A SHARPNESS ON THE NECK

Intelligent mix of historical and modern-day vampirism, with the ninth return of Saberhagen's revisionist, sharing-and-caring Prince Vlad Dracula (SÇance for a Vampire, 1994, etc), the most honorable of the undead. The wry punning title focuses on both the wonderful new guillotine devised for safer, more humane beheadings during the French Revolution and the vampire's traditional neckjob. In 1996, newlyweds Phillip and June Radcliffe are kidnapped by ``Mr. Graves'' (Vlad) and beautiful Constantia (a sexy fifteen?—no, closer to four hundred) and locked up in a desert hideout where they must review a five-hour tape that recounts the history of vampirism during the heyday of the French blade. The two are told they've been sequestered for their own good. But is this Graves a lunatic? Gradually, they begin to grasp the hidden message in the tape. In 1792, an American ancestor, also named Phillip Radcliffe, was sent by George Washington to deliver a message to Tom Paine in Paris. There, he happened to perform a good deed for Vlad, who swore on his honor that he would protect Phillip. At the same time, Vlad's archenemy, his younger brother, Radu, who had been buried decapitated over a hundred years earlier, managed to get his head back on and has once more set out to destroy Vlad. Vlad can't kill Radu because of an oath he gave his father that he would protect his brother. Phillip is arrested by revolutionaries and is sentenced to death. Radu sets a trap for Vlad that depends on Vlad trying to save Phillip. The modern Phillip manages to escape the desert hideout and in fleeing attracts Radu. In both ages, Phillip is bait for the brothers' lethal Machiavellian traps. Meanwhile, we are given much background on the development of the guillotine, as well as on wax-casting for a museum of celebrities in Paris. Neat, sober Saberhagen and immensely engaging.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-312-85799-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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