Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or Subscribe
Dragonbride

Raani York. CreateSpace, $14.99 paper (424p) ISBN 978-1-5002-3210-8

..
First in the planned Dragon Chronicles trilogy, York’s fantasy has its merits but doesn’t entirely hit its mark. Raised as the only magician in the world, a 16-year-old named Shalima learns that she must fulfill an ancient prophecy and become the bride of the Golden Dragon, the king of all dragons and protector of good in the world. Shalima quickly comes to love Dragan, the Golden Dragon’s human form, but their wedded bliss is interrupted by the arrival of the Kalman, the Golden Dragon’s evil counterpart. York’s worldbuilding is rich in detail, and her cast of characters is widely diverse, but meandering writing (“As a Princess, my position definitely was higher than theirs, but this was not a matter of rank. They were close friends and very brave, but I needed space”) and a lack of character development overshadow these strengths. Unfortunately, the characters’ struggle to defeat the Kalman amounts to an exercise in being in the right place at the right time and deciphering prophecies that spell out exactly what’s going to happen. Ages 14–up. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 01/23/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Last Generation

Ben Robertson. Menadena Publishing, $16.95 paper (390p) ISBN 978-0-9835268-0-3

..
In this historical coming-of-age story, Robertson spins a tale regarding the “last generation” of Viking-descended Greenlanders, those who vanished around the start of the 16th century. In 1501, 17-year-old Bridget Thorsdottir is one of those eking out an existence in an increasingly hostile, resource-starved region, as the ice gradually spreads to cover the Eastern Colony. When Bridget learns that her people are to travel to the New World to establish a fishing colony in Newfoundland, Bridget’s father refuses to go, but Bridget sees opportunity. She strikes out on her own with her stepbrother, Bjorn, but when their father is arrested for supposed sorcery, they turn back to rescue him, little realizing that they’ll have to fight for their lives. Robertson writes with a keen eye for atmosphere and a knack for historical research and description, and his story skillfully plays against the conflict between Christian and pagan beliefs, as well as the ethnic clash between Norse and Inuit peoples. However, the narrative suffers from repetitive, stilted dialogue and a meandering plot; Robertson’s prose doesn’t always match up to his worldbuilding. Ages 12–up. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 01/23/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Cousin Bella: The Whore of Minsk

Sherman Yellen. Moreclacke, $8.95 trade paper (118p) ISBN 978-1-4952-9043-5

..
Playwright and screenwriter Yellen shares the story of his elderly relative, the titular Cousin Bella, who grew up in czarist Russia. Once Bella’s father died, her stepmother sold her to a brothel, from which she was rescued by the author’s grandmother. The family moved to America, and Bella met up with a former client, who married her. They are happy together at first, except for their inability to have children. When a lodger in Bella’s apartment leaves her daughter behind, Bella falls in love with the child and takes her as her own, eventually lying to the mother and feigning the baby’s death in order to keep her. However, that act has tragic consequences, as the lodger’s son comes to ask questions about his mother, and then falls in love with his sister, finally marrying her. Bella is forced to reveal her deception and in the process loses her relationship with her adoptive daughter. Yellen’s family story is incredible, and the reader is drawn in almost at once. Bella’s story is told in a matter-of-fact manner, enhancing the believability but making readers wish for a richer storytelling experience to dramatize all the facts. That said, readers who want to learn more about the New York City of the early 20th century will find this to be a compelling and intriguing read. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 01/23/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Confessions of an Ebook Virgin: What Everyone Should Know Before They Publish on the Internet

Laura Shabott. Long Point Press, $9.99 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-0-9888979-7-7

..
Writer and self-publishing evangelist Shabott puts pen to paper for a likable but insubstantial stab at helping fellow authors make their books available through Kindle, Nook, and other digital platforms. Her “manifesto” is designed to appeal to writers who haven’t had much luck publishing through traditional publishers: “Within this amazing new paradigm, no writer has to follow the traditional, often fruitless, path of finding an agent, who then hunts for a publisher—a journey that can take years—and might never happen.” A slim manual clocking in at a little more than 100 pages, the book covers the practicalities of self-publishing: hiring an editor, “design[ing] the right package,” getting reviewed prior to publication, creating e-books, and advertising yourself and your book. All these items are summed up in a concluding checklist, which represents Shabott’s’s most valuable offering. The chapters, on the other hand, are chatty and encouraging, but lack the substance to back up their suggestions. Without more concrete information, advice such as “Everyone is different, so discover what works for you and stick with it,” seems unlikely to provide aspiring authors with the key to success. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 01/23/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Kizuna Coast

Sujata Massey. Ikat, $16 trade paper (372p) ISBN 978-0-983661-05-4

..
The earthquake and tsunami that devastated Honshu, Japan, in 2011 kick-starts Agatha-winner Massey’s moving 11th Rei Shimura mystery (after 2008’s Shimura Trouble). Rei, a Japanese-American antiques dealer, and her new husband, Michael Hendricks, a former spy now working for a think tank on Pacific Rim issues, are playing mah-jongg at home in Hawaii when they hear the devastating news. Rei ascertains that her family escaped serious harm, but it takes a bit longer for her to discover the fate of her mentor in the antiquing business, Yasushi Ishida. To her relief, Yasushi survived as well, although he suffered a serious head injury. When Yashushi asks her to come to Japan to help him, she agrees immediately, to Michael’s dismay. The book’s most effective portions deal with Rei’s role in the relief efforts. The whodunit takes a while to manifest itself and could have been dispensed with without loss. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 01/23/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Retail

