Read the Taken by the Wind book Reviews Now

Taken by the Wind

Ci Ci Soleil
Beach Reads Press

Taken by the Wind is a novel steeped in inspections of new beginnings, endings, and Miranda Wright’s efforts to control what happens in her world.

Her ability to remain flexible in adversity is apparent from the start (“...she spun around, her heart racing as a splintering sound rendered the air, followed by a crash and a loud thud. She ran to the window to see a large branch fallen across half the patio; her giant planter lay in shards among the collateral damage of the once-potted petunias. “Well, shit. That’s not good timing. Okay…” she thought aloud. “Change of plans. So, no guests on the patio.”), as she’s determined that no wind will alter her trajectory and plans.

But as she finds herself the author of a best-selling book, Taken by the Wind, Miranda begins to experience the blowback of fame, fortune, and fan fantasies about her influences and life.

Suddenly, everything is out of control. And Miranda finds herself losing her edge on many levels (“I’m trying hard to fight my way back to where I was.”).

How close to reality is the story she’s created, and how does it influence the course of her life?

Readers will find Taken by the Wind an exceptional story of change, transformation, and new opportunities.

Life gets messy, sometimes. How various characters handle ongoing adversity and changes over time lends a realistic, thought-provoking atmosphere to Taken by the Wind that will engross women interested in changing fortunes, love, and relationships.

The result is a novel that will delight women who look for already-strong female protagonists who are not afraid of re-examining their relationships, attitudes, and perspectives in the face of new experiences.

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Curious for Cookies

Ci Ci Soleil and Landon Rosanbalm
Beach Reads

Picture book readers who like dogs will find Curious for Cookies a fun story of dachshund Cornelius which offers an unusual visual format: the dog is introduced with a color photo captured in drawings by Landon Rosanbalm.

Cornelius considers those who love and care for him to be HIS “pets,” not the other way around. And his pets are eating HIS cookies.

The problem is that Cornelius is short, and he can’t quite verify what is going on with the cookies above his head.

Ci Ci Soleil presents a simple, engaging rhyme that captures the dog’s dilemmas and passion for cookies. More importantly, his mix-up over cookies and who owns them is engaging. It contrasts in language and description that kids will find hilarious (especially those who own dogs that receive regular treats).

As Cornelius tries to be “tall” and reaches for his goals, he makes a discovery that leads him into trouble.

Simple lessons about dog food, health, and achievement blend into a whimsical picture book adventure that works equally well as either a read-aloud for the very young or a story for those with rudimentary reading skills.

Kids will learn about truth and consequences as they absorb this tale of a mischievous dog whose heart is set on an impossible goal and personal conundrum when his “pets” don’t behave properly.

Landon Rosanbalm’s fun dog drawings enhance the story, while the photos of the dachshund that begin and end the tale are wonderful emphases that Cornelius is real.


Ci Ci Soleil
Beach Read Press

It’s not every day that one receives a second chance at life, especially during an end-of-life interview with the gates of Hell ready to open. Still, in Victory! Quila Williams is offered an uncommon chance at redemption and a new in which she must consider difficult choices.

Readers of magical realism will already know the lure this genre holds, with its roots in the real world contrast with the magic that operates as an undercurrent within it. Victory! Represents the best opportunities of this format to enlighten, delight, and entertain because, more so than most fantasy-oriented novels, it projects a contemporary social inspection of a character who faces moral and ethical problems over an uncommon decision: to thwart the devil himself.

This course of action offers many opportunities for surprise and reflection as readers follow Quila back into the real world with a revised purpose and perspective.

Readers won’t anticipate many of the social and political examinations that add to the story, from issues of poverty and black lives (that somehow never seem to matter enough) to addiction, the failing war on drugs, and the contrasts between these elements and Quila’s privileged white friend Victory Van Dyke, who faces her form of discrimination despite her obvious advantages.

Ci Ci Soleil’s ability to contrast these two lives and their seemingly disparate (but evident) connections against the backdrop of a magical realism setting sparked by a Devil’s bargain poses many intriguing questions.

Is there such a victory against impossible social, political, and psychological odds? Can one cheat the Devil? And, wherein really lays the evil?

While it may pose as entertaining contemporary fiction or quasi-fantasy, Victory! is a chameleon in disguise? It’s a serious social inspection that presents many disturbing questions about self, society, and family dysfunction as a microcosm of these elements and forces that contribute to the systematic destruction of the Black family.

These are no light topics and are even more surprising for their appearance in a magical realism story. But, this is also the strength of Victory! its ability to enchant, dismay, educate, and entertain, all in one.

Soleil cultivates a voice that is powerful and demands to be heard. She takes no easy routes in describing the puzzles and challenges involved in reliving one’s life differently while not quite knowing what the revised opportunities could be: “Were there the rules to this game? Surely, she couldn’t tell him she’d seen him in another life, and while the shadows of this life remained unchanged, his destiny was set in cold, hard stone.”

The philosophical and social inspections are outstanding, providing readers with much food for thought as Quila navigates this world and other characters who also question its place: “The world has gone mad. Mad, I tell you. What kind of crazy times are we living in? Where in any world is it considered okay to act like that?” Garrett said.

Chad nodded in agreement. “Yeah, I want to know who opened the fortune cookie that reads, ‘may you live in interesting times? This dystopian future reality is not the world I signed up for.”

Quila thought about her experience. “I don’t think we get to sign up, and I think we are signed up. We get what we get, and what we do with it matters.”

Victory! is a story that lures magical realism and fantasy but then delivers a hard-hitting examination of real-world issues and individual choice. For these reasons, it’s a standout that may disappoint some who choose it for fantasy elements alone. Still, it will delight literary contemporary novel readers looking for something brightly, inspirationally thought-provoking.