A wild ride with a dark side that could be too much for some readers.

READ REVIEW

PETER CUBED

Goldberg’s sequel to Peter Squared (2012) pushes the boundaries of the literary novel.

Picking up where his first novel left off, Goldberg’s story begins with Peter Branstill still stuck in his hopelessly neurotic life of mathematical calculations, obsessions with contamination and masturbation. Having met his friend John’s day program buddies Anna, Dave and Herb, Peter falls in with the crowd and is eventually sucked into Anna’s plan to go off her medication for good and escape her abusive husband and father. Halfway through the book, the author himself literally steps in to rewrite the story, berating and brainwashing Peter via instant messenger and otherwise dictating the plot of the book—first from afar and then by joining his characters in a small Nebraska town. As Peter and his friends struggle to escape the author’s control and lead their own lives, things get progressively weirder. An unsatisfying denouement situated somewhere between fantasy and reality will leave readers wondering what just happened and why. The metanarrative, featuring a sick, sadistic author attempting to torture his characters in order to sell more books, feels oddly forced and ultimately struggles to make larger points about how authors play God. Instead, the author appears to condemn himself as both a mentally unstable doctor in need of therapy and an anti-Semite. Rather than the helpful psychologist or eminent mathematician described on the book’s back cover, Goldberg indulges in an extremely negative self-portrait, however fictional it may be. Few of the bizarre elements in the book hold up to scrutiny, as they’re directly referenced, poor imitations of originals, including Taxi Driver and Dr. Strangelove. While the novel aims to be literary, it seems more at home with mashups like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

A wild ride with a dark side that could be too much for some readers.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615671260

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Wyndmoor Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

NO REMORSE

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the...

OUT OF THE SHADOWS

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more