December 2021 Review Issue
Literature Mystery & Thrillers
Compass to Vinland
978-1-954614-51-2 $32.95 Hardcover/$16.95 Paper
Compass to Vinland
Compass to Vinland will
appeal to urban fantasy readers from young adult into adult audiences.
follows the adventures of loner Wren Larkin, who finds his life changed
Maria moves to town and befriends him.
Used to being ignored by his father and
bullied by his peers, Wren finds her support unusual and welcome—even
does lead to his involvement in a magical threat.
It's not chance that leads Wren to live in a
strange house that looks like a shoe. There's a magical shoe-making
underneath it. His discovery of this leads to a brush with danger as he
companions flee strange visitors to enter the world of Underfoot and
its many strange
Dani Resh does an excellent job of exploring
magic in an unlikely setting. References to shoes, feet, and a mission
characters to find hope in the Eradicator, who might be able to wake up
abuela...for a price.
As Tristen, Rusty, Maria, and Wren uncover
many new truths about the nature of their world, reality, and the
residents, their journey embraces revised perceptions of their lives: "People didn’t appear and disappear
because they were ghosts, they were simply Vins traveling from one port
All ages will appreciate the blend of
paranormal and fantasy inspection in an epic adventure that melds the
individual desires and perceptions of four disparate teens.
Resh's ability to show each of these young
people try to make sense of an alien world and their place in it (and
makes for satisfying contrasts and plenty of action.
The tension is nicely developed, the magical
components are intriguing, and the adventure spirit never lets up.
The result is an enticing story of the
absurd and the impossible. Compass to
Vinland will delight readers looking for an urban
experience that builds on the evolution of teen relationships and
senses of place and purpose.
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Capital Station Books
ASIN: B099QV8TL6 $5.99 ebook
The Final Decree
blends fantasy and horror genres with a vivid inspection of powerful
Eliezer, who uses the power of a curse to rule his subjects. His
written in stone and his magic allows him to instantly know when
the land have under such an all-powerful ruler? They have Artemisia, a
has been cursed by the king, but who is on the run, somehow having
being turned into a monster for her transgression.
transforms (which is still a real possibility), she will join the ranks
beasts that destroy everything they love. If she doesn't, she may be
hope the kingdom has of defying the powerful rule of Eliezer.
Nasos, a monster hunter who captures her. Rylion well knows Artemisia's
but he also comes to realize her potential. Together, they pool
strengths to organize an overthrow attempt.
attribute of Shami Stovall's story is that it adopts a progression of
that are not entirely linear. Other voices add information and
expand the perceptions and events, as in the section "Interlude-Steen
Callows," which provides the perspective of a follower whose wife has
injured in one of the battles led by Rylion and Artemisia: "It was only a matter of time before we met with a
Rylion and Wulf relied on Artemis to act as their sword, but I still
trust the woman. Sure, she wielded fire. Yet when they had faced two
Lydia had been injured."
different perspectives affects perceptions of outcomes and
possibilities as the
story moves through action-packed scenes and new revelations. It also
a fine series of supporting reflections by Steen, Lydia, Thea
others, which enhance the growing romance and confrontations between
characters and their world.
fast pace that is richly accented by matters of the heart as Artemis
join forces and the Forsaken and the King Killer clash.
an epic fantasy that adeptly weaves psychology with social inspection
occult horror will welcome The Final
Decree's ability to create a fantasy
that rests on an evolving mission and changing perceptions about
rulers, and decrees worth fighting for.
provides a satisfying conclusion that makes it a stand-alone read, it
paves the way for more books in the series. Yes, please!
occult horror collections alike will find that The
Final Decree draws
different readers with its unique, compellingly original voice.
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Ian V. Conrey
Ebook: 978-1-7368806-2-3 $4.99
Ordering link: https://www.amazon.com/Haelends-Ballad-Ian-V-Conrey-ebook/dp/B091BSWD8D
is an epic fantasy that will delight fans of Lord of the Rings
and other works more than lightly steeped in a sense of place and
light read, it's a tale of dark places, dark hearts, and a quest
that joins three unlikely comrades in a world-confronting journey where
choices and impact do not always make them the good guys.
first feature to note is the exquisite sense of place that opens
the story with powerful atmosphere: "Stepping through the
entryway, the smell of sour milk and lantern oil filled Eilívur’s nose.
Sunderian men, clothed in brown leather tunics and jerkins, sat at the
with just about everyone else in Sunder, they looked like poor farmers.
man, with a leathery face, smiled, revealing his toothless gums.
chewed on something, probably tobacco."
Conrey's ability to bring alive this backdrop, injecting three very
different characters whose perspectives of the world work at cross
not only each other, but their own best interests, is part of what
Ballad a compelling force to contend with.
readers who look for satisfyingly complex reads cemented by
history, cultural, and psychological examination will find each flawed
character equally compelling. This succeeds in creating subplots that
ability to stand powerfully on their own, yet interact in unexpected
ways as a
militia man, an abused teen, and a mother accused of murder each find
themselves in an unexpected dance with fate and each other.
defining moment describes appearances, but also equally applies to
matters of changing hearts as experience and new revelations change
characters: “They must feel like true Daecish lords now,”
said a young
soldier standing next to Eilívur. “I’m sure they do,” he said. “But
wear does not define who you are.”
shadow which enters these people changes their perceptions,
intentions, and interactions: "He was different now. Ever
shadow entered him, he had a new strength and saw things from a
perspective." As each struggles with their choice to accept
beyond their ability to properly assess, readers are treated to a
saga that closely examines the results of good intentions gone awry.
spiritual reflections that affect these choices are also very
nicely done: “Don’t you ever get frustrated at your god for
making you go
through all of this? I mean, wouldn’t he want to stop it if he loved
these multifaceted stories coalesce to become a powerful inspection
of moral, ethical, and spiritual paths, readers receive a fine story
embraces and contrasts dark appetites, terrible memories, and beauty
lingers in the mind as it explores the end of one life and the
beginning of another. Its complex saga of adversity, forgiveness and
possibilities will delight readers looking for more than a light
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in the Time of Wormholes
Jess K. Hardy
Mystic Owl/Owl City Press
Time of Wormholes operates on the edge of sci-fi and romance, as
demonstrated by a steamy cover that's more often associated with
Jeka ("Sunny") is an interstellar
businesswoman whose pleasure cruise among the stars attracts a diverse
clientele of aliens. Her main charge is keeping them happy. Her
concern is not becoming romantically involved with any of them.
objectives are thwarted when a former one-night stand joins her
crew with romance in mind, wooing her when he's not on duty in a manner
challenges her self-imposed rules and the ship's decorum.
life is further complicated when a hostile species chooses her
vessel for their holiday, endangering not just everyone on board, but
many romances do, Love in the Time of Wormholes
the sordid aftermath of a night with an alien that Sunny doesn't
remember: "Scratching his chest between his stunning
said, “Argos makes a strong drink. Do not feel ashamed.” “Did we…? Did
Sunny gulped. He shook his head, rueful. “We did not join. We were not
of each other.” A profound relief buckled her knees. Worthy, on
males tended to outweigh females by one hundred kilos or more—referred
way body parts might or might not fit together between two partners.
offered a silent prayer of thanks to the sweet gods of fermentation who
blessed her with complete amnesia of the evaluation of said worth.
dear man.” She clicked her tongue. “Anatomy strikes again, eh?”
this point, it should be evident that one of the delights of Love
in the Time of Wormholes is its wry sense of humor, which
life and evolving challenges with an attention to whimsical reflection.
drinking, sex, and the perils of various associations intersect,
sci-fi readers who also like romances will find the story sports the
exceptional ability to weave between relationships and broader
this is because Jess K. Hardy employs a lyrical touch to her
descriptions to bring her characters and their emotional dilemmas to
way Sunny felt, wrapped inside the senator’s embrace, sharing tears
another mother, it wasn’t fear or pity or despair. It was love, just
made her wonder why she’d been keeping this pain to herself for so
then, like the anchor that had been weighing down her heart gave the
final tug before it snapped free..."
will enjoy the capable yet bawdy Sunny and her milieu, the
unusual specter of a pleasure trip amongst the stars gone awry, and the
sexual, and political challenges that threaten more than individual
and Freddie find their worlds turned upside down and their
assumptions and expectations tested. Usually, romantic choices affect
individuals alone. This time, they could change the balance of power in
rare to see a steamy romance folded into a serious sci-fi
adventure, tempered by an escapade that draws all the characters into
world-challenging and changing scenarios. The dance between genres is
done. Akin to a ballet that dances between subjects and emotions, it
the unexpected and draws readers with a sassy, zany, often
story that excels in mercurial changes and unexpected developments both
emotional and political.
looking for something different in either romance or sci-fi
will find Love in the Time of Wormholes more than
fits the bill for a
romp through space and desire.
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A.K. Frailey Books
978-1732395206 $14.95 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
will delight readers of alien invasion sci-fi works with its story of
space visitors to OldEarth; and Aram, Ishtar, and others who lead
lives on the young planet.
Clan of the Cave Bear mixed with extraterrestrial
perspectives and influences for a sense of the unique approach A.K.
cultivates as the story unfolds to juxtapose old worlds with futuristic
an Ingoti trading vessel on an intercept course with Earth changes
perspectives about the planet's future, readers receive a introductory
into the events destined to connect the very different races sooner
always pays. But, does it? As magical abilities, powerful
desires, and portents of the future change OldEarth, humans and aliens
adopt new responsibilities as their lives intersect.
the rigors of the guardianship role to confronting evil in its
different incarnations, OldEarth ARAM Encounter
romps through warriors'
lives, good fights, and clans that take risks to fulfill destinies.
Frailey moves through these various clans and their changing worlds,
quests, confrontations, and questions keep their stories and encounters
are a host of earthly and alien characters and special interests
at play in OldEarth ARAM Encounter, which make it
more complex and
thought-provoking than your usual alien/human encounter. These
of purpose and place may stymie those who anticipated a linear,
production, but will delight readers who look for originality and plots
are anything but staid.
obsessions with gods to visions of a different future, Frailey
provides a story that considers the sources of evil, good, and evolving
is more than another alien invasion story. It's an inspection of
budding ideals and values that charts a course through turmoil to find
that brings peace and resolution to a world, and will prove a
for sci-fi fans looking for more than a series of confrontations from
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ASIN: B09H4QWC91 $5.99 ebook
Dystopian sci-fi readers will find Rewired
a satisfying sequel to Chipless. It
continues the story of Kal,
who is now chipless and determined to expose the forces that hold The
citizens under thrall.
Amber, too, is motivated to join this quest
because she plans on rescuing her father from the High Professor's
Her days with Kal taught her a different kind of truth—one that paints
different picture of High Professor Alvin, who perfected the chip
every citizen’s brain on their first birthday to control them and
City runs in a predictable, orderly way.
From the moment Kal's chip first
malfunctioned and revealed the desolate truth about the physical and
psychological world, he's been on a mission to reveal the real threat
the story progresses, readers are treated to ongoing ethical and
moral concerns about the vision of this new society and its impact: “Understanding
the difference between us and City people is not easy,” she said,
question. “The society they live in is not based on free will but on a
distorted conception of what is good for the individual. All choices
for them, even the smallest ones..."
a group of ex-chipped independent thinkers change the dying course
the story moves through disparate groups and realms, Kfir
Luzzatto creates excellent contrasts between different worlds.
attacks, rescues, and parting gifts challenge the characters to not
but grow from their discoveries in new ways.
Kal's journey to become a free man brings
him full circle in an unexpected manner that will delight readers who
fully fathom the impact of his decisions until the end.
Beware of what you fight...it's what you
is a delightful companion to Chipless,
best absorbed by prior fans who will find the continuing social
conundrum to be thoroughly engrossing.
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The Spell of the Rose
Worlds sounds like it is (or will be) a fantasy
series, but The Spell of the Rose
a story that stands firmly alone with no prior adventures to introduce
will prove immediately absorbing to those who enter Toni Behm's world
The choice between good and evil and the
classic influences upon making that choice are revealed as Fleex
his immediate goals and undertakes bigger-picture spiritual and
reflections on life's meaning and influences.
The story opens with his desire for romance.
It paints a warm picture of the little village of Fogland, located in
valley called Lowland; a melancholy place in eternal fall.
Behm's ability to weave atmospheric
descriptions into his story is evident from the beginning, as is a wry
social and spiritual observation: "Sometimes,
the most curious ones would climb up the slopes of the Mysterious
which surrounded the village, but the thick fog did not allow them to
Autumn melancholy was typical for Fogland, as it was always autumn
villagers, of course, could sow crops during the sunny days of the year
gather them on the cold days, but how exactly that should be done was
by Fog Almighty, who made sure Foglanders did not starve and had, in
almost everything they needed."
Fleex is in love with Fin, but she confesses
to him that she's had a hard time finding joy in life, lately. The
"thing-nobody-speaks-about," a form of amnesia that affects anyone
who enters their land, is lending to her melancholy. Those who do begin
recall their past and share it publicly are taken by the Fog and never
again; but if that past is shared with only one person, its nature
the threat dissolves.
Fin's memory has led to the point where she
no longer feels there's a life for her in the village. Her revelation
Fleex on his own journey away from Fogland, "a
land which you could enter but could not leave. Not on your own. It was
with a purpose. But exactly what that purpose was, none of the locals
As Fleex makes leaps of faith and enters new
realms of possibility, readers embark on a trip that is affected by
lies, and changing judgment. His passage through Book World and other
will delight readers, pairing whimsical fantasy with a
philosophical and spiritual overlay.
As he becomes a hero in the eyes of some and
is seen as a rebel and threat by others, the allusions to religious
history (inspired by ancient Thrace and
lived on the Balkans about two thousand years BC) will
delight those who
want to look at events and stories in a very different light: "While they were marching him to the
western crypt, where they were going to lock him up, Fleex desperately
think of a plan. For a moment, he thought it would be better if he
could at least save all the worlds in that way. His desperation turned
anger. He could not surrender to a lunatic with sandals on his feet and
wreath of twigs on his head, who had decided to become a god!"
From goddesses and road trips to influences
of darkness and light, readers embark on a bewitching mix of mythology,
Bulgarian references, loosely reconstructed ancient history, and a
freedom and meaning that introduces Fleex to a myriad of characters and
Colorful drawings pepper the story, providing
an artistic visual flavor to an adventure as embedded with
wonders as it is replete in social inspection.
Toni Behm's enchanting fantasy may be read
on many levels. It works as an attractive adventure story, a
inspection, a religious commentary, a cultural exploration, and a
myth-based mystery, all in one.
While fantasy readers will be its most
likely audience, The Spell of the Rose is
also (and especially) recommended reading for those who appreciate
bigger-picture thinking and inspections that lead to reflections about
civilization, and the choices involved in changing hearts and minds.
It's rare to find a story that will appeal
beyond a single genre audience, but The
Spell of the Rose is such a creation. Perhaps that's why it
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Where the Rain Cannot Reach
Where the Rain Cannot
opens with an image from "Before": "Through
the thicket lay a crying child. Stuck in time though she
was, the child was no more than three years of age. The child could no
cry for her parents, who she had forgotten long ago, and still she
a future lost far too soon. Just a little thing, with only the missai birds to watch over her, until
a kind hand reached out and awakened her to a new world."
Tair is shown kindness and has been raised
by elves in Mirte, but her sheltered, protected life will not remain
for the rest of her days. At age fourteen, she is no longer a child,
remains alienated from the Elven world around her, by her Human roots.
Racially and socially isolated by her
heritage, Tair embarks on a journey to Domain, the current abode of
where past human inhabitants left a dark legacy behind.
There, she forms new connections with the
almost-alien-seeming Humans of Sossoa and is forced to reconsider not
heritage and uncommon upbringing, but her loyalties and friendships.
Adesina Brown does an outstanding job of
capturing a sense of place and background, bringing to life Tair's
her path through it: "They then
followed the curve of the nearby Dessoa River that stemmed out from
lake. The summer was heat thick as the night deepened and, later,
turned into dawn. Though they relished in the cold, refreshing water
lapsed at their shoes, they were careful not to lose their footing. In
receding darkness, the water was their only guide—along with the rising
and the retreating moon. Tair had been so long without them that they
on a new beauty."
As Tair experiences new realms and ways of
living and interacting, her growth and reactions are captured in a
realistic manner: "As tall and
sprawling as the city had seemed from the outside, it was even bigger
Winding streets with shops and restaurants and pubs, residential areas,
wagons with patrons loaded up on the back—everything felt disorganized
there were clearly rules, unknown to Tair though they were. It was as
everyone wanted to live in
chaos. It became more overwhelming by the second..."
From the repercussions of prejudice,
perception, and love to changing political status that challenge mates
accept one another, Brown captures the heart and soul of characters
confront, break, heal, and move on in different ways.
The emotional and political components added
into the fantasy make for compelling reading.
From training and untraining to the
relentless rain and the unfolding nature of Tair's significance to this
Brown crafts an involving story of a Child of Sossa whose journey
into the presence of the son of King Usnano, Rain Storm, whom she will
kill in order to foster a rebellion that will set the world free.
Is there anywhere the rain in this world
does not reach?
Brown's ability to bring the sense of place
and their characters to life in a vivid, compelling story gives fantasy
a multifaceted, involving tale that's hard to put down as Tair
identity, origins, and involvements.
Where the Rain Cannot
is a riveting tale that deserves a spot in any fantasy or epic
collection. Even though it holds a definitive conclusion, the 'After'
leaves the door open for more. This would be a welcome thought.
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$25.99 Hardcover/$17.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Readers seeking literary blends of visionary
fiction, philosophy, and psychology will find Newer
Testaments a satisfyingly complex novel that defies easy
categorization while embracing elements of these disciplines and more.
A prologue, for example, usually sets the
stage with either present atmosphere or past experience. In this case, Newer Testaments opens with
"Disintegration" and provides the first-person reflection of a
self-proclaimed "Jesus Girl," a nameless individual who faces an
existential twist between instant love and death.
From confrontation with death and love to
slavery and "practicing the art of nothing," the narrator considers
the dissolution of self in staccato moments of exploration and
explosion: "These visions that passed through
I didn’t want to be a soldier of God. I had other plans but my mind
I saw everything false for what it was—all the time. I had to fall on
and start to pray. I said, ‘I’m a creature. I’m a creature. I’m a
may have said some other things. It wasn’t meant to be a chant but it
like a chant. What was the point of it?"
This "short trip to nowhere" sets
the stage for a literary and philosophical inspection that offers a
kaleidoscopic dream world of archetypal images and personas
using a host
of characters both male and female, real and imagined.
From sanity, insanity, and a Facility that
seeks to eject Model Patients from its realm to dreams and realities
between past, present, history, and future possibility, Philip
romp brings with it a powerful associative investigation of self and
invite reader to enter a realm of tragedy and dreams.
Literary readers who appreciate historical,
psychological, and cultural cross-references will find Brunetti's story
is a French New Wave existential inspection of life and spirituality
brings readers on a roller coaster ride through the phenomenology of
Girl and beyond.
Its special brand of allusion won't be for
everyone, but will delight literary audiences who appreciate mercurial
inspections of unfolding dreams and alternate realities.
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If ever there was an appropriate time for
the appearance of a poetry collection rooted in concepts of fracture
recovery, it's now, during a raging major pandemic. That's when such
and words hold their greatest power to deliver messages that
one reason why Sparks and Disperses
feels so powerful.
But, perhaps this
collection would hold equal strength during more peaceful times, as
because Sparks and Disperses cultivates a special
voice and brand of
inspection that is the perfect panacea and inspiration for everyday
during less dramatic times.
Shards of logic,
spiritual reflection, and philosophical insight permeate poems that
soldered with the glitter of possibilities and angst.
captures worlds from spectator as well as participant viewpoints,
these observations with powerful messages that readers will find
they question events, responses, and results: "We didn’t
explosion./But sometimes/don’t you feel tremors?"
If there is any poetry collection which
demonstrates the power of brevity when done right, it's Cohen's work.
word is important. The insights can be amazing, as in "Maybe a Hawk",
which juxtaposes a child's imagination with harsh contemporary reality
social dilemma of gun control: "Last
week, a box of bullets/appeared/beneath a fourth grader’s desk./The
say/it fell from the sky,/or maybe a hawk dropped it."
The poems are diverse, "beautiful, and
sharp." They capture layers of life and psyche that lead to breaking
coming back together, with each poem presenting both a scenario and a
wider-ranging inspection of personal and social struggle.
Sparks and Disperses feels so powerful
because it is a reflection of
modern times that delves into the angst of coming apart and the process
putting life back together to uncover meaning in its processes, against
It's the perfect
poetic reflection of our pandemic times and human nature's ability to
and belongs in any contemporary poetry collection and on the radars of
looking for hard-hitting poems.
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With Me, Wisconsin
Coyote Point Press
$18.99 softcover; $11.99 ebook
short stories in Stay With Me, Wisconsin represent
of Midwest place and are set in small towns and communities across
Steeped in diverse experiences, they coalesce under the flags of family
community as each character grows and changes.
Shelby, in "Doggie Stay." She's a dog trainer who was
married to a deadbeat man. Once she kicked him out, she quickly falls
another...a fact that distresses her mother: “You’re like a
Labrador,” her mother said when she told her about getting married.
having lunch at the Dipsy Diner, Ruff at their feet at an outside
sixties tune Don’t Let Me Down blaring on the outside speaker. The
heat was winding down, just-turning leaves on the trees above them
threatening to drop. “I mean, for God’s sake!” Evvy shoved French fries
her mouth while she spoke, ramping up her volume. “You like every man
smells good! What–he licked your hand and you knew it was love? Why
another short-term relationship falls apart, Shelby is tasked with
finding a warm, enthusiastic man. Her description of her heart's desire
amazingly like a dog...
this piece of love in the making and dog-oriented descriptions
with the powerful voice in "Atotoniclo," which opens with the bang of
observing that "You are just fine–you know you are; you’re
friggin’ fine, for God’s sake–managing, bearing up–you’re absolutely
it. And then one day, you abruptly realize, you most certainly are not.
the day your husband dies, and you are standing next to his bed–home
nothing they can do, the two of you in this box of a Milwaukee
your real home; that was Janesville, a life before this wasting.) He is
disconnected from all of the tubes and beeping objects and screens he
wired to–screens you watched for months on end, like a mesmerizing but
Thursday night movie-of-the-week (red, digital numbers declining or
alerts and alarms going off so often that you came to think they were
the clatter of your own brain)–and then, all at once, you throw your
heavy-heeled boot through the apartment window."
rebellion, anger, and family come together over a death, the
"unraveling" of watching a spouse die and reassessing what remains of
value in life is brought to light in emotionally vigorous passages as
lead to transformation and travel beyond the Midwest, into strange
realms of the heart.
story offers a succinct, diverse portrait of an individual firmly
rooted in Wisconsin, whose life events and choices create an upward
to light by emotionally vigorous passages that travel beyond
the Midwest into the strange, foreign realms of the heart, Stay
Me, Wisconsin crafts a wonderful
journey. Filled with a delicate
sense of place and purpose, its characters work their way inside the
soul, allowing access into delightfully unexpected regions of the
each character finds a way "back to myself" and
to the roots that cemented the foundations of their journeys. Each step
finding a renewed sense of self allows readers to reexamine their own
influences, and roots.
and unexpected in their progression, each piece in Stay With Me,
embraces a sense of place and purpose that carries readers into both
the Wisconsin milieu and the lives and growth of characters who at once
and move beyond these influences.
journey represented in these stories is thought-provoking,
hard-hitting, and filled with bright moments of inspection and
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of Wonder and Astonishment
Sherry Mossafer Rind
Pleasure Boat Studio
The Store-House of Wonder and Astonishment is a unique collection of natural history
poems that capture animal life, wilderness, and journeys that reflect
human and animal relationships. The poem is written as a journal, in
of Antonio Pigafetta.
Rind's science-based consideration of world wonders reflects natural
writers of the past. Thus, such names as Pliny, Aristotle, Saint
Herodotus consider the habits of animals such as magpies, llamas,
science blend in many of these pieces, which trace the evolution of
about different creatures and reflect on their meaning to humanity.
a studied attention to detail and perception. One good example is 'The
of Toads', in which toad folklore is presented: "If
someone offend a toad, she gathers air into her body/and sighs
out that poisoned breath/as near the offending person as she can
has her revenge./If air causes blindness or dizziness, seek the toad."
human and natural history is nicely done. Observations of the
these worlds, the mysteries and myths of nature, and the long-ranging
of these encounters are captured in the chronological journey
which explorers who initially encountered these animal mysteries found
remarkable danger reflected by them: "Declaring
himself a servant of the King of Spain,/the Sultan of Bacchian filled
with cloves./He also gave us beautiful dead birds/of a kind never
The size of thrushes/with small heads and long beaks like crows..."
moves through different experiences in the 1500s age of exploration and
Rind creates a beautiful (and thought-provoking) examination of the
sailors and encounters with the "birds who would bring us Paradise."
section of notes bows to the sources of inspiration that fueled these
offering readers more opportunities to investigate source materials.
