A joyful, uncomplicated collection best enjoyed by the author’s circle.

POETRY FROM THE HEART BY POPPY

Hanvey’s debut poetry collection explores themes of home and place.

Organized by the author’s oldest son, Steve, the collection comprises seven poems along with some family photographs. The introduction describes Hanvey as “a romantic, home grown poet from the foothills of South Carolina.” His connection to the region informs his work: “one of his greatest enjoyments was walking the forests and creeks on the family farm.” An affinity for nature is seen in “Snow in the Morning,” which ends, “The snow is eternal, a light, a glow. / It will always stay, but Man must go!” The author alternates among topics, including the natural landscape, family, topography, and religion. In “The Rose,” the narrator considers the hand God plays in the creation of the world: “Why did God create the Rose? / Was it very carefully planned? / Did He know that friend and foe / Would share its beauty across the land?” Other entries show a lighthearted humor that may be intended for children; in Steve’s own poem “Some of my best Friends happen to be Dogs” he writes, “My dog is always glad to see me, / Even just to go outside to pee. / She never shows emotion except for glee.” All Hanvey’s poems are written in quatrains with a simple rhyme scheme that allow for an effortless flow and a kind of singsong rhythm. A drawback to the collection is that its intended audience seems quite narrow given the fact that the book only includes seven poems and a smattering of family photographs. The book will undoubtedly resonate with those connected to Hanvey or possibly to the rural Southern landscape of which Hanvey is so fond—but not to a broader audience.  

A joyful, uncomplicated collection best enjoyed by the author’s circle.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1664206472

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2021

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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