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ANGEL CITY SINGLES

A ponderous examination of spiritual lethargy.

A grief-stricken man attempts to jump-start his life and find love in this novel.

After David Bishop’s decadelong marriage fails, he decides to get a new lease on life by moving from Dallas, Texas, to Los Angeles, California. Both his parents died tragically when he was 9, right after a happy family trip to California, and since then he’s wanted to take up residence in the Golden State. En route, he picks ups a hitchhiker who calls himself Rocco Manelli—he’s a comedian, and that’s his stage name—and the two become fast friends. Rocco invites him to be part of a comedy workshop, and although David is initially reluctant, he finally relents. During his first session, he meets Sarah Fleming, a teacher and talented singer; he’s immediately taken with her, and he confesses his feelings with astonishing—and for her, discomfiting—speed. She’s also wary of pursuing a new relationship because she’s only separated from her estranged husband, Turner, a cocaine-addled lout who’s prone to fits of violence. David has trouble finding work and his meager savings are rapidly disappearing, so he’s forced to leapfrog from one odd job to another. He finally lands work with a company that stages singles events, but that job is imperiled by his sexual dalliance with its owner, Liz Edwards. Meanwhile, David fantasizes about living a life as a poet. Author Cissne (Don’t Be Shy, 2015, etc.) ambitiously endeavors to depict the power of art as an antidote to existential crisis; for example, he portrays David as having long suffered from the loss of his parents, and shows how neither avid reading nor running has provided him with adequate relief. However, the slow, shiftless plot seems to suffer from ennui, just as much as its protagonist does. The prose often arduously grasps for the profound, only to reach the melodramatic instead: “David closed his eyes, visualized himself suspended in a tropical sea of embryonic fluid, the glorious maternal bliss from which all humanity emerges.”

A ponderous examination of spiritual lethargy.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Morgan Road

Review Posted Online: March 8, 2018

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DEVOLUTION

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE NIGHTINGALE

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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