RaveUSA Today... as this quirky story unfolds and its collection of misfit characters emerge, Anxious People gradually becomes truer than life itself ... Backman is a master of writing delightful, insightful, soulful, character-driven narratives ... With Backman, as with life, there’s always a more compelling backstory, more heartbreaking and heartwarming secrets ... If the first two remarkable, laugh-out-loud pages don’t hook you, read no further. If the first 100 pages feel like you’re waiting for Godot inside an Ikea (they dwell on the annoying Zara, so…), keep reading. You won’t regret it ... Backman writes so humorously and poignantly about life, marriage, parenthood, love and death, prepare to be taken hostage by a stand-up philosopher/novelist who reminds us we are all \'idiots\' because being human is \'idiotically difficult\' ... Anxious People is about how kindness and compassion count so much in surviving each day — a lesson for our times.
RaveUSA Today... one captivating page after another, two steps forward and one backward, in this deep and textured classic-rock tale ... This novel is more grounded than Mitchell’s most fantastical work: The fictional band Utopia Avenue gets its shaky start in London’s rough-and-rowdy club circuit just as rock music is exploding with originality and creativity ... Mitchell marvelously brings it all to life by focusing his most engaging storytelling on each band member’s own evolution, along with some experimental narrative and exceptional in-concert scenes. Each song-titled chapter continues the personal trajectory of one band member; song lyrics provide further insight ... addictive reading ... For readers too young (like the author himself) to know firsthand, and for those old enough to remember or forget, Mitchell masterfully captures the spirit of the times and the tenor of its music. Utopia Avenue is a fun and fulfilling read — a 592-page rock ‘n’ roll road trip whose characters and narrative become the song that gets stuck in your head.
PositiveUSA TodaySligar exposes the eccentric Miranda’s depression and insanity in unfiltered, uncensored and graphic detail, especially in the diary – including Miranda’s psychiatric hospital stay, her postpartum psychosis and her abusive marriage. Reading it is painful. Yet these are some of the novel’s strongest pages ... But other than Kate’s unhealthy obsession with Miranda, her paranoia, bad decisions and romantic interest in Theo don’t seem as troubling as perhaps they should. Still, our heroine’s mental reliability remains in doubt throughout ... Not actually a murder mystery, or a suspense thriller, Take Me Apart is a low-intensity psychological drama – a reading experience like peeling an onion layer by layer. Clearly a rising new novelist, Sligar writes narrative that’s more absorbing than compelling: You can put this book down, just not for long.
PositiveUSA Today... engagingly original ... [a] multilayered mystery that brims with duplicity, betrayal and revenge – all bubbling slowly to the surface in increasingly bloody pages ... Fans won’t be disappointed ... Swanson plants clues and misdirections throughout. Not only does he make many literary references, he analyzes the perfect murders’ storylines. While he’s spinning this compelling murder story that will keep you on edge and guessing, he’s also spoiling those eight classics for anyone who hasn’t read them. Swanson warns readers up front ... Some mystery lovers will savor how slow the suspense builds with Mal’s no-hurry, low-adrenaline narrative. Others, not so much. This is a cerebral mystery, more dialogue than action. Although the twisted finale isn’t all that unexpected or climactic, when it comes to perfect murders, it’s the process that matters, not so much the end, right?
Michael Crichton and Daniel H. Wilson
PositiveUSA TodayWhile Crichton’s method-writing imprint is all over this book, Wilson adapts his own tricks to the \'Crichton voice\' to create another compelling chronicle of imminent existential catastrophe ... The novel’s characters are intriguing if not deep personas ... as the story gains momentum, Wilson’s cast of diverse characters engage the head and heart as they struggle to save humanity, yet remain quite human – for better and for worse ... Too many skimworthy scientific details and documents are meant not to entertain or inform, but to build a veneer of authenticity, which occasionally detracts from the intensifying narrative. Two-thirds of the way into the book, readers know who the villain is and what the anomaly is. What remains is the how and why ... explodes with an unexpected, gripping, cinematic finale, ready-made. Crichton and techno-thriller fans will be entertained, if not awed.
RaveUSA Today... triggers an unsettling buzz inside your brain that lasts long after the last page ... Kavenna cleverly combines dark humor and Pynchonesque storytelling in this insightful, unsettling look at how technology impacts our lives. With philosophical underpinnings (determinism versus free will), she crowds this tale with imaginative real and virtual characters, offering hope against techno-tyranny ... a crazy, convoluted plot that’s riveting and relevant ... Kavenna has skillfully made our present feel like dystopian fiction.
