April 2022 Review Issue
Fantasy & Sci Fi
Literature Mystery & Thrillers
Creative Edge Publishing LLC
9781685640569 $18.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Readers of occult fantasy will find Annihilation
a revealing tale that explores the stuff of nightmares. It opens with a
prologue that recaps past events affecting protagonist Samara
explaining why she keeps a demon-killing knife in her bedside drawer
this threat still looms over her world.
It reviews her relationship with Legend and the
current nightmare she
lives with day and night: "For
whatever reason, guilt was eating her alive, making her believe she was
responsible for killing her best friend, a conniving slut, and the
demon she wasn’t supposed to love anymore."
Although the prologue is unexpectedly long and
detailed for a recap
introduction, it segues neatly into the next scenario, in which demons
Hell assemble to mount their latest surge, presenting quite a different
in which Queen Lucinda and Hecate discuss awakening dormant powers to
path to freedom.
As the story moves between human and demon realms,
it develops powerful
characters on both sides, whose intentions and perspectives are
against the backdrop of violent confrontations both psychic and
Kaylin Mcfarren does an excellent job of
juxtaposing these special
interests in a way that makes both adversary and angels feel realistic
relatable, melding both with a sense of unexpected humor that emerges
different points in the saga: "As
the car rolled down the street, Samara rocked from side to side in the
seat, overwhelmed by what she was seeing. “I can’t believe I’m really
EARTH! None of my friends will ever believe this! A REAL CAR!”
Eliza glanced at Damian. “Yeah, good idea, Bro. She’ll have no problem fitting in…if we’re going to a sanitarium.”
From horrible mistakes and efforts to change
attitudes set in stone to
Samara's encounter with Lucifer and the false promises which lure her,
crafts a winning chronicle that holds many subplots, twists and turns,
inspections that keep readers not only on their toes, but wondering
ultimate definition of good and evil intentions.
Eventually, Samara comes to question her family
roots and the
transformations that have affected them all: "Tyrus
closed his eyes and bowed his head, breaking her heart.
What had happened to her strong, brave uncle? To the remarkable
protected their family for years? They had laughed and joked, despite
differences in age. He would never say that he loved Ariel, but he felt
in her presence. And as for her father, they were closer than brothers.
in Hell were they? How could they allow this to happen?"
Readers seeking more than a classic
good-versus-evil scenario will
delight in the complex psychological streams of thought in Annihilation. Its danger doesn't just
come from outside, but from
As changing hearts bow to adversity and the weight
of new realizations, Annihilation evolves
a fine personal
focus that will keep readers engaged in the outcome of more than just
protagonist Samara and her choices.
It's unusual to find an occult fantasy title that
revelation readers, but Annihilation
achieves this and more, providing not just an engrossing foray into
self-realization, but an investigation of the foundations of good
gone awry and the gray area that exists between good and evil.
Readers seeking more than one-dimensional action
will relish the
questions and answers that arise in the course of the rollicking good
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Barton Paul Levenson
Another Century is an alternate history
novel set in a world where
the Viking-controlled Vinland occupies North America and rules with a
leads a good life in this world. He is courting the pious but pretty
Nilsson (despite the fact that he's a confirmed atheist), he has a good
a programmer of the Lundqvist and Chesterfield Analytical Engine, and
living a life uncomplicated by the changing politics of his times. Then
Vinland government recruits him to program simulations of a device that
defeat the dictator-led country of Puustinia.
In the midst
testing his creation, Thorvald finds himself dropped into the center of
controversy which creates turbulence in his formerly-predictable life.
Levenson's alternate history scenario features elements of steampunk
paired with astute political and social analysis to keep readers
These attractions are cemented by an attention to strong characters as
encounters ideas and political challenges above and beyond his
duties, and finds his life changing as a result.
experiences move into his habits and exchanges with others, pairing
history with recognizable social encounters: "The
girl stuck her head out the window. 'You're off yer bleedin'
nut, you are!' Thorvald started to tip his hat to her, realized he
it any more, and converted the move into a salute."
the prototype aeromobile becomes the heart of controversy, readers
story that operates on many levels, from political and scientific
confrontations to personal faith: "Forgive
me, Thorvald. I cannot marry an atheist. I do respect your position,
faith is very important to me. The bible says not to be unequally yoked
unbeliever." Only a short while later, Thorvald reflects "God
help me" as he steps into a gunner's role.
blend issues of faith, science, political change, and personal
creates a fast-paced story steeped in a quasi-Victorian atmosphere.
and political conflicts as a Victorian culture confronts the threat of
totalitarianism, Another Century is
highly recommended read for sci-fi enthusiasts who like their alternate
histories firmly rooted in conundrums that change hearts, minds, and
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The Heir of
David Allen Schlaefer
978-1-953910-79-0 $16.99 Print/$4.99 ebook
Book II of the Far Northern Land Saga, The Heir of Lemminkäinen, continues an epic fantasy based on heroic figures in Finnish mythology and reflects David Allen Schlaefer's long-standing interest in and studies of Finland's folklore.
Readers who harbor a similar interest in folklore and myths won't be daunted by the unfamiliar words and letters that pepper the story, and will find the diacritics, the attention to details that reflect how the peoples of Iron-Age Finland lived, and the adventures that embrace goblins, mortals, and mages to be thought-provoking and absorbing.
Under Schlaefer's hand, the world of the Kalevala comes to life, continuing the rich saga that began in the first book, The Mark of the Bear Clan, as King Egan tries to unite seven disparate clans in a common endeavor to survive.
His efforts to assume command as Finland's High King involve overcoming witches and magical creatures in powerful clashes, and unraveling the complex and sometimes twisted purposes of men.
thing he needs on his plate, but it's the first thing that will truly
his mission and his heart.
While Egan confronts his destiny, the tale’s other protagonist, Ulla, embarks on her own journey to become a wizard. Both her budding love for Egan and her deep-rooted fear of loss complicate her efforts to live up to the ancient prophecy that foretold her pivotal role in the fight for the Far Northern Land’s freedom.
Schlaefer is a master at weaving Finnish mythology into the evolving story of a battle that tests all of the characters.
The action is constant and swift, the cultural and mythological references are challenging but engaging and emotionally compelling, and the story is replete with satisfying twists and turns that most readers won't see coming.
Most of all, The Heir of Lemminkäinen charts the course of a leader and other characters who face challenges to their objectives, perspectives, and attempts to hold their worlds together.
myths, magic, and minds is spiced with strong action, making The
of Lemminkäinen a fantasy epic that’s accessible to
a wide audience.
But it's the reader who enjoys culturally-based fantasy and battles
all of the characters, and who holds a special interest in Finnish
cultural influences who will find it
an especially compelling read.
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Jade, Daughter of the
Stephen J. C. Andes
978-1-953366-60-3 $12.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
the Wasteland provides a speculative story set in Baton
It depicts a world in which an Event has altered the environment that,
years later, houses Jade, who faces a pack of Feral children at the
This is a post-plague milieu
Twitchers, Anti guard patrols, and survivor efforts which hinge on
places in a wreck of a world. Jade is an 'Older' in the eyes of the
around her, but unlike most, she isn't intent on controlling or
them. Her brother, Samuel, is committed to non-violent methods of
embraces methods learned during their time with the Sisters of the Way
During one of her house
searches for safety or survival
tools, Jade finds a mounted saber in a glass case. It just so happens
father had taught her how to fence. And so Jade holds her first real
navigating and surviving her world: "I've
been without a weapon too long. Finally, once again, a part of me has
I'm a woman with a sword."
Jade evolves as the story
moves between past and present
experience to consider her uncertain future survival in the wastelands
Rouge as it falls apart.
Stephen J. C. Andes does a
fine job of creating powerful
characters who move through this revised environment surveying
options for survival. Jade is not the only main character making
about how to control it. Others, including a fifty-five-year-old woman
somehow immune to the Twitch, also consider how to finish what they
in revamping their lives and interacting with others.
A lesbian Librarian central
to the developing plot
presents an alternate set of experiences, motivations, and choices that
contrast well with Jade's evolution. As betrayal, nightmares, and
threaten both of their dreams, Andes creates a vivid story of a future
that's falling apart in different ways.
The Librarian is rebuilding
her Library. Jade is building
a reputation for herself in The Wasteland. Both are on similar
that cause them to rely on one another to bring their families together
build new safety into the world, post-virus.
Given COVID-19's presence
today, there is no better time
for choosing the evolutionary adventure that is Jade,
Daughter of the Wasteland. It's a hard-hitting story of
survival and transformation traverses different cultures and social
a vivid manner that keeps readers guessing about the nature of survival
that new world vision until the end. It is highly recommended reading
anyone interested in dystopian survival tales.
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DX Varos Publishing
978-1-955065-27-6 $19.95 Paperback/$4.99
anticipate the inconceivable?"
Kat's Cradle is the first book in the
Webolution series. It's
billed as sci-fi, but will also attract readers who enjoy stories of
transformation, and self-discovery that lead to a new chapter in
introduces a bodiless observer who observes a solar flare that erupts
towards Earth. This first-person observation of a powerful event blends
the third-person story of Kat, who is teaching bored college
the Earth's weakening magnetic field when she collapses mid-lecture.
simple blackout portends new abilities that bring with it expanded
possibilities and new restrictions, and Kat embarks on an unexpected
far from the scholarly educational trajectory she was on course to
God, free will, and belief systems to the nature of human consciousness
possibilities in how the mind may take another evolutionary leap
forward, Kat's Cradle creates a
characters that approach cosmic inquiry from very different
mystical communities and both capitalists and thinkers consider
in connecting to the universe, testing belief systems within many
Kat finds herself the voice of a consciousness operating within and
Kat's life with the perspective of the "conscious conscience" in a
story that comes full circle between awakening, revelation, and abiding.
To bill Kat's Cradle as a sci-fi read alone
would be to do it an injustice. It's an inquiry into the nature of
consciousness, evolution, and perspective that makes Kat just one of a
of strong characters whose lives intersect in unexpected ways.
unexpected conclusion to the story that takes the usual focus on a main
protagonist and shifts it. This demonstrates that the events of Kat's Cradle are only one step in a
series that needs no single protagonist or entity in order to prove a
not just sci-fi, but novels of expanding consciousness and discoveries
the universe and humankind's place in it, will find that Kat's
Cradle reaches across genres. Book clubs should also consider
it for its paradigm-changing inspection of humanity, spirituality, and
beyond human ken.
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the first book in The Chaos Apostles series, gives sword and sorcery
readers a fine story about Kaine, who is the only one of his generation
inherit healing powers. His quest for direction leads him to the
Yanasu, where he falls under the tutelage of a priest and meets
princess Na’Serra, who is also on
the cusp of
evolving her magical abilities.
both will ease into their revised roles to make the most of their
but underlying their transition is community pushback
and questions that each have about their place in the world and
the purpose of their lives: "Twice
already, Kaine had observed actions that he could not explain. Moments
felt they were just pieces on a King’s Gambit mat, that the Gods were
them around for their desires."
Part of this
self-realization process is the ability to
guide, follow, and understand the paths of men, Gods, and their revised
in their communities. The other half of the equation lies in how well
learn their lessons about their powers and how best to wield them.
As Kaine moves within the
court circles of King Tristin
and learns to navigate political and social conflicts (as well as his
abilities), he receives wisdom from its rituals and tests: “My only alteration to the second stage was
the burning rocks underneath. The hand climb is exactly the same
is only the fear of falling that is making these men fail.” His
involve training himself how to attune to Na’Serra’s energy as he hones
talents and considers the possibility that he will step into the role
becoming the next Light Giver.
Those with magic are being
hunted. It's time for them to
leave. The journey begins with Light
Giver, setting the stage for a quest that embraces coming of
empowerment, and issues of social and personal transformation.
Mike Slade creates a winning
introduction to battles both
lost and won and events that both challenge and prepare Na'Serra and
Kaine to reach inside himself to unleash a force neither anticipated.
Mike Slade's attention to
building the details of both
this fantasy world and the particular bonds that link two disparate
people creates a story that is invitingly appealing to fantasy readers
young adult into adult circles.
Book One set the stage.
Future books will follow this
journey as both characters, individually and together, set out to
change their world and themselves.
ability to weave a fine tale based on two strong characters'
processes makes it a highly recommended fantasy pick suitable for a
audience of genre readers and libraries catering to them.
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on Mars: The
978-1-7378564-0-5 $14.95 Paper/$5.99 ebook
"We all have things we hold dear and we
all have our reasons." Even aliens.
The Wake, the first book of the Man on Mars series,
provides a satisfying hard sci-fi story set in 2057, when Earth overrun
virus. Survivors fled by escaping to Mars, but new confrontations arise
alien race that has terraformed the planet to make it habitable for
interests confronts the human immigrants who seek to call Mars their
Alien War has
left some with lasting injuries...including the protagonist of this
who lost his memory and now leads a human resistance movement against
aliens, called the Wake.
harbor their own heroes and fighters, and these are also profiled in
of emerging action between alien and human factions.
adept at portraying various conflicts that emerge between individuals
which embrace both military engagements and genetic engineering
science and military aspects of the story are cemented with strong
characterization from both sides of the picture.
lends to a
plot that is vivid in its imagery and unpredictable in its twists and
which add intrigue and problem-solving mystery into the evolving
brings the two races into conflict.
memories may be the key to understanding not just the past, but his
relationship with the Gatti and his role between the two opposing
forces...if he can recover them in
large cast of characters whose special interests play out on Mars. The
struggles, triumphs, and failures of all involved contribute to an
story that operates on different levels: psychological, scientific, and
interests and feelings of Aria and other supporting characters makes
in the battles more personal and engrossing than in most military
result is a
Martian conflict like no other. Man on
Mars is highly recommended for sci-fi readers who like their
battle action tempered by both hard sci-fi and social and psychological
inspections. It will keep them both engaged and educated about the
perspectives and purposes of all involved.
"We all have things we hold dear and we
all have our reasons."
interspecies revelations and struggles contribute to the greater good
story, making The Wake a powerful,
strong recommendation for sci-fi libraries seeing interest in either
science or military alien/human encounters.
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DX Varos Publishing
978-1-955065-23-8 $18.95 Paperback/$4.99 ebook
This World of Love and Strife is a
supernatural thriller that will
appeal to readers of both suspense stories and paranormal fantasy. It
a secret organization called the Vanguard, whose purpose is to blur the
between human perceptions and the supernatural world that exists
done its job almost too well, is now failing due to inner corruption,
disgraced former member Cato discovers. He's not the only one to have
from grace with the Vanguard. Aldous, too, is on their 'dubious assets'
His newfound appetites as a vampire seem to make him more of a
the dark side than the Vanguard's efforts...and yet, his skills are too
valuable for him to be rejected outright. He operates somewhere on the
borderland, supporting the Vanguard's ideals, but outside of their
focuses on the
conflict that evolves between Cato, Aldous, and the Vanguard as both
and insiders begin to put the puzzle pieces together to arrive at the
of these evolving disasters, but he's not the only one circumventing
Vangard's mission. From Vanguards who kill werewolves "for the sport of
it" to questionable alliances between Aldous, Rebecca, Cato, and others
who also hold their own agendas, the secret war between demons and
factions comes to life.
at creating and pitting characters against one another and, sometimes,
own special interests. Lucien, Rebecca, and others face loyalty
suicide missions, and conflicts that require them to make difficult
psychological profiles and interactions drive a story replete with
This World of Love and Strife is a
suspenseful horror/fantasy story
about forces unleashed in the world that move beyond their stated
and boundaries to force characters to change and grow.
While This World of Love and Strife will reach
horror audiences, it also should be included in fantasy and thriller
collections as a strong example of the strengths that can emerge from a
that embraces different genres with powerful characters and scenarios
unpredictable and engrossing.
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Alexey L. Kovalev
978-1639881468 $16.99 Paper/$7.99 ebook
provides a literary, philosophical
inspection of God and the phenomena surrounding a deity's presence and
influences. It probes both the concept of God in general and the
Christian belief systems in a manner that is thought-provoking,
Alexey L. Kovalev's
historical, social, and spiritual
inspection pulls no punches: "I am
not talking of Second Coming. I often think there was no First one
least in a way it has been rendered. God’s sons come all the time. I am
miracles, but for honest cooperation. I would take it to be
It presents a give-and-take
dialogue between the narrator
and probable readers which questions, replies to, and raises further
and insights about God and the literary, philosophical, and religious
sentiments that have risen around the concept over human history.
As these inspections evolve,
it becomes evident that they
are presented in a unique blend of free verse poem and literary
runs the gamut between essay, drama, and poetry.
Kovalev questions status quo
in many different ways, as
the prologue to this venture points out: "A
name needed to be found. So, he acquired quite a few since none of them
embraced all his estimated features. But his existence was still
at least his participation in creating the Universe, in which a man
himself living. The Creator, Demiurge—these were some of the names.
unquestionable seemed to be his might and therefore power, so they also
him the Master, the Lord. However, the most popular and widespread
generalized name, God, yielding a plethora of interpretations, but in
meant abundance, good, and the ability to dispense it."
As hard as it is to neatly
peg the literary wellsprings
of these reflections, one thing is certain: readers who enjoy literary,
religious, and social considerations of mankind injected with a subtle
irony and rebellion will find А́ Deux appeals to
psychological, and spiritual components of the soul with a penetrating,
thought-provoking, and unique voice.
may defy easy categorization, but what it
demands of readers in the way of intellectual prowess is more than
a powerful, wide-ranging consideration of subjects that move from God
"You should not be afraid of chaos;
it is full of living force and waits for your will to organize it one
another. But instead of rational analysis, employ vivid, sensible
Behemoths, Leviathans, rejoicing morning stars, and forego following
of a formed, artificial, problematic system. Do not fight it, just quit
Libraries strong in
literary, religious, or philosophical
inspections will find А́ Deux a fine intellectual
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All the Rivers Flow
into the Sea & Other Stories
All the Rivers Flow into the Sea & Other
Stories is a literary
collection of short stories that capture love, life, and Vietnamese
Many of these stories have appeared elsewhere, from anthologies to
magazines; but having them all under one cover gives readers a
interconnected set of voices that, when read together, form a
picture of lives under siege in various ways.
"The Woman-Child," for example. Here, twenty-three-year-old narrator
Minh reflects on his return from America to Vietnam with a youngster
many questions for him about his heritage and life.
these very different worlds come to life in the course of their
conversation: “You should wash your hair
every day, too.”
“Easy for you to say, chú. Clean water is treasured here.”
child (“Why are you so kind?”), and
the answers influence his purpose in visiting his native country (to
Vietnam’s environmental degradation caused by shrimp aquaculture some
years after the war).
to preclude knowing much about the human lives affected by these
fact, it is everything, as scientific and cultural revelations evolve.
the title story "All the Rivers Flow into the Sea," which doesn't
introduce, but concludes the collection. Here, a different encounter
American Jonathan and Vietnamese girl Phuong depicts a jungle journey
realities of survival prove quite different for each character.
close connections between disparate cultures, Vietnam's changing
and the American and Vietnamese people who engage on a different
than the war which brought them together in the past.
vignettes of history, beauty, and inspection that capture different
perspectives of life, death, love and growth in Vietnam. "The Girl on
Bridge" is one such example of a fierce contrast between the nation's
beauty and the clashes between man and nature that affect the
everyone in it: "We had moved with
our school out of the city after the Americans began bombing North
this morning, we had heard the air raid sirens, and we were biking
bridge into the city before the planes showed up. We were on the bridge
the American jets came roaring over. I had barely jumped off my bicycle
the explosions blasted the air with a furnace heat. The river gushed up
bomb hit the water, then the bridge shook and clanged. Dirt stung my
nose. The air singed. Stinging hot on the skin. Suffocating me with its
they know Vietnam's people and culture (albeit from afar and through
history) would do well to pursue the living history in these literary
Each captures a facet of Vietnam and interactions with the nation that
to vivid life. Each is another step towards understanding and
reflecting on the
peoples, politics, and experiences unique to that nation.
literary short works that cultivate cultural inspections, as well as
interested in stories of Vietnam's people and places, should place All the Rivers Flow into the Sea & Other
Stories high on their reading lists.
