An unhurried but engrossing start for a potentially riveting paranormal series.

Emerge

THE AWAKENING

From the Emerge series , Vol. 1

A teenage outcast’s new friends help her discover her supernatural abilities and shocking origin in Craven’s debut YA urban fantasy.

Most people stay away from 15-year-old Allie Carmichael, as they have an apparent aversion to her touch, which renders her nearly friendless. Her parents’ jobs keep the family moving from place to place, but Allie feels that their latest move to Cleveland might not be so bad when she meets Aidan McBrien. He’s not the least bit intimidated by her, and their mutual attraction is instantaneous. It’s odd, though, that, like Allie, Aidan and all of his pals are adopted. Allie, who’s accustomed to being a pariah, suddenly has friends, including Aidan’s older sister Sasha, and later, a new boyfriend, Vince. When a fireworks accident turns into a raging fire, Allie, Aidan, and their friend Kayla miraculously survive. Aidan’s family feels that they have no choice but to explain some things to Allie on her 16th birthday. It turns out that it’s the time of her Awakening, a painful rite of passage for Immortals during which she begins to exhibit other extraordinary, supernatural abilities. Many in her circle of friends have endured their own Awakenings. Before she can fully register this information, she’s undergoing weapons and martial arts training and honing other skills, such as clairvoyance. She’s reluctant to fight anyone, but she may soon have to battle the members of the Coalition, which is run by mortals but armed with Immortal allies. The bulk of the novel follows Allie as her mentors train her, and she can see their memories; one trainer, Emma, for example, may have witnessed the Coalition’s genesis back in 16th-century Paris. Allie’s concurrent high school life, however, is unfortunately dropped from the plot. Her romance with mere mortal Vince generates searing melodrama between the couple and Aidan, who wants more than Allie’s friendship. The narrative defines various powers more clearly as it goes along: Aidan has healing capabilities, for example, and Allie can, among other things, absorb solar energy. The best power, however, is one that Allie and Aidan share, which later proves to be a hilarious distraction when Allie goes on a date. The buildup regarding the oft-discussed Coalition has a superb payoff when the baddies finally make an appearance, resulting in a bloody, intense confrontation. The story leaves plenty unresolved, of course, paving the way for sequels.

An unhurried but engrossing start for a potentially riveting paranormal series.

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9909819-1-6

Page Count: 438

Publisher: Midnight Hour Studio

Review Posted Online: April 20, 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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