August 2020 Review Issue
Table Of Contents
The Eagle and the Sparrow
978-1-733-9020-3-8 $14.99 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
B & N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-eagle-and-the-sparrow-claire-youmans/1137056626;jsessionid=10737C43794701A57ABADD738C8B20B2.prodny_store02-atgap14?ean=9781733902045&st=AFF&2sid=Draft2Digital_7968444_NA&sourceId=AFFDraft2Digital
Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088Q41HF7
The 7th book in the magical
realism fantasy series 'The
Toki-Girl and the Sparrow Boy' will delight prior enthusiasts of the
Japanese-centered story set in the 1800s. Here, bird-humans Toki-Girl
Eagle-Boy Akira and a host of others who exist on the cusp of
different worlds continue their search for what it means to be and live
human society as something not entirely human.
Subject to changing forms,
their struggle to stay human
or integrate elements of their humanity with their animal side creates
and tests of courage as their dual natures vie with matters of the
Folklore about Japan's Meiji
era blends into a compelling
saga that requires no prior familiarity with Japanese history, but will
absorbed by prior series fans with a complete command of the
which Sparrow-Boy Shota faces his greatest challenge, which
pits his heart
against his duty.
Claire Youmans creates a
vivid story of young people of
'dual nature' who struggle with a multitude of responsibilities,
threats, and puzzles stemming both from their natures and the world
them. This dichotomy and contrast between inner and outer states of
inserts a satisfying moral and ethical dynamic, as well as much
tension, into a story that evolves and continues to expand both the
and the dilemmas of these special folk.
Lovely black and white
drawings pepper the tale, adding
to its atmosphere and reinforcing the feel of Japanese culture with art.
Can dual-natured children
grow up to honor both their
heritages? The back and forth struggles as they attempt to achieve this
other impossible goals is depicted in lovely language in many thought
scenes such as this: "You want to be
a human; you want Irtysh to be a human. I want our children to be
first. They must be dragons first and foremost! Sugaar must live with
me so he
learns that. Renko was almost killed because of your insistence on her
As Akira faces equally
powerful changing forces in
Japanese society, he revises his vision of his place in it: "We have to take up our rightful
positions in society. We're Samurai. We belong in the military. We
the military. We can't let the riff-raff simply kick us out, national
While young people are the
focus of this and all the Toki
stories, this tale is far more complex and multifaceted than a young
alone could absorb. It's recommended for mature young adult to adult
magical realism and fantasy. It offers an adventure that probes the
society and those divided by their heritage, special abilities, and
place in the world.
The numerous references to
Japanese history and culture
throughout will delight adult readers interested in the forces shaping
politics, society, and psychological nature of the Japanese. The
social clashes in The Eagle and the
Sparrow form a highly recommended continuation to a series
in which each
already-extraordinary individual is forced to revise their paths,
ultimate strengths in response to a rapidly changing world.
979-8632720298 $9.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
First Mexican Superhero is the first book in the Legacy
series. It offers a
wry blend of social commentary and sci-fi superhero adventure as it
hell-raising hero who tackles the poverty and ghettos of the Latino
Latinos don't have
superheroes. They do have poverty,
prejudice, and repression that cries out for one, however; and in The Illegal, a powerful individual rises
from the pits of ghetto hell to fill the gap and see that justice is
Detective Barton was raised
in this milieu. He knows
there are no such things as miracles, superheroes, and an easy life.
is one of solving violent crimes, confronting the rage, overdoses, and
clashes that result in massacres. It's about to get bigger when a
message and eyewitness reveals The Illegal's new presence and influence
turf Barton thought he knew only too well.
The Illegal is a product of
Mexico’s Latin X Program: a
genetically enhanced vigilante monster with a vendetta and a mission.
builds in the neighborhoods and a "nut in a costume" appears to be at
the center of escalating violence, those who live in, control, and
Latino community find themselves facing an adversary who may be either
or a deadly psychopath. It's all a matter of perspective.
The cover of The
Illegal and the concept of a caped hero may lead some to
believe this is a
children's story, but make no doubt about it: the social commentary,
violence, and clashes between disparate forces place it entirely in the
sci-fi reader's milieu. Superman himself couldn't thwart the kind of
cartel that operates within the heart of the town. But The Illegal
Steven Cortinas presents a fast-paced, streetwise story replete with action, violent clashes, bawdy language, and even unexpected romance. His descriptions are astute and compelling: "The sane half of his psyche indeed wanted to go home, lick his wounds, and get back to his life of obscure, nerdy poverty. But there was that other half: the one that hated the way things were before."
As the Illegal faces enemy
Safire's clever moves and
ten-year-old children become powerful heroes themselves, Cortinas
myriad of influences and forces from different age ranges, walks of
cultural backgrounds to create an unexpectedly diverse adventure.
This is no one-dimensional
Superman character, but a
complicated hero whose actions and reactions spawn a sense of power and
in a beaten-down community. As a real-life superhero faces a showdown
equally clever villain, readers are captivated by a series of events
juxtaposes fast-paced action with surprising comic relief: "Before you die, I have to know: why the Illegal?
gone with the Dishwasher, or the Landscaper, or the Orange Picker, or
Border Jumper. Why choose such a silly name?"
Readers will find the tone,
presentation, and action of
this superhero story alternates from serious social inspection to
both violent and surprisingly fun. They will relish The
Illegal: The First Mexican Superhero's special brand of
social, political, and community inspection. It's an approach that
story very highly recommended for sci-fi readers looking for something
as a superhero and his young protégé confront the destruction of
Lisa Renée Julien
Ebook: 978-1-7352037-1-3 $ 7.95
Paperback: 978-1-7352037-0-6 $12.95
Midnight in New California blends LGBT
culture with an alternate
history set in 2030s New California, where Cora Broussard's new romance
the alluring Ashley Doral brings her on a journey back to her roots in
for new power and meaning in her life.
strictly controlled world where New California's Government Protection
have their eyes on everyone. Where other people may be content with the
trappings of ordinary society and life—jobs and family—Cora covets the
everything. This desire gets her in trouble as she eschews normal goals
behaviors in favor of the exciting, edgy, superior experience that
to leave her bored and unsatisfied in the end.
power doesn't always serve her well in life, but it's about to prove
strength that allows her to move away from her familiar goals into
territory and survive the experience as she enters a revised life
Ashley's mercurial influence and conviction that Cora can't always get
fire and passion Cora seeks, or does it contain a dark undercurrent of
possibilities that she'd never imagined?
Julien excels in crafting the trappings of a near-future San
Area that feels familiar in landscape but unfamiliar in its social and
identity. The young characters who reside in New California are both at
this alien environment and chafe at the restrictions of their lives and
directions, and the boundaries of their relationships with one another.
There is no
progression for the story, a satisfying entwining of the familiar and
outrageous, in a plot that keeps readers guessing about possibilities,
outcomes, choices, and consequences.
intrigue, and an odd phone call that injects confusion and questions
Cora's life power events replete with not just romantic entanglements
change, but social, political, and cultural confrontations.
powerful women whose lives, assumptions, experiences, and connections
California and beyond are realistically portrayed, but with a
that keeps readers on their toes.
history and LGBT romances will find Midnight
in New California fosters an eerie sense of familiarity and
worlds that keep it thoroughly engrossing and hard to put down as
girlfriend considers what it takes to be part of her world while Cora
reconsiders family connections and a sense of place.
The Perfection of Fish
Black Rose Writing
Author’s Website: https://vorpelword.net
Readers of science fiction
and fantasy who enjoy humor
paired with dystopian experience will find The
Perfection of Fish a delightfully wry and unique production
that joins an
unusual premise with an unexpected form of social commentary.
It takes the classic battle
between the sexes and moves
it into the realm of genetic manipulation in a future world where a
supplement lowers testosterone and brings peace to the world. (Or, does
The best intentions go awry
when special interests become
involved, as Nadia Holkam becomes an unwitting victim of this
scientific experiment and her twin sister Diana gets wind of the fact
companies are trying to use the genetic alterations to make women
In 2042, an isolated small
town holds only two
inhabitants: Nadia, and a strange, insane younger overseer, Berky, who
her every small, tired attempt to defy his search for perfection and
dominance over her life and mind.
His quest for the perfect
woman has resulted in a beaten,
trapped soul whose goal is to foster and force in a new era of male
and female subservience.
This might initially sound
like The Handmaid's Tale, and
indeed holds some familiar themes of
repression and social commentary, but J.S. Morrison doesn't create a
black-and-white world with predictable scenarios and characters. And so
story expands to include an unlikely opposing force consisting of
sister, a one-eyed Muslim Bible salesman, an African American woman
testosterone-reducing food supplement, and an Indian geneticist fleeing
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
The dystopian setting means
that the usual information
channels and options are all disrupted, as Nadia's sister discovers
tries to handle Nadia's agoraphobia: "Diana
puzzled over the problem of sanity. She needed to understand the cause,
symptoms, and cure for agoraphobia to help Nadia leave Assurance. There
any books on the subject in their skimpy home library. Her only
was her sister’s ancient computer and a flaky internet connection.
work. Accessible sites weren’t fully functional. The computer seemed
to a walled garden, planted with a curated set of pages containing
Similar to The
Handmaid's Tale, The Perfection of
Fish takes place in a not-too-distant future when the
benefits of past
society are unavailable, yet still a memory that prompts the characters
to replace information systems and technological support systems with
realities at hand. This creates a believable series of scenarios that
for their combined familiarity and newness.
Berky and Cantor struggle to
destroy the strong women who
resist this type of control and deem Nadia irrelevant to their evolving
and helpless because of the agoraphobia which commands her world.
receive a powerful story of intrigue, manipulation, an AI control
holds its own special interests in manipulating mankind, along with an
irreverent sense of humor that permeates the story with a special brand
To call The
Perfection of Fish a dystopian story of survival and social
change would be
to overly simplify the various levels of social and technological
permeate this involving story. It's made all the more powerful for its
explorations of the very different personalities and dilemmas of twins
harbor their own special abilities.
Sci-fi readers looking for a
near-future story replete in
original insights, an identity crisis heightened by technological
and greed, and the particular perceptions of two women who struggle for
own identities and freedom will find The
Perfection of Fish compelling, original, fun, and hard to
The Pystead Group
James P. Roby III
The Techner Group
ASIN: B088QY31BM $6.28
The Pystead Group presents a frightening near-future sci-fi story set in 2052, where U.S. citizens fear extremists and corrupt government alike. Cognitive scientist Philip Russell flees his country for a job in the West Indies, where he finds himself in even more hot water with corrupt police and illegal activities that include his new company's brain scanning security technology.
Targeted by the company's enemies and corrupt police alike, Philip finds his job as a Pystead scientist places him right in the middle of everything he's hoped to avoid. His assessment of the Net and its injection of uncertainty affects his choices, decisions, and views of life: "It's just impossible to know if you've found the crux of any matter via the Net."
Readers should know that this is no light sci-fi scenario. James Pryor weaves quite a bit of philosophical inspection into the story that offers more than casual food for thought: "In the glow of modernity, an early metaphor may be maligned and waning, yet informative. The reality of the cosmos is not changed by machinations of the human mind; the machinations of the mind are not always changed by the reality of the cosmos. What is absolute in the cosmos may be deemed relative or spurious in the mind."
This approach gives The Pystead Group added dimensions of complexity and value by interfacing Philip's life and confrontations with greater questions of life purpose as he simultaneously pursues his new role as part of a crew navigating dangerous scientific and political waters and his newfound fiancée's expansion of his journey and life purpose.
Philip is both challenged and changed by his new job and life. This, in turn, results in a deep inspection of career, purpose, and love as he faces the impact of his own technological connections.
As Philip adapts to new realities and the possibility of a very different future, readers receive many insights into his world, how it got that way, its divergent paths, as well as Philip's own attempts to reinvent his life, love, and relationships.
Pryor places all these concerns within a fast-paced adventure story designed to keep readers on edge and thinking throughout Philip's journey.
As themes of disruptive politics and authoritarian plays for power, dangerous technologies, and individual perception and growth juxtapose with a struggle for an understanding of reality itself, readers will find this near-future world delightfully engrossing and completely accessible.
Is Philip really alive if he
can't embrace the extent of
humanity's and his own possibilities? Readers will find themselves
engaged and thinking throughout this satisfying, highly recommended
commentary and sci-fi romp through high technology, philosophy, and
$14.95 Paper, $22.67 Hardcover, $4.99 Kindle
Soulstealer is a series, and this first
book, subtitled Nythan, introduces
the scenario of a
college-bound student on the pinnacle of success and change who
has a demon inside of him...one that threatens everyone around him—even
How can he
his goals while struggling with a dangerous force? Should Nythan help a
demon escape his soul to free it into the world so this effort can free
suggested for mature readers ages 16 and older, who will be able to
digest some mature themes such as violence, philosophical inspections,
references to abuse. This audience will relish the dark fantasy which
as Nythan Dwienz, a cadet in the U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer
at the University of Central Florida, faces a destiny he never could
imagined as he comes of age.
know his 'other self', Bane, and deals with an entity which has spent
in hiding waiting for just this moment to emerge, he comes to realize
hidden abilities and their connections to both the entity within him
secret order charged with stopping it.
intrigue, newfound connections, and adventure permeate an urban fantasy
with satisfying twists and turns. The story is spiced with
interactions that keep Nythan growing and changing on more than one
level: "Everything took on a whole new
when he accessed another person’s most intimate feelings. He recognized
depths to which she’d go to do whatever he asked."
insights that weave through this story as interactions between Nythan
are nicely presented, thought-provoking interludes to their encounters:
me again what wú wéi means?It means non-action.
Another way to say it is
non-forcing. It’s knowledge of the tide’s pattern.
Sailing, rather than
rowing. Your heart beating is wú wéi. Your unconscious breathing is
When you intentionally breathe, you’re rowing. Why’s this important?
Because receiving a gift from thousands of people is much different than hundreds."
ways of handling issues and relating to all sides if they are to
dilemma adds an extra dimension of tension and growth to a vivid story
mature teens will find compelling.
Soulstealer is highly recommended for
prior fans of urban fantasy,
who will find this tale satisfyingly engrossing and hard to put down.
Truth: Stories and Lies
Tumbleweed Press, Inc.
9798646185571 $9.99 Paper/$3.55 Kindle
Stories and Lies is a humorous memoir that moves into
literary fiction as Aaron Zevy presents a
blend of fun personal insights, life
reflections, and vignettes that tantalize the senses with their sense
de vievre and astute observation. Readers looking for a memoir that
line between truth and lie for the sake of entertainment,
fun reflection will find Almost the Truth
departs from the normal staid memoir format in favor of a fun
romp through life.
hilarious opening line to 'Crossing the Nile',
for example. It draws readers in with a family probe that is anything
usual Jewish holiday gathering scenario: "My
nieces and I play a drinking game at our Passover Seder. As I am both
and childless, in addition to lacking the requisite maturity, I sit in
children’s section directly across from my brother who sits at the head
table with the rest of the adults."
evolves into a
piece that considers both serious Seder rituals and Aaron Zevy's zany
interpretations, readers receive a fun survey of his ability to
in unusual, creative ways: "...we
are required to drink four glasses of wine—two before dinner and two
we decided to supplement the religious rites by adding a twist of our
would take a drink when triggered by specific words or actions of our
Seder participants. In other words, our family and close friends. I
really want to throw any of them, or my nieces for that matter, under
by divulging any of those triggers but suffice it to say the word
alone has gotten them drunk long before the pickled brisket is served."
Zeigler' is another missive that readily admits the embellishments and
detriments in the original story, offering tidbits of cultural and
reflection that are hilarious in the retelling: "...this
woman, the wife, is at Harbourfront one afternoon and
stumbles upon Richard Schiff sitting on a bench eating a pretzel. I
if he was actually eating a pretzel but I include it in the telling. It
establishes his New York City bonafides." The essence of a
story often lies in such details, and as the piece evolves, even
no interest in golf and no prior knowledge of who Toby Zeigler is will
Zevy's account compelling: "Richard
Schiff replies and says thank you very much, he would love to golf but
working on the shoot during the week and the only time which works
Saturday afternoon. At this point Steve should have written back and
“Amazing, I will send a limo to pick you up. We are playing with my
who is a huge fan, and we are both really looking forward to it.” But
twist at the end which proves that despite its title, the essay is more
getting screwed than playing golf. And therein lies the collection's
ability to draw readers with an anticipated scenario, only to have the
subject prove to be something greater than the lure of the piece's
translates to great writing. It's entertaining, it's funny, it's
revealing, and it's steeped in the unexpected.
Stories and Lies is uniformly one of the more creative,
of 2020. Readers who enjoy wry humor and life observations that depart
anticipated pathway will delight in Aaron
Zevy's collection, which is often politically or culturally incorrect
Remodel a Life
PipeVine Press/Warren Publishing
978-1-7347075-7-1 $16.95 Paper
to Remodel a
Life comes from an author who was diagnosed as bipolar in her
after she became a substance abuser and struggled heavily with abusive
relationships and a life fraught with brink-of-death experiences and
Anderson was in her
sixties when her husband's
near-death experience caused her to change drastically. She eschewed
and pain that was part of daily life for a better vision of life
direction that is reflected in How to
Remodel a Life. Her special blend of memoir and inspirational
offer much food for thought and hope for anyone struggling with a mood
and the life-altering challenges it presents.
story doesn't just
incorporate, but embraces a
personal life of pain. Readers who want the inspirational without their
wellspring should look elsewhere, because these descriptions, such an
part of her growth process, can be difficult to read.
the pain is worth
the many candid revelations
that serve as guideposts to others struggling with mood swings and
abuse: "It was never enough just to be
me. I lied to myself about my own importance; I was never just one of
girls. I deceived myself and others about everything—my weight, my
marital status, my exercise routine, my talent. I did all this in an
create a persona that I
live with, one that seemed larger than life, better than I really was.
tragic truth is I spent decades being someone I was not, when my
wasn’t so bad after all."
every reader who sees
adversity and too much pain in
this story, there will be ten who acknowledge that real growth isn't
without building on failures and earthshaking foundations to achieve
bigger and better.
perfect audience for How to Remodel a Life
are those who will
learn and grow from the author's
self-inspection and survey of the "things that make her crazy" and
the many truths that emerge from this process: "...sometimes
we get so wrapped up in our own denial that we are
unable to see the truth about ourselves. The truth is: I need to truly
myself before I can love anyone else."