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Black Spot Books (print) & Crystal Lake Publishing (ebook)
$31.99 Hardcover/$21.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
Horror libraries and
collections catering to patrons who enjoy horror literature will find Classic
Monsters Unleashed a
addition. It's an anthology that pairs big-name authors (Joe Lansdale,
Wilson, Richard Christian Matheson and Dacre Stoker) with
lesser-known writers who offer their contrasting takes on classic
atmosphere is enhanced by black and white illustrations throughout that
the murky horror visually with compelling embellishments.
are diverse in subject. All reinvent and re-imagine classic horror
Frankenstein and the Invisible Man to the Wicked Witch of the West.
foundations in the classics, each story provides a satisfying
and interpretation that many readers won't see coming.
"Blood Hunt" is one example of this diversity under the horror
umbrella. It is set in the Dakota Territory in 1885 and tells of an old
medicine man Sitting Bull, a friend of William "Buffalo Bill" Cody. The
tale receives compelling visual portraits by Colton Worley as it
changing West that affects both of them: "Like the Indian, he
mourned the loss of the Western frontier, hated the changes brought by
white men and too much civilization, knowing it was the closing chapter
way of life and for all the native people."
component builds slowly from its Western roots as a train engineer
Dracula, who has turned this train into a death ride.
Sitting Bull face different demons, the story becomes a study in
freedom, and efforts to survive.
this collection features both a familiar backdrop and a contemporary
delight reader of the unexpected.
monster stories are unleashed into the modern world via a collection
to appeal to literary horror audiences who want creative approaches to
genre that build upon past themes, but layer them with contemporary
Unleashed is to be celebrated for its diversity and ability
to stay true to
the monsters of its origin while featuring stories that are
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Creatures and Poems: Plus Some Other Fish Rhymes
979-8404601664 $25.88 Hardcover/$15.10 Paper
Sea Creatures and
Some Other Fish Rhymes
illustrates the fun that poetry can embrace, providing a zany
all ages that is both ocean-focused and whimsical. The operative
for both poems and pictures is "silly," and the book fulfills this
promise with a series of engaging observations that belay the usual
approaches of too many poetry books.
Art combined with poetry is "a delicious
Richard Merrits reflects in the collection's introduction. The poems
the author to add illustrations which are just as whimsically
also, quite artistically rendered.
These aren't demanding works. Take "Pompano Pompano
for example. Its very short observation concludes with an ironic twist
identifying the "flat fish from Florida" outside of its normal sea
environment. Succinct? Yes. But the poem really...snags readers,
winning insight on both the pompano and its ultimate fate.
Readers trawling for humor will find plenty in this
book. Even the
poetry titles present original, fun observations, as in "By Jove, I
Aside from its delightful observations, the poems
structures, from free verse to rhyme: "From
the depths of the sea;/Came a fish that could be;/From a prison did
in stripes, so you see..."
From redfish and ahi to the anglers who long for
them, Sea Creatures and Poems will
appeal to a
wide audience, especially those who do not view poetry as an
philosophical and psychological analysis alone.
Its blend of natural history info, inviting color
accompanying fun insights is recommended for those who fish to those
eating or studying them, as well as poetry lovers who will appreciate
different approaches, poetic variety, and whimsical inspections within.
Libraries catering to these audiences will want to
include it in their
collections, but Sea Creatures and Poems
will prove a delightful choice for adults who seek to instill in the
appreciation for poetry's capability for fun and its diverse structural
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& the Checkout Girl
978-1957730011 $14.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Tolstoy & the Checkout Girl: Second Edition: Anna-Langston, Lis: 9781957730011: Amazon.com: Books
The literary short stories in Tolstoy
Checkout Girl represent award-winning pieces that have earned
elsewhere, but when read together, under one cover, they emphasize
diverse structures that use the short fiction format to best advantage.
From 'flash form' quick vignettes to works such
the opening "The End of the Century," in which roommates grow and
change, Lis Anna-Langston excels in capturing attention with
are hard-hitting from their opening lines: "Stuart
favorite roommate. Once he discovered gin our apartment was a revolving
busted romantic encounters." Contrasts between adversity
appreciation; between love and struggle; between propriety and
all delightfully outlined in these unique observations: "His
kisses were like a good bottle of scotch. I never got enough of them.
loved kissing anyone but him, not in my whole life. No one trueness in
voice lured me in. Lonely, consumed out under the bright, blue sky a
in his eyes swept me across the landscape. In the last fading rays of
we disappeared into the shadows of the parlor, far from my napping
As Anna-Langston graphically captures these
experiences, readers are treated to a wealth of imagery and
insights presented with a literary twist in wordplay that both
delights: "A naked searching
for feelings just below our
skin exposed our layers to the world. Our hands were a wild catalog of
The result is a series of stories fuelled by
references to alcohol, changing senses of place and people, and
that move from family to lovers and friends. From the magic of
childhood to the
inspections of adulthood, Anna-Langston creates a medley of feelings
on experience to delight the mind and heart.
& the Checkout Girl needs to be in any literary
collection where psychological and social observation intersect with
inspection: "I didn't exactly
need a feeling, nor did I
have any idea where I'd put one."
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Z is for
Z is for Zapatazo is a literary
collection of poetry and writings
that is steeped in family, faith, and Puerto Rican culture. It is
recommended reading for those who look for contrasts between social,
and psychological experiences.
the paths between and through these experiences. One example is his
"Miss Rice": "You
resembled water seeking the best path/through the hot, compacted
and led the way, and the milieus that birthed his cultural and literary
are reflected in imagery that allows both poetic and essay forms to
forth, embracing political angst as much as social and personal
reflection: "Americans, they love freedom but
for brown people. They love him who had “no place to lay his head” but
people. And they sure love Indians – that defeat rival football teams,
baseball pennants, or faithfully assist a masked, Clorox-clean avenger
justice of a yesteryear that never was, but they do not love Indians.
the Houdini of republics."
with the brimming world," so do the passionate observations, anger, and
moments of discovery of these writings.
Z is for Zapatazo is particularly highly
recommended for literary
collections where social and political reflection is of interest. More
just a gathering of philosophical insights, Z
is for Zapatazo holds the ability to hit—and hit hard.
and essays who want to make solid connections between social and
and individual pursuits (especially those interested in the "in
between" connections linking revolution and learning) will find that Z is for Zapatazo a unique, powerful
of how literary and social interests can neatly dovetail.
Return to Index
Barbara K. Janik
$29.99 Hardcover/$23.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
title Chasing bin Laden: My Hunt for the
Most Notorious Terrorist feels like an incongruity because,
at one time,
many disparate forces were chasing bin Laden, and these usually didn't
individuals. It builds upon an unusual "secret truth": that in 2006,
bin Laden was arrested in Brooklyn, NY by the New York FBI terrorism
based on a tip that came from historian Barbara Janik, the author of
With that fact comes an authority and special perspective that no other
can claim, making Chasing bin Laden a
"must read" for anyone interested in not just bin Laden history, but
lay investigations conducted by those outside the usual criminal task
opens the story by admitting that writing this book exacted an
she still pays today. No research piece or emotionally guarded search
public records, Chasing bin Laden
a very personal foray into the heart and mind of terrorists that
author's six-year journey of reliving the events from 2006 and beyond.
this memoir a work of fiction, but luckily, Janik obtained copies of
phone conversations between herself and authorities, which support the
of events and facts in Chasing bin Laden.
This evidence has been placed on a website, along with documentation of
author's conversations in an online forum.
more than a focus on bin Laden, here. The process of calling in
interacting with authorities, and conducting independent research that
supplemented FBI activities and investigations makes for revealing
about how lay investigators can add their research savvy to the efforts
track down even the most seasoned criminals.
expected a focus on police procedurals will find that this memoir
Janik's life and relationships as much as it does her methodology and
interactions with authorities. This gives her story a personal tone as
only explores her life and its influences, but the special challenges
juggling family and outside forces: "In
a moment of panic, I regretted all the long hours I'd spent looking for
bin Laden and others. I was neglecting my children. They needed their
and they needed easy access to sustenance. Why was I such a bad mom?"
focus on breakthroughs took a toll on her family and relationships, and
persevered, always feeling like she was on the cusp of locating a
actually remained one step ahead of her.
life stories add professional and social reflections to round out this
decade-long story of pursuit. Even more ironically, Janik did not
promised reward for the arrest that was based on her tips. Even worse,
Laden's arrest was not widely known public news, placing her role in it
questionable light: "I had found the
most wanted man on the planet, and it looked like no one would ever
it. My efforts may
have saved lives, but
bin Laden would still be out there as the "boogie man" fanning the
fires of war. Meanwhile, I was left trying to prove he was no longer
2006 and Janik's successful efforts to chase down the most wanted
modern times should not be forgotten. Nor should the sacrifices made
toll she took and endured during the pursuit of her convictions.
Chasing bin Laden: My Hunt for the World's
Most Notorious Terrorist fits into the memoir label with its
Janik's life and family, it's also a powerful testimony to the lasting
of lay investigators on providing the tips and information that can
lead to a
just ask to see the light of day. It demanded it. It provides a
riveting story that will encourage others to stay the course in
research and convictions to fruition, even if the rest of the world
listen, doesn't know, or has a vested interest in burying that
Chasing bin Laden: My Hunt for the World's
Most Notorious Terrorist deserves to be featured in library displays strong
in true crime and
terrorist activities, and should be a part of discussion groups about
investigators, family life, and following one's dreams against all odds.
Return to Index
Camley Publishing Company
978-1737534501 $19.99 Paper/9.99 Kindle
Daddy Issues is a memoir about the author's life growing
up in Chicago sans a father, and opens with the "two things" the
author loves most in her life: dancing, and her father.
paragraphs, it's evident that this memoir holds and projects a special
strength as Camisha Broussard traverses love, loss, and life's
This is evident in the passage about her youthful observation of older
"The young women moved with the
strength of African queens and the grace of God's angels, each one in
the sister next to her. They were a well-refined machine, carefully
unison. They were beautiful, strong, and flawless. I admired them. I
be just like them. I wanted to be beautiful too. I wanted to be strong
wanted to be flawless too, but I wasn't them. I didn't have what they
life made sure that I never forgot that fact."
it should be said that if only one book were included in a library
in the impact and ramifications of father/daughter relationships, it
should be Daddy Issues. More so
than most books
about absentee fathers, it points out the lasting impact of a parent's
on a child as it traverses Broussard's life both with and without her
when he was
part of the family, her father would come and go before divorce
She astutely charts her mother's attempt to adapt to his mercurial
organize their family life without him.
As Misha loses her father and his gift one post-Christmas day, she includes many philosophical, social, and personal reflections about this process: "All hard endings have soft beginnings. The beginning of my life is no exception."
presents a seasoned and surprising acceptance of her father's failures,
acknowledging that "Dad tried to be
a good man. Youth is full of promises that life might grant, and it
not left out of the discussion, despite its main focus on "daddy
issues": "I did more
"changing" that year than any young girl should ever be allowed to do
alone. But I wasn't alone at all. I had my mom. She knew what I didn't.
Although she knew that she wasn't who or what I wanted, still, with
she had, she truly tried to be there for me."
passages it's evident that Broussard cultivates a sense of not just
love, and life challenges, but forgiveness. Perhaps this is the most
lesson of all as her memoir explores love, anger, and the resolutions
father's return, sick with cancer, introduces to her mother and herself.
The passion and conundrums presented by both his presence and absence are captured in vivid language that will educate men, especially, about the impacts they have on their daughters' lives whether they are present, absent, or coming and going: "After everything he'd done to her, how could she still be good to him? How could she feed him? Nourishing someone is such an intimate thing. How could she give up her bed for him and plan to sleep downstairs on the couch, right beneath her bedroom, so she could hear him if he woke up in the middle of the night and needed her for something? What was it about her that still cared? I had no idea how she functioned in whatever space she was in that allowed her to move around him so freely and peacefully. I had no idea what ailed her. I was also now certain that I didn't want to catch it."
descriptions are vivid portraits of a community, an era, and lives that
focused on family connections in various ways.
years, the author faces her fears, embarks on a lifelong healing
eventually comes full circle about her daddy issues and life.
truthful about her own choices, failures and successes in
Broussard's command of the language and her ability to express
subconscious feelings and messages pulls no punches as it embarks on a
to forgive and love him.
interested in absentee fathers, the life impacts, and a young woman who
into a more conscious adulthood will find the social, psychological,
cultural inspections in Daddy
Issues makes for a powerful story...one very highly
recommended for a wide range of audiences and library collections, from
interested in family makeup and analysis to others who just want to
the process of healing, recovery, and forgiveness.
Return to Index
Random Stories from an Accidental Life
Secant Publishing, LLC
978-1-7359957-1-7 $28.00 Hardcover/$8.99 ebook
Free Dancing: Random Stories from an
Accidental Life is a
memoir from a physician and academic researcher who reflects on the
of his life and his inquiries into its meaning and progression.
circumstances of inquiry, discovery and change in chapters that bristle
powerful descriptions of life's happenstances and educational
encounters: "Upon this first introduction to
I was assaulted with the mind-bending reality of intimately juxtaposed
contrasts so enormous that stepping across the threshold of the Taj
felt like taking Alice’s hand and passing, in an instant, through the
glass. Such shocking juxtapositions came to define my experience of
anticipating a staid story focused on the medical world will find the
into other cultures and academic circles is especially lively,
well-done: "As the consequences of
consumption of the generously supplied wine and champagne took hold,
conversations gained volume and intensity. Interesting conversations,
amiable. That’s what happens in a crowd of university folks. Strong
boundless confidence, compulsions to play to the audience, and often
opinions, sometimes clash in repartee that is less than friendly."
ability to capture these experiences with metaphorical description and
mind-catching detail sets this memoir above and beyond from most
others: "Breathlessness and leg cramps aren’t
so important when you stand on top of the world. I was reminded of my
view of the Taj Mahal, confronting suddenly the devastating beauty of
on passing through the marble gate. But this was different. The power
beauty of this Earth Dragon floated off into eternity reflecting
that were difficult to fully comprehend and impossible to describe.
pagan hordes from times past whose acquisitive ambitions were thwarted
structure must still hang around to shake their spears in frustration
gawking tourists. If only,
must echo ceaselessly into the vast ethereal space. As trite as the
is, it is impossible not to gawk."
capturing and bringing to life all kinds of encounters, from social,
and paradigm-defying moments, creates a memoir that examines life with
seriousness scholarliness of an academic and the whimsical inspections
considering the physical impact of his journeys or the mental
aging and maintaining relevance and a presence in the world, Brigham
succinct, hard-hitting inspections that readers will find
intimate and revealing: "When I age,
present me with a sinecure and I will either take it, relinquish any
intellectual curiosity, park myself out of the way and get about the
of dying, or I will refuse to accept the notion that I am worthless and
for something productive to do. Neither does much to protect the
Free Dancing's multifaceted examination of what it means
to be a changing force in the world results in a memoir that stands out
the crowd. It deserves a place not only in libraries strong in
and memoirs, but looking for books that resonate on many different
Return to Index
and Me: A Caregiver's Journey
Leona Upton Illig
Secant Publishing, LLC
978-0-9997503-8-4 $12.00 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Mom and Dementia and Me: A Caregiver's
especially poignant story with facets not seen in many competing books
either dementia or caregiving. It addresses denial, evidence, coping
different stages of dementia as it progresses and changes, and life
the crowd goes home."
considerations juxtapose both personal revelations and practical tips
navigating the complicated world of dementia, providing readers with a
blueprint of what to expect and what to do as it tells of Leona Upton
experiences caring for her mother during the throes of evolving Lewy
memoirs cover its devastating effects, providing the same focuses that
familiar to those experienced in reading the literature. Mom
and Dementia and Me explores a daughter-turned-caretaker's
perspective as she navigates the special caregiving challenges of this
condition, documenting a journey that presents knowledge the author
she'd received earlier.
also contains humor. One doesn't expect humor from such a serious
Illig's mother enjoyed laughter, and her intentional (and
as well as her family's ability to support and maintain it against all
yet another facet that makes Mom and
Dementia and Me special.
necessity of obtaining legal documents to support Illig's efforts to
her mother as her mental condition declined to a daughter's early
promise to her mother that they would never place her in assisted
force her to leave her home (a promise that became increasingly
keep as her mother's dementia evolved), Illig explores all the
options, challenges, and changes that dementia brings to sufferers and
along the way is the information Illig would have benefited from, had
opportunity to receive it earlier. Readers of Mom
and Dementia and Me now have a chance to learn from her
experience to better understand the kinds of decisions dementia brings
caregivers and families.
is why Mom and Dementia and Me
should be in any
library strong in stories of illness, health, mental health, and family
interactions. It's much more than another story of dementia. It
provides a road
map for caregivers struggling to find answers and understand what kinds
options face them, both now and in the future.
surveys on the market offer such specific insights into these choices,
making Mom and Dementia and Me a
Return to Index
Stardust by the Bushel: Hollywood on the
Chesapeake Bay's Eastern Shore is the first in-depth focus on the region's
attraction to Hollywood
stars who were born, lived, or are buried in the area, and provides a
survey of Eastern Shore history that embraces these many famous
sketches range from profiles of Linda Hamilton, Robert Kearns, and
Cain to surveys of Harriet Tubman and the films Misty
of Chincoteague and Failure
to envision an effort that blends cinematic history with actor
well as the culture and lure of the Chesapeake Bay's Eastern Shore, but
Lewis captures all these facets in every chapter, showing how (and
demonstrating why) a land cultivated by farmers and fishermen has lured
Hollywood directors, movie stars, and screenwriters over the years.
introduction states, "...the Eastern
shore is a state of mind. Its historic remoteness from the mainland and
these meddlesome state bureaucrats in Annapolis and Richmond lent the
distinctive character. Eccentric. Independent. Even a bit gnarly."
Stardust by the Bushel is a whimsical, fact-filled survey of the
region's culture and allure that celebrates its famous visitors and
while imparting a sense of place that is lively and personal: "Eastern Shore folk talk different.
Where on the Shore a person comes from influences their accent, but as
local speech patterns tend to come off as part Southern, part Northern,
part lazy Shakespearean."
collection interested in Hollywood biographical sketches and Eastern
history will find Stardust by the Bushel a
fitting tribute to the place, its people, and the personalities who
Return to Index
When Love Sticks Around
Belle Isle Books
978-1-953021-20-5 $14.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Around is a memoir shrouded in transition points that are
presented as a
series of essay vignettes.
This format allows for a
back-and-forth fluid movement
through Danielle Dayney's life as she brings forth childhood and adult
recollections based on themes, presenting them in a literary inspection
feels as much like a literary story as a memoir.
The result is that readers
will enjoy a memoir that feels
like a picture-in-picture representation of a life's ups, downs, and
The background is set in
"What's in a Name?," a
concise review of her father and mother's histories, their meeting, her
and the reasons behind her parents' separation and her mother's journey
single parent: "She had no money, no
furniture, no husband—just me: Danielle Renee Ruth. She promised to
give me the
best life she could."
This vignette segues neatly
Heater," in which child Danielle provides a vivid memory of her first
calamitous encounter with fire.
Each story builds an
evolving life as viewed through the
prism of memories and experiences. Each piece is a building block to a
search for normalcy in a life buffeted by change, circumstance, and the
repercussions of an era replete with racial violence, which reaches
life: "Transplants (like myself )
don’t get it at first, but the people born and raised in Detroit have
coursing through their veins, fifty years later."
Danielle Dayney's memoir
thus assumes the aspect of a
ballet dance of survival that recalls her mother's support and choices
social and familial influences that direct her life both with and
Read as a memoir, this story
is delightfully evocative,
calling forth memories (such as a beach day with Mom) using a concise
that captures the moment.
Read as a literary
inspection of short stories, though, When
Love Sticks Around especially
shines as a representation of how life's moments may be captured in a
evocative imagery and bigger-picture thinking to juxtapose personal
with social observation.
Libraries strong in memoirs
will, of course, find this
collection invitingly appropriate. But, literature readers who enjoy
story formats will find especially inspiring the vignette form, which
the author's life experiences in a moving documentary of the highs and
interactions with her family and the world.
