PositiveUSA TodayMaggie is a less-than-lovable protagonist. Yet Masad’s skills as a writer keep the reader rooting for her ... The parallels and paradoxes of the lives of two women who deeply loved yet disappointed each other ring both surprising and true ... Masad has written a melancholy and memorable reminder of how little we often know about the people who raise us, not just as caretakers, but as human beings with hopes and heartaches.
PositiveUSA TodayLacey is a gifted writer, on par with the best of horror writers at ratcheting up tension ... Lacey makes a strong case against the human desire to size up and categorize the people we meet ... We never quite find out [who or what Pew is] ... Maybe that’s Lacey’s way of telling us we don’t need to know—Pew just is. But it’s deeply unsatisfying in a book that starts with such promise.
RaveUSA TodayLouise Erdrich’s new novel...shimmers and dances like the northern lights the book\'s cover evokes ... Erdrich, who is part Chippewa, is a gifted, award-winning storyteller whose writing introduces readers to Native American characters they will be sad to leave at book’s end. She subtly tells the story of the ruinous way this country treated its native people ... Watchman has it all – the tingly pangs of Patrice’s sexual awakening and the warmth of the long-standing love between Thomas and his wife, Rose; the joys of workplace girlfriends and the agony of romantic triangles; the tense buildup to a boxing bout and a face-off with a villainous real-life congressman ... In powerfully spare and elegant prose, Erdrich depicts deeply relatable characters who may be poor but are richly connected to family, community and the Earth.
MixedUSA TodayKeneally is a writer of immeasurable talents, with an eye for the human drama that makes history. The intertwined stories of men from different eras keep the reader wondering how it will all come together. But this novel falters in the alternately perplexing and overwrought writing in Shade’s voice, which reads like The Clan of the Cave Bear as imagined by \'Penthouse\' magazine ... At 84, Keneally writes of a man’s mortality. I’d much rather read Cath\'s and Learned Woman’s perspectives.
RaveUSA Today\"Weinberg’s \'truants\' are skillfully drawn, compelling and complicated in equal measures ... Chapters are so tautly paced that when the dramatic events finally spill forth mid-way through the book, it’s a blessed relief. Weinberg is a crackling good writer. She captures the excruciating self-absorption and hyper self-awareness of early adulthood, when every encounter seems personal. And the novel’s urgent tempo gives the reader the sensation of heart palpitations. Truants is a novel worth skipping class for, and Weinberg’s writing marks the arrival of a sure talent.\
RaveUSA TodayMoyes’ descriptions of the women’s travels to impoverished families are affectionate and so vivid, you can practically smell the smoke curling from chimneys ... Moyes’ new book illustrates why she is a two-time winner of Romance Novel of the Year Award from the Romance Novelists’ Association. The yearning devotion Sven has for marriage-averse Margery despite her attempts to keep him at bay, and the slow-burning passion between Alice and the man who owns the library building, are heart-rending and real ... a richly rewarding exploration of the depths of friendship, good men willing to stand up to bad and adult love. Moyes celebrates the power of reading in a terrific book that only reinforces that message.
PositiveUSA Today...a welcome respite in her gentle new book of stitchery and manners ... With the manners and chortle-inducing humor that would make Jane Austen proud, Chevalier’s Thread is a pleasant diversion. Violet’s happy ending seems too pat, given attitudes toward women of her era, but the reader is nonetheless pleased for her.
PanUSA TodayThe ending isn’t a just twist, it\'s a triple axel Feeney fails to stick. Instead of shouting \'A-ha!\' when the strange strands of the plot are knitted together, the reader is more likely to say \'Whaaa?\' and then maybe \'Ew.\' No doubt, Feeney has the storytelling and pacing skills to keep a reader paging through to see what comes next. It\'s just \"what comes next\" includes incest, child abuse and marital rape, and a story I didn\'t care to read.
PanUSA Today\"... convoluted ... If you can make your way through a tortuous plot with dialogue that can be as wooden as a church pew, Berry makes some interesting points about religion and how powerful men created the tenets of faith (manufacturing the concepts of ideas of heaven, hell and the devil) to control the masses. But in the finale, good old Cotton shows he has a taste of his own for some righteous religious vengeance.\
PositiveUSA TodayCertain episodes stand out as especially heartbreaking. As her father succumbs to cancer, Hood desperately tries to nourish him with ice cream and Ensure nutrition shakes ... Hood has written painfully of the loss of [her young daughter] Grace ... Written in a series of deliciously digestible essays, the wistful and wonderful Kitchen Yarns is a feast for the heart, mind and senses.
