The beginning of an elegant, spirited rebellion saga.

STARSWEPT

Fan (The Adventures of the Silicon Beeches, 2017, etc.) begins a new YA sci-fi series in which an alien civilization patronizes performing arts prodigies on Earth.

In 2268, 15-year-old Iris Lei plays viola at the Papilio School, near Charlotte, North Carolina. The passionate human musicians, dancers, and acrobats of Papilio are sponsored by telepathic aliens called the Adryil. The highest-ranked students become “Artists” and travel to distant Adrye, where they perform for decades to repay their training debt. Iris’ musician mother, Theia Lei, is one such Artist, but she’s had no contact with her for 11 years. Iris is studying her mother’s profile one night on the Wall of Glory on the quad when alarms sound, and the teen witnesses security bots chasing a boy with amber skin and azure eyes—an Adryil. Before the bots capture him, he presses an oval object into her hand and says, “Don’t let them take it from you.” Later, Iris activates the object, causing its etchings to glow green, but she’s unsure of its function. As she continues to struggle within Papilio’s ranking system, she begins to feel an odd presence. Eventually, the captured Adryil, Dámiul Verik, contacts her—via a screen on the object he gave her; he wants to train her in how to defend herself against telepathic mind control. In this crafty series opener, Fan presents a future in which 21st-century problems have become further entrenched; at one point Iris explains that “there really is no middle. Only the rich and those who are different shades of poor.” Fan’s twist on telepathy is engaging: because the Adryil can share feelings so completely, they make no art of their own. Her insights into the artistic drive are also poignant: “Even if I stood at the edge of the universe with only my viola…I’d play to oblivion,” observes Iris. The story’s second half develops into a space opera, revealing the Adryil’s darkest secrets and showing Iris risking her individuality for love. Ultimately, though, this is a sophisticated commentary on art, society, and how we perceive our own worth.

The beginning of an elegant, spirited rebellion saga.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-946202-27-7

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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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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