A substantive sequel that strengthens the foundation of its predecessor.

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AMARE

BLOODLINES

Gaines’ (Amare: Bloodstreams, 2016) sequel sees a flurry of new revelations change the dynamic between Amias and his nemesis, Kaden.

Amias is an altéré—a fighter who was born with enhanced strength, stamina, and healing abilities. More than a year ago, his confrontation with rival altéré Kaden, a criminal who kills anyone unwilling to join his organization, led to the deaths of his brother, Blaise; his mentor, Virgil; and his lover, Jasmine. Now, the altéré who fight for good operate from an old cement factory outside London, and along with some human allies (including Mia, Amias’ ex-girlfriend), they number about 200 strong. Their greatest fighter, a woman named Olivia, trains with Amias. His new mentor, John, believes that Amias will be able to take Kaden down; however, the younger man is insecure in his powers. Later, Amias nearly kills one of Kaden’s people,  and John fears that Amias is dangerously obsessed with vengeance. As a result, John places an altéré named Lucas in charge of the next mission to gather intel on Andre, Kaden’s deadliest agent. The six-person surveillance mission, however, goes very wrong, and Amias ends up face-to-face with the man who destroyed his family. Kaden then reveals shocking information about Amias’ parents and sibling—but can the manipulative villain be trusted to tell the truth? In this sequel, Gaines adds to his narrative mythology when a council of altéré leaders from around the world meets in London to decide how to beat Kaden. Action fans will find much to love, including an opening melée at a rock concert and a chase on foot through a restaurant. The hard edge of realpolitik intrudes on the gleeful mayhem during a waterboarding scene. Gaines skillfully executes several twists—sometimes playing upon established events, but occasionally stunning audiences with new revelations. Amias also receives solid advice along the way, such as “You can make a choice to allow what’s happened to overcome you, or you can let it make you stronger.” The finale brings savage closure, but also leaves the door open for further adventures.

A substantive sequel that strengthens the foundation of its predecessor.

Pub Date: March 20, 2019

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 269

Publisher: Troubador Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2019

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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