PanUSA TodayIt may be unfair to grade terrific novelists on a different curve, but Liane Moriarty’s new novel does not match up to her captivating previous books, The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies ... More than 200 pages of character development pass before the action really begins...And these characters aren’t particularly compelling ... evokes a potboiler more than the searing, sharp social commentary Moriarty has delivered in her previous page-turners. It’s predictable, and the twisted turns that are signature Moriarty are visible miles ahead.
PositiveUSA TodayClara and Virginia are fierce, vulnerable and unwavering in their determination to right wrongs ... This zippy read can be a little too pat with its dialogue and resolutions, but is a hard-to-resist and a timely reminder that for far too long the work done by women has been dismissed and disrespected.
PanUSA TodayThere are no new revelations in Michelle Gable’s novel ... But it seems particularly crass to market a book on the enduring appeal of the Kennedy family and then spend 400-plus pages denigrating them ... Family matriarch Rose Kennedy is \'shrill and slight. \'Bobby is \'shifty and ratlike.\' A key character claims to have proof the Kennedys killed Marilyn Monroe, and Gable suggests one of Jack’s closest chums \'services\' him when no women are available. A thin modern-day plotline about an errant envelope links past to present in an attempt to reel the reader through to the book’s conclusion.
PositiveUSA Today...a satisfying simmer of a read about stepsisters, passion and murder ... Miranda is a beautifully crafted character ... Some of Williams’ lovemaking scenes veer into Bridges of Madison County territory of impassioned prose – which is a plus or minus, depending on how you felt crossing that bridge.
RaveUSA TodayPearson is fiercely funny and keenly observant. But it is her poignant and powerful statements about serious topics like aging, the invisibility of older women and the impact a paycheck has on a woman’s psyche that make this novel a must-read ... How Hard couldn’t be more timely or delightful, as Kate faces the hormonal and hiring cliff that is turning 50, a marriage moping into midlife, parenting in the social media era and an office culture that is ripe for a Me Too moment.
PositiveUSA TodayWell-meaning people of the world who enlist others to clean their homes and nanny their children, prepare to be made uncomfortable by Quindlen’s astute observations about interactions between the haves and have-nots, and the realities of life among the long-married ... Quindlen’s book reads like a metaphor for our divisive times. Americans seem to live on alternate sides, scrapping any sense of unity in desperate pursuit of a parking space in the Big Apple of life.
PositiveUSA TodayWolitzer’s social commentary can be as funny as it is queasily on target ... Wolitzer offers readers a lot to chew on as she skewers the righteous and self-righteous with humor and poignancy. But in the end her sharp observations soften. The things that incite our fury and ambition may seem overwhelming, but it’ll all work out in the end.
RaveUSA Today...a fictionalized account of the real friendship between silent film actress Mary Pickford and screenwriter Frances Marion ... In the era of #MeToo, Girls could not be more timely — or troubling — about the treatment of women in the workplace ... Benjamin has a flair for historical fiction about women's lives ... Benjamin portrays the affection and friction between Pickford and Marion with compassion and insight. Pickford gave Marion her big break, and Marion wrote the little-girl roles that came to define — and somewhat imprison — Pickford as the eternal ingénue ... Along the way, the women are bullied, belittled and even battered by the movie men who surround them ... The heroines of Girls struggle with what it means to be a woman in a male-dominated industry, seeking love — however flawed — along the way.
RaveUSA TodayBerg writes with a knowing hand about each character’s angst and anguish ... Truluv is a novel for these contentious times. We could all use a bit of Arthur's ego-free understanding and forgiveness of fellow human beings.
RaveUSA Today...an enchanting prequel ... The magic in these endearing witches is in their everydayness. They cope with high-school mean girls, apply to college, play music and oh yes, can hear each other’s thoughts, move furniture with their minds and are unable to sink in water. Like every human being, the witches are doomed to lose the ones they love most. This is the kind of book you race through, then pause at the last 40 pages, savoring your final moments with the characters. Hoffman has conjured up another irresistible novel in The Rules of Magic.
RaveUSA TodayAdd Kent to the list of terrific Australian novelists writing today. While Liane Moriarty (Big Little Lies) mines modern marriage and mores for her page-turning mysteries, Kent (Burial Rites) goes back in time to find reality-based stories of women who pay the price for challenging society’s expectations. The Good People has great characters, a setting that seeps into your bones and the always compelling tug between the spiritual and the superstitious.
