RaveBookPageWhile the book is driven more by characterization than by plot, Han delivers the few pivotal moments with such skill that they are jaw-droppers ... Han displays incredible range as a novelist, oscillating between honest, almost tangibly real scenes, opaque dreams and refractive memories. He portrays Annabel’s and Jack’s points of view with remarkable integrity, while Liang and Patty are both heartbreaking and heartwarming, doing their absolute best for their children while grappling with their pasts ... Han’s prose is vivid yet restrained, and his characters are multidimensional and alive. Emotionally resonant and packed with nuance, this is an exemplary debut novel.
MixedBookPageBirds are the major motif in The Thirty Names of Night, so much as to often feel overwhelming ... This premise is strong and promises a bit of a mystery, though his interior experiences are so vivid that they tend to overshadow the plot ... The book’s strongest parts are the protagonist’s experiences of body dysphoria and how he comes to understand himself as trans. These are delivered in a way that is both incredibly specific and lyrically abstract. Author Zeyn Joukhadar excels at writing the emotional, physical and spiritual experiences of a young trans person.
RaveBookPageSanaë Lemoine is a writer who trusts her readers. Her stark prose, which readers may need some time to get into its rhythm, is minimally descriptive and relatively unadorned, letting the complexity of the story shine through the characters’ interactions and not so much through acrobatic wording ... In fact, much of the novel has a very cinematic quality to it, in the vein of classic French cinema ... These are the female characters we’ve been waiting for. These women are complicated, nuanced, hypocritical ... The Margot Affair is perfect for Francophiles, fans of literary fiction and explorers of interpersonal relationships.
PositiveBookPageComparisons between Jane Healey’s debut and Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent are accurate, as The Animals at Lockwood Manor fits beautifully into the category of gothic fiction. Healey juxtaposes a sweet same-sex love story against the bleak backdrop of World War II, although the novel avoids focusing too closely on the war itself. Instead, the romantic escalation drives the plot forward, though frequent dream sequences threaten to derail the momentum ... This is a strong debut, full of creepy cliffhangers, lovely descriptions and a believably inelegant heroine.
PositiveBookPageA quick summary does The Lost Book of Adana Moreau no justice. As intriguing as the plot may sound upfront, it can’t speak to the otherworldly beauty of Michael Zapata’s writing. Don’t even bother trying to mark all the gorgeous passages that give you goosebumps, because there wouldn’t be much left unmarked. Zapata’s lyrical style has firm roots in Gabriel García Márquez’s work, with a boldness of delivery to the tune of Jorge Luis Borges ... While most of the protagonists are male, Zapata crafts female characters who are authors, physicists and master storytellers, who are loved for their intellect and contributions to the universe rather than for their beauty or contributions to the lives of men. Zapata pulls this off in a natural way that doesn’t feel showy or even particularly outright, which is all the more admirable ... As if his captivating writing style weren’t enough, Zapata has treated us to a thrillingly mysterious storyline with a beautiful payoff. The Lost Book of Adana Moreau is his debut novel, and we can only hope it is the first of many.
RaveBookPage[Lightman\'s] time spent in Cambodia is apparent through the beautiful and unforced descriptions in Three Flames, his first work of fiction in six years ... Lightman illustrates generational family trauma in a way that is succinct (at a slim 208 pages, Three Flames can be read in the better part of a day) yet leaves just the right amount of speculation to the reader. Three Flames is moving and beautifully written—an unforgettable embodiment of the resilience of the human spirit.
RaveBookPage...a powerful story that is equal parts loneliness and hope ... While juggling themes of the struggles of immigrant families and the effect of parental mental illness, Folarin plays with structure and pacing, sometimes filling a page with only one poignant line ... It’s an insightful and moving novel, through and through.
RaveBookPageHow Could She tackles societal pressures, biological clocks, jealousy, infidelity and more in an insightful yet comfortable manner ... Mechling has a gift for creating elaborate, realistic pretense and then marching straight through it with a machete, slicing it to bits in a way that is both shocking and frankly fun. How Could She is not so much plot-driven as it is a study of dynamics ... Mechling excels at creating realistically complex hopes, needs and disappointments ... How Could She is the perfect summer read. It’s entertaining, insightful and at times agonizingly true to life.
