In with the Old, the New, the Good and the Bad.

23 Jan

Hello, 2021! I know it looks like this year has started off with a bang – but only a few of these were really enjoyable! There were a few big letdowns. I’ve also read more backlist (older books, not published this year) so far this year than all of last year. Here are my faves:

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Set in 1660 and about the Plague – doesn’t maybe seem like the best book to read during a pandemic but sheesh I really liked it! It’s the story of a small town that decides to quarantine themselves from the rest of the world and let the plague run its course – an unheard of decision in that time. Had a good twist at the end – lots of strong women, a little bit of witch-suspicion…I liked it. 4.5 stars!

Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny. This one doesn’t come out until April – but trust me you’re going to want to put it on your library queue or pre-order it now. So good and uplifting and funny – it’s the story of a teacher in a small town who falls for this cute older guy Duncan. The only downside to being in love with him is that he’s had “relationships” with nearly every other woman she comes across! Oh and he has an ex-wife who is super involved in his personal business. The characters (there are lots) are endearing and humorous…universally good read. 4.5 stars!

Thirdly, another backlist title – Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone. I know I’m late to this and people have been recommending it for a long time. I found it so engrossing. I have a friend who found it to be super slow – but for some reason I flew right threw it. Set in Alaska, this one is about a young girl who lives with her mother and father. Their relationship is…well…awful. Her father is abusive, he clearly suffers from PTSD from his time in Vietnam. He moves them to this remote town in Alaska…things go from there. Definitely not Literature, but more like “beach read – but make it cold and dark with some serious depression.” 4 stars

Landslide by Susan Conley is out 2/2/21 and I really enjoyed this one too – another cold setting but Maine this time. This reminded me of J Courtney Sullivan (weirdly remembering now she had a book titled Maine) and a little bit of early Maggie O’Farrell. This is the story of Jilly as she tries to balance life between her two (needy, troubled, normal) teenage sons and her injured husband. This one felt like such a real portrayal of what life with teenagers must be like! 4 stars

Now we’re to the “meh” books I’ve read so far this year. I’ll try to briefly sum up:

The Duke and I – clearly I’m on the Bridgerton bandwagon and had to read this book before watching the series. It’s the first in a long series and I have to say – the show was better/different/less annoying. I don’t mind a good romance novel once in a while – I found the issues in this to be silly/irritating. There are NO other stories lines outside of Daphne and the Duke. No Eloise, no Penelope, no Queen or Prince or seamstress or brother’s mistress. Just Daphne and the Duke. I enjoyed the first half while they were pretending to be together – everything after they marry was cringe-worthy. 3 stars

The Prophets – just came out and is getting lots of buzz. I thought it was too Literary for me – I struggled to keep up and didn’t really feel connected to any of the characters and I think I’m a character person at heart. 3 stars

The Midnight Library – such a clever/new premise about a library in the moment between life and death where you can see what your life might have looked like if you’d made any single choice differently. Reminded me of Oona Out of Order but I think I liked that one better – this one had toooooo many life cycles in it. 3.5 stars

Send for Me is also out 2/2/21 – a WWII story that is not quite a WWII story – or at least not in the way you think. It’s the story of three generations of mothers and daughters and the sacrifices they all make for love.

The Wives I inhaled in a night – suspense but, I thought, overall kind of mindless. If you like a good thriller this one would definitely suck you in. My book club has been passing it around and it’s been liked by everyone so far – just not a lot of substance. 3 stars

And then there were the Agatha Christies. My grandmother passed The Murder of Roger Ackroyd on to me and I thought it was great. She was such an innovator in terms of plotting. Then I followed that up with a contemporary novel about Agatha Christie (The Mystery of Mrs Christie) – one that goes back and forth between her falling in love with her husband and the time years later that she disappeared for 10 days. DON’T google her to find out what really happened, it ruined the suspense for me. Both of these are in the 3.5 to 4 star range.

Phew that was a lot.

Top Ten Litpicks of 2020

13 Dec

Top Ten Litpicks of 2020! gosh I am glad to see this year on its way out. I read 55 books this year, not my best but definitely not my worst. I had a hard time finishing books the second half of the year. Thankfully, most of what I read was great. I think the first six books I read in 2020 made the list. Here they are:

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell I loved so very much. She’s one of my most favorite authors and this was her first (!!) attempt at historical fiction. Based on the life of William Shakespeare’s wife, Agnes. 5 enthusiastic stars.