The Store-House of Wonder and Astonishment
will likely be considered for collections strong in contemporary
holds value and recommendation for natural history and travel holdings,
perspectives, studied and reasoned contrasts between human experience,
exploration, and encounters with animals, and its thought-provoking,
commentary are astute, evocative considerations of human roots in the
world (which, in modern times, are too often forgotten): "Nothing
then is lost; the vital heat survives in air,
wheat,/cloth, mice, the very clay on which we stand or dig for
generate in every combination, and everything on earth is life."
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From the Liminal
978-1-944521-15-8 $6.99 ebook
gathers fifteen short stories that are firmly
rooted in both realism and humor, and represent a diverse set of
excel in succinct wild rides through opportunities and conundrums alike.
readers who enjoy the unexpected will find these stories both
digestible and thought-provoking.
"When They Come For Me," for one example. Here, the
first-person narrator rails against rules and those who have
"hunted me for decades" because his life's mission is to "wake
people the fuck up."
giving kids a sermon about subliminal advertising to launching a
diatribe on the steps of a county courthouse on a Sunday when people
by don't pause to listen to a word, the narrator (who has been called
more than one time) finds that an encounter with a woman changes
everything—including the nature of his message.
Kruse captures this individual's perspective, passion, and life: "I
fled through the streets of the town, past the ignorant, blind masses
themselves on pancakes and bacon and the endless stream of
pouring out of their phones and televisions, preparing them, like
fattened for the slaughter, for the coming of 'they.' I could hear
footsteps behind me. I knew this was the day."
intriguing contrast is "Goodbye, Bonavento," in which an
old monkey named Bonavento and a little girl, Angela (who has taken the
of her "angel mother" in her father's life), faces a world in which
his organ grinding gig is fading away.
Angela continue the tradition, even though the monkey Bonavento has
been taken away? Kruse excels in portraits that capture the girl's
recreate the appeal of a vanishing attraction: "The happy
halfway over now. The next one is a little sad. The very old Humans
like it but
not the kids. The rich Shamnais parents will be too impatient to stay
The novelty of the organ grinders has worn off, and, unlike the poor
Shamnais, they can afford access to all the wonderful music ever
both species, and to go to the new shows and concerts. I should take
of one of their little ones and start dancing. If
they dance, then the older children might too..."
thought-provoking, and magical, these stories probe the roots
of changing lives and different worlds, providing proof that the power
written word does not need length in order to be outstanding and
diversity and power of these creations results in a collection that
will delight literature readers who want consistently powerful examples
short story form used to its greatest effectiveness. It delights with
hard-hitting messages that linger in the mind long after their reading.
Return to Index
978-1639880768 $15.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
shares poems written over a fifteen-year period during which a
daughter observes her mother's mental demise, offering a special form
that those who struggle with a loved one's mental decline will readily
the introductory poem "Diana, I Remember the Important
Things," which brings to life Diana Howard's mother, "A woman
is kind, forgiving and a little forgetful./A woman who can’t quite tell
anymore/what is true and what is false./A woman who gives more than she
takes." to a series of progressive leaps in which this woman
Howard brings readers into her world and her mother's life.
ability to move through time, juxtaposing past, present, and future
moments, captures experience and emotion in a fragile grasp that brings
into her milieu: "I am 19, home for the summer/snuggled down
sheets/that smell like bleach./I am drenched in a Boone’s Farm
mother’s voice, trilling like a lark,/seeps upward through the porous
floors./There is the fragrant scent/of lilacs on my nightstand./She
From ghosts of fathers in glasses of whiskey to the
autobiographical notes present in both poems and (occasionally) as
notes, Howard's skill at bringing her mother's world and their family
is powerful and revealing whether presented in poem or prose: "My
mother lost my dad when he was 65 and she was 63. She lived alone until
died at the age of 93. She would get teary if Dad was ever mentioned in
conversation. Sometimes she would talk to him. Her confusion broke my
She had lost most memories of him yet saw him in every man she met."
The result gives
voice to the passion of love and the process of letting go to find that
rekindled in different ways through aging and memory challenges.
Winter Solstice will likely appear in collections geared to
contemporary poets, it also deserves a place in any literary library
reflections of family and dementia experiences. Its powerful voice
perspective many similar attempts don't begin to match.
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Blood Brother: A
$16.99 paperback/$5.99 Kindle
Blood Brother: A Memoir details a powerful
search for a missing brother
whose bone marrow could save Susan Keller's life. It combines the
efforts to locate her brother with deep reflections on family ties,
conundrums, and the lengthy process of forgiveness.
While some might
think this memoir is about a genealogical pursuit alone, oncologists
in the medical profession will find Blood Brother
and important as it charts a moral, ethical, and psychological journey
family trauma and considers the special connections of donor and
under life-threatening conditions.
Susan was fifty-five and happily married
when, overnight, she was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood cancer
prompted both hallucinations and questions about mortality and life.
To live, she needed a stem cell transplant
from a blood relative. At that time, her brother Johnny had been
over thirty years, having escaped the violent childhood that Susan also
Her journey to find him and save her life
connects past and present in a tale of not only reaching out to rebuild
family, but understanding how, without cancer, this never would have
Keller also explores social consideration of
life-threatening illness and expensive treatments: "Cancer
and money are not strange bedfellows. Being in the medical
education field, I’ve heard health economists say, with all due respect
disassociation: Death is very cost
effective. A deceased patient is no longer a drain on
health care resources.
It’s the treatment that’s expensive. And as sad as it is, even in these
United States, cancer can have a devastating monetary effect on victims
Susan's family ties, recovery from
dysfunctional family scenarios, and the ethics of medical treatments
her journey provide a satisfying blend of emotional revelation,
humor, and thought-provoking considerations of family and medical
While Blood Brother will be chosen by many who read about
cancer survivors and changed lives, it also is highly recommended for
professionals at all levels, from doctors to nurses and therapists. It
compelling, multifaceted approach to cancer diagnosis, treatment,
most of a second chance at life, and simple ideas for better medical
hospital experiences which patients and doctors can use to improve both
system and their own individual approaches to cancer diagnosis and
Return to Index
DeWitt S. Williams
978-1-09838-457-9 $19.21 Paper/$3.99 ebook
century ago, three black women confronted racism and the white glass
ceiling at Ivy League schools, entering them against all odds to
June of 1921, the first black women to earn PhDs. Breaking
First Ladies of Education chronicles and contrasts these
women's lives and
efforts in a story that has received surprisingly little publicity
modern-day attention to biographies of civil rights pioneers. That's
of the reasons Breaking Barriers deserves a
prominent place on the
shelves of any collection strong in civil rights issues.
stories of Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, Eva B. Dykes, and
Georgiana Rose Simpson are not just portraits in courage, but
how personal perseverance can pave the way for peers and future
Williams notes that "“Firsts”
are trailblazers. They go where no one else has been or thought
to go." One reason why these stories deserve special
attention is the trailblazing process itself. As he reviews each
background, from childhood to adulthood, and considers the
social, and political perspectives that created their drive to succeed
world that would seem impossible to penetrate, he produces an analysis
bridges the gap between personal experience and social change.
issue are more than individual obstacles, but those of educational
accreditation, standards of excellence, and many underlying admittance
that kept black women, in particular, from reaching higher education
on change agents such as church involvements in this process
provide particularly eye-opening discussions of community influences on
educational pursuits. This is especially astute because in many
religious groups, education is not only promoted, but is overseen and
by the religious organization itself.
history includes contrasts between White and Black Adventists and
documents anti-education for black sentiments that evolved from
management: "In this area of Virginia, Blacks and Whites
the same churches. The owners did not like slaves having their own
religious meetings. Personal servants were allowed to sit with their
the pews and in some churches in the rear. 'No guns. No schools. No
learning.' Ninety-nine percent of the slave owners used this as their
Even slaves who worked in the house shouldn’t have too much education
reflections and studies mean that while Breaking Barriers
offers three biographical sketches and an in-depth focus on these
lives, it concurrently considers the evolution of inclusive education
U.S. as a whole, following how this revolutionary concept took hold in
course of American history.
times, Breaking Barriers reads with the drama of
other times, it injects letters and source materials into various
If these writings had appeared in italics or with more separation, the
between nonfiction story and source letter might have been more
they still serve to illustrate important points in the development of
and provide invaluable examples of sentiments and processes.
black and white photos of each woman are excellent adjuncts
to their stories, and bring them to life.
it's likely that Breaking Barriers will find its
any American civil rights history or women's issues collection, its
shouldn't be limited to these arenas alone. Ideally, educators
the progress of inclusive education will find it just as eye-opening
important, and will want to see Breaking Barriers
in their libraries, as
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Life in Gray: A Widow’s Journey
WIP Publications, LLC
978-1-7364582-3-5 $9.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Gray: A Widow’s Journey outlines the unexpected journey of a young
widow whose questions begin in the first few paragraphs: "How
did I get
here? How is it possible that I am here helping to
pen an obituary for
my best friend? My thirty-nine-year-old husband,
who was just helping me
get ready to host our first Thanksgiving dinner for the family. What
to my life?"
story doesn't come from an expert on grief, but one who charts her
experience knowing that this can help others newly on the same path.
includes observations that circles of friends to loved ones can also
they offer support: "I am here to tell you when you lose a
one, you do not ever forget; therefore, there is no need to fear
someone. The memory of the lost loved one is never too far away from
brain and hearing the name of that loved one or a happy memory can help
them that that person is still alive in another person's memories,
which is a
Brooke begins her memoir with childhood experiences and how she
came to know her best friend Darwin, whom she eventually would marry.
they grew and moved away from one another and into relationships
with others, the intimacy and friendship formed at an early age was
from Rebecca's mind, cemented by candid letters between them that
remind her of different choices and possibilities until she eventually
them out, despairing that this type of relationship would ever come her
these times after breakups, I would take out the letters that Darwin
written me years ago from bootcamp. Yes, I still had them. I never
them away. I just wanted a man to talk to me that way he had, to spill
his feelings out in the open and not leave me wondering where I stood.
letters held plans two teens had for a future together. Darwin had
give me a future all those years ago. Yet, I walked away. Maybe this
reason my relationships always failed. Nobody could attain the status
held in my mind."
the story moves into her marriage, Darwin's death, and its impact on
her entire family, readers learn from a set of inspections that focus
newfound vulnerability of a single mother with children, the impact of
an irreplaceable soul mate, and how Brooke funneled her despair into
while grieving her loss.
who has not been through the loss of a loved one will find much
food for thought as Brooke reveals her emotions and how she slowly
world. Those who have been through such a loss will find that much will
resonate about Brooke's fears, thoughts, and adaptations.
Gray: A Widow’s Journey emphasizes that this is not a 'process', but
a journey that holds much potential for enlightenment in various ways.
should be on the reading lists of everyone who loves, as well as
those who have lost.
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lived in Saigon during the Tonkin Gulf Incident, the overthrow of Diem,
number of other coup d'etats, experiencing numerous daily Vietcong
attacks against Americans. Perhaps this is why Saigon
is so vividly portrayed.
Its strength comes to life through the eyes of not just a momentary
short-term perspective, but a resident American's long-term experiences.
In the summer of
1962, Pezzullo had just turned 13, and was on his way to Saigon with
The saga opens with a child's eye of the journey and Vietnam's unknown
father says that we’re traveling to Vietnam to fight communism like
kind of disease. But I don’t understand how it infects peoples’ brains
causes them to act like zombies."
initial introduction to Vietnam involves making friends and asking
about their culture, but as his story evolves, his innocence gives way
dangerous associations and threat: "When I tell him the rumor
Vietnamese generals are planning a coup, his ears perk up.
“Who told you that?” he asks, closing the door.
“Is it true?”
He stares at me with penetrating eyes and asks again, stronger, “Where’d you hear that, Michael?”
“Nobody told me. It’s a feeling I have.”
“A what?” he asks.
“An intuition?” he repeats in a mocking tone. “Do you think for one minute that any serious person would put the slightest bit of credence into the imagination of a thirteen-year-old boy?”
As he comes of
age and romance and peer relationships change, so does Saigon and
culture and daily living.
All these are narrated from the point of view of a young man on the cusp of his own changes as a coup d’état affects his life.
More so than most
stories about Vietnam, Pezzullo holds the ability to follow a young man
finds himself embroiled in adult concerns that change his life while he
explores an evolving cultural milieu around him.
Saigon's world is
undergoing transformation, and as rapidly as he comes to understand it,
facets send it and his life in another direction.
As an American
son's involvement changes his father's perceptions of choices and their
readers are drawn into the overthrow of a country in a personal way
to life under the young man's eyes and unique role as an American teen
navigating a foreign land.
Readers who would
absorb the politics, culture, and family struggles that this
with it will find Saigon a standout because of its
ability to not just personalize
the political and cultural struggles of the Vietnamese people, but
these changes through the eyes of a young man just beginning to explore
impact on the world around him.
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Third Time at
Third Time at Bat comes from an actress and artist who tells
of two past abusive marriage choices. This sets the stage for a final
(successful) relationship, which will especially appeal to women
their own processes of interpersonal relationship assessments and
lessons absorbed, about the ideals of a love relationship, to affairs,
alcoholism, and abuse, Leigh Davis moves readers through the stormy
and outcomes of her relationships and the situations, choices, and
that led to two failed marriages.
educate different readers, from those young enough to be just embarking
their own love lives to others who may have failed relationships behind
and who look to mates to make them whole again.
kinds of lessons are imparted in this memoir through the course of its
interactions and experiences. Readers will appreciate the inclusion of
theological as well as psychological inspections that collect and
nuggets of wisdom.
around her find and experience love and peace to how Davis navigates
that lead to her own stronger life and lessons, Third
Time at Bat is just the kind of personal inspection one can
One of the most
intriguing aspects of this story is how Davis keeps coming up against
differing belief systems and perceptions that contrast heavily with her
values: "It was apparent their
denial was the Great Wall of China that I was slamming against."
The allusions to baseball that permeate the
narrative help readers navigate its shifts and changes, cementing
ultimately lead to home runs.
The result is a study in perception,
emotion, and interpersonal dialogues between adults, children, and
lovers that will intrigue anyone who wants to more closely examine
what makes for a strong, lasting relationship.
Going to bat for others means that, to be
most effective, you have to be willing to understand and go to bat for yourself. Davis offers these experiences
to any who would "Be brave enough to open the doors by yourself."
Third Time at Bat belongs in any memoir or psychology holding strong in interpersonal relationships, marriage, or self-help.Third Time at Bat
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Mystery & Thrillers
979-8726189505 $7.99 Paper/$1.99 ebook
is a rollicking road trip of a thriller that tells of Nicole's journey
Mexico. There, she looks forward to a place where there "will be more
enough room for her body and spirit," away from her on/off affair with
She has no definite goals in mind and just
longs for a blend of adventure and respite, but what evolves is more
sandy romance on the beaches of Acupulco. Nicole falls into a chance
encounter that evolves into ongoing brushes with death.
Perhaps her sojourn produces more than she'd
hoped for, on many levels? But, then, Nicole was
ready for something different. Or, so she'd thought.
Wade Stevenson does an excellent job of
portraying the mishaps and adventures of a leggy brunette who seems
trouble even as she questions her life's dubious trajectory: "Was this to be the future pattern of
her life, always hurrying to leave as if to catch a train? Except there
Readers might not anticipate the sense of
humor that underlies some of Nicole's encounters (such as a rubber
harbors a Molotov cocktail), but Stevenson includes these ironic
intrigue and tension as his story evolves, injecting a delightful
tickle of fun
into the story.
As Nicole lives a new life of "totally
unexpected adventure," she learns lessons from Bobby, a woman who
(to her mind) the "new woman" who is tough, independent, and embraces
life to its fullest—a blonde, lusty buddy that Nicole has difficulty
back from danger.
The result is a suspense story especially
recommended for women who like their tales of friendship and adversity
on powerful characters. Their diversity and differences accent a
different approaches to life as well as adversity.
This audience will find Acapulco
Double-Cross a fine inspection of the different lives of
men and women who come together in a milieu that tests their
abilities, and futures. The blend of romance and action will delight
look for both, in equally powerful doses.
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Henry Wyatt Parr
978-1639880096 $18.99 paper/$7.99 ebook
is the first book in a series that mingles a detective thriller with a
literary inspection of madness. It opens with the image of a wandering
reflections on death as he scribbles in his notebook and mourns what
lost: the love of his life.
does this milieu have to do with the investigations of determined
Boston attorney Whitney Horowitz? Plenty; because she's adopting
to face her own loss while at the same time unraveling the strings of a
situation which may hold its roots in a wide-ranging conspiracy.
love, loss, and legal ties between disparate characters coalesce,
Henry Wyatt Parr creates an involving story packed with character
satisfying twists and turns of plot, and unexpected moments that even
thriller and mystery readers won't see coming.
is especially adept at capturing atmospheric details that resonate
with readers and give relief to the action components, fleshing out the
story with a sense of place and interpersonal relationships that
realistic sense of progression as the events unfold: “This is
sound stupid, but you ever out on a call at night and see the city
everything and think, ‘this is my city?’” he asked, looking over at
“Yeah, I think I’ve felt like that before. Cheesy, but yeah,” she
looking out the passenger side window absentmindedly. She let silence
Fuller, weary as he was, didn’t mind. And he knew it was just part of
personality—she was self-assured and confident, indifferent to what
around her to the point of seeming unaware at times. She was
comfortable in quiet
where others would be uneasy. She seemed born for silence."
is just the right degree of mystery, personal reflection, and
sense of place woven into the story to keep it a multifaceted
feels realistic and engrossing on many different levels.
seeking a literary thriller investigation that goes beyond
nonstop action and intrigue to immerse them in a variety of characters'
will find Around the Edges an excellent probe of
not only discovering a
murderer's identity, but probing matters of the heart.
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Blood Before Dawn
Daniel V. Meier, Jr.
978-1952782350 $16.95 Paper/$7.49 Kindle
Volume 2 of the Dung Beetles of Liberia
series, Blood Before Dawn, will
be enjoyed by prior readers who appreciated Volume 1's political and
adventure. This grounding will provide immediate access to the riveting
of events that opens here with a bang: "I’d
always known that one could get into trouble just standing on a street
but never like this."
It's 1979. Ken Verrier and his wife Sam are
returning to Liberia to buy diamonds in an effort to raise some quick
cash, but become caught up in political struggles as a coup overthrows
Tolbert presidency and threatens their lives.
Ken becomes involved in the conflict and
taps CIA agents and past friends for the truth, uncovering subterfuge
and drug smuggling. His effort to stop them will require and test all
special skills and knowledge.
As danger escalates from all sides, Ken and
Sam become embroiled in a series of confrontations that challenge their
to survive, make the right choices, and come home together, in one
Once again, Daniel V. Meier, Jr. provides a
riveting, fast-paced adventure that holds its roots in real-life events
keeping the characters and action vivid.
Meier employs the first-person perspective
and alternates seamlessly with the third person omniscient point of
bring all these elements into an immediate emotional realm, yet
attention to historical detail. Unfolding events make the story
semi-autobiographical, semi-historical, and nicely steeped in drama.
On the cusp of completing his mission in
Liberia, diamonds in hand and the West African Air Service returned to
profitable status, betrayal and a twist keep Sam and Ken involved and
The blend of family interactions and a
joyful confession immediately backed by new threats keeps suspense
readers will be especially pleased at how Meier teases the emotional
tension with back-to-back conflicting emotions.
Every bit as riveting as The
Dung Beetles of Liberia, Blood
Before Dawn represents a
captivating exploration of African political and social processes
wrapped in a
layer of intrigue designed to delight thriller audiences looking for
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Paul Donsbach and Alia Sina
$19.99 Paper/$29.99 Hardcover/$9.99 ebook
in the Knights of the Lost Temple series, The
Bronze Scroll, will attract adventure readers who like
action combined with romance and crime investigation. High-profile,
investigative attorney Sam Romero has resolved many corporate crime
situations, uncovering evidence in the most impossible circumstances.
Pursuing a treasure map, a rogue corporate
executive who kidnaps an Israeli journalist, and a murder in Israel all
somewhat out of his comfort zone, but Sam is motivated to lend a hand
the beautiful reporter. Her salvation depends on his uncovering clues
deeper mystery that goes beyond fingering or capturing corporate perps,
into hidden treasures and a Temple scroll's message.
and Alia Sina excel in an action-infused story that also includes
components as Sam taps not only his investigative skills, but his
spiritual wellspring of strength.
Rebecca's relationship becomes deeper as events unfold, while the
backdrop powers a compelling story: “Jason
and Steve took me to a traveling exhibit at the Getty about this bronze
It’s usually referred to as the Copper Scroll because that’s what the
scientists thought it was made of when it was discovered in the 1950s.
was finally tested, it turned out to be ninety-nine percent copper and
percent tin. So it’s a man-made alloy but with only a trivial amount of
Normally, bronze is ten or twenty percent tin, which makes this alloy
and more resilient than pure copper. But since this scroll was only one
tin, that means that the tin was added only for symbolic purposes.”
Like what?” Dawn asked. “Like giving an antiwar speech in front of the
Gate to the Jerusalem Temple, after the Jewish revolt of the year 66
out,” Sam replied. “The speaker wanted a powerful metaphor made of
remind his audience of the spiritual meaning of the bronze that was
used at the
Jerusalem Temple at that time.”
metaphors, too many surprises, and law enforcement conundrums rise,
treated to a story that exudes action on many levels, from
spiritual entanglements to political, social, and historical intrigue.
accept the realities of his profession while thinking outside the box
a special dilemma that proves both personal and professional makes for
that injects realistic elements to keep suspense and believability
high: "It may sound innocuous, but
the bar association tightly regulates attorney activities. Like most
bureaucrats, the bar officials would probably split the difference
do the work necessary to figure out what had actually happened. That
easy path that public officials often followed, making these kinds of
inherently damaging for everyone involved."
The DaVinci Code, blended with the
pace and ancient mystery of an Indiana Jones production. Then add a
dose of romantic entanglement to the action, for a sense of how
rich The Bronze Scroll feels.
strong in action and adventure fiction that toes the line between
mystery, legal thriller, and political inspection will find The Bronze Scroll nearly impossible to
put down—or predict.
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Ottawa Press and Publishing
adds the 11th volume to the Sergeant Winston Windflower mystery series
Canada. It takes place as a pandemic is ending and his small
is experiencing unprecedented murders.
It's a far cry from the marijuana safety
checks and other small-town issues Windflower is used to dealing with;
especially since the murders bring a sinister and bigger picture into
which threatens its peace of mind and makes Windflower the unwitting
Windflower is just trying to raise his
family and do his job. The job description, however, has just expanded
include not just murder, but a whirlwind of controversy that threatens
small town environment and Windflower's own world.
As in the previous Windflower stories, Mike
Martin takes the time to inject Windflower's personal life into the
This concurrent focus on family affairs creates a three-dimensional
who has more on his mind than problem-solving at work, making for a
will appeal beyond the usual murder mystery audience.
Windflower and his wife Sheila have two
kids: two-and-a-half-year-old Amelia Louise and five-year-old Stella,
who they are
in the final stages of adopting. So, Windflower has much to lose and
fight for as his latest case edges into his personal life to provide
Part of the reason why Martin's stories are
so vivid is that they give equal time to personal life's evolution and
The investigator's ability to simultaneously navigate a puzzle and his
enhances an involving story that operates on different levels; not just
a murder mystery.
Add political ramifications and small-town
living to the mix, then wrap all in an overlay of ancestral teachings
dreams for a spellbinding probe that represents more than a whodunit
alone: "Something about that last comment
struck Windflower like a lightning bolt. That’s it, he thought. There
many parts of the job that I just don’t want in my life or in my head
Newcomers to Windflower will find this
stand-alone story easily accessible and thoroughly absorbing, while
enthusiasts receive another Windflower mystery that furthers both his
professional abilities and his personal life in a small town that's
embracing big-city problems.
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Four Reasons to Die
Epiphany's Flame, L.L.C.
ASIN: B09G8JVYMB $4.99 Kindle
The fourth book in the Pastor Matt
Hayden mystery series, Four Reasons
to Die, introduces the former-cop-turned-pastor to a new
threat when a
benediction request made by his governor friend results in a tangled
political and religious special interests surrounding a missing
nobody seems concerned about.
