THE POWER LINE

A haunting story told with quiet, emotional power.

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A rugged woodsman from the Adirondacks is drawn into the dangerous world of bootlegging in Shaw’s debut novel set in the 1920s.

François Germaine grows up in Lake Aurora in New York state’s Adirondack Mountains, a densely forested area with which he has an intimate familiarity. He abandons engineering school at nearby Clarkson University in Potsdam in 1914, despite having real talent in that area; instead, he joins the U.S. Army, establishing himself as a war hero as he fights in Mexico and France. However, he returns to his hometown a sullen, quick-tempered man who’s inclined to drink to terrible excess. He finds work with an electric company constructing power lines throughout the region and soon stumbles into an opportunity to become a bootlegger, partnering with his best friend, Alonzo “Lonnie” Monroe, to transport illicit booze smuggled in from Canada during the Prohibition years for Legs Diamond, a relatively minor New York City gangster. However, the lucrative side gig turns increasingly dangerous as the pair go from being couriers to “bootlegger’s henchmen.” When someone murders a member of a rival New York outfit, the notoriously brutal gangster Dutch Schultz blames Diamond, and a gang war erupts that threatens to bury François and Lonnie. Throughout, Shaw depicts the two friends as aging relics in a vanishing world, and he poignantly describes their connection to their home: “They learned the ground by hearing it described over and over, even while in the womb, so when they got to a place for the first time, invited along to help and do chores at age ten or twelve, they already knew where they were and how it related to the whole.”

The novel is split into two parts; in the first, Lonnie tells the tale of his misadventures with François to local amateur historian Abel St. Martin, and the second delves into the private journal of Rosalyn Orloff,  a brilliant woman who studied with philosopher William James while at Radcliffe College and was friends with Gertrude Stein. Rosalyn also crosses paths with François, and her account of him serves as a kind of ballast to Lonnie’s, as his credibility is suspect: “He’s always trafficked in howlers, lies and tall tales, hackneyed old homilies about the side-hill winder, the snow snake, the hide-behind,” according to St. Martin.Shaw’s poetic, elegiac style is affectingly melancholic and the story deftly raises provocative questions about the extent to which one can see clearly into a “still-murky past.” François is a memorably well-drawn character—hardened by a violent life but still achingly vulnerable. And Lonnie, in his 80s when he relates his story, is a moving embodiment of heartbreak. In a way, though, the Adirondacks itself are the true center of the novel, and François and Lonnie preemptively mourn its death even as they contribute to it: “The big woods are gone,” Lonnie says at one point, adding, “I’m gonna be dead myself soon enough, and I want them dams making power before I go.”

A haunting story told with quiet, emotional power.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-977233-35-6

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2021

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  • New York Times Bestseller

IT STARTS WITH US

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

THE BOARDWALK BOOKSHOP

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

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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