A playful comedy that delivers more silliness than outright laughs.

THE DECADENTS

A fast-food mogul desperately yearns for respectability and is willing to do extreme things to get it in Schmidt’s farcical novel.

By all objective measures, Phil Ochs is a successful businessman. Despite descending from a “pedigree of losers,” as he thinks of it, he’s built a fast-food empire in South Carolina, made up of 17 Fry Buddy franchises. Nevertheless, he remains dogged by the feeling that he hasn’t received the respect he deserves, and he remains annoyed by the fact that he shares a name with a famous liberal folksinger—a terrible yoke for a “committed conservative”: “You don’t know the burden it’s been to drag that hippie’s weight up the ladder.” To make matters worse, he longs to win the Outstanding Entrepreneur award from the Chamber of Commerce; this year, he’s losing out to a company that produces fake testicles for neutered pets. Frustrated that his adult son, David Samuel, is, in his view, an “over-sensitive, disgraceful goddamn mooch,” he pays a teenager to beat his offspring up, hoping the experience will usher him into manhood. David Samuel’s fantastical depiction of the assault is among the farce’s comedic highlights, as when he imagines his assailants’ thoughts about him: “His grace intimidates me! Me too! Even a thug like me can feel the elegance of his spirit! The devil has presented us a martyr for our adolescent rage, our wild, brutish passion!” Phil finally decides to run for state senate, and uses that opportunity to reinvent himself, allowing voters to come up with a new middle name for him. The entire book is written with nimble enthusiasm, and some of it is very funny, indeed. However, the author’s comedic stylings can hit lower registers at times, as with some of the middle names that the public suggests, such as “Phil Mummy-Fart Ochs,” “Phil Dinosaur Ochs,” and “Phil R.I.P. Ochs.” Also, the book’s inventiveness unfortunately fizzles out long before its conclusion; one may wish that the author had set about crafting a novel that was half as long.

A playful comedy that delivers more silliness than outright laughs.

Pub Date: May 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-956769-13-5

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Library Tales Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 21, 2022

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Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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IT STARTS WITH US

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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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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