February 2021 Review Issue
E. A. Dustin
9798636199632 $13.30 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Sci-fi fans who have been binging on 'pandemic fiction' reads will find the satisfying backdrop of a post-pandemic world blended with military sci-fi in Artima’s Travels. It's the story of a determined young woman charged with tracking down the hacker who has caused a missile to misfire in the Pacific, further threatening world stability.
Arty's effort sends her on an unexpected journey through both relationships in her life and intrigue as she faces a storm of change and encounters that test her perceptions of life outside the military circles she runs in.
Unlike most hard sci-fi or military sci-fi reads, E.A. Dustin knows how to embed emotional scenes, connections, and emotion-driven encounters into her story. This makes Artima's Travels far more compelling than the majority of genre reads.
This attention to emotional detail permeates not only her investigations but her team's approach to problem-solving as Artima struggles to redefine those people she thought she knew: “Yes, we first met in San Diego during your last visit there,” Harry replied, quickly looking away. The familiar nod between Harry and Paul in San Diego flashed in front of Arty. Why would Harry say they first met in San Diego when clearly, they had met before?"
As problem-solving, intrigue, family relationships, and Navy politics entwine, readers will find the story strongly driven by a feisty female who knows how to get things done, who confronts the technological, social, and gender challenges of her position and life.
result is a compelling read that cements its action with a vivid,
protagonist. Arty's world and concerns are central in a story that's
with surprising twists and hard to put down. Military sci-fi readers
this up for its Navy references; but civilians, too, will find Artima's
Travels absolutely riveting.
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Crucible: Records of
Michael J. Farlow
of the Argos introduces a
series in which is set after the Arkon war in Host
Saga, but requires no prior introduction to prove
accessible and engrossing.
in one sector of the Arkon empire, prompting Nick Hall and his crew to
investigate in an old cargo ship, the Argos, which disguises their
The crew and
discover that the disappearances are part of a bigger struggle. This
might be predictable; but less expected is the dilemma that draws them
personally into a planet's bid for freedom against all odds.
opens with the capture of yet another cargo vessel, the real action
the introductory chapter, which provides a first-person introduction to
Nickolas Hall, who captains the old ship Argos on its journey into
Here, Nick and his crew confront piracy and the planetary Resistance,
overpowered and outgunned, and find their mission on the fast track to
its dangers. As Nick and his cohorts face Resistance and Arkon clashes,
forced to revise some of his perceptions of each force:
"I didn’t think the
Arkon I knew of were very flexible. But the value of the potential
their part probably contributed to their flexibility."
between vying factions, giving readers a multifaceted set of
the conflict and the acuity of all involved:
"The former Resistance member and
leader had some regrets at having to take this action. She knew
everyone in the
town. Grew up with many of them...If she survived, she would be
the rest of her life. But she was still mentally burdened by the
to her people caused by her new position and actions. In the end,
out over sentimentality."
builds his story on two strong foundations: action-packed
psychological explorations of all the characters and their influences.
underlying attention to detail creates both a fast-paced story in which
characters, including a quirky AI,
never an easy process. As all the participants find their perceptions
values challenged, the story assumes an engrossing complexity that
intrigue with a mission that births something unexpectedly new into the
political and world-building mix.
this genre as well as fans of high adventure will be delighted to find
story both expands the dimensions of Farlow's original Host Saga worlds
stands well on its own as a captivating story of war and one crew's
in the lasting ramifications of its outcome.
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A Flood of Posies
Black Spot Books/Vesuvian Media
Print: 978-1-64548-026-6 $17.95
Ebook: 978-1-64548-027-3 $ 7.49
Posies, two sisters, Doris and Thea, live very different
lives in 2025,
even through they reside near each other. Climate change shows no
economic status or lifestyle, however, and as waters rise and threaten
both, they make survival choices that are very different.
Fast forward a year, to a
flooded world. Thea (newly renamed
Sestra) and her companion Robert float through this ravaged world still
starvation and deprivation, but with the added challenge of the
Posies—mysterious Levitian-type sea monsters who have arisen with the
waters, from unfathomable depths.
Sestra is a survivor of both
her sister and her former
life, but she has no idea where she is heading, or why. She swims, she
and she tries to keep track of the strange beasts that have ended the
so many other humans: "Aside from
the basic functions of trying to not die, Sestra had spent the past
running from posies and praying they wouldn’t take her too. That she
be stolen into the water like so many others, never to be seen again.
As if the
earth-ending flood of biblical proportions wasn’t enough, of course
to be monsters too."
As this dystopian story
evolves, it's pleasing to note
that Tiffany Meuret's examination is as much upon changing
human endeavors as on the face of world-changing disaster, focusing
very different, yet interconnected, psyches of two sisters who lead
lives both before and after the flood.
This perspective is wound
into the story in such a way
that the strength and mysterious purposes of the monsters within are
powerful and evolutionary as those which come from this changed reality.
It's the sisters'
relationship that really drives the
plot. The overlay of an apocalyptic event doesn't just change
reinforces the very different approaches to life, and the perceptions,
these sisters have always cultivated: "It
was becoming more difficult to see, which was a comfort for Doris. She
imagine then, in the dark. It covered her up. Life was easier when all
was in the dark. Thea breathed raggedly, laboring like a pneumonic
Doris listened to her for a long time, grateful for the noise. They
for a while before Thea couldn’t tolerate it any longer. She never
silence, stuffing the void with her noise whenever it got too quiet.
bark, a gnaw, a stab at Doris’s senses. Always sharp—Thea would never
fade out. She took it as more of a personal slight that she had to
another break she had to try and fix..."
As Meuret's story unfolds
and newfound family connections
are made, readers come to realize that this story of apocalyptic change
internal and external. Meuret does an exquisite job of capturing the
descriptions of family dynamics in this newly-fluid environment: "The family couldn’t help but be
strangled by her sister—Thea worst of all. The golden child, the
all others to be judged against. She
wanted to hate Doris; she wanted so badly to tell her off, to blame
her own emotional paralysis. Most times, Thea felt like burying her
if the universe would right itself if she was gone, like cutting off
of the villain in a fairy tale. But then she’d catch that look from
watery marble gaze of a drowning person, and Thea knew that her sister
all as much as she did."
Memories return in flashes
as various aspects of these
relationships are explored, so readers treated to an unexpected study
psychology and survival tactics will come to appreciate the power of A Flood of Posies for more than its
Flood of Posies
is highly recommended reading for readers of fantasy and women's
look for more in their world-ending and world-building studies than an
action-packed survival saga alone.
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The Bond: How a Mixed Bag of Foster Kids Became a
Family for Life
goes beyond most stories of adoption to consider the heart of what
family and what actions solidify family connections. This memoir of
and foster children is about much more than the process of physical
unity cover how unrelated siblings form bonds, chronicling ten years in
Grotticelli's turbulent life during which he interacted with eight
from broken families who were thrown together under one roof.
paint pictures of evolving domestic bliss, Grotticelli offers more
assessments of the difficulties in building a blended family from
roots and the evolving "distance, denial, and disturbing lows" that
ultimately affected the family and his feelings about his newfound
Despite all obstacles, this family ultimately offered connections he couldn't have received elsewhere: "We came from different worlds and were brought together through no choice of our own. Despite the chaos, we hit it off in a way that has endured many tests of time."
history of his adoption and foster care experience, readers receive
insights into not only his particular home dynamics, but how they
his life: "For Mrs. Nelson, having
us all at home and not visiting our natural parents was preferred. She
carrot of adoption to keep us on our best behavior and keep the world
the Nelsons’ home was a successful and nurturing place. In reality it
good and bad, depending upon Mrs. Nelson’s mood. That made her
gauge. The good days made the bad ones tolerable. Adoption made foster
bit more palatable."
struggles with drugs and absent parents who reentered the picture
providing support to the adults' detachment from the Nelson experience,
The Bond provides a hard-hitting
of insights into the effects of the foster care and adoption systems on
the diverse children in the household.
More so than
about adoption, The Bond covers
long-term impact and bigger pictures of fostering and adoption. These
make The Bond a 'must read' for
anyone interested in how these systems work, how family ties are
how dysfunction affects even the best of intentions. It covers the
these children evolved with each other independent of their foster home
and system, covering their struggles and ultimate triumphs.
The Bond's dynamic,
highly recommended examination commands attention and features many
lessons, especially for those unfamiliar with the foster system and its
approaches to family support, organization, and maintenance.
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A Converted Woman's Voice
Maria Covey Cole
Maria Covey Cole is a Latter-day Saint who explores what it means to have such a perspective about the world and God in A Converted Woman's Voice: Being Valiant in the Testimony of Jesus and in His Restored Gospel.
and newfound mission to life-changing teachings from the Book of Mormon
role of women as Latter-day Saints, this story blends reflections on
those teaching his word with the story of how Cole's renewed faith and
determination changed her approach to her life and religion's place in
it: "Several years ago, I made a commitment
to follow my brother’s example to increase the frequency of my temple
and to claim the blessings God had in store for me. I, too, have felt a
of spiritual power come into my life that I had not previously
all of my years of inconsistent temple attendance."
references from elders and other Saints throughout this discourse
various ways of testifying and living according to the restored gospel:
"Elder M. Russell Ballard says he likes
to compare spiritual armor with chain mail—the dozens of tiny steel
allow greater movement, yet effectively keep us safe from harm. He
“It has been my experience that there is not one great and grand thing
do to arm ourselves spiritually. True spiritual power lies in numerous
acts woven together in a fabric of spiritual fortification that
shields from all evil.” Former General Young Women’s President, Sister
Dalton, further clarified: “When you do small things consistently, they
part of who you are, and they change you. It really is ‘by small and
things [that] great things [are] brought to pass.’”
learn about the Latter-day approach to living life and worshipping God
find that Cole provides many powerful connections between both, from
discussions of emotional well-being to teaching kids family mission
that both reinforce spiritual teachings and the family structure united
Much more so
religious discussions, this focus on the attitude, process, and beliefs
converted woman, in particular, provides insights that are not often
in competing books about faith: "There
is no one more powerful or influential than a converted woman who knows
is, what she stands for, and who is prepared to do battle for the cause
Christ. A woman like that can change the world."
strongly alongside those she quotes from liberally in her book as major
influences of her thinking, from religious leaders in the church, DIY
and ordinary men and women to others who reflect on the presence of God
Woman's Voice's spiritual-driven focus on the converted
presence, and possibilities is especially recommended reading for those
would understand the teachings and approach of the Latter-day Saints
womens' roles in reaching for, incorporating, and better understanding
influence and direction of God in daily living.
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Around the Way Publishing
978-1-7355299-0-5 $16.95 Paper/$9.98 Kindle
Falling Love Notes: Memories of a Rock Star Wife
offers a revealing
close-up examination of life before and after Samantha's marriage to
Bennington, the lead singer for the rock band Linkin Park. It provides
not only of the world of this rock music star's wife, but her
growing up in the music industry and her passion for both its routines
world outside of it.
Most of all,
story about remaining true to oneself and the values of family and
while becoming more mindful about life and one's place and role in it.
way, Falling Love Notes may begin
with an appeal to the rock music fan in general, but holds notes that
attract any audience interested in growth and creating a lesson plan
contributing to the greater good.
powerful tale that opens with a child's fight with a grown woman and
figure, one of two such important people in her life who were both "bat
shit crazy." Her trust and belief in a father who ultimately failed to
support her and instead chose to placate a stepmother's desire that
family is just one of the themes that come full circle in this story.
From fresh starts and close sibling relationships developed against all adversity to forming a chosen family who have her back to then becoming part of a traveling music group 'family' on the road, Bennington's description of mental and physical health challenges, life, and her evolving world offers many insights: "We all lived and worked together, traveling from city to city, state to state, and even country to country. When that happens, the people you spend time with really do become family. Our new family of friends were there for us in both our day-to-day and our business lives. Together, we all became a fusion of love."
musician bios on the market which chart similar paths and experiences,
Bennington's memoir differs with its focus on the growth of not just
relationships between band members and fans, but her own pursuit of
growth and her especially astute realizations of challenges during this
process: "I gave him space to not
have family pressures when he recorded. Then our fights became the “I
fight” instead of him taking the day-to-day studio grind out on yours
wasn’t that he meant to. Like many people, Chester was harder on the
loved because he thought they loved him so much they would put up with
shit. I’m not going to start pointing fingers. I know I’m guilty of
same. But, maybe because I did love him so much I made excuses for his
likely pick up this book because of a specific interest in the band
or the rock music world in particular, they'll leave with something
sense of how purpose, place, and family is reinvented as the winds of
buffet their lives: "With scary
conspiracies and so many people in our lives we needed to be completely
to see clearly and make the best decisions for our future and safety."
choose Falling Love Notes for its
promise gain much more through Bennington's story of how she moved
the worlds and choices she was given, to learn and love in different
read, Falling Love Notes is just as powerful as in its role as a
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Honey: Searching for Meaning on a Bicycle
Print: 978-1-951490-92-8 $15.99
eBook: 978-1-951490-93-5 $ 5.99
Honey: Searching for Meaning on a Bicycle is
a multinational journey that begins in England and moves through
Middle East, and Asia. William Spencer travels eight thousand
bicycle, encountering different cultures and environments that
shift his worldview.
admitting that while he and his buddy said they were embarking on an
journey to India via bicycle, they weren't sure they'd make it. It took
for them to crystallize this notion. They had little savings, but
mother and stepfather, avid travelers themselves, supported the
the ride a lesson he learned from a prior trip, which is that "being on a bicycle brings out the best
in those we meet." This perception supports him through
of cycling, nights spent sleeping under the stars, every time they find
themselves accepting the hospitality of hosts that teach them about the
societies they are passing through, sickness, and bad moods.
