Best for hopeless romantics.

HE SAID, SHE SAID

In this debut novel, a college professor and his former student conduct a slow romance fueled by his poetry.

After a present-day prefatory first chapter, the novel—told in alternating first-person narrations—turns back 10 years to the fateful meeting in Flagstaff, Arizona, of Peter DuBois, 30, and his English 201 student, Elaine Emerson, 20. He’s immediately drawn to her vibrancy and blue eyes and they begin talking after class. Both appreciate Jane Austen’s refined sensibility; both adore the movie Shakespeare in Love. Though they find each other alluring, she intends to stay a virgin until marriage, and Peter wants her to be “unencumbered.” They settle into a tender but platonic relationship, “a magnetic confluence of two souls now merged to one,” sometimes so deep that they can hear each other’s thoughts. They share snuggles and kisses on romantic get-togethers; Peter writes her love poetry; he asks her to marry him. Elaine agrees, but not yet: “I so want to enjoy us now while we’re as free and wild as summer’s soft rambling winds.” But the strains of school and work, and the imagined difficulties of marriage (“Two children? Good-bye medical career”), separate them. At 30, Elaine is ready to date—but no man compares to Peter. Can the stars align for them at last? In his debut novel, Mazur presents two people so given to high-flown rhapsody that they, and their relationship, rarely seem convincing. A six-month separation, for example, is described as “losing each other for eons in another dimension.” Dialogue is often lecture-y: “To love the beautiful within, Elaine, is to seek love of soul, that which cannot be seen and is immortal.” At the same time, attitudes about the body are often giggly and unsophisticated, with frequent mentions of going “commando.” The book is given to risibly overpraising Peter, whether for his poetry (“absolutely astonishing”) or his bratwurst: “That he was a master sausage maker was quite surprising….Where did one get the time for all this accomplishment?”

Best for hopeless romantics.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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