Category: Fiction

Apr 28 2018

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

What an incredibly annoying book. Imagine, if you will, a family where the parents ignore two of their children but place all their hopes and dreams and crushing projections on the one daughter who winds up dead soon after her sixteenth birthday, after which the parents learn to become better parents, and maybe better partners …

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Jan 26 2018

An Excess Male by Maggie Shen King

4.5 stars It feels a bit mean to criticize such a thoughtful book, but I did have very long stretches of not understanding how Wei Guo could possibly be as awesome as he is given his surroundings and upbringing. Then I remind myself that he’s 44 years old and has spent that time learning how …

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Jan 24 2018

Goodbye, Moskau by Wladimir Kaminer

Wladimir Kaminer left Moscow for Berlin in 1990, and since then he has lived and chronicled the life of a Russian in the German capital. In roughly two dozen books, beginning with Russendisko (Russian Disco, first published in 2000), he explores with droll humor what it’s like to make a new life in a changing …

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Dec 30 2017

Rich People Problems (Crazy Rich Asians #3) by Kevin Kwan

The third book in the series felt like the weakest, and tho Kevin Kwan tried to make a point about how the old guard are mostly a bunch of racist elitists who are insecure because they inherited everything instead of making their own fortunes, I really felt like that one scene was just a ham-handed …

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Dec 26 2017

China Rich Girlfriend (Crazy Rich Asians, #2) by Kevin Kwan

I think the thing I found most infuriating about this book was how it was taken as a matter of course that everyone would be so incredibly disrespectful of their parents. I mean, I’m not terribly close to my own parents and have gone my quietly rebellious way from what they had in mind for …

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Nov 04 2017

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

So this is not the book to start with if you’re new to Liane Moriarty. Ordinarily, she writes suspenseful novels of the secrets hidden behind the facade of the average (Australian) suburbanite, and usually she makes good use of interesting plot mechanisms to create dazzling puzzle boxes of novels. But Truly Madly Guilty’s mechanism is …

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Oct 27 2017

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This was pretty terrific. Kambili is the daughter of Eugene, a Great Man: he’s a pillar of the community, and not just of the towns they shuttle between in a migration familiar to anyone who’s ever grown up middle class or better in a third-world country. He’s a big deal in Nigeria, a wealthy, self-made …

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Sep 18 2017

A Most Wanted Man by John Le Carré

It’s a John Le Carré book, so you know that someone is going to get screwed in the end. In his Cold War books, which were on the whole more subtle in their plotting if not as deft in their characterization, it wasn’t always possible to tell who was doing just what to whom, because …

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May 28 2017

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly

As far as fantasy novels go, this has a great setting and characters (with one exception that I’ll get to in a minute) and above all atmosphere. Essentially an alternate world take on Weimar Berlin before the fascists’ rise to power, it depicts life lived on a razor’s age, hedonism in the maw of societal …

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May 15 2017

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Reader, I devoured this book on my road trip to visit my in-laws over Mother’s Day weekend. It is, as the author admits, something of a ridiculous novel: a contemporary of Jane Eyre’s contemplates the similarities between their lives even as she herself, the titular Jane Steele, solves problems by means of murder, and finds …

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