A thrilling story of thievery and self-discovery.

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THE FALL OF VENTARIS

BOOK TWO OF THE GREY CITY

In the second installment of McGarry and Ravipinto’s (Duchess of the Shallows, 2012) fantasy series, a young woman seeks to find balance between her past life as a scholar’s daughter and her new life as a rising star among criminals.

Newly accepted into the Grey, a secret society of thieves, Duchess strikes up a business partnership with Jana, a singularly gifted weaver. Jana has been forced to work on the outskirts of town after being denied entry into the weavers’ guild due to her race, class and outsider status. Duchess is certain that with Jana’s skills and her own connections and unorthodox business savvy, they can build a profitable partnership—but only if Duchess’ calculated scheme to secure Jana’s admittance into the guild is successful. Meanwhile, she also wants to employ the bodyguard services of Pollux, the empress’s former servant and lover, who’s incarcerated for acknowledging his parentage of the empress’ son. As part of an elaborate and hazardous scheme, Duchess plans to break Pollux out of jail by faking his death. As she pursues her plans, Duchess makes a few new enemies along the way. She’s also confronted with the past she left behind as  the daughter of the late hero and scholar Marcus Kell, as she forms a reluctant acquaintance with Darley, a long-forgotten childhood rival and the daughter of her father’s best friend. As she uncovers secrets of days gone by, she feels torn between her well-established life as a cunning thief and clever businesswoman and the very different life she might have had. Readers unfamiliar with the series’ first book may find some details of the world’s social structure to be unclear, but the intricately plotted schemes stand alone in most other respects, and newcomers will likely find them easy to follow. The authors, through their powerful portrayals of strong-willed characters, skillfully examine and confront issues of race, class, gender and sexual orientation in a way that’s rarely, if ever, done in medieval fantasy. In a manner that’s both modern and timeless, they examine the ways that strong women forego niceties to fight for the respect so easily granted to men. Overall, the novel is an engaging account of a young woman’s quest to succeed because of her outsider status, rather than in spite of it.

A thrilling story of thievery and self-discovery.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-0985014919

Page Count: 442

Publisher: Peccable Productions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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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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