December 2020 Review Issue
Table Of Contents
Barking Deer Press
Universal buy link: https://books2read.com/The-Abduction
Abduction's sci-fi alien romance
is Book 1 in the 'Sa
Tskir Brothers' chronicles. Other stories of alien abduction tend to
older characters who are one day swept from their car rides or ordinary
but young Samantha is anything but singular. She's just inherited her
farm, also discovered her long-time boyfriend is cheating on her, and
ripe for change. That's why she's fleeing to Las Vegas, along with
Carly, in search of romance and adventure.
What she finds is not a flying saucer on a
dark road, but a young alien also in search of something different in
Samantha is on her way to the stars and an alien world...but somehow
as exciting as she might have pictured, either.
After all, house arrest is house arrest,
whether on Earth or another world. Love potentials with her abductor
awry when his wounded older brother enters the scene and a fiery
sparks between them.
The sex scenes are steamy and descriptive,
and will lure and delight women who choose this story for its special
romance, sex, and alien interactions. This is no staid abduction story,
close examination of evolving relationships and new possibilities that
contain some classic confrontations between the sexes.
As The Abduction unfolds, the
desire to go home again is mixed with the knowledge that Samantha needs
in order to achieve her heart's desire.
As Rikist involves her in a war that has
injured him and changed his life, so Samantha finds an unexpected
herself over not just home turf, but love.
Given the initial scenes of chaos and mass
rape, it should be noted that even though a spark of spunk and fun runs
this tale, the sexual scenes are graphic. Readers who like their sexual
description on the staid side should look elsewhere for their romance
Those who want a rollicking good romp
through the sexual and emotional connections between alien and human
welcome The Abduction's unique brand of humor,
action, and sexual and
romance exploration, which introduces the series with a bang.
Ascendancy of Warriors
The Ascendancy of Warriors is the third book in the Womara series. The story provides a focus on Seanna, a descendant of a clan of women warriors who confront and take charge of their world as she embodies an ancient prophecy that predicts that women warriors will rise again to define their legacy.
Caught in the fray between prophecy and a reality that places Seanna at odds with her love and desires, she moves through a world where political associations rip at not just her life but the future of her clan. At the same time, characters are forced to contemplate the kinds of sacrifices that may last a lifetime.
Women are strong warriors and empowered leaders in this story. The story will especially please those who look for compelling female forces that strive for equality and balance with their male counterparts.
are swept into an epic saga
no prior familiarity with the other books to prove compelling and
understandable. The result is a gripping narrative covering exile,
loss, and love in a vivid epic fantasy that brings women's struggles
strengths to the forefront against the backdrop of a world facing chaos.
$12.99 Paperback/$0.99 Kindle/$19.95 Audible
Everyday Monsters presents the first book in the Animus Chronicles
and opens with an
intriguing letter that serves as a captivating prologue—the writer
needs a book
and a head delivered. A head that isn't necessarily human.
leads to the story of the letter's recipient, Jaden, who is meeting
threatening man and his undead Golem henchman, having received the
apparently set up this bad situation. He's accepted payment for a job
already starting to regret. This is just the opening salvo in a series
dangerous encounters that use wry humor to offset serious murderous
course this would happen to Jaden. Of course this was the kind of job
hired for. Typical. Fucking Typical."
collector (nee: bounty hunter). His job has always been challenging,
matters take a big step in an unfamiliar direction as his work for the
a gruesome messenger, becomes a messy journey through death and danger
leads him to confront threats to reality itself.
undead man, a
prophecy, and a mission that places Jaden in an impossible
position leads readers into mental prisons, vivid descriptions of
and attacks, and Jaden's dreams of a vacation away from the nightmare
life has become.
will find this story thoroughly engrossing as Jaden's quest and
with his inhuman status and objectives: "He hadn’t had a
break in many
years, so pondered what he would do. Maybe he would buy a big meal to
regenerate totally (which would take a substantial amount of flesh to
complete), then he would travel somewhere looking like a real human.
Iceland? He’d always wanted to go there, see the fjords. See the
lights. Wonder how much of a bonus I’ll get from this? he thought to
untapped power of the condemned dead to prophecies that dictate that
can't escape his fate and job, readers will find this dark world
will take a
reader with a strong stomach to traverse the trail of gore and death
follows in Jaden's wake, but those who absorb such descriptions as part
greater good will find this story marches through death and destruction
past life a
mystery, Jaden finds that solving some of this puzzle is intrinsic to
understanding his revised role in this world, beyond his job as a
ultimate answer will delight readers who won't see this coming,
monster's presence in the world and in Jaden's own life and providing a
surprise conclusion. This solidly ties up the loose strings in the
leaving the door open for more books in the series.
Everyday Monsters is a captivating read that excels in unpredictable
characterization, and a plot that slowly reveals the real monsters in
world. Warning: they're not what the reader expects.
Frederik T. Stevens
ASIN : B08HL7YPH2 $3.99 Kindle
Military sci-fi readers who look for studies
in courage, revenge, and conflict will find Preons: Alpha
story. It tells of David, who moves from being a survivor to avenging
deaths of those he loved. When his course of vengeance takes an
turn, readers will be delighted and surprised by the foray into
waters that lends Preons: Alpha its momentum and
It's been seven years since Earth was
attacked and Emily and Christian were murdered. Seven years during
not only survives, but is now working with an alien creature, Rohu, to
a transformation that will turn him into a more effective killing
A wider-reaching mission with a bigger
battle structure draws David from his set course and sends him out into
universe, where he learns new lessons that augment and refute the
his cruel instructor, offering a different approach to a new life,
As his search moves from his fixation on Xalapaz
to finding a new way to avenge his friends, readers receive a profile
transformation that moves beyond the cruel approach originally
the creature and into a more reasoned realm.
there is the
alien princess, Hanla. She is being groomed to be the outstanding ruler
conquered planet, but her role as future queen involves a puzzling new
that belays her peoples' independence and thrusts her into the role of
reconsidering the DNA-changing serum that enhances the humans.
shift, alien and human relationships evolve to a different level, and
change and interpersonal encounters affect peoples and races alike as Preons:
Alpha broadens its scope to a
universe-changing effort on the part of more than one character.
Readers used to the battle clashes of the
military sci-fi genre will find plenty of action here—but it's tempered
attention to the details of racial strife and enlightenment that begin
several main characters and move into wider circles.
The result is a thoroughly engrossing read
that takes the usual confrontational trappings of military sci-fi and
them into new universes. The result is a riveting story of change
androids, humans, robots, and opposing forces both internal and
external that struggle
for a new kind of control.
Military sci-fi readers will find Preons:
Alpha satisfying both for its cultural and its physical
Barking Deer Press
Universal buy link: https://books2read.com/theremaining
Remaining is the third book in
the 'Sa Tskir
Brothers' series and follows Samantha's life on Earth, where the Sa
brothers are still part of her world. One is her mate. The other has
best friend, Carly. They live on the ranch she's inherited, but all is
peaceful for any of them.
From conspiracies and government secrets to
war that pulls the brothers in different directions and challenges a
Samantha, The Remaining draws together the prior
events in the books to
provide an outstanding special blend of romance, battle, and changing
interpersonal and political relationships.
From poppy-spiced tea that proves addictive
to Samantha's ongoing battles with Rikist, demons hide
behind armor and
pregnancy alike, forcing the brothers and their loved ones to face a
resistance movement and military attacks.
Rikist Sa Tskir's love endure? And what will happen when her unborn
part of the horror that threatens her life?
prior books in the series, the haunting The
Abduction and Carly's changing world and place in it in The Keeping, will lend to a better
appreciation of the events in The Remaining.
Armed with the knowledge of how Samantha's
relationship evolved with these two brothers and how Carly found her
and place in this alien-infused new world, prior enthusiasts are in the
position to appreciate the confrontations and outcomes explored in The
Remaining. Especially notable are its themes of abandonment,
and choices that arrive with commitment and job requirements alike.
Romance readers will find the contemporary
characters, their evolving struggles over home life and duty, and their
interrelationships to be sexy, involving, and packed with realistic
on contemporary life.
It's the perfect romance alien read for
readers who like steamy scenes juxtaposed with serious inspections of
life-altering moments. Between the strength of the original premise,
expansion in this third book in the trilogy, and the heart-pounding
that pairs a steamy, sexually driven romance with alien confrontations,
The Remaining will
cross genres to
attract romance, thriller, and sci-fi readers alike.
The Sa Tskir Chronicles Books 1-3 Collection
Barking Deer Press
Universal buy link: https://books2read.com/thesatskirboxset
Because the Sa Tskir Chronicles is best read
as a series rather than pieces, the box set of the first three books
considered a requirement rather than a suggestion, presenting the
series in a
convenient, attractive package that makes for uninterrupted reading for
newcomers and a keepsake edition for prior fans.
Danielle Kaheaku's box set option places all
the books in a convenient place at an attractive price that lends to
gift-giving. The real bargain lies in the ability to present an
package of events to newcomers to the books.
It should be mentioned that these aren't the
only books in the Sa Tskir brothers adventures. But their focus on
and the clash between two very different cultures, and the romance that
from this, is nicely done, and the books weave into one another,
saga in a seamless manner.
Abduction opens the series with a
scenario in which a captured human becomes involved with an alien
woman Samantha is ripe for love, but she never expected her romance to
The steamy romance intersects with
fast-paced human/alien confrontations in a satisfying manner that will
especially intrigue romance genre readers with a taste of something new.
Keeping keeps the focus on
Carly's love and
relationship, adding intrigue into the picture as she faces political
social conundrums stemming from her evolving relationship with an
is too small. But Earth no know that, so Earth is afraid and lets my
as wants.” He looked at her, the earnestness in his voice almost
“Do you understand?”
Remaining integrates the first
two books, rejoins
Carly and Samantha and their chosen ones, and expands the premise of
interactions with Earth in a satisfyingly gripping crescendo of events
threads created in the first two books.
Holiday shoppers looking for romance/alien
blends will find this box set an appropriate, compelling gift indeed.
Daniel R Scott
Clipper Implants Press
978-1-7340507-2-1 $16.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
Book 2 of
Humanity Transformed series, Singularity
to Humanity, expands the story of a human race buffeted by
threat of bioengineering and AI development, returning the Cameron
twins to the
spotlight as they struggle to assure humanity's survival in a story
introduced in Great Dieback to
India, where Yasmeen Khan has left the University of Wisconsin when her
program is put on hold to return to a land replete with strife and
editors' notes section that follow Yasmeen's appearance might best be
first, because it sets the stage and introduces the basic foundations
compelling story that takes place between 2067 through 2076,
background from the first book and helping newcomers understand
and its challenges. The color maps of the 'Great Melts' and the
in this section might neatly set the stage for a more immediate
of setting and events, although beginning with Yasmeen's journey does
level of emotional attachment before these facts are revealed.
scenarios in which the AI known as Bold Beaver and other characters
human, enhanced, and non-human) come into play, Yasmeen's world is
challenged by forces that would not just eliminate humanity, but alter
between different peoples and perspectives are very nicely presented as
tale evolves: "Addison said,
"My sister works to bend nature to her will as did your ancestors,
work with systems to store and communicate that work much as the Inka
did. Our grandparents were farmers, on a small holding, close to the
think I would find beauty in the same parts of your culture as you
It should be
mentioned that Singularity to Humanity is
a work of hard sci-fi and social examination. Readers with an affinity
technological and sociological works will find its action, challenges,
characters particularly intriguing.
also be noted
that the timeline of events shifts back and forth. Chapter headings
delineating time and place assure that readers easily follow these
various factions interact in the course of the singularity's rise.
thoroughly engrossing book that should ideally be followed by readers
enjoyed the prior Great Dieback to
Singularity. This audience will find the sequel an
exciting enlargement of the issues and many of the characters in the
book, walking humanity through loss and transformation as individuals
evolving love and new possibilities for their uncertain futures.
Steven L Masia
ASIN : B08HX5TBYC $3.50 Kindle
several books ago, a self-aware universe was created. When it
inevitable results of its own entropy, this entity created intelligent
that would manipulate space and time to find a solution to the
death. These first humans evolved to become feared as demons. The Trials of Uwe: The Next Generation
follows their ongoing impact as wizards, fairies, and other forces that
off pain confront those who that would defeat and defy them.
Steven L Masia's prior Uwe universe books and their premises will lend
smoother transition to this latest adventure. Those with such a
find the same attention to adventure, action, detail, and clashing
forces as in
the other books, with more added purpose over fate, fortune, and Uwe's
efforts to aid his children.
and settings are very nicely done, with dialogue reinforcing these
they came to be, and Uwe's decision-making process: "I
would like to explore the new world, AWA, created by the
dwarves' workings and you to create a stable universe. The world is an
unexpected outcome of stabilization. Stray magic from your work has led
creation of this world. It is strife with itself, storms of shifting
across its landscape. I would like to explore this world and try to
tame it. I
would request a legion of knights and a legion of dragons combined with
for such a task since they would be most suitable for facing such a
dangers. I would request the mail shirt of life since the dangers I
would surly place my life in danger."
uncommon and dangerous sympathy for lesser beings who are slated only
for others to demon princesses and complicated power struggles, Evilore
Uttera's struggle with her own body (which attempts to betray her
and the struggle for peace between humans and demons, Trials
of Uwe: The Next Generation is filled with engrossing
maelstroms created by a magic-eating vacuum.
Fans of the
universe will find much to like in this vivid, continuing fantasy saga
replete with sexual encounters, emotional connections, good versus
the struggles that define them all.
Barbara J. Moritsch
Bear Clover Books
Wolf Time is a lovely blend of fact and
fantasy. It presents a
visionary fiction piece revolving around wildlife biologist Sage
who finds two wolves on her doorstep, discovering that she can
communicate with them to learn their story.
this tale, Sage finds herself embarking on an extraordinary journey
shapeshifting to become one of them and seeing the world through their
takes the time to explain that scientist Sage has a prior affinity for
concepts, which does a fine job of acknowledging that she is already
experiences that the usual scientist might eschew: "I
must tell you it was my habit to talk to animals. I’d done so
all my life, but after Adam introduced me to Mary Beth Adelson a year
I’d become a student of shamanism and animal communication. Much of the
practice involved learning how to “talk” to animals, plants, and other
her standing between science and spirituality presents the perfect
absorbing the wolves' message and accepting the unique lessons and
offer. This draws on her scientific bent, as well, for a complete
of the ecological dilemmas they raise by their unusual presence on her
this point in time, when wolves are all but extinct in California.
also have such a blended background, because the story moves from
to time travel and beyond in the course of Sage's extraordinary
Wolf Time, the Council, and Links is not easily transmitted to more
humans, as she finds when she attempts to confide in Adam, her
of wildlife management issues intersect with Sage's wolf-generated
readers receive a moving story that considers not only threats to
the discoveries that wolves Issa and Tisha make about Adam's real
moving parts of the story lie not in Sage's realizations, but in the
assessment of human impacts on the planet and what must be done to open
eyes: "In response to what we understand is a difficult time
on Earth, select members of the Animal Network as well as members of
elemental networks, like the Fire and Water networks, are becoming more
and more visible, to try to show humans that there are other ways to
time for humans to take a huge step forward in their evolution, and one
first tasks at hand is to develop reverence for all the
on the planet—the other animals, the plants, the rocks, the rivers and
well as the objects you craft from these entities in order to survive."
time for humans to "re-learn to honor the Earth." Wolf
Time explores many themes intrinsic
to these lessons as wolves and humans begin to understand each other in
ways. It is especially recommended reading for fiction enthusiasts who
rare blends of science, fantasy, and new age thinking.
Doctors’ Doctor: A Memoir
Michael F Myers, MD
979-8663704809 $14.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Becoming a Doctors’
Doctor: A Memoir provides both a
psychiatrist's memoir of
his entry into the profession and an unusual focus as he specializes in
providing mental health services to physicians.
essential to understanding the importance of this memoir. The book goes
a personal career's evolution to delve into the mental health, career
challenges, and social milieu particular to physicians. Considering
influences and facets within the mental health field gives readers the
opportunity to understand how physician mental health affects their
perspectives, attitudes, and abilities.
