DRAKE'S COFFIN

A ZACH COLT ADVENTURE

Six boys embark on an adventure in the Panama jungle, encountering danger, death and loss in Urban’s debut novel. Several years later, they return as men to the scene of the grisly event that has bound them together for life.

In 1596, English adventurer Sir Francis Drake is buried at sea outside Portobelo Harbor, Panama, by his crew—but not before he buried a treasure of gold coins he’d stolen from the Spanish. Four hundred years later, a group of teen boys begin an adventurous hike along the original Camino Real in the Panama Canal Zone and discover the hidden treasure. They are led by their scoutmaster, hydrologist and explorer Robert Medvedic Sr., a World War II vet who is also rumored to have worked with the CIA. The diverse group includes an inept assistant scoutmaster and his marijuana-smoking son; a socially sensitive doctor’s son who is one of the few black American civilians living in the Zone; a high school football quarterback; a smart-mouthed troublemaker; a science-loving “geek”; the son of a career military officer who likes to bully others; and Zach Colt, a likable, level-headed boy who quickly becomes the leader when tragedy befalls the group. Although one might question how easily the boys’ parents release their progeny into the hazardous Panama jungle, Urban’s fast-paced adventure carries the story forward too fast to dwell on such matters. Time and again, the boys narrowly escape mishap, but just when it appears all will be well and the group will return home safely, disaster strikes again. Urban’s descriptions of jungle predators and the events that befall the adventurers are real and intense, indicating that much research was undertaken in the author’s story prep. However, some readers may be uncomfortable with the graphic details involved in the telling of events. The adventure continues in Part Two, as the now-adult scouts return to the site of their tragic boyhood experience to claim the treasure and close a grim chapter in their lives. Again, the tale gains momentum quickly, although at times a few of the men display adolescent behaviors that remind the reader a little too much of the boys they once were. A coming-of-age story and thrilling adventure rolled into one.

 

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: IGTBA Enterprises

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

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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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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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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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