RaveShelf Awareness... sets itself apart from the literary thriller pack thanks to its highly original premise and empathetic range ... O\'Connor once again plumbs the depths of trauma with careful attention to psychological detail ... O\'Connor excels at sympathetically depicting the extremes of human thought, building careful psychological portraits of characters yearning for something like transcendence ... O\'Connor takes care not to paint anyone as an uncomplicated villain, an approach that pays off as the novel becomes a reflection on forgiveness, letting go of the past and healing ... While it builds to a suitably harrowing climax, Zero Zone quickly reveals itself to be a meditation on art in the body of a thriller.
RaveShelf Awareness... a characteristically thorough and impressively researched account ... While delving into the weeds of political compromise and legislation, Nasaw never loses sight of the hopes and struggles of the people at the center. Nasaw captures the stories of dozens of DPs and their families, and provides a vibrant account of the displaced persons camps\' transformation into mini-nations with their own schools, houses of worship and complex politics ... showcases Nasaw\'s deft handling of complexity--not only the number of global controversies that the Displaced Persons issue fed into, but the morally complex issues of collaboration ... becomes an account of new beginnings, sometimes for people who didn\'t deserve them.
PositiveShelf Awareness... an intriguing entry in the lengthy tradition of first-contact stories ... the novel goes in surprising direction ... Perhaps because Cora is young and somewhat cheeky, the novel sometimes takes on a lightly comic tone, filled with sarcasm and nerdy Easter eggs. And Ellis doesn\'t stint on the 2007-specific jokes ... This can make for a pleasantly breezy read, even given apocalyptically high stakes. At the same time, Ellis geeks out over every detail of the aliens\' physiology, culture, history, even the structure of their language, providing an imaginative and coherent picture of alien society. At its core, Axiom\'s End is warm-hearted, even—very cautiously—optimistic, more Carl Sagan\'s Contact than War of the Worlds.
RaveShelf Awareness... deranged, electrifyingly fun ... every bit as wild and weird as its delightful predecessor ... Harrow the Ninth carries over all the strengths of its predecessor, in other words, including the verbal sparring and ever-entertaining insults ... delves even deeper into the vulnerabilities of Muir\'s damaged characters, whose posturing can\'t hide their hang-ups and death wishes and terrible regrets. Few books can be this funny, sad and romantic all at the same time.
PositiveShelf AwarenessSurvivor Song is an eerily relevant horror novel ... Tremblay excels at short, breathless novels that pack a visceral and emotional punch, and Survivor Song is no exception ... Unsettling parallels aside, Survivor Song is a breakneck, frightening test of what two people can overcome.
PositiveShelf Awareness...an empathetic portrait of a difficult mother-daughter relationship intercut with grief, road trips and queer romance ... In a way, All My Mother\'s Lovers resembles a coming-of-age novel, inasmuch as learning to forgive and accept your parents--and the insecurities they\'ve handed down--is a critical part of growing up ... a raw, emotional book about acceptance and the kind of complicated, messy love that sometimes takes years to comprehend.
Hao Jingfang, trans. by Ken Liu
PositiveShelf Awareness... a science fiction epic that doubles as a work of philosophy--a novel filled with big ideas about art, competing cultures and so much more ... Hao\'s greatest achievement is her incredibly intricate rendering of life on Mars, including both its practical realities and its philosophical underpinnings ... sometimes reminiscent of old-school sci-fi in its reliance on dialogue. Much of the book is made up of lengthy conversations between characters arguing about Mars and what constitutes a healthy society. Hao thankfully avoids the all-too-common habit of making one character her obvious mouthpiece; instead, it\'s often unclear who is right and who is wrong. Even Luoying\'s grandfather, the alleged dictator, is treated sympathetically and given a fully coherent ideology. In Vagabonds, the conflict between Earth and Mars is no more important than the conflict between the novel\'s characters as they struggle to chart a course for their future.
RaveShelf Awareness...an excellent coming-of-age novel that will make you laugh when you least expect it ... Much of the humor in the book comes from these outlandish yet sympathetic characters. Bump has a talent for writing scenes with a combination of absurdity and pathos ... Bump has written a sprawling novel, despite the short length, with sharp bursts of wit that never undermine Claude\'s predicament. Everywhere You Don\'t Belong is a book about the tragic absurdity of growing up in a place that you both love and need to leave.
