A feel-good romantic comedy with a resilient heroine.

SYLVIE WRITES A ROMANCE

If she’s ever going to write her romance novel, Sylvie Jacobsen concludes that she will need to get in touch with her wild side.

Would-be romance author Sylvie has just come to a disheartening realization: “Oh my god, I’m a prude.” In the spirit of research, the accountant by day and writer by night signs up for an online dating site, seeking a few steamy rendezvous to chip away at her writer’s block. The profiles that the heroine sifts through are painfully familiar, from AceLover, a gym rat who “was almost handsome but wore a soul patch, which made him look like a douchebag,” to Giz.Allday, whose opening line reads “Those shoes are HAWT lets hang out.” With options like these, Sylvie’s dates are nothing short of disastrous, ranging from the lackluster to the outrageous. Despite her efforts to become a better catch—she invests in new beauty products, totters around in high heels, and even pages through a few naughty magazines—she has no luck. From an awkward sunset picnic fraught with small talk to a promising workout date that ends in embarrassment, each one is a zero. Sylvie starts to lose hope. Her last resort is the hot construction worker whom she has spotted at a local bank—the tellers have promised to pass along her business card. Though the plot relies on a familiar conceit, Burovac’s (Wandering, 2014) strength is in executing physical comedy. Sylvie frequently slips into sexy daydreams, coming to with a literal bang, crash, or spill. Several chapters end on a slapstick note, as when one potential suitor flees a restaurant after Sylvie gets her ring stuck while twirling her hair and smears handwritten notes about her date across her face. While she tends to be self-critical and insecure, it’s lovely to watch her bloom. The novel is set in Hawaii, and Sylvie comes alive during ocean swims and a cruise along the mountainous coast. There’s also a particularly sweet moment when she embraces her sexuality (“she relaxed more as she looked at herself in the mirror, her eyes roving over every part of her body as if she had never seen herself before”). While readers looking for hot and heavy love scenes may be disappointed, as this story falls safely in PG-13 territory, hopeless romantics should be satisfied by the fairy-tale ending.

A feel-good romantic comedy with a resilient heroine. 

Pub Date: July 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9903820-2-7

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Wanderers Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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