Newcomers to Allen’s work will find this sci-fi-romance to be quite an adventure.

READ REVIEW

UNIVERSAL TIME

A single mom’s life is turned upside down when she encounters a man from outer space in Allen’s (Beaufort 1849, 2011, etc.) wildly imaginative novel.

Cait has a full plate managing her job at an affordable housing foundation in San Francisco and raising two young daughters, and her ex-husband has an annoying habit of dropping off his new baby for her to watch. One day, a strange man who seems furious with her abducts her on the street, and she’s initially terrified. He introduces himself as Atraxis and says that he believes that she’s in possession of something called a “Tamaranth”—and he wants it back. She’s in his spaceship en route to his home planet of Tivolea when he tells her this, so she can’t exactly tell him he’s crazy. She finally convinces herself that she’s having an elaborate dream; in fact, though, she’s participating in formal Tivolean rituals that result in her getting married to Atraxis. Happily, she’s soon returned to her life on Earth, but her new spouse won’t leave her alone. Instead, he moves into an upstairs apartment and becomes a constant presence in her life. Soon, he offers to help teach her girls, who are learning little at their ineffective school, and even provides Cait with a supercomputer to handle the housework and cooking—all while managing his own job as an arbitrator of interplanetary conflicts. Still, Cait resists his charms and efforts to help at every turn. Luckily, she’s able to turn to her ex-sister-in-law, Nancy, for a dose of sanity—that is, until Nancy becomes smitten with Atraxis’ ex-brother-in-law from an altogether different planet and things really start to get complicated. Allen creates an intricately detailed, remarkably inventive universe encompassing alien languages, physiology, and culture,  as well as advanced technologies. She populates this vivid world with characters that are both layered and believable. Some readers may chafe a bit at the somewhat geeky sci-fi humor (“to her you are as strange as the gas cozzili of Franddon”) as well as Cait’s dogged romantic refusal of Atraxis, even though he’s clearly a catch. That said, most will readily gloss over these minor issues to find out what happens next.

Newcomers to Allen’s work will find this sci-fi-romance to be quite an adventure.

Pub Date: March 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0967178431

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Cabbages and Kings Press

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2015

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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Above-average formula fiction, making full display of the author’s strong suits: sense of place, compassion for characters...

TRUE COLORS

Female rivalry is again the main preoccupation of Hannah’s latest Pacific Northwest sob saga (Firefly Lane, 2008, etc.).

At Water’s Edge, the family seat overlooking Hood Canal, Vivi Ann, youngest and prettiest of the Grey sisters and a champion horsewoman, has persuaded embittered patriarch Henry to turn the tumbledown ranch into a Western-style equestrian arena. Eldest sister Winona, a respected lawyer in the nearby village of Oyster Shores, hires taciturn ranch hand Dallas Raintree, a half-Native American. Middle sister Aurora, stay-at-home mother of twins, languishes in a dull marriage. Winona, overweight since adolescence, envies Vivi, whose looks get her everything she wants, especially men. Indeed, Winona’s childhood crush Luke recently proposed to Vivi. Despite Aurora’s urging (her principal role is as sisterly referee), Winona won’t tell Vivi she loves Luke. Yearning for Dallas, Vivi stands up Luke to fall into bed with the enigmatic, tattooed cowboy. Winona snitches to Luke: engagement off. Vivi marries Dallas over Henry’s objections. The love-match triumphs, and Dallas, though scarred by child abuse, is an exemplary father to son Noah. One Christmas Eve, the town floozy is raped and murdered. An eyewitness and forensic evidence incriminate Dallas. Winona refuses to represent him, consigning him to the inept services of a public defender. After a guilty verdict, he’s sentenced to life without parole. A decade later, Winona has reached an uneasy truce with Vivi, who’s still pining for Dallas. Noah is a sullen teen, Aurora a brittle but resigned divorcée. Noah learns about the Seattle Innocence Project. Could modern DNA testing methods exonerate Dallas? Will Aunt Winona redeem herself by reopening the case? The outcome, while predictable, is achieved with more suspense and less sentimental histrionics than usual for Hannah.

Above-average formula fiction, making full display of the author’s strong suits: sense of place, compassion for characters and understanding of family dynamics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-312-36410-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2008

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