Category: Recent Release

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: Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro

If you’re looking for a big fantasy/horror novel you’ll get lost in for a while, this is a book to consider. It combines elements of many other stories — a gothic mansion in the Scottish highlands, a school for “unusual” children, a tormented villain, and brave heroes, both young and old. It’s one of those…

Review: Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner

I liked the idea of this book better than I liked the book itself. It’s set in 1950’s London, in a fictional shop called Bloomsbury Books. It centers around three women: Grace, who’s in an abusive marriage; Vivien, who longs to write and to manage the bookstore rather than merely stand at the cash register;…

Review: By the Book by Jasmine Guillory

This book combined a lot of things I love about Jasmine Guillory, and a few things I didn’t love so much.  Isabelle is a likeable character, sympathetic and fairly well-developed. She works as an assistant in a publishing house, and I found the description of the work fascinating. Izzy actually gets to coach, prod, and…

Review: Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart

Stuart has written a second pull-your-heart-out-and-stomp-all-over-it book, one that did not disappoint for a minute, even considering how much I loved Shuggie Bain.  Stuart manages to write about very ugly things so beautifully. These two books are similar in a lot of ways, so if I can criticize anything it’s that Stuart isn’t breaking new…

Review: The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

I loved Egan’s Pulitzer Prize-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad, although now, nearly 12 years later, I didn’t remember much about the book. Maybe I should have reread it before reading the sequel, The Candy House, but instead I read it much like a stand-alone book. Maybe that’s why I had trouble connecting with it. Both…

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: Come As You Are by Jennifer Haupt

When asked if I’d be interested in reviewing this book, I was excited by the idea of a novel set in early 90s Seattle music scene. I was in college at that time and it may be cliché but the Seattle sound really did rock my world. There was something so personal and emotional about the…