January 2023 Review Issue
Mystery & Thrillers
$44.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
enjoy stories that circumnavigate other worlds with a touch of cosmic
and prophecy will find Dark Dweller
powerful blend of topics that injects intrigue into extraterrestrial
lose people in space. When Captain Kara Psomas is declared dead after a
collision with Jupiter, the world moves on without her. Over a century
an escape pod is found containing a young woman who holds a
message in a mission that affects the future of all mankind. She claims
It's up to
rescuers to determine if she is insane, or humanity's only hope. It's
Kara to fulfill her mission, even if it costs the lives of those who
creates a story nicely steeped in intrigue, vivid descriptions, and
action-packed dialogue tempered by an undercurrent of wry humor:
“We’re coming in too hot,” I press, flitting a
concerned frown from Boz
to the planet and back again in hopes she takes the hint to watch where
hell she’s going. “Can’t the AI take over?”
“Which part of shut up isn’t penetrating all that hair?” Boz clicks her tongue, then tweaks on the thruster yokes. Sweat beads on her forehead. “I got this, Dallas. Now back off.”
I wriggle back in my seat and adjust the harness again. Everyone hates a backseat driver, but if she gets this wrong Jupiter will seize the Paralus and we’ll never have enough thrust to escape.
conversations that are part of the first-person story's power bring
to life, as well as circumstances which lead characters to disbelieve
evidence before them: "We don’t need
an interruption now, especially for some kind of damn hoax. It wouldn’t
first time grab men circling Jupiter have thought it funny to broadcast
“alien encounter.” How the hell they get those rubber masks on board
freighters is beyond me."
fine job of shifting these first-person points of view between Kara and
characters. One example is Dr. Luan Nkosi, who is walking Europa when
called to become involved in the mystery of a two-hundred-year-old
looks to be fifteen years old.
adept at juxtaposing hard science, mystery, spiritual components, and
into all kinds of survivors: "Does
that make what I did right? I came out here to find life, not destroy
it. If my
mum were alive, she would be so disappointed. Can almost feel her sad
from beyond the grave. Little Luan,
what have you done? God sees all."
invites those who relish a fast pace in their stories, while the
this woman's potential impact on civilization is nicely done and
for intersections of sci-fi and higher-level thinking, dosed with a
of hard science and wry observational humor, will find Dark
Dweller a fine acquisition that outlines a strange journey
through time and future possibilities.
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$35.99 Hardcover/$19.99 Paper/$2.99 ebook
powerful science fiction story of a young woman who, at age 21, faces
of her mother in an attack that was meant to prevent daughter Kamille
taking the throne of her kingdom.
Locked in the castle for her
own safety and assigned a
nameless guard who holds her in distain for her privileged status,
finds herself struggling with loss, altered perceptions of her world
place in it, a stranger who becomes an unlikely ally, and family
emerge from the depths of despair.
Readers who look for
intriguing stories of adversity told
in a structure filled with dialogue and poetic-style stanzas of
revelation will find Evolve lives
to its title, by requiring them to absorb an unusual format steeped in
Those who normally eschew
the appearance of poetry may at
first balk at this style, but Alysa Wolfe's portrait of a milieu in
"enhanced vibrations" of the Evolved introduce Kamille to new
opportunities and ideas makes for vivid reading.
psychological revelations embedded
within the plot provide science fiction fans with much food for thought
Kamille makes many discoveries and ponders their ultimate impact:
thumbing through Gramma’s Divinity book.
How can people find the space for cruelty?
Reducing a human to screams and bones?
Is it reckless hatred or just apathy?
And how do people bring humanity back with forgiveness?"
Kamille determines that
there are no easy answers to her
questions, which only serve to open further doors of query and
will delight readers seeking both adventure and bigger-picture action.
While its young character
may seem to direct Evolve to young
adult audiences, adults
also will find its mandates and action inviting and revealing.
Libraries looking for
stories that steep action in
psychological growth, social and political revelation, and otherworldly
encounters that bring disparate peoples together will find Evolve a thought-provoking, engrossing
story. Its unusual format
takes some getting used to, but those who persevere will find the tale
surprises and considerations of family, survival, and the precedents
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The Fall of
The Fall of Immortals is the first book
in the Shogun of the
Heavens fantasy series and tells of gods, kings, cosmic threats, and
playing field of eons of time, during which a power struggle embroils
mages, military men and priestesses
are only a few of the forces that participate in a struggle instigated
fallen Immortal and the kings and queens that command power and
with descriptive hand and pays particular attention to the moral and
dilemmas that evolve from chaos: “For the
power in this book to truly belong to a new master, the old one must
nature of power is to be taken by those strong enough to keep it. For
sakes, I hope these foolish notions die with you, and the next
learns from the manner in which you failed yourselves.”
first may find themselves challenged by the wealth of characters and
playground of the gods, which unfolds a different kind of fantasy tale.
is simply much to absorb in the story's opening chapters, which belays
thought that The Fall of Immortals
will be light entertainment reading for those who seek adventure tales
it is; but
under the veneer of challenges and confrontations lays an intellectual
that compels readers to think about broader themes. These include
dangerous choices that hold deadly ramifications for self and
the social and political price to be paid for "endeavors that will not
have a happy ending."
The Fall of Immortals unfolds a complex
world and plot whereby gods
and men lead intersected lives. Each are driven by special interests
that would give much to attain their ultimate goals.
is a king to a god? When gods and men clash, with romance injected into
plot for further dilemmas, the result is a powerful saga embracing old
new life forces, and the rise of a campaign that embraces Atlantis and
potential for revelation, revision, or disaster.
glossary at the conclusion of the book. This might best be skimmed
those interested in more quickly and seamlessly immersing themselves in
story. The references include histories of place and people, locations
significance, special terminology, and even objects of significance and
review of the Eythrope Immortal's rules. Having such elements in mind
to a quicker absorption of all the forces at work in this epic story.
world-building fantasies replete with gods, men, and clashes between
belief systems and special interests will find The
Fall of Immortals a recommendation for those who enjoyed Game of Thrones and similar
world-building, complex fantasies.
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Warren Publishing Inc.
978-1957723112 $15.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
novels tend to sound somewhat alike—a zombie infection forces human
to struggle against them for control of a vastly changed world. What
a plot unique is how an author approaches the skeleton of the story,
why Greg Rode's third book in the Sanctuary series, Gathering,
continues to amaze. Unlike the first two books, Gathering is
divided into three parts.
The first is narrated in the third person and focuses on Morgan, who has isolated herself from the world when it suddenly changes. At first she doesn't notice anything awry, even though "Like all the other cities in the country, Denver and its suburbs screamed, suffered, and died quickly, with a good few of those who remained standing having nothing in their minds but the classic American dream of the pursuit of happiness—in the form of eating their (former) fellow man."
her cocoon, it's to find a strange new milieu in which she encounters
zombie four days after the world has succumbed to their strengths,
that critical pieces of her world and life have shifted.
also in third person but focuses on Eve as she finds her way back to
after separating from them at the beginning of the second book. She
picks up a
couple of survivors along the way, one of whom may have a hidden agenda.
returns to first person as the narrator resumes his accounts of the
their many adventures together as they work to find true sanctuary.
As Rode reviews the group's reactions, pull toward each other, and the elements of strength that give them exceptional abilities to confront this new zombie-controlled environment, readers will appreciate the vivid descriptions and action-packed scenes that create unexpected drama and insights alike.
approach to his books is a zombie series like no other. Gathering
both individually strong and as an expanding addition to a series that
questions survival, revised life purposes, and the real differences
zombies and humans.
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Ramana Rao MLV
979-8357793744 $12.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Heart & Brain: A Sci-Fi Anthology That
Connects Both! also
comes with the added value of connecting the Indian heart, brain, and
to the sci-fi world. This is perhaps the collection's greatest
should be mentioned at the start because it's a major feature of the
collection's unique approach and stories.
pull at heart and intellect is a fine art that Ramana Rao employs with
skill. Each tale in this five-story anthology is designed to play on
while encouraging readers to think and learn about scenarios that
inspiration, aspiration, and strange situations.
'The Sphere,' for example. Here, the minutiae of punctuation, oration,
discovery move from the microcosm of the narrator's perceptions to the
macrocosm of the society and milieu that comprises an Indian company.
introductory analysis of the effort is as painstakingly detailed as a
"My voice resonates strongly through the public
address system. At
least, somehow, I feel it does. I always experience a strange pleasure
listening to my own voice coming out of the speakers. They amplify the
tones, and my silence echoes more prominently. The planned silence
through the hidden speakers always accentuates the force of my words."
narrator's audience may be small, but his words still require
because the promise of and focus on the freedom to experiment, and the
required to do, so indicate a powerful presence that machinery can
for the funding and freedom to create the "perfect AI" comes with a
consideration of spheres of influence and boundaries broken by the
science: “All of us have our own sphere
that encloses our unique personal space. Everyone has it without being
it. The broader the sphere, the broader the knowledge."
the quest for knowledge and perfection become a situation of horror
the boundaries of self, machine, and humanity? Can the concept of a
sphere be used to contain an AI creation? Rao provides a story that is
thought-provoking as it is emotionally compelling.
The same can
of the four other disparate works in this collection. Whether
foray of a Virtual Reality expert who comes to India to find the
the challenges of becoming a natural mother in a future Indian society
childbirth has been circumvented, Rao's attention to diversity and
offers an intellectual and emotional discourse and cultural connections
the sci-fi world.
space theories involving submission or survival traits that go beyond
existing to ask "Who am I? The thing is – does
Rao's collection not only
encourages, but demands thought, debate, and consideration.
Libraries interested in contemporary Indian
literature that turn a foray into disparate sci-fi societies and
an occasion for philosophical and intellectual exploration will find Heart & Brain a cut above
look for entertainment value alone have plenty of options; but the
insights and properties of Heart &
Brain lends to its additional employment as a discussion
source for book
clubs and groups. Especially those that would consider works steeped in
backdrops, holding connections between sci-fi scenarios and the human
going above and beyond the norm at all costs, creating unexpected
make this book eminently recommendable and enlightening.
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Jovian Son, the second book in the
duology begun in They Will Be Coming for Us,
recommended reading for prior fans who absorbed and delighted in the
blend of sci-fi, suspense, and high technology in the introductory
since Svetlana's flight with her son resulted in taking refuge in
certain that no matter what happens, someday her ruthless in-laws will
coming for them.
special for many reasons. His physical appearance has the Russian girls
swarming around this adolescent: "If
only they knew. These Russian girls who flit around my son with stars
eyes, with their straight-legged jeans and their belted suede coats,
thoughts of sex and dating and maybe even marital bliss written all
optimistic faces." But only his family knows his true
the meaning of his past, present, and future role as a pivot point in
prophecy about events that will change and challenge humanity.
such a story told from the vantage point of a mother who strives to
son from his legacy. Svetlana's story in the first book continues this
as she struggles to keep Evander safe against all odds—from kin,
kidnapped and begins to walk into his destiny, Svetlana is faced with
impossible decisions—the decisions of a mother, a human being, and a
made a choice that could change the world.
excels in depicting changing family interactions and relationships
backdrop of sci-fi events. Svetlana is forced to involve her own family
continues to interact with the Jovians. This places her in a dangerous
as she navigates her son's legacy and tries to stop what she has
with the birth of her son and the DNA changes which are moving through
family try to hurt her?
more and more truths, she finds herself trapped in a whirlwind of a
political Jovian-sponsored movement to change humanity in many
her story will find Jovian Son expands
the nature, purposes, and interactions created in They
Will Be Coming for Us.
psychological depth of Svetlana's discoveries make for engrossing
reading: "All of this has happened before,
sure, and in this way my intuition tells me that life truly is a circle
beginning, middle, or end, and one way or another, it continues to spin
universe furls and unfurls again."
that saw patron
interest in They Will Be Coming for Us
should considers its follow-through story a "must have" for any
collection strong in intrigue, sci-fi, and psychological and social
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Warren Publishing Inc.
978-1957723525 $15.95 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Sanctuary is the fourth book of the Sanctuary Chronicles and adds further details about the confrontations between surviving humans and the zombies taking over the world. It also continues to interweave the different voices from a variety of characters, a writing technique Greg Rode uses throughout the rest of the series.
The story opens with a bang as the narrator confesses he has been bitten by a zombie, his greatest fear realized. Is he now doomed to become one of the things his group has fought against and struggled with since the downfall of mankind?
The otherwise-safe sanctuary they have created for themselves feels tainted from within as the story opens; but Rode excels at creating twists and turns of plot that take readers into very different directions. Sanctuary represents another such journey as the narrator muses on past events and concludes that "Every story has an ending, I just didn’t think mine was going to end with me being bitten by a zombie."
As he awaits the process of losing his mind as his group considers some good fortune and how to help others, planning a rescue that will pit them against fellow humans as well as zombies, the story unfolds many surprises which will delight readers that think all zombie stories are alike.
Sanctuary certainly stands out as the survivors consider and adopt flexible, changing perspectives in reaction to revelations and discoveries about the vastly changed world and the power plays between humans and zombies.
The action and adventure develops nicely into the story of how humans have changed in response to this adversity. Readers receive a vivid account that both stands on its own and contributes to the series as a whole as new characters join the group to expand its purposes and perceptions.
zombie story that is anything but ordinary. Sanctuary is highly recommended both for
newcomers and library collections seeing prior patron interest in
Return to Index
They Will Be
Coming for Us
978-1735952215 $18.00 Paper/$2.99 ebook
about genetic engineering with a sci-fi premise that unfolds as a
you have They Will Be Coming for Us,
a multifaceted production. On the surface, it seems like another novel
family entanglements, but Kim Catanzarite adds unexpected elements that
simply delight readers who enjoy intrigue, discovery, and surprises.
marriage to wealthy astronomer Andrew Jovian at first seems a match
heaven. Indeed, her first-person story opens with the light-heartedness
twenty-something sisters playing like kids in a field, drunk with
youth, and life's possibilities as they dance on the cusp of adulthood.
Everything changes with Sveta's marriage—but not in predictable ways.
Andrew's family seems uncommonly focused on her procreation abilities,
preoccupied with her "task" of carrying on the family lineage to the
point of rudeness in their push for an heir. While Svetlana wants
doesn't necessarily want them immediately. A career is foremost in her
and dreams, she becomes pregnant. And then the family's oddities really
to surface, leading her to question whether she really knew what she
getting into, and where she is heading in the future.
Part of the
Catanzarite's story lies in its ability to move from the initial
setting of a
marriage and traditional processes into the extraordinary reality a
faces when she discovers that her life is not what she'd imagined it
away from the carefree, spirited, introductory lines of the story,
readers on an unexpected yet logical journey from predictability to
extraordinary circumstances that involve Sveta in bigger-picture
title is somewhat of a spoiler about the progression of its plot, there
plenty of surprises along the way that offer twists that thriller and
readers may not see coming.
very different world of wealth, Svetlana moves beyond this challenge to
realize that her perceptions of life and her place in it necessitate
powerful story that evolves many unexpected paths to revelation and
Driven by solid characters, the first-person insights that probe
and reactions, and a family whose raw emotions don't always fall into
politically correct territory, the suspense/sci-fi blend works
well, and will attract a wide audience from both genres.
is a foray
into intrigue that's thoroughly steeped in psychological revelation: "I knew we wouldn't get away. I'm
powerless against them."
exceptional stories will find They Will
Be Coming for Us, the first book of a duology, to be a
popular draw among readers of sci-fi, high-tech intrigue, and fiction
for engrossingly unpredictable reads.
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Strange Worlds Publishing
979-8-9853097-6-8 $15.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
had a checkered history when it comes to adding humor into the mix. Too
attempt this combination of elements. Even fewer are successful at
methodology of hard science and fantasy with a wry twist of humor.
anthology Tunnel Vision belays the
notion that sci-fi is entirely serious ... some 22 times, in short
juxtapose humor and diversity. It's an expanded reprint of a work that
appeared in 2009, today sporting two additional pieces.
Many of its
highlight the central theme outlined by Quense in his introduction: "The title Tunnel Vision comes from a
trait displayed by many of the characters: the ability to view events
set of filters that allows them to interpret the events in strange
clarification of the anthology's focus in mind, readers embark on a
through these filters that twist circumstances to suit the realities
experiences of each character.
story 'Staphmeyer's Mantra', for example. Here, Robert Staphmeyer's
internship belays the notion he has of "chasing fame to improve his sex
life," a goal he believes most men have, but few will admit to.
expected was to meet an alien in the ER who asks him to "Take me to
proctologist" because his long-seated interstellar journey has caused
problems. Will Robert be famous for being the first human to treat an
Oh, he achieves fame—but not in the way he envisioned, and with less
in Love,' a story that revolves around a business-oriented Satan and
evolution of slumlords, loan sharks, and devices to improve Hell's
in souls. Lucy has long suffered from being "only a woman" through
the centuries. Heaven wants to close down their company, but Lucy and
colleagues have other ideas.
between business practices and the damned evolves, powered by the
ageless experience of a woman determined to rise above her
embrace a position of power before Hell freezes over.
is a prime
example of diversity, with disparate backgrounds and environments
nicely with characters that both purposefully and accidentally fall
collection that presents humor and sci-fi in very different ways
not only prompt laughter, but thought-provoking reflections on how
life can be warped into something quite extraordinary through the fine
employing tunnel vision to its progression.
groups looking for sci-fi stories that profile different examples of
life dilemmas will find Tunnel Vision
lends especially well to discussions about what constitutes humor and
life, and the ways in which it incarnates in disparate challenges.
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978-0-6455105-0-8 $20.00 Paper/$4.99 ebook
the first book in the Spiral Worlds series, providing sci-fi and
readers with a satisfying blend of both genres. It is projected to span
days (and books), ten worlds, and decades of life between books. If
like heady reading, it should be mentioned that Unanimity
is especially recommended for those who like their sci-fi
'hard' and their stories complex and richly thought-provoking.
