FREY'S SEARCH

A good—if unsurprising—alternative to relentlessly brutal Viking sagas.

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A Norse tribe seeks opportunities and justice in the Old World and New in the second novel in a series.

Frey, the protagonist of Hill’s Freys Saga (2012), is now married, with a pregnant wife, Cassandra, the daughter of the widowed Trygve, the jarl, or ruler. The village is raided by the evil Magnus, and Cassandra is kidnapped, setting Frey on a quest to get her back. Meanwhile, Frey’s friend Auger has grown tired of the raiding life, and he and his family leave Norway and sail west, winding up in what will become the Maritime Provinces of Canada. There they meet the Mi’qmak, a tribe that proves welcoming—so welcoming, in fact, that intermarriage soon takes place. Magnus sells Cassandra to a trader who in turn gives her to his brother, Cole, an innkeeper in England and a good man. Frey travels to France and reverts for years to his previous life as a monk, praying that he will find Cassandra. Finally, miraculously, Frey reconnects with Cassandra (who has stayed faithful) and meets his son, Brian. The family ends up in the New World along with Auger and his new Mi’qmak acquaintances. Many readers will figure out early on that things will pretty much end well—and this novel won’t disappoint those looking for a happy ending. Bad guys are no match in a fight with good guys, lucky coincidences abound, and aged patriarchs usually die peacefully in bed, gravid with honors. It’s a romanticized view of Norse life and one hampered by clichés such as “love of his life,” “spread like wildfire,” and “stopped dead in his tracks.” Hill also keeps such a tight rein on her characters that her narrative might have held more interest if she’d taken a more adventurous approach and allowed them sometimes to rebel. That said, what some readers will find manipulative and cloying others will find heartfelt and heartwarming.

A good—if unsurprising—alternative to relentlessly brutal Viking sagas.

Pub Date: July 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984538-04-8

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Xlibris US

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2022

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  • New York Times Bestseller

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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THE LITTLE LIAR

A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

Truth and deception clash in this tale of the Holocaust.

Udo Graf is proud that the Wolf has assigned him the task of expelling all 50,000 Jews from Salonika, Greece. In that city, Nico Krispis is an 11-year-old Jewish boy whose blue eyes and blond hair deceive, but whose words do not. Those who know him know he has never told a lie in his life—“Never be the one to tell lies, Nico,” his grandfather teaches him. “God is always watching.” Udo and Nico meet, and Udo decides to exploit the child’s innocence. At the train station where Jews are being jammed into cattle cars bound for Auschwitz, Udo gives Nico a yellow star to wear and persuades him to whisper among the crowd, “I heard it from a German officer. They are sending us to Poland. We will have new homes. And jobs.” The lad doesn’t know any better, so he helps persuade reluctant Jews to board the train to hell. “You were a good little liar,” Udo later tells Nico, and delights in the prospect of breaking the boy’s spirit, which is more fun and a greater challenge than killing him outright. When Nico realizes the horrific nature of what he's done, his truth-telling days are over. He becomes an inveterate liar about everything. Narrating the story is the Angel of Truth, whom according to a parable God had cast out of heaven and onto earth, where Truth shattered into billions of pieces, each to lodge in a human heart. (Obviously, many hearts have been missed.) Truth skillfully weaves together the characters, including Nico; his brother, Sebastian; Sebastian’s wife, Fannie; and the “heartless deceiver” Udo. Events extend for decades beyond World War II, until everyone’s lives finally collide in dramatic fashion. As Truth readily acknowledges, his account is loaded with twists and turns, some fortuitous and others not. Will Nico Krispis ever seek redemption? And will he find it? Author Albom’s passion shows through on every page in this well-crafted novel.

A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

ISBN: 9780062406651

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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