Book Review – The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Book Review – The Munich Girl by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Book Review –

The Munich Girl

by Phyllis Edgerly Ring

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 Joni Dee
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Some Stones Are Best Left Unturned

As I’m sitting in front of the laptop trying to review “The Munich Girl”, an historical fiction / romance  novel by Phyllis Edgerly Ring, my mind stutters. How does one sum-up an emotional roller-coaster ride, which not only sees the highs and lows of its protagonist’s story but of WWII, Adolf Hitler and Eva Brown.

Anna is anything but a confident woman. She is normally full of self -doubt, and does her best to attend to her husband’s needs and demands, serving as both his academic editor, and housewife, while helping him to cost-effectively run his late father’s WWII magazine.
All this is about to change, as Anna discovers a link between her late mother Peggy (who’s half German) and Eva Brown, the notorious tyrant’s mistress. A simple article which Anna sets upon to write for the magazine spirals into a quest after her mother’s old life in Germany during the war, when an old manuscript that Peggy had written resurfaces.
Oh, and there’s Hannes. The mysterious German who pops into her life and seems to be on top everything, especially when she needs him the most. This is a story within a story within a story, that will take us on a journey to Eva Brown’s life story.

I am rather ambiguous about “The Munich Girl”. Let’s start with the one undoubtful thing: Ms. Ring’s writing is superb. It is fluent, descriptive and accurate. The fact that some of the dialogues are in German (and translated) does not hurt the above, and in fact that is hardly noticed. Great job by the author on that front.

The fact that Anna discovers a manuscript is okay, however Anna’s time-line is not continuous. It’s divided to before/after a significant event, and I have found myself struggling at times to understand whether this is the “pre-event” Anna or not.

While the story itself is very compelling, and has twists and turns, some plot milestones were a bit too “convenient” for me. Without giving away any spoilers: While the Peggy/Eva Brown manuscript was fascinating, I found Anna’s story hard to believe, especially her husband’s fate, who is probably the most underdeveloped character in the book.

In a complete contrast, all the other characters were extremely developed and complex, which brings to my ultimate issue with “The Munich Girl”:
The novel gives a voice to Eva Brown, portraying her in a complex psychological light, and at times as kind and compassionate. Personally, whether Ms. Brown was like that or not, I find it hard to cope with novels which romanticize, to any extent, Nazi Germany and its key figures. Sure, there were good Germans at the time, yet I think their contribution to the German history is negligible compared to the atrocities done by the German state and its accomplices.
Whether Eva Brown was among them or not, is irrelevant, she has made her historical choice by being the lover of a mad mass murderer, and standing by his side (and if she indeed prevented his order to execute the POWs in Germany as this novel claims, it was too little too late).

I had a similar issue with “Alone in Berlin” by Hans Fallada, but while “Alone in Berlin” handles the lives of everyday people, I found that Ms. Ring – perhaps unintentionally – had made the Hitler-Brown relationship to a touching love affair. A stone that I thought would have been best left unturned.

The novel gets 4/5 stars, I did enjoy reading it, although as I mentioned it has some complications. I’ll let you be the moral judges of the historical events.


The reviewer is the author of “And the Wolf Shall Dwell“, a political-spy thriller.

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Book Review : Frankenstein A Life Beyond (Book 1 of 3) The Resurrection Trinity  by Pete Planisek

Book Review : Frankenstein A Life Beyond (Book 1 of 3) The Resurrection Trinity by Pete Planisek

Book Review –

Free eBook Giveaway : Frankenstein A Life Beyond (Book 1 of 3) The Resurrection Trinity

by Pete Planisek

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Rodney Strong
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A Nicely Written Story

It’s always tricky to take a well known literary world and expand on it.  In this case the world, as the title suggestions, is that of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

In this book, the family Frankenstein faces new challenges, as well as the possible return of the demon that Victor Frankenstein created.

The story generally flows well, although it does get bogged down in patches.  The writing is very good, and captures the period perfectly, and the world Planisek has created is fleshed out nicely.

There were some minor issues with formatting of the epub version I received which made following the constant chopping between POV difficult to follow, and the introduction of characters only to not see them again for some time, does make things stutter a bit.

Overall though a nicely written story.  4/5 Stars.


