A smart, unconventional romance drives this layered tale.


Sparks fly when an unapologetically quirky football fan meets a traveling reporter in Stein’s (Mating Habits, 2019, etc.) steampunk-ish romance novel.

It’s 1904, and Eden Randall, the daughter of an inventor and an “automechanologist,” is driven by “a deep desire to know everything”—as well as a desire for her home state of Michigan’s football team to claim another undefeated season. But after sports journalist Bruce Caldwell and ruthless industrial mogul Evan Tagget arrive in Ann Arbor for the fall season, her quiet life begins to unravel. Armed with her mechanical dragon, Vox, Eden must navigate not only the two men’s battle for her affections, but also an intricate web of secrets, engineering patents, and sabotage. Eden also has a secret of her own to protect: She relies on her parents’ advanced biomechanical technology to assist her with her hearing disability. In an era governed by strict Victorian morality, Eden fears that her use of this “controversial” science might turn her into an unsavory public “spectacle.” In a refreshing twist, Eden is not the only major character with a disability; half of the story is narrated by Bruce, who also identifies as “biomechanical.” With both of these well-rounded characters at the helm, Stein’s novel comments poignantly on what it means to identify as an “other.” Eden and Bruce ultimately face off against Evan, another nuanced character that transcends the stereotype of the suave businessman; however, he’s never rendered quite believable as a long-term love interest for Eden. This may be, in part, a result of the dialogue, with its turn-of-the-century niceties; it sometimes has a stilted quality that occasionally bogs things down. That said, readers never have to wait too long before the breakneck pace resumes.

A smart, unconventional romance drives this layered tale.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949862-10-2

Page Count: 366

Publisher: Catherine Stein, LLC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

Did you like this book?