Not quite an award-winning stallion, but the plot gallops along at a steady pace, making for an entertaining light read.

THOROUGHBREDS AND TRAILER TRASH

From Golden Heart finalist Pettersen (Fillies and Females, 2011, etc.) comes the story of a poverty-stricken horse masseuse and the brash, wealthy new boss she falls in love with.

Jenna Murphy’s life is turned upside down once Derek Burke comes to town. Although she’s far from financially well-off, her job as a horse masseuse at the Three Brooks Equine Center provides her with just enough income. But when out-of-towner Derek buys out the Center, Jenna’s job and heart are both at risk. Derek decides to make some big changes, including the removal of anyone who drains company resources. Between Jenna’s lack of formal education and the lies she tells to cover her tracks, it’s little wonder she feels unnerved. It’s curious, though that she’s willing to accept the man who could possibly ruin her life. Even though she hesitates to fall in love, she welcomes his sexual advances. Her physical attraction is understandable, but letting someone so disruptive into her bed seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Raised by an abusive father and a mother who obsessed over him, Jenna has a strong desire to keep herself from falling in love and thereby repeating her mother’s mistakes. This background makes Jenna a believable character whom readers will hope can be happy; it also makes her dependency on Derek slightly odd. Falling for Derek would be a bit more understandable if he were more developed: He’s little more than a cookie-cutter hero, the handsome yet ruthless businessman who has a soft spot for the heroine. Moreover, the jump from attraction to love happens rather quickly, making it difficult to track the buildup of emotions. Fortunately, the rest of the book’s pacing is spot-on. The harder Jenna tries to hide the truth about her background and her after-hours use of the Center’s facilities, the more the reader anticipates a big conflict on the couple’s road to happiness. There are also plenty of clues to suggest that danger is lurking around the bend for the Center, and the resolution doesn’t disappoint.

Not quite an award-winning stallion, but the plot gallops along at a steady pace, making for an entertaining light read.

Pub Date: May 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-0987671783

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Westerhall

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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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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