RaveSeattle Book ReviewThe wedding of Sarah and Ali is a joining of two hearts and two families; it should be a joyous occasion, but the families are feuding and the unrest in Iran 2009 keeps the couple apart just as they are beginning their lives together. Their story is at the heart of Ehsaneh Sadr’s beautiful novel A Door Between Us ... A Door Between Us is an intriguing and detailed read that explores the culture and a pivotal political moment with which many Americans are not familiar. The book tells a tale of truth, family, and justice with a beautiful love story at its heart.
RaveThe San Francisco Book ReviewAs Maguire has so often done before with books like Wicked and Mirror Mirror, A Wild Winter Swan is a delight of fantasy and the grotesquely beautiful in all of us.
RaveManhattan Book ReviewIn Karen Russell’s recently reprinted novella, Sleep Donation , time is running out for Trish to do the right thing ... Twisted, strange, and beautiful, like all of her other work, Sleep Donation from Karen Russell is not to be missed.
Bobbie Ann Mason
RaveManhattan Book ReviewThe structure of the book is challenging at first, but once the story of young Ann moves to Stanford, it is hard not to get caught up in the energy of the Summer of Love. Ann’s life, as it was and is and could have been, is a perfect cypher for human experience as we age. We question if we have done all we can, reckon with the moments we’ve failed, and agonize over choices that weren’t as brave as we wish ... One of the purest joys of the book, though, is in Ann’s area of study: English. For English majors, or those enamored with their survey courses in college, or the average bibliophile, the literary references and jokes are an absolute joy ... Dear Ann is an engrossing and beautiful book that gives on every page.
PositiveSeattle Book Review... a lesson in observation and expression that seeks to move people to action and understanding ... there is a through line regarding Amos’s connection to what she calls the Muses and moments when she writes of communicating with the spirit of her dead mother that may put off readers uncomfortable with these New Age references. If, however, you want to read and revel in the creation of one of the most influential careers in alternative music of the last four decades, Resistance is the book for you.
RaveManhattan Book ReviewA clear inspiration to Doty, the book documents the relationship he feels with Whitman on the poetic and personal levels—a distinction that is nearly imperceptible as one is part of the other. As gay men, Whitman and Doty both navigated worlds that attempted to close them in. But their art and will and pure need to live authentically rendered them free. Doty draws the lines of that freedom with clarity and grace in What is the Grass ... As a teacher who has taught Whitman for nearly twenty years, and as a poet who loves both him and Doty, this book is a pure joy. But even those who have not read either writer can find something of themselves in Doty’s latest. It articulates the understanding we all share, the clear and direct connection between each of us that Whitman lived and breathed, and of which Doty now reminds us.
RaveThe San Francisco Book Review... a brilliant and magnificent work of pain, progress, and power ... Coates has taken the story of slavery, the Underground Railroad, and the horrific oppression of black people at the hands of whites, and turned it into an allegory for what we are capable of when we own our own stories and memories. The power of The Water Dancer lies in that reclamation, and it is a novel we need right now.
RaveThe Manhattan Book ReviewJust as the country grapples with the #MeToo movement, Lisa Lutz delivers a stab to the heart ... Set before social media became ubiquitous for teens, The Swallows capitalizes on the corners of the web that used to be where venom went to hide. As you read the book, you almost long for the days when misogyny was on the down-low ... For anyone who dreams of a day when \'boys will be boys\' is a thing of the past and sexual politics are equal, The Swallows is a rallying cry.
RaveThe San Francisco Book ReviewThese two stories illustrate the lengths to which those who are desperate will go to survive, even as the near-desert landscape seems to conspire against them. Part old-west novel, part document of the American experience, readers are taken on a journey they are not soon to forget in Obreht’s Inland.
RaveSan Francisco Book ReviewWhether you know her music or not, Ani Difranco’s memoir No Walls and the Recurring Dream is a compelling read. For those who’ve been listening to her for years, like me, it is an intimate look at someone you may think you know—from her music—but you really don’t ... Readers who expect page after page of epiphany will be disappointed; this isn’t that kind of book. Rather it is the soul of the writer laid bare as it formed ... She leaves you wanting more, so when you finish No Walls and the Recurring Dream you’re ready to start over with her.
RaveThe San Francisco Book ReviewAt each turn, the illustrations in this graphic memoir are filled with joy. Even as Malaka grapples with the difficulties she encounters, she is a curious, funny, and kind protagonist who you can’t help but root for and celebrate as you read. I Was Their American Dream is an excellent representation of a very particular way of growing up in America that is, even in its uniqueness, absolutely relatable and universal.
RaveThe San Francisco Book Review... pitch-perfect tension ... Russell presents real people struggling to find peace in worlds gone mad ... Russell’s prior books rattle with the same urgency and wit, but there is a sharpness in Orange World that pierces more deeply than her novels ... The stories in Orange World are not light and fluffy; they require attention and focus and introspection. This may be the greatest gift of Karen Russell’s collection: by making us confront the surreal, she dares us to look closer at ourselves.
Tatyana Tolstaya, Trans. by Anya Migdal
PositiveThe Manhattan Book Review\"Fans of the austere and detailed writing of Chekhov, Gogol, and Tolstoy will feel right at home while reading Tolstaya’s eighteen stories ... There are places in the text that feel a bit off, as though the translation from Russian to English resulted in some lost nuances. But, if you’re looking for an engaging, thought-provoking collection of stories that will feel both foreign and familiar, Aetherial Worlds is the book for you.\