Frank does an admirable job of painting a slave narrative, though there may be a bit too much of a shiny gloss painted on...

ANNA OF COROTOMAN (PRINCESS BOOK I)

When Anakata is kidnapped from her remote African village and brought to colonial America as a slave, she must figure out how to survive while holding on to her ancient matriarchal religion in this debut novel.

Thirteen-year-old Anakata is an exalted figure in her African village; she has been chosen since birth to be her people’s queen. But when she falls prey to slave traders, she ends up on a ship bound for the New World. After an arduous voyage, which saw sickness, death and rebellion, the ship arrives in Virginia. There, she is sold to the Carter family and told this is a good thing, as they treat their slaves well (excusing the maiming of a slave who tried to escape too often, of course). Young Anakata is renamed Anna and becomes a housemaid, eventually developing a special connection to the plantation’s mistress and children. As she acclimates to life in the colonies, Anna tries to keep as much of her old life alive as possible: sneaking off to visit her secret shrine by the water, performing rituals from her past and harboring dreams of finding a way back to Africa. All the while, she is told things will be easier if she assimilates, including becoming a good Christian. In this first book in a trilogy, Frank does a smart job introducing an intelligent, likable and compassionate protagonist in Anna. While most of the secondary characters help make the world in which they live three dimensional—particularly Anna’s love interest, Gabriel, and her main mentors, Esther and Sukey—at times they fall short. This is especially evident with the relatively benign rendering of the slave-holding Carters. While there are individual scenes of brutality (notably in the voyage) and villainy (a house guest attempts to kidnap Anna away from the Carters), the absolute drudgery of life as a slave seems diminished.

Frank does an admirable job of painting a slave narrative, though there may be a bit too much of a shiny gloss painted on plantation life.

Pub Date: July 14, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 304

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

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Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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A knowing, loving evocation of people trying to survive with their personalities and traditions intact.

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THE NIGHT WATCHMAN

In this unhurried, kaleidoscopic story, the efforts of Native Americans to save their lands from being taken away by the U.S. government in the early 1950s come intimately, vividly to life.

Erdrich’s grandfather Patrick Gourneau was part of the first generation born on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. As the chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in the mid-1950s, he had to use all the political savvy he could muster to dissuade Utah Sen. Arthur V. Watkins (whom Erdrich calls a “pompous racist” in her afterword) from reneging on long-held treaties between Native Americans and the federal government. Erdrich's grandfather is the inspiration for her novel’s protagonist, Thomas Wazhushk, the night watchman of the title. He gets his last name from the muskrat, "the lowly, hardworking, water-loving rodent," and Thomas is a hard worker himself: In between his rounds at a local factory, at first uncertain he can really help his tribe, he organizes its members and writes letters to politicians, "these official men with their satisfied soft faces," opposing Watkins' efforts at "terminating" their reservation. Erdrich reveals Thomas' character at night when he's alone; still reliable and self-sacrificing, he becomes more human, like the night he locks himself out of the factory, almost freezes to death, and encounters a vision of beings, "filmy and brightly indistinct," descending from the stars, including Jesus Christ, who "looked just like the others." Patrice Paranteau is Thomas' niece, and she’s saddled with a raging alcoholic father and financial responsibility for her mother and brother. Her sister, Vera, deserts the reservation for Minneapolis; in the novel’s most suspenseful episode, Patrice boldly leaves home for the first time to find her sister, although all signs point to a bad outcome for Vera. Patrice grows up quickly as she navigates the city’s underbelly. Although the stakes for the residents of Turtle Mountain will be apocalyptic if their tribe is terminated, the novel is more an affectionate sketchbook of the personalities living at Turtle Mountain than a tightly plotted arc that moves from initial desperation to political triumph. Thomas’ boyhood friend Roderick returns as a ghost who troubles Thomas in his night rounds, for example; Patrice sleeps close to a bear and is vastly changed; two young men battle for Patrice’s heart.

A knowing, loving evocation of people trying to survive with their personalities and traditions intact.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-267118-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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