Heat and Light: A Novel
A small Pennsylvania town established by the famous Baker brothers became prominent through the discovery of coal. Long after the coal was mined and the town was nearly deserted, natural gas became the new buzz in Bakerton, sitting atop the Marcellus Shale. Heat and Light provides a glimpse into the conflicts involved with those desperate for a financial break while rivaling those who are adamant to keep their soil clean. Told from many different vantage points, Heat and Light weaves a tale of the greed that comes with mining natural resources, from the land man to the CEO and all the roles in between. Nearly everyone wants a piece of the natural gas money pie, but at what cost?
From the author who brought the best-selling books Mrs. Kimble and Baker Towers, Jennifer Haigh creates a fictional narrative with incredible depth. Haigh’s fifth novel is a page-turner closely related to a previous novel, Baker Towers. Brilliantly told through Haigh’s relevant language, this outstanding narrative of the coal and natural gas industry reaches from the past and makes it relevant in the present.
Hauling Through by Peter Bridgford is an exciting novel with a lot of adventure, suspense, and intrigue. Readers will be lured deeply into this brilliantly well-written piece. Peter Bridgford’s talent shines through on every page. Hauling Through offers readers a mixture of what the life of fishermen in Maine is like and how the small-town life can be difficult. Living in my own small town, where people either make it or break it the acceptance levels is not easy at all. The variety of characters inside this quirky read will keep readers turning the pages. There are a lot of laugh-out-loud moments. Peter Bridgford has captured the reality of life into his amazing world of fiction. Once readers get past the introductions and know what’s going on, the plot speeds up from there. Inside Hauling Through by Peter Bridgford, readers are introduced to the small-town way of life. If readers knew what lobster work was like for those living in Maine within this novel, readers would appreciate their lobsters a bit more. Life, of lobster catching and crazy town folk is everything you would expect in Kestrel Cove. It is here that we meet the main character, Jamie Kurtz. He isn’t an insider of this community until close to the ending. His journey of the ups and downs that he has experienced in this fictional town is a lot for one man, a man who felt closer to a town than his own family. But what really will entice readers is the offer that Jamie receives and what happens from there. Spies, romance, and trouble lurk ahead waiting at every readers’ fingertips. I enjoyed reading this tale and following Jamie as his journey builds up and comes to a close. Peter Bridgford’s novel has what every reader wants in a novel, with realistic characters that readers won’t forget. Overall, I highly recommend this title to readers everywhere.
Amelia (Mel) Harper is plagued with dreams, ever since the loss of her parents in a car accident. Longing for interpretations to the vivid images that make her toss and turn at night, she finds solace in confiding her nightmares to a mysterious older gentleman named Harry, who only communicates to her through written messages. Although he offers good counsel, Mel’s problems are suddenly compounded by other perplexing situations, especially a call from a travel agency seeking confirmation to travel plans for two that she neither booked, nor paid for. When she decides to ask her best friend, Kevin, if he’d go with her and he accepts the invitation, Kevin is unaware of the background to this trip, as well as Mel’s hidden agenda – her sense that she is suppose to be there for something much more than a nice vacation. True to her instincts, what unfolds is a situation that is not only totally unexpected, but also metaphysically mind boggling.
In her debut novel, Kirk has produced a tale replete with unique characters that embody sturdy personality traits, in particular Mel — the lead protagonist. Written in first-person narrative, Mel recounts what takes place after her parents’ demise. Her life is pretty much centered on her work and her familial, platonic, and mysterious relationships that she has with her grandpa, Kevin, and Harry, respectively. Kirk keeps the plot crisp and flowing by slowly building suspense through Mel’s evolving dreams and the cryptic signs she discovers along the way, which are juxtaposed by her tight-knit relationships and by incorporating dangling closures to chapters that don’t immediately resolve in subsequent chapters.
Constant Pull may be earmarked as contemporary fiction; however, it leans more toward a thriller. Kirk has shrewdly integrated non stereotypical anticipation with the possibility of impending romance. Book one, which concludes with a riveting cliffhanger, will definitely leave readers yearning for the next in a brilliantly prospective series.
The Year We Turned Forty: A Novel
Three friends make it to their fiftieth birthday which they promised they’d spend together, just like they spent their fortieth. While on their celebration trip, they are given the opportunity to go back in time, to their fortieth year, for a second chance. Jessie remembers giving birth to another man’s child and losing her husband when the secret gets out. Claire believes that may be the year she lost control of her daughter and suffered through the death of her mother. Gabriela wishes she had tried harder to have the baby she finally realized she wanted, long after her husband had stopped asking. After a brief reflection, they go back, knowing what they know now, and try to alter the past to make way for a better future. They quickly learn that some things are meant to happen, and that perhaps the only thing to come out of the visit back was a lesson learned.
Fenton and Steinke have written a story reminiscent of works by Liane Moriarty or Jen Lancaster. Readers will hope and yearn for the best, even when the characters are at their worst. A great read, this is the perfect one for book clubs and beaches.
Rated 5.00 out of 5Dinosaur Isle
Agent Jack McConnell, from the United Nations Dinosaur Investigation Team (UNDIT), heads to Dinosaur Isle to investigate dinosaurs appearing in nearby Guam. Soon after Jack meets up with the small team of paleontologists on D13 one of three islands that encompass the isle, strange things begin to occur, such as Triceratops offspring and three dead Nanotyrannus. One of the team recognizes different characteristics on the dromaeosaurids, which is a sign that their DNA has been manipulated. Yet, when Jack investigates these “raptors,” as well as researches on one of Dinosaur Isle’s deceased scientists, things turn deadly rather quickly.
