Garn Press Authors Receive Outstanding Kirkus Reviews

“Why Kirkus?” we’re asked at Garn Press when we recommend a Kirkus Review. There are five reasons:

  1. Kirkus has been reviewing books since 1933 and has gravitas in publishing and is trusted by the industry to publish unbiased reviews;
  2. Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, and Oxford University all include quotes from Kirkus Reviews on the books they publish;
  3. Kirkus provides an opportunity for authors at small innovative and independent publishers to enter the same arena as authors of these large publishing houses;
  4. The Kirkus Website has 1,500,000 impressions per month giving extraordinary opportunities for readers to connect with great writers and great books;
  5. A great Kirkus Review is a significant achievement – authors have the opportunity to “hide” a poor review – and there are very strict rules on quotes from a Kirkus that is published.

At Garn Press all Kirkus Reviews have been positive with many insights into the books that have been reviewed. Every author has remarked on some aspect of their review that has surprised them. In this post Garn is sharing the Kirkus Reviews that Garn fiction and non-fiction books have received. More Kirkus Reviews will arrive soon. At Garn Press we can’t wait to read them.


Bloody Lane: Review Posted Online: March 29, 2016

A Justice Department investigator’s latest case is the killing of a Civil War re-enactor, his body cropping up on Maryland’s Antietam Battlefield in this debut thriller.

A body on Park Service property makes it federal jurisdiction, or “close enough” for Felix Allaben to take the murder case. Allaben knows the victim, Curtis Gwynn, dead from a gunshot wound and dressed in a Union uniform. Gwynn was a whistleblower against dirty cops back when he and Allaben were at the Baltimore Police Department. And a week before his death, he called Allaben, convinced that a Toyota had tried to run him over. Allaben’s certainly not in want of suspects, and not just irate police officers. Gwynn had an affair with a married woman and, on the night of his murder, had argued with various people at a local tavern. When the park ranger who found Gwynn’s body turns up dead, also on the battlefield, authorities surmise it’s a mere accident––a fall from the observation tower. But there may be something else going on, as evidenced by the baseball bat–wielding men who warn Allaben to stop his meddling. Allaben’s probe leads him to a potentially dangerous militia group and a rather dubious politician. Then the investigator nearly dies in a fire, which could mean that the thugs are making good on their threat. While the protagonist remains delightfully complex and sympathetic, he is definitely flawed. He recently lost his wife, Rebecca, at the hands of a mugger who shot them both. Rebecca was psychologically unwell, and Allaben hadn’t exactly been faithful to her. Notwithstanding, as an investigator, he more than excels. Allaben, for example, often asks questions when he knows the answers, like the meaning behind a snake tattoo, an emblem for the militia group. Lee and Fleury pile on probable killers and clues, but Allaben himself sporadically acknowledges the “vague” evidence and the fact that, still late in the story, he’s “getting nowhere.” The final act, however, kicks red herrings to the wayside and zeroes in on a gratifying reveal––with an extra twist at the very end.

A slow-building murder tale, but the complicated hero and serpentine wrap-up make it a worthy mystery.

bloody-lane-smallBloody Lane

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-942146-23-0
Paperback ISBN:978-1-942146-25-4
eBook ISBN: 978-1-942146-27-8
Hardcover & Paperback: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
eBook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple | Kobo


A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century: Navigating Education Reform to Get the Best Education for My Child: KIRKUS REVIEW

Parents’ Education Guide: Review Posted Online: July 11th, 2016; Kirkus Reviews Issue: August 1st, 2016

Walsh (There’s a Giant in My Classroom and other poems from around school, 2013, etc.) describes the current landscape of American public schools in this informative guide.

Public education is a remarkable feature of the American experience, and one that can prove transformative in the lives of children. Unfortunately, a number of factors have led to a system that’s anything but uniform: a patchwork of thriving or failing school districts that offer very different qualities of education. Walsh’s book, structured as a Q-and-A and divided into sections by topic, strives to answer questions, obvious and otherwise, that parents of a potential public school student should ask themselves. The author covers the current state of the education-reform movement (including its history, motivations, and achievement gaps) and looks at how to spot the qualities of a good school, how to prepare and assist one’s child outside the classroom, and the nuances of teacher quality, Common Core, standardized tests, and the charter school movement.

Walsh’s questions are highly specific, such as “What does a developmentally appropriate middle school program look like?”, and quite comprehensive. One can read the book straight through, but the format encourages readers to skip around to find answers to the questions that most concern them. As a parent, teacher, literacy specialist, and public school advocate, Walsh is well-versed in the practicalities and politics of public schools. Although the book is a nuts-and-bolts manual meant to address the realities of the system as it currently stands, Walsh makes a point of editorializing on movements and solutions that he thinks would improve schooling for everyone. The first thing to keep in mind, he notes, is that education is not a solution to poverty. Rather, he says, poverty is the main impediment to education: “If we can make significant strides in improving the economic outlook of the 24% of American children living in poverty, improved educational opportunity will be the joyous and very predictable outcome.” Until then, parents tasked with navigating this inequality will have Walsh as their guide.

An extensive, well-organized work on the current state of public education.

A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century: Navigating Education Reform to Get the Best Education for My Child by Russ WalshA Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century: Navigating Education Reform to Get the Best Education for My Child

Print ISBN: 978-1-942146-33-9
eBook ISBN: 978-1-942146-34-6
Paperback: Amazon | Barnes and Noble
Ebook: Amazon (download and Kindle Unlimited)



Rosie’s Umbrella: Review Posted Online: June 23th, 2015

Taylor’s debut novel charts the course of a family torn apart by mental illness and revelations about the past.

