An engaging story about kids who, through an outlandish animal, learn important lessons about understanding, empathy and...


A brother and sister meet a strange creature that helps them see the world in a new way.

Esme and George are siblings who argue a lot, but a suggestion by their caring grandfather that they go treasure hunting is about to change their relationship. He gives the two a spade and a metal detector, and they set out with their dog to start finding treasure. They haven’t been out long when the ground starts to shake—it’s not an earthquake, as they think. Instead, the two are lifted into the air on the back of a strange, huge animal. It’s the size of a whale and glows like a star, and the siblings nickname it “Skywhale.” Esme is able to telepathically communicate with it, but George, being an older teenager, can’t, so Esme relays details about the species to her brother. Skywhales have had a difficult relationship with humans, she learns, and they live in Iceland, where there’s no military to shoot at them as they fly through the air. Their Skywhale whisks them on a trip through the sky, where they see airplanes flying, meet people looking for UFOs, help a beached whale and soothe him until the tide comes in and he’s washed back out to sea. They also visit a crystal cave in Iceland, where there are hundreds of other skywhales, and make use of their treasure-hunting tools to find an old Viking treasure. But it’s not all harmless: On a visit to London, where they fly by Big Ben, fighter jets are deployed when the skywhale is spotted, and Esme and George are at risk. The story is an engaging one, as both kids are relatable—an older brother who thinks he’s a little bit cooler than his inquisitive younger sister. In the well-written story, Richards has a strong, descriptive style that’s easy to read: “One particular bracelet caught the light….[I]t was made of gold that still shone yellow in the sunlight. Esme picked it up to look at it. The gold had been engraved to make the bangle look like a snake that was swallowing its tail.” Readers will eagerly tag along on this adventurous ride.

An engaging story about kids who, through an outlandish animal, learn important lessons about understanding, empathy and relationships.

Pub Date: July 15, 2014


Page Count: 83

Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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