Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Books: New Fiction From Erik Hoel, Glendy Vanderah, & Victoria Helen Stone

The Revelations
By Dr. Erik Hoel, Ph.D
The Overlook Press; hardcover, 368 pages; $27.00

Erik Hoel received his PhD in neuroscience from the University of Madison-Wisconsin. A 2018 Forbes "30 under 30" for his neuroscientific research on consciousness and a Center for Fiction Emerging Writer Fellow, he sis a research assistant professor at Tufts University. Previously, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University in the Neuro Technology Lab, and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

In this stunning debut novel, Hoel takes an intense look at cutting-edge science, the search for human consciousness, and human connection. 

The story is centered on Keirk, who was once a rising star in neuroscience and is now homeless, broken by his all-consuming quest to find a scientific theory of consciousness. When he's offered a spot in a prestigious postdoctoral program, he decides to rejoin society and vows not to self-destruct again.

However, instead of focusing on his work, Kierk becomes obsessed with another project - investigating the sudden and suspicious death of a colleague. The search for truth brings him closer to another postdoc, Carmen Green, and their list of suspects grows. There is a sense that something sinister may he happening all around them.

The Revelations is written in muscular, hypnotic prose, and not unlike its main character, is ambitious and abrasive. It is bursting with ideas, ranging from Greek mythology to the dark realities of animal testing, to some of the biggest unanswered questions facing scientists today.

The Light Through The Leaves
By Glendy Vanderah
Lake Union Publishing; hardcover; $24.95

Glendy Vanerah, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Amazon Charts bestselling author of Where the Forest Meets the Stars, worked as an avian biologist before she became a writer. Originally from Chicago, she now lives in rural Florida with her husband and as many birds, butterflies, and wildflowers as she can lure to her land. Find out more about her at

Vanderah crafts stories that move something in the depths of our hearts. Just as she did with her acclaimed debut novel, Vanderah weaves together themes of wilderness, humans falling short, generational rage, isolation, and joyfulness in the highly anticipated The Light Through The Leaves.

Ths deeply engrossing novel opens with one unbearable mistake at the edge of the forest. In a moment of crisis, Ellis Abbey leaves her daughter, Viola, unattended, but for just a few minutes. When she returns, Viola is gone, and this breaking point in an already fractured marriage causes Ellis to disappear as well - into a spiral of grief, guilt, and addiction. 

Convinced she can only do more harm to her family by staying, Ellis leaves her husband and young sons, burying her desperate ache for her children deeper as she treks off into the mountains, completely alone. 

In a remote area of Washington, a young girl named Raven is growing up with secrets inside, too. She must not speak to outsiders about how her mother asked the earth spirits for a child, how she appeared like a blessing. The security cameras around their home, the locked gates - all of this is how her mother keeps her sacred world safe from modern intrusion. 

Raven spends her days convening with nature, but she will soon find herself yearning for more. Along with Ellis, they each confront their powerful longings, their journeys converging in unexpected and hopeful ways, pulled together by the forces of nature, love, and family. 

The Last One Home
By Victoria Helen Stone
Lake Union Publishing; 301 pages; paperback, $14.95; ebook, $3.99

Victoria Helen Stone is the Amazon Charts bestselling author of Jane Doe, which has been optioned by Sony Pictures Television; and Problem Child, plus the critically acclaimed thrillers False Step, Half Past, and Evelyn. Formerly writing as the USA Today bestselling novelist Victoria Dahl, she is originally from the Midwest but not writes from an upstairs office way up in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.

In The Last One Home, Stone has written a razor-sharp novel of suspense about the lies families tell, as well as those we choose to believe.

Lauren Abrams wants nothing to do with her damaged mother, whose spurious testimony sent Lauren's father to prison for murder years ago. A serial killer confessed to the crime, which restored justice, and Lauren chose to live with her father and grandmother.

Now an adult, Lauren has come home to the Sacramento family estate for good, her mother's lies be damned. It's been decades since Donna made her cheating husband pay, but she hasn't forgotten the past. She knows her estranged daughter has made a terrible mistake by returning to the estate. There's more to the story of the welcoming old homestead, as well as her childhood, than Lauren knows. 

As Lauren settles in, she is haunted by the questions of what really happened with her father, what her mother might be hiding, and what secrets the family ranch holds. 

It's getting so dark, Lauren may not be able to see the truth to save her life.

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