RaveShelf Awareness... a remarkable account of a distinctive historical moment ... demonstrates that an appetite for violence was stoked and then carefully directed to align with Democratic electoral objectives ... Zucchino\'s account of the terror and violence that accompanied the Wilmington coup unfolds in horrifying detail ... Zucchino emphasizes how what might seem like random violence in fact served practical political aims ... Some of Zucchino\'s most provocative reflections come in the epilogue, where he draws comparisons between the voter suppression methods of the 19th century and the recent efforts of North Carolina\'s Republican politicians to limit black, and therefore Democratic, voting. He also writes about the disputed memories of the coup, still a contentious issue after more than a century. Zucchino never needs to stretch to find connections between the 1898 coup and the present day. The trauma--as well as political and economic consequences--still linger.
PositiveShelf AwarenessThe book frequently serves as a frontline account of events, featuring personal insight into many of the key figures in the transition, and insider accounts of the painstaking, frustrating work of diplomacy as well as agonizing examples of missed opportunities. By immersing the reader in the difficulties of, for example, organizing disaster relief with a sclerotic government, Thant Myint-U hints at how even a mythologized figure like Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi could not produce the miraculous change international observers hoped for ... shows that reforms often fixed the easiest of Burma\'s problems, doing nothing to address the country\'s more fundamental challenges ... For Western observers who may have seen the crackdown on the Rohingya as a shocking reversal of recent trends, this book is a sobering corrective, an account of how the nation arrived at a crisis point and how the international community embraced a hopeful, misleading narrative.
Kiran Millwood Hargrave
PositiveShelf Awareness... a dread-soaked retelling of real events that sets itself apart with an unusual premise and setting ... Besides its basis in history, the premise opens up fascinating questions about how women respond when the patriarchal structures they were born into collapse around them. The Mercies demonstrates faith in women\'s toughness and adaptability, but takes a clear-eyed view of how the old ways violently reassert themselves ... Hargrave does not provide a simplistic feminist parable: prejudice, suspicion and petty grievances set the women against each other almost immediately after the men die ... For all the novel\'s outer grimness, it finds a warm heart in the relationship between Maren and Ursa ... As the promise of a matriarchal society fades and survival once again becomes preeminent, the bond between the two women strengthens. By the novel\'s bloody end, they are the only spark of hope left.
Eliane Brum, Trans. Diane Grosklaus Whitty
PositiveShelf AwarenessThe Collector of Leftover Souls can seem like an idiosyncratic hodge-podge, but therein lies its charm; it contains as much life and oddball personality as Brum\'s subjects. The collection puts particular focus on the victims of so-called progress--the economic modernization that has made Brazil a global player. The stories also showcase Brum\'s lyricism, perhaps a surprising quality for a reporter ... While...not an oral history, the pieces heavily feature quotations from their subjects, the source of many of the collection\'s most devastating, poetic lines ... While Brum does not shy away from the violence and poverty that sometimes overshadow Brazil\'s reputation, her talent is in profiling and humanizing people who are too often treated as an undifferentiated mass. In the process, she honors their pursuit of joy and justice—their everyday insurrections.
RaveShelf AwarenessWhen it comes to epic fantasy, it\'s difficult to imagine a more purely fun read than Gideon the Ninth ... [Muir\'s] debut novel is startlingly confident. She plunges the reader head-first into an unapologetically strange, complex and frequently disgusting universe ruled by powerful necromancers ... Apart from Gideon and Harrowhark\'s relationship, Gideon the Ninth is at its most thrilling in its action scenes. Even veteran fantasy readers can expect to be blown away by Muir\'s sheer creativity, especially in her descriptions of the necromancers at work ... simply one of the best and most original books in recent memory.
RaveShelf AwarenessAmy Waldman\'s follow-up to The Submission is a brilliant novel and one of the most incisive books written about America\'s endless war in Afghanistan ... Because the story takes place in 2008, readers benefit from hindsight in a way that Parveen cannot. Some, for example, might note the similarities between Gideon Crane\'s story and that of Greg Mortenson, the controversial philanthropist and author of Three Cups of Tea ... Waldman not only demonstrates Parveen\'s immense privilege in comparison to the villagers, but fashions a critique of the way narratives can obscure and shape reality ... Parveen is a study in divided loyalties.
PositiveShelf AwarenessGertner is deeply apprehensive about Greenland\'s future, which he convincingly demonstrates is tied to the future of our planet. What his scientific heroes discover is alarming: Greenland\'s ice sheet is rapidly melting. Gertner voices concern for the consequences this will have on rising sea levels, for example, but he also mourns the disappearance of the ice itself. Once thought of as a lifeless desert, Gertner\'s book memorializes the ice sheet\'s beauty and the astounding secrets it continues to hold.
