A profound tale of perseverance and family.

AUGIE’S WORLD

A Vietnam veteran’s return to the United States sees him facing anti-war protesters and menacing mobsters in this novel.

By 1970, Augustino “Augie” Cumpton has finished his tour of Vietnam. Though it’s a decade before PTSD becomes an official medical condition, Augie is unquestionably afflicted. Some of it stems from guilt, as he watched friends die in battle, including a fellow soldier who sacrificed his own life for Augie’s. Augie enrolls in graduate school in his home state of West Virginia not long after the Kent State shootings. Upon learning he’s a vet, students and faculty berate him, one even calling him a “baby killer.” After leaving the university, Augie initially fares better working the night shift at the Chestnut Bakery, the family-run business his grandfather started over 50 years ago. But when a member of the mob organization The Black Hand threatens and later beats Uncle Giorgio, Augie responds by knocking out the thug. Uncle Sal tells Augie to lay low and hopes to avoid The Black Hand’s retaliation. The group subsequently demands that Augie’s family turn him over, which Sal resists, looking for a way to save his nephew before dangerous mobsters track down the vet. Brown’s character-driven sequel boasts a consistent pace, occasionally spotlighting Augie’s family and friends. Periodic lighter moments lessen the generally grim tone, as when Augie sits in on a game of pinochle with his charming but foulmouthed aunts and a family friend. Nevertheless, the book’s strongest scenes involve his Vietnam experience, particularly as Augie visits the relatives of his lost comrades. The final act turns darker and more violent. Not only are Augie’s flashbacks and nightmares a never-ending struggle, but those hurt—or killed—by mobsters looking for him compound his already hefty guilt. While the ending satisfies, there’s room for another installment or, perhaps, a spinoff.

A profound tale of perseverance and family. (acknowledgements, recipes, author bio)

Pub Date: July 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68433-562-6

Page Count: 243

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2020

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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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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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