PositiveBookPage... an undeniable immediacy, as though readers are spending the day hiking right beside him ... There are humorous missteps as well, bringing to mind Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, although Offerman’s descriptions of the glorious trails will leave readers ready to make a beeline to Glacier ... Laced with humor, intellect and fierce passion, Where the Deer and the Antelope Play is an entertaining getaway to a variety of unexpected American vistas.
RaveBookPageRegardless of whether you’re an animal lover, On Animals is a fabulously fun collection of essays ... Orlean is such a virtuoso of unexpected joys and delights that she can make even the story of a lost dog read like a thriller ... Her style seems meandering at times, but each essay always returns to its glorious point, even when following an aside ... Whether she’s encountering a donkey laden with four televisions in Morocco, or extolling the global appeal of pandas, Orlean’s high-octane enthusiasm never wanes ... Orlean’s readers will find themselves completely diverted by On Animals’ irresistible menagerie.
RaveBookPage... [a] superb, sprawling, cross-country saga ... Towles continues to transport readers, immersing them just as completely in the adventures of the Watson brothers he did in the seemingly claustrophobic lives of Count Rostov and his young sidekick ... Packed with drama ... Towles’ fans will be rewarded with many of the same pleasures they’ve come to expect from him: a multitude of stories told at a leisurely pace (the novel clocks in at 592 pages); numerous endearing and sometimes maddening characters; and pitch-perfect plotting with surprises at every turn. As if that weren’t enough, the novel is chock-full of literary references ... Towles has created another winning novel whose pages are destined to be turned—and occasionally tattered—by gratified readers.
RaveBookPageThis book is such a rich stew of anecdotes and lore that it’s best savored slowly, bit by bit. Roach doles out surprising true tales from her around-the-world survey of human-wildlife relations ... Roach also tackles deeply serious topics in Fuzz, such as the death and destruction caused by certain wandering elephants, or bears whose DNA needs to be traced in order to track down one who killed a person. But no matter the situation, Roach approaches it with contagious enthusiasm ... Fuzz will open readers’ eyes to a myriad of animal rights issues, and possibly change their attitudes about how to approach them.
RaveBookPagePeter Heller takes readers on another thrilling wilderness adventure in The Guide ... Heller is an expert at building suspense, and he’s a first-rate nature writer, lending authenticity to the wealth of wilderness details he provides ... He also uses a notable layout technique—adding space between each paragraph—that makes readers turn his thrilling pages even faster. One warning, however: Heller’s novels...are not for the faint of heart. Still, The Guide is a glorious getaway in every sense, a wild wilderness trip as well as a suspenseful journey to solve a chilling mystery.
Derek B. Miller
RaveBookPage... rollicking ... Miller has crafted a wide-ranging, years-spanning yet tightly structured plot, and he excels at placing memorable characters in unusual circumstances ... An underlying seriousness lies at the heart of all of this intrigue, hilarity and fun ... The ending of How to Find Your Way in the Dark is nothing short of brilliant, tying up a variety of loose ends while making a powerful statement about the need to fully recognize and address antisemitism. Readers are left with much to ponder, including life’s many uncertainties and cruel twists of fate. Despite these unhappy truths, we are also left with the uplifting wisdom of Lenny’s urgent prayer: \'Dear God, give me the strength to be joyful.\'
Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
PositiveBookPage... engrossing ... Marie Benedict (who is white) and Victoria Christopher Murray (who is Black) do an admirable job of trying to imagine whether her achievements were worth the sacrifices. Despite the fact that Belle burned her personal papers before she died, no doubt to protect her secret, the authors succeed in bringing her elusive, charismatic personality to life, highlighting her attention-grabbing style, her witty quips and her rich, complicated relationship with Morgan ... Although the novel may have benefitted from a more sharply focused narrative arc, the authors take full advantage of the treasure trove of intriguing historical detail at their disposal ... There is much to enjoy in The Personal Librarian, as well as much to consider.
PositiveBookPageIt’s rare when a book is decidedly grim—dire, even—yet still manages to be as full of comfort, humor and hope as One Two Three, a thought-provoking allegory about corporate greed, environmental activism, parent-child relationships and the bonds and betrayals of sisterly love ... Frankel reveals their stories in artful prose laced with humor, much of it dark ... The town is filled with wonderful characters ... The result is a warm, funny tour de force that has much to say about big business, the ways that tragedies unfold, the power of citizens to effect change and the passing of civic responsibility from one generation to the next ... a very different story indeed—one that is delightfully memorable and wildly empowering.