Joshua Danker-Dake. CreateSpace, $11.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-5002-2695-4

..
Danker-Dake incorporates humor, emotion, and social commentary into his debut novel, which reads like the script for a smart comedy film. Self-deprecating narrator Penn Reynard is a young, aspiring writer making ends meet by working behind the returns desk at the House Station, a fictional big-box store in Leetown, Mo., modeled after Home Depot and Lowe’s. He’s also a virgin, saving himself for marriage. In the Paint department, he meets Chloe van Caneghem, a sweet girl with like-minded morals, and their evolving relationship is at the heart of this dialogue-rich story. The couple’s sidekick is service-desk commander Angry Pete—a shrill-voiced young man whose mind and mouth are constantly moving. Danker-Dake’s blunt and brief portrayals of clueless customers add to the book’s charm, as do the outrageous names he assigns to characters: Promilla, Kord, Osric, Thoth, and Fielding. At times, the book satirizes the retail world, portraying high-level personnel at the House Station as despicable automatons who refuse to acknowledge the toll employees pay for working for a soulless corporation. With many scenes occurring inside the store, in a booth at the local IHOP, or at Penn’s apartment, the plot doesn’t take many significant turns. That readers won’t care speaks volumes about Danker-Dake’s ability to propel a character-driven narrative. Here’s to a sequel. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 01/23/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Healing Ruby

Jennifer Westall. Jennifer Westall, $3.99 e-book (369p) ASIN B00O3GRNF2

..
Coming of age in Depression-era Alabama is fraught with pitfalls for Ruby Graves in the opener of Westall’s (Love’s Providence) Healing Ruby series. Ruby is a typical young woman of her time, but then tragedy strikes her family repeatedly, much like the biblical figure Job. In the wake of those tragedies comes a new understanding of her faith, and more questions than she can ever find answers to, among them mysteries in her family’s past. Plot strands are teased out slowly and answers revealed as the story progresses, and the novel builds to a satisfying climax followed by a gentle push toward the next installment. Woven with scriptural references that and brutally frank regarding the treatment of people in the 1930s South, Westall’s story also sounds notes of hope and faith that balance her portrayal. Insight into history and race relations enrich a textured narrative. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 01/09/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
Third Daughter

Susan Kaye Quinn. Susan Kaye Quinn, $12.99 trade paper (346p) ISBN 978-1-4937-7477-7

..
Romance and intrigue collide in the fluffy, entertaining first installment of Quinn’s Dharian Affairs steampunk trilogy. As the third daughter of the Queen of Dharia, 17-year-old Aniri has the opportunity to marry for love. However, she agrees to an arranged marriage with Prince Malik of neighboring Jungali after he makes an impassioned plea for peace—and her mother presents a calculated need for a spy amongst the Jungali. Far from home, Aniri must find the evidence needed to prevent war, even as she maintains the pretense of romance with her betrothed. As danger mounts, so do the lies, deceptions, and mysteries. The feisty, resourceful princess leaps into and out of trouble with grace and style. Quinn (the Mindjack trilogy) could have done much more with the alternate East Indian setting, which feels mostly like window dressing, but steampunk fans will appreciate the airships, swordfights, illicit romance, fantastical technology, desperate escapes, last-minute rescues, and breathtaking scenery, all pulled together by a genuine sense of fun. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 01/09/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Narrow Path to War: Marshals of Arion, Book 1

DL Frizzell. BookLogix, $14.95 trade paper (363p) ISBN 978-1-61005-499-7

..
Frizzell’s imagined universe becomes less interesting as his debut proceeds—not a good sign for a series kickoff. A fleet of six spaceships “crossed an entire arm of the galaxy in only a decade” to establish a new home for humanity on an earthlike planet, Arion. During the next 500 years, the population of Arion lost the use of all “micro-electronics.” The introduction of the main characters is well handled; student Alex Vonn refuses to take shelter during a powerful magnetic storm so that he can witness the phenomenon, and Frizell makes the danger palpable. Marshal Hugh Redland is first seen on the trail of an escaped prisoner, only to find that he’s chasing the wrong quarry, a mercenary in possession of an odd map of the entire planet. All the ingredients for excitement are here, but the plot focuses on Vonn’s tiresome search for the truth about his father, the characters lack depth, and the prose is unmemorable. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 01/09/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
SoulServe

Robert S. Wilson. Robert S. Wilson, $2.99 e-book (95p) ASIN B00N16R44K

..
Murders that mix technology with ghosts bring Antivii agent Ray Garret into a world of secret experiments that could save his dying wife in this short, well-structured murder mystery. Though the book is a bit sparse on details (there’s no stated year or location, and Antivii’s role is never fully defined), Ray’s a very human character, good at his job and devoted to his wife, Rhonda—so much that he’s willing to risk his career in order to save her life. The links between the murders and Rhonda’s salvation grow as the race against time quickens, building to a heart-wrenching conclusion that hits the reader a few pages before it slams into Ray. There are issues with how Wilson (the Empire of Blood series) handles female characters—Rhonda is merely a plot point, and helpful scientist Dr. Rainns is a classic sexpot—but otherwise this thriller doesn’t disappoint. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 01/09/2015 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.