John Le Carre
PositiveUSA TodayBadminton’s not exactly babe-seducing, fast-car chasing James Bond, is it? While this novel has high-wire moments, le Carré doesn’t do Goldfinger. Rather, Nat’s first-person narrative heats up more like Earl Grey steeping – to be savored, not stirred ... a throwback to le Carré ’s first two novels starring another retired spy, George Smiley, the author’s most famous recurring character. Though unlike those Cold War settings, this novel\'s crises and controversies are clear and present ... While Agent Running in the Field isn’t a breathtaking thriller, it is a breathing and alive contemporary tale. Le Carré’s storytelling genius frequently causes pause to consider what a pleasure it is to read him, right up to the novel’s thought-provoking, albeit anticlimactic ending.
J. Ryan Stradal
RaveUSA Today... delightfully intoxicating ... Throughout the many plot twists, Stradal perfectly ferments sediment and sentiment ... While Stradal skillfully insinuates you into small-town Minnesota life, he also takes you into a fascinating insider backstory of the rise of the craft beer industry in America over the past few decades. Yes, you can see the plot trajectory brewing, especially when never-tasted-a-beer grandmother Edith lends a hand at Diana’s brewery and brings along her grandmotherly friends. But allowing this story to age slowly is a pleasure ... Stradal is an understated storyteller whose American voice and quaint, ambling prose reads like it would feel at home in A Prairie Home Companion or A River Runs Through It. Raised in Minnesota and now living in Los Angeles, Stradal clearly knows Midwestern women, and his sensitively crafted portrayals read authentic and come from the heart ... This hopped-up story will make your smile with its droll humor, and its poignant moments will stop you to reread and confirm that they are really that good.
PositiveUSA TodayBefore you even starting rooting for Cari, you already have fallen for her. Meanwhile, weirdness awaits on nearly every page. Rented for movie productions, the mansion is filled with leftover monster mannequins and porno props. Thoughts of sex with corpses come up more than once. A deadly creature lurks beneath the patio. Lowlifes incapable of morality or remorse populate these pages ... Harris writes in cinematic takes and doesn’t waste words. A former Associated Press crime beat reporter, Harris is a meticulous researcher with eye for wicked detail ... If nightmares aren’t your dream come true, Harris’ latest literary madness may not be your plate of kidneys and liver. But it’s a good, fiendish read.
RaveUSA TODAYIn this insightful, touching, personal saga of the happiness and heartaches that shaped Bush into one of this nation’s most formidable first ladies, Page makes a compelling case that behind the trademark white hair, string of pearls and sharp wit was one of the most powerful, overlooked and under-appreciated women of our times ... the author never loses sight of what matters more than the political story that brands the Bush family ... exceptionally readable ... unlike any you will read for the next 34 years.
PositiveUSA Today\"... [a] disturbing and, yes, addictive epic tale ... Winslow is a true-crime writer skilled at creating deep and compelling characters ... But, occasionally, [Winslow\'s] storytelling gets pulpy
RaveUSA Today\"From its beginning to its final line (\'It’s what you fail to imagine that kills you\'), Michael Lewis reveals so much, and writes so insightfully, as he tackles what would seem to be the most mundane of his many magnificent investigations. The federal bureaucracy? But, instead of dull and wonkish, his new book is a spellbinding, alarming analysis of the most serious threats to Americans’ safety happening now from inside the U.S. government. And, Lewis nails the most catastrophic threat to your continued existence ... The book is a brilliant indictment of Trump and his appointees’ foolhardy ignorance of what federal agencies actually do and how.\
MixedUSA Today\"Freed to fabricate, Frey gets some things right in Katerina. He can write a convincing, voluptuous, sassy woman who’s irresistible until you wonder what Katerina sees in Jay. He can create an anti-hero protagonist who toggles between likable and insufferable. And he knows the City of Light firsthand, layering in a nice Parisian backdrop ... But Frey’s frenzied style causes plotus interruptus often in this sensually fiery tale. Frey fans might love it, but his stream-of-consciousness, run-on sentences, disjointed prose, broken grammar and word repetition is ponderous and wears you down ... In the end, Katerina reads like Frey’s latest foray into himself, even something of mea culpa for the memoir that earned him infamy and fortune.\
RaveUSA Today\"...the native New Yorker adeptly transforms the ancient Irish Cuchulain-and-Emer legend of star-crossed lovers into a postmodern fable, lovingly grounded in New York City ... Duchovny mostly keeps his loosey-goosey storytelling rolling with zany characters and playful wit worthy of Tom Robbins and recent Thomas Pynchon. He writes Emer so genuinely that readers will either fall for her, or identify with her, or both. For lovers of myth, for lucid dreamers, and for passionate readers willing to suspend belief to embrace an enchanting tale of crazy love, this is a rollicking underground ride.\
RaveUSA Today\"...reading Rachman is simply de rigueur if you appreciate literary fiction’s brightest, newest voices ... Rachman’s narrative is rich with wordplay, clever dialogue and subtle insights. His plot twists blindside you. And, his ensemble of lovable, misfit characters are unforgettable.\
James Patterson & Alex Abramovich
PositiveUSA Today...as ‘ripped from the headlines’ as it gets … Combining in-depth, investigative reporting and fresh interviews, the authors effectively tabloid-proof this shocking, celebrity-driven story by lining up the facts and labeling rumors. And while the matter-of-fact narrative’s Dragnet vibe might drone on at times, and too many of the short chapters ending with cliffhangers feel like a cable-TV series in the making, Patterson fans will be delighted. True to his 375-million-books-sold-worldwide, page-turning style, this disturbing true-crime thriller is another fast and captivating Patterson read.
