An earnest effort, but its mature themes and convoluted messages will likely be lost on younger readers.

BE WEE WITH BEA

In this debut work of fiction, ONeill tells a tale of a bear and her pets that explores its characters’ psychological problems.

Bea is a bear who developed an exercise program to stay “wee” after being bullied about her weight. Many of her physical exercises are connected with honey, her “’be good to myself’ treat”; they include “STEPSTOOLING” to reach a jar of honey, and “FINE MOTOR WEIGHT LIFTING” to scoop it into her mouth. She also does mental exercises, such as mindfully noticing things around her, meditating, and talking to “THE MAKER OF EVERYTHING.” During one of Bea’s strolls, she befriends a cat named Scruffy, invites him to her cave, and becomes his caregiver. Scruffy had run away from an abusive home and he retained many traumatic memories, which complicated his new life with Bea. When his nighttime yowling keeps her up, she evicts him from her cave. But after consulting with her wise beaver friend, she decides to resume taking care of Scruffy (whom she renames “Scruffles”), and she protects him from other feline bullies. Later, she also takes in Sweet Puppy, another previously abused animal with poor self-esteem. Bea learns to deal with her own and others’ psychological issues with the help of her many exercises, and especially, the help of “THE MAKER.” Everyone eventually finds balance and happiness. Bea’s exercises may give readers some new ideas about how to solve their own problems. However, the book’s adult themes, such as physical abuse and “co-dependent” relationships, seem out of place, given the juvenile tone. Also, the story’s morals are often ambiguous; for example, it’s unclear whether taking care of Scruffles and Puppy is intended to be seen as good (because Bea is being charitable) or bad (because it brings significant problems into her life). Other lessons are heavy-handed, such as the importance of thanking and consulting God. There are also distracting typos (such as “luxuary” on the first page) and grammatical errors throughout.

An earnest effort, but its mature themes and convoluted messages will likely be lost on younger readers.

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5320-3062-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2018

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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