Rich, lively characters make this epic tale a journey worth taking.

HONOR MUST PREVAIL

SIEGE OF THE RED CLANS

From the Honor Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Kingdoms are thrown into chaos as a prophesized war looms in Spier’s debut fantasy series opener.

In 1564, many people disregard Tyrianna, a reputed Sea Witch, who foretells a “great sundering” and a “great war.” Then an elf from the Elven Kingdom of Valantir also predicts imminent doom as a mysterious fever spreads throughout the land. Meanwhile, King Kazius Auguron of Razadur leads an army primed for battle with surrounding kingdoms. But Kazius may not be the greatest menace they face; the people of Oakthorn, for example, are soon headed toward a possible confrontation with undead creatures, including vampires, ghouls, and zombies. There’s personal turmoil for some characters, as well. Oakthorn’s Honor Guard captain, Conrad Redmane, for one, must go into hiding after someone tries to pin a double murder on him. One of Conrad’s guards, Sgt. Alex Mill, also known as “Alex the Meek,” desperately searches for his kidnapped daughter, Molly. Tyriana’s visions of the great sundering include three champions who’ll need help to battle the impending evil. Indeed, a series of clashes is inevitable, with the kingdoms perpetually endangered by creatures such as dragons, demons, and a savage werewolf. Spier impressively manages a plethora of characters in this titanic novel. Some have similar names (or even the same first one, such as Alex Mill and Alex Redoak of Oakthorn), but the author makes sure that readers are never confused. The large cast does make the book feel more like a collection of subplots than a cohesive tale, particularly as there’s no discernible protagonist. Nevertheless, intriguing mysteries abound, from the identities of “the Bad Wolf” and the leader of the undead, to revelations about certain characters’ relationships to one another. Much of the plot progresses via abundant but sharply focused dialogue, and although the serious narrative is largely devoid of humor, the frequent insults are memorable, such as “bootlicking slime,” “spineless slugs,” and “crotchety old bastard.”

Rich, lively characters make this epic tale a journey worth taking.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5356-0695-0

Page Count: 756

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2019

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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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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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