by Steven Frye ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 15, 2020
An engaging, sometimes-chilling, and often melancholy tale of the pioneer spirit.
Awards & Accolades
Frye’s novel tells the story of a post–Revolutionary War tenant farmer and his family who head west to Louisiana for a better future.
It’s the fall of 1798, and Sam Rolens’ father has just died. Sam wants to move his family to what he believes will be greener pastures, where good land is “free for the cost of a survey.” He’s the only one of his family members who initially wants to leave, but his wife, Lucetta, faces down her fears and is willing to make the journey. His brother, Elisha, is more resistant but not enough to go off on his own. And so, Sam, Lucetta, their four children—almost-grown Little Charlie, Eve Mary, Ewan, and the youngest, Raymond—and Elisha pack up their possessions and head first for White’s Fort in Tennessee, a waypoint for anticipative settlers, where they plan to wait out the winter and meet up with Burl Rolens, Sam and Elisha’s uncle. Burl has the experience to guide them through the hazardous journey, but before they can rendezvous, Burl must endure his own arduous trek from Natchez, in the Mississippi Territory, an ordeal depicted in the narrative’s grisliest chapters. Sam, a man of few words but many thoughts, has no idea of the toll that the move will take. Over the course of this novel, Frye effectively paints his protagonist as a devoted husband and father, but he’s also shown to be stubbornly convinced that he must stick to his original plan: “There ain’t no freedom without you got land and money.” In addition, he’s effectively depicted as searching for something more spiritual. But although he’s the most fully drawn character in this novel, Sam still remains a bit of a cipher in the end. Frye offers a liberal sprinkling of crude language, graphically violent action scenes, and substantial detail regarding day-to-day activities, which brings the gritty past to life.An engaging, sometimes-chilling, and often melancholy tale of the pioneer spirit.
Pub Date: May 15, 2020
Page Count: -
Publisher: Bathcat Press
Review Posted Online: April 20, 2020
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Susan Mallery ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 31, 2022
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
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022
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by Lauren Groff ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 12, 2023
The writing is inspired, the imaginative power near mystic, but some will wish for more plot.
This historical fever dream of a novel follows the flight of a servant girl through the Colonial American wilderness, red in tooth and claw.
As in her last novel, Matrix (2021), Groff’s imaginative journey into a distant time and place is powered by a thrumming engine of language and rhythm. “She had chosen to flee, and in so choosing, she had left behind her everything she had, her roof, her home, her country, her language, the only family she had ever known, the child Bess, who had been born into her care when she was herself a small child of four years or so, her innocence, her understanding of who she was, her dreams of who she might one day be if only she could survive this starving time." Those onrushing sentences will follow the girl, “sixteen or seventeen or perhaps eighteen years of age,” through the wilderness surrounding the desperate colony, driven by famine and plague into barbarism, through the territory of “the powhatan and pamunkey” to what she hopes will be “the settlements of frenchmen, canada,” a place she once saw pointed out on a map. The focus is on the terrors of survival, the exigencies of starvation, the challenges of locomotion, the miseries of a body wounded, infected, and pushed beyond its limit. What plot there is centers on learning the reason for her flight and how it will end, but the book must be read primarily for its sentences and the light it shines on the place of humans in the order of the world. Whether she is eating baby birds and stealing the fluff from the mother’s nest to line her boots, having a little tea party with her meager trove of possessions, temporarily living inside a tree trunk that comes with a pantry full of grubs (spiders prove less tasty), or finally coming to rest in a way neither she nor we can foresee, immersion in the girl’s experience provides a virtual vacation from civilization that readers may find deeply satisfying.The writing is inspired, the imaginative power near mystic, but some will wish for more plot.
Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023
Page Count: 272
Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023
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