A fiction book recommendation: The Burning Girl: A Novel by Claire Messud

A critic review (source NY Journal of Books) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2DgU2U1.
Claire Messud is undoubtedly a deeply skilled writer and storyteller. The Burning Girl is certainly a competent addition to the girl friendship novels, coming-of-age stories, and reminiscences of lost youth and friendship, but it is not poignant, powerful, or memorable enough for such a genre and such a story.
Book description from Google Books:
Julia and Cassie have been friends since nursery school. They have shared everything, including their desire to escape the stifling limitations of their birthplace, the quiet town of Royston, Massachusetts. But as the two girls enter adolescence, their paths diverge and Cassie sets out on a journey that will put her life in danger and shatter her oldest friendship. The Burning Girl is a complex examination of the stories we tell ourselves about youth and friendship, and straddles, expertly, childhood’s imaginary worlds and painful adult reality–crafting a true, immediate portrait of female adolescence.Claire Messud, one of our finest novelists, is as accomplished at weaving a compelling fictional world as she is at asking the big questions: To what extent can we know ourselves and others? What are the stories we create to comprehend our lives and relationships? Brilliantly mixing fable and coming-of-age tale, The Burning Girl gets to the heart of these matters in an absolutely irresistible way.
The book is rated 3.32/5 at goodreads.com, from 4770 ratings. See 748 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DKUQ4k.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2DgdYGq.

A fiction book recommendation: The Golden House: A Novel by Salman Rushdie

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2Dqe3IG.
Rushdie has always been an impish myth-manipulator, refusing to accept, as in this novel, that the lives of the emperors can’t be blended with film noir, popular culture and crime caper. On the evidence of The Golden House, he is quite right.
Book description from Google Books:
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * A modern American epic set against the panorama of contemporary politics and culture–a hurtling, page-turning mystery that is equal parts The Great Gatsby and The Bonfire of the Vanities On the day of Barack Obama’s inauguration, an enigmatic billionaire from foreign shores takes up residence in the architectural jewel of “the Gardens,” a cloistered community in New York’s Greenwich Village. The neighborhood is a bubble within a bubble, and the residents are immediately intrigued by the eccentric newcomer and his family. Along with his improbable name, untraceable accent, and unmistakable whiff of danger, Nero Golden has brought along his three adult sons: agoraphobic, alcoholic Petya, a brilliant recluse with a tortured mind; Apu, the flamboyant artist, sexually and spiritually omnivorous, famous on twenty blocks; and D, at twenty-two the baby of the family, harboring an explosive secret even from himself. There is no mother, no wife; at least not until Vasilisa, a sleek Russian expat, snags the septuagenarian Nero, becoming the queen to his king–a queen in want of an heir. Our guide to the Goldens’ world is their neighbor Ren�, an ambitious young filmmaker. Researching a movie about the Goldens, he ingratiates himself into their household. Seduced by their mystique, he is inevitably implicated in their quarrels, their infidelities, and, indeed, their crimes. Meanwhile, like a bad joke, a certain comic-book villain embarks upon a crass presidential run that turns New York upside-down. Set against the strange and exuberant backdrop of current American culture and politics, The Golden House also marks Salman Rushdie’s triumphant and exciting return to realism. The result is a modern epic of love and terrorism, loss and reinvention–a powerful, timely story told with the daring and panache that make Salman Rushdie a force of light in our dark new age. Praise for The Golden House “If you read a lot of fiction, you know that every once in a while you stumble upon a book that transports you, telling a story full of wonder and leaving you marveling at how it ever came out of the author’s head. The Golden House is one of those books. . . . [It] tackles more than a handful of universal truths while feeling wholly original.”–The Associated Press “The Golden House . . . ranks among Rushdie’s most ambitious and provocative books [and] displays the quicksilver wit and playful storytelling of Rushdie’s best work.”–USA Today “[The Golden House] is a recognizably Rushdie novel in its playfulness, its verbal jousting, its audacious bravado, its unapologetic erudition, and its sheer, dazzling brilliance.”–The Boston Globe
The book is rated 3.68/5 at goodreads.com, from 2472 ratings. See 605 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DrZp3H.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2CUVk6M.

