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HELLO, SUNSHINE

Nothing terribly fresh here, but it goes down easily.

A flashy heroine who falls from grace, a child who helps her regain perspective, an estranged sister to reconcile with, and a couple of handsome and successful male foils—this novel has all the ingredients of a tasty beach read.

Sunshine Mackenzie is a YouTube sensation who's about to become the next Food Network star—until a hater hacks into her Twitter account and outs her as a fraud. Not only does this celebrity chef not know how to cook, but she doesn’t even have an authentic biography—her whole Southern farmer's daughter persona was created by a TV producer looking for just the right face to front a food show. When she loses everything, she slinks back to her real childhood home, which happens to be in Montauk and where she has an angry sister she hasn’t seen in years. But Sunshine isn’t one to let life knock her down without getting up again, so Dave (Eight Hundred Grapes, 2015, etc.) provides a few paths to redemption: Sunshine bonds with her young niece, makes an actual friend, and tries to win her way back into the food world by doing her own work, this time in the kitchen of a demanding, Thomas Keller–like chef. Dave tries to juxtapose authenticity, privacy, and reality with extremes of exposure and fakery in both the virtual world and the real one, but the book never really takes off with these themes. Still, Sunshine doesn’t go entirely unredeemed, and the story is fun to read in the same way cooking shows are fun to watch.

Nothing terribly fresh here, but it goes down easily.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4767-8932-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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