Chick-lit fantasy at its most textbook, with a predictable but fun Hollywood plot.

Drop-Dead Gorgeous

A woman raised to believe that she’s an ugly duckling gets a life-changing makeover in this tale of beauty, both inside and out.

In this debut novel, Celeste McCawley is less than average. With her best friend, Trish, she’s bullied at school, teased mercilessly about her weight, and deeply unhappy. Even when Celeste enters the adult world, her woes only lessen somewhat. Her boyfriend, Matt, is moving away but hasn’t proposed, nor even said that he loves her. When Trish tricks Celeste into going to a live taping of a talk show, she winds up being one of the makeover contestants, and not just any contestant. Her transformation attracts the interest of producers, talent managers, and, of course, Matt. Buoyant with her new looks, she breaks up with Matt and tries to confront her father, who left her family long ago. A trip to Hollywood brings about more “Cinderella” fortunes: she meets Andy, a handsome helicopter operator. Andy woos Celeste while she’s swept up in a training program that’s part charm school, part talent agency. She aces every task and job she’s given while falling in love with Andy. But when an encounter with the paparazzi brings out Andy’s temper, his troubled past is revealed. Celeste will have to decide how to use her beauty, and her new power, to do what’s best for her and for those she loves. There’s terrific fantasy in Celeste’s story, from expensive perfume and fancy clothes to spa treatments, luxury hotels, and famous restaurants with breathtaking ocean views. The immediate flurry of characters is hard to keep up with, but the plot finds its way once Celeste undergoes her metamorphosis and embraces her new life in Hollywood (“She truly feels like royalty” in the midst of “lavish luxury, the world at her feet”). Description is not the novel’s strong suit: a passionate night with Andy includes the line “She feels a great satisfaction.” Topaz introduces a spiritual component toward the end of the tale, which tries to show personal growth beyond glamour, with mixed results.

Chick-lit fantasy at its most textbook, with a predictable but fun Hollywood plot.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-919719-11-8

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Cube Tech

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2016

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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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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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