PositiveBookPageFans of Alex Michaelides’ blockbuster debut The Silent Patient will eagerly dive into his newest thriller ... Michaelides’ page-turner cleverly weaves together Mariana’s difficult and haunted past, her group therapy patients, Greek mythology and the increasing local tension as more girls are killed. He makes excellent use of the Cambridge University setting, with its gothic settings, traditions and hierarchy of students, professors and staff. As clues emerge and danger grows, Mariana becomes more and more sure of her sleuthing, although frustrated readers may often want to shake her and point her in other directions ... a well-paced, suspenseful and easy-to-digest thriller. The Greek tragedy aspect is intriguing and Michaelides explains the mythology, so there’s no need to brush up beforehand. Be forewarned, however: there’s a supremely unsettling, sure-to-be-divisive twist at the end of this cliffhanger.
RaveBookPageThis is a feel-good story in every way, and Letts keeps the momentum lively, sprinkling in interesting historical tidbits that enrich the drama. The Ride of Her Life is an altogether quirky, inspiring journey that’s not to be missed.
RaveBookPageEleanor Morse’s precise, patient prose captivates from page one ... Morse expertly plays with...perspective, showing how global events seep into every molecule of the family’s life ... Margreete’s Harbor is also a particularly tender portrait of a family faced with dementia ... Full of love, triumph and a boatload of heartbreak, Margreete’s Harbor is a celebration of life’s inevitable messiness. As after any good visit with family or dear friends, you will leave feeling satisfied while yearning for more.
RaveBookPageGranata bravely and lovingly chronicles his family’s story—before, during and after the tragedy—in his riveting memoir ... Granata writes with compassion, reflection and unsparing honesty of not only his brother’s metamorphosis but also his own transformation after the crime—how he was finally able to find his way back to his life, memories and love of his brother. Some of the book’s most memorable scenes take place during his visits with Tim in Connecticut’s Whiting Forensic Hospital, where Tim was sent to be \'restored to competency\' so that he could eventually be tried for his crime ... Anyone trying to better understand the cruel grip of psychosis will learn much from Everything Is Fine.
RaveBookPage... marvelous ... hefty but inspiring ... With his dynamic and formidable style, Isaacson explains the long scientific journey that led to this tool’s discovery and the exciting developments that have followed ... Like Lab Girl on steroids, The Code Breaker paints a detailed picture of how scientists work ... The timing of Isaacson’s book could hardly be better ... For readers seeking to understand the many twists, turns and nuances of the biotechnology revolution, there’s no better place to turn than The Code Breaker.
PositiveBookPage... fascinating ... Cooke has created a sweeping account of not only the airline industry and its cultural history but also women’s evolution in the workforce. She blends an overview of the job with the personal stories of several (real!) flight attendants, dispelling ludicrous myths and showing how Pan Am presented adventurous, curious women with a way to see the world at a time when their opportunities were limited ... An entertaining and informative narrator, Cooke has a big story to tell and excels at painting her panorama in broad strokes. At times, however, readers may find themselves wishing for a few more anecdotes, as well as more direct quotations from the women she profiles. Nonetheless, many of her accounts are memorable ... Come Fly the World is an eye-opening account of female flight attendants’ successes and struggles in the not-so-distant past.
RaveBookPage... positively delicious ... Ryan continues to excel at creating warmhearted, intriguing homefront drama ... Ryan uses alternating chapters to explore each woman’s personality, moving the drama steadily along with brisk dialogue and action. This is very much a book about women’s rights, strengths and abilities, and the class differences among characters add drama and a dash of complexity ... Recipes are included for each round, some adapted from wartime leaflets. They’re fun to read, and each is well integrated into the unfolding drama...Historical details sprinkled throughout are equally fascinating ... Ryan injects humor into their sorrow—as well as empowerment—as the group gradually learns to band together and pool their talents instead of facing off as kitchen opponents ... While The Kitchen Front goes down like a spoonful of sugar, Ryan manages to instill substance and plenty of food for thought in its creative and ultimately uplifting story.
