A fast-paced, funny romp with easy laughs, surprisingly complex characters, and plenty of quirky twists.

JESUS'S BROTHER JAMES

In this black comedy, fate throws together a suicidal man, a workaholic, a snob, and a tempted priest.

Mike was the type of guy who, as a young man, won “Best Hair”; had girls chasing after him; and easily became “regional manager” at his company. But now, he’s round, balding, soon to be twice-divorced, and has plateaued professionally. Fearful that his wife is cheating on him, Mike has decided to end it all because “life is too hard.” Meanwhile, a man named Paul represents everything that Mike is not: successful, adventurous, saying yes to any opportunity. He has Amber, the perfect girlfriend in that she is “beautiful, smart, and, best of all, she had trouble leaving the office in the evening.” But lately Amber has wanted more from Paul and more from her life than work. Confused and drunk on the night of her birthday, Amber winds up hitting on a muscular, tattooed, whiskey-drinking, cigarette-smoking priest. That priest, Father Coady, swallows his lust and tries to get away from temptation when he finds Mike waving a gun around his minivan. Mike wakes up the next morning in the hospital with a gunshot wound and a mysterious, perhaps even miraculous, figure at his side. Supernatural forces, startling coincidences, and even eBay purchases continue to bring these four people together in Reinhardt’s (Afaq, 2014) offbeat novel. His characters expertly walk a thin line between outlandish caricatures and relatable people dealing with the stress of modern life. Amber in particular easily wins both sympathy and laughs as she careens from her outrageous ambition to sympathetic jealousy within just a few paragraphs while Father Coady’s military backstory gives intriguing levels to his outlook on the others. The author’s rapid dialogue creates some genuinely amusing and unexpected exchanges—including a memorable slapstick fight scene involving Mike—but they won’t be for all tastes. Reinhardt’s jokes are often crude, and the book’s mysterious title character requires quite the leap of faith. Still, an exciting and off-kilter adventure awaits those readers willing to take it.

A fast-paced, funny romp with easy laughs, surprisingly complex characters, and plenty of quirky twists.

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68401-966-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Mascot Books

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2019

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

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

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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