The Reviewer is the Author of “Troy’s Possibilities” and “Murder in Paint

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Book Review – Elthea’s Realm by John Murzycki

Book Review – Elthea’s Realm by John Murzycki

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Book Review – Elthea’s Realm

by John Murzycki

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“Elthea’s Realm” straddles the border between SF and fantasy

Philip Matherson, slaving away at his inglorious job of Fourth-Level Assistant for Reviews and Reports, receives a strange email requesting information on the Utopia Project, a college paper he completed years before with a group of four other students. When he ignores it, a threat follows. Nor is he the only target. Soon the Utopia Project leader, now a wealthy tech magnate, invites the whole gang for a reunion at his remote cottage in the Berkshires. While there, they are attacked by a terrifying group of adversaries and mysteriously transported to another world where they learn that human technology has spawned several races of sentient beings, some good, some evil. And the most evil of all, the Bots, want to use the Utopia team in their conquest of Earth.

Author John Murzycki characterizes this as a tech-based fantasy novel. That’s a fitting description. “Elthea’s Realm” straddles the border between SF and fantasy. Aspects of it will remind you of technology-run-amok SF while others call to mind epic quests of the fantasy genre. It’s a unique and intriguing story, even for a skeptic like me who looks askance on the very idea of gizmos achieving sentience.

Although engaging, it’s not a perfect novel. The writing is clean enough but could stand considerable tightening. There’s a bit too much explanatory dialogue, and sometimes the thoughts and feelings expressed by the characters are either too generic or too trite. I like these characters. I just don’t think we get to see them in as much detail as we should. The interplay between the main action and the flashback scenes to the days of the Utopia Project are handled well, but the project itself lacks detail. I think Murzycki may have written himself into a bit of a corner by taking on something so big. After all, how do you create Utopia? You don’t. (The word literally means “nowhere.”) So what’s the point of assigning this project to college juniors? Do the students realize their professors have intentionally tossed them off the deep end? And what, specifically, has Phil and the gang proposed?

Given that this is a first novel, I’ll go easy on it and allow the story 4 stars and 3.5 for the writing. Overall that’s good enough to call it a slightly weak 4.


The Reviewer is the Author of “The Fibonacci Murders” ,”True Death” and “Ice on the Bay

This review will feature in his blog www.DaleELehman.com

 


 

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Book Review – Elemental Claim by Miranda Grant

Book Review – Elemental Claim by Miranda Grant

Book Review – Elemental Claim

by Miranda Grant

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 Bob Young
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“Elemental Claim” is an exciting romance

Miranda Grant does a marvelous job with this paranormal romance creating a world on several planes of existence. For a writer of historical and futuristic romance, reading a PNR was refreshing and a joy. She slowly brings a rookie to the genre along as the planes revealed make themselves known. After all, twenty-year old Emma, Miranda’s heroine starts the book as a waitress on the earthly plane. Her life is immediately turned upside down when a kidnapper takes her out of her quite boring life.

The author takes us along for the ride as Emma discovers what is happening to her. I was pleased that Miranda took some time to help first time paranormal readers get a grip on the forces displayed in the book. These moments of description are just enough as the book suddenly erupts in vivid action. Other characters, such as ones in the kidnapper’s team, are carefully described and their powers outlined setting up action sequences as the book proceeds.

All in all, “Elemental Claim” is an exciting romance, I recommend to everyone. The best news is that Miranda includes an excerpt to her next book in this volume.


The reviewer is the author of “Mason’s Taxi of Love

 

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Book Review – The Mother of All Things  by Gabriel Blake

Book Review – The Mother of All Things by Gabriel Blake

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Book Review –

The Mother of All Things

by Gabriel Blake

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Rodney Strong
Fiction Author
 Julia Wilson
Christian Bookaholic

 


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Blake Has Done a Superb Job, for a First Book

The return home was supposed to be a fresh start for Elaine, after the abduction and murder of her child years earlier, and the subsequent break up of her marriage. She moves back into the family home and throws herself into rebuilding both the house, and her life.  But going back is never easy, and Elaine finds herself facing demons, both past and present, in a fight for her very sanity.

The Mother of All Things is a very well written book, with complex and detailed characters, a plot that twists and turns enough to maintain interest all the way through, and an interesting ending. Blake has done a superb job for a first book. Elaine in particular is a character that readers grow to know, and yet feel like there is always something we don’t know about her. This is a tricky thing to do, yet the author does a great job with it.

