''With Astonish Me, (Shipstead) plunges readers into a wildly different but equally arcane sect of skinny, high-strung humans: professional ballet dancers. In their world, ability, not breeding, determines the caste system which doesn't bode well for the romance of young corps member Joan Joyce and star principal Arslan Rusakov, the dazzling defector she helps smuggle into the U.S from pre-perestroika Russia.''
''Donoghue builds her world so well that Frog's first half goes by like a music-box waltz. It starts to stumble a little, though, when Blanche, who has a mustache-twirling scoundrel of a lover and some very complicated maternity issues, makes choices better suited to a damsel in a dime-store novel.''
''Kaysen, who famously recounted her time in a psychiatric ward in the best-selling 1993 memoir Girl, Interrupted, mines her young life once again with diminishing returns.''
''Thirty Girls takes a real-life atrocity the 1996 abduction of a group of Ugandan schoolgirls by the Lord's Resistance Army and novelizes it through the eyes of two starkly different narrators: 15-year-old Esther Akello, one of the "stolen ones," and thirtysomething New York writer Jane Wood, who comes to Africa to escape her existential malaise as much as to document what has happened there.''
What do Nashville princesses, naughty child stars, hirsute rock dudes, and rappers have in common? It's all in a name; we compare current hits to the older ones they share titles with