Lily King is another of my all-time faves, I think her novel Euphoria would make my top ten of the decade. Writers & Lovers was also awesome – a contemporary story about an aspiring writer. This book will make YOU want to write a book, it’s so masterful. 5 stars!

When Time Stopped is the only non-fiction title on my list, and it certainly reads like a novel. Or like a movie that would make you cry. It’s the story of a woman tracing her family’s story back to WWII Germany. She does an incredible job researching and every discovery was like a cliffhanger – I thought this was so well done. And the last scene will stick with me for a long time. 5 stars

Fresh Water for Flowers is a looooong novel, set in France about a woman who is the caretaker for a graveyard. We get to learn her history, interspersed with the stories of the people who come to visit the graves of loved ones in her cemetery. If you’ve liked other Europa titles (My Brilliant Friend, Elegance of the Hedgehog) you’ll like this as well. 5 stars!

Long Bright River – a detective story, murder mystery but also a literary family story. Really has a little bit of everything and I was up late finishing it. Nail-biter! 4.5 stars

I stumbled upon Nina Berkhout’s Why Birds Sing completely by accident and I am oh-so-glad I did. I loved this novel so much, such a feel good story without being saccharine or one-note. An established (but young) opera singer loses her voice, embarrassingly, in the middle of a performance and is sort of floating around aimlessly at home, awkwardly dancing around her husband. When his estranged brother shows up deathly ill and asking to live with them, the story takes a turn that is charming and uplifting but also very…real? Really good. 5 stars!

Migrations came out to lots of hype – people comparing it to Station Eleven left and right. I loved Station Eleven so much, and I loved this one too but think the only tie between the two of them is the setting (…the not-so-distant-future…). This story is set in the not-to-distant future where, because of climate change and other global catastrophes, animals are dying. So many animals are going extinct and things are grim. Franny Stone is on a mission to find the last group of Arctic Terns and to follow them through what likely will be their last migration south. So lovely, so well written. 4.5 stars

I am no longer surprised to have a top ten dominated by women writers. I read more women writers, plain and simple. I always promise myself to work on it in the next year, but I think the last three years I’ve only had one male writer on my list. Here is the one for this year! Another lengthly novel, similar in theme to Migrations. In Greenwood, a young woman is working as a tour guide in one of the last forested areas in the world. Trees and animals have been dying, and her workplace (a forest) has become a destination vacation for the wealthy. Come, breath fresh air! remember what outside smells like! Each section moves further back in this woman’s family story – from her to her father, to her grandmother, to her great-grandfather and then it works its way out again, from past to present. This one grew on me slowly, but it is definitely one of my most memorable reads this year. 4.5 stars

Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half was one of the buzziest books of the year. Worth they hype! About twin sisters whose lives split apart, one sister remaining in her small hometown and the other passing herself off as a white woman in a wealthy city-suburb. 5 stars

The Mercies is on my post from yesterday. Dark, atmospheric. 4.5 stars!

Happy holidays!

Quick Catch-up

12 Dec

I’m working on my Top Ten Litpicks post and realized I had a few to catch up on. Here’s what I’ve been reading the last two months. I really enjoyed them all! The Last House Guest is a straight up thriller that would be at the bottom of this stack – it was good but the others were just so good!

I finished Leave the World Behind last night – I loved it but would have NOT loved it any earlier in the pandemic. It’s the story of a family that rents an AirBnB in the Cap cod area, but so far away from any large town that there is hardly any cell reception. A few days into their stay, they are woken in the night to someone banging on the door of their rental. It’s an elderly couple who claim that they are the owners of the house and that something terrible has happened in a Station Eleven type way. Is it true? are they lying? has the world as they know it disappeared???? Oh it was good. Don’t read if you suffer from odontophobia. 4.5 stars

The Mercies would be the other highlight of this great batch – set in Sweden in the 1600s and based on the true stories of the witch trials during that time. LOVED it, felt like Burial Rites by Hannah Kent or even a little bit like Circe in terms of general feel. Definitely dark, dark and gloomy but you know I love those. 4.5 stars

Looking for a great beach-type/Hallmark-movie read? The Flatshare was great. The blurb on the front says “the new Jojo Moyes” and that fits. 4 stars

Want some great character-driven fiction? Try Monogamy (the story of a marriage) or Memorial (the story of a relationship) or The Death of Vivek Oji (the story of two cousins). They were all so, so good. 4 stars all around.

