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

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Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

THE HOTEL NANTUCKET

Bring on the fresh-baked gougères and the hydrangea-blue cashmere throws: A classic fictional setting—the grand hotel—gets the Hilderbrand treatment.

The beloved beach novelist’s 28th book is another tour de force, deploying all her usual tricks and tropes and clever points of view, again among them a character from the afterlife and the collective “we” of gossipy island residents. Our ghost is Grace Hadley, a teenage chambermaid who died under suspicious circumstances in a hotel fire in 1922. Grace’s lonely days are over when the historic property is purchased and reopened by a London billionaire. As Xavier Darling tells his general manager, Lizbet Keaton, their goal will be to get five out of five keys from Shelly Carpenter, an undercover hotel blogger who has not awarded top honors to any spot visited so far. A gorgeous remodel, a sterling staff, free treats in the minibar, and—of course, since this is Hilderbrand—an incredible restaurant where a disco ball drops from the ceiling every night at 9 p.m. and the chef is hotter than any dish on the menu are all in play as the first guests come streaming in. Which one is the hard-to-please Ms. Carpenter? Other addictive storylines include a rich kid cleaning rooms to expiate some mysterious, terrible thing he did this past spring, an evil beauty breaking up island marriages (instead of a gun in the drawer, there's a half-used Chanel eye shadow in Pourpre Brun), and the desperate attempts of Lizbet’s ex, who sexted with their wine rep, to win her back. One of the special services Lizbet creates for the guests of the Hotel Nantucket is a “Blue Book” containing all her recommended island itineraries. A real-life version is included as an appendix, giving the complete scoop on where to eat, drink, sunbathe, shop, and stay on the island, plus notes on which Hilderbrand novels happened where. If you’re ready to check out Chicken Box or to try the sandwiches on herb bread that lured the author to become a permanent island resident in 1993, the Elin Hilderbrand Bucket List Weekend really is a thing.

Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-25867-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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