One might thus think that
the tale will prove weighty,
but Alexandra Almeida adopts a spirited, lively voice that brings
life right from the story's prologue: "No
one should live past hope, and he was ready to die. The girl screamed
walked away, death struggling to cull so much life, and so her agony
and so did her screams. Another voice roared: the avenger he dragged
the crime scene as she raged and kicked and screamed. Her wrath was his
its cost impossibly high."
As each day unfolds a new
chapter in this story of
suicidal god Tom (biological twin of Shadow), whose broken life rests
creation of a simulated form of reality that helps humanity confront
side, readers receive a thoroughly engrossing story of a man's downfall
his own self-created form of angst and insanity.
Tom confronts Stella, a
Spiral Worlds goddess meant to
replace him, and moves further away from the true love of his life,
poet Nathan Storm, confronting his existence in a different world, the
he's created to avoid becoming the person he has fallen into now, and
demons that pillage and plunder both worlds.
Between forces that are
trying to kill Nate and the power
of the soulless to absorb human experience, Almeida creates an
series of confrontations that follow Tom into the depths of despair and
darkness, lead him to confront his own creations, and result in new
powered by dangerous convictions.
Throughout the tale, readers
are invited to consider the
juxtaposition of reality, fantasy, and the psychological forces that
people, resources, and behaviors.
Tom's involvement in
re-imagining the world takes many
unexpected turns, bringing readers along for a wild ride into new
involved in crafting “Ingenious stories
that increase the life and wellbeing of all liv—umm, beings. Those are
stories—the type of sticky stories we need. Better stories. Rebellious
The resulting unusual blend
of queer social inspection,
hard sci-fi, mystery, psychological revelation, and the nature of
and human endeavors when a software program consumes the world makes
thoroughly engrossing tale. It's highly recommended for libraries
hard sci-fi that eschews outer space for inner world exploration.
Ideally, book clubs will
select Unanimity for its many
discussion points, which range from special
interests and AI reinventions of reality to Shadow's search for answers
self-created world of personal demons that reaches out to embrace
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Warren Publishing, Inc.
The Wall combines a post-apocalyptic zombie survival story with a horror scenario personalized by the first-person, and sometimes third-person, usage. It's a compelling saga that draws readers with an assessment of what it means to be a survivor living through extraordinary times:
"Some would say the end of the world as it was, this scouring of the earth in blood, stunning violence, screams, suffering, fear, and ultimately survival of the fittest—or the damn lucky or lucky damned—is overdue. Those might be from the crowd that looks to a certain large black book for guidance or might be from the practical bunch who think we’re skidding wildly on an icy river toward a frozen waterfall that drops into an endless abyss of selfish behavior, tiresome consumption, and never-ending search for the “next big thing” while overlooking all the amazing things that are right here, right now."
Those who consider the Sanctuary Chronicles series might initially have a "not another zombie story!" reaction, but Greg Rode's skill lies in crafting a narrative that is refreshingly different in tone and presentation:
"If this were a book, the author would probably spend a number of pages telling the reader about everything that has happened to date, especially if it’s a series of books, which could take a while. I let my mind drift in the hazy level of consciousness just after waking and think about what I’d say if I were writing “our” book. Tell all of the history? The stories of the dead? No, not this morning; I’m not in the mood for mourning. Tell about who is still alive and kicking? Seems to make sense."
As much as The Wall is a story of survival, it's also a tale of life under revised conditions, finding joy and peace in a world torn asunder by zombies, and the process of forming new connections and purposes that lead the narrator and his posse to contemplate and create different lives amid chaos.
The journey the characters undertake can be as picturesque and delightful as it is challenging, and this is part of what makes The Wall an exceptional read.
In any life process, adversity often exists alongside prosperity and richness. Rode's ability to capture and contrast these moments lends the story a realistic and compelling overtone, moving it beyond survival instincts and challenging adventures and into the moments where the characters search out beauty and peace in a vastly changed world, uncovering the choices and reactions that translate to toxic or healthy relationships both within their group and in the wider world.
The result is a thought-provoking tale of revelation and discovery that is highly recommended reading for a wide audience interested in original voices and explorations that embrace physical and psychological battles alike.
Libraries seeking zombie stories with a
twist will appreciate The Wall for
its many revelations about
changing interpersonal connections and the process of rebuilding lives
rising horde threatens yet another revolution.
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A World Without Men
A ban on men? In A
World Without Men, such is not only possible, but has
happened 150 years in
the future, when the incubation of men has been prohibited and males
regulated to lower-class near-slaves.
In this woman-controlled
world, Eleanora is tasked with
finding solutions to problems. Maternal desires are satisfied by
children, and new citizens are grown in birth factories, not wombs,
to more specialized selection than in the once-free world. Ordinary
women rarely have the opportunity to raise a child of their own in this
and men have effectively been eliminated from the gene pool.
So, why is Eleanora viewing
bootleg images of men? Raised
in a group home with nurturing women, Eleanora would seem the least
become a revolutionary in this unusual setting. But she is, and her
upholding the status quo is challenged by encounters with those who
acceptance of their roles and future opportunities—especially the rare
lives in this repressive society: “It
seems that is the sole act of personal autonomy left to me. All my
comings and goings are dictated by others. Throwing myself to my death
my choice and mine alone, my only avenue of power.”
Be careful what you look
for. You may find it.
Eleanora's secret passion
becomes a dangerous reality as
she finds herself walking on the dark side of the minority in this
without men. Her character and observations carry readers into an arena
flawed heroines and oppressed men venture into unfamiliar territory.
Randall Moore's ability to
inject moral, ethical, and
social questions into the story gives it the allure of a plot that
to book club debate and group discussion: "It’s
better to nip bad behavior in the bud rather than wait until it takes
This is the way things are and have been in our society for a very long
If a child is judged unable to take a constructive role in society,
Questions of control,
superiority, hypocrisy, and slavery
result in some surprising twists that will encourage readers to think
origins of repression and the bad results of good intentions gone awry.
The result is a futuristic
novel about dangerous trends,
attitudes, and possibilities that should earn a place in any library
works like The Handmaid's Tale, Animal
Farm, and other novels of social inspection and moral and
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Danielle de Valera
Old Tiger Books
978-0-9942545-2-6 $9.96 paper/$2.99 ebook
Short story readers who look
for character-linked stories
that traverse decades of experience will find Dropping
Out an excellent literary collection. It creates a series
of experiences steeped in Australian culture, then follows characters
decide to drop out of their routines and lives, with varying results.
Many people wind up in the
Northern Rivers area of New South
Wales. The region holds both attraction and challenge, as it requires
skill sets to navigate, often leaving pilgrims broke and struggling to
The introductory story,
"Busting God," presents
the dilemma faced by an aging narcotics agent sent to Northern Rivers
mission to snag a big-time drug dealer. Admitting that he "loves the
too well," Michael has struggled to keep up with his younger peers on
force, fielding injury and confrontations with death with the same
that led him to partially recover from his post-traumatic stress from
As the allure of Northern
Rivers grows on him and his
partner, they enter very different lifestyles and make revolutionary
choices that lead to revised purposes.
de Valera grows both the region and other dropout experiences from the
of wisdom that these two narcotics agents experience during the course
story represents a window into not just psychological strengths and
but the evolution of characters that have chosen this region for a
contrast, "Stella by Starlight." Set in 2002, this story revolves
around ex-inmate Charles Lawson. It begins with an especially
about routine and choice: "On
the day he planned to kill himself, the
day he’d decided had the best chance of success, he rose at six as
As the story evolves, readers gain insights
into the tipping point that has turned Lawson's formerly satisfying
one that faces a dark future, indeed.
It takes a beloved cat's disappearance to
alter The Plan, which in turn introduces him to new possibilities for
Each story is a world in itself. Each
combines a literary inspection with the social, psychological, and
philosophical heartbeats of discovery.
story readers looking for an
interconnected set of Australian lives and experiences on the fringes
society and life will find much to relish in Dropping Out. It is highly recommended not just for
literature libraries strong in short stories, but for discussion groups
interested in how place and time are woven into stories to reflect and
other cultures and disparate lives.
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Proverse Hong Kong
978-9888492664 $19.95 Paper/$6.99 ebook
Entanglements: Physics, Love, and Wilderness Dreams
is a poetry
collection that reflects on various types of relationships,
between self and the world, and the personas which evolve in response
stimuli of nature and man alike.
isolation, the poems analyze and represent ideals of what it means to
and unique, providing readers with a sense of evolutionary process that
both singular and quantum entanglements.
this collection with thought-provoking insights into and definitions of
subject: "Whether or not there is a
point to our existence, and whatever that point might be, we
strive for elegance, perfection, beauty, and contentment. Relationships
be the matrix in which we endeavor to understand. We are entangled."
Poems' segments which open the book. Each poem opens and furthers the
discussion of entanglements that stem from the author's role as a
his encounters with patients. The poems about his practice and
the 'micro' introductory stage of his works, examining just one aspect
different kinds of entanglements presented in this collection.
of a young physician alone on the Canadian border who confronts a
to the circumstances of environment and atmosphere which inject a sense
nature into the emotional angst, Mayer is adept at juxtaposing
scenarios for maximum impact: "I
feel weightless, cresting the roller-coaster hill./For a moment of
indecision/my car balances, tips down/and I fear the fall./This hill
will be a
son-of-a-bitch/when it snows next month."
really needs to be read as a progressive building
block of experiences leading to realizations of the different natures
complexity, because each poem and grouping lends to and redefines the
oceans of Maine, the pastoral countryside of Vermont, and the changing
circumstances that embrace the poet and his craft, the poems are
steeped in a
sense of place that comes alive under Mayer's hand: "In sleep
on waves/of flannel sheets and eider down,/the cat curled amongst our
legs,/last night’s fire smoldering in the stove./You roll over, a
tide/flowing over my body."
environments are tempered by philosophical and metaphysical reflections
inject human concerns into wilderness experiences: "From the
summit,/Earth’s existential mass is eclipsed/by a feeling, mystical and
revelatory,/unfocused like peripheral vision./I am grateful for the
respite,/for having survived, thrived,/and for my trail mix and water."
result is a
powerful reflection of wilderness, nature, man, and entanglements that
threads of life, moving within and outside human nature to connect
looking for literary contemporary poetry that dances through senses of
and purpose will welcome and relish the special reflections and
Entanglements promises and presents.
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Kwame Sound Daniels
Poetry enthusiasts who look
for evocative reflections of
heart and soul will find the pause and the breath representative of the type of writing that lends
contemplation about life and its processes than most.
poem, 'Morning'. This exploration of the rituals and routines of the
with the ordinary, then moves into extraordinary possibilities: "Think
about/your decision to grow your hair out and /how it feminizes you.
that/you can’t afford to care. Your hair journey/is too important.
routines/is too important. Caring for yourself/is too important."
setup of the norm thus moves into prospects for transformation and
identifies what is important under the facade of automatic rituals and
anticipate the same attention to heart-felt self-discovery and life
in the opening poems, with each work providing rich slices of insight
reach deeply into potentials for growth. Another such example is the
'Rumi.' It seems almost sacrilegious to lift a quote from this work for
because every word shines and, when taken in its entirety, contributes
greater overall impact. But, for a titillating taste, consider: "Wait
for the cut and the recovery./The heart resides in the hands. How shall
How shall I keep my head held high, my/mouth pursed, anticipating? This
how/the heart touches the world. This is how hearts/of doctors touch
shape my body/the way I dreamed it. That is the future. This
is the past; every moment that is/lived has been.
Chickpeas have already been/soaked and boiled. Collards have already
been/sauteed. Season with salt and harissa."
precision, these pieces capture breaths of life and the pauses between
Poetry readers would do well to allocate the time to make these pauses
these breaths when consuming the pause and the breath.
Its intense study
of life and meaning deserves a place in any library strong in literary
contemporary works that shine.
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Telling You Everything
Poetry chapbooks abound, and so it can be difficult to locate those gems that stand out from the crowd, but Cindy Hochman's Telling You Everything is one creation that deserves attention and discussion.
It gathers works that avid poetry readers might have seen before from such publications as Brownstone Poets Anthology and Clockwise Cat, presenting both these and previously unpublished works under one cover to explore Hochman's literary mark on free verse.
In lieu of the typical introduction, there is a powerful creation featuring the title piece: "I am all moan and bone and dangling participles. I am all pipes and drums but no voice box."
This segues neatly into poems that reflect the fine art of crafting word pictures. Steeped in autobiographical reflection and life inspection, Hochman's words resonate and delight: "I have hovered between illness and ego, pus and shiver. I’ve been low girl on the totem pole. I’ve been something seismic, and cosmic."
Unlike most free verse, these poems often comprise a paragraph of observation and description. The fine line between prose and poem is challenged by Hochman's literary forms, which sometimes adopt the challenge of social and political discourse and other times shoot staccato word images that string together in a more associative inspection than what is traditionally viewed as poetry.
She acknowledges these efforts and departures in the piece "An Arbitrary List of Words That Come Up In Just About Every Poem," which gathers the repetitive words to be found in this collection, forming a commentary and uncommon poetic inspection comprised of the pieces of other story poems: "Winter, spring, summer, fall. Home. Kitchen. Closet. Backyard. Cats, cats, meow. Cat’s meow. Howl. Pandemic. Death. Rebirth/renewal."
Whether self-inspecting, reflecting life's progression, or examining the intersection between human nature and the natural world, Hochman provides an intriguing collection of word portraits that pull with familiar scenes wound into unfamiliar territory: "...I dreamed I was/Ralph Kramden,/driving a/New York City bus/into the sky."
The result is a thought-provoking, metaphorically rich collection of poems that is highly recommended for contemporary libraries looking for works that both reflect and defy the usual sense of what comprises a poem.
Ideally, Telling You Everything will be chosen for illustration in creative writing classes interested in examining the structure and qualities of free verse, poetry, and literary devices.Telling You Everything
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Biography & Autobiography
The Man and
Gary S Berger and Michael DiRuggiero
EINSTEIN: The Man and His Mind gathers
photo highlights from the
Berger Collection that illustrate chronologically significant moments
Einstein's life, pairing them with Einstein quotes, signed letters, and
biographical notes. The result is a synthesis of personal and
insights that, when taken as a whole, reveal and profile Einstein's
achievements in a manner that has somehow been missed by the wealth of
books already on the market.
resources from the Albert Einstein Archives and the collaborative
two researchers who bring to the table different approaches to Einstein
with a shared admiration for his achievements (Dr. Gary S. Berger is an
collector of documents related to Einstein, while Michael DiRuggiero
active rule in curating the Berger collection of photos), the result
differs from and vastly enhances any other Einstein coverage.
EINSTEIN: The Man and His Mind for
idea of this significance, the first note is that the biography and
represented in a unique manner—via vintage photos juxtaposed by a
of information explaining the image and the circumstances of its
is thus linked to visual pieces that will appeal beyond the usual
biography reader, reaching into circles of genealogists and
enthusiasts interested in the intersection of visual and written
This quote, the opening introduction to the collection, illustrates the power of history, biography, and art which are all given equal attention: "The year 1896 was memorable for Einstein in other ways as well. While boarding with the Winteler family, he fell in love for the first time with eighteen-year-old Marie Winteler. And, to avoid mandatory German military service, which he detested, Einstein renounced his German citizenship (for the first time; he would renounce it for the second time in 1933). He was stateless for the next five years, finally becoming a Swiss citizen in 1901. This photograph, a formal studio portrait in the carte-de-visite style, printed on card stock, was designed for presentation. Einstein gave it to his lifelong friend Albert Karr-Karusi and inscribed the back (in German): “To my dear Albert / Your Albert.” It was a memento of their friendship, given in the spirit of today’s high school students who sign each other’s yearbooks."
connecting past history with present-day experience is crafted which
throughout the presentation, allowing modern-day audiences to
ongoing relevance and importance of Einstein's life and times by
processes and life to modern experiences.
and respect for children to interpretations of Einstein's portraits and
reflection of his changing life in later years ("This
image shows Einstein in an unusual pose, squarely facing the
camera. His formal posture in front of a studio background delightfully
contrasts with his attire, a leather jacket buttoned over a dress
Earlier studio portraits of Einstein typically showed him wearing a
portrait of Einstein at age sixty-five reflects his more informal way
at Princeton."), the insights provided by Gary S. Berger and
DiRuggiero are both key to understanding Einstein's evolutionary
unparalleled in the vast body of Einstein literature that seeks to
life and works.
are often easier choices than hard copies of a book, lending to easier
and return to a thought via entering keywords in searches. Those who
hard copy, however, are more than missing something. Einstein is
packaged in a
lovely oversized hardcover that does complete justice to the vintage
that power the production. This quality creates a visceral impact that
fully translate to ebook formats.
The idea was to reproduce the experience of
looking at the original documents and photos as realistically as
heavy weight of the book due to its superior paper quality and glossy
on the photos required the book was published in Italy by a publisher
experience in reproducing artwork and photos.
It cannot be
emphasized enough that any library seeking a definitive collection of
information should consider the powerful, well-researched EINSTEIN: The Man and His Mind a
'foundation pick' to their
reach a wide audience, from those with a special interest in Einstein
who may have relatively little prior familiarity with the man, EINSTEIN: The Man and His Mind is a
standout in Einstein literature and in researched biographical and
studies, and deserves a place not just in Einstein libraries, but in
representing the intersection between photographic art and biography.
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Lynne Renoir Publishing
9780648304364 $14.95 Paper/$9.95 ebook
"God punishes those who fall below his standard of
Leaving Faith, Finding Meaning: A Preacher's
Daughter's Search for God
is a memoir that recounts Lynne Renoir's upbringing in a fundamentalist
Christian family, headed by a preacher who also was an abuser.
the Word of God, and a belief system that seemed to condone his acts
as a family man, leader, and a firm Christian believer, Lynne's father
his household with an iron hand that mete out justice and love with
engrained in Renoir's identity—so much so that her isolated world in
in the 1940s seemed destined never to change. This was as much due to
equation between God, belief, and punishment as to Renoir's father's
In order to
freedom, she would not only have to break the chains of oppression at
would have to entirely reinvent her concept of and relationship to God.
complex journey is the heart of her ultimately uplifting story, which
in any spiritual reader's collection.
