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Unveiling

S. Woffington. Red Summit, $11.69 paper (364pp) ISBN 978-0-615-76924-0

Woffington’s novel follows 20-year-old Sara Al’Khutban, a contemporary Saudi Arabian woman loyal to her family heritage but interested in pursuing an art career. When Sara removes her veil in public to allow her to see what she’s sketching more clearly, her horrified father, Abdullah, has her American art teacher, Lulu Castalia, deported and pressures Sara to marry. Sara responds by escaping to America—a decision that only compounds her troubles. As Sara and Abdullah wrestle with the results of their choices, Sara comes to realize that her artistic leanings and religious faith are not mutually exclusive. Although Woffington offers up well-developed characters, her narrative drags at times, while the novel’s resolution descends into melodrama. Additionally, the somewhat saccharine ending and superficial comparisons of Western and Saudi cultures will not resonate with readers.

Reviewed on 01/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

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The Golden Apple

Faerl Marie. CreateSpace, $8.99 paper (165p) ISBN 978-1-4936-6058-2

Poppy Parker has an idyllic life until her husband Josh dies in a car accident. Still reeling from his death almost a year later, Poppy resolves to leave her home in Alpharetta, Ga., and go to New York City to spend time with friends and start life anew. While in New York, Poppy reconnects with photographer Austin Bandy—a man who has loved her for years—but must try to heal the wounds of the past and open her heart to the possibility of a new relationship. Marie’s novel about a woman’s profound grief will fail to connect with readers because the author’s heroine rarely struggles, despite the death of her husband. Poppy is financially independent and thus free to pursue her passions with a wonderful man waiting in the wings. And while readers will identify with and understand Poppy’s efforts to reconcile her feelings for Josh and Austin, they won’t become fully engaged with her story because the conflict driving the narrative lacks potency.

Reviewed on 01/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

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A Prayer for the Devil

Dale Allan. Emerald Book Company, $23.95 hardcover (320p) ISBN 978-1-937110-34-5

When his twin brother, Aaron; a politician named Brad Thompson; and Muslim reformist Ablaa Raboud are killed in a bombing at a political rally in Boston, handsome and humane Father Luke Miller decides to take matters into his own hands. The police are unsure about the intended target of the attack, and Miller’s investigation raises more questions than it answers. He defies warnings about his own safety and finds support from businessman and mobster Sal Bruno, homeless men John Daly and Blade, computer hacker Arnold, and Raboud’s sister. Allan’s taut thriller is well plotted, and the explication of the mystery and the many odd characters with whom Father Luke becomes involved will keep readers engaged and turning the pages. While the bombing drives the mystery at the heart of Allan’s book, it also serves as a vehicle for a somewhat surface exploration of the clash of Islam with Christianity and the West. Readers may find the characters lacking in emotional depth and some plot points far-fetched, but fans of the genre will enjoy this highly readable thriller with a final shocking revelation that seems to signal a sequel.

Reviewed on 01/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

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