Tracy Lee Ford pens a story that makes Jurassic Park look like kid literature in his debut novel. Opening with an illegal dinosaur-fighting scene, Ford introduces his main character, Jack McConnell. An awkward and quasi-bumbling agent with a distinctive air of sophistication—reminiscent of the inimitable Maxwell Smart from the T.V. program Get Smart, Jack shows up on Dinosaur Isle dressed in nothing less than…a suit. From the get-go, Ford uses Jack as comic relief amid a plot replete with sinister underpinnings. To complement his humorous scenes, Ford includes engaging dialogue filled with light bantering.
Ford employs a number of literary elements to keep his third-person narrative flowing. Aside of comedy, Ford consistently alternates action-packed character scenes that can be easily categorized into Jack’s journey into this strange world of dinosaurs and the cryptic dealings of an unidentifiable madman—a definite good vs. evil theme. The most outstanding feature of Ford’s plot is the incredible amount of paleontological information that serves a dual purpose. While there is no doubt that Jack has his hands full trying to build up his understanding of the dinosaur realm and DNA, if he’s going to get anywhere with his investigation, Ford hopes that his audience will “learn a thing or two” about these interesting species in the process. Ford, who is a respected, self-taught paleontologist himself, touches upon so many areas of paleontology, such a bone and muscle structure, habitats, and behaviors, to name a brief list. Topping it off, Ford includes a pretty full glossary at the back of the book.
If this isn’t enough for dinosaur aficionados, there’s certain to be plenty more in store in Ford’s upcoming sequel.
The Sword of Telemon
Eiland’s Sword of Telemon is the first in the four-book Orfeo Saga. The story opens with Orfeo struggling to fit in upon returning to his family/tribe after having spent several years as a hostage in the city of Pylos. Shortly after the story opens, Orfeo’s brother Herron is taken as a slave by raiders.
Kiros, father of Orfeo and Herron, and King of the Achians (Achaeans), gathers the tribe at Delphi so that a plan of rescue may be formulated. In the end, Orfeo, the Wanderer known as Zurga, the hero Telemon (Telamon), and Telemon’s second, Orton, are dispatched on a diplomatic mission to ransom Herron or buy him from the slavers. Along the way to Pylos, Orfeo begins lessons in swordplay with Telemon. Zurga, whose role as a Wanderer puts me in mind of the Druids, teaches Orfeo the wisdom of the Wanderers. Together, Zurga and Telemon polish Orfeo as a craftsman polishes and shapes a raw gem to reveal the brilliance hidden within.
Things don’t go as planned with the retrieval, of course, and the group ends up tangling with a conquering people known as the Therans. Orfeo, accompanied by a young woman named Clarice, leaves the group to continue the search for the missing heir. Zurga, Telemon, Orton, and Nadahr, another Wanderer, recognize the danger the Therans pose, and remain behind to gather the various tribes together and begin arranging a defense against Theran incursion.
Orfeo and Clarice, traveling as entertainers, end up being invited to Thera by a man called Draik. Since they now believe Herron has been taken to Thera, they jump on the invitation and become contracted performers for Draik. For a while they are lulled into being at ease among the Therans, but that lasts only until things begin going south for the Therans in their war efforts. They seek scapegoats and turn on Draik, seeing his contributions to said war efforts as causing the failures. He is taken for treason, and the entertainer contracts he held are divvied up among the royals.
Orfeo and Clarice are nearly ready to abandon their search and flee Thera, when Clarice stumbles upon Herron. Mission complete, they flee Thera just in time, as the volcanic island decides to blow a gasket. Even so, the ship they are fleeing on is destroyed in the ensuing tsunami. The story goes on to tell the fates of the major players, some rather surprising.
Fun stuff: I really enjoy historical novels that look at the events that may be the seeds to myth and legend, in this case, the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The supernatural elements are weeded out, leaving behind a story more realistically plausible. This story also provided a unique and different take on Thera, known today as Santorini — one place believed to have been fabled Atlantis. Orfeo and Clarice weather the fury of one of the most deadly volcano eruptions of the time, one that fair wiped out a civilization.
Not so fun stuff: The story started a bit too slow for me. The prose can be flowy. I do feel that there is much that could be condensed or chopped entirely. The story needs another good proofing. There were a scattering of grammar and spelling errors, along with some inconsistencies. Two that really stick out in my mind are a description of Orfeo waking with his left hand clasping his left arm, and referencing both Zeus and Mars in regards to the same character. If they are Greeks, it would Ares instead of Mars. I have the same qualm about the use of Vulcan instead of Hephaestus. I also had a disagreement with some of the variant spellings (Achian/Achaean, Telemon/Telamon, Orfeo/Orpheus).
However, all that being said, Eiland’s Sword of Telemon, is a delightful sojourn to an ancient time. I loved it so much that I just bought the complete four-book set. If you enjoy historical fiction, or Greek history and mythology, this book is sure to please. Come, walk with Orfeo as he finds himself and comes into his own, as a warrior, as a scholar, as a man of the Achaeans and a man apart from the Achaeans. This is a brilliant rendering of a classic myth, and a coming of age story easy to relate to, especially if you’re a little on the eccentric side, like me! Orfeo must learn where he truly fits in given the vastly different experiences he’s had and doesn’t always find it an easy thing to do.