A well-written, intelligent, exciting choice for readers looking to get hooked on a new fantasy series.

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BOOK 1 IN THE HELEN OF HOLLINGSWORTH TRILOGY

Smart, sensitive, socially awkward and trapped in the suburbs, Helen Connor finds purpose and excitement by fighting dragons in a mythical land.

Rodriguez Pratt’s debut novel, the first in an anticipated trilogy, tells how Helen’s love for the Glorious Dragonfighter book series leads to her entry into the warrior training program in Erwingdon, an apparently not-so-fictional land where devious, malevolent dragons are attempting to take over and rule. Helen’s advancement through her training is well-paced and entertaining. The primary strength of the book, however, lies in the intersections between Erwingdon and Helen’s “real world” home of Hollingsworth, Texas, a typical American town struggling with the loss of industry, encroachment of sprawl and sharp divisions of wealth. Like Helen, several of her schoolmates also have parallel lives in Erwingdon, a plot device that initially seems like an eye-rolling coincidence. This conceit, however, allows the author to examine the teens’ more familiar concerns—navigating the social atmosphere of high school, grappling with authority, dealing with parental expectations, worrying about the future—through the lens of life, death and saving the world. The novel divides its time evenly between Hollingsworth and Erwingdon, and in both places, the teenagers seem real and three-dimensional. While there’s no drug use or sex, there’s plenty of swearing and fighting and some alcohol, although Helen herself abstains. Rodriguez Pratt’s skilled writing ranges from snappy, believable dialogue to evocative descriptions of an abandoned oil refinery and a terrifying dragon cave. Several plot arcs end satisfyingly in this first book of the trilogy—Helen finishes her training and wins some battles in both worlds—but a few loose ends remain. What will become of the new sorcerer’s apprentice? How will Helen’s love interests resolve, both in Erwingdon and Hollingsworth? Who is behind the dragons’ evil plot? After getting to know Helen, her friends and her worlds, readers will want to find out.

A well-written, intelligent, exciting choice for readers looking to get hooked on a new fantasy series.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-0988707504

Page Count: 306

Publisher: Quail School Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy,...

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME

Britisher Haddon debuts in the adult novel with the bittersweet tale of a 15-year-old autistic who’s also a math genius.

Christopher Boone has had some bad knocks: his mother has died (well, she went to the hospital and never came back), and soon after he found a neighbor’s dog on the front lawn, slain by a garden fork stuck through it. A teacher said that he should write something that he “would like to read himself”—and so he embarks on this book, a murder mystery that will reveal who killed Mrs. Shears’s dog. First off, though, is a night in jail for hitting the policeman who questions him about the dog (the cop made the mistake of grabbing the boy by the arm when he can’t stand to be touched—any more than he can stand the colors yellow or brown, or not knowing what’s going to happen next). Christopher’s father bails him out but forbids his doing any more “detecting” about the dog-murder. When Christopher disobeys (and writes about it in his book), a fight ensues and his father confiscates the book. In time, detective-Christopher finds it, along with certain other clues that reveal a very great deal indeed about his mother’s “death,” his father’s own part in it—and the murder of the dog. Calming himself by doing roots, cubes, prime numbers, and math problems in his head, Christopher runs away, braves a train-ride to London, and finds—his mother. How can this be? Read and see. Neither parent, if truth be told, is the least bit prepossessing or more than a cutout. Christopher, though, with pet rat Toby in his pocket and advanced “maths” in his head, is another matter indeed, and readers will cheer when, way precociously, he takes his A-level maths and does brilliantly.

A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy, moving, and likely to be a smash.

Pub Date: June 17, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50945-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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