Written in a fashion similar to that of a fractured fairy tale, Pride and Premeditation is a tongue-in-cheek retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Although Tirzah Price employs many of the same characters and even opens with a play on Austen’s original line, “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a brilliant idea, conceived and executed by a clever young woman, must be claimed by a man” (1), she takes other liberties. While Price makes an effort to stay true to the etiquette and customs of the early nineteenth century, Lizzie Bennet’s ambitions to become a barrister—or even a solicitor—would have been out ofRead More →

Readers of Katherine Patterson will likely appreciate Yonder by Ali Standish. The community of Foggy Gap proves the world is a confusing place—with gaps in understanding and with clarity of vision required on subjects like justice, prejudice, war, and courage. Set in the early 1940s, Standish shares a perspective of what the years surrounding World War II may have been like in the United States. Her story suggests that the country’s role in WWII is more complicated than many of us are taught to believe, especially in the way in which news about Hitler’s Jewish extermination campaign was publicized or received limited coverage. For theRead More →

Largely inspired by her father’s own story, Wai Chim writes Freedom Swimmer to capture a tumultuous time in China’s history. Set in Guangdong Province in 1968, the novel reveals the journey of Ming Hong who is orphaned at age eleven. For him, the past dances in dark shadows and whispers of loss and loneliness. Ming, who is shy and resigned to his fate, loves the ocean—its murmuring, its offer of freedom, and its ability to drown his fears. Swimming not only gives him peace and confidence but brings him closer to his father and the strength of his dream of reaching Hong Kong. At theRead More →

As The Llano Kid is making his way to California in Dead Man’s Gold by Paul K. Brown, the half-Cherokee, half-Irishman happens upon Jake Peters, who has been shot and left for dead in the Arizona desert. After making a promise to the dying man, Llano takes up temporary residence in Prescott with the intention of freeing Jake’s daughter, Melissa, from bondage because of her father’s debt. Because Llano imagines an awful existence for a young frontier girl who has been taken as collateral on an unpaid bank note, his moral compass won’t let him ride on. “Folks in these parts, they was downright brutalRead More →

Not just another Holocaust survivor’s story, Bluebird by Sharon Cameron is both fascinating and horrifying.  It prompts readers to consider along with Cameron’s protagonist: “Is this the world? Where nothing is fair? Where it is impossible not to cry? Where wars are not glorious or noble, just dirty and blood-soaked” (94)? It also prompts us to ask: Is it always better to know the past and the things that have happened? Cameron’s protagonist decides, “If you don’t know, then you can’t understand what justice is” (105). After experiencing the atrocities in Berlin during Hitler’s reign, Inge von Emmerich concludes that she has survived for aRead More →

Inspired by Louis L’Amour and targeting fans of the western genre, Paul K. Brown writes The Llano Kid series in which he traces the journey of his title character. In the third book of the series: Cactus Valley Lawman, readers learn the origin of the protagonist’s name, as well as additional pieces to the story of this young man who was orphaned as a boy. Now, Llano has taken on a job as security and scout for a wagon train heading west to California. When the wagon train is ambushed, Billy Nevil’s Ma is killed, leaving her son Billy an orphan at age twelve. Seeing himself inRead More →

Writing a western set in the 1870s, Paul K. Brown invites readers on a ride with The Llano Kid, the first of the Llano Kid Adventures. Half Cherokee and half Irish, Llano was orphaned when he was twelve.  On Llano’s path to young adulthood, Brown recounts various encounters with drunks, bullies, thieves, and gunmen who seem to prefer bravado or mob mentality without any notion for getting the facts.  Now nineteen and seasoned by these experiences, Llano is looking for a place to find honest work and to hang his hat. However, he will have to navigate the harsh code of the West and theRead More →

Dark, gruesome, and captivating, The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker is Book One in a planned duology. In this first installment, Baker writes the story of an angry biracial girl—Ren Scarborough—who is trying to find out where she belongs. This feeling of being half and not whole, as well as the label foreigner haunts Ren, following her from London, England, where she serves as a Reaper, to Japan where Ren was born a Shinigami. In both roles, Ren, who is a descendent of darkness—made not of flesh and blood but of Death and Time—works for Death. This servitude is supposed to be sacred,Read More →

By their own definition, Naomi and Malcolm Smith used to “live in sin” and had their first baby, Jemima Genesis (aka Genny), out of wedlock while in their teens. However, being God-fearing individuals and believers in the notion of God’s mercy in granting second chances, they marry and eventually answer the call to enter the seminary. Now, they serve as co-pastors at Resurrection Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California. Naomi and Malcolm completed their family with two more daughters, naming each one after Job’s girls from the Bible. Of the Smith trinity, Genny went on to become the youngest Black woman to earn her PhDRead More →