Sci-fi and fantasy merge to form an entertaining romp in space.

Maz'hura

A military spacecraft captain tries to keep her crew safe while battling pirates, creatures, and an alien race that Holy Scriptures declared eradicated in this sci-fi adventure.

Capt. Shirakaya is ecstatic, having found a protostar that can replenish her sorcery with magical ions. Unfortunately, aliens launch a sudden assault that Shirakaya and the people aboard Celestial narrowly survive. Following the attack, the sorceress starts to feel her magic dwindling. What’s worse is that the aliens appeared to be koth’vurians, a race long ago vanquished, according to religious text. The Ruzurai, rulers of the Tal’manac Order, refuse to believe that Shirakaya witnessed the koth’vurians and send her on another mission. The captain and her crew, including oracle (and Shirakaya’s lover) Jedalia, search for a tourist cruise that’s gone offline, only to uncover a hijacking. Shirakaya’s subsequent shore leave to see her family turns out much the same: she and bodyguard Yarasuro have to rescue her brother Khal’jan from a murderous artificial intelligence. It isn’t long, though, before Shirakaya once again faces off against the koth’vurians, led by the formidable Ashkaratoth. Shirakaya’s predicament, meanwhile, turns dire as her magic continues to weaken. She’s not able to save everyone, and she fears she’s lost so many people that the Ruzurai will soon have her court-martialed. The story delves right into action and rarely lets up. The Celestial crew’s exploits are endless fun, braving monsters from the air and sea, with an emergency touchdown on planet MJ453 and a crash landing on another, unknown world. Shirakaya’s arcane abilities are familiar but chic; she casts icicles and fireballs and uses telekinesis to hurl enemies through the air. There are times when the novel feels like a series of short tales, the captain and others jumping from one misfortune to the next. Centeno (Blood Immortal, 2015, etc.) does, however, tie them together, especially with characters like Xorvaj, a pirate who threatens to kill children in one scene and returns later as a pseudo-ally. The concluding chapter takes the saga on a drastic turn, but it’s a welcome one that puts Shirakaya on the same side as seedy characters and sets the stage for Book 2.

Sci-fi and fantasy merge to form an entertaining romp in space.

Pub Date: April 4, 2019

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2019

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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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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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