February 2022 Review Issue
Mystery & Thrillers
Balance of Fortune
Mel Lee Newmin
Out of This World/Devil's Party Press
Balance of Fortune
of Fortune, three worlds stand on the brink of war. The story
opens with a
dispatch (dated 2521) which outlines the destruction of the ship
Festival in a terse memo informing Nick Severin that war may be
Nick is in a special position. He's one of
the few humans who can read Gunera, so is in a position to receive
not normally meant for human eyes. This means that he's the first to
have lost a ship...and the first to understand what this implies for
Mel Lee Newmin creates a vivid story of a
man who is elevated to a position he is actually ill-equipped to
some levels. The descriptions of Nick's emotional entanglements and how
chooses to address them lend psychological depth to the story which is
unexpected in what seems to begin as a tale of military engagements
humans and aliens: "He didn’t know
what to make of his feelings and opted not to try. Like so many other
Nick pushed them down into the box to be reconciled later."
From implants which both give him an edge
and guarantee disaster and discovery to his resistance of the torture
that is the Gunera's specialty as they try to force him to sign a
readers navigate the worlds of aliens and humans that are on the cusp
solely depending upon one man's abilities and choices.
There's a fortune to be made in farming
human slaves. As Nick navigates the dangers of his new position,
receive the full flavor of an alien society which holds different
the future of humanity.
Newmin includes many special words for alien
names and species (eh’Nicodemus, vuh’, gy’Gravinda). These serve to
the odd relationships and characters that revolve around Nick as spies
plots come to life.
The story operates on several levels: as an
action-packed saga of clashing cultures; as the story of one powerful
individual's key role in preventing interplanetary disaster; and as a
compelling tale of alien and human relationships that presents many
surprising twists and turns.
It can take a while to absorb all these
complex details, but the result is a potent story of survival and
games between humans and aliens which will keep even savvy, avid sci-fi
guessing to the end.
Any library collection strong in sci-fi
military works will find Balance of
Fortune a gripping, well-balanced read.
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City of Locked Doors
Keegan and Tristen Kozinski
Crooked House Publishing
ASIN: B075329HZ8 $3.99 ebook
Readers of dark fantasy will find City
of Locked Doors adds horror into
its mix as it surveys a world that exists four hundred years after a
altered man and beast alike.
As mankind fell, so arose in its place the
Tyrants who ruled over the last vestiges of humanity. They are both a
and a blessing, restoring some semblance of order to a world buffeted
The city Umbras, the domain of Lock-And-Key,
represents a model of survival: its residents are locked down at night,
otherwise relatively free to pursue their lives. It's inevitable that
fragile order will crumble, and in City
of Locked Doors the adversity comes from two places: one who
rule the world, and a stranger from outside the city's walls who seeks
for his brother's murder.
These two forces introduce new terror and
into a world already made fragile by its organization and past: "Noir's
fingers closed into a fist, nails biting into his flesh and spilling
blood. Because he must suffer first. He must know fear and
despair; he must
see them give way to hope and conquest only to be torn from his grasp
as a lie.
He must be made to look into the darkness of his fate and realize the
fathomless depths of his error."
The Kozinskis do a fine job of creating a
dark atmosphere and solid sense of place as the story evolves: "He paused on its perimeter, observing
the space before venturing forward. The skyscrapers here all appeared
locks untwisted, the walls and doors bereft of dent or scar. Even the
surroundings lacked their usual displays of life either in refuse,
or cadavers. Yet it was a sham, a gaudy repair attempt that itched at
the wrong-colored patch on a dress. To everyone else, however, it would
as an untouched and uninhabited portion of Umbras."
The realities that lie under the thin veneer
of hope and order, and the disparate challenges faced by all as this
crumbles, makes for a vivid inspection of the social and psychological
that motivate all characters to step outside their comfort zones.
As Lieutenant Noir becomes involved in a war
against Grim, who is labeled a traitor for his actions, the gray line
right and wrong begins to blur.
Readers are treated to a story that delves
into these choices and their consequences as Noir, Adrian, and others
buffeted by forces beyond their understanding (or, ultimately, their
As uncertain friendships and new alliances emerge,
readers are led on a journey that gives thought-provoking insights into
which "...gets stranger the farther
from civilization you get."
The very definition of that civilization is
examined as the story unfolds and the tenuous connections between
come to light. Tension is well developed, twists and turns of plot and
connections keep readers on their toes, and the fine line between
dead is crossed as Noir and Adrian face impossible decisions holding
The result is a dark fantasy that both
entertains and offers much food for thought on psychological, social,
Readers who like their stories steeped in a
different form of post-apocalyptic flavor will find City
of Locked Doors nicely developed in this compelling blend of
horror, fantasy, and survival story.
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979-8709702233 $12.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Book 2 of the Dragon Spawn Chronicles, Dragon Emperor, provides readers of
space opera and fantasy with a sequel that also serves as a stand-alone
for newcomers who like plenty of battle action and adventure.
Its 23 days into year 3791. Jori Mizuki is a
soldier who employs high technology in battles against enemy soldiers.
ten years old. He's learning new skills as he embarks on virtual
routines that train him for real world confrontations.
As he faces blackmail, threats, challenges
to loyalty and trust, and changing family connections, Jori risks his
life by involving them in his growing dilemmas.
The Dragon Emperor is a leader in battles.
His son Jori may prove even greater. But what commitment is stronger:
values or familial duty and loyalty?
Dawn Ross creates a thoroughly engrossing
story based on family interactions, legacies, and intergenerational
that operate on both personal and political levels.
While familiarity with Starfire
Dragons will offer a foundation for readily understanding
the universe in which Jori comes of age, newcomers will find Dragon Emperor thoroughly accessible.
It should be cautioned that Dragon
Emperor, while compelling, is
also complex. There are many characters and settings (explained in a
at the book's end), and the ordeals of the emperor's son and the
surrounding his ability to lead and survive creates a multifaceted,
There will be a follow-up to Dragon
Emperor, as well, as some
conflicts resolve but the ultimate fate of the main character is left
Readers who enjoy space operas that focus on
more than battle engagements, probing the foundations of loyalty,
and coming of age as the son of a conqueror, will find Dragon
Emperor thoroughly involving and hard to put down.
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The first book in the Shadebringer series opens with a military engagement that doesn't portend that this story will move into fantasy realms.
Clyde Robbins is a soldier in the 1960s who
confronts the feeling that his life is meaningless by joining the army,
he discovers that survival in and of itself lends meaning to his
is something that he also fails to achieve.
However, death is not the end of matters. He
awakens in the land of Irgendwo after dying in a firestorm of bullets,
is where the action really begins.
The first thing to note is that The Land of Irgendwo is not your usual formula fantasy adventure. The first-person conundrums of Clyde hold their roots in real-world feelings and events from the start: “If you’re so goddamn smart, why aren’t you going to college?”
“Because I’m poor white
with no way out of here and no hope otherwise, so I figured I’d try my
killing commies rather than my stepfather. Besides, I feel like I owe
county for all my free books.” Of course, I didn’t give a rat’s ass
books, but I didn’t feel like explaining why my life was otherwise
the injection of typical fantasy elements will first find that the
well rooted in real-world scenarios. They may initially find these
confusing and too close for comfort as history and characters navigate
territory that is not spiced with fantasy.
The story captures Clyde's gritty life, choices, dilemmas, and finally
death, then moves into other worlds with a deft attention to detail and
surprises which defy any notion of a formula reading experience.
up-front and in your face. This may stymie some, but is entirely in
with the characters and events, and will delight readers who seek a
refreshing tone of realism: "I
hadn’t even stepped off the bus before a pile of shit fell in my lap.
way to the reception station, some fuckhead from New York decided to
froggy, so I split his upper lip."
isn't the only force that will "tear you down and rebuild you." So
are events entirely beyond Clyde's predictions or control as he enters
in which he faces dark magic, a rabid cult, and the impact of his own
decisions, inadvertently awakening a force that challenges the status
this dark world.
military encounters, and vivid inspections of good, evil, and the
between them permeate a story that also presents solid moral and
inspections: “We have learned nothing.” I
boiled with anger. How could Keats have served such evil? Why the hell
Jens do business with them? What kind of god would allow that place to
exist? I shot a child dead and went to
lunch an hour
later. The reminder snuffed my righteous anger. Perhaps I
deserved to be
there with Bernie."
for a very different kind of war and continues to face various demons,
participates in a chess game that includes beasts, attacks, strange
and friendships, and traitors.
really have free will?
questions mark a fantasy adventure like few others, that will captivate
The Land of Irgendwo
is not recommended for those who look
for clean, circumspect formula fantasy writing, it's a top
readers who like their stories action-packed and unpredictable and
characters gritty and determined. The changing scenarios are
with philosophical and moral reflection that adds an extra dimension to
hard-driving tale of loss, love, and lifetimes of struggle.
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Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays
978-1-7345197-6-1 $15.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
If there's one thing that can be said about
the third book in the Halo trilogy (and the trio as a whole), it's that
story crosses genres in a manner designed to satisfy both sci-fi
those who look for hard-boiled detective investigations.
While this designation may challenge
libraries looking for pat categorizes to shelve books by subject, it
the benefit of reaching a wider audience than a more singular approach
concludes the trilogy, adding extra dimensions of thought-provoking
into the politics and trials of life in 2188, when the AI that directs
controls both Earth and Mars is knocked offline by meteors.
This seemingly random event turns out to be an
insidious portent of trouble as Crucial Larsen becomes involved in
missing scientist and ex-lover who holds the key to returning Halo to
functionality against all odds.
Crucial's first-person observations about
events, and his emotional responses at being drawn back to an
actually dislikes, drive a story which is thoroughly engrossing: "What in the eternal tall-finger is
happening now? I hate this planet, I’ve always hated this planet, and
hate it even more. There is no end to the depth of my hatred. As if the
terminal intrigues and Earth-crushing greed of the rich and bored
enough, now we’ve got an interstellar invader in squiggly paramecium
crapping out clouds of what are most likely weapons."
As history begins to repeat itself to offer
new challenges, readers receive many social, psychological, and
insights that continue to expand the Halo environment and challenge its
players: "Maybe history is a work in
progress and we are always creating and recreating the story of
story that has no chronological boundaries, no past or future. Only
These elements, in conjunction with a
developing mystery that injects a detective's probe into the issues of
trying to survive, create a powerful a sci-fi story that is a fitting
conclusion to the Halo stories that began with The
Gates of Mars.
Prior fans will find the unpredictable
action and interrelated destinies of two worlds, spiced by a "whodunit
why?" story that spins many satisfying twists, make Mars
Adrift a powerful conclusion, worthy of addition to any
library's sci-fi or detective story collection.
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opens, the first-person narrator is ready and waiting on his porch,
hand. For what?
This becomes evident as the story unfolds to
embrace zombies, a world brought to its knees by an apocalyptic event,
road trip through hell during winter.
The search for sanctuary brings three
characters to New York City, where vestiges of horror remain alive (or
Greg Rode cultivates a gritty form of
inspection in this story that is delightfully refreshing in comparison
zombie novels. The protagonist's observations and choices are often
"I struggle some with the idea that
I have contributed to the death of one of the few remaining humans, but
isn’t like there had been any ambiguity about Jack’s character—he was a
conniving, selfish asshole."
As trappings of normalcy emerge from
"...the deep quiet of a world that has been shushed," readers receive
a contemplative dystopian piece that blends action with a wry overlay
and social inspection: "Frozen
zombies are heavy, as in
dead-body-filled-with-another-fifty-pounds-of-iceand-water heavy. At
dead, but now the rules have changed. Again. We’re going to have to
awareness level, and all of us will likely need to patrol on a daily
Like potato chips, you can’t have just one."
Rode provides a delightful story that
operates on several levels, juxtaposing a survival story with one that
ghosts, memories, and struggles to reclaim an ordinary life.
Perhaps at no other time in history would
Rode's words resonate so strongly as in these COVID years: "Over the course of my entire life, I’ve reached
into the past for
comfort during difficult times, and more often than not, I’ve found
in my mind, touching these pieces of my history. Now there is little
be found as the poison of the present takes charge."
Fans of zombie stories, dystopian survival
pieces, and literature astute in psychological inspections will relish One's powerful messages, and how they
are framed by wry irony and social inspections.
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978-1291875683 $15.48 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
The Pod Tower blends the dystopian backdrop of a cold
2057 winter with a story of intrigue as a renegade who lives outside of
technological world comes to realize that a family secret is
Marcus Calvert has rejected many social norms and made decisions that have negatively impacted his family life, but he can't turn his back on either his past or his son Elliot's future. An added motivation for his newfound involvement in both is the threat posed to his carefully construed lifestyle by this family secret.
search for truth that holds frightening ramifications not just for his
or his son's, but for the future of mankind.
paints a compelling portrait of a world not that far ahead of (or
different from) some of the directions modern society is heading in.
this story all the more attractive. Marcus shapes his world with
knowledge of actions made in 2009 by a middle-aged father whose
decision causes consequences that ripple into the future.
outside the Containment Walls and operates in a milieu replete with
despite constant threats to change it in every way imaginable. Pete
captures the look, feel, and focus of this world: "Calvert
had always loved the wind, whether just a soft summer
breeze upon his skin or a full-on epic winter onslaught. To him, it was
the last touches of reality he could relate to in a world which, day by
seemed hell-bent on becoming systematically poisoned and
crippled. The very notion that it was a force too powerful to be
corrupted by the human race was one he was able to draw some
that "society has changed for the worse, rather than the better."
Many of his observations, insights, and experiences will reverberate
modern readers who face their own dismay over social and environmental
and human impacts.
reason why Alexander's The Pod Tower
resonates so strongly. It contains many elements of modern angst and
and while it contains a futuristic dystopian backdrop, these concerns
realistic portrait of a rebel drawn to solve a long-standing mystery to
his own life and those around him makes for particularly engrossing
decades carefully avoiding the one thing he needs to confront. Readers
follow him on his adventure will find both the setting and the
impeccably depicted and thoroughly compelling.
It's hard to craft a detailed work of social inspection within the larger context of a sci-fi adventure. Alexander has achieved both of these goals, and The Pod Tower thus holds the ability to serve as not just an involving dystopian read, but a story that holds discussion material for book clubs interested in community and individual transformation from the seeds of social injustice.The Pod Tower
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979-8741692691 $15.00 Paper/$1.99 Kindle
a tyrant whose temper and violence threatens not just his family, but
kingdom. He operates in direct opposition to the queen's kind ways, and
siblings have developed their own survival tactics designed to preserve
lives and little else.
Prince Ewald to find a way to confront his father and king's rule to
just the kingdom, but his family. How can he defeat a ruler who holds
to inject his attitude throughout his kingdom?
hones a plan, others also plot to bring down the tyrannical king: "The King of Osterik instead looked to
the mountains where he would soon send whole armies; from there, they
charge down the western slopes, and like a new river not to be stopped,
the Kenderleys all the way back to Bayrock, and there, smash the glass
that Jonnecht was building to taunt his foes. He sighed. Ah, dreams."
and battles begin as Ewald learns new tactics, both physical and
challenge his powerful father's rule.
noted that while Prince Ewald the Brave
is connected to a trilogy, it operates as a stand-alone prequel that
no prior familiarity with events to prove accessible and interesting
newcomers who may have chosen it as a singular fantasy adventure.
that, despite a cover that seems designed to appeal to young adults and
readers, the action and deeper messages of this story will reach into
fantasy reader circles.
take to be a nobler, truer king rather than a dictator who appears to
the power? As Ewald tests his boundaries and limitations and considers
choices he has in defeating a monster, the prince's changes and
prove enlighteningly thought-provoking: "If
the truth only needed itself to win, what a place Kensrik would
be," the Prince mused. "Too often it's about who's best at using
result is a
fantasy that will appeal to a wide age range as a determined prince is
to consider what makes a better ruler with an outcome that resonates
values and the kind of world he wishes to influence.
in fantasy collections will find Prince
Ewald the Brave inviting.
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979-8490681397 $14.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
readers who like alternate history stories will find The
Ventriloquist an unusual tale. It creates a different spin on
the events surrounding JFK's murder.
world is connected by the Hive network.
Everything is automated, and nothing is secret. When Lee
murders JFK, the death creates an international incident and war in the
East. Oswald was just the fall guy for an insidious takeover plot
control the world's population.
is when the
Ventriloquist enters the picture with his dual identity as an assassin
comedy act. As iTech influences and presence fall onto his radar of
the "armed and extremely Muslim" Oswald fears for his daughters,
raised under the technological surveillance and prejudice of this
role as a "dumb patsy" is apparently to confront demons, CEOs, and
the growing divide between Muslims and the world.
captures the moment-by-moment reality of JFK's death, but couches it in
futuristic scenario involving the Hive, the Ventriloquist, high
control methods, and issues affecting the Muslim community.
diverse inspection that seamlessly pairs a futuristic setting with the
surrounding JFK's murder and how it is reported to, interpreted, and
investigated by forces hidden to the public.
of fantasy and reality is very nicely done. It introduces compelling
social and political inspection that introduces the Legacy Universe in
that feels both familiar and alien. The chronicle also employs a
overtone, at times, to offer comic relief as impossible circumstances
Gateways, doors, and brick walls that keep even the clever
Ventriloquist on his
alternate history and part investigative drama, The
Ventriloquist is an excellent study based on a
thought-provoking what-if. What if social media existed on the day JFK
shot? How would its pressures, interpretations, and structure have
events that followed JFK's murder?
enjoy strong social inspections that keep them wondering and thinking
that The Ventriloquist does both as
the power of the Legacy permeates this universe and directs the actions
ordinary people and extraordinary quasi-heroes alike.
collections strong in alternate history, social commentary, and
settings will relish the different flavors strongly represented in The Ventriloquist. Those who tire of JFK
rehashes will be especially delighted to discover the story moves into
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Poetry readers who look for works about
relationships, self-inspection, and recovery from trauma will find all
elements of wisdom and more in Convalesce, a collection that both heals and questions.
expect a chronological order to this inspection are advised, from the
poem, that such is not the case. Much like life, its ebbs and flows are
to mirror the contrasting back-to-back experiences the world often
no particular order: "My poetry has no chronological
moments intertwine with the sweet ones/Because like life/You do not
good periods and bad ones."
This choice lends
to both an atmosphere of the unexpected and a progression that moves
loss, struggle, acceptance, and longing in equal measure: "I
about it/And I don’t hate you./I could never hate someone who made me
thought about it/And we no longer click./I can’t stand by someone who makes me feel
The search for
comfort, resolution, and wisdom moves through choices and consequences
resounding gathering of pain and examination that will particularly
readers in the throes of their own relationship struggles and
soul’s engulfed in fire./My heart beats in a frenzy/Wishing to be
from the flames."
Some of these
works are free verse. Others hold rhyme, structure, and a progression
indicates that Enne Zale well knows when to adhere to
poetic form and when to bend (or break) the rules for the sake of
Another rule-breaker: these poems have no
titles. This means that readers enter into each work without the plot
speak) being set in their minds. With no chronological guidelines,
can change form mid-poem, and no clues via titles, one might think
emerge. But, the delight of this collection is that, although it breaks
many conventions, the result is an unbending, high-impact series of
observations that shine more brightly than most.
Poetry readers who enjoy blended forms of
free verse and structured rhyme accompanying works of psychological
and revelation will find Convalesce
an influential package worthy of inclusion not just in poetry
but in psychology and self-help libraries where creative expression is
to resolution, recovery, and healing processes.
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Poetry readers who choose Inhabitant
will find that it represents
a fine blend of poetry and storytelling as it surveys the thoughts and
experiences of the Inhabitant, who has been expelled from Earth for
the planet, and who searches the universe for a new home.
When the narrator opens the story, it's with
the hopes that his new condition is but a dream, in 'The Drop': "...turns out the only thing you can
count on isn’t death or taxes./all my life i’ve taken gravity for
held that attraction between my body and my world,/stuck together
around the sun/day by day..."
As his journey continues, poetry readers
receive a pointed story of travel, home, a changing sense of place, and
of introspection as the narrator's connection to Earth fades and the
widens: "...no one to take the
wheel,/days and days through endless black./moonstops where i float
realizing where i am or where i’m headed./a mint collection of dust
planets i’ve seen./count all the stars,/and again in case i missed
in perpetual motion,/the route will never end,/my proving ground/to
a home when i finally arrive."
exploration proves at once frightening
and enlightening. Readers are drawn by a form of free verse that moves
microcosm of past familiar territory to the macrocosm of the universe,
still affords opportunity for inspecting Earthly connections and
choice. An example lies in 'A Profound
Realization Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Spider Who
My Ship,' in which the narrator saves a stowaway and learns a lesson
thinking about others outside his immediate world.
