TYPHOON

Hard-line Soviet submarine commanders rattle their rockets and threaten the future of democracy in the decaying empire. An American boat and a nonpolitical admiral stand between the Leninists and their goal. Real-life events have done damage to the setup of Joseph's second Soviet submarine thriller (after To Kill the Potemkin, 1986). Admirals Valotin and Deminov, who control the six enormous Typhoon-class ballistic submarines sailing from Arctic ports, plan to use nuclear blackmail to eliminate the threatened breakup of the Soviet Union. For the plan to succeed, the admirals know they must remove from action Admiral Zenko, the brilliant father of strategic submarine warfare. Zenko, who puts politics way behind seamanship, gets the tip despite his superiors' drastic security efforts, and takes his own Taifun safely from port just in time to go to war with his superiors. The battlefield is the White Sea, that great northern bay claimed in its entirety by the Soviets and off-limits to all other navies. Soviet rules notwithstanding, Taifun has company, the USS Reno, an American hunter-killer submarine with a skipper quite as skillful as Admiral Zenko. Reno tails Taifun, Taifun tails Sovyetskii Soyuz, whose Stalinist captain has programmed his missiles to hit Tblisi, Georgia, instead of the US. Torpedoes run. For those who can ignore the already dated politics: a tense, tight naval thriller.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 1991

ISBN: 0-671-70865-1

Page Count: 332

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1991

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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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