A contemplative collection of poetry that captures both the pain and pleasure of all kinds of love.

LOVE AT THE END

Stevenson’s slim poetry book explores the exquisite pain of love and loss.

The opening poem, “Je t’aime,” chronicles the peak, and subsequent downfall, of a relationship. Stevenson offers advice like “Stay away / From the amphitheater of fear” in “Being Is So Extensive.” “I Never Suspected” confronts aging and mortality. Nature and the absence of loved ones merge in “The Whiffling Wind.” The speaker’s mother, who died from lung disease, is the subject of “Once Upon a Time My Mother Mattered,” whose narrative takes a strange, incestuous turn. The drama continues in “Mama Cry, No Cry” as a father’s death upends the family dynamic. The author mulls over a missed connection at a train station in Switzerland in “What Was the Name.” A romantic reunion is the focus of “Is It Possible?” In “There’s No Point,” “The wanting of things of sex or power or women” is renounced in favor of the simple pleasure of breathing. When an unequal love becomes unbearable, the speaker “withdrew to the basic grammar of a solitude” in “I Write the Song.” “My Equestrian Event” is a shocking story of rape at a Kentucky racetrack. Stevenson’s descriptions of desire are visceral and unique, “from a beautiful thirst to a yearning mouth” to the way a whisper proclaiming love “slowly scars into a scream.” He weaves nature seamlessly into his poems, describing everything from a “forest of shadows” and “an echo of trees” to “darkness stabbed with stars.” Some of the metaphors miss the mark, however, such as, “The spilled emotional milk flecked with blood / The jar of sexual joy smashed to smithereens.” But other turns of phrase are so gorgeous one must pause to appreciate them: “accept the monstrous / Beauty of just being here.” Stevenson’s writing style is accessible and streamlined and will appeal to many readers regardless of their experience with poetry.

A contemplative collection of poetry that captures both the pain and pleasure of all kinds of love.

Pub Date: July 10, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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

REMINDERS OF HIM

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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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

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THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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