Matt is reluctant to get involved, even
though he senses something is deeply wrong. He's still recovering from
brush with death, and the last thing he needs is a new case.
When Reverand Duff's assistant is found
dead, Matt's investigation brings into question deeply held memories
challenge him on more than one level: "The
prayer had gone well. It was Reverend Meade’s parting words that had
set him on
the downward spiral: I know who you
are. I know what you’re trying to do."
As Matt, his beau Angie (who owns Fire and
Icehouse, across the river from his church), and personal and spiritual
struggles with sorrow move to the forefront during the course of the
investigation, the murder mystery becomes a social, political, and
probe that adds thought-provoking elements into the story.
Injustice brings with it renewed resolve and
fury as Matt edges closer to answers that involve Shelly Duff and other
members, as well as his own incomplete struggles and pain.
The blends of police procedural and
religious and social inspection are especially well balanced and nicely
and will delight readers interested in a mystery that moves beyond the
From the politics of a pulpit war between
mega-churches to the specter of a national power grab and families
the middle of too many battles, Four
Reasons to Die presents many clashing perspectives that will
on more than a singular mystery level.
From Angie's renewed insights about Matt and
why she so loves him to Matt's troubling revelations, Four
Reasons to Die crafts superb characters and moral, ethical,
and religious conundrums to keep readers involved.
One might think that the fourth book in a
series would rest on the shoulders of its predecessors and require
prior events. Yes and no. It does support the ongoing evolution of
and their world. But, it requires no prior familiarity to be accessible
thoroughly engrossing to newcomers.
This comes with a caveat, however: readers
who enjoy this latest action-packed mystery will
want to pursue Matt's past experiences for a fuller flavor of his
processes and evolution.
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Freeze Before Burning
978-0-9995487-6-9 $14.95 Paper/$3.99 ebook
Freeze Before Burning adds
another book to the Sam Tate mystery series. It opens with Ed Rizzo's
“Forgive me, Father,” he intoned, “for I
have sinned, although I’m pretty sure God will cut me some slack even
wife won’t, if you take my meaning.”
When he receives no response from the other
side of the confessional, Ed investigates, only to find the red-hot
body of the
Sam, now a Maryland county lieutenant
visiting family in New York City, is pulled onto a case that is
the usual. A clever serial killer whose dramatic modus operandi rests
scandal and clever tactical moves is targeting true crime fans.
Sam is operating in territory both familiar
and alienating. It's hard for her to believe that life might again be
after the pandemic sparked an uptick in homicides that stretched her
Added to the challenge is a flirty new love
interest that holds the hope of keeping Sam better engaged in the
even if the person of interest "doesn't know what he wants in the love
As in the other Sam Tate mysteries, Nikki
Stern is especially adept at juxtaposing Sam's personal conundrums with
professional challenges. The added value of an evolving emotional
others and the growth experiences offered by crime problem-solving
keep the story firmly rooted in psychological transformation as well as
whodunit twists and turns. Both are wrapped in a contemporary overlay
and confusion that will make the proceedings more than recognizable to
fans: “I guess, between COVID-related
isolation and my many unresolved issues, I’ve become a little
what I want."
The introduction of an antagonistic NYPD
detective named Chloe Nichols throws Sam for a loop, especially because
treats the older woman as a problem to be solved. Readers also gain an
intriguing perspective on interpersonal relationships that evolve on
levels of mystery and complexity.
Stern crafts another Sam Tate story that
serves nicely as a series addition and, for newcomers, as a stand-alone
steeped in intrigue and social and political inspections. All these
Sam's heart in an ongoing manner that involves Sam socially,
psychologically, in a deadly series of events.
Mystery readers are in for a real treat!
Return to Index
A. J. Thibault
$24.95 Hardcover/$19.99 Paper/$.99 Kindle
It's hard to
easily peg the audience of Ghost Town because it
holds a special mix of
Western, thriller, and paranormal elements that keep it an intriguing
all three genre readers as well as those who look for exceptional reads
defy simple categorization.
There are ghosts
and a ghost town. There are military encounters and backdrops. Combine
with eerie paranormal encounters, then add a heavy dose of suspense
surprising move from modern to Western times. These are just a few of
devices that combine to create a story that is as compelling as it is
The story pulls
readers in from the first paragraph: "V.M. Moodbain was about
the door to the study when he heard voices shouting in a Russian
the oak-paneled chamber. He couldn’t make out what they were saying,
Richard Hart is about to meet the famous Moodbain, but something goes
instead he is transported to a ghost town 100 years in the past, where
battles ghostly figures and tries to figure out a way back to his own
Hart is trained
to be a survivor. But he hasn't been trained to be a time traveler or a
figure. What he does have going for him, ironically, is the very
that has proved destructive in his marriage: "He and Barbara
apart by the steel arm of a misplaced balance like two figurines on a
table gripped in mutual bondage that never allowed them to be together
resisted their efforts to break apart. Never having resolved his
dilemma with women made Richard Hart feel incapable of sorting out some
tangled webs in his life. Yet this unsettling dynamic worked in his
because it forced him to believe that anything he set his mind to, he
This force is why
he always challenged himself with impossible assignments in his job. It
the sole reason why he survives this impossible new position.
A. J. Thibault
does an exceptional job in weaving together high-octane suspense and
dilemmas of a time-traveling agent who finds his flexibility and
tested by an alien milieu that strands him in time.
Hart's ability to
navigate a world that doesn't abide by the same rules he's been used to
life and his involvement with Erica Burns, who also looks to escape
(but in a different way), makes for a thriller that is hauntingly and
Readers who enjoy
the blend of paranormal experience and the nonstop action of an
thriller will find the perfect formula for engrossing reading in Ghost
Can Hart ever go back? His desire to turn back time proves a challenge
ways than one.
find Ghost Town a shelving challenge. The solution
is to acquire several
copies and file them under 'thriller', 'paranormal', and 'Western'.
from all these genres who look for original writings and vivid stories
Ghost Town hard to put down.
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Medical thriller readers will find Ill
Intent a powerful saga that opens
with a letter confessing "a sin against science and truth." The
confession was made by Ellen Turner's dying uncle. And his admonition
a secret forty years in the keeping will destroy lives. Including her
Mentor Carolyn Gelman didn't expect death
and danger to stalk her when she accepted Ellen's plea to get together.
when her friend is murdered before they can meet, her secret left
Carolyn embarks on a dangerous investigation of her own not just
their friendship, but because Ellen managed to convey that her uncle's
would shake their research field. And the threat is only beginning.
As Carolyn, Professor Brad Parker, and FBI
Special Agent Karen Richmond probe the scientific community's inner
secrets, a host of complex interactions between peer reviewers,
papers, experiments, and individuals who have vested interests in
outcomes collide in a riveting thriller story.
As readers absorb the nature of the secret,
the threat, and its potential impact on not just science but society
they receive a gripping account that moves from Carolyn's dual desire
closure and information to a series of decisions about love and life
Brad and Karen closer to each other as well as danger.
Geoffrey M. Cooper is masterful at creating
a plot that simmers with changing relationships between investigators,
experimenters, and scientists. As all are challenged by the mysterious
that threatens to expose everything, each character steps up to make
that adjust their attitudes and ideas about their goals, jobs, and
The changing viewpoints need some chapter
heading clarification to prove seamless, but readers will appreciate
different first-person inspections add contrasting dimensions to the
keep it fast-paced, personal, and involving.
The shifting landscape between Maine and
Boston and the developing issues that result from decisions to change
structures and individual objectives makes for an involving,
focus on moral and ethical conundrums, its dash of romance, and its
keep the action on track and varying creates a medical thriller that is
rooted in psychological interactions and unexpected developments.
Medical thriller readers can expect a treat
with the depth and many surprises in Ill
Return to Index
978-1-64599-284-4 $16.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Fans of Matt
Cost's prior Goff Langdon's 'Mainely' mystery series will relish the
of another standalone story of intrigue, Mainely Angst.
The pandemic has
affected both Langdon's bookstore, which is suffering from lack of
and pandemic restrictions, and his PI business (because fewer people
getting into the kinds of trouble that require his services).
Typical of life,
a challenge emerges that simultaneously affects both endeavors when his
bookstore reopens at the same time that three major investigations drop
It's all or
nothing. And Langdon discovers that 'nothing' may be preferable, after
the convoluted dilemmas faced by three people: a lobsterman who
wife has been kidnapped, a frantic family trying to save a youngster
hostage by a madman who is trying to subvert the pandemic restrictions
life, and a quest for proof of sexual harassment against a fellow
The pandemic has
caused many to pull away, become distant, or react in unusual ways. As
and those who hire him struggle with their revised lives, Matt Cost
especially good job of injecting the pandemic's affects and milieu as a
backdrop to these seemingly diverse (but somehow interconnected)
investigations: "What was wrong with her, she wondered? It
before her boy had been abducted that this creeping alienation had
life. Was it the pandemic? The polarized politics that dominated the
day had seemingly torn a hole in her soul and filled it with a despair
was unable to escape. Nothing was right with the world. The one thing
she’d felt in quite some time was the abduction of Eddie. For that, she
almost, if not quite, grateful, to feel again, even if it was a pain
that gripped her with an icy claw and even now, made it hard for her to
destroyed by both Covid and restrictions to confrontations that lead
lose his professional cool and get angry about all kinds of
creates a moving story that is as much about the psychological impact
revised social conditions as it is about the terror and conundrums that
community to provide no easy answers.
Langdon is not
immune to angst or the impacts of political decisions. Neither is he
back down from evil or politicians.
As readers follow
him on journeys that weave through disparate lives and special
mysteries become more than another story of perps, leads, and threats.
consider resolution and motivation, make the perps not just believable,
human, and pair confrontation with understanding in a manner that
allows for a
touch of romantic inspection along the way.
twists and thought-provoking considerations keep Mainely Angst
not just on mysteries, but in community interactions, responses, and
Mainely Angst's special relevance to
post-pandemic readers keeps
its concerns contemporary and its mystery especially vivid, which will
genre readers looking for a story firmly rooted in community struggle
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A Mistaken Hostage
978-1-61468-650-7 $8.99 ebook
Dr. Brooks Davidson is
back in San Francisco after having completed a deal with the
president of Egypt. He's just in time to embark on a new romance with
psychologist Sarah Pierce. But, in A
Mistaken Hostage, Egyptian special interests return to haunt
him in an
unexpected manner. Even though they are far from the Middle East, their
continues to prove as powerful as Davidson's influence.
J.F. Foran tackles evolving events not just
from Davidson's perspective, but from the point of view of the
view him as a threat: "What was Davidson’s next move? he
Was he becoming a risk to my position in the government, to my
This provides a satisfying shift of
viewpoints that move between Davidson's political interests and his
affairs to the concerns of those who reach the boiling point in Cairo
some of that fire into Davidson's life.
Minister Omar Sayed's inspection of
Davidson's influence leads to an assessment and a vow that places
the crosshairs of danger: "He sat
with his hands linked behind his head. He knew he had to act, do
disarm Davidson’s influence and undo the damage to his department. He’d
aware of Davidson for some time and knew of his high-level connections
Arab world. What surprised him was that Davidson kept his activities
aboveboard. He did not get involved, as so many foreigners did, in
drugs, arms, or laundered money. The man was too astute to get involved
world. How to get rid of a man with such powerful connections? Sayed
his chair and decided that was his challenge."
From family and legal connections to
political cat-and-mouse games of intrigue, A
Mistaken Hostage draws connections between individuals
into the fabric of relationships between the U.S., Egypt, and their own
As a serious international crime involves
leaders, lackeys, and independent thinkers in a clash of political and
ideals, readers will find the story's attention to Egyptian politics
to be easily accessible even if they have no background in Middle East
or international business interests.
The kidnapping is only one piece of the
action. At play are underlying elements of psychological and political
that will delight thriller readers looking for a story of suspense and
A Mistaken Hostage
belongs in any collection strong in international intrigue. Its
and involving tale of treachery, adversity, and social and economic
will keep readers guessing to the end.
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at the Olympiad
brings American counsel and investigator Amanda Pennyworth to Puerto
Vallarta, where she works with local investigators to uncover a killer
in the murder of a gay American tourist in a sauna.
the line is not only her reputation for problem-solving, but her job
with the Foreign Service; because as she refutes evidence that fingers
boy as the murderer, she inadvertently opens a bigger can of worms that
revolves around the identity of the real perp, and his political powers.
story opens at the scene of the crime, where the cleanup crew faces
more than the usual sauna disarray. The cleanup men are not detectives,
they know something is seriously wrong when they discover the inert
reposing in the sauna after hours, and cannot awaken him.
Olympiad Sauna is in trouble. And the only one who may be able to
address the problem is the same person who finds herself drawn deeper
a Consulate official, Amanda becomes involved early in the case. A
murder would be a welcome diversion from the paperwork she usually
during the course of her job. It also leads her to be cautious about
assumptions that hold political ramifications: "If it was
serious, she would have to be careful; her relations with the
been strained at best. If only Captain Morelos of the Tourist Police
been transferred back to Oaxaca several months ago, everything would be
State Department frowns upon entanglements with locals...a rule
Amanda has already broken once, via a romance. Now she's about to run
into that rule again—this time, over a murder investigation she is both
ill-equipped and yet in the perfect, unique position to handle.
events unfold, James Gilbert does an excellent job of juxtaposing
the milieu of Mexican culture and the political divides and
between Americans and Mexicans with the whodunit segments of the story.
vow to support her country first takes on a challenging new
meaning when she confronts the aftermath of a murder that is anything
and dried. The political and cultural inspections are as engrossing as
focus on perps that tend to fly under the radar of authority.
satisfying approach is that chapters alternate between Amanda's
processes and those of Mexican locals as they search for the killer and
confront (or overlook) suspects both Mexican and American. This adds
insights to the story that go beyond the singular approach of a savvy
probe to delve into the hearts and minds of Mexican authorities and
creates a concurrent consideration of gay issues and life in
Mexico as he unfolds his story, which is another facet that adds astute
inspection into the picture.
is a murder mystery that embraces social, political, and psychological
tensions between two nations, creating a multifaceted read that is
and gripping on more than one level.
has put into motion dangerous undercurrents that lead her to
question her own motivations, principles, ethics, and whether to keep
the knowledge she's uncovered. Has her perseverance unleashed a force
readers looking for the full flavor of an international affair
that contains the previous Puerto Vallarta background Gilbert employed
books along with a second profile of Amanda Pennyworth's cleverness as
sleuth will find Murder at the Olympiad a
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Kevin G. Chapman
$4.99 (Kindle), $12.99 (paperback), $23.99 (Hardcover)
is a Mike Stoneman murder mystery/thriller that opens in 2019 in South
where Senator Harlan Bushfield's flat tire leads to a deadly encounter,
snowy night. The local cops have no clue as to who could have accosted
killed him. His wife can't even think of anyone who would've wanted to
Meanwhile, in New York, homicide detective
Mike Stoneman and his partner Jason have their hands full. Dr. Michelle
McNeill’s best friend, Rachel, set to marry Jason, has just discovered
unwelcome news. But that's about to be overshadowed by circumstances
her brother Jackie into a murder investigation that lures Mike into
As perspectives about unfolding events shift
between Mike, Rachel, Michelle, and Jason, the wide-ranging story is
satisfying depth and unexpected twists of plot as disparate killings
The killers are making a deadly mistake. Can
Mike and Jason convince them of this before events spiral out of
Kevin G. Chapman creates a mystery thriller
especially strong in its nonstop action and varying character
These elements work together to create a smooth presentation that is so
multifaceted, it seems to hold the potential for confusion. However, it
slips between characters, special interests, and crime so smoothly that
are thoroughly engrossed and intrigued...and not at all perplexed.
It's a pleasure to see a professional woman
(Michelle) contributing her research and savvy to find answers that
and Jason cannot discover. The Las Vegas backdrop that emerges is
unexpected as Mike moves from territory he's familiar with into a
can't begin to describe the events that lead bride and groom down a
path. As Mike works to find answers, he gambles with lives that reach
his friendships and relationships in a manner that injects moral and
concerns into the mystery and action.
result is a
cat-and-mouse game about matters of the heart and detective
alike, which create a story of love, life, and death that will prove
to both prior fans of Mike Stoneman's life and newcomers who arrive at
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978-1-954437-17-3 $13.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
is a contemporary Christian mystery set in the Catskills and tells of
bowler and owner of bowling alley Split City Lanes, Billy Gills, who is
with identifying his twin brother Bo at a morgue. From there, he
determined to uncover the truth about his brother's life.
The story opens with a wry observation
"In bowling, as the old joke goes,
there is never a good time to clean the gutters. Likewise, I suppose,
never a good time to visit the morgue."
This leads to Billy's increasing dilemma as
he probes not only his brother's world, but his connections.
In the typical whodunit mystery environment,
investigators are supported by a cast of friends and professionals who
their abilities. Here, Billy is drawn to investigate the Christian
powered by the "Jesus Spares" church service environment. This
spiritual component to the investigative process will delight Christian
who enjoy mysteries and social examinations that move into religious
relatively rare combination.
The advantage of being Bo's twin opens many
doors into his life that ordinarily would be shut. The benefit of
belief system and community ties that overcome a circumspect sheriff's
investigations into Bo's life and legal difficulties adds intriguing
to the Jesus Spares events that intersect with the evolving mystery.
As the Jesus Spares episode becomes more
deeply connected to Bo's life, Billy uncovers many revelations about
politics, and special interests: "Jesus
Spares had filled Split City with a cacophonous assortment of people.
come from all walks of life, from all races and backgrounds, young and
Partridgeberry, Madaga, and beyond. They’d showed up seeking free food,
bowling, laughter, and fun—and for some, maybe even some measure of
forgiveness. This particular Sunday, there seemed to be plenty of
smiles, and laughter to go around."
Is the small-town and spiritual community
family that connected Bo and Billy and Split City to be trusted?
creates a powerful story of bowling, adversity, small-town politics,
Billy's search for truth and community. Its blend of mystery and social
inspection will delight readers seeking solid psychological stories of
community ties, tempered by surprising twists and turns.
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Robert W. Kirby
$12.18 Paper/$21.66 Hardcover/$2.99 ebook
will appeal to
fans of psychological thrillers. It opens with a foray into the world
Clayton, who is living with his wife in Edinburgh in 2019, but remains
threatened by dreams of his childhood and the initiation rites he
with his group of peers, who changed his life forever.
with intense memory dreams that bring back these past events so
vividly that they threaten his marriage, Alex decides to journey back
roots in Kent, reconnect with the group members, and face his demons
evolves provides a gripping story of torment and tragedy that
reaches from the past to involve his wife Natalie, who is determined to
and dismiss the demons that are trashing her marriage.
is such a thing as repressed memories; even of
are so stark that one would think they would be engrained in the mind
There is also the phenomenon of false memories, as Alex comes to
his rekindled relationships reveal events he has no memory of.
the group investigates, compares, and considers the real truth about
the tests they underwent in the past, the darkness of their initiation
comes back to life in a new, deadly manner.
W. Kirby keeps readers guessing with a story that moves between
thriller, psychological inspection, and the lasting impact of one
tragic day on
all involved (and even those who love them).
consideration of these times comes to life as his story moves
between past and present: "Alex’s heart was thudding as the
his previous encounter here came flooding back. He could almost hear
and curses coming from the boys as they hunted him that grim day. The
had been overwhelming. But he’d not succumbed to them, and he’d fought
escaped, and he’d do whatever was required to repeat that scenario."
too, recalls the depraved course his life took. Gavin still
blames Alex for the outcome of their experiment. All face emotional
game-changing decisions now, in their future world as adults, when they
confront these past decisions.
is especially adept at contrasting the psychological changes and
responses of his characters. Their varied choices and influences on who
became and their current feelings now (or, even their intrinsic ability
process emotions) come to life in a game-changing story that is
firmly centered in a psychological inspection filled with many
who relish stories of uncertain recovery, damaged adults who
return to their childhood milieu for answers and redemption, and
outsiders who are determined not to let the past ruin their future will
Tests a powerful story of recollection, depravity, and
moral and ethical force will remain in the mind long after the final
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The Thresher Ghost is a powerful historical thriller set in 1960s America. It revolves around a cast of characters both real and fictional including a disgraced Los Angeles surgeon, Howard Hughes, the Kennedy family and relationships and events which change everything.
From the opening paragraphs, Spencer Compton excels at outlining evocative scenes connecting the worlds of Jack, Bobby, Marilyn, and other real-life people: ""Do you hear them? They’re cicadas. Listen. It’s so sad. The nymphs are born every seventeen years. They sing to attract their mates. Then they die. Isn’t that beautiful?” He smiled. Every moment with her was a performance."
From Marilyn's not-so-mysterious death (as it's explained in the opening scenes) to doctors, actors, and personalities that move through the 1960s with both familiar history and fictional presentations conjured by Compton, this is a fine examination of how an ordinary man is caught up in murder and danger.
Compton creates a wide cast of characters and places them in environments that test their perceptions, prejudices, and objectives.
As Dr. Wiley McCoy finds himself immersed ever deeper in an intriguing world beyond his medical training, this milieu comes to life through various characters' eyes. References to music stream through many of their encounters. Circumstances surrounding the lost American nuclear submarine Thresher move through these scenarios and create a focal point of intrigue as McCoy's antagonist Romulo, a scientific adventurer, selects American malcontent Lee Harvey Oswald for an extraordinary mission. Meanwhile, McCoy embarks on life aboard the newly retrofitted Thresher, whose journey connects Romulo and McCoy in unusual ways.
From the cultural milieu of Haiti to a dangerous dictator's murderous confrontations; intrigue, politics, and personal ambition create an absorbing interplay between characters in a story that moves far beyond Kennedy's assassination into international waters and political motivations.
Compton's novel is complex and involving. Readers of
historical thrillers will find its roots in facts and its
connections and people to be engrossing, mercurial, and hard to put
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is crime writing fiction at its best, mingling social and political
commentary with a murder mystery centered in Texas, where black
Billy Graham, who works at a refinery, is found dead in an abandoned
attorney Dan Esperson never expected a murder investigation to
be part of his routine company consultations, but as he's drawn into a
that fingers company employees as the perps, his involvement takes a
turn as he becomes a target.
one reason why What Seems True feels so realistic
that it's based on a real-world event that took place in 1979. Another
is because of the way James Garrison crafts his fictionalized story,
with first-person reflections that incorporate both a sense of place
times: "This being the South in the waning days of Jimmy
Carter and the
Klan still holding sway in this neck of the woods, a lot of people were
interested in how and why the refinery’s first black supervisor had met
end. And who killed him."
indictment for murder leaves Dan shaking his head and wondering about
the truth as readers embark on a survey that embraces hearings, truths,
and a forbidden romance that looms to complicate matters even further.
does an excellent job of juxtaposing all these interests in a
way that supports the rising tension of the story, adding social and
observations to strengthen the events that unfold.
about legal and political process are provided in the course
of an engrossing exploration that incorporates realistic scenarios and
questions: “These questions are highly improper,” I said as
calmly as I
could, but I was shaking. “They have no bearing on this tape.” I tapped
cassette on the table. “Or on this arbitration case. I object to Mr.
using this red herring to confuse the issues and divert attention from
really at issue here.”
of noir detective stories that embrace legal proceedings and
social issues will find that What Seems True
questions many attitudes,
moral and ethical standards, and motivations.
touch of philosophical inspection (which appears at various times)
cements the story and lends an introspective eye to detail that keeps
winning proposition for readers who like more than a whodunit scenario
Law' was just a thin patina of regulation over the instinctive hard
human nature. A frail web holding together the larger society, a porous
buffering individuals and families and cliques struggling against each
These vivid inspections make for a story that
should be on the shelves
of any Texas mystery collection, certainly—but also on the radars of
interested in broader portraits of social and ethical concerns.
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Susan Van Kirk
Prairie Lights Publishing
The Witch's Child
blends several elements of the mystery genre (cozy, culinary, and
animal-oriented) to brew up an intriguing read that returns to the
of Endurance and its treasure trove of special offerings.
In this story, retired teacher Grace Kimball
is delighted when a former student returns to town, even if it's to
sad duty of burying her mother. The woman was a self-proclaimed witch
in jail after an eye-popping murder trial that turned the small town on
Detective TJ Sweeney is well aware that
Sybil Mackenzie's death holds as much potential for controversy as her
once did. But what he doesn't know is that the return of the witch's
will prove a catalyst for unleashing forces both psychic and
will, once again, turn the town upside down and challenge his
As Susan Van Kirk moves through this story
of ill-fated lives touched by magic and mystery, even newcomers to this
gain a fine sense of the small town's special atmosphere as controversy
up a storm.
