A crisp, stylized fantasy with plenty of surprises.

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ANGEL LAND

From the Angel Land series , Vol. 1

This debut YA novel sees an angel without wings strive in a competitive society and learn its secrets along the way.

Thirteen-year-old Gabriel Perez, unlike most people in Celestia, was born without wings. He’s been raised by his Grandma since his father abandoned the family early on and his mother died when he was 2 years old. Despite these setbacks, Gabriel hopes to one day become the ruling archangel of Celestia. But he must first gain admittance to the Holy Guild, where he may learn to master his superspeed ability, known as Quicksilver, and stand a chance competing for the ruling spot. Soon Gabriel discovers that he did not get into the Holy Guild, which means he’ll likely continue polishing wings for a living. But he does meet Raziel Kor, another teen, who explains that clip-on wings, invented by his father at Angel Innovates, can be purchased. Later, Gabriel gets a notice from the Z Guild that because another student withdrew, he’s been accepted. Gabriel then obtains wings, finally takes flight, and feels like his “soul has been set free.” While traveling home that night, Gabriel is accosted by a “cloaked, black angel” with claws and no visible face. Could this ravenlike creature be responsible for the angels missing from the Northern Quarter? In this fantasy series opener, Scott unfolds the layers of Celestia in neat stages, giving the characters and the narrative space to develop. Gabriel eventually joins the Holy Guild, but how this happens involves a single twist among many. Classmates Ariel Bluestone, Swati Mehra, and Cael Kutch become instrumental to the plot in their own ways. Gabriel’s easy access to his personal hero, Ruling Archangel Michael Hunter, illustrates the hermetic, though bracing, worldbuilding. Readers may chuckle at the ubiquity of “pagers,” which are essentially smartphones. It’s also vaguely fascistic that Celestia is ruled by whomever wins a fighting tournament. Nevertheless, the primary message is “Being different isn’t a curse….It’s a responsibility to bring only what you can do to the world.” The finale upsets the status quo, energizing the next volume.

A crisp, stylized fantasy with plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: March 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-09-132318-6

Page Count: 263

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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