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The Wayward Haunt is a crossover new adult novel which contains dystopian, magical realism, suspense elements. Other than the Free Zones where the privileged of "casters" and humans live, the author incorporates other regions and settings causing the characters to use futuristic transport and weapons in order to travel to them. One object that is often mentioned is a "cast-shooter" that has the ammunition of both advanced technology and magical spells. In these instances, the book becomes a sort of science fiction novel wrought with action sequences that balances other aspects of the book. The initial setting of Zaya's journey in a labour camp at Gosheniene. Zaya is falsely accused of using her magic to kill another girl at the Brendlash Orphanage. Multiple traumas cause Zaya to suffer from amnesia. She makes several attempts to escape Gosheniene and each time fails. Zaya is a rebellious young woman named who is known to not follow the rules and often finds herself in verbal and physical conflicts with others. Zaya has magical powers but has not mastered them and often relies on her curt tongue, wit and ability to outmaneuver others to survive her arduous sentence. Zaya also have dreams. She believes these ghosts are a taunt which only compounds the present state of her miserable life. One recurring dream or vision she experiences is that of a ghastly being which she cannot distinguish between human or creature. This character's obstinate nature reflects the turmoil and difficult life she has had since she was child. Her retorts and quips which manifest her tough exterior heavily contribute to the bouts of unexpected humour throughout about two-thirds of the story. The author interweaves a plethora of characters, several of whom are not what they seem, figuratively and literally. After Zaya incurs several infractions at the Gosheniene labour camp, she is brought before a panel and is ordered transferred to a military based called Tarahik. This is where the unraveling of her history, her importance to several people-and possibly this world's future begins.

                                            -Patricia M. Muhammad                                                                 June 18, 2021

The legend of the sea and the shell in Lena's possession continues. It is known among the merrows and the curious humans as the magisk skal. Lena informs Soren of who she is and the power contained in that one little shell tied around her neck gifted by her deceased brother, Javelin. Soren promises to keep her safe. Lena believes wherever she is and whomever she encounters that she and they will always be in danger-and for a while throughout the story this remains true. Soren and Lena are unable to deny more than the attraction they have for one another. They have fallen in love. Though neither is assertive enough to outright say it they become closer and display lighthearted affection towards one another. Their romantic refuge at the bookstore is disrupted as Jace demands Soren Emil to return Lena to him. Throughout Lena's sojourn she is ensnared in the middle of several men who ogle her, treat her poorly and do not recognize her worth beyond the treasure that has become a burden to her. She understands that whoever has it in their possession can control the high seas. Greed and power and the primary motivations in which Jace, who later returns to Lord Jarl, Jace's master to steal it from her.

                                           -Patricia M. Muhammad                                                               April 20, 2021 

The Festival of Light and Infinite Eight is a sequel in which the author writes with a tinge of science fiction, a morsel of magical realism and a plethora of characters; some based in mythology and others with seemingly normal names. From witches and their cauldrons, to the antiquated magician Merlin, the reader is to follow the genealogy as well as the journey of the central character, Mark. Mark works for the Fates who have a level of authority over the future of mankind. He is tasked with saving humanity, though the story never clues the reader as to how he is to achieve this. Though this work of fiction is a sequel, the author barely provides narrative insight into how the characters' abilities are manifested or connected and what purpose they have to assist Mark. The author references mythical figures in Western lore and introduces the reader to the "demoted gods" of Power and Work, Farming and Religion and Consumpta. Apparently a jab at the notions which comprise the human endeavour for sustenance and hierarchy of infrastructure.                                                                                   -Patricia M. Muhammad                                                           March 24, 2021

The fiction genre of magical realism delves into what those who live in the ordinary and familiar world are able to wield by esoteric forces. In Fate Broken, the beings from a mythical world integrate themselves into the lives of human beings. I understand that this is a sequel to a book that I have never read, however the the text does not begin with any background narrative. Conversations between those beings who obviously consider themselves more witty and intelligent than their human counterparts are ironically unable to maintain a flow of dialogue. The reader may easily become disinterested in the main characters, some of whom argue that they have made themselves present to benefit the very beings whom they look down upon.

                                          -Patricia M. Muhammad             March 15, 2021

Ann duCille, Professor Emeritus at Wesleyan University, introduces readers to a limited litany of various television programs and actors, hailing black theatrical representation since its advent in the 1950s and correlated with historical events. For many readers, the author's assessment-a portion of which is commentary and the other part memoir-is an introduction to early television shows that ended before several generations had the opportunity to make their own analysis of them. This text provides ample American history as well as critical race theory analysis suitable for anthropologists, sociologists, and students of the visual arts.