One morning, when teenage Rosie’s Aunt Sarah returns home from her job as a nurse, it’s clear that she isn’t feeling well. It’s not a typical cold, however; it turns out that she’s had a mental breakdown after getting stuck in an elevator with a patient. Against Rosie’s objections, her parents decide to commit Sarah to an institution to get her the help she needs. As Sarah gradually recovers, she and Rosie correspond via email. Sarah begins to reveal things about Rosie’s family, including their Welsh ancestry. Sarah eventually writes a story called “Rosie’s Umbrella” that refers not to her niece but to a much older relative with the same name. Rosie’s curiosity soon prompts her to research her family history, and she turns up information that’s both profound and unsettling. Part historical tour, part ancestral hunt, and part coming-of-age tale, this novel is an unusual hybrid of teenage angst and genealogical research. The story, told mainly from Rosie’s perspective, attempts to view the wildness of adolescent emotion through a rather mature, grounded, and rational lens: “Emotionally she knew what her mind did not, beyond logic, beyond reason, as if somehow deep inside she felt what Sarah knew.” Taylor uses the first few chapters to thrust readers into events that will later become central to the narrative … The book’s depiction of the pain of buried family history and strained family relationships is poignant and provides its emotional through line …

A novel with a keen understanding of the complexity of family secrets and the tensions between loving family members.

rosie-umbRosie’s Umbrella – eBook on Sale $4.95 in the month of February

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-942146-06-3
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-942146-02-5
eBook ISBN: 978-1-942146-03-2
Hardcover & Paperback: AmazonBarnes and Noble
Ebook: AmazonBarnes and Noble | Kobo Ebooks | Apple iBooks



Black Inked Pearl: Review Posted Online: November 2, 2105, 2016; Kirkus Reviews Issue: December 1, 2015

The captivating tale of a young woman’s journey to reclaim her lost love.

Early in Finnegan’s debut novel, there’s a gush of confused emotion and panic: “She was too young she was not ready she was afraid she was terrified only fifteen not ready yet she must go now immediate like a brother nice-impossible too young sea too loud storm tangle-hair she was too young now run run run.”

Fifteen-year-old Kate is just an ordinary Irish girl, terrible at math, fearful of the nuns in her school. But as Kate points out, she’s part of an epic love story that is continuously unfolding, waiting for her to step in and bring the story to its conclusion. Alongside the roaring Atlantic Ocean, she meets a mysterious young man and falls under his spell. But, frightened by the intensity of their connection, she rejects his ardor and runs from him.

Seven years later, however, she feels compelled to find him and reignite their passion. Kate turns to God and finds that she must complete seven tasks to find her beloved, including traveling through Eden and hell. She relives the biblical tale of love and indiscretion in the Garden of Eden as she and her soulmate converse with the infamous snake and contemplate the apple. Before long, though, Kate appears to be on her way back to her Irish village, with traces of her saga standing as testimony that dreams can penetrate reality.

Blurring the lines between poetry and prose, dreams and reality, Kate’s tale recalls the archetypal search for love, as the pursuit permeates every thought of Kate’s. Engaging readers with humor and insight, this unique tale is told through lyrical verse: “I said it was friendship / but you wanted love / I said that I’d thought of you / when you wanted—above.” Kate’s romantic quest calls to mind Paradise Lost and Greek mythology as it weaves together biblical allusions, fantasy, and details of the modern day.

A mythical story of two lovers whose connection transcends space and time.

Ruth-finnegan-black-inked-pearl-garn-pressBlack Inked Pearl: A Girl’s Quest

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-942146-16-2
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-942146-17-9
eBook ISBN: 978-1-942146-18-6
Hardcover & Paperback: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
eBook: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple iBooks |  Kobo eBooks



Devil Knows: Review Posted Online: June 28th, 2016; Kirkus Reviews Issue: August 15th, 2016

Here is a novel “ripped from the headlines”…provided you found the headlines in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. Yes, we’re talking about the infamous Salem Witch Trials. With a cameo role by Ray Bradbury’s ancestor, accused witch Mary Bradbury.

Veteran journalist Kolb anchors this historical fiction to the fate of Mary Bradbury, the only convicted witch to escape with her life (from a fetid Boston prison). The two main characters in this story are the Reverend Cotton Mather and the invented character, Hopestill Foster, brought to the new world as an indentured servant. Much of the book is in flashbacks, as in the first half of the book a fanatical Mather interrogates Hopestill, delirious in the grip of the “Small pocks.” The belief in witches is mind-boggling to the modern secular mind, but it was all too tragically real then and there. The Puritans have to answer not just for the witch hunt (a useful term they bequeathed to us!) but for their brutal treatment of all dissenters, including especially the Quakers. Other real people populate these pages, such as the outspoken and charismatic Anne Hutchinson (hounded out of the colony), the magisterial families of the Cottons and the Mathers, and the heroic Major Robert Pike and Mary’s husband, Thomas. And of course there are the Indian tribes with their shifting alliances and loyalties. This is very much the story of the hapless Hopestill, who is adrift between Indian and White society but who never loses his essential decency. Along the way there are “monstrous” births (Devil’s spawn), switched infants, purloined letters—all in a miasma of toxic righteousness. We have always felt ambivalent about our Puritan forebears, forebears who founded Harvard College while the wilderness still threatened them, and at the same time believed in witches and that God sanctioned their killing. Kolb tells the story well. The flashbacks are a particularly good narrative device and the prose matches the unrelenting drama. Helpful cast of characters, afterword, etc. provided.

Long after the book is closed, the reader will be pondering that time and place and how it still reverberates in the American psyche.

David Joseph KolbDevil Knows: A Tale of Murder and Madness in America’s First Century

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-942146-23-0
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-942146-22-3
eBook ISBN: 978-1-942146-24-7
Paperback: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
ebook: AmazonBarnes & Noble | Apple iBooks | Kobo eBooks



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