A frank, moving observation of a young daughter remembering her mother with purpose and strength.


In this middle-grade novel, a young girl embarks on a mission with new friends to save and share her late mother’s unpublished manuscripts.

Twelve-year-old Ellie Kerr has just moved back to the United States after living in Paris for four years, and she has a mission. Her mom, who recently succumbed to ovarian cancer, left behind an unpublished series of stories about “kids who travel and save the world,” along with a pile of publishers’ rejection letters. Ellie is determined to get them published, but she can’t access the manuscripts from Mom’s computer. Oddly, her mother secretly changed the password before she died, and the security protocol protecting it will destroy all of the computer’s data after too many consecutive wrong guesses. Even dad’s intelligence agency-trained, computer-whiz assistant can’t hack the system. Ellie, with the help of her new friends from school, aims to find the answer to the mystery. It turns out to be proof of her mother’s deep love and respect for her—and a reminder that inclusiveness and kindness can always defeat fear. Aertker (Priceless, 2016, etc.) threads this message fairly evenly throughout the narrative, although his characterization of Ellie’s xenophobic school principal is too heavy-handed to make a later about-face credible. Also, the novel’s heroic depiction of a real-life publisher strikes a promotional tone. However, the book’s first half, in which Ellie relives her time in Paris, will have a powerful impact on readers. As Ellie’s happiness at home and at her multicultural school fades with her mother’s illness, Aertker doesn’t sugarcoat Ellie’s perspective. The physical and emotional toll on Mom, and Ellie’s emotional ups and downs as she experiences shock, denial, hope, anger, and grief, have a poignant authenticity. The author also offers other sympathetic characters, including Munda, a cook and aspiring medical student from the West Indies, and Ellie’s father’s driver, Antoine, a cello-playing jazz musician.

A frank, moving observation of a young daughter remembering her mother with purpose and strength.

Pub Date: July 1, 2018


Page Count: 187

Publisher: Flying Solo Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2018

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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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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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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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