Book List

Kirkus Indie Books of the Month - September 2014

A vivid, intimate memoir that, with great clarity and attention to detail, tells an unforgettable survival story.

AFTER THE WIND

1996 EVEREST TRAGEDY—ONE SURVIVOR'S STORY

In 1996, the worst disaster in recorded Mt. Everest climbing history occurred when, due to a combination of factors, eight people died on a single expedition. This memoir is Kasischke’s personal account of how he survived.

Hours before the tragedy, Kasischke’s reservations about the expedition were mounting. Too many people were climbing the mountain at once, and despite some unnecessary delays, the leader, Rob Hall, had continued to lead the climb, although the team wouldn’t be able to reach the top and return down before nightfall—a decision so poor that Kasischke and others blame it for the climbers’ deaths rather than the treacherous storm they faced that night. Kasischke is alive to tell his tale because he chose to turn around at a critical juncture, and he admits that he shouldn’t have even gone that far. He was trapped for days once the storm hit. The author dramatically recounts being frozen, dehydrated and snow blind and says that he relied on his love for his wife and his faith to get him through. It seems that Kasischke has chosen to relive this nightmare in order to come to grips with it and to honor those who didn’t make it, as well as to add a new perspective to a tale most people know via journalist Jon Krakauer, whose very presence, Kasischke implies, played an inadvertent role in what happened. Kasischke, however, never comes across as bitter or recriminatory but simply honest. He also pays tribute to his wife, Sandy, who, despite not being physically there, was a very real presence for him throughout the ordeal. The hand-drawn illustrations by Jane Cardinal also help the reader visualize the people and environs.

A vivid, intimate memoir that, with great clarity and attention to detail, tells an unforgettable survival story.

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1940877006

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Good Hart Publishing, LC

Review Posted Online: July 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

Poetic fantasy tales that will mesmerize readers of any age.

The Legends of Lynquest

SEARCH FOR GREATNESS & SECRET OF THE CHILD & TALE OF TWO FACES

This YA fantasy debut anthologizes three novellas in which heroes search for treasure to help stop an evil sorceress.

Young Tobias lives in the cozy town of Summers Glen. One day, after escaping from some bullies, he encounters a strange old man who invites him to hear a tale about Lynquest the Great. “But those stories are just fairy tales,” Tobias argues, before he settles in to listen. So begins Search for Greatness, the first of three adventures detailing the life of Lynquest, a hero who starts out as a 12-year-old tanner’s son named Tiny. After the youngster removes a sword from a dragon’s hide, he and the creature become friends for life. Afterward, Tiny decides to test his manhood by traveling to the city of Salizar. His perilous undertakings soon raise his esteem in the eyes of Ironcrest Castle’s royalty. During these years, Tiny learns about a sacred scepter and four enchanted rings that are capable of uniting mankind. Every thousand years, however, a wicked sorceress named Salina attempts to gain control of the scepter and, through it, the world. Secret of the Child and Tale of Two Faces follow Lynquest and his friends as they fight to protect mankind. These magnificently imagined tales within tales show that debut author Hess knows and passionately loves classical fantasy. Tolkien himself might have been proud to have written these lines: “There is strength out here in the silence of nature. Here, a man’s thoughts can grow strong and tall like trees and his spirit is at peace.” The adventures are dense with mythic characters—such as Subakai the dragon and Queen Emily of the Eternal Rose—who accomplish equally mythic feats. In a thrilling sequence reminiscent of the 1967 film The Jungle Book, Lynquest and his boy companion, Sebastian, face enormous snakes known as Malice and Avarice. But for all the swashbuckling, Hess’ overall theme of hope remains paramount, for it is “[l]ike moonbeams on the surface of the water, so easily broken by a ripple but always returning.”

Poetic fantasy tales that will mesmerize readers of any age.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481964531

Page Count: 274

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

A hugely entertaining techno-magic adventure novel.

Something Greater than Artifice

In Speegle’s (Pen and Platen, 2011) novel set in a fantastic future world, technologically enhanced craftsmen face a deadly new threat.

As the story opens, a young man named Gregor loses his home, his best friend and very nearly his life in the hinterlands at the fringe of the Tech Republic. He and his friend Anatoly are skilled “Artificers” who use small, handheld computers to tap into a “Feed” of neutral matter, which they electronically resequence to create things to suit their needs. But their skills don’t protect them when they’re attacked by Frontmen—soulless, interchangeable minions of an all-devouring malevolence called SILOS. Gregor’s life is only saved thanks to the appearance of a woman named Ros, who hails from another dystopian enclave: the musicians’ haven called State of Play. Ros uses technology and her considerable fighting skills to rescue Gregor and take him on her quest to fight SILOS by enlisting the aid of yet another enclave, the Writers’ Bloc. There, the people prize the written word above all else, and a text called the Book may hold the key to victory. Along the way, Gregor and Ros squabble (at one point, he sarcastically calls her “Ros the Unnecessarily Taciturn”), but she gradually fills him in on the perilous state of the world outside the Tech Republic, her own past and training in the State, and the rise of the evil quagmire of SILOS. The author conveys most of this information in prolonged flashback segments, which he handles with a great deal of skill. The technology in Speegle’s world has morphed and sharpened into something akin to magic, and the Tech Republic, in particular, is impeccably imagined. He also makes the various sects’ worldviews believably distinct. Overall, his crafting of his characters is sensitive and, at times, winningly funny.

A hugely entertaining techno-magic adventure novel.

Pub Date: April 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-692-26050-0

Page Count: 478

Publisher: &yet

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

A wonderful slice of history that animates mid-19th century Texas.

STEIN HOUSE

Historical fiction is anything but boring in McIlvain’s (Legacy, 2012, etc.) latest work.

The year is 1853; Helga Heinrich, a German immigrant, has just arrived at the port town of Indianola, Texas, with her four children. Her husband, Max, should have been there, too, but he leapt off the pier at the beginning of the voyage and drowned. Although Helga misses Max, she is secretly relieved that she no longer has to deal with his alcoholism. She hopes that with the help of her sister Amelia, who came to Indianola years ago and married a doctor, the children will have a better life. As history sweeps through Texas—including the Civil War, yellow fever, drought, hurricanes, and newfangled inventions like railroads and washing machines—Helga finds herself running Stein House, a prosperous boardinghouse with a diverse clientele that includes a fussy warehouse owner, an abolitionist sea captain and a freed slave. McIlvain faces the South’s history of slavery head-on, contrasting the Germans’ distaste for the practice with the pro-slavery land they now live in. It makes for a fascinating glimpse into a world that isn’t as black and white as it might seem, as the Heinrichs are vehemently against slavery yet still feel fierce pride in and loyalty to their new home of Texas when it secedes from the Union. When Reconstruction occurs, McIlvain skillfully illuminates the complex events that bred resentment in the South, showing everything from the unique points of view of Southerners who are also recent immigrants. Although the novel (which won first place for general fiction from the Texas Association of Authors in 2014) occasionally veers off into a bit of a history lesson, this is no dry textbook—Helga and her family’s successes, hardships and heartbreak show history from a personal perspective.

A wonderful slice of history that animates mid-19th century Texas.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-1491709535

Page Count: 302

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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