A fun, satirical mystery that proves just how ridiculous partisan politics can be.

ELEPHANT HUNT MASSACRE

Former political reporter Steinman offers a witty debut political thriller heavily laced with satire.

Floridian Vik Patel is excited to leave his job as a junior press aide in the House Energy and Commerce Committee to become the press secretary for the charismatic congressman Johnson Jack Jr. He’s not even bothered very much by the fact that his predecessor was the first victim of a serial killer targeting young Republican politicos in what’s being called the Elephant Hunt Massacre. As Vik gingerly pursues a long-distance relationship with an insecure woman named Angelina, he navigates the treacherous Washington, D.C., social scene with his suave friend Max Murch. Meanwhile, as the number of murder victims grows, so does the media attention surrounding them. Vik scores a major victory for his boss, who’s currently vying for a Senate seat, by drafting the Washington Heroes Act for Arlington—a law that would temporarily waive the requirements for burial in Arlington National Cemetery and permit the serial killer’s victims to be given heroes’ burials. However, the killer seems to be closing in on Vik, even as two detectives, Deb Twentymon and Maurice “Momo” Morris, try to solve the case. The novel includes a full cast of memorable secondary characters, including U.S. Sen. Burland Gorge from Georgia and his perpetually inebriated, inappropriate wife, Bettye; the hairy Democratic Rep. Tony Varga Teatro from New Jersey; the comely conservative congressional staffer Isabelle White; gun-toting legislator Susan California; and a seemingly inept investigative reporter, Russ Gollub, who stumbles onto the story of a lifetime. Readers may almost need a score card to help keep the various personalities and their political affiliations straight. With such a large number of characters, some are inevitably one-dimensional caricatures, but in this satire, it often works well. Most readers will identify with the earnest Vik, who’s eager to prove himself and make his way in a cruel world. Mystery lovers, meanwhile, will be kept guessing in this unpredictable whodunit.

A fun, satirical mystery that proves just how ridiculous partisan politics can be.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 438

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

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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