The first in a promising series filled with likable characters and fun adventures.

Healer's Magick

Adventure abounds in the Scottish Highlands in Karsner’s debut novel, in which a special woman with untapped elemental powers tries to stay one step ahead of a ruthless soldier bent on exacting revenge.

As far as the flame-haired Caitlin realizes, she’s just a regular woman with a penchant for caring for the sick and injured people of her village. She feels nothing mystical about her predilections; instead, she’s more inclined to wonder what the practicing physicians down in Edinburgh are doing. Her enigmatic, eccentric old Uncle Wabi, back on the Isle of Skye, always seemed capable of conversing with animals, but Caitlin doesn’t think much of it. That slowly begins to change, however, when she’s called on to care for the young men returning home from the bloody Battle of Culloden. The members of the powerful MacKinnon clan become allies with Caitlin after she manages to save their younger brother Ian from a terrible ax wound sustained on behalf of “The Bonnie Prince.” Caitlin, however, is no match for an outbreak of malaria that claims the lives of another group of soldiers placed in her care. Convinced that his brave son died at the hands of a witch, the evil Cmdr. Campbell, in a murderous rage, swears vengeance on Caitlin; the innocent healer only narrowly manages to escape after summoning up some hitherto unknown abilities. Overall, this is a mostly charming tale of magic and mages. Karsner works quickly and efficiently to establish her principal players, which also include a pregnant noblewoman on the run and a sinister landowner bent on retrieving her. Before readers can say “abracadabra,” Caitlin befriends an injured wolf cub while she’s on the run and sets up shop inside a mysterious cave hidden deep in the woods. Although the story’s tone is heavily sweet and innocent, the author still manages to imbue the simple plot with a real sense of tension and suspense.

The first in a promising series filled with likable characters and fun adventures.

Pub Date: June 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-943369-00-3

Page Count: 394

Publisher: SeaDog Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2015

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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