August 2022 Review Issue
Mystery & Thrillers
Afterworld follows Simon Crandall as he
moves through a devastated
world of the future, bereft of the technology that marked mankind's
and then led to its downfall.
stage and history for Simon's current world, neatly reviewing recent
that has transformed humanity, sending it backwards into a new dark age.
the virus escaped to change everything. The world died and then was
while he witnessed its demise and formulated strategies for his own
He can exist
destroyed world only because forgetting the past is the easiest way to
the present: "Simon tried not to
think of the past. There was no use in it; living in the past was
accomplished nothing. If he could have, Simon would have gladly
past forever. There was too much pain, anguish, and misery, almost more
So far, the
of this dystopian world are familiar; but Bryan McBee offers a twist
readers won't see coming as Simon searches for a final weapon that
complete the job of destroying humanity if it falls into the wrong
drives the story and reader interest alike. McBee creates an engrossing
of men and women committed to being warriors in different ways. As
plots on and off the battlefield come to light, so do the motivations
forces of these future remnants of humanity and others which have
As a ragtag
grows to represent nearly every race left on the planet, readers move
loner's mission to a group effort. McBee paints a compelling portrait
adversity, impossible odds, and the interactions of very different
forced to come together for a greater purpose.
characters and their special interests add nicely to the overall
described in this dystopian world, while the novel's twists and turns
unpredictable outcomes and circumstances of healing and growth alike.
whole and at peace in this world? These goals don't seem likely, but Afterworld takes some surprising turns.
That is part of its attraction, and why it's highly recommended as a
story of extraordinary efforts, fragile peace, and the differences that
individuals make not just in their individual pursuits, but in
fate of humanity itself.
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Blood Dragon Rising
Dancing Corgi Press
978-1-943654-17-8 $6.99 Kindle
Book 1 in the Dragon Shadows series, weaves a love story, a fantasy,
epic adventure into the story of Lisette de Lille, whose marriage to a
nobleman proves anything but dull.
Just because it's set in the
Caribbean and involves pirates
doesn't mean that Blood Dragon Rising's
audience should be limited to swashbuckling audiences alone. Nor does
represent historical fiction as it follows noblewoman Lisette's
life when she becomes a pirate.
This elusive flavor is just
what spices Blood Dragon Rising so
it from being a set genre read by expanding the potential of its
a wide range of readers.
G.S. Carline employs
especially haunting imagery to
capture Lisette's environment and the influences that lead her astray
likely, into the person she really was meant to be): "Lisette
stood on her balcony, trying to draw in breath. This
evening’s gala required her to wear a corset and although it pushed her
into two fine mounds, the reward seemed hardly worth the pain. Such was
price for turning twenty. The sun had sunk below the horizon, but light
fought the darkness, giving the sky an ashen, brooding quality. The
breeze was still too warm, and she pushed at the damp curls along her
gazed outward to sea, willing her body to breathe despite its
These descriptions of her
world and the dragon that
haunts it prove a compelling draw from the first page, luring readers
more about Lisette's life, powers, and destiny.
There are many vivid scenes
throughout, as in a dagger
fight between women who are each more than capable of wielding weapons
anger with equal force. Locked in battle, the two must quit in order to
greater foe as a Spanish ship threatens them.
personality, perceptions, and
interactions with a host of women lend an especially vivid,
to the story which is uncommon in tales of pirates and Caribbean
experiences: “Rocco will soon set fire to our
and the further away we are, the less likely we shall be roasted
alive.” The women wailed
louder now and one of the younger girls fainted. “Stop your bawling.
You behave like lambs going to slaughter.” Lisette glowered at them,
her words. “Do you want to die? Or would you rather survive this and
your loved ones?”
From immortal souls and
ladies of the house to pirate
ships and dragons, G.S. Carline creates a satisfyingly moving story
ever-changing, unpredictable, and hard to put down.
It's rare to recommend a
Caribbean pirate story to such a
wide audience, but libraries will find that it captures the attention
fantasy readers, mystery fans, and pirate enthusiasts alike. Blood Dragon Rising deserves a prominent
place in collections strong in novels that center on a diverse set of
characters whose lives, experiences, and strengths take center stage.
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Dawn of the
979-8-9860537-1-4 $14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Young adult and adult
sci-fi readers who enjoy metaphysical elements of magical realism in
stories will find these and more in Dawn
of the Watchers. It's a tale that began in Rise of the Protector,
which introduced Jinx and her attempt to free Laris from a simulated
attracted and entrapped those seeking enlightenment.
The story continues in this
second book, where Jinx and her
team faces the challenge of traversing galaxies in order to fulfill a
that, ironically, initially holds little attraction to her.
Some heroes aren't trying to save the world.
And some don't even
aim to be heroes. The subtitle of this adventure reflects its mercurial
as Jinx moves away from any definition of safety and into an endeavor
hard science and difficult decisions.
Jinx's revelations and world with this hard science. This will delight
looking for edgy stories that operate on the cutting edges of
The sense of
discovery and opportunity are thus presented on two different levels
juxtapose variables unique to metaphysical and scientific realms alike.
A sense of
adds an undercurrent of fun to the serious adventure, creating
readers will find unexpected and attractive: "Jinx
regarded the creature for a moment, deciding to keep it
jovial. Pressing through the bodies, she squeezed up to the bar.
towards her new pest, she yelled, “Can I get two of these hallucination
marked by fast-paced action that makes for an engrossing story readers
find fun and thought-provoking, as well has hard to put down: “Hey, hold up.” Jinx threw out her arm,
bringing Jacob to a pause. “I think I saw something near the opening of
“What? What do you mean, something?” Jacob stammered.
“Dunno. I’m gonna check it out. Wait here.”
“What?” Jacob jerked his attention to follow Jinx’s line of sight. “You expect me to just sit here like bait?”
is a top
recommendation for readers who like their sci-fi unpredictable,
science-based. The metaphysical elements and changing interpersonal
relationships create a compelling saga driven by a spunky, memorable
woman who captures the irony in making thinking nerds the centerpiece
proactive adventure: "Standing
around chewing on concepts was excruciating. But she knew that heading
guns blazing, in an effort to track down Sartillias wasn’t going to get
sci-fi adventure enthusiasts will find plenty to relish in Dawn of the Watchers, a story that
stands out from the crowd and
ends with more than a hint of ongoing adventure from future books
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$26.99 Hardcover/$20.99 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
When a rare and unusual
artifact is found in a
grandfather's collection, it attracts the attention not just of
Wesley, but a dangerous alien from another world in Intergalactic
This, in turn, lures a crazy
band of alien exterminators
who arrive on Russ's doorstep with a mission that not only involves
compels him to lend his skill set to their endeavors.
Ash Bishop's humor abounds
in a saga that winds fun
observation into action-packed scenarios: "The
girl they called El Toreador had been on lookout. She was far enough
darkness that Russ could barely see her, just a wisp of thick brown
bobbing in the darkness—that is, until she pounded her chest with her
vest lit up red, casting shadows across the trees. “My real name’s
told Russ quickly. Then: “Don’t look so worried. We’re professionals.”
Russ has a lot to learn
about aliens, the universe, and
his place in it. As he joins the team as a reluctantly conscripted
faces many challenges, he and his readers become immersed in a zany
that holds many unexpected twists and turns and more than a few
moments of revelation and wonder: "Russ
pounded his fists against the window. “Atara!” he shouted. “ATARA!”
“What? What do you need?” Atara asked. She had materialized beside Russ and Nina. She glanced through the window at her own dead body and shook her head. “I’m just going to say it. I look gorgeous, even dead. Kind of scary to stare straight into the eyes of the reaper, though. Not that I don’t deserve it, with the performance I put on. The others will be out in a minute.”
Russ stared at dead Atara and alive Atara. “Out of where?” he asked, trying to pretend like what was happening made sense.
“The virtual training room. Technically, it exists to refine our combat skills, but we use it every day because it’s fun as hell, like a huge, badass video game. Welcome aboard the Flashaway,” she said as an afterthought."
What kind of Intergalactic
Exterminator will Russ make?
Their special brand of pest control rocks through different worlds as
and unpredictable action permeate the story.
Nina, whose father is in
danger, is also drawn into the
action. Perspectives that shift between Nina and Russ are clearly
chapter headings that identify the divergent viewpoints, while the
expands with the addition of character Steven Applebam, who also
with the Exterminators in an ironic manner.
The result is a compelling, whimsical romp through the universe of intergalactic pest control. It's an inviting read for those who enjoy their sci-fi stories of alien invasion and first contact spiced with the flavor of fun.
Few sci-fi stories hold such
humor, making Intergalactic Exterminators,
special attraction for libraries who seek examples of irony, satire,
action-packed displays of amusement.
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Matthew J. McKee
Keeping the Stars Awake is a sci-fi novel
that blends surreal
atmosphere with ironic observation, introducing readers to a dystopian
sleep and the futile pursuit of respite leads to dangerous avenues of
and disquiet. It's a world at once familiar and alien.
note about this story is that Matthew J. McKee takes the time to
special brand of metaphorical examination that results in especially
scenes: "The cicadas have all gone
to sleep, their restless wings broken and shorn. The chestnuts have all
themselves from their sheathes, fat rotting carapaces littering the
discarded candy-bar wrappers. The wind is serene, quiet, yet steady in
determination to find succor and haven in the hearts of brave evening
saunterers—and no amount of huddling will turn it away. The rain is
yet omni-present. The land is muted and the roads, slated. Above, on
branches, frost sleeps, withered birds of ice, shadows drowsing like
torpid ponds pooled at their roots."
fast-paced introductions will find the story builds slowly from these
which are essential introductions to the heart of this tale's strength:
ability to pull readers into a parallel world in which demons and the
co-exist side by side.
anticipate the sarcastic jokes "mocking the infectious nature of
religion" and the chilling descriptions of place that permeate this
thoroughly engrossing read, but McKee's language at times reads with
evocative description akin to poetry as the narrator describes a
"I had been horribly mistaken: the
autumn foliage was not made
bloody by the moon; it was simply bloody to begin with. The tree we had
sitting under had blood-red bark, the leaves that hung from the vein
branches pitch black."
Dialogue, too, is
well done and unexpectedly vivid: "You’re not human.
Says you. Who died and made you king?
King? Ha! In here, I’m God. This is my world. This is my sandbox. I decide what is, and what isn’t. I decide the meaning and the truth.
Really? Then why are you even bothering with all this?
Because that’s the kind of story this is. Because that’s what it takes. A little blood and sweat from yours truly.
Thaaat, makes no sense.
It doesn’t need to; not to you. I already told you what you have to do: Listen, and obey. That’s all you have to understand. All I expect of you is to fall in line, read your lines like a good little narrator, follow every cue to a T, and finally, get the fuck out of my head."
sarcastic, and filled with horror and realization, Keeping
the Stars Awake is a work of literary excellence that
deserves a place not
just in sci-fi, but in literature collections.
Matthew J. McKee has created a refreshingly original and unpredictable story of the mirror world of Oh and Sen, with flawed characters that represent questionable morals, rude awakenings, and startling perspectives.
literary discussion groups will find Keeping
the Stars Awake a compelling exploration that pushes the
boundaries of the
definition of sci-fi and ironic inspection alike.
"’Twas truly a story
of keeping the stars awake—one hell of a ridiculous ride—however!”
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A Slow Parade in Penderyn
Tales from Efre Ousel
ASIN: B08L27J46G $.99 Kindle
Book 1 of
Crown epic fantasy series, A Slow Parade in Penderyn, presents a typical fantasy setting on a
vast world containing four great continents, but it comes with a
The content, setting, and foundation premise of this saga was created
"open content" to encourage the broader fantasy writing community to
add their own stores to the 'Tales from Efre Ousel' premise.
copyright of the stories they create but are allowed to build upon the
characters and contents of Efre Ousel: "Our hope is to foster a collaborative
community, where other storytellers can build upon each other’s work."
opens with woodswoman Jori's discovery of an abandoned new baby inside
Jori gives up the child to her druid people when they come knocking,
tragedy again strikes in an ironic twist of fate: "That
is the way of the gods. When they intervene, everyone loses
prized (yet beaten) soldier Silbrey's return to Penderyn. She's an
a mother, vastly changed from her street urchin roots, but still
buffeting by the winds of change, which have returned her to Penderyn
confront her past, which threatens her family and motherhood. What she
ultimately faces is herself and her own roots in adversity and mystery
adult Silbrey walks into a world marked by omens, rumors, legendary
and threats. These reach into her life to destroy everything she's
the violence she thought she'd left behind in her desperate flight from
chosen, as a descriptor, the concept of a "slow parade," but the plot
is anything but slow. He cultivates a fast pace of revelation and
Silbrey faces not only her own heritage, but the moral and ethical
of choosing violence over reconciliation: "Silbrey
could kill her now. She could crack her skull open with her staff. She
break her neck. She could take Dahlia’s own sword and stab her through
heart. Silbrey had killed so many people. She could kill Dahlia too,
responsible for it all. Penderyn would be a safer place, a better place
her. How many lives would be saved with this one act?"
blend of strong characterization and powerful moral and ethical
lend a special depth to the story. Readers who look for stories steeped
promises and the search for home and purpose will find Silbrey's
compelling and revealing.
epic fantasy steeped in emotional growth will welcome A Slow
Penderyn's engrossing environment
and character conflicts.
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One for the
Bits of Steak Press
One for the
who choose the fourth book of Randall McNair's Bar Poems series should
one thing in advance: prepare to be amazed. These aren't your usual
philosophical blends, but gritty observations of life that test the
mind, and literary soul of its readers.
One for the Road offers poems about
booze, babes, and the world of
drinking problems and solutions. Sometimes it's a cocktail of love, and
it's a beer of busted dreams.
own proclivity for the honesty of drinking versus teetotalers who
bottle: "I’m so tired of/people who
are sober every day./I can’t understand those who are just/going
motions of living—/they never hallucinate/they never go mad/they never
their bosses/in the middle of the sales meeting./They just go around
milk/with their steak/potatoes/green bean casserole,/they never get
reject some of the observations and reflections in this collection, One for the Road isn't written for them.
It's written for the non-poetry reader who thinks the usual staid verse
high-falutin pretension precludes the kinds of emotional honesty
drunks who normally don't see their lives reflected in art; for the
who find the normal poetic effort alien and unconnected to their lives;
rapper and poet used to musical interludes who will find equal power in
words that touch upon matters of the heart.
inquire, such works as "Prayer for a Drunk Mediocreite" defies the
and usual progress of the poetic form and content to reach those whose
resonate with similar threads of anger, loathing, and disappointment: "Our Father who art/disappointed in
me,/what’s your name again?/I’ve had a few/and seem to have forgotten."
take a holiday in this collection, but is right there with the reader
author "...at Dot’s Coffee Shop
pushing his eggs/from one side of the plate to the other/his coffee
black inside his cup/his scythe leaned up against the coat rack/his
poetry collections will want to include One
for the Road for its real-world subject and style, ideally
the book won't
just repose alongside its genre companions, but will be chosen to
amaze the younger generation with the possible routes poetry can employ
connect with real-life experiences.
groups, especially those including topics rappers and contemporary
would enjoy, will find One for the Road
a unique collection that doesn't just demand attention, but promises to
opinions of what poetry is and the types of audiences it can reach who
outside the usual literary circles. It's very highly recommended for
voice and ongoing connections between drinking, life, and death.
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exceptionally short fiction that packs a punch using as few words as
Lannie Stabile's works certainly fit that bill, as they offer diverse,
digestible pieces that even the busiest reader can't claim to be too
presentation doesn't belay their impact. In fact, the collection opens
trigger warning disclaimer: the contents include subject ranging from
"domestic abuse, sexual assault, infanticide, SIDS, postpartum
death, murder, suicide, dismemberment, and profanity." Fragile readers
should look elsewhere, but those who find such subjects fodder for
consideration and not a nervous breakdown will find them treated with
and powerful insights under Stabile's hand.
"To Wash and
a Vessel" opens the collection with an observational piece that
a simple ceramic mug of memories, a mother's most prized possession.
"Take care of the
that matter to you, Baby, Mama used to say. And the irony
would scowl at
us from across the kitchen."
The love for
ritual of using the mug follows the narrator throughout her childhood
her mother's illness and subsequent death, when the mug appears to
the relief of a death after a long illness: "Death
meant I could open the windows, let the fresh air in to sweep through
mummified halls. Death meant I could pause and breathe, and maybe even
Death meant I could say good-bye..."
As a haunted
stirs memories, guilt, and brings new possibilities, readers are drawn
life of a caregiver who finds herself marked and changed not just by
by life afterwards.
Empty Hands" is both in stark contrast and a familiar sigh of
as the narrator shares close quarters with a couple and cultivates her
of appreciation, angst, and longing from the experience: "I
wish I could reach out and rest my hand on her shoulder, give
it an empathetic squeeze. Show her someone’s listening, someone cares,
it’s some lost soul with a permanent beehive congealed with blood."
of loss, love, discovery, and recovery, Something
Dead in Everything represents vignettes of life experience
blending powerful metaphorical images of the ghosts that hang around
with the embedded sorrows and hopes of the living.
thought-provoking works of flash fiction deserve not only a place on
shelves, but in the discussion groups of readers who would analyze and
the presence of longing, love, and hope in life and death alike.
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Suburban Death Project
Unbound Edition Press
Ordering: Amazon.com: Suburban Death Project: 9780991378043: Parkison, Aimee: Books
Project is a literary venture into psychological realms
powered by the
short story format. It makes unexpected leaps, connections, and forays
worlds that are diverse and thought-provoking.
Take the introductory
for example. Garner considers himself not just an insect collector, but
spectator of their sport: "At night,
Garner gazed through a magnifier at insects he considered actors.
tiny spotlights, he cherished the actors’ talents. He trembled,
sighed. The insects twitched, danced, and flourished before stilling.
scratched lens, the living met the dead, and Garner applauded them all.
he became sentimental about preservation. He wanted to keep the best
near him for the rest of his life."
As the story evolves, the
elderly Garner's passion
becomes a warped pursuit of insects whose plays prove them "...to be
better actors than people." In stark contrast to his delight over his
insect performers, his wife Joyce "flinches at every performance."
She's terrified of all insects, and even thirty-seven years of marriage
assuage her fear.
