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Foreword Reviews - All Reviews





Updated: 2017-12-11T10:15:22-05:00

 



Adirondack

2017-12-08T20:16:51-05:00

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★★★★☆

The novel depicts a community of temporary summer residents who delight in one another’s trials and tribulations.

A charming and sensual exploration of the tension between social norms and personal freedom, Adirondack by A. Dudley Johnson, Jr., is a delightful, escapist read. The novel depicts a community of temporary summer residents who delight in one another’s trials and tribulations.

Anna Tattersall is a young mother who expertly plays the part of a doting wife. Rumors abound when her husband, Will, leaves the family at their summer home for long stretches to focus on his work in the city. The central tension unfolds during this one brief summer season in 1897.

In Will’s absence, Anna busies herself with hikes through the local foothills; rich, sensuous descriptions of the gorgeous natural world firmly root the story in its lush, mountainous setting. One of Anna’s ventures results in a chance encounter with a Native American man named Ausable who defies the persistent stereotypes of the day, and to whom Anna feels insatiably attracted.

Anna and Ausable’s affair is passionate and idyllic, but real life soon beckons. Anna must decide how to navigate the expectations of her community and of society at large, as well as how to balance them with what her body and soul truly desire. When Anna decides changes need to be made in her family’s lives, there is no turning back, and the fast-paced narrative echoes her determined move forward.

Anna is a refreshingly complex protagonist whose lack of shame about her own sexuality and adventurousness sets her apart. She is never in doubt that she deserves happiness, nor does she seem to feel an overwhelming sense of duty to put anyone else’s needs first. This is unusual for female characters, especially mothers, and her dogged pursuit of true fulfillment is a fascinating element of the story.

The supporting cast of characters makes the story truly entertaining. Aunt Lil is a dour elder who defies expectations with her adaptability. Anna’s rival-turned-confidante Margaret keeps audiences guessing about her motives. Pastor Tom is a thrilling, nonjudgmental conspirator who keeps the community’s secrets. And Anna’s husband, Will, is a hypocritical yet sympathetic man trying hard to keep up appearances while ensuring that his own adventures don’t become endangered.

Anachronisms in Ausable’s characterization hit odd notes. He is Harvard-educated at a time when this would have been virtually impossible for an indigenous person, and he has few apparent ties to any community. He lives semi-nomadically in the woods and has a too-modern, self-deprecating sense of humor.

The fate of Anna and Ausable’s relationship is inevitably clear, so the public reckoning over their exposed romance is unsurprising. This development, which forms the story’s climax, still hits a poignant note, and the resolution of the central tension remains satisfyingly uncertain until the very last few pages.

Adirondack exists against a fun backdrop as it explores a family’s struggle to reconcile their reputation with deeply conflicting individual desires.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




Pure Wander

2017-12-07T15:48:03-05:00

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★★★☆☆

The stakes are serious from the first, with immediate questions about the teens’ perilous positions and the lies that informed their pasts.

Elements of a mystery and realistic teen fiction combine in the suspenseful young-adult romance Pure Wander by Batsi Lamola. The novel addresses large and dramatic themes of family, betrayal, and friendship, zeroing in on a relationship between Hunadi and Jay, whose friendship evolves over time.

Hunadi begins the story as a person on the run, hoping not to be seen by anyone. She grapples with many unexplained circumstances. She is distressed by chance encounters with people she used to know, but there are only faint clues as to why this is so. She winds up in contact with someone she thought was dead, her old friend Jay.

Hunadi and Jay were separated in childhood only to reunite after their very different adolescences. Ensuing drama finds them becoming acquainted with the people they have become since they last met. In the process, they solve problems from their pasts and uncover dangerous secrets.

Strong details come out in the interactions between Hunadi and Jay as they process their feelings of friendship and more for each other; the two-perspective point of view helps bring out the feelings behind seemingly simple interactions. Their miscommunications feel realistic. When they are happy and relaxed, description tends toward telling rather than showing, describing Hunadi and Jay as close rather than showing them being so.