RaveUSA TodayLamb skillfully mines the darting, banal, petty, random and innermost thoughts of artist Annie Oh, her ex-husband Orion, their children and a few secondary characters. He also gets inside the head of a child molester, to squirming effect – it's not a head you really want to inhabit … The Ohs are complicated and compelling figures. Annie thinks she is protecting her family by not revealing the pain of her past, but hidden truths only beget more secrets and sorrow … Art's power to provoke is a theme that wends its way through We Are Water.
RaveUSA TodayThe enduring toll of the loss of a parent. Family estrangement. Sisterhood. And the difficult choices life hands us ... Best-selling author Kristin Hannah (Fly Away) transports her favorite themes to World War II as the Nazis penetrate the Maginot Line and invade France ... Hannah's story becomes a tale of two sisters, set largely in the worst of times. Antoine gone to battle, Viann survives the German occupation in a dangerous dance with a handsome, empathetic Nazi who occupies her house ...a heart-pounding story, based on a real Belgian woman who did what Isabelle did. Hannah's book is most searing as the horrors of war ratchet upward... The novel's soaring finale proves that love conquers even Nazis.
RaveUSA TodayAll husbands – and wives – have secrets, but John-Paul Fitzpatrick's is devastating … Moriarty's pulsing pace and engaging characters make it well worth the wait to find out John-Paul's secret. She avoids an unfortunate trend in women's fiction to make men bad guys or doofuses. The men in The Husband's Secret are fully realized, thoughtful and caring, as flawed and faithful as the women who love them … Moriarty presents a nuanced and moving portrait of the meaning of love, both marital and familial, and how life can hinge on a misunderstanding or a decision made in haste.
RaveUSA Today...a mesmerizing new look at the aftermath of the war ... Survivors do what they must to carry on, but all three women are haunted by the choices they made during the war. Shattuck was inspired to write the book by her shame over her German heritage, and the wartime era’s links to contemporary political issues. Her book answers the question 'How do good people become Nazis?' with insight and empathy. The Women in the Castle stands tall among the literature that reveals new truths about one of history’s most tragic eras.
RaveUSA TodayChris Bohjalian is at the full power of his literary legerdemain in his newest book, The Sleepwalker ... Bohjalian teases and tantalizes the reader, alternating chapters with diary entries from a sleepsexer. But whose diary is it? ... The Sleepwalker is Bohjalian at his best: a creepily compelling topic and an illusionist’s skill at tightening the tension. This is a novel worth losing sleep over.
PanUSA TodayI’ll Take You There has a hokey plot and a setup that should carry a warning label: Baby boomer nostalgia alert ... this book is overstuffed with clichéd characters who can’t compare with the heroine of his stunning first novel ... not one of Lamb’s more memorable journeys.
PositiveUSA TodayThis is not an easy novel to read, but Affinity Konar’s evocative storytelling, fierce characters and haunting prose make Mischling equally hard to put down ... Pearl and Stacha are enduring, endearing characters that readers of their saga won’t be able to forget.
PanUSA TodayEverybody wants a happy ending and Georgia’s happy ever after is so ridiculously romantic that it feels churlish to criticize other aspects of this novel. But there are things about Georgia that are downright unpleasant...A longtime, charming patient dies, and that news is telegraphed with a sad-face emoticon. Has it come to this, that an author who can write with such warmth and understanding succumbs to the cheapness of the emoji? McMillan’s fans deserve better...Cheers to McMillan for writing about the possibility of late-life reinvention. But I Almost Forgot is pretty forgettable.
RaveUSA Today...a breathtakingly moving look at a family and a community coming to terms with life and loss from the 1960s to today...Looking back decades after Miller’s Valley has disappeared to the dam’s waters, Mimi holds fast to the memories of the life she once longed to escape. Readers will find Miller’s Valley equally hard to forget.
PositiveUSA TodayFaye’s first novel, Dust and Shadow, featured a match of wits between Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper; clearly, she has a way with serial killers. The literary love match that is Jane Steele has already been optioned for a movie. Devour this book, reader, and join me in line at the multiplex.
PanUSA TodayIn Flying as in Dying, sex without connection is not the answer. Jong’s passages about the humor and heartbreak of growing older are knowing, soul-bearing, moving and funny ... The book also takes some ill-advised turns, and here, Dying is just dying for a stronger editor’s hand. Isadora sends Vanessa a spacey sci-fi missive via email that inexplicably gets snapped up by Hollywood. Vanessa gets her groove back on a spiritual retreat to holy caves in India. If you are intrigued by this sometimes maddening journey, by all means, overcome your fears.