by Richard Paul Evans ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 6, 2018
Oddly interesting but unsatisfying, especially if one thinks about it too much.
Barely recovering from her now ex-husband’s arrest for bigamy, Maggie decides to buy a Christmas tree to cheer herself up and winds up meeting the sweet, sexy lot owner who sweeps her off her feet. Until she discovers he has a few dark secrets of his own.
Maggie is a Salt Lake City caterer who retreated from life after her husband was arrested for bigamy. Her friend Carina, who has taken over day-to-day operations for the company, encourages her to get out more or at least bring some life into her home. For instance, through a Christmas tree. When Maggie visits a local tree lot, she is immediately attracted to the owner, Andrew. The two become an item very quickly; he invites her to Mexico, they have an amazing time, they come back. Carina has Googled him. There are Things. To. Be. Concerned. About. Maggie abandons him. She reconsiders. He tells her the truth, then decides she’s too good for him and abandons her. People who love them intervene and try to save their romance. An aside: Maggie’s real name is Agnetha—after the woman in ABBA. Growing up in Oregon, her friends called her Aggie, but in Utah, she changed it to Maggie, since the Utah state university teams are called the Aggies and the name became tiresome. Does this aside sound random? Does the review sound a little choppy and simplistic? There’s a reason. While the book has witty and interesting moments, it reads at times like an encyclopedia of interesting facts (who knew a squid was so terrifying?) and at times like a travel site (readers will want to jump a flight to Cabo), and while we root for Andrew and Maggie, in the end, readers might also wonder lots of things, such as how Maggie wouldn’t have Googled Andrew herself, given all the mysterious clues he drops and her own vulnerabilities; or why Andrew never tells her the truth until he’s decided to abandon her; etc.Oddly interesting but unsatisfying, especially if one thinks about it too much.
Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018
Page Count: 320
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018
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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 6, 2018
A tour de force.
In 1974, a troubled Vietnam vet inherits a house from a fallen comrade and moves his family to Alaska.
After years as a prisoner of war, Ernt Allbright returned home to his wife, Cora, and daughter, Leni, a violent, difficult, restless man. The family moved so frequently that 13-year-old Leni went to five schools in four years. But when they move to Alaska, still very wild and sparsely populated, Ernt finds a landscape as raw as he is. As Leni soon realizes, “Everyone up here had two stories: the life before and the life now. If you wanted to pray to a weirdo god or live in a school bus or marry a goose, no one in Alaska was going to say crap to you.” There are many great things about this book—one of them is its constant stream of memorably formulated insights about Alaska. Another key example is delivered by Large Marge, a former prosecutor in Washington, D.C., who now runs the general store for the community of around 30 brave souls who live in Kaneq year-round. As she cautions the Allbrights, “Alaska herself can be Sleeping Beauty one minute and a bitch with a sawed-off shotgun the next. There’s a saying: Up here you can make one mistake. The second one will kill you.” Hannah’s (The Nightingale, 2015, etc.) follow-up to her series of blockbuster bestsellers will thrill her fans with its combination of Greek tragedy, Romeo and Juliet–like coming-of-age story, and domestic potboiler. She re-creates in magical detail the lives of Alaska's homesteaders in both of the state's seasons (they really only have two) and is just as specific and authentic in her depiction of the spiritual wounds of post-Vietnam America.A tour de force.
Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018
Page Count: 448
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017
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by Lisa Jewell ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 24, 2018
Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.
Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.
Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.
Pub Date: April 24, 2018
Page Count: 368
Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018
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