January 2021 Review Issue
Have Or Have Not
Jared K. Chapman
978-1953366009 $16.95 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
2HVØRHVNØT: To Have
Or Have Not will reach young
adult to adult readers of
LGBT horror and fantasy with a dystopian piece that defies easy
identification or pat categorization. Its elements of thriller, horror,
and intrigue, as well as its social inspections, draw readers with
details of a
futuristic world where telepathic monks control the superpowered Mighty
inspections of the future.
twelve-year-old Mario has a routine of work for a Mighty and a job he
likes. As he confronts a Mighty-killing monster; questions of good and
creepy and odd strangers; and supermen who actually need saving by
folk like him, Mario assumes a position of power that he'd never before
imagined he could hold.
an action-packed yet touching story that revolves around young citizen
relationship with a Mighty and his employer and a system that enslaves
of encouraging cooperation...one he is called upon to help change.
see a dystopian story where a twelve-year-old is offered the
opportunity to change
the world, but 2HVØRHVNØT: To Have Or Have Not
excels in its portrait of
a young person who becomes empowered at an early age in ways neither he
also anticipate murder to enter the picture in a story for young
is yet another surprising twist in a story tailored for a younger
usually don't receive tales that embrace moral concerns, a murder
an ethical conundrum.
seem appropriate for younger readers, but should reach into older teen
audiences with its sci-fi exploration of social, political, and
issues that test a young citizen to become something more than his
dystopian stories will find 2HVØRHVNØT: To Have Or Have Not
and unexpected. It's hard to categorize and equally hard to put down.
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of a Spell
9798687363198 $15.45 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Chronicles of a Spell Caster, Book One: Orientation is the start of a series that follows Jet, who enters his freshman year of college with the usual educational and social challenges, plus a new one—students must complete some of their assignments using a virtual reality program called the AITS, eventually spending an entire spring in said virtual reality.
But this is no ordinary college and no normal freshman year. It's a time where Powers are honed, and assessed, and competition is fierce. The human world has advanced in a way where everyone has some type of abilities. Jet is about to enter unknown territory in which everything he's been taught and has identified with is about to change.
As Jet faces virtual and real opponents, makes new friends and enemies, and interacts in a way that truly challenges his evolving skills, readers enter a world which is both familiar in some ways (the college milieu, with its social and political coming-of-age tests) and yet a different milieu where Powers rule.
As Jet finds his deepest secrets exposed, he has some hard decisions to make about his future. And they involve changes he'd never anticipated from the college experience.
Fantasy readers looking for an overlay of quasi-reality to their stories, and unexpected twists, will find Chronicles of a Spell Caster excels in creating a subplot that opens with a logical test of Powers and then introduces an dog eat dog virtual world in which the holders of Powers have repressed and changed peoples native to the AITS virtual world who do not confirm to their purposes: "Many moons ago, generations past, the Powers slowly began to become fearful of our abilities. We were strong, fast, and all in all, we could contend with them. So, we were hired as bodyguards and other types of hired hands for many villages, cities, and kingdoms. The Powers didn't like this challenge to their authority. So, they devised a plan to get the edge against us."
As Jet journeys through this AITS realm he uncovers an
evil, dark plan,
his own special abilities as a Caster, and the multitude of choices
presents . Readers are introduced to a different kind of coming of age
that involves a transition not just into adulthood, but into powers
special consequences for the world.
Mature teens to new adult and adult fantasy readers receive a powerful story that begins in college but evolves to embrace the moral, ethical, and very adult world decisions Jet needs to tackle not just for the sake of his own growth and evolution, but the world.
Chronicles of a Spell Caster creates a powerful introduction to a conundrum that makes for a special first year and leads Jet to question his own motivations in opting for good or evil paths in handling his magic.
opener that concludes events neatly, but leaves the door more than ajar
Jet's continuing maturity and the next adventure. Chronicles of a Spell
Caster is especially recommended for
teens on the cusp of their
own transition into adulthood who appreciate stories of not just magic,
challenging growth opportunities.
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Tell-Tale Publishing Group, LLC
ASIN: B08ND4S19P $ 5.95
Hardcover: 978-1952020087 $30.00
Amazon.com: The Gotten eBook: Tucker, Rob: Books
are in for a treat with The Gotten,
story that embraces horror, urban fantasy, sci-fi, and a teen adventure.
opens with a
focus on thirteen-year-old new girl in school Astrid. Undaunted by
rejection, Astrid impresses four boys who become the objects of her
Little do they know that they also will follow her into extraordinary
and encounters that will change their perception of reality.
depicting the unusual scenario of a powerful, unique female and how she
confronts evolving relationships and new challenges. He also moves
between England and the U.S. with a deft attention to cultural and
detail that makes not only the milieu of teens but their environments
backgrounds come to life, as influencers on their perspectives and
grant wishes whisks the children to another realm and also becomes its
in adult circles as investigators search for the now-missing kids and
improbable circumstances surrounding their disappearance.
as a read for teens, it incorporates language and perspectives that
more in the realm of mature teens than new adolescents, with its focus
concerns and teen adventures alike.
is steeped in a complex proposition which is slowly absorbed. Ivor and
Borg are tracking Astrid Sims, who has escaped from the ancient Norse
myth as Skuld, weaver of the
and destiny of humankind. They need her return so they can decide the
reborn, and escaped into a new childhood existence. The boys'
this truth has led to the need to make them vanish from the world. What
can make them return home?
interest in a magical house and reviews of legends which may have
do with the missing teens to evil influences on bad humans, Tucker
crafts a mercurial,
changing story that embraces elements of fantasy, coming of age, alien
encounters, and adult investigative results alike.
The Gotten's special blend of intrigue,
fantasy, mythology, and
evolving relationships between children and adults places it in a
its own. Impossible to neatly categorize or predict, it's a riveting
is recommended for young adult to adult audiences.
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Nika Press LLC
the Coin of Rulve fantasy series for young adults and older readers, Leaf and Flame, presents a crescendo of
action that takes the setting, characters, and intrigue of preceding
the series and runs with them.
Flame opens, Teller and Sheft have experienced many
continue to be torn not only about their destiny, but also its cost.
brothers must come to terms with their past, present, and future. But
path often remains elusive and fraught with danger as they journey
world where the land and the Creator Rulve all suffer.
Teller confesses to his twin the role he played in the wrenching fate
Sheft's beloved wife and the dark forces which had overtaken him.
then confront a brand of forgiveness that leaves him not only with the
punishment of all, but also with newfound realizations of what really
to him in Oknu Shuld. This forces Teller to face its lasting impact on
his life and psyche, but on everyone around him. As Vol Cinc, he has
unspeakable acts. As Teller, can he travel a different path?
the series can access this story, prior fans of the previous books will
best audience for the twins' continuing evolution. So much background
set in previous stories that it's nearly impossible to enter Leaf and Flame with enough appreciation
for the journey's past events and the changing effects it has had on
life and purposes.
prior background will relish the ongoing evolutionary process of the
world as they struggle toward redemption. Readers will recognize the
of Teller's progression through the darkness even as Sheft's focus on
turns into a nightmare.
As with the
books in the series, Veronica Dale provides a complex, winding,
story designed to keep readers thoroughly engaged. Those who look for
scenarios should turn elsewhere, because this series is anything but
lightweight and predictable.
atmosphere of this world into every step of her story, creating a
engrossing journey that follows Sheft, Teller and other characters
darkness and light: "He heard his
own gasping breaths, his thumping boots; then purple light flashed
Immediately followed a muffled series of phung! phung! phung! phung!
then a long, ragged mutter. He snatched a look over his shoulder. The
behind him heaved like an emerging hilltop."
As the love
between Taisa and Teller evolves and tension comes to a head, readers
treated to climax that neatly ties together events and plots from prior
into a fine culmination. Leaf and Flame
definitively answers the
question posed by the entire series: How can a dark spiritual journey
the providential grace of dawn?
story offers many surprises that will delight prior fans, making it an
essential addition that cleverly sums up the power of all three
in to breakthrough action and revised fates.
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If you were
with a terminal condition, wouldn't you give anything to live longer?
In Methuselah's Legacy, Lilith
Davidson is the
perfect candidate for testing an experimental longevity serum. She's
nothing to lose, after all. She's ninety-two and has just been
diagnosed with a
disease that will end her life. She and her husband have been working
experiment for over a decade, and just needs a human subject. What
choice than Lilith, now that she is truly at the end of life?
treatment works. It offers a transformation beyond belief. But, as
any treatment holds its detriment as Lilith and eleven other volunteers
discover when its real cost emerges.
or lose one's life...it's a heck of a choice, as potential subject
protests on the cusp of signing onto the project. And there are broader
of humanity and social change that have even more dangerous
just for the original Pioneers of the experiment, but mankind as a
fine job of capturing the swelling social forces that are part of this
transformation process as well as the science involved in a longevity
experiment that doesn't exactly go awry, but fulfills its potential all
woven into a story replete with strong characters, intriguing
events that blend the disparate lives of Lilith, Kameitha, and others
within the experiment and outside of it.
review the political and social response to a side effect of
that threatens established order and perceptions of decency and human
is powerfully described from both perspectives: "I
believe the biggest threat to the security of our great nation
are the insidious forces working from within that so drastically alter
character of our free institutions—those institutions we proudly call
American way of life.”
that revolves around genetic manipulation and human transformation will
a story that is vivid and fast-paced, containing many elements that
them engrossed to the end. It's more than a cut above most
surveys because its inclusion of social norms, political responses, and
visions of what it means to be an altered human are especially well
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Something Found: A Coin
Troy Aaron Ratliff
9798681931058 $9.99 Paper/$.99 ebook
Coin introduces a new trilogy and
provides a fantasy action story especially recommended for those who
of new beginnings, recovery, and unexpected adventure that evolves from
best of intentions.
Artist Todd Freeman has developed a new
purpose in using his metal detector to locate lost items in the sands
Florida Keys and return them to people. But this doesn't completely
the pain of recent events that has led to loss and uprooting...until he
uncovers a mysterious coin that leads him in yet another direction.
Todd was never actively involved in
sleuthing or solving crimes, but his discovery leads him to master both
process of uncovering an adventure he'd never looked for or wanted.
As Todd's past is revealed, readers receive
the story of a man who has lost everything and is back at square one,
recreating his future while questioning his past: "Todd
completely optimistic about this trip south and really didn’t know
whole experiment was taking him. Yeah, he thought a place down here
good for him, but after that…what? Sell oranges on the side of the
up surfing? Quitting a good job, settling for a mutual divorce without
fight, and selling your home of well over fifteen years to pick up and
another state were all major, not to mention majorly traumatic, things
to do in
a such a short time. In fact, he wondered what force, beyond his
and desire for warmer temperatures, was pulling him down here. Was it
a new life? To get away from the past?"
Troy Aaron Ratliff does more than tell
Todd's story. He captures the sights, sounds, and smells of the strange
world Todd explores: "Inside the fragrant house, the floors
naturally. Hardly expecting a palace within, Todd was indeed greeted
copious amounts of clutter and the leavings of an aged packrat. What
light broke through the old curtains didn’t illuminate much of
shadows of thirsty houseplants and worn furniture and what looked like
statue of a Pacific island god were Todd’s first impressions of Hamok’s
decorative tastes. The underlying odor of a house pet filled his
the sounds of TV commercials drifted though the musty air."
Todd doesn't expect events to lead him into
a war zone or bring down newfound acquaintance Hamok’s 'shrine of
but as he comes to realize the true meaning of the coin he's stumbled
Todd finds that his definitions of life and its meaning are being
Again, readers will find the descriptions of this process especially
and uniquely striking: "The house vomited over into the
street, a mess
of waste and loss."
Ratliff's compelling use of language and
description elevates this story beyond a typical adventure tale.
an outstanding, fast-paced Florida story of intrigue, fantasy, action,
confrontation that proves increasingly hard to put down.
As the tale moves from one small discovery
to a paradigm-changing adventure, fans of Indiana Jones and similar
tales will find much to love in Something Found: A Coin's
description and unexpected, escalating escapades.
The time Ratliff takes to cement Todd's
background and psyche are well worth the read as the story becomes a
magical thriller and leaves the door open for Book Two as Todd searches
tests this strange new Magic.
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Stories of Science Fiction, the Unusual and the Unpredictable
Ebook: 978-0-9984984-3-0 $ 7.99
Print: 978-0-9984984-4-7 $15.95
sci-fi which adds elements of horror and speculative fiction will
relish Spectrum: Short Stories of Science
the Unusual and the Unpredictable for its ability to contrast
traverse the boundaries of predictability.
stories hold many attributes—the most notable being their diversity.
characters are strong, their dilemmas are varied, and the stories thus
creating scenarios readers won't see coming.
'Edge of Twilight', for example. Dr. Kelvin Gardwin faces the alien
who gobble up planets in days. This threat is rapidly heading towards
leading scientists to contemplate deploying an untested virus to stop
move he deems too risky.
skepticism, Dr. Gardwin is deployed to the front lines in an effort to
this dubious defense.
alien monstrosity that is biologically linked together is denying its
instructions to remain silent and restrained as its memory of a
planet interferes with its careful programming.
story of changing alien and human perspectives evolves.
surprising intersections between different viewpoints and life reality
the short piece 'Good-bye, Sweet Mercury', about a Christmas spirit who
a Chicago bungalow and his former family. He could stay with them
but nobody would ever know he was there. He could also embrace a true
the other side, as his spirit guide Mabel desires—but that would mean
the one thing that remains important.
association between life and death's meeting point, and a final
faces, creates a different kind of Christmas spirit story.
weave sci-fi elements into stories of eerie circumstances with strange,
haunting beginnings and endings creates a diverse collection of tales
recommended not just for sci-fi short story readers, but for fans of
haunting works that defy pat categorization.
choose this collection for its promise of sci-fi elements will find
more is going on in many of the tales than science fiction alone, and
its forays into the world of horror and its literary reflections of the
of life on Earth and beyond.
Spectrum will prove an especially
satisfying read for literature
enthusiasts who look for diversity and unpredictability in their short
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Father's Torch: From Holocaust Trauma to Transformation is not just about the legacy of the
Holocaust. It's about keeping family secrets, the effects of carrying
through generations, and what happens when secrets explode into the
Gail Weiss Gaspar not only inherited the
legacy of these secrets and their consequences, but was assigned the
carrying her father's torch to keep them. Her break from the past
father's participation in a different kind of tradition and revelation
changed them all.
In exploring her father's persecution,
torture, and suffering, the process of making these events public and
heals the entire family in different ways.
Father's Torch pulls no punches
and provides an immediacy and 'you are there' feel, strengthened by
first-person narration of the process of her father's coming out with
history: "Marty’s hand shook, rattling the notes he held
tight. He kept
his eyes on what he’d written. I knew within the first few sentences he
that he wasn’t holding back, releasing anguish with sorrow so
wailed, despite the uncertain delivery. He spoke about days of being
into filthy and dark train cattle cars with fellow captives, not
they were headed."
Few other stories of the Holocaust provide
such a gripping inspection of not just the secret and its revelation,
effects on future generations of keeping such a secret within the
circle: "That our relatives perished without a trace was a
secret that no one must know. Shoved into industrial ovens designed to
extinguish evidence of their ever having lived, without our having a
photograph, timepiece, handkerchief, broach, or letter to prove that
This secret inspired a vigilance I did not know I possessed. The
excel, to please, and to keep the secret was crippling. Disappointing
parents was not an option." The strength and lesson of Carrying
Father's Torch lies in its ability to explore the
consequences of these
family secrets and how to defy the tradition of maintaining them.
Gaspar's realization and vigilance in
pursuing a different path makes for a powerful, striking testimony as
well as a
call to action for fellow readers who may be harboring their own
family secret: "Standard fare for the second generation of
was to stay mired in guilt, quietude, or work. Many times, I’d get up
batter’s plate and choke. I’d want more, wish for it, talk about it…but
wouldn’t take a swing. Making known what was unknown, unspoken,
the help of those who would help keep me accountable, writing MY story
devotion, a sacred practice."
While Carrying My Father's Torch
logical recommendation for Jewish history and cultural collections, it
a top pick for psychological holdings interested in family history,
intergenerational secrets, and the possibilities of making different
that ultimately result in a new form of transparency and healing for
Readers interested in any of these topics
will find the power and process of Carrying My Father's Torch
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The Ghosts of Italy
9781537410913 $12.95 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
Italy: A Memoir documents Angela
Paolantonio's return to her Italian roots during a visit to a mountain
the home of her grandparents, that becomes her home as well. As much a
travelogue and celebration of Italian culture and countryside as it is
about a striking personal journey that resulted in fresh connections to
place, The Ghosts of Italy is a delightful,
atmospheric read for anyone
interested in returning to one's roots and exploring heritage in
Paolantonio opens her journey with a
present-day observation of its culmination: "I dared dream
conjuring an image of one day living in a stone house on a hillside in
flock of sheep grazing in a field beyond a balcony. Well, now I have
view. Yet it is not just any view, nor any stone house on a hillside in
It is the house where my grandmother was born, the balcony view of her
With this, readers embark a journey that
embraces the expedition, the destination, and the meaning of family
alike in a memoir that celebrates all this and more.
As readers follow Paolantonio's revised
life, they receive a fine discussion of losses, gains, and perseverance
face of defeat. Black and white photos illustrate her words, while the
red fox, gray wolves, and dancing leaves comes to life.
The experience is not without its classic
Italian romance as she widens her world and embraces family and new
Perhaps the most striking facet of this
memoir lies in its ability to traverse the Italian countryside with a
determined purpose as Paolantonio evolves a relationship that will
challenge her relationships with her relatives and the town.
Readers breathe in the heart and soul of
Italian culture and countryside and absorb the revised life of a woman
decide where her heart truly lies. The discoveries that evolved from a
for the spirit of a grandmother go in unexpected directions, providing
saga that embraces the author and her readers to the end.
Those looking for moving stories of
discovery and family heritage, as well as love, will find The
Italy excels in its ability to introduce the spirit of not
only a family,
but a nation.
It's a memoir well worth the read.
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Terry Marshall & Ann Garretson Marshall
Sandra Jonas Publishing House
9781733338653 Hardcover: $32.95
A Rendezvous to Remember: A Memoir of Joy and
Heartache at the Dawn of
the Sixties will touch readers who like stories of evolving
It opens in 1964 in Boulder, Colorado, where Terry is saying goodbye to
his college best friend and sweetheart, who is on her way to Germany to
his competitor for her affections: Lieutenant Jack Sigg.
worried that he will lose her forever: "Would
the foundation she and I had built over four years be enough to
hotspur outbursts, trump the military ethos she had grown up with,
coming full-court press from Lieutenant
Sigg, and keep the flame alive for two years while I
served my country
in my own way, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Venezuela?"
moves between Ann and Terry's perspectives, creating clear movement
two with chapter headings that never leave readers wondering about who
We also get insight into Jack through his many letters to Ann and the
grand tour the two of them take in his Corvette convertible.
weave interpersonal interactions into an overall flavor of the times,
politics to social environment. This approach adds a fine inspection
of the independent lives of two want-to-be lovers separated by their
and backgrounds, but of their lives apart as they reflect on what could
been (and still could be). Terry: “I don’t think I could go on
for two years
with the loneliness and frustration I’ve felt these fifty days. My life
thoughts of you, of plans for this next year, of the many things we
together. It’s inconceivable that I leave for two years without your
sentiments rooted in the times are particularly compelling, drawing
into events, as well as into the emotional responses they elicited, and
resulting challenge to ideals, dreams, and perceptions of the world: "Faith in my country had been shattered
late in my freshman year when the Soviet Union shot down the American
plane...What? America had been spying on other nations? Our country had
lying to us and the rest of the world? Ike was more than a president or
hero. He was a favorite uncle, wise, experienced, a proven leader...If
couldn’t trust Ike, how could I trust any American politician?"
personal autobiography alone, charting the course of not just two
lives, but also a nation.
A Rendezvous to Remember is highly
recommended reading for anyone
who has wondered what coming of age in America in the 1960s was really
be this closely inspected from the vantage point of hindsight? The
this memoir is a resounding "yes."
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Exploits of Mercedes de Acosta
Darwin Porter& Danforth Prince
Blood Moon Productions Ltd.
The Seductive Sapphic Exploits of Mercedes de Acosta: Hollywood's Greatest Lover contains all the draw of a gossip piece paired with the seductive lure of sexual exploits among the rich and famous. It reviews the life of Mercedes de Acosta, a celebrity whose passions rivaled the most notorious lovers in early 20th century history. It’s also a preview of the empowerment of women in an era when America and Europe produced legions of cultural giants, many of them women, rising in every manifestation of the arts, especially theater, filmmaking, and literature.
Mercedes, a Spanish
beauty, confessed stories about these world-romping exploits to film
Darwin Porter in the last years of her life, but this biography
stories behind these confessions, using firsthand accounts to explore
before and after these affairs.
not in the
know about Mercedes de Acosta, she was a lesbian activist born in 1892,
descended from Spanish aristocracy to a life of wealth and privilege.
became notorious for seducing socialites. Her lovers included some of
biggest names in Hollywood, from silent film actresses to the new
survey of her sexual exploits, Porter and Prince embrace the extent of
Hollywood's politics and social scene, from actors and actresses to
filmmakers, and Darwin's own relationship with Mercedes.
photos and illustrations abound, as do sidebars of Hollywood news
the biography the drama and feel of real life events. It moves through
Mercedes's role as a translator and 'tour guide' introduced others to
of "Old Spain" pre-war to her involvement in New York stage
productions and the personal lives of actresses who flocked to her
anticipate the spotlight will always shine on Mercedes, much background
information is included about many other famous figures who operated
that time, from American stage and film actress (and former Ziegfeld
Jeanne Eagels to the ravishing part-time lesbian lover Natacha Rambova,
entered Mercedes' life steeped in the allure and mystery of Old Russia.
