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HENCH

A fiendishly clever novel that fizzes with moxie and malice.

An aggrieved Millennial henchwoman sets out to prove that not all heroes are super in poet Walschots’ fiction debut.

Shortly after freelance “hench” Anna Tromedlov lands a full-time job entering data for Electrophorous Industries, her boss—a minor supervillain known as the Electric Eel—offers her some fieldwork. Anna is nervous but excited—until she discovers that she’s simply female set dressing for the Eel’s latest press conference. When her employer publicly announces that he’s holding the mayor’s son for ransom, Supercollider—an A-list superhero—crashes through the window, saving the boy but killing multiple henches and shattering Anna’s femur in the process. Upon learning that her surgically repaired leg will take six months to heal, a laid-off Anna moves in with her best friend, fellow hench June. While convalescing, Anna starts calculating approximately how many dollars and life-years the Supercollider and other so-called “heroes” have cost not just her, but the world at large. She posts her findings online, earning public scorn—and the attention of Leviathan, the world’s most infamous supervillain and Supercollider’s archnemesis. Evocative prose, acerbic wit, and patient yet propulsive pacing complement Walschots’ sophisticated plot, which juxtaposes philosophic profundity with brutal, meticulously choreographed action. Boldly drawn characters of sundry ethnicities, sexualities, and gender identities engage in realistically complex relationships that evolve (and devolve) over the course of the tale, illustrating the relativity of good and evil, the corrupting influence of power, and the necrotic nature of revenge.

A fiendishly clever novel that fizzes with moxie and malice.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297857-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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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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THIS SUMMER WILL BE DIFFERENT

A steamy, romantic summer read with a charming setting.

A florist attempts to avoid her best friend’s brother—and their powerful chemistry—on Prince Edward Island.

When Lucy Ashby visits her best friend Bridget’s family home on Prince Edward Island for the first time, Bridget gives her three rules: Eat your weight in oysters….Leave the city behind. And, most importantly, Don’t fall in love with my brother. Unfortunately for Lucy, she sleeps with Felix basically the second her plane lands, unaware that he’s Bridget’s brother until it’s too late. Lucy has never felt understood or accepted by her immediate family, and Bridget is one of the very few people she allows into her inner circle, so Lucy’s desperate to abide by these rules. And so she and Felix try to avoid each other on every one of Lucy’s visits to PEI over the years. And, of course, they fail spectacularly, always returning to each other when they’re in between relationships. But it’s never been anything serious…Lucy makes sure of that, backing off whenever her emotions feel too strong. In her “real life” back in Toronto, it’s easier for Lucy to avoid thinking of Felix as she runs a busy floral shop, working herself into the ground. But when Bridget asks Lucy to come to PEI for an emergency girls’ trip less than two weeks before Bridget is supposed to get married, Lucy drops everything to be there for her best friend. She doesn’t expect to find Felix there, along with feelings that are stronger and more difficult than ever to ignore. Even more than jeopardizing her relationship with Bridget, Lucy is afraid that giving in to her feelings could ruin the life she’s worked so hard to build. Fortune, the author of hits like Every Summer After (2022), gives readers another refreshingly summery story full of angst, romance, and sex scenes aplenty. The PEI setting is a beautiful backdrop for Lucy and Felix’s secret hookups and Lucy’s journey of self-discovery as she learns how to stand on her own two feet as a business owner, friend, and daughter. In addition to frequent (and welcome) Anne of Green Gables references, there are oysters galore and many sandy, windy scenes that transport readers straight to the island.

A steamy, romantic summer read with a charming setting.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780593638880

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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