Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal

When a middle-aged Danish woman learns how to drive, she gains greater insight into who she is and her place in the world.

Sonya--unmarried, childless and in her 40s--is in a rut. Her learning to drive forms the basis of Mirror, Shoulder, Signal, a richly drawn novel by Danish author Dorthe Nors (Karate Chop) and translated by Misha Hoekstra. Sonya has never felt at home in metropolitan Copenhagen. She longs to return to the Jutland countryside, where she grew up--even more so now that her beau, Paul, has dumped her for a 20-something. Sonya is burned out in her job translating violent crime novels from Swedish into Danish. She suffers spells of vertigo exacerbated by stress. And she can't seem to connect with her sister, Kate, who is a happily married wife and mother with a "golden retriever and a membership in a gymnastics and fitness club. She bakes kringles and knits woolen stockings." Sonya is determined to conquer her fear of driving. However, her inability to shift gears becomes a metaphor for change in her life. And change is never easy--especially for someone as complicated and lost as Sonya.

The loose plot of Nors's compact, minimalistic story--her first novel to be released in English--is enlivened by flares of deadpan wit and a well-developed cast of secondary characters: two male driving instructors--abrupt Jytte and Folke, with whom Sonya flirts--and Ellen, an outspoken massage therapist, who prods Sonya for being a "tight-ass" with her feelings. Nors's exceptional writing and her insightful grasp on the human condition bolster the heartbreak of Sonya's isolated, solitary existence.


Mirror, Shoulder, Signal: A Novel by Dorthe Nors (Translated by Misha Hoekstra)

Graywolf Press, $26.99, Hardcover, 9781555978082, 192 pages

Publication Date: June 5, 2018

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 (July 6, 2018), link HERE

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Family Gathering

An army veteran reconnects with his extended family and falls in love with a woman who tightly guards her heart.
In The Family Gathering, third in the Sullivan's Crossing series by Robyn Carr, Dakota Jones returns to the States following an abrupt discharge from the U.S. Army after 17 years of service. Coming off a heartrending love affair with a Muslim woman he met in the Middle East and several years of wanderlust, Dakota hopes to reconnect with his family, who have settled in Timberlake, Colo. 
Dakota is warmly welcomed by his adult siblings in the tight-knit mountain town, and several local women take a shine to him. However, he is instantly smitten with Sidney, a smart and beautiful local bartender who protects her privacy and a broken heart of her own. The two are generous, caring souls--and deeply devoted to their respective families. But what will it take for Sidney to drop her guard and let Dakota in? His siblings, too, face challenges. Cal--oldest and a successful lawyer--and his doctor wife, Maggie, are new parents. Sierra--youngest and a recovering alcoholic--fosters an abandoned child with her sensitive firefighter beau, Connie.
Meanwhile, Sedona--the second child, visiting Timberlake from Denver--faces a harrowing mental health crisis. This harkens back to the scars of the Joneses' shared, shame-filled childhoods: their eccentric father suffered from untreated schizophrenia and their powerless mother was no help. A well-drawn cast and an intricately woven, romantic plot make for another engaging Jones family saga that will lure new readers to the series and keep already established fans eager for the next installment. 
The Family Gathering by Robyn Carr

Mira, $26.99, Hardcover, 9780778330769, 352 pages

Publication Date: April 17, 2018

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 (May 11, 2018), link HERE