A bland and predictable addition to a series that has had both hits and misses.

THE QUILTER’S HOMECOMING

The latest Elm Creek Quilts novel (Circle of Quilters, 2006, etc.) moves west from the Pennsylvania manor to follow the adventures of Sylvia Bergstrom Compson’s older cousin Elizabeth.

In 1925 (when series grande dame Sylvia is just a child), Elizabeth Bergstrom marries Henry Nelson, who wants to give his young bride a home to match her beloved Elm Creek Manor. So Henry stakes everything he has to buy a cattle ranch in Southern California. The two pack up their wedding gifts, including a number of beautifully sewn Bergstrom quilts, and head off to what they expect will be a prosperous life. But when they arrive at the land office, poor Henry discovers he’s been duped with an invalid deed, leaving the newlyweds destitute. Luckily, the Jorgensens, rightful owners of the ranch, hire Henry to work in the field and give the decidedly genteel Elizabeth a job as housemaid. Of course, the couple could wire home for return train fare, but Henry is too proud, stubborn and ashamed to go back to Pennsylvania, so it will be a long life of labor before the two can realize their dream of owning a ranch in the rapidly urbanizing California landscape. Woven throughout is the tale of the Rodriguez family, original owners of the ranch. Rodriguez descendant Rosa is trapped in an ugly marriage from which Elizabeth hopes to save her. Meanwhile, the love triangle of Rosa, her cuckolded husband and Lars Jorgensen provides a much-needed melodramatic counterpoint to the lackluster tale of Henry and Elizabeth’s struggles. These strangely discordant plot lines merge in the guns-blazing finale that serves to rescue all involved.

A bland and predictable addition to a series that has had both hits and misses.

Pub Date: April 10, 2007

ISBN: 0-7432-6022-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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