Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Next book

A BIGGER PIECE OF BLUE

STORIES

A well-crafted debut that explores intended and unintended consequences.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A loosely connected series of stories about chance, choices, and families.

In the title story of Cox’s debut collection, 18-year-old Creighton Bliss meanders home after a summer job in Oregon in 1950. Near a filbert farm, he spots Ella, who’s older, beautiful, and “on the slow side.” It becomes a tale of trust, if not love, at first sight. Later, when Creighton finds a wounded Ella in the same filbert field, he goes after her assailant and does something that ties him and Ella together forever. Although Creighton, the filbert farm, and Oregon settings appear in several of the other 12 stories in the collection, they’re linked more by theme than by plot. Specifically, they’re concerned with wayward, incompetent parents and their legacies. In “Night Paving,” Elsie Bly takes a job as a flagger with a road construction crew. She fantasizes about being killed on the job but she believes that no one—not even the man she once called “Father”—would cry. In “Bitter Parents of Untalented Children,” Carol and Bill offer an elaborate, macabre toast to their abusive mothers. The longest, most developed story, “Splendid Purpose,” tells of two couples sharing a dinner in 1965. Their marriages are troubled, but their lives seem inalterable. Then a green orb inexplicably appears in the sky, which causes the couples’ relationships to either ascend to loving acceptance or descend into depravity—and their decisions go on to affect their children. Cox creates an impressive array of characters and voices, including the illegitimate daughter of Rita Moreno, and he pulls them all off elegantly. His characters are imperfect, often scarred, and always struggling—and therefore believable. Cox not only constructs immediate, vibrant scenes, but also widens his focus to show the effects of specific choices over lifetimes. His occasional plot-twist endings, however, seem unnecessary given the overall depth of his tales.

A well-crafted debut that explores intended and unintended consequences.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 249

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2017

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 163


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

DEVOLUTION

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 163


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Next book

THE NIGHTINGALE

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

Close Quickview