SHIELD OF STARS

THE SHIELD, SWORD, AND CROWN, BOOK ONE

Bell opens a new series with an enjoyable tale of 14-year-old Weasel, formerly a criminal, trying to save his mentor from hanging. Years ago, Justice Holis caught Weasel picking his pocket but chose not to prosecute. When Holis is arrested for instigating a peaceful revolt of nobles against the country’s corrupt regent, Weasel’s arrested too, but luckily gets imprisoned in an escapable cell rather than the castle dungeon. He and cellmate Arisa, a stranger his own age, break out and leave the city. They seek the Hidden, people who practice an outlawed religion, and the Falcon, a murderous bandit with enough men, Weasel hopes, for a prison breakout. Arisa wants a revolution for justice while amoral Weasel cares only for Holis. Arisa’s tarot cards tell her things; Weasel is skeptical of them and of the supposed “earth magic” that will strengthen any king who can find a lost sword and shield. The closure is chaotic and slightly random, but Bell provides satisfying surprises and suspense along the way. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 27, 2007

ISBN: 1-4169-0594-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

AFTER ALL I'VE DONE

A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS

In the fine old tradition of James Marshall's Cut-Ups, Pilkey (God Bless the Gargoyles, 1996, etc.) introduces George Beard and Harold Hutchins, two usually responsible fourth-graders, as in ``whenever anything bad happened, George and Harold were usually responsible.'' Pranksters of the first order, George and Harold are finally nabbed by Mr. Krupp, the principal, whom they then hypnotize into believing he's Captain Underpants, a superhero of their own creation. Before they can stop him, he's out the window in cape and briefs, off to fight crime with Wedgie Power, taking on bank robbers, robot thieves—`` `You know,' said George, `up until now this story was almost believable!' ''—and ultimately the evil Dr. Diaper. Distracting Dr. Diaper with some ``fake doggy doo- doo,'' the boys save the planet, then hustle Krupp back into his clothes, just in time for—their next adventure, The Attack of the Talking Toilets, coming soon. Pilkey's stubby black-and-white cartoon figures appear on every page but can be animated in one chapter, thanks to ``Flip-O-Rama,'' where readers flip pages back and forth for the ``latest in cheesy animation technology.'' There'll be no silence in the library once readers get hold of this somewhat classier alternative to Barf-o-Rama books and their crude ilk. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-84627-2

Page Count: 121

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1997

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