A fine long-lost treasure story featuring equal amounts of adventure and exhilaration.


The Curse of the Crystal Kuatzin

A British man goes on a quest to stop a family curse and a worldwide plague in Landsberg’s debut adventure novel.

Jason is given a 125-year-old letter from his great-great-great-grandfather that implores his family to take a treasure, stashed in his own house, back to Brazil to halt a longtime curse. Along the way, Jason, his parents, Terry and Alison, and his sister, Lexy, discover what may be a cure for a lethal disease, caused by Amazonian macaws, which has recently hit America. The novel has a leisurely pace, but its slow tempo often works well, as much of the story is a mystery: Jason realizes that the trunk of treasures, sealed in 1879, contains materials dating from 1900 and later, and Alison slowly translates glyphs on parchment sheets. The story also incorporates touches of fantasy, particularly the titular relic, a statue so powerful that the family is warned not to stare at it. Naturally, they eventually witness its power when they finally make it to the Brazilian rain forest, along with bird disease specialist Dr. Hilary Fitzgerald. The author focuses more on teenagers Jason and Lexy than on their parents, and they are both admirable characters, although Jason can be a bit inconsistent; his remarkable intelligence, aptly displayed in his research on obscure birds, is jarringly offset by his immaturity (“Isn’t this cool, Mum?”). However, Roly, a young thief and con artist who finds a scrapbook about the treasure and tracks down the family, steals the story; although the author establishes him as an antagonist trying to blackmail the Hirleys, his cockney lilt, presented phonetically (“It’s always somefink, innit?”) gives him more than a little charm, particularly as he solidifies a potential romance with Lexy.

A fine long-lost treasure story featuring equal amounts of adventure and exhilaration.

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482635140

Page Count: 428

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2014

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Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst—the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). But Charlie’s no rich kid: the third child in a middle-class family, he attends public school in western Pennsylvania, has an older brother who plays football at Penn State, and an older sister who worries about boys a lot. An epistolary novel addressed to an anonymous “friend,” Charlie’s letters cover his first year in high school, a time haunted by the recent suicide of his best friend. Always quick to shed tears, Charlie also feels guilty about the death of his Aunt Helen, a troubled woman who lived with Charlie’s family at the time of her fatal car wreck. Though he begins as a friendless observer, Charlie is soon pals with seniors Patrick and Sam (for Samantha), stepsiblings who include Charlie in their circle, where he smokes pot for the first time, drops acid, and falls madly in love with the inaccessible Sam. His first relationship ends miserably because Charlie remains compulsively honest, though he proves a loyal friend (to Patrick when he’s gay-bashed) and brother (when his sister needs an abortion). Depressed when all his friends prepare for college, Charlie has a catatonic breakdown, which resolves itself neatly and reveals a long-repressed truth about Aunt Helen. A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02734-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: MTV/Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.


In O’Gorman’s YA debut, two best friends try to fool people into thinking that they’re in love—and then discover a new facet of their relationship.

Sally Spitz is a frizzy-haired 17-year-old girl with a charming zeal for three things: Harry Potter (she’s a Gryffindor), Star Wars, and getting into Duke University. During her senior year of high school, she goes on a slew of miserable dates, set up by her mother and her own second-best–friend–turned-matchmaker, Lillian Hooker. Sally refuses to admit to anyone that she’s actually head over Converses in love with her longtime best friend, a boy named Baldwin Eugene Charles Kent, aka “Becks.” After a particularly awkward date, Sally devises a plan to end Lillian’s matchmaking attempts; specifically, she plans to hire someone to act as her fake boyfriend, or “F.B.F.” But before Sally can put her plan into action, a rumor circulates that Sally and Becks are already dating. Becks agrees to act as Sally’s F.B.F. in exchange for a box of Goobers and Sally’s doing his calculus homework for a month. Later, as they hold hands in the hall and “practice” make-out sessions in Becks’ bedroom, their friendship heads into unfamiliar territory. Over the course of this novel, O’Gorman presents an inviting and enjoyable account of lifelong friendship transforming into young love. Though the author’s reliance on familiar tropes may be comforting to a casual reader, it may frustrate those who may be looking for a more substantial and less predictable plot. A number of ancillary characters lack very much complexity, and the story, overall, would have benefited from an added twist or two. Even so, however, this remains a largely engaging and often endearing debut. 

A familiar but heartfelt romance for easygoing readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64063-759-7

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Entangled: Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

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