by Meg Donohue ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 13, 2012
A little friendship, a little wit and a little mystery make for a charming debut about two old friends reconciled after starting a cupcakery (a bakery specializing in cupcakes).
Annie Quintana and Julia St. Claire have an unusual relationship. Raised like sisters, there is a gulf between them—Annie’s mother Lucia was nanny and cook to the St. Clair family. The distance between the Pacific Heights carriage house and the mansion may be measured in yards, but as the girls entered high school, it became an impossible distance. Ten years after graduation (which coincided with a prep-school scandal and Lucia’s untimely death), Annie and Julia meet again at a St. Claire fundraiser. Annie, now a talented pastry chef, is catering and surprised to see a subdued Julia, who has quit her job in finance and moved back into the manse to plan her wedding. Annie hasn’t forgiven Julia for her past transgressions, and Julia has conveniently forgotten all about them, which makes for some awkwardness when Julia offers to finance Annie’s cupcake shop. As Julia promises to bow out after her wedding, Annie agrees to a business partnership, but every meeting is colored by her anger and Julia’s nonchalance. What Annie doesn’t know: Julia is depressed, recovering from a serious trauma and unsure if she should marry Wes, who may be too good for her. And what Julia doesn’t know about Annie: she’s dating her high school sweetheart and knows the truth about what Julia did to destroy her reputation. In the meantime, their cupcakery is a grand success—except for the frequent vandalism, notes telling them to get out and a frightening man in a hoodie who is always lurking in the shadows. When the truth is finally revealed, it brings real danger to Julia and Annie, who have finally learned to be the sisters they were meant to be. Despite the sugary title, Donohue has written a sharp little novel featuring the subtle characterizations of two appealingly flawed young women.
Pub Date: March 13, 2012
Page Count: 320
Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2012
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
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National Book Award Finalist
Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.
Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Pub Date: March 10, 2015
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by Harper Lee ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 11, 1960
A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.
Pub Date: July 11, 1960
Page Count: 323
Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960
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