MixedThe New York TimesFor the majority of the book...[Hale] sees herself more as a predator...It’s a helpful lens through which to contemplate the foibles of humanity, but one that easily devolves into cliché: \'I had the realization that humans are the most dangerous creatures\' is not quite the revelation it wants to be. And so Hale makes quick work to reveal her ugliness in contrast to prose that’s casual and cool and often funny. She’s a calculating oversharer ... It’s gutsy to portray oneself as messy and mean, but to what end? Radical honesty and self-deprecation don’t make up for a startling lack of empathy ... Hale is too clever by far to be an empath; her essays don’t contain an openness to understanding so much as a belief that we should all be allowed to be as mean as we want to be. Such a message feels hollow, almost as pointless as the damning Goodreads review, \'Meh.\'
PositiveVulture...an enthralling debut about crime, fact, and fiction ... Moral ambiguity is what binds the two narrative threads in Furious Hours: the first is a meticulously researched accounting of the case of Reverend Willie Maxwell ... Investigating Maxwell for herself, Cep comes up against all of the narrative problems that stymied Lee ... That moral complexity is exactly what appealed to Cep about investigating both lives — Maxwell’s and Lee’s ... we have the consolation of knowing that while Harper Lee is done writing, Casey Cep is just starting out.
RaveViceIrish author Sally Rooney’s novels exist in [the] headspace, where romantic obsession, matters of the body, social media, and just a touch of narcissism exist coterminously with awareness of and concern about the wider world ... Marianne and Connell embody some of the oldest tropes from literature and teen movies. She’s the poor little rich girl, the outcast who’s been secretly beautiful all along, who just needs the attention of the right man to blossom. Connell is the football star who is required to take the bitchy popular girl to the high school debs’ ball even when the loner has caught his eye ... Rooney keeps Marianne and Connell in their own little world, capturing that feeling when there’s someone in the room you want to keep your eye on and you sense their presence in every cell of your body, even if you’re not together ... It’s also important to remember the changes in the world outside of Marianne and Connell: that Ireland only ended its ban on abortion in May of 2018, and that portrayals of teenage sex—especially hot teenage sex, which Sally Rooney writes beautifully—is still transgressive. \'Art is purposeless without a sense of right and wrong,\' says Marianne towards the end of the novel, an apt summation of why Normal People feels so important right now. For all of its more trifling pleasures, Normal People is a work of art itself.
PositiveBuzzfeedIf The Witch Elm is her most compelling and urgent novel in years, it’s not entirely because of the plot — a somewhat convoluted mystery in which the whodunit matters only slightly — but because French’s masterful character study is absolutely riveting and timely. She delves deep into the point of view of a young advantaged man whose world opens up in ugly ways ... the nuance that Tana French is so good at all but disappears. This is not a complaint — at this stage perhaps we can all do with being hit over the head repeatedly with the injustices.
RaveBuzzfeedThey’re self-centered and negative as hell, but their fantasy lives are too compelling to turn away from. While mitigated by dark humor, very specific pop culture references, and their savvy for observing quite a lot about the worlds they live in even while lacking specific insights into themselves, both characters are still a self-help lover’s nightmare ... As readers, we witness their systematic destruction like we rubberneck a car wreck, but it’s both disturbing and invigorating to peer directly into the minds of female characters who just don’t feel like trying anymore ... Loathe these women and their choices, but it’s hard not to love watching them rebel ... What a joy, then, to spend some time within a fantasy where a woman can be free of the tyranny of constant self-improvement.
PositiveBuzzfeedUnlikable, irredeemable female narrators have long been underrepresented in mainstream fiction, yet...Broder do[es] fall into a lineage of women authors like Kathy Acker and Chris Kraus who have written about difficult, transgressive women ... Lucy has no intention of doing any form of self-improvement beyond buying some hot and prohibitively expensive lingerie that she wears to her date that ends on the bathroom floor ... There are so many scenes of her debasement that it comes as a relief to join Lucy in wishful thinking for once, even though it’s clear this story can’t have a happy ending ... How rarely do women feel like they have the freedom to wallow? Instead, they’re constantly inundated with new ways to improve themselves—diets, meditations, fitness trackers, serums and vitamins and sheet masks. What a joy, then, to spend some time within a fantasy where a woman can be free of the tyranny of constant self-improvement.
RaveThe Barnes & Noble Review\"That Chee is the person to illuminate his truth is a gift. As an artist exploring his craft, he explores the technical, but he also does not shy away from asking the questions that haunt anyone who dreams of leaving their mark on the world: Can I write, should I write, who will I be if I don’t write? What’s worth writing about? ... Like the best writers’ memoirs, How To Write an Autobiographical Novel is more of a show-by-example than a how-to, but it’s a wonderful guide nonetheless. That Chee has spent so much of his life writing and teaching and nurturing new talent comes through on every page of this book.\
PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesChapter by chapter, Press charts the peaks and valleys of the female gaze through the lens of TV in the last 30 years. We see norms slowly change ... Even as Press details the specific ways that the women have changed TV, a great pleasure of reading Stealing the Show is her nostalgic run-through of beloved shows and the things that made them tick. She captures their magic with some choicely worded phrases: the dialogue pacing Gilmore Girls was 'like a Ramones song transposed to television or a Hepburn-Tracy movie on speed.'
RaveThe Los Angeles Times...truly smart and deep and funny ... Semple brilliantly conveys a whole array of angst — self-deprecation and existential dread and a panic attack of neuroses — while simultaneously packing in a liberal dose of levity ... it’s a joy to watch Eleanor struggle to change for the better. That we get to laugh along with her is an added bonus.