A classic plot plus Lauren's trademark snark and steam add up to a winning rom-com full of heart and holiday cheer.

IN A HOLIDAZE

A Christmas wish leads to a Christmas nightmare when one woman gets stuck reliving the holiday season, Groundhog Day style.

Things aren’t going as planned for Maelyn Jones. At the age of 26, she’s living with her mom and stepdad, she’s stuck in a dead-end job, and, perhaps most important, she just had an eggnog-filled holiday hookup with Theo Hollis, her family friend and the brother of her unrequited lifelong crush, Andrew Hollis. Maelyn’s spent years waiting for Andrew to notice her as more than a friend, but now she knows she’s screwed things up for good by kissing his brother. The only thing that’s going perfectly in her life is the lovely Park City cabin where her family, Theo and Andrew’s family, and her parents’ other college friends get together every Christmas. But then, on the last day of their vacation, Theo and Andrew’s parents announce that they’re selling the cabin. On the drive to the airport, Maelyn miserably wishes that she could find out what would make her happy…and suddenly, she’s back on the plane to the cabin, pre-Christmas, about to live the whole week over again. With another (and another and another) chance to make things right, will she be able to finally tell Andrew how she feels and discover real happiness? Lauren—the author team behind The Honey-Don’t List (2020) and countless other romantic comedies—is as reliable as ever with this cheery holiday outing. Down-on-her-luck Maelyn is a likable protagonist, and it’s easy to relate to her desire to fix her life (even if most readers don’t have the benefit of time travel). Her conversations with Andrew are adorably banter-filled, and her relationship with her parents’ friend Benny, an aging, wacky stoner, is sweetly charming.

A classic plot plus Lauren's trademark snark and steam add up to a winning rom-com full of heart and holiday cheer.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982123-94-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Gigantic, strange, exquisite, terrifying, and replete with mystery.

TO PARADISE

A triptych of stories set in 1893, 1993, and 2093 explore the fate of humanity, the essential power and sorrow of love, and the unique doom brought upon itself by the United States.

After the extraordinary reception of Yanagihara's Kirkus Prize–winning second novel, A Little Life (2015), her follow-up could not be more eagerly awaited. While it is nothing like either of her previous novels, it's also unlike anything else you've read (though Cloud Atlas, The House of Mirth, Martin and John, and Robertson Davies' Deptford Trilogy may all cross your mind at various points). More than 700 pages long, the book is composed of three sections, each a distinct narrative, each set in a counterfactual historical iteration of the place we call the United States. The narratives are connected by settings and themes: A house on Washington Square in Greenwich Village is central to each; Hawaii comes up often, most prominently in the second. The same names are used for (very different) characters in each story; almost all are gay and many are married. Even in the Edith Wharton–esque opening story, in which the scion of a wealthy family is caught between an arranged marriage and a reckless affair, both of his possible partners are men. Illness and disability are themes in each, most dramatically in the third, set in a brutally detailed post-pandemic totalitarian dystopia. Here is the single plot connection we could find: In the third part, a character remembers hearing a story with the plot of the first. She mourns the fact that she never did get to hear the end of it: "After all these years I found myself wondering what had happened....I knew it was foolish because they weren't even real people but I thought of them often. I wanted to know what had become of them." You will know just how she feels. But what does it mean that Yanagihara acknowledges this? That is just one of the conundrums sure to provoke years of discussion and theorizing. Another: Given the punch in the gut of utter despair one feels when all the most cherished elements of 19th- and 20th-century lives are unceremoniously swept off the stage when you turn the page to the 21st—why is the book not called To Hell?

Gigantic, strange, exquisite, terrifying, and replete with mystery.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-385-54793-2

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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Fresh and upbeat, though not without flaws.

THE LOVE HYPOTHESIS

An earnest grad student and a faculty member with a bit of a jerkish reputation concoct a fake dating scheme in this nerdy, STEM-filled contemporary romance.

Olive Smith and professor Adam Carlsen first met in the bathroom of Adam's lab. Olive wore expired contact lenses, reducing her eyes to temporary tears, while Adam just needed to dispose of a solution. It's a memory that only one of them has held onto. Now, nearly three years later, Olive is fully committed to her research in pancreatic cancer at Stanford University's biology department. As a faculty member, Adam's reputation precedes him, since he's made many students cry or drop their programs entirely with his bluntness. When Olive needs her best friend, Anh, to think she's dating someone so Anh will feel more comfortable getting involved with Olive's barely-an-ex, Jeremy, she impulsively kisses Adam, who happens to be standing there when Anh walks by. But rumors start to spread, and the one-time kiss morphs into a fake relationship, especially as Adam sees there's a benefit for him. The university is withholding funds for Adam's research out of fear that he'll leave for a better position elsewhere. If he puts down more roots by getting involved with someone, his research funds could be released at the next budgeting meeting in about a month's time. After setting a few ground rules, Adam and Olive agree that come the end of September, they'll part ways, having gotten what they need from their arrangement. Hazelwood has a keen understanding of romance tropes and puts them to good use—in addition to fake dating, Olive and Adam are an opposites-attract pairing with their sunny and grumpy personalities—but there are a couple of weaknesses in this debut novel. Hazelwood manages to sidestep a lot of the complicated power dynamics of a student-faculty romance by putting Olive and Adam in different departments, but the impetus for their fake relationship has much higher stakes for Adam. Olive does reap the benefits of dating a faculty member, but in the end, she's still the one seemingly punished or taunted by her colleagues; readers may have been hoping for a more subversive twist. For a first novel, there's plenty of shine here, with clear signs that Hazelwood feels completely comfortable with happily-ever-afters.

Fresh and upbeat, though not without flaws.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-33682-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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