"Did I really need the approval of anyone? Joy was
at the heart of
the universe, and the loving Father wanted me to be happy. This was
such a rare
experience that I clung to these feelings for as long as I could."
they are undertaking the momentous task of revising life and belief
find much that resonates in Renoir's memoir.
violence that passes between generations to Renoir's ultimate moves
these engrained patterns, readers will relish the progression of hope
It leads to a powerful story of escape and a return to a more loving
system that embraces God in a different way.
story of escaping abuse is familiar and akin to others raised in
family waters. But the additional challenge of finding meaning outside
form of faith she was raised in creates a powerful additional layer of
complexity that results in a delightfully unexpected journey.
powerful memoirs that examine the roots of Christian belief,
structures, abuse, and redemption will find Leaving
Faith, Finding Meaning a potent story holding much fodder for
for several kinds of reading groups: faith-based circles, and book
looking at memoirs of abuse, escape, and spiritual freedom.
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Carlos R. Serván
978-1-63988-643-2 $17.99 Paper/$27.99 Hardcover
If you were
and blinded by a bomb, would you then immigrate to a safer yet unknown
land? Running Dreams presents this
when Peruvian cadet Carlos finds his initial dreams and life exploded
bomb's aftermath, destroying not only his abilities, but his ideals of
place, and safety.
In search of
latter (and peace) Carlos moves from military life at the Peruvian
academy to the
unknown in the United States; there to experience a different form of
change and challenge that further tests and revises his convictions and
place in the world.
vision of working for the antiterrorist unit and identifying the forces
dangerous Shining Path terrorist organization to the realization that
passion for running has led him to run from his own home and vision of
Carlos R. Serván creates a powerful memoir of this world that draws
into the atmosphere of Peru and the move between that nation and an
After he is
Carlos counts down the hours until he can visit the U.S., there to be
effectively treated by doctors who can offer him better alternatives
life. What he finds is much more than medical relief, but a renewed
life purpose despite moving away from everyone he knows and loves and
environment not only tempered by blindness, but replete with prejudice
of immigrant experiences on library shelves, but what sets Running Dreams apart from many is its
focus on healing and coming
to terms with a very different life:
"As I thought about the immigration process and my
need for a
sponsor, my brain worked overtime. And those were not my only worries.
training ended, I would have nowhere to live, and I’d be unemployed.
that my inadequate language skills and my aching homesickness. Still, I
complain. I had not come to the United States assuming that everything
just fall into place. I knew it would be tough going. I thought to
Well, here I am. And, sure enough, it is just as tough as I imagined it
tackling his new blindness, paperwork, social and legal obstacles, or
of success, readers walk easily in his shoes and experience, with him,
and downs of his life:
"I thought of my mother who suffered—maybe more
than I did—when I
lost my eyesight. I thought of my humble roots in Peru, my poor
the jobs I had as a teenager, and getting into the police academy. I
about the struggles I faced when I arrived in the United States and all
sleepless nights studying."
he gains a new, different vision of opportunity and how to grasp it
involve not just readers who are immigrants or disabled, but anyone who
faced a total challenge to their dreams and familiar life, requiring a
change of revision to perceptions and psyches.
a memoir that stands out for its dual exploration of disability and
as well as immigrant experience will find Running
Dreams a winner not just for patrons, but for book clubs
standout reading about immigrant dreams and realities.
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way past the past
Gray Wolf Books
library shelves, as do memoirs, but combine the two and add a spiritual
component for the taste of something different that is Wandering...a
long way past the past.
Kreider was 22
when she embarked on a 3-year solo journey from a small town in Canada
with little more than a small backpack of trekking gear, one change of
and a heart full of dreams.
Keep in mind
this was the 70s. The internet information age had not yet blossomed;
adventure tourism. Kreider represented the cutting edge of these
so experienced a magical time and experiences that were completely
unpredictable and unable to be studied in advance. Her encounters with
cultures and strangers would shape her new adult years.
Edmund Hillary on the way to climbing mountains to encountering 'men's
and navigating uncharted territory in Iran before the overthrow of the
Dynasty, Kreider was prompted to question herself along the way. Where
going? What was her ultimate destination?
Her attention to detail in recreating conversations, personas, and situations blends with a special degree of naiveté about the history of the places she traversed. This lends an element of surprise to her experiences that is both pleasing and points out how today's travel itinerary, often carefully studied and researched well in advance, belays the growth inherent in discovery.
between Wandering and the usual
modern travelogue is that photos are minimal. Kreider simply didn't
means to cart bulky photo equipment along on her journey; nor was it
of compact cameras.
translates to a
deeper reliance on written description and word to impart the "you are
here" feel of her journey—and in this, Kreider does not disappoint.
Readers are here alongside her at
every point, from witnessing a national rebellion and falling in love
encountering locals in small farming villages. This sense of immediacy
images ultimately sets Wandering...A Long
Way Past the Past more than a notch above contemporary
making for a vivid read that libraries will want to consider for its
era pre-internet and the trekking journey of a young woman in search of
and self, Wandering...a long way past the
past is a powerful recreation of a bygone world of innocence
"The rakshi kept everyone in good spirits. Laughter mixed tenderly
with the chime of yak
bells. Quickly, the cold evening turned frosty, and we climbed into our
sleeping bags. All of us, including the locals, shared the same space
animal-skin rugs. A silver mist cloaked the peaks the next morning, and
sunshine glowed gold along the horizon, shifting into rosy pinks and a
striking, fiery orange."
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A Wrinkle in the Long Gray
978-1-66787-432-6 $23.99 softcover/$9.99 ebook
Wrinkle in the
Long Gray Line: When Conscience and Convention Collided is a
starts not with the usual review of the author's childhood, but with a
about Russia's attack on Ukraine and the toll this has taken on the
the course of describing events of that struggle, Cary Donham examines
of Br'er Rabbit and the tar baby, reconsidering it not as a tale of
one of resistance, "with Br’er
Rabbit being the alter ego of enslaved African–Americans."
That tar baby, this
resistance, and its interpretation
open the memoir with the knowledge that this will be an unusual story
with wider-ranging perspectives than those created by personal
response alone. This particular reference ends with the
insight that "Wars are like the tar
baby. Once they start, countries start kicking and punching, increasing
military aid, sending more troops, building more weapons and suddenly
they are stuck. But so far, no one has found a briar patch to escape
This idea segues neatly into
the Introduction, where a
New York Times headline captures the news of a West Point cadet seeking
discharge as a conscientious objector. That cadet was the author, and
spiritual revelation that led to an unprecedented request for discharge
continued to resonate throughout his life. But the meat of the story
these early years and how a young man from a military town came to
his religious beliefs were in direct opposition to training to be an
From gambits to
indoctrinate, educate, and shape the
minds and bodies of young men to West Point's tolerance of hazing, the
to make it through training to graduation, and the confrontations Cary
faced as he found his lessons challenging the core of his beliefs,
receive a "you are here" feel of the West Point milieu and the
experiences of young men and women who are students at the academy.
Its politics, social
atmosphere, and training are all
reviewed in a book that charts three years of conflicted training and
"wrinkle" the author introduced to an institution which was not
prepared for his ilk. At the heart of this story is a review of the
staying true to one's beliefs versus the moral dilemma involved in
and believing in training and institutions of authority.
military service or the methods and
responses of being a conscientious objector will find that this memoir
represents more than one young man's experiences. It serves as an
information-laden blueprint following the West Point training program
ideology, and ideally will be chosen as a thought-provoking review
Libraries looking for books
filled with information,
photos, and military court case processes will find A
Wrinkle in the Long Gray Line a unique standout for its
thought-provoking inspections of the ultimate charge and challenge of
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everything you believed about yourself and your life history proved to
Choke reveals just such a dilemma as
Certified Nursing Assistant Kerry
Stine finds her entire life called into question over a patient that
from the hospital under her watch.
pushes into her consciousness and sends her on the run, Kerry finds not
her history, but everything she's presumed about her role in life to be
Is she being
and manipulated? Is she insane? The questions mount as Kerry keeps
reasons for mistrusting everyone around her and searches for a way out
seemingly impossible dilemma, sans memory.
Calhoun faces his own problems. Having developed a controversial cure
cancer, he is pursued by both the pharmaceutical mafia and those who
their hands on his world-changing invention. He, too, is a prisoner of
achievements and their potential to change the world.
find their lives and mysteries entwine in unexpected ways as they share
common desire to escape their captors and take charge of their own
whatever they might be.
riveting story that attracts on many high levels. One reason why this
feels so realistic and compelling is the power of description, both
and psychological, that drives a revealing plot:
"Kerry began walking on stiff, sore feet, worn
shoes and dirty
socks, and couldn’t remember the last time she’d brushed her teeth or
last known location of her toothbrush. She walked, dreamlike, almost
like she had on the road outside the warehouse. Walking and breathing,
seeing the precinct crowded with vagrants and uniformed personnel. Stanton was standing in
front of his desk,
arms outstretched, palms up, half smiling. Not a sneer, but not a happy
either. Was there such a thing as happiness in the world of homicide
at crafting a time-sensitive scenario in which the characters work
clock to arrive at new realizations and freedom. Tick tock. The action
driven as much by a sharp attention to tension and revelation as it is
character's pursuit of not just answers, but personal freedom.
give Choke a fine taste of added
value as readers become immersed in twists and turns that test their
perceptions of evolving dilemmas and related choices.
Choke is a compelling story that's hard
to put down: surprising in
its many explorations of the unexpected and steeped in thriller
will delight genre readers and the libraries catering to them.
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978-0-9993387-4-2 $13.29 Paper/$2.99 ebook
Contrarian is a crime thriller steeped in
action and intrigue,
offering an espionage tale that rests on the idea that neither
people are what they appear to be, whether they are heroes or villains
side of good or evil. Indeed, everything lies somewhere in-between
black-and-white definitions, as Contrarian
maintains in its intriguing cat-and-mouse espionage tale.
suspense readers will readily recognize the devices common to classic
reads. The back-and-forth movements of characters, the fluid situations
exact from them unusual responses, and the nature of a conspiracy set
unleash a reign of terror and destruction into the world are all
superior read in this instance is the unexpected. And, in this, Lucas
whether it's pairing a truly unlikely set of characters in an effort
approaches from a different perspective, or the thoughts of those who
for conflict: "In his mind, he could
already see the bodies of the men popping open as he filled them up
bullets. The moment of waiting and watching had bored him; this moment
him. He was ready."
It should be
that vivid, potential trigger events pepper the story, from snuff film
descriptions and scenes of torture to the psychological evil that lies
hearts of seemingly-ordinary individuals. The faint-of-heart should
elsewhere for their thriller reads.
learning about monsters, men, and the environmental and psychological
challenges that link them will find the intrigue and devices of Contrarian provide an extraordinary
story that surveys the underside and turbulent emotional undercurrents
success, failure, and second chances.
genre reads that employ all the usual devices of literary suspense,
then go a
step further in adding the unpredictable, will find that Contrarian
intersects action and psychological revelation in a
vibrant drama that's hard to put down.
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Palm Circle Press, LLC
$29.00 Hardcover/$18.48 Paper/$4.99 ebook
In Crystal Blue Murder, Detective Oliver Parrott finds the bucolic countryside of Brandywine Valley disrupted by a meth lab's explosion, a corpse, threats, and a circle of danger that begins to embrace the wealthiest segment of society.
The story opens with a literal bang. ("Being awakened at two a.m. was bad enough, but the word explosion yanked Detective Oliver Parrott out of bed in nothing flat. The barn on eighty-two-year-old celebrity hostess, Claire Whitman’s fifty-acre farm was burning.") The action becomes non-stop as Parrott's personal life challenges spill over into his professional efforts.
Saralyn Richard is adept at painting the contrast between these lives and the mysteries, secrets, and dilemmas that happen within the community and behind closed doors. She explores lies and truths, layer by layer, through events and character interactions.
“The alcohol’s definitely gone to my head. Right now, I couldn’t care less about meth labs, insurance companies, or financial planners. I just care about you...” The words rang false to her ears, even as she said them, the kind of platitude Bette Davis might have delivered in a dramatic moment. Claire cared about many things in her life—her family, her dead husband’s memory, her heritage, her home, and the fact that something had gone very wrong at Sweetgrass. But for right now, she played the actress, leaning into this wonderful man’s embrace and giving him a long, heartfelt kiss."
As Parrott delves into Claire's life and relationships, readers gain a multi-faceted perspective of life in a moneyed community, where relationships affect outcomes. Money usually talks, but it doesn't always deliver answers.
As Parrott develops a theory of the explosion and the murder it was supposed to hide, he digs ever deeper into the heart and soul of a community that prides itself on not just its wealth, but its secrets. Parrot finds himself fielding relationship information and dangerous circumstances.
Readers who look for mysteries thoroughly steeped in community interactions and the intersection between intrigue and affairs will find much to like in this third book in the Detective Parrott series. An added plus is that it stands nicely alone and requires no prior familiarity with the other books in order to prove immediately accessible and involving to newcomers.
Crystal Blue Murder will find its attention to
building connections and
disconnections in an environment where meth and murder run hand in hand
wealth and secrets to produce a creative, involving story. It offers
twists and turns as it navigates rocky relationships and murder alike.
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Cristina LePort, MD
blends medical and political thriller elements in a story that takes
Cook-style suspense to a whole new level.
When D.C. heart surgeon Dr.
Steven Leeds notices that his
patient caseload is being overtaken by instances of a formerly-rare
injury, further investigation shows that these heart-attack-causing
were preceded by a card announcing the victims' eminent demise.
Enter P.I. Kirk Milner and
FBI agent Jack Mulville.
Relatively quickly, they pin the likely perp as a former lover of Dr.
is connected to the victims. But as the threats expand and the vascular
continue, it's evident they've been grasping the wrong possibilities.
Dr. LePort embeds a sense of
humor into the process which
emerges at unexpected moments: "You
don't need any soundwaves to get a heart attack," Mulville said,
at the waitress in the Irish outfit. "You just have to regularly come
for dinner a couple times a week." These provide surprising
relief to a deadly set of circumstances which keep investigators and
guessing as the medical world reels around internal politics and
and the dissection of its own structure.
Dr. LePort's medical
background adds realistic and
thought-provoking information about medical processes and personnel
story. This creates a realistic and compelling piece that lends as much
into the medical community as to the evolving medical conundrum that
perps and participants of all types.
The contrasting dances
between these personalities proves
a draw that will prove hard to put down as the story continues from
conclusions to more intricate and less predictable possibilities. There
just one, but a series of climaxes throughout the tale that lead even
thriller readers into unfamiliar territory filled with solid
and backed by the experiences of the cardiologist author.
fast pace, believable progression and characters, and attention to
it an outstanding recommendation for libraries seeing patron interest
thrillers. This audience will find Dissection
a gripping story that proves hard to put down and thought-provoking to
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Eye of the Ocelot
Green Heart Books
$9.99 Kindle/$16.99 Paper/$26.99 Hardcover
Publisher website: www.greenheartbooks.com
of the Ocelot
seamlessly blends mystery and romance in the first book of the Abigail
series. Set in Cape Cod and steeped with the ambitions and efforts of a
who is both flawed and effective as an individual and as a detective, Eye of the Ocelot sports a mercurial
countenance that opens with childhood discoveries.
Volta Rose arbors the
ability to create a compelling
story that avoids the usual methods of mystery to draw readers into a
set of purposes, whether it is a family confrontation with illness,
species encounters and appreciation, or a series of challenges that
Cod and Abigail to life.
From the death of Dian
Fossey and her mission to help her
beloved apes which leads her to become Abby's heroine to the adult
realization of bigger-picture thinking, readers receive a mystery more
in environmental issues and social revelation than the usual formula
Rose's descriptions of
Abby's growth process are inviting
and thought-provoking adjuncts to the intrigue: "Abby
felt she could not sustain it, and had a vision of the arc
of her own life: long, awake, and alive. She became acutely aware of
of a killdeer’s lonely keening, the salty scent of the sea breeze, the
her hair, and moving with the rhythm of the undulating dune grass
the wind. Chris’s touch brought a clear picture to her mind: a perfect
she’d recently seen etched into the surface of the sand by a sharp tip
grass, turned round and round the
base of its stem by the oscillating ocean breeze."
Few mysteries can claim such
attention to building a
sense of environmental understanding and purpose. Fewer can maintain an
to bring their characters into touch with not only their surroundings,
their broader life purposes and the effects of their actions.
There's plenty of
suspenseful action, ranging from a
too-close encounter at the Three Sisters Lighthouse to unusual cop
case breakthroughs, and confrontations that bring tenacious detective
Fiorelli to the brink of death.
Her journey will delight not
just avid mystery readers,
who will readily recognize the difference in quality between this blend
environmental and social examination and the usual genre story, but
audiences who usually eschew mysteries for their too-predictable plots.
exceptional reads based as much on
environmental discovery and personal recovery from loss and trauma as
ruthless international organization's purposes will find Eye
of the Ocelot satisfyingly unique and original in its
character-building, and blend of romance, social understanding, and
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Moonlight Can Be
Deadly may be the fourth book in
the Discount Detective series, but it comes
with an introductory cast of characters that makes it easy for
slip into its background and story. Even hidden agendas are outlined to
readers fall more seamlessly into the plot, which revolves around a
in a midnight ritual. The tale opens with the everyday scenario of a
whose day has been off-kilter since she organized breakfast for her
find a protagonist as thoroughly immersed in matters outside of murder
Cameron, but it's just this sense of everyday experiences, tempered by
coincidences from life circumstances, that creates an immediate
Moonlight Can Be Deadly's audience.
upon a woman crying in a mall, would your impulse be to help? And if
about the reputation of your own business in said mall, wouldn't your
investigative savvy sense danger? Both events happen to Cameron as she
upon events and secrets that immerse her family in a new quandary.
