This absorbing tale deftly brings to life momentous military events of the 13th century.

EDGE OF ARMAGEDDON

This third installment of a historical fiction series focuses on Mamluk warriors.

Graft follows up his previous book, A Lion's Share(2019), with another narrative based on highly trained, enslaved soldiers known as Mamluks. It is the year 1257 when the Sultan of Egypt is murdered in his bath. It does not take long for Cenk, a Mamluk from the preceding two installments with a penchant for koumis (fermented mare’s milk), to dispense with the culprits. But what does the future hold for Egypt? Things are tense throughout the region. This is especially true thanks to a threat from the East. Mongol forces are on the warpath; their destruction of Baghdad is ruthless and quick. Those who hope to withstand one of their invasions will need more than luck on their side. It’s a good thing Egypt has men like Leander. Leander, a Mamluk who defected from the French years ago, is on a scouting mission. What he sees is not encouraging: The Mongols’ weaponry is advanced and their numbers are immense. To further complicate matters for Leander, a spy is looking for him. Meanwhile, an accomplished Kipchak craftswoman named Esel embarks on her own path of survival. Esel seeks to escape the life of an enslaved person to help a nephew she has not seen in years. Early portions of the narrative that focus on Esel can move slowly. Readers come to understand all about how (and why) Esel is so good at making bows. They also learn how important bows are when one lives in a harsh steppe environment. Wolves eating your livestock? Better have some well-made weapons at your disposal. Nevertheless, the story kicks into a higher gear when attention turns to the Mongols. Even if some of the political maneuvering and alliances can be complicated, readers learn a lot about the opponents approaching the Mamluks. From wielding mangonels and 12-foot lances fitted with hooks to displaying a fondness for systematically destroying local structures (and subsequently catapulting the debris), a fierce group that is too often generalized as a faceless horde is skillfully illuminated. When a battle approaches, even the horses “snort their realization of what soon comes.”

This absorbing tale deftly brings to life momentous military events of the 13th century.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-950154-71-5

Page Count: 552

Publisher: The Sager Group LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

THE BOARDWALK BOOKSHOP

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

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THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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