Myers moves through his early years of clinical practice, how he
focus on writing about and treating fellow doctors, and his struggles
both his own career and overall physician wellness programs.
he traces the
process of becoming a doctor to other doctors, his story embraces and
all kinds of special challenges unique to the medical community,
them for physician and non-physician audiences interested in how mental
processes work in professional circles.
moves from being a personal story to a broader probe of the medical
mental wellness, offering insights into the political and business
medical facilities as a whole as Dr. Myers moves from clinical practice
overseeing programs and organizations that work with physicians.
blossoming career and international presentations to the case history
experiences which drive his efforts to foster better doctor care, Becoming
Doctors’ Doctor will prove eye-opening not just to
physicians, but to those
outside the medical community who may not be privy to details about
resources or special challenges facing the medical community's mental
Becoming a Doctors’
Doctor is highly recommended as
an astute probe of the medical community's
ability to care for its own. No medical collection should be without
Like a Man
Christopher Wiehl with John Turner
Trying To Walk Like
A Man: The Chris Wiehl Playbook
does more than provide the autobiography of
a noted actor. It traces his special challenges when doctors discover a
tumor next to the auditory nerve in his ear, changing the successful
of his career and life.
playbook could just as easily have been named 'How I Continued Living',
it charts a relentless course from achievement and fame to confronting
life-threatening cancer that forces Chris Wiehl to reinvent his life.
about surviving cancer, but Chris Wiehl went on to thrive, expanding
horizons into writing and producing movies. He offers his personal
through pain and suffering and out the other side of these experiences
different, equally satisfying life.
be familiar with Chris Wiehl in order to enjoy his story. It provides
foundations for understanding his life and its influences, beginning
childhood experiences and moving through his career, his diagnosis, his
battles, and his achievements.
book covers these roots—everything from an uncertain marriage to the
of career and life purpose—before it moves to the medical diagnosis
changed almost everything.
had challenged his sense of balance not just for the projected 48 hours
afterwards, but for some time to come. It also changed his feeling
himself, his abilities, and his future.
spiritual strengthening to the help of friends and family who saw that
back on his feet and resumed his relationship not just with God, but
this account offers many insights into the survival process on many
to this actor and familiar with his achievements will find his playbook
a riveting read. It features many insights and examples suitable for
facing a life-changing condition, who looks for insights on how to get
and past it.
Trying To Walk Like
A Man is an involving read
powered not just by medical explorations, but one
man's ability to recover and embrace life's newfound possibilities. It
highly recommended reading for those seek inspiration.
Robert J. Stava
ASIN: B08J5PKL3M $2.99 Kindle
Island; Naval Lieutenant Vanek; and the crew of the U.S.S. Exeter
the book Neptune's Reckoning are again the focus in
Code: Deep Blue,
a prequel that should ideally precede one's reading of Neptune's
Vanek's journey begins here as he becomes involved in testing the
technology unearthed in the previous story.
this follows an effort to get a handle on a dangerous device that could
the outcome of the war. More than a World War II adventure, this adds
of a commander whose proclivity for breaking rules and regulations
leads to a
strange experiment in which he and his aging ship will prove expendable
fail their mission.
understand mysteries has led him to this point in time in which a
device could change the outcome of not just the war, but the world. And
Vanek uncovers more strange references in naval history which seem
including a crew that appears to have been rotting underwater for
though they are indeed alive as specters of horror.
U-boats, Destroyers, and science permeate an adventure story nicely
naval battles and horror alike.
satisfying blends of horror and thriller will find an absorbing blend
cat-and-mouse games and discoveries in Code: Deep Blue as
exposes hidden truths, strange new inventions and threats, and
reports not just about his mission, but his role in it.
that his doomed mission may not only have been a possibility, but was
anticipated—and that not one but two new technologies are spiraling out
control—Vanek finds himself the pivot point in a dangerous situation
him against his own military best interests.
vivid, the discoveries satisfyingly surprising, and the scientific and
exposés engrossing as the
story moves from a new assignment to an unpredictable threat and
about who would knowingly send Vanek into a deadly state of affairs.
Blue evolves, its mystery spirals into realms of horror and
who like vivid stories of high technology, horror, military conundrums,
individual struggles to reveal the truth will find Code: Deep
powerful story that should ideally be read prior to and in conjunction
Reckoning. Together these two books make a powerful force,
High Tide Publications, Inc.
978-1-945990-38-0 $15.99 paperback/$4.99 Kindle
"Living on a
sailboat changes you...but it is not
real life." This introduction
to the latest Josh and Sandi murder mystery follows the prologue of a
scene and is in stark contrast to the explosive violence that opens the
find this contrast between high-octane danger and a life sailing
smooth waters exciting and involving as Josh and his fiancée Sandi are
into their latest high-drama crime scene.
look forward to the next leg of their cruise, venturing into the
land issues draw them into deeper and more deadly waters when an
explosion in a
community center lands them smack in the middle of their latest murder
everything changes, and Sandi Beck is thrown into a desperate search
the Latino neighborhood to find answers to the violence that has
love and ignited a violent community response.
of interpersonal angst that grows from Josh's newfound friendship with
young woman he's rescued and Sandi's association with Detective Ramirez
works with him to solve the crime is a nice touch to the mystery. This
of what elevates it from a simple whodunit to a more complex
exploration of the
underlying motivations and feelings of perp and investigators alike.
Eichenmuller's ability to weave these two threads together to create a
compelling story focuses as much upon an evolving relationship as it
the possibility of a dangerous serial killer on the loose. As the story
evolves, it turns out there's an underlying plot where murder is only a
of the puzzle...a threat that involves children.
more girls of
color became targets and victims are added to the tally, Sandi is
multiple tasks, from finding a dangerous killer before a community
blows up to
accepting the past and future influences on her relationship with Josh
keep their lives in flux. Josh is soon working at her side again, but
she longs for a more peaceful life and a quieter home, circumstances
at the focal point of a demanding investigation.
and wedding plans evolve along with murder probes, readers receive a
juxtaposition of life that moves forward both within and outside of the
in the Lies series is designed as a stand-alone read, so whether or not
reader has digested The Lies Beneath and the
others, this addition won't
disappoint, and is easy to absorb.
result is a
murder mystery filled with the twists and turns of life circumstance
for a realistic, engrossing life study. Murder mystery readers in
especially those involved with Sandi Beck and Josh's other cases will
in Lies a fine series addition as well as a powerful
standalone story that
invites newcomers to partake of Sandi's previous adventures.
Black Opal Books
Cailey Marshall accepted a dare to enter a haunted house, she
expect to be kidnapped and held for ransom by non-ghosts. Hidden Intentions follows the dilemma
posed to her father, Barry,
who is forced to choose between his daughter's life and killing his
the price demanded by her kidnappers. It's a riveting conundrum that
father and daughter on their toes as each struggle to survive and make
decisions under impossible circumstances.
The point of
moves between Cailey's experiences to those of her father, switching
in a clear manner that is identified in chapter headings, so readers
know who is 'speaking'.
"Parents are always saying what they’ll do to keep
safe. What are you willing to do, professor?”
The perp in
is sadistic, cruel, and will stop at nothing to force Barry to make
decisions that go against everything he believes in. The psychological
and dark threat creates a powerful interplay between characters which
remarkable because Alan Behr takes the time to explore all the
motivations, and thoughts and perceptions of both victims and perps
These reflections drive the action, logic, and changing scenarios of
juxtaposing emotion with atmosphere in a compelling manner that brings
story to life: "I didn’t dare go
near the windows. Not now. Not again. Escape was out of the question.
would hurt Mom and Dad. Only thing left to do was sit or lay on the
on the edge, I watched a fly circle around the lightbulb then land on
ceiling. It stayed there a while then flew around the lightbulb again.
while, it landed on a board covering the far window. It crawled behind
pleasure of Hidden Intentions is
that it doesn't
evolve in a predictable direction. Readers are kept on their toes as
forges ahead with revelations and changes made on all sides in a
game of demands, death threats, and murky intentions that are so
even the characters don't always acknowledge them.
As the story
into a social dilemma that involves Cailey and her father in a world
had known about, readers are both educated and entertained by a
holds the ability to power its action through a blend of deep
inspection and fine suspense.
Hidden Intentions is a riveting saga that
crafts heroines and
heroes who are believable, ordinary people tested to the limits of
abilities to survive. Its mercurial, changing story will especially
who look for the unexpected and twists of plot they didn't see coming,
especially highly recommended for seasoned thriller readers who like
suspense and psychological inspection.
Kevin G. Chapman
ASIN : B08HSW1HPD $2.99 Kindle
Voyage is a thriller that revolves around
detective Mike Stoneman and medical examiner Michelle McNeill, who
to catch a break away from their duties even when they attempt to take
ship's security is supposed to be
when a passenger is found dead, but Michelle's more savvy nose for
indicates that this is a murder with nefarious undertones, and her
places her on the radar of a dangerous killer who is along for the
up to Mike to enter the fray and
safe, even if it means setting aside the concept of relaxation in favor
another problem-solving team effort.
prior familiarity with the feisty
team or their
appearance in the prior Mike Stoneman book is necessary in order to
the tense standoffs Kevin G. Chapman employs in Lethal Voyage.
story opens with the bang of a
murder scene set
in 2018 in North Carolina which sets the stage for events to come. It
cautioned that the murders it introduces are graphically portrayed—not
but more so than many a murder mystery thriller. Readers who wish to
blood and gore for a more casual treatment of violence might wish to
these passages or look elsewhere. But it would be a shame if they did,
what evolves from this introductory scene is compelling and thoroughly
reader doesn't just get to know
Mike better. A host of characters enter the picture; all of whom have
perceptions of what they wish to get out of the cruise. Many of them
their problems along for the voyage: "Rachel stepped forward
Shirley a tissue. “If you’re not happy being with Max, why don’t you
divorce him? Life’s too short to be unhappy in a relationship.”
softened. “Thanks, Sweetie. I love how you still think marriage is
I’ve gotten over that. I’d throw the bum out but I have a pre-nup to
he can’t take my money if he dumps me. If I divorce him, he gets a
payment. I don’t want to give him the money, so I’m waiting for him to
me, or die of a heart attack. Unless I throw him overboard first.” “Be
saying things like that,” Michelle said. “You never know who might take
conundrums evolve beyond just
and locating the perp, including maintaining the illusion of a pleasant
for the rest of the passengers: "Mike had to admire what a
operation it had been. None of the passengers would know that a bloody
had just happened – unless somebody from the security team spilled the
Or, unless Mike, Michelle, Jason, or Rachel said something."
G. Chapman is a master at
scenes with satisfying twists and turns that keep readers guessing.
choose this thriller for its compelling characters and setting won't be
Make It Right
Willie Mae Jackson, MD, MA
Publisher: Willie Mae Jackson, MD, MA
Paperback: $14.95; e-book: $3.99
psychiatrist Donovan Montgomery is
an African-American woman whose area of expertise has helped solve
crimes. Her testimony is sought in trials and her books about the
psychopathology of murderers, as well as her ability to build their
are avidly followed by law enforcement professionals.
But Donovan is changing. She
is turning into something
she has no control over: a vigilante killer charged with balancing the
whenever she sees there's a catastrophic brewing in the justice system.
It Right is thoroughly absorbing because Donovan's mental
good and evil provide no clear black and white definitions of perps and
people, but skates the thin gray line between them.
When trapped in a mass
shooting that kills innocent peers
and places her own life in jeopardy, Donovan's hardwiring allows her to
decisively and rationally, both during the crisis and in its aftermath:
remained collected and discerning in sharing her opinions about shooter
shooters, the logical vantage point (or points) of the attack, and
motivation. She was no one’s fool and could not be bullied by the press
statements, no matter how respectful and professional the
Her life isn't just about
justice and the redemption of
criminals or murderers, however. Themes of racism and patriotism
story, and Donovan's confrontations, decisions, and how she navigates
legal, political, and criminal justice bureaucracies are fascinating to
as she struggles to right obvious wrongs and tackle injustice.
These themes are actually as
much the heart of the story
as is Donovan's own psychological metamorphosis. The plot's twists and
ultimately lead the psychiatrist to justify the very actions she
commits—actions that she would condemn (and treat) in others.
There are many intriguing
subplots and engaging elements
throughout this thriller, including a kinky relationship with lover Tom
(and his richly described opulent lifestyle) along with her discovery
sketchy extracurricular activities (and her determination to personally
this wrong, too).
Donovan is a strong,
likeable, achievement-oriented woman
whose values and viewpoints are constantly tested. As the plot evolves,
too, may find their own ideals, concepts of justice, and moral insights
trial. When the justice system is perceived to be falling apart, who
up to glue it back together? This book provides an answer—Donovan
Author Dr. Willie Mae
Jackson provides a gripping,
realistic story which goes far beyond the usual mystery or
thriller. While riddles, suspense, and mind games flavor the overall
the social issues which cement both Donovan's life and the plot.
The end result is a powerful
novel that will resonate
especially well with readers who like their books authentic, exciting,
unpredictable, and imbued with a respectful nod to the challenges this
faces every day.
Murder in First
Level Best Books
Print: 978-1-947915-74-9 $16.95
Ebook: 978-1-947915-75-6 $ 5.99
Murder in First
Position will especially please
readers who harbor dance-based backrounds.
Ballerina Leah Siderova becomes the prime suspect in a murder
rival, Arianna Bonneville, is stabbed.
found the body, but stands to benefit from the elimination of her
However, she is innocent. In order to save her career and clear her
must assume to guise of an investigator and solve Arianna's murder.
cared about was ballet, but now Leah must expand her sights into a
that she knows relatively little about.
ballet competition and talent is revealed in the course of a story that
operates on two levels: through Leah's blossoming skills as a
and her inherent determination to win which translates unexpectedly
from the ballet world to that of criminal justice.
the dance world often collide with her questions and probes and are
realistically presented, adding tension to unfolding events as she
matters that quickly move beyond dance competition circles: "I
much at stake to take offense, although, if I wanted to, I could have
out I hadn’t—as yet—been charged with a crime. And even if I had been
I was innocent until proven guilty. On a more practical level, since
the costume mistress and I was a principal dancer, she was
obligated to get close enough to stick her nose in my armpits, if that
was needed to get the costume properly fitted."
Arianna's family connections, which were used to promote the dance
thus their daughter, and the swirl of lies, deals, and special
revolved around dance, she receives newfound lessons not just in what
prompted Arianna's murder, but influences on the course of her own
Leah has been disciplined all her life. Can this same special brand of
determination help her solve the crime?
interested in dance's routines, roles, problem-solving facets, and the
of a young dancer forced to explore underlying facets of company
special interests beyond her previous experience will find Murder
Position intriguing, involving, and lively.
uses the first person to cement the world as experienced through Leah's
This lends a feel of realistic authenticity to her dance world and
creating a riveting murder mystery especially recommended for those
with the complex world of ballet and its many political and personal
Ripland Publishing LLC
978-1735298108 $6.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Myface online account is achieving fame and going viral on the
but the stunning blond isn't real, and her allure is dangerous. In this
case of a cyber version of Frankenstein, Sebastian Shafer's creation
off in an unexpected direction and her presence has already led to one
thriller that evolves around a social media experiment gone awry,
realized into dangerous realms, and the captivating, dangerous world of
followers and deadly results is a cut above the usual work of
tension. Indeed, Myface will attract readers of
psychological fiction, thrillers, and modern social dilemmas alike as
the elusive Angela's persona and Sebastian's attempts to regain control
a focus on
actor Norman Jarrett evolves, Sebastian and his wife Liz are drawn into
struggle where Angela's persona assumes a nearly lifelike impact on
shared lives as well as those of Norman and others drawn into her spell.
problem. He's addicted to money and fame. The former he has plenty of,
fame has become elusive: "Fame was addictive. Fame was the
craved. And once it was taken away from him, once the roles stopped
he was reduced to being seen only in reruns, the fame disappeared. And
found, to his chagrin, that he couldn’t live without. He couldn’t not
famous. And so he now dedicated his life and all his savings to regain
his employer's requirements and holds onto his own zest for life,
making outrageous demands of both Sebastian and Norman. Whether she's
not, life is about to get even more dangerous. It's up to some clever
detectives to unravel the complicated threads that entangle all three.
weaves a story of psychological entanglements and social media ironies
danger with the special focus of a creation that brings danger into
Its tense blend of thriller and psychological inspection is highly
for modern social media users who will find the realistic scenarios and
discussions thought-provoking and captivating.
Robert J. Stava
978-1922323644 Paper: $13.95; Kindle: $3.99
seaside town of Montauk is nearly as famous as Roswell for its alien
conspiracy theories, so when a new threat arises, it's easy to believe
too, is unreal in Neptune’s Reckoning. But naval
Vanek, charged with uncovering the truth about a top-secret World War
mission called 'Neptune's Reckoning' that cost his grandfather's life,
discovers that the military effort actually revolved around a real,
probes his efforts to discern the truth, and what happens when he
that what lies beneath the waves could change the world.
descriptions in the story, it's evident that the characters aren't just
into unprecedented dangers, but are bringing readers with them into an
engrossing underwater world of canyons, mystery, and peril.
is adept at building an atmosphere of rising horror and historical
investigation. This simultaneous focus will delight readers who seek
historical precedents and investigative methods from their thrillers: "I'm
a historian who builds ship models. You want me to give the police
how to handle scale rigging?"
girl's unfortunate proximity to a well-hidden secret to cloaking
war graves, and sea-faring and Montauk legends, readers receive a
story that moves from events on land to underwater explorations and
romance between Vanek and Michelle adds to the story's suspense,
interpersonal relationships against the backdrop of an involving
draws readers further into the characters' lives and the outcome of
contains messages about environmental issues and relationships that
the action and adventure. This isn't just a thriller alone, but a
of evolving agendas and special interests designed to will leave
blend of thriller and horror with political, social, and environmental
inspections added to the mix will find Neptune’s Reckoning
tale of intrigue that comes layered with surprising political
Dorothy Van Soest
Apprentice House Press
Casebound: 978-1-62720-291-6 $27.99
Paperback: 978-1-62720-292-3 $18.99
Ebook: 978-1-62720-293-0 $ 6.99
Option tells the story of Sylvia
Jensen, who had
an affair back in 1984 with a fellow activist in the nuclear
movement. Decades later, in her seventies, she's moved on from both
and her former lover, but Norton's troubled son lures her into danger
mystery involving a new situation that involves Sylvia and
reporter J.B. Harrell in a dangerous case.
