RaveThe Washington Post... expansive and thought-provoking ... an approach that Orwell himself likely would have approved ... A collection of horticulturally themed Orwell vignettes would be amusing enough, but this is Solnit’s road trip, and with her at the wheel we detour from Orwell to Stalin ... I was halfway through the book before I realized what Solnit had done: She’d written a biography that was actually pleasurable to read ... But in the hands of a skilled novelist or essayist like Solnit, a biography becomes something else entirely. It begins in the middle. It skips the boring bits. It possesses a voice, and a point of view. It is unapologetically incomplete, and trusts the readers to go elsewhere to find out whatever else they might like to know ... takes its place alongside other great non-biography biographies written by acclaimed authors who know how to tell a good story ... Solnit’s prose is so personal and specific that from the first page I wondered what it would be like to have her just whisper the whole thing in my ear. Fortunately, she narrates the audio version herself, and does read it in a kind of breathy, intimate tone that suggests that she’s telling you all her secrets.
PositiveThe Washington PostWith short, breathlessly paced chapters and constantly shifting points of view, Curious Toys is itself like a carnival ride: alternatively dazzling and terrifying, disorienting and marvelous ... Darger’s work also explored themes of sexuality and gender identity, themes that are expanded and amplified in Curious Toys.
RaveThe Washington Post... one of those extraordinary books that will appeal to almost everyone. If you’re a Mary Roach fan, fascinated by the macabre and grotesque, you’ll get to follow Wiltshire into mortuaries and watch her pick apart cadavers. If you’re a Lab Girl fan, inspired by stories of women blazing new trails in science, that’s Wiltshire’s entire career. If you’re a gardener, you will love knowing how often botany has saved the day. And if you’re a crime fiction fan — well, you’ve found your new favorite sleuth.
PositiveThe Star TribuneBarr seems inspired by her new protagonist, writing with particular style and savvy ... The action is classic Barr ... The ultimate villain is unexpected, and the larger scheme a chilling vision of how aging people can lose control over their lives. Will we see more of Rose? Fine by me.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewAn all-out women-driven, queer, transgender, multiracial takeover of the Old West suits the prevailing winds, and that’s exactly what Melissa Lenhardt delivers in her unapologetically badass western, Heresy. ... disguised as a true story, rescued from the dustbin of history and presented to the reader as a collection of diaries, letters, newspaper clippings and W.P.A. oral histories...This storytelling device can be too clever for its own good, but Lenhardt manages to pull it off...Still, if Lenhardt ever writes another one of these, I hope she’ll dispense with the fancy tricks and just give us a good tale.
RaveThe Washington PostWith Lab Girl, Jahren has taken the form of the memoir and done something remarkable with it. She’s made the experience of reading the book mimic her own lived experience in a way that few writers are capable of...
It’s a powerful and disarming way to tell a story, and I admire the craft behind it. Mostly, though, I love this book for its honesty, its hilarity and its brilliant sharp edges. Jahren has some serious literary chops to go along with all that science she gets up to. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
MixedThe Washington Post...new research suggests that plants might have lives beyond our current understanding. Perhaps they are capable of taking deliberate action, just as animals do. It’s a shame that this topic occupies only the last 10 pages of Mabey’s book, because it does more to prove his point than everything that came before, however interesting and entertaining it might have been.