A charming and inventive tale with a brave heroine confronting romance and dangerous entities.

Eerie

A young woman must deal with a missing sister and a peculiar university in this debut paranormal adventure.

Hailey’s life is not quite what it seems. She works with her sister Holly as a waitress at her family’s pub in Pittsburgh, dancing for the crowd and teasing the friendly bartender, Fin. The bar is a popular local spot run by her Uncle Pix, who has taken care of the sisters since their parents died in a fire. In her dreams, Hailey sees a strange being named Asher. When Holly disappears, the normal veneer of Hailey’s life begins to evaporate. She learns Asher is an Envoy, responsible for ferrying souls from the earthly world to the other side. He and his fellow Envoys are trapped in a realm between heaven and Earth, and Hailey’s death would allow them to return home. One in particular, Cobon, is plotting to see this happen. Hailey’s life changes when she leaves Pittsburgh for a university in The Middle of Nowhere, Alaska, where she learns of the paranormal world she’s about to become a bigger part of. Fin is not what he seems either—he and Asher are both part of the university. And they both want to protect her, but they’re at odds with each other, creating a complicated love triangle with Hailey’s life hanging in the balance. There are obvious parallels to the Harry Potter series and the YA novels that followed in its wake. Hailey has to suddenly come to grips with a perilous new world and finds out she’s more special than she thought she was. The university is populated with weird and wonderful characters, just as Hogwarts was in the Potter books. But McCoy has been careful to create her own mythology, familiar enough to draw in readers and unique enough to keep their interest. In Alaska, there are people-eating trees, yetis, and poltergeists. The Envoys can be terrible beasts, but Asher’s struggle with his love for a human becomes compelling. Hailey is a strong character even when she doesn’t realize it, which gives her an inviting vulnerability. And the revelations surrounding Fin as his story unfolds make for some delightful surprises. There are a lot of facets to recommend here, chief among them McCoy’s worldbuilding ability and characters readers will surely want to see again.

A charming and inventive tale with a brave heroine confronting romance and dangerous entities.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62342-232-5

Page Count: 434

Publisher: Omnific Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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