An exciting and fast-paced time-travel fantasy starring an action odd couple.


From the Alias Brains and Brawn series , Vol. 1

A tough guy and a genius embark on a dimension-hopping adventure.

As Salter’s novel opens, all seems peaceful enough. A cheerful group—Breslin “Brex” Herndon, the smartest science nerd in the world; Jack “Jacks” Rigalto, his friend and former bodyguard; and Sara, Jacks’ 6-year-old daughter—is enjoying a day in Manhattan’s Battery Park when a mysterious portal, a schimmerplotz, opens in thin air. Brex and Sara are spiritually drawn to it. By the time the quick connection is broken and Jacks’ friend and daughter are restored to him, they know quite a bit about the portal—and the dystopian world on the other side of it. The two experienced the horror of this grim realm and the dark villainy of a general named Bnindagun, and, unfortunately for them, he’s aware of them in turn. Brex and Jacks are employees of the newly created Cosmic Intelligence Group. Much to Brex’s confusion, his bosses don’t seem interested in following up on what looks like Bnindagun’s elaborate plan to range over different dimensions and diverse time periods. This throws the burden of an investigation squarely on the wisecracking but effective team of Brex and Jacks in a fast-paced plot that reaches out to include Sara; Jacks’ wife, Momma Sara; and her identical twin sister, Tara. Salter adopts a breezy, friendly tone throughout. Even during the story’s frequent and well-managed action sequences and when the plot’s developments are sinister and foreboding, the author maintains a bouncy repartee between his unlikely pair of heroes, always contrasting Brex’s arch intellectual snobbery with Jacks’ rugged directness. As the first volume of an action-adventure series, the book is winningly inviting. The two heroes go from one mishap to another in Bnindagun’s alternate timeline, always with Brex supplying the exposition and Jacks delivering the snappy comebacks. Readers will be eager for more.

An exciting and fast-paced time-travel fantasy starring an action odd couple.

Pub Date: Dec. 22, 2020

ISBN: 979-8-58-604581-2

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Dingbat Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2021

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For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.


The miseries of the Depression and Dust Bowl years shape the destiny of a Texas family.

“Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love. There were times in my journey when I felt as if that penny and the hope it represented were the only things that kept me going.” We meet Elsa Wolcott in Dalhart, Texas, in 1921, on the eve of her 25th birthday, and wind up with her in California in 1936 in a saga of almost unrelieved woe. Despised by her shallow parents and sisters for being sickly and unattractive—“too tall, too thin, too pale, too unsure of herself”—Elsa escapes their cruelty when a single night of abandon leads to pregnancy and forced marriage to the son of Italian immigrant farmers. Though she finds some joy working the land, tending the animals, and learning her way around Mama Rose's kitchen, her marriage is never happy, the pleasures of early motherhood are brief, and soon the disastrous droughts of the 1930s drive all the farmers of the area to despair and starvation. Elsa's search for a better life for her children takes them out west to California, where things turn out to be even worse. While she never overcomes her low self-esteem about her looks, Elsa displays an iron core of character and courage as she faces dust storms, floods, hunger riots, homelessness, poverty, the misery of migrant labor, bigotry, union busting, violent goons, and more. The pedantic aims of the novel are hard to ignore as Hannah embodies her history lesson in what feels like a series of sepia-toned postcards depicting melodramatic scenes and clichéd emotions.

For devoted Hannah fans in search of a good cry.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-2501-7860-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.


An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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