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EMPIRE PALADIN

REALM OF THE DEAD

A religious historical fantasy that focuses on an ultimate battle between good and evil.

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A debut historical fantasy that pits God against the devil, and their magic-users against one another. 

In the year 1241, paladins—special warriors with magical abilities in service of the Christian church—are sent out into the world to enact God’s will and uphold his laws. Lord Vhaldrynn Malleus, one of the 12 strongest and high-ranking “primus” paladins, is using his healing powers on a battlefield when he’s informed that his own city has been mysteriously attacked by nearby armies. Vhaldrynn rushes back to his home, only to find a smoking ruin where his house once stood, and the burned corpses of his family. In his grief, he denounces God and his role as a paladin, and vows to get revenge. After promising to destroy the world in his rage, Vhaldrynn meets a mysterious stranger in the forest, whose evil identity quickly becomes apparent. While listening to the whispers of Lucifer, Vhaldrynn learns that his paladin powers didn’t abandon him when he denounced his faith, but are actually stronger than ever—and include the ability to raise an army of the dead. Now he can destroy anyone and anything that dares defy him. It ultimately falls to paladin Lady Camila Chastaine and her two companions to bring peace back to the world. Over the course of this violent fantasy tale, Valdez effectively keeps the action moving along. It’s steeped in religious lore throughout, and there is a complex hierarchy of paladins and church officials—which, as a result, means that there are a fair number of character names for readers to learn. Even so, the novel is a relatively short length for the genre—fewer than 200 pages. Still, despite its brevity, the author does a fair job of organically bringing each player onto the stage, rather than bogging the reader down with unnecessary exposition and wordy introductions.

A religious historical fantasy that focuses on an ultimate battle between good and evil. 

Pub Date: March 8, 2015

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 290

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2019

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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DEVOLUTION

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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