Dialogue is overly formal at times, though references to technologies like Instagram are a reminder that these are modern teenagers. Hunadi and Jay are developed in depth, but other characters, especially the adults in their lives, are more caricatures. Though their situations are acknowledged as extreme, they are still hard to believe at times, particularly near the climax and with choices made by Hunadi’s mother.

The tone alternates as the story moves between scenes of bliss between Hunadi and Jay and the harrowing experiences that Hunadi’s past and present bring into their lives. The stakes are serious from the first, with immediate questions about Hunadi’s perilous position and what would motivate her mother to lie about Jay. While all is revealed eventually, most answers come very close to the end, which feels unexpected after the slow build.

Pure Wander puts a suspenseful twist on the teen romance. The story’s conclusion will send hearts racing, as Hunadi and Jay carry the story.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




News of the Earth

2017-12-07T10:37:42-05:00

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Homero Aridjis’s News of the Earth, translated and edited by Betty Ferber, showcases the range of talent of the Mexican poet and environmental activist. Billed as “a biography of Aridjis’s relationship with the natural world,” the book chronicles his earnest, lifelong defense of the endangered species and ecosystems in Mexico and across Latin America.

News of the Earth is sprawling, collecting op-ed pieces, poems, and official declarations from the Group of 100, which Aridjis founded. This group of Latin American artists and intellectuals dedicated to environmental advocacy includes Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Octavio Paz. They have advocated on behalf of the monarch butterfly, forests, sea turtles, the atmosphere, and beyond.

Wide-ranging subjects include overpopulation, river pollution, and the destruction of the Lacandon jungle. Battalions of facts and figures buttress points from sources including government agencies, Yale experts, and John Steinbeck.

Aridjis takes a philosophical approach to advocacy, examining big questions such as humanity’s role in the world. Portions of the work are cynical, as when it describes “the Mexican phenomenon of murder victims but no murderers,” but it’s never militant. Well-reasoned arguments are laid out matter-of-factly.

Though sometimes bogged down in statistics, essays display the same degree of craftsmanship as the collection’s well-wrought poems. Prose sparkles with passion and lapidary finesse. Articles are sprinkled with personal observations, such as how Monarch butterflies, now increasingly rare, once filled the streets in winter. The book would obviously appeal to environmentalists, but also has broader literary merits and serves as a captivating historical account of the conservationist movement.

News of the Earth is a thoughtful, engaging work about a man of great conscience, concerned with nothing less than the fate of the planet.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




Honouring High Places

2017-12-07T10:37:32-05:00

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Japanese mountaineer Junko Tabei earned international renown for being the first woman to climb Mount Everest and to complete the Seven Summits. People were always surprised when they met her; at five feet tall and weighing just over a hundred pounds, she looked nothing like a mountaineer. Lacking the brute strength and speed of men climbers, Tabei made up for both with discipline, determination, good sense, and strength of will.

Once considered an act of worship, mountaineering was just beginning to open up as a sport in Japan when Tabei came on the scene, and she was instrumental in opening the door for women to excel at it. Her successful Everest climb took place during International Women’s Year, 1975, and she wrote, “Whether I wanted it to be or not, our climb became a symbol of women’s social progress,” especially in Japan, where the culture had traditionally held women to a strict code of behavior.

Rather than being full of bravado, Tabei’s book is a humble, factual, beautiful, searing record of what it takes to summit the planet’s highest, most difficult peaks. It begins with an avalanche and the terror, disorientation, and pain of being crushed by the weight of snow, ice, and the tangle of fellow climbers buried alive on top of her. It ends with another kind of avalanche, when cancer finally conquered her indomitable will, though she managed to climb mountains in more than twenty countries even after her diagnosis.