Also reviewed in rich detail is the saga of
Mercedes’ decade-long affair with Greta Garbo (later exposed in her
published in 1960), her (shorter) liaison with Marlene Dietrich, her
interchanges with Gertrude Stein, and lengthy insights into such
stage and film luminaries as Katharine Cornell, Tallulah Bankhead, and
personalities, politics, and social milieu are fully explored with a
lively inspection that takes Mercedes de Acosta's exploits and elevates
into a rich social and cinematic commentary on Hollywood's
evolving sexual female figures.
in more than a staid survey of Hollywood history—one which delves into
interrelationships and sexual exploits of its major participants—will
find The Seductive Sapphic Exploits of
de Acosta: Hollywood's Greatest Lover much more than a
It holds the power to attract a wide audience; especially those who
high drama and social commentary of gossip, the
struggle for self-expression, and eye-popping truths.
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Still Life With Saints
9798571716765 $21.95 Paper/$9.95 Kindle
Saints is a sequel to the 2016 The
Ghosts of Italy, and continues the journey Angela Paolantonio
began in her
first memoir of her old country Italian family roots.
In this continuation, she moves from Los
Angeles to the village of Calitri, where Italian women take her under
wings and help her explore her heritage.
There she continues her life and
discoveries, transporting readers into a life journey that captures the
village's culture, nuances, and sights and sounds with lovely
passages: "How do I feel when I have to leave the place that
running in my veins? I am lost. To walk the village each day is to walk
an Alan Lomax recording. The sights and sounds are authentic, the
deep and true. They are in the pastoral lilt of women’s voices in
from behind a beaded doorway, or men’s acapella singing in a grotto in
the tufa stone acting as a natural acoustic enhancer. I am transported
The introduction, in which she returns from
a Christmas holiday in that village to feel newly lost in her Los
environment, will feel quite familiar to any who have journeyed to
place, only to find its lure more powerful than the abode they once
As Still Life With Saints
that world and explores it more fully and deeply, readers are
discoveries that lead to inevitable change: "One thing rang
had been coming on for some time: the more I found myself embedded in
traditional ways of her old village—a novice to the slow-cultured pious
the bundled women on via Fontana—the more I wanted to return to it, to
Too many memoirs about such journeys gloss
over the real day-by-day challenges of cultural transformation. One of
strengths to this account is that it pulls no punches, but delves right
that process: "The everyone’s fantasy of “living in Italy”
dispelled by the culture shock and differences of this world to mine,
to what Americans think as Italian life. Los Angeles’ Mulholland Drive
Centro Storico and the legend of water; from the fountains of via
the Colorado River and the engineering feat of bringing water to the
and Los Angeles, religious, pagan, and all in between the challenges of
here then. No American shower was the least of it in my new, two-room
house. There was no heat, no landline, no internet, no TV or radio, up
loss and reverse immigration consequences. Leaving not the village but
The result is a powerful survey of family
roots, national ties, and the journey Angela Paolantonio embarks on as
moves between two very different worlds; one of them both familiar and
the same time.
From myths and legends to romance and a form
of 'reincarnated soul journey', Still Life With Saints
proves even more
captivating than its haunting predecessor The Ghosts of
Italy. It's a
top recommendation as a powerful memoir both for prior readers and
interested in cross-cultural encounters and life changes.
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Judy Beil Vaughan
grew up in 1950s New Mexico, where she came into her own as a
also honed a career outside the world of equine competition to become a
neurologist, where she faced different kinds of pressures and challenges. Strawberry Roan follows all her life
changes, but is particularly strong in its focus on her formative
ranch life in New Mexico and the kinds of social and community
augmented her upbringing to lead her to become an independent achiever
for a fine contrast between satisfying autobiographical inspection and
on how girls with passion evolve into women of purpose.
family photos of riding and New Mexico experiences pepper the story.
readers into a time and place that feels familiar and intriguing
Vaughan's moving images and descriptions: "Someone
had advice for those considering conscientious objector status for the
War. My Republican parents would not understand. Unilateral
what about me? I was a college woman with a mind of my own. Suddenly,
I had my own identity, I could swallow naturally. Silently. No more
said to myself: “You have found a place where you belong."
errors consistently sprinkled throughout the account may stymie English
who would chafe at the presence of inappropriate punctuation. Better
would have made this story even more compelling.
tone, atmosphere, and focus on a young woman's growth and transitions
presented, and will attract readers with an initial interest in horse
This audience will find the actual underlying account goes far beyond a
equines to probe the wider world of a woman's discovery of strength and
self-purpose in life.
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Abide With Me
Ayesha Pande Literary
978-0578805313 $15.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
With Me gives mystery readers a Sister
Agatha and Father Selwyn story
centered on the Anglican Welsh Gwenafwy Abbey, where ten new nuns from
Angeles bring with them youthful enthusiasm, another culture, and
murder when a
reporter from The Church Times is found dead on the beach.
suspects trouble and adds sleuthing to her seasonal
Epiphany list of
rituals. Her nose for trouble soon ferrets out too many clues to
process as a
relentless threat moves closer to home.
to note about this story is that it is steeped in English countryside
traditions, sounds, smells, and feelings: "Reginald Thurston,
Archbishop of Wales, had recently located to Pryderi and moved into the
View Retirement Condominiums on the renovated estate of Lord Ednyfed.
he wanted to throw himself into village life after the relentless
the archdiocese in Cardiff. And indeed, Sister Agatha often saw him,
his overcoat, muffler, and mittens, stopping by the Buttered Crust Tea
filling a basket of groceries at Lettuce-Eat-Vegan, or attending the
series at the Public Library."
Abbey is anything but dull and quiet, which is another notable feature
Willan employs in her story. Everything is vivid, meaningful, and
lively...something readers may not initially ascribe to a nun's
vocation, but which is satisfyingly present in a mystery that connects
to the outside world in more than one way.
Church politics and relationships contrast
nicely with Sister Agatha's discoveries and newfound realizations about
approaches life and adversity as she questions not only her perceptions
world, but herself: "Sister Agatha walked back to the Abbey
thought. Why hadn't she just asked Reverend Mother about seeing Peter
dovecote? Or alerted her that there was an intruder on the grounds? She
even considered talking with Reverend Mother. None of the other nuns
responded by telling the deputy constable first."
Her ability to cultivate the attitude and
inspections of a detective, creating a murder book of notes as facts
threats unfold, is equaled only by her creative formation of the
Murder Club and her determination to bring long-held secrets out into
against all odds.
Willan has crafted a compelling mystery that
is perfect winter reading for anyone interested in a whodunit that
questions of faith with the exposure of a murderer and a thief, and
challenges such as the health of the Abbey's favorite Shetland pony.
Readers seeking a warm atmosphere and many
satisfying twists and turns will find Abide With Me
a delightful read.
Return to Index
Adam W. Perin
Cold Saturday Press
readers interested in a fast-paced story receive a satisfying pace in
of a missing president, a nation changed overnight and seeking someone
blame, and too-familiar partisan bickering that keeps the truth from
In many ways, American Rome holds
firm ties to events unfolding in modern America, which is why the story
resonate so deeply in readers well versed in American political
adept at quickly creating the backdrop of an easily-distracted nation
crisis. While one might think that his summary of recent events in the
might indicate a series of explorations devoid of interpersonal
this lead-in cements the milieu of the times. It contrasts nicely with
opening of the first chapter, which includes the dialogue,
and characterization that builds a powerful, hard-to-put-down story.
approach to presidential activities and his handling of press and
challenges alike to LA Republican Braden Cooper's increasing
involvement in a
challenge far above his position and experience, Perin adds complex
political commentary to back a mystery that circumnavigates the globe,
with tension, discovery, and confrontation.
their thrillers well steeped in international special interests,
and capture and imprisonment will find the action and motivations of
cast of characters compelling. It invites readers to absorb an ongoing
of tense threats and continual surprises along the way.
and investigations come before the Senate Judiciary Committee, readers
relish the special blend of political and social inspection cultivated
American Rome's ability to ground its
events in realistic scenarios
and believable special interests makes it an engrossing read, highly
recommended and filled with surprises. Political thriller readers are
in for a
Return to Index
Black Rose Writing
reporter Francine Vega has appeared in several prior books, but Beyond Revelation provides a stand-alone
thriller that requires no introduction to prove accessible to newcomers
probes the fine line between a cult and a religious order.
into the Beyond Revelation group when her friend goes missing. But what
found when she gets behind the backdrop of their spiritual passion is a
conspiracy involving Russians and the nation. And so her personal
help her friend becomes a tense nail-biting read that circumnavigates
presidency, the FBI, international special interests, and the future of
taking personal motivation and perspective and expanding them into a
picture scenario. His choice of the first person perspective captures
Francine's involvement, life, motivations, and difficult choices. This
a personal 'you are there' feel to the story as it traverses not just
problem-solving abilities, but her life: "My
weekly show was approaching, and I contemplated canceling it...To be
really didn't feel like doing it; I didn't feel like doing anything at
and broader social and political issues, the various components and
of Beyond Revelation, and its lasting impact on Francine's life as well
others creates a compelling thriller powered by strong characters, a
plot, and twists and turns both Francine and readers won't see coming.
layers Francine experiences as she confronts her biggest case and
without some of the key support systems she's relied on in the past
makes for a
story that is gripping, involving, and hard to put down.
like action tempered by strong emotional involvement will find Beyond Revelation a real winner.
Return to Index
The Big Tilt is the second book in the
crime/PI thriller series
featuring Peter O'Keefe, and tells of the tough survivor's struggles
childhood friends and murder, during which he becomes a target for the
complicated? They can when it involves a team effort.
into the heart of danger to save not only his friend Mike but his life
home town, readers receive a fast-paced story of intrigue,
and social inspection that incorporates an examination of privilege and
struggle into the crime story.
is thwarted not just by Mafia efforts, but his own special interests as
Harrigan maintains his innocence against all odds and Peter considers
between his choices and his future: "No
matter how this turned out, surely everything would change now.
could not help considering what Harrigan’s downfall might mean to him
shaky private detective business. He had Harrigan to thank for many
things—rescuing him from the hellhole he had been digging for himself
years ago, providing him a fairly steady stream of work in the early
his business to jump start the business, talking him up around the
community, and down to almost that very day in the form of the loan
had helped arrange. But if I can’t
fend for myself by now, then I don’t deserve to be fended for. His
concerns paled compared to the fate that had befallen his lifelong
wondered what Harrigan would soon reveal to him. Was this a true
consequence of a tragic flaw? Or just a melodrama? Maybe
some of both."
reconsider his relationships, his approach to life and business goals,
self-defeating attitude adds a series of personal confrontations and
reassessments to the crime story. These are satisfying embellishments
just the events, but the changing psyches of these characters: "No more self-delusion. Now he had to
acknowledge and reckon with it, and the reckoning made it hard for him
to juxtapose personal with professional challenges enhances a plot that
beyond a whodunit or a crime syndicate tale to probe the changing
and tilting world of everyone who comes in contact with Peter and his
is a gripping
account that moves between underworld special interests and the
objectives and approaches Peter experiences, which continually lead him
as both a person and an investigator.
high suspense, crime intrigue, and psychological tension will find
all these elements in a vivid story that holds not a few surprises not
about Peter O'Keefe's relationships, but the police and criminal
The Big Tilt is very highly recommended
for its tense blend of
confrontation and self-realization, achieving the goal of serving as a
stand-alone read to newcomers and a satisfying continuation of Peter
life for prior fans.
Return to Index
Jeffrey S. Stephens
978-1627040518 $15.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
and Passion's murder
mystery revolves around
psychotherapist Randi Conway's patients, who begin to die under
circumstances. It covers the persistent investigations of former New
cop Detective Robbie Whyte, who expected a quieter environment in
Fairfield County, Connecticut. He discovers the error in his thinking
affluence doesn't prevent death and actually adds an additional element
social and political conundrums to his probe.
anticipate her early demise. If
she had, she might have better hidden the revealing memoir she created,
"Sexual Rites." And she might have come to suspect her part in a
dangerous game that takes not only her life, but those of others. Her
leads readers to both hate and, surprisingly, come to understand (if
her. This adds a satisfyingly complex feel to the story that is
its surprises and revelations.
are privy to her
journal writing from the start.
They also observe the scene of the crime and the fate that awaits her
suspecting the identity of the perp, although his motivation for
(to stop her dangerous games) is clearly stated.
Whyte is handling
a suicide jumper threat when
he is pulled into the puzzling homicide. He's also handling differences
his big-city history and his new position: "It
was no secret within their small police force that Chief Gill was not a
Whyte’s big city style, but it was always Whyte he turned to when
affects his choices,
actions, and relationships as
he is drawn into an investigation that leads him to consider Randi
psychotherapy practice. She's the 'X factor' in his probe, and he is
increasingly convinced that her connection to his cases translates to
insidious and dangerous.
will find that Crimes and Passion
an outstanding job of not just crafting a whodunit, but injecting the
and perspectives of Whyte, Randi Conway, and others into the picture.
murderer's own interest in Randi complicates matters as Whyte pulls
troubled pasts and possible motives, examining why Randi is so
juxtaposition of a
hard-boiled detective's typical
modus operandi for solving crime and the changing perspectives and
victims and those on the periphery of danger is very well done, drawing
into a changing story that explores deceit, love gone awry, dangerous
and deadly consequences.
who love a good
murder mystery embedded in
exploring psyches of victims and perps alike will find Crimes
and Passion turns
love and violence upside down in a satisfying, riveting manner perfect
cold night's read in front of a blazing fire.
surprise conclusion will
keep readers thinking long
after the story ends.
Return to Index
Heddy Frosell da Ponte
Frosell da Ponte Publishing
Thriller readers receive a riveting true story of international intrigue in The Frosell Affair.
Having survived the Nazi occupation of Paris, wealthy businessman Oscar Frosell eagerly looks forward to getting back to a normal life in post-war France. But a cabal of well-connected thieves—a French naval hero, a close friend of Charles de Gaulle, and the Swedish general consul—conspire to defraud him of his vast family fortune. A complex scheme is hatched that begins with their falsely identifying Frosell as a Nazi collaborator and Gestapo agent, which will ultimately end (they hope) with their seizing his all properties and treasures.
Trumped-up evidence and personal attacks find Frosell caught in a merciless maelstrom engineered by ingenious villains, culminating in court proceedings that savage everything he's ever believed in or worked for.
Frosell is ultimately forced to face the truth about his shameless persecutors: "He’d been falsely accused of the worst kind of treachery; driven from his home by the conniving admiral and his duplicitous friend, Raoul Nordling; had all his possessions illegally commandeered—no, stolen—by the very agents who were supposed to have been ensuring their safety; and incarcerated based upon nothing more than falsehoods and downright lies. And all so that one Major Alla Dumesnil could be rewarded, according to the official paperwork Dzeroginsky had managed to dig up, for her “services to Air Marshall Bouscat.”
Readers will be swept into this engrossing saga, which is based on author Heddy Frosell da Ponte's family story and experiences. This is a remarkably shrewd, realistic probe of postwar European recovery and one man's confrontation with wartime injustice. Ms. Frosell da Ponte deftly unravels the politics and players of postwar Europe as well as the lingering impact of Nazi domination, giving readers both an astute political thriller and an absorbing historical investigation.
will be tempted to compare Frosell's lot to that of Alfred
Dreyfus' infamous scandal that rocked France a half-century earlier—and
wouldn't be far off. In both real-world dramas, execrable characters
manipulated government bureaucracies and courts to their own ends. This
adds power to The Frosell Affair. This
with the elements of a top-notch thriller, creates a read that is
The Frosell Affair is highly recommended for readers interested in the Second World War's aftermath, the stories of ordinary citizens trying to rebuild in a cataclysm, and the lengths some unscrupulous people will go to prey upon those vulnerable people.
Frosell family's lasting ordeal is vividly brought to life in
'novelized' format, inviting a wide audience to fully immerse
those anarchic times while making The Frosell Affair a
standout in European and World War II literature.
Return to Index
Life for a
been a crime reporter for decades, honing her craft until she needs a
from her profession. A move to a quiet mountain community seems just
for peace and quiet...or, is it?
A Life for a Life presents a mystery
steeped in fine contrasts
between past and present, rural and urban life, a quiet lifestyle
vivid sense of purpose, and community involvement. All these elements
Della in the hot seat of contention.
sets the scene, opening not with Della's perspective (as so many
have chosen), but from a teenager's viewpoint when newcomer Della
Kincaid buys his
line, readers know they're in for a unique voice and a compelling
treat: "My life was saved by a murder. At the
time, of course, I didn’t understand that. I just knew I was having the
year of my life. Given all the terrible things that happened, I should
ashamed to say it, but that year was a blessing for me."
introduces co-writer Abit, who reflects on the spring when everything
contrasts neatly with the opening of the first chapter, which embraces
point of view.
reminisces of 1985's life-changing events then evolves to provide a
foundation for exploring the unexpected, from murder to the North
mountain communities that confront an unprecedented threat and danger.
form an unlikely association and travel through the world of accused
released and unidentified dangers, Abit's regional colloquialisms spice
story and contrast nicely with Della's staid approach and observations:
"No one who really knew Gregg for a
minute thought he’d killed that girl, except maybe Brower. Oh, and them
guys. I heard Roger Turbin talking about how they was glad it were a
man in jail. (That was how they said it—gov’ment. Even I knowed better
that, and I only finished fifth grade.) Della wouldn’t let it rest,
Even Cleva told her to slow down."
this sense of place, time, and community brings the story to life in a
realistic, refreshing fashion that draws readers into not just the
the conflicts that lie at the heart of each character's life. Della
and present on a collision course, and Abit's world changes.
ability to probe life as well as death makes this murder mystery a
It's a fantastic probe into the lives of everyone involved in a
situation that grabs the reader's heartstrings and tugs on them to the
find A Life for a Life a real
highly recommended for its fine attention to both detail and the
investigators who confront themselves as much as the threat at hand.
Return to Index
978-1-944906-32-0 $29.99 Hardcover/$8.99 Kindle
The Pipeline: Terror for New York is a story of terrorism that stems from President Trump's order to kill Quds Force Major General, Qasem Soleimani at the Baghdad Airport in 2020.
story depicts an
aftermath of attacks on US soil
that exact revenge for this action and bring the battle to American
Seymour is the first
victim—a civil servant and the
Chief of Police of the Town of Olive, New York who lives with his large
practices a holistic, organic lifestyle. He was the last person who
to be involved in a terrorist threat—but he won't be the first to fall.
deadly plot evolves and
spreads. Individuals remain at
the center of the story because Louis Romano doesn't just abandon the
family, but keeps the focus on Debbie and the kids and the legacy of
juxtaposes nicely with
evolving political, social,
and terrorism conundrums as New York City's water supply takes center
Debbie Seymour faces additional threats that test all her survival
undercurrent of conflict
between rural and big-city
special interests is one of the forces that drive this story: "You are a typical New Yorker. You come
up here and you think you own the place, just like what was done to my
when our property was taken away for that damn reservoir.”
evolves into a terrorism thriller,
readers will find the close connections between individual lives and
issues nicely drawn, swinging the plot from that of a woman's terrible
the threat facing New York state and America as a whole.
as well as escalating
violence, is well done. The attention to these details (as well as
pursuits, whether they be unrequited love from the past, surviving a
or facing a family's disruption and terrible loss) keeps the story
and focused on the personal as well as the political.
is a captivating read cemented by solid
psychological and social profiles and personalities that will
engross readers until the end. Thriller readers looking for this blend
personal conundrums, murder mystery, and broader political implications
find The Pipeline: Terror for New York
a solidly compelling choice.
Return to Index
C. V. Hamilton
Swift House Press
978-1733720960 $17.95 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
overturned, what will happen next? Chaos, if Plan
to Kill is any indicator. Admittedly, one is a political
thriller novel and the other real life, but the intersection between
is the focus of this story, which evolves a plot surrounding a
Supreme Court decision and women who decide to take matters into their
reactionary housewives. They are astute, clever, professional business
find their choices in the business world lend nicely to a political
confrontation over women's rights that segues into murder.
president's assassination might seem an unlikely pursuit for those not
business of murder, but nothing's impossible, to these determined women.
of this story lies in the evolution of this plot, while its other
in the psyches of the perps themselves whose actions, reactions, and
to the problem are about to shock the nation.
between the President and staff members at the White House to the real
behind the plot, readers will find themselves on edge throughout this
satisfyingly complex, unpredictable read.
its basic premise stemmed from current political events, but readers
surprised to learn that this novel's concept began many years ago,
current political milieu evolved. This fact makes it even more
sacrifices herself for a greater purpose to political subterfuge at all
of the White House itself, this powerful story keeps readers involved
guessing up to the end.
depicting strong women who both become part of the political process
operate outside its constraints makes for a thoroughly engrossing
genre readers will find unexpected and delightful.
Return to Index
Phillip B. Chute
978-1-7328855-1-6 $14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
thrillers and historical mysteries will relish this fact-based
based on a true, little-known story that took place in the Inland
of Southern California in the 1970s-1990s. Everything in this story is
except the names and locations.
