July 2021 Review Issue
Fantasy & Sci Fi
Cora: Rise of the Fallen Goddess
9781953919045 $14.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Rise of the
Fallen Goddess will appeal to
fantasy readers interested in Greek legends, and is set in Greece in
fourteenth century B.C. It tells of Cora (also known as the goddess
Persephone), who is sent away by her protective mother to Azure Blue,
be raised by the nymph Nephrea, safe from any dark prophecy about her
Azure Blue is a beautiful place of unicorns
and crystal palaces; the perfect place for a young vulnerable goddess
This is where Cora learns the Amazon credo
of being strong and righteous, and where she interacts with Azure girls
develops a hatred for her imprisonment in a beautiful world. When she
beyond its boundaries and is ravished by an unknown force, Cora keeps
major secret from queen Nephrea, who has changed after a fateful sword
Her journey into adulthood leads Cora to
become the wife of Hades, Lord of the Underworld, despite her
nature. Nephrea (Queen Nephratee of Napea) is captured by him, with
accomplice in her fate.
Cora's mother, the witch Demeter, wants her daughter back.
But Cora has strayed far from Nephrea's
teachings and her mother's protections, so Demeter threatens to destroy
world. Nephrea dreams of Amazons ruling the world with their moral
never thought that the youngster she's come to love could threaten that
A.L. Hawke creates a memorable character in
the feisty and challenged Cora. At once a favored goddess and a fallen
character who both defies and bows to her oppressor, Cora faces moral
ethical conundrums as she questions her loyalty and allegiance to light
dark forces alike.
One satisfying feature of this story lies in
a protagonist who is both powerful and vulnerable at the same time. The
Stockholm Syndrome is alive and well in her tangled relationship with
and her loves and resentments are often twisted in confusion as she is
in very different directions by forces beyond her ability to detect or
Graphic, sexual scenes are part of this evolving tale.
Readers who enjoy coming of age stories,
fantasy rooted in Greek mythology and history, and the well-rounded
of a flawed but spirited character who struggles between controlling
control of her own destiny will find Cora: Rise of the Fallen
compelling saga that presumes no prior knowledge of Greek myth or
creates a vivid, memorable story about destiny, parenting, and love.
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Courting the Dragon
979-8700375689 $10.50 Paperback; $4.99 ebook
Princess Penelope's father confronts her
with an ultimatum when she returns home for the summer from the Academy
Mages in Courting the Dragon—choose a suitor, or
quit school and stay
The problem isn't that Penelope doesn't want
to find love. It's that she already has it...in the form
Dragon-Wizard Salarath, who is not considered an appropriate match for
princess of her standing. And Salarath is not as firmly committed to
her as she
would like, either...at least, not enough to defy convention.
Penelope thus has her hands full between her
father's odd ultimatum and her chosen one's reticence, trying to evade
father's suggestions, and trying to convince her suitor that he should
stand for her hand.
The last thing she needed was more secrets
challenging her choices and course in life. But as she falls into a
revelations, Penelope faces magical mishaps and a threat to her brother
As Penelope and Salarath come to realize
they are in the center of a maelstrom of legal and political strife,
finds herself the focal point in a struggle for the throne.
What at first appears to be a romance story
delves into mystery and political process alike, building a tale based
upon intrigue as a young woman's struggle for independence and choice.
The changing perspectives between Penelope,
Eric, and others keep this story moving through different angles and in
ways as some friendships turn into something more while others fall by
Sara Cleveland weaves sword and sorcery
fantasy into the romance mystery in a way that brings Penelope's
kingdom's people, and a host of special interests to life.
Fast-paced action swirls around Penelope and
Salarath, handmaiden Tiffany, friend Eric, and others who become caught
web of intrigue, kidnapping, and threats that surround Penelope.
Fantasy readers who enjoy strong
interpersonal inspections will find Courting the Dragon
especially strong in its exploration of romance and enchantment.
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Exertions of Better Men
Ashley B. Venenga
Amber Dragonfly LLC
9798713976613 $6.14 ebook; $12.99 Paperback
Time travel and dystopian sci-fi readers
will find Exertions of Better Men combines both in
thriller-style adventure revolving around Nicholas Smith, whose suicide
in 2009 leads to a new life in the war-torn 31st century.
Nicholas is tired of life and missing Amy
when the story opens with his jump from a Colorado waterfall. Fast
where he unexpectedly awakens in a cell, under arrest for witchcraft.
Isn't he supposed to be dead? Or, is this an
As his nightmares reignite the circumstances
and horror of Amy's loss but bring him continually back to
Nicholas finds that he has been observed ascending from the Holy Falls,
accused of being in league with the Evil One.
His observations of and connections to this
new time come alive as he interacts with its culture and peoples, and
advised to join the Righteous Army and become one of its noble warriors.
Nicholas's experiences cause him to wonder
about not just his current situation, but events of the past: "If
were any word he could think of that described the people whom he had
encountered the least, it would be righteous. Nicholas had never
such evil existed in the hearts of men, not even when Amy had died. He
always held that her death was an accident, or the result of fear in
Can his former job as a teacher help him
lead these people away from the sword and battle and into different
handling their lives?
As he becomes involved with Alessia and
comes to know her people, Nicholas begins to evolve a new life and
recovering from his loss to realize that little in his past world had
grounded: "There had been times in the past few months when
wondered what was wrong with him, that the loss of Amy had sapped his
live. Here in this time, loved ones were lost daily and people moved
everyone gave up when they lost someone, there would be no one left."
What is his true destiny, and what is his
revised role in life?
Ashley B. Venenga brings to the protagonist
a special sense of critical self-inspection as he moves from heartache
end of life to new beginnings in which his knowledge and approach
more purposeful, humane society.
As the romance evolves, so does his
leadership, friendships, and connections that defy the kind of world
the Righteous have cultivated: “This is what they want. The
taste our fear and they feed on it. They want us afraid of ourselves.
are afraid, you are easy to control. Because in a moment of terror you
barter your freedom without a second thought. “We are not here today to
the Righteous. Or to buy a few months before the next slaughter. We are
Issues of fighting for freedom, handling
repression, starting over in love, and facing grief are embedded into a
that juxtaposes personal ambition and struggle with political and
inspection. Exertions of Better Men is replete with
action, social, and
psychological examination that lead to an evolving sense of purpose and
Readers seeking a different kind of time
travel/dystopian fiction story will find Exertions of Better
thoroughly engrossing as Nicholas faces conundrums past and present and
into a very different kind of life from the brink of death.
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979-8502843959 $14.99 Paper/$2.49 ebook
Champion's first appearance is standing atop a mound of bodies; some of
not quite dead. In his arm is a chubby child he's rescued, who is
become a leader. Kardak is not just a hero. He's a warrior.
captured in a film that, in the real world, features Steve, an actor
Kradak in a series of B-films. Unfortunately, the film attracts the
of viewer when Rista and Grint come through a portal from Arkana, view
portrait of this hero's exploits, and decide that Steve is just the
save their world.
they kidnap him and bring him to Arkana, the portal closed behind them,
they discover that Steve is anything but a hero. Still, he'd better be
to fill those shoes fast, because bloody conflict is on the way.
wry sense of humor is displayed from the start, as movie hero Steve
the persona he's been hired to portray, only to discover that the
fantasy has taken on too much reality for his tastes and experience.
Steve faces a
huge two-headed mythological dog in the film, he mutters the lines he
should drive his actions: “Two heads can be killed as easily
as one,” Kradak
muttered, though he knew that wasn’t true. It was the kind of line a
muttered when faced with an impossible situation."
injected throughout the tale: "Grint silently changed back to
goblin self and put what was left of his clothes on. Steve did
he noticed that as he walked, he was going to be showing off a lot more
himself than he intended. Rista glanced at them and said, “We’ll
at the next village.” She scanned the treetops, looking to see what
descend on them. “Oh, and Grint?” “Yes?” Grint answered hesitantly. “No
hurling small forest creatures down the path.” “Noted.”
delightful aspect that sets this fantasy adventure apart from other
reads is Inmon's attention to adding contemporary references into the
from YouTube to Sumo-style wrestling moves, Christina Aguilera's
these references, Steve's struggle to apply the dubious lessons of a
fantasy B-grade film to this new world and its reality, and the
faces as he becomes the hero he never really wanted to be makes for a
tongue-in-cheek examination of not just mythology and the hero persona,
tests of an ordinary man thrust into an extraordinary, impossible
Kradak the Champion is a delightful fantasy that keeps readers reading
and laughing as
Steve stumbles into his strengths and wonders if the side he is has
right or wrong.
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aah...The Pleasure Book
Jia Gottlieb, MD
978-1-7343769-0-6 $19.95 Paper/$8.45 ebook
Book comes from a doctor who
reviews the virtue of pleasure as the ultimate key to leading a
life. It discusses pleasure and pain's effects on love, compassion, and
ability to appreciate one's world. In the age of Covid, this message is
especially significant because it supports the notion that finding,
understanding, and sharing pleasure goes far in creating a more
Some readers might approach this book's
title with the criticism that it embraces self-interest and hedonistic
approaches to life, but aah...The Pleasure Book is
more than a new age
self-help examination. It's a book of enlightenment that includes
discussions of the brain and body's reactions to pleasure, surveys of
and emotional pleasure, discussions of erotica and
differentiations between pleasure pursuits and happiness, among other
The broader scope of this book points out
that there are many misconceptions about what constitutes pleasure,
constitutes a pleasurable experience, and how it is achieved: "...the
distinction between pleasure and happiness turns out to be a false
that only adds to our confusion."
Dr. Gottlieb's introduction points out why
this definition of pleasure is essential to well-being: "It
important to understand that our desire for pleasure is not a choice we
moral or otherwise. It is woven into the very fiber of our being and is
fundamental to our human existence. We are biologically hardwired to
Why should readers be invested in this
process of analyzing pleasure? Because, "What pleases you
turns out to
be an extremely important question. As I noted at the outset, your
likely determine the kinds of people you meet, the quality of your
health, and how long you live. This is because the pleasures you seek
habits, habits become a lifestyle, and in medicine,
The blend of medical facts and analytical
approaches to pleasure, psychological and spiritual inspection, and
building a scientific foundation of examination that considers the
reality of pleasure makes for a powerful examination. This will
please readers who like their books well steeped in and supported by
data and analysis.
Book's embrace of philosophy,
science, psychology, and spiritual inspection will attract a broad
thinkers who will find its connections essential to understanding life
genetic inclination, and the various realms of pleasure's widespread
individuals and societies alike.
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Vox Publishing House
ASIN : B096PH1PF8 $5.99 Kindle
CBT Workbook actually incorporates three
books under one cover,
providing workbooks for kids, teens, and adults. These are packed with
self-help strategies designed to reach each age group with specific
and approaches supporting behavioral therapy.
For those not in the know, CBT stands for cognitive behavioral therapy, a psychological approach used to address a wide range of problems.
Children can benefit from this therapy as much as adults. This is covered in an introductory workbook that blends theory with applied exercises pertinent to such conditions as ADHD, eating disorders, and various problems children often experience.
The workbook is structured
in such a way that adults
working with kids can help children work through various life
mindfulness and anger management. Adults receive an overview of each
along with clear instructions on how their participation with the child
impart better strategies for overcoming life obstacles.
Parents are advised to move
slowly to assure that the
child is fully engaged in the process, in order for it to be
form of talk therapy requires interaction on both sides, and Tara
Wilson emphasizes how thoughts and
emotions can influence behaviors.
The goals and sessions need
to be agreed upon and
understood by all participants. Therapists will also find CBT can work
hand with other therapies, offering daily applications that support a
life encounters and experiences.
From battling eating
disorders by adopting an eating
inventory of habits and foods and linking these to thoughts and
relaxation techniques and more considered approaches to daily living,
taught how to better cope and adapt at an early age.
Teens, in contrast, receive
special instruction that
builds on their common issues, from phobias and sleep problems to
sexual issues, and suicidal thoughts.
While these exercises can
help, they are often best
applied hand in hand with professional therapies. CBT therapy can help
identify and change flawed self-perceptions, while therapists can use
help pinpoint unhealthy thought patterns, suppositions, and habits.
Teens receive instruction on
new ways of thinking about
and approaching life obstacles, learning the difference between
patterns and healthier, more effective options.
The inviting invitations are
designed either for teen
involvement alone or adult/teen interactions.
Adults will find the
workbook portion directed to them
assumes a basic understanding of mindfulness and awareness, building on
familiarity to offer practices that address common mental health
It should be noted that, no
matter what the age, each of
these workbooks requires commitment, time, and effort. They aren't
quick or short-term solutions, but to be lasting life approaches that
habits and patterns of best mental health practices to all ages.
Having all three books under
one cover assures the
broadest applications no matter what age group is consulting this
Its guide to
techniques proven to work and its inviting
participatory workbook structure lends to a CBT survey that ideally
a very wide audience—and which should be on the shelves of any mental
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Mary Earhart, LM
ASIN: B002NGO30M $2.99 Kindle
healing, addiction literature, and midwifery will find all three topics
coalesce in For Generations,
by a Licensed Midwife and Public Health Nurse in Southern California.
receives a book of wisdom that focuses on drug-addicted pregnant women
their stories of managing both pregnancy and their lives.
supplement medical information often unexplored in mainstream books
pregnancy or addiction, narrowing the focus to a topic that too rarely
much in-depth coverage. These incorporate client to midwife
offering a fine juxtaposition of experiences from both sides of the
with pediatricians to prenatal decisions and challenging births, For Generations provides eye-opening
scenarios, thought-provoking insights, and a pleasing, inviting format
welcomes all levels of readers: "Sometimes
fear and self-centeredness lead to decisions that don't turn out the
would like in childbirth. When that happens I am happy for the quick
of a good pediatrician, and I try to stay objective and focus on the
baby and mother desperately needing to bond so that things have a
at a good start. Sometimes we get lucky."
The blend of
practical advice, psychological and physiological insights, and a
perception of the challenges of managing birth and addictive processes
for a healing approach recommended for mothers, the medical community,
fellow midwives alike.
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Beowulf: A Verse
Translation from the Anglo-Saxon
Andrew B. F. Carnabuci
$17.00 Hardcover; $12.00 paper
Most high school
students have received lessons on the classic, but Beowulf: A
from the Anglo-Saxon represents a very different scholarly
approach. It not
only incorporates a format lending to cross-comparison, using a side-by-side bilingual layout, but
includes the translator's preface and notes. These lend to an
of the process itself and the reasons (sometimes misguided) why Beowulf
be interpreted as something it actually was not.
The introduction explains that even though Beowulf
has been a bastion of literature studies courses, it in fact did not
as a piece of literature, but had its origins in 1563. Nowell, an
and collector of ancient manuscripts, came upon the only copy in
pursued it for its philological, anthropological, and sociological
reconstructing early Anglo-Saxon language from its fragments.
When 19th century literary
involved in this effort, they embedded within their interpretations the
that it was a literary epic quest poem, endowing it with properties
their interpretation of its value.
After charting the
origins of these misrepresentations, Andrew
B. F. Carnabuci maintains
that: "Beowulf is not merely sociological data, nor is it a
epic poem, nor is it the handseynie of the White Man’s Burden.12 So
Not only does his
preface explore the history of the piece and the cultural flavours that
Anglo-Saxon heritage imparted, but it explores the roots of Anglo-Saxon
literary representations, studies, and the fallacies and inherent
scholarly approaches to the piece.
By explaining the
translator's challenges and approach to the artificiality of the
language, Carnabuci provides
invaluable insights into
a translator's tasks and options. These explanations and this document
be part of any reasoned consideration of Beowulf
Appendixes include supporting data on the
pedigrees of Danes, Swedes, and Weder-Geats (including bibliography),
provides much in-depth scholarly material for supporting reference and
By exploring the process and necessity of
re-translating Anglo-Saxon poetry and providing a set of principles to
this effort ("...it keeps the idiom Northern and Germanic,
accurately reflects the diction of the original Anglo-Saxon. If this
seems confusing or peculiar to you, I encourage you to read a few
of the poem. It is my hope, if I have done my job right, that you will
a feel for what I have described as the direct, earthy, robust, and
feel of English in its pre-Romance period."), students and
receive far more value than a retranslation alone.
Beowulf: A Verse Translation
foundation piece in any collection strong in early Anglo-Saxon history,
culture, and language, with its powerful new series of observations and
insights backed by extensive footnote references.
Andrew BF Carnabuci earned his degrees from
the Middlebury College and Quinnipiac University School of Law. This
undertaking represents a solid verse translation that is surprisingly
accessible not just to the usual audience of high school students, but
interested in epic writings and poems.
Michael Angelis adds black and white
illustrative embellishments that capture the flavor of the story for a
surprisingly wide audience.
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Black Jack Burden?
James A. Perkins with Patrick C. McCarthy and Frank D. Allen, Jr.
Dawn Valley Press
Black Jack Burden? Night Thoughts on the Genetics of Race in Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men requires two things of its readers: a closer familiarity with and interest in Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men than a casual interest, and an awareness of the kind of analytical process that delve beyond literary inspection to consider racism's heritage in North and South alike.
Warren's classic won the last Pulitzer Prize
for the Novel in 1947, has never been out of print, and has already
more than its fair share of critical inspection. So, why the need for
another discourse on the novel?
Black Jack Burden? offers a very different approach to the existing
the book, pointing out that fellow analysts have largely missed the
their close inspections because they accept and follow the lead of Jack
who believes his mother's contention about his paternity. James
A. Perkins works with with Patrick C. McCarthy and Frank D. Allen, Jr.
remedy this and other analytical issues.
inspection of All the King’s Men illustrates an
underlying theme that
entirely changes the critical approach to reading this literary work,
incorporating genetic, legal, and social challenges that underlay many
events and surround and support a different inspection of attitudes
racism and paternity in the South.
been eighteen years in the making, and analyzes many more subtle
nuances of the
novel. While footnoted references abound to support this different
approach, James A. Perkins acknowledges that some of
these interpretations and supporting notes may be considered sketchier
others. This said, the attention to detail and the scholarship is
Perkins calls his achievement a "work
in textual criticism." As it points out inconsistencies, possibilities,
and contexts which totally change Warren's approach and meaning,
receive not just a critical analysis, but guideposts to an entirely
way of reading All the King's Men: "If
you assume that the Judge
believes Jack is black and totally unaware of it, you can see that,
Judge’s point of view, Jack’s position in the novel would change
and the level of irony would increase throughout the novel."
The extent of these assumptions on the
reader's part and how they affect reading and interpretation of the
delves into the language, history, and setting of the plot: "Jack
doubt assumes that the tag “Boy” on Sugar’s name would be heard as an
of the common use of “Boy” to refer to any black male. His assumption
that he probably uses the term and further suggests that he does not
that it could be applied to him."
Readers already more than familiar with the
novel (and, ideally, who will have reviewed it once again prior to
this analysis) will find the inspection rich in possibilities and
critical examinations: "The odds are that Ellis Burden is
father, as shown in chapter one. Certainly the law would presume that a
born in a marriage is the issue of that marriage, barring strong
the contrary. And in this case we have no evidence; we have only Mrs.
unsupported assertion. Paternity is important legally because it
distribution of property, money, and power. There would be no reason
to investigate his Mother’s claim and to try to establish the Judge as
parent under the law..."
Frank Allen doesn't limit himself to close
analysis of the story alone, however. His research into the setting and
of the plot lend many insights into its milieu: "Through
a limited amount of research, I found that Louisiana is somewhat unique
states with respect to official records. Like most states, Louisiana
an effort in the middle of the nineteenth century to establish complete
official records of all births, deaths, and marriages that occurred
state. By the time of the setting of All the King’s Men, the goal was
complete throughout the state."
Allen emphasizes that Burden's choices,
conflicts, and the moral, ethical, social and legal challenges of his
which come to light in an outstanding blend of text analysis and
references: "Jack Burden’s discovery of documentary evidence
Irwin’s sole act of corruption demonstrates what can be accomplished by
searches of records. Once such evidence was uncovered, the legal and
consequences would unfold inexorably."
This critical survey should not only be in
any collection holding a copy of Warren's All the King's Men;
but on the
reading lists of students who are assigned the book. Ideally, it will
part of a larger classroom discussion and debate of the book's literary
social prowess, offering the kind of close consideration that is
understanding all the subtler nuances of the classic, which too many
critical volumes have missed.
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Homestead Lighthouse Press
978-1-950475-01-8 $26.95 Hardcover/$16.95 paper
Emily & Virginia
is a novel about the intersecting lives of Emily Dickinson and Virginia
that will delight literary fantasy readers. Its intriguing story
structure of Woolf's To the Lighthouse,
but in a refreshingly different manner that injects magical realism
plot, which is set in modern-day 2021.
