A bracing Vonnegut-esque performance full of angels and demons, winking commentary, and occasional bloodshed.

MASTERS' MYSTERIUM

NIAGARA FALLS

This third installment of a fantasy series finds Lucifer, disguised as a senator, preparing to take over the United States.

Sixteen-year-old Bailey Tannahill is a self-professed “tomboy” who loves hunting. She lives with her 19-year-old brother, Ian, and their parents, Brian and Linda, on a compound in the wilderness near Youngstown, New York. While trying to capture muskrats on the Miller property, Bailey witnesses a bright light and hideous winged creatures. These are demons that answer to Satan, who currently possesses the body of Sen. Bill Stevenson. When Brian, a hardcore survivalist, learns about Bailey’s sighting, he insists the family drive to Las Vegas, where angels recently defeated some demons. Ian stays in New York in hopes of working at the Pantomime Theater with the Amazing Ahti, an alcoholic magician. In Las Vegas, the Rev. Jay Masters wants to expand his Mysterium franchise to showcase the surreal battles between angels and demons that he and his daughter, Trudy, have experienced. Trudy, pregnant with her husband Gavin’s child, can now see the heavenly “ladders” by which the angels travel. She’s not the only person to display a strange, new power. Ian has been making small objects vanish, a harmless skill until he accidentally casts Bailey into the unknown. In this volume of Reynolds’ (Masters’ Mysterium: Las Vegas, 2015, etc.) quirky series, the author nudges Masters and Trudy out of the spotlight to make room for the Tannahill siblings. Their teenage struggles are well illustrated. Ian wants to be a lighting technician, not a survivalist like his father; Bailey, meanwhile, undergoes a heartening change when the power to communicate with animals manifests, forcing her to question a blind acceptance of hunting. And no story in which the devil possesses a politician would be complete without amusing lines like “Many senators tried to live on their meager $174,000 income without success.” Stevenson’s plot to found the Academy of Peace and Justice feels constrained by Reynolds’ large cast and the rotating tableaux that feature them, but the author’s wicked sense of humor remains intact.

A bracing Vonnegut-esque performance full of angels and demons, winking commentary, and occasional bloodshed.

Pub Date: Nov. 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9886797-1-9

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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

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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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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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