A hearty introduction to a world of magic and its equally enchanting inhabitants.

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Blood and Ash

An MIT student with untapped power may play an essential role in a centurieslong war between otherworldly coalitions in this debut supernatural fantasy novel.

Ashley “Ash” Drake escapes his rather uneventful life at MIT with video games. So when a voice in his head and image on his computer screen tell him he possesses unrealized potential, Ash sees the chance for an amazing opportunity. A mysterious package arrives, and equipment inside (for example, virtual reality goggles) starts him on his training—to harness magic. Later, the man from Ash’s screen, whom the student dubs the Wizard, shows up with a history lesson: some children are born of evil (the Touched) and others are good (the Blessed). Both sides have been warring for as long as anyone can remember and searching for the foretold Blessed One, a powerful boy who will drive back an impending darkness. The Wizard, unsure if Ash is the Blessed One, helps the MIT senior, who uses a gemstone eventually affixed to a wand, develop his abilities. Ash then heads to Las Vegas to find “Smiling Jack” Porter, who can use his gift of premonition to locate Sinthia Greyson, an apparent target of the Touched. Touched fiend Nihalus may be looking for Sinthia. He wants to get his clawed hands on a crucial relic, the Sangrian Map. Despite exploiting familiar traits of sorcerers (wands and cloaks), Perez ultimately reveals much more of the Blessed and Touched. A significant back story, including a lengthy but riveting section on young Jack learning he can see the future, never slows the narrative down. Most details aren’t clear until near the end, such as the importance of both Ash and Sinthia, but the mystery’s intriguing enough to retain momentum until the rousing final act. It’s a shame that Touched recruit Sarah Blake, who ominously whispers to potential victims, “I might not be good for you,” is not in the book more. This, however, is clearly the beginning of something bigger, so there’s fortunately the prospect of seeing Sarah again. Humor’s minimal but memorable, particularly Ash’s determination to further his training, which is offset by the Wizard’s insistence that he first put on his pants.

A hearty introduction to a world of magic and its equally enchanting inhabitants.  

Pub Date: April 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9975072-0-1

Page Count: 286

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2016

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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