Tuesday, December 20, 2016

2016 Review: First Time Writers To Watch

Here are the books I read or reviewed in 2016 that were the authors first book. It is one of the perks of reviewing new books that I can discover emerging voices.


The Nix by Nathan Hill was one of my favorite books of the year. A floundering man seeks to understand the mother who left him as a child by discovering her past.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Imbue considers the American Dream through immigrants from Cameroon and their employers whose dream is unraveling. Stunning.

The Mortifications by Derek Palacio takes readers on a journey into the human heart through Cuban refugees struggling with their own demons and working out their own salvation.

My Last Continent by Midge Raymond warns about habitat threats to the penguins of Antarctica through a tragic love story.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly's Historical Fiction novel concerns the 'rabbits', Polish girls who underwent horrendous 'medical research' at the Ravensbruck concentration camp, and the New York socialite Caroline Ferriday who changes their lives,

The Expense of a View by Polly Buckingham is an award winning collection of stories that probe the despair of people in crisis.

Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar is funny, improbable, and emotionally wise. A Czech astronaut sent to explore a strange entity seeks expiation for his father's crimes as a Soviet informer. Review coming in 2017.

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney is a lovely paean to New York City through the eyes of an elderly woman recalling her life and career as the top female advertising writer in the 1930s. Review coming in 2017.

Absalom's Daughters by Suzanne Feldman considers race and identity through two half-sisters, one black and once who can pass as white, as they travel through the Jim Crow South in search of their father.

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Skaran tells the heartbreaking story of an illegal immigrant whose child is fostered by an Indian-American couple who want to adopt him. Review coming in 2017.

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich is a lyrical story of the redemptive power of love through a woman who cares for a husband with early onset Alzheimer's and her obsession over the tragedy of his first family. Review coming in 2017.

All the Winters After by Sere Prince Halverson is an Alaskan story of love and redemption.

The Longest Night by Andria Williams was inspired by the true story of a nuclear reactor accident.

Fobbit by David Abrams is a satirical novel about the absurdities behind the scenes during the Iraq war.

Sirius by Jonathan Crown is an alternatie history starring a spunky Jewish dog who becomes a Hollywood star, and accidentally becomes a spy when Hitler adopts him,

Mr. Eternity by Aaron Thier is a genre-bending novel that jumps through time with Robinson Crusoe, offering a chilling glimpse into an unrecognizable world altered by climate change.

Lay Down Your Weary Tune by W. B. Belcher is the story of confronting one's own demons and the toll paid by fame.

Angels of Detroit by Christopher Herbert is a sprawling novel with unforgettable characters, each obsessed with their own view of Detroit's future.

Nelly Dean: A Return to Wuthering Heights by Alison Case recounts Bronte's story from a new viewpoint.

Black River by S. M. Hulse is the story of a man who has undergone horrendous loss, and is confronted the challenge to forgive. My second reading, for book club, of a book I read in 2014.


Born a Crime by Trevor Noah is a love letter to Noah's remarkable mother as he tells his story of growing up in Apartheid South Africa as 'a crime', the illegally conceived child of a European father and African mother.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalathani recounts his life-long search for meaning in context of learning that he is dying of cancer.

Lab Girl is Hope Jahren's memoir addressing her love of nature and struggle as a bipolar female scientist.

Spaceman by Mike Massamino recounts his career as an astronaut with humility and graciousness. A joyful memoir.

The Clancy of Queens is Tara Clancy's humorous and warm memoir of growing up able to leap social classes in a single bound.
Unmentionable by Therese Oneill is a hilarious consideration of the reality of women's lives in the 19th c,

Dog Medicine by Julie Barton is a memoir of her debilitating depression and how her dog Bunker gave her the purpose and love she needed to recover.

Smoke the Donkey by Cate Folsom recounts how a wild donkey helped soldiers heal and the remarkable battle to bring Smoke to America.

The Thunder Before the Storm by Clyde Bellencourt is a raw and unvarnished story of a man's discovering his roots and his fight to protect American Indian traditions.

Fast Into the Night by Debbie Clark Moderow recounts her journey to the Iditarod.

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