PositiveBookPageMy Murder engages with a violent subject without gore, and probes how technology infuses our days and engages our attention, often without our awareness. The plot is certainly rich and appealing, but Williams’ layered considerations are even more compelling and yet never heavy-handed.
Katy Simpson Smith
RaveBookPageThe novel moves in quick (and often blurry) shifts between these centuries and women. They mirror parts of each other ... The Weeds requests the reader to observe and look for connections, to question structures and patterns, and to discover new ways of seeing. Each detail is carefully attuned and revealed, and each seed opens at the moment it needs to bloom and stretch. Patience is necessary, but close attention reveals infinite rewards.
RaveBookPageHer prose is alive; each character is rich with complexity and depth, each snapshot brimming with imagery ... Every bit of it is a delight to witness and revel in. The best novels teach us something new and ask us to engage in worlds beyond our own. For me, The Great Reclamation did just that.
PositiveBookPageOdd, haunting, strange ... Through Penny’s eyes, we see the beauty in the seemingly broken, in the flawed stories we tell ourselves—and what happens when those stories delightfully shatter.
PositiveBookPageEmpathy is at the heart of Monica Heisey’s debut novel, Really Good, Actually ... Maggie’s voice is engaging, allowing readers to feel her pain, cringe at her adventures and communication attempts, and root for her to find her footing ... There’s humor and grace in Really Good, Actually—a lightness of touch, a wry wit. Maggie is a woman disembarking from traditional romance to find herself. And while her marriage might have been short, her voice is enduring, and her journey is engaging, surprising and fresh.
RaveBookPageA tremendous narrative voice, one so sharp and fresh as to overwhelm the reader’s senses ... With each choice, Demon’s spirit comes through, and it is haunting. It’s the reason the pages keep turning, as it’s imperative for the reader to find out how he’s going to get out of the latest mess or scrape, how he’s going to find his family and his own story ... Kingsolver has made this story her own, and what a joy it is to slip into this world and inhabit it, even with all its challenges.
RaveBookPageEach chapter shifts focus, showing a bit of a character’s story, a glimpse of an encounter, a fragment of a person trying to exist in a complex world. We even get a fascinating look at characters who work in law enforcement ... s the fragments of the novel coalesce, readers witness interconnection, reverberations and consequences. Patience is required to see this puzzle through to its end, but the long game pays off, and there’s magic in seeing the whole unexpected picture ... There’s also pleasure in how Atkinson seamlessly integrates historical figures and moments into her story ... The history and setting add nuance to Shrines of Gaiety, but Atkinson’s characters and their choices, curiosities and corruptions keep the story unfolding, making the resolution worth every second.
Sarah Addison Allen
PositiveBookPageMagical elements are hewn into the marrow of Other Birds. Ghosts and birds—imagined or real, but all mysterious—guide the meandering cast, allowing opportunities for joyful circumstances ... If you\'re looking for a bit of mystery, whimsical characters and a keen sense of place, Other Birds offers all these delights and more. Allen immerses readers in this island world, as well as in the process of self-discovery, the experiences of being haunted and the gift of surrendering to what we can and cannot control.
RaveBookPageNovels, purporting to be the next necessary heart-wrenching tale of wartime heroism, are seemingly everywhere, but rarely do they live up to expectations.Properties of Thirst defies, dispels and demolishes those expectations and biases in the best way ... Masterful ... Readers won\'t be able to look away ... Wiggins\' writing, which can be fragmented or polished depending on the page, opens up microscopic universes and sprawling landscapes alike. It\'s a joy to read.
PositiveBookPageWe feel our way into the complexities and nuances of the characters\' seemingly impossible choices. Empathy functions differently when examples are iterative, and one of the greatest rewards of reading Brown\'s novel is the ability to engage with a multiplicity of perspectives ... There\'s joy to be found in the struggle, and Any Other Family offers a thoughtful space to experience this truth.
RaveBookPage... a delightful invitation to reunite with Selin ... Selin’s voice is notably more mature, more reflective and perhaps more droll, and yet she’s still true to herself as she tries to figure out who, exactly, that self is and can be ... The 1990s technology is a throwback and a joy, and it’s fascinating to consider the ways that email and the internet have changed and shaped everything in our world, from relationships to travel. There’s humor in the lived experiences of parties, classes, alcohol and sex, and Batuman’s balancing of all these elements is remarkable ... Our present moment will change, and technology will continue to evolve, but undoubtedly Selin’s voice will remain a gem.
