August 2023 Review Issue
Mystery & Thrillers
979-8372293366 $13.95 Paper/$3.99 ebook
McFarren's Gehenna series will find her epic story expandblossoms
in Black Wing Sky, the fourth book
series, which follows Samara Daemonium's ongoing struggles between
battles and the peaceful life she so desires.
the cusp of achieving her goal. Lucifer's soldiers have captured his
the Seven-Star General of the Archangel Army of Heaven, leading Samara
predict that the outcome will be a revised, peaceful life with her
soul-mate Damian Hunter.
of fire-breathing dragons led by Vetis Kidadl ("The Black Dragon")
threatens the newfound peace and future of Earth's sister planet Nexus,
is tapped for her warrior abilities and likely ability to fight this
Given this new mission, will Samara ever see Middle Earth again?
a powerful story in which Samara once again is charged with rising into
powers and applying them to yet another conflict. At stake are kingdoms
peace for all—but how often can she arise from the ashes like a phoenix
relive her destiny when the only future she wants to walk into is one
Samara's world will find Black Wing Sky
not just a story of new threats and the charge to rise above personal
to address them, but a supercharged, action-packed drama that probes
deeply into matters of influences on relationships that fall to the
"Shortly afterwards, he deeply regretted his
foolish actions, but
that didn’t stop Lucifer from fueling Samara’s anger with the
reveal. In fact, he reveled in sharing it. As a result, Damian knew it
take a miracle to fix the damage he had caused in his relationship with
relationship-building with world-building changes promise surprises,
purposes, and challenged perceptions as Samara and Damian struggle with
Lucifer, one another, family influences, and the tides of political and
scenes that pepper the story as Samara and Damian fulfill both their
destinies are nicely crafted to prove both titillating and revealing as
angel bares herself emotionally and physically.
story fast-paced, her characters appealingly human in their desires and
anticipations, and the overall tension in their disparate lives,
and missions thoroughly engrossing.
Lucifer's daughter, the warmongering Lucinda, and the monsters she's
even as he also faces the impossibilities of his relationship with
Samara. As the
"wiley queen" of Lucifer gone astray, Samara should be forbidden
territory; especially since Lucifer has a vested interest in rejoining
family and has a seemingly ironclad plan to do so: "It
was the best way to bring his son back to Hell and his unconventional
family together again."
plots of demons and angels can go awry, as this story proves as
twists keep Lucifer, Damien, and Samara on their toes and further
matters beyond even their special abilities and ken.
link Samara, Crighton, Arial, and sons and daughters are also nicely
in a story that doesn't just unfold. It explodes with action and
psychological interplays and unpredictable revelations on all sides.
ability to build character tension based on surprises, transformations,
shifting alliances keeps the action swift and the predictability of the
readers who have appreciated the previous three books in McFarren's
world will find the same astute attention to detail and character
evolves a companion story that is riveting and hard to put down.
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Penguins & Ducks Press
$23.99 Hardcover/$17.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
Sci-fi readers interested in
futuristic dystopian worlds in
which environmental issues come infused with social inspection and
ecological transitions will find Critical
Habitat a powerful story of rebellion and power plays. The
fate of nature
both hangs in the balance and influences human outcomes and struggles
The trappings of technology-infused
endeavors, from giant robot sentries to smart pills and secret weapons,
the last of the honeybees head-on in a clash replete with inviting
into what it means to be human, a survivor, or a fighter.
Terrence King creates a compelling
scenario in which the
remnants of humanity remain conflicted about their fate and confused
their connections to nature. Descriptions of the events that led to
are vividly woven into the plot:
nomads of the desert, Loners
had succumbed to disease from the land. She had heard about the
humans, their physical depravity unleashed. They congregated in groups
supposedly, in ruins. She knew to shy away from the crumbling
where the worst of the creatures buoyed a framework of haggling and
Danger was where Loners and their devolved cousins, the Reavers, were,
was going to avoid them as much as fighting itself.
'In the dark,' Sun Bin added, 'they become animals. Their hunger pulls out the worst humanity has seen.'
'I’ve seen the worst humanity brings,' Mel said."
The worst and best of intentions come
to light in graphic,
action-packed scenes that juxtapose adventure with thought-provoking
These encourage readers to reflect on man, nature, and the pivot points
connecting and affecting both.
There are really three battles going
on: between generals,
rebels, and Mother Nature. King intersects these interests using vivid
and unexpected twists that represent forks in the road of intention as
of the bees are protected in an unexpected gambit to survive.
What does it mean to be a rebel, a
hero, or the destroyer
of habitat and civilization?
More than a 'cli-fi' read about the
uncertain future, Critical Habitat
holds the attraction of
an ecology statement, the action and intrigue of a thriller, the
of clashing ideologies, and the soft drone of bees that survive against
odds despite of and due to human intervention in their lives.
and readers that choose Critical Habitat
will find many
intriguing discussion points, food
for thought, and reflections in a dystopian novel that evolves in
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David H. Maring
979-8-35090-853-4 Paperback: $17.95/ E-reader: $8.99
sci-fi have an ever-expanding list of books in the genre to enjoy, but
Maring's Darkness to Light is
the most appealing over many, offering a unique perspective and social
cultural inspections of the long-term aftermath of a nuclear war that
sagas present a relatively simplistic view of barbarian versus
remnants of survivors struggling for control, Maring chooses to view
revitalization and evolutionary process from disparate sides. These
young female Wo archaeologist who discovers the cryogenically frozen
John in a
basement, revives him, and introduces him to this strange new world and
Messianic Jews who control a portion of the former U.S. and have built
own force in the Northern Zone, staving off barbarians who would
perspectives and experiences enter into the bigger picture of social
forbidden actions, and efforts to accept the results of two rogue
introduced physical and mental breakdown on a world-wide level.
Great Catastrophe and works at uncovering remnants of the past and
of light that she might use to dispel the dark age which evolved after
world-changing conflict ended.
new orders to control their environments and prevent the chaos that
their world forever are thought-provokingly presented:
"Beth was grateful that she was a wo. Her position
from birth by the selection process created by the council, a body of
that ruled her world. Some groups created in the laboratory after
had lower intelligence. Scientific methods made sure their brain
reduced to the point where they could be conditioned to perform
assigned by the government and never aspire to anything greater."
history of destructive choices and the possibility of becoming an
force in an overly ordered, regimented world, Beth 20A has long learned
her insights to herself. Neither mental illness nor aberration is
her world, and yet the creative force that stems from diversity cannot
Beth 20A is
survivor who harbors secrets. And in a world of order and control, this
dangerous habit indeed; especially when her work uncovers new
revising humankind's future yet again.
perhaps-predictable clashes between these forces, but the real meat of
story lies in the examinations of social and political interplays that
from a newly structured world still struggling out of its self-imposed
darkness: "...martial law was hardly
noticeable in a society already operating under such a regimented
fact, it only brought more focus on the current leadership and its
wield the reins of power effectively."
rescues to managing survivors without sparking rebellion, Maring
characters and disparate interests with a strong eye to revealing and
contrasting different forms of darkness and enlightenment processes.
dystopian scenarios that incorporate but move beyond conflict into
ethical realms of managing survival and growth opportunities will find
of discussion topics throughout the social strata in Darkness
and changes instigated, the story becomes a thought-provoking series of
insights into many facets of civilization and survival tactics that
motivate libraries to include Darkness to
Light in their collections not only for its dystopian
attractions, but for
its opportunities to reflect on how societies rise, fall, and achieve
between control and creative evolution.
make for a gripping saga that is unpredictable, action-packed, and hard
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Armin Lear Press
978-1-956450-76-7 $22.95 Paper/$9.95 ebook
book in the Qwyrk Tales world, Faytte,
is highly recommended reading for prior enthusiasts of Tim Rayborn's
form of urban fantasy. Here, a peculiar encounter begins with a key.
other characters from prior adventures return to face a new situation
story of mystical surveying and the residual magic which could come
imagination, but probably represents yet another sea change in
crafting a fitting conclusion to his series that follows the ongoing
and real-world encounters between and among a group of young misfits
special abilities come to represent a positive force in the world.
the relationships fostered in previous books while expanding elements
and intrigue that permeate the characters' lives.
From goblins and talking animals to efforts to reclaim the world from humans that involve small mortals in grand schemes and roles, Rayborn crafts an involving, riveting fantasy powered by shockwaves of love and change, all tempered by an undercurrent of humor: “Just stay by the obel-, obli-, the big rock thingie, all right?” Qwykk ordered as she continued her uneasy orbit around said thingie."
As Qwyrk and
confront not only world-changing forces but the reasons why they are
ineffective and Qwyrk's group is so successful, readers of all ages
appreciation for the power of friendship, magic, and proactive thinking
an unlikely, ragtag group of participants to tap their humanity and
particularly adept at evolving further challenges to friendships and
which keep all the characters learning more about themselves, each
their revised positions in life. What they ultimately will choose to
lives and roles relevant is a subject that lends particularly well to
reader book club discussions.
is fun and
unpredictable, the characters multifaceted, flawed and powerful all in
the plot evolves some satisfyingly unexpected twists that will keep
and newcomers engrossed and wondering at the ultimate outcome.
who have enjoyed the prior Qwyrk Tales adventures will find all the
the previous books (magic, adventure, friendship, and warmth) present
powerful in this final event, which involves the end of one world and
evolution of something better in its place.
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As the third
the Bewilderness series, the fantasy Neverscape
continues both building and shattering worlds and paradigms as thief
escapes the shadow realm, only to find the Shadows present and
end of the world on the planet Kandom. This time there is no escape,
the universe-gobbling Shadows plan on an invasion and consumption of
energy, giving them access to all dimensions and realms.
just all around her and everywhere in the universe, either. It's also
Malidora becomes a target as well as an adversary in more than one way,
to assume the unlikely role of a hero as she confronts both her self
darkness bewitching and consuming everything around her.
affliction of the mind that pits Brightlanders against each other as
the forces that would manipulate everything, Malidora becomes both a
hope and a threat that represents challenges to beliefs, changes, and
struggling for survival on many levels.
contains a dreadful opportunity for power beyond conventional thinking:
“A great presence has communed with me.” The
zinugal leaned forward.
“They speak of a savage darkness. A darkness that has already engulfed
this world. While it consumes the unworthy, it will meld us with an
mind, and we will not stand in its way. It beckons us to a greater
greater understanding. We shall ascend from this universe to the realms
force to be reckoned with. Malidora's task becomes that of both
and turning side personal desires in favor of achieving a greater
"Dabradan lay on the sand staring at the sky.
'We’re both going to
die someday; you may as well live while you have to chance.' His words
in her mind. They lay next to each other waiting for the engines to dry
Perhaps he was right, but she couldn’t take that chance. There was too
work to be done, too many wrongs that she had to right. She wasn’t in a
in her life where she could allow someone into it."
Cox's Bewilderness series would do well to imbibe of the prior books to
fuller feel for the setting and milieu of this universe, but they will
find that starting with Neverscape
not an impossible task. The story opens with a compelling bang, the
and confrontations that evolve are presented in a logically
manner, and Malidora's pursuit of something greater than her own
both thought-provoking and compelling.
tempered by a focus on what drives individuals to rise above their
circumstances and training to walk improbable paths of personal and
empowerment, with characters such as Malidora holding the torch of
and growth alongside battles that test their moxy and motives.
powerful, action-packed bend of personal and paradigm clashes and
that will appeal beyond young adult readers. Neverscape
reaches out to all ages interested in epic journeys that
embrace a touch of romance, growth, and the dreams and nightmares of
individuals who step up to become leaders against all odds.
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Adventures in the Multiverse
Perpendicular Women: Adventures in the Multiverse
alternate universes. In one, wife and mother Kara Cuesta struggles to
dysfunctional family. In the other, older tech executive Pandora
Garnett may be
the only force that can stave off World War IV. The perpendicular lives
these women intersect in the arena of special interests, from the
family focus Kara
represents and fosters to the bigger issue of humanity's survival that
struggles to assure.
somehow entwined lives are presented as a series of juxtaposing
connection, playing out the strands of each woman's experience in
viewpoints of experience that emphasize each character's disparate life
"Kara Cuesta never considered herself an
adventurer. As a wife,
mother of two teenage girls, and marketing manager for a small company,
a worker. A peacemaker. A runner on the treadmill of ordinariness. Her
afforded no time for adventure."
world of 2012 and leader Pandora's two-moon world of 2028 are connected
experiences and phrases that link these two lives: "There
was much to celebrate and much to fear."
ages and concerns to the bigger pictures that reach out to shake their
and affect the future, Kara and Pandora represent two forces that both
and destroy new possibilities as they penetrate the veil of time and
new aspects about their abilities to change their worlds.
with a seasoned, reflective hand that adds a dash of humor into the mix
("We’ll save the world while we pay the
attorney.”) but keeps the focus steadily on the evolving
compassion between characters forced to confront abusers, users, and
complacency and courage in changing their worlds.
interests intersect, bigger pictures emerge that readers won't see
which lends a very satisfying complexity to the story that places it
singular consideration of women on the verge of transformation.
“I believe Paradise is a feeling, not a place. We
can all be together.”
that permeate this Multiverse environment and their interconnected
decisions makes for a story that is unpredictable, satisfyingly complex
social and psychological observations, and filled with the movement of
and change as incredible stories prove true and characters come to
a force they can be to affect the world's evolution and progression.
stories replete in heady psychological and social reflection will find Perpendicular Women: Adventures in the
Multiverse holds just the right mix of science, personal, and
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sounds like this book will be a mathematical exploration, Scott Bollens
crafted an admirable sci-fi adventure in ReForm:
Combating the Algorithmic Mutation that takes a step away
from the familiar
classic Colossus to posit a world
which a supercomputer's domination and war has taken place not just in
outside world, but in the chip-laden brains of humanity.
As the story
humanity appears to have won. The computer's control factor has ceased.
are on the rise, the chip-encouraged violence of humanity is ebbing,
interconnect supercomputer that has fostered these dangers is actually
is not a new theme—but its self-transformation into a different form of
dictatorship is, as assaulted, numbed citizens find themselves as in
through the comparatively, seemingly benign computer program of ReForm
did during its violence-inducing phase during the Turmoil.
ReForm isn't just a story of computer
versus man, however. It also
presents the efforts of a flawed human investigator whose seizures have
confined him to a mental institution, surprisingly, insulating him from
the computer-generated influences of this strange new world. In his
flaw is a survival trait as Jared Rohde faces a difficult choice
regaining an independent form of cognitive thinking or succumbing to
of computer addiction and its alluring fantasy environment.
work may be over, but Jared's new mandates and life is just beginning.
readers will walk in his shoes as Jared faces a new understanding about
life and everything that influences and directs it. Under computer
can reality itself be defined and recognized; and what constitutes
answers, his readers will appreciate the vivid first-person reflections
will spark discussions and higher-level thinking about artificial
and computer attractions in modern society. The passages of reflection
history are thought-provoking:
"Life under the interconnect
God is buffered and cushioned from direct experiences such
as this. So
many denizens in our country have no awareness of such things
internalized manufactured mental spaces cannot see such beautiful
phenomena. The fabricated space feels safe, so we buy into it. It is
When is a
life imperfect? When it is recognized as an illusion and an incarnation
control at the hands of an outsider who just so happens to be
under the hands of humans and machines determined to take away his
function under the guise of ReStart and connectivity, readers will be
to reconsider their own computer relationships and addictions.
The path to
takes on an unfamiliar feel as Jared makes discoveries about human
choices, and "The raw
interconnectedness of all the natural elements. The organized
is beyond the reach of machine and man."
find ReForm: Combating the Algorithmic
Mutation not only thoroughly engrossing and appropriate for
interested in issues of computer domination and direction, but perfect
club reading groups engaged in thoughtful discussions over life's
direction, and what happens when control is willingly and purposefully
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latest addition to the Silver Spheres series offers prior fans a happy
surprise, because the original books were billed as a trilogy, and River to the Multiverse is the fourth
book. The space adventure opens with an alien coming to earth with a
in mind, to help humanity avoid the destruction that eliminated her
world in an
intragalactic war. Because the story picks up where the third novella, Promise of
Visitor, left off, this continuation will especially be
prior fans who wanted more (though newcomers will find it equally
Successful mystery author Jacob
Cassel, his new bride astronomer Amy, and the telepathic AI Arcon
return in a
story that centers around the arrival of Aneleyan scientist visitor
vested interest in helping Earth is quickly thwarted by a distress call
the last survivors of her race.
incorporates a wry sense of humor from the start, which adds
value to the story by expanding its characters and injecting comic
many serious moments:
“By the way, I wouldn’t be making a loudmouth out
of myself if you
found the time to teach me how to speak telepathically. It isn’t like
we have a
catastrophe pending that requires our immediate attention as the case
since I’ve known you. It can’t be terribly timeconsuming to teach me.”
makes no reply. He is most likely off somewhere pondering the mysteries
Moral and ethical dilemmas in solving problems,
survival of a mission of mercy over a rescue attempt, and interacting
aliens, AIs, and adversity permeate a tale that excels in not only
descriptions of extraordinary encounters, but equally vivid color
that provide visual embellishment.
