A bit shallow but always enjoyable.

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Getting Some

Three girlfriends across the pond navigate the roller coaster of sex, love and life in this entertaining chick-lit debut.

If Sex and the City had taken place in London with a trio of spirited black women, it might look something like the adventures of Coco, Chama and Tasha. Three friends from university, they meet for weekly gossip sessions at their favorite bistro, but lately there has been trouble in girlfriend paradise. Chama, now a deeply religious, doting wife, harshly judges her friends. Tasha has devoted herself to a spiritual path of meditation, yoga and her spirit guide, Pam, becoming a whimsical hippie in the process, much to Chama’s and Coco’s chagrin. And Coco, the Louboutin-wearing, Beamer-driving editor of Chocolate magazine, may have ruined her marriage when she was caught hooking up with an old flame. While Coco gets cut off from her wealth, Chama struggles to get her husband sexually interested in her again, and Tasha realizes that her boyfriend, Kerin, is cheating on her. Instead of leaning on each other for help, the women dig themselves into a deeper mess. In order to survive each of the problems they’ve found, Coco, Chama and Tasha discover that they have to drop the attitudes, speak the truth, and show up for one another. It may take a lot of confessions, a few tropical drinks and one late-night heist, but nothing will stop these women from ending up on top. Told in alternating chapters from three points of view with more interior monologue than storytelling, the novel bounces along, delighting in the conversational tone of each woman’s personality. Their voices have built-in asides, breaking the text every few paragraphs, whether it’s Tasha’s meditation chants, Chama’s religious Scriptures or Coco’s sarcastic rebuttals. The asides can be a bit distracting from the plot that’s trying to unfold, yet every chapter works hard to end on a note of suspense. Since the women are drawn as such extreme characters, there’s an air of disbelief that they’d all be such good friends, but the novel rolls forward with a good sense of humor, lots of sex talk and a fair amount of fashion. While it’s not the most original plot, it’s refreshing to see women of color at the forefront of a fun chick-lit novel.

A bit shallow but always enjoyable.

Pub Date: March 31, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 398

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2013

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

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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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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