Kira Jane Buxton
RaveShelf AwarenessKira Jane Buxton\'s debut, Hollow Kingdom, offers a unique, oddly hopeful perspective on the end of human civilization ... In its broadest strokes, Hollow Kingdom is an environmentalist parable ... If this all sounds very weighty, it\'s important to emphasize that Hollow Kingdom is an extremely funny, occasionally silly book. The reader will need to possess an appreciation—or, at least, a tolerance—for copious animal puns ... S.T.\'s witty commentary is a highlight of the book, though so frequently profane that it resists quotation. What makes Hollow Kingdom special is the ease with which Buxton offsets heavy themes with humor. At the heart of the novel is an entertaining adventure story ... S.T.\'s relationship with Dennis achieves pathos and an incredibly earned emotional denouement that I would have never predicted at the start of the novel. Hollow Kingdom is a surprising, funny, genre-bending novel, an environmentalist parable crossed with an epic adventure story, difficult to describe and even more difficult to put down.
Orin Starn and Miguel La Serna
PositiveShelf AwarenessThe Shining Path: Love, Madness, and Revolution in the Andes is a gripping history ... One of the most troubling elements of the book is witnessing the transformation of these well-read intellectuals and political agitators into leaders of a savage insurgency. Starn and Serna are careful not to omit the Peruvian military\'s brutal and self-defeating efforts to combat the Shining Path ... The Shining Path\'s greatest strength is demonstrating how good intentions can be buried under dogmatic ideology.
David K. Randall
PositiveShelf AwarenessBlack Death at the Golden Gate: The Race to Save America from the Bubonic Plague provides a fascinating, in-depth look at a little-known episode in American history ... The degree to which racism and poor relations with the Chinese community compromised the response to the plague is a major theme of the book, with Randall tracing the build-up of anti-Chinese sentiment deep into the city\'s past ... While Black Death at the Golden Gate recounts a crisis from our nation\'s past, it carries clear implications for our future. When the next outbreak occurs, we will need to defeat our own worst instincts as well as the disease.
PositiveShelf Awareness... proves that truth does not come from a mere recitation of facts, but from the messy byways of memory and other more unexpected sources ... partially about how the past haunts the present, especially if the root issues go unaddressed. The book is about Mexico, and Torreón, but its lessons are not limited to those localities. Herbert claims that \'this is not the story you were expecting,\' but in many ways it is achingly familiar.
RaveShelf AwarenessDoubles as a family drama and offers potent critiques of the United States\' cold war policies in Africa. Wilkinson\'s narrative skips around in time, adding to the suspense while giving the reader complementary perspectives on her protagonist, Marie Mitchell ... crammed with ideas worth unpacking ... a complex and powerful work.
PositiveShelf AwarenessIn many ways, Golden State is a reflection on contemporary preoccupations about fake news and alternative facts. ... recalls 1984 in its emphasis on surveillance, obsessive record-keeping and bureaucracy, although the sunshine and acres of marijuana fields make Winters\'s vision considerably more attractive ... Winters is an expert at combining social commentary with gripping mystery plots, and the novel never slows down enough to be accused of didacticism. With rich characters, frequent twists and tense set pieces, Winters always nails the hardboiled basics. And even as Ratesic\'s unquestioning faith in his society erodes, it remains a provocative and compelling alternative to the uncertainty that can seem to undergird modern life.
PositiveShelf AwarenessThe novel pushes a relentless pace, with countless well-executed action scenes and an impressive body count ... Zero Sum Game\'s pleasures lie in the protagonist\'s repeated ability to extricate herself from seemingly impossible predicaments, whipping up math-based solutions to gunfights on the fly. In one memorable scene, Russell makes a number of small adjustments, one involving an umbrella, that allow her to eavesdrop on a distant conversation. How? It involves sound waves and, of course, math. In Cas Russell, Huang has created a protagonist with a distinctive hook.
