MixedThe Washington PostReads like a stand-alone ... Readers may find that a character without flaws is the biggest flaw of all.
RaveThe Washington PostThe formula remains the same: Joe meets girl and immediately starts obsessing ... The Joe Goldberg psyche — hopeless romantic who kills in the name of love — will not be new to fans of the series. But what makes For You and Only You stand out is how pitch-perfect Joe’s voice is when he’s \'talking\' to the Wonder who lives in his head ... Joe is an addictively charming antihero, and after four books, he still feels fresh and original. The Shoddies would be so jealous.
RaveThe Washington PostTimely. Relevant. Ripped from the headlines. Matthew Quick’s new novel, We Are the Light, is all the above ... He plunges deeper ... The novel takes the form of letters from Lucas to his Jungian psychoanalyst Karl ... These letters become a sort of diary, a glimmer of hope and a testament to the healing power of art, one of the novel’s major themes ... The challenge of an epistolary book is that the format can be confining, but for such a character-driven novel, it creates intimacy instead of limitations. Lucas proves to be a skilled storyteller, and as he assumes Karl hasn’t left his house since his wife’s funeral, expands the narrative by recounting how other survivors are healing ... It’s been five years since Quick’s last book, but his skill at crafting an engaging narrative around trauma is as strong as ever. When you read Quick, you don’t feel guilty if your tears are mixed with laughter.
RaveThe Washington PostIt will take him a while to learn about mythology — and it’s a wonderful crash course for readers ... the latter half of the book shifts gears to the fast-burn thriller fans will be waiting for ... To describe Elizabeth Hand as a mystery writer is to not have read another Elizabeth Hand book. Over decades, she has proved that she’s eclectic, genre-bending, and comfortable in fantasy and mystery, crime, myth, magic — and more. In Hokuloa Road, she explores the rich and diverse culture and environment of Hawaii — and seamlessly stitches this fascinating material into a girl-gone-missing story. It’s refreshingly and originally creepy.
RaveThe Washington PostTen narrators is a bold choice, and readers will need the who’s who list provided, but when you’re writing your 23rd book, shouldn’t your choices be bold? The gaggle of narrators means that no one has enough page time for deep character development, but what’s there is rich enough to be revelatory, is expertly woven into the present, and the short chapters and changing cast are what turns The Lioness into a bloody sprint of a read ... Set against the backdrop of the Congo Crisis and the Simba rebellion, while also touching on American racism, especially in Hollywood, there are so many reasons the famous group could have been captured, and the unraveling of it all is captivating. But even more so is how a group of such prominent people react when they’ve landed in hell, and the reason behind their reactions ... In his writing, Bohjalian is anything but a kitten. Lesser writers could not tackle 10 narrators, the complexities of racism in America, African politics, violence both foreign and domestic and make the pieces fit seamlessly together. But Bohjalian has shown time and again that with him, you don’t know what you’re going to get, but you know that the getting is good ... With The Lioness, the getting is violently good. Pulled in by the promise of thrills or the guarantee of glamour, readers will stay for the game of survivor(s), and finish the book as satisfied as a fat cat in the Serengeti.
RaveThe Washington PostAlderton’s description of the men one meets on a dating app is hilariously accurate, no matter which side of the pond you’re on ... The interplay of ghosting and theft is also present in the book’s most powerful layer, which deals with an aging parent, slowly losing his mind, becoming a ghost ... Alderton brings her British wit and fresh writing to online dating and all its ups and downs. Marrieds vs. singles. The unfairness of online dating for women stressed about the tick of the biological clock. Add to it the difficulties of becoming a caregiver, and what you have is a book that is a reality check for many and a solace to those who feel like they’re constantly swiping right without meeting Mr. or Ms. Right.
