June 2020 Review Issue
Fantasy & Sci Fi Mystery & Thrillers
Desserae K. Shepston
978-1-7334079-1-5 $14.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Book 2 of
trilogy opens with the prologue of a vacant-eyed male identified only
who stands in a long line of similar individuals. It segues to the
chapter in the book which introduces Rebecca and her group, who have
training since a virus hit and began infecting the world.
apart around them, Rebecca and her group's objectives shift from
in the resistance group Colossus and its objectives to conducting a
investigation on the government that seems bent on tearing apart its
society for an unknown purpose.
investigation raises questions that threaten their own organization,
and trust in one another as society begins to disintegrate with too
creates descriptions, conflicts, and scenarios that link personal
survival to political revelations and insights about government
subterfuge. Her ability to pair numerous characters' personal struggles
the bigger picture of uncovering conspiracies and contributing not just
personal wellbeing but the survival of society as a whole creates
encounters and revelations.
choices and conundrums of Remy, Rebecca, and others are nicely drawn
astute, and the search for an anti-viral formula is well written.
state of affairs, The Breaking
even more power than the first book in the series, with its compelling
of adventures and discoveries by a group of young people determined to
the truth even if it threatens the trust in their interpersonal
Fast-paced, well drawn, and involving, The Breaking is a dystopian story eerily close to present-day experience. It's highly recommended as a convincing, involving read, whether chosen as a stand-alone or as part of the series as a whole.The Breaking
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Red Mango Publishing
978-0998761275 $13.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Diondray's Discovery opens The Diondray's
with a fantasy quest story introducing a young man who is on a journey
will shake the foundations of not only his life, but his world. He's on
home despite the family issues that sent him on a quest bringing him
conflict with his uncle, ruler of the city of Charlesville, and his
live on the west side of town.
"lives among the ants," much to the chagrin of his family, but things
are about to get more interesting as he uncovers more truths about his
heritage, history, and position in the world.
note that many themes in this novel reflect current events and debates
immigrants, social change, prejudice and acceptance, and social roles
concerning outsiders. Readers receive a flavor of our times and
they absorb Diondray's initial reactions to his family and his choices
This is not
happens in the story, however. Diondray's
Discovery is an epic fantasy quest that follows the
man's journey through various layers of social and psychological
a feel of different sides involved in a world-changing conflict.
the changing experiences of rich and poor in this world to a book that
to change everything, Marion Hill paints a powerful portrait of a
divided: "Wealthy or poor, they all
belong to Kammbi. However, there’s always a division between those who
lot and those who don’t. And the quadrants reflect that division.”
the one destined
to fulfill Oscar's prophecy? Is a child's strong belief about who he is
to quell his doubts over his powers and destiny?
Diondray's Discovery crafts a powerful
introduction to a world
divided and a heart that struggles to accept his special destiny in
future. It holds messages for current events that provide insights into
obedience, revolution, and the roots of change which often rest upon
people and experiences.
Diondray's Discovery is highly
recommended for fantasy readers who
will find that it reflects many messages about a world in which one
and his destiny and issues become linked to the ideals and fate of
around him. This crafts a gripping introduction to a personal and
dilemma which will evolve over several companion volumes.
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Red Mango Publishing
978-0998761282 $16.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Diondray's Journey, the second book in
The Diondray's Chronicles series,
will appeal to followers of his first trip and continues his sojourn
three cities that have fallen under siege from lies and deception.
born to a
life of privilege, has rejected his roots to travel through these very
social segments in search of the truth, both about his own prophesized
a new world and the prophecy itself.
interpretation of the Book of Kammbi (introduced in the first book) and
ripple effects it has upon these societies are documented in a series
encounters that expand Diondray's perception of his role in the world
underlying messages of the prediction.
Diondray's Journey will find a
characters swirl around the young man. Familiarity with the first
premise and foundations will lend to a smoother transition to this
story, but Marion
Hill does a fine job of integrating background information with the
that newcomers aren't entirely lost.
discussions and encounters between followers of Kammbi and those who
lives based on different perceptions of the world. Much like events in
society, Diondray must face these divisions and craft an approach to
them even when unity feels like an impossible effort.
The root of
story lies in exactly how this accord can come about. Hill provides
interactions and dialogues between characters and does an outstanding
delineating this approach's possibilities: "They
begged me to return to the family home many times. I refused. There was
to be someone in the Azur family who treated all the people of our city
respect. Do you see? I believe this first outreach from the morrims and
parishioners of this city can start bridging that divide here. If each
stays on their side, the division will continue and common ground will
elusive for everyone. But if you are willing to reach across, I believe
morrims will listen to your perspective and reach out, like I did to
siders in Charlesville. People want to be listened to before they can
care about each other."
to define and understand Diondray Azur's motivations and intentions, so
Diondray himself perseveres in matching his newfound mission to the
of three very different societies.
is a powerful
addition to the series. It expands Diondray's personality, links to
factions and people, and the guiding forces that keep them evolving and
spreading their message among the populace.
Diondray's Journey will delight fantasy
readers looking for an epic
journey through social strata that holds especially significant
modern times. It is highly recommended as a series standout in the
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A Door Into Time
ASIN: B084JLKXTV $3.99 Kindle
A Door Into Time, Book 1 in the Alex Hawk
Time Travel adventure
series, blends the fast-paced adventure approach of Jules Verne, H.
Haggard, and other master storytellers of the past with the
of emotion-based sagas.
ex-Special Army Forces member trying to readjust to civilian and family
Charged by his ex with constantly disappointing his daughter, Alex is
improve his relationship and follow-through while staying true to his
Deployment provided one excuse for his failures as a father, but now
away from service, he needs to cultivate choices that do not disappoint
about to embark on a time travel adventure that will lead him even
her world, bringing him into a time and place that offers no clear
It's a world
containing dinosaur vultures, giant cockroaches, and the dual legacies
old prophecy and a prior homeowner who struggles to return to his
experience has given him the ability to survive impossible situations,
he exist in a world where his very presence is considered to be an act
where he is enslaved, and where he is forced to pick sides in a battle
holds no clear opportunities for returning to his family?
to juxtapose the special interests of past, present, and future and the
struggles one man experiences in the fight to not just survive, but
his life, creates a gripping story packed with psychological insights,
of plot, and involving, nonstop action.
and white artistic images by Jerry Weible enhances this presentation
intriguing embellishments that bring the story to life.
looking for a
solid time-travel adventure filled with battles, personal challenge,
that moves from psychological to physical confrontations will relish A Door Into Time's ability to weave a
strong story with many different characters and elements that capture
reader interest in more than just the time travel story.
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Shadow of a
Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington
978-1-944109-96-7 $17.99 Paper/$8.99 ebook
the Shadow of a Valiant Moon is the second book in the It
Takes Death To Reach A Star
duology and takes place four years after the conclusion of the first
Here, Etyom has fallen into darkness. A new plague has become
changing society and resulting in violence that destroys both survivors
Demitri has been
taken prisoner by a demon in his
own mind in this struggling world, somehow paired with a madman in a
connection that challenges his life and abilities. And Mila struggles
preserve the few vestiges of Etyom that are left.
As a band of survivors on
both sides confront inner
demons and special interests, the perseverance of civilization itself
a thread, and on their decisions and ability to overcome impossible
Prior readers who absorbed
the characters and battles of
the first book are in for a treat with In the Shadow of a Valiant Moon. The
same characters, attention to detail, fast-paced, action-based
and inner and social struggles permeate a post-apocalyptic survival
is complex and riveting.
Mila dreamed of war and
famine, the four horsemen of the
apocalypse. She dreads the demon of Death, who will usher in the end of
And she knows her role in these changes will be more than that of a
observer even as she struggles with her faith.
As Vedmak discovers the
truth in the history of Etyom and
the rich and poor who formed pathways to escape and redemption and Mila
into her dreams, nightmares, and destiny, a host of characters and
coalesce in a riveting story that is hard to put down.
Newcomers might think that
the broad cast of characters
and changing perspectives of this story require familiarity with the
book, but In
the Shadow of a Valiant Moon uses a seamless formula for
re-introducing these major players. It presents their biographies in a
that sets the stage for anyone unfamiliar with this world.
their psyches are cultivated by Stu Jones & Gareth Worthington,
and new readers alike will find the swift action and spiritual, social,
philosophical conundrums compelling and accessible.
be involved. Players will be required to live their days for the
benefit of not
only themselves, but others. The story leads to an unexpected bang of a
conclusion that holds a deep-rooted message for all readers. It's a
revelation that sums up the real underlying struggle that all the
experience in different ways.
post-apocalyptic survival stories are in for a treat with the depth of
psychological, philosophical, and spiritual revelation wound into this
intense social change and personal journeys.
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Inviting the Moon to Supper
Three Furies Press, LLC
ebook: 9781950722396 $0.99 Kindle
Print: 9781950722402 Price: TBA
Fantasy readers with an interest in Norse mythology and quests will find Inviting the Moon to Supper a fine story that opens with Sam's efforts to connect on a deeper level with her Native American cultural traditions and heritage, which she knows only from the teachings of her adoptive white grandfather, Otter Ambrose, who has also instilled in her an introductory sense of survival and power over her choices.
Inviting the Moon to Supper offers a fine juxtaposition of fantasy and real-world background. Sam's isolation, her acknowledgement that she has a new mission in her life, and the new goals she fosters immerse her in legends and a relationship that is unusual in her world.
Clark moves between setting up the story of Sam's life and psyche to a first-person observational piece (from her beloved dog's viewpoint) based on her new encounters: "I think of the giant, gentle horse Satch again. I think of the warmth of my mother. I lower myself carefully next to the horse's side and curl into a ball under the fur blanket. A deep shudder travels through the horse’s body. Suddenly very sleepy, overcome with weakness and a searing pain in my back leg, I close my eyes and listen to the horse breathe in and out. I begin to understand that Sam will never find me if I stay here. I fall asleep knowing I must escape, and yet knowing I cannot leave the horse."
These passages offer an atmospheric 'you are here' opportunity to enjoy Sam's journey from both her own perspective and through the eyes of others. Her choice to run away, her encounters with magic and new possibilities of her power and heritage, and the struggles over a newfound ability that then begins to get out of control creates a compelling story of a strong, isolated heroine who makes different connections in life via her newfound powers, a magical world, and friendships which arise from that to break her isolation.
As Sam deftly wields the Hammer of Thor, forms new relationships that support her quest and cause, readers receive both a magical quest saga and the story of a young Native American woman just coming into her powers, testing and learning her responsibilities and limits.
The combination of fantasy journey and psychological inspection is well done and offers a solid, engrossing story that juxtaposes dreams and reality as Sam grows into her abilities and life.
Magical realism audiences who look for multifaceted stories of growth and evolving wisdom will find Inviting the Moon to Supper a compelling leisure read holding a powerful message.Inviting the Moon to Supper
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Cases of Psychic Phenomena
Joshua Viola, et.al.
978-1733917773 $2.99 Kindle
Psi-Wars: Classified Cases of Psychic Phenomena is
combat, and the types of battles that usually are only touched upon in
psi-related stories and non-military sci-fi. Introductions by the
provide insights on how these tales evolved.
Perry Godwin' by Dean Wyant, for example. Before the story's appearance
in the anthology, author Wyant contributes to a foreword to the book
added to by other contributors, as well) which explains that the story
originated in an eccentric uncle's World War II story told to a young
This tale was tempered over the years by Wyant's investigations into
history and battle and his better understanding of these events.
coalesced in a
tale which holds a background familiar to him, yet which he twists in
unusual manner. The foreword also holds extensive details on how he
involved with Joshua Viola. The insights provided in the foreword by
author provide important details on their perspectives, evolution, and
contributions to this work both via the unique piece and their
Pennsylvania boy whose desire for a special lakeside Christmas is
answered in a
different way when a geyser erupts from the lake with a dangerous
he can see. Perry's visions began at the age of nine as an inheritance
strange uncle, so he is used to being able to see disaster before it
What he doesn't anticipate is a new kind of disaster that will affect
but thousands of lives.
stave off tragedy and sometimes not, but this latest vision holds the
to change everything.
Killing in the
Dead of Night' by Gary Jonas is another notable story that opens with
intriguing plea by a woman who begs freelancer performer William
save her and help her dangerous lover, as well. She needs him to hit
switch, but William has problems of his own as a freelance operative,
doesn't want to face a competitor with an active assassination trigger.
Among Us' treatise, William cultivates a special kind of attention and
exposing UFO involvements that further complicates his moves, making
attractive to killers in his audience...a killer like Eric, who is
control. Can the same kill phrase that helped save Carolyn Zimmer work
of a very different milieu emerges which joins other wonderful
scenarios in which the mind is the weapon, both internally and
changing the world.
brooding, satisfying stories of confrontation, death, and wonder. Each
twist that most readers won't anticipate, making them standouts both
individually and as part of this extraordinary collection, which is
recommended for sci-fi and horror fans alike.
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On the Way
Judith Petres Balogh
9798638880828 $16.50 Paper/$5.50 Kindle
decades, a war, and a continental journey comes the memoir of Judith
woman who writes heartfelt words that draw readers without the need for
of editors and influencers: "...there
I am, spending about a year on a book, sitting long and lonely hours at
computer and as a result my body needs a major tune-up every six
months, so it
remembers how to move, if possible without pain.
I do not have an assistant or a hairdresser
and not even a man with a mystery job to assist me. I have no long list
helpers, who could make my work better, or at least acceptable. I have
director to tell me to redo a scene because it does not work; nobody
make the background unforgettable, no musician with the sensitive ears
Mozart or Bach to tell me when the rhythm and melody of my lines insult
reader. Indeed, writing is one of the most private occupations of a
If On the Way Home: Across
Two Continents, a War and Almost Nine Decades was
considered to be the autobiographical summary of Judith Balogh's
career, it should be not only applauded but seen as a work worthy of
an encore, should one be available.
simply, this is
a treasure not just because it's written by a woman who lived a long
life and reflects upon it in a literary fashion, but because it's
spice, vigor, and determination which defies the usual form of
a survey of events and transition points.
in her candid words, which consider and reject the usual courses of
autobiographical writings while acknowledging the underlying prejudices
detriments of the form: "ON THE WAY
HOME among other things, tries to prove that it can be written without
self-adulation or idealizing the long life and the events and thoughts
it. I am afraid I
anything disgraceful. Part of my life was played out when the world was
destructing itself in a horrible war; yet I was sheltered in the
of childhood and
the love of my mother. My life was too tame and too well adjusted to
of those juicy details. Against the good advice, I shall not omit
philosophies, because I feel these are as much part of a person’s life
events that happened to him. I don’t know about
Evelyn Waugh, but personally it bores me when I have to listen to
someone telling me what
she cooked, what she bought, whom she met, whose party she attended,
irregularities were found in her body.
I enjoy the company of one, with whom I can
exchange ideas; I can argue, agree or disagree. I rather like the
remark of Dr.
Seuss, “Be who you are, and say what you feel, because those, who mind
matter; and those who matter, don’t mind.”