Stuart's attention to detail and discovery keeps the story fast-paced
satisfy mystery readers, yet firmly rooted in real-life everyday
those who would receive a sense of reality-based developments between
her colleague Yuri, and her kids.
the Full Moon
Society's operations and dilemmas come to light and increasingly affect
Cameron's life, readers will welcome Stuart's attention to presenting
worlds side-by-side as unfolding events threaten murder and danger.
Moonlight Can Be
Deadly represents a satisfying
dance between changing scenarios. Choose
coffee or wine as you wish, but the story comes steeped in both quiet
drama, from locked doors and changing dating possibilities to haunting
for situations nicely rooted in everyday foundations will find Moonlight
Be Deadly a fine study in building tension from normal life
to and including murder scenarios.
find the story worthy of not only inclusion in a mystery collection,
recommendable to book clubs interested in light-hearted mysteries that
around little indiscretions, lies, and bigger-picture events.
Return to Index
Murder at Amapas Beach opens in Puerto
Vallarta, where Amanda
Pennyworth is experiencing a romantic interlude with Romero while on
in Mexico when trouble strikes in the form of stranger Danielle Maglin.
chance conversation overheard leads Amanda to realize their connection
Racine, Wisconsin, which is Amanda's childhood home.
coincidence evolves into something more when Danielle is murdered.
compelled to take on her case and discover the underlying factors
Danielle's death, which belays the intention of both her vacation and
agenda of the Sun and Fun Travel Agency (in this instance, perhaps
named). As events lead to a second demise, Amanda finds not answers,
questions as a wide-ranging list of suspects evolves, each containing
begin? Everything feels "contradictory
and confusing." So
that perhaps even the suspects themselves are confused about their
choices in various situations.
Murder at Amapas Beach offers the fine
scenario of a vacation that
segues into a murder mystery. Its atmospheric portrait of Mexico,
personalities, the intersection of fun and frightening developments,
simmering resentments on the parts of many creates an engrossing set of
becomes a laundry list of special interests as Amanda pursues the truth
facing her own mystery over Romero. The intersection of romance and
works well as readers absorb not just Amanda's efforts, but the role of
Sergeant Colin McMillan, who appears midway in the story to add the
of an investigator far from Mexico who finds a foreign murder case
multifaceted mysteries that take on an international flavor as they
many suspects and possibilities, as well as prior fans of Amanda
will find Murder at Amapas Beach an
involving read which is highly recommended.
Return to Index
Level Best Books
978-1685121969 $5.99 ebook/$16.95 Paper
Murder in Third Position is an On Pointe
mystery that combines ballet
with a female sleuth's latest case. Readers need not be ballet dancers
themselves in order to enjoy the pirouettes and placements this story
towards intrigue goes far, as the story unfolds a different Nutcracker
in which intrigue blends with the challenges of being a dancer: "I’ve danced naked in front of
thousands of people, watched a tidal wave sweep away my pointe shoes,
fallen into a bottomless pit. But unlike those pre-performance
Maurice Kaminsky’s Deathtrap was all too real. And while I’d woken from
fevered dream in a cold sweat, the perspiration I endured at our first
rehearsal was more likely to kill me than save me."
a vivid descriptive prowess as lead dancer Leah Siderova finds her
role fraught with political, artistic, and investigative challenges.
do not ordinarily go together. With the abusive overseer Maurice dead
suspicion falling upon Leah's dance partner, she has no choice but to
her own investigation of what really happened behind the scenes. When
theater goes dark and allows a predator access to the stage, Leah exits
left to play the dangerous role of a detective that leads her into more
and unexpected territory.
Robbins does an outstanding job of juxtaposing the ballet world with the investigative process that challenges Leah's set roles, forcing her to new heights of realization about the world of dance, her colleagues, and her own ambitions.
missing and more potential victims emerge, Leah and her sister must
dangerous path to get at the truth.
back stories of the dancing world and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the
of a ballet production will find these realistic elements contribute to
foray into an entirely different milieu.
characterization is very well done as readers become immersed in Leah's
artistic and professional efforts, easily understanding how she feels
solve this dangerous riddle, even though her sister is supposedly the
maintains: “I’m a dancer. I talk with my
efforts to speak through her dance rather than becoming another body on
widening hit list makes for compelling reading. Perhaps this is because
tension is finely drawn and the movements between dance and death
own form of masterful entwining that keeps readers involved in a
in mysteries that embrace the ballet world and the motivations of a
dancer who finds herself pulled into an unexpected romance will find Murder in Third Position exquisitely
complex, nicely steeped in both drama and the competitive atmosphere of
Return to Index
Terra Nova Books (SCB Distributors)
detective/mystery genre well know there are numerous stories about art
the market—so many that they could easily become a sub-genre
progressions of such plots tend to be predictable: a valued painting is
auction, struggles over ownership ensue, and mysteries surrounding
paintings abound until the relic finally returns home.
anticipate that The Pirate Queen's Daughter will
assume such a backdrop
will find themselves pleasantly surprised by William Frank's special
to unusual details which expand the usual investigative progression to
some unusual twists and turns.
Tommy McNaul is a long-time art-crime detective. But his latest
of a theft and murder comes home to roost in unusual ways in Santa Fe,
operates, connecting this world with that of Boston Irish mobsters and
family's drive to uncover the truth from their tumultuous history.
Tom is drawn to the case by an alluring university professor whose
can't ignore. His
expertise in handling
stolen fine art cases with his brother results in their immersion into
Bostonian affairs through an elusive Monet piece that comes with no
records at all. They have only a seven-year-old's memories to work
with. Nor is
there proof of ownership, making matters even more complex.
the opening quandaries in a story that evolves so many questions that
he will not only fail to find answers, but may be endangering more than
family legacy by taking on an impossible challenge.
murder in Northern Ireland and thieves whose legacy falls on the
the next generation bring Tom, his older brother, Willie, and FBI agent
Baco closer to an amazing truth. Readers will find just the right blend
mystery, and cat-and-mouse intrigue develops, tempered by changing
relationships. The story's foundations of art, history, and murder
include social issues particular to Ireland, Boston, and mob
Readers will find themselves immersed in a captivating, intriguing
plots and oddly interconnected characters.
interest in contemporary mystery stories that base their dilemmas on
history worlds alike will find The Pirate Queen's Daughter
story. William Frank takes the time to build atmosphere and believable
characters, evolving dilemmas that even seasoned genre readers won't
to the subgenre of art history mysteries, The Pirate Queen's
represents a standout story of a strange inheritance and its impact on
widening circle of parties of interest.
Return to Index
Shears of a
Louise Jane Watson
ASIN: B0BJMG1YNX $2.99 ebook
who enjoy more than a light dose of humor in their reads will find Shears of a Clown a fine story of
derailed lives and unexpected encounters. The humor pops up from the
"Taking certain fruits and veggies into the state
was against the law and I still had a few grapes sitting on the
As he approached, I put all four of those bad boys in my mouth and then
the window as instructed.
"Any fruits or vegetables to declare ma'am?" the guard asked me.
"Ghffuh mmnet." I held up a finger, swallowed, then gave a grin. "Not anymore."
The not-amused border guard waved me through with a monotone, “Welcome to California, ma’am.”
I entered the golden state.
Murder is no
matter, however—especially if one's estranged sister becomes a suspect.
Simpson thus finds herself not en route to a new life, but returning to
hometown of Blue River in a diversion that brings her into full contact
arrested for the murder of would-be mayor and local gossip Cara
murder weapon was a pair of cannabis trimming shears. And so pot enters
picture of small-town politics and adversity as Sadie, once an insider
considered an outsider, returns to probe the underbelly of a community
comes to mind in considering this first book in The Humboldt County
Series. The cast of characters is anything but ordinary and the murder
list admittedly too long for her to tackle effectively. Sadie's
reluctant as it is, soon assumes the finer art of investigating the
politics and personalities as much as the motivation for murder.
Sadie makes involves one step back into the muddied waters of her past
puzzles of modern-day life. Each progression and experience is cemented
wry sense of humor:
"Carefully folding a sequined satin jumpsuit, I
imagined a window
display complete with disco ball and platform boots; how much fun it
would be to
make window displays for this place. The radio must have been tuning
brain because Donna Summer started to sing. The jumpsuit might not be
but platform shoes next to them were. I strapped on the clunky things
immediately enjoyed being several inches taller. Donna Summer blended
Diana Ross...I danced it out, under the scathing eye of Fergie. Finally
for breath, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I saw Jarrah, plus two
people, watching my
the clean window. I gave them a bow, then puffing a little I opened the
"Hi!" I said.
"Nice moves, kinda look like a wallaby in labor," said Jarrah."
is a cozy
mystery that reaches out to envelope its readers in a return to Blue
the champions, set-ups, and intrigue that simmers under its surface.
memorable cozy mysteries will welcome the opportunity to follow Sadie's
into past and present dilemmas and the patron laughter that will
Return to Index
Tainted Wine is the second book in the
Steve Daniels mystery
series, and is particularly recommended for readers interested in San
Bay Area backdrops and winery settings.
Daniels is pulled into the puzzle of a murdered vintner found in his
a corkscrew in his throat, and finds himself determining the innocence
of Jessica, an heiress to the family fortune and first in the line of
mix and things get sticky quickly; especially when Steve makes
affect his blossoming relationship with food and wine editor Isabella
sophisticated woman who at first feels out of his reach.
terminology ("the nose")
permeates the tale, adding satisfyingly complex flavors of authenticity
revelation as Steve delves into worlds he'd been unfamiliar with,
peck of possibilities and trouble that reach out to immerse him in a
atmosphere of the
1950s comes to life as Steve navigates court proceedings, winery
and situations which flashback to when he had to kill in self-defense.
circumstances lead him to kill again, against all odds and his own
component lies in Steve's quandary over not just his investigation of
or guilt, but his own participation in events that test his moral
his investigative prowess alike.
Watkins does a
fine job of following the initial puzzle into unexpected territory,
the murder mystery with Steve's own changing intentions and revelations.
powerfully rendered story that draws readers with Steve's first-person
quandaries and probes not just the winery industry, but good and bad
choices don't often result in predictable paths of revelation and
mysteries nicely rooted in a sense of place and shifting discoveries
will find Tainted Wine an excellent
especially for those located in California's wine country.
Return to Index
The Treatment Plan
Black Rose Writing
978-1-68513-093-0 $23.95 Paper/$6.99 Kindle
Imagine you’re a
psychiatrist whose conscience troubles you about your past treatment of
former patients. Now imagine those same patients have banded together
you a taste of your own cure.
That's the premise of The
Treatment Plan, a psychological thriller that adds a healthy
ethical inspection into its story.
The tale begins with a
newly-awakened patient who comes
to realize that the hospital has gotten his name wrong. His partial
blurs the details of why he is there, but one thing he does know is
in Arizona ... and that he may prefer to not recall his life's details:
"The reason I’m having trouble
recalling personal data is not that I can’t
remember, it’s that I don’t want
to. Some part of me—a major shareholder, I think—is
acquiring the knowledge of who I am."
The story evolves from this
mystery to grip readers with
the first-person perspective of a man who awakens into a nightmare of
With kidnapping and torture
part of the bigger picture,
who is the real psychotic, here—patient, or doctor?
Readers may think they know
what's coming in The Treatment Plan,
but Andrew Wolfendon
has a way of turning the tables on expectations and ordinary scenarios.
flavors his thriller with a seat-of-your-pants feel as readers view
the narrator's confused eyes, only to find his premises and prognoses
constantly overturned or thwarted.
A recently deceased daughter
becomes caught up in these
events, and the narrator must stifle his inherent arrogance in favor of
reconnecting with her in a different, more spiritual manner.
Wolfendon crafts a tale that
is exemplary in its
representations of compulsions, mental and spiritual crisis, and the
contrasting world of science and logic which perhaps can't fully
dilemma the narrator finds himself caught in. Long ago, he slammed the
spiritual mysteries. Should he return to that possibility, or double
the science and logic which led him to this place?
Readers with prior interest
in and familiarity with
medical thriller books will find both recognizable tension and
different threads in this story. Most readers have known a
cynic," but rarely does this logical mind come to life as in The Treatment Plan, which represents an
analysis of processes as much as individuals.
As the story boils down to a
challenge over gut belief
systems, readers will enjoy a thought-provoking examination of inner
a learned psychiatrist's revised position as a patient confronting
powered by the efforts of his own clients.
Plan is highly recommended for libraries strong in medical
ideally won't repose on such shelves, but will assume an active role in
discussion groups centered on ethical and moral medical dilemmas and
contrasts between science and belief systems.
Its ability to build ongoing
tension alongside concurrent
revelations makes for a winning combination that constantly raises
the reader's mind as twists and turns lead them on unexpected paths.
Return to Index
Who Are You?
R. T. Lund
Little Creek Press
Are You? forges its mystery on the shores of Lake Harriet, in
an affluent neighborhood where the popular president of the Minneapolis
Council is murdered, her dead body marring the ritzy community's image.
Events are narrated from the
first-person viewpoint of
Detective Lincoln Barnes, who is called to the scene along with partner
Lindquist to find that evidence suggests that Kate Patterson Bagley
This requires a probe into
her life as the detectives
struggle with evidence and background checks to find the perp.
the circumstances of that life offer a simmering brew of confusion and
possibilities that lie below the surface of Kate's public appearance.
Lincoln and her partner find themselves immersed in untangling the
between a judge and a political figure and the dangerous game they
As they explore Kate's life
and the increasingly dangerous
obsession she harbors, Lincoln finds her own perceptions and future
unexpectedly challenged when the trail leads too close to her own life
Against the backdrop of the
pandemic, other relationships
and connections, and a passion for running and competition, Lincoln
closer to a truth which lends revelation and uncertainty to everything
believed in the course of her life.
The result is the first book
in a murder mystery series
that is engrossing, well-written, and packed with personal and
revelations that keep readers thoroughly engaged.
recurring dreams, and ironies come
together in unexpected ways that keep readers guessing.
The atmospheric intrigue of Who Are You?
makes for a strong
story that libraries will find a fine addition to their mystery
ability to explore the devils within and without individuals, examining
these lives entwine in unexpected ways, lends it bigger-picture value
readers absorb both the mystery and the new challenges to Detective
trajectory in life.
Return to Index
Elevation Book Publishing, LLC
love stalk Renee Chadwick's life in Diminishing
Veil, but even before she met handsome playboy and successful
Marvin Yarbrough, she struggled with many elements of success that
bring her full circle into bad decisions and dubious situations.
If Renee had
right choice, life could have been different. Can she make the right
towards true love, this time; or will they always lie in the dubious,
world of indecision and bad judgment?
surrounds Renee consists of her past choices. As she tries to break
to a different life, she considers both her mother's teachings (“Love is a fool’s journey, and it hurts, but
when it is good it’s amazing.”) and new possibilities.
between past trauma and the PTSD Renee struggles with, as well as
engagement that shroud the difference between a bad choice and a good
readers receive a powerful saga that moves through different lives and
approaches to recovery.
portraying not just a victim, but the stumbling points of true
story questions how romance is fostered, recognized, and differentiated
to control or victimize others as it builds a new life for Renee from
of extreme abuse.
components of her interactions with family, friends, and potential
particularly well done because they offer no pat answers, but consider
complexity of living life more fully and differently than with the
patterns and reactions of the past.
Diminishing Veil outlines the beliefs,
experiences, and scenarios
that result in limited options or repeated negative options—then
capture the differing viewpoints of all involved, crafting a more
romantic connection than Renee previously fostered, makes for a story
especially intrigue audiences interested in questions of how recovery
not just romance but PTSD and abuse recovery will find Diminishing
Veil thought-provoking, engrossing reading.
Return to Index
Black Rose Writing
978-1-68513-168-5 $23.99 Paper/$6.99 ebook
group receives fan mail. They also receive hate mail. When such
assume physical threat, however, the mail turns into more of a trial
than a support
brothers who enjoy musical success, note that their fan mail has turned
threatening, they are inclined to ignore it. After all, every success
naysayers and haters. But when it evolves into a violence that
threatens their family,
they come to question not only the price of their success, but their
is drawn into the fray when Bobby and Randy's response threatens to
divide the family. He once nearly died saving his brothers, and bears
physical and emotional scars for life. Can he again inject himself into
new scenario as a hero and savior? What will be the price of that
of Fan Mail dovetail nicely with
social and psychological inspections that are wound into the tale.
of integrity, breaking rules, and deadly letters that rock the
everything the boys have built makes for an intriguing story that
subplots covering moral and ethical dilemmas.
groups, especially those for young adults, will find numerous topics
discussion here, from artistry and creative projects that define and
young adult perspectives to evolving circumstances that lead them to
their pasts, present, and possible futures.
violence, and some profanity peppers the story, mature teens will be
audience, especially with discussion groups adding value to the
injecting reflections on love, kindness, and choice: "...we
are given moments. Each day. Every day."
