PositiveThe Free Lance-Star... [an] important book ... White does two things especially well to elevate his book above what some readers might consider academic minutia that would appeal only to a limited audience of Lincoln scholars. First, this is not a paean to our 16th president ... White does not dismiss the criticisms and gives them consideration, but through research and a lens of perspective, he is able to diffuse most of the anger and shows quite effectively that even Frederick Douglass, one of the most outspoken critics when Lincoln came into office, became one of Lincoln’s greatest advocates after visiting him in the White House ... The stories of these guests are fleshed out and they are placed in a historical context that is fascinating and informative ... A House Built By Slaves is a \'worthy one\' in the canon of Lincoln scholarship and shows White to be an able and welcome guide in preserving his legacy.
RaveWashington Independent Review of BooksShelter in Place is the novel John Updike would have written about the 2016 presidential election ... As Bruce and Eva’s relationship begins to change, the echoes of Updike, a master at mining the mundane, are loudest. Like Updike, Leavitt injects a welcome degree of humor and diversion into the proceedings via a supporting cast of clever friends ... a brilliant fiction, but the world he portrays is all too real.
RaveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksChristopher Buckley is at his side-splitting funniest in Make Russia Great Again, which includes lines of such pure comedic brilliance that the reader is tempted to stand and applaud like one would for a soloist at the Kennedy Center. This is what Jonathan Swift envisioned when he introduced the world to political satire ... Some might argue that satirizing this presidency is too easy. Any dime-store scribe would be equal to the challenge, but in reading Make Russia Great Again, one realizes that Buckley’s task is complicated by today’s continued lowering of expectations and standards of decency ... Once upon a time, Christopher Buckley became so disillusioned with the machinations of government that he vowed never to write another political satire. That pledge lasted nearly 35 years. Fortunately for us, he has finally stared into the abyss, plunged headfirst back into the immoral morass, and managed to Make Satire Great Again!
MixedWashington Independent Review... there are far better Moore \'starters\' than this bizarre take on the Bard. That being said, fans of Moore and his incomparable wordplay will rejoice at having the jester Pocket of Dog Snogging...return in yet another nutty take on Shakespeare ... In the literary world of Christopher Moore, this is a harbinger of great things to come.
Dennis E. Staples
MixedThe Washington Independent Review of BooksThere is a story worth telling somewhere in This Town Sleeps, but it gets lost amid endless hookups between unlikable characters and a narrative arc that resembles the trajectory of the ball in a game of frat-house Beer Pong played by freshmen pledges one errant bounce away from puking into a nearby potted palm ... Maybe This Town Sleeps aspires to be a book without sympathy: an unflinching look at the pain of reservation life...But in this era of #MeToo, readers may search in a novel like this — filled with off-putting characters — for the tiniest glint of awareness or redemption.Unfortunately, they won’t find it.
RaveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksI encourage a deep dive into A Bitter Feast, even if detective fiction isn’t your typical fare. A feast awaits, and it’s hardly a bitter one ... One of the joys in reading Crombie is relishing the witty details in the hunt for clues ... to dismiss Crombie or detective fiction as anything less than literature obscures the fact that literature can be entertaining despite what you may have been forced to endure in middle-school English ... Crombie fans old and new will rejoice.
RaveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksThis novel is exceptional ... swims to depths of grief unspoken, soars to heights of majesty rarely captured so fully in a novel, and leaps tall buildings in a single bound ... Author Rhys Thomas does a pretty good job of plucking heartstrings like he’s playing While My Guitar Gently Weeps and, in doing so, builds up an enormous reservoir of sympathy for poor Sam.
RaveWashington Independent Review of BooksAngie Kim has created a narrative arc in her debut novel, Miracle Creek, that is unique in the annals of mystery ... Author Kim, an attorney by trade, does the courtroom drama exceptionally well. She brings more nuance to the proceedings than the 15 minutes allotted in a typical Law and Order episode, but manages the police-procedural effect by casting doubt on the assumptions readers made just a few pages earlier ... In the end, Miracle Creek proves to be not so much a whodunit as an existential reflection on the choices people make.
PositiveWashington Independent Review of Books...wildly satisfying and funny ... Buckley places his story in an historical context, so we have some of the early bit players in the colonies making appearances. But the author cannot help but keep close to his satirical roots ... The Judge Hunter is a satisfying romp through America in the 1600s.
RaveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksMoore is a master of metaphor and a sultan of simile and, well, a fine describer of the shriek that finding your boss dead might elicit (even if the mechanics of rushing into a burning building penis-first seem ill-advised). One of the great pleasures in Noir is trying to decipher the myriad comparisons that Moore employs, which are often nonsensical but no less entertaining for the effort ... In keeping with the noir style, there are many divergent plotlines that ultimately have to be tied up, and Moore’s solution — no spoilers here — is unique to the genre.