An eccentric but extraordinary story about a potentially unsound mind.

INSIDE THE MIND OF MARTIN MUELLER

Luetkemeyer’s (The Book of Chuck, 2009) dreamlike tale follows a prison inmate as he thoroughly examines the nature of existence.

Martin Mueller is serving time at Lime Ridge State Correctional Center. The transgression that led to his confinement isn’t immediately revealed, but his release appears imminent. He was once the busy, billionaire owner of massive conglomerate Mueller Enterprises, but now he spends his days interacting with fellow prisoners, including Crazy Carl and Wilbur, who writes fantastical stories of the supernatural for Martin to read. But Martin also has his own project that he’s working on: He’s “attempting to solve a great mystery,” essentially debating humanity’s origin and purpose—which also entails questioning his own purpose. He visits the cell of inmate John Brown, who mesmerizes Martin by proving that he’d predicted Martin’s arrival that day as well as his topic of conversation. John then recounts his past lives in tales that stretch back thousands of years. Later, Martin’s memories of his business struggles and meeting his wife, Millie, reveal an apparent link between him and John. Martin ultimately learns things about himself that may significantly impact the “real world” to which he’ll soon be returning. Luetkemeyer’s novella packs an impressive amount of content in a concise narrative. From the beginning, it’s clear that Martin’s point of view is unreliable; for example, at one point, he drives a car home and then heads to his cell—so readers will be uncertain where he is or what part of the overall story he’s imagining. The novel subtly incorporates larger themes, including religion (John claims to have encountered figures from the Bible) and race (rich, white Martin gets preferential treatment over poor, African-American inmates). Although a sense of surreality reigns, Luetkemeyer’s prose is full of tangible images, such as a cryptic memo from the warden that discusses “Alternate Religions.” Although the ending does offer resolution, it also sounds an unmistakable note of ambiguity.

An eccentric but extraordinary story about a potentially unsound mind.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bad Roads Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2018

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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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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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