A realistic, moving chronicle of the evolving relationship between sisters.


Two sisters travel a rocky path to self-fulfillment—watching some movies along the way—in this reflective debut novel.

Betty and Jamie, red-haired siblings just a year apart in age, don’t exactly share a sisterly bond. In an early scene, 9-year-old Betty wishes her younger sister “would pirouette right through the pane glass window.” Seconds later, Jamie injures herself in a fall, and Betty lets her writhe in pain for several minutes before calling for help. It’s an event that sets the tone for the sisters’ future relationship—there’s love between them, but it’s tempered by misunderstandings, jealousy and failures to connect. A difficult home life doesn’t make things easier: Their father is a frustrated actor turned therapist, their mother an ambitious career woman who leaves her husband for another man as her daughters enter adolescence. These formative experiences leave a deep impression, which is apparent as the sisters grow older and make decisions about motherhood, careers and romance. A complex relationship with their moody, troubled mom haunts them, and neither sibling can forgive her failings. Betty copes by overcompensating, embracing her maternal instinct (she has three children) and designing a line of baby clothes. Jamie’s relationship to motherhood is more complicated. Cancer treatments appear to have left her infertile, and her husband is adamant he doesn’t want children. The novel is episodic and shifts between the recent and more distant past. A different film provides the structure for each chapter to indicate both the era and the circumstances of the sisters’ lives—Little Darlings during their teen years in the early 1980s, Breaking the Waves in the mid-’90s when Betty sacrifices her dreams to support her husband’s career. Some of these references work better than others; readers may be more familiar with The Wizard of Oz or Hitchcock’s Vertigo than the less-memorable 1998 film Primary Colors, and the summary of movie plots occasionally distracts from the larger story. From Betty’s infidelity to a shocking revelation from Jamie’s husband, the sisters have plenty of their own drama without heading to the movies. But they grow wiser as they age, a trajectory that expands the novel’s emotional scope.

A realistic, moving chronicle of the evolving relationship between sisters.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2012

ISBN: 978-0983791508

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Ripetta Press

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.


Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.

Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.

Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0980806601

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Marq Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 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...


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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