A tragicomic debut by an impressive new voice.


A young mortuary cosmetologist seeks a balm for her own grief in the world of BDSM.

Amelia Aurelia loves her job. As the cosmetologist in the family-run Aurelia’s Funeral Parlour on the Australian coast, she is part of a well-oiled machine that seeks to provide burial services for the dead and the solace of a perfect funeral experience for the living. “As I brush makeup across Jennifer’s face,” Amelia thinks as she attends to a young woman who has committed suicide, “I wish I could tell her…how important it is for her people to see her like this, how they need to witness this image of her at peace before they can begin to feel peace themselves.” As good as she is at her job, however, Amelia knows that working so closely with grief takes an emotional toll that she seeks to address through daily, more-or-less anonymous sexual encounters with men who will “move [her] out of [her] head and into [her] body [and] fill [her] up with physical feeling to the point where emotions and thoughts [are] wrung out.” In this way, Amelia has created a fragile but working equilibrium, but when her wildly affectionate mother dies in a sudden accident, all of Amelia’s carefully built boundaries come tumbling down. Reeling with grief, she flees from her flamboyant stepfather, Vincent, her polyamorous brother, Simon, and her mother’s best friend, the irrepressible mortuary receptionist Judy, on the day before her mother’s funeral to stay with her emotionally distant biological father, Jack, at his isolated home in Tasmania. While there, Amelia falls into the BDSM scene, first as a sub taking part in an onstage pain scene, and then at the local kink club, the Widow Maker, where she begins her training as a domme. In both roles, Amelia struggles to manage her overwhelming grief as she moves through the rawest phases of her trauma and into the long, slow settling that comes after. At turns a rollicking sexual romp almost slapstick in its intensity and an existential meditation filled with the languid profundity of bodies at their final rest, this unusual novel navigates the most treacherous of emotional territories—the fault lines between love and grief, sex and death—with a deliberate lack of grace and real charm.

A tragicomic debut by an impressive new voice.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-953387-12-7

Page Count: 212

Publisher: Two Dollar Radio

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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