Outstanding poetic musings that strike at the very core of human connections and contradictions.

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CATWALK

A collection of verse explores the strange contours of modern existence.

This impressive volume presents 79 poems in a wide variety of metrical and spatial forms. Natchez begins with a sense of urgency in “Looseplex: Rescue Mission,” in which a sudden trip to New York City signals trouble ahead. The poem features effective assonance and arresting imagery (“Grief flings its implacable lasso / Off the edge of the world where you will be lost”) before abruptly ending midthought. Later, the author juxtaposes two poems, both named “Full Circle, A Diptych,” that turn out to be hinged, mirror images of each other. The seemingly simple act of flipping them, with lines structured in reverse order, thus creates different perceptions. In “Dawn,” she employs line breaks to slippery effect, investing an everyday occurrence with additional meanings: “The newspaper waits / at the curb / the morning / fears still unwrapped.” Is “morning fears” adjective/noun or noun/verb? And what remains unwrapped: the newspaper, the morning, or both? One presence occupying a large space throughout the entire book belongs to Natchez’s husband of over 40 years. “Two-step, Starting with a Grapefruit” represents the give-and-take nature of their relationship while “Why size has almost nothing to do with it” extols the seductive virtues of voluntarily washing the dishes after a party. Another salient feature of this collection centers on what the author calls “prose poems.” The traditionally punctuated “Why I have a soft spot for bad TV” reads like a microstory and offers a glimpse of her childhood, particularly her relationship with her father, whereas the completely unpunctuated “Being here now” suggests the rush of thoughts while one suffers in traffic. Odes to flatulence and endless chores appear alongside meditations on life and death, harmony and dissonance. “Corporate Ode” gently chides readers for their volatile relationships with consumerism and technology. Although these poems are relatively short, with none extending past two pages, readers will most likely need to pause multiple times and process the flood of associations that Natchez provokes with her masterful control of content and form.

Outstanding poetic musings that strike at the very core of human connections and contradictions.

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-578-64422-6

Page Count: 99

Publisher: Longship Press

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

BOOK OF NIGHT

A former thief who specialized in stealing magical documents is forced back into her old habits in Black's adult debut.

Charlie Hall used to work as a thief, stealing for and from magicians—or rather, “gloamists.” In this world, gloamists are people with magical shadows that are alive, gaining strength from the gloamists' own blood. A gloamist can learn to manipulate the magic of their shadow, doing everything from changing how it looks to using it to steal, possess a person, or even murder. Gloamists hire nonmagical people like Charlie to steal precious and rare magical documents written by their kind throughout history and detailing their research and experiments in shadow magic. Gloamists can use onyx to keep each other from sending shadows to steal these treasures, but onyx won't stop regular humans from old-fashioned breaking and entering. After Charlie’s talent for crime gets her into too much trouble, she swears off her old career and tries to settle down with her sensible boyfriend, Vince—but when she finds a dead man in an alley and notices that even his shadow has been ripped to pieces, she can’t help trying to figure out who he was and why he met such a gruesome end. Before she knows it, Charlie is forced back into a life of lies and danger, using her skills as a thief to find a book that could unleash the full and terrifying power of the shadow world. Black is a veteran fantasy writer, which shows in the opening pages as she neatly and easily guides the reader through the engrossing world of gloamists, magical shadows, and Charlie’s brand of criminality. There's a lot of flipping back and forth between the past and the present, and though both timelines are well plotted and suspenseful, the story leans a touch too hard on the flashbacks. Still, the mystery elements are well executed, as is Charlie’s characterization, and the big twist at the end packs a satisfying punch.

Hits the marks for spooky thrills and mysterious chills.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81219-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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