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
The Dancing Road

Pamela Fox. CreateSpace, $8.99, paper (189p) ISBN 978-1-4953-5105-1

After the death of her husband, middle-aged Meli hits the road on voyage of self-discovery. Plagued by doubts and guilt, she survives grief with the support of good friends. During her trip from Santa Clarita, Calif., to Broken Arrow, Okla., Meli learns about her Native American heritage—and works to discover herself. While Fox presents readers with an appealing story—an thirty-something woman taking to the road to find herself after a tragedy—her execution is often shaky and the novel proves overly sentimental. Many of the characters are unlikeable, which prevents reader from engaging with the story, and stilted dialog further hampers what could have been an interesting journey.

Reviewed on 07/25/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Birdcatcher: 30th Anniversary Revisit

Walter Joseph Schenck Jr. iUniverse, $29.95 paper (568p) ISBN 978-1-4620-0582-6

Formerly a second lieutenant, Private Abel Joseph Jarrett is on a quest to redeem a soul in this idiosyncratically powerful drama of the Vietnam War. An encounter with mystic Mark Evans persuades Jarrett that Vietnam will be the forging ground in the battle for his soul. Obsessed with the need to atone for the murder of an orderly under his command, Jarrett sees himself as a vacant personality controlled by an entity called the Birdcatcher. Jarrett's bizarre quest to escape from his void of isolation by absorbing the personality of another, as he did with the orderly, takes on increasingly surreal dimensions, with the dissolution of Vietnam providing a violent backdrop to his own struggle. As Jarrett encounters death, sex, and the blandishments of the Birdcatcher, Schenck weaves an odyssey that is both startlingly unique and virtually incommunicable. Despite some tendentious dialogue and Jarrett's excessive self-reflection, Schenck has delivered a tantalizing and startlingly original work.

Reviewed on 07/25/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Tea Cups & Tiger Claws

Timothy Patrick. Country Scribbler, $15.99 paper (435p) ISBN 978-0-9893544-0-0

In Patrick's uneven novel, the lives of triplet girls born in 1916 take very different paths after a wealthy woman adopts daughters Abigail and Judith from poor, earthy Ermel Railer and her husband, Jeb. The third sister, Dorthea, is not as lucky—and eventually she ends up in a work camp. However, over the next half-century, the sisters' paths cross as Dorthea embarks on a relentless and increasingly vicious quest for the life her sisters obtained. While the book's theme of true merit versus apparent virtue is fascinating, the novel suffers from poor plotting and underdeveloped characters. Additionally, the story's climax is implausible, melodramatic, and drawn-out. In the end, these deficiencies will prevent readers from becoming fully engaged in the sisters' story.

Reviewed on 07/25/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
My Lady Viper: Tales from the Tudor Court

E. Knight. Knight Media, $15.99 paper (410p) ISBN 978-0-9903245-0-8

Knight delivers a suspenseful historical romance replete with political conspiracies and erotic encounters set in 16th-century England. Struggling to survive during the reign of King Henry VIII, Lady Anne Seymour manipulates political alliances in an effort to safeguard her family's lives when her sister-in-law, Jane Seymour, marries the King. Struggling between ambition and conscience, Anne must maintain the King's favor and preserve his marriage to Jane. But when her heart beats for dashing Sir Anthony Browne, she is torn between duty and lust. In this ably plotted first book in a new series, Knight skillfully captures the atmosphere of the Tudor Court. In Anne, the author creates a paradoxical but well drawn heroine full of self-destructive desire. Characters are drawn in broad, colorful strokes, merging grand historical pageantry with psychological depth. Fans of historical fiction will find themselves eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series from Knight.

Reviewed on 07/25/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Farmer's Son

N.E. Lasater. N.E. Lasater, $14.95 paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-9903069-0-0

Dyslexia propels this emotionally intense drama chronicling familial abuse and power struggles. Ashamed of his inability to properly read, Bobby McAllister succumbs to his father's constant ridicule and sacrifices his college plans to work the family farm and marry childhood sweetheart Sarah. Years later, Bobby discovers that his own son Kevin is also dyslexic. Can Bobby stop punishing himself for his condition and confront his father before his marriage and family are destroyed? This compassionate and honest examination of the relationships between fathers and sons features complex, emotionally scarred characters. While dyslexia results in much of the characters' anguish, rage, and suffering, the pain that family members inflict on one another is the dark heart of the modern rural tragedy. With an ending that is both shocking and redemptive, this is a powerful drama with a conscience.

