Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Books: New Novels For The New Year From Shalvis & Oshansky


The Bright Spot

By Jill Shalvis

Avon Books an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; paperback, $18.99; available today, Tuesday, January 16th

Jill Shalvis is a New York Times bestselling author who lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters, and any resemblance to them is mostly a coincidence. She has had a legendary career writing romantic fiction, and her book, The Trouble with Mistletoe, has been adapted into a feature film, with two books optioned for television. 

The Bright Spot is the fifth standalone novel in Shalvis' Sunrise Cove series, and it is a heartwarming story about the choices we make and the love we let into our lives. It is full of quick humor, relatable yet flawed characters finding their way, and animal sidekicks.

Luna Wright is many things, but sweet and trusting are not on the list. However, she is a sucker for the underdog and a hard-luck story. She was adopted at birth with little knowledge of her biological family, but she has created her own inner circle, which included her best friend Willow, to help run the struggling but charming Apple Ridge Farm.

With a farm-to-table cafe plus a menagerie of rescued animals, including a baby goat who keeps escaping to the pantry to eat potato chips, it's the best home she has ever known. When the owner Silas, who they secretly call The Grinch, passes away, Luna realizes the farm is now under control of his investment manager, Jameson Hayes, as well as Luna herself. They also discover the many secrets had many, many secrets.

Luna's carefully cultivated corner of the world is threatened and she has to dig deep to find true strength, along with her friends, and the real meaning of love and family.

Poor Deer

By Claire Oshetsky

Ecco; hardcover, 240 pages; $26.99

Claire Oshetsky is the author of Chouette, which was a PEN Faulkner Nominee, the winner of the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, and a finalist for the Northern California Book Award and the Barbellion Prize. 

Poor Deer is Oshetsky's new novel, and it is about Margaret Murphy, who weaves fantastic tales while growing up in a world where the truth is too much for a little girl to endure. 

Margaret's first memory is of the day her friend Agnes died. Nobody blames Margaret, and her mother insists to everyone who will listen that her daughter never left home that day. While left alone to make sense of tragedy, Margaret wills herself to forget these unbearable memories, and forgets them with imagined stories that she fills with faith and magic that always end happily. 

Poor Deer is a strange and formidable creature who winds her way uninvited into Margaret's made-up stories, and she will not rest until Margaret confronts the truth about her past and atones for her role in Agnes' death.

A story that is heartrending, hopeful, and boldly imagined, Poor Deer explores the journey toward understanding the children we were, and the stories we tell ourselves to endure life's toughest moments.

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