Has fate led Grace to that restaurant where
her boyfriend Jeff Maitlin and best friend TJ are discussing political
when all hell literally walks through the door? The peaceful and
atmosphere described at the beginning of the story is a wonderful
what evolves as Fiona Mackenzie's arrival reawakens trouble and
to the peaceful small town atmosphere.
Van Kirk is especially adept at portraying
Endurance's struggle to live up to its name as events unfold. Does
the power to be in two places at the same time? Is Sybil haunting them
relatives, strangers, and town history
intersect, readers are treated to a blend of atmospheric small-town
and intrigue that capture its residents' love for their beautiful place
as the forces that conspire to change it: "Grace
loved Endurance, and she could hardly walk around the town without
students she’d had in high school classes. Sometimes the memories were
wonderful, but other memories weren’t so happy. She couldn’t begin to
many of her students she’d outlived at age fifty-seven, but she
reminded herself of the happier times she’d been able to share during
young lives. Teaching them had been an experience that filled her heart
This cozy mystery unfolds on many levels,
most of them designed to support the 'cozy' designation of its
intrigue with a layer of pleasurable comfort that will delight readers
interested in a supernatural whodunit (or, who is it?) conundrum than a
Any mystery collection interested in small
town settings or another story of Endurance's compelling people will
find The Witch's Child delightful.
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is an engaging story about Adam Bell's romance with Mary, a young woman
as a perfect potential mate. But, his story doesn't begin with love. It
with a stark description of life in an apartment off the expressway, a
of noise and racing engines where residents are prompted by a Big
sentiment to keep their homes in perfect appearance and their lives
eye of Big 7.
Adam is twenty-five, out of the military,
and ready to pursue his academic and personal dreams. Armed with a GI
new motivation, he pursues life as a freshman with a new apartment and
which need to expand if Mary is to have a place in them.
Readers who expect a romance, social
inspection, or coming of age story alone will be surprised at the
reflection which powers this story. Adam faces changes not only from
environment, but his psyche. These lead him to reflect on new
many circumstances: "As a survivor
of this English class brawl and other previous confrontations as well,
been reminded of high and low human promise. He knew that each
possessed an available set of retaliatory genes. These genetics were
be activated at will. Oneupmanship never failed to remind of the
potential and whether or not to employ said innate option.
are better than others and more comfortable when fighting back. We
ones who can do this well. Does it take guts to break the rules of
decorum? It would require less courage to retaliate when it becomes
that there is no other alternative but to fudge on the etiquette of
Adam may be a late bloomer, but he
approaches potential romance and life with a reflective eye that brings
just Mary, but his world to life. Edwin Litts writes with a lyrical
captures this milieu's blend of philosophical and social inspection: "This beer can hate was a potential
case of life and death; a neverending lifelong case of enjoyable living
gushed right down the drain. Every single day of unease. Unhealthy on
nerves. Unhealthy on the organs. Unhealthy on life. Unhealthy on
Unshedding and forever clinging bad stuff. Definitely. It would be the
forever waiting for something bad to happen."
From promise and hope to angst and travels
which demonstrate to Adam that roads and goals can be flexible and
ever-changing, Litts offers a compendium of inspections and reactions
for a smooth-flowing experience punctuated with the Big 7's noise: "Grruumm!
Thank you, 7, he thought. Boom
blimpf flip. Then, Adam's conviction continued:
Continuing on with our
present and busy life, we advance. blimph
is a story highly recommended as an
alternative road trip and coming of age journey for modern readers who
within the confines of social expectation and emotional assumptions. It
lead this audience out of the box with an unexpected narrative highly
recommended for literary collections. Ideally, Adam's Roads
should appear alongside such books as (and
be read concurrently with) Catcher in the Rye and
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Marlena Fiol and Ed O’Connor
978-1-7375314-0-1 $16.99 Paper/$2.99 ebook
Called presents a
historical piece that opens during World War II and stands out from the
by weaving together three disparate lives that unfold in a non-European
a shy Mennonite nurse, a physician whose calling is to serve the poor,
female attorney who is an Argentinean activist.
would initially seem unlikely that these very different individuals'
lives would coalesce in any way; but World War II brought together
might otherwise have never met—and that's one of the hard-hitting
messages in Called.
reason why this particular story is so strong is because its
events reflect the true experiences of Dr. John and Clara Schmidt,
Mennonites who devoted their lives as medical pioneers in Paraguay,
America. Marlena Fiol and Ed O’Connor researched over seven hundred
for this piece, from published books and diaries to conducting
those who knew the Schmidts.
readers receive much in-depth background information about the
Mennonite community, its activities in South America, and the special
challenges affecting its work and people over a period of decades.
challenging new notions about the treatment and understanding of
leprosy to clinical trials of drugs, a mission that evolves past war
into the 1960s, and John and Clara's own connections to each other,
their work, the story unfolds with an attention to both medical
at the book's end are its autobiographical roots revealed. By
then, readers have become thoroughly engaged in John and Clara's
discoveries—and also thoroughly educated in their community-building
which lives on to this day, in Paraguay.
insights on missionary work and the history behind this story
may be found at www.CalledASaga.com.
Suffice it to say that the blend of high drama and real-world events
compelling draw, covering, in-depth, a mission that changes hearts,
Called is a powerful
tale that deserves a spot in a wide variety of holdings, from
fiction and memoir collections to those interested in missionary and
challenges, South America in general and Paraguay in particular, and
to follow God's calling to create and support better lives for everyone.
powerful message of ministry, faith, and perseverance also belongs
in libraries strong in spiritual stories of heroism against all odds.
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Lion Heart Publishing
978-1-7329699-1-9 $16.00 Print/$9.99 ebook
fiction readers who enjoy stories centered on France, wine, and women
Champagne Window an attractive tale. It revolves
twenty-year-old Barbe-Nicole, who inherits a taste for champagne and
from her famous champagne maker great-grandfather.
There's only one
problem. At this time, the Napoleon Code prohibits women from pursuing
businesses. Deciding to marry a her childhood sweetheart because his
opens the door for her business venture despite his mental illness,
Barbe-Nicole continues to pursue her passion for champagne against all
odds—including the war and the death that surrounds her.
A coming child
also affects her abilities and passions, promising to change everything
Barbe-Nichole faces the fact that her near-perfect arrangement holds
recreates the times with a deft hand that embraces one woman's
pursue positive courses in her life while capturing the culture and
1800s France: “Don’t worry, Barbe-Nicole. He’ll get used to
Lizzette says when she brings me a chocolate croissant in the morning.
spoiled little boys when they think they have to share your
don’t want to share his attention, either.” I take a bite of croissant
Lizzette plaits my hair which has grown to my waist. “It was perfect,
two of us.” “Qui n’avance pas, recule,” she says in her native
from her Trobairitz heritage. “Those who don’t move forward, move
guess her meaning."
Her ability to
personalize business concerns, marital transactions, and political and
strife allows even readers who normally eschew historical novels to
absorb the setting and influences of Barbe-Nichole's times.
The portraits of
international business agreements and politics, as well as the
Napoleon's own concerns and rule, are presented through vivid scenes
juxtapose Barbe-Nichole's concerns with broader politics. Passages
illuminating insights into how this clever woman navigates some major
to further her champagne business during challenging times: "If
can’t sell champagne, we make no money, yet I still have to pay his
expenses. At what point must I cut our losses? Louis has no luck in the
Scandinavian countries either, with their hatred of Napoleon and
France, so I
ask him to return to Russia where his brawn and bluster are appreciated
open arms. I agree with the Russians. The longer he is gone, the more I
the way he lights up a room with his antics and stories."
strength of Champagne Window lies in its ability
to weave complicated
social and political affairs into the perspectives and objectives of a
woman who refuses to quit, back down, or completely bow to the role of
As issues of
personal and political empowerment emerge against the backdrop of
Barbe-Nichole (now called Veuve Clicquot)
must consider whether to cede her position in the name of love and for
of her business, or stand against Napoleon.
and packed with psychological and social inspection, Champagne
is highly recommended for women who enjoy passionate stories of
wine, and the delicate lines between personal and political empowerment.
Return to Index
9780578814896 $10.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Christmas at Hembry Castle transports readers to
Victorian times and the
holiday season as it tells of the dilemma of a ghost, the former
Earl of Staton, who tackles both
Christmas and family problems.
Ordinarily, the earl is a patient ghost who keeps a watchful, passive eye on his family. But this season brings with it new challenges, from his niece Daphne's wedding (which will take place without him) to being cursed not only by his position, but by his ghostly spectator role after his death.
This is not a
ghost who feels empowered to make changes. In fact, he holds many
his actions when he was alive: “I should have given it more
ghost said aloud to the rain now splattering his bowler hat. “I should
considered how my actions would affect my family. Perhaps I’ve only
thought of myself when there are so many who think of me.” He was
the ghost. Ashamed, even."
As he becomes a
force in Daphne and her beau Edward's world, everything changes.
is broken as the ghost awaits his opportunity to change the world. He
unobtrusive ghost, so can his presence affect Daphne, his family, and
novella creates a compelling vision of Victorian times, romance, and
conundrums. Like a different version of A Christmas Carol,
at Hembry Castle brings to life an atmosphere of change,
transformation, and the intersection of ghostly and human endeavors in
that embraces living and dead concerns.
The blend of
holiday feel, romance, and a touch of intrigue that offers new
brings the season and times to life, and will delight readers looking
holiday read that touches the heart.
The final twist
to this tale offers an especially delightful surprise, providing a
icing to the sweet story of holiday angst and family interactions.
Return to Index
Red Mango Publishing
978-1734644524 $13.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
It's hard to easily categorize Ciscoe's
Dance. At once a fantasy, a
dance story, and a lively reel of action, the story is set in the
world of Kammbia, where married professional dancers have made a
their traditional form...until modern Piccanta music, with its very
dance style, takes over.
Suddenly, Ciscoe and Latisha Maldonado are
the dinosaurs of style in a world changed by a passion for Piccanta,
art and traditions languish as the next generation eschews both.
As community support for their beloved
Guanamamma music fades, the couple (and those involved with their
effort) begins to feel outdated and unwanted.
At this point, it would have been all too
easy for the story to fall into the moralistic avenues of aging and
Hill takes a turn
that leads it in an unexpected direction...and herein lies the magic of
Ciscoe's Dance. Its ability to
hearts and minds with a story of adaptation, struggles with bitterness
change, and the affects of present-day choices and their past
becomes a study in adaptation.
As intrigue grows surrounding this mercurial
past's impact and lessons, readers will enjoy Ciscoe's evolving sense
purpose and possibility, and the messages that come from their study of
Book of Kammbi, which maintains that “Things
in life cannot be made straight after becoming crooked.”
The spiritual discussions of choice, consequences,
and lasting impact are particularly revealing as Ciscoe and Latisha
with issues of faith, learning to dance different roles amidst their
community's changes: “A life of being a
believer and follower in Kammbi does not mean he will remove all the
from our lives. Life will become crooked and as believers and followers
Kammbi we must learn how to handle it. And we need to lean on the
the Eternal Comforter, our gift as believers and followers, to get us
the bad things in life."
As study of the Book of Kammbi reveals new
messages that can be applied to these times, Ciscoe and Latisha tackle
community, and artistic truths that "hurt, but also heal," finding
within themselves the courage to forge ahead, albeit in a revised
Music and dance are at the center of this
story—but so is faith, growth, and healing interpersonal relationships
These multifaceted themes make the first
novel in Hill's "Dance & Listen" series an adventure worth
It which holds a passion for not just dance, but life's unexpected
and the opportunities it brings to draw disparate people together.
Whether as a novel or a fantasy
recommendation, Ciscoe's Dance
holds special appeal for literary and arts readers who will find its
enthusiasm for art and life to be both thought-provoking and
Return to Index
Coffee Cup Press
opens in 1984,
where Suzanna finds herself charged with "living her truth." Her
decision to flee her abuser and start a new life involves more than
story then moves back in time to her Ohio roots and birth in 1958.
As Suzanna follows the patterns of her upbringing and relationship
developments, Merida Johns provides a series of revelations about
progression and probes subconscious and deliberate choices in how it
"I view my life as an open highway
crisscrossing the countryside
of my beloved home state. Like the scenic and undulating Ohio hill
there are ups and downs."
coming of age in an upper-middle-class suburb of Columbus to husband
Jonathan's temper and move from subliminal to overt threat, Suzanna
life where inspection and discovery increasingly dictate that she make
changes in order to survive.
development of healthier, more conscious friendships and
relationships as a newly single woman still faces obstacles even as
possibilities expand: "As Robert would say, my life was
octane. My work was fulfilling as I cut a path toward my North Star. My
strengths of love and kindness overflowed with supportive friends and
colleagues and a trusting relationship with Craig. My home and the
western New York powered my appreciation of beauty. And new hobbies and
music, music on Friday evenings nourished my soul. It was perfect until
. . ."
Merida Johns crafts an outstanding story of
mistreatment, recovery, and growth that will resonate with any woman
herself on the receiving end of abuse.
These readers will avidly follow Suzanna's pursuit of a
better life and
her realizations about what influences have blinded her, in the past.
Its attention to realistic descriptions of
this process and the changing momentum of Suzanna's world creates an
outstanding inspection of the undercurrents and influences life holds
strives to keep her personal North Star firmly in mind against all odds.
Collections strong in women's literature and
fiction surrounding domestic violence and recovery processes will find Flower Girl
an evocative, compelling read that chooses no
easy paths to resolution. Suzanna's changing choices and perceptions
outstanding examinations of the darkness that pervades her world, and
important keys to recovery that women will want to learn about.
Return to Index
From Where I Stand
Caroline Goldberg Igra
$27.95 Hardcover/$19.95 Paper/$7.99 ebook
From Where I Stand
presents Elizabeth, who is tired of trying to live up to her mother's
expectations, and is determined to parent her own daughter Belle
even though Belle wants to be left alone. An amazing opportunity for
pursue her musical dreams early, in New York, means that Elizabeth must
Belle over to the mother from who she once ran —a woman whose influence
worked hard to overcome.
Belle is thrilled to get away and Grandmother
Lillian welcomes the opportunity to host her teen granddaughter and
own disappointments through her experiences. Back at home, Elizabeth
solace by redirecting her mothering skills to a troubled girl who,
Belle, is desperate to stay with her mother.
Caroline Goldberg Igra juxtaposes the lives
and viewpoints of each character in alternating chapters that use the
person to capture the character's perceptions while clearly identifying
chapter headings. Another aspect of the story's development is the
role of the Jewish Community in enabling the characters to pursue their
and find a healthier path.
As Elizabeth, Belle, Lillian and Julie move
in different directions, their relationships grow and change. Igra
these moments of transformation, also including the psychological
each individual's reaction to those around them, as in Julie's response
Elizabeth's purposeful support: "Spending
hours hunched together over one text or another, it was only natural
become closer, but Elizabeth made a point of extending the boundaries
relationship. Just recently she’d moved from her spot across the table
by my side. Now her shadow joined with mine, falling over the page as I
the last remaining barrier between us quietly erased."
From different memories and pain to the
emotional damage that threatens long-held dreams, each life and
viewpoint is a
dance of realization and change that ripples into the others' lives
current of transformation.
The result is a close inspection of family
ties, mother/daughter bonds, and dreams both followed and broken that
especially interest women who struggle to revise their own family
Collections strong in contemporary women's
literature and mother/daughter perspectives will find From
Where I Stand a thought-provoking story firmly embraced by
Jewish culture and community.
Return to Index
Ghost Runners: An Olympic Dream Betrayed
$27.95 Hardcover/$19.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
Ghost Runners: An
Dream Betrayed is a historical novel and sports examination
that also portrays anti-Semitism in the athletic world.
The story opens at the Chicago World's Fair
in 1933, where Joshua Sellers awakens on a Greyhound bus with the
memory of a
footrace against Jesse Owens and dreams of losing once again. He holds
chance to beat Jesse, the champion "Brown Thunderbolt" whose ability
seems impossible to defeat.
From the start, Robert Rubenstein outlines
the real focus of his story—racism: "Blacks
paid double the price to Soldier’s Field. Not even to get to see the
outside the Fair. It was an outrage worse than a racial slur. It was
undisguised. The Century of Progress, the theme of the fair, only
corporate interests. Neither women nor Blacks were represented. Blacks
as porters, latrine cleaners, or as “freaks” or pygmies in midway
His inspections of real-world events
surrounding the American Olympic team in Nazi Germany in Berlin in
1936 (during the Holocaust) will interest and attract novel readers not
its sports milieu, but for its close inspections of racism and the
contributed to oppression in various forms, against various peoples,
world. Even champions.
The reader who begins this odyssey may hold
initial interest on Joshua's racing career and not racism. But as both
immediately entwine to breach boundaries both real and imagined,
into the 1930s via a series of vivid descriptions that bring this era
to life: "Through the Balkan Peninsula and
halfway across Europe, local police scanned the highways, stopping any
troublemaker from marring the parade. Solemn choreographed ceremonies
the arrival of the carriers of the flame. While he never forgot Leni’s
Goebbels attended to the task at hand. He made tens of thousands of
every European nation line the roads at attention. They gave the
salutation by raising the arms level with their shoulders or thrust out
in the Hitler salute, much to the delight of the trailing German press
the Eleventh Olympiad a youth pageant and festival of the world, the
waited in the towns and villages along the Czech-German border for a
the last non-Aryan runner to appear."
Rubenstein does a fine job of juxtaposing
the trappings of normalcy with the rise of Nazi powers and rules that
and alter that state. Even the Olympics are not immune to political
and social strife as white supremacy rises, young radicals are provoked
action, and friendships are tested with new rules of decency and
Under Rubenstein's hand, history is closely
inspected, melding with a fictional overlay that brings peoples,
issues to life.
While it would have been too easy to limit
discussions to racial implications alone, Rubenstein implicates and
the underlying business interests that affected and directed social and
political currents both in America and abroad.
focus on motivation and financial
entanglements adds depth and further thought-provoking inspection to
evolving story of two Jewish-American
athletes who both hone their competitive abilities and
decisions during the 1936 Berlin
power of Ghost Runners
lies in its ability to meld an impressive historical backdrop with a
consideration of special interests and the political struggles that
themselves into an athlete's choices and competitive drive to win
In this milieu, winning against all odds
includes more than physical ability. It's about reconsidering the kinds
decisions and influences that dictate the rules of the game itself,
even at its
The audience for Ghost
Runners may begin with those who look for historical fiction
surrounding sports events, but to limit it to this readership would be
the book a grave disservice. Ideally, it should be in any collection
Jewish experience, Nazi examinations, and the social and political
Many themes and historic events are explored
in a story that looks to connect the dots between systemic racism, from
rise of eugenics theories in America and its influences on Nazism to The
White Bridge, Ginger Lee's
relationship with Joshua and her trials and tribulations as a cub
as a woman in Jazz Age Chicago, and the story of Jesse Owens.
What seem to be
disparate themes, biographical sketches, and events dovetail in a
hard-hitting, thought-provoking work that embraces a lot of researched
Ghost Runners should be digested in
snippets, to assure that its astute points and powerful revelations are
From one individual's secret use of
philanthropy to fund National Socialism at home and abroad to powerful
of responsibility in America for events that unfold in Germany,
pulls no punches and lets no country go uncriticized for what
transpires: “If America had made that
statement, of Jews
and Blacks running together against fascism, the rest of the world may
moved in lock-step with the Nazi timetable. The Jew wouldn’t have been
marginalized, not that fast, not in Europe. And maybe those Jewish kids
start standing up for their heritage. Maybe, they’d be running. I need
if that can happen again-that we can run proud in this country, and not
be the victim?"
All these strengths set Ghost
Runners apart from many stories of these times; making it a
top recommendation that literary collections and readers won't want to
Return to Index
Hey, White Girl
Hey, White Girl takes place in the
1960s, an era of promise and
possibility when men land on the moon and music festivals such as
bring peace to the world.
ideals and enthusiasm, it's also an era of rising racial tensions,
captured in Hey,
Randolph children face this firsthand; especially Nell, who begins her
year at a black school that offers such controversy that her concerned
pulls her out to enter a private school instead. At the same time,
brother is facing the draft and the Vietnam War: another life-changing
civil rights issues and the war, the Randolph family is caught in a
change. All this is captured from the viewpoint of Nell, who is able to
transmit both the promise of the times and its potential for sweeping,
Judith Bice captures
this milieu in an intriguing manner, juxtaposing white and black worlds
experiences with descriptions that are thought-provoking: "St.
was a safer school than Stonewall. No one pushed me during gym class or
“accidentally” knocked my elbows in the hall. I wasn’t nervous about
the bathroom or worried about standing in line to buy milk. My presence
provoke anger; it didn’t provoke anything."
between these worlds are particularly well done, standing out from any
notion of prejudice on either side: "Had I never been to
would have adjusted to St. Mary’s. I could have been part of the
circle of girls if they had been my friends from the beginning. I could
been the kind of student the nuns would have loved: engaged, pious,
But even if I had to be on my guard in the halls and bathrooms of
missed the authenticity of Claudia, Venetia, and Fergy, even if I
it at the time. The girls of St. Mary’s were tiresome and boring in
and I had to be on my guard in much harder ways than holding tight to
conversations about the color of skin, opportunities, and prejudice to
dilemma of being a different kind of thinker who doesn't quite fit in
notions on either side, Bice takes the time to document and reveal her
characters' feelings and reactions: “I’m tired of being the
different one. I
didn’t fit in at St. Mary’s. Most of my white friends, like Sally and
don’t understand why I like to hang out with Venetia and Fergy. But I’m
black, and I know I won’t ever really fit in with them either."
The result is a
compelling story of a how a close-knit family and community fracture
back together again. It's an astute reflection of the country and the
and will prove involving and revealing to both those who have lived
new generations coming up.
strong in civil rights fiction and social issues in 1960s America will
White Girl a powerful examination and a compelling work of
Return to Index
Across America: 1963
978-1639880294 $18.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
Hitchhiking Across America: 1963 tells of a young man's
decision to hitchhike
across the country during a pivotal time in America's evolutionary
follows nineteen-year-old Nick's journey as he experiences not just
regions and people, but some of the cultural and political changes that
embroiled the nation during the 1960s.
From the start,
Nick explores why the act of hitchhiking opens more doors and results
candid revelations than staying put and absorbing what an environment
"I’d hitchhiked a lot and discovered that people who pick you
often say whatever might be on their mind. They talk about their wives,
girlfriends, jobs, regrets. They’ll say things they’d never tell a wife
friend or even a priest. Because their relationship with you is so
what difference does it make what you know about them."
As he assesses
people, diverse perspectives, and different environments across
transmits these findings to his reader in ways that give insights into
different towns and contrasts between them: "I walked around
Waco for a
while. The Brazos River, Baylor University, a Dr. Pepper cannery, a
big white silos, Baptist churches and cowboy hats. It didn’t seem much
different from a medium sized town in California, like Bakersfield or
As Nick moves
across the country and encounters Jim Crow, picks up and leaves behind
travelers and would-be companions, and absorbs the realities of the
around him, the 1960s comes to life in many ways: "I looked
President Kennedy. He wasn’t smiling. At certain moments, he looked
like he was
in pain. He held his hands clasped behind his back, or he’d put one
the pocket of his suit jacket. He looked different from when he first
office, like he’d aged a lot and was tired."
Hitchhiking Across America: 1963 reads with the drama
of fiction, but its
nonfiction roots provide realistic elements key to understanding how
evolves, and the sentiments of people across the nation during these
The result is
more than a novel about a new adult's journey across America. It's a
the hearts and minds of the nation during the 1960s, and the effects of
temporary relationships and fleeting moments of understanding. It will
readers of Kerouac's On the Road with a different
road trip through
bygone times in America.
Return to Index
chronicles the foundations of early struggles for democracy and
freedom with a sweeping historical review that personalizes events that
place from 1833 to 1859. It opens by noting that the main character,
was not originally expected to be John Brown's wife. Her sister was.
widowed John Brown proposes instead to Mary, who accepts more as a
decision than for any sense of love.
saga unfolds as Mary experiences the tides of social and political
change that sweep the country and affect her world. She becomes privy
husband's daring plot and finds herself not just a supporter, but an
participant when it fails.
doesn't just outline Mary's adventures. It concurrently weaves in the
stories of Wealthy Brown (who marries John's oldest son and moves to
only to find their lives embroiled in controversy and struggle over
and daughter Annie Brown, who finds her own life changed because of the
she takes in the raid her father has planned.
