All the bucolic pacifism of an episode of Prairie Home Companion without the seething undercurrents.

THE CONFESSION CLUB

The denizens of Mason, Missouri, are at it again, dispensing just deserts with unearned optimism on the side.

The premise for this book, a sequel to two other novels set in Mason (Night of Miracles, 2018; The Story of Arthur Truluv, 2017), is the Confession Club, a group of mostly middle-aged women who meet regularly at each other’s homes to exchange secrets over wine and treats. For the most part, though, the Confession Club operates independently and irrelevantly of the novel’s main concern—the ongoing sagas of the late Arthur Truluv’s surviving friends. Iris, baking teacher extraordinaire, is about to turn 50, and 20-something Maddy has just returned from New York City with her 7-year-old daughter, Nola, leaving her new husband behind. A major character is introduced: John, a 66-year-old, handsome, homeless Vietnam vet, has made his way from Chicago to Mason, taking up residence in an abandoned farmhouse. Berg does not delve deeply into either the details of John’s homeless existence or his Vietnam combat experience. However, the competence and resourcefulness John displays as a homeless person are strangely at odds with his PTSD. This contradiction might give readers pause, since PTSD (for which he refused counseling) led to John's wife’s departure, which resulted in his homelessness. Iris is immediately attracted to John, albeit leery of him—and it’s unclear how leery she should be. The Confession Club seems to exist mostly to explore themes like infidelity, loneliness, independence, and longing, which are too generic to relate to the principal players’ predicaments. As usual, Mason is a refuge unruffled by the country’s political turmoil, and conflict, if any, is mostly avoided before it can generate any excitement. Some readers may wish to return to Mason again and again, to relax with the literary equivalent of well-worn slippers, a glass of wine, and no wellness diets in sight. But readers seeking insight into modern American life, leavened with humor, might be better challenged by Richard Russo or Anne Tyler.

All the bucolic pacifism of an episode of Prairie Home Companion without the seething undercurrents.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984855-17-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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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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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

REGRETTING YOU

When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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