PositiveBookPage... rides the waves of war and the bloom of lovers’ passion, intertwining real events of the Mexican-American War with a vividly imagined relationship between a forlorn Irish immigrant soldier and a grieving Mexican curandera, or folk healer ... detailed and well-researched ... Grande’s novel highlights the abuses that American immigrants suffered at the hands of Yankee soldiers, in addition to the atrocities of war and all the maddening political and military machinations that go along with it. Although A Ballad of Love and Glory lags in pace or falls into cliche at times, it also often excels at making history palpable and real, not dry and unimpassioned but lively and full of the emotions the people of the past surely felt ... lives up to its title as it pays tribute to the heroism of everyday people called upon to defend their honor as well as their lives.
RaveBookPageJoella\'s poetic side shines in his moving but never maudlin novel. He captures loneliness, sadness, happiness and anger in all their fleeting hues. He has created a truly intertwined world around the Tylers, portraying their neighbors truthfully yet kindly. From beginning to end, A Little Hope finds the grace of the everyday and homes in on the surprises (both heavy and light) that each day can hold. Life is both painful and hopeful, but in Joella\'s world, it is blessedly more of the latter.\
PositiveBookPageThe Archer blends the corporeal and the spiritual in a story about what it means to be a woman and an artist. Swamy’s writing is transportive, precise and almost hypnotic, not unlike the controlled and expressive dance form that Vidya loves. The author’s perceptive and observant eye misses nothing.
RaveBookpageMarianne Cronin’s first novel brims with so much life ... With love and tenderness on every page, this imaginative novel is a joy to read. British novelist Cronin captures all the emotions and desires of these two tenacious women as they relive their pasts in order to make something permanent and leave their mark. Her easy prose sings with real warmth, candor and humor. Small in scope but large in humanity, The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot illuminates the steadying force of a heartfelt connection. Even in the face of death’s inevitability, friendship can be found, forgiveness can flourish and fun can ease fear.
S. Kirk Walsh
PositiveBookPageWith such a unique premise, the novel remains engaging despite occasionally clichéd prose and a plot that gets bogged down in detail. Hettie’s grief and longing are palpable, her mounting losses real and tangible. Through heart-stirring scenes of violence and destruction in a city unprepared for the chaos of war, Walsh showcases a flair for description and emotion, and for rendering ordinary lives amid extraordinary circumstances.
Julie Carrick Dalton
PositiveBookPageIn her first novel, journalist Julie Carrick Dalton extols the virtues and beauty of the natural world and laments the forces that threaten it, passionately capturing the devastation that a fire can cause and the helplessness people feel in the face of such uncontrollable disaster ... Though her style comes across heavy-handed at times, Dalton writes thoughtfully and poetically about a place clearly close to her own New Hampshire-based heart. Cadie and Daniela’s interrupted friendship forms the core of the novel, and Dalton captures that best-friend bond so intensely forged in youth ... Through vivid and emotional imagery, Waiting for the Night Song speaks to the power that a place and its people can have over your life.
Marco Balzano, trans by Jill Foulston
PositiveBookPageThrough headstrong, opinionated Trina’s narration, author Marco Balzano voices the anger of a people whose story has been overshadowed in history. Though some nuance has been lost in translation from the Italian and the tense shifts confusingly at times, I’m Staying Here reads like a confessional, conveying raw emotion with a forceful, memorable impact ... Balzano writes convincingly of a woman who has been torn apart by the sacrifices and suffering she’s endured, but who stalwartly carries on.
PositiveBookPageHozar’s vivid depictions of daily life in the divided city of Tehran ground Aria in stark reality ... Hozar’s perceptive writing falters at times, and the plot meanders distractingly. But early poetic chapters and the novel’s thrilling climax draw the reader in.
RaveBookPageA musician and storyteller through song for many years, Rónán Hession infuses his debut novel with tangible realness, honesty and delight. Hession takes on the familiar and mines it for its beauty and significance, as well as its whimsy. With an insightfully observant eye that’s keen on details, Hession illustrates a larger picture of what being human means and how we can confound yet ultimately support one another. Leonard and Hungry Paul is a reminder that we’re all just humans doing our best to be kind, to others and ourselves.
PositiveBookPageThe trappings of Gould’s writing are millennial, but her portrayal of the desire for self-actualization and understanding is universal. This ground isn’t new in fiction, certainly, but Laura’s and Marie’s voices each stand out for their honesty and poignancy. Gould’s women are as fearless as they are fearful, as full of bravado as nagging doubt and depression ... Emotional and at times cringingly self-conscious, Perfect Tunes explores the mother-daughter bond through a distinctly youthful lens. Gould’s strength lies in her powers of observation, her ability to wrap words around a specific time and a place in the lives of these particular women.
