The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye

It’s 1921 and gun moll Alice has run away from her life in New York, carrying very little with her apart from a bullet wound, and finds herself a guest at The Paragon Hotel, a black hotel in Portland, OR.

Faye explores the racial tensions of Oregon at the beginning of the 20th century, starting each chapter with a shocking quote from a variety of sources that she found during her research.  She takes a topic that we believe to be very Southern, the KKK, and explores what was happening in the Pacific Northwest.  Spoiler: it’s shocking and upsetting.  She flips between two story lines, exploring the mysteries in each.  I was sucked in right away and the crazy cast of characters kept me hooked.  Faye’s writing is just a joy to read.

4-stars

If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais

Bianca Marais has knocked it out of the park again with her new novel If You Want to Make God Laugh.  Taking place in South Africa from the day Nelson Mandela is elected onward, following three very different women as they deal with the changing world around them.  Race and class are explored, as well as tensions that came from the ending of apartheid.  The characters are strong, powerful women and I rooted for them on each and every page.  Marais left me picking up the pieces of my broken heart multiple times.
5-stars

The Storyteler by Pierre Jarawan

In The Storyteller, German-Lebanese author Pierre Jarawan has created a work of art that explores the importance of family and nationality in the creation of an identity.  Jarawan fills the book with stories of the Lebanese civil war, teaching the history of the country and the event without making it feel like you are learning anything or reading a history book.  Samir, the main character, is incredibly relatable in his search for understanding of himself even though his circumstances are not something even close to anything I have experienced.  Jarawan creates a cast of characters in which I cared about each and every one of them, despite their faults.  A definite must read.

4-stars

Death Prefers Blonds by Caleb Roehrig

Holy crap this book is amazing! I can’t handle the book hangover I am currently experiencing.  Hamlet meets drag queens who are also incredibly teenage thieves.  What more could you want?

Margo Manning is a rich, LA socialite with a secret.  In her spare time, she dresses up in drag with a group of her guy friends and pulls of incredible heists.  But while her social life is full of intrigue, her family life is falling apart.  Her father is sick and her mom lives in Italy.  What is a girl to do?

Roehrig has created amazing characters who you root for the entire time, even when they are doing things that are less than legal.  And boy oh boy is this book stormy.  I just want someone to look at me the way these characters look at each other.  This book is such a delight to read.  I can’t even handle how much I love this book.  I wish it was longer because I didn’t want it to end.  Make sure to pick this one up the second it comes out on January 29th.

(Want a signed copy?  Order it HERE and put what name you want it signed to in the comments!)

5-stars