I absolutely adored this novel, filled with such fantastic characters that I'm crossing my fingers there will be a sequel with Quinn & Carter. I'm not sure how much you'd have to pay me to relive my teen years without the benefit of hindsight in the age of social media- something in the low zillions, I believe - but this author absolutely nails the tensions, anxiety, and drama of high school. Beautifully nuanced for the more complex issues, too, like the privilege and racism that stalk the hallways of this elite prep school. And as for the romance? Well, it's utterly swoonworthy!
What a marvelously told tale of grief and loss. The prose style feels both assured and fresh, hardly the hallmark of a first time writer. About halfway through the memoir, my empathy kicked into overdrive and remained there through the end. And talk about great food writing! I'd never heard of most of the foods she describes, but reading about the creating and eating of those dishes left me famished and wanting to seek out the closest Korean restaurant to explore those flavors.
This was the propulsive first read for the new year, perfect for putting 2020 out of my mind. My customers are going to be gaga over this novel, as they're obsessed with witchcraft and historical fiction.
I wasn't always sure where Katherine Heiny was headed in this novel, but I'm sure glad that I was along for the entire ride. I love stories of small town folks with their quirks and mundane heroics - they're full of heart and great reminders of the potential we have to change the lives of the people around us in ways both large and small.
I think this book is just about perfect. I love the way Ellie grew over the course of the book - learning productive ways to stand up to bullying is a lesson we could all use, I think. The pacing was great, and I especially loved Ellie's two friendships. I'll be recommending this to SO MANY READERS.
The inimitable Ishiguro writes again! A new novel from the Nobel prize winning author is always worth celebrating, and this is no exception. While not set in the same world, Klara reads as a lovely companion piece to Never Let Me Go, taking a deep dive into the question of what the human experience really means. This novel is as haunting an answer as I've ever read.
I love to travel, and this book let me be an armchair traveler to some of my favorite places on earth (the British Virgin Islands, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Grenada) during a year when nobody was doing much of any travel - I'll always be grateful for that! Whether you like romance, sailing,or travel, this book has something to offer you and if, like me, you happen to enjoy all three, then you've hit the jackpot!
I liked the evocation of mental illness here, and I think the author nails the highs and lows of what it's like to love somebody who isn't neurotypical.
I devoured this story of a London artist (past his heyday) who rents out his home on a website similar to AirBnB in order to make ends meet. Starting over in late middle age takes a special kind of bravery, as does falling in love, and Russo celebrates these quotidian bits of courage on every page. Lots of wonderful bits of London color, art, and human insight to boot. A most impressive debut!
I read this in the closing days of 2020 after a particularly hard December - little did I know that this was just the book I needed. Lindy West's critiques are spot-on and outrageously funny.
Fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and magic all intersect in this engrossing tale. In a world where men have banned the use of witchcraft to thwart women's power, sisters Juniper, Agnes, and Bella must decide whether to tap into the magic they learned at their grandmother's knee. Drawing equally on magic, legend, and history, this book is so much fun!
The word "unique" is too often misused when describing titles, but I believe that this book is truly singular. Organized alphabetically by subject like the Yellow Pages of the phone books of yore, Call Me Ishmael is an interactive homage to literature, reading, and 21st century connectivity. Call the dedicated phone line to listen to anonymous readers describe the books that changed their lives, or dial a different extension to hear interviews with indie booksellers across the US or to leave your own anonymous love letter to a seminal book in your life. I also love how the book is peppered throughout with ads for literary landmarks, both real and imagined! This is a must-have title for any reader in your life.
Come for the body positivity, stay for the fanfiction! (Or vice versa.) I thoroughly enjoyed this one!
In this heartfelt, funny, touching memoir, Tan France, star of QUEER EYE tells his origin story for the first time. With his trademark wit, humor, and compassion, Tan reveals what it was like to grow up gay in a traditional South Asian family, and also as one of the few people of color in South Yorkshire, England. He illuminates his winding journey of coming of age, finding his style, and how he finally came out to his family at the age of 34, revealing that he was happily married to the love of his life—a Mormon cowboy from Salt Lake City. Combining just the right mix of gossip substance, Tan’s voice comes through loud and clear, producing a book is all about that while trying to live your best self.
