Smooth, sophisticated, and sexy.

HONEY & SPICE

A Black British university student explores love and friendship on her radio show in this shining romance debut.

Loner Kikiola “Kiki” Banjo is perfectly content with her Switzerland-esque social status at Whitewell College. Uninterested in making any political or social waves, Kiki dedicates all her energy to “Brown Sugar,” her show on the college radio station. Her college, called “Blackwell” by the school’s Black caucus, is home to a number of cliques and queen bees, but Kiki prefers to stay behind the mic when dealing with any drama between Blackwellian babes and the guys she dubs “Wastemen” (“They waste our time. Waste our energy”). Armed with a sharp tongue and her producer/best friend, Aminah, Kiki hopes the show will land her a spot at New York University’s elite summer pop media program, but she needs a community component to really seal the deal. Enter hot transfer Malakai Korede, a film student and “fresh manna from heaven.” Despite his recent arrival, his more-than-good looks and charisma have already pitted the independent Blackwell women against each other, and even Kiki finds it difficult to withstand his effortless charm. After an impromptu make-out session spurs their unexpected friendship, Kiki and Malakai decide to combine forces and fake date to add to the credibility of “Brown Sugar” and provide audio for his romance documentary. Suddenly, the walls Kiki built around herself come tumbling down as her relationship with Malakai turns them into local celebrities, and she must come to terms with what it means to step out from the recording booth and actually be seen. Babalola’s debut novel is lyrical and sincere, her prose rhythmic: “My smile had had enough of being trapped and spilled out, wide and brazen and messy, dripping everywhere. It soaked through my clothes and into my skin.” Kiki is the epitome of cool; her dialogue oozes with confidence, and her biting wit rolls off her tongue with ease—leaving readers wishing they could play her clever disses on repeat like their favorite song.

Smooth, sophisticated, and sexy.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-314148-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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