A gripping, indelible tale of the unrelenting anguish that psychological afflictions cause.


In this novel, a woman’s longtime friend suffers an undiagnosed mental disorder for years, culminating in violence and murder.

Maggie Patterson first meets Cynthia Morgan in 1973 when they become college roommates. The UCLA freshmen are polar opposites—Cynthia is a wealthy conservative; Maggie is a liberal Vietnam War protester. Despite their differences, they grow close in a relationship lasting beyond the university. But Maggie can’t help but notice Cynthia’s sharp changes in mood, oscillating between aloofness and acts of kindness. As adults, Maggie envies both her pal’s marriage to a doctor named Richard and her new role as a mother, while Cynthia’s jealousy of her friend’s budding journalism career borders on resentment. This spurs hateful comments, an early sign of their deteriorating relationship. Both Maggie and Richard suspect Cynthia is mentally ill, as her mother had been bipolar. But Cynthia refuses psychological treatment and only gets worse, accusing Richard of infidelity and threatening to kill him. She even has a gun stashed somewhere, which her loved ones desperately search for. Maggie can’t decide if she should help her close friend or steer clear of her. Unfortunately, it’s just a matter of time before Cynthia erupts. Winders opens with narrator Maggie preparing to testify at Cynthia’s murder trial (“What do you wear when you testify against your best friend as she goes on trial for murder?It’s ridiculous that I’m so anxious over such a minuscule and trivial part of this whole nightmare”). Readers do not know the victim’s identity, which imbues the story with ample suspense as the narrative builds to the fateful day. This reinforces an already riveting tale of a woman’s mental collapse. Cynthia’s story is sad and unnerving; she tragically lost her mother at a young age, but this sympathetic woman turns outright malicious and frightening as the years pass. The author masterfully propels readers through several decades in a grim, well-crafted drama that occasionally teases things to come, like Maggie’s own marriage and someone’s betrayal. Notwithstanding the novel’s persistently somber tone, Maggie’s tireless optimism provides a glimmer of hope—for herself as well as readers.

A gripping, indelible tale of the unrelenting anguish that psychological afflictions cause.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64543-910-3

Page Count: 305

Publisher: Subplot

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.


When a family convenes at their Cape Cod summer home for a wedding, old secrets threaten to ruin everything.

Sarah Danhauser is shocked when her beloved stepdaughter announces her engagement to her boyfriend, Gabe. After all, Ruby’s only 22, and Sarah suspects that their relationship was fast-tracked because of the time they spent together in quarantine during the early days of the pandemic. Sarah’s mother, Veronica, is thrilled, mostly because she longs to have the entire family together for one last celebration before she puts their Cape Cod summer house on the market. But getting to Ruby and Gabe’s wedding might prove more difficult than anyone thought. Sarah can’t figure out why her husband, Eli, has been so distant and distracted ever since Ruby moved home to Park Slope (bringing Gabe with her), and she's afraid he may be having an affair. Veronica is afraid that a long-ago dalliance might come back to bite her. Ruby isn’t sure how to process the conflicting feelings she’s having about her upcoming nuptials. And Sam, Sarah’s twin brother, is a recent widower who’s dealing with some pretty big romantic confusion. As the entire extended family, along with Gabe’s relatives, converges on the summer house, secrets become impossible to keep, and it quickly becomes clear that this might not be the perfect gathering Veronica was envisioning. If they make it to the wedding, will their family survive the aftermath? Weiner creates a story with all the misunderstandings and miscommunications of a screwball comedy or a Shakespeare play (think A Midsummer Night’s Dream). But the surprising, over-the-top actions of the characters are grounded by a realistic and moving look at grief and ambition (particularly for Sarah and Veronica, both of whom give up demanding creative careers early on). At times the flashbacks can slow down the story, but even when the characters are lying, cheating, and hiding from each other, they still seem like a real and loving family.

An alternately farcical and poignant look at family bonds.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3357-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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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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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