Jeff Tweedy is my all time fave and I loved his memoir last year called Let’s Go, So We Can Get Back. I’ll probably read everything he ever writes. This was short, sweet and perfect for anyone how likes to create with words. Not for everyone, but if you like him you’ll like it! 3.5 stars

Coming up next…Top Ten!

Last Books of Summer

15 Oct

Well, friends, I meant to post some of these in August and then some others at the beginning of September. Better late than never!

My favorites of these are definitely The Vanishing Half and Nickel Boys. Nickel boys came out a year or two ago and if you missed it you should look into getting it. These two both have gotten so much buzz I don’t feel the need to sum them up. The second is pretty dark, deals with abuse and some other not pleasant things so be warned! Worth it! but heavy.

Second-tier favorites are Northernmost, Friends and Strangers and If I Had Your Face. They’re totally different and pretty similar all at once. Each takes place in a different time and place (late 1800s Norway, modern day upstate NY, Seoul), but each is a slow character novel driven by relationships (martial, professional, friendship). I love books like this, but sometimes find myself noticing that the plot is fairly……..slow.

I also read a series of thriller-type books this fall, trying to combat the slump I’ve been slipping into. Invisible Girl, Sometimes I Lie, Sisters and Luster all fall into this category. Lisa Jewell’s Invisible Girl is probably my favorite of the bunch – she has this amazing ability to take ordinary every day life and turn it into a real nail-biter.

Hopefully I’ll have a new batch to post soon! And in a more timely manner!

Another Fave of 2020

6 Oct

why birds

I’m writing this in April, quarantined in my home in the middle of the Corona shut down. So hopeful that when this comes out in October these days will be far behind us. I loved this novel and you might too. It’s the story of an opera singer in her early 30s whose voice “breaks” embarrassingly during a performance. She is sent home to recover and finds herself wandering into a sort of depression. Her husband, Ash, is constantly traveling or attending to his mother who lives nearby. One day she comes home to find her semi-estranged brother-in-law Tariq moving into the downstairs/basement with his giant parrot. Turns out he needs to stay with them while he undergoes chemo for stomach cancer. On top of this twist, she’s been asked to coach a ragtag team of competitive whistlers to fulfill her contract with the opera company. Sounds like the makings of a great novel, doesn’t it? Yes, it does. Loved this, loved it. Everything I like in a novel. 5 stars

Summer Days Part II

7 Jul

SO many good ones in this second half.

Greenwood was pretty long, but I loved the way it was set up. Starting in the near-distant future, we meet Jake Greenwood – a young woman living on an island that houses the last remaining forest in the world. Her job is to guide wealthy tourists into the great forest and let them breath the last remaining fresh air. We move from her story to the story of her father, a carpenter – and then to his mother’s story, a free spirit who renounced her fortune and travelled around protesting the destruction of forests. Finally, we move to HER father, a blind business tycoon who made his fortune in lumber. AND THEN you work your way back out again, having learned what you learn in the first half, we move back to Jake’s free-spirited grandmother, her father, and back to Jake herself. Initially I wasn’t too in love with this one, but the further I get from it the more I find myself thinking about it. 4.5 stars

Therese Ann Fowler typically writes spot-on historical fiction (like Zelda) and this contemporary story was a brilliant (and timely) departure for her. When a wealthy family razes a plot in this good neighborhood and builds a giant house complete with pool, the neighbors don’t seem too bothered. But the next door neighbor notices that the recent destruction of land/ground cover has injured the roots of an ancient tree on her property and is causing it to die. Oh, and her teenage son and the neighbor’s teenage daughter seem to be falling in love. Lots of drama right there, but tensions are increased because the teenage son is black and the neighbor’s daughter is white. Really good, really intense. 4 stars

I’m pretty sure Jenna Bush picked The Girl with the Louding Voice for her book club recently, and I can see why she did. Such a great story about a young woman, Adunni, in Nigeria struggling to get herself out of bad situations and into an education. There are a lot of really rough things that happen to her and around her and man I still think about her only friend, her sister-wife. Really loved it, 4.5 stars.

