Charming characters populate this fast, exuberant genre mashup.

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MAR Rising

In this debut YA thriller, a homeless teenager’s fortunes change on the eve of a zombie apocalypse.

Sixteen-year-old Madison Jacques, a homeless musician living in Boston, performs with the Reaper, her prized guitar, and stays in the boiler room of a condemned building. After years in miserable foster homes, Madison contentedly shares her life with rats and a blind harmonica player named Jeremiah Church. One night, a construction crew demolishes her building, upending her precarious existence. If not for a mysterious benefactor dragging her to safety, Madison would have died. When she awakes at Mass General, she meets officers Joe Rowe and Phil Senior. After researching her identity, the police confirm that Madison has an aunt and twin brother living in Charleston. Meanwhile, the Holbox research facility on the Yucatán Peninsula—specializing in climate science and geology—falls into chaos when workers are contaminated by rock samples from the Chicxulub crater, becoming murderous. Researcher Ami Knight takes drastic steps to contain the transmissible psychosis, yet some of the stones have already been smuggled into the United States as souvenirs. When Madison disembarks the train in Charleston, she hopes that her relatives will welcome her. Little does she realize that a gory nightmare will soon replace the seaside tranquility. Brusseau adds a hefty, world-building twist to his zombie narrative, connecting his agile hordes to what killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago and to the idea that humanity started on another planet. Zombie buffs, however, won’t be disappointed by the well-paced carnage, including the walking dead devouring a bus driver (his “last gasp of air came not through his mouth, but directly through his trachea”). The characters also discuss God’s existence and intentions during the mayhem, with Madison favoring the tolerant view that “as long as we are alive,” we are “free to choose” the worldview “that makes the most sense for us individually.” Later, the guardian angel who saved her from the building reveals himself, greatly expanding the potential of Brusseau's world.

Charming characters populate this fast, exuberant genre mashup.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9966510-0-4

Page Count: 334

Publisher: Zombie Horde Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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An effective translation of a series that gives eye-opening glimpses into the lives of the comfortable middle-class in...

Nesthäkchen Flies from the Nest

FIRST ENGLISH EDITION OF THE GERMAN CHILDRENS CLASSIC TRANSLATED, INTRODUCED, AND ANNOTATED BY STEVEN LEHRER

A young woman ventures into the adult world in this vintage German novel.

Lehrer continues his ongoing annotated translation of Ury’s beloved prewar “Nesthäkchen” books with this English-language rendition of the sixth in that series, Nesthäkchen Fliegt aus dem Nest from 1921. In this latest installment, Annemarie Braun, the spoiled darling “Nesthäkchen” of her doctor father and his wife, turns 18 in a Germany still reeling from its catastrophic loss in World War I, although, as Lehrer rightly points out, the raw facts of history impinge very little on the mostly carefree events of this story. Those events center instead on Annemarie’s birthday celebration and her departure from home to attend college. This exit is naturally accompanied by a degree of worry on the part of Annemarie’s parents (“The ‘child’ will be defenseless alone in the big world,” they think. “What dangers lurked there at every step?”). But only a bubbly optimism prevails among Annemarie and her friends as they embark on what they see as some of their last free-spirited adventures before they’re encumbered with the duties and responsibilities of adulthood—including, for Annemarie, marriage and starting a family. The novel follows her to university and chronicles her various escapades—scheduling classes, making friends, taking the first breaths of independence—against Annemarie’s own high spirits and go-getter attitude. And as with the previous volumes, Lehrer does a steady, first-rate job of catching Ury’s frequent cultural allusions and in-jokes and explaining them in quick, unobtrusive footnotes: for example, “Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann (15 November 1862-6 June 1946) was a German dramatist and novelist. He is counted among the most important promoters of literary naturalism, though he integrated other styles into his work as well.” Lehrer’s translation, smooth-flowing and easily approachable, brings readers into this series of proto-YA fiction set in the long-vanished world of a Germany before the horrors of World War II. The “Nesthäkchen” of these novels is the living embodiment of the purist, nationalistic sentimentality of that Germany.

An effective translation of a series that gives eye-opening glimpses into the lives of the comfortable middle-class in Germany between the world wars.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5300-8463-0

Page Count: 276

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Judian is on the verge of adulthood when his smitten brother Wils marries Annora, a beautiful woman who has a mystical knack...

If Crows Know Best

From the Mage of Merced series , Vol. 1

A boy becomes embroiled in politics and magic when his country is conquered in this fantastical tale of war and survival, reminiscent of the works of Raymond Feist.

Judian is on the verge of adulthood when his smitten brother Wils marries Annora, a beautiful woman who has a mystical knack with animals. But instead of the couple settling into their new lives, Wils must accompany his father to where soldiers are gathering to fend off an invasion. Da entrusts Judian with a mission: if he and Wils don’t return quickly, Judian must take Annora and his young sister Morie up to the caves in the mountains near their home, where they will be safe. Judian embarks on his quest of survival with all the good sense of a farm boy used to managing resources, but he’s surprised to find himself gaining animal allies. First crediting the appearance of a huge black dog they call Weiser and a trio of helpful crows to Annora, Judian soon discovers it’s his own magic that called them. When Judian and his companions realize that the northwest passage through their mountains, which should be sealed with snow, has been held open by foreign sorcerers to allow troops to invade, they know they have to find a way to get the news to Da and Wils. Judian, an appealing narrator, brooks little nonsense—though some of what he considers ludicrous is a mark of his immaturity. He shows at times overconfidence, but the subtle arrogance of his narration is countered by his admissions of wishing his father would return and fix everything. By far the best developed of the characters, Judian is surrounded by strong women he doesn’t always understand but whom he respects, especially as teachers of magic. This debut YA novel’s fantasy world and magic system, filtered through a capable child’s eyes, are well-designed, with enough clues into the adult power structure to give the impression of complexity beyond what is described.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9909681-0-8

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Moon Road Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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