Nonetheless, aficionados of all things SPQR will eat this up.

FEAST OF SORROW

The life story of a notorious ancient Roman gourmand, recounted by his slave, a master chef.

Wealthy patrician Apicius was famous for his profligacy and for a palate so exacting that when he was down to what his contemporaries considered a small fortune, he committed suicide because he could no longer afford the best ingredients. In her addictively readable first novel, King expands on the mostly apocryphal stories about Apicius, complete with lavish detail about Roman cuisine. In the year 1 B.C.E., at a slave market, Apicius pays a king’s ransom for Thrasius, an excellent coquus (cook) who can prepare the luxurious spreads Apicius’ banquets are known for. Thrasius soon becomes indispensable to Apicius’ household, which includes loyal Egyptian bodyguard Sotas, wife Aelia, daughter Apicata, and Apicata’s slave, Passia, with whom Thrasius falls in love. Over the next 30 years, the fates of Apicius and his family are caught up in the momentous events of the reign of Augustus Caesar and his successor, Tiberius. Personages who will be familiar to followers of the I, Claudius books by Robert Graves, and the BBC series they inspired, are all here, including Livia, who threatens to purchase Thrasius for the emperor’s kitchens, forcing Apicius to manumit and then hire the chef. Thrasius and Apicius become partners in a cooking school and write a cookbook together. On Cookery, a codex attributed to Apicius, does exist—recipes from it appear throughout the book, featuring exotic ingredients like liquamen, a fish sauce, and silphium, a wild herb so delicious it was apparently rendered extinct by ancient foodie foragers. Livia adds Apicius to her grudge list, with typically dire consequences. However, the villain in chief here is ambitious ruffian Sejanus, Rome’s de facto dictator, who wreaks havoc on Apicius’ world through blackmail and a forcible marriage to Apicata. Unfortunately, though the food lore is fascinating and the time period is inherently dramatic, the characters are so thinly drawn that the reader will care little for their fates, however grim.

Nonetheless, aficionados of all things SPQR will eat this up.

Pub Date: April 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-4513-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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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

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