Fan Mail is hard to easily peg. At once a
coming-of-age story that
will appeal to mature teens, a thriller that can reach into adult
and a psychological suspense novel that holds elements of deeper life
inspections about sacrifice, redemption, and discovery, its gripping
reach a wide audience of readers and age groups.
a vivid, fast-paced story that moves from LGBTQ+ issues to family ties
beyond will find Fan Mail a fine
Return to Index
Coffee Cup Press
978-1-7332790-4-8 $9.99 Paperback/$3.99 ebook
Flawless Witness is a novella and a sequel to the novel Flower
Girl and opens in
2020, over thirty years after the conclusion of Flower Girl.
note to this novel is that it deals with narcissism and a dangerous,
husband. These topics may prove triggers to those in similar
offers many insights about survival and growth that it would be a shame
taken refuge from the COVID pandemic at Honey Bear, a western New York
that offers solitude, protection, and the chance to re-examine the
led Suzanna ("Flower Girl") to this point in time.
written by Jonathan Herbert Spencer III that emerges from an unlikely
see the light of day reveals far darker secrets, purposes, and visions
by her ex-husband
than Suzanna could ever have imagined.
portrays her ex as a physician as a selfless bastion of the community.
knows better; because Jonathan was a master of deceit, and his true
that of a dangerous stalker and vengeful predator.
does not give her a sense of freedom after so many years of abuse:
Hyde may reach from the grave and wield more wicked wrongdoing."
he does—albeit not in the manner she could have anticipated. It arrives
form of a journal that details his deepest, most dangerous thoughts
just her and his new love, but his views of women as a whole.
interested in the long-term prospect of surviving spousal abuse,
personalities, and those who present one picture to the community while
their darknesses well hidden will find much that resonates in Flawless
this intimate journal of depravity, readers gain an inside look at the
and danger of a sociopath able to operate as both a pillar of the
a dangerous figure of horror at home.
most stories of spousal abuse, Flawless Witness
reveals the predator's
mind and the victim's actions and reactions as she tries to wiggle away
the traps intentionally set by a treacherous personality.
"Bunny" names he attaches to women he seemingly loves (but actually
scorns) to the ironies and disparities between Jonathan's choices and
attitude, readers receive a powerful juxtaposition of threat and
that keep Suzanna within grasp of deadly danger no matter how far she
from Jonathan's hold.
Jonathan "won’t hunt deer or even kill a Woodchuck"
mean he won't hunt or methodically attack the women he purports to love.
almost any other book about predators and their victims, this intimate
into the mindset of a stalker is compelling, absorbing, and
after its reading, it lingers in the mind like a ghost.
seeking women's literature that delves into the psychology of abusers
reactions of their victims will find Flawless Witness devastatingly
revealing, while book clubs or discussion groups addressing topics of
relationships and survival will find A Flawless Witness
eye-opening revelations suitable for much discussion and debate.
Return to Index
978-1-66782-486-4 $19.99 Paper/$6.49 ebook
Theorem is a novel of middle age,
reinvention, and isolation, following the
evolution of a new widower whose world is changed not only by the
demise of his
wife, but by the isolation of COVID and the trajectory of his teenage
daughter, who are on the cusp of leaving home.
always a challenge, but when paired with the looming empty nest
syndrome of a family
disassembling even further and a middle-aged man's crisis over his
changed future, it's especially hard-hitting.
follow Jack Callany's
reflections on his past, present, and what is likely for his future,
McDowell weaves many threads of modern life into a story which will
contemporary audiences with its inspections of later-life possibilities.
by death and COVID's concurrent appearance is furthered by the specter
in-house support system dissolving, leaving Jack both free to pursue a
different life and alone in his journey in more ways than one.
sense of quiet desperation and growth into this saga of re-envisioning
future under vastly changed circumstances. His attention to dialogue,
characterization, and life choices as the backdrops to unprecedented
brings with it a vivid familiarity with the characters, allowing
contemplate their own situations and the choices that influence
Readers won't expect
the wry humor or the sense of joy that supplements pain with pleasure,
much like life, The
Theorem reflects the
juxtaposition of many facets as Jack's world contracts,
then expands in surprising ways. This charts both the highs and lows of
that at first seems to be unraveling, but eventually reforms in a
fiction readers seeking contemporary middle-age-crisis novels that move
the obvious to probe the moments and maturity of individuals still
life and learning will find that The Incompleteness Theorem crafts
welcome journey. It invites readers to step right in and come along for
ride of Jack's life: "The sun was deep red now and kissed the
horizon. For a moment I had no history, no sadness, no plans. Every
part of me
mustered into the extreme present, making me intensely alert and
calm all at once."
Return to Index
best friends who too often grow apart in adult years, moving on and
very different lives. Thus has been the case for Maggie and her
circumstance and life can sometimes cross again, but those linked by
have since become someone else as time passes—especially when a death
disappearance introduced an estrangement that has lasted for decades.
In Magpie, these two now-disparate former
friends are thrown back together in an unexpected, unusual manner that
introduces past memories and conundrums into present-day experiences.
a mother's death, a Tsalagi woman who also vanished from Maggie's
and a mystery that threatens to raise long-repressed memories about
happened make for a vivid read that embraces childhood and adult angst.
memories may be
the key to why Maggie has grown into a relatively indifferent adult.
that "People don't talk about it.
Maybe they don't want to admit it that feeling nothing is peaceful.
invisible. No attachments, no reasons to linger or prove or uphold.
beauty of nothingness. The purity of it."
adult life around choosing the obvious, avoiding surprises, and
settling for "the second verse, same as the
first." Dana brings with her the demand for a different
response, the realization
of many truths Maggie successfully buried at great cost, and the
changes Maggie never wanted to consider.
this novel will stir unpleasant memories of choices towards peace over
adventure; predictability over excitement. As Maggie moves into many
revelations, so readers will find their hearts tugged and challenged by
self-discoveries and the truth that lies at the center of her adult
novels about friendship, mystery, growth, and "Being
part of the wild things that surround me...Not separate.
Part of something bigger." will find Maggie
a powerful story. It ideally will reach a wide audience with
its landscapes of seasonal and relationship transformations.
Return to Index
in the Oak
Penny Walker Veraar
$26.95 Hardcover/$15.95 Paper/$5.99 ebook
Owl in the Oak Tree isn't about owls, trees, or nature. There's a lot
going on in this
story, from a drive-by shooting to a single mother who is trying to
best life for children left behind after the death of their father,
child with the dual diagnoses of Downs Syndrome and autism.
weren't enough to cope with, Reagan
Ramsey witnesses a murder that introduces outside forces and conflict
already-battered family life.
Penny Walker Veraar's effort shines as she crafts a story that moves
of family struggle, special needs, and survivors to a mystery that
bigger issues into Reagan's life and challenges her to choose what is
It's rare to
thriller so thoroughly engrained in family dynamics. Usually, the genre
replete with worldly views and experiences that eschew the sense of
life concerns. In contrast, Owl in the
Oak Tree takes the opposite approach, building intrigue
introducing elements that feel ordinary and mundane, but create a
realistic portrait of daily life. One such example is the opening
schoolteacher Reagan fields a class study:
"Ew, they’re nasty!” said one of the girls, her
pouty mouth drawn
“Disgusting,” her partners agreed.
Reagan stopped in front of the girls and frowned. “Okay, they’re gross, but stick to the discussion items, please.”
She strolled around the classroom, trying to keep the commotion in her science lab to a manageable level. The gurgling of aquarium pumps blended with the murmuring of twenty-four seventh graders, six tables of four, gathered around their workstations to observe milkweed bugs in their habitat."
for developments and action that begin with the microcosm of ordinary
then move into extraordinary circumstances that challenge that world
much to appreciate about the tension development in Owl
in the Oak Tree.
and description brings the logic and reality of this world into direct
with the mystery that draws Reagan and her readers into unusual, murky
of discovery and investigation.
into the intrigue are the realities of parenting a special needs child:
they were laughing at stories, one after another—many about the
found themselves in with Lizzie, a few they told every time they got
Lizzie was happy being the center of attention. “We shouldn’t talk
like this.” Reagan retrieved a pack of wipes from her purse. “She’s
entirely too much and understands more than you think. I don’t want to
reinforce that behavior.”
always be Lizzie's caretaker? Are her children in danger? How will her
and choices either resolve or contribute to the crisis outside that
to settle inside their home?
find much more going on than the designation of 'thriller' indicates.
heart of this story is home life, issues of safety and danger, a
for her needful child and her attempts to build normalcy into a world
by adversity and surprises, and the efforts of an ordinary
navigate the unknown.
looking for powerful stories that defy pat progression or
in the Oak Tree attractive not just to readers of intrigue,
patrons and discussion groups looking for solid stories about family
Return to Index
Classic Day Publishing
Difficulty, The Greater The Glory." - Marcus Cicero
The Price For Glory is a novel so
dedicated. It challenges man’s
proclivity for good and evil and his unavoidable memory of war as
characters share two particular illusions:
"GLORY, that offers a natural proclivity to inspire
and fulfill a
vision for success. And DESTINY, a purveyor of the unknown, the
architect of the past, and an imprecise prognosticator of the
future. Both are phenomena of inconspicuous intellect and
introduction firmly in mind, readers embark on a historical trip that
the First Century AD. Arminius, a warrior leader of disjointed Germanic
destroys three Roman legions in the Battle of Teutoburg Forest to
nation. Amid an early 20th century violent storm, protagonist Abraham
Steinnermann's father declares his only son a prodigy of Arminius. So
Abraham, however, chooses an early life of self-indulged debauchery and
egotistical hedonism. Changed by his survival in a death camp he
religion and accepts the mysticism of Destiny. Humanism replaces
folly. Strangers challenge his convictions but aid his new
process this novel chooses is remarkably detailed and compelling. The
opens with a wide-ranging consideration of the history of war and
which at first portends a piece laden with historical precedent and
This backdrop is necessary in order to absorb, early, on, Abraham's
legends, his parents' efforts to direct his obsessions and insights,
psychological draws and formulas that lead him into adulthood where he
his personal image of this mythical warrior into his own psyche."
of victory produces a persona that embodies both success and an
psychic failure as his absorption of Germanic lore results in a
ego that runs headlong into destiny in unexpected ways.
military, even though he supports his son Jack's choices, which
parent's worst fears. Jack's waged war is on two fronts: his parents,
military psychiatrist who eventually expels Jack's demons. PTSD drives
characters in different ways as the story evolves.
to move through the world and its conflicts from the microcosm of
transformative encounters makes for a story replete in social and
commentary as various characters enter and interact against the
Abraham's life and the war-torn world of the 1940s. The juxtaposition
military and social flux with the movements of disparate characters
follows the shattering of a character that becomes sterile, deaf, and
"spiritually naked and barren."
for the unthinking mind or faint of heart. The value of The
Price for Glory lies not in its entertainment value, but in
philosophical, ethical, spiritual, and moral reflections, which ideally
lend to discourse in a variety of intellectual settings.
a multifaceted story of war, redemption, existential anguish, and
recovery will find The Price for Glory
a study in contrasts and lives. It proves compelling and hard to put
in insights that prompt readers to think about conflict, life purpose,
meaning of the journey between life and death.
Return to Index
Jeffrey Dale Lofton
Post Hill Press
$28.00 Hardcover/$31.95 Audio/$14.95 ebook
life events tend to exhibit a ring of authenticity that strengthens
message. Red Clay Suzie is one
example of this added value, reviewing the circumstances surrounding
coming-of-age of gay Georgia boy Philbet,
from abuse, bullying, and being the odd boy out in too many ways.
might anticipate a story replete with adversity, but the special
Philbet mirrors much of life—he manages to find refuges, solace, and
unexpected places, and these give him the ability to field many of the
situations that come his way.
novels about gay kids depict them in a somewhat predictable
situation in which the gray areas of survival too often take second
of the strengths of Red Clay Suzie lies in its ability to
detail the different kinds of support systems which are embedded in Philbet's life on the fringes of
everyday experience, from
his rural Deep South culture and its pleasures to family pros and cons,
juxtapose love with confusion over how to react to Philbet's
plus is its setting. In the 1960s, mental illness was a stigma to be
disability another family secret; and gay feelings were vastly
and cause for rejection and anguish on all sides.
these facets come to life in a novel that embeds adaptation and courage
ordinary life experiences and observations of its incongruities,
narrator Philbet and his world to life from the start:
"He flashed a big smile and
“Hi. Um…I fixed your pop’s truck, and I’m meeting him here to hand it
“You live just down the road,” I blurted out.
Of course, stupid me just told him I was stalking him. Why would I know he lives down the road? Why would I care? My brother wouldn’t notice a boy. Adam would see a guy on the basketball court and play one-on-one just because another guy was there and never ask his name or really even look him in the face. Only I would sit in a wrecked car in this boy’s backyard to watch him come and go. Only I would wait, skip lunch, or not do my homework just to listen for his car’s engine so I could hurry out to hide myself next to the road to catch a half-second peek into his window to see his hand pull the shifter into second gear as he rocketed off somewhere.
semi-autobiograpical roots of Red Clay
Suzie which pull with such authority; or maybe it's the
expectations which create fears of missteps, exposure, and family
What goes on behind closed doors is often a variant of life perception
experience, and as Philbet navigates the usual and unusual challenges
up, readers move through this world alongside him.
Red Clay Suzie is the novel to point to
when anyone asks what it
was like to come of age gay and different in too many ways in the rural
Its 'you are
atmosphere makes Red Clay Suzie a
recommendation for any library building a collection of fictional
the South, family, culture, or gay outsider children.
Return to Index
A Shadow Melody
Black Rose Writing
$25.95 Hardcover/$20.95 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
attached to their beliefs. They interpret the most random of
through the temple of those beliefs.”
At what point do beliefs
define and create reality? And
what happens when scientific certainty is derailed?
In the 1800s, author Marie Correlli produced A Romance of Two Worlds, a novel steeped in Christian tradition that blended supernatural and scientific evolutionary processes.
Its blend of mysticism and
science comes to mind in A Shadow Melody
as the novel evolves
relationships based on love, achievement, and ghosts.
opens in 1899 Ohio, where young Harry and his father enter an opulent
collect a one-time payment for work provided. A broken miracle
this new age, a telephone, helps young Harry Browning display his knack
problem-solving even as it impresses him with a special form of magical
Harry's special power
follows him into adulthood as he
employs technology with creative problem-solving to produce what seems
When he meets Elizabeth, who
also could have worked in
the science field, but finds "...jobs
in the sciences are hard to find, and women are not at the top of the
list,” a relationship evolves which tests the strengths,
knacks of both.
Brian Kaufman creates an
Ohio-centric story steeped in
the culture and technology of the 1920s. It moves into occult realms as
science applications as the plot tests machines, men and women, and
different ways, creating a multifaceted story designed to attract
a strongly-rooted Midwestern milieu.
As Kaufman explores the
strong personality of a woman as
equally adept at science as Harry, readers enjoy a tale of partnership
foray into the unknown which rests upon two strong characters and the
and professional relationships they forge.
Together, Harry and
Elizabeth will change the universe.
If it doesn't transform them, first.
Filled with scientific and
artistic allusions that spice
a compelling story of a series of radical departures from tradition, A Shadow Melody will appeal to a wide
audience. Libraries will find it an attraction and a welcome addition
Return to Index
So Hard to Do
Creative James Media
978-1956183825 $12.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
So Hard to Do explores a different kind
of love triangle that
revolves around three adults who are interconnected and challenged in
ways—not just by love, but life.
has always been devoted to her child Jannie. Now that Jannie is 29 and
road to career success, Suze can finally relax. Or, can she? As soon as
draws back from her life-long support of her daughter, Jannie flounders
big way. When she accidentally floods her apartment and older neighbor
comes to her rescue, its love at first sight. On her part.
experiences love at first sight. For her mother Suze, who is also
unexpectedly attracted to Aram.
quandary, the puzzles of relationships and secrets, and the process of
discovery whereby Suze and Jannie dance around the same man, each
their feelings about life. During the course of this process, Suze and
entanglements assume disparate twists as Jannie moves in a different
in love, career, and her relationship with her doting mother.
It's truly a
to form a novel around a mother and daughter's changing adult worlds
perceptions of one another, much less add romance into the mix. Sally
evolves these moves with a steady attention to realistic emotional
character growth, and emotional and sexual revelations.
a "boot camp" to rev up her sexuality; but what she really needs is
instruction in independence and goals. When advised, in the arena of
that "you both need to play a part
in the experience," the caution gains broader meaning as Suze
acknowledge the part she plays in not just her daughter's direction and
but her own choices and their consequences.
demystifying life's circumstances will engage readers on both a
thought-provoking and entertainment level as they follow Suze and
navigating adult responses and options.
romance stories steeped in the challenges of loving too much (and too
alike) will find So Hard to Do not
just a different kind of love triangle, but a different growth
will lead patrons to laugh, cry, and ponder. Women's book groups who
for discussion will find many titillating topics within.
Return to Index
New Europe Books
Speaking to No. 4 is a novel of international intrigue that focuses
on a journey
undertaken by a man whose fiancée, Alma, has vanished. In order to find
must interview her exes and probe her past to understand both her
and possible reasons for hiding (or potential perps if she's been taken
to this story is that it is conducted through the voices of Alma's
husbands, starting with No. 1, who is in a bar choosing a beer. His
with a stranger opens an intriguing survey of his relationship with
must know that our lover’s past is like an invisible mountain standing
us and them. You know it’s there, but you can’t give it a shape, you
touch it. And it drives you crazy. Believe me, I know. So you wanted to
mountain. Here it is. Take a good look. Keep in mind that I’m fifteen
older than when I met her."
how they met and the disintegration of their love ("Everything
touching and charming before becomes unbearable after."), No.
to realize that, rather than being the confessor, he is actually being
interviewed about his relationship with Alma because he is first in the
the chatty stranger is trying to unravel.
twist of story and fate lends the novel an immediately touching,
literary voice that portends its plot will be neither mundane nor
reveals Alma's life through the lens of very different players in it
operate in different countries and cultures, readers receive a
interplay between psychological encounters and intrigue that both keeps
guessing and sheds light on the possibilities surrounding Alma's
in each man's life.
wonders and psychological insights permeate the saga, exemplified by
of a mason who constructed an amazing monastery on the foundations of
grief, followed later by the reflection on American women's psyches: "...the
contradiction and the split at the core of the American woman: deep
down she is
the wholesome wife from The Dick Van Dyke Show, but she feels obligated
progressive values she’s been taught in school, and especially by her
the French feminists, to look down upon what constitutes her very core.
the end, the American woman is a knot of tangled guilt and repressed
enjoy blends of satire, psychological inspection, and wry humor—all
a form of intrigue that assumes an unusual world- and ego-hopping
relish the literary devices and insights that pair revelation with
seeking contemporary fiction that excels in both literary presentation
psychological inspection will find Speaking to No. 4
for the fiction reader seeking something different, as well as for book
that like deeper stories of relationships and their social and
"There is nothing
closer to the great scheme of
things than nothingness. I just realized this—just now, as I am writing
words. Don’t we spend our entire lives moving slowly toward nothingness
the while trying to postpone reaching it) as toward our own origin, and
shouldn’t we honor the mystery where we came from by spending as much
possible in the proximity of nothingness? I could spend the rest of my
staring at this wall, and that would be a noble life."