PositiveThe Washington PostIn the mood to contemplate your own mortality? Then Jodi Picoult has the book for you ... In short, if you are looking for comic relief, you are out of luck. But readers don’t pick up Picoult for the LOLs. Instead, they come for the heart-wrenching moral choices, the complicated family dynamics, the deep dive into ethical issues, and, lately, the nonlinear plots ... Picoult weaves us around, at times not clarifying which story line we’re in. Some readers may find the ambiguity frustrating, others may enjoy trying to figure out Dawn’s path ... While there’s ambiguity in the story, there’s none regarding Picoult’s passion for Egyptology. After 26 novels she is a master researcher, but she’s also usually a master of weaving in information without letting it slow the pacing. Not this time. She knows her stuff, but she’s showing readers her 200 best vacation pictures instead of 20. As a result, the history can feel heavier than a sarcophagus ... Picoult, at this point in her career could skillfully build tension in a broom closet, but the best part of this book is not the suspense; it’s the look at the complexity of a woman as she enters middle age ... Picoult always tells both sides of a story not with judgment, but with grace.
PositiveThe Washington Post... a new look at Edward’s internal struggle concerning Bella, along with deep glimpses into his past and his family dynamics, that make him a more complex, and better, character ... The best thing about an Edward Cullen book turns out to be his gift of telepathy, the thoughts of others coming off like the footnotes you never knew you needed ... Yes, the writing is still Twilight writing. If you came for modern and concise, you’re opening the wrong book ... he Edward/Bella power dynamic is still ripe for criticism, as is the depiction of the Quileute characters who don’t get much time in this book, not even Jacob Black. They still come off as stereotypical B-list characters. Meyer said that in writing Midnight Sun she was locked into the original story. But leaving those aspects unchanged adds a staleness to what is in many other ways an entertaining page-turner carried by frisson after frisson, that sexual tension of youth ... So, will team Edward be happy with this book? The original team Edward from 2005 who binged the books and watched all five series-inspired movies that pulled in over $3 billion at the box office? Absolutely. Meyer wrote with her biggest fans in mind, dedicating the book to them, and plunging into the mind of Washington state’s most complicated teenage vampire as he falls for a woman who is more determined than we’ve given her credit for.
RaveThe Washington PostThe scenes during the Games are sharply plotted and move with the same super-speed readers will remember from the series. But it is the third part of the book, which takes the action to District 12, that is the most revelatory in terms of the gradual chipping away of Coryo’s humanity ... One of the delicious qualities of a prequel is that it fills in the blanks. For those who lapped up the trilogy and have been waiting 10 long years for answers, Collins has them ... It’s the pull between Coryo’s head and heart — and the realization that he actually has a beating heart, not just a rose-scented lump of coal — that makes the future President Snow very worthy of a 517-page prequel.
RaveThe Washington PostHibbert’s characters are not perfect. When Red is admiring Chloe’s gorgeous brown skin and plus-sized curves, he’s also noticing the opioid patch she’s wearing for pain. When she’s kissing his rippling muscles, she’s also trying to heal him from the kind of emotional trauma that’s seldom attached to male romantic leads. They are realistically flawed — and hilarious and sexy, their bedroom high jinks scorching enough to make readers dissolve \'like sugar in hot tea\' ... Hibbert joins important voices in contemporary romance (Helen Hoang comes to mind) who write steamy page-turners where the characters look nothing like they did a generation ago — and that’s a wonderful thing. Go ahead and push pause on your own life to get to know Chloe Brown.
RaveThe Washington PostThough she made her mark writing contemporary romance, Moyes proves just as adept at historical fiction, gracefully infusing her story with strong, memorable female characters and a sprinkling of men who can make a \'heart flutter like a clean sheet on a long line.\' The Giver of Stars is a celebration of love, but also of reading, of knowledge, of female friendship, of the beauty of our most rural corners and our enduring American grit: the kind of true grit that can be found in the hills of Kentucky and on the pages of this inspiring book.
PositiveWashington PostWith The Bride Test, Hoang has once again shown readers the importance of representation in literature, while also creating a sexy, compassionate story about the power of love and the enduring American Dream.
