A delightful novel that delivers a tightly plotted, character-driven story about a hero confronting wondrous creatures.

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The Rampart Guards

From the The Adventures of Jason Lex series , Vol. 1

This first installment of a projected paranormal fantasy series chronicles the adventures of a 14-year-old boy who, after dealing with the disappearance of his mother, moves to another state.

Shortly after his mother’s blood-stained jacket is found in the mountains of Colorado, Jason Lex’s life is irrevocably changed forever. The sheriff’s office presumes she’s dead, the victim of a mountain lion attack. Then Jason’s shaken father decides to uproot the family and transport himself and his three children to a small town in Idaho. With no friends or family nearby except his Grandma Lena, Jason is shocked when he discovers that the local crazy guy—who is obsessed with filming the sky—turns out to be his mother’s twin brother. The young protagonist finds his life upended yet again when Uncle Alexander shares a bombshell revelation: namely that Jason’s ancestors have been secret guards charged with sustaining an energy field that maintains the balance between humans and cryptids (beasts like Bigfoot and the Chupacabra, whose existences haven’t yet been proved). Could Jason’s mother still be alive?  Soon he is forced to unravel an outlandish mystery involving his mother, his seemingly insane uncle, and a family legacy that involves nothing less than saving the world from cryptids. Terrien’s narrative voice captures Jason’s teen angst perfectly. Insecurities involving forging a self-image and finding one’s place in the world and more serious issues, like losing a parent, are examined with compassion and insight. At one point, Jason muses about suicide: "But is that what kids do when their moms disappear? Or die? Or whatever? Wasn’t it enough to feel like you’re dragging a bag loaded with rocks? Like you’re always fighting to keep from crying?" The cast of authentic and endearing characters is one of the novel’s many strengths, along with the brisk pacing, action-packed narrative, and creation of the fascinating creatures known as Skyfish. The cryptozoological thread, which subtly blurs the lines between reality and fantasy, gives this volume a wonderfully strange undertone. In a subgenre laid low by clichéd characters and conventional storylines, this paranormal fantasy tale is not only wildly entertaining, but also undeniably unique. Both adult and YA audiences should find this book appealing.

A delightful novel that delivers a tightly plotted, character-driven story about a hero confronting wondrous creatures.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9969031-2-7

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Camashea Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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