A fiction book recommendation: Reincarnation Blues: A Novel by Michael Poore

A critic review (source NY Journal of Books) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2Dp7Axr.
The overall effect is charming, the book stands on its own, and it straddles that line between literary and scifi well (with heavy leaning on the scifi side), doing justice to both genres.
Book description from Google Books:
A wildly imaginative novel about a man who is reincarnated over ten thousand lifetimes to be with his one true love: Death herself. “Tales of gods and men akin to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman as penned by a kindred spirit of Douglas Adams.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review) First we live. Then we die. And then . . . we get another try? Ten thousand tries, to be exact. Ten thousand lives to “get it right.” Answer all the Big Questions. Achieve Wisdom. And Become One with Everything. Milo has had 9,995 chances so far and has just five more lives to earn a place in the cosmic soul. If he doesn’t make the cut, oblivion awaits. But all Milo really wants is to fall forever into the arms of Death. Or Suzie, as he calls her. More than just Milo’s lover throughout his countless layovers in the Afterlife, Suzie is literally his reason for living–as he dives into one new existence after another, praying for the day he’ll never have to leave her side again. But Reincarnation Blues is more than a great love story: Every journey from cradle to grave offers Milo more pieces of the great cosmic puzzle–if only he can piece them together in time to finally understand what it means to be part of something bigger than infinity. As darkly enchanting as the works of Neil Gaiman and as wisely hilarious as Kurt Vonnegut’s, Michael Poore’s Reincarnation Blues is the story of everything that makes life profound, beautiful, absurd, and heartbreaking. Because it’s more than Milo and Suzie’s story. It’s your story, too.
The book is rated 4.01/5 at goodreads.com, from 1843 ratings. See 496 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CYokus.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2DrNnHv.

A fiction book recommendation: Made for Love by Alissa Nutting

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2DqAugB.
Made for Love has a deviant instinct that make it initially captivating — but it doesn’t do the necessary other work of a good novel. For all the ostensible unexpectedness (again, dolphins), it rarely surprises.
Book description from Google Books:
From one of our most exciting and provocative young writers, a poignant, riotously funny story of how far some will go for love—and how far some will go to escape it. Hazel has just moved into a trailer park of senior citizens, with her father and Diane—his extremely lifelike sex doll—as her roommates. Life with Hazel’s father is strained at best, but her only alternative seems even bleaker. She’s just run out on her marriage to Byron Gogol, CEO and founder of Gogol Industries, a monolithic corporation hell-bent on making its products and technologies indispensable in daily life. For over a decade, Hazel put up with being veritably quarantined by Byron in the family compound, her every movement and vital sign tracked. But when he demands to wirelessly connect the two of them via brain chips in a first-ever human “mind-meld,” Hazel decides what was once merely irritating has become unbearable. The world she escapes into is a far cry from the dry and clinical bubble she’s been living in, a world populated with a whole host of deviant oddballs. As Hazel tries to carve out a new life for herself in this uncharted territory, Byron is using the most sophisticated tools at his disposal to find her and bring her home. His threats become more and more sinister, and Hazel is forced to take drastic measures in order to find a home of her own and free herself from Byron’s virtual clutches once and for all. Perceptive and compulsively readable, Made for Love is at once an absurd, raunchy comedy and a dazzling, profound meditation marriage, monogamy, and family.
The book is rated 3.53/5 at goodreads.com, from 1817 ratings. See 425 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2D0BNSC.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2Dt7ogJ.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A fiction book recommendation: The Burning Girl: A Novel by Claire Messud

