Book Reviews by Genre


Fiction

Contemporary Fiction

Portrait of a Thief

Grace D. Li

Five Chinese American college students try to steal priceless works of art from major museums in order to return them to the homeland from which they were pillaged.

The Sign for Home

Blair Fell

When Arlo Dilly, a sheltered young DeafBlind man, decides to take a writing course at the local community college, he hires a new tactile ASL interpreter who exposes him to much more than English.

When I Ran Away

Ilona Bannister

When I Ran Away is an unforgettable first novel about love – for our partners, our children, our mothers, and ourselves – pushed to its outer limits.

The Santa Suit

Mary Kay Andrews

Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen after her divorce. Upon arriving at her new home, she discovers that the last family left all of their things, including a Santa suit complete with a Dear Santa letter in the pocket. Ivy takes it upon herself to figure out the mystery behind the letter as she acclimates to her new small town life.

At the Edge of the Haight

Katherine Seligman

Maddy Donaldo, homeless at twenty, has made a family of sorts in the dangerous spaces of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. It’s the only home she has. When she unwittingly witnesses the murder of a young homeless boy and is seen by the perpetrator, her relatively stable life is upended. Suddenly, everyone from the police to the dead boys’ parents want to talk to Maddy about what she saw.

After Perfect

Maan Gabriel

Gabby is getting a divorce after 20 years of being a housewife and having the perfect life with her childhood best friend. Single at 36 and without a plan, Gabby enrolls in a MFA program where she meets her hunky, mysterious professor Colt. Is Gabby destined for another heartbreak or will her connection with Colt unbreak her?

Once There Were Wolves

Charlotte McConaghy

Inti Flynn arrives in Scotland with her twin sister, Aggie, to lead a team of biologists tasked with reintroducing fourteen gray wolves into the remote Highlands. She hopes to heal not only the dying landscape, but Aggie, too, unmade by the terrible secrets that drove the sisters out of Alaska. Inti is not the woman she once was, either, changed by the harm she’s witnessed―inflicted by humans on both the wild and each other.

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

Emily R. Austen

Gilda, a 20-something, atheist, lesbian, cannot stop ruminating about death. Gilda stumbles into an interview for a receptionist job at a Catholic church and becomes obsessed with her predecessor’s mysterious death.

We Are the Brennans

Tracey Lange

We Are the Brennans explores the staying power of shame―and the redemptive power of love―in an Irish Catholic family torn apart by secrets.

Infinite Country

Patricia Engel

Rich with Bogotá urban life, steeped in Andean myth, and tense with the daily reality for the undocumented in America, Infinite Country is the story of two countries and one mixed-status family—for whom every triumph is stitched with regret and every dream pursued bears the weight of a dream deferred.

Girls with Bright Futures

Tracy Dobmeier & Wendy Katzman

Three moms. Three daughters. Each with a dream to attend Stanford. With one spot left at Stanford from their elusive private school, these moms do whatever it takes for their daughters to be the chosen ones. But how far will they go to ensure their daughter is admitted?

Outlawed

Anna North

In Outlawed, barren women are cast out of society or hanged as witches. Ada is one of those women. After being cast out from her home and all she has ever known, she ends up joining a group of outlaws.

Fantasy & Science Fiction

The Change

Kirsten Miller

Big Little Lies meets The Witches of Eastwick—a gloriously entertaining and knife-sharp feminist revenge fantasy about three women whose midlife crisis brings unexpected new powers—putting them on a collision course with the evil that lurks in their wealthy beach town.

The Younger Wife

Sally Hepworth

Someone is hurt at a wedding between a 60-something heart surgeon and his new 30-something bride. Was it an accident or purposeful?

Atomic Anna

Rachel Barenbaum

From the author of A Bend in the Stars, an epic adventure as three generations of women work together and travel through time to prevent the Chernobyl disaster and right the wrongs of their past.

The School for Good Mothers

Jessamine Chan

Frida Liu is struggling with her newly single motherhood. After some poor judgment on a very bad day, Frida’s custody of Harrier is at risk. But Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that that re-educates bad mothers and measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion. Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed and learn to be good.

