard to question the author’s access to Sinatra, especially in his final years ... A must-read for Sinatra fans, this lovingly written, sweetly devoted account may even solve some pop-culture mysteries.
RavePublishers WeeklyOppedisano debuts with a remarkable look at the final years of one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century ... This fascinating and intimate account stands out among the dozens of books written about the celebrated legend.
PositivePublishers WeeklyA brisk account of the city-state of Thebes focused on the Sacred Band, an elite fighting force made up of 150 \'male couples, stationed in pairs such that each man fought beside his beloved.\' ... Though short on specifics about the Sacred Band itself, Romm lucidly describes the era’s complex power struggles ... This is an eye-opening and immersive portrait of a little-known aspect of ancient history.
RaveKirkusA vivid portrait of ancient Thebes ... Romm weaves into a brisk narrative of military strategies, expedient alliances, supernatural interventions, and political rivalries an examination of the idea of the male eros ... As in ancient Greece, Uranians were heartened to discover the connection of male eros to heroism and valor. A spirited, informative classical history from an expert on the subject.
RaveKirkusA feminist historian and cultural critic explores how age-old myths about gender roles and behaviors have shaped the history of medicine ... Throughout this illuminating and disturbing survey, Cleghorn argues convincingly that this is because medicine is a patriarchal science ... Thoughtful and often disturbing, this exhaustively researched book shows why women—including minority women and Cleghorn herself, who has lupus—must fight to be heard in a system that not only ignores them, but often makes them sicker. Powerful, provocative, necessary reading.
PositivePublishers WeeklyCultural historian Cleghorn’s meticulous and wide-ranging debut examines the links between patriarchy, misogyny, and the mistreatment of women’s health needs ... After building a damning historical case against the medical field, Cleghorn shares the harrowing story of how her symptoms were \'overlooked, ignored, and dismissed\' for seven years before she was diagnosed with lupus. The result is a deeply informed and passionately argued call for change.
PositivePublishers WeeklyJournalist Martino draws from more than 100 interviews, primarily with eyewitnesses and participants, to provide a detailed account of the scandal that tainted the Houston Astros’ 2017 World Series victory ... Martino makes the story accessible to casual fans, with enough detail to sate diehard fans of the sport. This account serves as a nice addition to the growing canon of books about sports scandals.
PositiveKirkusA sportswriter recaps one of the biggest cheating scandals in baseball history ... A deeper book would have delved further into the scandal’s implications—on the game, on players and unions, on the role of technology and social media—but this one succeeds as a well-written work of straightforward reportage certain to appeal to baseball fans. Along the way, Martino documents countless jaw-dropping examples of moral laxity ... An entertaining account of one of baseball’s sorriest chapters.
RaveKirkusThe best study to date of the Carter era and a substantial contribution to the history of the 1970s.
RavePublishers Weekly... a lucid, penetrating portrait that should spur reconsideration of Carter’s much-maligned presidency
RavePublishers Weekly... clever ... Vernon keeps the suspense high as the plot twists and turns to the satisfying resolution. This is a no-brainer for Patricia Highsmith fans.
MixedKirkus... it’s Vernon’s penchant for piling metaphor on top of metaphor that is most trying ... It’s also noteworthy that, while chapters alternate between Oliver\'s and Nathan’s perspectives, they have indistinguishable voices. A gripping story rendered in overwrought prose.
RaveKirkus... sharp and concise ... A thought-provoking study in civics, history, and the decline and fall of self-government.
MixedPublishers WeeklyPacker presents sharp, insightful critiques of all sides [...] but occasionally slips into melodrama ... Worse, his economic determinism rarely addresses the substance of divisive issues such as immigration, transgender rights, and policing. This eloquent yet unfocused take on American politics further muddies the waters.
MixedKirkusIn a smooth mixture of memoir, family biography, cookbook, travelogue, and travel writing, Phillips ably conveys her knowledge of Chinese cuisine even though she is not Chinese ... The narrative is most enjoyable when the author narrates her memorable experiences with meals both decadent and delicate, painting vivid pictures of enticing aromas and flavors ... However, the author’s detailed retelling of [the author\'s husband\'s] family history sometimes feels out of place, as do the often dry, lengthy historical tangents. Recipes appear throughout, often tied to engaging stories of the author’s life with J.H. as a young couple in Taipei, falling in love and making food for friends and family. Helpfully, Phillips often includes substitutes for ingredients difficult to find in the U.S. and tips for achieving the most authentic results, recounting which shop owners, cooks, or friends passed the tips along to her. It may take an extra trip to the store, but the recipes are worth the effort. The line drawings are pleasant if unexceptional. A uniquely presented story of love and food that reaches across genres and generations.
RavePublishers WeeklyIn this multifaceted memoir, food writer Phillips (All Under Heaven) vividly recounts her love affair with Chinese cuisine ... Phillips’s reflections are peppered with humor [...] Phillips’s reflections are peppered with humor ... Phillips pairs every chapter with a few recipes [...] that ambitious home chefs will want to try. The blend of cooking, culture, and romance make this an irresistible treat for food lovers and travelers.
RaveKirkusA collection of short stories exploring the emotional complexity, diverse physicality, and layered sexuality of resourceful women ... Within each tale, author Liu gives a masterclass in the art of storytelling. She doesn’t waste a word or a comma, nor does she miss an opportunity to dive into what makes us human, no matter who we are or who we love ... The only drawback to these seven stories is that readers will want far more time in each world.
RavePublishers WeeklyLiu (the Monstress series) charms with this spellbinding collection of six short stories and one novella ... Liu’s mastery of so many different subgenres astounds, and her ear for language carries each story forward on gorgeously crafted sentences. This is a must-read.
Annie Murphy Paul
PositivePublishers WeeklyScience journalist Paul pushes back against the idea that brains are \'a cordoned-off space where cognition happens\' in this thoroughly reported look at myriad types of thinking ... Paul’s knack for finding real-world scenarios to illustrate scientific ideas makes this pop and lends much credence to the theory that an isolated mind isn’t the sole source of intelligence and creativity. Her fresh approach hits the mark.
Annie Murphy Paul
PositiveKirkusA look at the science behind the parts of our consciousness and ideation that lie outside the body ... Paul examines the well-known effects of walking on mind improvement and the use of gesture to both build memory and to pull words out of the air (or mental databanks, more properly) as we speak ... Paul does a good job of drawing together the many extensions of mind that surround us, exhorting readers to \'re-spatialize the information we think about.\' ... It helps to have a brain to think with, but Paul capably shows that there’s much more to the process than all that.
PositiveKirkusA well-documented, engaging history of a program that treated writers as valuable citizens.
PositivePublishers Weekly... wide-ranging and deeply researched ... Delving deep into the program’s day-to-day operations, Borchert describes the difficulties some regional offices had in hiring competent writers, and tensions over whether the goal of the FWP was \'simply to provide work or to nurture the creative energies of the people it employed.\' Though long-winded at times, Borchert’s lucid prose brings the FWP and its colorful personalities to life. Literature and history buffs will learn much from this immersive portrait of 1930s America.
RaveKirkusGradually, as Imamura’s taut narrative unfolds, we realize just how much of her own life the narrator is willing to give up or, indeed, destroy for the sake of her obsession ... Imamura’s pacing is as deft and quick as the best thrillers, but her prose is also understated and quietly subtle. Occasionally the dialogue can feel somewhat canned ... Still, this is a minor complaint of a novel that is, overall, a resounding success. A subtly ominous story about voyeurism and the danger of losing yourself in someone else.
PositiveBookreporterStudiously deadpan and chillingly voyeuristic, The Woman in the Purple Skirt explores envy, loneliness, power dynamics and the vulnerability of unmarried women in a taut, suspenseful narrative about the sometimes desperate desire to be seen.
PositivePublishers WeeklyJapanese author Imamura invites the reader to become a voyeur of the everyday in her graceful English-language debut, in which plot takes a backseat to character study ... Psychological thrillers fans who appreciate subtlety should take a look.
RaveKirkusAn acclaimed African American essayist puts forth a first novel whose quirky romanticism, vivid landscapes, and digressive storytelling owe more to classic European cinema than conventional literature ... At times, even with McCarthy’s allusive style and illuminating observations carrying them along, readers may become unsettled by the drift and dysfunction of its protagonist. But if ever there was an example of a quest story where the quest matters more than the objective, it’s this coming-of-age novel. An intellectually stimulating fiction debut.
RavePublishers WeeklyReid’s fast-paced debut examines religious freedom through the lens of myth and magic ... Reid’s atmospheric prose evokes fairy tale enchantment as Évike and the woodsmen traverse a forest filled with monsters ... Fantasy romance fans will enjoy watching tortured Gáspár and fiery Évike warm to each other over legends, monster battles, and their shared outcast status as their quest takes them into the frozen north ... The convincing enemies-to-lovers romance, fascinating religion-based magic system, and thoughtful examination of zealotry make this a notable debut.
PositiveKirkusThere is an overreliance on simile in the prose, and sometimes the action gets muddled, but overall this is an impressive debut. Reid’s academic background in ethnonationalist religious history is used to great effect here, and she shows how folklore is bent and twisted to fit the dominant culture of the moment. Reid wades thoughtfully into thorny conversations about religious persecution, identity, and personal sacrifice. Compelling, complicated, and worthwhile.
Krys Malcolm Belc
RaveKirkusArranged in patchwork fashion (several essays were previously published), this intimate tapestry of a family includes numerous anecdotes about many of Belc’s formative moments and experiences ... Belc smoothly weaves in scientific and social research, even if the timeline isn’t always easy to follow. But such is life: abstract, nonlinear, unable to be forced into tidy compartments. At times, the use of third person is excessive, a literary garnish to a story that is already rich in content. Nonetheless, Belc develops a candid, gritty, tender story that should garner empathy and understanding regardless of a reader’s background. In this multilayered narrative, augmented with black-and-white photos, the author successfully holds readers’ attention all the way through the last poignant line. With vivid rawness, Belc paints an impressionist mural of what it means to be a parent while also birthing his true self.
PositiveKirkusDuring the Harlem Renaissance, a young Black woman searches for a serial killer and finds her adult identity in the process ... The mystery is slapdash, with a series of female victims and suspicion randomly ricocheting among multiple male characters. But Louise’s fight for respect and dignity is depicted with infectious passion. A promising, if uneven, debut novel (and series kickoff) with a vibrant setting.
PositivePublishers WeeklyLouise immerses herself in the case, taking increasingly big risks to uncover the truth as the body count climbs. Readers will root for intrepid, fiery Louise, who elevates the mystery despite a disjointed investigation and haphazard denouement. The author couples tender relationships with strong senses of era and place. Afia has made an auspicious start.
PositiveKirkusForgotten books earn their readers’ attention ... Most contributors are academics, with a smattering of fiction and poetry writers. Their choices are eclectic, their essays enlightening ... Erudite and appreciative essays on what and why to read.
RavePublishers WeeklyMore than being just a collection of \'what to read next\' suggestions, the pieces easily convey a sense of how powerful reading can be. Book lovers are in for a treat.
PositiveKirkusThreading together these two lives, Cronin not only embellishes Lenni’s brief sojourn with Margot’s dramatic adventures, but also nimbly avoids drifting into sentimental clichés. So as Lenni’s health declines, Margot’s stories chase her true love through a broken marriage, criminal escapades, unexpected liaisons, and even a lost chicken story. A whimsical, joyous portrait of the ends of things.
PositivePublishers WeeklyRyan impresses with this gorgeous and meticulous multigenerational family saga ... Ryan’s sentences have a gentle ramble, which, along with the story’s subtle and oblique revelations, may test some readers’ patience. Fans of Sebastian Barry and Anne Enright will love this delicate and lush portrait.
