An enjoyable novel of spiritual mystery and adventure—well-plotted, intelligent and deeply moving.

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SIDING STAR

A detective inspector joins forces with an Anglican priest and an astronomer to thwart a shadowy organization’s sinister plans in this debut suspense thriller.

In England’s Exeter Cathedral, a man with a strange black book is found dead in front of the altar, with occult signs spray-painted on the floor and a crucifix overturned. In Australia’s Siding Springs Observatory, a young astronomer named Charlie Brown discovers a supernova that’s sending “a hail of high-energy particles and electromagnetic radiation” straight toward Earth. Linking these events are the machinations of a secret society bent on power and destruction. As DI Cecilia Cavaliere investigates the secrets of the black book, she turns to scholar and Anglican priest Michael Aarons for help. Cecilia, Michael and Charlie must confront a world-threatening challenge with cleverness, courage, science and faith—as well as love and friendship. In this entertaining, thought-provoking novel, Bryan (The Resurrection of the Messiah, 2011, etc.)—himself an Anglican priest—highlights the imaginative sweep and power of Christianity. As Charlie says, “I can say, the universe has to be the way it is, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. And that’s certainly true. But still, to be in awe or not to be in awe, that’s a choice—an emotional choice—and I don’t see opting for one as being any more or less ‘scientific’ than opting for the other.” Bryan’s heroes aren’t just likable but lovable: intelligent, amusing, hardworking, even kind to animals. In contrast, the novel’s villains are truly spooky and disturbing; readers are always aware of the urgency of stopping their evil plans.

An enjoyable novel of spiritual mystery and adventure—well-plotted, intelligent and deeply moving.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0985391102

Page Count: 406

Publisher: The Diamond Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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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A fun adventure for anyone who’d love to see a few spunky kids trick some bad-news pirates.

FREEBOOTER'S PARADISE

A DANGEROUS TANDEM ADVENTURE

Pirates, magic and a secret society collide in this fantasy middle-grade novel.

This fast-paced novel follows best friends Cameron and Miguel, who are looking for adventure while cruising through their Arizona town on a tandem bicycle. They find it when an enchanted pirate ship flies overhead and lands in a convenience store’s parking lot. The ship sets up as a shop, which uses an intoxicating mist to trick customers into buying overpriced sea-themed merchandise, while simultaneously making them defenseless against pickpocket pirates. Cameron has bigger problems when Blackbeard, the ship’s intimidating captain, decides that the tween has stolen a powerful ring that would allow him to shape-shift into any person he imagines. Raising the stakes, the pirates kidnap Miguel and force him to perform grunt work with no chance of release. Cameron enlists the help of his best gal pal, Marcella, to free Miguel, but their mission takes a surprising turn when they discover a secret society protecting an underground gold mine. Author Loge keeps the action coming as the trio encounter a nasty doppelganger, a sinister talking parrot and a gang of violent pirates. The breezy writing ensures that the story doesn’t get stale. With so many quick twists and turns, young readers could get lost along the way, but Loge clearly explains all the unexpected changes to keep his audience on track. In addition to a sprinkling of black-and-white illustrations, Cameron’s easy friendship with Miguel and Marcella keeps things light and youthful when the tale could have been bogged down with one too many odd, mystical events. The heart of the book—a young boy as the chosen one who must defeat an evil enemy—has been a common YA plotline in recent years, but Loge’s energetic style makes the theme seem fresh.

A fun adventure for anyone who’d love to see a few spunky kids trick some bad-news pirates.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2011

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2012

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