A sophisticated, wildly addictive tool for avowed poetry lovers.

POEMS BY HEART

FROM PENGUIN CLASSICS

For whatever blessed reason, committing poems to memory appears to be back in vogue. Here, Penguin USA and Inkle Studios transport that impulse for learning verse “by heart” from the one-dimensional world of the page to the digital realm’s multimedia expanse with a nifty app.

Readers can download the app for free, then purchase small bundles of thematically grouped classics, creating their own “library” of poems to work through at their own pace. Each poem is tagged with a level of difficulty—Blake’s quatrain “Eternity” is deemed “Easy,” Canto I of the Inferno, “Very Hard”—and prefaced with a brief biographical note. One can read the work in its entirety and/or listen as a voice (female or male) recites the poem. The app’s audio recordings are just serviceable, lacking the drama created by verse performed with a sense of audience. Its most engaging feature sits to the right of each poem, where tapping the “Learn This” button requires the timed filling in of missing words from each clause. One’s score in attempting perfect memorization is then tallied, pinball-machine–like, yielding compliments like “Not bad” and “Amazing.” The sweet reward of successful poetic assimilation awaits on completion of the fifth level of difficulty, when readers can record and save their own recitation of the poem. The repetition involved in attempting such word-for-word recall leads painlessly to fuller comprehension. And while Penguin’s current “poetry store” selections hail from 15 poets as Dead White Male as they come (only Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Barrett Browning represent the fairer sex, and Wallace Stevens alone saw the 20th century), the app provides unique points of entry to famous poems at the lexical level.

A sophisticated, wildly addictive tool for avowed poetry lovers.

Pub Date: April 4, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2013

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

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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