A lyrical, outstanding modern reshaping of the ancient Homeric epic.

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    Best Books Of 2013

I, PARIS

A retelling of Homer’s Iliad from the point of view of Paris, seducer of Helen.

Homer’s millennia-old story about the abduction of Helen from Sparta and the resulting 10-year Greek siege of Troy is given a fresh retelling in Garnett’s fiction debut, this time centering on the character of handsome, exiled Trojan prince Paris, a simple woodsman who one day encounters a miraculous vision: three goddesses, each of whom offers him a prize. He can choose to have wisdom, power or the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta, wife of King Menelaus. Paris picks Helen, re-introduces himself to his royal family at Troy, sets out for Menelaus’ palace, and there finds Helen every bit as bewitching as her reputation foretold (“Words to describe her make no sense unless you see her, in which case no words are needed”). She’s also unhappy and willingly goes with Paris back to Troy. The Greeks soon follow. Readers familiar with Homer’s Iliad will know what happens next: coastal raids, battles and 10 years of conflict, during which, as Helen bitterly points out, the Trojans turn from welcoming to blaming her. They also blame Paris, who’s constantly upbraided for his blithe, carefree nature in the midst of war (as Hector puts it, “Who can blame them if they cannot endure the sight of you, so calm and cheerful in the presence of their pain?”). Garnett treats all this familiar subject matter with vivid, gripping freshness. He largely demythologizes the story (apart from Paris’ initial fever-dream of goddesses, Homer’s host of interfering immortals is absent from the book) and, instead, fills it with acute, dramatically convincing psychology. He narrates events from Paris’ point of view, and although the young prince is always feckless and self-absorbed, the reader somehow never hates him—and the book’s other characters are equally and refreshingly complex. Fans of Sarah Franklin’s Daughter of Troy and Marian Zimmer Bradley’s The Firebrand will find this an outstanding addition to the ranks of Trojan War novels.

A lyrical, outstanding modern reshaping of the ancient Homeric epic.

Pub Date: July 1, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 106

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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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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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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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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