Saturday, March 17, 2018

Book Review: Rainbirds

Author: Clarissa Goenawan
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Soho Press

Set in an imagined town outside Tokyo, Clarissa Goenawan’s dark, spellbinding literary debut follows a young man’s path to self-discovery in the wake of his sister’s murder.

Ren Ishida has nearly completed his graduate degree at Keio University when he receives news of his sister’s violent death. Keiko was stabbed one rainy night on her way home, and there are no leads. Ren heads to Akakawa to conclude his sister’s affairs, failing to understand why she chose to turn her back on the family and Tokyo for this desolate place years ago.

But then Ren is offered Keiko’s newly vacant teaching position at a prestigious local cram school and her bizarre former arrangement of free lodging at a wealthy politician’s mansion in exchange for reading to the man’s ailing wife. He accepts both, abandoning Tokyo and his crumbling relationship there in order to better understand his sister’s life and what took place the night of her death.

As Ren comes to know the eccentric local figures, from the enigmatic politician who’s boarding him to his fellow teachers and a rebellious, captivating young female student, he delves into his shared childhood with Keiko and what followed. Haunted in his dreams by a young girl who is desperately trying to tell him something, Ren realizes that Keiko Ishida kept many secrets, even from him.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Book Review: A Girl Like That

A Girl Like ThatAuthor: Tanaz Bhathena
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers

A timeless exploration of high-stakes romance, self-discovery, and the lengths we go to love and be loved. 

Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school.  You don't want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.

This beautifully written debut novel from Tanaz Bhathena reveals a rich and wonderful new world to readers. It tackles complicated issues of race, identity, class, and religion, and paints a portrait of teenage ambition, angst, and alienation that feels both inventive and universal.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Book Review: The Policeman's Daughter

Author: Trudy Nan Boyce
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Series: Detective Sarah Alt # 3

From author Trudy Nan Boyce, whose police procedural debut was hailed as "authentic" (NYTBR) and "exceptional" (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel), returns with a stunning prequel to the Detective Salt series, the story behind the case that earned Salt her promotion to homicide.

At the beginning of her career, Sarah "Salt" Alt was a beat cop in Atlanta's poorest, most violent housing project, The Homes. It is here that she meets the cast of misfits and criminals that will have a profound impact on her later cases: Man Man, the leader of the local gang on his way to better places; street dealer Lil D and his family; and Sister Connelly, old and observant, the matriarch of the neighborhood. A lone patrolwoman, Salt's closest lifeline is her friend and colleague Pepper, on his own beat nearby. And when a murder in The Homes brings detectives to the scene, Salt draws closer to Detective Wills, initiating a romance complicated by their positions on the force. 

When Salt is shot and sustains a head injury during a routine traffic stop, the resulting visions begin leading her toward answers in the case that makes her career. This is the tale of a woman who solves crimes through a combination of keen observation, grunt work, and pure gut instinct; this is the making of Detective Salt.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Book Review: Next Year In Havana

Author: Chanel Cleeton
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Berkley

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary...

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.