The result is a road map that goes straight through pain and into the process of remodeling a broken life. It's one that also demonstrates that a person is never too old to embrace a better route.
on their own
journeys through struggle and threat
will find How to Remodel a Life a
powerfully uplifting journey through angst to serenity, and will
opportunity to follow the insights Hope Anderson cultivated from this
of the Self
Self: Memoir of an Artist represents a journey not just
and ambition, but surveys how Ruth Poniarski's pursuit of her art led
the direction she'd longed to realize—locating a soul mate and best
black and white
images in acrylics pepper her
memoir. Her story shares life experiences and anecdotes, therapy pros
encounters with various kinds of people, and goals which are challenged
changed by life experiences.
analytical, strong in its
self-assessments, and holds important messages for those in therapy or
own roads to self-discovery: "The
doctor didn’t realize the pattern of psychosis developing when a
situation evolved. My illness was difficult to understand and not
the same way as diabetes or a heart condition. His Freudian style of
was not effective in curtailing my decompensation. I needed him to tell
basics for my survival within the boundaries of my limitations. I
know that I should avoid chaos and too many events happening at once.
have warned me against reenrolling in an architecture program and
making a big
move into the city at the same time."
she overcame a poor
self-image and recurring
episodes of mental anguish to her struggles with a worsening disorder
relationship to another who struggled with his own different form of
illness, Poniarski chronicles struggles, successes, challenges, and the
progression of not just her disease, but her recovery process.
Her memoir is an inspirational lesson plan for others who battle mental illness. In the course of a journey to discover who she truly is, Poniarski provides insights not just into self-realization, but assessing and handling doctors and medical systems that can either enhance or thwart the pursuit of peace and happiness.
of the Self
Eva Casey Velasquez
This is Resilience
Paperback: 978-1-7345358-0-8 $19.99
Ebook: 978-1-7345358-1-5 $ 5.99
rare that a book author
'nails' the essence of why a
reader should choose their book over many similar-sounding titles on
market, but Eva Casey Velasquez tackles this in the opening paragraphs
of The Monster Inside: Surviving Sexual Abuse
and Architecting a Life of Resiliency: "What
makes my story special? Why should you bother to read it when there are
hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of childhood sexual abuse
around us? This story is more about what I did after
this early childhood trauma; this book is about how I
resilience, relinquished shame, and acknowledged my unlimited
refreshing to see a
title that holds its foundations
in a memoir about a social issue, but moves beyond singular experience
social meanings of abuse, self-help, and finding renewed strength and
in life despite a horrific childhood of ongoing sexual and emotional
motivator for writing
Velasquez's book was to break
the code of silence and secrecy surrounding this abuse, but another was
reveal the nature and impact of adult choices that led away from a life
repression, fear, and denial.
wants to keep
progressing in her life and healing,
and this drive to better her world despite its early influences is part
sets The Monster Inside apart from
other accounts of childhood abuse.
opportunities and good
and bad decisions in her
relationship choices to the insidious signs of an abuser's tactics and
to life, Velasquez cultivates a sense of upward momentum and
about her choices. This offers inspirational inspections and
depth about the dynamics and patterns early abuse translates to, in
lives: "He started reinventing our
history by making himself into an unwilling participant in all the
made together. He did it with such conviction and regularity that he
believe his own lies."
between approaches to parenting
and life obligations to a developing clarity that allows her to develop
mission in life (to help others), The
Monster Inside excels in creating a vivid blend of memoir and
that will help others on similar paths understand the road map to a
filled with insights, The Monster Inside
is an opportunity for
change offered to those who would recover fully from trauma. It is
recommended reading for survivors who want more than just a badge of
but the keys to building a better future.
on the Tide
978-0-9839837-5-0 (pbk) $16.99
978-0-9839837-6-7 (ebk) $ 9.99
Turn Your Back on the Tide (Or, How I Married a Lying, Psychopathic
Wannabe-Murderer and Kinda Lived to Tell) is a hard-hitting
Kergan Edwards-Stout never thought he'd write. After all—sometimes it's
to "let sleeping dogs lie". Or, is it? In this case, it quickly
becomes evident that this is a story that needed to be told not only
sake of family, survivors, forgiveness and moving on, but as a lesson
others who might recognize themselves in it and learn from its
Kergan Edwards-Stout and his mate 'Eyes' are
California married gay men with a one-and-a-half-year-old adopted son.
Kergan learns his partner was not only involved with another man, but
introduced their child to him, hell begins...and it doesn't release him
years. Before it does, everything will change.
Back on the Tide is about this
particular brand of emotional hell, but it's as much about what
naivety and downfall in the victim as about the modus operandi of his
This is just one defining, exceptional facet of the story, along with
lyrical descriptions: "For every lollipop, there is a sucker.
understand Eyes, and his success in my deception, you need to
The ultimate sucker."
His search for understanding explores a gay
man's evolution, romances, flings, and changing relationship with
the world. Graphic sexual encounters pepper this world, along with
reflections on the search for love and meaning.
The processes of coupling, uncoupling,
sorrow over friends deceased, and forming often-mercurial unions before
becomes infatuated with Eyes is covered, along with the evolving
that he realizes when he learns Eyes is not just having an affair, but
deeply involved with and actually wedded to another. And not just one
Another powerful facet to Never Turn Your
Back on the Tide is its explicit survey of the process of
how it works. Kergan's candid explorations of his feelings, reactions,
conundrums during this process is astute and emotionally revealing: "The
daily barrage of lies, attempting to make me feel as it were my own
which were fueling Eyes’ actions, was tearing me up."
Finally, Kergan goes the extra mile to
confront his own personality, needs, and contribution to his situation
therapist. This adds a further dimension of growth to his story which
many personal reflections that readers will readily understand: "I
to feel as if I were an alien being, alone in the vast sea of humanity.
Wherever I went, I felt this “otherness”, and it wasn’t an easy cloak
I felt alone, even in a large group of people. It seemed that I didn’t
easily as others, or at the same things. I had a different perspective
almost everything, and rarely met anyone with whom I fully connected or
ease. I would try my best to fit in, but it never felt genuine. When I
younger, I attributed this other-worldly state to being gay, but as I
discovered, I was just as out-of-place in the gay community as in the
large. And being the odd-man-out is a lonely mantle to carry."
Compelling and graphically candid, whether
it be about gay sexual evolution or emotional journeys, Never
Turn Your Back
on the Tide surveys a powerful series of lessons that are
thought-provoking, involving, and revealing. While its likely audience
gay readers interested in relationships, both sexes will find Kergan's
holds food for thought for anyone who would cultivate kindness and
breaking the silence of shame and secrets to contribute nuggets of
Paperback: 9781603818322 $16.95
All Done With It is the 7th book in the
cozy mystery Dreamwalker
series and tells of Dreamwalker Baxley Powell's challenge to solve the
of a jogger. Baxley's connection to the spirit world may be the only
to solve the puzzle of both this and the mysterious infusion of the
woman's spirit into a deputy's body, rendering him unconscious.
when Baxley uncovers a different kind of psychic threat that could
unborn child, she is rendered helpless by the decision that she will
cut off the one unique tool that could solve this crime, dreamwalking,
to protect her baby.
knows about her and invades other bodies, demanding that Baxley ignore
safety to use her abilities to confront it against all odds, despite
obvious danger. Can Baxley resist its allure, given that it is intent
engaging her at the expense of other lives?
attraction to this story is the undercurrent of psychic connections
not just with other entities, but with her partner and deputy Native
husband Sam Mayes: "His gaze darted to my mom and back. “Our son will
born here, as your mother wishes.” I shot him a quick
private message. It’s okay. We can make the decision later.
trapped by Gentle Dove’s dream."
take place in this dream/telepathy state are clearly delineated in
supplement the outward progression of events with an inward inspection
reveals the hearts and minds of all involved.
compelling, involving element to the story that lends it an
strength in addition to developing a solid mystery that is equally
soul-stealing adversary, conflicts and conundrums over an unborn child,
homicide that links Baxley to an evil entity keeps readers on their
the series, Maggie Toussaint excels at creating a story powered by the
interpersonal interactions of all involved. This compliments the
mystery by adding social, psychological, and cultural depth.
the 7th book in a series would require prior familiarity with some or
the others, but that's not the case. All
Done With It's ability to build on the prior books, yet
remain accessible to
newcomers, makes it a highly recommended cozy paranormal mystery pick
audiences, easily available and compelling.
Golden Bough, LLC
Amerikana follows the life of 24-year-old
Ukrainian sculptor Tanya
Bereza, who won the Most Promising Young Artist award, Biennale Arte,
for her kinetic peace sculpture honoring the Heavenly Hundred (the
had given their lives during Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity five years
of the Mafia boss who once sponsored her, and elicits the help of
student Mark to escape to Miami and beyond. Mark is doing a blog on
searching for the "real" America. And so he unwittingly drags this
Ukrainian refugee into a whirlwind tour of artifacts that attest to
means to be in America, inadvertently involving her in a global mystery
involving Dr. Kane, a global Christian media merger, and intrigue that
their lives and pursuits on many levels.
taken Mark away from his? As their journeys merge and lead each on a
find themselves as well as the heart of America in such unlikely
the Death Valley desert, readers receive a compelling story replete
social, psychological, and philosophical inspection: "Here
I am, Mark thought, in the most forsaken place on Earth,
holding hands with a confessed harlot who may be leading us to
he could sense no evil in her. Perhaps he was the one who was evil for
her. The touch of her hand was more than sensual—it was needy. She was
stranger in a strange land—his land, and she had asked him to be her
with Russian spies and oligarchs, Tanya's dangerous associations that
to stay one step ahead of certain death, and Mark's equally dangerous
into political conspiracy, readers will appreciate the multifaceted
through political and social danger that often mirrors the dilemmas of
times: "The Russians are fracking
us. They look for the fault lines in our society and inject propaganda
amplify them. They try and pit us against each other. When you started
the white supremacist websites, they probably latched on to you. They
divisive messages on both sides of an issue and then their bots amplify
until they go viral. I just didn’t think that they would infiltrate us
provocateurs on our own soil.”
appreciate international intrigue, explorations of American values, an
relationship between two disparate personalities who each harbor their
artistic skills and perspectives on Russian and American connections,
romp across America will relish Amerikana.
Its fast-paced action, encounters, and twists create a rich scenario
believable personalities and a whirlwind of close encounters designed
readers on their toes.
exciting, and hard to put down, highly recommended for readers of
intrigue in general and Russian and American social issues, politics,
connections, in particular. Can Russia influence America's future by
infiltrating the nation's religious system? The adventure is made all
powerful by its realistic possibilities and relevance to modern-day
Indigo Dot Press
Hardcover: 978-1-7328541-4-7 $25.99
Paperback: 978-1-7328541-5-4 $13.99
Ebook: 978-1-7328541-6-1 $ 4.99
The Bone Hunger will appeal to medical
suspense readers who enjoy
mysteries. It returns student Benjamin Oris to the spotlight, though
billed as "book two in a series" and in fact stands nicely alone as
well as complimenting its predecessor, The
three and a half years after Ben's last shocking mystery. Ben seems to
everything going for him, now. He's a second-year orthopedic surgery
he has a son, and he is surrounded by loving friends and family...and
limbs of his former patients begin to appear in a park, Ben suspects
someone close to him may be involved in the killings. Once again drawn
nightmare that both connects and alienates him from his chosen
embarks on yet another quest for justice that relies on his astute
investigative insights for resolution. He also tackles his own and his
coworkers' psychological traumas in the process, which makes for heady,
involving reading as the mystery deepens.
prior familiarity with Ben's world, psyche, or approaches to life in
appreciate his conundrums and challenges in The
Bone Hunger. Carrie Rubin does a fine job of incorporating
just enough past
history to make everything logical without overloading her story with
that prior fans already well know.
man who shows love and affection to his ailing mother, cares for his
supports those around him. This aspect of his character also dovetails
with his concern for his patients both while they are alive and after
struggles of his
daily life mingle with mystery to capture moments of family reflection
insight: "At first Ben wasn’t sure
about his son seeing his grandmother in a coma, but Sophia had
convinced him it
was a good way to gently initiate him into the sad realities of life.
Maxwell shown fear, they would have stopped his visits, but he seemed
sitting next to his grandma, showing her his trains and books,
was equally enthralled."
argue that such quiet family moments and personal life insights depart
tension and thriller components of the plot, they are necessary and
additions that fill out Ben's world and help draw readers into the
reactions and psychological draw of the protagonist's life.
and forming connections with thirty-six-year-old epidemiology whiz
making sure the mother of his child, Sophia Diaz, remains safe against
threats, Ben's world comes alive in many different ways. It's a life
still holds the potential for miracles even as it traverses death and
is well drawn, with all its underlying influences and pressures.
background as a physician allows her to accurately explore this medical
society, portraying its undercurrents with a deft familiarity with its
processes and politics. This adds a sense of reality and purpose to the
blend the investigative and medical thriller components into a
exploration of Ben's psyche and his career and family challenges
story that is gripping, involving, and hard to put down.
Girl, Remember Me
When the Moon Hangs Low
Cynthia L. Clark
Remember Me When the Moon Hangs Low represents romantic
suspense at its
best and follows the evolving love life of divorcee Lana Ross, whose
experiences are peppered with a play list of diverse music. These song
references are wound into the plot and appears at the end of the story
listing of songs by chapter, which can be played during the course of
hires an old fan from high school
to change the locks on the house after her divorce, trouble begins as
re-infatuated Leon Alvarez covets what he can't have and both spies on
plots to win her back.
isn't Lana's only
obstacle to freedom and success
post-husband, however. She meets the handsome, compelling Vincent
"Roadking" Romano, falls in love, and hatches her own love affair
reflecting the sparks of passion between them as a frustrated Leon
again on the sidelines of her life and love focus.
resulting spree of angst
leads to murder and danger
as the three play separate dangerous games that coalesce—Roadking with
focus on Lana's safety after an attack, Lana with her struggles with
danger, and Leon with an evolving obsession that turns him into a
monster and a
cultivates an atmosphere of suspense within its romantic entanglements
leads readers into the minds, motivations, and influences of each of
main characters. It follows each character's evolving definition of
connection, creating an involving tale that changes directions several
it progresses to an inevitable showdown.
the kind of reading
that will keep you up at
night. It speculates on outcomes, decisions, consequences, and the
strong feelings that don't always coalesce right away. It takes time
story's subtler nuances to be explored and play out, and so, of
Cynthia L. Clark's piece is more detailed and longer than one might
This is not a quick leisure story, but a contemplative exploration of
relationships that requires from its readers a patience to fully
the facets of various interpersonal interactions.
who like their
suspense slow-building and steady
and their romance equally pragmatic will relish the atmosphere and
created in Boulder Girl, and will
remain riveted until the story's unexpected conclusion, which leaves
open for another chapter.
Stolen Time Press
Paperback: 978-1734139228 $12.99
e-book: 978-1734139211 $ 3.99
The Friday Cage follows Claire
Chastain through a life
transformed by a stalker who engages her with a deadly purpose in mind.
used to be good at solving others' mysteries, and had rejected the city
once placed her in jeopardy. Now she's on her own in that same town,
powerless to stop the stealthy perp who has penetrated her barriers and
moves as she changes from chalking up her perceptions to paranoia to
that something is going on that she can't quite identify.
process proves to her that she must be on her guard, whether in daily
in love: "The question Claire kept
coming back to was, How could I have walked right into that? Why did I
it coming? Your
mistake, she told
herself, was wanting something in the first place. Desire is need, need
weakness, and the more weakness you show, the more you invite people to
to analyze her life and her inclinations to flee even something she
readers are brought into a world that is filled with more than mystery
confrontation. Psychological growth and confrontations test Claire's
abilities to survive and lead her to question her inclination to run
some hard truths.
blend in a fast-paced thriller that races through Claire's motivations,
inclinations, successes and failures alike. Andrew Diamond's ability to
the greater mystery into her personal failings, shame, and
process contribute to a believable character whose struggles are moving
always giving the impression and idea that she's ok when really she is
thinks she knows herself, at the beginning of the story. Part of the
this thriller lies in her process of self-discovery as much as in the
cat-and-mouse game that draws her in.
solid thrillers spiced with psychological depth and revelation will
find The Friday Cage a compelling
moves in satisfyingly unexpected directions, keeping the reader engaged
evolution of a character who never gives up, on either her pursuit or
Zephon Romance/Zephon Books
Elioud Legacy series, The Harlequin &
The Drangùe, is a satisfyingly complex romantic thriller that
around a CIA undercover agent who leads a double life as a superhero at
Markham didn't expect a confrontation with demons to enter her
vigilante justice, but when an altercation with a sexual predator goes
she uncovers a dangerous world of supernatural warriors who have their
undercover mission and a newfound focus on Olivia's abilities and soul.
confrontations enter the picture of bringing justice to the world,
herself caught between two dangerous creatures—predator Asmodeus, who
cult that threatens more than a few women; and the drangùe who battles him, who also wants Olivia on
his side, but comes to find her allure dangerously compelling and
Replete with confrontations, battles, and
matters of the heart and soul, The
Harlequin & The Drangùe blends urban fantasy and
legend with a powerful
attention to detail that juxtaposes Olivia's strengths with her
using striking action-packed encounters and images: "Olivia
kept her voice confident, shoving aside the knowledge that
the evil bastard had killed a woman in response to her goading. Best to
jabbing at him. “Too bad you didn’t see it, akhi.
