In this dark and bizarre satire, Dumanis proposes a world in which hyperreligious fervor shields and empowers the truly...

MONA LIEBOWITZ

AN ARTLESS NOVEL

The future Big Split between the Northern and Southern United States leads to religious demagogy and the right-wing political delirium that provides the backdrop for Dumanis’ novel.

Never really wanted by her mother and sexually abused by her father, Mona Liebowitz wants to create an art project that spans the nation, a futile dream in the New American Republic, where art has been decried as a distraction from God and subsequently banned. Painting lands Mona in juvenile hall. In an attempt to assert herself, she composes a mural under the cover of night and gets locked in solitary confinement. While imprisoned, she is granted a wish by a magical “wee person” who ends the conversation by shooting off into oblivion. Then things get weird. Through plot-driven mayhem, Mona finds herself on the lam, disfigured and starting a religion before she meets her ultimate fate. Throughout the book, Dumanis’ strong satirical voice blasts the hypocrisy of those who don’t practice what they preach. Evil deeds, such as Mona being locked in boxlike confines and later being assaulted, all occur at the hands of the self-assured authoritarians, while images of Jesus look on. If the plot and dialogue weren’t enough to grasp the author’s intentions, there are the lists and lists of hybridized nouns: Girl Scouts have become God Scouts. An amusement park is called Godland (complete with David and Goliath fights on the hour and a ride named The Slide to Hell). Then you’ve got your Freedom objects: Freedom Net, Freedom Phone and the satisfyingly oxymoronic Freedom Locks. Although the author’s points are made clearly, they lack the subtle delivery that could send the reader on an actual journey. Instead, hyperbole and breakneck pace reign while the plot vacillates from amusing to sickening and then abruptly ends.

In this dark and bizarre satire, Dumanis proposes a world in which hyperreligious fervor shields and empowers the truly demented while destroying individualism and artistic expression.

Pub Date: July 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615644486

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Slavin, Joseph and Sons

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 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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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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