Junko Tabei left a legacy of kindness and courage in sport and in life. “I would like to die saying it’s been a good life,” she often said. And at this, she also succeeded.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




Motherhood Reimagined

2017-12-06T12:51:39-05:00

★★★★★Kowalski’s emotionally raw descriptions of her struggles will strike a familiar and comforting chord with other would-be parents. What if one of the secrets to becoming a mother is learning not to force parenthood into a predetermined social box? Sarah Kowalski’s own journey to parenthood was marked by extremes, from her burning desire to be a mother in her childhood to the ambivalence she felt when, at forty, it seemed time to finally make the decision. She charts these positions and more with frank sympathy in her memoir Motherhood Reimagined. In her youth, Kowalski didn’t just play with dolls, she grafted herself on to the new mothers in her neighborhood in preparation for her own eventual baby. By college, that baby mania led her to study law in hopes of defending women’s access to reproductive care. Pragmatism derailed her somewhat, and instead she became a corporate climber, a high achiever on whom the demand of endless work weeks took a drastic physical toll. By her late thirties, though, Kowalski was back on track, and semi-ready to answer her Qigong coach’s questions about whether she still wanted to be a mother with a tentative yes. Of course, fertility is not always quite as simple as an internal decision; she found that if she truly wished to actualize that yes, it would mean exploring alternatives to her childhood plan, including medical procedures, from IVF to egg donations, and maybe even reentering the dreaded world of dating. “I would be operating outside of the realm of convention,” she writes. “I could define family however I wanted.” This reality proves both terrifying and liberating. Kowalski’s is as much a spiritual memoir as it is anything else. Obstacles arise in the form of self-doubt and flimsy, socialized excuses. Even as she coaches other people toward wellness, she fights to push away negativity and distractions. Arriving at her truest wants and abilities is shown to require an uphill, strenuous trek. She goes on retreats and consults with Buddhist masters while working toward her truths, and her accounts of this concentrated, often inward work are inspiring. Still, the most universal aspect of the book is its concentration on conceiving, especially conceiving at a later age. Kowalski’s descriptions of her struggles will strike a familiar chord with other would-be parents, and blunt admissions, like that she “wilted in sadness” at learning that she would not be able to use her own eggs, are comforting in their emotional rawness. Kowalski’s is an exhaustive pursuit, involving basal body temperature readings, mixtures of Chinese herbs, midwives, visits to specialists, trips out of the country, egg and sperm donations, and copious support from friends and confidantes. The “will she conceive or won’t she?” aspect of the text is harrowing. Kowalski’s biography is in the back if anyone requires relief in the form of spoilers, and her determination, even during momentary defeats, proves to be an encouraging example for others facing reproductive challenges. Doses of levity are interjected in the text at appropriate intervals, guaranteeing that this serious project never becomes too solemn. “I was … an empowered woman choosing to have a baby from a highly conscious place,” Kowalski declares, and this assertion could easily become a rallying cry for modern women everywhere. Motherhood Reimagined is an illuminating account of what becomes possible when you approach conception with knowledge, motivation, and determination—and the right combinations of contemporary medical magic. Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the [...]



Chasing Mercury

2017-12-05T15:17:35-05:00

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★★★★★

Kimberly Cooper Griffin has a savvy, deft touch as she weaves in rich, vivid details that range from sexy to startling.

Love is a hardy flower that can blossom in the midst of adversity, as Kimberly Cooper Griffin shows in Chasing Mercury, a tense, exciting lesbian romance that takes its characters to the limits of themselves.

After a traumatic airline crash, Nora discovers that she’s not the only survivor. She pulls a mysterious, beautiful woman from the crumpled body of the plane. Although badly battered and suffering from amnesia, the woman—who’s known for the majority of the novel by her seat number, 4B—slowly revives. Her attraction to Nora is undeniable, and the two women bond with an intensity that is hotter than a campfire. While they wait for rescue, they fall for one another. Returning to the everyday world, however, is another matter.

Chasing Mercury explores questions of intimacy and identity. The bond between Nora and 4B is unquestionable, but who is 4B? Will she, as Nora worries, remember who she is and realize that she’s not actually gay? Or that she’s in a relationship already? As 4B’s memory slowly returns, the tension rises. A thrilling element is added by the deeper mystery of her identity, what she was doing on the plane, and why she’s so drawn to Nora.

