Winning Texas

Even if she’s not a crime-solver, the beguiling protagonist should attract readers just as much as she attracts trouble and...

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Texas reporter-turned-editor Annie Price once again finds herself immersed in deceit, political conflict, and murder in Stancill’s (Saving Texas, 2013) thriller.

Annie misses her time as an investigative journalist, a gig the Houston Times eliminated a few years ago before promoting her to assistant metro editor. She may soon return to the field, though, when a reporter quits and leaves the newspaper short-staffed. And there’s a lot of story material in her area. State Sen. Sam Wurzbach, for starters, pushes a German-Texas agenda, which would see designated counties emphasize German language and culture. The senator has support from some who see tourism potential, but, sadly that includes seedy strip-club owner Kyle Krause. Adamantly opposing German-Texas are secessionists, who believe it will obliterate their chances of converting the state into an independent republic. Annie’s dealt with the secessionists before, like two particularly dangerous ones on the lam, either hiding out in South America or sneaking back into Texas. Meanwhile, a possibly Eastern European body floating in the Houston Ship Channel may be tied to human trafficking, and Betsy, the 16-year-old daughter of ex-politician (and Annie’s “almost-boyfriend”) Tom Marr, has run away. Things take a momentous turn when someone Annie knows turns up bludgeoned to death, followed shortly thereafter by another murder. So Annie and her colleagues do what journalists do bestinvestigate. The author loads her narrative with seemingly unrelated subplots that gradually and sufficiently come together. There’s little mystery since Stancill, once a reporter herself, focuses much of the plot on Annie’s time at a slowly dying newspaper. While the murderer (or murderers) isn’t hard to pin down, the sudden shakeup at the office, likely resulting in fewer jobs, becomes a fascinating storyline. Annie, too, is a sterling protagonist, surprisingly humble considering she’s a guy magnet, from old flame/fiance Jake Satterfield to smitten co-worker Travis Dunbar. As a pseudo-gumshoe, Annie doesn’t do much, especially when people merely show up at her door with pertinent information. But she willingly puts herself in peril to expose villains, while a significant character’s death near the end (that’s not a murder) is unquestionably shocking.

Even if she’s not a crime-solver, the beguiling protagonist should attract readers just as much as she attracts trouble and men.

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61296-683-0

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2016

Categories:

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 29


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 29


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


  • National Book Award Finalist

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Categories:

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

Categories:
Close Quickview