An absorbing, stellar series introduction with elements of fantasy and horror.

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EMBER BURNING

From the Trinity Forest series , Vol. 1

In Alsever’s debut and young adult trilogy launch, a Colorado high school senior realizes the utopia she’s found may in actuality be an inescapable nightmare.

Since her parents’ fatal car accident, Ember Trouvé has become a loner. She avoids social interaction and has even distanced herself from her bestie, Maddie. Ember happens to find a peculiar coin someone has apparently dropped. On the coin is written Trinity Forest, a place swirling with rumors of hauntings and witchcraft. The coin also bears a pyramid akin to the one adorning the cover of her late mother’s “Crazy Woman Notebook.” Ember feels obliged to visit Trinity Forest, populated primarily by teenagers. They welcome, feed, and clothe her in their mansion. When Ember returns home later that day, she learns she’s been missing for a month. But no one in her hometown is especially welcoming, so Ember heads back to the forest. Unfortunately, her second stay is rife with shocking revelations; for example, someone claiming they’ve been in Trinity Forest for decades looks like a teenager. Ember decides she wants to leave for good, but it’s quickly evident that getting out of Trinity Forest may be impossible. Ember is a fascinating protagonist. She, for one, blames herself for her parents’ deaths (details initially remain a mystery) and has synesthesia; she sees music as colors. Though she begins as a sullen teen, the character evolves as she sees the downside of isolating herself from loved ones. Alsever accommodates Ember’s synesthesia with colorful prose that ignites other senses as well. A dehydrated Ember sees images of a “rushing cool stream. Pools of water. Tall clear pitchers of it with floating ice cubes.” Although this book makes it clear what’s happening in Trinity Forest, there are still lingering questions by the end and plenty of reasons for readers to seek out Book 2.

An absorbing, stellar series introduction with elements of fantasy and horror.

Pub Date: May 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5212-3945-2

Page Count: 346

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2019

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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