PositiveBooklistThis is a heady read, filled with surprising turns of phrase and unexpected relationships. The deep analysis of game theory—Diofebi left professional poker for writing—will appeal to fans of Michael Kardos’ Bluff (2018). Readers of complex literary fiction will appreciate the sharp and nuanced writing.
PositiveBooklistThis is a sprawling, languid book, constructed from rambling, unhurried paragraphs that take many detours into the nooks and crannies of Rome. Readers who are interested in the Italian experience will find themselves immersed in it, even when the protagonist lacks focus. Gabriele shines most brightly when she is on the hunt for a new clue. Recommended for thoughtful readers who appreciate both the interior and exterior journey.
Laura Imai Messina, Tr. by Lucy Rand
RaveBooklistThe delicate story of Yui’s grief and how she patches herself together is punctuated by small vignettes about Yui and the other people in her life. For readers of Gail Tsukiyama and those healing from loss.
RaveBooklistIdentity theft takes on a new meaning in this fresh and arresting thriller ... the intrigue builds to a satisfying conclusion. Already optioned for film, Andrews’ debut is a page-turning, surprising read that will appeal to fans of Hank Phillippi Ryan’s The First to Lie (2020).
María José Ferrada, tr. Elizabeth Bryer
PositiveBooklistFerrada, an award-winning journalist and author of children’s books, presents an adult debut as haunting as it is charming, a study in contrast between the simplicity of childhood and the heaviness of adulthood. Readers will fly through this slim novel, which is perfect for discussion.
PositiveBooklistThe reader is given some clues to the outcome through news articles and book chapters from the future that allude to the Maple Street Murders. These extra documents add to the rippling tension throughout. Distinguished horror writer Langan...knows how to make that tension pop off the page. A creepy standout for readers who want an extra kick to their suburban dramas.
RaveBooklistThe narrative splits into two; one stays in the present, while the other explores Sephine’s memories ... At times both sharp and haunting, this novel embodies the awkwardness and regret of adolescence, complicated by Sephine’s superior identity as a Divine. A layered and complex debut.
PositiveBooklistDeath truly is \'the center of everything\' in this lyrical, profound novel; Polly herself has survived, while many of her relatives and people close to her have not. While readers may feel at times as if they’re meandering down that long, winding river, Harrison...reels them back in by the end, pulling Polly’s memories together into a surprising ending. Recommended for book clubs and fans of complex, literary fiction.
PositiveBooklist... magnetic ... O’Connor shows how art can affect both its creator and its audience in unexpected ways ... O’Connor dovetails Jess’s perspective with those of the Zero Zone survivors, excavating the truth like an archaeologist unearthing a skeleton. Recommended for fans of Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto (2001).
Sarah McCraw Crow
PositiveBooklistWhile this is a quiet book, readers will soar through the smoothly written prose and empathize with the strong characters. Suggest to those who loved Jennifer Weiner’s Mrs.Everything (2019).
PositiveBooklistPatrons will flock to this delightful and profound novel, which is already optioned for motion picture development. Jared helps readers see favorite films through fresh eyes, reflects on the idiosyncrasies of human life, and even teaches the core elements of screenwriting. Stephenson, a former Pixar writer, elegantly folds these ingredients into a sweet confection for readers of Graeme Simsion and Gail Honeyman.
PositiveBooklistBonner paints a thorough picture of her sister’s short but intense life, searching for the truth of what happened while also attempting to find closure. This lyrical and compelling memoir shows how Atlantis changed both Bonner’s life and the lives of others with her raw talent and electric presence.
Kate Reed Petty
RaveBooklist...[an] innovative, genre-busting debut ...The event’s repercussions ripple out through time, as Petty explores it from various perspectives until revealing a set of shocking truths. Alice gets to tell her side, too, but in a wholly unexpected way. Themes of friendship, abuse, reality, and trauma resonate in this puzzle box of a book, and readers will be unable to put it down until they figure it out.
PositiveBooklist... eerie ... Beukes’ tender, insightful treatment of the relationship between mother and son is significant, and the interplay between feuding sisters is fascinating, as well.
