An enticing and elegant series finale filled with magic and turmoil.

DAUGHTER OF AITHNE

From the The Silver Web series , Vol. 3

In this conclusion of a fantasy trilogy, treachery and thoughts of retribution may spawn a devastating war between kingdoms.

Eolyn, high maga and queen of Moisehén, is content in Moehn with her princess daughter, Briana, and maga (female) students. But the king’s mages, at the order of Eolyn’s husband, Akmael the mage king, demand all magas return to the City, their arms taken and their magic bound. Eolyn retains her own magic, but she, along with every maga, is held prisoner in the City. This is the king’s response to Eolyn’s student Maga Ghemena and two other maga warriors committing treason by freeing captive (and princess) Eliasara. Eliasara’s the daughter of Akmael and his previous wife/queen, Taesara, a princess of Roenfyn who’s been in a decadelong exile. Once mother and daughter are reunited, Ghemena promises a chance at vengeance against Akmael—aligning with other kingdoms and placing Eliasara rightfully on Moisehén’s throne. With the king distrustful of magas and her student’s reputed betrayal, Eolyn, relegated to the East Tower, searches for allies or perhaps just a friend (for example, Mage Corey of East Selen). War, meanwhile, is imminent, and a wizard’s curse incites chaos within Moisehén. Gastreich (Sword of Shadows, 2016, etc.) thankfully ends her series with the strongest entry. Characters, for one, are superbly fleshed out; there’s sympathy on both sides, as even Taesara, a wronged woman whose thirst for revenge is understandable, contemplates opting for peace in lieu of a confrontation. Nearly the entire plot is a tense buildup to an inevitable battle, but along the way are turncoats, surprising deaths, and a few bloody fights (at their best when Eolyn wields her sword, Kel’Barú). And as in the preceding books, the author writes in a refined, assertive style: “The silver-white blade flashed like lightning against a starless night, painting ribbons of black over jade-colored flesh, eliciting howls of rage and pain.” The climax may not be what some readers anticipate, but it’s impactful and wholly satisfactory.

An enticing and elegant series finale filled with magic and turmoil.

Pub Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9972320-2-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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