Another timely story, The Pull of the Stars, follows a 30yr old nurse Julia Powers during the 1918 flu epidemic. She is a mother/baby nurse for patients with the flu, crammed in what seems to be a room almost the same size as a utility closet. We see her struggle with her patients, desperate to provide care in an overcrowded hospital short-staffed due to illness. She has to learn to make her own decisions and comes to rely on an orphaned girl sent by the nuns to help her. Overall, I found this fast and interesting but (you know me) I wanted a big twist at the end and didn’t get it. 3.5 stars

Shiner is the one I finished just today and it filled that Appalachian lit place in my heart. I love stories set there and this one was no different. We start with Wren, daughter of a snake-charmer preacher. Her story was great but then we got her mother’s which was even better. Her mother Ruby lived up in the marshes of the mountain (not sure exactly what that means but it was referenced a lot) far from the town. The only family nearby was that of her best friend, Ivy. I loved reading about their friendship and they hardships that befell them, and the hardships they caused. This one had some nice quiet twists that I really appreciated/enjoyed. 4 stars

These last two novels may be my most favorite of the last 13. If I Had Your Face is the story of four different women who live in an apartment building in Seoul. Ara – obsessed with a boy-band singer, mute for some unknown reason, very invested in helping her roommate save for the extensive plastic surgery that she’s been dreaming of. Kyuri – a beautiful young woman who has the sought after position of “room girl” in a 10% salon (basically an escort at the place that brags to have the prettiest 10% of girls in Korea) but whose body is taking a toll (and her heart too). Miho, my favorite, an artist in the big city on scholarship, dating a wealthy playboy-type, and lastly Wonna. Wonna lives on the floor below those three, the only one who is married, desperate to have a baby but pretty sure she and her husband won’t be able to afford a child in their current economical situation. I really felt so invested in these women, like I knew them all. I wished I’d gotten to read farther into their lives. 5 stars

This last one doesn’t come out until Aug 4, 2020 but it’s been getting a bit of hype as the next Station Eleven. I think that alone will be enough to get her a good audience, but even without that comp I think it’s pretty great. Migrations is set in the future…I guess…it took me a minute to realize that, it feels so close. Basically the world has continued on the path that it’s on and many, many, many species have gone extinct. We meet Franny Stone, self-proclaimed wanderer, camped out in Greenland trying to locate a fishing vessel that will take her on a crazy mission – a mission to track the last known Arctic Terns on what will likely be their final migration. She has struck out with all of the captains she’s asked so far, but there is one captain she thinks might let her board. And he has a history, as do many of his crew. I really loved this story of migration and hope and despair. Plus all the bird imagery is lovely. 5 stars


Summer Days, Drifting Away

6 Jul

I finished a book today and wondered to myself if I’d read enough books to warrant another post…turns out I am way overdue! I’m splitting up the THIRTEEN books I want to tell you about – one post today, one tomorrow.

I’ve been half-heartedly trying to read from my unread shelf, and picked up A Little Life thinking I’d give it 40 pages or so and then move on. It’s gotten kind of polarizing reviews – some LOVE it, some HATE it and some hated to love it. It is prettttttty dark and depressing, but also just so great. It’s the story of four college roommates turned friends turned best friends. Everything revolves around one of the men, Jude, and his troubled past as it gets revealed slowly over the 720 pages. This is a heavy quarantine read, but I’m glad I read it though it was rough. 4.5 stars

One of the quarantine games I have been playing with myself is counting down the days until books I’m excited about are released. My niece and I have been waiting for this Hunger Games prequel since May of 2019 and finally it is here! I thought The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes was good. I was glad to be back in that world, but not totally wowed with the story. It makes sense, it was engaging, but it wasn’t Katniss. I did go back and watch all the movies and find myself picking up things Suzanne Collins had dropped in the prequel that I hadn’t noticed, which was fun. Overall, I’d recommend this to fans. 3.5 stars

A few years ago one of Lisa Jewell’s excellently plotted thrillers made my Top Ten Litpicks list… I still get the shivers thinking about how creepy and twisted I Found You was. After seeing some good reviews of The Family Upstairs I added it to my library list and was excited when it popped up on my email as available (for a curbside pick-up at my recently opened but not open to the public library). It was ok? It started out so strongly and was fast and easy and I was definitely invested but I thought the ending lacked the twists and turns that I have loved in her others. 3.5 stars

