A breezy, charming novel that finds humor in the societal pressures to find a husband.

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HONEYMOON ALONE

A woman fakes her way through a London vacation in Macaulay’s comedic debut novel.

Third grade teacher Lucy Gray does not have much time for a love life, but everyone in her family has been getting married recently, and she can’t stand to attend her sister’s wedding alone. She begs a co-worker to come and pretend to be her boyfriend, but he ends up making out with her cousin in the photo booth—a fact that everyone discovers just as Lucy is giving her maid of honor speech. Afterward, the wedding psychic (it’s an ’80s-themed wedding) tells Lucy she needs to start listening to signs from the universe. It turns out that her sister, the indecisive Marian, booked two Christmastime honeymoons, and after she and her husband leave on their cruise to the islands of Greece, Lucy realizes there’s an unused hotel suite sitting in London. “I just happened to hear a message from someone in London because Marian happened to forget to cancel her reservation – something she’d never do in a million years,” thinks Lucy. “If this isn’t some kind of sign, then….” The only problem is that, while staying at the honeymooners-only Chaizer London, she’ll have to pretend to be Marian…and keep making excuses for why her new husband isn’t with it her. While reconnecting with an old classmate who happens to be in town, Lucy finally begins to feel a bit of freedom. Cary Stewart is an actor—a handsome one at that—and he proves amenable to stepping into the role of temporary husband. However, as her ruse attracts the attention of overzealous hotel employee Oliver Burke and her family back in Massachusetts begins to interfere, Lucy’s honeymoon-for-one transforms from a relaxing getaway into an increasingly complicated deception. Macaulay’s prose is smooth and funny, capturing Lucy’s family-related neuroses: “The next day, as I step outside The Chaizer into the morning sunshine, I am sad to report that it still hasn’t rained. Not once. In London. London, a place known for its rain. And Prince William. It’s almost as if my mother called Mother Nature and told her, mother-to-mother, to hold off until I left, just to spite me for embarking on this fool’s mission.” The plot is fairly absurd: Why would any hotel care whether or not its guests were really on their honeymoon? But Macaulay unfurls it in such a pleasant, slightly goofy way that its many contrivances seem forgivable. Lucy is an enjoyable protagonist, and her enthusiasm for the places she visits rubs off on the reader. The supporting characters are likable as well, and Macaulay’s portrayal of Lucy’s cartoonishly overbearing family—mostly in the form of blog posts—is truly anxiety inducing. Readers looking for a lighthearted love story with plenty of London coziness and Christmas cheer can do far worse than Macaulay’s charming vacation story.

A breezy, charming novel that finds humor in the societal pressures to find a husband.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 261

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2019

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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