An engaging tale about the importance of allowing friendships to evolve.

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SOUP TO NUTS

After her best friend gets married, a 28-year-old woman must reevaluate her own life in this novel.          

Romy Belkin and Pia Zimble have been best friends since the ninth grade. After attending the same college, they found an apartment to share in Brooklyn, where they’ve been cohabiting happily ever since. They enjoy their nightly routines together so much that neither one minds her dead-end job, working as what Romy calls “urban menials.” After Romy, who loves to cook, makes shirred eggs, Pia suggests that she do it again for a video. But Romy decides to teach her friend the custom recipe and record her efforts. They eventually post the video starring Pia on YouTube. Before long, they are regularly posting instructional videos where Pia pretends she is the chef and sole mastermind behind the recipes. To their great surprise, Pia begins to develop a following. Romy is happy to remain in the shadows and allow Pia the spotlight, even after they are approached for a cookbook deal. They are earning enough to quit their day jobs, and they’re having a blast. Unfortunately, their fledgling business hits a stumbling block when Pia meets Nicolo Gia and gets engaged in what feels like a hot second. The couple is married before Romy can blink, and she’s suddenly struggling to fill the gaping hole left by Pia’s absence. Romy develops a couple of unlikely friendships and embarks on a string of one-night stands, threatening to self-destruct in grief over the recent distance from her best pal. Full of wonderful sensory details about food and methods of cooking, the narrative voice sizzles with passion and reverence for flavor and spice. Told in the first person by Romy, Deborah’s (Rosalind, 2019, etc.) novel reads at many points like nonfiction, creating the impression that at least a portion of the tale is autobiographical. As the plotline moves further away from food, additional themes begin to take center stage, like self-confidence, romance, and self-determination. The author also sheds light on some of the difficulties inherent in finally growing up, including loneliness and self-doubt. Told in a plot-focused, accessible prose, the story deals artfully with many issues that pop up along the road to personal growth, including heartbreak, jealousy, and disappointment.

An engaging tale about the importance of allowing friendships to evolve.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2019

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

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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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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