RaveBooklistEsteemed historian Fraser...turns her eye to the lesser-known yet impactful Caroline Norton ... Drawing from Caroline’s letters and other contemporary texts, Fraser shines a light on the struggles Caroline endured in her efforts to reunite with her children and navigate her financial status within a system that granted control of all of her funds, even money she earned with her pen, to her estranged husband as she maintained a successful career as a writer. Enlightening and inspiring.
PositiveBooklistAn enticing exploration of a bygone era in a fabled city and some of its real-life luminaries.
Olivia Clare Friedman
PositiveBooklistA beautifully told tale of grief and loss made bearable by the unexpected creation of a found family ... The friendship that grows between these two young women will engage teens.
Danielle J. Lindemann
PositiveBooklist[A] deep dive into the most-talked about shows of the last three decades ... Lindemann lays bare the way the Kardashians, the Real Housewives, the contestants on Survivor, and the casts of many other shows are simply \'versions of ourselves who go too far\' ... An eye-opening and entertaining read.
Emily St. John Mandel
RaveBooklistMandel spins a gripping and beautiful narrative that speaks to how we are all interconnected in great and small ways. With more than a few discoveries related to her previous novels, this will be a delight for longtime Mandel readers; but those new to her work won’t find themselves lost by any means, except in the sense that all readers will be subsumed by this gorgeously rendered, deeply intimate, conceptually rich, and affecting tale.
MixedBooklistMitchard seizes upon a timely and sensitive topic in her latest outing ... Readers seeking a truly conflicted, thought-provoking exploration of penance and attempts at redemption might have to look elsewhere. Mitchard devotes more time to the mystery of Esme and Thea’s over-protectiveness of her son than she does to exploring guilt and punishment, but this is a compassionate tale with a gripping, ripped-from-the-headlines premise.
PositiveBooklistThe daughter of comedian Roseanne Barr recounts her unusual childhood with humor and self-deprecation ... Though she often takes a comedic tone when describing the ups and downs of her time at many different reform schools and a survivalist camp, when Pentland grows up, marries, and has a family of her own, she finds that she has lingering PTSD from her experiences. This offers plenty of heart and laughs, especially for children of the 1980s and 1990s.
RaveBooklistBoth epic and deeply intimate, Nagamatsu’s debut novel is science fiction at its finest, rendered in gorgeous, evocative prose and offering hope in the face of tragedy through human connection.
PositiveBooklistWhile not as emotionally resonant as her previous novels, Dalcher’s latest is a cogent and timely exploration of the dangers of misandry and groupthink.
RaveBooklist... powerful ... Stealthily surprising and very moving, Picoult’s latest, written while she was confined at home during the pandemic, taps into the trauma and uncertainty of 2020’s global crisis. Absolutely a must-read.
PositiveBooklist... endearing ... A warmhearted peek behind the curtain at youthful fame and filmmaking in the 1960s.
RaveBooklistEngrossing ... Readers intimately familiar with the mythology and those new to this classic story alike will find themselves breathlessly turning the pages as Heywood unspools the tragic consequences of Helen’s actions and the horrific sacrifice Klytemnestra is forced to make. An utterly spellbinding historical yarn.
J. Michael Straczynski
PositiveBooklist... provocative ... It turns out to be far from a grim trip as they all find much-needed kinship, celebrate their lives, and even run afoul of the law. The plot may make Straczynski’s first novel controversial; certainly it’s a conversation starter, and there’s no denying that it is compulsively readable, replete with compelling characters, surprising twists, and heady themes.
David Grossman, tr. Jessica Cohen
PositiveBooklist[A] powerful novel ... Grossman performs a deft exploration of how trauma impacts succeeding generations.
PositiveBooklistBass delves into the painstaking details of the politics ... Massive in scope and detail, Bass’s crucial if at times dense tome could not be more timely.
Mariana Leky tr. Tess Lewis
PositiveBooklistPopulated by quirky characters who learn there is no way to truly prepare for death or grief, Leky’s novel is for those who enjoy laconic, introspective reads.
