Category: First Novels

Review: The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

I was afraid this book might be a little “sappy” for me. I like emotional reads but rarely read the kind of books described as “heartwarming”, and this book about a friendship between a dying teenager and an elderly woman fit that bill. But it came highly recommended by Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Best Books of Summer 2022,…

Review: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

I loved this novel about a strong, opinionated woman in the early 1960s who is a chemist, a single mother, and the star of a cooking television show. This sort of novel could easily become trite but it never did. Elizabeth Zott has to deal with sexism, harassment, and assault, as she navigates the world of science…

Review: The Scent of Burnt Flowers by Blitz Bazawule

I appreciate books that are hard to categorize because they cross genres. Not surprisingly, this debut novel by Blitz Bazawule, a musician, artist, and filmmaker, does exactly that. The Scent of Burnt Flowers tells the story of a young Black couple, Melvin and Bernadette, who flee the United States in 1966, after a violent altercation with…

Review: A Deadly Fortune and The Unquiet Dead by Stacie Murphy

I was offered a review copy of Stacie Murphy’s new novel, The Unquiet Dead, a historical mystery set in 1893.  Since it was a sequel, I decided to read A Deadly Fortune first. I loved both of them and highly recommend them for anyone who likes historical mysteries.  A Deadly Fortune, Murphy’s debut novel, introduces…

Review: Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu

This is the kind of historical novel I love – it’s a decades-spanning family saga that builds on the author’s own family history.  In this debut novel, Fu tells a story that parallels that of her father, who is born in China during the Japanese War of Aggression in the 1940s and the Chinese Civil…

Review: Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

This is a book I’ve been recommending lately, and it’s one you may not have heard of (I discovered it through Modern Mrs. Darcy’s summer reading list. This debut novel is a story about a dysfunctional family in small town Texas, and it’s based on the stories and themes of classical mythology. I thought it was fantastic.…

Reading the 2021 Women’s Prize Longlist – Mini-Reviews

A few months ago I posted about the 2021 Women’s Prize longlist.  At the time I had only read two of the books, Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi and The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (both excellent). Since then I’ve read four more of the books from the longlist: Piranesi, Luster, How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps…

Review: Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen

I really enjoyed this story about a week in the life of a young woman in Northern Ireland.  Majella is in her mid-twenties and lives with her mother in the very small fictional town of Aghybogey during the time of “The Troubles”.  Her day to day life is ordinary – she cares for her mother…

Review: Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Angeline Boulley is a former co-worker of mine, and though I don’t know her well, I was excited for her first novel to come out, and even more excited to receive an advanced review copy.  I hoped I wouldn’t be disappointed, and I wasn’t. In fact, this book was everything I could ask for, with…

Review: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

You’ll have heard of this book because of the awards it won in 2020, including the Booker Prize.  This story of a young boy growing up with an alcoholic mother in 1980s Glasgow is worth the read.  It’s dark, but once I finished it, I missed the characters.  By the time you finish it, Shuggie…