A chatty, memoir-esque novel that entertains but grows repetitive.

YEAR OF THE WHAT

A naïve actor/playwright has a life-changing year in this romantic comedy.

In December, Dana has a rude awakening when she realizes her musician ex-boyfriend, Russell—the man she lost her virginity to—is sleeping with another woman. After relocating to New York City from small-town Canada to pursue her dreams of writing and acting, and immediately jumping into a relationship with Russell, the university grad finds herself at a crossroads. With the help of Kelly, her flamboyant roommate who moonlights as a dominatrix, Dana embarks on 12 unforgettable months of late nights in clubs, wild hookups with younger men, and cross-country jaunts to reconnect with old flames. Dana briefly questions her sexual orientation after two separate encounters with women named Kim but quickly realizes she’s only attracted to the vast selection of men now at her fingertips. A brief fling with buff, macho actor Tony introduces Dana to what she really wants sexually. In turn, Dana finds an ideal balance of romance and sex with visiting Spanish artist Santiago but knows geography makes a longer relationship impossible. And then there’s Henry, a much older playboy who asks Dana to join him for an intimate birthday dinner but who also happens to be Dana’s boss. As the year unfolds, she begins to experience professional success onscreen and off-Broadway and discovers who she is and what she wants from life. Author, playwright, and actor Lieberman based this novel on her one-woman show, Year of the Slut, and her first-person voice as protagonist and narrator Dana is both conversational and charismatic. The reader gets a front-row seat to Dana’s sexual adventures, and watching a young woman own her sexuality while making her career dreams come true is pure, gratifying escapism. However, Dana’s character doesn’t display much vulnerability as she experiences win after win, resulting in a distinctive lack of nuance and a story that turns shallow very early on.

A chatty, memoir-esque novel that entertains but grows repetitive.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 201

Publisher: Maple Mermaid Publishing Corp

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2020

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

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 clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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