My book club picked City of Girls for our June book and I enjoyed it way more than I was expecting to. Perfect summer read about a young girl who moves in with her aunt in NYC after dropping out of college in the 1930s. Her aunt runs an off-broadway theater full of chorus girls and dramatic romances. This got mixed reviews from our group, I think I fell right in the middle. 3.5 stars

My Dark Vanessa was another 2020 buzz book – about a young woman dealing with life after a tumultuous affair with her high school english teacher. I feel like I’ve read a couple of these young girl/teacher stories (and young boy/teacher – TAMPA) and I always find them so interesting. This one, I though, did a great job of describing the struggle the young woman feels. To her, it was true love. And over the course of the novel we get to watch her realize the abusiveness/inappropriateness that was there all along. 4 stars

The Sea Wife straddles that line between thriller and literary fiction so beautifully – it’s the story of a family that takes to the sea for a year. The story starts with wife, in present day, trying to pick up the pieces of life after the voyage. We know something is wrong but not what that is. Chapters alternate between her present and then her husband’s “Captain’s Log” (man-code for journal) of the voyage. Pretty tense but very good! 4 stars





I’ve Been Waiting for you all Year

1 Jun

It’s June! That means two of my favorite books of the year are coming out so so soon. You don’t want to miss these!

Fresh Water for Flowers comes from Europa which means that it’s a translated work and also that it’s coming out in paperback. It’s the story of Violette Trenet (married name Touissant) and her career as the caretaker for a cemetery in France. It’s sort of slowly plotted, so if you need a fast moving story line this probably isn’t for you.  It felt like Elena Ferrante in a more succinct novel, if the focus had been a man-woman relationship instead of a friendship between two women. So many beautiful thoughts and ideas, and the plot did pick up towards the end. Highly recommend to anyone who likes slower-paced novels full of vivid imagery and lots of complicated relationships. 5 stars!

And then Hamnet, ooooh Hamnet. If you’ve never read Maggie O’Farrell you are missing out, she is truly a treasure. I’ve read two of her contemporary novels, one memoir and now this beautiful novel of historical fiction (her first). William Shakespeare, usually the star of every story he appears in, takes a backseat to his magical, empathetic and vivid wife Agnes. O’Farrell’s ability to take the few facts we have about Agnes Hathaway and weave such a magnificent tale is astounding. I will hold Agnes close to my heart forever more, snuggled between Patroclus and Josephine Bonaparte on my shelf of fictionalized favorites. Do yourself a favor and put this at the top of your TBR, you can thank me later.

Living that Quarantine Life

24 Apr

If you had asked me what I needed to read a bajillion books in six weeks, I’d have told you to keep my husband home from work to watch the kids, shut down the stores and lock the doors. Turns out that isn’t enough. Here we are on day 43 of our family’s self-imposed quarantine and I only have 7 books to show for it. I must have started and quit on a dozen before I found my groove again. Here are the ones that stuck:

The Lily King was excellent and mostly likely will reappear at the of the year on my Best Of list. I really loved this story of a young woman, an aspiring writer, struggling with love and her day job. This book made me want to drop everything and start writing a novel, I loved it so much. 5 stars

Julia Alvarez holds a special place in my heart. In the Time of the Butterflies is the first adult book I can remember reading and loving as a teenager. She probably hasn’t written an adult novel since around that time (15 years I think it’s been) and I was excited to get a sneak peek at this one. This is the story of four sisters dealing with aging and mental health and grief, sounds super serious but I thought it was fast and easy to read. I wish I’d gotten to know the sisters a little bit more before it was over. 4 stars

If you love Ottessa Moshfegh, you’ll love love her new novel Death in Her Hands. If you don’t love her others, you prob won’t love this one either. She is so polarizing, I think. Love her or hate her, this new novel takes unreliable narrators to the next level. I finished this book with so many questions and was thankful I had a book buddy to talk it over with. This is the story of an elderly widow living in the woods with her dog. She finds a note one day on a path that only she travels, hinting that a woman named Magda has been buried nearby. And with that we are off on the weirdest murder mystery ever written. 4 stars (slowly growing to a 5)

Jenna Bush just announced this last one, Valentine, as her book club pick for the month. I enjoyed it – even though it starts with a pretty violent rape and usually that is not my jam. It follows 5 women in a dusty Texan town, all of them connected to this initial violent act. When I started it I thought it would likely end up like Crash or We Are Called to Rise – but it didn’t end that way and I appreciated that. 4+ stars.

