Sharon CassanoLochman’s Stranded on Thin Ice takes readers through a day-long class on Murphy’s Law. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Pre-teens Tanner and Richie quickly became fast friends on the day of an ice fishing derby. Tanner had bad luck at last year’s competition, but now has his eyes set on a brand new prize 4-wheeler and a fishing hut. Richie, a little less starry-eyed, is sort of dragged along for the ride with his uncle, at least at first. Reminiscent of John Reynolds Gardiner’s Little Willy of Stone Fox, the boys are thrown into a winter competition against big, burly, sometimes ornery grown men. They are met with one obstacle after another as they brace themselves against both the competition and the frigid, unforgiving weather conditions.
We meet loveable 12-year-old Tanner Phillips as he’s pushing his way through a mob of bearded, smoky-smelling men at Popper’s Bait Shop in an all-but-failed attempt to buy minnows. Tanner gets passed over time and time again as he juts his money out at Dom, the store owner. Tanner feels invisible to everyone over the age of 13. He feels overlooked by his father, the bait shop patrons, Dom, and basically everyone else in the world. He doesn’t feel like a little kid anymore, but he knows everyone else still sees him that way. He also feels that he is a failure in the eyes of his father. He made a pretty big mistake at last year’s ice fishing derby by letting a fishing pole get yanked down through the ice by a fish. He paid for it by staring into an ice hole empty-handed for the entire day, and still has not lived it down. He desperately wants to redeem himself and gain the approval of his father by winning the grand prize for the derby, a new 4-wheeler and a new fishing hut.
Tanner meets Richie Donald as he decides to just help himself to the minnow tanks. Richie is a tall, skinny boy in ill-fitting clothing. Not only are his clothes ill-fitting, but they are not a match for the frigid day he’s about to face. He is accompanied by a hateful uncle who doesn’t really want him around, but has been forced to spend time with him. He seems like he really needs a friend, and is lucky to have found Tanner.
It isn’t long before Tanner’s Dad has to leave Lake Oneida, leaving Tanner to set up the fishing hut and get started on his own. This is the first time Tanner will have to prove himself on derby day. It won’t be the last. Almost instantly, “whatever can go wrong” starts going wrong. Richie isn’t much help through most of the day’s obstacles, but they still work together to meet them head on. Together they face menacing competitors, an unrelenting winter storm, a fight against the possibility of frostbite, and of course, getting stranded on thin ice.
This fast-paced tale of determination, friendship, and redemption is great for readers of all ages. I cheered Tanner and Richie on from the edge of my seat as I watched them navigate through their horrific day. I also hoped for the redemption of some of the more menacing characters. Sharon CassanoLochman did not disappoint in either area. Comic relief provided by the boys’ dialogue keeps things from getting too heavy. The story is written brilliantly, and keeps interest piqued until the very end. I did not want to put it down.
Pages: 170 | ASIN: B07732BKVM
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In Darkness, There is Still Light follows the life of professional cyclist Loren and the physical and emotional challenges she faces. What did you want to focus on in book 2 of the Wheeler series?
With so much of the conflict in Wheeler having to do with racing and Felix, for the second novel I wanted to bring the conflict closer to home – the relationship between Loren and Graham. Feelings between them developed quickly (too quickly) and being separated yet again makes her realize that perhaps she doesn’t know him as well as she thinks.
The second prong of the story was the possibility of redemption, but I’ll leave that statement with a quote from my Muse. “Every villain is a hero in his own mind.”
Loren continues to develop into a dynamic character that grows as the story progresses. What was your inspiration for Loren’s character and the challenges she faces?
Loren’s character has developed over the many, many revisions but in all honesty, she reacts the way I would react to situations thrown at her. I’ve had Black Moments in my life, and much like how Graham steeped in his emotions over what happened to her to add to his acting performance, I did the same.
Loren faces a series of traumatic evens in her life. What were some obstacles you felt were important to her characters development?
Loren holds on to her pain; it’s a security blanket and like any crutch, it’s difficult to let it go. Trust issues and lack of boundaries hold her back, both personally and professionally. She needs to rediscover who she is in order to move forward. In Darkness is the beginning of her healing.
Where do you want to take the story in book 3 of the series and when will that book be available?
Book 3 is outlined and will bring back the excitement of the cycling races of the Women’s World Tour, beginning with the Strade Bianche in Italy. I hope it will be ready for release in early 2019.
A streak of bad luck for Loren, old friends resurface but are now competitors. A former flame of Graham’s could make trouble for the couple. Another man steps into Loren’s life. Is he just a friend as he claims, or does he have ulterior motives?
‘Atherton Leaves Her! Has the Actor’s Whirlwind Romance with the Pro Cyclist Run its Course?’
Loren Mackenzie knew the headline in The Sun was an exaggeration, but the World Champion time trialist still felt the sting. As her pro cycling season draws to a close, Loren looks forward to taking a break from training and a reuniting with her boyfriend, Graham Atherton. However, rumors and innuendo begin to swirl around them, and secrets they have kept from each other shake their relationship to its foundation.
A trip to New York City affords Loren a bittersweet reunion with a love she thought was lost. But, echoes from the past ripple into the present and reliving the fractured memories of her childhood has left her afraid to dig deeper. The monsters that dwell in the dark corners of her mind are all too real.
Meanwhile, obsession and greed churn into a storm on the horizon, threatening Loren and those closest to her. When the tempest hits and the winds settle, what is uncovered tilts the axis of her world.
Loren must find the strength to believe that even in darkness, there is still light, there is still hope; there is still love.
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The Hungry Monster Book Awards are given to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and The Hungry Monster is proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Death Leaders by Kendra Hadnott
Jabberwocky: A Novella by Theodore Singer
Milijun by Clayton Graham
Derailed by Alyssa Rosy Ivy
Bar Nights by Dave Matthes
Death of a Gypsy by Janet Hannah
Mervyn vs. Dennis by Niels Saunders
Stage Door Comedies by Sally Roger
Asana of Malevolence by Kate Abbott
In the Eyes of Madness by Michael Pang
Welcome to Deep Cove by Grant T. Reed
The Six and the Crystals if Ialana by Katlynn Brooke
Thing Bailiwick: A Collection of Horror by Fawn Bonning
Tarbabies: The Shadow Man of Ichabod Lane by Allen Brady
Books have the ability to entertain and inform us. They can make the impossible possible. They are vehicles of time travel and windows into perspectives. In books, authors are gods and imagination is their power. Transforming letters into words; words into characters and places; and these into emotions and worlds. Even if we never meet, we are connected by the stories we tell.
Posted in Hungry Monster Book Award
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