FLICKING BOOGERS IN THE WIND

Unseemly juvenile antics and unhinged philosophical yakking abound in this boisterous magical-realist novel.
Willy Nilly, a 10-year-old boy living on the outskirts of Bumpkinville, Montana, is a neurotic motor mouth with a grandiose imagination and a penchant for collecting “lucky” pennies—a habit perhaps related to the fact that a very unlucky lightning bolt felled his father. He’s full of cosmic ambition: He wants to be cryogenically frozen and then revived when medical science has cured old age so he can travel the universe in a spaceship. But his more concrete plans tend to misfire, such as a lemonade stand that’s immediately shut down for want of a permit. Better luck comes when he meets Daffodil Peacock, a new girl in class who lives in a palace and collects her own raspberry-flavored tears. They bond over a turtle named Bruce Lee that’s able to telepathically converse with Willy. Daffodil, Bruce and Willy become fast friends, practicing karate together, engaging in debates about “the merits of structuralism versus existentialism,” and mulling “an Aristotelian proof of the proposition that modern cooking shows are eerily similar to ancient forms of alchemical practice.” None of this goes anywhere in particular; instead, Daffodil heads offstage to experience thrilling adventures that readers don’t hear much about while Willy continues to conceive unlikely projects that predictably fizzle. Bricklin has a fertile, teeming comic imagination. However, there’s not much narrative payoff to it: The novel is mainly an excuse for regaling readers with twee notions, overextended japes and drolly precocious dialogue from the mouths of babes. The latter is sophomoric but in no way childlike, unless one knows any 10-year-olds who ask for James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake as a bedtime story. The prose seems overly pleased with its own showy erudition (“I felt like a Roman soldier being ambushed by the Germanic war chief Arminius at the Battle of the Teutoberg Forest”) and sometimes mistakes verbosity (“But is my brain me or am I my brain or am I not my brain or is it the same?”) for profundity. The result often feels as pointless as the title might suggest.

A frenetic but feckless fantasia.

Pub Date: July 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500519858

Page Count: 134

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

REGRETTING YOU

When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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