Joanna Burkhardt

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The Council of Animals

Both wildly imaginative and surprisingly funny, with (mostly) endearing characters, this thinly veiled metaphor offers what feels like an appropriate outcome. Tabbutt’s drawings of the animals add to the whimsy and interest of the tale by McDonell (An Expensive Education; The Bodies in Person), which readers of all ages will enjoy. Highly recommended.


Lefteri (The Beekeeper of Aleppo) describes income disparity, predatory employment agencies, the mistreatment of workers, and how those who have the duty to protect and defend often casually shrug off that responsibility. Her characters are compelling and sometimes infuriatingly mired in their own oblivion. Readers interested in social inequities, human relations, and social justice will find this a good read. Recommended.


Readers of mythology and human relations will enjoy this book. Highly recommended.

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

Austin uses seasons in the church calendar to identify stages in Gilda’s journey, moving from Advent to Easter as she captures the essence of Gilda’s angst and redemption. Along the way, her characters are hilarious, relatable, exasperating, and endearing. For all readers of fiction.

In the Quick

In this readable debut, Day captures the difficulties of both being and raising a gifted child, while incorporating details about space flight, training, and problem solving that make the story come alive without being overwhelming. Recommended for most fiction readers.

Creatures of Passage

Skillfully blending fantasy and stark reality while blurring the line between the metaphoric and the tangible, Yejidé (Time of the Locust) successfully tells the story in fits and starts as each major character adds a piece to the puzzle. YA and adult fiction readers alike will enjoy. Highly recommended.

The Hare

Finn offers a chilling account of the ways women can be abused, with sexual assault, psychological trauma, objectification, and murder crossing class boundaries. Yet as she also shows, women often cannot escape the cages they have helped to build around their lives. A #MeToo tale that will also appeal to general readers.

The Orchard

Though Hopen presents a somewhat formulaic story of the journey from child to adult, he renders it compelling by inserting discussions of Jewish and other religious traditions and making mental health—or lack thereof


Geye does a fair job of narrating the tale in a woman’s voice, and his larger-than-life characters have skills—both mechanical and coping

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