Reviews

This is for an in-depth review of a book, this is not to be confused with the staff recommendations page.

Our October Brazos Best: RETURN TO THE DARK VALLEY

Colombian author Santiago Gamboa is that rarest of writers; a literary author who also writes riveting, globe-spanning thrillers. I first discovered him through his novel NECROPOLIS, a novel bursting with plots and subplots. Taking place over the span of a weekend in Jerusalem, NECROPOLIS is replete with stories packed like Russian eggs; paramilitaries, writers, even pimps, fill the pages of this masterful book. Upon reading it I was struck by the voice of the author, an important new voice from Latin America long overdue in English.

Return to the Dark Valley Cover Image
By Santiago Gamboa, Howard Curtis (Translator)
$18.00
ISBN: 9781609454258
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - September 19th, 2017

Review: AFFECTIONS, by Rodrigo Hasbún

Bolivian writer (and Houston resident) Rodrigo Hasbún is a writer with startling skills. In 2010 he was listed by Granta as one of the twenty best writers in Spanish under the age of 35. His English-language debut, AFFECTIONS, is coming out this month and we’re all excited to see Rodrigo read and discuss this remarkable novel on Tuesday September 12th at 7 PM.

Affections Cover Image
By Rodrigo Hasbun, Sophie Hughes (Translator)
$23.00
ISBN: 9781501154799
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 12th, 2017

The Golem and the Jinni (Helene Wecker)

The Golem and the Jinni Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062110848
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - December 31st, 2013

Two fantastic creatures find their way through turn-of-the-century New York in Wecker's intricate debut novel. Weaving multiple strands of mythology and immigrant folklore with more human and grounded concerns, like the always-understandable desire for belonging, THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI draws you into its vivid, sprawling, magical world--this historical fiction is anything but sepia-toned. Just try to put it down, if you can.


The Most of Nora Ephron (Nora Ephron)

The Most of Nora Ephron Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780385350839
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - October 29th, 2013

Nora Ephron's life and work is celebrated in this survey of her best pieces, crossing all genres and including essays, screenplays, journalism--even the commencement address she delivered at Wellesley College in 1996 (she was an alumna of the class of 1962), exhorting each student to "be the heroine of your own life." Always wise, violently brilliant, and above all funny as hell, this enormous collection is a fitting tribute to one of our best.


Little Brother (Cory Doctorow)

Little Brother Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9780765323118
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Books - April 13th, 2010

When its young hacker protagonists are detained by Homeland Security after a terrorist attack on San Francisco, LITTLE BROTHER brings us 1984 for the modern generation (with a more optimistic ending, thankfully). Winston might have done better if he could hack the government with an Xbox. Particularly relevant in our era of government surveillance and terrorism paranoia, Little Brother is a breakneck-paced, all-nighter kind of read.


Hyperbole and a Half (Allie Brosh)

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781451666175
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Touchstone Books - October 29th, 2013

Based on her award-winning blog mixing the absurdity of ordinary life with the evocative simplicity of MS Paint art, this first book by Allie Brosh is pure funny distilled into solid form. Her genius for storytelling, especially when discussing her neurotic pets or out-there childhood, will result in the most undignified laughter you may ever produce in your lifetime. The highlight of the book, however, is her spot-on and keenly felt recounting of her struggle with depression.


Sex and the Citadel (Shereen El Feki)

Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780307390295
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor Books - January 21st, 2014

El Feki perfectly balances a journalist's eye and a creative writer's turn of phrase to offer us an incredibly important look at an underrepresented aspect of Egyptian life. With Arab women and their culture often othered and alienated in Western eyes, this intimate yet open mix of bold analytics and deeply personal stories gives us a complicated and multidimensional view of sex in a changing region, and what that means for its future.