This was almost a 5 star review, but the one thing that tripped me up, and this may just be a personal taste thing, was POV.  Elaine is the main character, yet the author constantly uses an omnipotent POV, rapidly switching between characters on the same page, and sometimes in the same paragraph.  I can understand that there are sometimes things the author wants readers to know to progress the story, but there was often too much of it, and not all of it seemed necessary for plot.  There was also alot of bloodshed at the end of the book, again not all of it seemed necessary for character or plot development.

However, that point aside, this was an excellent read, and I look forward to seeing what Mr Blake does next.

4 out of 5 stars


The Reviewer is the Author of “Troy’s Possibilities” and “Murder in Paint

 

Reviewed by Julia Wilson

Telling The Story

The Mother Of All Things by Gabriel Blake is a contemporary psychological horror suspense that completely drew me in. I have never read this genre before but was totally absorbed in the action.

The novel has the reader questioning, what is real? What is imagined? Who is telling the truth? And who is lying? There seems to be a fine line between reality and imagination. There were times when I believed the action was real, only to find I was wrong – or was I?

A mother’s love knows no bounds. What lengths would you go to to protect your children?

The mind is a powerful tool. It can be manipulated. It can be shut down but watch out when the doors are unlocked. “Other doors began to open in her mind.”

Loss consumes. You cannot just ‘get over it.’ Some losses are just too painful. “I can’t stop the hurt.”

There are crimes and mysteries to solve. As the body count rises, the reader is even more mystified as to who the perpetrator is. I suspected just about everyone.

The characters are well drawn. The lead character took up residence in my head. I ‘lived’ the action through her.

Gabriel Blake imagined a very well thought out plot-line with twists and turns that kept the action alive and me on tenterhooks. There were definitely jaw dropping moments. An excellent novel that would translate well into a movie.

A word of caution- this novel does contain language and scenes some readers may not like. I found there was too much detail in the bedroom scenes so I skipped over them. It did not detract from the story though.

On a lighter note – locations are important. Imagine my surprise, having grown up in Solihull, to see ‘Aldersbrook Road, Solihull’ mentioned. I went to Alderbrook School and my parents used to park the car in Alderbrook Road to drop me off or pick up. I could easily imagine the leafy suburb and the huge houses. Thank you Gabriel Blake for bringing a wow moment to me.

I received this book for free from The Book Gobbler. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.


Originaly Posted on the Christian Bookaholic

 

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Book Review – The Amnesiac and Other Stories  by Christopher Walker

Book Review – The Amnesiac and Other Stories by Christopher Walker

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Book Review – The Amnesiac and Other Stories

by Christopher Walker

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Dale E. Lehman 
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A Collection of Beautifully Told Short Stories

In “The Amnesiac and Other Stories,” Christopher Walker presents thirteen engaging, beautifully told short stories about a diverse collection of dreamers, seekers, and malcontents. Be it a photographer recalling a young woman he almost loved, a coffee shop owner unwittingly caught up in an assassination plot, or a group of young English writers in search of a legacy in Spain, Walker paints a delicious series of portraits alternately tinted with pathos, danger, and humor. It’s a diverse collection, too, mostly mainstream fiction but with a smattering of fantasy and science fiction, that romps all across Europe.

Walker’s storytelling is straightforward but thoughtful, punctuated by great imagery, as in this excerpt from “The Castle,” in which a young girl looks out on her climate-change altered world where nonstop rain and rising sea levels have reconfigured the land:

“Sarah was peering out of the window again, her forehead pressed up against the cool glass. She imagined the feel of the rain on her skin, and she thought about how whenever they got out of the rain some of it always seemed to linger like a memory on her clothes.” (p. 252)

I felt the editing might have been a bit inconsistent. Some parts of some stories don’t quite have the smooth texture that typifies the collection. However, that doesn’t distract much from the engrossing character of each story. You’re walking alongside these people as they traverse their world and their lives, sharing in their joys and sorrows. “The Amnesiac and Other Stories” earns five stars for both story and writing. Well done, sir!


The Reviewer is the Author of The Howard County Murders series

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Book Review -The Sky Drifter by Paris Singer

Book Review -The Sky Drifter by Paris Singer

Book Review -The Sky Drifter

by Paris Singer

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 Brittany, Top Reviewer
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Hoping for a Sequel!

The Sky Drifter is a large space ship making its way through the vast galaxy. On board the Sky Drifter, the residences are named by number and have established their own town, school, and community. The Sky Drifter is home to many different species that coexist, including Seven, the only human on the ship. Seven and the rest of the younger passengers attend The Academy, the ship’s school that teaches everything from cooking to math to strategy.

