Intriguing characters, intense action and an exotic, exhilarating plot.

EL VOLCÁN

This fast-paced military thriller is set in Central America during Cold War-era late 1980s.

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Peter Kane is sent to San Cristobal, a fictitious nation bordering Guatemala and El Salvador which is embroiled in a civil war. The San Cristobal government is fighting Communist insurgents–the Gerardo Rivas Popular Army, named after an early 1900s Communist leader from the country. The United States is advising the government as it fights these guerrillas, with Peter playing a central role. Once in the country, however, he quickly finds the conditions to be rough. The soldiers live in squalor, and the overall facilities and environment are less than desirable. Peter must fight his way back to safety after his helicopter is shot down, and later, he seeks revenge for the killing of a colleague. Levy writes with great detail, filling the book with adventure and presenting the protagonist as a Rambo-like hero along the way. Aside from the hero, the novel focuses on Tienente Col. Guzman Clemente, a guerrilla leader who begins to question the meaning of warfare, especially the killing of innocent children. Meanwhile, the Tiche Indians remain separate from the rest of society, and yet, they too are pulled into the war. After Peter saves a Tiche girl, he spends time in her village, experiencing a culture that few outsiders have ever seen. It is a transformative moment, one that sets up the dramatic climax to this fascinating book. The author acknowledges at the conclusion that he wrote El Volcan two decades ago, and it certainly reflects that era. But it remains timely, capturing the horrors of war and the involvement of American soldiers in harm’s way. It captivates the reader from beginning to end.

Intriguing characters, intense action and an exotic, exhilarating plot.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4389-5267-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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