by Caoilinn Hughes ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 7, 2020
A striking novel about fathers and sons in 21st-century Ireland that does not quite live up to its potential.
Two brothers try to help their terminally ill father end his life in a rural Irish town.
Doharty Black and his older brother, Cormac, are stunned when their domineering, terminally ill father, known to them as the Chief, asks them to look in the Bible and “find the bits that reference suicide.” The two brothers reluctantly embark on a quest to find a safe way for them to help the Chief commit suicide. But while the older and more successful Cormac can temporarily escape to his home and job in town, Doharty must remain with his parents at their struggling farm and deal with the day-to-day reality of their father’s illness. Doharty’s lifelong resentment of Cormac festers as they attempt to navigate their familial duties and is further complicated when they both become involved with the same woman. This novel, set in 2014, functions both as a biblical parable and an indictment of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger economic boom of the 1990s and 2000s, culminating in the 2008 financial crash. The Chief’s physical decline mirrors the decline of the family’s economic prospects in the wake of an ill-advised loan. Hughes is attentive to the larger political context of her narrative and to more granular details of language and place, and her prose is vivid and unsparing: “His mind was a luxury,” Doharty thinks bitterly of Cormac, “…at any moment something you’d say would be turned inside out like a child’s eyelid to traumatise you.” The novel would be more successful, however, if its plot and the relationships between its characters were as vivid as its sentences. So much is left unsaid between Doharty and his family that these fraught relationships begin to feel threadbare.A striking novel about fathers and sons in 21st-century Ireland that does not quite live up to its potential.
Pub Date: July 7, 2020
Page Count: 208
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020
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by Susan Mallery ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 31, 2022
A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.
Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.
Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.
Pub Date: May 31, 2022
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022
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by Barbara Kingsolver ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 18, 2022
An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2022
New York Times Bestseller
Pulitzer Prize Winner
Inspired by David Copperfield, Kingsolver crafts a 21st-century coming-of-age story set in America’s hard-pressed rural South.
It’s not necessary to have read Dickens’ famous novel to appreciate Kingsolver’s absorbing tale, but those who have will savor the tough-minded changes she rings on his Victorian sentimentality while affirming his stinging critique of a heartless society. Our soon-to-be orphaned narrator’s mother is a substance-abusing teenage single mom who checks out via OD on his 11th birthday, and Demon’s cynical, wised-up voice is light-years removed from David Copperfield’s earnest tone. Yet readers also see the yearning for love and wells of compassion hidden beneath his self-protective exterior. Like pretty much everyone else in Lee County, Virginia, hollowed out economically by the coal and tobacco industries, he sees himself as someone with no prospects and little worth. One of Kingsolver’s major themes, hit a little too insistently, is the contempt felt by participants in the modern capitalist economy for those rooted in older ways of life. More nuanced and emotionally engaging is Demon’s fierce attachment to his home ground, a place where he is known and supported, tested to the breaking point as the opiate epidemic engulfs it. Kingsolver’s ferocious indictment of the pharmaceutical industry, angrily stated by a local girl who has become a nurse, is in the best Dickensian tradition, and Demon gives a harrowing account of his descent into addiction with his beloved Dori (as naïve as Dickens’ Dora in her own screwed-up way). Does knowledge offer a way out of this sinkhole? A committed teacher tries to enlighten Demon’s seventh grade class about how the resource-rich countryside was pillaged and abandoned, but Kingsolver doesn’t air-brush his students’ dismissal of this history or the prejudice encountered by this African American outsider and his White wife. She is an art teacher who guides Demon toward self-expression, just as his friend Tommy provokes his dawning understanding of how their world has been shaped by outside forces and what he might be able to do about it.An angry, powerful book seething with love and outrage for a community too often stereotyped or ignored.
Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022
Page Count: 560
Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022
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