Good Omens (Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett)

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780060853976
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow & Company - August 7th, 2007

This longstanding favorite collaboration between two clever and inventive writers tells the story of an Apocalypse thrown off-kilter when the Antichrist is switched at birth. There are dozens of comic asides in footnotes, an incredibly rich ensemble (including a demon who threatens his houseplants into growing instead of watering them), and a deeply moving meditation on destiny from an eleven year-old boy. Yet somehow, in the face of all the supernatural messes, the ordinary humans become the heroes. Good Omens is not only going to make you laugh until you cry, but also provoke some of the most interesting questions about faith and reality you've ever considered.


Henry IV, Part 1 (William Shakespeare)

Henry IV, Part 1 Cover Image
$8.00
ISBN: 9780812969245
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Modern Library - August 25th, 2009

If you only read one Shakespeare play in your life, read HENRY IV, PART 1. Don’t be put off by the title--it's really more about the future Henry V, and despite the “Part One,” this gem of a play stands alone. It’s the story of three Henrys: King Henry IV faces a rebellion led by heroic Henry “Hotspur” Percy, while his oldest son Prince Henry, called Hal, spends his days in taverns avoiding his responsibilities and committing various (hilarious) petty crimes with his best friend, the roguish old mischief-maker Sir John Falstaff. Hal purposefully cultivates his terrible reputation, to make his eventual "reform" that much more meaningful, but Hotspur’s rebellion forces Hal into growing up sooner than he’d anticipated.

HENRY IV, PART 1 has every genre you can ask for. You want tragedy? Hotspur's pride and devotion to his cause back him into a corner there's no escape from. Here for the broad comedy? Those famous “Shakespearean Insults” all come from Act II, Scene IV, as Hal and Falstaff one-up each other with over-the-top banter and practical jokes. It's laugh-out-loud funny, but more than that, Hal and Falstaff’s relationship forms the emotional heart of the play. Hal and Falstaff tug at your heartstrings almost as much as Hal’s emotional scenes with his father, or Hotspur’s painfully difficult scenes with his semi-estranged wife, Lady Percy.

The histories are full of wonderful, flawed people who all just did what they thought was best. HENRY IV, PART 1 is something for everyone: young adults trying to figure out what they want from life, heroes trying to stay true to their ideals, and the older crowd who've watched the world change and aren't sure if they've changed with it. It's also a pure example of dramatic pacing at its finest: this play flows from the austerity of court to the rollicking taverns of Cheapside and the wilds of Wales, to the inevitable conclusion where two armies clash on the plains of Shrewsbury. Inevitability is the heart of this play--war are death are inevitable, and as Hal's royal duties clash with his tavern games, maybe the breakup of Hal and Falstaff’s friendship is inevitable, too. Nothing in this play will last, so everyone fights, laughs, and lives fully while it does.


The Girls at the Kingfisher Club (Genevieve Valentine)

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781476739090
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Washington Square Press - June 30th, 2015

Jo, known as “The General” to her younger sisters, is the unwilling intermediary between her eleven sisters and their authoritarian father. Restricted to the upper floors of their Fifth Avenue mansion their whole lives, the twelve sisters have absolutely no interaction with the outside world--except at night, when they slip from the house and flock to their true home: Manhattan’s whirling underground of speakeasies and jazz clubs. Genevieve Valentine’s THE GIRLS AT THE KINGFISHER CLUB re-imagines the fairy tale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses in Prohibition-era New York, exploding the original story into a full-color fable of family, independence, and gut-wrenching sacrifice. The true drama of THE GIRLS AT THE KINGFISHER CLUB lives in the bonds and conflicts between the sisters, and most especially in Jo, torn between keeping her sisters safe and close (and worrying if she’s becoming just an appendage of their father) and letting them lead their own lives. When their father decides to marry them off, Jo has to decide, too: to keep her sisters together, or keep them safe. From the first page to the last, THE GIRLS AT THE KINGFISHER CLUB is as intoxicating and fast-paced as the girls’ favorite champagne and Charlestons--you won’t want to sit this dance out.


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