Not always easy to follow, but earnest and wholeheartedly entertaining.



In this superhero sci-fi adventure, Minnick’s (Marshal Book II: Superstar the Harbinger, 2011, etc.) lanky, blue-skinned alien hero returns to battle vampires in space and exploding penguins in Greenland.

Marshal and members of the HERO (Heroic Emergency Response Organization) team are sent to Greenland to rescue a research station that lost contact soon after reporting that penguins were attacking. The team, which includes Heather (aka Superstar), who has super strength and speed, verifies the existence of the hostile penguins—of the explosive variety—and also faces polar bears and untrustworthy Eskimos. Before long, the rescue team might need to be rescued itself. The novel is really two stories: HERO in Greenland, and officers viewing a recording of Marshal’s memories to learn what happened to a space station where Marshal was once posted—a station that, along with its 157 residents, was lost. Some of the story feels as if it were written with the assumption that readers are familiar with the two previous books in the series—the origins of HERO and its members aren’t made clear, for instance—but that shouldn’t distract readers from enjoying the taut action scenes, as when Marshal and the station crew combat vampires that can take the form of humans. Minnick wisely keeps his multiple narratives moving, and the stories bounce back and forth quite often; it’s a frenzied approach that largely works. However, with few breaks or indications of a transition, it can sometimes be disorienting: A scene in the snow with HERO member Dauntless is immediately followed by a scene with Marshal and a vampire pinned to a wall. Numerous grammatical and spelling errors are hard to ignore—Eskimo becomes “Eskimoe,” for instance—and characters can be superficial, particularly the women, whose descriptions are almost exclusively physical: e.g., well-endowed, “voluptuous” and in possession of an attention-grabbing “tush.” But Minnick excels in the action/sci-fi genre, dishing solid one-liners—“No one is authorized to die on me today”—fun references to other works (a Gen. Solo makes an appearance), and more than one “Kapow!” straight from 1960s Batman.

Not always easy to follow, but earnest and wholeheartedly entertaining.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2008

ISBN: 978-1477266366

Page Count: 396

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2014

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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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Laymon moves us dazzlingly (and sometimes bewilderingly) from 1964 to 1985 to 2013 and incorporates themes of prejudice,...


A novel within a novel—hilarious, moving and occasionally dizzying.

Citoyen “City” Coldson is a 14-year-old wunderkind when it comes to crafting sentences. In fact, his only rival is his classmate LaVander Peeler. Although the two don’t get along, they’ve qualified to appear on the national finals of the contest "Can You Use That Word in a Sentence," and each is determined to win. Unfortunately, on the nationally televised show, City is given the word “niggardly” and, to say the least, does not provide a “correct, appropriate or dynamic usage” of the word as the rules require. LaVander similarly blows his chance with the word “chitterlings,” so both are humiliated, City the more so since his appearance is available to all on YouTube. This leads to a confrontation with his grandmother, alas for City, “the greatest whupper in the history of Mississippi whuppings.” Meanwhile, the principal at City’s school has given him a book entitled Long Division. When City begins to read this, he discovers that the main character is named City Coldson, and he’s in love with a Shalaya Crump...but this is in 1985, and the contest finals occurred in 2013. (Laymon is nothing if not contemporary.) A girl named Baize Shephard also appears in the novel City is reading, though in 2013, she has mysteriously disappeared a few weeks before City’s humiliation. Laymon cleverly interweaves his narrative threads and connects characters in surprising and seemingly impossible ways.

Laymon moves us dazzlingly (and sometimes bewilderingly) from 1964 to 1985 to 2013 and incorporates themes of prejudice, confusion and love rooted in an emphatically post-Katrina world.

Pub Date: June 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-932841-72-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Bolden/Agate

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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