Historical events come to life through the experiences and perspectives of three women who all find themselves caught up in social and political issues far beyond their experiences.
events test their beliefs and their courage as each make
decisions that originate from the actions of the men in their lives.
Higginbotham provides a vivid inspection of the times that will
delight fiction readers seeking women's perspectives and historical
representation. These forces often test their beliefs in their men,
world, and their own moral and ethical foundations: "The next
the Sabbath sun had risen to reveal five dead bodies, all slashed with
and some shot as well. It was Mr. Harris who had identified Father
Brown as the
man in charge of the killing party, and the widows Doyle and Wilkinson
agreed that an older man had led the expedition. Wealthy thought of all
fuss her father-in-law had made about keeping the Sabbath holy.
had been willing to make an exception."
John Brown's Women takes the time to portray more
events, but their deeper issues and ramifications, makes for a
highly recommended for readers who want their action and facts
attention to the impact these events hold on women's daily lives and
strong in women's representations in historical fiction
surrounding Civil War events, in particular, will find John
thought-provoking reading that brings the times to life.
Return to Index
Life Rolls Along
978-1-952816-90-1 $4.99 ebook
Most men who discover their business partner
coveted their wife would find themselves confronting both wife and
an effort to preserve one or both relationships. Not Skye Topple.
His method of dealing with this problem is
to make it a non-issue by revising his own trajectory and expectations
financial and personal world. This approach leads to far-reaching
the Covington family moves from owning a consulting firm to becoming
in real estate.
many ways, Life Rolls Along is a
portrait of adaptation that leads a family in
unexpected directions. Readers already
familiar with its predecessor, Because I'm Worth It,
will be further enlightened on the methods employed by the Covington
family as they
chart a different course.
married into a wealthy Southern family, and their relationship set
their world on end. His reaction to these new circumstances will, once
challenge the family's approach to life, finances, and legacy as he
relationship with daughter Monique, lives with hard decisions made in
and interacts with Sophie, who is in stark contrast to wife Delaney Mae
Nielsen recreates the dialogue and
captures the contrasting social inspections of the South and North
her story also embraces Paris and other milieus.
It also contrasts generational perspectives and experiences as Skye's mother Melissa absorbs the unfamiliar world of Chicago, considers her son's revised life and challenges, and faces an uncertain future.
As the Covington heritage and Skye's world
continue to expand outward with new challenges and opportunities,
find Life Rolls Along a satisfying
companion to the first story, while newcomers will become enthralled
different ways the characters move through their social worlds and
Novel readers who enjoy interplays between
Northern and Southern perspectives and strong stories of relatives
with themselves and one another will find Life
Rolls Along fun, engaging, and thought-provoking.
Return to Index
Name on a Grain of Rice
Name on a
Grain of Rice
opens with the first-person narrator's somewhat
gruesome reflection: "When exposed to air, blood darkens and
I knew this simple fact from childhood when I watched scabs form. But
scabs came from only a few drops of blood, which coagulated quickly. A
blood that runs from a man's mouth and then stiffens into a maroon
this introduction, readers might expect a murder mystery to
evolve. But Richard Voigt paints a compelling portrait of a man from a
family who makes the move to enter a milieu he's completely unfamiliar
(and unprepared for). As his story evolves, it becomes one of romance
Travers walks away from a seemingly secure future set in stone on
many different levels. As his journey unfolds, he quits his job at the
Light ("...or SOL as we called it – a software startup."). For better
or for worse, this move begins a new path in which nothing is on
but change and survival: two milieus he is ill-equipped to handle.
has always chosen to be a spectator of life. Driven towards a
series of choices that place him in a more active role, he reflects on
family fell into better fortunes, and the effects of this on his life: "I
can't say that initially I was unhappy with these developments. My
certainly excited by their success when it first appeared. But
everyone's attitude changed. I felt marooned on our property and my
began to act as if they had lost their bearings. With so much money
it was no longer something real to them. It could now be spent without
calculation; it could be wasted without regret."
this aura of success, Harry knows that something has gone
increasingly wrong. Wealth does not necessarily bring with it freedom.
that, mistakes have to be made.
Voigt builds a story of transformation, change, redemption, and
growth. As Harry moves into a relationship with Minnie and comes to
very different family milieu that comes with her, he enters into a bond
promises even more change and challenges.
creates a powerful tale that revolves around a death, a renewal,
and choices that hold unforeseen consequences for future health,
who navigate the special trials and opportunities of Harry's
world will especially appreciate the conundrums of a man from a
family who chooses blue-collar work and the unfamiliar world it
unexpected results of Harry's blind trajectory and the consequences
of his actions and his ability to rise above both to create a new life
make for an engrossing novel especially recommended for readers
stories of family influences and change.
Return to Index
Out of the Darkness
9781735092843 $14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Out of the Darkness is
a novel about Haitian teen Cynthia
Josaphat's move from Haiti to the United States. The immigrant
depicted comes not from a single background, but is a compilation of
that holds a focus different from most—an attention to the mental
health of the
immigrant, which here overshadows legal and social concerns.
narrator is set to leave her home and her mother to move to the U.S.
sister, living with a distant father she barely knows to journey to a
she feels no connections to.
chooses the first person point of view to bring Cynthia's world to life
faces changes, health challenges in her new home, and a father who
demanding in his expectations of her than she can accept.
from Haiti to an unfamiliar milieu in which her physical and mental
is tested, readers receive an unusual focus in the course of a
journey that leads Cynthia to sinister places and the darker
be found within them.
immigrants navigate matters of the heart and mind while learning about
entirely new world? Very tentatively. In Cynthia's case, this involves
decisions which lead not to freedom, but brushes with death.
an immigrant's journey, Out of the
Darkness also addresses how young women fall into abusive
not only tolerate, but justify them: "I
forgave him because I thought he loved me; he would never hurt me
convinced myself. He never stopped telling me how beautiful I was and
was so lucky to have me. He made me feel so special; I was the best
ever happened to him. How could I leave him for hurting me? After all,
an accident. He didn’t do it on purpose, I told myself. Besides, he
any scars that I would have to explain to people outside my home. No
to know. It was our secret. A dangerous one indeed."
financial struggles that come with being an independent adult to
with the Haitian community and her family, Jeanne Fortune is especially
at exploring how Cynthia begins to confront the forces that have fed
darkness: "I finally had the courage
to tell my father how much he had hurt me. I told him about my
depression, the sadness. I told him how his absence affected me
years. I told him how he’d been complicit in allowing others to hurt
children while giving his love to another man’s children. I told him
way he treated my mom had affected me as a woman. He didn’t even show
up to her
funeral. I told him we all stayed away because we couldn’t handle the
caused. Because of his absence, I had looked for love in all the wrong
and had gotten hurt too many times. I had dealt with homelessness, and
died in an abusive relationship. All before I was twenty-one years old."
psychological inspection than the usual immigrant story, Out
of the Darkness transcends its roots to hold appeal for not
just immigrants, but any woman who has struggled to disengage from
patterns in her life.
will find much to recognize and applaud about Out
of the Darkness as Cynthia finds a way to make a better life
and home for herself, even in a strange land which doesn't fully
was born and raised in Haiti, and is in a special position to make that
and its contrasts with the U.S. come alive.
Return to Index
The Pop Tart
represents satirical humor at its best and poses a battle that begins
new toaster destroys Magnus Haycock's pop tart, leading him to become
determined to take over the world and correct such wrongs: "I wasn’t mad at the ten-year-olds working in the
un-airconditioned factory who had assembled this contraption, or the
red-and-tan-clad cashier who scanned it and bagged it for my mother. I
understood that they were just cogs in a machine. I was mad at the
designed it, and okayed it, and at the system that allows shit like
this to be
sold for $29.99, only to dash the hopes of high school seniors looking
seminutritious late-night snack. We’re the future of the damn country,
His decision to assume command of his world
and life, sparked by the seeming low-importance specter of a pop tart
awry, provides a hilarious scenario that teen to adult readers will
and thought-provoking as Magnus struggles with graduating high school,
his goals, and enduring dumb instructors who come with higher-level
All these encounters just serve to prove to
Magnus that his special abilities are needed, and that taking over the
may not be an impossible goal when faced with the IQs of those who
As Marcus Herzberg romps through the visions
of a new adult who thinks he can do better, readers gain a vivid story
brewing revolution, institutional craziness, family relationships gone
and instructor Dr. Thorn's precarious position between administrator
Another word for 'troublemaker' is
'revolutionary'. Does Magnus really hold the ability to change the
The Pop Tart
special brand of social inspection is sassy, funny, and
in one. Its social, religious, and political inspections may rub some
the wrong way, but that’s the delight of an edgy story designed to keep
thinking about sane and insane pursuits.
embedded in these inspections is as strong as the revelations that
Magnus to achieve his goals, and come from unexpected, crazy places: "...rather
than becoming immersed in this country’s ridiculous attachment to
sport, you need
to figure out how to use it, and eventually, to degrade it and replace
a consciousness about your concerns. You need to wake people up,
need to shake them out of their stupor and lead them into the light of
How is social
change achieved? From the people who have had enough, and what they
do about the forces that direct their daily lives.
Magnus, whose reeling journey through his new adult years intrigues,
and sometimes puzzles his readers with inspections of how the
insurrection can emerge from daily life frustrations and routines.
Return to Index
978-0-9651190-7-8 $2.99 ebook
PsycheDeliah is about a
purposeful suicide designed to snare a web of characters into answering
questions about Deliah's life and demise, and provides novel readers
powerful story of psychological intrigue and tension.
the start, Deliah's tale comes from the jigsaw puzzle perceptions
of others, from a husband who relishes her sexuality and considers her
lusty soul mate to his regret that his actions couldn't prevent her
the beginning, Kite Jenson paints a series of sexually explicit
scenes to make it evident that PsycheDeliah
revolves around not just
regret or redemption, but the kinds of sexual trauma that lead to
besides Deliah are involved in these stories of serial rapists,
lovers, and abuse. From predatory father Walter to a childhood boy also
by him who grows up to be a trans club dancer, and a series of victims
devastated by Walter's clan involvements and their actions, the story
between social impact and psychological trauma as victims band together
search for peace and recovery.
loss impacts different victims and those she loved. The
perspectives of each individual are presented with a fine attention to
that explores and explains the lasting effects of sexual trauma on a
circle of people: "That was exactly why I’d lost Deliah. All
years I’d cared so much about other people’s image of me. I’d thought
it was a
sign of weakness to rely on money and power to prop up oneself."
about money, white privilege, choice and consequences, and
patterns of living and survival created by trauma also contribute to a
hard-hitting, thought-provoking account.
PsycheDeliah is not
recommended for those looking for circumspect representations of abuse.
candid, graphic portrayals of different kinds of physical and
challenge will likely trigger readers who may come from circumstances
to Deliah. Kite Jenson pulls no punches in pursuing the connections
victims and abusers alike, and as his novel progresses through
experiences, rapists and victims alike confront their own impulses and
in descriptions of psychological control, trauma, and unusual
routes to resolution and recovery, PsycheDeliah
will prove especially
inviting reading for fiction enthusiasts who like their stories
well-detailed, thought-provoking, and unpredictable.
Return to Index
the Sweetwater Fury is a historical fiction piece set in 1913 and
tells of Great Lakes galley cook Sunny Colvin, whose world revolves
feeding a freighter crew even as her dreams center on doing something
story opens with a succinct yet compelling note about the state of
seagoing affairs in 1913 on the Great Lakes: "Only fools and
bosses would boast of safety before the boats were in winter layup, but
sailors were keenly aware how few fatalities 1913 had seen: only
lost, with mere weeks to go."
culinary efforts are part of the reason why the crew of steel
freighter Titus Brown seems particularly lucky—and
happy. She's sailed
with Captain for ten years, now. It's time for a change.
culinary references and steamer and barge descriptions, Sisters
of the Sweetwater Fury comes alive with a sense of time and
immediately involves readers in Sunny's life.
action heats up, Kinley Bryan's portraits are mesmerizing, cementing
strong characters with challenges that evolve from their actions and
seafaring world around them: "Where was Herb now that they
about to die? The Titus Brown hung, mid-tilt. Suspended between air and
long enough for Sunny to change her mind half a dozen times about
would or would not tip all the way over."
has plans for a life ashore, but her husband Herb, the steward,
wants to sign on for yet another year on the lakes. The contrasts
perceptions of danger offer an intriguing comparison between land and
“Boats are lost every season. There are accidents.” “There’re
everywhere,” Herb said. “There are plenty of dangers on land, my love.
efforts to change her world as she feels herself changing
embrace not only the milieu of her times, but the dichotomy of
relationships and duties. She's got a café location all picked out. But
thinks he can't make money ashore.
Bryan does an outstanding job of portraying the midlife crisis
of a woman who, at age thirty-three, no longer waits for a family to
life's purpose. Sunny's decision to forge ahead with her own business,
passion reinforced by a deadly storm, leads the couple to make
emotional decisions that move them away from their familiar lives and
into something different.
Bryan was born and raised in Northeast Ohio, and counts numerous
Great Lakes captains among her ancestors. This familiarity lends to a
sense of place and culture to the scenarios she describes, cementing
atmosphere and facts which are based on the real history of the U.S.
Life-Saving Service, which operated throughout the Great Lakes and
along the Atlantic
Coast from the mid-1800s until 1915.
events of the paradigm-changing storm are also based on real-world
meteorological events, while the husband-and-wife team reflects the Howard
M. Hanna Jr.'s real-life cook and her heroism during the
with psychological twists and physical confrontations as Sunny
and Herb move through their environment and towards the Great Storm
change everything, Sisters of the Sweetwater Fury
is a riveting period
piece especially recommended for Ohio and nautical history holdings, as
general interest readers, who will relish the tale of a spunky wife's
determination to survive and grow against all odds.
Return to Index
A Small Hotel
Cathedral Rock Press
$24.99 Hardcover/$18.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
A Small Hotel
is the introductory book in the Small Hotel series and opens in the
1941, when Europe is at war, but America is still experiencing the
the tourist season—a last hurrah before the nation is pulled into
Kennet Fiskare has fallen in love with
Swedish-Brazilian hotel guest Astrid Virtanen, but it's a love destined
to be buffeted
by the winds of war and Kennet’s entry into battle in France.
As his world is transformed by previously
incomprehensible fights and struggles, Kennet finds that his
relationships, and values in life have also changed...perhaps to the
a romance with Astrid is no longer possible.
Or, is it?
Suanne Laqueur depicts a fine interplay
between family, love, and the revised family circumstances of being
part of a
military world. She takes the time to move readers between these
capturing various sentiments between generations about the impact of
survival: "The chair creaked as Emil
leaned and kissed Kennet’s head. “You are my eldest and finest. And I’d
another war for you.” Kennet closed his eyes. Three words he’d always
to say naturally with his father now spilled out without thought: “I
“You’re the best thing that happened to your Ma and me. You’re
decent and kind. You don’t deserve this, and I’d fix it all if I could.
you’ll come out a better man for it.”
Laqueur also takes the time to portray the
impact of soldiers as they move through the countryside and the lives
who interact with them: "The women
took the loot outside while the squad stripped off socks and long
Assessing the disgusting pile of unmentionables on the floor of the hay
the sisters wondered what these dirty but brave soldiers might offer in
for the use of the hot water in the house? Hot
water was a baby gazelle thrown into the lion’s den. The
packs opened again and the squad all but pelted their hosts with
condensed milk, sugar cubes, instant coffee and chocolate. Then they
came to blows over who would get first turn in the bathroom."
inspections of the rituals, routines, and connections between soldiers,
families, civilians and lovers come full circle in a story that moves
hotel in America to sojourn overseas to new seasons and ideas as Kennet
war to find an uncertain and different form of peace in his life and
As A Small Hotel
evolves, readers receive a vivid, emotional survey of families
war's arrival and the kinds of decisions that change everyone.
Its powerful force brings the times and
individual struggles and perceptions to life, making A
Small Hotel highly recommended for any fiction reader
in World War Two's impact on disparate lives around the world.
Return to Index
HN Books, LLC
978-0-9915612-3-0 $3.99 Kindle
One would expect
that the third book in a World War I novel series would require prior
familiarity with characters and setting. But, then, that same newcomer
Hockenberry's work will also be surprised at the blend of history and
that sets this book apart from most World War I scenarios, requiring no
familiarity with its predecessors in order to prove accessible.
The blend of
intrigue, suspense, and World War I events is taut and attractive. A
long list of characters at the beginning helps newcomers understand
novel will be wide-ranging both in its viewpoints and its international
It is followed by a section of historical background that will delight
of nonfiction who want to understand both the milieu and premise of the
and also serves to introduce the reader to the coming
Chapter 1 opens
with 'The Last Day' and is set in France in 1918, where Captain Gilbert
and the Kellers (heroes of the first two books, Over Here and
Send the Word)
return to the
A threat to the
signing of the Versailles peace treaty emerges to threaten catastrophe
the military intelligence officers can thwart a dangerous plot.
A series of
cat-and-mouse encounters based on lesser-known World War I real events
people keeps the story fast-paced and readers on their toes. Even those
in history will find many of the intelligence and historical insights
between chess moves and encryption puzzles to political deals and
determine the fate of nations and their connections to one another,
provides a seamless intersection between history and fiction that keeps
story action-packed, believable, and hard to put down.
ideally be attracted to historical backdrops surrounding World War I,
also satisfied with fictional intrigue and action that bring these
to life. There are many passages of historical insight that reflect not
the usual physical battles, but behind-the-scenes maneuvering and
interests that result in political alliances and agreements: "The
Allies would promise to remove their entire forces from Russia and end
blockade. They would also stop all financial and military aid to the
Russians and would guarantee the White Russians would accept the
Lenin gave the Allies one month to accept the deal. Bullitt ended by
'These are excellent terms. Better than we could have hoped for.'"
Through the lens
of accusations, confrontations, and agreements, fragments of a puzzle
"click into place" as readers follow the intelligence leaders in a
desperate struggle to prevent calamity. The drama and complexities of
Conference jump off the pages, culminating in the electrifying moment
German delegates are invited to receive the punishing terms.
Hockenberry's story will reach even those who enjoy thrillers but have
World War I interest. Its vivid blend of action, drama, and political
will keep audiences on edge and wondering about outcomes, especially
twists and turns that keep intrigue high and results unpredictable.
fiction collection looking for more than battle stories alone will find
Beware a fitting, complex, appealing addition.
Return to Index
Ruth F. Stevens
978-1-956019-01-8 $16.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
In Stage Seven,
Barbara is a busy caregiver and part of the "sandwich
generation" caught between family and the needs of aging parents.
family and more than "taken" by her responsibilities, Barbara is in
desperate need of love and caring, herself. And when she finds it in an
way, she stands to lose more than propriety in Stage Seven.
As the story opens, Barbara struggles with
her recent decision to move her mother, Dolly, into an Alzheimer’s
facility: "I feared Ma had lost all regard
the rules of the game, and the age level of her play more closely
three than her actual eighty-three years...The laughter stopped, and Ma
to me in confusion to ask, “Where the hell are we?” As I witnessed her
turning on a dime, my own mood pivoted from calm to apprehensive."
Driven by her sense of family and
responsibility to live up to her obligations and values, Barbara
finds the energy to move in a different direction for herself with
married older man who struggles with a wife with dementia who no longer
who he is.
"Every place is a
place to Ma now." It's also a strange situation, for Barbara
to consider options she never knew she had, much less believed in
has spent quite a long time denying her own needs. When new
she faces a transformation that challenges not only her sense of duty
trajectory in life, but the values she has built about love, making
and taking risks.
While the story centers on Barbara and Jack,
it doesn't neglect the thoughts and reactions of those around them such
Sarah, Barbara's daughter. Ruth F. Stevens takes the time to give her a
in matters, as well, as her perception of her mother evolves and
changes: "Sarah had always viewed Barbara as
frail, over-emotional person who cried too often, worried too
balked at taking risks. But now, she understood she had always focused
mother’s weaknesses without giving her enough credit for her strengths."
These realistic, intimate inspections of
lives affected by dementia, obligations, and love create a compelling
that will prove especially appealing to any "sandwich generation"
member struggling with similar duties and opportunities.
Its ability to juxtapose fun with serious
inspections and thought-provoking moments makes Stage Seven highly recommended for women and families
who are navigating the currents of dementia and romance concurrently,
look for stories steeped in real-world emotions and interpersonal
Return to Index
Those Brisbane Romantics
Danielle de Valera
Old Tiger Books
US$4.45 (ebook); US$20.30 (print); AU$25.99 (Australian bookstores)
Brisbane, Australia in the 1960s is the
pastoral setting for a romantic and social inspection in Those
Brisbane Romantics. Set in an old mansion where new adults
struggle with issues of commitment and change, the story revolves
and Joe, who each have set paths of achievement and creative
A budding romance threatens to derail these
plans; and so each resists the other for different reasons—but even
romance is an intrinsic part of the story line, so, also, is Australian
Danielle de Valera examines the White Australia Policy's racism and the
of engrained attitudes on the nation's indigenous Aboriginal population.
These facets are brought to life through the
eyes and experiences of Doug Jarratt and Tara’s best friend Cass
face personal issues of romance as well as racism's impact on their
Danielle de Valera does an excellent job of
weaving the aspirations and observations of disparate individuals into
that is rooted in romance, but embraces a wider range of concerns than
individual pursuits alone.
She captures interpersonal conflict and
points of difference using astute and pointed dialogue that brings each
character to life: "Joe
watched a pigeon diving for a piece of bread someone had thrown to it.
“Security means nothing to me.” “That is because already you have the
You are in familiar surroundings, among friends. Later you will learn
much of your security was really due to you and just how much was due
things. But you do not like to talk like this, I see.” Joe decided the
method of defence was attack. “Why don’t you want to marry now?”
de Valera is also skilled at pointing out
the barriers to romance and deeper
connections as her characters inquire, interact, and evolve: "Tara had a flash of how her life would
be if she married Alan. It would be very lonely once the sex wore off.
“Sometimes,” she said, “when I’m up really high, I feel as if I could
that I’ve escaped from myself for just a moment. But the minute I move
realise what I’m thinking, I’m back in there again, imprisoned. Have
felt that?” Alan shrugged. “Don’t think I’d want to. It sounds a bit
Those Brisbane Romantics is as much about changing times as shifting hearts and minds. With Australia's history and social issues blending into these romantic stories and inspections, the story that engages on more than a linear or singular level. Danielle de Valera has crafted an engaging saga of 1960s Australia and affairs of the heart alike, as her characters enter the wider world, and childhood is left behind.Those Brisbane Romantics
Return to Index
Unredeemed, D. László Conhaim delivers a sequel to Comanche Captive that will appeal to
prior fans of Conhaim's work
as well as newcomers who enjoy Western historical fiction.
From intrigues involving Indian raiders and
U.S. Cavalry scouts to dialogue that fits the times, Conhaim presents a
that is vivid, evocative, and filled with satisfying insights about
interactions between all kinds of frontier types.
While its foundations lie in real-world
Herman Lehmann's experiences of abduction and living nine years with
Apaches (during which time Lehmann lived and thought as one of them and
a "paleface," as he came to call white people), The
Unredeemed provides a fascinating read that depicts a form of
Stockholm Syndrome, in which the captive becomes allied with his captor
order to survive.
Lehmann’s story, however, is only the jumping
off point of this fiction about a captive's choice to remain an
story of the white boy turned Native American warrior is explored
backdrop of the little-known Buffalo Soldier Tragedy of 1877.
Another notable approach that differentiates
The Unredeemed from the typical
Western is its attention to diversity. African Americans are
represented here in the Old West.
Black sergeant Emanuel “Tops” Chance takes
risks and makes choices every bit as critical as his white or Indian
counterparts in this story. This, too, sets The
Much food for thought emerges as the story
unfolds, presenting characters and readers alike with new perspectives:
"'The men that saved your brother—here.' He pounded the map with his
finger, then purposefully grasped a fistful of his horse’s mane. 'Black
Endah simply blinked. Did he understand? 'Chivatá take them there,'
Renald, speaking as plainly as he could. 'They will die. Ellos morirán. You can save them.'
The brave’s face flushed. His cheeks seemed to rise and withdraw while
cracked open. 'I don’t get it, sir,' Tyler remarked. 'And I suspect he
neither. You letting him go?' 'Question is what he makes of it,' Renald
answered. He grasped Endah’s shoulder. 'Frei.
The resulting achievement expands upon its
predecessor, Comanche Captive, and
presents nicely as a stand-alone Western that excels in its sense of
whose unusual mix of characters makes it hard to put down and
should join Comanche Captive in any
collection strong in Western novels and Native American history.