PositiveKirkusA study of Napoleon Bonaparte’s life with an emphasis on horticulture that, believe it or not, works ... Readers will learn a lot about the design and layout of the gardens as well as the controversy and expense involved. A diligent historian, Scurr does not ignore the wars and politics that dominated Napoleon’s life, and she concludes with a vivid account of the battle of Waterloo, in which the chateau of Hougoumont, with its \'high garden walls,\' played a central role. Those seeking more details will want a traditional work. Andrew Roberts’ 2014 biography should be the first choice, but this is a welcome addition to the literature ... A wealth of natural history and a fine Napoleon biography.
PositivePublishers Weekly... unusual and perceptive ... Even readers well-versed in Napoleon’s rise and fall will learn something new from this gracefully written and imaginatively conceived portrait.
Shawna Kay Rodenberg
RaveKirkusA powerful and surprising story of an Appalachian childhood ... the author\'s densely detailed writing style makes for engrossing reading ... This is a bountiful, sometimes haunting story, but Rodenberg\'s structural choices may deter some readers. Her first-person story is told in a sometimes-confusing order, interrupted by novelistic third-person sections recounting the early lives of her parents and other relatives. This approach doesn’t always work, but it’s a minor quibble for an important memoir. Rodenberg\'s depth of feeling, intelligence, and love open eyes and demolish stereotypes.
Shawna Kay Rodenberg
PositivePublishers Weekly... a vivid coming-of-age account ... While there isn’t much of a denouement, Rodenberg’s narrative is sobering and wisely avoids the cliches and stereotypes common to similarly themed memoirs. This engrossing series of dispatches offers a humanizing take on an Appalachia not often seen
RaveKirkusA moving memoir ... Hauck creates indelible portraits of the wounded, lonely, and disillusioned boys, some of whom lashed out in anger at a world that had failed them ... Hauck’s sensitive memoir honors the boys she nourished. A captivating debut.
Paula Stone Williams
PositiveKirkusShe has broken free from evangelism to \'embrace a more generous expression of the Christian faith,\' and consequently, the fundamentalist church has rejected her. Nonetheless, the author continues to describe her journey in religious terms, seeing her transition and life experience as a \'sacred and holy adventure\' ... Not just a compelling personal memoir, this book holds lessons for all of us.
Paula Stone Williams
PositivePublishers Weekly... [an] earnest, empathic debut ... While she examines her new perspective with humility and grace, Williams’s observations about patriarchy won’t come as revelations to most women and LGBTQ readers. Those haunted by evangelical culture will find much to ponder in this story.
RavePublishers WeeklyKelly...explores in her powerful latest the tenuous line between desire and trauma in poems that ache with memory and revelation ... A skillful practitioner of metaphor, Kelly refers to both the father and the spouse in these poems in mythopoetic terms as gods with the power to either grant the speaker some form of grace or to cause utter destruction ... This devastating collection makes a startling and memorable elegy of those ashes.
RaveKirkusHastings’ first full-length narrative of war at sea measures up to his usual high standards ... Real-world war is sloppier than the Hollywood version, even more so under the author’s gimlet eye. Heroism was in abundant supply but not universal. Through Hastings’ keen analysis we see how commanders on both sides showed as much bad judgment as intelligence ... Another enthralling Hastings must-read.
RavePublishers Weekly... a sterling account ... Buoyed by prodigious research and vivid prose, this is a brilliant illumination of one of WWII’s most dramatic episodes.
RaveKirkusThe author clearly shows that fear and self-censorship work in the U.S. as well as anywhere in the world. As for the pandemic and Trump’s failings there, the U.S. emerges as \'a country that killed hundreds of thousands of people through our own unique blend of incompetence and irrationality,\' no model for anyone. It’s a stinging, and entirely well-founded, rebuke of a political strain that shows no signs of disappearing. A powerful synthesis of recent world history that should disabuse readers of any notion of American exceptionalism.
RavePublishers Weekly... extraordinary ... Vo balances the increasingly entangled lives of Jordan and her friends with flashbacks to Jordan and Daisy’s childhood and teen years. The plot unravels tantalizingly slowly, and Vo’s immersive prose never ceases to captivate. The Gatsby-related details and hints of magic will keep readers spellbound from start to finish.
RaveKirkusVo has crafted a retelling that, in many ways, surpasses the original, adding logic and depth to characters’ motivations while still—uncannily—unspooling the familiar story. Astonishingly crafted, with luscious prose and appeal for both fans of the original and those who always felt The Great Gatsby missed the mark. With magic creeping in around the edges, this is a unique, well-developed, and haunting Gatsby retelling.
MixedThe Wall Street JournalMr. Tresch keeps to a steady course. He approaches Poe’s uncanny lecture—and its published version, the prose poem \'Eureka\'—not as a crazy fever dream, but as an inspired series of leaps from a firm grounding in fact ... He makes his case by telling Poe’s entire life story, endeavoring to show that \'Eureka\' was the culmination of decades spent engaging with the leading scientific thought of the time. It’s like watching Doug Forcett pore over Kierkegaard between bong hits ... Mr. Tresch’s attempt to reach beyond biography and enfold the complexity of an era is ambitious, sometimes overly so. The narrative tends to lose its way during side trips to describe Poe’s contemporaries; at times, it seems a reach to interpret Poe’s fiction in light of his interest in science ... So it’s surprising to close this book and still feel saddened by the story it tells, about the recurring sorrows of Poe’s often nightmarish existence.
PositiveKirkusThroughout, Tresch does a fine job balancing insightful discussions of Poe’s literary works alongside his intriguing scientific pursuits. A surprising side of Poe splendidly revealed.
PositivePublishers WeeklyHistorian Tresch...sheds light on Edgar Allan Poe’s engagement with science in this intriguing biography ... Tresch carefully reads Poe’s poems, stories, and essays, illustrating the ways that Poe balanced the literary with the scientific ... While Tresch addresses the common impression of Poe as a \'morbid dreamer\' and a penniless writer, he takes things further by offering a nimble account of the emerging science of Poe’s day. Fans of Poe’s work—and science enthusiasts—will appreciate Tresch’s fresh angle.
RaveKirkus... another fine example of what might be called holler noir ... It hits the genre\'s marks: a Chapter 1 corpse, a hard-drinking knight errant of a detective, etc. Ultimately, though, Offutt\'s primary emphasis—and the book\'s—falls less on the title\'s central word than on its final one. The star is rural Kentucky ... The book\'s triumph is that Offutt understands the difference between local color—which would be mere decoration—and local knowledge ... The murder plot ends up being nearly secondary, but that\'s not to the novel\'s disadvantage: In place of plot convolutions, Offutt offers those of Appalachian folkways. The result is a fast-paced, satisfying read. Rural crime fiction that kicks like a mule.
RavePublishers Weekly... [a] brooding and bloody country noir ... The lean prose elicits more than a hard-boiled style, and while the brisk yet gnarled atmosphere is reminiscent of Winter\'s Bone, the dime-store crime novels of Jim Thompson, or even William Faulkner\'s Sanctuary, Offutt brilliantly evokes the body and soul of his wounded hero. It adds up to a mesmerizing and nightmarish view of what lurks just over the hills. This is sure to be Offutt\'s breakout.
RaveKirkusA redoubtable restaurant critic and 30-year resident of Paris sets the table with an enticing menu of memories ... Both consistently engaging and highly observant, the author’s autobiographical tale follows him from his Connecticut boyhood to his early career in New York City and instant evolution into an ardent Parisian (with a fleeting recollection of a year in London) ... Loosely woven throughout the text is a matter-of-fact thread about his romantic life, but this book is all about the wonderful sensuality of food and eating, from simple to grand ... Lobrano writes with mouthwatering elan, dash, and feeling.
RavePublishers WeeklyIn this rich debut memoir, food writer Lobrano traces his lifelong love affair with food ... Appended with a selection of his favorite restaurant reviews, Lobrano’s story is inspiring, and his prose lush and inviting. Readers will savor every last page.
RaveNPRA book that takes readers into the heart of Ruby\'s trial, Kennedy\'s Avenger is a gripping narrative that picks up the moment Ruby killed Oswald and then methodically unpacks everything that followed. From the lawyers who took the case and the long, tedious process of jury selection to the courtroom antics and the testimonies of every witness, Abrams and Fisher vividly bring Jack Ruby\'s trial to the page with superb attention to detail and while constantly offering historical and cultural context ... Abrams and Fisher frame the case well, explaining why it was historical and unique ... Abrams and Fisher bring the case back to life and show not only everything that happened in the courtroom but also how the Dallas and the singular historical moment in which the trial took place made it one of the most unique and important trials in history. Clear, straightforward writing and superb research that pays attention to tension as well as humor make this riveting courtroom drama that feels as alive as it did it 1964 — and that reminds readers that there was a second shot heard, and seen, around the world.
PanPublishers WeeklyA disappointing rehash of the case against nightclub owner Jack Ruby for the killing of JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald ... Despite the subtitle, Abrams and Fisher downplay any evidence contrary to the Warren Commission’s conclusion that both Oswald and Ruby acted alone, and the duelling testimony by expert witnesses over Ruby’s mental state fails to captivate. Tortured prose and awkward embellishments of the trial record don’t help the authors’ cause. Reader\'s will consider this a missed opportunity.
PositiveKirkusAbrams, chief legal analyst for ABC News, and journalist Fisher team up for their latest investigation, this time focused on the trial of Ruby, accused of killing JFK assassin Oswald ... An increasingly paranoid Ruby testified before the Warren Commission about his motivation, denying a prior connection to Oswald. Suffering from cancer, he died in prison, awaiting a new trial. Did Oswald act alone? Did Ruby? Hints of a conspiracy, left unquestioned by the authors, feed into what they contend \'a majority of Americans\' suspect. A bright spotlight on well-worn ground.
PositivePublishers WeeklyWith lush, erudite prose and a large cast of darkly eccentric humans and monsters, this spellbinding slipstream novel from Catling feels like stepping into one of Hieronymus Bosch’s playfully macabre paintings—works which are aptly referenced in the novel’s second act ... braided threads grow ever tighter, slowly weaving a tapestry of the surreal and grotesque that culminates in a mostly satisfying climax that balances on the edge of hell. While some readers may grow frustrated with the uneven pacing and perfunctory ending, there’s no denying the fascinating otherworldly quality of Catling’s richly detailed novel. The result is historic, horrific, and phantasmagoric.
PositivePublishers WeeklyA Victorian silhouette artist investigates a mystery with the help of a medium in the suspenseful latest ... Purcell convincingly describes the grime and poverty in Bath, an appropriate backdrop to the story’s tragedy and horror. Fans of gothic fiction will devour this.
PositivePublishers WeeklyWilliams captivates with the story of an American woman’s effort to reunite with her twin sister after her defection to the Soviet Union ... Williams sharply observes the inequities women faced at the end of WWII and the simmering suspense of the Cold War. Historical fiction fans will be riveted by the complex family relationships and the intriguing portrayal of espionage.
PositiveKirkusTwin sisters find themselves caught up in a Russian spy ring at the height of the Cold War ... Iris is the most fully developed and sympathetic character here. Ruth is another iteration of the wisecracking dame who has appeared in so many Williams novels, and Lyudmila seems patterned after Greta Garbo in Ninotchka, except that this doctrinaire minion of Stalin wouldn’t be caught dead in a rom-com. A cumbersome plot weighs down this would-be spy thriller.
John N MacLean
PositiveKirkusA moving memoir of a family’s love affair with the Blackfoot River in Montana ... Maclean passionately explores the history of his family’s life in the region as they became well-respected members of the community and developed an abiding love for the land ... In addition to patient nature writing and an introspective approach to the literary inspiration he has received from the land, Maclean discusses the genesis of Norman’s famous book and mystery surrounding the death of one of the characters. Lovers of literature and nature will be captivated by this heartfelt tribute to place and family.
