An unconventional love story for independent women.

BAD LUCK BRIDESMAID

After repeatedly serving as a bridesmaid in weddings that don't end up happening, a woman starts to worry she’s cursed.

Zoey Marks doesn’t believe in marriage, because she’s not sure it ever works out. At least, it doesn’t seem to work out when she’s involved. After being a bridesmaid for two brides who never made it down the aisle, she couldn’t be less interested in getting engaged herself. Especially not when she has her high-powered job running a nontraditional advertising agency with her friend Sara (one of the brides whose weddings Zoey may have cursed). But then she meets Rylan, her lifelong best friend Hannah’s cousin. Zoey quickly falls passionately in love with Rylan, enough to make her possibly think about questioning her anti-marriage stance. That is, until she’s in yet another wedding that ends before it begins. When Rylan proposes right after Zoey gets back home from the third wedding that wasn’t, Zoey turns him down, unable to promise a forever she can’t truly believe in. Wallowing in heartbreak, Zoey’s one comfort is that at least she won’t have to see Rylan again…that is, until Hannah announces that she’s getting married in Ireland, and she wants Zoey by her side. Rylan will be there, and now Zoey has to juggle seeing him, making sure Hannah’s wedding survives Zoey’s bridesmaid curse, and trying to figure out if she can commit to forever and the future she so desperately wants with Rylan. But the wedding weekend is full of secrets, betrayals, and a scheming best man, and Zoey’s afraid that both she and Hannah might not be headed for a happily-ever-after. Zoey’s narration is quick, clever, and full of zingers, but Greenberg often uses that narration to tell the reader things about Zoey’s relationship with Rylan rather than showing their love develop, which makes it difficult to become invested in them as a couple. The story is much more surprising and boldly messy than the cute cover implies, and readers who aren’t looking for a traditional romantic-comedy structure may relate to Zoey’s quest for happiness and her understanding that it can be found in places other than wedding ceremonies.

An unconventional love story for independent women.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-2507-9159-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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Perhaps A-list screenwriters will be able to spin TV gold from this sketchy treatment.

THE LIONESS

An actress and her entourage are kidnapped by Russians in Bohjalian’s uneven thriller.

In 1964, Hollywood’s gossip rags are agog as movie star Katie Barstow marries gallerist David Hill and takes her inner circle along on her honeymoon. And an adventuresome honeymoon it is—on safari in the Serengeti with aging big-game hunter Charlie Patton, who once helped Hemingway bag trophies. But Katie is not the star of this ensemble piece. The populous cast—a who’s who at the beginning is indispensable—includes Katie’s publicist, Reggie Stout; her agent, Peter Merrick; her best friend, Carmen Tedesco, a supporting actress who plays wisecracking sidekicks; and Terrance Dutton, Katie's recent co-star, a Black actor who's challenging Sidney Poitier's singularity in Hollywood. With obvious nods to Hemingway’s worst fear—masculine cowardice—Bohjalian adds in Felix Demeter, Carmen’s husband, a B-list screenwriter who reminds his wife of Hemingway’s weakling Francis Macomber. Felix seems a superfluous double of David, who feels inadequate because Katie is the breadwinner and his father is CIA. Then there’s Katie’s older brother, Billy Stepanov, whose abuse at the hands of their mother shaped the psychologist he is today; Billy’s pregnant wife, Margie; and Benjamin Kikwete, an apprentice safari guide. Thus, a proliferation of voices whose competing perspectives fragment rather than advance the story. The kidnapping plot seems less designed to test each character’s mettle than to exercise Bohjalian’s predilection for minute descriptions of gore. The most heartfelt portrayal here is of the Serengeti and its flora and fauna, but none of the human characters net enough face time to transcend their typecasting. The motives behind the kidnapping might have lent intrigue to the proceedings, but foreshadowing is so slight that the infodump explainer at the end leaves us shocked, mostly at how haphazard the plot is.

Perhaps A-list screenwriters will be able to spin TV gold from this sketchy treatment.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-385-54482-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

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BOOK OF NIGHT

A former thief who specialized in stealing magical documents is forced back into her old habits in Black's adult debut.

Charlie Hall used to work as a thief, stealing for and from magicians—or rather, “gloamists.” In this world, gloamists are people with magical shadows that are alive, gaining strength from the gloamists' own blood. A gloamist can learn to manipulate the magic of their shadow, doing everything from changing how it looks to using it to steal, possess a person, or even murder. Gloamists hire nonmagical people like Charlie to steal precious and rare magical documents written by their kind throughout history and detailing their research and experiments in shadow magic. Gloamists can use onyx to keep each other from sending shadows to steal these treasures, but onyx won't stop regular humans from old-fashioned breaking and entering. After Charlie’s talent for crime gets her into too much trouble, she swears off her old career and tries to settle down with her sensible boyfriend, Vince—but when she finds a dead man in an alley and notices that even his shadow has been ripped to pieces, she can’t help trying to figure out who he was and why he met such a gruesome end. Before she knows it, Charlie is forced back into a life of lies and danger, using her skills as a thief to find a book that could unleash the full and terrifying power of the shadow world. Black is a veteran fantasy writer, which shows in the opening pages as she neatly and easily guides the reader through the engrossing world of gloamists, magical shadows, and Charlie’s brand of criminality. There's a lot of flipping back and forth between the past and the present, and though both timelines are well plotted and suspenseful, the story leans a touch too hard on the flashbacks. Still, the mystery elements are well executed, as is Charlie’s characterization, and the big twist at the end packs a satisfying punch.

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81219-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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