This creates a literary inspection that moves above the usual one-dimensional presentation. Take her purchase of the first real home since leaving Hungary and how dreams turn into nightmares: "I was so happy with the acquisition of the house, the first real home since we left Hungary, that no shortcoming could have dampened my spirit and I just could not believe our good luck. Moving date was set at early spring. Joy to the world and to the Ewendts! Excitement definitely spilleth over everything that was created by a generous God. Discounting one or two instances, the world has never known such pure and overwhelming happiness as mine was then. The house already had the windows and doors and the bulk of the work almost completed. And then the real estate speculator went bankrupt. I do not know how such companies go bankrupt. Did they use more nails on the houses than the budget permitted? Could they not sell all the plots they had?
the CEO’s car break down and
the purchase of a new one sent the company spinning? Did his wife need
facelift and that emptied the piggy bank? I do no know how it works. I
never a CEO and never went
never, not in all my life did have a bank account of more than five
I knew that we purchased a house and suddenly I was told that it cannot
finished that it is a half-built dream that is not livable now or in
future. We were stunned. Things like that could not happen, or at the
reflections, ideals, thoughts, and life changes against the backdrop of
and political convention, Balogh's story rises above the mundane,
individual experience to consider how a synthesis of early and later
social changes intersect to craft unique experiences.
compelling writing that blends the events of decades with their impact
life's course. It traverses birth, death, relationships, loss, love,
other facets of life with a literary hand that doesn't shy away from
emotional moments and their lasting lessons. It also incorporates a wry
of humor and observational irony that places these world events in
the reflective highlights and memories of Judith Balogh's long life,
receive poignant moments that hold opportunities for reflection and
their own lives, as in her experience of her mother's death: "Mother just died. I broke down crying,
not because she died, we knew that it was coming, but at her tremendous
trans-life love. Somehow
she knew at
some level of consciousness that I was deeply hurt, or else when she
must have seen clearly the pain I had because she did not recognize
spirit followed me through the snow storm and into the store, where for
reason I decided to sit down when that strange woman appeared, who
could see ghosts. Mother’s appearance was a message that said: it was
condition that caused her not to recognize me,
but truthfully she did not forget me. And above all, it
told me clearly,
that although her
beating, her brain
waves stopped moving,
yet she continued
to exist somehow in
some form, had memory, love, could care and could carry out a plan. I cried and
cried—because of relief and love
and because of an immense gratitude for having received from her such
unbelievable gift. My grieving was made so much easier because of this
wonderful happening. I know that she exists somewhere and I know that
meet again. I truly do not care how others would interpret this
is what happened and this is what it meant to me."
On the Way Home defines the idea of
autobiography as a personal
piece that holds the power to not only connect strangers' lives but
gap between author and reader. It synthesizes a lifetime of experience
deft hand that is forthright and clear.
evocative, compelling autobiographical writings will welcome the
immerse themselves in On the Way Home,
a survey of Hungarian culture, Catholic religion, and Judith Balogh's
through a changing world.
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Adelaide Books, LLC
Hardcover: 1951214056 $27.30
Paperback: 1950437019 $23.20
Raw Thoughts is a photo-poem pairing
designed to enhance daily
thought processes, blending image and word in a cathartic, emotionally
compelling synthesis of literary and psychological inspection.
builds on its predecessor to create a building block of reflection,
and wonder. Many poems are paired two to a page and complement each
in 'Wondering If' and 'Loss', which lead from musing about whether
really a good thing to the anguish of confronting a loss. A stark black
white facing image of feet perched on the edge of a rooftop cements
poetic reflections with visual acuity.
love's divide and alienation which is complimented by a particularly
photo of a man and a woman facing each other in different ways, a wall
them, to the juxtaposition of 'We Were There' and 'With You', which
too-close connections between 'love' and 'goodbye' and the journey
increased connections with all their uncertainty. Here, it becomes
many of these 'raw thoughts' center on romance and interpersonal
involve family and love. 'Stigma', for example, provides a stark view
walking past a suffering homeless man who is a "blight to the world."
photographs blend with psychological inspection and revelations,
receive an interconnected series of insights that incorporates elements
mindful reflection, growth, and social inspection. The process of
lends to and changes who we are, as do these poems and images, which
power to linger in the mind long after they are read.
synthesis of photographic and literary expression steeped in
philosophical reflection will find Raw
Thoughts just the ticket for an emotionally gripping,
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The Soul Gatherers: Thirteen Western Tales
Condor Publishing, Inc.
978-1-931079-26-6 Price: $12.95
Gatherers: Thirteen Western Tales presents thirteen
short pieces by
storyteller Charlie Steel and infuses Western themes with stories of
leading a good life, versus making choices that lead to wrongdoing and
powerful messages wrapped in a succinct adventure or encounter that
characters and provides insights into their lives.
for example, 'The Devil, The Gambler, and The Girl', tells of an
boy who, early on, turns to the dark side of making a living via
"Slicker with cards than the average man," Jack Diamond holds the
ability to gamble with luck, shuffle a winning deck, and affect the
fall on his side.
As with any gambling situation, his skill eventually runs out, even when it's powered by his own prowess in manipulating the cards. In this case, Jack's aging process affects his acuity and portends disaster and retirement. Also at play is remorse over those lives destroyed by his gaming scams.
a pact with the devil that trades recurring nightmares for his soul,
haunting dreams vanish, but he's still left with remorse: “...he
taken the easy path, using his sharp mind to count cards, to cheat his
man, to turn to avarice in pursuit of a wastrel’s life.”
involvement beyond his encounter with the Devil offers redemption in a
surprising form...something his entire life's influences could not
The Devil Come For An Old Man'. Xavier P. Horace waits for death and
on a 'wasted life', lost in reminisces of regret.
see the devil arrive, having seen fleeting glimpses of him all his life
his career as a soldier and killer of men. What is surprising is that
doesn't bring resolution, but a confrontation between Angel and Devil
stirs up some uncommon truths about the old man's life...truths that
this last outcome with a surprise most won't see coming.
the evolution of good and evil lives, the forces that influence and
them, and the potentials for final redemption from chosen paths of
Western themes paired with those of faith and redemption, the stories
in capturing powerful elements of both.
Western readers seeking the thrill, action, and daily lives of cowboys
frontier settings may initially be surprised by the underlying
messages and tone of these encounters, The Soul
Western Tales will delight spiritual readers who
enjoy more than
cursory considerations of Western experiences. This
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Belle Devereaux Publishing
978-1734183009 $9.99 paperback; $2.99 Kindle
Ordering links: Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tabernacle-marc-cavella/1136596301?ean=9781734183009
are rarely worth reading. Too often they prattle on about a subject
unrelated to understanding the story line. Tabernacle
opens with a foreword that is fun and enlightening in a thoroughly
introduction to a story that promises the same, reviewing the unique
the South for "...readers who had the misfortune o’ bein’ born
o’ the deep South might have a hard time understandin’ how we talk."
the stage for the story, it also sets the tone and the humor which runs
Tabernacle: "“Less’n”—That just
means “unless”. As in, “You shouldn’t read this story less’n you wanna
and cry, and have your faith in humanity both annihilated and restored.”
salesman who can sell virtually anything...even products none of his
actually want. His journey across the Deep South with an adopted child
of his greatest sales represents a cross between a comedy, a quest, a
and a romp through different lives.
at capturing Edward's conversations, insights, and quiet revelations as
moves through a series of encounters, injecting his background and
culture into the mix: "What kind of
barbecue do you like? Memphis? Texas? Kansas City?” “Any o’ that’ll do.
long as it ain’t that Georgia style. Can’t stand that danged mustard
insights about this environment as they follow Edward on a journey
of the greatest sales achievements of his quiet career.
flowing language, dialogues between strangers, and observations of all
life and culture from sports to food and family relationships, Tabernacle is a Western comedy of a
and quietly evocative, it flows through the mystery, language, and
of the South with a practiced attention to detail. Tabernacle
will simply delight literary readers who enjoy Westerns
that are fun, thought-provoking, and extraordinary genre standouts.
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Death By the
River (A St. Benedict Novel, Book I)
Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor
978-1-944109-14-1 $18.95 Paper/$8.99 ebook
hangout where they can be with friends, away from the prying eyes of
Death By the River, that hangout—the
abandoned St. Francis Seminary by the river—turns deadly as one rich
spoiled member, Beau, turns out to be a young evil psychopath who
the dark side of murder and torture in an increasingly deadly journey.
he wants through gaslighting, aggression, and pursuit. And the things
most are those people who defy him, whom he seemingly can't have. And
seems able or willing to stop him.
Lucas Astor excel at describing the relationship twists Beau introduces
pursues Dawn, handles twin Leslie, and manipulates everyone around him
purposeful, evil vengeance: "Dread
cascaded through her. She couldn’t lose him. What would happen to her
reputation? Last night things had been great between them, and now
study in how women become victims and how victims become easy prey to
manipulators who operate under the guise of something different, Death By the River represents a standout
in the literature, and is the first book in the St. Benedict series. It
not just events, but how they transpired, cultivating an acuity and
that is vivid, realistic, and engrossing.
approach, there is a fair degree of violence. While this is graphically
portrayed, it's in keeping with the nature and evolution of the story
That said, readers who want lighter treatments of violence should look
elsewhere. Alexandrea Weis and Lucas Astor pull no punches in either
description or their psychological probe, and leave nothing to wonder.
readers will find this story mesmerizing. It's a mystery, it's a
novel, and it's a psychological portrait akin to Lord
of the Flies—but centered on a psychopathic individual's
ability to manipulate and attack his peers. Group dynamics are also a
this equation, in that a circle of peers see what is going on, but are
to stop it.
and growing terror on the river to individuals who try to escape the
intrigue and horror, Death By the River
is especially powerful in its portrait of not just how a psychopath
how he operates within and outside of normal social circles. Why do
keep quiet? What power is wielded by those who would abuse and kill?
mature readers interested in this evolutionary process with a story
centered on developing relationships, good and evil, and a group of
teeter on an uncertain adulthood. Some will survive. Some will not.
choices, values, and thoughts drive a story that is thoroughly
as it's emotionally gripping in its journey through sexual assault,
and challenges to justice.
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Geoffrey M. Cooper
Maine Authors Publishing
Forever is a medical thriller along the
lines of a Robin Cook-style
saga, but with the added bonus of Brad Parker's first-person
adds personal drama and observation to a research professor's brush
FBI and ever-increasing danger.
High-octane action is
present from the start, from a simple walk down a work hallway to
FBI's unusual presence to an evolving story of academic espionage. This
the professor from his beloved research and long-deserved sabbatical
classroom, and back into the same style of intrigue and investigation
drained his energy previously.
Brad was content in the lab,
happy to be just another
worker. When he enters a quagmire of deadly danger, Chinese espionage
and high-tech spying operations, he begins to see that the science he
much has evolved a special kind of threat that goes beyond foreign
interests and subterfuge. From the possible misuses of gene editing and
engineering human traits and abilities to the manipulation of unknown
that defy identification and apprehension, Brad increasingly finds
pulled from the coveted job he loves back into arenas he swore never to
The pressure and lies
surrounding the funding of his
project from Walter Monroe's foundation lead him to understand why
researchers might fudge their data to produce fundable results.
the dilemma of a major grant that would buy his loyalty at a steep
faces many moral, professional, and ethical conundrums that keep him on
toes in more ways than one.
Unlike Cook's typical focus
on the thriller angle alone,
Geoffrey M. Cooper adds many professional and personal layers into his
keep readers engaged not just in subterfuge, but a struggling
research and commitments. A solid, realistic dose of scientific insight
the story to cement this sense of purpose: "The
behavioral tests were actually rather ingenious. I liked the smell
test best. It determined how effectively a mouse could smell the major
component of fox urine on a piece of filter paper—by measuring how far
mouse kept away from the threatening
The fact that there's a time
bomb ticking over the entire
process lends satisfying tension and intrigue as Brad navigates dangers
and outside the lab and comes to realize that his choices, actions, and
abilities may not be enough to ward off disaster on many different
Herein lies the second
strength of Forever:
its ability to flavor its multifaceted story with layers of complexity
involvement that move from scientific and political circles to personal
challenge. At every step, Brad confronts one of these elements. His
objectives prove mercurial as he is buffeted by various influencers and
to constantly reexamine his objectives, connections, and strengths.
The result is a
gripping, science-based story that revolves around manipulation,
murky situations. Forever is
to keep readers on edge to its satisfying conclusion. It is highly
reading for science thriller readers looking for more lab focus, more
and more action than the usual formula production offers.
Return to Index
Martin Roy Hill
Readers of mysteries and PI accounts will find The Fourth Rising just the ticket for a different kind of story that revolves around Nazism's ongoing presence in the 20th century.
correspondent Peter Brandt is on a treasure hunt like no
with reporting on a murder in Mexico, he finds himself investigating
drug cartels, but the rise of a Nazi conspiracy to resurrect the Fourth
and continue its objectives for world domination.
murder and its connections, he becomes embroiled in affairs that
bigger picture of conundrums and challenges, including matters of his
and the roles he played in betraying others in the past. Charged with
elements of his past while playing with fire in the present day, he
a former flame to the rise of fascism represented in the game plan of
League for Freedom and Responsibility.
reporter and investigator Peter Brandt's personal evolution with his
political challenges is very well done. Martin Roy Hill injects just
blend of attention to psychological and political growth to keep this
investigative piece involving on many levels.
between Mexico and the Nazi party are explored (based on true
that indicate the party survived World War II and is alive and
another country), Brandt's investigation toes the line between a
and a search for truth not just about one murder, but the dangerous
of a conspiracy group.
As Jo and
closer to the truth, they also walk into danger and must bluster their
fast-paced, this mystery/thriller will intrigue readers who want their
multifaceted, involving, and intriguing on more than one level.
Return to Index
The Hidden Hand of Death
Lawrence J. Epstein
ASIN: B086T371T7 $.99 Kindle
The Hidden Hand of Death is the first
book in a series of Jack
Ryder mysteries, and is set in early 1942 as World War II breaks out.
Ryder has a reputation for killing mob members who threaten innocent
His Robin Hood style of justice is about to hit home when a homicide
hires the PI to locate his sister, only to find himself facing the rise
Nazism in New York and a dangerous undercurrent of death that he hasn't
detective who wants to protect his uncertain reputation, an uncertain
emerges which becomes a part of Jack's decisions and the reader's
of his personality: "That's the
essence of your weakness. You're too sentimental. People are like ants,
crawling along. The strong kill the weak. And everyone has to search
We're animals is all. That's why I have no idea why, but you do seem to
about people." "That's a terrible trait in a killer," Everett
force Jack to confront his own motivations, personality, and his
role as a 'fixer' of human affairs, and readers gain a
that goes beyond the usual detective thriller to delve into personal
and social change: "I felt the
stinging reality of powerlessness, the failure and inability to do what
supposed to do, which was to fix the problems people brought to me."
gritty detectives who pursue their own ideals against all odds,
forces on both sides of the law in a blend of changing street scenes
challenging social issues, will especially appreciate The
Hidden Hand of Death's attention to blending action and
personal insights: "If you live
outside the law you need a lot of friends and if they live outside the
enemy is not
your usual foe, his influences and choices do not take the usual routes
resolving themselves or emerging, and the result is a fine survey
twists that turn a hit man into something very different. Jack's
rackets and murders hides his underlying heart, creating a multifaceted
that is a compelling account of different kinds of prisons and the
land people in them.
Fans of noir
detective stories, scenarios set against the backdrop of Nazism's rise
War II, and stories of bad guys who aren't singular will find The Hidden Hand of Death thrilling,
and hard to put down. It's a top recommendation among crime thrillers
due to its realistic historical backdrop.
