RaveThe Star Tribune...luminous ... In an effort to expand our view of the South beyond stereotypes, she explores the many aspects of her beloved homeland: lush landscapes, family traditions and histories, and political and religious complexities ... Renkl\'s lyrical prose soars ... I keep this book nearby to revisit the humanity and hope in its pages.
RaveMinneapolis Star Tribune\"[Norris\'s] enthusiasm is infectious, whether for diphthongs, mythology, ancient ruins or the sea ... Norris’ vibrant prose flies off the page, and the breadth of her material set my head spinning at times. Still, she brings it all together with insight and wisdom, giving us an understanding of the \'larger world out there\' and, as she writes, \'different ways of saying things, hearing things, seeing things.\'”
RaveMinneapolis Star Tribune\"Pick up Tim Johnston’s suspenseful novel The Current and you risk finding yourself glued to your chair, eyes to the pages, no thought of attending to daily obligations ... Johnston masterfully intertwines these parallel events with the already complicated lives of three families devastated by tragedy ... Johnston’s elegant, cinematic style takes us into the characters’ lives and history, problems and concerns. The book examines that horrifying moment when everything changes, the before and after when love, friendship, hopes and trust turn into dread, guilt, blame and grief. We care and fear for them as the stakes grow higher, more lethal. A killer is still on the loose.\
RaveThe Minneapolis Star Tribune\"Violet Baumgartner — devoted wife, fiercely overprotective mother and stalwart member of the community — pens her annual Christmas greetings with celebratory flair, but not without due humility ... In her funny...debut novel, Evergreen Tidings From the Baumgartners, Minnesota writer Gretchen Anthony makes good use of Violet’s glowing accolades as a counterpoint to the dysfunctional family’s discord ... Part social farce, part family drama, this openhearted...novel shows an often wrongheaded, annoyingly intrusive but caring matriarch and her family willing to have the difficult, honest conversations needed to work through their misunderstandings and reach harmony.
Harriet Alida Lye
RaveThe StarTribune\"In her atmospheric debut novel The Honey Farm, Toronto writer Harriet Alida Lye stirs the imagination and calls us to attention: Listen to the \'throttling hum of movement\' and \'a hungry, unearthly cringe: the rub of wings as they fly.\' This unnerving sound of swarming bees is not something I’d like to hear while I’m in my garden, but on the page, its suggestion of something sinister compels me to read on and immerse myself in the eerie world of beekeeper Cynthia’s honey farm ... The novel satisfies any curiosity about the social hierarchy of bees while hewing to a dark story line. If the author stumbles, it’s with too many secondary characters, supernumeraries waiting in the wings with little to add to the narrative; and, a small quibble, her overuse of similes. She really doesn’t need them. Her richly detailed prose, vivid imagery and effective pacing combine to make this first novel a memorable one.\
Gregory Blake Smith
RaveThe Minneapolis Star Tribune...[an] exquisite novel ... Neither the book’s expansive scope nor its historical breadth overwhelm the remarkably strong narrative voices that convey the intimacy and immediacy of the life within these pages ... Smith’s vibrant mix of beautiful writing, clarity of voices, flow of history and storytelling, and philosophical reflections had me slowing my pace to stretch out its pleasures.
PositiveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneBerg again shows her gift for creating appealing characters whose lives change in unexpected ways ... While Berg takes some improbable narrative turns, her well-drawn characters hold sway in the novel. Who can resist the kindhearted Arthur ... I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with these lovable people in Berg’s world of unabashed optimism. Sometimes that’s just what’s needed.
PositiveThe Milwaukee Journal SentinelIn his compelling narrative, journalist Genoways gives the reader a kitchen-table view of the vagaries, complexities and frustrations of modern farming, beginning with the 2014 harvest, when the Hammonds were 'wrestling with how to run the farm in the future' ... Insightful and empathetic, Genoways interweaves the family’s personal stories, with the factors impacting their decision making: fluctuating markets; trade deals, the rise of agribusiness and mega farms that affect profit margins; the development and widespread use of genetically modified crops, herbicides and pesticides weighed against potential long-term environmental damage; and the stress heavy irrigation places on water sources, such as the aquifer that supplies groundwater for Nebraska and eight other states from South Dakota to Texas.
RaveThe Milwaukee Journal Sentinel...a smart, funny/sad and unflinchingly honest novel ... Attenberg never takes the humor so far that it undercuts Andrea’s angst, her painful past or her family’s sorrow. In sparkling prose, she brings this wonderful character so fully to life that after the book ended, I found myself wishing Andrea well as if she were a good friend and wondering what she would do next.
PositiveThe Milwaukee Journal SentinelShe brings a keen sense of place to her writing along with personal, cultural, historical and literary explorations ... The book is diverse in its range of subjects: war correspondent Martha Gellhorn’s walks in 1936 war-torn Madrid, an analysis of filmmaker Agnes Varda’s films exploring Paris neighborhoods, an examination of artist Sophie Calle’s work which tests limits and issues of privacy and Elkin’s isolation in a Tokyo high-rise with no place to walk. Richly layered with references to books, art and film, the writing meanders from place to place and time frame to time frame. But as an excursion of discovery, it’s an engaging, often surprising, read about women who knew the 'liberating possibilities of a good walk.'”
MixedThe Milwaukee Journal SentinelWhile essential to the plot, tangential storylines read as separate points along a path to the conclusion, digressions rather than an integral part of the central narrative. What the book suffers is the lack of a strong point of view. Whose story is it? ... Leavitt’s descriptive writing and insights into human frailty stand out in the book’s strongest sections. But these passages are not enough to overcome the novel’s contrived and unconvincing ending.
RaveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneIn his splendid Mad Enchantment: Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies, Ross King brings to life the moving story of the aging artist’s last and most ambitious project ... In his inimitable style, art historian King takes a you-are-there approach to his subject, creating an intimate portrait of the imposing, often ill-tempered artist ... [a] stirring account of the last impressionist.
PositiveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneWhile the novel would benefit from stronger characterizations of Charles and Laurel, Greenidge pulls together the multiple story lines and strong perspectives of Charlotte and Nymphadora with her descriptive powers, lively dialogue and a fluid, engaging style. With this ambitious, compelling novel, she brings an original and thoughtful voice to the exploration of the complexities and ambiguities of race and gender, what it means to be a family, the relationship between humans and wild animals in domestic settings and the failures of communication across cultures and species.
RaveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneWith stirring language and powerful intellect, Dillard shows us what it means to be alive, to feel 'the planet buck under you — rear, kick, and try to throw you — while you hang on to the ring.' Relish the ride, for time is 'pounding at you, time.'
PositiveThe Minneapolis Star TribuneThe novel depicts an increasingly independent woman who also struggles with the loneliness and the physical and emotional toll of the work. With a flourish of literary kindness, Brown gives Lina a satisfying (fictional) love relationship, which she accounts for in her detailed author's comments at the end of the book.