RaveThe New York Journal of Booksif the reward after reading Inside Story straight through, right up against the clock, is the knowledge that going back to read this uniquely remarkable . . . umm . . . book is the knowledge that it is there to be revisited in fitful bursts with the luxury of skipping, postponing, and doubling back, well, then, the sacrifice in the name of literature is worth the first slogging read. Because gems await ... can, on occasion, read like a more literate edition of People magazine. This is not a criticism. And Inside Story is certainly much more than that, fun though anything People-magazine-like can be. In addition to advice to writers, there is charming commentary on classic literature ... If it is tempting to quote and quote again from Inside Story, it is perhaps because of the riches within. Read this—what the hell—novel in fits and starts. Flip through the pages and find and remember the parts that will most challenge, inspire, delight. Find your own gems within Inside Story and treasure them.
RaveWashington Independent Review of BooksA whodunit isn’t just an effective way to engage readers in a mystery, as Amy Poeppel shows in her entirely charming new novel, Musical Chairs. It’s also a great way to open a rom-com ... Poeppel brings love and humor to her characters’ relationships, as well as betrayal and lies and so many disappointments, professional and personal. And secrets, many of them having been kept for years ... The visuals of Bridget’s house and Edward’s castle are vividly rendered. If readers find themselves feeling the heat and humidity of a sweltering East Coast July, this is no accident. The list of characters is long and defies full summary ... The mysteries unfold over the course of the novel and at a pace that works for all the plot revelations. Poeppel is equally adept at posing and paying off these \'will its\' as she is at sustaining the whodunit throughout her delightful novel.
RaveThe Washington Independent Review of Books... a gold-medal pole vaulter couldn’t clear the highest bar with more grace and assurance than Julia Alvarez does in Afterlife ... Alvarez slowly and succinctly unspools Antonia’s thoughts and feelings. Though not in the first-person, the voice of the narration is Antonia’s. She is a tremendously layered protagonist. The reader comes to know her, her relationship with Sam, with her sisters, with her deceased parents, through Alvarez’s lean and lavish prose ... Through Antonia’s story, Alvarez gives the reader the irresistible opportunity to spend time with big questions ... Alvarez shows us what love can do, and it’s a joyous, heartbreaking, unforgettable sight.
Crissy Van Meter
PositiveThe Washington Independent Review of Books... will inspire a conflicting range of responses ... staccatos across time in disorienting style...And yet, when the sentences come quick and fast and painful, they cut like knives and capture the reader’s attention ... isn’t a novel for readers who savor a plot-driven, forward-moving tale...But there are moments in the story when kindness and grace and forgiveness take over. And they are unforgettably moving.
PositiveWashington Review of BooksThe chapters of The Hidden Things alternate points of view among the main characters. While this technique may seem a bit jarring at first, it ultimately succeeds in making these characters unforgettable. Mason’s skill in crafting plot is matched by her expertise in fashioning dialogue ... The twists and turns of the plot make this a reliably thrilling heist/betrayal/chase saga, but it is the twists and turns of the relationships that elevate The Hidden Things ... The sections in which the focus is on the characters’ thoughts rather than their actions are involving at times and, at other times, frustrating. Characters disappear from the narrative and then come back. This can occasionally render the flow of the story hard to follow. But deeply moving scenes...make these quibbles all but irrelevant ... And the epilogue of The Hidden Things alone makes turning every page along the way well worth the journey.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksWilson’s words in creating this world, and the multiple levels of relationships within it, are succinct and vivid. They are also wonderfully funny ... Lillian’s voice and observations are touching and delicious ... While Lillian stands out, even the secondary characters in Nothing to See Here are given full due. This adds so much to the novel’s complete ability to absorb the reader in the very high stakes of this strange situation, one that carries a constant, terrifyingly ominous undertone of what on earth will happen to these poor children ... This is a story that is so absorbing and told so briskly it can be devoured in one or two lengthy sittings. It is well worth clearing one’s schedule to do so.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"Replete with humor, anger, sadness, joy, Rock Needs River is a chronicle of relationships ... In stories from her childhood and early adulthood, McGrady writes lovingly of her divorced parents, and also acknowledges that she received negative messages about marriage, messages that left her with few tools to navigate a marriage of her own ... [McGrady] is ceaselessly generous and courageous in giving voice and tone and texture to each of the main people in this story. This is a book about McGrady’s abiding devotion to her daughter, “the greatest love of my life,” and, as such, is a joyous journey to experience with her.\
RaveNew York Journal of Books\"... wonderful ... Throughout Dreyer’s English, the text in the footnotes is as captivating as in the body of the book ... Indeed, readers will not want to skim past a moment of this book ... One can only hope Dreyer had as much fun writing his own fucking book as his audience has reading it. One suspects he did. There is a conversational tone throughout the book that never ceases to convey the author’s appreciation and enthusiasm for the art of writing ... Dreyer’s English is a keeper; it can and should be referred to again and again so that the lessons, as with all good learning, become second nature ... Add Dreyer’s English to The Elements of Style and a select few books no writer should be without ... This is not a book to be missed. By anyone.\