PositiveBooklistSpanning more than a decade and touching on major early-twentieth-century events, such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the sinking of the Titanic, and the beginning of WWI, Wecker’s second outing blends Jewish and Middle Eastern mythology within a vibrant historical setting.
RaveBooklistWith a sharp eye and piercing insights, Choi captures the heady romanticism that infuses a youthful love affair before the responsibilities and realities of adulthood set in. This is a masterful coming-of-age novel
PositiveBooklistWith a candid exploration of his feelings of isolation along with his battles with alcohol and drug addiction, McCarthy’s memoir will appeal to aspiring actors, fans of his work, and readers fascinated by the movie world.
PositiveBooklistKepnes’ series continues to be a sly, subversive exploration of what people choose to reveal and what they hide in their relationships, and just how difficult it is to truly know another person. That Kepnes manages to limn such heady subjects in such a compulsively readable way while serving up twists aplenty is the reason the series still feels fresh three books in.
RaveBooklist... lively ... An introspective look at the stages of life and what means the most at each phase, Kuznetsova’s second outing is an emotional powerhouse.
PositiveBooklistThe second entry in Mosse’s epic fictional chronicle of the conflict between the Huguenots and the Catholics in sixteenth-century France finds former Catholic Minou Joubert now married to Piet Reydon, the Huguenot man she fell in love with in the series’ first tale ... Mosse presents another absorbing historical yarn that mixes intrigue, action, and family drama with aplomb.
PositiveBooklistThe train proves to be a feast of wonders, complete with elaborate cars boasting numerous delights, from a full library to a bountiful kitchen to an overflowing mail room ... Oyeyemi (Gingerbread, 2019) has once again crafted a layered modern-day fairy tale replete with interlinked stories and unexpected connections among its vibrant characters.
Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
RaveBooklistArmstrong deftly illustrates how this quartet of women battled skepticism, sexism, and even the infamous Cold War blacklist to become vital players in the burgeoning days of the small screen ... With crisp, electrifying prose, Armstrong recounts the hard work and struggles of four women trailblazers who shaped the dawn of television.
Takis Würger, Tr. Liesl Schillinger
PositiveBooklistBased in part on the real Stella Goldschlag, Würger’s novel is a powerful, visceral portrait of individuals caught up in a pivotal year during Nazi rule.
RaveBooklistVast in scope, Sacks’ stunning first novel takes place in the contemporary West Bank and follows a large cast of characters to explore the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ... Sacks imbues her first novel with foreboding at every turn...And yet, through her vibrant characters, she paints a moving and powerful portrait of those who love the region passionately despite its many tensions and dangers.
RaveBooklistA nuanced exploration of the horrors Southern racism inflicted on Black citizens, as well as the role complicated figures like Young, who fought for the Confederacy, then became a champion for the rights of Black people, played. Blending primary source material with compelling prose, Montgomery brings to light an important turning point in a grim chapter in American history.
PositiveBooklistSeinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm creator Larry David has made a career out of turning neuroses into humor, and his eldest daughter, Cazzie, follows in his footsteps in her first essay collection ... Though David’s privilege (which she readily acknowledges) is frequently evident, her frankness about her struggles with anxiety and depression will make many who suffer from the same conditions feel less alone. With a show in development for Amazon, David will be a draw.
PositiveBooklistRather than being a respite from the troubles of their lives, the isolation and seemingly never-ending rain only serve to give the characters little else to do but to ruminate on their lives, and obsess over the occupants of one cabin who dare to break the quiet solitude with loud music and revelry every night. The foreboding atmosphere and myriad frustrations among the dissatisfied characters come to a head in the final pages. Readers who enjoy stream-of-consciousness narratives and careful characterization will find much to appreciate here, but those seeking a more cohesive story and engaging action should look elsewhere.
