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FIRST COMES LOVE

Giffin's fans will be pleased with this fast-paced, witty, and thoughtful new offering.

A family struggles to define their new normal 15 years after a tragic loss.

Sisters Josie and Meredith couldn’t be more different. While Josie is an occasionally capricious, still-single elementary school teacher longing for a child of her own, Meredith is a diligent and obsessive lawyer, mother, and wife. Though Meredith desperately tries to create a “perfect Facebook façade,” there are definite cracks at the edges. She is uninterested in trying for a second child, feels listless in her career, and questions the foundation of her marriage. Josie, meanwhile, is attempting to cope with the heavy emotional burden of having her ex-boyfriend’s—the one she still isn’t completely over—young daughter assigned to her class. At nearly 38, with no romantic prospects in sight, Josie decides that she will have to take charge of her desire to be a mother, setting off Meredith, who considers this to be just another one of Josie’s whims. At the core of this troubled family are the grief that lingers over their brother Daniel’s untimely death, the questions that swirl regarding what exactly happened on that fateful night, and the rapidly approaching milestone anniversary. Bestseller Giffin (The One & Only, 2014, etc.) juggles Josie’s quest for motherhood and Meredith’s internal conflicts deftly, with the third force always being their lost brother and the feelings of what their family could have been had things worked out differently. While Josie and Meredith sometimes seem just a touch too self-aware considering their foibles, Giffin paints a realistic portrait of the troubled and complex relationship between a pair of sisters. Beyond the sisters, the novel is rich with well-drawn characters, from Gabe, Josie’s best friend and platonic roommate, to Sophie, Daniel’s girlfriend at the time of his death.

Giffin's fans will be pleased with this fast-paced, witty, and thoughtful new offering.

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-345-54692-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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IT ENDS WITH US

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

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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

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THE LAST LETTER

A thoughtful and pensive tale with intelligent characters and a satisfying romance.

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A promise to his best friend leads an Army serviceman to a family in need and a chance at true love in this novel.

Beckett Gentry is surprised when his Army buddy Ryan MacKenzie gives him a letter from Ryan’s sister, Ella. Abandoned by his mother, Beckett grew up in a series of foster homes. He is wary of attachments until he reads Ella’s letter. A single mother, Ella lives with her twins, Maisie and Colt, at Solitude, the resort she operates in Telluride, Colorado. They begin a correspondence, although Beckett can only identify himself by his call sign, Chaos. After Ryan’s death during a mission, Beckett travels to Telluride as his friend had requested. He bonds with the twins while falling deeply in love with Ella. Reluctant to reveal details of Ryan’s death and risk causing her pain, Beckett declines to disclose to Ella that he is Chaos. Maisie needs treatment for neuroblastoma, and Beckett formally adopts the twins as a sign of his commitment to support Ella and her children. He and Ella pursue a romance, but when an insurance investigator questions the adoption, Beckett is faced with revealing the truth about the letters and Ryan’s death, risking losing the family he loves. Yarros’ (Wilder, 2016, etc.) novel is a deeply felt and emotionally nuanced contemporary romance bolstered by well-drawn characters and strong, confident storytelling. Beckett and Ella are sympathetic protagonists whose past experiences leave them cautious when it comes to love. Beckett never knew the security of a stable home life. Ella impulsively married her high school boyfriend, but the marriage ended when he discovered she was pregnant. The author is especially adept at developing the characters through subtle but significant details, like Beckett’s aversion to swearing. Beckett and Ella’s romance unfolds slowly in chapters that alternate between their first-person viewpoints. The letters they exchanged are pivotal to their connection, and almost every chapter opens with one. Yarros’ writing is crisp and sharp, with passages that are poetic without being florid. For example, in a letter to Beckett, Ella writes of motherhood: “But I’m not the center of their universe. I’m more like their gravity.” While the love story is the book’s focus, the subplot involving Maisie’s illness is equally well-developed, and the link between Beckett and the twins is heartfelt and sincere.

A thoughtful and pensive tale with intelligent characters and a satisfying romance.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-533-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Entangled: Amara

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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