Return to Index
Frank F. Weber
Moon Finder Press
978-1-63821-356-7 $18.00 Paper/$9.49 ebook
"The line between good and evil cuts through the heart of every person."
Bridges will appeal to readers of
with its investigative probe into a missing biological father who turns
be a psychopath who has vanished after a rampage.
When Harper Rowe discovers the truth about
her father's past, she
finds herself probing and uncovering numerous secrets about her father
Blaze and the trail of devastation he's left in his wake.
More so than most crime stories, Burning
Bridges holds a solid
foundation in real-world events. This lends it an authentic touch as
works with the first-person investigator and narrator of this story.
begins in modern times, where “My mom had the dubious
distinction of being
one of the first coronavirus deaths in New York. My heart ached for
was in the same boat as the
loved ones for the
victims of homicides I’d investigated..."
The investigator Harper has hired, Jon Frederick,
has a firm knowledge
of professional boundaries that doesn't temper either his empathy or
of politically correct approaches to relationships and female clients: "It
bothered me that there were so many books about adult women, Girl on
Gone Girl, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, etc. that referred to women as
never used girlfriend or boyfriend when discussing adult relationships.
was with the BCA, and an offender would talk about his girlfriend, I
respond, 'Isn’t it illegal for you to date girls?'”
As the story unfolds, Frank F. Weber labels his
chapters with each
character's name (the point of view changes to embrace multiple
and the timeline of events. This provides a clear progression as
a changing investigative milieu and revelations that move through a
replete with COVID restrictions and the Minneapolis riots of 2020.
These contemporary backdrops root these events in a
sense of place and
purpose that embraces not just past lives, but present-day challenges.
Harper faces her own mortality at the hands of sex
“Zig” Ziegler as she and Jon face a case that strains their concept of
evil and their ability to survive. Readers will enjoy a compelling set
insights that weave ethical and philosophical inspections into the
that each character confronts.
Jon is a family man who also
navigates his relationship with his wife
and evolving duties as a father to their baby. This adds a personal
to the crime story, which is also a delightful feature.
Bridges is a detective story that
will neatly move
beyond the mystery shelf to attract readers who want contemporary
of social dilemmas, crime, and, ultimately, the choices everyone faces
to draw the line: "We are left to our own accord to determine
we are going to be, which makes expressions of gratitude and grace even
amazing! We choose to express heartfelt kindness and love, despite our
and that makes it so much better."
Return to Index
Fans of police detective
Kate Barnes who found her a
riveting, effective problem-solver in Dark
welcome her return in Dark Obsessions,
which is set in the small
town of Eagle’s Nest, Washington.
Here, Kate navigates worlds
that move from her hard
childhood to adult events that test her abilities. Marie Sutro takes
to succinctly portray this sense of place and past: "In
to being Kate’s mother, Chloe Barnes had also been a corruption of
was a mother who had not given a damn about her two daughters—a mother
prescription drugs had trumped maternal instinct."
Until six weeks ago, Kate
had excelled in her position as
a detective in the San Francisco Police Department's Special Victims
encounters with the Tower Torturer, who exploited Kate's
she finally overcame them to win the dangerous game, has resulted in
of absence from the department to track down the mother who traumatized
Sutro's neat summary of
these events in just a few
paragraphs helps newcomers easily enter Kate's world without prior
with her recent trials, armed with the full knowledge of the
wellsprings of her
past successes and failures.
Obsessions unfolds, readers are
treated to an intriguing story that contrasts Eagle's Nest with San
culture as Kate pursues a murderer and a conundrum: "Eagle’s
isn’t like San Francisco. We are a tight community. People don’t walk
with sticks up their asses here!”
Sutro moves the story from
Kate's perspective to mother
Chloe's, employing a multifaceted approach to expand Kate's experiences
influences. Her attention to creating a fast-paced story is based as
psychological interplays between an estranged mother and daughter as it
is on a
murder whodunit. This creates a vivid scenario that demands Kate more
examine circumstances she'd spent years purposely avoiding.
From Washington's rugged
natural beauty to the
"necessary killings" that emerge from it, readers receive a heartfelt
exploration that juxtaposes detective work with criminal activities
an entire community to confront serious truths.
The result is a gripping
thriller that rests firmly on
both psychological and social examination. Dark
delight both prior fans and newcomers to Kate, adding depth to her
and responses to crime with a powerful story of heroism and new choices.
Mystery and thriller fans
are in for a real treat.
Return to Index
Kindle B09PSN4KJ1 Price: $5.99
Print editions to follow
the wrong relationship choices and followed the wrong dreams. Now he
meet as a concierge for a vacation rental outfit in Palm Springs. Jazz
is an ex-cop whose career was challenged not just by racism, but by her
addiction. Now she's honing her skills in a new career, as a private
over. The last thing they need is each other. For one thing, they are
opposites in race, sexual orientation, and temperament. What they do share is a new beginning and new
aspirations...and being misfits who aren't yet in solid positions in
common goal when circumstances draw them together over the puzzling
the director of a local art museum. Motivated by their jobs and special
interests to become involved in the investigation that follows, Jazz
find their clashing lives at odds even as their objectives dovetail in
mystery genre read, the investigation often is the major draw of the
story. In Desert Getaway, it's the
relationship between these two investigators which drive the action and
This makes for a psychologically astute inspection that will especially
readers who want their stories motivated by emotion and stimulus beyond
and victim relationships.
ability to inject humor into the intrigue provides comic relief at
moments as each character employs their typical modus operandi to
possibilities, often injecting snarky observations of each other into
process: "When I switched on my
computer, I spotted an email from Jazz, which was unusual, as she
prefer phoning. Opening it, I found that she had sent me an enlarged
grab from the video of the presumed hit man who had apparently drowned
naughty pool boy, indeed. Jazz wrote, “Arcie says this was digitally
Still looks like crap. Call me.” When she answered my call, she said,
were you all day?” “Working.”
“Banging another client?” She broke into a belly laugh. “Now, don’t you start. I’ve been taking care of
business. And you?”
As the first-person narrative traverses the possibilities of money laundering, real estate and banking deals, and the lives of various staff members of M3A who attended the pool party (including Hannah, the soft-spoken wife of CFO Howard Quince), the intrigue strengthens with too many suspects, secrets, and possible motives for murder.
challenged at many crossroads by not just the characters they interview
consider, but each another and their disparate viewpoints.
personalities and perspectives to life in a murder mystery which
underside of Palm Springs life and its art world, bringing into
possibility of justice for the victims and a friendship which evolves
seemingly dissimilar roots.
interested in the interactions and shared objectives of a misfit team
draw together the threads of many special interests to uncover the
find Desert Getaway a compelling
through fiascos, fairy-tale lives, and organized crime.
Return to Index
The Family Curse
Derek and Tyronza Waithe
J. Kenkade Publishing
is a study in what happens when a family curse affects family
relationships. It's also a study in streetwise affairs and revenge as
head of the Johnson crime family, embarks on retaliation after his wife
are shot by (he presumes) his long-time rival.
Cousin Shannon Johnson is
also caught in the crossfire in
a different way as Jake proceeds down a dark path that only reinforces
family curse and brings further trouble to them all.
Derek and Tyronza Waithe
embed their story with
streetwise observations and encounters that move from inner family
the world which surrounds and cements the notion of a family curse.
The dialogue is rich in this
crime culture and family
affairs and reinforces the family's movements through their community
lives: "They just lied to our
faces." Ruby nodded in agreement. "I don't know what's going on Sis,
but the devil is a lie. He is trying to tear our boys apart. I can feel
my spirit. So, we're going to the Chapel, put on our spiritual armor,
and agree according to the word of God, and bind this devil."
As Jake faces
earth-shattering revelations about those he
loves and has chosen to trust, Shannon steps up as a force who operates
effectively in the center of gangster and family angst alike.
Jake's ability to receive
the truth about not only his
enemies but his family and friends, as well as the presence of God
operates as a backdrop of influence on the evolving situation), makes
gripping story that will especially appeal to readers of urban fiction
a real-world, streetwise, church backdrop to a tale of curses, evil,
The Black Lives Matter
Movement adds thought-provoking
passages about belief systems and violence as Jake struggles with the
rival Tone may not be the cause of all this pain and sorrow.
The Waithes create a strong
story firmly embedded in the
culture and experiences of the Black community with a crime story that
considers different personalities and their struggles.
The result is a study in war
and peace played out on both
the streets of competing gangs and in their inner circles, where
faith, and love are tested by uncertainty.
Readers seeking a crime
story that departs from the usual
white bias and experience will welcome The
Family Curse's ability to depict a different crime family's
is especially recommended for library collections strong in urban
Return to Index
Gambling With Murder
Level Best Books
The fifth book in the
Southern California Mystery series, Gambling With Murder, will especially appeal to mystery fans who
enjoyed entertainment attorney Corrie
Locke's previous stories and their Southern California setting. But it
also reach those who have little prior familiarity with either, who
just want a
her latest escapade, PI Corrie goes undercover to locate a missing
senior citizen who has vanished from a wealthy community.
the community and her investigative choices are somewhat
unorthodox and add an unexpected sense of wry humor to many of her
endeavors: “Ninja One, see anything yet?”
Bankhead’s voice sputtered through the walkie-talkie cinched onto my
Dressing up like ninjas had been Veera’s idea. To help us blend into
We wore matching black tunics over black slacks. The hood hid my long
facemask rendered me incognito. Only the slit across my eyes kept me
tripping. Veera was posted in the parking lot outside to discourage
visitors. “Looks like a hoarder’s paradise.” I stepped over a pile of
insights about gambling and investigative information provide
delightful interplays between characters and revelations about their
to gambling, life, and each another:
“Dom baked his dice in the oven long enough to melt a small portion down to weigh them in his favor.”
Veera sucked in her breath. “That legal?”
“If you’re playing for fun, it is. Other players will get mad if they discover it, but that’s a big if.” Seniors wouldn’t be paying close attention, so he probably got away with it. “Playing for money could get dicey, pardon the pun, if he got outted.”
Veera passed the dice to me. “I figured weighing a little more or less wouldn’t matter. See what you do? You make me think about stuff I’d never think about. You’re making me productive. How come nobody figured out what Dom was doing?”
need not have any familiarity with gambling in order to enjoy
the nuances of this story, as it unfolds. Corrie's discoveries about
the art of
gambling and the crime surrounding a senior community present
and unexpected revelations that keep readers guessing.
humor replete throughout this story provides a satisfying backdrop
as characters interact over everything from a bombing threat to
defy Corrie's inherent pacifist tendencies.
Lida Sideris's fast-paced series of encounters
challenge her characters
on more than one level. This is a story of gambling, redemption, and
murder that not only challenges her protagonist's life, but those she
Readers who enjoy murder mysteries steeped in both
threats and wry
observations will find Gambling With
Murder a winning pick that's also steeped in Southern
and the dilemmas a senior community faces when they try to effect a
that tests their loyalties and ethics.
Murder mystery libraries will find this
multifaceted story a fine
Return to Index
David E. Feldman
A Gathering Storm is the second book in
David E. Feldman's Dora
Ellison mystery series. Dora is enrolled in the police academy, but is
struggling with her experience, independent spirit, and the rigors of
instructional approach that would place her efforts and problem-solving
a routine police procedural box.
solving a local corruption case isn't helping her present milieu as a
who is supposed to be subservient to more experienced instructors. It
doesn't help that Dora is pulled into yet another mystery when Jesse
the brother of a city council member, vanishes hours after a family
and is murdered.
probe into the murder brings her in conflict with police department
procedures, she finds herself navigating a fine line between her
and standard operating procedures.
is the fact that the victim's brother-in-law Rudy may hold a clue to
that he doesn't even know he possesses.
writes a fine mystery that revolves as much around family relationships
personal and professional clashes as it does on a murder puzzle that
Dora on many different levels.
romance, too many possible perps, and Jesse's own life, which also
holds clues about
what really happened. Developing all these threads in one mystery
dance between subplots and character-building—one that Feldman deftly
as he leads readers to question not only Dora's modus operandi, but the
victim's relationships and choices.
reject Dora's abilities and consider her protests "backtalk" to
Dora's penchant for refusing to give up when the going gets tough,
be immersed both in her personal revelations and trials and the
conundrums she faces in pursuing the truth against all odds.
Murder mystery readers interested in a full-flavored story that embraces not just a whodunit but the evolving trends of Dora's life will find A Gathering Storm both a worthy compliment to its predecessor and an excellent stand-alone read.
pursuit of her
life purpose and passion is a draw that will attract beyond the usual
audience, as well: "She loved police
work. She loved solving crimes. In a way, she had always known that.
puzzles that manifested in real life, and she loved delivering justice
was needed. Where she was
Return to Index
A Life with
DX Varos Publishing
978-1-955065-25-2 $18.95 Paperback/ $4.99 ebook
A Life with Beasts presents a paranormal
mystery revolving around
Fawn Malero, whose magician father heads the supernatural community in
Fawn and her brothers were supposed to help in its management, but
largely ignoring her duties...until dead cats begin appearing, along
responsibilities to her father, the community, and herself assume new
importance as she's faced with a mystery and threat that resonates with
strong bond with animals and her goal to become a vet.
As a liaison
human and supernatural species, her father has served the community
never saw herself quite in his position before, but circumstances both
supernatural and human draw her to do so as new developments challenge
change her uncertain relationship with Logan and other supernatural
an excellent job of blending supernatural and mystery elements,
facets with the strong personality of Fawn, who finds herself buffeted
forces that attract her in different ways.
moments of comic relief, as when powerful werewolf Logan confesses to a
flying in a plane.
didn't know her boyfriend as well as she'd thought. Nor does she really
Logan. The processes of discovering truths about both lead Fawn to
own ideas about friendship, romance, and what lies between the two: "If it was both what made me thrive and
die, then could it also be tangled into what I thought of as attraction
A Life with Beasts is a story of intrigue
and attraction that is
especially recommended for mystery readers who enjoy more than a light
paranormal encounters and a touch of romance.
strong in any of these genres will find A
Life with Beasts exceptional because it takes the time to
community and world of a circle of supernatural beings living alongside
following the investigations and revelations of a woman who
seeks a new direction in her life even as she's forced to reconsider
possibilities she'd once rejected.
Return to Index
provides another Dr. Lily Robinson thriller to delight
both prior readers of her medical and political exploits and newcomers.
to the original short story collection, Lily Robinson
and the Art
of Secret Poisoning, as well as the novels The Queen of All Poisons and The
Power of Poison, and will especially attract prior fans of
these stories as
Dr. Lily faces yet another crossroads and choices that will change the
trajectory of her life and vocation.
opens with Beibut Khan,
President of the Republic
of Jokovikstan, who is comfortably ensconced in front of a home fire,
weighty economics book, when he begins to feel ill.
away, in Boston, toxicologist
Dr. Lily Robinson
reflects on the purpose and price of her vocation, which has been taken
government special interests: "I’ve
spent much of my life taking care of patients as a physician and taught
generation of medical students. But it was this very expertise in
that captured the attention of our government. They seduced me and then
orchestrated a transformation from consultant to assassin."
transformation has led to closing
her eyes on the
Hippocratic Oath, using her expertise in poison to assassinate
threats to the world.
the good doctor's
receive a fine recap of past events in Chapter 2, which sets the stage
latest confrontation. Here, Lily faces the intersection of truth and
(as do Adrienne and medical student Rose Moreau, Lily's birth daughter
Adrienne's adopted daughter) as the truth unfolds about Adrienne's
daughter Bella and how Rose wound up adopted.
does a fine job of weaving
imagery into powerful
passages that capture Lily's life and perspective: "I
lost my memory, and my little girl, and didn’t find out she was
alive until recently. Nature has a way to fool your brain when the
add up, and you only see a fraction of life, like seeing the world
prism. All the spectrum’s bright colors dazzle you; maybe you only
focus on one
particular wavelength and therefore miss the fact that together, the
form a single beam of white light illuminating a path forward."
Popov (nee Bella) is
captured by the Russians and
finds her world transformed yet again, Lily, Rose, and Adrienne are all
into a struggle involving a Russian poison plot when
made between the deaths of a U.S. Senator and the President of
in the previous novels, the action takes place around the globe (here,
primarily in Boston, D.C. and the fictitious Jokovikstan).
onslaught of life-changing
events, can her
romance with lover JP survive? Adding a romantic component to the
creates a satisfying connection between personal and political
the story evolves.
fast-paced action juxtaposes
nicely with the personal
dilemmas Lily faces as she uncovers a new plot that forces her to
her talents and place in the world.
Rose, Bella, and JP are all
whose influences and lives are also explored during the course of a
traverses international plots and personal confrontations alike.
enjoy medical thrillers
will find that A Message in Poison
holds more political
suspense than the usual medical-world-based story, but adds satisfying
interpersonal dilemmas to bring these events to life.
is another engrossing tale
that is highly
recommended for political thriller readers. A
Message in Poison ends with the promise of more stories to
neatly resolving Lily Robinson's latest predicament.
Return to Index
Not Your Child will please suspense story readers looking for
tales about children
who represent the heart of conflict.
opens the story with the aftermath of a head-on collision. The vehicle,
in a snow bank with two dead people inside, sports an empty baby car
back, while the remains of footprints tell investigators that someone
the scene before they arrived.
introduces another conundrum: Daniel, a sixty-three-year-old man, is
by a young stranger who looks like the spitting image of his daughter
Could this girl be his lost Hannah, who vanished all those years ago?
follows his obsession with Maddy and Ottawa and psychologist and single mother Susan
Koss deals with the
threat to her daughter, this story's progression seems evident.
Susan faces her worst nightmare as Daniel awaits DNA test results that
prove his suspicions are correct, only to find the results mercurial.
doesn't need proof to know what his heart feels about the missing
to Maddy. Or, does he?
pursues their dreams and nightmares, readers receive a tense story of
and obsession from portrayed two different perspectives.
beyond depicting a desperate search for the truth, investigating the
the quest on all involved: "She was carrying on as if nothing
changed—and for her it hadn’t. But for him, everything was different.
he’d taken her love of drawing as something she’d gotten from Kelly.
knew he’d been fooling himself."
events that move beyond black and white depictions of victims and perps
examine the gray area in which no singular character is completely
into deeper waters by investigating how family ties, unresolved
unexplained events lead to overwhelming realizations that affect
DNA testing on an unsuspecting child; of kidnapping, confusion, and
of seemingly good people turned dangerous in the eyes of a young girl
a tense story that moves through different lives and generations.
Not Your Child embraces issues of ownership and questions about
truth. It's a
hard-hitting thriller that will keep readers engrossed to the end,
unexpected twists and turns to provide delightfully intricate
motive and reality, and deserves a place in any collection where
stories and tales of abduction and family ties are popular.
Return to Index
A Trail of Vengeance
ASIN: B09PKGVNDN $4.99 ebook
do you think
you’ll be when you die?”
Vengeance opens with a discussion between high school
embark on a conversation about last wishes. These come frightening,
true when Ben dies in what appears to be an accident.
Or, is it murder? And why
did Beth's friend Shannon
vanish in the midst of this event?
Fast forward seventeen
years, when Shannon returns with a
new name, identity, and a thirst for revenge which results in more
The atmospheric South
Carolina Low Country is a backdrop
for these events as Beth uncovers new truths about not just the past,
husband Jake. She comes to realize that her choices and relationships
of a complex situation of ongoing deception and angst.
Marvin Levine not only
places his characters in solid
scenarios of intrigue and discovery, but takes the time to describe the
Country culture and build the psychological profiles of Beth and
around her: "Beth drifted off and
wondered what exactly comfort was — did she ever really have it? Could
find it again?"
These moments create a
strong mystery that evolves on
both a personal and an intrigue level to grab reader interest, weaving
of revenge into that of a woman struggling to maintain equilibrium
overcoming past crises.
As her lifelong relationship
with Shannon McKay is
revealed, readers come to realize that Beth's involvement in this
game embraces a traumatic association with an evil that emerges from
to affect everyday affairs.
Readers who embark on Beth's
journey towards realization
and redemption will find much to enjoy about her processes of
her analysis of her marriage to Jake to her growing understanding of
special form of malevolence that Shannon represents.
