June 2023 Review Issue
Fantasy & Sci Fi
Mystery & Thrillers
Anna M. Elias
ASIN: B0BY3KFDJJ $4.99 Kindle
metaphysical sci-fi saga The Vessels
will find the journey continues seamlessly in Book Two, The
Coin. It follows new Vessels Tal, Link, and Avani as they
fulfill their purposes as hosts for spirits who work through them to
wrongdoings of the past.
Each holds a
that gives them protection. But it also holds deadly potential to allow
entities from the other side to get through, and so they face a major
from one vengeful spirit determined to wreck havoc.
a rogue spirit tapping the life force of a Ugandian woman who feels it
her, but isn't aware of what it means. She only knows she is being
a deeper level than anything that's happened to her body or soul in her
Whether that force is one of good or evil, remains to be seen.
difficulty in controlling non-vessel humans is apparent from the start.
needs something different.
spirit journeys and setting of The
Vessels will allow readers to extend the foundations created
in the former
book as the struggle evolves.
good and evil is not always even. These contrasts between the different
entities are nicely drawn as future scenes explore the willing vessels
only acknowledge, but accept their revised missions: "Like
every other spirit Link had served, Teddy held no sense of
animosity or bitterness. No matter how badly they’d been hurt in human
the spirits were like bright, flickering torches that never went out."
struggles supplement sci-fi events and interpersonal relationships in a
satisfying manner as the story assumes the countenance of a
investigation, a thriller's embrace of nonstop action, and the
a paranormal environment in which humans and spirits not only interact,
intersect for a greater purpose than individual objectives alone.
Elias does an
outstanding job of melding the worlds of spirit and human affairs,
personalities and purposes attuned to the magic of the coins, the
efforts of Spirit
Guards, and presence of evil powers that spill into human affairs.
powerfully-rendered story that extends the milieu of The
Vessels with a mystery and focus that holds the powerful
attraction of forces that struggle on both sides of the coin.
interested in works that dovetail metaphysical and spiritual questions
sci-fi settings and struggles between good and evil spirits will find The Coin essential for any collection
seeing popularity with The Vessels
and interested in taking the next step into a milieu marked by
healing, forgiveness, and symbiotic relationships.
Return to Index
Out-of-This-World Press/Devil's Party
through winter like a bear, emerging to new possibilities and life when
Hibernaculum posits a near future in
which humans make this choice,
entering into a sanctioned deep sleep that appeals to the infirm, the
and those who want to make room on the planet for the blossoming tide
hibernating creatures, much of mankind has adopted the rituals of
food and life before they enter this long sleep period:
"By late fall, the feast is over, and heavy, heaving, jelly-fleshy men and women move slowly, think slowly, sit and wonder, slouch and doze, while raising buckets of water to their swollen faces. Lethargy. Twenty hours a day in front of the TV: reruns, reality shows, salmon documentaries, huntsman horror flicks. This is wind-down; counting down the light, as the darkness grows."
Anthony Doyle injects many reflective phrases about this unique time in humanity's life: "Time is chemical...Time is hormones, time is melatonin...Not all winters fall in winter." These contribute a deeper reflective atmosphere about this period in human history where individuals experience the Hibernaculum's dreams and nightmares in different ways.
that capture these observations, exploring disparate experiences from
Syndrome and the instability it brings dreamers, to those who reflect
hibernation-based society may not bring the answers and solutions it
"I can’t help thinking that this is too little too
late. How many
of these domes would it take to cut a real chunk out of the human
footprint? Is it just an expensive, stubborn act of desperation? Is
hibernation, ironically, an attempt at a global wake-up call?"
social, and psychological messages embedded in this world and the new
offered by hibernation are thought-provoking and revealing as those
awakened admit to different perceptions that were unintended results of
pursuit of new possibilities for humanity:
"I don’t think I came back out the same person. I’m
whether some of me is still unconscious, still down there in the
perhaps a new part I didn’t know existed followed me back up, like a
a tethered ghost. Maybe I brought it back with me, from oblivion, and I
been able to integrate it yet. The result is a glitch. It seems I am on
who enter Hibernaculum with the
characters, who come to realize that its promises may be empty and hold
consequences they never saw coming, will find the story gripping,
notes and experiences of those who navigate this world are
done, and will lend to book club discussions and sci-fi reader delight.
seeking a futuristic exploration which examines sleepers of the world
social and political truths and realities that underlie their
find Hibernaculum replete with a
growing horror of realization that awakens, at the end, into a
manipulation and truth. It will leave readers thinking long after the
final startling revelations.