Bruce Willis takes out all the terrorists by himself, a
few at a time.” Hiking her dress up, she eased herself onto the
temporarily adopt another persona with her new companion despite its
a permanent possibility? "Maybe
they’d have to adopt their new identities permanently. They could be
Cat and Aleso by day, harlequin and drangùe
by night. Unless otherwise occupied."
this newfound challenge to his identity and mission: "He
could not change his duty or his destiny. It had indeed been a
lifetime since he had learned that adamantine lesson. He was his
He was a drangùe."
their mission, their attraction for one another, and forces of evil
change everything, the harlequin and the drangùe
survey the battlefield of Europe from very different
international flavor lends a fine James Bond-style atmosphere to the
confrontations to keep the plot fast-paced and unpredictable.
fantasy, paranormal adventure, and edgy romantic thrillers are in for a
with The Harlequin & The Drangùe,
which excels in powerful characters and swift action. It's especially
refreshing to note a female protagonist who is every bit as effective,
well-developed, and powerful as her supernatural male counterpart and
The Harlequin & The Drangùe is
highly recommended for its
ability to create a unique, compelling story based on the interactions,
interests, and clashing perspectives of two already-powerful
to join forces and change.
Mitchell James Kaplan
Regal House Publishing
Paperback: 9781646030026 $16.95
Ebook: 9781646030293 $ 9.49
Into the Unbounded Night is a historical thriller set during the Roman first century and tells of young Aislin, who becomes a homeless orphan when a Roman general sacks her village in Britannia. Bent on revenge, she journeys to a capital city richer than she could have imagined, moves from being a penniless waif on the streets to being the consort of a Roman official, gives birth to a disabled child, and starts the Great Fire of Rome (or believes she does), which lands her in prison.
Most stories would end here, but Mitchell James Kaplan doesn't let his young protagonist die on the vine. He creates a further adventure over how encounters with others in prison enlighten her, sending her on a trip to Jerusalem where she again becomes involved in a revolt against the oppressive Romans.
Into the Unbounded Night is an epic journey that operates on many levels: as a historical story of intrigue; a cultural exploration of Roman relationships and their impacts on different peoples in the regions they inhabited; and a lovely celebration of the building blocks of collective memory and the power of individual effort.
Aislin is not the only character in the story who wields an uncommon power and determination against impossible odds. Jerusalem scribe Yohanan is also adept at his art, affecting hearts and minds: "Yohanan’s correspondents never refer to their spouses, children, or private lives, yet he feels a strong fraternity with them. What matters is communication itself, the flow of concepts across the surface of the world and through generations. For Yohanan, the written word seems the most precious form of love if only because it is mysterious and fragile, yet contains the essence of human experience, and transmits that essence to others, much as a perfume transmits the essence of a flower."
Both are involved in preserving their heritage and culture against all odds. As the interests of Romans and other populations coalesce, readers receive a combination of powerfully lyrical description and insights that weave intrigue into the bigger picture of survival on many different levels.
Kaplan takes the time to capture not only the politics and social issues of the era, but the environment and atmosphere in which the people operate: "The springtime month of Nisan sprinkles the Galilean hills with grass and forget-me-nots. The kedem, a hot wind, gusts from the east. Groups of pilgrims dot the roads, trekking across the land of their ancestors with sheep, donkeys, and camels. Most are poor, many destitute, but all imbued with the mad hope that this Passover will bring liberation."
While this attention to detail contravenes the usual haste and nonstop staccato action of the thriller genre, in this case, it lends a depth, accessibility, and believability to the story that strengthens its historical backdrop to attract readers of historical fiction.
outstanding piece that cements action and intrigue with a sense of
purpose, and perspective. This approach creates a compelling, realistic
hard to put down, strengthened by strong characters who clearly
personal interests and broader concerns about their choices and place
in the world.
is a Weed
Robert M. Roseth
978-0-578-62246-0 $13.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Ivy is a Weed tells of a dead university
vice president, a public
relations officer who can't quite accept the police's decision that the
is accidental, and his subsequent search for the truth, which relies on
previous talents as a reporter and his ability to ask the right
possibly the wrong people.
initially attracted to the problem because the body was found right
office, and because he still harbors an inclination to probe puzzling
circumstances. His job as the university liaison is to help the police
media relations on any university business. But his familiarity with
and its leader causes him to step away from this role and back into an
investigative position that leads him straight into danger.
Ivy is a Weed excels in a first-person
narrative that is powerfully
presented as Mike probes too many motivations for getting rid of a
nobody liked: "She coughed right
into the receiver. “Well, you’ve
me there. People at universities enjoy displaying their feathers like
peacocks, but that’s usually where it ends.” “Why did people want him…
disappear?” “I can give you several reasons. He was a disaster as an
administrator. His staff mostly hated him. He was disruptive in
meetings, when he deigned to attend, which was infrequently. He was an
sonofabitch. He made very expensive wrong decisions, repeatedly. And
all, in the eyes of some of the top leadership of the university, he
no wrong, so he was immune from criticism, not to mention punishment.
was, however, predictable from his interviews and references. Should I
statements for their face value and undercurrents, interacts with other
officials on everyday departmental issues, and becomes more entwined
politics and special interests on campus, he discovers that the
have special knowledge of his actions, placing him at risk.
politics, procedures, and an individual's search for the truth creates
engrossing investigative piece that draws readers into a campus
by a death so much as Mike's persistence in uncovering the truth.
President Marchand Yarmouth becomes ever more drawn into Mike's
danger and bureaucracy entwine to a point where Mike must also hide the
Aided by officer manager Stella, Mike embarks on a journey that is
M. Roseth's focus on
recreating campus atmosphere,
politics, and bureaucratic processes contributes to an engrossing blend
mystery that centers as much around the interactions of various campus
as it does on the 'whodunit' portion of the story. Then there's the
which runs through the interactions of characters with a healthy dose
relief throughout as it spoofs the higher education environment and its
comedic, often klutzy processes and peoples.
excels in slowly
building intrigue and tension,
with Mike's various motivations and discoveries exposing different
facets of a
that go beyond the usual
probe of murderers and problem solvers will find Ivy is a Weed
excellent, broader commentary on social institutions and political
interactions. It cultivates characters who each find their worlds
not just by the death, but by the process of uncovering hidden secrets.
Ivy is a Weed is an outstanding romp
through the ironies and
inconsistencies of campus politics. This places it in a category above
beyond the traditional approach to a murder mystery in a highly
read for those who want a fun sense of discovery wound into the very
topic of a campus official's demise.
Jeannette de Beauvoir
Paper: 978-1-7340533-3-3 $12.99
Ebook: 978-1-7340533-4-0 $ 4.99
is a Provincetown mystery that revolves around an inn owner and wedding
who, this year, is hosting the marriage of a movie star to a
Sydney Riley's inn has never been busier as the town becomes flooded
celebrities and their entourages and events. But there's murder in the
as well, and Sydney is soon drawn into not just one death, but the
which it's infected Provincetown and her world.
de Beauvoir does
an outstanding job of probing
not just motivations, but the lives, undercurrents, and
between disparate groups of professionals, strangers, and townspeople.
evolves, readers will especially
appreciate de Beauvoir's ability to capture dialogue, personalities,
perspectives that spice the murder event with interpersonal
challenges: "Listen,” I said, as
persuasively as I could. “No one’s going to talk to the Staties, or
the DA, not these people, and you know it. They come from a place where
eat attorneys for breakfast. But I’m already here, I’m on the inside,
talk to me.” “You listen to me, Riley.” Her cheeks were slightly
gotten under her skin. “This isn’t a game. You’re not Miss Marple and
not Jessica Fletcher. This is a woman’s life, a real woman who had a
who had friends, who had a career. You can show some respect for it by
off.” She paused. “I mean it, Sydney.” “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” I flapped my
her, knowing it would drive her ballistic. “Scout’s honor, officer.”
sassy, forthright social
observations of film
society, individuals who move in circles far different than she, and
of social and political confrontations that change not just a few, but
ripples of discord through the community as a whole, makes for a far
complex, engrossing probe than most whodunits provide.
cozy mystery, Sydney
is more than an amateur
sleuth. She's a businesswoman and community member whose choices in
this murder and its impact will hold lasting ramifications for herself,
family, and her job. The story is thoroughly steeped in P'town culture
sense of place—and this is another of its many strengths.
Set against the backdrop of the Provincetown International Film Festival and injected with engaging characters who face a success story gone awry and impossible situations that evolve from this, The Matinée Murders incorporates the satisfyingly unexpected twists and turns of a superior murder mystery while maintaining a sense of place and personality. These features keep The Matinée Murders emotionally involving and fast-paced to the end.
murder mystery fans
will find The Matinée Murders a
delightful treat that's hard to put down.
The Rhythm of Evil
is a crime thriller set in San Francisco, steeped in its politics and
and astute in its analysis of good, evil, and police actions.
Poppy Garcia, who introduces the
story, was murdered in San Francisco. Thirteen years later,
Inspector Reggie Decker re-opens her closed case's puzzle amid charges
conspiracy, expecting to satisfy critics of San Francisco police
only to find new evidence that changes everything.
As the story moves from an account of police
discrimination and gender and racial clashes to one of re-opening a can
worms, readers become immersed in an issue of the past that becomes
the politics and social issues of the present-day world.
While the prologue that set the scene from
Poppy's final experiences is provided in the third person, the first
onward reverts to the first person. This creates an observational style
will engross crime story readers in the observations, attitudes,
and efforts of Reggie.
More so than most police procedurals, Dennis
Koller takes the time to capture the narrator's underlying opinions
and his role in it: "Becky had been
trying for some time to make me more conscious of my word choices. I
at first, using the go-to excuse that I’m a cop and live in a
male-dominant environment. To me, using the F-word, S-word, A-word,
hell, pick-a-letter word was nothing more than normal, everyday male
conversation, and, truth be told, increasingly female conversation as
least in my world."
This provides insights into underlying
motivations and approaches that go far in explaining how Reggie changes
mind and his investigation, as a result. Admitting that he's anything
perfect, Reggie is willing to change...and this serves him well as the
unfolds and he finds himself involved in more than justifying his
past and present actions.
This depth of social issues, combined with a
newfound investigative approach, sets The
Rhythm of Evil apart from the typical 'whodunnit' procedural
injecting more than a light touch of social inspection, contributing
complexity to the story line.
At every point, Reggie is forced to
re-examine his own prejudices, assumptions, and investigative
creates a multifaceted story that progresses nicely on both an action
intrigue and psychological growth levels.
Readers become immersed in this process, its
results, and the cat-and-mouse dance between politics and criminal
justice. The Rhythm of Evil is an
intriguing premise and evolutionary process that keeps readers on their
to its unexpected conclusion.
The result of a closely-held secret
surrounding Poppy's death could change everything in this a highly
story of intrigue and deception that will leave readers thinking long
Terminal Velocity, a Next Chapter Imprint
979-8643634027 $8.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Stays is the third book
in an African American mystery
series featuring a
white anti-hero in a prominent role, but requires no prior
with the other books in the Pigeon-Blood Red collection in order to
engrossing to newcomers to Richard “Rico” Sanders, who is charged with
protecting his girlfriend against mob forces.
segment of his
ongoing story, Rico is injured and
hospitalized when he steps in to confront a bully, but now needs to
of hospital, in a safe place. His good deed of the past, in rescuing
Paul Elliott, has resulted in the offer of an isolated cabin where Rico
he? Paul's savvy
girlfriend knows that his
enemies will find out where Rico is holing up—and that when they do,
will break lose.
a killer with a
conscience: "He was a killer, but not your
run-of-the mill killer. He was
exceptional at what he did, but he was not only that. He was also a
a conscience. He didn’t kill kids, he killed women only as a last
he only killed people who “had it coming.” Or at least that was what he
himself, because sometimes it was a close call. But at least he tried.
made him unique, as nobody else in his business gave a hit a second
ability to engage the
bullies and dangerous forces of
the world comes with a price tag that has both served him well and
him in his role as an independent contractor who is an 'eliminator' in
uncertain form of justice.
confront not just one bully but the
mob that stands behind him changes Rico's life, sending him on a series
confrontations that tests some of the basic tenets of his belief system
job: "As far as I’m concerned, this
is over,” Rico said. “You had your chance back there and you didn’t
take it. I
won’t give you another one. I don’t kill kids. But if it’s me or you,
sure won’t be me. Understand?” The kid nodded, eyes wide. “I wanna hear
it,” Rico said. “Are we done?” “Yeah, we’re done.” Rico hoped so."
testing the underlying
ethics of a professional
killer to placing him in the role of being a hero against forces of
evil in the
world, Ed Duncan crafts a mystery thriller that is especially strong
its protagonist is forced to continually reexamine his motivations,
skills in the face of new obstacles and life-threatening confrontations.
surprising to note that
a main character who is a
seasoned killer can hold such attractions and insights not only about
confronts, but into his own inherent values systems. Most books about
machines portray only their skill sets and experiences, not their moral
story unfolds with
high drama and good
psychological and social inspection, readers are treated to a
series of encounters designed to keep them both thinking and wondering
the outcome. This combination results in a powerful story that holds
benefit of being both a series addition and a solid stand-alone
thriller. Its underlying social and psychological inspection and
creates scenarios that newcomers to Rico's world will relish as much as
fans of this of this unusual anti-hero.
ASIN: B088ZL6Z97 $4.95
Forgotten is billed as a work of American historical fiction,
it has its
foundations in reality as it presents a romance, explores newly joined
that tackle the lasting mystery of a grandfather's murder, and combines
best elements of a good suspense and love story.
story opens in 1847,
where a cruel overseer on a
slave plantation has his way with a young girl. It then moves to 2007,
novice attorney Darwin faces his first case with the arrival of Uncle
and his niece Camille, who presents him with a historical secret that
3 again moves in
time to 1904, where
fourteen-year-old teen George faces a new home and challenges; then
2002, where Camille Griffin faces the death of her uncle and the need
Darwin's services, convinced that the police are not investigating the
timeline may feel murky
and ever-changing at times,
but the basic premise of the story has, by then, hooked readers into
foundations of a murder mystery which also injects a possibility of
Darwin's probe of the past.
Andrews creates an
ever-changing interplay between
past and present, building characters from different times as the story
evolves. Readers who like linear stories may feel initially stymied by
that keeps alternating between past and present worlds, but this device
essential for building the mystery. After some initial adjustment, the
between past and present begin to feel as familiar as the unraveling of
complex story that flows in unexpected directions.
between a new, dutiful attorney
and a lovely young woman, so does the mystery that they are both tasked
solving. Andrews traverses the boundaries of history and justice with a
eye for observation, problem-solving, and courage as he uncovers
danger to himself and his newfound love.
around baseball, Babe Ruth, and
a closely-held secret grows, readers are treated to a blend of ballgame
history, biography, and an uncle's strange connection to Babe Ruth as
pursues a truth that could either change everything or take her life.
unusual to see legal
process wound into historical
mystery with an underlying, developing romance adding to the
Andrews does a fine job of keeping all these balls in the air, and
on their toes as the story evolves.
readers looking for
a strong inspection of social
and sports history wound into a legal thriller format and
an evolving romance will find The Secret
Forgotten an outstanding work. It keeps its story
compelling and involving through the experiences and growth of Darwin,
Eddy, and a host of characters who are all challenged by the past and
approach to their futures.
readers of legal thriller,
historical fiction, light romance, and mystery, who will enjoy the
legal processes of a developing relationship affected by choices past
The Secret Sign of
the Lizard People
Kevin E. Buckley
Paper: $15.99; Hardcover: $28.99; eBook: $4.99
The Secret Sign of the Lizard People blends satire, intrigue, and an investigative story with elements of sci-fi, making for a genre-crossing read that will especially delight those who enjoy mystery, comedy, and literary approaches to detective procedurals.
When two homicide
detectives investigate a model's murder, they didn't expect to uncover
of a justice-busting conspiracy that changes everything. But the plot
reveal is just one aspect to a story that focuses on the developing
many questions that don't hold clear answers or resolution.
Readers of police procedurals who anticipate cut-and-dried reactions and revelations that all neatly tie together in the end could find some of the subliminal uncertainty frustrating, here. But those who delight in the unexpected and in a story line that often holds no clear path to resolution will find The Secret Sign of the Lizard People a satisfyingly original production indeed.
characterization of homicide detectives Leafy
and Beefy is well drawn and appealing, their investigative
process with its pros and cons is solidly depicted, and the injection
unexpected elements of satirical observation and tongue-in-cheek humor
effective. This witty process even translates to some
behavior between partners who come from very different roots, exploring
relief and ironic observations and gestures that enhance the reader
with a sense of humor: "Beefy was originally from Chicago and
after all this time had never quite managed to wrap his mind around the
that he now lived in an active earthquake zone that was long overdue
major catastrophe. He had still been living in Illinois when the last
substantial seismic event had occurred over two decades ago, but a
earthquake had registered 7.1 on the Richter scale and it had aroused
latent fears all over again. It had also aroused the latent fears of a
new generation of Californians. Leafy, on the other hand, was
Oakland, and, like most native Californians in his age group, never
of a second thought to the occasional rumblings from the ground below.
however, experience a perverse joy in fuelling the fires of his
partner’s well-founded fears."
