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THE UNDERGROUNDS

A vibrant, entertaining, and memorable adventure with strong characters.

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In this debut graphic novel, four siblings discover a passage to a number of worlds, precipitating grand escapades and a great deal of peril.

Neil and Kristen Cooper are relocating their family to a new home, a fixer-upper in a seemingly vacant neighborhood. On moving day, young Rob finds a sizable hole in the backyard, which leads to a tunnel that he; his sisters, Lauren, Claire, and Elyse; and the family dog, Cash, enter. Underground, where surprisingly Cash can talk, are doors leading to various worlds. Over the next few days, the siblings explore a desert, a forest, and many other places and even take some items for Neil’s birthday. Unfortunately, pirates who had already claimed the pieces crawl up the backyard hole and kidnap the entire family. Though the Coopers eventually manage to escape, they are almost entirely separated. Kristen sprints through the tunnel with little Elyse in tow; ever loyal Cash helps Rob evade pirates and track down Neil; and Lauren, hiding in a forested world, stumbles on another danger. But Claire winds up in a giant library, where she encounters strange individuals with a unique ability to help her and her family—or severely compound their predicaments. Heetebrij’s diverting tale, most assuredly a series launch, boasts characters with distinctive personalities. Neil, for example, tries to convince himself he’s dreaming during the initial pirate abduction while Elyse, when scared, clings to the closest family member. And Cash turns out to be a scene-stealer; in an argument with Neil, the canine, who occasionally wears a spray collar, suggests: “How about a collar to shut you up?” Though the pirates supply much of the villainy, there are vivid characters throughout, from fairy trolls to a band of knights. Complementing the writing are the striking and animated images by debut illustrator Lareva. But the artwork’s most discernible quality is the color-defined worlds; the blue-gray library, the dark green forest, and the black tunnel with minimal light provide readers with effortless scene transitions as well as visual treats. 

A vibrant, entertaining, and memorable adventure with strong characters.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9903874-0-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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