All of the realities of a cross-cultural exploration are incorporated into this cycling adventure, in which Spencer adopts a “you are there” storytelling style to explore both interpersonal relationships and encounters with strangers, as well as the ongoing challenges inherent in the experience.
aficionados will relish Far
Sweeter Than Honey for its attention to detail.
growth and revelations evolve into gratitude and wonder for the journey
looking for a
book that goes far beyond the usual single-country exploration will find Far
Sweeter Than Honey the next best thing
to undertaking such a
And for those who dream of following in this author’s footsteps, reading his account is a sure way to better understand the realities of doing so, and the rewards of growth and understanding that come with the journey.Far Sweeter Than Honey: Searching for Meaning on a Bicycle
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Man, The Myth, The Movies
Mary Gullermin, Editor
$21.95 Paper; $7.95 Kindle; $39.95 Hardcover
Guillermin has made his mark in the industry with many classic
it's surprising to note that until the publication of John
Guillermin: The Man, The Myth, The Movies, there has been no
book-length discussion of his extensive movie-making influences.
was married to him for the last sixteen years of his life, and so is in
unique position to chronicle many of these achievements from first-hand
knowledge, as well as editing other accounts of his life and times. John Guillermin: The Man, The Myth, The
Movies thus assumes a unique role not just as the sole book
about him, but
as a wide-ranging survey whose facts are reviewed by a wife in the
assemble writings from a diverse range of contributors who knew John
in different ways.
film history, Guillermin has not been given due credit. This is
as contributor after contributor notes Guillermin's many achievements
impact on cinematic artistry and productions beyond his own personal
insights on his
personality profile and psychology that stem from Mary Guillermin's own
profession to creative, artistic commentary by his peers, John Guillermin: The Man, The Myth, The Movies
offers film studies
audiences and biography readers a powerful synthesis of the filmmaker's
approaches and his times.
blend film reviews with inspections of critical commentary on their
in Melanie Williams's in-depth survey of one of Guillermin's most
works, Rapture: "Möller
doesn’t mention Rapture
in his account of Guillermin’s work — a sign of the film’s
from view and lack of availability prior to its 2011 rediscovery and
(it was released in the UK in 2014) — and his emphasis is much more on
Guillermin’s male-centered war films and thrillers. But in many
respects Rapture perfectly
darkness, savagery and melancholia Möller identifies as the keynotes of
director’s work, albeit leavened by an empathy and hopefulness in its
of first love, coming of age, and sexual discovery."
expertise and a piece of the puzzle on Guillermin's works, psyche, and
acclaim. The result is a fine, scholarly, specific analysis that
a prior familiarity with Guillermin's films to prove enlightening and
Hopefully, John Guillermin: The Man, The Myth, The
Movies will prompt many a film student to review and reassess
the man and
his contributions, without which the film industry would not be what it
today. At the least, this volume fills a major gap in film history
and should be included in serious film biography or history holdings as
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The Part That Burns
"Expectations can be slippery." This quote from the opening segment of The Part That Burns: A Memoir in Fragments sets the stage for events that live up to its title as Jeannine Ouellette cultivates a memoir that moves from family adversity and growing up to bigger-picture lessons about life: "Mom taught us that when small things go missing—her favorite hairbrush with its yellowed bristles, her wide black comb, her silver sewing scissors—you look for those things until you find them. “Look harder,” she would say. “Use your goddamn eyes.” But when big things go missing—men, houses, dogs—you don’t ask questions. You don’t mention it again. You simply move on."
This story is replete with a sense of place. From detailed myths about whiskey-loving jackalopes to the tumbleweeds that emerge from a move to Casper, Wyoming, where "things just don't grow," the sense of place, people, and life-altering experiences—rich with lessons—runs strong in Ouellette's story. This gives readers a vivid blend of life inspection and philosophy and the views of a child growing up in a rough-and-tumble world of change, adversity, and dreams: "One day I find a hidden canyon full of wildflowers. This is the kind of place where I might find a doorway. Not my favorite kind of doorway, where two branches meet to form an arch that you can step through into another dimension. I won’t find that, because there are no trees in the canyon. But maybe I could find another kind of doorway, like a circle of wildflowers where the sun casts its rays at precisely the right slant to open the door to a new world. I make my way down to the bottom of the canyon and discover a trickle of water. All around me, the canyon walls are bursting with tiny blossoms and the sweet, oily scent of sage. But no doorway."
This environment you can see, feel, and
touch—along with a growing sense of purpose, exceptionally compelling
and their intersections—creates a story filled with a child's great
revelations, and family relationships. The result is both fun and food
Ideally, a memoir does more than review an author's life experience. The meat of the memoir format lies in the synthesis of these encounters with the greater life lessons which evolve from them. In The Part That Burns, a series of insights that change the narrator's outlook and trajectory create a superior read. As Ouellette's sense of self evolves, readers receive encouraging reflections relevant to their own life journeys and reconciliations of past influence and present-day persona: "My story is not my mama’s story. In psychology, the life story model says people in modern societies provide their lives with unity and purpose by constructing internal and evolving narratives of the self. This model explains that identity takes the form of a story, complete with settings, scene, character, plot, and theme. I remember Mama’s stories. And mine. I remember it all."
Readers who join Jeannine Ouellette on a journey inspecting a mother/daughter relationship will find The Part That Burns features fragments of memory that come together to form a unified approach to life. This eventually comes full circle to a point where the daughter is herself a mother, passing insights about the hardness and softness of the world to her newborn child.
Burns is a lovely memoir
what it means to recall childhood's impressions, lasting lessons, and
impact, for better and for worse.
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Mobius Pathways Press
Still Moving is a memoir that chronicles
a powerful search for self
and spiritual identity. It takes place after Linda Durham closes the
gallery she ran for over thirty years, a venture that defined her and
step in the discovery
process is a world-hopping journey that brings Durham and the reader
with new cultures, from ceremonies by tribal women to an encounter with
Voodoo priest in a Haitian cemetery.
approach is to think outside the box of tradition. Durham more than
this as she moves far from comfort zones to delve into other cultures
the world in search of newfound wisdom and growth.
from similar-sounding accounts in that she documents not just
new people and places, but the writings and insights that affected and
her journey: "Sitting on a stone
bench in my neglected garden, meditating, I remembered a favorite
the I Ching. “Retreat
Furthers.” I repeated it over and over. “Retreat furthers…retreat
These two powerful words, with their seemingly contradictory messages,
awakened, and reunited me with an important misplaced mantra. A key. A
my search for a way through the rip currents and roadblocks of the past
the rigors and challenges of travel as well as social and spiritual
that stem from a combination of attitude changes and experiences: "The four young men and I stood in the
gloomy reception area of the gloomy hotel. In silent confusion, they
thoughtless, unattractive, food-deprived outbreak (breakdown?) in
falsely privileged English. I couldn’t speak fast enough or
or pissed off enough in French. Merde.
I knew I was expressing my frustration inappropriately,
yet, I had looked
forward to (and needed) a lovely dinner with a glass of good wine. Tant pis. It had been a long time
since such brattiness emerged from my better traveler’s nature. After a
huffy minutes, I returned to my more-reasonable self."
during the course of these escapes and encounters to explorations of
different processes involved in staying at home or venturing beyond the
zone, Durham captures a powerful contrast in revised approaches to
reconsidering her trajectory: "It’s
good to be gone—to be where no one can find me—where whatever is going
home is off my itinerary, off my plate, and out of my mind. If
amiss back in my everyday life—and it very well might be—it will have
itself, or solve itself, without me. Someone else will have to deal
Maybe it’s irresponsible to disappear like this. Maybe, but I reframe
absence from all home and work life as necessary to my personal
Essential. This is how I stay healthy and balanced. This is where I
things out. Here, in a private nowhere between two somewheres."
entries and letters to reviews of different lessons learned along the
discovery, Still Moving provides a
powerful story that holds many insights and lessons for others intent
following their own path towards self-enlightenment, whether it be at
on the road.
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She Writes Press
978-1-64742-022-2 $16.95 Paper/$8.99 Kindle
author Laila Tarraf has held leadership positions at the intersection
business and people—first at the internet division of Wal-Mart, then as
People Officer of Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and now as Chief People
Allbirds. She achieved success and won respect from her male peers
the strength of her ability to be tough, firm, and impassive — traits
exemplified by her hardline Lebanese immigrant father. But her prized
reputation came at a personal cost: routinely, and often
suppressing her natural feminine qualities. Like many high-achieving
struggled to balance courage and compassion, being respected and being
likeable. After suffering three devastating losses, she finally
buried emotions and gave herself permission to be vulnerable and
fully human as a leader and in all aspects of her life.
Water, Laila Tarraf writes with emotional
depth and honesty about
her painful journey of self-discovery and her profound transformation
leader, a mother, and a woman. A blend of memoir, psychological probe,
leadership guide, her book offers timely lessons for women—and for men
top as well—about the value of leading others with sensitivity to their
differences and challenges, a commitment to values beyond profit, and
“I have come to see that true power comes from connecting your head to
heart,” Tarraf states, and through her powerful and moving story,
come to see that too.
child of a
cold, hard father who could be cruel and violent and a needy, helpless
who often relied on her for solace, Laila learned at an early age the
importance of being responsible, keeping the peace, and never being
weak. Still, she believed her parents loved her and would come through
crisis—until her husband died from a drug overdose. While reeling from
and grief, Tarraf realized her parents were both incapable of giving
emotional support she desperately needed. With that awakening, the
to reassess what being strong truly means. With the help of a therapist
mentors, she came to recognize how her determination to stick with her
decisions and never show her feelings had hurt her colleagues and
her past relationships, and herself.
focus on developing flexibility incorporates all kinds of influences on
author’s learning and growth processes—some from unexpected places and
including her young daughter. “My little girl had become the catalyst
for me to
reconnect with my heart, and in this way, she was my teacher,” Tarraf
Yet, she also emphasizes the danger of letting a child step into a
role, and her commitment to not repeating the pattern of damage. She
about how she became a better delegator and collaborator when she let
go of her
“hero persona,” and why she now takes great pride in being known as a
who is able to combine strength with love.
Like Water, business readers who look for such connections
will find plenty
of inspirational moments, as well as practical guidance on how to be an
effective leader who builds trust and empowers others. Written with
candor and, yes, heart, Laila Tarraf’s story also speaks to those
with loss and those searching for more meaning in work and a more
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Geoffrey M. Cooper
Maine Authors Publishing
adds another new medical thriller to Geoffrey M. Cooper's arsenal of
hard-hitting novels in a new adventure that takes Brad Parker and Karen
Richmond to the brink of disaster.
new job as interim director of the
Translational Research Institute introduces
him and FBI agent Karen Richmond to a
dangerous world when he begins to realize that this temporary position
current of danger that places them both in the crosshairs of an
chapter details an operation by a killer who is not only adept at his
purposeful in his intention to destroy an experimental cancer.
Gellman has established herself as tops in the field, but undercurrents
angst and danger affect her abilities and position. When disaster
toxic death at the research institute immerses Brad Parker in a
situation he feels ill equipped to address; especially since the
Cooper creates a compelling story that swirls around a research
special interests, a criminal force bent on stopping it, and the
efforts of two
savvy, experienced leaders and investigators to both keep the project
and identify who is trying to thwart it.
evolves, a murderous conspiracy is uncovered that has manipulated
fostered negligent acts, and challenges Brad to compare patient trial
in an effort to find out what is going on. His cross-comparison of the
seems to check out, but his senses tell him something is still wrong.
a cat-and-mouse game that places his medical thriller on par with those
Robin Cook and other genre standouts.
medical thrillers who look for well-drawn characters, mercurial
perps, and settings designed to challenge reader and characters alike
Bad Medicine a compelling read, worthy of acclaim
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Catch a Falling Knife
Knife presents a thriller that
opens with the killing of cabbies in New York, but then fast forwards
future in which Valentina Vittorio, a Wall Street career
saleswoman who runs in dangerous circles of the beautiful and the rich
top echelons of the finance world, has been summoned to Hong Kong to
work on a
brand-new initiative headed by Mr. Jimmy Wen.
She's worked her way to the top
quickly in only two years, but her greatest challenges lie ahead. V.J.
captures the nuances of this world and her place in it from the start,
exploring the ethical blur between boundaries that require that any
tempered by savvy acknowledgement of the consequences of financial and
decisions: "Initially, in
Valentina’s mind there were two kinds of people in the financial realm:
players who were above reproach and responsible, and bad actors who
connived and ruined people’s lives. It hadn’t taken her long to realize
naive that was and that there were no ones and zeroes, only fractions
honesty or dishonesty. No black or white, only varying shades of gray.
problem. She could work with that, and she had."
When she is paired with Lucas
Vaughn, a Chinese Australian businessman, she finds herself involved
gritty and savvy individual who defies many of the conventions she's
to get to the top: “Mr. Wen was most
impressed with how you handled the Kalso-Moore deal,” Vaughn said as
the hubbub of the trading floor well behind them. “Very few could have
that whole cluster-fuck together as well as you did.”
Hong Kong is a world in which
the real money is made not on the stock trading floors she's used to,
very different conditions. Lucas has known and worked with Jimmy Wen
His relationship and his position are about to be challenged.
As money laundering, big-stakes
deals, and global marketplace shares come into play, Valentina finds
everything she thought she knew about Hong Kong's financial and
circles is being challenged in a dangerous game in which she is at a
Jimmy Wen's Ponzi scheme
envelopes her relationships and threatens her professional
like so many others, she finds herself drawn into the black hole of his
He's always a step ahead of her. Or, is he?
From dirty banks and her personal
motive for bringing down Wen's empire to her concern for the small
who likely will also fall, due to her actions and choices, Catch
Falling Knife traverses layers
layers of social and financial intrigue. The capable, purposeful
finds herself drawn further and further into a trap she had a hand in
but can't extract herself from.
Between strategic thinkers,
CEOs, and high-level negotiation strategies to the evolution of
deadly game and the secret about her past, readers are lead on a
journey by a woman who is a savvy and purposeful protagonist on a
Readers of thrillers, corporate
finance stories, intrigue, and global money matters will find Catch
Falling Knife replete
with action, cat-and-mouse games between equally powerful players, and
which emerge only at the end.
Knife is a compelling saga that
will keep readers engaged in a high-stakes world that holds many twists
turns of purpose and plot up to its satisfyingly unpredictable
Return to Index
Dare to Survive
Carolyn V. Hamilton
Swift House Press
978-0990966494 $17.95 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Like many, businesswoman Cathryn Prentis
dreamed of visiting Machu Picchu in Peru, and made the journey. Unlike
she is arrested at the airport, charged with drug trafficking, and must
confront authorities both inside and outside of Peru to escape in Dare
Survive, a legal thriller charting the course of her
Carolyn V. Hamilton excels in fast-paced
plots and compelling scenarios strong in unexpected twists and turns,
from the first sentence introducing the experience: "Lima’s
security check-point my life changed forever."
She also injects powerful atmosphere into the story from the start, which will be more than familiar to anyone who has entered a country where English is not the primary language: "A new group of airport personnel arrived to look at the scuba tank and babble in Spanish and stare at the gringa on the floor. The airport spun in a haze of other-world activity. I was the only person in the whole galaxy who spoke English."
are careful to point out moments that stem not just from cultural
but outright prejudice: "The
Peruvians were staring at me, and I knew the girl Esther had given the
would in turn hand it to another Peruvian. I felt like a fool standing
phone line, waiting for nothing. I walked away, feeling the pressure of
headache gathering between my temples. Assholism has no ethnic
thought. I wished my alter ego was Mike Tyson."
Cathryn's vivid impressions of conditions in
prison, her precarious position, and the few options that lead to
presented in a compelling manner that reviews her choices and their
consequences: "I considered running. If I ran, I would be
the rest of my life, always looking over my shoulder. If I ran, I’d
career and credibility because she had put up a personal guarantee for
decided running wasn’t an option. If the prosecutor had his way, I
back to prison to die."
mess and the need to learn Spanish to help her bid for freedom,
Cathryn faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles and daunting
cultural precedents on foreign soil.