As Joyce gets her revenge
and the eerie relationship
plays out, readers discover that more runs beneath the surface than the
attraction to or fear of passion. A changed scenario emerges which, in
transforms Garner's biggest fear into a strange form of rejuvenation.
"Locked In" also offers up a
of inspections of life and death. Why would a patient specifically
"locked in" (conscious and trapped) during surgery, and why would a
doctor agree to this unethical, purposeful request?
More ethical dilemmas emerge
as the scenario expands to
explain these uncommon patient/doctor decisions: "I
never wanted to be in this miserable position, where no choice
is without suffering. If the press got word of what I’m taking from his
the public wouldn’t understand how many animals have to suffer and die.
people think every living thing is replaceable due to cloning, but they
understand the underclass of female animals used to create clones. More
importantly, they don’t know about the bioterrorists who have destroyed
bio-banks of animal DNA to prevent new additions to the underclass of
Each story captures a
disturbing pivot point between
life, death, and moral and ethical choices to lead readers into a realm
logic and thought collides with an emotional draw.
Some of (perhaps even many)
of these stories provide
trigger points that should be approached with caution (or avoided
readers who might grapple with the diverse scenarios of death painted
Parkison's collection. Its astute, disturbing portraits are haunting,
in the mind long after their reading.
The twelve short stories are
depictions that embrace black humor, ironic observation, and unsettling
that simmer under the surface of ordinary American lives and households.
Project is especially recommended for college-level students
contemporary literature, who will find its short, powerful works
examples of horror and pleasure that virtually demand analytical
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Three Days Under the Sun (And Other Tales of the
Old West) joins
other Western classics of storytelling lore by Charlie Steel with an
blend of black and white illustrations and short fiction. These present
characters that experience trials and tribulations as they struggle for
survival in the West.
powerful "you are here" atmosphere that Steel successfully utilizes
to best advantage, each story contains a moral and ethical message.
Westerns will find them thought-provokingly embedded into description,
experience, and mindset.
story "Three Days Under the Sun" demonstrates this flavor from the
start as it captures the experience of an ambush that portends death
astute observation from the first-person narrator, that "This
was Sioux land, we were the invaders, and they were fighting
for their survival."
survive continues for a ragtag wagon train band led by the first-person
narrator, readers interested in the thrill of action combined with the
observation of greenhorns who are well out of their league in the wild
makes for an engrossing story.
thing that should arise. But, it does.
injecting the unexpected into traditional Western confrontations,
and experiences. This ability gives his short pieces an engrossing,
flavor of unpredictability that will especially delight seasoned
readers looking for something different.
Gunman Makes a Decision," for example. A thirsty outlaw running through
the prairie comes upon a house that offers refuge and then danger, as
has fallen upon its inhabitants.
is on the
lam. But is he running from life, as well? His decision leads to perils
never anticipated from his prior actions...and a moral dilemma: "I
fool to think of staying. Best to get on the
mustang and ride hard and
fast away from this sickness. Surely, these folks are beyond hope and
going to die."
in the atmosphere and trappings of the West, but each offers a twist in
perspective and judgment to keep readers thinking and surprised about
decisions, outcomes, and this wild Western world.
for stories that are hard-hitting, both in their action and in their
literature may be used to formula genre reads, but Charlie Steel steps
the way of traditional approaches just a bit, giving each tale the
of surprise with thought-provoking dilemmas.
powerful collection highly recommended not just for the usual reader of
Western fiction genre, but for those who normally eschew these types of
stories, who will find much to attract in this powerfully compelling
Three Days Under the Sun is also
recommended for book clubs looking
for literature that pushes the boundaries of their genres, especially
that would contrast the traditional approaches of L'Amour and others
Steel's original, astute form of inspection.
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Echoes from Wuhan
978-1639882151 $18.95 paperback/$9.95 ebook
The Past As Prologue is a memoir of Gretchen Dykstra's
experiences in China decades ago, chronicling cross-cultural
clashes that shaped the rest of her life.
Its ability to combine a
memoir with a travelogue and
history creates an accessible, engaging story that will reach out not
readers of Chinese culture, but fellow adventurers who want to absorb
bygone years and their lasting impact.
As Dykstra makes blunders
and receives eye-opening
lessons about teaching in China, readers learn from her interactions
various people and political entities assigned to both watch and assist
her: "I showed Xiao Wang the flyer, and,
shrewdly, she suggested that she tell the leaders I had received it.
“Why?” I asked, considering the flyer rather benign, even pathetic, somewhat intriguing, and hardly seditious.
“It will demonstrate to the leaders that you are trustworthy.”
Or you are, I thought cynically, aware that I was beginning to question her motives, feeling as if sometimes she was using me, playing me. It was not the first time I had sensed this. She was masterful at helping me as she got exactly what she wanted, too. Like remaining my translator. I, of course, was doing the exact same thing. My daily current event assignments and my only-English-in-front-of-me game were ways of learning things I otherwise might not have known. I, too, was helping others while I helped myself."
Historical and cultural
lessons are revealed in the
course of her explorations of urban and rural China, and readers will
appreciate her two-year sojourn to another world, which opens up China
outsiders who may never visit.
The focus on teaching,
students, and Chinese traditions
as they encounter Western viewpoints and standards creates a satisfying
interplay between cultures that is both enlightening and entertaining.
moves outside her comfort zone to receive valuable lessons about not
Chinese, but the nature of social and political connections between
These revelations follow her
back home to New York, where
she both integrates her experiences into modern New York life and
serves as an
ongoing link between the people she met in China and her revised world
While libraries strong in
Chinese culture and history
will find her memoir appealing, armchair and destination travelers to
those who look for a blend of entertainment and enlightenment will also
find Echoes from Wuhan a
The China of yesteryear
comes to life under her hand,
offering readers of today a strong cultural appreciation that will lead
better understand the Chinese culture and people.
will ideally be chosen by book clubs interested in discussions of
culture. Its astute analysis deserves to be an active part of any
interested in memoirs that capture time and place and the lessons
past experience that hold importance for and resonate in modern times.
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Nothing Is Us
E. David Brown
9798798046119 $23.99 Paper/$6.99 Kindle
Nothing Is Us opens with a prologue
introducing a father's death
after a myriad of health challenges. But the real meat in this memoir
in a father's demise, but in the abusive relationship he cultivated
son (the author of this book).
familiar story in many ways, but E. David Brown chooses the feel of
interspersed with facts, so the drama embraces not just family
but the changing social and political times.
recreating this world is especially thought-provoking as the story
opens: "Every day since Lt. Colonel E. H.
Brown’s funeral I have struggled to invent a memory that would redeem
in my eyes and in turn allow the process of self-redemption to begin. A
people think they know the history of Noah but most fail to grasp that
story begins after the floodwaters recede. Ham discovers his old man
and drunk. For his indiscretion he is cast out, banished to Canaan (or
case Canada). Having resolved to uncover the nakedness of my father,
is now to reconstruct the past as best I can."
abuse at school to becoming an over-achiever with a passion for
Brown reveals a life buffeted by many different kinds of forces which,
ironically, often seem to hold the same kinds of impact and results as
these circumstances and threats offer intriguing insights into forms of
come not just from home, but the greater world outside it: "Mr. Lesman once waved a sheaf of letters my mother
had sent him
at me. “Your Mama is worried, crazy worried about you. I have met her.
She is a
good woman. She’s worried, as she has every right to be, about the
whom you have been associating. She’s right to think that they are
and hold dangerous and perverse views.” My silent response infuriated
“One day you’ll cross the line and I’ll bend you over and give you
your daddy should have given you a long time ago.”
plague him and follow him through school and into life, readers receive
descriptions that (warning) may serve as triggers to readers tapping
experiences and feelings about violent interpersonal engagements
with those in positions of superiority, whether they be instructors or
often buried in other memoirs about abuse and coming of age, yet takes
stage here, offering readers important insights about bullies, victims,
and healing processes.
Nothing Is Us is a highly recommended
study in contrasts and
survival. Its powerful words deserve consideration by memoir readers,
especially recommended for discussion groups where abuse and recovery
are closely examined.
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The Second Long March: Memoir from a Witness to China’s Transformation documents, on a personal level, the wane of communism and China’s pursuit of economic reform beginning in the early 1980s. It comes from a writer whose observations draw important connections between political change and personal lives.
worked in China in 1981 and returned some twenty-five years later,
the country as it had been under the communist economic system. Her
the vastly changed social and political milieu of the nation thus
satisfying contrast in experiences that pinpoints not only the
the changes, but their incarnation and impact at all levels of Chinese
of this process are solidified by her experiences and contrasts between
and present China: "If I were in
Mexico or Europe, her waffling would have set off alarms in my head,
but I was
still expecting the wide-eyed honesty I’d experienced many years ago
was communist and foreigners were treated like rock stars. The bells
ring...Fifteen minutes after landing, I’d been scammed out of $20 and
my first important lesson: my mind still held the map of China as I had
many years ago, and I could no longer use it to navigate this
learns how to
navigate a country newly powered by economic gain and principles of
Isaacs creates a narrative that mimics Alice-in-Wonderland experiences
present, juxtaposing these two so that readers gain a real feel for the
and strength of the transformations the country has undergone.
As she and
husband participate in tours and explorations of China and its people,
observations create astute insights of different levels of society: "...many on these tours were long-time
students of Chinese language and culture, knowledgeable but starved for
real-world experience by China’s political isolation; forward-thinking
businessmen anxious to build ties with China’s emerging industry; and
longing to visit their home country. This group also included power
eager to find bargains on handicrafts."
"China had changed in the quarter century that I’d been gone, and so had I."
of land and people receives a "you are here" feel that more
analytical studies don't offer. It gives armchair travelers with a
interest in China's past and contemporary milieu a leg up in
the Chinese have undergone transformative processes that changed not
economic status, but how they perceived and reacted to foreigners—and
Isaacs provides a unique insider's eye as she focuses on the years 1981 and 2005, when communism was fading and economic development was taking off in China.
The contrast is marked with many interpersonal encounters and revelations to attract readers interested in the nature and cost of progress: “Our handlers followed us around and tried to keep us from having unauthorized contact with our students,” I said. “I know that at the time, the government was worried that we and our Western ideas might ‘pollute’ Chinese society. If you look at things objectively, that is exactly what happened. Now the Chinese are like us. They are materialistic and they worry about health care and the cost of education, and spoiled kids who play video games all day. China is more open, but all the changes haven’t been positive.”
travel library collections will want to consider this a lively story
for armchair readers who enjoy cultural and historical flavors, The
Second Long March is especially recommended reading for those
better understand not just China's evolutionary process, but how
systems shift their populaces into new mindsets and lives.
for group discussion, The Second Long
March portrays a China like few others, and deserves a place
collection strong in social and political examination or travelogues in
and Chinese culture in particular.
Return to Index
Red Shirt Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B0B1BTMYD6 $6.99
Bear Trap takes the thriller genre to a
new level as it pairs
international struggles and intrigue (with action that moves from
Russia, Washington, and Virginia) with the story of Jon Smith, a CIA
Paramilitary Operations Officer and retired Navy SEAL officer who only
Alaska for a vacation.
is a mind-boggling series of events that move him from dangerous
to the equally disastrous storm of Russians who have invaded Alaska in
of a defector.
military response grounded by the weather, what can Jon do? Plenty.
to lead a suicide mission to confront the highly trained team of
operators and regain control of now-model U.S. citizen and spy Dr.
CIA scientist conducting research in the paranormal sciences so he can
that intelligence against the Russians.
problem. Jon isn't ready to die. His conviction that he can achieve his
without huge losses drives a story so packed with political references
readers might initially think it requires prior familiarity with
U.S. intelligence communities.
This is not
While the story is steeped in covert and overt action, readers need
prior expertise in either national espionage or intelligence
order to easily absorb the scenarios, politics, and military
It should be
that the back-and-forth nonstop staccato events take the form of 78
Lest readers think this translates to 'tome', however, it also should
advised that there are only 340 pages to the saga. Bob Asher's ability
a lot of action and intrigue into short scenarios that capture mind and
powers a novel replete in many cat-and-mouse plays.
These excel in depicting unexpected maneuvers
on all sides.
embeds his characters in a sense of place, taking the time to create a
"you are here" atmosphere that permeates the action from the novel's
opening lines: "Jon was the fourth
man in a tight stack of seven standing in the dark along a pockmarked,
block wall outside the back door of a battle-damaged two-story house.
he and his teammates were wearing black Iraqi Army Special Forces
yawned quietly as his stomach growled. He had been awake and on the
move for over
thirty-six hours. The only thing he had eaten was an unheated MRE
entrée ten hours earlier. All he could think about was food and sleep.
the early hour, the temperature hovered just over 100°F. Sweat flowed
from under his helmet and into his eyes before dripping off his nose
beard. Under his body armor, his pale pink skin was steaming."
injection of themes of vigilante confrontations, assassination
paranormal elements driving characters to confront one another and
unexpected ways keeps the action unpredictable and nonstop.
thriller that comes steeped in Alaskan wilderness challenges and the
confrontations that evolve between disparate special interests.
Bear Trap's title perhaps holds a portent
of its strengths, because
it certainly traps its readers with a thoroughly engrossing read that
impossible to put down—or predict.
Return to Index
Frank L. Gertcher
Wind Grass Hill Books
978-1-7351459-8-3 $29.95 Hardcover/$11.49 Kindle
The Cat's Paw Murders is the fourth book
in the Caroline Case Jones
mystery series, but while it builds upon the characters created in
it requires no familiarity from newcomers in order to prove
accessible and compelling.
author's note defines the broader concept of a cat's paw situation: "A cat’s paw is a person or
organization used by another as a tool to achieve some end, especially
duplicitous or cynical manner. For example, an espionage agent may
cat’s paw for a government in secret conflict with a foreign power."
keep in mind as political situations and subterfuge evolve in the
course of the
story where Caroline is kept on her toes. A prologue indicates that
presentation is the fourth volume in a diary chronicling her
reviewing past events in a succinct roundup that sets the stage for
with reminders, and for newcomers with important backdrop information.
mind, The Cat's Paw Murders
to the latest mission, beginning in 1929 with espionage training that
Caroline from being a sleuth to becoming a spy.
Caroline harbors doubts about the demands that her new profession will
introduce to her and Hannibal's lives. She has "...qualms
about learning new techniques for killing. The veneer
of civilization is not very deep over my primitive inner self, and on
occasions, I have demonstrated unrelenting, hardened talents with
subduing villains. However, I know that a killing experience, even if
gratifying at the time, would trouble my dreams forever."
by the events that affect their wealthy facade of life in Paris, and by
mission that demands their compliance with sometimes-uncomfortable
entries that follow Caroline and Hannibal from 1929 through the 1930s
operate in privileged circles of the wealthy while maintaining focus on
secret mission and directives.
that a diary format couldn't capture the sense of intrigue or
adventures that a different form would cultivate, but Frank L. Gertcher
first-person "you are there" moments to fully capture the drama,
tension, conundrums, and discoveries of Caroline's life.
through privileged circles or spying on those around her, her
involvement in a
murder mystery spurs her to make changes in her own life focus and
As four and
years of adventure play out, readers will find themselves engrossed in
Caroline's descriptions of confrontations and her discovery of a
milieu vastly different from her familiar American roots.
looking for stories of international intrigue, inner demons unleashed,
world of a woman whose notes describe the evolution of a couple
murder in the course of being paid espionage agents, will find The Cat's Paw Murders a satisfying blend
of moral conundrums and intrigue.
fine interplay of class, culture, and self-discovery will find the
of all these forces captivating and revealing in a story more than
Return to Index
A Day in Fall
White Bird Publications, LLC
978-1-63363-588-3 $22.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
Day in Fall
is a thriller that arrives with a familiar contemporary milieu as it
the specter of a new president's determination to overthrow the system
Lest one believe this story
will completely mimic modern
events, it should be noted there is a twist to the tale: "In
a way, the political world had its business condensed to a
In a world where "everything
controversial," the environment of Washington, D.C. is changing, its
ripples of contention and transformation spreading throughout the
Charles Harned excels in a
thriller that traverses
nations, hearts, and minds. It rests firmly upon a foundation of
reality, yet carries its action a step further as Agent Orange,
National Intelligence Collins, and other characters interact on a
of irony and risk-taking.
All the trappings of
high-octane intrigue are here. But
wound into the political observations and changed lives of Michael
Slavic beauty Elena Stregor, and other characters is an overlay of
interests that grow in ironic ways under Harned's hand.
As events move from the U.S.
to Algeria and Rome, readers
embark on a world-hopping tour that is well written and both familiar
of its scenarios and surprising in its political associations and
Readers seeking a
contemporary thriller that embraces
military technology, social change, and political intrigue will welcome
A Day in Fall's involving,
Libraries that choose A
Day in Fall for its political thriller components will find
that it holds
not just action-packed adventure, but an attention to detail and
make for a thoroughly engrossing adventure.
Return to Index
How does a college student
who drives a delivery truck
for side money become involved in a scheme that introduces him to a
underworld of crime? Delivery
outlines Rob's progression into this dangerous milieu as he purposely
decision to infiltrate a crime syndicate, upon discovering his
involvement making deliveries to them.
Gang activity introduces the
story with a bang before
moving to the first chapter, where delivery men Mike and Rob are
their day, bringing furniture to customers. This day has brought them
the 'hood, which is well out of middle-class college-bound Rob's milieu
all too familiar to Mike, who comes from different roots.
As Rob becomes involved over
his head and discovers the
corruption involves the local D.A. and others in the gang's activities,
becomes involved with Cord, whose world is steeped in violence,
moves, and the calculated risks of a rival gang's leader.
His meeting with the
beautiful but deadly Val introduces
yet another facet of life that continues to challenge his role and his
objectives for the future as a series of cat-and-mouse encounters
test both his new identity and his resolve.
Readers interested in a
crime thriller whereby a relative
outsider becomes the lynchpin in a scheme will find plenty of surprises
satisfying developments in Delivery.
The plot delivers more than a few revelations as a world seemingly
local gangs and petty drug dealers expands to embrace a diverse group
politicians and international interests.
Tom David introduces so many
changes and conflicts in the
course of Rob's evolutionary process that crime readers might suspect
will be overly complex or potentially confusing.