The result is an engaging
story of love and monsters that
unfolds many surprising twists and turns before Beth's shaken world
itself in a satisfyingly definitive conclusion.
Mystery libraries and those
appealing to women's fiction
readers will find A Trail of Vengeance
spins a fine yarn not just of vengeance, but evolving truths and
interpretations of them.
Return to Index
The Trouble with Murder
Vanessa A. Ryan
DX Varos Publishing
978-1-955065-21-4 $18.95 Paper/$4.95 ebook
How does a slim woman
decapitate a large, barrel-chested
man? In The Trouble with Murder,
Hetty Carson is being accused of killing Gerry Delaney. She didn't do
the cops think that she did.
Hetty is a part-time private
investigator when she's not
working as an account manager. This professional role is about to serve
well as she tries to juggle a sales route while assembling evidence to
Vanessa A. Ryan takes the
time to not only explore the
crime and its evolution, but Hetty's personality as she interacts with
environment: "For the first time in
a while, I felt peaceful and safe. Although I wished I could live on a
like this, I didn’t feel envy or sorry for myself. Maybe it was because
knew me here, or because I realized I didn’t gain anything from
self-pity. I just enjoyed the moment."
As she faces shooters,
accidents, and choices she neither
thought of nor wanted, Hetty finds herself accused of interfering with
investigation even as she draws closer to a strange truth. The effort
living her life without getting shot at, mugged, or involved in a
to be linked to solving a crime she had nothing to do with.
As she considers Officer Ed
Malone's dubious connections
and a scheme designed to make her believe that the bad guy is the good
Hetty is challenged both by her desire to run away and the consequences
Ryan's story takes many
unexpected turns as Hetty follows
the clues into a trap. As she purposely places herself in danger,
receive a surprise outcome that culminates in a terrible shock that
ability to stay focused in the midst of a traumatic encounter.
Forced to save her own life
through her investigations,
Hetty finds herself facing several conundrums that test her skills and
If this first book in a
Hetty Carson series is any
indication, murder mystery and detective fiction readers are in for an
treat. Hetty is both proactive and reactive as she considers who she
with her life and who is telling the truth.
Readers will find The
Trouble with Murder a compelling exercise in reason and
considers how a series of increasingly close brushes with death give
strength to survive.
Return to Index
Wolfpack Publishing, LLC
features an unusual format: it's a Western story set in modern times
focusing on a family's struggle to save their ranch.
modern setting, the Western story features contemporary social
appear alongside horses, cowboys, and ranches: "Trey
Stuart’s hands were on the leather covered steering wheel of his
nimble and dangerously fast black Maserati 650 GT coupe as the pump
the New Mexico San Juan Basin’s natural gas field flew by on Highway
The Ferrari engine’s three hundred and ninety horsepower V-8 Atom motor
shot the 650 GT to a 130 miles per hour."
Western novel environments, "...life was in balance in the
empty western United States. Freedom still flowed like a raging river
forever-blue sky, which was still punctuated with snow-capped
At stake is
a family heritage. Also on edge is the survival of Native American
the legacy of white settler achievements, evolving threats between
and rival cartel drug gangs as the bullets fly in rural New Mexico.
history to modern-day rehab and rebellions, the contrasting milieus of
and Native American worlds and the special interests of different
operating within these cultures come to life against a Western
others Western incorporate this feeling and these nuances of past and
particularly adept at capturing the social and political contrasts and
conflicts between different people who all have visions of what
freedom, and achievement could look like in the West. Equally appealing
contrasts between characters as Trey faces the equally appealing Maria
("M"), a formidable force in her own right who drives a restored
Shelby Mustang, drag races, and rides fast horses.
Tatum also builds intrigue over the possibilities
of secret colonial
Spanish gold mines, fosters a romance, and acknowledges cultural
many white boys play with pretty Apache girls and disappear once a
result may be billed a Western, but to view Adobe
a traditional story of the past
would be to do it a disservice. It's both a contemporary examination of
roots and results of long-standing cultural attitudes and interactions
story of love, struggle, and intrigue as modern-day issues in New
Colorado come to life.
Daze is recommended for libraries
contemporary cultural stories of struggle, Native American experience,
Western fiction. Ideally, it will also be chosen by book reader groups
look for contemporary stories that redefine the Western genre.
Return to Index
Faust is a novel about evil's
modern times. It incorporates the influences of heaven and hell's
over human decision-making processes, and tells of an entrepreneur
for cash to foster his world-changing technology leads him to intercede
relationship between a beautiful, hapless woman and nefarious demon
As James enters a place that was abandoned
and burned years ago (but rebuilt to house this strange couple), he
into a relationship that evolves into a three-way dilemma.
Rick Brown moves history back and forth
through time as events unfold. Readers move from
a cocktail party in Henry Miller's Cabin in the year 2000, where we
meet the protagonist James Harris, to Hearst Castle, where James meets
mysterious investor known as the Chairman. Then to World
War I on
the Italian Front, where German Baron Memphis von Topheles and demon/soldier Lawrence P.
Worthington confront one
another. The Baron informs Lawrence
that he is a "darker version of The Wizard of Oz" as they debate the
spoils of a war between good and evil which includes wealth, love,
In modern times and circumstances, the heroine
of the story, Sharon Peters, a suburban
housewife in Connecticut, innocently attends a party with Lawrence at Club
Heaven and Hell in
Greenwhich Village only to wake up and find herself living on a Country
under the thumb of Lawrence, where she faces
unpredictable changes as she involves James
in her dilemmas
on many different levels. Through their
ordeal in a timeless world, readers receive
a close inspection of sins and redemption and good and evil as James, with the aid of a wise 'spirit of
the statue', navigates and questions his motives
in an effort to
overcome greed, hate, and the Devil's influence on their lives.
Will James live—and how will he live? Is his
idea that "God is not enough. I must rely on the devil’s advice too"
really a suitable way of juggling life? Is a partnership with the devil
issue of control, or an opportunity for salvation?
As readers move back and forth through
times, perceptions, and conclusions of Worthy and James, they receive a
thought-provoking story that takes the classic Faust tale to another
Filled with engrossing interplays between
past and present, the devil, and a soulful spirit, American
juxtaposes literary allusion with modern-day inspections, weaving
reality into a layering of events that keep readers not just engrossed,
While general-interest audiences will be the
likely readers of American Faust, it's especially
literary students of the classic story, who will find this modern take
intriguing perspective. Classes who study Faust's dilemmas and choices
want to include American Faust in their debates.
Return to Index
the heart of Baseball
Immortal lies a dilemma which sports fans have
long debated: How
would an immortal superstar from the past perform in today's game?
Colton's novel answers that question . . . or does it? Is the
awakens in a present-day Georgian hospital, after suffering a nearly
hit-and-run accident, truly the legendary Ty Cobb (who has been
thrust forward in time), or is he a man suffering from a severe
delusions of grandeur, who has hijacked Cobb's identity as his
presents compelling, moment-by-moment replays of baseball's past and
blending descriptions of the game's drama with vivid imagery that will
baseball enthusiasts: "Burly catcher
Ed Sweeney crouched in front of home plate, preparing to snare the
sphere surging his way. In the corner of his eye he glimpsed the speedy
cleats plowing up dirt, bracing for the impending collision. Bush went
feet first, just as the ball struck the catcher’s glove. Bush slammed
catcher’s feet as Sweeney shoved the gloved ball into the charging
force from the collision knocked the catcher onto his back, but the
remained lodged in his glove. In triumph, Sweeney raised the ball in
for the third out, an instant before the arbiter thrust both hands out
signaling and shouting “Safe.” The crowd ignited in a deafening roar.
victim claiming to be Ty Cobb awakens in the modern world in a state of
bewilderment and suspicion. Having made enemies during his
wonders if a conspiracy has led to his present predicament as he
Savannah Cain, a sports journalist who rescues him from the hospital
before his commitment to a psych ward. Baseball is Savannah's first
there room for more?
auspices of a historical probe of baseball history melded with the
lays a provocative, unexpected story of baseball history and uncommon
encounters that will delight those who expected just the customy recap
sporting history in novel form.
claims of time-travel experiences, underlying conspiracy theories, and
psychological issues wrought by these unique challenges test the man
believes himself to be Ty Cobb even as Savannah uncovers clues
that he may
actually be Chase Ripley, a supremely-talented college star who
disappeared. But, even more importantly, Colton includes many
self-inspections that consider the emotional impact of sports and life
challenges alike: "All Cobb wanted
to do was leave the room, run away. He had to get as far away from this
suffocating, humiliating world as possible. He couldn’t bear to show
he couldn’t bear to face the media, not after the way he had performed
the past few weeks. He would devote all of his energies to finding his
back. Suddenly his mind seized on an idea—he would contact the
he had encountered on the Jason Coventry talk show–Dr. Sterling. Maybe he could help. After all, there were
apparently others who had experienced a similar time displacement."
creates a story of intrigue surrounding the sport, Baseball
Immortal will attract more than just baseball enthusiasts.
It's a full-bodied tale of strange attractors, challenging scenarios,
struggle for mind and identity that keeps baseball's reality in flux as
struggles for his sanity and Savannah tries to help her friend.
more than a taste of baseball that embraces the trappings of intrigue
growing relationship will find this first book in the series compelling
hard to define. Yes, sports fans will enjoy its baseball details...but
those interested in conspiracies and time-travel stories.
noted that the tale ends in a cliffhanger, readying readers for the
in the trilogy.
Baseball Immortal will prove especially compelling reading
for sports enthusiasts starved for both vivid depictions of the game
engrossing intrigue surrounding it.
Return to Index
Blood in the Low Country
$28.99 Hardcover/$18.99 Paper/$8.49 Kindle
in the Low
Country captures the Low Country atmosphere of South Carolina
faced by a successful middle-aged man, Monty Atkins, when everything
changes in his life.
Murder and betrayal affect
time-honored traditions such
as dinner at the Atkins house, with its family routines of food and
interpersonal interactions, even reaching into his successful business
threaten everything he's built and the foundations of these
The messages of perseverance
that used to work so well in
the past now are stymied by Monty's exhaustion ("Don’t
let your hard work go to waste. Don’t lie down.”) This
tiredness stems as much from his battles with himself as in the outside
influences that have changed his life's trajectory: "Monty,
on the other hand, was struggling in part because he
couldn’t define what ailed him. His battle was with himself."
Even his faith in God is
rocked. As Paul Attaway carries
readers through the life-changing series of events that lead Monty to
everything he's ever done, a fine mystery unfolds that is steeped in
traditions and religious perceptions. The thriller thus hits hard, on
As he pursues a real killer
and reopens a case that turns
into a can of worms, Monty discovers new purpose and approaches to life
in turn, further challenge and change his perceptions.
Part of why Blood
in the Low Country works so well is because it's steeped in a
community and place as it reveals the psyche of a hard worker who has
life cementing perceptions that are all called into question at once.
Many satisfying twists and
turns emerge from the story as
a young man is accused of murder and the press and FBI become involved.
is adept at placing Monty's life and evolving concerns within the wider
of a community rocked by a series of unpredictable events as Monty's
family dysfunction and attitudes affect everyone around him.
Readers who choose Blood
in the Low Country for its mystery and intrigue will be
delighted to find that it's equally well rooted in these insights on
dynamics, and will find the psychological interactions between
involving and compellingly depicted.
Library collections strong
in tales of intrigue that are
firmly rooted in a sense of place, Southern culture, faith, and
find all these elements and more as the characters and situations in Blood in the Low Country are brought to
Return to Index
Deep Bonds features a child's
kidnapping and a
father's determination to rescue his son. It will appeal to readers of Girl
Missing and other
fictional accounts of vanished children and efforts to find them.
A father's conviction in both his ability to find
his son and in the
Spirit who guides him in this endeavor forms the foundation for his
pursuit, fueling a journey that many around him try to discourage.
B.G. Arnold creates a fine interplay between past
present-day events, and a father's entanglements of faith and
he attempts to find the truth about his twelve-year-old son's
The truth is stranger than a simple abduction as
the wealthy kidnapper
adopts the boy as his son and teaches him sensual and scientific
life and the world around him...teachings that his real father may not
to undo, even if he does find him.
The roots of Bone Deep Bonds
lie deep in a story about family
relationships, anxiety, faith, and recovery as son Brian navigates his
and learns very different lessons about the world.
The story also delves into what happens when Brian
reality of his capture and experience: "No, he just couldn’t
of it all. It was like that artist’s school Phillip had taught him
that explained it. He was caught in the middle of a surreal picture
being painted around him. None of this was really happening."
Deep Bonds is as much a story
about the psychology of
abuse as it is a novel about a father and son relationship threatened
that introduce different values to each.
While it's a gripping tale that will be chosen by
readers of detective
fiction, it would be a shame to limit Bone Deep Bonds
to this audience
alone. Thriller readers as well as those interested in evolving
and outside threats will find its psychological revelations both
Libraries interested in adding books that are a
draw both for their
intrigue and their psychological evolution will find Bone
Deep Bonds a
Return to Index
Church and School Days
Charlie Green (originally authored by his father, Clifton Bullock)
Mountain Arbor Press, an Imprint of BookLogix
978-1-63183-661-9 $12.95 paperback, $6.95 eBook
and School Days continues to
publish the fiction of Clifton
Bullock (Charlie Green's father), who wrote this story of a young
coming of age in the '60s and adulthood in the 1970s.
Clifton's story follows a youngster's movement
through community and
family influences as he grows from childhood to adulthood to absorb
cultural shifts, and challenges unique to his community and the times.
Clifton Bullock excels in crafting first-person
capture this young man's sentiments and passion. Even the language
this culture; not being the precise grammatical rhythms of literature,
fully embracing the lingo of the streets: "I began learning
before I knew what learning was. If I wasn’t picking it from Momma or
oldest brother Junior or sister Geraldine or my young brother, a year
Raymond, was teaching me one thing or another. Then there was much I
while roaming the streets. My keen observation of all that was
me, families who had plenty of everything and families who struggled
day through the next, like mine. How language varied from the homes
harmony, into the streets where vulgar ruled. Home and the streets were
different worlds. One of love, peace, and concern, and the streets, a
and one nightmares. Entrapping us all, closing every door of escape.
would be years later for me to learn how I got trapped, and how slim my
of ever escaping would be. Yet I will never stop trying."
As the boy grows to be a "strong man" and grows
roles, values, and opportunities, readers will find themselves immersed
church, family life, and culture which captures the logic, obstacles,
success stories of a different era.
Bullock's writing is astute and realistic, and is
especially strong in
using dialogue which is powerful and true to its culture: “Oh,
stomach ’bout to bust open,” I said out loud.
“Nigger, ain’t nobody force you to eat all that chicken.”
“Yeah, you right. Since you was so nice about going to get it, why don’t you go out there and find two young call girls and bring ’em back.”
As readers move through this life, they will come
to realize that
gangster and street action aren't the story's only focus. It's equally
depicting the treacherous choices that buffet the protagonist, both
character and luring him with dubious opportunities—some of which could
Its ability to capture the social influences of a
community which lead
a young man to form new goals and values in his life makes for a
thought-provoking read which will reach out to those interested in
fiction. This story of a life's progression also offers a surprise
one does not see coming at the beginning of this experience.
Readers of urban fiction, whether they be mature
teens or adults, will
find Church and School Days a powerful reflection
on Black culture and
influences which come from a variety of directions.
Return to Index
Lystra Books & Literary Services, LLC
978-1-7363055-8-4 $18.95 Paper/$1.99 ebook
Followers of historical
intrigue fiction will find Deadly Declarations
just the ticket,
with its a blend of mystery and history revolving around a retirement
resident's missing study about the Mecklenburg Declaration of
The colonial mystery lies at
the heart of both a will
that's being contested in court and a legacy that involves a truth that
been hidden for decades.
Landis Wade opens with an
Author's Note that clarifies
the historical facts and controversy surrounding this document ("If the Meck Dec did exist, who copied from
whom?"), reviewing its history in a satisfying manner. This
John Adams’ Letter to Thomas Jefferson
in 1819 and continues to probe modern-day retirement living in an
situation that intersects the lives of historical conspiracy enthusiast
Yeager Alexander and banished trial lawyer Craig Travail (among others).
Readers who wonder at the relevance of history to modern-day life will find the connections between the two are prominent and involving as Deadly Declarations evolves.
Wade creates both a cast of
characters who interact with
and view the mystery from very different perspectives and a historical
that demonstrates how past decisions have lasting impacts on the future.
As Travail finds himself
being used as 'live bait' and
tackles the mystery of a handwritten will which suddenly disinherits a
granddaughter in favor of a widely-hated retirement community resident,
Deadly Declarations creates a
cat-and-mouse game that is delightfully unpredictable.
With so many subplots and
characters involved, readers
might expect this story will be complex and demanding. Not so. Deadly Declarations is a fine example of
how historical precedents can neatly weave into modern times to create
dilemma that is captivatingly contemporary.
is interlaced with a dash of humor and strong
psychological profiles and inspections which make for a compelling read
Deadly Declarations is highly
recommended for readers of historical fiction, who will find the
component of added value; and for fans of legal fiction and intrigue,
find the history surprisingly relevant and involving.
Return to Index
Discontent of Mary Wenger
Tell-Tale Publishing Group, LLC
978-1952020193 $35.00 Hardcover/$4.95 Kindle
Mary Wenger is a work of historical fiction that follows Mary
pursuit of happiness in becoming a middle-class housewife and mother.
1922 in a Pennsylvania coal-mining town, Mary is living at the cusp of
social changes that will affect her status and opportunities as a
Whether her efforts lie in
feminist ideas or traditional
women's roles, Mary is constantly thwarted and disappointed in her
and their incarnation under a shifting social structure.
discontent, in turn, affects her family as she
strives to reinvent her dreams only to find that her legacy of longing
equal vision and frustration to the next generation.
restless spirit lie in her childhood, and are presented in the opening
the novel: "Since I was a young
girl, I have always believed that death is stalking me. It lurks and
the dark recesses of my mind like a virus waiting to strike and destroy
least expect it."
knows what is best, not only for herself, but for those around her. She
out otherwise as she navigates new territory to find all of her dreams
to the test of time.
Mary Wenger is a work of historical fiction, but it's also a
thought-provoking psychological profile of a daughter of immigrants who
her own new paths in life.
Robert Tucker is especially
adept at employing the first
person to capture Mary's background, perspective, philosophy about
the tumultuous undercurrents of feminism and tradition that buffet her
evolution and her family's structure.
He also is particularly
astute in how he captures Mary's
ideals and reactions to the cultural and social norms of her life: "Other than an occasional hug from my
Dad, I had never been held so closely by a man...The romantic waves of
music washing over us made me wonder if I were falling in love."
Tucker brings to life the
social milieu Mary traverses,
blending historical references with personal observations to bring
entire world to life; not just her emotional forays into it.
family and "makes every effort to support and be involved," Mary
continues to evolve in response to her childhood lessons, her adult
convictions, and the social winds of change that buffet them all.
fictional memoir based on facts that brings to life one woman's ongoing
evolution as America changes.
Mary Wenger's vivid
of the past make it a winning choice for not just historical novel
women's fiction and literature audiences. Groups interested in how
social changes which contrast and sometimes collide with their
moral compass will find it gives much fodder for discussion and debate.
Return to Index
Conspiracy: The Sommelier
Brian James Gage
KDK 12, Inc.
978-0-578-98963-1 $6.99 ebook
Nosferatu Conspiracy: The Sommelier is the second book in
the series, but allows newcomers easy access through a succinct
summary of events in the first book. This neatly sets the stage for the
struggles which evolve here, in a paranormal thriller centered on the Battle of Arras in March of 1917.
Part of the strength of The
Sommelier lies in the flavor of reality it's based on. The
historical events surrounding World War I and the involvement of
nations throughout Europe is expanded upon through a survey of the
activities of Kaiser
Wilhelm II and his pursuit of immortality. In this story, this takes
of a supernatural army of the undead, with an evil demon/Hungarian land
baroness involved in the outcome of events.