The interplays between Leafy, who acts as
the voice of reason as matters evolve, and the emotional bomb Beefy,
who is in
danger of having a stroke as tension mounts, provide comic relief to a
The dialogue between the two
quirky commentary. Again—this approach might not be appreciated by
look for straightforward conversations, but will be greatly relished by
who enjoy comedy and plays on words and concepts even amidst a serious
situation: "Well . . . I guess we’d better take some pictures
before it rises like a penis from the ashes.” “Phoenix.” “Say what?”
like a phoenix from the ashes,” clarified Beefy. “You said penis.”
How can the largest city in Arizona rise? That doesn’t even make a lick
sense, Beefy.” “Then you explain to me how a penis makes sense.” “Well,
everybody knows that penises rise. That’s what they do. They rise to
occasion. They rise of their own accord. Some penises are late risers,
penises are early risers, but just about all of them eventually rise to
challenge. If they didn’t rise there’d be no human race. The same thing
to animals. So there you have it, Leafy’s magic philosophical formula:
rising penises equals no people and no animals. I admit, it doesn’t
of a pretty picture, but I believe it adequately and eloquently
With its blend of police procedural and social and political reflection; UFO ironies and encounters; clashes between visions and reality; and alien conferences that threaten change the world, readers of The Secret Sign of the Lizard People should ideally be well versed in comedy devices, open to accepting a blend of detective story and alien invasion piece, and prepared to appreciate the ironic twists that tint everything from worldviews to the presence of death.
Readers looking for
a literary story of intrigue and invasion will find this blend the
choice for an engrossing story that holds no predictable resolution,
the ability to attract and maintain reader interest up to its
ASIN: B087T4V364 $5.99 Kindle
Unhinged tells of therapist
Alexandra Kraig, who
works on a psychiatric ward at Sinai General, and the conundrum she
both patients and a close friend begin exhibiting signs of hysteria and
paranoia. With her own life endangered by evolving confrontations, Alex
motivated to probe a secret particle physics experiment hidden within
Complex walls, forced to become involved in her father's research and
Sinai Unhinged combines elements of intrigue, a psychiatric mystery, and a scientific, ethical conundrum as Alex faces many challenges from her work. These range from patients who become violent and threaten her, prompting extreme responses for her safety and survival, to overcoming her own aversion to her father's science for the sake of her job and the world: "Alex didn’t particularly want to go to the Complex. Her father had cultivated in her a respect for machines, a respect that bled into fear, and her stomach hardened whenever she caught the metallic whiff of science at work."
From the warped perceptions and drive of one
who wants to take the Destabilizer machine
and control one of the greatest discoveries of science to
Alex's own confrontation with ghosts of the past and their impact on
future, Sinai Unhinged moves from unstable mental
patients and peers
into a dangerous game where Alex must serve as bait in order to lure a
adversary out of hiding.
Alex might have made a great physicist, but
her heart lies in doing therapy with her patients. It's an ambition
threatened and changed by the presence of a force which holds great
influence everything in the world.
a gripping science thriller that moves into metaphysical, ethical, and
intellectual realms as Alex faces her own heritage and limitations. Her
portrait of a dedicated woman whose rejection of her father's course
instructions results in a decided shortfall in her ability to address
creates a compelling character filled with both flaws and strengths.
characterization fuels a story line that is thoroughly engrossing,
unpredictable, and centered around a personal and scientific quest that
make the difference between survival and destruction.
intrigue laced with science will find Sinai Unhinged the perfect ticket for a combination of
moral and ethical inspection and intrigue. It's a page-turner that
the start, moves from action to inspection and back again, and proves
put down as extraordinary circumstances take their toll on everyone
S. Lee Manning
looking for powerful plots replete with strong characterization and
international intrigue are in for a treat with Trojan
Horse, a fast-paced action story of American operative Kolya
Petrov, who is charged with tracking an evil descendent of Vlad the
orchestrates the worldwide meltdown of nuclear plants, but he is clever
cannot be touched. Everyone who gets near him dies in agony, and Cuza
tracks his adversaries as he hones a devious plot to benefit from
disaster: "Ion Georgescu neither knew nor
to know about the fifteen nuclear power plants that would experience
or near meltdowns. It was a perfect plan. Georgescu, at Cuza’s
opposed expanding nuclear power plants in Romania—the opposition
as a way to combat global warming and to earn revenue. Once the
occurred, the Romanian public would turn on anyone supporting nuclear
Ion could properly express his indignation at the folly of the present
government. And Cuza, who had invested heavily in companies that
radiation from spills or accidents and in green technologies, would not
his candidate sweep into office but would substantially increase his
killing. His opponents, Kolya's superiors, hatch a plan to plant a
on Cuza’s computer. This requires a sacrificial lamb...and Kolya's boss
him the perfect choice because he has no family connections, and nobody
look for him. A subtle bias may be involved in this selection, as well.
caught between two opposing forces who both want him dead for different
testing his loyalties and abilities to the extreme.
in not just planting a Trojan horse on one side, but creating one which
back out to bite the agency intent on stopping the opposition, which is
becoming like them in the process, creating an impossible dilemma for
romance into this complicated dance strengthens the story line and adds
human connection into Kolya's life, along with further complications to
decision to save himself or continue his mission to stop a plot that
thousands of innocents.
thriller component is exquisite. The cat-and-mouse games between Kolya,
Alex, and a host of characters is well done, and the interplay between
forces who find surprising similarities in their methodology and
crafts a fine series of puzzles and confrontations between all involved.
an excellent job of not only navigating a complicated world of
intrigue, but exploring the underlying connections, motivations, and
that struggle with one another across the game board of the world.
Trojan Horse's ability to craft a
delicate blend of thriller and
romance following Kolya's evolving closeness with another against all
makes it a highly recommended espionage piece. It will attract
appreciate nonstop action, mercurial loyalties, and the solutions of
who find that murder may not solve everything confronting them in their
TMR Press LLC
eBook: 978-0-9991173-5-4 $ 4.99
Paperback: 978-0-9991173-4-7 $15.99
Hardcover: 978-0-9991173-6-1 $27.00
is a World War II espionage spy thriller set in 1942 that centers on
Conor Thorn, whose Allied support assignment changes when an important
cryptographer goes missing in England.
must find him. But
when a fellow savvy ally also
goes missing during the search, he faces the knowledge that a deadly,
Nazi enemy is at work whose skills might rival his own abilities.
evolves is a
cat-and-mouse game that rests not only
upon solving a Nazi conspiracy, but preventing even more destruction
than the war
is currently bringing to the world.
combinations of history, espionage, spy
interactions, and surprises throughout as characters mingle and special
purposes are revealed will relish the fast-paced, character-driven
action in The Ultra Betrayal. It's
a story that
traverses long-time friendships, challenging political and social
and a host of characters who all face ethical questions and ongoing
as their worlds change.
between these individuals power
the political confrontations at work behind the scenes: "Moments
after order had been restored, Minister Kleist asked
Stuben if the scene with Thorn was really necessary. She made it clear
not for her self-control, it would have been much worse. Couldn’t
that Thorn initiated it with his provocative behavior? She wouldn’t let
including Kleist, make a fool of her. Reichsführer Himmler had taught
Nazi ciphers and
decoding challenges to narrow
windows of opportunity to act that could change the outcome of the war,
The Ultra Betrayal crafts a riveting
blend of nonstop action and confrontation, evolving realities and
confrontations, and Thorn's struggle to achieve his mission, benefiting
from a powerful
blend of adventure and description. These elements keep readers
engrossed in his fight for life and mission success: "He
went under again and surfaced fifteen seconds later alongside
the gun boat. He could barely hear the boat’s deck guns for the ringing
ears. Emily tossed a rope down to him. He grabbed it and started to
his arms were weakened by the underwater swim, and halfway up the side,
had to reach down and pull him up with both hands. They rushed to find
from the increasingly sporadic gunfire."
will delight audiences who look for solid historical background in
espionage thrillers. They will find Thorn a worthy character who
vision, integrity, and grit in the face of impossible mysteries and
adverse to survival and success.
is highly recommended for thriller audiences who like real history
embedded in the action. This explosive thriller, steeped in military
that's thoroughly recapped at the story's conclusion, proves hard to
Paperback: 978-1-7349368-1-0 $19.95
Ebook: 978-1-7349368-0-3 $ 9.99
Audiobook: 978-1-7349368-2-7 $24.95
See author's website at alixjans.com for samples of text and audio
Amandla is a novel about the struggle for
power in South Africa. It
begins with a single (true) fact—that Nelson Mandela buried a gun at a
hideout prior to his betrayal by the CIA and capture by the South
Police. That gun has never been located.
conflict and confrontation between Mandela's family and De Beer's
Afrikaner family explore the politics, social strife, and power plays
that country in a sweeping epic that opens with the gun's discovery
Mandela's death. This sets the stage for the story by outlining the
struggles between Afrikaners and people of color in South Africa: "We had no choice,” hissed the man
[addressing Mandela]. “We faced extinction. But your people had a
were supposed to be the golden key to unlock a future of reconciliation
justice. You promised a rainbow nation would emerge from the storm of
apartheid, that together we would rebuild our country and hand the
baton to the
next generation. “Well, the next generation has taken the baton,
it’s running the race in reverse—back across the rainbow bridge—back
anguish and oppression of our past.”
with social issues and modern struggles in that nation and placing all
story that rounds out personalities, motivations, and ideals, Alix Jans
outstanding job of capturing the nuances of South Africa's special
and conflicts for readers who may hold little prior familiarity with
of the nation's struggles and mixed heritage.
progresses, both families face genocide, threats, and misunderstandings
their opponents which are both frighteningly similar and disparate at
time. This ability to delineate the irony of shared experiences
being widely divergent creates a moving interplay of forces and
made all the more compelling for their realistic roots in South
culture and history.
are the nuances of relationships between people
of all colors in the struggle
against apartheid, all resisting the same oppressive
harboring different perceptions of their roles and experiences
society. Jans does a remarkable job of presenting these dichotomies in
thinking: "How do you propose
to do that?” asked Kathrada [of Mandela who proposed “Africanizing” the struggle against
apartheid]. “We Indians have been among your closest friends and allies
the start. Don’t tell me you want to turn your back on us now, shed
multiracialism like a snake’s skin after it’s served its purpose and no
convenient.” The group sat in stunned silence. These were controversial
that went to the heart of the struggle. “It would be hard to reinvent
now,” interjected Sisulu. “The Indians and Coloureds face many of the
issues as we do. And we have a formal alliance with them through the
“Ja,” replied Kathrada. “And you can’t just ignore the role Indians
the conception of the Freedom Charter.” “Or that whites like
Joe Slovo are
part of the high command of Umkhonto,” added Sisulu. “It’s the spear of
the whole nation,
just of one group. Our struggle has never been based on the color of
better understand the many undercurrents affecting justice, freedom,
survival in past and present South Africa needs to read Amandla.
It serves as the perfect introduction and summation of the
country’s controversial history, personalizing the story with
move through generations of conflict in a desperate attempt to win back
worlds and freedom.
Amandla is very highly recommended for
not only its historical
roots, but for its ability to inject thriller, romance, and family
components into the bigger picture of South African issues and cultural
979-8608360169 $14.99 Paper/$6.99 Kindle
is set in the Midwest and offers a sweeping epic story spanning some
generations of a family as it experiences the vast changes of a
that grows along with them. Readers seeking a historical backdrop that
personalizes the trans-generational evolution of a family through a
growth and changes will find this is the perfect item of choice.
The story opens with a short prologue about
the Mesquakie (or Fox) tribe of Native Americans, who experience
challenges with the arrival of the white man. It quickly moves to the
where World War II veteran Joe has moved from farming to driving a milk
The story then moves though infidelity and
shootings, Joe's lack of education and involvement in politics, men who
in the paths of others and those who live with secrets of infidelity
betrayal, and the forces that motivate individuals to step beyond their
to assume a greater community role. Bluff
City is more about the evolution of a town, but the
individuals who live
within it and interact with each other in changing ways.
It should be warned at 326 pages, this is
not your usual diminutive Kindle creation, hastily wrought and
separated into Book 1 of a series. It's a stand-alone, satisfyingly
production that links a city's history with the lives of the people
who aren't born to political or social positions, but work their ways
The juxtaposition of family, social, and
political evolution is particularly well done, as is the backdrop of
lives and changes affecting everyone.
Readers looking for a sweeping, involving
story that doesn't limit its scope or word count, but makes the most of
life examined within its pages, will find Bluff
City a fine read that requires only time and interest in
worlds that move
from the 1950s to the present time in order to prove satisfying.
It's highly recommended for its complete
vision of how people and societies evolve in general, and a Midwest
pulse of development in particular, as the initially-narrow community
accept all peoples and religions in an unexpected way.
Mudville Nine Books/Tokay Press
978-0-9908466-1-1 $18.00 Paper/$9.99 ebook
A Child Left Behind follows five college
students who become
involved in the life of an abandoned baby, and tackles humanitarian
the course of exploring how this child changes everything for those who
part of a different world.
cultivates a blend of social inspection and wry humor that permeates
story. His portrait of the "tiny new caramel-colored baby" that
changes not one but multiple lives is strengthened by the exploration
from various character perspectives. These include Alicia, a restaurant
under cook Clara Birdsong. Clara was born on a reservation, is of mixed
heritage, and, to Alicia, "is America" with her mixed heritage and
difficult road to small success, and others who become involved in the
abandoned baby's future.
privilege, injustice, and the perspectives of different sides of the
to life in disparate characters such as Jack, who see matters from
different viewpoints: "Affirmative
Action, they call it, to make up for white
privilege and the injustices
the past. White privilege my ass. The only such bullshit
I ever had is I
was privileged to see the whites of the eyes of the gooks who came
out of the bushes to try to gut me with their bayonets when they ran
bullets. If you ain’t seen that for yourself, up close and personal
like I did
for three tours, don’t try to tell me about all the advantages I took
granted. Save your liberal bullshit for someone who might be stupid
becomes part of the world of struggling college students that barely
way in the world, Hutcheon cultivates a wild romp through disparities
lifestyles, perceptions, and cultures. This approach will delight
looking for romance, comedy, and cross-cultural encounters all wound
one small life evolve? Because, in this story, little choices translate
differences not just for the gift recipient, but for the community at
large: "If we don’t look out for our
neighbors, for our own community, for the babies and the children who
up here, who else is going to do it for us? Those kids are the ones who
decide what life will be like for the rest of us when we are older. If
take care of them now, why should we expect them to take care of us
should tackle the problems that are right in front of us before we try
the world’s. If we can help Brianna, that’s a step in the right
elements of interpersonal growth and communication, cross-cultural
and lives changed by need provide the heartening meat in a story which
just enough different elements (humor, romance, social inspection) to
compelling to a wide audience.
their social adventures steeped in a different sense of political and
perspectives that fall together in an unlikely manner over the future
small life will find A Child Left Behind
poignant, fun, revealing, and hard to put down.
Religious Fanaticism Book 3: Ira Neebest and
The First Coming
979-8650212935 $12.00 Paper/$3.00 Kindle
Steve Shear's 'Confronting Religious Fanaticism' series is best
prior readers of this trilogy of novels. Each book uses a different
to examine the life and times of Ira Neebest, who survived being
ISIS for writing a Nobel Prize-winning novel, The First Coming,
the evils of religious orthodoxy, e.g., a book within a book.
book, Ira Neebest and The First
introduces further details of lives entwined with Ira's, from his
Rebecca (introduced in An Eye for
Eye), who continues to struggle with her Hasidic
roots and modern
religion's incarnation in an increasingly dangerous world, to Ira's
wife Natalie Perrogi (Black Hearts
& Hungry Bears), whose psyche is also
changed by religious
fanatics, rape, and kidnapping.
As with the other books in the series, Ira's journey in this third book (and Finale to the trilogy) continues, this time exploring his reasons for writing The First Coming which challenges not only his world, but the lives and hearts of everyone around him as it confronts closely-held religious ideals and spawns a whirlwind of violence and controversy.
Fatwa against Ira, he becomes lost in the jungle while Natalie is in a
Arizona. That represents the culmination of his greatest critical
the most sacred of beliefs in the world and the outpouring of revenge
changes all of their lives forever.
readers of the
series will find this a satisfying culmination that draws together many
of inspection and circumstance. The journey to a jungle hell replete
ancient gods such as Hermes and Aphrodite, Ira's production of the
Manifesto that changes the/his world, and his ongoing probe of the
foundations of religious fanaticism makes for a gripping story. Like its predecessors,
Book Three is
satisfyingly complex, yet lively in its ever-changing scenarios and
to draw together disparate pieces of Ira's life and those around him,
important revelations about his book's impact, makes for engrossing
and changes as Ira navigates both the pinnacles of literary success
from his own book and personal challenges that come not just from Fatwa
proclamations, but the Catholic Church itself.
reactions and their wide reach are intriguing: "The
Pulitzer Prize was more than the powers within the Catholic
Church could take. In the case of The Da Vinci Code, both the book and
movie, the Church strongly urged its parishioners to boycott both and
conducted its own marketing campaigns to that end. However, those most
were relatively low in the ecclesiastic ranks. Indeed, the only high
leading the charge were Cardinal Bertone, Archbishop of Genoa and
Amato of the Vatican. Most of the noise came from lower level
officials. In the
case of The First Coming, the Pope himself stepped up to the plate. In
live broadcast and in the official Vatican newspaper, he referred to
as a blasphemous abomination and its author, a Jew he noted, in league
Satan himself. Then, after again issuing his previous reassertion that
Catholic Church offered the only true path to salvation, he spoke to
to those of the Catholic faith who were on that path. He issued a
the path to salvation might also be closed to them should they take in
Ira Neebest and The First Coming is
certain to hold a perspective
that will offend any deeply religious believer. It also presents an
unusual involvement in the Coming, and his key to unlocking unexpected
From the perils of orthodoxy to the ironic tests that can either destroy or save Ira's world, readers continue the romp begun in the prior books, reaching a surprise conclusion.