Not so. David roots his
crime world developments firmly
in the viewpoint and revelations of Rob, whose character development is
tuned. This adds interest and logic to all his moves and
life, smoothing a story that moves through many possibilities before
to settle in an unexpected place.
Libraries strong in crime
thrillers and looking for works
cemented by ordinary, believable characters that navigate strange
with savvy and intelligence will welcome Delivery's
ability to deliver a series of hard-hitting punches to keep interest
involvements unexpected right up to the end.
Return to Index
2020 Press, LLC
978-0-9990472-6-2 $4.99 ebook
police Charlie Gates isn't an effective investigator. He's spent
haunted by his sister's murder and unresolved case, and seems no closer
arriving at the truth as Hunting Rabbits
opens. That is, until a fingerprint in a recent robbery gives him hope
link to his sister will reopen her case and solve it at last.
He can't do
alone. He needs fellow investigator Luis Millares to lend his
expertise. What he doesn't expect is a string of murder connections to
that tests his resolve to identify ghosts of the past and their links
personal and professional future.
story built on surprises. There's the bolt from the blue of Charlie's
involvement in his sister's case after so many uncertain years; the
involvement of an intelligence officer (who may be beyond the law) in
mix; and the charge on Charlie to step back from a case that holds a
pull on his heart to avoid future accusations of bias and prejudice.
adept at crafting the tension of a professional torn between his
involvement and his professional mission. These create delightful
the mystery itself that elevates Hunting
Rabbits above most genre reads.
wasn't the only woman murdered over thirty years ago. As the Matoaka
reach out to touch and change his life and those who command the
of present-day events, the suspense and thriller components of the
very nicely done, keeping readers guessing about who is the hunter and
The irony is
Charlie has a job as a chief of police in a jurisdiction where
occur. His focus introduces revised relationships, including with his
against a backdrop of hunting that places events in unpredictable
that even seasoned mystery readers won't see coming.
murder mystery especially strong in its psychological interplays and
inspections, from community to family and friends. It is said that 'the
shall set them free'; but in this case, it will also challenge the
perspectives of all involved. This creates a compelling read that
psychological levels that are thought-provoking, going above and beyond
predictable, less deep genre reads.
murder mysteries will find Hunting
Rabbits a fine examination of motives for murder and a
that comes alive with new influences.
Return to Index
Muir's Gambit is influenced by real-life
events, but crafts a
fictional thriller revolving around two main characters: CIA spy Nathan
and CIA lawyer Russell Aiken, who is determined to exact a confession
from Muir for the assassination of CIA hero Charlie March.
both are trained spies who sport equally strong backgrounds and savvy
investigating and playing dangerous games.
evolves excels in a chess-like back-and-forth atmosphere, where equally
powerful operatives exhibit strong powers of investigation and
is Tom Bishop. And this is where the fun really begins.
especially appreciate the references to the game, the strategy that
and the movements of the players as they navigate world affairs and
conflicts with the knowledge that "habits kill."
evolve during the course of these confrontations that belay any
that this spy story will be the usual singular world domination focus.
these hard-hitting insights are just as powerfully depicted as the
swirls around them: "Maybe I’m too
wasted at this second as the stewardess—oh yeah, flight
attendant—reluctantly gives me another Johnnie-boy I
unscrew and shoot. Maybe I am and I’m wrong, but he wanted me hammered
him at his level, and at his level I’ve distilled this: every time he’s
phrases to hit me below the belt, I think it’s always been a decoy to
his most vulnerable side. The side that tells the truth."
plays out these interpersonal games on the wider arena of world
neatly dovetailing first-person observations for maximum impact: "The Israelis taking tanks into
Lebanon. Palestinian settlements overrun. Bulldozed from God’s planet,
Muir, having flapped butterfly wings in New York, had I become party to
killing? How could that be? How could Muir have anything to do with
Eastern war? Muir was Berlin. Europe. Bishop: new posting to Moscow."
politics which dictate the CIA's movements and responses are every bit
realistically portrayed as the relationships between players who find
themselves in a quagmire of conflict, both internally and externally.
thriller genre, to find such an ongoing and neat juxtaposition of
vying forces. Too often, the plot rests firmly on outside influences
on the psychological profiles and games of those who seemingly are on
side, but in actuality are contenders with different goals, in
also include social and cultural references readers might also find
in the genre, lending to the story's reality-based times and place: "Muir leads me down a sole-sucking mud
path to introduce me to some girlfriend, Björk. I’ve never heard of
Muir said she’s been on Saturday Night
Live. Excuse me, but I’m an SNL
expert. If she’s not Victoria Jackson, “It’s Pat,” or
Muir is mistaken. Obviously, one of Muir’s stupid jokes. Maybe Björk’s
these obnoxious birds—some kind of marsh heron or something gawk-legged
wants to show me—what the fuck?"
As Muir's Gambit evolves, it proves a far
deeper inspection of a spy's world than most, creating a powerful story
also includes cultural references to icons that some will catch in
manners, such as a wife named Jewel.
Even a staid
investigator find himself questioning his own objectives: "I was legally assuring, illegally, that the
one man who could save him would have no power to do it...what have I
with surprises. Isn't that the mark of an exceptional genre read—its
surprise and delight even the most seasoned follower?
standouts in spy literature and cat-and-mouse suspense will relish Muir's Gambit, which succeeds on so many
levels that its course is not only unpredictable, but thoroughly
Return to Index
Bob Van Laerhoven
$36.49 Hardcover/$12.61 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
It's rare to
mystery and history wound into what is basically a military thriller,
but The Shadow of the Mole accomplishes
three goals by stretching its story to appeal to diverse audiences with
sets this stage, focusing on Jean Dumoulin's work in "Satan's Lair,"
the tunnels dug by the French Infantry under those created by the
been uncovered ...not a rarity during times of war. But what is unusual
Jean's reaction when he touches it.
this underground discovery to above-ground conundrums in the first
the infamous mystery 'Mole' receives further attention.
The Mole is
that he's died, and that the world he awakens to is the afterlife. The
believes that he is a deserter, worthy of the firing squad. And
would-be psychiatrist Michel Denis believes that the mystery man is the
The truth is
stranger than all three could guess as The Mole begins to write his
creating a cathartic experience which awakens memories that prove
anyone could have anticipated.
story of intrigue, amnesia, and discovery is compelling on many levels.
buffs interested in World War I will find the novel steeped in military
references that chart the progress and politics of the war. Those
mystery will find the intrigue woven into the tale from the point of
to its increasing puzzles about The Mole's real identity and purposes.
readers who choose The Shadow of the Mole
for its thriller components will find that action and tension
abound in a
riveting story packed with satisfying twists and turns.
footnoted references in a fictional presentation, but these are
throughout to define non-English phrases or succinctly explore setting
historical reference, even including poems and literary insights that
the progression of the story without detracting from it with too much
The real heart of
this story lies in injured physician Michel Denis as he explores not
patient's identity, but his own disability and reactions to it: "Remember you said you couldn’t
live with yourself anymore after your arm had been hacked
off ? That’s
how you said it: hacked off. And here’s what I thought, if you can’t
yourself, who is being ‘you’ then?"
and life trajectories, often forever. Its participants never emerge
The psychic and physical traumas experienced in battle resonate
and place, stretching beyond the battlefield to affect the hearts and
anyone with any connection to the war.
the world. In this case, it's Van Laerhoven's attention to capturing
details of desperation and revelation that powers The
Shadow of the Mole, compelling it to become something more
any of its characters foresaw.
between reality, insanity, and the emotional twists and turns of love
create an especially gripping story that's thoroughly unpredictable in
evolution and unique in its focus.
thrillers, military fiction, psychological inspections of reality and
and historical mystery will find that all these elements (and more)
attract a wide audience.
Return to Index
Land of Oz LLC
978-0578664972 $12.29 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
is the first book in The Elders series, and will delight readers
books about supernatural forces flavored with occult thriller elements.
An abandoned mansion in
rural Wisconsin attracts a a
family that holds high hopes for its resurrection and revitalization.
Unfortunately, the brothers who inherit this home and bring their
it in search of new beginnings find more than they anticipated when
renovations reveal a deadly threat rooted in its past and in family
From lost love opportunities
of the past and a heartbeat
from hell to the origins of ghosts that affect present-day lives,
crafts the type of supernatural dilemma that at first seems
quickly turns out to be surprising and gripping, presenting satisfying
and turns readers won't see coming.
The fact that this haunted
house story embraces a
difference sets it apart from the usual progression of events. This
especially please readers used to familiar outcomes that, here, take
routes. As the paranormal events examine history and family
readers will find delightful the presence of a ghost and a gift that
in unpredictable ways.
How does an unexplained
disappearance become a ghostly
legend? Can logic explain everything that's happening?
Readers receive a quest for
answers that revises the
typical progression of a ghostly encounter. The story is replete with
tension, satisfying character development, and an examination of events
test beliefs in technology and magic alike: "He’d
embraced technology at every turn and had become a wizard of a
persuasion, a sorcerer of technology—the only logical path in the
But now, improbably, a dangerous manifestation of that primitive era
As the first book in a
series, Shepherd's Warning provides
a satisfying backdrop for an adventure
that concludes neatly with a transformation, a new day, and the promise
Libraries seeing patron
interest in ghost stories will
find that the twists and turns of Shepherd's
Warning make it a satisfying occult thriller designed to
beyond typical readers of the paranormal, luring readers who look for
high-octane action and thought-provoking developments.
Return to Index
Black Rose Writing
is the third book in the Erica Rosen MD
trilogy, and will especially be appreciated by prior
thriller readers who enjoyed Dr. Rosen's prior medical conundrums.
Erica is a pediatrician
who faces a medical mystery when two of her young patients don't
their medication. When others begin to succumb to a mysterious illness,
Rosen finds her expertise (and heart) shaken by a series of
challenge both her medical training and abilities.
At the same
she's faced with a competitor for her job as the clinic's director. Not
Dr. Nilsen possibly after her position, but his nefarious moral
to light as she discovers that he is cultivating a romantic
relationship with a
co-worker at the clinic.
Is Dr. Nilsen also involved
in a dangerous scheme that
compromises their patients, the clinic, and the mandate of the medical
profession to "do no harm"?
Deven Greene creates
another engaging, engrossing thriller that tests Dr. Rosen's
perceptions, and investigative abilities.
"Petter already knew I was capable of trying to
pass myself off as
someone I wasn’t. I couldn’t give him another reason to distrust me."
embarks on a
search that leads her down unexpected paths of medical and personal
readers follow her into a rabbit hole of complex moral and ethical
which are paired with a solid attention to investigative
to tackle many kinds of issues again comes to the forefront in a
thriller filled with unexpected twists and turns that continues to
Rosen's life and abilities.
powerful escapade about saving not just one clinic, but herself and the
Libraries strong in medical thriller novels, and discussion groups that
for powerful female protagonists, will find plenty to like in Unforeseen, which ends with the promise
of love and, perhaps, the threat of something further to evolve in
and her readers' eyes.
Return to Index
Where Waters Run
North, book four in the Kent
Stephenson Thriller Series, opens with a
discussion of geologic and Native American history in New York,
atmospheric description of place and heritage before moving to 1999 in
first chapter. Here, forty-something Owahgena fishermen Lute and Jimmy
enjoying another sterling day, fishing on the Chittenango River.
before Chapter 2 takes a different turn, moving into Kent Stephenson's
daughter, Emily, and her horse riding training. It's a perfect morning
them, too...until a new obstacle to Olympic fame rises at the same time
scream of sirens.
Martorana's attention to detail is replete in chapters which introduce
of different experiences that dovetail on one tragic event, overlaying
scenario on everything it touches.
himself, the main character, doesn't enter the picture until the fourth
chapter; but when he does, it's with a bang of authority that swivels
attention from these three seemingly disparate scenes to an
vet who holds the ability to absorb his own perfect morning and its
possibilities for change.
the scenarios of perfect mornings and moves to Kent's vet practice,
Veterinary Center, and its interactions with animals and people in the
community. Rocked by tragedy, Kent has slacked off on his passion, but
dutifully fulfills his obligations, backed by a savvy staff that picks
slack created by his emotional turmoil.
he enters the
unfamiliar world of a murder which may have been orchestrated by
special interests, Kent finds himself once again thrust into an
position that tests his abilities, life purpose, and survival on many
creates a host of characters who each hold their own diverse
interests, bringing them together in the course of a thriller that
involvement of the future Northern Lights Resort in the community's
to its satisfying blend of animal and human dilemmas, Where
Waters Run North
is steeped in both vet insights and an investigator's understanding of
motivations and processes of all life around him: "Kent
thought back to
how Jodi had talked Azucar down from near panic. She hadn’t been just
the mindless chatter that most horsemen use to settle a nervous animal.
talking to him, actually telling the horse something, he was sure of
hypersensitive perspective lends a special ability to Kent's toolkit of
problem-solving that eventually reaches not just into the community,
his own life, as events prove a macrocosm of the psychological
Kent and Lute
find themselves both connected and treading dangerous waters of
murder, and intrigue, readers who enjoy the juxtaposition of social and
political inspection alongside the unraveling of the motivations of
and murderers will find this story filled with poignant and unexpected
of realization and discovery.
libraries that look for multifaceted reads flavored with New York
and Native American interests will find Where Waters Run North
Return to Index
W. A. Pepper
Hustle Valley Press, LLC
$24.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
You Will Know Vengeance is a debut
thriller that's first in the
projected Tanto thriller series, setting the stage with action based
of the mental and physical violent challenges facing modern society
realistic for comfort, move on. W.A. Pepper pulls no punches in
the adversity and conspiracies affecting the world, and so readers will
this scenario as familiar as it is frightening.
suicide to discrimination and prejudice, there are many triggers in
story's consideration of deep-routed social problems and individual
realistic thriller stories without being torn over man's inhumanity to
find You Will Know Vengeance a
powerful saga which promises (and delivers) a fast-paced, action-packed
of suspenseful scenarios.
story literally opens with a bang: "The
Feds give you zero notice when they kick in your door. There is no
siren. There is no knocking on your door, which is soon to be shattered
battering ram. There is only silence before the calculated chaos."
Part of what
this story an especially vivid "you are here" feel in comparison to
the majority of thrillers is Pepper's descriptive prowess, which
reaches out to
grab readers with sights, smells, and sounds: "The
vibration of a stampede of footsteps shakes my body as
leathery gloves assault my temporarily handicapable Helen Keller ass
me onto my bed, nose-first. The smells of rancid sheets and garlic fill
nostrils. A faceless assailant pins my arms behind my head and zip-ties
hands together. Then I am yanked to my feet."
routines and Hackers' Haven to a gritty, streetwise analysis of social,
political, and legal dilemmas, the story evolves on different levels to
the narrator's power and force: "My
thoughts on this are that anyone can make a mistake. For example, I
tracked a guy who was downloading a good amount of amateur porn, then
wandered into a baited snuff porn folder. That’s the videos with actual
and gore. He downloaded one file, then went back to minor league porn.
that’s like drug dealing. The first one is free. For the rest, you pay
price. In other words, you’re on my shit list."
he is working on the side of wider-ranging good, in actuality, his own
personality works against him, making him a flawed hero who is too
thwarted by high technology and low-lifes as well as his own pride. His
self-assessment is rich and astute: "If
I were a soft drink, I’d be Diet Violence or Pacifist-Lite because,
what the movies tell you, Bushi warriors were not driven by violence.
guided them, and they only took a life when there was no other option."
thriller steeped in too-possible worlds, undercurrents of society that
today, technological conundrums, and the added overlay of interpersonal
relationship challenges affected by conspiracy will find all these
more in You Will Know Vengeance.
the shelves of any library devoted to building a solid, exceptional
of thriller novels, and is highly recommended for readers who can
trigger subjects in the interest of a complex, thoroughly absorbing
Return to Index
Paper Stone Press
978‑1‑990388‑02‑6 $14.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
If one of
fiction's attractions is its ability to bring bygone times and old
life for modern audiences, then it's well evident that Bitter
for Sweet more than fits this charge. It examines the lives
of two very different young women of 76
BCE, which are powered
by the influences of Middle East politics and society.
a girl fleeing into the desert, pursued by the Moabite raiders who are
slaughtering her people. The experience moves from the child's
to the observations of great carrion birds with wingspans of nine feet
watch as events unfold, creating an intriguing contrast in perspectives
enhances the story as thirteen-year-old Cypros struggles to survive.
an intriguing disparity not just in perspectives, but in lives as he
unusual approaches to both into his descriptions: "She
intended to marry a Jewish governor’s son next year. Eight
raiders pursued her.
He takes the
thoroughly capture the environment and its dissimilar peoples, setting
stage for political and social
that evolve in the course of the story to create a satisfying "you are
here" feel to its narrative.
This is part
separates an engrossing historical fiction piece from one which is so
fact-centered that it teeters on the dryness of nonfiction. Potter's
place readers on firm ground in this era, even without any prior
with its events, history, or peoples, makes for a story that is
for those familiar with the ancient times and readers who may hold
interest or expertise in the era.
Hebrew and Jewish traditions are surveyed and passed down, readers
education in Jewish history and Middle East peoples alike, as seen
eyes of two very different women.
home, and political alliances emerge, powered by the logic of history
emotional connections of women who face many changes and conflicts over
roles in life.
As the two
women move towards a confrontation with these forces (and, eventually,
another), readers who look for powerful female-centered perceptions and
experiences will especially appreciate the strong presence of both in a
in these times.
Bitter for Sweet is an example of
historical fiction at its best,
firmly resting on facts, but powered by the dilemmas and strengths of
characters faced with transformative encounters that change their life
trajectories and their relationships.
historical fiction able to attract beyond its genre readership will
find Bitter for Sweet a strong pick
recommended not just for historical novel readers, but followers of
fiction, history, and experience.
Return to Index
High-Top Publishing LLC
fiction well know the tendency towards formula writing that this genre
Perhaps more so than most genres, that tendency has created a set of
expectations about not only what its fiction will hold, but the
and progression of its characters and Western settings.