As hope, home, and repeated failures become
emergent themes, poetry readers will enjoy an inspection that
basics of human life: gravity, atmosphere, and checklists of the
elements that define 'home.'
creative journey will prove thought-provoking for any poetry enthusiast
interested in the sense of place and purpose in the life of a
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The Last Appointment
Munn Avenue Press
978-1-7352108-7-2 $9.99 Paper/$2.99 ebook
The Last Appointment:
Collected Short Stories crosses genres to provide mysteries,
suspense stories, and nonfiction essays that each reveal entertaining,
thought-provoking characters and inspections. These are especially
recommendations for those short of attention or time, who appreciate
contain depth, packed into a short piece.
Many of these works have appeared on Charles
Levin's blog, with "The Last Appointment" being the one new,
unpublished piece that adds something satisfyingly different to the
title piece centers on a writer who discovers that her works have the
predict the future.
Susan Lark thinks that she may be losing her
mind over patient and writer Angela Auger. As soon as Angela enters her
practice, Susan loses her dispassionate therapist persona and becomes
that Angela is posing not just a different problem than schizoaffective
disorder, but that her writings may be creating, rather than
In contrast, "Heaven+" will
especially appeal to those familiar with Roku and streaming devices,
readily relate to the dilemma of a user faced with a new choice that
Supplementing these fictional inquiries into
changing lives is the section of essays which includes "Do-It-Yourself
Gene Hacking – Good, Bad, Ugly, and Scary", which reviews and considers
the question of genetic manipulation that may be accessible by ordinary
"The problem with DIY gene hacking,
like recent advances in artificial intelligence, is that the
abuses are coming much faster than our ability to cope with the changes
threats they present."
Each story and essay offers astute, compelling
scenarios that ultimately question the possibilities and potentials of
and their consequences.
Insights into Levin's thriller writing will
especially delight prior readers with pieces such as "What’s in a
Name?," which considers the author's fascination with name choices and
their underlying impact.
The result is a literary blend of fiction
and nonfiction highly recommended not just for prior fans of Charles
works, but for newcomers, who will find each discussion
easy to digest.
Library collections strong in diverse
literary inspections will find The Last
Appointment: 30 Collected Short Stories a fine selection.
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Marshwinds Press Company
$21.95 Hardback; $12.95 paperback; and $6.99 e-book
this short story collection may portend only three questions, but it
of twelve short works that consider how people face turning points in
change their purpose and trajectories.
features a twist and a learning experience that encourages readers to
on the forces of change that move people into different directions.
piece, 'Beach Walk,' presents an incoming tide of unhappiness that
readers into Anita's world, where her love of the ocean and beach
with her anguish over love, relationships, and change.
intersects the natural world with human affairs, using evocative
descriptions: "In the early years, what they
the BC era, their code for “before children,” they would come down
with a beach towel, make love in a swale in the sand dunes, and look at
stars. They had both professed their love for each other, confident of
blessing if they were fortunate to see a shooting star. As the sun
had stood in the surf and promised anew to love each other as they did
moment. What had changed? Who had stopped this love ritual? She did. He
They both did. You can’t have sex in the sand dunes before dawn with
toddlers alone in the rental house. Other times, crying children and
deprivation dissipated the sunrise magic. She and Dave’s love renewal
had slipped away just like the tide went out. But at least the tide
in twice a day, every day. Scanning the expanse of ocean, she wondered:
love come back in?"
crisis time is tackled during the walk, readers are invited into a
replete with similar tales and changed lives as the tide nudges Anita
moves her into new discoveries and possibilities.
"Can two miles of beach change the
course of life?"
Read this story for the answer.
features very different characters, dialogue, reflections, and twists.
'Cinderella Dress', for example, follows small-town visitors to the big
New York, a far stretch from their small town of Lumber City, Georgia.
drive of over
fourteen hours brings them into another world as Ryan, his fiancée
and Ryan's best friend Jody embark on a journey that leads them to the
custom-made unique Cinderella Dress, designed "...for
the most perfect female body God could create. The dress,
as you can see, is all pleats. This is the challenge. Each pleat must
its part of the body in just the right way, expanding slightly but not
much. Many young women are beautiful in certain spots: their legs,
buttocks, their breasts, their face, one place or another. What they
are not is
beautiful in every place. The dress commands total beauty. That is why
the Cinderella Dress. It will fit no one except God’s perfect creation.” Is Betty Sue that bastion
perfection? Only the perfect woman can wear this dress.
problem. Perfection comes with a price, and it's often that of revised
perceptions of life's possibilities.
a delightful twist. Each contains a moral and a thought-provoking
readers who look for works that excel in employing the short story form
hardest-hitting, best advantage will find each tale a gem that lends to
reflection and insights about pivot points in life that often emerge at
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the Great Elm
Yondering Star Press
$14.95 Paper/$24.99 Hardcover/$6.99 ebook
Great Elm, A Life of Luck & Wonder is recommended for
readers looking for evocative works that capture life and enlightenment
great elm is the narrator's "companion through the prairie
years" of his Western Springs, Illinois childhood. Its sweeping limbs
boyhood refuge and structure introduce a vivid story that moves from
to California in a search for "a better place that would match our
author's reflections on the roots of his childhood returns in a
different form as his story moves away from childhood to a theatrical
Broadway and adult pursuits: "The asphalt world of New York
deadening. In the bleakness of my surroundings, I summoned scenes from
movie Friendly Persuasion and lost myself in a book I'd spotted at an
Village bookstore, Pleasant Valley. Meadows of clover, clear running
lowing cows, and a writer named Louis Bromfield, turning sod and
farm in the Ohio sunshine, sustained me. Whenever I lost my way in
years and forgot what mattered, scenes from Pleasant Valley and its
Malabar Farm, returned me to the land of the "great elm."
all its bucolic roots, Under the Great Elm is like
explosion as the narrator moves his experience from rural to urban
encounters military and spiritual challenges that both stymie him and
eyes to the world, and brings readers along on a ride that moves from
lives to present and future expectations.
sea changes and journey move author and readers through spiritual,
psychological, and physical changes that shake the foundations of
perception alike as the saga moves from America to India and Europe.
sense of wonder, enchantment, and growth that accompany these
journeys provides armchair readers with a "you are there" feel of
emotional transformations that are engrossing and, often, unexpected.
The result is a literary piece that belongs in a
range of collections,
from those that feature autobiographical explorations to others that
spiritual or psychological growth opportunities and the search for a
truly call home.
Return to Index
An Impossible Life
Rachael Siddoway and Sonja Wasden
The Gap Press, LLC
$19.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle/$5.95 Audio
An Impossible Life
is a rare insider's chronicle of mental illness as seen from two
perspectives: a mother and her daughter.
Sonja Wasden, a mother of three, was only
thirty-five when she was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric
her husband and her father. A suburban housewife who appeared to have
Sonja resisted the possibility of mental illness, maintaining that the
that surrounded her life was not of her making.
Daughter Rachael Siddoway's work in making her mother's experiences and story public is to be celebrated, as is her choice in capturing her mother's life in a manner that stays true to her mother's perspective. As Rachael puts it in her introduction: "I may have put in the hours to write this story, but she put in the years and lived it. This story was written in first-person narrative as Sonja. Writing this book with my mother is my love letter to her."And, what a tribute it is!
The story's first-person perspective captures the extent of Sonja Wasden's emotions as she falls deeper into the trap of mental illness: “Well, I do have a somewhat religious question,” I admitted.
She nodded and smiled, encouraging me to continue.
“I go to church every week, read my Scriptures, and pray, yet I
feel all the punishment of a sinner.”
“What do you mean by punishment?”
“You know in the Bible where it talks about the weeping, gnashing
of teeth, and being cast out into outer darkness?”
“That’s how I feel
feel like I’m in outer darkness.”
Sonja's ties to her life, her family, and
her world are shaken and examined, and readers receive insights into
feels to descend into a mentally challenging place with only one
reason to stay the course: "I could
disappear from the earth, but since my children needed me, I remained."
As life goes on and trials and tribulations
affect her trajectory, the manner in which Sonja finds the courage to
and the impact of her choices on her family, are brought to life: "I started burying my grief deep, deep
in the abyss of my soul, never to be found. I wrapped my arms tightly
myself and closed my eyes as God gave me strength. I felt pieces of my
coming apart; for now, I would use these broken fragments to provide me
just enough strength to save my family, not knowing if I would ever be
Plenty of books about mental illness are on
the market today. Some are written by family members; some by those who
emerged from the other side to reflect on their experiences; and some
therapists who document events from their side of the couch.
hold the dual ability to illustrate both
a mother's anguish and struggles and the intersection of faith and
which offers a way out for mother and daughter. More
so than most books about mental illness, An
Impossible Life: The Inspiring True story of a Woman's Struggle from
Within succeeds in capturing the many facets of life that
influence a spiraling descent and recovery process alike.
powerful, vivid inspections of an evolving and devolving world, An Impossible Life should be at the top
of any reading list. Mental illness needs to be better understood on a
level. This story provides a key to understanding, enlightenment, and
Return to Index
The Gap Press
$19.99 Paper/$5.95 Audio/$3.99 Kindle
An Impossible Wife: Why He Stayed: A True
Story of Love, Marriage, and Mental Illness is the second book in Rachael Siddoway's
'Impossible' series about mental illness. It comes from daughter
examination of her mother's mental illness and its impact on the
presenting a close inspection of a marriage challenged.
courage in sharing their individual and family insights and experiences
be commended. An Impossible Wife
where few books on mental illness dare investigate, closely inspecting
impact of illness on a marriage and the factors which influence the
relationship's preservation against all odds.
in the prior
book, An Impossible Life, which
presented her mother's first-person view of her world, An
Impossible Wife is again a loving tribute crafted by a
who captures these events in a manner few other mental illness books
Her attention to an honest portrayal of events and their foundations in
outlined from the beginning: "My
parents’ love story is not the kind I grew up watching in Disney
love is a complicated love, and at times an impossible one. Yet I think
story is worth sharing, despite its absence of simplicity. It’s through
struggle that heroes are realized, and it’s through even greater sorrow
two young people can age into one. And that’s exactly what happened to
parents. This is their love story."
so it is.
holds the rare ability to walk in another's shoes...in this case, a
father who juggled his family responsibilities and his wife's mental
narrated in the third person as it observes husband Mitch's quandaries
did self-harm become a part of our life?
Mitch thought. Had he been too dismissive of her symptoms?
Could he have
prevented this if he had forced her to get individual therapy? He had
share of fights with Sonja, but he never forced her to do anything. Was
the problem here? Was he relying too heavily on her to make choices
help her get better? He wondered if he was going crazy along with
was getting sicker and sicker, and he was becoming more accustomed to
it was normal."
most stories about mental illness, An
Impossible Wife holds the special ability to delve under the
skins of the
entire family as they observe, react to, and are buffeted by a mother's
illness in different ways.
of all, the
focus on husband Mitch's various coping methods at different stages of
wife's illness makes for gripping, personal review of the special
that mental illness brings to a life partner: "Often,
the mentally ill and their loved ones feel helpless and
hopeless. But Mitch knew he needed hope to get through this, so he
the best and prepared himself for the worst. He took Sonja’s name off
house, the cars, his bank account, all his credit cards, and anything
would provide her a way to access money. During the week that she was
hospital, he bought a safe where he would lock all checks, credit
his wallet. Mitch wondered if Sonja would get off that runaway train,
she did, what stop they would end up at next."
a story of
mental illness, An Impossible Wife is
hard-hitting. However, as a love story, it is especially astute in its
examination of how love is tested but remains alive against all odds.
Any family who
has ever struggled with mental illness and any reader who would better
understand how spouses cope—and remain committed and in love—needs this
of inspiration and survival, which should be a top priority for library
collections interested in accounts of mental illness and recovery.
Return to Index
Rupture: A Memoir of Healing
K. Jane Lee
Catastrophic Rupture: A
of Healing is recommended for educators, healthcare
professionals, and parents who will appreciate these rare insights from
physician and parent whose daughter was brain injured at birth.
As a doctor, the author witnessed many
families struggling with a child's disease or injury. She saw families
apart by these circumstances. Little did she know that her observations
one day prepare her for her own struggle with her child's disability
impact on their family's relationships.
Key to appreciating this memoir's special
approach is the candid assessments Dr. Lee shares from the start as she
young patients and interacts with their parents: "My
years of training were full of patients and parents like this,
children whose severe neurologic disabilities allowed them only the
interaction with the world, parents so devoted that they would do
keep them going. The questions nagged me: Do those
understand what is going on with their child, that there is no hope for
improvement? Do they really believe that their child is capable of the
and emotions that they attribute to them, or is that just a way to cope
spending day after day caring for a child who can’t respond? Why do
subjecting their child to medical treatments that only serve to prolong
As her questions become personal inquiries
in an unexpected development, readers receive a moving story of how she
overcame her fears of such trails to start her own family, only to find
living the nightmare she had clinically observed in so many other
came to her hospital in desperation and fear.
Lee's unique dual status affords inspections
that could not have come from a physician or a parent alone: "When I looked at the children with
neurodevelopmental disabilities, I saw only the disabilities. Sure, I
them in a kind and competent manner, but I didn’t really connect with
When I looked at the parents, it was not with empathy, but with a vague
curiosity—as if they were from a foreign culture. As if their lives had
been this way; as if this were normal to them. I never thought about
how it was
for them at the beginning, when they had dreams of a typical healthy
felt the anguish of losing that. While I recognized and
supported the rights of families to make decisions for their children,
understand some of those decisions."
Her distinctive position creates an
analytical and emotional blend rarely imparted in memoirs of disability
parental challenge. All these elements make Catastrophic
Rupture a standout in memoirs of a child's disability, and
choice for parenting, healthcare, and psychology library collections
Return to Index
“Mickey Mouse Factory”: My Years In The Clandestine Service Of The
Thomas E. Sawyer, Ph.D., J.D.
Living History Publishing House
Inside The “Mickey Mouse Factory” comes from a veteran of twenty-seven years
of U.S. government service in various agencies such as the CIA, and
insider's life with a memoir that reveals his experiences serving as a
readers might anticipate a critical viewpoint; but Sawyer explains its
from the start: "That reference,
instead, concerns a depiction commonly used by CIA operations officers,
least during the 1950’s, about the sometimes chaotic operational
they encountered and also to what initially appeared to be outlandish
operational proposals that became outstanding operational successes."
What unfolds is a candid look back at
processes, decisions, encounters, and the specifics of intelligence
are not revealed to anyone outside the organization...even close family
Readers should thus view Inside
The “Mickey Mouse Factory”
much more than a memoir, as Sawyer moves behind the scenes of daily
the CIA to expose its thought processes and operations.
This approach represents the story's
greatest strength. It offers readers the opportunity to go beyond
reports to understand the motivations, influences, and daily challenges
intelligence community operations and interactions.
Sawyer injects his own experiences into that
process: "On later reflection, I was
really disturbed by this operational effort. The “chewing out” aside, I
trouble comprehending why a division chief, a high ranking official,
personally, would be carrying out this operation; a “cold approach,” at
From training courses designed to reflect
operational realities to various incidents that presented special
and political challenges as operations were carried out in other
Sawyer's ability to reveal the nuts and bolts of intelligence goals and
conundrums alike creates a fast-paced book packed with information the
public usually isn't privy to.
As Sawyer encounters those who change his
perspective on life as well as his concept of his duties and their
juxtaposition of memoir, exposé, and intelligence history come life.
who want to know more about what
it's like to work in intelligence; the moral, ethical, and political
which challenge this community; and the ongoing dangers and threats
from professional to personal lives because of it will find Inside
The “Mickey Mouse Factory”
absolutely riveting reading.
place in a wide variety of collections; from general-interest libraries
those that hold strengths in history, political issues, international
relations, and military subjects.
Return to Index
Legacy Book Press LLC
978-1-7375926-1-7 $14.99 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
readers will find The
Invisible Girl a
exploitation, childhood trauma, and recovery, which occurs only after
patterns of response to childhood abuse are repeated in adulthood.
Sandomir's escape from a confusing, disordered environment at age
seem to portend a success story of survival; but in fact it was only
starting point for adult choices which mirrored the powerful repressive
of codependency and mental abuse.
describes a family in chaos, a mother who bounces from relationship to
relationship, and the ongoing promise of a new life that is betrayed
over, readers will come to understand the elusive lure of a stability
never seemed to happen in either the family's choices or, after Yvonne
home, in her life. Yvonne's adult decisions continue to be affected
even as she
struggles for an elusive, different result: "My
entire life consisted of controlling men and their demands on me, and I
home, grasping a dubious job offer that no fifteen-year-old should have
received, her own mother supports her flight. It's only after years of
and wisdom that Sandomir comes to a better understanding of her mother:
"She went back to her life feeling like a
successful mother because her fifteen-year-old daughter could survive
own. In retrospect, she wasn’t any different than she was when I was a
child. I didn’t have a curfew, nor was I watched over. The harsh
that my mom was a terrible mother. She didn’t protect me from
take care of my basic needs, but at the time, I didn’t see that. A new
adventure was right in front of me to steal my focus away."
comes from a home fraught with childhood abuse or neglect, a parent's
and ineffective parenting style, and mixed messages of love,
repression will readily recognize the course of Sandomir's life through
importantly, she outlines a path forward and shows how she overcame all
influences to make better choices...but only after adult experiences
repeated disasters that mirrored her childhood chaos.
for memoirs that outline recovery processes and relationship
stem from damaging family experiences will relish a story that nails
psychology of family legacy and the process breaking the patterns of
ability to pinpoint and document the moments and influences in her
that led to dubious choices and patterns in adulthood make The Invisible Girl highly recommended not
just for memoir
collections, but any library holding or individual reading list about
abuse, recovery process, self-help, and identifying destructive
self-sabotage, distorted thinking, and repetition compulsion.
Return to Index
Drive-Ins and Uncle Sam
Want to take a
trip back in time? The memoir format offers no better way to revisit
eras, and Sit-Ins, Drive-Ins and Uncle Sam: Coming of Age in
the Era of
Civil Rights and the Vietnam Draft captures youthful
impressions of the
1960s through the hindsight of experience.
memoirs, even though this is memory-based, Bill Slawter doesn't intend Sit-Ins,
Drive-Ins and Uncle Sam to be just about his personal
growth. He writes
with an eye towards capturing the flavors and feel of a bygone era. In
regard, Slawter does a fine job of producing a captivating blend of
memories and changing race relations as the U.S. saw a sea change in
people and the world.
Black and white
photos from museums and other collections provide visual embellishment
throughout as Slawter brings these times to life.
His insights are
specific and reflective of his generation: "I never gave much
to what folks in my neighborhood had in relation to folks living in
of town. I seldom went anywhere in Greensboro outside of Glenwood,
except to go
downtown from time to time, either by city bus or in our family car.
bus rides nor trips by car passed through other residential areas so as
any light on how other folks lived. Glenwood was my world."
As he moves from childhood into college frat years, political assessments and growing awareness of other nations, and social interactions, dialogue between characters is introduced to capture the sentiments of these times and the people who lived them: "I rolled to a stop on the side of the highway. Overhead, a bright light moved slowly through the distant clouds.
'I bet that’s a Russian satellite,' Ahab said.
'Bullshit,' said Randy. 'That’s a meteor.'
'I’m not sure what it is but it’s going from
west to east,' Carl said. 'So, I don’t think it’s
a missile headed this way from Cuba.'”
pulls readers into the feel of a time travel piece, versus a singular
the 1960s come alive.
who wish to know 'what it was like' should turn to Sit-Ins,
Uncle Sam. More so than most other books on the subject, it
observations blended with social and political examinations to consider
issues with a compelling, immediate flavor.
