The Atlas of Forgotten Places by Jenny D. Williams
Contemporary Fiction / First Novels / Highly Recommended / Historical Fiction / New to Me Author / Recent Release / Review Requests and ARCs

The Atlas of Forgotten Places by Jenny D. Williams

I was pretty much glued to this book while I was reading it.  It’s both suspenseful and thoughtful, and provides detailed information about a country that most Americans know little about.  Williams, a former aid worker in Uganda, tells the story from two perspectives.  Sabine is a German woman who has spent most of her adult life … Continue reading

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
Contemporary Fiction / Diverse Reads / First Novels / Highly Recommended / New to Me Author / Recent Release / Review Requests and ARCs

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

I recommend this short but moving first novel by Rachel Khong about a woman caring for her father with Alzheimer’s.  This is a prospect I find absolutely terrifying, whether for my parents and for myself.  It seems to me that almost any physical ailment would be less scary than gradually losing one’s mind, knowing that … Continue reading

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Award winners / Challenges / Diverse Reads / First Novels / Historical Fiction / New to Me Author

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Sympathizer is a first novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen, which won last year’s Pulitzer Prize for literature.  It’s a fascinating look at the Vietnam War and its aftermath from the perspective of the Vietnamese.  Right away it makes you realize how much Americans only see the Vietnam War from our own perspective, not those … Continue reading

Contemporary Fiction / Diverse Reads / First Novels / Highly Recommended / New to Me Author / Recent Release

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The world feels very wrong right now. Between shootings, terrorism, and the horrible people that are governing our country with seemingly no ethics or empathy whatsoever. I’ve been trying to write a review of this book for a while, and it’s especially relevant right now with this week’s acquittal of Philando Castile. On top of … Continue reading

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