                                           -Patricia M. Muhammad

Thereafter, the text transitions from the political influence of the revolutionary historian to the artistic expression of those views as a playwright. The literary art becomes the mechanism to discuss the past by pulling its dormancy into the present and onto the theatrical stage. In this context, the Haitian insurrection becomes a revolt unfolding before the audience of the present, an art form in which the stories now have a visual form and in which the spectator lives this history as embodied by the actors' performance. Thus, James has achieved the proactive transformation of those who were so often written as objects into subjects of their destiny,revisited and on display to the passive eyewitness - the audience.

                        -Patricia M. Muhammad

Magician Rising is a new adult, magical realism novel where the fear of magic and those who possibly wield it are the source for the loss of innocent lives. The story begins with the introduction of Nikolai , a magician bounty hunter who attempts to save a store clerk from imminent death. The convenient store employee body is partially removed as he continues to sink further into the ground. Despite the hunter's efforts, the clerk dies. He works with a team though it is unclear throughout the story what his motives are. Nikolai claims that his job is to prevent innocents from harm or death at the hands of magicians. However, his seemingly altruistic intent is marred by his carelessness in properly identifying his potential targets and his casual and merciless approach to killing a supposed magician as he depends on the unreliable intel from his cohorts. They work for a society only once referred to by name in the novel as the "Order".
Jun Bear is the main character. She is Asian female co-ed on scholarship who works part-time at a pizza parlour as a delivery driver. It is clear that she understandably hates her job. She is subject to harassment, being short-changed and encountering road rage as part of her daily work. However, Jun has a good scholastic and work ethic and must ignore all of those who continuously attack, harass and berate her, including her wealthy roommate, because they all believe they can. Though the co-ed initially has a crush on one of fellow students, a guy name Bailey, her luck continues to be lacking. Jun is close to her ailing father and makes weekend trips to spend time with him.
One day an earthquake strikes the area while she is in class. The tremors and its aftermath is focused on one area, one room of the building. The only potential casualty is Professor Cartwright, her instructor for Business Analytics. Nikolai 's hears of the strange happening and decides to enroll in the class to assess which one of the students is the magician. He mistakens one student whom his cohorts pummel to near death, only to find out later in the book that they killed Evan, just as they did everyone else. The assassin searches for clues and continues to overlook Jun, until one day he reviews a paper that their professor marked late. It was Jun's. Nikolai kidnaps her and tosses her into an estuary, nearly drowning her. Jun denies that she has any magical powers. She is confused at all of the attention and violence she suddenly finds herself the center of. After she nearly dies in the water, Nikolai saves her. He thought she would use her powers to survive and prove to him that she was the proper target. She failed his 'test'. Jun is rightfully fearful. They are both stuck on the side of the road now that the car fails. It is when they begin to walk that they noticed that they are stuck in time. Someone has stopped time while both Jun and Nikolai are able to move about although at an extremely slow pace.

                                           -Patricia M. Muhammad                                              May 25, 2021

         

Below the sea lies a mythological world, one in which the rules of the gods, in particular Posideon, governs the merrows. The story centers around a merrow of age named Lena. She strong and independent-minded, not as an act of rebellion, but as a result of the nurture and care of her father and brother. Her mother died long ago. This creature is the family primary hunter and along with her brother Javelin cares for their father, Carrick. Lena yearns to see above the surface of the sea. She has heard of only those chosen of a special guard who are authorized to do so. They are tasked with killing humans, the merrows (mermaids) natural enemies. Asger is another merrow who believes that Lena is destined to be his wife. This is where Lena first feels the tinge of male counterparts laying claim to her or treating her as merely a possession. She allows for Asger to come nearer than any other male merrow, but this occurs only once. When he visits the family to present her brother, Javelin, with the opportunity to become a part of the guard, the Fosse Sofolk, she becomes somewhat repulsed by Asger the attempted suitor. From here the read begins to see that other than her brother and father, all other males transform as something unsavory and unrecognizable from the standards she was reared under.  

                                            -Patricia M. Muhammad                                                                April 06, 2021


In modern societies, your university years are considered the time in which you transition from teenager to adult. A period wherein exploration is encouraged and the opening to a new stage of one's identity is solidified. Sports, cliques, and for some, the consumption of alcohol appear to be the normal rite of passage in adjusting to collegiate life. A Golden Heart begins as a tale of a few college housemates during their 'freshers' (freshman) year at Exeter University. The narrator is Jake, who reveals intimate conversations between him and those he live with. Jake confronts several characters which seem to play an important role in his own awakening. They are:
Francesca: She is what Jake and the others perceive as super-religious university student. As she and her housemates become better acquainted with one another, most still view her as a suppressed, religious zealot. At times her flat mates placate her by feigning interest in her religious beliefs and purported mission. However, there is a point in the story, where Francesca who sought it was her duty to indoctrinate others, becomes the student of an unexpected lesson. The guidance pours forth from an expected vessel, yet it is in this exchange that the opening allows for her to accept aspects of truth from the speaker.

