A fanciful read that remains loyal to its noble principles.



Book lovers who can change into dogs search for an ancient library in Polo’s follow-up to Retrieved (2012).

Warm and intuitive, Bliss Light is the children’s librarian at the Shipsfeather Public Library in Ohio. She’s also a magical dog-shifter, able to change at will into a sleek white greyhound. In Shipsfeather, she’s joined by a cast of similarly gifted people who fight for knowledge and literacy against power-hungry werewolves. A more immediate problem for Bliss, however, is changing from her dog form back to her human form. Only in the presence of friend and fellow shifter Harry (who’s an English sheepdog/werewolf mix) can she focus enough to change successfully. Harry, sensing that he and Bliss have the potential to be more than friends, joins her on a winding road trip to soothe her spiritual restlessness; they’re also searching for the mythic Library of the Ancients, which supposedly houses manuscripts on the dog-shifters’ origins. In their way are the conniving werewolf lobbyist Sybilla Dinzelbacher Romano and her wolf-shifting goon, Blaze. Besides being Harry’s ex-wife, Sybilla is also the daughter of Sen. Romano, who’s pushing for legislation that will hire more dogcatchers nationwide. While heading west through sacred park sites, can Bliss and Harry stay ahead of the dog snatchers already hunting them? Author Polo does an excellent job organizing the details of her inviting series for new and returning readers. Reformed Harry, after all, had a “role in burning the town’s old Carnegie library,” among other attempts at violence. The werewolves here suffer a madness not limited to urban fantasy—distaste for intellectualism: “The increasing dog population is destroying the fabric of our country,” says Sybilla. Yet Bliss and Harry’s adventure avoids getting bogged down in political parallels. New Age elements, snippets of cleverness—e.g., the “bowser browser, Zoogle”—and dogs in realistic danger find an appealing balance. At its core, the narrative illustrates how some kennels and breeders abuse animals but also how kindness can heal humans and dogs—and maybe even cats.

A fanciful read that remains loyal to its noble principles.

Pub Date: July 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-0985774820

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Blue Merle Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2013

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...


Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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