Another giddy ride, with no end in sight.

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MINI SHOPAHOLIC

Plucky über-consumer Rebecca Brandon has her work cut out for her as mum to tiny terror Minnie.

With a job she loves (personal shopper, natch), happy marriage and an adorable little daughter, Becky Brandon certainly seems to have it all. Sure, two-year-old Minnie is a bit of a handful. Her spirited behavior gets them banned from various shopping malls. And Becky’s PR whiz hubby Luke might be a tad overworked and distracted. But things are generally good, until the global financial crisis has to come along and really put a damper on Becky’s lifestyle. So as a money-saving concession to her husband, she agrees to stop shopping until she has worn everything in her wardrobe at least three times. Torture! She also throws herself into a new project—planning an over-the-top surprise birthday party for Luke. With visions of fire-eaters, jugglers and a live band, it is clear that Becky’s desires don’t mesh with financial reality. But when has that ever stopped her? She enlists Luke’s trusted assistant Bonnie into her schemes, and tries to “barter” party supplies for slightly used Marc Jacobs bags. Meanwhile, she sees an opportunity at work and starts to offer a “discreet” shopping service for her wealthy clients, where she disguises their purchases in computer paper boxes. It is a big hit, although she neglects to tell her bosses about the subterfuge. And then Luke’s estranged mother, the imperious (and fabulously rich) Elinor, reappears and wants to have a relationship with her granddaughter. The two meet, but well-meaning Becky cannot tell Luke about this, adding to all the many things she is keeping from him. But he has a few secrets as well, and getting him to his own party will take all of Becky’s considerable skills. Chock-full of the kind of sitcom shenanigans Kinsella’s fans expect, this latest in the series (Shopaholic & Baby, 2007, etc.) keeps the silly plot moving along. A little more growth from her iconic heroine, though, might have won over new readers as well.

Another giddy ride, with no end in sight.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-34204-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Dial Press

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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