Long’s narrative is full of trite observations, but her appealing story and quirky characters provide a pleasant few hours’...

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CHANGING LANES

Long (Christmas Confessions, 2008, etc.) adds another feel-good romance/self-revelation novel to her resume.

Talk about having a bad day. Syndicated columnist Abby Halladay and her fiance, Fred, are only months from the Big Day when the ax falls. First, Abby loses her job, then she learns the house they’ve bought in her hometown of Paris, N.J., needs costly repairs before anyone can move in—and she’s already moved out of her old place. Thank goodness for solid, predictable Fred. He’s meeting her for dinner and will make everything right. But then again, maybe not. It turns out that Fred’s flown the coop for Paris—Paris, France—since he’s bored, and now he refuses to return Abby’s calls or texts. Forced to move in with her parents, younger siblings and grandmother, Abby spends the following month driving around town in her dad’s cab while frantically trying to reach Fred, enduring her mother’s attempts at matchmaking and trying to get her life back on track. Along the way, she reconnects with her old neighbor and friend Mick O’Malley, who’s in town to care for his sick mother. Abby and Mick once shared everything, including a kiss, before he slipped out of town 13 years ago after both landed in jail following a stupid mistake. Abby relies on her best friends, Destiny and Jessica, to advise and console her, but she also begins to realize that she’s not the only one with problems. She discovers heartwarming, heart-rending, heartfelt and heartbreaking truths about family, friends, townspeople, couponers, dog therapists and just about everyone else she encounters, as she learns to let go of the past and finally gathers the courage to stand in front of the crowd at the local pub and sing karaoke. But this touching event doesn’t happen until she captures moments in all the aforementioned lives with an old Minolta and reflects on the importance of moving on with life, accepting others, learning to live one’s dreams and so on.

Long’s narrative is full of trite observations, but her appealing story and quirky characters provide a pleasant few hours’ worth of diversion.

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-611099454

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Amazon Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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 heartwarming portrait of a broken heart finding a little healing magic.

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IN FIVE YEARS

After acing a job interview and accepting a marriage proposal, Dannie Kohan has had the perfect day. That is, until she awakens to find herself five years in the future with a completely different man.

Just one hour in that alternate reality shakes Dannie to her core. After all, highly ambitious Dannie and her boyfriend, David, have plotted out their lives in minute detail, and the sexy man in her dream—was it a dream?—is most certainly not in the script. Serle (The Dinner List, 2018) deftly spins these magical threads into Dannie’s perfectly structured life, leaving not only Dannie, but also the reader wondering whether Dannie time traveled or hallucinated. Her best friend, Bella, would delight in the story given that she thinks Dannie is much too straight-laced, and some spicy dreaming might push Dannie to find someone more passionate than David. Unfortunately, glamorous Bella is in Europe with her latest lover. Ever pragmatic, Dannie consults her therapist, who almost concurs that it was likely a dream, and throws herself into her work. Pleased to have landed the job at a prestigious law firm, Dannie easily loses her worries in litigation. Soon four and a half years have passed with no wedding date set, and Bella is back in the U.S. with a new man in her life. A man who turns out to be literally the man of Dannie’s dream. The sheer fact of Aaron Gregory’s existence forces Dannie to reevaluate her trust in the laws of physics as well as her decision to marry David, a decision that seems less believable with each passing day. And as the architecture of Dannie’s overplanned life disintegrates, Serle twists and twines the remnants of her dream into a surprising future.

A heartwarming portrait of a broken heart finding a little healing magic.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3744-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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