Next book

SINS IN BLUE

An engaging tale about two music lovers trying to set the historical record straight.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A precocious Pennsylvania blues fan attempts to resurrect the career of one of his idols in this novel.

Pittsburgh, 1969. Eighteen-year-old Kennedy Barnes loves the blues. The prize item in his record collection is a tape procured from the Library of Congress recorded back in 1934 by an obscure bluesman named Willie Johnson. In fact, Kennedy believes that the song on the tape is proof Willie actually invented rock ’n’ roll: “The guitarist punctured the chug-chug rhythm with bursts of high-speed blues runs, like Clapton on amphetamines. He listened to the two-minute song again and again while the sun played a light requiem on his bedroom wall.” After a fight with his father leaves Kennedy’s record collection shattered, he leaves home with a duffel bag, the Willie tape reel, and $300. His destination is Fort Collins, Colorado, where the elderly Willie now works in a motel laundry. Kennedy tracks him down only to discover that Willie is white—not exactly the image of the bluesman that the teenager had in his head. Bound by the shared love of the blues and a desire to improve their standing, Willie agrees to let Kennedy represent him as his manager. Their plan is to land a record contract at the famous Newport Folk Festival. But does either the teen huckster or the washed-up guitarist have what it takes to make it there? Kaufman’s prose is textured and full of personality: “There were no streetlights, and Kennedy was a little nervous about the traffic. Dark as it was, and fast as cars were going, no one would be able to spot them before knocking them fifty yards into a ditch.” Kennedy and Willie make for an appealing odd couple, with personalities as divergent as their ages. The book displays a deep affection and knowledge of early rock ’n’ roll (though the author’s decision to make the genre’s inventor a white man is a bit strange and perhaps heretical). Music fans will enjoy this short novel despite its revisionism.

An engaging tale about two music lovers trying to set the historical record straight.

Pub Date: May 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-944715-59-5

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2020

Categories:

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 154


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 154


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

Next book

THIS SUMMER WILL BE DIFFERENT

A steamy, romantic summer read with a charming setting.

A florist attempts to avoid her best friend’s brother—and their powerful chemistry—on Prince Edward Island.

When Lucy Ashby visits her best friend Bridget’s family home on Prince Edward Island for the first time, Bridget gives her three rules: Eat your weight in oysters….Leave the city behind. And, most importantly, Don’t fall in love with my brother. Unfortunately for Lucy, she sleeps with Felix basically the second her plane lands, unaware that he’s Bridget’s brother until it’s too late. Lucy has never felt understood or accepted by her immediate family, and Bridget is one of the very few people she allows into her inner circle, so Lucy’s desperate to abide by these rules. And so she and Felix try to avoid each other on every one of Lucy’s visits to PEI over the years. And, of course, they fail spectacularly, always returning to each other when they’re in between relationships. But it’s never been anything serious…Lucy makes sure of that, backing off whenever her emotions feel too strong. In her “real life” back in Toronto, it’s easier for Lucy to avoid thinking of Felix as she runs a busy floral shop, working herself into the ground. But when Bridget asks Lucy to come to PEI for an emergency girls’ trip less than two weeks before Bridget is supposed to get married, Lucy drops everything to be there for her best friend. She doesn’t expect to find Felix there, along with feelings that are stronger and more difficult than ever to ignore. Even more than jeopardizing her relationship with Bridget, Lucy is afraid that giving in to her feelings could ruin the life she’s worked so hard to build. Fortune, the author of hits like Every Summer After (2022), gives readers another refreshingly summery story full of angst, romance, and sex scenes aplenty. The PEI setting is a beautiful backdrop for Lucy and Felix’s secret hookups and Lucy’s journey of self-discovery as she learns how to stand on her own two feet as a business owner, friend, and daughter. In addition to frequent (and welcome) Anne of Green Gables references, there are oysters galore and many sandy, windy scenes that transport readers straight to the island.

A steamy, romantic summer read with a charming setting.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780593638880

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

Close Quickview