In a departure from her mystery novels, Baker uses her knowledge of the law to compellingly depict a riveting custody battle.

LEDBETTER STREET

In Baker’s (Death of a Prince, 2013, etc.) novel, Marian Reid is a mother determined to gain custody of her autistic son—40 years later.

Marian has secrets, but until her 40th high school reunion, most of those secrets had stayed hidden. She’s the owner of Reid’s Ritzy Rags, a secondhand clothing store in Galveston, Texas, on Ledbetter Street. The store owners on Ledbetter Street are like a family: Eva, who owns Coffee & More across the street, is Marian’s best friend and confidante. Just as Marian and her high school boyfriend, Bryan Mosley, reconnect, her life gets more complicated. Unbeknownst to Bryan, the reason Marian left town the summer before senior year was to have their baby, Robert. Marian’s mother forced her to give him up for adoption. Later, Robert was discovered to have autism and thrust into foster care. Dorothy, Robert’s foster mother and guardian, allowed Marian to visit Robert and build a relationship with him over the years. The courts deemed Dorothy a good caretaker for Robert, but when she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Marian must enter into her third custody battle for Robert, now 40 years old. Thanks to Marian’s mother, all of Marian’s past struggles are brought to light during the hearing. But Marian, knowing she understands his needs, is determined to get custody of her son. Baker, a judge, draws from her knowledge of the law as she has in her previous novels but this time moves away from the mystery genre. When Marian can’t rely on her mother or even her old boyfriend, she learns she can rely on the people of Ledbetter Street to support and sustain her. Although Marian is caught up in her own courtroom drama, she takes time to help a young battered woman. Baker introduces the many characters of Ledbetter Street, painting a picture of Galveston’s community of artists and business owners as well as the homeless and downtrodden—a welcome layer to the story despite an already full plot. Those many plot threads cause the book to feel a bit bloated, which distracts from its heartwarming message. Still, punchy writing and a colorful cast of characters rescue the novel.

In a departure from her mystery novels, Baker uses her knowledge of the law to compellingly depict a riveting custody battle.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2014

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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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