An illuminating look at an influential artistic period, which may well inspire readers to pick up their own pen or...

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YOUNG PRB

A NOVEL OF THE PRE-RAPHAELITE BROTHERHOOD

In Lee’s novel, set in Victorian London and based on real events, a group of rebellious young artists battles the repercussions of their refusal to conform.

It’s 1848, and William Holman Hunt has just been accepted to study at the prestigious London Academy of Art. However, he resents the overly prettified, sentimental landscapes that litter the annual Academy Exhibition. He wants to create art that imitates life—all the color, confusion and even ugliness. A few like-minded young men, most notably John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, share Hunt’s views, and together they form a group called the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Like any revolutionary group, the PRB has plenty of naysayers, including the vehemently jealous traditionalist Frank Stone and his more famous compatriot Charles Dickens; Lee litters her novel with mentions of these and other notable artistic celebrities of the period, such as Keats, Tennyson and Wilkie Collins. Her novel—a quick read despite the hefty page count—features many detailed descriptions of the Brotherhood’s artwork, and it could have benefited from an illustrated appendix with paintings shown rather than merely described. Nonetheless, Lee has a talent for making the minutest artistic details sound interesting. She also has a historian’s accurate eye for the period, but she doesn’t allow those details to bog down the story and turn it into a dry, purely factual text. The artists of the Brotherhood are portrayed with distinct personalities, styles and beliefs, which, in the novel’s central dramatic vein, affects their struggle to remain united in the face of adversity. Anyone interested in the culture of Victorian London will find plenty to celebrate.

An illuminating look at an influential artistic period, which may well inspire readers to pick up their own pen or paintbrush.

Pub Date: June 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0985027001

Page Count: 520

Publisher: April Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the...

OUT OF THE SHADOWS

Tragedy turns into triumph in Carlson’s debut novel about a young woman who regains her self-confidence after multiple losses and years of dejection.

Before readers meet 28-year-old Jamie Shire, she has already hit rock bottom. Jobless, she drinks away her days on her best friend’s couch as she wallows in loneliness. Among Jamie’s troubles: Her mother died when she was a child, the only man she ever loved wouldn’t reciprocate, her unborn daughter died, and she continuously feels rejected by her father and brother. After a chance encounter with a wealthy woman at a coffee shop, Jamie accepts a live-in job researching philanthropic causes at Fallow Springs Estate. Reaching out to the house staff and eventually working with Darfur refugees afford Jamie some valuable context for her own pain; she’s able to gain confidence as she learns to stop fearing rejection and start pursuing her dreams. Throughout the novel, the author skillfully creates mood. In the beginning, when Jamie borders on depression, her emotional touchiness and oversensitivity will create an uneasy feeling in readers. But as Jamie slowly regains confidence, readers will also feel increasingly optimistic. Alongside the main character’s emotional struggle is the struggle faced by Darfur refugees, although this plotline doesn’t advance too far; yet details from Jamie’s trip to the refugee camp in Chad—the types of beer served at the aid workers’ bar or a depiction of a young refugee sitting blank-faced and tied to a pole because he might run away—effectively transport readers to faraway places. Jamie’s story will interest readers, but, with a weak ending, the story leaves many unanswered questions. Who is Jamie’s wealthy employer? Does Jamie’s work in Chad help anyone but herself? And what of the conflict Jamie feels between herself and the refugees, between the haves and the have-nots?

With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the destination.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984991808

Page Count: 389

Publisher: First Snow Publishing House

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

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A fun adventure for anyone who’d love to see a few spunky kids trick some bad-news pirates.

FREEBOOTER'S PARADISE

A DANGEROUS TANDEM ADVENTURE

Pirates, magic and a secret society collide in this fantasy middle-grade novel.

This fast-paced novel follows best friends Cameron and Miguel, who are looking for adventure while cruising through their Arizona town on a tandem bicycle. They find it when an enchanted pirate ship flies overhead and lands in a convenience store’s parking lot. The ship sets up as a shop, which uses an intoxicating mist to trick customers into buying overpriced sea-themed merchandise, while simultaneously making them defenseless against pickpocket pirates. Cameron has bigger problems when Blackbeard, the ship’s intimidating captain, decides that the tween has stolen a powerful ring that would allow him to shape-shift into any person he imagines. Raising the stakes, the pirates kidnap Miguel and force him to perform grunt work with no chance of release. Cameron enlists the help of his best gal pal, Marcella, to free Miguel, but their mission takes a surprising turn when they discover a secret society protecting an underground gold mine. Author Loge keeps the action coming as the trio encounter a nasty doppelganger, a sinister talking parrot and a gang of violent pirates. The breezy writing ensures that the story doesn’t get stale. With so many quick twists and turns, young readers could get lost along the way, but Loge clearly explains all the unexpected changes to keep his audience on track. In addition to a sprinkling of black-and-white illustrations, Cameron’s easy friendship with Miguel and Marcella keeps things light and youthful when the tale could have been bogged down with one too many odd, mystical events. The heart of the book—a young boy as the chosen one who must defeat an evil enemy—has been a common YA plotline in recent years, but Loge’s energetic style makes the theme seem fresh.

A fun adventure for anyone who’d love to see a few spunky kids trick some bad-news pirates.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2012

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