As a result,
is drawn into a combination of
sleuthing and a battle for justice and truth akin to her younger years,
more complex and deadly in nature.
Dorothy Van Soest does an outstanding job of
capturing the politics, special interests, activist perspectives, and
both past and present society. She places a myriad of characters in the
of a story packed not just with mystery and suspense, but a sense of
responsibility and love in a protagonist whose emotions have been
in the past by death.
Having an older protagonist who has lost
none of her spunk and savvy despite setting aside her youthful
optimism is a breath of fresh air, as is her introspective examination
lasting legacy of her past: "...to those of us in the last
was a man who, despite facing a premature and unjust death, had
rage and desire for revenge into positive action, a man committed to
regardless of the consequences. To me, Norton was the only man I had
the only man I had ever felt loved by, the man who’d entrusted his
me and only me, the man who had left to me a secret that I would hug
next thirty-five years as tightly as I held it in that moment."
Norton's son Corey joins the cast for a wild
ride through the radical perspectives and literature of the past and
challenges to both as readers explore social, political, psychological,
investigative worlds alike. A simmering revolutionary spirit influences
Sylvia's perspectives on justice and truth. Powerful women emerge who
modern nuclear threats, struggles for social change, the impact of
peaceful demonstrations on world survival, and the legacy of activism
atomic war veterans for future generations. Nuclear Option
is more than
just an investigative work, but a story replete with social and
inspections of nuclear issues.
Readers interested in a strong
woman-centered suspense thriller that is centered both on individual
responsibility and the nuclear arms race will find Nuclear
unusually astute read. It brings to life the revitalized purpose of a
woman who reassesses her choices and impact upon the modern world.
Its story of sacrifices and saving lives
will linger in the mind long after Sylvia's final revelations.
Ebenezer Scrooge had his great revelation about his life's trajectory
inherent selfishness? Scrooge and the
Great Detectives takes place a year later, when Scrooge has
already put a
great deal of work into reinventing himself and his life.
return visit from Jacob Marley and an assignment to solve a mystery,
sends him on a journey to Cornwall to save the life and reputation of
Hezekiah Hiram Grumbles, who has been accused of murder.
business partner, office clerk, and nephew at his side, Ebenezer
puzzles at every turn as readers are steeped in the atmospheres of
London and Cornwall alike.
delightful approach in winding Scrooge's redemption into a mystery
attract holiday readers who like a good mystery planted on the
foundation of Dickens'
as a changed character who now works towards different goals while
cognizant of the horror of the past that changed his life and forced
confront his selfish ways: "...there
was a lot more good in
name now, coming upon the second year after that eventful Christmas
Scrooge became reacquainted with Marley. He was ruminating about the
Marley had been and still was as dead as a doornail, and that his ghost
been lurking about for two years. He shuddered just thinking about his
encounter of two years past."
Scrooge is not just a figure facing social and personal inspection of
impact on the world around him, but is forced to once again confront
and his effectiveness in the world: "Scrooge
drew a trembling breath, for he knew what had pursued him in the tunnel
the store might be there still. Fear was in his throat and in his
voice shook. “Let us proceed.”
different take on selfish behaviors and intentions that expands the
Dickens story while remaining true to its feelings and purpose.
of past and present require no ghost, here, other than that of failed
opportunities: "He had a winsome
memory of Isabelle, his intended bride of long ago. They had been but
years of age when they became betrothed. After two years, she left him
he had become so hard and flintlike, caring more for financial gain
anything else in the world, including the woman he loved."
of the threats peculiar to fellow detective Sherlock Holmes and
threads that seem to connect to this famous man's similar struggles
readers who enjoy a good Holmes whodunit will find themselves
captivated by the
blend of Scrooge's redemption processes and Holmes's ability to get at
heart of a dangerous puzzle.
holiday mystery that will delight fans of Dickens, Doyle, and beyond.
steeped in holiday flavors, the English countryside, and the efforts of
to solve some of the biggest puzzles in his life.
for its astute attention to detail, strong characterization, and
atmosphere, Scrooge and the Great
Detectives is hard to put down and is a fine Christmas
ongoing second chances.
Turner Publishing Company
Sinder's absorbing story of the occult will appeal
to readers who have a special interest in supernatural fiction and
and opens with Irish gal Ainsley Robertson's 1924 life in rural Cork
She lives with an abusive father, has defied his desire for her to
assume the role
of a proper elder daughter of the Ceannaire of the Society, and finds
pregnant in an era where unwed mothers are frowned upon. She dreams of
Two generations later, Ceit Robertson has
accepted her great-grandmother's legacy and become the Matrarc of this
in modern-day 1996. Her role, decisions, and power are based not only
own strengths and inherited legacy, but in the fae blood that runs in
Like her great grandmother, she's always
struggled with her heritage. Unlike Ainsley, she's determined to use
position to end the Society for good.
Kathleen Kaufman's story winds between these
generations to build a compelling blend of fantasy, occult, and family
connections. These elements come to life as Ceit considers her
potential toxic presence in not just her life but humanity as a whole,
changing relationship with her younger brother Alan. Perhaps
finds herself in a precarious position between two worlds: "She
a lousy substitute for a mother, Ceit knew that. She felt love and she
pain, but her emotions were becoming muted. The realm of human
increasingly inane and noisy. The Night Forest called her more and
had told her this would happen."
The blend of intrigue, fantasy, and occult
thriller is very nicely done, powered by intergenerational connections
keep the story line vivid and compelling. The focus on how each female
in the Robinson family steps up to the plate in a different way creates
engrossing read that is hard to put down as it moves through the Sinder
community's greatest challenges from its own leadership.
Kaufman's vibrant language and descriptions
are part of what makes this story especially captivating: "I
know if you’re ready to fight. I can do my part, but you will need to
cannot set things right for you unless you are ready to allow yourself
who you truly are, and that is not a pretty little girl from the
You are dangerous and wicked and powerful beyond your imagining. You
can be a
savior for your people, or you can suckle orphaned babes until your
wither and your body dissolves to dust. It is your choice.”
Readers seeking an occult thriller about
powerful women determined to not just fulfill their destinies, but make
in their worlds which require a special form of leadership, will find Sinder
compelling on many levels.
Deaths of the Last Romantic
Moses Yuriyvich Mikheyev
978-0-578-77914-0 $3.99 Kindle
isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Sometimes it's a real problem, as in Strange Deaths of the
the story of Adam's curse and the losses he of self that he experiences
time he 'dies'.
story opens in a French café in Manhattan in
2007. A crazy naked man has just run up to Miss Anne-Marie Reneux's
demanded the obituary section of the newspaper, read through it, and
himself in front of her. This is a shocking prologue to a story that
more compelling as chapters explore how this man's special knowledge
his crazy actions.
lead-in is followed by another powerful
introduction in the first chapter: "The first time I
was when I was ten years old."
the story unfolds, romance blends into the
thriller component of an immortal man's endless choices and
forces that would use his condition for their nefarious means. Readers
thoroughly hooked on both the progress of his lives and the special
immortality brings to the table.
lead him to ask the most basic question of
all: "After he left, I sat for a while staring at the empty
before me. Who
the alluring Lilyanne leads Adam to consider a
more passionate life and perspective, the real cost of his condition is
tested when he discovers underlying motives behind his interactions
his encounter with her to his meeting with Dr.
Bonn, the Wisher and his well-kept secrets, and the reasons why the
Schillersdorfs want him dead, Adam finds his life upended not just by
but by the possibilities of love and redemption.
only is immortality not all that it should be,
but love, too, feels mercurial and dubious to him.
Yuriyvich Mikheyev crafts a story that
borders between romance, thriller, and mystery. Characters interact on
levels (and there is a myriad of them) as the timeline moves from the
as far in the future as 2026, which offers an unexpected prequel in the
used to stories of passing ages and
different incarnations of characters will welcome this complexity,
an ease of explanation solidified by chapter heading dates and
which set not just time, but character and place: "The year
It was fall in Loudonville, Ohio. You could tell because the oaks and
had already shed their green in favor of royal colors, like purple,
and gold. A thousand alder trees as yellow as the sun could be seen
direction. I lived in a rural community, surrounded by simple people
to church on Sundays and worked in the fields and small woodshops on
result is an absorbing story that compels on
several levels and proves hard to put down, especially for readers who
read other variations on the theme of immortality's trials and
This audience will find the additional conundrums posed in Strange
the Last Romantic add a fuller-bodied flavor to events than
Deaths of the Last Romantic is very highly
readers who like their mysteries wound into the evolution of romance on
Baby Moses is set in the South in the
1950s where Moses
(who, like his namesake, was found in a basket as an abandoned baby) is
returning home to visit the woman who rescued him. He never expected to
immersed in a local situation involving the robbery of Black
the aspirations of several ne'er-do-wells who think themselves so
nothing can possibly thwart their plan. They think these plans are much
than robbing a bank.
Cowlin lays out this logic in a discussion that embraces both criminal
and irony as the characters assess the pros and cons of various methods
thieving: "Robbin’ a bank, that’s dipshit thinkin’. You
rob a bank, you got a gaggle of J. Edgar Juniors blood-hounding you to
ground. That money is guaranteed by the federal government, and while
Eisenhower might not come down from Washington and sniff out that
his own damn self, you can be three times goddamned sure he’ll send a
agents from the F.B.I. to do it for him...we ain’t gonna rob the Piggly
’cause there’s too many people round and we might get recognized, even
wore masks or covered our faces. Besides, you don’t rob a safe. You
But since neither me or you know how to crack one, we ain’t gonna
nothing. Not the Piggly Wiggly. Not the gas station. Not even a chicken
You get caught rummaging around in the dark, some ole boy more likely
belly with buckshot than ask you what day yer mama was born.”
passage nicely illustrates the dialogue and sense of logic and irony
through Baby Moses, capturing the
Southern lingo, characters, and events that provide the foundations of
thought of nearly everything. But the dastardly duo haven't encountered
yet. And Moses harbours more than a few tricks up his sleeve (and in
bag) that hold the power to change the outcome of these and other plans
affecting the town's populace.
poker games and encounters with the Klan to a Chicken Shack beside a
field "busting loose with bright red cayennes," John Cowlin takes time to build
sights, sounds, smells, and culture of the South. This attention to
draws readers into a lively, changing story that pits personalities and
perspectives against one another, surveys lives at odds with the town's
evolution, and probes race relations and the undercurrents of prejudice
change which affect the lives and ambitions of more than just a few.
faces the vengeful terrorism of the Klan against those he loves and
its capacity for murder, he finds that his homecoming has resulted in
threats and a mission to defeat them.
At once an action-packed adventure, a series of social revelations, and a probe of one man's lasting connections to and impact on his home town, John Cowlin has created a gem of a story in Baby Moses that will delight readers looking for an adventure thoroughly steeped in Southern culture.
passages about folklore, fights, or long-standing feuds, Baby
Moses provides a fine read that blends intrigue and
confrontation with one man's lasting search for justice over revenge.
Sebastian J. Groff
The story of how young Nicholas Wescott comes to host evil in his own body begins with a prologue letter to Cardinal O'Connell in 1908. This tells of a mysterious journal received from abroad by a church girl whose love, Nicholas, is due to return home. The journal details not his affections for her but a strange story, indeed, which chronicles heinous scenes and acts that the girl's beloved fiancée surely never would have participated in, had he been in his right mind. She requests the Church's intervention, upon his return, to save his spirit. And so the terror begins.
Beneath the Devil's
Bow is an engrossing work of
horror—a slow-building story that
successfully percolates intrigue with the measured growth of a
At first the juxtaposition of Wescott's diary entries with letters from his beloved and other forms of response feels mercurial. The priest's letter which introduces the setting is followed by Elizabeth Carter's request for Church assistance; then Wescott's writings themselves. The introductory chapter explains how Elizabeth comes to be the recipient of his diary: "At your request I should fill this diary with all news and experiences of my journey in the utmost detail. When I have filled this diary to the last page, I am to have it postmarked and returned, so that you may be relieved at my well-being. That is of course, assuming all is well."
story buildup is slower-paced than one expects from a horror piece.
J. Groff takes time to build setting, purpose, and atmosphere. It
be mentioned at this point that some graphic sexual descriptions belay
usual staid tone and presentation of the traditional Gothic atmosphere,
injecting a 20th century feel that could seem out of place to readers
choose the Gothic format for its circumspect language and descriptions.
aside, tension is slowly built as a cursed violin enters the picture
Nicholas finds himself drawn into its threat and promises. Groff's
at this point are excellent, compelling, and explore the violin's
allure in a manner that will satisfy Gothic readers: "The all
familiar song of the spectral violin once again filled the air. This
however, it was no material instrument that was producing the cursed
The music, carried through the air by a gentle breeze, came in the form
ethereal hum that too seemed all so familiar. It is as if in this scene
was not present to be free or bound to any object. Rather I was viewing
through my own eyes like a ghost not really there."
explicit descriptions of his sexual adventures again belay the story's
horror feel even as Groff excels in building it up again. But part of
Nicholas's downfall is his increasing libido and involvement in the
violin's directions, and so his exploits reinforce the notion that the
at work in his life in more ways than one.
horror who aren't firmly wedded to a formula horror atmosphere will
story absorbing. The pace begins slowly but builds nicely, readers are
interested in the dilemmas Nicholas faces as he confronts forces beyond
understanding, and the saga will intrigue horror enthusiasts who look
descriptions of how love and commitment change under the influence of
contemporary overlay of some of its descriptions for an emotional
music, a curse, and a young man's uncertain growth away from home as
is on the line. It's well worth the effort and delivers in its promise
delicious horror story reading experience.
Syntell Smith Publishing
Book Endings: Loss,
Pain, and Revelations is a novel
that revolves around impending
loss and the office politics that heavily affect a library clerk's
Walker faces both a toxic work environment and the slow demise of his
grandfather, but is revitalized by dating a lovely Asian woman who
note of positivity into his life.
college student finds this relationship, too, is fraught with strife,
his ability to be flexible and purposeful is challenged. Thus, he
compromised on many levels: in mind, heart, and the pursuit of
pleasures in following Robin's story is that its perspectives are
from co-workers and others who touch his world; from Tommy, who has a
interest in antagonizing Robin, to Ethel, who grasps at retirement with
similar determination not to let simmering office politics keep her
undercurrent of sometimes-macabre humor running through each
descriptions of their entanglements and their motivations for
anger, and frustration: "Annabelle watched him leave. It
right working with Cleopheous, but she knew he didn’t want to get his
dirty going for Augustus’s head. She was almost relieved the plan
Knowing the regional senior clerk by reputation, he would have
them somehow, the snake. Cleopheous stepped out onto the sidewalk
pulled out a cigar and lit it, blew the smoke out the side of his
his nose. “Hmph, never send a woman to do a man’s job,” He said with a
then took another puff. “Okay, I guess when you want the bacon, you
look piggy right in those beady eyes and bring the ax down yourself.”
personality clashes and tempers rise, Robin must call upon
strengths to return professionalism into the workplace, save his own
reputation, and foster a lasting peace and respect for both authority
stamping of books against the dual backdrops of a quiet library and a
clash of personalities creates a compelling atmosphere that brings the
life with a realistic inspection of missed potentials and new
excels at injecting high drama into the backdrop of what should be a
library world. The portrait of workplace personality clashes and the
of new goals and paths create a thought-provoking literary work that
appealing to any reader who view the library as a peaceful refuge from
Heartbeats: A Journey of Perseverance Through
Loss is a coming of age
about a young woman who confronts her father's ALS diagnosis,
make the most of the time she has with him. Seven medical opinions have
offered any hope, and so Jessica hides the diagnosis from her father
herself even as she determines to do what she can, given an impossible
adds the perspective and dilemma of a second generation Armenian
the medical and psychological dilemma. This provides another layer to
quandary as Jessica struggles with a long goodbye that leads her to
her love for her father and her inability to express it the way she
suddenly at a loss for words. My mind travels to the thousands of trips
taken over the years, the countless amusement parks we’ve gone to when
younger, and the lifetime of love he’s showered upon us. I want to tell
grateful I am for everything he’s done for me. For every heartache he
cure. For always being there. But I’m speechless. I should be the one
him. But I can’t get myself to say it. I can’t get myself to tell him
love him and that he’s my hero and that I can’t possibly imagine a
without him. I can’t say it. Instead, I nod, swallow the lump in my
look out the window. Just another day in a coward’s life."
the first person allows readers to understand the process of a young
watching her father slowly fade from an incurable disease, in charge of
her parents through this experience even as she longs to be their
daughter again, under their protection.
