A sluggish adventure that taxis but never takes off.

COYOTE RUNNING

A RELUCTANT WHITE KNIGHT

In this highflying thriller, a graying hero jets between special ops and corporate meetings.

Having married his pistol-packing, plane-piloting soul mate, Sunny, Tom Rowter gets lured out of retirement by his former CIA overlord for a covert mission in Belize that requires fancy flying under enemy fire. After a short, mildly intriguing adventure, that’s all squared away. Next, Tom heads elsewhere to clean up the troubled pipeline division of his father-in-law’s company, which is leaking oil and red ink. Tom duly fires the entire staff and makes them beg to get their jobs back, but that havoc subsides in a welter of cordial re-interviews, HR evaluations, pep talks and modest employee incentives. Tom puts out another corporate brush fire when he negotiates a pumping station lease extension from Navajo elders in exchange for a new school on their reservation. In his time off, he lavishly dotes on Sunny, has heart-to-hearts with his kids, goes shopping and hangs out. In this second installment of his Reluctant White Knight series, Anderson’s strategy of mixing syrupy romance with paramilitary procedural feels even more unconvincing and dissonant. Tom and Sunny’s nuptials are a mix of gauzy sentimentality and guns-at-the-ready security protocols, as the Secret Service mobilizes to bring a George W. Bush stand-in to the festivities. What really cements their union—and stalls the narrative—is their shared love of flying their private planes around the country the way other people drive to the store for milk. Anderson, a professional pilot, clearly loves to fly, and his aviation scenes are well-observed; but there are so many of them and they are so full of meticulously described nonevents that they weigh the story down. The few action scenes that surface are either minor—Tom waves his gun at some noisy college kids—or overblown, as when he calls in CIA spy satellites to locate a couple of teen runaways. The moments of ruckus hardly make up for the long stretches of mundane business wranglings and in-flight cruising.

A sluggish adventure that taxis but never takes off.

Pub Date: May 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-1469959535

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 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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