As much fun as Coll has with vacuum cleaners—a truly surprising amount—it's literary humor where she slays.


The wacky world of books and the people who love them, as seen through a week in the life of a Washington, D.C., bookstore.

Recently widowed bookstore owner Sophie Bernstein, 54, is trying to find her footing after the death of her beloved husband and the other disorienting events of 2017 (Charlottesville looms large), but it's not easy. For one thing, almost all the people in her life are her employees and are much younger than her. Comic novelist Coll, herself a longtime bookstore events manager, brackets this winsome midlife picaresque by placing Sophie at two young people's parties. At the opener, the youth have gathered to guzzle some vile but dangerously potent liquor (they chant “Mis…ses…Bern…stein” to get her to take a swig); at the close, they suck down Penumbra Punch at a rooftop solar eclipse party. Along the way, Sophie faces extreme drama of all kinds, from the threat of a protest over the visit of a rapacious British poet blamed for his wife's suicide to having her car towed because her keys have been sucked up by her vacuum cleaner, the fearsome Querk III. Her other vacuum cleaner, a Roomba, is the closest thing she has to a new boyfriend. Meanwhile, the book jokes don't stop coming. The fiction debut of a 25-year-old Parisian-born Afghani Irish woman titled The Girl in Gauzy Blue—of course they can't keep it in stock. A book called The Uncommon Quayle—speculative fiction featuring Vice President Dan Quayle as an undercover narcotics agent—not so much. And literally everyone Sophie meets, including a lawyer threatening suit, wants her input on a book idea. A smelly but prescient tortoise named Kurt Vonnegut Jr. recalls the rabbit of Coll's hilarious previous novel, The Stager (2014). Certain plotlines, such as one about Sophie building out a secret room in the bookstore so she will never have to go home to an empty house, don't seem to go anywhere, but, well, who wants to go anywhere?

As much fun as Coll has with vacuum cleaners—a truly surprising amount—it's literary humor where she slays.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-40023-409-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper Muse

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.


Bring on the fresh-baked gougères and the hydrangea-blue cashmere throws: A classic fictional setting—the grand hotel—gets the Hilderbrand treatment.

The beloved beach novelist’s 28th book is another tour de force, deploying all her usual tricks and tropes and clever points of view, again among them a character from the afterlife and the collective “we” of gossipy island residents. Our ghost is Grace Hadley, a teenage chambermaid who died under suspicious circumstances in a hotel fire in 1922. Grace’s lonely days are over when the historic property is purchased and reopened by a London billionaire. As Xavier Darling tells his general manager, Lizbet Keaton, their goal will be to get five out of five keys from Shelly Carpenter, an undercover hotel blogger who has not awarded top honors to any spot visited so far. A gorgeous remodel, a sterling staff, free treats in the minibar, and—of course, since this is Hilderbrand—an incredible restaurant where a disco ball drops from the ceiling every night at 9 p.m. and the chef is hotter than any dish on the menu are all in play as the first guests come streaming in. Which one is the hard-to-please Ms. Carpenter? Other addictive storylines include a rich kid cleaning rooms to expiate some mysterious, terrible thing he did this past spring, an evil beauty breaking up island marriages (instead of a gun in the drawer, there's a half-used Chanel eye shadow in Pourpre Brun), and the desperate attempts of Lizbet’s ex, who sexted with their wine rep, to win her back. One of the special services Lizbet creates for the guests of the Hotel Nantucket is a “Blue Book” containing all her recommended island itineraries. A real-life version is included as an appendix, giving the complete scoop on where to eat, drink, sunbathe, shop, and stay on the island, plus notes on which Hilderbrand novels happened where. If you’re ready to check out Chicken Box or to try the sandwiches on herb bread that lured the author to become a permanent island resident in 1993, the Elin Hilderbrand Bucket List Weekend really is a thing.

Honestly, who needs Nantucket. It could hardly be more fun than this book.

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-25867-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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