RaveBookPageStriking and richly imagined, with a voice that is wholly its own ... Emma and her family are endearing, charming characters to observe. They’re flawed, searching and struggling to be seen. Although Unlikely Animals deals with many issues—aging parents, the opioid epidemic, life in rural New England, family dreams and pressures—it does so with intention and care, never heavy-handedness. The magic of Hartnett’s novel stems from the balance of these weighty topics with the story’s intrinsic playfulness, and in sections that explore the myth and history of Baynes and his domesticated animals.
PositiveBookPageDavis builds a whole world that’s rife with secrets and stories. The novel moves at an engaging pace, with questions waiting to be answered at each turn. Davis knows exactly how to structure a story and how to switch between timelines; even if sometimes you aren’t quite ready to make the jump, you must, in order to find out how it all connects ... A captivating story whose characters are richly drawn, The Magnolia Palace pays particular attention to those who might go unnoticed ... We discover their private lives and public exposures, which reveal the daily messiness of human lives, the construction of the self and the truths we try so hard to hide.
Jean Chen Ho
RaveBookPageThe decision to differentiate the two Taiwanese American women’s sections in this way becomes increasingly interesting and important as the story progresses. In fact, it becomes evident that this structure is essential to how the story must be told ... Time is a fascinating factor in the novel as well. The narrative unfurls in the present while moving the reader into snippets of backstory, filling in gaps at just the right moments. Ho also moves us through and across physical and cultural landscapes, revealing how a person can feel both resonance with and distance from one’s community and self ... Ho\'s characters do the most compelling work ... By the book’s end, readers will feel as though they carry some part of these women with them, as if Fiona and Jane are our friends, as if their stories might yet overlap with our own.
PositiveBookPageThe novel shifts easily in time and space, but even more interesting is the way that it functions as a story of environment and species ... Shafak’s novel, particularly in the meditative moments when the fig tree speaks, asks readers to see beyond themselves, to consider cultures and conflicts that are not their own, to see how each action ripples.
RaveBookPageOzeki’s brilliance is to never let Annabelle’s pile overwhelm the reader, offering glimpses of it only through Annabelle’s and Benny’s eyes, who in their grief often have trouble registering the tangible reality around them. ... Ozeki’s prose is magnetic as she draws readers along, teasing out an ethereal and haunting quality through an additional narrator: that of a sentient Book, who speaks with Benny and helps to tell his story. The Book’s observations are beyond a human’s scope, with a universal objectivity blooming from a communication matrix among all books, like a mycelial network ... Benny and Annabelle are characters you’ll never stop rooting for. They’re worthy of readers’ love as Ozeki meditates on the nature of objects, compassion and everyday beauty. After reading, you’ll be eager for this book to find its way into other readers’ hands.
RaveBookPage[A] slim, wry novel ... Precise and distanced, beautifully rendered and sparse, Williams’ prose is fascinating, her voice captivating. The sentences are at once clear and mysterious. The descriptions of this world, one that is not quite ours but close, are striking. The dialogue is haunting and engaging. Harrow creeps into your world. I finished the novel in two sittings and spent days trying to make sense of all that it offers, noticing water and land through a different lens, imagining the possibilities when we believe in the greatness that others see in us, and what happens when we choose not to.
RaveBookPageWhile the plot of The Vixen is rich and surprising, Simon’s narrative voice carries the novel ... In each moment, Prose evokes a sense of place that feels crucial to Simon’s process of discovery. This is, in many ways, a novel of New York in a particular moment ... doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s a lot of fun to read. Prose is a master of language, and her captivating words are all the more striking in contrast to the novel’s intentional profanity. Good fiction entertains and asks questions, gesturing to truths beyond the novel itself. The Vixen does just that, with an extra note of fun.
RaveBookPage... this propulsive story, narrated by a strong, young voice, is one of the most memorable and moving novels I have read in recent months ... Readers will root for Miriam as she finds her sense of self. She’s a fascinating character, and her transformation over the course of the story is impressive, especially as violence upends and reverberates throughout her world ... The plot and characters of Revival Season are remarkably well rendered, but West’s language is especially compelling, pulling readers into Miriam’s most defining moments. The sentences are downright musical, and each chapter paints a picture, leaving the reader eager for all that awaits.
PositiveBookPageWhat happens to our secrets after death? What do we do when we discover things we never imagined—about ourselves, our families or the stories we tell to make sense of the world? These questions drive Claire Fuller’s engaging Unsettled Ground ... Even the title opens up questions, about what it means to settle or to remain unsettled, and about the nature of home and how one is made. The story exists on ground that has been disturbed by secrets and money, by the need for both independence and connection—and that ground continues to shift underfoot as the novel progresses. Readers will root for Jeanie and Julius to survive and, even more than that, to live.