PositiveBookPage... touching and heartfelt ... Boyce has many strengths as a first-time novelist, including lovely pacing, sensual prose and the ability to capture the warmth of the human spirit through her three narrators ... each bite-size chapters leaves the reader with a growing sense of intimacy ... The unique premise of crop circles as a vessel for new life, a salve for old wounds and an escort to the underworld creates a perfectly addictive storyline. Boyce has crafted a clever and tender novel that is enjoyable in every sense of the word.
PositiveBookPageA charming, puzzling plot that gets more exciting and addictive the deeper you sink into it ... ruminates on the gravity held by the objects in our lives ... Short chapters help the braided plot to avoid becoming overwhelming, and the novel is well-researched, from the Cyrillic script to the exquisitely bleak \'sailing stones\' in Death Valley. This reviewer just happened to be, in a past life, a piano tuner, and Cander’s unadorned prose composes some truly beautiful descriptions of the joy of music.
RaveBookPage\"... wonderful ... [The book\'s] remarkable craftsmanship and honest, pure tone make it an absolute pleasure to read ... The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls has an unforgettable force. Gray possesses the ability to avoid judging her flawed, utterly human characters, who are without exception crafted from the heart.\
RaveBookPageIngenious and creative ... rich and fascinating backstories ... Hall has not captured Oppenheimer’s character, as to do so would be to lose his very essence. Instead, she brilliantly creates a fertile spot in her reader’s imagination, allowing us to draw conclusions based on our own realities. Trinity is a masterpiece.
Laura Van Den Berg
PositiveBookPage...[an] eerie yet compelling second novel ... A major theme of this slim novel is mystery...Did she find Richard, or someone who looks like Richard, or is she just imagining him altogether? All the alternatives seem equally plausible through van den Berg’s adeptly disorienting storytelling ... A little slow to start, the pace picks up in the second half as clues planted by the author come full circle ... The Third Hotel is a chilly, thought-provoking study of loss, loneliness and life after death.
PositiveBookPageAn Ocean of Minutes has a premise to thrill ... While Polly is not the most compelling woman to grace the pages of literature, the reader still shares in her heartbreak ... One of Lim’s greatest successes in her debut novel...is creating a future that is so completely imbued with bureaucratic nonsense that it as maddening as it is believable.
RaveBookPage\"The Optimistic Decade deserves the elusive accolade of \'original\' for its believable construction and flawless attention to detail. Within the brilliant, multilayered canopy of the novel’s world, Heather Abel’s writing comes across as a sincere and tender channel for a story that must be told ... Abel’s writing easily captures the vivid wilderness of Colorado, and her flashes of description somehow create a sense of nostalgia for multiple eras, as the story and backstory juxtapose the Reagan years with the onset of the Gulf War. As Abel’s characters surmise, perhaps everyone gets one optimistic decade before they can no longer deny that their actions are inconsequential and the future is going to happen whether they like it or not. Each person must choose to keep pushing forward, because a life without purpose is just as dissatisfying as dwelling in worthlessness. Above all else, this strong, astute debut is a study of love in many forms. To read it is nothing less than a mitzvah.\
RaveBookPage\"...an achingly beautiful love story ... Bloom brings incredible dimension to her historical figures, especially the wise and savvy Hick ... White Houses is so gorgeously written that some passages need to be read more than once, or perhaps aloud, to fully appreciate their craftsmanship. A Roosevelt cousin describes Hick as erudite. To call this novel the same would be an understatement.\
RaveBookPage\"The Biographer. The Daughter. The Wife. The Mender. The Explorer. Leni Zumas refers to her protagonists by these descriptors, invoking the reductive distance from which women are viewed in a patriarchal society … Each woman explores her sense of self and what it means to be selfish or selfless about her desires and ambitions … Zumas plays with extremes, exposing the inner hypocrite in everyone, including the reader. With spare prose that sets a tone as chilly and bleak as the Oregon coastal setting, Zumas doesn’t shy away from the grotesque while presenting a tale that’s haunting, thought provoking and painfully timely.\