John N MacLean
PositivePublishers WeeklyA lyrical love letter to Montana’s Blackfoot River, fishing, and his storied family in this captivating memoir ... Fans of his father’s novella will relish the details that served as its inspiration and are here rendered in Maclean’s sharp yet poetic prose as tribute to a \'pantheon of notable family fishers.\' This richly observed narrative is sure to reel readers in.
Sara Flannery Murphy
MixedKirkusIn her latest work of speculative fiction, the author creates a world in which women can conceive without men ... This is a difficult novel to categorize. It has science-fiction elements and its basic plot is that of a thriller, but it’s written in a style that is well suited to neither. Using first-person narration, Murphy spends a lot of time exploring Josie’s inner life, which is not nearly as interesting as her outer life. This novel also suffers from some serious plot holes ... Some of the mysteries that drive the narrative are resolved, but its central secret remains a secret. Full of intriguing ideas that are poorly developed.
Sara Flannery Murphy
MixedPublishers WeeklySet in an alternate past, this uneven speculative thriller from Murphy centers on female asexual reproduction and the scientist who made it possible, Joseph Bellinger ... Turgid language slows this conceptually rich novel. Hopefully, Murphy will return to form next time.
PositivePublishers WeeklyA rich and rewarding history of London’s Savoy Hotel and Savoy Theatre ... Williams drops plenty of names (Claude Monet painted the view from his hotel room; Bob Dylan was denied entry for not wearing a tie), folds in colorful anecdotes (one maid’s sole job was picking beads from flappers’ dresses off the dance floor), and incisively analyzes real estate deals and other business matters. The result is a delicious peek behind some rather luxurious curtains.
PositivePublishers Weekly... crisp ... Cook ramps up tension with well-selected vignettes of final preparations for the launch, and lucidly describes the cause of the explosion (a faulty seal in a rocket booster), the subsequent investigations, and the lawsuits filed by surviving family members. But the brisk pace comes at the expense of a deeper portrayal of McAuliffe and her NASA experiences. Still, this is an informative overview of a preventable tragedy that looms large in the history of the space program.
PositiveKirkusCook conveys McAuliffe’s optimistic spirit and occasional doubts as she embarked on her adventure, and he gives a brisk, tense recounting of the shuttle’s final moments ... A vivid, thoroughly researched space history.
RaveKirkusWecker skillfully combines the storylines of these and numerous other players, good and evil, in a story that, while self-contained, gives every promise of being continued ... An enchanting tale that, though demanding lots of suspended disbelief, pleases on every page.
PositivePublishers WeeklyWecker delivers a satisfying, mature sequel ... Whereas the first installment was a propulsive battle of good versus evil, this delightful entry is more serialized storytelling à la Dickens. Throughout, Wecker pulls off an impressive juggling act with the many characters, all of whom are well positioned for another sequel.
PositivePublishers WeeklyIt’s hard to argue with her common-sense case that companies should strive to take an outsider’s view: \'There are multiple ways to live,” she writes, “and everyone seems weird to someone else.\' Packed full of insight, this has the power to change minds.
RaveThe Chicago Review of BooksMiles is renowned for her ability to spin touchingly personal stories out of deeply researched material. Her latest tour de force centers on Ashley’s Sack, which is on display in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. From this single piece of history, Miles traces three generations of Black women from 1850’s South Carolina to the recent past, crafting her own indispensable artifact in the process.
RaveKirkus... brilliant and compassionate ... Like those of most enslaved people, the stories of Rose and Ashley are largely lost to history, but Miles carefully unravels the records and makes a credible case that they may have been the property of Robert Martin in coastal South Carolina ... With careful historical examination as well as empathetic imagination, Miles effectively demonstrates the dignity and mystery of lives that history often neglects and opens the door to the examination of many untold stories ... A strikingly vivid account of the impact of connection on this family and others.
RavePublishers WeeklyMiles paints an evocative portrait of slavery and Black family life in this exquisitely crafted history ... Filling gaps in the historical record with the documented experiences of Harriet Jacobs, Elizabeth Keckley, and other enslaved women, Miles brilliantly shows how material items possessed the \'ability to house and communicate... emotions like love, values like family, states of being like freedom.\' This elegant narrative is a treasure trove of insight and emotion.
RavePublishers WeeklyPulley’s latest genre-bending feat masterfully combines history, speculative fiction, queer romance, and more into an unputdownable whole ... All he has are hazy images that come to him in dreams and an unshakable sense that something is wrong ... Pulley doesn’t shy away from the story’s sharp edges, exploring the devastating effects changes in the past can have on the future and shining a light on the ambiguous moral choices made by characters under duress.These dark, challenging moments are bolstered by the action-packed and intricate plot and leavened by the rich emotional entanglements of the makeshift family that Joe stumbles into along the way. This is a stunner.
PositiveKirkusNapoleon conquered England in this time-travel/alt-history fantasy set at the turns of the 19th and 20th centuries ... All time-travel plots are fraught with paradox, but not all rise to Pulley’s level of tricky cleverness, and few of those trickily clever books rise to her level of emotional intensity. Suspenseful, philosophical, and inventive, this sparkling novel explores the power of memory and love.
RavePublishers WeeklyThis devious and delicious side trip into the life and exploits of real-life Hollywood fixer Fred Otash from MWA Grand Master Ellroy...has a cool conceit ... Numerous celebrities appear in suitably compromising positions, including Rock Hudson, Jack Kennedy, and a sizzling cast of Hollywood femmes fatale. The infamous rape spree of Caryl Chessman (aka the Red Light Bandit) adds another layer of sordidness. Ellroy’s total command of the jazzy, alliterative argot of the era never fails to astonish. This is a must for L.A. noir fans.
MixedKirkusA noirish romp through the sewage of 1950s Hollywood sleaze. This entertainingly hop-headed narrative seems to occupy a tangled place in the author’s often cross-connected oeuvre ... Those coming to this fresh will find the author operating at maximum efficiency, mainlining a primo blend of over-the-top alliteration and down-in-the-gutter scandal ... any mystery, or any plot, actually, simply serves as a peg on which the author hangs the supposedly dirty laundry of his cast of dozens ... It’s a delirious thrill ride through the tabloid underbelly of Tinseltown, though it runs out of gas before providing much of a climax. Relentlessly rabid, for those with a taste for the seamier.
RaveKirkusA young misfit—and her parents and grandparents—navigates through life in this scientifically minded novel ... Hall’s sprawling novel, which spans the years 1926 to 2017, isn’t plot-driven, however; instead, it’s largely composed of the characters’ dreamy reminiscences of their childhoods, their parents, their life’s trajectory, and limpid thoughts about the meaning of life ... Hall does an impressive job channeling his characters’ intensely idiosyncratic personal monologues and their interests in everything from Beethoven string quartets to the story of Joan of Arc to the Drake equation. And while the novel touches on an almost unwieldy array of themes, one constant throughout is the impossibility of exerting logic and control on a fundamentally unpredictable world. A valiant attempt to encapsulate life, the universe, and everything.
PositivePublishers WeeklyHall returns to characters from The Saskiad in this strikingly original take on science, uncertainty, and the longing for connection to others and to the world ... Hall shuttles the reader through time as well as space, depicting the unhappy marriage of Mark’s parents and Saskia’s loss of her mother two decades earlier. To allay their emotional pain, all lose themselves in information—whether about medieval mystery plays, prime numbers, or the physics of tire rotation. Hall takes a risk with sprawling, dense passages, and pulls it off by majestically drawing together the various threads of this consistently moving and entirely unconventional narrative. It’s a stellar achievement.
RavePublishers WeeklyShriver...delivers on a high-concept premise full of alternative narratives based around themes of illness and aging ... There is sometimes outlandish humor and periods of magical thinking in their dialogue, all rendered to brilliant effect. Readers will be entranced by Shriver’s freewheeling meditation on mortality and human agency.
PositiveKirkusShriver has written her best novel since The Post-Birthday World (2007) ... the multiple perspectives produce a tender and complex portrait of the central couple. Mortality, Shriver finds, needn’t be morbid; one of her imagined futures is downright pleasant and testifies to humanity’s adaptability. It reads a bit awkwardly, but that\'ll happen when a writer tries something new. A return to form, merging Shriver’s better instincts as both novelist and social critic.
PositivePublishers Weekly... vivid and heart-wrenching ... offers poignant scenes of her subjects coming to grips with the life and death nature of their work. This is a raw and emotional depiction of young professionals thrust into the middle of a crisis.
PositiveKirkus... moving ... An inspiring story of a group of young doctors who endured a trial by fire.
Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson, and Jason Stanford
RaveKirkus... zesty ... Setting out to distinguish ascertainable fact from Texas tub-thumping, Burrough, Tomlinson, and Stanford, all Texans, succeed brilliantly in their intent ... evenhanded ... Despite a bit too much chattiness and some unnecessary vulgarity, this lively book is sure to cause plenty of interesting conversations in Texas ... An iconoclastic, romping, bull’s-eye volley at an enduring sacred cow—popular history at its most engaging and insightful.
Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson, and Jason Stanford
PositivePublishers Weekly... substantive yet wryly humorous ... Skillfully drawing on primary and secondary sources ... Enriched by its breezy tone and fair-minded approach, this is an essential look at the Alamo from the perspective of today’s racial reckoning.
PositiveKirkusPark smartly and honestly weaves Sunny’s nuanced experience as a Korean American into a story that is ultimately about human identity in our advanced age of social networking. Valuable lessons learned and a cute romance are wrapped up with a sentimental ending ... Quirky and insightful.
PositivePublishers Weekly[A] lighthearted contemporary romance ... Some supporting characters are inadequately fleshed out, and a message about social media and genuine relationships being mutually exclusive feels limiting, but Park (The Perfect Escape) offers thoughtful insights about being perpetually online through Sunny’s humorous narration.
PositivePublishers Weekly... tender-hearted ... Frankel’s sharp plotting—with several surprising reversals—and memorable characters reflect a deep imagination that adds texture and complexity to what would otherwise be a fairly familiar setup. Readers will be captivated by this story of adversity and resilience.
PositiveKirkusFrankel has given us another socially conscious 21st-century fable in a voice that is part pastor, part political speechwriter, and part Fannie Flagg ... Clever, charming, and always on message.
RaveKirkus... riveting ... fills in the blanks and proves the case ... The author’s sharp portrait of Julius is decidedly unflattering ... The author compellingly narrates Ethel\'s early life, the course of her relationship with the brother whose perjury sent her to the electric chair, and both her difficulties as a mother and her commitment to overcoming them. Could there be a better time to review \'what can happen when fear, a forceful and blunt weapon in the hands of authority, turns to hysteria and justice is willfully ignored\'? ... A concise yet thorough account of a 1953 miscarriage of justice with alarming relevance today.
PositivePublishers Weekly... sympathetic yet opaque ... Though the insights into Rosenberg’s family life are intriguing, she often recedes into the background and remains an enigmatic figure. Still, this is a persuasive argument that Rosenberg’s death was a tragic miscarriage of justice.
John Paul Brammer
PositiveKirkus... sassy, entertaining ... The author humorously and candidly discusses his personal coming-out process and thirst for knowledge about the gay community, and his authentic voice will appeal to and resonate with readers navigating their own sexual identities ... As free-flowing commentary on identity, Latinx culture, and tradition commingle with Brammer’s contemporary urban gay experience, the narrative is packed with illuminatingly frank perspectives. Some sections, which answer fan questions on how to dress \'gayer,\' aren’t nearly as impactful, but the sum of Brammer’s life experiences will prove charming, instructional, and frequently relatable for his established readership and those seeking time-tested advice on contemporary conundrums within the gay community ... Contemporary lighthearted wisdom (and some campy fun) for LGBTQ+ audiences.
