Book Review: Out of the Black Land by Kerry Greenwood

Out of the Black LandOut of the Black Land
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen Press, February 2013
ISBN: 978-1-464-20038-0
Hardcover
Also available in trade paperback

Ancient Egypt; the land of power, luxury and intrigue. Soon-to-be Princess Mutnodjme rallies against expectations and forges her own path no thanks to her manipulating mother. Ptah-hotep finds himself thrust suddenly into a position of power that threatens his life and the lives of those he loves. Together, they must traverse the dangers of Egyptian life when the new, mad King plunges Egypt into despair. Will they survive in a world where anyone can be an enemy?

Out of the Black Land was a book that initially made me apprehensive when I saw three pages of characters listed in Egyptian names that I was convinced I’d forget instantly. But the story itself is absorbing, full of mystery, intrigue and more back stabbing than a good old episode of Dallas. From the crazy Prince to the slightly shallow, but beautiful Nefertiti, this book is full of interesting and well-rounded characters. Told from two points of view, namely that of Mutnodjme and Ptah-hotep, the story criss-crosses between the two as their lives run parallel and then over each other, bringing them together in a desperate effort to return Egypt to stability.

I loved the fact that female characters in the book had a lot of power and freedom compared to most girls today. They had rights to land, power and marriage settlements and what’s more, they were listened to and afforded the respect of men and women, regardless of their age and position. In many ways, it seemed to be a society that was more accepting and tolerant than some you see today. Marriage was made more for political reasons than love and yet both partners were free to be in relationships with others without recrimination. Homosexuality was tolerated without prejudice or fear and the older generation were given much more respect than I’ve seen lately. So, in many ways, this book is very interesting because of how advanced the Egyptians were so many years ago compared to our own technologically advanced society. People had more value then compared to nowadays and yet the same forces drove them; money, position and health.

This title does give a very interesting insight into the lives of the ancient Egyptians but it would be much more suitable for a slightly older age group rather than younger readers. This is mainly due to the frequent sexual scenes within the book that are probably not far off the mark historically but may be unsuitable for younger readers. Let’s just say those Egyptians sure got around. But, sex scenes aside, this is basically just a really good book with a tight plot, full of interesting characters that are both believable and dynamic. I would certainly recommend it to older readers aged 17+.

Reviewed by Laura McLaughlin, May 2013.

About Those Amazon Rankings

Ilene Schneider 2Rabbi Ilene Schneider, Ed.D., one of the first six women rabbis ordained in the U.S., hasn’t decided what she wants to be when she grows up. She is currently Coordinator of Jewish Hospice for Samaritan Hospice, Marlton, NJ. She is the author of the Rabbi Aviva Cohen mysteries, Chanukah Guilt and Unleavened Dead, and is working on the third, Yom Killer. She is also the writer of Talk Dirty Yiddish.

Chanukah Guilt was nominated for the Deadly Ink David Award for Best Mystery of 2007; was one of My Shelf’s 2007 Top Ten Reads; and was a Midwest Book Review Reviewers Choice Book. Unleavened Dead won First Place in the Public Safety Writers Association Writing Competition for “Fiction Book Published.”

Please visit her website/blog: http://rabbiauthor.com or email her at rabbi.author@yahoo.com.

Yes, I know better than to check my rankings on Amazon. After all, they reflect only the sales of books, both print and digital, from the Amazon site. And, all rumors and evidence to the contrary, there are a lot of other outlets for book sales. Plus, the algorithm they use to compute the rankings are incomprehensible to mere mortals. I sometimes wonder whether the software engineers who developed the method completely understand it. As far as I can tell, all it takes to get a #1 ranking is to make sure that ten of your friends buy the book simultaneously at 3:00 AM, when no one else is making any purchases.

Chanukah GuiltAnd I recently heard that if you rank higher (which means the rank number is lower) than one million, you’re doing okay. I also read several years ago, before e-books made self-publishing respectable and the numbers increased dramatically, that there are 100,000 books a year published in the U.S., with 90% of them selling fewer than 100 books. Those figures put me in the top 10% for sales at the time.

I don’t particularly put a lot of faith into any of those figures, nor do I obsess about my sales. I admit, though, that when someone tells me she (it’s usually a she) loved any of my books so much she lent it to her mother, her sister, her next door neighbor, and her cousin’s doctor’s ex-wife, I am tempted to say, “Why didn’t you buy them their own copies?”

