An inviting page-turner about turning the page on the past.

The World Undone

In Driver-Thiel’s debut novel, a trio of imperfect women contend with the revelation that their lives are connected.

While Anne and Henry Bennett vacation in China, “insulated from the harsher realities of life,” their daughter, Sylvia, heads to Cedar Beach, Mich., to find Callie Collins, the daughter Anne gave up for adoption 10 years before Sylvia was born. The unexpected reunion of the half sisters—one, rich and lonely, the other, living hand-to-mouth but with the love of a good family—causes conflict, especially in an economy “sinking like a pig in mud.” At first, Callie resents the intrusion of her privileged sister, but Sylvia persists, eventually lending a hand at the Stone’s Throw Tavern, the floundering business run by Callie and her husband, Brad. When Sylvia asks Callie to attend her wedding to Pierson Kent IV, Callie refuses, “not interested in being the bombshell” Sylvia wants to drop on Anne. The Stone’s Throw also brings photographer Mike Kowalski, the “perfect blend of Midwestern farm boy and California surfer,” into Sylvia’s life. Through Mike’s eyes, Sylvia sees things in a new way and experiences “an unfamiliar and delicious sense of freedom.” When she returns to the East Coast, her mother’s harsh reaction to the unveiling of her secret is jaw-dropping, but it opens the way for Sylvia to create a new life for herself. Driver-Thiel’s well-crafted sentences unfold like a tight mystery, revealing secrets with a delicate touch. Depictions of rural life in the Thumb of Michigan juxtapose cleverly with the Bennett’s rarified world, where the value of people is measured “in terms of clothes, cars and country clubs.” With agility, the narrator weaves in and out of the minds of her three main characters, establishing a love/hate triangle built on Anne’s refusal to upset her “carefully constructed world.” Driver-Thiel’s ability to make the reader empathize with such a heartless character might be the book’s most remarkable feat.

An inviting page-turner about turning the page on the past.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-0988656802

Page Count: 242

Publisher: Pine Lake Press, LLC

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2013

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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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A fun adventure for anyone who’d love to see a few spunky kids trick some bad-news pirates.



Pirates, magic and a secret society collide in this fantasy middle-grade novel.

This fast-paced novel follows best friends Cameron and Miguel, who are looking for adventure while cruising through their Arizona town on a tandem bicycle. They find it when an enchanted pirate ship flies overhead and lands in a convenience store’s parking lot. The ship sets up as a shop, which uses an intoxicating mist to trick customers into buying overpriced sea-themed merchandise, while simultaneously making them defenseless against pickpocket pirates. Cameron has bigger problems when Blackbeard, the ship’s intimidating captain, decides that the tween has stolen a powerful ring that would allow him to shape-shift into any person he imagines. Raising the stakes, the pirates kidnap Miguel and force him to perform grunt work with no chance of release. Cameron enlists the help of his best gal pal, Marcella, to free Miguel, but their mission takes a surprising turn when they discover a secret society protecting an underground gold mine. Author Loge keeps the action coming as the trio encounter a nasty doppelganger, a sinister talking parrot and a gang of violent pirates. The breezy writing ensures that the story doesn’t get stale. With so many quick twists and turns, young readers could get lost along the way, but Loge clearly explains all the unexpected changes to keep his audience on track. In addition to a sprinkling of black-and-white illustrations, Cameron’s easy friendship with Miguel and Marcella keeps things light and youthful when the tale could have been bogged down with one too many odd, mystical events. The heart of the book—a young boy as the chosen one who must defeat an evil enemy—has been a common YA plotline in recent years, but Loge’s energetic style makes the theme seem fresh.

A fun adventure for anyone who’d love to see a few spunky kids trick some bad-news pirates.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2011


Page Count: -

Publisher: Amazon Digital Services

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2012

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