John Paul Brammer
MixedPublishers Weekly... frothy, episodic ... Though he has a genuine interest in helping others and frankly details a suicide attempt and other intimate matters, Brammer’s writing regularly slips into clichés. Fans will appreciate a closer look at Brammer’s life; others will wish for greater depth.
PositivePublishers Weekly... entertaining ... The authentic movie business details and nicely developed characters more than compensate for some confused plotting and Mia’s at times breathtakingly naive behavior. This tale of Hollywood glamour, cruelty, and myth is sure to win Steadman new fans.
MixedKirkusDespite an engaging central mystery—what happened to Emily?—the rest of the novel doesn\'t hold up. Mia has a frustrating lack of complexity; all her auditions become opportunities, and she\'s inexplicably naïve. Supposedly an experienced actress, she reads like someone plucked from the street and dropped into Hollywood’s orbit, and her constant surprise at the excessive luxury heaped upon her is grating. Her involvement with Emily—a woman she met once, for a few minutes—makes little sense, and the reveal at the end only makes it more implausible. The novel\'s consideration of Hollywood\'s dangers isn\'t unusual enough to be interesting, and the consideration of the gender dynamics of power is too clichéd to be thought-provoking ... The Hollywood ground covered by this book is already well trodden.
Joanne M Harris
PositivePublishers WeeklyFloating somewhere between story collection and novel, this extraordinary work from Harris transports readers to the enchanting, dreamlike Nine Worlds ... The effect is magical, poignant, and wholly transporting. Supplemented by evocative line drawings, this strange, wondrous mosaic is sure to delight any lover of fairy tales.
PositiveKirkusA comprehensive overview of the Anglo-Saxon era seeking \'to see these people as they were…and try to shed the misconceptions about them that have developed in later centuries \' ... Morris meticulously delineates the rise of the Northumbrian kingdom in the north and Mercia in the south, where the great King Offa reigned, and then moves on to the Vikings ... In this rich history, which draws on up-to-date archaeological data, the author also examines significant cultural and intellectual currents and the resurrection of monasticism in the 10th century ... A welcome refreshment of a seminal era in the forging of the English identity.
PositivePublishers WeeklyHistorian Morris delivers a character-driven history of how the Anglo-Saxons developed England in the centuries between the end of Roman rule and the Norman conquest ... Morris fills in the historical gaps with discussions of archaeological sites such as the Sutton Hoo ship burial ... Bringing clarity and flashes of humor to discussions of Alfred the Great, St. Dunstan, Beowulf, and other touchstones of Anglo-Saxon England, this is a welcome introduction to a fascinating age.
PositivePublishers WeeklyTupac Shakur is movingly captured as the people’s gangsta in this kaleidoscopic commemoration of his life ... Shakur’s celebrated passion for social justice is much praised but little evidenced here, and is complicated by accounts the beatdowns he administered, an altercation involving gunplay that killed a child, and his conviction for sexual abuse. (A highlight of the book is a juror’s account of jury-room shenanigans that undermines that verdict’s validity.) There’s much hagiography here, but also genuine insight into Shakur’s musical facility and the quiet, understated “genius” of his acting. Tupac’s multitudes of fans will eat this up.
MixedKirkusThere’s a Tupac Shakur–sized hole in the middle of this compelling oral history about the revered rapper and actor and his legacy—and that’s by design ... Conspicuously missing are conversations with his Black Panther mother Afeni Shakur or Death Row Records co-founder Suge Knight ... The success of that balancing act will depend on the reader. Shakur fans looking for new details about how their hero approached his biggest albums and movie roles won’t find much new here. However, Pearce’s interviews provide interesting background on the East Coast–West Coast rap rivalry and offer more clarity about who may have killed Shakur in Las Vegas in 1996 at age 25—even though no formal charges have ever been filed. Those are the times when this book feels like essential Tupac reading rather than a nice supplement ... Having relative unknowns document Tupac’s meteoric rise and abrupt end is risky, but Pearce demonstrates his impact.
RavePublishers WeeklyJournalist Gorenstein (Tommy Gun Winter) offers a meticulously detailed biography of the self-taught firearms inventor known as \'the Thomas Edison of guns.\'
PositiveKirkusGorenstein delivers a technically detailed life of John Moses Browning ... The result is a text gun collectors and historians of armaments will cherish, though nonspecialists may get bogged down in such technical matters ... Gorenstein clearly demonstrates how most of the world’s guns, from the AK-47 to the latest Sig Sauer pistols, draw on Browning’s designs of more than a century ago, and he tallies many of the known assets of Browning’s estate and those of his heirs. However, he avoids reckoning with the human costs ... A dense journey through an ocean of iron and blood best suited for gun enthusiasts.
RavePublishers WeeklyHorror author Buehlman impresses in his tongue-in-cheek fantasy debut ... With his freedom at stake, Kinch must decide where his loyalties lie. Packed full of magic, mayhem, and mischief, Buehlman’s world and characters are artfully rendered, though the trust between Galva and Kinch develops unbelievably quickly given their first meeting. Still, this dense series launch is sure to win the author new fans.
PositiveKirkusA broad survey of global and historical views of the post-life spiritual realm ... In this vast overview, writer and therapist Wolff wades deep into the murky waters of heaven, the afterlife, and unseen planes of being. The sweeping narrative—designed for lay readers, some of whom may be overwhelmed by its scope—introduces countless intriguing concepts, from near-death experiences to reincarnation ... Wolff admirably captures the ambiguity involved in Jewish teachings on the afterlife ... A soulful, far-reaching primer on what lies beyond.
PositivePublishers WeeklyTherapist Wolff delivers an elegant if scattered study of the afterlife in this wide-ranging survey ... Some beliefs merit entire chapters; others—notably Indigenous religions—warrant a paragraph or two ... these granular stories cannot overcome the oversimplifications and inconsistencies ... Spiritualists of any stripe will find much to ponder.
PositivePublishers WeeklyWang (Family Trust) leavens this glossy tale of corporate espionage with savvy takes on cultural assimilation in contemporary America ... Julia and Alice’s pas de deux drives the plot and gives Wang ample space to reflect on modern corporate attitudes toward gender, ethnicity, and the American dream’s appeal to socially disadvantaged members of minority groups and to foreign nationals ... The story builds to a number of dramatic moments that happen offstage, somewhat diminishing the dramatic impact, but Wang’s depictions of office politics and geopolitical dynamics are spot-on. This offers plenty of grist for reader rumination.
PositiveKirkusA long-overdue biography of German biologist Otto Warburg (1883-1970), who won the Nobel Prize for his work on cell respiration and metabolism, especially as related to cancer ... Self-confident and assertive, Warburg made his first groundbreaking discovery—that fertilized eggs vastly increased their oxygen consumption—even before receiving his medical degree ... As the search continues, this book is a welcome addition to the library on the disease and one of its most successful enemies. A fine life, warts and all, of a brilliant scientist and his fight against cancer.
RavePublishers WeeklyMemoirist Apple delivers a gripping account of biochemist Otto Warburg (1883–1970) and the origins of modern cancer science in his excellent latest ... As he draws fascinating insights from the interplay between science and ideology, Apple keeps the scientific explanations easy to understand, while interviews with a slew of characters add color. This is a bona fide page-turner.
RavePublishers WeeklyJarvis debuts with a refreshing historical fantasy about class and the hunger for power ... Jarvis’s Prague is steeped in history and shadows, mourning its recent fall from power and teetering on the edge of modernity, and her wearily well-intentioned characters feel like old friends. Domek and Ora are delightfully sensible, even as they are sucked into byzantine conspiracies. The action-packed plot sometimes requires them to make nonsensical decisions, but readers will be too entertained to mind. Fantasy fans will gobble up this moody, philosophical adventure.
RavePublishers WeeklyTranslator Bernofsky [...] teases out misperceptions about \'unwaveringly devoted\' Swiss author Robert Walser (1878–1956) in this masterful biography ... With skillful and lucid readings of Walser’s work, Bernofsky succeeds in creating a portrait of Walser ... This balanced and meticulous account shines a bright light on a misunderstood and influential writer.
Simon Van Booy
PositiveKirkus... often poetic yet spare ... This well-crafted and often serendipitous saga recognizes that family cannot be escaped but can be expanded.
Simon Van Booy
MixedPublishers Weekly... fractured, melancholic ... The alternating viewpoints and episodic narration sometimes come at the expense of emotional depth and clarity of purpose. Themes of resilience and tragedy come through, though readers will be left wondering about some of the author’s choices.
PositiveKirkusWith a mix of candor and cynicism, the author details his family’s history and his estranged relationship with his German partner of 16 years ... A down-to-earth, relatable examination of career and life choices.
RavePublishers WeeklyBiologist Balcombe [...] fascinates with this deep dive into the world of flies ... Balcombe reveals the intricate hidden world of these insects, generally dismissed as buzzing, biting pests ... Balcombe also looks at the multifaceted relationship between humans and flies ... In vivid prose, Balcombe perfectly illustrates the complexity of the natural world. Armchair naturalists will find this a stunning and welcome complement to similar volumes such as The Lives of Bees: The Untold Story of the Honey Bee in the Wild or The Soul of an Octopus.
RaveKirkusA lively, lucid exploration—everything you ever wanted to know about flies and then some.
PositivePublishers Weekly... clever ... As her investigation turns to the financial and material needs motivating her to write in the first place, it morphs into a feverish quarantine journal wherein she questions the meaning of language during crisis, especially the use of first-person writing. The author’s fans will savor this cascading meditation on what makes writing possible and necessary.
MixedKirkus... contemplative, rhetorically austere ... Though Zambreno tries to stay on point, Guibert’s book mainly serves as a launchpad for more personal excursions she can’t set aside ... Drifts was digressive but possessed a lyricism, sense of humor, and passion that justified its fragmentary nature. By contrast, this book is meandering and chilly. Zambreno clings to Guibert’s book as a signifier of troubled friendships, first-person writing, and physical illness, but there’s little sense of resolution or coherence. That’s partly the point, of course. The author is frustrated by the way memoir is \'supposed to be incredibly earnest and moral.\' She wants to push back against that tradition, but the result is more an exercise in sangfroid than transgression ... A somber meta-memoir, rich in ideas but set at an emotional low boil.
PositiveKirkusHenderson vividly and heartbreakingly describes her experiences ... Henderson writes candidly about how her unprocessed grief led to depression and suicidal ideation ... Henderson writes with an incredible amount of vulnerability, presenting her story with a cleareyed compassion for her mother, grandmother, and, ultimately, herself ... A redemptive memoir about a Black woman’s victory over childhood abuse, racism, and mental illness.
RaveKirkus... merits wide attention ... A bittersweet, beautiful story that, improbable though some of it may be, speaks wisely to life’s truths.
PositivePublishers Weekly... a blazing magnum opus ... This dreamy narrative is a love letter to the people and customs of Sicily ... The author swings back and forth through time and memories, and entertains fantasy and philosophy with captivating if occasionally long-winded results. Mirabelli’s impassioned cycle succeeds at capturing an artist’s longing to be remembered.
RaveKirkus... impressive ... For such a young author, McAnulty displays an astounding ability to capture and articulate his feelings and the nuances of the natural world, and his sincere compassion and lyrical prose captivate ... A heartfelt, uplifting, hopeful memoir from a talented new voice in nature writing.
RavePublishers Weekly... stunning ... McAnulty delivers a galvanizing love letter to nature ... The author’s lush prose enchants ... This should be required reading.
RaveLibrary JournalA brutal, satirical look at life in Washington, DC ... A fascinating, gossipy glimpse into the lives of the one percent (with footnotes) that should appeal to readers.
PositivePublishers WeeklyMcDowell’s mordant debut novel sends up the Washington, D.C., establishment ... While the drama is thick, the characters all hew closely to type (and to one another), with mothers bedecked in diamonds and Hermès scarves, and the fathers largely only distinguishable from one another by their professions and crimes. The flat characterizations don’t make for high literature, but the satire cuts deep.
