A delightful Christmas story to be shared by the whole family.

THE TWELVE TOPSY-TURVY, VERY MESSY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Five years after their mother dies on Christmas Day, two children have a magical Christmas experience.

Will and Ella Sullivan, ages 14 and 12 respectively, have had a tough five years. With their mother's death, their father, Henry, has retreated into himself. He drinks too much, refuses to buy anything approaching a luxury (and in his mind, that would include honey and jam), and does the bare minimum at Columbia University, where he's a professor. With Christmas a forbidden topic, let alone a day a celebrate, Will and Ella decide to set up a dating profile for their father in an attempt to find happiness for him—and Christmas presents for themselves. The result is a crazy, magical, outlandish story that still works: A Ms. Truelove starts messaging "Henry," and the kids message back, pretending to be their father. Henry discovers the scheme almost immediately and lets Ms. Truelove know she’s been messaging children. The next day, however, a crate arrives on the doorstep of their Harlem town house with the words "Truelove Nurseries" stenciled on the outside. Inside: A partridge in a pear tree. More gifts follow: Two turtle doves, followed by three French hens—and so on, through the end of the song for which the book is named. With outlandish yet joyful elements reminiscent of books such as Mr. Popper's Penguins (1938), this joint effort by authors Patterson and Safran is a magical throwback to classic children’s fiction. Scary elements are touched on—a mother's death, a father’s alcoholism, school bullies, shoplifting, and more—but the story itself is uplifting, with friendships rekindled, family love and happiness rediscovered, and neighborliness and kindness shared.

A delightful Christmas story to be shared by the whole family.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-40590-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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

IT STARTS WITH US

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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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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