RaveBookreporter... this new fantasy novella has both the brightness and the incipient gloom of autumn ... Valente seems in love with language itself (her style reminds me a bit of Alice Hoffman’s, which is high praise indeed). But the gorgeous writing is edged with social satire and spliced with horror: bone and flesh and gore. She unpeels the layers gradually, as one would a piece of fruit (each chapter heading is a different kind of apple), hinting at the dark core of her tale until it emerges into full, unsparing light ... Crisp and sharp, this provocative feminist reinterpretation of the Garden of Eden is no candy apple. It has more flavor than that. Go on—I dare you to take a bite.
MixedBookreporterFrom the beginning of The Turnout, she establishes a mood of conflict, tension and illicit desire, creating disquieting parallels between ballet and a girl’s emerging sexuality ... I’m ambivalent about The Turnout It is atmospheric, suspenseful and full of marvelously juicy behind-the-scenes details. But because I feel proprietary about ballet, I was sometimes bothered by the slightly lurid portrait it presents. I wanted to feel Abbott’s affection for the art.
RaveBookreporterUnsettled Ground has already been published in the UK and is on the shortlist for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Fiction, an elite six-book group ... Fuller’s novel deserves the honor and, I suspect, will reap more now that it is out in the United States ... exquisitely detailed ... The story unfolds alternately from Julius and Jeanie’s standpoints, and the reader’s view of their characters, and that of their mother, evolves interestingly as the novel progresses ... I loved Unsettled Ground ... Part of Fuller’s brilliance is how much she gets the reader to care for them both, despite their prideful stubbornness and dangerous innocence ... what is so marvelous about Unsettled Ground is the way Fuller taps into and dramatizes the universal experience of adult children following a parent’s death.
RaveBookreporter... stunning ... transported me ... I loved so many things about Okorafor’s book. The futuristic details have wit, energy and brilliance, but there is also genuine depth to the narrative: a serene, folktale-ish cadence that feels timeless. Moreover, Sankofa isn’t just a symbol; she’s a heartbreakingly real character who must conquer loneliness and fear, and gradually learn to control her gifts. I especially liked her tender friendship with the fox who has followed her all these years, and I cried a little at the scene where, at age 14, she gets her first period, with no mother to help. A sympathetic stranger gives her sanitary pads and fresh clothing ... I can’t wait to see what she does next.
RaveBookreporter... [Novik] pays homage, often with sly wit, to her predecessors, but she is no imitator ... My only complaint is that Novik’s elaborate universe kind of takes over A Deadly Education in the first few chapters. Too much worldbuilding happens before the story really gets going. But once I’d gone through orientation --- learned the vocabulary and history of the place --- I adored this clever reworking of young adult formulas into a sophisticated coming-of-age story. I give it an A+.
PositiveBookreporterMackintosh gives her novel a strange staccato rhythm. We are permanently in Calla’s head, and her ruminations emerge in a succession of brief paragraphs. Her vocabulary is sophisticated, even poetic, yet the affect is flat, cerebral and detached, even when she is describing pain or passion. I guess I got a bit tired of her constant self-observation. Too much interiority can feel airless, however beautiful the language ... Yet I also found myself drawn into Calla’s journey. There is something shivery and enthralling about the simultaneous unfolding of two mysteries.
PositiveBookreporter... the author no doubt has intimate knowledge of the rich, arty and offbeat --- and he’s adept at imagining the tangled psyches of those who plot to rip them off ... Getting the reader to root for a charming con man/killer --- in this case, two of them --- is a classic fictional strategy...Bollen pulls it off ... the kind of novel where you just know something is going to go wrong with the scam sooner or later, leading one or both of the guys to commit acts they’d never imagined themselves capable of. But you don’t know when, or how, and Bollen is adept at keeping the suspense nicely taut ... He also excels at evoking Venice itself. His fascination with the watery city is clear, his descriptions both accurate and eloquent ... While Bollen’s characterizations of Venice really sing, his people aren’t always as vivid. Supporting players seem to me more colorful than Nick and Clay, who need to be presented attractively and somewhat blandly in order to sustain the reader’s sympathy ... has a lot more heart than Highsmith’s dark thrillers, but the plotting is less skillful, lacking the surprise twists I expected ... If the structure is imperfect, the setting is marvelous. Venice isn’t just a scenic background for the action of A Beautiful Crime. Its capricious tides and twisty, deceptive geography seem to mirror the characters’ secrets and intrigues.