I also admit that I do check the Amazon rankings. Not as often as right after my first Rabbi Aviva Cohen Mystery, Chanukah Guilt, was published, but every now and then. Okay, more now than then.

Talk Dirty Yiddish 2But if I didn’t check those figures occasionally, I would have missed something interesting that happened after my second Rabbi Aviva Cohen Mystery, Unleavened Dead came out last November. All of a sudden, the Amazon rankings of Chanukah Guilt took a sudden upturn. (As a pleasant side benefit, I also began to garner more reviews of the book.)

You have to understand I’m probably the least compulsive person I know. I have no idea which shoe I put on first. I don’t keep checking to make sure the oven is off after I finish baking. (It sometimes isn’t.) I can’t remember when I last balanced my check book (I trust the bank), and if it weren’t for that annoying warning light, I doubt if I’d remember when my car needs an oil change. I do have a tendency to straighten picture frames on the walls, I do turn off lights when I leave a room, and I never read the comic pages until I finish the rest of the paper. But that’s it. Except for book series.

It was after the sales of the first book increased that I realized I’m not the only compulsive booklover out there who has to read a Unleavened Deadseries in order of publication. Whenever I see a recommendation for a new book in a series, I go back and read all the previously published volumes first. For the past three years, I have used my Kindle exclusively, so I spend a lot of time trying to figure out the order of the books in a series, as the publication date on Kindle is for the e-book, not the print one.

Anyone who writes a series learns how to give just enough back story in the newest books so it can stand alone, while not boring those fans who have read the previous ones. Sometimes, a writer will make references to earlier events; I’m never sure if the references are to a book that wasn’t digitized, or is just a random comment by the author. So I do more research; i.e., I check Amazon for the print editions of the books. Sometimes, it entails a trip to the library, so I can borrow the print-only book. It also means I put the one I’m reading on hold until I finish the older one.

I don’t care how understandable and enjoyable a book is on its own. I’m going to go back and read the books in order. If there’s a support group for people like me, I’m not interested. I figure I’m doing a public service for other writers by lifting their spirits when their older books sell another copy. Even if it is on Kindle.

Book Review: Uninvited by Leah Spiegel and Meg Summers

Uninvited

Title: Uninvited
Series: South Hills Sidekicks #1
Authors: Leah Spiegel and Meg Summers
Publication date: February 11th 2012
Genre: Humorous YA Chick-Lit

Goodreads

Purchase Link:

Amazon

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UninvitedUninvited
South Hills Sidekicks #1
Leah Spiegel and Meg Summers
Leah Spiegel and Megan Summers, February 2012
ISBN 978-1469995984
Trade Paperback

From the authors—

When Alley started her senior year at Upper East High in the South Hills area, it was supposed to be the usual drag of hanging out with people who spent more on one outfit than Alley did on her entire wardrobe. That was until Kirsten, a girl in their clique, suddenly goes missing and the only people who seem to care are her friends. All evidence leads to the new comer Shane, a cocky and self-pretentious person in Alley’s opinion, but the police seem uninterested so she and the rest of the girls start a little investigation of their own. But they are nowhere closer to finding Kirsten than when they started and now they had the police’s attention; just not in the way they expected. The girls have to start over and discover that maybe it wasn’t an outsider who took Kirsten, but someone within their own clique who has something to hide; a secret that just might have gotten Kirsten killed.

Looking for a fun way to spend a day or two or three? Look no further, Uninvited is the perfect fluffy entertainment and you won’t be sorry you decided to hang out with Alley and her pals.

One of the oddities (to me) that I’ve noticed in contemporary young adult fiction is the repetition of certain stereotypical behaviors, most notably that the popular girls must also be mean girls. I’m happy to say that Ms. Spiegel and Ms. Summers have avoided that trap and these four are actually pretty nice to their classmates. They might very well be one of the top cliques in school, they’re attractive and three of the four have more money than any teenager needs but they’re also amusing, intelligent and, in the case of Val, refreshingly uncoordinated. Val reminds me of a dear friend from the past who was strikingly attractive and yet likely to fall flat on her rear or her face at any moment.

As a fan of mysteries, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Alley and the others turn into modern-day Nancy Drews when their friend goes missing and their attempts at sleuthing had me smiling all the way. I was actually pretty sorry to come to the end because I was having such a good time but, happily, there are two more books in the trilogy so Alley, Val, Kayla and Libby can draw me back into their adventures. I’m off to find Confiscated and Compromised right now.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2013.