Chute was the accountant for the KOLA Rock & Roll radio station
Riverside, California for many years. He personally knew police
involved in the case, all the lawyers, other people involved, all the
employees. The only person who let him down during the making of Rock & Roll Murders was the
Attorney, former prosecutor of this trial, who wouldn't release the
purchase of a radio station brought him wealth and earned him the
a beautiful younger woman whom he married. Now he's focused on keeping
these successes for the rest of his life, obsessed with owning
if he must resort to deadly means to retain his riches.
is drawn out and occupies almost half the story, but the success of the
lies in its details as Phillip B. Chute draws important connections
have a major impact on the outcome of decisions made not just by Ray,
the characters in his orbit.
staccato action that glosses over details for a faster pace may find Rock & Roll Murders lies more in
arena of a good, slow buildup. It takes the time to create strong
compelling dialogue, and a series of motivations and circumstances that
into dangerous choices and consequences and towards a courtroom
questions ultimate guilt or innocence. Perhaps this also is because
essentially is not fiction, but resides in the realm of true crime with
hand to changing some names.
strengths of the story, which will appeal to those who like complex
plots that aren't self-evident from the beginning, but which take the
appropriate amount of time to evolve towards a conclusion that is
complex and mercurial.
proceedings are anything but straightforward, as subtle nuances of
and murder come to light: "The only
problem I’m having is following you,” the Judge said. “Certainly we’ve
direct all of her adulterous relationships. I guess my next question is
does that stop? Is she on trial or is Mr. McDade? In other words, she
the victim of this crime. Certainly Mr. McDade had a motive to do what
because here’s a woman that’s out there having adulterous relationships
everyone she can come in contact with. So now the defense wants to show
and that she lies.”
evolves its delightful complexity in a manner that makes it especially
recommended for readers who want their murder mystery true crime
coverages as multifarious
as life itself. Its delightful review of circumstances will leave
thinking long after the uncertain resolution of the tale.
Return to Index
Michael Ray Ewing
Grand Canyon Press
readers are in for a treat with Satan's
Gold, which in 2014 won first prize in the Emerging Writer's
Contest for new crime fiction. Its vivid story of bankers, computer
people, and financial systems is gripping, from its opening image of
offshore money transactions to Tyler Jackson's goal of getting his life
track after a disaster.
Tyler's journey involves an obsession with hacker Daemon. This leads him on an international globe-trotting journey with Dixie at his side as he confronts a case that turned his home into a war zone and nearly cost him his life and his career.
listener, he's not patient, and he may not be up for another fight that
this journey alongside Tyler. Michael Ray Ewing excels in drawing out a
moment-by-moment series of choices, episodes, and consequences that
test Tyler's skills, objectives, and abilities.
one under the gun, here. Former partner FBI Agent Lambert (once
assigned to the
case with Tyler to track down and confront Daemon) also confronts the
of financial fraud. This leads to Russian involvement, intrigue at the
levels, and a plot which evolves a life of its own beyond genius
manipulations and flight.
nightmares come true, hard questions arise not only about the perps and
apprehension, but the wider-ranging motive behind their actions.
international crime romp that carries readers on a wave of emotion,
confrontation, and revelations. Fans of crime fiction will be kept
the end, which neatly wraps up an involving, compelling saga that
many different levels.
looking for a
complex, rich story of international plots and gambles that ultimately
challenge and pay off will find Satan's
Gold well deserving of its prize-winning status. It's an
well-detailed, compelling, action-packed story that grips from the
and doesn't let go.
Return to Index
G. P. Gottlieb
D.X. Varos, Ltd.
Paperback: 978-1-941072-87-5 $18.95
Ebook: 978-1-941072-88-2 $ 4.99
café sporting the name 'Whipped and Sipped' doesn't sound like its
be into solving a murder, but its neighboring gym owner is highly
town, and his murder somehow comes as no surprise in Smothered:
A Whipped and Sipped Mystery.
is not a
professional, but she has had prior experience solving a murder
the first book in the series). This case literally drops into her own
And so she is as drawn to the possibilities involving the deceased's
family as she is the cooking and recipes which drive her own business,
relationships, and interests.
make about this book is that more than its title is delicious.
descriptions of foods and their preparation permeate this engrossing
giving it the culinary edge that will attract audiences not usually
with mysteries: "Kacey Vanza,
daughter of the previous owner and Alene’s across-the-hall neighbor,
looking depleted. Maybe because of her new boyfriend, thought Alene.
to work cleaning, cutting and prepping vegetables to roast. She’d
someone Alene could count on. Olly Burns, with a little help from a new
employee, prepared and began frying huge pans of mushrooms and onions.
Everything smelled so smoky good, Alene started thinking about adding a
roasted and sautéed veggies to the menu. She pulled out her cell and
herself a reminder."
will attract both cozy mystery fans and those who typically read
genre is that G.P. Gottlieb uses this food focus to draw together
friends as the story unfolds, cementing relationships with a delicious
of caring and love: "Alene’s father
would be waking from his nap any moment, and he usually enjoyed a cup
cocoa no matter how hot the day was. He’d been losing weight lately, so
had brought home several tempting pastries to serve with his cocoa. Or
he’d prefer a smoothie. She started blending ingredients."
post-death wills and financial planning and obstacles to her
readers receive a delightful juxtaposition of food and detective work
bring Alene, her friends and family, and a city's interests to center
rippling effects of a murder.
explorations drive the story line as much as the intrigue, making Smothered particularly wide-ranging and
recommended not just for the usual audience of cozy mystery readers,
who want a story laced with intrigue, love, and insights into
place Smothered in a class of its
own, both in the mystery genre and beyond.
Return to Index
978-1-951490-63-8 $12.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
The Substitute follows the journey of a reclusive professor who became a virtual hermit after a terrible accident. Davyn Daeger is the last person anyone would suspect of becoming involved in espionage...which is why he is the perfect candidate for a mission that forces him out of his comfort zone and into the role of a secret agent.
Especially challenging via his brother Magne's edict to join this dangerous group is the fact that it's splintering apart—not to mention that the untrained Davyn thinks his brother long dead.
Professor Davyn Daeger's embrace of peace and quiet ends with a bang as his world ramps up to embrace impossible alliances, enemy factions, and dangerous cat-and-mouse games played out on the world chess board of intrigue. All of this brings readers into a world where the protagonist is not a willing participant, but is given the truth by Leo, a stranger charged with not only telling him that his twin brother Magne isn't really dead, but that Davyn's real inheritance is a new world of undercover operations and danger.
Readers will be engrossed by the story of a reluctant participant in espionage and spy operations. John Catan creates a logical, believable story in which an unwilling and psychologically challenged brother delves into a reality he'd never suspected.
Kaleo Sandalwood is the agent charged with leading him into this milieu, helping him locate enemy agents and hobnob with the underworld bigwigs. But can she lead him back out safely?
Catan's attention to psychological depth and detail as Davyn makes impossible leaps, only to find that his skills lend to the job in unexpected ways, makes for a powerful story of not just spies, but personal growth.
The intrigue is well done and a sense of
humor often enters into the picture as Leo and Davyn interact and move
forth between very different worlds:
Leo came around to his side of the car. “I know you just put them on, but pull down your pants. I have to clean up that leg.”
“But we have to get to the university.”
“It can wait ten minutes. You could develop an infection. Maybe gangrene.”
Davyn shook his head and unzipped his pants, then pulled them down around his ankles.
Leo laughed. “Ooh, nice boxers.”
“I know,” he said with uncharacteristic enthusiasm. “Max picked these out for me. Nice, right?”
Substitute is inviting,
whimsical, engrossing, action-packed, and a different kind of crime
that will appeal to mature teens and adult audiences alike.
Return to Index
Black Rose Writing
is Book 1 in the 'Erica Rosen MD' trilogy and a fine medical thriller
lines of Robin Cook. It considers Dr. Rosen's first investigative
the course of her practice when she observes a Chinese child with
eyes and a secretive mother who seems afraid.
that the girl's brother harbors a genetic mutation as well, Dr. Rosen
suspect that more is going on than a possible illegal immigrant
embarks on an investigation that reveals a secret Chinese experimental
embryonic gene editing program and the threat posed by a scared
ability to reconcile her role as a pediatric doctor with her evolving
thwarting not just the operations of a secret lab but an international
enhances a story that is filled with intrigue as she visits China and
herself not only in a mystery, but Chinese culture and history.
welcome side dish of humor served at subtle points that melds nicely
medical intrigue and cultural revelations: "As we drove
wild streets of Beijing, our NASCAR professional spoke obsessively
cars and the drivers he saw, constantly reminding us the motorists in
showed terrible technique, which explained why there were no Chinese
drivers. I wondered if the real reason was the Chinese were simply too
drive around in circles all day."
engineering, and Dr. Rosen's increasing involvement in not just solving
mystery, but becoming part of a process she barely understands, makes
action-packed story that cements its riveting adventure with strong
hidden motives, and twists and turns readers won't always see coming.
contains much food for thought as it exposes a Chinese plot to
children and gain more dominance in the world through manipulating
and citizens alike.
for a fast-paced medical thriller will find Unnatural
compelling story that sets the stage for more.
Return to Index
debut novel Back Again holds many surprises; not
the least of which is
its powerful, well-organized plot and voice. Debut novels can either
break a writer. This one's a clear winner from the start: "Wendy
Halstad was in church, up front, all alone, in a jar. She was dead,
ashes and all that. Massive heart attack, fifty years old, no warning,
symptoms, no time to say goodbye. Just kerplop, and that was that."
observational style weaves through the story with finesse unusual in a
novel. As readers absorb the tale of a woman who seemingly returns to
years after the funeral detailed above, showing up at her husband's
it embraces new possibilities.
returned? There's always unfinished business, but Wendy has her sights
something special...tasks that embraces Michael's living world in a
return from the dead, would it be for small concerns or bigger-picture
objectives? Wendy's newfound mission to improve not just the town or
husband but the world serves as a driving force for good even as its
from an impossible scenario.
focuses on a 'noble scheme' for conflict abatement, humor maintains a
stream through meetings, ambitions, and impossible discussions: "Excellent!”
Melinda nearly yelled. “The link between the
elimination of coal and the
advent of fully renewable! Why haven’t I heard of this before?” “Umm…
I’m an itty, bitty cog in a giant industrial conundrum?” Peter replied.
let out a howl. “How did you get out of MIT with a sense of humor
Peter responded modestly, “They figured they either had to graduate me
me. Nobody’s a very good shot up there.”
fixer with a new purpose to life, having left and returned to it with a
different perspective, Wendy spreads her message and purpose
with it are altered perceptions of those around her and their
good and bad choices alike: "...a young man shot me there as
front of the Al-Hakeem Mosque in Minneapolis. It turned out that he was
caring fellow who was somewhat confused.” Crowley chimed in, “And this
young fellow’ shot you.” “Three times, actually, but he apologized, and
helped him with an alibi.” And she shrugged. “What can I say? It’s not
me. It’s about humans rejecting nonsense, dogma, and their self-imposed
limitations. Killing each other in the name of god. It’s about
growth, after thousands of years of near stagnation."
cultivates this revised objective, Wendy will change everything not
just by her
resurrection, but by her responses to adversity in the world, from
political and beyond.
novel is delightful. It weaves together new perceptions of social ills,
individual responsibility, the effects of resurrection on the world,
business ventures that create new underlying values for living life.
finest achievement in writing this story is how one individual's
appearance and revised attitude slowly begins to change the world
tone that resides somewhere between the processes of a business novel
evolution of a miracle. The fact that Wendy has no real idea of exactly
she's come back again, but proceeds to live a vastly revised life that
out to affect everyone around her, makes for an intriguing read that
social and political transformation into the notion that revising
lives is an achievable goal for one person.
choose Back Again will delight in its unusual
combination of pragmatic
systems assessment (business, social, and political) and personal
changed by not just Wendy's appearance, but her newfound approach to
highly recommended reading for its original perspective. If at times
seems too positive...that's a big plus in a literary environment more
filled with descriptions of angst.
Return to Index
Jenni L. Walsh
Betting Woman tells of Simone
Jules (aka 'Madame Mustache'), who arrives in San Francisco in 1849
death of her family in a fire. Broke and bereaved, Simone needs a job,
Fate brings her into the unusual position of being a blackjack dealer
at a card
table, where she makes her mark as an exotic French-speaking woman who
pizzazz to the process.
this vivid story in the first person. This approach brings the milieu
San Francisco to life as Simone captures the City's sights, sounds, and
end there, because romance and murder lead Simone to a new town, a new
as gambling hall matron Eleanor Dumont, and yet another revised life
serving as the backdrop for her achievements and confrontations, A Betting Woman provides historical
novel readers with a special blend of real history and fictional drama
will attract not just history buffs, but women who enjoy strong female
characters determined to survive.
and language is part of what drives this moving story, from its first
paragraphs: "I had arrived; ready to
start anew, with nothing but two trunks, a mouth of deceptions, and my
memories. Opportunity whistled through San Francisco, where its gold
discovered accidentally, unexpectedly. One could’ve said the same about
spunky character's feel throughout life's slings and arrows and the
changing circumstance that drives her not outward, but upward. The
romance and its delicate dance is also very nicely described and
written: "The night continued. David
and I danced around each other in words, expressions, and stolen
say his presence shook me and left me off kilter would be an
didn’t want to let on that I knew him beyond an old acquaintance, and
to understand me and give me that courtesy. He didn’t refer to me as
nor as Eleanor. Only Madame. His eyes flickered to my ringless finger
again, perhaps wondering when and why I exchanged the title of
I was so often called back home. Had I married? Or did I simply prefer
respected title? I saw the questions in his head."
A Betting Woman is an engrossing story,
very well done and hard to
put down. Hopefully, it will reach beyond historical fiction audiences
enthusiasts of women's literature who look for powerful voices,
descriptions, and growth in their novels.
Return to Index
Dirt Road Main Street
Cynthia L. Clark
9781977234506 $18.95 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Readers of romantic thrillers who seek a
winning combination of intrigue surrounding a romantic fling that
later will find Dirt Road Main Street a cut above
Two disparate individuals meet after a music concert in a chance encounter that involves band member Tano giving a lift to stranded girl Holly. Tano is on his way to success in several ways, but as the years pass, he just can't forget his intense ride with Holly and the unrequited possibilities that emerged from that short encounter. And so he throws caution to the wind and decides to track her down with little more to go on than her first name and the tiny town of Sage, Oklahoma, where he left her standing on the dirt road main street.
evolves from this decision that brings them together, introducing more
danger into their lives as they struggle with the insanity of the world
them, which threatens to drag them both down.
Road Main Street to be a singular
lost-then-found-again love story will be delighted by its complexity.
moves from loss and rediscovery to elements of introspection and
questions the possibility and validity of love and strength.
Holly is no infatuated silly girl, but a
strong young woman following her own destiny. Tano's self-made careers
something he never contemplated sharing or compromising with another.
prevented him from revealing his heart the first time; but even when he
on a journey newly determined to pursue a different outcome, he
barriers that challenge not just his ability to love, but to survive.
Cynthia L. Clark injects just the right
degree of physical and emotional connection into her story to give it a
compelling romantic focus while maintaining other elements of intrigue
threat that balance out each character's realizations.
When Tano left her the first time, it was
with the certainty that Holly needs to find her direction first; and
likely won't involve him. When he pursues her the second time, five
later, it's with the realization that no woman he's met since can
the connection they made during that journey.
His growth, and hers, are central to the
story, giving them the added power to not just pursue a relationship
other, but survive everything from jilted exes to the threat of
Holly's discovery that Tano is not finished
with her is the beginning of a change that ripples through their lives
everyone around them. It also will ripple through readers looking for
a predictable romance, who will appreciate the elements of suspense
the mix and the uncertainty of whether Holly and Tano's shared love of
and each other will lead them out of danger and into a life together.
Street is nicely steeped in
action, and emotion. It will delight readers looking for the trappings
good romance along with the added value of something greater.
Return to Index
Dread Tribunal of Last Resort
1432869647 Hardcover $25.95
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Dread-Tribunal-Resort-Brian-Kaufman/dp/1432869647
Decker Brown is an educated young Virginian
who has the world ahead of him as he plans both a new career producing
'illuminations' (fireworks) and his marriage to Paula Crane, the
daughter of a
flour mill operator. Everything seems bright until the Civil War
lives. It's not just that Decker has to go to war himself. It's that
fighting a battle of ideals in his own life with a fiancée who won't
friends and family she loves even if Decker is convinced that the
liberty are worth the cost.
Last Resort moves the Civil War
experience away from the usual battlefield focus and into the ordinary
those forced to choose a side. It analyzes the choices, influences,
struggles between individuals as well as within the blossoming nation.
story moves between the perspectives of Decker and Paula as he fights,
tends the wounded, and each finds their dreams turned upside down, much
their relationship with one another.
How do couples heal from such a breach? Much
like the nation does. Brian Kaufman crafts a story that
sides and the causes that drive them. From what makes a hero and the
consequences of decisions to the rebuilding of relationships after
loss and confrontation, Dread Tribunal of Last Resort creates a moving story that delves into the
hearts and minds of those who become swept up in a war of ideals.
More so than most Civil War fiction, it
represents both sides and the impact of this event on their present and
Readers interested in historical fiction
that goes beyond the typical battlefield experience to delve into the
daily routines and ideals of those involved will find Dread
Tribunal of Last
Resort a strong story of recovery that finds its way back to
focus on illumination in a compelling, revealing manner.
Return to Index
Everything is Fine
Orion Publishing Group Ltd.
9781409191865 $15.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
is Fine is at once hilarious,
thought-provoking, and evocative—the perfect panacea for hard times,
recommended for cozy reading by a warm fire.
Its heroine, Jessica Bradley, seems to have
it all: a happy home, a popular blog about healthy eating, and a
career. Behind the scenes, though, none of this is true. Her actual
doesn't reflect the public image she so carefully cultivates, and as
emerges, things begin to fall apart.
Her reflections on how she arrived at this
point are both sad and funny: "Dave was one of those people
passions were infectious (he’d also given her chlamydia in the first
they were over that now) and she’d suddenly found herself pumping iron
posting the kind of selfies usually only taken by millionaires with
implants. The clicks on her blog had gone through the roof, and she’d
a post-workout picture of her sweaty cleavage go viral.
But who can keep that level of commitment up long-term? she thought. After all, she was only human, and had eaten so many eggs in various guises recently that she’d forgotten what it was like to do a normal poo."
As readers receive a lively exploration of
the myths and realities of Jessica's life, they are drawn into a story
explores the ironies, inconsistencies, and influences of a modern young
blogger. Her focus on dietary health begins to challenge her role as a
and individual whose life does not adher to the trajectory of her
Gillian Harvey excels in peppering fun
images and reflections throughout this story: "She tried to
herself that no publicity was bad publicity. But she couldn’t put a
angle on the picture of her bottom straining through her leggings.
There was no
As Jessica faces beau Dave's support for her
getting 'back on track' (the kind of track he approves of...) and the
consequences of a weight gain that threatens everything, women will
relate to the process of her growth beyond her body image and the
she's built around ideals of health and beauty.
Funny, absorbing, and entirely recognizable,
Jessica's story is highly recommended for chick lit and women's fiction
readers. These audiences will find it just the ticket for fun, offering
reassessments of bodily image and life challenges and pursuits that
that, in her all pursuits, "Maybe she’d not recognised the
good in her
Return to Index
Everything That Came Before Grace
Paperback: 9798697945605 $12.99
eBook: 978-1-62660-156-7 $ 2.99
Came Before Grace reveals a
father-daughter journey like few others. Not only is protagonist
Bradford a single father in charge of raising his child, but
simultaneously struggles with mental illness. The question becomes: can
exert enough control over his condition to be an effective and good
Some of the characters are fictionalized, as
is the first-person narrator Benjamin Bradford. All are based
events and people. Added drama and human interest follows this journey
realistic insights into the process of obtaining therapy and being a
I wait for my long-time therapist to bring up my chart for about the
time, I take my usual seat next to the window overlooking the teeming
on Washington Boulevard. I look up at the Christmas cards draped from
of the office to the other. It’s that time of year. The dread and
brought on by the holiday season, and judging by how crowded the
was, business must be booming around here. Nine years ago, I was a
trying to keep it together after everything that happened. Someone told
get some therapy, and I’ve been coming here ever since."
As the story evolves, readers receive a
powerful literary coming-of-age story about struggle, achievement, and
as Benjamin raises Sophia to the best of his ability.
From letters exchanged between Anna
Robertson, the only girl he ever loved, and Benjamin to her marriage to
best friend and the changes that take place between them, Bill See
extraordinary compelling tale that embraces love, loss, college life,
parenthood, and other transition points in life with an astute eye to
Readers become immersed in Benjamin's life
and conundrums even as they absorb the special bond between parent and
that leads Benjamin on the road to an uncertain recovery as Sophia
grows up and
into her own role in her life and his.
The Los Angeles culture and music woven into
this story add depth to its atmosphere and revelations.
The result is an engrossing saga of
evolution and insight that will touch any reader interested in love,
learning as a vet tech struggles with past, present, mental illness's
challenges, and his duty to his daughter. It's especially highly
reading for those who look for complex probes of how mental illness
Return to Index
Few Yards Shy
978-1-4520-4700-3 $17.99 Paper/$28.49 Hardcover
Few Yards Shy of
Heaven is a football story set in
1980 South Heaven, Ohio, and tells of a
small town that finds comfort in football season against the strife,
and changes that affect residents from all walks of life.
expect this story to adopt a small town perspective, but it opens with
first-person reflection of an outsider—a young reporter who finds a
Heaven assignment a paradigm-changing journey.
