An entertaining and emotional novel in which blood is thicker than salt water.

DARK SURF

From the Dark Surf series , Vol. 1

Zmak sets a vampire romance in the California beach community in this offbeat debut new-adult thriller.

When surfer Cody Hansen is killed in an apparent shark attack, it sends his best friend, Jake Ryder, spiraling. How could this have happened? Shark attacks are very uncommon, particularly on the California coast. As Jake seeks out another surfer—the last person to see Cody alive—to learn the truth about what happened, his quest leads him into dangerous waters. But it turns out that he’s not alone in his investigation. The story gives the reader a variety of perspectives on that tragic night in short, sharp, and occasionally brutal chapters. What’s more, the prose, while pithy, manages to give unique voices to characters with vastly different life experiences, providing the novel with a sense of depth. Among these characters is Lani Marley, a vacationing FBI agent looking into a rise in lethal, unpredictable shark attacks, which coincides with the movements of a surfer group called the Nomads. Both Jake and Lani find themselves drawn into the Nomads’ web; Jake, by the jealous, beautiful Skylar and Lani, by the Nomads’ darkly charismatic leader, Tristan. It turns out that the carefree night surfers are actually a cabal of shape-shifting vampires. As the romances between the Nomads and the outsiders intensify, all of their lives are threatened by the Nomads’ enemies and the cabal’s own bloody sense of justice. For the most part, the story flows quickly and smoothly. It sometimes takes abrupt turns, though, as in flashbacks to Tristan’s vampiric origins, his and Skylar’s first transformations, and the beginnings of the Nomads. At the same time, the story provides genuine depictions of the joy the characters take in surfing and the sea and the tribulations of love, guilt, and loyalty. It’s all passionate, fun, and delightfully new.

An entertaining and emotional novel in which blood is thicker than salt water.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-692-25817-0

Page Count: 422

Publisher: Zmak Creative

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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