Dickinson and Woolf are on their way to
Oregon from the Afterlife. Their mission is to contact and guide Manga
Lily Ramsay, helping her through a growth crisis and keeping her safe
dark Otherworld forces of De la Nuit. In this world, they pose as her
They also confront and support each other as well as Lily's evolving
and their fellow writers, who join forces with them.
The literary allusions that run through this
novel are delightful and will please those well familiar with Dickinson
Woolf, offering a contemporary inspection that reflects the ongoing
these writings in the lives of modern-day young people like Lily: "Propped up in bed, feeling fragile in
the small light of a reading lamp, Lily put aside her ramble through
no sex and brought herself back to Emily, to Virginia. She read aloud
Dickinson’s poem that begins, After
great pain, a formal feeling comes. She read it aloud, her
sounding otherworldly to her—and as always happened when she read the
silently or aloud, she wept. She remembered sitting on her mother’s lap
listening to this poem and looking up, she saw her father leaning in a
also listening, with tears in his eyes."
The interactions between these two literary
figures is also especially inviting, injecting snippets from their
lives as the story progresses and they interact with both Lily and her
and each other: "Turning suddenly to
Emily on the bus Virginia said, “Did you overhear what Lily’s young man
realized? He surpasses my expectations! Perhaps he will work out after
wish I could have written
an experience like that, but of course I didn’t. I knew passionate,
love, but with man or woman, it was always challenging. And you, dear
Robert McDowell has studied their lives and
works well. This is evident in the fact that the realism portion of the
is just as compelling and lively as the magical elements which give Emily & Virginia an unexpected
of fantasy and possibility.
Also nicely done and thought-provoking are
the independent observations Emily and Virginia make about this strange
future as they chart Lily's course and contrast it with their own
from the past: "Virginia walked
through town, moved by her contemplation of the yearning for closure.
closure is a made up thing, she thought, a malignant, ugly thing of the
fainting heart. Yet she noted that the practice of closure had gained
in this 21st earth century. It made her sad."
The result is a blend of literary novel,
magical realism, biographical inspection, and social and psychological
examination that, in itself, makes readers want to return to Emily and
Virginia's writings with a fresh eye to their ongoing relevance.
McDowell's evocative words and attention to
creating a story in keeping with these writers' finest moments is
compelling, making for a very highly recommended piece indeed—one which
stand alongside any definitive collection of Dickinson and Woolf's
works: "There is another life under the
leaves, Virginia thought. It’s in a fold of wind, in the surge and
swirl of the
waves, in that infinitesimal second each day or night when the moon and
off together, leaving the sky vacant for the romping, rioting stars and
who are also stars. Time passes. In The
Waves I created Elvedon where gardeners sweep the lawns
brooms and a woman sits at the window writing."
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Frontline: The Complete First Season
978-1737063605 $19.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
The Frontline: The Complete
gathers episodes 1-7 of the serial novel under one cover in the unusual
a serial series of episodes designed to be read in a few hours. The
embraces seven stand-alone (yet complimentary) episodes.
1: The Pilot' sets the stage for events that unfold in the next six
reviewing the structure, members, and intentions of the domestic group
Dawn, which has evolved from patriotic roots to become a terrorist
of disparate forces that's being investigated by the FBI.
then move to a series of centralized adventure episodes that flush out
characters and events affecting Kole County.
episode adds further insights and probes of the group's members and
building a series of mysteries that use social and political clashes
individual lives to expand the boundaries of Kole County's circles.
story takes the form of a short work whose peoples and encounters
the overall scenario and plot of its predecessor.
2, 'The Four Charlies', for examples, contains vignettes that swirl
prior characters. Odacio is involved in a plot to cover up a murder,
Kirsten is filling in as Chapter Leader for her worksite.
swirl of intrigue swells to embraces characters in this and other
building upon prior plots to contribute to a read that is engrossingly
with satisfying twists and turns as the story evolves.
episode is complete unto itself; but together, the action contributes
broader picture. As lawyers, growing group management issues, state
investigators, and murder emerge, readers will be satisfied by the
discussions of impacts on individual and community lives alike.
lives turned upside down to fights and struggles, these stories form a
and strong front in which American Dawn's participants and those
group interact in different ways.
result is a powerful series that excels in serial presentation, highly
recommended for readers of mystery, social inspection, and political
of the most famous books started out as serial novels. Examples include
by Truman Capote, Dickens, Eliot, and many more. The revitalization of
format for a thriller series could not come at a better time in history
readers look for edgy, succinct works replete with fast-paced action
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Finishing Line Press
Poetry enthusiasts who enjoy evocative
writings will find Human Verses a study in
contrasts that hold their
roots in their creator's struggle with mental illness and healing.
Though autobiographical in approach, these poems
provide a powerful inspection of life perceptions that wed metaphor and
for a firm marriage of evocative imagery and feeling: "If
seen a Denny’s ad/you probably saw bubbling dish-soap/spooned over cold
sauce;/mistook it for freshly-poured coffee/which implies the
alternate universe/where matter dwells/in speculative
Katya Zinn's poems reflect her experiences
with alternate ways of perceiving life and handling therapists and
therapies, presenting her different takes on these encounters. One
'Anniversary Syndrome', about teaching, remembering, and being haunted
choices past and present: "Anniversary syndrome is a lot like
stuck in quicksand / the outside world takes the shape of swallowing
/ loving someone you shouldn’t is a lot like living next to the leader
death cult / theoretically dangerous but you always walk away with a
As readers move through expressions of the
stability and instability of the universe and self, the poems exert
pull towards event horizons that cross boundaries and shatter
example of this approach is 'Theories
Of The Humanverse': "let’s talk about quantum
talk about/things that only matter when they’re measured/like particles
waves/& abandonment. let’s talk/about gravity./let’s talk about
this/inexplicable attraction, this/magnetic madness, this need/to bury
piece of myself inside/you, stich you up & then/sew shut the
universe/you can never leave./let’s call that gravity./not love;/call
intergalactic forces/of shared possibility..."
Zinn's style is experimental and mercurial,
adopting a satisfying mode that both challenges poetry readers and
reader's mind and heart with fresh, original verse and emotional
Verses is a chapbook not for the
faint of heart,
but for the questioning and examining mind that will find delight in
expressions of transformation. Between here and eternity, there are
gems like Human
Verses to light the path forward and the pitfalls inherent in
that is life.
Poetry readers who enjoy blends of personal
expression and universal hope are in for a treat.
Return to Index
My World, and Welcome to It
978-1-7354022-1-5 $12.99 paperback, $3.99 e-book
Welcome to It gathers Michael
Guillebeau's published stories and poems under one cover. It opens with
story 'The Man in the Moon', after an especially winning preface
mind with what is to come and how to approach his writings: "Since
book is both unreal and, to me, more real than earth and sky, feel free
play fair with the book. Skip around. Read a detective story now, a
next. Maybe something autobiographical after that. Put it down for a
that it is in your hands, this book is yours, and not mine."
The promise of variety and pieces that range
from contemplative reflections to humor and mystery is fulfilled in a
selection of works that vacillate between stories of success and
observations of the writer's world and life in general: "Writers,
other people, tend to say the same things over and over. This story was
as an exercise in a flash fiction class. But yet again, here we have a
guy furiously rattling his cage, in really inappropriate ways. If you
butt in the chair, and do the work, your heart will find a way to shout
These stories are varied, unexpected, and
impossible to predict. Take, for example, 'Saint Monster's', in which
spunky girl living in Saint Monica's orphanage, confronts teachers and
with equal sass: “Told ya, name’s Darla, not Missy. I got
work to do at
school, you know, like I was a normal girl. Maybe you could get, you
full-time nun that’s supposed to be taking care of things here to make
beds. Or get the God who cares about us all so much to send you some
that you could get the work done and keep focusing on your full-time
presence.” The look I got from the nun, then, matched the look I got
teacher, later, when I walked into her class at nine o’clock. “You’re
she said. “Here now.”
More so than most literary collections, the
diversity of technique, subject, and approaches to life is satisfyingly
unexpected. Each poem and story is presented in a chronological
follows Michael Guillebeau's literary evolution.
The blends of autobiography, personal
scrutiny, and life moments create inspections that are vivid, as in
Three-D Characters Drop Keys to Free the Two-D Characters': "I
up believing the most important thing about me was that I was a writer.
most of my spare time through my twenties writing. I won a couple of
and got some decent recognition. And earned a total of $125. $125. So I
world make me give it up...Like the Velveteen Rabbit, we all want to be
and loved. Particularly writers, the most insecure creatures on the
When you first think that maybe, possibly, you want to be a writer, you
in a corner. Someone catches you typing. “Are you a writer?” Oh, no,
Not a real writer. Just kind of a…wannabe. Maybe a someday-be. One day
a story, and you feel more real. Until the next day, when somebody asks
again. Now you answer: Oh no. Well, I sold one story, but it was to a
little zine. And on and on. If you’re not careful, you find yourself
Hemingway in a cabin in Idaho with a shotgun in your mouth and a Nobel
the mantel in the next room, and your finger on the trigger because you
you can’t do or write anything good."
Each work is a draw; but presented together,
the collection shines. Literary readers who look for fresh, gritty,
works and a diversity that doesn't adhere to a singular style or genre
for a treat with My World, and Welcome to It.
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Pleasure Boat Studio: A Nonprofit Literary Press
Perishable World comes from
a prize-winning poet who considers
loss, life, and love through poetry that is filled with a sense of
morning the light moves into day/the way a new-built
fire/burns along kindling’s edges, burnishing:/the green room of the
still and seeping/gold from every opening of branch/or elderberry arch,
alders gilded in round eastern light."
are about love and loss, they are firmly rooted in the nature and world
Pacific Northwest, incorporating connections to land and heart alike.
Take “Mind Over Matter” as one example of the intersection of human emotions and the natural world that exists outside of them: "—Say grief and the shoulders hunch/say it for a long time and your cells may speak it/sprout a dark node near your heart/—Poplars at sunset waving and fluttering:/the ballast of matter shifting/against the thin hull of the sky."
Island" is even more evocative as it captures these connections been
emotions and environment: "Finally,
a real summer day after weeks of rain./I still don’t know how to feel
luck being here/—sea, sky, beach and woods, fresh raspberries at the
stand,/blueberries at the U-pick, the bounty of the island/and its
safety. How do I hold this gratitude next to/the sorrow and rage? The
surges; the arctic is burning."
everything going away now?" Alicia Hokanson asks in her lament
"Vanish." Almost everything.
What isn't vanishing is the poet's astute
observations and powerful voice, which captures the nuances of grief,
loss and survival, as reflected in the poem "Sunday": "cleaned
the kitchen, brushed/the
crumbs off the floor, emptied/dried flowers from the blue vase./Once or
wave of grief/swept over me, burning the corners of my eyes,/as I
walked by the
pictures on the shelf./I lived next to your absence all afternoon:/this
apprenticeship at love’s last lesson."
Perishable World picks up the pieces of a
broken heart and
celebrates what was and what remains. This evocative collection will
readers who enjoy literary introspection and transformative
descriptions. "Through the trees, night
throb./Starlight pours into a dark bowl. Fiery/islands shine behind the
palisade of night./Lie down now in the clearing./In the womb of
built this house."
Return to Index
Selected & New Poems
With Introduction by Award-winning Poet & Critic Chad Abushanab
Homestead Lighthouse Press
$24.95 Hardcover/$16.95 paper/$5.99 ebook
Sweet Wolf: Selected & New Poems explores the narrative/lyric poem
structure. Contemporary readers will find the collection a refreshing
traditional form and modern subjects, cemented by a timeline of
transformation, current events, and death.
Emily Dickson's admonition for poets to find "Where the Meanings,
are," McDowell crafts verses and works that chart these trajectories
pivot points in daily living: "The
605 is clogged, as are the roads/In Al’s uncertain head. He gazes
sees the cemetery sign uphill,/Its letters white, gigantic through the
smog./“My Eleanor is dead,” he mutters. His hands/Make nursing
movements on the
moment-by-moment air strikes of experience and meaning are imparted in
that link past teachings and approaches with present-day effects, as in
moments captured in 'The Nineties' both in the passage above and in
ongoing journey, where "Al wants the
scene to shift, the plot to improve,/But he is in a still-life on this
characters shift their realities and experiences, move through nature
lessons, and hold tight to meanings and abilities from the past, these
capture a sense of place and purpose that will prove thought-provoking
poetry readers looking for considerations of life's key moments and
One example of this feeling lies in insomniac Nessa's reflections in
Foxes', in which she comes to understand her role in death, early in
life: "Nessa, unbelieving, held the
bird,/Refusing to accept the death she’d made./So that was how easy
death could be."
nature-cemented transformation that follows in her review of a
encounter with foxes is tantalizing and evocative: “I’m
breathing too much of this barn’s old fevered air,”/She said, but
there the fox stood at the door./Then girl and animal traveled into
other/As far as they could, into the spirit’s house/Where the red fox
said,/“Into the world we’re born,/Then out we’re called again. Go back
people./They need you, Nessa, like foxes need the night.”
haunting, prayerful descriptions of moving between darkness, light, and
different magical worlds, Sweet Wolf:
Selected & New Poems is a creation that poetry and
need...much like foxes need the night.
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Of Ibn Oraybi
Papillon du Père Publishing
9798727542262 $2.99 ebook
history of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century come to life
in The Three Veils Of Ibn Oraybi,
a vivid story of an aging Turkish Muslim alchemist forced to flee
Constantinople for a new life in a small town to the East after he's
heresy. There, he feels very much the alien, with his ethnicity and
outside the norm.
his new life among these pagans challenging; but when the vengeful
him to his new home, he begins to feel a loyalty and determination for
peoples he's inadvertently bonded with on some levels.
the history or culture of the times is not required of the reader, who
find this story opens with an immediate draw: "There
was an assassin in his home. Ibn Oraybi knew it without
getting out of bed, without lighting a lamp, without hearing a sound.
awareness was nothing mystical; it was simply a matter of being
the sensations that trembled along his nerves, as though he were a
identifying a note after a string had been plucked."
employs a lyrical attention to compelling description and a literary
to surveying Oraybi's challenge to Muslim convention. As the story
both Oraybi's perspective and that of the pasha horrified by the depths
heresy are brought to life: “I told you
that Ibn Oraybi and I were once great friends. Now that you’ve studied
Qur’an, I can relate to you the true depth of his depravity: He
night, that the Qur’an was not the word of Allah as transmitted through
and thence to Muhammad, that it is not a history of events, he said,
collection of symbols! Mere poetic truths!”
this horrible affront to the religion that is his lifeblood, how can
Pasha let the man live? And how does the pasha's recurring dream of the
"of a woman veiled from head to foot in lavender silk" affect his
mystery, history, religious fervor, and social inspection into this
struggle, which ends with a surprising twist that exposes the real
the woman of his dreams.
novella is short but powerful, successfully highlighting and
different perspectives, perceptions, and purposes in the lives that
throughout: “I wonder if truth isn’t
simply a matter of the way we view things. Perhaps the world can be
different ways. There is, of course, the truth of the senses—what we
because of what we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, touch with
There’s the truth of the intellect, which puts things in terms of
effects, patterns, and laws. And then there’s the truth of the soul,
poetic and measures according to its own harmony or discord, according
melancholia or expansiveness it experiences.”
lyrical language and thought-provoking encounters not only bring the
life, but explore the politics and psychological profiles of cultures
lived side by side, but in very different worlds.
The Three Veils Of Ibn Oraybi invites history and literature readers to
imbibe of this world and is a delightful, refreshing work that leaves
thinking, immersed in an atmosphere that lingers in the mind like a
warm cup of
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Karen Willard Ribeiro
978-1-7369774-0-8 $20.00 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Women seeking to self-examine, confront inner and social prejudices, and change the world one step at a time, beginning with their unconscious biases, will find no better guiding light than Beyond Karen: Emerging From The Depths Of An Epic Epithet.
It's a self-help and social change adviser in the guise of a memoir, and thus is much more readable and relatable than most social and political calls to action, using the 'Karen' phenomenon as a starting point for understanding language, assumptions, and change.
This is the personal memoir of a woman whose name has come to portray privilege, elitist attitude, and entitlement on a level that defies social inspection. Karen Willard Ribeiro wrote this book to heal social and interpersonal relationships, both personally and societally, and to reach others struggling with Covid and social unrest: "In the grand scheme of the 2020-21 “moment,” with COVID-19 and illness and job losses and natural disasters and political fears to contend with, taking a deep dive into the dark “well” of Karen name-calling to write at least my own way out of it has been a way to take action and not succumb to the overwhelm.” Willard Ribeiro offers “a wide-angle lens on the ongoing tragedy of the commons, to Karens, to the curse of and on white middle-aged women."
Her discourse charts her own “Pivot Moments of Choice” to move from the position of white privilege to a more embodied response to life, providing a road map for other women seeking to do the same. It takes the 'Karen' meme to new levels of inspection as Ribeiro examines, with passion and pathos, the impact of her name, her choices, her role in life, and the changing social environment around her: "I hear the Kansas song, “all we are is Dust in the Wind” in my head knowing that ultimately, as with all things, this [Karen trope] too will blow over. But I am done waiting for nature to take her course when she is being manipulated by countless emotionally dysregulated people in every facet of society. It is not just the greedy elite who believe they are entitled to more and more and more and more of everything. It is all of us who can no longer bear the trauma of a life full of so many “things that make you go hmmmm,” so many experiences of cognitive dissonance, that our brains are simply no longer able to contain the compacted rubble of emotions we have suppressed for so long."
During this process, Ribeiro speaks of gratitude, transformation, collective memories, mother/daughter relationships and their impact, and much more.
In addition to analyzing what is, she considers the positive potential of "what if": "What if we all could focus on our breath at all the most important moments? The process of transformation, creating sufficient time and space for processing emotion, ideally with someone who cares, is everything."
If you are a white woman confronting
prejudice and racism in the world today, Beyond Karen:
Emerging From The
Depths Of An Epic Epithet will resonate on a deep
your name is Karen.
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seeking to understand Southern culture and the lasting impact of
childhood experience should consider Cool Hush: Memoirs
more than just
one woman's story, but a snapshot of a patriarchal family's repressive
attitudes and how the author survived them to create a place and name
herself in adulthood.
first note to this collection regards its voice. Rain Story reaches
for the reader's emotions and touches them with hard-hitting
reflect early attempts to direct her life: "He mocked me and
me. “Stop with the dreamin’. You’ll never make a livin’ doin’ this when
grow up. You’re gonna get married and work in the factory. That’s how
Get used to it.” In all of about two minutes, my father trampled my
tromped on my words, and snuffed out my voice. And I have never
an evocative voice that moves both within and beyond family experience
embrace the Arkansas atmosphere: "Fort
Smith, Arkansas. 1964. On the early spring day that I was born, it
rained, there were severe thunderstorms, it hailed, and then the sun
My mother told me this tale my whole life. She said she had hoped it
was not an
omen of things to come. Whether unfortunately or fortunately, it was."
she grows up
to face her own conflicts (that include losing parental rights to see
children and facing judges, exes, and even church figures who are cruel
enforce obedience and subjugation over kindness and tolerance), Rain
begins to let go of the people and institutions that repress her
process is vividly portrayed, as when she makes a powerful decision to
the church that should ideally have been the cornerstone of her
strength: "The years to come would not
perception of organized religion or Christianity. The poisonous
abuses, misogyny, hypocrisy, racism, manipulation, hate, negativity,
underhandedness made me cringe. It made my soul quake."
unfolds, it becomes evident that the author had to let go of far more
childhood influences alone; but a pervasive culture that embraced
repressed women through many different institutional and social
does a woman
with such a background of abuse and repression become empowered?
traces the junctions of her growth and evolutionary process with an
to how she continually walked away from the 'cool hush' that kept
keep her down in many different ways.
recovery processes are reviewed in a series of inspections that lead to
encouraging readers with a can-do attitude that evolves from surviving
soul-crushing, seemingly insurmountable attacks and obstacles: "Sometimes, we have to part ways with
people in our lives. I think it’s okay as long as they are a negative
that doesn’t encourage or support you to be better, more confident, and
life fulfilled in a positive light. For me, healing began when I
make my past stay in the past."
discuss the specifics of this survival and growth process are
Rain Story's memories create a positive blueprint that surveys better
and roads towards healing, providing example for others who would
patriarchal abuses, whether at home or in society.
