A richly detailed, compelling story about the power of love.

READER

DAUGHTER OF TIME: BOOK 1

An original take on various sci-fi motifs that meditates on themes of love and humanity.

Traversing time and space, Stebbins’ space opera follows the long journey of a singularly gifted Earth girl named Ambra Dawn, who might just be the savior of the entire universe. Even as a young girl among humans, Ambra was different. Odd and strange, she possessed an ability coveted by all alien species: a gift to see the future and the past, the result of a tumor growing in her brain. Unbeknownst to the inhabitants of Earth, an insectlike alien race called the Dram rules from the shadows. Influencing culture and politics, they’re here to guide human evolution toward producing Readers—those, like Ambra, who possess the ability to guide Dram ships through the Orbs. With tendrils reaching out, Orbs allow for instantaneous space travel, but what the Orbs truly are is unknown and debated. Ambra’s idyllic life in farm country is destroyed when humans working for the Dram come and take her. In an institution, she’s tested, beaten and experimented on. Horrific surgeries mutilate and blind her, and her skull is removed to give her tumor room to grow. The only escape Ambra has is to travel through time, back into history on her own to learn and experience life. But, since the Dram don’t realize she has surpassed every other Reader in terms of power and ability, Ambra is taken from Earth and sold into slavery. Stebbins does an exceptional job creating unique, detailed alien races, from the dreadful, cruel Dram to the octopuslike Sortax who live in water and the Xix, who rescue Ambra from enslavement. Long, lean, four-armed, intelligent and kind, the Xix work to prevent cruelty against the lesser races. Two Xixians, Waythrel and Thel, are especially strong alien characters who act as guides for Ambra, helping her develop her abilities. Although the first half of the novel suffers from too much telling and too little action, the second half comes alive. Ambra, able to travel through Orbs like no one before, takes on the Dram in a dramatic conflict that leads to her facing the Dram emperor. In order to free the universe of the Dram scourge, Ambra must make a heart-wrenching choice: the universe or Earth. Eventually, the novel takes a slightly odd turn toward metafiction, as Ambra informs the reader that they, too, have a part in saving the Earth.

A richly detailed, compelling story about the power of love.

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0989000444

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Twice Pi Press

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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