Return to Index
Robert D. Rice II
Writers View Publishing Company
9798609957924 $8.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
a killer. Then he married her. Now she's fled town, and he faces the
consequences of his choices and loss of love in Ordinary
open with Jack's dilemma. Instead, it surveys the milieu of the 1940s
southern Indochina, where a robbery involves a Frenchman, a child, and
for riches and murder.
Chicago, years later, where ex-cop detective Jack botched a murder case
involving the famous Deja', but remains an investigator at heart: "Being a detective was my life. My
whole life. It wasn’t a vocation. It was an advocation."
readers full circle to the place introduced in the story's prologue,
with newcomer Chicago investigator Jack's impressions: "We
sailed into port in Southeast Asia to a province with a name I
couldn’t pronounce. With un-countable hopes stuffed into individual
bags, we staggered down the gangplank, relieved to have made it. Asia
mysterious. If Wild West crazy was for you, try rollin’ in the East.
East, baby. If ever there was a culture tangled in its secrets, that
place. Those on board who were born there kept that stoic,
I never believed they all looked alike. It was well known, they didn’t
injects a humorous tone into his tale that blends well with the gritty
of cross-cultural and social encounters that continually challenge
mission: "You don’t belong here,
white boy!” His words seemed to get sucked into these surroundings.
With no one
looking like me for miles around, I said, “I don’t belong anywhere.” He
ready for that, forcing him to rearrange whatever he was about to say
added, “I just got out, wantin’ to shoot a few games and hang loose.”
places, when you say you just got out, it draws a level of credibility.
easy to give the impression that there was only one place I could’ve
themselves chuckling even as they pursue the combination of serious
self-inspection, romance, and mystery-solving that keeps Jack on his
toes in a
pirouette of disaster.
Ordinary Suicide is about fate, a clever
woman who is trouble, and
a dedicated investigator's determination to uncover the truth both for
sake and in the pursuit of justice. It's a riveting cat-and-mouse romp
right and wrong designed to keep readers immersed and guessing up to
unexpected, satisfying conclusion.
Return to Index
Nancy Nau Sullivan
Light Messages Publishing
Paperback: 978-1-61153-330-9 $14.99
Ebook: 978-1-61153-332-3 $ 6.99
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/saving-tuna-street-nancy-nau-sullivan/1136154811?ean=9781611533309&st=AFF&SID=B%26N+Sample+Feed&2sid=Light+Messages+Publishing_8091507_NA&sourceId=AFFLight+Messages+Publishing&cjevent=5449f11e66f411ea839e03260a240610&dpid=tekz25v83
of Saving Tuna Street will be delighted with the
strong sense of seaside
place and the personality of Blanche “Bang” Murninghan in this story of
part-time journalist who lives an idyllic life in a beachside cottage
it's threatened by developers who try to force her to sell.
pressure is only the tip of the story iceberg. When her good friend is
murdered, Blanche's probe leads her to confront drug runners,
murderers who then turn their sights on her.
changes and faces new challenges, Blanche finds that the idyllic
her once-peaceful home has changed ("Nothing’s the same around
anymore. Something’s been broken.”). People are locking their
their hearts. Can her journalistic inquiries and investigative skills
Saving Tuna Street is more than just a murder mystery. It's about the
injection of special
interests into a community's makeup, the changes experienced by those
confront adversaries who will do anything to achieve their goals, and a
woman who faces murder, a community's disruption, and kidnapping with
Blanche find themselves at a loss when she vanishes. As the
and support of this seaside town come under assault, Nancy Nau Sullivan does a terrific job of
flushing out characters, special interests and influences, and the
and goals of a host of characters.
double lives are revealed to add to the intrigue. At the heart of this
whirlwind of angst and change is a tenacious woman who doesn't let go.
have to hone this skill further in order to save her own life as well
connections between community members with an eye to exploring the
ways they grow and change as events progress and become more serious.
mystery which incorporates many elements of psychological
investigative skills development, and changing community makeup. Saving Tuna Street will
initially draw readers with its mystery theme, but injects broader
concerns to keep readers guessing and reading until the story's
that Saving Tuna Street is first in a
series. After this, Blanche is off to find mayhem in
Mexico City, then
Ireland, Vietnam, Spain, and Argentina.)
Return to Index
Pine Ten, LLC
978-1-938212-90-1 $3.99 Kindle
Tessa is a
who was taken from her family because of her extraordinary ability to
things far away." She's a legend in the Remote Viewing Project, and
among other Extra Sensory Agents, she's special. Her ability doesn't
invulnerable, however, and her loyalty doesn't protect her from the
love and the special challenges of a top secret project she can't walk
from...a project that will take her to the next level of extra-sensory
seventeen, she is
given a command that will end the entire project, should she fail. It's
responsibility that threatens blossoming love, newfound abilities, and
everything Tessa has worked for in her short life.
It should be
that Tessa is the first book in a
series. Her adventures, psychic connection to Mary, and the events
both their lives bring her full circle in Chapter 14 in a satisfyingly
startling reference to the book's opening lines that become suddenly
revealing at this point in the plot.
at leading readers in one direction, only to make a 180-degree turn
results in a very different perspective, objective, and experience.
within and outside of the boundaries of an experiment which has made
something more than human, readers follow her psychic and psychological
development. She glides into love and danger with the unprotected
a teen tinged by the savvy of a girl who has been away from those who
for too long.
There is a
between loving someone and using them. As Tessa begins to uncover the
threads of her mission and life, she brings readers along in an
unpredictable ride through a quest that challenges her survival skills.
forgets her true objective, she's dead.
loosely on a
real government Remote Viewing program in the 1970s, the power and
Tessa and her comrades will delight and grip readers right up to an
which satisfies the immediate story while leaving the door open for
Tessa is highly recommended for thriller
readers and mature young
adults who like their action peppered with psychological and
Return to Index
978-1922323262 $12.95 Paper/$4.95 Kindle
Treasure is a captivating thriller that
delves into the occult as
it opens with combat veteran Maj. Michael Crooke's decision to take
off and visit the Caribbean island of St. Arcane.
when he becomes involved in a treasure map, a captain's search for
relics, and a competing group's determination to wrest the largess from
Hatch, even if it means kidnapping Michael's wife and stealing it for
a gripping dream aboard an ancient ship where a priest struggles with
supernatural powers of a blood red crystal skull and skips quickly to
present, where a Caribbean vacation becomes a nightmarish host of vivid
characters with very special interests.
combined with Indiana Jones for an idea of the atmosphere and adventure
that Treasure promises to its
add a dose of espionage-style thriller components as the characters
and Michael discovers that his beloved Katrina is threatened on more
excels in descriptions that are gripping and action-packed: "A muffled shriek turned him back.
Katrina's legs and flippers frantically
churned water, pushing hard to get out.
A long train of hair followed her up and stopped. The long hair belonged to
one of many corpses
suspended between the massive beams supporting the deck above. Lobster, shrimp and crabs
swarmed in the
gnarled hair, feeding on rotting flesh. The train of hair jerked tight,
the head of the corpse and extended the body.
Chain shackled to an ankle pulled tight, flesh cleaved
from bone and the
ankle separated. The
pace of the
adventure, combined with the myriad of special forces operating against
another and the backdrop of supernatural influences, makes for a story
compelling and hard to put down.
If it's a
supernatural adventure story in the style of Indiana Jones that is
desired, Treasure provides just the
ticket for a
gripping journey filled with twists and turns, whether it be over the
of a dangerous treasure or matters of the heart.
Return to Index
Kindle ASIN: B0859NHZMY $ .99
Paperback ASIN: B0858TT49W $6.99
Adjusting My Sails follows Hannah
Curran's realization that her
alcoholism is destroying her family, life, and future. It provides
a vivid story of her recovery process as she moves from reluctant
to life-changing choices.
Hannah waking up in jail, moves through the dissolution of her
marriage, and perfectly captures husband Jason's anger and frustration
demands his wife quit justifying her actions and move out of their
think you can do whatever you please and then say, ‘but I was drunk!’
and we’ll forgive you. Well, I’m sick of it. I can’t keep living like
Wondering what I’ll come home to after work. Worrying that the police
to show up at my door one day to tell me you’re dead. Or worse yet,
that one of
the kids is dead because they were in the car with you when you were
it follows the small changes Hannah makes which she believes are big
steps to earn forgiveness, along with the feelings of those around her
these gestures of change can no longer be trusted.
As the story
readers receive a strong series of encounters between Hannah, her loved
and her own inner explanations and justifications. As Hannah learns
can't always turn to drink to soothe loss and heartache, she slowly
become a better person. But the challenge still lies in changing her
those around her, who have been repeatedly disappointed for a very long
Her goal of
her family back seems as elusive in sobriety as it is when she was
leading Hannah to question her objectives, her life, and her trajectory.
powerful account that goes beyond most stories of recovery to delve
process of turning away from the impulse to drink. Dialogue is
scenarios are compelling, and Chloe Finn's ability to delve into the
hearts of not just Hannah but everyone involved with her creates a
replete with poignant, realistic dialogues: "I want a drink.” Hannah called Leslie to
share the news about Joy, and she was crying into the phone. “I don’t
think about any of this. I want to drink and make it all go away.”
voice was calm and soothing. “Of course you do. You’re an alcoholic,
what we do when we’re in pain. But you have to think the drink
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Hannah was feeling devastated right
she wasn’t in the mood for a bunch of AA slogans and platitudes. “It
need to think about that drink, from beginning to end. Where is it
take you? Sure, the first one will feel good going down, right? Instant
But then there will be a second one and a third and so on, until you
If you’re lucky."
Readers of the exact
back-and-forth progress of
recovery from addiction will find Adjusting
My Sails a strong novel about the process. They will relish
journey not just back from an abyss, but into new purposes and more
methods of communicating. Adjusting My
Sails is especially highly recommended reading for anyone who
recovery, or who knows an addict struggling through the process.
Return to Index
James D. Snyder
979-8-63174-491-2 $19.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Amelia's Gold will appeal to historical
thriller readers, is set in
1864, and tells of a young woman from Savannah who finds her world
her beliefs challenged during the Civil War.
operates in a circle of Southern society that exists on the cusp of
conflict, and political challenges. Most eligible bachelors have gone
war, so Amelia faces the prospect of being a spinster, at age
the time they may return home.
about her future, but her involvement in the Confederate cause, family
fortunes, and the impact of war changes her in many unexpected ways,
already-determined personality into a lifesaving mission that allows
survive tragedy and remain alive when a shipwreck changes everything.
her privileged upbringing and perceptions of values in life and later
which destroy and challenge everything she believes in and holds dear
contributes a powerful psychological element to the suspense tale.
James D. Snyder excels at
weaving together the disparate
lives of people from different walks of life, brought together by
not of their choosing. Amelia's feisty personality helps her navigate
conditions that women in her position rarely encounter, while Snyder's
descriptions of her encounters and options captures her dilemmas and
contrast between opportunity and adversity: "Well,
here’s the way I see it,” he said at last. “You probably ain’t goin’
until the war ends or somethin’ big happens to change the balance. So,
going to propose a fair solution. You let me use that lifeboat of yours
some goods around Pamlico Sound. What I will do for you is let you run
this hospital.” Both opened their mouths to protest, but he held up his hand for silence."
presents a character that matures, changes, and
grows to confront her world in ways women once couldn't imagine. He
a backdrop of social mores and institutions that lend depth and a
atmosphere to Amelia's world: "The
reverend’s heart was on fire that morning. He began with the
powerful weapon: shame. “The war and the hurricane have caused us to
into our homes and into the cellars of our minds,” he intoned. “We
fear. We fear that the military will come along and take what we have –
our very neighbors. So, one hoards sugar but has no coffee. Another
coffee but has no sugar. The Bible has warned us of this condition
days of Deuteronomy."
Portsmouth Island and her involvement in a dangerous game leads her to
very different role in life than she'd ever dreamed, readers will be
Amelia's dilemmas; engrossed by her tragedy, recovery, and progressive
strength; and educated about the changing relationships between Union
Confederate forces and ordinary people on both sides.
compelling adventure that blends a young woman's evolution and coming
with the backdrop of a war that changes everything and a battle that
beyond a struggle to survive, on many levels.
fiction in general and Civil War events in particular will find Amelia's Gold rooted in a blend of real
history and fictional drama designed to attract and hold attention to
The dates, places, and major events are all factual, further enhancing
that celebrates the strength of women who survive and evolve beyond any
imagined role in society.
Return to Index
Black Rose Writing
Anna's Dance: A Balkan Journey is highly
recommended reading for
fans of women's literature, Jewish, and historical fiction. Alone in the Balkans in
twenty-three-year-old Anna Rossi receives a deeper and more trenchant personal understanding of
history and heritage than she ever could have learned from family or
Her coming of age against the backdrop of Eastern Europe creates a
compelling story of regional turmoil and a young woman's emotional
through it. When, after having been abandoned by the friend with whom
planning to spend a carefree, conventional summer abroad, Anna foregoes
practices only to find herself en route to the Balkans in a dangerous
with strangers, Anna encounters a brutal series of social, political,
psychological truths that threaten not only her perceptions of herself,
also her life.
outstanding job of juxtaposing Anna's psychological growth with her
appreciation of history, politics, and social issues: "She
felt tears form. She didn’t want to cry. It made her feel
like Hopkins’ Margaret, grieving for herself. But she recalled the
so recently sheltered and their pain washed over her again. As she
river and the solemn slopes, she traced the long line of humanity back
origins and tried to imagine the future. At last she reached the
all who lived were doomed to Marko’s end, a few years more or less
difference in the method. Then she let the dammed tears flow, careful
no sound and keep her head turned toward the water, away from Max and
She felt a cleansing peace."
greater understanding of the world around her and her own place in it,
undergoes a sea change that brings readers into the conflicts of
perceptions of Americans, Jewish history and issues, and a decade on
of paradigm-changing events.
but tempered with uncertainty: "You
understand so much, Anna, except about yourself. Kosta? Jordan? What do
know of the world? Even if they have traveled a bit. Of Jews?”
legacy of her actions and tries to protect future generations, readers
full circle, always immersed in a sense of place and time that serve as
powerful backdrops to Anna's conundrums as she navigates a strange and
perilous new world.
historical and international backdrops, stories of young women who
learn about these worlds and become more proactive in them, and who are
interested in Jewish history, romance, intrigue and danger will find
of Anna's Dance make for absolutely
compelling reading replete with cultural and psychological insights
Levy does an
outstanding job of capturing not just historical setting, injecting a
there' feel to the environment surrounding Anna, but the social,
psychological currents of the times.
The story is
accessible to non-history readers or those with little background in
era or the place, filling in any blanks with a deft attention to detail
makes absorbing this background effortless.
Return to Index
The Book of
Ebook: 978-0-9965922-4-6 $ 2.99
Print: 978-0-9965922-3-9 $15.99
In The Book of Revelations, Christine
Goldberg has struggled for a large part of her life to get to the
point she enjoys today, with a family, a good job, and security. All
threatened by the emergence of an ex-boyfriend who is in search of the
role in his acting career, the only thing that thus far has remained
on his goal, shallow, self-centered, and a part of her past that
didn't want exposed. He's also successful. His success hasn't led to
contentment, but to an obsession which has led him to being considered
one of Hollywood's shining stars.
the picture to complicate Ryan's life, his uncertain relationship with
girlfriend Megan, and his reconnection with Christine, it throws them
together despite their feelings about the past, and everything begins
a fine story where the past intersects with the present in two very
lives and personas. She paints a fine portrait of Christine, who faces
the professional demeanor of a businesswoman with more savvy and
than her younger self; and Ryan, whose personality hasn't veered much
obsessions and uncertainties even as he's cultivated uncommon success
reporters mirrors his casual use-them-and-drop-them attitude about
in his life, from his girlfriends to his colleagues: "Ryan
had no real relationships with other journalists or anyone else in
the media. He considered them a nuisance and always tried to avoid them
wearing a hat, sunglasses, and nondescript clothing in public."
to see the connections between these two disparate individuals aside
early encounter. The surprise lies in their evolution and shared
a closely-held secret that holds the power to change Ryan's life like
else. Ryan grows and changes throughout the story, finally developing
man he should have been all along.
