A gripping family story for those strong enough for the emotional journey.

READ REVIEW

THE MOONSTONERS

From the Moon Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A novel presents a tale of tormented and damaged characters against the backdrop of the turbulent 1960s.

The story revolves—no, churns—around Noël Trudeau, whom readers first meet as a youngster while her family is fleeing north from Hyssop, Louisiana, in the dead of night. Something truly horrible has happened, something that will remain secret for some 200 pages (this is a book of secrets). Then readers find Noël in Langston, Indiana, where she and her toddler son, Adam, have escaped a marriage to a brutal abuser and where young Ricky Ziemny is hopelessly in love with her. She begins timorously to allow the possibility of romance, but it is Ricky’s brother, Leon, whom she falls in love with and marries. The union is tempestuous: The Trudeaus are leery of Leon, the Ziemnys of Noël. Meanwhile—these are just the high (or low) points—her oldest brother is killed in Vietnam and her younger brother, Adam, who dreamed of becoming a surgeon, returns minus an arm. There are suicides, a mental breakdown, and screaming confrontations (especially as the long-held secrets come spilling out). An apothegm from Pascal sets the tone: “When one does not love too much, one does not love enough.” This sets the stage for Noël’s final musing on two kinds of love: “The love you could live with, and the love you couldn’t live without.” Given these truths, the characters are whipsawed big-time. Dzikowski (Searching for Lincoln’s Ghost, 2011) is a passionate writer and her background in counseling has likely contributed much to her prose and outlook. But one needn’t be a Pollyanna to sometimes shout: “Enough already! Enough trauma, enough heartbreak!” On the other hand, one cannot deny the real power of the book. Readers will be drawn into caring deeply about these terribly tortured characters and bracing for the next inevitable tragic turn. This is the first volume of a trilogy; may the sequels bring a measure of relief.

A gripping family story for those strong enough for the emotional journey.

Pub Date: July 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9840305-3-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wiara Books

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2019

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Print the bumper sticker—"I'd Rather Be Living in an Elin Hilderbrand Novel."

WHAT HAPPENS IN PARADISE

Back to St. John with the Steele family, whose tragic loss and horrifying discovery have yielded an exciting new life.

In Winter in Paradise (2018), Hilderbrand introduced Midwestern magazine editor Irene Steele and her adult sons, Baker and Cash, then swept them off to the island of St. John after paterfamilias Russell Steele was killed in a helicopter crash with his secret mistress, leaving a preteen love child and a spectacular villa. While the first volume left a lot up in the air about Russell’s dubious business dealings and the manner of his death, this installment fills in many of the blanks. All three Steeles made new friends during their unexpected visit to the island in January, and now that’s resulted in job offers for Irene and Cash and the promise of new love for single dad Baker. Why not move to St. John and into the empty villa? Mother, sons, and grandson do just that. Both the dead mistress’s diary and a cadre of FBI agents begin to provide answers to the questions left dangling in Volume 1, and romantic prospects unfold for all three Steeles. Nevertheless, as a wise person once said, shit happens, combusting the family’s prospects and leading to a cliffhanger ending. On the way, there will be luscious island atmosphere, cute sundresses, frozen drinks, “slender baguette sandwiches with duck, arugula and fig jam,” lemongrass sugar cookies, and numerous bottles of both Krug and Dom Pérignon, the latter served by a wiseass who offers one of his trademark tasting notes: “This storied bubbly has notes of Canadian pennies, your dad’s Members Only jacket, and…‘We Are Never, Ever, Ever Getting Back Together.’ ” You'll be counting the days until you can return to the Virgin Islands with these characters in the concluding volume of the trilogy.

Print the bumper sticker—"I'd Rather Be Living in an Elin Hilderbrand Novel."

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-43557-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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More of a detour than a natural progression for the author, whose fans will nevertheless find this as engaging as it is...

SLEEP DONATION

A NOVELLA

One of America’s finest fiction writers returns with an audaciously allegorical novella about sleep deprivation in an age of sensory overload.

As a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the author of a critically acclaimed novel (Vampires in the Lemon Grove, 2013, etc.) and two story collections, Russell seems to be having some fun here, using the novella form and e-book format to put creative ingenuity to Orwellian use. The year is sometime in the near future, when the omnipresence of communication and connecting devices, the 24-hour news cycle and other sources of overstimulation have turned insomnia into an epidemic, even a plague. Sleep donors (like blood or plasma donors) can be a godsend for those suffering, particularly if those donors sleep undisturbed, without nightmares, like a baby. In this novella, Baby A is the ultimate donor, the silver bullet, the one whose sleep has universal benefits. (Other donors need to be more closely matched, as with blood types.) Our narrator, Trish, has recruited Baby A through the child’s parents and effectively sells the donor program to them by invoking the death of her own sister due to sleep deprivation. But the demands on Baby A eventually frustrate her father—a more reluctant participant than his wife—and he feels more concerned with what Baby A might suffer than with the benefits for society at large. At the other extreme from Baby A is Donor Y, whose nightmare-infected donation (an act of terrorism? an accident?) ultimately causes an international crisis, with many preferring the suicide of sleeplessness to a sleep that returns them to this nightmare. As the plot progresses, Trish feels that both she and Baby A have perhaps been equally exploited. Those who appreciate Russell’s literary alchemy might find this a little too close to science fiction, but it serves as a parable on a number of levels for a world that is recognizably our own.

More of a detour than a natural progression for the author, whose fans will nevertheless find this as engaging as it is provocative.

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-937894-28-3

Page Count: 101

Publisher: Atavist Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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