English isn't strong, and so she serves as both interpreter and
trying to stand in a middle ground that smoothes the real diagnosis and
perspectives of others into a more positive focus, against all odds.
takes a dive and the rest of her life is put on hold, Jessica is
not only helping her parents field medical challenges and end-of-life
decisions, but deciding where her own future lies.
interested in stories of young women who step up to help even in the
loss will find Counting Heartbeats a warm story of
life and death,
reconciliation, and survival. It lingers in the mind long after the
conclusion and the possibility of new beginnings that come with it, and
highly recommended reading for those who look for stories of immigrant
families, ALS struggles, and determined young women who are survivors.
The Diplomat of
Anthony R Wildman
Paperback: 978-0-6489454-1-3 $29.99
Ebook: 978-0-6489454-0-6 $ 8.22
The Diplomat of Florence: A Novel of Machiavelli
and the Borgias is
set in 1498 Florence, where a people's republic has been established
downfall of the ruling Medici.
threatens this new rule, but new diplomat Niccolò Machiavelli has other
in mind. He may be an inexperienced negotiator, but he is forced to
learn the associations between France and Italy, and the changing rules
laws of the land, as threats emerge.
foundation of history in this story is particularly nicely set in the
beginning, from a black and white map and an introduction defining the
non-English terms peppered throughout the story to a cast of principal
characters organized by region, from Florentine politicians and
members to Roman figures. This outline is necessary because there are a
intersecting special interests throughout that would otherwise stymie
unfamiliar with the milieu of 1400s Italy.
seizes the imagination and injects a sense of the atmosphere and social
political clashes of the times. It uses vivid descriptions to draw
the evolving story's underlying politics and processes: "There
were still few signs of military occupation as they
wandered down the long, evenly paved main street that led towards the
piazza. Apparently, Valentino had bivouacked the bulk of his army a few
away, outside the town of Fermignano, retaining only the soldiers of
personal bodyguard in the city itself. This was a remarkably
thing to do, especially since the deposed Duke Guidobaldo was far from
oxen-drawn carts in the streets to the inner chambers of political
the battles that ensue from them, Wildman is adept at tracing the lay
land and the influences of many different forces on its peoples.
cat-and-mouse games at top levels of political circles will especially
appreciate the time Wildman devotes to exploring these nuances as they
learned through the new diplomat's experiences: "Soderini
told me that once they were in conclave, none of the
factions was able to muster the necessary two-thirds majority and, in
the Spanish and the French combined to choose Piccolomini as a
Anyone other than della Rovere.’ Who must have been furious to have
the papacy for a second time by the Borgia faction. Of course, if the
expired soon, the chess pieces would end up back where they had
sides would no doubt be hoping that they could strengthen their support
historical novels that embrace political maneuverings and social change
relish this story of a young diplomat's first experiences of a
time in his country's history, its interactions with other countries,
underlying forces that ultimately determine its fate.
Red Adept Publishing
ASIN : B08HM6C7MV $7.99
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/games-we-played-shawne-steiger/1137620077?ean=2940162643265
Rachel Goldberg shares her views on a radio show, she becomes the
target of an
online harassment that drives her back to her old home town to escape.
Drescher has also returned to that same home town after a dishonorable
discharge from the army. When they connect the dots between their past
future, a new game emerges that rests on old habits and new directions.
Games We Played is recommended for readers of contemporary women's
fiction, who will
find it an involving combination of social and personal inspection.
character faces prejudices, the consequences of their choices, and
revelations about their individual roles as well as their history with
other, readers are treated to an involving survey of the origins of
and the emergence of a new form of understanding: "While he
climbed to the attic, he imagined his grandpa waiting for them up
waiting to tell them one of his war stories: how they’d rounded up and
the ugly Jews, how he saw Hitler talk and knew he would do anything
wanted, how the world would be different if only they’d won."
histories which are the driving wedge between them to the connections
in their roots and evolutionary process, Shawne Steiger does a fine job
exploring the modern world's influences, whether they involve
neo-Nazis, or a Jewish lesbian woman's return to a changed hometown and
childhood acquaintance. Here, the specter of the hate crime is injected
personal revelations which make each character more understandable,
and ultimately more powerful.
escape this evolving cyber-threat? Can Stephen similarly escape his
past as he
confronts its influences on his future trajectory?
Steiger is especially sharp when detailing
these challenges: "But he couldn’t let go of the feeling that
close to Rachel would fix something in him. Maybe he could see Aaron.
could do some magic together. He would have talked to his grandfather
could have. In his last session, he had told Natalie a little about his
grandfather, and she said it was like he held two grandfathers in his
one he could never please and was always apologizing to and the one who
him feel loved. He hadn’t said anything about the Nazi stuff, just that
grandpa fought in the war and had wanted Stephen to be a soldier too."
contemporary story about prejudice, hate, and a young actress forced to
terms with her Jewish heritage and its underlying grief will draw and
any reader with an interest in the lasting effects of history on
generation perspectives and objectives.
ASIN : B08H6MC9M8 $20.00 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
The Great American Jew Novel will appeal
to readers of Jewish
fiction and humor and tells of a precocious nine-year-old who becomes
"Do It All Dad" father's self-appointed talent agent to solve all his
troubles, from a failing marriage to comedy career aspirations.
everything, but what she gets her little hands on surely changes many
situations in a hilarious romp through stay-at-home dad Joshua's
produces a survey that is, in itself, a comedic satire of the Jewish
personality and lifestyle. Joshua's uncertain navigation of his world,
ongoing ambitions beyond family, and the many challenges he faces in
of realizing his dreams fuel a lively observational study in Jewish
"...on a baser level, Joshua became
addicted to scoring laughs from rehearsed one liners or inspired riffs
moment, synthesizing the scattered observations and punchlines of years
because it made him feel like a less all over the place Jew. Feeling in
was important to Joshua. He’d been the only schmuck with a stutter who
graduated from the top communication school at Ithaca College in 99."
a funny female rabbi to political correctness on trial, Kornbluth
series of evocative encounters. Readers should be prepared for
detailed descriptions that would border on run-on sentences, except for
fact that their underlying attraction lies in their very length and
depth: "She was funny, and very personable,
coming off like a flatter-chested, higher-IQ Judy Gold. He honestly
tell if she was a bush muncher or not. Still, he loved how she made the
Saturday Synagogue services very upbeat, welcoming and business-casual
stripping the house of worship of the deep-rooted holiness preening
flawless stained glass windows, without the original Super Jew, Jesus
anywhere in sight. But what bothered Joshua about the Rabbi, was a
over some Challah noshes after the service, when he tried to gain a
grasp on why Jews got so tense when the mere name of Jesus was brought
conversation, especially when Joshua would get into his Pescatarian
about how if a diet of fish and veggies was good enough for Jesus, the
Super Jew, it was good enough for him."
Much of the
cultural references make this story much more accessible to the Jewish
already well familiar with this background than those who are not, or
not been exposed to Jewish language and psychology in their daily lives.
aside, The Great American Jew Novel
excels in a
hilarious New York exploration of the world of comedy and Jewish
sometimes politically incorrect, racy, and ribald. This absorbing
a father's drive for bigger and better goals and added meaning in his
highly recommended for Jewish readers who enjoy the cultural lure of
to Get a
Promotion When Your Boss is Trying to Kill You
Joseph Patrick Pascale
How to Get a
Promotion When Your Boss is Trying to
Kill You doesn't sound like the
title of a novel, but this is a fiction survey even though it sounds as
should fall in the genre of 'business novel'. Instead, it takes a dark
twisted turn into the realm of sleuthing and the absurd.
office clerk's ambition to rise to the top of the workforce to become a
clerk changes when a meeting with the director results in his
recruitment on a
secret mission. This endeavor is replete with saboteurs, crackpots,
agents, philosophical confrontations, and individuals who may look like
but who have greater ambitions that only this clerk can influence.
Pascale creates a satirical inspection of not just workplace politics
pressures, but the odd constrictions, alliances, and challenges of
work as a whole. His story toes the line between a spy novel and a
de farce. Readers seeking something genre-bustingly different will
story's ability to avoid pat categorization in favor of a brand of
license uncommon in the modern novel format.
clerk traverses a series of obstacles that continually challenge his
society and his role as a clerk, readers will appreciate the romp
paperwork and business processes alike: "The backlog in the
seemed like a monumental task. Looking at that pile of work made the
the equivalent exasperation of being on the ground floor of the
building in the bigger city, and, realizing that the elevators were out
order, he’d need to climb the stairs to some ridiculous-numbered floor
or worse. He sighed, and the simile made him realize that he should
the work the director needed him to do, as that far outranked the
that the manager wanted him to take care of.
difficult to peg this story, but How to Get a Promotion When
Your Boss is
Trying to Kill You is a fun, top recommendation for anyone
office and government politics, the ironies and inconsistencies of the
world, and business challenges that place personal ambition on a
course with life purpose.
the Shadow of
Michael Kenneth Smith
In the Shadow of
Gold is set in Richmond, Virginia
in 1865 and tells of two trains that each
carry a different kind of treasure. One is the Confederate president.
is the Confederate treasury holdings.
holding Jefferson Davis and his cabinet is captured. And the treasure
other vanishes. What happened to it? This novel's mystery is based in
and provides a riveting examination of what could have happened to the
such a story to begin in the 1800s, but the opening chapter is set in
contemporary 2020 and tells of Josh Arvin's search for the original
his family's fortune, only to become involved in an evolving secret
its roots in the Civil War.
moves to April of 1861, which introduces a sailor with a temper; then
where runaway slave Ellie makes her bid for freedom.
initially seem like disparate threads, but Michael Kenneth Smith really
how to draw together the nuances of personal lives, history, special
and evolving drama as the chapters juxtaposing these and other events.
perspectives and timelines are identified by date as each character
with his or her story, making it easy for readers to follow these
life experiences and trains of thought. The groundwork has been nicely
the time Chapter 5 evolves.
trains, as midshipman Yancey moves from his familiar Richmond home into
uncharted territory aboard the train, readers will find this an
packed with realistic images of the South during this era: "Miles
the train had left the city, the glow of the burning cotton warehouses
still visible. Yancey had lived in Richmond since he was born, and the
that it appeared to be totally destroyed gave him an empty feeling. Not
did he have no friends, but now he had no home, not even his naval
image of the Patrick Henry burning was seared into his mind. He wasn’t
miss the ship, but it was still a part of him, and now it was gone."
treasure the same as thieving? Yancey isn't sure about either his moral
ethical choices or the question of what is right during a war which
the evolving South and its desperate moves at the close of the war
the era and its various special interests to life, from Ellie's
influence on Yancey over the true value of the gold to her perceptions
white men aren't all the same. Some are different. But, is Yancey one
political issues that are wound into this historical treasure hunt are
done and bring the South and its history and people to life.
an involving blend of mystery, evolving relationships, questions of
immoral behaviors, and an alternate speculation of what could have
so much treasure will find that In the Shadow of Gold
excels in both its
sense of place and its sense of purpose.
involving story that draws together not just Yancey and Ellie, but
who find themselves struggling for many different kinds of treasure as
Civil War brings slavery and lives to an end.
Barnes & Noble Press
The Last Act opens with a desperate
statement by a
desperate man contemplating a final exit: "Somewhere between the television and the
bathroom, carrying puke in a bedpan and stepping in my elderly mom's
decided to end it all. Life was too short to be miserable and doing the
work for years in the assisted "dying" home. In her state of mind,
she would never know. I'd kill myself. In two weeks."
As narrator Leo explores his
life, rationales, and
frustrations, an edgy form of satirical humor evolves that adds an
flavor to his musings and experiences: "The
doctor spoke with the compassion of Pol Pot. 'Pain is a good reminder
Leo. It can awaken something new in us as a result.' And it did. It
week, most of which I spent in a comfy chair in the house, foot raised,
muted on the TV. Blissful solitude. I listened mostly to the
hawking pharmaceuticals. A comforting voice informed me: 'Side effects
include fatigue, joint pain, dizziness, facial paralysis, inability to
migraines, stroke, and, in rare cases, agonizing slow death.' The
doctor at the
hospital had said pain was a reminder of life. I was in pain. I was
smell. Cat urine."
Indeed, these elements of
the unexpected are what elevate
The Last Act from a predictable
of suicidal tendencies to a broader inspection of life's ironies.
continually surprised by where Leo journeys during his life
is just one delightful element to a novella that moves from a final
choice to a
son's relationship with a mother with dementia, his bowling buddy
Mosby, and a
group of seniors who discover small pleasures in ordinary life
Its journey into love,
acceptance, pleasures, and the
pursuit of the idea that life is worth living carries readers into a
where disparate individuals find their lives oddly entwined and
As Leo faces life in a
"withering body" with a
mind still capable of adventuring, readers absorb a tale that holds an
unexpected interpretation of what constitutes a last act affecting more
one life by its choices.
Unexpected, funny, and
thought-provoking all in one, The Last Act
is a story that lingers in
the mind long after reading.
Readers interested in the lasting impact of
phobias on choices and ambitions will find Life Unbothered
novel of psychological struggle and reconsidering life's quality and
Wade Hampton's phobias leave him nearly
paralyzed and housebound after he breaks up with Pamela, but he
by taking a big, life-changing step. He moves to Arizona where he
Sophia, a different kind of woman willing to help him overcome his
Sophia appears about halfway into this
story, which sets the stage for her appearance with Wade's series of
encounters, from contemplating suicide to lessons learned about love
older woman: "When you find that special person, within an
age range of course, open up to her and let your heart go. That’s when
reach the glory of absolute happiness.”
Though Wade has already achieved much by
confronting possible death and many challenges in his life, Sophia
something different and better. This is a monumental task for both of
especially since business ventures and women have not exactly worked
Wade in the past. But her steady hand on guiding his recovery through
experiences and gentle confrontations of his fears is nicely presented:
first weekend trip was to Ojai, a little town nestled inland from Santa
Barbara, about ninety miles north from our home. The second weekend we
south to Temecula and visited a few wineries. Those trips were safely
accomplished, my car always tethered nearby in case I wanted to escape.
Agoraphobic thoughts poked into my head a few times, but Sophia never
materialize to anything critical."
Charlie Elliott provides rare insights into
how the course of one man's life is dictated by his fears and the kinds
choices that ultimately lead to cure.
But when disaster strikes
twenty-eight-year-old Sophia, both are forced to draw on her lessons to
them strength against an impossible outcome.
Readers interested in tense psychological
stories of overcoming phobias and life challenges to emerge from failed
romances and dreams into a better life will welcome Life
wild, realistic ride through Wade's mental illness and life as he
elusive love and a semblance of normalcy.
The Music of
ASIN : B08JQPCCLV $9.99 Kindle
equal depression and death? When you're novelist Charlie Forte, whose
to one of the biggest coups of his writing career is to contemplate
The Music of Women presents Charlie's
foray into his life, the
twenty-four women who influenced its direction, and the music he
associates with each female as he contemplates the trajectory of his
to this uncertain life-or-death moment in time.
that "Charlie's need to be validated
on his terms seeped into every sphere of his life but specifically
his first book deal." The connections that have led him to
are rooted in the fame he has successfully concocted for himself. But
lie in the types of associations he's learned from, and these are
the viewpoint of a genius non-conformist who finds that he must
romance, meaning, life history, and life purposes in order to move
moves through all the women in Charlie's life, from his mother to
Insights on her early influence are particularly well done and
revealing: "Her husband wasn't good enough.
wondered whether, in the beginning, his father had been good enough. He
have been. Three children later, a husk remained of that man, or what
assumed must have been a real man. Charlie inherited that reticence,
and by the
time the sisters came along, male majority had been overrun by female
through Charlie's life from the evolution of his successful career to
relationship challenges, they receive a juxtaposition of insecure
with women and career achievements by a man who eventually comes to
his success in life.
self-analysis and his prejudices and perceptions of those who interact
will prove especially intriguing to readers who have psychology degrees
training, who will relish the processes Charlie takes to reconcile his
actions. Especially inviting are the many moments of self-analysis
thoughout: "Labeling himself incompetent was
always on the surface, easier to touch than the hair on his arms."
encounters and romance to survival strategies, readers who enjoy
fiction centered on growth and evolution will find Charlie's progress
life intriguing. It provides much food for thought as he confronts his
mistrust of women and considers why he never completely bonds with
you wish for. It could be a prototype for disaster. That's the opening
contention of The Prototype, a novel that revolves
around an automobile
prototype with the power to change the world.
invention and possibility that drops into the lap of Stockton Clay, a
journalist who has long awaited a big break in his life. His efforts
around more than writing when this happens, involving him in a series
escapades that range from becoming the target of an assassin to facing
medical emergency. This prompts him to finally undertake a journey to
long-lost father in an effort to tap the red blood cells that could
a journey to
Japan, a mad Russian scientist, and a struggle that moves from
health risk to world domination for a story that is complex,
fast-paced, and almost filled with too many threads to easily follow.
