Another compelling and hugely fun adventure that delivers a thrill ride.

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DIVISIBLE MAN

TEN MAN CREW

When Russian oligarchs try to meddle in American politics, a pilot who can fly invisibly tries to thwart them in this fifth installment of a series.

It’s been almost a year since the small-plane crash that pilot Will Stewart barely survived. It should have killed him—but instead, the accident has left Will with the gift of invisible floating, a phenomenon he calls “the other thing.” Over time, he’s learned more about his gift and how to control his flight with mechanical devices, although he’s still working on propelling himself through thought alone. He’s used the other thing to help his wife, police detective Andrea “Andy” Stewart, solve cases. He’s rescued innocents, intimidated criminal bigshots into better behavior, and—through a still-mysterious process—cured some dying children. Will finally has medical clearance to return to work as a charter pilot for the Essex County Air Service in Wisconsin, but a quiet life isn’t in the cards. Special Agent Lee Donaldson turns up wanting Andy’s help with Josiah James, a racist talk radio host and conspiracy theorist. Since Will last saw Donaldson providing private security for a billionaire criminal, he’s not sure whether the agent can be trusted. But James’ hatemongering played a role in a local tragedy, giving the Stewarts motivation to look into him. Their investigation takes a turn when James is assassinated at a rally by an old man, leading Will and Andy into a complicated maze of conspiracy, the dark net, Cold War spycraft, and Russian interference in United States politics, all while attempting to protect the secret of the other thing. Seaborne (Divisible Man: The Seventh Star, 2019, etc.), a former flight instructor and charter pilot, continues his winning streak in this series, offering another page-turner. By having Will’s knowledge of and control over his powers continue to expand while the questions over how he should best deploy his abilities grow, Seaborne keeps the concept fresh and readers guessing. Information about what actually happened during the crash (which Will can’t remember) has been doled out by the quarter-teaspoonful, which is enticing—and sometimes frustrating. But the thriller nicely thinks through matters like Will’s being the perfect spy: “I don’t speak Russian. Or Arabic. Or any other language. I can’t read the Russian signs that say, ‘This Way To Secret World Takeover Laboratory.’ People don’t sit around chatting about their evil plans.” Meanwhile, Will’s enemies are becoming aware of him and perhaps developing techniques to detect him, which makes the question of how he can protect himself while doing the most good a thorny one. The conspiracy is highly dramatic yet not implausible given today’s political events, and the action sequences are excitingly cinematic. It does seem past time for Will to make some kind of plan instead of reacting to events, giving readers much to anticipate in the next volume.

Another compelling and hugely fun adventure that delivers a thrill ride.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-7336834-2-5

Page Count: 396

Publisher: BookBaby

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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