A tight, exciting escapade with an admirable female aviator.

WASP Sting

In this historical novel, a Women Airforce Service Pilot embarks on a dangerous mission during World War II to retrieve a Jewish scientist from Lithuania.

With no men to spare, women in World War II served in the Women Airforce Service Pilot program, ferrying and testing planes but not flying in combat. Trudy Andrich loves being a WASP: flying the fastest airplanes around is her dream job, and it keeps her so busy that she’s logged more flight time than many men. After she makes a successful dead-stick landing following a mechanical failure, her colonel calls her “the best pilot I have ever met.” That’s why she’s tapped for a secret mission called Project Stinger with Maj. Roderick Jackson, also a pilot. They must extract a scientist from within Lithuania whose research into the differentiation of species and biochemical codes could give the Germans (who would overlook his being Jewish) or the Russians a powerful weapon. It’s a complicated days-long plan involving dangerous flying in extreme cold, disguises, potential combat, and operatives who might or might not be trustworthy, including Rod. He’s attractive, appreciative of Trudy’s blond good looks, and a hero of Dieppe, but subtle clues raise doubts. The mission requires full commitment, giving Trudy every chance to prove her courage, resourcefulness, and flying skills—and just how much a WASP can sting. Sweetapple (Templar Codes, 2014, etc.) writes a well-plotted adventure, with excellent historical details, a lot at stake, and a true-blue American heroine. Getting out alive from her dead-stick landing, Trudy almost face-plants: “That would have been less than deluxe,” she says, brushing it off. Even minor characters come to life, like the lieutenant who actually volunteered for Greenland: “Back home in Alaska, we did the same things…and now I get army pay and free food to boot.” The detailed descriptions of aviation techniques can get lengthy, but the author does a nice job of tying them to specific elements of the mission, and they do serve to convincingly establish Trudy’s competence and authority.

A tight, exciting escapade with an admirable female aviator.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-77289-8

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Eclectic Manor Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

LAST ORDERS

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 39

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2020

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more