The humor continues as AIs and humans attempt a series of impossible
their experience or imaginations:
eternally pragmatic soulmate has spoken. Heeding Amy’s advice, I make a
turn around the scattered pieces of the late heavy cruiser.
“I wonder what the Oranian warship was doing here in the middle of nowhere,” Amy muses.
“Probably looking for new worlds to conquer. There are nine universes to choose from here with planets ripe for the picking.”
“Your theory is plausible,” Arcon says.
“That’s twice in a row you’ve agreed with me. Are you feeling okay?”
Admittedly, the science portion of the sci-fi tale
is a stretch. But,
no more than many other sci-fi writings whose intrinsic value lies not
sterling scientific concepts, but in the interactions between
each find their values and perceptions challenged ... even the AI
Gittlin provides a fast-paced story based on the
premise of an alien's
goodwill and legacy and the events that accompany her initiatives to
world. As a companion to the Silver Spheres stories, it further expands
actions and relationship of Amy, Jacob, and Arcon, but adds the value
of a new
mission that challenges each character to change course for the greater
and survival of the world.
Action-packed and thought-provoking, River to the Multiverse represents
a journey that should not only be in any library seeing popularity with
Gittlin's other books, but in sci-fi circles seeking stories suitable
club debate and discussion.
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Bundle - Audiobook
ASIN: B08248V7QC $22.79 Audio
audio version of Shards of Light? In this case, the audio version lends
value not just because it's narrated by author William Hahn, who is
familiar, as creator, with every intended nuance of his epic fantasy
because the audio version's dramatic flairs lead to understanding and
absorption of the tale on a level that print simply can't equal.
narration is clear, dramatic, and compelling. It needed to be such,
listening to four books in one audio bundle represents over 22 hours of
(or pain, were it to be read under the wrong voice). Hahn's ability to
and reflect the underlying dramatic moments and pivot points of the
fantasy lends a feel to not just the plot, but the characters
themselves as he
adjusts his voice to capture each character and the interplays between
seers of the future such as W’starrah Altieri, and new imperial officer
who is just as convinced he has no future, clash, the epic struggles of
individuals and kingdoms come alive in audio to bring forth a powerful
individuals and traditions on the cusp of change.
with longbows and the dragging hours of battlefield pauses to "smoking
wounds" and the heat of fire arrows and destruction, Hahn brings to
losses for the empire and individuals like as death and slaughter
and all around him.
The power of
version of a book ideally is to bring the story to new life. When this
applied to a four-book bundle, it takes a strong voice and compelling
plot and oral narration to keep readers thoroughly engrossed.
version of Shards of Light achieves
these goals in a manner that sets it heads and shoulders above most
book narratives. What is demanding in print becomes smooth and
audio, making Shards of Light Bundle
a top recommendation for those who would listen with baited breath and
unflagging interest to an artist as adept at audio drama as he is at
pen to paper.
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Bundle - Paperback
978-3956811418 $14.99 Paper/$7.99 ebook
Shards of Light Bundle is an epic fantasy
collection that embraces
four books and the evolution of a world rich in political strife,
missions, and the impact of hidden lives and choices that simmer to the
to confront a world's threat.
includes the books of its four component titles: “The Ring and the
“Fencing Reputation,” “Perilous Embraces,” and “Shards of Light.” As
the first and last place to go to absorb the breadth and depth of a
story that holds a disparate cast of characters, from elves and humans
halflings, demons, and horses.
collection back-to-back allows for a journey that moves smoothly from
individual to world-confronting circumstances. The heroes featured
fall into a predictable pattern; for each is flawed in some intrinsic
forced to operate outside their comfort zones and familiar patterns of
and reaction. They take on decisions and new perceptions of the world
ultimately affect not only their place in it, but the ways in which it
challenged or preserved.
imperial officer, is on the cusp of entering a new time in his life,
ironically sees no future in his pursuits. Living legend Stealthic,
is a master of every disguise but the greatest challenge—presenting
leader W’starrah Altieri
also perceives no set course in her future. Being a visionary, all she
coming is either heartbreak or death.
clash, interact, and intersect in unpredictable ways as their stories
bringing with them the disparate forces that reflect rich sources of
confrontation and change.
bundled stories are not light reads. They demand from their readers an
attention to detail, disparate paths and perceptions, and absorbing the
entwined lives of individuals who view their worlds and place in them
descriptions written in the second person offers readers a "you are
here" experience to place them in the center of a maelstrom of social
political events that swirl around the characters and their concerns:
"He walks deliberately toward the southern gate
district, no doubt
to the same festival but likely with a different purpose. Where does he
this web of schemes? And what hold does he evidently have on Tanar’h,
than the proximity of his monastery to the High Heart’s childhood home?
man who talks so much about family, your rival has been at great pains
show you the one he constructed for himself since arriving in
family he invited you to join. Your heart is settled, but doomed..."
time and place are both recognizable and intrinsically flawed, both in
perceptions of their places in the scheme of events and in their
set courses of action which are, in fact, fluid and ever-changing.
characters come to their realizations about the evil growing under
in different ways, with parallel timelines introducing a complexity
time to absorb. This effort is rewarded with an exceptionally rich
that places the reader in the position of being audience, judge, and
participant as they walk alongside each character and consider courses
action that are both in keeping with and outside of their usual choices.
There is not
problem buffeting the city and its characters; not just one hero who
transformation and growth; and not just one outcome to their different
Hahn embraces military clashes, social inspection, and psychological
at many levels as he unfolds a story exceptionally rich in its
seeking the epitome of epic fantasy, holding the complexity of Lord of the Rings and the psychological
depth that can only come from a detailed contrast between characters
that operate at different levels of realization and self-interest, will
Shards of Light Bundle thoroughly
engrossing, satisfyingly rich, and hard to put down.
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Ships & Other Trips: A Short Story
Collection Book II
Grey Sun Press
978-1-947712-08-9 $13.99 Print/$4.99 ebook
Readers of speculative fiction well know how
relatively scarce this genre is, compared to the profuse writings of
and fantasy worlds. Space Ships & Other Trips: A
Short Story Collection
Book II represents works from the last decade of Raven Oak's
gathering stories that represent the diversity and possibilities in the
speculative fiction genre.
"The Loss of Luna" opens the
collection with the vivid story of sentient celestial beings and
relationships between Earth and the stars. The ethereal relationship
Luna and Earth is explored in an otherworldly dialogue that creates
extraordinary interplay and possibilities that become "lost in the
brilliance of life." To feel the processes of planets that hold the
to reflect on former connections, loss, love, and beyond in a milieu
humans and life is but an adjunct to stellar events gives much pause
"Drip" is another story that opens
with how night brings not respite, but the solidifying horror of
real-world events as viruses and wildfires consume the nation. Is there
to sleeping, or to survival under such news and circumstances? Is the
sound from the tub a leak, or a portent of rain?
Anyone who suffers from insomnia well knows
the night terrors that too easily replace counting sheep, and the
noise that become foreground portents of danger. In this case, the
change brought to the foreground is but one thought that challenges the
wanna-be sleeper's efforts.
Each story reflects philosophical and
psychological power through speculations that consider real-world
in a new light. Each offers compelling insights, whether they are about
technology, human impact, or the nature of living.
Readers of speculative fiction well know how
rare is the opportunity to digest a treasure trove of works that truly
parallel worlds of reality.
Other Trips: A Short Story Collection Book II is a sterling example of the genre's flexibility
opportunities. It should be a mainstay in any library strong in
works, on the reading lists of anyone attracted to thought-provoking
pieces, and used as discussion material for book clubs interested in
about life's meaning and impact.
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Transform the World
B. Morris Allen, et.al.
Other Worlds Ink
$6.99 eBook, $19.99 paperback; $29.99 hardcover
Transform the World:
Sci-Fi Writers Change the Planet features a
diverse set of visions of the future that come from a single question:
could the world work better?
Whether the writer choose to run with issues
of equality, pay inequity, environmental issues, or other subjects, the
contributes a powerful tone of achievement and positivity to subjects
usually receive somewhat grim predictions in the sci-fi worlds of the
Take 'Default' by Xauri’
EL Zwaan, for one example. The story opens with an
ordinary busy day in Joy's world. Climate engineering has shown some
addressing climate change issues, but her teen child is obsessed with
and achievement while Joy herself considers her own options: "To
make it big in the Luxe market, you had to do something that brought in
of revenue without having to share it with too many other people."
Joy admits she feels she's “...drifting
farther and farther away from the life I wanted" as she
contributes to greasing the wheels of Plex society while feeling like
helping others more than herself.
As issues of labor choice, gaming's allure,
and the promises and failures of social obligation and work affect Joy
child's relationship and disparate visions of their future and its
readers receive a thought-provoking examination of freedom,
ambition that is challenged by futuristic pressures and scenarios.
Each story builds a very different vision of
how the world could work better, how it's evolved, and how characters
reconsider their own motivations and participation in society to affect
More so than most sci-fi short story
collections about future social issues, these short stories encourage
and discussion about what elements could work better for the planet and
Libraries and readers looking for especially
diverse, thought-provoking sci-fi forays into not only what works, but
will find Transform the World a
potent gathering of forces that juxtapose tales of hope, social
a feeling of peaceful opportunity into the sci-fi short story world.
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Ordering link: https://www.amazon.com/Zone-Cyberpunk-Thriller-ebook/dp/B0C7DQ18TW
The Zone is a cyberpunk thriller that
incorporates sci-fi and
elements of military engagement in its story of the future. It revolves
tech addiction and law enforcement in the city of Neo Terminus, where
nano-boosted gladiators (Enforcers) fight to the death in the
Conglomerate-controlled event known as The Zone.
become an Enforcer for the Conglomerate, driven by the health needs of
child. He rises quickly to professional success, then is invited to
a coveted Zone event that promises further wealth and an end to all his
anything but. In
fact, it portends a revised and new form of oppression which will
result in the
complete enslavement of the citizens of Neo Terminus, and which also
cement his own reliance on the Conglomerate without its promise of
his big event, he becomes immersed in the underlying motivations,
scenarios the Congolmerate has struggled to keep hidden. Stu Jones
these realizations with the step-by-step training process that keeps
his toes and learning new skills that he'll eventually apply in
ways. The action-packed descriptions simply sizzle with exciting "you
"Chance’s shouts of excitement died in his throat
as he blasted
from the launch tube onto the training grid. A twilight world of haze
matte purple filled his vision, the strobing lights of his HUD
flashing out of sync. He somersaulted
through the air, his body twisting wildly as he fell.
“How the hell do I—?”
“Don’t fight it, knucklehead.” Sam’s voice filled his ears. “Let the suit compensate for the landing.”
“I can’t see,” Chance called out, his world inverting over and over again.
Chance's search for answers leads readers into scenarios filled with confrontation. The surprise realizations will prove delightful challenges even to seasoned cyberpunk and thriller readers who usually see patterns unfold and scenarios unwinding far in advance. Not here.
The Glom's real
purpose comes to light, readers will find many thought-provoking
them immersed in a story of political influence, confrontation, and
manipulation that continually reinvents who the bad guys really are, in
cyberpunk production that holds the ability to reach beyond its roots
and into thriller audiences seeking edgy, action-packed descriptions
twists they won't see coming.
Return to Index
The Blue Whale Sings From Afar
The Blue Whale Sings
intersects nature with human affairs, binding its free verse
a sense of color and purpose that swim through revelations as sweet and
poignant as the poem 'The Swan Who Sang With a Heart,' in which the
identity, purpose, and purity evolves from the ordinary effort of
cup of coffee: "A white swan was
swimming in my coffee/As in a pond of everlasting sweetness.../The
swan, he had
a heart with him/The heart of forgotten times..."
Josefina Bérard unearths poetic reflection
from cups of tea or coffee, Victorian afternoons, and attempts to grasp
elusive daily act of living a full life when purpose and pleasure pull
Each carefully crafted piece is like a
jigsaw puzzle, both able to stand on its own and yet contributing a
sense of perspective to the greater efforts. Such an example lies in
"So, to the harbor I
went/To feel the sea, the boats, the stripped garments/And the sense of
to the core./To love the rain dripping in my face/And love the rain
Whether stripping away dark matters of the
soul or fully embracing and thus exposing them to the reader's eye,
collection holds a unified connection to nature. Quests for peace and
opportunity of holding gems of seasonal change and poetic evolution
by side here, in The Blue Whale Sings
Libraries seeking strong, contemporary free
verse examples of literary connections to nature will find The Blue Whale Sings From Afar a fine
example of celebrating life
and nature in all its incarnations. As one season ends and another
the flow of these poems move betwixt opportunities and observations,
the light of an accessible form of literary inspection that promises to
Return to Index
Faster, Annihilators!, doesn't pique
interest, the LGBTQ+ poetry will. Written over a period of some
years that follow Travis Hupp's evolution as a gay man from high school
adult circles, they provide enlightenment, humor, and social
moves beyond autobiographical reflection and well into the field of
awakening and struggles with social expectations and mores.
anticipate vivid pieces of interpersonal and life connections that are
wide-ranging in nature, from a grief process involving a cat to gender
and community involvements.
survival tactics, both on a humanity-wide and a personal level: "We still debate/exactly what
happened/as if the madness was alien to us/when in fact we were the
microcosm/macrocosm juxtaposition of these works provides satisfyingly
thought-provoking opportunities to reflect on cause, effect, and the
repression, yet undercurrents of hope permeate many of the pieces to
possibilities to the forces of oppression and repression that evolve
and outer influences: "No clocks in
this fortress/that protects the world/from my wounded heart/Once
criminal/time means nothing at all/You just get wrung out/trying to
stain off/Still I choose wild hope/in the face of creeping torture..."
hope" that keeps these poems entering into realms of new possibilities
options. It's that sense of "turning the angry blue/of my latest
bruise" into vigils of transformation that will attract readers into
Hupp's life and the literary forces that permeate his exploration of
and place in it.
literature hold the ability to reach traditional readers, but this
extolling the challenges and possibilities of social change and
transformation is clear in its message of hope and opportunity, which
reach a wider audience of poetry and social issues readers than the
"I try to drag into the light/truths people
dead telling/One day I’ll outfeel intellect/One day/I’ll outreason
social observation, and personal evolution collide, the result is
indeed. Libraries seeking poetry works that toe the line between memoir
social examination will find Faster,
Annihilators! just the ticket for book clubs and readers
bigger-picture thinking about life trajectories, choices, and social
Return to Index
While Ghosts of Mr. Baker may sound like a
supernatural exploration, it actually represents poetry and prose that
resonates on different levels of awareness, leading readers through
space in a literary effort designed to engage audiences by capturing
unseen, mysteries of life and afterlife, and the evolution of complex
relationships between self and the world: "Freedom
is running with the blind/not listening to the suffocation of a brain."
"forever chasing ghosts," but these are spirits of conscious and
subconscious nature whose elusive countenances accompany happiness and
realizations that typically "only last a moment." Also inherent in
these inspections of life, self, and ghostly echoes are reflections on
place in this greater scheme of haunted life: "God
doesn’t hear dead men/but I hope he answers them/unless the
phone ringing in the distance/simply can’t be picked up."
a tribute to Mr. Baker ("Hobey", who is "hockey royalty")
and an inspiration and an acknowledgement of the ghostly echoes and
of the past, with icons of wonder guiding present-day life. His
inclusion of a
childhood girlfriend's summation of his group of friends and their
captured in a pointed prose tribute to Mr. Baker's lasting influence:
“It’s kinda scary how similar you all are. All
really good looking,
really good hockey players, really funny, and have all these other
artistical talents but somehow are all still so insanely sad about
know, something about all of you St. Paul’s hockey boys.”
The meat of
works lies in making sense of life, recognizing home, and acknowledging
impact the spirits and souls of people hold on everyday lives that
alongside or without them.
"I swore I’d never run away/So god bless the broken
always brings us back." Ghosts of Mr. Baker 's haunting
faith, loss, growth, and falling in love with past and present memories
earn it a place in any library strong in contemporary works blending
autobiographical experience and bigger-picture thinking about the
influence life, and how we become them, in spirit.
Return to Index
Harvest: Short Stories
Harvest: Short Stories
is a literary continuation of the collection Richard Scharine
introduced in The
Past We Step Into, offering six
tales that move from the author's Wisconsin roots to his health
struggles as an
demonstrates that the notions of survival and growth in America may not
cut-and-dried as some would think as a progression through the years
to expand the notion of fruitful life experiences and strength.
