A witty, complex love story about a late-in-life romance.

Save The Last Dance

A contemporary tale focuses on two sexagenarians who reconnect via the Internet before their 50th high school reunion.

In this debut novel, Joseph and Grudin have crafted a love story that is told entirely through emails. The book opens with the text of an email wherein the protagonist, Adam Wolf, explains to his friend Paul Bishop that he has received an invitation to his 50th high school reunion. Adam ponders questions of mortality and aging in the lengthy email to his dear friend, themes that are prominent throughout the volume. Finally, Adam reveals that the impending reunion has led him to reminisce about his high school sweetheart, Sarah Ross. A couple of months later (as evidenced by the dates on the emails), Adam works up the nerve to email Sarah and ask why her name does not appear on the roster of those attending the reunion. Sarah writes back immediately, clearly pleased to hear from her old flame. Very quickly, an intense email correspondence ensues. After catching up on where life has taken them in the decades since graduation, they quickly fall into a near-obsessive back and forth. Adam and Sarah reveal that they have significant others in their lives as well as complicated pasts. Even so, the connection from their teens returns strongly through their correspondence. Although they live thousands of miles apart, the two grow increasingly serious, each considering risking everything for the other. Through its modern epistolary style, this book tells a poignant story about the emotional pain and physical discomfort that come with confronting old age. The characters, repeatedly surprised by their own appearances, are still struggling to come to grips with the fact that their youth is long gone. At one point, Sarah writes Adam: “ ‘Elegant’ is never a term sent in my direction. My mascara runs. Every new blouse has a stain on it by lunchtime. With me, you’ll be trading down. I’ve been cut and pasted and recombined with one botch after the other. I mean it.” Filled with nostalgia and a kind of morbid resignation, the tale explores the ideas of reawakening and unlikely second chances.

A witty, complex love story about a late-in-life romance.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hargrove Press

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Despite some distractions, there’s an irresistible charm to Owens’ first foray into nature-infused romantic fiction.

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WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING

A wild child’s isolated, dirt-poor upbringing in a Southern coastal wilderness fails to shield her from heartbreak or an accusation of murder.

“The Marsh Girl,” “swamp trash”—Catherine “Kya” Clark is a figure of mystery and prejudice in the remote North Carolina coastal community of Barkley Cove in the 1950s and '60s. Abandoned by a mother no longer able to endure her drunken husband’s beatings and then by her four siblings, Kya grows up in the careless, sometimes-savage company of her father, who eventually disappears, too. Alone, virtually or actually, from age 6, Kya learns both to be self-sufficient and to find solace and company in her fertile natural surroundings. Owens (Secrets of the Savanna, 2006, etc.), the accomplished co-author of several nonfiction books on wildlife, is at her best reflecting Kya’s fascination with the birds, insects, dappled light, and shifting tides of the marshes. The girl’s collections of shells and feathers, her communion with the gulls, her exploration of the wetlands are evoked in lyrical phrasing which only occasionally tips into excess. But as the child turns teenager and is befriended by local boy Tate Walker, who teaches her to read, the novel settles into a less magical, more predictable pattern. Interspersed with Kya’s coming-of-age is the 1969 murder investigation arising from the discovery of a man’s body in the marsh. The victim is Chase Andrews, “star quarterback and town hot shot,” who was once Kya’s lover. In the eyes of a pair of semicomic local police officers, Kya will eventually become the chief suspect and must stand trial. By now the novel’s weaknesses have become apparent: the monochromatic characterization (good boy Tate, bad boy Chase) and implausibilities (Kya evolves into a polymath—a published writer, artist, and poet), yet the closing twist is perhaps its most memorable oddity.

Despite some distractions, there’s an irresistible charm to Owens’ first foray into nature-infused romantic fiction.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1909-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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