A well-developed baseball novel with a feel-good ending.

THE HOPPING BIRD

Dossetto’s novel adds a few twists to a familiar plot: a ragtag minor league baseball team with an over-the-hill manager struggles for one last shot at glory.

Harold “Skip” Freeman, a former World Series champion with the Detroit Tigers, now manages the Toledo Mud Hens in the Tigers’ minor league system. He’d been mistreated as a manager in the majors, but he loved the game enough to keep working. That love has since evaporated, however. At the beginning of this story, a pitcher named Rick, who once played for Freeman in the majors, gives the manager a wake-up call, asking him why he’s coasting through the current season. Freeman immediately starts making changes by coaching up a couple of players, including first baseman Andre and an outfielder nicknamed “Latin Lover,” and bringing in a new outfielder prospect named Alex Casillas. During this time, however, Freeman also decides that he wants to retire at the end of the season to spend more time with his wife, Gail. Things start to pick up for the Mud Hens, and the pressure mounts on Freeman to continue his success. Along the way, there are a few amusing subplots: a young woman, Amber, starts out as a kind of baseball groupie, but gains confidence when she finds love with one of the players, and a pitcher, Dirk, gets into some gambling trouble, which leads to a fight scene with a truly hilarious conclusion. Ultimately, Freeman’s success has more to do with how his players end up, especially after they’ve moved on. Although Dossetto tries to avoid a clichéd movie-style ending, the action does follow a tried-and-true trajectory of personal and professional triumphs. However, Amber accomplishes most of her personal growth out of sight, and only comes back into the spotlight near the end, fully formed. The author tells the story from Freeman’s perspective, and he makes outdated pop-culture references that distract from the story more than they add color to his character. At one point, Freeman compares a situation with the ending of the 1996 Kevin Costner film Tin Cup—a reference that most readers may struggle to remember. Also, those who aren’t well-versed in baseball might find the action hard to follow at times. Dossetto makes up for that, though, with a collection of charming characters that are easy to root for, and enough diversions to keep things engaging.

A well-developed baseball novel with a feel-good ending.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2015

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

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IT ENDS WITH US

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 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

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. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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