About the Author

Leah Spiegel and Meg SummersAlthough we moved down to North Carolina several years ago, we’re originally from the Pittsburgh area. (That’s why a lot of our characters either live in the Burgh or reference our hometown football team, The Pittsburgh Steelers.) And yes, we even have the Southern accents to show for it now. Although Megan’s is considerable thicker, Leah still can’t understand the locals.

We are known as ‘the sisters’ among our neighborhood; when actually we’re probably really known as ‘the sisters with the Yorkies’. Our pups, Skippy Jon Jones and Captain Jack Sparrow, were given long names to compensate for their small size but not their large personalities.

If Leah’s not glued to her electronic devices, AKA her Kindle Fire and various laptops, you can find her training ‘the attack dogs’, running on the treadmill while conceiving the next great book idea with the Dave Matthews Band, Muse, Florence and the Machine, The Lumineers, and Pink (just to name a few) blaring out of her earphones.

If Megan’s not glued to her electronic devices AKA her iPad and Nook Color, you can find her teaching fourth graders, swimming marathon style at the pool, or cuddling with ‘the attack dogs’ as she watches Duck Dynasty, Gold Rush, Scandal, Person of Interest, Morning Joe, etc.

Leah graduated from Edinboro University with a BA in Art Education. Megan received her teaching degree from Edinboro University and Masters in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Technology from Grand Canyon University.

Author Links:
Website: http://www.leahspiegelandmegansummers.blogspot.ca/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4867023.Leah_Spiegel
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Leah-Spiegel-and-Megan-Summers/349519668482945
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Leah_Spiegel

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Book Reviews: The Look by Sophia Bennett and The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

The LookThe Look
Sophia Bennett
Chicken House, M arch 2013
ISBN 978-0-545-46438-3
Hardcover

I love this book.  So much, in fact, that this review is surprisingly difficult for me to write.   I don’t want to just gush about how much I enjoyed it, and I most certainly don’t want to give away too much.

The Look is an outstanding tale of two sisters, each experiencing life-altering changes that no one could have predicted.  They turn to each other. Seeing the evolution of their relationship was tremendously satisfying. While the girls are completely different, they are both charismatic and loveable, making the whole story almost tangible.

Ted Trout is tall, lanky with constantly disheveled hair, and a uni-brow.  For most 15 year old girls, this would be a nightmare. She accepts it and goes about her business.  Immediately, I loved Ted.  Her matter-of-fact way of dealing with things is unique and intriguing.  She often cracked me up. I think everyone will admire this cheeky girl who tends to go with the flow, without being passive.  The reader almost feels proud as Ted begins to realize, then embrace, the fact that she is a strong and confident girl.

Ava is the older sister.  She is gorgeous, sweet and totally smitten with her simply awesome boyfriend.  All is right in her world until she learns that she has cancer.  But wait—this is not a “cancer” book.  Ava is intricate to the story, yes, but she is not the main character and her disease is not the central theme.  Ava won’t allow herself to be consumed by this, so she focuses all of her energy on Ted and the changes she is making.

To me, this book is about self-discovery.   Learning that you can hear peoples’ opinions, but you get to choose which advice to follow; most importantly, you get to determine the impact the words have on you.  Mistakes will be made, but acknowledgment and an effort to correct will go a long way.  Leaving your comfort zone is imperative for growth.  You can try something new, hate it, yet still garner valuable insight.  When you are honest with yourself and you follow your heart, you won’t be wrong.  We all have a confidence and strength inside of us, we just may need to work hard to find it.

Please, read The Look.  I like everything about it, and I bet you will too.

Reviewed by jv poore, March 2013.

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The Iron WitchThe Iron Witch
The Iron Witch Trilogy #1
Karen Mahoney
Flux, February 2011
ISBN 978-0-7387-2582-6
Trade Paperback

We’ve all heard “don’t judge a book by its cover”; although I can’t seem to help myself.  Apparently, you can’t judge a book by its title either.  Both the cover and the title of The Iron Witch intrigued me.  Of course, I adore all things witchy, from the cauldron stirrers to Wiccans and all things in between.  I expected some version of a “typical” witch in this book.  I was wrong.

