Art lectures override the stirrings of a young man’s first love in this uneven romance.


A college student masters drawing and learns to love in this debut novel.

Ingo Carmel, 17, moves to Rochester, New York, from Madrid to attend college in 1966.  Focused on art, he quickly bonds with fellow student Shelley James, who is auditing the same drawing class. Slightly older at age 22, she embodies the spirit of the era to Ingo: “Shelley was one of those sixties denizens acutely aware of the rumblings under the social fabric of American life.” They quickly become involved, with Ingo often losing himself in romantic reveries that cause him to reflect on a lecture from a class and draw parallels between artistic techniques and navigating new relationship terrain. A free spirit, Shelley drifts off before committing to Ingo and eventually lands in New York City. She invites Ingo, who has lined up a summer position painting scenery for the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, to move in with her. Much of the summer is spent experimenting with all types of drugs, particularly hallucinogens: “For Shelley, nothing mattered more than pumping a maximum out of right now.” Finally, the distraction from his art and Shelley’s noncommittal attitude drive Ingo to return to Madrid. He then redirects his passion and is admitted to the Riverrun Academy of Art outside of Detroit. He flies there through New York, giving him one last chance to cross paths with Shelley and reevaluate whether he made the right choice. Mahdavi’s ambitious narrative offers an imaginative premise and many rich details about artists, their inspirations, and the ’60s. Unfortunately, the story becomes dominated by dry drawing theories, including waxing for two pages about whether an HB or 2B pencil would be the right choice for a sketch. The novel is sometimes more art textbook than romance. Ingo’s thoughts are always consumed by art rather than love, and the prevalence of internal monologues results in little dialogue between the two lovers. Their relationship lacks enough context and emotion to invest readers in their romantic arc and whether it succeeds.

Art lectures override the stirrings of a young man’s first love in this uneven romance.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2019

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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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