An intriguing but uneven fantasy aimed at Christians who find strength in their faith.

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LIGHT OF MINE

From the Towers of Light series , Vol. 1

This debut middle-grade fantasy uses the well-known Christian song “This Little Light of Mine” to spin a tale about three children fighting against an impending Darkness.

Lauren, Aiden, and Ethan have a happy life with their parents despite the fact that the Heathlands is being overrun by a mysterious force known as the Darkness. Their father, a Master Artificer with the Mighty Mercenaries, must leave home to fight against this evil invader. But before he does, he builds a Tower of Light, akin to a lighthouse, in their backyard. The parson from their church brings a lantern to place in the Tower. The family sets the lamp ablaze by singing “This Little Light of Mine” and keeps it going by remaining faithful to God through prayer and worship. Not long after the siblings’ father leaves, he is reported missing. Their mother must go after him, leaving Lauren in charge of her two younger brothers and tasking the siblings with maintaining the farm and keeping the light in the Tower burning brightly through their faithfulness. In the wake of their mother’s absence, the children discover that things in their town seem to be getting worse, as a mysterious bishop ousts the parson from their church and a vagabond in the trappings of a Mighty Mercenary begins to stir up trouble. What’s more, the kids have discovered weapons seemingly made for them to use in the fight against the Darkness. The Heathlands is a vivid, American frontierlike setting, marking it as unusual in the fantasy genre, which usually takes its cues from medieval Europe. Though Brokken’s series opener effectively focuses on each of the three children in turn, offering rich details, they lack complex characterization. The story portrays the kids as overly credulous and obedient. This is perhaps intended to distinguish them as good Christian role models, and the earnest tale is very much written for devout Christians. While the novel should appeal to that target audience, this strategy prevents the children from feeling like fully realized characters.

An intriguing but uneven fantasy aimed at Christians who find strength in their faith.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-69722-402-3

Page Count: 213

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Cheerfully engaging.

WHAT ALICE FORGOT

From Australian Moriarty (The Last Anniversary, 2006, etc.), domestic escapism about a woman whose temporary amnesia makes her re-examine what really matters to her.

Alice wakes from what she thinks is a dream, assuming she is a recently married 29-year-old expecting her first child. Actually she is 39, the mother of three and in the middle of an acrimonious custody battle with her soon-to-be ex-husband Nick. She’s fallen off her exercise bike, and the resulting bump on her head has not only erased her memory of the last 10 years but has also taken her psychologically back to a younger, more easygoing self at odds with the woman she gathers she has become. While Alice-at-29 is loving and playful if lacking ambition or self-confidence, Alice-at-39 is a highly efficient if too tightly wound supermom. She is also thin and rich since Nick now heads the company where she remembers him struggling in an entry-level position. Alice-at-29 cannot conceive that she and Nick would no longer be rapturously in love or that she and her adored older sister Elisabeth could be estranged, and she is shocked that her shy mother has married Nick’s bumptious father and taken up salsa dancing. She neither remembers nor recognizes her three children, each given a distinct if slightly too cute personality. Nor does she know what to make of the perfectly nice boyfriend Alice-at-39 has acquired. As memory gradually returns, Alice-at-29 initially misinterprets the scattered images and flashes of emotion, especially those concerning Gina, a woman who evidently caused the rift with Nick. Alice-at-29 assumes Gina was Nick’s mistress, only to discover that Gina was her best friend. Gina died in a freak car accident and in her honor, Alice-at-39 has organized mothers from the kids’ school to bake the largest lemon meringue pie on record. But Alice-at-29 senses that Gina may not have been a completely positive influence. Moriarty handles the two Alice consciousnesses with finesse and also delves into infertility issues through Elizabeth’s diary.

Cheerfully engaging.

Pub Date: June 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-15718-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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