Two #BookReviews: Knuckleheads and Hues of Hope #paranormal #novel #poetry

Ciao, amici! Today I’d like to share reviews of two of the books I read recently. I don’t want to take the space to include the blurbs, but you can click on the covers to read them. I’m just going to share my thoughts below.

Knuckleheads by Dan Antion

A Poignant Look at Days Gone By… and So Much More

In this debut novel, readers follow two teenage boys who discover they have paranormal gifts. For most kids, that would be a boon. They’d envision themselves as superheroes, possibly exploit their talents for selfish means.

Zach and Billy aren’t typical kids.

Despite trying to hide their abilities, they are constantly impacted by them, sometimes to serious detriment. Seeing the world through Zach’s eyes proves to be a brilliant character study. We feel his pain and confusion, we live his anger and fear. That, juxtaposed with his adult reflections, paints a complete picture of who the man is and how he developed from the boy he was.

Many secondary characters help form this picture, but none more than Zach’s father. As much as I love the boys, he may actually be my favorite of the cast. He’s a picture of strength, pragmatism, and understanding. While he’s not always transparent with his wife, readers would do well to remember this book is set in a different time, which, while not exactly excusing his subterfuge, absolutely makes it believable and puts it in context. The way Zach’s dad teaches lessons while still supporting his son is heartwarming. Too often in literature, we see the father figure being too tough, closed off, and unsympathetic. Or they go too far to the other side of the spectrum and are unrealistic caricatures like sitcom dads who are unflappable pillars of wisdom and virtue. This character was the perfect balance, and he was exactly who Zach needed to guide him during those confusing, formative years. That he could also take on another child to advise and nurture only made me love him more.

I’m always drawn to stories set in my stomping grounds, so the Pittsburgh element definitely appealed to me. But you don’t need to be from there or even like the city (but really, who wouldn’t love the Burgh?) to appreciate the work. There is a familiarity for me, but I believe all readers would be able to relate to the novel and its setting. The real gem for me was the era. It was nice to go back in time to an age where no one envisioned the future glut of computers in our homes and offices, and instantaneous communication via cell phones were the dreams of sci-fi fans. Every non-paranormal memory Zach related to his daughter was right out of my childhood, and it was a joy to revisit those times.

This work is actually a story within a story… a difficult form for seasoned writers to undertake. This debut author handled the convention in a creative way, and once I acclimated to the convention, I was drawn into the tale and had no problem differentiating between timelines.

I believe the action is just getting started, and I’m very much looking forward to the second book in the series.


Hues of Hope by Balroop Singh

Beautiful Prose and Powerful Messages

I’ve been reading more poetry lately, and this poet’s work has been on my radar for some time. I’m glad I finally had a chance to read it.

Singh has a way with words that doesn’t come along often. I’m a fan of alliteration and appreciated her use of it, but her style goes so far beyond the use of literary devices. Her words and images are beautiful, almost ethereal, and each poem was a joy to read.

I can’t say I had a favorite, but ones that stuck with me were:

  • The Door
  • Will They Fathom?
  • Buried Dreams
  • Memories
  • I Know You!
  • and at least half of the “Reflections that Retort” section 

I no longer write poetry and don’t often read it, but I am so glad I read this work. I highly recommend it to fans of the genre or anyone looking for an escape into the beauty of words.

That’s it for me today. I hope you found something that appeals to you. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below. Grazie!

120 thoughts on “Two #BookReviews: Knuckleheads and Hues of Hope #paranormal #novel #poetry

  1. Great review of Dan’s first book, Staci! I also enjoy books set before all the technology, and I’ve read more than a few over the past year. Also enjoy the Pittsburgh setting. I can’t remember the last time I ready poetry, but I’ve seen some wonderful reviews of Balroop’s book. Congrats to the authors!

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  2. Pingback: Gratitude – #1LinerWeds – No Facilities

  3. I can relate very well to the era Dan talked about in his book! My daughter and I resisted having a cell phone for as long as we could. When we finally bought our first cell phone and she posted it on Facebook, her friends said “congratulations for 10 years late.” 🙂 🙂
    Wonderful reviews of both Dan’s and Balroops’s books, Staci! Thank you for sharing!

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  4. I love both of these reviews, Staci. And I agree about Zach’s father. I really liked him and the way he tried to understand and help both boys. It is truly a story within a story. I haven’t read Hues of Hope yet, but it’s up for me soon. I know I’ll enjoy it. Thanks for sharing and congrats to these authors!

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  5. I’ve been hearing good things about Dan’s book. It’s on my radar.

    I don’t read a lot of poetry either, but Balroop’s collection sounds like something I’d be interested in reading. Great reviews, Staci!

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  6. Great reviews, Staci! I’m so excited to read Dan’s book. The teasers have been wonderful. I have been saving it for a trip that is approaching quickly and my first summer of 2022 read. I can’t wait to read it!

    I love poetry so I will be looking into Singh’s book thanks for sharing her work as well.

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  7. Two excellent reviews, Staci. I read and thoroughly enjoyed Balroop’s book of poetry (she never disappoints), and after reading your review of Dan’s novel, I’m going to have to add it to my TBR. Congratulations to both authors!

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  8. Thank you so much for reading and sharing your impressions and thoughts on Knuckleheads, Staci. I am so glad you liked and understood the character John Amstead, and I’m glad to hear that my sharing the current story and the one in the past wasn’t confusing. I am thrilled to hear from someone from the Burgh. I tried not to require any special knowledge, but the setting becomes more critical in the next books in the series.

    Thanks, too, for introducing me to Balroop Singh. I write very little poetry, but I enjoy reading it, and I enjoy learning about good poets

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    • One of my college majors was creative writing. The first in-major class I took was a poetry workshop. I’d been writing it for years and loved it. The professor was amazing, and he helped me shape a poem worthy of submission. (I even got it published.) The next poetry professor I had was horrible, to the point that he turned me off reading and writing it. It’s been longer than I care to count since I wrote any, and I don’t read it much even today. Occasionally I binge a few books, and I’m always glad I did. Then I flashback to college and stop again for a while. I’m glad to have read Balroop’s work and to have introduced you to it.

      I think you handled your setting perfectly. People who love the city will feel at home, and people who have never been there will have an impression of it without feeling lost or alienated. (Looking forward to visiting it again in book two!) And John… I really love him. You did a great job with developing your characters. Congratulations, Dan.

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