jrand's Book Reviews

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

This short novel is deceptively simple. It tells the story of a middle aged Japanese woman, Keiko Furukura, who has been working part-time in a convenience store for the past 18 years. For Keiko the store and her co-workers function as a manual on how to pass as normal, something she struggles with after some […]


Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Education is something many of us take for granted, and something we assume is denied only to those too poor or too disadvantaged to acquire. It’s easy to believe that never happens in the United States but Westover’s moving memoir proves that assumption wrong. Westover grew up in rural Idaho the daughter of survivalist Mormon […]


Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

This book was fascinating on many levels: as a biography, as a description of one woman’s burgeoning intellectual journey, and as impassioned insight into how many women are treated under Islam. Ali describes her journey from her birth in Somalia to her subsequent homes in Saudia Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya. After an arranged marriage she […]


The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

If you’re looking for a well-written, intricately plotted mystery/thriller, this one’s for you. I couldn’t put it down and inhaled it in two days, choosing this over all other kinds of entertainment. It’s gripping and tense and I dare you to predict all the twists and turns the story takes. The atmosphere is decidedly noirish […]


Confessions by Kanae Minato

Confessions by Kanae Minato

Revenge can have a long shelf life, and often leads to all sorts of unintended consequences. This twisty and often disturbing tale is full of surprises, revealed in the successive confessions of the protagonists involved in the murder of a middle school teacher’s four-year-old daughter. Minato starts slowly and then gradually intensifies the suspense. She’s […]


Circling the Sun: a novel by Paula McLain

Circling the Sun: a novel by Paula McLain

I love biographies and historical fiction about women’s lives and was mesmerized by this historical novel depicting the adventurous life of famed aviator, Beryl Markham. Beryl grew up in colonial Kenya in the 1920s at a time when women’s lives were restricted both by British mores and the expectations of the time. Yet Beryl threw […]


Night Film: a novel by Marisha Pessl

Night Film: a novel by Marisha Pessl

If you’re looking for the novelistic equivalent of film noir, this is the book for you. Unexpected twists, great storytelling, interesting characters and amazing graphic artifacts make this a visual and narrative pleasure. Pessl tells the story of a disgraced journalist’s attempt to find out why the daughter of legendary (fictional) horror film director, Stanislas […]


A Legacy of Spies by John Le Carre

A Legacy of Spies by John Le Carre

John Le Carre delivers again. Even at age 80+ he hasn’t lost his skill as a writer or storyteller, and his understanding of human nature and ability to explore moral issues has not waned. The story centers around retired spy Peter Guillam who is called to account for the deaths of two assets as well […]



The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

This book fairly reeks of gothic atmosphere and both fans of the old classics such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, as well as anyone who loves a suspenseful plot full of unexpected twists and turns will love this book. The tale is set in a haunted ruined mansion in the English countryside where biographer, […]


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