MixedLibrary JournalThe story is told in alternating chapters by Brian, Sharon, and Jess, but unfortunately all three voices are strikingly similar, and at times Sickels explains the characters’ motivations and feelings rather than letting the characters speak for themselves. In addition, the community is portrayed as universally intolerant, and while it’s true that the disease was hard to fathom, this depiction seems to distill the gay and straight characters to a simplistic dichotomy of good and bad ... A touching, sad, and important book, but sturdier editing would have helped to take it to another level. Libraries with large LGBTQ collections will want, but novels such as Rebecca Makkai’s The Great Believers and Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty delve into the subject with more success.
PositiveLibrary JournalMcBride tells that story with a light hand and throughout emphasizes a desire for connection ... Hard though life is, community binds the characters together ... Much is unpacked by the time the book reaches its lovely and heartfelt climax, as McBride shows what can happen when people set aside their differences. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Jacqueline Woodson and Spike Lee.
MixedLibrary JournalUnlike most Iraq war novels, this work delves deeply into the lives of Iraqi civilians and the toll the invasion has taken on their families, their careers, and society at large. It also provides an interesting look into the high-pressure world of journalism. Unfortunately, Murphy\'s ambition gets the best of him in the lengthy prefatory history of both Rita\'s and Nabil\'s families, ultimately diluting the more powerful aspects of the novel ... Distinctive in his look at Iraq, Murphy can also be strident as he touches upon foreign intervention, gun control, Far Right conspiracy theorists, the taboo of being gay in the Middle East and much more. How readers view the book may depend on how they feel about these issues themselves.
Daniel Kehlmann, Trans. by Ross Benjamin
PositiveLibrary JournalMuch of the action may be hard for contemporary readers to believe, but Kehlmann does an excellent job of presenting the era’s horrors in a manner that is not sensationalistic, and to his credit manages to infuse some sly humor into events as Tyll’s way of coping ... The nonlinear time line may puzzle, and readers unfamiliar with late 16th-century European politics may find many of the references confusing. In the end, this retelling of a famous German legend will work best for niche readers who appreciate a challenge, portrayals of feudal society reminiscent of Jim Crace’s excellent Harvest, or, Game of Thrones–style gore.
PositiveLibrary JournalSimilar to Crummey’s Sweetland as it delves into the minutiae of life on a northerly island, this novel can be tough going at times, but fans of narrative travel writing will appreciate Crummey’s descriptive flourishes. The relentless bleakness is alleviated by the cinematic depiction of the surrounding wilderness, with Crummey’s prose recalling that of Jim Crace in its strange, archaic terminology and sense of timelessness, and the conclusion is strangely moving.
PositiveLibrary JournalSmith tries to cover too much territory, but Ballard is finely rendered, and there are quite a few edge-of-your-seat moments. Recommended to fans of Graham Moore\'s The Last Days of Night and Amor Towles\'s The Gentleman from Moscow.
Adam Ehrlich Sachs
RaveLibrary JournalThings can be perplexing at first, but once you realize what Sachs is up to, a certain rhythm and theme becomes explicit ... filled with delightful tales of palace intrigue, sibling rivalry, and extensive forays into empirical thought and logic. Deep philosophy is applied to nearly everything that pops up, including the eating of soup. Yet despite these heavy themes, Sachs applies a liberal does of clever humor throughout; nearly everyone is a charlatan in what might be the most lighthearted work about the history of science ever published ... Great fun and notable for its singular style, playful tone, and sense of economy (Sachs covers a huge amount of ground in just over 200 pages), this impressive debut is for fans of George Saunders and Vladimir Nabokov.