A smart romance that will satisfy existing fans and likely bring new ones to the table.

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Fournet’s (Leave a Mark, 2016. etc.) latest romance matches a young mother with a crime novelist in a sweet tale about learning to cope with whatever life throws your way.

Grayson “Gray” Blackwood is a bestselling author suffering from a life-threatening brain tumor that’s rendered him homebound. His younger brother, Baxter, hires nursing student Meredith Ryan to keep an eye on him, and it’s love at first sight—for Gray, at least. He initially keeps his distance, though, and also keeps her in the dark about the gravity of his illness; indeed, Meredith scarcely sees him during the early days of her employment. Once they do meet face to face, she’s undeniably attracted but preoccupied with a chaotic home life that includes her 20-month-old son, Oscar; her ex-boyfriend and Oscar’s deadbeat dad, Jamie McCormick; and Jamie’s parents, who are none too pleased about Meredith living under their roof. (When she became pregnant at 17, her religious parents kicked her out; she reflects on their betrayal often, but it’s never fully resolved.) When Gray has a seizure, his secret is out, and from there, the narrative picks up in intensity until the finish. Meredith is an admirable protagonist—capable, wise beyond her years, and determined to make a good life for herself and her son. Gray is respectful, protective in all the right ways, and has Meredith’s best interests at heart. It’s fun to watch him loosen up over the course of their relationship; he’s initially ashamed of his attraction, particularly given that Meredith is nearly 10 years his junior, but soon he’s cracking jokes to hear her laugh, which he describes as reminiscent of “Mardi Gras doubloons and Saturday mornings.” It’s not so fun, however, to watch Jamie try to tighten his hold on Meredith, and their interactions offer a timely commentary on the complexities of consent and sexual assault. Gray’s eventual medical emergency is predictable, but the book’s grounded characters and honest writing prevent it from reading like melodrama.

A smart romance that will satisfy existing fans and likely bring new ones to the table.

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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

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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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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