A fast-paced thriller featuring exotic locales and an intriguing cast of characters.

Last Call for Caviar

From the Last Call for Caviar series , Vol. 1

A woman searches for her missing lover on the French Riviera as the world teeters on the brink of chaos in Roen’s (Maya Rising, 2015, etc.) near-future thriller.

Maya Jade, an American residing in the south of France, lives in dangerous times. The year is 2018, and the world as she knows it is quickly disintegrating due to ecological disasters and widespread political corruption. She’s built a successful career and enjoyed glamorous parties among the European jet set, but those days are almost over as the Russian Mafia solidifies its power over Monaco and the French Riviera. When her sister, Leah, invites her to return to the United States and seek safety at the family compound in Oregon, Maya is tempted—but first she must tend to some unfinished business. She had a falling-out with her doctor lover, Julian, but a psychic has predicted that he’ll come back, raising Maya’s hopes for a reunion. Enlisting the help of longtime friend Giovanni, she searches for her lost love throughout the area. Along the way, she uncovers a human-trafficking ring and meets Abdul, a powerful man whose seductive charms may be irresistible. Roen creates an arresting pastiche of apocalyptic fiction and erotic romance that’s anchored by a strong heroine. Its depiction of a futuristic Côte d’Azur on the brink of anarchy is particularly striking; even as questions swirl about a possible Russian takeover, the wealthy continue to party and gamble all night in decadent nightclubs and casinos. Roen also paints a vivid picture of what’s taking place in a future America via the emails that Maya receives. Maya herself is an intriguing, resourceful heroine whose compassionate nature is complemented by Julian’s. Her journals serve as a frame for the story—a clever device that brings a sense of immediacy to her predicament while also allowing for solid character development.

A fast-paced thriller featuring exotic locales and an intriguing cast of characters.

Pub Date: April 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4801-2532-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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Suspenseful, full of incident, and not obviously necessary.

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Atwood goes back to Gilead.

The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), consistently regarded as a masterpiece of 20th-century literature, has gained new attention in recent years with the success of the Hulu series as well as fresh appreciation from readers who feel like this story has new relevance in America’s current political climate. Atwood herself has spoken about how news headlines have made her dystopian fiction seem eerily plausible, and it’s not difficult to imagine her wanting to revisit Gilead as the TV show has sped past where her narrative ended. Like the novel that preceded it, this sequel is presented as found documents—first-person accounts of life inside a misogynistic theocracy from three informants. There is Agnes Jemima, a girl who rejects the marriage her family arranges for her but still has faith in God and Gilead. There’s Daisy, who learns on her 16th birthday that her whole life has been a lie. And there's Aunt Lydia, the woman responsible for turning women into Handmaids. This approach gives readers insight into different aspects of life inside and outside Gilead, but it also leads to a book that sometimes feels overstuffed. The Handmaid’s Tale combined exquisite lyricism with a powerful sense of urgency, as if a thoughtful, perceptive woman was racing against time to give witness to her experience. That narrator hinted at more than she said; Atwood seemed to trust readers to fill in the gaps. This dynamic created an atmosphere of intimacy. However curious we might be about Gilead and the resistance operating outside that country, what we learn here is that what Atwood left unsaid in the first novel generated more horror and outrage than explicit detail can. And the more we get to know Agnes, Daisy, and Aunt Lydia, the less convincing they become. It’s hard, of course, to compete with a beloved classic, so maybe the best way to read this new book is to forget about The Handmaid’s Tale and enjoy it as an artful feminist thriller.

Suspenseful, full of incident, and not obviously necessary.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54378-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.


From the The Broken Earth series , Vol. 1

In the first volume of a trilogy, a fresh cataclysm besets a physically unstable world whose ruling society oppresses its most magically powerful inhabitants.

The continent ironically known as the Stillness is riddled with fault lines and volcanoes and periodically suffers from Seasons, civilization-destroying tectonic catastrophes. It’s also occupied by a small population of orogenes, people with the ability to sense and manipulate thermal and kinetic energy. They can quiet earthquakes and quench volcanoes…but also touch them off. While they’re necessary, they’re also feared and frequently lynched. The “lucky” ones are recruited by the Fulcrum, where the brutal training hones their powers in the service of the Empire. The tragic trap of the orogene's life is told through three linked narratives (the link is obvious fairly quickly): Damaya, a fierce, ambitious girl new to the Fulcrum; Syenite, an angry young woman ordered to breed with her bitter and frighteningly powerful mentor and who stumbles across secrets her masters never intended her to know; and Essun, searching for the husband who murdered her young son and ran away with her daughter mere hours before a Season tore a fiery rift across the Stillness. Jemisin (The Shadowed Sun, 2012, etc.) is utterly unflinching; she tackles racial and social politics which have obvious echoes in our own world while chronicling the painfully intimate struggle between the desire to survive at all costs and the need to maintain one’s personal integrity. Beneath the story’s fantastic trappings are incredibly real people who undergo intense, sadly believable pain.

With every new work, Jemisin’s ability to build worlds and break hearts only grows.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-22929-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2016

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