Return to Index
WAVES on the
R. Ann Bush
WAVES on the Potomac is a novel following
the evolution and
experience of serving in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary
Service) during World War II. It opens with Meg Burke's venture into
territory to help serve her country during a time of crisis.
as she moves from civilian to naval officer candidate at a time when
rarely entered upper ranks of military service, readers gain a
history that has received relatively little exploration in fiction.
moves reflect more than olden times. Her actions chart the move from
to military support personnel from a woman's viewpoint, considering the
motivations, interactions between different classes of officers of both
patriotism versus changing women's roles, and specific job descriptions
delve into the daily actions of WAVES:
“My analysis work is a little different from most
of the group’s. I
concentrate on the water transport communications, which are largely
reports and certainly have a more limited vocabulary than the Fleet
start working on a transmission the same way the other analysts do. I
a vertical column and use the current additive to subtract numbers. I
rewrite the numbers horizontally.” She stopped and took a deep breath.
complexity of the additives is sometimes a little much for the radioman
fishing boat or a convoy ship. Occasionally, they forget and just send
message, so when an additive doesn’t seem to be working, I go back and
the message is uncoded.”
the process of code training, indoctrination and training, and changing
and political influences of the times are revealed.
embraces this world with such an attention to daily details that the
impact of this changing world on women's lives is finely tuned. Meg's
confrontations, growth, examinations, and revised duties and
receive central examination, as do her friendships and relationships;
with colleagues or fellow leaders.
history comes a portrait of changing social conditions which lends
to the history of Meg's experience of the WAVES.
thought-provoking story that brings readers into the milieu of World
War II and
the motivations of one young woman to contribute to her country's
including a note of intrigue that challenges Meg to rise above and
training to view the bigger picture around her.
for fictional accounts of WAVES will find much food for thought and
background in WAVES on the Potomac,
bringing history and experience to life.
Return to Index
We Are All
979-8985035322 $17.99 Paper/$8.49 Kindle
We Are All Together is a novel set in the
1960s during the Summer
of Love. It doesn't open with love; but with a violent confrontation
musician and a critical musician in a Topeka, Kansas dive bar in 1963.
Twenty-one-year-old Stephen Crane finds his young life taking a step backward when his band falls apart and he must move back home to live with his Christian mother. Rebelling against the dissolution of his musical ambitions, he decides to go to New York City with his former friend and fellow musician Dylan John, who is spearheading a brand new brand of psychedelic music.
edge of change, however, Dylan then becomes involved in civil rights
handing the baton of potential success to Stephen, who finds that his
ambition and visions do not deliver as expected.
Richard Fulco creates a story that captures the atmosphere, ideals, challenges, and struggles of not just a young man's growth, but a nation under siege from its own youngsters.
these times for modern minds involves a special brand of description
insight that proves enlightening and engrossing even for readers
versed in novels set in the 60s.
allow a deeper "you are here" feel than most accounts of the times: "Janis Joplin attacked Big Mama
Thornton’s “Ball and Chain” as if she had lived every lyric, as if it
only song she knew, as if her life depended on it, as if she sang it
the right amount of soul and gusto that when she died Hades himself
welcome her to the underworld and personally dust off her throne next
When Big Brother and the Holding Company’s mesmerizing, four-song set
ended, every single hippie on the fairgrounds, which must have been
eight thousand, experienced a spiritual awakening."
experiences of the past that challenge Stephen's trajectory and life, We Are All Together's deeper value lies
in capturing a sentiment of uniformity and humanity that is essentially
missing ingredient in modern America.
journey, a reminder, and a historical exploration steeped in musical
as it pairs a coming-of-age story with the coming-of-age of America.
interested in literary works about the 60s will find much food for
discussion here, while libraries looking for representative stories of
and evolving social and political changes will appreciate the
include We Are All Together in
Return to Index
The Wisdom of Winter is a lyrical novel powered by the evocative
reflections on a reunion
(not a beginning) between interconnected worlds. Its first-person usage
a surreal atmosphere from the start, drawing readers into the world and
perceptions of Beatrice and opening with birth: "I surrender
pull, not by hands or forceps, but by the life ahead of me. The family
thrill and disappoint; the rush of love and the crush of rejection; the
I will skip over and the roots I will trip on; the words I will say and
ones I will withhold."
story of life, growth, and the juxtaposition of certainty and
she moves through very different worlds from Vermont to San Francisco
the ebb and flow of tides of life and time to make for passionate,
fictional life revelations that move back and forth through time and
capture the grains and minutiae of experience and evolution will find
appreciate in Seyler's expressive voice.
revelations and experiences connect the macro to the microcosmic worlds
perception and influence, exploring the history, look, feel, and
life: "The pickup engine transitions smoothly. I’ve forgotten
I love driving a stick shift, but soon Route 42, winding, banked, and
unpredictable, demands my focus. I downshift around a bend, then
upshift. Oliver’s truck, my copilot, offers no resistance. It simply
hand, the search for place and experience comes to life. Beatrice's
prove compelling features that bring readers into a series of
encounters: "I am fully present as he holds me, fully engaged
kisses my neck, my ear, and my mouth, but by the time my front door
closed behind him, I am back at the window searching for horses in the
seeking literary novels of growth and the contrasts between ages,
people, and places
will find much to relish in The Wisdom of Winter's
approach to the
world. Ideally, they will also recommend it highly for book clubs
women's literature that promotes growth, healing, and the appreciation
and small events in life's journey.
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Author Solutions Inc.
$29.99 Hardcover/$19.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
is a study of the human condition, which is examined with short
and inspections that represent the most said in the least amount of
Its special brand of social,
political, and psychological
examination embeds philosophical reflection with in-the-moment images
human-centric condition, capturing these minute points in time with a
Proust-like tendency to over-examine, yet revel in the moment.
inspections open powerfully from the start, in
chapters which include such insights as: "The
camera never lingers long apart from people because little that happens
independent of our influence or far from our gaze."
The gaze of
consideration comprises a novel that flits between subjects as diverse
values, teaching, the complicated life and relationship of Hannah and
life of Mark (who is "only inspired
by strangers. The better he knew somebody, the more plain and simple
became"), and friendships between characters whose lives
come and go
like ghosts throughout the story.
linear reading, staid plots and predictable outcomes, and the kinds of
relationships that tend to be banal will find none of these elements in
discourse. There are over a hundred chapters, but each assume a brevity
subject and impression that belays the initial notion that this
will be unduly lengthy or challenging.
study in processes and living life moves between first- and
expression, and between characters whose outcomes and lives move on
conventional and unconventional paths.
Many of these brief
inspections are only a few paragraphs
long, but incorporate much food for thought that requires slow
than the usual fast pace of the typical novel: "When
the author reads through the final proof, he feels horror
from the deeply troubling and inescapable sentiment that all of his
work was a
waste. He disagrees with everything he wrote. Mark feels the same about
While #Ambulancetumblrguy could have been featured in the 'Literature'
category, it would be a shame to limit its audience to college students
Ideally, this story will reach a broad spectrum of readers interested
different lives, cultures, and ideas which intersect, break apart, and
together in new ways.
Impossible to easily define
or categorically pinpoint, #Ambulancetumblrguy's
countenance makes it a thought-provoking, intriguing, candid
life, death, and disappearances alike, couched in a literary overlay of
that will appeal to English majors and general-interest readers alike.
Return to Index
Edward D. Webster
Casa de los Suenos Publishing
$14.95 Paper/$24.95 Hardcover/$6.99 ebook
Nonsensical: A Farce,
Tragic and True excels in the fine art of farce and satire.
characters range from a pair of loony detectives who spend more time
than investigating to a decades-old mother/son preacher team who
and faith, then vanished.
The scene opens in 2001 Nebraska, where Jeff
is called upon to perform yet again for a disquietingly small audience
come to view a glorious (but bogus) story of faith and miracles. From
the start, Edward D. Webster embeds experience with wry humor that is
trademark throughout the entire sordid tale: "Once
he’d felt superior to these people. He thought they’d all
come to worship him. But how many came just to gawk at a freak of
mother was clever or evil. Jeff was superior or even holy, as she’d
or just another charlatan. “It doesn’t matter how we convince them,”
said. “We bring them to the Lord, and He saves them.” He didn’t feel
holy tonight. He felt vile as fresh cow plop."
self-doubt about his so-called abilities plague him, and he, too, hopes
miracle. What he gets is something quite different, surprising even
want to believe he is "the Messiah's chosen," but don't know he's
actually the prime player in his mother's intricate deception.
moves thirteen years back in time to trace the origins of this splendid
and the evolving relationship between mother and son. It moves beyond
and into matters of odd blessings and evidences of faith in everyday
experiences, no matter how small or seemingly adversarial.
convictions carry mother and son into a world of illusion and
Jeff feels himself increasingly at odds with—but the story is about
than a purposeful or misguided sojourn into healing and deception.
resulting scenarios delicately, weaving a story of misguided love with
missing persons cases that involve detectives Stan and Bud in bizarre
circumstances ranging from investigating healers and oddities to
used in clearly-identified chapters that move between Stan and Bud's
perceptions and experiences, linking Bud to Sarah. Contemporary
from fake news references and perceptions to forays into political
ironies. These prove as consistently puzzling as peoples' choices and
to altered life and states of consciousness.
views on Donald Trump: “Donald mocked the
pompous do-gooders. He denounced the godless ones who excused
Homosexuals! Rapists! Illegals! Donald called them out. But Donald was
with the women. I questioned how such a lustful man could achieve
ends. Still, week after week, America’s evangelicals flocked to him. He
election and appointed God’s chosen judges to the High Court. Donald
Israel to annex more and more. The Biblical Land ascending! When Christ
returns, He will behold what Donald
Trump has wrought, and He will smile!”
through farce and satire demonstrates the strengths of all these
devices in a manner that is both hilarious and thought-provoking. Even
romance which evolves is tinged with irony, giving pause for thought as
move through modern America's struggles with a renewed vision of its
wry paradoxes and insincerities.
works of contemporary fiction that capture and demonstrate this sense
incongruity about modern events and beliefs will find American
Nonsensical an excellent tour de
farce that surveys
charlatans, conspiracy theories, and democratic ideals, providing
assessments of all the forces assailing belief systems.
Nonsensical will also attract
discussion groups, serving as an example of how beliefs and perceptions
perpetuated, vetted, or disproven; or as a sterling example of the use
wit in fictional observations of peoples' lives.
Return to Index
A Bridge Not
978-1957807836 $24.95 Hardcover/$31.95 Audio
Bridge Not Too
Far is both a memoir and a celebration of the entrepreneurial
charts the rise of Deepak Ohri from modest means to becoming the CEO of
circle of luxury hotels and restaurants in Asia, an endeavor that
financial success and acclaim as an innovator in this field.
More than a rags-to-riches
tale, however, A Bridge Not Too Far
is the story of a
businessman who created a vision of opportunity and achievement that
both the bigger-picture thinking of the concept of hospitality, and its
incarnation in joining employees and customers as part of a supportive
relationship. This approach to business is what ultimately contributed
success of a vision that embraced both loyalty and understanding the
motivations of the lowest employee in the company.
to make the world sit up and take notice."
How this goal was
envisioned, achieved, and superseded by
other goals more intrinsically tied to relationships and
bridge-building is an
essential focus, here. This guide will appeal uniformly to self-help
business readers, with its real-world examples of adversity,
and creating support systems that work on many levels.
The examination of what
comprises success, achievement,
and the humanistic moves to achieve both will appeal to a wide
of course, business leaders will want to consider A
Bridge Not Too Far for its focus on how wealth and business
success work hand in hand, readers equally interested in
cooperative life ventures will find many lessons applicable to all
From birds-eye views to
bigger picture thinking, A Bridge Not Too Far
tackles the gap
that often exists between ideals and applications, offering, through
examples, strategies that can be applied to all walks of life and a
Libraries looking for
success stories that translate well
to discussion groups will find A Bridge
Not Too Far also highly recommendable to general reading
self-improvement circles, and business discussion meetings as a survey
educational and collaborative process's ability to transform hearts and
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Business Fables Adopted From
Aesop For Humans Who Work
for a Living
Lava Gate Press
978-0-9891216-4-4 $9.99 Paper/$2.99 ebook
Adopted From Aesop For Humans Who Work for a Living is a
spoof on American
corporate culture that adopts a tongue-in-cheek countenance as Erika
explores the world of work in a satirical Aesop-style collection of
includes an indirect critical eye on business profit-centric focuses.
traditionally suspicious of big business interests will find not only
but information here supporting this viewpoint.
Irony and social inspection
come alive from the start: "Originally, kites
singing voices. But one day they heard the horses neighing, became
decided to acquire that same skill with the greatest
speed. The desire to learn
the neighing of horses became known and spread as quickly as a prairie
The kites happened to live in a country inhabited by many creatures of
ingenuity in matters of need recognition and wish fulfillment. Before
count to three a whole neighing industry had sprung up, with neighing
consultants doing a brisk business throughout the land."
Whether analyzing office
outings and assertiveness
training or considering the ineffectiveness of megatrends and a fox who
involved in financing, each story holds a link to the business world
points out its ironies, inconsistencies, and underlying mirth that
downfalls, misperceptions, and business strategies.
The idea is to elicit the
rare laugh from the
business-oriented mentality while adding a touch of thought-provoking
inspection into that reader's mindset that injects doubt and questions
process of modern business operations, pursuits, and methodology.
The result is a rollicking
good read that tempers humor
with real-world inspections and invites all readers to consider the
decision-making and analytical process.
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The Daily Battle to Protect the Environment
Website: Constant Chaos by Author Ron Holcomb | Gorham Printing
CONSTANT CHAOS The
Daily Battle to Protect the Environment
is a collection of true stories gleaned
from Ron Holcomb's decades
with the Washington State Department of Ecology. It traces the job and
to carry out an environmental protection edict that belies the usual
the government worker as a dispassionate pusher of paperwork.
image of the
career public servant thus receives a facelift in a series of
true-life insights documenting the efforts of spill responders to
minimize the impact of environmental disasters.
wide range of
events are described, from marine and river cleanups, hazardous
episodes, and criminal investigations into environmental tragedies to
conspiracies, train wrecks, illegal drug labs, and human folly.
on everything from chemtrails, oil pollution, and safety to the “wild
derelict vessels and the regulatory challenge represented by events
the 431-foot barge Davy Crockett in
River. These diverse stories make for engrossing, eye-opening examinations of the
social, and business dilemmas posed
humans make mistakes, equipment fails and natural disasters occur.
Given such a serious topic, one might believe that CONSTANT CHAOS will assume the dry and overly detailed progression of an analytical piece. Ron Holcomb cultivates a lively sense of discovery and revelation in each of these stories, making them accessible and interesting to readers who may come from far outside the scientific and regulatory world.
The result is a powerful account of the human aspects and involvements of agencies charged with protecting the environment and fostering public safety.
CHAOS is highly
recommended not just for libraries looking for insightful
additions to ecology topics, but for discussion groups that look for
material and reading which provokes deeper thinking about the processes
objectives of, and influences on, environmental protection standards.
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Hours: A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child with Chronic Illnesses from
Janet Malcolm Hayles
Tarheel Shaw Writes
979-8-9865688-0-5 $6.99 ebook/$16.95 paper
Every Three Hours:
A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child
with Chronic Illnesses from Car Seat to Career is about caregiving, survival, and the life of a
mother whose child
was diagnosed with two rare chronic conditions.
anticipate, in such a memoir, the kind of progression that juxtaposes
caregiving requirements with survival tactics—but they won't expect the
of empowerment that comes through Janet Malcolm Hayles's growth process.
the roles of control freak, advocate, and caregiver to fielding
successes, moving forward, and taking big steps that helped mother and
move into life against all odds, Every Three Hours
is a powerful account
steeped in adversity, love, and possibility. It offers hope, insights,
familiar thoughts to fellow caregivers.
books on the market about caregiving spouses, parents, or kids. Every
Hours chronicles the process of becoming engaged in a
child's growth and
the world apart from the caregiver's routines: "I did not
turn into a
bathrobe-wearing, soap-opera-watching slob. I threw myself into
number-crunching for the PTA. I coordinated the summer swim team at
Quivira. I worked with the kids at church to create Christmas pageants,
thirty angels and shepherds onstage. I scrubbed toilets at home and
Bolognese sauce. I made one hundred scones for Tee’s history unit on
England. Every day was different, and every day was tied to my family.
amazing. My brain still got challenged, and I got to flex my
skills. Who started the myth that the stay-at-home mom wears a cute
sips martinis? She puts in sixteen-hour days, yet they are very good
well know the stifling possibilities of directing another's care and
will find this sense of uplifting joy and new possibilities a standout
literature, featuring routes, perceptions, and options available to all
emulate and consider. The result is more than just another caregiver's
but a blueprint for recovery, discovery, and growth that teaches by
"For the first time
in years, our family felt the
vibration of anxiety quietly slow down."
downs of this course, as charted in Every Three Hours,
makes the book
highly recommended for parenting, health, and self-help libraries, and
discussion groups alike.
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A Few Bad Men
Maj. Fred Galvin, USMC (Ret.) with Sal Manna
Post Hill Press
$19.49 Hardcover/$36.95 Audio/$9.99 Kindle
How do you win decisive
battles, but ultimately lose a war?
Until now, pictures of
military engagements and
experiences in Afghanistan have been fairly singular. A
Few Bad Men: The True Story of US Marines Ambushed in Afghanistan and
Betrayed in America expands the portrait of what happened in
(and why) through an exploration of one Marine team's battle not just
opposing Afghanis, but their own government and leaders.
