An often engaging story about found families in the wake of tragedy.

LOOKING FOR HOPE

In Mbinguni’s novel, a young girl encounters caring women while on the run with her murderous father.

In Maplewood, Georgia, Hannah Maynard, known to everyone as “Mouse,” is a happy 7-year-old girl. She adores her parents and spends hours in the garden, laying “still on my blanket until my bones hurt, hoping I wouldn’t scare any of the creatures away.” But her father, Ray, is struggling. There’s unrest at his job after a big fire at the mill where he works, and his own mother has just died of cancer. As Hannah puts it, “there was no space to get through his grief.” Hoping to quell his pain, Hannah’s mother plans to throw him a surprise 30th birthday party. But when he doesn’t show up, family friend Johnny B goes looking for him, finally returning with him hopelessly drunk. The drunken Ray misconstrues a harmless embrace between Johnny B and Hannah’s mother, and he turns violent after Johnny B departs. Later that evening, Hannah watches her dad shoot her mom dead. He then flees the scene and takes his daughter with him. The pair stay in the boardinghouse of a kind woman named Ms. Janie and later live for years in a brothel run by the generous, loving Ms. Sookie. Indeed, wherever they go, Hannah is surrounded by kind, powerful, and strong women. The novel, set primarily in the 1950s and ’60s, tells a skillful story about the power of female camaraderie in spite of the horrific violence against a woman near the start of the narrative. Although Hannah has lost her biological mother, she has a coterie of women looking out for her who quickly become like family—a theme that the author deftly evokes throughout the book. Later, when Ray has a child with another woman, Hannah is not upset; rather, she says that “I was in love with him from the moment I held him.” Her generosity of spirit is quietly moving and beautifully rendered through fine dialogue and descriptions.

An often engaging story about found families in the wake of tragedy.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73572-190-3

Page Count: 386

Publisher: New Reads Publications

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2021

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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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REMINDERS OF HIM

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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Sure to enchant even those who have never played a video game in their lives, with instant cult status for those who have.

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TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW

The adventures of a trio of genius kids united by their love of gaming and each other.

When Sam Masur recognizes Sadie Green in a crowded Boston subway station, midway through their college careers at Harvard and MIT, he shouts, “SADIE MIRANDA GREEN. YOU HAVE DIED OF DYSENTERY!” This is a reference to the hundreds of hours—609 to be exact—the two spent playing “Oregon Trail” and other games when they met in the children’s ward of a hospital where Sam was slowly and incompletely recovering from a traumatic injury and where Sadie was secretly racking up community service hours by spending time with him, a fact which caused the rift that has separated them until now. They determine that they both still game, and before long they’re spending the summer writing a soon-to-be-famous game together in the apartment that belongs to Sam's roommate, the gorgeous, wealthy acting student Marx Watanabe. Marx becomes the third corner of their triangle, and decades of action ensue, much of it set in Los Angeles, some in the virtual realm, all of it riveting. A lifelong gamer herself, Zevin has written the book she was born to write, a love letter to every aspect of gaming. For example, here’s the passage introducing the professor Sadie is sleeping with and his graphic engine, both of which play a continuing role in the story: “The seminar was led by twenty-eight-year-old Dov Mizrah....It was said of Dov that he was like the two Johns (Carmack, Romero), the American boy geniuses who'd programmed and designed Commander Keen and Doom, rolled into one. Dov was famous for his mane of dark, curly hair, wearing tight leather pants to gaming conventions, and yes, a game called Dead Sea, an underwater zombie adventure, originally for PC, for which he had invented a groundbreaking graphics engine, Ulysses, to render photorealistic light and shadow in water.” Readers who recognize the references will enjoy them, and those who don't can look them up and/or simply absorb them. Zevin’s delight in her characters, their qualities, and their projects sprinkles a layer of fairy dust over the whole enterprise.

Sure to enchant even those who have never played a video game in their lives, with instant cult status for those who have.

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32120-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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