A richly grounded tale of growth and belonging.

SOWER OF STARS

A debut YA novel sees a bereaved teenager return to her hometown and discover her magical heritage.

Sixteen-year-old Emma is half white, half Hispanic. When her mother is murdered, Emma moves from Chicago to New Mexico to live with her estranged father. Emma’s dad is the sheriff of Redención (Redemption), a tiny farming town holding out against corporate land-grabbing. Emma misses her mom, and her feelings toward her dad flit between anger and affection. But Redención feels like home. Many of the people there remember her from when she was a 2-year-old. Moreover, there’s Navaho spirit magic in the town: a star magic that has passed to Emma from her mom. Emma learns from Miss Ruth, a Navajo healer. The teen also has visions and is carried off by spirits. Most important of all, Emma discovers she has the ability to shape and control natural forces. With magic, she could save the town. But she is angry—driven by grief and the need to find her mom’s killer. And she is conflicted—drawn to the local football jock, a boy she’s been warned to stay away from. Can Emma come to terms with her new life or will she and Redención fall? Bedard has an easy prose style, infused with a sense of place. From the moment Emma arrives, Redención comes to life—be it through the rampant snuffling of the local pet pig, Esther; the hushed backdrop of a Roman Catholic upbringing; or the villagers’ occasional utterances in Spanish. These last may prove mildly disorienting for monolingual English speakers yet Emma herself knows more than a little Spanish; for her, the effect is one of being encompassed. The author’s depictions of people are vivid. Emma is a mercurial teen—at times embracing, at times rejecting the changes in her life—and the townsfolk who befriend her are deftly developed. Away from Emma and her circle, this characterization trails off. (The antagonists, for example, are little more than ciphers.) But that merely adds to the sense that Emma shapes her own experiences. The plot, too, moves at her behest, bolstering her as a character. All told, teen readers should approve.

A richly grounded tale of growth and belonging.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2019

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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

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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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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