A wild but safe ride, far away but never too far from home.

FALLING THROUGH BLANKETS OF STARS

A sister and brother find adventure in the land of dreams in this debut middle-grade novel.

Ashlynne and Julian are twins. On the evening of their eventful 10th birthday party, they sneak into their neighbor’s house in search of their cat. Instead, they find two magical blankets: black with blue and white glitter, deep as the night sky. On an impulse, Julian takes the blankets. He and Ashlynne fall asleep, and when they wake they are no longer in the real world; instead they are in Dream, a fantastical realm shaped by all the wondrous fancies of sleep. Ashlynne eventually sees the two blankets "fluttering away" in a strong wind. But Dream itself is in danger. It has been abandoned by its ruler, King Morpheus, and is being encroached upon by creatures from the dread twin realm of Nightmare. Without Morpheus, Dream will be overrun. But if Ashlynne and Julian can’t find and return the blankets to him, Morpheus will be trapped in the real world, just as the siblings will stay stuck in Dream. But all is not lost. With the help of a merry bunch of pirate leprechauns, the twins set out in search of the missing blankets. There is an ethereal quality to Marcotti’s writing, a sense that the plot and its protagonists are being carried along at the whim of dream logic. The action unfolds around them, yet if Ashlynne and Julian remain for the most part observers in their own story, there’s no denying that Dream is somewhere very much worth drifting through. Like Neverland, this place of pure imagination holds a strange and special allure. Its creatures are gloriously fanciful—the leprechauns in particular follow their own quirky rules—and the book’s intended effect overall must be to spark young minds. Certainly, Marcotti conjures a memorable image: Even in the twins’ real world, there is considerable magic to behold in the sight of Mr. Fuzzybottom (the opportunistic and serially offending cat) creeping stealthily up to roost and fall asleep on Uncle Charlie’s head. Fast-moving and easy to read, this gentle tale should present middle-grade readers with an ever shifting panorama of possibilities.

A wild but safe ride, far away but never too far from home.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 155

Publisher: Stone Fox Press

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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DEVOLUTION

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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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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