Hush should be in any
collection strong in women's psychological self-inspection and survival
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Precision House Publications
Jean Lieldoff lived with indigenous tribes in the Amazon rainforest in 1950s and 60s. Her observations led to her write The Continuum Concept, which still holds a powerful place in educator and sociology studies decades later.
Her theories about early parent/child connections with mother’s body during infancy led to key changes in how parent/child relationships are fostered.
It seems unlikely that such a lifestyle and such a powerful theory could stem from a Manhattan socialite, but Liedloff was no ordinary society girl. Particularly intriguing is her pattern of distancing from relationships even as she explored the foundations of the most central relationship of all, living with and befriending indigenous peoples. With Liedloff’s full cooperation, Geralyn Gendreau explored this lifelong resistance to intimacy both with her subject and in this authorized biography.
This becomes a subplot in the book, increasing the strength of the story. The friendship between these two women makes for a fascinating note and a book that could not have been as well-detailed and explored by an outsider.
Jungle Jean reads with the drama of a novel. This will particularly delight biography readers who might have anticipated a dry, fact-filled account. Gendreau's ability to inject life into the biography makes for a particularly engrossing, insight-packed discussion that embraces not just details, but Liedloff’s underlying motivation and the influences on life: "Jean pushed through the crowded foyer of the Excelsior Hotel. Count Enrico’s words, “The train for Paris leaves at noon,” echoed in her ears. She barely knew the count and had only met his plump little financier, Beppi, the day before. But that didn’t matter; she would go to the jungle with anybody."
attention to detail with the personal touches and descriptive flair of
who was both intellectually and emotionally involved with her subject
a thoroughly engrossing read. The book is very accessible not just to
familiar with Liedloff’s pioneering work, but to newcomers to her world
seek solidly compelling reads about adventurous, influential women.
Jungle Jean is very highly recommended for
sociology, anthropology, women's biography, and general-interest
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Hatchet Mountain Press
Abbot Pond takes place around a large, cold pond in
Maine and tells of unhappy teenager Danny Cole, who is coming to stay
Freddie and his father Jack Morgan after a drug overdose and depression.
Jack stumble on a body in the basement of one of Camden properties,
shock because murders simply don't happen in Abbot Pond. Something has
bringing Jack, Freddie, and Danny into an investigation of not only a
but the family's ongoing inability to cope with the tragedy of son
has been affected—but not his ability to point out the obvious. As
recovers from his trauma and becomes an effective problem-solving force
strange knack for trouble and seeing what others around him miss, he
the focal point for many changes that cross the line from dream
adept at presenting the undercurrents of threat, repressed emotions,
discovery that lie just under the surface of Abbot Pond and its
story is brought to life by the interactions of strong characters who
special abilities and attitudes towards their lives, from a broken
struggling with grief and each other to a handicapped young man who
answers to more than recovering from his own challenges.
full circle to the pond that claimed so many and changed so many lives
ago, readers receive a fine blend of mystery, suspense, and intrigue
involves youths and adults in a dangerous situation and adds a dose of
supernatural influence into the evolving tale.
for strong tales of discovery and recovery will find Abbot
Pond replete with satisfying twists and turns that are
delightfully unexpected, flushing out a mystery that holds a conclusion
readers won't see coming.
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Wild Rose Press
9781509235223 $17.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Asylum is a story of creeping horror that opens in
Pennsylvania in 1984, where nine-year-old Kyle Hampton fields abusive
violent co-inmates at Rose Hill Asylum before he is finally adopted,
behind a younger brother.
Fast forward twenty-eight years to a
scenario in which Kyle finds his revisit to the now-abandoned asylum
vengeful figure from the past.
A stolen pair of odd boots, threats to
himself and his friend Randy, and a growing certainty that whatever was
behind at the asylum is now on a deadly mission would seem to indicate
police should be involved; but Kyle has been breaking into the
himself. His own crimes preclude him asking for help from the one place
might be equipped to handle this threat.
Kyle and Randy tries to find answers,
involving Beth, Kat, and other innocents in an increasingly dangerous
a series of confrontations and mysteries.
Tamera Lawrence is adept at crafting a
chilling atmosphere that slowly builds from childhood to adulthood,
past mistakes and choices, and reaches out to touch everyone in Kyle's
The characters are three-dimensional, the
tension exquisite, and the story evolves towards seemingly-predictable
scenarios that then take satisfying twists and turns.
Asylum holds important messages about managed ways
of addressing mental illness that not only fail to do the job, but add
impact and progression. Its coverage of the lingering impact of mental
abuse, and institutions that not only fail but create monsters offers a
of social inspection that add nicely to the horror aspect to keep
just entertained, but thinking.
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Write Choice Ink
9781970191159 $15.99 Paper/$6.99 ebook
Author Website: www.sheilalowebooks.com
Dead Letters is the eighth book in the Forensic
Handwriting series featuring expert Claudia Rose, but it should be
no prior familiarity with her other investigations is needed in order
newcomers to jump right in and enjoy Claudia's latest case.
brother Pete is arrested as a murder suspect even as his teenage
Monica goes missing on an archaeological dig in Egypt. As Claudia
expertise in handwriting analysis to bear on a personal case fraught
surprising twists and turns, readers receive a multifaceted story that
from a family dilemma to a kidnapping and murder case that tests even
prowess as a sleuth.
about ancient Egypt and its artifacts are wound into a fast-paced plot
keeps readers moving through different countries and issues. Claudia
possibility that the murder and kidnapping may be related to terrorist
activities threatening not just her immediate family, but the world.
builds atmosphere and a sense of place into her story as Claudia
unfamiliar country: "She had to
chuckle at the scenery. “These flat roofs and desert remind me of
I visited recently. The palm trees are the same as where I live in
California. Ancient, though—that’s something we have none of.” “There’s
of ancient here,” said McKenna with a grin."
excellent note to this story is the ongoing focus on the process of
analysis and how these observations contribute to Claudia's
investigation: "Colin, like Monica, kept a
his nightstand. His was Moleskine, his name embossed on the black
cover. For Claudia, the opportunity to examine his handwriting was akin
finding gold. She stood there for a long moment, arguing with herself.
really want to open it and see the truth about him? If his handwriting
to Colin having the potential for homicidal mania—an improbable
you never knew—what could she do about it? If he posed a danger to her
it was too late to do anything about it.
He could be an angel, one side of her contended. Either way, you need to know, the other side countered. He had signed his name on the inside cover in thick black ink and encircled it with a protective lasso-like stroke. No one could decipher the illegible scrawl as saying ‘Colin Vine.’ He had used the final stroke on the ‘e’ to slash through his name in a self-destructive right-to-left movement, not a good sign for his self-image. The chicken scratch dotting many of the pages was a form of cursive writing that was dissimilar from Monica’s orderly script in every way. It reminded Claudia of her English grandmother’s saying: “They’re as different as chalk from cheese.”
move between Claudia and Monica, contributing a full-bodied feeling to
story's events. Readers gain both a sense of place and purpose as
considers her own actions and beliefs, and their impact: "With
startling clarity, Monica saw how the ever-present threat
against him had crippled her thinking. She sighed. Her loyalty to him
danger to her life."
around Monica, Colin, and Claudia in an involving mystery keeps readers
thoroughly absorbed and guessing about the outcomes of not just the
mystery, but the changing relationships throughout the story.
Dead Letters is an outstanding story of a forensic
investigation conducted on a different level. It will delight a wide
of mystery fans with its action-packed intrigue.
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Devil by the Tail
D. X. Varos, Ltd.
$18.95 (Paperback), $4.99 (ebook)
Ned Handish is furious. The Cairo Daily
Democrat has sullied his name by printing an article that
identifies him as
the escaped murderer of his wife...and he didn't commit the crime. When
enters detective Quinn Paschal's office, it's with the intention to
hire her to
prove his innocence by finding the real killer. This is a job connected
"orgy of crime" which has been going on for six months, during which
time the accused sitting across from her has been at large.
by the Tail, set in 1867 Chicago,
moves from the
singular murder to a series of social and political encounters as Quinn
her own sense about the man's innocence ("He had managed to
law until now. Why come forward and introduce himself unless he really
innocent?") and works with her partner, Mr. Garnick, on this
another case (helping a lawyer absolve a client who is accused of
ex-lover's new bride).
As the methods of Pinkerton Detective Agency
training dovetail with 1800s Chicago's stormy milieu of political
criminal activity, readers receive an engrossing story firmly rooted in
city with a backdrop of action and adventure.
These cases evolve into much bigger threats
around arson and gamblers and murders, and Quinn finds herself
her perseverance reveals new underworld involvements operating on many
different levels: "Even if the captain took bribes from the
couldn’t turn a blind eye if something…untoward happened to her. Since
fire, Garnick’s caution about her ending up in a gunny sack at the
the Chicago River had become more concerning. But since the fire, she’d
more willing to take risks if it meant bringing the guilty devil to
During her quest for truth and answers,
Quinn finds herself facing criminals and vigilantes who pose equal
brings 1800s Chicago to life, winding history into an engrossing story
moves from a Cairo murder to a desperate man's pursuit of a Chicago
adept at bringing the social and political nuances of this world to
through investigator Quinn's eyes, lacing the story with action and
confrontation to keep the pace fast and the intrigue high.
own professional relationship with her partner challenged by unexpected
priorities, the story becomes one of a woman tasked with finding her
through career and personal challenges on levels that move beyond
identifying a murderer and bringing him to justice.
historical settings and a mix of interpersonal relationship and
will find Devil by the Tail
excels in crafting an involving set of conundrums that offer no easy
Return to Index
on a Deadly
Scorpius Carta Press
$26.99 Hardcover/$13.99 Paper/$6.99 ebook
readers will find Dice on a Deadly Sea
an intriguing story about a birthday cruise gone awry. Zelda Carlisle's
celebration with her three best friends embraces a bucket list
trip to the
Galapagos. What they didn't invite along was murder.
keep this voyage memorable results in a hasty, bad decision in which
the body they've stumbled upon, thus becoming unwitting accomplices to
crime that rules out their reporting it: "They
knew Simon was dead when they loaded him into the towel bin. That at
them suspects if not guilty. They had no proof otherwise. If she told
captain that Simon was now anchored to a rock at Sombrero
Chino, how would she prove she didn’t put him there?
She didn’t have a swimmer buddy to confirm her story. She didn’t have
but a whopper of a tale."
decides to pursue a murderer aboard the ship, the close quarters impact
her sleuthing and her friends as Rudy, an appealing but
single man with a patch over one eye, becomes involved in their
Meanwhile, Amy's special abilities evolve beyond that of game
and her friends find not just their reputations, but their own lives on
provides a fine mystery that swirls around not just a whodunnt, but how
sleuths with different abilities assume the position of players in a
game. both between each other and with an unknown perp: "Genna
teased her about forecasting domino plays as if that’s why
Amy won often. She won because she played skillfully, but Genna didn’t
admit that. She suspected Genna thought of visions, or dreams, or
called them, as a threat. Not a dangerous threat, but something Amy
that Genna couldn’t."
these evolving relationships as well as the mystery and the dilemma of
up a crime creates an unexpected blend of humor and ironic inspections.
to build the story's backdrop. This may dissuade readers who are used
quicker action-oriented pace, but in the long run it results in a
story, crafting a more complex background to these ladies'
different approaches to life which supports the mystery and their
cozy mysteries that are firmly rooted in changing friendships will find
Dice on a Deadly Sea replete with
satisfyingly unexpected twists and turns. It's an excellent choice for
stormy night by the warm fire or a beach read.
Return to Index
The Grinding Wheel
Rukia Publishing US
978-0578911854 $16.99 paper/$4.99 ebook
Fans of the Jeff Trask crime books, as well
as newcomers to Marc Rainer's special brand of investigative drama,
welcome the latest addition to the series, The Grinding Wheel.
The story opens with a young woman strapped
to a table, a large mirror above her, with no memory of how she came to
this position. At this point, it should be mentioned that the setup to
story is a graphic portrait of violence. While it stops short of a
description of the young woman's torture and demise, it leaves little
The next chapter introduces investigator Trask
as he faces his latest challenge in the dual cases of a serial shooter
young woman whose remains mystify the coroner. Parts of her washed up
shore, while other parts were found in a dumpster by a homeless man.
coroner has determined that she was alive when she was being
Trask initially tries to put out of his mind, because it's unlikely
assigned to solve the case—only to find that it becomes an intrinsic
his latest challenges.
As indictments and court confrontations,
more severed limbs, and new evidence emerge, the investigative process
both politicized and personal. Trask comes to question who the real
this murder spree are, and how the victims are connected to each other.
Gannons, a deaf/mute husband and his hearing wife, seem to be at the
too many possibilies, even though they have a solid alibi for events
occurred during their absence.
As Trask and Detective Billy Graham draw
closer to a strange discovery, readers receive a satisfying blend of
procedural and courtroom proceedings which build mystery about more
challenge in Trask's professional world.
Once again, Marc Rainer has crafted an
exquisite mystery that operates on many different levels, from the
of a deaf/mute whose insights could provide unusual perspectives and
to the puzzling link between the homicides and drugs.
Rainer's ability to slowly build an evolving
story filled with surprising twists and the emotional tension of a
murderer creates a fast-paced story that creates a number of threads
together nicely, in the end.
Readers who enjoy investigative stories that
embrace not just investigations and motives but the sometimes-mercurial
of perps to elude justice will find The Grinding Wheel
a satisfying read.
It's filled with tension and revelations, and is highly recommended for
prior Trask readers and newcomers alike.
Return to Index
& God: Lines in the Sand
Light Switch Press
struggle combines with a murder mystery in Guns &
God: Lines in the Sand, which
focuses on gun law debate and use in
Arkansas. Author Rain Story is an Arkansas native. She is thus perhaps
perfect position to bring to life the Southern gun culture of the
its underlying sentiments and influences, both political and social.
neighboring families find that their very different approaches to
gun regulations and blossoming laws pit them against one another. As
unfolds, a simmering new Civil War erupts over these proposals and laws
arguments and perspectives evolve on both sides of the issues.
Jim and Laura Barton struggle to make their marriage work
when infidelity threatens everything they've built. The Rose family
has made its money on gun culture: "You can thank Fuzzy Rose
Gun Shows and the gun shop for that there fancy swimmin’ pool. I ain’t
been much into fancy things, but it does feel nice to sit in that water
Jim's struggle to keep his family together comes into direct
conflict with the Rose family's own family conflicts, tension erupts
them and spills into the community as plots, special interests, and gun
lobbying make their marks on individual lives.
focus on bringing this rural Southern community to life with its
culture, religious beliefs, and social milieu, creates a realistic and
compelling backdrop for one of the biggest political hot potatoes in
the characters, their lives and family influences, and underlying
greed and fear come to life. Realistic people come to terms with their
and traditions as changing American society introduces new pressures
concerns into their lives.
giving equal value to both sides in the Second Amendment argument,
story with plots and struggle between and outside of family circles,
the perspectives to life in a satisfying, balanced manner.
political thrillers who like their social inspections well grounded in
lives and belief systems of family and tradition will find Guns
Lines in the Sand not only
compelling, but thought-provoking on more than one level.
Return to Index
978-1-64548-075-4 $19.95 Hardcover/$8.99 ebook
missing girl at Waverly Prep School in Have You Seen
Me?, and the
new history teacher is talked into organizing an investigative team by
students. But Aubrey LeRoux didn't know the organization of
would draw further danger until its members began to hit the dust.
responsible for investigating their deaths, uncovering a dangerous
the process that challenges not only her job, but her life.
mystery is best imbibed by mature teen to new adult readers, who will
the student deaths and the story's problem-solving nature attractive
to the school she once attended, this time as a teacher guiding her own
of students, is nicely done as she contrasts her past experiences at
with the chance to create new and different opportunities for her
herself: "She wasn’t a student anymore, but an educated
and no longer subject to her former principal’s tirades. Aubrey
shaking hands as she walked the last few feet to the granite steps."
underlying angst about her time at Waverly and the disappearance of
the nineties combines with present-day challenges that eerily mirror
memories, Aubrey finds that her students and she herself have
become part of the dangerous events that threaten them all.
of this story will interest mature young adults who like stories of
politics, atmosphere, and mercurial threats. It stands out in crafting
intrigue surrounding a school that likes to do everything by the
when it comes to questioning its own trajectory and underlying
supporting a different explanation of past and present events.
excels in probing the psychological undertones of the prep school
and new teacher Aubrey's return to her past. She also does a fine job
evolving the intrigue that connects students and teachers to an
students deserve a better break than she got when she was fielding
peers at Waverly during her own formative years. Although she thinks
in a position to make a difference, her challenge lies in resolving
the past that have their ties to present-day events.
local history are probed by the determined team, readers receive an
of inevitable disaster much in the style of the classic film 'Picnic at
leads to the truth about a killer's identity and purposes lends to a
that will reach young adult to new adult audiences with a winning
of a preparatory school's pressures, politics, and murders.
done, the story wraps up most threads of the mystery, but leaves the
for another book.
Return to Index
Your Book Angel
drafted into the army during World War II in Jack
of Spades, he had only one priority: his personal survival.
with Jack's entry into combat but in 1942 North Africa, where a siege
Libyan port of Tobruk, a key acquisition for either side which could
war, is on the verge of either collapse or stalemate.
Major-General Hendrik Balzazar Klopper, Sergeant-Major Binns, and
introduce the background of this particular battle experience and its
and political impact as a savvy poker player becomes caught up in a web
conflict that precedes his entry into the war.
firsthand knowledge makes him a pawn in this game, but he wants more.
approach to strategic planning, his position, and his abilities hold
keys to changing the outcome of events, as Jack finds himself operating
the scenes in a manner he'd never predicted from his involuntary
job of contrasting Rommel's moves and focus with Jack's experiences and
struggles. The personal insights and details are part of what makes Jack of Spades more than the
dispassionate series of battle encounters that one might expect from
World War II piece. This approach sets it apart from others by
level of understanding about the major players in that war, and their
motivations and perceptions of the struggle: "Rommel
took a cup of soapy water, lifted it over his near-bald
head and poured it over himself. How good this feels, he told himself.
relished the relaxation he seldom enjoyed, and believed in experiencing
privations his men endured. It was another example why his men admired
him as a
leader. He did not dwell on this moment for he was a military man right
his socks. No sooner had he poured another cup of water over himself
mind back on the war. What else will the English do? he wondered."
World War II
readers will thus find Jack of Spades
a solid study in psychological as well as military and political
charting the course of the war through very different perspectives by
contrasting characters with very different objectives.
involving, and spiced with the kind of interpersonal insights that make
major players feel human and understandable, Jack
of Spades is recommended not so much for those seeking vivid
battle scenes, but for readers looking for depth and complexity that
standout probe of choices, consequences, and ultimate strategic
Return to Index
Bill Mesce, Jr.
Between the Lines Publishing
978-1950502271 $14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
foot post, three blocks along 11th Avenue in the 40s. The old hair-bags
him, You walk your beat, you keep your eyes open, you listen, you own your three blocks, the people who
live and work there are yours. His
uniform bought new for his first beat, still stiff and uncomfortable
months, sticks to him in the already hammering morning heat, chafes at
neck. His scalp bakes under the peaked cap, his feet are dying in the
captures the milieu of the 1980s in the New York City police department
police procedural like few others. It's a contrast in times and
juxtaposing the special and disparate interests of a NYPD detective at
of his career (who is determined to conclude his tenure by solving a
cold case) and a rookie newcomer certain that this effort will further
the reputation of an already-beleaguered police force.
Where other police stories
focus on crime and
problem-solving, Mesce's story is as much about the simmering clashes
the force as those which attack it from outside, both on the streets
social and political circles.
More than just the police
department comes to life, here.
As bar bouncer Kookie, police commissioner Ronnie, and forces that
streets (and often the outcomes of confrontations) coalesce, Mescue
same stark, gritty language, description, and dialogue to bring these
personalities and situations to life: “We’re
just trying to keep a good cop from jamming himself up. And we’re
another cop to help us.” At which Matos flamed, again, shooting to his
“You’re gonna throw that Brotherhood of the Badge bullshit
up at me? Screw that!
You’re not talking about fixing a coupla traffic
tickets, ya know!” “Actually,” Sid said, very calmly, “I
don’t think the kid’s asking you to do
anything. He’s asking is you to not
do anything.” “We want the chance to take him,” Ronnie
said, “bring him
back to our side of the river, let our department deal with him.”
Readers will enjoy the "you
are there" feel of
the story. This allows them to not just walk the beat with the cops,
experience their dilemmas and moral and ethical conundrums as they
investigations, make deals within and outside the force, and enter into
territories that are both mentally and physically challenging.
