Reviews by Lisa Fernandes

C
The Book of Hidden Wonders

(Note: this title is published in the UK asThe Illustrated Child). The Book of Hidden Wonders is one big old dark, depressing slog of a novel, only enlivened by the skill required to tell the tale. Its treatment of childhood leans more towards Tennessee Williams than JM Barrie, though teens weane ...

A-
Early Departures

Justin A. Reynolds’ impressionistic, speculative, emotionally accessible and beautifully original novel, Early Departures, explores the pain of regret that attends sudden and unexpected death, especially when it happens to young people. Jamal has one regret in his young life – he didn’t sav ...

C-
The Exiles

Christina Baker Kline, a usually fine fiction writer, gives us a story that’s well-sketched but only marginally gripping with The Exiles, a novel about women convicts living in an Australian penal colony, and the aboriginal teenager struggling against white oppression who becomes a friend. Evan ...

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
The Circus Rose

Betsy Cornwell’s inventive but somewhat pat take on the fairytale Snow White and Rose Red recasts the heroines as a pair of performers at their mother’s circus who must battle religious fanaticism when they return to the only town they’ve ever considered home. Ivory and Rosie have been work ...

B
So True

Serena Bell’s Tierney Bay series continues with So True, the finely written and engrossing story of Chiara Campbell and Jax Walker. It’s a good romance and the characters are generally sympathetic, but I had to take some points off for Jax’s self-flagellating, cruel behavior toward Chiara. ...

D
The Extraordinaires

It’s the worst possible time to release a book that glorifies the police force – not that there was or will ever be a good time for that, for all obvious reasons -  but that is, unfortunately, what TJ Klune’s The Extraordinaries does.  The author has apologized for not thinking ahead and rid ...

A
10 Things I Hate About Pinky

Readers of Sandhya Menon’s Dimple and Rishi series are likely familiar with funny, spunky Pinky Kumar, an activist who backs hundreds of causes and feistily fights for every one of them. She finally gets her own book in 10 Things I Hate About Pinky, which involves fake dating, summer vacations and ...

C
Sisters and Secrets

Secrets and Sisters is gently predictable in the way its title suggests it might be. You’ve seen this set-up before; the sister that moved away returns after great tragedy, meeting once more with her free-spirited younger sister and her harried housewife elder sister; the boy she left behind and a ...

A-
Charming as a Verb

Some books jump out of the deep, fathomless ocean of creativity and arc through the imagination of their readers, with characters that stick in the back of your mind for months after you’ve closed the back cover. Ben Philippe’s Henri Haltiwanger is one such creation – memorable in a totally fr ...