Part of why
story is so compelling might be because it's based on a true story.
review of all the facets that lead Cathryn to struggle for not just her
but her life in a foreign country makes for a gripping story
first-person observations and Cathryn's powerful, defiant voice.
achieved in making her case under impossible conditions create in a
tale that is hard to put down and unpredictably satisfying. Mystery and
thriller components blend with true crime and a fictional overlay that
Cathryn's experiences to life with its immediacy. The involving
insights into the
legal process overseas and one American caught in a dangerous set of
circumstances that will change her life no matter what the outcome of
case are hard to put down.
to Survive is simply riveting
reading from start to
Return to Index
Dungeness and Dragons: A Driftwood Mystery
William J. Cook
Kindle: B085HDKP5H $3.49
Paperback 979-8621829469 $15.99
The fourth book in the Driftwood Mystery
series, Dungeness and Dragons, combines the thrill
of crabbing season
with a murder probe that begins when the crabbing boat Johnny B. Goode
goes down in a storm. Circumstances lead Officer Charley Whitehorse to
it's not an accident, but murder. However, he already has his hands
the ongoing disappearance of young women up and down the Oregon coast.
he tackle two major problems simultaneously?
possibility that these events are interconnected emerges slowly as
and partner Tony Esperanza find themselves immersed in a thickening
draws local figures, international cartels, human trafficking, and drug
operations into one big problem.
descriptions of crab fishing operations are detailed and exact. This
Oregon atmosphere lend authenticity to the story, driving both the
crimes and depictions of the region's culture.
Cook also devotes time to exploring police procedurals and investigative processes, which further imparts a sense of real tension and methodology into the story: "He used his phone to take a picture of the tag before he touched it. Then he cut the tag from the buoy and put it into a plastic evidence bag. Another Kudu moment, he thought with a grin. He called his partner. “Got it, Tony. Just like you said. A buoy tag. Smaug is the name of the boat.” “Hot damn!” was the response. “You heading back?” “No. I’m gonna look around some more, then head down to Newport with the evidence I picked up yesterday and today. I’ll drop them off at Forensics."
looking for nonstop action might chafe just a bit at the step-by-step
descriptions of both processes, these enhance the story line by adding
that later will circle back to prove pertinent to the evolving mystery.
President of the United States have to do with this evolving scenario?
and policies, whether that of Dragon Brothers Fisheries or higher
come into play as Whitehorse and Esperanza broaden their investigation,
uncovering more and more elements of intrigue and danger in the process.
actions of Vasily Volkov, the head of the biggest crime syndicate in
Pacific Northwest, come into play and a missing daughter (21-year-old
is located, but faces entering a witness protection program to keep her
Thus, a powerful Russian plan emerges that only holds a faint hope of
one simple policeman, Whitehorse, can uncover the truth in time to
that goes beyond a simple whodunit to delve into a wide range of social
and local politics, Dungeness and Dragons cultivates a sensational atmosphere that will
attract not only mystery
enthusiasts, but readers of thrillers—especially those with a
interest in an Oregon backdrop and a story of justice.
Return to Index
9781649219046 $17.99 Print/$7.99 eBook
and software engineer Ellen Matthews has
uncovered evidence of election tampering in Hobson's
Mischief. Her first-person story opens with a
of the mindful behavior she has always practiced and believed in, and
consequences and impact presented by those who hold different attitudes.
faith in the system and her ability to navigate it, but soon finds that
nefarious players have evolved a deadly game. This discovery places her
her life, Ellen and her boyfriend Zack embark on a journey that pits
cyber skills and friends against a force that turns out to be greater
they'd anticipated. The story that evolves may sound like a thriller,
literary satire and action wound into a tale that offers much
ethical food for thought, and should reach an audience interested in
mystery and intrigue alone.
especially powerful in presenting this promise: "I
like to think my choices are my own and, since I
make mindful choices, the
consequences that follow are expected, but, actually, a lot that
happens in our
lives is brought about by the enigmatic choices of others followed by
circumstances the consequences of which we cannot fathom. At any
moment, we may
not grasp what just happened, let alone perceive what’s going to
Sometimes, we’re unmindful, even when patiently told time and time
planned misfortunes and rampant corruption— past, present, and looming—
because, well, it’s inconvenient to be mindful."
whether a single rich man intent on expanding his wealth and influence
change the outcome of an election by influencing state and national
to evading the powerful forces who would silence her and keep this
from becoming public, Hobson's Mischief
provides a fine story that keeps readers wondering about its outcome
Ellen's ability to do the right thing and survive at the same time.
more powerful for its roots in reality and a specific report that
Decatur references online, so that readers can absorb the real-world
foundations of the story and its frightening origins.
Hobson's Mischief will reach fans of
intrigue and thriller stories,
but ideally will move beyond this genre audience to attract those who
savvy, powerful female protagonists and close inspections of truth,
power, and special interests that venture into moral, ethical, and
looking for these added touches of social inspection will relish Hobson's Mischief's ability to build on
the thriller/mystery format to create something satisfyingly different
Return to Index
The Third Side of Murder
Third Side of
Murder presents the third Tony
Harrington novel and opens with an Iowa newspaper reporter and his
journey to Italy to attend the funeral of a beloved cousin. Readers who
stories of organized crime and mob interactions are in for a treat,
tale takes off from there as Tony finds himself drawn to investigate
cousin's death and becomes involved in not only a murder investigation,
Joseph LeValley excels in capturing the
nuances of Italian culture on both sides of the pond, slowly building
with a series of introductory events that at first seem unrelated, from
Harrington's martial arts class to the beautiful Noemi's seeming
with her life and choices just before she dies.
As Tony becomes move involved in Noemi's
life and the events that led to her demise, he moves from Italy to New
back again in a complex pursuit of her killer that places him in
moves cause even his best friend Doug Tenney to become more and more
his choices: “As we drove back here, the whole way I’m
thinking what an
idiot you are. You stirred the hornet’s nest with no plan, no thought
consequences, no damn clue about anything.” “I…” “Don’t make me say it
Doug stared at him. “Just listen. My second thought was no, he’s not
He has a plan. I thought you’d decided to kill him. I feared you’d made
mind to take this situation into your own hands and end it with a
Costello’s head.” Doug paused to take a breath. His eyes were stony and
“But I’ve realized I was wrong about that too. I’ve realized you don’t
kill anyone. I’m not sure you could kill anyone, regardless of what
done. A few minutes ago, it dawned on me. Your plan is worse. You want
asshole to come after you.”
More than just a murder mystery, this
thriller is about taking risks, making choices that hold dangerous
consequences, and moving beyond the role of being a small-time reporter
Orney Town Crier. Tony embraces a bigger picture
outside of Iowa's
small-town world, from crime syndicates and mob bosses to confronting
mother's desire that he find a "nice Italian girl" and settle down.
Readers who enjoy multifaceted stories of
small town reporters and big city problems will find The
Third Side of
Murder especially strong in its cross-cultural, social, and
revelations. These elements go beyond a whodunit to probe Italian
crime connections alike. The story's fast pace and personal connections
keep readers involved to the end.
Return to Index
David Myles Robinson
Terra Nova Books
978-1-948749-67-1 $19.95 Paper/$9.49 Kindle
readers who choose Tropical Deception
for its promise of a backdrop of paradise will not be disappointed in
setting nor its protagonist, Honolulu criminal defense attorney Pancho
McMartin, who sees something sinister in the seemingly cut-and-dried
the death of Peter Roosevelt, who was trying to stop a development
Peter's neighbor, Wayson Takei. It all seems so obvious. His gun was
weapon, Takei had motive and plenty of opportunity, he has no alibi,
everyone else that could be fingered is more than covered. Or, are they?
to take the easy road in his investigations, and so he delves deeper to
a host of possibilities that all seem well explicable, but somehow
is that Peter was involved with Takai's estranged wife Lei. This added
the fire with the possibility of a confrontation uninfluenced by the
special interests involved in seeing that the project evolved.
justice unfolds, Pancho finds that those around him are threatened, as
when fellow investigators (his best friend, PI Drew Tulafono, and
Armstrong) get in an accident deliberately intended to maim or kill
game unfolds between Vegas mafia crime boss Freddy Costanzo's people,
Malen, and other forces outside Hawaii, readers receive a dual
legal process and criminal investigation. The story deftly captures
courtroom proceedings and the process of not taking evidence at face
the Hawaii and Vegas milieus and the forces that connect them in the
are nicely played out as Pancho and his readers move ever closer to a
truth that offers more than a few surprises.
unexpected revelations at the story's end may surprise those who
something different to evolve, but that's one of the hallmarks of a
thriller—the ability to surprise even the seasoned genre reader with a
they didn't see coming.
Tropical Deception's mercurial tale of
subterfuge and justice will delight
prior Pancho fans (who will relish this fourth book in the series) and
newcomers, who need have no prior familiarity with Pancho's approaches
work to enjoy this latest thriller.
Return to Index
Samuel J. Spitalli
Real Stories Press
978-7-732-95652-0 $19.99 Paperback/$7.99 Kindle
Twist of Fate's
crime story is centered on the
actions of Joel Scranton, a car dealership owner who is also a con man
with his life and choices—including his marriage to a too-savvy
There seems to be only one
way out: start his life anew.
Faking his death, Joel at first seems successful in his endeavor to
build a new
personality and life. Unfortunately, deceit and danger follows as he
himself struggling not only to maintain his revised identity and life,
faces the impact of a look-alike who is a murderer.
Ironically, proving his
innocence might involve a return
to his former life in a way that requires the help of one he'd left for
when he fled that life.
Spitalli excels in creating a
story filled with tension and twists of not just fate, but plot. The
unrelenting changes and challenges Joel faces and the revised actions
he must employ
to stay ahead of the game on many levels is narrated in an intriguing
encounters that keeps both Joel and readers on their toes: "How would Ted know that Jordin was a blond unless
he was watching
their every move? Ted
must also know
Joel’s background in the car business and the reason he wanted Clayton
quickly acquiesced. “Okay,
man, don’t worry about it. You’ll
your money. What do
you want me to do?”
Even more engrossing are the
ironic events that keep Joel from not only realizing his dreams, but
his choices and actions and their unexpected impacts.
As other perps elude the police
and leave Joel holding the bag for crimes he (for once) did not commit,
receive a lively journey through Joel's world and its unexpected (and
Many moral and ethical
revelations emerge against the backdrop of crime and deceit. These add
philosophical and social approach to Joel's escapades and encounters: "To be honest,” St. Peter said, “I
really don’t care about your good intentions.
People are defined by what they do, not by what they
intend. And we all
know what you did. You
made your life what it was. You
created it all by yourself and got no
help from anyone. Everything
did, you chose to do it. So,
it! You had
infinite opportunities to
make your life anything you wanted it to be—and you chose this one."
The result will satisfy crime
story readers on two levels, pairing a rollicking good story of flight,
deception, and revised purposes with an ironic, humorous sense of moral
ethical payback. Whether its sexual harassment or murder, events keep
achieving his goals and readers from anticipating a set trajectory as
life becomes convoluted and challenging on many levels.
of Fate is
reading for those who like their crime stories unpredictable and as
with discovery and interpersonal revelations as the crimes themselves.
Return to Index
Auto Bio Nobody, Part 1
Rasheed Soofi, MD
978-1-6641-2844-6 $42.00 Hardcover
Part 1 blends the fictional format of a novel with the scope
of autobiography as it provides the first-person story of the
journey from Chicago to California on a trip that will change
Reflections move from a
childhood in which the
first-person narrator acknowledges "...that
I was a member of a family in disarray, which would later be a
dysfunctional family" to experiences in Iran and the social
political dictates and mandates of Tehran.
As the narrator moves to New
York and begins to absorb
American culture, readers who have learned much about the Middle East
and social structure receive lessons in not just immigrant ambition and
opportunities, but how interactions and experiences continue to be
in a new country, based on the roots of the old.
Rasheed Soofi does an
outstanding job of incorporating world
journeys into experiences and interactions with other cultures. From
evolution of professional and social life from these roots to
America and other countries, readers receive a close inspection of
encounters and life-changing experiences that charts both physical and
roadblocks in life and the process of overcoming them.
Part 1 crafts the first segment of a life that moves from
family and love
entanglements to newfound purpose and revised perspectives. The
of personal childhood interests and adult worlds is very nicely
explored: "In the winter of 1973, the
on armed opposition groups, mostly Marxist and communist groups, around
country, had peaked, it was parallel to the surge in assassinations of
high-ranking elements of the Monarch government. In the province of
could not find one adult not knowing the name of someone that was
tortured or executed in the dreadful political prison of Evin in
The result is a story which,
though fictionalized, will
especially interest readers of immigrant autobiography and experience,
providing a solid introduction to coming of age in a changing world and
love, professional, and life experiences which change family
narrative that successfully melds social and
political change with a revised vision of personal goals influenced by
tides of oppression and opportunity, and is recommended reading for
enjoys memoirs and autobiographical writings.
Return to Index
Lost River Books
$15.95 Paper; $22.95 Hardcover; $7.95 Kindle
historical fiction well know that many novels have already been written
events surrounding the Oregon Trail. However, Days
of Hope, Miles of Misery - Love and Loss on the Oregon Trail
take a different approach than most, depicting the strife caused by a
band of wagon train travelers who face life-threatening adversity with
different approaches to living, loving, and problem-solving.
accounts focus on a single family facing pioneer challenges. This story
the group as a whole, from Hannah Blanc, a physician mourning the loss
husband by suicide and a terrible new marriage to a cruel man; group
Nimrod Lee, who harbors a secret mission beyond guiding the wagon
through the wilderness; and others who face disease, dissent, Indians,
physical and mental challenges to survival.
descriptive language that captures the experience of being a pioneer on
Oregon Trail, not only presenting the physical challenges, but the
trials of the wagon train group: "The
other pioneers hugged each other for warmth. They shivered in ragged,
clothes, and endured the wind as it moaned through fir branches and
to the cold. Hannah hoped that when dawn came, and it was time to rise,
one of them would. For those companions, it was a night of misery of a
kind. There was no defense and no escape. Stupor was their refuge. The
intent was to break their spirits so they would quit the survival
slide into death."
excels in the
dialogues and interactions he creates between all involved in the
experience [This about Nimrod letting a
snake live.]: “Indians say you
rile up a bad spirit if you kill just to be killing. It stayed coiled
that’s how they protect theyselves. If it stretches out to crawl, it’s
defense. When he crawled away, he was leaving peaceful. Anyway,
got to respect a rattlesnake’s honesty. He is who he is, and he don’t
it. He don’t want trouble, but if called on, he’s sure to give it. If
him nervous, he’ll make you sorry.” A man asked, “Surely you don’t
bad spirit business?” Nimrod tipped his head in thought. “Until I see
wrong, I’m going to walk soft around it.”
must learn the difference between mercy and cruelty to how the
civilization and civilized behavior standards are negated in the
experience, Days of Hope, Miles of Misery
is a compelling story that is especially strong in probing
how one woman
reassesses abuse, tenderness, and weakness in her life and choices.
