A fun, frothy tale that will leave readers excited for a sequel.

DAYTIME DRAMA

Bruck offers a novel about a soap opera actor who tries to follow her dreams.

Callie Hart is a caring mother, a loyal girlfriend, and a talented, veteran actor on the soap opera Napa Valley. However, unlike her “fiery, independent” character, Jessica Sinclair, Callie has a penchant for playing it safe, and when she learns that her soap has been canceled, her once-predictable future becomes a great unknown. At the same time, Jonah, her 12-year-old son whom she’s tried to protect from show business, begins to seek his own path, going on auditions without her permission. Meanwhile, Jonah’s irresponsible father, guitarist “Dirty Al” Karpowicz, asks Callie for an increase in his quarterly payments, for which he long ago gave up his parental rights; Jonah doesn’t even know his dad’s identity. Even Callie’s relationship with her current boyfriend, Napa Valley head writer Paul Kinder, grows fraught due to her reluctance to let him deeper into her life. Fortunately, Callie draws inspiration from the love of her loyal fans and learns to tap into her inner Jessica Sinclair. As she tries to save her show, she learns to take even bolder risks in life, opening her eyes to new possibilities for herself and those she loves. Bruck’s story is satisfying from beginning to end, and readers will particularly enjoy watching Callie’s transformation into a hero who rallies her admirers, overcomes adversity, and learns to dream bigger. Although much of the work is playful in tone, Bruck also tackles some serious subject matter along the way, such as the discrimination faced by middle-aged women in entertainment fields. Deftly defying convention, Bruck also gives her protagonist a boyfriend who’s younger than she is but whose eagerness to commit surpasses her own. The fact that Bruck provides the characters, even Dirty Al, with satisfying endings makes the book even more enjoyable.

A fun, frothy tale that will leave readers excited for a sequel.

Pub Date: March 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-95-281620-8

Page Count: 189

Publisher: TouchPoint Press

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

THE FOUR WINDS

The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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