An often sweet, fast-paced romance with little character development but a strong first-person perspective.

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WELCOME TO SINGLEHOOD

Pearl’s debut romantic comedy follows an opinionated bookkeeper who embarks on a quest for “the real thing.”

Allison Harper was just dumped by Brayden Thomas, her boyfriend of eight years. At 35, she has several friends who are already married with children, and Allison thought that Brayden was “the One” who’d give her the same kind of life. She turns to drinking and partying with her much younger colleague Dee, a vivacious brunette who also happens to be their boss’s niece and therefore constantly gets away with calling in sick. However, Allison finds it difficult to integrate her new life as a party girl with her career, which she still takes seriously. When the bar scene grows tiresome, she begins to explore online dating, and she’s disappointed to discover that men her age with similar life goals are few and far between. To make matters worse, Allison learns via social media that Brayden has quickly moved on to a new love. She has a fling with Tristan, her attractive, single new co-worker; their attraction is fierce, the sex is wonderful, and they engage in witty repartee. But Allison wonders about his level of commitment and whether his plans for the future are the same as hers. After their relationship comes to an explosive end, she turns to her best friend from college, Grant Carter, and takes things to a new level—only to encounter the biggest surprise of all. Pearl’s narrative voice is adorable and often hilarious: “I was amazing, and I wasn’t going to let society tell me differently. And if people had a problem with us, they could always talk to my middle finger,” narrates Allison. Readers seeking marriage, kids, and a fulfilling vocation will relate to the protagonist’s struggle to “have it all.” However, Allison fails to learn or grow at all until the very end, and her never-ending quest to find a husband at any cost—without working on her own personal issues—feels dated. More scenes of genuine emotion might have made the story richer and more fulfilling.

An often sweet, fast-paced romance with little character development but a strong first-person perspective.

Pub Date: April 27, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 359

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2018

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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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A strongly felt, if not terribly gripping, sendoff for a Turow favorite nearly 35 years after his appearance in Presumed...

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THE LAST TRIAL

Trying his final case at 85, celebrated criminal defense lawyer Sandy Stern defends a Nobel-winning doctor and longtime friend whose cancer wonder drug saved Stern's life but subsequently led to the deaths of others.

Federal prosecutors are charging the eminent doctor, Kiril Pafko, with murder, fraud, and insider trading. An Argentine émigré like Stern, Pafko is no angel. His counselor is certain he sold stock in the company that produced the drug, g-Livia, before users' deaths were reported. The 78-year-old Nobelist is a serial adulterer whose former and current lovers have strong ties to the case. Working for one final time alongside his daughter and proficient legal partner, Marta, who has announced she will close the firm and retire along with her father following the case, Stern must deal not only with "senior moments" before Chief Judge Sonya "Sonny" Klonsky, but also his physical frailty. While taking a deep dive into the ups and downs of a complicated big-time trial, Turow (Testimony, 2017, etc.) crafts a love letter to his profession through his elegiac appreciation of Stern, who has appeared in all his Kindle County novels. The grandly mannered attorney (his favorite response is "Just so") has dedicated himself to the law at great personal cost. But had he not spent so much of his life inside courtrooms, "He never would have known himself." With its bland prosecutors, frequent focus on technical details like "double-blind clinical trials," and lack of real surprises, the novel likely will disappoint some fans of legal thrillers. But this smoothly efficient book gains timely depth through its discussion of thorny moral issues raised by a drug that can extend a cancer sufferer's life expectancy at the risk of suddenly ending it.

A strongly felt, if not terribly gripping, sendoff for a Turow favorite nearly 35 years after his appearance in Presumed Innocent.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5387-4813-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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