A subtle love story that rewards patient readers with its quiet charms.

LYDIA

In this supernatural love story, when Ed Austin purchases a 200-year-old farm in Maine, it comes with a ghost that may haunt him in all the right ways.

Ed’s a simple guy. He drives a pickup truck, loves his German shepherd, Zelda, keeps in touch with his daughter, Clare, after the divorce, and loves designing typefaces. When his local junk shop gives him a tin box filled with elegant epistles, he finds a new obsession. The letters reveal the life of Lydia Starbird, a poetic soul and fellow dog lover who was being abused by her husband. She’s part of a long line of Starbirds, all buried in a cemetery near the family farmhouse, now for sale. Ed finds the letters filling his every thought, and after his beloved dog dies, Ed takes a leap by purchasing the Starbird farmhouse. While restoring it, he falls and injures himself in the woods, only to be rescued by a beautiful woman named Lydia. Asking around town about the rumor of the Starbird land being haunted, Ed hears that he’s not the first to be rescued by the woman. Though he dismisses the encounter as a fluke hallucination, Lydia’s ghost has other plans for them. Each may be exactly what the other needs for their heavy hearts to let go of the past. Much of the novel unfolds in picturesque forests and fields, and readers will be as charmed by the Maine landscape as Ed is. What’s more, Lydia’s impossible appearance never becomes gimmicky or trite. She’s fascinated by the flush toilet but doesn’t lose her ghostly grace. The novel falters, however, in the moments when it becomes heavily internal. Tens of pages are devoted simply to Ed reading Lydia’s letters. Not that much action should be expected from a man living alone with his dog, but it’s a relief when the letters end and Ed starts making decisions. Dog lovers especially will appreciate the attention paid to Ed and Zelda’s relationship, their tender exchanges and how Ed earnestly talks to her throughout the day. Ed’s a welcome bachelor who deserves the love he receives, however unnatural it may be.

A subtle love story that rewards patient readers with its quiet charms.

Pub Date: March 24, 2013

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Three Islands Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2013

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Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

NO REMORSE

Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.

Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.

Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0980806601

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Marq Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2012

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With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the...

OUT OF THE SHADOWS

Tragedy turns into triumph in Carlson’s debut novel about a young woman who regains her self-confidence after multiple losses and years of dejection.

Before readers meet 28-year-old Jamie Shire, she has already hit rock bottom. Jobless, she drinks away her days on her best friend’s couch as she wallows in loneliness. Among Jamie’s troubles: Her mother died when she was a child, the only man she ever loved wouldn’t reciprocate, her unborn daughter died, and she continuously feels rejected by her father and brother. After a chance encounter with a wealthy woman at a coffee shop, Jamie accepts a live-in job researching philanthropic causes at Fallow Springs Estate. Reaching out to the house staff and eventually working with Darfur refugees afford Jamie some valuable context for her own pain; she’s able to gain confidence as she learns to stop fearing rejection and start pursuing her dreams. Throughout the novel, the author skillfully creates mood. In the beginning, when Jamie borders on depression, her emotional touchiness and oversensitivity will create an uneasy feeling in readers. But as Jamie slowly regains confidence, readers will also feel increasingly optimistic. Alongside the main character’s emotional struggle is the struggle faced by Darfur refugees, although this plotline doesn’t advance too far; yet details from Jamie’s trip to the refugee camp in Chad—the types of beer served at the aid workers’ bar or a depiction of a young refugee sitting blank-faced and tied to a pole because he might run away—effectively transport readers to faraway places. Jamie’s story will interest readers, but, with a weak ending, the story leaves many unanswered questions. Who is Jamie’s wealthy employer? Does Jamie’s work in Chad help anyone but herself? And what of the conflict Jamie feels between herself and the refugees, between the haves and the have-nots?

With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the destination.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984991808

Page Count: 389

Publisher: First Snow Publishing House

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

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