Martin Solares, Trans. by Heather Cleary
RaveShelf Awareness\"...another unpredictable descent into a region of Mexico teetering on the edge of complete lawlessness. It is reminiscent of Don Winslow\'s dark thrillers The Power of the Dog and The Cartel in its emphasis on the miseries wrought by the drug trade, but Solares\'s focus is firmly on the Mexican side of the border ... throughout the book\'s bold narrative choices, Solares maintains a deft touch for suspense. He draws out the threat of violence like a horror maestro until it unleashes in terrible bursts. Solares\'s most frightening ability of all, though, is to give even monstrous characters understandable motivations.\
Roberto Saviano, Trans. by Antony Shugaar
PositiveShelf Awareness\"Saviano and his translator, Antony Shugaar, use the nuances of language to reflect on the culture that produces gangs of violent young boys ... The Piranhas contains scenes of violence that are shocking not just in their ferocity but for the youth and immaturity of the perpetrators. The gangsters of this novel are children who carry out crimes in between rounds of PlayStation ... Saviano paints a portrait of youthful disaffection and misguided priorities, ending in tragedy as daisy chains of violent acts reach their inevitable conclusions.\
RaveShelf AwarenessEmpress succeeds in its mission to impress upon the reader the remarkable character and achievements of Nur Jahan ... According to Lal, Nur has been unfairly blamed for the civil strife that accompanied the latter part of her rule with Jahangir and given little of the credit she deserves. Empress remedies these slanders and oversights while telling an engrossing tale of female power.
Curzio Malaparte, Trans. by Jenny McPhee
RaveShelf AwarenessMalaparte\'s talents as a writer include his acid wit and an eye for detail. In his hands, the higher levels of Soviet society prove just as ridiculous and corrupt as the aristocratic societies of Europe. The tennis matches, affairs, scandals and society gossip that define court life in Europe are conducted in Moscow, however, in a pervasive atmosphere of fear ... Malaparte\'s sense of humor is pitiless, memorably referring to Lenin\'s embalmed corpse as a \'precious crustacean.\' Kremlin Ball is a terrifically funny and entertaining portrait of a seemingly powerful group of people dancing on the brink of destruction.
PositiveShelf Awareness\"What at first seems like an unusual riff on the home invasion thriller evolves into a story that can\'t easily be pigeonholed. Without ruining any of Tremblay\'s nasty surprises, it is safe to say that the four strangers turn out to have very earnest motivations that they believe to involve the fate of the human race. The novel unfolds cinematically, taking place over hours rather than weeks. As harrowing as it may be, however, there is a lot of warmth in its depiction of Eric, Andrew and Wen\'s small family. There is also a surprising amount of dark humor. The Cabin at the End of the World deftly moves between private insecurities and existential terror, poking holes in the flimsy sense of security families rely upon.\
Ethan J Kytle, Blain Roberts
RaveShelf Awareness\"Denmark Vesey\'s Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy is vital to understanding some of the deepest fault lines in American life ... This is an excellent history of the divergent views of slavery that developed in Charleston, S.C., after the Civil War and that have contributed to deep racial divisions in American life.\
Sam J. Miller
PositiveShelf AwarenessBlackfish City...establishes a dystopian world that stands apart in a crowded field ... Blackfish City distinguishes itself by a number of idiosyncratic touches ... In a dystopic future where climate change threatens human survival, a strange \'orcamancer\' might offer the only glimmer of hope for the inhabitants of the floating city of Qaanaaq.
Bob D. Ehrman
PositiveShelf AwarenessHe offers a survey of many centuries of scholarship on the subject, writing about the merits of certain explanations while rejecting others. What emerges in his account is a measured, grounded, but no less astounding tale of a persecuted religion that swept the ancient world with shocking rapidity.
PositiveShelf AwarenessBerwald excels at depicting the wonder and appreciation she has gained for the strange, gelatinous creatures and the ocean that sustains them ... Jellyfish are fascinating in part because there's so much more to find out about them. In Spineless, Berwald demonstrates that our oceans represent a scientific frontier at least as exciting and promising as space, and posits jellyfish as a prime candidate for study and appreciation.
RaveShelf AwarenessIn his new book, Greenblatt focuses on a much older work of literature: the story of Adam and Eve. Greenblatt is clear-eyed about the ways relatively recent scientific discoveries have for many displaced the long-dominant origin story, but he has 'come to understand that the term "lie" is a woefully inadequate description of either the motive or the content of these stories, even at their most fantastical' ... After establishing the origins of the Western world's most impactful origin story, Greenblatt examines the diverse ways the story has been interpreted over time ... Greenblatt excels at showing how a seemingly simple story could inspire ideas that were frequently at odds with each other, or even with their author's own purposes ... The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve seeks to remind us why the story of Adam and Eve had such a powerful impact on Western culture, and even resurrects the story's value for present-day readers without the same theological inclinations.