Oregon Trail history, Days of Hope, Miles
of Misery is an outstanding survey of the pioneer spirit and
what it takes
to survive and make a new life replete with new values, discoveries,
backdrop of a life-threatening journey, it's a powerful saga that takes
wagon train trek and closely examines what it means to be a survivor.
fiction looking for superior stories will relish the spirit,
experiences in Days of Hope, Miles of
Misery, which is more than a cut above other Oregon Trail
Return to Index
978-1-952816-20-8 eBook: $4.99; Paperback: $15.99
Drama, soap opera star Calliope
Hart has become accustomed to
balancing a demanding day job with being a single mom—until the network
her show and she finds that the only job that remains is that of being
Callie has held this same
acting role for 25 years. It's
become not just part of her life and that of her pre-teen son, but her
identity. Newfound financial worries pair with a stormy relationship
ex and her son's budding determination to follow in her Hollywood
even though she strictly forbids it.
All these contribute to a
daytime drama that moves away
from the TV screen and into the living room and life of a woman called
reinvent not just her professional wsorld, but her personal life and
relationship to her family.
in crafting a story that follows this middle-aged woman's attempt to
fictional character from her life and replace both it and her
something positive and different. Even her lover Paul, the one good
her life, comes under scrutiny and is re-evaluating his role as being
place in her life: "We don’t have to
get married. Let’s just move in together. We could stay in your house,
doesn’t have to switch schools. It might be a bit crowded, but we can
out before maybe we look to buy something together.” The words spilled
him. Dread filled her chest like smoke. Callie held up her hand to make
words stop. “Paul, I can’t have this conversation right now. We’re
lose our show. I have to concentrate on keeping it all together for my
More change is not going to make things easier on him. You have to
that.” “No, I
don’t.” Paul gestured
toward Callie. “I get it. You have a kid. Your kid comes first. But I
everything around her that she built or took for granted as long-term
propositions is changing. She's charged with considering where she
wants to go,
how she can handle the financial obligations of paying off a
who sees her as a meal ticket, and how she can redirect her
son's future away from the mistakes and choices she made in her life.
a sense of realistic, engrossing action to the thought-provoking story
Callie juggles an underage son determined to follow in her footsteps as
performer and a series of challenges to everything she'd once valued.
perceptions of her son's evolving goals and abilities are particularly
astute: "Questioning her middle schooler’s
artistic talents felt wrong. Forbidden. Parents were supposed to be
and encouraging, even when their broods’ efforts were far from viable
fickle marketplace. But most parents didn’t have a son who at twelve
go up against the big boys onstage in Hollywood comedy clubs with
written himself. Callie realized with a combination of both dread and
that she knew next to nothing about his stand-up act."
how women reinvent their lives will find Callie's story compelling
highly recommended for women seeking stories of single mothers who
their growth process beyond and after success and during child-rearing.
Return to Index
Andrew Scott Bassett
Ebook-$4.99; Paperback-$15.95; Hardcover-$28.95
dies, estranged brothers John and Audie Barrett find
themselves on an
unusual cross-country journey that reveals secrets about the family and
other in Fishing for Something.
a death that not only highlights their alienation from their father and
other, but introduces many surprises—such as the fact of their father's
which they won't inherit unless they follow his last wishes about
a trip together.
mission of contacting and visiting their father's old friends, the
find that each person contributes a different piece to the puzzle of
father's life and decisions, as well as their own psyches.
Fishing for Something takes the road
trip concept to another level
as it throws together two disparate lives and a shared background that
weakened family bonds over the years.
It should be
cautioned that readers who anticipate a large number of fishing
a philosophical worldview such as that presented in the classic A River Runs Through It receive much
more than a fishing journey alone, here.
Bassett's story embraces all kinds of colorful characters who each
different view of not just their relationship with the boys' father,
lives and perspectives on it. This expands the scope of the story,
just the sons' revelations, but the father's world.
It should be
that Fishing for Something is
presented from the third person point of view of an outsider looking
provides a sage look at all the characters as the father's life is
through reflections and recollections of escapades and events that
lasting friendships: "John then
interrupts again. He’s still wondering how they became friends..."He
the worst hangover the next day on the boat. I spent that second day
next to him, talking with him, getting to know him and his past. He let
his ego then and we talked all that day. Beneath all the bravado, he
was a good
guy and we became fast friends from that day forward.”
compendium of staid, back porch revelations. The boys encounter a
characters and also some threats, including an unexpected rescue from a
situation by Sonny Ricci, a mobster who controls most of the southeast
is a road
trip of family and self discovery that captures ironies, changing
relationships, good and bad characters, and the true impact of a
legacy on sons who are just getting to know him and each other after
“You cast your line out into the great
unknown, like you do yourself. You patiently wait to see what happens,
hope it’s something good.” “You hope for what exactly?” John’s curious.
hope you catch something really big,” Audie says...
literary stories of family entanglements and developments will find
Return to Index
978-1735604909 $17.95 Paper/.99 Kindle
Baker struggles with the death of his son in World War II, the
that is leading him into alcoholism, and a downhill slide that
marriage when a shocking murder jolts him from his grief and forces him
what he does best—investigate a crime.
the brutal execution of someone close to him, which personalizes
leads him on a hunt that produces no evidence, no clues, and no
much like his grief over his missing son.
His hunt is
without its impact, however, and soon he finds himself in the
crosshairs of a
killer who seems to have a powerful organization backing him. How can
a case with such a dominant and elusive entity at its heart—and how can
this case also heal wounds of the heart which remain raw and open?
more than craft a whodunit or a suspense story. He winds in facets of
recovery, strength, organized crime, and more as a quest for justice
something more personal.
undercurrent of wry humor to permeate some of the action, but its
lightens the mood and captures Sam Baker's gritty voice and
perspective: “Horace,” Sam said. “I’m going
to ask you a
question. If you lie to me I’m going to hog-tie you and throw you out
swamp for snake bait. You understand me?”
the dual dilemmas of his personal and professional lives and the
which evolve in each realm are also very nicely presented: "The places she had touched vibrated with something
that felt like
healing and desire. He couldn’t deny what he felt for her physically,
couldn’t help but be flattered by the attention from such a young,
woman. But right now he couldn’t give anything of himself. Every
action went into finding Wayne and Gus’ killer. That obsession wouldn’t
room for anything or anyone else."
detail and psychological insights lends Galveston
'44 more attraction than the usual thriller because it probes
motivations and influences in the course of doing his job and moving
his life. Readers become involved in Sam's evolutionary process on many
which creates a compelling and attractive read as he forges ahead into
is a novel
that blends a healthy dose of Texas culture and environment into a
incorporates history, social climate, racial concerns, and grief
the bigger pictures of crime and resolution. More than a thriller
alone, it's a
literary work that leaves its mark on readers who enjoy the realistic
of locale and history added to a crime story replete with psychological
Return to Index
Anna Gomez & Kristoffer Polaha
978-1645480457 $14.95 trade paperback/ebook $7.99
Moments Like This (From Kona With Love, Book 1) captures
repercussions of choices made by Andie Matthews when she opts
over marriage, only to see her career fall by the wayside.
pronounced her 'heartless' because of her one-track decisions in the
of business. It's time for Andie to reassess her psyche. And what
better way to
do that than to step out of her comfort zone and help run a friend's
shop in Hawaii?
don't immediately stem from this decision, however, as Andi finds old
and habits hard to break and becomes immersed in trying to save this
too. Her meeting with Warren Yates on Christmas Eve, however, offers
lifeline of opportunity to create something different...if she's strong
to take the offer.
Kristoffer Polaha craft a compelling, clean romance story that centers
on business ambitions, but the impact of deception, honesty, and change
Warren isn't all she thought leads to yet another challenge to a
life that was just beginning to come together, sending her on a journey
just through his life and Hawaii's culture, but her own singing heart
expands to embrace new worlds: "Yes, Warren, you did it. You
another moment that I will never forget. A story about surfing and a
shells, and a game of jinx over coconut-flavored ice with cream."
full flavor of a life ripe with change and replete with possibilities.
story about love, not giving up, trust, and reinventing one's life
readers with promise and hope for a different future.
Moments Like This is highly recommended
for clean romance readers
looking for an exploration of the fine line between a woman's strength
ability to accept the vulnerability and promise of love.
Return to Index
The Other Mrs. Samson
9798564829403 $15.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Readers of historical fiction and biography
will find The Other Mrs. Samson
an attraction both for its
background histories of a Jewish and a German woman and its intriguing
as these two disparate, strong individuals become participants in a
triangle over the same man, Dr. Josef Samson.
The story opens in 2020, where the
first-person narrator stumbles upon a secret while searching for
filters in the attic during the pandemic. A hidden compartment in a
drawers reveals a bundle of letters and a notebook that will shatter
narrator's perception of the past and reinvent family history in a
Thus begins a story that spans generations
and continents as two remarkable women with a shared husband find their
changed by war, travel, other cultures, and love.
As a nineteen-year-old narrator comes to
understand Mrs. Samson's life, the scenes move backwards and forwards
easily identified by chapter headings.
The opening salvo of the Great War and the
pulsing liveliness of Berlin before that moment are captured in
that admit that the underlying political moves of the times were not a
the narrator's perceptions: "In those early days, I was not
Germany’s ambitions. I did not know that the Fatherland was poised and
waiting for the opportune moment to strike and stake its claim to the
had no knowledge of Europe’s web of secret treaties and alliances that
soon foretell such a calamitous outcome. And I most certainly would
unable to predict that within a short time, Josef and I would join the
thousands milling in the streets and massed in front of the Berliner
the first of August when we anxiously awaited Germany’s response to the
Russia had given to Kaiser Wilhelm II’s ultimatum. That afternoon, at
o’clock, we listened soberly and in hushed silence to the official
that war was about to begin, and we recognized that our lives were
about to be
turned upside down."
This juxtaposition of daily life,
interpersonal relationships and connections, and the tides of social
political change that change everything is an exceptional strength in a
that keeps interest grounded by both personal and political affairs.
Another plus is the time Ralph Webster takes
to thoroughly explore these events and the broader public perceptions
times: "France’s leaders were tired, politically divided, and
haunted by the memories of the Great War, when a generation of young
been lost and more than four percent of France’s population killed. The
public was not in a rush to get into another war with Germany,
that would be fought again on French soil. The French weren’t
they were wary and cautious. If machine guns, artillery, and barbed
soaked their land with the blood of millions during the Great War,
another war with more advanced technology and air power would be far
destructive. This time the government vowed to be prepared, but their
plan would be passive. They would be patient and wait."
The injection of a mystery, complex
relationships buffeted by the winds of war and change, and a series of
that cement the worlds of future generations are all wonderfully
in a manner that will attract both historical fiction and
The Other Mrs. Samson offers a
surprises, secrets, and political and social change that are often
modern times. From Katie and Joseph's unusual love to early 1900s
experiences in America, this sweeping epic will find a place among
who like their characters richly three-dimensional, powering a saga
in connecting different generations to a radically changing world.
Return to Index
Paris in Ruins
EBook ISBN 978-0-9919670-5-6, $4.99
Paperback ISBN 978-0-9919670-4-9, $14.99
Author website: https://awriterofhistory.com/
Historical fiction readers who look for
stories set in the 1870s during the Franco-Prussian War will
focus on Paris and its siege comes to life in Paris
in Ruins. The
story is a compelling saga that captures the coming Prussian army, the
of a siege that could last for months, and the lives and sentiments of
Parisians who lived through it.
One of these people is twenty-two-year-old
Camille Noisette, a young woman who does not aspire to a good marriage,
most, but handles the grief of a sister's loss by keeping men at an
emotional distance. She's fine with flirting with them, but wants
as she still mourns Juliette's loss.
As friends Mariele de Crécy, Bertrand, and
others join her family and each survive the chaos and battles that
their beloved city, readers gain a powerful vision of not just the
its aftermath, and the changed social norms that emerged from Paris's
Descriptions of the emotions experienced by
each as the siege introduces not just newfound powers but the
anarchy make for a lively, revealing piece: "When will this
Camille was keenly aware that if the siege didn’t end soon, it would be
compounded by an uprising pitting citizen against citizen within the
Paris. An uprising that could lead to anarchy and another bloody
The women move into different, more powerful
roles and consider their changed positions and goals in both family and
society. This is one of the many side effects of the siege of Paris,
readers receive an astute examination of these forces and their
each woman's life.
While the tests of friendship under duress
come alive in this story, as well as changing social and political
so does an emphasis on how individual choice and perception changes the
of the tumultuous Paris experience both from the outside and from
its own peoples.
The conversations between this group and
their acknowledgement of different social conditions and requirements
well done and compellingly presented as the friends interact and
their ties: "...make sure you know about the business,
Mariele. A wife
shouldn’t concern herself only with household matters. My mother made
mistake, and I imagine yours has too. Although very different
they’re both too confined by social convention.”
The result is a historical work based on
real events, which blends in solid descriptions of the forces that
changed a nation.
Readers with a special interest in the
Prussian War or Paris history will find Paris in Ruins personalizes
experience of living during tumultuous times and the lasting changes
evolved from these encounters. It's highly recommended reading for its
on these psychological and social forces.
Return to Index
Steven C. Day
979-8676198220 $13.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Carlton never imagined he would one day lead a national
would challenge democracy and change the face of America. He's just one
interested in atoning for his betrayal—an individual who finds himself
inadvertently caught up in a wave of rebellion that sweeps him into a
different America than he'd once believed in.
The Patriot's Grill opens with the stark
and unlikely portrait of
the President of the United States walking a dirt road alone in the
in rural Montana in 2106 before the story turns back seven years
2099 at the Patriot's Grill, where bartender Joe hates his job.
moving to California and becoming an actor. But these feel far from the
of his Patriot's Grill dive bar job, where his cantankerous attitude
him many tips.
Joe falls into a stranger's vision of a free country and inadvertently
himself representing the face of a rebellion he didn't start. Growing
up in the
toxic industrial town of Loyalty in the 2000s, Joe has become used to
conditions without questioning how the world has changed.
As he learns
democracy was stolen by the rich, he becomes embroiled in changing this
dangerous world, resulting in violent ramifications for all involved.
One of the
why The Patriot's Grill is so
compelling is that it holds its roots in events of modern times. The
takeovers, subterfuge, and struggles between rich and poor, politicians
individual interests, and those with vision who fall into the wrong
seem especially familiar and involving, given the events of recent
works grounded in issues and possibilities they are already newly
will find part of the lure of The
Patriot's Grill lies in this social and political milieu,
while part lies
in the struggles of the 'everyman' protagonist who never envisioned
part of a political struggle, but becomes caught up in it despite his
failings and angst when his relationship with an ex-con reveals new
for his future.
democracy and how it's killed to Joe's recognition that he could
things better...or worse...Steven C. Day does an outstanding job of
a realistic character with an equally vivid dilemma he faces when his
objectives and influences clash with political purpose.
