This enjoyable yet not entirely satisfying story will leave readers wanting to know more as they consider the line between...

THE LAST YEAR IN THE LIFE OF MARILYN MONROE VOL. 1

A HIDDEN HISTORY

In this mostly fictionalized account, O’Melveny (Extramarital, 2011) provides the backstory of a recently discovered, long-lost manuscript that provides intimate details of the last days in the life of Marilyn Monroe.

The prologue of Volume 1 introduces Marilyn on the night before her death as she prepares to be wed, once again, to the love of her life, Joe DiMaggio. She’s in a pensive but cheerful mood, and she’s grateful for this second chance at building a life with DiMaggio. From there, a series of dated vignettes draw the reader into Marilyn’s inner circle of celebrities, power brokers and politicians. As many who knew her have affirmed, she is not the ditzy blonde bombshell that was her public persona. Through bits and pieces of dialogue, Monroe’s inner conflict—her desire to remain Norma Jean while fulfilling her obligation to be the celebrity goddess everyone expects—is revealed in short, often unsatisfying glimpses. The book is full of allusions, teasers and suggestions meant to titillate one’s curiosity not only about Marilyn, but about the powerful men who populate her life. President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy are featured prominently in a parallel storyline involving the mob, Frank Sinatra and Fidel Castro. These plotlines will most likely intersect at some point in a future volume, although it’s not clear when or how. While O’Melveny’s account of Marilyn’s final year isn’t in-depth or even wholly true, the dialogue is very well written. Giving voice to public icons is no easy task, but O’Melveny’s lines ring true, lending an air of credibility to every word spoken.

This enjoyable yet not entirely satisfying story will leave readers wanting to know more as they consider the line between fact and fiction.

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2012

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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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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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