A sometimes-thoughtful animal-oriented family romp through the Andes with a few sticking points.

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WONDER WORLD KIDS

THE CASE OF THE LOST LLAMAS

In this second children’s book series installment, three siblings travel to Peru with their veterinarian parents, who’ve been hired to locate missing llamas.

Marx’s (Wonder World Kids: The Mystery of the Dancing Horses, 2019) latest book opens with the Cook children—10-year-old Lilly, 8-year-old Fynn, and his twin sister, Celia—complaining about taking plane rides and cross-country bus trips, due to their parents’ job as consulting veterinarians. However, as the family arrives at Machu Picchu, the kids become excited to learn about the archaeological site and the creatures that live nearby. The veterinarians must lure a photogenic herd of llamas back to the popular tourist destination; little do they realize that the problem may be the tourists themselves. There are apparently no Peruvian llama experts who are qualified to take the case, so the Cooks consult with an anthropologist named Mrs. Curador. Her son, Maximo, is an excellent runner who teaches track athlete Fynn about the legacy of Inca chasquis runners and offers insights about Inca engineering as the kids explore the site. Bolded vocabulary words abound, and quick facts about Machu Picchu and its fauna round out the narrative, which finishes with a glossary. It’s unfortunate that the Peruvian characters, including scholars, make no mention of Spanish colonization; the glossary also implies that Inca culture has disappeared, although Quechua is still spoken. The observant Chef Chuchu, who offers essential insight into how area tourism has expanded, introduces Lilly, Fynn, and Celia to the traditional use of cuy, or guinea pigs, as meat animals. This latter shock inspires a thoughtful dialogue about cultural conceptions of animals as pets or meat. However, it’s followed by a guinea pig rescue operation by the Cooks, which undermines the message of tolerance. Animal lovers and young adventurers will appreciate the short chapters, sibling banter, and easy-to-read blocks of text, as well as debut artist Gallo’s black-and-white pen-and-ink illustrations. The book’s conclusion will prompt readers to consider the impact of tourism on the environment. That said, its depiction of white Americans helping Peruvians understand their own national animal seems unrealistic, to put it lightly. 

A sometimes-thoughtful animal-oriented family romp through the Andes with a few sticking points.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73234-241-5

Page Count: 187

Publisher: Noreaster Times LLC

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2020

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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