The opening story
'Harvest' chronicles a coming-of-age in the late 1940s, where family
portended a blossoming empire have turned into communities where the
family hierarchy raises more than crops, but beliefs:
"If Peggy were to describe her calling,
after automatically listing her community-determined categories of
mother, Christian, etc., she would say that she was
a Witness: someone who saw the world as truthfully as possible,
according to a standard, but withheld judgment out of love and pity.
calling she would have liked to pass on to the son who stands
From inheritances, tenants, and other
evidences of power and control to a child's blossoming perceptions of
these hierarchies mean to his life and future, Scharine captures the
the Midwest and its local color. He doesn't remain captivated and
this environment, but expands the stories to other milieus as this
influencer also moves into other territories, there to take root under
environments and experiences.
Under his hand, these stories grow as deeply
as their characters, resting on preliminary roots of experience, but
gravitating into American cultural and social encounters that also
their power and impact into life perceptions and perspectives: "Rik knew immediately what he was
searching for and why he didn’t want to be questioned."
The stories evolve different characters,
ideals of homestead and hearth, and reflect changing social and
Libraries and readers seeking literary yet
accessible productions that capture the heartbeat of American
find Harvest: Short Stories an
evocative, thought-provoking attraction that deserves profile in book
interested in literary works tracing American communities and growth.
Return to Index
Tales From the Hereafter
978-1-944521-18-9 $14.95 Paper/$6.99 ebook
Stories about the hereafter are typically
gloomy, scary, or ominous. Ted Myers here imagines some seventeen
experiences, offering first-person accounts "direct from the afterlife"
which vary wildly in their notions of heaven, hell, and whatever lies
Take the opening short story, 'Bardo Train
to Canarsie.' This opens with an unexpected bang as the narrator admits
death is not all he'd thought it was going to be:
"My body had been dead
for two days. I could hear my brother monks chanting the mantra of the
whole time: “Go to the Light. Do not be distracted by the demons of the
If this was the bardo, it certainly was not what I was expecting."
The narrator's effort to "go to the
light" results in a subway encounter with the ragged Leroy C.V. Jones,
poet (and possible demon) who doesn't just interfere, but messes with
narrator's vision of his final mission to go towards the right light.
As he faces tricks in locating and leading
Leroy into the fabled white Light of Canarsie, readers will be
surprised at the
course his final mission takes.
Compare this to 'For All Eternity,' in which
a fifty-year marriage doesn't end with death, but contains new
and insights that redefine commitment.
“I want to go where
But is this even possible, given the new truth that emerges to thwart
narrator's deepest desire?
Each story provides a thought-provoking
twist that will prove unexpected and surprising. Each tale offers a
new vision of the afterlife, its purposes, and ironic results that stem
just from choice, but new realizations.
The stories also excel with surprising
diversity, whether exploring the afterlife of a Black worker, a monk,
that fall into truths that shake the afterlife.
Libraries and readers seeking a powerful
compendium of thoughts about what an afterlife could ultimately bring
especially those involved in book club or spiritual discussion groups
interested in literary works that excel in their disparate visions of
possibilities, will find Tales From the
Hereafter a hard-hitting series of vignettes that grasp with
surprises and unpredictable scenarios and outcomes.
Return to Index
Tangled Iron Cages on the Prairie
Tangled Iron Cages on
Prairie offers a lesson in Midwestern culture and
irony as it inspects not the wagon train era, but the wild ride of
in the 1960s. Three main characters (Bob, Jennifer and Helen) explore
world and its influence through flashbacks, intersected experiences,
that resonate with Illinois culture and period influences.
The uncommon literary devices Cecil Homer
employs in this study will prove especially accessible and appreciated
students of Midwestern contemporary literature, who will find in the
its presentation build a powerfully compelling atmosphere in which
experiences are put to the test of self-imposed limitations from these
What is the message, here? Just as the Bible
is not always evident in its revelations, so the characters discover
too, harbors an element of disguise and puzzle that both thwarts and
search for truth and meaning.
Each character reflects on their
circumstances, life trajectory, and the nature of this journey in
ways. Readers can expect philosophical, historical, and psychological
to emerge, all centered in Midwestern values and experience, as the
topics grow to embrace history and origins:
"Plainsboro is an
name for a town; how did it come about? Here on the plains of Illinois,
seems right to call a town Plains. But that is too ordinary, so why was
added? The Scotch Irish from North Carolina did it. Our town had no
“Jones” after the first grocer. He was a crook – hanged, which created
problem for the citizens. At the time, there was a large number of
folks from North Carolina – the Scotch Irish. They wanted a name to
of back home as a way to mitigate the loss and sorrow from moving west.
is, if they chose a good name for the town it might bring good fortune.
Goldsboro was first proposed by a would-be promoter and marketer of the
Readers familiar with Midwestern psychology
and culture will be especially appreciative of the threads of each that
winds into his tale as the comedic farce plays out and the characters
contemplate exciting new lives and opportunities.
As graduation and the promise of
transformation looms, the story assumes added attractions of love,
moving between worlds as the contest between Plainsboro and Seattle's
Libraries and readers seeking books rooted
in contemporary Midwest culture and promises will find Tangled
Iron Cages on the Prairie an excellent literary study that
deserves discussion and debate in any book club or reading group
self-imposed cages and limitations and the blossoming of friends,
Its heartfelt characters and their
interconnected lives and ambitions keep readers thoroughly engaged and
challenged by the format and diversity of perspectives and experiences.
Return to Index
Under Her Eye
Lindy Ryan and Lee Murray, Editors
Black Spot Books
978-1-64548-137-9 $14.95 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Under Her Eye: A Women
Horror Poetry Showcase, Vol. II
is a literary gathering of women's horror poetry writing. It
the first volume and adds new insights about women who struggle with
forms of horror that include abusive and dark situations at home and in
definition of horror allows for an equally broad inspection of its
identification and incarnation, creating a powerful anthology of horror
concurrent antonym, hope.
strong emotions mark a literary prowess on the parts of each
this anthology. This translates to a focus on physical and
incarnations of horror experiences, as well as the kinds of disparate
that lead to survival. Just as there is no set definition of what
horror, so there is no singular path towards mitigating its impact, as
As for the
themselves, their complexity, diverse subjects and approaches, and
create a unified interpretation of horror that will both enlighten and
readers on many levels.
Cotton Dresses' by Emma J. Gibbon, for one example. The seemingly mild
and the image it conjures are tempered by the tragedy that evolves as a
women awaken to discover "When they
woke up that morning in the mist and green,/in every yard, a plain
dress./Hanging from a wire coat hanger on the tree, fence, on the
and white and cold/and on each dress, a small note pinned/a white
of notepaper./In formal handwriting, in gray-black ink,/two words:/Why
Their uniform response to this discovery turns a mild event into a form
rebellion readers won't see coming.
power to provoke thoughtful, strong reactions from its readers. Each
the quiet, feral, or forceful reactions of women to horror in a
Another example of this diversity lies in Christina Ladd's 'Burn It
"I will drill holes in my own strong bones/To fill
them with fire/I
will pluck out my eyes/And set the sockets with flint/So that when I
gaze/Over this place/It will catch./Do you know what twenty years of
do to a person?"
No easy read, these
poems of rebellion and agony—but, an essential one for survivors and
navigating their own life currents of horror. Ideally, Under
Her Eye: A Women in
Horror Poetry Showcase, Vol. II
will not only be included in women's literature and poetry libraries,
but will be profiled for group discussion by book clubs, women's
psychological circles focusing on abuse, empowerment, horror, and
It's that important.
additional note, the Under Her Eye
series represents charity showcase developed in
partnership with The Pixel Project, a global non-profit organization
eliminating violence against women worldwide.)
Return to Index
Florence My Love
Graceann K. Deters
Legacy Notes Press
979-8218187897 $15.99 Paper/$6.99 Kindle
Libraries and readers
looking for biographies about women
in theater will want to acquire and study Florence
My Love: The Remarkable Life of a Chautauqua Star. It follows
the life of
author Graceann K. Deters's mother-in-law Florence Poling, offering a
glimpse into the theater world of the earlier part of the 20th century.
reveals how an Iowa farm girl traveled the world and made her impact
far from home.
Florence achieved many goals
uncommon for a woman of her
times, from enrolling in a
prestigious music college and obtaining a degree in an era where women
went to college at all to contributing her vivid singing voice to
one of the largest and most revered cultural movements in the history
United States and Canada.
that daughter-in-law Graceann's story stems from unprecedented personal
to the stories, but it was her discovery of Florence's record of her
achievements (newspaper clippings, programs, and memorabilia) that led
exploration of this remarkable story and its eventual publication here.
funny thing, because Florence's biography does more than focus on one
remarkable achievements. It explore her times, the history and
Chautauqua, and the hidden history of a woman whose passion for living
against all odds resulted in a distance from her son and family that
played down her achievements.
this biography was even possible in all of its detail is that Florence
virtually every program from every single recital she'd participated
with newspaper articles.
focus on Florence's life and impact was great, but an even stronger
to support Florence's belief that music changes the world. And so the
unfolds powerful connections between Florence's evolving life in music
social changes it brings to her milieu and the country as a whole.
strong sense of place as well as that of purpose and career evolution
start, crafting a compelling, rich loam of insights that readers will
"Florence Poling was born in America’s Midwest,
neverending emptiness: sky, land, water. Surrounded by farmland in its
and unrelenting presence, and a horizon so expansive it could swallow
whole. Even now, all these years later, if you drive 50 miles from the
of any midwestern city, you’ll be devoured by rolling hills and flat
of fertile soil. Florence found it unnerving, all that emptiness, at
and devastating. But here it was that her roots were planted."
reads with the excitement, passion, and personal attention of a novel,
incorporates the draw and drama of fiction into its nonfiction story.
additional layers of understanding to Florence's milieu and personal
in life: "No matter how much you
know a thing, it can still knock you down just as if you never saw it
through Florence's world and then into her influence on Graceann's
Bill, tracing decisions, perspectives, and choices influenced by the
sum of her
life (even though its full processes weren't common knowledge to her
"unending charisma" that gained her numerous easy friendships to the
travels that connected her to the music world and the correspondences
her grounded, Florence's vivid milieu comes to life in a biography that
celebrates faith, family, and creative endeavors alike.
celebratory story that is vivid in its descriptions, taking the time to
Florence's world in a sense of place and purpose:
"As always, the end of summer brought with it a
inescapable pang of panic. Florence could feel the open road and the
opportunity for performances and rapt audiences collapse around her as
world pulled into greater darkness and chill. As she sat on a bench
the Mississippi river, Florence tried and failed to fight off the dread
instead enjoy the late August sun falling through the oak trees
the curve of gold that was the river below. “Itchy” is what John had
it—another name for the same energy that had always compelled Florence
to the horizon. The only solution, in this moment anyway, was to think
of what was
right in front of her: a performance that evening at The Sheldon
downtown Red Wing."
The result is lively,
personal, eye-opening, and celebratory. Anyone interested in music,
and women's shifting roles in the world will relish the romance,
travels captured in Florence
Return to Index
Lystra Books & Literary Services
979-8-9850083-5-7 $18.85 Paper/$7.99 ebook
Glove Shy: A Sister's
Reckoning demonstrates what the memoir format can do
under the right hands and approach. On the surface, it details a family
based on journals, letters, emails, interviews, press clippings,
autobiographies, photos, public documents, and artifacts. Under this
well-researched study into boxing history and a brother's involvements
heartfelt stories of personal interactions, and growth that reach
generations with influence and power.
The opening salvo of description clearly
makes this connection from the start:
thap, THAP, thap, THAP, thap-thap-thap-thap. Our
ten-year-old son, Liam, is hitting the heavy bag, the sound now in
my heartbeat. If he were older, with more weight behind his blows, I
hearing thud, thud, thud. Maybe even punctuated with those airy-raspy
that come from exhaling through the nose, the sounds every boxer makes
throwing a punch. Sounds that resonate from my childhood, from a
basement in a
ranch-style house in upstate New York, where my older brother, Brian,
this same heavy bag, fervent, at first, with ambition."
Family live revolved around these sounds in
author Janet Hurley's youth, when her older brother Brian chose boxing
goal and the sky seemed to be the limit for his abilities.
While boxing takes the center ring of family
developments, its incarnation and growth leads to and influences family
interactions as underlying emotional forces simmer beneath the veneer
family effort to foster a child's success in the world.
Whether winning or losing, this story of
brother Brian's boxing efforts, broader insights, and their impact on
family (which both comes apart and together in unexpected ways) creates
interplay of faith, determination, and flawed perspectives that are
and astutely examined.
From fellow boxer Andy Schott's experiences
and battles to bigger-picture questions of how walls and bridges are
built both within and outside of the family, readers will find far more
on here than a singular account of the boxing world or a brother's life.
Janet Hurley's special form of reckoning and
remembrance draws readers into a milieu of battles and conflict that
beyond the ring and into the heart:
"For years, I
the flicks of white bread that my mother spewed out as so much yeasty
Now, I can see it was desperation. It wasn’t that Andy took Brian’s
place as the
golden boy at the gym, or that he had the amateur career Brian always
or that he got to turn pro. The real sin was that Andy was able to
behind him, move on, take on the next challenge. He could look back
realistic eye and no regrets. And then, to add insult to injury, he had
trust and confidence, something Brian had squandered so many years
The resulting candid, raw take on family
affairs, success, and relationship-building and deconstruction is
recommended for libraries seeking powerful memoirs of growth, healing,
transformation. It will also attract book clubs and psychology groups
for particularly revealing discussion points and insights that come
world of boxing and family decisions and dynamics.
Return to Index
Jennifer Silva Redmond
Honeymoon at Sea is a memoir about
seafaring adventure, and a year spent living in close quarters on a
twenty-six-foot sailboat. From the start, Jennifer Silva Redmond admits
the major attraction to this journey wasn't about the experience of
Pacific Coast, but about the atmosphere it embraced:
"When I recount our first long sea voyage, the
number one question
people ask is: “How did you two get along so well in that tiny space?”
is always the same: If you are in love and like spending a great deal
together then a small boat has room to spare. If you aren’t thrilled to
your partner twenty-four hours a day, then no yacht in the world is big
question is: does she like living on a sailboat. The answer is no. She loves it. And this love permeates a
story of exploration and discovery that heads into previously uncharted
for the author and stories of revelation for her readers as they
sail along with her.
of this journey is that Redmond cultivates a "you are here" feel
throughout, taking the time to incorporate descriptions of the passages
processes of living on a sailboat full-time:
"We barely made it to sunset, but it was worth
staying awake for.
The hills had turned a deep violet and the sky was illuminated with
deep reds, all reflected on dramatic cloud formations that spread
cerulean sky in rose, gold, and hot pink billows and streaks. The water
bay reflected all the colors on its glassy surface, mirroring the
glory. La Paz sunsets are justly famous, and though I am still partial
dawns, sunset would prove to be a highpoint of each day to come."
lone venture: Redmond meets fellow nautical families, couples, and
along the way who each represent another facet of adventurous boating
life: "The next day on the beach at the
Annual La Paz Dinghy Regatta we met another unusual couple. Mike and
Riley were completing a circumnavigation . . . on a 24-
foot Columbia. Yes, they had the same kind of boat as us,
even smaller than ours. And their sailboat had no engine."
would live the sailing dream through the pages of personal experience,
those who would navigate their own treacherous relationship waters to
understand their lives and the lure of travel will find Honeymoon
at Sea especially revealing in its ability to traverse
other cultures while exploring the nautical world's characters and
As she works
fluent in Spanish and in the language of love and independence, Redmond
she is growing into her prowess as a writer and a sailor alike. She
readers along for an unexpected foray into new experiences that will
delight armchair travelers interested in stories of living simpler
experiencing such riches.
attracted to warm stories of love, relationship-building, journeys, and
encounters who find the sailing experience especially inviting will
rich and warm-hearted stories of growth and discovery to be alluring
compelling in Honeymoon at Sea, as
the author's relationships and family expand.
Return to Index
I Love You More…To Suzanne, From Mark
At first, I Love You More…To Suzanne,
From Mark seems yet another memoir about a couple battling
cancer and their
emotional and medical realizations in the face of the disease. Look
understand that this memoir is something more than a personal journey,
documenting the failures of the United States cancer care system from a
perspective few couples can claim—both Mark and his wife were diagnosed
Stage 4 cancer just a few months apart.
One might anticipate that such an event
would lead to shared experiences, but here it also leads to increased
perception about the real approaches and limitations of traditional
treatment options as the couple learns that alternative (and viable)
options had been systematically repressed in the U.S.
They journeyed outside the country in
pursuit of better alternatives. This is their story of that process of
diagnosis, options, realizations, and sordid realities, and it will
information, understanding, and likely not a few surprises to those who
believed the U.S. offered state-of-the-art cancer treatments.