PositiveUSA TodayIn his new book, Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery, astronaut Scott Kelly chronicles his life and his record-setting 340 days in space in 2015-2016 aboard the International Space Station (ISS) ... All space-travel challenges don’t take place up there: Kelly writes of the effects on his marriage and family ... Kelly’s account is insightful, at times humorous, heart-tugging at others. And it’s inspiring enough to change the life of some lost kid, just like The Right Stuff did for him.
RaveUSA TodayPynchon's latest detective caper revolves around the picaresque adventures of Maxine Tarnow, young Jewish Upper West Side mother of two elementary-school boys, sort of divorced from her ex. She is a wisecracking, fearless beauty who runs her own uncertified anti-fraud agency and carries a purse heavy with a Beretta … The Internet is a core character, too, from the underground Deep Web where online criminals hang, to the brilliant DeepArcher (think ‘departure’) alternative-reality, to alpha hackers who think that destroying the Internet means saving humanity … He remarkably handles that disturbing day of Sept. 11, tilting the story and everyone in it, stunning the reader into an alternative strange-times reality where Pynchon comfortably dwells. Yet he spends no more than a couple of pages on the actual attacks, reflecting instead on its effect on his characters.
PositiveUSA TodayThis book is a fine piece of investigative journalism, but don’t get your hopes up for a true-crime read. Nothing about Grimes’ arrest was true; nothing about his trial and conviction were true. That’s the book’s point: Wrong convictions happen ... At times, the momentum of Rachlin’s otherwise compelling storytelling bogs down with inordinate detailing and reads a little too much like tedious courtroom transcripts. His realistic picture of Grimes’ tormenting prison years is intriguing until mundane minutiae overburdens the narrative ... By its end, Ghost of the Innocent Man becomes a gripping legal-thriller mystery ... This empathetic book tells the story of the beginnings of the movement to right a national crisis of wrongful convictions — and of one of its first victories.
RaveUSA TodayFew novels set up an engaging plot as fast as this one. In the first three pages, Cline cleverly lures readers into the crux of the story … In its charmingly odd manner, this is Willy Wonka meets The Matrix. Wade Watts, a nerdy computer-wiz high-schooler living in Oklahoma City's ‘stacks’ (ghettos), is the story's narrator and unlikely hero determined to win Halliday's contest...As the contest's front-runner, he gains instant global respect, new friends and deadly enemies … OASIS brims with '80s references, icons, trivia and nostalgia — Pac-man, WarGames, Zork, Duran Duran, AC/DC, Rush, Star Wars, Star Trek, Blade Runner, Dungeons & Dragons, anime. So does the entire novel, which in its quirky way is fun.