Melvin Wright's assignment to venture into the town to write about the
of auto plants which are closing is simply another feather in his
news cap; but underneath, he acknowledges that change is in the wind: "With
a couple of decades under my belt, I thought I was too old to be
the sensation of homesickness. For the educated, such a sensation had
to be a
weakness of a shallow and uncreative mind. I was hardly that person.
as cityscape bled into suburbia, suburbia touched the fringes of small
America, and small town America recognized the serenity of the country,
a disappointing twinge and tingle in my gut. Beyond the family
never had a reason to leave Cleveland and home."
a sports reporter and not a beat reporter, he encounters quite a
world that he anticipates will be singular...but it's not.
of South Heaven's culture, politics, sports and business worlds
why the small town pins all their hopes and dreams on the Rangers
especially grudgingly investigated because Melvin resents his latest
and, conversely, the people in this small town. He never wanted to be
the middle of nowhere to become involved in a sports season's
this, Melvin finds the town replete with interesting characters,
underlying social pressures, and a story that expands from football and
town's passion to its connections with growth and survival. He also
the newspaper is one of the pivotal mainstays for keeping these people
together: “Don’t let nuthin’ happen’ to the paper, Boy. The
story’s the team
now. Paper needs to be followin’ the team.”
noted that, like the protagonist, readers will find that football game
explorations and play-by-play descriptions abound. Those who read on
that the soul of the small town lies within these plays and audience
Most of all, Melvin's own attitude, professional approach, and life are
unexpectedly changed by his assignments.
result is a
novel that embraces not just the sport, but the psyche of a small town
faithful believers, hope, and impossible wins will draw even non-sports
into the tale of a reporter's dive into a world he not only hasn't
before, but initially resents.
who look for stories of evolving community life will find A
Few Yards Shy of
Heaven has its finger on the pulse of American small town
changes as it
uses the passion of a sport to reflect the hopes, dreams, and
pursuits of a world in flux.
Return to Index
approaching forty, but in many ways he's never left home. He physically
in a Florida granny unit above his parents' garage, he has a job as a
production assistant, and he leads a quiet life. The
Friends of Allan Renner explores this milieu and the forces
which finally lead him away from his roots and predictable security and
the main character is a mirror of his creator, Dave J. Andrae, the
narrated from the changing perspectives of not only Renner but eight of
friends. This makes for an astute observation of the evolution of
and psyche, both from the protagonist's viewpoint and those around him.
Renner's life and choices and those of his friends is excellent,
creating a synthesis
of life objectives and impressions that explore different processes of
maturity, life choices, consequences, and their ultimate end results.
community it explores, the pace of this story is provided in staccato
impressions with segues that link characters, events, and changing
circumstances in a satisfying cinematic-style experience.
Alan's review of a not-unsatisfying, calm life: "Allan
Paul Renner knew the drill as he approached his forties: he
and everyone else who wasn’t under the gun and faced with the
lucky to be alive. He hadn’t always felt this way. In the past, it
seemed as if human life had been devalued by the world; existence
hassle for such fleeting rewards, and an awful lot was riding on very
Or maybe very little was riding on an awful lot, he wasn’t sure. Either
there seemed to be a lack of love in the public sphere."
are all very different, from Akhil Das, a high school guidance
he meets by chance at a ball game both have little interest in
Seelenfreund, a filmmaker who
joins his inner circle. Some of his friends are dogs, such as the
Ruby. And some are even stranger, such as Xynnulu, who brings Allan on
The Friends of Allan Renner evolves,
readers will find the expansion of friendships and their impact to be
delightful. There is no clear, predictable path to the outcomes Allan
during his romp through life, and thus readers receive no singular
productions to strategic life moves and world-changing introductions to
ideas, Allan's journey embraces not just psychological but
changes that lead him in unexpected growth directions: "How
have I looked up at that ceiling at night instead of at the stars?
problem with being a person on Earth: you’re almost always confined in
way. We fetter ourselves just as much as the world fetters us,
more than an exploration of middle-age angst, surveying the special
growth friends can influence and foster, and what evolves when a man
privy to universe-changing secrets.
begin with typical middle age concerns and move into fantastic realms
The Friends of Allan Renner a
multifaceted, delightful read.
Return to Index
From Rome With Love
Union Bay Publishing
978-1-7352411-2-8 $12.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
When Lucy Goff accepted a job as a nanny for
a Seattle couple, she didn't anticipate that it would involve Christmas
foreign country, much less the possibility of romance. From
Rome With Love
follows her journey from America to Europe and beyond, adding a healthy
intrigue when teen Tabatha's parents vanish, leaving her alone and
As if this weren't enough tension, Kate
Lloyd adds into the mix a handsome possible Italian rescuer (or, is
he?), an ex-boyfriend,
and family secrets.
All this might seem surprising in a
Christmas story, but one of the pleasures of From Rome With
Love lies in
not just its unexpected twists and turns, but its ability to inject a
realistic, logical atmosphere into its evolving tale of Lucy and
The story is narrated in the first person by
Lucy. One of her first chilling threats is that she might be fired by
employer: "If they fired me, what would I do by myself in
would I get home? I imagined myself in the vast Fiumicino Airport days
Christmas hoping to catch a flight. Not that I could afford to without
further into my savings account."
But employer Gretchen hasn't exactly been
forthright with Lucy, either, about Tabatha's personality and problems.
Lucy has a double challenge in the beginning, both in proving herself
what is wrong with Tabatha. Her ability to bond with the girl helps her
connections based on her own experiences as a teen: "You’re
not fat in
the slightest.” If anything, she was skinny. “Where did all this come
saw a beautiful girl downstairs in the lobby . . .” “So what?” I knew
mind was headed. I’d looped through that slippery slope too many times
And soothed myself with a pill."
Kate Lloyd's ability to build her story as
much on evolving relationships as on building intrigue are part of what
Rome With Love a lovely flavor of complexity beyond the usual
is Lucy's struggles with her own family makeup and her typical reaction
strife, which comes to light when she introduces Tabatha into the mix
mother and beau Tom Baker: "Apparently,
hearing the details of my father’s demise had sent me into a sea of
My body ached to its core. If only I had one little white pill to salve
newly opened wound. I was tempted to check Mama’s medicine chest up in
and Lucy's struggle with narcotics addiction and recovery takes center
readers receive an unforgettable story of a new life challenged by
possibilities and struggles.
surrounding a missing painting and a nanny's struggles with her
employer over a
daughter's trajectory in life crafts an absorbing story of growth,
even a touch of romance. These facets belay the usual pat scenarios and
solutions of a holiday novel and provide a taste of something different.
their stories realistic, compelling, and multifaceted will find From
With Love a real winner, perfect
for holiday reading.
Return to Index
How to Make a Life
Florence Reiss Kraut
She Writes Press
978-1-63152-779-1 $16.95 Paper/$9.49 ebook
to Make a Life introduces Beilah
and daughter Chaya, who
flee a catastrophic pogrom in Kotovka, Ukraine, for America in 1905.
effects of their decisions will resonate through the decades as family
secrets, love, and hard choices affect the Weissman family's lives in
and beyond, generations later. How to Make a Life
provides a focus not
just on single choices and actions, but how these ripple across other
inherit the legacy of these decisions.
It should be cautioned that this is no light
psychological survey. Violent scenes open this story of oppression and
as Beilah and Chaya face the wrenching results of an attack that kills
loved ones, including children.
Determined to leave the threat behind and
start new lives, they manage to escape to America, change their names,
start over. But the past is never far behind, and Ida, and Bessie's new
tinged by heritage and connections they cannot ignore.
As new lives in Brooklyn lead into World War
II and around the world as cultures entwine, reconnect, and change the
Reiss Kraut creates a sweeping saga that is vivid. It embraces social
political changes, capturing the dilemmas and past and present
challenges of a
family whose real inheritance lies in the lives and connections of
loved, lost, or grew close to.
times are nicely portrayed: "Women
working? That’s a man’s job. And to Irene’s hesitant thoughts that she
in Brooklyn College, he had roared his disapproval. Why do you have to
college? What are you going to do with a college degree? Faye insisted
just didn’t want Irene to be more educated than he was. He was afraid
outshine him. Irene had wondered if that were true."
value of an
intergenerational epic like this lies in its ability to capture the
perspectives and legacy of choices and consequences passed down over
Kraut deftly captures these pivot points, juxtaposing past and present
compelling fashion that illustrates the changes and characters'
them, and how their bequests live on to change lives.
generations explores new possibilities. The move from tragedy and
rebirth and revision is traced with a strong attention to not just
lives, but perspectives altered over time by all forces, past and
immigrant story that will delight readers interested in how the seed of
in one life takes root to produce hope in the future. It's a
that will attract novel readers looking for a read both epic and well
in both adversity and recovery.
Return to Index
Vivus Historical Press
Lockett's Betrayal is a prequel to Lockett's Crucible, and is a solid work
of historical fiction that
rests solidly on T.J. Johnston's research into Civil War era events
the Battle of Shiloh and clashes in Tennessee. Set in 1861-1862, it
origins of the Boys From Kalamazoo as an addition to the series,
the fictional characters of James Lockett and Blair’s Independent
real historical facts in a swirl of action.
lines covering 1862 Tennessee, readers are drawn into the sights,
sounds of the rural area: "The heat
and humidity would have been suffocating alone, but it was the
smell of the corpses that truly made this hell on earth. The stench of
thousands of bodies, already blackening and bloating, hung like a vile
the remains of the battlefield. A troop of cavalry rode by. There was a
perplexing jauntiness and galling ease to them. How could anyone
relaxed oblivion to this visage? It was beyond comprehension to those
the burial trench."
Lockett is at the scene of a cataclysmic destruction that is the
two days of heavy battle at Shiloh. The devastation is the result of
mismatched troop's actions. As he surveys the aftermath of war and the
of his promotion by General Grant, he questions the effort and its
expect (and receive) a hefty focus on battles won and people lost, the
in Lockett's Betrayal lies in its
close inspection of the political and military processes which affect
strategies, decisions, and outcomes, both in conflict and within the
ranks: "Of course, the men had backed
Lockett’s version of the story, but General Halleck had scoffed at the
that Lieutenant Long and Congressman Willey were lying. Naturally, the
would support Lockett over a staff officer. The staff officer was gone,
Lockett was still the company’s officer. Common soldiers may be
they weren’t stupid, Halleck had declared. What soldier would want to
Lockett’s wrath now? Better to side with the officer they were stuck
with the one who was going away."
changing ethical and moral dilemmas of leaders and soldiers blends with
concerns such as relationship challenges between Katherine and Lockett
others, lending a fuller flavor to events than military encounters and
the characters are forced to examine each other under a different
light: "Katherine tended to agree with
Ainsley, who swore that the quick attention of James Lockett and
McManus had led to a miracle. Still, Katherine was in no mood to
James Lockett. She couldn’t believe that he had tried to lie to her and
such a straight face!"
deeds and poor choices to courage, slander, and dangerous plots,
extends beyond his intentions to affect the lives and motivations of
unexpected ways: "He had now found
at least one who was willing, a man who knew his career could be helped
having friends in the right places. The irony of it, Long smiled, was
Lockett himself had planted the seed for what was growing now into a
full-fledged plot. It would start with the steamboats."
Lockett's betrayal and actions unfold among various circles, readers
powerful story of the South and its tribulations. This both sets the
stage for Lockett's Crucible and
stands alone as a
powerful saga of Confederate actions, reactions, and confusion over
and motivations during the American Civil War.
history are in for a treat in this multifaceted historical piece, which
personalizes the battle experience, exposes underlying plots and
undercurrents to the war, and adds fictional embellishments and
that bring this era to life.
Lockett's Betrayal is a fine read
recommended for anyone with an
interest in Civil War events and conundrums.
Return to Index
Mallast 2: A Sequel gives historical
fiction readers (especially
those who have already read its predecessor Mallast)
the well-researched story of August Mallast, the author's
who, together with his brothers, immigrated to America from Europe in
mid-1800s as turmoil swept the continent.
about immigration, transformation, and the changing social and
landscapes of nations. It uses August's perspective, from age five to
adulthood, to trace these game-changing events and is especially
following family dynamics and interactions as they form alliances,
partnerships, and businesses, intermarry, involve themselves in the
Church and other social institutions, and integrate into American
immigrant experience to explore the early roots and influences of
Bob Prevost's in-depth focus and
blend of family history and research brings the times alive like few
son's talks and dreams about the future and the logic for staying or
the process of moving to unfamiliar territory with new opportunities, Mallast 2 takes the time to explore new
phases of young lives, adjustments, and cultural and generational
on many levels.
influences and politics of the Prussian-Denmark wars and their
psychological, and social influence on generations of Mallast members, Mallast 2 is a compelling account that
follows ambitions and influences of parents, sons, and daughters.
readers seeking a sweeping epic that draws readers into daily life and
concerns of the times will find Mallast 2
realistic, involving, and hard to put down.
Return to Index
Black Rose Writing
(Use the promo code: PREORDER2020 to receive a 15% discount, if purchased prior to the publication date of May 13, 2021. Mothers of Pine Way will then be available for sale online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and more.)
Mothers of Pine Way is a sequel to Fathers of Edenville and flushes out the
circumstances of the prior novel, which revolved around the love,
tragedy that swirled through a small town's families and lives.
tribute that Candelaria Hart has written to her mother opens this story
adversity and change, immediately moving to the spectacle of a home
and the pioneer history of the family that grew up in it.
dreams grow up to be mothers who impart valuable lessons to their
daughters. Mothers of Pine Way does
a fine job of
delineating the heritage, multicultural encounters and lifestyles, and
of this small town's peoples and the survivors and descendants of those
built their lives there.
story, the characters are vividly portrayed. Their special interests,
influences and heritage, and present-day conundrums coalesce, treating
to a tale that embraces the foundations of fear, guilt, and
breathe, and grow in the course of Mothers
of Pine Way. This creates a desire in the reader to
thoroughly absorb the
circumstances and influences of their lives and interpersonal
Through friendships and small town evolution to the kinds of
encounters that build close connections within and outside of the
families, Mothers of Pine Way does
outstanding job of cementing the lives and interests of all its
time to build atmosphere into these interactions. This, too,
realistic, compelling backdrop for unfolding events: "Walking
along Pine Way Junction one evening, the night's mystery
full and inward, Candelaria breathed it in, nurturing her wounded
dusk came upon a sighing breath of wind, blowing through the tall
softly rustling their dried stems. The crickets began singing all at
the lights of each house began to shine. The bark of a dog, a door
and a woman's voice, yelling to her children, were but dissonant sounds
somewhere else, somewhere so far away they could not reach her. It was
she were in love again, in love with the deep mystery, in love with
grieves for many lost opportunities and past experiences, allowing
follow her into a world of generations that learn how to survive and
lives of purpose and opportunity in Pine Way.
Mothers of Pine Way is a highly
recommended literary inspection of
small town life and connections which, like its predecessor, draws its
into the unfolding drama of mystery, revised purposes, and love.
Return to Index
Dos Perro Press
Paperback: 978-1-7352751-2-3 $12.99
Ebook: 978-1-7352751-3-0 $ 2.99
appreciate literary thrillers—those a cut above the norm in character
development and plot—will find The
Narrows just the ticket for a read that goes beyond
The Narrows is the second book in the
'Raymond Hatcher Stories'
series, both complimenting A Lion in the
Grass and standing alone as a continuation of the family's
story. Set on
Cape Cod, it explores first cousins Bradley Wright and Larry Brown as
is on a
mission to rescue his cousin from a religious cult group. He's working
Black Lightning, who is intent on not just rescue but deprogramming
members from their training and influences.
happening in this story than an effort to rescue a family member,
the course of embarking on this journey far from his comfort zone as a
nerd and teacher, Larry finds that he, too, is reassessing life, his
it, his dreams, and his influences.
focus on Larry's growth process and revelations is wonderful. His laser
captures nuances of Larry's introspection and evolution in a
literary manner designed to both provide psychological inspection and
that this story comes with many in-depth reflections. Those who look
succinct writing might think that some editing could have better
these sections, but part of the power of this tale lies in its
thoughts: "Frankness is not a
quality one finds in any great abundance in most people. Actually,
your life do you run across a person who is completely frank. I don’t
an honest person, who may refrain from speaking his mind on occasion to
your feelings. I mean someone who will step right up and tell you
you’re a dumb
ass when you need him to. The problem is that most people, by their
indirect. I don’t know whether it’s a matter of solicitude, by which I
that people are generally reluctant to confront you with an observation
might distress you, or a matter of insecurity, by which I mean that
make a frank, personal statement to someone, you often reveal as much
yourself as about the person you are addressing."
perspective changes, readers receive a story that juxtaposes dreams,
and schemes with a winning story of transformation and changing
on many levels.
dilemmas in the first person also allows for a level of understanding
emphasizes the movement he makes in accepting himself, his place in the
and political world, and his motivations and influences: "Time
has no respect for what befalls you, I thought as I walked
toward Millie’s with my hastily written note clutched in my pocket. You
sail your life’s course with the smoothest of tacks, until one day
awaken and before the day is over your dog will die, your sister will
by a car and there will be a coup in Chile. There’s no sense in it.
It’s as if
all these occurrences were discrete little segments delivered to you in
compact little boxes that take-out Chinese food comes in."
novels replete in psychological and social inspection, as well as prior
of the Raymond Hatcher family's evolution, will find The
Narrows powerfully employs dialogue, philosophical and
reflection, and a slice-of-life feel so expansive that it's hard to
timeline embraces only ten pivotal days in the narrator's life. The
that affect an ordinary teacher's goals are remarkably astute in their
psychological inspection with components of thriller reading will
literary seekers of quality fiction.
Return to Index
Printer & Strumpet is Book 2 of
the 'Misadventures of Leeds
Merriweather' trilogy, and opens in 1773 Boston, where Englishman Leeds
Merriweather owns a newspaper. Trouble is brewing between England and
placing him in a precarious position in more ways than one. His
challenge is to try to remain neutral in the face of this blossoming
Hughes is making no attempt at neutrality, and is firing up the
patriotic Americans by passing along to Leeds stories of British
secrets that she and her girls learn while servicing clients at the
objective to expose secrets that could change the outcome of rising
each wants to protect their current status and business efforts. It
logical that they would join forces to create an anonymous publication
only face political differences in the course of their uncertain
added danger when the specter of romance rears its somewhat ugly head
fire to the fray.
into a world that opened in Book 1 with 2013's The Patterer, but this sequel needs no prior introduction
to prove thoroughly engrossing. Leeds narrates his eavesdropping,
and conundrums in the first person, drawing readers neatly into the era
reactions to new challenges that place him in different positions he
relishes: "If I had learned anything from being a witness to
and reporting the facts that I saw with my own eyes, it was that I may
stumbled upon a previously unheard of form of journalism. Reporter
Until now, newspapers passed along letters, essays, articles from other
newspapers, officials documents, and advertisements. Repeating
was from a two-week-old copy of some other newspaper was considered
This level of involvement—seeing, hearing, and then reporting—was
unheard of. I
As his little print shop becomes the focal
point of opposing forces, Leeds faces many new challenges, introducing
to the evolving politics of these times with a personal flair for
make strange bedfellows,” I paraphrased Shakespeare with a shrug. I was
fully convinced at that moment that I had skipped across the partisan
join them on the other side. This fight was too personal for that. I
battle in early March."
Readers might also recognize many of these
conundrums as being timeless or applicable to modern times, from
theories and real and imagined government abuse of power to corporate
Clinton Murdoch, who loots his beloved News-Journal, only
to suffer a
sudden death that may be more sinister than the assignment of natural
Sally's spunky persistence contrasts nicely
with Leeds' evolving personality and processes. The lively
paired with a fine flavor of the social and political norms of the
creates a read which carries readers into the era with a deft, precise
attention to description, atmosphere, and intrigue.
Readers seeking a historical romp through
early Boston that layers interpersonal and political struggles with a
humor and realistic observation will find Printer
& Strumpet works nicely as both a stand-alone read
an addition to the series.
Return to Index
Black Heron Press
and Jen are
high school seniors and sweethearts at the end of the Eisenhower era.
story is set in California, where the two meet in a creative writing
While readers might think that this would make the novel suitable for
adults, it should be cautioned that its fair amount of erotic
it more appropriate reading for new adult and adult readers, who will
appreciate both its depth and focus and the erotic encounters
not just Bob and Jen, but the characters surrounding them.
culture of Southern California to descriptions of the girls Bob dates
relationships he fields, the story assumes a realistic tone that draws
in with a blend of sexual escapades and the efforts of two lower middle
white kids to fit into a changing world.
this story for its sexual promise alone will find it a tale that
kinds of new adult concerns, from getting married in Mexico to trying
lives and careers in a rapidly-changing USA.
adventure trying to stealing a turkey when they can't afford one for
Thanksgiving to family affairs, the possibilities of having children,
warehouse work that enhances his strength but presents unexpected
challenges, readers move through an era replete with challenges.
choice of making his main characters somewhat under-educated (Bob has
heard of the Green Berets, even though he's a new adult) and
lends a tone of realistic assessment to their world and experiences.
There is a
satisfying difference between this story and typical new adult coming
tales which take place under different socio-economic settings,
special struggles of two young adults as they try to find a way to
frustration with his life is nicely portrayed: "Sometimes
wasn’t home when he returned, he wanted to scream loudly enough to
world. He imagined himself yelling at her, throwing things against the
lamp, dishes, an ashtray—and he would pace the living room, unable to
himself from looking out the window each time he came to it, hoping to
in the distance, walking back to their apartment from Tom’s."
the times, including the rise of anti-Semitism and prejudice, are
into the plot to give it a full-bodied flavor.
