A solid debut layered with flashbacks, eroticism, and emotionally dynamic characters.

Rhiannon's Tale

BOOK ONE OF THE ETERNAL TALES

From the Eternal Tales series

In this romantic fantasy debut, a young woman who can see peoples’ auras learns that she’s part of a larger clan, one a militant cult wants destroyed.

Megan Byrne can see the glowing auras of those around her. In downtown Kansas City, Missouri, she just glimpsed a man with a dark aura drain a young woman’s life force. Megan knows she witnessed the exact same scene 24 years ago, when she lived the life of San Francisco woman Kat Weiss. When Kat killed herself to escape this evil man, her hidden core identity of Rhiannon was reborn as Megan. This time, Rhiannon panics and ends up in the psychiatric ward of St. Michael’s hospital. After a brief stay, she’s picked up by her childhood friend Greg, who knows about her strange ability to push people into making decisions in her favor. Next, Rhiannon decides to visit Kat Weiss’ grave in California. Traveling through Kansas, she attends a lecture by author Zerik Denali, an expert on reincarnation with whom she forms an instant—and sensual—bond. Examining Rhiannon’s aura, Zerik reveals that she is an “aeternan,” one of Those Who Do Not Forget, and has lived many lives. Much later, at Kat’s grave, they encounter Dead Monks belonging to The Guard, a clandestine group focused on eliminating the powerful aeternans. Starting her series, debut author Elder draws readers into a complex hidden society, complete with its own language and sexual mores. Every element of the narrative is densely layered, from Megan’s traumatic childhood (in which she was molested by her stepfather) to the individual powers (called e’drai) of each aeternan. The prose often drifts into potent lyricism: “The universe was a puzzle, woven through with elegant conflicting threads, songs whispered within the heart of potentiality.” Though the opening points toward a thriller, the second half features a Rhiannon who’s comfortable among her extended family. The story’s main theme is that of enlightenment gained through open sexuality, but Elder explores this a bit too long before concluding the chase. A tighter pace would help the sequel.

A solid debut layered with flashbacks, eroticism, and emotionally dynamic characters.

Pub Date: June 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9962074-0-9

Page Count: 420

Publisher: Radical Muse

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2015

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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