Like her debut book Homegoing, the author’s sophomore novel is shaping up to be my favorite book published this year. This novel takes several deep dives: into exploring a complicated mother-daughter relationship, the abyss of addiction, the lived micro-aggressions of a racial minority experience, the age-old power struggle between religion and reason, and perhaps above all, transformative realization that neither science nor faith alone will ever be able to answer all of the questions that plague our human existence. This novel is amazing, but the writer herself is extraordinary.
The hardcover edition of this book is the only book I have on my coffee table! It's a must-read for anybody who is fascinated by language, particularly as it varies from one region to another.
The author's dialogue and reckoning with her rapist from 14 years earlier -- who was her close friend --- is provacotive, distressing, and brave. It reads like a two person Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It definitely made me uncomfortable at times, but I cannot stress enough how important this book is.
Some of today's best writers tell the story of their first important relationship -- their moms. Whether the essays are sad, surreal, or sweet, they are all singularly smart the way they explore the mother/child dynamic with clear-eyed openness and hard won wisdom.
I read this back to back with All Summer Long and thought that they were terrific additions to the burgeoning middle grade coming of age graphic novels cannon. I look forward to hand selling both of these.
This book made me feel as if the author had tapped into my deepest longings as a reader -- it is replete with secret societies, underground caverns, doors to other worlds, and agents sworn to protect the sanctity of storytelling. Absolutely no author is better at tiptoeing through the netherworlds between dreams and waking or between reality and imagination.
What happens when ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances? Best friends Neale and Cate discover much about themselves after a brutal assault, and their road to recovery is unexpectedly challenging. Anshaw is one of the most skilled, but under-read, authors of our time. Give theis one a try!
Alexandra Fuller’s writing is just as much a force of nature as the family she writes about. No other writer I know can turn the quotidian into the extraordinary the way she can. This was beautiful and heartbreaking.
Who could have predicted that the feel-good book of the year that we all needed was the unlikely story of a rescue donkey in need of a purpose? When the McDougall family rescues Sherman, he's so fragile he can barely walk, but love, determination, and luck prevail. This book is heart-warming and incredibly satisfying. I loved this book so much!
S. T. the crow knows that something is wrong with his human when Jim's eyeball falls out and no amount of beer or Cheetos can cure his lethargy. The streets of Seattle are no longer safe and the wilds of nature are creeping into the city limits when S. T. and his buddy Dennis the bloodhound decide to take action. They venture from neighborhood to neighborhood seeking answers and rescuing other pets that have been trapped inside their homes. I didn't think I needed another book about the zombie apocalypse, but I couldn't have been more wrong. This book is hilarious, raunchy, sly, outrageous, and grotesque, but it also packs a powerful message. It's Christopher Moore meets World War Z, plus Watership Down. If that sounds unlikely, you're right, but somehow it all works.
I loved this book so much! This novel is the perfect mixture of Marilynne Robinson's honest meditations on faith/doubt and Ann Patchett's flawed but deeply relatable characters. I love novels that grapple with issues of faith vs reason, and the ways these characters treat their differences with respect and dignity is an inspiration in our partisan times.
This book lured me in with its sly premise of exploring the unconventionality of three women’s sexual desire: Lina, a suburban homemaker, is a decade into a passionless marriage when she embarks on an all-consuming affair. Sloane, a glamorous restaurateur in the northeast, is married to a man who likes to watch her have sex with other people. Maggie, a high school student in North Dakota, is seduced by her English teacher. At its core, though, this book is an honest, occasionally painful, narrative whose heart beats time with the age of feminism and *that* is what kept me feverishly turning these pages.
The intersection of opulence, the beautiful people, conspicuous consumption, and layers of racism & classism - perfect recipe for a breezy summer read. I loved the footnotes that were gossipy and informative by turn, and the overlay of A Room With a View was a nice bonus.
A case of mistaken identity lands college-bound Elwood at Nickel Academy, a boys reform school in the Jim Crow south. Rampant corruption and institutionalized violence are the hallmarks of his new life in a place where boys who resist are taken "out back" and never seen again. Based on a real juvenile reformatory in Florida, this novel draws modern parallels between Jim Crow and our times, all wrapped up in gorgeous prose. This is one of the most important novels to be published this year.
Jessica Burnstein, high profile LA attorney, accompanies her reluctant daughter, Emily, on a cross-country college tour. They share the narrative, but it's their darkly funny internal monologues that carry the story. I enjoyed this book so much! Though I’m the mom’s age, I related equally to both the mom’s and daughter’s point of view. Funny, poignant, and emotive.