One could ask
nothing more of a time travel journey into the past, making Sit-Ins,
Drive-Ins and Uncle Sam a strong recommendation for any
reader or library
collection looking for an evocative "you are there" journey into
Return to Index
Tailspin is a World War
II memoir that focuses on the experiences of a German POW who survives
ordeal and returns home still in the tailspin which began with his
most stories of wartime capture and recovery which focus on
military and war traumas, tail gunner Gene Moran returned home to face
challenges between his memories, war atrocities, and life in a changed
encounter with author and neighbor John Armbruster gave life to his
story as three years of interviews led to the stories in this book,
functions as both a biography and a World War II exposé.
important to note (as the author does in his preface) that this
isn't the complete story of Eugene Paul Moran. Such an all-inclusive
would have likely taken more than twice the pages and turned a gripping
of survival into a weighty tome that might have challenged many of its
a collection of highlights and sights, sounds, and ordeals of a
bomber pilot who went missing mid-war after surviving a four-mile
tailspin in his plane, was captured, and survived, only to return home
eighty-year-old Gene Moran was able to recall so many details of
explicit, exquisite description makes for an even more powerful
that Armbruster made all the more notable by doing the legwork and
support the events. He reviewed combat records, letters, recorded
phone interviews with relatives of the characters, and all available
concerning Moran's service in the 96th Bomb Group and his time as a
facts or dialogue were missing, Armbruster filled in the gaps to
create a seamless read, using vetted information and a small degree of
conjecture at the few points where mystery remained.
choose this saga for its World War II history may initially be
the story is a memoir of the extent of Moran's life; not just his
engagements. Those who pursue this story for its biographical elements
be disappointed, but may also be surprised; for it's a concurrent story
Gene's wartime experiences and Armbruster's struggles with his wife's
diagnosis and her progressive decline.
anything but singular. The story of how these two men's lives dovetail
unexpected ways makes for a powerful story that should be on the
shelves of not
just World War II collections, but men's relationship literature and
library collection where stories of friendship and connection are
Return to Index
Jamie Andrea Garzot
Girl Friday Books
978-1-954854-29-1 $24.95 Hardcover/$7.99 ebook
Unconventional: A Memoir of Entrepreneurism,
Politics, and Pot comes
from an early pioneer in cannabis retailing in California. It shares
concurrent stories of the legalization of cannabis and Jamie Andrea
business adaptations as the legal environment changed and evolved.
eleven years experience as a state-licensed cannabis retailer, an
city official, and an industry advocate.
position as an appointed city official, businesswoman, and personal
legal cannabis contributes to an insider's history that reviews and
personalizes the issues involved in the legalization and sale of
being a leader and advocate even though being a relative newcomer to
industry, Garzot evolved into her role much as the cannabis industry
being an illegal operation to a legal business. Business readers will
appreciate the gritty observations she makes about the process of
regulations for a neophyte industry that promotes business while
consumers and professionals alike.
she navigates the concurrent jobs of being an industry advocate and a
owner: "Making it a priority to be
part of the process in Sacramento, I started to put systems and
place in my store that would allow it to run semi-autonomously, like a
well-oiled machine, regardless of whether I was across the street in my
or across the globe."
and political science readers will relish her accounts of how this
became an insider, privy to regulations and details of how the medical,
political, and business communities interacted over marijuana's growth,
distribution, and use: "Prior to the
passage of Proposition 64, California law required that anyone wishing
medical cannabis obtain an annual recommendation issued by a
medical doctor. The terms “prescription” or “script” were commonly used
interchangeably with “recommendation,” but technically, due to the
status of cannabis, a doctor could not prescribe a Schedule I
substance, but they could “recommend” its use in the same way that
recommend vitamins or an emotional-support animal."
enlightening are personal trials and experiences that contributed to
her ability to become an effective businesswoman in the retail cannabis
environment. From childhood influences to how she grew her business as
female operator to see $12M in annual revenue without investor money,
juxtaposition of personal, social, and business insights and
astute and revealing, and will appeal to a wide audience.
experiences are California-specific (and thus will prove of particular
to California collections and readers), they hold lessons and insights
rest of the nation considers their own cannabis regulation processes.
Unconventional: A Memoir of Entrepreneurism,
Politics, and Pot is
recommended not just for California collections (though it will be of
particular interest and importance to these), but to anyone who would
business and social issues examination that peppers personal
political, legal, and social analysis.
presentation and consideration of a myriad of interests and issues does
job of exploring all sides of the pot issue and its adaptation into
society, cemented by one plucky female entrepreneur's vision and drive
achieve business success in a blossoming, changing, often controversial
Return to Index
John Chase MD
978-1949550450 Paperback: $19.95; Kindle: $7.95
"You What?!": Humorous Stories,
Cautionary Tales, and Unexpected Insights About A Career in Medicine is not your usual surgeon's story of medical
experiences, but a light-hearted look at the profession that's narrated
anecdotes, recollections, and nostalgic stories from Dr. Chase's career.
It captures the nuances, experiences, and training of a doctor involved in orthopaedic surgery, capturing the moments that represent highlights and eye-opening experiences of over 40 years.
rare to find irony and humor in such depictions. Most books written by
physicians and surgeons are staid presentations devoid of any semblance
which often translates to dry reading. In contrast, "You
What?!" adds an entertaining, delightful flavor into
its mix of medical conundrums and educational insights.
surgeons and doctors will be the first audience for this book. They
a variety of experiences that illustrate the daily routines,
processes of becoming a good doctor. Dr. Chase offers plenty of advice
doctors, as well: "The secret is to
“Get a guy.” (Good advice for life, as well.) Find somebody you can go
understands young people don’t know everything. Go to a quiet place,
everybody else, where you can ask questions. Find someone who will give
good advice and won’t blab to everybody."
cautionary advice on how to avoid common mistakes: "Want
to avoid those “YOU WHAT?” Moments? Developing your ‘people
skills’ will go a long way toward a lasting, rewarding and fulfilling
how to listen, use humor appropriately, and handle the unexpected
after surgery to understanding the stated and unstated facts of
and HIPPA and the pros and cons of choosing to be a physician, Dr.
no punches in outlining the realities of a doctor's life.
humor. But all is not chuckles and jokes. Underlying the comic relief
is a very
serious approach to the nuts and bolts of being a physician that
specific details about the medical community that med students often
fully realize until they've been immersed in the culture for years.
why "You What?!" should be on the
reading lists and in the graduation gift bag of any aspiring doctor.
than most books written by physicians, it outlines routines,
methods, and underlying politics and medical processes that would-be
need to know in order to make the best decisions about their careers,
patients, and their lives.
library should be without it.
Return to Index
Bob Van Laerhoven
$14.92 Hardcover/$11.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
right time to confront corruption, and what happens when that
from political systems to influence individual choice?
Alejandro Juron has just been released from prison after his country's
dictatorship begins to loosen its grip. To members of the resistance,
signals hope that he will return to them to contribute to another
in Alejandro's Lie, the spark of
revolution has changed.
betrayal of his fellow musician and friend, combined with years behind
reflect on his treachery, has altered his heart. The outside world he
into has also changed. As
he faces this
new world with music in hand and his heart newly protected from the
inflaming revolution, Alejandro grapples both with the new political
outside and his own aching soul within.
betrayal that led to his fellow musician Victor being tortured to
Unmoved by his observation of youth who are determined to "open the
to democracy" through a defiance that cost him both his friendship and
soul, Alejandro is no longer inspired to protest, create inspirational
that fans the flames of revolution, or even pursue his secret love.
social, and personal forces break through his ennui with new
even Alejandro can't deny, the story enters the territory of a
will delight audiences who appreciate both literary and suspense
elements in their
moves back into a connected world of passion on many levels, Bob Van
captures new opportunities, observations, and choices that drive not
Alejandro, but those he loves and hates: “You’re
standing there in the corner with Pelaron, singing and poking the
said as he jumped over the ropes of the ring and hopped nimbly on the
canvas. “I’m storming wildly towards you because I love Pelaron, and we
fighting. Shall we try that for a moment?”
will anticipate the high-octane action that permeates this story, but
not expect the powerful undercurrents of guilt, love, treachery and
that influence many of Alejandro's decisions. This blend of
moral inspection and politically charged action explores the Latin
milieu and culture in a manner that will keep readers thoroughly
to absorb the look, feel, and challenges of living under, defying, or
down to a military dictatorship will find Alejandro's
Lie a powerful reflection on the forces that oversee average
thriller components evolve into a heart-touching history to draw
connections between individuals and social conditions.
readers will be its main audience, Alejandro's
Lie is highly recommended as a mainstay of any literary
strong in Latin American political, cultural, and social affairs.
Return to Index
979-8762928830 $8.99 paper/$.99 Kindle
Back Time combines a thriller with science fiction to
produce a time travel study in danger. Temporal physicist and
Waylan is only interested in science. His time-travel lab, however,
those who would use time travel to direct outcomes and change the past
on his lab sets him adrift backwards through time, Peter learns more
futuristic strike force and its intentions. He comes to realize that he
the only one able to thwart their influence, even though his own
position as a
time traveler feels uncontrolled and tenuous, at best.
he traces the
origins of these killers of the future to past history and embarks on
campaign to protect the timeline, a series of suspenseful cat-and-mouse
encounters emerges which will delight sci-fi and thriller readers
action-packed encounters and unpredictable twists and turns.
compelling, unusual language to capture Peter's perspective and
emotions: "Something isn’t right about this
Something fundamental doesn’t make sense. It’s a strange thing to think
last second or two of life.
More like a second and a half. That’s his estimate. Shouldn’t his last thought be something more profound? Shouldn’t his life flash before his eyes? Shouldn’t he question his big life choices? Shouldn’t he feel something? Some final, desperate emotion? No. Peter Waylan focuses on the science."
power the nexus of a story that details pitfalls and dangers in nearly
choice Peter makes: "Before he pulls
out, he steels himself for what’s required: a complicated balance
between not only
the backward physics, but the event horizon. He might cause certain
conditions to manifest in the future if he follows through with them in
humor and wry observation into these encounters to provide a subtle
comic relief: "They ignore Waylan,
for now. Except in one forward interval, when they call him “Spook” as
talk among themselves. It’s not a bad nickname. He’s little more than a
specter moving through this reality, casting a deathly shadow in his
unleashing a new Nazi reign on the future that will swallow these men
everyone else in its maw. They must have seen him twitch when he jumped
travel encounters focus on either returning to one's timeline or
positive changes to it. Scientist Peter initially seems ill-equipped to
an enemy of time, but as he steps into his role and the past, his
direction prove not just the ticket to save the world, but likely its
result is a
science story strongly rooted in thriller components that will delight
seeking something different from their time travel stories.
recommended reading for any sci-fi collection where time travel
of interest, but should also be attractive for thriller novel fans that
science and social and political dilemmas alike.
Return to Index
Timber Ghost Press
978-1-7365867-4-7 $4.99 ebook
town of Blackrock, Pennsylvania has seen its share of problems; but
Song's brother Hye goes missing, an investigator discovers a cover-up
that involves far more than a single missing person.
that her brother's disappearance is more than just a slide back into
so she hires P.I. Ben Sawyer to help her get to the truth.
uncover is so unexpected that it defies all notions of truth, reality,
politics and processes surrounding the town's key industry, the mining
it should be mentioned that The Beyond
is a paranormal crime thriller that goes beyond any anticipated story
political or business greed or shady operations. Horror and thriller
will relish the components of adversity and unexpected revelations that
Moon and Ben's tracks as they not only reveal the truth, but struggle
to do about it.
investigation leads to learning about mine deaths and an entity that
underground, they come to realize that the only way they can survive is
thwart an impossible threat that is more powerful than any mankind has
a fine job of creating tension, injecting unexpected twists and turns,
a story that at first seems predictable, but soon excels in
seems to care about missing people in Blackrock. But they're about to
care in a
big way, because the secrets that lie in the mine present risks that
town has a vested interest in thwarting.
describing small town interactions and relationships, the coal mining
or the efforts of a grieving sister to uncover the truth about her
Brosky does a wonderful job of detailing action and emotion in a
of second chances gone awry.
thriller, horror, and supernatural mystery will find The
Beyond an exciting, involving story that keeps them guessing
the end, thoroughly immersed in the dilemmas faced by Moon, Ben, and
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The Dancing Plague
ASIN: B0977TB5QW $4.99
fifth book in the World's Scariest
Legends series, The
opens with narrator Ben Graves, who was twelve years old in 1988 when
Dancing Plague came to his town to change life forever.
acknowledges that some would deem the story that follows a form of
the narrator contends that his memories are factual. As the horror
unfolds, readers receive a tale where the plague is not the end
only the beginning of a strange new threat that young Ben and his
navigate if they are to reach adulthood.
visits the small Cape Cod town is found violently murdered, closely
the plague that quickly takes over. Are the two events connected?
manner of a good Stephen King story, this tale moves from childhood
trappings of horror that involve the entire town, from young adults to
in a series of threats. These include a gypsy woman, curses, violence,
surreal encounters from over thirty years ago that still hold impact
moves from childhood to the present and back again, the narrator
reflects on the
events that changed all their lives with outbreaks of Dancing Plague
out throughout the world, over the course of human history.
hypnotic power have something to do with the compulsion to dance until
dancer drops dead? What would be the motivation for imparting such a
and revelations are investigated, readers receive an engrossing
horror tale that builds its tension from the changing viewpoint and
memory of a
young and adult narrator, who traces the plague's history and
truth about its appearances. As much as the narrator determines to
revenge based on this new knowledge, he also realizes that it's more
likely his ambition will be thwarted.
enjoy the tension that moves from childhood to adult years, and the
that follows the human race as the characters face impossible
that test their mettle and beliefs.
crafts a story that incorporates many twists and turns to keep readers
Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and other masters of supernatural suspense
relish The Dancing Plague's ability
to move through time, relationships, and intrigue to question the roots
hysteria and paranormal experiences.
Return to Index
979-8-9850-9560-9 $4.99 ebook
readers who look for more than a light dose of humor that permeates
conundrums will relish the tone and style of Dead Cereus, which packs a punch
with puns, perplexing
situations, and plants.
night-blooming cereus plant will blossom at a gala planned to celebrate
opening, but audiences attracted to the spectacle include a clever
challenges Holly's life. Her scholarship at Shellesby College is on the
but blows to her reputation and life goals set her adrift as her plot
Professor Ogletree's intern goes awry.
with William Smith, a sexy master gardener who takes care of all the
plants and woos her with meals, plants, and passion, but the elusive
keeps them guessing as the threats mount.
amazing food, and deadly struggles ensue, readers will find Kira
of humor spices events to create a spunky, determined, beautiful,
character whose close encounters are vividly depicted.
result is a
story that excels in the unexpected, from the twists and turns Holly
pursuit of her different goals to the plant- and food-driven plot which
embraces gardening and romance alike.
passion, plants, and love stories are in for a treat with a cozy
is both hilarious and heartwarming. Dead Cereus is also highly recommended for any library interested in a
cozy story that
operates beyond the usual small-town depictions.
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Dying to Live
Imagine awakening to learn you're a baby after
almost a century of life. Imagine starting all over...this time, with a
timeline to beat for the survival of humanity. Imagine becoming the
scientist in history, tasked with using the skills of her past life to
the human race in the future.
Readers who enjoy stories about
reincarnation will find Dying to Live
the powerful saga of a 92-year-old doctor, Nobel Laureate winner Dr.
Windom, who awakens, paralyzed, in a hospital. She hasn't had a stroke.
died and been reborn with her skills and memories intact, albeit in an
body. And she faces another lifetime to tap these skills to find a cure
will change the world.
The story opens with Esther's awakening and
slow realization that she's no longer in the assisted living facility,
in quite a different situation.
Many reincarnation stories cover the special
challenges of restarting life. Barbara Reyelts adds an extra dimension
intrigue and medical thriller components to highlight the story of Esme
Montgomery's quest to save the world.
Further elements of intrigue appear, from
the FBI's involvement in a case involving missing children to
viral outbreak in Africa and its connections to political power
The addition of these pressures and
influences heightens the tension in a satisfying manner, making Dying to Live a special attraction for
medical thriller readers, who receive quite a different premise and
than the normal reincarnation story.
Charged with research to cure and change the
abilities of humanity and a wedding which introduces conflict between
personal and professional priorities, Esme's story is firmly rooted in
lives, military and political special interests, and medical
conundrums. All this
challenge her to think outside the box of both her present-day and past
Dying to Live
is satisfyingly different from the usual reincarnation or medical
saga, incorporating elements of both in a manner that keeps the story
engrossing, and vivid, on many different levels.
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The Hunt for the Peggy C combines World War II history with a
nautical thriller as it follows Captain Jake Rogers, a smuggler used to
transporting contraband who is tasked with the most challenging job of
save a Jewish family fleeing Nazi persecution.
began as a
business arrangement with slightly unusual cargo turns into a
that challenges Jake's skills, perspective, and heart as he finds
intrinsically woven into the fabric of this Jewish family's life.
the old cargo
ship Peggy C up
to such a task? More importantly, can Jake summon enough courage and
to keep his newfound charges safe from both human and natural threats
John Winn Miller
keeps his eye on the history surrounding this era, but translates it
action-packed scenarios that will delight readers looking for a
nonfiction spiced by the intrigue and psychological depth of fiction: "For
two years since the war started in 1939, the Peggy C and her ragtag
dodged the mines and torpedoes and random naval duels from Africa to
Sea, managing to eke out a living while the competition dwindled.
protection of a convoy, fewer and fewer commercial ships dared ply
waters. Though Germany’s focus had shifted to the Russian and
fronts, too many trigger-happy U-boat captains still lurked about in
trophies from sunken tonnage. The situation was truly dire and
Rogers loved every minute of it."
chases, romance, and special interests coalesce, the story becomes
many different levels. The interplays between disparate special
characters illustrate some of the conundrums of political and social
interactions during wartime:
"'There’s a U-boat out there that wants its boarding party back,' Rogers said.
'You will turn them over to the British authorities when we dock.' (rescued RAF pilot Lt. Gaylord)
'And the refugees?' Rogers was getting agitated.
'The Jews will have to go back where they came from,' Gaylord said with a haughty assurance that irritated Rogers even more.
'One of those Jews saved your life. You’d send her and her family back to die?'
'Rubbish,' Gaylord said. 'Truth be told, the
Nazis are more civilized than you damn Yanks.'"
missing crews to losing battles and unexpected love, Miller spices his
intrigue, close encounters, escapes and confrontations, and historical
most World War II tales, the intrigue and realistic backdrops create a
compelling story that operates for all readers, no matter the degree of
familiarity with World War II politics or events.
The Hunt for the Peggy C is a vivid inspection of moral, ethical,
social and political changes set against a thrilling backdrop of
and revelation that will reach not only historical novel readers, but
typically attracted to thriller and action stories.
collections on the lookout for vivid World War II accounts and lively
will find The Hunt for the Peggy C
Return to Index
Gordian Knot Books
978-1-63789-875-8 $22.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
is the first book in the Kansas Murder Trilogy, and opens the can of
a group of young men who, in 1975, decide to make their money
hemp on the Kansas plains.
The blend of 'wild West' feel to the story (which
bodes the clash of rival gangs) and the mystery which evolves when
its head makes for a vivid account that will appeal on different levels
readers with a saga that revolves around cat-and-mouse games and hemp.
During the struggle to be on top, some
characters contemplate making a devil's bargain. Others embark on a
that embraces not only controversy and mystery, but the possibility of
changed relationship brought about by a haunting the entire family
which looms more and more as the controversies in Lee and Diana's
From songwriting to staking claims in
different ways, King Harvest
juxtaposes a number of themes, escapades, and encounters as the murder
investigation and marijuana harvest evolve.
One especially notable feature to this
multifaceted story is its shift through different motivations, lives,
reflections about life. These are delivered through straightforward,
"What does a man want in his final breath? One more chance at having
again? CC held up his empty hands and chuckled at the thought of all
and pussy they’d grasped. He lit a fresh cigar and poured a glass of
sipping slow, by now relaxed, at ease. Yessir, and meaning, he
The added dimension of candid
self-inspection and the clash of individual and group motivations and
make for a spirited romp through the West, psychological changes and
challenges, and groups that hold disparate insights and perspectives on
contemplative and successful lives.
Readers interested in a Western-style
atmosphere of confrontation and change that blends nicely with a
find King Harvest packed with
intrigue and interest.
Library collections strong in mystery and
social issues will find that this multifaceted story of faith, love,
offers a something for everyone.
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of Wolfe Trap and investigator Clay
(who was introduced in that mystery) will relish his reappearance in Mouse Trap, another Port Essex story
that revolves around Wolfe's probe into a missing mouse.
any rodent. It's a resident of a genetics lab that has been subject to
well-meaning genome editing experiment gone awry. And the mouse's fate
determine the fate of humanity, if what it harbors also gets loose.
latest mystery thus moves from a whodunit to a thriller as Clay's new
holds implications for life far beyond Port Essex, Maine. As opposed to
Mystery series, the Clay Wolfe/Port Essex series is a
following up Wolfe Trap about heroin being smuggled
traps and Mind Trap, where society is threatened by
a cult run amok.
intentions, and an evil plot to unleash havoc all revolve around the
fate and Clay's ability to pursue the truth about its importance. Is
genome editing being done on more than just mice?
search for a way to create an above-average baby to the intersection of
business, science, and Clay's conflicts with a new police chief who
appreciate the fact that a P.I. has set up shop in his own
under his nose, Cost creates a riveting story filled with subplots and
small-town characters who all have their own special interests.
may not be involved in stealing or buying scientific discoveries
superior mice. Clay comes to the realization that, like it or not, he’s
be a father with a woman he doesn’t love. Cost creates a fast-paced,
story that moves through characters' lives and bigger-picture thinking
Grandpops, and a group of his supporters edge closer to the dangerous
about the missing mouse, giving readers many satisfying twists and
keep them on edge and guessing.
Mouse Trap is a vivid story that mystery and thriller
genre readers alike will find involving on many different levels.
catering to these audiences will find that Cost has crafted another
stranger than fiction, in this story especially. (Wait. It is fiction. Isn't it?)
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thriller readers who like their settings contemporary and realistic
will find Pandemic: Chaos is Bleeding
modern times and horror scenarios alike.
