The Leavers by Lisa Ko
Contemporary Fiction / Diverse Reads / First Novels / Highly Recommended / New to Me Author / Recent Release / Review Requests and ARCs / Uncategorized

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

This is a really thoughtful, moving novel about a Chinese family that is torn apart in the United States.  Peilan grows up in China in a small village but dreams of exploring the world, so she travels to New York for factory work at better wages.  She has Deming while still very young herself, and … Continue reading

The Last Days of Café Leila by Donia Bijan
Challenges / Contemporary Fiction / Diverse Reads / First Novels / Historical Fiction / New to Me Author / Recent Release / Review Requests and ARCs

The Last Days of Café Leila by Donia Bijan

Part of my Reading All Around the World Challenge, this is a book written by a chef in the U.S. who was born in Iran.  Café Leila tells the story of an Iranian family that experiences terrifying changes in the country after the revolution and establishment of the Islamic Republic in the early 1980’s. The … Continue reading

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang
Contemporary Fiction / Diverse Reads / First Novels / New to Me Author / Recent Release

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang

I’ve seen mixed reviews of this book, but I really liked it.  Chang gives us a screwed-up family on a road trip, but she makes their story sympathetic, clever and at times funny.  I’ve seen this book described as hilarious, and I can’t say it reached that level for me, but then I’m not Chinese so … Continue reading

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
First Novels / New to Me Author / Recent Release / Review Requests and ARCs / Science Fiction

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai

I found this to be a thoughtful and entertaining take on the time travel story.  Time travel stories have plenty of tropes, and it seems like most of it’s been done before.  Mastai’s debut novel takes those tropes, mashes them together, and comes out with something that feels new.  I had a few issues with … Continue reading

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Contemporary Fiction / First Novels / New to Me Author / Recent Release

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

The Nest is a story of four adult siblings in a dysfunctional family.  They will come into a large inheritance (“the Nest”) when the youngest turns 40, which is in a few months.  The problem is the oldest sibling, Leo, got into a car accident and the money for medical expenses, rehab, and liability came out … Continue reading

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
Contemporary Fiction / First Novels / Highly Recommended / New to Me Author

Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg

I expected lots of melodrama and tear-jerkery from this story about a woman who loses her entire family overnight in a house fire — the night before a wedding, no less.  But that’s not what I got.  Instead, this is a really rich story about two families (three really, but one is much more peripheral).  … Continue reading

A Lady in the Smoke by Karen Odden
First Novels / Historical Mystery / New to Me Author / Review Requests and ARCs

A Lady in the Smoke by Karen Odden

Readers of Anne Perry will enjoy this mystery set in Victorian England.  It’s a mystery that concentrates more on social and historical issues of the time, in this case railroad safety.  The characters are interesting and the story is fast-paced and engaging. Set in the 1870’s, Elizabeth Fraser is returning home from her “Fourth Season” … Continue reading

Girl at War by Sara Novic
Contemporary Fiction / First Novels / Historical Fiction / Recent Release

Girl at War by Sara Novic

Like The Unquiet Dead, it’s hard to adequately review a book about a really serious historical subject like the massacres in Croatia. But I’ll do my best. What I appreciated most about this book was its readability, and how real it felt. I imagine that author Sara Novic experienced many of the things she wrote … Continue reading

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley
First Novels / Historical Fiction / New to Me Author / Recent Release / Steampunk

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley

This is a strange, complicated story, involving time and mind-reading and intricate clockwork. Pulley’s debut novel is artfully written and most importantly, the characters are well-drawn – except where they’re meant to be mysterious. I will say I struggled a bit with the last third of the book, so I can’t call it a five-star … Continue reading

The Constable’s Tale by Donald Smith
First Novels / Historical Mystery / Recent Release / Review Requests and ARCs

The Constable’s Tale by Donald Smith

If you’re interested in historical fiction set in Colonial America, this was a great read. It blends history, mystery, and interesting characters. Even better, this is a travel story as well, winding from North Carolina all the way to Quebec. I love when reading coincides with life, and this book was a happy surprise. Last … Continue reading