If you’re a lonely guy planning a geographical cure, this book should save you the money and trouble.

GOD BLESS CAMBODIA

Randy Burns is the kind of unfulfilled, middle-aged guy you usually find in sports bars, strip clubs, and Judd Apatow movies. In Ross’ debut novel, Randy takes a worldwide journey to discover himself, find enlightenment, or get laid—which in his world are pretty much the same thing.

As the book opens, Randy is nearing 50 and has just been hit with the loss of a lucrative job and the breakup of his umpteenth relationship. Taking the advice of a self-help travel guru, he shakes up his life by booking himself on a trip to South America, South Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia. But his experience on each continent is about the same: he looks in vain for health clubs, deals with inedible food and insect-ridden hotel rooms, gets bored on sightseeing tours, and unsuccessfully hits on women. The closest thing to an epiphany comes when he finds cheap Jim Beam and a paid companion in Vietnam. Meanwhile he’s pestered by angry emails from his ex-girlfriend Ricki, whom he becomes convinced was the love of his life after all. The author sometimes writes too much like a stand-up comic, going for the easy laugh whenever the story threatens to get emotional. But a few poignant moments slip through, and this story of a flawed character’s midlife crisis becomes an easy one to relate to.

If you’re a lonely guy planning a geographical cure, this book should save you the money and trouble.

Pub Date: March 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-57962-490-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Permanent Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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