Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

"Raising the Blackbirds"

A STORY OF AN IMMIGRANT FARMWORKER AND HIS COMMUNITY; OF DISTRUST, ENMITY, AND OPPOSITION; OF VISION, LEADERSHIP, AND CONFRONTATION; OF SACRIFICE, REDEMPTION, AND LEGACY . . .

A worthy union tale for readers in search of poignant historical fiction.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A debut novel follows a Mexican farm worker who struggles to support his family in the United States and turns to the power of organized labor.

As a young boy growing up in San Ciro de Acosta, Mexico, Sixto Torres was always a hard worker and proud of his industriousness. He spends a few years studying to become a priest at a seminary, but he realizes, partly because of his attraction to a young woman, that his calling isn’t a priestly one. After his father’s death, Sixto convinces his mother to move the family somewhere he can find work while his siblings attend school. He lands a job on a ranch owned by Don Ramón Yañez, a friend of one of his aunt’s, and falls in love with the man’s daughter, Elida. Sixto’s romantic prospects with Elida are grim given the socioeconomic divide that separates them, but he pursues her nonetheless, impregnates her, and, ultimately, marries her. But, as the family grows, he is plagued by the challenges of supporting it, and Elida is increasingly dispirited as well. Sixto, seeking to improve his circumstances and help his fellow workers, becomes infatuated with the idea of unionization. He discovers he has a talent for labor organization and the ambition to match, and he eventually becomes the president of the San Jerardo Farmworker Housing Cooperative. Moncrief deftly braids a complex history with a fictional dramatization—a synoptic account of the draw of Mexican workers to the U.S. is furnished within the story. Sometimes the reader might feel lost inside intramural union disputes recounted at considerable length, but what emerges, in the main, is a powerful paean to union solidarity. At one point, Sixto says: “Organizing is not foolishness, and the truth is, people in power understand only one idea—power. We need to continue to organize. It’s organizing that changes lives, the people acting together, learning how to make a difference.” The author artfully builds Sixto’s character into a living embodiment of the plight of Mexican workers in the U.S.: he makes hopeful progress, sometimes simultaneously paired with pulverizing disappointment. This is a meticulously researched book that manages to both entertain and edify in equal measure.

A worthy union tale for readers in search of poignant historical fiction.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Singwillow Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 19, 2016

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 123


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

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
  • 123


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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 353


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller

IT ENDS WITH US

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 353


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • IndieBound Bestseller

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 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

Close Quickview