Recent Reviews

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Night of the Living Rez Cover Image
The Night of the Living Rez

When I taught writing, grading a student’s work felt wrong if their narrative made me weep. I feel the same about reviewing Morgan Talty’s debut, The Night of the Living Rez. My friend who is Cherokee once told me, “White people cannot kill us because we are already dead,” and I thought of these words as I read Talty’s collection. The protagonist, David, is member of the Penobscot Nation, and we see him as a child, an adolescent, and an adult, but not necessarily in that order. Talty’s words unflinchingly evoke a place and its people, love and humor and tenderness but also addiction and despair and hopelessness. And sadness. Talty’s voice is singular and important, and I hope to read more of his work. Recommended by Kami

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The Last to Vanish: A Novel Cover Image
The Last to Vanish

Thriller novelist Megan Miranda's latest, The Last to Vanish, takes readers to the Passage Inn along the Appalachian Trail in Cutter's Pass, North Carolina, an inn whose biggest claim to fame is the hikers who have disappeared in its vicinity. When inn employee Abigail Lovett gets a little too close to the truth, everyone she has come to know and trust becomes a suspect.  Suspenseful and atmospheric, The Last to Vanish will be one of the best summer reads. Recommended by Kelly

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Joan: A Novel of Joan of Arc Cover Image
Joan

In Joan, Katherine Chen has created a Joan of Arc for our time. Rather than a the thin, ineffectual looking Joan we've seen in images, Chen's is a robust warrior with the courage of her convictions and the extraordinary strength to back them up. She hears, not from angels, but from her own internal voice of justice, which she uses against the men who would thwart her. Chen's sense of place and historical detail are spot on. Highly recommended historical fiction for anyone who needs a real hero. Recommended by Kelly

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Obsessive, Intrusive, Magical Thinking Cover Image
Obsessive Intrusive Magical Thinking

I found myself obsessed with Eloise’s essays from the first couple of pages. Living in a world complicated by ADHD, autism, and OCD, Eloise is similar to me in her ability to obsess past the point of both social norms and her well-being. Obsessive Intrusive Magical Thinking moves between her serenity near water and fascination with Disney naturally. Each essay reveals a bit more about Eloise’s brain, her gears constantly turning on her fear of fire and love of Los Angeles. Her collection is complicated, witty, and relatable, especially to those with brains determined to persevere. Recommended by Nikita

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What Moves the Dead Cover Image
What Moves the Dead

T. Kingfisher’s retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” allows the classic story to expand and bear fruit.  Narrated by Alex Easton, a genderqueer decorated war veteran, the tale is again set at the gloomy House of Usher, a picture of decay.  Easton and their horse—a jocular pair—have arrived to visit a childhood friend who has fallen ill, but what greets them is a dilapidated estate prowled by unsettling hares and a fascinated mycologist, not to mention the Usher siblings, who look to be at death’s door.  And oh, the horror—you won’t think of fungi the same way again.  Readers of Mexican Gothic, be sure to pick this one up. Recommended by Mary

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Life Ceremony: Stories Cover Image
Life Ceremony

Sayaka Murata captured the minds of everyone with Convenience Store Woman and in this new book, a collection of short stories, she continues what she started there - to analyze and depict humanity in a way that no one else has quite managed. In stories that range from celebrating the dead by eating them, to the dating lives of high school students, to the joys of foraging, Murata forces us to think about how we move through society, the way we show ourselves to others, and how we fit in or don’t. This collection is bizarrely brilliant and gloriously weird, and whilst you won’t always be sure what you’re reading, I promise you won’t be able to put the book down. Recommended by Hannah

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Dele Weds Destiny: A novel Cover Image
Dele Weds Destiny

In this delightful debut from Tomi Obaro we meet Funmi, Enitan, and Zainab, best friends from their college days, whose lives have taken them down three very different paths that have at times tested those bonds that formed. Yet despite the various challenges each has endured, their friendship has remained, and in this novel the three are reunited for the wedding of Funmi’s daughter Destiny. Few will be able to read this story without nodding and smiling, recognising parts of their own story and relationships. Obaro has a brightness and joy to her writing that draws the reader into the fascinating lives of her characters. At times funny, at times heartbreaking, this book brings a refreshing take on the stories of friendship, and of mothers and daughters. Recommended by Hannah

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Our Crooked Hearts: A Novel Cover Image
Our Crooked Hearts

Melissa Albert knows how to tell a story—her compelling style made me feel like a ghost peering over the shoulders of the characters as I read this spellbinding novel. Our Crooked Hearts is a modern fairytale with complicated relationships, tender first love, stolen memories, and witchcraft.  Told from the perspective of seventeen-year-old Ivy, and from that of her teenaged mother decades earlier, this is a book about power and betrayal, with secrets that threaten to break bonds forever.  Led by vibrant female characters and sprinkled with magic, this book asks the question, What would it take to make things right again? Recommended by Mary

Tell Me Everything

Erika has a face that makes strangers tell her their deepest secrets.  After a chance encounter with a lawyer in a bookstore, she finds herself starting a job as a private investigator, despite her lack of formal experience.  The case that dominates the book concerns the pervasive rape culture and constant coverups of the University of Colorado football team.  Herself a survivor of sexual violence, Erika becomes obsessed with the case, her investigation branching off into her own life, into her relationships with the family members who deny, or simply don’t care, that she was sexually abused as a child.  Amidst descriptions of the Colorado landscape—breathtaking yet harsh—Erika learns the tricks of the P.I. trade, offering snippets of the profession’s evolution between recollections of her own research and interviews.  She scrambles to gather enough evidence to make someone do something about the sexual violence faced by her plaintiffs, but it’s not just for them, it’s for her, too.Tell Me Everything is stunning and fascinating—part memoir, part true crime, but entirely an investigation.  Gabra Zackman’s narration complements the book beautifully. Recommended by Mary. Listen here, and support the Raven: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9781250839213-tell-me-everything

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The Paris Apartment: A Novel Cover Image
The Paris Apartment

Her brother Ben may not have been delighted by Jess’s news that she was coming to stay with him, but he had given her the address and told her just to buzz when she arrived and he would let her in. But now he is missing. His wallet is still there, however, and Jess notices other troubling details. As she searches over the ensuing days for clues to what might have happened, the secrets of the inhabitants of his apartment building are gradually revealed, and Jess, suspicious of everyone but recklessly courageous, learns the truth of what happened to Ben. Foley tells this intriguing story through the alternating voices of Jess and the buildings’ inhabitants, masterfully building our knowledge of each through their own voices. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll - and money and power. This page-turner has it all! Recommended by Nancy. Listen here, and support the Raven: https://libro.fm/audiobooks/9780063003088