Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Storms: Book Three in the Winter Series

Winter Storms concludes a warm-hearted trilogy about a complicated Nantucket family whose loyalties and love run deep.

The Quinns of Nantucket reunite again in the final installment of the Winter Street series. As in Winter Street and Winter StrollElin Hilderbrand juggles an ensemble cast in a holiday setting. This time, however, the plot is structured amid four seasons, culminating at Christmas. 

Winter Storms launches in the spring. Family patriarch Kelley Quinn--a twice-married father of four adult children and the owner of the Winter Street Inn in Nantucket--is battling prostate cancer. He offers the inn for the wedding of his first wife, Margaret--a TV journalist and mother to three of the children--who has decided to remarry. Before the family convenes for the summer nuptials, Margaret and daughter Ava take a trip together, which complicates Ava's continued romantic woes. Patrick--the oldest child, having served prison time for insider trading--resumes life with his stressed, over-achieving wife, a closeted prescription drug addict. Kevin--the dithering middle child--opens a beachfront food venue that changes the dynamic with his long-term girlfriend. Throughout the seasons, Bart--a soldier stationed in Afghanistan, the son of Kelley and his second wife--remains missing in action. 

As each of the Quinn children comes to terms with personal dilemmas, Kelley reflects on his life. And when a nor'easter threatens to disrupt big celebratory plans for Christmas, the tightknit Quinns demonstrate what they mean to each other. Hilderbrand's trilogy reaches a well-resolved conclusion infused with a perfect mix of love, tears and joy.

**A quote from my review (above) was selected as a featured headline in an ad for this novel in The New York Times Book Review**
Little, Brown and Company, $26.00, Hardcover, 9780316261173, 256 pp
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE
NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (October 11, 2016), link HERE

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Today Will Be Different

A restless wife and mother tries to reboot her life only to have her quest go awry.

What does a restless, middle-aged wife and mother--a graphic artist and renowned animator of a legendary cartoon--have in common with a Catholic-turned-atheist hand surgeon to the stars; a makeup-wearing third grader named Timby, who got his name from an autocorrect spelling of the name Timothy; a frustrated poet who works at Costco; and a dog named Yo-Yo? They are the cast of quirky characters created by Maria Semple (Where'd You Go, Bernadette?) in her comic third novel, Today Will Be Different. 

Semple sets Today Will Be Different in the supposed "least religious city in America," Seattle, where scatterbrained, middle-aged Eleanor Flood--resettled from New York--narrates her angst. She feels stalled in her life, unfulfilled and failing those she loves. She wakes one morning and vows, determinedly, to live in the moment and be her "best self." As on any other day, she makes breakfast for her doctor husband and drops Timby off at his progressive, politically correct elementary school before going to her weekly private poetry lesson. But Eleanor's noble quest to reinvigorate her life goes awry when, during the course of one day, she's faced with a string of mishaps--starting with Timby faking a sickness at school--which snowballs when she comes face-to-face with a former employee, an "ingratiating wannabe... sweaty ass-kisser" she fired 10 years earlier, who is now a famous, accomplished artist. 

With a strong narrative voice, fast pace and her signature wit, Semple cleverly spins another raucously funny story wound around deeper implications about the unexpected ways life teaches us to find meaning.

Little, Brown and Company, $27.00 Hardcover, 978-0316403436, 272 pp
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
To order this book on INDIEBOUND, click HERE
NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (October 18, 2016), link HERE