A smashing debut that’s both intimate and epic.

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TWO LIKE ME AND YOU

In this YA debut, a high schooler befriends the class loner and a World War II veteran.

Edwin Green is a junior at J.P. Hornby High School in Hornby, Alabama. His ex-girlfriend Sadie Evans became a celebrity after improbable events, revealed later in the novel, that happened on April 13, 2014, which Edwin calls “Black Saturday.” In the year since then, he’s been making YouTube videos in the hope of becoming famous himself and winning her back. Then, one day in history class, Edwin’s sad life is graced by Parker Haddaway, a gruff girl whom the teacher makes his partner in a class project. They must ask someone who lived through World War II a series of questions—and luckily, Parker knows just the man to interview: 90-year-old Garland Lenox, who lives at the Morningview Arbor rest home. They ask the cantankerous Air Force veteran about the first time he heard the name Adolf Hitler, and he says, “Doesn’t ring a bell.” He’s teasing them, of course, but the next time the teens visit, Garland has a serious proposal: He offers Edwin $25,000 to help him secretly go to France and reunite with his long-lost love, Madeleine Moreau. The notion is preposterous—but Edwin thinks that if they can complete the mission, he’ll finally become world-famous. Gibbs adds an unconventional sweetness, reminiscent of Jerry Spinelli’s 2000 novel Stargirl, to a tale of a trip to Saint-Lô, which the Allies bombed during WWII. Along the way, the author crafts lines that effectively illuminate both his snarky characters and modern society. Edwin, for example, narrates, “for at least half the famous people out there fame just fell on their heads like bird shit.” Garland, amid irreverent one-liners, provides a wealth of firsthand experience about the Second World War and midcentury America (“I joined the Air Force to get out of the damn woods and see the world”). Parker loves 1990s rap music, and Gibbs sprinkles lyrics throughout the story like confetti. As her fate intertwines with Garland’s and Edwin’s, the meaning of the book’s title comes into flower. In the end, Gibbs avoids easy, saccharine plot turns in favor of ones that strengthen his characters.

A smashing debut that’s both intimate and epic.

Pub Date: May 20, 2019

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Borne Back Books

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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