Stockton thinks the written threat he finds in his hotel room is a gag,
reacts with little concern: "He’d be damned if he was going
lame gag spoil this once-in-a-lifetime experience of being part of the
automotive event of the year."
lead to entanglements that prove his life is in danger in more ways
readers are led on a romp through other cultures and the world of CIA
like Maki, who seemingly wish to help him survive. Who can he really
importantly, how is the prototype, which he's privy to, remain in the
conflicts that embrace all of his personal concerns? When he finds
the unexpected position of donating his own cells to save a
more challenges emerge that question his focus and intentions.
a good job of expanding the basic story from a prototype's
possibilities to its
ultimate impact on one ordinary individual's life. He creates many
during this process, but also does a good job in bringing together
motivations, and influences that at first seem disparate.
appreciate a complex, lively thriller that embraces international
social, political, and psychological subplots will welcome The
special blend of action, reflection and automobile intrigue that
rewards Stockton's efforts in a surprise move he (and the reader) never
the Dead: Chronicles
of the Night Waster
Max Willi Fischer
9798684213694 $9.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
the legend of the "Night Waster"—a vampire which feeds on the living
to keep the dead alive—abounds. The real culprit was consumption, which
the body and consumed life, known as the "white plague" in the 19th
has long resented his father's dictate for him to become a cabinetmaker
apprentice for the Shaffer family instead of following in his footsteps
to be a
book merchant; especially since coffin-building is a major part of the
becomes more involved in helping the family confront the threat of lung
disease, superstitions surrounding health, an economic panic, and a
mystery with its roots in local legend and history, his occupation
of an investigator who becomes more engaged with the world as well as
Fischer is adept at capturing the nuances of this era's pleasures and
alike: "Chase took the girl with the tortoiseshell comb by
the hand for
the moment, calling out, “With your right hand, clasp your partner’s
hand.” The dance master proceeded with his impromptu demonstration.
towards your partner and rotate in counterclockwise motion.” The dance
released the young lady from his hand, and she returned to her place in
of the apprentice. Thomas bowed to his dark-haired partner whose
pupils indicated this was her first dance as well. It seemed like small
consolation for his own stomach full of butterflies. Once the fiddler
massage his strings and Thomas caught on to the repetitive nature of
rotating movements, he forgot about any nausea and enjoyed the gaiety
of the evening."
noted that Fischer includes many footnoted definitions for the
the times such as 'Irish biddies' (nee: annoying women). These
footnotes may be
unexpected in a fiction work and, for some, their presence on almost
may prove a distraction. They are well needed, however, and eliminate
possibility of confusion over colloquial terms and their meaning.
treasure, a mystery surrounding Benedict Arnold, and adventure and
change Thomas's life, a vivid story evolves against the specter of an
that is changing the world.
in today's struggles over COVID will find much to recognize in this
of discovery, recovery, and threats that stem from illness, evil,
lost treasure alike. The plot, characters, and historical setting are
done, and though the plot shifts unexpectedly, at times, readers remain
involved and interested to the end.
descriptions of 1800s New England and the history which powers this
very nicely done, making Revelations From the Dead
a recommendation for
historical novel readers who enjoy stories steeped in a strong sense of
Sentinel 10: The Diamond Rose
Brigid Book Publishing
978-1777427306 $12.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Diamond Rose tells of medical
school grad Amanda
Griffith, who finds her life altered by a solar flare that causes her
consciousness momentarily, in a painful reaction. This prologue sets
with her medical training and unusual response to an event that will
As chapters unfold, readers learn that her
long-time efforts to regain her footing in life after her parents died
her to this uncertain point where her lack of a relationship and life
has led to uncertainty about her training, her abilities, and her
When she and her friend Lydia encounter a
supernatural force on the beach which emanates waves of inhuman evil,
onto a quest to realize not only her own special powers, but her
in life, which is far beyond any training she could have experienced.
As The Diamond Rose unfolds,
demonstrated that Amanda is actually a powerful paranormal warrior
untrained), and that her identity as the Sentinel 10 is one of the
purposes to her life. Her encounter with a young fellow warrior, Matt
and an evil form of psychic energy that feeds on people is the first
confrontation in a series of events that leads Amanda into not just a
life purpose and impossible new world paradigms, but romance.
Many paranormal romance stories focus so
heavily on the developing relationship that the paranormal part is
aside. Daniela Valenti's ability to construct an entire plausible
for this romance and add Amanda's evolving new purpose, as well as a
relationship, contributes to a story that expands Amanda's perspective
evolving psychic abilities.
As she learns about the solar flares that
indict new Sentinels into a select fold of only a few hundred
result in different degrees of power, Amanda struggles to accept the
that she is the greatest of them all, charged with a special form of
places her in a unique position.
From evolving powers and ghostly presences
to a newfound ability to touch other souls, readers receive a
romance that explores the boundaries of new abilities, new feelings,
Readers of supernatural fantasy will find
this story hard to put down as Amanda steps into a role and world she'd
expected, challenging herself in new directions fueled not just by
Readers seeking a multifaceted story of
growth and discovery, in addition to evolving explorations of love,
will find The
Diamond Rose a thoroughly absorbing adventure.
Solving the Riddle of Confinement
is an excellent work of historical
nonfiction well grounded in fact. Inga Wiehl consulted Danish
as well one Leonora Christine Ulfeldt’s own writings during the making
biographical sketch. The story revolves around 1600s king's daughter
Christine Ulfeldt, who was arrested, brought to the Tower, and spent
twenty years imprisoned in isolation in a small cell.
documents and her writings serve as the foundation for a moving,
account that opens with an introduction explaining the wellsprings of
Wiehl's early discoveries about and fascination with Ulfeldt's life and
historical novels, biographical studies, and Ulfeldt's own writings,
moved to generate this work of "creative nonfiction" embellishing the
story and explaining Danish politics, processes, and Ulfeldt's life and
expect they should have at least a cursory background in relatively
1600s Danish history, but one of the pleasures of receiving a
that reads with the urgency and description of fiction is that
this), no such background is required.
to capture the sights and sounds of the times through Ulfeldt's
descriptions, along with her choices and political influences, is one
factors that gives Tower Blues such a sense of
immediacy and attraction
even for readers with no background in Danish affairs: "This
the day I will meet my one-time half-brother, Frederik, King of
“Absolute Monarch” they call him. I have been betrayed, or it would
come to this. Idle hands make no reins for a racing mind. And race mine
forward to the royal encounter and backward to my recent English
was wrong to go to England, and I know it. But I have never been able
when Corfitz pleads. And I know, too, that all our good years
committed me to the bad years that would come."
From her travels and political struggles to
her survival of the Tower and the passage of so many years, this tale
captures the nuances of her life's challenges, but weaves Danish
social concerns into the story line so deftly that newcomers to both
lost or wondering: "We labor through May and June and get
when I learn through Karen’s gossiping with Per that sentence has been
on the prisoner below. Dr. Sperling, who has never been dismissed from
office as court physician to the Danish king and therefore remains
subject despite his residence in Hamburg, is to be executed for high
How well I know the procedure. More days pass as we await sounds of
in the castle yard, as once we listened to those of
the mock execution
is largely due to the vivid reenactment
of Leonora Christine Ulfeldt’s thoughts,
dreams, encounters with guards and fellow inmates, and the currents
her life perspective unusually grounded and on course against all odds.
story should have a prior interest in history and the devices of
to fully appreciate how completely Wiehl laces together the drama,
and concerns of the times into the wealth of facts she uncovered.
literary and historical achievement that will especially be appreciated
readers of the historical fiction genre. This audience will find the
depth and detail, combined with the overlay of drama and insight, to be
uniquely compelling reading—unexpectedly and especially delightful,
complexity of its subject.
The Turn is a biographical historical
novel of runaway slave
William Henry Johnson, who becomes President Lincoln's valet and
enters the spotlight of early civil rights struggles over Lincoln's
emancipate the slaves. It not only chronicles Johnson's dilemmas and
challenges, but Lincoln's evolving social and political platform as he
interacts with Johnson and juggles a changing society with
directions for America.
Johnson's escape and near-lynching, capturing in vivid description the
that almost claim his life: "Horses
thundered past. A musket stock rammed William’s shoulder, rattling his
driving him to his knees. Pain ran up his neck, down his arm. A coarse
rope tumbled around William’s neck. A boot pounded his back until he
forward. Another boot caught him hard between his shoulders, knocking
breath. A musket stock hammered him until he lay on his stomach, face
dirt. A heel pressed into the back of his neck. He could hardly
description is evident throughout the narrative as DL Fowler portrays
social and political events that affect the two men independently, but
interactions and emotions as they respond to threats from attacks to
theories raised by the Pinkertons, who uncover an early plot that
Baltimore’s chief of police.
grasp the gravity of this nation in balance, the importance of his own
decisions and their lasting consequences, and William's involvement in
influence on his choices makes for a gripping story. More so than most
novels, it holds a rare ability to delve into the heart and mind of the
the results of his interactions not just with ideals, but a former
struggles with his own confusion over his revised role in the white
and life evolves both alongside and independently of Lincoln's. This is
satisfying feature of this story, offering the unusual ability to
their sometimes-different views: "...when
I see those white boys losing arms or legs or eyes or dying, fighting
fight, I feel like less of a man.” “How would bein’ dead or maimed make
more of a man?” Her chin quivered. He sputtered. “Stop. Here’s what
feel like less of a woman. Knowin’ you’d rather die in place of one of
than live for me. Want to know what I think? They’re the ones what
freedom. They can pay the price to buy it back.” She stood and stomped
in The Turn by the unique
juxtaposition of these two men will delight historical fiction readers.
audience will find it thought-provoking, involving, and much different
usual Lincoln coverage, on many levels. It's a fine choice for those
some prior background in Lincoln's life and times, who would imbibe of
and more complex set of scenarios and influences than the usual
The Weight of Salt
Paperback: 978-1-7345090-1-4 $14.95
Hardcover: 978-1-7345090-2-1 $28.95
readers will discover that The Weight of
Salt holds its own in a field known for novels that too
often meld romance
with a dash of history rather than the other way around. The plot gives
emphasis and strength to both facets as it describes the milieu of 1906
Florida, where 15-year-old Italian girl Angelina Pirrello finds herself
family trapped between the rising Suffragist movement, the Mob, and the
prejudice against the Italian-American community she lives in.
this already-multifaceted mix might seem over the top, but Sandra
does a fine job of exploring all of the evolving social, political, and
personal forces at work in this young girl's life. This adds a rich
of reality to experiences which are, after all, cemented in personal
given its teen protagonist, the age group of this story's intended
be young adult; but to limit it to these eyes alone would be to do the
political and social insights, The Weight
of Salt should ideally reach far beyond a young adult
audience to touch all
ages. Perhaps an older protagonist would have lent validity to an older
audience choosing the book initially; but from the very beginning it's
that the attraction here lies in the depth and variety of events and
inspections, even during an initial description of childbirth choices: "Though middle-aged and with graying
hair, Signora Bertelli had something ageless about her—not in
appearance but in
her enthusiasm for life. With a look of scorn, she waved her finger at
Domenico. “Who do you think is more useful, a midwife standing right in
of you or a doctor who’s nowhere to be found?” She narrowed her eyes.
the reason why God, with His divine wisdom, never trusted a man to have
this plot lies in its depictions of old-world Italian traditions in
the new world cultural influences of America. One reason these insights
realistic (they will be more than familiar to anyone who has grown up
generation in America, as has this reviewer) is that many of the
stemmed from Sandra Montanino's
own background and family tales.
These lend a
set of insights throughout a story that embraces Sicilian family
from the specter of an arranged marriage to a boy Angelina doesn't love
choices she faces in confronting family over the changing milieu of
liberties and women's rights.
At times it
like there is almost too much happening as far as social pressures.
this reflects the reality of the times and the many forces Italian
communities faced; especially against the backdrop of Ybor City,
the promise of riches to be gained by hard work is overshadowed by
would take advantage of hard-working peoples.
between Angelina's evolving emotions, her coming of age during these
the pressures that drive her to reconsider long-held family values and
from other women Angelina encounters, along with their experiences of
are particularly well done: "You see
that, Angelina? Just because I got married, it doesn’t mean I have a
It means he got a wife. The man I married likes to spend our money on
and saves his voice for talking to the dog.” Eva reached inside her
showed everyone her coins. “Before I met him, I was an heiress. Now,
all that’s left.”
these insights and more in a story that is compelling, complex, and
satisfying. It's highly recommended reading for historical romance
look for an emphasis on the sociology and history of the times as well
this book to
young adults alone would be to limit its potential. The
Weight of Salt will ideally reach beyond the historical
genre to engross readers of immigrant experience, women's literature,
women's social issues alike.
Jill S. MacDonald
Awareness. Clarity. Power. is a personal
that no growth-oriented reader should miss, whether they're already
new age and self-help techniques or not.
surprised to learn that part of empowerment embraces an ability to
the forces that drain that power. Jill S. MacDonald surveys how
is given away; but mostly importantly, she provides the nuts and bolts
to recognize when this happens: "What
does it mean to give away our power? It means we look to others, to
to relationships, to outcomes, to circumstances in order to validate,
measure, gauge ...what resides within us. The circumstances,
relationships, and outcomes in our lives are reflections from within.
simplest way to know you’ve given away your power is by how you feel.
feels good to give away our power, and it always feels good to tap into
Most of us have experienced moments when we knew we stood in our power,
our alignment, and listened to our guidance. Utilize those moments to
you in accessing your power more often."
are discussed, from that of faith in a 'bigger picture' to aligning
and emotions to affect and translate experiences.
Each step of
process opens the chapter with a (often surprising) contention ("Conclusions are illusions") and
a discussion that revolves around how to move past self-limiting
concepts to reach for the stars.
One of the
empowering ideas here is to embrace and support the kind of fluidity in
and approach to life that lends to better outcomes, more clarity, and
Jill MacDonald's journey will find it thought-provoking, revealing, and
with not just admonitions, but accompanying life examples designed to
with the psyches and experiences of a wide audience of readers.
meditation, self-awareness, and development-oriented reads will relish
passion, strength, and specific tools for growth that are carefully
cornerstones of Awareness. Clarity.
Petite Ivy Press
Black Market: A Guide To Art Collecting is
a primer for would-be collectors and provides information how to start
collecting pieces from African-American and Black artists. This
approach sets this book apart from more general 'how to' manuals,
focus to the history, culture, and presence of Black artists on the
the elements which make their works collectible (or not).
than just a listing of Black
artists and art
values, The Black Market offers all the basics
necessary for understanding
their history and creations. Complimenting the artist profiles and
references is the methodology and resources for educating oneself on
the art market in general. This allows readers to move beyond this
to deeper inspections of Black artists and their relationship to the
biographies are used to follow
history of evolving black artistry, providing insights into the
its history from 1900 to modern times.
these foundation discussions
probing methods for expanding one's knowledge about collectible art,
museum memberships and art fairs and galleries to how art schools,
and auctions work.
to either Black art or
collecting in general
thus receive information specific to both which assumes no prior
other, making The Black Market accessible to those
just beginning to
feel excitement over discovering this market and its opportunities.
of collectors who have risen
in the field
add many tips and insights that newcomers will find invaluable and
"During his early days as a collector, Craig developed a habit
would stick with him for the rest of his life: he bought art that
what was going on in his inner life, making his decision based on
there was something that seemed to speak to him on a personal level,
would pay attention to it—and buy it. In 2008, for example, while Obama
running for the Democratic nomination, Craig found an artist whose work
epitomized the inspiration that he felt seeing Obama on the national
found the art irresistible because it connected to what he was going
and following the artist’s progress, he picked up
several of his
insights from seasoned art
than the author is one of the cornerstones of this book's expansive
The variety and depth of these experiences lends it a full-faceted
a more singular approach couldn't duplicate.
who would enter the world of
collecting for the first time should consider The Black
Market: A Guide To
Art Collecting a 'must have' foundation exploration
of all its
possibilities. The book opens many doors particular to the Black art
that other, more general art collecting books don't hold. It is very
recommended reading that captures the rise and trends of the African
Cause for Alarm: Mental Illness and
Joseph W. Vanable, Jr.
Print: 978-1-951490-48-5 $10.00
eBook: 978-1-951490-49-2 $ 3.00
should be one of the more treatable diseases. So, why do so many people
without treatment and fall into medical insurance gaps? A
Cause for Alarm:
Mental Illness and Public Policy identifies the connection
perception of mental illness and the public policy that governs its
and presents one of the major obstacles to recovery.
