In this literary love story set in California and Turkey, a determined, independent Turkish woman turns her trials and tribulations into a life of fulfillment.
Young, single Yasmin holds a doctorate in psychology, and she just started her teaching position at a top Istanbul university. After running into an old friend at her local tennis club in the late 1970s, she’s immediately overtaken by a powerful bond to her friend’s husband, Renan; she can tell he feels the same attraction. Yasmin and Renan act honorably, with respect to his marriage and young son, as they endure being close friends without ever crossing a moral line. When Renan and his family move to Australia and the political situation in Turkey becomes unstable, Yasmin packs up her things and starts over in California. She maintains her intense passion for Renan but nonetheless creates a fulfilling professional and personal life for herself in her new city, eventually marrying an esteemed academic, although she never allows her love for Renan to fade. With support from her strong yet gentle mother, she even adopts a child. Talay-Ongan cleverly balances the deep fervor of Yasmin’s feelings for Renan with the reality of setting up a professional center and managing day-to-day life. While the narrative hints at political issues impacting both Yasmin and Renan, the focus of the story doesn’t deviate from their overpowering emotional affair. The pacing is slow and at times filled with overwrought emotion, but the characters are strong and intelligently written. Yasmin, the compelling protagonist, serves as a wise narrator—a resilient, self-aware woman who overcomes obstacles to achieve the goals she sets for herself. Her relationship with her family is complex and touching, although her connection with Renan borders on adolescent obsession. Their interactions are written with an ornate, lyrical quality that would seem more appropriate for a book of love poetry.
An elegant, intelligent romance that’s engaging but at times overdone.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.
Tragedy turns into triumph in Carlson’s debut novel about a young woman who regains her self-confidence after multiple losses and years of dejection.
Before readers meet 28-year-old Jamie Shire, she has already hit rock bottom. Jobless, she drinks away her days on her best friend’s couch as she wallows in loneliness. Among Jamie’s troubles: Her mother died when she was a child, the only man she ever loved wouldn’t reciprocate, her unborn daughter died, and she continuously feels rejected by her father and brother. After a chance encounter with a wealthy woman at a coffee shop, Jamie accepts a live-in job researching philanthropic causes at Fallow Springs Estate. Reaching out to the house staff and eventually working with Darfur refugees afford Jamie some valuable context for her own pain; she’s able to gain confidence as she learns to stop fearing rejection and start pursuing her dreams. Throughout the novel, the author skillfully creates mood. In the beginning, when Jamie borders on depression, her emotional touchiness and oversensitivity will create an uneasy feeling in readers. But as Jamie slowly regains confidence, readers will also feel increasingly optimistic. Alongside the main character’s emotional struggle is the struggle faced by Darfur refugees, although this plotline doesn’t advance too far; yet details from Jamie’s trip to the refugee camp in Chad—the types of beer served at the aid workers’ bar or a depiction of a young refugee sitting blank-faced and tied to a pole because he might run away—effectively transport readers to faraway places. Jamie’s story will interest readers, but, with a weak ending, the story leaves many unanswered questions. Who is Jamie’s wealthy employer? Does Jamie’s work in Chad help anyone but herself? And what of the conflict Jamie feels between herself and the refugees, between the haves and the have-nots?
With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the destination.