What a terrific book - I totally loved Liz Lighty and her friends. Fabulous cast of characters, great intersectionality, perfectly captures the peaks and the agonies of high school. Adding in a little romance to boot made it just about perfect.
The glamour of old Hollywood and the glitter of the Italian Riviera form the backdrop of this lush novel where fact and fiction converge. Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and others of the literati spring to life through the eyes of narrator Frank Merlo. Frank reflects on a lifetime of being in the shadow of greatness, pondering over the years through a haze of nostalgia whether it is more noble to have loved deeply, or to have been loved deeply. The author's meditations on art, inspiration, genius, and love provide psychological depth and human insight in this beautifully crafted novel.
This chronicle of a group of friends who rent a home in exclusive Montauk for the summer is as tantalizing as a lemon ice after a sultry day at the beach. Although the hedonistic self-destruction of these uber-privileged characters is about as far from my own experience (or, frankly, my typical reading interests) as I can imagine, this book wholly captivated me. Glynn’s evocation of place and brilliant metaphorical language had me hooked from the beginning.
What happens when a Meet Cute becomes a Missed Connection? Arthur is spending one glorious summer in New York City when he runs into Ben (literally), who is on his way to mail a box of stuff back to his ex-boyfriend. They reluctantly go their separate ways, but the interest that sparks between them soon compels them to seek a second meeting, despite the odds and not even knowing each other’s name. With the help of a fabulous supporting cast of friends, Arthur and Ben figure out in funny and delightfully awkward ways whether the universe is trying to bring them together...or keep them apart. This novel is a fun and frothy romance with just the right amount of substance that also serves as a love letter to NYC itself.
Pulling off a coming of age for three generations of a family is no small feat and Straub manages it with style. Whether we have family who aren’t really friends, or friends who are definitely family, we all need second chances at forgiveness, not least of all for ourselves.
Something mysterious and tragic strikes when a family of four trade their ordinary life for a sailboat adventure on the high seas. Juliet's narrative, told in retrospect, intersperses with her husband's captain's log to drive the plot forward. This is a truly fine piece of writing and I hope that this book is the tipping point for Amity, finally giving her the wider readership that she so demonstrably deserves.
Lara is only 19 when she decides on a whim to enter the world's toughest horse endurance race. An old soul whose outlook on life is equal parts poetry and stubborness, she narrates with unnerving honesty and self-awareness. Adventure fans and armchair travellers will love this compelling and unlikely story of triumph.
What do you get when you cross an Alabama debutante with an Upper East Side socialite and world-class poker player? You get Harlan Ellis's Southern Lady Code, delivering home truths with an iron fist wrapped in a cashmere glove.
The most captivating character from The Odyssey finally gets her story! Miller must surely posess the Midas touch to burnish these ancient tales to such a shine that they cast light upon our contemporary lives, longings, and loves. The classics are not dead with Miller at the helm. BRAVA!
What happens to the Harry Potters of the world after they save it? More than a decade after Sloane and her friends save the world from the Dark One, settling into a daily routine that isn't defined by danger and survival seems surreal. Now in their twenties, they're trying to normalize their lives when the unthinkable happens: they're sucked into a parallel world where they must battle the Dark One again. This time, though, Sloane is cynical enough to challenge authority each step of the way, leaving her to question whether the government has the moral right to demand their service. This novel is fast-paced and full of action with a sardonic anti-heroine who is absolutely riveting.
Fun and funny epistolary novel. A little bit light, perfect for those looking for an easy read. I’m glad my coworker recommend I read this!
This is a totally propulsive read! Perfect combo of Agatha Christie meets Chris Bohjalian. Filled with complicated characters whose motives are as hidden from themselves as they are from the reader. This book is perfect for fans of mysteries, courtroom dramas, and family intrigues alike!
This is easily one of the best and most relatable essay collections I have ever read. If you have ever struggled with feeling "less than" as a parent, student, spouse, employee, or just plain human being, this book will speak to you, too. It is funny, warm, and very reassuring!
When Alexis's boyfriend disappears under mysterious circumstances on a cycling tour of Vietnam, the puzzle pieces just don't fit together. She picks at each unraveling thread until she is dismayed to discover that a certain NY doctor may be trafficking in germ warfare using lab rats. This global thriller serves up chills and compelling characters in equal measure, and the ending was so horrifying that I lay awake until nearly dawn imagining the Four Rats of the Apocalypse!