A witty and often amusing marriage drama.

WHAT'S NOT SAID

A young woman must choose between old loyalties and a new beginning in Taylor’s debut novel.

Kassie O’Callaghan is a successful 54-year-old marketing executive with a knack for details, which has served her well during her long and admirable career. Now, she’s using her gift to orchestrate a very different kind of project: divorcing Mike Ricci, her husband of 30 years. After years of dealing with Mike’s emotional abuse, she’s finally had enough. But just as she’s about to take the leap, she gets some disastrous news—Mike has been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. The news throws her emotions into confusion and complicates her plans to move in with Chris Gaines, a younger man she met while traveling in Venice, Italy. After she postpones her divorce and her other future plans, she comes across clues indicating that Mike may be deceiving her. Kassie eventually faces an impossible decision that might ruin her chance at happiness. Taylor’s dialogue is snappy and contemporary, and the book reads like a fun romantic comedy at times, despite the rather heavy subject matter. Kassie’s inner monologues occasionally provide humorous insights into her personality; when speaking with a doctor involved in her husband’s case, for instance, she thinks to herself, “Oh, that’s reassuring. Let’s suspend with the pleasantries already, shorty, and tell Bad Kassie what’s going on.” The chapters move along briskly without skimping on the finer points of the plot, and there’s even a Spotify playlist and book club discussion questions at the end for those who may be looking for a deeper reading experience. Secondary characters add intriguing layers of complexity to the story, and each plays a role in influencing Kassie’s decisions. The protagonist’s inner struggle feels genuine and heartfelt, and anyone who’s lived through a divorce will find it easy to relate to her.

A witty and often amusing marriage drama.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63152-745-6

Page Count: 316

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2020

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Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

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THE LAST THING HE TOLD ME

When a devoted husband and father disappears, his wife and daughter set out to find him.

Hannah Hall is deeply in love with her husband of one year, Owen Michaels. She’s also determined to win over his 16-year-old daughter, Bailey, who has made it very clear that she’s not thrilled with her new stepmother. Despite the drama, the family is mostly a happy one. They live in a lovely houseboat in Sausalito; Hannah is a woodturner whose handmade furniture brings in high-dollar clientele; and Owen works for The Shop, a successful tech firm. Their lives are shattered, however, when Hannah receives a note saying “Protect her” and can’t reach Owen by phone. Then there’s the bag full of cash Bailey finds in her school locker and the shocking news that The Shop’s CEO has been taken into custody. Hannah learns that the FBI has been investigating the firm for about a year regarding some hot new software they took to market before it was fully functional, falsifying their financial statements. Hannah refuses to believe her husband is involved in the fraud, and a U.S. marshal assigned to the case claims Owen isn’t a suspect. Hannah doesn’t know whom to trust, though, and she and Bailey resolve to root out the clues that might lead to Owen. They must also learn to trust one another. Hannah’s narrative alternates past and present, detailing her early days with Owen alongside her current hunt for him, and author Dave throws in a touch of danger and a few surprises. But what really drives the story is the evolving nature of Hannah and Bailey’s relationship, which is by turns poignant and frustrating but always realistic.

Light on suspense but still a solid page-turner.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7134-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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Fast, furious Clancy fare, fun even though you already know who wins.

TOM CLANCY TARGET ACQUIRED

Bentley keeps Jack Ryan Jr.’s life exciting in this latest grand-scale Tom Clancy adventure.

Ryan is in Tel Aviv on an “asset-validation exercise” for a private company referred to as The Campus, and he takes time to hang out at the beach. There, he sees a woman with a child who he can tell is autistic, and he saves her from a knife-wielding attacker. She’s flummoxed; who’d want to hurt her? When mother and son leave, Ryan wants to return the boy’s dropped Captain America toy. “What could go wrong with that?” he muses naïvely. Only three hell-raising threats in one day. Almost immediately he meets agents from Israeli security, Shin Bet. Who is he? What’s he doing there? But though he doesn’t lie about his name, no one ever exclaims, “Wow, you have the same name as the U.S. president. Any connection?” Anyway, Chinese State Security is also interested in the woman, and Jack doesn’t know why. And then mother and son are kidnapped. True to the Clancy style, what begins as the attempted return of a toy mushrooms into a threat of global conflict—“no good deed goes unpunished” is an apt cliché. Other enemies include Iran's Quds Force, an apocalyptic cult—and some smart jihadis, because “the dumb jihadis died a long time ago.” Ryan is a fierce warrior when the need arises, and he refuses a direct order to return to the U.S.: “Sorry, sir…no can do. I’ve got two innocents still at risk—a mother and child.” So even when the bad guys try to crucify him, “nobody did cornered junkyard dog better than Jack.” Meanwhile, an airborne threat may destroy Tel Aviv. The story has some nice wordplay, with helicopters “clawing for altitude like homesick angels,” and the F-35 being “part ballerina, part racehorse, and all killer.” While on the ground “blood flowed and bones broke,” and a female fighter jock has the final say.

Fast, furious Clancy fare, fun even though you already know who wins.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18813-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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