The book captures well our insidious addiction to social media, but the novel's pace is slowed by morality lessons and a...

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FRIEND ME

Advances in social media technology beg the question “Who’s watching?” So, watch out.

Faubion’s thriller is a timely novel about the risks to privacy inherent in Internet communication; its pornographiclike capabilities to watch and interact from afar; and the social repercussions for a family experiencing the typical economic strain of our times. Melissa Montalvo is a software architect with some seriously disturbing personality traits. The book begins with a murder and her rise in the ranks of Virtual Friend Me, a company that takes avatars to a new level by creating a lifelike image of a “friend” who learns about the user through interaction and becomes more human in the process. Scott Douglas and his wife, Rachel, are distancing themselves through work and marital stress. They each create a “friend” through the website and spend more and more time with their virtual others, ignoring the issues in their life together. Behind the screen is Melissa, intercepting emails and stalking her perfect man, Scott, electronically. Fantasy becomes psychopathic, and Melissa emerges in the real world physically working to rid Scott of Rachel and creating the life she imagines with him, regardless of the murderous events needed to get there. The story is current and captivating but with a purpose: Faubion fills the pages with biblical quotations and Christian teachings.

The book captures well our insidious addiction to social media, but the novel's pace is slowed by morality lessons and a predictable conclusion.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3872-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Howard Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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A bold, fertile work lit by powerful images, often consumed by debate, almost old-school in its feminist commitment.

THE BOOK OF V.

Esther, the Old Testament teenager who reluctantly married a Persian king and saved her people, is connected across the ages to two more contemporary women in a sinuous, thoughtful braid of women’s unceasing struggles for liberty and identity.

Biblical Esther, second-wave feminist Vee, and contemporary mother-of-two Lily are the women whose narrative strands and differing yet sometimes parallel dilemmas are interwoven in Solomon’s (Leaving Lucy Pear, 2016, etc.) questing, unpredictable new novel. All three are grappling—some more dangerously than others—with aspects of male power versus their own self-determination. Esther, selected from 40 virgins to be the second queen—after her predecessor, Vashti, was banished (or worse)—is the strangest. Her magical powers can bring on a shocking physical transformation or reanimate a skeletal bird, yet she is still a prisoner in a gilded cage, mother to an heir, frustrated daughter of an imperiled tribe. Vee, wife of an ambitious senator in 1970s Washington, finds herself a player in a House of Cards–type scenario, pressured toward sexual humiliation by her unscrupulous husband. Lily, in 21st-century Brooklyn, has chosen motherhood over work and is fretting about the costumes for her two daughters to wear at the Purim carnival honoring Esther. Alongside questions of male dominance, issues of sexuality arise often, as do female communities, from Esther’s slave sisters to Vee’s consciousness-raising groups to Lily’s sewing circle. And while layers of overlap continue among the three women's stories—second wives, sewing, humming—so do subtly different individual choices. Finely written and often vividly imagined, this is a cerebral, interior novel devoted to the notion of womanhood as a composite construction made up of myriad stories and influences.

A bold, fertile work lit by powerful images, often consumed by debate, almost old-school in its feminist commitment.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25701-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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