As much as medical and research information
is included, I Love You More…To Suzanne, From Mark is
not meant to be a
definitive guide of advice to other cancer patients, but a chronicle of
journeys and the individual decisions and discoveries that stemmed from
Chapters embrace pilgrimages to Mexico City
and other environs, incorporating spiritual reflections into the
bring these worlds and the two observers to life:
Suzanne, always taking on the pain of all those around her. She was
empathy, and given her heightened spirituality, her heightened
her receptivity to Divine signals, I truly believe that being on that
ground, in that place where miracles had happened, and hearing that
all the power it conveys, and especially sung by children, who she
dearly, she was in fact able to tap into the bottomless well of joy,
that make up the human condition."
The candid tone Mark Mallardi employs also
informs readers how difficult decisions and pursuits were made, and the
alternations that needed to take place in order for him to do so:
as it is for me to make this admission, the reality is that in order
for me to
leave Suzanne that day, and to do so in a way that enabled me to
commit myself mentally, physically, and spiritually to the battle I
with cancer at CHIPSA Hospital, in my mind I had to act as if Suzanne
already passed away. That’s the mind-set I had to adopt in order to
strength to say good-bye to her that day. Nothing less would have
enabled me to
From how alternative cancer treatments are
marginalized and suppressed in this country to how Mark and Suzanne
faith, love, and determination to uncover these alternative pathways, I
You More…To Suzanne, From Mark introduces a spirited and
discussion of cancer politics and science that will lead readers from
of life to reconsider the focuses and priorities of the U.S. medical
Libraries and readers seeking a memoir that
tackles bigger-picture thinking will find I Love You More…To
Mark holds much food for thought, discussion, and
understanding that goes
beyond individual experience and builds a platform for pursuing
options and better understanding treatment logic and illogic.
It should be in any library collection
strong in cancer issues and U.S. medical system pursuits.
Return to Index
There Are No Answers Here, Only Questions
Charles Bruce McIntyre
Tall Clover Publishing
$27.99 Hardcover/$17.27 Paper/$11.49 ebook
There Are No Answers
Only Questions details transitions and life-changing
moments that happened not once, but twice, nearly concurrently, marking
changes in Charles Bruce McIntyre's life that resonate to this day.
One story covers selling the business he'd
built for over thirty years. The other involves his battle with cancer.
transitions introduced cathartic changes which would transform the
his life in different and unexpected ways.
Readers who choose There
Are No Answers Here, Only Questions for its dual themes of
professional and personal transformation will find the memoir also
particular form of philosophical life inspection. This holds insights
thought-provoking moments for anyone on their own journeys through
As McIntyre reveals business campaigns and
approaches that proved successful, he also probes the underlying
objectives of his ventures:
"My campaign had
Visibility and exposure, or what some call “connections,” might be the
misunderstood privilege of all...We won contests, Broker of the Year,
awards. Herb never regretted his decision, and I never forgot the
lesson of not
taking no when there’s a yes if you keep looking."
More than a story of individual achievement
and struggle, McIntyre's reflections on business and personal life
reflect a greater purpose and results:
"My plan was simple:
folks needed an advantage, a leg up, an unleveled playing field that
their favor for a change. “Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day,
him to fish, and he eats for a lifetime,” wrote Lao Tzu, the
Confucius. And we wanted our fishermen successful—we’d stock the pond."
From community-building involvements and
support systems to applying some of these concepts to his own world,
creates a set of questions, responses, and ultimate answers that
meanings of philanthropic thinking, business goals, and life.
Libraries and readers seeking a wide-ranging
memoir that elevates beyond business or personal adversity to reach
community circles and opportunities for growth and transformation will
find There Are No Answers Here, Only Questions
astute, hard-hitting, and unexpectedly inclusive in its move between
and personal pursuits and personal choice and perspective's impact on
circles. Ideally, it also will be profiled in book clubs seeking
hold inspiration, enlightenment, and examples of building and
power into the world.
Return to Index
Mystery & Thrillers
Stolen Time Press
32 Minutes is the third book in the
Freddy Ferguson mystery series,
and follows Freddy's inquiry into the disappearance of corporate
Larsson. From its opening lines, Freddy's first-person inquiry adopts
of an investigator able to take first impressions and run with them:
"My first impression of Leighton Graham? The man
anyone but himself, and he may even have been on the fence about that.
made him perfect for his job."
astute ability to sum up the nature of a man with a few succinct
confirmed by the resulting dialogue which only cements his inherent
the man who has hired him to find his company's executive officer:
“Do you know where he was last seen?” I asked. “And
“Why don’t you ask his wife?” Graham was abrupt and unpleasant.
“Do you want to find this guy?” I asked. “Because you’re not being very helpful.”
“What do you mean, do I want to find him? He’s my CTO.
I’m trying to run a damn company here. I got his wife crying in my ear and his whole tech team worried and distracted.
They’re not getting anything done. How much do you think that costs me each day? Find the guy, okay?”
be relatively simple. That's Freddy's area of expertise, after all.
sense he's at a disadvantage as the case unfolds, because conflicting
and personal special interests dovetail to create a special case in
everyone has part of the answer and yet nobody seems to know the bigger
As in his
Freddy mysteries, Andrew Diamond has crafted a flawed but likeable
whose talents often seem work against him as much as in his favor.
brings a streetwise savvy into his inquiries that lends him a special
knowledge others may not have: "It’s
hard to know when an addict is lying. Some of the ones I’ve known lie
reason at all." But even this personal overlay of expertise
lacking as Freddy is drawn into a story that holds no beginning and
clear-cut ending, either.
placing Freddy in the center of not just a mystery, but the lives of
and survivors who will do anything for and with him in order to satisfy
needs. Freddy's dilemmas evolve on personal and professional levels
not see coming. The story adopts many unpredictable twists and turns
continually test Freddy's astute analytical ability as well as his
survive and solve his latest case.
prior familiarity with Freddy's persona and past in order to find 32 Minutes thoroughly compelling, while
prior fans will relish the opportunity to follow Freddy through another
that tests his own determination to do his best against all odds.
add to their Freddy mystery collections, as well as new readers
an investigation that profiles the investigator as much as his subject,
find 32 Minutes hard-hitting,
involving, and personality-driven. Its review of how circumstances and
individuals try to force Freddy's hand is thoroughly absorbing and
Return to Index
ASIN: B0BTV5QPL8 $5.99
In 192 Days Missing, P.I. Sara Flores holds
an edge over most other detectives and investigators. She is a
special abilities typically lend her unusual perspectives that enhance
ability to problem-solving and find perps—but not in this case.
In fact, the
disappearance of Alaska Brown from a parking lot may prove Sara's
challenge yet, no matter what form she assumes, because Alaska has
anger of a billionaire who holds the purse strings to not only make
vanish, but mask any clues about their demise.
prior familiarity with the introductory Werewolf
for Hire in order to appreciate Sara's background and special
this unfolding mystery. A succinct recap of Sara's world and its
provided in a one-page overview which is easy for prior readers to skip
essential for those new to Sara's circumstances.
nose for trouble indicates that far more is going on here than one
disappearance alone. There's a simmering sense of evil about the entire
that leads her on a dangerous journey. Her werewolf condition doesn't
give her an advantage: "Better
eyesight is not one of my
from my wolf. Just the opposite— I think my vision is worse than it was
abilities is only one conundrum Sara faces as her case keeps getting
more puzzling. Her adversary not only has the money to evade justice,
foot soldiers in place to reinforce and protect his position.
It turns out that Alaska Brown's disappearance is only the tip of the iceberg of adversity that draws Sara ever deeper into truths she (and her readers) doesn't see coming.
to make Sara's condition a part of the action rather than its central
will delight readers who enjoy stories with supernatural elements, but
look for the mystery component to be prominent. She develops a fine
between Sara's skills and the case at hand and keeps evolving in new
directions, creating a character whose moves, logic, and reactions are
becomes an animal—literally. But the fine line drawn by her
forces her to confront other elements of her personality and deductive
abilities which invite readers to become involved in her life.
of humor also traces lines of special interest as Sara candidly
and her reactions to them:
"Mason guided me, unerringly, to the cameras and
then to the
computer running them. Then he told me to do one thing after another,
none of which I understood. But, hey, I do know how to follow
matter what some people might say."
interested in a follow-the-money saga that also follows Sara's heart
ability to dig out the truth will find the mystery and psychological
draw of 192 Days Missing to be
exploration of decisions made for the greater good, romance, and
entanglements are as riveting as its protagonist's struggle with her
and all-too-human reactions and abilities.
Return to Index
She Writes Press
978-1-64742-587-6 $17.95 Paper/$9.95 ebook
the Lies, boss Chet Sutherland is more than a legend in
biotech circles who
has been grooming Will to be BioteKem’s next CEO. He's been
like a father
to Will. So when Will is called on the carpet with accusations of
by Chet, he's flabbergasted. Underlying his concern is the fact that
acting like himself at all.
The truth is that Chet is right, in some
ways. But this involves knowledge nearly impossible for him to have,
Chet's life hangs on a thread hours later, it's up to Will to find out
The story that evolves embraces intrigue and
mounting threats that come from both personal and professional circles
cyberattack pairs with Will's efforts to help Chet's family in the face
Obviously, Chet uncovered some kind of truth
that is haunting and daunting. As Will searches for answers of his own,
finds Chet's course fraught with deadly danger that lies closer to home
Maren Cooper creates a powerful entanglement
of strong personalities and business pursuits as the mystery grows. She
the realistic story of Will's transgressions and his own secrets with
bigger picture challenges of Chet's discoveries and their implications
As BioteKem investigations heat up, readers
are led through a rabbit warren of possibilities that will keep even
avid thriller or mystery reader guessing about outcomes and nefarious
In building the mystery around a
suddenly-imploded close relationship and following outcomes into
arenas, Cooper crafts a business-centered story of intrigue which is
Libraries and readers seeking mysteries
especially powerful in connecting emotional, technological, and
of contention will find Behind the Lies
an intriguing survey of rebuilding rock-solid business and marriage
against all odds.
Return to Index
The Fifth Student provides the sixth book in the Brad Parker and Karen Richmond series, and follows the unexpected web of lies and deceit that unfolds when Professor Brad Parker attempts to help a student accused of cheating, only to find he's opened a can of worms involving murder and bribery.
FBI agent Karen Richmond joins him
once again in pursuing
the truth, which leads to ever more complicated entanglements as the
discovers that what seems a simple case has turned deadly and complex.
The developments between classroom,
test situations, and
rising questions about a student's involvements lead Brad to realize
student's persona may not be what she'd exhibited to him.
Drawn into an investigation of a
mysterious fifth student's
identity, Brad employs his skills as a professor to enhance the
in non-traditional ways:
try digging into these exams.
I think there’s another way to figure out who our fifth student is.”
Conway looked puzzled. “How the hell you gonna do that?”
I gave him a playful wink. “Magic of science.”
When trivial test mistakes lead him to
Brad finds himself mired in a test of his analytical skills as he draws
connections between seemingly disparate errors to arrive at surprising
the average investigator can't begin to uncover.
Geoffrey M. Cooper takes a
step-by-step approach to following
Brad's logic and his special abilities, connecting the dots of a
perhaps no other person could solve.
His detailed descriptions of how these
Karen and Brad's pursuit of the truth creates a compellingly realistic
engrossing readers in a murder mystery that rests not just on
Libraries and readers needn't be
familiar with the prior
Brad and Karen mysteries in order to appreciate the nuances and
approaches of The Fifth Student.
With its surprises,
unexpected news, and Special Agent Karen Richmond's involvement in
bright undergrad student Penny's life and scholarship, The
Fifth Student proves a rich story that highlights its
with revelations readers won't see coming in an academic atmosphere
filled with revelation and revised possibilities for achievement.
Return to Index
Level Best Books
9781685123406 $5.99 Kindle and $16.95 paperback
is a lowly
insurance claims trainee in In$ured to
the Hilt whose working life is not his own. Called on the
carpet by the
vice president of the company, he feels the need for a two-gulp shot
bracing himself for the storm that will inevitably follow from this
than this for what's coming, because a perfect storm emerges from his
with Martin van Droop which both fulfills his long-time passion to
P.I. and tests his resolve over his chosen profession of claims
adjustor as a
poor (but profitable) second choice.
injects humor into Smith's wry observations of his situation and those
him. This is one of the hallmarks of a mystery that both titillates the
imagination and leaves readers chuckling:
"His present to the junior staff had been to let
them rub elbows
with him while they munched green bonsai Christmas tree cookies and
punch that made some of the admins giggly. My elbows had been among
rubbed. Perhaps my elbows were as forgettable as my face."
As it turns
Smith has more affection for intrigue than physical dead bodies: "Yes, it might have worked. If she
hadn’t been dead. Damn. People were dying right and left, and they
determined to involve me in their messy departures. Why couldn’t they
alone to deal with crumpled fenders and sore necks? If I wanted to look
bodies, I’d have become a mortician."
family affairs, work challenges, and personal clauses come to life,
creates a vivid story of insurance, risk, and assessment. These
beyond his capabilities or desires, forcing him to tackle not one, but
of circumstances that feel unlikely and downright impossible.
safety, reputation, and alcohol permeate a story that produces a foggy
affairs in which Smith is continually tested and forced to face various
of obstacles to the truth. His ongoing confrontations with the caustic
his ability to constantly elude both unemployment and death make for a
delightful mystery that romps through whimsy and serious encounters
added value of fun:
"After railing at me for several minutes, she
finally paused and
asked, “Are you alright?” Her tone implied that any condition short of
meant that I was totally responsible for my own actions. Unless I was
better have a damn good excuse for whatever it was she was calling me
progress on either a settlement or an investigation, Smith faces
and personal tragedy unless he can muster up better excuses and resolve.
present a likeable character in a flawed insurance investigator who
meet his own company's expectations of resolve creates a mystery as
psychological tension and attraction as it is intrigue.
story embedded with the seriousness of a failing insurance investigator
inadvertently becomes the suspect in not one, but two murder
will find plenty of intrigue and twists in the tale that keep its
mysteries that excel with multiple layers of possibility will find In$ured to the Hilt a portrait in
uncertainty, redemption, and flawed perceptions, whether it is about
insurance matters, or individuals who always feel they are owed
life ... even when it comes to light that their perceptions are
Return to Index
$26.99 Hardcover/$16.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Mainely Wicked adds to the Mainely series
of mysteries set in Maine
featuring Goff Langdon. Here, he faces a series of missing person cases
seem tied to supernatural influences in the Church of Satan.
he would be treading on such mercurially dangerous paths in his
efforts, but this case holds wide-ranging challenges and influences. He
into a world of human sacrifices, diabolical intentions, and not just
one but a
circle of missing people who have fallen prey to deadly wicked
Liam, who is set to be not just sacrificed, but turned into human stew,
it moves into a chapter where Langdon reflects an interesting touch of
world Maine culture and literature through his endeavors:
"'That one's wicked
good,' the man at the counter said, his heavy Maine accent dripping
word. Langdon was unpacking books from Encircle
Publications. He looked
at the book in his hand. It was Death
Through Destiny’s Door by C. M. Wendelboe. 'We sell a lot
of them,' he
said. Only Mainers would take a word meaning evil, he thought, and turn
the opposite. Just to be contrary."
confronts those with "...an insatiable appetite for human flesh,”
levity sparks throughout the story in a way that will be especially
by anyone with more than a casual familiarity with Maine's wry sense of
humor: “They have an insatiable appetite for
“Holy fucking donut,” Bart said. “You’re saying that some sick fucker is planning on eating Annie Brown on the night of the Blood Supermoon?”
life blends with impossible scenarios of the wicked undercurrents
state, readers receive both a mystery and an unexpected foray into
circles which are always affected by the special community focus that
many Maine environments and, surprisingly, also holds the power to
“Want I should call the office now?” Chabal asked.
“Not yet,” Langdon said. “I’m not sure where to park.”
“Side of the road?” Chabal said sarcastically.
“This is the kind of neighborhood where an old Jeep parked on the side of the road gets ten phone calls to the police.”
wife Chabal move ever deeper into probing the community's underbelly,
effort to solve a mystery turn into a struggle to survive the truth of
has created a rich interplay between Maine atmosphere, mystery, and
interests that evolve to affect Langdon and Chabal's seemingly familiar
Nobody is immune to the possibility of becoming human stew as the story
interested in mysteries built on the platform of a firm sense of place
local flavor, replete with action and surprises that evolve as the
investigators find their trail leads into personal threats and
will find the vivid interactions between perps, detectives, and Maine
to be compelling.
developments and conclusions makes Mainely
Wicked a fine addition to the series as well as a powerful
that will prove especially inviting to anyone familiar with Maine
will find delightful its presence and evolution in the peoples and
of this story.