Return to Index
Changing Children's Lives with Hypnosis
Ran D. Anbar, MD
Rowman & Littlefield
9781538153666 $35.00 Hardcover/$33.00 ebook
Hypnosis: A Journey to the Center gathers case history examples of patient
healing processes to encourage and support the notion that children,
be healed by hypnosis. It poses a variety of applications answering
questions about the process and the results that can be gained through
Hypnosis is particularly notable because the bulk of
medical books about hypnosis therapy apply to adults. Another important
that Dr. Anbar is a physician who specialized not in hypnosis, but in
pulmonary disorders. As he learned about and came to apply hypnosis
his young patients, Dr. Anbar discovered that nearly every child under
who suffered from a chronic physical or mental ailment seemed to
adding hypnosis treatments into the regimen.
for why this treatment works so effectively and universally is
presented in the
first chapter: "The reason hypnosis
benefits children with a broad range of symptoms is in part that this
is unique in meeting them where they have the most need. In many
chronic illness, for example, the burden of their medical issues leads
anxiety, depression, or other psychological reactions. By learning how
hypnosis to better regulate themselves emotionally, these children can
their illnesses with less psychological distress and more resilience.
children whose psychological burdens cause them to develop physical
those symptoms often resolve completely when the children learn to
and regulate their feelings and responses. Finally, almost every child
benefit from learning how to control their negative reactions to
medical procedures and stressful situations."
hypnosis therapy into his practice, Dr. Anbar discovered its
impact helped not only his young patients, but their family members.
results were so astonishing that Dr. Anbar established his own hypnosis
"At the outset of this journey, I
had no idea that within a few years I’d realize I could accomplish more
every day, week, month, and year with hypnosis than I could through
represents a three-fold exploration. It defines and explores the
theory of hypnosis in therapeutic settings; it considers how patients
therapists interact during sessions to build a process that holds
value; and it supports its approaches and contentions with case history
examples that capture the hypnosis experience.
readers need not be versed in either hypnosis or medical terminology in
to find Changing Children's Lives with
Hypnosis accessible and enlightening; especially
since it also includes tips and insights that family members,
health professionals can use to support and understand the hypnosis
incorporating these techniques into their own everyday lives).
While not intended to circumvent or replace
the work of a seasoned medical provider trained in hypnosis, this book
a supportive system and atmosphere that allows adults to be more
supporting all children, including those who are in hypnosis therapy.
From psychological revelations on how pain
is addressed and converted to how "hypnosis can recalibrate a child’s
by putting the original incident into new focus," Changing
Children's Lives with Hypnosis is highly recommended for
who would like to better understand how hypnosis approaches to therapy
support traditional medicine and move beyond it to address
should be on
the shelves of any medical library as well as many a general-interest
collection strong in parenting and self-help.
Return to Index
Ourselves and Others as We Age
Mary L. Flett, PhD
Five Pillars of Aging Press
Book 2 in the
Aging with Finesse series, Connecting with Ourselves and
Others as We Age,
continues Dr. Flett's survey of the modern process and impact of aging.
discusses new opportunities posed by growing and establishing new
with self and life.
Unlike many other
books on aging on the market today, the focus on how to achieve the
benefits of aging uses Dr. Flett's experiences and blog as a pivot
exploring the process of continuing growth and evolution.
"Becoming a Pathfinder," for one example. Dr. Flett reflects that she
wishes aging continued the pride and process of striving for Girl Scout
that recognize achievement. Then she explores how to duplicate this
success through life approaches that encourage adaptation and
From the benefits
of travel and the mindfulness it can bring to solo travelers to
conversations and content between old and new friendships, acquiring
of curiosity when none is previously evident, and embarking on
brain-stimulating, life-supporting ventures ("Your brain
lights up when it is faced with a problem to solve or a new experience
incorporate."), these offer different approaches to revising
perception and experience of aging into a positive venture.
others first requires connecting better with self. Both pursuits
a more open, flexible, and mindful approach to aging and growth than
have harbored before picking up this book.
with Ourselves and Others as We Age documents not only the
making these diverse connections, but shows how those unfamiliar with
process can begin, it provides another brick in the wall of exploding
myths about aging, being stuck, and living in the past.
As a companion to
Valuing Ourselves as We Get Older, it continues a
program of insight and
connection recommended for any collection strong in the psychology of
self-help opportunities for changing its progress and perception.
Return to Index
At the Gate
Carol K. Grosz
Heavenly Light Press
978-1-63183-529-2 $12.99 Paper/$2.99 ebook
the Gate: Facing Pain With Hope and Courage is a testimony
to survival. It comes from a 'Chronic Pain Warrior' who has struggled
crippling effects of a neurological pain disease for decades.
who look to the Bible for inspiration on how to overcome
suffering or live with chronic conditions will find this memoir a fine
to Scripture. It blends the perspective of a woman who faces daily
the uplifting insights of a Christian who finds in Biblical passages
personal salvation and inspiration, and will appeal to religious
especially, with its mix of spiritual and psychological insights.
K. Grosz speaks of faith and strengths to be gained from such
belief, and imparts her messages in an inspiring manner: "It
lot of trust in the Lord. It takes all of the trust that heaven
if we can breathe in and jump in and live in that trust, we are
Let’s get bold enough to give God a great big God-size chance. After
did create the Universe!"
employs Bible quotes to teach readers a better approach to tackling
life's pain, doing so without diminishing the special challenges of
in better things even in the throes of agony: "This is a
in how to live each day. Hold on to this verse when you just can’t
and when it seems impossible to tackle the day’s “to do” list. If
experiencing a pain flare or dealing with chronic fatigue, the number
the “to do” list gets left behind can begin to stack up. At some point,
easy to begin to feel diminished."
chapters juxtapose Gospel analysis and quotes with Grosz's own
experiences, readers gain insights on how to more effectively turn to
reflections, and trust to alleviate physical and mental suffering.
the memoir takes the form of a letter to God: "I woke
up this morning believing a lie. I thought because I am in pain that
wouldn’t count. I told myself that because my body hurts and my mind is
restless that You must have abandoned me and taken away my hope. But
other points, it's a letter to self and to readers who also hold
faith, yet struggle with life's slings and arrows.
all times, it's a reminder to step back, take a breath, and revel in
faith and the belief in a greater purpose and a better life; all of
be found in Scripture, and in the experiences, reflections, and lessons
At the Gate.
admonition encourages these introspective thoughts: "In
this journey of ever seeking healing, we should just try being a leaf.
of working so hard and trying so hard and constantly striving for
we could just give Jesus a chance to make us new."
strong in faith-centered memoirs and self-help titles will
find Dancing At the Gate inspirational, reflective,
fine choice for Christians who want to better cement their relationship
against all adversity.
Return to Index
Drawn Into the
978-1736217498 $19.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
the Dream: How Drawing Your Dreams Can Take You to the Land of Awes sports a deceptively simple cover art of a
drawing of a dream that introduces us to the book’s intriguing
simple sketches of one's dreams to solidify their underlying meanings
emotions—the book is meant to attract people interested
in a very different form of dream analysis.
typical dream inspection which encourages psychological analysis,
uses art to support the process. The art of drawing is one way of
the unconscious mind, and often produces results that enhance the dream
instructions are provided in a step-by-step approach that encourages
put drawing implement to paper to capture these meanings: "The idea that someone would project on their own
dream may sound
strange, but this is exactly what happens when the dreamer gives birth
dream by delineating its form on a piece of paper. The dream has taken
life of its own, and everyone in the room, including the dreamer, gets
with it by projecting on it. Our focus during this stage is on the
the dreamer, and we keep connecting
more deeply to the dream itself."
sound like psychological analysis is part of the equation, it's not.
connects all the dots needed to understand why drawing one's dream
writing, how to do it, and how to understand its fruitful results.
and spark of energy is also captured in this book: "In
spite of their thoughtfulness, words cannot truly capture or
encompass the experience of standing in the place of awe. These
refer to awe as an emotion, but I look at it also as an experience, not just the emotion
alone. It is a state of being
for me, a place where you can connect with something outside yourself.
difference between the concept (and
definitions) of awe and the experience
of awe is akin to the difference between the concept of
love and being
in love. I can feel love, but being in love is an immersive experience
comes with magic. The same is true of awe. I can feel awe as an
when I am in the experience of awe,
I have moved beyond the emotion to a state of being. When you are in
place—and I find it to be an actual place—other things happen that are
explaining in words only. Experiencing true awe is always magical. In
state, the ego diminishes, and the senses become heightened, but most
importantly, the magic connects you to an experience outside of
are standing in a world that is not your own and experiencing emotions
come from that place."
pursue Drawn into the Dream, the choice of
its simple cover art
becomes apparent. It's a deliberate representation of all the
this method of dream inspection promises.
required is the memory of one's dreams...no artistic talent is needed.
Return to Index
for Growing Old with Grace
Mary L. Flett, PhD
Five Pillars of Aging Press
While it might be
presumed that this title's subject has already been adequately covered
Flett's previous books about aging, in actuality, Essential
Growing Old with Grace is a review of how these prior
together. This makes for its essential inclusion in any collection
which found Valuing
Ourselves as We Get Older and Connecting with
Ourselves and Others as We
Age to be important and popular reads.
In some ways, Essential
Skills for Growing Old with Grace is a weightier read than
predecessors. That's because it embarks on hard conversations that
such subjects as dying, integrating old and new paradigms of belief
and living, and asking the question "What is enough?" when it comes
to life choices and achievements.
All these issues
and more require that the reader stop, take a deep breath, and
outcome of their life path and its motivating drive. And this is why,
than the other books in the series, Essential Skills for
Growing Old with
Grace needs to be digested in segments that allow enough time
As Dr. Flett
faces her own health crisis and the decisions that this brings, readers
a blend of autobiographical inspection and keys to unraveling their own
and underlying tensions and influences.
These, in turn,
lend to a revised idea of aging, coping, and decision-making that
feed the main messages of these books, on how to lead a better, more
life as one ages.
nourishment on many levels to cultivating a sense of gratitude and
building daily competency in the face of Covid and other challenges,
there is no
better formula for moving into advancing years than the strategies
outlined in Essential
Skills for Growing Old with Grace.
This is why it
and its other series companions deserve a place not only in psychology
self-help collections, but in any general library catering to those who
walk more mindfully and purposely into later life.
Return to Index
Fast Track Online
In House Publishing Australia
978-0-646-82934-0 $4.99 ebook
Fast Track Online: Transition Your Work,
Knowledge, Purpose And Skills Online To Earn More, Live More And Be
on starting up an online side gig
that holds income and promises freedom from 9-5 workplace demands, and
highly recommended reading for those who want to tailor a plan of
support this transitional opportunity.
Judy Nichols's years of research, digital learning, and trial and error
experiences into a set of ten recommended best practices for achieving
conducting the leg work needed so that those who would make this change
experience the same pitfalls that Nichols faced.
of expertise and strengths that could translate well to an online work
environment to what influences online business success stories, Nichols
basic business ideas about risk management, new ventures, and customer
development into a specific set of rules that apply to those making
transitions, no matter what the skill or job.
from webinars and e-teaching to understanding affiliate relationships
various choices in email and social media marketing tactics, offering
developing online content, emphasizing expertise and reaching target
and crafting LinkedIn and other profiles that sync with strategy
identified in early efforts.
best way to research, hire, and utilize talent to learning from the
challenges of others who successfully made the transition to online
business, Fast Track Online contrasts
that held different lessons: "She
reinvented herself again with a mix of face to face and online
in the health, government and not-for-profit sectors. She was able to
her executive income and work only half the hours. From her first-hand
experience of doing the work she loves and helping others, Judy also
the huge freedom and flexibility available to experts who choose to
online. Seeing the potential for others to succeed, she decided to
knowledge and story."
Fast Track Online should be a standard acquisition for any
business library seeking a blend of business advice and personal
Its focus on navigating the conundrums of transitional processes makes
important guide that offers approaches and strategies proven to hold
Return to Index
Finding Joy with an Invisible Chronic
Martin Family Bookstore
Hardcover: $19.95/Paper: $12.95/ebook: $8.95
Finding Joy with an Invisible Chronic
Illness: Proven Strategies for Discovering Happiness,
Fulfillment comes from a
psychologist and father of 6 who has battled multiple invisible chronic
ailments ranging from asthma and allergies, a primary immune deficiency
disorder, sleep apnea, and more. While any of these would seem enough
struggle with, the combination results in a real challenge to leading a
life, injecting the specter of debilitation and illness into the most
of daily rituals.
illness is more prevalent in society than one would think. There are
of conditions that create pain, uncertainty, and struggles with daily
yet are not observed by those outside the family. As a result, they are
understood by others, are often self-diagnosed outside of medical
are challenging for everyone involved.
advises that the first step in dealing with chronic illness is to gain
accurate medical diagnosis, but he's careful to also say that this
last step in the process of regaining a meaningful life: "While
official diagnosis represents a huge step forward in the management of
condition, it also represents a new beginning in your journey of
seeking help for your condition, not the end. In dealing with a chronic
illness, the search for improved health and a better quality of life
ceases. Likewise, despite an official diagnosis, you will continue to
challenges when accessing quality healthcare or dealing with others,
will be that much easier to confront these challenges. You have cleared
Finding Joy acknowledges both the
complexity of searching for
better treatments and health through medical circles and gaining
family and friends who may come to question a process which holds no
avenue to resolution, yet impacts many life choices: "When
the validity of your illness, they may view you as faking your illness
encourage you to just push through it. They struggle to understand why
frequently need to cancel on them, why you are not up for social
outings, or why you do not appear productive. Although most people with
illness would prefer to stay productive than chronically ill any day,
view you as lazy and over-indulging in rest or your “time off.” In
short, they often
perceive your invisible chronic illness as not severe enough to prevent
from engaging in daily life activities."
Martin offers concrete paths to better
health, communication, and mind-stretching/supporting routines such as
mindfulness, and tailors all these approaches to chronic illness.
While there is plenty of information here
about acceptance, self-compassion, reappraisal, encouraging self-talk,
support, and positive psychology concepts and stress management
heart of this discussion lies in putting these ethereal concepts and
into daily life and interactions with others.
All this lends an ultimate purpose of
finding joy in everyday life against all obstacles. Martin's discussion
incorporates how to create new mindsets, habits, and approaches to
optimal results. These offer a revised set of actions and new solutions
those who have found themselves swamped with chronic ailments and daily
Anyone with chronic illness needs this
blueprint of new pathways to joy. It's a survey recommended not just
chronically ill patient, but also for the family and friends supporting
Return to Index
Conflict 2021: Hamas, Israel and Eleven Days of War
Gaza Conflict 2021: Hamas, Israel and Eleven Days of War should be required reading for anyone looking for a closer inspection of Gaza politics and events than is usually provided in the typical survey of the Middle East's conflicts.
provides a hard-hitting inspection from a personal perspective. This
adds details and insights unavailable from third-party reporting.
Schanzer first visited the Gaza Strip in 1998 as a graduate
student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
that time, he found his calling in not only researching the region,
but conducting personal research to get a better feel for its people,
approach provided him with a historical and personal familiarity
that contrasted rich and poor perspectives, setting the stage for
why Gaza proved a focal point hotbed for Hamas terrorist activity.
his visit, the area fell under the complete control of Hamas, but
the insights he gained from that experience still led to a book
probing the roots of the war between Hamas and Israel that took place
in May of
a debate about Israel's military justification for its actions
nor a condemnation of Hamas as a terrorist organization, Schanzer's
to present the events of this conflict (the fourth between these
forces) as a
microcosm that employs hindsight to better explain its evolution and
why it is
important to consider and reconsider its lasting ramifications.
identify a fundamental disconnect between reality and
reporting methods which holds important meaning for media studies
especially those interested in capturing historical and military events.
audience receives a pointed history of events which is critical,
because it outlines important departures between reality and reporting
"...media reporting during the 2021 conflict often ignored the
patterns from the previous rounds of conflict between Hamas and Israel.
is plenty of material from which to draw...Here in America, the
analysis on the 2021 Gaza war also ignored the brutality of Hamas."
these and other inconsistencies in coverage prompted Schanzer to
produce his own inspection of the conflict is to be celebrated, because
brings to the table a perspective, personal experience, and
is not covered in typical reports of the war.
any wonder, Gaza Conflict 2021 is not an opinion
It's a carefully researched, highly footnoted survey that overlays the
insights with the facts surrounding both sides.
so than most, this book identifies just why Gaza stands out in
Israel's historical record of conflicts: "Israel’s wars with
very distinct from the uneasy but pragmatic relations that currently
between the PA and Israel. Gaza is now ground zero in a proxy conflict.
part of a bigger battle between Israel and Iran, along with other
strong in Middle East history might be tempted to see Gaza
Conflict 2021 as a familiar coverage that is already
reflected in other
books, but this would be a fallacy. The book is actually a standout,
identifying perspectives and falsehoods that other surveys gloss over.
should be considered essential reading for any library strong in
Israeli history and the Middle East region's conflicts as a whole.
Return to Index
David Yurkovich, Editor
Gravelight Press/Devil’s Party Press, LLC
978-1-7340918-4-7 $14.99 Paper/$.99 Kindle
Halloween Party '21 is a horror anthology
that belongs in any
collection strong in frightening reads, featuring a wide range of
ghostly scenarios that will delight genre fans.
Many of these
writers will be unfamiliar, but that doesn't mean their works within
less powerful than better-known authors. Halloween Party '21
wide range of presentation forms, from poetry to prose, which also
vision of what constitutes a horror read.
Golladay's "It Is Highly Illegal to Hit Someone With an Egg," for
example. This hip-hop poem captures some "hard-boiled attitude" over
Halloween egging and how the devil gets into those who celebrate the
ways that impact their frightened neighbors.
"Unwell," in contrast, is about a happy life changed by tragedy,
leading to the contemplation of suicide. A father and daughter find
in the same place, for different reasons: "It felt like they
complete strangers who just happened to be in the same place, each
same thing by sheer coincidence, an entire world of loneliness, guilt,
grief separating them." But the real horror lies in the
of blame, love, murder, and a macabre twist of fate.
Each piece brings
with it a different form of horror inspection that is both delightful
Readers young and
old who are interested in horror accounts that go beyond the usual
hauntings to poke at the heart of horrors that remain unseen, unspoken,
unacknowledged will find the diversity and literary excellence of these
writings to be captivatingly different from any other horror anthology.
Party '21 will likely be chosen for horror collections, it
also deserves a
place in any literary collection seeking to push the boundaries of
reading to attract thinking audiences who relish unexpected twists and
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Jewish Book of Horror
Josh Schlossberg, Editor
Denver Horror Collective
978-1-7341917-7-6 $15.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
readers may be surprised at the association between 'Jewish' and
traditional horror writing, but as this collection shows, Jewish
legends hold strong roots in depictions of horror. The Jewish
Book of Horror
presents both sample stories and introductory discussions of the
John Carrier kicks off the survey with "An Orchard of
Terror: Scary Stories and the Jewish Tradition." This provides readers
with a historical and literary backdrop for the connection between
Jewish experience, offering a scholarly but lively inspection of the
psyche, its dilemmas, and its incarnations in the horror genre.
also points out that "If you dissect the stories herein, you
may be stricken by themes, vocabulary, or a particular sense of humor
them apart from horror that is not explicitly Jewish. The ingredients
more to “our” demonology or eschatology. What we fear (and what we
be different based on our unique historical experience. Ultimately,
Jewish horror, I believe, is that a Jew made it."
yet, the sources of these legends and their influence have a long
tradition of being "...all carried around in our heads for
thousand years or so, or at least carried in the heads of specialists
Homer, stored vast collections mnemonically to be shared at hearth, by
and from one dungeon cell to the next."
experiences of the Jewish people and culture carry over into these
diverse explorations and will prove delightful reading to both horror
readers and those of Jewish descent, who will find them uncanny and
example of this diversity lies in KD Casey's "The Last
Plague," which opens with a reference to a Jewish tradition: "My
mother sends me to open the back door to admit a prophet. “Be quick and
let out all the heat from the house!” she says. Pesach is early this
the young narrator depicts a Seder dinner that, like Groundhog
Day, seems destined to repeat (albeit with different outcomes
to being sent
to welcome in a prophet), Pesach changes...and so do the lives of the
people who celebrate it.
life changes for the narrator over a period of Pesachs and time,
readers receive powerful inspections of its downfall: "I
dream of our
life before, our backyard and our family, and wonder if Jerusalem
smells like chicken
fat and onions...We do not go to Jerusalem but to a farm in upstate New
rented from an Amish farmer my mother pays in cash. My
father no longer writes; his last letter said
there is a paper shortage."
true horror lies on the impact life has on this Jewish family
through the eyes of a young observer of tradition and change.
contrast, Lindsay King-Miller's "How To Build A Sukkah At The
End Of The World" holds some of the same elements of faith during end
times, but with a different focus on not just survival, but preserving
traditions when the logic for having the celebration has vanished: "The
ready-made sukkah your mother put together and took apart each year was
in the basement. You’ll improvise. Three walls and a roof made of
are more rules than that, but these are the ones you remember. A sukkah
beneath the open sky, so you can see stars between the branches. Well,
an old rule from when there were stars."
Book of Horror excels in portraying different forms of horror.
But its real value lies in explorations of Jewish identity and changing
tradition that depict the real horror: the erosion of facets of Jewish
that face vast changes and horrors that range from sorcery to
tale comes steeped in a background of Jewish lives and traditions.
Each holds a powerful key to understanding the varied sources of horror
adversities that challenge heart, soul, and spiritual wellsprings alike.
The Jewish Book of Horror will likely be a literary
addition to Jewish collections, it should not be missed by gentiles,
Its inspections, lessons, and sources of true horror make its diverse
Return to Index
offers a special blend of serious reflection and wry humor, providing
a social observation of the nerd's history and place in world events.
It is a
lively and unexpected journey into 'nerddom' that lends particularly
browsing rather than linear examination, as the preface to its Table of
Contents suggests: "Chapters are arranged solely by the
sagacious insight, which generally means sheer happenstance— so feel
read them in any order you choose."
there are "big words." And that is one of the
pleasurable challenges to be found in a witty, unpredictable collection
humor essays that skirt the boundaries of autobiography and social
"Food," for example. Readers might expect this chapter
might be a dry historical survey; but in fact it's as lively an
food and culture as the "Civics and Winning" essay before it linked
football games with moral and ethical ideas and strategies for winning.
discussion of food opens with a hilarious query: "History
Question: What is the man in the picture doing?
A. Tinkering with the design mechanics of an early atom bomb.
B. Measuring the electrostatic potential of a substation stepdown transformer.
C. Praying to God that somehow he’ll manage to extract his right hand from this man-eating machine.
D. Putting the finishing touches on a modern cooking device."
the microwave's history is revealed, its "supernerd"
creator (self-taught engineer Percy Spencer) comes to life, as does the
purpose and idea of saving kitchen time against too much activity in
lives: "The adoption of the microwave is quite indicative of
broader nerd experience which our society is currently experiencing.
The way a
microwave can rapidly speed up cooking, is the same way the speed of
is accelerating. Considering our lives are jam-packed with work, rent,
kids, school, texts, emails, social networks, shopping and errands, we
racing to get more things done all the time. However, the irony is that
seems to be more and more to do all the time. As a result, we always
gnawing feeling that there is no time for anything,.........and forget
to do nothing."
that's the real beauty of these essays. Readers who expect humor
alone will be surprised at the route taken from initial comedy overlay
serious discussion. Where other essay collections might cut to the
lose their audience with dryness, Mister Victor's droll, wry sense of
allows for examinations that link daily pursuits, experiences, and
result is a satisfying blend of humor and serious social reflection
that belongs on the shelves of not just humor collections, but those
in representations of the angst and problems of humankind done in a
refreshingly different manner.
Return to Index
Testament Readings & Devotionals, Volume 4
C.M.H. Koenig (compiler)
C.M.H. Koenig Books
978-1-7377324-0-2 Paperback: $14.99
its predecessors, the fourth volume of
Old Testament Readings & Devotionals offers Bible
students a reasoned
course of study. This book explores portions of 1 & 2 Samuel,
Chronicles, and Psalms, providing a survey that links devotionals to
readings that cover 1025 BC – 1010 BC.