RaveKirkusVijayan spent years interviewing stateless refugees around the entire border of India. She uses those stories to create a candid and heartbreaking work of exposé journalism ... Vijayan incisively shows how the lives of countless people are governed by often arbitrary borders created by imperialists who knew nothing of the ethnic makeup of the regions. She divides the book into five main sections, delineated along specific borders ... Vijayan is adept at teasing out the fraught, complicated social, political, and spiritual dynamics at play in each region ... Dozens of powerful, intimate stories of people affected traumatically by India’s expedient geopolitical borders.
PositivePublishers Weekly[A] captivating account of the exploit of an eccentric community of treasure hunters who scoured the Rocky Mountains from 2010 to 2020 in search of New Mexico art dealer Forrest Fenn’s hidden chest of gold and jewels ... Barbarisi eventually dropped out of the hunt, but he interviews the searcher who discovered the treasure chest in a Wyoming forest in June 2020 and gets an up-close look at its contents. Shot through with dramatic plot twists, colorful personalities, and insights into the nature of obsession, this rollicking account will appeal.
PositiveKirkusThe tale of an infamous and perilous modern-day hunt for buried treasure in the Rocky Mountains ... In this lively book, the author provides a journalistic account of Fenn and the obsessives who attended an annual \'Fennboree\' and picked apart the poem on websites ... The book is weakest when Barbarisi takes extended detours into stories of similar book-based treasure hunts and other lost treasures as well as during an account of his trip to Florida to meet other treasure hunters. Despite the meaningful context, the Fenn search is dramatic enough ... A well-reported insider’s study on the engrossing and alarming fervor a search can inspire.
PositiveKirkusHistorian Karabell examines the long history of a financial services firm that exercised outsize power in the political sphere ... A readable, unfailingly interesting study on the making of the American century.
RaveKirkusAn alluring historical novel revolves around the genesis of a relationship that inspired poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen ... On one level, this historical novel is a delectable work of escapism ... Samson is up to something else as well—Marianne, Charmian, Erica, and most of the other women in the book are the muses of male artists, and that role gets a cool-eyed dissection. They might be inspiring poems and novels and paintings, but they’re also doing all the cooking and cleaning and, in Hydra, hauling water up the hill, not to mention bearing babies, coddling their partners’ fragile egos, and quashing any creative talents they might have themselves. It’s a role that, in this theater, can end tragically. Brilliant people in a beautiful setting add up to seductive time travel, with an edge.
PositivePublishers WeeklySamson brings off the scenes of drunken philosophizing, arguing, and gossiping with distinct, intimate credibility. Hydra is beautiful and the company glamorous, but the story feels less escapist than sad and gloomy, as the women cook while the men write, drink, and complain about writing. Cohen is the most famous character, but the book’s real star is Charmian, who tries to find time to write while coping with an ill and jealous husband and mothering her own children and Erica. The Cohen apocrypha will certainly interest his fans, but Samson’s greatest accomplishment is the multifaceted portrait of Charmian. The attention Samson pays to since-overlooked Charmian in this nuanced portrait may put the Australian writer back on the map.
PositiveNewtown Review of BooksA delightful novel, full of the beauty and the harshness of the island; glimpses of the lives of poor local people; the bohemian freedom of the artists’ community; and, as George puts it, the ‘bludgers lured by our fantastically blue water and cheap rent to live out their carefree immorality away from prying city eyes’. Erica, understandably, learns much about life, the disadvantages of being a ‘muse’, and the fickleness of men. George is a typical gruff, outspoken Aussie bloke, and he and Charmian fight, and drink and live life to the full. Charmian becomes a caring motherly friend to Erica; Leonard is young and serious; and Marianne is beautiful, and happily dedicated to looking after the men in her life and creating attractive and comfortable homes for them to work in ... a book for dreamers.
MixedPublishers Weekly... disappointing ... The authors don’t sweat the details (when Melanie’s kidnapped, Keating and Samantha, who are in different places, don’t try to contact each other), and too many convenient coincidences propel the plot. Die-hard Patterson fans will best appreciate this one.
MixedKirkusThere’s scarcely a moment here that can’t be seen from afar: The bad guys sneer and stab, the good guys come riding in to save the day, the sitting president fumes at having been left out of the fun, and the authors throw in genre tropes like so many grenades ... Written by the numbers, but undemanding entertainment.
Val McDermid and Kathryn Briggs
PositivePublishers WeeklyScottish crime writer McDermid takes a stab at bio-noir in this spare but riveting graphic novel tracking a pandemic ... Briggs’s grungy and off-kilter figures visually counterpoint the clinical plot, while her ashy charcoal backgrounds and faux-medieval frames suggest a cyclical human drama.
Val McDermid and Kathryn Briggs
PositiveKirkusWriter McDermid and illustrator Briggs show a plague tearing through all aspects of modern life—personal, professional, political—leaving plenty of apocalyptic blame to go around ... McDermid skillfully builds pathos for the individuals wrestling with their dire circumstances while also baking in enough science to make the proceedings feel frighteningly plausible. Briggs composes fascinating pages and panels that have a mixed-media feel, layering her realistic figures over maps and medical diagrams, invoices and intake forms, tarot cards and plague paintings. The effect puts the story on a historical continuum, which is comforting in the sense that humanity has faced similar disasters in the past but also chilling with its reminder that history is full of cataclysms and the current age is hardly exempt. A powerful, unique look at the benign origins of catastrophe.
Ed. by John Freeman
PositiveKirkusA well-selected anthology of short fiction, ranging from long to flash, representing the last half-century ... A fresh gathering that highlights the work of mostly well-known story writers through their lesser-known works.
PositiveKirkus\"[A] unique, visceral memoir ... The author is crystal-clear in their focus on \'writing for people like me, not for a white gaze,\' and seen through the prism of Igbo ontology, this adventurous life story is undoubtedly compelling. For some readers, getting past Emezi’s \'outrageously arrogant\' demand \'for attention, for glory, for worship\' as a self-described \'bratty deity\' may require a leap of faith and a modicum of empathy, a merely human trait. Tribal spiritual beliefs meet contemporary literary acclaim in a powerful memoir.\
RavePublishers Weekly\"[A] gorgeous epistolary memoir ... Emezi details the loneliness that comes with being \'estranged from the indigenous Black realities\' and is unwavering in their demand that readers meet them on their terms, even if they might be considered \'too strange, too arrogant.\' Yet in consistently captivating prose, Emezi demonstrates that it is precisely this unyielding belief in themself that catapulted their career, clinching literary awards and six-figure book deals. Those interested in broadening their metaphysical understanding of the world would do well to pick up this spellbinding work.\
PositiveKirkusTold from the perspectives of various characters—even ethereal Martian life-forms that refer to themselves as the Patterns—and complemented with excerpts from the Destination Mars! handbook and Jenny\'s humorous research notes, the story has a strong sense of whimsy, but Ebenbach also creates depth by exploring issues like engineer Stefan\'s feelings of estrangement and violence and Jenny’s guilt over her sister\'s suicide years earlier. A poignant examination of what it means to be human.
PositiveLibrary JournalFans of the delightfully bizarre and quaintly humorous will love Oakley’s hopeful tale about the powerful bond of community and how far people will go to protect someone they love.
PositiveHarlequin JunkieColleen Oakley has once again sparked my imagination and led me on a wild–and wildly entertaining–journey, this time set in the gorgeous Chesapeake Bay area with her new heartfelt novel ... knowing how Oakley so deftly creates storylines that keep readers guessing, I had a feeling there were many layers to get through before finding all the answers. Which turned out to be absolutely correct. There was a whole lot more going on than met the eye on Frick Island ... For a story that could have easily gotten bogged down with grief and loss, there was actually a lot of lightheartedness thanks to the offbeat locals on the island. It was a terrific backdrop for this type of plot ... The Invisible Husband of Frick Island showcased clever storytelling told through multiple POVs that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Somber but hopeful, with a sense of community and acceptance, Colleen Oakley has spun another memorable tale.
PositivePublishers WeeklyIn the quirky latest from Oakley, an outsider learns of strange happenings on a remote Maryland island ... Much of the plot relies on coincidences and silly misunderstandings, but Oakley cultivates a genuine sense of hope and the outlandish things people do to support the ones they love. There’s little of consequence here, but it works as a light diversion.
PositiveBooklistThe remarkable story of the 1921 trailblazing, all-Black musical, Shuffle Along , is explored in this well-researched and engrossing new book by pop-culture historian Gaines ... With this tense opening chapter, the dichotomous experiences of Black artists on early-twentieth-century stages are exemplified perfectly; both dazzle and danger, and not always in equal measure ... The book excels in describing the historical moment, seamlessly discussing a wide range of issues, including the role of African Americans in WWI and the racial violence in the country at large while also portraying the glamour of the time ... an excellent addition to the canon of musical theater history.
PositiveKirkusA celebration of a groundbreaking musical that stands as a landmark in Black American cultural history ... an animated, well-researched history of the creation, production, and long afterlife of Shuffle Along , a show that burst into the New York entertainment world in 1921 and was revived, in many iterations, as recently as 2016 ... A spirited, educative contribution to both theater history and Black history.
RavePublishers Weekly[An] energetic, meticulously researched survey the story behind the 1921 musical Shuffle Along , the first show on Broadway that featured an \'all-Black creative team.\'
PositivePublishers Weekly[A] daringly plotted, emotionally eviscerating psychological thriller from bestseller Kubica ... As usual for this author, much suspense stems from her storytelling sleight of hand, particularly the way she leaps forward and backward in time as well as among half a dozen distinctive if not always reliable narrators, who include Shelby, Meredith, and Delilah’s younger brother. Though a couple of the final megatwists prove more shocking than convincing, Kubica’s plumbing of the darkness lurking beneath the shiny suburban dream should please her fans and draw in new ones. This is definitely one of her better efforts.
PositiveNewCity.comKubica is one of the few authors who lives up to the comparison. She writes tightly scripted plots with endings that pack a surprise every time ... she has a talent for the technicality of mystery writing, but also infuses her stories with so much humanity. Her characters breathe on the page, never tripping into the absurd, as often happens in mysteries these days ... An uncaring pelvic exam takes on a horror-like quality when the woman is not treated as a whole being, becoming one of the more harrowing scenes in a particularly grisly novel ... Most of the characters live within blocks of each other, their proximity sometimes a comfort and other times an uneasy proximity.
PanKirkusWhat should be a rare horror—a woman gone missing—becomes a pattern in Kubica\'s latest thriller ... So this novel is both a mystery about what led to Meredith’s death and Delilah’s imprisonment and the story of what Delilah\'s return might mean to her family and all their well-meaning neighbors. Someone is not who they seem; someone has been keeping secrets for 11 long years. The chapters complement one another like a patchwork quilt, slowly revealing the rotten heart of a murderer amid a number of misdirections. The main problem: As it becomes clear whodunit, there’s no true groundwork laid for us to believe that this person would behave at all the way they do. More like a con than a truly satisfying psychological mystery.
PositivePublishers WeeklyFriedland returns with a well-crafted family dramedy centered on a storied Borscht Belt resort, now in its twilight years ... Friedland brings laughs and nuance to the family foibles, and demonstrates a wide range in her convincing narration from the many points of view. Breezy and charming, this is great fun.
PositiveKirkusSecrets and scandals come to light as the last family-owned Catskills resort teeters on the brink of extinction ... From the perfectly put-together diva grandmother Louise to the Instagram influencer and avocado-toast photographer @free2bephoebe, the ensemble cast is full of comfortably familiar characters, almost every one of them with something they\'re not tellin\'...yet. The vanished history of the Catskills is evoked with love and plenty of schmaltz. A high-spirited party of a book. BYOB: Bring your own borscht.
