ARNOLD FALLS

An often delightful and engaging tale that will make readers want to move to the author’s heartwarming fictional town.

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A debut novel about a small town and its fear of change.

Arnold Falls, a small town in upstate New York, is home to an array of residents, including celebrity chef Annie O’Dell, whose concerns are limited to the ratings of her cooking show and the state of her prune clafoutis; Bridget Roberts, the town pickpocket with a penchant for drinking Clagger, Arnold Falls’ infamous moonshine; and Aunt Doozy, the daughter of a brothel madam who’s plagued by uncontrollable flatulence. At the center of them of all is Jeebie Walker, a gay man in his early 40s who helps his friend Jenny Jagoda run for mayor against incumbent candidate Rufus Meierhoffer. Rufus is an incompetent politician who’s funded by a corrupt real estate developer who wants to replace Arnold Falls’ historic Dutch House with a rubber factory. Early on in the novel, Jeebie notes, “Incorrigibility is part of the Arnold Falls DNA,” and this assertion creates the story’s central conflict: Can Arnold Falls, and its residents, change for the better? Suisman’s prose is often incredibly funny, and his characters are charming in their varying degrees of ridiculousness while still maintaining a realistic, human sensibility. Scenes often feel like self-contained vignettes, highlighting the relationships between the various characters. This format mostly pays off, although some of the more emotional moments fall flat, due to a lack of exploration. Despite this, the community within Arnold Falls is as endearing as it is flawed. Readers will enjoy the ride, for example, when Jeebie debates the merits of Diana Ross in the local record store or Rufus unintentionally donates bomb-making materials to a city in Romania. As one character states, “The whole thing seems nuts but that’s Arnold Falls for you. You just go with it.”

An often delightful and engaging tale that will make readers want to move to the author’s heartwarming fictional town.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-79233-215-9

Page Count: 274

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2020

THE WOMEN

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

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

GIRL ABROAD

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

A rock star’s daughter decides to study abroad in search of her own experiences, finding romance and intrigue along the way.

For 19-year-old Abbey Bly, having a rock star for a father isn’t as glamorous as it seems. For one thing, she shares her name with Abbey Road, and for another, the only version of the famous Gunner Bly she knows is the helicopter parent she lives with in Nashville. Hoping to find her way outside her father’s sphere of influence, Abbey decides to spend a semester in London studying European history at Pembridge University. Promising to keep her father updated on every aspect of life abroad, Abbey heads to her shared apartment expecting to find three female roommates…only to find that she’s actually living with three men. Afraid that Gunner will order her home, Abbey decides to keep Lee, Jack, and Jamie’s gender a secret (lucky their names sound androgynous!) and sets her sights on adventure. While working on a research project about a mysterious painting and adapting to Britain’s drinking culture, Abbey finds time to explore a little romance despite her housemates’ strict no-fraternizing rule. First there’s Jack, a commitment-phobic Australian hottie who can’t seem to stay away from Abbey; then there’s Nate, a sexy bassist who keeps forgetting he’s taken. Toying with nonexclusive relationships and exploring her sexuality, Abbey can’t help but feel excited about all the experience she’s gaining, but has she really, truly found herself? Kennedy’s novel is a page-turner—who wouldn’t want to travel to a foreign country and meet interested potential lovers down the hall? Abbey is a relatable character who yearns to stand outside her father’s shadow, and though the love triangle is a focal point, it never outshines the heroine’s growth.

A spicy novel that’s a must-read for fans of a British accent.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9781728299792

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Bloom Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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