Courageous, insightful, and unsettling poems about war and family ties.

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A daughter recalls her relationship with her father, a World War II sailor, in this volume of poetry.

This collection opens with Osterman explaining that a “shellback” is a veteran sailor, particularly one who has taken part in an often brutal initiation ceremony after crossing the equator for the first time. The poems contained here recount events from the Pacific War theater, where the poet’s father served in the Navy, along with moments from her childhood and adulthood, including caring for her aging dad. Closing lines from the title poem summarize Osterman’s emotional quest: “This is one shellback’s daughter / trying to find that wiser self within / who can forgive these men.” She examines the psychological impact of war that reverberates through the lives of those who served. Poems such as “Portrait of My Father as a Dad” recall threats of punishment: “I’ll break every bone in your body if you don’t turn down that TV.” The author charts her pathway to forgiveness: “I let memories I can’t erase / rest in peace” and portrays her father’s struggle with aging and sickness. Osterman’s poetry is captivating in the way that it freshly describes the traditionally masculine endeavor of military combat. The poet includes her father’s spoken memories in italics: “Those shells were the size of a little league bat.” But in poems such as “Think of It,” childbirth is used to depict the destruction of the combat zone: “Ships giving birth— / landing tanks tumbling / from the monster hole, / scuttling to shore.” In doing so, she lends a vulnerability to the apparatus of war, which counters her father’s tough male bravado. But Osterman is also unafraid to face the shocking realities of battle. Describing the corpse of a kamikaze pilot, she notes: “He’s just a torso— / the end like a sponge / filled with blood.” The manner in which the poet captures her aging father’s descent into infirmity can be similarly unflinching yet never without a vein of tenderness: “Without muscle to sniff or swallow, your mouth / and nose let drain what’s left of your life. / I touch your shoulder. Happy Father’s Day, I say.” Set against the brutal backdrop of war, this is an emotionally perceptive, poignant, and thoughtfully nuanced examination of the father-daughter relationship.

Courageous, insightful, and unsettling poems about war and family ties.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73449-653-6

Page Count: 82

Publisher: Paloma Press

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.


Bring on the fresh-baked gougères and the hydrangea-blue cashmere throws: A classic fictional setting—the grand hotel—gets the Hilderbrand treatment.

The beloved beach novelist’s 28th book is another tour de force, deploying all her usual tricks and tropes and clever points of view, again among them a character from the afterlife and the collective “we” of gossipy island residents. Our ghost is Grace Hadley, a teenage chambermaid who died under suspicious circumstances in a hotel fire in 1922. Grace’s lonely days are over when the historic property is purchased and reopened by a London billionaire. As Xavier Darling tells his general manager, Lizbet Keaton, their goal will be to get five out of five keys from Shelly Carpenter, an undercover hotel blogger who has not awarded top honors to any spot visited so far. A gorgeous remodel, a sterling staff, free treats in the minibar, and—of course, since this is Hilderbrand—an incredible restaurant where a disco ball drops from the ceiling every night at 9 p.m. and the chef is hotter than any dish on the menu are all in play as the first guests come streaming in. Which one is the hard-to-please Ms. Carpenter? Other addictive storylines include a rich kid cleaning rooms to expiate some mysterious, terrible thing he did this past spring, an evil beauty breaking up island marriages (instead of a gun in the drawer, there's a half-used Chanel eye shadow in Pourpre Brun), and the desperate attempts of Lizbet’s ex, who sexted with their wine rep, to win her back. One of the special services Lizbet creates for the guests of the Hotel Nantucket is a “Blue Book” containing all her recommended island itineraries. A real-life version is included as an appendix, giving the complete scoop on where to eat, drink, sunbathe, shop, and stay on the island, plus notes on which Hilderbrand novels happened where. If you’re ready to check out Chicken Box or to try the sandwiches on herb bread that lured the author to become a permanent island resident in 1993, the Elin Hilderbrand Bucket List Weekend really is a thing.

Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-25867-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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