Brian James Gage
evolves these tenuous relationships and battle-charged scenarios with
attention to depth and detail as in his previous book.
The prerequisites for
enjoying his unique style and high-octane occult drama include an
historical detail, a cursory familiarity with the backdrop and
World War I, and an ability to appreciate a paranormal battle which
evolves to contrast with "traditional history" and its take on what
happened before and during the conflict.
Vivid aerial battle
scenes with the Red Baron are just one example of how the action drives
story in a compelling manner.
Gage's story is replete
in Hellhorses, hexes, demon's spells, and more. From efforts to raise a
Sun to shine over the realm to an unholy alliance between the creature
Elizabeth has become and Wilhelm's special interests and lusts,
imagery and action keep paranormal history readers thoroughly engaged
Gage takes the time to
craft striking details, both gruesome and graphic. These feel like an
one cannot look away from: "Brodeur
cried out as he felt the blunt pierce of human bites rip into his
and calves—the monsters chewing his muscle clean from the bone with
rotten jaws. “Help, Mother!” were Brodeur’s last words as his face was
into the muck and he began drowning in a puddle of mud. Another bite
the back of his neck and his vision fell to black. Brodeur would
moments later—starving, rabid, and thirsty for human flesh."
The a wide cast of
characters, political interests, power plays, and shifting alliances
the horror reader a prior interest in historical evolution and detail.
focus is richly rewarded by dialogue and twists and turns that readers
Those who enjoy
complexity and lavish detail and descriptions will relish the course
Gage in The Nosferatu Conspiracy: The
The result will, of
course, appeal to its primary audience of occult action horror story
But, it also holds attraction for historical novel readers (even though
history under consideration here has been vastly re-imagined) and
enthusiasts who can accept more than a light touch of paranormal events
Return to Index
War: Louisville to Cumberland
One April After the War: Louisville
to Cumberland follows a
725-mile journey made in April 1870 by young woman Mary Warner
harbors numerous aliases and secrets) and two Secret Service agents
Merritt) who come to realize that their real assignment is not what
trip turns into an arduous three-month journey, Mary and her two
face mystery, threats, and a spate of bad luck that challenges not only
different missions, but their wills to survive.
come to realize that the source of their assignment is difficult to
control as their task spirals out of their control: “What
is ‘off ’ is Miss Warner’s skewed since of propriety and her
complete want of judgment. One day she will say the wrong thing to the
man, and it will cost her more than a mere fine or the inconvenience of
investigation, clues, and clashes between personalities and propriety, One April After the War becomes a
compelling study in not just intrigue, but a feisty woman's ability to
her world and her traveling companions.
especially versed at capturing the dichotomy of this woman as perceived
around her, who find themselves constantly confronting their
perceptions of how
to treat and act around women: "Soon
her eyes will come to rest upon the steep valley ahead of them and then
first bridge will come into sight, and her calm repose will shatter.
thought should have been to shield her from the fear, but he was
find himself seeking to shield himself from the histrionics one could
from such a volatile woman."
is a study
in contrasts and purposes that uses a journey through country and
examine 1800s scenarios and a spate of bad luck that changes each of
It should be
that One April After the War is the
first book in a series, and ends with a cliffhanger. Readers who enjoy
history, mystery, and women's issues that arise in the journey of One April After the War will find Book
II, which moves from Cumberland to Washington, a fine promise of
Return to Index
$45.95 Hardcover/$34.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Pioneers and Refugees: A Danube
Swabian Saga is a historical novel based on true events that
tells of two
very different families motivated to become part of the great Danube
It would seem unlikely that
an orphan boy living with his
uncle in Stuttgart and a family in Kelheim, Bavaria (newly struggling
father's death) would be joined in an effort to not just survive, but
better lives for themselves; but the Danube Swabian trek offers the
allure, and comes at the right time for them all.
Stock imagery provided by
Getty Images pepper this
fictionalized representation of events to add a sense of real history
characters evolve and choose paths designed to keep their ambitions,
and families alive.
Ernst Fischer's story of the
two families whose ancestors
participated in the great migration of the late 1700’s also includes
their descendants who lived in Yugoslavia during the years leading up
Second World War, outlining the impact the trek and war had on their
One of the features that
sets this story apart from many
historical novels based on real events is that Fischer takes the time
include reflections on the personalities and actions of the characters
navigate their changed worlds and positions in it: "Everyone
was polite and respectful of each other’s space and
although some children had a difficult time understanding the concept,
was bothered by it. They understood this trip would be uncomfortable
demanding, but the hope of a better life would be worth the temporary
inconvenience and lack of privacy."
The focus on these shared
experiences and the forces that
drive a disparate group of people both together and, sometimes, apart
a story replete with various forms of survival and social change: "She and two of her friends were on
their way home from school when they walked past the two men going the
way. The two men were talking and laughing when they passed each other.
heard one man say to the other, “Let’s have some fun with these girls”,
turned around and shouted, “Heil Hitler,” Jana paused then continued to
“We all heard him, but we just kept walking on our way. Then the bigger
back to us and said in a nasty voice, “Don’t you know you are required
respond when someone in authority says, “Heil Hitler?”
“We all just looked at each other, Papa. We didn’t say anything at all. The man looked mad, so finally Helga said, “Heil Hitler,” then Marta did too. But I did not say anything. I just kept walking home.”
As adults and children learn
not just how to survive but
how to confront or live with the cruelties that buffet their lives,
receive a powerful saga that winds through changing times, World War II
and the social and military forces that connect Germany and Yugoslavia.
Readers might anticipate
would require prior knowledge of the
history of these times, but Fischer weaves plenty of social and
background facts into his evolving story, so no in-depth familiarity
times is required in order to absorb the events surrounding the Danube
Swabian trek that affected its descendants.
The story's ability to
personalize the experiences of
these characters to bring alive their decision-making processes and
interacting with one another (and their adversaries) creates a winning
that is both educational and engrossing.
Pioneers and Refugees: A Danube
Swabian Saga is highly recommended for historical novel
strong in World War II experiences, and collections that feature
the legacy passed to future generations.
Its strong characters bring
these experiences to life and
the accompanying history becomes not just a collection of dry facts,
vivid, vigorous exploration of survival against all odds.
Return to Index
Randy & Ron
& Cindi & Zeke
Classic Day Publishing
$16.95 Paper/$2.99 ebook
& Cindi & Zeke follows teens who become
involved in a murder
mystery and is set in a 1950s small town where murder is not a normal
the community's experiences.
Randy grew up in San
Francisco and received early lessons
on the importance of honesty. Mostly. In 1953, the family moves to
Oswego, to a
home on a lake. Trouble follows him as circumstance brings Randy and
friends to confront a death which may be either an accident or
Keith Thye creates a
compelling story that will appeal to
mature teens into adult circles. Its coming-of-age saga marries a story
evolving friendship with an investigative piece that features a death
drowning and its impact on various local lives.
As an interconnected trio of
perps considers their
influences on the outcome of the fatal evening and face constant fears
discovery, the teens consider murder motives, foster relationships
another, and find the event haunting their footsteps as time passes and
is definitively resolved.
As the influence of young
Charles Manson evolves, readers
receive a fine fictional story based on Manson's history. The career
the teens' lives forever, his influence reaching into Oswego's culture
their own evolution.
Thye is especially adept at
probing how the unsolved
circumstances of a past death serve as the impetus for all kinds of
the lives of perps, bystanders, and victims alike.
As his story evolves, far
more than the four kids are
profiled in an involving story of one murder that portends others.
The result is a saga that
examines each of the teens'
changing lives and the influence of a single event that changes their
Thye's ability to weave
facts about Manson's involvements
and 'family' into these lives creates a realistic, involving murder
that moves well beyond a singular whodunit and into the foundations of
makes or breaks individuals and social norms.
Those who readily recall
Manson's reign of terror and
activities will find this fictional survey of a night's murder to be
engrossing. Libraries strong in murder mystery and true crime history
will find the fictional representation of Randy
& Ron & Cindi & Zeke
thought-provoking, made all the more
powerful for its connections to the real world.
Return to Index
Sacred Mounds is a historical novel based on the Natchez tribe's
myths and heritage.
It tells of modern-day Lewis Salvador Samuels, who "didn't
demons and other realms. Or homeopathy." That is, until he
into the distant past where all these elements (plus telepaths) are
real to the
Indian whose body he inhabits.
harbors the conviction that "We live our own mythology."
sentiment is about to be proven true in an unexpected twist he never
predicted as he becomes involved in a rescue effort.
moves back and forth in time in a manner that makes for smooth
between characters and past and present events and influences.
Mounds builds the thriller components through suspense and
events that influence Lewis and all those around him, readers venture
paranormal and fantasy realms which remain firmly rooted in action and
events that challenge two very different personalities to adapt to
circumstances and revised lives creates a complex, involving scenario
centers upon chance and a sacred Mound's ability to transpose two
who happen to sleep upon it at the same time.
Lewis and his
counterpart, Natchez Indian Skyfisher, struggle with their alien
bodies, and lives, readers are fully brought into the dilemmas that
experiences as strangers to themselves.
Are they hallucinating? Each must answer these questions as they
different bodies and cultures separated by centuries of time.
social, spiritual, and psychological insights works well with the
mystery and journeys that each undertake. Readers who look for
that drives its characters to reconsider the realities of their world
much to like in Sacred Mounds.
fantasy, historical backgrounds, lives detoured from their main
during a body swap, and the special feel of being a soul in another's
all captured with evocative, compelling language : "They set
first light, Skyfisher's stomach grumbling, Lewis's mind vainly trying
listen to it. In the forest canopy, a wood thrush trilled, their
by the forest growth. Every now and then a twig snap would startle a
sense of place, revised purpose, and impossible circumstances that
life approaches in order to survive, each character demonstrates a
and flexibility that revises their alternate reality and sense of
ability to weave so many elements into an action-packed story is
evident in a
tale which proves hard to put down. It's anchored by both unexpected
turns and the psychological insights on two lives charged with
just their trajectories, but their perceptions of reality itself.
metaphysical adventure firmly cemented in Native American mythology and
will relish the remarkable blends of fiction and nonfiction reflected
Natchez and Native American traditions in Sacred Mounds.
The book is
recommended for fans of Tony Hillerman, Dan Brown, and other fiction
walks the line between metaphysical and real-world experience.
Return to Index
Poison Toe Press
978-0997294187 Paperback $19.95, Kindle $4.69
Savage City is set in 1932 Detroit during
the Great Depression and
tells of political and social unrest that affects and interconnects the
of four characters during a week of labor unrest.
Brown is a Black police officer searching for the killer of a young
Ben Rubin's main ambition in life is to join a notorious gang.
has turned away from her privileged background to enter the fight for
rights. And unemployed worker Roscoe Grissom has a new job, spreading
As the lives
four disparate individuals intersect, Donald Levin creates an
in which various Detroit ethnicities clash and face the rising tides of
change at a low point in America's economic history.
concepts of what is perceived as opportunity to a plot to kill the
the corruption that emerges at various levels to challenge moral,
personal belief systems, Levin outlines a realistic scenario that holds
familiar and new connections to modern times.
relationships are influenced by different challenges, it becomes
these four individuals represent important trends and choices based not
a sense of place, but the influences of their times.
organized crime comes to life in Levin's writing, which succeeds in
personalizing these encounters with characters. At first they seem to
on different playing fields, but their special interests, backgrounds,
experiences eventually form the nexus of a tide of social change that
over them all.
strong in novels about the Depression years, organized crime, labor
Detroit will find the intrigue, relationships, and challenges come to
life in Savage City.
Return to Index
Thing or Two
About the Game
A Thing or Two About the Game is a novel about former executive Brad, who
is charged with coaching a team of girls in softball. This unexpected
been foisted upon him by his ex-wife, who taps him to take her place.
expected to do his ex-wife's boyfriend a favor, and even though he was
successful at coaching boys' hockey, dealing with a team of girls is
not to put together a winning team, but to teach them how to work
how to understand and work with the game's aggressive, competitive
demands...something young girls may not have been taught before.
his team and watches them grow, he begins to struggle with outside
influences, from parents who see winning as being paramount above
behaviors, to coaches who bend the rules and special influencers who
same conundrums he's also faced in the business world.
Brad comes to
realize that growing his team reflects a microcosm of the greater
challenges, he too begins to grow and change along with them, in
A Thing or Two About the Game is about much more than softball, coaching,
or teaching girls to become proactive winners. It's also about a
evolving teaching strategy as he confronts his different players and
struggles they face both on and off the playing field of life.
"Whether we win games or not, let’s
just try to improve and feel good about ourselves. And I’m telling you
matters, because if it doesn’t matter, then pretty soon practice
matter, and then the next batter doesn’t matter, and then the next game
matter, and then Renni and Courtney and Colleen don’t matter and I
and you don’t matter and then what are we all going to do?”
A Thing or Two About the Game also imparts a thing or two about players,
teamwork, individual influence and struggle, and the competing styles
different coaches all charged with creating a winning team.
Its ability to
teach and inspire about life's progression and challenges makes for an
involving book that will appeal to a wide audience, from those who like
of softball and coaching to females who seek tales of growth and
looking for a read that is ultimately about a quest for purpose,
achievement will love A Thing or Two
About the Game.
Return to Index
$26.95 Hardcover/$16.95 Paper/$4.49 ebook
A Wife in Watercolor is set in 1747 and tells of a widowed
mother who decides to accept a practical marriage to wealthy shipping
and slaveowner Robert Morris, Sr. This, despite her observation that
to his slaves. After he brands her, Sarah comes to realize that she'll
likely be just another one of his human possessions.
contrast, is already a slave, with limited opportunities for improving
life. At odds with the master/slave system that imprisons her, Yearie
determined to change the world around her even if it means sacrificing
Yearie, freewoman and slave, find their lives bound by circumstance and
oppression, sharing an increasing camaraderie over mutual values and
objectives, they embark on a journey to challenge and change not just
but the world.
account of pre-Revolutionary America closely examines the roots of not
patriarchy and control, but the efforts of two very different women who
share similar dreams of empowerment and freedom against impossible odds.
the perceptions of these times and characters using language with also
their cultural backgrounds and times. One such example lies in Yearie's
observation: "He set out in dawn’s
shadow, his breath smoke the air. So cold not even a dog bark as he
round Front Street, and the back of the warehouse where the barque be
the water. He load
the furniture. There
be a strong wind and I help him set one sail against it. His barque
like a shot of lightning. Then we wait."
and dialects are presented in many of the other characters, as well: "I started, remembering from whence I’d
been—the outside world of men and hate. 'Eat the food, wear the cloth,
window to breathe the air,' I recite to get their attention. They look
like a donkey vere sitting on my head. 'Stand or fight. Which it going
change, and so labeled chapter headings would have more clearly
these transition points to readers who move between them. That said,
language of the narrators and the story's evolution lend to an
that readers will find enlightening, thought-provoking, and
its backdrop of social and political observations of the times.
in novels about early America, slavery and the roots of civil rights,
women's struggles for identity in a repressive and restrictive
society will find A Wife in Watercolor
a strong study of different women who rise to the occasion.
Maryland women who struggle against both slavery and their own status
the experience of women in 1600 and 1700s America, bringing history to
black and white women confront and loosen their bonds and shackles.
Return to Index
Ethan T. Burroughs
Morgan James Publishing
978-1631956799 $16.95 Paper/$9.49 ebook
sweeping epic scenes in political history novels will find Writ Reveal just the ticket for a
complex, engaging saga that
follows a cat-and-mouse game played out through the Middle East.
adventures are designed not just to entertain (which they do,
to explore and explain the cultures and beliefs that clash in the
This attention to detail lends both Writ
Reveal and protagonist Haley exceptional depth as it embraces
topics as the guiding doctrines of Islam, the influence of white guilt,
conflicts between factions and peoples in the Middle East, and suicide
and fighters: "When he gets to
paradise, there's a piece of him for each of the seventy-two virgins
him. He was the guy who reached for the grenade."
choose Writ Reveal because of its
of intrigue and action centered on terrorism and an unusual treasure
they receive is far more: a study in contrasts that introduces a
adventure through Middle East antiquities, beliefs, and politics.
Reveal, set the stage for all
these events, but it's important to note that no prior familiarity is
in order for newcomers to pick up the baton and run with it, here.
As Haley examines religious chasms in the
area and the wellsprings of their ongoing angst, readers receive an
eye-opening, sweeping epic story that is engrossing, educational, and
The conclusion neatly winds up these events,
but leaves the door well open for the next Clayton Haley adventure.
Libraries strong in novels of intrigue,
Middle East politics and religion, terrorist encounters, and political
will find Writ Reveal
acquisition that promises to attract not only the attention of thriller
audiences, but holds much food for thought that discussion groups will
Return to Index
Art of Fearless Living
Shirin Alavi Goodarzi
"Live a life so that years later you
don't wonder about all the would haves, should haves, and could haves." That's the message Shirin Alavi Goodarzi
both imparts and reflects via this book and her own life, and it's why
interested in the process of self-help and transformation need to
The Art of Fearless Living: A Glimpse into
is both a
memoir and a call to action for women to lead a fearless life. It
spirit of one woman's resilience and determination as she navigates the
obstacles to leading such a life and cultivates a bold leadership style
in a "family of fighters" and transplanted to New York at age
sixteen, Goodarzi grew up to advocate a process of learning, growing,
gratitude that guided her life, and which she embraces to this day.
the vibrant nature of her words is an attention to photos of her life
equally packed with color and enthusiasm. These pair well with
that teach readers how to approach life with hands and hearts wide open
receive its joys: "Magic isn’t
something that just happens—it’s what you create."
portraits of nature juxtaposed by those of her modeling poses are
by insights on love, friendships, mentors, support systems, and advice
to identify and stay true to oneself while moving through life's
acknowledging that feelings and life experiences can be overwhelming,
seeks to cultivate and maintain an upbeat tone throughout her
admonitions: "I’m reminded every day that
doesn’t have to mean an ending but simply a new way to pile on top of
amazing that already exists...Regardless of the experience, the ups and
the little detours and minor pauses, may we learn to always value them
never stop dreaming, transforming, and creating...I can choose to see
systemic discrimination, or I can choose to see what binds us together.
human, I choose to love and to build."
provide memoirs, self-help admonitions, and inspirational daily edicts,
some even include visual representations to encourage positivity.
of all these facets in a book that focuses on juxtaposing supportive
with equally positive thinking makes for a gift that deserves top
any reading list and in any library where personal transformation and
positivity is of special interest.
Return to Index
The Boy Who Loved Boxes
The Weight of Ink
Boy Who Loved
Boxes: A Children's Book for Adults is an inviting picture
book story that
tells of a child who wants order and organization in his life. The
at this point, but its main focus is on when he grows up to become a
loves and employs the same sense of order to his life, using bigger and
boxes to organize his belongings and keep his life together.
The boxes, too, have moved
from physical belongings to
psychological containers of emotions that he uses to neatly file daily
experiences, from faith to family.
The boxes give him a sense
of control...until the
pandemic hits and everything falls apart.
As he empties his boxes and
discovers many broken,
unneeded things have been tucked away, the nameless man struggles to
different kind of box that will work better for him.
Can anything give him a
sense of peace and completion,
with everything falling apart when his previous boxes seem worthless?
Michael Albanese creates a
picture book story that will
especially appeal to adults in pandemic times whose paradigms for
understanding, coping, and love have all been buffeted by the winds of
isolation and change.
While it might have once
been questionable to choose the
picture book format for an adult audience, during these stressful years
people have very short attention spans and limited coping capabilities,
just the ticket for an encouraging, stress-free read.
Its underlying message
offers particularly hopeful
insights during this trying period in history. While it is tailored for
pandemic times, it's easy to see that The
Boy Who Loved Boxes will retain relevancy (and its message)
long after the
world has changed yet again, as it inevitably will.
Libraries should file The
Boy Who Loved Boxes in the adult section, so it isn't lost
among the kids'
books. Readers of graphic novels and those who enjoy psychological
strategies presented in a picture-embellished, lively collection of
concepts will relish The Boy Who Loved
Return to Index
Journey to Success
New Insights Press
978-1-7359344-9-5 $18.95 paper/$9.95 Kindle
Journey to Success explains
fifteen principles involved in focusing the brain for business success
comes from a serial entrepreneur who has employed these strategies to
exceptional financial and personal results.
