A heartfelt tale filled with the natural magic that everyone is born to wield.

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A BREATH OF MAGIC

In this debut urban fantasy, a retired professor teaches a pair of young twins about everyday magic.

Nicholas and Gabriella Chase are 9-year-old twins living in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Queens. The children possess unsinkable spirits despite frequent arguments between their parents, Eddie and Jacqueline. Eddie returned from combat in Afghanistan five years ago and suffers from PTSD. Luckily George Thomas, a retired professor who lives in their building, has eased into the role of grandfather to the twins. On their last day of third grade, George walks them to school and tells them to take slow, deep breaths. Doing so brings “a level of peace that they have seldom experienced before.” After school, the trio ambles through the neighborhood, visiting Ali, the fruit seller, and Sal’s restaurant. They also sit on a bench and discuss the themes of kindness and magic, and George reveals that “when people share their open hearts, magic does happen in the simplest way, that powerfully connects us all.” Later, while the children visit the Evergreen Boutique, George stops into the Starlight Gift Shop for a few special items. At home, the twins surprise Jacqueline with roses, and George has an odd encounter before drifting off to sleep. In this sincere novel, DeVenuto presents an all-ages tale to illustrate the benefits of meditation and the healing powers of nature. A lone oak tree in the cement yard of the family's building becomes a talisman for the twins’ burgeoning magical abilities. They aren’t wholly naïve, however, as when Gabriella questions the simplicity of loving with “heart energy” and asserts: “I don’t think it is simple for everyone George, otherwise we would have a more peaceful world.” While DeVenuto’s worthy messages flow from the narrative, a strong editor would have helped with numerous punctuation gaffes, including Nicholas’ statement that “Gabby...you sound just like Mom right now, I’ll see you in a few, and lets out a big yawn.” Still, this book makes an honest plea for readers to immerse themselves in nature and expand their imaginations.

A heartfelt tale filled with the natural magic that everyone is born to wield.

Pub Date: April 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5043-7883-3

Page Count: 328

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2017

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION

Over 50 years after an extraterrestrial microbe wiped out a small Arizona town, something very strange has appeared in the Amazon jungle in Wilson’s follow-up to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

The microparticle's introduction to Earth in 1967 was the disastrous result of an American weapons research program. Before it could be contained, Andromeda killed all but two people in tiny Piedmont, Arizona; during testing after the disaster, AS-1 evolved and escaped into the atmosphere. Project Eternal Vigilance was quickly set up to scan for any possible new outbreaks of Andromeda. Now, an anomaly with “signature peaks” closely resembling the original Andromeda Strain has been spotted in the heart of the Amazon, and a Wildfire Alert is issued. A diverse team is assembled: Nidhi Vedala, an MIT nanotechnology expert born in a Mumbai slum; Harold Odhiambo, a Kenyan xenogeologist; Peng Wu, a Chinese doctor and taikonaut; Sophie Kline, a paraplegic astronaut and nanorobotics expert based on the International Space Station; and, a last-minute addition, roboticist James Stone, son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from The Andromeda Strain. They must journey into the deepest part of the jungle to study and hopefully contain the dire threat that the anomaly seemingly poses to humanity. But the jungle has its own dangers, and it’s not long before distrust and suspicion grip the team. They’ll need to come together to take on what waits for them inside a mysterious structure that may not be of this world. Setting the story over the course of five days, Wilson (Robopocalypse, 2011, etc.) combines the best elements of hard SF novels and techno-thrillers, using recovered video, audio, and interview transcripts to shape the narrative, with his own robotics expertise adding flavor and heft. Despite a bit of acronym overload, this is an atmospheric and often terrifying roller-coaster ride with (literally) sky-high stakes that pays plenty of homage to The Andromeda Strain while also echoing the spirit and mood of Crichton’s other works, such as Jurassic Park and Congo. Add more than a few twists and exciting set pieces (especially in the finale) to the mix, and you’ve got a winner.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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