Author: Katy Evans. This is the first novel in her Real series, which were originally self-published and are now being distributed by Gallery Books.
Readers: Editor Lori, bookkeeper Tykira, small business owner Samantha, professor Michal and at-home parent Dana.
Summary: Remington Tate has a bad-boy rep in and out of the ring, a granite-hard body, and a raw, animal power that sends his female fans into a frenzy. But from the moment their eyes lock, the only woman he wants is Brooke Dumas. His desire is pure, all-consuming, and REAL.
Hired to keep his perfect body working like a machine, Brooke finally has the lucrative sports therapy job she’s been dreaming of. But as she tours the dangerous underground fighting circuit with Remy and his team, Brooke’s own body becomes alive with the most primal of hungers. If what happens between Brooke and Remy is ever as light as a flirtation, it quickly becomes an erotic obsession for them both, and promises so much more.
But their white-hot lust has a dark side—and when Remy’s deepest secret comes to light and Brooke’s familial duties demand action, will the pair be able to hang on, or will everything that once seemed so real suddenly fade away like an illusion?
Our Take: We wanted a little more spark and a little more flavor out of this bad-boy romance novel that didn’t do enough to break out of its formula.
Title: Lighthouse Island
Author: Paulette Jiles. She is the author of several novels, including Enemy Women.
Readers: Professor Michal, teacher Shannon, stay-at-home parents Colleen B. and Kristi.
Summary: In the coming centuries the world’s population has exploded and covered the earth with cities, animals are nearly all gone and drought has taken over so that cloudy water is issued by the quart. There are no maps, no borders, no numbered years. On this urban planet the only relief from overcrowding and the harsh rule of the big Agencies is the television in every living space, with its dreams of vanished waterfalls and the promise of virtual vacations in green spaces, won by the lucky few.
It is an unwelcoming world for an orphan like Nadia Stepan. Abandoned by her parents on a crowded street when she was four, the little girl is shuttled from orphanage to orphanage, foster-family to foster-family. Nadia grows up dreaming of the vacation spot called Lighthouse Island, in a place called the Pacific Northwest. And beyond the confusion and overcrowding and the relentless television noise, comes a radio voice from an abandoned satellite that patiently reads, over and over, the great classical books of the world-Big Radio, a voice in the night that lifts Nadia out of the dull and perpetual Present. An opportunity for escape appears and Nadia takes it, abandoning everything to strike out for Lighthouse Island in a dangerous and sometimes comic adventure.
Our Take: Such a promising idea, but our readers are in agreement that the execution falls flat. We need solid worldbuilding in dystopian fiction and we never felt like we understood this one.
Title: The Last Winter of Dani Lancing
Author: P. D. Viner. This is his first novel.
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Readers: Professor Michal, at-home parent Katie, teachers Ninian and Shannon.
Summary: Twenty years ago, college student Dani Lancing was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The killer was never found, and the case has long gone cold. Her parents, Patty and Jim, were utterly devastated, their marriage destroyed. While Jim fell apart, Patty was consumed by the unsolved case. She abandoned her journalism career and her marriage to spend every waking hour searching and plotting. She keeps contact with Tom, Dani’s childhood sweetheart, who has become a detective intent on solving murders like Dani’s. When he finds a lead that seems ironclad, he brings Patty in on it. After years of dead ends, her obsession is rekindled, and she will do anything for revenge, even become a killer herself-dragging her whole family into the nightmare once again, as lies and secrets are uncovered.
Our Take: A split decision on this tangled mystery. Most of our readers enjoyed it, though some were dissatisfied with the ending. This is a complex story that moves around in time and among characters.
Author: Kathryn Davis. She is the author of several previous novels, including The Thin Place.
Genre: Literary Fiction, Fantasy
Readers: Professors Michal and JoLee, stay-at-home moms Dana and Marina, and teacher Shannon.
Summary: Mary and Eddie are meant for each other—but love is no guarantee, not in these suburbs. Like all children, they exist in an eternal present; time is imminent, and the adults of the street live in their assorted houses like numbers on a clock. Meanwhile, ominous rumors circulate, and the increasing agitation of the neighbors points to a future in which all will be lost. Soon a sorcerer’s car will speed down Mary’s street, and as past and future fold into each other, the resonant parenthesis of her girlhood will close forever. Beyond is adulthood, a world of robots and sorcerers, slaves and masters, bodies without souls.
Our Take: Our readers all agree that this unusual book is mystifying, strange and otherworldly. Some loved it but others didn’t.
Title: Approaching the Speed of Light
Author: Victoria Lustbader. She is the author of two previous novels, including Stone Creek. Before becoming a writer she was an editor of science-fiction novels.
Genre: Commercial Fiction
Readers: Professor Michal, prosecutor Rochelle, project manager Andrea and stay-at-home moms Dana and Megan V.
Summary: Jody is a likable young man getting by in New York City at the turn of the millennium. On the surface, he seems to have it together, with friends, family, a decent job, and a steady string of girlfriends. But a secret history has left Jody scarred and broken inside, lacking faith in the future or himself. Like the ceaseless pull of a black hole, his buried secrets hold him back, defining him, until his trajectory crosses the path of three very different women, who, in their own ways, hold out the tantalizing possibility of healing, connection . . . or self-destruction.
Our Take: A strong and resonant novel with complex characters that explores real emotional depth. Not a terribly light or happy read, but most of our readers found it worth their while.