An appealing series opener that promises more romance and fae intrigue to come.

BETWEEN WORLDS

In this YA fantasy, a dedicated heroine visits a faery realm in search of a missing friend.

Junior year of high school has just ended for Michigan teens Alexis Dearborn and Molly Connolly. One night, they sneak from Alexis’ house to a party in a wealthy neighborhood. Alexis isn’t the partying type, so at the home of rich girl Cassi, she hops in the pool for some alone time. But a spiky-haired boy begins asking her strange questions, like whether or not Molly has any siblings or cousins. After a few days attached at the hip, Alexis and Molly end up at the latter’s home, where the teen has a fight with her mother over borrowing the car. Alexis knows her parents won’t mind if her best friend stays with them until things cool down, so Molly packs a bag. The next morning, Molly is nowhere to be found. Without a note or text to go on, Alexis believes that her friend has been taken. After the police imply that Molly ran away, Alexis hunts for her in the nearby woods. She meets two shape-shifters, a female fox named Jynx and a male wolf named Jaxith, who agree to escort her to Tír na nÓg—the Faery Realm—to search for Molly. Opening a new series, Ridge (The Other Side of the Story, 2018, etc.) uses faery folklore to explore ideas of friendship, loyalty, and self-confidence. When Jaxith agrees to guide and protect Alexis, he also asks that her vibrant red curls be his reward. She readily trades what some might call her finest feature for a chance to find Molly, even if her friend is in the fae world by choice. The ways in which male characters—including Sirius the elf and Keir, prince of the Dark Court—might claim Alexis as a prized consort are by turns foul and alluring. Throughout, the author shows a flair for celebrating fae oddities, as when Alexis sees someone apparently wearing peacock feathers only to realize that they’re growing from the person. Readers should find the narrative well-balanced, with characters and concepts never inundating the plot.

An appealing series opener that promises more romance and fae intrigue to come.

Pub Date: March 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-365-83907-8

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

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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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Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s...

HOME FRONT

 The traumatic homecoming of a wounded warrior.

The daughter of alcoholics who left her orphaned at 17, Jolene “Jo” Zarkades found her first stable family in the military: She’s served over two decades, first in the army, later with the National Guard. A helicopter pilot stationed near Seattle, Jo copes as competently at home, raising two daughters, Betsy and Lulu, while trying to dismiss her husband Michael’s increasing emotional distance. Jo’s mettle is sorely tested when Michael informs her flatly that he no longer loves her. Four-year-old Lulu clamors for attention while preteen Betsy, mean-girl-in-training, dismisses as dweeby her former best friend, Seth, son of Jo’s confidante and fellow pilot, Tami. Amid these challenges comes the ultimate one: Jo and Tami are deployed to Iraq. Michael, with the help of his mother, has to take over the household duties, and he rapidly learns that parenting is much harder than his wife made it look. As Michael prepares to defend a PTSD-afflicted veteran charged with Murder I for killing his wife during a dissociative blackout, he begins to understand what Jolene is facing and to revisit his true feelings for her. When her helicopter is shot down under insurgent fire, Jo rescues Tami from the wreck, but a young crewman is killed. Tami remains in a coma and Jo, whose leg has been amputated, returns home to a difficult rehabilitation on several fronts. Her nightmares in which she relives the crash and other horrors she witnessed, and her pain, have turned Jo into a person her daughters now fear (which in the case of bratty Betsy may not be such a bad thing). Jo can't forgive Michael for his rash words. Worse, she is beginning to remind Michael more and more of his homicide client. Characterization can be cursory: Michael’s earlier callousness, left largely unexplained, undercuts the pathos of his later change of heart. 

Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s aftermath.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-57720-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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