Donna Underwood is a typical teen in many ways, but her peers are not interested in seeing that.  She stands out because she wears long gloves.  Always.  This small differentiation is enough to bring out the meanness in her class mates and she is taunted and teased relentlessly.  Luckily, she has her best bud, Navin.  He is really the only friend she needs.

As if the hell of being the brunt of jokes and pranks at school isn’t enough, Donna’s home-life is a mystery, even to Donna herself.  Technically, she lives with her aunt, but mostly she is alone.  She remembers very little about her father’s death, although she was there.  Her mother in an asylum and Donna can’t really understand why.

The largest peculiarity is that Donna is “in training”.  She is being groomed to be a full member of an incredibly secret Order.  So secret, in fact, that she knows almost nothing about the Order, which means she can’t really trust them.

Despite Navin, Donna is totally alone.  Oh, and she is being pursued.  By faeries.  Okay, nothing about the title (or cover) prepared me for the Fey.  What a pleasant surprise!

By chance, and because of Navin, Donna meets Alexander (Xan).  It is quickly apparent that the two share similar secrets, but can they build enough trust to share them in time to save themselves?  We shall see.

Ms. Mahoney has created an intriguing and quite original story.  Her characters are rich, with depth.  There is humour, strength, support, and unparalleled loyalty; the kind you see in teenagers that are still sweetly naive.  The book pulled this reader in abruptly, and held me until the very end.  Each chapter shares a bit more information, and because the characters are so compelling, I felt invested in their adventure.

This book is the first in a trilogy, and since it was released in 2011, I was able to promptly purchase the following books, The Wood Queen and The Stone Demon.  This luxury is one of the best things about discovering a book that has been out for awhile.  As Karen Mahoney is not necessarily a well-known YA author (in the US), I highly recommend this for the readers that say “I can’t find anything to read”.

Reviewed by jv poore, June 2013.

Sizzling Summer Giveaway and an Introduction to Sharon Bayliss

Welcome to the exciting Sizzling Summer Giveaway, a chance to

win some terrific prizes and to meet Sharon Bayliss, a debut new adult

science fiction author you’ll want to add to your must-read list.

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Title: The Charge
Author: Sharon Bayliss
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Publication Date: March 2013
Genre: New Adult Science Fiction

When the King of the Texas Empire kidnaps Warren’s brother, Warren embarks into a still Wild West to
save him.
On his journey, he makes a discovery that changes his life forever–he and his brother are
long-lost members of the
Texas royal family and the King wants them both dead.

He gets help from an activist Texan named Lena, who’s itching to take on the King and happens to be a beautiful
firecracker
Warren can’t stay away from. Convincing her he’s not one of the bad guys becomes harder when
a mysterious energy stirs
in his body, turning his brain into a hive of emotions and memories–not all his own.

A legacy of violence is not all he inherited from the brutal Kings of Texas. The myth that the
royal family possesses supernatural powers may not be myth at all.

Gone are the days when choosing a major was a big deal. Now Warren must save his brother and
choose whether or not to be King, follow a King, or die before he can retire his fake ID.

Goodreads

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You can purchase The Charge on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and at the
Austin, Texas area bookstores, The Book Spot and Book People.

Check out The Charge summer scavenger hunt in Texas for a chance to win prizes!

Excerpt

Will Cole sat on the couch and put his head between his knees. He listened carefully for the sounds of the elevator so he would have time to compose himself before the door opened. He figured all guys feared introducing their girlfriend to their mother. But not all guys had the President of the United States for a mother, and a girlfriend on the terrorism watch list.

He heard the sounds of the elevator moving closer and before the ding sounded, Will stood and posed with a smile. His girlfriend, Lena Lowell, along with several armed members of the Secret Service, exited the elevator. Apparently not fazed by the small army around her, Lena approached Will and kissed him like they had met at a café for brunch.

The Charge“You look really pretty,” Will said.

“Is this outfit okay?” She brushed invisible dust off the shoulder of a royal blue dress that hugged her curves pleasantly. The blue made the ample helping of red in her blonde hair look brighter.

“It’s perfect. I hope it wasn’t too expensive. I didn’t know you were going to buy something new. You should have told me, I would have bought it for you.”

“Well, I wasn’t going to wear a Texas Freedom T-shirt.”

Will eyed the guards cautiously, but they didn’t react. Secret Service knew all about her affiliation with the radical Texas Freedom Campaign, but he wished she would let the elephant in the room sit quietly.

“Besides, you know how I feel about you buying me things.” She leaned close to him. “You’re nervous. You have those little red patches at the base of your neck that you get when you’re nervous.”

