Jill McCorkle’s Hieroglyphics (2020 Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill) is a patchwork quilt made with scraps of guilt, trauma, secrets, family, survival, and mortality.  At its heart, it is a novel of the things we cling to to remember and be remembered. Lil and Frank have retired to North Carolina from the brisk winters ofContinue reading “HIEROGLYPHICS – Jill McCorkle”

SHUGGIE BAIN – Douglas Stuart

He wanted to crush her with his secrets the way she had once done him with hers. “What’s wrong with me, Mammy?” He asked quietly. 262 Douglas Stuart’s debut novel, Shuggie Bain (Grove Press, 2020) was recently awarded the highly coveted Booker Prize.  It’s my favorite book award, and I try and read some ofContinue reading “SHUGGIE BAIN – Douglas Stuart”

THE MOUNTAINS SING – Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

It truly has been the season of “women at war” books for this booknerd.  After I left Korea, I went to Vietnam and a family saga that spans decades of turmoil.  The Mountains Sing (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2020) is Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s first novel in English.  A celebrated poet, Mai’s language purrsContinue reading “THE MOUNTAINS SING – Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai”

RIOT BABY – Tochi Onyebuchi

“If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see torches in the woods, keep going.  If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”  Riot Baby, 124 Tochi Onyebuchi’s Riot Baby (2020) perfectly illustrates how successful science fiction can be at providingContinue reading “RIOT BABY – Tochi Onyebuchi”

BESTIARY – K-Ming Chang

Jie says she once saw two girl ghosts kissing in the creek. I mishear her and think she means they were cleaning the creek. Why? I say.  Jie says, Because a god made them want but didn’t give them a word for it. Bestiary (One World, a Random House imprint, 2020)is K-Ming Chang’s gritty andContinue reading “BESTIARY – K-Ming Chang”


In January of this year, I posted a review of Kwame Mbalia’s Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky.  In that review, I encouraged everyone to read the book and to it in little hands.  Representation matters, and the literary world needed (and still needs) that “nerdy, black kid from Chicago.”   In February,Continue reading “TRISTAN STRONG DESTROYS THE WORLD – Kwame Mbalia”


“Because happiness is brief, and history is lasting, and in the end,” he says, “everyone wants to be remembered.”  “I saw an elephant in Paris.” V.E. Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue (Oct 2020) certainly received a lot of hype as its publication date approached.  I saw ARCs of this book EVERYWHERE.  It wasContinue reading “THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE – V.E. Schwab”

MEXICAN GOTHIC – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

  This one is likely going to be long and full of spoilers.  If you intend to read Mexican Gothic (2020 Random House) by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and don’t want spoilers, just tiptoe on out.  I’ll wait. Okay. Mexican Gothic was one of the most anticipated reads of the summer, and its gorgeous cover was everywhere;Continue reading “MEXICAN GOTHIC – Silvia Moreno-Garcia”

CONJURE WOMEN – Afia Atakora

One of my more recent goals has been to read more “new” releases, particularly from debut authors and authors of color.  I ordered Conjure Women because it ticked off several of my boxes.  It is a debut novel by an author of color, but more importantly, it’s the type of book my shelves crave: magicalContinue reading “CONJURE WOMEN – Afia Atakora”


In 1915, Edgar Lee Masters published Spoon River Anthology, a collection of short free verse poems that served as epitaphs for the residents of the fictional Spoon River. Masters gave a voice to the dead – and splayed the ghosts in their closets, their shattered dreams, their angry fists, their vices and virtues, their hopesContinue reading “UNDER THE RAINBOW – Celia Laskey”