Fiction

C-
The Lioness

The Lioness is a shockingly messy book given the skill and experience of the author. I was flummoxed on how to grade it upon finishing it and still find myself trying to balance the good and bad to arrive at a rating that is fair. When Hollywood super star Katie Barstow marries struggling gallery ...

A-
Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance

Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance is an eloquent meditation on grief, guilt, and how both can wreak, destroy, change and heal lives. Sally Holt stands on the cusp of entering the eighth grade during an eventful summer that will change her life forever.  It seems to pass along lazily enough at f ...

B+
Olga Dies Dreaming

Olga Dies Dreaming is a lot of things.  An urgent remark upon America’s colonization of Puerto Rico and subsequent refusal to allow them state’s rights. A character study about two siblings, one closeted and HIV positive, the other coming into her own as a Latina woman who won’t settle for wh ...

A-
The Unsinkable Greta James

Whew, this one hurt - but in a good way.  If you’ve ever experienced the death of a parent and then had to learn how to get on with a parent you weren’t particular close to, The Unsinkable Greta James is a touching experience that will strike a chord with you.  If you haven’t, it’ll still ...

A-
Violeta

Has anyone ever chronicled (and added magic to) the lives of women with such grace and beauty as Isabel Allende?  If you’ve read one of the author’s books you don’t need me to tell you what you’ll find between the beautiful covers of Violeta.  Magical realism.  And the story of one woman ...

B+
Apples Never Fall

Joy Delaney, almost 70, has vanished. Her husband of fifty years, Stan, and their four kids--Brooke, Amy, Logan, and Troy--say they've no idea where's she gone. She left no word of where she was headed and her cellphone, purse, and car are all sitting at home. Has she been killed? And if so, did ...

B
Single Black Female

Single Black Female is a story about American life and how the color of your skin impacts what that’s like. Ivy Donovan has been completely loyal to her man, Michael, during the many years he has been in prison. She has been putting his needs and wants before her own, working hard to make a suc ...

A
The Sentence

Warning: I am a sucker for Louise Erdrich’s work, and I have been ever since I read The Antelope Wife.  Ergo, I am not an impartial audience for this book, and you might not enjoy the sprawling, character-driven, magical realism-filled portrait she paints as much as I did. The Sentence is a damn ...

A
Illumination Night

Illumination Night was my favorite book for a decade of my life. It and Josephine Humphrey's Dreams of Sleep are two stories I wish I had the talent to have written. I read both before I was married and now, after almost 35 years of marriage, their perspectives on the complexity of a partnered life ...

A
The Guncle

Call him “Uncle Mame.” Former sitcom actor Patrick – who worked under the pseudonym Jack Curtis -  is hosting his niece and nephew, food fussy nine-year-old Maisey and lisping six-year-old Grant, on a long vacation in the wake of their mother’s tragic death from a long illness. His attempt ...