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

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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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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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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