A methodically complex series opener that should satisfy Hogwarts fans.

THE ASGARDIAN EXCHANGE

THE RISE OF THE JOTUNS

This YA fantasy debut finds a teenager imbued with the power of a goddess from Norse mythology.

In Wreathen, Delaware, 13-year-old Amanda West is about to enjoy a winter field trip with her history class. She boards the bus and runs into bully Laurie Gellar. When the petty Ms. Biggs, a history teacher, tries to check Amanda’s permission slip, the girl finds it’s missing. She spies Laurie tossing the wet slip out of the bus window, but Ms. Biggs won’t hear any excuses. Amanda misses the trip, and her parents keep her home from the town’s Winter Festival for being so unruly. Luckily, Amanda’s classmate and best friend, Jack Isen, skips the field trip to cheer her up. As they build a snow spider outside, strange creatures appear. They are led by Bergelmir, Lord of the Frost Jotuns (or giants), who refers to Amanda as “Favoured.” This means that she’s been selected to channel the “magick” of an Asgardian deity while a spell by the Norns (Norse goddesses of Fate) quells the fires of Ragnarok. Yet the Jotuns can’t kidnap Amanda once the heroic Lady Freyja joins the battle. The goddess spirits Amanda off to Asgard on a rainbow bridge, where she learns that her patron deity is none other than Sigyn, Loki’s wife and traitor to the realm. Bryan’s series opener brings Norse mythology to a Harry Potter–style school environment. And where Marvel’s Thor comics and films cherry-pick Asgardian lore, here readers get a much denser experience. Even Ginnungagap, the void in which the Nine Realms were born, is mentioned. Strong characters like Cassie, Amanda’s fellow Favoured, guide the protagonist when her parents are transformed into mice and Jack has been taken by Bergelmir. A larger mystery shapes up as harmful “alfblot,” or Fell Elf magick, begins appearing in Asgard. Amanda’s temptation to reach out to the imprisoned Sigyn is an intriguing plot driver. Eventually, the fantasy staple of a powerful ring, in this case, Draupnir, comes into play. A game-changing final moment will energize fans for the sequel.

A methodically complex series opener that should satisfy Hogwarts fans.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 513

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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

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IT ENDS WITH US

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 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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