An endearingly ghoulish fantasy sequel that explores unusual territory.

THE TETHER

From the ELI Chronicles series , Vol. 2

In Ash’s (The One and Only, 2018) fantasy sequel, a vampire heroine defends humanity against a tyrant who’s partially responsible for her existence.

In the year 2029, the bioweapon F8 ran amok, decimating life on Earth. Now it’s 2041, and the vampire Ruby Spencer—whose unique blood allowed her to save humanity in the previous series installment—thrives in Annapolis, Maryland. She and her husband, Clay, work for U.S. President William Unger’s Special Warfare Council and have a 9-year-old daughter named Gabby. Zombies—a result of the mutated ZOM-B virus—have dwindled to controllable numbers, and animal life is on the rebound. One night, a bat enters Ruby and Clay’s bedroom, accompanied by a strange dip in temperature. Afterward, Liora, Queen of Light on the planet Athanasia, makes telepathic contact with Ruby. She explains that Zagan, her home’s King of Darkness, has begun making trips to Earth in various physical forms—including that of a bat. He wants to make humanity the source of blood for his vampire kingdom. However, Zagan doesn’t realize that Ruby is a being called the Tether, who has both his and Liora’s blood flowing through her veins and is potentially “the most powerful vampire in the universe.” Meanwhile, ethically challenged scientist Emory Bradshaw sits in prison, manipulating events and people, including President Unger, to his advantage. In this bold sequel, Ash continues to deliver unexpected elements, such as the crash of a plane without passengers, and a trip to the Eden-like Great Island in New Zealand. To meet the challenge posed by Zagan, Ruby hones new powers of matter manipulation and teleportation. Zagan, who tries to assault Ruby in his castle, is reminiscent of Dracula, and, at one point, he criticizes humanity for “cavalier and wasteful” animal husbandry “with no regard for attaining equilibrium” with the environment. However, despite being 3 million years old, he’s yet to acknowledge that “Intelligence and character are sharper than any dagger,” as Ruby says. The third act requires her to make a heartbreaking sacrifice, although Ash cunningly spares the heroine immortal misery.

An endearingly ghoulish fantasy sequel that explores unusual territory.

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73208-164-2

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2019

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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