Those seeking a literary and religious commentary of the foundations of fanaticism, passion, and change will find Ira Neebest and The First Coming a fine continuation of a surprising story and a fitting, supportive pillar concluding the series.Confronting Religious Fanaticism Book 3: Ira Neebest and The First Coming
Post Hill Press
978-1642934205 $16.00 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
1970s Love Story is set in New York City and follows the
experienced by an Italian-American man who falls in love with a
on the rebound from a failed
love which changed his self-perception and life when he meets
actress Elvira Vaughn, who overcame much adversity to achieve her goals.
admires many things
in Michael despite his current
state of affairs, and gives him a sense of wonder and support that
regain some of his self-confidence to form a new vision of life's
possibilities: "The energy that
Elvira gave off was pleasant. She acted like she didn’t have a worry in
world. It almost seemed as if she had life figured out. She was the
opposite of Michael in this one way. Her easygoing attitude
intuition is that
Michael is special and
different from other men she's known. She also suspects he's a helpless
romantic whose gentle inclinations are part of what kept him from
also admires Elvira,
and finds himself immersed
in her life and the desire to support her talents: "Michael
wanted to do anything in his power to take her suffering
away. He couldn’t picture Elvira doing anything terrible. To him, she
fragile and gentle. She was this amazing woman who created a life for
in one of the world’s biggest cities. She was inspiring and talented.
so much to offer the world. No matter the terrible deed, he would never
her. When Michael loved, it was true and unconditional."
readers receive a gentle story of
evolution. Romances usually revolve around attractions between
individuals who discover in each other some degree of inspiration and
connection. These two are nothing special in this regard, discovering
other some of the qualities they both admire and long for in themselves.
other romances would
create clashing, high drama
centered on issues, differences, and obstacles to affection, however, Finding Forever's more pragmatic
approach eschews contrived action in favor of a slower process of
discoveries both about themselves and each other.
high-octane drama and
confrontation will undoubtedly find this process slower than some,
Sciarratta paints a simpler picture of developing love and its side
turn, offers a more
familiar probe of daily life
and the changes romance introduces to it: "Michael
and Elvira lived the next few months in total happiness. No
perfect, but they made it work. A relationship is like playing tennis.
always on your feet, and you need to be ready to flow with the changes.
chemistry with your partner is important. The game never gets dull and
serve always offers something new."
assume the guise of thrillers,
wildly undulating between clashes and connections, or artificial
perfection. In adopting a more reasoned contrast of two very different
interact and change each other, Sciarratta crafts a warm, realistic
love that will especially appeal to romance readers looking for slower,
heartfelt evolutionary revelations.
audience will relish
the portrait of urban affairs
and the love between talented individuals who find that their
changes everything. Finding Forever is
recommended for romance readers looking for something less sensational,
compellingly realistic, and truer to life's ups and downs than most.
Kenneth W. Harmon
In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow is a
literary historical fiction
read that adds a spiritual element to the story of bombardier Micah
dies on a mission over Hiroshima, but finds his spirit trapped in Japan
living with a Japanese war widow who faces the rigors of war.
her hard life turns into a connection as he begins to communicate with
her dreams. This forms an unusual bond that leads to his desire to
from the events that will destroy Hiroshima.
impart a warning that will save lives? Even as Micah settles into
to his military service, he is affected by an intuitive child who
his spirit, a mother who is somehow attached to him by more than
and a newfound charge to save those he was once assigned to destroy.
crafts a story replete in psychological, ethical, and philosophical
as not only Micah but Kiyomi and her daughter are changed by war and
strange relationship. Kiyomi's efforts to protect what she loves while
struggling with what fate has handed her are beautifully, evocatively
portrayed: "Kiyomi thought of what
she would do if Ai died. How could she go on? How could she face the
without a reason for living? She remembered Ai standing in the rice
surrounded by fireflies, her body aglow. The moment had been surreal
but the serenity
she experienced at that instant was within reach. Their fates balanced
delicate scale, and her decisions would either maintain the balance or
them crashing down."
living and prevent the inevitable, and can love overcome hate?
In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow is gentle,
hopeful, and thoroughly
engrossing. It offers a very different approach to the Japanese
American encounters in World War II in a powerful saga that takes the
explore the cultures, psyches, and war-torn hearts of the times.
readers who look for a more literary approach to these events will
welcome In the Realm of Ash and Sorrow
ability to craft a strong interpersonal, cross-cultural connection that
courage and understanding in lives under siege.
Kincaids: A Novel
979-8654461964 $14.99 Paper/$6.99 Kindle
follows the rise and fall of a wealthy family that experiences hard
dissolution, financial and social challenges, and changes. It is
for novel readers who enjoy sweeping productions, and closely examines
legacy of Irish immigrants who move to the Midwest to experience
faith, economics, and family structure, decades later.
devout James Kincaid
loves financial success as much
as he loves his religion. His sons, scattered around the world,
politics and their own special brands of conflict between beliefs and
experience. Family secrets closely held are threatened as new
evolve, leading James' sister, journalist Catherine, to come into
conflict between her desire for justice and the realities of her own
is looking to
shake up the world by reporting
injustices. It's ironic that her own family's choices may wind up at
the top of
her list of exposés
she makes the choice that threatens to reveal them. Her ability to
reveal problems gets her into trouble as a portent of the bigger issue
confront in the course of this story's evolving political and social
problems: "After she had calmed herself, she
looked through her notes for possible future stories. She focused on
interviews she had gathered from minority-owned contractors who said
been shut out of bidding for city construction and road maintenance
“Those assholes at city hall have another thing coming if they think
intimidate me,” Catherine said, looking at her cat, who stared and
going to shake up their world again.”
the Kincaid family
as a microcosm of world ills
and experiences, William Graham crafts an absorbing tale of change and
unrest not just in America, but overseas, as the family spreads out to
influence other events.
combination of strong
characters and their individual
social and political pursuits, and decisions which begin at home and
into different directions, is part of what makes this story so
changing perspectives, contrasted with the influence of heritage and
dilemmas, creates a story that is realistic, absorbing, and
seeking novels about
influences, life choices, and divergent individual paths that change
and come full circle to affect family relationships and future history
find The Kincaids an engrossing
of money, influence, and changing times. It lingers in the mind long
final event is revealed.
in the Wild
Wendy Isaac Bergin
978-1-951490-44-7 $16.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
T. Sebastian Morrow decides
to move from the big city of Houston to rural Texas in search of peace,
what he finds instead is anything but tranquil in Lessons
in the Wild, a survey of life changes, adversity, and the
challenges introduced by changing not just one's environment, but one's
has spent his life
in the city, building his
career in its urban setting. But when 9/11 strikes, he is forced to
the world and his ideals, discovering that they no longer align. If he
change the world, at least he can change the environment which no
him. The hills to the north and west of the city seem like a good place
moves from the frying
pan into the fire, readers
are treated to the results of a life changed and challenged by not just
environment, but the people it introduces into his life.
young Leo de Graaf,
a gifted musician who
holds the power to foresee some of his future, and his lovely mother,
who is equally compelling in a different manner. There is his sad
acknowledgment of the impending death of his wife Mary Catherine from a
and his involuntary vision that Silvie is already assuming the kind of
importance in his new life that Mary Catherine once held in the old one.
has expected this
final blow for decades. Now
that it's here, the demons he acknowledged in this life long ago return
haunt him just as surely as life's new possibilities.
continue to affect all of them even
in their remote rural locale. Lessons in
the Wild blends a unique style of psychological and
that injects a reflective tone into Sebastian's life connections
Catherine led her life
in spiritual denial. The
demon in her responded to Sebastian's prayers. As Sebastian explores
spirituality in both himself and the gifted, visionary Leo, he explores
issues such as racial prejudice in both Texas and himself ("You grade me lower because I am black.")
both his spiritual beliefs and his role as a music teacher, friend, and
step, he is
confronted with challenges to his
thinking, his liberal ways, and his spiritual views ("He
had never been accused of racism in his life. How could she be
so wrong and so convinced she was right at the same time?").
story unfolds, it's evident that the wilderness lies not just in his
environment, but in matters of the heart.
Sebastian's evolution keep readers
engaged as he moves from one world to another, and as the social issues
affecting the nation escalate in the microcosm of his own, more limited
result is a story
replete with various threads of
influence, from witchcraft and spirituality to changing social issues
hold the power to transform Sebastian no matter where he chooses to
multifaceted story of action, change,
and transformation will find this literary piece quietly compelling,
the ability to reach a wide audience from young adults to adults
looking for a
powerful story of one man's search for peace in a conflicted, changing
978-1657172319 $15.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Loyal Son is historical fiction at its
best, set in 1846 on the
cusp of the Mexican American War and centered upon eighteen-year-old
immigrant Patrick Ryan, who has been sent to America by his family to
new roots. There, he finds himself immersed in a social turmoil when
anti-Catholic Bible Riots break out and destroy everything he's begun
the army and fight is based as much on their lure of payment via land
the possibility of rebuilding his life and fulfilling his promises to
family both in America and back in Ireland, as in the interest of
fine job of capturing not just the politics of unrest on all sides, but
effects of death and loss on the hearts and minds of everyone involved.
Patrick faces this crushing loss and considers the lure of the army in
than one way, readers gain both historical and personal perspective on
conflict's wide-ranging issues and effects.
family back in Ireland to think of, but his newfound loyalties to
country are sorely tested by its internal conflict and the progression
between two nations. Diehl follows these dual themes with a solid story
introduces readers to the atmosphere and cultural and political
concerns of the
the experiences and ideals of a new immigrant to the evolving conflict
and the decisions he must make both for his present-day goals and his
future, a compelling story emerges which uses strong characterization
sense of place to create an evolving story of internal and external
Son's ability to blend adventure and discovery with internal
questions of purpose and future objectives, wound within real
and facts, makes it a compelling exploration especially recommended for
of immigrant experience and early America's evolutionary process. This
recommended story does a fine job of incorporating individual purpose
perspective with the bigger-picture cultural, social, and political
ASIN: B085D98HDK $3.99
tells of new graduate Jurnee's journey of discovery when she receives
to teach in southern India. She sets off to realize her dream of
teacher in a country foreign to her American upbringing, but in keeping
her Indian roots.
Kannan's use of the
first person captures
Jurnee's observations of this very different culture and the role of a
in India: "I always loved an
opportunity to get out and see the village, but something different
this time. The father of two students picked them up in a boat. A boat!
a small fishing boat, and they entered it from a small dock before
across the backwaters. I looked around and was the only one amazed.
their normalcy, but it was my paradise. Well, almost
paradise. There was no Wi-Fi and I rarely had cell phone
new position, Jurnee
doesn't just teach in
classrooms but interacts with the students and their families,
cultural and social lessons about India that teach her about her own
'Jurnee Miss' learns
tricks of teaching her clever
students and absorbs the new cultural milieu, readers embark on their
journey from her perspective, which reveals both India's society and
special challenges of teaching in a foreign country.
seventh grader saves
Jurnee's life and she learns
further lessons about her viewpoints, ambitions, and role in the world,
Jurnee's sense of place and home comes to rest in the relationships she
in this strange new world.
interested in India,
teaching challenges, and
cross-cultural encounters will be enchanted by Jurnee's story of
which evolves on many levels.
are astute, the sense of
India's culture and environment is nicely drawn, and Samantha Kannan
knack for creating scenarios that are compelling as Jurnee's story
stereotypes of Indian people and reflects Samantha Kannan's own
encounters, albeit with a fictional overlay.
memories Jurnee forges as she
builds her place in a world both unfamiliar yet entwined with her own
creates a story that is compelling, uplifting, and revealing. A
Journey is highly recommended for readers interested in
Indian culture and
teaching challenges alike.
979-8648170971 $10.29 Paper/$3.62 Kindle
No Precedent holds a lively story of two
old Lancaster friends, Bob
Swarbrick and Richard Shackleton, who face the challenges and ironies
politics and times as they navigate a world where truth is stranger
fiction. It's a world facing Brexit and Donald Trump, where these two
raising families, find that uncertainty and social and political
their vision of who they are as well as their futures.
a romp through past and present worlds, injecting humor into its blend
social observations and interactions between friends and family: "Sophie sees my golden time, the early
sixties, when for that short season the white working class got a real
this country’s culture, as male-focused and at most a useful first step
real feminist struggles that were to come. She’s read her Betty Friedan
how fifties’ and sixties’ housewives used to pretend to live a domestic
needing Valium to take away the dissatisfaction they felt from missing
out on a
career. She claims, probably rightly I have to admit, that only the
contraceptive pill changed that, although I don’t believe that either
my Mum or
sister were on tranquilisers as a result of their supposed domestic
serious at different moments as Bob and his best friend Richard
successes, failures, and changing times alike. No
Precedent brings readers into a heady series of discussions
range from business success and failures to religious beliefs, changing
and challenges to set beliefs as events move through 2015 and into
concluding with a 2036 postscript unusual for its roundup and
No Precedent does an outstanding job
capturing lives of turmoil and
chaos, including a host of characters who affect Bob and Richard's
and choices as the story moves through the ups and downs of this
especially powerful in his ability to contrast everyday life's ironies
evolution of one man's routines and goals, set within the bigger
worldwide changes: "Not all is so
dismal. It’s summer, the sun is shining in Nether Piddle, and I’ve a
weekend planned. The apocalypse facing the nation has been put on hold.
just a pity it can’t stay like this permanently."
style and whirlwind series of events battering Bob and Richard, their
and their friends creates a winning story which is thought-provoking
all in one. No Precedent is a novel
not about the future, but about the near past and present which creates
pre-plague and the social, political, and economic forces that shape it
the stage for what is to come.
recommended reading for readers who want an entertaining, enlightening
of how we arrived at where the Western world stands today in 2020.
Red Skye Press
978-0-9907102-5-7 $3.99 Kindle
will appeal to readers of historical fiction set in Italy and those who
immigrant experiences firmly rooted in the 'old country'. It opens in
Italy, where the majority of U.S. Italian American immigrants have
Coriello family, who lives in a small fishing
village, is led by powerful matriarch Raffaela, who faces a difficult
an abusive estranged husband, ten children, and poverty. The resentment
relatives who should be helping but are jealous of any small success
experiences through her survival tactics is mitigated by the loving
these children as they age and help their mother.
arrival World War II
changes everything as her older
children go to war and their Jewish friends face increasing prejudice
danger. The kids who immigrate to America harbor dreams of rescuing the
family, but are thwarted by growing prejudice against Italian
immigrants in the
land of opportunity.
does an outstanding job of building strong characters in mother and
following their divided destinies through poverty, war, peace, and
confrontations with injustice on many levels. It probes the social and
political influences of leaders and peers in both Italy and America,
the foundations of prejudice and the lasting effects of poverty,
crafting the feel
of an epic production as it follows the changing lives of the entire
another hand, such a
wide-ranging discourse might
have proven confusing or overly complex. A.G. Russo does an outstanding
job of bringing all the characters to life, and their responses and
not just logical, but compellingly presented.
As the story unfolds, readers are led to
anticipate outcomes that sometimes change. This satisfying feel of the
unexpected injects a realistic tone to the story, in that not everyone
and prospers. The observations of prejudice, both within Italy among
peoples (between Northerners and Southerners and Italians and Jews
in America, where Italian American immigrant prejudice rises against
backdrop if war, make for especially important insights.
Readers come to care about many of the
characters and will follow the changing courses of their lives with
The result is a story that vividly captures
not just one key point in Italian history, but the immigrant experience
roots of change and better understanding among all involved. Only
Our Destiny will
delight those with a special interest in immigrant experience and
heritage. It is highly recommended reading for those who want in-depth
history-based details paired with believable, moving characters' lives.
