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ROCK RADIO

A fast-paced and fun throwback to the heyday of the radio era.

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In Wainland’s (Iron Butterfly, 2015) nostalgic thriller set in 1998, two radio disc jockeys find success in their professional lives, but their personal lives are a different story.

At Miami radio station WORR (“Only Rock and Roll”), DJ Jonny Rock (Jonathan Roeker, off-air) has been cheating on his wife for years—lately, with a cute, redheaded intern whose ambition he exploits for personal gain. Dana Drew (Dana Hill, off-air), one of a handful of female DJs in a male-dominated industry, is respected for her talent, but she’s also used as eye candy for promotional events, which she hates. Meanwhile, Larry Carter, Dana’s creepy superfan, has been losing weight, hoping to impress the radio host when he finally meets her in person. After surviving a traumatic childhood, Cody Blue Smith is finally getting his big break as a musician, but his newfound success strains his relationship with his band mates and his girlfriend. The radio station brings all these characters together and then tears them apart. The overarching story captures the zeitgeist of the late 1990s, as the DJs, rock stars, and listeners reveal the glamorous, complicated, and dangerous sides of the music industry in alternating narratives. Wainland’s characters are flawed, funny, and self-aware, brought to life with sharp prose: “he was sporting the hair style an angry child with a yellow crayon would give a stick figure.” The historical details also ring true: the tastemakers of the late ’90s were still people, not algorithms. The best DJs had loyal fans, and even the rude and raunchy ones had hate-listeners. The on-air banter on WORR is as cringe-worthy and familiar as the alternative rock bands on the playlist. Although it’s no surprise when Dana and Jonny receive unwanted attention, it’s exciting to watch what happens when newer technology, such as caller ID and search engines, is used against them.

A fast-paced and fun throwback to the heyday of the radio era.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9978588-1-5

Page Count: 417

Publisher: Twin Tree Press

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

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IT ENDS WITH US

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

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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 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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