A lively mystery with a touch of spookiness, an intriguing setting, an appealing family dynamic, and an enterprising Latina...

WELCOME TO WASHINGTON, FINA MENDOZA

A girl tries to break the curse of a legendary Demon Cat in this debut middle-grade novel.

Things are going from bad to worse for Fina Mendoza. After losing her mother to a terminal illness, Fina, a 10-year-old Latina, and her older sister, Gabby, moved from California to Washington, D.C., to live with her kind but preoccupied Papa, a first-term U.S. congressman. One afternoon, while in the deserted, history-filled, basement-floor Crypt museum under the Capitol rotunda, Fina hears odd noises; spots a giant, feline-shaped shadow; and catches a “flash of yellow eyes.” A Capitol policewoman informs her that anyone who sees the fabled Demon Cat of Capitol Hill will be cursed with bad luck. Is that why small disasters are piling up? There’s Abuelita’s broken leg; an injury to the dog Fina was hired to walk; a fight-provoking, shattered spaghetti sauce jar; Gabby’s car mishap; and more. Determined to protect her family from anything worse happening, Fina sets out to learn all she can about the Demon Cat and break the curse, even if no one else believes in it. Engaging authenticity is the hallmark of this well-crafted mystery by Felde, an award-winning public radio journalist, prolific playwright (A Patch of Earth, 2014, etc.), and host of the Book Club for Kids podcast. Fina’s first-person view of Washington, especially the colorful, well-informed environs of Capitol Hill, where her father serves on the Rules Committee—and where she spends her time after school until Papa is done working—rings true. So do the three-dimensional characters: Fina, her warm extended family, her busy but caring Papa, and, through the girl’s memories, her vivacious and loving mother. The author deftly wraps Fina’s quest to solve the Demon Cat mystery into the story of family members doing their best to deal with loss in their separate ways, which are grounded in a strong foundation of love and understanding.

A lively mystery with a touch of spookiness, an intriguing setting, an appealing family dynamic, and an enterprising Latina heroine.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68433-223-6

Page Count: 185

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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