More so than the majority of
police procedurals, Mesce's
uncanny ability to bring alive all the special interests at work as
undercurrents of influence on final outcomes and career choices alike
makes Median Gray a powerful tale
The cops are not all good,
the bad guys aren't all bad,
and the blurry gray lines between them receive intense and involving
inspections. These devices keep readers thoroughly engaged and involved
diverse set of characters' different dilemmas.
very, very highly recommended as a
standout in crime fiction.
Return to Index
Black Rose Writing
978-1684337088 $19.95 Paper/$6.99 ebook
The Memory Bell opens with Detective Bennet James standing over a
grave in a small
town, considering the mystery of human remains uncovered in an old
investigation isn't his. Nonetheless, Ben feels oddly compelled to ask
questions...and the answers don't give him confidence that this case
receive the justice it deserves: "These things can happen
There are no rules for death.”
inherited a family heirloom, the memory bell, from her grandfather.
has led directly to her and the broken pieces of a bell she is
putting back together. It was the source of family controversy. Now, is
reason behind a suspicious death? Grace is the one person Ben can
trust, as a
series of puzzles build more questions than answers in his case. But,
secrets intrinsic to understanding what really happened behind the
messages Grace receives with each missing piece of the bell offer clues
case and reveals that more is going on than Ben ever
worth killing for.
around Grace and Ben, their different experiences and perspectives come
life. Family betrayal, pain, and close relationships that quickly turn
into strangers evolve in a fast-paced plot that will keep mystery
engaged and interested.
does a fine job of outlining twists and turns that keep readers, as
characters, guessing about the outcome and the connections between the
family heirloom and present-day threats. The bell has long been
Grace as a magical symbol of family connections. It's about to
transform into one
of a family ripped apart, unless Ben can find some answers.
driven by mystery and character growth and interactions, fueled by a
secret and changing relationships, and set in a small town replete with
interests, The Memory Bell will keep mystery
readers enthralled. The
story moves beyond a whodunit to probe the underlying bonds of history
connect a family.
intentions can turn into tribulations. The Memory Bell
explores how one
family becomes entangled in a dangerous pursuit of the truth, is hard
down, and is a highly recommended read with the power to reach beyond
audiences to appeal to readers of family stories and intergenerational
Return to Index
978-1-953910-08-0 $17.95 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
What do you
you discover the law firm you've been working for is corrupt, but you
afford to quit? Project Azalea
presents the dilemma faced by single mother and new paralegal Prudence
Jean-Batiste when she is forced to face the truth about her employer
enabling role in the company.
level of education, and being a black woman in a legal world dominated
men all hamper her ability to stand up for what is right. In reality,
does not have a lot of options. What she does
have is integrity. This leads her to confront impossible situations in
More so than
suspense stories, J.E. Conery brings to life the social, economic,
and political influences and choices that surround his
Prudence, his protagonist.
Orleans come to life under his pen and receive as strong a focus as
her observations. This incorporates a solid social inspection that
region Conery personally knows intimately.
influence on the city to Hurricane Katrina's game-changing devastation,
Prudence's life swirls with as much change as the region itself has
the book's title refers to an ambitious urban gentrification plan
the underlying goal to create: "...beautiful properties in depressed
desirable areas, constructing an infrastructure for business and
the revenue stream. The scheme would be repeated throughout the city
either cornered the market, or controlled those who would survive.
politicians would be bought along the way to smooth out any obstacles."
pointed out that there is a great deal of social and political history
facts to supplement Prudence's story. Readers who anticipate a personal
first-person experience should be prepared to enjoy many examinations
political influences on the region, which does a fine job of explaining
reactions, growth, and encounters.
More so than
stories about female sleuths and crime, J.E. Conery takes the time to
characters firmly in the modern world. While this asks of readers a
interest in historical backdrops and real-world cultural inspection, it
with a detailed, in-depth coverage that brings to life a host of
special concerns. These range from Theodore LeMoyne Jean-Batiste (Theo)
sparks that lead Prudence to begin her own investigation into the
interests operating behind the scenes of not just her job, but the
development and challenges.
juxtaposing Prudence's realizations, growth process, and discoveries
bigger issues affecting the growth, development, and management of New
culture and politics of the city and its corruption and justice systems
life. More than just another legal thriller, this focus on social
processes sets Project Azalea apart
from most other thrillers or investigative procedural novels. These
make it especially recommended for readers who enjoy intense, realistic
and historical inspection wound into their detective reading to
tension with a taste of real-world local issues.
Return to Index
Ottawa Press and Publishing
978-1-988437-73-6 $16.95 Paper/$3.99 ebook
may be the 10th addition to the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series, but the
pleasure of this and each of the other books is that they all stand
contributing to an expanding series without requiring prior familiarity
Sgt. Windflower's investigations or life.
Here, Windflower is on a
special assignment that brings
him to the big city, a very different environment than he's used to.
is to investigate a slew of missing girls as his wife recovers from a
car accident and does rehab at the nearby Miller Center.
As Sheila returns to school
and Windflower's girls adjust
to their new lives in St. Johns, his investigation ramps up as he fits
new community well aware that his job goes beyond fingering perps: "He was smiling as he drove the short
distance home and made sure to wave to everyone he saw along the way.
his job, he realized. Part of public outreach was to be out in the
a partner, not only as someone looking after the community or keeping
safe. For his new job as a police officer and a public outreach
had to do it all together. So, he
at everybody, even those who didn’t look like they wanted to be waved
made more of an effort with those people, just in case."
These vignettes focus as
much on family developments and
community interactions as the whodunit in a string of disappearances,
making Safe Harbour a
Windflower's adjustments to
new challenges in his new
life are realistically portrayed, his character is astute and clever,
cat-and-mouse games he plays with the criminal are absorbing.
Mike Martin takes the idea
of safety and danger and turns
the concepts on end to examine how a transplanted detective uncovers
meaning in his job, family, and interactions within the community.
Martin also takes the time
to fully describe facets of
this evolving life: "Supper was
simple and fast that evening. Afterward the whole family lounged around
living room until it was bath and story time for the girls. Amelia
livened up enough to play a little in her bath, and Windflower had to
story twice before she would settle down."
These offer satisfying
breaks from the investigative focus
and support a well-rounded vision of Windflower's approaches to home
Mystery readers looking for
a whodunit that extends well
beyond perp and his pursuers will find Sgt. Windflower a believable
simultaneously goes after a normal home life and a safer community. The
woven around this home life is very nicely done, containing just the
amount of tension and development to make for an inviting leisure read.
Return to Index
Moonshine Cove Publishing
The Silent Cardinal opens with a prologue in
which kidnapped nine-year-old
twins Lydia and Jessica are being held for ransom. The price of their
The first chapter introduces
the character of Robert
Stevens, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Office, who
accosted via phone on his way to work after his daughter's phone call
stage for a communiqué with disaster.
Charged with defusing a bomb
in a very busy public place,
Stevens finds that it is a warning of things to come.
The pivotal person
connecting these disparate threats of
threat is Benjamin Nicholas Siebert.
The effort to tap him for
information tests FBI GS-7
junior agent Roy Dietrich in many ways. He's not used to making citizen
pickups; he's not used to asking for assistance from mercurial men
homeless services; and he feels a special uneasiness about this
assignment: "It should have been
comforting that Siebert was familiar with the protocol, that he seemed
compliant enough, and that the assignment to bring him in was going to
successful. Overall it was a win. And yet the whole thing felt terribly
Former Marine Siebert
becomes personally entrapped
between a dangerous situation involving his son, a public threat, and
operations. He well knows how real and dangerous the stakes in this
But, does the FBI?
As intrigue turns from
public threat to threaten the
office of the President of the United States, the story draws ever
closer to a
dangerous truth beyond terrorism or personal threats, involving readers
tense blend of thriller and investigative processes that keeps good and
guys both fluid and at odds with one another.
The definitions of traitors,
private citizens caught up
in a plot beyond their ability to understand, and a mission that
military man in a dangerous maneuver with deadly personal consequences
changing. Ben might be the only person with not just answers, but
the quandaries that evolve.
J. Lee excels in creating a
gripping interplay between
characters and special interests. It should be advised that torture as
a part of this process as confrontation. Those who avid graphic violent
descriptions may wish to look elsewhere, but this action is wound into
overall cat-and-mouse saga in a convincing manner that supports the
is by no means over the top in relation to the evolving story line.
The powerful interplay of
influential people crafts a
thriller that is captivating, examining the symbolism of a silent
Ben's assumption of that position and how it tests his loyalty, and an
assignment gone awry.
Return to Index
Bernard F. Conners
British American Publishing
Sundown Dude opens (of course) at sundown, which is
closing time for the Lexington Avenue branch of the Manhattan Savings
It's also the perfect time for Harley-riding Charlotte to rob a bank.
expect was to encounter a teller who points out a literacy problem and
questions her language in an exchange that adds a dose of humor to
portends a read that won't be predictable: "After
a brief glance at the note, she pointed to the paper: “Look, you
robbery. There’s two b’s in robbery.” Mostly to herself, she murmured,
wonder he’s robbing banks. He can’t even spell!” “What?” exclaimed the
“Listen, sister, I didn’t come in here for a spelling lesson. I spelled
phonetically so a dummy like you would understand. Now, I want fifty
a hurry, understand? Put ’em in this bag!” The teller jumped back
as the deposit bag
was shoved at her. Concealed by the bag but protruding from one end was
dark muzzle of a small Glock 19 semiautomatic pistol. “You got thirty
The sight of the muzzle pointed at her chest brought a sobering
expression to the face of the teller. “Okay, okay. But what’s a
Benjy?” “Jesus Christ, lady. How the hell did you ever get this job?
hundred-dollar bill! Benjamin Franklin’s picture’s on the bill, dummy!”
success at her initial stickup brings a rush of satisfaction and
her life as an otherwise-staid single mother and part-time librarian.
has discovered a new career. But her alter ego runs head-on into her
relationships and former life as she runs in a motorcycle crowd that
sometimes-unwelcome attention and juggles her boyfriend John Rodgers,
unsettled by her desire to learn how to shoot a pistol because guns
involved in her schemes, humor keeps popping up to offer comic relief
unexpected moments: “C’mon, let’s go,”
she repeated. “I’ve got a load of writing to do.” She added with a
“How do you spell ‘groping’?”
Sundown Dude takes the topics of manipulation, money-making
schemes, and one woman's determination to rise above her station in
life to new
levels of intrigue, romance, fun, and life inspection.
crafts a novel that too closely mirrors her dangerous games, readers
her exploits and juggling of two lives makes for compelling reading.
Readers of crime
thrillers who look for irony, a dash of humor, and a complex character
hones her motivations from money-making to courting danger will find Sundown Dude an involving read that's
unique, hard to predict, and surprising in its definitive conclusion.
Return to Index
Peter Lazare and Sarah Lazare
Strong Arm Press
Testimony is a political thriller that adds a touch
of ironic inspection to its story line as Sam Golden, who became
with and walked away from the global justice movement he was part of
9/11, finds himself leading a less politically involved life when
changes once more.
utility regulator working for a mid-sized city in Springfield,
once again becomes politically involved when a gas pipeline explodes
forces begin invading his world in the name of Homeland Security
charged with locating supposed terrorists.
forces with an unlikely cast of characters, from a critical journalist
eye for exploring trouble to corporate outcasts who hold a jaded view
system he works for (and politics in general), Sam finds himself
the activism he'd once embraced—but from a different perspective.
corroding pipelines and special interests, his evolving connections
and the evolution of a plot which seems to cost him too much in
support systems makes for a winding investigative piece. The story goes
the usual whodunit thriller exploration to probe the impact of public
and political processes on individual lives: "Whatever
spark Sam had seen in her before was gone—she was
stone-cold, all business. Sam watched her in stupefied wonder. Moments
had sucked in deep breaths of relief to discover it hadn’t been her
ID, that she wasn’t the one who burned Isaac and stonewalled Allison.
instead of getting Wendy back, it turns out he had lost two
friends—pathetically, he thought, his only
two friends. Nowhere in this plot he had been building in
his head had
it occurred to him both Wendy and Greg may not be on his side."
can he trust
and rely on? As murky connections and special interests that hide under
cloak of terrorist threats emerge, Sam must learn anew whom to trust,
can call his friends, and how to live his life under the shadow of a
Lazare worked as a
utilities regulator in Illinois
for 20 years, and
first draft of this story before his death. Daughter Sarah Lazare added
investigative journalism expertise into the mix as she edited his final
and added to it, based on documents her father had left behind.
results in a collaborative gem that does an outstanding job of creating
memorable, realistic characters, exploring the political and
motivations of corporations and individuals, and adding elements of
inspection to keep the story fast-paced and involving.
Testimony's ability to explore all these elements in
the context of a gripping thriller lends it an authority and
keeps readers engaged and wondering about the outcome to the end. It's
recommended reading as a very different inspection of how the ultimate
of 9/11 and the War on Terrorism gives way to special interests and
cat-and-mouse games between them.
Return to Index
D. X. Varos, Ltd.
978-1-955065-02-3 $18.95 (paperback) $4.99 (ebook)
A Werewolf in Women's Clothing may sound
like it'll be a horror
story because werewolves are mentioned in the title—but to call it such
do it a disservice. It's really a thriller, a mystery, and a saga of
self exploration that blends supernatural elements into the story of
search for her true identity outside of the career she's carved for
the clothing industry.
the nightmare becomes all too real: "Tiffany
met her own eyes in the mirror as visions of blood and memories of
bubbled up. She slammed her eyes shut and tried to deny it, that hadn’t
her…had it? That vicious killer rampaging through the bedroom with no
no remorse. Bloodthirsty and angry. This wasn’t her, dirty hair and no
clothes she’d slept in and worn for days. This was all a very bad
It's also difficult to realize that self-control is a requirement that
goes out the window when Tiffany is forced to acknowledge the
her dangerous anger.
really a killer, and her suspicions are all in her imagination?
begins to come apart, she comes to realize that old and new assumptions
the line to conflict with everything she's come to identify as reality.
wolf's world, where others with similar abilities exist on the fringes
society. There, she begins to truly evolve a personality and
can gain her the kind of mate she deserves.
creation is not your usual werewolf or supernatural saga, but the story
woman coming into her alternate powers and identity. Davis does an
job of covering this transformation on many different levels,
process of self-realization and new interactions with others also in
situation which take Tiffany beyond her comfort zone and into a
different layers of werewolf society that Tiffany explores, and her
make a place for herself are nicely done, involving readers in a series
dilemmas over who she truly is and where she really belongs.
revenge to kidnapping and survival efforts, A
Werewolf in Women's Clothing adds dashes of humor and heated
passion to the
story that will delight women who enjoy multifaceted reads: "Fin crossed the room, quickly closing
the distance between them. They were so close she could feel his
his masculine scent. Her wolf loved it, purred and shivered. “Tiffany I
want you. I-my wolf wants you and I won’t be able to just
let you go, I will fight and I will follow. Know this, if you choose to
Silas or if you even choose to go off on your own, I will never be able
that happen. My wolf won’t let me do anything else and damnit,” He
to him then, smashing his mouth against hers in an urgent violent kiss
sent her wolf into a frenzy."
If given the
opportunity to gain her strictly human life back...would Tiffany leap
A Werewolf in Women's Clothing is a story
that works well for
readers of intrigue to romance. It will delight readers with its close
inspection of a woman who must challenge all her assumptions to
her choices in being a werewolf, bonding to family, and living her life
Return to Index
A Whisper Came
978-0-9978708-8-6 $4.99 Kindle
centers upon a lighthouse in Cape Cod, where young reporter Stacie
been sent to write about the lighthouse's history and mysteries after
of an unidentified woman found floating near the town of Chatham.
Searching for local color
and interest to round out this
discovery, Stacie uncovers a deeper mystery that carries her on a
uncertain and dangerous waters.
As facts begin to emerge
about the body, more puzzles
come to light. Could the dead woman have entered the water seven or
from where she was found? Some think it was a suicide. Others think it
body from the past, where a fishing village was abandoned a hundred
as the body is clearly not from modern times. And what do the quirky
of Chatham have to do with these events?
As the case remains open and
rests on the unreliable
memories of charter boat owner Carl Lane, Stacie feels lost: "She had held out hope that Carl could
help her, but he was a blank. And she was alone again, drifting in a
What does the body have to
do with Whitewash Village and
Stacie's own challenges in her life?
Keith Yocum creates an
engaging story based on a murder
mystery and a young reporter's life, intersecting the two themes in a
satisfying, realistic drama that proves hard to put down.
The romance, adventure,
discovery, and intrigue power a
hard-hitting story of a young woman who dares to push ahead where
back, changing her life and challenging those around her in the process.
Murder mystery enthusiasts
will find this story excels in
creating a sense of place, purpose, and intrigue that keeps them
guessing to the end.
Return to Index
Black Rose Writing
Author Website: https://jennyjaeckel.com/boy%2C-falling
Boy, Falling is a stand-alone companion novel to Jenny Jaeckel's House of Rougeaux, and will reach prior fans and newcomers with a historical fiction piece about three Rougeaux family members who are connected by blood ties, ambition, and strange dreams of a boy who has been 'falling for a long time'.
In 1895 Montreal, young Gerard becomes privy to a secret that will drive much of his future. As he struggles to realize his ambition to become an artist in Paris years later, he also comes to embrace his differences as strengths.
Jaeckel's story covers race relations and color issues both within the family and in the community at large. She is exceptionally adept at capturing moments in which a boy discovers these adult perceptions as they relate to his identity in his family: “Whole lot of milk in that tea.” That’s what folks said of colored people whose complexions were light. Could be “a drop” of milk in the tea, as was maybe said of Gerard, or a whole lot, which could constitute a threat of the vilest kind, especially when that person was lighter than his parents. The chill now penetrated the back of his skull along with a brand-new thought--what if the White Lady was his mother? Was he as light as all that? In truth, no. His difference to that of his family was not greatly marked. But what Gerard wouldn’t have given to look more as they did. If only, by some magic, one could take a straw and suck out the single, cold, unwanted drop of milk that had spoilt him before he was even born. Even if the matter of his color, he knew, was hardly the only error contained within his skin."
His trajectory in life is marked by family experience, expectations, and secrets. This is captured in fine prose and images that successfully portray influences on choices and their consequences for adulthood: "If Gerard felt troubled at times with such questions, or Claude’s intention to go away to Berlin and make a life there, passion stretched his heart open with hope. Who knew what was possible, after all? Hadn’t life surprised him a thousand times? At other moments, doubt made its unwelcome appearance, causing him to worry about risks recklessly taken, cautioning him to pull back and slow down."
The story includes the struggles of his half-sister Jeannette and her two children, as well as the politics and economics of Europe and America in the 1920s. This gives the family history a full-flavored feel that will delight readers who look for more than singular experiences.
As art and ambition change the lives of Gerard, Maudie, and others, the tale adds a touch of magic and discovery that encourages each character to rise above their upbringing and social expectations to realize their talents and life ambitions: “Just look at all of this,” she said, spreading her arms and pointing out with the paintbrush. “Just feel it. An artist must paint her feelings. She feels the world, do you see? And then she paints it.” Maudie had never thought of it like that. In fact, she hadn’t thought about drawing or painting much at all, it was just what she did. The paper, the colors, were like magnets that drew her to them, her hands longed for them and her pictures grew from there like long, lovely exhales. But now that Miz Paraibel said this, about feeling the world, perhaps it was so."
The result is a an outstanding blend of historical novel, family history, social inspection, and mystery that both continues the story begun in House of Rougeaux and stands nicely on its own. It's an evocative, compelling story of personal and social change.
Readers who enjoy family epics
will relish the
connections and intrigue that make Boy, Falling a
fine story of
ambition, accidents, recovery, and revised courses in life.
Return to Index
Deliberate Justice: The
9781736914014 $17.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
The American Way opens with an injury. Count Mikhail
has been wounded in a fight with the grand duke and is saved by his
advises him to leave Russia to escape retribution. He boards a Yankee
ship filled with Chinese immigrants, both slave and free, bound for
where he's nursed back to health and looks forward to the promise of a
in a young new land.
There, he faces continued
threats in San Francisco for
very different reasons, and escapes death several times, only to find
new land is replete with danger.