That's why Crippled Jack by Boston Teran is such a
standout. It's revisionist writing at its best, turning the Western
end with a story that is delightfully unexpected and evocative. The
blend of historical fact and revolutionary concepts come alive under
a young boy who has been tied up and abandoned on a trail, left behind
cryptic note attached to him to await death or God's intervention:
the form of twenty-eight-year-old Ledru Drum, who is making his way
following the Chihuahua Trail, when he stumbles upon the terrified,
child who will change his life.
grows up to
be the marksman known as Crippled Jack, forging a name and reputation
belays his disabilities and places him in a powerful position.
connections with equally forceful personalities who belay their sex and
heritage to make names for themselves during changing times creates a
of a very different ilk. The story follows its characters through
political, and psychological lawlessness and into worlds where their
weaknesses prove to be uncommon strengths.
skilled at presenting and contrasting the experiences of men and women
injecting the psychological self-inspections with social reflections
realistic drama and dilemmas to each character's world: "Nola
stared out into the night to where the smelter furnaces
looked like huge open mouths of fire, ready and willing to feed on you.
began to cry because she could not escape feelings that had power and
over her. Her humanity was in a struggle with hard moments, and how
play out she could barely imagine."
intrigue, and confrontations immerse Nola Dyle and Matthew Drum in
which both set them apart and make them notoriously different figures
West, readers will especially appreciate the attention Teran gives to
scenes built on mercurial relationships.
Western story that is actually a literary piece that employs all the
of the Western, but elevates the plot to a higher level entirely. This
appreciate appeal to literary readers looking for something different.
standout Western-centric novels, as well as book clubs reading Westerns
seek reads both satisfyingly complex and outstandingly unique, will
both find Crippled Jack absorbing
Return to Index
Terrance C. Newby
978-1977252029 $32.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Dangerfield's Promise is a satisfying
blend of literary history and
contemporary concerns, laced with the atmosphere of magical realism.
many elements at work, one might anticipate a weighty read, but the
Dangerfield Newby, a newly-freed black man who determines to buy his
children out of slavery, is a compelling creation that needs no
familiarity or literary acuity in order to prove attractive to a wide
free his family by himself, and so he joins abolitionist John Brown in
effort to change the law of the land, only to be killed before he
modern times, where black surgeon Michael Turner is estranged from his
because his ambition and goals set him apart and make him seem not just
but distant from their lives, experiences, and concerns.
deathbed confession introduces the possibility that Michael is related
Dangerfield Newby, intriguing him to the point that he makes it his
learn more about his family history.
skeletons rattle in the closet. Less predictable and satisfyingly
are the journeys Michael undertakes as he uncovers truths about the
connects them to conundrums he faces in his present-day life and
creates a powerful story that rests firmly upon these newfound
revelations: "His grandmother looked at him
mustered a weak smile. "So that’s all they taught you in
school,' she said softly. "All that education, and
you don’t know nothing about your history, your own people, about
important,” she said. “I never got past eighth grade, but I know about
things that matter to folks.”
become intrinsically connected to Dangerfield's life, both
their perspectives come to life in a powerful novel that doesn't just
black history, but embraces it. It becomes a living testimony to
endurance, perseverance, and the missing pieces of a man's past that
to change the present.
causes other families to examine and raise issues from the past, and
involve new questions about belief, legacy, and destiny. Ultimately,
revelations lead to a new life.
Ideally, Dangerfield's Promise should reach a
wide audience that looks for extraordinary black literature that
historical precedent with life-changing present-day events.
historical roots are powerfully wrought and highly recommended not just
individual reading, but for discussion groups that consider the nature
Return to Index
9798830483568 $14.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Expulsion is a historical novel of the
Spanish Inquisition that
cultivates a different point of view than most fictional writings of
times. It delivers the viewpoint of a woman charged with surviving not
Inquisition, but the Edict of Expulsion, imparting a "you are here"
feel by employing the first person and adding the observations and
of women who surround Basseva, the youngest daughter in a Segovian
beginning (which opens with a woman's scream), Sherry Ostroff
kinds of observations that bring history to rich life.
is set to enter into an arranged marriage with one she's known about
of her life, convinced that "My
wedding day would be the happiest day of my life. Nothing in the world
alter that." Eventually she realizes that even greater
changes are in
the wind. Ostroff's ability to create characters that are realistic and
memorable, from cooks and washerwomen to those who, like Basseva,
higher strata of society, provides keys to understanding the events,
and impact of the Spanish Inquisition from a more intimate vantage
most historical novels on the subject.
Basseva's growing knowledge that the interrogations which have become
daily life are changing and threatening it, drawing ever closer to her
transform her experiences and mindset, are particularly revealing: "At first, I rationalized Beatriz’s
absence. Something must have gone wrong at her interrogation. Were
Alonso’s demands unreasonable? Requiring witnesses who couldn’t be
evidence that didn’t exist? Perhaps, it was the physician. Did he have
revelation? A remembrance of the oath he took, to treat the sick to the
his ability. I scoffed at the vision of the physician’s change of
cellmate’s long overdue return was more likely a result of a detour to
chamber of terrors, regardless of her ailment. After the second day, I
on my excuses and watched for other clues."
events of the Inquisition to bring history to life as Basseva finds
navigating more than marriage and a husband, which were the trajectory
life before politics and strife changed everything.
“No one asks and no one knows."
who becomes Catholic, but preserves his Jewish roots in his heart, to a
who aspires to sainthood and Bassiva's arrest and trials, Ostroff's
embraces the extent of the Inquisition era. It deftly depicts the
political forces that drive not only inquisitors, but those who bow
or struggle to survive without betraying their heritages.
characters, the facts of their lives and times, and the history all
added discussion at book's end. This lends to its assignment in
this era and these events. Students will appreciate the opportunity to
and debate events on a more accessible, personal level than most
nonfiction or even
fictional accounts offer.
If only one
to be chosen about the Inquisition's experience, it should be Expulsion. Its attention to melding
historical facts with women's experiences and viewpoints, and its
portrait of revised lives and struggles for survival, have their roots
facts about the times, which Ostroff researched in depth.
Return to Index
Anne Marie Bennett
979-8-9860503-1-7 $10.99 PB/$4.99 Kindle
fiction and literature who look for stories that represent a sense of
(Maine) and change, with flavors of mystery and romance tossed into the
spice the results, will relish Feathers
in the Sand.
single mother in her forties. She is so driven to reinvent her life
lost touch with her son and daughter, who stand on the cusp of their
changes as new adults and pre-teens.
arises for her to make a move to the small Maine town of Seahaven, the
change moves her from big-career opportunities and promises to a home
embraces the things that are truly important—family.
around feathers that begin to appear in strange places. Eleven-year-old
daughter Eva thinks they come from angels. They hold intrigue (and also
promise) as Tess begins to move in the direction of reframing her
creates a moving story filled with candid introspections, revelations,
several unexpected twists and turns.
Tess is a likeable character whose changing goals and life feels
compelling. Bennett takes the time to explore family relationships from
different perspectives. This approach rounds out the characters and
perceptions of events and the culture around them: "Eva
was swinging her mother’s hand again. She thought they looked
a little bit like a younger version of the famous Gilmore Girls—a
mother and a
daughter walking side by side down the bustling street of a small town.
brunettes with straight hair and fair skin. Exactly like Lorelai and
Well, not exactly. More like their own version of the Gilmore
Girls. She felt happy, but she wasn’t quite certain it
life holds unexpected surprises.
Tess and her
find out more about these as she and son Micah face their own special
women's fiction story that is delightfully evocative and gently
relish the moves Tess makes (and the discoveries that stem from her
Feathers in the Sand, a novel which
should be in library collections of contemporary women's fiction.
Return to Index
Ashley E. Sweeney
She Writes Pres
978-1647422332 $17.95 Paper/$9.49 Kindle
historical Western novel set in Arizona Territory in 1899, where Ruby Fortune faces the choice of either
ongoing abuse or murdering her husband. Her decision to kill him gives
uncertain freedom in a story which is delivered with the gritty tone of
narrator used to surviving a rough world: "In
the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, or so I’ve been
Well, He must’ve had His knickers in a knot when He conjured up Arizona
Territory because there’s nothing but dust and cactus and rattlesnakes
parts—and some of the rattiest men you’ll meet this side of Kingdom
much is true. No one comes to Arizona Territory on holiday. For land or
or gold, yes. Or to escape something you’d rather soon forget. Or to be
you couldn’t be in Tennessee or West Virginia or Arkansas, or wherever
from, your pants or your wit or your dick too short."
Ruby's confiding dialogue of
introduction captures her
personality, surroundings, and choices. Her discourse might at first
confessional and rambling, but quickly assumes the intriguing delivery
character whose world is filled with questions, challenges, and
consequences: "One minute, God’s perched on
shoulder and I whistle through my teeth, and then, quick as I pulled
trigger in the traveling show, the devil himself’s got his claws into
hissing in my ear, and he’s got his reasons for doing so."
"Hear me out," she implores,
before her story
switches to the third person to describe the journey that led her to
of a living hell and fading possibilities of ever seeing heaven.
More so than many Westerns,
Ashley E. Sweeney's narrative
takes time to capture the environment and influences of the West as she
the backdrop to Ruby's life: "Ruby
has borrowed Doc Swendsen’s best mare today before she changes her
horse path up Oldfather Peak is slower than the ore road, but less
dangerous—don’t want to be crushed by a twenty-mule hitch careening
mountain, hell bent for leather, drivers cussing like cowboys that a
riding up into their domain. “C’mon, Maisie. ’Atta girl.” Ruby clicks
tongue. She needs to rein in her shaky nerves today. She’s had two
whiskey and it isn’t noon yet."
Sweeney's equal attention to
emotional confrontations and
individual growth bring Jericho and its surroundings to life, spicing
with a realistic overtone that compels readers to absorb Ruby's
faces a broken country, Indian troubles and abandoned forts, and new
to her own survival. The action is ongoing and well-described,
presented with a
"you are here" feel that readers will appreciate: "From
an indeterminate distance, a
gunshot cracks. Sam stiffens. Ruby’s hand instinctively goes to her
pistol. She spins around. Boulders line the pools in every direction.
someone were after them there, Sam and Ruby would be cornered. Ruby
who fired the round or from where."
Ruby's gritty determination
to not just survive, but
thrive, makes her an admirable character at once flawed and powerful.
particularly, will appreciate a female-centered Western atmosphere
the genre, replete with Ruby's conviction that "women rule the world"
despite their seeming vulnerabilities.
The result is a Western that
goes beyond most in
depicting a strong female character whose changing perspectives and
make her a formidable survivor in an alien land.
Libraries looking for
Westerns that are high-octane in
their action and female presence will welcome the opportunity to add
facets to their collections via the highly recommended, thoroughly
Return to Index
Dr. Ashley Oliphant
Higher Education: Chronicles of a Dumpster Fire
author's decades of teaching college, but assumes a fictional form to
wider audience that includes leisure readers interested in higher
the fictional Clary-Smith University introduced in In Search
Buffett: A Key West Revival, serving
as a prequel to events which require no prior reader knowledge to prove
the academic years of 2010-2011 in this story, which continues to
sense of ironic humor and inspections of Dr. Oliphant's prior works: "All of our student athletes have
returned to the practice field, and
I am certain the Clary-Smith Flying Squirrels are going to soar high again this year."
One strength of Higher Education lies in its special
form of delivery. From memos to academics to emails between them, the
changing format and interactions adds excitement and fun as events play
out: "ROGER: And
now we can’t even choose our own britches. That was
their big “aha” moment of the weekend. We should take away
the faculty’s power to pick their pants.
LIVIE: The hell we can’t choose. I’m the program coordinator, and they pay me a stipend of $1,000 a year before taxes to have big ideas. Give me a few hours."
dialogue, adds drama and interest to the story line, and creates a
interplay between characters, political and social situations, and the
environment and its students and instructors. All these facets keep the
exciting and dramatic.
those familiar with the college environment) can anticipate many
moments as the confrontations and ironic dilemmas play out to prompt a
clashes between writers from all walks of university life: "Dear Dr. Pendleton, please stop posting “Unspoken
God knows the need” on Facebook. If the Almighty is on top of it, you
need us for anything other than attention."
is a romp
through academia that provides not just much food for thought, but a
refreshingly original approach to the academic world which considers
follies and fancies of colleagues, leaders, and professors who would
buck the system or confront its failures.
in the Clary-Smith Clarion (a "covert faculty newspaper" portrayed in
the novel) perhaps says it all: "Higher
education is a dumpster fire, and we don’t have the budget to buy
libraries catering to them will find the ironic humor and university
inspections simply delightful, making Higher
Education a top recommendation.
Return to Index
978-1-61088-553-9 $27.95 Hardcover/$9.49 Kindle
Must Read Well is a novel steeped in
suspense, and revelation. Twenty-something scholar Elizabeth Miller and
almost-ninety writer Anne Weil initially seem to have much in common,
their literary interests. But Anne, a recluse, has repeatedly rejected
desire for connection in the past, and only accepts a relationship now
half-blind, she is in need of someone to read to her.
It turns out
is charged with reading not others' books, but Anne's own journals,
almost indecipherable hand. They offer surprising clues to her secret
a love affair that ideally should never see the light of day and public
Bound by a
agreement not to disclose what she comes to know, Liz finds herself in
unexpected dilemma as she pursues these journal contents and comes to
Anne's life in a way that her dissertation studies about the woman
prepared her for.
Must Read Well is a study in secrets,
literature, love, and
connections between a muse and a woman who is still a student in many
It crafts a
filled with literary and biographical inspection as Liz comes to
Anne's masterpiece work holds its roots in real life events: "As I read this paragraph, I thought of
the early scene in Vengeance when
Howard Clark explodes with fury at Catherine for refusing to quit her
do this and people think my wife has to work!” he shouts, stalking
around her as she sits on their living-room couch. “Is that why you do
purpose to humiliate me? Just stay at home, for Chrissake! Just stay
Cathy. How hard is that to do?”
important questions not just about the writer, but Liz's role as a
is gaining increasing knowledge about secrets of the past: "But could pure imagination have sustained the
torrent of rage in
intriguing dance between discovery, literary wellsprings of influence
reflection, and the connections between two powerful, literate women
their worlds intersecting at a critical junction in their lives.
involved in changing hearts and minds based on past revelations, she
herself in a delicate position with a recluse who fiercely guards the
her journals and their deepest secrets.
is a story
that excels in suspense, revelation, and unexpected, changing
psychological tension and evocative explorations of lies, truth, and
will especially attract libraries and readers interested in women's
works that goe the extra mile to reveal the ironies and driving force
famous author's writing life and real world.
Anne's legacy and walk further into her life?
The story is
on many levels, and is highly recommended reading for women who enjoy
steeped in interpersonal relationships, growth, and surprising
Return to Index
Larry F. Sommers
DX Varos Publishing
978-1-955065-58-0 $19.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Fans of historical
fiction who enjoy stories about immigration and pioneer experience will
find Price of Passage: A
Tale of Immigration and Liberation just the ticket for an absorbing tale of evolution
The story opens in Norway in
1853, where Anders
Gunstensen is facing an abusive uncle while dreaming of his imminent
to new opportunities in North America. When he actually leaves, fleeing
law, it's with the intention of finding the honor missing from his life
Norway. He didn't anticipate finding love on the journey, but
daughter Maria is irresistible and is on her own course for a life
the two come together and marry.
The other thing they didn't
anticipate finding in their
new country of opportunity was elements of some of the things they each
from in their home countries.
Slave Daniel, found hiding
in their barnyard, draws
Anders and Maria into a conflict in their newfound home and land,
issues of racism and slavery that test their ability to build a family
a difference in their new home.
Larry F. Sommers
provides a different immigrant focus than most. He juxtaposes elements
of a new
life purpose with social challenges that force Maria and Anders to
their revised roles and attitudes towards past and present obstacles
As a blossoming civil war
brings with it demands to
respond in different ways, each character assumes a role that takes
into the concept of the land of the free and the responsibilities this
Sommers moves between the
viewpoints of Maria, Anders,
and Daniel. These are clearly outlined in chapter headings which make
transitions smooth as each character builds an independent image of
influences, interests, and ethical conundrums.
The result is an immigrant
story that melds the rise of
social change into an arrival experience that holds unforeseen
Libraries looking for a
vivid story of immigrant
experience in a historical presentation that adds the backdrop of Civil
encounters will find Price
of Passage a vivid inspection and
reflection that takes three seemingly disparate lives and unifies their
and drive to not just survive, but make a difference.
Ideally, Price of Passage will also attract
historical novel book clubs contrasting the similarities and
between immigrant and slave perspectives in mid-1800s America.
Return to Index
The Real Paul Makinen?
David R. Yale
A Healthy Relationship Press, LLC
Ebook: 979-8-9863006-0-3 $ 4.99
Paperback, Part 1: 978-0-9791766-0-9 $14.95
Paperback, Part 2: 978-0-9791766-1-6 $14.95
Paperback, Part 3: 978-0-9791766-3-0 $14.95
Makinen? is a novel not for those seeking quick reads, but is
recommended for readers not daunted by complex, in-depth probes of
relationships, from family and work to potential loved ones.
Set in three parts, it
introduces the milieu of
Minneapolis in the early 1970s, where the 19-year-old Paul receives his
notice, refuses to go, and is summarily thrown out of his parents'
It's not as though he's
leaving a loving but strict home.
From the start, his abusive and controlling father Edward has created
situations that have continually challenged Paul's life. His mother
in being harsh. And it seems they'd rather have a dead son, like his
dutiful brother, than one who avoids the call to war and duty.
Paul questions his parents'
ultimatum, partially based on
his dead brother's plea to him not to follow in his footsteps should he
called. His protests fall on deaf ears as his parents insist that Paul
their vision of his life and its purposes: “Duty?
What does that even mean?” I said.
“To serve your country,” Edward said, banging his fist on my dresser. “No son of mine’s going to wimp out.”
His unforgiving and violent
home life seem the least likely
roots from which to get a job helping teens, but Paul has evolved
influences in some surprising ways. These paths are probed and depicted
the course of a story that is vividly represented.
David R. Yale introduces
many subplots and thought-provoking
moments, from the role of a mentor in Paul's life that helps belay his
negative teachings to a girlfriend who holds the potential to become
more than a transient romantic interest.