A H Kim
RaveBooklistAs Hannah digs deeper, the novel’s perspective moves between hers and Beth’s, giving the reader an insider view reminiscent of Orange is the New Black (2010). Surprising secrets abound in this fresh and inventive novel. Kim, a Harvard-educated attorney, brings a strong legal background to the intrigue, as well as a tender touch to character development and the interplay of the Min and Lindstrom family members. A standout debut.
PositiveBooklistThere is so much to examine here, from the harrowing experience of new motherhood to the role of a father in an infant’s first days. Amanda’s complex relationship with Deerling, which includes her own mother, is worth noting, too, and a twist midway through the book adds great intensity to the story. But the heart of the novel is Carrie and Amanda’s friendship, with all its sorrow and joy. A perfect selection for book groups.
PositiveBooklistWhile the stories are light on plot, each vignette is highly discussable and written with a deft hand. This slim volume, which includes stories previously published in Tin House, Paris Review, and elsewhere, will appeal to readers of best-of-the-year short story anthologies and fans of Charles Baxter.
RaveBooklistThis fascinating novel examines the many dimensions of war, from the tragedy of loss to the unexpected relationships formed during conflict. The Andamans are a lush and unusual setting, a sacred home to all kinds of cultures and people, and Liu’s...prose is masterful. A good choice for book groups and for readers who are unafraid to be swept away.
PositiveBooklistThis novel doesn’t fit cleanly into any particular genre. Instead, readers will need to construct their own meaning from the narrator’s plight. Prescott’s beguiling debut will appeal to readers who enjoy existential, sparse fiction, like Sayaka Murata’s Convenience Store Woman ... While the ephemeral details wear thin (“As the town disappeared, so did my grip on any particular town truth”), Prescott brilliantly captures the disconcerting effect of a town’s changing storefronts, people, and customs on the newcomer and Ciara, offering stark reflections on the young characters’ search for a sense of definition and permanence. Prescott is off to a strong start.
PositiveBooklistMcGhee uses thoughtful language and rich, meditative imagery to paint a picture of one young woman facing a difficult new path ahead. This book pairs well with Christina McDonald’s The Night Olivia Fell (2019), a thriller version of a similar concept; Jodi Picoult’s A Spark of Light (2018) also explores the gray areas in abortion rights and women’s choices. Like its comparable titles, The Opposite of Fate is a prime book-group choice.
RaveBooklist[Maum\'s] style is infectious—the reader gets an insight on what it’s like to be a real-life working writer, while also feeling close to the author and laughing along with her. This book is invaluable for the serious writer who is dedicated to publication, the rare title that’s both a reference manual and a page-turner. A core choice for public library collections, and a logical next step for budding writers who have consumed Stephen King’s On Writing (2000), Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (1995), and Chuck Wendig’s Damn Fine Story (2017).
PositiveBooklist... an explosive finish. Soule imagines a future in which humans are addicted to this innovation that provides both benefits and danger and explores how the world could change if we could truly see from others’ perspectives. For fans of Blake Crouch and Tal Klein.
PositiveBooklist... a tragic, sweet, and hopeful novel ... Readers won’t feel sorry for him, but will root for him, wanting him to fully blossom into the connected, charming person he truly is. This is a story of healing, with a lot of humor along the way.
PositiveBooklistThere’s something for almost all readers here: family drama, romance, high-school gossip, fantasy-world building. Above all, Gailey shows us that humans are humans, even when they are magic, and they are still flawed, damaged, and oh so interesting.
PositiveBooklistStrawser is a clear master of the craft, drawing together a plot that seems at once impossible and fully believable. The novel’s pulsing anxiety continues through the triple narration from Liza, Molly, and Molly’s husband, Daniel. This is not a straight-up thriller; the multiple domestic subplots and sometimes-leisurely pace may deter some readers. However, the tapestry of story and character will lure book clubs and lovers of emotionally complex fiction.
PositiveBooklistSure to be a hit ... The innovative structure bounces around in time keeping the reader engaged and guessing through the slow-burn beginning as everyone tries to find out where Alice went and who is at fault. Once the pace takes off, the twists come fast. Perks is an author to watch, and this examination of true female friendship will appeal to many.