The main characters are wonderful foils for one another. Nora, a human Swiss Army knife, is cool under pressure, experienced in both the boardroom and the backcountry. 4B, on the other hand, is too hot to handle. Chasing Mercury gives both well-written characters ample opportunity to grow.

Griffin has a savvy, deft touch with fiction. She weaves in rich, vivid details that range from sexy to startling: for example, after the plane crash Nora sees “a thin black stream of smoke snaking up from one of the larger sections of the plane, threading its way upward.” Griffin’s wonderful characterization and adventurous storytelling make this the best kind of page-turner. She stays away from familiar butch/femme roles and instead puts Nora and 4B into “no man’s land.” Other characters, such as Nora’s Aunt Mace, are lively and fun, and also avoid strong gender stereotypes. Griffin’s refreshing take on love, family, and relationships is excellent.

Although the first two acts of the novel are fast-paced and satisfying, Chasing Mercury falters somewhat when Griffin overextends the plot. Her characters are sharp, interesting, and realistic; their problems, though improbable, are believable. The story is at its best when it maintains a tight focus on the core characters. Less truly is more in this exciting, gripping novel.

Chasing Mercury is a thriller that explores the landscape of the Alaskan wilderness and the human heart.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




A Compendium for Advanced Aesthetics

2017-12-05T12:45:20-05:00

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★★★★★

Nielsen’s knowledge, experience, and teaching acumen are apparent in every section of A Compendium for Advanced Aesthetics.

Mary Nielsen’s A Compendium for Advanced Aesthetics is a comprehensive and invaluable tool for anyone pursuing a career as an aesthetician. A business owner, educator, and mentor, Nielsen has years of experience in the medical aesthetics field, and the experience shows in her detailed guide.

The book provides an overview of everything an aesthetician would need to know, from state regulations and legislation to the anatomy of human skin and hair, and safety procedures if a client were to have an accident or experience medical issues while under treatment.

Arranged into easy-to-reference sections, the work is well organized and easy to navigate. It will be accessible to those who want to read the book in its entirety to get a better feel for the industry, as well as to those who simply wish to brush up on a certain procedure or protocol.

The book covers a variety of skin types and disorders, various forms of treatments for skin disorders and anti-aging, and a section on developing a career in the rapidly changing field of medical aesthetics. The end of each chapter wraps up with review questions, making it a handy study companion. The work is detailed and instructive enough for classroom use.

Writing is technical and educational, but never difficult to understand. With complete citations and well-placed graphics, charts, and graphs, information is presented in a structured and visually pleasing manner. Many of the graphs and charts will serve nicely as a point of easy reference.

Scattered throughout the book is a fascinating history of the medical aesthetics industry. It also contains a psychological exploration of our fascination with procedures such as tattoos and anti-aging techniques. Such information adds a depth and richness to the work, making it more entertaining and, hopefully, helping to nurture a more well-rounded and knowledgeable aesthetician.

The book closes with a number of useful appendixes for facilitated reference. Common forms that an aesthetician may need, a laser safety protocol, and helpful links to professional resources are just a few of its valuable resources.

Nielsen’s knowledge, experience, and teaching acumen are apparent in every section of A Compendium for Advanced Aesthetics, an extremely useful guide for all in the field, whether they are just starting out or are seeking refreshers for careers that are already well underway.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




Missing Mr. Wingfield

2017-12-05T09:32:48-05:00

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★★★☆☆

Missing Mr. Wingfield interweaves strong portraits of a mother and daughter for an eye-opening look at the universality of regret.

In E. Christopher Clark’s young adult crossover novel, Missing Mr. Wingfield, a thirtysomething mother gets the chance to reexamine her life, her decisions, and their effects on her teenage daughter.

