Charming and heartfelt, this complicated love story delivers a well-developed journey of self-discovery and romance.

So Many Boots, So Little Time

From the The MisAdventures of Miss Lilly series , Vol. 3

It’s raining men for a spunky lawyer-turned-detective in Volume 3 of the MisAdventures of Miss Lilly series.

Months after Lilly Katherine Atkins dusted off her boots and returned home to Brooks, Oklahoma, her cheating ex-fiance, Van Peyton Ehlers, is back in town and up to no good; her high school sweetheart, Cash Stetson, is out of rehab and working at her family’s ranch; and Spencer Locke, the former FBI agent who toils at her mentor’s law firm, won’t stop trying to rescue her. When cattle rustlers strike her family’s ranch, the three men in her life distract her as she tries to round up the culprits with the help of a gaggle of girlfriends. “I’m a terrible rancher’s daughter,” Lilly muses. “I love all the animals like pets. Yes, I eat meat…but it’s hard not to have” a certain fondness “for heifers that will follow you around like dogs.” The drawls are thick and the hair is high, but the characters in this installment are more introspective than cartoonish. Confronted with so many men at once, Lilly has an identity crisis, and many bad hair days and wardrobe choices ensue. Her soul-searching takes on a lightly religious tone—more so than in the previous books by Lloyd (Mo(u)rning Joy, 2015, etc.)—as she turns to her Christian faith for solace. Her family and friends, notably Fae Lynn, who’s now pregnant, also provide the type of homespun wisdom that makes small-town stories so appealing. Long talks over homemade cookies or store-bought cakes that will “do in a pinch” add vivid sensory details, as do the quiet moments when Lilly’s Poppa gives her a reassuring pat on the hand. Meanwhile, a rumored sex tape raises the stakes for Lilly to get Van out of her life for good. Aside from her overuse of the word “allegedly,” the straight-shooting heroine is a good foil for the smarmy lawyer. Cash, who had a certain appeal in the previous novels, now seems like a bad habit that Lilly needs to kick. And Spencer’s levelheaded approach to Lilly’s nonstop drama really starts to work for him. Although Lilly’s sleuthing takes a back seat to her many failed relationships, the final showdown with the cattle rustlers adds excitement to an otherwise emotion-heavy plot.

Charming and heartfelt, this complicated love story delivers a well-developed journey of self-discovery and romance.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 203

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Despite some distractions, there’s an irresistible charm to Owens’ first foray into nature-infused romantic fiction.

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WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING

A wild child’s isolated, dirt-poor upbringing in a Southern coastal wilderness fails to shield her from heartbreak or an accusation of murder.

“The Marsh Girl,” “swamp trash”—Catherine “Kya” Clark is a figure of mystery and prejudice in the remote North Carolina coastal community of Barkley Cove in the 1950s and '60s. Abandoned by a mother no longer able to endure her drunken husband’s beatings and then by her four siblings, Kya grows up in the careless, sometimes-savage company of her father, who eventually disappears, too. Alone, virtually or actually, from age 6, Kya learns both to be self-sufficient and to find solace and company in her fertile natural surroundings. Owens (Secrets of the Savanna, 2006, etc.), the accomplished co-author of several nonfiction books on wildlife, is at her best reflecting Kya’s fascination with the birds, insects, dappled light, and shifting tides of the marshes. The girl’s collections of shells and feathers, her communion with the gulls, her exploration of the wetlands are evoked in lyrical phrasing which only occasionally tips into excess. But as the child turns teenager and is befriended by local boy Tate Walker, who teaches her to read, the novel settles into a less magical, more predictable pattern. Interspersed with Kya’s coming-of-age is the 1969 murder investigation arising from the discovery of a man’s body in the marsh. The victim is Chase Andrews, “star quarterback and town hot shot,” who was once Kya’s lover. In the eyes of a pair of semicomic local police officers, Kya will eventually become the chief suspect and must stand trial. By now the novel’s weaknesses have become apparent: the monochromatic characterization (good boy Tate, bad boy Chase) and implausibilities (Kya evolves into a polymath—a published writer, artist, and poet), yet the closing twist is perhaps its most memorable oddity.

Despite some distractions, there’s an irresistible charm to Owens’ first foray into nature-infused romantic fiction.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1909-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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