Book Reviews

Union Square Reviews September

Sep 29, 2020



Union Square Reviews

Author: Jay Green

Title: Poems in Corona

Publisher: N/A

Pages: 50




A series of poems regarding the current pandemic caused by COVID-19. Green's collection functions as a series of meditations on life during the coronavirus, which he explores from multiple perspectives, including nurses, animals, protesters, people on both sides of the political divide, recent graduates, those trying to make rent, prisoners, and black communities. The collection's project seems to be to bring together a diverse range of experiences surrounding the pandemic (even those of rats) to show how, although at times these experiences are in conflict with one another and can amplify tensions, they are all part and parcel of the messy and complex lived experience of this un-precedented time. Although the narrator in several of the poems appears to adopt a bird's-eye view of the situation, that is not to say that the point of view is entirely without judgment--the narrator is aware of and condemns the pre-existing inequalities in American society that the virus exploits and highlights. 


Official Review:


In his second book of poetry, Green’s subject is the COVID-19 pandemic. The narrator explores a wide-range of experiences to show how, although at times the perspectives these experiences engender are in conflict with one another and can amplify tensions, they all reflect the messy reality of this un-precedented time. While some of the poems are just a few lines long, they still manage to pack a punch that penetrates to the heart of the issue whether it’s graduating seniors who have had to adapt how they culminate their years of education, or the birth of babies nine months after the quarantine. The toilet paper shortage, the vulnerability of nurses, the deaths of black men and women by the police, the prison industrial complex, the controversies surrounding reopening the economy and the wearing of masks are some of the other vignettes that Green illustrates through provocative imagery. Although the narrator in several of the poems appears to adopt a bird's-eye view of the situation, he is not entirely without judgment--the narrator is aware of and condemns the pre-existing inequalities in American society that the virus exploits and highlights. Some of the poems employ traditional forms, such as the sonnet and haiku to convey their message, while others adopt a free-verse approach.

A short collection of poetry about the Covid-19 pandemic that gets to the the heart of many intersecting experiences.


Author: Elizabeth Moseley

Title: The Garden and the Glen

Publisher: Lenox Street Press

Pages: 97


Synopsis of Story:


We all want to belong, but what happens when we are not accepted? A blue butterfly is faced with this predicament after being shooed out of a garden and into a glen. The glen animals find themselves rejected by the cruel garden bully. The garden bully's evil scheme is to only allow yellow creatures and wildlife into the garden. In fact, he goes so far as to create a 'broom' that sweeps away any part of nature that does not fit his standard. Even more so, the garden bully is strategically trying to overthrow the current queen who is ailing and needing medicinal help. While rejection hurts, the glen animals begin to realize their own uniqueness and the ways in which they belong together. The blue butterfly musters up the courage to return to the garden to face the bully and hopefully save the ailing queen. The glen animals now know the strength of the bond they hold, and therefore, they too return to the glen to team up with the blue butterfly. Together, can the glen animals out smart the garden bully and find the medicine needed to heal the queen? 


Official Review:


Acceptance is not enough, but rather kindness toward one another and building friendships is what is needed to create a better community. The Garden and The Glen encourages readers to reflect on rejection and what it truly means to belong. In just under one hundred pages, Elizabeth Moseley crafts a gentle narrative to portray the unfortunate reality of rejection and provides a template for how to find an authentic sense of belonging through supporting one other. Through the stark contrast of characters--the evil garden bully and the courageous, kind-spirited blue butterfly-- readers will learn what it takes to stand up for themselves and others, and even more importantly, that they need to foster relationships for mutual support. Moseley crafts this tale in such a way that readers will be encouraged to pursue the most courageous version of themselves. With short chapters, interspersed with luminous illustrations by Maggie Green, this book can either be read aloud or serve as an early chapter book for young readers.

The Garden and The Glen offers readers suspense, hope, and a deeper understanding of what courage looks like.


Author: Lee Michael Goldberg

Title: The Ancestor

Publisher: Down & Out Books

Pages: 329


Synopsis of Story:

Wyatt awakens and discovers it is 122 years later. He realizes his family is long gone, but discovers his great-great grandson Travis and family are alive and nearby. Wyatt ingratiates himself with the family, falls for Travis's wife, plots and kills Travis so he can live with the wife and child, pretending to be Travis the whole time. 