RaveBookPageThe story of a bold, strong Dakhóta woman named Rosalie Iron Wing unfolds in captivating ways ... The women in Rosalie’s family and family-by-choice are fascinating, and each offers her own perspective on both the story and the setting in which it unfolds, adding depth to our understanding of Rosalie and the complexities of her character. It’s a rich tale of trauma and choice, history and meaning-making ... The contrast between how white colonizers use the land and Native Americans care for it viscerally demonstrates the inextricable connection between the earth and the people who love it ... the writing sings in compact, careful sentences, lending a timelessness to the narrative and making it clear that this compelling story is not just about these characters but also about culture, landscape and how we can—and often cannot—understand each other. Haunting and beautiful, the seeds and words of this novel will find their way into your world, however far from the Dakhóta lands that might be.
RaveBookPageThe novel only gets better...transforming into a family saga that spans from 1970 to 2018 ... Through it all, the secrets, desires and fears of Muneer, Saeedah and their daughter compose a complex picture of how society and the individual shape and inform each other ... Structurally and syntactically, Bride of the Sea is a gem. The shift from the opening in 2018 to the events in 1970 is abrupt, and these moments fuse again as the novel concludes. Quotah structures these connections to maintain the reader’s sense of wonder, to keep you reading through the loop as you learn of each character’s identity and fate, their secrets and stories.
PositiveBookPage\"Loedel’s prose is clean, tight and engaging, with a rhythm that invites you to keep reading and to see where the story goes and what sense you can make of it. Most interesting, perhaps, are the questions posed: What does it mean to be a hero or to be complicit in a dangerous regime? What choices do we really have? Who are we, and who did we imagine we would become?
Even as the novel invites questions and focuses on language rather than answers, the reader won’t be able to look away. They will bear witness to human choice and compunction, to love and loss, to the fantasy that helps make sense of what is real.\
RaveBookPage... weaves a remarkable tale across centuries, landscapes and human lives ... Each story is rich with characters, ideas and keenly imagined moments. The points of connection, however, are what make the text compelling and open to so much discovery ... As characters, objects and phrases appear and reappear, time blends, and the questions of what makes us who we are, how our choices impact our futures and how other people perceive us become central to the telling ... The prose is engaging, asking you to keep up as the story jumps from ending to beginning, tangling time and stretching the edge of what a narrative can do. There’s a tension between wanting to read quickly, to let yourself be absorbed in this fantastical and real world, or slowing down to allow each story to breathe. The beauty here is the multiplicity of the reading experiences, of the chance to do both, as each iteration of the novel asks different questions and demands a different mode of attention from the reader.
RaveBookPageIt isn’t a mystery, yet in many ways, Jill McCorkle’s Hieroglyphics builds like one as characters appear, slowly reveal more of their pasts and secrets and eventually expose their connections and how the story fits together. Overlapping memories—of the things one tries to bury or make sense of—create layers of meaning for the characters and their children, whose voices compose the story with a range of experiences and perspectives. The prose is magnetic, drawing you in and holding your attention as questions slowly turn into answers ... As the parental figures struggle with their histories, choices and actions, it is through the lens of the children that these secrets find power and meaning. This echo, this sense of connectedness, of how we care for and hurt each other, gives the novel a clear resonance.
RaveBookPage... richly told ... Bakopoulos’ prose is descriptive, full of images and details, and yet some sentences are so clear and axiomatic that the reader may need to pause and think, recognizing truths they’ve always known. In a certain way, reading Scorpionfish is a rereading, a remarkable recognition of how language can work, how grief and love and loss can be so particular, so meaningful, so universal—and how words can make those resonances propulsive and haunting.
RaveBookPageDaisy Johnson’s control of language keeps the reader utterly engaged in her new novel ... The novel raises many questions, and even as it poses some answers through July and September’s story, many other curiosities—delightfully—remain ... Sisters casts a spell, and Johnson’s ability to make her language twist and turn, to hint and suggest at something much larger, is truly remarkable.
Quế Mai Phan Nguyễn
PositiveBookPage... fascinating ... Quế Mai is an acclaimed Vietnamese poet, and her vivid images, along with the simplicity of her prose, make the novel propulsive and haunting in its depiction of a deep, nuanced landscape ... While many recent novels from authors like Ocean Vuong and Viet Thanh Nguyen give glimpses of the Vietnamese American experience, The Mountains Sing offers a tale of Vietnamese history through a Vietnamese lens: neighbors caring for and turning against each other, families split apart by war and attempts at reunification on various scales ... Hương and Diệu Lan are remarkably drawn characters. They’re complex, likable, flawed women, and each is searching to connect with family and understand her community and history. Their pain and joy make the novel and landscape sing.