The Book of Revelations explores
different kinds of revelations,
confrontations, and changes. It considers how one door opens as another
still closing, and explores changed concepts of family connections,
a chronicle of lies, truths, and revised lives will find The
Book of Revelations an emotional ride into the choices and
consequences of two disparate individuals who find their lives coming
circle in unexpected ways. It's highly recommended reading for those
to see their characters evolve later in life, and for readers who know
that no story
is set in stone until the end of life.
Return to Index
Call Me Joe
Martin van Es and Andrew Crofts
world is at
its darkest hour, a savior will emerge. It does so in this scenario,
savior's name is Joe.
especially now, the scenario of Call Me
Joe mirrors our own world where the environment is under
attack, people are
confused and frightened, and things seem to be falling apart. In this
world, Joe enters as a savior facing challenges in drawing a divided
together. But, this story isn't just about Joe or his impact.
When the sun
and stymies scientists, politicians, and the public alike, everything
moving from theories of aliens and mass hysteria to an uncertain
that nothing will ever be the same.
perhaps the world's only hope, and there are savvy individuals who see
miracles and envision a different way of translating them to salvation:
"Although we have all been successful
in our own fairly narrow fields during those years, we cannot claim
have been able to catch the public imagination or the attention of the
media when it comes to explaining the urgency of the problems facing
We have all now had a chance to see the impact of your miracles on the
internet. That is exactly the sort of viral coverage we have always
for in order to get our messages out there and to provoke fast
reactions from those
in power, but of course we have never achieved it. Most of the world
want to listen to the dry ramblings of a bunch of professionals and
Even with the social media skills of people like Lalit, we have not
to ignite the imaginations of people in the numbers that we need. We
exactly what we want to achieve by way of changes and we have prepared
meet all the possible outcomes of the things that are going wrong."
in Call Me Joe, and why it differs
from the usual apocalyptic story in its approach. Martin van Es and
Crofts incorporate a host of special interests, different approaches to
disaster planning and life, and the revised definitions of crime and
which are wound into the overall survival question.
creates more than just another environmental disaster tale. Call Me Joe is a close inspection of
evolving moral and spiritual reactions and the effects of special
the choices mankind must make in the face of extinction and
political factions both domestically and internationally perceive one
then shift their opinions and observations during the course of Joe's
and the fading light of the world offers particularly engrossing food
thought as Joe, "just a man", offers wise approaches that indicate he
is something much more.
apocalyptic stories that focus on more than just physical and
survival alone will delight in the social, political, and spiritual
entanglements that Joe's arrival and the concurrent disaster bring to
world. Call Me Joe is an involving,
compelling read right up to the conclusion and call for radical
of mankind's choices and social and political structures for the sake
Return to Index
Coffee Killed My Mother
Donna Koros Stramella
9781951896386 $19.60 (print); $4.99 (print)
Publisher Website: http://adelaidebooks.org/coffee_killed_my_mother.html
Barnes and Nobles: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/coffee-killed-my-mother-donna-koros-stramella/1136293192
Anna Lee's mother is a
recovering alcoholic who has
replaced booze with coffee in Coffee
Killed My Mother. She is on the cusp of adulthood when her
a coffee-tasting road trip. Anna Lee has grown up with her mother's
disasters, and disappointments ruling her life. Her mother has always
Will this over-the-top road trip change their relationship?
It turns out that her mother
holds an agenda beyond
coffee or togetherness. There are secrets that need to be exposed to
almost-adult daughter after years of subterfuge, and as Anna Lee
revelations, she begins to understand the life and influences of a
mother who gave birth at age 44 and now faces a difficult recovery.
Donna Koros Stramella
cultivates an observational style
which is humorously pointed at times: "Just
like we’re backpacking across Europe,” she told me as we packed. But
backpacks. And without Europe." Even as her mother struggles
to do the
right thing by confiding in her daughter, Anna Lee knows that
selfishness is at
the heart of all her efforts. She also faces decisions that could cut
mother from her life and embrace near-strangers that should have been
it all along.
As Donna Stramella
strengthens Anna Lee's voice and
probes her choices, readers receive a realistic story of an entire
struggling to recover not just from alcoholism, but the codependent
Anna Lee tries to reconcile
distant memories with today's
reality and put together the pieces of her life and relationship with a
that holds both old and new patterns of reaction. Readers gain a fine
insights on recovery, behavior patterns, and mother/daughter
affected by addiction choices.
By choosing a spunky
first-person protagonist and adding
a mystery that challenges her relationship with an unpredictable
Stramella's Coffee Killed My Mother
succeeds in creating a thoroughly engrossing study in recovery that is
realistic, immediate, and unlike most competing tales of family
Its blend of coming-of-age
relationship probe, and mystery will delight not just teens, but older
who will find Anna Lee's narration and adventures thoroughly engrossing
hard to put down.
Return to Index
Fanaticism: An Eye for An Eye
Catalina Sun Press
979-8636065470 $9.00 Paper/$0.99 Kindle
Confronting Religious Fanaticism: An Eye for An Eye is Book One in a fictional trilogy. It follows the life of Ira Neebest from childhood to his return after being kidnapped for writing a prize-winning but controversial story about the evils of religious orthodoxy.
From his family's Jewish roots and struggles with the religious legacy of their heritage to his wife's Catholic traumas, Ira's world as described in the trilogy is beset upon by religious forces and influences that operate both within and outside of a myriad of belief systems. Ironically, they all share the same roots: religious fanaticism.
By adopting this unified approach to different key religions and following their enactment through the lives and experiences of different characters, Steve Shear crafts a story that offers insights into beliefs, motivations, cultural and family influences, and life stories.
As Ira grows
interactions with a range of different people, both believers and
non-believers, craft an approach to life that is unique. These
fully explored in a story replete with interactions, questions, and
at every step of Ira's life.
In this Book One, Ira’s mother Rebecca asks Leonard: "What does an atheist believe in? I mean, how does it feel to be an atheist?” “How does it feel to be …?” Leonard hesitated. “I guess the same way it feels to believe in God. Maybe a bit freer, possibly scarier sometimes since you really are on your own.” “So, God does not exist? Really?” I asked. Even the question seemed utterly foreign to me. I couldn’t imagine having this conversation with my parents or anyone in my community back home. “I haven’t the slightest idea.” “What? Then you’re not an atheist. You’re … what is the English word … agnostic.” For some reason, it made me feel better, short lived as it was. “The two are much the same. Atheists can’t possibly know that God doesn’t exist anymore than you can know for sure that he or she or it does. We are all agnostic in these matters, but I try to live my life, for better or worse, as if there is no God, no afterlife, no one to pray to, no higher being to please."
From coping methods for life and religion to changing perspectives on both for Ira (as well has his mother Rebecca and his father Leonard), readers receive a solid example of religious fanaticism and how it affects regular people and regular families. Complicating all this are the religious entanglements of rabbis and other religious leaders who become involved in family dynamics and interactions.
Confronting Religious Fanaticism: An Eye for An Eye sounds like a nonfiction analysis, but its fictional backdrop evolving characters and the attention Shear gives to exploring their foundations of heritage lends the story an accessibility and interest belayed by its analytical-sounding title.
The fictional backdrop allows characters to come to life and evolve in unexpected ways, lending a personal touch to the topic that would not have been possible in a nonfiction format.
The result is a religious inspection of beliefs, dogma, and the social and political entanglements of faith in family roots that lends much food for thought as issues surrounding God, good and evil, and connections to Jewish heritage are explored throughout a lifetime and beyond.
will especially interest readers of Jewish fiction and religious
will find the story of a mother's life and death to be compelling.
Return to Index
Cut from the
978-0-5786-4577-3 $17.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
happy to sail away from his Newport roots, which are laden with
poisonous hate. The problem is that Frank isn't just single-handedly
out for a Caribbean adventure. He's left a trail of carnage in his
which prompts the Coast Guard to pursue him to bring a killer to
is he a killer, or a victim?
Cut from the Fold provides a tightly
woven story of intrigue and
psychological inspection powered, introduced, and concluded by diary
that capture the inner mind of the perp: "Somehow
though, putting words on paper always helps to bring things back to
me only, though. That is because ‘life’ is exactly what they no longer
What I write about is for no one’s eyes but mine. It’s like patting
the back with words."
might expect this
diary format to continue throughout the story, but it merely serves as
jumping-off point for the action to follow as a cast of characters are
introduced, interact with Frank, and influence changing perspectives
between each other and in regards to the murders. Coast Guard ensign
Nichols discovers many disparities between facts and reality as his
interrupted, bodies begin piling up in the Caribbean, and his family
the missing women, the social and political flavor of the Caribbean
comes to life and adds atmospheric intrigue as Tom helps puzzled
tackle a problem that threatens tourism and health alike.
When his own
becomes a possible target, Tom discovers more is at stake than the
especially adept at winding family issues into the story, both from the
murder's heritage and the potential hero's perspective. As a search for
becomes a mission to thwart a predator, readers will find themselves
more than one character and more than one purpose.
looking for a
compelling story of a murder spree gone awry and the one man who may be
stop it will find Cut from the Fold
strong production. It's highly recommended for suspense readers who
stories of international intrigue and family relationships.
Return to Index
Patrick M. Garry
When scandal drives Frank Horgan from his
law firm job, he can't seem to let go of his dream of being involved in
big-ticket case, even though he's relocated from the big city (where
are common) to a small town (where lawyers tend to operate in relative
When he becomes involved in what at first
seems to be a family spat, only to find it leads directly to a Wall
investment scam, he may have his big break at last. It's then that
family issues emerge in The Discovery, a fine story
aspirations and immense trouble in small town places.
As Frank becomes increasingly privy to
small-town secrets and more aware of their ties to Wall Street, he
low-key legal operation turning into something far more challenging
anticipated. Will the price of professional fame perhaps be too much to
From bodies that could prove or disprove
dubious connections to why a lawyer from New York is being hired to
small-town case, the mystery deepens as Frank finds himself drawn into
secrets that both fuel the town's undercurrent of society and threaten
lives in different ways.
Seamus Horgan suffers a heart attack, Frank's loyalties are tested. His
to field both personal and professional challenges becomes mercurial as
too many circumstances beyond his control.
Patrick M. Garry presents his case and Frank's story from alternating viewpoints. From the insights of former colleague Parker Longren to a hospital worker who admits Frank's father, these different perspectives add meat to the story, flushing out Frank's character and presenting him as he appears to others: "I went to law school in California, but I started at the firm the same time Frank did. There were eight of us who started at the same time. The first couple of weeks, we, the new attorneys, went out for lunch together, and stayed late at night and talked about our assignments and all the odd senior partners at the firm. But after that, Frank went his own way. He didn’t work in the library with the rest of us; he worked alone in his office. He was friendly on the surface, when you’d pass him in the hall. In fact, he was a real glad-hander and backslapper. But his conversations never lasted more than a minute."
intriguing series of observations that dig up dirt, provide insights
inspect motivations, poverty, and wealth, and probe Frank's own process
self-discovery, which proves every bit as important as his goals of
famous, effective lawyer.
legal and personal investigations will find The Discovery an excellent exploration of not just court
proceedings, but a lawyer charged with family burdens and changes that
him full circle back to the roots he left so long ago. It's an
involving story that's especially recommended for those who look for
legal-based dilemmas beyond courtroom confrontation.
Return to Index
978-1946920911 $17.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
It's 1932 in
Texas. Twelve-year-old Joel Fitchett enters a diner seeking
help for his
unconscious little brother Clancy. Both have been badly beaten, and
amnesia about the circumstances surrounding their mishap.
each still struggles with that deadly night and the tale they invented
a terrible truth. It's a decision that keeps returning to haunt them in
different ways. When a murder investigation threatens to expose the
who holds evidence that the missing Clancy was his biological
1991, he begins a journey that starts with a probe of his heritage
into the dangerous discovery of long-hidden truths that threaten to
Enemies of Doves weaves a timeline of
events between these three
characters that makes for compelling reading. It's an ecological system
interlocking decisions, discoveries, and circumstances that spans some
years of love, danger, and revelations.
hand, the sweeping timeline of Enemies of
Doves might have proved challenging. Creating believable,
characters that operate on different levels of truth over the decades
keeping the story's progression fresh and exciting is no light task,
effortless unveiling of the truth and unraveling of individual lives
personalities proves hard to put down.
with a prisoner, his determined probe of Joel's demons, Lorraine's
with Clancy in the 1940s, and cold trails that lead to hot tempers and
permeate a story that is complex, yet compellingly powered with strong
characters and mercurial circumstances that keep them forging new
issues such as
increasing opportunities for women and struggles in shifting social
serve as important backdrops for these changing times and lives. This
strength to a story that moves inexorably towards a nightmare scenario
will change Joel, Lorraine, and Clancy's lives forever.
historical mysteries flavored with powerful interplays between
the years will find Enemies of Doves
a powerful account of the search for peace of mind, redemption,
enlightenment, and a long-buried truth.
Return to Index
Joseph Di Prisco
Rare Bird Books
978-1644280782 $21.50 Hardover/$14.99 Kindle
The Good Family Fitzgerald is driven by
Joseph Di Prisco's lovely
descriptions, replete with literary prowess as they link the sights,
sounds, and challenges of daily living in a manner that feels
immediate and compelling: "Francesca
resifted memories of what had seemed to be an ordinary day, the day her
didn’t return with the fish as he promised. Sparkling summer had
descended after a pitiless winter. The fat heirloom tomatoes were
bright red in their raised beds: the prospect of a bountiful harvest.
zoomed and hummingbirds darted, peony to sage to goldenrod and beyond.
answered mail, returned calls, paid bills, did chores, ran errands,
meetings, worked out, watered plants, watered plants again, ate lunch.
genially purposeful was her routine. That was before everything changed
Anthony and for her and for everybody she cared about. Memory is a
even if it isn’t a thing and there is nothing funny about it."
paragraph is especially compelling and revealing given its enhanced
for modern plague times, drawing readers into a world that feels
moment and changed forever the next.
wealthy family obsessed with privilege and money. Padraic Fitzgerald,
aging patriarch, faces troubled business and personal relationships,
to maintain everything he's built, and remains uncertain about his role
as the head
of a family he can't really communicate with.
