A sweet story about thinking of other’s needs before your own.

THE ARCHANGEL'S GIFT

In this gently fantastical YA novel, an angel visits a girl on Christmas Eve and bestows a unique gift.

Jamie Mayer is a well-meaning 8-year-old girl who desperately wants a laptop for Christmas. Instead, she’s disappointed to receive a wooden angel from her father. After Jamie says she’ll only believe in Christmas if she can witness the Nativity for herself, the angel comes to life in all his cigar-smoking glory. He introduces himself as Gabriel (Gabe to his friends) and offers to grant her wish. The story of a slightly selfish child learning a lesson on Christmas Eve is familiar, as is the character of a gruff but loving angel. Similarly, the numerous pop-culture references become a bit tiring, especially because Morgan seems intent on featuring as many dead celebrities as he can—biblical figures, former U.S. presidents and a certain legendary rock ’n’ roll singer—until a funny idea is stretched too thin to support the gentle humor. However, the story has some impressive touches, including Gabriel’s insistence that Jamie has to really want to go on the journey; her autonomy then lends the story more weight than it would have otherwise had. Also, Jamie’s interactions with shepherds and wise men are emotionally resonant, and the relationship between Jamie and her sister is believable. While terms of derision like “dorkmeister” are used too often, the underlying mix of love and irritation between the two girls feels true while adding a realistic foundation that helps ground the mild fantasy. The family structure as a whole is refreshing: Jamie’s mother is a night nurse whose work demands long hours away from home, while her father’s job (computing in a home office) places him in more of a domestic role. The father’s obsession with celebrating Christmas sets the stage for the yuletide journey, while the mother’s dedication to her work underscores the author’s overall theme of self-sacrifice, which connects the whole family to the story of Jamie’s growing maturity.

A sweet story about thinking of other’s needs before your own. 

Pub Date: May 30, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477205143

Page Count: 150

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2012

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

PROJECT HAIL MARY

Weir’s latest is a page-turning interstellar thrill ride that follows a junior high school teacher–turned–reluctant astronaut at the center of a desperate mission to save humankind from a looming extinction event.

Ryland Grace was a once-promising molecular biologist who wrote a controversial academic paper contesting the assumption that life requires liquid water. Now disgraced, he works as a junior high science teacher in San Francisco. His previous theories, however, make him the perfect researcher for a multinational task force that's trying to understand how and why the sun is suddenly dimming at an alarming rate. A barely detectable line of light that rises from the sun’s north pole and curves toward Venus is inexplicably draining the star of power. According to scientists, an “instant ice age” is all but inevitable within a few decades. All the other stars in proximity to the sun seem to be suffering with the same affliction—except Tau Ceti. An unwilling last-minute replacement as part of a three-person mission heading to Tau Ceti in hopes of finding an answer, Ryland finds himself awakening from an induced coma on the spaceship with two dead crewmates and a spotty memory. With time running out for humankind, he discovers an alien spacecraft in the vicinity of his ship with a strange traveler on a similar quest. Although hard scientific speculation fuels the storyline, the real power lies in the many jaw-dropping plot twists, the relentless tension, and the extraordinary dynamic between Ryland and the alien (whom he nicknames Rocky because of its carapace of oxidized minerals and metallic alloy bones). Readers may find themselves consuming this emotionally intense and thematically profound novel in one stay-up-all-night-until-your-eyes-bleed sitting.

An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13520-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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