An astute and absorbing study of personal growth, human connection, and the nature of reality.


In this fictional meditation on truth, art, and propaganda, an aging hippie reevaluates her artistic vision when she takes a job as assistant to an iconic newscaster.

Before arriving at the opulent home of disabled television journalist Peter Bright in the Thousand Islands area of Ontario, Tina Gabler had watched her life follow a not-uncommon trajectory for those who came of age in the 1970s. Leaving behind parental expectations in her home city of New York to join counterculture communities in California and Vermont, then escaping to Canada with a draft-evading boyfriend, she settled into the protean life of a self-employed event planner in Toronto. Now, at the age of 59 in the summer of 2011, she seeks respite from the gig-to-gig grind and an alternative to following her astronomer boyfriend, Carl, on his yearlong residency in the Canary Islands. Peter, once a famous newscaster, is now dealing with aging and the debilitating effects of post-polio syndrome. He needs Tina not only as chef and personal assistant, but also as an aide in organizing his book about “documentary photography and…the manipulation of imagery.” Working for Peter promises Tina not only the prospect of assisting a prominent journalist on a fascinating project, but also the opportunity to reexamine her life and reconnect with her identity as a graphic artist, teasing out the imagined stories captured in photos. In its questioning of art as both representation and a distortion of reality, Schlack’s novel is sincerely thoughtful while also being warmly personal in its study of the struggle to find meaning both in cultural iconography and individual life experiences. Layers exist throughout the text, in the diverse generational views as well as the uses of photographic and video imagery—from Peter’s “factual” journalistic pictures to Tina’s emotive graphic representations and Carl’s quest to define the elusive dark matter of the universe. The book’s title contains layers of meaning in terms that describe human passion and evasiveness and techniques of photo manipulation. As Peter is quickly burning the last of his life’s essence, Tina works to stop dodging her past, her future, and her own unique vision.

An astute and absorbing study of personal growth, human connection, and the nature of reality.

Pub Date: Dec. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68433-842-9

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2021

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.


Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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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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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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