An uplifting read that informs, enlightens and satisfies.

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    Best Books Of 2012

RUTTING SEASON

In addressing both man against nature and the nature of man, Ness’s novel raises challenging questions about the balance between hunting for sport and hunting for survival.

Survival of the fittest plays out with personalities and past regrets in sharp relief, as hunter and hunted confront unforgiving nature in the remote Yukon. The story skillfully weaves together the lives of seemingly disparate individuals into a conflict-ridden tapestry of self-discovery. The principal storyline centers on high-profile eco-warrior Hannah Weinberg. Her mission: to confront and raise public awareness of the wealthy trophy hunters who scour the remote Yukon Mountains in search of grizzly bears. The titular figurehead of a save-the-bears group called Grizzly Watch, Hannah meets her perceived nemesis in Dan MacKay, an unemployed, half-Indian moose hunter who lives in a small First Nation community. Dan runs into a lost Hannah while hunting moose on the Macmillan River. Elsewhere, Dan’s attorney, Susan Field, is driven by conscience rather than cash to uncover the truth about Dan’s ex-wife, Tara, and her suspicious pedophile boyfriend, Gary. Seems Gary has taken an interest in Dan’s preteen daughter, Starla. Another intersecting storyline revolves around Hannah’s husband, David Hellman. Rich and powerful, he cheats on Hannah, but when she’s reported missing, David swings into action and hires Yukon mountain experts to accompany him on the search. At times, details in the supporting storylines run too deep and risk overwhelming the central story. Thinning them  a bit in favor of the Dan–Hannah relationship, and how their initially opposing views slowly begin to dovetail, could improve the novel’s focus. Adding an extra dimension to the narrative are the internal dialogues of several animals. Raz, Dan’s loyal, well-trained hunting dog, expresses his own feelings and insight about “his Dan” and the new girl, Hannah. Raz eventually becomes indispensable to both the hunt and Dan’s survival. There’s also a “talkative” raven who provides some whimsical observations about human “bobbleheads” and their strange habits, and several moose express their feelings and various sexual pangs. Finally, there’s the heartbreaking struggle of a gut-shot bear, lumbering through the forest to find relief from the pain that accompanies his every step. Richly detailed and generously storied with characters both sympathetic and loathsome, this is the action-adventure novel for wilderness enthusiasts.

An uplifting read that informs, enlightens and satisfies.

Pub Date: June 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-1467966511

Page Count: 366

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2012

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

BROTHERS IN ARMS

BLUFORD HIGH SERIES #9

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

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

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