PositiveBooklistAdmirers of Seinfeld’s stream-of-consciousness observations about the minutiae of daily life will find much to enjoy here ... Seinfeld remains immensely popular and fans seeking fresh entertainment will be thrilled to see him in book form.
MixedBooklisticoult plays with the novel’s narrative structure, this time potentially leaving readers feeling perplexed or even tricked. Nonetheless, they will find heady themes to consider.
PositiveBooklistFrancie’s exhaustive but significant journey of self-examination will likely have a very specific literary appeal, but Bender fans will be glad to find her trademark combination of magic realism and quirky but relatable characters.
Sarah Stewart Johnson
PositiveBooklistJohnson details her call to science as a girl, her experiences as a female scientist, and how her involvement with Mars began in 2004 when, as a graduate student, she went to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California to observe the rovers Curiosity and Opportunity as they roamed the Martian terrain. A heady and thoughtful history for space and science buffs.
PositiveBooklistThree teenage girls bereft of parental guidance navigate the intoxicating world of New York City in the early 1980s ... Heady and atmospheric, Brainerd’s debut weaves the energy of glamorous, arty, and treacherous Manhattan into the coming-of-age dramas of her three adventurous heroes.
PositiveBooklistPochoda’s fourth novel...takes place in 2014 in South Los Angeles, where several prostitutes have been found murdered ... With raw, visceral prose, Pochoda vividly evokes L.A.’s distinctive cityscape and the burdens and threats women face there as female bodies are commodified and where women are the targets of horrific violence.
Samanta Schweblin, trans. by Megan McDowell
PositiveBooklistThe internationally acclaimed author...posits the launch of a new fad in this daring and original speculative novel ... Schweblin deftly explores both the loneliness and casual cruelty that can inform our attempts to connect in this modern world.
RaveBooklist... powerful ... A gorgeously written character study that examines, with sensitivity and pathos, the small steps that lead a man down an unexpected and ultimately isolating path.
PositiveBooklistIn her agony, Ramey deduced that the problem went far beyond women being disbelieved; it stemmed from humanity’s rejection of the feminine as valid ... A visceral, scathing, erudite read that digs deep into how modern medicine continues to fail women and what can be done about it.
RaveBooklistIrish writer Barry continues the story begun in Days Without End...revisiting Civil War vets Thomas McNulty and John Cole and their adopted Sioux daughter, Winona, a decade later. Narrated by Winona, this beautifully rendered historical bildungsroman is equal parts thrilling and meditative.
PositiveBooklistSonnenfeld views all of this with an unflinching eye, going into stark detail about everything from his first professional shoots on nine pornography films to his adventures with the Coen brothers to the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his mother’s cousin. A candid, sometimes dark, entertaining, anecdotal trip down memory lane from a Hollywood icon.
PositiveBooklistReaders with a keen interest in political fiction will find much to savor in the complex machinations Miller expertly creates.
Jennifer S. Hirsch and Shamus Khan
PositiveBooklistTaking into account gender, sexuality, and race, Hirsch and Khan do an excellent job of exploring the complexities of sexual assault and how to make campuses safer for all students.
PositiveBooklist\"Rifkind brings a forgotten female figure of Hollywood’s Golden Age back into the spotlight in this expansive, engaging biography ... a detailed, vibrant, invaluable portrait of Viertel’s life and the remarkable community of European exiles to whom she offered refuge and friendship.\
PositiveBooklistAn atmospheric and evocative tale buoyed by a sensual affair, Drake’s debut is a compelling read that might leave some readers, like Zhang, craving more details about Naemi and her supernatural existence.
RaveBooklist... luminous ... This suspenseful and vividly evocative tale expertly explores women’s oppression as well as their sexuality through the eyes of a heroine who is sometimes maddening, at other times sympathetic, and always wholly compelling and beautifully rendered.
PositiveBooklistThomas has penned a sharp-eyed novel about the pressure society, adults, and peers put on girls to look and behave a certain way. When Natasha isn’t at school, she’s in the company of her aunt, who tells her over and over that she must hang on to her beauty at all costs. Thomas deftly explores exactly what those cost are, and the toll they take on young women.
