Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Book Review: ‘Phoenix Island’ by John Dixon

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In the lives of kids, there aren’t many grays. In the case of bullying, there’s usually the bully, the victim and the bystanders – bad, good and indifferent. Young boxing champ and heavy rotation foster kid Carl Freeman is none of the above, having declared himself, thanks to a pact with his late father, a Philadelphia cop, to always protect the weak.

But within the confines of the foster care system and the various public schools Carl is dropped into over the course of his 16 years, his attitude is considered more criminal than heroic. When we meet Carl, his latest episode of vigilante justice has landed him in front of a judge who sentences him to the eponymous boot camp facility located off the Mexico mainland – away from any type of governmental supervision and outside the reach of U.S. child protection laws. There it becomes clear to Carl that something nefarious is being perpetrated by the camp commanders and that the teenage detainees are there for more than just reformation.

It’s with this nicely crafted setup that first-time author (and fellow member of the Brandywine Valley Writers Group) John Dixon begins his novel Phoenix Island (2014, Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster). Continue reading → Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Book Review: ‘Phoenix Island’ by John Dixon

Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Book Review: ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ by Neil Gaiman

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A writer friend, after reading Neil Gaiman‘s excellent The Ocean at the End of the Lane, described herself as “still in a dream state,” days after finishing this slim but weighty novel.

It’s easy to see why.

Ocean is the tale of an adult who returns to his hometown for a funeral and after the ceremony returns to the site of his childhood home, and in the process recalls a series of mystical events that occurred nearby when he was 7 years old. Continue reading → Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Book Review: ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ by Neil Gaiman