Yale peppers his story with
reflective passages to give
readers pause in their food for thought: "Joe,
a grown man, a college graduate, had changed all that. It was Joe who
the Teen Council that turned things around here. And me? Still a
homeless, with a draft notice in my pocket, who still had no idea what
doing. Everyone knew I was a fraud. I was not the real Paul Mäkinen,
even if I
was on the Teen Council for a year."
While an identity crisis
lies at the heart of this story,
also intrinsic to its success and unique approach is a growth process
the simultaneously savvy and life-ignorant Paul receives lessons not
how community works, but his own possible places in it.
Paul's growing awareness of
the world works on broader
terms than just his own psyche and life. That's one of the strengths of
The Real Paul Makinen? as it grows
embrace issues of climate change, business savvy, and evolving
friendships: "Harry pointed up. 'Looks like
is finally blowing that red murk away.'
'Can you imagine, we breathe that stuff in!' I said. 'Probably worse than smoking, huh?'”
The dialogue and local lingo
is also a strong key to the
story's developments, juxtaposing action with a personal dramatic
that brings not just the first-person Paul but all the characters
around him to
Part of the reason why this
story is so lengthy is that
Yale also takes the time to capture the moments of life experience
steeped in taste, smell, and new experiences: "I
took a bite of sandwich. I loved the feeling of salty caviar
globules bursting when I chewed them, the contrast between oily caviar
moist, crispy green pepper. As Rennie ate, she perked up. 'You want
Paavali? I’ll make them.' She came back with
ham, cheese, and tomato sandwiches. The salty ham and nutty, sweet
cheese worked together with the tomato to make a flavor harmony."
The level of detail may be
unexpected in a coming-of-age
story, but here's the thing: The Real
Paul Makinen? is not a light examination. It pulls no corners
or punches as
it gathers a wide range of life perspectives, influences, and logic and
that direct the course of Paul's budding new adult years.
Where other stories might
skimp in favor of a quicker
plot with easy resolution, The Real Paul
takes the longer, more detailed path whether it's describing changing
environments, changing hearts and minds, or teens on the cusp of
decisions and life-changing choices which come with unexpected
The Teen Council and Paul's
involvement in it is one of
the strong threads of a story that shows how different kinds of
to better lives all around. Its involvement in neighborhood dreams and
politics, smear campaigns and union-busting manipulations, and an
community that explodes in reaction to its local issues and the overlay
death in Vietnam makes for a powerful, in-depth read.
Makinen? is presented not just in several parts, but many
layers. It is not
a read for those who expect quick, pat resolutions and the usual
growth story, but takes the time to explore the social, political, and
psychological complexities buffeting a young man's life and changing
of his future and interests.
As Paul also tackles the
roots of problems caused by his
abusive family roots and his tendency to react to life circumstances
dysfunctional teachings, readers will have plenty of opportunity to
the lasting impact of family psychology and influence.
All these facets and more
create a story that is
unusually rooted in a sense of time, place, and community interactions
While mature teens would be
a fine audience for it, it's
a shame that a prerequisite for The Real
Paul Makinen? is an ability to hold a degree of attention and
Twitter generation users might not have.
Ideally, its powerful
messages and winding course of
growth and confrontation will be assigned as classroom reading for
and the subject of book club discussion for adults seeking a far
bigger-picture story of growth than the usual coming-of-age saga.
Its bittersweet depiction of
love, loss, growth, and
social and political involvement as seen through the eyes of a teen who
influences not just his life, but those around him, is an outstanding
representation of life that deserves top billing in any collection
literary works that move from personal struggle to deeper political and
Return to Index
Return to Canyon
979-8-9860110-0-4 $18.95 Paper/11.99 ebook
Return to Canyon Creek is the third
installment of a Western
series, but newcomers to the efforts of gunslingers Luxton Danner and
will find their world of the late 1800s an effortless place to absorb.
Gilford Knox will do anything to acquire land surrounding the town of
Creek so he can turn it into a thriving boomtown. His efforts to bully,
or otherwise buy out the townspeople results in an increasing seat of
which he employs to change the face of the town for his own purposes.
Danner and Wes Payne are tapped to step up and stop him.
Shelley Robertson, and other Canyon Creek residents find themselves
in a battle for their town and place in it, readers receive a lively
struggle for power that paints a vivid picture of place and purpose as
townspeople join together to regain their homes and see justice served.
murders to mayhem, come to life under John Layne's hand.
His vivid descriptions of standoffs, showdowns, legal and social
the various special interests of a truly wild—and steadily
town make for an engrossing story replete in not just confrontation,
realizations about the price of growth and change at all costs.
scenes throughout the course of these events: “You
take to gunning down women?” Danner barked; his fatigued body now
energized with the bolt of an adrenaline surge. People flocked out of
nearby building door, including both saloons. Boot and shoe heels
the boardwalks sending echoes up and down both sides of the street.
flew open, filled with anxious faces wanting to see the showdown."
action, realistic sense of the times and its people, and strong
characterization captures the rugged times and the forces which clash
different visions of opportunities and lifestyles in the West.
and other classic Western writers well know the compelling feel of an
authentically portrayed world, and Return
to Canyon Creek mirrors this powerful approach as it adds to
about the making and breaking of Texas.
consider it a fine addition to any traditional Western fiction
looking for contemporary writers that capture the passion and fire of
Return to Index
is the first book in the School of Enlightenment Regency romance
introducing the character of eighteen-year-old Sophia
Wilkinson, an orphan charged with entering London society.
seeking neither romance nor a husband, but both fall into her lap as
navigates the attention of Edward Morduan, a new Earl whose charge is
manage his family's estate and produce heirs for the future.
a circumspect romance from this description, they'd be wrong. A fiery
runs through the story which embraces sexual fantasy and
erotically described to titillate readers looking for racy reading.
however, is offset by a story replete in social and political
where the sassy Sophia and the uncertain yet powerful Earl are strange
attractors in the new worlds they inhabit.
Maggie Sims outlines a
satisfyingly complex story that is
filled with ironic social observations, and heady emotional and
passion. She deftly outlines the entwined plights of characters that
move above their station in life in order to find love while managing
everything from estates to special interests.
Edward's penchant for
spanking introduces Sophia to
blazing new worlds and possibilities both inside and outside the
erotic dance comes to life as they break traditionals rules and make
both individually and with one another.
Sims creates a story that
embraces diverse perspectives
and the possibilities of a love that wants to teach, possess, and bind
participants in different ways.
Readers who look for a blend
of sexual exploration,
romance, and social inspection set against the backdrop of high society
characters that introduce prior emotional baggage into their
find plenty to like in this fiery, passionate story.
Sophia's sexual journey is simply captivating,
carrying romance readers into a world of passion and revised purposes.
Return to Index
is a novel about money, power, and two powerful businessmen who become
with a Russian oligarch. Their business dilemmas are further
complicated by a
reporter with a nose for trouble, creating a fine interplay between
who each hold special interests and demonstrate flawed reasoning about
and how to use them.
Jeffrey Marshall presents a
fine consideration of high
society, the seats and roots of power, and the motivations and special
interests that drive them.
As his story swirls through
the upper echelons of New
York, London, and the lives of men and women who would grasp and hold
and political power, he leads readers on a romp through different
become connected by power plays and personal gain.
Business and political
satire are introduced to give the
story a wry sense of comic relief, with allusions presenting uncommon
unexpected correlations that literary readers will find especially
interesting: "Restive investors, competitors
battling for market share, consumer watchdogs, his own board and
team, there was no telling where the next crisis would come from.
felt like being holed up in a wagon train in an old Western with a band
circling Indians pumping arrows at you."
From blackmail motives and
scenarios to poor decisions
that compound problems and vulnerabilities, readers receive an
that moves from business banking and political interests to family
and the specter of retirement.
As the Ripovsky investment
evolves a cast of characters
immersed in secrets, intrigue, and company politics, business readers
those who enjoy business and political thrillers) will find plenty to
absorbing cat-and-mouse game presents new dilemmas and environments to
characters who supposedly are at the top of their financial game.
Libraries seeing interest in
business and thriller novels
that intersect the two topics will welcome the addition of Squeeze Plays. It's an involving story
that takes many
unpredictable twists and turns as it winds through business and
influences on poor and good decisions alike.
Return to Index
3982475511 $9.99 Paperback/.99 ebook
"a killer but not a monster." At least, that's what she would have
others think. In fact, she'd prefer to be remembered as a savior,
actions that would indicate otherwise. The reasons for her disparate
are revealed during the course of a story that rocks its readers with a
satisfying blend of intrigue, psychological inspection, and
tale opens with Zoe in an insane asylum, locked up for what she has
(which, ironically, to her mind, is to save humanity from invading
fact that there was collateral damage during that process is what has
her in this place. The story then unfolds into a world of romance and
Zoe enters the unfamiliar.
describes her journey with evocative phrasing that blends wry
ironic, atmospheric description: "Mister Long-face Scowling Man
like a song, huh. Well, if it was a song, it would be a dirge, the
music to my life for the next two years."
These create a haunting sense of place cemented
metaphors that are unexpected in a novel of self-inspection and
streets that were soot dark but for the gentle glow of our rolling
are now not. It is like being in a city bathed in streetlights
ash, not sodium."
Zoe questions her experiences early on,
if they are hallucinations or illusions. But as she enters the fray to
serial killer, the question arises as to whether she is saving humanity
aliens, as she believes, or is single-handled destroying lives because
Norris crafts an intriguing journey through the
mind of a woman who becomes a killer out of necessity.
As Zoe explores her experiences and the
for her actions and questions her psyche and perceptions, readers are
wonder, themselves, if she is insane, or a hero.
She assumes many personas during the course of
journey: investigator, saviour, abuse victim, and adventurer "blowing
the gateway to the Devil's dungeon."
From top-secret plans leading to the end of
Zoe's evolution as the last chance to prevent a slaughter, readers are
led on a
march through reality and the impossible through Zoe's eyes and vastly
The action and tension are well done and keep
readers guessing and on their toes, but it's Zoe's spunky personality
changing convictions about what is going on (and her role in it) that
the foundation food for thought that keep readers engaged in her
also questioning their outcomes).
Norris also injects a philosophical edge to
readers answer why Zoe feels compelled to step up to the plate and
just herself and loved ones, but all of humanity: "Humans
are imperfect, God knows. We murder and we destroy. We ravage and rape. People and the
planet, both. And
yet we are all we have. And we can be better. Better versions of
within reach, just around the corner, so close. I truly believe that.
we can reach out and almost touch it."
The result is a venture into aliens, insanity,
murder, and redemption which goes the extra mile in creating a hero who
questions her flaws, yet perseveres for the sake of a greater good.
Whether readers choose Zoe
Hearty and the Space Invaders for its thriller, intrigue,
social examination components, one thing is certain: it's a story that
in weaving an inspection of all these elements and more, resulting in a
powerful exploration that keeps evolving new influences, possibilities,
realities along the way.
Return to Index
The ABC Tour
Author: Jon Udry
Layout/Design: Ben McCabe
Modern Vaudeville Press
Juggler and comedian Jon
Udry completed his 'ABC Tour'
which involved 26 shows in 26
different venues, one for each letter of the alphabet.
The ABC Tour: A
from A to Z captures
remarkable achievement as Udry travels to very different venues,
A-Z chapter headings that organize this journey ("A is for Aquarium; B
for Bakery; C is for Castle; D if for Doorshop; E is for Eden Project;
F is for
Forest; G is for Gallery; H is for Hairdresser; I is for Internet; J is
Jon's rules for the tour, in addition to the
consecutive nature of following the alphabet, added additional
including: "One of the most important was that each location
had to be
a non-venue where you would not expect to see a show."
By crafting and controlling
the concept of a tour to make
its incarnation even more unusual, reaching places and audiences unused
entertainment, Udry expands the nature of his craft to bring it to the
attention of diverse audiences who might not otherwise have been
The tour took over two years
to complete. This book
represented yet another self-challenge, because Udry admits in his
that "I am a writer in the same way
that someone assembling flat-pack furniture is a carpenter or that
making beans on toast is a chef. That being said, here I am writing a
book." Even in print, the comedy shines.
If readers wonder how a
performance artist can properly
represent the art in written word, Udry's title serves as the prime
how different mediums can still capture an artistic endeavor.
From funding an
unconventional effort that received only
skepticism from business managers to the repeated challenges Udry came
to accompany each venue visit, readers receive a lively set of insights
highlight the effort.
Udry doesn't just provide
verbal and photographic images
of this tour. He covers the thinking process that went into selecting
representative environments for each letter of the alphabetic, such as
for Knitting Club': "I loved the
thought of performing to an audience of people that were knitting. It
seemed really lovely to me. Before I could start my search for a
I needed to define what one was. Is it just a group of people knitting?
this mean the location doesn’t matter? If people are knitting in a
that a knitting club? I think yes. If they are knitting outside in a
that a knitting club? This feels like a no. If they are knitting in an
is this a knitting club? I think yes. If they are knitting at a bus
this a knitting club? I think not."
More than a collection of
fun illustrations and juggling
descriptions, Udry's book excels in pinpointing the whimsy and logical
that went into his tour: "Perhaps
you are reading this because you love alphabets and feel ambivalent
juggling at best. If so, I apologise for the lack of alphabet-related
That being said, if I am running a club of any type, and a stranger
to offer a free show involving something I have no interest in – but
raise money for my club or my chosen charity – then I would absolutely
But I am also the type of person that would willingly choose to do
awkward shows in difficult venues for free."
While performing arts
libraries would of course be the
logical group interested in The ABC Tour,
it would be a shame to limit its audience to fellow performers alone.
Jon Udry's ability to reach
a non-juggling, non-performer
audience with his wit and explorations of organizing tours and
their parameters will ideally reach book clubs and discussion groups
in the intersection of comedy, sport, and performance worlds.
In and of itself, The
ABC Tour is a representation of creative thinking that goes
theme to reach audiences interested in exploring self-challenging
efforts and ways
of thinking outside the box, and is very highly recommended to a wide
not just of performers, but all kinds of readers looking for creative,
whimsical, and thought-provoking fun.
Return to Index
Connie L. Nelson
George Gregory Nelson Publishing
979-8-9856105-1-2 $15.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Cavalier: The Story of an Unsolved Murder in a
Small Town is a true
crime memoir that centers on the true story of Connie L. Nelson's
Jack Wahl, who was murdered in his home one night in 1986.
own research into the crime, which remained unsolved, using
communications, the investigation notes provided by the current Pembina
sheriff and his deputy, and newspaper reports from that time. As she
truth that remained elusive, her life changed.
The crime remains unsolved. No
ever been charged or convicted with her friend’s murder. But the sorrow
pain of being a murderer's collateral damage remained, and so Nelson
written this book about the events that transformed her life.
readers as well as those involved in the psychology of relationships
murder and unresolved crimes will find much to appreciate in the way
pursued her subject.
thought-provoking angles on murder which affects close friends as much
family, yet constantly locks out friends from discussions and insights,
for a story that needed to be written as much for other victims of
crimes as for true crime readers: "If
you have had a loved one die suddenly, you probably know the heartache
getting to say goodbye. When the sudden death isn’t due to a long-term
or a car accident, but instead an unsolved murder, it’s like a wound
doesn’t heal. And when the murder takes place in a small town, everyone
know could be the potential murderer—just one of the ways the crime
life.Another way it changed was that I was forced to see myself from
viewpoint: I was just a
If Jack had been a relative, I would have been included in the
law enforcement, but I was not interviewed as part of the official
investigation—and I felt I had a valuable perspective on Jack’s life."
nicely into true crime experiences, processes, and revelations to
realistic and emotion-driven "you are here" feel to the story.
has crafted the perfect true crime saga because of its wider-ranging
considerations of the effects of a small town murder on those who
alongside a perp who remains mercurial and unidentified.
explored in thought-provoking passages that broaden the concerns and
murder has on the entire community; especially in a small town: "The citizens and communities of
Cavalier and Pembina County need closure too. After there has been a
a small community, where everyone knows each other, it is difficult to
to feeling safe and secure. Do they still worry when strangers come to
they lock their doors at night? Does the murderer still live among
of psychological, social, and criminal impacts of unresolved crimes is
drawing together a number of resources to make points that most true
include, yet move beyond, her personal connections and perspective to
the wider issues affecting the legal, social, and political processes
community sets Cavalier apart from
the usual true crime story. It's thus a highly recommended pick not
libraries interested in criminology and sociology, but for discussion
analyzing the impact of unresolved grief that affects individuals and
as a whole.
Return to Index
Cemetery Reflections belongs in any arts
or history collection
strong in photography or monument records. It provides a powerful
history of three centuries of American graveyards, pairing black and
color images with literary reflections (both poetry and prose) which
philosophical and psychological writing.
the psychology of grief, the literary expression of loss, and the
of graveyards as places that both inspire and give pause for thought
these images and written words capture the longstanding traditions of
burial, and mourning in America.
mourning and presentation of epitaphs and tributes to the deceased and
alike make for a powerful presentation that should ideally transcend
audiences to also reach circles of survivors struggling with grief.
an evocative mix of insights on all kinds of attitudes towards death,
relish the dual impact of photos and language surrounding it.
arts and psychology libraries will all appreciate this diverse
headstones and the stories they tell, and will find the collection
literary and philosophical insights and discussions.
discussion groups on grief and surviving will use it to bring to light
emotions that surround death, exploring the artistic and emotional draw
Cemetery Reflections explores and
Return to Index
Neil Perry Gordon
978-1-7326677-4-7 $16.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
As the third and final book
of a trilogy, Denali: The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope
holds the promise of
resolution to the story, which is set in the early 1900s. Percy Hope is
way to New York in search of his missing son Walter and his fugitive
This mission is diverted
when he stumbles upon the
journal of former friend Magnus
Vega, who drowned a year earlier in the Bering Sea. It chronicles a
discovery and riches that promises the same to Hope and his best friend
They decide to travel into this uncharted wilderness, map in hand, for
riches and adventure.
and adventure ramps up from the moment the toy boys deliver Magnus's
(six pieces of gold) to George Magnus, a grieving father who appears to
journal of mystery and promises, quickly attracts the attention of the
nefarious Diamond Jim, faces George's disappearance with the gold, and
on a journey that soon becomes one of not just gold-seeking fever, but
either a historical action piece or a tale of riches won't expect this
injection of spirituality, but Neil
Perry Gordon realistically portrays its rise, possibilities, and impact
and Magnus's lives as a cave exploration turns into a quest for proof
unimaginable spiritual realm.
