Nails the traits of a classic pirate tale, with romance and family melodrama to hold the story together.

BLOOD TIDES

In Sturgill’s (Dreams from the Heart: Tales of Hope & Love, 2013) adventure novel, a young kidnapped boy is raised among pirates while his brother becomes a naval officer and swears vengeance against the marauders.

In the early 19th century, 6-year-old Henry Wellington is traveling from England to the United States with his father and older brother, James, on a merchant ship when pirates besiege the vessel. Capt. Bloodstone kills Henry’s father but takes Henry, believing the hawk-shaped birthmark on Henry’s chest makes him “marked by the gods.” James, meanwhile, is saved from the fiery wreckage by the passing USS Enterprise. Henry, now called Hawk, remembers little about his family and grows into a skilled and formidable pirate, but when the teenager meets and falls in love with Anna, a young prostitute, he considers leaving behind the only life he’s really known. Abandoning the pirate life isn’t so easy, however, especially when the quartermaster, aptly named Diablo, is envious of the crew’s admiration of Hawk and would rather see the boy dead than be Bloodstone’s successor, and the U.S. Navy’s New Orleans Squadron, including Lt. James Wellington, who presumes his brother is dead, has been established specifically for hunting pirates. The book doesn’t skimp on the hallmarks that pirate fans look for—there are plenty of eye-patches, peg legs and the occasional “Arrr!” But pitting the two estranged brothers against each other adds substantial depth, particularly since Henry’s birthmark is so discernible and makes the scene in which James recognizes him almost inevitable. There’s also an effective mingling of the notions of good and bad; Henry and other pirates, like his friend Wesley, the cook, look squeaky clean next to Bloodstone and Diablo, who are far more bloodthirsty, while James’ relentless pursuit of pirates recalls Bloodstone’s attack in the beginning, as the Squadron kills men and leaves ships in flames. Henry and Anna are smitten rather quickly, but their burgeoning relationship opens the door for a much more riveting quandary, as Henry must decide between his love for his woman or his love of the sea. The story has its slower moments, most notably with the young couple, but lovers of the genre will be appeased with copious action scenes featuring guns, swords, duels and cannon fire.

Nails the traits of a classic pirate tale, with romance and family melodrama to hold the story together.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0988565333

Page Count: 330

Publisher: DreamHeart Books

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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