Category Archives: debut fiction

#FridayReads: EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, by Celeste Ng

Dear Readers,

Happy #FridayReads! I just finished Celeste Ng’s EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, which I enjoyed a lot. It’s a debut novel by a writer with an affiliation to my beloved Grub Street Writers, about how attitudes in and around a Chinese-American family in 1970s Ohio send emotional ripples from the parents to the children, with heartbreaking consequences.


A great cause-and-effect book of how our presumptions and misunderstandings can affect each other, EVERYTHING reminded me a little of THE MEMORY KEEPER’S DAUGHTER with its readability and emphasis on the sadness and destruction of secrets kept. But (& ever though I hate to talk smack about another writer) I thought the writing and premise in EVERYTHING was much better, with less melodrama and more beautiful similes (I always love a good simile!).

Top 14 Books of 2014

Dearest ones! It’s that time of year again–to FREAK THE F OUT BECAUSE YOU STILL NEED PRESENTS FOR PEOPLE ON YOUR EVER-LOVIN’ LIST! Never fear, stressed Santas. You may have heard that #BooksMakeGreatGifts, and since you no doubt do not have time to sit down and read a bunch of them right this very second, I will recommend some for you, with Cliff Notes. Also luckily, 2014 was a terrific year for reading! So many astonishingly good books by debut and esteemed authors. Put these in your sack, and if you have time, enjoy before giving (just make sure not to eat chocolate while reading. Those fingerprints will give you away every time).

#FridayReads: THE LAST DAYS OF CALIFORNIA by Mary Miller

Dear Readers:

You know a novel has to be good when it can overcome my traditional aversion to teenaged narrators–Holden Caulfield, Katniss Everdeen, Gabriela from Iris Gomez’s TRY TO REMEMBER, and Karen Thompson Walker’s Julia from THE AGE OF MIRACLES excepted. To that company I’m adding Jess, the heroine of debut novel & Indiebound pick THE LAST DAYS OF CALIFORNIA, who tells this story of a Rapture-bound road trip with her family that starts in a Waffle House en route from Alabama to California (where the world will naturally end).
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Friday Reads: AN UNSEEMLY WIFE, by E.B. Moore

Dear Readers,

Every once in a while you come across a book that contains a scene so memorable that it elevates the story from being a good read to great literature. An event so haunting you reread the story for years to come just to read that scene, because you know it’s coming, even as you wince in foreknowledge for the poor characters. A scene that makes you think, “Oh no, she DIDN’T!” at the writer because what she just did to her people was so terrible yet true, because he was brave enough to do it.

I’m thinking of Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard To Find,” for instance, when the Misfit takes the family into the woods.

Friday Reads: STARTER HOUSE, by Sonja Condit

Dear Readers,

This week’s #FridayReads: another gripping debut novel! STARTER HOUSE, by Sonja Condit.

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I found this novel in an airport bookstore–Barbara’s Books in O’Hare, to be exact. THIS is precisely why we must continue to support our real bookstores–because it helps us discover books and authors we love! I hadn’t heard of STARTER HOUSE before finding it while browsing, but here’s how it worked:

1. The cover pulled me in. (Yes, we do judge books by their covers!) And I loved the title, which reminded me of “House Hunters” on HGTV, to which I am addicted.

Friday Reads: THE WIVES OF LOS ALAMOS, by TaraShea Nesbit

Dear Readers,

Today’s #FridayReads brings me back to the stunning debut novel! This week’s is THE WIVES OF LOS ALAMOS, by TaraShea Nesbit.

I had the privilege of participating in a round table writing discussion last week with novelists Rebecca Rotert (more about her soon!) and TaraShea, and I was enthralled by TaraShea’s description of her novel, which went something like this: