Fiction

B+
The Reading List

The Reading List is a sweet, simple and tender story about the power words have to heal and the joys that books can bring.  It’s a bit cheesy, but it’s just the right sort of cheese – like a toasty sandwich filled with melting gouda. Mukesh is a widower of two years, still in mourning for ...

B-
The Love Story of Missy Charmichael

Beth Morrey’s The Love Story of Missy Carmichael is a well-realized character study with a firm, brash, non-soppy narrative tone that draws the reader right in and keeps them close at heart, but it left me with a few reservations. Stoke Newington resident Mrs. Millicent “Missy” Carmichael i ...

C
Ariadne

It’s hard to avoid spoilers here.  The story of Ariadne – daughter of King Minos, gatekeeper of the labyrinth, doomed to be locked up on the isle of Crete to care for her brother, the Minotaur – is famous to many a Greek mythology fan, and Jennifer Salt does not deviate far from the main body ...

A
Hench

Hench is an unstinting delight from start to finish.  Focusing on the life of a temp worker living in a world filled with supervillains and superheroes who becomes an impassioned villainess of her own making, the story reminded me of the recently-cancelled and greatly lamented Venture Brothers, in ...

C+
The Wrong Kind of Woman

The Wrong Kind of Woman is both a well-structured novel about feminism and a simplistic encapsulation of the feminist movement.  Its characters are interesting, but we’ve read lots of stories about women like them before, and the novel shows promise but fails to deliver something fresh. Virgin ...

A
Utopia Avenue

Utopia Avenue is one part Backbeat, two more of the bracing whimsical wit of A Hard Day’s Night, several parts Head-like support of social upheaval and psychedelics, with maybe a skosh of That Thing You Do! thrown in.  The rest is the story - detailing the struggles and joys of the titular psych- ...

B
Bellwether

Originally published in 1991, Connie Willis' Bellwether is a book about patterns; how and why things come to pass in our lives. Dr. Sandra Foster is a statistician studying fads at a Boulder think-tank called Hi-Tek, but her lack of success is discouraging: she cannot come up with the cause of the h ...

C-
Valentine: A Novel

In her debut novel Valentine, author Elizabeth Wetmore examines the far-reaching consequences of a violent crime on a small Texas town. Set in 1976, as Odessa is poised for another oil boom, a fourteen-year-old girl is raped in a secluded area on the outskirts of town. She manages to escape, but her ...

A
These Ghosts are Family

These Ghosts are Family is a spellbinding, beautifully written story about the way generational trauma can harm, form or save a person – and how the ghosts of the past always loom over one’s shoulder. Stanford Solomon is facing down the end of his life with a heavy sense of responsibility.  ...

A+
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

Despite being a family of non-believers, every year we pull out our holiday paraphernalia. We dress the tree, hanging with care the delicate glass ornaments gifted to us over the many years, sentimentally rub our fingers over the ones our children made, pull out the stepladder and put our angel to b ...