PositiveBooklistA smart, introspective, and gripping examination of the burdens and joys of the writing life.
PositiveBooklistKavenna’s scathing indictment of the dangers of technology gone awry, tech conglomerates left unchecked, and the silencing of the free press is a smart and timely work of cautionary speculative fiction.
PositiveBooklistHodgman offers thoughtful musings about human nature and our drive for status. An entertaining and endearing entry.
PositiveBooklistJournalist Verini offers up a searing account of the battle against the Islamic State in Mosul in 2016 and 2017, focusing not just on the clashes with the jihadi fighters but also on the plight of the people caught in the middle of the battling forces ... Verini presents with sensitivity the bloody and complicated history of the area, the fraught feelings Iraqis have towards America and its involvement in their country, and the way conflict with the Islamic State has ripped families apart. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand this ongoing and tragic conflict.
PositiveBooklisttheir relationship in ways they can’t quite grasp. A gorgeous portrait of remote Newfoundland of yesterday with a remarkable story of human resilience at its core.
RaveBooklistFuller is deeply saddened by her father dying so far from the land that he loved, but most of this gorgeously written reminiscence is comprised of vignettes from the beautiful life her vivacious parents shared together ... After four memoirs that chronicle, in whole or in part, Fuller and her family’s lives in Africa, her family remains endlessly fascinating and delightful companions for long-time readers and new ones alike. When Fuller reveals an even more devastating loss in the final pages, it’s a gut-punch that will leave readers aching for her. A gorgeously written tribute to a life well lived and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable loss and grief.
RaveBooklist... takes a sweeping look at the rise of cultural anthropology under Franz Boas ... King’s engrossing look at these extraordinary trailblazers deftly illustrates how crucial their research and work remains today.
RaveBooklistThe follow-up to Center’s breakout hit, How to Walk Away (2018), in which Cassie had a brief cameo, has all the hallmarks that made readers fall in love with the previous book: an appealing (if guarded, in this case) heroine, a compelling love story, a tear-jerking twist, and a thoroughly absorbing story. Another winner from Center.
PositiveBooklistThough Emily’s story is much slower to start and initially far less compelling than Charles’, Willig masterfully brings the two together in this evocative, engaging epic.
PositiveBooklistAn absorbing, meditative look at life behind bars.
PositiveBooklistProducer Morris’s entertaining second novel...zeros in on a particular male fantasy, and acknowledges the importance of entertainment and honoring the past, both personal and historic.
PositiveBooklistDolan-Leach has crafted a compelling tale about the passions and folly of young people trying to carve out meaning and purpose in their lives.
J. Michael Straczynski
RaveBooklistThe creator of iconic sf series Babylon 5 and Sense8 bares his soul in this raw, utterly compelling memoir ... at times shocking, at times difficult to read, and ultimately inspiring account of his determination and triumph against all odds.
RaveBooklistWith an unflinching eye, Baker deftly explores the pressure, judgment, and dangers women are subjected to on a daily basis simply because they are female. Her brilliant novel is a scathing indictment of the many ways society excoriates women while excusing violent men. A must read.
RaveBooklistRichly rendered and engrossing, Spera’s debut is a powerful look at the lives of women in the early twentieth-century Deep South.
PositiveBooklist... complex, introspective ... In this open, honest, and at times angry memoir, Eire bares his soul completely and captivates the reader in the process.
PositiveBooklistOksana gets older and perhaps wiser, but her choices don’t necessarily improve. And yet despite this, she is an utterly compelling, deeply flawed, and completely endearing character. \'I was nobody’s first choice, the Ross Perot of real life,\' she laments in high school. Kuznetsova has created a heroine for the ages in her sparkling, piercingly insightful debut.
PositiveBooklist... inventive ... The plights of some characters resonate more than others, but Ruta’s first novel is an entertaining and clever speculative tale.