Seven spends his days attending classes, hanging out with Iris and Pi, and playing Sphere (“one on one dodge ball on steroids” if you may). He is content with his life until he notices another human like himself.  He looks for the girl while his two best friends think he’s crazy. What follows is a series of events that makes Seven realize that not everything is as it seems.

I haven’t read a really good sci-fi in a while, so this one was really satisfying. It has space exploration, variety of characters, and good ole classic high school issues.

The book gives a flash of the future at the beginning and I found it very confusing as I started to read it. The opening scene is action packed and it led to my mind trying to imagine all possibilities of how this book will build up, which was a very strong way to open the novel, in my opinion.
The majority of the novel focuses on the reader following Seven as he deals with the norms of high school. It’s almost uneventful, but I actually enjoyed it. And then we have the nice surprise of an action packed ending that I didn’t see coming!

I’m definitely hoping for a sequel!

The Sky Drifter by Paris Singer receives 3.5 stars.


Originally Posted on Britanny’s Pages

 


 

 

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Book Review –  Mares Nest by Larry Darter

Book Review – Mares Nest by Larry Darter

Book Review –

Mares Nest (A T.J. O’Sullivan Novel)

by Larry Darter

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Rodney Strong
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C.J. Shane
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Fun and Easy to Read

T.J O’Sullivan is an LA private investigator hired for a missing person case in Hawaii. As soon as she arrives things take a dramatic turn and suddenly she finds herself in a race to get a kidnapping victim back, as well as the ransom, all while fending off the lecherous advances of her client.

Darter has an easy writing style that suits the fast paced nature of thrillers.  This was a short book compared to others, and the first three quarters of the book flew past in no time at all.  The author has a good grasp of action sequences, and although the characters were a little cliched, they were well written and T.J in particular is a good mix of physically and mentally tough.

The author has given T.J a New Zealand background, and as a New Zealander myself it was fun to see the colloquialisms mixed throughout the book.  However there were instances where it jarred and didn’t fit with my image of the character.

There was a lull in the book in patches where the author seemed to be setting things up for future books rather than focusing on the story at hand, which was a little distracting, but overall I enjoyed the read.


The Reviewer is the Author of “Troy’s Possibilities” and “Murder in Paint

 


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 A Fast-Paced and Exciting Ride!

Hold on tight!  Larry Darter’s new series starring private investigator T.J. O’Sullivan is a fast-paced and exciting ride with plenty of twists and turns along the way!  T.J. is smart, tough, cheeky, highly skilled, and very self-confident. She’s definitely a gal to be reckoned with.

We first met T.J. when she helped Los Angeles PI Ben Malone on a case in Cold Comfort. Now Malone has sent her off on her own to Hawaii to try to find the missing daughter of a wealthy client. Immediately T.J. finds that the case is far more complicated than first described.  Mare’s Nest is an idiom that refers to a deliberate hoax and that’s exactly what T.J. stumbles upon. Danger abounds, especially when T.J. discovers that she’s been set up to take the fall for murder.

Actually I liked T.J. as a character a lot and I do hope author Darter will continue to bring us more T.J. Sullivan suspense thrillers. I especially liked the friendship she develops with a pilot named Jackie (every woman needs a real friend!) as well as a more romantic relationship with a police detective.

One issue that must be addressed: how much detail do we need to know about a protagonist in a suspense-thriller? We don’t want so much that the momentum is slowed down. But we don’t want so little information about the protagonist that the reader is left frustrated rather than intrigued. I would have been happy to have learned more about T.J.: why she ended up in L.A. instead of her native New Zealand, where she learned all those skills, and most of all, not just what she does, but also what she thinks and feels about the life she lives. Maybe future installments of the T.J. O’Sullivan series will fill in her picture.


The Reviewer is the Author of “Desert Jade

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Book Review –  The Carnival Keepers  by Amber Gulley

Book Review – The Carnival Keepers by Amber Gulley

Book Review –

The Carnival Keepers

by Amber Gulley

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Rodney Strong
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A Solid Book With a Promise of Something Special

The Carnival Keepers by Amber Gulley follows the misadventures of James over the course of one day, as he seeks to complete a series of random bets made with his friend.  At least they seem random to James, but just like the carnival that has set up next to the river, there is more than meets the eye in this story.

