A triumphant and entertaining blend of science, religion, and indelible characters.


From the Goddess Rising series , Vol. 2

A doctor uncovers a surprising menace after a family tragedy causes him to lose a portion of his memory in this novel.

Dr. Randy Macklin was at home in Maryland when his wife, Cheri, died after a car accident in Malaysia. As a UNESCO director, she had traveled to Indonesia as part of a tsunami relief effort, but the fatal collision occurred in Kuala Lumpur. Randy is staying with his lifelong friend and business partner, Young Nae Yoon, just outside Kuantan. Alarmingly, Randy can’t remember the four months since Cheri’s funeral, including his 19-year-old daughter, Desiree, falling into a coma from a snakebite. So he sees psychiatrist Dr. Sanantha Mauwad for help. Part of the therapy involves a field trip to where Young Nae says a snake bit Desiree, but Randy and Sanantha discover a discrepancy or two in his story. A friend of Randy’s subsequently explains that a dangerous rival, Lo Cheung, may have targeted those close to Young Nae. Sure enough, unexplained apparent bug bites on Randy’s back may be signs of an elaborate plot, one that threatens him physically every time he has an illuminating flash of memory. Shocking revelations await as Randy gets closer to the truth. Hartlove’s sequel has a discernible spiritual undertone, featuring diverse religious beliefs and characters’ ambiguous dreams that ultimately prove enlightening. Nevertheless, the story’s core is an engrossing mystery, as the villain, who may or may not be Lo Cheung, spearheads a devious scheme both intricate and disturbing. The author sets a persistent momentum courtesy of details gradually revealed rather than saving all the plot twists for the final act. This likewise allows for necessary scientific exposition to unfold periodically without decelerating the narrative. Characters, even the baddies, are dynamic, though a standout is empathetic Sanantha, returning from the first installment.

A triumphant and entertaining blend of science, religion, and indelible characters. (dedication, acknowledgements, author bio)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949139-63-1

Page Count: 261

Publisher: Paper Angel Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2020

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A unique story of transcendent love.


An aimless young musician meets the girl of his dreams only to have his newfound happiness threatened by several inexplicable—and possibly supernatural—events.

The story opens as Leeds Gabriel meets with a detective while his girlfriend, Layla, is restrained in a room one flight above them. Through the interview, readers learn that Leeds was wasting both his time and his musical talent playing backup for a small-town wedding troupe called Garrett’s Band when he spied Layla dancing her heart out to their mediocre music at a wedding. When Leeds approaches Layla, their connection is both instant and intense. A blissful courtship follows, but then Leeds makes the mistake of posting a picture of himself with Layla on social media. A former girlfriend–turned-stalker wastes no time in finding and attacking Layla. Layla spends months recovering in a hospital, and it seems the girl Leeds fell for might be forever changed. Gone is her special spark, her quirkiness, and the connection that had entranced Leeds months before. In a last-ditch effort to save their relationship, he brings Layla back to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. When they get there, though, Leeds meets Willow, another guest, and finds himself drawn to her in spite of himself. As events unfold, it becomes clear that Willow will either be the key to saving Leeds’ relationship with Layla or the catalyst that finally extinguishes the last shreds of their epic romance. Told entirely from Leeds’ point of view, the author’s first foray into paranormal romance does not disappoint. Peppered with elements of mystery, psychological thriller, and contemporary romance, the novel explores questions about how quickly true love can develop, as well as the conflicts that can imperil even the strongest connections. Despite a limited cast of characters and very few setting changes, the narrative manages to remain both fast-paced and engaging. The conclusion leaves a few too many loose ends, but the chemistry between the characters and unexpected twists throughout make for a satisfying read.

A unique story of transcendent love.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0017-8

Page Count: 301

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

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Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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