An entertaining and promising series opener about an appealing human and vampire hybrid.

ASCENSION

From the The Ascension Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A teenage girl with special abilities uncovers disturbing family secrets and a possible conspiracy while spending the summer in New Orleans in this debut novel.

On the surface, Cheyenne Lane appears to be a typical teenager, living with her parents in Winmore, Virginia. Cheyenne and her family, however, are anything but typical. They are Deuxsang, a hybrid of human and vampire. When she turned 13, Cheyenne had her Ascension, a ceremony intended to awaken her vampire nature. The ceremony took an unexpected turn, and now, at 17, she wonders whether she will ever reveal her vampire side or discover her special powers. When her older sister, Kara, and her husband, Thomas, invite her to spend the summer with them in New Orleans, Cheyenne is eager to explore the city. She befriends Anne Lacroix, a fellow Deuxsang, and embarks on a romance with Eli Ashford, a witch. This liaison is strictly forbidden because, according to family lore, witches were responsible for a massacre that nearly destroyed the Deuxsang. When Cheyenne’s cousin, Rove, comes to visit, Thomas’ behavior grows more sinister and controlling, and Cheyenne learns her family may be harboring dark secrets. She becomes locked in a race to learn the truth behind her visit to New Orleans. Rials’ tale is an exciting and fast-paced YA paranormal romance with an intriguing plot, well-drawn settings, and solid character development. The prologue and opening chapters effectively establish the world of the Deuxsang and the peculiar rituals and strict code of conduct that define them. These chapters also offer a glimpse into the expectations Cheyenne’s family has for her and her concerns that she may not become a true Deuxsang. The primary action takes place in New Orleans, and these sections are replete with lively descriptions of the city, especially the thriving culinary and music scenes. Cheyenne is an engaging and resourceful heroine whose budding romance with Eli parallels nicely with her discovery of her vampire nature and should appeal to fans of Twilight. Their love story anchors the novel, the first installment of a series, and sets the stage for the cliffhanger ending.

An entertaining and promising series opener about an appealing human and vampire hybrid. 

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-936426-00-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Aletha Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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