Category: First Novels

Review: Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

I wasn’t sure I’d like this book at first.  I don’t love science fiction that focuses too much on technology at the expense of character development, and this book features a high-tech robot as a main character. I read it because I needed a winner of a Lambda Literary Award for the Reading Women challenge,…

Meeting Angie Kim, Author of Miracle Creek

Last week my book club had the opportunity to meet with Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek, a courtroom drama about a Korean-American family.  Kim was fantastic and spent a lot of time with our group.  She shared a lot of interesting details about how her life experiences influenced the book, and the kinds of things she…

Review: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

I really enjoyed this debut novel that combines courtroom drama with a moving story about a Korean-American family.  Even better, the author is local and writes about a small town in Virginia that doesn’t exist but felt very real. The Yoo family runs a  a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, a submarine-like contraption that people sit in to…

Review: The Farm by Joanne Ramos

I really liked this slow-burner of a novel about a program for the wealthy who want surrogate parents.  Ramos creates what I found to be a very believable scenario and raises a lot of really interesting issues regarding parenthood, wealth, immigration, race and class.  A corporation creates a home for young women to bear the children…

Review: Ghostwritten by David Mitchell

I love David Mitchell – I love how every book by him is more of an experience than just a read.  This book felt like a whirlwind, or a roller coaster.   It’s told in nine slightly-interlocking chapters.  At first the chapters feel very distinct – a character in one might bump into a character in…

Review: A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

This is my favorite book of the year so far.  It was everything I like in a book – really character-driven, about complex family relationships. It’s about a family where the parents are immigrants to the U.S. and they struggle to raise their children in a culture that is sometimes foreign to them.  Their children…

Review: Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

I loved this debut fantasy novel by Tasha Suri.  It’s well-written and creates a fascinating world with a terrifying villain.  It’s inspired by the Mughal Empire of India, something I knew absolutely nothing about before reading this book — which is why fiction by diverse writers is so important.  Suri brings cultural references and perspectives to…

Review: The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

I loved this book, set in 18th century England, about a lonely merchant who comes upon a mermaid that changes his life.  Gowar’s debut novel is one of those rare books you can’t possibly categorize – is it historical fiction, fantasy, romance, or just literature?  I heard of this book when it was nominated and…

Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

This is a book that’s gotten a ton of praise, and has been described as Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day.  As a murder mystery, it’s great fun, playing on the great murder mystery tropes: a group of wealthy, bored socialites in a dark and dusty mansion somewhere in the middle of nowhere (a little like…

Review: A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua

I wanted to like this book but in the end was disappointed.  I was really interested in the story, which begins with a young woman traveling from China to the United States to have a baby. Scarlett is going to a home in the U.S. for pregnant Chinese women, so they can give birth in…