Tight, cliffhanging YA fiction studded with demigods and moral dilemmas.



A menagerie of supernatural forces fights for humanity’s spiritual standing.         

In this YA novel, Pershing (Ordinaries, 2014, etc.) brings a vast cosmological and theological battle quite literally down to Earth. Tiamanicus, an otherworldly spirit enrolled in the legions of Lucifer—known as the Great One by his followers—finds himself shocked, cold, and struggling as he’s dragged out of a lake near the town of Inspiration, a place “swimming with demons.” This watery entrance marks the beginning of his tumultuous transition from a Whisperer, or disembodied spirit, into one of the human-seeming forms known as a Talker. While Whisperers dedicate themselves to spreading Lucifer’s influence throughout Earth by planting thoughts in the heads of humans, Talkers effect sin and corruption by their actions, using their bodies, and not merely suggestion. Placed in a household with several other Talkers, whose checkered and painful histories he’ll eventually learn, Tiamanicus, now christened Zachary Sable, pursues his task of throwing Emma Louise Green off her holy track. Protected by angelic spirits from the Christian God whom Lucifer opposes, Emma turns out to be a tough assignment. Zachary soon starts to wonder about the depth of his commitment to the mission handed to him by Zagan, a demon in Lucifer’s service. Zachary eventually becomes attracted to Emma. But Lucifer abandons Talkers who fall in love with humans, Zachary is warned; and the Great One represents the only hope for those who, like Tiamanicus and his kin, weren’t made in God’s image. Pershing has fashioned a raucous hybrid of coming-of-age tale and Miltonian epic. Marbled with a handful of plotlines that eventually unify, including a scheme by Emma to unveil the corruption of a local pastor who has been preying on young women, this story of adversity becomes complex but is strengthened by its intricate threads. Zachary encounters daunting obstacles in his new life; at one point, Emma asks him to accompany her to church (“Zachary tilted his head and thought about it. Church. Was it safe? He knew they couldn’t see him, but what if the Selfish One, the Christ, was actually there? Not even a Talker could hide”). A few themes run like currents beneath the sparkling dialogue and rapidly changing scenes, including the importance of placing one’s own happiness above official duties and the fickleness of allegiances and promises.

Tight, cliffhanging YA fiction studded with demigods and moral dilemmas.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9975129-0-8

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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An action-stuffed chronicle of one boy’s journey to self-enlightenment and martial arts mastery with heavy existential and...

White Tiger Legend

Set presumably in 12th-century China, an action-packed YA read about a young Shaolin monk named Zi who embarks on a harrowing journey of self-discovery after his temple and everything he ever knew are destroyed.

With the Gathering of the Ways quickly approaching, the entire population of the famed Shaolin Temple is frenetically preparing for the annual gathering of elite warriors from distant kingdoms who come together to test their abilities against the temple’s best kung fu practitioners. But when a cunning, morally bankrupt fighter known as the Red Dragon defeats the temple’s champion (who happens to be Zi’s older brother, Hu Yuan) and razes the temple in search of its mystical secrets, young Zi is forced to begin the Great Journey—essentially a treacherous quest of enlightenment that may ultimately reveal the greatest secret of the temple. On the quest, Zi meets and befriends a diversity of characters (like Bok Choi the grasshopper and a mysterious lady of the river named Auntie) who not only help the young Buddhist monk survive, but offer him wise advice as well. While the character of Zi is undeniably endearing, as is his insect sidekick, the story isn’t without minor flaws. The text is littered with grammatical errors (“Well stand down soldier. Watch how a ladies mantis goes about getting the goods son”), some of the fight scenes drag and become monotonous, and at points, the metaphysical nature of kung fu arguably goes too deep for the average reader (the sequence where the author connects chakras with the digestion of various foods, for example).

An action-stuffed chronicle of one boy’s journey to self-enlightenment and martial arts mastery with heavy existential and spiritual philosophical undertones.

Pub Date: July 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9929738-0-3

Page Count: 170

Publisher: Kory Juul Enterprises Corp

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2015

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A fast-paced romantic drama with a touch of Roma magic.

The Lie They Told


When a teenage girl in 1925 Chicago kills her violent stepfather, her mother takes the blame in this YA novel.

Carola Pawlak, 15, living in Chicago’s Polish Town, is shy, studious, and badly dressed, although other girls sometimes say her looks are “promising.” She dreams of becoming a writer and has few friends other than Stan Carlson, a handsome Roma boy. She and her sweet mother, Maria, walk on eggshells around Carola’s angry, explosive stepfather, Henry Jaworski. That is, until a fight one day in which Carola, trying to protect her mother, strikes back. He attempts to destroy a prized silver amulet that Stan gave her—but it has a hidden knife, and Carola plunges it into Henry’s chest. Maria confesses to the crime, forcing a promise from Carola to go along, and is arrested. Unexpected help then arrives: Louise Lazaar, “the Chicago Tribune’s leading ‘sob sister.’ ” Sensing a story, Lazaar brings Carola to see T.J. O’Malley, Chicago’s best criminal lawyer, who takes her mother’s case. Carola gets a makeover—bobbed hair, cosmetics, new clothes—and Lazaar dubs her and Maria the “Mother-Daughter Angels,” writing stories such as, “‘She Did It for Me,’ Says Angel Daughter.” But Maria’s still in danger from other prisoners, and Carola learns that Stan’s in trouble for giving her the mysterious amulet. Arbeiter (A Mouton Coat: The Hunt for a Mother’s Story, 2013, etc.) offers a sympathetic YA heroine who’s also conventional in that she doesn’t feel beautiful but is, and she wants to be a writer. Her romance with Stan is sweet and provides a little heat, and Carola has a chance to play the rescuer instead of the rescuee, which is unusual in the YA genre. The 1920s setting is also vivid; Arbeiter gives a well-rounded sense of the era’s highlights, such as flappers and actor Rudolph Valentino, and challenges, such as crime and injustice.

A fast-paced romantic drama with a touch of Roma magic.

Pub Date: June 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-938812-59-0

Page Count: 239

Publisher: Full Court Press

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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