Mikhail's recovery from new
attacks involves more than
physical healing. He is charged with changing his attitude and approach
in America. He is no longer a Count, and must stifle his pompous
views of his place in the world if he is ever to have a life not filled
angst and conflict.
holds many twists and turns, marrying social inspection with political
historical facts, adding intrigue and romance into the process, and
broad cast of characters that, under another author's hand, might have
Thomas Holladay brings his
characters to life and
embraces the social and political motivations for their actions in a
that requires no prior knowledge of the times in order to prove readily
understandable: "Her father had been
a very fine pharmacist, down Canton way. Many British officers had
him over their own military doctors. Had the Boxers not forced them to
north, she and her father would still be living in comfort near the
headquarters of the British colonials."
Mikhail is not always a
likeable character, and he
changes slowly. Even as others try to help him, his attitudes and
often push away the kinds of people who are best suited to help him
survive: "How long have I been here?" These
filthy Chinese peasants did not understand Russian and Mikhail did not
Chinese. Why should he bother to learn Chinese? These backward people
hope spoke only gibberish.
These contrasts between
different cultures, social and
political perspectives, and the adventures that take place during
transformative process bring the story to life, giving it an edge and
over many historical novels. Mikhail must change immensely to make a
for himself that embraces others not of his social class.
The fact that he continually
finds and sometimes even
courts and defies danger during his journey creates a riveting story
twists and turns.
is highly recommended reading for anyone who would absorb social
and history at a higher level, as Molly and Count Mikhail
bring their world to life.
Return to Index
End of the
978-1-09835-215-8 $16.59 Paper/$6.99 ebook
Contemporary fiction readers
who look for stories of
strong women who face romantic and personal hurdles in life will find End of the Race the compelling story of
an Olympic hopeful's derailment when her husband vanishes.
Annika Wolfson is in
training to be on an Olympic team
when her coach and husband Brian disappears on a sailing trip. Left to
their six-year-old daughter and her waning interest in going for gold
face of personal tragedy, Annika must muster her courage and
fight for what she wants on two different levels simultaneously.
Either of these endeavors
could occupy her full-time,
much less being a dual parent to her child, but she's also recovering
miscarriage of their second child. It's almost too much to bear—but
she must. The only question becomes one of priorities.
As she embarks on a search
for her missing husband, more questions
arise of who else is involved and what really has happened.
As she probes not just her
husband's life but those
around them, Annika begins to realize he's not the only one who
his life and its connections: "Annika
put the last page down and leaned back. My
God, Steph. Her mind searched for words to give the shock
didn’t know her. Had never known her. Her protector. But not this
released such passion onto the page. Where in her super-responsible,
straight-backed sister had the writer hidden all these years? But maybe
hadn’t hidden. It was Annika who’d disappeared."
As the truth of family
relationships and her
husband's state of mind emerge, a final shock changes Annika's
begins to change her approach to life itself on a fundamental level.
Readers of women's fiction
who enjoy stories of
challenge, transformation, and already-strong women forced to examine
foundations of their beliefs and lives will find End
of the Race weaves mystery, intrigue, and self-inspection in
vivid, realistic manner.
The story grabs reader
attention from the start and
maintains its hard-hitting twists and turns to the end. This
is thoroughly engrossing and highly recommended for women's fiction
seek tales firmly rooted in relationship changes and new beginnings.
Return to Index
Harriman House Ltd.
978-0-85719-892-1 $29.00 Hardcover/$21.75 ebook
Excess and Crisis Through the Eyes of a Hedge Fund Macro Trader
in any business and investment book collection as an insider's guide to
processes and pitfalls. It provides a powerful, personal account of
a trader during the pandemic, market crash, and the market's
recovery using a fictional format that makes for easy reading and a
understanding of business concepts.
These are economic times
unprecedented in history. Most
books from stock market traders reveal personal perspectives on the
but Colin Lancaster's is a much broader consideration of not just his
a trader, but the economic, moral, and ethical pressures replete in its
As the circumstances of the
2020 market crash and
recovery unfold, readers are given a ringside seat to global macro
activities, perceptions, and challenges.
The novel opens in October
of 2019, a milieu of the late
stages of an economic bubble of opportunity before the Covid crisis
the markets. A handy timeline of events affecting the markets for that
introduces the chapter and places Lancaster's words in perspective—a
approach, in contrast to too many other market coverages which assume a
of familiarity that many readers don't have.
As events unfold, Lancaster
spices his story with emotion
and passion also usually lacking in economic books. This creates a
factual examination laced into the subject that will allow even those
minimal stock market interest or knowledge to become absorbed and
the history: "It wasn’t about the
politics, or the fact that we had taken a long position in the Turkish
which was about to get jammed down our throats. The Big D, the leader
free world, in his “great and unmatched wisdom,” had openly threatened
world power in a mere 140 characters. How could the US president post
social media? Was this all a dream, some sort of parallel universe? A big
mistake? But fuck it. We’re in a ten-year bull market and are starting to make money again. A lot of money. It’s been a while since we had a month like this. It’s time to celebrate."
This paragraph is just one
example of the blend of facts,
history, and economic and emotional response to them that powers a
solid account of the times.
As Lancaster moves through
the remainder of 2019 and the
events that unfold in 2020, readers will find his evolving dilemmas
(a word that isn't usually used to describe a stock market book).
observations, and ability to capture not
just his individual perceptions, but the economic and political
around him, lends to a recap that is vivid, successfully capturing the
underlying influences and feel of choices made during these times.
His ability to present such
descriptions for those who
either didn't live in this milieu or don't quite remember the specifics
makes the story accessible to a much wider range of readers than those
current economic interests alone: "A
new year calls for new ideas. Wipe the slate clean and start fresh. The
place for us to begin is with our structural views. We need to be
It’s important to start the year off positive. There’s nothing worse
trying to dig yourself out of an early hole while it’s cold and dark
hours a day. The year 2019 was an amazing one for the stock market.
bonds staged a huge run. They had their biggest gains in more than two
The S&P 500 soared 30%. Tech stocks were up 40%. The bond rally
yield on the benchmark ten-year Treasury note down by three-quarters of
percentage point. Everything went up in price. Stocks are at all-time
Housing is at all-time highs. Unemployment is at a fifty-year low."
The result is a vivid
insider's guide that does more than
trace a wildly fluctuating market environment. Fed
Up! captures yet another nuance of Covid's impact on the
and should be considered a basic acquisition not just for business,
and economic collections, but history and social issues holdings alike.
details a heady, accessible, thought-provoking romp through a crisis
affected and continues to change the markets and the world.
Return to Index
Catherine Finley leaves her dream job
behind when she is called upon to help her ailing father, taking a
position as dean in a college. There, she falls prey to her boss's
advances and learns of his history of abuse...a history the college
is trying to cover up to protect the school's reputation.
As visits to
father and her increasing angst at her new job collide, Catherine
network of secrets and actions that not only threaten her personal
and her job, but her family relationships, as well.
Catherine's reflection on how (and if) she should tell her tale. Should
it be a
fictionalized account, or a factual memoir? And if these stories are
how will they affect the students and others who became embroiled in
controversy at the college in the previous year?
"Why do some writers feel comfortable—or is it
their stories as memoirs, anxious to get them down on paper before
forgetfulness obscures the details? Others need the veil of fiction,
constructing their reality so readers can see the character as a whole,
a fragmented life in progress."
in reflecting on her experiences, the nightmares she still struggles
present-day 2005, and their lasting impact on all involved direct the
her life as she reflects on the past and makes decisions about her
future in Grace.
permeate the story and create time shifts of information that provide
background to Catherine's present-day world and dilemma. These are
italics and serve to embrace and round out the characters and their
experiences, adding extra dimensions of inspection to create depth and
background for the events that unfold.
to probe the foundations of relationships, secrets, past influences,
legacy of abuse lends a realistic tone and perspective to a story that
women will readily relate to.
her not once, but numerous times, Catherine wonders if she will ever
courage to confront her darkest moments. Her choices affect not only
and life, but the entire college.
faced family and career conundrums will find Grace
a compelling saga. It winds through and forms connections
between abuse, past and present circumstances, and a career woman who
confront close-held secrets on several levels.
powered both by a father's revelations and a daughter's determination
sexual harassment in the workplace, and will be welcomed by women who
in Catherine some of their own struggles and conflicts.
Return to Index
Guns & Smoke
Lauren Sevier & A. Smith
978-1734402346 E-Book: $6.99, Paperback: $19.99
Lauren Seiver: www.laurensevier.com
A. Smith: www.abbielynnsmith.com
Volume 1 of the Fools
Adventure Series, Guns & Smoke,
readers with a dystopian romance. Beautiful outlaw Bonnie is running
cruel fellow outlaw just as Jesse finds himself leaving the family farm
way he hadn't anticipated—in the aftermath of a murderer's rampage,
destroyed his family and left him in charge of his younger brother.
When the two meet, Bonnie
finds herself helping Jesse
against her better instincts and her own best interests. The two become
to reckon with as they confront adversaries, each other, and their own
ambitions and efforts to survive.
Readers anticipating an
old-time Western set in the past
will find Guns & Smoke
within a modern backdrop. Bonnie is not above swearing, the M9 gun is a
from the 1980s, and the busy Vegas strip reflects modern times.
Having a Western-tinged
story set in the present may seem
an unusual device, but it more than works well here, as the characters
with their world and each other, often commenting on or reflecting its
as in this fine Vegas scene: “Step right
up! Only two brass bits and you can own a piece of the Salt Lake bombs!
and radioactive—" “—all the way from the Borderlands. You’ve never
anything like this!” “And the Lord sent fire raining down from the sky,
Culling, punishing us for our sins.” The cacophonous din of the market
overwhelmed my senses as I searched for my mark in the crowd. I snorted
derisively at the hysterical man preaching on the corner. The Culling
any God-like retribution. It was what happened when greedy, entitled
access to nuclear bombs."
The shifting perspectives
between Bonnie and Jessie are
clearly outlined in chapter headings, making it easy to absorb the
perceptions they bring to their lives and each other.
That the guns, outlaws, and
conflicts can occur as easily
in modern society as it once did in the past is a tribute to Lauren
& A. Smith's storytelling prowess, which translates many of the
and feel of the Old West into the New West of modern times.
It's a world in which there
are still gunfights, outlaws,
rebel women, and love. It's a world that will especially engage readers
Western novels more than used to traditional stories. This audience
delight in seeing their reincarnation here, in a modern society that
these devices just as easily as it once did in the early days of
Western fiction readers
tired of the usual approaches
will find a revised interest and excitement to this story, which neatly
translates these appealingly familiar scenarios for a different kind of
just as adept at tension, romance, and adventure as the traditional
Return to Index
979-8718984675 $10.99 Paper/$6.99 Kindle
Heavenly is a story about finding the
purpose in life past death
and reincarnation. It tells of middle-aged John, who is killed in 2019
comes back to life as baby Peter.
John was friendly to people and always liked to "move forward and do
better" in his job. When he dies, he meets God and receives a "life
review" where he learns that he never truly sacrificed anything of
for anyone else.
As he learns
in Heaven and that his life has been left incomplete on Earth, he
different ways of measuring success and the chance to redo his life
opportunities and choices.
sister Meredith from his previous life and gains new insights about his
on this world and in his past life, Peter grows up in many innovative
finding a different approach to how he reacts to others.
Thomas Duffy's thought-provoking literary piece will attract philosophical and spiritual readers; especially those able to set aside more traditional visions of God and life's purpose to absorb a story of reincarnation and rediscovery.
adept at pointing out how the second chance God gives John doesn't lead
Heaven, but to a better place on Earth as he forms new connections and
revised purposes to living.
and thought-provoking, Heavenly is
fine novel portraying the journey of one man who has a rare second
re-envision himself and change his world.
Return to Index
Hello, Rest Of My Life
978-0-9848442-6-5 $16.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
Imagine you're in your 70s,
married for nearly 40 years,
and one day find yourself in the past—young again, and struggling with
acting and writing ambitions that once fueled your imagination before
Rest Of My
Life is both a time travel journey and a self-inspection
around Danny Maytree's extraordinary experiences as he re-lives his
he met his wife Samantha.
The proof of superior
writing lies in the little details
as much as a story's overall premise. Rick Lenz incorporates astute
between past experience and modern knowledge to give the account a fine
atmosphere of discovery: "I go
upstairs to my office to do some writing. I’m not sure what, but I’ve
got to do
something. I sit down at my
… Look at that. I didn’t think about
it before: a Smith Corona typewriter. I don’t know if
that company has
gone out of business in the time I come from or not, but wouldn’t
them be a little like having a job with the Bubonic typewriter company?
of the millions of people who will be affected by COVID-19. I consider
something about the future pandemic, but I can’t imagine what exactly
Lenz himself has a
background in many of the show biz
areas he depicts that surround Danny with difficult political and
challenges. He is thus in the perfect position to explore these
nuances through the course of a story that re-examines all kinds of
relationships and expectations, past and present.
To whom does Danny owe
loyalty: his future self and his
wife, or his now-present-day youthful time-traveling incarnation? This
other conundrums lend this story a moral and ethical edge not usually
in time-travel tales: “Did you come from
another time too?” I laugh, as if I’ve ttempted a bad joke. The joke
work, but that doesn’t stop me. “Do you know how much
life is not what most of us are used to thinking it is?”
She smiles, studies me for a long moment, then says in low velvety
do we get to have fun with these bodies in the meantime?” I’m married. Hasn’t
she been listening? And why hasn’t she reacted with more
surprise to my story? I don’t see how there’s any chance Valory
Valentine is a
coincidence. She looked me up in the Thomas
Guide. She shouldn’t be having this strange effect on me.
I’m in a
restaurant in 1974 with this enigmatical woman, who looks like she
of a Pedro Almodóvar movie, even though Señor Almodóvar is still a
I’ve been married to the love of my life for nearly forty years, and
strange woman is giving me an erection."
As Valory weaves into his
new life, Danny questions his
love, the meaning of his time-travel experiences, and its lasting
impact on a
woman not necessarily of his choosing: “We
don’t know why we do most of what we do. I don’t know why you chose to
on this journey you think you’re on. I’m pretty sure you did it by
unconsciously maybe, but by choice. As to how
you did it—if you
actually did it—I have no more of a clue than you do.”
Readers of time travel
stories are in for a special
treat, because Hello, Rest Of My Life isn't
your usual saga of becoming stuck in the past and searching for the way
Its special blend of philosophical and moral dilemmas, flavored with
a heavy dash of romance, sets it apart from other, more singular
events give readers plenty of thought-provoking moments as Danny
truths in the past, that he'd never allowed himself to consider in his
life with Sam.
Return to Index
Christine M. Whitehead
ASIN #B094G5ZV8F $10.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
Daughter crafts the story of Finn Hemingway, the fictional
writer Ernest Hemingway, in a fine father/daughter tale that will
intrigue Hemingway's fans.
Finn's famous father, though
ill, has finished his book
and dedicated it to Finley, the wellspring of much of his literary
He's also written her a final letter that requests her pride in his
achievements and her heritage.
As Finn remarks in the onset
of her first-person story: "The highs and
lows of living with him
were over and the loss of both was as excruciating as a finger bent to
breaking point, then twisted off to be sure you appreciated the pain
As she proceeds to review
the driving force, personality,
and influence of a literary figurehead in her life, her Papa, Finn
pain and pleasure in the confused family interactions which intersect
own world, both in childhood and as an adult: "I
was also stewing about my father. He wasn't attending this
shindig. Jack was the first of us kids to get hitched, and it seemed to
owed him an appearance."
Finn's life revolves around
finding her place in society
in an era where women are not afforded the same considerations as men,
as in a family where love connections always seem to end badly.
As she pursues her dreams,
struggles with angst over her
father, and tackles her fears, readers receive a fine 'what if' story
revolves around family, inherited patterns of adaptation, and forces of
"I do love him, but I just know I'll
ruin it. I'd rather remember it this way as long as possible rather
than risk a
Christine Whitehead does an
excellent job of winding the
realities of writer Hemingway's fiery personality with the fictional
of a daughter who must make her own way in life under the umbrella of
steeped in Hemingway's personality
and a fictional daughter's challenges, Hemingway's
Daughter is especially recommended for fans of the literary
figure who are
interested in exploring the glue of what held Hemingway's family
the possibilities of a different approach had a daughter been involved.
Return to Index
Eileen Haavik McIntire
Amanita Books (Imprint of Summit Crossroads Press)
978-1-7368214-0-4 $16.95 Paper/$2.99 ebook
rob the head of the American Nazi Party in the 1960s? Certainly not the
Sue Millard. But Sue stumbles into a plot that tests her morals and
determination in The House on Hatemonger
Hill, a story which will delight mystery and history readers
people fall into dangerous situations? Sue is a junior at the
Maryland, so she's a new adult just starting to explore the
people and politics in the 1960s.
she becomes a
dangerous form of femme fatale, delivering pizzas and drugs under the
attracting male interest, Sue and the thieves she's fallen in with plot
Hood-style heist whereby they steal from the rich and donate the cash
rights organizations to make a difference.
stirs up a hornet's nest which holds threats to her family, as well: "If Rockwell’s men couldn’t get at me,
would they attack my parents? They were desperate and angry and
religious fervor to their mission. We thought we were justified in
them. The way they were threatening me made me think hijacking,
probably torture were all on their agenda. Rockwell wanted his money
been lucky to escape his men so far, but I was angry and scared."
ensue, Sue finds herself not only in a dangerous situation, but
her friends really are.
The House on Hatemonger Hill offers an engrossing tale of suspense,
treachery, and bad choices made for good reasons. This tale of ordinary
involvement in a heist embraces activism, the American public's ideals
evolving confrontations with conspiracies and justice, and civil rights
that spark unethical behaviors on all sides. The adaptation of the
bill in 1964 is the focal point of a social and political confrontation
enhances the suspense and real-world dilemmas presented throughout the
much as it's
a story of good intentions gone awry, The
House on Hatemonger Hill is also a gripping saga of one
questionable alliances and the impact of events on Hatemonger Hill on
sides of the civil rights issues of the times. McIntire's focus on
figure and head of the US Nazi party, George Lincoln Rockwell, enhances
impact and feel of events.
readers with special interest in a suspense story that embraces civil
activism and gang activity will find The
House on Hatemonger Hill hard to point down—especially
because of its
strong characterization and the dilemma of Sue's complex involvement
kinds of people operating on both sides of the law.
Return to Index
In a Grove
978-1-7333202-7-6 $14.95 Paper/$2.99 ebook
readers who choose In a Grove of Maples
for its pioneer story will find that this first book in the Sheltering
series holds a compelling series of insights that go beyond the usual
exploration of a husband and wife's new frontier life in the late 1800s.
immigrant's story—Beryl and Edward Massart have sojourned over
miles from Quebec to Wisconsin to claim land sight unseen, with its
maple trees and a new beginning.
It's also a
story, because the ties that bind these two embrace romance despite an
introductory diary entry that laments the 'tornado of differences' that
driven them apart from their love of one another. The journey has
much, fulfilling Beryl's dreams of "traveling and living somewhere
than the land she grew up on."
new wife Beryl faces many changes and the unexpected departure of her
from her life when he accepts a job as a teamster in a logging camp,
his pregnant wife alone to tend the animals on their homestead as
religious, because Beryl often turns to God to question His intentions,
influence on their lives, and the unexpected courses it has taken: "My
heart prays and longs for a new path with Edward. Please God, let him
the same thing."
investigate the psyches of husband and wife, exploring not only the
realities of disparate personalities who face completely new,
conditions; but showing how adversity tears them apart, introducing
and possible dangerous directions into the young family's new world.
at probing the roots of these social, spiritual, and psychological
She crafts a vision of new beginnings and the possibility of dreams
turns it upside down with many unexpected twists and turns.
truths about life and passes them on to her children, readers receive a
story about adaptation, survival, and how love operates on many
fiction and Christian historical romance will find In
a Grove of Maples an engrossing story of 19th century rural
that examines matters of heart, ethics, morality, and belief as Beryl
this new world with few resources other than her faith and love. The
concludes with an unexpected twist that comes full circle to leave the
open for more.
Return to Index
Inside the Grey
978-1-68046-957-8 Kindle $4.99; Paperback $13.99
Historical romance readers will find Inside
the Grey a moving story of the Civil War and its effects that
lives of wealthy landowner friends and neighbors Brayden and Fletcher: "Brayden
needed no crystal ball to see conflagration and bloodshed—nations,
counties, and families torn asunder, hemorrhaging with wounds that
heal. Neither he nor the others was ready to be drawn into the world
their properties. They didn’t hate the Yankees; they just wanted peace."
When Union leaders kidnap attorney and
friend Caleb Jenkins, accusing him of hiding a rebel convict, conflict
Brayden into the war with a personal attack that imparts the message
nobody can remain neutral—or safe.