The result is a
fine saga not just about a sexual relationship or love, as the title
but about new adults who field sex, a breakup, and new beginnings to
circle. It's a warm story that will engage any reader interested in how
relationships grow, change, and eventually move from couple-oriented
embrace new possibilities in the wider world.
Return to Index
A Simple Job
Ebound Books Publishing
978-1-7357024-1-4 $2.99 Kindle
In A Simple Job, Eli Asher's
his family about their financial health is about to catch up with him.
solution is to find a good job. One is offered...but it's not the kind
he would have chosen, under other circumstances. But the lure of a
society that promises good-paying 'simple' jobs is too much. The lack
opportunities because of COVID mean he hasn't many choices, and so Eli
on a journey that takes him away from his beloved 'love pod' family and
daunting world that challenges him on many new levels.
Readers who anticipate that this story will
be a dystopian piece about COVID, or a mystery, will find that A
Simple Job holds
many surprises. It's a work of literature that pairs humor and growth
twists that occur from the start, when Eli's job interview fails before
gets a chance because his competitor is somehow recognized and granted
position without even an interview.
Although Eli is forced to not confide much
to his wife about the secret society, he does connect with her via
different ways. Their conversations reinforce their long-distance bond
disparate lives. They also acknowledge his growth and changes: "He tells her
about the humidity, the
work, and mostly about Terrance. The deep affection he already has for
is clear to her. She is surprised and happy. Her husband usually isn’t
make fast friends, especially with older men. She had noticed Jim’s
affection for her husband right from the start. Eli still fought most
man's attempts to bond and any offer of help that he ever made. This
must be impressive in more ways than his giant size."
The help he provides to others and their
reactions to COVID and rebuilding lives assume newfound meaning and
that Eli has never felt before as he hears, from the trenches of the
and life, how determined people are changing everything: “When
I started a
business, I told myself that every employee that I hire who works hard
a good job will have a job for as long as I have my business. I will
working in the best conditions for the best wages that I can possibly
through whatever life throws my way. Things are a little tough right
it's a small price to pay to have kept my word.” “That's great that you
your word to them.” “No, you are mistaken, you do not understand. I
kept my word
to myself. Keeping your word is something some people think you do for
people. I know keeping your word is something you do for yourself.”
Simple Job is a novel about
transformation beyond jobs, debt, and family circles, set in an age
everything is distancing and changing.
Any fiction reader in 2020 and beyond will
find Eli's journey memorable, remarkable, and compelling as Eli finds
he loves and comes full circle to bring it all back home.
Return to Index
John E. Espy
fiction readers interested in 20th century small-town Kentucky's
racial strife will find The Sugar Maple Grove a
powerful saga of
confrontation, uprising, and change. It holds a frightening message for
times as it outlines the possibility of the kinds of prejudice this
be returning to.
such, John E.
Espy's message, albeit seemingly about the past, could not hold a more
reminder of our possible future as the story unfolds. It presents one
revolt against prejudice and murder, which resonates through the years
affect future generations determined not to let repression take over
condoned the status quo and inhumane operations and perceptions to the
corporate tyranny that condoned these attitudes for the sake of their
lines, The Sugar Maple Grove is replete with
made all the more powerful for the colloquial accents of its
in these opening lines: "And then, there was Flem. Flem
three brothers, who now are long at rest. And always when he was
turnin’ this way and that, the same distressin’ dream would come to
and he’d see them after the blast, layin’ there boxed-up with their
forever folded across their breasts. On that airish fall morning about
so, he awoke to a thick hoary fog covering the holler."
ability to cultivate
unique local voices,
hard-hitting perspectives, and changing lives, and his focus on making
links between the immediacy and events of the past and modern times is
gives The Sugar Maple Grove
of how individuals are influenced are particularly well written: "Happy
Jack listened and listened. The more time he dedicated to listening and
learning the ins and the outs of union organizing, the better his life
Brand new this and brand new that, it always seemed he had something
new to show
off, either by folks noticing or him just outright bragging it up."
another hand, these
events would have been
regulated to historical matters. Between Espy's powerful descriptions
attention to capturing the social and cultural atmosphere (as well as
politics) of the times, readers are in for a real treat. The novel that
striking in both its voice, its descriptions, and its captivating
how people bow down to or rise up against prejudice and forces of greed
hard-hitting, powerful novel of a
changing world and the forces and choices that dictate its directions
consider The Sugar Maple Grove
a 'must' not just for its exploration of the past, but for its
warning about the future of relationships and freedom in America.
Grove is very, very highly
Return to Index
Deborah Clark Vance
Paperback: 9781662902925 $19.95
Ebook : 9781662902932 $ 8.99
Sylvie Denied is the coming-of-age story
of a young woman of the
1970s who decides to influence the world around her by cultivating a
response to adversity. She sets aside her inheritance of being a victim
the course of a journey through various communities on two continents.
this process, Sylvie sees how the bigger patterns of masculine
social hierarchies repeat themselves in these microcosms, and grows to
place in the world.
efforts, her childhood trauma leads her into a relationship with the
whom she eventually marries. Thus continues a pattern of violence which
from her childhood experiences to adult patterns, mimicking those she
too familiar with.
times has it
been theorized that violence can be conquered by peaceful intentions?
here Sylvie struggles with the best of intentions gone awry.
faced abuse or trauma will empathize with Sylvie's determination to be
different and beat the odds, only to fail to recognize the warning
she is falling into a similar life also filled with conflict and threat.
takes the time to capture Sylvie's childhood perceptions of her actions
of the adults around her: "Sylvie
was overwhelmed by the question of whether adults were clueless or just
to be. But she remained aware and did what Mr. Cook called “getting the
to exploring her blossoming relationship with the more worldly Enzo,
cultivates tricks for gaining what he wants from others, no matter the
cost: "Enzo whispered, “Keep away from those
germy guys and take your food quickly.” They carried their breakfast to
a stone ledge by the fountain and dipped the crusts into the lukewarm
cappuccino and sucked on them. “This is something the church does for
too?” She felt uncomfortable about possibly stealing from the indigent."
works a way out of her dilemma, she finds social and financial barriers
the mother of a small child who wants to forge a new pathway, who holds
experience in a world as unforgiving and uncaring as the one she's
herself: "I see you’re looking for something live-in? Like a
considered whether to mention Enzo’s abuse, whether this was where
she’d find a
way out. But he’d only hit her twice in the past six months—who’d care
that, even if they believed her?"
story of how Sylvie finally learns to put herself first and find a
place in the
world for herself and her daughter will appeal to any woman who has
almost everything is easier to get into than get out of.
literature readers will find Sylvie
Denied a hard-hitting, familiar-feeling story of growth and
Return to Index
of the Flock:
Franklin and Mesmer in Paris is
set in 1776 and opens with Benjamin Franklin's sea journey to gain
support from the French king for the new United States. As an
job is to promote goodwill and the financial ties that will strengthen
Given this setting, readers might anticipate
a historical novel about political processes, but Steve M. Gnatz adds
background about Franklin's life, personal concerns, scientific
relationships which all operate in the arena of changing times. This
depth and interest to the story that will attract not just historical
readers, but anyone interested in an appealing account of life, love,
pursuit of happiness.
Franz Anton Mesmer is a Viennese physician
who copied Franklin's musical invention from blueprints Franklin's
Marianne shared with him. He claims to have discovered a new force in
universe that gives him the power to cure illness. He circles around
life, involved in his inventions, with his lover, and in the social and
scientific worlds that affect their choices and opportunities.
Gnatz is a master at interlacing these two
disparate lives and their similar progressions. From séances and
quasi-supernatural 'science' to fiery interpersonal interactions, the
between Mesmer and Franklin comes to life with facts strengthening the
fictional overlay of events.
With changing affairs and relationships
between a steadily widening cast of characters to a Parisian interlude
strange things begin to happen to Franklin, Gnatz captures both the
psychological progress of these two real men and the events and
entanglements that surround them and affect their choices.
These changes are captured in scenes ranging
from personal encounters to talks such as the one Ben gives at the
Lodge, that bring the people and concerns of the times to life: "If
would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things
reading—or do things worth writing. Our Brother Voltaire had the
experience of accomplishing both of these in the rich life that we
today . . .” Ben went on to highlight some of the philosopher’s more
accomplishments. He tried carefully to avoid highlighting Voltaire’s
heretical and revolutionary ideas in hopes of keeping his eulogy as
non-controversial as possible. He spoke of his last meeting with the
where he had discovered both the strength and the frailty Voltaire
“Brother Voltaire stood for reason. He did not believe or follow
questioned everything, bowing only to Truth. He fought injustice as
long as he
lived. For those qualities, we honor the man."
While the story largely pursues the
intellectual and psychological encounters between the two men, the
characters in the cast also receive much attention, as does the
Europe: "Upon her arrival in Paris, Marianne sent word to
showed up at her hotel with a bouquet of fresh spring flowers—daffodils
Spanish bluebells, hyacinth, and tulips. Later, she eagerly walked to
Neuf only to find that there was no Basque houseboat docked below. She
baguette from the vendor there. She descended the stairs to where
should have been moored and ate the bread alone by the side of the
Marianne was disappointed that Marko was missing, but it felt good to
in Paris. Given Mesmer’s recent enthusiasm, and the likelihood that
soon return, she decided to postpone letting Ben know that she was
back. He was
probably too busy to see her anyway."
Readers interested in far more psychological
and social detail than historical novels usually contain will relish
approach, and insights of Wisdom of the Flock,
which goes out of its way
to provide a satisfyingly multifaceted examination of not just two key
of the times, but the milieu of 1776 Europe and America and their
Return to Index
Donald J. Trump's Imperial Presidency EXPOSED
Valerie Luhman Anderson
978-1627878340 $10.95 Paper/$8.99 Kindle
Imperial Presidency EXPOSED through Rhyme is
a hilarious and artistic pairing
of poems by Valerie Luhman Anderson and cartoons by Arnie Bermudez. The
tackles such topics as the
of Trump, the 'lyin' king', impeachment,
the virus crisis and the
maverick policies and
events surrounding the Trump presidency.
path to these poems' creation began when Anderson first heard about Trump's win in 2016 and read about his rule-bending
decisions and scandals. The
poems are a compilation of her comments over 3 ½ years to articles in
online New York Times and Washington Post publications - comments that
breaking news and events in real time. Anderson references these
before each poem, lending authority and authenticity to their history.
Chapters are organized
around key events covered in articles and news reports, with topics
such as Hijacking the GOP, The Chosen One, Mueller ‘Hoax’, and
Impeachment Travails, and subtopics including ‘I Alone Can Fix It’ and
'The Great (non)Communicator' (subtopic 'The (mis)Spoken
Anderson comments on the language and message Trump employed during his
office: "Trumpty loves illiterate folk,/And it’s clear that he
that is no joke./For HE’s one of them as his bad tweeting shows,/Full
misspellings and challenging prose." And
goes on to comment, "It’s what we expect from this moronic
Pres,/We’re forced to examine each word that he says."
collection embeds the flavor of political events within appealing
Arnie Bermudez’s pointed black and
white illustrations bring several of the poems to life, and his cover
illustration, in color, vividly captures the foolishness of this
out as a gem among the many Trump-centric publications by offering the
targeted and humorous time-in-office history through a format that is
different, accessible and easy on the eye.
Return to Index
New Insights Press
readers who choose
Finding Your Way: How to Navigate Yourself
Back from Depression,
Personal Crisis, & Life's Mistakes will find its
useful, and empowering. Its wellspring comes from Drake Taylor's own
with depression at a point in his life where he felt his best friends
turned against him.
candidness about his own
successes, failures, and
transformation is the first thing to strike a reader of his memoir and
guide: "I was in a perpetual loop of misery
until I finally began to restructure my thinking. Though this time was
challenging to me in so many ways, it was also one of the most positive
experiences I have had. It forced me to do some deep introspection, to
myself and do more self-analysis than I have ever done. It ultimately
led to a
period of tremendous personal growth. It became one of the greatest
developmental periods in my life. Now that I have rediscovered the
I feel that I have something to
with others about what I learned."
of books offer
insights on moments of crisis and
how to learn from them, but Taylor's survey is different. It focuses on
use fear and anguish as transformative tools. Readers are encouraged
to pursue Taylor's words, but start their own journals to accompany the
of his experiences so that they can chronicle and write about the
includes as learning tools in Finding
should be prepared
to appreciate the blend of
autobiographical self-inspection and bigger picture thinking that
comprise Finding Your Way. It
weaves these two
elements into a series of admonitions, discoveries, and strategies for
life in a better way: "...you have
to take action every day to improve your situation. You cannot sleep
out of depression, being upset, sadness, and the feelings of being
soon as you wake up from what was hopefully a restful night’s sleep,
you even step out of bed, you have to decide whether the day is going
you or you are going to run the day. It is literally that simple and
profound. Between those 5 to 30 seconds right after you turn off your
check in with yourself, then swear that you are going to control the
more important, Taylor
addresses the need for
readers to reflect on their own recovery process, taking the time to
acknowledge and develop their own unique approaches to "coming back"
from the brink of despair. Worksheets help readers solidify these
lifestyle changes, passions, and other elements that form the basis of
roadmap or blueprint to success.
Appendices of this book
are packed with tools for
achieving the revised mindset of positivity which were a key to
success, and which will be central to any reader's better future: "You must be willing to grab this bull
by the horns and command it. Go kick your ass harder and longer—you can
It’s not until you get that feeling inside your gut that you truly have
burning desire to survive that things in your life will change. You may
lost that feeling. But you can create it. You must create it. You have
that decision—and it all begins with that first step in your mindset."
eliminating outside distractions to
exactly how to link journaling to self-analysis that leads to real
change, Finding Your Way's special
admonition, autobiography, and strategies for self-exploration is
highly recommended for self-help readers looking for practical tools
effecting transition from negative situations, influences, and most
Return to Index
Michael Temple & Kris Neely
Cresting Wave Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B08946S6ZZ $9.99
Steps to Fly
Fishing: The 1924 Classic Updated for Today first appeared in
beginners fisherman Michael Temple's advice on how to fly fish with
results. As the decades passed, his book became an industry classic and
was the first technical book consulted by newcomers to the sport.
reappearance in an
updated edition adds new material
by Kris Neely and fly fishing expert Joshua Bergan, who saw the
updating the classic to reflect new equipment and approaches. To their
they didn't just update the book. They juxtapose old and new ideas
approach results in a
contrast and synthesis of the
best of fly fishing techniques past and present, retaining the feel of
authoritative classic while adding important new information that
21st-century fly fishermen will need to know.
publisher and writers'
attention to maintaining the
integral quality of Michael Temple's original is to be applauded. So
redo of a classic involves tearing it apart. This production melds the
both worlds together imparting a unique strength to both that re-places
classic into the hands of modern audiences.
introduction which talks
about the challenges and
focus of this process is particularly nicely done: "There
are updated sections on rods, reels, lines, and other
equipment, loads of information on specific recommended flies, how to
where to fish, when to fish, and more. And don’t discount the value of
angler’s glossary, which is included as the final section of this book.
thoughtfully omits more advanced concepts, such as fly tying, line
entomology (with brief exceptions in the “Flies” section). Reading First Steps to Fly Fishing is quick,
easy, to the point, and won’t leave your head spinning."
could be no better
gift to accompany a new fly
fisherman's first gear than this comprehensive, lively, readable book.
Return to Index
To Unleash Your Powers And Live A More Joyful Life
Robert Gill Jr.
Paperback: 978-0-578-71832-3 $12.49
Kindle: 978-0-578-78044-3 $ 7.49
Power: How To Unleash Your Powers And Live
Joyful Life promotes
happiness, well-being, and a more powerful life by offering methods of
cultivating happiness in life and in the lives of others. In an era
depression is rampant, this is more important a goal than ever, making Happiness Power an especially powerful
tool for success.
neurochemistry of happiness and
how success is achieved and perceived to cultivating mindful behaviors
physical and mental health and employing acts of self-kindness, Happiness Power offers all kinds of
avenues to success and achieving the goal of contentment and joy.
discussions would have
stopped at this point, but Robert Gill Jr. goes on
to trace and
analyze the power of happiness in the wider world, considering how to
connect to friends, improve relationships, and how to use the power of
as another way of cultivating happiness.
this an ethereal goodwill analysis, but Gill backs all these intentions
solid research that enhance insights with science and study: "A recent analysis of many studies on
self-esteem, using data from nearly 165,000 participants, concluded
self-esteem increases up to the age of sixty to seventy and then begins
decline. The reasons for this are found in the changes at various
development. For example, increasing self-esteem in adulthood is based
taking on new and more complex social roles. It follows that the loss
roles in older age, such as retirement, widowhood, and so on, results
decreases in self-esteem."
contentions, elevating the entire production to explore proven
techniques, and ideas that are backed by not just philosophy, but
experience, and science.
especially elusive in 2020 and possibly beyond, but with Happiness Power's strategies and insights in hand, attempts
may be made by readers of all ages to thwart the pull of depression and
for stagnation was never more needed than
now, making Happiness Power an
recommendation for all ages and all kinds of self-help and sociology
Return to Index
$11.99 Paperback / $0.99 Kindle / $19.95 Audible
Incubus: The Descent is Book 2 in the
Animus Chronicles and paints
a series of horror snapshots that, together, coalesce into a unified
surprising bigger picture.
begins with 'The Offer', in which King Ferenc knows he has to stop
his wife and queen ruler of the land, who has turned into a monster.
avoided this possibility by traveling and getting away from her, but
strategy allows her to become even more evil and stronger in his
the battlefield to return home to deal with what she has become when
go missing from the village, only to find that what she is now is a
force that defies subjugation.
his own complicity in his wife's condition and newfound powers: “If I stayed, I could have saved her
soul…and my daughter’s life… Instead… Instead, I slaughtered the
Habsburg’s bastard soldiers in a poor attempt at ignoring the very
evils in my
an evil force that murders, tortures, and relishes blood is only
his plan moves beyond dealing with the creature that his wife has
everything tainted by her bloodlust, Ferenc must consider himself part
long-term solution to destroy not just her particular brand of evil,
evil: "Her name and all her past
must be extinguished, myself included.”
into 'Toil and Trouble', set in a very different place but also
around characters who confront a persistent horror in themselves and
piece to the greater jigsaw puzzle of literary horror to build an
interconnected world. Each explores witches, evil, destruction, and
evolving mission as he travels the countryside learning new languages,
cultures, and the results of his life choices: "...learning
this language’s more colorful output was often very
entertaining, though baffling. He himself rarely cursed. Not through
of decency, but only because he preferred the comfort of
silence to the
scream of abuse."
threats, and darkness evolve, the King's daughter Hanna, the imposing
witch Rebecca Hopkins, and others join together in an epic struggle
monsters and a darkness that threatens reality itself.
by graphic descriptions of violence and brutality, who look for the
of horror paired with a complex dance between forces that vie for
find Incubus: The Descent both a
powerful series addition and a readily accessible stand-alone read that
readers into a king's mission and spins it into a story of rebirth,
horror will find Incubus: The Descent
a worthy, involving read.
Return to Index
in American History
Editor in Chief: Kelli McCoy
Schlager Group Inc.
Print: 9781935306511 $395.00
ebook: 9781935306528 $395.00
should wonder at the
hefty price tag of the second
updated edition of Milestone Documents in American
the Primary Sources That Shaped America,
it should be noted that there are literally thousands of pages of
research here that are unavailable under one cover elsewhere. The depth
authority of this presentation is thus unparalleled and deserves not
price tag, but acquisition by serious high school to college-level
history holdings, as well as public libraries interested in
authoritative source material references.
of referenced works begins with 1619 and includes letters, The
Compact, agreements and acts, declarations of rights and independence,
treaties, doctrines, and more documents.
these presentations is the opportunity to learn the basic analytical
handling and considering source materials and primary resources. This
prove key to a student's ability to develop critical thinking and
states the power and expansion of this second updated edition, which
the scope and references of the first by adding significant important
to the rich grouping in the prior edition: "The second
substantially expands on the first, with nearly 40 new primary source
included in the set. These milestone documents include foundational
from the National Archives, landmark Supreme Court cases, government
and significant speeches and writings from influential Americans.
they represent many of the most significant political, legal, social,
economic ideas and events in U.S. history, spanning the colonial era to
present. The new additions include recent developments in legal,
and presidential history, but they also include a range of significant
documents that reflect the breadth and complexities of U.S. history.
expansive new material in the second edition makes this an even more
group of sources, with significant additions in the areas of African
history, women’s history, LGBTQ history, and immigration history."
documents and writings themselves, these are introduced with an
discussion of historical context, in-depth biographical sketches of
authors and their political and sociological importance and approaches,
audience for and impact of the piece. Also concluding the presentation
questions for further contemplation and extensive bibliographic
suitable for classroom assignment and additional study, from books and
of this foundation collection to any American history holding should
understated. Its scope, depth, and inquiries are unparalleled,
make for a top recommendation made even more important with its second
appearance and expansion than in its original incarnation.
