Although Kowalski (The Innocence Device, 2014, etc.) drives this brief tale toward an inevitable conclusion, it’s still an...

EPIC GAME

A professional poker player gets a surprising legacy from her only friend.

Kat Thomas learned to play poker from an expert: her own father. Although he carefully instructed her on how to read other people, how to bluff, how and when to go all in, and how to win, he lost almost everything of value in his life except for Kat. Since his death, the rule she’s embraced most completely is to play with her head and not her heart. The news of her friend Josie's death throws Kat off her game. Josie’s last wish was for her 10-year-old son, David, to stay with Kat for a month until his father could finish up some business abroad and collect him. Kat is stunned at the prospect of being even a temporary guardian. She knows nothing about children and has less feeling for them, and she’s trying to qualify for a big poker tournament in Vegas with a $1 million prize. As for David, who’s still in shock over losing the only parent he knows, he’s no happier with the arrangement than she is. But it doesn’t take long for the two to crack each other’s defenses. And when David’s father shows up early to collect him, Kat realizes that she may have been playing by the wrong rules all her life.

Although Kowalski (The Innocence Device, 2014, etc.) drives this brief tale toward an inevitable conclusion, it’s still an agreeable journey with a smart, sassy heroine who’s not nearly as tough as she likes to think she is.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1049-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Raven Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

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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With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS

Eleven years ago, he broke her heart. But he doesn’t know why she never forgave him.

Toggling between past and present, two love stories unfold simultaneously. In the first, Macy Sorensen meets and falls in love with the boy next door, Elliot Petropoulos, in the closet of her dad’s vacation home, where they hide out to discuss their favorite books. In the second, Macy is working as a doctor and engaged to a single father, and she hasn’t spoken to Elliot since their breakup. But a chance encounter forces her to confront the truth: what happened to make Macy stop speaking to Elliot? Ultimately, they’re separated not by time or physical remoteness but by emotional distance—Elliot and Macy always kept their relationship casual because they went to different schools. And as a teen, Macy has more to worry about than which girl Elliot is taking to the prom. After losing her mother at a young age, Macy is navigating her teenage years without a female role model, relying on the time-stamped notes her mother left in her father’s care for guidance. In the present day, Macy’s father is dead as well. She throws herself into her work and rarely comes up for air, not even to plan her upcoming wedding. Since Macy is still living with her fiance while grappling with her feelings for Elliot, the flashbacks offer steamy moments, tender revelations, and sweetly awkward confessions while Macy makes peace with her past and decides her future.

With frank language and patient plotting, this gangly teen crush grows into a confident adult love affair.

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-2801-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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