Man was thrown from paradise to suffer and die, but he took a book with him; now modern-day terrorists and the Vatican are willing to kill to possess it.

Opening with a failed suicide bombing attempt in Jerusalem, the book plunges readers into the fevered mind of the bomber and the social consequences he faces following his failure. The dark underbelly of the antiquities market and the desperate search for a mythological Templar treasure build up the story’s pace. However, Azariah-Kribbs unexpectedly switches gears midway and focuses on the thought processes and relationships of several of the main characters, including two Indian women—one of whom is traditional while the other isn’t—and the man for whom they both have feelings. The book loses momentum as it becomes bogged down by unrequited relationships. The pace picks up again as the puzzle of the mythological book is solved and the solution is posted on the Internet for all to see. As a result, there is no more hunger or thirst, and spells can be spoken to provide for every need. As people unlock the secrets of paradise, they nearly become gods themselves; in fact, they pay to have themselves killed and brought back to life so that they can see where they will spend eternity. No one ever encounters paradise however, just the waiting depths of hell. Despite people’s best efforts to serve each other, their outcome never changes. Only the granddaughter of one of the terrorists learns the deepest secrets of the book, bringing the story full circle. Azariah-Kribbs writes in a clear, unadorned prose that keeps the world he had created accessible, even as it deals in the supernatural. Shifting perspective among several main characters keeps the action fast-paced and the pages turning. Azariah-Kribbs is at his most innovative when focusing on the Kryptografik, the mythical book from paradise; he treats the Kryptografik as a character, and this decision feels fresh and enhances the book’s mystical tone. Readers drawn to religious myth and action/adventure will find much to enjoy here. A rollicking, provocative read that hits a few speed bumps.


Pub Date: July 24, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983401933

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Keith Azariah-Kribbs

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


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.


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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