Return to Index
Mneme ("Memory”): A
("Memory”): A Homeric Mystery features illustrations by Barbara Harvey and takes place
around 750 B.C. on the
island of Chios, off the coast of Turkey. A detailed introduction both
time and place and reviews the history surrounding it, also explaining
of Harvey's black and white icons throughout. These also serve an
in the story, indicating changing time and place through character
Explanations of 'tricky pronunciations' also highlights K. Partridge's
attention to detail and the concern that readers not be confused by any
complex facets of this story.
long introduction and
its explanations might lead
readers to suspect a dry read, but a delightful surprise awaits those
persist. The book incorporates a sense of language and discovery that
compelling, lively, and belays the necessary information provided
assure a quick involvement with the story via poetic, lovely language: "He
had no name, no home. No past or future. The present was oblivion,
except for a
dream in which he could not understand the speech of his own dream
the dream, a man clung to a log, except that sometimes it was the mast
ship. On shore, the woman in his poem pleaded. But it may have been his
not the woman in his poem. Though he could hear her words, they were
meaningless to him. For a moment he
opened his eye, but it might have been someone else’s. It was day."
an old healer's
treatment of an accident victim and
the lasting repercussions of Homeros’ injury to evolving history,
changing timeline (easily identified by said icons) and very detailed,
compelling descriptions: "Chry’se
nibbled off a piece of chicken and returned the leg bone to her plate.
chewed so daintily that Homeros couldn’t even tell she was doing it,
she swallowed, it was just as refined. She sipped her wine from a
goblet as if she had been bred to the task. The vessel had a long, thin
and was adorned with a squid. Homeros drank from a similar one
seashells. He’d seen similar goblets a few times among the richest of
lords, but never ones decorated so ornately. He wondered if they’d been passed down from one
generation to the next."
the time to build his story, which may not attract readers who seek
productions and nonstop action. But this type of reader wouldn't be
appreciate the story's depth and lovely detail, either. It's the
historical fiction reader who will recognize the real value in a tale
only weaves mystery into ancient times, but brings everything to life
compelling, vivid manner.
Zethos in an action ruled self-defense, faces brother Ma’ron's possible
revenge, consults an oracle on a journey with Calliope, and stumbles
into his destiny
as a murderer tormented by twisted memories of past and present lives,
are treated to a saga of injury, quasi-recovery, destiny, and early
culture that is hard to put down.
observation that rarely can be made about historical pieces set in
times, but the language and personal approaches Partridge employs in
of exploring Homeros' journey and mystery is simply exquisite, powering
for recovery and answers that is truly compelling.
overlay of real historical facts outlined both before and after the
will especially appreciate the scholarship and detail that accompanies Mneme
story of discovery and change. It's very highly recommended reading for
seeks the complexity of historical fact, fictional drama, and powerful
Return to Index
Elizabeth Walter and Debra Thro
College Admissions HQ
978-1-7356029-2-9 $17.99 Paper/$24.99 color paper
guides to college
financing outline scholarships and
other programs that provide financial aid, but Pay
Less For College: The Must-Have Guide to Affording Your Degree
is different. Its focus is on understanding the net cost of attendance
to bring that cost down, and it includes the formulas, assessment
financial aid, and calculations necessary to approach college and grad
with long-term understanding of their real costs.
focus on all kinds
of related subjects, from
debt assessment and management to taxes, understanding how financial
packages are built, and all the costs of attending college beyond
links help assess
these costs, from those that
survey the actual costs of living abroad to renting books online and
the best data upon which to base decisions.
is a lot of confusing
information about college
financial aid and how it works. Pay Less
For College seeks to help families get a realistic assessment
of what any
college would cost them, given their unique situation; and reviews a
strategies they may be able to use to both reduce that amount and/or
to reach it.
graphs, and worksheets are an invaluable part of this process,
points and providing links to resources that contain relevant
students looking for a clear,
comprehensive coverage of all the options and considerations should
consider Pay Less For College a
acquisition. Its outline of various processes and approaches to
management is clear, versatile, and mines the best of college financial
concerns and programs to present strategic insights that parents and
will find essential to the task.
Return to Index
978-1-7335695-4-5 $15.99 Paper/$8.99 ebook
Solutions: Effective Strategies to Heal
Your Heart and Create the Happiness You Deserve is the third book in the self-help 'The Sister's
Guides to Empowered
Living' series, but needs no prior introduction to serve as a
on the market discuss marital harmony and healing, but few adopt the
of Relationship Solutions, which covers how to
identify and work through
underlying negativity to arrive at equitable solutions that work for
one-formula-fits-all-relationships approach, but a set of strategies
to help readers first gain clarity about their own needs, responses,
then work with another to meld interests and rebuild relationships and
common traits of an unhappy marriage, provides tools for re-assessing
the couple individually holds enough connections and purpose to reform
together, and builds a positive mindset not just for relationship
but for divorce (if this seems the best solution).
sets Sonia Frontera's book apart from other relationship discussions,
there's more. In the interests of not providing a singular model for
to equitable partnership or disbanding, Frontera provides candid
that include financial as well as emotional concerns: "Technically,
mediator may help you craft an agreement you are comfortable with but
be an optimal outcome in your situation. If you have not received
counseling, you may agree to terms that are not good for you. That’s
unless the issues are simple and few, the parties should consider
their respective attorneys to mediation to protect their interests and
accepting unfavorable terms. Having attorneys present makes mediation
expensive, a factor you need to consider when selecting your divorce
The emphasis on
self-care, self-knowledge, and better understanding the process of
together or moving apart to create a win-win situation for all makes
outstanding in many ways. Relationship Solutions is
the item of choice
for anyone interested in pursuing what makes for not just a stronger
relationship, but a better, more independent and mindful relationship
Return to Index
Stephanie Crowe Murder Case
Donald E. McInnis
She’s So Cold: The Stephanie Crowe Murder Case A
Inside Story gives true crime readers a powerful read, and
comes from a
defense attorney who probed the 1998 case of a child murdered in her
a California town.
no evidence of a perp, but upon questioning the victim's older brother
friends, a confession was obtained after hours of interrogation...a
made under duress, that was then rescinded.
crime stories, this provides much legal insight into the process of
interrogation, juvenile rights, and the nature of confessions. Donald
McInnis does an outstanding job of pinpointing the problems of juvenile
prosecution methods: "In my opinion, the theme developed by
investigator through interaction with the suspect is the key to the
psychological interrogation. The theme gives the impression to the
it minimizes the suspect’s responsibility for the crime and its
consequences. The danger of this form of interrogation is that children
as adults can be led to falsely confess..."
unfolds, the focus is on the legal process, court system, and evidence
evolves to contradict a building case of what really happened to
evolves with an astute eye to legal and investigative processes to draw
into the mechanics of a system designed to quickly identify and
murderers. But its not as well designed to handle juvenile psyches and
It surveys the rights of minors, refers to other cases, and points out
inequity of a system heavily biased towards certain ethnicities and
doesn’t take much to imagine what the outcome could have been had the
teenagers been born to parents of color. In all likelihood, they would
living out their lives behind bars, wrongly convicted of a crime they
commit, after having been battered psychologically until they
then tried as adults."
Donald E. McInnis
special insider's viewpoint of the system's pros and cons and, in this
offers a thought-provoking examination of the various issues of minors
true crime stories which tend to center on adult perps and concerns, She’s So Cold exposes many details about
juvenile criminal justice procedures that are key to understanding its
reader of true
crime or juvenile rights should be without this outstanding book about
that challenges adult prosecution procedures and concludes with a
Bill of Rights that offers much food for thought. Law professors will
find She’s So Cold holds much
classroom discussion and debate, as well.
Return to Index
Story of the Masters: Drama,
Joy And Heartbreak At Golf's Most Iconic Tournament is recommended reading for avid golf fans,
who will find its year-by-year report by a veteran golf journalist to
detailed, compelling, and a fine history of the highlights of the sport
1934 to modern times.
founding by Bobby Jones and its first ten years
from 1934-42 to later events, David Barrett cultivates a style that
the plays, personalities, challenges, and achievements of each Masters
tournament player, as in his depiction of one early icon: "Horton Smith stormed out of Missouri at the age of
20 to win
eight tournaments on the winter tour of 1928–29. By the end of 1930 he
total to 14 victories. Taking advantage of that success, he embarked on
exhibition tours, primarily with Hagen. He was on the road constantly
months, playing in some 130 exhibitions and 50 tournaments. The
schedule left Smith with a bad back."
the stats, game-changing decisions and events, and coverage that
influences on the game's rules and players over the decades: "He left the table but was called back
from the cabin before he made it to the interview. Aaron had glanced at
Vicenzo’s scorecard lying on the table and noticed the total 66. He was
Roberto had shot a 65. Neither player had filled in the box for total;
unnecessary, since the hole-by-hole scores were what was official once
signed. A committee member at the table had added the scores and
written in the
66. Aaron saw the offending “4” and knew that he had to point out the
was hoping that something could be done to rectify the situation. But
and the officials knew, that under the Rules of Golf if a player signed
score higher than he actually shot, the higher score would stand (if he
for a lower score, he would be disqualified). There was no need to
think the sport dry enough to have little action to describe, let alone
such a long period of history, but David Barrett demonstrates that
holds its milestones, amazing achievements, and different flavors of
greats and their success and failures.
life in chapters that might even intrigue those with only a mild
experience in the sport, because these descriptions embrace not just
but the politics behind them.
The Story of the Masters is everything a
golf history should be:
passionate about its subject, exciting in its descriptions, astute in
analysis, and hard to put down. Readers need have some familiarity with
sport to imbibe, but even those casually interested will find it an
Return to Index
Try Moving Yourself!
John A. Elie
9798600768307 $14.95 Paper/$9.95 Kindle
Think of a household move and the first thought that usually comes to mind, if you have belongings of consequence or volume, is researching moving companies. Those who have done so well know they are expensive, but John A. Elie offers a different approach in Try Moving Yourself!: The Complete Self-Moving Guide for a Full Household Move Using U-Haul Products and Services, available now on Amazon Kindle. His book is for the DIY reader who would coordinate a household move without a professional company, and provides the toolkit necessary to make this important leap. Consider this book the 'Instruction Manual' for using U-Haul to complete a stress-free end-to-end household move.
From estimating the truck size needed to fit all furniture and belongings to using the 12 Excel template downloads provided with this book to plan each step of the packing and moving experience, Try Moving Yourself! Is the item of choice for anyone who wants to take charge of their own move, whether it is a short distance or cross-country.
One might initially think this process
straightforward enough that a book would not be necessary, but
read through this impressive manual will cost in many ways. It's packed
tips the ordinary non-professional mover might not know, such as the
of choosing uniform moving boxes over haphazard materials on
can add hours to the loading process if you have to contend with
shaped boxes versus the standard size boxes.
Back when I was a professional mover, we used to dread working on a move with the term “PBO.” PBO stood for “Packed by Operator,” and it generally meant every single box was a different shape and size. What a nightmare to load onto the truck! It made the loading process much longer, and more often than not, there was some breakage on the unloading end. You will spend a few hundred dollars for moving boxes, but remember, your belongings are worth thousands of dollars, and you will be saving thousands by doing it yourself over the cost of using a full service moving company. So don’t skimp, buy the boxes you need."
Along with the step-by-step procedures and specific tips are discussions of why each is important to the overall success of the move. Elie emphasizes each step's logic and importance: "Notice on our timeline that the weekend of July 11 is our target to complete packing, which is the weekend before the planned truck-loading day of July 17. Finishing packing the weekend before the move may be the most important advice that I can give you."
Elie does more than review the templates. He goes through each move, helping readers review and understand the complete process and the choices which differentiate a successful move from a stressful one.
This not only allows readers to avoid common mishaps made by non-pros, but emphasizes a logical sequence of planning events that neatly dovetail into the bigger picture of moving success.
Extensive reference is made to the Excel spreadsheet, so readers need to have this program (and a rudimentary knowledge of its use) in order to follow the advice Elie links to it. The newest version of the Moving Templates, available for download at the Author's website (www.TryMoving.com), features the auto-populating of data cells so you only have to enter certain data once (like the number of boxes needed). The data loads to other related worksheets automatically.
Black and white photos pepper the account, providing visual embellishment of the process of packing and loading and other auxiliary concerns, while links to videos on YouTube and other web information sources support contentions with further visual reinforcement.
The result is a full review of the entire moving process (from beginning concepts to planning stages, packing, loading, and unloading) that identifies common misperceptions and pitfalls and advises how to avoid them: "Many do-it-Yourselfers make the mistake of inviting ten or more friends to help out on loading day, thinking the more helpers the better. Big Mistake!! It does not help to have 10 people bring items to the truck at the same time as that only creates chaos. The best arrangement is to have one Loader, who stays on the truck, and four helpers working in two teams. The job of the Loader is to tell the teams which item, or type of item, to bring out next. The two teams will alternate going into the house and bringing items to the truck."
By breaking down these pieces into understandable segments, Elie creates an approach that encourages non-movers to get involved, backed with a specific knowledge of the entire process.
book should be a top shelf item for
anyone who wants to do a move with certainty, knowledge, and
all the elements that make a move not just successful, but achievable
ordinary person. Its clear instructions and formula for success could
Return to Index
Casey Grimes: The Mostly Invisible Boy
9781947796478 $14.99 (paperback)/$4.99 ebook
Mostly Invisible Boy is Book 1 in
a children's fantasy series and incorporates elements of adventure into
magical story of an eleven-year-old boy who finds himself mostly
his new school. Literally.
He devises ways to make himself seen, from a
high-intensity bright vest to slamming his locker door so the girl next
will notice him, but these are, at best, temporary solutions to a
problem. And hope fades when routines which used to work to make him
seem to no longer be effective.
Casey Grimes is well on his way to vanishing
from the world when he and his little sister uncover a secret society
woods whose members can see him.
What first seems a plus, however, turns into
something deadly as Casey discovers the difference between being seen
accepted. Complicating things is the fact that Sylvan Woods is
of keeping monsters out of the suburbs—monsters that Casey didn't even
visible only made things worse? As
he delves into the heart of Sylvan Woods and its secrets, including
School, Casey has the feeling that his former dilemma may be nothing
to the threats that await him in this woodsy, wild environment.
Casey faces the unpredictable and savvy Luci
West, a school that laughs at safety protocols, and the threat of death
student duel. The fearsome Sylvan Watch is also hunting him.
When the Butcher Beasts invade, he
faces the deadliest fight of all.
Mostly Invisible Boy excels while
venturing into unpredictable territory, combining the feel of a fantasy
with a treasure
hunt while exploring a boy's evolving abilities and changed perceptions
world and his place in it.
AJ Vanderhorst creates an adventure story
that comes with the satisfying twist of a personality who explores a
new world, Trickery School, and the mandate to become part of an inner
looking out rather than a fading loner looking in.
Between Casey's personal conundrums and the
magical world he uncovers, middle grade readers are in for a treat.
Return to Index
Arms will reach new parents,
future parents, and those looking for loving
read-aloud choices with its gentle story celebrating a new day in a
provides gorgeous drawings for this commemoration, which not only
from the perspective of a very young child, but uses images of
color to reach audiences of all ethnicities.
acknowledgement of the child's perception of motherly love is also
nicely done, and is rare in a picture book world presented from adult
"She scoops me up into her soothing arms. I know exactly what
next. No nap, Dear Mama! I smile sweetly and bat my long lashes. But
is calling me."
As Baby copes with play, naps, and other child's-eye concerns, readers of all ages will delight in the cuddly, warm perspectives of a mother and child's interactions.
not have said it better: this is a "lullaby of love" and is highly
recommended for parents who would choose books that celebrate a baby's
perspective of life, love, and diversity in a picture book presentation.
Arms is very highly recommended
for its gorgeous drawings and gentle
message of love and unity.
Return to Index
& Do It
Dream It & Do It Publishers
979-8551088462 $29.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Dream It & Do It: 100 Possibilities,
Stories, Real-Life Role Models
is for all kids and adults who love them, who would provide children
inspirational blueprint for success via biographical sketches and
'dreamers' cultivates a positive approach to life, from the start: "What an exciting time to be looking to
the future. The world around you is changing faster than it did for
parents or your grandparents. Technology is changing every day, the
counting on you, and we are working to be a kinder, more equal human
will have a major part in all of that. The question is: what will be
in this change?"
between this book and some others isn't just the admonition to dream
to follow in the footsteps of others who made seemingly-impossible
and concern for the greater world drove these people, and also drives
message in this book, which is dedicated to not just self improvemnt,
dream ("Dream of Writing Books"), pairs it with a selected figure
("Like Dr. Seuss"), and adds a colorful drawing of each selected
individual. This accompanies lyrical, lovely descriptions of each
achievement: "Songs are like
snowflakes, there are millions of them in the world and each one is
Each one is made up of only twenty-one notes, but combined in a way
it different from every other song written before it. It is songwriters
are responsible for the words and music that make a song unique. The
Brothers were songwriters that
their career writing songs for Disney."
beyond simply outlining life accomplishments or adversity, stretching
subject into how each person succeeded in translating their vision and
into contributing to a better world. Problems are clearly outlined and
thinking which went into resolving them are reviewed so that young
receive an idea of the problem-solving process.
the work of resource manager Esther Ndichu: "She
learned that there are 800 million people in the world that go hungry
almost three times the number of people in the United States). What
her even more than the number of hungry people was that there was
in the world being produced to feed these hungry people. The problem is
food is being wasted, just like she saw on her uncle’s farm. In fact,
that one-third of all the food produced in the world ends up going to
She realized – this is not a food shortage problem. This is a logistics
problem. The reason it is a logistics problem is because the food to
people is not ending up in the right locations at the right time."
grade readers thus receive an all-in-one workbook pairing biographical
with specific details on dreams that evolved for the greater good.
install in youngsters the basic concept of growing, giving, and
dreams in a broader context than individual interest alone will find Dream It & Do It a powerful model
not just for success, but for cultivating a giving attitude towards
recommended, this is an outstanding approach that cements dreams with
life experience and reality.
Return to Index
Calico Barn Books
They were popular in the 1950s and 60s, and most girls from that era
their allure. Today, the item of choice is coloring books. In the last
the coloring book format has blossomed into a whole new market for
Witbeck is on
the cresting wave of book trends with a difference: Fairy
Village Coloring Book adds some paper dolls into the mix for
cut-out play and additional enjoyment.
white line drawings offers images that will appeal to different levels
coloring expertise, from simple images of whimsical interior and
and businesses to complexly patterned rugs and décor.
coloring book, when completed by a young user, will create an entire
village via thirty pages of different abodes and displays and the four
already-colored fairies (a boy, two girls and a fairy grandma) who will
it. The fun fairy grandma actually sports a track suit and maple leaf
reflecting her Canadian roots.
traditional paper dolls, these do not come with outfits. One is meant
with them by placing them in the colored pages, not dress them in
delight kids who like to color, who want an integrated whimsical fairy
and village, and who will enjoy the paper dolls when coloring is
Return to Index
Adventure in Time
C. M. Huddleston
Interpreting Time's Past Press
978-1-7328333-5-7 $9.99 Print/$4.99 ebook
Adventure in Time is the fifth book in the 'Adventures in
Time' series, reaching
readers ages 9-16 who relish sci-fi time travel and historical fiction
delightful adventure mystery.
and Rose are now
sixteen years old, but their time-travel
adventures haven't stopped.
observes that Greg "constantly strives to
prove himself better than
anyone at every
challenge we are given", a habit she both admires and finds
She provides the introductory chapters to their latest time travel
insisting on being the first to chart their path.
point of view begins
in the fourth chapter, when
the story is well on its way to proving captivating. He admires Rose's
which seem far beyond the capabilities of most girls: "Rose
is so much a tomboy. She can ride, shoot, fish, etc., better
than most boys and many men."
readers gain insights on Greg and Rose through
their own actions as well as their friendship, they receive the
connection that power their time-traveling mishaps and encounters with
of history and mystery alike.
characters in the prior time travel encounters return, here; but no
familiarity with the series is necessary in order to quickly absorb the
of this time-traveling duo, their family relationship with parents who
travel into history, and their latest mission.
a plot which could change Western Canada's history, readers receive a
story that centers not just on the time-hopping experience, but the
that Greg and Rose struggle to change.
pivotal characters Nick, Nate, and Jesse heats up, young readers will
appreciate the twists and turns which blend mystery with history.
injected throughout the story as background information Greg and Rose
learn: “Hey, Dad, what’s this Alaska
Highway?” “Ah, a feat of construction during a difficult period. It was
during World War II to connect the lower 48 United States with the
Alaska by roadway. Construction began in British Columbia, at a town
Dawson Creek. The highway runs to Delta Junction in Alaska. It’s also
the Alaska-Canadian Highway or ALCAN. It is now paved along its entire
“Will we be taking it to Dawson City?” “Greg, answer the question for
Find Dawson on the map and see if it is on the Alaska Highway.” “Always
be a learning experience, doesn’t it, Dad?”
Adventure in Time is a
time travel adventure that educates and entertains simultaneously. It's
recommended for new readers and prior series fans, especially those who
historical fiction and time-traveling sci-fi action.
Return to Index
978-1-7348671-1-4 $10.99 Paper/$17.99 Hardcover
Kids Word Cookbook receives fine drawings
by Rivka Ravede and
provides kids with fun picture book wordplay suitable for teaching and
learning, inviting them to explore homophones, homonyms, tongue
whimsical survey are a fly who flies
high, a fly who
lies around, and Bea the bee, who "does not want to be a
as high as a High Fly flies."
the evolving adventures and tongue twisters that teach language in an
involving, engaging manner; while parents and teachers will find the
encourage kids to think differently about word meanings, usage, and
flexibility. The recipes offer formulas for understanding and invite
wordplay on their own, with a glossary of terms in back supporting this
bee, moles in troll holes, a new gnome who is as "new as your gnu was
your gnu was new" and more characters, Kids
Word Cookbook is an inviting production that puts the idea of
fun back into
language study. It is simply a standout, worthy of acquisition by
lies in its humor, approach, and fun drawings, which come together to
package of educational enlightenment in a delightfully unique way.
