This engaging tale conveys a message of unity through vivid characters, plenty of action, and an unusual fantasy setting.

HIDDEN GEMS

QUEST FOR THE GREAT DIAMOND

In this debut children’s novel, a misfit rock girl embarks on an eventful journey to find out why she’s different.

In the village of Gemstone, mineral people and rock folks lead separate lives. Gem, a young girl whose parents are minerals, is born a rock. Tormented at her mineral school, she transfers to Granite Elementary, where she’s happy until the secret of her parentage comes out. Ostracized by the other rock kids, Gem yearns to solve the mystery of her birth and teams up with a trio of other outcasts (Opal, Pyrite, and Obsidian) for a trek through the Jeweled Forest, facing the dangers that lie beyond. They hope to find answers from the long-lost, near-legendary scientist Great Diamond. During their action-packed escapades, the four brave an attack by toothy toxic minerals, encounter a meditating Moonstone and a Tiger’s Eye and her cubs, and cross the poisonous Mercury Lake. They’re kidnapped by rock warriors and attacked by a spike-covered giant made of stibnite. There’s a dragon, too. In the end, what the friends finally learn about themselves and the people of Gemstone will change their lives. Boughazian, a veteran 3D computer animator, has woven many types of minerals and rocks into this appealing fantasy series opener—people made of gray shale, limestone, marble, or topaz; lapis lazuli butterflies; sulfur monkeys; jadeite frogs; malachite moss; and a labradorite dog. (The book includes a glossary, beginning with amethyst and ending with zincite, that features colorful images by debut illustrator Lockwood.) The fantastical worldbuilding, deftly rooted in the familiar (school, soccer, student bonding, and peer conflicts), works surprisingly well. (In the expert, fine-lined drawings that begin each chapter, debut illustrator Sigua renders the characters as typical preteens, albeit with subtle touches suggesting their rock and mineral properties.) Yes, the story’s moral—that similarities are more important than the differences that can divide people—is predictable, but it is well-integrated into the adventure-filled plot.

This engaging tale conveys a message of unity through vivid characters, plenty of action, and an unusual fantasy setting.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 141

Publisher: Great Diamond Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2019

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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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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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