Will rubbed his neck. He hated having a tell. The guards must have gotten some instruction in their earpieces that Will couldn’t hear, because they re-entered the elevator with a sudden lack of concern for the possible terrorist in the President’s private quarters.

Will wouldn’t miss the White House. Living in the most securely protected home in the United States made it hard to have any fun. The same army of guards that kept invaders out had also kept Will in a painful state of good behavior. And if he did manage to sneak past them, an even more frightening army of paparazzi waited outside. He had just turned eighteen, and would move out in the fall to begin college. It couldn’t come soon enough.

He might live in the White House again one day, but when he did, the Secret Service guards would work for him.

“I’m not worried,” Will said. “You and my mother actually have a lot in common. I’m sure you’ll get along great.”

“That would be a little creepy if I thought it were true,” Lena said.

Will’s phone vibrated against his leg and he jumped.

The word Mom flashed on his phone.

“She’s not coming,” Will said. He let out an audible sigh of relief.

“How do you know? You didn’t even answer it yet,” Lena asked.

The low, gruff voice on the other line surprised Will. “Mr. Cole?”

“Uh, yes?”

“Everett Ward, Secret Service. Your mother regrets that she cannot attend lunch with your lady friend. She is preparing to make a statement.”

“About what? Did something happen?”

“She asked me to tell you not to worry. Everything will be okay.”

“What’s going on?”

“Just turn on the television.”

“Which channel?”

“All of them. Good afternoon to you, sir.”

About the Author

Sharon BaylissSharon Bayliss is a native of Austin, Texas and works her day job in the field of social work. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living in her “happily-ever-after” with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening).

You can connect with Sharon here:

http://www.facebook.com/authorsharonbayliss
http://www.facebook.com/thechargebook
http://www.sharonbayliss.com

https://twitter.com/SharonBayliss

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Check out all the authors featured in the Sizzling Summer Giveaway
and enter the drawing for an awesome prize!

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Beginning at Square One Again

Jeffrey Marks 2Jeffrey Marks was born in Georgetown, Ohio, the boyhood home of Ulysses S. Grant. Although he moved with his family at an early age, the family frequently told stories about Grant and the people of the small farming community.

At the age of twelve, he was introduced to the works of Agatha Christie via her short story collection, The Underdog and Other Stories. He finished all her books by the age of sixteen and had begun to collect mystery first editions.

After stints on the high school and college newspapers, he began to freelance. After numerous author profiles, he chose to chronicle the short but full life of mystery writer Craig Rice.

That biography (which came out in April 2001 as Who Was That Lady?) encouraged him to write mystery fiction. The Ambush of My Name is the first mystery novel by Marks to be published although he has several mystery short story anthologies on the market. He followed up with Atomic Renaissance: Women Mystery Writers of the 1940s/1950s and Anthony Boucher: A Biobibliography.

His work has won a number of awards including the Anthony in 2009 for his Anthony Boucher biography, Barnes and Noble Prize, and he has been nominated for an Edgar (MWA), an Agatha (Malice Domestic), a Maxwell award (DWAA), and an Anthony award (Bouchercon). Today, he writes from his home in Cincinnati, which he shares with his dogs.

About every four or five years, I have to completely start over. I write biographies, and after spending nearly half a decade with someone, there’s a terrible break-up (usually resulting in a book deal) followed by starting the whole process again with someone else. I must be a serial monogamy kind of writer. Being the type of person who doesn’t appreciate change, it’s usually a traumatic experience for me.

Ellery Queen

Ellery Queen

At the moment, I’m saying good-bye to Erle Stanley Gardner with a final edit, and starting on the biography of the two men who wrote as Ellery Queen. I’ve never done a two person biography before, so there are some instant challenges for me in terms of organization and structure of the book as well as two times the work.

And I’m back at square one. The interesting thing about starting a biography is the assumption that quite a bit is known about the subject. In the case of Ellery Queen, we know the broad strokes of their lives, but not the details. For example, Fred Dannay was hospitalized in 1940 after being in a very serious automobile accident. However, when I start to dig, the details are not available. The where, the other driver, the ramifications are all gone, and of course, I’m attempting to locate these details after 70 years have passed. The woman in the records department at the hospital actually laughed when I called and asked her about the records from the accident.

