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Original Essays | September 17, 2014

Merritt Tierce: IMG Has My Husband Read It?

My first novel, Love Me Back, was published on September 16. Writing the book took seven years, and along the way three chapters were published in... Continue »


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Beverly B has commented on (205) products.

Cy in Chains by David L Dudley
Cy in Chains

Beverly B, October 22, 2014

Horrifyingly realistic, Cy In Chains is the story of a young boy coming of age during the early days of Reconstruction. Cy's crazy violent former owner kidnaps him and pays to have him locked on a chain gang far from Cy's home. Although this is a story of a young adolescent finding strength and courage while suffering unimaginable pain and humiliation, Cy In Chains is not a story for young teens. The brutality is historically accurate which means the violence and language of hatred are very, very graphic. Cy, however is an inspiration. He works hard to maintain his humanity, faith and hope. He knows that he will find a way to be free.
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A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier
A Death-Struck Year

Beverly B, October 22, 2014

The compelling feel for the time and place makes A Death-Struck Year a memorable story. The Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 hit Portland, Oregon so ferociously, it is hard to believe so much could have happened in just the 12 days covered in the story, but Makiia Lucier's novel is extremely historically accurate even down to the descriptions of the medical instruments and the descriptions of rows of coffins stacked several feet high around the cemeteries. Protagonist, Cleo, is a bored 17 year old trying to figure out what to do with her life after high school. When travel restrictions and school closures leave her home alone for the first time in her life, she decides to try navigating the world on her own and volunteers at a Red Cross emergency clinic. Her job puts her smack in the middle of the disease. She goes in to homes looking for sick people who need medical attention. Part of her bravery is teen recklessness. She thinks she is too healthy to get sick. But, her work is also helping her deal with a devastating loss from many years earlier. Her compassion, and the compassion of her co-workers is also historically accurate and is inspirational.
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Starbird Murphy and the World Outside by Karen Finneyfrock
Starbird Murphy and the World Outside

Beverly B, September 26, 2014

Starbird Murphy and the World Outside is a funny and moving look at the power of family and the importance of being a strong confident individual. After living all of her 16 years completely cut off from the world on a rural commune completely off the grid, Starbird is sent to Seattle to live and work for a commune owned business. Starbird awkwardly trying to navigate life in the city is hilarious. Her descriptions of her first experience with high school are laugh out loud funny, and her scathing review of the students, teachers, and culture of high school is spot-on. But the most memorable events in the story are the ones that trigger Starbird's slow transformation into her own person as she realizes The Free Family Farm is not perfect, and its leaders are corrupt. Starbird loves her Family so much, that even when she has irrefutable proof of the corruption, she insists there must be a logical explanation. Starbird Murphy is a strange teen. She is totally devoted to her family, her mother and brother, and to The Family, the other people on the commune. Unlike most teens, Starbird never questions the thinking or decisions of the adults in her life, she has no desire to ever leave The Free Family Farm, and she has no interest in finding out how the rest of the world lives. She knows she is completely ignorant of the basics of normal life, but she doesn't care that she has never ridden in a car, used electronics or money, never been to school, a mall or a party. She has never even had a conversation with anyone who was not a member of The Family. When the adults on The Farm tell her that it is her "Calling" to move to Seattle and work in the restaurant The Family owns, she does as they expect even though she is sure that living in Seattle and working as a waitress is not her calling. The ending is disappointing. Evidently members of The Free Family Farm do not believe in holding people accountable for dishonest actions.
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Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey
Buzz Kill

Beverly B, September 22, 2014

Buzz Kill is a fun, traditional who-done-it with a great amateur detective. It refreshing to read a novel where the surly teen slacker protagonist is female rather male, and Mollie Ostermeyer is the most likable anti-social surly teen slacker to come along in a while. Mollie is confident that her love of the Nancy Drew books she read when she was nine gives her the knowledge and guidance she needs to solve the murder of the football coach. But Mollie is no Nancy Drew. She is more like Shaggy from Scooby Do. Her goal of just barely graduating high school without joining cliques or clubs, or standing out at all - ever, is turned upside down when she stumbles upon a dead body. Reluctantly, she is forced to take center stage when her father is targeted as the #1 suspect. Mollie perseveres battling mean girls, teachers with a grudge, and unmotivated cops, all the while trying not to be distracted by the gorgeous football player she thinks may be the killer. Hopefully, this will not be Mollie's only detective adventure.
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The Testing (Testing) by Joelle Charbonneau
The Testing (Testing)

Beverly B, September 22, 2014

The Testing is an entertaining quick read. It has all of the required dystopian plot details - totalitarian plutocracy government, food shortages, poverty, secret communities, etc. The Testing also has an exciting surprise twist and a nail-biting suspenseful conclusion. Its strongest element is Cia, a protagonist who has led a sheltered life and is not ready for the cruel and diabolical actions of her opponents as she tries to win a spot in the competition to attend the university. Cia's father warned her to "trust no one no matter what." Of course, being a teen, Cia does not listen. She suffers some painful and heartbreaking consequences for not heeding her father's advice. But most importantly, is she entering into a romantic relationship with someone who is using her to get ahead and is intending to betray her? Have to read the sequel to find out, of course.
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