From Brayden's confrontation with the world
outside his familiar and privileged life to
Kawley Chatterton's urgent
mission and struggles with trauma (which leads her to draw a pistol on
Brayden as she searches for a brother who has also been kidnapped), the
takes a series of twists and turns. Characters ride into traps, take on
confrontations and struggles outside their familiar world, and find
strangers can quickly become enemies or lovers as the blanket of war
Bobbi Groover injects clues to these characters'
changes and perceptions to add an extra dimension of understanding and
into their encounters with one another: "She knew the ‘miss’
disappear as soon as they reached the others, but it surely felt nice
The small kindness reminded her of another time long ago when life had
sense. For the moment, why shouldn’t she allow the dashing, elegant
to bear the brunt of the hunt for a day or two?"
Brayden keeps a 'grey book' journal that
traces his journey, leading Fletcher to question secrets that never
seem to go
beyond the written word: "...perhaps if you say it out loud
to a written page, you can scatter it to the wind. It will be gone, and
mind won’t be shackled inside the grey journal.” He rose and retrieved
bandage from the saddlebag. Brayden watched his friend’s hand rest
on the corner of the grey book."
From Brayden's struggle with loss to
Kawley's courage in confronting war and romance, Groover brings her
to life. She adds nuances set against the backdrop of war that reach
embrace individual struggle as yet another thread of interpersonal
that reside beneath the political and military face of world-changing
the Grey is not your typical
Civil War account. It
moves from the wartime milieu into the lives, challenges, and struggles
disparate individuals who each grasp pain and solace too tightly.
grey journal is both his confessional and solace. It may also be the
key to his
heart that ultimately frees him from the past.
This love story's unexpected progression
against the Civil War's evolution and, particularly, its feisty and
characters in Brayden and Kawley makes for a read that romance readers
find afire with purpose, passion, and perceptions that go beyond the
Civil War saga.
the Grey is highly recommended
for romance readers
who like their history strong, personal, and supercharged with
recoveries and love.
Return to Index
Kind of Hush
A Kind of
Hush is about a moment in
changes a family forever,
surrounding it in tragedy, mystery, and unspoken challenges. Its
of intrigue and soul-searching engages readers from the beginning,
with four-year-old Gabriel Mackie's discovery of a mysterious 'whisper
which is "brimming with daydreams, obscured from reality."
His brother is gone, leaving
heartbreak, division, and silence in a family that once reverberated
laughter and closeness.
The blame game is being played
between all as a daughter accused of inadvertently killing her brother
responsible by a mother who, in turn, is resented by a grieving father.
As for Gabe, normalcy has
changed forever as his mother enters counseling and distances from her
leaving her husband to set aside his business and try to parent the
Time passes, and Gabe finds
himself the focal point of another tragedy and the mystery that
Only, this time, an encounter at the Gorge brings a threat from a
changes everything. Once again, husband Matt's world is changed forever.
What does Gabe's whisper room
have to do with these two deaths? It has become a place for him to
reach out to
a spiritual world in which his mother and brother are still with him.
involves his father and others in a magic and mystery that heals,
and brings new hope into their lives.
JoDee Neathery's literary novel
embraces psychological and spiritual elements, injecting mystery into
to add a compelling note of intrigue that laces together the growth and
recovery process experienced by Gabe and those around him.
She also adds moral and ethical
dilemmas into her tale, exploring the "kind of hush" that represents
the gray area between right and wrong decisions and actions. This
leads readers to consider the foundations of what it takes to forgive
on from tragedy.
With its compelling notes of
crisis, hidden pain, and discovery, A
Kind of Hush winds through a circle of lives connected by
decisions, and change, bringing with it a breath of fresh air as it
each character's journey towards a different life even as they long to
to the life they once had.
Readers of stories of growth and
recovery will find A Kind of Hush
inviting, intriguing, and enlightening.
Return to Index
John Alvah Barnes, Jr.
$4.99 ebook; $16.99 paperback
find Rollover's story of a newly
disabled medic's revised purpose in life to be compelling. It embraces
the recovery process of a man who loses use of his legs in an accident,
challenges facing the PTSD which emerges when he seemingly is on the
road to a
newly purposeful life (becoming a docent at the Smithsonian National
More so than
stories about disability and recovery, Rollover
embraces a broader spectrum of concerns in the process. It highlights
emphasizes that physical recovery and renewed purposes aren't just the
challenges facing those whose lives are traumatized and vastly changed.
that Jay Barlow isn't alienated from but is helped by a loving wife and
children) sets his story apart from others...but readers receive an
surprise when Jay links the museum's holdings to an experience he'd had
timeslip event, a real connection, or fantasy? Jay explores all these
possibilities as he becomes more intensely involved in the history of
1918: "Were my experiences real or were they
just happening in my head? I'd asked that
question of myself a thousand times, and I kept coming
back to the same thing—it felt real. I'd asked Billy the question, and
seemed to think that it didn't matter. “Real or not, you’ve found a
heal.” That was all that he had said to me."
new to him, yet all too real...but his wife thinks it's part of the
suffered. Therapist Frank Turnbull also tries to help him: “It means that we are all predisposed to view the
world the way that we
do. Our worldview is shaped by our experiences, or lack thereof. It’s
our likes and dislikes—what we’re interested in and what we’re not.
influenced by the people we come in contact with. And then, of course,
the factor of people seeing what they want to see.” “You’re saying that
all in my head?” “I can’t make that decision. That’s for you to
that I can do is to try to help you with your perspective. Because
“Is everything. Yeah, yeah, I get it. It’s up to me to decide if I’m
the delusion that he's been transporting himself to World War I and
in a vintage aircraft from the era? Or is this a key to a full recovery
more meaningful life and understanding of past and present traumas?
choose Rollover will find the
of PTSD, history, recovery processes, and challenging new realities is
thought-provoking and engrossing. It's impossible to tell what road Jay
family will take during this long process, and there are many
to the tale (including a surprise conclusion) that provide delightful
enable him to leave the past behind? Can his relationship with Debbie
revitalized during his process of rediscovery?
many of the
questions those recovering from traumatic injury face on a daily basis.
experiences, while delving into the fantastic, embrace the entirety of
process in a satisfying manner that holds compelling lessons, while
entertaining and educating readers about World War I.
approach of this historical, psychological fiction story will attract
seek stories that are unpredictable and delightfully involving on
levels. Fans of traditional timeslip sagas will be especially intrigued
delighted by the juxtaposition of reality and possibility that this
Return to Index
So You Think You're a Match
ASIN: B094LF7Z3C $3.99 ebook
Readers of modern romance
who like more than a dash of
humor added to the mix will find So You
Think You're a Match a fun story of how a staid city planner
romance with a determined but happy-go-lucky standup comedian who will
anything to pay for his little sister's cancer treatments.
On the very first date, both
admit that they are an
unlikely match for romance. They couldn't be more different; not just
personalities and approaches to life, but in ethical and moral
Bishop Riley will cross in a heartbeat to help his sister Daisy, and
career woman Harlow holds to be sacred.
Harlow never thought she'd
become involved with a man who
thinks committing fraud in the name of doing good is perfectly okay.
spent her adult life recovering from her parents' impact on it: "Normally, she loved strolling these
halls, with their big framed prints of sunny neighborhoods and
forest walking trails. It was the world she helped build, and the
three-dimensional embodiment of the childhood she had always wanted to
The hallways of her office were like a bridge between her fantasy world
reality. But this was the Friday of the month when the unframe-worthy
her reality intruded the most undeniably into the better life she’d
build for herself after it all came apart senior year of high school."
Visiting two parents in
prison as an adult keeps her
grounded in the certainty that she has cultivated a life that won't
their illegal footsteps...until Bishop enters the picture to change
with the biggest secret of all.
Michelle Hazen paints an
engaging portrait of a woman who
has a vested interest in controlling everything in her life to assure
stability and that she stays on the right side of the law.
The realistic encounters,
humor, and the irony of a
career woman who is pulled into a situation she thought would never
to her cautious approach to life and those who get close to her makes
compelling saga indeed.
Romance readers used to the
typical one-dimensional fling
will find far more simmering beneath the surface of So
You Think You're a Match. Underneath its romp through romance
lies a thought-provoking consideration of what makes opposites attract,
beliefs and values are changed by circumstance and romance, and wherein
the boundaries in a love connection.
As Bishop starts to
see how his actions have affected his beloved sister,
and as family members interact and change, readers receive a fine,
multifaceted story that goes beyond the usual romance focus to embrace
extent of different families and people and how they deal with and
adversity and challenges.
So You Think You're
a Match is an inviting story on many levels. It will engage
not just romance
audiences, but women who want a plain good read about
good (and bad) choices.
Return to Index
Someone Like Me
Marian L. Thomas
978-1-953910-33-2 $16.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
belongs in any collection strong in African American contemporary
and fiction, and chronicles narrator Mýa Day's encounters with love and
It details the connections between both, the obstacles that often
emerge in a
romance that clashes with past pain and experience, and the eventual
realizations that lead to growth, change, and true love.
Mýa's opening lines reflect
on her forthcoming marriage
and the road that led to somebody admiring "someone like me." When
her mother died, she turned to living on the streets of Georgia at
eighteen, with nowhere to go. Rescued by a much older man, she confuses
with need and dependency, but somehow knows in her heart that what she
for him is not true romance.
She gets help from a
generous couple who step up to offer
her something different from life. A taste of what love can be comes
fiery romance with successful real estate agent Michael Davis.
where some novels would conclude with this happy ending, Mýa only
that her past keeps interfering with her present trajectory towards
when Michael finds out the role she played in a loved one's untimely
Only when she puts in the
time to probe her lingering
grief and pain does she overcome enough within herself to prove a
partner on equal terms with another. But this means giving Michael time
change, too: “Don’t tell me that I have
to keep going. Don’t tell me that I can’t let this stop me or get me
Right now, that’s all I want. I want to be down. I want to be a mess,
don’t want to pretend like I can get through this without him.”
Michael may hate his new
situation, but Mýa has suddenly
become one of the things he seems to reject. Loss can lead to
time, but she's not sure that this can happen, this time. And she
relies on his
encouragement for her self-esteem and singing aspirations.
And then everything changes
As she writes in her journal
the things she cannot
communicate to those closest to her in life, Mýa examines her sense of
not just to others, but to herself.
Marian L. Thomas does a fine
job of exploring broken
lives, recovering characters, and patterns of the past that inject
into hopeful relationships in unexpected ways. She depicts changing
that influence the development of close connections that break apart
stress and adversity.
Under her hand, Mýa's
complex hopes, aspirations,
uncertain recoveries from loss, as well as her evolving vision of love
wholeness, come to life.
The psychological depth is
nicely done and belays any
overlay of casual romance or quick solutions to life-changing problems.
lends a depth and complexity to the story line that feels realistic and
involving; especially with journal insights emphasizing these
Readers of African American
contemporary fiction will
find that Mýa breaks through racial barriers, as well. The story offers
unusual perspective of a woman who finds true love in an unexpected
in the hands of those who give freely, and who experiences the
what happens when one transitions from one relationship to another.
Return to Index
978-1-7352916-4-2 $5.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
The Sun at Twilight is Book 4 of 'The
Twilight' series and is recommended for readers of historical fiction,
appreciate a story set in the Hittite Empire of the 1230s BC.
Tudhaliya IV comes to the throne
determined to lead in the name of justice despite the nefarious
interests of his family. When his beloved cousin Kurunta, who is like a
to him, decides that he is more worthy to rule than Tudhaliya,
N.L. Holmes introduces the story with a note
that all the characters were real, and as much of the murky history of
as possible was included as a foundation for her fictional presentation
events. This note is followed by a cast of characters which will prove
essential (because there are so many forces at work in this story) and
glossary of terms and gods (also solid references that are important
because so many influences and forces permeate the story).
The tale itself is replete with intersecting
forces, civil war, and a troubled leader who must decide if he should
employing some of the repressive devices of his family and predecessors
unite the country.
The Sun at Twilight is no light read. It
best be enjoyed by those who have absorbed the prior books in the
beginning with The Lightening Horse, which
introduced a young
Hittite charioteer determined to find a
killer and change his world.
Holmes focuses on social, political, and
familial relationships and the personalities, motivations, and choices
involved: "The queen laced her fingers in the king’s hair as
ensnare him, but he drew away. Her tone grew petulant. “Your mother
in the royal nursery so she can win his heart. She wants to make him
creature, My Sun, like all the other princes of your house. She’ll try
him against me, his own mother.” “I said keep him.” Her whining
He felt helpless against his mother. He was far too honest—what did
call him, obstinately innocent?—to be a worthy opponent of that master
guile. “Did she admit she’s
trying to poison the alliance with my brother?” “No. But I think she’s
of it nonetheless.” The king let out a sigh as inconspicuously as he
Her attention to psychological probes and
details adds depth and understanding to the conundrums and challenges
characters each face in leading and surviving this conflicted world. It
makes each individual come to life as they confront not just one
their upbringings and ideals.
The special interests that clash and the approaches
that reflect both brilliance and insanity make for engrossing reading
confrontations emerge: "Kurunta stared at him, his thoughts
The viceroy had a certain reputation for daring, but this was
the kind of lunacy that afflicted truly great generals. A glow of
flushed his face."
The Sun at Twilight is a complex read that
journeys through disparate forces and the challenges leaders face in
confronting not just each other, but their own followers: "There
rumble of anger from Tudhaliya’s officers behind him. An uneasy flutter
stomach, the king realized he had no idea how this would be received by
infantry—many of whom were in fact from the West, quite apart from the
sons of Sheha River Land.
Fractious Luwians had been transplanted all over the country for
and now served in the levies of many provinces."
Its ultimate focus on justice's challenges
and representation and its deep probe of all forces and their
delight historical fiction readers with its astute blend of
events and psychological inspection.
Return to Index
Truth Is In the House
Michael J. Coffino
$29.95 Hardcover; $19.95 Paper; $7.99 Kindle
Is In the
House is a novel inspired by true events, and follows the
lives of two very
different boys who come of age in 1950s America.
Jimmy O'Farrell is an Irish
immigrant whose family ends
up in Manhattan, ready for a new life. Jaylen Jackson comes of
age in Jim
Crow Mississippi, fighting prejudice over the color of his skin as he
different, better future for himself.
Jimmy learns what it means
to stand up for himself and
others, while Jaylen learns how to survive racial strife and prejudice.
lives of both intersect in a novel that goes beyond closely examining
racial stereotypes and boundaries of the past. It shatters them.
As the story opens, father
Matthew O’Farrell and his wife
are confronting the terrible realization that their new life in the
opportunity holds a brutal undercurrent as the news reveals the brutal
murder of an Irish ten-year-old girl only two blocks from their home.
introduces newfound fear into mother Bettina's world, leading them to
their revised lives and the place they've chosen to call home and raise
Jimmy and Jaylen's families
both decide to flee their
oppressive circumstances in the 1960s and wind up in the Bronx as
where the two young men of different races form a friendship over
and again in Vietnam, during the war.
Jaylen has come to feel
alienated from his family as he
leaves home for college and embraces new ideas and a new world: "He never felt disconnected from his
family before, but that is precisely how he feels. The thought of
But the forces of Jim Crow
are at work in a wide net of
threat that exists, as Jaylen discovers, even in this new environment: "Their next off-campus excursion is an
evening meal in town. Jaylen pushes for a local diner called Mama
known for its local-style food. Tyrell pushes back. He hears that Mama
may have great food but caters to Jim Crow. As someone who grew up in
the close runner-up to Mississippi as the lynching capital of America,
social antennae tell him that venturing into a diner clinging to a
of Southern history is at the top of the leader board of where young
ought not to go."
Michael J. Coffino is
skilled at presenting a contrast in
different forms of prejudice (the Irish immigrant and the American
in a tale that brings it all home. He is skilled at positioning his
to make the most of this disparity, creating a story that is winning in
contrasts and encounters.
As the plot unfolds, fear,
shame, and the impact of new
decisions and challenging opportunities invite both characters to find
alternate paths to redemption and peace.
Coffino's ability to bring
to life and contrast these
incongruent yet connected lives creates a vivid read that is hard to
Its central theme, rooted in real-world events, gives Truth
Is In the House an edge over most fictional stories of
prejudice, struggle, and missed opportunities. This personalizes
events and social environments, lending depth to a book that should be
reading lists of any interested in the history and evolution of Jim
thinking as it leads into modern times and events.
Return to Index
Back From Difficult Times
Mary Ann V. Mercer, Psy.D.
978-0-9832739-8-1 $12.95 Paper; $9.99 Ebook
Website: Bouncing Back From Difficult Times - PositiveLifeAnswers.com
psychologist and self-improvement workshop organizer
Dr. Mary Ann V. Mercer began working with a wide range people, she
common threads in their recovery processes and the patterns linked to
handled adversity in life.
led to the strategies presented in Bouncing Back
From Difficult Times, a survey of the habits and shared
traits which led
resilience to some while keeping others from blossoming and growing.
process involves identifying and changing the habits and
patterns which reduce resiliency and lead to self-defeating coping
Readers can employ a variety of perceptions, positive mind
techniques, and better choices to change their responses and approaches
life's slings and arrows.
importantly, a wider-ranging life vision for
cultivating more positive, achievable goals is promoted that gives
set of step-by-step, specific guidelines for better living: "For
example, turn your Victim Story, “Why does this always happen to me?”
Victor Story. A Victor Story says, “This may be a difficult situation,
it is a chance for me to do things in a new and different way.” After
identify your story – create a new story about your situation and life."
readers in the process of revising and rebuilding
life after any type of crisis will find the specific tools offered in Bouncing
Back From Difficult Times a key to lifelong success.
it's grief, abandonment, other forms of loss, or
struggles with social adjustments or Covid, these tools can help and
presented with case history examples that leave nothing to wonder about.
Mercer's focus on the elements of success will encourage
and inspire those who felt such objectives were too often lacking or
their lives: "The finest way to develop strong ambition is
for you to
think about your goals, ambitions and things you want many times each
Again, think about what you want and specifically what you need to do
it. This is like adding logs to a burning fire. Your intense dwelling
you want builds incredibly strong ambition in you."
Self-help, psychology, and inspirational thinking readers will find Bouncing Back From Difficult Times just the ticket for a better life based on adjusting one's reactions to all kinds of challenging situations.Bouncing Back From Difficult Times
Return to Index
Edward W. Petty
New Insights Press
Business: A New Business-Building Methodology That is Simpler, Faster,
Profitable and Fun than Whatever You Are Doing Now -- Especially for
Professional Practices is an uplifting guide that connects
pursuits to personal satisfaction in a manner few professional or
titles achieve, and is highly recommended for practices and small
who want a better business-building model.
It comes from Edward
Petty's 35 years' experience of
honing a methodology that streamlines and systemizes a new way of
goals that can be customized to apply to a wide variety of
practices and has led to the creation of his new
One might ask: aren't all
Surprisingly, the answer is no (although it should
be a firm 'yes'). That's because too many business managers and owners
experience a disconnect between their personal objectives and lives and
business, which seems to take on a life (and goals) of its own simply
the rigors of daily management processes.
Chapters re-link the two,
beginning with an introduction
that helps business managers identify their personal, individual goals
the business framework. More than an ethereal self-examination, this
section introduces "20 big shifts" in attitude and approach which are
expanded upon in later chapters, and which are key to making real
decisions in how a business is run.
Follow-up chapters discuss,
in depth, the five stages of
business development, the definition of a Goal Driven System and how it
from the typical business structure, and its 23 basic principles
years of research, observation) and real-world business approaches
proven to be
At every juncture, Edward W. Petty cements concept to exercises,
internal and external
processes and procedures, and discussions of how this system diverges
typical business management approach: "Following
a clear and consistent marketing planning cycle, or Time
Management System, the team and each member needs to spend
time in the Lab reviewing their performance with the Goals Achievement Process (GAP)
coaching reviews. These steps will ensure accountability,
continuous improvement. This guidance seems simple and obvious, but it
exactly what is missing in most businesses. Begin doing it and watch
marketing efforts become more productive, providing the jet fuel to
business closer to its goals."
The result is a very
specific, pragmatic approach that will require an organized,
and committed business leader to fully appreciate its objectives and
Goal Driven Business
promises rewards for those who make the decision to absorb its
principles and apply them to their own goals and business vision.
approach that is highly recommended for any
business leader committed to change.
