A romantic fantasy series starter full of intriguing concepts from science and spirituality.

OCEAN'S FIRE

Tucker (Eat, Drink and Remarry, 2011) offers a fantasy about a veterinary intern who’s drawn into her deceased mother’s mystical world.

Before starting her fourth year at Cornell University, aspiring veterinary student Skylar Southmartin loses her mother, Cassie, to cancer. When she visits Massachusetts to square away Cassie’s home, she takes her father Joel’s advice and registers at the nearby Rosen College. There, she’ll intern at its equine program for the year, work on her thesis, and earn credit to graduate from Cornell. Upon arrival, Skylar is swamped by memories of competing in Rosen’s horse shows as a teenager and of her best friend, Argan, who later moved to Greece. She’s shocked to learn that Argan works on the night shift at Rosen and is now—10 years later—a handsome young man. They rekindle their friendship, which soon leads to warm, romantic feelings that feel like destiny. Later, in her mother’s library, she finds the Sanskrit Book of Akasha, which supposedly reveals one’s past and future. Her boss, Ronnie Treadwell, helps her translate small pieces of it. One night, Skylar dreams of a “stunning blond beast” of a man who radiates power and magnetism. Later, she meets Joshua Rider, an attractive and mysterious musician whose seemingly irresistible swagger just might doom her relationship with Argan. In starting a new fantasy trilogy, Tucker effectively uses her protagonist to merge the realms of science (through genetic engineer Joel’s influence) and mysticism (via Cassie’s) as Skyler finds out more about herself, her family, and the world in which she lives. Tucker’s gift for dialogue asserts itself often, as in one of several vivid, erotic scenes, when Skylar is told, “That mask you wear is all prim and appalled, but secretly...in parts you pretend don't exist, you're coming alive.” A larger theme involving the Earth’s “Divine Feminine” cycle, characterized by compassion and healing, explores such concepts as reincarnation, triple-helix DNA, and the secrets of Skylar’s lineage. Some intense, gory moments, however, aren’t for the fainthearted.

A romantic fantasy series starter full of intriguing concepts from science and spirituality.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Spark Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2017

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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