Nothing new, but a satisfactory story of finding happiness in difficult circumstances.

READ REVIEW

The Fall of Beth Anderson

A young girl tries to find herself after moving to a new town in Parent’s debut YA novel.

Canadian high school freshman Beth Anderson feels like she’s been dropped to the bottom of the social ladder. After moving from the city of Ottawa, Ontario, to the small town of Pemberton, Nova Scotia, nothing seems to be going right. Her best friend, Elizabeth Archer, moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where she’s growing distant and rebellious, and all the girls at Beth’s new school have separated into cliques. Beth’s father embarrasses her by wearing slippers in public, and her mother doesn’t seem to sympathize with her troubles. She feels tall and gawky compared with the other girls at school, and despairs over what she sees as her plainness. She’s certain that she’s not pretty enough to be worthy of the attention of Tristan Smith, a cute boy in school who’s caught her eye. She sees him as a puzzle, as he’s nice to her one day but ignores her the next. On top of everything, the most popular girl in the freshman class seems to have made it her mission to make Beth’s life miserable. Beth looks to small things to make her feel better; she makes a new friend, starts taking music lessons, and learns to enjoy long walks. But will these simple pleasures be enough to make her new life less miserable? This YA story offers a familiar tale of teenage angst that hits most of the standard tropes of the genre: a move to a new town, trouble making friends, a crush on a boy, bullying, and figuring out how to be true to oneself. That said, readers will still find it easy to empathize with Beth, as her process of self-discovery feels natural and unforced. Her plight is realistic and her solutions, while not novel, are certainly worth emulating. This book also feels well-paced, with the protagonist gaining emotional insights over time, rather than through quick fixes.

Nothing new, but a satisfactory story of finding happiness in difficult circumstances.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4602-9365-2

Page Count: -

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2016

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An action-stuffed chronicle of one boy’s journey to self-enlightenment and martial arts mastery with heavy existential and...

White Tiger Legend

Set presumably in 12th-century China, an action-packed YA read about a young Shaolin monk named Zi who embarks on a harrowing journey of self-discovery after his temple and everything he ever knew are destroyed.

With the Gathering of the Ways quickly approaching, the entire population of the famed Shaolin Temple is frenetically preparing for the annual gathering of elite warriors from distant kingdoms who come together to test their abilities against the temple’s best kung fu practitioners. But when a cunning, morally bankrupt fighter known as the Red Dragon defeats the temple’s champion (who happens to be Zi’s older brother, Hu Yuan) and razes the temple in search of its mystical secrets, young Zi is forced to begin the Great Journey—essentially a treacherous quest of enlightenment that may ultimately reveal the greatest secret of the temple. On the quest, Zi meets and befriends a diversity of characters (like Bok Choi the grasshopper and a mysterious lady of the river named Auntie) who not only help the young Buddhist monk survive, but offer him wise advice as well. While the character of Zi is undeniably endearing, as is his insect sidekick, the story isn’t without minor flaws. The text is littered with grammatical errors (“Well stand down soldier. Watch how a ladies mantis goes about getting the goods son”), some of the fight scenes drag and become monotonous, and at points, the metaphysical nature of kung fu arguably goes too deep for the average reader (the sequence where the author connects chakras with the digestion of various foods, for example).

An action-stuffed chronicle of one boy’s journey to self-enlightenment and martial arts mastery with heavy existential and spiritual philosophical undertones.

Pub Date: July 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9929738-0-3

Page Count: 170

Publisher: Kory Juul Enterprises Corp

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2015

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A fast-paced romantic drama with a touch of Roma magic.

The Lie They Told

A YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

When a teenage girl in 1925 Chicago kills her violent stepfather, her mother takes the blame in this YA novel.

Carola Pawlak, 15, living in Chicago’s Polish Town, is shy, studious, and badly dressed, although other girls sometimes say her looks are “promising.” She dreams of becoming a writer and has few friends other than Stan Carlson, a handsome Roma boy. She and her sweet mother, Maria, walk on eggshells around Carola’s angry, explosive stepfather, Henry Jaworski. That is, until a fight one day in which Carola, trying to protect her mother, strikes back. He attempts to destroy a prized silver amulet that Stan gave her—but it has a hidden knife, and Carola plunges it into Henry’s chest. Maria confesses to the crime, forcing a promise from Carola to go along, and is arrested. Unexpected help then arrives: Louise Lazaar, “the Chicago Tribune’s leading ‘sob sister.’ ” Sensing a story, Lazaar brings Carola to see T.J. O’Malley, Chicago’s best criminal lawyer, who takes her mother’s case. Carola gets a makeover—bobbed hair, cosmetics, new clothes—and Lazaar dubs her and Maria the “Mother-Daughter Angels,” writing stories such as, “‘She Did It for Me,’ Says Angel Daughter.” But Maria’s still in danger from other prisoners, and Carola learns that Stan’s in trouble for giving her the mysterious amulet. Arbeiter (A Mouton Coat: The Hunt for a Mother’s Story, 2013, etc.) offers a sympathetic YA heroine who’s also conventional in that she doesn’t feel beautiful but is, and she wants to be a writer. Her romance with Stan is sweet and provides a little heat, and Carola has a chance to play the rescuer instead of the rescuee, which is unusual in the YA genre. The 1920s setting is also vivid; Arbeiter gives a well-rounded sense of the era’s highlights, such as flappers and actor Rudolph Valentino, and challenges, such as crime and injustice.

A fast-paced romantic drama with a touch of Roma magic.

Pub Date: June 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-938812-59-0

Page Count: 239

Publisher: Full Court Press

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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