A delightful story that shows supernatural beings can be romantic—and also very funny.

MOVING JACK

From the Love Wars series , Vol. 1

Mars’ quirky cross-genre debut is a Romeo-and-Juliet tale with a vampire and an alien who meet when humans rebel against the extraterrestrials on Earth. 

In 2025, an alien species known as the Staraban lands on Earth. With a warning that the planet is mere decades away from death, the Staraban promise to relocate humans to an alternative planet. Humans are understandably wary, and some form the Humans Against Relocation Movement, headquartered in California. HARM’s co-leader Jack Daniels, a hacker/blogger, has been gathering intel on the aliens. She’s also been a vampire for the past five years, although only her friend Aurora “Rory” Espinoza knows this. Hacking the aliens’ computers, Jack ultimately has a confrontation with Tarc, the Alien Relocation Cooperative commander. Like other Staraban, he’s virtually identical to humans, but Jack finds him especially alluring. Neither puts a lot of effort into resisting their mutual attraction, but trouble may lie elsewhere, as earthlings question the true motive of the Vrolan, the aliens who asked the Staraban to relocate humans. An abduction occurs, and the ensuing rescue demands that HARM and ARC work together. Although this prospective series opener gleefully tackles a variety of genres, Mars focuses primarily on comedy. The Staraban, for example, seem particularly fascinated by pizza, and Rory “tortures” an alien captive by stealing his French fries. However, other genres are equally discernible, from erotica (occasional explicit scenes between Jack and Tarc) to romance as their physical intimacy becomes something more. With aliens looking just like humans, some characters are indistinguishable; Jack eventually befriends Jill, who’s essentially the human version of the vampire. But Mars’ witty, dialogue-laden narrative begets standouts like Rory, who’s oddly immune to Jack’s vampiric glamour, and Hal, Jack’s readily available AI that, at some point, takes over Jack’s blog and proves surprisingly narcissistic.

A delightful story that shows supernatural beings can be romantic—and also very funny.

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-951091-01-9

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2020

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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