A fantasy with tremendous heart and a magisterial execution.

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WHERE DRAGONWOOFS SLEEP AND THE FADING CREEPS

This debut YA novel transports three teenage heroes to a magical realm that may vanish before they can save it from a despotic ruler.

Thirteen-year-old Ben Young has awoken in a forest beneath a red sky. He heads for a clearing, where he meets a girl collecting glowing flowers. She says she’s protecting them against something called the Fading. Ben next encounters a pair of faeries who lure him into a net that dangles him over a boiling swamp. Luckily, two elves save him from the faeries with arrows. Accompanying the elves is Marcus Cooper, a 13-year-old boy, who explains that the Fading is causing the spread of white nothingness on this world, Meridia. But Ben’s watch—a gift from his father that has stopped at midnight—might be the key to halting the Fading. Meanwhile, at the Blue Glass Palace, 13-year-old Queen Regent Avery Hopewell, like Ben, remembers little of how she comes and goes from Meridia. Fate has placed her in the path of Ben and Marcus but also in the way of the evil Sovereign, who plans to dominate all. Can the three teens reach the Creator’s Citadel and preserve the multifaceted beauty of Meridia? In this novel, Massey evokes the charm and psychedelic whimsy of classic fantasies like The Last Unicorn and films like Labyrinth. The heroes may pop in and out of Meridia via dreams, but their waking lives are just as dramatic as battling dark armies. Avery, for example, lives in a group home and still occasionally wets the bed yet has the intellect to be a catch for any foster family. As the teens tackle fantasy evil, they gain the confidence to address bullies and other real-world problems. The author’s dialogue, a buffet of snark and riddles, consistently augments the imaginative story. The dragonwoofs, a trio of underwhelming winged dogs who accompany the group, prompt Tamerlane the elf to ask, “How will these creatures learn to use their abilities if you keep sheltering them?” In this striking tale, Massey encourages parents to let children make mistakes as they explore their talents and identities.

A fantasy with tremendous heart and a magisterial execution.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-980944-39-3

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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