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THE RIVEN STARS

A steadily paced and exhilarating espionage tale involving the threat of galactic war.

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In this fifth installment of a sci-fi saga, a 47th-century intelligence agent spies on aliens who may have forged an alliance with a hostile race.

Sirius Kade of Earth Intelligence Services is enjoying his vacation with his girlfriend, Marie, notwithstanding an assassination attempt. The likely culprit behind that effort is Manning Thurlow Ransford III, who chairs a corporation funding the Separatist Movement. The group’s objective is to turn Earth’s colonies into “criminal fiefdoms.” Kade’s EIS controller, Lena Voss, calls him in for a mission, an unusual request from Tau Cetins, an “Observer civilization.” While they’re the nominal leaders overseeing a galactic treaty, they rarely intervene. Fearing a second war instigated by a race known as the Intruders, the Tau Cetins enlist Kade to keep an eye on the Xil, who may be in league with the aggressors. Kade, co-pilot Jase Logan, and engineer Izin Nilva Kren board the Silver Lining and trail a Xil envoy to the planet Valhalla. The trio helps a religious colony fend off attackers, including human Separatists, who are apparently getting chummy with Xils. Kade’s assignment takes him to other planets and star systems, where he encounters various civilizations and races and sets out to foil the Intruders’ secret, diabolical agenda. Though there are instances of blistering action, Renneberg’s (The Mothersea, 2016, etc.) novel is primarily a bracing espionage story. Someone tries both framing Kade for a crime and hacking the Silver Lining, while trust is scarce; even Marie, according to Lena, is a Separatist sympathizer. The futuristic backdrop is profuse: Humanity is in the midst of an interstellar civil war and a second probationary period to join the Galactic Forum. But readers will recognize the problems facing many of the arresting characters in the author’s densely plotted epic. Izin, for example, endures mistrust from others simply for being a tamph, amphibious “cousins” to the feared Intruders. Likewise, Renneberg aptly portrays strikingly different worlds: “Before me lay a vast, semi-arid savannah stretching to the horizon beneath a fierce white sun.”

A steadily paced and exhilarating espionage tale involving the threat of galactic war.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9941840-5-4

Page Count: 442

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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