Category Archives: Pintail

#Mx3 Review: The Raven’s Gift by Don Rearden

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pintail (June 25, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 014318749X
  • Source: Library copy

John Morgan and his wife, Anna,  are excited to start their next adventure in life as new teachers in a Yup’ik Eskimo village in remote Alaska.  While wary and anxious, they both see it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  Sure, it will take some time to get used to living in conditions less than what they were used to but the rewards will more make up for their “suffering.”

Not long after their arrival, they hear word of a deadly epidemic striking villages close to them.  Shortly thereafter, villagers, including some of their closest friends, become ill. Due to their remote location, no aid of any sort can reach them.  People are starving around them. John realizes he must make the ultimate sacrifice and make a 1,000 mile trek across the Alaskan tundra to seek help.  On his journey, he meets a blind Eskimo woman and an elderly native who need his protection to survive. In turn, he needs their knowledge of the terrain to survive.  Along the way, John discovers a darker, more disturbing explanation behind this mysterious epidemic.

Told using three different timelines, The Raven’s Gift portrays the village before the epidemic hits, John and Anna’s early attempts to adjust, and John’s attempt to survive the harsh Alaskan elements.  The desolate and bleak setting truly becomes a part of the story, a character in and of itself.   A dark and devastating journey, reminiscent of Stephen King’s The Stand,  The Raven’s Gift will capture and engage the reader from the start.  A truly unique post-apocalyptic tale, it portrays a message that is destined to resound in the hearts of readers long after they read it.  What makes it most terrifying is that it is wholly plausible, a nightmare brought to life in our own country.

This title was suggested as part of my “Operation: Scare Me” challenge. I have to admit, when I read the premise I was doubtful. In the end, wow…was I terrified! If you are looking for a unique post-apocalyptic novel, I guarantee that The Raven’s Gift is the perfect book for you. Highly, highly recommended.

2013MX3

Review: Everything Was Good-bye by Gurjinder Basran

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Pintail; Reprint edition (December 31, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0143186817
  • Source: Publisher
Meena is the youngest of six daughters raised by a widowed mother. Her family, native of India, continues to hold on to many of their culture’s customs. A young woman in her last year of high-school, Meena struggles to continue to honor tradition while living the life of an American young woman. Her older sisters were restricted by these traditions but Meena refuses to become a victim of the same fate. She must decide what is more important: tradition or following one’s own heart. The choice Meena ultimately makes has lasting, irreversible effects.

Everything Was Good-Bye is, at its very core, a incredibly emotional, brilliant examination of a young woman trying to seek a voice, an identity, while living in two vastly different cultures. Basran excels at building a truly genuine character in Meena that is both challenging and sympathetic. She so masterfully details the struggles Meena experiences in her strict, traditional Indian home, struggles that many of us outside the culture cannot comprehend. The reader follows Meena as she matures from a young high school girl to a more mature, more independent adult. The growth she experiences is tremendous, solely made possible by her hard-headed desire to live beyond the life planned out for her by her mother. What Meena experiences at each stage of her growth is certainly not easy, for she is forced to overcome more challenges in the span of a few years that many don’t face in an entire lifetime.

Though this novel is brief in pages, the content within is vast, an epic story told in a condensed manner. My challenge as a reviewer is that I want to give much more detail about the storyline, but doing so may spoil the experience for readers. Though this review is brief it is certainly not due to my lack of feelings and response to this novel. My only qualm with this novel was the ending; I wanted to know more about Meena and her future. To me, the ending seemed a little rushed, abrupt, when I wanted more detail. Nevertheless, this title destined to make an appearance in book clubs for Basran’s debut novel will have a lasting effect on its readers. Highly, highly recommended.