A familiar plot takes a winding, ultimately rewarding path.

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EMPEROR HON

DAWN OF THE AWAKENING BOOK 2

Springer (Zachary, 2017, etc.) presents book two in his sci-fi series about genetically enhanced teenagers.

Zachary sleeps little, ages quickly, and uses a wheelchair while living in a facility that trains children to be soldiers. Although Zachary would love to play baseball like a nondisabled kid, his fate is intertwined with those of the others in the facility he calls home, which doesn’t include any time on the field. The children may get treated to occasional movie night screenings of Avatar or Caddyshack, but their focus is on military tactics and the development of supernatural powers. The children learn from adults called Ascendants who help them develop gifts that range from telepathy to the ability to change the molecular structure of an object. This training culminates in a contest that pits two teams of children against each other. It will require quick thinking as well as the use of the powers the children have been working so hard to harness. One team is led by Zachary, who by that point no longer uses his wheelchair, while the other is led by his rival, a sinister youngster named Victor. Will Zachary and his team learn to harness their burgeoning abilities and work together? The idea of gifted youngsters joining forces may be a well-trod path, but the novel incorporates many nuanced issues (sometimes ham-handedly: Zachary uses a wheelchair, but he only realizes his goals upon leaving it). The Ascendants have their own special powers, but they are far from content with their situation. While the dialogue isn’t always inspired (“Teamwork will be the key to winning”), a substantive plot keeps the pages turning. Whether or not Zachary and his team win the competition (and whether or not teamwork is the key to that victory) takes a back seat to the uncanny, imaginative details of the world in which such a competition exists. Who exactly is this emperor everyone is serving and what are his plans? Such questions keep the story thrumming until the very end.

A familiar plot takes a winding, ultimately rewarding path.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68433-017-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2018

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A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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