Crewes hasn't left home since the pandemic began. This leaves her job
anti-terrorism agent) in limbo. The kidnapping of her friend Harry
to do what she fears most: leave home to embark on an effort to venture
the dangerous world to find him.
When she uncovers a lab devoted to tweaking
the COVID variant into something even more deadly, Sybil is prompted to
her former job full-force in order to stop them in an effort to save
left of humanity.
doesn't open with Sybil, but character Sean's descent into a dark
leads him into danger. It then moves to Massachusetts State Trooper
McCann's investigation into the Deer Island incident.
merge into Sybil's life as she wonders about her lover Harry's safety.
hours late coming home, and she knows something is seriously wrong.
these events and personalities, the horror and thriller components of
unfold as Sybil conquers one fear, only to find it replaced by
more insidious. She's made her reputation on stopping threats...until
emerge involving vampires, thirsts for revenge, betrayals and gangs,
diverse elements added into the plot keep readers on their toes and
about the evolving characters and their influences.
does an outstanding job of combining the thriller and horror formats.
Sybil's true identity and the reason why she's become especially deadly
revealed, along with many surprises, readers will find the tension very
done, the unexpected twists of plot satisfyingly complex, and the story
by characters who hold their own special interests beyond survival
social dilemmas juxtapose nicely with the horror components, drawing
real-life worries and conundrums and horror genre backdrops.
result is a
satisfying horror story especially recommended for thriller readers who
quasi-real life settings and challenges that go beyond political and
enjoy vampires, pandemic dramas, and stories of terrorism and
loosely based on real-world events will find a special winner in Pandemic: Chaos is Bleeding.
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J. Alexander Greenwood
Caroline Street Press
978-0-578-30102-0 $13.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
Pilate's Faith is the eighth book in the John Pilate
mystery series and will draw prior fans, especially, to its latest
tired of problem-solving and challenges to living, but he's forced to
beyond his weariness on yet another case that turns all too personal
small town is terrorized in his name. Added angst comes from the fact
prior support systems (family, friends, faith) are falling apart under
latest onslaught, leaving him virtually alone in the fight. As in many
situations where everything seems to fall apart, faith and foundations
unshakeable are often the most fragile. And the most enduring.
with a curious kidnapping...curious because Pilate is locked in a small
container, in a strange conversation with his captor that slowly
to the situation as their back-and-forth banter develops.
discussion, J. Alexander Greenwood provides a sense of mystery and
psychological inspections of perp and victim alike, creating a
thought-provoking atmosphere which only becomes more complex as the
Pilate will find no barriers to quick immersion in his personality and
situation, while prior series readers immediately become involved in
conundrum which tests his skills and the ways in which others view him
Greenwood's hand, the chase scenes and intrigue which follow Pilate are
secondary to the psychological depth of inspection he is forced to
all his tried and true methods and life relationships crumble under
initially confused by the dialogues with his inner persona, Simon. This
lets people into the logic and pro/con directions Pilate considers
course of his confrontations, adding an extra dimension of insight to
despite its initially-confusing appearance (not because the author
described this conversation properly; but because it's unusual to see a
character inwardly divided, who explores the pros and cons of his
through an alter ego who has another name and identity within him).
is the one
entity who stands beside Pilate when everything else falls apart. He
should—he's part of Pilate. It's this critical inspector persona who
him the edge to not just survive and solve the mystery of a killer's
but allow him to reinvent his world.
for whodunit components in their mysteries will find an added value of
psychological and social inspection in Pilate's
thought-provoking, the story keeps readers on their toes to the end,
functioning as both a fine stand-alone read and an exciting addition to
mystery series as a whole.
look for solid, well-written crime thrillers and cozy mysteries will
want to take
a hard look at this well-written story of intrigue and personal
which should be on their acquisition lists.
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Foundations Book Publishing Company
ASIN: B09KZH7RZH $4.49
The Sundance Revenge, ex-Marine
has returned to civilian life harboring anger issues, which she
as she works as a guide at a snowy Utah park.
It seems a good job for both her skill level and her
desire to interact
with the public in a particular manner...until people begin dying on
in "accidents" and suicides which leave her wondering.
mount, Belle comes to realize these events are part of an insidious,
plan that involves a century-old mystery and killers that have her (and
town) in their crosshairs.
go back to quilting. That, or become more involved than she'd planned,
the clues into an impossible scenario of revenge.
a thoroughly engrossing story that blends an ex-military woman's IED
with a larger picture of adversity that calls upon both her resources
surprisingly, her ailment, to resolve.
shooter that places her in a serious life-threatening situation to the
"impure thoughts" that emerge with Alonzo, and the charge she faces
to confront both the unknown and her inner demons, Pace creates a
thriller that holds strong psychological depth as well as cat-and-mouse
between Belle and the unknown assailants.
she faces a
town in deadly danger, friends who fall in the line of duty, trying to
her, and guilt (both past and present), Belle finds within herself the
to both change and face the impossible.
intrigue, and psychological drama will find The
Sundance Revenge builds a fast-paced story firmly centered
on the psyche
and conundrums of an already-strong woman who finds the foundations of
strengths, beliefs, and relationships sorely tested.
characterization, mystery, and engaging saga quasi-based on real
crafts a tale that is thoroughly involving and hard to put down.
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Throw Me to the Wolves
Lindy Ryan & Christopher Brooks
Black Spot Books
Throw Me to the Wolves combines
supernatural intrigue with a murder mystery to capture reader attention
the start: "If I blinked I might
tear out his throat.... “I am glad that the witch is dead,” I told him,
letting the smile part my lips, “but I did not kill her.”
The suspect is immortal, with all the time
in the world. But that doesn't mean that this time should be spent
"...what fun would immortality be if
I had to waste it caged up in shitty interrogation rooms like this?
go bump in the night have little use for the niceties of the living."
Britta Orchid is a werewolf with a new
mission in the world. Prompted by Officer Aaron Labaye to help solve a
case, Britta must search through her own family history, digging into
secrets in an effort to defy pack mentality and solve not one, but a
murders that have their roots in one night's terrible events.
Can she find redemption for herself and her
Readers are drawn into a mystery that
operates on two levels: as a supernatural story, and as a tale of
draws together disparate worlds and personalities.
As Britta searches through spells, new
opportunities, and threats from the past, she finds that the most
to replicate is that which brings love.
Readers will find that the blend of
psychological tension, investigative drama, and supernatural clashes
fine job of moving between each layer of influence to build an
Neither fish nor fowl, Throw
Me to the Wolves operates on different levels to provide
mystery and thriller and supernatural story fans alike in a powerfully
immersive tale that will keep them on their toes as they follow Britta,
and other interconnected lives.
The descriptions are especially well done
("I chomped down on my temper, but
Labaye, he dove at her leg, knocking the bucket away.") and
both high-octane action and battles between disparate special
injecting a light dose of wry ironic humor into the mix.
The result is a vivid story that defies easy categorization, but is highly recommended reading for thriller, mystery, and supernatural story audiences alike.Throw Me to the Wolves
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California Coast Publishing
ASIN: B09MR1H76S $4.99 ebook
Centurion Witness: A
Resurrection and Redemption represents Christian
Biblical fiction at
its best. Think the action of Ben Hur,
combined with the political quandaries of a centurion in ancient Rome
himself caught between his duty to protect Rome’s governor in Judea and
forces that want to kill Jesus of Galilee and quash his followers.
Ed Mitchell's background producing thriller
stories is evident in how he captures the drama and conflicts of the
times. He presents
social and political observations through the eyes of a seasoned
officer whose charge to serve as a bodyguard brings him into direct
with forces on both sides.
Battle-worn and weighed down by poor
decisions of the past, Centurion Calix decides to make better choices: "Better
to die doing the right thing than live with what I did in the desert."
Unfortunately, these choices come with a
Under Mitchell's hand (and from the
viewpoint of the centurion), the atmosphere and politics of the time of
come to life. From bathhouses and bribes to Jewish law, questions of
punishment, simmering calls to war, and how Jesus's message reaches
Jewish community, Mitchell provides a thought-provoking story that
appeal of this new message: “He
interpreted the ancient scriptures in a new manner. An eye for an eye
longer the rule. Now we are to love our neighbors and our enemies.
is important. Seeking wealth is not. Rites and rituals are no longer
Repenting one’s sins is. And if people repent, with true remorse God
“How did the people he spoke to react?"
“I watched the crowd sitting around him absorb his ideas like water falling on parched sand."
The story will resonate nicely with
Christian readers and secular audiences alike as it reviews the
history, and spiritual forces of the times.
Perhaps more so than most novels about
Jesus, the thriller elements drive a divided community and the
heart to bring an element of action and philosophical and social
what is ordinarily a spiritual story, with a history that brings the
The result is a study in miracles,
forgiveness, enlightenment, and transformation that grips with strong
psychological inspections and characters whose dilemmas will resonate
belongs in any library collection strong in Jewish literature,
fiction, and Biblical narratives. Its powerful insights into
personal choice also provide rich fodder for book club discussion.
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Marshwinds Press Company
$29.95 Hardback; $19.95 paperback; $9.9 e-book
Change Happens: But Will They Understand? is a study in moral and ethical behavior,
justice, and crime. The novel revolves around bad decisions made almost
decades in the past which continue to reverberate and affect individual
in modern times.
a cast of characters who each face the consequences of a day which
end of Judge Ernst “Cal” White-Callaway's life as he knew it. Two
face decisions that will also change their focuses in achieving their
making decisions that result in a legacy beyond their lifetimes. A
shares a love relationship that most can't understand. And the
innocuous-sounding Berkshire Book Club, based on Haitian spirituality,
undertakes a venture into political effectiveness that holds
anticipate the diversity of characters and perspectives in this story,
less those who seem to operate from entirely different segments of
is adept in
crafting descriptions that capture both bigger-picture thinking and the
of small-town life and decisions that enter into social and political
circles: "'Yes, Madam Chair—and, I will add,
ladies’ club champion in tennis, golf, and bridge. It was sneaky of you
partner with John Emerson rather than your gorgeous judicial boy toy.
to know if the relationship with John is no-trump or love.' The ladies
dialogue, describing politics and public personas, considering crime
redemption, or analyzing judicial systems, Aly provides a fine
story that ranges from individual choice to social impact: “Something isn’t right. I should have been
instructed to send the
Paschal boy’s file to Boston. The governor didn’t ask for the file. I
anyway, that same day, to the governor’s office. They should have
to the panel. The panel should’ve finished within a week of the
calling me. I’ve heard nothing from anyone. The governor mentioned an
investigator. Inquiries don’t have investigators; criminal
It fits with a judicial criminal investigation. Nothing in the file
result is an
examination of hearts, values, and influences on social and political
that cement these considerations firmly into the disparate lives of
affected by the winds of chance and choice.
in stories of justice, crime, and the pursuit of happiness will find Change Happens: But Will They Understand?
a lively, thought-provoking experience. Its consideration of a
changed by one man's decision is especially recommended for book club
discussion groups. There's even a reader's guide at the end for this
that reinforces the themes and issues that appear throughout this story.
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Ekstasis - The Return of the Sovereign
978-1514399798 Paperback: $19.99/Kindle: $11.99
Ekstasis - The Return of the Sovereign Heart offers a spiritual journey with the first book in the Ekstasis magical realism romance series. It follows the trials and experiences of spiritual seeker Mona Devek, who publishes a fictional story that changes atheist reader David Wilkins, shaking him from his grief over the loss of his beloved family.
Mona's publication not only transforms
David, but leads him into a new venture as he decides to make a movie
story. When he discovers that Mona's journey has taken away his ability
and interact with her, he faces yet another shock...and a revised
M.I. Dugast crafts an outstanding story of
reincarnation, recovery, discovery, and spiritual survival that
many delightfully unexpected levels.
On the one hand, it's a concurrent survey of
two disparate individuals who find their destinies unexpectedly
another level, it's about trauma and healing from losses that provides
involving descriptions which (it should be cautioned, and is
marked as trigger warnings at the start of the book) sometimes embrace
violence and horror.
Readers who expect a spiritual journey alone
may be surprised by the concurrent reflections and revised experiences
of characters face as they consider the purpose and possibility of new
approaches and meanings: "The
visions at the millennium and, much later, her experience with Cillian,
been the last times she had felt something close to what she was
feeling in the
present moment, although this was very different. Not only was it more
but there seemed to be a distinct echo to it—a reciprocity. The thought
her head into a vortex of activity that seemed to have a life of its
contracting and expanding, like breath, like heartbeats—paving a way to
life, her inner being whispered. 'Yes! I really am wholeheartedly ready
From hyperdimensional doors to the concept
of David as a host who carries a destiny beyond his understanding,
crafts a metaphysical tale replete in thought-provoking considerations
it means to adopt a new lease on life.
Readers who enjoy uplifting metaphysical and
spiritual sagas will find Ekstasis -
The Return of the Sovereign Heart filled with characters and
enlighten, delight, and ultimately lead to love.
The unusual blend of romance and
enlightenment creates a story that blossoms with inspiration and
especially recommended for spiritual readers who enjoy fictional
journeys towards enlightenment.
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title and youthful appearance of this book's cover art suggest a young
audience, but Peter Obourn's story of a farm boy's adventure and coming
is recommended for young adult and adult readers alike.
Bascomb's upbringing and experience offer few options for a
His countenance to his small rural community is that of a quiet man who
solid, yet circumspect in his interactions with others. He isn't
small-town politics or drama...which is why his entanglement with Grace
Illingwood, who embarks on a search to find a father who was never part
life, is so unusual.
overheard a conversation not meant for his ears, and this sends him on
unexpected journey that belays his staid approach to life and poses new
challenges that go beyond an awakening sexual attraction and emotional
paints a compelling portrait of a young man's crush on an older woman
mother Agnes), his struggles to understand his emotions and reconcile
his urges and his place in the world, and his growing determination to
something about his situation: "I
just said hi and went to the reading room, which is a nice room. It has
and easy chairs. It’s kind of like a living room with books in it. I
even though it made my stomach hurt, I started to think about Agnes
I had to because something had to change with Agnes."
decisions land him in the middle of emotional, sexual, and social
that he has no experience with and little ability to handle, he finds
doing what he thinks is the right thing isn't always the simplest
confronting theft and envy to confronting the truth about Grace's
identity, Holcomb finds his hands full and his heart heavy.
time to paint a fine backdrop for this story. This atmosphere and the
small-town descriptions lend a vivid, realistic touch to the tale: "We sat together on a rock. We were the
only climbers at the top. We could see peaks fifty miles away and all
and forest in between. We looked back over Forestville and out to the
up the river that disappeared into the trees and at the mountain peaks
hazier and hazier until they disappeared over the horizon. Close to us
individual trees, then patches of green and red and gold that gradually
into a single hue and then merged again into a soft line between earth
coming-of-age component nicely drives a plot in which Holcomb comes to
understand himself and his place in the world. Readers will realize
intrinsic patience and quiet ability to listen may be not his greatest
detriments, but his greatest assets—and the answer to many of his
adult audiences who look for quiet revelations about those evolving
into a more
effective life will find Holcomb’s Potato Song a worthy, quietly compelling read. It's the
perfect adjunct to Catcher
in the Rye and other grittier stories of emerging sexuality
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to Hunt a
ASIN: B09MHRBGDD $7.99
historical novels centered on World War II events will find How to Hunt a Bear a fine saga. It
follows a Jewish family from 1939, as Nazis enter their village, and is
revealed from three perspectives. Eighty-seven-year-old Itzhak, a
resident in Jerusalem, seeks to document his family story; young Itzhak
is seven years old at the beginning of the war; and Maya, a family
genealogist, finds that her research into the Hauzer family legacy
moves from 1939 Poland and first-person experiences and Jewish culture
a grueling Russian winter in 1942, then to modern-day (2019) Holland,
will find all the characters provide thought-provoking experiences.
and times are clearly labeled in chapter headings which clarify the
back-and-forth perspectives and shifting timelines that carry the
readers from past to present.
Modern characters attempt to understand their place in the family history based on newly emergent knowledge about the past, lending How to Hunt a Bear an excellent sense of interconnected heritages and Jewish cultural experiences.
revelations are powerful strengths of the story, nicely answering the
contemporary young people may have about the relevance of historical
their modern lives: "I couldn’t
conceive how people had survived the war for so many years, only to be
to return to their homes, forced to spend a few more years in a DP camp
then embarked for Israel, a country rising from the dust, where they
begin a new life from scratch, unwilling to let their darkest memories
their lost loved ones hold them back, difficult as it may be. How did
start over after enduring that kind of suffering?"
first-person observations brings these disparate worlds to life,
the connections between characters who share not just history, but
make How to Hunt a Bear a
revealing testimony to survival that is highly recommended for any
strong in Holocaust history and Jewish experience.
Return to Index
JUST ONE LIFE (all caps intended) introduces Geoffrey
Zukor, a walking disaster who navigates life on a tightrope of ongoing
with a vivid account of falling into a death pit of doom. Then the
moves from Geoffrey's feelings and observations to a more dispassionate
analysis of events that teases the mind with delightful tongue-in-check
humor: "Rather dramatic, the whole falling
into the death-smeared pit of doom bit, wasn’t it? Surprisingly though,
was not the objective here. What the man behind the curtain was going
memorable. That’s what you need in a situation like this; you need
m-e-m-o-r-a-b-l-e. For you see, Geoffrey’s impending high-speed head
the cold, blood-stained rocks of the canyon floor wasn’t just some
run-of-the-mill neural oscillation run amuck. No, this snippet of dream
something else entirely."
adds footnotes that are anything but staid and scholarly during the
exploring Geoffrey's navigation of life: "Really
Odin, old boy, it never dawned on anyone to potty-train the Valkyrie?
delightful embellishments to a tale replete in humorous plays on words,
life, and situations that keep Geoffrey on his toes and dancing through
hospitalization and release receive a special brand of attention that
won't expect: "He wondered if he
could confide in him; tell him how damn strange it felt to be out of
hospital, to be out in the world, out on his own. Tell him how
the drive overlooked the same, the same streets and buildings, yet it
so different, so unfamiliar. It
was so weird. But should he tell him that? Tell him that maybe,
gotten used to the hospital, used to having everyone around, the
of smiling, familiar faces; tell him how maybe he had even come to feel
something, something larger than just his own recovery."
should be more than evident that Geoffrey's transformations will be
extraordinary and unpredictable; both in his life and in the story.
transitions in life are achieved and how sequestered people become
disturbing, strange events that Geoffrey must address, readers receive
through life, politics, psychology, and realms of insanity that give
delightful run for their money.
succeeds in spinning both a hilarious and a thought-provoking yarn.
JUST ONE LIFE is a captivating reflection on life's
ironies, challenges, and changing situations that both test and
characters in different ways.
inspections and unexpected twists will keep readers involved to the end.
Return to Index
The Mad Duck Coalition
Big Ripple Books|
Walter Schmerz is
a petty officer on a Navy ship, in training in the Philippines at the
Base at Olongapo. What evolves during this experience turns out to be
challenging than preparing for a military engagement. Walter and his
find themselves challenged in a moral and ethical arena that leads them
commit crimes neither the Navy nor they will ever forget.
As he experiences
a milieu in which "craziness is the plan of the day," Walter finds
his place in the shore patrol team, makes choices about his actions and
their consequences, and juggles alcohol and duty, along with his peers.
theater and military tests to radioman challenges and romantic
(complete with graphic sexual descriptions and scenes), Liberty
covers Walter's training on more than one level, capturing the daily
challenges of the Navy environment and juxtaposing it with stories of
abuse, twisted visions, and lives that teeter on the edge of control.
does an exceptional job of portraying the different levels of trouble
challenge that a Navy man can experience abroad. From motives and
for actions to lessons on life, death, and love, Walter's growth and
are detailed in a manner that will especially appeal to military or
readers, as well as general-interest audiences.
of history and events are vivid: "Things with Iran were hot
hostages were taken. The volume of message traffic had bloated. Battle
were being drawn. More ships into the Arabian Sea, into the Persian
itself. The Iranians sent P3s and second-hand U.S. destroyers out to
fleet, each appearance prompting a flash report from the forward
Russians accelerated activity and the usual cat and mouse games
Rumors abounded among officers and crew. Everyone was caught between
of battle and the excitement of involvement, secretly longing for
not now, now that it might happen. Contingencies. Al told of the time
making a simple R and R cruise from Yokosuka to Pusan and got mugged in
where they loaded some spooks and a van on board and spent the next
chasing a Russian aircraft carrier all over the North Pacific. “Bravo
Keep charging.” Everyone got gedunk ribbons. Contingencies: Russians,
Boat People, Iranians—mopping up from their nation’s previous
Walter Schmerz juggling it all in the fluorescent hysteria of radio
the USS Outland, frigate. Looking ahead, beyond the Philippines to
contingencies. That was a mistake. Heavy weather."
threats from Chief Parma and external forces collide, an eye-opening
that is powerful in its unexpected developments, made all the stronger
roots in a real-life story.
recommended for any military reader or collection, but surprisingly
to general-interest readers, Liberty Call is
packed with action and moral dilemma, and is thought-provoking right up
Return to Index
978-1733588850 $10.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
"Anyone can have a
of heart or a new dream, can’t they?"
is the first romance story in the Inspiration In Misty Valley
series and introduces Sophie
aspiring chef in Colorado who lives on a family homestead that's under
ownership—by her best friend.
