An engaging, fast-paced story about bringing change to the military establishment.

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BRASS CEILING

#ME-ILITARY TOO

A female soldier rises in the ranks and challenges the military’s silence about sexual assault in this novel.

Mylander describes this book as a follow-up to her 1974 nonfiction book The Generals. It introduces Maggie Malone, a U.S. Army major on her way to Afghanistan on a rescue mission in the late 1990s. The story circles back to Maggie’s childhood on the West Point campus, where her father coaches at the gym and she dreams of becoming a soldier. Maggie is accepted to West Point in 1981, soon after the school starts admitting women, but her career takes a detour when she confronts the commandant, Julian Gard, who’s gotten her younger sister pregnant. Gard agrees to support the child but assigns Maggie to attend medical school, hoping to drive her out of the Army. Maggie becomes an orthopedic surgeon at Fort Hood’s hospital, in Texas. She’s raped by a superior officer but doesn’t report it, fearing reprisals, and she finds herself transferred to a base in Yuma, Arizona. Her career stagnates, but she finds love with Ross Ivans, a fellow soldier. After she successfully operates on visiting congressman Mil Franklin, he becomes her advocate and her career finally progresses. However, problems arise in 1997, when her fellow soldiers leave her behind during a mission in Afghanistan and she’s taken prisoner. She remains a prisoner until the 2001 U.S. invasion, when she returns to find Ross married to someone else. Maggie throws herself into her career and rises to the post of Army chief of staff, which brings her back into conflict with Gard. However, she sets her sights on changing the military’s culture regarding sexual assault. The author delivers an engaging read with a fast-paced plot that will keep readers turning pages. Maggie is a strong protagonist, and the secondary characters are generally well developed. The author grew up in a military family, and her deep knowledge of Army traditions and the realities of military life add to the book’s feeling of authenticity. There’s a touch of wish fulfillment in Maggie’s journey to the top, but it’s justified by Mylander’s portrayal of how the military's current structures and policies make advancement for women exceedingly difficult. The prose is solid and often insightful (“Bachelors are welcomed as prospective husbands and escorts….But single servicewomen of any age are considered loose cannons, threats to the wives and to the established order”), and U.S. Senate confirmation hearings are particularly compelling in Mylander’s hands. There are occasional moments of melodrama—for instance, Maggie’s mother reveals a long-held family secret just seconds before she dies—but they don’t detract from the overall narrative. The concluding chapters are set in the near future, but the story feels very much in the moment, as it deeply engages with contemporary discussions of sexual harassment and assault, representation and tokenism, and leadership and ethics. It will appeal to military fiction enthusiasts as well as those interested in women’s issues, and it’s likely to be thought-provoking for a wide range of readers.

An engaging, fast-paced story about bringing change to the military establishment.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68603-711-5

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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