Return to Index
I Named My
Margarita Gokun Silver
9781800195356 $4.99 ebook
I Named My Dog Pushkin: Notes from a Soviet Girl on
American Woman combines a memoir with literary essays and
humor in a format
that captures immigrant experiences with an eye to exploring ironies
objective in fleeing the Soviet Union in the 1980s was to become fully
and leave her Soviet past behind. And so she changed her name, learned
dating and American culture, and yet found herself still exhibiting old
patterns of approaches to life even as she tried to reject her parents'
plans of going to medical school seven months after they arrive in
questioning her own trajectory and the freedom of choice that is the
this new land. In so doing, she rebels against the stricter form of
parenting that no longer applies in their new world.
confusion and dismay, her deviation from her engineering student
Moscow, the truths surrounding their ticket to "everything better,"
and her ultimate decisions on how to manage a very different life makes
thoroughly engrossing reading.
cultural experiences between the Soviet Union and America are nicely
in a story that is hilarious and thought-provoking as Margarita comes
of age in
a new land, identifying with being a woman and an immigrant, yet
aspiring for a
life beyond and within her "Russianness."
Any immigrant (and many who want to learn more about this process of adaptation to American ways) will find I Named My Dog Pushkin a fine way of understanding the special challenges of the immigrant experience in general and those who move here from the Soviet Union in particular.I Named My Dog Pushkin
Return to Index
Just Be Honest
Be Honest cultivates a self-help
connects honesty with happiness, promoting behavior that should be on
everyone's radar. One would think the subject of cultivating personal,
professional, and social honesty would be a no-brainer, from lessons
early in life. Unfortunately, the lack of honesty embraces the
subjects of a lack of self-awareness and knowledge of what constitutes
lies, and gray areas called white lies.
Cindy Yates uses her own life circumstances
to chart instances in which being less than honest came with a heavy
In the name of transparency, she suggested that her children write the
forewords introducing her book. And they did, creating a candid
her special brand of honesty and its impact on their approaches to
are simple stories, but they describe perfectly how important honesty
is to my
mom. She has told me countless times in my life that when there is a
you must shine a bright light on it and expose everything. That is the
to find a solution."
Chapters open with a simple admonition:
getting to know and trust oneself are the fundamental roots of
From this foundation, one can lead, set goals, and invite honesty and
transparency into relationships.
Spiritual readers will be especially pleased
by the references to divine purpose in achieving honesty and goals: "Honesty
in your work ethic is the difference between small successes and big
results of your work will equate to the quality of your effort and your
attitude. This is when being honest with yourself is crucial. But
sure the work you are doing is directly related to your purpose in
Remember the last chapter. Have you taken the time to find your
divinely-directed goals? Be careful to not just work to work. There has
to be a
As descriptions move beyond singular
definitions of how to identify and be authentic, readers receive
about life encounters that challenged and changed the author's
perceptions: "Billy had seen something I had not. He saw this
heart. He saw his need. He saw past the lie of his scary demeanor and
anti-social guard to protect his insecurity. Billy saw his sadness and
loneliness. He saw his beauty. I
again was humbled by this angel boy. I had made a choice to judge this
man. He had made a choice to lie about his need and hide behind his
scary image and I had believed him."
What at first seems a narrowed focus on how
to be honest develops into a broader examination of how to live a
by identifying the prejudices and assumptions that lead to creating
self-image and others.
Spiritual readers with an interest in self
examination and understanding the impact of deceit on different levels
find Just Be Honest a key to revised, better
approaches to parenting,
happiness, business, and social relationships.
It is especially recommended for spiritual
self-improvement readers and collections catering to them.
Return to Index
Conscious Living Publications
Liberating Jesus offers a key to unlocking the
words, intentions, and the message Jesus offers the world. It is based
Leonard Jacobson's self-awakening epiphany, in which he realized the
connections between Jesus's teachings and the newly enlightened modern
focuses on this process, defining it, considering its parameters,
it with pre-awakening environments, covering his increasing
which forged a new relationship with Jesus and his words.
first chapter, 'Awakenings', offers a memoir of Jacobson's own path to
enlightenment as he experiences these revelations and learns how to
their impact to the world around him.
first awakening occurred during a spiritual retreat, exposing
wounds and forcing him to examine his own process of self-judgment, his
attitudes about the world, and his changing relationship with God.
readers who anticipate a Bible-based reading and understanding stemming
may chafe at the descriptions of a powerful experience that borders on
supernatural as Jacobson literally surrendered himself to the forces of
testing death to find his way back into life: "As I made my way
to the riverbank, I could tell that I was in a completely different
I was in an altered state of consciousness. It was my first experience
awakened state, although I had no idea at that time what was happening
The sum total of my past experiences could not provide any kind of
for what I was experiencing as I emerged from the river."
this description and others that follow, it should be evident that
readers will be required to set aside dogma and tradition to embrace a
different way of thinking about Jesus and the process of enlightenment
able to do so are in for a treat, because Liberating
Jesus is as much about liberating self and one's ability to
broader spiritual message as it is about reading the Bible for words of
this isn't just a non-fiction memoir or spiritual reflection piece.
It's also a
scripted play, which lends to its accessibility not just by
individuals, but by
Christian groups who would act upon the play's format to foster broader
Jacobson is a mystic, spiritual teacher, and leader. His story departs
norm to reflect the course of this departure to other Christians
fostering a deeper understanding of Jesus.
who are also able to embrace spiritual flexibility, new age concepts
around awakening, and a different approach to understanding Jesus will
the blueprint for walking the same path, provided in this book.
Return to Index
Maria Ward, M.A.
Living With Less Stuff is a game plan directed towards older
adults and retirees who find themselves laden with too much material
Its specific approach to an older audience facing not just a little
but a lifetime of collecting and accumulation, addresses more major
than comparative literature on the topic of getting organized.
everything from purse organization and reducing kitchen clutter to
prescriptions, paperwork, garages, and filing cabinet contents.
wide-ranging discussion embraces the idea of creating and sticking to a
that lends to better organizing and time management overall, tackling
potentially overwhelming task of identifying what's important to keep
maintain and what is not.
have been tried and tested, in that they come from
Maria Ward's own models for putting life and stuff in its place.
weekly pill case, gifting former treasures to relatives and friends,
patterns for simplifying home maintenance, and scaling down house
items that are truly loved and needed are just a few of the many
Ward promotes for reducing clutter.
facing an overwhelming lifetime of accumulation, she breaks her advice
starting points and more advanced organizational methods.
Living With Less Stuff is an accessible, inviting guide to not
just throwing away and reorganizing, but changing the very habits that
the situation in the first place, to prevent them from happening again.
appreciate the age-specific advice that encourages them to take the
in redoing their lives for simpler, easier, more gratifying
Return to Index
Rolling the Dice with
Our Planet Project Foundation Press
Rolling the Dice
with Nuclear Weapons: The Illusion of Control and the Path Forward
many popular notions of nuclear weapons deterrence and usage, providing
chilling survey that blends the past history of humanity on the edge of
war with a projection of what could happen in the near future, if
aren't made to nuclear programs and perceptions.
Perhaps the latter goal is
the most important, because
many other titles have already documented the precipices encountered
nations over the decades of the Atomic Age. Few, however, add the
disaster posed by hackers, common misconceptions about the science of
weapons and nuclear exchanges, and the dangers of nuclear mishap on
More than just another
survey of international relationships
on the brink, John Ward takes the time to integrate the science of
devices with the sociological, technological, and political changes
their regulation, use, and military strategies. Over the decades since
Hiroshima, the threat has magnified exponentially. It's now much
insights posed by threats that go beyond national borders and info the
of terrorists and people who could tap into the frightening arsenal
the auspices of deterrence and safety are specific and backed by both
historical and present-day facts.
Dice with Nuclear Weapons provides a deeper inspection of
issues than competing books offer, it presents a call to action based
possibilities ordinary people can employ to affect their use.
One of the readers of John
Ward's book felt she was
"too busy" to consider matters she felt were too distant from her
daily life. What could be more immediate than the future and safety of
Perhaps this book's subtitle
sums it up best: The Illusion of Control and
Forward. Control is an important reason why humanity stands
at this point,
and the proposed path forward presented here offers a solution—if
not "too busy" to listen (and read this book).
Return to Index
History of the Rinky Dink
John P. Boyle
9781700379214 $5.50 Paper/$1.99 Kindle
Skateboard History of the Rinky Dink offers a narrow focus on the development of
the Rinky Dink skateboard in the 1960s, and will delight skateboarders
ages who harbor an interest in skateboard history and development.
the usual focus on Southern California's focal point in this history,
Boyle expands his survey to focus on how his skateboard concept was
throughout the country, and how it entered into popular youth culture
a coveted item.
national ads offering skateboards for sale from 28-year-old
to how his innovative manufacturing venture took off and captured the
imagination of youth around the country, John P. Boyle adopts a chatty
revealing approach to the history. This invites even non-skateboard
become absorbed in the overall process of developing and marketing a
than just a
history of the Rinky Dink's development, however, this slim survey
packs in a
punch with its inviting review of how author John P. Boyle's dream
manufacturing reality, changing the nature of skateboarding itself.
manufactured and sold over a million Rinky Dink skateboards, but in
1961 he was
still not taken seriously by those he approached with business
in the special position of this author to explore this particular
other book focuses on the Rinky Dink's development and marketing—but
importantly, no other book provides such a close inspection of the
These elements make
Skateboard History of the Rinky Dink
recommended not just for sports collections, but business holdings
appeal to an audience of young innovators who harbor their own
dreams, and want to better understand the road that leads to success.
Return to Index
Howard Grimes with Preston Lauterbach
Devault Graves Books
978-1-942531-40-1 $9.99 Kindle
Grimes was a
celebrated Memphis house drummer during the rise of Stax Records and
Memphis sound, and drummed behind some of the biggest acts of his
Co-writer Preston Lauterbach's literary career began in 2006, when his
into black Memphis music history lead to a determination to get to know
these iconic figures before they, too, passed away.
Timekeeper: My Life in Rhythm joins their
lives to provide a
revealing probe of the evolution of music at Stax and Hi, the two major
soul record companies, using a blend of Howard Grimes' experiences and
Lauterbach's research to create a full-flavored music history.
gritty, revealing tone that contrasts past and present music
environments: "We dressed to look
club owners wanted us to look professional, like we belonged playing
respectable audience. Ben Branch and Bowlegs gave their musicians
had designs like money on it. We looked clean. Most of the audience
too. We couldn’t do like you see the guys do today."
As he walks
through these bygone years, Memphis and its musicians come to life: "At Stax, a man named Chin worked as
a promoter during Isaac Hayes’ hot time. Me and Isaac went to school
Chin sat up in a hotel with prostitutes, smoking cigars and drinking up
money he should have been using to promote the records, you know,
deejays to play Isaac’s music. Johnny Baylor had Chin beaten. I finally
meet Johnny. He brought Luther Ingram to cut at Hi. Must have been
shot up the house at Stax. Luther Ingram sang a marvelous hit called
You is Wrong I Don’t Want to be Right.” Johnny managed Luther. Johnny
about how bad I’d been screwed with in Memphis. In front of the whole
Section, Johnny said to me, “You made all these sons of bitches money,”
at Teenie and Willie. Johnny said to me, “I like you. And I don’t
single life so intrinsically entwines with the evolutionary process of
culture and creation, capturing not just a singular ambition or success
but the paths and creations of a unique musical moment in history.
Timekeeper is a strong piece as highly
recommended for newcomers to
Memphis soul music history as it is for prior fans already
Howard Grimes and his achievements.
Return to Index
Mill City Press
$20.99 Hardcover/$11.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
readers interested in dogs in general and the problem of a too-big dog
scares away potential canine friends in particular will relish the
story of Bentley and the Magic Sticks,
receives engaging, colorful illustrations by Anne York that brings
story to life.
too-big dog make his good nature and intentions apparent to other
frightened by his enormous appearance? It may take a dose of magic and
collector's passion to achieve, but Bentley is on a mission.
readers who have progressed beyond very simple stories will be
read about Bentley's problem and his approach to life.
messages about gratitude, positivity, and
developing hobbies combines with the entertainment value
intervention to create a winning story that is unpredictable in its
parents and youngsters motivated to read a paragraph of detail at a
find Bentley an engaging character with a realistic attitude towards
self-image and life, and will relish the series of unexpected
brings Bentley closer to his ultimate goal in a surprising manner.
Return to Index
The Big Gift
978-0-5786-8558-8 $5.49 Paper/$1.49 ebook
In The Big Gift, Alicia's
have finally given her a tablet; something her friends have enjoyed
quite a while. Clearly, she's been behind the times—but the gift comes
challenges on how to handle it carefully.
Advanced elementary to early middle school
grades will appreciate this story of a girl's first introduction to new
technology and its different responsibilities.
As Alicia tackles creating new accounts and
passwords, learning new apps, and integrating the tablet into her
life, she is guided by savvy parents who understand that the gift of
brings with it a requirement for thoughtful usage: "Remember,
TullyTown, if you don’t feel comfortable about something just ask your
me." Both Alicia and her mom looked over at her dad who was off the
and yelling something at the television. "Well, you can at least ask
me," her mom said with a wink."
TullyTown is a fun app, but her mother
points out that it's up to Alicia to cultivate good decisions about how
connect with people online.
As kids follow Alicia's evolving knowledge
of the online environment, they receive messages from the dialogues
and her parents on how best to handle online conundrums and choices.
When classmate and friend Megan gets into
trouble over her own use of her tablet, Alicia receives invaluable
into the choices involved in adding an online environment to real-world
Parents looking to teach kids about these
choices and their consequences will find The Big Gift
the perfect place
to make their point. The story embraces the perspectives of adults and
alike, providing a realistic growth experience that clearly explains
promises and pitfalls of online interactions.
This warm, realistic story deserves a place
on the reading lists of any child enthusiastic about embracing online
interactions and environments, and parents who want to impart basic
computing habits to a young explorer.
Return to Index
By the Light of
Jenni L. Walsh
978-1-954332-13-3 $22.00 library hardcover/$11.99 paper
fiction readers will find By the Light of
the Fireflies a fine historical novel based on the life of
Sybil Ludington, following Sybil and her family's struggle during the
with the Loyalists to the British Crown coming for her father. They are
accusing him of being a traitor to England.
in her father, and in the magic light of fireflies which (legend has
when you need them most. But can they help her family when war swirls
and they all are endangered?
into a role she'd never envisioned, young readers receive an
story that captures the environment and atmosphere of the times: "I used my musket to point into the
dark forest, my own gaze following the long barrel. I heard Rebecca’s
gun felt heavy in my hands. I should fire it. It was what Papa told us
Fire it and he’d come running. He’d handle the situation, in this case:
capturers. Or worse: his assassins. I quivered. I wouldn’t fire my gun.
felt like hand-delivering a worm to a bird’s nest to be gobbled."
assertive and proactive beyond her years and experience, Sybil becomes
inadvertent heroine as she struggles to protect everything she loves
from the Loyalists
and the evolving battle that engulfs her home.
War history and motivations on all sides come to life in the course of
that does an outstanding job of capturing the political and social
of the times.
Jenni L. Walsh is especially adept at capturing the Sybil's first-person observations and emotions: "I pushed us north, toward the hamlet of Stormville. That’d be the point where I turned us south again. I yearned for Stormville. I wanted nothing more than to see that strip of homes. My hands were red. They burned from the cold, from where I gripped the reins and my stick. My jawline hurt, where my teeth had clenched for so long. My legs and back and torso ached from keeping beat with Star. My stomach felt hollow and grumbled for food. My eyeballs even felt as if they’d been rattled to the point of pain."
story line that personalizes the history in a manner that makes it
understandable, realistic, and quite accessible.
readers who normally eschew fact-laden historical fiction will find the
emotional driving force particularly strong in By
the Light of the Fireflies. This approach strengthens the
compelling story of a young girl's trials, which forces her into the
role of becoming a female war hero in times where girls and women
note from the author reinforces the real historical events that receive
evocative, personalized attention in the plot.
Return to Index
Patrick D. Pidgeon
Greenleaf Book Group
978-1-62634-775-5 $16.95 Hardcover/$7.95 ebook
Creeples! is recommended for advanced elementary to
middle school readers of sword and sorcery fantasy, and follows a trio
determined to save their teacher's job.
Spignola, Theresa Ray “T-Ray” Rogers, and Pablo “Peabo” Torres create a
crowdfunding event designed to show off the school lab's importance,
inadvertently create little magical monsters when they grab the wrong
the course of an eye-catching experiment.
looses magical 'Creeples' upon the campus—but that's not the only
an attack on a hidden adversary's plans to use the academy's ancient
take over the world...an attack which transforms the Creeples from
danger to assuming the role of being the heroes of the story.
injected into the plot to add unexpected humor to the dilemma: "Suit up, chuckleheads, and grab your
chem-tanks. Got a temp job to exterminate six mangy varmints. The
Aberdasher Academy,” Flitch barked. His two cronies ignored him, bent
their cards and locked in a staring contest, completely engrossed in
children’s game. “I got a pair of lumberjacks,” the chubby one
announced as he
laid down the cards. His belly was so vast it shaded his toes. “Beat
Lyle.” “Back at ya, Big Lyle! A pair of magicians.” “Pair of
of roosters.” Big Lyle licked his lips. “That reminds me; I sure could
go for a
bucket of fried chicken.” “A pair of Angus cows!” Lil’ Lyle cried out
confidence. “Mmm, spareribs sound mighty tasty,” Big Lyle grumbled."
face a destroyed campus, kidnapped friends, bad boys and goonies, and
who taps the power of the Golden Dawn to change everything, Creeples! becomes a cat-and-mouse game
of very different powers vying for control. When the real threat
teens and Creeples may be the only things standing in the way of
Pidgeon does an excellent job of juxtaposing comedy, confrontation,
adventure, and ironic developments throughout the story. A wealth of
twists and turns keep young readers guessing about good, evil, and the
area that lies between them as the quest evolves.
a fun, strong fantasy story in which children take charge, see their
go awry, and come full circle in an unexpected way will find Creeples! a delightful read.
Return to Index
VIBE (Verdani Institute for the Built Environment) and Daniele Horton
978-1736866917 $13.99 Paper/$7.99 ebook
Heroes is highly
any book collection for young readers ages 5—10 strong in environmental
recycling topics, presenting a message on ways all of us can make a
history of the Earth in which animals and humans live in beautiful
the environment. As time passes and relationships change, Earth
fever (global warming), and a group of environmentally-conscious
kids decide to investigate the situation to try to help it heal.
of concerned young citizens contemplates the problem, they feel
joining together: “If
we can fix the climate, everyone will feel better and be
healthier,” said Isabella. “We would need superheroes for that,”
responded. “Are you kidding?” exclaimed Lucas. “We are the superheroes!
be Climate Heroes!” “YEAH!!!” they all shouted together.”
people try to engage parents and adults to find a solution, but
decide to use the power of library research, cooperative thinking, and
amongst themselves to make a difference in their own communities and—in
so—inspire others around the world.
many of us
ask, “can kids truly make a
Climate Heroes emphatically says "yes,"
message by illustrating a series of ways in which these self-appointed
Heroes' contribute their skills and efforts towards positively changing
providing basic, age-appropriate facts on climate change (a critical
which seems absent from the majority of school curriculums), Earth’s
Climate Heroes successfully reinforces the idea
that kids can be
proactive and empowered in their responses to a situation that appears
stymie the adults around them.
book harness the power of good research and scientific investigation
with on-the-ground action with "huge
hearts and bold costumes" to successfully get the word out
what kids can do to become Earth’s Climate Heroes.
supplemented by a glossary of terms to support general climate and
environmental literacy. Plus, a helpful action guide titled "How Can
Become An Earth's Climate Hero?" provides ways that each kid—regardless
their age or background—can take action to help improve the world.
messages kids can pick up and run with will find
Earth’s Climate Heroes
a powerful example of how to reinforce activism and
allowing kids to truly make a difference - not just individually or as
neighborhood, but as members of the diverse global community.
Return to Index
Maria Monte & Emelie Wiklund
9780987513045 $25.99 Hardcover/$13.99 Paper
Eve's Ducklings is an excellent
read-aloud choice for parents
looking for a warm story of grandparents and grandchildren and the
story of a
shared effort to be kind to animals.
first walk to the lake together reveals ducklings in the water. Eve
touch and hold the youngsters; but Grandpa points out that they should
away from them even when they are playing and being cute. But, what can
to support their lives?
desire to interact with them in a better way teaches kids about
problem-solving, sensitivity to animal needs, and how to make friends
creatures based on not just a child's impulses, but a wild animal's
teach the very young about how to interact with nature will find Eve's Ducklings the perfect beginner's
guide to successfully enjoying the wild animals of the outdoors.