Erle Stanley Gardner

Erle Stanley Gardner

It can be worse than this though. For Craig Rice, I had to locate the information on her husbands, their names and the number. Ironically, the lack of basic information about a 20th century author intrigued me; it would also later frustrate me since I had to answer all of those questions myself.

Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. The thrill of learning details about my favorite authors, things that have been hidden for decades that I unearth like a literary Howard Carter, makes up some of the best moments of my life. For Erle Stanley Gardner, that moment came in a paper grocery bag, an uncatalogued bag full of letters on a heretofore never known situation, found at the Harry Ransom Center in Austin. Libraries are not great places to squeal with delight, but I did manage a silent happy dance that day.

There have been fun moments with my biographies. I’ve actually held the lie-detector test for Dr. Sam Sheppard, the man who served as the inspiration for The Fugitive. I had the fun of watching Home Sweet Homicide with the kids who served as the inspiration for Craig Rice’s book of the same name.

So I try to remind myself of all of these things as I look back at how far I’d gone with Mr. Erle Stanley Gardner and how far I still have to go with Ellery Queen. Starting back at Square One sounds like a drag, but I know that fun times will lie ahead – and perhaps a squeal and happy dance as well.

Atomic RenaissanceAnthony BoucherWho Was That Lady

Book Review: This Is W.A.R. by Lisa Roecker & Laura Roecker

This Is W.A.R.This Is W.A.R.
Lisa Roecker & Laura Roecker
Soho Teen, July 2013
ISBN 978-1-61695-261-7
Hardcover

From the publisher—

This is not a story of forgiveness…

The mystery of their best friend’s murder drives four girls to destroy the Gregory family. Emily Thorne would be proud.

Everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club saw Willa Ames-Rowan climb into a boat with James Gregory, the Club’s heir apparent.

And everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club watched him return. Alone.

They all know he killed her. But none of them will say a word. The Gregory family is very, very good at making problems go away.

Enter the W.A.R.—the war to avenge Willa Ames-Rowan. Four girls. Four very different motives for justice and revenge, and only one rule: destroy the Gregory family at any cost.

Apparently, I did not read the same book a lot of other people did. One review after another, professional and amateur, heaps praise on it while I can’t even muster up a “meh”. Why do I feel this way? Normally, I bend over backwards to avoid spoilers but, in this case, I need to reveal important points to explain what bothered me the most so, if you don’t want to know about those points, you should stop reading now.

SPOILER ZONE
SPOILER ZONE

First, there’s the implication that these four girls are friends. It’s true that three of them are but the fourth is in no way a friend of the other three for the simple reason that there’s a huge divide, socially and financially speaking. By the end of the story, the three have decided to accept the fourth but this new friendship is based entirely on their shared experiences in getting revenge. That is hardly a healthy basis for friendship and I don’t for a minute believe it would last.

Next, there is the issue that this book does not include one single adult with character, not one. At first, I thought this was an attempt to paint the wealthy as the bad guys but the authors actually spread it around so that employees of the club and the local cop have no more integrity and moral strength than the privileged. I get wanting to have the young adult protagonists appear to have character that is a step above their elders but this is no way to do it.

Speaking of the four girls, none of them are especially bright—they come up with some really stupid ideas, such as feeding hormones to their target so he’ll grow manboobs. Seriously?? Then, when they finally find a way to bring the Captain and Trip down, Madge, who spearheaded this revenge plot all along, gives it all up for money. Are you kidding? Are we supposed to understand this is a tale of how money makes up for all the guilt, anger, heartache and remorse?

The last thing I’ll mention is the inordinate power of the Captain and his grandsons which goes far beyond all credibility. Sure, the rich can be very powerful and control a lot of what goes on around the rest of us but it goes much too far here. The Captain would put it about that the older twin is actually the younger? For what reason? He’s already cut the older boy out of his will so why go to the trouble of lying about his age? And why would he do it after the boy is somehow responsible for the head-on collision that killed his parents? Are we supposed to believe everybody in town would conveniently accept the change in birth order? Also, what bank would let Trip into Madge’s safe deposit box? An attorney general would not prosecute Trip for murder unless the Captain allows it? Please. This is a small town that centers around the Captain’s company but he’s not the King of America.

END SPOILER ZONE
END SPOILER ZONE

I’m very fond of Soho Teen books but this one is a misfire and, in my opinion, is a one-sided slap against people in general, not just the rich. How sad that the authors have such a low opinion of humanity.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2013.