RaveBookPageRaised to roam the globe, Jaouad found that her world had suddenly shrunk to a hospital room at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where she underwent a stem cell transplant and other grueling treatments, which she began chronicling in a New York Times column called \'Life Interrupted.\' Her engrossing memoir, Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of Life Interrupted, paints a more complete portrait of her experiences during and after treatment ... Between Two Kingdoms is a thoughtful book from a talented young writer who never sugarcoats or falls prey to false hope ... Her message will ring helpful and true to many, regardless of the challenges they face.
RaveBookPageIt takes tremendous talent to seamlessly combine social commentary with a powder keg of a plot, and Nancy Johnson accomplishes just that in her gripping debut novel, The Kindest Lie, addressing issues of race, class, privilege and upward mobility ... Don’t miss this powerful debut.
RaveBookPage[A] heart-wrenching tale that will resonate with many ... The results of Glaser’s extensive research read like a well-crafted, tension-filled novel ... American Baby is a powerful, memorable story.
RaveBookPageIn folklore, magpies are said to bring bad luck, but that certainly wasn’t the case for Charlie Gilmour. An abandoned baby bird helped this young British author finally exorcise the long shadow cast by his biological father, who abandoned him as an infant. Gilmour’s remarkable memoir, Featherhood: A Memoir of Two Fathers and a Magpie, explains in lively, compelling detail how caring for this bird prepared him to become a father himself. With razor-sharp wit and storytelling, Gilmour interweaves the story of this bird, whom he and his partner named Benzene, with that of his past ... Featherhood represents the debut of a talented young writer reckoning with an unusual past.
PositiveBookPage\"...[a] taut, richly imagined debut ... The story tackles many issues, including divorce, parental death, grief and child molestation, as well as class and immigration issues, making this nostalgic 1980s story surprisingly topical ... A Crooked Tree marks the welcome debut of a talented, captivating new voice.
PositiveBookPage...unusual, intriguing ... While such sweeping history is interesting, the crux of his story is personal ... While Puchner’s scholarly interests remain in focus, he writes clearly and thoughtfully, using history to examine past, present and future.
RaveBookPage... artfully combines intriguing characters, fascinating historical details and a seafaring labyrinth of twists and turns ... There is never a dull moment in this 480-page whodunit, but readers will be thankful not to be physically aboard for the grueling journey ... A trio of women (the captain’s wife, daughter and mistress) are also sleuthing, adding a refreshingly feminine twist to this Sherlock Holmes-styled mystery. Turton’s characterizations dovetail nicely with his careful, clever plotting. Meanwhile, he uses history to his advantage, adding dollops of commentary on women’s rights, class privilege and capitalism that lend the novel a contemporary vibe ... History and mystery lovers alike will delight in the heart-racing escapades.
RaveBookPageSome memoirs recount riveting stories. Others are notable for their masterful storytelling. Debora Harding’s Dancing With the Octopus: A Memoir of a Crime accomplishes both ... With remarkable perception, Dancing With the Octopus shows how, day by day, year by year, both her criminal assault and family dysfunction left Harding with a lifetime of consequences ... One of the book’s great strengths is how artfully Harding lays out the details of her multifaceted story, weaving in and out of time rather than relying on a chronological timetable ... unique and unforgettable.
Sarah Maslin Nir
RaveBookPageNot surprisingly, her writing is energetic, exquisite and enthralling enough to appeal to both horse fanatics and more casual readers alike ... Reminiscent of Susan Orlean’s The Library Book in its fascinating examination of a singular topic, Horse Crazy is an expertly crafted, wrenchingly honest memoir.
RaveBookPageWilkerson’s comparisons are profound and revelatory ... what makes this book so memorable is Wilkerson’s extraordinary narrative gift. Highly readable, Caste is filled with a multitude of stories, many of which are tragically familiar, such as those of Trayvon Martin and Freddie Gray ... Wilkerson is never didactic. She lets history speak for itself, turning the events of the past into necessary fuel for our current national dialogue ... If you read only one book this year, make it Caste, Wilkerson’s outstanding analysis of the grievances that plague our society.
