A highly readable, if uneven, novel featuring characters that will be hard for readers to forget.

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Pretty from a Distance

A woman tries to shed her troubling past with the help of friends—and fate—in this debut novel.

Glorianna is assaulted by her boyfriend, Vince, and a lecherous bar patron and winds up bloodied, face down on the pavement outside the bar. An angelic, unknown man comes to her rescue, but his presence is fleeting. Five years later, Glorianna is still with Vince, and their nomadic wanderings in a camper have led them to Corona d’Espinas, N.M. Quiet, wise Fred lives in a trailer nearby; he suffers from panic attacks, just as Glorianna always has. He introduces her to several other warm people: the spitfire waitress, Valerie; the chatty bar owner, Roy, and his mystic wife, Sonia; Roy’s handsome nephew Doug and his daughter Melanie; and Casey, the sheriff. Glorianna grows close to all of them, especially Doug, but still endures Vince’s physical and sexual attacks at night. Her new friends drop hints that she could do better than Vince, but still she returns to him, despite the revelation that Vince is seeing another woman. Doug and Glorianna continue their budding relationship, and she promises herself that she will have a new life by the new year. But in the novel’s dramatic crescendo, startling news from Glorianna’s family reveals her past secrets, provoking Vince to do his worst. Readers may have difficulty keeping track of the novel’s dozens of characters, but their dialogue and interactions are flawless, creating a warm Southwest community with just enough local color. The story’s most puzzling aspects are Glorianna’s attraction to Vince and her decision to remain in their relationship. Their tangled past isn’t fully revealed until well into the novel, and for much of the novel, Vince’s characterization isn’t particularly complex. Readers may wish that the novel had better explored why Glorianna stays with Vince, and what her life could be like without him, instead of anchoring the story in their violent relationship.

A highly readable, if uneven, novel featuring characters that will be hard for readers to forget.

Pub Date: March 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-1479347278

Page Count: 470

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2013

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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