The fictional town of Misty Valley on the
shore of Mika Lake in the Colorado Rockies serves as the setting to a
story of Wapiti Ranch and altered visions of success.
Sophie is on the cusp of blending her
passion for cooking with a proposal that will extend these talents into
areas when she meets a potential romantic partner and confronts the
a heritage she once thought rock-solid.
The theme of new beginnings resonates
throughout this story as Sophie begins to understand the kinds of
translate to life-altering situations against all odds.
Deborah King creates a feisty, extroverted
character centered on her abilities, the foundations of her family and
and future opportunities. She follows the unexpected trajectory of a
initially holds "no desire to uproot my life," only to find it
uprooted despite her best efforts.
The ongoing culinary descriptions will
delight readers who like to cook (or eat), whether it's a secret broth
stew or chocolate-covered cherries.
The backdrop of the Colorado Mountains is
injected into the story to provide a winning, compellingly snowy
Sophie re-examines her goals, her heart, and her expectations of life
abilities and heritage.
Especially compelling are the love scenes in
which Sophie follows her heart and rediscovers her connections to her
The steamy romance blends nicely with her revelations, capturing and
moments of revelation to readers already enchanted by Sophie's humor,
determination, and world.
New Beginnings is
a sweet romance story that's highly recommended for women who like
female first-person tales of discovery that go beyond falling in love
into the realms of finding new purpose in career and life trajectories.
Return to Index
The People Eaters
Rare Bird Books
When Neil Bockoven opened his Ice Age series
with Moctu and the Mammoth People,
presented a vivid story of ancient times that captured the psychology,
sociology, and dilemmas of people who came alive under his pen.
That story, set in Paleolithic Italy 45,000
years ago, excelled and had a realistic feel as it followed Cro-Magnon
Moctu's coming of age and his tribe's confrontation with the "Pale
Ones," cannibalistic Neanderthals known as The People Eaters who take
center stage in this follow-up.
Readers who enjoyed Moctu's saga will find The People Eaters just as vigorous and
engrossing as its predecessor as it more closely examines the
intersection of four different tribes, including Neanderthals who are
perceived as dangerous enemies, but who also hold their differences, as
discovers in this story.
The first note about The
People Eaters is that much of this early history is based on
scientific findings and theories, which lends an authoritative backdrop
fictional spin on Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon encounters and the
label attached to Neanderthals.
Moctu's unexpected close proximity to them
after his capture by the Pale Ones allows him to realize that there are
differences between Neanderthal tribes and peoples. This opens the door
only his better understanding of these differences, but creates a
he leaves them to return to his own tribe; there to face a tribal
has a vested interest in portraying all Pale Ones as dangerous
cement his own cruel leadership of Moctu's tribe.
Science often operates at a fast pace, and
thus the science that underpinned Moctu
and the Mammoth People both changed and contributed to the
explored in this latest story.
From revised perceptions of friends,
enemies, and inherent differences between Ice Age peoples to Moctu's
dilemmas in an awkward position standing between Pale One friends and
Bockoven crafts an outstanding "you are here" feel to his story that
relies on both scientific facts and fictional high drama to bring
and people to life.
Bockoven's two books are every bit as
involving and educational as Jean Auel's celebrated Cave
of the Clan Bear series, and deserves the same degree of
acclaim and recognition for their blend of science-based insights and
characterization and drama.
These elements keep Moctu's people and world
both realistic and powerfully involving in a book especially
prior Moctu readers and for anyone who enjoys stories of early human
and tribal struggle.
Return to Index
978-1-950743-67-4 $16.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook
is the second book in the Panic River trilogy, and takes place four
the events presented in Panic River.
Having fled from the shooting that involved
him, Corey has spent a good amount of time reinventing his life, even
his last name as well as his entire life and interests. Only his mother
best friend Billy bridge his past and present worlds...that, and the
that return him to everything he fled from, despite his best efforts to
One would think that moving to California
and becoming involved in the painting community would be far enough
the Midwest, but the past has a way of resurfacing. When Corey finds
involved in a new love relationship with a man, he is forced to not
reexamine that past and the truths that brought him freedom and love,
return to the Midwest to confront his demons.
Usually, a book sequel requires that readers
have familiarity with the ongoing story line; but one of the benefits
Waves is that while it enhances and expands its predecessor,
familiarity with the story is not a requirement in order for newcomers
completely absorbed in Corey's new life and dilemmas.
Elliott Foster crafts a story that focuses
on geographic differences between West and Midwest and changing
love relationships, providing insights into how these new steps into a
world can contribute to a different view of the past—and the courage to
As a new murder involves Corey in events
that mirror what happened long ago, readers are brought into both
and son Corey's lives as everything changes.
Foster is especially adept at detailing the
logic Corey employs, both in changing his identity and life and
new relationships affected by his decisions. These psychological depth
involvements are solidly intriguing and thought-provoking, enhancing a
tale that moves from past choices to present-day consequences.
From sexual encounters and legal
investigations to ethical concerns ("I
think that almost everyone can harm another person under the wrong
Everyone.”), Reckoning Waves
juxtaposes a story of retribution, redemption, and recovery with one of
What can cause the past to melt away, and
how can everything turn from hopeful and positive to impossibly
Readers won't anticipate the epilogue that
concludes this story, or the forces that work both with and against
help him create a different life.
While it's a fine addition to its series, Reckoning Waves also stands nicely alone
as a thought-provoking story of Midwest lives, same-sex relationships,
possibilities for redemption. This focus will attract a wide audience,
readers of Midwestern fiction and literature to those looking for
stories of evolving relationships and the challenge of forging a new
Return to Index
Scoundrel in the
Pedee Creek Press
$25.95 Hardcover/$17.95 Paper/$7.99 ebook
Scoundrel in the Thick
is a historical novel set in 1882 Colorado, where former Civil War hero
Scoundrel sets out on a mission to rescue his best friend's kidnapped
B.R. O'Hagan adds plenty of real characters
and historical events to further spice the tale as Scoundrel partners
Masterson, encounters old friend Buffalo Bill Cody, and interacts with
literary figures during the course of what can only be described as a
rollicking ride through the icons and images of America's past.
An introductory letter to Scoundrel by Walt
Whitman admonishes the protagonist that he must "...habit
yourself to the dazzle of the light and of every moment
of your life. Do anything, lad, but let it produce joy."
This leads into a prologue that takes place
in 1882 Mexico, where a bullet rips into Diego's bedroom and violence
place by unknown assailants. As the confrontation evolves, he is
finding Thomas, the only man who will "know what to do."
Indeed, Thomas does know what to do. He's in
New York City, at the first electrically lit musical event ever held in
nation, where inventor Thomas Edison is being honored for his
achievement. And Thomas is busily starting a romance.
O'Hagan excels in both recreating this
period of time and its famous personalities and adding an action and
flavor to a story that captures the sentiments and people of Thomas's
world: "Theatrics aside, William F. Cody was
man you wanted in your corner when the big fight was on."
As Thomas and Rosalilia's journeys coalesce,
readers receive a vivid inspection of the social, political, and
intersections of a bygone era. These add a realistic flavor to the
events that unfold with drama and action.
From political plots to blame Colonel
Scoundrel and the Cheyenne for the total destruction of two border
former Mexican Vice-President Resposo's participation in plans that
the destiny of nations, readers will enjoy a vivid romp through 1800s
personalities and a plot to steal a country.
Scoundrel in the Thick
represents historical novel writing at its best. With its blend of
and real events and attention to strong character development (which
personal and political special interests), it's a story that will
even those who may have little prior knowledge of these times.
Historical fiction library collections
strong in early American representations and action-packed adventure
will find Scoundrel in the Thick a
Return to Index
is the first book in a thriller series and introduces the dance between
dangerous) Ted X. Donovan and Rachel Allen, who has already been a
unwittingly falls prey to Ted's charm and his countenance as a
and caring man.
All is not what it seems, as both spiral
into a situation that involves international intrigue and threats,
propositions, and murder and blackmail.
As personal and political circles gone awry,
Ted and Rachel become caught up not only with one another, but in
beyond their control. Each character is called upon to tap their
challenges to their ability to survive physically, psychologically,
Reluctant to embark on a journey with an
older man who nonetheless holds the charm and power that Rachel has
lacking in her life, she finds herself in dangerous territory indeed.
is about the gray area between right and wrong decisions. It's also
characters who must look within to find the kinds of choices that
their lives towards making positive changes, both for themselves and
The political thriller which evolves against
a suspense backdrop brings readers into this world with a passion and
that makes every character choice thought-provoking and involving.
belongs on the shelves of not just political thriller and suspense
but in the hearts and minds of women who look for moral and ethical
powerful women, and dangerous men who face ruthless choices and actions
sake of the greater good...and themselves.
Return to Index
$2.99 Kindle ebook (Free with Kindle Unlimited)/$10.25 Paperback
Ordering: The Shadow in the Mirror
the day he
was born, Harold's arrival portended a force that threatened humanity.
forward to 1980, where Harold is nine. The
Shadow in the Mirror really begins at the moment of his
birth, but moves
forward in time to capture Harold's growing awareness of another force
reflection, a "serpent in disguise."
self-awareness of something "off" continues to grow as he realizes
that friendships and relationships never evolve in his life. Everyone
him senses the threat that he represents to the world, even if on a
alter ego in the mirror is leading the successful life that Harold has
wanted. Who is evil and who is the threat, in this scenario? The
answers lie in
this mirror shadow, two lives, and a destiny that portends changes for
does a fine job of exploring the psychic forces of darkness and light
permeate Harold's world. He paints these conflicts using vivid imagery
delightfully evocative: "Harsh gusts
of nocturnal wind blew across central Indiana, whipping the trees into
rattling my bedroom window. It was as if I'd shaken everything up by
whatever was suppressing me. I swore that within that howling wind was
encrypted message trying to reach me."
tension mount to place Harold in a position of realizing the truth
birth and heritage, readers receive a powerful supernatural horror
is satisfyingly complex and hard to predict.
dreams and nightmares begin to spill into reality, readers are treated
tense story of parallel dimensions and haunting influences that raise
questions. Who is the real Harold, and what is his place in the world?
for blends of supernatural horror, psychological suspense, and
an "internal dungeon" will find The
Shadow in the Mirror replete with discovery and insights that
Harold's perceptions of his life.
saga of mental illness, alter egos and warped realities, and destiny
readers not only entertained, but thinking about their own life
influences. It's highly recommended for readers of not just
fiction and horror, but psychological suspense.
Return to Index
Heaven Above, Earth Below LLC
$24.95 Hardcover/$11.99 Paper/$2.99 ebook
Song of Cigale presents the stories of people on both
sides of World War II, whose lives are changed by Nazi invasion and
two sets of siblings: one in France (brother/sister), and one in
brothers) who become entangled in circumstances that lead to a second
Southern France in August (an event that receives lesser mention in the
chronicles of military World War II history compared to the
story opens with this second D-Day and a bang of action in which the
character runs for her very life, fleeing German soldiers who are
her home. These soldiers confront her parents who chose to stay behind
more time for their daughter's escape: "'Cours!' her mother cried. 'Run, Caro!
Run!' Caroline’s feet pounded the gravel path as she propelled herself
darkness. She was a whirlwind of limb and emotion, her short raven hair
bouncing with each hasty stride."
action-packed opener draws even non-history fans into a story steeped
heart-stopping threat of Nazi discovery. Four years earlier, the
invaded. War entered their lives, and the family began preparing for
France, paratrooper Michael's bomber is going down, in another vivid
scene: "The gaping bomb bay door glared back
at him with an evil grin. Moments before, the mission had been as
normal as any
other nighttime jump Michael had made. But the bullets of 20mm flak
guns from a
German night fighter ambushed their plane, shredding one of Lucky Lady’s wings. Then, one final
time, the fighter blasted the coup de grâce. Gas tanks exploded, the
bomb bay door ripped open, and the remaining wing, upper gun turret,
fuselage blazed in flames as the plane screamed toward earth."
reveals another life, another vivid circumstance, and the wartime
each character shares (albeit from very different vantage points).
creates original, satisfying contrasts in perspective, ideals, and the
a war that forces each individual to make impossible decisions.
expect romance to evolve under such circumstances of strife, but
attention to exploring the many different facets of life under siege
embraces the human mind's ability to grasp new possibilities and grow
even the most adverse conditions.
skilled at juxtaposing the effects of these dilemmas on choices and
consequences: "Frank’s mind raced
with images of Caro, sunflowers, Germans, and blood. He tried to focus,
soldiers’ lives depended on him.
Perhaps, if I refuse to think her name. But that was
after wave of regret washed through his tortured soul."
most World War II stories, the convergence of these very different
the moral and ethical conundrums each character must face alone creates
deeper psychological probe of the war's effects on all people.
replete with a blend of action and psychological inspection that goes
capturing historical events to illuminate readers about these changing
are well developed, their different perspectives and experiences are
and nicely documented, and both history and interpersonal connections
war really be over? It won't happen when peacetime comes, but when
hearts settle down and future generations help reconcile past and
it won't happen until readers begin to understand how life can go on
losing so many loved ones to fellow man's violence.
reflects towards the end of his story: “War
is like some swift river, and once you’re caught in its current, you
escape. It carries you downstream, and no matter how hard you fight,
impossible. When you finally do emerge, if you’re lucky enough, it’s
you’re still…not clean. And
definitely not the boy you were when it started.”
Readers of World War II fiction will find in
Song of Cigale a powerful, highly
recommended story of different kinds of confrontation (both internal
external) and healing processes which hold hope for a better future.
Return to Index
Sunflowers Beneath the Snow
Teri M. Brown
Decisions hold consequences beyond those who
make them, sometimes resonating through generations. That's one of the
in Sunflowers Beneath the Snow, a
historical novel which follows the interconnected lives of three
women changed by Ukraine's downfall under the Soviets and an act of
Simple people can be transformed by
political strife and events that reach into their homes and lives: "How had he gone from a simple man –
Lyaksandro Hadeon Rosomakha – a university employee, a son, a father,
husband – to a man facing a decision at the end of a gun? What had
into a life littered with secret meetings, men with no names, and
passed in the hours between darkness and dawn?"
What is worth living and dying for when everything changes and personal survival takes precedence over moral and ethical foundations? Ukrainian rebel Lyaksandro's choice resonates through the psyches of Ivanna, Ionna, and Yevtsye.
Vivid passages capture these characters and
the conundrums they face as political influence and rebellion change
lives and loves forever: "He
regarded his hands, realizing they were capable of both stroking his
cheek and effectively signing her death certificate."
While readers receive a good deal of history
about the Soviet takeover of Ukraine and events that happen
there is no need for prior familiarity with any of these events.
Teri M. Brown crafts a story that operates
on emotional levels. It uses history and politics as a backdrop for
considering love, hate, betrayal, and redemption. This allows the story
solidly cemented in interpersonal relationships and the concurrent
three women affected by circumstance, those around them, and their own
As Yevt summons the courage to share family
secrets with her prodigy, who will carry their consequences to future
generations, readers receive a powerful story that excels in its
the long-term, wide-ranging effects of these choices: "Her
father’s death was a turning point in her life, and one that
obviously still caused her pain, but it was a pain she didn’t share. He
considered the silence on the matter was to protect herself from
as much as it was to protect her mother."
The result is a compelling novel of
different generations changed by events both within and beyond their
Sunflowers Beneath the
represents an intersection of facts and fiction that proved challenging
Brown to capture ("Sunflowers Beneath the Snow...did not start with a spark, but rather a
red-hot coal...it took me three years to figure out how to stay true to
experiences, while at the same time, staying true to the craft of
writing. Although names have been changed and circumstances are of my
creation, the basic premise of the story is true. This is, without a
case where truth is far more powerful than fiction.").
Readers will depart with both a thoroughly
absorbing read that teaches them about Ukraine at a key, pivotal
its history just when people best need to understand these past events
to absorb the present-day challenges that nation faces.
Historical fiction collections will find Sunflowers Beneath the Snow an
enlightening, compelling read.
Return to Index
W.W. Van Overbeke
It's unusual to see
either a historical novel or a love story that opens with the
reflection that “I
should have divorced that son of a bitch years ago!”
Book one of the historical novel Legacy
series, Tholocco’s Wake,
love story set in World War II. It tells of small town student Emma
dreams of becoming a physician and the wife of handsome quarterback
Harbor, love and career were on the horizon, her life course seemingly
realize her dreams. After that event, everything changes.
Fast forward to
1968, where Emma's life still isn't what she'd planned. Emma has been
from Patrick for fifteen years, now. Somehow, she hasn't the heart to
their divorce, despite her traumas and the trails of angst, injury, and
separation. Twenty-eight years later, he's still an integral part of
life...which is set to change radically yet again.
W.W. Van Overbeke presents a compelling
story partially based on the realities of both war and peace and their
on marriage and a long-term couple's lives. The events of the 1960s
life from a personal perspective as Emma faces a shooting and trips
lane which juxtapose past and present emotions.
As Emma journeys towards her stricken
husband in both past and present worlds, she reassesses her connection
Patrick, his meaning in and influence on her life, and the events which
brought them both to this juncture.
The emotion- and experience-driven contrast
between World War II and the 1960s, the choices and consequences which
the family, and the insights about good and bad times during war and
alike create comparisons which are involving as well as educational and
The result is a
romance couched in a social history of the U.S. that draws readers with
family's experiences and keeps alive these connections between personal
and political encounters.
romance, and psychological fiction readers alike will find Tholocco’s
inviting, illuminating, and intriguing, all in one.
Return to Index
What Feeds the Heart
What Feeds the Heart
opens predawn, when an emergency call leads Jean Marie Stark to her
deathbed after another suicide attempt.
Constant adrenaline rushes have been part of
her life since childhood. As Jean Marie falls into recollecting that
and her experiences as a neglected child in a hippie commune, readers
journey of contrasts between a young girl's struggles to grow up in a
environment without rules and an adult daughter's efforts to reconcile
with her mother's choices and impact.
Daryl Glinn-Tanner crafts a story vivid in
imagery, recollection, and the intersection of past and present lives: "Viktor screams up the canyon, “I’ll
hurt you for making a fool of me.” I twitch. I stay put until the
gold on Camelback Mountain. Thunderheads gather. The lack of sun turns
dim. The clouds, The Artist paints with effortless mastery, wild
speak of love: peach, lavender, freedom. Viktor yells far away in the
my mind. “I’ll find you. Don’t worry. I’ll find you.”
The answers to recovery from her heart lie
in Jean Marie's body and mind as she reconsiders these early traumas,
clan's processes, and the lessons absorbed from those around her and
treat her. Bodhi, from an East Indian Ashram in La Crescenta, offers
different perspective: "Bodhi never
treats me like my family does; I have value in his eyes."
As she finds a way of absorbing and
reconciling the past to speak her truth and change her future, readers
on a journey steeped in emotional revelations and growth.
More than the usual coming-of-age scenario, What Feeds the Heart documents the
trials and struggles of surviving an environment where a parent is not
leader, but a follower struggling with their own questions about life
role in the world.
Daryl Glinn-Tanner captures this world in a
story packed with realistic encounters of living in a hippie household.
the reason she's able to bring this milieu to life so vibrantly is that
loosely based on her own experience growing up in such an environment.
The realistic portrait of the different
kinds of struggles this poses to a child come to life in a story that
appeal to a wide audience; especially parents interested in both coming
sagas and stories of how adults reconcile their parents' choices with
life values and experiences.
Return to Index
7 Essential Embraces to Launch Life's Radical Second Half outlines
the basic tenets of an approach to life that maintains that midlife is
to revise perspectives to reach for new opportunities for growth and
fulfillment. It's a welcome antidote to the notion that midlife begins
slide into inability and retirement from life, providing readers with
inspirational survey of these opportunities and how they may be
it a perfectly timed tool for reevaluation
brought on by “The Great Resignation” occurring in today’s world
the most of and cultivating these 'back forty' years involves
re-evaluating and embracing past experience, present-day objectives,
involves identifying one's gifts, values, and objectives—which means
that one of the prerequisites to using The Back Forty
involves the reader's willingness to closely examine their lives and
changes that lead to a new or redefined purpose in life.
process is clearly outlined from the beginning: "Just as
the term “commencement” is used for graduation ceremonies, which mark
of a course of education and the beginning of a next stage, I was at my
commencement in midlife. It was time for me to begin. Not to start
over. Not to
be renewed or revitalized. Not to be re-invented. It was clear to me
wasn’t to be re-anything-ed. I started to clearly see that everything
come before had perfectly prepared me for this commencement and that I
entering my own “Back Forty” to be who I came here to be and to do what
here to do. Now."
should be prepared to write in a Back Forty Freedom Fliers
Journal, as this engagement is part of the process of re-examination
reconsideration. At each point in the step-by-step instructional,
Gurney adds his own life's processes to reinforce direction and new
applications: "I’ll share my own abbreviated sequence of life
compiled from my exploration several years ago and then show you how I
those onto my own Back Forty Initiation Timeline" (from
personal reveals serve as reinforcing examples to the exercises,
which are designed to guide readers through their own self-examination
readers are on the cusp of or well into midlife, The Back
Forty: 7 Essential Embraces to Launch Life's
Radical Second Half offers
many opportunities for not just re-envisioning the second half of life,
creating a solid game plan to make leading up to it in prior years.
