A surprising and enchanting parable about personal and artistic growth.

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THE LITTLE QUEEN

After her parents die, a young queen ventures forth to learn more about the world and its people in this children’s novella.

The queen’s mother and father have died, leaving her all alone in the world. She goes on a journey to see if anyone wants to change places with her; she meets a succession of women with curious professions, including a “book sniffer,” an “architect of solitude,” and a “foreshadowing artist.” (No men, apart from the queen’s father, appear in the book.) The little monarch is interested by each possibility, but after learning more about the jobs, she realizes that she lacks the training, patience, and dedication for any of them. Nevertheless, her trip is valuable, because she’s “learning the language of her world.” In her travels, the queen and the editor of the Digital Dictionary of Sounds, who’s “famous for her very large ears,” fall in love, but the queen still wants to keep exploring. After some important discoveries and realizations, the queen returns home, marries her beloved editor, and invites the women she’s met to collaborate on making new homes for the needy. These include the Open Home of Books and Leaves, the Dreamy Home of Water and Hammocks, and the Textual Home of Body and Language; all are available “if one seeks them in just the right way.” Geddes (Love Letters to the World, 2016) offers an intriguing world in her novella—a dreamlike setting with elements of myths, fables, and poetry. The story’s opening sentence may sound unattractively twee (“On a little world, upon a little hill, a little tear fell down a little face”), but this impression soon vanishes as the book reveals itself to be something original and poetic, with striking grayscale images by Miller. And there’s no preciousness in figures like the “poop encourager”: “I suppose there is something about my voice that…moves…their bowels,” she explains with pride. Geddes has a generous view of people, art, and nature, and it comes across beautifully in this work.

A surprising and enchanting parable about personal and artistic growth.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-945366-66-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: Poetose Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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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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