A thin but quick-moving tale of a princess who becomes a pirate.



From the Raven and the Phoenix Pirates series , Vol. 1

Pluchino (Saraynea: Return to the Frostpeak Mountains Territory, 2017, etc.) tells the story of two red pandas—one a princess, the other a pirate—who join up in this middle-grade fantasy series starter.

Raven, the red panda princess of Frostpeak Mountains Territory, has proven very good at beating up any pirates that dare set oar in the harbor. She’s starting to think maybe she needs more of a challenge. Many entries are the same, she notices as she looks over her diary. “I go to the harbor, fight with the pirates, and come back home.…I want to write about something big and awesome…like a real adventure.” Imagine her surprise when then next time she goes down to the harbor, she is captured by pirate hunters mistaking her for a pirate herself! They lock her up aboard their ship, where she meets fellow captive Xifeng, another red panda and a real-life pirate. Xifeng helps Raven escape from the boat under the cover of night, though the two hardly trust one another. Xifeng decides to help Raven get back home—if only in anticipation of reward. As they travel together, Raven realizes that there are many pirate hunters in the world who behave unethically…and even a few pirates who aren’t so bad. When they reunite with Xifeng’s crew, the pirates ask Raven to help them find a population of phoenixes that they believe to be in danger. Princess Raven has finally found the adventure she’s dreamed of, but is she up to the challenge? Pluchino’s prose, like the story, is generally simple but occasionally violent: “The deer and hare who kept Xifeng tied up brought her into the open space. The hare punched her hard on her wound again, forcing Xifeng to her knees as they retreated back through the wooden gate that closed behind them.” While there is an impressive array of species represented (sun bears, clouded leopards, lynxes), the landscapes and physical geography are only lightly described. Though light on character development, worldbuilding, and plot complexity, the book delivers lots of adventure in the form of anthropomorphic animals fighting, sailing ships, and the like.

A thin but quick-moving tale of a princess who becomes a pirate.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-79764-637-4

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2019

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


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.


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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