My neighborhood book club read Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and met virtually to discuss. I liked it fine – a therapist talking about a few of her clients and also her relationship with HER therapist. Overall, her “patient” stories were amazing and made me cry, but I can’t imagine ever being friends with the author herself. 4 stars.

Cantoras was an interesting title. Carolina de Robertis I’ve read before and really enjoyed, she compares pretty easily to Julia Alvarez. Lots of revolution and women – in the case of Cantoras a LOT of WOMEN. This novel follows 5 women in Uruguay in the 70s, and I definitely enjoyed it. There are a lot of fairly graphic woman-on-woman love scenes and themes, so I have a hard time thinking about who I could recommend this to. But if that appeals to you it really is a great story. 4.5 stars

This last one, Why Birds Sing, I really liked but it doesn’t come out until October so I’ll set a review to come out closer to then. It’s a paperback original (skipping hardcover completely) so I hope it finds a bigger audience. Story is a 30ish year old opera singer whose voice “breaks.” She’s home recovering with her always-traveling husband Ash and, now, her husband’s brother Tariq as he undergoes chemo for stomach cancer. To keep her contract with her opera company, she is saddled with teaching a whistling group at the community college, helping them prepare for a big competition. Gosh I just loved this one, fast and easy. 5 stars

other bennet

A great book like that always helps me out of a funk and I’m halfway through this one, came out at the end of March about Mary Bennet, the unfortunate sister from Pride and Prejudice. It’s weird because I can’t tell if it’s super boring or just exactly perfect. The first part takes place during the events of P&P and the second part 2 years later. So far I keep coming back to it, I’ll let you know!

Rollin, Rollin, Rollin

18 Feb

I love when a new year starts out SO STRONGLY. Here we are on February 17th and I’ve already got a solid 3 that should end up on my year-end list (Hamnet & Fresh Water for Flowers, both out in June and When Time Stopped out now). Of this recent batch, my 3 faves were:

Oona out of Order was such a weird fast fun one. Basically the main character wakes up on the morning of her 19th bday (New Years Day) her normal 19 year-old-self, except that she isn’t. She’s living her 51st year – in a house she doesn’t recognize with people she doesn’t know (but who seem to know her pretty well) inside a body that is older. And from then on, every year she begins each year out of order. Sounds confusing, but the chapters go fast so it’s pretty easy to keep things straight. They all start with a number like 19/51, so that lets you know that she’s chronologically 19 but living the year as 51. Fast and fun, a lighter, shorter Time Traveler’s Wife. 4 stars

Long Bright River has been a pretty buzzy thriller these past few months and I was totally there for it. My best bookseller friend said it reminded her of your favorite old Dennis Lehane (Mystic River or Shutter Island) and that is totally accurate. Mix of police procedural and family story of addiction – the detective is investigating a string of murders and is worried that her sister might be the next victim. So good and twisty. 4.5 stars

And lastly of my favorites this month, Fresh Water for Flowers. This one doesn’t come out until June so I won’t say TOO much now – it’s the story of a woman who lives in and takes care of a graveyard. And just so so much more. She has some tragedies in her past that make her such a compelling character, plus she gets to interact with a lot of different people through her job as cemetery caretaker. Love love loved it. Perfect book to take to the lake and wade through, it’s long and wonderful. 5 stars.

The others, briefly:

142 Ostriches was kind of a fun debut about a young girl who inherits an ostrich farm when her grandmother dies. Family story, lots of strong women and loser men. 4 stars.

I love John Boyne (Heart’s Invisible Furies, Ladder to the Sky) and was so excited to see this older one of his that revolves around the Romanovs. I didn’t love The House of Special Purpose as much as his others – I thought the twist at the end was pretty clearly coming from the first few chapters. But his Rasputin lived up to my imaginings! 3 stars.

These Ghosts are Family has been hyped as the next Homegoing – a debut novel that picks apart and traces back a Jamaican family. Overall it was fine – I thought the second half was way more interesting than the first. 3.5 stars

My neighborhood book club read The Power and it really just isn’t the sort of story I gravitate too – speculative fiction about a world in which women have the ability to electrocute people with their hands. They have The Power! and take over society. I was expecting it to be a sort of feminist manifesto but really the women turned pretty savage and it just wasn’t my fave. 3 stars.