Gordon moves between Hope
and Magnus with first-person
descriptions that juxtapose the journal entries of the past with Hope's
The atmosphere of the times
comes to life as these events
evolve, from San Francisco and New York to Knik, Alaska and beyond. One
why Gordon's story is so vibrant and realistic is the observations and
experiences of the social milieu of the late 1800s. Gordon weaves this
atmosphere so deftly into dialogues and reflections that readers absorb
feeling of the times without even thinking: “We
used to live in a nice neighborhood, on Taylor Street,” he began.
“Yes, I know it,” I said with a nod. “It’s on the waterfront where fishermen sell their catch.”
“That’s right. Father worked the docks and Mother sold fish from the stalls.”
“What happened to them?” I asked.
“They were killed,” Emile said softly. “I watch them both die.”
As Hope comes full circle in
many ways, readers will find
the story completely engrossing as he returns to his original quest
The Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope
represents the concluding volume to a trilogy that will primarily
readers of Hope's adventures. But it will also appeal to newcomers with
ability to build upon past events while moving forward into the next
Libraries strong in fiction
that holds a strong historical
backdrop but comes to life with action and adventure, especially those
interested in turn-of-the-century Alaskan backdrops, will find Denali: The
Alaskan Adventures of Percy Hope a solid acquisition that is
highly recommended for its unique brand of action, adventure, and
Return to Index
Life: Big Bang to Space Colonies
Richard M. Anderson
Hardcover: $54.95/Paperback: $22.95/ebook: $9.99
The Evolution of
Life: Big Bang to Space Colonies
is a scientific review highly recommended
for readers seeking an introductory examination of life's origins and
It provides a step-by-step journey connecting the universe's growth to
humanity's evolutionary process, considering how the two have expanded
consider the subject either esoteric or too technical for easy access, The
Evolution of Life cultivates an approach that lends to its
access by lay
audiences interested in a sweeping review of the history of life.
Richard M. Anderson uses
graphs, references to physics,
biochemistry, and psychology, and social inspection to examine the
human growth and interests.
He considers the enigmas and
research of a cross-section
of scientific disciplines, using language that will especially appeal
readers who have some scientific curiosity and background, yet reside
outside the usual scientific community: "Mitochondria
form a monophyletic group in humans. That means for us they could have
descended from a single ancestor. A member of the Alpha proteobacteria
engulfed by another prokaryote, probably of the archaea."
Anderson's survey does make
for heady reading that
requires a degree of scientific curiosity, but it cultivates a lively
descriptive tone and connections that make any reader's effort more
worthwhile: "This ATP-generating
cascade, on a molecular level, is almost perfect in extracting all of
energy from the catabolism of glucose. Diagrams of this process would
difficult, but in my mind, it comes close to the genetic transcription
production of proteins both in significance and beauty. The synergy of
commensal relationship was so powerful that, without it, there would
complex life on Earth today."
Libraries looking for
science-grounded examinations of
humanity's evolutionary process and future potential will find much to
about the wide-ranging approach of The Evolution of Life: Big
Bang to Space
connections between science and human nature and its conclusion of the
uniqueness and accompanying responsibility that humanity has towards
habitat and its other residents makes for an important message that
needs to be
heard and discussed: "I believe there is an increasing
that humanism, a movement working to optimize our life experience and
each other, coupled with scientific understanding, can lead to
action to address global problems. Let us hope that action is
ensure our longevity as a species. Like a fine jewel, our planet,
ecosystems and intertwining living beings, is our place in the
us, it is priceless."
Return to Index
Into the Forest
Lindy Ryan, Editor
Black Spot Books
978-1-64548-123-2 $15.95 Paper/$5.99 ebook
Tales of the Baba Yaga gathers new short writings inspired
by the Slavic
witch Baba Yaga fable, gathering works by award-winning authors and new
Readers might expect these
stories to be steeped in
horror (which they do receive), but one of the unexpected delights of
collection lies in not just its diverse takeoffs on the subject, but
disparate tones which each short story takes, from dark fantasy to
reflections on women's powers and the ironies of their lives.
Take the opening "Dinner
Plans with Baba Yaga"
by Stephanie M. Wytovich. The poem is a dark study in ritual horror
captures subtle nuances in the Baba Yaga legend and figure, bringing
life in unexpected ways: "You tell
me to make a stew, to chop up the/onions, pull the radishes from the
bite/my tongue, let my tears fall into the bowl, the salt/a sealant, a
door boiling beneath the peas./I stir clockwise to summon you, imagine
rancid/perfume of your ghost."
"Last Tour Into the
Hungering Moonlight" by Gwendolyn
Kiste, in contrast, is an atmospheric study in ironic observations as
a 'tour guide', introduces readers to a strange community: "One home after another, we want to show them all
to you. Our
vaulted ceilings, our vaulted lives. This is our little pocket of
might say. After all, we have everything we could ever want. Our
walls as plain and straightforward as each new day in our lives.
nothing out of the ordinary here, nothing calling to us from just
The focus on the impact of
living shielded lives next to
a legend offers intriguing perspectives on the Baba Yaga folktale that
delightfully literary and analytical: "(They
say her house in the deep, lonely woods is propped up on chicken legs
filled with a thousand bones. Late at night, we sometimes lie awake and
if those bones make her home stronger than ours. We also wonder if
should find some bones of our own.)"
Each piece offers a stunning
new perspective on Baba
Yaga's influence and legend. Each represents a powerful literary
that should not be missed by any with an interest in not just horror or
legend, but women's writings in particular.
Outstanding in its diversity
and interpretations, Into the Forest: Tales
of the Baba Yaga is
very highly recommended not just for horror collections, but for
strong in women's literature, as well as for reader's book groups who
study the legend and realities of the Baba Yaga folktale as it journeys
the heart and soul of women's experiences and psychology.
Return to Index
The Kabbalah of Light
Light: Ancient Practices to Ignite the Imagination and Illuminate the
links ancient Jewish mystical traditions with modern-day lives in a
step-by-step guide that helps readers understand the practice of
It's the perfect item of
choice for those that would base
their modern choices and approaches on time-tested techniques. It
over a hundred short exercises and practices designed to help readers
subconscious in new ways that lead to transformational experiences.
Catherine Shainberg's focus
on fast techniques allows
even the busiest modern reader access to the Kabbalah of Light,
over 800 years ago, to use the modernized practices that will help them
being stuck in any life situation, helping direct choices using ancient
These are meditative,
inspirational directives that not
only encourage visionary experiences, but add the insight and
intentions that help
guide readers: "The guide's
questions are a way of helping you hone in on your images. What are you
What are you feeling? Describe what is happening. The guide's voice
present in your experience."
The solidity of daily life
"doesn't have concreteness."
In contrast, the dream state offers freedom. The trick lies in learning
techniques for accessing, experiencing, and interpreting its wisdom,
where the Kabbalah of Light and this guidebook come into play.
Meditators and metaphysical
readers, as well as those
interested in self-help psychology, will find these practices
encouraging. Indeed, anyone who feels "stuck" in life and who searches
for routines that bring wisdom and enlightenment will find The Kabbalah of Light the perfect
starting point for
transformation, whether they are Jewish or not.
inspirational libraries will find the
book holds only one prerequisite: the ability to not just accept a
path for accessing subconscious patterns, but the willingness to
Return to Index
LIBERATION: Seeking the
Meaning of Life
Kindle - $4.99/Hardcover - $19.95/Paperback - $13.50
the Meaning of Life is both a memoir of Japanese pilgrim
Shogo Onoe (who
found himself in Mexico cultivating a new life even as he sought the
his old one) and a Carlos Castaneda-style spiritual journey that offers
inspection of personal and spiritual growth.
From its opening lines, it's
evident that LIBERATION is a
powerful story of a different ilk than the usual travelogue or
autobiography: "I have been a stranger to my
country and my own country’s people since I was a child. I should
I hate Japan from my guts. On top of it all, I have never fitted into
society and have not yet even started to function as a useful person
tell the truth, I have never agreed with the Japanese society system
Japanese way of life. I always wanted to escape from Japan to see the
that I could be free as a bird. From my childhood on, one thing was
clear to me as if it were God’s revelation: I definitely do not belong
Japan, and I just happened to be born in the wrong country. I am
lone wolf and constantly suffocated by loneliness, because I have no
talk with about my true feelings and even a fraction of my feelings."
When Shogo Onoe, a stranger
in his own country,
encounters the peoples and culture of Mexico, he finds the contrasts
also finds a new place for himself in the world.
This is where the magic of LIBERATION begins to work its spell on
Onoe's contrast of the
emotional, cultural, and spiritual
milieus of these disparate countries offers a rare glimpse into the
life as perceived and cultivated under different conditions.
His encounters with others
on the road to defining happiness
and life's meaning injects his journey with social, philosophical, and
spiritual observations that are astutely analytical in their contrasts
personalities and perspectives.
This is a strength of the
autobiographical format in
general, but under Onoe's hand, it also represents the strength of not
accepting, but searching out new possibilities and opportunities: "Sometimes we cannot explain how a
certain thing occurs in our lives. Usually, it is a most crucial thing,
you have fervently craved your entire life. You cry, scream, gibber,
curse, but it never budges. Out of desperation, you swear that you will
your faith in Almighty God and will forever turn your back on Him while
the silliest defiant expression on your face. But it is not enough. In
show your everlasting agony and disappointment with Him, you start
hair out hysterically, dance sacrilegiously, and spit up to the heavens
insolently, but it still does not budge a wee bit. It has become beyond
comprehension; you become dispirited to the point of giving it up –
moment, the thing somehow befalls upon you out of the blue."
Underlying these experiences
is a consideration of the
nature of individualism and exploration that encourages readers to
their own paths of discovery and alienation in life.
The result is a highly
recommended survey that blends
literature, biography, and social and spiritual contrasts and
These facets are topped with a dose of philosophical and psychological
that offer much food for thought for thinkers and book clubs that look
seasoned insights spiced with the experience of a pilgrim actively
meaning of life.
Return to Index
New Testament Readings
& Devotionals, Volume 2
C.M.H. Koenig (compiler)
C.M.H. Koenig Books (through IngramSpark)
978-1-956475-27-2 $14.99 Paperback
Having completed his
devotional guidebooks for the Old
Testament of the Bible, C.M.H. Koenig continues his structure and its
accessible, meaningful outreach to Bible students with the second
volume of New Testament Readings &
As with his other study
guides, selected Biblical
passages are interpreted and considered by Robert Hawker, Charles H.
and Octavius Winslow. These three scholarly thinkers add the critical
inspections and considerations that connect Biblical passages to daily
In this volume, readings
come from most of Acts, James,
Galatians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Romans. This
Christ's ascension into heaven, Pentecost, and events through Paul's
missionary trip. The books of each are the chapter headings, making it
link the devotionals with Biblical readings for scholars seeking
cross-referencing and enlightenment.
Each reading is generally a
chapter, with the excerpted
devotional accompanying those providing deeper inspections that
Biblical students to analyze and savor Scripture in a different, more
Footnotes provide further
Biblical references for
students who would continue their studies prompted by the passages and
devotionals designed to test reader knowledge and spiritual reflection.
The opportunities for
enlightenment and better
understanding of not just the Word of God but its presence in daily
many. Throughout this connection between Scripture and devotional,
receive admonitions and rich encouragement to link Christian concepts
From the heart and soul of a
believer to what it means to
walk in Christ's footsteps, led by the Biblical guides represented in
and interpreted with joyful reflection here, readers receive a rare
to conduct in-depth studies even if they are not of the scholarly ilk.
Meanwhile, Bible reading
groups and study circles receive
a guided devotional that helps them better absorb the full meaning of
and God's word.
The second book of the New
Testament comes to life under
Koenig's organizational prowess and the analyses of these three
Bible students who would
conduct guided independent study
or work in discussion groups will find New
Testament Readings & Devotionals Volume 2 and its
ongoing opportunity for better spiritual understanding and
Return to Index
978-0578395074 $14.95 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Oh Great, Another Vampire Book, by its
very title, portends a
freshly original story. This will especially attract those who enjoy
vampire accounts that come without the usual trappings of overdone
A vampire of
standing, Roman McClary finds people boring, even though he is privy to
secrets through mind-reading. After all, one can delve through minds
many centuries before they become all too banal and unexciting.
threatens to break out in modern-day 2018 between vampires and humans,
Roman to consider going against his long-held conviction not to create
vampire to add to the mix.
this world with an unusual touch of irony and satire as modern-day
approaches clash with an ages-old soul who has developed his own
moral and ethical standards for one-night stands and relationships: "The process of online dating presented
a myriad of challenges for the New England vampire. There was ease in
dates due to his looks and vast wealth, but it was a chore to endure
conversation. His criteria were simple: if the woman was moral and
she would maybe get a second date. If she was immoral, unethical, and
she’d never see him again. In a worst case scenario, women of this ilk
visit his private estate in Chestnut Hill, but return home later
forgetful, with strange bite marks on her body. He often thought
were becoming all too common in the twenty-first century. They easily fell under his thrall,
doing whatever he
introduction with the later first-person observations of a world
vast changes, for a sense of the transformative atmosphere Hunter
it moves from these beginnings to embrace a world where vamp
blossom: "The vamp population was
very small, which we expected being in a sunny climate. They too had
a means for sustenance without feeding off humans. (Kudos to Charlaine
for writing True Blood!) These
Hawaiian vamps mixed the blood of feral pigs with fermented poi and
spices. It turned my stomach to see them eat the gelatinous concoction
bowls. The maroon-colored substance resembled a movie prop from a
connection with Sara in the always-changing world, readers receive a
through cultural clashes that contrasts wry observation and fun with
serious questions and dilemmas he faces: “What
are you watching?”
“Friends. Sometimes it feels good to turn my brain off and watch something stupid and mindless.”
“I agree. I’m a 200-year-old vampire who still watches Gossip Girl sometimes. Don’t tell anyone.”
“Actually, I like Gossip Girl. It’s interesting to see how rich kids grow up in Manhattan. I treat it like anthropology research.”
No, I mean my real age. It ’s embarrassing how young I am compared to all those old geezers.” He gestured to the other side of the door. As if on cue, they exploded in laughter, taunting Larry for eating Fruit Brute cereal.
“Fruit Brute! Werewolf cereal?” Zackary cried in mock horror. “It’s food of the enemy! Good god, man. Have some pride."
political satire that permeates the action will prove especially
literature readers who may be well familiar with the vampire genre, but
for out-of-the-box interpretations and presentations.
addresses issues of "woke politics" and responsible media. Unexpected
developments? Yes. They introduce an added layer of value that elevates
Oh Great, Another Vampire Book
entertainment alone, making for a thought-provoking read on different
While Oh Great, Another Vampire Book is highly
recommended for leisure readers who will find the progression of events
mercurial interpersonal relationships intriguing, it should not miss
from students of satirical literature. This audience will find the book
in contemporary satire. It's suitable for classroom discussion and
acquisition alike and is both a unique, refreshingly different take on
vampire theme and a demonstration of the different possibilities that
inspection can embrace.
Return to Index
Fans of The Hunger Games and similar YA
dystopian novels will find Prep School
for Serial Killers is not an adult story about murderers, but
a dark tale
set in 2123 about school students being groomed for extraordinary roles
stage for instant attraction with a tone and drama that will make
adult readers want to learn more: "Whoever finds this, I hope
escaped. That you have found a way to overthrow the governing forces
a life for yourself. It may be too late for me. I will never know
what it feels like to travel the world without fear, to make choices
that are not
imposed by the state, to choose who I love…and what I fight for. To
grow into a
woman who knows the truth…If you’re reading this, you’re probably a
here, and I am long dead. If you haven’t worked it out already, I must
something: Everything you are learning here is a lie."
The Last Great War destroyed the narrator's
family and life, leaving her a survivor at only a few weeks old. Her
life in an
orphanage and then in a special school designed to tap student
more than higher education is narrated in a gripping style that
promise and dangers of Poluzone, a drug designed to temper humanity's
self-destructive rage, that comes with a terrible price.
The recap of how the narrator's world came
to be does an exceptional job of both painting the events that shaped
environment and setting the stage for a spellbinding exploration of
place in it.
From training battles with Vex and others
under the school headmaster's guidance to increasing uncertainties that
system students have taken for granted is designed to help, young
receive an intriguing story of a girl's growing ability to step out of
preordained role to question not just authority, but the basic tenants
From assassins and poisoned pens to drives
to alter history, Prep
School for Serial Killers takes many unusual twists and
yet keeps readers thoroughly engaged as characters come to reconsider
killing traditions against a hunter-and-prey series of confrontations.
groomed to survive, or to kill? Are they warriors, leaders, or pawns in
fast-paced story of teens who find themselves at odds with the forces
special appeal for fans of dark dystopian teen reads. Its strong
compelling social observation, and satisfying intrigue makes Prep School for Serial Killers highly
recommended for libraries seeking dystopian fiction that raises
suitable for classroom or book group discussion.
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Resurgence of Global Populism
Karyne E. Messina, EdD
978-1-032-06451-2 $39.95 (softcover)
Global Populism: A Psychoanalytic Study of Projective Identification,
Blame-Shifting and the Corruption of Democracy will engage
and adults interested in the connections between political and
processes, and is recommended both for individual study and classroom
assignment for standout discussion.
Karyne E. Messina considers
the driving forces for the
emergence and propagation of populism, closely examining the logic from
corrupt systems evolve and are promoted and fostered.
Her examination moves from
country to country as it
considers the circumstances, appearance, and propagation of populism in
Europe, and the U.S., drawing important connections and comparisons
politics and people of different nations of the world.
This approach allows for an
analysis that juxtaposes
cultural and social influences on political processes, following how
psyches of nations and individuals are influenced by populist thinking.
Important connections are
drawn between the emergence of repressive
laws and the underlying intentions and perceptions of the politicians
lawmakers involved. One such case cited is Austria's banning of
the name of protection and altruistic perceptions. These types of laws,
well-meaning or stemming from ignorance, hold wide-ranging
ramifications: "At the very least, banning
is an example of “othering” which is a way of splitting people into
those who fit in with the accepted group and those who do not. This way
labeling people also affects how individuals within each group are
and treated by members of the community."