Reviewed on 07/25/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Far Away, I Land

Viki Alles-Crouch. Inkwater Press, $21.95 paper (370p) ISBN 978-1-62901-025-0

This novel follows the lives of a young Hungarian girl named Erzsike during World War II; a Sri Lankan boy named Prema, who is abused by his father; and Robert Cross, a British soldier haunted by war memories. Over the course of the book—which in its structure is somewhat reminiscent of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas—the many story lines and lives eventually converge. While Alles-Crouch excels at description—those of the Sri Lankan setting are particularly well rendered—the novel's pacing is uneven and some of its characters are too broadly drawn. Readers will likely be less curious about how the stories connect and more interested in getting a richer portrayal of the main characters.

Reviewed on 07/25/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Due Unto: Denmark Vesey's Story

K.F. Jones. Two Harbors Press, $24.95 paper (396p) ISBN 978-1-62652-732-4

Denmark Vesey is known to history as the leader of an attempted slave revolt in Charleston, S.C., in 1822. This novel from Jones depicts Vesey's life: his youth, his enslavement, his emancipation, and his re-enslavement. Later, while in Charleston, in 1799, Vesey won a lottery prize that allowed him to buy his freedom, though he was later arrested and executed for planning the slave revolt. Jones creates a plausible depiction of Vesey's life and struggle, as well as ably rendering the tragedy and indignation of slave life. While the addition of a love story slows the novel's pace and is somewhat distracting from the central narrative, fans of historical fiction will find Vesey's story fascinating and well told.

Reviewed on 07/25/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
A Tight Grip: A Novel About Golf, Love Affairs, and Women of a Certain Age

Kay Rae Chomic. She Writes Press, $16.95, paper (225p) ISBN 978-1-938314-76-6

When 46-year-old local golf celebrity Jane "Par" Parker is arrested by Deputy Dee Dee Virgil for driving under the influence, the incident becomes front-page news. And while Par is still determined to win an upcoming golf tournament, she finds herself forced to confront her marriage to alcoholic Nick, the anniversary of her father's murder, and herself. Chomic's novel may appeal to fans of the genre, but it suffers from an unlikable protagonist. Additionally, a lack of tension, predictable plotting, and underdeveloped characters will prevent many readers from ever fully engaging with Par and her struggle.

Reviewed on 07/25/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Hamster S.A.M.: Odd-ventures in Space!

Dave McDonald. DM Creative/Sweet Corn (www.davemcdonald.com), $9.99 ISBN 978-0-9798445-2-2

McDonald has clearly never met a pun he couldn't put to good use, and he packs the pages of this graphic novel with them, along with plenty of pratfalls, groaners, and gags. Illustrated in b&w in a style that slots somewhere between SpongeBob SquarePants and Walt Kelly's Pogo comics, the story introduces an over-serious classroom hamster named Sam with a double life as an agent with the Secret Adventure Patrol. After receiving a mission that will take him to the Hamster-national Space Station, Sam falls in with a wisecracking, mullet-wearing mouse named Fescue, and the two are on their way into space (in an outhouse strapped to a booster rocket). Potty humor and slapstick are abundant (Sam winds up covered with bird droppings, molten cheese, and the contents of a clogged toilet at various points), and Sam and Fescue gleefully mug for readers as they deliver their punchlines ("Now that's how you blow a nose!" cheers Sam after they take out a nose-shaped enemy spaceship, the "Schnozzola-3000"). A lighthearted interview with real-life astronaut Gregory H. Johnson closes out this proudly goofy adventure. Ages 7–up.

Reviewed on 01/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Riddle of Prague

Laura DeBruce. CreateSpace, $12.99 paper (212p) ISBN 978-1-4848-8453-9

Drawing on time spent living in Prague, DeBruce debuts with this thriller, first in a planned trilogy, set in 1991 following the fall of Communism. Eighteen-year-old Hana Silna returns to her exiled family's Prague home to reclaim it on behalf of her ailing mother, and is immediately sucked into a bizarre mystery involving multiple murders. It turns out that different factions are seeking a flask that holds the key to immortality, lost centuries ago, and Hana has accidentally discovered the only clues to its whereabouts. She must find the flask before it falls into the wrong hands, but with immortal schemers around every corner, and everyone out for themselves, she's not sure who she can trust—including Alex, a dashing young American, and David, who turns up when least expected. DeBruce does a lovely job of drawing on historical lore, local atmosphere, and the post-Soviet era (marvel at the brick-size mobile telephone!), but the somewhat convoluted plot and frequent twists can make the narrative hard to follow. Some characters come off as flat or inscrutable, and the inconclusive ending lands abruptly. Ages 12–up.

Reviewed on 01/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
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.