PositivePittsburgh Post-GazetteLong Bright River’s authenticity stems from its attention to details. The Kensington neighborhood is vividly described ... There is convincing attention to the particulars of police work, both routine and investigative ... The novel also paints a haunting picture of an addict’s life that moves beyond the usual crime-solver clichés. Drug users are portrayed as complex human beings with the same emotional and spiritual needs as the non-addict ... Most of all, Long Bright River is a portrait of Mickey’s soul. Subdued, almost stilted prose is used to convey Mickey’s inner and outer struggle to maintain control over her professional and personal life, all while watching her sister crumble ... Mickey’s conscious attempts to suppress her emotions, with no real insight into the negative impact this has upon her and the people she loves, is painful to read and, as readers become invested in her story, painful to experience ... Mickey’s journey through the darkness, striving for light, is one that is not easily dismissed or forgotten.
MixedPittsburgh Post-GazetteMr. Hamill creates a world where it’s hard to know who the good guys are ... The misty border between what is assumed and what is actually true about all creatures—human or not—provides this novel with its most interesting moments ... As intriguing as the premise of Cosmology of Monsters may be, the execution of the story often obstructs the satisfaction that could have been achieved by more consistent development of characters and plot ... The information could have been provided in a less intrusive and more believable manner through the use of a more credible narrative device. It’s a relief when Noah switches to chronicling events as they unfold, but the story itself doesn’t significantly improve. The tale switches between a horror story about monsters possessing his family to a narration of familial love and dysfunction. There are chapters that read more like a young adult coming-of-age tale, but interspersed with weird adult romance and sexuality. Mr. Hamill may want his novel to be all of these things. But that feat is not accomplished. The never-ending, often abrupt shifts in tone do not permit readers to settle into and become enthralled with—or even simply enjoy—the story. There are some very nice passages in Cosmology ... More boldness and cohesion throughout this novel would have made it a far more compelling read.
PositivePittsburgh Post-GazetteThe story develops over these decades in a non-chronological fashion, through time shifts that are occasionally jarring and sometimes used as a device to make the novel appear more complicated and suspenseful than necessary. Ms. Lombardo is a talented writer who has created a believable, multifaceted family and has also provided readers with enough bona fide plot twists to keep them turning pages. A more linear narrative, or at least longer pauses between time jumps, would have enhanced the experience ... Although traversing some similar territory, Ms. Lombard does not write in the style of Anne Tyler and the Sorensons are definitely not the Waltons. The dialogue is often profanely humorous and sexually frank ... Ms. Lombardo unabashedly votes for the family as the final arbiters of normalcy. If you love and support each other enough, then any other definition of normal becomes irrelevant.
RavePittsburgh Post-GazetteThrough cinematically detailed descriptions of the harbor, hoodlums and hotels of Marseille, intricate details of life in collaborationist France, and multilayered, nuanced characters both real and imagined, Orringer has breathed life into 1940 France ... The novel is thoroughly researched ... Although The Flight Portfolio is written in the style of the mid-20th-century literary novel, its treatment of racial and sexual orientation issues is more modern ... Orringer unsparingly and poignantly compares the political lies and outrages occurring daily in Europe with the personal lies and outrages Fry and Grant must both endure and perpetrate in order to remain accepted members of society ... The Flight Portfolio compellingly juxtaposes the conflicts and tragedies of a world at war with the equally compelling inner wars of the human soul. This complex interweaving of personal and public, fact and fiction, is so smooth as to be nondiscernible.
PositivePittsburgh Post-Gazette\"... a promising debut ... Because Freefall is a suspense novel, more drama than \'will she or won’t she get home\' is required. The author delivers ... Initially, Allie’s voice is effectively conveyed through short, staccato stream-of conscious bursts ... But after only a few pages, Allie disappointingly morphs into a straightforward first-person narrator ... Had the author been able to maintain Allie’s terse inner monologue through her present struggles, the tone of the entire novel would have been intensified and enhanced ... Some readers may grow impatient or feel manipulated by the pace while others may be intrigued by the slow leak of information. If readers stay with the book they will be rewarded; the ending resolves the essential issues and, as an added bonus, provides an unexpected and satisfying twist.\
Dacre Stoker & J. D. Barker
PositivePittsburgh Post-GazetteMr. Barker’s skills in creating suspense and his ability to graphically describe horrifying details of death and dismemberment are apparent ... But while Dracul starts with a bang and ends well, there is a noticeable lag in the long middle. Like many modern novels, suspense is sometimes conveniently manufactured by manipulating time ... at the appropriate moment, the action switches to an event that happened several years earlier or later. To their immense credit, the authors have created a stand-alone book. Dracul can be read without any knowledge of Dracula, or knowledge of any other vampiric tale. However, the more you know, the more apparent are the layers and nuances added by these authors. They have skillfully interwoven characters, themes and settings from the original novel into their book.
MixedPittsburgh Post-Gazette\"Is this straddling of the line between memoir and fiction successful? Regardless of genre, page after page of flower-power musing, such as \'The Supreme Gift, called Love, will make you an instrument of My words, the words I’ve not spoken but which you understand. The silence will teach you. … The silence may be translated into words, because this will be your destiny, but when this happens, seek no explanations, and urge others to respect the Mystery,\' may leave some readers delighted but others dejected. And even for readers who rejoice in mystical, philosophical reflection, these spiritual ramblings may not be a convincing substitute for strong plot and thematic lines, compelling characters and unique insights into the world described.\
PanThe Pittsburgh Post-Gazette\"Initially, Eve is a convincing, sympathetic heroine. She shows insight into the demise of her marriage and non-cliché self-awareness that, in the marital tango, her own missteps have contributed to its downfall … Even with the last half of the novel devoted more to hook-ups than plot or character development, Mr. Perrotta could have veered away from farce and redeemed this book by allowing his characters, and therefore his readers, to gain some wisdom from the various sexual shenanigans and gender-bending encounters. But the final chapter of the novel is jarring: It takes place several months later and Eve’s friends, along with her new sexual appetites, have inexplicably drifted away into what almost feels like an editorially dictated demand for a conservative, happy ending.\
MixedThe Pittsburgh Post-GazetteSarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes is an ambitious novel that combines genres, beginning as chick-lit, moving swiftly toward suspense and ending with a surprise fantasy bang … The story is told through an inventive use of two point-of-view protagonists. Adele and Louise provide differing perspectives on events and also present alternate versions of obsessed-over David, the third leg of their triangle … But Ms. Pinborough does not create real suspense where the reader and protagonist are in the dark together, mutually uncovering clues and discovering truths … Ms. Pinborough finally lets loose, providing the most unexpected, compelling plot development of the entire novel. If you are willing to suspend disbelief, this great, unpredictable plot twist may be enough to redeem what is otherwise just one more adequately constructed book.
MixedThe Pittsburgh Post-GazetteIt’s a plain, rather adolescent world the Vinegar Girl inhabits, notwithstanding Ms. Tyler’s trademark compelling domestic details and witty asides ... If Kate was 13, her behaviors and lack of awareness would be understandable; at 29, one wonders about her psychological profile ... Rude, disaffected teenaged girls can take inspiration from this tale; everyone else can simply enjoy a simple, well-crafted story.
PositivePittsburgh Post-GazetteMyth, truth, or somewhere in between, Ms. Brooks creates dramatic, sensual narrative.