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.