A poetic novel that effectively integrates elements of science fiction, fantasy and drama.

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Night Clouds

In this mystical novel, a girl finds herself torn between her own reality and an alternate world she’s created in her own mind.

This debut novel opens with Martina waking up in the woods, with no memory of what has happened to her. She wanders toward the home of a woman named Ginetta, who tells her about different events from her past. Martina has no recollection of them, and Ginetta seems surprised and disappointed; it’s clear that something odd has happened to Martina’s mind. Over time, Martina begins to have scattered memories—most notably of a child named Edi. Corna’s elegant attention to detail allows readers to immerse themselves in the setting: “[T]he cicadas pushed their singing from bush to bush, far away. Intense flavors came to her nose.” The novel’s second section focuses on Martina’s teenage years in a northern Italian city. Her family situation remains unclear; random friends come in and out of her life, and some are dying from drug abuse. After Martina has a strange reaction from trying some “smoke,” she feels alienated by the local townspeople. These scenes, which initially seem misplaced, offer insight into Martina’s past while spinning a web of confusion, and the author fills them with strong, scenic prose. The third section jumps back further to Martina’s childhood, and reveals the details of Martina’s odd memory problems. As a child, Martina has frequent conversations with animals, which upsets her parents and causes her classmates to see her as strange. As a punishment, her father locks her in a closet for two hours each day; surprisingly, Martina begins to enjoy it, using the time to have vivid dreams that take her to the world of Edi and Ginetta. The final section reveals that her imagination may not be completely fictional, as her dreams and reality collide. The novel keeps readers asking questions throughout, but its fragmented style often means that the puzzles never quite fit back together. However, readers who enjoy introspective, philosophical stories will likely enjoy it.

A poetic novel that effectively integrates elements of science fiction, fantasy and drama.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481146487

Page Count: 228

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2013

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Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

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RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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