User Reviews

Reviews by Alisa S
The Night Tiger
Murder,dance girls, killer tigers, missing fingers, and more! The Night Tiger by Yangze Choo is a beautifully written tale, part family drama mixed with mystery and folklore, set in 1930s Malaysia under British rule. Ji Lin is a young woman forced to moonlight as a dance hall girl to help pay off her mother's secret gambling debts, while her adored stepbrother Shin gets to go to medical school in Singapore. Meanwhile, an orphaned young houseboy named Ren is on a mission to recover a missing finger that belonged to his former master, a British doctor who has passed away. There is a magical thread that links together the main characters, putting them in grave danger as a man-eating tiger roams at night and people start
mysteriously dying around them. This novel is steeped in magical realism, pulling from Chinese and Malay folk tales, numerology, and superstitions.
Fans of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, another romance with plenty of magic, should also greatly enjoy The Night Tiger.
Another Great Mystery from Jane Harper
The first stand alone novel from down under author Jane Harper, The Lost Man is a slow simmering mystery that masterfully creates a sense of place.
In the remote and brutal Australian Outback, three brothers stand to inherit the vast cattle ranch where they were raised. But when the middle son, “golden boy” Cameron, is found dead under bizarre circumstances, everyone becomes a potential suspect. Harper gradually reveals the dark family secrets that may have lead to Cam’s death; abuse, grudges, jealousy, forbidden romance, and more.
The Lost Man is a character driven mystery, as the reader grows to understand what lies beneath the surface of each of the brothers, extended family members, and employees on the cattle station. But the overarching “character” is Australia itself...namely the enormous, harsh landscape of the Outback, where the closest neighbor might live three hours away. The enforced isolation creates a growing sense of dread.
I’m a big fan of Harper’s earlier thriller series, which follow detective Aaron Falk. But I believe The Lost Man is by far her best work yet.
Imagine taking a DNA test as a lark, only to have the results shatter the very foundation of your identity. This is what happened to author Dani Shapiro, who movingly tells of this seismic event in her latest book, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love. Shapiro was raised in an Orthodox Jewish home, the only child of an adoring father and a difficult mother. After she receives some shocking results from her mail away DNA test, she begins to uncover long held family secrets that force her to question the core of her being. With both her parents long dead, she must become a genealogical sleuth as she pieces together her past.
With DNA kits becoming more affordable and accessible to so many, many people are receiving surprising details about their heritages. This makes Inheritance an extremely timely book, beautifully written though at times feeling a bit indulgent as Shapiro comes to grips with her discovery.
An Exotic Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

Calling all Jane Austen Fans! The new novel Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal is a lively retelling of Pride and Prejudice, set in modern day Pakistan. Alys Binat and her older sister, Jena, are schoolteachers living in genteel poverty with their ineffectual father, overbearing mother, and three younger sisters. It is their mother’s soul desire in life to see her daughters well married, especially the eldest, who she believes have crossed into old maid territory. When two wealthy ,eligible bachelors and their entourage arrive in their small town, the plot is set into action.
While the storyline of Unmarriageable very closely follows that of the beloved classic, Alys’s strong identity as a feminist (in a patriarchal society) and the exotic backdrop of Pakistan make this most recent retelling fresh and fun.
An Intimate Look at Life Under Apartheid
Set against the backdrop of Apartheid South Africa, Hum If You Don’t Know The Words by
Bianca Marais is a story of love and friendship between an orphaned
white girl and the grieving black woman who comes to be her caretaker. After young Robin has lost her parents to an act of violence, she comes to live with her loving but irresponsible aunt. Meanwhile, village dweller Beauty Mbali has come to Johannesburg to search for her daughter, who has gone missing in the chaos of the Soweto Uprising. A sympathetic friend finds Beauty a position as Robin’s nanny, and the two must grow to trust one another under very frightening circumstances.

This story is both moving and suspenseful. While the action occurs over forty years ago, the themes of racism and redemption are more relevant now than ever.

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