A compelling, politically rich thriller.

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The Piratization of Daniel Barnes

In McGlothlin’s debut novel, a lovelorn journalist becomes ensnared in the lives of modern-day pirates in Somalia.

Daniel Barnes has arrived in Mombasa, Kenya, from Washington, D.C., hoping to enter neighboring Somalia. Although he has minimal experience as a journalist, he plans to get a story that will not only make his career, but also convince his childhood sweetheart, Bally, to choose him over her fiance. No official transport will enter the war-torn nation, so Daniel must secure passage by boat. He eventually hires Capt. Zakia, who takes the journalist on his yacht. When pirates overtake the vessel, Daniel is knocked out and later awakens in a “five-by-five cell made of a heinous amalgamation of chicken [wire] and barbed wire.” After about six weeks, he’s driven to the Somali hinterland by associates of Amir Sharif, a man who helps kidnap victims get home. Daniel receives three months of regular food and exercise, but then he’s suddenly shackled and brought to a slave auction. There, a pirate captain, Sayyid, bids $20,000 for the strong looking white man and soon tells him, “Your story of me will put my picture on cereal box like Kobe Bryant.” McGlothlin’s unpredictable debut is a superb portrait of the bombed-out region surrounding Mogadishu, where, as Sayyid says, “death...is a sunset. It bring darkness but happen everyday.” It’s also a classic adventure story, during which chaos transforms the seemingly average protagonist into a formidable hero. The characters—from Sayyid’s crew members to a manipulative sheikh to World Health Organization medic Caitlin—all play specific roles in creating the new Daniel. Readers will grit their teeth at the severe narrative turns, including animal fights in a Roman-style arena and Daniel’s increasingly savage behavior to stay alive (including ear-biting, shooting, and harpooning). There’s great moral heft in the situations in which Sayyid tries to retain his “Somali Robin Hood” status while his Sharia-following brother, Yousef, demands that they work for Allah. The answer to the question of whether Daniel is “the cure or the cancer” for the pirate crew is an epic one.

A compelling, politically rich thriller.

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9890488-6-6

Page Count: 282

Publisher: MountainLion Press

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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