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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A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

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PEOPLE WE MEET ON VACATION

A travel writer has one last shot at reconnecting with the best friend she just might be in love with.

Poppy and Alex couldn't be more different. She loves wearing bright colors while he prefers khakis and a T-shirt. She likes just about everything while he’s a bit more discerning. And yet, their opposites-attract friendship works because they love each other…in a totally platonic way. Probably. Even though they have their own separate lives (Poppy lives in New York City and is a travel writer with a popular Instagram account; Alex is a high school teacher in their tiny Ohio hometown), they still manage to get together each summer for one fabulous vacation. They grow closer every year, but Poppy doesn’t let herself linger on her feelings for Alex—she doesn’t want to ruin their friendship or the way she can be fully herself with him. They continue to date other people, even bringing their serious partners on their summer vacations…but then, after a falling-out, they stop speaking. When Poppy finds herself facing a serious bout of ennui, unhappy with her glamorous job and the life she’s been dreaming of forever, she thinks back to the last time she was truly happy: her last vacation with Alex. And so, though they haven’t spoken in two years, she asks him to take another vacation with her. She’s determined to bridge the gap that’s formed between them and become best friends again, but to do that, she’ll have to be honest with Alex—and herself—about her true feelings. In chapters that jump around in time, Henry shows readers the progression (and dissolution) of Poppy and Alex’s friendship. Their slow-burn love story hits on beloved romance tropes (such as there unexpectedly being only one bed on the reconciliation trip Poppy plans) while still feeling entirely fresh. Henry’s biggest strength is in the sparkling, often laugh-out-loud-funny dialogue, particularly the banter-filled conversations between Poppy and Alex. But there’s depth to the story, too—Poppy’s feeling of dissatisfaction with a life that should be making her happy as well as her unresolved feelings toward the difficult parts of her childhood make her a sympathetic and relatable character. The end result is a story that pays homage to classic romantic comedies while having a point of view all its own.

A warm and winning "When Harry Met Sally…" update that hits all the perfect notes.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0675-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A sweet, funny, and angst-filled romance with a speculative twist.

ONE LAST STOP

A young woman meets the love of her life on the subway, but there’s one problem: Her dream girl is actually a time traveler from the 1970s.

Twenty-three-year-old August Landry arrives in New York with more cynicism than luggage (she can fit everything she owns into five boxes, and she’d love to downsize to four), hoping to blend in and muddle through. She spent most of her childhood helping her amateur sleuth mother attempt to track down August’s missing uncle, and all that detective work didn’t leave a lot of time for things like friendship and fun. But she ends up finding both when she moves into an apartment full of endearing characters—Niko, a trans psychic whose powers are annoyingly strong; his charismatic artist girlfriend, Myla; and their third roommate, a tattoo artist named Wes. And then, on a fateful subway ride, she meets Jane. Jane isn’t like any other girl August has ever met, and eventually, August finds out why—Jane, in her ripped jeans and leather jacket, is actually a time traveler from the 1970s, and she’s stuck on the Q train. As August, who's bisexual, navigates the complexity of opening her heart to her first major crush, she realizes that she might be the only one with the knowledge and skills to help Jane finally break free. McQuiston, author of the beloved Red, White, and Royal Blue (2019), introduces another ensemble full of winning, wacky, impossibly witty characters. Every scene that takes place with August’s chosen family of friends crackles with electricity, warmth, and snappy pop-culture references, whether they’re at a charmingly eccentric 24-hour pancake diner or a drag queen brunch. But there are also serious moments, both in the dramatic yearning of August and Jane’s limited love affair (it can be hard to be romantic when all your dates take place on the subway) and in the exploration of the prejudice and violence Jane and her friends faced as queer people in the 1970s. The story does drag on a bit too long, but readers who persevere through the slower bits will be rewarded with a moving look at the strength of true love even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

A sweet, funny, and angst-filled romance with a speculative twist.

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2502-4449-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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