An often by-the-numbers political thriller that finds its vigor through its use of all-too-recent American history.

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CODE OF HONOR

Weeks’ debut novel follows a single soldier in a fictionalized version of the United States’ 2002 march to war in Iraq.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Hank Siemens, after being injured attempting to capture Osama bin Laden, is reassigned to Ouvda air base in Israel—an uneventful post where he must deal with far too many brusque, private military contractors. One such encounter involves a suspicious shipment of aluminum tubing, which unbeknownst to him, has ties to men at the highest levels of the United States government. President Hedge, Vice President Beale and Secretary of Defense Ares—transparent analogues to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, respectively—need those tubes to be “captured” on their way into Iraq, so that they can expand their war on terror. U.S. Sen. Paul Whitman of Minnesota stands against the administration, backed by Hank’s father, the cancer-stricken Gen. Thomas Siemens, whose own investigation suggests that Iraq has no means to build weapons of mass destruction. When the general dies, only Hank can help the senator—even if saving his country means defying direct orders. Weeks’ debut is a classic story of a man who can choose not to act and reap the rewards of the war-mongers’ spoils, or risk everything by following the righteous examples of his father and Sen. Whitman. The villains are fairly simplistic, depicted as over-the-top, even comically vile, making Hank’s decision seem obvious. But the heroes’ shortcomings ground the novel, with their flaws so closely tied to their greatest strength: the ideal of honor through service. There’s little action here, which is surprising, as the book opens with a firefight. Instead, Weeks chooses to convey most events before and after they occur, through long, exposition-laden conversations. These are made palatable, however, thanks to their charmingly contrasting settings, from darkened White House offices, to bright, outdoor political gatherings. The novel’s slow reveal as an alternate history is cleverly disarming, and the realization that this version of the United States might escape the fate of the real one gives the plot an extra charge of urgency.

An often by-the-numbers political thriller that finds its vigor through its use of all-too-recent American history.

Pub Date: March 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-0991598908

Page Count: 336

Publisher: 99 Percent Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2014

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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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