PositiveBookPage... laser-sharp prose ... Part exorcism and part adoring tribute, The Book of Atlantis Black is deeply haunting and darkly fascinating.
RaveBookPage...Brit Bennett’s exquisite second novel...weaves together scenes from the 1950s through the ’90s, tackling such issues as racism, identity, gender and inherited trauma ... This is a novel to be devoured slowly, not only for its intriguing plot and exploration of vital issues but also for its gorgeous writing. Bennett digs deep into the history of colorism and racism in America and explores how far their poisons can reach ... The Vanishing Half calls to mind the work of Toni Morrison, Anne Tyler and Elizabeth Strout. Bennett writes like a master, creating rich worlds filled with a broad cast of characters, all shining brightly in memorable moments both big and small.
PositiveBookPage[O\'Donnell] lets events unfold chronologically while seamlessly interspersing conversations with her mother and grandmother, both natives of Germany, with her own research and travel to important family landmarks in Europe ... O’Donnell provides thoughtful commentary every step of the way ... O’Donnell has created a story that reads like a novel filled with fascinating history and excellent detective work.
RaveBookPage... kudos to Kalb, who pulls off this daring approach brilliantly, allowing readers to hear her grandmother’s inimitable voice ... Not surprisingly, given Kalb\'s chosen career, there are laughs galore throughout the book ... Yet this account runs much deeper than a typical comedy routine. Kalb frequently shares the immense challenge of imagining her grandmother’s voice ... These many enthralling tales (along with family photographs) unfold in a carefully structured yet nonlinear fashion (think This Is Us). The result is lively and fascinating, funny yet poignant ... In a bold stroke of literary bravura, Kalb has turned the formula for writing memoirs inside out, bringing her grandmother’s distinctive voice back to life and sharing it with a legion of lucky readers.
PositiveBookPageRaphel takes readers on a deep lexical dive into the history and culture surrounding the beloved linguistic sport ... Her enthusiastic account will appeal to all sorts of puzzle and word lovers, even those who are just dabblers ... lively chapters ... At times the book is uneven, however, with certain chapters more engaging than others. Nonetheless, Thinking Inside the Box offers a unique crossword puzzle tour that will likely have you sharpening your pencil by book’s end.
RaveBookPageNeumann shares the results of her meticulous research in a brilliantly heart-wrenching memoir ... filled with heartbreaking, spine-tingling stories. But Neumann’s treasure trove of personal history isn’t solely responsible for the book’s appeal: she’s a gifted, visceral writer as well, bringing each character alive as they experience the horrors of World War II. When Time Stopped is a notable new memoir not to be missed.
C Pam Zhang
RaveBookPage... [an] action-packed...standout debut ... Unfolding in a carefully structured, nonlinear fashion, the novel repeatedly questions what makes a home a home and what makes a family a family ... Zhang’s sparse prose style may initially take some getting used to, but both language and plot remain clearly focused. Daringly original, How Much of These Hills Is Gold is gritty and frequently gruesome, yet at times magical and ethereal ... Zhang’s laser-sharp reexamination of America’s myth-laden past is likely to help bring clarity to many issues that continue to challenge us all.
RaveBookPage... a quietly moving, powerful memoir in which Chambers shares her family’s story while praising the fortitude, intelligence and strength of Appalachian women ... Never didactic or dull, Chambers is particularly skillful at sharing her family’s narrative while weaving in facts and commentary about Appalachian sociology, education, health, economics and politics. Most of all, the author’s love and respect for her Granny (married at age 15 to a man she had known for a few months), mother (married at 18, the first in her family to graduate high school or college) and Aunt Ruth (an independent woman who married in her 40s) shine through, brightening each page like a welcoming front porch light ... In this age of political divisions, Hill Women offers a loving, luminous look at an often misunderstood and undervalued segment of our society.
PositiveBookPageDown-to-earth and likable, Rocca is always entertaining and often funny ... Rocca’s heart is often on his sleeve ... Much of the great fun here is this book’s smorgasbord style— its wide-ranging scope of subjects combined with Rocca’s folksy storytelling. Mobituaries may seem to focus on death, but the book’s real heart is Rocca’s lively sense of joy and wonder.