Return to Index
ASIN: B0CB72TDVX $5.99
a ballet production of Romeo and Juliet could seem so stunningly
compelling. And that reason is death.
a ballerina onstage could have come from natural causes, but detective
O’Connor doesn't think so in Missed Cue. What killed Juliet/Lydia
is all too real, as
a missed cue reveals.
evolves, other missed cues arise. There are many possible perps and
murder—but there is no actual evidence that a murder took place.
missing the cues that would point her in the right direction.
missed cues and puzzles of her own life relationships and choices
failings of the young ballerina as Caitlin's probe of Lydia's life
connections and options that contributed to her demise.
special brand of intrigue lies not just in identifying a perp and
operandi, but in closely examining the methods, perceptions, and impact
investigator's life as she navigates murky waters both onstage and off.
closer to home and lead Caitlin to realize that Lydia's life isn't the
at stake, readers are led into a world of disillusionment, anxiety
and anguish that explores a soap opera series of dramatic connections
still considering that the death may not, in fact, be a homicide.
clean break from her relationships with married men and their confusing
consequences, Caitlin finds her life too closely tied to Lydia's demise
puzzles as she navigates her own treacherous world and comes closer to
solving problems and revealing deadly new ones. The time and attention
Slaughter gives to building Caitlin's personal dilemmas and weaving
her own motives for action and inaction provide fine psychological
"I slept fitfully that night and beat myself up all
morning for my inability to make a clean break from Chet. All I’d had
was I no longer cared in the same way, and I knew he’d leave me alone.
Yet I couldn’t
do it. I felt hopelessly stuck, confused."
between whodunit to how characters fall prey to dangerous forces in
creates an intriguing contrast between worlds which evolves to make
personal dilemmas every bit as compelling and convoluted as her
winning murder mystery that lures genre readers with a case of murder
matters of the heart which may not even be a crime at all.
looking for a different take on intrigue and explorations of the worlds
dancers who live on the edge in more than one way will find Missed Cue a compelling murder mystery
filled with delightful revelations and unexpected relationship results.
Return to Index
Otobong's Gift, the third book in the Griegg/Eastwood
series, combines history with mystery, building an atmosphere of
through family connections and a puzzle that leads from Mississippi
miscarriages of justice in both her family’s past and present time, the
team of investigators move in to set things right.
With the passion and determination that has
carried readers through the first two books, Alana and Sigmund embrace
methods of genealogical research, and investigative clues to
reveal unexpected family secrets on both sides of the Atlantic.
astute development of intrigue within the broader story of family
and the impact of past choices upon present-day decisions and
for a riveting plot. Alana grows into her abilities to not only embrace
but consider them growth opportunities for better understanding her
role and influences in life.
between Sigmund and Alana that was introduced in The
Trap and expanded into an uneasy camaraderie in Zen develops further in Otobong's
Gift, a progression which will
make this story especially attractive to prior readers of Alana's
moving of all is the progressive evolutionary process that builds on
foundations of relationships to continue to expand into new directions.
recaps and builds upon these precedents with an astute eye to drama and
“While the police could capably investigate the
murders,” he said.
“They failed to grasp the link between a World War II era letter and
current day murders. That was the role my investigative team played.
“It was a harrowing ordeal that almost killed my father, and Alana,” Sigmund explained, “but we solved the mystery of what we called the trap and we’ve moved on.”
“We flew here, not knowing if Jett’s death was a crime, but several alarming coincidences make us ready to help in any way we can. We just want to find the truth.”
elements of history, mystery, thriller, and psychological evolution as
character confronts their own past, present, and possible futures, both
together and apart.
will relish the depth and complexity of a story that embraces African
American encounters and culture, moving from the 1800s to modern times
manner that brings spirited revelations to audiences who might think
where the mystery is heading.
that is just one of the delights of this heady story, highly
cozy mystery readers looking for stories that enter uncommon
settings in a search for character understanding, resolution, and
Return to Index
Poison Toe Press
978-0-9972941-9-4 $22.95 Paper/$4.69 ebook
Ordering link: https://www.amazon.com/Arsenal-Deceit-Donald-Levin/dp/0997294191
The Arsenal of Deceit is a story of
intrigue and social inspection
set in Detroit in 1941. It focuses on a cast of characters who
their worlds, from P.I. Elizabeth Waters, who is probing Detroit's
Christian nationalist groups, to Black detective Clarence Brown's
a deadly racist conspiracy and Eva Szabó's mission to uncover the
source of anti-union
seemingly making their own paths through the political and social
Detroit find their worlds intersect in more than professional manners
navigate uncertain (and uncharted) waters of treachery and plots. Their
conclusions will shake the foundations of their personal missions and
as a whole.
story is especially strong in interactions between different characters
players on all sides of the law, contrasting the search for justice
deeper inspection of personal ethics and motivations for actions that
always fall on the side of propriety.
It's no easy
present the concurrent evolution of four different characters; or to
between them with such grace that readers are carried by the momentum
character's charisma and ongoing developments, with little confusion
experienced during these transitions.
special interests fostering social conflict in America are especially
thought-provoking as events mirror modern-day turmoil affecting broad
"Issues of The
Vindicator. The Detroit National Workers League
Newsletter. They call
for immediate impeachment of FDR for throwing “our young American
the BLOODY JEW REVENGE WAR IN EUROPE.”
“What does your father do with all this?” Denny asks.
“He gives it to people so they can distribute it.”
“Where does it come from?”
“A lot of it comes from Germany. A lot comes from the Christian Front, here in America.”
The organization Father Coughlin promotes; they want a white Christian America. The boys who stole guns from Eppinger’s belong to the Christian Front; they took the guns to arm the group."
modern history will find the events and well-researched backdrop of
this story come
to life, spiced not only by the strong character development and
motives and influence, but by the powerful intersection of research
American history which lends a real foundation of truth to matters that
the characters and their readers.
time would the events of the 1940s outlined in The
Arsenal of Deceit prove so compelling to both history buffs
average Americans with little familiarity with the past. Its echoes and
resemblance to present-day scenarios is eerie, offering much food for
interested in novels that promise appeal outside the usual historical
circles will find The Arsenal of Deceit
not only highly recommended for thoughtful readers who like their
spiced with real-world events and questions, but for book clubs
debating the underlying influences directing both political and
circles in past and present American society.
Return to Index
fourth book of
the School of Enlightenment series, Beth Jenkins exhibits both high
hijinks as she balances society's rules with her own free spirit and
oversight of cousin Lady Althea Egerton, who is tired of Beth's ability
flaunt propriety and social mores with equal unconcern.
her sexual attractions and strong identity have been reinforced by the
of Enlightenment's teachings, but once let loose in the world, Beth has
exhibited a nonconformist attitude that challenges her cousin's
“You have likely heard—how do they say it?—I am not
discriminating. I would argue that I am simply more open-minded than
the Ton but still discerning.”
“What do you mean?”
“I do not only enjoy blonds or tall men or large-breasted women.” She winked, and he grinned, feeling his shoulders drop away from his ears.
She continued. “I like many shapes and sizes. In part, because I look beyond the physical, even for a casual encounter. I prefer to spend time with kind, generous, thoughtful people. After all, as you demonstrate here”—she swept her hand from the restraints on the bed to the open trunk—“smarter people offer more interesting ways to be intimate.”
Beth is about to receive quite a different education in the form of the
enticing and comparatively shy Robert Orford, whose attractions to the
are mitigated only by his interest in staying in the background of
affairs and romance, having been bullied in the past.
set him on fire and threaten to consume them both as the story plays
Beth uses her vast network of contacts (both in the Ton and working
help Robert and others, their relationship develops. Her ability to
to Robert's business through networking and matchmaking is yet another
experience for Robert. Her disregard for rules results in different
Beth finds her free spirited ways unexpectedly challenged and changing
of interplays between Beth and Robert and some same-sex encounters
sensual descriptions of physical intimacy that aren't recommended for
readers seeking lessons in propriety alone.
Beth's character with the same powerful, sensual passions and pursuits
previous books and characters' lives, but adds the value of a spirited
woman whose outrageous behaviors may ultimately vanquish the very
that has replaced her search for conquests. Concurrently, Robert, too,
decide if he can overcome his past and stretch beyond his comfort zone
embrace a love and partnership with a young lady so willing to help him
business and in life.
observation permeate Beth's sexual discoveries and add a sense of humor
ribald encounters she experiences: "You can’t say you’re bored
She rolled her eyes at her inner voice."
titillating story of discovery, in which a powerful and proactive
meets her match and must assess whether the price of falling in love is
bowing to convention or maintaining her independence and outrageous
holds barred sex scenes which evolve in the course of a determined and
active young woman's embrace of not just happily-every-after, but
satisfied-for-life will find Beth's
Behavior just as passionately engrossing as the prior School
Enlightenment characters and scenarios.
filled with surprises as Beth's behavior evolves to enter uncharted
Return to Index
Lee Allen Howard
Three First Names
978-1733700948 $19.99 (trade paperback), $4.99 (ebook)
The Covenant Sacrifice is a novel of
horror that covers death,
rebirth, and an ages-old curse that returns to life.
'trigger' moments to this story as it unfolds in disparate,
unpredictable directions, from blood and bullying to addiction, abuse,
occult operations. Readers who are sensitive to these themes may wish
elsewhere; but those able to accept their injection into the plot as
what keeps its developments rich and involving will find The
Covenant Sacrifice a powerful novel of faith, sacrifice, and
"You were brought here, together, for a bigger
reason than finding
a little girl."
return to his rural roots in the town of Annastasic Creek leads to not
personal growth, but new revelations about missing persons and the
mandate of a
defrocked pastor who has gone astray in more than one way.
horror dovetail, Jarod's mission becomes one of not only
redemption and rescue as he and Scott interact, fulfill their
find in each other both promise and threat.
As The Covenant Sacrifice unfolds, it
reveals new possibilities between the "man who never came home" and
he who wants to settle down and start a family, couching personal
and revelations within the larger picture of community involvement,
and gay relationships, and family struggles.
"Who are you living for?" This becomes
question in Jarod's world as he considers alternative possibilities for
life's course, coming to realize that alternate realities exist under
veneer of everyday life.
characters whose interactions reflect social pressures, mores, and
choices, The Covenant Sacrifice
horror component in a strong sense of social inspection. The plot
its characters a newfound vigilance as ancient curses are evoked and
dilemmas unfold from them.
choose The Covenant Sacrifice for
paranormal promise or its social inspections, one thing is certain: its
and thought-provoking scenarios are powerfully rendered attractions.
designed to appeal to a wide audience, surprising those who expect
products with bigger-picture thinking that goes beyond supernatural or
to delve into matters of the human heart and soul.
seeking a story that holds disparate threads of attraction will find The Covenant Sacrifice a winner.
Return to Index
Black Rose Writing
978-1-68513-257-6 $20.95 Paper/$5.99 ebook/$17.46 Audiobook
Lullaby, Tucker and Angela are
gentle, sweet souls who have found in each another a kindred spirit.
blues music talents lure Angela, who contemplates the surprising
scenario of a
connection developing between them:
took my hand as though helping me out of a
luxury limo. I
stood face to face with this shining mystery man I’d met ever so
briefly at the
party of a childhood friend and could only giggle in response to his
two of us would make lousy poker players."
Love is in
from the very beginning ("Tucker
showed me his house with the earnestness of a bighearted lap dog who
to share himself and be loved."), proving it is possible to
love in mere seconds. This is not the end of the story, however—it's
love is not
enough. In Tucker and Angela's case, love drives an examination that
not just around romance, but dances through impossible conundrums,
expectations, and taboos that come to rest on their shoulders.
developments pull Angela into worlds with moral and ethical dilemmas
never closely examined, much less dreamed of.
the chase in her candid probe of a topic many fictional approaches
away from. From issues of medical system corruption that introduce
pain to sufferers to the observation that "heartache is a ravager,"
Lauren creates a powerful series of interplays that open with love and
deftly into forbidden territory and subjects that test the hearts of
and readers alike.
of former soul friend Madeleine in Angela's life, the decisions to
legacy in different ways, and the impact of loving again are all
rendered in a tale of best friends, old and new friends, and the
mourning and recovery. All this is complicated by a medical system that
as much as it heals.
Ideally, Final Lullaby
will be chosen not just by
romance readers who will find the unfolding story departs from
paths to enter thought-provoking realms of social inspection, but by
interested in debating many of its issues.
Libraries and readers will find Final Lullaby a compelling journey into love, healing, and recovery. It operates on different levels, introducing thought-provoking reflections that ultimately demand the reader's engagement on more than just appreciating a romantic interlude and new possibilities of growth.Final Lullaby
Return to Index
978-1-7346399-4-0 $11.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
is a macabre and hilarious novel that intersects the lives of several
and oddly compelling characters. It centers on the current dilemma
former lottery winner who was once framed for murder and aided by a
morticians that included seven-year-old embalming expert Jessica. Fast
five years, and Jessica is now tapping Danny for help.
When the mortuary is
suddenly sold and her
family vanishes, Jessica's return portends more nefarious influences as
reveals her mission to locate her missing parents and get their funeral
force Danny into a form
of payback he never saw coming as he unwillingly gives her refuge for a
only to find he's become entangled in yet another strange dilemma.
As if its plot didn't
moments, Dorian Box's descriptions present satirical and fun
social norms in the year 2000 which are wry, delightfully original
America!” The greeting boomed through a massive sound system erected
post-ceremony celebration, headlined by a classic rock band that had
legitimate hits in the seventies and featured one of the original
few lazy whoops. The graduates lounged in various states of
blankets and chairs scattered across the law school plaza. Many had
interpreted Florida Casual on
the invitations to include swimsuits, although No
Nudity signs spoke to the solemnity of the occasion."
These insights and
with the deadpan wit infecting otherwise-solemn occasions and
lend Funeral Daze a decidedly light
romp through situations of intrigue and investigation:
are the doors
loading and unloading clients. They lead straight into the embalming
room and …
“They changed the lock.”
He almost blurted Great! “That’s too bad,” he said. “Let’s get out of here.”
By now, it should be
apparent that Funeral
Daze is remarkable for its wit,
its sense of discovery and adventure, and its unlikely juxtaposition of
characters that keep their own failures and determination close to
Extortion, drugs, and
murder are normally
not laughing matters. They are here. As Danny enters into the role of
guardian more than willing to let the savvy twelve-year-old Jessica
own affairs, a scheme pulls both of them into a centrifuge of threat
unpredictable disasters that just keep coming.
Dorian Box masterfully
directs the story
into a series of unpredictable and uproarious events that are
ironic, unexpectedly thought-provoking, and always edgy and dark.
Fans of the prior Psycho-Tropics
will find this rollicking sequel
the same acclaim, while newcomers will find this story stands nicely
its heartwarming attractions.
readers looking for a satirical novel centered in modern Florida that
the underbelly of simmering special interests there will find Funeral
packed with memorable moments and satirical criminal encounters of the
Return to Index
The Lost Princess of
Alicante is a
historical novel that moves from
the Caribbean Islands in the 1600s to the modern American Southwest,
The legacy of a ruler's dream of building an enlightened society has
roost in corrupted ideals that moved away from this vision and into a
and social structure that is anything but ideal.
her Aunt Sofía, find themselves mired in choices of the past and their
incarnation in their present-day lives as they navigate the politics
requirements of a newly installed princess who holds little familiarity
her revised role and heritage.
Sofía's wealthy cousin, may have uncovered a truth, but he's shaken
with not just his discovery, but a kingdom's recovery of a leader who
into a new role and faces the fact that a few days with Prince
carefree son Alejandro has resulted in a new legacy that portends her
connections to this strange new world.
with spies, the dangerous Grizzle-Beard, and abuse that transfers
her aunt to greater struggles in her new life injects life and
twists into the story of a young woman who doesn't step into a new role
life, but is pulled and falls into it with few choices.
really restore an ideal and a dream? Should they be called from their
worlds to do so?
many interesting questions in the course of building a novel that rests
only on historical precedents and modern conundrums, but the psyches of
who find themselves mired in a situation they never dreamed of.
death of dreams to portents of the future which emerge in unexpected
social and political confrontations are just as vibrant as the personal
revelations Padilla builds among characters that hold their own special
interests and perceptions of choice and future in hand.
The Lost Princess of
many characters and forces
at work in the evolution of its story. No light read, it will pique the
with shifting relationships that come from arenas of abuse, domination,
political struggle, and personal growth.
seeking historical novels that represent intriguing discoveries that
characters move beyond their personal ambitions to assume bigger roles
will find The Lost Princess of Alicante
filled with discussion points and thought-provoking moments.
Return to Index
Running at Hialeah
Running at Hialeah presents an effort to return home, with perhaps-misguided and certainly unexpected results. Retired New York City bus driver Bernie Buccellato journeys to South Florida after his father's death to reclaim the family home and cast his father's cremated remains at the Hialeah racetrack. Both seem outwardly logical, simple goals, but promises of freedom seldom turn out to be easy (nor is returning home), and so events unfold that prove anything but predictable.
