An insightful tale that digs deep into the rugged history of British Columbia.

FAILURE OF FISH

A debut novel chronicles the rising and falling fortunes of a Canadian gold mining and fishing town through the eyes of a local boy.

After spending five years in college and earning two degrees, Billy Potter returns to his hometown on the northwestern British Columbia coast during World War I. He’s a passenger on the Aniak, a supply ship that makes a monthly journey to Stella’s Cove, an isolated village that is now almost deserted. His mother, a religious fanatic and alcoholic, is ailing and Billy plans a one-month stay. During Billy’s journey, the town’s tumultuous past is described, including its first rise to glory as a center for the fur trade, another run at prosperity during the gold rush, and a later boom after a salmon-processing plant becomes successful. Prosperity never lasts for long (“like the instability of the glacier that hung menacingly over it, the town of Stella’s Cove was always on a precipitous footing”). When the fur and gold are gone, the Aniak stops coming and desperate residents attempt escapes by land and sea, usually with unfortunate consequences. Billy flees to a university at age 18, but not without having suffered for years at the hands of the Rev. Miles Cromwell, the strict Methodist preacher and schoolmaster whose violent ways leave several students permanently injured. At Cromwell’s direction, the moral code of the town lacks kindness and honesty, which results in several tragic outcomes. The anti-science fervor that rages leads to conflict with a new schoolteacher and eventually poisons Stella’s Cove’s economy. Robinson’s historical novel is packed with illuminating tales about this remote town’s misfortunes, many of them compelling and beautifully described, no matter how dire the situations. While the sapphire-blue glacier hovering over Stella’s Cove remains a source of wonder, the author conveys the fear that Billy and the other residents have of its deadly potential. More than just a boomtown story, the novel makes a strong statement about morality, revealing the different ways that gossip and rigid and unfeeling religious views spark the village’s eventual upheaval. Although the digressive book is strongly written, there is some repetition of events and certain points are hammered home many times (including the emotional impact of the death of the narrator’s father).

An insightful tale that digs deep into the rugged history of British Columbia.

Pub Date: June 25, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 323

Publisher: BroncoJockey Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2017

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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

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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