Return to Index
Sandra Brown Lindstedt
979-8-6791-3332-7 $9.85 Paper/$1.99 Kindle
of a Firefly:
The Incredible Adventures and Mostly True Stories of Sandy Forte
elementary to middle grade readers with a strong gathering of moral
surrounding Sandy and her firefly, who go on adventures that support
of growth and flexibility in confronting new situations.
moves between Texas
and Chicago, her 'mistakes'
in life and lessons learned from them, and the warm nature of her
community come to life in descriptions that are thought-provoking and
earlier memories are of
her mother leaving them to go
to Chicago, and her nearly cutting off her foot. She also recalls how
mother's absence changed those she left behind: "After
my mother had gone, everything seemed to change, even
Glory. At night, we used to make up silly knock-knock jokes, but then
silence took over. It was like Glory was still there—but not. There
were a lot
of serious, quiet gazes. I would see her and even touch her, but I
ever hear her, because she rarely spoke. Instead of telling me her
chose to write them in her diary. This went on for many years,
Grandma to call her the silent sister."
and white drawings
pepper these stories and bring
them to life, while Sandy's spunky descriptions and escapades glow
vivid words that bring the culture and people of the South to life: "I stole peach preserves from the
smokehouse because I was hungry. I was hungry because my grandma
cook squirrel meat, which I didn't eat on account of I liked little
it looked disgusting. And when Grandma asked if I'd taken the peach
I lied because I didn't want to get a whipping. And when I did get a
I cussed because it hurt. My grandma has tried to tame my behavior by
of various punishments and rewards such as buying me a Popsicle every
emptied the slop jars instead of hiding them under the bed. The
have even tried rubbing my head with annoying—I
mean anointing oil—but it
observations of her world and
her place in it, and lessons learned from people, nature, and community
drive a powerfully compelling story.
changes when Sandy swallows a firefly and
opens up to the bigger world around her. Her philosophical reflections,
as her antics, are equally powerfully described: "As
I rocked her back and forth, I wondered why everything was the
way it was. But who knows why things are what they are. They just are.
stories of growth, change, and a child's roller-coaster journey through
family, and faith will find Life of a Firefly a
adventure indeed; worthy not just of leisure pursuit, but family and
discussion. It's very highly recommended reading.
Return to Index
Max and the
978-1735389639 $27.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper
choose Max and the Spice Thieves for its fantasy
adventure won't be
disappointed. The book embarks on a romp through a universe of spice
and action far from the ordinary, boring world Max wakes up to at home
mother, right from the story's opening lines.
from this staid existence, living with a skin condition that reacts
to the cold and keeps him restricted, to a paradigm-bending encounter
teen warrior queen and an assassin (among other powerful characters)
the heart of a story that probes Max's puzzling past to slowly reveal
about his identity and world.
who has imagined a different life or heritage will readily relate to
conundrums as the truth emerges.
his father dead, lost at sea among the Spice Islands chain, for one.
knows differently, even if his mother refuses to believe it. And when
finally does relent about taking a journey, it isn't to where Max
father would reside, but to a dangerous island rumored to be home to
Midnight Men who hunt and eat people. Why would his mother choose
As Rules are thrown away, Max confronts
people who believe he must belong to a royal family, and who knew his
unexpected ways. Max makes new friends, encounters dangers on the sea
kelpies, and journeys to the Witch Queen's temple for answers, and the
and encounters become fast-paced and thoroughly absorbing.
If he finds his father, will he accept Max's
invitation to embark on a shared journey? The power that has been
him is pushing him in a direction beyond the search for a lost father.
discovery of his abilities and purpose adds to a close-hauled story
reveals the first leg of new adventures as he steps into a strange
snow bears and Spice Pirates and finds his place in it.
Middle grade to high school readers are in
for a real treat in a swashbuckling fantasy that challenges Max's
of himself and his former role beyond his life as the physically
of a missing father.
and the Spice
Thieves is very highly recommended
for kids who like
their action fast paced and their plots replete with self-discoveries
Return to Index
Calico Barn Books
different approach to activities celebrating Easter will find just the
in the Pysanky Easter Egg Coloring Book,
an educational collection of images that celebrate both traditional and
nontraditional subjects and the symbols surrounding the pysanka.
book best enjoyed as a family-unifying craft. It's suitable for adult
colorers alike. Parents can use the information about the pysanka
educate the very young, and will find the blend of easy and complex
lend to different ages with different artistic talents.
Easter eggs. Cathy
Witbeck learned to
make them at age 12. An introductory section covering the symbols of
and their meaning leads nicely into the large-sized, full-page eggs
prove inviting coloring subjects.
ideas and the challenge to choose colors and symbols with specific
the young artist or someone they care about creates an activity that
a mainstay in the Easter basket, along with colored pencils or crayons
candy associated with the holiday.
Return to Index
Rare Bird Books
978-1644281420 $20.00 Hardcover/$11.49 Kindle
Shine Until Tomorrow, Mari
Caldwell is fixated on going to college and escaping the many
that cause her anxiety. From nightmares about having to drive a car
her poor outlook about life today and in the future, teen Mari is
only way out is Yale and the camera she uses to capture the
fun, contemporary language and allusions to add insights into Mari's
herself and her place in the world: "My
general physiognomy is a study in mismatchedness, facial Mad Libs."
This may ask a reader to hold a contemporary familiarity with modern
references, but adds elements of humor and realistic modern insights
story succeeds in capturing the past and present. Then it delves into
future with an astute eye to considering her limitations and
her own ability to self-analyze her psyche: "I’ve
never technically been diagnosed or anything, but I probably do have a
OCD when it comes to certain things, this college book being a prime example. The orange Post-it is stuck
and perspective, the last thing readers expect is that Mari will
secret about her parents and react in a manner that flings her into
world of the 1960s and hippies during the Summer of Love.
force her to open up to her deepest fears and the elements in life
holding her back. This leads to viewing San Francisco and the people
(from the world of her parents' past, although not her parents
themselves) in a
whole new light.
everything. But does it really change what is important to the future
usually focus on worldly objectives, but Carla Malden here provides an
encounter which is rooted in Mari's changes at a pivotal point of her
into adulthood. This creates a sage and compelling vision of Mari's
its changes as she meets people whose lives mirror her father's
decisions, and grows to better understand them.
view Mari's evolution as she connects the dots between the past and her
to explore new avenues of acceptance, growth, and revised visions of
opportunities and what they mean.
Shine Until Tomorrow is a powerful story
that embraces elements of
growth, 1960s history, and coming of age that goes beyond introducing
her parents' world, but continues that journey into her choices for her
and how she changes her psyche.
as adult audiences looking for a powerful psychological discussion of
transformation and understanding will find the adventure here lies not
discovering love and newfound connections, but using both to change
and tackle fears of the future.
connected to these days and their impact for the rest of her life, and
will be captivated by her positive and unexpected evolution.
Return to Index
ASIN: B08D5HB732 $4.99 Kindle
Tales by Moons-light: Stories from Before the Great
advanced elementary to middle-grade readers with seven short fantasy
from two-mooned planet Urth (featured in the previous story Frankie and the Gift of Fantasy). It
dovetails perfectly with that story because it represents the
Frankie read to Iktae in the rowboat on Krog Pad Island, but also
operates as a
solid stand-alone read for newcomers unfamiliar with Frankie's tale.
In each story, children face a diverse set of challenges that encourage them to find their inner power, whether it be courage, a voice, problem-solving abilities, or the rescue of another. Each story provides a very different scenario that is as compellingly written as the last.
story, 'The Moons-lings', for example. Margie and her younger brother
kidnapped from their beds one night by an evil sorceress who brings
them to her
castle. She keeps children as slaves to clean her castle and care for
Margie doesn't let threats and misery quash her determination to find a
back home, even though the sorceress has informed them their parents no
made herself out to be all-powerful. How can a child defeat a harbinger
magic who claims she can "...control
the sun. I’ve made the days longer, and the nights longer, too. And I
Urth’s two moons."?
plight of a quiet boy who becomes a hero in 'The Poison Well'. Bai is a
listener who puts his powers to unexpectedly good use when his village,
Curimicu, is threatened. There is only one problem—will anyone listen
words when he's cultivated a reputation for being silent?
powerful moral and lesson about choice, action, and consequences. Each
steeped in the Urth world and brings it to life in a different way, and
will captivate young readers.
throughout bring each tale to life in a collection of fantasy stories
young people are heroes, heroines, and are called upon to rise above
fears and limitations to become powerful forces in their worlds.
Tales by Moons-light is highly
recommended for readers who enjoy
engaging stories about quests, new possibilities, and courage.
Return to Index
vibrant and fun drawings in TaterCat and the Missing Necklace
attract elementary-grade readers and parents, and falls somewhere
picture book and a chapter book. 98 pages follow the story of evil
TaterCat, who steals a good queen's necklace.
kindness has gained her a host of friends who support her, but can they
join together to solve the case and confront TaterCat?
tongue-in-cheek humor, recognition of animal psyches, and interest in
presenting characters that may not be the powerful beast heroes
present throughout. One example is the character of Lord RoscoDog the
who "...was the queen’s faithful and unwavering companion…as
Queen Lily fed him treats."
full-page drawing of a sword-sporting dog is engaging and fun.
three mischievous boys: Prince Max the Quick, Prince Eli the Brave, and
Dash the Strong. Their powers? "There wasn’t a dragon they
tame, a castle they couldn’t storm, or a cupboard they couldn’t get to
of to find the cookie jar."
missing thief and necklace—at one point, they encounter the elusive
not in hiding, but lying flat-out on a rock in the sun by the river.
confronted, the TaterCat seems more hilarious than mean, either by
receive a multifaceted story where the pictures impart both supportive
different messages than the written word. This provides lovely insights
perspective, art, and intention that adult teachers can use to point
the fun atmosphere in TaterCat and the Missing Necklace is
the young princes succeed, Queen Lily is always appreciative. Her
their adventures, and the TaterCat's objectives meld into a story
unexpected images, moments, and how Very Wise Thoughts may succeed
grumpiness and heroism meet.
for an engaging transition point between picture book and chapter book
will welcome this fun adventure. TaterCat and the Missing
appeal to young fans of cats, fantasy, and unlikely heroes. Its ability
readers think about events, psyches, and writer and artist intentions
more than a notch above most other books for this age group.
Return to Index
Tideon: A New Myth is a simple reader for
grades 1-2 and tells of
young Tideon, who starts out his life "always
laughing, always playing and hiding, always racing away to the shore
home to fall in love with the ocean, over and over again."
introduction of a
child who has a good life until it changes leads to a quite complicated
revelation of how his father doesn't like him; and why.
determination to go into battle and his wife and son's reactions are
intriguingly presented as the story evolves. Mother and son live
often see the world from different perspectives. A son's favorite
brings anguish to his mother, for example.
the idea that this is a children's primer alone. Elizabeth MacDonald
adult concepts of emotional reactions, feelings, and responses that
will require an adult co-reader to explore these themes more easily for
very young (and even those who hold the reading skills to absorb the
of description that accompany lovely colorful drawings throughout by
perceptions of the world counter the violence and darkness embedded not
his father, but in life? Themes of evil, crisis, heritage, and growth
story a powerful saga of survival and transformation that belays its
appearance as an easy picture book reader.
ethereal, powerful blend of folk tale and psychological inspection
reach all ages with a message that lies somewhere between the realms of
realism and psychological exploration. Its lovely, compelling
imparts a fine message that readers won't see coming, in a manner that
Return to Index
ASIN : B0889YZ2YR $9.99 Paper/$2.99 ebook
Are Our Heroes?
A Reminder to Say “Thank You!” in The
Time Of Coronavirus and Beyond
provides a fine picture book admonition to not only be polite, but to
the emotions, lives, and efforts of those around us. It is the perfect
adults looking to teach the very young about courage, achievement, and
provides simple yet compelling drawings that illustrate a young girl's
observation of the newly-empty world outside and being alone with her
inside. A series of simple two-line rhymes illustrates her feelings as
the outside world and identifies everyday heroes such as the mailman,
outside communications alive, or the teachers who engage with her via
the young observer is reminded that all these people help make the
world less isolated
and lonely, often taking risks themselves so she can be educated,
communications, and feel safe and connected to others.
picture book fosters a sense of recognition and appreciation of others
will last long after COVID is (hopefully) a disease of the past. It
kids to think about what services and people make their world smooth
meaningful, and is the perfect tool for cultivating an attitude of
even in the midst of a pandemic and beyond.
find Who Are Our Heroes? an excellent starting
point for discussions
about courage, giving, service, and appreciation. It's equally highly
recommended for collections interested in books that reach the very
basic information about engaging with life.
Return to Index
Bad Apple Books
Wild Open Faces is Book Two in the 'Wild and
complimenting its predecessor by
continuing the story of Ruby Brooks, who is in love with Ezra, a
recluse who has found new opportunities thanks to Ruby's probe of New
legends and his role in them.
Ruby has made a home in La Luna and has
successfully forged new friendships, support systems, and romance while
continuing to shy away from the meaning the local ruins hold to her
When an archeological dig unearths these
connections and a hidden truth about her real role in this world,
changes once again.
Readers might think familiarity with the
prior book is a requirement (and, certainly, it helps), but newcomers
it easy to enter Ruby's world at this point to continue the saga of her
friendships, abilities, and her more-than-casual relationship to New
legends and folklore.
The first-person narrative is steeped in a
sense of place and purpose, capturing not only La Luna but Ruby's
of friends and New Mexico's culture: "In Santa Fe, we cruise
Cerrillos road toward Viviane’s restaurant, Rojo, looking for Racine’s
the front lot. When she sees us pull up, she climbs out of her beat-up
Honda, sashaying on stacked sandals like a queen all the way to the
“I’m so nervous I got here like twenty minutes early. How do I look?”
encounters are vivid and compelling: "Lee
stands up and wraps both of his hands around my palm, encasing it and
nagual completely. “Do you feel it? The power?” The nagual floats
palms as a wild gust whips my hair around my face, blinding me. The
between his palm and mine is a black hole. It pulls everything in the
toward me, crushing matter into a mass of unrecognizable atoms that
down my arms, molecularly joining me to Lee, and the hard-packed earth,
scrubby sage and lavender dotting the hillside. I watch Lee’s mouth
removed from myself to understand what he’s saying. My body is an empty
a skin suit, like my soul ditched me to sneak off to the fabled city of
animal counterparts to differing belief systems and Lee's controlling
Ruby's love, Jennifer Edelson adds new elements of angst and struggle
ongoing story, building on the introduction in a satisfyingly complex
powerful book which both stands nicely alone and compliments Between Wild and Ruin with a new
adventure that pits Ruby against the potential for catastrophe, testing
abilities in new ways and concluding in a cliffhanger that promises the
book will be just as compelling.
Young adults who enjoy stories of fantasy, growth, and love will find Wild Open Faces absolutely enthralling reading.Wild Open Faces
Return to Index
ISBN-13: 978-0578708287 $17.95 paper/$9.99 ebook
In Celiac Mom, Ann Campanella's
daughter Sydney exhibits, at age two, health symptoms that physicians
her will disappear as she grows older. It's not until she's five years
a diagnosis finally arrives—celiac disease, a gluten intolerance—and
the beginnings of a journey towards health that involves dietary
and many food challenges before Ann Campanella learns how to identify
the gluten exposures that are slowly killing her daughter.
The evolution of gluten-free habits was
challenged across the board not just by her own mother's test in
different eating habits, but by encounters ranging from school lunches
summer camps to family gatherings.
Campanella was never a cook, and wheat was
the family's former mainstay. This made the learning curve especially
she absorbs hard lessons on all the places wheat can appear, and why
daughter was not being nourished on a diet the rest of the family
absorbed without thought.
Many books cover celiac disease. A large
number of them are cookbooks, while others cover the medical aspects of
intolerance. Few adopt the point of view of a mother charged with
special needs child in a world where celiac disease is barely
little understood; where poison can lurk in virtually any food.
Family relationship adjustments and the
psychology of struggling with such a basic lifestyle change are nicely
in a manner that other parents will find compelling and informative: "I
had talked with Sydney beforehand and explained in simple terms that
very likely the cause of her stomachaches. As a sweet and compliant
was eager to do the right thing. It was just hard having to watch all
kids eat huge slices of a three-layer birthday cake right under her
From homeschooling and friendships to the
terrible results of gluten exposure and the mystery of identifying
when safety is paramount and protocols are seemingly being followed, Celiac
Mom goes where few other parenting books attempt in tracing
challenges of raising a celiac child safely.
Anyone facing a child's food allergy and the crisis of raising them safely in an environment loaded with the allergen will find Celiac Mom a powerful discussion of problems, solutions, and the tangled path towards recovery and health.
This should be the book of choice given to
any parent holding a new diagnosis of a child's celiac condition and
what to do next.
Return to Index
Michael J. Surdyka
ASIN : B08LTGQ641 $4.99 ebook
books about sobriety offer programs and insights, but Fully
Your Individuality To Conquer Addiction adopts a different
considering how diet, exercise, and a focus on change integrate with
regimens for recovery that do not deviate, especially in the vulnerable
year of transition.
Surdyka's book embraces a specific tool he's devised ('The Sobriety
and its focus on making individuality more of a priority in the
than it's been given credit for in other game plans.
evolves must be "fiercely" applied to one's life in order to prove
successful long-term and Fully Alive addresses
this approach and
difference, covering its four major cornerstones to success
diet and exercise, new friends and hobbies, and spirituality) in depth.
goals of lifelong sobriety and a joyful life receive close inspection
goals of individuality and perseverance in mind. Chapters reveal the
of not just the process of gaining sobriety, but the more elusive goal
physical and mental), admonitions, and insights are all geared to
rock-solid sobriety path that will not give way under pressure.
acknowledges the void left by letting go of addictions, and the
filling this void with new life adventures, hobbies, and challenges to
from slipping back into a suddenly-yawning pit of addiction and despair.
Surdyka's attention to specific methods and proven paths for avoiding
mitigating the effects of common obstacles encourages readers to create
own individual lives using these cornerstones as guidelines to building
picture of lifelong success.
will feel surprising, such as the need for "getting rid of all old
and acquaintances immediately." But the goal is to rebuild a new life
without relying on prior foundations or patterns of dysfunction, and
other seemingly radical moves are designed to assure that the newfound
vulnerable sobriety is not short-lived.
attention to long-term results based on individuality and sweeping
places it in a different category than most self-help books about
challenge (to change everything on many different levels) will be
determined readers interested in pursing sobriety as a long-term
Alive is especially recommended for
addicts who have been through
programs before, only to slip back into the same old patterns.
Return to Index
Robert Gill Jr.
Paperback: 978-0-578-71832-3 $12.49
Kindle: 978-0-578-78044-3 $ 7.49
How to Unleash Your Powers and Live a
More Joyful Life is
self-actualization and empowerment, offering a basic treatise that
the roots of happiness and how to find them in everyday life and
opens with an
interpretation of and insights defining happiness. This may seem overly
simplistic, but identification actually lies at the heart of being able
locate happiness in life, and is the best starting point for success.
is one of the keys to manifesting happiness and well-being in daily
Robert Gill shows readers how to achieve this in various ways, from
exercise to developing self-awareness and mindfulness.
between happiness and self-esteem are provided, building and getting
in community projects are promoted, and practical considerations of
without getting taken are also analyzed to emphasize the various paths
achieve and support a happier life.
common obstacles to all these efforts, such as probing underlying roots
dissatisfaction and depression to locate their sources and deal with
appropriately: "When you learn to understand the cause of
emotions, you can begin to repair them. That source is usually
you can easily interact with once you identify it. By interacting, you
change your thought processes to a more positive outlook. That opens up
mind to receive happiness power."
routines that address the needs of others in addition to onesself?
creates clarity in your life and leaves you feeling gratified. It helps
create a value-based life and allows you to live a life of integrity.
life fun. The goals established by our sense of purpose often change
of others, such as establishing charities, disease research, or
result is a
goal-oriented set of projects that all reach and support the objective
leading a happier, more effective life, designed to reach readers
applied solutions to ennui, depression, and negativity.
Power differs from
similar-sounding books in that its
goal is to identify,
then find and unleash happiness into the wider world at large. It's
recommended as a panacea for depression, especially in a world riddled
COVID, worry, and angst.
Can happiness be achieved even under such circumstances? It can, with the help of Happiness Power.Happiness Power
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So You Have a Disease: Devotions and
Stories to Restore
978-1-63357-320-8 Paper: $9.95; $2.99 Kindle
Ordering: So You Have a Disease: Devotions and Stories to Restore Hope
slowly killing author Beth Praed. How does one live life under such
demonstrated in So You Have a Disease:
Devotions and Stories to Restore Hope, which is as much about
cultivating positivity than it is about disease and despair.
cultivated by Praed in this book "...were
given to me by God to help individuals when they are struggling to cope
chronic illness or a disease. This
the only reason for this book to exist..." Her spiritual
and focus will appeal to anyone struggling with disability, disease,
depression, or life's meaning. Her discussions offer hope and
that encourage acknowledging the 'small gifts' that lead to coping and
life-affirming moments, often floating in a sea of adversity.
invitations for spiritual understanding with her own life story and
against multiple sclerosis: "As the
days stretched into weeks, I began to feel that I would never recover. I felt myself losing the
battle. I thought
that the multiple sclerosis would
kill me. And then one day, I felt light filter across my face. I turned my head and
looked at the
blinds. The windows
were open and the
blinds were down. The
breeze was lightly
blowing and the blinds would ripple with light and air.
