A collection that delivers a strange and ultimately satisfying ride.

RUNNING WILD NOVELLA ANTHOLOGY

VOLUME 3, BOOK 2

This free-wheeling anthology offers a variety of characters, settings, and genres.

At first glance, the novellas in Book 2 of this third installment of a series seem disparate enough to be deemed eclectic. The six range in length and tone. The collection—edited by Lockwood (Frontal Matter, 2019, etc.) and Kastner (Running Wild Novella Anthology: Volume 3, Book 1, 2019, etc.)—opens with Circuits End by Rasmenia Massoud. The story focuses on a tough-talking painter working a dead-end job at a Colorado circuit factory, trying to make her way in life after breaking up with her longtime boyfriend. Then, readers take a sharp turn into the fantastical with an eerie fairy tale called Doctor Porchiat’s Dream by Frankie Rollins that follows the adventures of a quirky physician in a superstitious town as he chases scientific proof of the soul. That spell is quickly broken by the cutting-edge modernity of Kastner’s Newly Minted Wings: Craig’s List Nikky, which follows a PR maven called Nicole (nicknamed Nikky) who resurrects the careers of desperate Craigslist posters with extravagant stunts. She must reassess her life once her wealthy parents cut her off and she gets the chance to work with one of her idols. Nicole’s privileged world is quickly replaced by the tender contemplation of Kenneth Holt’s The Cups That Hold, about the unlikely connection forged between a black groundskeeper and his white teenage charge during a summer job in 1977. After that, readers must contend with Patrick Breheny’s Like a Human, a futuristic trip featuring a robot called Howie. He believes he can ingratiate himself with humans enough to enjoy a hedonistic lifestyle and one day conquer the world. The energetic collection closes with Ace Boggess’ Somewhat Misunderstood, a satirical, biting thought exercise that considers how readers would respond to the seeming reemergence of Jesus. Taken together, what connects these mostly engaging stories are a sympathy and humor for life’s outcasts—from a down-on-his-luck kid in the ’70s to an overly ambitious robot in the near future. While some of the tales, like Doctor Porchiat’s Dream, make full use of the novella form by deftly exploring the perspectives of various characters, others, such as Newly Minted Wings, feel half formed. Wings ends on a cliffhanger after six chapters of minor character development. Still, the anthology is always entertaining and lives up to its title.

A collection that delivers a strange and ultimately satisfying ride.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947041-40-0

Page Count: 318

Publisher: Running Wild Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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