OFF TRACK

A Vancouver-based wholesaler’s life takes a nosedive after his best friend kicks the bucket at the peak of his physical, emotional and financial success.

  Aaron Canducci was born to a Jewish mother and a Catholic father, predisposing him to an acceptance of mysticism and various faiths. Consequently, he’s a very spiritual guy. And it’s a good thing, too, considering his wife has all but abandoned him for her job in New York; major changes are at hand in the distribution company he owns; and his successful, seemingly healthy best friend, Hy Rosen, has just died in his middle age, leaving behind his family and wealth. When Hy visits Aaron from the other side in a dream, he confirms the existence of the afterlife with a secret message Aaron must pass along to Hy’s wife. Aaron obsesses over the meaning of the message but can’t seem to find time to decode it amid his struggles to overcome his drinking problem, betting on horse races at the Bookie Joint, visiting his psychic shrink friend for therapy sessions, volunteering with the Salvation Army and warding off the mob. All of this occurs before Aaron learns that his wife has been hiding a lesbian lover from him for four years, his daughter was raped more than two years ago and there’s a secret, dangerous branch of his family he’s not sure he should get involved with. And then there’s Aaron’s struggle to return to the dating scene after 25 years of marriage. Spevakow crams so many threads into this ambitious, fast-paced novel that it’s difficult to pin down the main plotline or relate to the characters. Most of them lack distinguishing characteristics, so mobsters seem more passive-aggressive than ruthless and Aaron is so even-keeled that his spirituality might as well be complacency. The robotic-sounding dialogue doesn’t help. As Aaron’s daughter unloads her sexual past on him, he jokes, “You could make me a strong drink. No, I’m just kidding. You know I’m not supposed to drink.” Still, Aaron’s many exploits intersect in a web of harrowing misadventures that are impossible to stop reading, most notably his dealings with gangster Darius Singh, the man responsible for Aaron’s first drink, at age 14, that would lead to most of his adult problems.   A compelling story of spirituality, emotional desolation and forgiveness whose characters could use some life.  

 

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2009

ISBN: 978-1449009915

Page Count: 223

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

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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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