Realistically captures the rough road to rock bottom.


With help from recreational drugs, a dissolute young woman parties her way through the 1980s.

When she first does lines with her 36-year-old married boss, 16-year-old Robin Daniels is working as a lifeguard in Myrtle Beach. Thus begins an eight-year cocktail of sex, vodka, quaaludes and cocaine. Strikingly beautiful, with a figure to die for, Robin trades on her looks for cash and lovers, both male and female, to fill the void created by her self-absorbed father and deceased mother. She’s desperate for quality time with daddy in Philly, but he’s focused on new wife Cheryl. When Robin runs away from home, her father makes no attempt to find her. After being picked up by the police for underage drinking, she meets Jeff, a divorced friend of a friend. They live together and eventually wed, but she’s turned on by Jeff’s brother Ray. After her marriage to Jeff dissolves, she enjoys multiple trysts, earning money waitressing and selling herself while under the influence. Through the years, she snorts coke and the cash racks up; she uses and is used by numerous moneyed individuals in exotic locales—New York, London, Panama City, etc. The goal is to marry rich and retire. There’s no shortage of action, as Robin copulates and self-medicates through the best years of her life, rarely thinking about where and how it will end. As a character, she’s less than sympathetic, pegging many a man as greedy and lecherous while categorizing herself as “sexually progressive.” But life isn’t all studs and roses for this hot babe. She’s keenly aware of her appearance and the jealousy simmering in other women; but that doesn’t stop her from putting the moves on another woman’s man. Although she turns a blind eye to self-responsibility, she’s judgmental about others, e.g., about a Vietnam veteran: “I thought of Jeff’s friend who’d come back from Vietnam paralyzed, he drank a case of beer a day and sharpened his hunting knives—the war his excuse for being an asshole.” Sex, drugs and booze aren’t the only excesses here: The book runs to 71 chapters, most of which center on yet another assignation to show just how low Robin can go. The writing works best when it’s straightforward; attempts at highbrow literary phrasings fall flat, often leaving the reader to intuit the meaning of an awkward, headache-inducing sentence. Still, the colorful characters in Robin’s orbit help bolster the coked-up story, and the final part proves to be the best.

Realistically captures the rough road to rock bottom.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012


Page Count: 361

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2012

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A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.



In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.

In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.

A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004

ISBN: 978-1591940173

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Townsend Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

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A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Mary's Song

From the Dream Horse Adventure Series series , Vol. 1

A novel tells the story of two spirited girls who set out to save a lame foal in 1952.

Mary, age 12, lacks muscle control of her legs and must use a wheelchair. Her life is constantly interrupted by trips with her widower father to assorted doctors, all of whom have failed to help her. Mary tolerates the treatments, hoping to one day walk unassisted, but her true passion involves horses. Possessing a library filled with horse books, she loves watching and drawing the animals at a neighboring farm. She longs to own one herself. But her father, overprotective due to her disability and his own lingering grief over Mary’s dead mother, makes her keep her distance. Mary befriends Laura, the emotionally neglected daughter of the wealthy neighboring farm owners, and the two share secret buggy rides. Both girls are attracted to Illusion, a beautiful red bay filly on the farm. Mary learns that Illusion is to be put down by a veterinarian because of a lame leg. Horrified, she decides to talk to the barn manager about the horse (“Isn’t it okay for her to live even if she’s not perfect? I think she deserves a chance”). Soon, Mary and Laura attempt to raise money to save Illusion. At the same time, Mary begins to gain control of her legs thanks to water therapy and secret therapeutic riding with Laura. There is indeed a great deal of poignancy in a story of a girl with a disability fighting to defend the intrinsic value of a lame animal. But this book, the first installment of the Dream Horse Adventure Series, would be twice as touching if Mary interacted with Illusion more. In the tale’s opening, she watches the foal from afar, but she actually spends very little time with the filly she tries so hard to protect. This turns out to be a strange development given the degree to which the narrative relies on her devotion. Count (Selah’s Sweet Dream, 2015) draws Mary and Laura in broad but believable strokes, defined mainly by their unrelenting pluckiness in the face of adversity. While the work tackles disability, death, and grief, Mary’s and Laura’s environments are so idyllic and their optimism and perseverance so remarkable that the story retains an aura of uncomplicated gentleness throughout.

A short, simple, and sweet tale about two friends and a horse.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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