And then for the next few hours, I watched
the light show. It
was amazing. I
never knew that so many colors
existed. Gray to
white to gold to
blue. And then many
textures and colors
in between. And as
the blinds moved with
God’s hand, I realized that I would live.
God had sent me His beauty to awaken my spirit and give me
this pairing of life-threatening adversity and appreciation of God's
inner strength provides readers with new coping methods for
identifying God's hand in daily life.
who live each day as a challenge, this is a powerful realization that
fuel for their life-affirming struggle.
about hope, courage, and living with a debilitating disease.
It is highly
recommended reading for anyone facing their own 'impossible' struggles,
blending autobiography and spiritual reflection into a positive formula
Return to Index
Soul of an Addict
Alma James Publishing LLC
978-1-7356808-1-1 $16.95 Paper/$8.95 Kindle
Soul of an
Addict: Unlocking the Complex Nature of Addiction will
general-interest readers and those involved in the medical field or
sociology with a survey written for non-addicts who seek a deeper level
understanding of the addictive personality than most books provide.
many others, D.J.
Mitchell views addiction not as
a disease or a choice, but a more complex lifestyle approach that
social, spiritual, and psychological elements as part of its formula.
on the author's
personal experiences with addiction
as well as the insights of others, The
Soul of an Addict compares addiction to religion, using the
as its own case study to show how addiction becomes a lifestyle.
reference is both
specific and heavily footnoted,
linking to studies and articles that support Mitchell's personal
and contentions. His review of how addiction can be overcome embraces
changes rather than general contentions: "A
life of addiction is a habit in
the classical sense: our actions stem from an “internal disposition” to
drugs. This is not something we’re born with, but something that
our addiction satisfies our internal needs. That need is to fill the
actions reflect this need. In order to change, we need new actions and another solution for the hole in
us. Our habit is deeply ingrained, but not unchangeable. We change
by practicing new habits. But
change our habits by finding a new purpose for life. We have to find
new to love, besides the drug. This
makes sense: if we want to adopt new habits, we have to have a good
taking these new actions. Otherwise, we will only be motivated to take
that feel good and that tends to lead us into another addiction."
passages such as this
illustrate why addiction can
be so pervasive and difficult to overcome.
Soul of an
Addict's ability to delve into the heart of the addictive
mindset leads readers onto a path of discovery and insights on the path
from addictive traits and habits.
footnoted references and
quotes support Mitchell's
coverage with thought-provoking, revealing precision: "The
strange aspect of this with respect to addiction is that
we’re talking about life itself. What could be more important? Yet,
as our lives improve in recovery, we become distracted. Priorities
job, the family, and the hobbies take up more time and energy. We face
we never had before. As one of my friends says, “I now have problems in
where I didn’t used to have areas.” Perhaps these areas represent new
addictions. Surely, if we put our job before our spiritual health, that
fit Gerald May’s definition of addiction as “the attachment… of desire
specific objects.” In that sense, Dunnington may be correct. In
terms, as addicts we need to work to maintain our focus on what is
Soul of an
Addict is an eye-opening, relevant, insightful guide that's
recommended for any individual interested in addiction—especially those
have absorbed the standard treatises on the subject and who seek
analysis and insights about the problem and its solutions.
Return to Index
C. L. Nehmer
Finishing Line Press
Author website: https://clnehmer.com
Publisher website: https://www.finishinglinepress.com
been written about aviator Amelia Earhart, but The
Alchemy of Planes offers a poetic exploration of her life and
influence, blending free verse and traditional poetic forms with a
sketch that personalizes Amelia's achievements and disappearance.
not just the facts surrounding her life, but the driving force that
accomplishments so vivid and inspirational to generations of women. As
such, The Alchemy of Planes
unique perspective that focuses not on her disappearance alone, but her
workshop to write a single poem celebrating an admired woman's life,
Nehmer found that Earhart could not be constrained by format or a
approach to the topic. And so this book was born. When a teacher told C. L. Nehmer that the poem was 'full
of ghosts' because it tried to include too much, this collection was
the extent of Amelia's extraordinary life is revealed based on in-depth
research and an equal amount of passion.
they are sparkling stars in Amelia's world that track the cadence of
family's evolution and the progression of her life with lovely imagery
astute observation. It's almost as if Nehmer were there, growing
Earhart: "They say a man/will hang
himself if you give him enough rope./But there are no instructions for
man/dangling from the side of a building, twisting/and trying to climb,
to tear your eyes/away from the terrible struggle,/the inevitable
will learn to sew."
admired Amelia's flying prowess but may know relatively little about
of her life receive a poetic journey through her various roles as a
lover, and a daughter.
This is more than an external celebration. Nehmer seeks to get into the atmosphere, world, and skin of her subject. This approach creates poems that are emotionally compelling and moving: "Mutton and soap and shit and smoke/and the broken lines of a new language/bleed through the walls/where Amelia comes to teach/the immigrant mothers."
literary productions that blend free verse and traditional forms and
maintain a special interest in Amelia's life or the intersection
biography and literature will find much to relish in The
Alchemy of Planes, a beautiful celebration of not just one
life, but the power and passion of poetry.
Return to Index
The Fiddler in the Night is the second
book in the 'The Real and
the Imagined' series and introduces Leonard, a orphaned teen who rides
through life's threats and challenges, empowered by his ability to
treachery and love alike.
descriptions are raw, metaphorical, and sometimes startling as Leonard
this world: "His arms held out to
the sides of him, his mind never trapped by his own self, never
the weight of what he should be, or shouldn’t be, understanding the
himself, always, in this world, hard as that was, and of course, in
too, riding a bike through the lonely continuum of time. He smiled at
knowing, where others couldn’t, and knew he was right, and always would
be. He rode on, his arms still there, to the sides of him, and
come, cover me. Gliding and dipping and soaring, and we do, going on
down a lonely long road, and free now, or at least so he thought. Free
Leonard expands his approach from simple observations of nature to
the human psyche; both of which offer "So
many endless possibilities of strange and wonderful things."
ordinary boy. And this is no ordinary coming of age tale, but a dark
of murder, motivation, and choice that leads into various lives,
sheepherder Jonathan, his mother Kathleen, and his ill father Conor;
Holly; and Rachel and her interactions with the 'state-sponsored woman'
questions her life and relationships.
to life change Jonathan and Leonard and everyone around them, Christian Fennell cultivates an atmosphere
of quiet desperation and normalcy in which even the most inhumane of
and actions receive calm, almost reasonable assessments.
Tragedy, love, luck, murder, and more
coalesce in a delicate dance between horror and life evolution that
the characters in different ways.
It should be noted that dialogue between
them does not include the usual punctuation quotes, but is perfectly
comprehensible. Equally compelling is the contrast between quiet,
determinations ("...of course it is") and
Haunting and ethereal, Fennell's stand-alone
The Fiddler in the Night
masterpiece of reflection that is at once gritty, disturbing, and hard
down. Literary readers looking for something different will welcome its
contrasting harshness and light as it evolves themes that draw
characters into challenged lives.
Return to Index
The Grammar of Untold Stories: Essays
Lois Ruskai Melina
Shanti Arts LLC
Softcover: 978-1-951651-41-1 $16.95
ebook: 978-1-951651-42-8 $ 5.99
The essay form is under-utilized, these
days, in favor of novels and fiction; but when done correctly, it is
as dramatic and compelling as fiction.
Take, for example, the diverse writings in The
Grammar of Untold Stories. Each essay excels in its subject
The collection is arranged by theme ('Family', 'Work', etc.) and embeds
and personal insight into every piece.
The title work 'The Grammar of Untold
Stories' offers one such example as it explores Lois Ruskai Melina's
Hungary in search of her grandmother's roots, which were so vague,
death, that Lois had to conduct research in advance just to discover
village her grandmother came from.
As Melina explores her family and heritage,
social messages are imparted from these revelations; one of them being
experience and questions about the family's background: "People
asked me, “What are you?” My father told me it was none of their
was to answer: “American.” He himself would make what he thought was a
“Hawaiian,” he’d say, at a time when that, too, meant “not American.”
person inquiring stared back at him, trying to find a Pacific Islander
father’s angular features and olive skin, my father would deliver the
line: “You know, Ruskai. Like Molokai.” Then he’d chuckle. Even as a
knew it wasn’t funny. I didn’t understand until much later that he was
deflecting his own embarrassment onto the person who seemed to question
my father and his family belonged here. I think now of the irony in his
the name of an island where lepers were sent."
Each essay weaves into the next, adding more
pieces to the bigger jigsaw puzzle of Melina's life and heritage. Each
contributes its own stand-alone piece that juxtaposes history with
observation and personal experience, drawing its power from all three: "That
summer the university implemented Title IX by stitching together the
women’s athletic departments in a way that moved all the women’s
the organizational chart of the men’s athletic department, like fingers
one hand slipping into the fingers of another. Each woman—including the
AD—became organizationally subservient to the man who held the
title...When I asked the Women’s AD why she agreed to it, she said it
a seat at the table. I didn’t say anything, but I knew it wasn’t our
anymore and that power is not located in a seat but in a body with a
a chest that whirrs like a sewing machine."
The beauty and precision of the language which
stitches together all these seemingly diverse experiences to create a
memory, experience, and social observation makes for a beautiful
While literary and memoir readers will be a
major audience for this creation, The Grammar of Untold
ideally reach beyond literature students into the hearts and minds of
seeking succinct, hard-hitting, and pointed writings about life,
the pursuit of quality and insight.
This collection's unified power makes it a highly
recommended addition for scholarly to general-interest collections.
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Hunting Snipes +four
David Martin Anderson
Trade: 978-1-892617-34-7 $11.98
Ebook: 978-1-892617-35-4 $ 6.99
+four gathers literary short
stories that vary immensely in length and subject, but are held
together by the
unified high quality of each tale's evolutionary process. The novellas
novelettes in this collection are each powerful works that would stand
alone in any literary publication; but when taken together as a whole,
effect is mesmerizing and powerful.
Take the title story, Hunting Snipes.
The definition of the snipe hunt that's provided before the first word
tale points out the snipe's ambiguity and fluid definition, defining it
a hunting attempt and "A practical joke in which an unwitting victim
pursues something that does not exist."
this has to do with the evolving story
of Utah's El Diablo Serial Killer demonstrates David
Martin Anderson's ability to produce plays on words, life and
death, and a macabre dance between predator and prey. Protagonist and
ex-military man William Snipe finds himself both in a complicated love
between a ghost wife and a real beau and a deadly game played by a
killer when his plane crashes and brings the two men together.
is so much
happening in this story that readers not light on their literary toes
find its many twists and changes challenging, at first read. One really
to go over the story several times not just to understand it, but to
the subtle nuances, tongue-in-cheek allusions, and underlying
details and wordplay which elevate this tale from an encounter with a
to one which portrays twists on survival, love, the hunt, and a deadly
that questions who is truly alive.
philosophical reflections into events to supplement the action and
that keep readers guessing: "There’s not a day goes by when I
stare the past right dab square in the face. The past isn’t our enemy.
future." Some of the real meanings behind these reflections
become full-faceted until later in the story, which is why rereading
both needed and desirable.
contrast in tone and subject is 'Orson Welles and the Lindsay Park
which blends historical and literary approaches. Set in 2020 Brooklyn, NY, it focuses on the
relationship between a grandfather and grandson when an elderly
must teach his intolerant (and very ill) grandson the wisdom of
the backdrop of Orson Welles' 'War of the Worlds' with a revised
brings its lesson to new life for the boy.
story holds its own attractions. Each offers a lesson and message
apparent plot and characters, and each takes the time to capture not
sense of purpose, but a sense of place, as in 'Runner Speaks': "Crawling belly-low to the river, Karl
knows Kickapoo warriors will be soaking horses where a freshwater
into a brackish bight in the Pecos. He also knows better than to cross
upstream where scouts sentry for shadows lit by moonlight. Instead, he
under cover of mesquite scrub and an errant sycamore with octopus limbs
collapsing over water. He wades the stream and hikes its bank to a
bench, and slides between limestone boulders sheared from a looming
stories in this collection are ‘Colette & Cole’ and ‘Jessica
The strength of the novella and short story
format lies in the details. Anderson's ability to squeeze each scenario
last drop of compelling action, insight, and contrasts between fantasy,
reality, and changing purposes and perceptions of many of the
for a powerful literary collection.
+four is especially highly
recommended for readers who like their stories full-bodied, unexpected,
delightfully complex, clothed in the initial trappings of everyday
that moves deftly into the unexpected.
Return to Index
readers looking for
works that explore personal
and political relationships, estrangements, and expressions of hope and
will find The Lamps of History a
fitting testimony to connections between personal and historic
opening poem, 'Gauze',
perhaps represents these
swings and this tone the best, offering ethereal images of hope and
are transformative and reveal connections that lie on the edge of life,
subconscious, and the soul's observance of human affairs: "A light shaft cleaves my gurney from the room/and
of IV bags, tubes. An absurd/double take on a Roman catacomb:/my
scans a rack of skulls and shards/as Charon quips, the lamps of
for guests lost in these cobweb shrouds—/so I try to count them,
ninety…/a mask says Now breathe deeply, and I vanish,/a plastic
flashing Vacancy/to distant chatter…"
facing a father's death
and what is left behind in
'Betelgeuse and Rigel' to Jewish religious inspection (as in 'Still:
Examination') which brings to life the mystique underlying ritual and
belief ("Vortex in black, an ellipse of
elders/delving into intractables from benches three-deep, eyes clouded
riddle. At their pith,/a rabbi fingers a book between foci of two
candlesticks./He too appears lost,/compressed by the sweep/of bookcases
above—shelf on shelf of volumes
tilting/somewhat precariously, a wall clock in the corner/out of
Michael Sandler's weave of history, philosophy, spirituality,
social observation is astute and revealing.
works linger in the
mind long after their reading,
lighting the lamps of historical and personal examination in a work
resides on the intersection between personal, political, and spiritual
a sense of both hope
and despair in these pieces
which often juxtapose nicely through the placement choice of these
works, as in
'Adon Olam' and its lament ("The
message well-cloaked in this country night,/void-blackened slate
stars, chalk-white—/perhaps they blink in code though they peer/from
ago—before me—and maybe all./Suppose they signal the end of days?")
and the illusions we grant ourselves in the pursuit of happiness and
in 'Fibonacci Sonnet': "Numbers
don’t lie/though we make them fib/as naturally as plucking certitude
daisy,/believing they will always add up: one coupling with one ought
golden mean—indeed, together our sum seemed greater than two, till
slept elsewhere and we became three,/the lawyers made five, and/nothing
once chilling, revealing,
and poetically powerful, The Lamps of History
worthy, enlightening collection that will delight those who look for
a simple expression of personal experience. It is a delight to
poetry audiences seeking depth and superior imagery.
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Lineage of the Trees
978-0-9892605-5-8 $14.95 Paper/$8.99 ebook
Readers of Native American literature will
find plenty to appreciate in this novel, Lineage of the Trees,
draws on Menominee tribal history and the author's own family.
Lata's investigation of the demise of her
Aunt Charlotte opens up a can of worms as the woman's life,
determination to protect a remaining stand of urban forest are revealed.
The story opens with a bang: "The day before my eighth birthday, my Aunt Charlotte poured gasoline in a crooked line through the house and put a match at one end. I stood on the front lawn where she told me to wait. The last time I saw her, she stood in the attic window waving at me, a solid wall of fire behind her like a stage curtain."
It will take a lifetime for Lata to
understand her aunt's devastating actions, which brings with them her
Uncle Jesse's overwhelming grief and a legacy of activism and
she is convinced nobody really understands: "I didn’t like
were saying—that what Aunt Charlotte had done was crazy, terrible and
Sometimes I had to fight those voices from seeping into me or they
collapsed all the beauty and gift of her into their verdict of
as my belly told me that Aunt Charlotte was the sanest of them all."
Her aunt has left Lata with "a taste
for wildness." This connection between human affairs and the importance
wild places is one of the novel's top strengths as Lata's story
clutched at the tiny islands of wildness along the edge of that
cemetery — the
places where the mower didn’t go, where a half-dozen trees might stand
and make something that to me was more holy than a temple. In those
seeds were planted by the wind — the fingers of God. Sometimes I’d
those islands could be made larger. If I scattered those seeds just
watered them, they could expand inch by inch until they met other
trees. Then those islands would meet the trees that lined the streets
would be a continuous forest. But when I looked around, I knew it
possible. Not with all the fences around people’s yards, the manicured
the cemetery. They’d pull those little saplings out like weeds. But
someday all the fences would be gone, the lawns would become meadows,
someone like Aunt Charlotte would come and be able to make a forest
As Lata absorbs the real meaning of her
aunt's place in the world, her odd choices, and Lata's own evolving
both within and outside her family, readers are carried into an
chronicle of love for not just people, but nature.
Different points of view and events come
into play, from butterflies and bulldozers to Jesse's return to find
images he carries of the past have been completely changed by
time. Even the “random sticks that Charlotte stuck in the ground” have
into unrecognizable mature trees. The passage of time assumes a
quality that draws readers into a world both bygone and present, albeit
Jane Brunette's evocative, almost poetic
descriptions of this passage of time and the events which coalesce
and natural affairs creates a compelling account that weaves together
hope, and transformation alike.
Literature readers interested in stories of
lineage, inheritance, and nature preservation will find Lineage
of the Trees
a lovely celebration of forest, tribe, and spirituality. It creates a
awareness of how roots are set down between generations who find
the land, where "growing up in the city, my soul depended on
islands of wildness."
Return to Index
Marshal Sea began with a short 2007 love affair in Santorini, where poet Brynda Mara both found and lost a part of herself. Her return to New York City ended the month-long romance and evolved into ten years of emotional pain, during which the pieces in Marshal Sea were penned.
The process by which Brynda Mara bonded with Santorini and the possibilities of love are explored in a moving series of images that capture both: "Bound with the sand,/And in your lips/I tasted the seven seas./Your body/The sand/Grinding me,/Binding me with the island."
Brynda turns to poetry to help express and lift her from her pain (to turn sadness into something beautiful/darkness into light). Readers more than familiar with love and choices that change everything will find plenty to relate to in these stark contrasts between love and life and pain and loss: "Words had no meaning before you,/But now I voraciously wait/I wait in vain/In hunger and despair/For thy words/Are all that I would like to have/Thy words..."
These are evocative works that cry out in despair and longing: "I have drunk from your golden goblet of intellect/Which now in my mirror I reflect/Marshal, my Marshal Sea/I still enchanted by thee/Rip me apart/Send your hurricane/Destroy what is left of me/In your golden goblet I shall place my heart..."
compelling works that capture
love, loss, and the lure of the 'mysterious seashore' will find these
to the process are heartfelt, emotional pieces that linger in the mind
after their reading.
Return to Index
Website: Kelsay Books
Lives is a poetry collection that
takes on a "life of
(the title of the first section), cultivating a series of insights
joy, evolution, and the fungible nature of memory and truth. These
range from a
field quite happy to be left alone by humans, to a model who becomes so
more than the builder ever bargained for, to a messenger attempting to
his knowledge with a person who is, ultimately, not capable of the
feeling required to fully receive it.
are replete in these free verse observations, with their deft attention
detail and connections between intention, emotion, and changing
humans forget/a field the field/rejoices, seeds itself/with buzzing
and/distances/and wind miscellanea."
captures a feel of these illusions, observations,
inner visions, painting a different picture of the world each time,
whether it be
the sad legacy of Flint's water issues and its longtime connections to
oppression in 'A Picture Book of Michigan' or an observation
America's brave new world with traditional European culture in 'Nothing
Prepares You': "Perhaps you’ll marvel/having awakened ten
above the city, peering/slantwise into history’s locus,/flinted
eons, such/Roman patina. Easy in that moment/to knock American light,
its/relative newness and naiveté,/insisting its waves and
succinct and pointed references to life's relationships, the power of
and imagination, and the perception and allure of love.
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Anton Chekhov (Anton Korenev, Translator)
Anton Korenev Entertainment
$29.95 Hardcover; $19.95 Paper; $9.99 Ebook; $29.95 Audiobook
The Seagull is translated from Russian
and adapted by Anton Korenev,
and benefits from this Russian director and actor's dramatic flair for
capturing the underlying humor and irony in Chekhov's classic work.
students already familiar with Chekhov's works might wonder at the need
another translation, but this one adds textual and visual cues that are
essential to the story and character interpretation which make their
the English language for the first time. It also features online access
additional materials, including the translator and director's selected
and audio and video resources.
story was a comedy about misguided romances between a cast of
translation here began as a task to make this tale
production-accessible to English speakers
in New York City while retaining the nuances and flavor of the author's
Russian. English captions were the key to staying true to both
lend to a production that incorporates stage directions in a manner
remains true to Chekhov's original intention.
these and other technical challenges, lending insight into the roles,
and dilemmas of a translator's world before it moves to the work
itself, from a
cast of characters to the play.
and drama students alike will appreciate the details and care that have
into this translation, and will find that it stands out as a solid
literary research, language interpretation, and drama that, more so
captures the intention, nuances, and feel of Chekhov's writing.
The Seagull is especially highly
recommended for literary students
of Chekhov's works and drama students who would perform the play; but
serves as a fine example of how translation achieves it goals, and
should gain attention from college-level audiences studying translated
and their processes and impact.
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