This was a tricky book to read.  Early on in the story a character is brutally murdered by an unseen creature and things looked like they were heading down one path, only to take strange and unexpected turns along the way.  This isn’t a bad thing, but it means The Carnival Keepers is a book you need to focus on when reading, as it cuts between sets of characters, and between first and third person POV, quite a bit.

There were some very well written passages in the book, especially the action sequences, where the author lets things flow and everything moves along at a cracking pace.  It’s the other parts where the story fell down for me.  It was a little like death by adjective in places, with it not uncommon to find sentences containing three or four of them.  The over abundance of descriptions serves to slow the story down.  The second concern I had with the story is that there never seemed to be a clear idea of where it was going.  It ducked and weaved so much it was difficult to see where the author was going, which is a shame because the premise and the early stages of the story held such promise.

As I said Gulley writes extremely well in places and I will be interested to look at some of her other work to see what evolves, but for me this was a solid book with a hint of what could have been special.


The Reviewer is the Author of “Troy’s Possibilities” and “Murder in Paint

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Book Review – Bridgers : A Parable by Angie Thompson

Book Review – Bridgers : A Parable by Angie Thompson

book review –

Book Review – Bridgers : A Parable

by Angie Thompson

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Julia Wilson
Christian Bookaholic
 Dale E Lehman
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Reviewed by Julia Wilson

Fish Sticks And Joan Of Arc

Bridgers: A Parable by Angie Thompson – wow, wow, wow! What a powerful contemporary telling of The Good Samaritan. Bridgers is an amazing read, packed full of Godly truths.

God came for everyone. God loves everyone. Who are we to judge when we should be loving?

Just as in the Biblical story, people walk on by with excuses for not helping. “I needed to get to church.”

A young man, rough to look at but with the seed of the love of God planted in his heart, lives out the love of God. He prays “begging a God you’re not even sure exists” to help him.

The novel urges us to be the change we want to see. We need to be the ones bridging the gap. We need to not just talk the talk but walk the walk. The novel asks “where would Jesus be?” He would be with the people who need Him most and need to hear about Him. Jesus asks us to do the same. “Don’t ever underestimate what God is doing through a willing vessel.”

Too many of us spend too much time on our appearances. We end up looking good without necessarily being good.

Bridgers: A Parable is just such a powerful read. Read it in tandem with the parable of The Good Samaritan in the Bible. Our God is a great big God who loves everyone. I will leave you with my favourite quote:

“He is stronger… than addiction… than fear… than any chain the enemy can use to bind us.”

I received this book from The Book Gobbler for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.


Originaly Posted on the Christian Bookaholic

 

Reviewed by Dale E. Lehman

A Smart and Funny Retelling of the Parable of the Good Samaritan

Upscale Woodbridge is separated from its neighbor and polar opposite Graveside by a river crossed by a single bridge. The social divide between the communities is alive and well at the local high school, which serves students from both sides of the river. There, teenagers from Graveside call the those from Woodbridge “bridgers,” while Woodbridge students just call their Graveside counterparts deadbeats. Fear and suspicion keep the two groups from mixing except under the most acrimonious circumstances.

One evening, track team member Brett Martens is running on the wrong side of the bridge when he’s attacked by a group of gang members and left for dead. Enter DaVonte Jones, a student from Graveside, who finds him and, knowing nothing of religion except that God cares for all people, goes to extraordinary lengths to get Brett to the hospital. This simple but heroic act of kindness sets off a chain of events destined to bring DaVonte into a fuller knowledge of God and to transform relationships in the two communities.

“Bridgers” is a smart and sometimes funny retelling of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Aimed at a YA audience, it carries a strong, overtly Christian message, but because the focus is on universal principles, it can be appreciated by people of all religions. The tale unfolds through the eyes of a wonderfully drawn cast of characters, primarily young people but with a few key adults helping them along. The somewhat unusual device of telling DaVonte’s parts in first person and the rest in third works beautifully. My last real experience reading YA fiction was when dinosaurs ruled the Earth, but nothing here is dumbed down, so everything ticked along for me. You don’t want to put this book down, and it’s short enough that you may not have to. Five stars for story, five stars for writing, and five stars overall. Brava, Ms. Thompson!


The Reviewer is the Author of “The Fibonacci Murders” ,”True Death” and “Ice on the Bay

This review will feature in his blog www.DaleELehman.com