Don Marinelli presents
engrossing tale that is partially based on his own life and fully
adding twists of humor into the reflective process that will bring
recognition and ironic acknowledgement to the reader's face:
had that rare
gift of being able to think on his feet. Ever since reading Tom Sawyer
elementary school, Bernie admired Tom’s ability to get other people to
work. Reading how Tom was able to get kids in his neighborhood to give
small trinkets and treasures for the ‘privilege’ of doing his tedious
sounded very much like the way the wise guys in Brooklyn operated.
difference was that instead of utilizing reverse psychology to convince
they simply threatened to bash in their skulls. The process might have
different, but the result was the same. Alas, times change. Bernie
might have lacked Tom Sawyer’s persuasive skills, but he had something
As the politics
surrounding South Florida
special interests, the Hialeah Racetrack, and Bernie's objectives come
Marinelli creates a satisfying romp through disparate cultural
contrasts as New
York culture meets South Florida and comes up unexpectedly short-handed
strategy and reaction.
Ironic humor permeates
readers not only to absorb the disparities in lives and special
the dramatic and intriguing responses of characters to circumstances
their control or ken:
do you think this
means?” Yolanda asked tenderly.
“Don’t know, really, other than the clock is ticking,” Bernie surmised. “Hopefully, I’ll find out more when I go in today. I imagine everyone’s going to be bummed. Mr. Testone stressed that without those prime winter dates, Hialeah might not be able to make it financially. It might have to close, shut down…shit. Oh, the inhumanity of it all.”
Readers of novels about
South Florida will
want to add Running at Hialeah to
list of inviting stories that are hilarious, culturally inclusive and
reflective, and revealing on more than one level as Yolanda, Bernie,
find their fates tied to Hialeah's finishing line.
It's time for Bernie to
shift matters into
high gear, time for readers to appreciate the race against time and
that evolves from his effort, and time for libraries and book clubs to
place Running at Hialeah on reading
lists as a
top recommendation. It's worthy of reading, laughing, and discussion as
Brooklynite Bernie builds an unexpected new life purpose in "the most
unlikely of places."
Return to Index
Malve S. Burns
Stone Mother may
sound like a fairy-tale,
with its story of a young
girl raised in a German castle, but it's also a work of historical
embraces post-World-War-II history with a psychologically poignant
family psyche, abuse, and survival.
an especially compelling first-person observation from five-year-old
parents are like weather—all around you and constantly changing. They
go at will, are the spring rain and autumn fog, refreshing cold and
heat. They’re the gray days that last forever or star-filled nights
drenching rain. My own mother was both a firebolt and freezing cold,
constantly around me..."
Even at age
Marie has learned to navigate her mother's volatility and explosions.
has yet to learn is how to navigate the larger forces in life that
outside world to their doorstep and prompt further changes after the
defeat the Germans and her changes yet again.
represents both an inward
and outer journey that operates
on many levels. As a story of abuse, family dynamics, and survival
breathes a breath of fresh air into such accounts by placing Marie in
positions as she grows up and confronts other forces in her life.
are the contrasts between the lifestyle and culture Marie has known of
Germany, and the experiences of others, which might as well come from a
land far from Marie's ken:
"Sophie and I had never
been hungry or had to walk
barefoot. Our Germany, the
Federal Republic of
Germany, was a quiet and peaceful land where everyone had food on the
roof over their head, and clothes to wear."
Hitler rose to power through promises and an almost visionary hypnosis
acknowledged Germany's inner psyche and frustrations to how Marie not
survived, but thrived despite family and social buffets, make for
thought-provoking moments that bring the nation and its people to life.
points of view as other characters explore their own evolutionary
reactions to the methods the characters use to confront darknesses of
and promises of the future, Malve S. Burns creates a powerful novel of
healing, and recovery that operates on both a personal and national
Whether seeking fiction about post-German recovery or individual survival of family dynamics, libraries looking for exceptionally vivid, evocative stories that blend the magical perceptions of youth with the staid absorption of adulthood will find Malve S. Burns has created a gem in Stone Mother that ideally will also earn a place on book club reading lists.
Return to Index
capturing the heady feel of those times and this atmosphere with a "you
are here" approach from the very start of the story:
"That year began as
strangely as it ended. It
seemed as if
everyone had contracted a fever, and the real world was blown away.
lived their fantasy. Normal people you saw at the office or the market
their occupations—a few at first, then suddenly many trucking—yes, trucking—down the streets toward the
parks and beaches. Before you could say “free love,” little groups were
up like mushrooms all over Golden Gate Park after a rain."
Arnie Epstein is still working downtown San Francisco in an office, but
beginning to let his hair grow (not a common front for a CPA firm) and
that "The times were a-changing
before my very eyes, and I wanted somehow to be a part of it."
growth of Adler’s Ashram is chronicled in all of its volatility and
Arnie moves from a closed-door world to one with an open-door policy,
endowed with the new name of Gator and begins building a new identity
fully embraces the hippy lifestyle.
wanting to know more about the emotions, perceptions, and experiences
days will find the heady hallucinations, attractions, and misadventures
the evolving 'anything goes' atmosphere of those times, adding in the
sexuality of a young man who delves into relationships that involve
psychic and physical.
the protagonist in a shifting world which supplements the San Francisco
Area culture with a personal observational style that is evocative and
"At that hour of the
morning, when you’re standing
exposed to the
stiff wind off the bay, the streetcar is named Imaginary, and an hour
endless and the relationships evolving and often transitory, but Arnie
in an active embrace of a hippy lifestyle that feels much more
realistic than most
novels that attempt to describe these times in San Francisco.
because Sebastian himself is well-rooted in San Francisco
experiences, and holds the ability to translate these encounters and
logic into the 1960s milieu for a more realistic, candid romp than most
seeking powerful additions to their LGBTQ+ literature that also embrace
flavor and times of hippy San Francisco will welcome the strength of Trippy Hippy's road trips and personal
map of evolution and exploration.
Return to Index
the Southern Cross
Aurion du Preez
Anaphora Literary Press
979-8595602006 $25.00 Paper/$2.99 ebook
aging missionary John
Rice goes missing in Botswana, young American schoolteacher
Benjamin Greene is sent by his church to investigate, only to find
caught in the crossfire of a war that engulfs the southern African
region in Under
the Southern Cross.
is still learning many
things—about the world, his
mission, and navigating the cultural, religious, and political world of
Africa. His interactions and discoveries carry readers into new
he is forced to examine his prejudices, preconceptions, and his own
the process of discovery and investigation:
"Providing aid to underdeveloped countries had a ring of intrigue and significance that Ben had not seen in his personal ministry, or in his upbringing for that matter. He ardently believed in a humanitarian expression of Christian faith, but he didn’t often see it demonstrated in a bold and sacrificial manner."
Ben navigates unfamiliar
territory that tests his
heart and soul, Christian readers will appreciate a journey that
concept and fostering of missionary work as well as the impacts of the
vanishing world of apartheid on Christian endeavors.
juxtaposition of flawed
characters with equally
flawed systems and concepts of justice and salvation makes for not just
engrossing reading, but thought-provoking insights that, of necessity,
a slow consumption by those who will be forced to reconsider their own
and attitudes about missions and the impact of charitable activities.
a harrowing experience
in Momanga that almost claims
Ben's life to political and religious clashes that force special
disparate groups to struggle for survival in a strange new world,
Preez endeavors to capture a complex world's mercurial threads of
change for present-day readers. In this, he more than succeeds; but the
revelations don't come without effort on the part of readers to not
the fictional progression of the novel, but understand its underlying
their own belief systems.
naive young pastor Ben
discovers far more challenges
than he had anticipated from his mandate, readers walk in Ben's shoes
new possibilities from what feels like a series of disasters that can
know you’ll move on to a new life. I know we all once believed we had a
calling, and our lives were led by the Holy Spirit. Then it all fell
different ways for all three of us. But life isn’t over. We just have
believe there’s a life beyond the walls of Castle Rock, and far away
grip of Alexander Van Hemel. Millions of refugees have survived a lot
Southern Cross can and should be marketed as a Christian
pigeonhole it as nothing but would be to do it a grave disservice by
its audience too much.
a powerful survey of the
beliefs and influences of a
bygone era which test the mettle and faith of all sides, Under
the Southern Cross proves a mind-rattling foray into social
and political issues that hold concurrent power with Christian faith
special interests and objectives.
collections, but general-interest
libraries seeking to acquire thought-provoking stories of missionary
political entanglements will find Under
the Southern Cross a delight. It should be recommended, as
well, to book
clubs and reading groups with a special interest in fiction that
and spiritual transformations with a keen eye to questioning the
faith and intention that underlie them.
for your soul,” Alexander said. “And loyalty to the church. You just
keep those screwy liberal ideas out of your head.”
“I was always searching,” Ben said. “I guess our ideas of truth and right were different, yours and mine.”
Return to Index
Thomas D. Holland
Vessels of Wrath
is the third installment
in a series of novels
centering on the investigative efforts of Ray (“Big Ray”) Elmore, who
become the chief of police of the small Arkansas community Split Tree.
encounters arrive in the form of a rough-hewn oral history, which lends
feeling of local lingo authenticity to a riveting story that embraces
his perspective, but characters who reflect their community's
secrets, and personalities.
writes with a focus on authenticity in representing these homespun folk
their experiences. The dialogue may seem daunting, at first, but is in
not just with the atmosphere and setting of the story, but the
discoveries of characters who find themselves mired in conundrums that
individuals don't face:
"Who'd have 'tought dat
man's head, she come off so
Dieu! Da'ting, she roll like da bowlin' ball, Gilbert Gervais thought
himself...Gilbert had no intention of killing the man; certainly not
his head off its stalk like a damn ripe tomato."
to the gentleman losing his head in the opening salvo of the story to
first-person reminiscences from the perspective of Big Ray, who has
home to Split Tree after a brief stint in the Navy, and who has no
ever leaving again, Holland evolves an intriguing community-based
mystery and interpersonal relationships form the crux of a rawly
where events unfold in such a manner that "Which
one you believe depends on your sense of optimism."
applies to conflicting signs also evolves to represent disparate
circumstances that test Big Ray and various community members. These
the Trimbles, whose family heritage and impact involves lessons on "how
be a monster," to strange missing cars that may hold clues to perps and
processes simmering under the community's veneer of odd, homespun
As Big Ray
coincidences and conundrums, his unexpected foray into Locust County
holds the feel of history and the powerful development of fiction.
There is no
Tree, Arkansas, except for these pages. Holland's ability to evolve
and entire town political and social developments against the backdrop
murder mystery that attract, then pulls in readers to a quagmire of
relationship issues, makes for a story far more detailed and compelling
the usual genre read.
fictional overlay, the story reads like the history of a real place and
whose interests don't just dovetail, but clash.
translate to fine tension and powerful characters whose lives and
larger than life, making Vessels of Wrath
highly recommended for newcomers and prior Big Ray fans alike.
collections seeking compelling mysteries that embrace small-town lives
characters will find Vessels of Wrath
just the ticket for thought-provoking reading. It comes packed with
developments and undercurrents of possibility that will keep readers
and thinking to its unexpected conclusion.
Return to Index
Master of the
$29.99 Hardcover/$15.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
Bacon Master of the
Apocalypse is a rich
introduction to the Bacon
Master series that sets the stage for a mouth-watering romp into
and culinary circles.
in humorous food references ("The Icing on the Cake of Fallen
Dreams," "The Mixing Bowl of Divine Intervention") capture the
culinary wizardry that offers unique and creative twists on the epic
genre that will expand its audience into strange arenas, such as
circles and foodies who may never have chosen a fantasy read before.
salvo, Bacon Master of the Apocalypse
injects delicious experiences into its plot: "Rasher
Dilskin shoved an entire cream-filled pastry into his
mouth and savored the explosion of sugary sweetness. No enhancements by
confectioners or muffin mages. Just pure, uncomplicated pleasure."
The lack of
complications is about to be filled in by something not so sweet as
Master Rasher employs his secret to gaining "extra sizzle" to the
events in life which swirl around him to challenge his world and status.
to create richly mouth-watering cenarios of fast-paced action touched
topping of ironic humor makes for a story that is unpredictable and
may be a
superhuman warrior on some levels; but on others he is a somewhat
whose mild aspirations and powers are tapped when monsters invade the
and a bacon-tinged superhero is forced to come to the rescue.
political intrigues which swirl around this unlikely savior are
rendered throughout. Think The Princess
Bride, with its undercurrents of serious action, tempered by
irony of a bacon-infused personality whose bumbling powers work against
another way too often.
successful and a
flawed character, Rasher is called upon to rise above cakes and foodie
to enter a battle he holds little hope of winning as he faces down
Food Court who may yet remove him from the war, and hero finders who
find anyone better to tap.
look for rampant humor in their stories will find it in droves in Bacon Master of the Apocalypse, which
holds the uncommon ability to pair side-splitting chuckles with
thought-provoking insights into the makings of a hero, a war, and a
While Bacon Master of the
likely be chosen for its epic fantasy promise, libraries and readers
for greater literary prowess and themes that promise to expand the
audience from sci-fi to general interest reading will find the book
recommended not just for individual and book club pursuit, but possibly
expansion. Its ribald humor and world-romping encounters are vivid,
presented, and flavored with all the attraction of culinary art and
Return to Index
Inclusive Leader: Transform Your Workplace (and the World) by Valuing
Differences Within explores the concept of 'boldly
inclusive' leadership, crafting
an invitation to leaders (and would-be leaders) to reformulate the
directing others through a variety of self-examinations and pathways
Minette Norman admits, follow no singular blueprint of success.
heart of this message lies in its
encouragement of leaders interested in fostering inclusion in new ways.
varied paths to success lie, themselves, in disparate opportunities
traditional leadership approaches usually miss, from adopting new
on truly listening to others to fostering the kinds of self-awareness
don't consider empathy and compassion to be business liabilities.
the various incarnations of inclusive leadership, she peppers her
case history examples. These both personalize the efforts and
own diversity of approaches, solutions, and revelations.
Inclusive Leader is a "put your money where your mouth is"
of book. Plenty of books and leaders parrot the ideal of inclusion, but
few guidelines to define this concept and even fewer roadmaps on how to
achieve it. Norman tackles both in a vivid challenge to the status quo
processes of corporate leadership that too often thwart their own
ambitions and altruism.
thought-provoking are the considerations and examples of unconscious
the workplace, which every leader needs to consider and acknowledge:
"I witnessed a blatant
example of unconscious bias
at one of the
software companies where I worked. In the software industry, one of the
highly respected and coveted titles is software architect. The software
architects are expert software developers who take on a role beyond
code—they design complex systems and often act as the primary
contact with the business and clients, so they are both a software
business leader. While the number of female software developers in the
made up only about a quarter of the total developers, the number of
software architects was abysmally lower. I became painfully aware of
first time I attended a gathering of all the software architects and
woman in a room of about a hundred men. This was a clear example of
bias at work—the women software developers were being overlooked as
and penetrating exploration of
critical DEI issues makes this a book that not only belongs
any serious business literature collection, but also should spark spirited dialogues on
diversity and inclusion in corporate boardrooms and in business and
book clubs and groups.
one to repose on
a library shelf until its lending popularity is spent, The Boldly Inclusive Leader deserves and requires high-profile exposure to
a wide audience who would take the first steps towards empowerment and
enlightenment in the process of managing, directing, and encouraging
and workers to be all they can be, regardless of gender, race, age, or
Return to Index
The Cassandra Curse
follows twin Augusta Delaney as she traverses her life with newfound
realizations about her latent abilities and their impact on everyone
Augusta is a portrait
painter. When her
abilities change to produce pictures that reflect a person's soul after
attack changes her life, she is compelled (both by her new realizations
disappearance of her twin) to seek answers for not just her revised
abilities, but the questions that they bring.
Desperate to uncover
the secrets that reside
just beyond her perception of reality and her newfound talents, Augusta
to understand that a man in whom she has begun to place her love and
be the force that has influenced her transformation and now threatens
Sallie Bissell creates
a compelling story that
centers on dreams, recovered memories, and truths that Augusta is able
unlock in various ways. Love can all too quickly "shrivel into hate,"
as Augusta discovers when she 'reads' her lover, only to find truths
quite wanted to know.
Does she harbor a
power, a curse, or a
Bissell's ability to
unlock key moments of
realization and transformation as Augusta navigates a vastly changed
after an attack creates an engrossing story of intrigue and
discovery. The balance between love, hate, and powerful new
the world is tempered by a mystery which draws Augusta and her readers
milieu marked by new opportunities and concurrent dangers.