Anthony, Philip and Matty - face their own flaws, tragedies, and
visions of the family's special privileges and challenges.
daughter Colleen proves to be the conscience of the family (no
with the Fitzgerald clan). And his younger girlfriend, the stunning and
intelligent Caitlin, upends almost every assumption of Paddy's complex
driving force of change and challenge as the focal point shifts from a
patriarch's habits and rule to revised values and roles influenced by
women who affect the family.
developed and changes their roles in life, Di Prisco crafts a
compelling interplay of emotions, purposes, and perceptions, using
that is precise and revealing throughout: "Sex
could be about relief from hurt, but it could also be about dishing it
could be about peopling the loneliness, and it was about being lost and
solitary in the dark. It was walking along the springtime shore, it was
sprinting into a burning house. It might feel like making love, it
like soul searching, it might feel like fun house mirrors—and it might
in sequence, or simultaneously."
the milieu of this troubled family and the juxtaposition of its wealth
alike, the story evolves into a pointed observational piece about
life purpose, and changing values.
secrets, loss, and logic are all revealed as each character grows and
interests, moral choices, emotional ties, and family history intersect
in a story
filled with different disclosures, keeping reader interest high: "When it came to deal-making, every bit
as important as the specifics, you needed to figure out what the other
wanted. Amateurs think it’s about cash, but that proves why they are
Cash pushes deals only to a point, and then the real interests kick in.
usually a version of respect, or fear, or some preciously held
usually about family or financial security or ego. Beyond all that you
ask: Why were the parties engaged now?
Figure out the timing, assess the urgency, everything else should fall
between characters, life, and family and business pursuits are well
nicely presented. As crisis, spiritual messages and their implications,
changing relationships evolve against the backdrop of a dynasty's rigid
readers interested in moving stories of family history and discovery
will find The Good Family Fitzgerald
hard to put down as life lessons and the quest for redemption are
the family's structure, changing it forever.
Return to Index
How the Deer Moon Hungers
Roberts Press (Imprint of False Bay Books)
Paperback: $14.99; eBook: $9.99
A child's death changes
everything, whitewashing the
dreams of siblings and family and replacing them with overwhelming,
sadness that stretches through lives and years.
the Deer Moon
Hungers opens with a moonlight bike ride, but the demise of
Tessa is only the beginning of the story, not the end. The actual
lies in her older sister's life after the event, and moves through the
changes she experiences, from language and relationships ("Allegedly became
an important word for me after Tessa died. It’s weird when I think back
much I liked the word after learning it, and then how much I hated it
afterward, when I heard the cop use it. “Allegedly,”
he’d said, “the younger one was in the older sister’s care,” and then
no one understood, “the older one was supposed to be watching the
He said “one” like we were buttons on a conveyor belt at some stupid
factory. The jerk.") to a new habit adopted from Tessa's last
fascination in life: "Mom showed up
and fell apart, and that’s around the time I started counting the days
moon as it grew through its phases from crescent to half to gibbous to
again. I call it moon-spying. I run outside every month when the moon
to find the deer Tessa saw, but more, maybe, to spot my little sister
inside that big ol’ cheese wheel. Maybe seeing that dreamy face of hers
searching for me."
the Deer Moon
Hungers is allegedly about death, recovery, growth, and
rebuilding a new
life, but it's also about recapturing a piece of the old life and
As sibling narrator
Mackenzie moves through this process
into an "intellectual love" for another girl that operates on a level
quite different from anyone else around her, readers gain insights into
relationships flourish not just because they are more than different,
they hold the ability to heal: "Gemma
had a way to make me forget my troubles."
As she enters the world of
separated families, divorce,
moral conundrums revolving around love and money, and correction
facilities, redemption and sorrow struggle for top billing in a story
wrenches the heart as it follows the ongoing pain of Mackenzie and
knew her sister Tessa.
From the ashes rises the
phoenix. As a family descends
into an abyss of pain, so Mackenzie fights to discover her own way out
overwhelming circumstances of her sibling's death.
Surprises include changing
viewpoints between Tessa and
Mackenzie (all nicely documented in chapter headings which eliminate
potential confusion), insights into the origins of love, alienation and
and a focus on changed interpersonal relationships which, like a pebble
water, spread outward from a given event horizon to touch all manner of
choices, decisions, and their consequences.
Susan Wingate is gifted at
capturing these shifting nuances
as events continue to pull characters apart and put them back together
puzzles, albeit in a different way. How
the Deer Moon Hungers carries the reader through this
process, creating a
powerful and memorable saga that is hard to put down, lingering in the
long after the story is over.
Return to Index
Post Hill Press
Famous writer Victor
Esposito has dedicated every book
he's written to a mysterious woman. In The
Letter, he falls into a coma and Eva Abrams moves from her
on Long Island to remembering a love affair in her past in a process
propels her to make new changes to her present world.
Eva and Victor are soul
mates, but their trajectories
separated them long ago. Can they come together at this late stage,
seemingly impossible odds?
Readers explore Eva's
relationship with Victor and her
involvement with him even after marriage: "She
didn’t make any eye contact with Victor; otherwise he would know she
too. Eva worried that if she ever let those words cross her lips, it
just as bad as sleeping with him. She would never be able to look her
in the face again."
One of the facets that sets The Letter apart from similar-sounding
novels is Anthony
Sciarratta's attention to the details of how relationships both evolve
become complicated. Descriptions of emotions prompted by attitudes,
and possibilities are well drawn and capture the conundrums on both
sides: "Eva was going through different kinds
of emotions, noticing that Victor couldn’t have been sincerer. Without
realizing it, Victor was bringing Eva closer to cracking as he
pushed her towards him. Eva’s mind was split. She’d always had mixed
about the situation. A part of her wanted to receive Victor’s love and
but another part of her was angry he was telling her that he loved her.
made things worse and made her feel less wanted in her own
From Victor's confrontation
with emasculation, the power
of money and fame, and the choices involved in love to Eva's return and
involvement in Victor's recovery, The
Letter captures two hearts which have come together,
separated, then become
conjoined by circumstance and tragedy.
It also deftly considers the
allure of a safe yet
unsatisfying relationship and the choices Eva faces through her renewed
with Victor: "Stanley was dealing
with this the way he dealt with everything, by not bringing it up. He
Eva to forget what was said and for their lives to go back to normal.
what he was hoping for at least. Stanley felt perfectly fine sitting in
relationship limbo with Eva. He provided for her, kept a roof over her
and treated her respectfully. Stanley thought she should be more than
with this because most people don’t have that kind of stability."
This attention to the
influences and perceptions at work
on all sides is wonderfully displayed, but The
Letter is also a love story about survival, and about how a
but never delivered comes full circle.
Fans of Nicholas Sparks and
other writers who capture
lasting love and its progression through time and catastrophe will
relish The Letter's moving story of
that analyze moral behaviors, lead to individual growth and self-love,
ultimately return to the roots of romance. It's a heady story that is
compelling, moving, and hard to put down.
Return to Index
Me and the
Jacob Michael King
Me and the Spirits tells of an unusual
father-son endeavor. This
father can talk to spirits, and his son can read minds. Jacob Michael
captures first-person reflections on their lives using a sense of
that is captivating and atmospheric: "It
was just me standing outside, and I only came out there for the stink,
because I could hear the buzzing from inside. When I looked, I saw our
slumped over by the fence and he looked empty and torn up, like the dog
that stuck around in his body all those years had up and left."
and voice represent a shining light of insight and description that
readers immersed in this evolving story of extrasensory perceptions: "He was real scared at the end, when he
felt the bobcat’s teeth. He didn’t think about that: he’s a dog, so he
think about much. All he wanted was to be gone. But the getting there
hard part, he found that out. He was scared worse than he’d ever been
life. And he was thinking that he didn’t want to go. That he just
wanted it to
stop. He couldn’t say it, but he was thinking that maybe it wasn’t so
all to walk with rickety bones and aching teeth, and to be slow and
special spirit knowledge to others about what it's like to live and
son Jordy fills in the blanks with his own abilities, readers are drawn
story that begins to center upon one Howard Farmer's life and choices
as it does upon the dead. The consequences of one man's actions ripple
the lives of everyone around him, including two individuals who find
confronting a dangerous psychopath.
and nightmares challenge Jordy's world, readers are immersed in a story
violence, redemption, and a union between spirit and human worlds that
Jordy and his father into dangerous territory.
It should be
that violence and descriptions of it are an intrinsic part of Me and the Spirits. While these
descriptions are in keeping with the evolving plot and the conundrums
characters, those who want lighter descriptions should look elsewhere
quasi-horror reading. Me and the Spirits
is astute in its discoveries and representations of conflicts and the
'spirit food', and this attention to detail is also part of the
power in this story of spirits, broken hearts, and sick minds.
has crafted an extraordinary intersection between horror, supernatural,
literary piece that will live in the reader's mind long after the
crescendo of confrontation and realization.
Return to Index
D.X. Varos, Ltd.
Paperback: 978-1-941072-74-5 $18.95
Ebook: 978-1-941072-75-2 $ 6.99
Nod is a
land that receives only very limited mention in the Bible, but in J.M.
Stephen's Nod, it receives an
that brings it to life in a compellingly original manner.
ability to pull readers into this story is evident from the first
sentences of Nod, which are unlike
anything a reader
might expect or has read before. The evocative, compelling twist on the
of Nod shines in this introduction and throughout the story that
follows: "We have always been here. We have
always lived this way. We were together, tightly compacted and then
shattered and went skipping about into so many fragments and it
call it time now. It fell from the great expanse that hovered above us
rain, like wind, it wasn’t and then it was and we move through it now.
started when they came, those who have walked with Giants, the first
ticking into the next and the next and the next and we have been
by it. Before we delved into that soupy mix of time, before our hands
through the thick sludge of matter, of dirt, of earth and ground,
thought, when we did not grow old and we did not grow, before we were,
here. We have always been here. We have always lived this way. They
were not of
that a river runs through this land, but it's the same creative force
powers her story with such a passionate voice that the story proves
and hard to put down. The surprise lies in the creative descriptions,
anything but a staid Biblical re-enactment of events. Whether this is
of Stephen's unique descriptive style, her extrapolations of this
land's peoples, purposes, and reality, or her use of compelling
narrator Lailah (who relates encounters with Biblical peoples and
Biblical events within the framework of the reality in Nod), Nod is an exquisitely original story
that is delightful in its encounters: "Cain
turned to go; he waved once more, turned back, looked at me again, and
his brother west, to the west. For so long whenever I saw them they
heading west. I watched for a while, wondering if I could find this
on my own, if I could go in their direction and see Cain with his
father, Abel and the sheep, where they lived, these people from the
were not like us."
progression and movement and is documented and noted as Cain, Abel,
others form connections and relationships in Nod. The relationships
these Biblical figures are probed as events both parallel Biblical
extrapolate on other areas only vaguely alluded to in the Bible.
compelling, her perspective is unique and constantly surprising, and
the eyes of a Nod resident, Cain and Abel come to life: "I
watched Cain, wondering what it was that had changed, what it
was that was not Cain. The mark had cursed him but he seemed to have
beyond it. I saw Abel in his face but something else, something more.
stories and recreations, Nod holds
the ability to reach beyond its likely Christian audience and into
circles with its beautiful phrasing, involving story, and compelling
two very different, almost alien peoples and the intersections which
recommended as an original work that takes an 'origin story' and turns
Return to Index
Sins in Blue
Black Rose Writing
1944715592 Hardcover $21.95 Kindle $5.99
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Sins-Blue-Brian-Kaufman/dp/1944715592
in Blue follows the unlikely
two music-loving truth seekers: young would-be-musical-talent-manager
Barnes and aging ex-blues musician Willie Johnson. It's the 1960s.
upon an old rock 'n roll song first recorded by a 1930s blues musician
embarks on a quest to find that extraordinary unheralded genius, whom
believes fostered the birth of rock 'n roll.
Music has always been a part of Kennedy's
life, as much as it influenced Willie's youth. A blow-up with his
his attitude and trajectory leads to the loss of his believed record
as well as a home, so he has nothing left to lose and much to get from
journey that could connect him with an undiscovered genius.
Indeed, both music lovers have much to gain
from their encounter, if trust and a relationship can be built between
strangers who are generations apart in age.
at capturing the gritty, spunky styles of each of his characters. He
deftly creates realistic scenarios of the music world, from
between managers and musicians to often-stormy connections between
and their audiences and club owners: "Willie
pocketed the money and headed for the side exit. There was no use
he hit the man, he’d end up in jail or worse. He gripped the neck of
guitar, choking it, and stepped into the alley. The sun was gone, and
was cold and wet. Fucking Chicago. I
hate this place. Willie paused to calm himself, reluctant
to leave. He
needed the job. That little stage manager might realize he’d made a
follow him out. There was a show bill to fill out, after all, and those
types always turned their foul tempers on the next victim the moment
else went wrong, which was, in the entertainment business, every five
He might realize that Willie wasn’t the enemy. Might even rehire him."
Many of the characters and settings are based on real figures, either overtly or in fictional settings (Alan Lomax, for one example, is a real music historian who captured many source recordings and documented music history that would otherwise have been list. He features in the story, as well).
Each character is charged with finding his place in the music world. As the story evolves, Kaufman excels at capturing this process as it unwinds for two disparate individuals at odds with society and themselves: "Do what you love.
money at that. The first voice was Willie’s. The answering
voice was his
father’s. Where’s my voice? he wondered. What
do I want to do?"
Each character also traverses the charged
and changing racial relations of their times. A cultural odyssey
influences their decisions, music, and relationships. As behaviors and
of racial encounters change, so, surprisingly, does opportunity and
Blues history and the cultural influences
which lead it to become an intrinsic part of American rock 'n roll is
of the powerful roots in this novel, which celebrates a strong,
of music on many levels.
The result is a potent journey through 1960s
music history and the two very different yet interconnected worlds of a
musician and a wanna-be manager who struggle to find their places in a
It's a compelling story especially
recommended for readers who love music and music history, who will
this different take on two music-loving individuals who change their
the music industry as a whole. Sins in Blue is a
'must' for readers of
American music history and blues in particular.
Return to Index
Someday Everything Will All
Will All Make Sense tells of an eccentric music professor who
death of his mother and the challenges it brings to his perception of
life with its prejudices and ironies. It imparts a sense of staid
and dark humor as Luther van der Loon struggles with a revised life.
The story opens with an
exhibit of this special brand of
irony: "Mother choked on a bowl of
wonton soup. A tangle of bok choy, a larger-than-expected dumpling. A
thatch no one could foresee." As in the rest of his story,
juxtaposition of dark reflection and fun observation makes for a blend
horror and humor which is refreshingly different.
Stunned by his mother's
sudden demise and unable to
deflect the assaults of death-related decision-making challenges and
his life, Luther moves through the stages of grief with the same
perseverance he once reserved for his passion for early music.
As sleep, religion, and loss
coalesce in the course of
his struggles, readers receive a sharp reminder of the progression of
and the movements to reject its inevitability and final results: "I donned a mask in an attempt to shut
out visual distractions. I recited the Latin rite of vespers, hoping
would inevitably overcome me and I could dispel, once and for all, the
that I was unable to accept Mother’s death and the fact that my life,
from hers, would continue."
Neurotic obsession combines
with end-of-life plans and
impact in this survey of Luther's life and reflections. Music
throughout the story supply unusual and pointed streams of thought that
insights into this process. This contributes psychological, artistic,
literary depth to the story of his life and its meaning: "I
had learned, over the course of the last year, that we have no
control over externalities, that life is a divertimento, a caprice, not
rigidly-constructed sonata with a predictable A-B-A section. Like
unfinished symphony, it seems to go somewhere, to have an overarching
only to end abruptly mid-movement, after an agonizing slow section. Who
on any given day whether he will have to dial the fateful numbers
state the nature of the emergency.