Self-help readers seeking an inspirational program
to guide them
through negative times and positive possibilities will find that
the Back Forty program offers many new perspectives to help guide all
a better future.
Return to Index
Bars for Days
979-8756328882 $17.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
Bars for Days
could have been featured in our memoir section...but to limit its
the usual reader of autobiography would be to do it a disservice.
The mercurial, interactive format offers many
more opportunities for engagement, making Bars
for Days a Reviewer's Choice that defies pat categorization
recommendation that offers an unusual opportunity for social, familial,
An associated album with a scanable code
precedes Mic Nickels's story and emphasizes the fact that this book
won't be pursued in a singular media style. The music features songs by
and is produced and augmented by various rappers and musicians,
full-bodied auditory experience to those who listen along with the
A friend of his actually sparked this
creation: “I want to make an app where
people can tell stories, make music playlists, and upload photos
throughout their lives. So, it’s like a time capsule for their loved
they are gone. Not like regular social media, which is fleeting, or
geared towards celebrities, just something for regular people to
own stories. You know? I just think every single person has a story
Nickels notes that this piece was done not
because he thinks he is particularly extraordinary; but because the
effort to capture
life's journey, unique to us all, is worthy of chronicling: "It is while dancing within these walls
constructed out of risk and hope that I have stumbled into some of my
amazing life experiences. And that’s what it's all about isn’t it?
Thus evolves a vivid chronicle of the hip
hop world, a life that blossoms in the Information Age, the friends,
managers, and homies that interact with him, and the heart of his
Unlike many memoirs, dialogue and
personalities are vividly captured, as well as the confrontations, raw
emotions, and influences on changes that direct the author's upward
the hip hop music milieu.
As promised, not just the events of Nickels'
life, but the momentum and atmosphere of the world he moves in provides
vibrant interactive experience; especially when backed by the music
link he provided. His language and descriptions more than equal the
power of his
music: "From downbeat on, the entire
band locked in and poured their hearts out, executing with the
precision of a
well-seasoned veteran ensemble. The reciprocal result was an abundance
and electric energy in the room, as I convinced hip hop heads and jazz
enthusiasts to wave their hands from side to side in synchrony. “This
hop one oh one!” I announced jokingly."
The result is very, very highly recommended.
It will especially appeal to and surprise normally-reluctant younger
generations who usually eschew the written word and descriptions any
than a Tweet.
Bars for Days
stands out in a class of its own. Whether you peg it as a memoir, a
expose, a social inspection, or a family saga, it resonates in mind and
with refreshingly original, upbeat language that pulls no punches, and
quite a few.
Readers from young adult to new adult and
adult audiences will find it beautifully rendered and packed with
Return to Index
Cheryl K. Johnson
Box Lunch Lifestyle: Using Your Lunch Break
to Win Back the Life You Deserve is recommended for self-help readers who find
themselves at a
crossroads in their journey towards personal transformation and
becoming a more
effective, positive force in the world. It comes from a successful
who found herself 'stuck': "I could
barely get a grip on my workday, let alone feel like I had any
literal-minded, practical problem-solver address the bigger questions
purposeful living and effective choices that go beyond checklists of
achievements? What moves lead to visions of a less flawed lifestyle?
Johnson tackles these questions and more in Box
Lunch Lifestyle, which is especially recommended reading for
readers involved in business pursuits, who struggle with personal
values and changes. More importantly, she considers the definitions of
this revised future would look like, helping readers refine their
notions such a goal before following a path to its achievement.
choices in a non-pressured manner is part of what makes the Box Lunch
work. The notion of 'lunch' is uncomplicated: it's a meal that can be
put together, shared, justifiable, and personal. The image serves as a
for better life possibilities, and is represented in constant,
approaches that remove the overwhelming feeling that stems from larger,
seemingly unachievable self-help efforts. This is part of what
the Box Lunch Lifestyle concept and book from other goal-oriented
of personal transformation.
"By making better choices about the food
you eat at lunch and how you spend your time, you prove to yourself
thirty minutes today—not at some point in the future—your life can look
like the one you really want."
really be this easy? It can—with the program shared in this book, the
of bite-sized approaches to change, and discussions of how to get out
pressure cooker and into better routines and interactions in all facets
business collections alike will find Box
Lunch Lifestyle: Using Your Lunch Break to Win Back the Life You Deserve
winner because it presents all its bigger-picture thinking through
smaller-picture windows. This gives readers a clear and unobstructed
effecting the kind of change they value in both their lives and the
busy for lunch. And nobody is too busy for Box
Lunch Lifestyle: Using Your Lunch Break to Win Back the Life You Deserve.
Return to Index
Izzard Ink Publishing
$29.95 Hardcover/$23.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook
The Bus Driver's Mother weaves two lives into one story, following
the evolving relationship of a mother and her son. This would seem to
an ordinary story, but it's not. The juxtaposition of emotions and
between a special needs son and a mother whose life is complicated
his needs creates a dynamic not typical in stories of either mother and
relationships or special needs children, adding a compelling twist to
to be a simple man: a bus driver who genuinely cares for his passengers
job, who perceives the world in relatively simple terms.
with baby Andrew posing a few challenges to his mother while presenting
"bewitching charm" that prompts the invention of a song that belays
any difficulties that may come in raising him: “There’s
sunshine in my boy, there’s sunshine in my boy …. There’s
sunshine in his big blue eyes, he is my greatest joy ….”
plump countenance and obvious pleasure in life is in stark contrast to
worrying mother Ella's struggles to raise him.
chapters of the story revolve around Ella's childhood, coming of age,
family structure. Money was enough of a concern that "My
siblings and I, if we learned anything, was that you were
never, ever late to the table and you always took as ample a portion
around as you could get away with. You couldn’t always eat what you
took or get
away with what you wanted, but you’d have a go at it, knowing that
got, you got, and that leftovers were nonexistent."
translate into adult habits as Ella builds her own family and comes to
understand her mother's conundrums and complexities during childrearing.
stage for Andrew's evolving health crisis and Ella's discovery that she
has few others to rely on but herself...and her father. A too-busy
husband doesn't step in to provide the kind of support she needs. And
navigates doctor visits and Andrew's health with worry and concern
Andrew continues to develop his happy perspective of life, unconscious
challenges his condition presents to those around him ("He
hasn't a worry in the world.").
becomes a special needs child with unusual abilities and reactions to
Ella and Sam navigate the years during which he evolves in ways they
never have predicted ("Andrew’s path
was not remotely clear.").
adept at falling through any cracks in social systems, whether they be
healthcare or education. Where will he land as an adult? In their laps?
chapters revolve around mother Ella's personal journey as she holds her
together and creates the best world possible for Andy.
in contrast, are simpler expressions of delight as he is eventually
own bus to drive and takes pride in making his passengers comfortable,
and safe during long-distance bus trips. His earliest dream was to
police officer for much the same reason (helping others), but life
always go as planned, and he has a special flexibility that allows him
absorb this and enjoy other opportunities that feel just as important.
outlines Ella and Andy's perspectives in chapter headings that clearly
the point of view being explored. While Ella's perspective receives
twice the feature of son Andy's, they work together to provide a
perspective on different ways of perceiving and navigating life.
especially recommended reading for those who would understand both the
challenges of raising a special needs child to become an independent
the perplexities mother and son each face during this process.
collections will find it attractive to mothers and women who enjoy
chronicles, The Bus Driver's Mother
should also be included on the reading lists of parents and
involved with special needs families. From navigating health care to
and legal systems, it offers many insights into a process that shapes
directs mothers, sons, and their independent and connected lives alike.
Return to Index
Dismantling Global White Privilege
Berrett–Koehler Publishers, Inc.
978-1523000005 $24.95 Paper/$11.99 ebook
Plenty of books identify the problem,
structure, and social impact of white privilege in Western society.
and social analyses abound in this subject area.
however, tackle the process of what to
do about it. Dismantling
Global White Privilege: Equity for a Post-Western World fills this gap in literature by providing a
dedicated survey of uneven playing fields around the world in business,
cultural, educational, and financial circles.
importantly, it accompanies each analysis with solutions and
revised attitudes, systems, and approaches.
based on Chandran Nair's global travels and the
resulting insights which stemmed from these encounters. He pinpoints
specific issues from these personal vantage points of experience: "My experiences in living and working
across the world made me aware of yet another interesting
people invariably have a free pass to the world and expect it. This
pass is out
of reach for the Nigerian, Chinese, Egyptian, or Indonesian. From
to journalists, lawyers, bankers, and academics, they demand a special
satisfying note is that Nair is
candid about what this book does and does not represent: "It
is also critically important to remind the reader that this
book is not in any way arguing that all race-based injustices in the
perpetrated by Western powers, White people, and the associated
White privilege. Neither is it suggesting that equity in a post-Western
is wholly dependent on dismantling global White privilege. That would
and factually incorrect."
Nair's focus is on both perceived Western
superiority and White privilege's incarnation and effects and what can
about it today, although the problem has its origins over five hundred
As readers journey through history, society,
and changing attitudes, they receive a study that will especially
citizens, activists, scholars, those involved in business and
sectors, and organizations.
Nair pinpoints the underlying motivation and
purpose of his study: "...a key
objective of this book is to address some very inconvenient truths and
practical ways forward. New narratives have to be the starting point
From the processes of indoctrination and
accepted forms of education and teachings about wealth, poverty,
business pursuits to observations about why Western white societies are
supported and promoted than others ("...selective
programming of White Western literary and scientific brilliance
White privilege by explicitly valuing these achievements above the
contributions of non-Western writers and scientists. This legitimizes
people and nations as contemporary leaders in these spheres."),
provides much food for thought and details on how these established,
patterns of repression could be changed.
Dismantling Global White Privilege is
a powerful discussion that needs to be a foundation title in any
strong in political and social theory and revised ideas of empowerment
transformation. It's very highly recommended as a standout blend of
a call to action that will require much change on social, economic, and
intellectual levels in order to fully address the issues of the
status quo that currently drives the world.
Return to Index
Even the Monsters
Paper Stone Press
Even the Monsters: Living with Grief, Loss,
and Depression: A Journey Through the Book of Job offers a powerful spiritual journey through
loss, and searches for understanding in the face of tragedy.
with a particularly captivating introduction: "In
the rugged and beautiful land of British Columbia, in the year
2000, I began a journey through the book of Job. It is a journey that
lasted for over two decades now. I did not sign up for it. Not
I volunteered for a
assignment. That was all. I did not intend to change the rest of my
the time, the
author was religious; but he was also the manager of a securities
office. Called upon to deliver a three-part sermon series based on a
the Bible, Daryl
Potter began a journey that changed
everything, despite his initial feeling that "I
did not volunteer to study Job for twenty years and counting. I
did not sign up to have my life turned upside down and my comfortable
introduced as a short-term challenge became a lifelong transformative
experience as Potter came to realize that God had chosen him to play a
role above and beyond his everyday life, presenting both adversity and
opportunity to more deeply connect with Biblical studies and His
initially sound like a familiar story, Even
the Monsters is anything but ordinary. Potter observes that "...too often I find that, when it
comes to books about the Bible and personal spiritual growth, the
the practical are separated by an unacceptable divide." His
meant to both bridge that gap and provide extended, different examples
presence of and acts of God in daily living.
the Book of Job inspire and direct Potter, they illustrate redemption,
face darkness, and how to understand the messages of and voice of God.
story of health challenges and terrible struggles blends with Potter's
attention to interpretation and detail is translated for the average
a way that makes the Biblical passages and their analysis easier to
"In verse sixteen, the NIV describes
God as speaking in a manner intended to “terrify them with warnings.”
in Hebrew does not mean “to terrify.” The Hebrew word means “to seal.”
sends these dreams to “seal” people with warnings. The
idea is that through dreams, God leaves a seal, or a mark, noting
the warning that God has provided.”
Even the Monsters belongs in any Christian book collection
where Biblical study is of key interest. It adds personal revelations
understanding and deeper inspection of God's word and intentions, and
highly recommended for discussion groups about grief, Job, or Biblical
in general. These audiences will find plenty of specific links and
that are perfect for encouraging further inspection, discussion, and
Return to Index
Fate of Lenn
979-8476324775 $13.00 Paper/$1.99 Kindle
The Fate of Lenn follows the trials and tests of Duke Lenn
Wancyek, and opens with his childhood and fragments of memories that
his growth to adulthood.
offers his early questions, his growth and introduction to cousins, the
his beloved father, and the issues which continue to influence his
for a peaceful life despite his duties and position in the kingdom are
from the start: "Lenn remained
troubled. None of this changed his responsibilities. If Lenn kept his
uncle happy, this Dukedom would continue to benefit from trade and
And Lenn could safely read in his personal library without so much as
guard to watch the manor, so peaceful was his countryside. He supposed
some inconvenient task was necessary in exchange for such luxury. His
had made many deeper sacrifices than this."
he comes of
age and comes to feel increasingly detached from the responsibilities
position brings, Lenn confronts both opportunities and conflicts of
that dare him to reconsider his role in the kingdom even as invaders
engages in a war that carries him beyond his inclination to live a
readers are treated to a story of good, evil, and the ultimate impact
legacy that influences "....a people
who survived and would one day thrive again."
to peg the audience for this story. Dylan Madeley crafts a memorable
inner and outer conflict as he follows a young man who takes on the
and social conflicts of his kingdom. The story works on psychological
fantasy levels to reach a wide age range. Other characters facing their
life-changing issues and influences intersect with Lenn's life to
full-faceted story of a kingdom under siege in different ways.
illustration and some of the story would seem to appeal to middle grade
and older; but many of the fantasy elements will reach into adult
their thought-provoking insights into survival and transformed lives.
The Fate of Lenn is a tale of good men and legends that
create hope for the future with stories that live on in the hearts and
story of a
quiet Duke who steps up to become a hero figure despite his reclusive
inclinations will appeal to readers who like powerful stories of
battle, and political and social strife that lead to thought-provoking,
Return to Index
978-1-956019-25-4 $15.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
The concept of Fitlosophy
evolved from the intersection of philosophy and despair
and originated with the psychologist author's struggle with fitness and
life questions. As she surveys her life challenges, drawing new
between revised purposes and an overall philosophical inspection, she
these lessons to readers.
In essence, Fitlosophy is applied
philosophy: "From the processing of
how I felt by taking charge of my lifestyle and making small,
differences to the way I live and how I wanted to improve myself, I saw
correlation with philosophy and the way many great thinkers, past and
saw the need to cultivate one’s own inner garden as a way to pursue a
fortuitous, fruitful life."
Discourses link the basics of daily living
to different philosophical inquiries to create a vivid set of
readers can use to apply philosophical wisdom to everyday living: "The Aristotelian Fitlosopher,
therefore, has a good grasp on what habit change entails and tends to
comprehend the underpinning benefits of moderation. It’s not so much
they’re “naturally disciplined,” but much like Aristotle, they believe
order to succeed in achieving their goals, they must continually
certain habits in order to obtain a specific outcome."
Different approaches to life intersect as Thomas
links the basic premises of diverse philosopher minds to moral,
and psychological choices in viewing and living modern life: "Kierkegaardian Fitlosophers appreciate
the need for this life period in order for them to understand and
structure and purpose. This is where the ethical life stage comes in."
It's unusual to find a book that covers so
many seemingly disparate subjects (mental health, physical fitness, and
of philosophical thoughts).
can do so adeptly and with a flair that will appeal to philosophy
fitness and self-help readers, and anyone interested in inquiry
conducted on a
deeper level makes it highly recommended not just for a singular
for a wider group of all ages. Basically, anyone interested in the
happiness and the moral and ethical quandaries that are often part of
Library collections strong in self-help,
philosophy, fitness, and mental improvement will find enthusiastic
patrons for Fitlosophy.
Return to Index
& Other Paramoural Experiences
Ghosted: Dating & Other Paramoural
Experiences blends a memoir
with a guidebook on dating and matters of the heart. It explores Jana
Eisenstein's forays into meeting men and searching for a meaningful
relationship in her thirties, adding references to ghosts and humor to
story that is refreshingly, compellingly different from other dating
For example: the
chapter headings pertain to dating experiences, from 'Equal Opportunity
Exploiter' to 'Hardball' and 'Wishful Thinking'. Any woman who has
dating game with losers will readily relate to many of Eisenstein's
perceptions, and experiences.
Her sense of
humor brings these stories to life with hard-hitting, succinct
is exhausting. I had just ended things with The Face Licker and was in
desperate need of a vacation."
friends circle around, both supportive and curious about her trials: "That
summer, after making a clean break from The Face Licker, I joined my
the Plaza Hotel. I was looking forward to a week of relaxation, but
prepared myself for several days of intrusive questions about my dating
My brother, sister, and their spouses were joining us later that week,
would then hopefully distract my parents from my dating
relationships unfold and often explode, readers will find her
familiar and thought-provoking as friends and family serve as sounding
of experience and advice themselves.
Is it possible to
learn from dating mistakes made in one's twenties to find a lasting
relationship in one's thirties?
navigating the treacherous waters of dating will find much to laugh at,
over, and understand in Ghosted: Dating & Other
It takes a hard look at expectations, experiences, and the uncertain
psychological impacts of dating men who may or may not prove a good fit.
collection strong in women's issues or self-help, as well as those
humorous memoirs, will find Ghosted: Dating & Other
Experiences a fun and thought-provoking read, all in one.
Return to Index
in an Age of Crisis
CJS Hayward Publications
$19.99 Hardcover/$12.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Happiness in an Age of Crisis: Ancient
Wisdom from the Eastern Orthodox Church joins others in the Orthodox
'Best Works' series to provide theology readers with keys to better
modern times. It is particularly accessible and applicable to the
these COVID years.
Happiness in an Age of Crisis opens
with a series of life admonitions, old and new, that conclude that "Our social program is the Trinity. The
Orthodox martial art is living the Sermon on the Mount." Then
reviews some core principles of Scripture, drawing important
Orthodox thinkers and the interpretations of God's word that lead to
CJS Hayward's enlightening inspections
address everything from worry ("...Do
not worry for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor
your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and
than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do
reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are
much better than they? Do you think you can add one single hour to your
worrying? You might as well try to worry your way into being a foot
to finding joy during hard times (this quote is from the Classic
in an Age of Crisis, as his other books,
Hayward's trademark lucid and profound depth.
Insights from the lives and choices of
St.Philaret and others, examples from the Sermon on the Mount and other
spiritual guidelines, and Christian reflections that encourage
understanding all lend to insights and uplifting reflections that
thinkers need to reflect upon.
Among the potentially large readership
likely to find Happiness
in an Age of Crisis an
attraction, there are
three major audiences for this work. First (and primary) is Eastern
particular; the second is Christians as a whole, and third is
spirituality readers interested in what the Eastern Orthodox Church has
offer, including many types of the “not religious but spiritual” camps.
intended to be lucid to inquirers and people interested in Eastern
and those wishing to better understand it, but all the more from
understands the tradition deeply and well.
for theology discussion groups as
well as individual contemplation, Happiness in an Age of Crisis applies many principles of Christian
thinking to modern controversies in a manner readily accessible to lay
as well as scholarly audiences involved in Bible or Orthodox study.
wisdom and insight on how to handle crisis and find happiness in every
circumstance of life offers important contemporary reflections that
should be a
part of any thinking Christian reader's collection. Its deep knowledge
topic many people are very interested in makes it accessible to both a
spiritual and a wider audience of lay readers across spiritual
Return to Index
Anna Mitchell Hall
Cane Mill Press
978-1-7375604-3-2 $6.99 ebook/$9.99 paperback
Life After: Finding
And Spirit In Unexpected Change is a testimony to facing challenging changes with
courage and hope.