A critic review (source NY Journal of Books) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2DgU2U1.
Claire Messud is undoubtedly a deeply skilled writer and storyteller. The Burning Girl is certainly a competent addition to the girl friendship novels, coming-of-age stories, and reminiscences of lost youth and friendship, but it is not poignant, powerful, or memorable enough for such a genre and such a story.
Book description from Google Books:
Julia and Cassie have been friends since nursery school. They have shared everything, including their desire to escape the stifling limitations of their birthplace, the quiet town of Royston, Massachusetts. But as the two girls enter adolescence, their paths diverge and Cassie sets out on a journey that will put her life in danger and shatter her oldest friendship. The Burning Girl is a complex examination of the stories we tell ourselves about youth and friendship, and straddles, expertly, childhood’s imaginary worlds and painful adult reality–crafting a true, immediate portrait of female adolescence.Claire Messud, one of our finest novelists, is as accomplished at weaving a compelling fictional world as she is at asking the big questions: To what extent can we know ourselves and others? What are the stories we create to comprehend our lives and relationships? Brilliantly mixing fable and coming-of-age tale, The Burning Girl gets to the heart of these matters in an absolutely irresistible way.
The book is rated 3.32/5 at goodreads.com, from 4683 ratings. See 736 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DKUQ4k.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2DgdYGq.

A fiction book recommendation: If the Creek Don’t Rise: A Novel by Leah Weiss

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2Di5UoH.
Weiss steadily builds the tension to an ending you knew was coming — and, let’s be honest, probably hoped for — yet it still arrives as a sudden, powerful shock. It’s a shock that lingers…
Book description from Google Books:
“[A] striking debut…” — BUSTLE  “…masterful use of language….Weiss’ novel is a great suggestion for fans of the Big Stone Gap books, by Adriana Trigiani, and Mitford series, by Jan Karon.”—Booklist, STARRED ReviewHe’s gonna be sorry he ever messed with me and Loretta LynnSadie Blue has been a wife for fifteen days. That’s long enough to know she should have never hitched herself to Roy Tupkin, even with the baby. Sadie is desperate to make her own mark on the world, but in remote Appalachia, a ticket out of town is hard to come by, and hope often gets stomped out. When a stranger sweeps into Baines Creek and knocks things off kilter, Sadie finds herself with an unexpected lifeline…if she can just figure out how to use it. This intimate insight into a fiercely proud, tenacious community unfolds through the voices of the forgotten folks of Baines Creek. With a colorful cast of characters that each contribute a new perspective, IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE is a debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.
The book is rated 4.03/5 at goodreads.com, from 2430 ratings. See 671 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DMqpek.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2Df9GPA.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A fiction book recommendation: If the Creek Don’t Rise: A Novel by Leah Weiss

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2Di5UoH.
Weiss steadily builds the tension to an ending you knew was coming — and, let’s be honest, probably hoped for — yet it still arrives as a sudden, powerful shock. It’s a shock that lingers…
Book description from Google Books:
“[A] striking debut…” — BUSTLE  “…masterful use of language….Weiss’ novel is a great suggestion for fans of the Big Stone Gap books, by Adriana Trigiani, and Mitford series, by Jan Karon.”—Booklist, STARRED ReviewHe’s gonna be sorry he ever messed with me and Loretta LynnSadie Blue has been a wife for fifteen days. That’s long enough to know she should have never hitched herself to Roy Tupkin, even with the baby. Sadie is desperate to make her own mark on the world, but in remote Appalachia, a ticket out of town is hard to come by, and hope often gets stomped out. When a stranger sweeps into Baines Creek and knocks things off kilter, Sadie finds herself with an unexpected lifeline…if she can just figure out how to use it. This intimate insight into a fiercely proud, tenacious community unfolds through the voices of the forgotten folks of Baines Creek. With a colorful cast of characters that each contribute a new perspective, IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE is a debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.
The book is rated 4.03/5 at goodreads.com, from 2430 ratings. See 671 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2DMqpek.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2Df9GPA.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A fiction book recommendation: Someone You Love Is Gone: A Novel by Gurjinder Basran