Whether he will find himself in conversation with the amiable mortician
cowering in a windowless room, not wanting to say his final goodbyes to
body in the casket (no matter how skillfully presented and preserved by
crack staff at the funeral home)."
Will All Make Sense's literary and artistic survey of a
neurotic who is
forced to release ties to his mother that perhaps should have been
during her life will appeal to readers who enjoy psychological and
inspections. The dark humor overlay is surprising, astute, and
in one. Someday Everything Will All Make
Sense is highly recommended for readers of family
relationship tales who
will find this particular survey of loss and recovery is pointed and
as Luther comes full circle in a musical and relationship compromise
Return to Index
Tom and the Sagittarius
978-1532082641 $13.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Tom and Leigh are friends
who live in a small mountain
town and meet for coffee every morning. Leigh is an avid follower of
and always carefully pursues her horoscope for her Sagittarius sign.
respects her passion until a prediction indicates that she should move
his life in a different direction.
Suddenly, horoscopes are not
just personal but a threat
as Tom reassesses Leigh's role in his world and considers how to
horoscope's message that she should move away. How can someone grow on
only a year?
As he faces his illusions,
heritage, and reactions to
life, readers receive both a review of his past and indicators of how
react to not just Leigh, but future events: "He
remembered growing up as this kind of cloudy, careless time of joy
and love and happiness. But if you put a magnifying glass up to it all,
would see that it really was one mess after another and his time as a
adult was just uncomfortable and weird." Traditional
don't come easy to Tom because of his personality and other influences.
When he becomes involved in
chance and writing horoscopes
himself, he encounters a cast of characters who each change his psyche
worldview in different ways.
Sagittarius is a powerful survey of not just Tom's journey,
revised life as she enters a strange period of life, propelled by
predictions, which allows her to break away from set patterns and
At some point in time, both
characters get what they
asked for. But as they nearly simultaneously pursue and assess the
horoscopes on their lives, they also come to ask if what they wanted is
actually the same as what they truly needed or already had in a
As Leigh begins to question
both reality and predictions,
Tom also moves in a direction that comes full circle in many ways.
Readers interested in
romance, personality clashes and
encounters, horoscopes, and endings that lead to new beginnings will
story embarks on a journey that gradually returns to where everything
Sagittarius is a compelling, delightful read that is funny,
ironic, and thought-provoking, all wrapped up in one appealing package.
Return to Index
The Western Nebraska Hard
Fescue Greater Prairie Chickens
978-1532074622 $10.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Mystery and fun blends in an
unusual manner in the wry
story The Western Nebraska Hard Fescue
Greater Prairie Chickens. It documents the adventures
disc jockey Bill "Cannonball" Cafferty's journey to Nebraska to
accompany adventurous students who think the media should cover a
are seeking to prove about celebrity deaths.
In another life, a strange
media inquiry like this would
not have been given a second glance, but Caff is desperate with time on
hands, and so he undertakes a rollicking ride on a strange mission that
promises to at least entertain, if not provide him with a new purpose
Are his new friends onto
something real, or is it
imagination? Is this journey an old-fashioned Midwestern potboiler or
more? As a wild ride through physics, proof, and life results in a
series of events, Caff discovers something more to living than the
once believed in.
Caff's journey takes him
into the world of a threatened
ball team, the subterfuge of rescuing ball players by assuming their
the ironies of life, death, and the ability to manipulate physics and
It's hard to easily 'peg'
this multifaceted romp. Mystery,
humor, and interpersonal relationships blend with a physics bent that
makes The Western Nebraska Hard Fescue
Prairie Chickens delightfully complex, accessible, and hard
The characterization and premise are particularly well done and
the different nature of the conundrums faced by a gang of unlikely
As an odd kidnapping,
strange Major League games, and
explorations of ghosts, reality, and a physics gang's increasing
saving a ball team takes place, readers are sent on a strange journey
the eyes of the heroes of The Western
Nebraska Hard Fescue Greater Prairie Chickens. It's a rollicking ride through strange
situations that will leave
readers guessing and involved right up to the surprising end.
Return to Index
True crime readers looking for an in-depth coverage of a high-profile serial killer's impact in the 1960s and 70s will find American Ripper eye-opening reading. It which pulls no punches in its coverage of Florida law enforcement officer and killer Gerard John Schaefer.
American Ripper is no light leisure crime story. This is an in-depth study that excels in including and reviewing court transcripts, evidence lists, interviews, and other technical papers relating to Schaefer's story. While this adds length, depth, and a form of complexity that may stymie casual readers, its approach will delight law enforcement, psychologist, and social issues readers seeking an exposé that embraces the entirety of the process.
As a further cautionary note, American Ripper also includes case histories that capture moment-by-moment graphic experiences of victims and criminal. This is not a read for those who would casually learn a serial killer's modus operandi, but a detailed exploration and description of his victims and how he lured them into dangerous territory through an amiable approach and the power of his police badge.
As part of the well-rounded approach to
describing events, Patrick Kendrick includes the perp's own notes
these crimes, noting that "Schaefer’s own writings perhaps
describe what he felt and undoubtedly what he intended to do."
Interviews, court proceedings, written reports, and notes are all
an eye to following how one man became a clever, sadistic murderer. The
provide in-depth coverage and leave no stone unturned, including
visits to and encounters with Schaefer, his interviews with families of
victims, and his documentation of the local, regional, and global
serial killer threats.
The intricate notes are woven into a story
that reads with the tension and drama of fiction, but delves into and
all facts and connections in a well-researched, documented piece: "Of
the fact that Leigh knew Gerard Schaefer, there is no doubt. The two
together as neighbors just a few houses apart. They met in their early
and often played tennis and went swimming together. Although Schaefer’s
appears only once in Leigh’s missing person’s report, a private
William Marshall, found evidence that linked the two just prior to her
disappearance." Depositions, arguments for and against the
questions on coincidence and the solidity of evidence, and issues of
interpretation of code and law all enter into Schaefer's ultimate fate.
The graphic nature of these descriptions of such preparations may horrify and surprise readers not just because of their intricate planning, but because of the nature of the details. Kendrick includes memories of the victims who survived, as well, juxtaposing their impressions with those of Schaefer.
As facts emerge about his victims, his methods, and the fact that nobody realized the extent of Schaefer's dangerous behaviors before multiple murders took place, readers receive a gruesome, gripping, and startling discussion of not just a murderer's threats, but justice and law enforcement systems gone awry.
Readers who regularly imbibe in true crime memoirs and biographies will find that American Ripper is a step up from the ordinary fare—more challenging, more detailed, and replete with lively dramatic descriptions that usually are prevalent in fiction than nonfiction.
American Ripper is a powerful survey of not just one man's killing spree, but the processes of law enforcement, justice, and psychiatric evaluation in modern America. More than just a crime story or a saga of innocence and guilt, it's an indictment of an evolving psychosis and how it gained ground in an environment replete with conflicting information, processes, and purposes.
The toll this book has taken on its author and his life are also revealed in a concluding twist that offers much food for thought about this type of focus and investigation and its ultimate impact and costs on the writer's life and those he questioned: "I've paid dues for working on this book beyond financial ones. In addition to the sheer physical work of a once young man tracking down details at a time when it was very difficult and uncomfortable to do, I've become part of the drama I'd just as soon have not played. It has cost me greatly and, along with my other traumatic work in the fire service, has plagued me with things seen that will never leave my mind. Going through this manuscript, even these many years later, has not eased that, and I have to ask why did I write it, and why has it stuck with me, existential questions that may never be answered. "
The broader questions posed by American
Ripper make it highly recommended reading beyond its likely
true crime aficionados, hopefully moving into law enforcement, legal
and psychology circles as an in-depth example of not just a serial
modus operandi, but the systems that allowed him to continue his crime
Return to Index
Didn't Break Me
Kassondra R. Lewis
978-0998676913 $9.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
the mechanics of either avoiding bankruptcy completely or entering into
add the benefit of personal experience, as does Kassondra R. Lewis in Bankruptcy Didn't Break Me: How to Learn the
Keys to Success To Increase Your Credit Scores.
This is a
coming out of the other side of bankruptcy and resuming one's life,
with building the kinds of credit scores that lead to full recovery.
'insider's' perspective that doesn't come from a financial advisor, but
has been there, done that, and not only survived, but flourished.
isn't just recovery over a long period of time. Lewis advocates a
strategies for quick recovery—ones which involve not just the ability
credit, but to garner the good credit terms enjoyed by those without a
bankruptcy on their records. As a living example of this success, Lewis
currently lives in her 'dream home' with a mortgage at a low interest
has rebuilt her credit score to 700.
Her focus on
rebuilding credit and qualifying for these attractive rates, combined
personal experience, crafts a bankruptcy guide like none other. As
emotional ups and downs, low points and lessons learned from them, and
determination that her bankruptcy should NOT prevent future success,
absorb a candid account that doesn't say this process is easy, but does
maintain that it's achievable.
bankruptcy process and its impact on one's credit and personal affairs,
debt-to-income ratios, accepting the temporary blow of bankruptcy with
to rebuilding a better future, and the best starting steps to getting a
credit card and rebuilding a positive credit history all make for a
blend of financial and emotional recovery.
insights on exactly what lenders look at when examining a credit
to maximize the best score possible, and tips and tricks of making
decisions. There are some unexpected insights provided during this
such as the idea that one shouldn't close an account just because it's
being used because its background credit history will also
that could contribute to an overall credit picture.
money management strategies blend with bankruptcy-specific insights to
consumers a clear picture about how the process of financial recovery
in the midst of, or grappling with the aftermath of a bankruptcy should
place Bankruptcy Didn't Break Me at
the top of
their reading list. It goes above and beyond most other guides on the
pairing the emotional with business angles in a manner that makes the
digestible and thoroughly understandable.
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The Black Album: Writings on Art and Culture
(Expanded Second Edition)
Meridian Art Press
Print: 978-1-7322219-3-2 $14.99
ebook: 978-1-7322219-2-5 $ 7.99
Writings on Art and Culture gathers writings by painter and
Rubenstein and represents a decade of artistic commentary and
through art criticism that Bradley Rubenstein published online and in
description might lead readers to believe The Black Album is suitable only for art historians and
artists, Rubenstein's approach to presenting cultural, social,
artistic reflections under one cover expands its audience to many other
disciplines as well as the general public.
Another note is that usually art criticism
involves staid language, whether it's calmly presented or passionate in
Rubenstein's voice is both analytical and gritty, often moving into the
of candid street talk tempered by an intellectual overlay that is
intriguing, and anything but dull: "It was not that long ago
Salle seemed to strike a collective nerve with his simulations of
for some, he resurrected Painting; for others he fucked its necrotic
Among critics he was praised for revivifying the art form, along with
colleagues Julian Schnabel and Eric Fischl, and vilified by feminist
for his reified soft-core porn subject matter."
a prior familiarity with the art works under consideration. They don't
have to have a background in painting or sculpture, or any classical
in art criticism. All that is required in order to fully appreciate
Rubenstein's analyses is an interest in the intersection of art and
cultural influences and an appreciation for succinct, pointed
delightful interplay between criticism and outrage. He injects these
into writings that use eloquent language to point out an artist's
inconsistencies: "If Smith’s
sculptures represent the Alpha of this exhibit, Pollock’s are the
Omega. By the
time of their Jersey weekend, Pollock had all but ceased producing
Following an earlier intervention with Barnett Newman, who, along with
jumpstarted Pollock with the seeds of paint that became Blue Poles (1952), Smith again played
art therapist, presenting
Pollock with materials and objects for him to press into service as
The less said about the results here, the better. There is little that
added to the cairn of Pollock lore that would shed any light on his
monumental achievements, and to dwell on his faltering end smacks too
the gleeful necrophilia usually reserved for Marilyn Monroe, Jack
examples, it should be evident that The Black Album is
a unique voice
and window on the art world that doesn't direct its observations to the
intellectual art community alone. This in and of itself is a refreshing
approach that opens the subject of art criticism and inspection to a
Return to Index
It Came From the
Multiplex: 80s Midnight Chillers
Directed by Joshua Viola
Print ISBN-13: 978-1-7339177-5-9 $19.99
eBook ISBN-13: 978-1-7339177-6-6 $ 2.99
It Came From the
Multiplex: 80s Midnight Chillers
is an outstanding horror collection that
profiles such authors as Warren Hammond, Stephen Graham Jones, Steve
Tem, and others. Some will be new names to even the avid horror reader,
others will be familiar; but what unites them all is an attention to
chillers that are unpredictable, satisfyingly complex, film-oriented,
'Screen Haunt' is one example. It moves from a girl's litany of fears
safety video of horror which she produced in the 1960s about missing
Halloween, then scrolls through her life of involvements with scary
a screenplay called The Haunt, which holds an uncommon power.
"When you’re scared
of everything, you learn how
to compartmentalize. That’s how you get through each day." As the narrator finds her nightmare emerging
in both real and film worlds, she is inadvertently immersed in the
creation she's made as both a tribute and a testimony to herself and
Attractions' by Stephen Graham Jones also delves into the movie world's
connections to reality as it presents an ancient movie theater's allure
explorers who uncover more than just ghosts watching movies.
and his friends uncover layers to the old theater that indicate it's
than a benign relic, the real power of the screen emerges in an
that exposes a deadly trap.
movie-centered horror pieces are unique, literary, well-done
linger in the mind long after each work is read. Fans of horror and
find this intersection of literature and horror excellent, and the
and talents of the short story contributors to be exceptionally well
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What It Is And How To Do It
Modern Vaudeville Press
Most juggling books take the same approach to learning basic juggling – that is, whatever method the writer used to learn. Juggling - What It Is And How To Do It, however, combines a variety of approaches, including siteswap notation, to offer the first fully comprehensive manual on juggling. No competing trade books employ siteswap notation, despite it being the primary tool in juggling instruction for the past two decades. There are also no serious books that provide in-depth discussions about posture and mechanics.
Thom Wall presents his primer as a "learning" book more than a "doing" book," and this will delight both newcomers to the hobby as well as serious jugglers who want to absorb and perfect the art with a step-by-step survey of the basics.
An overview of juggling history moves to working with three balls, understanding common mistakes and how to overcome them, and absorbing the vocabulary jugglers use to perfect their art, from 'reading' to balance.
Specific information about the center of gravity in juggling balls, methods for predicting the way the balls will move, and drills for moving from beginning to more advanced juggling challenges cover both theory and operation in a book designed for jugglers who have the equipment (or are willing to craft their own props using the guide in the back of the book) and desire, but lack technique and basic learning approaches.
Drills not only emphasize this technique, but comment on the emotional overlay involved in juggling efforts and practice: "Work on your five flashes and longer runs while standing on a chair. (Work on the four ball drills this way, too!) Isolating your body in space will make you realize how much you’re relying on corrections, rather than perfect throws. It’s sobering, but don’t beat yourself up about it if you find it frustrating!"
Also included are explorations of more difficult moves and why some may prove impossible, as concepts such as “fusion” are explored in a guest chapter by the legendary Jay Gilligan: "No one ever juggles 7 clubs with one eye closed, or does 5 club backcrosses standing on one leg. These would both be very hard tricks to do, but only because juggling culture does not count the variation of closing one eye, or standing on one leg as valid criteria for a trick. If closing one eye was accepted as something a juggler can explore to add complexity to a trick, then the technique of closing one eye would be spread and practiced, and eventually incorporated into the general technique pool that new jugglers learn. Closing one eye would then end up not being a novel or foreign idea and lots of jugglers could (more) easily do it. Fusion is motivated by these cultural observations and is the simple idea of choosing to join 2 body parts together and exploring that physical reality while juggling."
guide should be the first step in embarking on a practiced juggling
uses illustrations, physics, psychology, and other approaches to
approaches, purposes, and achievements of juggling. All this makes for
exploration that goes beyond simple tricks to thoroughly explain the
and actions behind juggling success and lays a solid foundation for
interested in getting on stage.