978-1733320245 $15.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Silver Moon is the third book in the By the Light of the Moon series and is
set in Ontario, Canada
during World War I, where Luis Wilson becomes involved in espionage and
away from the romance he was offered previously.
deeper inspections of war and how it changes individuals, purposes, and
perceptions will discover a fine philosophical thread of reflection to Silver Moon which is present from the
first pages of the story: "The man I
used to be haunts me and grieves me with accusations. I am a killer. I
liar. I am a cheater. I'm worse than my father ever was. Does war
us a bill of rights to become such things?"
indeed, for the opening slavo in a powerful saga that needs no prior
introduction to prove enlightening, compelling, and accessible to
well as prior series readers.
from Halifax and Canada to Belgium and the front, a series of brushes
death and the realities of trench warfare permeate a thoroughly
of inspections that move through war experiences, romance
survival tactics alike.
in creating the kind of war story that weaves together the different
perspectives, and wartime impacts on its characters in a story both
hopeful at the same time. A wide cast of characters provides different
perspectives on events. This story moves from Oshki and Jimmy, who face
increasing concern that the romances they left behind will not survive
confrontations in the trenches of the western front, to Lily, who faces
challenges of prejudice on the home front as she tries to rally support
faces accusations of being a spy, and Rose, who is not an outspoken
fosters her own brand of courage and commitment.
is a story
of love, death, hope, and differences that follows how different
fight the war in their own ways, realize their dreams, and evolve
and uncertain love in the face of disaster.
of World War I that, more than most novels of the times, creates a
cross-comparison between numerous characters who experience the war in
Silver Moon is very highly recommended
for readers who want a
compelling inspection of love, duty, and battle based on historical
flavored with the struggles of very different characters intent on not
surviving, but creating a better future for themselves.
and Daughters of
Daughters of Toussaint uses a historical backdrop to explore
the life of
Isaac Breda, who seeks to re-spark the revolution of his famous
Toussaint Louverture by fostering a new non-violent revolution that he
will have more of a lasting impact than his father's attempt.
story embraces his
famous father's perspective
and political attempts and outlines an alternative approach to
goals. It is told through alternating chapters of history that contrast
story of Toussaint and his compatriots with Isaac's modern attempts to
encourage Toussaint’s spirit in his people.
waters in developing a
romantic interest over Marie-Noëlle, who assumes a key role in
developments that belays her original quest for a very different career.
Madsen injects some
unexpected twists and turns
into the story, which moves from the kernel of Isaac's idea to its
reincarnation in Marie-Noëlle's character, who is forced to assume
responsibility for an idea that didn't begin with any relation or
her part, other than Isaac.
seems to have
everything he wants in Haiti,
including romance. But, somehow, it all gets away from him in
that pit ideals against practical applications: "He
never thought it would be this stressful being wanted by two
beautiful young women. Isn’t this the kind of situation most young men
of? He remembered reading Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and envying
loved as he was by both the beautiful Cossette and the also attractive,
goal birthed in France
moves to New York and Haiti
to change the lives of all who revive it, Madsen creates a moving
focuses not just on the revitalization of a political goal from the
how it changes the lives, psyches, and hearts of all who become
finds her modeling career changed forever after a tragic outcome from
uprising injects Isaac's ambitious plans into her world.
looking for a vivid
novel of the Haitian struggle
for freedom from founding to present day, from its French roots and
to modern times, will find plenty of solid history within this evolving
of a son's passion to re-enact his father's dreams.
historical backdrop is
well done, with plenty of
family interactions and insights providing logical and
dilemmas and reactions to past heritage and modern conflicts. The
who harbor their own different goals affected by events in Haiti are
exceptionally well-drawn and believable.
Daughters of Toussaint is a compelling review of not just
but individual motivations and purpose against the backdrop of
Readers who choose this account for its insights on Haiti will relish
Madsen's ability to create a compelling story from real elements in
recommended, lively novel of inherited passion and personal and
And After The First
Earth Day, 1970
David M. Guion
ASIN: B087GXYQ75 $7.99 Kindle
second expanded edition
of Before And After The First Earth Day, 1970
points out that the first
Earth Day celebration did not begin environmental efforts, as is
assumed, but in fact made the public more aware of existing
issues. Some of the leaders called into question not only the
the environment, but social institutions and democratic
environmentalism have offered a general
focus that includes Earth Day, but David M. Guion provides a specific
the federal government's role in environmental management well before
the event. This focus provides a broader understanding to the history
environmentalism in a survey that should be on the reading lists of
concerned about the history of environmental regulation and management
outline the state
of environmental law,
beginning with the Truman administration and how the Eisenhower
administration's economic policies encouraged wastefulness. Perhaps
importantly, it outlines what Earth Day did wrong and how its leaders
omitted or changed some important truths and insights about human
with the environment.
the most important
(and, likely, controversial)
chapters in this book is 'Attacks on Mainstream Society', which offers
food for thought. For example, the issue of overpopulation led some
authors to question basic democratic principles: "In
1967, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights had declared
that any decision regarding family size rested with the family alone
and no one
else could make it for them. Hardin protested vigorously. And he
impossibility of promoting population control by appealing to
would require coercion. He denied that it would require arbitrary
some distant bureaucracy, but how else would a critical mass of people
relinquish their freedom to breed?"
unity that Earth
Day brought to the discord that
we now experience, and how the event changed the concept of
from a specialty approach to a mainstream issue, David
M. Guion's important history should be required reading for any
environmentally-conscious individual. It is also a useful textbook for
about American democratic and social processes. It moves from national
codes and changing approaches, incorporating global views and
a picture that evolves from the microcosm of local events and responses
national and international efforts.
The First Earth Day, 1970 is very highly recommended. It
provides a rare glimpse into history
altered by one event's lasting impact on decision-making processes and
and political perceptions of environmental law. It is an important
environmental literature that provides many social and political
made in other environmental history titles.
Wealth After The
Age In Place LLC
978-1735075501 $10.00 Paper/$3.00 ebook
might believe that
this is a nonfiction title,
but it's set in 2022, is narrated by a cook in his 70s, and traces the
financial changes experienced in a world changed and challenged by a
too-realistic apocalypse in Building
Wealth After The Apo-Collap$E.
books that hold
'collapse' in their titles are
dystopian or apocalyptic explorations, but this is categorized as
visionary fiction. Once readers delve into the twenty-five-year history
narrated by protagonist Nigel Oopscrap, it's easy to see why.
thing, it identifies
the very different reactions
and impacts of those living on day-to-day paychecks from those more
who saw the collapse coming and responded in different ways.
choosing the central view
of a man who strives to make
the world a better place by his participation in it, David Bonn creates
compelling saga. It examines unfolding social issues and conflicts from
perspective of a man who attempts to do the right thing while being a
in a system replete with injustice and corruption.
messages in this story is how
easily injustice and oppression emerge and spread. Oopscrap observes
that: "All over the country, families who
could no longer afford separate dwellings were moving in together. More
sat empty and apartment vacancies soared. Everybody kept waiting for
to help. But in the spring of '10, we knew help wasn't coming. But it
easy lesson to forget, at least for a while, when things picked back up
things fall apart,
evolve, or are ignored until the
tipping point is reached, and how economies change to profit some while
injuring others, are all covered from the personal perspective of a
lives through some of the most challenging years in history and
from not just a political but a personal perspective.
approach lends a far
more in-depth, personal touch
to the story of one individual who reflects on how social and political
happens. This creates a compelling blend of realistic scenarios based
present-day events and futuristic insights based on choices, decisions,
personal, political, and social events.
stories, economic decisions and
trends are the major focus in Building
Wealth After The Apo-Collap$E. From historical precedent in
Native Americans were subjugated and repressed to the impact of
special interest groups, this book's uncanny blend of fiction and
lends it an aura that is compelling partially because its events are so
rooted in modern history and historical precedent.
Stephen King's The
Stand, it traverses elements of realism and builds on
awareness and observation to create a powerful account. This approach
attract not just political, social science, and visionary fiction
sci-fi fans who look for writings that are standouts not just for their
and social observations, but for their ability to connect individuals
bigger picture that is social revolution and change.
After The Apo-Collap$E is highly recommended as a story that
familiar and frightening all at once. It's packed with in-depth detail
possible alternative future and generations seeking wealth, faith, and
of purpose to it all after the Apo-Collap$e changes everything.
is a book
about nature written from an unusual perspective: the different natural
which describe their lives.
story opens with the
philosophical perspective of an
ancient redwood tree ring whose descriptions of life are astute and
inviting: "We do not have individual brains,
we are as a ring mindful. We understand life—just as this forest does,
the earth itself does. We are cognizant of diurnal rhythms and solar
We stand; we do not stand for something else. We respond to the world
moment. Every moment is integral within the cycles, and every moment is
for us. We are rooted in earth, nourished by air and water, and growing
blend of natural history
facts about the redwood
ring, the history of its place in a world dominated by man, and its
contributions and connections to the cycle of life makes for an
consideration: "Stability doesn’t,
however, suggest stagnation. Our ring and this grove always grow,
change. The grove’s canopy is deep and multilayered. Most nearby trees
than two hundred years old, but each stand adds two or three trees per
And each stand loses about the same number to wind and fire and flood.
us, among the woody debris, fallen trunks lie in various stages of
ongoing reformation of matter. The grove, quite simply, exists within a
cycle of birth, growth, death, decay, and birth again, all the while
the same chemicals. And within this cycle, myriad organisms, including
wheel through our lives."
the pleasures of Cycle is that its
perspective is always
shifting, from a wise and
ancient grove of trees to an alpha wolf mother whose place in the world
reflects her ability to survive and confront life: "The
world itself is neither predator nor prey. At once always
beautiful and always terrible, it does not take sides. Sometimes it
sometimes it takes. It cycles dark and light, cold and warm, as often
taking more from me than it gives, but it never allows the balance
among us to
tilt too far toward predator or prey. The world understands life too
blend of nature
observation and philosophical
inspection successfully creates a multifaceted, engrossing series of
that will delight readers interested in the life cycles of creatures
unique brand of
first-person inspection from the
plants and animals of the world offers readers a chance to take a deep
absorb the sense of wonder, survival, and life cycles from a non-human
perspective, and, most of all, to understand the motivations,
history, and interconnected lives of creatures on this planet.
recommended reading for natural history fans interested in developing a
understanding of the place and perspective of nature and its cycles in
and non-human affairs alike.
The Founding Fathers and the Birth
of a Nation
Thomas E. Sawyer, Esq.
PitBull Literary & Publishing Services
Paperback: 978-1-7327371-5-0 $14.88
Hard Cover: 978-1-7327371-6-7 $28.88
With the 2020 election year
getting ever closer (and,
indeed, for any election year), it feels important to review the
politics of this nation. The problem is that many such histories either
background knowledge, or are designed for students with little
the political process.
That's why readers of all ages who
seek a basic
primer to be used as a refresher course in American history will find The Founding Fathers and the Birth of a
Nation State a solid account of the instigation, ideals, and
nature of exactly what constitutes a 'republic'.
The basic contention here is that
should originate with the people and flow upward in a reflection of
interests. It shouldn't originate at the top and move downward, which
indicate a monarchy or dictatorship.
Thomas E. Sawyer cements these
notions in a
historical and political examination that includes social, political,
philosophical reflections about the intentions of the Founding Fathers.
probes how these have been translated over the years, under different
presidencies, from early to modern times.
Doctrines such as the separation
of powers and how
they enacted in American political circles and events are reviewed with
than an attention to historical precedent. They identify points of
challenge in carrying out the Founding Fathers' written edicts: "... the “Doctrine of the Separation
of Powers,” standing alone as a theory of government, has uniformly
provide an adequate basis for an effective, stable political system.
Consequently, the practicalities of government have necessitated the
of this doctrine with other political ideas—the theory of “mixed
the idea of “balanced government,” and the concept of “checks and
form the complex constitutional theories that provide the basis of
Western political systems. Nevertheless, when all the necessary
have been made, the essential ideas behind the doctrine remain as vital
ingredients of Western political thought and practice today. This
true in the American political experience; where the principle of the
“Separation of Powers” constitutes one of the fundamental foundations
Footnoted references point to
supporting different examinations of various plans, enactment
conventions and legislations, speeches, and political processes.
These form a solid foundation of
pinpoints the underlying intentions and meaning of the Constitution and
Founding Fathers, leading to astute analysis about their incarnations
challenges today: "Although the
founding Fathers did not foresee the present day, rampant diffusion of
bureaucratic functions among the three national branches, the “Doctrine
Separation of Powers” and the correlative “Principle of Checks And
still represent the essence of the American political experiment; as
conceived in the Federal Convention in Philadelphia and as evolved in
present day transformation."
Founding Fathers and the
Birth of a Nation State is highly recommended as a primer
democratic processes. It's especially valuable and well-documented
modern audiences who may already have a cursory interest in the
who want deeper explorations of the history and intentions supporting
Diana Wiley, Ph.D.
Love in the Time of Corona: Advice from a Sex
Therapist for Couples in
Quarantine is an advice guide that blends sex therapist Dr.
tips for better relationships and sexual experiences with the new
physical intimacy in the time of coronavirus. It promotes reigniting
relationships and sexual intimacy between partners who are sheltering
fostered by the age of intimacy can benefit from quarantine proximity.
Restrictions can lead to actively working on and revising one's
This will result in lifelong benefits beyond quarantine.
therapist, Dr. Wiley well knows the types of stress and discord that
from long-term isolation and prolonged periods of being cooped up
while she acknowledges these challenges, she also poses thoughts,
exercises, and ideas that lead to better communication, understanding,
sexual experiences between couples. The foundation message in this book
"Enjoyable sexual activity between partners can distinctly
couple’s mental and physical health."
this activity can be revitalized, offering couples new avenues for
understanding and pleasure. They discuss feedback, creating boundaries,
that go beyond survival strategies and into the realm of actively
improving one's relationship while sheltering at home.
every bit as inviting and important for long-term connections as
hobby or expanding one's leisure life.
lessons are introduced in the course of this exploration, from
meditation to unlocking deeper states of consciousness through mindful
breathing, leading to better sexual satisfaction.
place have more to work on than cleaning the house. This book places an
emphasis on sexual and psychological relationship strategies that take
but which have been proven to work. Sheltering in place gives couples
unprecedented time together and unprecedented opportunities for
relationship and sexual encounters.
Love in the Time of Corona is the perfect
starting point for this
kind of self-improvement. It is highly recommended reading for those
in place, offering a series of guidelines for better interactions.
978-1-7341262-8-0 $23.95 Hardcover
Crash Course in Confidence for Women is a motivational
exploration of how
women can build self-confidence based on their inherent instincts and
strengths. It comes from a Midwest mom who also happens to be a noted
motivational speaker and successful business owner, as well as a speech
revelations are couched in both humor
and practical experiences. As she weaves her own personal anecdotes of
minivan-driving mom into broader questions of exactly how to build
self-confidence, women receive a treatise that is specific and
of motivational books
talk about building
confidence. This, after all, is the cornerstone of almost any endeavor
After delivering the admonition, however, too few follow up with a game
for doing so—especially one based on the reader's prior life skills and
ability to deliver these connections, reinforce them, and show women
how to drive from point "a" to point "b" makes for an
accessible, lively, pointed survey on how to take the next steps into
self-confidence and a better life.
titles imbed humor
in their subjects: 'P.S.-ing
my way out of the box', 'Ever tried to skype in Arabic?' and
'Teenager+Shopping=Angst'. Each chapter concludes with a 'rearview
section that sums up the lessons to be learned in each of the fun,
motivational titles go,
this reviewer places Minivan Mogul
towards the top of the
vast list of inspirational reads for women. It stays true to women's
experiences while helping translate familiar routines and talents into
unfamiliar confidence-building territory and goals. It also provides
admonitions based on Alex Perry's personal experiences, cultivating a
is lively, chatty, and packed with a satisfying blend of concrete
backed by personal reflection: "Have
you looked back and wondered what would’ve happened if you’d just told
other person the truth? Or have you ever had one of those moments where
were brave enough to tell the other person the truth? Have you ever
acknowledged the awkward truth of a situation and had it work out for
better? It can happen, you know; you just have to be brave enough to
white lie and own what’s really happening in the moment. Here’s a good
of when I really, really didn’t want to own up to the awkwardness that
going on in my life because I didn’t want to admit I was struggling
motivational titles are weighty and
translate the onus of change in a daunting manner. Perry's Minivan Mogul is just the ticket for
women who want more
accessibility, a strong dash of humor, observations of life, and
tied not just to daily experience, but their own inherent talents and
abilities. It's a highly recommended read for women seeking clear
paired with appealing stories of transformation and new possibilities.
Travels With a
Black Rose Writing
978-1-68433-512-1 $19.95 Paper/$6.99 ebook
Travels With a
Dead Man offers a
story of magical realism as it tells of Jane Takako Wolfsheim, who
she suddenly can alter time and space after meeting a man calling
Luis Borges, the famous literary figure, with whom she falls in love.
Jane suffering seizures in a park where she first meets the helpful but
enigmatic stranger Borges, who sees that she receives medical
returns to figure more heavily in her life, but in a less positive
her parents are murdered and Jane flees for an elusive safety, danger
her and Borges, leading her to question her sanity, her purpose, and
My Travels With a Dead Man is
satisfyingly original and riveting
from the start. It follows Jane's struggles with her Japanese and
roots, her uncertain love and relationship with Borges, and her
with both inner and outer forces that keep her future uncertain: "And I should trust you because you can
quote–someone famous? Well, why the hell not? It’s sure done wonders
with Borges.” But then I regretted my words, not because I didn’t
and not to spare Bashō’s feelings, but because I still loved Borges,
blindly, without reason. Uttering his name was the worst pain of all..."
Jane as she traverses the boundaries of a world she'd never quite
in her life, and as she comes to accept her special role as a
space and time who holds the power to change what feels like an
immersed in literary explorations of time travel, prophecies, tests of
and determination, and Jane's drive to assure that events turn out in
for the sake of herself and her unborn child. They will find these
nicely into a complex, moving story of an effort to reshape the Borges
into something that rejects the evil that is slowly penetrating Jane's
adventure components are nicely woven into a story driven by Jane's
personality, passions, and love. They satisfactorily depict how a
ordinary woman falls into an extraordinary world and considers and uses
powers to change it. Fantasy readers, especially those with some
with Borges, who are interested in a fast-paced, engrossing story of
faith, and changing relationships between men and women will appreciate
flavors and complexity of My Travels With
a Dead Man.
readers on their toes with new insights into Jane's relationship with
her companion, and her spirituality are all exquisite flavors in an
time travel journey.