C.M.H. Koenig moves through this Bible study, students receive the
to savor and re-examine the scriptures and their underlying meaning and
is accomplished not just by profiled passages themselves, but through
value of excerpts from the devotionals by Robert Hawker (1753–1827),
Spurgeon (1834-1892), and Octavius Winslow (1808-1878). The Psalms
interspersed throughout the Old Testament volumes.
easy to differentiate the key verses (from the Christian Standard
these associated writings—they appear in italics. It's also easy to
to a daily pursuit, as each quote and piece appears in a daily format
encourage succinct, thought-provoking reading.
example is that presented on Day 38, with a reading from Psalm 54: “God,
save me by your name, and vindicate me by your might! God, hear my
listen to the words from my mouth. For strangers rise up against me,
violent men intend to kill me. They do not let God guide them. Selah.
God is my
helper; the Lord is the sustainer of my life.” Psalm 54:1-4.
pairs with an inspection by Winslow from his Evening
Thoughts work: "Where
was David now? "In the wilderness of Ziph, in a wood." With not a
follower or companion, this favorite of the nation was a homeless
hunted like a partridge upon the mountain by the bloodthirsty king. But
deep teaching of which he would now be the subject! The nothingness of
glory – the emptiness of human applause – the poverty of the creature –
treachery of his own heart – in a word, the vapid nature and utter
insufficiency of all earthly good, would be among the many holy and
lessons he would now learn. Nor this alone. Driven from man, he would
more exclusively and entirely shut in with God. In his happy
wilderness would be as a peopled world, and that wood as a blooming
linked passages offer newfound opportunities for reflection,
does readers a great service in making these pairings relevant to
times and philosophical and spiritual reflection alike, creating bonds
methods of inquiry that support belief and Biblical relevance alike.
note to this collection is that its links are easy to digest in length;
designed for a contemplation that lends to day-long consideration. An
of this is Day 63's reading of Psalm 73: "It is good for me
near to God." Psalm 73:28 (AKJV). This seemingly clear
assumes new meaning when paired with Winslow's Morning
are you a professing child of God? Content not yourself to live thus;
it is a
poor, lifeless existence, unworthy of your profession, unworthy of Him
name you do bear, and unworthy of the glorious destiny towards which
looking. Thus, may a believer test the character of his love. He in
divine affection deepens, increases, and expands, finds God an object
increasing delight and desire..."
than a study of Biblical passages alone, Old
Testament Readings & Devotionals offers key
Biblical words and modern living. As its predecessors do, this fourth
allows readers the opportunity to slow down and take a reasoned look at
underlying meaning and impact of the Old Testament.
can use this volume for either self-study or/and (ideally) discussion.
powerful associations offer much food for thought, making Old Testament Readings & Devotionals,
Volume 4 an ideal choice for all
kinds of Christian collections and
Return to Index
You Live Right Publishers
Delicious, Healthy, and Full-Filling Meals for 500 Calories or Less! combines
gluten-free recipes with calorie consciousness in a presentation
emphasize that healthy food can meet both objectives without being
flavorless. Mona Dolgov emphasizes fiber-rich content, from
vegetables to whole grains and legumes, and tailors her recipes for
who have limited time (30 minutes max) to produce family-friendly fare.
The recipes are
all based on the Mediterranean diet. This will delight health-conscious
who look for innovative fare based on this proven system of healthy
includes tips for streamlining prep and making
cooking easier, as well as insights for using the latest time-saving
devices more effectively, but the recipes that are the mainstay of Satisfy
shine, between their at-a-glance format, appealing color photos of
dishes, and ease of prep.
Chicken Sausage and Spinach, for example, is flagged as a "skillet and
one-pan meal," while the simple introduction mentions the gluten-free
chickpea or lentil pasta ingredients and the taste appeal of marrying
sausage, mushrooms, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese in
one-pot production that minimizes cleanup, as well.
Chicken Parm Burgers with Grilled Italian Veggies advocates creating an
summer meal using the outdoor grill, showing how streamlined timing can
an entire meal in 10 minutes. An 'Ingredient Insider' sidebar of
information provides flavor-enhancing notes ("I prefer the
the ground chicken breast for these but ground turkey breast can also
formula for quick meal success, gluten-free tips and foundations,
calorie-conscious approach, and eye-catching, flavor-filled choices, Satisfy
is a standout cookbook for all levels of home cooks seeking
family-friendly recipes that embrace both gluten- and trouble-free
Satisfy should be in any
cook's collection not just because it's healthy, but because its flavor
and appealing attention make healthy fare not just palatable, but
Return to Index
Hex Publishers, LLC
978-1-7365964-1-8 $4.99 ebook
is virtually impossible to peg as a genre read. Quite simply,
it's a blend
of horror, speculative fiction, and alternative history told through
stories contributed by 38 authors and poets, including Josh Malerman
Yolen. This production by the "Scribes of the Umbra Arca" opens with
the intriguing form of dossiers and memos attempting to explore the
the Umbra Arca Society and its works.
"Western Scriptorium" secret society's writings draw readers into a
world layered atop the familiar one, shades of The Twilight Zone and
influences blend with an alternate history and social inspection to
powerful series of interconnected stories designed to capture high
Directive' to investigate this world opens the story with a concluding
that adds mystery, questioning the Society and its revelations.
Dane Essa introduces the concept of the Shadow Atlas further,
this secret came to be imparted on the threshold of death, was
identified as a
possible prank by a mischievousness professor who wanted to leave
legacy of fiction and mystery, and gives a possible motive for
deception: "...if one cannot participate in
history, then one must reinvent it, with one’s own life rough-hewn into
unfolds in a satisfying manner that reflects the diverse approaches of
authors. From Dark Watchers to poetry and prose that captures evolving
events, Shadow Atlas represents a
between literary formats and perspectives, creating a vivid story that
the definition of fantasy, horror, and fiction as well as historical
very different in its characters and events. Each also contributes a
adventure to the exploration of the truth about a mysterious book.
The DaVinci Code or Indiana Jones,
with more literary force, as it comments on mortals, immortals, and the
intersection of worlds which holds them.
Yardley's story of Moira, banshees, and a sense of home and purpose in
"Sand and Salt" is one example of a compelling piece of the puzzle.
Its focus on Moira's relationship with Imogene, a "relentless town,"
and the past is exquisitely wrought: "She
missed the storms from home. The black skies, the voices of her sisters
whirled together in the night. This place was lonely and harsh in a
different way than the high cliffs. After her shift ended, Imogen
card, gathered her things, and rode her bicycle home. The air was hot
even in the dark. Her house was still full of her parents’ old things.
them away? Why keep them? Why do anything but curl up in the rooms at
watch the stars from the window? Why even do that, or really, anything
Imogen's family to this desert world from Ireland. Imogen is the last
tribe. What will happen to Moira when she dies? Does she return home,
she pass this legacy to another generation by having a child?
descriptions permeate Moira's decision and provide a powerful impact on
reader: “Cut my wrists and I would bleed
sand. It’s in me like the sea is in you. I can’t leave here. I belong
earth, and it belongs to me. The stars fill me up. I’m full of mud and
tumbleweeds. I’m a golem of this land. I want to leave here so you can
home, but I’ll die."
with Jeanne C. Stein's "Diablo Ballena," which depicts two seniors in
the last phase of their lives who met as anthropology majors in college
headed for adventure in Columbia.
into mythology and religion changed their lives. The narrator
legendary monster. He also uncovered a lust for revenge that ties into
contributes a powerful stand-alone piece that dovetails nicely with the
and promise of the Shadow Atlas's
delight readers who look for diversity, powerful literary voices, and
that grab hold with mystery and supernatural intrigue to rewrite not
history, but concepts of reality, fantasy, and lives that exist in
black and white drawings that add further visual dimensions to the
tales, Shadow Atlas is a top
horror, fantasy, and literary short story readers seeking diversity in
collaborative intersection of different worlds thoroughly delights.
Return to Index
978-1-647044-07-7 $12.00 paper/$9.99 ebook
Soulwork: Connecting with the Universe and
your Spiritual Path to Find your True Purpose in Life points out that self-awareness is a goal to
be earned, not inherited. The path to purpose often begins with a
reality—a rip in the cloth of expectation or a challenge to one's
preset notions of the journey and what it should entail.
by a breakup, death, or psychic devastation, the road to defining and
one's uniquely true purpose isn't a singular path, but often seems to
many diverse byways and experiences.
Soulwork offers to connect these dots in a different
way, blending autobiographical stories about the process with a close
of the Universe and various ways of relating to it.
science, and psychology intersect through Elizabeth Radcliffe's
considerations of such challenges as how to quiet the mind to achieve
inspection, how to seek and follow guidance that leads in better
and how to adopt an intentional path towards healing, redemption, and a
With each piece of advice, Radcliffe cements
her life's experiences and changing perceptions with tips on how
readers can acknowledge
and follow their own paths by employing more astute rationale and
It should be noted that soulwork is no easy
venture. Radcliffe readily admits its pitfalls and special challenges: "With my years of experience navigating
Soulwork, I knew immediately that seeking out ways to feel wanted
me heal. That was the subconscious strategy I had been employing for
had only brought me unhappiness and disruption. But if generating a
being wanted wasn’t the cure for feeling unwanted,
As she moves from personal inspection and
transformation to bigger-picture thinking about world processes and
Radcliffe draws important connections that readers need to know about
ultimate impact and purpose of attempting soulwork in the first place.
does a person evolve to embrace their
life destiny in a different way?
Soulwork is a highly recommended road map for those
who have predetermined that this process and the work it involves are
pursuit. It provides cautions, directions, and insights that help
processes and promote better understanding of soulwork's promises and
potential, and is highly recommended for new age, self-help, and
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J. Stewart Dixon
$15.00 Paper/$7.95 Audiobook/$5.99 ebook
Spirituality for Badasses may sound sassy, but its message is
seriously intentional and revealing: that achieving a spiritual
takes work and a brand of self-examination that can't come from easy
Dixon's chapter headings alone portend a greater revelation than most
or spirituality approaches embrace, with such admonitions as "How
pay attention without being a suck-up," "How to put your cell phone
down for one goddamn minute," and "How to evolve from a suffering
badass-hole to a spiritual badass."
swearing. In a spirituality guide? Oh, yes. This isn't your
usual staid encouraging voice, but a brash, contemporary series of
that works especially well to reach younger audiences who largely
ennui and dispassionate approaches of similar books about building
handling being an emotional wreck to moving into emotional bliss
and being mindful during a crisis, Dixon tackles situations that are
daily living and that, too often, are not part of the typical self-help
on finding spiritual lessons from everyday life.
prerequisites for thoroughly appreciating this discourse (and, there's
like about its honest dialogue) are an affinity for mindful practice,
investigation, and candid language that pulls no punches as it
common snafus of choices and approaches to life: "Sometimes
it requires an ass whipping to wake you up from a
bypass. Sometimes life keeps handing you lemons until, one day, you
decide to make lemonade. A few lemons here and there are okay. Just
a career out of that lemonade stand. I mean—shit, do the math. There is
way you are going to pay your rent or mortgage with a fifty-cent paper cup of squeezed fruit, water and
Spirituality for Badasses should be part of any self-help,
spirituality, or mindfulness collection. It goes where no other books
genres dare travel, doing so in such a manner that older readers may be
offended...but younger audiences will find it enlightening food for
that speaks their language in a way no other book matches.
recommended for discussion, contemplation, and action-oriented
response, Spirituality for Badasses
brash, forthright...and just the cup of tea needed for modern
(Heck, make that a cup of vodka. It really packs a punch.)
Return to Index
Elite E Services, Inc.
Splitting Pennies: Understanding Money makes a lot of sense,
in many ways. It will
especially appeal to financial professionals and would-be pros
issues of debt, the global financial system, and building a better
Joseph Gelet has
worked for some 15 years in Forex, whom some view as the driver of the
economy despite the fact that many outside the financial world may not
heard of Forex. (Surprise! Just because you may not have heard of Forex
mean you aren't already trading in it!)
having prior familiarity, Joseph Gelet first published Splitting
years ago. It's a testimony to this subject's importance that, despite
passage of time, the book remains as relevant to modern investors and
circles as it was upon its first appearance.
Gelet assumes no
reader knowledge of the financial world. In fact, in the first few
defines what a "market" is and how it works. This will especially
please novices who might think such a book will be beyond their
from the start. It isn't. Splitting Pennies leaves
no reader behind and
makes no assumptions about education or financial savvy. This is one of
(especially for more seasoned financial audiences) lies in its
overview of changing regulations and regulatory perspectives,
Forex operations at the Fed and highest levels of economic activity,
(later) in-depth discussions of its financial algorithms.
flexible winning strategies as markets and regulations change to
the future of various currencies and why the ordinary person who
Forex tends to lose money, Splitting Pennies
inspection with broader social and economic issues to provide a
discussion of pros, cons, history, and financial approaches.
Who benefits from
this? Why is the American Forex system basically anti-competitive,
the USA's monopoly on money? Why is the history of law and Forex in the
From opening a
bank account overseas to understanding the various social, political,
economic forces at work in the Forex environment, a wide audience will
Pennies essential, accessible reading.
of financial savvy, history, and social and political questions and
create a powerful, insightful read that will, of course, appeal to
readers. But, ideally, it should also reach the general public with its
hard-hitting analysis, as well as into legal, accounting, trader and
and financial manager circles.
holdings (and many a general-interest library) should add Splitting
to the ranks of powerful, insightful foundation financial writings.
Return to Index
Cynthia D. Bertelsen
Turquoise Moon Press
978-1-7345579-2-3 $19.95 Paper/$11.95 Kindle
Suitcases: Searching for Home in the World's Kitchens should be in the
holdings of any collection strong in culinary biography and history.
began as a search for home and roots evolved into a culinary
exploration, as Cynthia
D. Bertelsen documents in chapters that move from Florida and
discoveries to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Europe, and Africa.
prematurely and placed in an oxygen-rich environment damaged
hearing and sight. She developed a passion for reading books in
response to her
disability and abilities, which then morphed into a passion for cooking
food. An early discovery of the Time-Life Foods of the World book
allowed her to journey far from her home and roots and led to her next
a memoir about how all these experiences coalesced into a passion
for new experiences, new flavors, and world travels that introduced her
ordinary cooks producing extraordinary new results from their home
the reader is interested in stories of disability recovery, world
travel, or cooking, all these subjects and more receive lively
attractive insights, here.
writes with an evocative hand that brings these worlds and
their cooks to life: "The sight of an old-fashioned iron
smell of wood smoke. The aroma of beefsteak milanesa. Or the crackling
empanadas, stuffed with ground beef and hard cooked eggs, perfumed with
of cumin, frying in smoking-hot grease. That’s all it takes to
Olga’s magical touch in the kitchen, in my mind anyway."
capture and contrast such different milieus, incorporating them into
learning experiences and solidifying their value for the reader with
provide the opportunity to duplicate these culinary encounters at home.
a Fish Fry
batter to the staple African Cornmeal Mush and a Balinese Sambal
Rica-Rica, Bertelsen's encounters with
home cooks, and foodies examines more than the culinary roots of each
faces social unrest and conflict, struggles with bureaucracies (as
in Honduras), and eye-opening experiences ("I was alive.
Thanks to a
stranger.") that bring not only cooking, but other cultures
and white photos and postcards add visual embellishments to an
format that contrasts recipes with experiences.
hard to compare Stoves & Suitcases to
other books of
its ilk. Perhaps Anthony Bourdain's A Cook's Tour
comes closest. But,
the blend of insights on different countries, cooking, and an evolving
self is hard to find elsewhere. All these elements make Stoves
Suitcases highly recommended for a diverse audience and
subjects range from memoirs to travel and culinary explorations.
Return to Index
as We Get Older
Mary L. Flett, PhD
Five Pillars of Aging Press
Valuing Ourselves as We Get Older:
Explorations of Meaning and Purpose: Aging with Finesse belongs in any
collection strong in the psychology
of aging, and is the first book in a series.
Unlike many books
about aging already on the shelves of psychology holdings, Valuing
as We Get Older cultivates a comparative sense of how the
and its perception has changed for different generations, thanks to
advancements and psychological insights.
This book comes
from a series of blogs Dr. Flett wrote. It is centered on the topics of
life purpose, and how these change over a lifespan to become something
different, as the years go by.
mechanisms for improving life are juxtaposed with Dr. Flett's
which are presented in a personal manner that makes them accessible to
audience: "With each loss I have also learned how to keep my
open, even though it hurts and I may doubt that the hurt can ever go
try to stay aware of my feelings, especially when I am feeling lonely,
or invisible. While I am not always successful in doing so, I get
practice...Extending compassion to self, and being patient with a
is anything but linear and predictable, are sound techniques to help
the gaping wound that loss creates."
blog posts are punctuated by daily life events and news that sparked
creative spirit, as in a story of the trauma caused by observing
fire season in 2018, and the coping mechanism chosen to handle its
RAN AWAY THIS WEEK. Fled. Gave up the ghost. Abandoned my post. It all
became too much, and so I fled to a place that wasn’t in the pathway of
fires, appeared to have taken appropriate precautions for COVID-19, and
happy memories of better times for me. I have returned home, somewhat
definitely improved in mental state and capacity to face what is a
challenge, but also keenly aware of how much I need sanctuary."
As metaphors for
survival and transformation are injected into the process of aging,
and accepting change and challenge, readers receive an inspirational
reflections that are grounded in the author's experiences, everyday
her changing reactions and learning process.
finesse often translates to making those inner leaps of faith that lead
ideas and opportunities. Dr. Flett considers the special approach of
and growing that comes with aging in modern times.
strong in psychology, self-help, and social inspection will find these
reflections powerful ideas for continuing the upward trajectory of
often comes with aging.
Return to Index
The Whisper of a
David L. Gersh
The Whisper of a Distant God is recommended for
military history readers who
may enter the story knowing little about the War of New Mexico, but
its pages with a much more thorough grounding in the war's events.
representations are captured in a blend of letters, diaries, newspaper
articles, and both first and third person dialogue that focuses on the
thoughts, and experiences of three main characters involved in the
Sibley, commander of the Texas Mounted Volunteers; Edward R. S. Canby,
Union commander; and his wife Louisa, deemed the Angel of Santa Fe.
From Louisa Hawkins' diary of her
forthcoming marriage to Edward and her visions of a perfect life as his
Henry's letters to his wife in which he expresses his convictions and
uncertainties ("I will fulfill the
honor done to me by President Jefferson Davis and achieve historic
spite of the obstacles placed before me. Yes, my dear, even in our
there are obstacles. Alas, it reflects a basic defect that exists in
everywhere, I fear."), the
story excels in contrasting first-person inspections of the social and
political forces affecting each character's life.
David L. Gersh crafts a story that is filled
with psychological insights as much as politics and struggle. Readers
anticipate a story of military strategy alone will be surprised (and
that Gersh takes the time to candidly reveal the contrasting
perceptions of those who fought on both sides: "That
Bob’s a funny one. Today, during the battle, he don’t go and
hide like the other slaves. He found hisself a spot near where we was,
could watch the fightin’. I seen the look on his face. Maybe more hate
for the Yankees than I have. Don’t rightly know why, since them Yankees
supposed to be fightin’ fer him. Can have him, far as I’m concerned.
all of them for the good they are."
These approaches raise the story beyond a
war novel alone to represent the depth Gersh has captured in exploring
roots of the war.
From moral and ethical issues of brutal
struggle to the changing lives of all involved, The Whisper
of a Distant God will attract
military fiction readers with
its battle coverage—but then delivers something much more.
Filled with the
unexpected depth and detail that comes from a well-researched
Whisper of a Distant God deserves a prominent place not only
about New Mexico history and North/South struggles, but in discussion
about ethical issues. These will find its reflections on prejudice and
descriptions of the horrors of war to be more than thought-provoking,
encouraging considerations of loyalty, traitors, and the costs of
Return to Index
The Adventure of
978-1-7373539-8-0 $24.95 Hardcover $14.95 Paperback
How can a child
better handle early traumas to avoid obstacles to emotional growth in
life? Healing and self-love are the central themes in a book that
for young children who experience adversity and trauma in their lives.
The Adventure of Sockboy
illustrations by Karl "Ultrakarl" Cottle
as it pursues the story of a little boy with "popsicle feet" who
loves the comfort and support of warm socks. He decides to knit a sock
that covers his entire body like a superhero suit, which help him
The lilting rhyme
describes his dilemma, then illustrates his problem-solving solution,
involves a cozy-sounding idea carried to extremes.
As the boy plays
and discovers new abilities from his sock-building endeavor, young
delight in the unusual opportunities and dilemmas the boy's solution
to his life.
show that "some things worked well/but most things did not." It also
reveals an unexpected ultimate lesson about love, self-sufficiency, and
that kids and their read-aloud parents will find inviting.
The Adventure of Sockboy introduces this young
hero's world. Book 2 in the
series, Sockboy: The Halloween Special, was not
seen by this reviewer;
but if its lessons are as simply and compellingly presented as in this
introduction, both books will prove winners for parents looking to
messages about creative problem-solving, vulnerability and conflict resolution.
Return to Index
Adventures: The Lovey That Came to Life
Karen M. Bobos
$17.99 Hardcover/$12.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
The Bobos Babes
kids are at it again in another picture book adventure that enjoys
illustrations by Emily Hercock.
Newcomers to the
charming fantasy series need no prior introduction in order to
stand-alone story of Angel Scarlett, who has a precious lovey toy,
Pete, that brings her comfort and joy.
Because each of
the Bobos Babes has a magical power, Angel is able to bring her lovey
for an even better experience. When he then vanishes, the three sisters
on a magical journey to find him.
book readers who like adventures that include magic, castles, and
will especially appreciate these elements (and more) which permeate the
sisters' experiences in The Lovey That Came to Life.
It's presented in
a four-stanza rhyme which lends to parental read aloud, and includes
action details of adventure, combined with experiential descriptions of
Her lovey has
never left Scarlett before. He's the reason she "starts her day with a
laugh." What could have happened to the "sweet arctic guy"?
The answer holds
a satisfying surprise that will delight and entertain.
As in her other
Bobos Babes books, Karen M. Bobos creates a gentle story of both magic
sibling connections. Each of the Babes holds a special strength and
of them fosters connections with the world and her siblings that lends
positive perspectives and strength.
parents will find The Lovey That Came to Life an
addition and stand-alone story about problem-solving, love, and
treats that reinforce ideas of friendship and solidarity with bright
illustrations, whimsical fantasy, and fun.
Return to Index
978-1-953910-55-4 $3.99 ebook/$13.99 print
might as well live up to its name, with the isolation and ennui that
being stranded, as twelve-year-old Easterly Wind and her younger
at its life in Claws. Life changes, however, when a
mysteriously vanishes on the waters, leading the trio to undertake an
investigation that moves in mysterious ways.
The story differs
from most mysteries in that readers are let in on the secret from the
the lobsterman has been dragged to his doom by giant claws...the claws
seven-foot lobster. Seems like a fitting end.
But as rumors
begin to overtake the island and threaten its treasured tourism,
blamed for trying to start a panic over an impossible monster. And
Michael Tougias really crafts a winner, because the intrigue and
elements of a
sea monster become closely entwined with the island's politics and
individual motives for keeping the death under wraps.
attacks and adult ire, Easterly, Kristin, and Brian find themselves
going beyond identifying a perp to trying to salvage their reputations
pointing out a threat many would prefer to ignore.
There is some scientific basis for the
lobster premise in Claws, which is
neatly presented during the course of a controversial briefing: "Francis told me she doesn’t think
there are lobsters bigger than three feet long. But, she also said
never stop growing, and that scientists think lobsters can live well
hundred years. So technically, if one were never caught in a lobster
it lived for a long time, it’s possible they could grow beyond three
intriguing approach is that Tougias contrasts the human efforts and
with the perceptions of Claws herself: "Claws is furious that
effort to crush the fisherman’s head has been thwarted. But the boat is
backing away, and there is nothing she can do except glide back down to
perspectives of Mayor Ruth Snackle (an arrogant woman who, in this
doesn't know the truth), a rude, frightened lobsterman (Bacon, who has
hired to perform an impossible investigation that leads him to move
wanting fame to wanting out), and others dovetail, the story becomes a
exploration of special interests, fear, and survival tactics that
will attract middle grade readers looking for mysteries and involving
creatures. This group also receives an important environmental message
woven into the drama to bring the story to life.
The real winning
value of Claws lies not just in its depiction of a
sea monster and
looming disaster, but the depictions of determined, proactive pre-teens
receive important lessons about politics, environment, and following
against all odds.
cater to leisure readers with high-interest stories that hold important
messages will find Claws a winner.
