Most suitable for readers looking to enjoy an energetic tale based in a real-world context, without extensive attention to...



In McGinnis’ (The Guide’s Guide Augmented, 2005, etc.) first foray into fiction, a series of near-fatal attractions conspire to turn one man’s quest to gain peace and self-knowledge into a contest for his own survival.

Frustrated by the air of mystery surrounding his parents’ murder when he was a child, Adam Weldon sets out into the Kern River region to learn more about their deaths. As soon as he arrives, however, circumstances shift: Adam finds himself adrift in a complex web of black market crime, local law enforcement and shadowy individuals that remain elusive. When he stumbles upon a cartel-related shootout along the river, he connects with Tripnee, the seductive FBI agent and the target of the unsuccessful hit. Together, they elude the henchmen long enough to catch up with Tripnee’s friend, a rafting guide named Becca, who temporarily takes them into her crew. They begin a helter-skelter journey through the Kern Valley that leads further into the bowels of organized crime. Faced with a series of uncomfortable revelations about the partner he’s grown closer to throughout the entire ordeal, Adam finds himself at the center of several delusions about his own past, as well as his parents’. Yet these delusions are only resolved after the intricacies of the surrounding violent criminal realm are uncovered. McGinnis crafts a novel oriented toward both readers of crime fiction and nature writing. His prose oscillates between quick-moving action sequences and lyrical descriptions of the mountainous Southern California setting. This balance sometimes causes the plot to be difficult to discern; more thorough editorial guidance would benefit the novel. Ultimately, however, the story manages to incorporate humor, pathos and even geography into its arc, resulting in a fun, creative take on the temperamental, erratic and bloody drug trade that exists in the United States.

Most suitable for readers looking to enjoy an energetic tale based in a real-world context, without extensive attention to technical detail.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1975


Page Count: 177

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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



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

Did you like this book?

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


Page Count: -

Publisher: Hastings Creations Group

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?