Quick but weighty read that fans of dystopian and historical fiction will enjoy.

THE DAY ROME WAS BUILT

Debut dystopian novel for the older set, with a strong base in historical fiction.

Ninety-eight-year-old Herman Rosenfeld awakes at a nursing home in 1997. The first thing he notices is that he isn’t in the same nursing home in which he went to sleep, and while his troublesome hip has improved, his hearing has deteriorated. But these changes seem trivial after he discovers that in his new world, the United States is racially segregated. With the help of Josh, a grandson Herman does not remember, he finds an almanac and learns more terrifying facts: The post–World War II world order is not as he recalls. The New Roman Empire occupies much of the territory once ruled by the old Roman Empire; now, though, it’s a fascist state, with the German Reich occupying territory to the north. Herman convinces Josh to accompany him on a buying trip to Rome so that Herman might meet with Vito Armini, an acquaintance from many years ago whom Herman suspects might be able to explain the situation. Herman is right: Vito had discovered the secret to the Ark of the Covenant—which allows a person to travel through time to a past self—and used it for personal gain. While Josh believes he is humoring his grandfather by supposing that a meeting with fabulously wealthy world leader Armini might be possible, Armini actually summons Herman, who tries to convince him to return the world to its proper reality. Despite its brevity, Davis’ story incorporates lengthy passages from other fictional texts that slow the pace of the story; the Levantine movement, for example, while crucial to the plot, doesn’t need to be described in such excruciating detail. Character development, other than the megalomaniac Vito, is lacking, even though the story is told in first person. The novel would also benefit from more development in plot and setting, but savvy readers may appreciate the prescient warnings found in the work’s premise.

Quick but weighty read that fans of dystopian and historical fiction will enjoy.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2014

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

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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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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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