Potent stories and strong-willed characters converge to form a well-rounded collection.

3 Tales of Vengeance

This debut thriller, a trio of novellas, features characters who crave some type of retribution and go about achieving it in diverse ways.

Insaf smartly opens his book with a traditional revenge story. In “Vengeance for a Friend,” a narrator called “Man” awakens to three strangers, who’ve apparently gassed him before shooting and beating to death his best friend, Mike. The narrator, a former homeless street fighter whom Mike had taken in, narrowly escapes when the three men set the house afire. He tracks down one of the killers whom he’s dubbed The Smoker (a cigarette perpetually dangling from his lips) and enacts swift and bloody vengeance. The same fate will surely befall the other two, provided he can find them. Revenge isn’t so clearly defined in the remaining two stories. The somewhat reserved “Vengeance for a Life” follows Sam Chance, whose daughter Lucy’s death from leukemia led to his mental collapse. The plot largely consists of Sam’s sessions with psychiatrist Dr. Garrett, who tries to help the suicidal father overcome his guilt, having left his family when he could no longer bear seeing his sickly daughter. The titular vengeance—whose or why—isn’t revealed until later, with a conclusion that, though somber, is surprisingly bittersweet. The final story, “Vengeance for Love,” is both the best and most exhilarating. In it, poker player Striker’s just walked away from a tournament win with a cool $1.6 million. A raspy-voiced anonymous caller, however, wants the cash for himself. He’s kidnapped Dave, Striker’s pal and benefactor, who provided him with seed money for the tourney. The caller likewise knows about Striker’s family, and soon his wife and daughter are in peril as well. Insaf’s prose is straightforward, befitting characters like the narrator in “Friend,” whose single-minded goal is the sole driving force. There’s little humor, but when it does pop up, it’s certainly hard to miss, particularly when Striker calls the violent, menacing kidnapper a “fat turd.” All three stories have laudable endings, but “Love” is a slam-dunk and sure to make most readers peruse the tale again—or possibly the entire book.

Potent stories and strong-willed characters converge to form a well-rounded collection.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 297

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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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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