Waiting in a subway station, Veronica Silver encounters a man she recognizes but can’t quite place. The man seems to know everything about her life, and soon reveals himself as a tour guide to her past. This supernatural salesman offers her a chance to review her life—both the roads taken and those avoided. What if she had acknowledged that she was a lesbian before getting pregnant at sixteen? What if she’d had an abortion? Or not incarcerated herself in a traditional but loveless marriage?

The resolution of the book’s main plot points is revealed in a prologue written from her daughter’s point of view, so there’s little suspense in the rest of the book. However, satisfaction comes in seeing how Veronica and her daughter, Tracy, get from beginning to end.

The story unfolds in a fragmentary style. In some sections, the mysterious salesman leads Veronica through various episodes of her life. Other sections consist of letters from Tracy to her uncle, spaced years apart and showing her evolution from a child to a young teen.

While time shifts establish a sense of momentum, they are too frequent and abrupt. Sometimes sections mesh well, and sometimes they don’t. Oblique, attention-grabbing first sentences are favored, but are often tangential and disorienting.

Veronica is well developed and easy to empathize with. Her “what ifs” are common, and even though her history is complicated, her uncertainty feels universal. As a teenager, she’s torn between embracing her true sexual identity and seeking acceptance through conformity. As a mother, she considers not just her own happiness, but also the impact her decisions might have on her daughter’s life.

Tracy’s story is the most cohesively told. Like Veronica, Tracy faces unusual complications—such as being the only student in her class who comes from a two-mom household—and her characterization is strong enough to carry them.

Writing carries the story easily, though a few style issues get in the way. Obscure literary references surface as bad, gimmicky puns. References to seventies and eighties culture, particularly through Tracy’s handle on Fleetwood Mac, Nancy Sinatra, and Animal House, date what is otherwise a timeless story.

Missing Mr. Wingfield interweaves strong portraits of a mother and her daughter. For young readers who think that their parents have lived lives free of doubt, crisis, or regret, this will be a rewarding eye-opener.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.




The Torch Betrayal

2017-12-04T10:47:07-05:00

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★★★★☆

The Torch Betrayal is the best mix of genre standards from a fresh voice.

Glenn Dyer’s The Torch Betrayal is a well-oiled novel of suspense. While it opens with a rash of overly descriptive adjectives, the story quickly takes over, and the plot is expertly handled in medias res. The unnamed hero is developed in rich, staccato bursts, screaming “big screen blockbuster coming soon!” before the first explosion even ripples across the page.

The plot seems simple enough: It’s World War II, 1942, and the Allied invasion plans are missing. A hero—Conor Thorn—must get them back. He has sixteen days to recover the plans that will save the world.

Thorn, still stinging from being chucked out of the navy and wanting to prove his worth, is more than willing to do whatever is necessary. And, as every hero needs a challenging and engaging sidekick, Thorn inherits Emily Bright, an MI6 agent who is brilliant, vivacious, and dead set on exterminating Nazi rule.

Tension crackles between Thorn and Bright, and the dynamic duo never stay in one place for long. The pace starts hot and keeps climbing, criss-crossing the globe from the Allied airbase in England to the deserts and winding city streets of northern Africa. Not even the Vatican is safe from the action.

Every international stop is steeped in danger, making for rollicking fun. And it’s not just the locales that are sprung traps. A multitude of characters are present—spies, allies, clergymen, military officers, sympathizers, politicians—and everyone has an agenda, though it’s not always clear whether they should be believed. Readers will follow every twist and turn, second-guessing motives and allegiances until the grand finale.

The Torch Betrayal is the best mix of genre standards from a fresh voice. In tone and form, the story stands apart from the espionage thrillers to which it pays homage. The excitement and clarity of the writing means small points of contention can be overlooked.

Dyer uses the real-life inspiration of Operation Torch to parade historical figures and political operatives through the story, infusing it with historical context. Dialogue and situations can sometimes feel forced, but dialogue is strong as a whole, between both heroes and bit characters who are only on the scene for a short while.

With crisp writing, plot reveals that pop like firecrackers, and cinematic excitement, The Torch Betrayal is good, old-fashioned fun.

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.