PositiveKirkusA loving daughter recounts her father’s last illness ... A warmly appreciative memoir of sports and family.
PositivePublishers WeeklyThe motif of transformation is threaded throughout the story of their family dynamics, and echoed in Lai’s fluid, blue-gray illustrations ... Lai’s cinematic juxtapositions and dreamlike fugues give visual structure to a breakup story that’s heavy on processing, sharpening its edges. Lai also skillfully captures the ways family dynamics and histories play out in romantic relationships, and how heavy those legacies can land. The result is a poignant and mature rumination on how people change, and change each other, proving Lai a talent well worth watching.
A J Gnuse
PositivePublishers WeeklyA young girl hides in her childhood home in Gnuse’s disquieting debut ... The shaky premise doesn’t quite convince, but Gnuse builds a good deal of tension as the story reaches its climax, involving a dangerous Jonah and even more dangerous hurricane. This vivid if melodramatic novel is worth a look.
A J Gnuse
MixedKirkusAfter a tragedy, a young Louisiana girl returns to her former home, though there\'s another family already living in it ... Split into five parts, Gnuse’s debut tale is tense but not a thriller. There is always the threat of discovery hanging in the air, but the story focuses more on meandering meditations on Elise’s coping (or lack thereof) with the loss of her parents, Eddie’s vague differences from others his age, or Nick and Laura’s marital problems. Gnuse explores interesting ideas about masculinity as Marshall and Eddie attempt to “man up” and take care of their hidden-person problem in the face of their parents’ disbelief. As the situation spirals out of control for them, there are some genuinely frightening moments. However, despite the anxiety induced by the title, the plot is quite stagnant, mostly revolving around the fact that there is, indeed, a girl in the walls. A reader looking for more of a cat-and-mouse game will be disappointed.
A J Gnuse
PositiveShelf AwarenessA.J. Gnuse\'s first novel, Girl in the Walls, gathers a damaged, plucky tween and an angst-ridden family and throws a hellacious storm at them, but still lets a little hope peek from behind the darkest clouds. --Paul Dinh-McCrillis, freelance reviewer ... A grieving, orphaned girl lives inside the walls of the last place where she felt love in this disquieting coming-of-age story.
A J Gnuse
PositiveBooklistStrange, outré—this remarkable debut novel is both of these and more ... Gnuse has done a brilliant job of making the implausible plausible and of creating characters, especially Eddie, who are simply unforgettable. The Louisiana setting is evocative and a marvel of verisimilitude. The sui-generis result is haunting and, like the characters, unforgettable.
RavePublishers Weekly... [a] psychological thriller ... The intelligent, cerebral plot finds contemporary parallels in Euripides\'s tragedies, Jacobean dramas such as The Duchess of Malfi, and Tennyson\'s poetry. The devastating ending shows just how little the troubled Mariana knows about the human psyche or herself. Michaelides is on a roll.
PanKirkusThe book gets off to a slow start, front-loaded with backstories and a Cambridge travelogue, but then picks up the pace and piles up the bodies. With its ambience of ritualistic murders, ancient myths, and the venerable college, the story is a gothic thriller despite its contemporary setting. That makes Mariana tough to get on board with—she behaves less like a modern professional woman than a 19th-century gothic heroine, a clueless woman who can be counted on in any situation to make the worst possible choice. And the book’s ending, while surprising, also feels unearned, like a bolt from the blue hurled by some demigod. Eerie atmosphere isn’t enough to overcome an unsatisfying plot and sometimes-exasperating protagonist.
Nancy Jo Sales
PositivePublishers Weekly... candid and provocative ... the linkages can occasionally strain, as in an analogy between a narrowing of dating experiences and the loss of biodiversity. But Sales’s funny, fresh approach will resonate with many single readers, as well as anyone concerned about the ways technology enables capitalism to invade personal lives.
Nancy Jo Sales
RaveKirkusDespite the title, a very personal—and thoroughly researched—memoir of dating younger men ... warm, witty, and rigorously honest ... On the memoir side, Sales writes engagingly about her parents and her coming-of-age ... The personal narrative is illuminated by often chilling research ... Against all odds, this unsparing, must-read portrait of modern dating and sex is also a love story.
PositivePublishers WeeklyThis cycle of novellas by pioneering nature writer Stifter (1805–1868), offers a quiet and graceful meditation on place and history ... No matter the subject or setting, Stifter’s narrators are always cataloging the finest details of the world around them ... Throughout, Stifter sheds light on such sweeping themes as the nature of storytelling, the legacy and drama of ancestral history and family traditions, and mankind’s many connections and obligations to the natural world. His writing, freshly translated by Cole, is full of wisdom and wonder.
RaveBooklist“In graphic-essay style, Radtke centers her inquiry around four human behaviors—listen, watch, click, and touch—and devotes rich, meandering chapters to each . . . Radtke’s crisp, vector-drawn illustrations more than hint at reality; rather, in their layering and arrangement, they seem to reproduce it in truer, more emotional detail. Provocative and companionable, this will spark conversation and, undoubtedly, connection among readers.”
RaveKirkus“Deeply affecting . . . Radtke is an engaging and thoughtful guide through our fear of being alone . . . Superb. A rigorous, vulnerable book on a subject that is too often neglected.”
RavePublishers Weekly“Gripping . . . Combining personal narrative with social science, evolutionary biology, and pop culture analysis, Radtke’s work is innovative in form and painfully relevant in content . . . Somber illustrations range from journalistic to starkly symbolic, in variations on gray that establish a flat and lonely world, making the gradient sunset hues that sometimes burst through that much brighter . . . For a treatise about the perils of being alone, [Seek You] creates a wonderful sense of being drawn into conversation.”
RaveLibrary Journal“In often poetic prose accompanied by stunning illustration, Radtke weaves together personal anecdotes and examples drawn from physical and mental health studies to create a meditation on the causes and cost of isolation . . . An insightful and compassionate investigation of loneliness.”
RaveBUSTKristen Radtke is a narrator as unflinching and bold as readers should be before approaching this graphic novel. Seek You demonstrates how loneliness is an experience that’s both universal and achingly unique—which is why it shouldn’t scare or embarrass us ... For lovers of creative nonfiction, this title has the rare ability to interweave facts with personal anecdotes in such a way that one cannot help but feel a little less alone ... Radtke makes loneliness an exercise in being together in our unique aloneness, instead of becoming isolated within it.
RavePublishers WeeklyNkweti’s beautiful and immersive debut collection challenges hackneyed depictions of a monolithic Africa through an array of dynamic stories that reflect the heterogeneity of Africans and the Cameroonian diaspora ... Whether Nkweti is writing about water goddesses, zombies, or aspiring graphic novelists, she reveals and celebrates the rich inner lives of those who do not fit neatly into social and cultural categories. But the author’s prose shines the brightest; Nkweti’s sentences soar, enthralling the reader through their every twist and turn, and often ending with a wry punch. This is a groundbreaking and vital work.
RaveKirkusExplosive prose and imaginative plots ... Nkweti’s stories offer a wonderfully immersive experience: English mingles with French mingles with pidgin mingles with American teen slang mingles with comic and anime lingo and many other specialized languages. Deliciously disorienting at times and always energizing, the style calls to mind code-switching as well as the rich polyvocality of America ... Boisterous and high-spirited debut stories by a talented new writer.
RaveKirkusWilliams’ novel is a tour de force, capturing Eva’s experience as part of the Black literati in Brooklyn, her urge to hide generational trauma from her daughter while still celebrating their ancestors, and the ways in which fate brings people together. The structure of the novel is complex but ultimately rewarding and provides a portrait of a richly layered world ... A hugely satisfying romance that is electrifying and alive.
PositivePublishers WeeklyWilliams has a knack for realistically portraying how childhood trauma lingers into adulthood. In her exploration of how people cope, she also delivers hope: psyches can be mended and relationships can help to resolve pain. Williams doesn’t shy away from the darker aspects of human experience, and her characters are fully formed and believable as a result. This is a winning romance.
César Aira tr. Chris Andrews
RavePublishers Weekly... gemlike ... In a dream-logic worthy of his Argentine compatriot Borges, Aira makes this notion seem plausible, and elicits a deep sense of wonder at the hidden meaning in the world’s coincidences. This prismatic, exquisitely rendered work is from a master at the height of his powers.
César Aira tr. Chris Andrews
PositiveKirkusIn a delightful surprise, this brief novel is introduced by Patti Smith, who calls Aira \'cosmically mischievous and profound.\' She’s right; though this is just a palate cleanser for Aira, it\'s marked by not only his characteristically expressive language, but also his willingness to go just about anywhere with a narrative ... Aira always writes at the speed of sound, but the velocity here is particularly apparent, enough to be confusing at times ... Among Aira’s seemingly ceaseless output, this book is a strikingly effective pause in a world that moves pretty fast these days ... From an often flawed and fast-moving writer, a quasi-mythological moment of reflection.
RavePublishers WeeklyMcQuiston’s joyful sophomore romp mixes all the elements that made Red, White & Royal Blue so outstanding—quirky characters, coming-of-age confusion, laugh-out-loud narration, and hilarious pop-cultural references into something totally its own ... With all the fun and camp of a drag show (of which this novel features more than one) but grounded in the tenderness of first love, this time-slip rom-com is an absolute delight. McQuiston brings the goods.
PositiveKirkusMcQuiston introduces another ensemble full of winning, wacky, impossibly witty characters. Every scene that takes place with August’s chosen family of friends crackles with electricity, warmth, and snappy pop-culture references, whether they’re at a charmingly eccentric 24-hour pancake diner or a drag queen brunch. But there are also serious moments, both in the dramatic yearning of August and Jane’s limited love affair (it can be hard to be romantic when all your dates take place on the subway) and in the exploration of the prejudice and violence Jane and her friends faced as queer people in the 1970s. The story does drag on a bit too long, but readers who persevere through the slower bits will be rewarded with a moving look at the strength of true love even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles ... A sweet, funny, and angst-filled romance with a speculative twist.
PositiveKirkusReaders will be informed and disheartened as they read page after page of dismal reports from Lincoln’s Springfield neighbors and colleagues about Mary’s tantrums, which often drove him to spend the night in his office ... Deploring Mary was the rule until two generations of diligent feminist scholarship corrected traditional male prejudices. As a result, she now receives more sympathetic treatment, so Burlingame’s portrait may strike readers as a throwback ... An entertaining though entirely unflattering biography that will certainly provoke debate.
MixedPublishers Weekly... detailed ... Unfortunately, Burlingame fails to distinguish between hard evidence and rumor, and doesn’t fully reckon with how sexism may have shaped contemporaneous views of Todd’s behavior. This one-sided takedown won’t persuade Mary Todd’s defenders.
PositiveKirkusPadgett sketches both profiles with evenhanded journalistic precision while grounding the book’s core at the Sweet Gum Head ... The author illustrates both the intimacy and the nasty melodrama of nightclub life, and he demonstrates the significant achievements of Smith’s activism, the scourge of Christian crusader Anita Bryant’s anti-gay campaigns, and Smith’s eventual downfall due to his drug addiction. Padgett also acknowledges Sweet Gum owner Frank Powell, who made his club a mecca of self-expression. The author’s analysis also encompasses themes of identity and gender fluidity and creatively marks the progress made by Southern queer communities in terms of sexual freedom and equal rights ... A balanced, colorfully depicted portrait of a Southern LGBTQ+ movement.
MixedPublishers WeeklyPadgett can be a little too on-the-nose, and his selection of profile subjects feels somewhat arbitrary. Still, LGBTQ history buffs will be thrilled to see the Deep South take a turn in the spotlight.
PositiveKirkus... uplifting ... This engaging folk-hero biography, which follows Wilkins throughout her grand adventure, also touches on the cultural history of mid-20th-century America. As Letts delves into the postwar prosperity that transformed the U.S. into a land of cars and endless highways, she celebrates the dying tradition of the \'American tramp or hobo\' that Wilkins, the self-christened \'Last of the Saddle Tramps,\' represented ... A heartwarming and nostalgic book to appeal to horse lovers and fans of the author’s previous books.