RaveBookPageThe Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini is hardly a typical biography; it’s more like taking an up-close-and-personal tour of the escape artist’s life, narrated not only by author Joe Posnanski in his wonderfully entertaining prose but also by a host of colorful experts whom the author tracks down ... When a talented writer like Posnanski tackles a subject as endlessly fascinating as Harry Houdini, the results are, quite simply, pure magic.
RaveBookpageParalleling Susan Orlean’s The Library Book, a nonfiction ode to books, libraries and librarians, The Starless Sea is a fictional journey dedicated to stories and storytelling. Both are lively, inventive titles chock-full of book-centric quotes. This hefty novel requires imaginary leaps and careful attention to stories and characters that wind their way in many different directions, but Morgenstern—now proving not once, but twice, what an adept literary juggler she is—manages to weave a multitude of strands together into one mighty, magical tale.
RaveBookPagePrescott’s deft treatment of this little-known, stranger-than-fiction saga could hardly be more fascinating ... In the end, Prescott ties this world-spanning novel together with aplomb. With multiple narrators and two riveting but complicated plotlines set on opposite sides of the globe, The Secrets We Kept abounds with not only intrigue but also plenty of joy, heartbreak and, yes, humor.
PositiveBookPage...the journeys [Heinerth] describes...make for exciting, edge-of-your-seat reading. Not only is Heinerth’s memoir thoughtfully structured and adrenaline-filled, but it also offers a fascinating account of exactly how one becomes a renowned, record-setting adventurer ... There’s never a dull moment in Into the Planet, which bursts with full-throttle exuberance for the highs, and sometimes even the lows, of being a pioneering, modern-day explorer.
PositiveBookPage...there’s no denying that Waters is a whip-smart (he’d no doubt like that description), funny, multitalented and unique cultural icon. He’s also an artist and book collector, and these essays reflect his endless assortment of interests ... His multitude of descriptions never cease to amuse ... While it’s certainly not a book for everyone, Waters’ legion of admirers will be lining up in droves to hop aboard the Mr. Know-It-All bus.
PositiveBookPage[Cep is] a thorough researcher and polsihed writer ... Harper Lee fans may find themselves impatient to read about her, as she doesn’t appear until more than halfway through the book, but they’ll be rewarded for the wait. While the myriad mysteries about Lee’s life seem unlikely to ever be resolved, Furious Hours offers an absorbing glimpse into the gifted but guarded life of this enigmatic literary hero.
PositiveBookPage\"... mesmerizing ... The Last Stone will leave readers on the edge of their seats as a group of indefatigable detectives tries to unearth the carefully concealed, unspeakable truths behind a decades-old tragedy.\
RaveBookPage\"Those [biographical] details alone would be enough to make this an interesting read, but O’Meara adds her own unique narrative voice, including 177 fact-filled, endlessly funny footnotes. This is a book that O’Meara was born to write, and she seamlessly meshes her own life story with that of her heroine in a way similar to how Julie Powell paid tribute to Julia Child in Julie and Julia ... Even if you’re not a fan of horror films, The Lady from the Black Lagoon is a riveting, sincere Hollywood saga that will quickly win your heart.\
PositiveBookPage\"... highly readable ... Readers will feel as though they’re part of the investigation and trial ... The Trial of Lizzie Borden is a welcome addition to the lore [of this tale], the perfect starting point for modern-day readers to launch their own inquiries.\
RaveBookPage\"... insightful, moving ... Land combines her raw, authentic voice and superb storytelling skills to create a firsthand account from the trenches. Readers will be left wanting to hear more from this talented new voice, and no doubt, she’s got more stories to tell.\
RaveBookpageExceptional ... [an] exquisite, honest memoir about living with and dying of cancer is equal parts practical and philosophical ... Yip-Williams writes unflinchingly of learning to move forward with the disease ... Full of love, humor, insight and tragedy, her book resonates with wisdom.
PositiveBookPage\"Grab a towel—although it’s early in the year, JoAnn Chaney’s As Long as We Both Shall Live is the perfect beach read, a multiple-murder and suspense saga that will keep readers engrossed and guessing ... Chaney continues to explore dark themes with her quick but effective character studies and zippy prose. The Colorado-based author is particularly adept at juggling multiple narrators and plot lines, revealing a multitude of tantalizing thoughts and actions while keeping the suspense as high as those Rocky Mountains.\
RaveBookPageLate-Life Love is a unique blend of memoir and literary commentary, with Gubar at the helm as an accomplished, bravely honest and mesmerizing guide ... Theirs is a cerebral household catering to a cavalcade of friends, children and grandchildren; readers will delight in being welcomed into the fold ... Reading these analyses is like having a season ticket to a series of fascinating literary discussions.
