Intimate, reflective and worthy of a thoughtful read; don’t rush this one.

PARADISE LOST

A young man struggles to find meaning in his life as he travels between Europe and Canada, finding new loves and new interests along the way in this nonlinear novel.

Born in Canada, Lewis Sterne nevertheless comes to think of Paris as the place where his life begins. Learning to be French proves to be an excellent tool for exploring the city and bringing it to life through detailed description—not just of sights and sounds, but of the city’s rhythms. In Paris, Lewis develops an interest in two things that will continue to shape his life: music and girls. An accomplished pianist, he frequently reflects on the nature and beauty of music and what its pursuit means to him. These passages indicate what’s to come, as the book becomes increasingly reflective and inward-looking while Lewis grows up and the narrative bends philosophical as he struggles to understand the world in light of his deepening feelings. Stories of the many loves in his life—reconnecting with childhood friend Sheila, dallying with Arabella in Montreal, meeting older Ariadna on a student trip to Europe, falling for Grace back home, living with wild Niobe and Lily in London, etc.—provide the majority of the day-to-day narrative, which anchors Lewis on his travels throughout Europe. Much of the second half of the book explores philosophical ideas, with an occasional glimpse into Lewis’ life. The story can be confusing at times, since more clarity is needed around how old Lewis is and, in some cases, where exactly he’s living. This confusion is only enhanced by the fact that there aren’t any chapter breaks. Dialogue tends to be dramatic, and extra characters are often used as mouthpieces for philosophical ideas about women, sex, God, existence and ethics. Overall, though, the novel offers an impressively detailed, deep look at life that will especially appeal to readers interested in academic philosophy or literature.

Intimate, reflective and worthy of a thoughtful read; don’t rush this one.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 612

Publisher: Paris Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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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

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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

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