PositivePublishers WeeklyLetts’s attention to detail and clear admiration of her \'funny, quirky, and bold\' subject light up the narrative and make it hard to put down. This story has it all: bravery, determination, and a whole lot of heart.
PositiveKirkus... adroit, thoroughly researched ... Whyte argues persuasively against assuming \'the altruism of crusaders and reformers,\' some of whom are intent on \'assigning blame and sacking rich targets\' ... An authoritative contribution to business and automotive history.
PanPublishers Weekly... strident ... Though some intriguing points are raised, Whyte’s antipathy toward the \'regulatory state\' and ardent sympathy for corporate executives cast doubt on the fairness of his analysis. This agenda-driven history overstates its case.
RaveKirkusIf novelists are auditioning to play God, Hilderbrand gets the part.
PositivePublishers WeeklyHilderbrand expertly tugs at the heartstrings ... Hilderbrand has a talent for creating characters that etch themselves onto readers’ hearts, and delivers a big, well-earned surprise with the hit-and-run driver’s identity. Strong supporting characters, notably a long-ago ex from Vivi’s past, add texture. Hilderbrand’s enchanting, emotional novel will delight her many fans.
RaveKirkusThe text messages bring the author’s mother to life, capturing her incisive wit and views, and over the course of the narrative, it becomes clear that Orange and her mother commune best as critics, more cerebral than emotional, neither single-pointed nor conventional ... The prismatic effect of Orange\'s multidimensional approach is brilliant, illuminative, and moving.
PositivePublishers Weekly... often brilliant, but occasionally mired ... Orange’s unsentimental language balances poignancy and intellectualism, though her analysis tends to go on a bit too long. At its heart, this is an affecting mother-daughter saga.
PositiveKirkusClearly enthusiastic about her subject, the author sometimes finds herself in the tall weeds; her account of the making of the Old Farmer’s Almanac is everything you ever wanted to know, and then much more besides. Early on, McHugh points out that her field contains \'a striking absence of nonwhite authors and LGBTQ authors,\' for the simple reason that dispensers of advice have usually been White men, and often of a conservative religious bent ... A worthy, capably told look at a small canon of works demonstrating how to do well by doing good.
PositivePublishers Weekly... appealing ... expert ... Brisk publication histories and author profiles enrich the cultural analysis, which is consistently on-point. This lucid survey entertains and enlightens.
Rebecca Hall, illus. by Hugo Martínez
RaveKirkusA vividly illustrated account of Black women rebels that combines elements of memoir, archival research, and informed imaginings of its subjects\' lives ... The black-and-white illustrations nicely complement the text and elevate the artfulness and the power of the book, which begins and ends with scenes depicting women-led revolts aboard a ship Hall calls the Unity. An urgent, brilliant work of historical excavation.
Rebecca Hall, illus. by Hugo Martínez
PositivePublishers Weekly... nuanced and affecting ... Hall’s singular look at these women, along with her own experiences and resilience, highlight how entwined the past and present really are. Martínez’s resonant black-and-white art cleverly integrates historical scenes into the present-day narrative. Plus, his roomy panels and full pages leave space to breathe, and to reflect. Readers will be left with plenty to think about.
RavePublishers WeeklyPercy (The Dark Net) launches the Comet Cycle series with this wildly entertaining and highly original melange of northern Minnesota lore and slam-bang near-future SF action ... Percy’s dead-on local color, strong central characters, and well-integrated flashbacks into the making of a modern samurai will delight and entertain both comics fans and serious science fiction readers. This is an impressive series starter.
MixedKirkusThere are constant echoes of history and pop culture as well as SF and mystery tropes, most notably from Watchmen ... The variety of tones and allusions is entertaining but also prevents the novel from ever settling into a deeper social commentary; there’s just so much, all the time. It’s a Western! It’s a revenge play! It’s an environmental critique! Creative, for sure, but also a bit fragmented.
PositivePublishers Weekly... elegantly elegiac ... Though not all the Highsmithian deceptions come off as equally convincing, Mangan, unlike Frankie, more than lives up to the promise of her debut.
MixedKirkusMuch of the suspense here is driven by misdirection, abetted by Frankie’s puzzling inability to ask pointed questions. Not surprisingly, it develops that Gilly herself has writerly ambitions, and the narrative takes an All About Eve turn. A reference to Patricia Highsmith, like Chekhov’s gun, will also play out, because Gilly has much in common with Ripley, in that her real aim is to supplant her hero. These tropes wind down in a not entirely unexpected but fitting way.
MixedPublishers Weekly... disappointing ... Evocative prose makes up only in part for a predictable revenge plotline and stock characters. Those with a taste for gory westerns may be satisfied.
RavePublishers Weekly... riveting ... Through lush and poetic language, she captures the vital forces at work in the natural world. This is nature writing at its most potent.
PositiveKirkus... fascinating ... Though enthusiastic, Flyn is not letting humans off easy for their mistakes. She offers eye-opening statistics about the irreparable damage humans have created and grim warnings if such activity continues. In addition to the ecological effects, Flyn also discusses the psychological damage abandonment has wrought on humans still in the area ... A compelling reflection on the extraordinary healing power of nature when it is left to its own devices.
M Leona Godin
RavePublishers Weekly... revealing and humorous ... By turns heartfelt and thought-provoking, this is a striking achievement.
M Leona Godin
PositiveKirkusGodin uncovers a rich literary history of blindness ... The author wraps up her erudite, capacious book with discussions of blind parents and superheroes, the portrayal of the blind in the media, and blind pride ... As Godin wonderfully shows, we’ve come a long way in our quest to understand what blindness means.
RavePublishers Weekly... [a] stinging comedy ... In lieu of plot, Cohen makes hay of the culture clash between the Blums and the Netanyahus ... Uncomfortable exchanges abound on campus after the boozy aftermath of one of Netanyahu’s lectures ... Cohen’s writing is vibrant even when ruminating on esoteric details on Jewish identity theories ... This blistering portrait is great fun.
RaveKirkusParticularly compelling is Wright’s straight-line connection of the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion and Trump’s failed attempt to maintain power to the destabilizing effects of the plague. Maddening and sobering—as comprehensive an account of the first year of the pandemic as we’ve yet seen.
MixedPublishers Weekly... scattershot ... , the treatment of major controversies tends to be one-sided and overwrought. Wright likens the Capitol rioters to \'Visigoths breaking through the gates of Rome,\' treats opposition to lockdowns and mask mandates as the preserve of wild-eyed conspiracy theorists, and generally bemoans the \'cyclonic forces of fascism and nihilism\' besieging America. The result is an immersive and richly detailed yet contentious take on recent history that provokes more than enlightens.
PositiveThe Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
RavePublishers WeeklyHiggins delivers an outstanding romantic weeper with this tale of young newlyweds facing a terminal illness ... After Lauren dies, Josh’s raw grief is palpable, as is Lauren’s reluctance to leave the love of her life, which comes through in her letters. Delightful supporting characters add to the charm, such as a Banana Republic salesman who comforts Josh after he has a breakdown while trying to fulfill one of Lauren’s tasks. Perfect pacing and plotting lift Higgins’s masterly latest. This is going to break (and restore) plenty of hearts.
RaveKirkusA young widower begrudgingly attempts to move on when he receives assignments from his beloved late wife ... Higgins deftly navigates a premise that could’ve been sappy and instead turns it into something poignant, realistic, and occasionally even funny. Josh and Lauren never seem like caricatures of a grieving widower or a selfless, angelic dead wife. Instead, they are fully rounded characters with flaws and eccentricities. The story alternates between Josh’s present-day attempts to live his new life and Lauren’s point of view in the past, making her feel like a real person instead of just a saintly presence. The amount of detail around Lauren’s disease is both impressive and heartbreaking to read. The characters surrounding Josh and Lauren are all complex and quirky, and seeing Josh accept love from the people in his life, both from new friends and old family members, is just as sob-inducing as reading about how he loses Lauren.
PositiveBooklistLauren’s point of view anchors the alternating chapters, which tell the story of her relationship with Josh in reverse chronological order, from her last days to the first time they met. Higgins is a master of snappy dialogue, and her characters are authentic and relatable—a must for this type of novel. The heart of the story is tragic, but just like real life, there’s humor hidden in the darkest moments. This warm, bighearted story about grief, family, and the redemptive power of love will appeal to fans of Katherine Center and Jennifer Weiner.
Yan Lianke tr. Carlos Rojas
RaveKirkusChinese novelist Yan sets aside the \'mythorealism\' of books past to deliver a gritty, memorable story of love in a time of choler ... Their revolutionary ardor dims a touch when they run afoul of bigger party bosses, however, and Yan’s study of power and class struggle becomes, in the end, a near-classic tragedy with the subtlest of nods to his version of magical realism. Admirers of Yan’s work won’t be disappointed with this turn to straightforward narrative.
Yan Lianke tr. Carlos Rojas
RavePublishers WeeklyYan probes the darkness and absurdity of Chinese society and history with a sexy satirical tale of the Cultural Revolution as wrought in a small village ... Yan’s exuberant and unflinching tragicomedy is undeniably appealing.
RaveKirkusA childhood friendship ebbs and flows over the course of several tumultuous decades in Italy’s recent past ... A diverse collection of secondary characters, ranging from careless social elites to scrappy urban playmates, support and undermine Olivia and Valerio while the plot unfolds in cinematic settings including Olivia’s family’s villa; the working-class area of Rome where Valerio spends much of his later youth; and the ski slopes of Cortina. Valerio recounts the meandering story of their long liaison and ponders the roles of fate and self-determination over the course of a lifetime, echoing some of his (not to be underestimated) father’s thoughts about the inevitabilities of relationships ... Bonvicini’s star-crossed soul mates are ready for their miniseries.
PositiveLibrary JournalBonvicini traces the decades-long relationship between Olivia Morganti, from a wealthy family of builders, and Valerio Carneval, the son of the Morganti family’s servants ... Bonvicini’s is not a typical love story. Most of the characters, including Olivia and Valerio, shrug off infidelity and divorce. Keenly observant Valerio narrates the novel in a formal, serious voice. Olivia and her grandmother Manon are well-developed, vibrant characters with virtues and flaws ... This book is recommended for readers who like an unconventional love story and are interested in the political and social upheaval in Italy during the late 20th century.
PositivePublishers WeeklyWith X as her partner, she learns the steps to leading with her heart. With deadpan humor, realistically wrought relationships among the Black principal cast, and a well-executed fantastical element, Yoon delivers a story of love’s unpredictability and the importance of perspective that unfolds with ease and heart.
PositiveKirkusAnother uplifting story of horses and determination ... As Letts delves into the postwar prosperity that transformed the U.S. into a land of cars and endless highways, she celebrates the dying tradition of the \'American tramp or hobo\' that Wilkins, the self-christened \"Last of the Saddle Tramps,\" represented. A heartwarming and nostalgic book to appeal to horse lovers and fans of the author’s previous books.
PositivePublishers WeeklyLetts inspires in this miraculous true story of one woman’s trek from Maine to California on horseback ... Letts’s attention to detail and clear admiration of her \'funny, quirky, and bold\' subject light up the narrative and make it hard to put down. This story has it all: bravery, determination, and a whole lot of heart.
RaveBookreporterShe weaves her riveting tale to give her fragile daughter a reason to live, even as her own strength wanes. Wollstonecraft’s urgent story of loss and triumph forms the heartbreakingly brief intersection between the lives of a mother and daughter who will change the arc of history and thought. In radiant prose, Samantha Silva delivers an ode to the dazzling life of Mary Wollstonecraft, one of the world\'s most influential thinkers and mother of the famous novelist Mary Shelley. But at its heart, Love and Fury is a story about the power of a woman reclaiming her own narrative to pass on to her daughter, and all daughters, for generations to come.
