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Reviews

Reviews

by Kristin Hannah - Fiction, Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

“Women can be heroes, too.” When 20-year-old nursing student Frances “Frankie” McGrath hears these unexpected words, it is a revelation. Raised on idyllic Coronado Island and sheltered by her conservative parents, she has always prided herself on doing the right thing and being a good girl. But in 1965, the world is changing, and she suddenly imagines a different choice for her life. When her brother ships out to serve in Vietnam, she impulsively joins the Army Nurse Corps and follows his path. As green and inexperienced as the men sent to Vietnam to fight, Frankie is overwhelmed by the chaos and destruction of war, as well as the unexpected trauma of coming home to a changed and politically divided America.

by Jonathan Evison - Fiction

Eugene “Geno” Miles is living out his final days in a nursing home and struggling to connect with his new nursing assistant, Angel, who is understandably skeptical of Geno’s insistence on having lived not just one life but many --- all the way back to medieval Spain, where, as a petty thief, he first lucked upon true love only to lose it, and spend the next thousand years trying to recapture it. Who is Geno? A lonely old man clinging to his delusions and rehearsing his fantasies, or a legitimate anomaly, a thousand-year-old man who continues to search for the love he lost so long ago? As Angel comes to learn the truth about Geno, so, too, does the reader. As his miraculous story comes to a head, so does the biggest truth of all: that love --- timeless, often elusive --- is sometimes right in front of us.

by Rebecca Li - Nonfiction, Personal Growth, Self-Help, Spirituality

Silent illumination, a way of penetrating the mind through curious inquiry, is an especially potent, accessible and portable meditation practice perfectly suited for a time when there is so much fear, upheaval and sorrow in our world. It is a method of reconnecting with our true nature, which encompasses all that exists and where suffering cannot touch us. The practice of silent illumination is simple, allowing each moment to be experienced as it is in order to manifest our innate wisdom and natural capacity for compassion. After guiding readers through the history and practice of silent illumination, Rebecca Li shows us how we can recognize and unlearn our “modes of operation” --- habits of mind that get in the way of being fully present and engaged with life.

by Wendy Chin-Tanner - Fiction, Historical Fiction

Victor Chin’s life is turned upside down at the tender age of 15. Diagnosed with Hansen’s disease, otherwise known as leprosy, he’s forced to leave the familiar confines of his father’s laundry business in the Bronx --- the only home he’s known since emigrating from China with his older brother --- to quarantine alongside patients from all over the country at a federal institution in Carville. At first, Victor is scared not only of the disease, but of the confinement, and wants nothing more than to flee. Between treatments he dreams of escape and imagines his life as a fugitive. Soon, though, he finds a new sense of freedom far from home. But with the promise of a life-changing cure on the horizon, Victor’s time at Carville is running out, and he has some difficult choices to make.

by Claire Dederer - Literary Criticism, Nonfiction

In this unflinching, deeply personal book that expands on her instantly viral Paris Review essay, "What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?" Claire Dederer asks: Can we love the work of Hemingway, Polanski, Naipaul, Miles Davis or Picasso? Should we love it? Does genius deserve special dispensation? Is male monstrosity the same as female monstrosity? Does art have a mandate to depict the darker elements of the psyche? And what happens if the artist stares too long into the abyss? She explores the audience's relationship with artists from Woody Allen to Michael Jackson, asking: How do we balance our undeniable sense of moral outrage with our equally undeniable love of the work? In a more troubling vein, she wonders if an artist needs to be a monster in order to create something great.

by Salman Rushdie - Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

In the wake of an unimportant battle between two long-forgotten kingdoms in 14th-century southern India, a nine-year-old girl has a divine encounter that will change the course of history. After witnessing the death of her mother, the grief-stricken Pampa Kampana becomes a vessel for her namesake, the goddess Pampa, who begins to speak out of the girl’s mouth. Granting her powers beyond Pampa Kampana’s comprehension, the goddess tells her that she will be instrumental in the rise of a great city called Bisnaga --- “victory city” --- the wonder of the world. Over the next 250 years, Pampa Kampana’s life becomes deeply interwoven with Bisnaga’s, from its literal sowing from a bag of magic seeds to its tragic ruination in the most human of ways: the hubris of those in power.

by George Saunders - Fiction, Short Stories

In his first collection of short stories since TENTH OF DECEMBER, George Saunders explores ideas of power, ethics and justice and cuts to the very heart of what it means to live in community with our fellow humans. “Love Letter” is a tender missive from grandfather to grandson in the midst of a dystopian political situation in the (not-too-distant, all-too-believable) future. “Ghoul” is set in a Hell-themed section of an underground amusement park and follows the exploits of a lonely, morally complex character who comes to question everything he takes for granted about his reality. And “My House” --- in a mere seven pages --- comes to terms with the haunting nature of unfulfilled dreams and the inevitability of decay.

by Elizabeth Strout - Fiction

As a panicked world goes into lockdown, Lucy Barton is uprooted from her life in Manhattan and bundled away to a small town in Maine by her ex-husband and on-again, off-again friend, William. For the next several months, it’s just Lucy, William and their complex past together in a little house nestled against the moody, swirling sea. At the heart of this story are the deep human connections that unite us even when we’re apart --- the pain of a beloved daughter’s suffering, the emptiness that comes from the death of a loved one, the promise of a new friendship, and the comfort of an old, enduring love.

by Joy Fielding - Domestic Thriller, Fiction, Psychological Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Thriller, Women's Fiction

Jodi Bishop is a top-notch real estate agent. Her husband, Harrison, is a middling writer who resents his wife’s success. Jodi’s father, Vic, is a very controlling man. His wife, Audrey, was herself no shrinking violet. But things changed when Audrey developed Parkinson’s 10 years ago, and now Jodi starts interviewing housekeepers to help care for her parents. She settles on Elyse Woodley, an energetic and attractive widow who seems perfect for the job. Jodi is pleased to have an ally, someone she can talk to and occasionally even confide in. Until Elyse shuts Jodi out. And Audrey’s condition worsens --- rapidly. Who is this woman suddenly wearing her mother’s jewelry? What is she after? And how far will she go to get it?

by Lidia Yuknavitch - Dystopian, Fiction

Laisvė is a motherless girl from the late 21st century who is learning her power as a carrier, a person who can harness the power of meaningful objects to carry her through time. Sifting through the detritus of a fallen city known as the Brook, she discovers a talisman that will mysteriously connect her with a series of characters from the past two centuries: a French sculptor, a woman of the American underworld, a dictator's daughter, an accused murderer, and a squad of laborers at work on a national monument. Through intricately braided storylines, Laisvė must dodge enforcement raids and find her way to the present day, and then, finally, to the early days of her imperfect country, to forge a connection that might save their lives --- and their shared dream of freedom.