RaveBookPageKhalida Brohi, named one of Forbes \'30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs in Asia,\' has an engrossing, important story to tell about her childhood in Pakistan ... Writing in compelling, page-turning prose, Brohi shares a deeply felt, intimate portrait of what it means to be a global activist. There’s even a love story―one with a happy ending. Don’t miss I Should Have Honor, which deserves a legion of caring, activist readers.
RaveBookPageDopesick is no doubt the hardest book that award-winning journalist Beth Macy (Truevine, Factory Man) has written, and it left this reviewer in tears ... It’s a heart-wrenching and thorough treatise on the national crisis that everyone knows about, but few deeply understand ... Macy addresses a wealth of complex issues in her engaging, spitfire prose ... Macy is a masterful storyteller, and Dopesick is full of unforgettable stories, including those of policemen, caregivers, prosecutors and a dope dealer named Ronnie Jones ... Dopesick is a moving, must-read analysis of a national crisis.
PositiveBookpageSqueezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America provides an in-depth look at two things people all too often shy away from discussing: money and class. The term standard of living, Quart notes, is used less and less, perhaps because \'the notion that a relatively high quality of life should include small pleasures and comforts has faded.\' ... Quart introduces readers to a variety of people and families being squeezed, whom she calls the Middle Precariat—a \'just making-it group,\' who \'believed that their training or background would ensure that they would be properly, comfortably middle-class,\' but whose assumptions turned out to be wrong.
Nell Irvin Painter
RaveBookPage...[a] bold, brave account ... Old in Art School is a fascinating memoir about Painter’s daring choice to follow a passion with courage and intellect, even when the odds seemed firmly stacked against her.
RaveBookPageReading Calypso, Sedaris’ latest collection of essays, is like settling into a glorious beach vacation with the author, whose parents, siblings and longtime boyfriend, Hugh, feel like old friends to faithful readers ... While Sedaris is laugh-out-loud funny in his brilliant, meandering way, it’s his personal reflections that will stay with you.
RaveBookPage\"Air Traffic is a narrative digest of his life and those of his family members, several of whom also experienced dramatic rises and falls. The poet delves deeply into a mosaic of memories, chronicling growing up black in Willingboro, New Jersey, in the 1970s and the battles he, his brother, father and other relatives have fought with depression, alcoholism and mental illness ... Pardlo seems to be defying the odds, turning his pain into mesmerizing poetry and prose.\
RaveBookPageReaders grow to understand Calcutta’s complexities and contradictions as Choudhury explains its history and introduces neighborhoods and inhabitants. The Epic City is most compelling when he explores his own past, taking us to his grandmother’s house for her funeral and showing us the two-room house where his father (one of 13 children) grew up. Despite Calcutta’s difficulties, Choudhury’s passion never wanes.
RaveBookPageIndeed, she [Narayan] feeds readers a good story in her udderly delightful The Milk Lady of Bangalore ... When Narayan, her husband and their two daughters moved from New York City back to the couple’s native India, Narayan was no doubt looking for something to write about. She found it right in the elevator of her new apartment building: a cow riding up to the third floor for a housewarming ceremony, led by its owner, Sarala... Sarala led the author straight into a herd of often funny and always fascinating bovine adventures... There’s plenty of heart and soul in this book as Narayan takes readers on a unique tour of her Indian neighborhood, where there’s never a dull moment. Narayan is an astute observer, particularly of herself.
RaveBookPageIn riveting, heartbreaking detail, Campbell seamlessly weaves together her own search and investigation with Ahlam’s horrific imprisonment and interrogation. Campbell also provides an excellent primer on how the Middle East’s complex history has contributed to the area’s strife. This is an important, chilling book that explores the ongoing plight of Syria’s citizens and refugees, as well as the perilous struggles of the journalists who deliver their stories to the rest of the world.