During an ambush in country,
the elite Marine special ops
unit was bombed and shot at. What then transpired was a set-up: they
accused of gunning down innocent civilians in the aftermath, and the
leader (and this book's author) Major Fred Galvin was relieved of duty,
unit evicted from Afghanistan in disgrace.
Coming home, they faced
further condemnation and a Marine
trial in the first Court of Inquiry in fifty years. These reactions
been justified—were they true. Major
Galvin refutes these charges and points out the various ways political
military special interests intersected to set up his team as fall guys.
From changing ROE (Rules of
Engagement) to a vivid story
of leadership, challenging choices, betrayal, and the opportunities of
major players in the event to be either heroes of villains, A Few Bad Men creates a powerful, true
story of adversity and choices. Events are based not just on personal
experience and recollection, but official documents and courtroom
which backed the emerging, amazing true story.
Were it not for these
facets, readers might be tempted to
label A Few Bad Men fiction. It is,
most assuredly, factual and is highly eye-opening and condemning,
narcissism which has infected officer ranks, creating toxic military
with deadly results.
Readers might believe that a
prerequisite to this story is
a thorough knowledge of Afghanistan history and military actions. In
such background is needed. Galvin even opens his story with a long list
military leaders from 2006-2008, a list of acronyms and terms, and a
military rank structures, including service and pay grades, to set the
for those less familiar with the Marines.
While it could be argued
that these lists would ideally
have concluded the story, their appearance at the forefront allows for
review of references which will prove key to understanding the ranks
interactions between individuals throughout the book.
Major Galvin doesn't just
answer the question of why
America lost in Afghanistan, and the coverage involves more than a
military strategy. He pinpoints basic corruption and flawed ideals and
approaches which ultimately led to failure on more than just a
"...it was the words and inactions
of senior military leaders who restrained and hamstrung tactical units,
repeatedly falsely testifying to Congress and the international press
training of the Afghan National Army would lead to an effective exit
The result is a powerful
discussion that recreates
history, reviews politics and the processes by which good men choose
and provides a thoughtful discussion of leadership and failure. A Few Bad Men ideally will earn a place
not just in military history libraries, but throughout military and
discussion groups interested in good and bad choices and the influences
lead not just individuals but nations into bad situations.
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Frozen By Fire
Black Heron Press
covers over a century of American history, following the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 and its
aftermath. In verse. This approach
sets the story apart from any other feature of the events that
of America's greatest tragedies, painting poetic portraits that run
prologue of events to the fire itself, and its lasting impact.
the stage by recounting, in prose, the roots of this poetic discourse.
began when author Donald Kentop, a New York University student
classes in the Brown Building, came to realize that the structure
once known as the Asch Building, and was the site of a tragic fire.
after learning this history, Kentop wrote his first poem, then
accounts by survivors of this ordeal.
More than a
years after the fire, this collection brings history to life in a
account of working conditions and experiences that is tempered by a
attention to preserving the meter and foundations of poetic structure.
Why reproduce this
story in verse, then? Because, in so doing, Frozen By Fire poses a more personal and vivid impact than
the usual account backed by facts, figures, and accompanying dryness.
Kentop's effort personalizes
and produces a history that
can reach easily into a much wider audience than the usual staid
review. The author says it best, himself, in his introduction: "...the restrictions of verse,
paradoxically, liberate characters and events from the prosaics of
and open a way of learning through the heart."
What is best recalled
long-term is that this heart-centered
method of learning in Frozen By Fire
offers a rare opportunity for immersion, adding another notable
the effort—quotes from source material, outlines of characters involved
tragedy at all levels (from owners to survivors and responders), and
that personalize the motivations and actions of all involved:
that “Harris had a quiet/nature, a serious man, tight and
female pleasure, highly. Short/and strict, he knew the factory, dealt
workers./He never smiled, but would stop a girl/and say, I’ll see you after office hours./He
looked forward to meeting nice girls.”/He also had a sneaky habit
rifled through coat pockets in the dressing/room to search for union
History is thus presented in
a truly unique fashion that
does justice to both historical research and facts and to the literary
structure that synthesizes and represents them.
The result is highly
recommended for two types of readers
and library collections: those interested in making history more
lay audiences and who harbor a special interest in working conditions
experiences of the past; and those interested in profiling unusual
devices that intersect the seemingly-disparate worlds of history and
Return to Index
the Electoral College
Tomas J. McIntee
Hurricane Lamp Press
$44.99 hardcover, $19.99 paper, $2.99 ebook
other time in American history is Graduating from the
so necessary. This is because the events of the last five years have
around misunderstandings and disinformation about how the Electoral
works, its purpose, and how and why it has vastly strayed from its
provides a reasoned, timely history of the concept behind the Electoral
and its changes through the decades under various administrations, from
Washington and Jefferson through the Civil War and beyond.
events aren't the only time the Electoral College has been challenged.
1876 accusations of fraud to the transition years of the 1960s and 70s,
surveys major challenges to and influences upon the Electoral College
both refined its operations and intentions and decreased its democratic
history leads up to perhaps the most important discussion in this book
modern times: the historic and calculated balance of power in the
and questions of large and small state representation in the political
say that Graduating
from the Electoral College is key to understanding the
process is an understatement. This is the book that
should be assigned
reading from high school upwards, required background reading for any
voter who wants to enter the modern fray of controversial discussions
than innuendo and vague notions of the College's history, intentions,
relevance to the power struggles that affect this nation.
Graduating from the
Electoral College concludes this
survey with a review of the
College's quirks, detriments, and methods to abolish the flawed system
entirely. The analysis of numerous flaws in the system, from minor to
pinpoints exactly how it has strayed far from the baseline of fairness
is the best
time to fix this? There have been pivot points during this process in
which points to today as being another historically good time to
Electoral College entirely: "The best time to fix the
and replace it with a better system was at the Constitutional
1787. The second-best time was in 1788 after the first presidential
had finished. The third-best time to start rolling out a replacement
was in 1789
when the Bill of Rights was written up. When this book goes into press,
be the 236th best year to move forward with abolishing the Electoral
reasoned and fact-cemented history, its survey of social and political
that have battered and shaped the Electoral College from its birth, and
questions that surround its operations today, it's easy to recommend Graduating
from the Electoral College for not only any library strong in
history and examination, but for discussion groups. A wide audience can
to consider the Electoral College's relevance today, supporting the
that indicates a final graduation is in order.
Return to Index
Gut Driven: Jump-Start Digestive Health to Nourish Body,
Mind, and Spirit
Frankie Mahwah Publishing
979-8-218-05071-9 $7.99 ebook/$17.95 Paper
Jump-Start Digestive Health to Nourish Body, Mind, and Spirit
should be in
any library strong in nutrition and health topics. It covers nutrition
digestion with a special focus on how a three-week plant-based diet can
eliminate inflammatory foods, promoting health.
From common dietary
inadequacies to achieving the kind of
system balance that curbs hunger and reinforces healthy eating, Ellen Postolowski's survey is more than
another diet plan. It's an approach to lifestyle changes and
foods that one's body responds to in the healthiest way.
foods cause reactions by eliminating and then re-introducing them to
understanding classic body signals of dysfunction such as acid reflux
chronic fatigue, Postolowski identifies many common ailments that
not ordinarily link to gut health and food choices.
This approach sets Gut
Driven apart from
nutrition or diet discussions, teaching how to better understand gut
that something is wrong, and how to interpret the signals that indicate
changes are on the right track.
Recipes add further value to
Gut Driven by presenting selected
dishes that are a cut above most
traditional foods. One example is Mexican Baked Potatoes which sport
bell pepper, refried beans, and salsa, encouraging going beyond the
russet potato to explore purple yams and other healthy alternatives.
The resulting lesson in
listening to one's gut reactions
is highly recommended for health and self-help libraries strong in
take a bigger step into the arena of self-care through recommendations
encourage readers to identify their own unique dietary needs.
Return to Index
I Rode the Second
Wave: A Feminist Memoir combines
a memoir with poetry to reach a
wider audience than either genre could offer.
wave" of feminism was that which evolved in the 1960s and 70s,
on equal pay and career opportunities for women. Fran Abrams was a
freshman posed to enter the job market at the time, placing her in the
of new events, decisions, and changes.
age in a society that believed women's ultimate goals should be as
mothers, and homemakers thus took place during a sea change in women's
perceptions of their capabilities and purposes, reflected here in her
book stand out from others on the subject is not just its combined
memoir format, but its unique perspective at a point in history which
the 1950s and evolved past social norms into career and motherhood.
trajectory thus reflects and documents the feel of these times. It
an introductory "Dear Reader" poem which sets the stage for future
generations by explaining that "before women revolted," ads for jobs
were separated by gender; women's roles dictated that only certain
appropriate and available; and that it wasn't until 1974 that a woman
credit in her own name.
losing virginity and illusions to loneliness in the workplace, where
found herself the only woman programmer on one job, and was on track
career she pursued against all odds.
The presentation of these events in free verse assures a personal feel of experience that prose could not have achieved. It also provides a deep connection between social inspection, memoir, and literary form that holds the promise to reach a wider audience than any of these singular genres could do.
seeking works of women's literature and history that also look for the
value of writings that easily speak to the general public will find
recommend to a wide range of patrons in I Rode the Second Wave.
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"The Mighty Red Knights!"
Dr. Paul Fuller
Red Knights!": An Intriguing Story of Morristown College (1881-1988) follows
the evolution of an African American junior college from its initial
educate former slaves from East Tennessee rural routes to its closure
During that time, Morristown
changed thousands of lives,
producing students that gained an education despite prejudice and
who went on to make a difference in the world through their education
The athletic department's
"Red Knights," in
particular, over-performed in relation to the meager funding they
nickname referred to the fighting spirit of the team and also reflected
unique qualities of the school's student body, leaders, and
actual Knight mascot was black, leading to the insight here that "This was an indication that blackness
was embraced as a positive characteristic to be proud of rather than a
curse to be scorned."
Indeed, the history of this
school is one of overcoming
America's racism and repression, and it reflects the mirror of black
followed a move from slavery to a purposeful, effective, educated life
parts of students and faculty alike.
In particular, the school's
founder, Dr. Judson S. Hill,
faced an uphill battle in his mission to create opportunities for the
community at a time when public funding was minimal and attitudes
Were it not for his religious faith and conviction that what he was
and doing was not only right, but essential, his mandate for African
achievement might never have come to fruition.
Any library strong in
African American history must have "The
Mighty Red Knights!" in
its collection. Its profiles of the individuals, attitudes, and
overcome much to provide young blacks with unprecedented opportunities
a cornerstone of educational history and social change, describing a
that succeeded against all odds.
Return to Index
RLD Publications, LLC
ASIN: B0BGZ7RQM3 $8.99 Kindle
"Sokwa had a way of
pulling people back. But
maybe it was where they need to be."
Happiness revolves around Yejin
(a devout Christian who cares for her mother and younger sister) and
encounter with Seoyoung, a high school classmate who has heavy
at home. The opening story takes place seventeen years after the
their classmate Kang Jiwoo,
long after Yejin has forgotten about most of her classmates after
permeates her life, down to the everyday choices that introduce
trials into her world: "There was a
certain amount of stoicism built into her genes, and she could do all
through Christ, nevertheless, Yejin felt herself sigh
before turning to help."
attention to profiling this thread of faith provides consistency,
strength to the story of a young woman that traverses Korean culture.
widening understand are perspectives that alternate (in clearly
chapter headings) between Yejin and Seoyoung.
adept as the
author is at exploring the emotional states of these young women,
also provided to capturing the culture, atmosphere, and quandaries of
daily life, right down to the stark school setting which leads Seoyoung
wonder why some degree of attention isn't given to improving the high
environment: "There was a line of trees that separated the
a row of old houses, with the convenience store shoved in among them. A
through the trees had been made by students cutting across the
the mornings and when school let out. It was dirty. Ugly. Why couldn't
a sidewalk there for the students?"
details add to the emotional and spiritual spin of two girls who move
their high school years in very different ways, but adopt similar
that bring them together almost two decades later.
heal these lives?
spiritual inspection into social description and psychological growth,
experiences of these two girls join with Korean cultural insights to
absorbing lessons in faith, caregiving, perseverance, and
feelings about growing up and into seemingly dead-end lives in bleak
creates a story that excels in descriptions of coming full circle back
belief and circumstances that define life's meaning within events that
"Sokwa had a way of
pulling people back. But
maybe it was where they need to be."
looking for vivid works with a Korean backdrop and Christian insights
welcome the close inspection of faith and fortune that creates a
series of realizations in Waiting for Happiness.
Return to Index
Guide to Becoming a Woman in Total Consciousness Healing
Siobhan Claire Books
979-8-9863943-0-5 $9.99 ebook/$15.95 Paper
Guide to Becoming a Woman in Total
Consciousness Healing is a
spiritual guide to building self-confidence and faith that uses the
own journey as a starting point for discussion.
range from accepting the pros and cons of the evolutionary process and
changes that accompany growth to cultivating "witchy acts;" creating
support systems ("covens"); and accepting the possibilities,
influences, and messages of spirit guides who inject psychic clarity
bigger picture of growth.
either an open mind or a prior affinity for new age consciousness and
possibilities. Readers who cultivate such an awareness will find W.I.T.C.H.
a repository of guidelines for achieving greater clarity and accepting
intuition and the notion of reaching the spirit world through automatic
writing, meditation, and other means.
is specific about her own revelations and awakening process in various
including sexuality: "As my programming around “the right
dissolved, I was also healing my expectations around who I had to be in
partnership and sexual encounters—someone smaller, daintier, and
was the beginning of my conscious sexual expansion."
self-help, and alternative health women who would receive a specific
refining and fine-tuning their connections with self and the spirit
find W.I.T.C.H. replete with sage advice that
teachings with psychological discovery.
patron interest in such books will find W.I.T.C.H.
stands out from most,
with its encouraging specific examples and routines for connecting to
innate psychic abilities and one's true self.
autobiography, spiritual reflection, and psychic instructions creates
right potion for readers to follow in Claire's footsteps.
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Ameya's Two Worlds
Aditi Wardhan Singh
Raising World Children LLC
$18.99 Hardcover/$10.99 Paper/$1.99 ebook
Ameya's Two Worlds presents young picture
book readers with a
lively story of self-acceptance. It opens with young Ameya's worries
relatives in India won't understand her English language. Her family is
visiting India for the first time to attend a family wedding.
doesn't need to speak Hindi or Marathi at all, and that the bustle
wedding preparations feels both familiar and welcoming.
presented and explained in asterisk notes as the story captures Ameya's
explorations of India's different culture and its attractions. As she
her mother bargaining for lower prices at the local market, and
peers, Ameya is introduced to new ideas about her mixed heritage and
might mean: "Was speaking in an
Indian language what made a person Indian?"
does a fine job of not just contrasting cultural differences, but
young girl's thoughts about her place in the world.
Alshalabi expands the story's themes into thought-provoking visuals.
is a vivid scene of a looking glass in which the American and Indian
of Ameya sporting a new bindi on her forehead pinpoint the different,
confusing ideas she has about her choices.
powerful, thought-provoking picture books about mixed cultural roots
child's embrace of both will find Ameya's
Two Worlds works well on several levels: as a story of
as an exploration of Indian culture. Its ability to encourage
peers and adults on the nature of cultural identity when it comes in a
bag offers rare opportunities for enlightenment.
Return to Index
An Instrument for Florenda is a chapter
book for children who enjoy
stories about music and discovery. It tells of Florenda, who has long
music and has always wanted to play an instrument. Now she is finally
enough, and the school will have a band class.
listening to music in her home, and the clarinet particularly calls to
But, what instrument will she be assigned to play—and what if she can't
friendships, a summer before the new semester opens with all of its
promises, and the unexpected rewards that come with hard work and
dream, readers receive a joyful, uplifting story that follows Florenda
Florenda through the experience of band class, new learning
obstacles and successes, and musical notes of achievement. They will
about the challenges and delight of a young girl's evolution as
transports them into musical revelations with notes of delight and
delightful music-celebratory offering that will prove of interest to
leisure reader with an affinity for music, as well as adults interested
teaching chapter book readers about the promise and experience of
new instrument and playing in a band.
Return to Index
At the Museum
Lee Press/Young Dragons Press
Picture book readers
interested in stories about museum
discoveries will find At the Museum
fine blend of fictional drama and nonfiction facts about museums.
Like many kids, Ryan is
typical, in that he considers
history dull and would much rather view videos than take a field trip
museum. "Why do we have to spend
Saturday at some dumb museum?" he asks his father, who wants
to take a break from technology to do something different.
Ryan's reluctance ends when
history literally comes to
life, introducing him to ancient Greece, a flying Pegasus, Medusa,
horses, and more. An ancient vase opens the process, refuting Ryan's
reaction to this world with a wink of promise and a mystery that Ryan
illustrations by the author, sound
effects that read-aloud adults will enjoy embellishing, and Ryan's avid
participation in a historic event refutes any notion of boredom,
readers into a fantasy/history blend that is original and delightful.
Adults who seek to bring
history alive for the very young
will find At the Museum an engaging
tale that opens the door for a new appreciation of the real meaning of
and the adventures and insights it can reveal.
A concluding author's note
about the artifacts Ryan
encounters in the museum invites kids to not just appreciate the idea
museum as a representation of living history, but to look forward to
visits with a different eye to understanding history's allure.
