A tender, thought-provoking journey that teaches that “life is not the origin of love”;  it’s the other way around.

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IN THE LAND OF THE BIRDS

In Marchitelli’s chapter book, a pair of young birds learns that the secret to life rests in finding a partner with whom to ride out the joyful tail winds and difficult head winds of life.

The “Valley of the Birds” is safeguarded by mountains and a coterie of gentle birds who command the sky, “peacefully sharing the joy of life.” When the day comes for young Hebril to jump from the rocky cliff and attempt his first flight, his parents encourage him, fully aware that their purpose in life is to help him become an adult bird. But Hebril backs away, not yet prepared to fail. His parents respect his fear and later debate whether or not to share a family secret with him. “Not at this time,” says the father; Hebril must first “go through the path of becoming a great bird.” The young bird eventually takes flight, which leads him to meet the mysterious Wise Bird, who holds not just the key to the family secret, but to a much larger spiritual enigma—which Hebril encounters when he catches the eye of the beautiful Kerah. As the two fly high and strengthen their wings together, they prove their worthiness. At the urging of their fellow Valley inhabitants, the couple flies off beyond the mountains, where no bird has ever gone. In six easy-to-read chapters, Marchitelli’s birds provide lessons in courage, self-belief, trust, purpose and love. Deep ideas contained in simple language not only enrich the adventure, they make the book accessible to spiritually inclined families looking for a positive, wholesome way to discuss the somewhat muddy waters of adolescent love with younger readers, who in turn, may feel freer to ask honest questions about sexuality and what life has in store for them. Ellanson’s lovely illustrations add charm and a much-needed dimension to the book. Without them, readers may have trouble forming a mental picture from the narrator’s vague, generic descriptions of his feathered cast.

A tender, thought-provoking journey that teaches that “life is not the origin of love”;  it’s the other way around.

Pub Date: May 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1470124397

Page Count: 72

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Oh for the days when life was a picnic on the beach: Hilderbrand sets the gold standard in escapist fiction.

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28 SUMMERS

A Nantucket-ization of the world’s most romantic adultery story.

Inspired by the 1978 movie Same Time, Next Year, Hilderbrand creates her own pair of annual secret lovers—Mallory Blessing and Jake McCloud. Mallory is a Baltimore girl, born and raised in Anne Tyler territory, who inherits a Nantucket beach cottage from her gay aunt. Jake is her brother Cooper’s best friend from his college days at Johns Hopkins. They first cross paths in 1993, when Mallory hosts Cooper’s bachelor party over Labor Day weekend…and the book’s title gives you a pretty good idea of the rest. When they meet, Jake is already the property of a glamorous but coldhearted powerhouse named Ursula DeGournsey—the two grew up together in South Bend, Indiana—who by the end of the book is a U.S. senator running for president. To get to 2020, Hilderbrand paves a lush path of nostalgia, introducing each year with a rundown of headlines, song lyrics, and pop-culture memories, and also slips in an astute commentary on marriage, showcasing various good ones and bad ones along the way. Come for the sailing, the sunsets, and the sweet romance, stay for the cold gin and tonics, the lobster dinners, and truly unparalleled picnics: “rare roast beef, Boursin, and arugula pinwheel sandwiches, chicken and potato sandwiches with celery and chives; a marinated cucumber salad from the Baltimore Junior League cookbook, and lemon bars with a coconut shortbread crust.” In her 25th novel, Hilderbrand gets everything right and leaves her ardent fans hungry for No. 26.

Oh for the days when life was a picnic on the beach: Hilderbrand sets the gold standard in escapist fiction.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-42004-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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