An entertaining mix of high-tech showdowns with believable adolescent friendships and romance.



When something goes wrong at a secret military base, world survival depends on a group of Laser Wars-playing teenagers in this debut YA sci-fi novel.

Blackwoods, Wyoming, is the top-secret site of Briggs Air Force Base and Blackwoods Military Research Facility, the most advanced institution of its kind on Earth. For kids like Ethan Tate, 13, whose parents work at the facility, this means “toys years ahead of their time” and impressively well-equipped games of Laser Wars with fortresses in the woods. Unfortunately, his Team Bravo leader, Gen. Turnbull’s son, Austin, is a bully who enjoys taunting Ethan with his own father’s low status as a janitor. Ethan, a scout, often wishes he could be on Delta Team with pretty Annika Pepper, “the best Laser Wars sniper in Blackwoods for three years running.” When, soon after seventh-grade graduation, nearly everyone in town disappears overnight, only a few kids are left to discover what’s happened and how to fix it: Ethan; his best friend, Caleb Warren (Team Bravo’s engineer); Annika; Austin; and Glenn Vaden (the leader of Delta Team). It seems that robots being experimented on at the facility have achieved sentience, resent their treatment, and become bent on world domination. Using the clues and equipment at their disposal, the five teenagers must fight a lengthy, desperate battle and make a last-ditch attempt to save humankind. In his novel, Peek writes an engaging, exciting story that nicely balances technical details of weaponry and combat with good character development. Ethan shows growing leadership that parallels his deepening relationship with Annika, and Austin displays a new side of himself in the face of adversity. The book is well structured, setting up ideas and skills in early chapters that pay benefits later on. Some of these developments feel predictable in the classic, scrappy-bunch-of-misfits genre (a teenager subtrope), but the kids have genuine skills and Peek adds an original spin with the Laser Wars background. Unfortunately, the ending throws a last-minute curveball that’s under-explained, leaving a note of unresolved confusion.

An entertaining mix of high-tech showdowns with believable adolescent friendships and romance.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7357060-0-9

Page Count: 388

Publisher: Pebbyville Press

Review Posted Online: June 27, 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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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.


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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