by Natalia Sylvester ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 3, 2014
A smart take on a familiar genre that, when it stumbles, stumbles admirably.
A kidnapping forces a husband to reconsider his life in Sylvester’s debut, a cross between a literary novel and a thriller.
Although Andres and Marabela Jimenez live in a house that’s “enclosed by cement walls and locked gates,” horror manages to invade their lives when Marabela is kidnapped and ransomed at a price too steep for her husband, owner of a printing company, to afford. For help, he brings in a kidnapping expert named Guillermo, who recently negotiated the ransom for Elena, Andres’ childhood sweetheart. But Elena was held captive for 37 days and returned home broken, unable to return to her old life; is this fate in store for Marabela, too? Sylvester sets her novel in Peru in 1992, against a backdrop of political violence and guerrilla warfare. The country’s public turmoil echoes the private turmoil of the Jimenezes, no example of marital bliss even before the kidnapping. One of the appealing aspects of the novel is that it isn’t really about the negotiations at all. Rather, it’s about Andres reconnecting with neglected aspects of his life: Elena, his family and even Marabela. He becomes hopeful about what might happen when his wife returns. Will they put their relationship back together? Sylvester’s novel is one of great promise, even if it doesn’t cohere. Two-thirds of the way through, it changes shape dramatically—a twist that wants to gesture toward larger concerns but makes the remainder of the novel feel like an overlong epilogue. Nevertheless, Sylvester is a fine writer with a knack for crafting situations that externalize the characters’ internal struggles. (For instance, Andres and Guillermo have to invade Marabela’s darkroom—her last bastion of privacy—to set up a headquarters to handle the negotiations.) Sometimes Sylvester’s language stretches too far, as when a dial tone “is empty, just like [Andres] is,” but her ambition to reach beyond the traditional kidnapping thriller into something richer is commendable.A smart take on a familiar genre that, when it stumbles, stumbles admirably.
Pub Date: June 3, 2014
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Amazon Publishing/New Harvest
Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014
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by Colleen Hoover ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 18, 2014
Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson.
Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty.Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.
Pub Date: March 18, 2014
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014
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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 3, 2015
Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.
In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015
Page Count: 448
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014
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