A fast-paced, richly imagined, gritty tale of modern-day good versus evil.

THE FERRYMAN’S TOLL

AN HOURGLASS NOVEL

This sequel focuses on a hapless civilian caught up in a paranormal agency.

James’ first Hourglass novel introduced readers to ordinary guy and aspiring comic book artist Clyde Williams and his friend Kevin Carpenter. The two hang out regularly despite Kev being dead. The fact that the pals commune so easily brings them to the attention of the clandestine paranormal agency known as Hourglass. They’re both brought onboard as operatives, working alongside agents both lethally trained and superpowered. This new installment of their adventures features the same fevered pitch of pulp prose that made the first book so enjoyable: “A few cautious steps later and Clyde understood why the hub guards were so utterly oblivious to the two intruders marching down on them. They were not bored. They were dead. Grey skinned and white-eyed, blood still dripping from the puddles in their seats.” Robert E. Howard fans will recognize the tone instantly. Like James’ series opener, the sequel centers on the secret war Hourglass is waging against the evil Cairnwood Society, Citadel Security Solutions, and CSS’s dapper, diabolical middle manager, Edward Talbot. Added to the mix is the requisite fantasy “Master,” an evil, nonhuman entity named Charon, and its machinations further complicate an already very pleasingly complex plot. The baleful Eye of Charon lurks in the background of the tale’s expanded action, watching over plot threads and characters (the most memorable of whom eerily earns her name “Doll Face”) that range far afield from Clyde and Kev.

The sheer zest of the storytelling here is infectious. James has mastered the knack of meshing the fast-paced lingo of paramilitary thrillers with the colorful worldbuilding of urban fantasy. It’s the same combination found in books like Larry Correia’s popular Monster Hunter series and the novels of Simon Green, and it works to extremely readable effect in these pages as Clyde, Kev, and their Hourglass allies continue to face off against Cairnwood and its minions. This is the kind of SF/fantasy where internet encryptions and Glock 19s show up right alongside hexes and undead monsters (sometimes merging, as in “low-grade demonic radiation” and the like). Virtually all of the players in some way live on the borderline between those two realities. “Being a practical man, one of sound reasoning, science, and logic,” one such character thinks while standing in the middle of a literally haunted dungeon, he “never used to believe in fluffy matters such as souls and dark forces, but now, every time he shivered down in this dank hellhole he couldn’t help but wonder if it was the cause of ghosts brushing his shoulder.” This and similar passages highlight the volume’s only recurrent flaw: the author’s tendency to get tangled up in his own verbiage. But this defect is minor compared to the story’s many strengths: the sharply drawn characters, the frequency with which the jokes land, and, most of all, the roller-coaster pacing, which keeps the whole supernatural business hurtling to a gripping conclusion. Fans of urban fantasy should jump on this series at its beginning.

A fast-paced, richly imagined, gritty tale of modern-day good versus evil.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2022

ISBN: 979-8-4107-3486-8

Page Count: 327

Publisher: Independently Published

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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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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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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