A fresh addition to an enjoyable series.

The Cult of Leo

From the The Zodiac Mysteries series , Vol. 4

Continuation of Freemartin’s (The Currents of Scorpio: The Zodiac Mysteries Book 3, 2014) Zodiac Mystery series featuring the Cuspians, women reviled for having been born on the cusp of two zodiac signs.

After fleeing the pampered, glamorous world of her two adoptive fathers, former perfume designer Nina Solaris is trying to build a new, meaningful life for herself in Fiamma on an Earth-like planet called Astrogea. Zeven, one of her fathers, had discovered Nina and her unusual gift for detecting and identifying odors, then put her to work creating scents; but after seeing the accomplishments of her Cuspian friends, Nina believes hers are empty. Alienated and isolated due to her Cuspian status—in her case, having been born on the cusp between Leo and Virgo (as good a reason as any to discriminate in dystopian 2045 Astrogea)—Nina is attempting to initiate chemical warfare by developing and distributing pheromone tabs which will alter the behaviors—and, seemingly, the astrological signs—of those who consume them: “Nina smiled and wondered how the brash and haughty Aries would feel when strangers started thinking of her as a water sign, when her friends and family looked at her in confusion, ill at ease.” On the brink of the new year, however, additional threats are developing against Fiamma as charismatic Winn Noble’s Cult of Leo infiltrates the fabric of the city. Nina enlists the help of her five Cuspian friends—Vivian, Margo, Jade, Iris, and Brooke—each with her own talents and shortcomings. Even (especially) among her dearest friends, Nina’s old feelings of inadequacy rise to the surface, making her vulnerable to Winn’s charisma. At the same time, she realizes she can’t trust her new ally, Cedric, nor her old and new lovers (Lionel Savage and Luc Windham, respectively). Adding to the expanding conflict is the unpredictable behavior of Cuspians as well as Paragons—astrological purists, who have political sway—resulting from intentional or unintentional consumption of the pheromone tabs Nina herself created. Rather than making a positive contribution to her society’s plight, Nina suspects she is contributing to its downfall. A dizzying number of characters and subplots makes this otherwise straightforward dystopian novel confusing, although probably less so for devotees of the entire series. While Nina and her friends attempt to foil Winn’s ambitions, they leave an intriguing number of unresolved issues to guarantee the perpetuation of the series.

A fresh addition to an enjoyable series.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2015

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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