Official Review:


When Wyatt Barlow awakens near a small town in Alaska, he’s disoriented and confused, and at first, he can only remember bits and pieces of his life. Slowly, he realizes that he’s been frozen for the past 122 years and is now alive at the same time as his great-great grandson, Travis, who is the spitting image of him. In his day, Wyatt had traveled to Alaska searching for gold, and through a series of flashbacks brought on by heroin-use, he remembers the path he took that led him to a huge deposit of the precious metal. As he gradually ingratiates himself with Travis and his family, Wyatt learns Travis is in need of money and he convinces Travis to go search for the motherlode of gold he believes he found once before. In his fourth novel, Lee Matthew Goldberg capitalizes on his talent for vivid descriptions and interesting dialogue to carefully intertwine the stories of Wyatt and Travis. However, the constantly shifting points of view among the characters gets confusing at times. Goldberg successfully portrays Wyatt’s disorientation when he first awakens and his increasing confidence as he quickly adapts to life in the modern world.

The Ancestor delivers a tension-filled, entertaining story with a semi-predictable ending. 


Author: William M. Hayes

Title: Save Him

Publisher: William M. Hayes

Pages: 243


Synopsis of Story:


Rydel is a lab scientist who discovers an altered implant can make it possible to time travel. He goes back in time to save Jesus. But altering anything in the past has serious repercussions in the present, so an elite group of men and women are sent back to stop Rydel. The present-day people encounter Lucifer and his followers as well as those who believe in Jesus. The conflicts between the various factions play out in Jerusalem with good and evil battling over those involved. In the end, Jesus is not saved and the present world is not altered.


Official Review:


When a top scientist, Rydel Scott, discovers that an altered implant can teleport a person into the past, he wastes no time in going back to save Jesus from crucifixion. However, earlier experiments with the device have proven that altering anything in the past can have profound consequences on the present, so Genesis, the laboratory where the time-travel discovery was made, is determined to stop Rydel at all costs. The top commanders send back an elite military unit of men and women led by Ray Catlin, a devout Catholic, and John Adams, who hasn't believed in anything religious for years. Hayes has written an intriguing, Christian-based, sci-fi tale by blending historical events with fantasy where scientific devices can alter one’s appearance, voice translators can transform one’s speech into any language, and time travel is possible. Hayes' imaginative gadgets and weapons are reminiscent of things James Bond might need and use, including mind-controlling drugs and an implant that can whisk a wounded soldier out of harm’s way. The author switches points of view multiple times in any given chapter, which makes the story line a bit confusing to follow at times, and some of the wording is repetitious. However, Hayes' use of good descriptions and details, particularly of Lucifer and those he controls, make up for these minor issues. The inner and outer conflicts between those who believe in Jesus and those who don't heighten the tension in the story. For those who enjoy action-packed sci-fi with a Catholic overtone, Save Him is a fun read. 


Author: Benjamin Shore

Title: Terribilita

Publisher: Cinder Block Publishing

Pages: 258




Lucca Ferrando is placed on a ship at the age of 12 to learn how to become a pilot-captain and to get him away from the men who have come to hurt his father, Enzo. Over the course of five years, Lucca falls in love with the captain's daughter, Grace, and has many adventures on board the ship. Meanwhile Enzo turns a lowly group of military men into proud soldiers. When a slave ship appears in the harbor, Grace and Lucca try to save them, creating a world of trouble for them both. Lucca winds up with his throat slit and thinks Grace has been murdered. She thinks Lucca is dead after watching him fall overboard. They reunite in the end.



Official Review:


Terribilita by Benjamin Shore tells the story of three generations of the Ferrando family and opens in Genoa, Italy in 1881. These men are Grandfather, known as Old Bull because of his activities in the Italian revolution, Enzo, his son, who is a military man, and the youngest, Lucca, who becomes the main character in the story. An artist at heart, at the age of twelve, Lucca is sent to work on a ship to learn navigation, cartography, and the general tasks on board, where he meets the captain’s daughter, Grace, who is also learning to become a pilot. Over the course of five years, Lucca learns the ins and outs of life at sea and falls in love with Grace. Meanwhile, his father Enzo is hard at work turning a ragamuffin battalion of men into a top-notch group of soldiers. Shore has intertwined true facts with fiction in this action-packed tale that takes place on the high seas and the shores of Eritrea, all the way to the snowy Dolomite mountains. His use of visual details brings readers deep into the story and his dialogue flows naturally. A more thorough edit would have eliminated some of the repetitions of words and awkwardness found in the text. The switching points of view prior to solidifying into Lucca’s point of view can be confusing. However, none of this should deter readers from enjoying the story. Romance, adventure, pirates, murder, and mayhem are all intertwined to create a fast-paced narrative in this historical fiction novel.

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