A complex but promising start to a colorful time-bending adventure.

The Pendant Saga

PICAROONS AND PEMBERTONS

From the The Pendant Saga series , Vol. 1

The Pemberton siblings fall into a portal on their grandfather’s property, leading to adventures involving pirates and a mystical world in this first installment of a debut children’s fantasy series.

For 13-year-old Penelope, 11-year-old Jade, and 8-year-old Phillip, staying with their grandfather Chris Pemberton when their parents are away isn’t much fun. The old man is often preoccupied with strange maps, and at one point, he sends the Pemberton siblings to do clearing work on his Colorado desert property. Phillip feels drawn to dig at a particular spot, and the children soon uncover a pirate skeleton, a glowing green pendant, and a well into which they fall. They wash up in a strange new land near a pirate ship; Phillip is taken captive, and the girls are left onshore, where they soon meet Nicholas, a teenager who looks somewhat familiar. He’s looking for his brother, Christophe, and thinks that offering up the girls to pirates Con and Rook will aid his search. Phillip, meanwhile, still has the aforementioned pendant, and with it, he sees visions that turn out to be flashbacks explaining how Rook and Con were shipwrecked in the 1780s and how they connect to the Pemberton family. By novel’s end, the pendant appears to have gone missing, but a new green glow beckons the children from underneath a doorway. In this launch to a planned series, Colorado-based author Knighted confronts the challenge of laying down the groundwork of various worlds and back stories, from which she will build future tales. For the most part, she’s successful at weaving in necessary exposition amid the quite rollicking, entertaining episodes, such as one in which the pirates battle a huge sea monster. There’s also charming character development, particularly for the vengeful, jealous Rook and the caretaking Penelope. Some of the geography, however, is a bit murky—what are the pirates still searching for in those maps, exactly?—but it will hopefully be explained and explored in stories to come.

A complex but promising start to a colorful time-bending adventure.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9970520-2-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Boston Tuxedo Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 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

A YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

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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