From murder and
kidnappings to power plays,
the tension is nicely developed and unpredictable:
felt as if I were
last speaker of a dying language, understood by nobody but me. Kirk
“Look, I know how badly you want to find out what happened to your
That’s totally normal. Everybody needs to know the why of the shitty
that happen to them. But you’re chasing a ghost, something drawn from
imagination.” He kissed my palm, as if to convince me further. “For the
time, Gus. Give this up. Cartoon characters don’t jump off the page and
ailing art professors murdered.”
Libraries and readers
interested in an
intriguing first-person story of discovery and survival will find The Cassandra Curse especially astute in
its cat-and-mouse game between disparate forces that hold game-changing
not just on personal lives, but everything and everyone involved.
Return to Index
Cyborg's Crusade features
unusual format in a six-book series of novels designed to mimic a
series. It consists of some seventeen episodes following the adventures
ordinary man transported to extraordinary circumstances involving
angels, and a guardian overseer who may not bring him the support he
Book 1, James Hunter mysteriously teleports to another universe, where
himself in the country of Nirnivia, which is embroiled in a cold war
another country called Ostark. The people in this new world hate him
unknown reason. Luckily, a winged woman named Rose helps him adapt.
Hunter was just an average man on his
way to a date. But something extraordinary changes the trajectory of
when he's teleported to another world and must navigate the land of
whose inhabitants are familiar with humans, but don't especially like
survived through honest work, although he hated his job. He's long felt
failure. Even though his successes were many, these were small
that didn't meet the bigger-picture expectations others had for him.
Is it possible to disappoint an angel? If so, James believes he's well on the path to failing her expectations of him, too. With expanded choices come added responsibilities he's not sure he's prepared to face.
Benoit Lanteigne injects the first-person thoughts of James into the story line, which leads to better understanding and deeper reflections as the adventure unfolds.
perspective, the religious dilemmas that evolve, and her role as
charges others with not harming James, makes for an intriguing
operates on both spiritual and psychological levels.
find a story that moves through monsters and Scripture alike,
reincarnation and priestesses with prophets and angels who are anything
elements (and the length of the episodes) combine to create a series of
multifaceted, complex stories of an extraordinary journey that one man
undertakes. Soldier Janice Ricdeau and a cast of supporting characters
hold their own special interests and influences, adding depth to the
Book 2 ups
stakes as the president of Ostark, the titular cyborg, contacts James
him he can’t trust Rose. This causes major panic, as it implies a
breach for the military complex that both James and Rose live in for
safety. This book releases in November of 2023.
In Book 3, the cyborg contacts James again about how Rose is lying to him. This leads James to investigate his benefactor, with questionable results. This tale releases in January of 2024.
Book 4 sees Nirnivia preparing a secret mission to assassinate the cyborg. Chances of success are low—survival, even less so. Readers will learn more on the book's release in June of 2024.
Book 5, the cyborg
reveals his real identity to James. This sparks a devastating chain of
leading to a dangerous choice by Rose. Book 5 releases in January of
Finally, Book 6 explores the consequences of Rose’s decision and serves as a conclusion to previous events while also hinting at possible future stories. It releases in 2025.
It's hard to
neatly peg the audience for The Cyborg's Crusade. Elements
investigation, wry irony, decisions and their consequences, and
human connections with the earth create a multifaceted story that will
to sci-fi, fiction, and literary readers alike with a format and
is at once complex and unpredictable.
into this tale of truth, illusions, connections, and adversity will
Cyborg's Crusade a thought-provoking episodic novel that
mini-series scenes with different characters, and then links them all
unexpected, enlightening ways.
transformation and confrontation will appeal to any thinking audience
interested in tales that hold compelling structures and unusual,
characters whose lives are transformed. The Cyborg's Crusade is
especially highly recommended for metaphysical and spiritual readers,
find its premises compelling.
Return to Index
As the story opens, Sim
has shot to death
his wife and young daughter two weeks earlier. He's no murderer,
however, but a
compassionate father and husband who has saved them agony from a
disease which has killed off most of the world.
Yes, he's robbed them
of life—but what kind
of life was it destined to be? When young Elizabeth appears in his
at just the right moment, her redemption seeming a salve for his sins.
Is Sim a
coward for not following through on the suicide pact with his wife, or
saved himself for a higher purpose?
As T.A. Styles unfolds
the events in The
Fortress, a sense of fate, survival
tactics, and redemption permeates this now-lonely man's life, helping
navigate a strange new world post-pandemic.
The rise of such
post-virus survival novels
since COVID has been prominent, but what sets The
Fortress apart from others is its story of how Sim becomes
involved in building a bastion of survival against all odds. He
directs a band of orphans who learn the rudiments of hunting,
confronting man and nature through his guidance.
Rare moments of ironic
humor pepper a story
about fate and survival that personalize these orphans and their new
lives, but it's the world-rebuilding focus, which juxtaposes different
survivors with confrontations that stem from a fortress of promise and
that makes The Fortress stand out
from the crowd.
Styles incorporates a
sense of building not
just safety, but family from seemingly disparate influences as the tale
evolves. Life goes on despite its seeming end, and despite the fate
many of the
characters face in their efforts to salvage the remnants of
passages about growing new
connections and who really saves whom in the struggle for reinventing
humanity provide fodder for book club discussion, making The
Fortress a recommendation for reading groups interested in
comparing the events and perspectives of end-of-the-world scenarios
new beginnings and powerfully compelling characters a cut above the
Libraries and readers
dystopian stories that embrace bigger-picture thinking about the
living or dying will find The Fortress
hard to put down, action-packed, and astute in its contrast between
types of survivors of all ages, and their choices.
Return to Index
2: Works of Art
C.J.S. Hayward Publications
$2.99 Kindle, $12.24 Paperback, $20.24 Hardcover
intersection of science, spiritual thinking, and technology receives an
uncommon and powerful focus in Hidden
Price Tags V. 2: Works of Art, which operates as both a
supplement to his
prior treatises on technology and spiritual thinking and a unique
elements of Orthodox Christian works and an analysis of technology's
spiritual thinking in the world.
builds a case
for caution and outright abstinence as the ever-increasing list of new
affecting daily lives promises not only revised visions of reality, but
on spiritual thought and choices. This, in turn, reflects a more
approach to choosing and employing technology's assets based on its
long-ranging impact rather than just its artificial allure.
"'What is good for us as
human beings?' This in
'What use and abstention from technology is good for us as human
question drives this whole series. I do not write to reason you into
Orthodox, but I would be mistreating you to use anything less than the
resources I know to answer the challenges of technology and using
without burning yourself."
wide-ranging, freestyle approach to his subject, injecting analysis of
disparate works as Damon Knight's thought-provoking short story "To
Man" and Douglas Adams's "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
These readings are linked with key facets of technological choice and
perception, with personal reflection and group debate encouraged
questions that promote readers to link their literary pursuits with
reflections on choices in technological employment (or deployment, as
would juxtapose subjects ranging from Louis Carroll to vaccines,
Biblical scholarship. Few, also would tackle the wider-ranging
Christian Orthodoxy to matters of public health, mental acuity, and the
side of technological developments.
critique the wide-ranging nature of Hayward's connections here, indeed,
ability to enlighten, educate, and provoke discussion and debate is one
book and the series' strengths. It examines a seemingly-disparate
artistic and literary works as they relate to issues of choice,
pursuits, and ultimate impact.
application of Hayward's rambling and revealing discourse will be to
debates among younger generations who view technology as a given part
lives without fully understanding the wider-ranging impact of their
this, Hayward offers particularly thought-provoking food for thought:
"Technology has its uses,
but when technology is a
drone, noise in
the background that prevents silence from getting too uncomfortable,
then it is
a spiritual problem, a tool to medicate experience. And there are some
technologies, like video games, that exist
to medicate experience."
The title Hidden Price
Tags comes with a caution:
entering the book's title on Amazon and other places results in too
for similar-sounding 'price tag' guides. Those interested in Hayward's
book would do well to utilize the ordering link to go directly to his
and book groups either familiar with Hayward's previous writings or
in works that are heady, revealing, potentially controversial, and
Eastern Orthodoxy's connections to modern life will want to include Hidden Price Tags V. 2: Works of Art in
their collections and on their reading lists.
creative connections between Orthodoxy, modern thinking and beliefs,
underlying spiritual connections makes it a standout of vast importance
Return to Index
The Joy of
David & Susan Schwartz
Hot Dog Press, LLC
978-1-959-50500-6 $35.00 Hardcover
The Joy of Costco: A
Treasure Hunt from A to Z romps
warehouses around the world, and is written by a couple who has visited
200 of Costco's 800+ warehouses.
survey to take the form of a travelogue and consumer manual, but the
utilize an A-Z format to cover everything from the demise of Costco's
relationship with American Express to the benefits of buying hearing
Costco (which involve more than a favorable price, and outlines
maintenance services), the history of Costco's Kirkland brand and
items, and how Costco maintains food safety in its meat departments.
Each item on
list receives intriguing coverage, facts, and history that documents
of Costco's operations, from its product lines and company structure to
maintains and supports its image and transactions.
lively nature of the narrative is supported by boxed sidebars of
succinct but precise descriptions, and operational facts:
"Costco has a fleet of
some 5,300 trailers and 700
with 1,600 drivers. All the vehicles are monitored in real time by
depot control systems that track fuel usage and other issues. Safety is
paramount: drivers are not allowed on the road in dangerous weather or
draw of this book will be to Costco fans and customers, its wealth of
insights will also be intriguing to business readers interested in the
store's background, development, and methods.
find the celebratory nature of The Joy of
Costco to be attractive, with its structure and visuals
lending to an
unexpectedly easy-to-read title that will appeal on different levels of
information and entertainment. For
Costco superfans it will make an ideal gift.
need not have a Costco membership card in order to imbibe. All that's
is a basic interest in the company's processes and in the bigger
inventory control, product acquisition, and operating a retail chain
Return to Index
Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs
Spoon Creek Press
Biographies, Autobiographies, and
Memoirs is written by a retired
librarian with a lifetime of making nonfiction recommendations to her
Her first reference book, Library Lin’s Curated Collection of Superlative Nonfiction, did
biographies or memoirs solely because this subject would have made the
reference far too weighty. Clearly, these categories deserved a book of
own. And here it is.
the difference between a biography, autobiography, and memoir in her
introduction, Linda Maxie chooses a theme subject listing to organize
into these categories. This allows readers to choose books based on
interests, whether ethnic group experience, explorers or activists,
and immigrant experiences, or social, political, or artistic figures.
to note that these category choices, besides adeptly organizing and
their subjects, represent the bulk of biographical and memoir topics,
readers who choose by themes to easily access other writings which
major contributions in these areas.
includes a "collective biography" at the end of some of these
chapters—listings of associated books that provide "brief narratives of
or more people's lives."
noted that these works are largely contemporary in nature. While some
1970s and 80s are included in the listings, the bulk of writings are
1990s and 2000s. This approach to organizing and promoting modern
especially appeal to audiences looking not for historic works already
featured, but those which stand out in the modern scheme of new books.
synopses themselves, Maxie creates detailed yet succinct descriptions
embrace the intention, presentation, and importance of each book in its
category. One good example of such a descriptor appears in the chapter
Indigenous Peoples for Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert's book The
Sky: Words of a Yanomami Shaman.
Albert is a
close friend of Brazilian Davi
Kopenawa, a shaman and spokesperson for the Yanomami. Albert helps his
tell the story of his childhood, his initiation as a shaman, and his
experiences with cultural outsiders like government workers,
cattle ranchers. The devastation his people have endured led him to
global activist for them. In his pursuit of justice, he has traveled
to show people how industrialized society and its greed have been
the planet. Then, through his own culture and experience, he tries to
about the effort involved in defining and selecting categories and
books to be
included or excluded from them. Her introduction holds almost as much
thought about this process of creating a reference list as the rest of
holds important keys for identifying significant works in each subject:
mixtures of good and bad. I decided
early on that judging these people was not my role. Some have recently
themselves on the wrong side of public opinion. Rather than classify
based on mistakes, I placed them under what they are most known for.
lawbreakers and people who harmed or killed many, I put them in “Law
Prison System.” And not everyone in that chapter qualifies as a
Some are there simply because a big part of their story involves arrest
incarceration. In other words, my chapters and my groupings are not
I’m only partially satisfied with them myself."
result is a powerful,
useful reference that lends as
much to leisure browsing through its significant descriptors as it does
primary purpose—to point out the rich wellsprings of works that might
be missed in the sea of biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs being
reading groups, and any reader interested in
biographical and autobiographical productions needs to have this book
in their collections, but on prominent display. It can be used as a
for identifying and choosing significant, thought-provoking writings
be unfamiliar to them.
Return to Index
Wisdom of a
HarperCollins Publishers India
9789356991350 $14.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook
'new age' was a term, Indian wisdom was largely acknowledged in Western
circles, or Paramahansa Yogananda was known to the world, the
publication of Autobiography of a Yogi
life and evolution as a spiritual thinker and young man. Over the
book became a worldwide classic filled with the monk's
challenging thoughts that brought the ancient lessons of karma, yoga,
meditation to Western minds.
Wisdom of a Yogi
is a much-needed book
that re-envisions the
lessons in Autobiography for a
audience. It comes from an unlikely source—a technologist and
incorporates internet and video game technology's modern focuses into
art of synthesizing and interpreting the Yoganada's fourteen lessons
miracles in the Himalayas and acts of psychic and physical
to modern technology-laden (but spiritual) readers?
spiritual lessons reached into the hearts and minds of generations, so
Virk's Wisdom of a Yogi presents
reinterpreted lessons in a manner that modern audiences can more
understand and apply to their lives.
allow greater access to the basic underlying concepts of the original
one might think, with chapter headings as varied as "Go Out of Your Way
For ... Pilgrimages" and "The World is Like a Movie, a Dream..."
and absorbing many of these new perspectives are links between
and current thinking:
will say adapting yoga to
is not really yoga, if you use Patanjali's definition, then any
helps to smooth out the whirlpools in the river of consciousness is a
yoga. And there is no greater authority than that ancient sage.
himself wrote: 'Anyone who practices a scientific technique for divine
realization is a yogi.'"
are analyses that could only come from a writer such as Virk, the
Play Labs at MIT, who here applies his technology focus to matters of
enlightenment and intention. Why consider this overlay to be so
Because, as Virk points out, "Assuming we develop some of those
technologies, which are the crux of what's now called the Metaverse,
likely we will also develop a 'full immersion' mode for ourselves
within a few
view a new age spiritual focus that doesn't necessarily eschew
reconsiders its place in the larger scheme of humanity's evolutionary
Virk synthesizes from the esteemed Swami's original reinterprets his
advice, taking his
classic stories and
examples and providing new focus by adding stories of modern seekers,
yoga, or meditation have to do with video games, social media, and
Plenty, as Virk points out in vivid chapters that will appeal to a new
generation of readers and thinkers.
have prior familiarity with Autobiography
of a Yogi (although this is preferable as either a preface
stronger appreciation for Virk's approach, or as an adjunct to remind
fans of the importance of staying relevant to modern times and
spiritual thinkers seeking a path to new interpretations of traditional
wisdom would do well to consider Wisdom
of a Yogi a mainstay in their collections. The book
reinterprets the original tales and lessons in a manner that promises
accessibility and discussion to seekers of all ages.
Return to Index
Zen and the Art of
many books have been written about the
college experience that one might wonder at the need for yet another,
and the Art of Navigating College: An Inquiry into the True Nature of
and the Power of Self-Discovery
is as much an art form as it is a guide to higher education, and
deserves acclaim for its unusual approach as well as its many insights.
foundation of this
survey lies in its teachings on
how to look beyond typical and ordinary perceptions and pursuits of
education to consider the hidden hazards and opportunities of
foreign realm like college.
bigger picture involves
learning how to strategize,
network, and self-promote, showing students how to consider others and
their abilities and potential in a revised light.
Peter Klein's focus on
outcome and potential of college expands his subject beyond the usual
realm and into areas of fostering achievement, discovery, and a life
that will carry new adults through and past their college years with
that apply equally well to life.
may be surprised to learn that Zen
and the Art of Navigating College isn't a catch-all promotion for higher learning.
Klein points out that
major problems are inherent in the pursuit of something different. He
out the signs of these portending obstacles, as well as strategies for
avoiding or learning from them.
typically not reviewed in books for
the college-bound such as this, but they are ever-present, and are one
many ways a college education can unwittingly go awry: "Another
danger to be aware of is that higher education is often
laced with indoctrination. Some indoctrination is supplied under the
of the institution, while other forms of indoctrination are propagated
fellow students and others affiliated with the university, though what
offering may not be sanctioned by the college."
with special knowledge of the
opportunities and dangers of such pursuits, readers of all ages will
and the Art of Navigating College covers not just educational quandaries, but
psychological, and spiritual tests inherent in the college milieu, yet
presented to students as other areas to be aware of.
result is a different
kind of college educational
overview that should be a graduation present to any college-bound
would take these lessons and run with them into life.
that lend especially well to
college-bound book discussion groups should make Zen
and the Art of Navigating College a mainstay.