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Life Cycles Publications
Life Cycles - Coincidences is the fourth book in psychologist Neil Killion's series which maintains that life experiences run on 12-year cyclic patterns, verifiable by statistical data based on biographical analysis.
Killion states that his main aim is to introduce the Life Cycles Theory as a brand new form of coincidence. This coincidence does not involve the people being studied or their reactions at all. He builds on the long past history of writings about the subject to suggest that his objective and predetermined coincidences are best suited to challenging the orthodox position of statisticians and rationalists; that all coincidences can be explained by mathematical principles.
Further than this, however, he approaches a leading worldwide skeptics organization with his evidence and gets them to agree to an ad-hoc test, the results of which are so astounding, that they have produced no answer or rebuttal. This, he says, is almost unheard of.
Statistical validation of Killion's theory in general and coincidences in particular juxtaposes with unexpected personal touches such as emails and dialogues, creating an accessible survey that will reach not just scholarly or psychologist readers, but general-interest thinkers.
The depth of references mentioned in or connected to this discussion may challenge those who anticipate or want a casual survey. From J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and its success, to how Sister Theresa became Mother Teresa, Star Trek's evolution, and how the Beatles got their recording contract; these examples and many more document the kinds of coincidences Killion studies and connects. From popular culture to various scientific disciplines, this wide-ranging approach holds value to a much more diverse audience than psychologists alone. Readers who enjoy biographies and motivational true stories will find much of interest here.
Some striking coincidences are documented throughout history, from two women murdered 157 years apart to many, many other events and patterns: "The men accused of these horrific murders of both women had the same last name of Thornton and both of them were acquitted of their crimes. Some other strange coincidences were that the women were both 20 years old when murdered and they shared the same birthday! Both women had visited a friend the evening they were killed. They had changed into brand new dresses and also went to a dance on the same night. The odds of this happening by pure chance are just enormous and would look like a long string of zeros following the first number. Maybe these crazy similarities could just happen and if not, then what else could be posited? Are we talking about the weird possibility of some form of reincarnation of both the original woman and the original killer, resulting in a replay of the same events around 150 years later?"
It's one thing to have these stories peppered in diverse accounts over the decades; but juxtaposing them side-by-side, complete with statistical evidence for life cycles and their accompanying coincidental qualities, makes for thoroughly engrossing, thought-provoking reading.
Killion is frequently surprised by the results of his own data and research on coincidences: "This sort of amazing correlation happens on such a regular basis that, though I am grateful to find each separate case, on the other hand I’m less surprised than I should be." This admission lends a humbling sense of discovery to efforts based not on preconceived theories, but on uncovering strange connections that turn out to be prevalent throughout human history. (He confirms that he is the first and only person to come upon these straightforward correlations, which he says have been hiding in plain sight).
His most in-depth study is of just two weeks worth of Obituaries from one source. The discussion delves into the data, summarizes its results to arrive at (some thought-provoking) conclusions, and further evidences Killion's critical process: "...in terms of random occurrence, very little by way of evidence drawn from the obituary text could be expected. Perhaps one example of a “Year of Revolution” and equally one example of a “Year of Broken Pathways”, and not necessarily found together….(followed by “instead we find 26 instances listed for 12 Obituary texts...if we were to look at this as 26 times a successful roll of the dice (which I know it isn’t exactly) then it would be a huge number, 1 chance in 17,058,173 trillion, trillion to 1) (Leaving out In terms of a clear-cut instance of the overall importance of the age 36 “Year of Revolution” to the person's whole life mission, we could not even reasonably expect one random example, when taken on its own. I mean, literally speaking, why should it? I have a fairly explicit definition of what I am seeking and this, of course, is totally unique to “Life Cycles Theory”. Maybe the one “Year of Revolution” example, that we could expect, might coincide and maybe it mightn't.")
Life Cycles - Coincidences offers lay readers the opportunity to delve into scientific and statistical inquiry by considering connections in their own lives and throughout history. It adds to the series and ideally should be pursued by those with prior familiarity with the Life Cycles concept and its analytical direction.
be enjoyed by those who want to consider the mechanics and direction of
general and their own patterns in particular. Anyone interested in
the framework that underlies life's progression and choices will find
intriguing, accessible, and absorbing; the theory and examples packed
Life Cycles - Coincidences.
Return to Index
Life in the
Doreen M. Cumberford
White Heather Press
In 1994, Doreen M. Cumberford left a comfortable job and life in the U.S. to move to Japan for eighteen months, then Saudi Arabia with her husband and toddler. Life in the Camel Lane documents her experience, which changed from adjusting to different living conditions in a corporate compound to learning another culture's very different rules and perceptions of life.
As a "corporate spouse," Cumberford embraced the opportunity and adventure promised by the move. She not only adapted to this new world, but assimilated its lessons, turning 15 years of experience into a new job as a life coach.
Cumberford was in Saudi Arabia when 9/11 changed the world. Her documentation of the ripples through Saudi culture that this event sparked, along with concerns over her safety and ability to get back home, are immediate and involving: "...streams of alarm shot through my body as part of a response to this event back in my recently adopted “home” country. If planes were being flown into buildings, how could we ever go back home ... it would take a plane to get there, was my first thought. The feeling of isolation, being cut off and wondering what was happening, was similar to what every person around the world wondered. How strange the fleeting thoughts are that pass through one’s mind during a flight or fight reaction. Many of us wondered, Are we safe here? If there is an organization called Al-Qaeda, are they really here in Saudi; even more worrisome are they on the compound? Are they my neighbor? If they are my neighbor, how would I know this?”
The event served to solidify her growing relationships with Saudi peoples, from neighbors to bus drivers who displayed kindness and help during this time: "Buried in that statement was the heart and soul of most of the Saudi people. Here was a Saudi telling an American that although a great crime had been committed on home soil in the US, he personally felt connected to us and was willing to do his part to protect our kids if called to do so.
A massive amount of emotional energy and examination is often connected with journeying to another country, living in it for a period of time, then leaving. Cumberford acknowledges these different facets of adjustment, offering many insights into the process and the changes it brings: "Leaving a place looks like it is a one-day simple process. You buy a ticket, put yourself on that plane and voilá, you arrive. Not even close! The reality is very different and more complex—especially when abandoning a foreign life where you have lived and loved through many seasons. Preparing to leave involves both the insidiously hidden and blatantly obvious parts of a process that is an evolution rather than an event. We frequently consider a move to be a simple transaction involving relocating ourselves (our physical bodies) while discounting the logistical, spiritual and emotional parts of the process. It’s easy to disregard the energy and time required to process the massive amounts of hidden changes that are happening."
Cultural education comes in many forms, from weddings to confronting stereotypes and fears in Saudi homes and environments. Cumberford narrates her encounters and the opportunities for revised perceptions and transformation that each brings. More than the usual travelogue, this often involves inspections of the sources of cultural misunderstandings, their influences, the development and fostering of positive habits and reactions, and a type of flexibility that allows room to grow.
While her experience will likely be filed in the travelogue section of the library, to limit Life in the Camel Lane to the armchair adventurer alone would be to do it a disservice. Much more than a survey of another culture and lifestyle, Life in the Camel Lane is about making the kinds of mental and social adjustments that allows better understanding, revised perceptions of humanity's connections, and a better affinity for Middle Eastern cultures and lifestyles.
recommended for readers interested in personal growth and intercultural
opportunities—particularly those who would understand exactly how
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How the Coronavirus Changes Global Society
Pandemic Aftermath: How the Coronavirus Changes
Global Society is
possibly the first book to contrast the history of different global
the evolution of the coronavirus, how 'superspreader' viruses move
human populations, and likely worldwide social and political
that can be anticipated because of it. Its appearance may precede a
others with similar approaches, but the focus on how societies handle
and change because of it is one likely not to receive such an astute
investigation in competing approaches.
on the market tackle one piece of this puzzle, but Pandemic
Aftermath connects the dots with a pursuit of visions of
the world after coronavirus changes it. It is essential reading for
concerned about what that world will look like in the pandemic's
how to operate in today's environment and survive it.
different scenarios surrounding these possibilities using a refreshing
that takes into consideration changing outcomes that depend on human
attitude, and efforts. This is an especially notable course because it
advocates no one clear path to renewal, but reviews a series of options
table at this point in time
as well as
anticipate negative, depressing possibilities no matter which course of
is undertaken or how the virus mutates and progresses, but another
feature of Pandemic Aftermath lies
its takeaways, exercises, and positive perspectives about these
choices: "I’ll leave the ultimate discussion
what to do and how to act to those who pick up this book. Discuss. Tear
book apart. Disagree. But please make up your mind on what
it be COVID-19, a future genetically engineered bioweapon, or the next
virus—means for how we want to shape our next decade and beyond. Let’s
the crisis in a dignified and meaningful way. And let’s start now,
we all just discovered, whether we are experts or neophytes in either
health, politics, technology or compassion, tomorrow it may be too
of such a
takeaway in the chapter conclusion is: "Let’s
imagine the next 10 years will have less physical contact between
ever before. Let’s also assume proximity enhancing technologies will
drastically (feel free to disagree). What is the most likely balance to
between safety from outbreak risks v. the two important imperatives of
and economic growth on the other hand? We are all wondering about what
normal” will be. What’s your take?"
journaling, encouraging reflection and discussion among readers.
negate the view that any discussion of this pandamic's aftermath must
negative assessments of revised habits, conditions, or life. While
habits, values, and perspectives are a certainty, Pandemic
Aftermath offers a positive approach that not only makes
sense of chaos, but considers different ways of returning the human
race not to
where it was, but to possibly a better place.
a futurist with a vision. Pandemic
Aftermath offers a refreshing yet practical breath of fresh
air in a sea of
dystopian gloom and doom about the post-coronavirus future. It will
attitude-changer for those who wish a more encouraging view of life
reports provide: "I remain
optimistic that with resolve, we can bring COVID-19 and whatever else
added to our burdens, to merely represent a chapter in a book about our
century, not to a lingering, dystopian future we need to constantly be
of awaking. I hope this for my children, and I hope this for myself
I hope this for the human race."
Pandemic Aftermath is a very highly
recommended perspective we all
need at this exact point in human history.
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Press Eject and Give Me the Tape
Meridian Art Press
Paperback: 978-1-7322219-4-9 $14.99
Ebook: 978-1-7322219-5-6 $ 7.99
Give Me the Tape: Dialogues, Interviews, and Exchanges 2001–2020 represents two decades of interviews and
between author/painter Bradley Rubenstein and some 35 fellow
painters, sculptors, photographers, and performance and video artists.
These wide-ranging discussions hold
artistic, cultural, and social insights that will delight students of
sociology, the arts, and anyone who wants a close inspection of artist
methods, influences, and history.
Take the interview with artist Mira Schor,
for one example. As she charts the progression of her life and work,
probe the evolving cultural background which fostered her creations,
historical insights most art history books wouldn't have thought to
was a goofy spirit at CalArts then that is best expressed in Pee-Wee’s
Playhouse—subversive but in a sweet, slightly anarchic rather than
manner. Paul Reubens, then Paul Reubenfeld, was at CalArts at the time
there. Later the school became more earnest about conceptualism, more
about theory, and ever more savvy in terms of careerism, as the times
in those directions and the history of the school was rewritten to make
success of some of my contemporaries, such as David Salle, seem like
destiny. And, surprise, surprise, the very existence of the Feminist
was erased almost totally until, after the Northridge earthquake, a
assigned to go over some books that were being junked. Lo and behold,
copies of the catalog for the Womanhouse project from 1972 about to be
discarded. Students researched the existence of the program and
major conference. Now, the history is surely forgotten all over again."
questions and answers are designed not just to document the rise of
contemporary artists, but pinpoint their place and perspective in the
as a whole. Chapters of interviews create intriguing surveys of the
milieu which fostered each artist and provide intriguing insights not
this collection lies in its ability to appeal across the board and
artistic categories. Readers need not be versed in any of these arts in
to access, understand, and appreciate the interviews because a good
deal of art
history and background is incorporated into each interview, providing
necessary references and explanations that lend to a complete
One need not
familiar with the artists involved. All that's required for a
experience is an overall interest in contemporary arts, modern artists'
and influences, and the evolutionary process that fostered art and
in their lives.
politics, contemporary culture, and the arts will find Press
Eject and Give
Me the Tape's intersection
of understanding essential for capturing the influences and nuances of
Return to Index
Beep, Beep, Gizmo! is a fun picture book
story of little dog Gizmo
and his attempt at surfing in the Fifth Annual Puppy Cup Surfing
bully, tests his abilities, and learns about winning and losing, kids
reading skills receive a lively story about kindness, achievement, and
excels in colorful drawings by Jim Hunt.
peer, Riley, loves zipping past Gizmo and showing him up with "beep,
beep" noises. He's already pushed Gizmo's friend Kayla out of the
How can Gizmo compete against a rude bully who labels Gizmo a loser?
emphasizes overcoming adversity and cultivating kindness as it follows
determined Gizmo through a variety of challenges to not just his
It's a fun
adventure that read-aloud parents will appreciate, offering
speak with kids about such wide-ranging subjects as handling bullies
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The Christmas Ornament Shop
A Christmas Love Story: Nicholas Nutcracker and
provides picture book readers and their read-aloud parents with a
seasonal story based on The Nutcracker, but with a contemporary twist.
prepared for all the rituals of the busy holiday to begin once
passes. She and Harrison look forward to the grandkids visiting for the
looks forward to them, as well. He resides in a box with other
are toy soldiers from Germany, but Britt the ballerina is all alone in
box, and can't perform her greatest piece without a beau to dance with
something is missing in their lives...something involving love. When
arrives and everyone is unboxed, there is a Meeting of the Ornaments.
has already espied the most beautiful ornament, but she now resides a
branches down in the tree. Will True Love be thwarted by proximity
unveils this gentle story of holiday romance, youngsters receive a fun
that follows the evolution of a friendship against all odds and
becoming real love.
reading skills or read-aloud parents will find A
Christmas Love Story a warm tale of ballet aspirations,
and overcoming obstacles. It's all set against a holiday backdrop that
beautifully rendered, nicely illustrated with colorful drawings by
Khmelevska, and just the ticket for an original holiday read.
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James W. Lewis
This title can be ordered direct from Ingram, where it is available at a standard trade discount and returnable.
The book is also available online from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Courtney-Figures-Out-James-Lewis/dp/1734707402 ) and Barnes and Noble (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/courtney-figures-it-out-james-w-lewis/1136943217?ean=9781734707403)
Courtney Figures It Out requires good
reading skills or read-aloud
parental assistance, providing young picture book readers with the
story of a child with ADHD who wants to bring her pet heron to
But Aaron is more special than a toy...and much more challenging to
anywhere. Step by step, Courtney figures everything out, from bringing
heron buddy indoors and getting him dressed for school to handling a
blurry vision, which leads her to think that Aaron is the new kid in
while the classroom goes wild.
exhibits problem-solving skills throughout, including patience,
cleverness, and creativity.
story is on
the fantastic side for a show-and-tell project and a host of adults who
overlook Aaron the Heron's non-human attributes, it's a fine example of
ADHD child overcomes the challenges of daily living to make the most of
looking for a
fun read-aloud filled with vibrant illustrations and a quirky sense of
supplement the underlying serious inspection of ADHD will find Courtney Figures It Out a vibrant,
positive, uplifting, educational story.
