A clever, complex tale that should pique readers’ curiosity about Genghis Khan and leave them looking forward to the...

THE BALJUNA COVENANT

A debut novel combines elements of archaeology, historical fiction, and geopolitical thrillers.

James Andrews’ life is busy, but he doesn’t think he has much to show for it. An archaeology professor at the University of Virginia, he’s spent years digging in Mongolia, dreaming of finding the lost tomb of Genghis Khan. But this year, he’s only recovered a few ancient roof tiles and a tiny fragment of stray human bone. Andrews tells Parker Winthrop, the Asian Historical Society’s representative in Mongolia, that the bone probably belongs to “a peasant shot by the Soviets for trespassing and left for dead.” But everything changes when DNA analysis of the bone marrow points to Genghis Khan himself. And what should be cause for celebration also yields something far darker, as forces around the world have their own agendas for Mongolia and this discovery. Even people Andrews thought he could trust—or love—are caught up in the conflict in ways he couldn’t have foreseen. At the same time, the narrative offers brief windows into the story of Temujin and Jamuka, two boys in ancient Mongolia, one of whom will become Genghis Khan. Amid betrayal, mystery, and espionage, Andrews has his work cut out for him trying to get to the most valuable thing of all: the truth. Pelkey’s insightful novel moves at a quick pace, but it’s at no loss for details, and early scenes returning from the dig site or in Andrews’ lecture hall provide an excellent sense of the historical significance of Genghis Khan. What’s more, exposition smoothly flows in the text, pointing out the geopolitical reality of Mongolia, which is on the brink of a modern-day gold rush: “ ‘What about the Mongolians?’ Andrews asked. ‘It’s their country.’ ‘Road kill,’ Parker said with a flick of his hand.” On top of that, the characters’ uncertain loyalties give the book a sense of intrigue and emotionality, and the brotherhood and struggle in the Temujin and Jamuka sections only add to this unexpected depth. Finally, the fact that Andrews has a lot of uncertainty in his life—due to his frequent travels, far-flung friends, and short-lived romantic relationships—makes him a more sympathetic and relatable protagonist than most in these genres.

A clever, complex tale that should pique readers’ curiosity about Genghis Khan and leave them looking forward to the author’s next book.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9968426-7-9

Page Count: -

Publisher: SDP Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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