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May 15, 2018

Two New May Books for Your TBR Pile

by MK French

May is filled with so many new releases. Here are two more books that hit shelves today. First up is a literary novel set in rural Texas. Then I have a middle grades adventure perfect for summer reading.
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Small Moving Parts by D.B. Jackson

Small Moving Parts
May 2018; Turner; 978-1683367826
audio, print (384 pages); literary
Harley Cain was about the commit suicide when a young boy crashed a truck on his property as a suicide attempt. The two formed a bond, and Cain became a mentor of sorts to Dodger, who has little stability in his home life. The bond is strengthened by shared difficulties dealing with horse thieves, police and border crossing from their Texas town to Mexico.

The beginning of the book opens with a lot of short, choppy sentences and a stark, bleak tone that matches Cain's state of mind. While there is still a matter of fact tone throughout the rest of the novel, it doesn't feel as bleak or as choppy as the opening chapters. This is a great way to thematically show Cain's depressed mood and hopelessness, in addition to explicitly stating he felt there was nothing left to live for. The way that he and Dodger bond is a slow and steady one, until the night that Cain's horses are stolen. Dodger and Cain go through a lot as a result of the theft, and all of the circumstances surrounding the thieves' attempts at retribution. Even when things seem to settle down, there is still fallout from earlier difficulties in Dodger's life that he had tried to ignore.

"The world is a complicated place with a lot of small moving parts. When one person moves apart just a little, it causes all the parts to move in ways we don't see coming." It's certainly true throughout the novel. Little gestures or missed moments were magnified in the name of vengeance, machismo, and family, and it was also those same little gestures that helped to end the pain and begin the healing process. For such a bleak beginning, there's a lot of growing up for everyone involved, and an afterword that fits all of the characters involved. This is a thoughtful and touching story, one that feels much bigger than its small moving parts.

Buy Small Moving Parts at Amazon

The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray by B. A. Williamson

The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn
May 2018; Jolly Fish Press; 978-1631631726
ebook, print (336 pages); middle grades, fantasy
Gwendolyn Gray lives in The City and attends School, which consists of looking into little spheres called Lambents. She doesn't like how they make her feel dull, so she instead draws during class time and continues to let her imagination loose. Her imagination is starting to affect the world around her, and there are two faceless men in bowler hats intent on erasing the changes she had made, as well as Gwendolyn.

This is a middle-grade book that invokes the power of imagination and individuality in the middle of a world bent on enforcing conformity. Because of this, there is bullying from Gwendolyn's classmates, the quiet disappointment of her parents, and the sinister way that the men in the bowler hats follow her. That subtle menace can be frightening, especially for children; my nine-year-old daughter reading this found them to be creepy and thought they would give her nightmares. (They didn't, not to worry!) Gwendolyn is a very likable main character, and stronger emotionally than she thinks she is. The travels she goes through to escape the men in the bowler hats, as well as the journey through different worlds, is quite impressive. There are moments where she was fearful or made difficult decisions, which any child will relate to.

As much as there is an adventure in this story, this is also a story about a twelve-year-old growing up. Gwendolyn has to realize her own limits and take measure of what's important to her, which is difficult for children to do. She has to deal with friendships, budding romance, loss and the searing disappointment and grief that can come with it. All of this is handled very well within the confines of fantasy, which also makes it a great vehicle for conversations about a lot of potentially difficult topics.

Buy The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever. 

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