PanThe Washington PostThere haven’t yet been many covid-19-inspired novels—thank goodness—which makes Jodi Picoult’s feat in Wish You Were Here all the more remarkable: She pulls off a pandemic twist that, even after two years of nonstop real-life twists, still manages to bewilder ... There are unreliable narrators—which a discerning reader has at least a shot at detecting—and then there’s this trickery ... By all means, Diana, refocus your life! Pledge to be kinder. Volunteer. Live truthfully and admirably. What doesn’t make sense is suddenly falling out of love with the long-term partner you were, a mere month or two ago, crazy about. But that’s exactly what happens ... Diana’s abrupt turn against Finn felt nonsensical; Picoult didn’t make a compelling case why we should root against him, or against them together.
PositiveThe Washington Post... a very funny debut — and perhaps the most original office satire of the year ... A tense anticipation hums over much of the novel, foreshadowing a big reveal about Mat’s true intentions. The satire itself would have been enough to make the book work; the suspense heightens its stakes and makes it something else entirely ... There’s no way to put The Very Nice Box into, well, a box. It’s a parody that feels like an extended inside joke; it’s a thriller, a romance and a quirky coming-of-age saga. Gleichman and Blackett are trying to make a lot of points: about gender disparities in the workplace; about corporate responsibility; about gentrification. About insidious male toxicity and queer representation. That’s enough for several books, and some plotlines feel rushed, or like too much of a stretch ... But the novel’s witticisms and smart takes help it shine, and its empathetic commentary on grief humanizes it. Ava has closed herself off for years, and watching her open back up is satisfying. Plus, who can resist a novel that takes down an entitled man-child in absurdly grand fashion? Very Nice, indeed.
RaveThe Washington Post... an excellent reminder that a familiar trajectory doesn’t erase the fun of the journey ... absorbing and entertaining. Henry isn’t aiming for originality: This is an updated version of When Harry Met Sally, which all these years later still sets the standard for friends who become lovers. She freshens it up with her signature wit, epic near misses and steamy longing that threatens to seep through the page, fogging the reader’s glasses ... Be still, rom-com loving hearts ... The flashback vacations are terrific, vicarious fun, especially as Poppy and Alex evolve from best friends to people who are clearly pining for each other ... Henry masterfully depicts early-30s uncertainty and angst, adding an interesting personal-growth dimension to the story ... If the friends-to-lovers trope is ever in danger of feeling tired, Henry saves it with sassy wordplay. Plus, the connection between Poppy and Alex feels genuine, like the romance next door. It’s easy to imagine yourself in Poppy’s heels or Alex’s khakis, realizing you’ve fallen for your closest friend but wary of the potential costs of making a move ... lacks the pizazz — the special spark — that helped Beach Read shine. It’s not as deep as its predecessor, and more of a \'beach read\' in that it doesn’t demand too much of the reader. But it’s still unabashedly fun.
RaveThe Washington Post... a tonic to anyone who tumbles down this rabbit hole of what-if thinking ... One of the reasons I love to read is because it quiets my mind. I was so engrossed in The Midnight Library that I stopped worrying about deadlines and small annoyances and bigger fears. Even days later, when my mind darted to the would-have, should-have, could-haves, I was able to redirect. Call it the Haig effect: Why squander energy on imagining some other life? It would be different, yes, but that doesn’t mean better ... Maybe you already knew that regret is a waste of time; I hear it constantly. But it’s easier to buy when you recognize that all those other outcomes would have come with their own problems. That’s what Haig so beautifully demonstrates. We tend to romanticize other variations of our lives — we would have no cares in the world, if only we had done this and that differently. Haig’s response: Of course we would. Different packaging; same us. The only thing we truly need to change is the one thing we have complete control over: our outlook.
PositiveThe Washington Post...those who adore him for his reassuring nature and warmth likely aren’t interested in his literary prowess; they’ve come for his stories. And Answer delivers. It’s an amusing and at times sobering series of vignettes — a quickly inhaled highlights reel of Trebek’s life ... The behind-the-scenes intel is fun, especially for longtime fans of the show. But the rare insights into Trebek’s personal life are far more revealing.