RaveUSA Today\"Don Winslow’s intoxicating new crime thriller, The Force, is a riveting ride-along with the Manhattan North Special Task Force ... Malone’s not a murdering racist, he’s a murdering realist. In the end, squeezed by the Feds, this dirty hero cop is disturbing proof, Winslow makes clear, that graft and corruption leak down to the street from the highest levels of a broken justice system. As in The Cartel, a poignant non-fiction baseline threads through this novel, leaving readers to wonder how much of it is tragically true. That’s what Don Winslow does.\
RaveUSA TodayMichael Crichton has come roaring back with an engaging, bookmark-biting historical thriller about one of his favorite subjects — dinosaurs ... Crichton thrives on stirring up historical and fictional events and characters, and that’s what makes this novel so rich. Besides real-life Cope and Marsh, a wonderfully rendered Wyatt Earp and brother Morgan ride into town; Robert Louis Stevenson makes a cameo, and so do some of the West’s most notorious outlaws. Through all the peril and suspense, readers will especially savor the dramatic changes in Johnson’s character as he grows quickly from snotty, immature jerk to hardened, heroic man. Dragon Teeth isn’t 'literary' fiction. Plain and simple, it’s Crichton fiction — a fun, suspenseful, entertaining, well-told tale filled with plot twists, false leads and lurking danger in every cliffhanging chapter.
RaveUSA TodayGrann’s no-frills narrative allows the facts to do the talking and the peril and body count that escalate page-by-page to create the suspense ... A talented storyteller, Grann knows how to make distant times and crimes feel present and personal.
PositiveUSA TodayNeed a sanctuary book right about now? Maybe a retro escapist read about simpler times that lets you laugh out loud, not overthink, indulge in nostalgia? Well, here you go ... Throughout this charming adventure, Rekulak injects ‘80s references — everything from RC Cola, Hall and Oates and Spuds MacKenzie, to CompuServe, Bernhard Goetz, and Bugle Boy pants, not to mention plenty of ‘80s geek talk. But it all serves the setting without being overdone or gratuitous. In fact, the novel’s ‘80s allure, as well as its adolescent energy and strong characters, is reminiscent of Ernest Cline’s 2011 teenage sci-fi romp Ready Player One, as well as the current Netflix series Stranger Things (without the Stranger part). And the vibe of Billy’s narrative borrows from great voice-overs in classics such as The Wonder Years and A Christmas Story. Pretty good company for a pretty good novel.
RaveUSA TodayA multi-layered, multi-generational mini-epic ... Something of a Boy Scout soap opera, Butler’s novel reinforces the relevance of the Scout motto 'Be Prepared,' certainly for readers, as it evolves into next generations. In the end, the sad but inspirational chapters about Trevor’s widow, Rachel, and their son, Thomas, make all the agonies of Camp Chippewa and the Boy Scout motto meaningful. Butler delves into a dark, Midwestern, middle-class suburban mentality in the same neighborhood as John Cheever’s Shady Hill and Richard Yates's Revolutionary Hill Estates.
RaveUSA TodayLewis is gifted at making scientific and financial jigsaw puzzles fit together easily. But, as Tversky and Kahneman are dismantling conventional economic theory later in the book, it’s slow going ... A lot of thinking goes on in this book, electrifying thinking that will raise doubts about how you personally perceive reality. Not one of the most effortless books you’ll read, this may be one of the best.
MixedUSA TodayFor whatever reasons, Kidder shortchanges parts of English’s personal story, particularly his first marriage. But his robust reporting creates a powerful and insightful tale that makes the Internet era entertaining, and defines English as an endearing, generous and eccentric geek.
PositiveUSA TodayHe presents that intriguing case in his inimitable, casual-chatty, captivating storytelling style. His trademark rich reporting is unmistakable throughout ... Sure, Wolfe-ish annoyances persist. Too-many repeated words and slam-bang semantics ... Still, he brings to this academic debate the same irreverence and entertaining quality that lit up Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
PanUSA TodayIn the end, this book is no contribution to 'social history,' as Foos and Talese suggest. It is, at best, a lewd and licentious footnote to Talese’s Thy Neighbor’s Wife. Foos is nothing more than an arrogant, delusional jerk who believes his years of illegal activity have value, and mistakes his attic as moral high ground. The sad upshot: Foos and Talese are lurking kindred spirits. And Talese’s journalistic rational for writing this book sounds pathetically like saying you buy Playboy for the articles.
RaveUSA TodayWhile the literary air is heavy with insight into death and dying, sins and forgiveness, family and fatherhood, love and sex, Duchovny’s compelling narrative and clever dialogue make it feel weightless, even uplifting ... Not a baseball book any more than Field of Dreams is a baseball book, this moving, beautiful novel resonates with laughter and tears throughout. It will make you want to see your father, have a catch, or a conversation — or wish you could.
MixedUSA TodayAll of which is to say that reading Byson’s latest as a travelogue is misdirected. You do learn about the land, the people, the paces, the history, the journey. But what Bryson does best is simply to dress up travel literature in a weather-proof cloak of remarkable entertainment.