An in-depth fairy tale by a master of the genre, delivering old-fashioned satisfaction with some up-to-date sparkle.

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THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS

When a good-hearted gardener finds love with a royal, romance may sprout thorns.

Amy Wilde is more comfortable with a spade in her hand than a tiara on her head. When she meets the dashing Leo Wolfsburg, who fancies more than her roses, that's a plus. And when the charming banker is revealed to be the millionaire Prince Leopold, the world's ninth most eligible royal, Amy finds she can deal with the supermodel mom and the sprawling familial castle. Amy, better known for her prize marrow than her beauty or poise, can even manage the idea of Leo landing his helicopter on the local cricket pitch, a plus when he not only wins over her hard-luck parents, but also gets their permission to propose. In fact, all seems, well, rosy, until a family scandal catapults Leo into the position of heir to the throne of Nirona—and Amy's family troubles and her own unthinking missteps threaten to derail not only his father's coronation, but their wedding. Amy, a "stroppy Yorkshire" girl, finds herself wondering, "I loved Leo, but was I really going to be able to do this?" Not to worry. Of course she is, although Browne (Swept Off Her Feet, 2011, etc.) throws in more than the usual obstacles along the way. She also plumps out this straightforward girl-meets-boy, girl-loses-boy, girl-gets-boy romance with enough detail—about London, European society, even gardening—to dissuade some looking for a quicker read. But her breezy writing and likable characters—even Leo's ne'er-do-well brother Rolf is sympathetic—will keep the right kind of reader engaged. Traditional in outlook, despite the very contemporary fashion references, this thick novel delivers a solid, almost believable fantasy with just enough glitz and glamour to catch the eye of chick-lit fans. 

An in-depth fairy tale by a master of the genre, delivering old-fashioned satisfaction with some up-to-date sparkle.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4391-6885-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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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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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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