The blend of
personal dilemmas and the changing winds of society keep The
Patriot's Grill's portrait of a much-changed America
and intriguing, cementing its action both in personal choice and
and political fallout.
cautionary story about endings and beginnings. It's neither a history
lesson, but one vision of what America's future can bring, and will
readers open to understanding this as one possible route, and how
choice can affect outcomes and possibly the destiny and definition of
Return to Index
A Place to Hide
Apprentice House Press/Loyola University Press
4501 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21210
When fugitive Bill Waite moved to New York
City in 1923 and begins working on building the Holland Tunnel, he was
seeking work and a refuge. He didn't intend on befriending anyone, much
the only Jewish man he's ever encountered. However, this experience
opens up a
new world as he is educated about Jewish trials in the slums of the
Side in A Place to Hide.
David Salner explores not just Jewish
culture and society in the 1920s, but the life of a blue collar worker
on the lam from Montana authorities, who finds his life equally changed
work and friendship.
The first strength to note about this story
is that Salner takes the time to explore the psychology behind
actions, and the logical progression of work and leisure relationships
This is evident in passages which reveal power plays and assessments
about the new people in his life, from bosses to friends: "I’m
hard man to please,” Arnoldson had told him. “And if I approve of you,
privileges apply.” Arnoldson had approved of his work, and this gave
thought that he was changing Bill “for the better.” But that was the
could never accept. There is no such thing as honest work under the
someone who wants to change you. Wants to erase what you consider you:
sensed that, to Arnoldson, any spark of anger would constitute the
provocation. Jacob Arnoldson surveyed all of creation and noted that it
pliable and could be made obedient to his will. Obedient, or else."
Bill's evolving skills and relationships
don't just lie in the adult arena, either. He becomes familiar with
group he has never encountered much before: children. Again, his
learning is nicely described and helps cement not only the events at
his overall approach to life: "The cake made them relax. They
interested in what it was like to work under a river and chattered away
him, until one by one their eyes grew heavy and they nodded off. Was
really such a frightening business, making small talk with children? He
off a little, also. Several times they woke up, and he had them sing
at two he started to wonder what he would do with them when he had to
preparations for his shift."
Another powerful facet to this story is its
emphasis on blue collar work and the methods by which one man decides
himself against all odds: "He didn’t want to spend the rest
of his life
doing unskilled work. Now was the time to get a skill besides mining
mucking. The world was changing, and those two trades, if you want to
trades, were no longer in great demand. Bill suspected that the world
always have some need of miners and muckers, but let someone else try
hand. He didn’t want to wait until he was too broken down to learn a
He’d seen fit men wear down and fall by the wayside. No one knows how
like that. The scrap heap isn’t well-publicized."
Place to Hide begins with a
search for refuge, but it
evolves into a powerful examination of cultural encounters, evolving
friendships, and newfound perceptions of work and purpose. All this is
against the backdrop of the Holland Tunnel's construction, one of the
ambitious engineering feats of its times.
Add mystery, intrigue, and enemies into the
mix for a powerful story filled with compelling action, psychological
and tension that pushes Bill to change his life on more than one level.
Historical fiction readers, as well as those
who appreciate solid psychological depth, will find A Place
to Hide a
compelling narrative, indeed.
Return to Index
Road to the
CPB Publishing, LLC
Paperback: 978-1-7331079-3-8 $16.99
Ebook: 978-1-7331079-4-5 $ 2.99
1860, war is
challenging everything across America, including the life of war hero
Nathaniel Chambers, a Texas outpost commander who receives the news
father has died in Virginia. His family calls for his return home to
the family plantation not just to assume his father's role, but to save
from a dangerous, scheming neighbor. Never mind the fact that Nathan
plans for his life.
Road to the Breaking tests these plans
and more as it provides the
first book in a series about the Civil War's lasting impact on
destinies, and even a war hero's future.
More so than
Civil War novels, it focuses on the choices presented and possible
conflict that has deeply divided the nation. Battles are fought on many
and Nathan's military background has, ironically, prepared him for all
conflict...including those of schemers who would become rich from
the time to examine the atmosphere and actions of Nathan, Megs, and a
other characters, providing intricate details of everything from a
attempt and a slave's implication in it to the changing nature of a
"The introduction of exponentially
more combinations of hands made it impossible to predict what your
might be holding. This led to a whole new type of betting, not based on
good your hand actually was, but rather on fooling your opponents into
your hand was better or worse than it was. In fact, this new form of
had so altered the psychology of the game that many people now simply
it as “Bluff.” The element of chance had, to some extent, been replaced
one’s ability to “read” other player’s reactions. How they behaved when
at their dealt hand, how many cards they exchanged in the draw, how
enthusiastically they bet, and so on, all had meaning. Men who became
reading these “tells” had a great advantage over those who simply knew
rules of the game."
these details might feel too verbose or intricate, they contribute to
overall approaches of characters charged with change and
outside the box, demonstrating the origins of their abilities to move
the familiar to resolve issues in strange territories.
challenges and the emotions that respond to changing circumstances and
dangers to diverse characters from different walks of life who interact
intersect on personal battlegrounds, Road
to the Breaking isn't just about one man's revelations and
choices, but the
various layers of interaction that change the face of a nation as it
prejudice and loyalty during and after battle are particularly well
conversations such as this one between Nathan and a hotel proprietor
Nathan's Indian employee: “Let me ask you
something, Mr. Wilburn. Have you ever served in the Army, or been a
done anything dangerous for the benefit of others? In fact, anything at
besides working in this grand, fancy hotel in the midst of this great,
sparkling city?” “Uh … no sir. I have never done any of those things.”
“Well then, let
me tell you something, sir! While
you’ve been here wiping up spilled whiskey, and cleaning out dirty
that … ‘Indian’ has been risking his life fighting for the United
in Texas. Fighting against the enemies of our civilization. Serving
country so people like you can live in a nice, comfortable, safe place
fear of ravaging Comanches, bandits, or foreign armies. And he has
for anything in return, not even a thank you. He is respectful,
polite, and clean—cleaner than most white men I’ve known, for that
is a vivid
study in not just American ideals, but early race relations that places
at a pivotal point in his personal history as well as the fate of the
Road to the Breaking's ability to provide
a lively discourse
between different segments of society on a collision course lends it a
realistic, compelling feel that will attract historical novel and Civil
readers. But it also will reach into general-interest audiences who
engrossing stories of romance, ethical and moral conundrums, and
predicaments that range from murder attempts to military confrontation.
Return to Index
Classic Day Publishing
978-1-59849-296-5 $18.95 Hardcover/$4.95 ebook
Rusty's trilogy, Rusty Kenneficke's Third
Quarter, explores his ongoing struggle to prove his innocence
hit-and-run murder of Boomer Laughlin (an event which concluded the
in this series). It evolves a dual suspense story and the trials of a
has finally found a woman to settle down with and a career to love,
find his life in upheaval.
Rusty points to the likelihood that he deliberately mowed down Boomer
altercation. It all seems irrefutable, as an eyewitness saw everything,
Rusty believes he's being set up for an unknown reason. As evidence
mounts, Rusty faces the prospect of prison and ruin.
good at reading people—but not in this situation. His ambitions and
headed for a big downturn if he can't up his game in not just reading
but solving the biggest mystery of his life.
become proactive about his defense, mounting his own investigation that
him far from the staid life he's built and into the underworld of
nefarious interests, and high stakes crime.
His gamble on the side of justice takes a dangerous turn
as he probes
these perps with innocence and naivety, only to uncover a world he is
ill-equipped to navigate.
happiness and a better life. All he seems to do is get deeper into
Rusty faces many changes in his life, his moral and ethical boundaries
challenged, as when he resigns his post at the Portland Chamber of
response to an ill-fated decision to unfairly appoint a new board
on political whim. His observations of his community and his changing
it on many levels are astute and involving, reflecting this moral
compass: "Four meetings into his three-year
term, he realized he had made a mistake. He was beginning to see this
a “good ol’ boys club” that was primarily interested in promoting their
positions within the community, not
particularly for the betterment of it."
decisions and present-day dilemma are explored more deeply, readers of
prior two Rusty books receive an even more astute picture of the roots
actions and the motivations behind his struggles.
get him deeper into trouble, or prove to be his redemption?
prepared to enjoy these forays into Rusty's psyche. If this were a
mystery alone, the depth likely wouldn't be nearly as satisfyingly
well-detailed. From Rusty's interactions with small-town folk and beau
Jan to a
series of 'ridiculous things' that keep thwarting his desire to work
within and outside the system, Keith Thye's final story about Rusty is
with many of the satisfying approaches of his previous books.
from these events not with the usual whodunit focus, but with a greater
of Rusty's evolving place in his community, and his vision for a
future. These elements drive a tale that is unusual and compelling for
focus on elements beyond an event that threatens everything Rusty aims
Rusty Kenneficke's Third Quarter is
recommended for suspense and
novel readers who want more than a formula approach, but a walk through
fine building of a life with all its influences, including the intrigue
nuances that threaten to change the nature of Rusty's choices.
Rusty Kenneficke's Third Quarter
Return to Index
What do you
your husband leaves you to join a cult? Melody Hollenback faces this
and her husband's evolving mental illness in Somebody's
Watching You. This is a powerful saga of an entrapment
which strengthens its grip when Melody joins the cult to protect her
only to find it hard for either of them to gain freedom.
The two felt
near-instant connection from their first meeting. Robin D'Amato takes
to cement this connection and their personalities before introducing
threat and their responses.
translates to a
story filled not just with intrigue, but personality and passion as
Jeff face the Church of Philomathics and bizarre people who harbor
form of mental illness, disguised as faith.
changes, he believes that Philomathics is the answer to everything.
believes it's the answer to nothing, and is a hazardous endeavor that
their relationship and future.
dangerous moves of a cult which always keeps a tight reign on its
minds and movements and comes to understand its power outside of Jeff's
attraction to it, she begins to realize many of its tactics of abuse in
isolating its members from everything, from outside connections to
to those who could help them.
wants Jeff to feel better. If Philomathics will help him, who is she to
Then she wants Jeff free, and back. This is much more of a challenge,
it involves not just separating Jeff from the increasing lure of the
but separating its objectives from theirs and mitigating its impact on
Somebody's Watching You
may sound like a
murder mystery, but it's a
solid, compelling story of psychological control that reaches into the
heart and mind with a gripping saga of slowly evolving mental illness
becomes paired with an outside entity's objectives.
specter of failing the Pathway and the upper Tiers which could give him
extraordinary abilities, Melody faces her own possibility of failure.
story's twists, turns, and psychological depth makes it a literary work
will not just engage but enthrall anyone interested in stories of
change, mental illness, and cult influences.
Somebody's Watching You
is very highly
recommended for its astute
dance between all three subjects.
Return to Index
To Be Enlightened
Alan J. Steinberg, MD
Be Enlightened isn't another
self-help guide, but a novel
that tells of philosophy professor Abe Levy's drive to achieve personal
enlightenment even if it costs him his long-term marriage. His wife is
perfectly willing for him to explore religion within the larger context
their daily lives, while Abe's process involves more of an immersion
different lifestyle that eventually captivates Sarah, as well.
As the new techniques
help keep her anxiety
and panic attacks at bay, Sarah begins to change as much or more than
suddenly finds himself left behind in a process he began in a
Does Vedic philosophy
hold all the answers?
As Abe questions whether enlightenment is actually a different form of
and draws connections between God, philosophy, and daily life's
both within his marriage and himself, Abe's journey becomes even more
(and often more puzzling, to him).
philosophical, and spiritual
concepts collide with school politics and Abe's struggle with ego and
enlightenment, readers receive a wide-ranging story that embraces the
foundations of meditation and Eastern religion in a manner even
general-interest readers with experience in neither can readily absorb.
From his involvement
with troubled child Tom
to his changing relationship with his wife, a number of subplots emerge
the course of this story. Some may say there are almost too many
they all wind together nicely in the end.
Readers with a special
interest in Eastern
philosophy and spirituality will find To Be Enlightened
is not only an
absorbing novel, but also astutely shows how the Eastern concept of
enlightenment can be realized by everyday Westerners.
As Abe confronts the
evolution of Self and
his relationship to it, readers receive a fine survey of Eastern and
mindsets. It is especially strong in its consideration of the
between Eastern and Western approaches to life's meaning, and the
bigger-picture thinking on ordinary lives.
Return to Index
the Light of
the Italian Moon is a novel
inspired by Jennifer Anton's
Italian family heritage. Its premise was "given to her" by the
Italian women in her family, whose stories impacted her greatly.
answers after a tumultuous period in her life and the death of her
Jennifer Anton made trip after trip to Italy to gather oral stories of
relatives while she still could.
about how life in fascist Italy gave way to life during a world war and
Catholicism influenced it all contribute to a powerful story. The saga
in November of 1914, when ten-year-old Nina Argenta faces the puzzles
Catholic Church's rituals and the departure of the town's men to find
abroad, as far away as America.
Nina grows to
question her world, struggles with love, and faces many changes,
swept into Italian culture and women's perspectives of the times,
Nina's own struggle with romance and motherhood.
are 'happy fascists' who find reasons to disbelieve misplaced loyalties
truth about what underlies their passions to women forced to live under
tyrants, keeping their thoughts to themselves, Jennifer Anton evolves a
powerful saga. The story moves into long-distance love in the 1930s,
evolution of new opportunities and challenges to Italy's women, and an
overbearing midwife mother who tries to protect Nina from a rapidly
discusses, as a sub story, the midwife women who labor to bring life
world under the rising hand of Fascism which threatens repress both
places the relationships and evolving social and political perspectives
these women in the foreground of her focus. Readers receive a
examination of how women's' lives and perspectives change both with and
men around them, and how these independent Italians forge bonds and
alike when left to their own devices.
importantly, the institutions of marriage, war, church, motherhood, and
families torn apart "because boys love to fight" brings home the
compelling changes these strong Italian women confront in the face of
disaster and suffering that affects Nina's children's future and all
life all these facets from Nina's changing world and personalizes them
a way that readers gain a solid view of Italy's social and political
and how they challenge these women to survive in many new ways.
result is a
gripping women's story that is realistic, involving, and a tribute to
and daughters in Italy. It's a story that will embrace and enlighten
with Italian backgrounds and those who want to know more about the
Italian women at home and abroad.
Return to Index
978-1-7360880-2-9 $15.00 paper/$5.99 Kindle
friendship between a young foster girl who has suffered abuse and
an antisocial 85-year-old widower is the focus of Unexpected
Findings, a poignant literary work that at first seems
directed to young adults (protagonist La'Teesha Baxter is a teenager).
a shame to limit the audience of this compelling piece to teens alone,
its story of homelessness, connections, assault, trust, and recovery
very adult themes that will appeal widely, from mature young adults
solve the gaps and mysteries her amnesia has left in her life, but she
it without help...and without trusting those around her: "Shit!
