While some points remain obvious, this tale provides a remarkable look at interplanetary relations.

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JUNGLE BEAUTY GODDESSES

AQUATIC BALL

This second installment of an SF series focuses on alien sisters.

The story begins with a bleak portrait of Dr. Peter L. Roy, a once-respected paleontologist who has since come to ruin. In the first volume of this series, Roy came into contact with the Jungle Beauty Goddesses, a group of sisters from the far-off planet of Ventopia. Roy made a great deal of money from these beauties, though those days are over. As their name would indicate, the Goddesses are more like mythical beings than your average extraterrestrials. Their father is a powerful figure of creation named Dematter, and he gave the girls Earth as a birthday present. The sisters were tasked with caring for the fledgling planet. In Book 2, things on Earth are not exactly going well. For one, much of Earth’s landscape is sinking into the seas. Dematter sends the girls back to the planet to bury the bones of their dead sibling, Afar. They must do this “to prevent a galactic planetary catastrophe that could possibly destroy several galaxies.” To make matters more complicated, one of the girls who had been raped during the group’s previous visit to Earth is now pregnant. Will the mission succeed even if the Goddesses have to ask Roy for help? Sturges’ (Jungle Beauty Goddesses: Pretty Blue Ball, 2019, etc.) whimsical novel offers different narrators, a society of mermaids who live under the sea, and even some hot and heavy lovemaking. The last is the case when Dematter, while with his wife, “feels his manhood knocking at the gate of her lady garden.” Such a mix delivers a refreshingly unusual voice that is far less stuffy than one might imagine for a tale about the creating and unmaking of worlds. But the insights from some characters can be banal. As Qattara, one of the sisters, explains to readers: “Unfortunately, my sisters and I have possibly screwed things up beyond repair.” While Qattara’s observation may be accurate, it could easily have been inferred from the text. Yet in the end, the story keeps moving briskly, and the plight of these odd, semimythical aliens proves a memorable experience.    

While some points remain obvious, this tale provides a remarkable look at interplanetary relations.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9889723-0-8

Page Count: 115

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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