Category: Commercial FIction Reviews

A review of My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Every story told in the book is written as a past memory and Lucy intertwines her own reflections as she tells her story. The story is told through the narrator’s point of view in the same fashion one would write a memoir about his or her own life. What Elizabeth Strout has done so brilliantly is convinced readers that Lucy’s life is real and we are a part of it.

A review of The A to Z of Normal by Helen Barbour

The A to Z of Normal, by British author Helen Barbour, is a “relationship novel,” but has more to say than a romance, or a “chick lit” book. Readers like to learn while being entertained, and in this novel, Ms. Barbour gently educates us about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and deserves praise for recognizing the dramatic potential in a subject seldom-explored in fiction.

A review of Things Unsaid by Diana Y Paul

Paul presents a solidly-written cast of characters who are relatable in their imperfections and sense of duty to both their blood and created families. Readers are sure to recognize at least a trace of their own family dynamic in these characters.

A review of Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Grisham employs several new strategies that constitute his most meaningful strides towards lessening prejudice against women and giving them a strong status in the legal field as is true nowadays in attempting to create a strong novel with a strong heroine: nearly no objectification towards women, objectification of men, and verbalized desire to change their status quo and lessen objectification.

A review of Wild Things by Brigid Delaney

Though it is an intense and sometimes brutal read, Wild Things reveals its truths slowly, showing rather than telling, in the spaces between the story. The mystery of what exactly happened to Alfred is what drives the narrative forward, almost with a detective story pace,but in terms of its themes and the development of the characters, the story cuts deeply. The multi-layered narrative structure with its reversing arcs between Ben and Toby is particularly effective.

A review of After You by Jojo Moyes

After You has many strengths, including an important theme and a compassionate, capable central character who follows her instincts in the face of unsolicited advice. Well structured, with much dramatic tension, After You can stand alone, independent of Me Before You. Significant information from the earlier novel is worked smoothly into the narrative in a way that maximizes suspense.

A review of The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham

Readers enjoy seeing the triumph of an underdog, particularly one who has been good to her persecutors and has given them a second chance to treat her decently. Rosalie Ham’s witty writing and clever structure make this novel exceptional. The division of the book into four sections: Gingham, Shantung, Felt and Brocade, is not just a cute way of furthering the sewing motif; rather, the names are symbolic.

A review of Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor

O’Connor portrays Emily sensitively and sympathetically. Writers will identify with her need for peace and solitude, co-existing with a yearning for understanding and closeness. Emily’s girlhood friend, Susan Gilbert, who married her brother, Austen, was her closest friend.

A review of Sweetwater Blues by Raymond L. Atkins

Atkins builds Cray as a complex young man capable of intense loyalty, instinctive physical responses that surprise, and deep thought. Cray’s father plays an important role in the novel, as his presence offers the reason we don’t follow the usual path of prison life.

A review of Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack

Despite all that, the author makes the story come together and the book is a light fun summer read, especially for those who like dabbling in reincarnation stories. Being a historical fantasy with a spiritual sub-plot the story also brings past social mores, politics, and people from far-flung places to life, as the reader and protagonists rush about from ancient Egypt, through Russia, to other parts unknown.