Quaint snapshots of Southern living does not a novel make.


There’s not enough Southern charm in the world to compensate for the tedium in Dalby’s fourth installment of his Piggly Wiggly series.

Second Creek, Miss., is one of those special small towns that only exist in fiction, in which well-mannered tradition and radicalism are honored equally. In this latest chapter of the saga, Mr. Choppy Dunbar (former owner of the Piggly Wiggly, defunct since the big-box stores arrived out on the interstate) is starting his first term as mayor, and his new wife Gaylie Girl has come up with a plan to revitalize business in the town square—a Christmas Eve performance of the town’s various choirs. The choirs will be perched on the second-story balconies of the square’s historic buildings, a charming scene Gaylie Girl hopes will become a seasonal tradition. The Nitwitts, of which Gaylie Girl is a member, is an organization of senior ladies that get things done, and they are happily handling the arrangements. There are a few dilemmas: Lady Roth insists on singing a solo but is persuaded instead to march the widow’s walk of the courthouse dressed as the star of Bethlehem; one of the town’s black churches refuses to participate; and there is some heated debate as to which choir will perform “O Holy Night.” Everything is going well until a fire destroys half the buildings in the square a week before Christmas. It turns out Gaylie Girl's son may be to blame (he bought and was renovating one of the buildings for an art gallery—a space heater may have started the fire). How will they save the spirit of Christmas? A few subplots wander in and out—Mr. Choppy’s secretary’s baby was born prematurely and is in the NICU; fellow Nitwitt Wittsie is quickly failing from Alzheimer’s; Lady Roth reveals her true colors—but these barely buoy the sinking ship of a plot.

Quaint snapshots of Southern living does not a novel make.     

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-399-15677-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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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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The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.


When tragedy strikes, a mother and daughter forge a new life.

Morgan felt obligated to marry her high school sweetheart, Chris, when she got pregnant with their daughter, Clara. But she secretly got along much better with Chris’ thoughtful best friend, Jonah, who was dating her sister, Jenny. Now her life as a stay-at-home parent has left her feeling empty but not ungrateful for what she has. Jonah and Jenny eventually broke up, but years later they had a one-night stand and Jenny got pregnant with their son, Elijah. Now Jonah is back in town, engaged to Jenny, and working at the local high school as Clara’s teacher. Clara dreams of being an actress and has a crush on Miller, who plans to go to film school, but her father doesn't approve. It doesn’t help that Miller already has a jealous girlfriend who stalks him via text from college. But Clara and Morgan’s home life changes radically when Chris and Jenny are killed in an accident, revealing long-buried secrets and forcing Morgan to reevaluate the life she chose when early motherhood forced her hand. Feeling betrayed by the adults in her life, Clara marches forward, acting both responsible and rebellious as she navigates her teenage years without her father and her aunt, while Jonah and Morgan's relationship evolves in the wake of the accident. Front-loaded with drama, the story leaves plenty of room for the mother and daughter to unpack their feelings and decide what’s next.

The emotions run high, the conversations run deep, and the relationships ebb and flow with grace.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-1642-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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