Who’s left that I can trust? She remembered Janelle telling
her that she couldn’t invite Tess in because she had a visitor. Janelle
also claimed not to remember Antwon’s last name. That had to have been
Tess felt confused, angry, double-crossed. She was also frightened. If
was part of the reason her mother was missing, what would she do once
that Tess was on to her? What would Antwon do?"
As the story
between issues of danger, discovery, and trust, readers receive a
saga that follows Tess as she navigates uncertain situations, pursues
truth, and develops an odd friendship with the elderly Irv who also has
reasons to fear the outside world.
Tess's growth in a compelling manner that juxtaposes past and present,
influences she uncovers on her choices, and their consequences: "She had always disliked this sticky,
humid time of year. The damp made it almost impossible for her to brush
hair, which was always a challenge anyways. Braids were the answer,
Gram. Mama used to tell her to be proud of her hair, and to let her
free. She‘d never been sure which voice to listen to, since she loved
both. Now, though, she knew what she heard. It was her own voice that
loudest to her, telling her what she must do."
Tess becomes a vivid, believable, likeable character whose search for
embraces some of the foundations of character-building and change.
Unexpected Findings is
story especially recommended
for mature teens to adults. This audience will ideally look for stories
beyond mystery or problem-solving, examining the kinds of relationships
lead to building determined survivors who rise above their
outsiders in life to become mutually beneficial to one another in
supportive new ways.
stories poignant, realistic, and complex will relish the encounters
Tess and Irv and the unexpected resolution which joins them and
disparate life challenges.
Return to Index
Happy Tag Press
978-1-7354522-1-0 Ebook: $2.99; Paperback: $9.99
Crazy Kind of Beautiful
readers interested in stories
about Southern living as it explores the special challenges of teenager
Madison, charged with caring for her six siblings while her father
with end-stage cancer.
The guardian who is set to take over upon her father's death is unreliable, their ex-mother Lisa left the family long ago, and Madison wonders what will happen to her family.
"It's all of us or none of
response to proposals to split them up. "I'm
not going anywhere without all my family. Our family sticks together no
what." But can she hold tight to this admonition against all
not only keep her large family together, but to make her father's final
and their goodbye to him more meaningful. As life becomes even crazier,
those who undertake to become part of her family acknowledge "...how in the midst of all this
strangeness...all the crazy, something beautiful is growing out of it."
Crazy Kind of Beautiful
Madi's personal focus to
explore how everyone is touched by the death, the family, and their own
personal choices and consequences in the process of life's evolution.
deathbed confession of a wrong that Madi sets out to make right changes
everything for all of them, begs forgiveness, and sends her on a
strangers who inadvertently become family.
Crazy Kind of Beautiful's
of redemption, newfound
connections, and redefined life purpose creates a compelling story that
interlaces a series of encounters by family and friends who discover
adversity something greater that drives and connects their lives.
It's a vivid
that lingers in the mind long after the story is over...a story of
belonging, and expanding boundaries that will delight those interested
Return to Index
Nicholas Group Publishing
978-1-7361587-0-8 $14.99 Paper/$.99 Kindle
gives a simple three-step
process to recovering
from debt and learning how to better manage money. It comes from an
has both built multi-million dollar businesses and been flat-out broke.
lead to a type of financial savvy that understands both sides of the
management equation and culls the best practices of those both monied
broke, creating a game plan for lasting success that doesn't depend on
didn't stem from the
author's own financial focus,
but from his need to conduct newfound soul-searching in the face of
challenges. This book is intended as a guiding light and legacy for
generations, promoting a better path to not just money, but life
His focus is
for any in financial stress due to a crushing weight of debt, as well
who would cultivate a debt-free approach to living life.
protocol is based on three simple approaches: assessing individual
reviewing the options, and creating the best plan for one's unique
Three sections discuss each protocol in a manner that can apply equally
readers whether they are struggling students, families coping with
It should be
that this guided lesson is based on a step-by-step approach. No fair
chapters...each is an essential building block that jigsaws into the
of the success puzzle, and each contains information all readers will
useful and specific.
pointed out that discussions of spirituality and faith, not usually
seen in financial
guides, are part of this process. Readers looking for a strictly
approach may find this surprising, but all pieces of the larger picture
included in the discussions of financial and personal well-being.
such wide-ranging subjects as crafting vision and purpose ("Vision is your ability to see the future with
readers are encouraged to improve their situations in many different
and concrete tools for creating a solid game plan to understanding the
connections between plans and outlooks on life in general, Debt-Free ASAP! is especially recommended
reading for those who
want more than just another financial discussion, but a broader review
purpose that helps readers analyze how and why they fell into debt in
place—and how to evolve a much better approach.
Return to Index
Wicked Run Press
978-0578786834 $12.99 Paper/$4.49 Kindle
Driscoe's father entered a psychiatric hospital, she'd hoped the
his mental illness would heal him. She never expected him to vanish.
haunts the corridors of the institution in search of answers, she
deadly danger and a dark truth in The
Hobgoblin of Little Minds, a psychological horror piece that
injecting mental illness into a werewolf story.
to see a
horror theme that holds such strong roots in the real dilemmas of
and mental illness. More than just a horror story alone, Mark Matthews
taken the werewolf theme...and the mental illness picture...to new
combining both for a powerful result that is highly recommended for
horror and psychological suspense alike.
and familiar patterns of response and flight to the evolving truth,
takes the time to create solid insights into Kori's life, logic, and
world: "Mom was fishing for a fight and Kori
was used to taking the bait. She eyed the front door, the oft-used
for this house when the walls dripped with tension...Dad’s manic energy
filled the house even though he’d been gone for years. The last time
him was just a drop-off at the porch during the divorce. She had no
would be goodbye. If only she could’ve bottled up his fantastic flurry
enthusiasm and saved it for later, sipping on it when needed—but his
rages and incantations that followed were a horrible aftertaste forever
poisoning her life. "
with mental illness and its challenges will readily recognize Kori's
perceptions. They will also find that the special events surrounding
situation elevate this story into a new dimension beyond struggles with
disorder and its impact on the family.
between Kori's exploration of the hospital's deeper secrets to the
experiment Lilith and her impact on the world, Matthews moves the story
powerful levels as the hospital—and the world—unravel.
The Hobgoblin of Little
Minds excels in
the unexpected. Be prepared
to enjoy a dark horror piece rooted firmly in real history and
uses the metaphor of the werewolf mythos in not just horror literature,
compelling story that's hard to put down and impossible to forget.
Return to Index
How My Brain
Golden Word Books
978-1948749619 $11.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
My Brain Works: A Guide to Understanding It Better and Keeping It
Healthy may sound
like a primer for elementary-grade
or teen readers (and may indeed reach into young adult audiences), it's
adult discussion with a more inviting title than most health
brain physiology, and is especially recommended for general interest
in brain trauma, recovery, and neurological conditions affecting the
discussion begins with a
history of neuropsychology
and its evolution as a health discipline. Chapters define the term and
the kinds of tests, approaches to health and healing, and clinical
processes that families and individuals need to understand as they move
the health care system to resolve a brain condition.
My Brain Works
doesn't just cover disease and injury, but any physical or mental
affecting how the brain functions, from menopause to the effects of
and sleep on the brain's optimum performance.
each stage, discussions
assume no prior knowledge of
either physiology or psychology, but offer clear information in terms
reader can readily understand. This differentiates How
My Brain Works from the many healthcare-oriented discussions
already on the market, and makes its very simple title more
it builds appeal based on language anyone can easily understand.
Koltuska-Haskin is a
practicing neuropsychologist who draws
on case history examples to further create the informative, lively tone
sets her book apart from others: "After
talking for a while to make her more comfortable, I explained that
complaints aren’t necessarily memory problems, and told her what kind
testing we would be doing. I mentioned that most patients with dementia
with judgment and insight, and tend to be in denial about their memory
other cognitive problems. Most of them are brought for evaluation by
members who see changes in their functioning that are not obvious to
patients themselves. This made Janet feel more comfortable and eager to
The blend of
facts, individual experience, and physician
insight creates a book much more accessible and wide-ranging than most
subject. How My Brain Works is very
highly recommended for both health and general-interest collections and
alike, from healthcare professionals to families, caregivers, and
concerned about the brain's functions and possibilities.
Return to Index
Make it a
Bits of Steak Press
$10.99 Paper/$24.99 Hardcover/$4.99 ebook
Make it a Double is
McNair's second book of poems and
adopts a solid, belligerent attitude from the start, with a poetic
McNair's audience and intentions: "This
is not/your mother’s poetry—/erudite and finished./No, this is
poetry,/big-hanging-balls poetry,/written by a man for men."
replete in profanity, whiskey, and powerful reflections on encounters
sides of the bar stool. It sizzles and synthesizes as it depicts a life
usually committed to verse: "I write
love poems about/wood bars and darkened rooms/ice-cold beer and
cherish the voices of my fellow drunks/and wear the foolishness of
words/like wool around my neck,/our tumblers clanking/like wind
toast our luck."
these pieces will certainly offend the politically correct, many a
and those who equate the poetic form with circumspect wisdom...but this
collection isn't written for the usual audience. Those seeking literary
traditional epic approaches would be advised to look elsewhere; because
while Make it a Double is
and epic, it doesn't reflect the usual sense of these words, and is
to raise hackles in the erudite mind.
If there was
'poetry for the people' designed to explore the experiences,
milieu of a class not usually committed to verse, it would be this
of drink, drunks, bars, women, and the underbelly of life will resonate
strongly with anyone familiar with this milieu: "The
whiskey weighs on me/like a leaden cloak/leaching into my
bloodstream,/changing the very structure/of my face."
are often gritty and revealing, as in 'Uncle Jim's Last Shot of Whiskey
Cloudy Day in Late September Just Before he Was Swallowed by the Earth.'
men) looking for poems that speak to the heart, embedded with
alcohol and life, with a bit of hair of the dog that comes with the
originality, will relish these reflections.
Return to Index
Dr. Monica Armillotta
978-1-951490-84-3 $18.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Play the Rules, Book ONE:
a self-help book designed
for those who don't ordinary turn to self-help guides, and adds a sense
humor into the mix of advice on how to understand and tap into
in life, adding them to personal approaches to success.
empowerment, Dr. Monica
Armillotta utilizes narrative non-fiction to blend autobiography and
humor as she
presents over thirty 'rules' that can be used, broken, manipulated or
to support efforts towards achieving empowerment.
stereotypes dominate both this subject and the self-help industry in
which is why a number of readers might initially avoid these helpful
in yet another book about empowerment. That would be a shame, because Play the Rules is truly different.
review of the
typical polarization between faith and fear and how to challenge that
and redefine its limits to the side effects of indulging in magical
instead of proactive behaviors, Dr. Armillotta draws upon concrete
experience to cement her advice: "Even
knowing this might happen, I chose to try and will away the problem
preparing for the alternative. I chose to cling to my plan for a cozy
at home instead of embracing the unexpected detour. I was numbed by the
sense of comfort we often feel when we stick with the crowd, and while
in a seemingly endless queue of airport transfers, I realized that I
precious time I could have spent taking things into my own hands.
the lasting impact of stories and scenarios, which form foundations for
subconscious decision-making not always to our benefit, to revising
stories to discover that belief may be based on shaky ground and needs
revising, chapters draw out the common connections, concerns, and
daily living. They point out, through example, how many underlying
be identified, confronted, and changed.
observations are often not only astute, but hard-hitting and funny, all
"Yoga enthusiasts are a mixed bag.
There is the rare handful of enlightened ones—angel-like creatures
kind of reassuring aura around them—along with the majority of us, who
hope one day to get there while pretzeling our way through the most
poses. And then there are those who are just there because it’s trendy.
last group is just there for another accessory practice so they get to
like they’re part of the in-crowd—wearing the compulsory Lululemons
and overpriced, matching tops of course. Basically, they’re the
materialists, as well paired with spirituality as pasta would be with
so than most self-help titles, the result is a lively read that offers
relief and concrete observations about the process of gaining more
Play the Rules, Book ONE:
highly recommended reading
for those interested in the subject, who want a different recipe for
than the usual formula self-help book provides.
Return to Index
Creative Edge Publishing LLC
9798665284903 $13.95 Paper/$1.99 Kindle
Book 1 in
series of supernatural stories, Soul
Seeker, is a paranormal romance centered upon the classic
good and evil forces, set against a small town's backdrop.
Daemonium clashes with family man Benjamin Poe, who is tricked
murdering; then commits suicide in prison.
It takes a
group of scientists and fighters, The Sovereign Sector, to not only
demon, but transform his mission by tricking him into having a
with an angel.
firefighter's story and ultimate failure to Crighton's imprisonment,
unlikely evolving connection with angel Ariel, and the evolution of
unlikely bond, Kaylin McFarren provides a vivid set of encounters
unexpected emotional ties between traditional enemies: "She
raised her chin. “Then do it. Kill me.” “I can’t.” “Why not?”
The demon drew a blank and looked down. “It doesn’t feel right.” “Your
are stopping you.” “I don’t have any. I—” “Take a look at yourself,
No demon would miss the opportunity for such an easy kill. Yet, here
just a few feet away. How many angels have you killed? Probably enough
me nightmares. Killing one more should be easy for you, but it isn’t.
bring readers to unexpected moments of confrontation as Crighton's
freedom and blood are countered by an angel's very different mission.
brings with it changing loyalties and many unexpected moments that
won't see coming, which is one of the strengths of a story in which a
main protagonist is developed and then killed off, with a demon proving
not as dark as he first appears.
Soul Seeker will
satisfy readers who
relish the unexpected,
developing its characters and plot with fine connections to detail and
fast-paced action. A host of characters support the changing worlds of
and Crighton, and readers are invited to care about them all in the
course of a
story that is at once suspenseful, racy, and thought-provoking.
