Beautiful language, delightful storytelling and a fully imagined world make this return trip to Oh worth the ride.

AWAY WITH THE FISHES

Award-winning author Siciarz (Left at the Mango Tree, 2013) returns to the fictional island of Oh for a fresh mystery in this witty companion to her debut novel.

When the tropical island of Oh gets quiet, that can’t be good. Oh’s lone newspaperman, Bruce, has no news to report besides the occasional rainbow, until an anonymous personal ad is placed in the newspaper, sending the citizens—including Trevor the baker, Branson the teacher—into a frenzy of speculation. Raoul, the mystery-loving customs agent, wants no part in Oh’s gossip, but when a mysterious message appears on the side of his house, he has no choice but to become involved. A mangled bicycle and a missing woman add to the drama, and the bumbling police officers Arnold and Joshua begin to concoct a case that Oh’s newspaper laps up. When fisherman Madison Fuller is accused of murdering the missing woman, his sister, May Fuller, scrambles to clear his name. High jinks and gossip abound as everyone adds to the story of the crime, and more messages painted on Raoul’s home urge him to investigate what others on Oh are not. He’s led to Mrs. Jaymes, house help to the late Capt. Dagmore. Dagmore’s origin story becomes a novella within a novella, and several chapters pass with Raoul trying to pull pertinent information from Mrs. Jaymes’ memory. If Raoul is frustrated by Mrs. Jaymes’ long tangents, readers will also be irked as the story rambles along, piling more characters from Dagmore’s life on top of the mystery at hand. Yet as Oh prepares for its first courtroom trial, Raoul learns what he needs to know, and with a flourish, he’s able to provide the final piece of the puzzle. The flavor and wit that decorated Oh the first time around are still present in this sequel, with snappy dialogue, well-timed plot twists and Siciarz’s lyrical sentences. Dagmore’s meandering origin story sometimes deters from the immediacy of the mystery, and his multiple names (e.g., Quick, Bowles) can be a bit confusing. The novel’s big reveal isn’t a huge departure from Left At The Mango Tree, as family secrets and heritage again hold the keys to Raoul’s burning questions. Nevertheless, it’s an island tale as charming and whimsical as Siciarz’s first.

Beautiful language, delightful storytelling and a fully imagined world make this return trip to Oh worth the ride.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 369

Publisher: Pink Moon Press

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2014

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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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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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