Not as funny as the first book, but if there’s a third, we’d give it a chance.

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OPERATION DIMWIT

Penelope Lemon deals with some unusual problems at the trailer park.

A sequel to Penelope Lemon: Game On (2018) finds Majors’ plucky heroine still struggling to remain in the middle class, now working as a receptionist at Rolling Acres Estates, where the property owner is a kleptomaniac and also masturbates daily in the restroom attached to Penelope's office. Penelope and her boss, Missy, have noticed things disappearing from their desks, and they’re sure Dewitt, the owner, is taking them. “ ‘Listen,’ Missy said, popping off the couch like a submerged pool toy breaking the surface. ‘We’re going up there and finding our stuff. He’s probably eaten the candy and the gum. But those socks of yours? They’re hanging in a Hello Kitty frame in the sex dungeon beneath his trailer.’ ” While her son, Theo, is off at camp, Penelope expects to “live for two weeks as an unfettered badass single gal, as often depicted on television shows set in New York City,” but the realities of life in the backwater burg of Hillsboro, Virginia, will take things in a rather different direction. Majors' arch delivery makes the book amusing sentence by sentence, but this time the plot is a bit too silly to be resonant. One storyline revolves around a bidet and an aging online suitor named Fitzwilliam Darcy; a second deploys a personalized green-and-orange dildo and a rampaging squad of skunks. A more promising thread set at the gym, where Penelope runs into her ex-husband’s not-very-nice new girlfriend, lies about her athletic abilities, and gets asked out by a workout warrior, is set up but not sufficiently pursued. Perhaps the difference between the original book and this sequel is that the first deals with the absurdities of modern life and the second with the absurdities of, well, the absurd.

Not as funny as the first book, but if there’s a third, we’d give it a chance.

Pub Date: May 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8071-7267-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Louisiana State Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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