Vanable sets the stage
of how mental illness is categorized, different forms of mental illness
adults and children, and the history of early treatments. As chapters
the stigma surrounding mental illness, the evolution of public and
policies on treatment processes and how options are limited for many
from mental illness, readers receive all the background needed to
how both this condition and the public response to it have affected
health care over the years.
more important are later
discussions of the
evolution of public policies as they relate to medical, insurance, and
criminalization concerns. Each chapter contributes another piece to the
puzzle of why mental illness, out of all the medical conditions,
greater set of restrictions to adequate treatment.
often than is
the case for
other illnesses, social influences, perceptions, and legal
dictate the kind, quality, and presence of medical care for mental
thorough understanding of these procedures and barriers is necessary
anyone can consider breaking through them to revise public policy to
those who live with mental illness.
takes the time to explain the
these concerns, from insurance industry focus on cost containment to
of transinstitutionalization, which places more people living with
illness in prisons than in treatment centers. The human and fiscal
choosing prison over treatment are also outlined in a hard-hitting
of what too often happens to mentally ill people who have nowhere to go
effective medical treatment.
for improvements to the
radically reduce the numbers of mentally ill who remain untreated also
a backbone of strength to a title that does more than outline the
their history, but shows where public policies can be changed to save
collection on mental illness, law,
policy should be without the hard-hitting, well-researched and
Cause for Alarm. It raises many striking questions over
issues that need to
a Peak at
This: Synergize Your Body's Clock Towards a Highly Productive You
Ebook: $3.99/Paperback: $13.99/Hardcover: $24.99
Have a Peak at This: Synergize Your Body's
Clock Towards a Highly Productive You is more than just another treatise on improving
productivity, but links
the body's circadian rhythms to efforts to be more effective. It builds
foundation of efficiency based on the knowledge that these rhythms not
the wellspring of energy, but are too often thwarted by synthetic
light and terrible sleep schedules—not to mention artificially induced
for increased activity.
By working within a personal knowledge of one's
rhythms, readers receive the opportunity to tap greater energy without
diminishing it through synthetically enforced expectations of
Case history examples pepper advice which
you get your body’s clock in tune, you can plan difficult tasks for
are most alert, and complete them faster
and at double the
quality than when you perform them at other times of the day."
Chapters discuss various influences on those
which readers can personally take charge of, from different types of
and balancing sugar levels to practicing time-restricted eating and
understanding how circadian rhythms affect meal choices: "The circadian clocks of
our digestive organs
are not very optimal at night, as they are preparing your body for
health facts balance with lifestyle considerations and is supported by
research and case history examples throughout. This makes it easy for
to connect the dots between the latest findings on how circadian
operate and daily lifestyle choices.
cultivates a clear purpose in outlining all these facets: "My wish and the reason I wrote this book is that
realize they can reach the best of their abilities by harnessing the
their own circadian rhythm."
information-filled self-help guide is especially recommended for
would not just increase productivity, but ultimately get their lives
sync with their body's inherent system of wellbeing. It's especially
recommended for health-conscious readers who seek to get the most out
lifestyle choices for better energy and health.
Light of Days Gone By
Eloquent Light Editions
Craig Varjabedian spent
creating the photos for The Light of Days Gone By,
light-filled images from the glowing red hills of Ghost Ranch to the
dunes of White Sands and other locales. Reminiscent of the works of Andrew
Grant Wood or John Singer Sargent, but with a more
focus, The Light of Days Gone By is an outstanding
synthesis of color
and New Mexican landscapes and peoples, and is a highly recommended
arts and American history holdings alike.
Cindy Lane provides an equally
essay introducing her thirty-plus years of professional relationship
photographer and how she worked with galleries and museums across the
to foster and display his works. She's seen almost every photograph
made, assisted on many shoots, and navigates the world of art
an eye to promoting one of the most captivating photographers of modern
essay, along with the insights of
compliments these color images, which serve as a testimony to Craig
Varjabedian's long-term career and the evolution of many themes in the
of his photographic endeavors and exhibitions.
Bullington's essay is another
that lends further insights into his art and her relationship with it.
juxtaposition of black and white
images, one to a page and in a good size for excellent resolution and
along with the arrangement of these pieces to reflect their evolving
subjects, is simply exquisite.
arts and history
exceptional—even extraordinary—works should make The Light of
Days Gone By
a mainstay and cornerstone acquisition for their collections.
it is that good.
Renu S. Persaud
The Mastery of You:
A Journey Toward the Understanding
of Self is a self-help primer
designed for readers who would take the first steps toward personal
transformation by better understanding their motivations, fears, and
reactions to life. It's a discussion based on self-mastery that charts
intended to be "interwoven into everyday practice," advocating
interactions that stem first from self-awareness, then acknowledgement
ever, such an approach to life seems needed. While other books hold
approaches, few provide the pragmatic, reasoned self-assessing tools
Persaud has cultivated as a program for change.
advocate not just changing onesself, but caring for self before helping
The author's interactions with hundreds of people, his scholarly roots
college professor, and his research into thousands of sociological,
psychological, philosophical, art, cultural, historical, business, and
neuroscientific sources lend to a solid survey. It moves beyond most
ideal-based new age treatises to embrace the nuts and bolts of
statistics and facts
admonitions stem from the modern human condition, and feel all too
recognizable: "Despite today’s emphasis on selfhood, there
perilous loneliness. Even with the attention we receive from
technological and non-technological
sources, emptiness pervades. We are adrift and missing something
strength that stems from within and not one that is a showcase of
privilege is important, yet we fail to recognize this. Today we are
for happiness continually. Why is it that so many of us seek
we seeking rather than being happy?"
examples of leadership roles and their choices to how helping others
self-healing, Persaud provides many insights into not just one
various facets of the self-mastery process.
result is a
rare exploration of self improvement that is firmly rooted in science,
history, business, and other disciplines. This will delight and attract
pragmatic audience usually skeptical of ethereal thinking. The
You is very highly recommended for its solid examination not
just of the
ideal of self-mastery, but the various influences on making this part
everyday life choices.
American Dream: What Were We Thinking?
R. Michael Conley
Beaver's Pond Press
978-1643438849 $24.95 Hardcover/$9.99 Kindle
American Dream: What Were We Thinking?
asks a serious question about the kind of
world that is being created and left for future generations, tackling
of how current generations are 'borrowing' on future generations'
through decisions that compromise humanity's survival, from the
economic and social strength.
change and cyberwarfare to pandemics and economic challenges, R.
maintains that conditions are right for a 'perfect storm' that will not
compromise the lives of future Americans, but the ability of the planet
maintain an environment that supports human life as we know it.
progression of all of these forces is noted: "This was never
intent. We didn’t even know we were doing it. But like a chronic
crept up on us and insidiously grew until it became too noticeable to
warning signs were there, but they went ignored or unnoticed. Gradual
the forces of change are now morphing into existential threats."
contentions take the form of a search for answers over how all these
disparate pieces of the puzzle are coming together in a dangerous way.
through stories of Conley's own coming of age and realizations about
American dream, they provide close examination of evolving events that
seemingly localized situations only to evolve into a dangerous bigger
experiences and life are drawn into the story as he reviews his ideals,
realities of coming of age in a changing world, the policies and
by social and political decision-makers during this time, and
between today's issues and how they came to be.
observations of this process serve as an eyewitness story that future
generations may turn to when they ask 'why?' and 'how did this
its real value lies in its ability to reach modern audiences when there
still some hope of effecting change.
action which rounds up this summary is particularly compelling: "...recognize
that time is working against us. Powerful feedback loops are hastening
degradation of our life-support systems diminishing Earth’s capacity to
growth at current rates. The bias to act must be urgent and powerful."
the American Dream a wake-up call. The clock is ticking, and
those who read
Conley's book can't claim they didn't see these things coming.
cancer' and concurrent visions of erectile dysfunction and the loss of
speed to the forefront of concern, in many cases superseding worries
health and longevity. That's why readers may be surprised to learn that
prostate cancer may not preclude a full and active sex life when they
Serge Thomas's memoir No Prostate Required, whose
subtitle is How I
Dealt With Prostate Cancer And Now Enjoy A Cancer-Free, Robust And Full
facing a similar diagnosis (and men, in particular, who view it as the
knell of sex) will find Thomas provides candid discussions of his
options, their lasting impact, and the role of physical and emotional
in a relationship.
expect an undercurrent of humor to run through such a story, but this
satisfying comic relief to the very serious topic of prostate cancer,
diagnosis to treatment: "What would be my first step? Yellow
today’s version–Google: “Doctors proficient at radical prostatectomy”?
“Doctors proficient at radical prostatectomy who do not leave their
helplessly impotent and incontinent”? Or, better yet, “Doctors
radical prostatectomy, who simultaneously increase the size and length
patient’s penis, improve sexual performance, and guarantee a more
frank discussions of emotional impact and intimacy related to
sex's importance that pull no punches in outlining major obstacles the
faced after diagnosis: "All that I was fighting for suddenly
disappeared and I had begun to flounder. Lisa, however, was rock solid
love for me, reiterating if we may not be able to be intimate in that
the future that nothing would change between us. I hate to say this,
but I did
not believe her. I believed that we all have requisite needs, in this
and my not being able to perform would somehow change things."
discussions of intimacy, erections, and the pursuit of happiness also
the aftermath of cancer treatments and the various new routines and
that need to be made not only on a sexual and emotional level, but in
basic bodily functions.
the level of explicit advice that is presented more coyly or not at all
other books about treatment options for prostate cancer will welcome
approach of an author who has been there and experienced many of these
of investigation; experimentation; understanding consequences and
to health, performance, and ability; and the ongoing struggle to
maintain a healthy,
active life drives a story that is filled with many insights and
This will prove especially important for those newly entering the
should be on the top of the reading list of any individual and his
faces a new diagnosis of prostate cancer and all the special challenges
Readings & Devotionals, Volume 2
Inscript Books, A Division of Dove Christian Publishers
second volume in Old Testament Readings
& Devotionals covers the books of Exodus, Leviticus,
and Numbers as
they reveal God’s spiritual plan for his people (redemption,
and perseverance), and continues the Biblical study introduced in the
It should be
forewarned that this is no light synthesis. It's the second book of a
14-volume series, and blends an in-depth study of each book of the
devotionals supporting the read.
deceptively short. Each consists of, generally, one chapter from the
while the associated devotionals provide excerpts from Robert Hawker
(1753–1827), Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), or Octavius Winslow’s
works. C.M.H. Koenig chose to quote the CSB version in the
cases where the wording wasn’t critical to keeping it in the old
(King James) Version (AKJV). There are many versions/ translations to
this study with Bible in hand will find the introductory Biblical
italics. This helps locate the key message of the chosen section and
it with the study quote from one of the above scholars, such as Robert
comment on Exodus 2:24: "This is a
precious scripture. My soul, put a note upon it. No sigh, no groan, no
God’s people can pass unobserved. He putteth the tears of his people in
bottle. Surely then he can never overlook what gives vent to those
sorrows of the soul."
along in whatever Bible version/translation of their choice. Free
versions/translations are available at Bible Gateway (https://www.biblegateway.com/
) or YouVersion (https://www.youversion.com/the-bible-app/
materials for daily contemplation. This allows for a special brand of
that adds depth by spacing out the readings and devotionals for
The works gathered in this collection are especially hard-hitting passages. This is yet another example for Day 56, from Leviticus 20: "… I am the LORD your God who set you apart from the peoples.” Leviticus 20:24
Let the Reader remark with me, in the perusal of
these verses, the
grounds on which the Lord enjoins sanctity of life and manners, and the
strong motives in which it is founded, namely, that the Lord is the God
people in a covenant way, and that they are his people. So that being
distinguished as the peculiar objects of his love, reason as well as
seems to demand that they should be the peculiar followers of his holy
what Moses elsewhere saith of this, Deuteronomy 33:29.
(Hawker, Poor Man's
Old Testament Commentary: Genesis-Numbers, 512)
juxtaposition of Biblical source material and the reflection expanding
meaning offers essential material suitable for self-study and Bible
done the hard work of pulling out selected passages and pairing them
thought-provoking insights of these seasoned scholars. All the Bible
student needs to do now is reflect upon and apply these meanings to
understanding of the Bible's intentions and the progression of their
students of all
ages who look for daily devotionals linked to explicit Biblical
find this approach revealing and accessible. There is no better way to
the Scriptures and their underlying meaning than through a
plan such as this.
Side Steps Terrorizing Sound Bites
Jean Publications, LLC
At first glance, the hard copy of Side
Steps Terrorizing Sound Bites appears to be printed upside
down. The front
cover leads to the upside down back of the story, and the reader opens
back to begin. The back cover presents a poem that starts "Going
reverse caused me to curse/laboring to diffuse anger/from the course
traversed." This leads one to think that this is a
rather than a printer's error. And so the fun begins.
Each poem receives a color drawing by
illustrator Eric Savage, who provides visual embellishment for the
works within. More so than most poets who choose to add color
these pictures of people, animals, places, and situations are suitable
enhancements that both support written words and stand on their own as
drawings supporting the epic poetry production.
Readers move through life experiences with
reflections that blend history, philosophical, and psychological
Some question the nature of perception and reality, as in 'Facts': "A
story is a story;/What exactly are the facts?/—Your perspective/My
perspective—who can argue with that?"
Some are whimsical; others quite serious.
The free-flowing style moves between verse and free verse with equal
Jean weaves a powerful story with action calls that link history and
choice and perspective.
Powerful reflections link daily life's
challenges to broader experience as in 'Back from the Front', which
military endeavors with fifty years of "calculation, terrorism and
isolation" and describes them with a series of vivid images: "Mine's
a ride down a slide/a fall in an elevator,/a spin in a tornado
&/a climb up
a ladder/Again, and again, and again..."
The result is poetic social inspection at
its best: a journey of compelling, engaging historical examination that
personal experience and evolution to activism in a compelling, unique,
manner where everything in life is potentially revolutionary.
initially think So Your Plant Sucks! What Are You Going To Do
is about gardening, but it's about the workplace, advising managers and
business owners about the nuts and bolts of tailoring a profitable
plant even when profit indicators would seem to point to positive
remember a conversation with a plant manager during which I questioned
plant’s performance. He looked
at me and said, “We’re making strong
margins. What’s your problem?” Well, my problem was we couldn’t
like that and expect to maintain those positive margins or any others
Quality (COPQ) is the primary subject in Casey Williams's book, which
lying, fibs, and other methods managers and participants use to ignore
warning signals until business turns and is often lost to more savvy
diagrams, and a straightforward approach pulls no punches in outlining
sources of plant management issues, whether they come from leadership,
regulations, or concerns about the bottom line. Williams closely
roots of these problems and exposes them for managers who may not have
understood some of their origins: "Just a touch of honesty
value-added vs. non-value-added. What I said is true, but there’s a
waste that doesn’t quite fall into either category. We call it
non-value-added” or “business non-value-added”. This is waste in the
sense, but we’re going to do it anyway. These could be safety-related,
government-mandated, or quality-ensuring. They’re waste, but are not
idealistic feature of what could be, but a solid, reasoned review of
often happens to reduce plant efficiency and, eventually, its overall
status. Plenty of concrete options for change are presented alongside
of the problem that afford not just food for thought, but materials for
changing both how plant operations are perceived and how they are
into something better.
result is a
business book managers will actually grasp and utilize for best
both their own leadership role and the overall plant's functions.
which should be provided to every plant manager upon their new job's
providing all the tools needed to move from identifying small problems
they become big to making the kinds of decisions that result in maximum
efficiency, production, and better leadership approaches.
recommended, So Your Plant Sucks! What Are You Going To Do
ideally will reach beyond management to draw the owner's attention.
Jill S. MacDonald
responsible for another's life trajectory, guiding their most
years, is a big challenge. Many have wished for a blueprint of advice
major hurdles and best practices along the way.
You Are Their Lighthouse provides an
support system and is recommended reading for new parents, especially
feel overwhelmed. It also helps to have a prior dose of new age
with conscious-raising and self-help approaches, because You
Are Their Lighthouse incorporates these and more into its
blueprints and self-awareness exercises to insights and wisdoms from
that are meant to help parents sync with their core values and
what it means to be both a parent and a child, this guide opens with a
thought-provoking contention: "Our
children choose us. And we choose them. It is a choice made at a soul
level. It is an incredible journey of loving, learning,
for both parent and child. It is a powerful and sacred bond. We are
inextricably linked to our children––heart to heart, soul to soul."
introductory caution—that parents who choose this book need to be open
self-awareness and growth: "The trick
to parenting in an awakened state is balancing self-awareness and
with lots of patience and parenting tools." Those who
the guide will include advice on rigid boundary-setting and approaches
controlling situations may be surprised at the emphasis of lessons
cultivate a sense of parental mindfulness in the parenting process.
evolve, parents receive a primer that throws down a gauntlet of growth
guidance not just for the child, but the reader: "Continue
to challenge your beliefs of what a good parent should
be. Ask yourself if those beliefs are actually even yours." And
lessons on how to be more self-aware are imparted, parents should see a
between their own growth and the evolution of their attitudes about
and their child's unique path in life both due to their influences and
independent of them.