Return to Index
and Other Stories
Drifting Boat Media LLC
979-8-9865021-0-6 $12.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
The Bell Tower Ghosts and Other Stories
provides middle grade to
teen readers with a compelling set of diverse ghostly scenarios that
the diversity and complexity of hauntings and spirits. It's a leisure
choice that offers added value for the uniformity of its central
which keep falling into ghostly situations.
skeletons and floating mansions to bell towers, twins Jack and Sylvia
have a proclivity for encountering the supernatural. Their propensity
discovery and trouble creates a gripping set of tales that delights in
a "...sense of adventure. Now it was too
late to turn back."
their courage, willingness to broaden their perceptions to question
outcomes, and the ability to think outside the box. Young readers will
the disparate situations that challenge these characters to rise above
belief systems and abilities to confront both the unknown and new
creates atmospheres that support these events and encounters, but the
nature of these stories lies in the dire situations and hard choices
must make to rise above their own needs and even their lives to help
around them against all odds:
“Jack, we have to help him,” Sylvia shouted.
“It will be dangerous, Syl. We could die. But hang on while I row.”
encounter brings with it the opportunity for not just better
new revelations, but a form of growth that would not have been possible
not for adversity and shocking surprises.
told by ghosts and the kernel of truth behind their impossible
origins to revised definitions of bravery and the impact of personal
injects added notes of surprise and revelation into the action that
encourage young readers to think beyond the usual ghostly encounter.
added value with action-packed ghost stories that encourages young
think about mysteries, dreams, and proactive behavior will find The Bell Tower Ghosts and Other Stories
juxtaposes the overlay of rich ghostly encounter with an undercurrent
messages. These attributes makes it the perfect choice for discussion
and leisure readers alike.
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The Blood of
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
978-1-5092-4648-9 $19.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
book in the
YA fantasy series The Allison Lee Chronicles, Dragons
Walk Among Us, sets the stage for adventure by portraying a
budding high school photojournalist who experiences bullying so savage
is blinded. An experimental procedure restores her sight, but comes
heavy price: she can now see dragons in the world. Their invisibility
proves a power she never wanted, and struggles to control.
continues in The Blood of Faeries,
which takes the next step into fantasy by following her down the rabbit
personal empowerment and deeper into a world transformed by her
Allison's struggle with the reappearance of her mother in her life:
"My bedroom of the last seventeen years should be a
but instead, I’m a stranger. I have my mother to thank for this liminal
feeling. After abandoning me at birth, she’s back and doing her
ruin my life. You’d think she’d take her time putting her stamp on the
household, having just rejoined the family. But that’s not her style.
is a juggernaut. As if it’s not enough I’m a monster because of her..."
What do you
your life after you've saved humanity as a teenager? How do you handle
global celebrity who always stands out from the crowd and never blends
Young Allison's future lies before her—but it's tainted by a past she
escape from, the heritage of being both half-skaag (shapeshifter), and
prosthetic eyes that lend her a different form of vision. Both come to
in unexpected ways, yet both plague her life and hinder her desire to
with the side effects of drugs and magic and embarks on a new
herself endangered by others who perceive her as a "monster girl" and
want to study and dissect her. When she then loses the peculiar
has constantly struggled against, Allison must draw on new abilities to
confront her oppressors in a different way.
has crafted a YA fantasy that goes beyond the usual adventure story to
into the roots of growth, prejudice, adversity, and the process of
involved with faeries.
It should be
that there are torture scenes during this process. While they aren't
graphic, there is enough innuendo and description to prove daunting to
aside, The Blood of Faeries
powerful study in threats, struggles, and friendship where Allison
meaning of close relationships and embracing her biggest fears about
completely human by choosing an unexpected new direction.
enjoy fantasy adventure and rapid action tempered by thought-provoking
will find The Blood of Faeries a
powerful study. It unfolds all kinds of changing relationships that
Allison to walk into new possibilities and her own inherent identity.
gripping mercurial scenarios will keep YA readers thoroughly immersed
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Red Skye Press
978-0990710295 $10.95 paper/$5.99 ebook
Diego the Smelly Dog is a picture book
story recommended for kids
who like dogs. It tells of Ava, who is out walking with her grandfather
big dog follows them home.
that her mother's rule is 'no dogs' because they are too expensive to
Diego goes to the shelter, where he awaits adoption and a new family.
gives up on
him, however, and mourns the lack of interest others have in adopting
dog like Diego.
by Alona Baulina accompany a story that kids will relish. It's not just
girl's desire for a pet, but about an older animal that tends to be
adoption eyes of families looking for youthful pets.
Diego the Smelly Dog comes with lessons
in kindness, surprises, and
youth and old age. These elements will delight read-aloud adults
opportunities to discuss them with the young.
young patron interest in dog stories will also find Diego
the Smelly Dog an attraction.
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James & Richard Eldridge
Islanders: The Pacific Chronicles is a
fantasy story that explores the changing lives of eleven-year-old
her older brother Kaimana, who are granted access to an unusual world
under their familiar Hawaiian home. With this gift comes recognition of
extraordinary magical abilities which connect them to the world in ways
surface, Islanders: The Pacific Chronicles
children's fantasy adventure. Look deeper to discover that it's also a
ecology and life connections which closely examines all kinds of
human and animal alike.
occupy this milieu. Encounters between magic and high technology
unfamiliar and the amazing facets of each.
navigate this different scenario and adventurers both human and animal
through it on different missions, they will absorb the contrast between
perceptions, experiences, and concepts of shifting places in life as
a classic good-against-evil struggle.
A touch of
philosophical inspection provides further added value as the characters
themselves and each another: "He's
got a strong mind and even stronger spirit. Everything he does is for a
purpose, although much of it is left to be discovered."
thought-provoking, multi-faceted fantasy adventure for advanced
readers and up. It raises important questions about talents, life
and goals, the interconnectedness of different natural systems, and the
of them all. It should be noted that, as the first in a series, the
concludes with the rise of changes that promise further adventures.
author this creation grew up on the Big Island, adding atmosphere
colorful illustrations and authoritative, inviting descriptions based
containing discussion points about bigger-picture ecological and
thinking, as well as revised definitions of good and evil, will find Islanders: The Pacific Chronicles an
excellent choice that comes steeped in Hawaiian culture, mythology, and
Return to Index
ages 3-9 will find Lilah Loves Life
an uplifting survey of a young girl's day and its many high points.
alive, celebrating the moment and the pleasures each day brings in a
rhyme that captures her desire to be a chef someday, her interest in
people happy, and her active imagination that leads her to take
pleasure in everything she sees and does.
simple, evocative drawings follow Lilah through her imaginative and
encounters as she experiences a great morning, thinks about the many
opportunities for fun the rest of her day, and makes choices that belay
notion of sadness for its closure.
this story for read-aloud pleasure will find its many lessons in
embed familiar children's experiences and days with an overlay of
and proactive thinking that leads Lilah to be an active participant in
a good life.
ages would do well to absorb, and is presented in an active,
that will enchant a wide audience of young and old alike.
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Magoo and His Magic
Poo is the delightful picture
book story of a cat that sports magically
stinky poo and a taste for adventure and helping others. Even dogs.
upon caged dogs whose purpose seems to be to "make more of us," and
decides to affect a breakout and rescue. How can he help? Through his
powers, of course!
illustrations by Michael Harring accompany a fun story of confronting a
rage-filled human with the only weapon at hand (or, should it be said,
behind?). Success comes paw in paw with failure as Magoo confronts the
obstacles surrounding his special form of magic.
of poo will grab the attention of readers young and old, while they
simultaneously receive a rollicking, fun story about a very
efforts to help others.
say that Magoo
and His Magic Poo is unexpected would be an understatement.
The story is
freshly unique and original from beginning to end, offering valuable
points on not just bodily functions, but humane animal treatment,
choose Magoo and His Magic Poo for an enlightening
read will find its
opportunities for laughter, entertainment value, and surprising life
to be simply delightful, making the book highly recommended as a
any home or school library collection.
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Soso and the Kako Leaf
The Good Work Company
978-1-8382216-0-7 $9.99 Kindle
Picture book readers and
read-aloud adults interested in
stories about Nigerian traditions and self-esteem will find Soso and the Kako Leaf a lovely choice
exploring both topics in a compelling manner.
Awele Emili's illustrations
pepper the story of a young
girl's 9th birthday and a strange mound that leads her into other
There is a lot going on in
this story, which makes it
particularly suitable for adult interactive discussions with the young.
Soso struggles with hiding a
birthmark that keeps
growing, she finds her coveted birthday plan is taking place on the day
brother's big sports event, and she follows a trail of gleaming plants
leads her on an unexpected journey of discovery. This journey leads to
encounters which profile the culture and history of her people, adding
educational value that moves beyond the entertainment component while
a vivid story that involves young people in an adventure.
Adults who choose Soso
and the Kako Leaf will find much value in this tale, from its
colorful illustrations to the tough journey Soso faces as she steps
different world and role and learns about her abilities and choices.
The picture book format is
longer than most, offering
several nights of reading pleasure and interactive discussion
all ages absorb Soso's lessons about the world and herself.
Libraries looking for
multicultural fiction that embraces
new ideas and different cultures will find Soso
and the Kako Leaf a standout.
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Tyler's Purple Arm
$2.99 Kindle, $9.99 Paperback, $15.99 Hardcover
Website: Buy the Book | Tyler's Purple Arm (amandadonahue.net)
In a school full of diverse
children, Tyler stands out as
the most exceptional of all. He was born with two arms—but one is
explores all kinds of reactions Tyler receives due to his purple
is deemed to be a 'birthmark' that contributes to his individuality
a mark of shame.
A lesson in accepting
physical differences is imparted
through a lively rhyme in a picture book that advises kids that "Birthmarks aren’t bad,/they’re not
gross or contagious./If you see one, don’t stare—/just ask! Be
While this idea may contrast
with some adult admonitions
that it is rude to ask questions about appearances, Amanda Donahue's
more about encouraging thoughtful understanding than rejecting others
of their differences or oddities.
Tyler experiences cruelty as
his new classmates focus on
his different arm, and fail to see other attributes: "They
stared and they pointed./They laughed at his arm./They did
NOT see his smile/or notice his charm."
The positive notes that
follow Tyler's exceptional
countenance and the reactions of his classmates explore the feelings of
bullies, the experience of being teased, and Tyler's reactions to the
and his own body.
Instead of drawing back,
Tyler embraces his differences
and strives to teach lessons about other facets of his personality
"big grin" that invites friendship.
The result is an important
picture book exploration of
differences, positivity, teasing or bullying, and reactions on all
Ideally, Tyler's Purple Arm will
prove a lesson adults can use to help kids react to others' differences
as show those who are different how they can turn negative reactions,
prejudice, and fear into friendships.
It's highly recommended for
its many opportunities to
engage picture book readers about better ways of handling life and
communicating. Positive attitudes can make all the difference in life,
important message deserves widespread engagement through Tyler's
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Viila and the Doomsday Affair offers a
powered by an unusual cast of characters who are charged not only with
impossible mission, but a series of supernatural and philosophical
also attract other denizens who would reach the Hidden Room in the
for their own nefarious purposes.
clueless son, a lovely vampire, a sex-obsessed teraphim, Barnabas the
cat Queen Pharaoh, and Jasper the belly crawler at first seem to have
common other than their new task. Turns out they each harbor strengths
perspectives that join them in more ways than in achieving this
events also embraces a strange blend of sexual encounters and erotic
the opening lines of the story, which portend the sense of pleasure and
that will link not just disparate characters, but the audience that
chooses Viila and the Doomsday Affair:
"Rabbi Benjamin was having a mild
sexual fantasy caused by his evening’s dinner. He sat at his dinner
eyeing the two lovely, rounded dumplings that his wife, with all the
innocence of women, has put in front of him. He thinks she thinks that
dumpling is just a dumpling. After a moment, he thanked his God for the
wonder of women."
who choose this book will find religious stories turned upside down in
manner that could offend those deeply religious, but will delight those
acknowledge possible inconsistencies in Biblical history and those who
At the heart
foray into ironic adventure is the lovely and centuries-old vampire
is on the prowl for a "good, good man." She's been searching for
centuries and her latest incarnation seems to be moving her no closer
goal: "This was something she had
been doing since almost the very beginning of this eternity. She has
and has had many careers. Lately, she considered herself a street
satisfied her two most basic needs: suicide and survival."
faces the possibilities and impossibilities of their lives and quests
individually and as a group, readers are brought into a milieu which is
with sexual discovery, ironic twists, fun encounters, and the spicy
of those who face a "long infinity."
into the impossible assumes the countenance of an adventure, the ironic
inspection of men, women, and creatures who never quite achieve their
desires, and the element of surprise that keeps the novel's
twists completely unpredictable and zany.
a walk on the wilder side of fantasy and sex amongst demons and men
will find Viila and the Doomsday Affair
story hard to define and attractive to readers seeking something
different and hard to put down.
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Steel Toe Books
ISBN: TBA $19.99
title that attracts attention, We Arrive
Uninvited provides readers with the gripping story of a
coming-of-age, a dubious gift, and generational mysteries.
when she lost her mother to madness. Five years later, teetering on the
edge of confusion, Emerson is motivated to investigate the history of
her family and the mental health challenges which seem to plague them.
madness—or was it always magic?
As she deals
panic, new revelations, different kinds of friendships and their
and truths that rock her perception of the world and her place in it,
tests her abilities and bets her life on the results.
stand-in Grandma Grodzki and increasingly immersed in the world of
Jake, Amelia recounts her own strange journey, sifting through legends
truth: "Start studying the stories
your mother told you. She was preparing you. Look up the Bona Dea. Dive
many stories as you can from all over the world. Not the popular ones;
that are buried or that are ridiculed or called outlandish—that’s where
reconcile the legacy of women in her family?
Emerson and Amelia on this wild ride will find We
Arrive Uninvited a solid blend of fantasy, romance,
psychological inspection, and evolving relationships that pulls from
beginning and doesn't let go until story's end.
tale spun on the wishes, dreams, and revised visions of a girl who
her own abilities while facing a family history of madness. Her
voice lends authority and insights to Emerson's first-person journey to
a compelling read highly recommended not just for young adults, but
adult reader interested in a very different kind of coming-of-age story:
"This story lived in my womb, and it wouldn’t allow me to stay small—not in a world that was itself insane. When I had trouble reconciling theories I was learning at school with the insights I often felt, Grandma would arrive in dreams to remind me to trust. My mother would offer reassurances and story. Grandma Grodzki, wrapped in a quilt that went on forever, would remind me how to trust my instinct and look to nature. Their voices were a chorus—not madness but momentum."We Arrive Uninvited
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Kim Delmar Cory
9781662927966 $11.99 paper/$6.99 ebook
Young adult readers
who enjoy historical backdrops will appreciate the approach of What About Lilly?, a novel set in
the 1950s. It follows teen siblings to their uncle's farm for the
cultures are thrown together as their uncle invites a pair of Amish
and a seven-year-old Korean-American orphan with polio to join them.
of the Korean War (which is fading but still within recent memory),
disparate personalities and simmering prejudices evolve as the uncle
thrown them all together leaves town for work, and a resentful aunt
bail on them all.
swirls around Will's feeling of responsibility for his father's death,
reality it's about so much more, opening with a recap of his father's
death in the prologue and then moving to Will's injury and Aunt Alice's
to keep those outside the family from discovering the truth—that six
are living on their own while awaiting the uncle's return—consumes a
energy, as does his self-flagellation for his father's demise...so much
that there's barely enough left to field nosy questions or hold their
kids don’t belong here!” the man
growled. “They ain’t American!”
has created, in a nutshell, the compelling story of a group of
children who must draw together to combat prejudice both internal and
preserving a place of safety against all odds.
bringing the atmosphere of 1950s America to life—especially its daily
encounters and challenges which have influenced Will's perceptions and
"They’d talk about
sports. The neighbor knew
exactly what his favorite football team’s quarterback needed to do in
win. They’d discuss politics. Or, in reality, the neighbor asserted his
political stance while Will’s dad watered the lawn in tight-lipped
neighbor vociferously touted Senator Joseph McCarthy, a United States
from Wisconsin, as an American hero for exposing ‘Reds’, or communists
the United States. According to the neighbor, Joseph McCarthy was
herd’ by targeting communists within American society so the everyday
would be safe and our country saved from the ‘Red Menace’."
these contrast nicely with Will's own blossoming ideas and
as children knit together against a world coming apart around them.
into unexpected talents and finds ways to cope with his father's memory
own choices, young adults receive a moving, soaring story of light and
which both pulls at the heart and educates about new possibilities and
violin allowed him to soar beyond the everyday, the sun and pain.
to revisit himself as a musician, his violin as a part of him. This
instrument—unlike anything he could have imagined playing. This violin
father had gifted to him."
to dovetail broader social inspection and bigger-picture thinking with
macrocosm of personal adversity and conflicts which arise at home in
aftermath of the Korean War makes for a thoroughly engrossing read.
looking for memorable stories will find it weaves history so
the plot that it becomes a part of personal revelations and growth,
About Lilly? a thought-provoking read on many different
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& Animals A-Z
Joachim Christgau & Alex Whitman
Wiilder Adventures & Animals A-Z
is a picture book adventure
that follows Join Hubi, Luna and the WiiLDER pals into a "surfari"
exploring ocean animals of the world.
with a world
map and the awesome animals spotted on this journey, from eagles and
rattlesnakes to lobsters, octopus, and kangaroos.
features one creature per letter, pairing sidebars of facts with rhymes
colorful illustrations that invite youngsters to learn in the course of
Some of the
illustrations that accompany these contain their own humor, as in the
'F', where a young surfer finds himself confronted by a plethora of
fish. Others explore the wonder of undersea life, such as the luminous
jellyfish observed by Italian children.
Many of the sidebars
include bigger-picture thinking. The jellyfish note, for example, adds:
have been drifting around Earth’s oceans for 600 million years. Have
ended up somewhere fantastic without searching for it?"
The result is a picture book
that operates on several
different levels: as an adventure story of discovery, an A-Z primer,
and as a
natural history of world wonders.
Libraries and read-aloud parents looking for inviting, colorful explorations that impart a sense of discovery along with educational opportunities galore will find Wiilder Adventures & Animals A-Z a wonderful selection sporting a fun-friendly format the whole family can enjoy.Wiilder Adventures & Animals A-Z
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