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A Burning: A novel by Megha Majumdar - Book Reveiw

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ISBN: 9780525658696
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Published: Knopf - June 2nd, 2020

This remarkable debut novel follows the lives of three people in Bengal. Jivan is a young Muslim who is imprisoned for the firebombing of a crowded train. Lovely is an aspiring actress whose dreams of stardom in the movies are threatened by her public insistence that Jivan is innocent of the terrible crime. PT Sir, a morally pliable gym teacher, also understands that his ambitions to ascend the political ladder will be compromised if he doesn't accede to the government's demand that someone be punished for the terrorist attack. Beautifully written, A Burning is a powerful and ultimately moving look at the politics, the religions, the customs, and the social disparity between the rich and the poor in a culturally vibrant, but little known part of the world. Easily one of the year's most impressive works of fiction. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

Valentine: A Novel by Elizabeth Wetmore - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780062913265
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Published: Harper - March 31st, 2020

The rape and near-fatal beating of a 14-year-old girl by a worker in the oil fields adjoining the town of Odessa, Texas sends tremors throughout the community. It sets off warning signals to many local women, who have been wary of the hundreds of men recently drawn to the area by the prospect of good paying jobs with the oil company. The brutal attack is largely minimized or dismissed by others who view the Mexican child as the instigator and the prosecution of the crime as a potential threat to their livelihoods. Although this story is set in 1976, the potent themes that pervade and propel it, both social and economic, still reverberate today. This is a very impressive first novel. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

Little Eyes: A Novel by Samanta Schweblin - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780525541363
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Published: Riverhead Books - May 5th, 2020

Set in a foreseeable future, this is an intriguing, fiercely original novel about those who watch and those who agree to be watched. The kentuki might bear a resemblance to a child's stuffed toy, but it is a technologically intricate passageway linking the lives of two people who have never spoken a word to each other. The virtual connection between strangers can alleviate loneliness, open up new horizons, inspire affection, or precipitate a descent into paranoia and fear. The author's ultimate success is making it all seem not only plausible, but inevitable. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

Hard Cash Valley: A Novel by Brian Panowich - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781250206923
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Published: Minotaur Books - May 5th, 2020

The author returns to familiar territory in this taut race-against-time to find a missing child with Asperger's Syndrome before the bad guys do. Set in the crime-infested region of McFalls County in northern Georgia, this noirish thriller is replete with a particularly grisly murder, pitiless hitmen, cockfighting, and a large sum of elusive money. A former fire chief, tortured with memories of the past, and an FBI agent who has a chip on her shoulder roughly the size of a barn door wind their way through a trail of dead bodies trying to find the boy. Unpretentious, compulsively readable, and ideal escapist entertainment at this particular moment in time. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

Sea Wife: A novel by Amity Gaige - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780525656494
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Published: Knopf - April 28th, 2020

A man convinces his reluctant wife to embark on a dream of his--to buy a boat and simply sail away from his suffocating landlocked existence. The couple doesn't find, however, that their problems miraculously vanish by entrusting their lives to the vagaries of the wind. This novel is as much the dissection of a troubled marriage as it is a thrilling adventure story and there is a pervading sense of doom that hovers over both aspects like ominous dark clouds on the horizon. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves

Sorry for Your Trouble: Stories by Richard Ford - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780062969804
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Published: Ecco - May 12th, 2020

A collection of short stories and two novellas from one of America's finest writers. The locations range from Louisiana to the coast of Maine to Ireland, but the themes are both universal and timeless: loss and loneliness, faithfulness and infidelity, regret and redemption. Ford is a master at creating psychologically fragile characters and placing them in situations that demand they draw from the wellsprings of strength that is equally a part of being human. By turns the stories are unaffectedly candid, funny, and always hopeful. ~ Reviewed by Alden Graves


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