There are hundreds of business advice books on the market today, but this one adds to the literature in two ways. First, it tells the fascinating personal life story of its author who founded two companies and sold them at tremendous profit and, secondly, the 15 principles Cherry espouses are grounded in actual research linking how the brain functions with our thinking and performance styles. In this way, the book goes beyond the usual business advice to consider the actual brain developmental processes that encourage both creative and strategic thinking, promoting the process of both finding passion from work and tapping that fervor for superior business performance.
formulated, and applied each of these 15 principles to his business
He came from neither privileged roots nor was endowed with the money to
into his entrepreneurial quests. He often alludes to his roots
referring to how he developed the motivation that directed his path to
began setting goals for myself when I was around
eight years old, the time when I crossed over from childhood into an
that my family was pretty damn poor." He went on
to build his
fortune based on a combination of dedicated hard work, savvy analysis,
astute passion, doing the kind of work that he "enjoyed more than
Brain Boost Your Journey to Success contrasts four different thinking styles, based on right- and left-brain research— Conceptor, Knower, Deliberator, and Conciliator. Cherry points out some important rules about using these four thinking styles:
• If you accept how your brain works and its speed of processing, you do not need to make comparisons when you see others thinking differently than you.
• There are no bad thinking styles. No style is smarter or better than another. Each one has its strengths and its advantages.
• People with the
same thinking style may function at different speeds. Learned behavior
as well when you try to think through a challenge or express your
it’s therefore possible for two people with the same thinking style
to appear very different.
Leaders and executives who understand these thinking styles can use them to improve their own leadership skills and create high-performance teams.
This book offers a refreshing approach to a business book, blending solid business advice with life experience, showing how Cherry constructed a powerful set of principles that can guide ambitious executives and entrepreneurs to the same type of success he achieved.
self-help collections will gain by adding Brain Boost Your Journey to Success to
their collections for
fascinating content and personal story of entrepreneurial
Return to Index
Mariam Ala-Rashi, MA
Modern Vaudeville Press
ASIN: B09RQ435FQ $9.99 Kindle
Bodies: Contortionists and Politics in China is
a research study monograph that covers the theories, history, and
of global contortionists. It is highly recommended as a foundation
any collection strong in in-depth circus history and culture.
anthropologist Mariam Ala-Rashi grounds her survey in a world
contortionist history before narrowing the focus to China. She conducts
thorough investigation of the events and influences that have made
contortionism a different form than in the West, creating a backdrop
understanding the cultural and social influences on contortionists who
Scholars who look for the
hallmarks of a well-researched
study receive extensive footnotes and source materials listed in a
which includes studies not just from Western resources, but around the
They will especially
appreciate the critical eye that Ala-Rashi
casts upon other studies: "It should
be mentioned, however, that her publication Chinese
Acrobatics through the Ages offered only a few
references to support her findings. This leads one to the assumption
data presented is based on oral history that was passed on from one
to the next, the same way acrobatic skills were passed on. Nonetheless,
display of artifacts from various tombs of ancient China that she
her literature as material evidence underpin her research."
These comments about other
references enhance a survey
rich in vetted research as it examines the 2,000-year history of
acrobatic theatre's development in light of other acrobatic efforts
world and the studies which surround them.
Scholars interested in the
cultural influences of contortionism
will also appreciate the discussion of what separates the Chinese art
other approaches: "Although the
training sequential for contortion is internationally similar, the
training load, repetition of exercises and choreographies of BJIAS are
unparalleled to other contortion institutions. This is one reason for
international success. The extreme repetition of exercises and
and the aim for perfection is at the heart of Chinese training methods."
The result is a monologue
that is a fitting and
insightful survey essential for any library strong in well-researched
of dance, circus performance, acrobatics, and cultural influences on
Bending Bodies: Contortionists and Politics in China is
designed to be part of a trilogy, its key inquiries
and extensive historical probe lends to its stand-alone acquisition by
library interested in Chinese culture, politics, and various influences
Return to Index
Your Career in SHAPE
Dr. Candace Steele Flippin
Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Get Your Career in SHAPE: A Five-Step Guide
to Achieve the Success You Need, Want, and Deserve should be on the reading list of anyone who
seeks to not just revamp a career, but revitalize it (there is a difference). Dr. Candace Steele
Flippin outlines the road to success in a book that shows how a career
reinvented for optimum success.
no better point in history for making this effort, or for reading this
With COVID forcing many to re-envision their professional futures, the
promoted in Get Your Career in SHAPE
arrives at a time when more people are questioning tried-and-true
directions towards personal and professional success.
framework for making these changes is presented here as an accessible
five interlocking steps that involve saving for the future, working
smarter, getting noticed in the right way, knowing when to stay on
when to make adjustments, and making ongoing education a life pursuit.
introduction notes that "Women’s
careers are held back by cultural norms, gender bias, sexism, and
self-policing. And too often, their self-efficacy—the belief in their
to be successful—is at risk." That's why the SHAPE program is
especially directed to women (even though everyone will benefit from
insights blend with the author's personal experiences and examples from
women, as well, to discuss new steps towards leadership and personal
part of what makes Get Your Career in
SHAPE so accessible: "I am also
fortunate in that at the beginning of my career, my mentor challenged
take risks. I’ve had lots of practice in getting my thoughts past
whispers and speaking up on my point of view. If speaking up or
speaking out is
new or challenging for you, I encourage you to try. Even baby steps
are a path
forward. And if you find yourself in a place where your voice can’t be
consider whether you are in the best place for you—and do something
provided here are also specific, from self-assessment charts that
honesty to keys to help identify what is holding the reader back and
move forward from these barriers.
include 'red, yellow, and green' career zones provide a visual
reference to the
steps involved in moving from self-defeating paradigms to changes that
happening in the employment world are also discussed to encourage women
think about their SHAPE pursuits differently: "...as
workspaces grow increasingly diverse, we see leaders
around the world rethinking how they value employees in terms of
experience. This is great news for people who simply cannot afford the
they have always dreamed of, as well as business owners who need more
ways to stay at the top of their game while meeting their day-to-day
So take heart as you embark on this last, never-ending path of your
program. Your continual education is an investment in your work and your well-being. Be curious and
take advantage of all opportunities you can that will fill you with
Get Your Career in SHAPE is especially highly recommended for women's
issues reading lists, business collections, and book groups discussing
mechanics of personal and professional transformation.
better time in history for the concepts and action points presented in Get Your Career in SHAPE. The business
environment and the world is
changing. Get Your Career in SHAPE
prepares female workers for the next step by showing readers how they
empower themselves, hone new goals, and achieve maximum success.
Return to Index
How to Get Your
Act Together: A Judgement-Free Guide to Diversity and Inclusion for
Felicity Hassan and Suki Sandhu
978–0–241–48521–7 $28.00 Paper/$12.99 Kindle
How to Get Your Act
Together: A Judgement-Free Guide
to Diversity and Inclusion for Straight White Men discusses workplace discrimination and culture for
business managers, providing
a review of diversity issues. Felicity
Hassan and Suki Sandhu maintain that the
white male reader is not just part of the
problem, but part of the solution.
to all levels of business operations, from recruiting inclusively to
identifying underlying bias in all facets of workplace operations and
address a range of workplace diversity perspectives and issues
LBGTQ colleagues, and different generations.
the insights on what discriminatory practices actually look like in the
workplace, backed by sometimes-surprising statistics that pack the
recommendations with real-world facts from authoritative sources.
another topic addressed in this hard-hitting
examination of various forms of workplace diversity conflicts: "Working with colleagues who have religious
us that we are endeavoring to shift behaviors and not beliefs. This
hinges on the overarching theme of ‘Tolerance, Understanding and
Communication’, which can surely benefit everyone in the workplace."
workplace management revolves around identifying problems and choosing
courses for mitigating the conflicts that arise from them. Hassan and
focus on the business leader's responsibility to not just make and
non-discrimination rules, but to "set the tone and lead by example."
provide recommendations on proactive approaches that business leaders
"...embracing religious affiliation
is not as difficult as it first may seem. Your organization should have
of diversity policies to support you. On matters such as dress codes
by religion, including scarves and beards, employers can set certain
long as they can justify them with a clear business case, or a health
safety risk. But this is to err on the side of the reactive. Why not
positive steps to embrace religious affiliation in the first place?"
opportunity. This is perhaps the strongest message in How to Get Your Act Together. By identifying
workplace diversity goals and being proactive in crafting a positive,
culture that welcomes all workers, Hassan and Sandhu present a
positivity that shows how business interests and operations can
with social change and diversity goals.
strong in books about workplace management, as well as psychological
collections that look for leadership books that advocate real-world
outlining common issues and better ways of addressing them, will find How to Get Your Act Together: A
Judgement-Free Guide to Diversity and Inclusion for Straight White Men a study in business
transformation. It only requires an open mind and heart from business
readers who seek to make their workplace better than 'average'.
Return to Index
Dance – the Tale of Andromeda in Six Smashing Movements
Tricia D. Wagner
Little Girl Can
Dance – the Tale of Andromeda in Six
Smashing Movements features young
adults and a literary study in magical realism as it follows the story
little dancer Andromeda, who moves through an extraordinary world of
that adults don't understand.
imagery permeates the tale from the start: "Andromeda lifts
the way it’s done if you’re filthy rich, fingers reeking of dollars,
itself costing a father’s fortune. “These gardens on the Isle of
nothing short of spectacular,” she says faux posh, like Grandmother. The creature Blunder hums
from across a table
clustered with delicacies, tight as the grapes overgrowing
garage; corpulent savories like what they ate at the reveling in
Shakespearean play. There are rare cuts of beef, and flutes of white
cheeses torn, and croissants steaming warm."
creature who "sings like a nightingale” and who "fights the moonlight
to reach her" to the nature of love for another that connects the two
the bonds of siblings, Andromeda makes her way through a place that
her beloved dancing, finding ways to survive on many levels after
losing her family. Her
journey is presented as a series of
adventures that lead her past grief via dance and other evolving
feel and direction of the novella seem to direct it to a young
should not consider this book to be limited to kids alone. Its
original, lovely mechanisms of description place it in an ageless realm
will be enjoyed by all: "A shade crosses inside the dark
window. Andromeda snatches her teacup and cradles it. “Creatures are
to reveling luncheons, you know.” ‘Luncheon,’ another word belonging to
Grandmother. It has the right sort of feel, but it stinks of pimento
cauliflower. Andromeda sips tea and tries to think of a better one."
gives her the strength to endure cruelty and loss, producing some
side-effects: "...the girls, all bright, seem changed. Some
watch her with eyes full of joy. Their stares feel like bridges."
Little Girl Can
Dance is a lovely study in
magic, recovery, and new possibilities. Through
its lyrical and metaphorical visions, readers of all ages move past the
of grief and angst and into new possibilities: "The voice of
headmistress carries power and manages to stop their feet dancing. But
their hearts racing. Not their lungs drawing air that tastes of
their eyes meeting each other and knowing they’ve found a way to
novella is very highly recommended reading for literary readers, fans
magical realism, and those who want a short piece that doesn't just
different world, but immerses readers in visions and observations which
truly unique and amazing.
do a disservice to place Little Girl Can Dance in
the kids' section. It
should ideally be placed on display to attract all ages to its magic.
Return to Index
Karen V. Johnson
Hay House, Inc.
978-1-4019-6344-6 $14.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Using Energy Medicine to Alchemize Grief and Loss is both an
and a study in techniques for employing energy medicine to recover from
and offers a different perspective than most books about grieving.
When Karen V. Johnson's son
died from an overdose of
heroin, she abruptly retired, sold everything she owned, and embarked
two-year journey of self-discovery and travel around the world,
keys to building a more meaningful life after such a devastating loss.
Part of the book discusses
the special form of grief that
comes with losing a child to a heroine overdose (Karen’s son
for the first time with friends at a party. He was the only one that
drug dealer didn’t call 911—instead, he was getting rid of drugs),
rest of the story moves to life after loss and the process of learning
accepting, and employing energy medicine.
Johnson's evaluation of her
past life lead to new
discoveries about possible alternative future paths: "I
needed to change my ways to grow and be resurrected into this
new life. I needed to learn to open up and become available to people.
to become a healer. I wanted to become a teacher."
From how she used a pivotal
month of self-discoveries to
enact these changes to the exact science and approaches used to
world, Living Grieving covers all
aspects of this journey: "The
practice of no time is seeing time as an infinite loop, bending
forward, rather than a straight arrow. It’s a practice of stepping
ordinary time into sacred time, where the future and past reach out to
present events. When we see time as an infinite loop, we learn to look
synchronicities, or the serendipitous occurrence of events, to guide
Death Day/After Death Day—sometimes life seems irrevocably divided into
this and after that. Could I reawaken to excitement and inspiration and
From analyses of
psychological insights from Jung and
others to how Johnson was motivated to develop a course on living with
and became a shaman, inspiring others on similar paths, Living
Grieving offers uplifting insights and solid inspections. It
even includes sixteen exercises to move people through
their journey of grief.
These simple inspections,
cemented by Johnson's own
experiences and perceptions, make for a book highly recommended not
memoir libraries, but any collection strong in self-help, new age
Return to Index
Sweet Lemon Press LLC
978-1737391524 $16.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook
"Eyre or Austen?" There are many choices open to those who
love literature, whether they lie in books or real life.
family stories overlaid with magical realism will find Lost
Coast Literary a fine choice.
strange bequest when she inherits a mansion that comes with strings
(she must edit a manuscript in order to take ownership of the old
located in California's remote lost coast community).
inherit both a house and a task from a relative who was a virtual
Emily's love of literature is tested when she discovers that editing
involves introducing a revised reality to the world. Who wouldn't want
the world a better place?
Lost Coast Literary becomes a study
good intentions gone awry as Emily discovers that her best skill turns
be her worst attribute, changing the small community around her in ways
explores not only these newfound powers, but their effect on Emily as
forced to acknowledge their presence and her role in changing this
already-idyllic part of the world: "My
stomach dropped. An impending sense of doom came over me. My heart
raced in my
chest. I tried to take long and slow breaths, but I couldn’t seem to
lungs with enough air. My breathing felt shallow and forced. This
couldn’t be a
coincidence. Not twice."
that her legacy is far more demanding than she thought as she comes to
her good intentions for meddling, which are placing her in the middle
social and political challenges growing within the community: "If only I had left the forsaken
manuscripts alone, I wouldn’t be in this position."
can an influencer undo bad decisions?
herself pulled deeper and deeper into more conundrums, and readers
involving story of literary passion, community interactions, and her
determination to do the right thing even when facing bad results from
fine job of portraying Emily's immersion in both classic literature
in the community as a whole. The small town comes to life as much as
fantasy elements driving its changes in an engrossing read that
literary foundations and present-day growth alike.
conundrums feel especially realistic because of Alexander's own
with the architecture and communities of California's Lost Coast region.
and story came to Alexander in a dream. That it is brought to vivid
is a tribute to the author's skill at reaching those who love
enjoy viewing it from both a magical realistic perspective and an
literature readers as well as fans of magical realism and California
will find Lost Coast Literary
thoroughly engrossing, uplifting, and unexpectedly delightful.
Return to Index
Readings & Devotionals, Volume 9
C.M.H. Koenig (compiler)
C.M.H. Koenig Books (through IngramSpark)
predecessors, the 9th volume of Old
Testament Readings & Devotionals continues the
approach of linking
daily devotional readings to the accompanying wisdom of three Biblical
commentators: Robert Hawker, Charles H. Spurgeon, and Octavius Winslow.
continues to offer the greatest accessibility by linking, in
order, books of the Bible to spiritual analysis that relates to daily
9th volume is 687 BC to 538 BC, before and after the exile of the
Judah from the southern kingdom. The books covered are 2 Kings, 2
Nahum, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Lamentations, and Psalms.
day are presented in italics and are from the Christian Standard Bible,
scripture references sometimes linked to the key passage and other
other scripture. When quoted directly, the Authorized King James
Version of the
Bible is used.
accompanied by footnotes linking to all the Biblical references,
Romans, Ezekiel, Luke, and other Old Testament books. This deepens and
discussions which seek to emphasize the goodness and purpose of God
interactions in early history.
volume lie promises, insights, and analyses of prophecies and
From the lessons of false prophets and keys to identifying them to the
the church in leading people closer to God, Hawker, Spurgeon, and
reflections use Biblical stories and examples to bring their lessons
into the discussion groups and minds of readers who would better
understand God's word.
The books of
help define the concept of the living God, while the inspections of
wise men offer further enlightenment that Christian readers will find
thought-provoking and essential to both the effort of daily living in
with God's word and the bigger picture of how faith operates in human
the analytical path set forth in Volumes 1-8, and will be appreciated
students who study the passages and their connections to daily living.
Return to Index
Readings & Devotionals, Volume 10
C.M.H. Koenig (compiler)
C.M.H. Koenig Books (through IngramSpark)
Old Testament Readings & Devotionals,
Volume 10 is another fine
addition to Koenig's Bible study series. It expands the reflections of
Robert Hawker, Charles H. Spurgeon, and Octavius Winslow to consider
Ezekiel, Daniel, Psalms, Haggai, and Zechariah.
covers Israel and Judah's exile from 605 BC to 518 BC. It examines key
and scriptures that are accompanied by in-depth reflections by one of
featured scholars on God's intentions and message.
As with its
predecessors, each passage is linked to discussions designed not just
upon their underlying meaning and message, but link to the reader's
experiences and efforts to become closer to God's living word.
specific admonitions key to the passages selected to general
contrasting the approaches and messages of the Biblical prophets. One
example lies in Hawker's thought-provoking contrast between Ezekiel's
and other prophet choices in delivering God's word. Ezekiel used lively
to cement his messages with visual embellishments, for example.
on the passages and messages in Ezekiel allow for insights that expand
evolution of the church, God's message, and the Lord's concern for the
repressed of His world.
of the commentary in this volume as he moves from Ezekiel to
of prophecy and its importance and impact on the church.
salvation to representations of Christ, Israel's history, culture, and
impact of the prophets on the delivery of God's word and its
human affairs makes for many thought-provoking insights highly
just for individual pursuit, but, ideally, Bible group discussion.
linked to specific passages and presented in a digestible daily
format lends to a study that excels in embracing the messages of God,
and how they were interpreted or can be reconsidered in light of
find this 10th volume an ongoing journey of discovery that offers many
analytical insights connected to the word of God.
Return to Index
Ordinary People, Extraordinary Elections
Lois Ann Nicolai
9781098387600 $15.28 Paper/$3.99 ebook
Book 2 of Lois Ann Nicolai's memoir trilogy, Ordinary
Elections: A Memoir of International Democracy Builders captures
the making. It follows the life and times of Nicolai as she traveles to
developing European countries, helping the OSCE/PAE create new
Many insights into the challenges faced during
these efforts are
provided in a lively, personal inspection that follows Nicolai's
encounters with other cultures and people, and her observations of
political processes during her official role as an International
Election Supervisor and observer.
The first book, Ordinary People,
Extraordinary Times: The Memoir of
One Citizen Activist, focused on her political work as a
This survey of her role as an OSCE supervisor
thought-provoking inspections of the evolving political processes in
democracies. Nicolai interacts with government and people, faces
obstacles to democratic process and her own freedom to move within
nations, and involves readers in learning about the foundations of
Photos throughout the book personalize these
experiences as Nicolai
makes astute observations that educate readers about conflicting
interpretations of democracy, nationalism, and other trends affecting
outcomes of elections and freedom: "It is horrible what has
here. It is real madness, all in the name of "Nationalism." And for
the first time since my initial assignment here in Kosovo in 2000, I am
pessimistic of real stability ever coming to the Balkans. The
just too strong."
The blend of "you are here" inspections into social
political processes and the analysis that comes from a seasoned
participant makes for a story that is enlightening and personal, all at
Extraordinary Elections is
especially recommended for library collections strong in politics,
international trends, and memoirs that embrace world travel
Discussion groups centering on democratic principles and their
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Moldova, Republic of Georgia, and
Kazakhstan will especially want to place this book high on their
Its eye-opening, enlightening surveys provide the
rare opportunity for
better understanding not just from a reporter's eye, but from the
efforts of an
embedded professional who was active in overseeing and guiding the
evolution of nations.
