A vivid and often compelling adventure with a sweeping, cinematic feel.

THE FLOWER BOAT GIRL

A NOVEL BASED ON A TRUE STORY

Feign’s novel, based on a true story, follows a former sex worker who’s forced into a new life on the high seas.

The story opens on the South China coast in 1801 with a 26-year-old woman named Yang looking over at the “customer in [her] bed.” She narrates her dramatic story as it unfolds. She was sold to the floating “flower boat” brothel as a young girl by her father, but she manages to buy her freedom. But tragically, after painstakingly reclaiming her life, she’s kidnapped by a pirate gang and forced into marriage with their leader, Cheng Yat. However, she eventually pursues a new ambition—to become the most powerful pirate in the world, in her own right. Over the course of the story, her memories offer insight into her family’s dynamic, although as she remembers stories that her mother told her, the tale also keeps readers anchored in the present. The author shows how Yang’s relationships with men are informed by her early childhood trauma and, later, by the fact that the man she’s forced to marry is a captor, not a true husband. However, she grows close to Cheung Po Tsai, Cheng Yat’s young male concubine, whose mischievous aspect adds welcome levity to the fraught dynamic. Overall, this is an epic tale of a woman in 19th-century China daring to live life on her own terms: “Did it make me any less of a woman that marriage and weddings and family carried no such meaning?” Yang asks herself at one point. The pace is steady and suspenseful, and Feign’s prose style is descriptive but simple, rarely getting in the way of the narrative’s forward momentum. That said, the constant weather updates, while perhaps necessary for a seafaring tale, can feel a bit excessive; they offer some nice lines, though, such as “the sky turned the color of weak red tea.”

A vivid and often compelling adventure with a sweeping, cinematic feel.

Pub Date: June 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-9627866541

Page Count: 436

Publisher: Top Floor Books

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If novelists are auditioning to play God, Hilderbrand gets the part.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 21

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

GOLDEN GIRL

From the greenroom of the afterlife—make that Benjamin Moore "Parsley Snips" green—a newly dead Nantucket novelist watches life unfold without her.

In her 27th novel, Hilderbrand gives herself an alter ego—beloved beach-novel author Vivian Howe—sends her out for a morning jog, and immediately kills her off. A hit-and-run driver leaves Vivi dead by the side of the road, where her son's best friend discovers her body—or was he responsible for the accident? Vivi doesn't know, nor does she know yet that her daughter Willa is pregnant, or that her daughter Carson is having a terribly ill-advised affair, or that her son, Leo, has a gnawing secret, or that her ex is getting tired of the girl he dumped her for. She will discover all this and more as she watches one last summer on Nantucket play out under the tutelage of Martha, her "Person," who receives her in the boho-chic waiting room of the Beyond. Hermès-scarved Martha explains that Vivi will have three nudges—three chances to change the course of events on Earth and prevent her bereaved loved ones from making life-altering mistakes. She will also get to watch the publication of what will be her last novel, titled Golden Girl, natch, and learn the answers to two questions: Will the secret about her own life she buried in this novel come to light (who cares, really—she's dead now), and will it hit No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list (now there's an interesting question). She'll also get to see that one of her biggest wrongs is posthumously righted and that her kids have learned her most important lesson. As Willa says to Carson, "You know how she treats the characters in her books? She gives them flaws, she portrays them doing horrible things—but the reader loves them anyway. Because Mom loves them. Because they’re human.”

If novelists are auditioning to play God, Hilderbrand gets the part.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-31642008-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 54

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more