A gripping tale that will leave readers wondering what death-defying feat the hero will perform in the next series entry.

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NOT SO GONE

Be careful what you wish for is the message at the heart of this techno-thriller.

In this second installment of Levin’s (Not So Dead, 2017) series, technologist Sam Sunborn is “living” in the virtual world he shares with his partner, Frank Einstein, where their essences have been residing since both were killed by terrorists. But Sam has to find a way to assume a physical form after his son, Evan, is kidnapped by henchmen of The Cub, the younger brother of a terrorist killed in the series’ first volume. That’s because The Cub has nefarious plans to attack the United States, and he needs some way to take Sam and Frank out of the picture. So Sam and two associates use an untested technique to place his consciousness inside the body of Juan Valiente, a drugged inmate at a Mexican asylum. The problem is that Juan’s consciousness is also still inside his body. They have to find a way to coexist: “We’ll figure this out.…I’ve made some mistakes and this might be one of the bigger ones, but for now we’re in this together,” Sam asserts. Sam/Juan works with Department of Homeland Security agents Rich Little and Michelle Hadar to rescue Evan and determine and disrupt The Cub’s plan, which involves sabotaging the American food supply. The most terrifying part of Levin’s narrative is that most of the science he employs is now feasible, other than shifting people’s essences in and out of a virtual world. But when the action hums like it does here, readers won’t stop too long to ponder the technology. Sam and his allies have to play catch-up with The Cub, who has the advantage of having a hacker inside the DHS. Unfortunately, Sam moves a lot slower in his new body. Fresh allies are introduced while others are lost. This novel reads much shorter than it is, as the author keeps his ample cast of characters on the run trying to prevent doomsday. This is another winner for Levin that admirably balances the pluses and minuses of scientific advances in the service of good and evil.

A gripping tale that will leave readers wondering what death-defying feat the hero will perform in the next series entry.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-578-41768-4

Page Count: 374

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2019

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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