Messina's attention to
defining and identifying
circumstances of populist behavior in various world communities and
moves between legal and political choices and their impacts, drawing
connections that help readers understand how the hearts and minds of
are affected. While Trump's actions and representations are a primary
she places his politics and brand of beliefs within larger perspective,
exploring his psychological manipulations and approaches and their
From national histories of
democratic efforts and
struggles to individual responses and choices, Messina goes beyond
problems—by providing possible solutions concerned readers can
address the effects populist trends have on their own mental health.
opportunity lies in fine-tuning the pervasive influence of social
media: "We cannot condemn social media
completely—it could be a vehicle for positive change. This is
I am not suggesting it could be done overnight. But, if the powers that
not so greedy and cared more about our planet, for example, positive
could happen. In the meantime, until governments decide to regulate
media, there are ways to take control of what we consume online."
Messina's ability to move
from bigger-picture and global
thinking to individual choice in reactions and actions offers hope. It
ultimately empowers readers to not just better understand the
circumstances of populist influences and efforts, but to identify and
these effects. In essence, Messina advocates for readers to cultivate a
of resilience, whether when dealing with an authoritarian
negotiating social media minefields.
The result is a powerful
blend of history, social and
political inspection, and psychological investigation that operate on
global and individual level to provide readers with food for thought
for response. Much more than a Trump-centric analysis, it places this
influence and the wellsprings of his approaches into a larger picture
readers would do well to better understand.
While college-level library
collections strong in social,
psychological and political issues will be the target audience of this
ideally it will not reside idly on a library's shelf, but will be
classroom assignment and by discussion groups interested in considering
debating the forces of global populism's rise and effects on society
Return to Index
Siege: An American Tragedy
$17.99 Paper/$5.99 Kindle/Audiobook = Price TBA
Tragedy focuses on the January 6th, 2021 storming of the US
covering events before, during, and after the siege.
analytical manner, Bartholomew documents the rising worries about
processes pre-election and the players who inserted such doubts about
the public mind.
examination promotes a better understanding of not just of the January 6th
insurrection itself, but what prompted the American public to regard
election process with increasing distrust.
pairs these historical events with insights that take specific pivot
public opinion and contrast facts with misinformation exposés: "If
true, this intel was beyond
damning. It was explosive. It could offer the proof that Trump had been
all along: the election had been rigged. And foreign
communists—had been involved in the rigging. The only problem? Almost
what Bartiromo and Giuliani stated with such authority was accurate."
As the countdown proceeds,
from setting the stage to the
acts themselves, Bartholomew reviews events with a "you are here" eye
that re-considers the choices, actions, and interpretations of the
took place on January 6th.
This ability to move from
point to point to reconsider
overt and covert influences allows a wide audience to move through
knowledge to analyze psychological, social, and political influences
to, during, and, and past the insurrection.
Included in these
discussions are reflections on
democratic processes, ideals, power plays, and inner circle motivations
logic that lend to further insights.
Bartholomew's analysis of
changing roles and minds makes
for a deeper inspection of the processes of democratic elections and
for freedom that begin to make sense under her logic.
The result will prove
essential reading for future
generations interested in knowing not just the progression of events,
Libraries looking for a
thorough coverage of January 6th
will find Siege: An American Tragedy
a wide-ranging survey that fully considers how American perceptions and
(and are) influenced, inflamed, and often thwarted.
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Stories, Dice, and Rocks
978-1637741344 $27.95 Hardcover/$14.99 Kindle
get ...to a point where we could think about the future; influence it;
finally, perhaps master it? This book tells the story, in three acts,
our species learned to escape the perpetual present."
Rocks That Think: How Humans Learned to See the Future—and Shape It
discusses history, destiny, and how humans evolved a form of cognition
differs from animals, thus shaping the world in radically different
any creature around them.
Its special blend of natural
and human history and
philosophy will appeal to science and social issues readers alike,
synthesis of historical inspection and psychological insights that
just how different a creature the human animal has become.
From storytelling and
heritage passed down between
generations to examples of synchronicity in action and its development
influence on belief systems and human predictions and interpretations
world, Byron Reese gets to the heart of what makes humans different
Key historical thinkers,
inventors, and discoverers, and
examples of evolutionary leaps, are presented during the course of this
history, inviting readers with a lively tone of analysis and revelation.
Our brains are wired for
storytelling, not logic. And
yet, logic has developed, however flawed the reasoning ability might
against all odds and inherent bias.
about [our minds] makes us so different from animals that we are almost
These differences, their
development, their impact, and
their ultimate meaning are the focus of a lively historical discourse
romps through human and natural worlds with a vivid attention to detail.
Libraries seeing strong
patron interest in philosophy,
history, and considerations of human and natural world similarities and
differences will find Stories, Dice, and
Rocks That Think a fine choice. Its ability to blend these
topics into a
lively discourse that invites thought, debate, and interactive
among its readers also makes it highly recommended for book clubs
connections between how stories give life meaning, and how human
particular, makes humanity unique.
Return to Index
978-1-958370-00-1 $14.00 Paper/$2.99 ebook
Holds the Devil
begins in Pennsylvania in 1875, an area which holds the roots of a
reaches through the centuries to affect modern times. The prologue's
description of mob justice and a bloody confrontation concludes with a
that halts the work and members of Sam Mohawk's Institute, but evil
forever. It merely lies in wait.
Fast forward to the present,
when this Southwestern
Pennsylvania setting has been completely transformed. Matt Garvey is
with taking down a tree with his crew, doing his friend a favor. It's
Mohawk's tree. And what lies under it is the entrance to hell,
force back into the world that was vanquished during Civil War times,
abided all these years.
wanted the city to repair the damage caused by the tree's toppling into
house. The last thing he expected was to release an ancient evil. But
faces the fact that his hallucinations and blackouts don't hold medical
but have their foundations in reality, Aaron is drawn into a
beliefs receive exposure in alternating chapters which move between
present, providing snapshots of different perspectives, motivations,
mindsets as the story evolves.
Michael Dittman's ability to
inject exquisite tension
into the mix while keeping the unexpected alive and readers on their
for a fine horror story that extends its tendrils of tension into
lives and special interests.
As an occult checklist,
connections to everything
familiar, and revised purposes evolve, Aaron's dilemma and his
with the devil create an absorbingly unpredictable story horror that
find compellingly and refreshingly different.
Libraries strong in horror
literature will find much to
like in Who Holds the Devil's
examination of the roots of good and evil, and will want to include it
reading lists of any patron interested in contemporary horror stories.
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Calculus (and Cows) of Carl Paulsen
Gary Eldon Peter
Fitzroy Books (imprint of Regal House Publishing)
9781646032532 $16.95 (paperback); $8.99 (Kindle)
The Complicated Calculus (and Cows) of Carl Paulsen
is a debut
novel of young adult fiction that is set in southern Minnesota. It
Carl as he faces not only a secret crush on a city boy and stranger,
demands of a family business that would place him at its helm in the
like it or not.
Also part of
complicated equation of growth is the loss of his mother and his
relationship with his demanding father, who also mourns (but tries to
his late mother's legacy of a family farm.
If this were
of love alone, it would be interesting; but life rarely is a singular
experience. Adding the turmoil of changed family relationships and the
of a family business that was a deceased parent's dream passed on to
inheritors makes for a particularly involving interplay of events.
employs the first person to capture Carl's perspective, offering
contrasts between his youth and the edicts of his father: "As a former high school English teacher he is very
about such things, and I should be too because some day, he says, the
would belong to me. I don’t want the world, at least not all of it, but
and explorations of his life are presented from the viewpoint of a
young man on
the cusp of change, caught between adult and children's worlds: "There is a lot to worry about—milk
prices (more often down than up); the takeover by the “big guys”
sat behind desks as if they were the president of IBM and who let the
Science grads from Iowa State or the U of Minnesota in
overalls milk the 350 head herd); money, and a lot of it, borrowed to
going (my father explaining for the umpteenth time, when I asked why we
couldn’t get cable like everyone else on the planet, how a mortgage
me rolling my eyes to let him know that, yes, I did
know what a mortgage was, and that, yes, I was well aware
that we were way behind on ours). He could have also added that there
many friends either, at least not the human kind. With a small
ours (around twenty cows, more when the calves come) it’s the “girls,”
mother liked to call them, who are your friends."
questioning, and experience power a young adult coming-of-age story in
that will prove compelling to readers—even those relatively unfamiliar
Midwest, family businesses, or forbidden first crushes.
As Carl also
the growth and explorations of his peers, he comes to realize that life
love are not always what they appear to be—or as straightforward as his
would have him believe: "...the
truth is I don’t feel anything anywhere when I look at her. Except
sadness. And mostly for Andy. It’s all part of the act: the “crush” on
(the real one), the stuff with the kicking and the boobs when we were
supper, and now this stupid picture. Andy’s act. If he can convince me
likes girls, maybe then he can convince himself."
world, its expectations, and his place in it, young adults receive
insights into the psychology of family relationships, social
motivations for actions and choices. These both impart lessons and
opportunities for deep thinking.
coming-of-age young adult fiction that explores blossoming sexuality
possibilities of same-sex love will find The
Complicated Calculus (and Cows) of Carl Paulsen a fine study
interpersonal relationships and growth.
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Coloring and Activity Book About Friendship cultivates an
environment, encouraging young readers to "grab a friend" and work
together on the projects in this book.
readers that there are no 'mistakes' in these endeavors, and prompts
use the projects as a starting point for learning more about each other
share and explore the activities.
The focus is
identifying friendship's qualities and learning what makes friends
have fun together. Various animals can be colored together, and each
holds opportunities for learning because Dusty the dog cultivates
kinds of friends, from rabbits and cats to hamsters and goldfish.
guide them) can use this activity book to get in touch with positive
about themselves and each other, because there are more than coloring
involved. Each panel offers the opportunity for important insights
building the interpersonal connections that strengthen friendships, and
differences and shared experiences alike.
engrossing book that encourages positivity and discussions about
celebrating self and differences in others. Adults will find it the
starting place for reinforcing the give-and-take of friendship.
Return to Index
Kokomo Entertainment Inc.
$9.99 Kindle/$12.95 Paper/$19.99 Hardcover
"Glass ceilings are made to be flown through."
fillies" is the affectionate term twelve-year-old Dawn Springfield
to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) who flew military planes
World War II.
Flying Fillies: The Sky's the Limit opens
with Dawn's move from
Chicago to Sweetwater, Texas, where she looks forward to escaping the
that have plagued her school life.
She wants to
fighter pilot when she is older, but her classmates have used her dream
fodder for teasing. Dawn is already the victim of much abuse, with her
countenance and cowgirl ways gained from visits to her beloved
her inspiration: she's overseas, volunteering with the British Royal
This sets the stage for Dawn's own involvement in the war and her
step up and volunteer in hopes of going where no women have gone before.
captures Dawn's involvement with a group of 'fly girls.' Each represent
ordinary females who have stepped up in extraordinary ways. Her
cement these experiences and encounters, following Dawn's admiration
young women who make difficult choices to achieve their dreams: "The more she learned about the fly
girls, the more she loved them. Anyone who walked past Jane Applebaum
street would see a typical young teenager without a care in the world.
knew better after Jane explained how she had worn herself to the ground
down three jobs to raise money for flying lessons."
history of the WASP program focuses on proactive females who realize
dreams, then connect these dreams to bigger-picture thinking brought
to middle grade readers receive an enlightening tale of World War II
focuses on the idea, training, and challenges of the WASP and their
during the war.
stories and readers learn about them through her fascination and
changing role of women of the times comes to life in a vivid
story nicely captures courage, survival, and these womens'
lend to the wartime cause (and perhaps even give their lives for it).
The engrossing history and psychological pull of Flying Fillies brings the era and its women to life. More so than most other accounts of World War II for young readers, it connects the dots between personal passion and higher-level thinking and life experiences. It describes WASP training, volunteer efforts, and the contrast between a world of adventure and one spent at home cultivating an ordinary life. The story's conclusion is supported by pages of history that outline America during early World War II and the rise of women's involvement in the war effort.
Flying Fillies is a top recommendation for libraries seeing young patron interest in horses, who want to promote both World War II history and growth-inducing experiences derived from women's choices.Flying Fillies
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Middle grade readers looking
for ghostly encounters in
their reading will find Ghost Boy
a story of intrigue and revelation. Tyler Scott's discovery of a boy's
places him in the position of being the one charged with helping him.
is concerned with finding his missing father ... and who better to tap
son of the town sheriff, who probably has methods and abilities
involved in a cold case that once shook the town, he hones his own
purpose and investigative skills in a manner that rivals his father's
experience and savvy.
receive a satisfying investigative story that moves from supernatural
appearances and forces to real-world threats.
sense that everything is on the cusp of radical changes in his life ("Suddenly
I got the strangest feeling that something big was going to happen, and
right smack in the middle of it.") comes true in unexpected
ways as he
becomes involved in stolen silver shipments, altered friendships, and
high-action onslaughts from physical and psychic storms.
and mystery hand in hand, Jan Burns creates a fine
backdrop of tension
that blends history with family and friends relationships and
captivate readers on different levels.
Kids who choose Ghost
Boy for its paranormal promises won't be disappointed, but
they will also
find so much more operating behind the scenes.
It's a moving tale of
change, from friendships and family
relationships to the history which has left this town damaged.
The combination of
thought-provoking encounters and
action-packed moments of insight will satisfy middle graders who like
and will receive so much more, making Ghost
Boy a top recommendation for libraries looking for
Return to Index
Catch That Pony
EK-9 Solutions & Services
$18.99 HB, $11.99 PB, $4.99 Kindle
McMichael's Happenstance Farms: Catch That
receives large-size, colorful illustrations by Justo Borrero as it
determined young horse-crazy girls and a new pony, Piper, who doesn't
lot of experience with riders and is afraid of new things.
readers absorb this story of girl/horse relationships and overcoming
they receive side lessons about horse management and about "working
smarter, not harder."
Catch That Pony is action-packed and
takes the time to paint the
back-and-forth of success and failure, offering no pat answers or easy
solutions as the girls attempt to tame a nervous, frightened horse.
between rider and horse are explored, along with good intentions and
serving as the background for an intriguing story about a horse that
be tamed, read-aloud parents will welcome the opportunity to not only
the uncertain relationship that grows between girls and horse, but the
discussion that can come from opening the door to a variety of subjects
handling life challenges.
Happenstance Farms: Catch That Pony is
ultimately much more than a
story about catching or training a horse. Adults will find it a
attractive and psychologically astute examination that draws on a
attraction to horses to teach further lessons about success.
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Bridge Manor: The Trilogy
ASIN: B09NTQKT7T $3.99 Kindle/$12.95 Paperback
The Haunting Of Bridge Manor: The Trilogy
is a young adult ghost
story that will reach into adult circles with its compelling portrait
of a teen
who is just returning to life after being in an induced coma for over
years. She's an accident survivor charged with new beginnings, but is
that her parents' choice of buying an old manor in Virginia should be
this new life.
time alone and finds it challenging to face re-entry into a world
changed during the two years she was away from it. Even her
brother, now seven, seems like a stranger to her.
dilapidated Bridge Manor gives Rachel chills from the start, but as
encounters begin to shade her experiences and impact her recovery,
becomes part of not just a strange new world, but events from the past
reach out to shake her revised life.
It should be
that graphic descriptions of violence, although appropriate for the
evolutionary process, make The Haunting
Of Bridge Manor recommended for mature teens.
violence that rock Rachel's world only serve to cement the fact that
Manor harbors more than ghosts, serving up a legacy of violence that
flight in order to survive: "Bridge
Manor had stood alone, holding darkness within, for two hundred years.
its walls, dirty secrets were buried, bricks carried unspeakable
doors shut on the tragedy of the past. Whatever spirits had been
could walk there no more. But, Rachel could see now, there was no
pain, and havoc."
and her younger
brother Ben return to Chicago under a pall of pain and murder, their
change once again. The difference, this time, is that Rachel will have
the mystery of Bridge Manor if she's to ever be free of its legacy.
involving story of recovery, discovery, and a teen's connections to
spirits of the past that affect the progression of her future.
It's a story
not just by violent encounters, but by the mental leaps Rachel is
take to come to terms with her turbulent life's extraordinary changes.
adult audiences who look for ghost stories of transformation, danger,
search for truth and redemption will find this story a powerful account
and challenge that tugs at the heartstrings from different angles.
building suspense, unexpected twists and turns, and strong characters
with surviving their decisions and legacy produces a story that's hard
down and thought-provoking to the end.
books for mature teens and audiences that look for supernatural stories
find The Haunting Of Bridge Manor: The
Trilogy a fine selection.
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KyRose Takes A Leap
KyRose Press LLC
978-0-578-38232-6 Paperback/ebook prices TBA
Readers in grades 5-8 who
look for STEAM novels
encouraging literacy and presenting problem-solving viewpoints will
blend of magical realism and struggles with acceptance and unusual
explored by KyRose, whose special ability to talk to animals alienates
KyRose's life in 2030 is
filled with high-tech wonders
and accompanying challenges that spice the typical dilemma of a
who just wants to fit in.
Her special knowledge allows
her to communicate with all
creatures, from insects to mammals, but also charges her with helping
survive the human world: A tickle runs
over my ankle. Time slows. I
bend down, staring into the grasshopper’s eyes. “What are you doing on
field? There’s no food.” I brush my hand over the prickly blades of
“Huh? I must have taken a wrong turn,” the grasshopper says. She lifts her wings. That’s how grasshoppers hear—through a tiny organ near the base of their hind legs.
Coach Hartley shouts orders for us, seventh-grade girls, to line up for jumping jacks.
I lean against the goal post. “You can’t stay here. We’re in the middle of P.E. You’ll get crushed!” I look over, past the school building, onto the street where self-driving cars swerve around each other like synchronized swimmers. My eyes keep combing. “There!” I point to the cluster of oak trees opposite the bleachers. “Come on.” I cup the grasshopper. She darts back and forth against my palms. “Don’t worry,” I whisper, “I’ll keep you safe.”
As she tackles friendships,
social events, and the task
of inventing new devices, KyRose finds that her drive to be a champion
her recognition, but comes with newfound responsibilities and
change her life perspective.
