Exuberant and entertaining, slyly avoiding camp with plausible, albeit superpower-infused, characters.

THE FORGOTTEN FEDERATION

A scientist assembles a second-generation group of superheroes to battle a global government bent on dominating humanity in Fiction Factory Incorporated’s debut sci-fi tale.

Dr. Andre Hudson’s ashamed of the work he’s done for President Ophelia Keating. After orchestrating the merging of world governments into one, known as Parliament, Keating instigated a way to regulate birthrate via the Human Reproductive Vector, which Hudson helped develop. HRV-EST (appropriately pronounced “harvest”) essentially peddles embryos, favoring the wealthy with perfect, genetically engineered children. Now a professor at Harland University, Hudson takes pride in his part of the Federation, superheroes who protected humans from alien ruler Goliaric of planet Xenoe, thwarting his plan to rule Earth. Hudson’s the only one left, and the only one without powers, but he sees hope in a TV report on teen Ellen Braxton, who allegedly killed someone using electricity she generated. Others crop up, like speedster Damian Gunner, with superpowers very similar to the original Federation members. Keating notices them too, and to be on the safe side, she sends twins Snitch and Scoundrel, Xenozians thought to have evacuated Earth long ago, to kill Ellen and the rest. The president fears new superheroes will put a damper on her devious plot, which is to avoid any uprising from citizens by, quite simply, eradicating the poor ones. Like all good superhero yarns, the author’s novel first lays the groundwork with a convincing plot and characters. Ellen, for one, is tormented by her mother’s sleazy boyfriend, Eddie, while the haunted Hudson is shrouded in mystery. The story has fun with genre fans’ expectations: David Porter’s power is initially unknown, and one character suggests fresh superhero names (rather than adopting old ones) and costume redesigns. Dialogue does tend to be interchangeable: nearly everyone says “dude” at some point, and even reptilian alien Snitch throws in an “awesome.” But the exhilarating adventure rarely falters: powers on display, beaucoup showdowns with formidable baddies, and an ending that promises further adventures for its superheroes—and maybe a few more villains.

Exuberant and entertaining, slyly avoiding camp with plausible, albeit superpower-infused, characters.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5351-7178-6

Page Count: 360

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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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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