A morally-sound hero who earns sympathy and cheers as a champion of the wildlife.

Lone Wolf

From the The Oldenglen Chronicles series , Vol. 2

Mason, Robin

LONE WOLF: BOOK TWO OF THE OLDENGLEN CHRONICLES A twelve-year-old boy’s ability to communicate with animals may come in handy when revenge-minded bullies invade his family’s land in Mason’s (Oldenglen, 2015) middle-grade fantasy. Although initially reluctant to leave his England home, Jackson Wolfe has grown to love Oregon. The Oldenglen estate where he lives is a magical place where the boy can understand the forest’s inhabitants. But while the woodfolk are pals, Jackson’s had less luck making friends at school. Bully Noah and his three cronies who form The Pack target Jackson after he sticks up for nerdy Daniel. When Noah instigates a tussle outside a library, Jackson momentarily unleashes the “wolf within,” [5] a transformation he thought would materialize only in Oldenglen. Jax the Wolf has amped speed and strength, with golden eyes the sole physical change — but it’s his eyes that Noah may have witnessed. Now designating Jackson a freak, The Pack creeps into Oldenglen, where Noah boasts of knowing the area. Fortunately, Jackson has help, from the woodfolk who immediately spot the camping bullies to San Franciscan Sarah, who’s visiting the boy she’d befriended over the summer. With a hunting dog and gun, Noah poses a threat to Jackson and his woodsy companions, especially if he tells potentially-armed adults he’s spotted wolves or coyotes. So Jackson, Sarah, and the woodfolk make a plan to protect Oldenglen. This laudable tale is more exciting than the series’ first, which Mason co-wrote with his father. Handling exposition thoroughly but efficiently, the author dives right into the story to establish the new villains. Noah, et. al., even if mere eighth-graders, are genuinely scary; he and older brother Nate, in a discernible black truck, follow Jackson’s bus all the way home. Despite further distress (Jackson’s missing porcupine buddy Squiffle) and the occasional menacing animal (a bull elk literally looking for a fight), the narrative’s predominantly jaunty. The good guys, for one, are surprisingly skilled at psychological warfare, opting to disturb the bullies’ sleep and campsite, which results in hilarious directives: “Send in the moles.” [214] Jackson battles relatable issues, too, including loneliness, feeling like both wolf and human with no real pack of his own.

A morally-sound hero who earns sympathy and cheers as a champion of the wildlife.

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9948371-2-7

Page Count: 348

Publisher: Tricklewood Press

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2016

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Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

NO REMORSE

Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.

Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.

Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0980806601

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Marq Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2012

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With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the...

OUT OF THE SHADOWS

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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