A cumbersome hybrid of golden-years love story and gun-toting adventure.

WILL IT BE SUNNY TOMORROW?

A RELUCTANT WHITE KNIGHT

Two extremely active seniors fall in love while battling terrorists in this creaky thriller–romance.

Tom Rowter, a retired aviation executive, has a secret past with the CIA and a heart still recovering from his wife’s death. Sunny Shinne is a three-quarters Apache grandma who’s also heiress to a cattle and oil empire. Their meet-cute happens when Tom chivalrously guns down two thugs attempting to kidnap Sunny on a Texas highway, his bullets beating Sunny’s own fusillade by a split second. Unruffled by the carnage, Sunny whisks Tom off to the ranch where her crusty but lovable plutocrat dad presides over a ranch-cum-city-state, complete with its own general store, retro diner, hangar full of aircraft, fortified armory and nuclear power plant. Tom ogles Sunny’s petite, raven-haired figure; she appreciates the cut of his jib. They bond over their mutual love of flying and shooting; said bond is greatly strengthened when further run-ins with bad guys require the couple to strip down and make out as a ruse. This first installment of the author’s Reluctant White Knight series strikes an awkward balance between saccharine romance and hard-bitten action. A lot of ardent gazing and flirty banter passes between Tom and Sunny, but these cloying passages clash tonally with the flyboy lingo, elaborate security protocols and countless “briefings” that encrust the manlier scenes. Firearms, including a “fully automatic AR-15 assault rifle with noise suppressor and folding support…effortless to use and yet so destructive,” are a central theme, and the novel is fairly obsessed with their availability, concealment and proper handling. But for all the paramilitary flourishes, Anderson’s action set pieces feel perfunctory and one-sided. There are always hordes of well-armed retainers and Feds around to rescue Tom and Sunny from their outgunned, overmatched adversaries; one showdown pits a phalanx of rifle-toting Secret Servicemen against a lone mountain lion. The book often feels like a fantasia about the luxuriously overstaffed lives of the rich and powerful: Tom and Sunny spend their time basking at the hacienda or on her enormous yacht, swarmed by cooks, valets, footmen and other solicitous hirelings; Sunny even has a U.S. senator at her beck and call to help cut bureaucratic red tape. Indulging in all that Texas-sized privilege tends to slow the storytelling to a crawl.

A cumbersome hybrid of golden-years love story and gun-toting adventure.

Pub Date: Dec. 23, 2008

ISBN: 978-1468078756

Page Count: 192

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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