A sweet, often poignant tale of survival that may spur interest in a magnificent species.

Shasta and Her Cubs

THE STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL

Inspired by the years he spent in Canada’s Kananaskis Provincial Park, Robson (The Prophecy, 2014, etc.) crafts an anthropomorphic story of a young grizzly named Shasta and her day-to-day struggles to raise her first litter of cubs.

Written in third-person with a focus on mother Shasta, this story of survival begins when her cubs—Kodiak (a strong male), Koda (a strong female), and Mato (a small, weak male)—are but a few days old. The tale continues into the cubs’ fourth year, when they will set out on their own. Shasta’s memories—such as her reasons for coupling with a majestic male named Ursus—are sprinkled throughout the narrative. Even though the bears are given human personalities, the book is intended for “a more mature nature enthusiast,” writes the author. Indeed, the attribution of human emotions to grizzlies makes the tone feel juvenile at times; for example, “Shasta smiled as she considered her choice of such a good den in which to give birth to her first cubs.” Nevertheless, Robson succeeds in realistically portraying the difficulties of grizzly survival—e.g., little Mato is attacked by an eagle—as well as the triumphs, as when Shasta manages to kill two elk for sustenance during a drought. Survival is paramount, and Shasta is determined to continue her bloodline. The narrative voice flows smoothly, and language is often poetic, as in a vivid description of Shasta’s smallest cub, Mato: “He would likely darken with time, but for now, his fur was the color of the tall blonde stalks of dry meadow grass that covered the ground after the snow melts and before the new green shoots emerged.” In fact, the adult vocabulary—shadows at dusk “had coalesced into the darkness of night”—is sometimes better suited for older teens and adults. A short discussion of basic grizzly behavior follows the story, as do footnotes, a nature glossary, and references for further reading.

A sweet, often poignant tale of survival that may spur interest in a magnificent species.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4602-6955-8

Page Count: 126

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s...

HOME FRONT

 The traumatic homecoming of a wounded warrior.

The daughter of alcoholics who left her orphaned at 17, Jolene “Jo” Zarkades found her first stable family in the military: She’s served over two decades, first in the army, later with the National Guard. A helicopter pilot stationed near Seattle, Jo copes as competently at home, raising two daughters, Betsy and Lulu, while trying to dismiss her husband Michael’s increasing emotional distance. Jo’s mettle is sorely tested when Michael informs her flatly that he no longer loves her. Four-year-old Lulu clamors for attention while preteen Betsy, mean-girl-in-training, dismisses as dweeby her former best friend, Seth, son of Jo’s confidante and fellow pilot, Tami. Amid these challenges comes the ultimate one: Jo and Tami are deployed to Iraq. Michael, with the help of his mother, has to take over the household duties, and he rapidly learns that parenting is much harder than his wife made it look. As Michael prepares to defend a PTSD-afflicted veteran charged with Murder I for killing his wife during a dissociative blackout, he begins to understand what Jolene is facing and to revisit his true feelings for her. When her helicopter is shot down under insurgent fire, Jo rescues Tami from the wreck, but a young crewman is killed. Tami remains in a coma and Jo, whose leg has been amputated, returns home to a difficult rehabilitation on several fronts. Her nightmares in which she relives the crash and other horrors she witnessed, and her pain, have turned Jo into a person her daughters now fear (which in the case of bratty Betsy may not be such a bad thing). Jo can't forgive Michael for his rash words. Worse, she is beginning to remind Michael more and more of his homicide client. Characterization can be cursory: Michael’s earlier callousness, left largely unexplained, undercuts the pathos of his later change of heart. 

Less bleak than the subject matter might warrant—Hannah’s default outlook is sunny—but still, a wrenching depiction of war’s aftermath.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-57720-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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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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