A little bit of thriller, a little bit of romance make this coming-of-age story a lot of fun.

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KIDNAPPED INNOCENCE

The kidnapping of the daughter of a prominent Mexican banker forces the young woman to face uncomfortable truths about her sheltered upbringing.

Beautiful Ximena Villarreal, with curves in all the right places and a dancer’s legs, is practically Mexican royalty, the only daughter of one of the richest bankers in the country. She lives with few cares, insulated from the hard truths of the less fortunate, until one evening when her mother’s car is run off the road, their chauffeur killed, and Ximena kidnapped by a quartet of beastly criminals. Unfortunately for the band, just moments before her abduction, Ximena had reconnected with her dashing, judo-trained cousin, Alejandro Montalban, their short reunion reigniting a passion between them that spurs Alejandro to stage a dramatic rescue. These events force Ximena to look at her life anew and for the first time ask herself what she wants, and whether her boyfriend Tommy, with his ambition and model good looks, and her father, who wishes to move the couple to Spain, truly have her best interests in mind. Alejandro seems to offer an alternative, sharing with her his plans to create quality affordable housing for Mexico’s neediest. But he is her cousin, and a dark family secret may make any future together, as friends or more, impossible. In her novel, Galindo (Habitantes de Mi Tiempo, 2009) dresses up Ximena’s coming-of-age story with a distinctive Hispanic flair and culture, both in the opulence of its protagonist’s high-class upbringing and the natural beauty of the more rural areas outside of Mexico City, from the forests to the beaches. It’s as easy to fall in love with the country as it is Ximena herself. Her quirks make up for any immaturity, with her affinity for Tootsie Rolls with Champagne as charming as it is telling, and her bravery under the threat of violence and rape marking her as no pushover. Most of the characters in the novel are fairly one-note, from Ximena’s domineering father and manipulative boyfriend to the salivating kidnappers. But the interactions between Ximena and Alejandro shine, their rapport exuberant and flirty, allowing them to grow beyond the legs and abs that seem to draw the two together.

 A little bit of thriller, a little bit of romance make this coming-of-age story a lot of fun.

Pub Date: March 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61244-441-3

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Halo International Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2017

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

A WEEK AT THE SHORE

A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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