Return to Index
Justin Doyle Publishing
979-8-9860299-2-4 $4.99 ebook
the Star Marked fantasy adventure for teens is recommended for those
absorbed and enjoyed the prior volumes, and brings to a conclusion the
efforts of Darynn, Fyra, and Kaylaa to navigate through a war and save
starving Olan-Har while tying up the loose ends of their connections to
impact on the world.
his commander to infiltrate enemy ranks in an effort to confront the
turn the tide against them, as well as tackling the rising magical
that simmer in his psyche.
by a loyal band of friends, Darynn comes to question who and what he is
fighting for even as he struggles with the dual mission of preserving
secrets of the gods, which need to get into the right hands in order to
potential and prove a benefit.
Just as in
books, Justin Doyle creates a winning, action-packed adventure that
hearts and minds as much as magic and loyalties. Many close calls test
characters as they each strive to become something greater than their
and move beyond their seemingly set fates in life.
balance, momentum, and salvation continues as bloody confrontations vie
efforts each character makes to support their lives, mission, and one
magical encounters and stories of confrontation and realization will
the fast pace and action in Betrayal of
Hope, but it's the thought-provoking moments, which carry the
to their greatest confrontation yet, which make this concluding volume
trilogy such an attraction.
are the twists on ideas of redemption, torture, and revenge which
thought-provoking passages about survival and realization:
"I finally realized how
this torture chamber
worked, and why a
Vastirian had never been in it. It took all of the consequences of my
struck me with them at once. Pain from wounds I never had after healing
Unleashing the bloodthirsty demon inside. The guilt and remorse I felt
killing all of those people in the embargo and since."
compelling, fiery conclusion to the series. It is very highly
libraries and readers who found Justin Doyle's prior books powerful,
will find that Betrayal of Hope
the closing touches on a story that sizzles with entertainment, magic,
revised sense of home and loyalty.
Return to Index
CHILDREN, A WORD PLEASE!
A WORD PLEASE!
is a rhyming picture book emphasizing that words can change the world,
informs the very young that words can do all kinds of good in the
"bringing comfort on a sad day" to spreading love.
Conversely, words can
spread discord and
hate, if not chosen and utilized properly.
employs vivid, colorful illustration examples of kids interacting with
world to support her contentions about words, showing how even kids can
lives by listening to others' words as well as using their own voices
supportive word use and those which harm receive equal emphasis: "Others cut worse than a knife. These
words are remembered for the rest of your life."
kids by example, showing them how words can not only harm or support
but boomerang back to do the same to oneself.
read-aloud parents who would show kids the power of word choices have
better picks than CHILDREN,
A WORD PLEASE! to encourage realizations about word power
and how it works in daily life. Its uplifting, thought-provoking
to be heard by many who choose this book. Ideally, the book will also
as an interactive discussion point in children's reading groups
child empowerment and empathy.
Return to Index
ForeverChild: A Novel
of the Future
979-8-218-13094-7 $14.95 Paper/$4.95 ebook
Future will reach young adult sci-fi fans with its
compelling saga of the haves and the have-nots in 2315. Endless youth
available for those lucky enough to qualify, but this means that others
fall short of this ideal life. Trouble seems inevitable.
And so these 'forever
children' are isolated
from the majority of others who must live out regular lifespans in the
outside of the hives.
two very different children in this futuristic world who face
choices and events. Their decision to trade places to experience
lives of both opportunity and angst will not only change their futures,
affect the set protocols and processes of their society.
Mark Lavine's story
thought-provoking series of dilemmas about the moral and ethical
inherent in both worlds. Young adults will be especially intrigued by
questions which the characters confront in the course of their
experiment to test their boundaries and lives: "How
does it feel to grow again, Kianno, like the rest of us? How does it feel to
finally leave your childhood behind?"
From kidnapping and a
conversion process to
new revelations that Kianno and Seelin navigate through increasing
Lavine paints a powerful story of a futuristic world whose foundations
coming apart in more than one way.
As politics and
violence collide, Kianno and
Seelin prove to be on the cusp of world-changing decisions that test
The special value of ForeverChild
lies in its strong character developments, its
juxtaposition of bigger life questions that affect the entire social
and the action embedded into Kianno and Seelin's lives and choices.
Lavine creates enough
detail and insights to
produce an especially thought-provoking story of a future world
both destruction and rebirth. This lends itself especially well to
and book club discussion, making ForeverChild
a top recommendation for collections seeking more depth and debate
opportunities from their sci-fi acquisitions than most books offer to
Return to Index
Kimberly Behre Kenna
Black Rose Writing
978-1-68513-243-9 $16.95 paper/$4.95 ebook
Jett Jamison and the
presents another book in the
preteen Brave Girls Collection, juxtaposing the social issue of banned
with a personal secret that both lead Jett to tap her inner resources
all kinds of secrets to the world around her. This is something she has
lines, first-person Jett reflects on a daring act that will redefine
reader's ideas (in this case, of graffiti):
"Dad calls it a criminal
act. I argue that if done
it’s more like speaking out. I looked it up. The definition of
includes the word malicious. I am not malicious. I do what I do to
myself of where I’ve been and where I’m going."
Jett is not
reminding herself. She's reminding the world of its hidden
by exposing these varied secrets, she is both applauded and challenged
own choices and actions.
How long can
brave and defiant, even if making small gestures of resistance? Jett
know. What she does know is that her restroom refuge is not only
likely can't continue. Her ability to candidly self-assess her options
one of the strengths of her story: "I’ve
got to quit running away to this restroom. But, oh how the silence in
calms my heart right back to where it belongs."
crafts a delicate dance between hiding and exposing Jett's experiences.
unusual fears Jett harbors, such as that of jet noise ("It’s
a big joke that Jett hates jets. Their
noise is almost as bad as the voices."), is only the overt
what simmers beneath the surface.
coalesce around Jett, from classmates and friends to adults, her growth
is outlined from both internal and external forces that inject wisdom
reflection into her emotional processing:
“Look, all I’m saying is
that being afraid doesn’t
mean you’re abnormal
or that you need to be fixed. Once you welcome fear into the rest of
family of emotions, you’ll feel more peace inside yourself.”
What is the
connection between banned books and hidden emotions? “Fiction
reveals truth that reality obscures.”
courage and supportive connections force her to confront "bad
stuff bubbling away deep down inside of me," Jett
walks into the strength of a survivor who reflects her struggles into
bigger-picture actions rather than simply hiding.
seeking exceptional pre-teen fiction that focuses on abuse, growth,
and resources for healing trauma that operate and influence on
will find Jett Jamison and the Secret
Storm powerfully written and compellingly presented.
won't just repose on library shelves, but will assume a more active
book clubs and tween discussion groups focused on these subjects and on
that speak of the unspeakable: childhood sexual abuse and how
Return to Index
Scott Ravede Books
Kid's Word Cookbook, Book 2
stories, artwork, and a
sense of fun to explain the quirks and puzzles of the English language
manner kids can not only easily understand, but will find compellingly
entertaining. This approach to language takes the form of wordplay
"dishes" that highlight contrasts in words such as "ties,"
which receives a lilting rhyme and equally captivating illustrations by
Ravede as it considers:
Tying two ties.
Tying two ties tightly.
Tying two ties too tightly.
Trying to tie two ties too tightly.
Trying to tie two ties too tightly takes two tries to tie two ties."
the entertainment looks like a formula for the kitchen, but reads like
for better understanding and employing the English language. In the
example, "Teas and Ties and Tees and Thais," the 'ingredients' are
tied to Language Elements that further emphasize English:
Tied two too
To by buy
for successfully understanding elements of English is especially highly
recommended for home schooling parents who would explain and explore
incongruities and intrigue of the English language, as well as for
seeking to teach through a sense of fun adventure.
the foundation of learning encourage kids to seek out and identify the
different forms of wordplay in each narrative.
Tied to the
successful wordplay 'cookbook', Kid's
Word Cookbook, Book 2 represents yet another building block
in literacy for
young readers and ESL students who struggle with the English language's
alliterations, and puzzles of linguistic description.
Return to Index
Scott Ravede Books
978-1-7348671-8-3 $17.99 Hardcover/$10.99 Paper
stories, a glossary of literary terms, and a sense of adventure mark
book in this series of kids' wordplay cookbooks, furthering Scott
unique approach to teaching the difficult English language in a more
manner than most books.
and parents consider this third addition to the series? Scott Ravede
that "The books ascend in level of
sophistication as you progress through the series. So, beginning
want to start with Book 1 and go in order."
makes each book uniquely rich in its building block approach to
language, but their additional attraction lies in the diversity of
created to emphasize, explain, and entertain young readers about the
language's attractions and incongruities.
homonyms, and homophones receive rich examples in 'Too Many Toucans,'
Leaves,' and more. The rhymes that open each story are intriguingly
original: "If a left-leaning tree/has only
on the left,/will the tree go upright/when the leaves have all left?"
evolve a better understanding of language, which will lend particularly
adult/child interactive experiences as the engaging tales unfold,
enhanced by Rivka
Ravede's equally whimsical, fun illustrations.
who work with kids will find the concluding questions reinforce the
while the glossary of terms and insights on language offer formulas for
understanding the basic elements of language.
parents and educators will want to have this book (and its companions)
personal or school lending libraries, ideally the Kid's Word cookbooks
receive more of an interactive assignment as classrooms and reading
absorb a silly/serious discussion of English's words and ironic results.
It's rare to
'fun' and 'learning English' in the same descriptor, but the wordplay
whimsy of Kid's Word Cookbook, Book 3 achieves
both with a sense of wonder and serious inspection that will attract a
audience and will even educate into adult circles.
Return to Index
Protecting the Forest
978-0999564066 $10.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Protecting the Forest
is the second book in the
Christian children's adventure series The Wesley Club Adventures,
Florence's Journey: Proving Something).
It follows events in the late 1950s as young Montana MacCarthy fosters
special appreciation of God and nature as part of an adventure club
with three rules of conduct: "First,
do no harm. Second, do all the good you can; and Third, do all you can
close to God."
young people, but Montana and the five other kids from confirmation
strive to make the most of their lives and make the most positive
impact in the
world by tackling mysteries and situations most adults would either
church outings, and community ties might not seem exciting topics for a
children's book, but Victor Hess brings the kids and their lives to
reality, presenting their unique abilities, their upbringing and
and the mysteries that permeate their world.
the natural world that surrounds them and the dilemmas involving its
interactions with the community brings the added value of an
all of God's creatures into the fold of an adventure that rests on
mysteries and conundrums that test the kids' spiritual and
mount in a
mystery that involves beavers, rabbits, and other creatures, the young
investigators and their followers come to new realizations about their
missing eagles, and the forces that work within and against the
looking for a special brand of Christian fiction for young people that
adventure with experiences that lead the young characters to become
Agents on a new mission will find the blend of intrigue and spiritual
mystery issues in Montana's Mission:
Protecting the Forest an outstanding read. It furthers the
members' connections to each other and the human and natural
Return to Index
You’re Crazy is an
unusual coming-of-age novel about sixteen-year-old Ashlee
particular (and peculiar) form of mental illness translates to a belief
she can see the future.
Ashlee is on
from both her ability and those who would use it to their advantage.
really wants is peace, but even strangers pursue her with different
in mind: "Even if he wants to help,
can’t he see that I want to be left alone? That all I desire in this
to be free of everyone else and the pain that comes with them."
misdiagnoses and perceptions of what constitute mental illness and
extraordinary abilities, and Ashlee's own desire to detach from her
life to find the peace and freedom she imagines await her, the story
many delightfully unexpected threads of connection and realization.
journey carries readers into a milieu in which her vision of the
Underlying her journey is the uncertain evolving faith that things can change—even for the better, and against all odds.
that people can change their own reality translates to revised
with her grandfather and life, readers receive a thought-provoking
comes not just from Ashlee's experiences and perspective, but the lives
influences of those around her, such as her grandfather:
was a glimpse of eternity that hinted at all life’s answers, one that
story of distant places and cultures that forever changed for better
even if the faces taking them in never did. And in this never-ending
a greater truth screamed to be heard: that something far more precious
being squandered with each passing second, with each rush of wind and
Maybe Ashlee was right that we all get to choose our own reality."
perspectives from other characters lend further insights and depth to
life and beliefs, expanding her personality and perceptions in a manner
links her to family, friends, and choices that redirect her belief
to new adult
readers will find Ashlee's exploration and evolution thoroughly
holds the kind of attraction that expands a compelling saga of being
found, and coming full circle to recognize the real value of life.
readers seeking unusual novels of growth and evolution will find
a remarkable effort that brings to life a teen's compelling vision of
possible futures and the impact of her choices in the world:
can’t understand why someone with my ability to look into the future is
to see everything that awaits. I am not sure myself. Maybe we aren’t
see all things or have all the answers. Maybe some are meant to reveal
themselves as surprises, forcing us to respond on the double from the
Return to Index
David B. Bond
ASIN: B0CB7XZNSS Price: $3.99
ball of fire crashes to
Earth in a "glorious
explosion," bringing with it three infants who are placed in foster
until they come of age. The alien visitation scenario in The
Reluctant Ones thus evolves into a very different scenario
most First Contact alien stories—one in which a farming couple is told
strange crashed aircraft is an experimental military vehicle.
forward to a bullying
situation, in which
fifteen-year-old Yara taps into abilities she never knew she had in
physical threats. Zayne, too, is fifteen and is responding to an
his powers come to light. And Xenia is a teen genius who talks to
B. Bond unfolds a
story in which this trio not only
exhibits unusual abilities, but is being secretly followed by the
which aims to exploit these superpowers. But, before they can, monsters
to test these forces in unusual ways. These reluctant young heroes may
the only force able to defy them. If they dare.
initial response to
danger is to not respond at
all. Seasoned by past experience and charged with hiding, these
heroes find they can't always command their powers or control their
creates a shifting,
realistic interplay between the
teens and the battle they are pulled into. Their emotional reactions to
adversity prove an unsettling key to success as the struggles continue,
connecting the dots of reaction and action in new ways the cooperative
begin to perceive both within themselves and from one another: "There was no way of telling how long
it would have taken anyone else to connect the dots, but Xenia did it
immediately. Whatever that bubble was, Yara was doing it."
about decisions that are humane,
inhumane, and either reckless or intelligent permeate an action-packed
that presents not only the coming-of-age of three potentially powerful
people, but the forces on all sides that would influence and manipulate
and new adults
interested in stories of super
powered individuals struggling to step into adult decision-making roles
find The Reluctant Ones replete
unpredictable action, confrontations with monsters who assume various
and a different perspective on what makes for aliens and humans that
original and unpredictable light on the usual alien encounter scenario.
interested in alien stories that
are very different from the norm will appreciate the ability of The Reluctant Ones to create
thought-provoking moments that ultimately examine the true nature of
human interactions and definitions.
Return to Index
Sun Child of the Moor
Tricia D. Wagner
9798398767193 $3.99 eBook; $16.99 paperback
Child of the
Moor, fourteen-year-old Bastian has been stalked by a dark
force since he
was a child. His earliest memories portend something waiting for him at
and so he fears the darkness and its goblins and other forces which
only he can see.
Bastian's fears seem
rooted in his England
experiences where the mythos of the Sylphic Kingdom, filled with
dragons, has often seemed more real to him than his everyday life. It's
baggage he's carried across the sea to his new home in San Francisco,
which continually plagues his dreams and life.
worries prove real as his
returns to England in a move that reawakens the worst of his
terrors aren't the only thing he struggles with. Life-threatening
attacks are not only a constant event, but lend to the feeling of
ominous threatening his life.
Readers that choose this
fantasy will find the
steeped in the interplay between fantasy and real-life confrontations
Bastian learns pathways to new skills and healing from Master Sayre,
new Ryudo martial arts teacher.
His teacher is a rare and
good friend who
Sylphic frights and possibilities while providing Bastian with the
fighting imaginary and real forces. His deepening involvement in
struggles introduces new realms of possibility (both physically and
as Bastian comes to new realizations about the duties and possibilities
legendary Sun Child able to battle evil forces and how to wield the
the responsibilities that come with it.
Teens receive a vivid
story that intersects
physical struggles that play out on internal and external fields of
controversy, and elements of building strength that come not just from
perceptions, but visualization lessons. These elements add strength
equation of magic versus reality.
Libraries and readers will
find that this story
the anticipated coming-of-age of a young man who is faced with uncommon
to delve into the nature of wielding powerful growth in a socially
The story and its lively,
engaging action will
discussion and debate in teen circles about the consequences of special
abilities and the contrast between imagination and reality, making Sun Child of the Moor a top
recommendation above many other action-packed fantasies for this age
Sun Child of the Moor
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