Birnam Wood

Birnam Wood cover art

by Eleanor Catton, 2023 Birnam Wood  was on so many “best of” lists for 2023 that I finally broke down and ordered it. Eleanor Catton already has quite a legacy: at 28, she was the youngest-ever winner of the Booker Prize in 2013 for The Luminaries. Yes, I read that one too, 10 years ago. […]

Demon Copperhead

Cover image for Demon Copperhead book

by Barbara Kingsolver, 2022 Demon Copperhead tells the raw, emotional tale of a 10-year-old boy’s heartbreaking childhood and adolescence scarred by drug addiction, sudden death, child abuse, and being bounced around through the foster system in a small Virginia town. Damon Fields is the boy’s real name; “Demon Copperhead” becomes his nickname, and it sticks. […]

Winter Work

by Dan Fesperman, 2022 Winter Work is a mesmerizing mix of fact and fiction, and as a reader you have the fun of trying to figure out which is which. Just a few months after the Berlin Wall came down in early 1990, the East German Stasi, their foreign intelligence service, was frantically destroying evidence. […]

Portrait of an Unknown Woman

by Danial Silva, 2022 I had the good fortune to hear Daniel Silva speak in Houston earlier this summer while on his book tour for Portrait of an Unknown Woman. It was such a rare opportunity to see someone in person when you’ve read all his books and have formed an impression of who they […]

Mercy Street

Mercy Street cover image

by Jennifer Haigh, 2022 Mercy Street is a novel about a women’s clinic in Boston, Massachusetts. The real name of the clinic, “Women’s Options,” hangs above the door, but everyone calls it “Mercy Street.” Here is where you go for contraceptives, well-woman visits, STD testing, and yes, abortion counseling and services. The focus of the […]

Notes on an Execution

Notes on an Execution cover image

by Danya Kukafka, 2022 Notes on an Execution had such an eerie, true-to-life feeling for me that at one point as I was listening to the audiobook, I had to stop and double-check what I’d purchased: was this fiction or nonfiction? Because it’s been a long, long time since I’ve listened to a book where […]

Razorblade Tears: A Novel

Razorblade Tears cover image

by S. A. Cosby, 2021 Sometimes I want to just dive into something trashy and escapist, and that’s when I reach for some good ol’ fashioned crime fiction. Let the bodies pile up! Razorblade Tears: A Novel is about two married gay men, Isiah and Derek, who get murdered. One is Black, one is white, […]

A Town Called Solace

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by Mary Lawson, 2021 A Town Called Solace was longlisted for the 2021 Man Booker Prize, and is quite different than most of the others I’ve read so far. Far from being a heavy drama, it’s an enjoyable, old-fashioned mystery where the author weaves together the lives of three seemingly disparate and unrelated individuals, all […]

The Fortune Men: A Novel

The Fortune Men cover image

by Nadifa Mohamed, 2021 The Fortune Men was shortlisted for the 2021 Man Booker Prize, and is a novel based on a true story set in Cardiff, Wales in the 1950s. A young Somali sailor by the name of Mahmood Mattan is falsely accused of murdering a shopkeeper named Lily Volpert (her name is changed […]

How Beautiful We Were: A Novel

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by Imbolo Mbue, 2020 How Beautiful We Were: A Novel was listed as one of the 10 best books of 2021 by the New York Times Book Review editors. Set in a fictional village in Africa named Kosawa, it opens in October 1980 at a community meeting between three representatives of the American oil company […]

The Promise

The Promise cover image

by Damon Galgut, 2021 The Promise won the Man Booker Prize for Literary Fiction in 2021, and for the first time in a long time, I agree. This was an outstanding book that kept my attention from start to finish. The book centers around a White South African family named Swart, and the story opens […]

Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies, The Mirror & The Light

The Mirror & The Light cover image

by Hilary Mantel, 2009, 2012, 2019 Wolf Hall,  Bring Up the Bodies, and The Mirror & The Light I list together, as they are a trilogy by Hilary Mantel about the life of Thomas Cromwell, from the time he rose to power in Tudor England, in Henry VIII’s court, until his execution on the order […]

The Secret History

The Secret History cover image

by Donna Tartt, 2002 I first read Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, which I reviewed here. On the recommendation of a friend, I was told, “Now you’ve got to read her first novel, The Secret History. So I realize I’m late to the party on this one, but wow, was this a great book. The novel […]