Typically, such books center on loss. Anna Mitchell Hall's focus is on
types of transformative change (whether they stem from loss or vastly
directions in life) which bring with them new opportunities for
faith and life's meaning.
explore the skills for surviving and thriving life, Christian readers
keys to adaptation and how to tap into the kinds of religious support
concepts, and actions that keep them moving onward and upward.
or even religious does not automatically translate to flexibility. The
needs to be made to adapt to, grow from, and embrace life expereinces: "As Christians, we are called to set
our hearts and minds in such a way as to be receptive to the inbreaking
of God. This can be one of the biggest challenges of our faith. Loving
neighbor is no picnic but being open to changing our preferences and
is a whole other ball game. We all have opportunities to be transformed
changes that come into our lives. Yet many of us, and many of the
we are a part of, remain stubbornly static, unchanged, and even raging
the change that comes to our doors."
deeper into the riches and wisdom of transformation, readers begin to
important inspirational connections between Christian belief, life's
progression and challenges, and the choices involved in adopting
contribute to the world in a positive way.
clearly delineated and analyzed. These lessons also present room for
and daily admonitions ("What might
you need to let go of to make room for change?") as they
various ways—by example, author experiences and insights, those of
heard of or encountered on her journey, and the intersection of
a specific, inspirational blueprint to improving their own journeys
catastrophic loss or change will find Life
After even more pertinent and necessary in a world challenged
by COVID and
other paradigm-altering events.
Life After should be in Christian and self-help
collections alike as a solid inspection of the routes that may be taken
mitigate depression and fatalistic thinking.
Return to Index
Old Testament Readings & Devotionals,
C.M.H. Koenig (compiler)
C.M.H. Koenig Books
Old Testament Readings
Devotionals, Volume 7 continues C.M.H. Koenig's multi-volume
focus on the Bible, providing discussions centered on the books of
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, 2 Chronicles, Joel, Jonah, Amos, and Hosea.
Psalms are peppered into these readings, as well. Followers of the
volumes will want to pursue this addition to the series as it continues
methodical analysis of selected passages.
As in the prior books, the enlightening
discussions come from the writings of Robert Hawker, Charles H.
Footnoted references refer back to the Bible
for those who would embark on further reading, while the accompanying
from Hawker, Spurgeon and Winslow more closely examine Bible
intentions and interpretations of their lives, and the actions and
God to these disparate lives.
analytical passage provides food for thought. This will delight readers
a reasoned analysis that links to their own daily lives, conflicts, and
of salvation, sin, and spiritual strength.
particular, outlines the successive history of Biblical figures, the
of God in the hearts and minds of his people, and the daily events that
them. The close inspection linking Biblical events and verses to
of how God operates within the soul and in the world allows readers to
Biblical interpretation from three distinct viewpoints.
The result may all have been written
centuries ago, but is here synthesized and presented in a form designed
appeal to busy readers interested in spirituality, Bible
inspections that consider the foundations of faith and inspiration.
rich keys to making these associations between God's word and its
Volume 7 joins a formidable and inviting,
scholarly discourse that is highly recommended for Christian readers
discussion groups alike.
Return to Index
Old Testament Readings & Devotionals,
C.M.H. Koenig (compiler)
C.M.H. Koenig Books
The 8th volume of Old Testament Readings &
Devotionals continues C.M.H. Koenig's survey of the Bible and includes
2 Chronicles, Micah, Isaiah, and Psalms. The invasion of Israel by
provides the historical backdrop, while prophecies by Micah and Isaiah
the spiritual component of this segment of time.
As in his other devotionals and readings,
besides quotes from Biblical passages, the commentary and reflections
Hawker, Charles H. Spurgeon, and Octavius Winslow reflect on God's
linking them to modern trials of faith and daily living to help
readers savor the Bible's meaning in a revised manner.
The key verses selected for each day are
from the Christian Standard Bible, and are italicized for quick
reference and differentiation
from the accompanying commentary. This makes it easy on the eyes of
who want to quickly move between the Bible and insights on its passages.
Some scripture references are cited in the
original works and others are not. Those passages quoted within the
come from the King James Version of the Bible.
The historical review and spiritual
commentary is very nicely juxtaposed. This is especially useful for
students who, when consulting these volumes back-to-back in an
will find much food for thought as well as group discussion.
Footnotes clearly credit the specific Bible
references as needed, while the devotionals range from short commentary
lengthy passages of analysis.
Like its predecessors, Volume 8 expands the
knowledge of the times and the Word of God that directed, influenced,
enlightened the people of that era. It also holds important reflections
modern man, making this contribution to the series another highly
addition to a foundation of knowledge that expands understanding of
times and God's directions.
No Christian collection, especially those
where group readings are a mainstay, should be without this and its
Return to Index
Ötzi's Odyssey - The Troubled Soul of a
Neolithic Iceman is
a metaphysical fantasy thriller. It embraces these genres in a manner
intrigue and delight readers looking for something refreshingly
employing a different flavor in timelines that move from modern to
eras and back again.
caveman's mummified body is found trapped in ice, in 1991. What isn't
is his soul, which awakens from its long sleep to find itself in a
an effort to
uncover answers to many questions about his life and reincarnation,
Ötzi journeys from present to past. This brings readers into
perception of caveman conflicts and daily life and the conundrums his
poses not only to that world, but present-day events.
up to see your frozen body. Neil Perry Gordon paints a vivid picture of
awakening: "While I observed a body,
half-buried in the glacial ice, I could not reach out and touch it.
heard the shrieking winds, I could not feel the frigid snow being
into towering drifts. While I shouted my anguish aloud, my words fell
the mountainside. If it is true that I existed, then it must be also
I am not of body."
to answer haunting questions of how his soul remains connected to his
what the purpose of his reincarnation serves, readers follow him a
brings him to Jolly Jane, who joins him and others in this strange
as a murderess, committing others to death because it "helped her
cope." Ötzi sold his soul to the devil in a bargain which has
apparently landed him in this position. Both find themselves
journey through tortured souls, guided by a Voice that seems to inject
purpose to their conditions and present-day dilemmas.
is thought-provoking, action-packed, and thoroughly unpredictable.
wisdom and guidance juxtapose nicely with the adventure component to
readers both entertained and enlightened.
past life and loved ones are channeled in unexpected ways,
Ötzi must find
the courage to follow his calling through past lives and into a future
makes better choices.
enjoy more than casual metaphysical inspection, spiced with the
components of an adventure through past and present realms, will relish
Ötzi's Odyssey. The story is highly
recommended for fantasy, spirituality, and thriller collections alike.
Return to Index
Attack on the Ladies Room
Timothy Perper and Martha Cornog
Paradox: The Attack on the Ladies Room blends mystery with a time travel story and
humor. Agents John and Krylla Smith are experienced in tracking down
for a group operating within a semi-covert government agency.
endeavor, however, involves an investigation of matters far from the
staid approaches to world realities and threats: "And
what is DivEs? It stands for the Division of Esoterica. But
while operating quietly within OIO, it’s not a division of anything,
really, just a loose collection of folks interested in everything from
of Oz to water sprites to little blue men from Mars. Doesn’t matter if
beings are real or not—they might be
real, and that starts to get some high-powered people involved, like
Executive Branch of the government..."
solves embrace everything from lost tricycles to possibilities such as
'paratime.' The descriptions of these paradoxes might challenge readers
harbor less affection for physics explanations: "...wars
in paratime are not so simple as they might be in mere
three-dimensional space. Assume, for argument’s sake, that your target
X at time T, in some tau dimension tau-sub-one. Pop up there, you say,
quick strike, and—whammo. All is said and done, and
you’ve won. Ha. Not
so, not if the enemy also has tau-time capabilities, as they say in the
military. When they find out about your victory at X,T, tau-sub-one,
up in a parallel universe to X,T, tau-sub-one minus 2 minutes and
the instant you show up. You see, we must remember that for any given
a given paraverse, there is an infinity of similar or like events
Only in one of them did you
perhaps achieve the victory you wanted."
who enjoy science and speculative works injected with thriller and
components, who relish challenging scientific observations and
set against an action-packed backdrop, will find Paradox:
The Attack on the Ladies Room just the ticket.
forget the humor. It laces through the adventure, spices the missing
situation involving Krylla, and draws readers with a sassy,
that is wry and revealing all in one.
Many of the descriptions seem like weighty run-on sentences, but incorporate vivid descriptions that are detailed, yet accessible: "In those emerging Innoryas where Krylla herself was listening to Yvor, she was indeed impressed by his scenario. She readily envisioned herself dashing down darkened alleys, woboes at her heels, breathless, hurrying through the gloom amidst sullen beggars and drunken revelers who grabbed at her while making leering remarks— (Krylla, too, had her kaleidoscopic moments, and she visualized herself simultaneously kicking one of the leering revelers and slitting a random brigand’s throat with a Malayan kris that had materialized out of nowhere)—and then, leaping over the sodden body of a gshthwk addict (a terrible drug, invented by Krylla solely for the purposes of the scenario, that degrades the soul while destroying the body: O woe!) and seeing ahead the lights of the local Paratime Troop headquarters, suddenly—snaffle!—there opens up a Wessel time trap—"
there is complex language, intriguing paradoxes, and a story that is
science-laden and weighty. But these elements are tempered by a
through time and space that is satisfyingly unpredictable, filled with
and turns to keep readers guessing about the outcome.
Paradox: The Attack on the Ladies Room is highly recommended for readers who like
sci-fi and time travel mysteries laced with a side order of jokes that
the story's complexity. The result is a fun atmosphere overlying a
and time travel fiction readers will find that Paradox:
The Attack on the Ladies Room steps out of the boundaries
and comfort zones of these genres to represent a unique blend of
surrounding, for example, the Origin of the Capsillon transmitter, and
invented what, somewhen.
Return to Index
Surviving Workplace Bullying…Strategies for
979-8782115852 $12.95 Paper/$9.95 Kindle
Many books cover bullying, but typically are
focused on school experiences; so it's refreshing to see an
coverage that exposes one of the more common experiences adults face:
bullying. It's even more refreshing to see an approach that goes beyond
providing examples of this experience to delve into what victims can do
Articles, reports, and studies form the
basis of this analysis of workplace pressures. From definitions of
bullying to especially vulnerable workers (such as the elderly), these
supporting articles drive and provide extensive references for
understanding, and alleviating bullying issues.
From financial impacts of workplace bullying
to how workplace dysfunction often begins from the top and how workers
alike can instigate changes to eliminate it, Sherman has done all the
powerful online references that cover all aspects of the issue.
He organizes them into subject categories
that make it easy for users to receive specific insights into
suicide and the psychology of bullies to legal approaches for handling
Most of these references will not become
dated over time, but will remain relevant, important keys to addressing
workplace bullying on many different levels.
Library collections strong in business and
legal references will find this analysis of the presence and forms of
bullying and how to effectively neutralize them provides essential
that managers and workers alike will want to review.
Return to Index
Creative James Media
978-1-7353926-3-9 $12.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
dreamed of flying, in childhood: a memory that rarely surfaces in
adulthood. But, in The Winged Child,
Appalachian girl Millicent McTeer does more than dream. She realizes
dreams when she is forced to create a new life and identity as politics
only topic in The Winged Child, a
tale of magical realism that embraces humans who can be dragons,
not with Millicent's changing world, but with Wendl's dream of walking
into danger. From the start, descriptions weave between fantasy and
Wendl faces his fear and finds it's actually a device from the real
world: "The vibration swelled and gathered
into an audible rumble. The darkness ahead paled into a gray fog,
the railbed where Wendl stood. The rails either side of him gleamed in
rising light, and the rumble gathered and grew into a deafening roar
voice of a dragon. Wendl turned to behold the blinding and terrible eye
down upon him. He might have taken it for a dragon, but there were no
yet among the Fallen. It was only a train, and Wendl was standing in
introductory encounter, it should be apparent that readers are in for a
Henry Mitchell's vivid visionary descriptions and his characters both
life as characters face the boundaries between reality, fantasy, and
that demand they transform on many different levels, both personally
elements embedded within the tale make it attractive to fantasy
would be a shame to limit The Winged
Child to these readers by pegging it as a fantasy alone.
thought-provoking social, political, and psychological insights to draw
delight readers across genres, posing questions that even tread lightly
spiritual realms as Millicent finds other travelers on her path and
wonder if her choices, life, and actions are being influenced and
from all kinds of unexpected places: "...the
plants had become his prevailing preoccupation, to the extent that Eric
become, to all who knew him in Laurel, Eric Treetalker. When he was not
his garden, he was thinking about it. When he was asleep, he dreamed
“There’s a deeper language in them,” he tried to explain to Millicent.
“Something more subtle than the few words we catch. They want to teach
we don’t have the tools to learn.”
presence that Millicent taps to the process by which others uncover
special gifts, the Appalachian world and that of fantasy blossom and
a compelling saga of journeys, changes, and layers of worlds that
our own. Peel them away for a profoundly thought-provoking story that
roots in both reality and other dimensions.
“The past is ever within touch, Dry McTeer,”
he said. “That was your first lesson. The past is as near as the future
future is only the becoming of our present unfolding. As there are
leading us from place to place, so there are ways between times, that
to see if we pay attention to our journey.”
"I’ve paid attention,” Millicent said quietly, making a statement rather than an argument. “The times, on closer inspection all turned out to look the same.”
Return to Index
Kate S. Martin
Creative James Media
978-1-956183-90-0 $12.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
rare that a
book title is catchy enough to mention in a review, but Are
You Okay, Elliot Hart? grabs the young adult reader,
something different, and finishes the job by juxtaposing two disparate
that embark on a journey together: a bully and a victim.
("Matchstick") has spent the last years of his life "making
himself invisible." He's fine-tuned the art of vanishing into the
woodwork, caring for his mother at home and hiding from school bully
harbors his own secrets and reasons for acting out.
impossible that these two could set off on a shared experience, given
they perform in public, but their hidden pain and secrets create an
situation when both independently decide to leave for the big city, and
explores these disparate experiences and viewpoints in alternating
clearly marked with each young narrator's name, making it easy to move
their experiences and perspectives.
some intriguing twists, as Josh finds himself the victim much in the
treated Elliot: "I prepare myself
for the worst, tell myself I deserve this. For all the crap I’ve given
Matchstick over the years, I deserve this."
taps their hidden powers, reassesses his choices and options, and finds
and surprising insights from the changed relationship with one another.
creates an interplay of emotions and experience that provides young
with both action and thought-provoking moments as she considers
victims, and their dreams.
blossoming romantic interests with girls to Elliot's transformation
victim to someone with purpose and courage, teens will find much to
relish in Are You Okay, Elliot Hart?
Elliot the courage to speak out: “Please,
next time you look over at the fat kid, the quiet kid, the smelly kid,
the mean kid. Please, stop for a moment and ask why?"
Are You Okay, Elliot Hart? features the rare ability to impart
understanding that empowers the shy, the victim, and the bully alike.
highly recommended reading for young adults who would better understand
lies behind the emotional responses of those around them.
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Laura Anne Bird
Orange Hat Publishing
9781645382836 $18.95 Hardcover/$12.95 Paper
Crossing the Pressure Line tells of twelve-year-old Clare Burch's loss
of her beloved grandfather and how this changes her world, following
her Chicago home to rural Wisconsin as she seeks to honor her
component of Clare's loss is that she feels that she should have been
save Grandfather Anthony. And, history threatens to repeat itself as
confronts her strengths and weaknesses and the possibility that she
really rescue much of anything.
with Grandma Lulu and faces the fact that her friends are far away,
help her, Clare tests her courage and abilities. She embarks on a
unfamiliar territory powered by her grandfather's last wishes and his
gives middle grade readers a multifaceted story that examines a feisty
girl's upward momentum as she works through her grief and faces new
opportunities during a summer that changes everything.
Clare begins to set forth goals and solutions to her problems in a
manner. This allows her to process her grief and loss when her
contemplates further changes that will take even more away from their
account of loss and adjustments stands head and shoulders above most
grade stories of family grief. It recounts not just Clare's adaptations
challenges, but those of her family, as everyone makes different, new
for their futures.
receive a richer examination of the ripples caused by a death in the
than most similar reads offer. They will find Crossing
the Pressure Line a compelling story that embraces not
one, but the many facets of loss and change. Its consideration of
systems and how all ages may both offer and use them lends to a story
thoroughly absorbing and thought-provoking as it reveals Clare's
Return to Index
Eli and the
Mystery of the Hallowshine Dragon
Twenty Two House Publishing
978-1-7779088-1-2 $14.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Eli and the Mystery of the Hallowshine
Dragon is the whimsical
fantasy story of Eli, a "strange yet adventurous creature who deeply
for all the animals of the enchanted forest."
feathered ears and purple eyes to a beautiful night forest where a
evolves ("Strange sugar crystals had begun coating the forest
turning anyone who touched them into hard rock candy."), Eve
crafts a gorgeous picture book story packed with magic, from shooting
legends to a wise grandfather who may hold the key to a rock candy
choose Eli and the Mystery of the Hallowshine Dragon
for read-aloud will
find plenty of detail accompanying the lovely illustrations, an
includes sound effects and dialogue between characters, and a dragon
sadness may be contributing to the dilemma Eli and her bunny friend
as their friends turn into rock candy.
unicorns, and magic...what's not to love? All these trappings of a fine
adventure include plenty of detail to bring this world to life,
with a mystery that sends Eli and her friends on a journey through
Success is not a
given and not set in stone, and that is is one of the more delightful
to this story. Added attraction lies in its depth and descriptions,
not to one night's read-aloud adventure, but many.
Kids who choose
this book's paragraphs of action and description for individual pursuit
adults who pick it for read-aloud will find the saga evocative, warm,
thought-provoking beyond its adventure component.
Eli and the Mystery of the Hallowshine
Dragon is highly
recommended for libraries and adults seeking more depth and detail from
picture book choices than is usually presented for younger audiences.
and its exceptionally lovely drawings, make for a standout book that's
Return to Index
A Fairy on My Sleeve
Picture book readers who enjoy stories about
fairies will find A Fairy on My Sleeve
an attractive tale of magic, with illustrations by David Gnass bringing
story to life.
Mari Sherkin's gentle rhyme introduces the
possibilities of finding magic in the everyday world with an invitation
to observe the world closely: "If
you look closely through the green/there are wonders to be seen:/that
glimmer in the sky/caught from the corner of your eye."
The story is narrated by an adult, who
reflects on her childhood belief in magic and her adult decision not to
in or read fairy tales any longer...until something happens to change
As she explores a delightful, strange world
right under her nose, kids and read-aloud adults receive a charming
magic, observation, and an adult's determination to prove something
considered to be impossible.
A Fairy on My Sleeve is a compelling story that takes a different approach to not just fairies, but the contrasts between magic, reality, and believing in something different.
The gorgeous drawings highlight the
examination of adult pragmatism and the conversion to believing in new
bringing a delightful blend of whimsy and thought-provoking wonder to
their adult readers alike.
A Fairy on My Sleeve
is recommended for all ages (whether they believe in magic or not), and
young reader library collections seeking a different mix of adult and
perspectives about the world.
Return to Index
Flippity Floppity Wing
Hayden K. Billingy
Sugar Apple Books
When Butterfly loses her wing in the picture
book tale Flippity Floppity Wing,
suddenly everything changes.
She's used to dancing and singing joyously
as she flies over the flowers, until one wing becomes stuck on a branch
pulls away, leaving her crippled.
Hayden K. Billingy explores Butterfly's loss
and suddenly-changed life through appealing rhymes: “Oh,
my wing! My wing! My flippity-floppity wing! Where can I go
without my wing? Oh, what an awful, awful thing to happen to my
A wise owl offers advice, and other forest
creatures try to help her mend her wing and return her to the life she
but all seems lost. Without her wing, she is land-bound and cannot fly
As the story progresses, young picture book
readers receive an astute examination of loss, grief, and growth that
them understand both choices in reacting to adversity and different
possibilities inherent in changed conditions.
Julia Sarapata de Carvalho's lovely
illustrations capture the little butterfly girl's world in vibrant
injecting a multicultural, visual perspective into the story of loss
Parents will find the book's uplifting message, lilting rhyme, and portrait of maintaining positivity and adjusting well to even the devastating circumstances in life is especially relevant as COVID changes the world.
This unusual opportunity to teach important
lessons to young picture book readers should be on the shelves of any
looking for picture book portraits of positivity and courage.
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Cami Murdock Jensen
Primedia eLaunch LLC
$26.99 Hardcover/$17.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
is the fourth addition to the Arch Mage series for young adults and
the fantasy adventures that place Agnes Anne Cavanaugh, who is in the
a whirlwind of controversy and trials.
Despite her prior achievements, all is not
peaceful nor well in the Fourth Earth environment. Magic is fading, a
dragon is rising from initial defeat, and rival factions are
contributing to the
demise of magic in the world.
