A promising start to a fantasy series that delivers a superb sense of fun and strong female characters who are both heroes...

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Moonburner

A debut secondary-world fantasy charts the story of two peoples at war across a backdrop of mysticism, celestial power, and forbidden love.

Kai is a Moonburner, born with the ability to channel the energy of the moon and release it in spectacular ways. But her kingdom, where the Sunburners rule, prohibits this practice, and she lives in fear with her family. When her secret is exposed, Kai is sent to the desert to die. While struggling to survive, she finds her spiritual guide, or seishen, a talking silver fox named Quitsu with extraordinary skills. The fox can telepathically communicate with other seishens, walk through walls, become invisible, and see in the dark. They are eventually rescued by Pura, a Moonburner. Taken to the capital of the Moonburners, Kai learns to master her immense powers. But the Moonburner queen, Airi, looks on her subjects more as weapons and harbors dark designs for the Sunburners she captures. The queen’s mad quest for supremacy may be her citizens’ undoing, unless Kai makes a dangerous alliance. Hiro, handsome prince of the Sunburners, seems inclined to listen. But is the spark between them destined enmity or something more? In either case, it could easily consume them both. Is the risk worth the reward, and can two peoples be saved from a devastating war? If anyone can do it, Kai can. Kai is a well-drawn, resilient female lead, her compassion as much a source of her dominance as her Moonburning. While her romantic subplot with Hiro turns out to be unsurprising, it is nonetheless sweet. This is true of most relationships in the book, romantic or platonic. They are the strength of the narrative and help make up for an otherwise unexceptional, if serviceable, plot. Kai’s relationship with Quitsu becomes particularly endearing. The fox’s quips and personality add a great sense of mischief to the narrative. And the worldbuilding enjoys a few outright fantastic flourishes, such as the giant bats the Moonburners use as flying steeds.

A promising start to a fantasy series that delivers a superb sense of fun and strong female characters who are both heroes and villains.

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-938985-99-7

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Soul Fire Press

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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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