A delightful reunion with old friends, sure to leave fans of strong female heroines craving the final installment.

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In Lonely Exile

From the The Hallowed Treasures Saga series , Vol. 2

A princess and her eclectic companions continue their quest to collect 13 mythical treasures in this epic-fantasy sequel.

The second volume in Logue’s (The Path to Misery, 2016) planned trilogy finds a small band of heroic friends scattered to the winds after a deadly run-in with the nefarious Prince Arawn of Annewven. Two parallel stories make up the novel’s first third. In one, Princess Eluned has a budding romance with Prince Irirangi of Favonia, a sun-dappled tropical island chain, although her friends are not as smitten by her new suitor. In the other, Eluned’s right-hand woman, Yona, has balked at her arranged marriage to Prince Hevel of Adamah and stolen one of the Thirteen Hallowed Treasures. Fleeing the country in disguise, Yona gets sidetracked while on her way to join the rest of the group. Eluned soon grows tired of her new beau but manages to form a helpful friendship with the twin princesses of Favonia before reuniting with Yona. From there, the adventurers, including Gwrhyr, the magical creature Jabberwock, the giant Bonpo, Chokhmah, and Faolan seek a magical creature who possesses the eighth of the 13 treasures. Along the way, flirtations—between Eluned and Gwrhyr, between Yona and Queen Njima (who joins the group later), and between others—become full-blown romances. The group’s quest for the ninth treasure finds them exploring the ruins of a long-lost, highly evolved society and discovering new facts about the history of their world and their individual pasts. Later, Eluned returns home to her parents’ castle only to find a shocking surprise. The strong ensemble cast is still the chief delight of the saga, and readers will find it fascinating to see the many relationships within the group shift and evolve. Yona’s heist and crafty escape also start things off in rip-roaring fashion. However, the pacing of the story stalls somewhat in its final third, and although the romances are satisfying, some readers might find themselves wishing that Eluned had more to do with her invisibility ring and legendary sword. Still, the series continues to stand out for its foregrounding of friendship, diplomacy, and exploration over gory sword fights.

A delightful reunion with old friends, sure to leave fans of strong female heroines craving the final installment.

Pub Date: July 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9883044-8-2

Page Count: 422

Publisher: Low Country Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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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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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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