An enthralling, action-packed novel about a hero’s courageous call to action in the wake of a realistically portrayed attack.

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TIANANMEN ASCENDING

From the The Dragon Proxies series , Vol. 1

In Alan’s debut political thriller, the governments of Iran and China join together to coordinate deadly terrorist actions on American soil.

One Monday morning in Washington, D.C., Navy SEAL sniper Lt. Cmdr. Cam Nite watches six 45-foot recreational vehicles drive onto the Francis Scott Key Memorial Bridge, screech to a halt, and explode in the middle of traffic. The bridge is destroyed, and a stunned Cam has a flashback of his second tour with SEAL teams in Iraq, when he survived a devastating explosion that claimed the lives of 10 Marines and crew members. Back in the present, a series of coordinated suicide bombings across the capital ensues, and Cam jumps into action to rescue civilians and take down terrorists. As the novel progresses, the narrative jumps among Cam; Iranian Deputy Cmdr. Gen. Hossein Hamedani, the orchestrator of the terrorist attacks; the pompous, unnamed president of the United States and his White House associates; and agent Xi Gang of China’s Ministry of State Security. Readers quickly learn that China and Iran conspired in the attacks as a larger conspiracy with the end goal of eliminating the United States’ status as a world leader. Alan delivers a gripping, imaginative, and meticulously researched novel that looks at the what-ifs of modern-day United States foreign relations by drawing on his own lifelong personal enthusiasm for the subject of geopolitics. (In an introduction, he informs readers that, at the age of 8, he sent a letter of protest to Iran’s embassy in response to the Iran Hostage Crisis and was sent back a packet of propaganda, which sparked his interest.) In this novel, he effectively examines how Americans’ fear of terrorism increased after the tragic attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and he uses this awareness to create scenes of riveting, cinematic action and suspense. Overall, this thriller is highly recommended for readers who enjoy cerebral, absorbing narratives about contemporary politics and the devastating potential of global terror.

An enthralling, action-packed novel about a hero’s courageous call to action in the wake of a realistically portrayed attack.

Pub Date: June 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9971167-0-0

Page Count: 444

Publisher: 2nd City Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2017

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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