PositiveThe Washington Post\"A humorous exploration of family life, finding love and the difficulties of coming into one’s own as a young professional woman, Kinsella has returned to her roots with I Owe You One. Her trademark Brit wit shines through Fixie, and the entertaining cast of characters that orbit around her will certainly remind readers why 19 years after her first hit Kinsella remains one of the reigning queens of women’s fiction.\
PositiveThe Washington PostAn elegantly penned family saga that stretches for nearly a century ... It is the strength and fragility of the siblings’ bond, the evolving nature of love that is at the core of Conklin’s novel. And Fiona, with her uncommon insights, her lyricism and steady pacing, feels like the perfect narrator. Gracefully rendered, The Last Romantics focuses on the familiar theme of family with great originality.
RaveThe Washington Post\"No Picoult story is complete without characters representing both sides of a polarizing issue, something she has done for decades. Her 2011 tome Sing You Home was criticized for turning her characters on the religious right into caricatures, but she has clearly taken the comments to heart. Those in the antiabortion faction in A Spark of Light are as three-dimensional as those on the other side ... imbuing her characters — male and female, antiabortion and abortion rights advocates — with more shades of gray than a Pantone color wheel. Timely, balanced and certain to inspire debate, A Spark of Light is Picoult at her fearless best.\
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
RaveThe Washington PostBefore diving into the show’s six-season evolution (1998-2004), Armstrong takes readers back to Carrie Bradshaw’s beginnings in the pages of the New York Observer ... Armstrong goes deep into the casting, taking us through the surprisingly difficult process of getting the now-famous foursome on air ... While most of Armstrong’s book heaps praise on SATC, she does repeatedly call out its whitewashing. Not only were the four main characters white, but the world they existed in was, too ... The writers and producers of the show are stars in this story as much as the actors, particularly the two at the helm: [Darren] Star and Michael Patrick King. Armstrong details how these two gay men created a very feminine universe, eventually hiring a small army of young female screenwriters to help ... The writing is fizzy and funny, but she still manages an in-depth look at a show that’s been analyzed for decades, giving readers a retrospective as enjoyable as a $20 pink cocktail.
PositiveThe Washington PostMoran\'s novel is strongest showing an empowered young woman fighting against a society constantly trying to strip her of her value. How to Be Famous explodes with the screams of rock \'n\' roll life, but at its heart it\'s an ode to the tenacity, energy and collective power of teenage girls.\
PositiveThe Washington PostMuch of the book is devoted to Kate trying to do the universal juggle. Will she be able to support her family, save her marriage, rock her job, appear to be aging in reverse — and be happy, too? ... It is a problem many readers will identify with ... Despite a predictable plot, it is this relatable quality of Pearson’s story, along with laugh-out-loud zingers on nearly every page, that makes this sequel shine ... a witty, current and a good reminder that age can be a trump card.
RaveThe Washington PostThe story of how Allison gets that gig is a big stretch, but the hilarity that ensues between her and Carter makes it worth it. Poeppel describes the spoiled pop prince perfectly. Even her choice of curse words feel lifted off the pages of a teen’s Instagram account. This authenticity and the way Allison creatively deals with Carter’s tantrums will have readers rooting for her as she tries to get him away from the dark side and to his Broadway rehearsals ... Written with heaps of humor and just as much heart, Limelight is a testament to the transformative power of good mothering, the magic of the stage and the allure of Manhattan — even if you arrive in a Ford Explorer with Texas plates.
RaveThe Washington Post...while there are insights from A-listers, Carlson doesn’t just interview top-billed actors. We even hear from assistants to the assistants — like the guy who taught Meg Ryan 'how to actually use email.' The book’s wide net of sources, along with Ephronisms and movie dialogue, proves to be a wonderful recipe, giving readers a sense of what it was like working on an Ephron project at every level. Seamlessly woven into the narrative are bits of behind-the-scenes gossip that will surprise even the most die-hard fans ... Fast-paced, humorous, yet impressively researched, Carlson’s voice feels cut from the same cloth as Ephron’s, but her ode isn’t all warm meet-cutes at the top of the Empire State Building. She dings Ephron for the lack of diversity in 'her daffy, urban universes,' and she interviews a set designer on Sleepless who had such difficulty with the director that he begged to be fired.