RaveBooklist... an introspective, thrilling yarn ... Swyler uses this inventive premise of a failed attempt to control the flow of time to limn the depths of grief and love in a strikingly fresh way that resonates long after the final page has been turned. This tale’s originality brings to mind the quintessential pioneering writer who used science to explore the human condition, Mary Shelley.
Jennifer L. Eberhardt
PositiveBooklistThough there’s no easy answer, Eberhardt posits the key to change is confronting bias head-on rather than trying to pretend it doesn’t exist, and to question and challenge our own snap judgments and their sources. This is a seminal work on a topic that necessitates wide and frank discussion.
PositiveBooklistBlake transports readers to biblical times ... Blake’s tale is a powerful exploration of the trauma of change and the reckoning required to move on from unimaginable loss.
RaveBooklist\"...[an] engaging, conversational, passionate biography ... Fans of traditional biographies might balk at O’Meara’s candid style and observations, but there’s never a dull moment in this beautiful, heartfelt tribute to a pioneering special-effects designer and animator and passionate call for change in the industry that forgot her.\
PositiveBooklist...a clever subversion of fairy tale tropes ... Both a scathing indictment of capitalism and a tribute to the maddeningly inescapable endurance of family bonds, this enchanting tale will resonate with literary fiction lovers.
Jamil Jan Kochai
PositiveBooklistKochai captures the joys and the sorrows of life in Afghanistan, offering readers a glimpse into everyday life in a country whose people have grown so used to constant bombardment that they can differentiate between various types of IEDs by sound alone.
PositiveBooklistTeen rom com lovers will empathize with Fixie\'s sibling drama and romantic fumblings ... Kinsella again provides a delightful, irresistible romp.
Tatiana De Rosnay
PositiveBooklistThe author of the best-selling WWII-era novel Sarah’s Key (2007) offers up an equally emotional contemporary tale... Rosnay’s many fans, and all who embrace tearful tales, will enjoy the slow unraveling of the complex troubles and secrets of the Malegarde family.
PositiveBooklist\"The story builds to a primitive ritual teasingly foreshadowed in the opening pages that lays bare Sylvie’s vulnerability and oppression at the hands of her father. Tackling issues such as misogyny and class divides, Moss... packs a lot into her brief but powerful narrative.\
PositiveBooklistHadley...brings readers into the world of a complicated quartet of friends and lovers ... Hadley traces the friends’ relationships through the decades, not only revealing the evolution of their friendships and romances but also the rise and fall of their youthful ambitions and artistic passions. A layered and compelling read.
PositiveBooklistWomersley offers a richly imagined historical adventure with a truly shocking finish.
MixedBooklistA deep dive into the politics surrounding the Eighteenth Amendment ... readers might hunger for more biographical details about Sabin and Willebrandt, but those looking for the political history of Prohibition will value this comprehensive accounting.
PositiveBooklist\"Adamczyk’s first collection revolves around youthful characters thrust into difficult situations and uncertain of how to move forward or adequately communicate their needs and desires ...Though occasionally veering into MFA pretension, Adamczyk’s confident, quirky first outing is bound to find admirers in fans of Aimee Bender and Karen Russell.
RaveBooklistTaut and tense, with both a dreamlike quality and a strong sense of place, Hagy’s brief but powerful tale will indelibly haunt readers long after the final page is turned.
PositiveBooklistThe examples and statistics Chemaly cites are enough to get one’s blood boiling, but, as she notes, anger isn’t intrinsically bad so long as it’s not repressed. She points out that the 2016 election has spurred many women to seek political office themselves. Chemaly finishes with a helpful list of suggestions for channeling that anger into something positive, including letting go of \'niceness\' and trusting other women. An essential and timely read.
