An engaging summer read, full of wit, charm, and drama.

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In Cullen’s novel, three women summering in the Hamptons find their idyllic vacations to be more complicated than they’d bargained for.

In chapters told from alternating perspectives, readers come to know Megan and Courtney, two recent college graduates fleeing the fallout from their respective romantic relationships, and Nora, a newly divorced, self-made millionaire who’s reeling from the recent sale of her company. The three start off as strangers and are slowly drawn into one another’s orbits, making an unlikely but amiable trio. For much of the novel, the details of the relationships that drove Megan to accept an invitation from her former stepmother to stay in her Westhampton Beach guesthouse, and Courtney to stay with college acquaintance Alyssa, are unclear, but this mystery creates a deliciously intriguing atmosphere against the posh backdrop. Courtney finds herself increasingly alienated from Alyssa and her posse; unlike the artsy, subdued young woman she knew at school, Alyssa now cares only for partying and drugs (“I’m increasingly aware that ‘Summer Alyssa’ isn’t quite who I bargained for”). Then, Alyssa’s true focus on Courtney’s ex-boyfriend become clear. Soon enough, both Megan’s and Courtney’s relationships catch up with them, resulting in a loosely strung love triangle, malicious lies, and miscommunications. Nora’s chapters, while less immediately gripping, slowly reveal a heartwarming story as she fumbles to repair the friendships she’s neglected, strike up a relationship via a matchmaking service, and connect with her summer housemate. Cullen, the author of The Last Summer Sister (2021) enlivens a classic beach-read plot with a quick wit, a knack for drawing complicated family relationships, and contemporary flair. Each of the three main characters is fully drawn and warm; despite their flaws, readers will root for them. Alyssa is a compelling antagonist, but one wishes for more scenes with her. Supporting players are less well defined, though; bartender Tucker disappears halfway through the novel, and boyfriends exist only peripherally. However, the book’s representation of neurodivergent characters and queer relationships is well crafted and refreshing.

An engaging summer read, full of wit, charm, and drama.

Pub Date: March 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-578-28058-5

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Lime Street Press

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2022


A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

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


A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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