A fun and fast-paced space opera.

Star Racers

A young racer enters a competition to save his planet in this sci-fi debut.

In 3834, the planets of the anarchic Milky Way Galaxy are in constant danger of war and invasion from their neighbors. The only strategy to guarantee planetary safety is to come under the shield of the Coalition Protectors of Peace, and the only way to accomplish that is to finish first in the yearly Grand Battle. The Grand Battle is a race, where pilots from different planets ride their battle jets into a vortex, attempting to avoid its obstacles and each other’s firepower. Sashi Oon, the sponsor of her two-planet system, assumes the responsibility for drafting the racer with the best chance of winning, and guiding him through the multi-tiered competition. Only recently awoken from a coma, and still bearing the scars of a recent invasion of her home worlds by the lava soldiers of Maelae, Sashi feels unsure whether she is equal to the task. Against conventional wisdom, she chooses Rev Arden, a young and untested pilot from Earth with whom she has a past. With the help of a motley group of strivers from across the galaxy, Sashi and Rev must beat the odds, save their home worlds, and defeat the Maelae racer that seems intent on eliminating Rev in the Grand Battle. Felando has created a rich, complex universe that immediately captivates the reader, balancing the stakes of the race against the celebrity of the participants, the politics of various planets, the egos of journalists, and the inescapable slogans of advertisers. The author, a master of slogans himself, creates earwigs that stick in the reader’s head, from the tag line of the race (“Win the race. Save your planet.”) to the Maelae’s terrifying motto (“Raw material, you will die!”). While Felando certainly borrows from other sci-fi works and franchises, the novel manages to feel fresh and compelling, with an incisive wit and an imaginative eye. Accompanied by original chapter illustrations, the book offers a universe to which readers will surely wish to return.

A fun and fast-paced space opera.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9967357-0-4

Page Count: 560

Publisher: McBarron Books

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2016

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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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