A powerful debut with Dickensian touches in its heartbreaking and occasionally humorous chronicle of the life of a modern...

Zinsky the Obscure

A literary bildungsroman.

Mochari's debut chronicles the life of Ariel Zinsky who at the age of 30 has become something of a bitter misanthrope. Zinsky decides to chronicle his life so far with the goal of elucidating how it is he has become a man whose life is almost devoid of social interactions. He goes back to some of his earliest memories beginning with the beatings he received from his estranged father. In Zinsky's first person narration he describes his awkward, social misfit high school years, which are followed by his social misfit college years. However, once he sets out to focus on making a living publishing a guide to the annual NFL draft, a change begins to occur in his life. Zinsky begins to make friends at school, becomes more athletic and experiences his first sexual relationship. Post-college his devotion to his annual guide, which is slowly building a following leads him to quit his office job and instead work as a waiter, but it is also the guide which leads to his first real girlfriend. Although there are some rough times, Zinsky eventually reaches the point where his football side business has become a huge financial success. Still, Zinsky's old doubts and insecurities poison his personal relationships and bring him to the point where he runs away to Manhattan selling his football empire for a tidy sum so that he can take a low pressure gig at a football magazine. Thanks in part to his English teacher mother, Zinsky is well-read, and Mochari makes use of this fact in crafting a highly readable literary novel. Even when describing the most mundane of scenes Zinsky speaks like a Fitzgerald narrator, “I had cannily obtained many usernames and passwords from the IT department”. Though the novel is filled with many such mundane details, it flows well thanks in part to Mochari's clear but colorful prose. Zinsky's rough childhood makes him an underdog and a sympathetic narrator whose story is compelling. Even as he grows into a self-absorbed young man, the reader is still rooting for him though the advantage of another perspective means that the reader can see the error in Zinksy's ways. By novel's end Zinsky has gone from hero to antihero leaving readers with a sense of closure if not exactly a sense of satisfaction with the conclusion.

A powerful debut with Dickensian touches in its heartbreaking and occasionally humorous chronicle of the life of a modern young man.

Pub Date: March 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1937677114

Page Count: 358

Publisher: Fomite

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2012

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.



In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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