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Graphic Novels

Maus

Art Spiegelman

Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. 

Montress: Awakening

Majorie Lu & Sana Takeda

𝘔𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘴 tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.

Horror

Beneath the Stairs

Jennifer Fawcett

A woman returns to her hometown after her childhood friend attempts suicide at a local haunted house—the same place where a traumatic incident shattered their lives twenty years ago.

Road of Bones

Christopher Golden

An American documentarian and his British cameraman travels a haunted highway across the frozen tundra of Siberia, collecting ghost stories and local legends along the way. Only, when Teig and his team reach their destination, they find an abandoned town, save one catatonic nine-year-old girl―and a pack of predatory wolves, faster and smarter than any wild animals should be.

Secret Santa

Andrew Shaffer

Lussi is out of work and desperate to find another job in publishing. A bizarre set of circumstances leads to her hire and a firm mandate: Lussi must find the next horror superstar to compete with Stephen King, Anne Rice, and Peter Straub. It’s the ’80s, after all, and horror is the hottest genre. But soon, her coworkers begin falling victim to horrific accidents and her secret Santa gift may be the cause.

The Lion’s Den

Katherine St. John

Belle likes to think herself immune to the dizzying effects of fabulous wealth. But when her best friend, Summer, invites her on a glamorous getaway to the Mediterranean aboard her billionaire boyfriend’s yacht, the only sensible answer is yes. Once she’s aboard the luxurious Lion’s Den, it soon becomes clear this jet-setting holiday is not as advertised.

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View by author, rating, or date

How I Rate Books

I provide an overall star rating at the end of reviews. I also conclude reviews with my thoughts on the book in totality.

All star ratings are broken down into the components I consider. These components are different for fiction and nonfiction.
– For fiction: writing, plot, and character development.
– For nonfiction: writing, cohesiveness, and storyline (for narrative nonfiction and memoirs) or organization (for more subject-matter focused nonfiction).

My Star Ratings

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I loved this book. It made me think AND feel. I will highly recommend this book to everyone and urge them to read it pronto.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I really enjoyed this book. It made me think OR feel, not both. I would highly recommend this book to nearly everyone.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

This is your average book, which I enjoyed. I would recommend it, possible with some caveats.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

I thought this book was okay. My overall thoughts can be summed up as meh. I may recommend this book to certain people.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I actively disliked this book or it was highly problematic. I am unlikely to recommend it.

Historical Fiction

Yellow Wife

Sadeqa Johnson

Pheby has lived a relatively sheltered like on a plantation, shielded by the master’s sister and her mother’s position. She has been promised freedom on her 18th birthday, but just before she turns 18 she is sent to the Devil’s Half Acre, a jail in Richmond, Virginia.

The Magnolia Palace

Fiona Davis

Formerly a sought-after artists’ model, Lillian is rudderless and desperate—the work has dried up and a looming scandal has left her entirely without a safe haven. So when she stumbles upon an employment as a private secretary at the Frick mansion—a building that, ironically, bears her own visage—Lillian jumps at the chance. The more deeply her life gets intertwined with that of the family—pulling her into a tangled web of romantic trysts, stolen jewels, and family drama that runs so deep, the stakes just may be life or death.

The Alice Network

Kate Quinn

Two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.

Harlem Shuffle

Colson Whitehead

Ray Carney is trying to establish himself as a business and family man. With cash tight and a baby on the way, Ray is convinced to help his cousin Freddie do one last heist. But can Ray keep himself straight or will this heist get him back in the game or killed?

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Literary Fiction

Black Buck

Mateo Askaripour

Black Buck is a crackling, satirical debut novel about a young man given a shot at stardom as the lone Black salesman at a mysterious, cult-like, and wildly successful startup where nothing is as it seems.

Anthem

Noah Hawley

A group of teenagers break out of a psychiatric facility amid a global suicide pandemic to bring a monster of a man to justice and rescue his prisoner. But this book is also so much more and an essential read.

No Land to Light On

Yara Zgheib

Hadi and Sama are a young Syrian couple living in Boston, expecting their first child, and chasing a bigger life. Suddenly, Hadi’s father dies in Jordan, and Hadi flies back for the funeral. Upon return to the U.S., Hadi discovers that the President has issued a travel ban for anyone from Syria, regardless of refugee or visa status. Will Hadi and Sama find a way back to each other?