A critic review (source Toronto Star) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2DpSXdl.
Although epic in scope, Someone You Love is Gone is economically and poetically written. Playing with time and place, it serves up a rich narrative with a cultural and generation-crossing protagonist supported by a cast of equally compelling characters.
Book description from Google Books:
“A beautiful, haunting story of one family, spanning generations and continents, as they face life’s inevitable losses, struggle with grief and reach for redemption.”—Shilpi Somaya Gowda, New York Times bestselling author of Secret Daughter and The Golden SonPerfect for readers of Jhumpa Lahiri and Anne Tyler, Someone You Love Is Gone is a beautifully rendered, multi-generational story of secrets and ghosts that haunt a family.I sit at the table and forget myself for a moment and the past steps forward. The house is as it was before Father died, and even before that, before Diwa left and before Jyoti was born. The house had a different light then or perhaps that’s just memory casting a glow on everything, candlelight and sunset, everything only slightly visible. Mother is in the kitchen, washing the dinner dishes. Steam is rising and the window in front of her fogs over her reflection. Even here, she is a ghost. Simran’s mother has died but is not gone. Haunted by her mother’s spirit and memories of the past, she struggles to make sense of her world. Faced with disillusion in her marriage, growing distance from her daughter and sister, and the return of her long-estranged brother, she is troubled by questions to which she has no answers. As the life Simran has carefully constructed unravels, she must confront the truth of why her brother was separated from the family at a young age, and in doing so she uncovers an ancestral inheritance that changes everything. She allows her grief to transform her life, but in ways that ultimately give her the deep sense of self she has been craving, discovering along the way family secrets that cross continents, generations, and even lifetimes. Gurjinder Basran’s mesmerizingly beautiful novel, Someone You Love Is Gone, is a powerful exploration of loss and love, memory and history, family ties and family secrets, and the thin veil between this life and the next. 
The book is rated 3.85/5 at goodreads.com, from 191 ratings. See 41 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2CUiOZJ.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2Dq5VaQ.

A fiction book recommendation: Smile: A Novel by Roddy Doyle

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2D8gHlh.
Like all good literature, it will inspire debate but also admiration for the courage of a hugely successful writer who refuses to be predictable and uses the novel to challenge both the reader’s sense of ease and the nature of the form itself.
Book description from Google Books:
From the author of the Booker Prize winning Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, a bold, haunting novel about the uncertainty of memory and how we contend with the past. “It’s his bravest novel yet; it’s also, by far, his best.” — npr.org “The closest thing he’s written to a psychological thriller.”- The New York Times Book Review Just moved into a new apartment, alone for the first time in years, Victor Forde goes every evening to Donnelly’s for a pint, a slow one. One evening his drink is interrupted. A man in shorts and a pink shirt comes over and sits down. He seems to know Victor’s name and to remember him from secondary school. His name is Fitzpatrick. Victor dislikes him on sight, dislikes, too, the memories that Fitzpatrick stirs up of five years being taught by the Christian Brothers. He prompts other memories–of Rachel, his beautiful wife who became a celebrity, and of Victor’s own small claim to fame, as the man who would say the unsayable on the radio. But it’s the memories of school, and of one particular brother, that Victor cannot control and which eventually threaten to destroy his sanity. Smile has all the features for which Roddy Doyle has become famous: the razor-sharp dialogue, the humor, the superb evocation of adolescence, but this is a novel unlike any he has written before. When you finish the last page you will have been challenged to reevaluate everything you think you remember so clearly.
The book is rated 3.50/5 at goodreads.com, from 1108 ratings. See 223 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2D8gRsT.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2D6GCtA.

A fiction book recommendation: The Late Show by Michael Connelly

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2DafqKg.
“The Late Show” is a well-written, fast-paced, compelling and interesting crime thriller. I miss Harry Bosch, but I enjoyed meeting Renee Ballard.
Book description from Google Books:
Introducing Renée Ballard, a fierce young detective fighting to prove herself on the LAPD’s toughest beat, from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly.Renée Ballard works the night shift in Hollywood–also known as the Late Show–beginning many investigations but finishing none, as each morning she turns everything over to the day shift. A once up-and-coming detective, she’s been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.But one night she catches two assignments she doesn’t want to part with: the brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. As the investigations entwine, they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won’t give up her job, no matter what the department throws at her.
The book is rated 4.06/5 at goodreads.com, from 21272 ratings. See 2633 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2D4lweU.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2D6iEhQ.