Return to Index
Salt & Light: The
Jonathan Geoffrey Dean
The Complete Jesus is recommended for readers who seek to
"authentic Jesus." While it holds many academic references that
scholarly students of the Bible will find satisfyingly authoritative,
presumes that its readers have little in-depth technical foundations in
scholarly Bible studies or academia, making it accessible to an
This and the tone of this
historical and religious review
makes Salt & Light
a wider audience than most Christian research pieces, melding disparate
research from academia (complete with footnoted references and
with an engaging focus and tone that lends to easy understanding.
The survey begins with a
consideration of the existence
of Jesus, which has been debated in different circles: "The
idea that Jesus is merely a myth certainly stands as a
minority position in the academic arena; however, I do think I should
it first, since if Jesus did not exist, there is nothing to
Perhaps I can save myself (and you) a lot of work by making this
pointless. And it is always a good thing to challenge the majority
Jonathan Geoffrey Dean
presents an unusual comparison
between Jesus and Betty Crocker to draw connections between figures
real but are myth, or, conversely, which seem like myths, but were
real: "Betty Crocker is a myth, yet
many people, Carrier argues, believe she is just as real as Jesus.
circulating myths include the 1947 Roswell UFO crash, the notion that
Holmes was a real detective, the idea that the US government destroyed
Towers on September 11, 2001, the cargo cults on Pacific islands, and
Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith’s story of the golden plates. These
illustrate how quickly people can come to believe unexpected things,
the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Carrier does an
job presenting evidence to show how unsurprising it would be if Jesus
His discussions strive for
reasoned analysis and accuracy
as he delves into the heart of controversies surrounding Jesus,
impeccable logic, footnoted historical references, and arguments to
his considerations of what Jesus did, said, and who he was.
Those who expect a dry
analytical approach will be
delighted to find there are many linked references between present-day
circumstance and culture and the Jesus of yesteryear, all presented in
discourses that encourage easy reading and understanding, yet remain
It's rare to see a discourse
that will satisfy both
audiences with a lively tone and well-researched documentation,
but Salt & Light succeeds
in doing so with an easy candor that melds supporting evidence with
arguments, conclusions, and insights about Jesus.
Not only are Biblical and
outside references consulted
and revealed, but Dean is astute in explaining his methodology's
foundations: "I have shown that
Peter-Mark, John, and Q are, by far, the richest and earliest sources
about Jesus. Luke and Matthew are early sources as well, although
It is now profitable to apply the Repetition Rule to see if the
any potential source, or a source already in my Source List, is simply
repetition of information we already have in earlier sources. If so,
is redundant and can be discarded. For instance, if a source’s only
Jesus is that he was crucified, and Peter-Mark, being an earlier
that he was also crucified, then according to the Repetition Rule, the
is redundant and can be excluded from my Source List."
also offer much food for
discussion groups, as Dean points out discrepancies and issues with
analytical approaches: "In any case,
Jesus did not follow Judaism himself. We have no explicit mention of
following Jewish customs. He did not abide by the Jewish purity laws
ate with sinners (Mark 2:14–17), he entered tombs and touched corpses
(Peter-Mark 10:34b), he did not fast (Mark 2:18), and he famously and
repeatedly disregarded the Sabbath."
Light: The Complete Jesus will undoubtedly be chosen for
collections, it would be a shame to limit its appeal to this audience
More so than most other discussions of Jesus, Salt
& Light holds the rare opportunity to more deeply
understand the figure, message, and purpose of Jesus, and thus should
considered by libraries interested in biographical, academic, or social
histories of Christianity's presence and impact in the world.
It's a very highly
recommended and unusual work for its rare
ability to appeal fully to both scholarly and lay audience, and is
researched and footnoted information, appendixes, and a special brand
analytical inspection designed to address common perceptions and
of Jesus and his times.
Return to Index
Traveling Freedom's Road
John J. Hanrahan
Freedom's Road Press
979-8-9855010-0-1 $24.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Traveling Freedom's Road: A Guide to Exploring Our Civil Rights History is a study in American patriotism and achievement. It provides all ages with a road trip of a different nature, surveying not only civil rights history locales, but the insights and new discoveries to be gained from such a travel focus.
John J. Hanrahan chose to make this journey and, in
the process, came to
realize that "The trip would be much
more than standing around restored homes of civil rights legends and
through new, information-rich museums. It became a collection of places
experiences that triggered strong reactions and difficult questions."
Some of the places where history was made looked
much the same as in the
past. Others had been completely transformed so as to be
also, was the sense of what had happened, as Hanrahan came to realize
the course of his explorations, and as readers discover while reading
The author and his wife weren't raised in the
South. They came from the
white suburbs of two large cities, grew up with civil rights activism
events in the sixties, and are now retired. He undertook this special
because "I wanted to learn more
about the people who advocated for change those many decades ago, to
the places where triumphs and tragedies occurred, and to grow in my
understanding of this important era. In short, there was a reversible
between what I knew about the civil rights movement compared to the
that movement on the country’s history."
That he not only made this trip but also created a
blueprint of travel
tips and engaging, factual revelations is testimony to the powerful
continue to resonate through time and history. Those who
history’s footsteps will benefit from this book whether they do it by
from their armchair. The benefits are particularly meaningful
who did not come of age during this period of some of America's deepest
book is packed with social, political, and cultural observations
that examine locales and the atmosphere of historical impact and change
are associated with them: "If you
combined one of the sacred places of the civil rights movement with an
incredibly comprehensive museum on that movement and its antecedents,
have the National Civil Rights Museum (NCRM)."
approach provides both a 'you are here' feeling to the narrative
and emphasizes why each civil rights landmark (be it an address, a
museum, or a memorial) continues to be relevant and important to modern
on civil rights history and many footnoted references provide
scholarly readers with the source materials documenting civil rights
politics, and their interpretation.
lively tone of this sojourn invites even non-history readers to
imbibe, creating an important survey that's very highly recommended to
audiences of American history buffs and travelers alike.
book's profits will be shared by the Legal Aid Justice Center in
Charlottesville and the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery. This is
another reason to choose Traveling Freedom's Road above others, whether
specializing in civil rights history or those seeking travelogues and
America which adopt a very different, more educational perspective than
Return to Index
Performing Acts of Love
Shepherd Siegel, PhD
Morgan James, LLC
9781631957307 $19.95 Papeer/$9.99 ebook
Performing Acts of Love: How Tricksters Through History Have Changed
is a recommended read for mythology and drama enthusiasts. It provides
inspection of fun and confrontations with power structures that are
trickery and play.
This method of analyzing
life results in not just
archetypal examples, but the presence of adults who employ the energy
Trickster to confront and affect the world around them. It's an
invites not just laughter and comic relief, but offers serious contrast
structures of power and angst that influence social developments.
Dr. Siegel is clear about
his intention and subject from
the start: "...this book is about
the role of the trickster (human), and the Trickster (demigod,
opening our eyes and our minds to the tangible possibility of a more
and playful society, a utopia if you will."
As he surveys gags and
tricks by such icons as the Marx
Brothers, he adds contrasts between different cultures and ethnicities
throughout history: "Trickster god
Eshù Elégba plays a part in the New World experience of enslaved
as Trickster Wakdjunkaga does for the Native American Winnebago tribe.
just as Tricksters Til Eulenspiegel and Bugs Bunny influence Western
Playfulness and Trickster spirit have deep roots in all cultures and
especially prominent in the Afro-Atlantic (the southern United States,
Caribbean and Brazil)."
His survey of the archetypes
surrounding the Trickster
image and its operations within and effects upon cultures is a
in contrasts that covers everything from racist stereotypes and biases
While mythology readers and
ethnic studies students will
be the top fans of Tricking Power into
Performing Acts of Love, it should also appeal to social
and those interested in connections between mythological archetypes and
The result is a powerful
blend of scholarly analysis,
mythology study, and social inspection that will appeal to readers of
mythology, and social issues on many different levels.
Performing Acts of Love's ability to move fluidly through
makes it an unusual, highly recommended pick especially recommended for
Return to Index
Valuable Virtue That Cannot Be Bought
Jason A. Merchey
Values of the Wise, LLC
978-0-578-31679-6 $15.00 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Wisdom: A Very Valuable Virtue That Cannot
is a study
in not just philosophy, but psychology and personal growth. Its purpose
examine and connect wisdom with happiness and life improvement
provides an inspirational look at gratitude, aspects of wisdom, how the
perceive the world, and the components of wisdom that are associated
overall personal and life improvement.
anticipate the quotes and references Merchey employs to solidify the
of and presence of wisdom in the world, but also included are
scientific references and research that enlighten readers about
features and attributes: "If wisdom
isn’t merely a function of age, then something must act as the
to turn the flour of experience into bread (wisdom). The jurist O. W.
said that “wisdom is the abstract of the past.” Holmes is proposing
accurately perceiving what has happened in one’s own past—and in the
humankind as contained in books, myths, and stories—is tantamount to an
accurate understanding of what the true state of affairs currently is and what it might
be in the future."
a focus on
the future and the values inherent in present and future thinking to
how to be
open-minded while staying true to one's psyche, Merchey provides solid
reflections that examine both the promise and pitfalls of pursing
wisdom: "If I tried to become a triathlete,
would be a poor fit between my capacity, my desires, and the required
lifestyle; I would encounter much more frustration and embarrassment
would experience flourishing."
balancing act between ideals, values, and enlightenment is considered
ways throughout Wisdom, juxtaposing
personal experiences with added-value reflections about the nature,
presence of wisdom in daily life.
message expands the pursuit of wisdom into social and political
readers will find especially inviting and thought-provoking: "Much of this book dealt with the
here-and-now: what wisdom looks, feels, and smells like—and how it can
potentially and practically be put to good use by an individual.
wisdom transcends the concerns of any one individual and can provide a
or a toolkit, not only for individuals, but also for communities,
the entire planet."
add value to their lives through the goal of attaining wisdom would do
start here. Wisdom: A Very Valuable
Virtue That Cannot Be Bought's messages, inspections, and
science, philosophy, and psychology create a discussion that will
appeal to a
wide audience, from self-help and new age readers to those interested
philosophical and psychological examinations.
Return to Index
All You Need
979-8480875676 $15.00 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
represents coming-of-age historical fiction at its best, and will
young adult and adult audiences alike. Set in 1968, it follows the life
of twelve-year-old Terry Morales,
who lives in
Southern California with her Mexican mom.
is in the
air with Dr. King and Kennedy's assassinations and the rise of protests
the Vietnam War, but Terry is more affected by the sudden appearance of
absentee father who invites her to spend time with him at an Oregon
to this transition: "...now, she
thought, a very worthwhile summer was about to happen. A summer with
who was not like anyone else’s dad, he was so funny and original and
unusual things to say."
opportunity and its impact on her young life, Terry has yet to
independent mother's concerns about her future.
father's unusual off-grid lifestyle and comes to realize that his
does not necessarily mean they will become closer, Terry begins to
more about her mother Luisa's life and worries, her questionable role
father's new life, and her own ability to handle her father's distance,
intoxication, and choices.
and further changes happen, Dirk begins to understand his failings as a
parent...which do not necessarily lead to him improving. Can men really
Sheela Word presents a
powerful story of a young girl who
grows to better understand her parents' personalities, choices, and her
best interests. As she encounters different family structures and faces
options, Terry's inherent sense of optimism is challenged.
The flavors of Mexican
culture injected into this story
give it an unexpected atmosphere filled with revelations, with details
how Terry's background influences her perception and future.
Middle grade readers will be
the most likely audience for
this novel; but adults, too, will appreciate this story of a preteen's
evolution as she faces two very different cultures, parents, and the
whirlwind of the 1960s that affects everything around them.
Impeccable psychological and
social inspections make All You Need
a riveting saga for all
ages. It should earn a place in discussion and reading groups
multicultural accounts that operate on social and ethnic history levels.
Return to Index
Alysson Foti Bourque
Alycat and the Cattywampus Wednesday
tells of a day where
everything seems 'upside down', from the dinner Alycat gets to eat for
breakfast to a school bus which is full when it reaches her, even
supposedly the first stop it makes.
is backwards, from her locker number at school to the order of her
Isn't it fun to do things differently sometimes? Not if everything is
different, all at once!
the best way possible. Her assessment of the day's special challenges
she can confront them gives picture book readers insights into the ways
which attitude can make a big difference in outcomes.
and positivity to friendship revelations, Alycat
and the Cattywampus Wednesday gives many enlightening
insights during the
course of a zany day's experiences, mixing an entertaining read with
this simple story for its read-aloud value will find Alycat
and the Cattywampus Wednesday filled with opportunities for
discussions about adaptation and how to handle difficult days when they
go all cattywampus.
engaging cat drawings bring Alysson Foti Bourque's fun characters to
life in this
whimsical, Louisiana-based story about kitties who confront a very
Return to Index
KC Entertainment Services, LLC
978-0578597324 $12.99 Paper/$5.00 ebook
The Amazing Martika provides picture book readers with a series of
adventures that revolve
around a little girl's fascination with the circus and its tricks and
increasing involvement with this environment as she becomes a performer.
Martika's story is captured with the drama and passion of fictional
moving in the streets of Rome, Italy, the performer was throwing flame
from one hand to the other with effortless grace.
People gathered around to oooohhh and ahhh at the amazing spectacle!"), it's actually the autobiography of a modern day circus and sideshow entertainer. It represents a study in achievement as it surveys the history and presence of African Americans in circus and sideshow history.
provides dynamic illustrations of Martika's journey that bring the
circus and its performers to life. Fun sidebars of description
vivid, colorful drawings as Martika grows into her priorities and
"When it was time to leave the nest, I didn’t run away and
circus. I went to college first! Even in college I was no stranger to adventure."
particular to performance are defined during the course of the story,
are educated about colloquial expressions and performer events alike ("A
busker is an entertainer that
performs on the street.").
determination and perseverance can result in all kinds of experiences
adventures, and that dreams can be achieved in adulthood in different
permeates a story filled with captivating revelations and experiences.
The Amazing Martika lends to adult read-aloud and young picture book
reader pursuit alike,
imparting a message that captures the circus world, its history, and
modern-day opportunities as it follows a young girl's dreams.
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Once Upon a Dance
Once Upon a Dance, Publisher
$24.95 Hardcover/$8.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
Andi's Valentine Tree presents a picture
book story of young dancer
Andi, who has many friends at the dance studio, but few in regular
school days looking forward to the dance studio experience, often
ballet exercises (illustrated in cameos on the side of each page, which
Ballerina Konora's dance steps and movement interpretations of the
As the tale
Andi's relationship with a friendly wild squirrel and an old tree
inspiration as Andi translates his experiences with dance-it-out
interpret both feelings and events.
on ballet positions expand the translate-experience-to-dance focus of
as Andi moves from school to woods to dance studio, telling his dance
about the unusual forest tree that seems to covet a dance performance.
dance routines and steps, and changing seasons mark a tale that also
different kinds of school relationships as Andi faces bullying from
school kids who think that ballet is an odd pursuit.
talk to the trees and dance for them becomes an exercise in surviving
but Andi faces even more trouble when his beloved tree friend Glorianna
the target of The Gorilla Gang.
save both tree
and his reputation by turning to ballet for help?
Andi's Valentine Tree offers a fine
connection between dance
movements and life experiences of all kinds. It teaches kids about
terms, movement approaches, and handling life's adversity in a format
immerse kids in movement and dance exercises while teaching them about
overcoming peer pressure and adversity will find Andi's
Valentine Tree just the ticket for a lesson in positivity,
problem-solving, and interpreting life experiences via dance movements.
Return to Index
The Christmas Curse of Krampus
978-0578952390 $9.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
The Christmas Curse of
is a children's book that will appeal to
pre-teens. Eleven-year-old Max follows a light in the forest away from
Christmas festivities in Germany and into a world that contains the
There, he confronts a terrifying beast, is rescued by a friendly
is challenged to more closely examine his own beliefs about Christmas
family as he ventures into a strange world of curses and threats.
These are not the traditional trappings of a
holiday story, but provide
a storm of confrontation and accompanying wisdom that test Christmas
faith, and the underlying chemistry of Christmas in unusual ways.
As Santa and others interact and Max comes to
realize the real power of
Christmas, advanced elementary to middle grade readers receive a vivid
that is anything but the usual holiday feature.
While some might believe the Christmas spirit could
be lost within the
angst and struggle that this story embraces, one of the pleasures of The Christmas Curse of Krampus lies in
its unique ability to blend the trappings of a horror story and German
with a holiday atmosphere: "His mom
had always taught him to help those in need, and he often found himself
agreeing to things he didn’t want to do. It didn’t matter anyway; there
turning back now.“Are we going to take out your sleigh?” Max asked, a
excited at that thought.
“No, I only take the reindeer out on Christmas Eve. It’s too risky to endanger the reindeer on Krampusnacht when Krampus and his Darklings are at their most powerful.”
As Max learns new spells and faces his darkest
fears, the Christmas
spirit burns ever brighter in a story that will attract kids both for
holiday and horror themes.
Its underlying messages about family and love
(based on the folklore of
the alpine regions of Germany and Austria) and its depth creates a
Christmas literature. This warm, uplifting story is highly recommended
and read-aloud parents who look for vivid, original tales the entire
share and discuss.
The door is
left more than ajar for a sequel, which is forthcoming. The
stage that's been set for this event promises another involving story.
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Oak Lane Stable
HenschelHAUS Publishing, Three Towers Press imprint
Dark Horse at Oak Lane Stable, the third book in a series of horse
stories for middle-grade readers, will attract enthusiasts of the prior
and newcomers alike.
with the first-person reflections of Cassie, who is about to
participate in her
first horse jumping competition. She's only been training a few months,
hard work is paying off. Still, she is forced to admit that she may
off more than she can chew by choosing feisty Night Hawk as her ride.
romantic interests and fielding a horse that may ultimately prove too
her, fourteen-year-old Cassie finds her life lessons converging in
in Dark Horse at Oak Lane Stable. Challenged
in different arenas and forced to reconcile her heart with her logical
assessment of the world around her, Cassie is faced with new growth
readers who like horse stories will find much to enjoy about Cassie's
process, whether in the stable or the world.
always win or get what she wants, but these failures lend to the
of a story that reviews life's ups and downs and the problems young
in assessing themselves and those around them.
choose this story for its horse foundations will find much more going
competitions and horse encounters alone. Cassie encounters life issues
moves outside her comfort zone, and these efforts give young readers
insights into influences on growth and attitudes which evolve not just
caring for horses, but caring for others.
libraries strong in stories about horses and coming of age will find Dark Horse at Oak Lane Stable a
multifaceted, compelling tale that lures leisure readers with
value, but offers so much more.
Return to Index
Welsh corgi enthusiasts, and picture book readers and read-aloud
all appreciate Tammy Knudtson's A Family
for Riley. It features realistic, fun illustrations by Robert
Sauber as it
explores a puppy and his family, who live idyllic lives playing on the
page, lovely paintings capture the farm, the puppies, and the activity
surrounds them, and will delight parents who look for artistic
of families arrive to adopt the litter of puppies, until Riley finds
alone with his mother.
learn about love, separation, adoption, and different family
makeups as they pursue Riley's story.
between all these themes are kindness and love, as each puppy goes to a
home and a supportive puppy mother reminds them that she will always
no matter how far they travel.
important lessons here that read-aloud parents can discuss with a young
book reader, making A Family for Riley
both educational and engaging on levels beyond its choice as a leisure
young dog lovers.
illustrations deserve repeated mention for their ability to highlight
in an artistic, engaging manner. Both story and illustrations make A Family for Riley a top recommendation
over most books about animal adoption, kindness, puppies, or love.
Return to Index
Kathleen J. Shields
Erin Go Bragh Publishing
$19.95 Hardcover/$9.95 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
The First Unibear by Kathleen J. Shields is a picture book
story decades in the making. The hardcover is illustrated in lovely
Utkarsh, while its paperback coloring book version is presented
in black-and-white so kids can also enjoy a coloring book experience.