Its focus on
line between good and evil and what happens when this line shifts makes
involving read that will delight paranormal romance readers looking for
something refreshingly different and less predictable than most in the
Return to Index
South of the Border: Women
to Latin America
Evelyn M. Cherpak, Editor
987-1-64990-079-1 $17.99 Paper/$7.99 ebook
A surprising number of
overseas to Latin America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
journeyed with spouses or company; others traveled alone. Many wrote
their experiences in letters, journals, and essays. South of
the Border: Women
Travelers to Latin America gathers
these early insights for armchair travelers and women's history buffs
just pleasure travelers. They assumed a variety of roles in visiting
countries, from a plantation mistress in Cuba to a teacher in the
YWCA director in Brazil, and a consul's wife in Chile.
exploring the experiences of different classes and purposes of female
in these varying countries achieves two purposes. They consider women's
roles and strengths as they traversed foreign milieus, and provide
in-depth discussions of social conditions.
treatment of Chinese and other ethnic groups as observed by social
Julia Ward Howe to experiencing Uruguay and Paraguay for the first
presented from the viewpoint of Naval officer wife Marguerite Bates
these countries, female perceptions of various layers of society and
and the reactions and notes of women who wrote about what they found
in these nations creates a collection that may surprise those who
of an adventure travel approach, but will delight readers interested in
accounts of early women's sojourns and their social and political
Return to Index
Dense Crush Load: The
Story of Man REDUX
represents history, fable, and philosophical in a package that will
thinking readers searching for something thought-provokingly different.
might expect a
chronological history, but Aneesh
Abraham embraces a different
approach by considering classic human conflicts with world, self, and
broader universe at large.
both within himself and in the world, as well as perceptions of the
universe, are distilled into a survey some might say is replete with
However, the story strings together language and concepts in a way that
enlightening and unique: "The story
of Man has historically been recounted in many forms, condensed and
digestible pop capsules—all praiseworthy products of our supremely
skills. The distilled brew here is extracted and reduced from three
entities—nature, Man, and the universe, into a schema that is nothing
a black hole, pulling everything in, including mankind’s past, present,
future, crushing it into an uncomfortable density. As against standard
chronological history, the journey of mankind is seen in a different
with studio perfection, but with all the hard shadows and noise. For
purpose, we can conceive a trinity of sorts playing out in the higher
history plays out, readers will be surprised by the emotional focus
within its survey that is missing from the usual historical reenactment
human affairs: "The famine of 1943
was a result of the callous attitude and complicity of the then British
Minister Winston Churchill, who fared little better than his Axis
when it came to valuing life."
mind-bending connections that do more than present history, focusing on
underlying motivations and ethics that changed lives: "Many
policies and tactics of the British, including the
innovation of concentration camps in the Second Boer War, and the
conviction went on to become the inspiration for the Nazis."
about it: Super Dense Crush Load is
remake of and remark on perceptions of past events, present-day psyche,
future ambitions and struggles.
controversial, Super Dense Crush Load provides
many points for discussion, newfound reflections, and intriguing ideas
some of the dangerous possibilities mankind faces in the future: "Artificial intelligence, designed by
humans for machines, is envisaged to supercharge humanity, giving it an
equal, if not more competence. In the quest to develop better tools, AI
the breakthrough that will allow us the pleasure and power of humanized
Super Dense Crush Load is
recommended reading for
college-level students who would enjoy and contemplate a very different
approach to human affairs than the usual historical, philosophical, or
technological focus on mankind's evolving society and values.
Return to Index
Wild Pansy, an imprint of Armin Lear
$21.95 paperback; ebook $14.99 US/$16.99 CAN
The Sweetness of Venus: A
History of the Clitoris
for health and women's history holdings alike. It provides a discussion
female sexuality that delves into not just sexuality and biology, but
and political history.
the physiology of the clitoris and how viewpoints of its origins and
changed over the centuries as more was discovered about its functions
changing social perspectives about female sexuality.
anatomy, perception, and language contain topics that assume an
lively, personal explorative tone as Sarah Chadwick conducts
researches, speculates, and links facts and history to intriguing
about the changing role of women's sexuality in human history: "The issue, apart from the fact that
the sex is written about in code, is that a lot of 18th- and
literary heroines who have great sex are creations of 18th- or
male imaginations, and it doesn’t end well for the fictional sexualized
Take Anna Karenina, for example. As if those symbolic thundering trains
thrusting though the novel were not enough, she has to die underneath
wheels of one, too. Now I know about Victorians and trains, I get that
metaphor; she gave into sexual passion and it killed her."
tone is unexpected and welcome, allowing non-history readers and those
little background in the subject to engage on a more personal and
level: "We’ve come a long way from
the days when women were not allowed to show their ankles and had to
skirts or dresses, but there is still a clothed modesty about the area
a woman’s legs. It’s as if by splaying them she opens the way to her
this is taboo. I care about this taboo, because by censuring the vulva
knowledge. We imply there’s something to be ashamed of and what’s there
decent—or why would it need to be kept hidden? Come back, women of
insights, reactions, and feelings throughout keep the discussion on a
as well as a political and physiological level. This contributes to the
impact of a survey that will educate, enlighten, and engross women
in the overall history of women's sexuality as well as the specific
of knowledge focussing on the clitoris.
normally versed in women's history or biology will find The
Sweetness of Venus an appealing and dynamic coverage.
Return to Index
Suduhita Mitra Sankhe
Tangled Tales offers 'quick bites
for a fast life' in the form
of short contemporary
stories about Indian culture, illustrated with introductory black and
line sketches by Sourabh Sankhe. It's the perfect choice for a busy
hectic life, and those with the desire to examine whimsical and ironic
circumstances in modern times.
romance story 'Matched', for example. In a move to be liberated from
parents' traditional wishes for her future, Riya has moved into her own
close to her job. Yet, she attends her mother's lunch discussions
the primary subject revolves around possible matches for a husband.
she's holding out for a man she really "clicks with" and is drawn to
online dating as one of the possibilities for finding him...not her
relentless drive to be a matchmaker. An arranged situation that worked
mother cannot work for her...Riya is certain of this, especially when
a fellow bookworm during her online search and begins to think she can
own romance apart from her mother's plans.
they never would have met otherwise, given their very different
makes the world of online dating seem all the more attractive. An
attraction based on seemingly improbable similar tastes leads to the
feel of a
relationship with "a year-old maturity" after only a month.
uncovers a mystery about AJ's past and encourages him to solve it, her
leads her into an improbable coincidence that changes everything.
nicely done, involving, and unpredictable.
is 'Burn Appétit', which opens with
a deity from Hindu mythology and moves to mother Lata's concern over a
always seems to get hurt during the yearly festival of Diwali.
spends the celebration worrying about her son. Every year, she wonders
curse has vanished or will re-emerge. As Lata faces protecting her son
again, fate intervenes, and in the end the reader is presented with
about the source of the curse, Neel's accidents, and Lata's involvement
features a satisfying twist. Each traverses Indian culture and custom
manner that encourages familiar appreciation from those of Indian
newfound understanding from those whose roots lie elsewhere.
result is an
intriguing collection which will reach a wide audience of literary
like well-written short stories with surprise conclusions that can't be
coming. It's especially highly recommended for literary collections
in strong, contemporary Indian writings.
Return to Index
Workplace Secrets Revealed
Alan L. Oppenheimer, CPA
Dock Holiday Press
978-1735086019 $16.95 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
Revealed (Passing the Baton to the Next
Generation) provides students entering the
workplace for the first time with a powerful blueprint for success. It
on information about jobs and work which can lead workers to avoid
in their efforts to succeed in the workplace.
think this guide would be best presented in college to students who are
cusp of graduation, high school students should also read Workplace
Revealed before they enter their first paying job. Workplace
Secrets Revealed covers such basics as whether or not a
college education can make a difference, and how to assess the value of
for a mentor.
with a review of the different environments between baby boomers and
generations to follow, exploring how these revised milieus led to
workplace experiences, expectations, and challenges.
advised to carefully consider college benefits versus debt and time
college chapter discusses the tradeoffs of college and possibility of
underemployment despite the four-year investment of a degree, giving
resources to consider not only how they will enter the work world, but
what skills and debt levels.
encouraged to develop a practical direction that takes into account all
facets and more, including adding certifications, degrees, and expanded
learning into their efforts to boost their achievements without
encouraged to think outside the box of just gaining employment to look
long-term process of growth on many levels: "We
grow and learn by doing difficult/unfamiliar things...As you enter the
workforce, you will be doing some things that are difficult and will
need to push
Secrets Revealed lays
out essential tools for thriving within the corporate
topic is rarely discussed in college and yet, is critical for employees
working towards achieving their career goals. From resolving difficult
workplace situations to ways you can improve yourself and
book is a quick read and ideal for young adults.
corporate America and office politics to dealing with coworkers
and personally or facing a career derailment such as COVID, Workplace
Secrets Revealed ideally
should be given to given to both college and high school students long
graduation, ideally to be discussed with guidance counselors, parents,
Its lessons provide a foundation for success in assessing real-world problems and solutions with an eye to helping the young worker craft a bigger picture of their goals and how to achieve them.Workplace Secrets Revealed
Return to Index
Jeffrey B. Miller
Rowman & Littlefield
$29.00 Paper; $94.00 Hardcover; $27.50 ebook
Author Website: www.YanksBehindTheLines.com
history readers who look for lively stories that bring to life events
people will find Yanks Behind The Lines:
How the Commission for Relief in Belgium Saved Millions From
During World War I just the
ticket. It provides a revealing, engrossing experience of the efforts
inexperienced American volunteers who entered German-occupied Belgium
that nation from starvation during World War I.
It's startling to note
that this is the
first in-depth coverage in more than 30 years of their efforts, which
in saving the nation of some ten million from certain disaster. Readers
any interest in social issues as well as history—particularly the nuts
bolts of providing food relief under wartime conditions in
territory—will find this an amazing story indeed.
Embedded within the
story is the overall
evolution of the guiding principles and efforts of food relief, both
capitalist viewpoint and a humanitarian perspective. These ideals often
as different people lectured about both sides of the coin: "Hoover
fashioned it in a completely different way from how other relief
been established. He organized it like a big business, which had opened
to criticism that Smith acknowledged and described. “Many people still
it as a huge American concern, eager to sell its goods. Every delegate
anxious down-town look for a new customer, precisely as if he were to
certain percentage or rake-off from a sale.” “But that is where the
comes in,” Smith declared. “Though organized like a big business, where
account is scrupulously examined, every expenditure tallied, there is
absolutely no diversion of funds [away from relief ]. . . . Though the
Commission acts like a commercial house in reducing its expenses to the
lowest and in bringing its efficiency to the very highest, it is in its
and spirit wholly an experiment in ideality, and that is what lends to
such an absorbing, not to say exciting, interest.” Moving quickly into
hyperbole, Smith went on to say, “Almost every dream of the idealist
true. People, for once in the world’s history, are governed by purely
Herbert Hoover (who
would later become the
31st U.S. President) and the politics surrounding this humanitarian
given plenty of in-depth attention as Jeffrey
B. Miller recreates dialogues and arguments, profiles major players
both in the
effort and behind the scenes, and brings all to life with dialogue and
interactions that at times read with the lively drama of fiction.
The World War I atmosphere
is given a
'you are here' feel
that juxtaposes history's facts and statistics with a personal touch to
general-interest readers beyond the usual World War I scholar or
Extensive references at the conclusion support the history and
adding sources for further reading.
From skirmishes between
workers and German soldiers
to forced deportations, internal conflicts, and relief processes that
rules and offered no guarantees, Yanks
Behind The Lines should be required reading for anyone
interested in how
humanitarian efforts operate behind the scenes during war times in
in Belgium during World War I in particular.
Return to Index
Younger and Wiser:
Peaceful Words for a Troubled
vignettes of examples about human experience and lessons learned over
stories reflecting Gene S. Jones' personal journey. It provides an
link between example stories and growth by taking the form of a poetic
expression on one page and a back-story of its message or wellspring on
what could have saved poet Sylvia Plath from suicide and the effects of
brilliant, troubling psyche and words to how crafting the poem 'Brain
forced Jones to "contemplate his own dark side and what a private
might look like," Younger and Wiser
draws important connections between the poetic form, philosophical
the psychological interplays between life experience, creativity, and
a wide range of topics, verse that enlightens, and back-story
incorporate self-help approaches into the structure of a memoir.
peaceful result is recommended reading for not just poets and self-help
readers, but those who enjoy memoirs paired with commentary on life
Return to Index
The Adventures of
Forkman: What’s That Noise?
Tiffany Caldwell & W.R. MacKenzie
Adventures of Forkman: What’s That Noise? is
the second book in the 'Adventures of Forkman' series, enjoys fun
Vanessa Alexandre, and tells of utensil superhero Forkman's
kids on how to load the dishwasher and clean up.
may sound like anything but an adventure, but
Forkman makes it fun, educating kids about right and wrong ways to work
bringing young picture book readers into a world where talking forks
with names (such as Peter the Plate) come to life.
kids in this story can't understand what could
be fun about cleaning dishes. Forkman enlightens them not just about
procedures (such as positioning the dishes in the right areas in the
dishwasher), but about working as a team to get a job done.
is soon joined by friends who advise the
kids on safety, as well: “Hey, William!?” Knifeguy shouted.
“Can you please
turn me around and put my pointy end down? I do not
want anyone to get hurt by my blade!”
The result is a
fun romp through kitchen duty that expands into table etiquette as
his friends help kids understand the logic behind routines and
Good reading skills or
assistance will lend value to this engaging story of utensils that come
to impart wisdom and fun to young learners.
Return to Index
Roslyn and the Heart
B085B8G65M $0.99 Kindle/$8.40 Paper
has a warm and loving, giving perspective about life at her young age,
though her adoptive mother died when she was sick, sending her adoptive
into a whirlwind of alcohol and anger and leaving his cruel son to make
Besides her giving
is aided by a magical tiny snake that holds the ability to absorb her
keeping her loving heart intact against all the onslaughts of loss and
in her home.
It turns out that
serpent isn't the only force in her life that changes things. There's a
power at large, just waiting for her discoveries and choices.
Roslyn and the Heart of Universe doesn't open
with Glory's perspective, but with an exploration of a broader world
includes the waning beauty of The
Colossal (as the residents of the old
homes name their colony). Beautiful gardens are waning, the too-hot sun
wiping out England's creatures, and havoc and madness are in the air
violent weather changes.
A storm seems to
end of the world, but instead it appears to be transformed. And in one
house, Glory is introduced, "lost in creativity" in her carving
effort. Between the spooky milieu of a changing world and the crescendo
change that follows, readers of all ages will be drawn into a blend of
and fairy tale that takes 'happily ever after' and gives it a spin of
Roslyn and the Heart of Universe features all the
trappings of a creative, solid read that inject Glory's world with a
overlay of magic. Its descriptions are vibrant and compellingly
original: "Glory was a sharp-featured,
eleven-year-old girl. She wore her black hair in a ponytail. She looked
living body whose blood was sucked out and a few drops were left for
A search for the heart
of universe leads
Glory, Pinku, Dream Walker, and a host of characters on an
unexpected journey that leads to encounters with talking apple trees; a
leader who has changed the hearts and minds of subjects to the king;
spells and counter-spells; and more.
Middle-grade kids and
appreciate fantasy and evocative, heartfelt descriptions of quests that
brave moves and different perceptions of the promise of the Heart
Universe will find Glory Roslyn and
the Heart of Universe especially compelling for its
descriptions and thought-provoking insights that move well beyond the
fantasy quest theme.
Readers of all ages
for fresh, original descriptions and satisfying fantasy will find Glory Roslyn and the Heart of Universe
an exceptional read.
