A dirty, chatty, and sometimes-brutal love story for the rap-rock set.

BROKEN MIRRORS AND BURNING BUSHES

A young, reckless couple in Southern California deals with increasingly disastrous situations in Rubinstein’s debut novel.

Drug dealer and aspiring rap-rocker Paul Koval has been in love with his wife, Alice, since he first met her in his community college chemistry class: “The way she seemed to look right through me into my soul. It was that familiar, Hey, don’t I know you from somewhere type feeling. It was the fact that her IQ was probably off the charts. She’s off the chain on every way.” Theirs is a relationship meant for adventure—although when it finds them, it’s not always fun. Both come from traumatic childhoods, and their adult lives are a combustive mix of love, drugs, and violence. They dislike their dead-end service jobs, so Alice encourages Paul to expand his drug business to include meth. She gives birth to their first daughter, Hannah, while Paul is in surgery after being shot by robbers dressed as the Three Stooges on Halloween. Later, after a shootout in the parking lot of a Barnes & Noble, the couple decide that they “need to get out of California for a while,” so they set off on a drug-fueled cross-country restaurant-robbing crime spree. Rubinstein’s prose is frenetic and gritty, capturing the increasing pressure under which Paul finds himself: “I shook my head, trying to clear it. Come on, what are you gonna do? You say it’ll work out, right? How? Go get a job? Where? And looking the way you do? With your work history?…Your daughter’s hungry now.” However, the book is far too long—in part because it spends too much time laying out a comprehensive history of the couple’s relationship. Even so, Rubinstein manages to create characters whom readers can truly feel for, despite their poor decision-making skills and generally grungy ethos. Paul inevitably compares himself and Alice to infamous criminals Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, and it’s a comparison that’s not too far off the mark. Buried within this methed-out epic is a very old story about vicious cycles—and the young Americans who lack the resources to find their way out of them.

A dirty, chatty, and sometimes-brutal love story for the rap-rock set.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-578-60927-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

THE HOTEL NANTUCKET

Bring on the fresh-baked gougères and the hydrangea-blue cashmere throws: A classic fictional setting—the grand hotel—gets the Hilderbrand treatment.

The beloved beach novelist’s 28th book is another tour de force, deploying all her usual tricks and tropes and clever points of view, again among them a character from the afterlife and the collective “we” of gossipy island residents. Our ghost is Grace Hadley, a teenage chambermaid who died under suspicious circumstances in a hotel fire in 1922. Grace’s lonely days are over when the historic property is purchased and reopened by a London billionaire. As Xavier Darling tells his general manager, Lizbet Keaton, their goal will be to get five out of five keys from Shelly Carpenter, an undercover hotel blogger who has not awarded top honors to any spot visited so far. A gorgeous remodel, a sterling staff, free treats in the minibar, and—of course, since this is Hilderbrand—an incredible restaurant where a disco ball drops from the ceiling every night at 9 p.m. and the chef is hotter than any dish on the menu are all in play as the first guests come streaming in. Which one is the hard-to-please Ms. Carpenter? Other addictive storylines include a rich kid cleaning rooms to expiate some mysterious, terrible thing he did this past spring, an evil beauty breaking up island marriages (instead of a gun in the drawer, there's a half-used Chanel eye shadow in Pourpre Brun), and the desperate attempts of Lizbet’s ex, who sexted with their wine rep, to win her back. One of the special services Lizbet creates for the guests of the Hotel Nantucket is a “Blue Book” containing all her recommended island itineraries. A real-life version is included as an appendix, giving the complete scoop on where to eat, drink, sunbathe, shop, and stay on the island, plus notes on which Hilderbrand novels happened where. If you’re ready to check out Chicken Box or to try the sandwiches on herb bread that lured the author to become a permanent island resident in 1993, the Elin Hilderbrand Bucket List Weekend really is a thing.

Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-25867-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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