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Hardcover: 978-1-7339589-4-3 $22.99
Paperback: 978-1-7339589-3-6 $ 9.99
Giant provides a different kind of Jack
and the Beanstalk story—one
in which the giant's fall from his stalk results in a crash into a
pool, amnesia, and a new life in a strange world.
grades 2-6, ages 7-10, who have prior familiarity with the original
will find the giant's perspective, tempered by amnesia, as thoroughly
engrossing as the tone Greg Trine uses to impart this revision: "Here’s
the short version: Jack climbed
a beanstalk and broke into an innocent man’s house. A rather giant
man. Jack stole his money, his singing harp, and a goose that laid
golden eggs. Bottom line? Jack was not a stand-up guy. He’s
the hero in
fairytales that tell his story, but basically, he’s a criminal. Never
this fact: the giant was minding his own business, taking a nap in his
the clouds. It was his right to do so. A man’s home is his castle, and
giant’s place really was a
this very different fairytale will find it just as absorbing, offering
in contrast and perspective that will prove especially valuable to
take the time to explain the different facets of Jack and the Giant's
As the giant
struggles to regain his memory and makes progress in an odd series of
with other human beings, readers are treated to a warm story of revised
contrasting personalities and perspectives, and the involvement of a
which sometimes belays its own name (Happy Dan Circus).
As the giant
with Sam, a boy trying to escape his own evil circumstances, the duo
splash in the world in more than one way...until Jack shows up again.
sassy, original, and satisfyingly fun. The giant, Sam, and other
interact on a level that leads to growth and evolution in many
bringing young readers into a zany, rollicking adventure.
alike will find this a delightful story that takes a very familiar
turns it on end for an unexpected, spirited story of fear, discovery,
recommended as a completely different perspective, based on the classic!
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Suzanne Kline & Dulce Da Costa
2 Paws Up Studios LLC
Gizmo for President! is a fun picture
book about a little surfer
dog who begins a campaign to run for president so he can save the ocean.
nature to political involvement, Gizmo undertakes a campaign to save
friends and share his ideas for caring for the planet.
appreciate the educational opportunities embedded in this fun story.
are in blue, linked to a glossary of definitions that helps expand
are one requirement for the complete appreciation of Gizmo's latest
Each page holds several paragraphs of detail as Gizmo contemplates his
endeavor, learns about the process of campaigning, and crafts a
approach to solving a broad problem in the world.
running mate and handling negative responses from the public to
every creature have a voice in his campaign," Gizmo explores his
not just for getting elected, but for effecting real change throughout
course of his efforts.
kids about politics and campaigns, saving the environment, making a
and inclusive practices. It will delight parents who are moving their
picture book to chapter book arenas and who seek socially responsible
from their leisure choices.
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Have Feelings...and That's O.K.
Jordan Mayfield, LSCSW
Family Psychological Press
features colorful and fun drawings by Shelby Hild
and is written for ages 3-6, who will benefit from adult interaction as
review the story (told from a cat's observations) of young Grace and
friends, who may not be grown up, but who experience feelings "just as
panel explores an emotion and holds a facing colorful page
illustrating it. Avery, for example, feels sad over everything, from a
cookie to being regulated to timeout. But it's ok for her to feel sad.
next page, she has another cookie...and timeout isn't permanent, but
page presents an emotion, a dilemma, and its resolution. But each
page also reinforces that it is O.K. to go through that emotion to
and accept it.
the different characters are feeling silly, frightened, happy,
or mad, it's all ok, because they can be proactive in managing their
The very young not only learn how to readily identify an emotion and
but how to both accept and mitigate any lasting negative impact or
about life in general.
message; direct proactive, emotion-accepting approach; great
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Legend of the Storm
Monster Ivy Publishing
Hardcover: 1948095572 $21.99
Paperback: 1948095564 $15.99
E-book: 1948095556 $ 3.99
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/2QQ89Zk
Legend of the Storm Sneezer is the first
book in the Stormwatch
Diaries and tells of Rosebud Thunder Rose (aka teen Rose Skylar), a
sneezed a magical storm at birth that plagues her life with unstable
unpredictable dilemmas. Sent to an asylum for patients with unstable
quickly uncovers a mystery which lurks in the haunted forest and
is the fact that there is more than one Rose Skylar, who is a time
extraordinaire. An introduction to this topic informs readers about
unexpected additional talents in a 'time traveler's diary' format.
future collide with mercurial events of the present, Rose is tasked
solving a mystery that traverses the barriers of time, space, and magic
bringing readers in elementary grade levels (who have good reading
a romp through intrigue and abilities that have no clear path to
through much of the story.
ability to juxtapose mystery, fantasy, and humor into the tale of
evolving conundrum contributes to a refreshingly different form of
story/time travel/coming of age experience that keeps readers on their
One of the
of Legend of the Storm Sneezer lies
in a sense of humor which permeates discoveries and revelations,
fine degree of fun into the young peoples' explorations: "Hey!
What the—whoa.” Aiden picked up the rock.“Seph, look at
this! Is that—?” “Dried ectoplasm.” Sephone whipped out I Look Like I’ve Seen a Ghost: Memoirs of a Ghost
rifled through the pages. “White, crusty, it matches the description,
but … well,
it could be bird poop for all we know.”
ghosts and graveyards, time travel, and wry observations of Rose's
redefine her world create a story that is lively and filled with
insights and analyses: "Rose considered
herself something of an expert in heads that weren’t screwed on right,
present, Sephone’s was as crooked as they come."
her world, Rose wonders if she can even save herself, given the
information and the accompanying puzzles and conundrums they raise.
readers of Legend of the Storm Sneezer
identified as 4-6 graders, older readers several age brackets above
find the story especially accessible and fascinating reading. It's a
delightful, whimsical production that keeps the preteen thoroughly
engaged in a
story about growing up, solving dilemmas, and growing into one's powers.
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Love Hugs and Books, LLC
Love Lottery features lovely drawings by
Melanie Darling as it
explores the basic love, happiness and joy of daily living, and is the
picture book of choice for read-aloud for parents who want to create a
perspective on life for young listeners.
through these concepts and adds a lilting sense of language and
exploration as Love Lottery opens
with a life-affirming
admonition: "Believing in love and
light,/desiring all that was wrong to be right./Wishing upon the
sky/with feelings of trust and a tear to my eye."
As the young
realizes that attitude and welcoming positivity affects her life,
receive an important message about approaching life with heartfelt
beliefs and influencing
it through attitude.
Read-aloud adults looking for a beautifully illustrated book encouraging positive attitude and approaches to daily living will find much food for thought and discussion in this basic reader, designed for youngsters just beginning to discover the impact of their attitudes towards life as a mother explores how her child was born from love.Love Lottery
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978-1731518217 $14.35 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
middle-grade fantasy readers with a mesmerizing story celebrating words
language, using Eva Dietrich's own special brand of captivating
draw young readers in from the very first paragraph: "An
angry autumn wind blew across the hedges of the Gulzar Estate
at number one Lexington Road. The wind grew stronger and the hedges
ready to take off. Outside, clouds heavy with rain were ready to burst
at any moment.
Only the majestic, snow-white turrets of the Gulzar Estate itself
unaffected by the storm. Inside the house, and equally angry, Ankido
twelve-year-old British-Iraqi boy, woke to the dull and grey November
The discovery of a book, a
box, and another world leads
Ankido on a journey to the magical land of Mesopo to find his missing
But there are even bigger issues at stake that lead him through
words, the fate of a dying land that stands at a crossroads between two
and the notion that words can save or destroy.
In Mesopo, words are
vanishing and taking with them the
light of the world. Ankido wants to help, but as he looks for hidden
letters, faces demons who suck words and life from their victims, and
the fact that his own spoken words may not be enough to heal this
readers embark on an engrossing journey that celebrates a threatened
Can words make an adversary
weaker, even as they hold the
potential to heal?
As Ankido navigates this
strange world and summons his
word powers, young readers receive a gentle series of insights about
and its importance, couched in a fantasy adventure that is atmospheric,
drawn, and involving.
Middle grade fantasy readers
will appreciate MESOPO as a
powerfully different quest story that ultimately fosters a newfound
appreciation for words, language, and the lasting consequences of
choices even when they are based on courage and a desire to help. Mesopo
seems to be loosely based on ancient
Mesopotamia, hence the name.
MESOPO is highly recommended
as a fantasy adventure with
an important literary message.
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Christa M. Miller
Christa M. Miller Communications LLC
Retreat—Book 2 in the
Living Wild Side by Side
series, and the sequel to Raccoon
Christian Barratt, and tells of the challenges faced by raccoon
Rufus, and Renae when their habitat is destroyed and they are forced to
for a new home in a strange new world.
adaptation, survival, hope, and building a better life from the
shambles of the
old could not arrive at a better time for advanced elementary to early
grade readers as they absorb the underlying dilemmas and messages in Raccoon Retreat.
drawings invite coloring and add interest to this story as the young
face many dangers. Interactions between humans and raccoons teach both
the different lives, needs, and actions of the other in a warm story
the young raccoons' viewpoints of life and its revised purposes.
sometimes ironic insights these raccoons hold about puzzling human
and habits is particularly delightful: "Maybe
humans den together when it storms, just like we do,” Roxy said."
reading skills who are beyond the picture book age but not too old to
appreciate lovely black and white line drawings and their coloring
will relish the ecological message, warm personalities, and
between humans and raccoons that lends Raccoon
Retreat an excellent ecological spin.
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Lisa Richman and Tavi Richman
978-0-578-66822-2 $12.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Author Website: www.lkrichman.weebly.com
Tavi Tales - The Diary of a Dog contains
the fictional observations
of Tavi Richman, a puppy who observes his world and grows familiar with
affairs and the sometimes-puzzling courses of life.
playful, fun approach given the age of the 'narrator' and his canine
but Tavi's story opens with a loss he can't quite comprehend,
readers of all ages to the process of grief which Tavi finds difficult
accept or understand: "Today I
discovered there is a different kind of Sad. I learned about Sad when I
puppy, when we could not go out adventuring, and Sad when my mom was
I had to snuggle close until she felt better, but today I learned there
kind of Sad I cannot fix. My mom brought this Sad home with her from
and even though she smiled when she said hello to us, it was not enough
touch that Sad, not even a little bit."
progress, readers receive a delightful set of life lessons and
a growing dog's viewpoint of dog and human affairs. This collection of
romps through such events with a blend of candid canine insights ("Mostly, I think my humans are smart, but
sometimes a puppy has to wonder.") and dog photos sprinkled
different friendships and obedience school demands to ongoing insights
special events, holidays, and relationships, Tavi's choice observations
discoveries, narrated in the first person, offer advanced
through adult readers a whimsical flare and approach that is
delightful: "Time for Happy New Year, Tavi,”
said, ruffling my ears. I looked around, but it looked like it always
Nothing at all that could be Happy New Year, even though I heard the
call it out as we headed inside. It is a good thing I am a very patient
because whatever that Happy New Year was, it was taking a long time to
appropriate family life discussions from a different vantage point will
Tavi's lessons and revelations a wonderful blend of humor and life
offering starting points for fun family discussions.
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Outside the Box
Justine Avery & Liuba Syrotiuk
$14.95 Hardcover/$7.95 Paper/$1.99 Kindle
box' is a common admonition when one is stymied about life's puzzles,
many books take the time to explain the process of doing so; much less
young person should approach this idea at an early age?
Liuba Syrotiuk's picture book is just the ticket for kids navigating "...a world filled with rules/Where
there are so many different options,/When you need to find your own
From a solid
definition of the concept ("Thinking
outside the box is like coloring outside the lines—on purpose.")
the mechanics of how to conduct purposeful creative thinking, young
encouraged to visualize and approach problems with a different skill
visuals illustrating this difficult, ethereal concept lend to a story
best be enjoyed by read-aloud parents and kids together.
proves that creative thinking can begin at an early age, with just a
guidance from an adult and a fun approach like that encouraged by Think Outside the Box.
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Make You Laugh
Justine Avery and Daria Yudina
$.99 Kindle/$14.95 Hardcover/$7.95 Paperback
This Book Wants to Make You Laugh is Book
2 of the 'Living Book'
series of picture books that features the perspective of a book that
with young readers in a personal way.
jokes and fun, like many children's humor books—but this book has a
secret plan" for its young readers. As the book admonishes this
to turn pages and keep reading and chuckling, any adults along for the
read-aloud experience will find these encounters refreshingly original
delightful...certainly more so than the usual children's joke book.
some creative guesswork to uncover the purpose of the book's secret
What's this book's intention? Shhh-it's a secret which keeps youngsters
to the end.
'the book' create a whimsical opportunity to laugh and enjoy. These,
lovely, whimsical, fun-filled drawings by Russian artist Daria Yudina,
the perfect visual accompaniment to a lively tale of laughter perfect
and child interactions.
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What Color is My Hijab?
Beaver's Pond Press
What Color is My Hijab? is about learning colors as well as Muslim traditions, emphasizing both with lovely color illustrations by Meenal Patel that pair beautifully with Hudda Ibrahim's celebration of hijab headware (scarf).
Picture book readers will appreciate this lively perspective: "Hijab is the crown/I wear every day./It is worn many ways,/and it comes in every color."
As the young narrator recounts the various intelligent, skilled women who wear the hijab—engineers, athletes, and stylish models among them—she draws associations between hijab choices and the messages they impart to others as well as the strength they lend to her world.
As the young narrator decides what hijab she will wear that day and what message it will impart, readers receive a colorful and thought-provoking series of insights into what a hijab means and why so many Muslim women wear one proudly.
Any picture book collection
seeking to expand
cross-cultural insights and communication will relish this simple,
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Who's First?: Chicken
and Egg Book 1
Frog Prince Books
978-1-7325410-3-0 $11.95 Paperback, $2.99 Kindle eBook
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/whos-first-deborah-stevenson/1136615096?ean=9781732541030
Publisher Website (and ordering for signed copies): www.FrogPrinceBooks.net
Who's First?: Chicken and Egg Book 1
receives fine illustrations by
David Stedmond as it tells of friends Chicken and Egg, who are
sweltering in a
heat wave. Each anticipates being cooked if they don't do something
soon, so a
visit to the local ice cream shop seems the perfect antidote to too
from an ironic place: both are too polite to enter the ice cream parlor
What can be done to decide who enters?
A series of
takes place out in the heat, but the outcomes range from woefully
to comically hazardous. When the winner finally is declared,
problem emerges and demands the two join forces to solve it.
Who's First? offers young readers an
exploration of friendly
competition, issues of fairness, and the kinds of social interactions
don't always result in a clear path of resolution.
story whimsical and fun, while read-aloud parents will appreciate the
opportunity to discuss issues of give-and-take in friendship, creative
problem-solving strategies, and more.
excellent embellishments to a tale that is warm and friendly in tone,
holds important lessons about the sometimes-surprisingly-complex topic
Book 2 in the series, Why Did Chicken Cross the Road? will be out this fall.Who's First?: Chicken and Egg Book 1
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