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Birds of Passage

AN ITALIAN IMMIGRANT COMING OF AGE STORY

A refreshing rethink of the archetypal mafia novel.

This riveting debut novel by Giordano charts the passage of two young Italian men to early twentieth century New York, as they strive to make their mark in the New World.

Leonardo has a strong sense of rectitude, and respect for his family, yet a life in Naples, for him, signals a life wasted. Hugging farewell to his tearful mother, he boards the steamship Prinzessin Irene, bound for Ellis Island, New York. Carlo, meanwhile is the son of the powerful Don Salvatore Mazzi, who flees to America to avoid being arrested for murder. Arriving in the great metropolis, they soon become all too aware how Italians are the target of brutal discrimination. One passerby remarks: “Did you get a whiff of that? Italians from down in the boot reek of garlic and body odor.” [103] In a city that appears to have pitted itself against them, the men must fight for recognition. Leonardo seeks an honest path, vying for work in the dockyards among the Irish, who despite being marginalized themselves, reject Italians as subhuman. Carlo meanwhile becomes involved in a counterfeiting scam which goes horribly wrong. The two men’s paths finally cross when they share lodgings and fall in love with the same woman, the beautiful and enigmatic Azzura Medina. The novel demonstrates how the rapacious nature of big city life, and machinations of the criminal underworld rapidly shapes and distorts the new arrivals’ characters. A sense desperation and viciousness is palpable: “Carlo withdrew the knife and dug it into Shippen’s chest. Shippen’s eyes bulged. He squirmed. Carlo withdrew the knife and raised it to stab again. Shippen made a choking sound. His eyes dulled, and he stopped struggling”. [112] Yet, the novel is held together by a carefully structured plot that does not rely merely on gratuitous violence. The psychological development of Leonardo and Carlo is fascinating, although the author may slightly neglect describing the outer appearance of his characters in detail. Part thriller, part love story, part coming-of-age narrative, this book’s appeal reaches successfully beyond the often restrictive confines of its genre.

A refreshing rethink of the archetypal mafia novel.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-941861-08-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harvard Square Editions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2015

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IT ENDS WITH US

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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SEEING RED

As the plot grows more complicated, it also sheds believability, leaving sex and witty banter to carry the day.

Brown (Mean Streak, 2014, etc.) ticks off the boxes that elevate her books to the bestseller lists in this sexy romantic thriller set in Texas.

Rock-jawed hero with a dark past: check. Strong-willed, beautiful woman who resists his charms: check. A Whitman’s Sampler of bad guys: check. And finally, a convoluted and not always plausible plot: check. In this latest outing, readers meet TV journalist Kerra Bailey, whose family was torn apart years ago by a hotel bombing that killed 197 people in Dallas. Just in time for the 25th anniversary, Kerra scores an interview with the notoriously private Maj. Trapper, who saved her life, among others, when he emerged from the blast to lead the survivors out of danger. There's an iconic, prizewinning photo of the major carrying a little girl from the wreckage, but the child has never been identified—until now, when Kerra goes public with the information that it was her. Just after they finish filming the interview in his home, the major is shot, and an injured Kerra escapes in the confusion. The major’s son, disgraced Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent John Trapper—a name M*A*S*H fans will appreciate—steps in, igniting a chain of events that leads to murder, intrigue, betrayal, and a series of dark revelations. As with most of Brown’s heroes and heroines, there’s palpable sexual tension between Trapper, whose taut rear occupies ample literary real estate, and Kerra, who when dealing with Trapper feels “like he’d lightly scratched her just below her bellybutton” when he’s not making her “pleasure points throb.” The complex plot plays out in a round of reveals that don’t always make a lot of sense, but that’s not why Brown’s fans read her books. They check in for the witty, pitch-perfect dialogue and fluid writing. A master of her genre, Brown knows how to please her most ardent readers but relies too often on the same basic formula from novel to novel.

As the plot grows more complicated, it also sheds believability, leaving sex and witty banter to carry the day.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4555-7210-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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