‘How High’ Soars with Sorrow, Joy

There’s a lot to be said for a good story cycle. I was entranced by Julia Phillips’ Disappearing Earth, about the disappearance of two girls on a remote Russian peninsula and how that crime both rocks a community and hardly affects its petty problems at all. Sequoia Nagamatsu’s How High We Go in the DarkContinue reading “‘How High’ Soars with Sorrow, Joy”

‘Wild’ a Lovely ‘Psalm’ for the Discontent

Not to judge a book by its cover or anything, but frankly I expected more robots in Becky Chambers’ Psalm for the Wild Built. I mean, there’s one on the cover, but you don’t even hear about a single robot until halfway through. That said, once I moved past my precious expectations, I found this PsalmContinue reading “‘Wild’ a Lovely ‘Psalm’ for the Discontent”

‘Seek You’ Brings Connection to Loneliness

In case anyone’s noticed, we’re in a pandemic right now. The last two years have been, in many places and for many people, a study in loneliness. Throughout 2020, bloggers and news outlets weighed in on how to combat “skin hunger,” the phenomenon of longing for human touch. We keep searching for a “new normal”Continue reading “‘Seek You’ Brings Connection to Loneliness”

‘The Searcher’ Finds Satisfying End

Tana French has made a name for herself with dark, brooding Irish mysteries, particularly those revolving around one shifting group of detectives (The Dublin Murder Squad). I’ve always loved her language and dedication to place, but her subtle touch in her newest mystery, The Searcher, has me enchanted in a whole new way. All CalContinue reading “‘The Searcher’ Finds Satisfying End”

‘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”

‘Blackened Teeth’ Will Devour You

I was once told the pacing for a novella should be no different than that of a novel, just scaled down to an appropriate size. While I can see some argument for that, I disagree. Novellas can pack big stories into a slender volume, but they get to the point much faster. There aren’t asContinue reading “‘Blackened Teeth’ Will Devour You”

‘The Survivors’ Doesn’t Need Murder to Succeed (but it has that, too)

There’s no shortage of mysteries and thrillers set in small towns. That was basically the bread and butter of Masterpiece: Mystery for decades (not that I’m complaining), to say nothing of the dozens of murders Jessica Fletcher solved singlehandedly in her twee little Cabot Cove. Despite the proliferation of cozy mysteries, it’s rare that theyContinue reading “‘The Survivors’ Doesn’t Need Murder to Succeed (but it has that, too)”

Can’t Shake the Underworld in ‘Harlem’

Morally gray characters are a special breed of protagonists (or antagonists). Their actions are one thing, but the reasons creators give for those actions are often far more interesting. In the case of Harlem Shuffle, Colson Whitehead keeps his main character’s reasons simple: money, and a racist social system set up against him. As easyContinue reading “Can’t Shake the Underworld in ‘Harlem’”

Rolling Waves of Lovely Prose Propel ‘Find’

There’s a dreaminess from The Ones We’re Meant to Find, even from the very cover, all soft edges and rolling waves. That sense never really lets up—even though it gets considerably more complicated in the middle—and in the end the yearning and saltwater mean as much, or more, than before. It’s a lovely exploration intoContinue reading “Rolling Waves of Lovely Prose Propel ‘Find’”