Might not appeal to general readers but serves its narrow intended audience well.

A FINE PIECE OF CHOCOLATE

RIGHTEOUS SISTAS CROSSING OVER TO THE WILD SIDE

In this contemporary parable, debut author and retired New York City public school teacher Banks explores a young woman’s rocky freshman year of college, intermittingly interjecting Scripture-based advice, words of wisdom and “discussion questions” for receptive readers.

Kim is a wholesome, hardworking girl from a close-knit New Jersey family. For Banks, she exemplifies how a “righteous” woman can be brought down by desire, jealousy and rage if she doesn’t listen to her inner voice and hold tight to her commitment to God. Banks’ purpose is to teach young African-American women how to maintain their own values and boundaries when tempted by a suitor who may not have commitment in mind. Although intended for Christian women, much of the advice will be applicable to any woman who wants a loyal life partner. But the story gets caught up in a pheromone rush; for example, when Kim ends up grinding on the dance floor with a slick guy named Slim, she wonders if he is a potential boyfriend, but the narrator advises: “Make your boundary lines clear, or someone else will draw them for you.” The book ends with two other brief tales, one showing an older woman’s romantic downfall; the other portraying a woman who finds a good man through church and lets him court her slowly through to their engagement before consummating the relationship. The end of the book offers “chocolateisms”—advice on how to maintain a strong sense of self while searching for the one. Throughout, the constant, unconventional shifts in tone, from a close first-person narrative to didactic oration, are rather disruptive; however, as the writer’s intention to mentor becomes more apparent, the interruptions are easier to bear. Still, the book is most engrossing when Banks lets go of the lesson and just tells Kim’s story, which on its own has a recognizable moral.

Might not appeal to general readers but serves its narrow intended audience well.

Pub Date: May 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1449791094

Page Count: 162

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 34

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more