The vivid story lends to read-aloud as a playful little bear cub explores his world. The tale is presented in rollicking rhymes accompanied by spiritual and psychological inspections as the cub stumbles upon a sad horse in the forest:
“Hello Mister Horse, are you
Why look so sad on such a fine day?
The birds they are singing, the flowers in bloom,
why Mister Horse, do you show so much gloom?”
It takes a kind heart to
reap the rewards of helping
another, and when little bear is given insights (which he shares with
about the horse, unexpected changes take place.
Parents who choose this
inviting fantasy story for kids
will be able to not only embellish the rhymes and enjoy the colorful
animals, but can explain the bear's discoveries, dilemmas, and choices
as the special form of magic which evolves when the tables are turned.
Lessons about kindness,
giving, rewards, sharing magic,
and appreciating spiritual components in life abound in the guise of a
fantasy story that kids and read-aloud parents will appreciate.
There is nothing in the
children's picture book world
that's quite like The First Unibear.
Its winning messages offer much food for thought in a detailed, fun
will keep young listeners engaged and thinking and read-aloud parents
by the numerous opportunities to discuss lessons about the many types
received from helping others.
Return to Index
For the Love
For the Love of Laxmi is a study in
interactions. It presents a whimsical, fun series of dialogues between
members as they pose for a family portrait, argue, and love one another.
At the heart
family encounter is Laxmi, a child who receives the loving attention of
aunts, parents, and siblings.
causes Laxmi to question the nature of love, family support systems,
understanding not just between generations and the sexes, but in her
her family unit and the world around her.
Alexa Carter personalize Laxmi's family and their experiences, bringing
encounters and questions to life. But it's the warm dialogues between
members leading to questions in Laxmi's mind (outlined clearly in
illustrate her thinking) that make Bijal Shah's story so compelling.
and raised in the U.S., has always been fascinated with being raised in
cultures. Their contrasts (and little Laxmi's growth and evolution)
center stage in a study in differences and independence which embraces
worlds and the choices Laxmi faces living in each as she grows up and
college and life away from home.
collections looking for multicultural reads that contrast different
parenting styles, and a bi-cultural child's concerns between them will
the lively and clear interactions in For
the Love of Laxmi, which ultimately is a study in love.
Return to Index
Bruce P. Brown
978-1-956019-12-4 $14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
In The Frankie Factor, twelve-year-old
Frankie Spril is afraid of everything—water, animals with hair, or
in a dish, to name just a few fears. In fact, Frankie is the least
candidate for being the cause of a death, but his fears get in the way
rescue and result in divine intervention.
simply must learn to swim and
because the angels who would intervene are not exactly seasoned, but
are still learning
their jobs. And Frankie's tutelage is but one of the ways in which
would-be saviors face failure.
life is not
the only one changed by his failure to respond. His home atmosphere
turbulence as his frustrated parents question their choices in
Frankie in the past, possibly inadvertently enabling and adding to his
the time to capture these changes from Frankie's perspective: "He had always been able to pick up
snippets of muffled conversation from his parents’ bedroom through the
vent. Before all this, these were gentle mumblings. He ignored them,
except for the assurance that his parents were close by. However,
now upside down. Now it was the conversation at the dinner table that
muffled and the words from the bedroom that were loud, most times after
bump of the door closing, then sounds of his parents’ conversation.
this he couldn’t make sense of from his bed, so he lay on the floor,
pressed against the warm metal heating grill."
As a result
attention to detail, young readers will readily understand Frankie's
fears and his perceptions of the world around him. Even those who have
experience with fearful peers or family members will find Frankie a
whose concerns come to life.
this survey as the Fifty-Eighth Floor overseers exhibit human failings
as divine powers, and as Frankie begins to face his fears in unusual
choice of adding
to Frankie's story a touch of fantasy and whimsy is just the ingredient
read that tempers its serious tone with moments of comic relief.
attract a wider audience than a more staid vision of Frankie's
have created, as it appeals to readers from fantasy genres who might
not have chosen The Frankie Factor had
it held a more circumspect, real-world feel.
The Frankie Factor is highly recommended
for pre-teens and teens,
whether they are interested in the story of a fearful boy's evolving
the concept of student guardian angels that face their own failings and
challenges as they study to help others.
fresh air for those who would absorb the underlying messages of
efforts to become part of his world and grow into his real strengths
the barriers holding him back. Ideally, The
Frankie Factor will be chosen not just for individual leisure
group and young adult book club discussion as Frankie seeks to redeem
during a transformational camp experience.
Return to Index
978-1-64543-595-2 $16.95 Hardcover/$4.95 ebook
Gordo Goo uses a rollicking rhyme to
power the picture book story
of a team of basketball players who face a particularly challenging
time to bring in Gordo Goo, who "Missed
his lay-ups by a lot;/Now is his chance to show he’s hot.”
Gordo has a
to his problem. Literally. It's Magic Potion #2, a Big Blue taste that
punch and gives Gordo the confidence to become a winner. What is Magic
#2? It's an injection of positivity that Coarch Harris "makes
for the team/Every night//It keeps our bodies/Ready and
initially balk at the idea of a magic game-changing formula for
sports ability, it quickly becomes evident that the drink is not a
drug, but a
dose of self-confidence that taps strengths that originate from the
himself and the magic potion is considered by others, readers gain
into the real origins of achievement that stem not from magic, but from
this fun story for read-aloud discussion will find appealing not only
premise, but the fun drawings by Remell Segovia, which bring to life
efforts of a basketball team and a savvy coach who develops a formula
it does its best.
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Tremendous Triceratops Trek
978-0635135841 $22.99 Hardcover/$5.99 Paper
James Bone: The Tremendous Triceratops Trek
is the second graphic
novel in the James Bone adventure series. It will appeal to elementary
middle grade readers with a lively tale of a young aspiring
archaeologist and his
paleontologist mother, Mommypenny.
to the Dakotas to unearth a fossil. But what he uncovers is trouble as
and his friends explore the wintry Dakotas in search of the
to find their mission thwarted by unexpected developments.
and a lively sense of humor are the attractors in this engaging story
fossil dig. It introduces kids to the Dakotas while pairing facts with
from Mount Rushmore's presidential carvings to navigating the slippery
rides permeate a tale filled with fun, wry observations as a mishap
the find of a lifetime.
engaging story of discovery receives equally compelling illustrations
Barrow. The pairing of these two results in young characters not just
but determined and creative in troubleshooting unusual confrontations.
over-the-top adventure is designed to attract and captivate even the
reluctant of young readers as they follow the precocious seven-year-old
protagonist and his friends straight into action and fun.
collection strong in full-color graphic novel adventures needs to
include The Tremendous Triceratops Trek
collection. It stands out with its winning combination of educational
humor, and stories of proactive kids who uncover both trouble and
Return to Index
Kennedy's Laddy O'Luck enjoys
engaging drawings by
Jack Cocker as it presents an Irish folk story of one of the first
in Ireland, telling how Laddy was tasked with bringing luck into the
just distribute luck willy-nilly. He "leaves
his luck only in places it is meant to be found."
grandfather narrates a story that embraces shamrocks, pots of gold and
rainbows, ladybugs, and horseshoes, young listeners and readers receive
tale of many legends of good luck and how they came to be associated
spins a fine yarn. It's a winning folk story picture book that is
read-aloud, highly recommended for anyone looking for a whimsical Irish
about one man's desire to spread fortune and happiness throughout the
seeking more Irish picture book stories will find the whimsical survey
concepts of luck to be appealing and colorful, both visually and in the
of a whimsical narrative.
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Li Na Is My Name
Dixi Books UK
Na Is My Name
is directed to young audiences who deal with bullying and teasing. Yes,
is a difference, as Lisa Wee outlines in a picture book that depicts
and child methods of teasing.
Li Na is somewhat of a
tomboy, as many adults disarmingly
comment. She likes soccer, rollerblading, and activities which earn her
makes us beautiful," Li Na notes, but ongoing prejudice from
about her tomboy ways seem to refute the idea that kindness is being
She muses that it simply
doesn't make sense when people
make comments that imply that a boy is somehow better than a girl—or
interests should be very different.
As Li Na explores what it
means to be a boy or a girl and
why these attributes and pastimes don't make one superior to the other,
refutes the tomboy label that has been applied to her activities,
that she has a name and special abilities that should both be
Kids receive a strong
message not just about kindness and
teasing, but about personal strengths that operate beyond gender
While adults looking for
empowerment stories to counter
bullying and teasing will find that Li Na
Is My Name more than fits the bill for this purpose, those
who want to open
discussions about girls and their abilities and possibilities should
include this story on their reading list.
Na Is My Name
is a fine introduction to personal empowerment that is lively,
thought-provoking, educational and fun, all in one.
Return to Index
Common Deer Press
$13.95 Hardcover/$12.95 Paper/$8.49 Kindle
Lucy and Dee: The Silk Road is
recommended for middle grade readers
who enjoy stories of adventures and quests. It follows the excitement
children face when they enter a land of magic and dragons to befriend a
querulous young emperor who proves a royal pain.
conventional life with too-predictable parents. Neighbor Dee, on the
hand, injects surprises into her life via "silly experiments" her
parents deem undesirable, and so he is her best friend—and the perfect
companion to accompany her into this other world.
injects elements of reality into Lucy and Dee's life which gives their
perspective a solid grounding in real-world dilemmas: "Her
parents never even tried to make things any better. They just
sailed along, telling each other stories about how the next job would
one to make them all rich. All the while their house quietly collapsed
surprising insights as the children encounter these magical and strange
creatures that ask questions about their possible evolution: “Are there female Xami? Are you able to
“Dee! Personal question!” Lucy looked shocked.
He felt a flush creep up his neck. “Sorry, it’s just that where we come from, mules, the product of crossbreeding between horses and donkey, are sterile.”
“A Xamu can be either male or female. But we have to be individually made.” Zi sighed. “Unfortunately, the learning for that was lost four centuries ago. No more of us have been made since. It’s becoming a worry.”
royal figure that is supposed to be protected turns out to be so
his saviors just want to dump him? Lucy's dilemma over Yidi and her
clear: “I know the kid is in danger. And
I know our mission is to protect him.” Lucy angrily stripped plump
from their branches stopping to suck her thumb when a thorn pierced it.
right now, his greatest danger is me. I could strangle him.”
Dee's efforts to locate his missing parents.
Middle grade readers who choose Lucy and Dee: The Silk Road will find that its action and adventure operate on several different levels. It's a satisfying story of growth, understanding, courage, and friendships which also examines danger, embarrassment, disastrous choices and their consequences, and evolving maturity.
aren't neatly answered by the story's end, leaving the door ajar for
and Dee adventures; but many keys to success are achieved in a manner
delight fantasy readers looking for a story more firmly rooted in
growth than most.
to young patrons who like adventure fantasy quest stories will find Lucy and Dee: The Silk Road an excellent
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Common Deer Press
978-1-988761-62-6 $11.95 Paper/$8.99 Kindle
The Math Kids: The Triangle Secret is the
sixth book in the Math
Kids series. It tells of fifth grader Jordan Waters, who is just
feel that the school year may not be a complete disaster after his
friends find themselves divided into different classrooms.
used math to solve many cases, in the past. When an FBI investigation
plane crash leads to a kidnapping, they are once again called upon to
demonstrate their problem-solving skills.
adventure spice a story which outlines and uses
mathematical patterns to solve mysteries. Examples of math
solutions both inside and outside the classroom spice a story that
math throughout, whether it's counting ice cream scoops, considering a
coach's formula for success, or tackling a puzzling will.
Shannon O'Toole pepper David Cole's engrossing tale, building a sense
adventure and excitement that pairs math concepts with problem-solving
nicely developed, the characters are enthusiastic and interesting, and
formulas and concepts are clearly explained—but it's the mystery that
the story and holds reader interest throughout.
with the Math Kids series is needed in order to appreciate this latest
adventure. Adults seeking to strengthen math concepts and applied
skills in the young will find The
Triangle Secret a great way of reinforcing mathematics
through an appealing
adventure that asks questions of readers to test their own
Return to Index
Luminare Press/Waxing Gibbous Books
Space Story is recommended reading for
young sci-fi fans in middle
grades and older and presents the adventures of sixteen-year-old Bobby,
falls asleep in his own bed, only to awaken in a spaceship. While the
the protagonist would seem to indicate this book's appropriateness for
teen audience, the tone of the presentation makes it very accessible to
be a dream, but any attempts to awaken only result in further details
this strange new environment: "Bobby
saw more clearly outside: outside the window, if there even was a
Whatever boundary existed between inside and outside was definitely
the view was as clear as December ice. The way, the universe itself,
front of him, and above and below, as Bobby gazed onto a darkness
unlike any he
had ever seen or known, a terrible black space that seemed alive and
like a deep ocean on a black night if the gazer had their eyes closed
also dead. It terrified him. It looked like forever, and it looked like
nothing. He saw no stars, only night."
at vivid descriptions throughout as Bobby faces Deepoms (beings with
"...perfect knowledge, and a very deep consciousness and rich
beyond that of humans, who we will soon surpass in all things. We are
smarter") and Kay, an Earth girl who also finds herself unexpectedly in
space, the victim of an "ingenious sibling."
her comfort zone and previously sheltered life, as a result: "...no one had ever attacked her,
personally, before. It occurred to Kay, just after her third scream,
sheltered existence was something to be thankful for, especially if
this is how
other beings behaved. Back on Earth her famous brother, J, had always
care of her, no matter how bad things seemed to be getting. She
wondered why J
wasn’t here, therefore, and whether he knew all the dangers involved
space travel “testing.”
This is what
for trusting her brother's protection. Will her carefully-honed
coping with life (meditation, contemplation, and enlightened
help her adjust to and survive these new conditions?
encounter a variety of challenging circumstances that involve young
a whimsical story of space creatures and abilities tested by
cultivates an atmosphere of humor and adventure for middle grades as he
Kay and Bobby's extraordinary circumstances and encounters with not
aliens, but each other.
than a light touch of philosophical reflection as Kay faces deeper
that usually aren't part of sci-fi or fantasy reading for this age
psychological, social, and philosophical inspection is a nice adjunct
alien adventures Kay and Bobby experience, and lends an unexpected,
depth to the story that adults will approve of.
Space Story is at once hilarious,
action-packed. Its story of two characters transported far from their
zones in different ways will resonate with middle grade readers and
enjoy sci-fi that follows character growth and the impact of individual
and new choices.
Return to Index
Other Ill-Advised Dating Techniques
Dark Daydreams Books
978-0998947990 $13.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Death and Other Ill-Advised Dating Techniques for its intriguing title won't be
disappointed. It fulfills its promise of offering a satisfyingly
approach to fantasy.
tale opens with a compelling lure: "I'm
five steps behind Death and not happy about it." The humor
almost immediately as the protagonist gives a sarcastic response to
herself, and the story becomes impossible to put down from there.
cultivates a character who imparts a sassy sense of rebellion even when
with following Death: "Maybe I'm not
stalking Death. I'm more like her disoriented leash-puppy, heeling on
But I'm going with stalking. It lets me pretend I have a sliver of
Death's lackey with two tasks, but teen Tyro has other ambitions that
with this revised mission. Teenage male hormones apparently have not
so the mission is revised by both a spunky refusal to submit and an
that moves beyond Death's usual edicts.
cultivates a fine sense of contemporary rebellion and angst that
nicely with a fantasy that's endowed with comedy and fun. Boy-and-girl
evolve, with an unusual backdrop of Death warmed over as Tyro navigates
completely unfamiliar ground and re-envisions his own goals.
everyone. Or, does it?
presentation of a sassy rebellion and a journey through an underworld
with rules just begging to be broken by Tyro results in a fantasy romp
unpredictable and thoroughly engrossing.
strong character that refuses to either accept death or be ruled by its
structures, Tyro is a likeable, engaging protagonist whose journey
underworld both challenges and rewrites its purposes.
adult fantasy readers will be the most likely audience for Stalking Death and Other Ill-Advised Dating
Techniques, the story
promises much appeal to adults looking for a very different tone than
fantasy genre read.
to create special dilemmas and environments makes for a tale that is
intrigue and a determined young adult character who realizes the
the Grim's thinking...and his illusions about life, death, and the
meaning of them both.
writing style that doesn't neatly confirm to any formula, Stalking Death and Other Ill-Advised Dating
Techniques is very
highly recommended for all ages looking for something satisfyingly
Return to Index
Bryan and House Painter Mervyn
years old will find The Tale of Bryan and
House Painter Mervyn the fine story of a wealthy son of the
richest man in
Sandstone-by-the-Sea, whose fine life is stymied by a mysterious
confines him to bed.
an active life, is completely bored. The solution? Hire a painter to
and excitement into the mix.
interacts with house painter Mervyn's unique ability to literally
visionary worlds, he becomes involved with witches, wizards, devils,
force that leads Bryan to not want to leave his room after all, after
providing magic or evil? The lawyers can't decide, but it becomes clear
that "...the Village of Sandstone-by-the-Sea was out to get
an engaging story filled with unexpected twists and turns, embellished
engaging drawings by Meilo So which are peppered throughout to add
excitement to the changing story.
indeed as its subtitle promises ("for children and their parents")
because it evolves a somewhat complicated series of encounters that
Bryan not only recovers, but is positively influenced by Mervyn's
Jones and the villagers come to better understand Mervyn's unique
its underlying influence, young readers and read-aloud parents receive
magical story that embraces rainbows, angst, secrets, and a special
form of transformation
that paints a very different picture.
influences and impacts of Mervyn and Bryan's evolving relationship
require parental participation in order to be fully discussed and
but the result is an engaging story that educates and entertains on
different levels, recommended both for kids past the picture book stage
read-aloud parents who look for complex, involving tales.
Return to Index
The War of the Woods
War of the
Woods is the fourth book in the Crowns of Croswald young
series, and will be especially appreciated by prior fans of Ivy
Her search for the Kindred
Stone, the final piece of the
puzzle she's tried to put together in the previous books, leads her
Dark Queen and new struggles as she faces evil and the changing
Fyn, who supported her prior encounters.
The strong fantasy elements
Night built in previous books
are still present and are expanded upon in The
War of the Woods, where Ivy faces her final battle and
questions how she
can help the world if she can't even succeed in helping one individual.
Ivy's friends also return
and come to her rescue in a big
way—but not before everything they've built and believe in is
As in the other books in the
Crowns of Croswald series,
Night cultivates action-packed adventure, interpersonal interactions,
host of fantasy elements, from dwarfs to evil queens.
Night also refines Ivy's
ability to absorb life lessons
and insights as she confronts her deepest fears and strengths: "Pure fear cannot touch or own pure
As a dark army rises and a
vortex of magical spells
emerges on both sides, young adults are treated to vivid battle scenes,
changing relationships, and a final goal which is rocked by internal
The characters developed in
the previous books grow into
their full-faceted abilities in a manner that is sometimes familiar and
often surprising, as main characters and new personalities rise to the
Ivy steps into a revised
role that, in many ways, was
meant to be: "Just because something
always has been, doesn't mean it should be."
These characters combine
with a vivid quest adventure
through fantasy realms to create a delightful conclusion to a series
recommended for prior fans and library collections seeing interest in
Crowns of Croswald books.
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and Me in
You and Me in the Trees follows families that celebrate being in
the forest and in nature. It provides a fine picture book story
with full-page, lovely illustrations by Alyssa Gnos as it explores
adults who interact with each other and nature.
also celebrated as characters of all ethnic origins explore the forest
backdrop. Even the dress changes, from the old-fashioned attire of a
climbs a tree to enjoy the view to a modern mountain biker who enjoys
"whooshing by" on a mountain road.
"Aren't we lucky to enjoy all the
beauty that abounds?"
presentation not only capture nature's beauty, but the equally
diversity of a range of people who enjoy a walk in the woods and the
landscapes of Mother Nature.
Any picture book library looking for stories of nature encounters and diverse characters will find You and Me in the Trees a winning standout from the usual child-in-nature approach.You and Me in the Trees
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