This novel, packed with action, intrigue, sexual chemistry, and a lot of archaeological research, gets its series off to a...

Shadows of the Stone Benders

From the The Anlon Cully Chronicles series , Vol. 1

This first volume of a new fantasy series sees a renowned scientist looking into the mysterious death of his archaeologist uncle.

After earning a fortune in the biochemical industry, 42-year-old Anlon Cully is enjoying early retirement on Lake Tahoe, where he spends his days on his yacht and his nights at a local watering hole. There, he’s developed a close friendship with an edgy, young bartender, Eleanor Marie “Pebbles” McCarver. When Anlon’s uncle, the famed archaeologist Devlin Wilson, dies while hiking in the mountains, Anlon travels to Devlin’s home in upstate New York to take care of his affairs. However, Devlin’s colleague Matthew Dobson is convinced that Devlin’s death wasn’t a tragic accident, but murder. When Dobson is also found dead, local detective Jennifer Stevens brings Anlon in for questioning. Anlon soon summons Pebbles to his side, and they dig deep into Devlin’s controversial research regarding a set of artifacts known as the Life Stones. Each of the stones possesses different powers, and they provide evidence that ancient civilizations were actually far more technologically advanced than we are today. It turns out that there are other people who will do whatever it takes to obtain these legendary objects. Anlon, Pebbles, and Jennifer must figure out which of these various nefarious characters is responsible for Devlin’s death, even as Anlon becomes their next target. Debut author Donoghue ably creates three very distinct protagonists in Anlon, Pebbles, and Jennifer. However, the repeated mentions of Pebbles’ stunning looks, and her ability to eat epic amounts of food while remaining supermodel slim, grow tiring. Jennifer’s sharp tongue, quick thinking, and fearless behavior, though, will make her a reader favorite. The archaeology-driven mystery, while difficult to unravel at times, will appeal in equal measures to fans of Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon novels and History’s theory-filled Ancient Aliens TV series. Donoghue leaves enough loose ends hanging to make readers feel compelled to pick up the next volume.

This novel, packed with action, intrigue, sexual chemistry, and a lot of archaeological research, gets its series off to a promising start.

Pub Date: May 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9973164-0-7

Page Count: 316

Publisher: Leaping Leopard Enterprises

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2016

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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