Return to Index
978-1-970133-99-8 $18.95 Paper/$5.95 Kindle
It's Me gives
readers (ages 9-15) 57
pages of picture/comic book
vignettes based real stories written by students, teachers, and
diversity, prejudice, and inclusively.
accompanied by a fine drawing of each contributor by illustrator
Altpeter, a note about the special challenges faced by that writer
(eleven-year-old Britney has dyslexia and a processing disorder;
Zach has autism, for examples), and a short explanation that adds the
of each contributor about his life, perceptions, and challenges.
sixteen-year-old with Tourette's Syndrome to teens struggling with
bulimia, dyslexia, and just being of different ethnicities, these short
are designed to help children understand the special life challenges
for this picture-style book is 13-15, but it's recommended for advanced
school readers, as well, promising to reach beyond its intended age
educate kids about the meaning of the words 'diversity' and 'inclusion'
presenting personal insights they can easily relate to.
for a dialogue about understanding and building support systems, It's Me offers critical insights that
should lend nicely to wider discussions between adults and peers, and
recommended reading for any collection looking for clear insights that
empathy as an antidote to hatred, fear, intolerance, and prejudice.
Return to Index
Journey To A New Earth
Zeinab Sher, Publisher
$10.99 Paper/$19.56 Hardcover/$4.99 Kindle
It's hard to identify
strength in the engaging picture book story Journey
To A New Earth: Penelope Panda and Kobi
Koala Discover A New Earth;
but certainly its most immediately striking aspect lies in gorgeous,
drawings by Zuzana Svobodová which prove instantly compelling before the story
itself is even
choose this story for its read-aloud value will relish the lovely
featured within as Penelope Panda decides it's a beautiful day for a
some lovely leaves, she's just about to settle down for a nap when a
koala captures her attention. It's Kobi, who explains that his home
fire, and he was separated from his friends when everyone fled.
encounter a wise singing, talking tree who explains everything is
the real message of the story, beyond its introductory themes of
helping those in need, emerges.
to give kids different messages about giving, friendship,
and the enchantment of nature will find all these elements are explored
To A New
Earth is highly recommended as a
read-aloud that lures with especially vibrant color images and backs up
initial attraction with a message that parents and teachers will find
especially important (and not often imparted with this mix of depth and
simplicity) for young picture book readers.
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Lindsay Kellar-Madsen & Mie Frey Damgaard
Little Otter Press
The Lovely Haze of Baby
rhyme and humor to both entertain
the very young book listener and warm and welcome the harried mother
may believe she is alone in her trials and tiredness over a new baby's
scenario, there are "babies, babies everywhere", and the mother feels
that "Our rhythm beats the baby way.
Most every night blurs into day."
involved in baby care are offset by cuteness and smiles, while a
feeling of complete exhaustion is eased through her sense of community
with other mothers.
While The Lovely Haze of
Baby Days lends
nicely to read-aloud, it's as much for the mother as for her child. A
find the rhymes and bright, lovely illustrations appealing, while the
of a mother's changed life and new challenges will prove more than
parents at their wits' end.
noted that diversity is celebrated through the varied drawings of women
babies of all colors and ethnicities.
The Lovely Haze of Baby
and its delivery are powerful,
lovely, and ultimately uplifting. Overwhelmed mothers will feel support
love from its special form of acknowledgements and words.
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enlightening, positive picture book about a deadly serious subject
(cancer) in MC Plays Hide and Seek,
which presents a
little creature that excels in playing hide and seek with the children
simple descriptions which drive the story covers the basics of cancer's
ravages in a manner the very young can relate to: "In
a game of Marco Polo, if you FEEL the
water/moving, you know the person hiding is nearby. But
not with me. When I’m around,
everything/usually feels the same."
Each page in
34-page picture book pairs a child's photograph with the image of this
creature, who states that "The
bigger I grow, the easier it is to find me. The bigger I grow, the
can be to get rid of me."
serious and complex. It's a challenge explaining this concept to the
in terms they can not just understand, but relate to on an emotional
discussion moves from how cancer hides and shows itself to the
of medical professionals charged with looking for elusive cancer
response to the subject is also reviewed, and conversations are
explore these feelings ("There is no
right or wrong way to feel. Everyone feels differently.").
these connections in a way that is critical to conversations with kids
cancer. MC Plays Hide and Seek should
be the picture book of choice that is consulted whenever a discussion
arise about cancer in a child or loved one. It leaves no stone unturned
exploring the physical and psychological impact of a cancer diagnosis
efforts to keep it at bay.
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on the Move
Move receives fun drawings by Jenny
Phelps and follows the story of Mickey, who is about to start sixth
grade at a
new school. Unlike most stories about new kids, this one isn't
his fifth new school and move, after all.
As the story evolves,
book readers with good reading skills learn that Mickey is hard of
gets around in the world with help from friends, technological
an attitude that demonstrates a creative, positive spirit.
Mickey's transition at
school seems to be on track, but there are still adjustments everyone
make, such as how his ochlear implants fail to cope with a noisy
environment. His wise mother knows that all it takes is a little
planning to make life go more smoothly for Mickey.
Kids who know little
hearing problems receive plenty of details during the course of
They also will learn about problem-solving, solutions, flexibility, and
cultivating positive interpersonal relationships.
With its emphasis on
adjustment, and cooperative thinking, Mickey
on the Move is a highly recommended story that educates kids
who are hard of hearing and the adjustments that make their lives
engaging story about a new kid who is slightly different also teaches
about tolerance and adaptation, making this the perfect story of choice
parents looking for educate the young picture book readers about living
hearing problem. Mickey on the Move
is also highly recommended for collections seeking books about
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is a picture book story about young August, who learns he soon will be
older brother in his family.
Horokhivskyi provides realistic, appealing illustrations that trace
changing role as a single child, which he greets with enthusiasm. He's
wanted a sibling. But, how, exactly, will this new arrival come into
Brandy Pearce spins an
attractive story that equates a mother's tummy to an 'oven' where the
baking until done. The major difference to this story is that the
not in August's mother's body, but in another. And so the concept of
Another difference is
surrogate mother, Julia, is introduced to Augie, and a relationship
between them all as her pregnancy evolves.
But, will the baby be
or Julia's? How will this affect his relationship as the boy's brother?
can they be
related, if Julia is
carrying the child?
Brandy Pearce does an
job of following through on the 'oven' and 'bake' concept, even
relationship of the brothers by responding to Augie's question, saying
"the ingredients are the same" even though Julia provided the
The result is an
to surrogacy that will best benefit from parental read-aloud, as it
good reading skills and a level of comprehension about the process that
best be reinforced by adult participation.
This fine story that
surrogacy and how a special family comes together with a little extra
recommended for any collection strong in health and family education.
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Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC
$24.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
Not My Ruckus
explores the life of
14-year-old tomboy Clare, who
does many things even a tomboy usually doesn't do, from toting a gun to
her friend Esther (even though her family "wasn't our kind of
stems from that illicit kiss—the gunshot, the feeling that she should
Esther, murder, and the secrets Clare feels she must expose. Mature
choose Not My Ruckus are in for a
real treat because, in Clare's world, nothing is set in stone—
motivations, strengths, and sense of place in a changing world.
unusual portrait of a young woman who takes command of her emotions and
a place for herself in the world which is anything but common.
which Clare and Esther build an uncertain best friend relationship to
worries about becoming a burden to her family, her acknowledgement that
Gunnar will never bow to reason, and her foray into an adult world with
readers will constantly be startled and amazed by Clare's experiences,
fortitude, and determination as she sojourns into the adult world.
Not My Ruckus
embraces many mature
themes, from sexuality to murder
and beyond. This is not a read for anyone looking for a staid
piece, but the perfect recommendation for readers seeking a spunky,
heroine who doesn't conform to the standards of her community or her
It's a vivid tale of remarkable exploits in a world that continually
notions of age-appropriate experiences.
readers looking for a feisty character who grasps her adult world with
hands and gives it a genre- (and mind-) bending shake will relish the
force and life events that set Not My
Ruckus in a class of its own.
highly recommended read that embraces many elements not typical of the
young adult protagonist or story line.
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A H Benjamin, Author
Daniel J. O'Brien, Illustrator
Paperback: 978-1-953747-00-6 $8.99
Hardcover: 978-1-953747-01-3 $16.50
The Talking Mango Tree
pictures by Daniel J. O'Brien and presents a 44-page reader suitable
elementary to middle grade readers. It tells of the dilemma faced by
creatures when the mango tree with the tastiest mangos begins to make
of its would-be harvesters.
out when the tree commands him to sing for his supper. Snake is just
take a bite when he's told to stand on his head. Monkey is commanded to
acrobatics. Each is challenged to perform a task they aren't naturally
for, and the mango tree is much amused by these efforts.
Why is the
suddenly talking? And why are its demands so challenging? The forest
decide to ferret out the truth, but the story's joy lies in events that
transpire before this effort.
reading skills will find this story thoroughly absorbing,
fun, powered by the illustrator's unique knack for capturing both
tropical settings and the whimsical responses of each animal to
More so than
picture book stories, The Talking Mango
Tree is a keepsake that will not 'age', but is certain to
attention and enjoyment from a wide audience of young readers (and even
read-aloud adults working with them).
It is very,
highly recommended reading.
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T. M. Jackson
Scrubs Like Us For Us, LLC
$12.99 Paper/$15.99 Hardcover/$9.99 ebook
Kids in Kindergarten to
grade will find Who’s Jerry? a
colorful picture book story about mental illness that begins with a
girl's excitement over an 'A' grade paper that she brings home to share
her mother. Her mother, however, is cruel and angry towards her. Why?
Her mother refers to
named 'Jerry,' but Imani has never met this person, who seems to be
her mother from her. Why does he hate her? And why is her mother's
Imani wonders why her
no longer taking care of herself...but most of all, she wonders why her
no longer seems to love her.
As a caring teacher
grade fall from A to C and decides to intervene, young readers receive
careful consideration of the presence and effects of a parent's mental
on the entire family.
T. M. Jackson does an
exceptional job of presenting observations from Imani's point of view,
covering the indicators of mental illness and its effects on the young
The only question that
as Imani explains matters to her father, who is called to the school,
is why he
never noticed anything wrong with Imani's mother, even before the work
he's just returned from. Surely, some warning signs were there before
But, when Imani's father asks how long her mother has been acting a
way, Imani states, "She' s been
acting weird for a while, Daddy. She was hiding Jerry from
before, but now she doesn't anymore..." This reinforces the
that mental illness can hide, for a time, until it's too overt to be
excels in its consideration of a mother's mental condition from a
requires good reading skills and ideally will be read by an adult
explain mental illness to the young picture book enthusiast. It
strong starting point for a child's understanding not just of the
how a family can come together to improve matters.
There are too few books
for the very young about schizophrenia's impact on the family, making Who’s Jerry? an important acquisition.
Return to Index
Summer Be Like Pizza?
Andy V. Roamer
Nine Star Press
Ebook: 978-1-64890-020-4 $ 4.99
Print: 978-1-64890-021-1 $13.99
Why Can’t Freshman Summer
Be Like Pizza?
sports an odd name, and
readers who come to this book without prior familiarity with the first
Pizza Chronicles' series might wonder about its very strange query.
RV is now
is looking forward to a summer off from his demanding term at Boston
School. He wants to have more leisure time with his best friend Bobby,
may be gay; but his immigrant parents have something else in mind for
and Bobby's parents, too, have come up with productive ways for him to
time off—which do not involve RV.
friend, Carole, is also going away for the summer, leaving him with
advisor/teacher Mr. Aniso to talk to whenever he feels lonely or
feels like this will be a summer of isolation, it becomes one of more
discoveries as RV gets involved in a violent threat at a garage and gas
store where he holds a part-time casual job and finds himself suddenly
estranged from Bobby when he inadvertently spills his friend's deepest
to his supportive teacher.
like an adult and RV aspires to fill these expectations; but he also
feels like a child, confused and helpless about his feelings and his
How can he
these emotions with new friendship opportunities and a better
choices and their consequences?
question and navigate this strange world that lies between young adult
adult. His dilemmas and realistic dialogues with himself and those
will attract teens seeking involving discussions that offer no easy
but more than a few possible solutions to the kinds of choices RV
Why Can’t Freshman Summer
Be Like Pizza?
is a continuing
exploration of RV's world and ideally should be read after the
introductory Why Can't Life Be Like Pizza?, rather
than as a stand-alone piece.
to delight as he makes headway in identifying the kind of person he
wants to be
and the people he wants to embrace in his life, albeit in different
questioning their own sexual identity and friendships, especially, will
RV's examination of the differences between them and 'more than
for thoroughly engrossing, enlightening reading.
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Book 1 of
Chronicles', Why Can't Life Be Like
Pizza?, reaches young adult readers with an introduction to
RV, a good kid
who is the son of immigrants. He's a new high school freshman
maintain his grades while fielding bullies and mean teachers alike, and
struggles with his fluid sexual identity.
stage in his
life, everything seems questionable, unbalanced, and difficult—even his
friendship with a supportive gay teacher, his decision to date a girl,
crush on a fellow classmate who confesses he might be gay.
pizza in all its variations seems straightforward and relatively
Why can't life be this way?
questions, decisions, and experiences with a jaunty first-person
young adult readers receive a compelling story spiced by a powerful
comments not just on his own emotions, but the environment around him: "Besides the usual things American
parents worry about, like making money and having their kids do well in
my parents spend more time worrying about the big things: politics,
fascism, global terror, and the fact they and their parents survived
and jail so
Grateful? Ha! As far as I’m concerned, life is pretty miserable
Instead of thinking about the World Series or Disneyland, I worry about
terrorists down the street or the dirty bombs the strange family around
corner might be building."
compelling is RV's candidness, whether he's considering his own looks ("I even look a little weird, I think.
Tall and skinny with an uncoordinated walk because of my big feet that
the way and make me feel like a clod. Oh, yeah. I’ve been getting some
lately, and I wear glasses since I’m pretty nearsighted. Not a pretty
it?") and feeling like a loser, or his determination to forge
identity at Boston Latin School, a pressure cooker of learning for
readily understand his feelings as RV explores these volatile emotions
questions their meaning: "Who would
think a simple friendly gesture would feel so…so major. But it was.
felt like that before. It’s as if my whole body came alive. That’s a
thing to say, isn’t it? My body’s been alive for fourteen years. But
different. Like everything changed in an instant. Like all my feelings
connected together in some deep way."
sound light-hearted and portend an inviting romp, the story itself is
with many realistic, involving moments from family squabbling, secrets,
decisions to newfound understanding of both his sexual identity and
peers notice things and build threats from differences.
questioning or building their own sexual identity will be quite pleased
many realistic situations RV faces in this story of his evolving new
will find it a believable, involving account that not only covers his
emotions, but many new points of recognition about social situations
place in the world.
Why Can't Life Be Like Pizza? invites teens to imbibe with an intriguing title, then delivers something as tasty and enjoyable as pizza itself. It's highly recommended for teens learning about not just the questions surrounding being gay or straight, but the family and social environments supporting or undermining them.Why Can't Life Be Like Pizza?
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