When Coughlan eases up on the cleverness and shows his heart, his unique imagination shines through—but unfortunately, this...

WATTLE & DAUB

Very brief stories with an absurdist flair comprise this debut collection from Ireland.

Coughlan’s first book is full of men coming up on middle age who find themselves in bizarre circumstances. “Human Butterfly” features a company employee who decides to confront his office naked after being newly fired. In “Re-Union,” a husband and father must deal with a surprise nocturnal visit from some drunken school chums. The male protagonist in the distressing “Ill Conceived” falls pregnant from his wife and gives birth to an alarm clock through his anus. This latter detail gives a clear sense of where Coughlan’s humor lies, and when given the choice between writing from the heart or landing a pun, Coughlan will almost always choose the latter. (One story is called “Interview with a Campfire.”) Puns are not the only quirk of style here. The stories are heavily descriptive and lightly plotted. Sometimes this works, as in the opening story, “A Nuisance,” in which a teenage girl spends long paragraphs trying to kill a fly only to later find herself in a similarly hunted position in the car of an older man. Sometimes it creates stories that seem to be, like Seinfeld, about nothing, as in “Enhanced Forgiveness,” about a man who buys a new golf club and…goes golfing. With an average page count clocking in around 10, Coughlan’s stories, with their antic energy and over-the-top premises, can feel a little like the bumper cars he describes in the final story, “F-unfair,” “with a madman at the controls sending you head-first into a collision that will wipe the smile off the faces of everyone involved.”

When Coughlan eases up on the cleverness and shows his heart, his unique imagination shines through—but unfortunately, this happens too rarely here.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9987508-3-5

Page Count: 236

Publisher: Etruscan Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Did you like this book?

more