RaveThe Washington Post... delivers. Weiner takes a breezy romp through online influencer culture, leveling an \'I see you\' gaze at the Instagram fake-it-till-you-make-it crowd. It’s deliciously fun: frothy entertainment with surprising depth ... he plot careens into slightly over-the-top whodunit territory, with a splash of steamy romance ... Weiner’s appraisal of Instagram culture, and our fixation with likes and followers, will resonate ... Of course, Weiner isn’t the first to be inspired by our collective fixation with social media. But she stands out as implicitly getting it ... big fun, and then some. It’s empowering and surprising — a reminder to put down the phone and enjoy each moment for what it is, rather than what it could look like on Instagram.
RaveThe Washington Post... delightful ... The family homestead is called the Big House—but what happens inside is so entertaining, the Stricks might as well be gathered under the Big Top ... Straub deftly weaves the various characters’ stories into a slice-of-life plot that builds slowly. The book is wide-ranging, squeezing in commentary on abortion, gender identity, bullying, sexual predators and more. It’s hip and of-the-moment, down to the lingo ... ripe with the kind of juicy gossip perfect for swapping with a favorite sibling via late-night, hushed phone calls. The Strick family is appealing in part because its members are recognizable: Astrid makes a convincing detached mother, and the other family members are familiar in their idiosyncrasies and grudges. Their problems could be – and probably have been—our problems ... deliciously funny and infectiously warm—a clever blend of levity and poignant insights. Straub’s flair for irony and wit shine, and she puts a fresh (and progressive) spin on the age-old multigenerational family saga ... an ideal read for anyone trapped at home with their family while self-isolating. Read it while hiding in your bedroom from the people who are driving you crazy, but who you’d go crazy without.
RaveThe Philadelphia Inquirer... delightful ... so entertaining ... Straub deftly weaves the various characters’ stories into a slice-of-life plot that builds slowly. The book is wide-ranging, squeezing in commentary on abortion, gender identity, bullying, sexual predators, and more. It’s hip and of-the-moment, down to the lingo ... deliciously funny and infectiously warm—a clever blend of levity and poignant insights. Straub’s flair for irony and wit shine, and she puts a fresh (and progressive) spin on the age-old multigenerational family saga. It\'s an ideal read for anyone trapped at home with their family while self-isolating. Read it while hiding in your bedroom from the people who are driving you crazy, but who you\'d go crazy without.
RaveThe Washington PostBrimming with Rippon’s signature sass, Beautiful is an entertaining, unfiltered look at the path to becoming an elite athlete — and it’s not all fun and (Olympic) games ... he shines brightest as he theatrically recounts the times his life was like \'a raging dumpster fire.\' To be clear: Rippon is funny. He lands a joke like it’s a triple axel, with eyebrow-raising, hilarious passages that demand to be read out loud to whomever is nearby ... breezy and chatty, as though Rippon is massaging the script for one of his Instagram stories. He’s a pro at well-placed pop culture references and, where some elite athletes seem otherworldly — made from different stuff — he comes across as the relatable Olympian next door ... Rippon might have gone home from the athletic world’s largest stage with a bronze medal in tow. But this memoir? It’s pure comedic gold.
PositiveThe Washington Post... melodious, dreamy ... an innocent, old-fashioned love story that could have been plucked from a simpler time ... uplifting escapism. What could be a tired plot is instead fresh and sweet, rejuvenated by a set of unusual characters, the raw beauty of England and the musicality of Prior’s prose. Of course, there’s a certain suspension of belief required: Dan’s secluded Harp Barn is almost too fairy tale-like, his peculiarities bordering on the extreme ... Still, Prior’s lyricism feels like a warm song. This is a story that will make you want to take a walk through the woods and collect pebbles from a stream, then go home to dine on plum-jam sandwiches. And maybe, like the old harpist’s mandate, shed a tear and laugh a little.
RaveThe Washington Post... [a] thoroughly likable, introverted, whip-smart titular character ... Perhaps to showcase Nina’s overt millennialism, Waxman tends to overuse capitalization-to-make-a-point ... This Grows Tiresome Quickly. But it is a nit-picky quirk in a feel-good book that shines, one that offers a heroine we can root for from page one. Nina’s fight against chaos—her pleas to be left alone, left to her planning and schedules and quiet—feels authentic ... You will impress at your next dinner party or, who we are kidding, book club meeting, if you spew even a few of the trivia facts Nina hordes in her always-on head.