RaveBookPageIn Shira and Róza, Rosner captures two souls in turmoil, chronicling their grief as well as their strength of will to overcome, their longings and even surprising triumphs. Through the language of music and memory, Rosner thoughtfully composes a life for Róza and Shira that is safe and beautiful until it is shattered ... The Yellow Bird Sings keeps your heart in your throat, your eyes pricked with tears. Rosner excels at illustrating the nostalgic pull of a certain melody, a scrap of blanket, the smell of a loved one, a recipe with eggs. When their shelter is threatened, Róza and Shira must fly, as birds do, with only the bond of their hearts to connect them ... The little light that shines in this terrible darkness—the precious little hope that anchors Róza’s and Shira’s souls—is very bright.
PositiveBookPage...a moving examination of how people make sense of who they were and who they have become ... Lefteri’s writing is observant and fluid, capturing the contours of life and relationships ... Lefteri’s thoughtful voice always brought me back.
PositiveBookPageWith an actor’s ear for dialogue and a directorial vision, Chanelle Benz creates characters and scenes like a playwright. Her debut novel skillfully reveals and also conceals, building tension within her characters and between the past and the present that is left largely unresolved. Chapter by chapter, each told from a different perspective, The Gone Dead spreads out like the Mississippi River’s many tributaries, showing how one person’s life affects others, even long after death ... Benz’s poetic words capture the weariness of a South still mired in old prejudices and transgressions but longing for freedom and redemption.
PositiveBookPageWith its innately self-conscious approach, Savaş’ first novel reads much like a diary ... The writer M is purposefully enigmatic, which intrigues but leaves a feeling of incompletion at the same time ... Throughout, Savaş writes sensitively, and personal revelations fill the pages of Walking on the Ceiling. Sentences sometimes read like an elegy not just for the city but for Nurunisa’s past as well ... The poetic quality of the author’s prose draws you in, even if the self-reflection can feel burdensome at times ... Nurunisa’s thoughts and memories threaten to spill over into full understanding but never quite do; she keeps them contained, much like how she herself is still hemmed in by the past.
PositiveBookPageRobert Hillman’s observations are astute and thoughtful as he captures the slightest mood shift and nuance of personality. The inner workings of his finely tuned and memorable characters come to life in his open, honest style of writing. In particular, Hannah’s voice carries both the sorrow of the tragedies she’s lived through and a childlike glee when she finds something marvelous. Her pursuit of beauty—despite it all—inspires.
PositiveBookPage\"Pitchaya Sudbanthad’s first novel ranges wide in time and scope, and the author masterfully captures dozens of different voices and thoughts in his vast cast ... This ambitious novel’s many overlapping stories chart a fast pace, and at times, the connective thread between them gets muddled. Sudbanthad’s narrative flits around and back and forth, much like the colorful parrots that inhabit the old colonial house at the epicenter of the novel...\
PositiveBookPage\"Though her prose lacks Austen’s sardonic bite and subtlety, Kamal paints endearing relationships between [several characters] ... Kamal skewers Pakistani society over their obsessions and hypocrisies much in the same way Austen did hers ... Unmarriageable is light and entertaining.\
RaveBookPage\"To tell a good tale, you need drama—and in this area, Bowlaway spares no expense ... In Bowlaway, McCracken’s prose is well-tooled, hilarious and tender, thoughtful and jocular. Her characters inhabit their world so completely, so bodily, that they could’ve truly existed. Her detailed observations make the bizarre seem plausible, and always enjoyable.\
MixedBookPageCovering such a broad span of history is an ambitious undertaking, and The Kinship of Secrets is not without its stumbles. While at times the author’s prose tells more overtly than it shows, she’s able to capture an abundance of feeling. Drawn from her own family history, Kim’s story unfolds with the weight of lived experience. Through these relationships, The Kinship of Secrets explores the meaning of love and sacrifice and how often they are one and the same.
MixedBookPage\"The chapters... feel a bit truncated, and often a strong narrative thread is obscured by this abruptness. Still, DeWitt is ambitious with her latest novel, told from several perspectives through time, ranging across France to America and back again ... While the shifts in time and point of view could have been more deftly handled, DeWitt’s strengths lie in keen emotional observation and the portrayal of her characters’ inner turmoil. DeWitt poetically illuminates her characters’ lives, weaving in and out like a knitting needle through wool.\
RaveBookPageWith a physician’s precision and an artist’s eye, author Daniel Mason (The Piano Tuner) captures the emotional and physical upheaval wrought by war. Right from the start, his new novel, The Winter Soldier, thrums with tension, whisking the reader into the fray ... With striking prose and an unencumbered pace, The Winter Soldier makes for a uniquely compelling read.