Stories that test the boundaries of the fictional imagination.

FARTHEST SOUTH & OTHER STORIES

Fairy tales and bedtime stories for those dark nights of the soul.

The two stories bookending Rutherford's second collection find a father named Soren drawing from his imagination to ease his young sons toward sleep. Both stories become monstrously supernatural, pitting young boys against sea creatures who threaten to devour their souls. In "The Diver," the final story, Soren fears that his sons realize his tale has “gone off the rails” as a giant squid who flooded the hometown of two abandoned brothers battles a disembodied diver. And, yes, if this were a fable, it has likely lost its point, its moral. But it’s indicative of Soren's mental state, as he fears that his life, his marriage, his family, and his home are all going off the rails. The elements of plot in these stories are often strange and scary—two foxes kidnap a human child to raise as their own, a mother succumbs to spiritual illness, a baby’s illness is nightmarishly investigated at an impersonal hospital—and the contexts throughout are young families, young marriages, young children, and the perception of overwhelming threat facing them all. The stories they weave, which incorporate elements of memories, dreams, fears, and fables, don’t necessarily provide comfort or even much in the way of resolution. They don’t have a lesson except that people tell stories to seek order amid chaos, hope amid impending doom, a reason to keep going. The farthest-flung adventure is the title story, which finds a Norse grandfather, a talking penguin, and 25 children on an ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. “Enchantment, wonder...uncharted, limitless white,” marvels the penguin. There are hints that the whole story is unfolding within the grandfather’s mind or that the narrator is imagining what his grandfather is experiencing as he lies comatose for two months in the hospital. Yet each of these stories has that same white canvas, uncharted, to be filled.

Stories that test the boundaries of the fictional imagination.

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64605-047-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: A Strange Object

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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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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