A sentimental but never sappy coming-of-age tale that hits all the right notes in unexpected ways.

The Artichoke Queen

After the death of her mother, a young woman vows to live her life to the fullest and embarks on a career as a race car driver, defying the norms of 1950s America in Duffy’s debut novel.

Prudence Baylor is a force to be reckoned with. A childhood accident took most of her ability to hear, but it also sparked her deep desire to prove herself. After fleeing an unhappy home life, the 20-year-old takes up her aunt’s offer to come to Los Angeles for a Hollywood audition. But when she’s robbed during a stopover in San Francisco, Prudence is too proud to ask for help and resolves to make it on her own in a new city. Her determination and never-say-die attitude help her land a waitressing gig at a top jazz club. Later, when an opportunity to join the race car circuit presents itself, Prudence eagerly takes it and quickly falls in love with the profession. Within the cocoon of her car, she thinks, there’s no “need to hear well, here she had no shortcomings.” She soon becomes a star, both on and off the track, using beauty pageants and celebrity appearances to help finance her racing career. But as she deals with dizzying developments in her personal life, can she, a woman who prides herself on beating the odds, admit that she may be in over her head? Overall, this is a fun read with a hard edge. Duffy dabbles in nostalgia but isn’t held hostage by it; his characters, including Prudence, may live in an idealized time, but they’re far from perfect. These flaws make them relatable as people and provide avenues for character development. In one race, for example, a multi-leg journey across Mexico, Prudence makes a decision that will haunt her, but it’s in her search for redemption that she ultimately finds a way forward. Duffy’s narrative lags a bit as he approaches the novel’s climax. However, the story finishes strong, providing surprising insights into the lives of those closest to Prudence.

A sentimental but never sappy coming-of-age tale that hits all the right notes in unexpected ways.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60489-159-1

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Livingston Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 38

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable...

THE UNHONEYMOONERS

An unlucky woman finally gets lucky in love on an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.

From getting her hand stuck in a claw machine at age 6 to losing her job, Olive Torres has never felt that luck was on her side. But her fortune changes when she scores a free vacation after her identical twin sister and new brother-in-law get food poisoning at their wedding buffet and are too sick to go on their honeymoon. The only catch is that she’ll have to share the honeymoon suite with her least favorite person—Ethan Thomas, the brother of the groom. To make matters worse, Olive’s new boss and Ethan’s ex-girlfriend show up in Hawaii, forcing them both to pretend to be newlyweds so they don’t blow their cover, as their all-inclusive vacation package is nontransferable and in her sister’s name. Plus, Ethan really wants to save face in front of his ex. The story is told almost exclusively from Olive’s point of view, filtering all communication through her cynical lens until Ethan can win her over (and finally have his say in the epilogue). To get to the happily-ever-after, Ethan doesn’t have to prove to Olive that he can be a better man, only that he was never the jerk she thought he was—for instance, when she thought he was judging her for eating cheese curds, maybe he was actually thinking of asking her out. Blending witty banter with healthy adult communication, the fake newlyweds have real chemistry as they talk it out over snorkeling trips, couples massages, and a few too many tropical drinks to get to the truth—that they’re crazy about each other.

Heartfelt and funny, this enemies-to-lovers romance shows that the best things in life are all-inclusive and nontransferable as well as free.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2803-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more