by Emunah La-Paz ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 4, 2020
A well-written novel with a frustratingly inept lead.
In La-Paz’s novel, an African American woman faces challenges in dating and friendship.
Chantel Reed is a successful human resources professional in Seattle who has a hard time with relationships. She has drifted from her friends Astrid and Serenity after the death of their friend Alison; her oldest sister, Daria, the family’s maternal figure, is prickly and controlling; and she finally breaks up with her slacker boyfriend, Cameron, after she finds him cooking dinner for another woman in her apartment. Astrid and Serenity have different ideas about how Chantel should move on after the breakup. Chantel, who has always dated black men, is initially hesitant when Brandon, a white guy, asks her out. She quickly falls for him, and they come close to marriage despite push back from her family and racism from his. But when Brandon and Daria ask an attractive black man to test Chantel’s loyalty, her trust in everyone is shattered. Chantel enters a self-destructive spiral that wreaks havoc on her professional and personal lives. La-Paz has a talent for metaphor (“My novel had been deterred, so to speak, due to the fact that I was too caught up inside of my own memoir, centered on my private, addictive, captivity of the mind”) that makes this an enjoyable read. La-Paz also does a good job of exploring the challenges of female friendships and interracial relationships, although Chantel’s tendencies to misjudge and make bad decisions make her an unsuitable vehicle for exploring those challenges since her relationships are dysfunctional. The reader may find the frequency of those bad decisions grating as Chantel becomes more and more incapable of acting in her best interests, but sections written from Astrid’s and Serenity’s points of view provide welcome relief. The novel shows some evidence of updates since its original publication that lead to minor inconsistencies (for instance, characters both page and text each other), but overall the story has a timeless quality and relevancy that keep it from feeling dated and make it appealing to contemporary readers.A well-written novel with a frustratingly inept lead.
Pub Date: July 4, 2020
Page Count: 265
Review Posted Online: April 10, 2020
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Susan Mallery ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 31, 2022
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
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022
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by Colleen Hoover ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 2, 2016
Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.
At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.
Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016
Page Count: 320
Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016
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