PositiveBooklist...[a] chilling dystopian tale ... With its focus on the vitality of communication and human interactions, Dalcher’s tale is a fresh and terrifying contribution to the burgeoning subgenre about women-focused dystopias spearheaded by Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
RaveBooklist\"Picoult delivers another riveting yarn about a hot-button issue ... Even though she’s rewinding the story, Picoult manages to keep the tension high as we learn about the characters’ personalities and situations. And there’s a surprising reveal in the final pages that readers will likely find provocative. Picoult explores both sides of the abortion debate in this carefully crafted, utterly gripping tale, which acknowledges that there are no easy answers.\
RaveBooklistWalbert’s...latest is a sharp look back at school days that are anything but idyllic ... Jo finds herself saddled with an unpopular roommate and quickly gaining the attention of Master Aikens, a beloved, pompous, charismatic literature instructor ... her rage over the blind eye the school turned toward Master and his transgressions is palpable. Walbert’s slim, impactful novel, distinguished as all her work is by beautiful writing and a wealth of literary allusions, could not be more timely.
PositiveBooklistAt first blush, the premise of Lim’s dystopian novel is a familiar one: a deadly flu pandemic sweeps across the world in the early 1980s. But the solution is inventive ... An intriguing and unique entry in the crowded dystopian landscape.
PositiveBooklistFor every recognizable name, such as legendary costume designer Edith Head, there are numerous mentions of women whose contributions have been neglected by historians, such as Mary C. McCall, Jr., a gifted writer and two-time president of the Screen Writers Guild, who saw her career snuffed out by the persecution of Communists, despite the fact that she was a political moderate. Aimed at readers with a knowledge of and keen interest in Hollywood of yesteryear, Smyth’s enlightening tome reveals the power and influence women wielded in Tinseltown during the Great Depression, WWII, and the postwar era.
RaveBooklistRaney Moore thinks her decade-and-a-half-long marriage to entomologist Aaron is on solid ground until she discovers he slept with a colleague on a work trip ... Kennedy tackles gender relations at home and in the workplace in this frank, compulsively readable examination of how one woman balances her exploration of her sexual identity with her career and motherhood.
PositiveBooklistSoli’s fourth novel is an epic, enthralling look at the American West in the mid-1800s... With visceral, vibrant language, Soli paints a stark portrait of the violence, hardship, and struggles that characterized the American West.
PositiveBooklist\"Daring, inventive, and moving, Williams’ novel deftly illustrates that when it comes to happiness, there are no easy answers.\
RaveBooklistJameson makes a passionate argument for the depth of these no-longer-fringe entertainments, pointing out the realism within the fantasy and how sf, fantasy, and superhero tales tackle issues personal and political ... A thoroughly engaging and enjoyable look at the evolution of geek culture over the past four decades.
Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass
RaveBooklistA thoroughly enjoyable peek into the brothers’ creative process, filled with tips and guidance for those who want to follow in their footsteps
RaveBooklist Online\"There’s plenty of interpersonal drama among the group ... A suspenseful and imaginative take on a famous tragedy.\
RaveBooklist OnlineGenova expertly details the devastation ALS wreaks on Richard, and though her latest is a sometimes difficult read, she finds hope in the opportunities Richard has to repair his relationships with his daughter and brothers before it’s too late.
RaveBooklistBetween interviews with the showrunners themselves as well as the writers and actors they employ, and even a set visit to Jill Soloway’s seminal Amazon dramedy, Transparent, Press gives television lovers an inspiring, eye-opening look into the way women are creating groundbreaking, original content.
PositiveBooklistThough smaller in scope than her previous blockbuster, in this tightly focused drama, Hannah vividly evokes the natural beauty and danger of Alaska and paints a compelling portrait of a family in crisis and a community on the brink of change.
RaveBooklist\"Alderman wrestles with some heady questions: What happens when the balance of power shifts? Would women be kinder, gentler rulers, or would they be just as ruthless as their male counterparts? That Alderman is able to explore these provocative themes in a novel that is both wildly entertaining and utterly absorbing makes for an instant classic, bound to elicit discussion and admiration in equal measure.\