                                            -Patricia M. Muhammad                                                                 May 12, 2021

7 Minutes to Freedom is a combined inspiration and meditation book. This is not a text which provides guidance or even encouragement for those who wish to become a career author. Instead it uses writing as a tool for the reader's self-discovery, which may lead to freer thinker and perhaps an easier flow of writing in general. The book often asks the reader specific questions dealing with events, people or goals they may have. The author suggests that the reader reflect, write and sometimes "let go." At times to release that goal, boundary or how we define what our paths should appear as or how easy we assume they should be-especially for those who belabored towards their goals. It is a text which recommends a state of being, rather than always performing.

                                           -Patricia M. Muhammad April 20, 2021

It is the 19th century, a time where many migrated west, European immigrants flooded the northeast and expansion for those who desired greater prosperity seemed limitless. In the state of New York, a few enterprising individuals decide to proceed towards a land escapade to build a canal connecting New York, Pennsylvania and the Atlantic. The proposed project is the Erie canal and the risk is huge. Land is the greatest commodity of wealth, and those who seek to convince others to support it speak of the potential viability of mercantile trade that this navigable route could provide. This, both political and social sponsors assert will likely be the new avenue towards wealth.
The main players in the scheme are Eleanora Rensselaer, Van Buren and Clinton and a man who lives a simple life with his wife and family, Daniel Hedges. Each one uses their abilities, whether it is being a landowning socialite, a politician or one who understands how the working man thinks to gather support. Eleanora is a widow who has kept the condition of retaining her merged lands a secret from most. The author describes her beauty, her dress as being extraordinary, but with this is she is haunted by the burden-the need for a new husbandry. She often fights temptation and sometimes just as she is about to capitulate to her natural desire for a man, she is rarely rejected. Van Buren and Clinton are judge and attorney general. There are the primary actors within the local political arena of New York society.

                                            -Patricia M. Muhammad                    March 20, 2021

A young Princess Gaiane is heir to the throne in which her mother, Queen Cibele Asares currently reigns. Her devious mother attempts to live vicariously through her daughter's gifts, training her, stifling her and horrendously using her to achieve her own wicked ends. Gaiane remembers her lessons at a pivotal moment when she lays devastation to a country that her kingdom invades. She wields esoteric forces against her kingdom's enemy without physically leaving the castle. Her aim of magical defenses destroys the other, one in which King Eliodoro relies on his trusted knight to secure his wife as he stands with honour to defend his country. Queen Ligeia is pregnant and shares other children with the king. The knight is a family close friend by the name of Evandro, also known as Dawn Star, a warrior who also has special gifts. They, along with the king's mother, Queen Althea, attempt to escape through stone archways but a blasts separates them.

                                          -Patricia M. Muhammad            March 14, 2021

The Kennedys in the World : How Jack, Bobby, and Ted Remade America's Empire, Lawrence J. Haas, Potomac Books (2021, 384 pps.)

Most have heard of the Kennedys. Their international reach has spanned several decades. Their arsenal was filled with the ammunition of power, influence and diplomacy in order to establish global respect for the United States and democracy. Most also are acquainted with tragedy which undergirded the lives of these prominent figures. There is no doubt that the Kennedy tribe has not only left an enduring legacy in American politics, but on the international stage as well.* 

The story begins with Joe Kennedy, patriarch, delicately referred to as a liquor distributor and U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain during the presidential term of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Interwoven in his and his wife's urge to push their children into the political arena are references to both Joe's and Rose's paternal forebears. Each had established their own political influence in the late 19th century. They were the incubators of a well-known lineage of political careers. Joe Kennedy's political views appeared to be a form of isolationism in which he emphasized American autonomy and urged the current Washington administration to not provide aide to Europeans and allow for them to fend for themselves from the encroachment of Russian expansion. His views spilled into the arena of the Kennedy dinner table where he and his wife expected for their children to be apprised of America's current political affairs. 

                                            -Patricia M. Muhammad 

The story begins in the present with a European woman who resides in Brooklyn, New York, sending a letter to her lawyer with instructions that the sealed contents are not to be revealed until upon her death. She and the lawyer have a fiscal dispute. In a bout of revenge, he sends the murder confessions which occurred over three decades to the police. She claims in her written confession that she believes each murder she committed was justified. As the story unravels, the reader will notice that each one is related to the atrocities committed as result of Hitler's rise and attempt to exterminate the Jews. The New York police department forwards the letter to the French authorities as at least one murder occurred in France. Here begins the odyssey in which France becomes the primary setting of the investigation. The author presents the storyline as a dossier of facts, contrary to what the French authorities of the present mention. They consider that they have not much evidence to pursue these decades' old crimes, one of which occurs at the Place de la Contrescarpe, a café, in Paris, France. After much narrative, the author outlines the lives of diverse people both in language and nationality whose lives will converge in one place, Paris, as a result of murder.

