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GODDESS DAUGHTER

From the Goddess Rising series , Vol. 2

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

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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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HIDDEN PICTURES

It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.

A disturbing household secret has far-reaching consequences in this dark, unusual ghost story.

Mallory Quinn, fresh out of rehab and recovering from a recent tragedy, has taken a job as a nanny for an affluent couple living in the upscale suburb of Spring Brook, New Jersey, when a series of strange events start to make her (and her employers) question her own sanity. Teddy, the precocious and shy 5-year-old boy she's charged with watching, seems to be haunted by a ghost who channels his body to draw pictures that are far too complex and well formed for such a young child. At first, these drawings are rather typical: rabbits, hot air balloons, trees. But then the illustrations take a dark turn, showcasing the details of a gruesome murder; the inclusion of the drawings, which start out as stick figures and grow increasingly more disturbing and sophisticated, brings the reader right into the story. With the help of an attractive young gardener and a psychic neighbor and using only the drawings as clues, Mallory must solve the mystery of the house's grizzly past before it's too late. Rekulak does a great job with character development: Mallory, who narrates in the first person, has an engaging voice; the Maxwells' slightly overbearing parenting style and passive-aggressive quips feel very familiar; and Teddy is so three-dimensional that he sometimes feels like a real child.

It's almost enough to make a person believe in ghosts.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-81934-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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DARK MATTER

Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

A man walks out of a bar and his life becomes a kaleidoscope of altered states in this science-fiction thriller.

Crouch opens on a family in a warm, resonant domestic moment with three well-developed characters. At home in Chicago’s Logan Square, Jason Dessen dices an onion while his wife, Daniela, sips wine and chats on the phone. Their son, Charlie, an appealing 15-year-old, sketches on a pad. Still, an undertone of regret hovers over the couple, a preoccupation with roads not taken, a theme the book will literally explore, in multifarious ways. To start, both Jason and Daniela abandoned careers that might have soared, Jason as a physicist, Daniela as an artist. When Charlie was born, he suffered a major illness. Jason was forced to abandon promising research to teach undergraduates at a small college. Daniela turned from having gallery shows to teaching private art lessons to middle school students. On this bracing October evening, Jason visits a local bar to pay homage to Ryan Holder, a former college roommate who just received a major award for his work in neuroscience, an honor that rankles Jason, who, Ryan says, gave up on his career. Smarting from the comment, Jason suffers “a sucker punch” as he heads home that leaves him “standing on the precipice.” From behind Jason, a man with a “ghost white” face, “red, pursed lips," and "horrifying eyes” points a gun at Jason and forces him to drive an SUV, following preset navigational directions. At their destination, the abductor forces Jason to strip naked, beats him, then leads him into a vast, abandoned power plant. Here, Jason meets men and women who insist they want to help him. Attempting to escape, Jason opens a door that leads him into a series of dark, strange, yet eerily familiar encounters that sometimes strain credibility, especially in the tale's final moments.

Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

Pub Date: July 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-90422-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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