Return to Index
Dogs Who Play Baseball
Thomas Louis Carroll
Almanor & Loraque Press
9781736633939 $3.99 ebook/$10.99 Paper
is a whimsical story of how a group of Bronx
children teach their dogs to play baseball. It's especially recommended
for middle graders who love both the sport and dogs, and provides a fun
exploration that outlines an inviting cast of characters.
on the surface, The Dogs Who Play Baseball is a
about animals and people, it's also a story about facing adversity,
problem-solving, and cooperative ventures and thinking.
the trappings of a sports/dog feature, therefore, lies the
beating heart of a positive experience that shows how ordinary children
an extraordinary atmosphere to defy the odds.
Louis Carroll's tale delves into not just playing games, but
managing teams. He also includes girls and boys as effective,
players and team members, which is another satisfying feature of the
going to play by the rule book or not?"
the kids learn how and when to challenge rules and how to create a
winning environment, young readers will relish the approaches to
winning which keep the story lively and engaging.
graders with a special interest in baseball and dogs will be
lured into reading a positive, action-filled story of cooperation and
The lessons The Dogs Who Play Baseball provides go
beyond the baseball
field to address life challenges and how to creatively solve problems
manner that creates positive results for all.
focuses make for a winning story that will delight young readers
and adults seeking more than a tale about winning and losing, but a
inspection that works on different levels.
Return to Index
Elijah Goes to
Buckeye Muscle Media, LLC
Elijah Goes to Cleveland presents a boy's
discovery of Cleveland, Ohio, and
is the first in a series that will involve him visiting different
visiting his grandparents when he decides to attend a concert. In order
obtain a free ticket, he has to embark on a scavenger hunt to find
the band at Cleveland's various landmarks.
presents a scenario in which the entire family participates in the
fun insights into family connections and shared experiences which
delightful illustration by Anh Bui.
As Elijah and his
grandparents trek around the city using their smart phone to locate
solve clues, young readers will appreciate both the geography lesson
image of a family working together to achieve a goal.
grandparent who is depicted as being active and intelligent rather than
infirm is another refreshing difference that sets Elijah Goes
apart from typical picture book stories of family interactions.
Goes to Cleveland is chosen as a read-aloud by parents
looking for stories
of families of color, as a geography lesson about Cleveland's history,
or as an
example of multi-generational experiences, it is certain to reach a
audience of picture book readers who will appreciate its adventure and
Return to Index
Gotham Kitty opens with an interspecies confrontation on
an alien planet as a Catusapien captured by the insect alien Brozians
before the ship sets down on Earth for refueling and supplies.
Banes is in East Africa, working on her doctorate degree in zoology,
comes upon what looks like a sleeping kitty, brings the little alien
home, and unwittingly unleashes a force that involves an ancient curse
threat to the Bantu tribe.
alien each struggle with unfamiliar conditions and threats, 11-year-old
girl Cassidy Mkama finds herself involved in a fine blend of horror and
that will especially appeal to middle grades who like unexpected action
alien stranded on earth prove the catalyst for defeating an ancient
Fans of paranormal fiction will relish the growth of Kitty as she
new world, finds a place in it, and uncovers a strength unusual for the
of her species.
Gotham Kitty also excels in a sense of family and community
as Kitty is introduced to the Chagga people, whose prophecy helps
mysteries become more understandable.
Laila, and others confront the Evil Shadowy Figure, Allison's rescue and
protection of Gotham Kitty is perhaps the only thing keeping complete
sci-fi and paranormal elements raise the book's appeal to a wider
Despite its youthful characters, the story should reach into adult
its satisfying twists and turns and unusual premises.
involving, and filled with
recommended for a wide age range, who will find the mix of sci-fi and
paranormal action inviting and original.
Return to Index
Lou's Wonderfully Weird Christmas Dinner
978-1736833711 $9.85 Paper/.99 Kindle
Wonderfully Weird Christmas Dinner is a holiday story with a difference. It
tells of a determined grandmother who decides that, rather than being
Christmas Day, she'll invite some friends to join her. Even if they are
with the first-person vantage point of nine-year-old
Earnestine, who lies abed with chicken pox the week before Christmas
her holiday fun vanishing, Grandma Lou's Wonderfully Weird
evolves over a father's intention to entertain his grieving child with
father always spent Christmas with his mother, at her house. One
year, after he's married, he decides to spend the holiday with his
a Grandma to do about spoiled holiday traditions?
decides to call an old friend who likely will also be alone, and
invites him over. One thing leads to another, and Gil's caregiver Tom
invited. The celebration keeps expanding as wide as hearts and the
spirit can go.
receive an important message about celebrations, invitations,
traditions, and widening one's circle to include others as Earnestine
her father's lovely story of a grandmother who is proactive about
certain that her holiday is the best ever.
helping the homeless to solving holiday dilemmas in a way that
brings the real Christmas spirit home for a home-cooked meal for all,
LaRocque creates a moving story that invites all ages to imbibe.
many messages about giving, creative problem-solving, changing
traditions, and turning disappointment into a positive experience will
adults will especially welcome introducing to a young listener's world,
independent readers will appreciate the detail of one zany Christmas
that comes to unexpected life.
collection strong in children's family and holiday stories should be
without this unusual portrait of a Christmas conundrum that turns into
celebration to remember.
Return to Index
Hale: The Rise of
Morgan James Publishing
978-1-63195-555-6 $18.95 Paper/$.99 ebook
Hale: The Rise of the Griffins is the perfect fantasy
of choice for readers with
short attention spans. Why? It's not because J.K. Noble chooses a
format, but because the adventure is presented as four interconnected
works, each excellent adventures packed with both metaphor and action.
particularly adept at placing readers in the center of Hale's magical
"At that moment, Hale notices a cool wave of air slowly
from above. It feels as though tiny particles of dust are pouring over
head. And yet, he sees there is nothing there at all. His feet feel an
magnetic pull, connecting him to the earth. But once this wave rushes
his body lifts off the ground completely. A celestial and invigorating
courses through him. Under this inexplicable light, he feels a
the universe, and he can see everything—as if everything unexplainable
makes perfect sense."
The structure and
fine descriptions aren't all that set Hale apart
from most fantasies for
young adults. Equally notable is an attention to destiny, dysfunctional
relationships, the epic struggle of good and bad choices conducted on
of personal realizations, and characters who struggle with their
identities, immortality, and other choices.
injects different dialogues into the piece. This may stymie some
succeeds in a degree of authenticity that bows to character diversity: "Garet
curses. The stranger turns. But Garet is too drunk to care and leaves,
rambling, “What does a person ’ave to do fahr a ’alf-decent dose o’
dey won’t ’ave to see death ’anging around?” He storms back toward
apartment, zigzagging along the sidewalk. “All the souls she’s
to me. All of ’em, and I’m still seeing dese wretched things!” He
“And where the ’ell is dat green man? Whatever da ’ell ’is name was!”
As Hale moves between
Griffin and human forms, an invitation for him to enter a place where
"Hale and I will be the family we once were" threatens his life.
Mature themes of manipulation, choices and consequences, and loss and redemption are woven into the action, providing satisfying food for thought while supporting an overall fantasy adventure that is vividly portrayed.
more than a formula fantasy story who look for stories of
courage, conflict, and survival will find all these elements and more
The Rise of the Griffins. It's a story which will appeal to
all YA fantasy
fans, especially those who will find these interconnected adventures
Return to Index
It's Time to Say Goodnight
Dr. S. Amna Husain, MD.
With so many picture books on the market
that provide bedtime stories for read-aloud parents, one might wonder
perspective and need for yet another in It's
Time to Say Goodnight.
But, between the gentle rhyme which presents
a cadence and reflections that are slow-moving and relaxing and Ana
lovely, colorful drawings that capture a range of animals preparing for
bedtime, this sleep-encouraging story deserves a spot in any bedtime
for the very young.
As the day draws to a close, each animal
prepares for bedtime in a different manner.
Young puppies, bears, owls, and others all
receive different kinds of directions from their parents on how to
and kids will appreciate the warm observations of how different parents
encourage this process.
With its varied and warm depictions of
"feeling loved, warm, and tight," kids and parents will appreciate
the calming atmosphere of love that weaves into these stories and the
experience of telling them. Sleep becomes an accessible goal under the
influence of a story that embraces all kinds of parent/child support
Return to Index
readers and adults looking to teach the very young about fears and how
conquer them will find The Lion in Your Heart a
winning story about
tapping into inner strengths.
Dennis has moved
to a new house and is afraid to sleep alone. His mother tries to
there's a fierce lion of survival and courage who lives in his heart,
Dennis doesn't see matters this way, and questions that concept.
Anil Yap's lovely
drawings illustrate the conundrums young Dennis faces with an
nighttime imagination, a new environment, and a loving mother who
her young child's fear with wisdom and lessons on how to confront the
thought-provoking is the focus on the fear of new experiences and how
overcome them while accepting that it's okay to feel afraid.
Beautiful drawings, a bedtime story with an
important message for approaching life's changes, and a lesson in what
really means makes for a picture book story that appeals on many
levels; but especially to read-aloud parents seeking to prepare a child
Return to Index
Jeremy C. Gredone
picture book story opens on the first day of school, when a perfect
appears on the side mirror of the family car. When the car gains speed,
angry spider appears, only to find further challenge with a freeway
the watchful eyes of the humans who both move along in their daily
observe Maxwell's reactions to the road.
As colorful drawings by D. Sherene Offutt
capture the spider's dilemmas and the family's reactions, the spider
The family comes to believe that Maxwell's
perseverance makes him no ordinary spider...a fact proven by
circumstances the next day.
Maxwell presents a whimsical fantasy story
that imparts lessons about adaptation, courage, and determination.
Kids will enjoy the fantasy superhero
visions the young characters develop over Maxwell's abilities and the
a legend that just keeps getting more fantastic.
Nothing lasts forever...but, can Maxwell
live on in the minds of those around him? He can, and does...albeit in
unusual manner that concludes with a surprise twist over exactly what
Maxwell so amazing to the humans who became part of his life.
Jeremy C. Gredone excels in creating a fun
and thought-provoking book that addresses all kinds of themes, from
legends and courage to handling the impermanence of life. Its warm,
story invites picture book readers and read-aloud parents to thoroughly
Return to Index
9781953910837 $12.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Ms. Goshsquash is
a little farmer lady who owns a yak and has the uncanny ability to know
"just what to do" with bad children.
children who skip home from school one day face the "Goshsquash rule"
when they pass by her farm and listen to her off-pitch song about bad
before each is dealt with in a magical manner.
however is the "baddest of all." Unshaken by Ms. Goshsquash's powers
and what happened to his peers, Billy maintains his courage as he views
really is going on with his friends as a result of Ms. Goshsquash's
Tilda and Roscoe
have been forced to see the consequences of their actions. Will Billy
to learn from their experiences? And, what will happen when they return
presents an intriguing story in which a bad witch also assumes the role
parents of this picture book story will appreciate both the lilting
the opportunity to transmit to young listeners important lessons about
effects of their behaviors on those around them.
With its dash of
magic and astute hand to describing recognition and recovery processes,
Goshsquash blends a hard lesson with a fun read that adults
can use to both
entertain and educate the very young.
Return to Index
Munchimonster Zero-Waste Sustainable Eco-Fun
979-8623256430 $7.75 Paper/$2.99 ebook
Sustainable Eco-Fun is a delightful picture book exploration of
the concepts of zero waste and environmental responsibility. It
very young with a basic primer that adults can use to introduce
green living and recycling at an earlier age than most children's books.
The appeal comes through the character of
Munchimonster, who defines the concept of zero waste, explores why
should be interested in creating a healthy environment, and draws
connections between nature and human affairs.
These connections are reinforced by facts
and pages that invite kids to actively participate through coloring.
the perfect format for parents looking to teach kids through
All this is presented in full-color pages
that are packed with attention-getting drawings that move from fantasy
creatures to realities such as compost. The action-oriented, brightly
panels will attract and maintain young reader attention with a fun
Other art projects promote the idea of
sustainability, such as a bag that can hold a water canteen for
(rather than the usual one-use plastic bottle), providing practical
reinforce the notion that even the youngest child is capable of making
informed, sustainable choices.
From cloth bags that can be used many times
to watering a home garden at day's end to save water or making organic
gardening a hobby, kids receive a book that goes beyond outlining facts
recycling and ecology.
Its blend of "can do" choices,
revised approaches to living, and knowledge educates picture book
options they can choose to help change the world for the better.
This emphasis on individual empowerment and
better choices, presented in a fun format that will appeal to the very
goes beyond picture books that explore the issues in a less interactive
The result is a title that should be on the bookshelves and in the
hands of any
adult seeking to involve a young child in assuming early responsibility
stewardship of the planet.
Munchimonster, who fosters understanding, is
also featured in other titles in the series which tackle different
Adults and kids who find Zero Waste an
attractive, positive package will want to look for the other series
Return to Index
Dark Stroke Books
979-8483552086 $7.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
written for YA audiences are few and far between, but it's
impossible to categorize the nonstop action of Pretty Deadly
but a genre read for teens. Its depiction of petty crime, society
revenge will reach mature teen to adult audiences with a vivid story
of parallel plots and nefarious schemes that involve Cinna and con
friend Johann in a competition to quash the social event of the year.
Josund creates atmospheric descriptions throughout to bring the
backdrop to life: "Fog rolled down over the hill that housed
graveyard, not thick yet but promising to become denser as the night
Perfect for sneaking, if that had been what he wanted to do, but not
for his purposes."
finds himself unnerved by Cinna's astute abilities and
perceptions. He even harbors a bit of terror over her intentions
as well. Cinna is the "girl of his dreams and nightmares" who knows
his weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and is in a position to exploit
teens receive a story that is as vivid in its interpersonal
inspections as it is in its action and social and political commentary.
story evolves into a plot that embraces a dead duchess and a burned
mansion, and the elements of intrigue meld nicely with the tale of
soldiers, an assumed identity, and a plot that has Cinna wondering what
alter ego Elena would do.
a prince rescues Cinna, Cinderella comes to
a distinct criminal backdrop that keeps readers thinking about
developments and emotional connections.
result blends romance, intrigue, and action in a delightful story
that will build thriller enthusiasts from YA audiences unused to the
experience, while attracting adult readers with a special blend of
revolves around royalty, heists, and a relationship doomed to explode.
Return to Index
Kim Dwyer, Ph.D.
978-1-7373253-3-8 $12.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook
When Baby Owl
outgrows his nest in Rocky's Christmas Journey, his
dilemma prompts him
to take flight away from his comfort zone and parents to find a new
He appears to
discover the perfect nap spot, but when a strange forest noise awakens
the daylight, he finds a dangerous threat to his forest home. What can
owl do to save the day, even if he has moved from Baby Owl to Brave Owl?
Brave Owl's new
nest is very warm and the world is very cold. So he goes back to sleep.
he awakens, his world has changed.
Baby/Brave Owl to do?
Kim Dwyer's story
is simply delightful, spiced with exquisite, colorful drawings by Moran
It's based on a true story of a little owl who was found in the
Christmas tree, which makes it an even more compelling.
season and decorations come alive under Dwyer's hand in a story based
on a real
discovery. A concluding section of owl facts and a guide for caregivers
to interpret this story and discuss it with young picture book readers
listeners completes its value not just for the Christmas season, but
The blend of
Christmas experience, the gift of giving and care, and the little owl's
observation of his changing world is a warm story that both captures
holiday spirit and provides important lessons about conservation and
away from safe, familiar environments.
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Rosco Run. Rosco
Steven C. Thedford
New World Press Inc.
9780975973035 $14.99 Hardcover/$4.99 ebook
Rosco Run. Rosco Fun. is a simple story that
young dog lovers and their
read-aloud parents will relish. It's filled with action-packed words
lines of detail and describes dog Rosco's skips, flips, sips, and dips
traverses his neighborhood and becomes involved with its delights and
As he lounges by
(and in) the pool, eats hot dogs, roller skates, and generally enjoys a
life of mixed activity and rest, picture book readers will enjoy the
large-size color illustrations by Patrick Carlson that bring Rosco's
It's nice to see
a story that juxtaposes leisure and fun activity, teaching the very
the value of both approaches to daily living.
welcome the positive, uplifting world of Rosco and his happy form of
interacting with life in a balanced way, and can use Rosco
Run. Rosco Fun.
as a read-aloud introduction on how to live life to its fullest,
playing or relaxing.
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Somewhere Different Now
Somewhere Different Now
is Annie Cahill's three-part story,
opening four years after the end of World War II.
Her family has moved out of the city to a
new suburb and teenager Annie feels isolated, alienated, and out of
Her astute examinations of the social and
historical influences that affect her world are provided from the
of hindsight and blossoming maturity: "I
don't mean to sound all Pollyannish or suggest that trouble did not
from time to time, because it did. I'm only saying that the environment
by the circumstances of that unique historical period was a perfect fit
and allowed me to blossom in ways I did not experience at school or
closed doors of my often-chaotic family life."
Resisting her mother's attempts to turn her
into a young lady despite her tomboyish, outdoorsy personality, Annie
different path. It's easy to flee privilege and angst when you're
young, and so
she takes off, prompted by a fight and a dream that portend a different
An abandoned cave seems the perfect isolated
place to heal, but it's not long before Annie finds herself facing an
visitor: black girl Clydeen Hollifield, who is fleeing the authorities.
Her voice and experiences dovetail nicely
with Annie's trauma, offering a contrast of their lives and the racial
of their times.
Clydeen's complex story of family and
authorities is narrated in a voice that brings her experiences to life:
"My mama, she called Beth Hollifield. Her
real name Bethany, but everybody call her Beth. My daddy, he was James
Hollifield. My mama call me Baby, and she tol' me the story of my birth
million times. How she lift me up naked to the full moon and whispered
to me, not Baby, mind you, but my real name, Clydeen. Is it a true
jus' her imaginins? I don't know, but I like the story anyhow. It makes
like there was a time she loved me best."
As the two disparate girls uncover secrets,
consider their next moves, and find themselves locked in an odd
and struggle against those who would control them, an uncertain
develops. This is further tested by the arrival of another stranger: a
WWII resistance fighter.
Donna Peizer brings many elements and
scenarios to life in her story. Some might say that the complexity of
social issues against the post-war recovery injects almost too many
into one story; but Somewhere Different
Now represents a dance of social and
political developments that is well done and perfectly orchestrated.
The juxtaposition of evolving racial issues
of the times; the two girls' different voices, backgrounds, and
opportunity and angst; and the added value of a different political
imparted by artistic dreamer Ulie (who disappeared during the war) and
mother Eva (who longs for his return) makes for an enlightening tale.
With so many character stories involved,
Peizer identifies the different, changing perspectives in chapter
eliminate any possibility of confusion.
The result is a thought-provoking contrast
between dreams, disparate realities, and the experiences of characters
grow beyond their foundations, thanks to their interactions with one
Teens will find Somewhere
quite a different exploration of the post-World War II milieu, and an
intriguing probe into the social and racial issues of a recovering
the individuals within it who struggle with their own destinies.
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Taint, Rebecca's day has come. She
ready to write her love story—a "necessary fiction" that returns to
the days of high school, when her senior year coincided with the
terrorism during 9/11 and the rape of her best friend in a small town
(which only Rebecca witnessed).
was also a
time when Rebecca loved Luke.
the start, Taint presents the
scenario of impending
doom and powerful response. As the sole witness to an atrocity which
happen to her, Rebecca is charged with both keeping a secret for the
her friend and navigating the milieu of high school in which the rapist
prominent public role.
savvy teen who approaches her world with a solid sense of survival
tactics: "By twelfth grade, however, idealism
goes underground as one of “unspeakables.” I am smart enough to know
want to look dumb. I know that I know just enough about politics, art,
religious ecstasy, et cetera to look dumb. So I say nothing at all
about any of
these things that could trick me up into looking like a “stupid
determined to seek justice on a level that taps into a personal well of
courage, while remaining circumspect for the sake of her friend.
challenge leads her to find a chilling way to exact revenge, and
readers to consider the moral, ethical, and social conundrums of rape
terrorism's effects on not just victims, but everyone who loves them.
friend's evolving feelings about the experience to Rebecca's
"keep her mouth sealed. For good" against all odds and pressures, Taint provides a thoroughly
thought-provoking read for teens that questions the foundations of
abuse, friendship, loyalty, and justice.
of this story make it recommended for mature teens who will find in Taint a powerful narrative that will
lead them to reflect on issues, both social and sexual, that injects
into daily life.
story should be in any collection seeking to address these topics for
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upon a time, long ago, four clans located in remote regions of the
planet joined forces to defeat a threat to humanity. They were gifted
abilities to win their fight...traits that set them apart from normal
and which were passed along to their descendants, who kept apart from
forward in time to Auor Island. Here, seemingly ordinary girl Elin
Bodil becomes simultaneously involved with a new neighbor and a
powerful prologue draws readers into the story to reveal the
aftermath of what is to come: "My family was safe. How I
longed to be
enjoying myself with the rest of them, but I knew I was different...I
see them again soon, but for now, it would have to be silence. I had no
It was my fault after all—I had to go. Some would argue that where I
going was impossible or imagined—a fantasy—and until a few months ago,
would’ve agreed with them. To be found and invited to join was
Learning their secrets was beyond my wildest imaginings. Landing in the
of a brewing conflict was never part of the plan."
both sets the stage and opens Elin's first-person narration of
events as the first chapter explores the new neighbor's arrival and the
he introduces to her life.
readers pursue her story, supernatural elements emerge to add
intrigue and danger. Elin and her new friends attempt to juggle regular
(school dances, other friendships, and family life) with an emerging
about the Clan and its latest threat.
Visuri does an outstanding job of juxtaposing fantasy and real-world
concerns as the tension and action escalate.
ability to portray both worlds creates a read which is involving as
Elin faces school life without formerly trusted friends (they are
new school on the mainland) and finds herself forced to rely on new,
relationships with Tristan and those whose psyches and intentions
solid device for depicting the concerns of all sides lies in
shifting viewpoints which change from Elin to Aedan and Tristan.
fantasy readers who want a story about new and evolving
relationships, changing life purposes and perspectives, and threats to
and community connections will find The Undiscovered
excellent, satisfying story.
takes the time to depict home and small town/island life, creating a
firm foundation for exploring the events that threaten change. This, in
crafts the perfect scenario for considering just how and why these
become so invested in outcomes that challenge their worlds and
Undiscovered Descendants is highly recommended for teen fantasy
readers who look for more than action and adventure in their stories.
community, family life, and growth opportunities presented to this
circle of new friends reflects a bond that makes for a compelling,
Return to Index
Sleep and the Fading Creeps
978-1980944393 $9.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
Where Dragonwoofs Sleep and the Fading
Creeps reaches advanced
elementary through middle school readers with a fantasy in which an
boy awakens to find himself in an extraordinary world.
Ben had no inkling that he was destined for something more than an
life. When he awakens, one night, into a land that seems to be another
he is introduced to the fading magical world of Meridia and is charged
mission: to undertake a journey to save this magical realm.
Why should an
average Earth boy be conscripted into service or eager to save a
Because his successful confrontation with The Fading that threatens
also change his life.
A.J. Massey opens
the story with a series of confrontations highly reminiscent of Alice
Wonderland, where Ben's puzzled questions are met with
injected with whimsical humor: “This weed refuses to ask the
in order to receive the right answers.” Ben sighed. “What is the right
to receive the right answer?”
“Pertaining to what?”
Ben growled before speaking slowly and deliberately. “What is the right question to receive the right answer to find the shelter?”
The faerie spun in the air. “Ah, of course, the right question to receive the right answer to find the shelter would be for this weed to ask if it can follow us to the shelter.”
“Can I follow you to the shelter?”
The faerie flew away from Ben and deeper into the forest. “Yes, why did this weed not ask us this before?”
As Ben joins
forces with Queen Regent Avery, Marcus, and elf Tam, they undertake an
foray pursued by Sovereign and his generals, who have a vested interest
seeing that the Fading continues to consume the land.
will appreciate the whimsical interplays between characters, the sense
Massey injects into the story for comic relief, and the interactions
friends who also explore their changing relationships with one another.
example, can't understand why his best friend Anna would prefer to
relationship with a boy who is abusive, rather than moving from
something more, with him.
drinking contests to getting the right answers in one world that allows
change another, the story moves between sleep realm adventures and
conundrums in a satisfyingly smooth manner.
and turns keep teens engaged and wondering about the outcome of an epic
that keeps both friends and readers on their toes.
While Where Dragonwoofs Sleep and the Fading Creeps is an excellent choice for fantasy leisure readers, it also holds enough literary humor and wordplay to ideally attract educators interested in exploring themes of language and humor, and who look for contemporary reads beyond Alice in Wonderland for such examples.Where Dragonwoofs Sleep and the Fading Creeps
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