PositiveSmart Bitches Trashy BooksThis book was rough going in places as Mary had a difficult life ... And yet I did not find the book to be depressing. Rather, I found myself exhilarated by all Mary did with her life, and more fond than ever of this stubborn, passionate, brilliant, frustrating woman ... Do not let the short length of the book fool you – it’s not a light read due to the multiple traumas depicted or alluded to in the book. However, it’s a rewarding portrait of a flawed and fabulous person.
PositiveKirkus\"A fictionalized biography of Mary Wollstonecraft, the pioneering 18th-century feminist and radical thinker who was the mother of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley ... Silva frames the novel as the dying woman\'s recounting of her life story to her infant ... While Silva works hard to fit in all the details of Wollstonecraft’s life with accuracy, the most moving moments belong to her fictitious midwife, kindly Mrs. Blenkinsop. Her intermittent narration of Wollstonecraft’s last weeks is meant to provide a workingwoman’s adoring view of Wollstonecraft and her domestic life with Godwin but also reveals the midwife’s private grief and spiritual growth. Silva’s strong visual language enhances an otherwise matter-of-fact retelling of Wollstonecraft’s brief, eventful life.
PositivePublishers Weekly[A] gripping, meticulous novel ... Short chapters written from pragmatic Blenkinsop’s perspective balance Wollstonecraft’s turbulent story and evoke the class differences as well as the commonalities between the era’s women. Silva’s heartbreaking but inspiring work captures the despair and joy, convictions and contradictions of an extraordinary woman.
PositivePublishers Weekly... comprehensive ... Issenberg lucidly delineates this multifaceted and complex topic and movingly profiles key players including Ninia Baehr and Genora Dancel, original litigants in the Hawaii case. The magnitude of detail slows the proceedings somewhat, but even readers well-versed in the subject will learn something new. The result is a definitive portrait of a key victory in the battle for LGBTQ rights.
MixedKirkus... exceptionally comprehensive but overlong and inefficiently organized ... Issenberg’s encyclopedic narrative, though written well on the sentence level, has an inelegant structure that reveals an author unable or unwilling to necessarily condense the narrative (at least 200 pages could have been cut). He also includes too many unedifying details ... Future journalists or historians will likely offer more efficient histories, but Issenberg’s research makes the book a vital source for bookstores, libraries, and LGBTQ studies completists ... An important story of a great civil rights battle told in exhaustive detail.
PositivePublishers WeeklyDiamant examines all things menstrual in this expansive collection of anecdote, history, and pop culture criticism ... The wealth of information and anecdote can feel disjointed at times, but the effect is powerful nonetheless, and lands as a repository of information rarely in the spotlight. For young women, especially, this will provide a fascinating look back and powerful impetus to work for a shame-free future.
PositivePublishers Weekly... entertaining and informative ... A witty and well-informed narrator, Slingerland ranges across a wide range of academic fields to make his case. Readers will toast this praiseworthy study.
MixedKirkusIn the final chapter, the author cautions against imbibing distilled spirits and drinking \'outside of the traditional context of ritual and social controls,\' contradicting his earlier assertion that many artists and writers \'unleashed\' their creativity by drinking hard liquor, alone ... A hyperbolic but entertaining defense of intoxication via alcohol.
Amanda M Fairbanks
PositiveKirkusA memorable lost-at-sea narrative focusing on a Montauk-based commercial fishing boat ... In this well-documented, page-turning debut book, Sag Harbor–based journalist Fairbanks explores the circumstances leading to the ship’s disappearance as well as how memories of the crew members have affected their loved ones. The author is particularly good in her examination of the complicated social dynamics involved in the lives of career fishermen ... Fairbanks also discovers a few closely held secrets that have had a tremendous impact on the lives of those involved ... A riveting man-vs.-nature story and compelling tribute to those who perished.
Amanda M Fairbanks
PositivePublishers WeeklyA deeply reported and moving account of how a tragedy has affected a Long Island fishing community ... Fairbanks skillfully folds the socioeconomic issues into her narrative, and brings her subjects, especially Stedman’s widow, Mary, to vivid life. The result is a memorable portrait of loss.
PositivePublishers WeeklyA heartwarming, hilarious novel ... Rowley finds humor and poignancy in the snappy narrative ... and deepened by lessons the grief-stricken children learn via Patrick from generations of gay life. Readers will find this delightful and illuminating.
PositiveKirkusHollywood star banishes himself to Palm Springs only to be thrust back into the limelight by, of all people, his young \'niblings,\' or niece and nephew ... Patrick has for four years marooned himself in the desert, tetchy about his fame, his career, and his unresolved grief over the loss of his partner, Joe, the victim of a drunk driver ... it’s genuinely thrilling to read screenwriter-turned-novelist Rowley’s take on the mechanics of stardom, especially about a star who’s no longer young ... Although some of the plot is predictable (for example, the relationship between Patrick and young actor Emory), there’s true insight here into the psychology of gay men, Hollywood, and parenting. ... A novel with some real depth beneath all its witty froth.
PositiveTexarcan GazetteA fine way to spend an hour or so this spring ... It\'s all quite fascinating and takes about as long to read as a good nap. While readers will cheer for the two babies as they overcome various obstacles on their way to rejoining nature, Montgomery sees in the process of caring for them a parable of sorts.
PositiveKirkusThe author of The Soul of the Octopus returns with the story of the miraculous recovery of two abandoned baby hummingbirds ... With her characteristic compassion, Montgomery shows the patience and skill with which Sherburn nursed her charges back to health. She also discusses the extreme measures other rehabbers have taken to ensure the recovery of injured and orphaned hummingbirds ... Regarding the reason for writing this book, Montgomery explains that witnessing the recovery of these tiny creatures was a cherished gift ... A small gem full of hope, determination, and wonder.
Alathea Fitzalan Howard
MixedKirkusAnother facet of the British royal family emerges via the diary entries of a young, devoted Windsor Park neighbor ... The author diligently chronicles the stultifying round of royal visits and duties and her grinding work as a nurse in training, none of which makes for interesting reading. But she does provide some intriguing insights into the characters of the princesses as well as her own: She was an old-fashioned girl whose mother was deeply critical and emotionally remote, leading to bouts of depression ... A litany of dull, dreary royal goings-on peppered with the diarist’s sharp, dark observations.
Alathea Fitzalan Howard
PositivePublishers WeeklyThe diary entries, some only a few lines long, are intimate and endearing ... Howard also acknowledges the \'heavy nameless cloud\' of depression that sometimes settles over her, and reflects on her parents’ unhappiness. Royal watchers and British history buffs will cherish these frank reflections.
PositivePublishers WeeklyThe Emmy-winning star of ER and The Good Wife reflects on family chaos and toxic men in this thoughtful memoir ... Margulies’s narrative is full of piquant anecdotes—such as the time her mother brought home a man she met at a nightclub, along with his pet monkey—and subtle, evocative character studies that suggest how her rapt attunement to her family’s mercurial personalities and self-actualizing impulses nurtured her own creative ambitions. The result is an entertaining and revealing portrait of how a young girl becomes an accomplished actor.
PositiveBookreporterJulianna Margulies deftly chronicles her life and her work in this deeply powerful memoir ... Filled with intimate stories and revelatory moments, Sunshine Girl is at once unflinchingly honest and perceptive. It is a riveting self-portrait of a woman whose resilience in the face of turmoil will leave readers intrigued and inspired.
PositiveKirkusThe veteran actor delivers the intriguing tale of her unusual childhood and successful career ... this book is more about the strength of the storytelling than the star power of the author ... the author focuses on her childhood and how shuttling between the homes of her divorced parents across Europe and America influenced her life and acting career ... What the author shares and doesn’t is deliberate, all offered to advance the fascinating story she wants to tell. It’s the mark of a talented storyteller and a sign she can have another creative future if she wants it. Margulies’ unflinching quest to explain her life makes her well-crafted memoir compelling whether you know her roles or not.
PositiveKirkusA gripping, exhaustively detailed chronicle of America’s initial sprint in the space race seen through the eyes of the first American to orbit the Earth ... The author makes a compelling case that Glenn was a central figure in this transition, noting how his combination of arrogance, drive, and down-home folksiness made him a \'flesh-and-blood\' example of American ideals. Though Shesol could have tightened the narrative by shaving around 100 pages, this is a welcome retelling of a significant piece of the Cold War saga and the opening of the space frontier. A good choice for readers interested in the Cold War, the space race, and the 1960s American political landscape.
RavePublishers Weekly[E]ntertaining and deeply researched ... Shesol provides plenty of historical and political context ... Readers will savor the hair-raising ride.
PositivePublishers WeeklyLee’s two-tiered structure falters slightly under the weight of Green’s copious resume, but he sustains a captivating strangeness in his depiction of the period, such as the practice of hunting stray dogs on city streets for a bounty. By and by, a dynamic all-American character emerges, making for an audacious historical.
RaveKirkusAn exceptional work of historical fiction ... a police inspector stumbles on a clue to the shooting after visiting a bordello whose madam is linked to the case. She provides one of the book’s most colorful sections (and its only significant female character), and she and the inspector dominate the novel’s lighter moments. There also are two very different strands of suspense: in the whodunit, which hinges on an accepted haven for straight male urges, and in the biography, with its question of how a man deals with feelings that don’t fit into the conventional narrative of the time. A highly satisfying mix of mystery and character portrait, revealing the constrained heart beneath the public carapace.
PositiveKirkus\"This debut novel is filled with sharp, vivid descriptions of back roads and seedy meet-ups, which contrast with Irene’s dedication to Luce and her fervent belief in the future that might be possible if only the two of them can avoid thinking about Wilky\'s death and whether his fate, chosen or not, might also become their own. Absorbing and unflinching.\
RavePublishers Weekly\"Tucker astonishes in her devastating debut, a harrowing account of addiction, friendship, and loss ... Tucker does a wonderful job locating Irene’s and Luce’s desire to live a better life beneath their tough exteriors...This keen awareness consistently adds depth and devastation. No matter the characters’ genuine longing to change, they are bound to their cyclical, unrelenting patterns. This is a stunning accomplishment.\
RaveKirkusA deeply personal, unsparing analysis of how neglected diseases disproportionately affect marginalized peoples in the world’s richest country—and why they need not ... The author highlights how poverty, policies that limit health care for immigrants and marginalized peoples, and the worldwide neglect of public health infrastructure all contribute to the 10,000 deaths among the 6 million cases of Chagas disease in the Americas ... The author’s Tía Dora, who lived with and died from Chagas disease, changed Hernández’s life. Her story, ably rendered by the author, should open readers’ eyes to a persistent plague. A compelling indictment of our failing health care system and the people falling through its ever widening cracks.
RavePublishers WeeklyHernández [...] blends family memoir, scientific inquiry, and journalistic exposé in this poignant study of Chagas disease, an insect-borne tropical parasitic infection that can cause lifelong heart and intestinal problems if left untreated ... This vivid, multidimensional account brings an ongoing medical injustice to light.
PositivePublishers WeeklyIrony and satire collide in Raina’s sparkling debut ... Raina ably shows both the seedy and privileged parts of Indian society through Ramesh’s biting wit...Readers will enjoy the ride.
Donald A Ritchie
PositiveKirkus... brings to life one of the golden ages of investigative journalism ... Readers may weary of Ritchie’s relentless stream of half-forgotten scandals, but they will be intrigued by his portrait of a time when muckrakers raked whatever muck they found. Today, with politics polarized into near immobility, commentators still attack government malfeasance, but hard evidence is increasingly irrelevant to their audience, to whom truth is whatever conforms to their ideology ... An entertaining and mostly admiring life of the legendary columnist.