Fresh intelligence, danger, and complexity await sci-fi fans.

AMAZING GRACE

This third volume of a space station series reinvigorates a familiar villain and introduces new allies.

The medical space station Nelson Mandela serves the Union of Solar Systems by repairing and upgrading soldiers who have animal adaptations. After once again halting the deranged plans of Dr. Jeffrey Nestor, Dr. Grace Lord and the handsome, devoted android Bud no doubt deserve room to develop their friendship. Grace’s boss, the indefatigable Dr. Hiro Al-Fadi, believes otherwise and demands that she not encourage Bud’s romantic leanings. Elsewhere on the station, the sentient Plant Thing that’s merged with Dr. Eric Glasgow begins experimenting on its own by creating Little Bud, a humanoid plant capable of walking the corridors and shocking Nelson Mandela’s already colorful denizens. Dr. Mikhail Lewandowski, meanwhile, needs to examine Hiro’s mind for any lingering posthypnotic suggestions of violence from Nestor, creator of mind-link therapy. A more direct threat is the ship Inferno, captained by the suspiciously monikered Danté Alighieri, who wants to dock with the station and bring aboard six crew members suffering from a mysterious virus. And if Grace’s life wasn’t complicated enough, she stumbles across an injured man in stasis named Alexander Grayson Lord. Will she be able to focus on saving lives when an explosion strikes the Nelson Mandela? Sasaki’s (Bud by the Grace of God, 2016, etc.) third installment of the Grace Lord series, with its large and varied cast, hits many of the high notes from the previous volumes. But this time, a series of vicious murders overshadows the scientific aspects of the narrative, creating more of a thriller atmosphere. Plant Thing proves an indelible character through whom the author explores how something or someone’s appearance skews perceptions of the entity’s essential being. The relationship between two tiger-adapted Marines, Capt. Damien Lamont and Cpl. Delia Chase, is bittersweet and grounded by dramatic war visuals (“Black shrapnel and ash were raining down, a dark contrast to the brilliant electric streaks of deadly laser fire”). Though Sasaki revisits numerous motifs, she pumps such joy and energy into her world that it’s impossible to fly past without visiting.

Fresh intelligence, danger, and complexity await sci-fi fans.

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9947905-5-2

Page Count: 511

Publisher: Oddoc Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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