A lean and engaging tale about love, war, and family.

THE ILLITERATE DAUGHTER

A teenager and her family attempt to escape war-torn Laos in this debut YA novel.

Laos, 1974. Thirteen-year-old Nou has two books she desperately wants to read. Unfortunately, she doesn’t yet know how. Nou needs the Vietnam War—which has spilled into her homeland of Laos—to end before she can finally attend school and learn to decipher the characters that line the volumes’ pages. Until then, she is stuck weeding the family’s rice field and feeding the livestock, daydreaming about the princes and princesses she hopes to one day read about. Then the unimaginable happens. The Communists attack Nou’s Hmong village, burning down houses and slaughtering civilians: “Our hut began to burn, and my heart stopped a second time. My books! Oh Heaven….Our dog, my books, and everything we had worked for, gone in the blink of an eye.” Nou’s wounded father, who fought beside the Americans, leads the family members into the jungle, knowing that if the Communists catch them, he will be killed. As Nou and her family brave the deadly mountain paths that will provide an escape into Thailand, hounded all the way by Communist soldiers, the only way for the girl to keep the clan together may be for her to become one of the heroes she’s long daydreamed about. In this series opener, Vang’s prose is precise and urgent, capturing the moment-to-moment anxieties of Nou on her journey: “We marched cautiously and quietly on the steep, craggy mountain path. Birds sang cheerfully from the tree canopy as if no danger existed and helped distract me from my fear. Still, with every rustle of leaves and grunts or shuffling of wild animals, my heart fluttered.” The novel moves swiftly and nimbly, introducing its appealing characters and quickly sending them crashing into the undergrowth. In addition to telling the under-reported history of American-Hmong involvement in the Laotian civil war, the tale offers a timely story of the difficulties faced by war refugees. The trials faced by Nou and her family will linger with readers long after the book’s finale. The audience will be thankful that a sequel is in the works.

A lean and engaging tale about love, war, and family.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-953100-32-0

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Scarsdale Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

THE HOTEL NANTUCKET

Bring on the fresh-baked gougères and the hydrangea-blue cashmere throws: A classic fictional setting—the grand hotel—gets the Hilderbrand treatment.

The beloved beach novelist’s 28th book is another tour de force, deploying all her usual tricks and tropes and clever points of view, again among them a character from the afterlife and the collective “we” of gossipy island residents. Our ghost is Grace Hadley, a teenage chambermaid who died under suspicious circumstances in a hotel fire in 1922. Grace’s lonely days are over when the historic property is purchased and reopened by a London billionaire. As Xavier Darling tells his general manager, Lizbet Keaton, their goal will be to get five out of five keys from Shelly Carpenter, an undercover hotel blogger who has not awarded top honors to any spot visited so far. A gorgeous remodel, a sterling staff, free treats in the minibar, and—of course, since this is Hilderbrand—an incredible restaurant where a disco ball drops from the ceiling every night at 9 p.m. and the chef is hotter than any dish on the menu are all in play as the first guests come streaming in. Which one is the hard-to-please Ms. Carpenter? Other addictive storylines include a rich kid cleaning rooms to expiate some mysterious, terrible thing he did this past spring, an evil beauty breaking up island marriages (instead of a gun in the drawer, there's a half-used Chanel eye shadow in Pourpre Brun), and the desperate attempts of Lizbet’s ex, who sexted with their wine rep, to win her back. One of the special services Lizbet creates for the guests of the Hotel Nantucket is a “Blue Book” containing all her recommended island itineraries. A real-life version is included as an appendix, giving the complete scoop on where to eat, drink, sunbathe, shop, and stay on the island, plus notes on which Hilderbrand novels happened where. If you’re ready to check out Chicken Box or to try the sandwiches on herb bread that lured the author to become a permanent island resident in 1993, the Elin Hilderbrand Bucket List Weekend really is a thing.

Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-25867-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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