College and Life
Barbara Roquemore EdD & Jeff Duffey MD
Cairde, Karuna & Hedd Publishing, LLC
Search: A Guide for College and Life is a
recommended college guide
for teens and those who would council them, covering many basics of
to college and the adult world that other college handbooks neglect.
emotional strategies, changes, and life challenges into the college
scenario is a welcome one in a survey based on and encouraging
and analysis. Search teaches teens
how to blend their life experiences before college with a focus on what
expected to challenge or change those skills and focuses. It expands
coverage to include general life skills assessments and how to handle
pitfalls: "Remember that every phone
is a camera. There could be hidden cameras as well. Never allow
yourself to be
blindfolded. You don’t want your picture to show up on a porn-site or
media. Don’t set yourself up to be blackmailed. People can take
video clips of you using Skype. Your webcam can be hacked, so don’t
front of it. Never allow yourself to be tied up or taken away from the
“be alone.” You should seriously consider planning never being alone
you’re far away from home. You should consider never trusting a
always being on your guard."
the college-bound teen newly away from home and adult supervision focus
practicalities of classes, studies, and college demands. The inclusion
overall life focuses and adjustments that stem from newfound
value that expands the bigger picture to life itself.
wide-ranging as handling a peer's suicide, surveying diversity
coping with stalkers and unwanted attention, and developing a
of friends while navigating the social pressures and problems of peer
bibliography, references, and further resources makes for an essential
for the college-bound new adult. Search:
A Guide for College and Life should be a graduation gift for
heading for independence and the start of building a positive, happy
First and Other
Old-Time Baseball Stories
Sunbury Press: https://www.sunburypressstore.com/Stealing-First-and-Other-Old-Time-Baseball-Stories-9781620063835.htm
fans who enjoy
memoirs, history, and sports
reflections are in for a treat with Stealing
First and Other Old-Time Baseball Stories. It captures the
adventures, and often-zany stories of players and baseball moments that
have achieved broader exploration, using language and description that
'you are there' feel for readers who would use their home easy chair as
essays pair numbers with
nostalgia to bring the sport and its notable moments to life. It does
employing captivating language to draw in readers, who will feel as
are not just observing a game's action, but reveling in the lives,
personalities, and perspectives of its players: "You'd
have to be a real grump not to like Germany Schaefer. Even
grouchy web trolls might have cracked a smile watching this guy play
If anyone who ever played major league baseball processed a sense of
was William Herman Schaefer. Nicknamed 'Germany' because of his
Schaefer was quite the clown..."
and explorations typically
don't appeal to those not already thoroughly immersed in the sport
tend to belay the personalities and emotions of players in favor of
observations of the sport itself. Chris Williams cultivates a unique
inject excitement and personality into each story, and this in turn
lessons that embrace both statistical descriptions of events and the
who contributed to historic successes or failures.
from baseball classic
writings and interviews,
recreations of personalities and events, and summaries that offer
bigger-picture thinking about the sport and its players craft essays
will prove inviting even to those with minimal interest in baseball
or history—although it's the avid fan who will best appreciate these
surveys of baseball history.
incorporates photos, a sense of
humor, and affection for the sport. For some, the many statistical
details may prove overbearing, especially given the allure of the
personality-based observations made in the introductory tale.
again: this is
primarily a recommendation for avid
baseball fans who enjoy historical explorations backed by statistical
representation. The blend of amusing anecdotes and baseball statistics
supporting key moments in the sport's history will attract and delight
who hold a passion for the sport.
Transcendcorona is autobiography and
social inspection writing at
its best, documenting the new age of living with coronavirus's threats
attention to daily detail that future generations will find exact and
engrossing: "I am The Doctor of all
things in print, the MJ of syllables and sky. I read, pre-read,
release. The galloping numbers fail to compute. I smell the slightest
hear the gentlest whisper of something harsh and snarling; so I pull my
teens from school to quarantine. Their wrath cuts deep. “No one else is
And “Why are we even _____?” Unspoken profanities simmering beneath the
of our family soup. By evening, after the microphone spittle of Rudy
tests positive for COVID-19, the NBA closes the doors on its entire
Followed by More Breaking News: Tom Hanks has tested positive, too. If
Gump can get it . . . ? A box of chocolates now tastes bitter."
of transformations and change with a keen attention to capturing the
and details of daily living. His inspections come with dates and follow
timeline of tragedy that absorbs daily news as he awaits better
options: "Clouds billow across the rolling
of Oklahoma City. As morning becomes afternoon, the uptick of a
wind. It is the same weather on the same date at the same time that I
envisioned at the end of my first novel...Tomorrow, the
anniversary of the event, now to-be-forgotten in the COVID-news
many bodies. It’s 40,000 now, 168 then. It took us six years to
study-blame-execute. But how to kill a submicron murderer without a
Then we used a cocktail of chemicals and needles; now we need much of
They say twelve to eighteen months. But they do not truly know, how
will take to find it, and how much longer to manufacture enough for
all. In the
meantime we click stories. Sew masks. Plant gardens. And wait. Wait.
capture the nuances of these strange times, weaving social inspection,
experience, history, and the ironies and inconsistencies of life during
in a rapidly changing era, makes for a special blend of literary
social critique. The social and political commentary is
of this is
the 2020 recognition of Memorial Day weekend, when Hoetker examines his
celebrations and connections, contrasting them with present-day events:
"On Memorial Day the flags wave at
half-mast. The former vice-president in a Delaware cemetery wears black
and aviators, looking Top Gun postapocalyptic.
My grandfather is at Union Cemetery east of town. How I loved him when
here. You can’t love dirt and headstones...What was, what is. A golden
with a wingspan like Kawhi floats and swoops between stray snags.
p.m. local time a man elsewhere is choked then dispatched. 3rdBorn,
drop a heartbeat, run it back: One
man’s loss is my loss / One man’s loss is your loss / One man’s loss is
loss / One man’s loss is God’s loss. Back to the Valley,
moaning. That chasm between 100 and 109 degrees. That’s Thursday,
rising, risen, a flag waving America onwards, In
Memoriam, for our Departed,
lowered to the very bottom of the pole."
blends of past and present help delineate just what is different about
and point in time, in contrast to the past. His literary inspections
voice move beyond singular experience to expressions that will resonate
universally with those living during these times.
Transcendcorona's compelling blend of
autobiography, social and
cultural inspection, and the politics and processes of world-changing
highly recommended reading for anyone interested in an astute document
times for present-day acknowledgement and future generations alike.
Hoetker's prior works A Leg in Oklahoma City
and BLACK CYANIDE/white pill, all profits from book sales of Transcendcorona
will be donated to charities, nonprofits, and educational institutions
with a common vision of dispersing peace.
When Your Child Has Cancer
Dr. John Poothullil, MD, FRCP
New Insights Press
When Your Child Has Cancer: Insights
and Information to Empower Parents surveys the basic facts about childhood cancer
with the purpose of "giving
parents and professionals new insights into childhood cancers,
and why they are occurring among more and more children."
From how children can have cancer without
gene mutations occurring to a section of three illustrated stories
use to talk to a young child about cancer, When
Your Child Has Cancer covers
many different aspects of the disease and its causes and impact.
35 years of medical practice expertise lends
to this discussion of why, how, and when children come down with
insights into controlling cancer with food choices to organizing
the child undergoing cancer treatment, When
Your Child Has Cancer blends assessments of various options
with a focus on how to explain facts and handle the child in treatment.
approach elevates it beyond a singular production, offering recipes,
book stories, medical advice, and insights on alternatives to make for
all-in-one guide for recovery.
cancer diagnosis for their child, it's often not possible to consult
references to get all the information needed to handle their questions
as address their child's needs.
When Your Child Has Cancer resolves this
problem by having
everything under one cover, and should be the starting place for any
facing a new diagnosis and cancer's challenges.
$12.95 Paper/$6.99 ebook/Hardcover $15.95 (Nov 24, 2020)
mystery for children ages 9-12, blend in history from Colonial America,
include the usual 7th grade school angst and what do you have? 7th Grade Revolution, a genre-defying
children's story that revolves around 7th graders who stage a
revolt that ejects adult guidance, only to stumble into a treasure hunt
pits them against the FBI.
whirlwind of a middle-grade book feels too wide-ranging. There is a lot
on. But, powered by the characters of troublemaker Dennis Alexander and
reclusive Rhonda Snodgrass, 7th Grade
Revolution quickly becomes a compelling survey of not just a
revolt, but its unexpected aftermath.
an adventure mystery wound into actual history based on real-world
premise originated with a charter school's classroom experiences with a
bloodless 'revolt' scenario that encouraged students to learn about and
the challenges faced in early America. This story evolves a scenario in
7th Grade wins, but now has to form a student government, determine
and run the school. Gardner imagined what would happen if this
were true...and 7th Grade Revolution was
the real roots of the tale, the complete Twitter stream from the actual
classroom experience at Exploris Middle
School appears at the end of the book.
pursue this exciting story, they will find it far different than the
approach, more challenging and wide-ranging than the typical mystery,
exciting than either genre.
Winterfield wrote Trouble at Timpetill,
about a group of spoiled kids whose parents disappear and leave them to
town. The students in Gardner's
story, in contrast, have taken a more proactive hand in their future,
than having adults force their independence and decision-making
now they have to support their decisions and struggle with some very
processes: "We can’t agree on how to
run the school, how can we fight the FBI?” Brooke’s voice trailed up to
color illustrations by Luke Spooner pepper this adventure, adding
strength to an already-formidable story that proves hard to put down.
readers interested in a problem-solving adventure story strengthened by
interpersonal relationships and student connections will find 7th Grade Revolution an outstanding
read. It offers delightful action paired with thought-provoking
just on leadership and decision-making, but how a group of disparate
bands together for a greater purpose and ultimately reaches their
an unexpected lesson for all.
7th Grade Revolution is very
for middle graders looking for lively adventure
Call for Independence
Ebook: 978-0-999-8822-2-1 $3.99
Call for Independence
is Book 2 in the Scarlet Reign series for young adults interested in
action stories of independent, proactive teen heroines facing adversity.
Natalie once saved the Sisterhood from
disaster, but its new requirements of commitment leave her
exit even as it once again requires the strength of her abilities to
new threat: independence.
Pulled in different directions by her
evolving powers and her connections to both the Sisterhood and the
and forces in her own life, Natalie finds herself in a whirlwind of
good and bad as she tries to steer a course both within and away from
Revenge, justice, a new quest, and a
struggle against the darkness both within the world and in herself
fast-paced story. It builds on the prior book Malice
of the Dark Witch, but requires no prior familiarity in
order for newcomers to quickly become involved in this dark tale of
faith, spells, and power struggles.
Strong descriptions of violent struggle make
this a recommendation for mature teen to adult readers, who will find
story compelling and thoroughly engrossing.
R.D. Crist excels in outlining a dilemma in
which Natalie faces her own moral and ethical decisions over betraying
and heritage or forging new paths in the world. From battles with
spells cast on both sides to the lures of order, protection, and
powers, Call for Independence is
equally strong in confrontation and battle and inner inspection.
Natalie is an appealing character who
courageously faces the forces and conflicts within her evolving self as
from the witches and those around her. Some support her quest for a
kind of life: "I’m sorry to intrude
into your matters, but you’ve been there for the Order many times: a
twice, guiding their youth, and all as a child yourself. You have a
Have you not been selfless enough for their causes? You deserve to be
and this order’s direction is in contrast to that happiness.” “But I
leave the Order—” “When you can save it again,” finished the seer.
“It’s been a
pleasure for me to know you. You are indeed a unique and beautiful
but Parker is right, you are too naïve to be involved. I hope you see
me as a
friend, and as a friend, I believe we can handle this one without you.
grown too much, too fast. It’s okay to take some time for yourself.”
Teens will readily relate to Natalie's
moments of self-discovery and choices, and will find this story, like
predecessor, offers a solid blend of action, confrontation, and
self-realization. It's more than a notch above most other fantasies or
adult quest stories, highly recommended for mature teens who will
Natalie's changes and dilemmas as familiar facets of their own lives.
Paperback: 978-1-73486-080-1 $12.90
eBook: 978-1-73486-081-8 $4.99
By is a
fine young adult coming of age story centered on Carver Goodman, an
American student who has just turned seventeen, and dreams of becoming
addition to the usual
challenges of school, bullies,
and his ability to appreciate the pleasures of local nature, Carver
acknowledges that he’s at a crossroads in his life where everything is
to change: “...lunch was where I could spend precious
friends, something I valued because I knew our time together in high
would not last forever.”
ability to accept life’s
inevitable twists and turns
and his changing role in it is one of the facets that keeps readers
engaged in Getting
draw is Jaire Sims’s
ability to accept new
beginnings that include a blossoming relationship with his good friend
Jocelynn, questions about sexuality and life direction, and the choices
faces in honing his abilities in more than one way. More so than most
of African American young people, Sims cultivates the ability to
multifaceted young personality on the cusp of various types of changes
confrontations in life.
approach creates a
character that has ambition,
searches for his life purpose and connections, and who moves in a world
getting by is not the only choice. In his case, getting by would be
into an easy relationship with his good friend. But opting for
brings Carver into dangerous territory: “Donnell
looked sexy not only
in khakis but in jeans as well. I know it didn’t count as cheating, but
I looked at Donnell and some of the other boys at school almost made me
like I was cheating on Jocelynn. When Donnell saw me after getting on
he greeted me with a nod before sitting in the back. I was lucky enough
smell a hint of his cologne when he walked past me.”
young adult stories
of African Americans also
adopt relatively singular approaches, placing their characters in
influences are different. In creating a talented, aspiring young man
facing both the pinnacle of success and some of his greatest personal
challenges for building a different future goal, Jaire Sims goes far
getting by with stereotypical scenarios and approaches.
Who is Carver honoring when he makes decisions based on the expectations of others, and how can he stay true to himself and his loved ones while staying on an upward trajectory towards success and personal life satisfaction?
and options on the cusp of
adulthood create a compelling, uplifting, realistic story of a
successful young man and introvert who faces pressures and influences
those usually wound into African American coming of age stories. Getting
an exceptional, thought-provoking read.
the Lean Stalk
and the Lean
Stalk is illustrated by Sarah Gledhill and cultivates
as it tells of Jack, who lives with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Garbanzo,
farm in the little town of Pinto.
parents are good
farmers, but Jack is not. He has a
different talent in his community: mending things.
there is a threat to
the magical bean crop, can
Jack's talent help?
to the problems, a
Giant child appears, who
doesn't look like anyone else in the community. He hides in the
family's fields, miserably isolated. Jack's talent may be mending
now he has two problems he can't solve. Or, can he?
reading skills will
lend to easy enjoyment of this
'fractured fairy tale' which offers lessons about prejudice,
talents, redirecting abilities and perspectives about life, and
fallout from grief.
receive a story about
consequences of actions and choices, the unexpected side effects of
grief, and isolation, and how one individual with talents that are
can change the world.
evolves; highly recommend for
parents seeking lessons for young readers about tolerance, wisdom,
979-8632617598 $8.99 Paper/$2.99 ebook
resident who well knows the routines of her home and the snobby
vacationers who visit the area on holiday. But when she encounters
visitor from a nearby wealthy community, an unexpected relationship
counter much of what she's come to believe in her life, in The Lake Never Tells.
choose this story for its blossoming friendship between peers and
find it holds a darker, more inspective undertone when a body washes up
beach to bring the children not just new relationships and possible
but a clash of worlds that threatens Zoe's home and future.
delve into a
story that surveys privilege, politics, social differences, and
between very different individuals who learn to not just tolerate one
but love each another's unique perspective on life and their special
going on in The Lake Never Tells
a simple story of an evolving relationship. The other thing that is
a clash of cultures and perspectives that brings Zoe and Ethan to the
misunderstanding and danger.
summer story of change in a manner that toes the line between a sweet
growth and understanding and the changes life brings to each
of their world and social standing.
closer to the truth about the dead body and Ethan and Parker's
readers find themselves thoroughly engrossed in a mystery and a secret
could change everything not just for Zoe, but all who are involved in
provide a story that touches upon many different points lends to a
read that maintains reader interest with strong characterization and a
plot that continually introduces new elements into the story.
from romance to intrigue will keep young adults guessing until the
conclusion. This approach crafts a riveting story that's more than a
summer beach tale, but the engrossing saga of worlds colliding and
extraordinary friendships forged from adversity and new dreams.
The Lake Never Tells's unique blend of
mystery, romance, and
discovery is highly recommended for teens who want a story replete with
relationship challenges and change.
The Quarantine Bears
Jay & Meg Sutherland
The Booth of Us
978-0-578-72239-9 $$29.99 (coupons available)
The Quarantine Bears
pairs a rollicking two-line-per-page rhyming picture book with the
story of a
family of bears who awaken from hibernation expecting to enjoy another
in the sun. But something is different this year...as they go for a
they observe that everything is closed, and people are wearing masks
outside: "The stores were all closed, the
streets were all bare/and a few folks in masks almost gave us a scare!"