Sharir is well on the way to taking over and
enslaving the universe. Only Agnes stands in the way. But, how can she
Because Fourth Earth is a series addition,
newcomers might believe they need to absorb the prior adventures in
successfully enjoy this latest title. While such a foundation adds
understanding to these events, it's not a requirement. Cami Murdock
draws readers with compelling imagery and deftly sets the stage for a
that stands as strongly on its own as it does as part of the series: "I always imagined battlefields as
gloomy, barren shores stripped of joy and life. The dark images I
while doing online history lessons were probably inspired by tragically
artistic movies. In truth, nature didn’t change its patterns for
trivial as a battle. Oceans rolled sparkling waves into white sands
perfect regularity. The sun still shone, and the breeze still blew—even
days giant sea serpents slithered out of emerald waves with the
purpose of killing you. Which resulted in the sad fact that I had no
enjoy the spectacular scenery of Fourth Earth. No designer sunglasses
bikinis for me. Only flexible, mesh armor and magical weaponry. No
some rays and pretending to be a normal teenager. I fought for my life
lives of the whole universe."
As Tenmon, Bean, and others interact, Agnes
Ann Cavanaugh, Angel of the Jent Paths, confronts demon invasions,
sties, and kelpie warriors in magical battles that will delight young
fantasy readers seeking a blend of action and coming of age story.
The vivid images of magic called forth in
battle and friendships, and strengths tested by them, creates a
replete with swift action, satisfying twists of plot, a range of
each support or defy their destinies, and a magical battlefield where
drawn in the past are overcome by present-day, changing circumstances.
Jensen is particularly adept at reviewing
the special challenges Agnes and her friends face as the world
around them, challenging their responses to it and the strengths they
to rely on.
Her special brand of action and high drama,
laced with a storm of tainted magic and individual courage, will
newcomers and prior fans alike, and is especially recommended for
libraries that have seen popularity with the previous stories.
Young patrons will find the story continues
its story of an uncertain future, concluding with a cliffhanger that
Agnes poised for a different kind of world in the final series title to
come, False Earth and creating
gripping fantasy that proves hard to put down...or predict.
Return to Index
Ghosts of the Hindu Kush
Black Ship Publishing
$23.20 Hardcover/$9.95 Paper/$6.99 ebook
Ghosts of the Hindu Kush
provides kids ages 9-12 with a historical adventure that is best read
sequence with the others in the Red Hand Adventures series, because
people will find that each book in this ongoing saga builds from and
its foundation from its predecessors.
who have relished Thieves
of the Black Sea and
others in this series will find Ghosts of
the Hindu Kush continues the saga of young mariner
Aseem, and Fez as they finish their Black Sea crossing and
enter Russia on
see a young reader saga that traverses international waters and
this story provides many refreshingly original facets that set it apart
the usual middle grade story, blending real-world scenarios with action
crosses seas and involves its characters in many challenges.
events are historically accurate, the characters are fictional, their
compelling lives vividly depicted to attract and maintain attention in
readers attracted to vibrant, dramatic stories.
with a detailed recap of recent adventures: "Barely
escaping death after being pulled from the sea by the jovial Greek
sailor, Captain Scopas, all three boys—Tariq, Fez, and Aseem—are
nursed back to health. On a mission to help Scopas, they navigate the
maze of streets in ancient Constantinople with the help of local
Pakize, determined to settle an old score with Abdullah Ozek, the evil
trader and ruthless gangster terrorizing the city and acting as muscle
corrupt sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Inez’s capture by German spies,
Margaret’s effort to save her, results in hot pursuit on a long trek
Germany trying to get home to St. Catherine’s in France."
meant to replace a reading of the earlier books, but to remind readers
events. This sets the stage for a smooth introduction to this latest
which focuses on international politics, a mission that affects them
ravaged European landscape of World War I, and more adventures.
assassins, and special interests permeate a tale that is all the more
because much of it is based on real-world events.
education in political and social challenges as they absorb this
"And what kind of life will you
lead? He’ll be a fugitive, and they’re constantly on the lookout for
deserters. You’ll be aiding an enemy, and the army doesn’t look kindly
that, even if you are a nurse.” Inez stopped what she was doing and
Alice. “Technically, I’m a civilian and can leave as I choose. Reinhold
dead, at least according to the military. He died by firing squad in a
field, then was buried in an anonymous grave with a hundred others.”
he’ll draw suspicion. Every boy his age is expected to enlist in the
progress, a touch of the supernatural added to the plot keeps readers
toes and engaged via unpredictable twists.
battles, calls for courage, and exotic lands...all the elements are in
for a rollicking good read that defies the usual staid approach of the
historical novel, spicing action with unexpected intrigue and fantasy
both entertaining and educational, providing a thought-provoking
incorporates moral and ethical conundrums over choices and consequences
story that calls upon the young adventurers to step up to adulthood in
the door well open for a new beginning in another book.
series also holds a social benefit: a portion of proceeds from the sale
the Red Hand Adventures books will be donated to
help the many
impoverished and enslaved children in the world.
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Tess M Jackson
Onyx Prose Publishing
$16.99 Hardcover/$12.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
readers who enjoy stories of undersea encounters will relish Imani's Undersea Adventure. The story
opens with a young girl's visit to an aquarium with her grandfather,
views scary sharks.
grandfather teaches her that the shark is more amazing than scary,
a marine biologist feeding them inside the tank. She and young readers
more about shark biology, studies, and history, which dovetails with
grandfather's review of their heritage and those who were forced onto
ships in Africa to be brought to America.
much more than natural history in a story that embraces human and
affairs. It teaches kids about science, research methods, historical
examination, and modern dilemmas (such as the fact that many African
don't know how to swim).
have to do with sharks? As Imani comes to realize truths about more
sharks, she fosters a deeper appreciation of her heritage and
opportunities, and develops a new goal, as a result of this information.
may anticipate the adventure that revolves around confrontation and
problem-solving from the book's title, but Imani's
Undersea Adventure offers so much more. It's an adventure
fear, heritage, opportunity, and revised experiences.
Imani's Undersea Adventure is highly recommended for picture book
libraries seeking inclusive fiction about strong young Black girls who
about new opportunities via lessons from the past.
note about engagement and understanding links past and present to help
youngsters understand how the past influences present-day choices and
opportunities, with the possibility of changing the world.
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James Bone: The Awesome Allosaurus Adventure
"The name is Bone—James
Bone. 007-year-old and licensed to dig."
With this opening admonition, a rollicking
adventure evolves involving dinosaurs, young investigator
paleontologists, and readers
who love stories about finding fossils, in James
Bone: The Awesome Allosaurus Adventure. This
is the first in an 8-book Series, all to be available by Spring of
2022. Each features different U.S., Canada, or other country locations,
and amazing dinosaur, and more educational, rambunctious adventures for
Pick, Shovel, and Diggy the dog!
A team of young investigators and their pets
awaken to the morning, jazzed about their new dig. The paleontologist
assigns them to their "big dig gig" in the Dinosaur Badlands and
charges them with finding an allosaurus fossil.
Carole Marsh injects fun puns, wordplay,
action words and dialogue, and drama into this picture book story ("Hey! Dr. Archie Ologist is here to meet us!").
The Jurassic Badlands Boneyard the kids
enter sports a sign that declares: "Population: 0 people, 15 million
As the dig team searches the biggest pile of
dinosaur remains ever found for one special fossil, readers receive a
dinosaur and palentological facts couched in vivid, action-packed
James Bone: The Awesome
Allosaurus Adventure looks like a graphic novel, which makes it
especially inviting to reluctant young readers, but it employs the
action of adventure wound into real-life facts about dinosaur digs and
achieving goals via teamwork.
There's even an evil villain.
All these elements create an engaging read
that introduces youngsters to the world of dinosaur digs through an
that is vividly narrated, compellingly illustrated by Lee Barrow, and
Even youngsters who normally eschew
nonfiction facts and most picture book stories will find the format and
drama-laced James Bone: The Awesome
Allosaurus Adventure especially appealing.
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Just Like Magic
Victor D.O. Santos
978-1-64962-118-4 (PB, $12.99)
978-1-64962-127-6 (HC, $23.99)
Just Like Magic
works picture book magic on young readers as it pairs the story of a
platypus with bright, whimsical illustrations by Iryna Kazakova.
Nino isn't afraid of anything...in his
dreams. But reality is somewhat different, and as he is rejected by
spurn his invitation to be friends, he encounters a magic genie who can
him anything he desires. Or, can he?
The clever genie's solutions come with an
admonition that Nino just can't seem to follow. Can magic abilities
him confidence and strength?
Parents who choose this engaging story as a
read-aloud will welcome and relish its lesson for the very young
The understandable dilemmas Nino faces as he
confronts the world translates to information youngsters need to absorb
muster their own courage to deal with threats, bullying, and adversity.
Adults looking for a strong message within
an engaging story will find that Just
Like Magic works wonders for enlightening the young about
courage and self-confidence.
Maybe even magic.
Return to Index
978-1916118119 $8.99 paper/.99 ebook
see adventures for ages 7-12 set in Russia, but Mishka
holds special appeal for dog lovers as well as sporting an
unusual setting. Kids receive an education about the geography and
Russia ("June in the Russian north was as warm as December was
cold.") as they read about dog Mishka's crime-busting exploits.
but on a bigger scale. Mishka becomes involved in bank robberies,
and thieves, and saves children.
a dog story
isn't all that is happening in Mishka.
Mike Maroney takes the time to explore the emotions and growth of those
Mishka, as well: "Max was sorry for
being cross at Natasha. If there's one thing that makes you feel big,
someone being scared when you're not."
of psychological inspection and keys to understanding interpersonal
communications makes Mishka much
than the story of a superhero dog. It's a study in bullying,
relationship-building, and best friends and family that brings all
elements into a vivid tale.
initially choose Mishka because of
their love for dogs, but ultimately they will pursue the story because
descriptions of love between people and animals alike.
direct kids to Mishka will find its
warmth and Russian backdrop simply delightful.
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My Dad, My Rock
Victor D.O. Santos
978-1-64962-122-1 (PB, $12.99)
978-1-64962-131-3 (HC, $23.99)
Dad, My Rock, Oliver has never met his grandfather. What
would he do, if he
did? Oliver would tell him about his own father and how amazing an
dad has been in his young life. And so the nuts and bolts of a
approach to celebrating fathers emerges, with a refreshingly different
perspective than most father/son/grandparent stories.
In this story, young Oliver not only has
never met his grandfather, but the man disappeared from his own
So, what could a grandchild envision as a conversation with a blood
who's a personal stranger?
There's no greater gift than sharing. Oliver
begins reflecting on his father's many strengths: "My
dad has two eyes, two arms and two legs, like most other dads.
But sometimes I think he has at least five of each. Even when I am
he always knows what I am doing. If I let go of his hand, he always
Sometimes I call him Octopus Dad. If I hurt myself, he runs to me
faster than a
monkey when it sees a banana."
As he reviews the kinds of experiences his
own dad has brought to enrich his world, Oliver also reveals essential
passed to him from his "rock solid" father: "He
says some people say real men don’t cry. I think men who don’t
cry aren’t real."
The result is a beautiful and compellingly
different approach to celebrating fathers and their ability to be
and contribute to a child's life.
Many, many books have been written about
father/son relationships. Few hold the ability to grasp and present the
essential features of a relationship built on not just love, but being
being a teacher, and being a supportive "rock" that imparts important
basics on what it means to lovingly guide a child.
Even though Oliver's dad did not have such a
figure in his own life, he grew up to provide all the missing links to
who here both recognizes and celebrates these opportunities to learn,
interact with his father in positive ways.
Yes, many picture books for kids explore
love between fathers and sons. But few are so specific, engaging, and
realistically reflective as My Dad, My
The story reinforces how and why a father's
presence in a child's life is so critical to his development, making
exceptional read that is highly recommended. It should be critical,
reading for any age who would better understand the important role of a
in the family.
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Penny the Horse...Of Course!
Paperback: $11.99; Hardcover: $21.99; Ebook: $4.99
"A pig is a pig and a horse is a
horse." This introduction to the picture book story seems obvious,
young readers and their parents come to realize that this concept of
challenged by the only pig on a horse form.
Penny well realizes that she's not a horse.
But, being the only one of her kind makes her lonely. It's just not fun
different in a crowd of creatures that obviously share many interests
And so Penny hatches a plan. All she needs
is a little hay, a little glue, and a lot of determination.
Parents who choose Tatiana Christie's Penny
the Horse...Of Course! will find, within its whimsical title
and premise, a
colorful exploration of loneliness, differences, and determination.
Illustrations by Alexandra Rusu complement this
lovely story of loneliness and making adjustments in order to invite
relationships that account for, adjust to, and celebrate differences.
Parents will relish its message of
problem-solving, diversity, and companionship.
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The Seekers: Soul Ties will appeal to fantasy readers who like
their adventure stories fast-paced and action-packed, but it also
unusual format. It takes the form of two stories of couples who face
challenges as they tackle changing threats from the natural world they
they knew well.
and Iskrila are forced to go to war to
protect their village when a new force hits. They are igni: a fast,
creature on this world which sports "two
legs ending with hooves, two arms, but also a tail. Unlike animals who
all fours, the igni, as any sapient species of the Lands, preferred to
upright, meaning on two legs. Each igni was two meters tall, wide and
making them the second strongest and biggest sapient species." They
are unique, creative makers whose curiosity can either pose trouble or
solution to the challenging new threats that plague the world.
Maria and Bacara's lives (they are also igni) revolve around a different village world. They, too, face mysterious attackers who seem to have no specific reason for decimating their village. The only solution involves a quest to gain control of magical artifacts that may hold power to protect their village from the attack or some other useful ability.
With various clans, good allies, dangerous enemies, unique species, close friendships, different goals, desires, and perspectives, Anton Anderson crafts a complex, appealing world. He peppers his story with black and white illustrations that add visual context to its characters and setting.
ancient, mysterious temples with magical doorways that lead you where
command them, magical fountains that become full of running water at
single wish, and books that are crafted unnaturally well. There are
with diverse species and a variety of colorful and dangerous flora and
their quest involves satisfying their curiosity about the world and
their courage and responses to it as all four move outside their
comfort zones and into realms where the rules no longer apply.
seems a simple quest tale on one hand, but draws readers with a complex
setting and evolving relationships that often give pause for thought.
new alliances test everyone and bring with them new dilemmas as the
the artifacts becomes evident.
this new force to save the world, or will they transform it?
these igni face within themselves and between one another makes for an
involving fantasy that paints an involving picture of creatures
the land, but somewhat disconnected from one another.
that drives them into unfamiliar territory is recommended reading for
fans from advanced middle school grades well into adult circles.
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Sockboy: The Halloween Special
Karl "Ultrakarl" Cottle
Sockboy: The Halloween
provides the second Sockboy picture book adventure for children who
stories and superheroes, providing some surprising insights into
purpose in life and compassion towards others. It's surprising because
elements are typically not found in a Halloween story.
While some might believe that familiarity
with the first Sockboy book is a requirement for enjoying this
is not the case. It stands nicely on its own, packed with appealing
illustrations by Karl "Ultrakarl" Cottle.
Sockboy loves Halloween, and has an
action-packed evening planned. From watching scary movies usually
him to selecting just the right costume to reflect his persona,
insights on Halloween fun inject thought-provoking inspections into the
event: "I'll look in the mirror and
ask,/"Who are you?"/A costume's important;/it's a uniform too."
In fact, the costume selection assumes
special importance, because Sockboy realizes that it will reflect to
his inner self, whether it be monster, hero, or something
During the process of amassing more candy on
Halloween night than other children, Sockboy witnesses a crime. What
can he do?
Cottle again couches some important lessons
in being proactive, compassionate, and solving problems. While these
tackled in the guise of a young superhero's persona, they are presented
way that informs youngsters that they, too, can be superheroes who make
in the world.
As he observes victim and bully, Sockboy's
compassion grows: "Now they're
getting shoved/like those kids before./All bullies got pushed,/so they
Picture book readers and read-aloud adults
may choose this story for its Halloween theme, but will be delighted to
offers so much more. Its education about the roots of bullying and
what to do about it provides an invaluable lesson on understanding,
a compelling tale that, once again, follows a boy's exploration of how
truly be a superhero in the world not by crushing evil, but
tackling its roots.
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Tails From Down Under is a lively story about Paradise Royale, a
girl who lives in Ophelia's Orphanage in Paris. Not the Paris of coffee
cafes, but the underside of town, where the forgotten reside.
family comes to the orphanage to adopt her, specifically. And
chapter sets the stage for her adoption and move to America, but the
this tale actually begins nine years later.
will not anticipate the results of Paradise's transformation. She's
Los Angeles, barely recalls her French language and heritage, and
becoming a model with her best friend, eschewing school and failing
parents don't support her goals, and favor their birth son: "Mom and Dad had always been against my
dreams. Even though I was so appreciative that they adopted me, they
to care about me; they only doted on Sam. Although Sam was spoiled and
whatever he wanted, he’d grown to be a humble and nice guy. Sam was now
senior and wanted to become a movie director. Mom and Dad fully
but whenever I brought up modeling, they immediately criticized my
mother's efforts to dissuade her from her goal, Paradise meets a model
airplane and solidifies her dreams. Then she discovers the truth about
adoption, and why her adoptive parents seem to resent her. And
changes once again.
creates an engaging story that evolves into directions that pre-teen
won't see coming.
finds herself in a milieu where all the rules have changed and magic
part of her world, readers will appreciate the juxtaposition of
dilemmas, problem-solving on many levels, and Paradise's search for a
feeling she really can call home.
identify with her changes and adventures, and will appreciate how the
comes full circle in an unexpected way. Tails
From Down Under is an extraordinary work that pairs
real-world with magical
dilemmas so seamlessly that the reader's mind and heart are delighted
Paradise's spunky charm.
elementary to middle grade readers will find Tails
From Down Under captivating.
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Terra Nova Books
978-1-948749-77-0 $14.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook
War Train is set in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and
revolves around teen Mogi Franklin, who becomes involved in his
architect sister's refurbishing of an old hotel, only to find himself
investigating its mysterious past.
An attic filled with treasures that needs to
be emptied introduces Mogi to World War II history and mysteries, from
Harvey Girls and bank robbers who pulled off a heist that has never
to family experiences during the war that created changes, secrets, and
Teen readers who choose War
Train will find the history nicely embedded within this
historical backdrop, all powered by Mogi's present-day dilemmas as he
more and more facts and mysteries that dovetail with his family's past.
doses the story with a heavy hand of World War II facts, but assumes no
reader knowledge of this backdrop as he spins a yarn that keeps Mogi
and on his toes.
alternate between past events and present day, adding more characters
era to bring both worlds to life. These are clearly identified in
headings, so the flow between eras proves seamless, with each offering
captivating insights that keep readers engaged and moving forward.
decisions and events that lend to the future mystery makes for a story
juxtaposes adventure and discovery with new revelations about the
Hotel, the famous Harvey House restaurant, and a mother's love for
creates both a dilemma and a solution that resonates through the years.
War Train for its action and mystery
will find themselves intrigued, entertained, and educated, all in one.
War Train is especially recommended for collections
seeking a way of imparting World War II history to today's youth in a
that embraces both facts and entertaining adventure leading to new
and revelations about the present.
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What is Coronavirus?
Sabbithry Persad, MBA
Firewater Media Group
9780981243931 $19.95/$9.99 eBook
What is Coronavirus?
Infects, How it Spreads, and How to Stay Safe
is an illustrated book of choice for educators and parents who want not
and simple cursory review, but an in-depth introduction to viruses in
and the special properties of the novel coronavirus in particular.
Many an adult who has difficulty
understanding COVID-19, or who wants to review the basics, will find What is Coronavirus? well-detailed, well
referenced, and filled with insights about why this virus differs from
others that have affected the human race in the past.
The book begins with the bare-bones basics
of what a virus is and how it typically spreads, before moving to the
coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and its disease and peculiarities. It compares
COVID-19 to typical colds and flu, outlines differences in its spread
impact, and moves to specifics of how COVID-19 affects various organs
body, and how the body fights back.
Although there's a lot of physiology
involved in this discussion, What is
Coronavirus? always maintains an accessible tone, adding
plenty of visuals
to reinforce its pragmatic consideration of all the physiological,
psychological, and social ramifications of the disease in a way that
readers can easily understand.
is Coronavirus? addresses these topics, no stone is left
historic to social investigations. Visuals reinforce information such
various-sized droplets of coronavirus spread differently and require
distance to prove infectious.
The result is a visually appealing book with
its diagrams, illustrations, and pages of detail. It's the perfect
for all ages that pinpoints both the science and the overall affects of
virus on human lives.
It helps that the editors of this book
seasoned virologists with decades of experience, and are well versed in
scientific process and technical accuracy. Persad covers a lot of
about the world of viruses in only eight chapters. While it doesn’t shy
from naming the dangers of viruses, in particular COVID-19, this work
on reassuring young readers that progress is being made in the efforts
combat the virus. A useful addition for middle school libraries.
While What is Coronavirus? will be chosen for young readers ages 12 and older, its value as a basic, fact-filled introduction should be considered as an important source for adults, as well. This is a recommendation that needs to move beyond the children's section in a library to reach out to the general public with much-needed facts presented in an easily digestible, eye-catching fashion.What is Coronavirus?
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