A well-written, fast-paced, and satisfying historical adventure.

H.M.S. BARABBAS

From the Further Adventures of Jim Hawkins series , Vol. 1

In this series opener and pastiche sequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1883), Jim Hawkins’ plans to become a doctor are scuttled when he’s forced into another seaborne adventure.

It’s four years after the events described in Treasure Island, said here to have been written as a memoir by James “Jim” Hawkins. Jim, now 17, has enough takings from his treasure and his book to make him a rich man. Most of the money is held in trust until Jim is 21, but it’s time to consider a profession. He decides that, like family friend Dr. David Livesey, he too will become a physician and help “make the world a better place.” Dr. Livesey arranges for an apprenticeship to his friend, Dr. John Taylor, a surgeon at St.  Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. While waiting for a boat to London, Jim can stay with Dr. Livesey’s sister in Plymouth. All well and good—but while in Plymouth, Jim is press-ganged aboard the ominously named HMS Barabbas and put to work as captain’s steward, becoming apprenticed to Dr. Wilequet, knowledgeable but usually drunk. Jim soon learns that not all pirates sail under the skull and bones, and that his own memoir—which mentions still-buried treasure—has put him in danger. He’ll need courage, wits, and luck to get back to dry land. Jeapes (The Xenocide Mission, 2018, etc.) offers a nicely judged take on a classic historical adventure novel. With an occasional slip into modern diction, Jeapes generally reproduces the speech rhythms and vocabulary of Stevenson’s novel successfully, and he provides vividly authentic descriptions of life (and death) aboard ship: “Jim just had a moment to see the water around the target erupt with white splashes, before the cloud of smoke that had burst from the guns blew back across the ship. A chemical stink tore at the back of his throat and stung his eyes.” Moments of humor, a little romance, and just desserts help enliven the sometimes-dark proceedings.

A well-written, fast-paced, and satisfying historical adventure.

Pub Date: June 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-07-305745-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2019

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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