                                            -Patricia M. Muhammad                                             April 17, 2021 

Imperfectly Yours is a contemporary tale which permeates with modern (time), secular (premarital sex) elements. It follows 28 year old clubowner in England, Ava as she struggles to keep her business solvent. This establishment's stage is filled with colorful characters, becomes a central character of its own. This is not a romance novel for those with traditional beliefs, whether traditional or religious. Initially, the reader wonders whether Ava's struggle with her past will be focused upon and resolved. However, the club is an anchor to understanding her relationship with her deceased father, a drag queen and her substitute mother, yet another drag queen, Ruby. When I was introduced to this character, the only manner in which I could place this in context was to refer to an episode of Friends wherein the embarrassed Chandler has a drag queen father and it obviously results in a divorce between his father and mother. The framework the author uses to include this character does not appear contrived. However, towards the last chapters, it did feel like she inserted certain lines as political statements that seemed forced and did not flow within the storyline. This was an unnecessary distraction, especially when the reader wishes to know what will become of Ava and her love interest. Her father who suffered from some type of mental illness commits suicide when Ava was fifteen. The nightclub was owned by him. Ava's endeavor to keep the club viable is her only means of keeping the memory of her cherished father alive.

                                            -Patricia M. Muhammad                                                            March 26, 2021

Mystic Invisible is a young adult novel which spans Salem Massachusetts, England and Scotland. There are two primary groups of people within this world of magical realism, one referred to as the Norms and the others as Mystics. Norms are ordinary human beings with no special gifts or powers. Mystics are the opposite, most are either warlocks or witches. Magic is regulated and for the most part outlawed from practice by the International Mystic Bureau (IMB). A mystic does not obtain a wand until the reach the halfway mark between the ages of 15 and 16. The main character, Monte is in possession of a special seashell that he found while still stateside. One day when he is with his brother, Garrick, he climbs high on the rocks at Witch's Pointe and is almost killed. A girl named Cameron appears without explanation. Monte has severe lacerations. Upon examination by the Darrow's other friend, an elderly woman, she explain that Monte has markings of a leprechaun. She is mistaken. On another occasion, Cameron warns Monte that he is in danger. Throughout the story, water and stone, among other naturally forming resources are used as agents or manifestations of 'magic'. 

                                          -Patricia M. Muhammad April 15, 2021

This is not a book of pure fantasy. The author displays a clever imagination with the use of fantastical characters that tend to mirror those of the mundane. Whether human, Pixie, or Faerie, Radford has the ability to clearly portray each of their personalities. The creatures seem to be human in their jest or conflict while the humans would revel in the ability to simply fly away from their everyday problems or the people they perceive who are the source of them.

                                            -Patricia M. Muhammad                                    January 16, 2021

The rift between him and his father remains until his brief return to South Africa. Dajee candidly discusses how his father, who abandoned him in his time of need, now sees fit to tow him around the locals "... as if he was taking credit for my success"-a sentiment that will resonate with anyone who has endeavored to achieve a rarely pursued goal only to have those who scoffed, sabotaged, and disbelieved in their ability suddenly rally around when success appears to be on the horizon.                                                                                                                                        -                                                -Patricia M. Muhammad                      

It is when she discusses the civil rights movement that this enlightened moment arises. As prominent members of the community shared their conflicted feelings regarding the graphic depictions of lynchings displayed in galleries and museums as part of the antilynching movement, there remained some whites who desired to re-move such images from their consciousness. Similarly, the reader needs a visual image to attempt to grasp the extent of white-on-black violence as a means of maintaining white supremacy. Baker also suggests how the framework of such depictions can deepen or distance the later generation of onlookers from the use of white space filled with just photos, commentaries, and interviews. The spectator is either forced to go beyond looking at photos to analyze her or his own humanity while questioning that of the lynchers, or simply view such depictions as art imitating life and thus avoid their primary purpose-to force the onlooker to understand moments in American history where the black body was a consistent object of white supremacy through force, degradation, oppression, and mutilation. 

                                          -Patricia M. Muhammad

'Uncertainty is Certain'

In the midst of uncertainty,
Where the fields of doubt lie exposed,
It is not known for sure how precious our time is here,
Doubt, strange happenings and trials may deter the most apt,

Though they exist for what is determined for you. 


You are you for a reason, you are here for a purpose, yet even this is temporal.
                                             -Patricia M. Muhammad