‘Sisters’ Takes Sibling Closeness Too Far

Sibling relationships are such a tossup; they can be close and warm, they can be more or less indifferent, and they can be sharp and cruel. Some siblings manage to be all three at the same time. Sisters seem to magnify the intricacies of such relationships—and the heights and the depths possible within them. SoContinue reading “‘Sisters’ Takes Sibling Closeness Too Far”

‘Chouette’ is Strange, but Lingers

Claire Oshetsky’s new book, Chouette, has one of the strangest and most gripping beginnings I have ever read: “I dream I’m making tender love with an owl. The next morning, I see talon marks across my chest that trace the path of my owl lover’s embrace. Two weeks later, I learn that I’m pregnant. YouContinue reading “‘Chouette’ is Strange, but Lingers”

‘Rising’ Tension Drives ‘Malibu’

All happy families are alike, as Tolstoy says, but that’s not the case in Malibu Rising, which follows a quartet of super-close siblings who would probably describe themselves as a happy family—even if poverty, fame, and necessity have made their version of happiness looks a little more complicated than most. Nina Riva, a 25-year-old modelContinue reading “‘Rising’ Tension Drives ‘Malibu’”

Meeting ‘People’ at the Heart of ‘Vacation’

There was a moment while I was reading People We Meet on Vacation when a friend brought up an extremely mundane topic. My thumbs began typing, “This guy I know has weirdly strong opinions about that,” but I didn’t hit send because I realized just in time that not only do I not know thatContinue reading “Meeting ‘People’ at the Heart of ‘Vacation’”

‘Quiet’ has Good ‘Bones’ but Problems, too

I’ve expressed feelings about unreliable narrators before, but each new book using it seems to change my opinion just a little—usually for good but sometimes for bad. Unreliable narrators can be a huge boon or bust for a thriller. I’ve thought about it for a while now, and I’m not sure which the unreliable narratorContinue reading “‘Quiet’ has Good ‘Bones’ but Problems, too”

Character Goes Deep in ‘Luminous Dead’

I love the Nathan Pyle comic about reading. The simple four-panel comic really nails the immersive reader experience. Sometimes the immersion is as good as being on a sailing ship exploring new waters. Sometimes it’s tainted with magic and quarreling gods. And sometimes, it thrusts you in a dark, unpredictable cave where sight and soundContinue reading “Character Goes Deep in ‘Luminous Dead’”

‘Upright’ Lets Characters be Themselves

A few months ago, I read and loved Anna North’s Outlawed so much that it made me give the side-eye to Sarah Gailey‘s Upright Women Wanted because the premises have so many similarities. Both feature fierce young women who chafe against the bleakly misogynistic Wild West backdrop to the degree that their lives are threatened.Continue reading “‘Upright’ Lets Characters be Themselves”

‘Spy’ Too Compelling to Put Down

Every good spy story has coded messages, secret info drops, tense crossings of international lines, sordid love affairs, stakes of life or death and the threat of world war, and a few good turncoats. Ben McIntire’s The Spy and the Traitor has that and more—and perhaps most notably, is nonfiction. Oleg Gordievsky is a goodContinue reading “‘Spy’ Too Compelling to Put Down”

‘Last Stone’ an Uncritical Story of Iffy Policing

A lot of the books that end up on my TBR come from other reviews, which isn’t ideal for reviewing purposes but usually by the time I get around to reading them I’ve forgotten what the book is about, let alone what a reviewer said about it. That’s the case with The Last Stone byContinue reading “‘Last Stone’ an Uncritical Story of Iffy Policing”

‘Sensor’ Sends Chills

I’ve mentioned before how much I love a good spine-tingling tale. I have to say, though, few stories have as tight a grip on the macabre and the uncomfortable as Junji Ito, for whom the ordinary is only fodder for nightmares. I got my introduction to the manga writer through Uzumaki and have shuddered everyContinue reading “‘Sensor’ Sends Chills”