Another blistering installment with a cool, clever female lead.

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DENVER MOON

THE SAINT OF MARS

In the continuation of this briskly paced sci-fi series, Mars private investigator Denver Moon investigates the possibility that invaders on the red planet are plotting to enslave human colonists.

Denver is working a case of missing persons when she stumbles on an alien’s lab with human experiments. She’s already aware of nameless, shape-shifting invaders on Mars and their attempts to control humans. But for now, Denver remains mum. The colony of Mars City needs the aliens’ tech for successful terraforming. She subsequently takes a case for Jard Calder, who runs a botsie (robot) prostitution business. Church of Mars monks are disrupting his business, and Jard wants Denver to get Bishop Rafe Ranchard excommunicated. That shouldn’t be difficult since Denver previously had the bishop excommunicated when she discovered he was embezzling. Why the church’s leader, Cole Hennessey, reinstated Rafe is a mystery, and Hennessey isn’t returning Denver’s calls. With help from her trusty AI, Smith, who’s installed in her Smith & Wesson revolver, Denver quickly finds a link between the bishop and the aliens’ experiments on colonists. Rafe, however, is a menacing individual with botsies at his command, and the plot against humans is bigger and deadlier than Denver anticipated. Hammond and Viola’s (Denver Moon: Metamorphosis, 2018, etc.) novel deepens an ongoing mystery within the series. New readers will easily settle into the story, but it’s best read from the beginning. The latest narrative deftly expands ongoing themes, from Denver’s relationship with her grandfather Tatsuo to her softening feelings toward botsies. In fact, botsie Nigel is her friend, and the image of Denver carrying and conversing with his head—his torso is on backorder—is a definite highlight. Despite relatively few characters, there are surprising turns among allies and apparent foes. And the prose, as always, is well imagined: “I closed my eyes against a blowback of detritus and sprinted as fast as I dared in the dark, a confetti made of charred leaves peppering my face and arms.”

Another blistering installment with a cool, clever female lead.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73391-770-4

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Hex Publishers

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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