They turn on the television to find that
they have woken up to a nightmare. What's a bear to do? Lay in
As they develop new habits indoors and under
new rules, the bears discover there is actually "plenty to do", and
forge new habits and lives for themselves as they await safety and
The Quarantine Bears's
realistic yet friendly tone makes it the perfect item of choice to help
very young adapt to new realities. "This
can't last forever" is one of the messages in a lively story
a terrific job of pointing out new realities and how to live a good
Parents will find this appealing family of
bears and their observations and decisions provide easy lessons for
kids on how
to live under COVID restrictions, yet anticipate a positive new day in
It's highly recommended for parents looking
for an introduction to COVID rules and their rationale, for the very
978-1-951490-52-2 $11.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
is a young adult coming of age story that revolves around the summer
of seventeen-year-old Nash, who leaves his friends in Portland to live
woods with his grandfather. Much like Jean George's classic My Side of the Mountain a decades ago,
Ann Worthington creates a saga that begins with a desire to run away
something, but evolves into a story of running into one's strengths and
already likes "being
outdoors, unconfined by four walls." His affinity for
to his ability to make an unusual choice for his life when everything
and he is accused of murder.
the Mountain, this isn't just a story about outward survival
speaks of family relationships, inner resilience, and adapting to the
influences and struggles.
escalating debt and his
mercurial relationship with
his grandfather to his personal involvement in investigating a crime to
his name and more, Nash's ability to navigate death when it comes home
personally, combined with his changing relationships with the world,
might wonder at the
appropriateness of the murder's
injection into the overall coming-of-age theme, but Ann Worthington
tasteful job of exploring Nash's evolutionary process as he considers
decisions, new adjustments to life and the revelations of a family
the kinds of inquiries that lead to devastating revelations that change
everything. Worthington creates a powerful tale that is embedded both
and family and social adversity.
teen to new adult
readers will find Tales of Nash a
poignant story of family
ties and growth which introduces an evolving dilemma and Nash's revised
in the world. It's highly recommended for audiences looking for
blends of mystery, social and family issues, and the kinds of decisions
bigger-picture revelations maturity brings, to usher adulthood into
Who Watch from Afar
from Afar is the first book in the 'Magic's Erosion' series,
young adult readers with a coming of age fantasy that revolves around
walk out of the world into an Earth that is both familiar and
unfamiliar at the
same time. It's another realm that exists on an alternate plane and
for magical partnerships and resolution for the dying Earth's dilemmas.
narrates her story as
a special gift and lesson to
Leah, but as she interweaves a complex series of encounters and
is tasked with confronting the magical legacy she's inherited and the
Petra's decisions to change the course and presence of magic on Earth.
and readers absorb
Petra's story, mission, and
its unexpected impact, a fine story evolves of both vigorous attempts
old wrongs and a passive watch that has affected the world through
much as action: "Earlier, you raised
a question about my complicated relationship with my mother. Well, one
find it so difficult is that I have now become her. The movement I led
coopted by those who do not wish to continue the slow march of equality
planet, and have instead used the last few hundred years to seize and
the bondstones, circumventing what we accomplished through new magic.
erected magical borders to pose limits on usage, and they’ve restricted
of magic to only themselves. It’s been disheartening, as I’ve only been
watch from afar.”
adults will become
absorbed by Petra's dilemmas and
history, Leah's inadvertent discoveries and newfound realizations about
realities of her life and world, and her latest task to accept newfound
and responsibility in much the way Petra did, but with different
from Afar builds a fine interplay between the characters of
worlds and reviews the lasting impact of their decisions. It's
powerful in exploring the psychological and social connections that
Petra and Leah's decisions and approaches to life and this latest
challenge: "Leah continued, “Look, I guess I
thought if I came here you could give me some power or some weapon that
just fix everything and I could go back to my life. I can’t even hold
job—there’s no way I can live up to this.”
Watch from Afar is like an entire prologue that sets the
stage for books to
follow by crafting a believable human protagonist who just wants an
easy way of
solving huge problems both in her own life and for Earth.
developments, the interplays
between characters, their heritage, and their future responsibilities,
focus on how world-changing events are introduced and explored makes Those Who Watch from Afar an excellent
choice for young adult fantasy readers who like their quest tales
grounded in strong, believable characters.
is the setup. Book 2
should be eagerly anticipated
by the fans of Those Who Watch from Afar.
978-1679012112 $15.00 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
is an appealing, simple picture book story that focuses on a very basic
concept: the fine art of giving to others.
reading skills (or,
ideally, adult read-aloud
assistance) will lend appreciation to this story of Loxalillya, who
a Dreammaker elf in the woods. Their interactions assume a surreal
he introduces her to a brother she never knew she had.
Loxalillya encounters the
little boy and others who
all seem to need some form of assistance, she learns important lessons,
including how to receive without question or doubts.
will be able to
tailor the lessons of this story
to the very young, while kids with good reading skills who pursue the
themselves will find it holds many pointed lessons: "If
you don't understand something right away it doesn't
matter...gain confidence by it. Don't stand in the middle of the road
about the good that came your way."
editing, even for
this short piece, would have
corrected peppered grammatical issues such as mild punctuation and word
choices. Adults seeking a perfectly written message might look
the message about giving that this book contains in a series of
thought-provoking enough that they won't be easily found in competing
book stories for this age group, while the full-page color
who look for stories
for kids that embed values
lessons and perspectives about life choices will relish the kindness
of this story of giving and better understanding.
Clear Fork Publishing
Ordering: www.amazon.com, Clear Fork Publishing, and
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com
fine picture book story illustrated by cartoonist and artist Terry
creates appealing drawings to highlight the story of young people who
show support for their school by staging an anti-violence walkout.
dual story about
political involvement and
friendship which not only advocates calls to action, but shows how
can get involved in social change.
is afraid to go to
the walkout, given that the
school principal has stated that only older kids can participate. But
friend Maddie is determined that they be involved in some way. But, how
younger kids join their elders?
Stella worries, Maddie
maintains that "This walk should be for all,
small." But Stella just wants everyone to be safe, even if
only one holding that line and testing their friendship in the process.
concluding note about
school violence and
demonstrations completes the realistic story of two best friends who
political choice that divides them when they should stand united.
Adults looking to explain activism and social participation to the very young, as well as friendship's boundaries and challenges, will find this story of a determined girl and her too-cautious best friend to be engrossing and educational. It's perfect for initiating beginning conversations about political involvement, school violence issues, and risk-taking.Walkout
Ao Collective Publishing
Paperback: 978-1-952348-00-6 $17.99
Hardcover: 978-1-952348-01-3 $26.99
is the first book of The Last Gift series and follows royal headaches
challenges when Princess Elenor's brother dies, leaving her next in
inherit the Throne of Lirin.
opposite side of her
reign is rebel Gabriel, who
has spent his life fighting oppression, and who believes that
royal family is one of the keys to liberation.
expected to find
his latest task challenged by a
close developing relationship with the institution that is the
his country's tyranny, while Elenor discovers that her love for her
kingdom can be mirrored in an alternate reality that holds truths every
powerful as her own convictions.
unlikely meeting and
alliance of these two disparate
individuals, and the rise of ancient forces initially released by their
creates a fantasy story that is about more than the rise of magic.
Allegra Pescatore holds a powerful ability
to set a scene and relationships, then give them unexpected twists so
Elenor is not only uncertain of her supporters, but comes to see that
presents itself in strange ways: "You
still haven’t told me who it is we’re meeting,” Elenor noted, rocking
on the balls of her feet. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught a
in the shadows. She leaned into Fedrik, breath coming faster. “An old
mine.” Instead of reaching for the door, he turned towards her. Taking
Elenor’s hands in his, Fedrik looked down into her eyes. “Whatever
tonight, know that before all else, my loyalty is yours.”
These juxtapositions of faith, life
perceptions, clashing forces, and values which unexpectedly come full
align those on opposing sides drives a fantasy replete in action,
confrontation, surprising truths, and reexaminations of everything from
alliances to puzzling events.
The undercurrent of ethical, moral, and life
examination will delight fantasy readers looking for philosophical
within character interactions in the course of a vivid series of
events: "Are you speaking of the Tellens? Why
do you take their deaths on your shoulders?” “Because they are!” If he
what had happened, how could he not see that? Yet Robin shook his head.
you tell them to rebel? Did you tell your father to forgo due process?
thousands of choices that brought them to that end, and you were only a
piece of that web, but more important than all of that is the question
are not asking: what if this was their best path? What if they did
they were meant to do, and that their Passing will help the world by
opening your eyes?”
As the story builds by adding two gods out
for vengeance, powerful being Daemon's realization that Elenor's love
everything, and a host of sub characters from mock dragons to Mark
stranglehold on the country, sending Gabriel on a murderous mission
changes its course, readers will be delighted by an epic presentation
keeps alliances shifting and life purposes in flux.
the greatest strength to Where
Shadows Lie is in
well-developed characters. Readers will care not just about Elenor and
and their motivations and lives, but those who surround them. This is
hallmark of superior writing.
to other books in
the epic fantasy genre, Where Shadows Lie
is somewhat longer
than most. This is because its characters and action are nicely
thoroughly compelling, giving the story a rich flavor that makes it
hard to put
down, as evocative as the best epic fantasies in the genre.
Where Shadows Lie is very highly recommended for mature teens on up—anyone who wants their action-packed story firmly grounded in the hearts and minds of not just the main characters, but everything that surrounds them.Where Shadows Lie
Neil D. Desmond
978-1949180541 $19.60 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
story in Angels
of Stockholm paints a very different portrait of decisions,
and different cultural and social connections between disparate peoples
the world, from Asia to Europe and America. There is a sense of wonder
achievement in all these tales, which consider revised purposes to life
circumstances which both separate and draw people together.
literary short stories
offer social and personal
inspections filled with quiet tension, depth, and moments of despair
by revelation and change.
all kinds of circumstances,
from a 1917 encounter in 'We May Be On Our Own' which follows a mother
daughter facing an explosive disaster in Halifax in the absence of a
husband to an art reflection in 'The Masterpiece' in which a part-time
of art history finds this world connects to life's meanings in
beyond and within art. These make Angels
of Stockholm: Short Stories a compelling read which employs a
times, settings, and cultures to depict the struggles of ordinary
facing changed lives and adversity.
Stockholm: Short Stories opens with 'Stockholm', a piece that
Scripture, belief, war, and a contrast in very different lives between
spiritual, kind child in Stockholm and the experiences of Marina in
who believes she will die in the prison camp of Mauthausen in 1945.
these disparate lives begins when
father Hans encounters Marina and her belief that Christians are
for the inhumanity and her plight. As he takes risks to help her, from
perspective that being a father to one child is to hold affection for
children, he makes decisions that have long-term effects on them both.
later, as a bus
driver, he reflects on his life
and how he and the world continue to be changed by the Holocaust and
made during those years. He has always stepped up to the
has given him, but acknowledges that he has been changed by them all
others drift through life without the will to affect anyone else.
vignettes of life's challenges, Angels of
Stockholm: Short Stories will
linger in the mind long after the final story is absorbed. It is a
recommended collection for readers who like their short works literary,
diverse, and well grounded in the human spirit of resilience and growth.
John David Muth
Dreams of a Viking Wedding presents the
poems of a
son-turned-caregiver to his aging father, who faces the special
living his life while handling an adult who once was his leader and
impending first wedding at middle age and his navigations through life
satisfyingly reflective juxtaposition of events past and present. Muth
ordinary tasks with the astute observational style of a philosopher,
presenting double meanings in his free verse.
'Ode to My
2-XL', about an attic treasure find, is one of the best examples of
device: "I plug the power cord into
an outlet/hoping to see the red glow of its eyes/hear the high-pitched
voice/ready to teach me once again/but nothing happens./It must have
heat up here." Placed where it is, after introductory poems
his father's condition and his newfound role in his father's life, the
packs power with a multifaceted conclusion.
surprises into their dialogues and discussions, as in the surprising
offered through the words of wisdom of an inebriated grandfather in
with Grandpa after He's Had Ten Beers (circa 1987)', which includes the
reflection that "Sex is a crucifix to their
they’re all vampires."
penetrates many of these life experiences, as in 'She Didn’t Seem to
where Muth mistakes a woman's restroom for a men's room and finds
himself in an
coalesce as these poems build a foundation for understanding not just
life and experiences, but the typical man's walk through middle age.
fantasies and truths move through poems with an ability to pair the
experience with astute observations: "It’s
hard being inconsequential:/a machine that works, eats, excretes./For a
want to be a warrior/passionate and fierce/not a white-collared
thousand years too late."
seeking a free verse walk through a man's life and the rigors of
challenges will find Dreams of a Viking
Wedding well-written, hard-hitting, thought-provoking reading.
978-0-578-69607-2 $5.99 Paper/$0.99 Kindle
First Lady of the United
States, Doris Ann Westleigh,
attended the funeral of husband President Adam Westleigh in 1940s
grief was carefully publicly staged, hiding an alternate feel that his
presidency has benefited herself as much as her husband and
the truth about the role she's played as the wife of Adam John Harmon.
death, things are
about to change for the first
lady and the family that has proudly displayed their success as a
the American dream.
puts the past fifty
years of a lifetime of
choices into perspective, readers receive a novella replete in
life-changing decisions, including changing her name and persona.
invented her name and everything about her. Indeed, as the foundling
sharecroppers, everything about her past has been fiction.
Ballard's short work is
a strong historical and
psychological romance that begins with death and works backwards to an
invented for special purposes. It slowly reveals Doris's evolution with
always in attendance over these changes, and creates a quiet inspection
revised identity that has always been impeccable and impossible, at
now seeks to get on
with her life, she comes to
question what that new life involves, its purpose, and its presentation.
is a quiet inspection of transitions, life identity, and change.
so circumspect that readers who expect more action may be stymied by
psychological inspections and probe of relationships which rest on
and carefully contrived public presentations that build a specific
depictions of changing
family relationships and
White House image revisions and challenges to the aftermath of Doris's
as a wife and political ally, Ballard weaves a quiet story of evolving
connections, relationships, and intersections between high-level
figures and down home environments.
result is a poignant
story of high society, identity
decisions, and a close-held secret that won't be passed on to future
generations or the public eye: "Our
stories will end when the four of us are gone. There will be no stigma
and revealing, The First Lady is
especially recommended for women who enjoy tales
of social interactions, family change, and the trials, demands, and
high society in America.
Colin R. James
Cresting Wave Publishing, LLC
Paperback: 978-0988904859 $9.99
ASIN: B089Q11HFH $4.99
Peddler’s Almanac is a literary
collection of short stories
that move through time and place, capturing succinct moments of
ride the wave of the unexpected.
story 'The Potion Peddler's Alamanc', for example, which introduces the
anthology and represents some of its key strengths. Set in 1755
piece moves through an ancient route traversed by a common potion
moves through the wilderness undeterred by either the elements or the
connections to mankind.
based upon peddler potions he knows are worthless, on some level. On
levels, he is actually peddling hope: "The art of potions
wasn’t in the
mixture, nor in the voluminous recipes laid down by generations past;
divulged by father to son, from mother to daughter; forgotten knowledge
retained by travelling folk and distributed frugally among those
inner circle. Although an initiate of the ancient rite of healers, the
knew that it took more than colored glass and powdered opiate to heal
and excite the imagination."
who anticipate a
literary device that includes
the usual predicable progression of events will find, in this opening
others, that the meat of the story lies in Colin
R. James's ability to capture not the nuances of a trade or a
perspective, but the ultimate underlying motivations and results of
feel open-ended because it is left to the reader's inclinations and
to produce the final interpretation. Yet, just enough guidance is
tailor the possibilities in that final unsaid punch line. This is one
that all the stories share—a strength that allows for an open-ended
based not on the obvious, but upon the impact each story has on its
for a very different atmosphere and example. Set in London in the
piece revolves around a new dance club, the promise of sexy dancers,
scene being set by a dancer who prepares for the first audience of an
act designed to take London by storm.
unexpected and invites readers to think about their perceptions and
surprise is cultivated in each and every story. James proves he is no
to powerful dialogue with 'Blighty', set in a Somme trench in 1916
pursues the Army's interactions and experiences in the town of Blighty
evolving relationships between fighters who find themselves mitigating
terrible events of the present with memories of the past.
complete, succinct snapshot of time and place. Each offers a literary
into hearts, minds, and misperceptions. Each will delight readers who
diverse, wide-ranging short works that are powerfully rendered,
thought-provoking, and unexpected in their progression.
Peddler’s Almanac is highly
recommended reading for literary
audiences who look for journeys through life captured from various
gathered into a series of vignettes made more powerful for their
assembly under one cover.
Torch of Hope and
Annalyn J. Rasul
Christian Faith Publishing, Inc.
Paperback: 978-1-64515-799-1 $15.95
Hardcover: 978-1-64515-981-0 $22.95
Digital: 978-1-64515-800-4 $ 9.99
poems and inspirational
pieces in The Torch of Hope and Inspirations
testimonies to faith and perseverance in the world. They represent
Rasul's blend of personal writing and selected quotes that have moved
during her quest for spiritual enlightenment.
first section contains
her poems, which are both
motivating admonitions and discussions of finding strength and comfort
and rhyming verses
sometimes struggle to present
their message within their structure, as in 'Sorrow', about illness,
and faith: "Not quite sure if I am
physically ill,/or is it my soul that needs a heal?/I writhed with pain
guzzled some pill,/but nothing can heal a soul that is ill."
strongest pieces are
free verse creations such as
'Soft Voice', which flow unfettered by the boundaries of rhyme and
rhythm: "I hear him/in a distance,/miles
away./His soft voice fading/in the stillness/against the silence/of the
trees./It comes and goes,/like the wind/from the shore./Years
gone…/there it is
gentle reminders of
love, loss, spiritual
questioning, and life's different journeys will especially please
readers who look for simple, clear reflections on life that they can
second section of the
book represents a lifetime of
quote collecting and runs the gamut from proverbs and philosophical
literary reflections. Some of the writers and quotes are well known,
others are pleasing surprises.
uniform result of this
collection is a gentle
reminder of what it means to live a life tempered by storms, shadows,
and a belief in God.
looking for alluring
words and stirring writing
will find them in abundance, here.