Return to Index
The Farm Shop
$19.95 Hardcover/$10.95 Paper/3.49 ebook
The Farm Shop is an engaging picture book
story of a girl, Kirelle,
and her cat Sam who go on a walk that brings them to The Farm Shop,
learn about a busy barn filled with animals and discoveries.
Kirelle's guide, but the talking farm animals also interact with her.
sell delicious chocolate baas, the ducks sell cheese quackers, and the
sell not milk, but Hollywood moovies.
will find the large-size drawings by Ema Tepic add special fun to the
a girl who explores the farm animal environment. There are also plenty
opportunities for enjoying the animal sound effects made by the farm
But the best
lies in an experience that Kirelle takes home with her. Parents will
lesson and the underlying emphasis on politeness to be another strong
a picture book which is whimsical, fun, and thought-provoking all in
one. The Farm Shop also offers the
lesson on generosity and positive interactions, supporting the story
uplifting life messages that adults will welcome.
Return to Index
Street and Main
Main reaches young adult fantasy
readers with the vivid story of Skye Hope, who meets handsome exchange
Olli in her senior year of high school in her small town, only to
is from further away than he seems.
A head injury brings her to the magical
Second World, where she discovers the true nature of her heritage and
and begins to question not only what is real, but what her purpose in
within these two realms, really means.
creates a story that is filled with thought-provoking moments, from
inability to confide in her busy father to a new school year which at
doesn't bring with it much hope for different outcomes or new friends.
during her senior year feels any different from the three years
realization that he's found the young woman of legend to his dilemma,
offers a fast-paced blend of moral and ethical challenges and
relationships that develop in unexpected ways: "The
mission was complete, yet somehow Olli couldn’t find himself
to move forward. They weren’t really expecting to find her. The true
the sorcerers and wood
possibly even future ruler of even more regions. All along he was
kill the person they were looking for to ensure the peace. If nothing
destroy the entrance from the First World’s side for good… but never
There was no concrete plan of what to do next. The effort of searching
much of their energy there was no direct step to follow if they found
portrait of action, tempered by psychological inspection and
developments, will especially attract readers who like more than an
and Vince Hope are also prominently featured in the story as Skye
understand her real legacy. Indeed, the story is replete with a range
characters who interact with Skye in the course of her struggle to
what is real and where her place really lies.
black and white illustrations by Joe Traster, which accent the chapter
headings, this tale of different destinies and realities will delight
readers with its consideration of friendships, alternate reality, and a
seemingly impossible new world.
Return to Index
Hilda & Richie
Different Mousetrap Press
9780989069632 $1.99 Kindle
is a fun picture book story about Hilda's discovery of bubble gum. It's
primer about chewing gum and blowing bubbles that captures both the
of the gum and a child's first experiences with using it.
Richie is a newcomer to both
bubble-blowing and gum.
As the fox pup and older
woman explore the zany effort
and challenge of blowing the biggest bubble, kids receive a whimsical
contrasts the wisdom and elegance of an older mentor with an impulsive
determination to not just learn a new skill, but improve upon it.
presents the specter of an elegant-looking aged female who teaches her
charge an unexpected skill. It's especially unexpected because this
pearl-wearing, fan-carrying fox elder seems an unlikely fan of bubble
4-8 will relish not just the bubble-blowing
lesson, but the contrast between two different age groups who enjoy the
pursuit—even if the pastime does bring with it somewhat of a mess!
Return to Index
Jonathan Prince of Dreams
Dreams tells of a typical teenage
boy who enjoys sports and struggles with other concerns, from keeping
girlfriend to grieving the loss of his mother and his father's
abuse. He's typical, that is, until he is knocked into a coma and
Land of Dreams, where he confronts monsters and his destiny—to lead
out of darkness as the future Griffin King and find the path to peace
this world and his own.
A. Corrin narrates this quest story using
unusually vivid language and descriptions that are strengthened by
first-person experiences and revelations about his world.
From Jonathan's fury at "bad boy"
and bully Garrett, who unexpectedly shows up as an adversary in this
universe, to his best friend Tyson's ability to also enter that world
his friend again, the story juxtaposes reality and fantasy in a
manner that keeps readers engaged in both worlds.
The adventures, Jonathan's transformations
and his ability to take flight in many different ways, and his
adventures as he
discovers who he really is in both worlds make for compelling reading
teens will find satisfying on two different levels: as an epic fantasy,
the story of a teen finding his place and way in the world.
In a genre where too many fantasies become rooted
in an alternate universe and stay there, it's satisfying to see the
in a realistic, involving manner which is both easy to understand and
Dreams is highly recommended
reading for middle to high school grades. This audience will appreciate
actions of a flawed hero who struggles to find value in his role in
worlds, facing an enemy equally determined to make a name for himself.
Return to Index
Shelf Space Books
Gertie has a problem, in Making Peas—first
grader Clark Whittle, who refuses to follow rules and who gets Gertrude
trouble with his teasing and antics.
Readers ages 6-9 will find this a believable
story of a new boy in school who gets on Gertie's bad side right away,
though he's her neighbor. For one thing, he refuses to use her favored
nickname. When she responds rudely, she is the one
who gets in trouble
with the teacher. And Clark has determined that she's someone he can
many different ways.
How can Gertie cope with a bully?
However, this is more than a story about
bullies. It sets the foundation of a relationship conflict, then moves
focus on a wise, gardener grandmother who provides Gertie with some
mechanisms. These go beyond Gertie's initial efforts to either change
to avoid teasing or challenge her new perceived enemy to a duel to
Against the backdrop of planting and caring
for a garden's peas, Gertie learns new lessons that translate to
thought-provoking life inspections for kids: "Peace is what I
have with Clark, even if having a duel is how I have to get there."
Black and white pictures by Tina Perko
support the story and add visual embellishments to Gertie's world as
how to plant peas, peace, and a better way of resolving her issues.
Kids receive a fun exploration that holds
important messages for creative and positive problem-solving, and will
Gertie's gardening experiences and family relationships weave nicely
story of her school conundrums.
Peas is first in a planned series
garden-themed chapter books. It does an excellent job of juxtaposing
peas with fostering better approaches to life.
It's especially recommended for collections
looking to instill lessons about the value of growing food and handling
challenging peer relationships by making better choices.
Return to Index
Get Creative 5/Mixed Media Resources
Monster in the Water: Fighting Back
Against Harmful Algal Blooms is recommended for young readers
ages 6-10 and
tells of the children of Seaville, who discover their beloved beach has
What kind of monster lurks
in the water that would prompt
such a closure? The kids ask environmental scientist Professor
help, and receive a lesson about harmful algal blooms and their threat
life and other creatures.
As the professor discusses
the science involved, kids
receive a lesson in which new words are highlighted and defined. The
discussion of water pollution leads them to ask how they can help fight
it. As the kids receive further guidance on how to be proactive, they
the community in taking steps to reduce the bloom.
Maria DeCerce's colorful,
engaging, large-sized drawings
attract reader interest, as does the specter of a monster; but the
follows is real and offers an easy way for kids to understand not only
environmental issues, but what they can do to participate in their
combination of mystery, colorful drawings, and an
attention to scientific detail creates a picture book story that is
engaging, and educational—just the ticket for usually-reluctant readers
need more than an outline of facts to become involved in environmental
Return to Index
of Place, Out of Time
Amy Willer & Anton Galang
A+ Media, Inc.
$15.99 Hardcover/$6.99 Paper; $6.49 ebook
Out of Time
brings history to life in a young adult novel that
tells of two teens who live in a Chicago that is literally worlds apart
years, to be exact).
tale, modern teen Alex finds herself navigating 1893 Chicago just as
Columbian Exposition comes to town. There, she meets Patrick, a
teen who supports his poor family by working at the fairgrounds.
that seem impossible to fill, but together, they discover new
many surprises as the World's Expo unfolds around them.
Anton Galang excel at bringing the times and history to life through
different perspectives of Alex and Patrick. These experiences are
notes about an event that celebrates the 400th anniversary of
Columbus discovering America, but which embraces future possibilities
exhibits and portrait of America.
than just a
history of the Expo alone, the authors pay close attention to the
and social challenges of Patrick's times: "Patrick’s
father worked at a steel mill. His hours were usually inconsistent,
it even more difficult for them to know when they would have money to
Sometimes he could work for twelve hours a day for two weeks straight,
he could go days without work after that. Patrick didn’t understand how
could be. People were always building new things, especially in
the stage for Alex's arrival and educates readers about the conditions
atmosphere of the times.
satisfying note is that Alex is realistic both about her experience,
motivation for repeating it, and the dangers involved. She's no novice
idea of timeslip adventures and is entirely cognizant of possible
snafus: "Going more than 100 years back in
time. That would definitely be one way to avoid Jorge. Alex found
starting to entertain the idea, then mentally slapped some sense into
It would be crazy. She wasn’t even really certain how the coin purse
Sure, it had taken her to 1893 once, to Jackson Park, where she had
building the Chicago World’s Fair. And yes, opening the purse later had
her back to the present. But that didn’t mean it was going to work the
again. For all Alex knew, she really had been hit by a cyclist or
and had been hallucinating or knocked out or dreaming. Maybe the coin
didn’t do anything at all."
timeslip fiction well know that characters usually are much less savvy
Alex, and will appreciate the fact that she's educated enough to not
comprehend what is happening, but the possibilities that these events
even be occurring at all.
unfolds, a peppering of black and white images of the times bring early
and the Expo exhibits to life with original photographs from
World's Fair of 1893.
towards his dream and Alex struggles to keep her secret and work
own goal, deciphering the mysterious message the time-transport coin
holds (Live in the past. This is your
future.), the story comes to life and presents an unexpected
even the most avid timeslip novel reader won't see coming.
may be in
control of her choices, but can she actually reshape her future in this
social inspection, historical accuracy, timeslip adventure, and the
figure of a
feisty, savvy young female who assesses her options, choices, and their
consequences makes for a story that's grounded in real history and hard
down. The thought-provoking conclusion will both resonate with young
and keep them engaged and reflective about their own choices in life.
Return to Index
978-0635135681 $15.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
& Pandemics: Including the Worldwide COVID- 19 Pandemic will
ages 9 and older with a survey of germs and diseases that have changed
world. It is particularly recommended reading for its wide-ranging,
approach that middle-schoolers will find absorbing and informational.
Carole Marsh blends science
and history in a survey that
reviews pandemics of the past, contrasting their environments,
social and medical approaches to tackling their spread.
Kids receive definitions of
diseases, information about
germs and their transmission, and chapters that contrast plagues of the
with Covid-19's recent challenges.
In contrast with other
approaches for this age group,
Carole Marsh adds observations and notes designed to personalize and
life the social issues underlying pandemics and epidemics: "Long ago, people spent a lot of time arguing about
what, or who,
caused a disease. Blaming others did not help anything. Leaders have
and ineffective in past plagues, and today we see politics often
seeming to be
more important that scientific facts. That does not help either. As I
research, I was very dismayed to see that some people in the past (even
America during the Spanish Flu epidemic) actually lied about the
facts, the numbers of infected and dead. So, it is sad for me to have
that adults do not always act very responsibly during a time when
smarts, wisdom, good decisions and more are VERY IMPORTANT in any
It is life or death, after all."
From therapies and medical
approaches to notes about
pets, infected people, transmission, and safety, Outbreaks,
Epidemics, & Pandemics embraces a range of issues
and concerns, from social environments to heroes, helpers, and career
opportunities for jobs that battle disease.
Its broader scope than most,
chatty tone, and fact-filled
pages make Outbreaks, Epidemics, &
Pandemics a multifaceted read that goes above and beyond more
productions for this age group, making for a top recommendation for
and middle school collections alike.
Return to Index
Pepper the Salt Potato
A salt potato is a New York specialty. Young
picture book readers in all states receive an engaging tale about it in
the Salt Potato.
Pepper is planning a visit to the New York
State Fair with his friends Jam the Jelly Jar, Snap the Pickle, and
He thinks he's ready to compete in the
Fair's Best Potato Contest, but he's dug himself into the dirt and
taking the bath that will assure he's a winner.
As his friends try to answer his questions
about bathing and face much resistance, Pepper throws up all kinds of
and keeps maintaining that "baths are for pickles."
There are so many things he'd rather be
doing...and his "true self" is dirty. What will get him to change his
mind, as all his friends' efforts come to naught?
A fun story evolves that kids who resist
bath time will certainly relate to, while read-aloud parents will find
whimsical story and its characters and drawings engaging.
Return to Index
Piki Goes to College
Joan M. Hellquist
$12.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook/$19.95 Hardcover
Picture book readers who
choose Piki Goes to College are in
for a treat, because Hellquist goes
beyond the usual story of a shelter dog who finds a new home. Piki
finds a new purpose in life when she is adopted to become a service dog.
Joan M. Hellquist is author
and illustrator of a book
which explains her dog Piki's life. She creates lovely, realistic color
drawings and adds the flare of Piki's personality to her first-person
("Hi there! My name is Piki. Piki
rhymes with sneaky, which yes, I can be sneaky at times. But my forever
and person, Joan, chose that name for me because of the color of my
sort of blue. Piki is the name of the bread that Hopi women make from
blue corn. So I guess you could say that I have a Native American name.").
Kids learn about Piki's life
both in the animal shelter
and on the rural property where she now lives with two 'sibling' dogs,
receive insights into basic dog training and the special duties of
How she earns her service
vest, and what it means, are
two evocative threads explored in the story of how Piki earns her
service dog, and how dogs are trained and act in this role.
From listing how service
dogs help in various ways to discussions
of how an outsider should interact (and things not to do) with a
working dog, Piki Goes to College
provides a host of
insights, concrete details on the process, and fine discussions of a
dog's new life.
adult who chooses Piki Goes to College
for read-aloud to the young will learn much
about the process of training and using a service animal through Piki's
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$13.99 Paper/$29.99 Hardcover/$2.99 ebook
Author website: www.aksmithauthor.com
Ordering link: https://amzn.to/2T6tXUi
will find Pseudocide - Sometimes You Have
to Die to Survive's story of a walk out of life to be
premise (and the definition of the term 'pseudocide') lies in faking
death to embark on a new life. In this case, sixteen-year-old Sunday
plans her own demise to escape her life.
call her parents Mom and Dad, or by their names. They are HE and SHE,
raised her via "the internet, silence, and anger." Her only companion
is a beloved leather journal she bought herself that's privy to all her
secrets, including her intention to create a new persona.
running away is that trouble often runs alongside, rather than being
behind. And so Sunday brings with her issues that are inescapable even
longs to keep pressing the restart button to begin anew: "What
did I ever do to deserve this? My fingers are digging in the
dirt of my special place, I’m transfixed watching the tiny little
trickle, the water running away over the smooth round pebbles, to a new
destination. Running water never stays in one place. I want to run
new. My fingernails are full of brown dirt. I don’t care."
Tied to the
and life in some of the same ways she was in the past, Sunday finds
working dead-end jobs in cheerless places, still looking for answers
attempting to capture and create a very different persona:
"My new life consists of long hours of waitressing in the meat
locker, sleeping during the day, and creating digital dirt on my social
children, charades that bounce off and use social media to fabricate
realities, and being a friend to others as well as herself contribute
story replete with mature themes. It successfully brings home the
coming of age
of a girl who has been abused in too many ways, who struggles not to
carry these patterns into a new life.
As she faces
challenges she could never have predicted or controlled, Sunday finds
herself new healing and the courage to make some truly lasting changes.
than create a believable character in Sunday. She crafts a premise that
complex and attractive, especially to teen audiences who chafe at their
boundaries, restrictions, and pain. She also brings to life the force
Sunday's personality, which reacts to and eventually begins to
and control her world in better, more positive ways.
delve deep into the psychological profile of a runaway who reinvents
is realistic, powered by a first-person approach that successfully
Sunday's motivations and influences. Smith also is adept at providing a
supporting characters, each of which offer something to Sunday that
reaching for the maturity to escape their own painful pasts. Even the
have a role to play, beyond references to the results of their choices,
to terrorists and abuse, Pseudocide goes
far beyond one girl's individual angst to probe a host of social issues
challenge young people every day.
"Maybe that’s what tragedy does to you: it wakes
you up and gives
you a second chance at life." Pseudocide's
exploration of this process and how Sunday discovers her own strengths
abilities makes for a thoroughly engrossing story that's hard to put
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Runaway at Sea
Red Penguin Books
at Sea is a historical
adventure for ages 10 and older based on the true
story of the author's ancestor, Robert. In the introduction, Robert's
Anna (and her siblings) remember him as a kindly, patient man with a
for hard work and his adopted country of America. His talent
vivid stories of his youth that are "filled with the adventure of
ships of Her Majesty Victoria’s navy, life in a jungle and in American
pioneering" makes for a lively narrative for his grandchildren and
generations, in this story.
The teenage Robert's nautical adventure
includes being trapped aboard a British Naval vessel with his best
Michael and facing storms and a dangerous bully before they finally
only to discover they have moved from the frying pan into the fire by
into a jungle, where they must survive sickness, insects, and threats.
Maitland cultivates a fast-paced story and
expressive flavor in her writing that keeps the action nonstop and
the boys' experiences and observations: "They were
soggy and hot. Over and over their names were called; the voices
closer. But they both knew there would be no relief if they were found.
was no reasonable explanation for their presence in the forest. They’d
if they weren’t shot and would at the very least be made an example of;
irons in the brig, tied to the ratlines and whipped. Mr. Smith’s trust
would be shattered. They couldn’t show themselves, it was too late
About half of the story takes place on board
the ship, taking the time to explore the trials the boys face in their
environment before they escape into a worse situation in the jungle
The dream of America, where gold offers
promises and new lives, keeps them moving forward towards a place they
can call home...if they survive.
As the story unfolds, middle grade readers
receive important lessons about early immigrant experiences and
through the eyes of two young people who move into adulthood through a
difficult coming of age adventure among adults.
at Sea is not only a story of
maturity, but a close inspection of early immigrant lives and adventure
personalizes the trials and confrontations of two teens who stowaway on
bound for new lives.
Young fans of adventure stories will find
the history easy to absorb against the backdrop of many different
The tale is highly recommended for middle grade collections seeking
adventure, historical detail, and nicely developed, believable
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Dancing Horse Press
historical fiction readers will find The
Sand Pounder an intriguing story. It follows a young
equestrian who wants
to join the U.S. Coast Guard-enlisted horsemen who patrolled the
beaches of the
West Coast on horseback to watch for an invasion by sea during World
her, seventeen-year-old Jane is concerned about the war and its threat.
to grow up early when her parents both died of polio two years earlier,
and her brother Luke live in the family's home in the Tillamook Valley
Oregon. Though Hawaii seems very far away, Pearl Harbor's bombing
war too close to home. How can she help?
riding skills and her beloved horse Star to help patrol the beaches,
one problem—women and girls are not normally part of this kind of war
There's only one solution.
with her new role and secret identity as John Morris, she must make
adjustments to support her new persona: "Pushing
down her natural response to express concern, Jane tried to respond as
a man would. “Whoa, cowboy! Is that how you were taught to ride?” Jane
she ran over to him."
When she and
Sand Pounder Stephen Peters come upon a man who claims to be an
citizen escaped from a Japanese sub, their choices become even more
complicated...as does their friendship, which moves from being comrades
infatuation and something more, on Jane's part.
life, as do women's issues and roles during World War II, as Jane
with her revised role and its consequences.
excellent job of winding the era's history and the lesser-known job of
Pounders into a realistic story of a mature teen's determination to
difference in her world.
illustrations by Hasitha Eranga and
Gaspar Sabater support the story with visuals peppered throughout.
realistic historical fiction that is fast-paced, well written, and
character-driven by a strong young woman and her dual passion for
her country will find The Sand Pounder
an inviting read.
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Young At Heart Publishing
The Train Rolls On uses a rollicking rhyme and an
anthropomorphic smiling train to present a fun, simple story about a
work ("Here comes the next
train!/It’s got work to do—passengers await/a ride to the zoo.").
here are animals who need to get to the zoo by riding the Animal
train chugs through hills and steep downhill slopes, traversing rivers
ridges, young readers will appreciate the winning illustrations of
Wald, who captures the various animals and the train that carries them
buffs also receive a subliminal message about goals, overcoming
cooperative problem-solving along the way. These elements create a
uplifting messages that parents will find perfect for teaching the very
about maintaining a positive attitude.
The result is an inviting story that is creative, compelling, and fun. It lends perfectly to picture book read-aloud via sound effects and descriptions that invite youngsters to take a ride into a fun train and animal world, and is recommended for read-aloud parents and early readers alike.The Train Rolls
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