You Are Their Lighthouse is simply
outstanding, detailing a
growth-oriented approach that celebrates and guides the parent's
new role. It's the primer that should be a baby shower pick alongside
guides covering the basics of how to handle a baby and raise a child.
Immortal Works LLC
Beasley is almost a teenager, but
knows two important things about the trajectory of his life: he wants
mother to quit dating the dubious men who come and go from their lives,
longs to play football even though there is no team and no sports
in dead-end Bricktown.
grade readers receive the
inviting story of
a dilemma when a well-meaning mentor becomes involved in helping Sam
kids realize their sports dream, only to attach a price tag to her
that leaves them wondering if the effort is worth its cost.
it's confronting his mother's
issues or his
lifelong dream, Sam's perceptions and voice are dramatically presented
pragmatic first-person voice that continually assesses his world's
screen door banged shut as I walked into our dump of a house. A blast
hairspray and perfume hit me head on, tangled in a cloud of cigarette
leaking from the bathroom. The radio blared. My mom hummed her happy
with a song. My shoulders dropped. She didn’t hum like that when she
sticking around. Happy hums meant my mom was going out for the evening.
was no good. My mom didn’t do so hot when it came to guys. Probably
was always the same guy with a different name. Stupid guys who liked to
into our house and start bossing us around. And that was if they stuck
astute analysis of others isn't
just limited to
his mother's boyfriends, either. His ability to interact with and
his peers is equally realistic: "Around the other guys Tommy
mouth, but when it was just the two of us he was an all right guy. And
Tommy was a shrimp, he was confident. He never seemed to worry about
people thought or what people wore, he just did what he liked. And the
a whiz, always talking about computers and technology. Most of the time
hardly keep up with what
analytical ability both gets him
and out of it as Sam faces increasing challenges at home from his
latest boyfriend, struggles with school, and finds that even his most
friendship connections provide a lifeline of help when tragedy strikes.
Fanning's portrait of a gritty,
who finds ways to survive on many levels creates a compelling story
hard to put down. While readers might initially think it revolves
dreams, there's a lot more going on in Sam's life. His reactions,
their consequences will prove thoroughly engrossing in a story highly
recommended for pre-teens.
Cotton Club Princess
Readers of African-American historical
fiction well know that the picks are slim in this category, compared to
genres. There simply aren't enough good books on the subject. But this
just why Cotton Club Princess is a recommended read
for young adults.
Set in 1928 and revolving around the coming
of age of teen Nostalgia Richardson, who does housework for a living
of a better life, Cotton Club Princess captures the
atmosphere and times
of the Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance for an age group that seldom
receives immersion in this era, let alone African-American lives of
Nostalgia may be 'cleaning up after white
folks' in Spivey’s Grove, South Carolina, but she harbors big dreams of
different life. She's heard about the big city of New York and the
and she aims to go there and dance at the Club even if she has to
trajectory of everything she's been taught, in order to do so.
Unlike most girls her age, Nostalgia never
stopped reading or dreaming. This curiosity and persistence serves her
she moves from a small-town experience to becoming more worldly and
wise in the
Carla Diggs does a fine job of outlining not
only Nostalgia's adventures, but the background and training that give
special ability to go places few women in her position dream of
As she becomes a performer and realizes many
dreams, readers are treated to a positive story of ambition and success
seen in African-American stories. Nostalgia faces adversity with the
determination of an independent woman, managing her own money, taking
entertainment career, and making her way through the world by forging
for which she's had little prior training.
Also especially notable are the changing
times and attitudes towards women by the various bands that move
Cotton Club. These social changes are duly noted by the now-savvy
"Some of the musicians in Cab’s band, especially Charles Sherman, asked
out on various occasions. I know I seemed unsociable, but they accepted
polite decline every time. The boys in the band were so different now.
Ellington’s men were quiet gentlemen who made sure if they saw one of
dancers leaving they would put her in a taxi, or do whatever needed to
to see to it that she got home safely. Cab’s band members didn’t so
open the door for us! They drank and smoked quite a bit much for me
Nostalgia's drive to control and change her
life is affected by various forces, from her upbringing and family
Spivey's Grove to her new life in the big city. At times, they
Throughout it all, young readers receive a
vivid story that embraces the changing tides of racial relationships
women's rights through the eye of a girl whose Cotton Club dreams come
Readers of African American historical
fiction for teens well know the dearth of materials in this genre, but Cotton
Club Princess would be a standout even if it were laden with
works. It will appeal to those who look for historical accuracy paired
appealing saga of a spunky, determined young female protagonist who
the world to take charge of her life and realize her dreams to be a
against all odds.
Purloined Pickles Puzzle
James J. Griffin
Condor Publishing, Inc.
home to the handsome Deputy Pete, who patrols its streets with purpose
effectiveness. But he may have met his match over the mystery that
the middle grade Western read Deputy Pete
and the Purloined Pickles Puzzle.
background in producing Western novels for all ages continues to prove
here, creating a story which nicely blends a mystery with a rural Texas
big problem that Sheriff Sam Slade has been unable to handle. Even more
importantly, who would steal all the cucumbers and pickles in town?
the perp and the deputy are in a pickle by the time the options are
and the rationale behind pickle picking is presented.
with problem-solving approaches as the deputy puts on his thinking
and rides out to confront pickle perp possibilities.
Pete, his parents, and others is often fun, offering plays on 'p' words
kids will relish: "But it is funny,
son," his father commented, "you just keep on pondering over pilfered
said Pete's mother, "I'm trying to get our son to relax, and you're
him to worry about pickles."
As the savvy
works with three young sleuths, Libby, Ben, and Jose, to solve this
readers will delight in conversations that capture whimsical
approaches to his job.
ability to incorporate the folksy, homespun atmosphere of a good
Western with a
child's eye to solving a small town puzzle creates a compelling story
delight kids interested in law enforcement conundrums.
It's a fine
will keep young folk guessing to the end, and blends the atmosphere and
approach of a Western with a mystery that introduces kids to the
range and strengths of the Western novel format.
Meets the Wright Brothers
Dan Soderberg and Greyson Soderberg
readers will find Elevator Jones Meets the Wright Brothers
fun exploration of third grader Henry Jones and his imaginative world.
the hero is a mild-mannered schoolboy; but in his time off he becomes a
traveler who explores the past and solve its problems along with his
cohorts, Tommy and Horatio. It helps that the old Excelsior
Hotel where he
lives with his parents has an aging elevator that serves as a portal to
that, in their latest adventure, a botched social studies test about
Brothers leads them directly to the era in which the Wright Brothers
legendary mark. There's only one problem. In their desire to solve
the past, they discover they've inadvertently changed air travel in
they need to
go back and fix it, lest air travel turn into a figment of Henry's
team has penned this story, added colorful, simple drawings, and
healthy dose of unexpected humor: "Horatio! Horatio!” yelled
he approached Horatio’s table. “What’s the trouble Henry?” asked
Horatio, as he
lifted a spoonful of soup from his bowl.“We need help with the
replied Henry. “Carl’s filling in for me. I’m having soup. It’s beef
night,” said Horatio as he took another spoonful of soup. “I understand
it’s beef barley night, but Carl can’t help us with this one,” replied
“Don’t tell me,” answered Horatio. “Yep. This is a job for Elevator
replied Henry. “Nope. Not doing it Henry. No time travel on beef barley
I wait all week for this day,” said Horatio."
whimsy, adventure, history, and time travel dilemmas makes this story
particularly inviting to prior fans of Danny Dunn and other time
From the dunes
of Kitty Hawk to struggles between the famous brothers, preteen readers
a lively history-based leisure read that is compelling and hard to put
Parents seeking read-alouds for kids who don't yet have reading skills
interested in an absorbing time-travel adventure suitable for multiple
nights will find this an excellent choice, as well.
World of Chemistry
Nanoscale Scientists Publishing, LLC
9781953492005 $9.99 Hardcover/$4.99 Kindle
Explore the World of Chemistry: The Ultimate Alphabet Book for Nanoscale Scientists! is a beginning alphabet reader for young would-be scientists, pairing a focus on biochemistry and general, organic, and inorganic chemistry with an exceptionally colorful board book format.
'A is for
Atom', which explains how atoms form everything, to 'J is for Joule (a
measurement of energy), the bright illustrations of happy children
with and demonstrating basic principles of chemistry are exceptionally
done, providing the color and sense of adventure needed to engross the
young in the world of science.
will find these one-line explanations simple to understand, serving as
refresher course on many of the basic terms used in chemistry.
chemistry and science books on the market for older readers, but this
book primer is a top recommendation for parents looking to help young
readers get a head start on both their alphabet and the world of
Five Funny Tummy Men
The Peppertree Press LLC
Men requires good reading skills,
even though it's a slim paperback. It features fun drawings by Clyde
and Jason Fowler and explores the physiology of what happens after you
Where does food go? Basic digestion concepts are explained via the
tummy men' who process it.
A chatty observational style belays the
usual science-based discussion for young people. This invites them to
engaged in a funny story that blends imaginative ideas with real facts
digestion. In this story, the fictional five little men "...live
down in YOUR tummy. When your tummy aches - they are giving you a wee
kick. When your tummy makes noises, they are talking to you."
Dialogue between these men as they work to
digest food is whimsical and fun, as are the descriptions, but the
is to present physiological functions in a more engaging style than the
picture book approach.
Parents who choose to read this story aloud
to young ones will find it both entertaining and educational—a
of imaginative characters and real facts that will lead kids to
physiological bodily functions and how they work.
Jonna Amato Ocampo
Henry the Astronaut tells of Henry the teddy bear's nighttime musing
about the stars and
the possibility of his venturing out among them, and presents a lovely
book rhyme about his adventures.
Ocampo's drawings are perfect bedtime attractions as Henry makes his
from bed into the stars via his imagination. The rhyme changes meter
throughout, which may stymie parents who begin the story with the
four-line rhyme and move into areas either unrhymed or differently
But this approach adds variety and unpredictability to the story as
follow happy Henry's enthusiastic encounters with the moon and stars.
message offers a positive vision of exploration, discovery, and
kids absorb not just Henry's adventures, but his freewheeling, fun
towards new experiences.
welcome this story for its opportunity to instill such a spirit early
on in the
very young via an inviting bedtime read-aloud.
Cat Michaels and Rosie Russell
978-0-9983372-3-4 $9.99 Print/$2.99 Digital
Author Website: https://www.catmichaelswriter.com/just-between-sam-and-me.html
Cowriter Website: https://booksbyrose.com/just-between-sam-and-me/
will delight in a warm story about shy Olivia Martin, who is starting
grade without her best friend at her side. When she earns the unwelcome
attention of a school bully who challenges her, this leads her to write
experiences in a diary directed to her cat Sam. Readers gain insights
thoughts of a young victim and how she handles daily bullying.
third-person introduction to Sam's newfound journal-writing, the story
the journal format itself, which probes the heart of the bullying
and juxtaposes with third-person objective descriptions.
Olivia provides the background details of her new grade level, family,
life. The moves between journal and third-person story are nicely done,
line drawings which pepper the account are good embellishments as
perspectives about Olivia and her special sixth grade challenge in a
loves, Spring Hope.
she new girl
Candace Mazare proceeds to make her life miserable, Olivia discovers
Candace is used to a bigger, fancier world than Olivia's beloved small
and doesn't hesitate to criticize everything she sees. This is in fine
to the usual children's story of the shy new girl in town who becomes
object of attack. The new girl in this case is belligerent, critical,
than capable of injecting division into a group of students who have
other most of their lives.
Rosie Russell create a story that offers a satisfying twist on the
of bullying, victims, and even more importantly, how divisions are
created in a
group. These offer realistic, invaluable lessons that kids will find
to understanding life events and how one person's attitude can change
Just Between Sam
and Me documents this process
with precision and realistic detail in a manner
most books about bullying don't begin to touch, getting to the heart of
bully is created and how group dynamics change.
result is a
powerful story for advanced elementary to middle grade audiences. It is
recommended reading for its very different approach to how bullying
how a small town girl ultimately rises to the challenge that emerges in
close-knit school community.
Just Between Sam
and Me is very highly recommended
for both its educational message and its
exceptionally lovely pen and ink drawings.
Phillip B. Chute
978-1-7328855-0-9 $14.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
The Metric Clock tells of nine-year-old
Charles Wallace, who lives
a relatively isolated life with an often-absent father in New England
When a trip to rural Canada provides him with answers that encourage a
he's never had with his father before, Charles begins to see that
than his one best friend, Mary Anne, could connect with him on a deeper
emotional level...if he can let them in.
chooses to go
on an adventure, Charles discovers that keeping secrets and forming new
friendships can impact old ones...even those as solid as his pre-summer
friendship with Mary Anne: "She felt
something changed from before. They had been apart so much that when
somewhere together now they were almost like strangers. She had seen
playing with the boys many times but could not spend any time with him
she would be with the other girls or with her little sister in hand.
wondered how he felt about her now."
is a story
of war and peace, problems and solutions, evolving relationships, and
possibilities that all challenge Charles to move behind his shy comfort
to accept new possibilities from life.
a fine job of exploring these evolutionary processes, taking time to
focus on a
close friendship that changes with the seasons. As Charles examines
important in his life, he comes to realize what kinds of people he
supporting and cultivating from both new experiences and
encounters: "He felt good being with
her at this place. Charles was happy they could share it together. He
peace with himself and nature. “Mary Anne, you know we’ll probably
this sight again as long as we live.” She looked at him in
confirmation. “If I
were here alone I wouldn’t enjoy it half as much,” Charles stated. “Being here with you is what makes
As the story
a surprise ending looms that both changes everything and reinforces the
Charles receives about his life, its trajectory, and his relationships.
will find The Metric Clock a
compelling story with a strong message about friendships, courage, and
My Friend the President
Lynn W. Leigh
Heart to Heart Publishing
One day, in 1941, Raymond Leroy Clark became
a special guest of the president. His role at this inauguration began a
tradition of handing off the Bible used in reciting the oath of office,
which the president would note and sign his seed corn book. My Friend the President documents this
ritual, which starts when the teen changes a president’s life and
embroiled in matters far beyond his experience.
The first note about My
Friend the President is that its fictional presentation
incorporates the drama and description of a vivid tale steeped in
traditions and culture. The president faces the special challenge of
away from the demands of his office to take a secret break as a war in
looms: "He knew what the vice
president said was true. His reply was what landed him in this mess.
public would never understand the president taking a break,” he had
“Really?” The vice president had countered. “Do you believe there is a
member of the human race who hasn’t, at some point, reached a time
wasn’t worth living, only to come back after a break completely
anxious to get back to work?”
Harry Caldwell, Director of the Secret
Service, is charged with arranging for a secret identity and the
dangerous mingling with common men: an event that might compromise his
A chance meeting between a man standing by the side of the road in a
a young man who gives him a ride evolves into not just a friendship,
connection between higher office and public affairs that blossoms over
presidents and Raymond's lifetime.
As good men, poor men, rich men, and
politicians mingle in an unusual series of associations, readers will
find My Friend the President a rich
that adds real-life events such as Orson Welles' dramatic broadcast,
challenged the beliefs and experiences of the common man (
‘I’m speaking from the roof of the Broadcasting Building, New York
City. The bells you hear are ringing to warn the people to evacuate the
the Martians approach. Estimated in last two hours three million people
moved out along the roads to the north... our army is... wiped out...
artillery, air force, everything wiped out. This may be the last
We’ll stay here to the end.’), into the story of a
like no other.
Character goals, ambitions, and dilemmas
spring to life, from car salesman Big Don's struggles and ideals to
Caldwell's ongoing challenges in keeping the president's identity and
secret. Raymond's blossoming friendship with 'Sam' introduces him to
and tests his abilities. And then there's the added angst of a
kidnapping plot by an ex-con who sees an uncommon opportunity: "Mac read the message silently, his
eyes stopping on the last few words.
If my demands are not met, the president will be kilt dead.
signature was still legible. Nugent U. G. Bernard. Mac examined the
closely. “Nice. High Cotton content.”
As Big Don faces the impact of these
confrontations and its effect on his reputation and business efforts, a
stream of humor enhances the story: "The
people here are good folk, but these are hard times and they’ve got
minds. Now, when they pass by and see this crowd of strangers there’s
be talk. Same thing happened when the Feds swooped in and closed the
Coffeyville Savings and Loan a few years ago. Place was crawling with
government. These people going to be looking through the windows and
same thing all over again.” “Hardly,
we’ll be covering all of the windows with paper,” Stanford said, “This
matter of national security, demands privacy, plus the director will
additional wall space for maps to coordinate the search.”