Cicek Bricault's engaging
blend of magical realism and a
girl's realistic, technology-influenced life will engage those who
stories that operate on the edgy boundary of fantasy and fiction.
KyRose's new discoveries
lead her to grow in unexpected
ways that both embrace her talents and revise her relationships.
With its intrigue,
discovery, problem-solving, and
extraordinary encounters, Cicek Bricault has created an engaging story
attract STEAM learners.
Takes A Leap
is highly recommended for advanced elementary to middle
They will relish this captivating story of a girl who decides when to
risks and how to accept more responsibility as a leader.
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Misfit's Magic: The Last
Bisket Press, LLC
979-8-9861364-0-0 $1.99 Kindle
Last Halloween is a whimsical young adult horror fantasy that
13-year-old loner Goff, who has endured a series of failed foster
latest placement, in the town of Spraksville
(which holds a history of witchcraft), seems like just another way
bullying and isolation—until a gargoyle begins to speak to him.
A series of
revelations evolves about his unexpected family history, his hidden
and his possible future.
With knowledge comes power.
Responsibility also comes with his newfound connections, because Goff
the only one able to calm the storm of supernatural adversity which is
teen, Goff may have been overly concerned with facts and not concerned
about threatening signs: "Goff shook
it off, not the type to believe in whispering trees or any other sort
pocus. He was here to do research, and that was just a statue, and the
were just plants, big plants, very big plants, but nothing more."
his abilities and his logical view of his world and place in it, Goff
his foundations shaken—including his status as a loner, which requires
work with some odd fellows indeed to stave off disaster.
Last Halloween is a tense supernatural thriller that teens
compelling and hard to put down.
Fred Gracely builds a story
based as much on the nature
of personal transformation as it does on the possibilities of forces
down the adults in his town and place Goff in the role of being Spraksville and humanity's only salvation.
wrong about this place...very wrong."
Goff's ability to "feel like
a warrior for the first
time in his life" will resonate with those who have played victim to
bullying and have yet to come into their strengths.
Young adults will find much
to like in Goff's character:
like Harry Potter, he moves from being an underdog and victim to a role
which he identifies and makes the most of his strengths, developing new
(and enemies) in the process.
Young adults who choose Misfit's Magic: The Last Halloween for
its excellent magical
intrigue will find more simmering in its cauldron of possibilities, and
enjoy reading about a character who rises above his teachings and
to not just accept new possibilities, but step into new abilities.
Libraries looking for
magic-based horror and fantasy
stories that hold underlying lessons for teens will find Misfit's
Magic: The Last Halloween an excellent acquisition.
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Lindsay J.L. Angus
The Angus Library Publishing House
Soft Cover $12.95 CAD, Hard Cover $16.95 CAD
Ordering Link: http://www.lindsayjlangus.com/nothing-you-cant-do
Nothing You Can't Do is written by the
mother of a toddler who was
injured and scarred for life, and crafts a story of empowerment that
kids that they can do anything.
accompanies this picture book's representations of kids achieving goals
doing extraordinary things: "There’s
nothing you can’t do,/no dream that’s too far./You can travel the
on the highest star."
or guitar to becoming a musical superstar or "just being you," a
mother's appreciation for her child provides an encouraging story that
read-aloud and parental discussions with the very young.
important message reinforces all kinds of possibilities with a survey
reflects a mother's pride and perception of her child's possible
illustrations created by Lindsay J.L. Angus are powerful accompaniments
to dream big and not let anything get in their way in this early,
message that ideally will be reinforced by read-aloud parents looking
about empowerment and positive goals.
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DX Varos Publishing
978-1-955065-52-8 $18.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
choose Osprey Man for its
coming-of-age story about growth and grief will find much to relish in
Jacob is on
to becoming an adult, but is not yet fully operating in the world of
when tragedy strikes (his best friend Jon's death) to challenge his
of self and the world.
the last day of school before summer disappears in a flash with this
forcing Jacob to come to terms with the unimaginable loss of his friend
story than a test of friendship's end, however, which is evident from
as Osprey Man reveals its
unwrapping them through the course of the story like birthday gifts.
changes daily from that point onward, middle grade readers receive a
story of a boy struggling to come to terms with life, death,
his role in all of them.
takes the time necessary to bring every facet of Jacob's experience to
from the delivery of the initial news to the ceremonies surrounding
"Jacob wondered why, if everything
Catholics said about heaven were true, and if they truly believed they
reconciled—why did everyone cry at funerals? He had a feeling he knew
answer to that, and he didn’t like it much."
the story with evocative images which give pause for thought, adding
to the overall progression of the tale: "As
Jacob was watching people crowd around Nick Mancuso as if he were
the loaves and fishes like Jesus, Chaz came out with a white apron
building a strong, believable character whose life goes on after loss
it all makes for a revealing account of grief and living which carries
pre-teens into an examination of the ongoing power of loss: "Jacob had expected to feel happy. Like
he had completed something wonderful. He thought maybe it would help
to terms with losing Jonathan. Instead, he missed his friend more than
is a story
replete in growth which carries Jacob and his audience into realms of
and contemplation that embrace new possibilities without setting aside
strong stories of death and life beyond loss will find Osprey
Man an especially poignant, thought-provoking read. It is
highly recommended for its in-depth revelations of the emotional twists
turns experienced during the passage of time after a loss.
Return to Index
978-1-951796-11-2 $15.08 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Everfled is also on the road to success, but in a different way. Asking
to the prom seems perfectly appropriate until a shared experience
both in the crosshairs of a killer's attention.
Mischa's perspective and tells of an escape that threatens both of
worlds. It's narrated in a manner that invites young adults with
descriptions that create a "you are there" feel from the start: "I can hear the buzzing of the
cicadas, can feel the moisture in the air squeezing my lungs and
dress to me. 'The woods,' I tell him, and this is when it hits me that
be able to come back to these woods again, to the downed tree where I
sit on warm afternoons to study with the sun shaking down through the
That’s gone for me now. Everything I know will be gone soon."
As Pull contrasts Mischa's dreams and
realities and Casey's evolving, revised vision of their connection to
other and the threats suddenly facing their different trajectories, it
develops a powerful pull on reader attention. This highlights the
between the characters through contrasting first-person perspectives
identified by chapter headings.
about love, death, and stranger things in between, Pull
crafts an evocative tale that contains many revelations and
thought-provoking moments apart from the tension and discoveries it
builds: "...they look like they’re going to
kiss. But there’s something wrong with this thought, I tell myself
It’s from too many vampire books in our school library or something,
that can make you think violence and possession look like love. This is
seriously toxic, I want to scream, because of course I want to think
shitty depictions of romance or anything, really..."
As the truth
out, readers receive an engrossing story that is hard to put down and
to predict, filled with two strong characters and satisfying tension
surrounding the odd course their lives take.
numbers and strange visions to their choices in creating the kind of
they want, Pull exerts a draw that
young adults will find compelling.
At once a
tale and a story of love, it's an evolution of and contrast in
reactions that gives readers a ride for their money through
choices, and understanding what is really important in life.
collections strong in multifaceted reads about control and love will
find Pull a powerful addition.
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The Rise of
DX Varos Publishing
978-1-955065-50-4 $19.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Rise of Runes and Shields presents young adult fantasy
with the first book in the Seidr Sagas
series and follows twins Freyja and Bjorn, who live in a world that
forbidden Viking magic Seidr.
circumstances beyond their control by a murder
and by an ongoing battle between the Fire and Frost Giants, each must
skill that introduces its own problems and possibilities, in order to
and protect their family.
shield are gifts from an aunt who bequeathed her an unusual legacy
the physical tools of strength: "I
can see it in you, even if the law does not allow it, you will be a
shield maiden." Her mother allows it even as she cautions, “You’re going to give her big ideas the
world can’t possibly deliver on."
attitudes and mission that each twin receives ultimately directs them
forms of response and action in their lives as J.M. Stephen depicts a
struggle that immerses them in a changing world.
grave dangers from many sides, the twins find that physical and psychic
confrontations rely not just on the lessons they've been taught, but
employ them in the world, forming decisions which hold wide-ranging
consequences for their future.
story propelled by battles and political and social savvy alike as each
comes into his and her own powers, yet remains firmly connected to
positions of power who demonstrate more leadership than the actual
power plays that involve shape shifters and heroes in challenges
the twins' presence and absence, Stephen captures the rise of powers
in this world.
is a story
fueled by passion and energy that will attract and delight young adult
readers with its special brand of coming-of-age and magical
strong beginnings to series presentations will find The
Rise of Runes and Shields
a powerful introduction to a broken world that requires fixing on many
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Happy Joe Control
979-8985913200 $9.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
sixteen-year-olds think. But they do care what they do.
readers who choose Rune
and Flash: Inside the Dream Prison will find the futuristic scenario and
dilemma of sixteen-year-old Markla Flash, who has been
murder and sentenced to 1,000 nightmares inside the Dream Prison, a
refreshingly original environment and concept.
determined to help Markla, but giving her assistance places him at odds
not only his family but society itself, which has promoted the
nightmares as the best solution to criminal behavior.
As he faces the consequences
of Markla's actions and his
own decisions, bigger pictures come into play as the two find
only defending their actions, but defying the very tenants their
been built on, and the artificial dreams used to oversee and control it.
an avid fantasy centered on evolving truths about groups, individuals,
future society. As Markla, Dru, Rune, and others find their lives not
entwined but embracing truths they'd never quite acknowledged about
and their roles in it, they come to feel that things should change.
has harbored the notion of feeling alien in the world will readily
Markla and Rune's discoveries and struggles.
well detailed, the characters compel reader attention through their
multifaceted interests and experiences, and the bigger picture evolves
some surprising twists to maintain young adult attention throughout.
of control, powerlessness, and taking charge of personal destiny become
in relationships and choice that offer many intriguing inspections.
and Flash is a
leisure sci-fi read, ideally it will be profiled in discussion groups
clubs for its thought-provoking inspections of social norms and what
two young adults who move outside the accepted rules of behavior to
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$29.95 Hardcover/$14.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
that the third book in the children's series about Sockboy would
familiarity with its predecessors; but the powerful message imparted
no special introduction in order to reach newcomers and prior Karl
(a.k.a. artist "Ultrakarl") fans alike.
grappling with worries and insecurities in his life on Earth, so he
spacesuit and sets out to escape them by exploring outer space. There
simply too many rules and worries, on Earth.
rollicking rhyme embraces insights that teach picture book readers
risks and feeling connected to their worlds as Sockboy forms a plan to
his self-discovery: "I'll run away
beyond the sky,/What I'll find I do not know./I must leave my comfort
really want to grow."
science is also
embedded in this story as Sockboy reviews the nature of each planet in
solar system and how they attract humanity for different reasons.
sense of his place in this wider universe, read-aloud parents receive
opportunity to introduce subjects ranging from identity and
perseverance to new
discoveries, taking risks, and building connections with the universe.
It's rare to
picture book that connects the hard science of astronomy with the
perspective of a child who is navigating his own new territories and
Sockboy in Space represents the perfect
intersection of space
science and analysis of life that places personal problems in a larger
perspective. Ultrakarl's engaging paintings add another dimension of
to this story, which will best be used by adults who want to introduce
discussions to the very young about their relationships and connections
interested in a story that moves full circle to bring with it a renewed
appreciation for home and its connections will welcome Sockboy's latest
explorations of the inner and outer universe.
Return to Index
Jocelyn Holst Bolster
is a young adult novel that centers on fifteen-year-old Jesse, whose
first-person story captures the feel of being trapped in the
of Bourbon County, Kansas.
Jesse longs for adventure,
new experiences, and a
different environment, but when a vagabond enters her life to offer her
escape into the outside world she covets and dreams of, Jesse discovers
sometimes dreams are illusions and invitations are better left
Her upbringing in a "house
filled with love"
has failed to prepare her for a world that doesn't operate in the same
Evocative moments are
captured in a moving manner that
brings Jesse's conundrums to life: "To
someone from a city I guess it would have been easy to feel lonely out
but it never occurred to me. Sometimes I felt sad and I didn’t know for
Maybe the empty space around me crept in a bit too close. Maybe I
close enough attention to notice that it wasn’t really empty."
Jocelyn Holst Bolster takes
the time to capture the
nature of Jesse's life experiences: "Now,
I’m not trying to say that we lived so far out in the country that we
even have a CD player. My uncle gave my parents one for Christmas
before I was
even born. But we only listened to music that was written to praise God
glorify His love. There’s some real good stuff that was written for the
of God, but I just knew Sandy wasn’t talking about listening to that
kind of music
when she whispered that to me; I just knew Sandy was talking about the
music I was not supposed to listen to, the kind that, in my parent’s
nobody was supposed to listen to, especially not good people like
kind of music that may or may not have been written by the Devil
kind of music I’d been straining to overhear since I found out it
As she encounters other
family relationships and begins
to more deeply inspect her own life, Jesse's assessment of love and her
in the world changes. This doesn't differ from the typical
but what does give added flavor is Bolster's capture of adult dilemmas
force Jesse to change not only herself, but the nature of her
with her elders.
From circumstances of luck
to choices that challenge her
life, Jesse receives the support and backdrop of a family she also
find a place in. The religious and psychological mixes are especially
satisfyingly depicted: “Therefore
consider whether the light in you
is not darkness,” I quoted. “What about the evil in me?
How does God
decide who suffers and who doesn’t? Why was that poor lady made to be
that horrible man? How could that happen ten miles away while I’m here
Young adults seeking
coming-of-age stories centered on
changing family relationships and the intersection of real-world issues
intergenerational struggles will find Spindrift
Love a compelling, attractive choice.
Bolster's creation of a
young protagonist on the cusp of
abandoning some (but not all) of her teachings shows how Jesse bridges
precedent with present-day evolution to not only forge ahead, but
close connections that helped sculpt her psyche.
Libraries looking for
coming-of-age sagas rooted in
changing family relationships and life experiences will find Spindrift Love is suitable not just for
leisure reading, but young adult book discussion groups interested in
transformative and inclusive experiences that ultimately embrace love
Return to Index
Michael J. Bowler
$18.99 Hardcover/$12.99 Paperback/$2.99 ebook
Books2Read link: https://books2read.com/Spoiler-Bowler
Book 3 of
Chronicle continues the journey of Alex, set adrift after facing his
who tried to kill him. Spoiler
continues his foray into danger as Alex faces the fallout from his
involvement with a cult and tries to navigate a much-changed world
passed since he was reunited with his missing twin, only to face the
from Andy's stealing his healing power.
As if this
enough, he faces imprisonment, an assault on humanity that only he can
and the rise of dangerous forces that shake his depression and
emptiness he feels in his soul.
Can a young
faces betrayal, imprisonment, and the loss of his own abilities and
the saving force for the world?
Bowler's story rests so heavily on past events, it's recommended that
choose Spoiler be prior fans of the
series. This audience will harbor the background suitable for easily
Alex's conundrums and special challenges in this latest saga.
his brother "shift the good" out of humanity, Alex faces his own
moral and ethical conundrums as he faces the treacherous Mrs. G. and a
that threatens his friends, as well.
crafts a fast
pace and strong characterization that builds on the prior books,
story's moral and ethical dilemmas.
enjoyed Alex and Andy's previous struggles will find the fast pace, the
presence of a mysterious gate to another dimension, and the choices
not only in himself but in his relationship with his twin and the world
special ability to 'shift' forces between friends and enemies alike
especially intriguing series of situations in which their choices and
consequences intersect in unexpected ways.
coming of age fantasy that closely examines the evolution of sibling
relationships as well as their connection to the greater world at large.
It's a vivid
highly recommended for YA fantasy collections seeing interest in the
books in a mesmerizing series.
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Sweet Little You
is a lovely picture book story narrated by a mother who tells her baby
how she was wanted and conceived by a single mother. It is a simple,
story that synthesizes the process into a story of love.
Creating a story about a
child's origins for a very young
picture book audience may feel like a stretch, but Joni Halabi's focus
loving mother's enthusiasm about her child's potential and growth
information, which is provided in a gentle way that emphasizes this
and love over the circumstances of the child's conception.
Engaging illustrations by
Lisa Wee capture a toddler's
world and a mother's promise to her child to make that world as rich as
The result is especially
recommended for single parents
who would approach the subject of the purposeful conception of a child
love and simple explanation suitable for this age range.
The book's lovely blend of
colorful illustrations and
simple love-centric story make for a winningly inviting production.
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Jennifer G. Edelson
Bad Apple Books
choose True North for either its
sci-fi or romance elements will find each in abundance, but what really
the story is seventeen-year-old Indy's personality and drive. These are
by a drowning incident in her childhood, in which she had a vision of a
she was saved.
come back to life as she stands on the cusp of adulthood, experiencing
locating UFOs that virtually guarantee their sighting.
dismissing her visions as the results of drowning, Indy establishes a
late-night internet radio show presence and begins to connect with
who not only believe and support her, but offer their own insights into
is of special interest as he begs her to help him find 'his people'
special UFO-sighting powers.
North rapidly evolves to become a viral internet phenomenon sparking
and revolution in listeners committed to unraveling the mystery of
experiences, drawing Indy ever deeper into a world in which the mystery
It comes to threaten her budding relationship with Sawyer and even her
Jennifer G. Edelson creates
a compelling story of
possibilities, growth, and impossibilities in True
North. Her attention to describing psychological insights
come with these sightings lends special drama to the story that brings
life in unexpected ways: "The new
coordinates provoked a mix of horror and excitement. She didn’t doubt
numbers themselves were legit, but she sometimes wondered if the way
interpreted them might be more psyche-driven than celestial, like a
Rorschach test. Maybe the part where True North’s listeners claimed to
disturbances in the sky was an elaborate hoax, or her listeners made
sightings up because they wanted to believe—because sometimes, fantasy
easier to get behind than real life."
The romance element, too, is
subject to change as Indy
makes discoveries about Sawyer that lead her to question his role and
in influencing her life.
Young adults who choose True North for its sci-fi or romance
elements won't be
disappointed, but they receive so much more. The intrigue, action,
characterization, and various interpersonal and bigger picture dilemmas
for a thoroughly engrossing story that takes many unexpected twists and
Libraries who include it in YA sections should find it a popular choice, especially recommended for teens that look for unique representations of love and aliens.True North
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