SKY MASTERS

War erupts almost immediately when America pulls out of the Philippines and China slips in to fill the power vacuum. A few of the characters flying Brown's gadget-filled war planes previously appeared in Day of the Cheetah (1989). Glossary entries (176) and a warm dedication to strategic air power generalissimo Curtis LeMay accurately signal the approach of a superacronymic, high-tech military adventure. The casus belli this time is Chinese enforcement of that country's ancient claim to the Spratly Islands—a tiny, uninhabitable, barely visible, mineral-rich chain halfway between the Asian mainland and the Philippines. The Philippines, at last free of their long-term American tenants, also claim the Spratlys, and a shootout in the atoll between the two Asian nations' navies escalates much too quickly into full-scale war as the Chinese, led by a maniacal admiral, pop off a small nuclear device and then take the opportunity to invade the Philippine mainland—where the leftist first vice-president in the coalition government is only too happy to welcome them. A very unhappy American government has to throw together a battle plan on very short notice, but thanks to the inventive skills of the military-industrial complex's most talented techno-weenie, the Air Force has use of a new generation of spy satellites that, when paired with a souped-up B-2 Stealth bomber turns the air war into an immense video game. Genuinely exciting fight scenes are swamped by oceans of technical detail of interest primarily to the pencil-protector crowd.

Pub Date: July 17, 1991

ISBN: 0-399-13705-X

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1991

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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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