Piranesi

Susanna Clarke

The strangest book you will ever love.

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Romance

Set on You

Amy Lea

A gym nemesis pushes a fitness influencer to the max in Amy Lea’s steamy debut romantic comedy.

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care

Ashley Herring Blake

Delilah Green returns to her hometown to photograph her stepsister’s wedding celebrations. What Delilah doesn’t expect is romance and friendship in a place she hated.

The Tourist Attraction

Sarah Morgenthaler

Nothing is going as planned on Zoey’s dream vacation to Alaska. But a grumpy local may be able to both turn her vacation around and bring some much needed romance into Zoey’s life.

Sadie on a Plate

Amanda Elliot

Just when Sadie thinks her culinary career is over, she gets a lucky break on her favorite TV show, Chef Supreme. On the plane to New York, Sadie has sizzling chemistry with her seatmate, Luke… who she cannot contact for 6 weeks due to filming.

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Young Adult

Pet

Akwaeke Emezi

In a near-future society that claims to have gotten ride of all monstrous people, a creature emerges from a painting seventeen-year old Jam’s mother created, a hunter from another world seeking a real-life monster.

It All Comes Back to You

Farah Naz Rishi

After Kiran Noorani’s mom died, Kiran vowed to keep her dad and sister, Amira, close—to keep her family together. But when Amira announces that she’s dating someone, Kiran’s world is turned upside down. Not only will Amira start tearing the family apart, she is dating Kiran’s ex-boyfriend’s brother – who ghosted her three years prior.

Firekeeper’s Daughter

Angeline Bouley

Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She dreams of a fresh start at college, but when family tragedy strikes, Daunis puts her future on hold to look after her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team. But Jamie is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into an FBI investigation of a lethal new drug.

Nonfiction

Biography & History

Memoir & Autobiography

Cost of Living

Emily Maloney

In Cost of Living, Emily Maloney examines her experiences with our the trouble U.S. health care system from both the perspective of a patient and a caregiver. In doing so, she examines what the health care system costs us – financially emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

A Thousand Naked Strangers

Kevin Hazzard

A Thousand Naked Strangers is a former paramedic’s account of his decade spent mostly working in a public hospital ambulance in Atlanta. While Hazzard does discuss some of the cases he encountered, this book is about his journey as a paramedic, connecting with others, and finding beauty in chaos.

Heart Berries

Terese Marie Mailhot

Heart Berries is a powerful memoir of one Indian woman’s struggle with her past, her present, and her ghosts. Written as a letter to her husband, Terese Marie Mailhot grapples with her traumatic upbringing, mental illness, and shame.

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Narrative Nonfiction

Taking Down Backpage

Maggy Krell

In Taking Down Backpage, veteran California prosecutor Maggy Krell tells the story of the battle against Backpage. Through a combination of memoir and legal insight, Krell reveals how she and her team started with the prosecution of street pimps and ultimately ended with the takedown of the largest purveyor of human trafficking in the world.

Brothers on Three

Abe Streep

Brothers on Three follows the Montana State Champions – the Arlee Warriors – basketball team on the Flathead Indian Reservation, along with their teammates, coaches, and families, as they balance the pressures of adolescence, shoulder the dreams of their community, and chart their own individual courses for the future.

Humor

A Very Punchable Face

Colin Jost

From growing up in a family of firefighters on Staten Island to commuting three hours a day to high school, to attending Harvard while Facebook was created, to hosting Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live, Jost shares how he has navigated the world like a slightly smarter Forrest Gump.

Medicine

Science & Psychology

Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism

Amanda Montell

The author of the widely praised Wordslut analyzes the social science of cult influence: how cultish groups from Jonestown and Scientology to SoulCycle and social media gurus use language as the ultimate form of power.

Social Issues

What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat

Aubrey Gordon

Aubrey Gordon unearths the cultural attitudes and social systems that have led to people being denied basic needs because they are fat and calls for social justice movements to be inclusive of plus-sized people’s experiences.

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