A familiar but entertaining take on the superhero genre.

THE FLYING WOMAN

From the Terrific series , Vol. 1

After a mysterious encounter with a dying woman, an aspiring actress suddenly gains superpowers in Sherrier’s (Earths in Space, 2013, etc.) superhero novel.

Miranda Thomas is a young woman living in Olympus City, with a nascent acting career, overprotective parents, and typical middle-child dynamics with her two sisters. All of this changes, however, when she comes in contact with a mortally wounded woman with electricity-based superpowers who then disappears in front of her; soon, Miranda discovers that she now has powers of flight and super-strength. After a series of heroic actions covered by the media—such as preventing a plane crash (which she accidentally started) and defusing a hostage situation—she assumes the name Ultra Woman and joins two other superheroes, Fantastic Man and Mr. Amazing. Dubbed the Terrific Trio, they start piecing together clues about the origins of their powers, all while facing Olympus City’s first supervillain. Sherrier offers a thrilling origin story in this series starter. In certain aspects, his fast-paced novel feels very much like a comic book, as it embraces some stereotypical aspects of the genre (secret identities, a stark good-versus-evil setup). Nevertheless, the author plays with the form in refreshing ways, as the book pokes fun at superhero clichés in a self-aware fashion. For example, for a good part of the novel, Miranda refuses to wear a cape or tights, insisting on donning “nothing a normal person would refuse to wear in public setting.” Her older sister, Bianca, meanwhile, is depicted as “cringing, questioning, and condemning all at once” Fantastic Man’s over-the-top heroic mannerisms. It’s this deviation from the norm that makes Miranda’s journey shine. At the conclusion, there are still many unanswered questions for subsequent novels to tackle.

A familiar but entertaining take on the superhero genre.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72861-674-2

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2019

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Soft-focus story moves right along with few surprises. This time around, Hannah avoids the soap-opera complications of her...

DISTANT SHORES

Another middle-aged mom in a muddle.

After years of false starts and big hopes, Elizabeth’s ruggedly handsome husband Jack, a former football star, just landed a spot as a sportscaster on national news. He still loves her, even though much younger women are giving him come-hither looks. Heck, he doesn’t want to betray the love of his life after she helped him kick drugs and stuck by him even when he was a struggling has-been. And won’t it seem hypocritical if he fools around with his sexy assistant while he does in-depth reporting on a rape case involving a famous basketball center? Well, he fools around anyway. Elizabeth, nicknamed Birdie, knows nothing of this, but she withdraws from Jack when her hard-drinking, salt-of-the-earth father has a stroke and dies. Now no one will call her “sugar beet” ever again. Time to return home to Tennessee and contend with Anita, the sort-of-evil stepmother so trashy she wears pink puffy slippers all day long. Naturally, it turns out that Anita actually has a heart of gold and knows a few things about Birdie’s dead mother that were hushed up for years. Mom was an artist, just like Birdie, and an old scandal comes to light as Anita unrolls a vibrant canvas that portrays her secret lover. Perhaps, Birdie muses, her mother died of heartbreak, never having followed her true love or developed her talent. Has she, too, compromised everything she holds dear? Hoping to find out, Birdie joins a support group that promises to reconnect confused women with their passion. She and Jack separate, prompting a how-dare-you fit from their grown daughters. Will Birdie fly her empty nest? Will she go back to college for a degree in art? Will her brooding watercolors ever sell?

Soft-focus story moves right along with few surprises. This time around, Hannah avoids the soap-opera complications of her previous tales (Summer Island, 2001, etc.).

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-345-45071-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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LAST ORDERS

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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