My Friend the President
is folksy, homey, amusing, and filled with down-home dialogue and fun: "You hit him?” Skeeter asked. “Twern’t
tryin to hit them,” he said shaking his head, “but they won’t be comin
He smiled. “Got their car two or three times before they made their
“Didn’t het nobody?” Nug asked again, hopeful. “Winged one of my fryers
It's a romp across America like no other,
and will keep readers involved in a heady blend of fun and
intrigue as Sam, Raymond, and other characters all find themselves in
looking for a
lively, engrossing story filled with not only an unusual, blossoming
but a romp through American class and culture will find My
Friend the President a story hard to put down.
My Way to the
Jonna Amato Ocampo
978-1-945176-64-7 $14.95 Hardcover
On My Way to the
Lilikoi Tree is a multicultural
pairing fun drawings by Rich Olson with the story of a rabbit, turtle,
and two seal pup friends who explore Oahu in search of the lilikoi tree.
receive an inviting, easy picture book that explores the evolution of
friendships during a cooperative venture involving a fabled tree and
various adventures they experience trying to reach it.
current of fun
and discovery runs through this gentle tale. Kids not only overcome
obstacles, but cultivate a sense of teamwork in reaching a shared goal
move through Hawaii's waters and land, appreciating its beauty and the
welcoming atmosphere that surrounds it.
for a gentle read that couches its morals in adventure and fun,
those interested in providing a sense of the colorful atmosphere that
known for, will find this voyage of discovery inviting; especially when
it aloud to the very young.
cuddly animals introduce Hawaiian phrases and terms, young readers
story steeped in the hospitality and color that makes Hawaii the
On My Way to the
Lilikoi Tree is a real treat and
a fine cultural
introduction for the very young.
Savvy Starts It Up
Sasha Ariel Alston
Gold Fern Press
Print: 978-0997135466 $12.99
Ebook: 0997135468 $ 7.99
Savvy Starts It Up provides
middle grade readers
with the fine story of a spunky 12-year-old African-American coder who
honing her skills since age 10. ( See first book in series, Sasha
Loves to Code). Now in middle school, Sasha is used
to employing her
imagination and skills in different ways, and is encouraged to start
this is a predictable move on
given that her mother is a software developer and her father a chef and
entrepreneur himself; but when Sasha ventures into the world of
finds new challenges that test both her skills and ambition.
business isn't just Sasha's
It's a team effort involving family and friends, teaching them new
about start-ups and collaborative efforts.
Ariel Alston incorporates many
insights particular to start-up possibilities in the course of her
adds both depth and practical, educational approaches that will engross
with an appealing story and teach them about basic business efforts: "In
the last ten minutes, the Love Kit team discusses what they will say in
pitch. Their slogan is “Love Kit, one for all.” The first team goes up
their idea. They want to create a club named FAMP for high school
are interested in starting their own business in Fashion, Arts, Music,
Photography industries. The purpose is to provide students with the
to make money by following their dreams while still in school."
drawings peppered throughout add
illustrations to the account.
the story evolves, Sasha learns new
about more than business as they head towards a launch and she learns
what she can and can't handle. The ongoing support of her parents, who
encourage her creativity and problem-solving and discuss the many
she faces during business development, is especially nicely done.
readers who are creative and
engaged in new
possibilities for their lives will relish this moving tale of a girl
hard to make her dreams come true. It's just the ticket for empowering
girls, especially those of color, on their path to becoming more
thinkers, leaders, and achievers.
Lobsters is a fun picture book story for
good reading skills and parents who look for magical stories. It tells
ball of yarn that receives the loving attention of a knitter
makes from it a special pair of lobster socks for her grandchild.
efforts are truly magic, because the socks begin to come alive even
being shipped to her granddaughter.
arrival at their new home, said
immediately begin exhibiting very different personalities. While one
about having to reside on stinky feet, the other springs from the box
enthusiastic about the lovely day and her role in warming feet.
immediately saw the bad in the world and Lola saw the good. Even though
were terribly different, Sebastian and Lola were best friends."
the story line evolves, youngsters receive a fine tale of fantasy,
and different perspectives about the world. This encourages them to
their own views of life and how it affects that world's possibilities.
tragedy strikes, the very
friends must each muster their unique abilities to problem-solve and
Lobsters is heartwarming and fun. The
reflection, and adventure assures that kids from the very young to
picture book readers won't always anticipate its direction. This is a
pleasure in a world of picture book stories that often are all too
in outcome or plot.
positive message of Michelle
Bulriss in Sock
Lobsters is a very much-needed panacea for defeat and
despair, and is
highly recommended reading for all ages.
(especially teen boys, who love sci-fi action and adventure) will find The
Snowy an intriguing tale of four best friends who head out
backcountry ski trip one day, only to face danger when they enter a
why the volcanic area is out of bounds, and it's not just the
steaming vents. Another kind of danger threatens them in the form of a
wormhole that dumps them far from everything familiar, into another
filled with strange creatures and newfound threats.
theme in the story involves desperate parents who try to bring this
adventurers home against impossible odds. Its rare to receive a tale
shifts from the focus of teen experiences to adult concerns over their
disappearance, but this lends an extra depth to events. This keeps the
not just on track and interesting, but replete with added special
fathers Mark and Rob do their best to find out what happened and how to
Sparky meet Tyfoona, Pizella, and Grell, the adventures expand to
concept of a bizarre world that harbors many unknowns and new
kids are ill prepared to tackle.
will find themselves drawn by the characters, atmosphere, and
adventure the group has fallen into. They will welcome an engaging
that sizzles with action as the kids confront snow-filled days, aliens,
possibilities for healing that expand to embrace their own world.
Unconquered Planet: Trouble with Gresslons
978-1-64316-571-4 $19.95 Hardcover/$10.08 Paper
and older who enjoy spunky female protagonists and space opera will
from the Unconquered Planet: Trouble with Gresslons just the
ticket for a
fun adventure surrounding a young girl's mission to save Earth from a
suggested age range runs to age 18, younger teens will be the main
Lily's story, even though many of T.P. Ripley's descriptions are
enough to stand out from the usual casual sci-fi surveys for this age
was no ordinary room, if room was the appropriate word. It was more of
a wet and sticky cavity, a moving cavity, a breathing cavity, a cavity
life of its own. The flesh pink ceiling rose up and down like a great
lungs. The walls were coated with a yellow jelly substance from which
thick folds of cloth-like skin. The entire structure was criss-crossed
purple rubbery tubes . These tubes
throbbed like grotesque veins with sticky
brown fluid pulsating through them."
might eschew the simple color drawings peppered throughout, but many
appreciate descriptions which offer plays on words, such as the name of
Revolta Gressla, who rules over the planet Gresslonathaliaznusswatsit
('Gresslon' for short), populated by some of the most cruel,
in all the universes.
have multiple ears, which they equate to status. They have been made
just by their choices, but by their Queen's leadership. And it's up to
Earth girl Lily to stop them.
whimsy that runs through this story will be apparent to all ages,
likely recognized in all its incarnations by those ages 14 and up. The
adventure itself is surprising, offering many intriguing moments, as
country of Australia tries to give up to the invading Queen, driven by
simpering leadership of one Charlie Doo (nickname: Didgery).
appears to be a space opera for pre-teen readers thus turns out to be
satisfyingly unpredictable, filled with whimsy and satire, and an
story for those who like a sense of irony and the unexpected inserted
alien invasion themes.
powerless against this evil force, or does she have unique resources
her on an equal footing with the strangest and evilest creatures in the
of Lily's exploration of her own abilities and potential is
but it's the tongue-in-cheek humor that will keep readers involved and
laughing. Those who don't necessarily look for a laugh-out-loud
their sci-fi adventures, nor a story that contrasts a young girl's
powers with a world-saving confrontation, will find many happy
this story of courage and unexpected transformations of all the
from Lily and her family to the aliens themselves.
the Top of
Found My Heart Publishing
978-0578741291 $10.75 paper/$.99 Kindle
978-0578786063 $18.00 hardcover
To the Top of
will appeal to teens and new adults who enjoy coming of age stories and
of fifteen-year-old Eric Daniels, who must rebuild his life in a new
a tragedy which follows and haunts him.
Eric has always been fat and subject to
bullying, but this summer, he was determined to lose weight and build a
life. The fire that destroys his family's home changes everything yet
just when he is on the cusp of success, and injects despair and poverty
his family life.
On one level, starting over in Freeport, IL,
in 1993 in a place where he has no history seems appealing. On another,
seems to offer little new, as Eric finds the patterns and limitations
plagued his prior world have followed him into this one.
But as he embarks on escapades with Nate,
discovers girls, accepts secret invitations, and faces accusations of
'charity case' with a druggie mother, Eric also learns how to cope with
family, his old and new friends, and the impact of his responses on the
As his romance with Jen reveals new
heartbreaks that stem from her own hidden angst, Eric better learns how
handle both himself and those around him. A dash of intrigue is added,
the relationship changes which make this story so compelling.
Ryan Standley does an excellent job of
capturing Eric's evolving life and the types of journeys he undertakes
new skills as he exercises his ability to absorb new opportunities. His
presentation of teens who interact with one another and gain new
their future and their place in the world are nicely presented,
Readers of coming of age stories well know
that the best tales survey this growth process from different angles.
To the Top of
ability to portray not just Eric's perceptions and conundrums, but
teens and family members alike, creates a moving account that explores
image, interpersonal relationships, and what is brought from the past
the future when changes take place.
Its beautifully evocative story will keep
all ages engaged to the end, providing yet another twist on the typical
'underdog evolving' theme where the protagonist sees himself as
flawed, but actually is only human.
Society is a group of Victorian demon-worshipping men whose actions
Lucy O'Rourke's life when they killed her twin. At this moment, she is
bereaved and yet believes her family is finally free of the Society's
attentions. There is no simple resolution to her situation, however.
founds she is still on their radar, even more challenges emerge.
creates a compelling story that takes the time to establish atmosphere,
setting, and purpose at the very start, drawing teen readers into the
setting of Victorian London where Lucy resides: "The
nightmare crept in
on a cold October night, just moments before dawn’s attempt to stretch
the thick fog of Lynd’n. It was a typical evening, especially as winter
to settle between the bones of alleys. There were still a few lost
wrapped in heavy cloaks. They wandered along the newly paved street to
down the few hansom cabs still waltzing their lonesome trot. Various
Schkotsland’s Guards casually stepped along the walkways by closed
sleeping flats. The little light that did dare to illuminate came from
cornerstone gas posts, the old Cathedral Bridge that spread across the
River, and the ever-watchful Clock Tower."
her twin's death isn't the only loss that Lucy faces as she confronts
ongoing onslaughts life brings to her remaining family and her life: "Lucy
had lost the one person she could always turn to for help, to be held,
loved and protected. And she didn’t even get to say goodbye."
her own role in the awakening of The Seven and a demonic threat that
efforts of the Top Hat Society pale in comparison, she reluctantly
her own powers with the help of teacher Vann, whose presence changes
will his aid
and her remaining family be enough to confront a pack of savvy, ancient
with determined plans that go far beyond even a talented young girl's
supernatural horror and fantasy will relish this story not just because
trappings of horror and realistic setting, but because Vick's
faces the challenges of her own heart and the consequences of her
actions in the process of coming of age.
joys, and pain are compelling emotional attractions throughout this
process, drawing in young readers with a backdrop of confrontation
hard lessons Lucy must absorb if she (and her world) is to survive.
the story strike a hopeful note about her ability to confront this
force, but explorations of male and female abilities, their roles in
and the process of becoming a mature, life-changing force against all
Top Hat Society a thoroughly engrossing read. The
story holds the door
open for more adventures, yet provides a satisfying conclusion that
young adults involved to the end.
Lurth Worx LLC
9781735570808 $19.95 Paper/$29.95 Hardcover
What Dragons Like features outstanding
color dragon illustrations
that young picture book readers will relish, accompanying a fun review
creatures and experiences that not only dragons but young readers will
dinosaurs, exploring distant lands, going on adventures, climbing into
tropical beaches, and flying high in the sky, among other things.
whimsical adventures that dragons like with absolutely stunning color
translate the written whimsy into lovely images suitable for framing is
exquisite. The lovely artwork sets this book apart from any typical
dragons and their lives.
written for young readers already captivated by the idea of dragons.
capture the sense of fun and imagination of this story, which
competition with 34 fine art paintings by different contributors to
an interactive format that encourages kids to explore their own tastes
fantasy and adventure.
exceptional read-alouds that go beyond the usual child's picture story
represent fine art on every page will find What
Dragons Like is not just a cut above its competitors, but
stands head and
shoulders above any other dragon picture book for young people.
What Dragons Like should be a mainstay
for any collection seeking
either a picture book about dragons or a diverse set of images which
different dragon countenances and varied approaches to depicting them.
What Dragons Like is very, very highly
Heroes Come of Age to Change History
Novels by Tom Durwood
Empire Studies Press
young adult novels by Tom Durwood exemplify
the problem-solving abilities, courage, and fortitude of young people
studies that place different characters both on the cusp of adulthood
and in a
position to change history. Durwood places each of his young adult
in a key position at the cusp of pivotal moments in history.
ability to portray the perspectives and
experiences of ordinary young adults caught in adult affairs and his
to pairing this history with vivid, realistic action keeps all of the
absorbing and hard to put down.
the collection Ulysses S. Grant in China
and Other Stories (978-0999143544, $15.40 Paper/$5.99
Kindle). This pairs
the action-oriented pace that is the hallmark of stories that attract
adult attention with young heroes and heroines who engage with their
beyond singular or individual concerns.
participation in violent confrontations to
choices in being proactive or reacting to unexpected events, Durwood
creating a variety of scenarios that test his young characters'
evolving approaches to life.
exceptional is Durwood's inclusion of notes
that precede each tale, giving each story's historical context and
development as they evolved from a series of drafts of the stories.
provide the background and insights essential for young adults to
not just the underlying history, but how Durwood made choices in
these young people.
the winners in Ulysses S. Grant in China
and Other Stories is 'The Boatman's Daughter', telling of an
girl's battles as the biggest waterway in the world (in its time) is
Salima, the Boatman's daughter,
has arranged for her own future: going to a good school. Her education
helps her father's business, but prepares her for confrontations to
come as she
assesses her place in a changing world and confronts assassins, love,
short story also appears as a longer work, The
Illustrated Boatman's Daughter (978-1952520020, $19.00
Kindle), which enjoys not just the expansion of all its themes and
action, but talented art from Serena Malyon, Niklas Frostgard, and
the short story excels in presenting succinct
action concentrating on one piece of Salima's life, the longer version
and provides further insights into her world and the politics that
influence her life.
title story, 'Ulysses S. Grant in China', is
set in 1877 China and follows the meeting of two remarkable leaders in
A student musical group asked to play for them introduces Joseph, an
boy resented by the others. He finds that his playing and their efforts
the nature of discussions and understandings between early China and
readers of historical fiction will also
relish The Colonials (ASIN: B07Q9YSLGN;
$3.99 Kindle), a survey of
early America that features teen heroes who change the course of
Having teens take matters into their own hands rather than simply
adult forces adds extra depth to a tale that is thoroughly engrossing.
addition to the story that elevates it
beyond a historical recap alone is the presence of mystery and intrigue
into the story of the foundations of the American Revolution.
school, young learners get the idea that the
American Revolution was primarily a concern of the British and the
As this story takes place, the observations and concerns of a group of
regulated to an elite boarding school shows that the battle actually
into global territory, introducing issues of equality and freedom into
than American circles.
would come from Europe to save the Colonials,
who are at a grave disadvantage? The answer is surprising. Teens who
story will find that the American Revolution and its various social and
political influences come alive even in Amsterdam, where Johannes and
observe these struggles and become involved on many different levels of
idealism and confrontation.
action is nicely done, strong characterization
creates a powerful draw, and readers will find this story compelling,
a depth of subject and emotionally charged scenes that bring the issues
1700s to life from the perspectives of young people concerned about
James' Seventh Company (978-0999143520,
Hardcover/$5.99 Kindle) follows a group of teens who embark on a
solve what is going awry in the King's land. King James’ Seventh
only confronts scholarly influences on the production of the King James
but considers the political and social impacts it and they have on the
the result of their actions and choices.
vivid story of the Bible's evolution places
these teens at the crux of decisions that will not only affect their
but lives around the world, for centuries to come.
story of the creation of the King James Bible
version is little-covered, which makes this account even more highly
recommended for choosing a historical event and era that is far less
to most young people than the usual historical novel's backdrop.
prologue that takes place in Wales in 71 A.D.
sets the stage for 1600s events which are narrated in the first person
the era to life.
a borrowed book snafu leads into revelations of
intrigue, mistaken identities, and a plot that involves printers,
politicians and assassins, proactive teens take charge to change their
these novels hold similar basic elements: the
teen characters are strong, responsible, clever, and dedicated to
the wider world around them. They also are all solidly based on
history, yet bring
that history to life through the eyes, senses, and actions of strong
These reads are uniformly gripping and educational, all in one. Pair action and adventure with social issues, political confrontations, and the perceptions of teens effect positive changes for a set of historical stories that should be in the collections of any library looking to illustrate the attraction and power of historical fiction.Young Heroes Come of Age to Change History