A fast-paced, imaginative story ideal for young readers who understand the urge to make music.


A girl transports to an alternate musical universe to save her friend in Zeidler’s (The Practice Room, 2009) mystery for young teens.

Three years ago, Zoey Browne’s world changed for the better when she discovered she could transport to a magical world called Musicland. There, she cultivated a talent for keyboard playing and reunited with her amnesiac, rock-star father. Now 15 years old, Zoey is spending her summer on tour with her famous dad. Weary of the road, she meets her best friend in Oshkosh, Wis., for an annual air show. When her friend Nathan disappears in a puff of purple smoke during a flight demonstration, Zoey must use her power to rescue him. She quickly realizes the morbid connection between music and aviation when she’s transported back to “The Day The Music Died.” Legends Buddy Holly, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Glenn Miller all died while flying, and now a nasty villain is trying to send Nathan to the same fate. The premise is certainly original, if far-fetched, but young readers with an interest in music will relish the trivia and lessons embedded in this story. Zoey develops as a musician while grappling with typical teen issues—her relationship with her father, a crush on a cute older boy, self-awareness—but heavy plot points dominate the latter half of the book. At one point, Zoey, Nathan and other time-traveling characters land in a Nazi concentration camp with a group of jazz-loving German youths. There they witness and endure great horrors. Through it all, Zeidler portrays music as an idealistic beacon of hope, the solution to all of life’s mysteries. This philosophy is explicitly stated many times but would have been better conveyed if subtly expressed through plot development.

A fast-paced, imaginative story ideal for young readers who understand the urge to make music.

Pub Date: May 30, 2012

ISBN: 9781600477324

Page Count: -

Publisher: Wasteland Press

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.


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.


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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