RaveBookreporter... brilliant ... [Attenberg] serves up death with a dose of exquisitely articulated pain and dark humor ... The soundtrack is a succession of acerbic, tightly wound, mostly well-defended voices ... This is a fascinating novel, yet one of its strengths --- a sharp, eloquent omniscient narrator who fills us in on not only the family’s past, but what will happen years after Victor’s death --- may also be a flaw. Attenberg’s voice doesn’t disappear into her characters; it calls attention to itself, like a skillful raconteur who can’t resist the bon mot ... It’s witty and sad and incredibly smart, this voice, but in my view it gives the book a certain coolness, a distancing from the characters’ anguish. Sometimes it seems to belong to a person who uses humor and intellect as a defense against going deeper ... Still, Attenberg’s stylish prose is a pleasure.
MixedBookreporter... squarely in the popular zombie genre. It is also beautifully written, with sentences that have the characteristic lilt of her homeland. The book is very, very Irish, from the characters’ names to the emerald-isle green of the post-industrial landscape, to the mix of sentiment and grit ... Davis-Goff builds considerable suspense with a narrative that alternates between this strange-but-idyllic past and the taut, shrake-threatened present ... The aspect of the book that does not work for me, however, is Orpen’s growing physical attraction to the man, Cillian. Yes, she’s lonely and naïve and hormonally vulnerable, yet this quasi-romance seems to me too opposed to her training, too sentimental, too convenient ... doesn’t break new ground in the zombie apocalypse genre. Even someone like me, who loves a good dystopia but isn’t particularly conversant with the vamp/zombie universe, finds major echoes of other novels, TV series and films in this book. And I wish Davis-Goff wasn’t so vague about why and how the world got this way. I kept waiting for some real backstory on the apocalypse, but it doesn’t arrive ... Davis-Goff’s action scenes are consistently cinematic, visceral, thrilling.
Charlie Jane Anders
PositiveBookreporter\"The City in the Middle of the Night... puts the science in science fiction with a fascinating premise ... Pitting humans against a hostile environment, Anders constructs a society that’s lavishly detailed and wonderfully convincing ... It’s understandable, given the ambitious scope of the book, that the story line doesn’t always flow organically ... I believe the ending of The City in the Middle of the Night leaves the way open to a sequel. And that’s a good thing. Such a dazzling fantasy world shouldn’t vanish after only one book.\
PositiveBookreporter...Roy’s writing is surpassingly vivid and gorgeous ... Roy paints a keen and altogether modern sense of a woman who wasn’t meant for marriage, who wants only to immerse herself in art ... The letters have a galvanizing effect on the novel, turning it from an elegiac reminiscence into an explosive cry for freedom ... I do wish Gayatri’s voice had come sooner ... Once she appears, the book comes fully alive. You could say that All the Lives We Never Lived is about two struggles for independence, playing out against the backdrop of World War II: India’s battle against colonialism, and a woman’s against marital entrapment. Roy balances the political and the personal with skill and power, giving us a country and a family rocked by change, grief and passion. For me, reading her book was a true \'passage to India.\'
MixedBookreporter\"It’s been a long time since I’ve read a Forsyth novel, but he is still a pro at intriguingly minute details... and cinematic, slow-boil descriptions ... But there are issues, too. The writing is, at best, utilitarian. Clichés and national stereotypes abound... and the pace is weighed down by way too much background material ... But the most grievous fault, I think, is Forsyth’s failure to delve into Luke’s remarkable psyche. We get no insight at all into Asperger’s in general or Luke’s mind or character in particular; we know only that he is fragile, change-resistant and completely absorbed in the work ... The Fox, in short, is not Forsyth’s best, but fans will probably enjoy it anyway.\