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The Seventeen Towers
Jareth Z. Navratil
978-1-63988-835-1 $16.99 Paper/$24.99 Hardcover
a flawed, ordinary,
middle-aged man who holds little talent become a hero? He does in Into The Seventeen Towers, a fantasy
that opens with a prologue in which eight-year-old Nate is bored by the
forced visitations with his father. His experience is not so much
sanctioned abandonment, as his father dutifully picks him up, leaves
him to his
own devices for six to eight hours, then brings him back home.
has learned to deal with
his life by becoming a Page-Walker who can literally step through the
books to escape the real world, living vicariously through the
its characters. But, he's never before entered an unfinished book which
with a call for help until he stumbles upon his grandfather's
Z. Navratil cultivates
an unusually vivid "you are here" feel in this fantasy, following
Nate into transformations and experiences that come to life:
"When Nathaniel was almost on top of it, the
abomination swiped the air manically, but Nathaniel evaded with a
Having penetrated its defenses, Nathaniel latched to the sides of the
abomination’s hideous face with his talons. The abomination shrieked in
and shook its head wildly to dislodge Nathaniel. But Nathaniel merely
talons in deeper, then leaned forward and began pecking wildly at the
abomination’s eyes. Nathaniel tasted iron through the slits of his
gives Into The Seventeen Towers the
unusual flavor of a real encounter
while readers navigate the fantasy world Nate is compelled to enter and
he experiences controversies
and challenges with his girlfriend Melissa and her wayward son Robert,
into a milieu of princesses, magic, and powerful artifacts that hold
ability to transform not just individuals, but a kingdom.
writes with a seasoned
hand that juxtaposes high adventure with equally lofty inspections of
environment. The story is particularly compelling in its intersections
fantasy and the realities of becoming more proactive, self-aware, and
wry sense of humor runs
through the tale as various characters encounter one other, determine
they are friends or foes, and contribute to the story's evolutionary
“You really do put a lot
of weight into your exclusionary
tactics, don’t you?” Melissa stifled a laugh with her palm. She
she and Ronia had gotten off on the wrong foot… err… hoof. They seemed
equally low tolerances for condescension coupled with a mastery over
the art of
sarcasm. Perhaps they would become friends yet."
The result is an unusually literary,
fantasy that leads to thought-provoking insights about life objectives,
friendships and adversity, and how the roles of flawed, ordinary
change when they become heroes.
and readers looking for fantasies that go beyond
action and adventure to tap the inner resources and the development of
individuals who did not expect to step into the roles of heroes (or
involving princesses and magical powers that could unravel the fabric
kingdom) will find Into
The Seventeen Towers
boldly ventures into unexpected worlds. The
story is evocative, engrossing, and satisfyingly complex.
Return to Index
Loy: In the
of the Mind
Todd David Gross
Sunlit Lane Productions
978-1-7379426-0-3 $17.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
It is said
door opens when another closes.' Such could apply to the events of Loy: In the Forests of the Mind, which
opens with the scenario of a humanity of the future stripped of all its
technological wonders, with people born blind until they hit puberty.
situation forces the remnants of humanity to build extraordinary senses
they evolve into adulthood and are granted the gift of vision, which
another layer augmenting reality rather than being the main sense that
perceives and translates the world.
opens with an
event that changes everything, prompting Daniel's decision to lead his
on an outing to a cave that winds up sheltering them from disaster. An
plant feeds them, but in fact it does much more. It transforms them
survivors of this apocalypse.
anticipate the usual progression of apocalyptic events, rebuilding, and
struggle will find that Loy operates
on a less predictable, more metaphysical level as it follows the growth
spiritual culture and what happens when it confronts an industrial
threatens to tear down the physical and spiritual forces driving this
process of takeover and change provide vivid observations about the
horror of change
that arrives to once again transform the world:
"A nearby meadow was invaded and tented. The muffled sounds sent a new sensation through the land. Garbled voices became prominent. That night, flickering points of firelight burned their way deep into the forest. The following day flat, stabbing sounds pierced the air as trees came under attack. Men with axes moved with unmerciful speed. An area that had stood and sounded together for a millennium vanished within days. In their absence lay an open, desolate sound. Each day this emptiness grew. Each day a dull ache spread further through the land."
paints a richer story of endings and beginnings than most dystopian or
apocalyptic sci-fi, embedding these scenarios with spiritual and
components that capture the disparate approaches to life that each
discoveries are made about these invaders and what they truly represent
kill their own kind!"), underlying
messages about ecology, Spirit, darkness and light lead readers on as
philosophical and intellectual journey as one of entertainment and
drive characters that represent shifting realizations and realities,
shaman driven from his home to both discover and lead his people to
truth, to a
mother struggling to protect her sensitive and extraordinarily blessed
whose pain evolves into hope and strength.
lives intersect, questions of connections between nature and humanity
tunnel that leads to evolution and transformation come to light that
readers into a milieu filled with new possibilities and discoveries.
adept at contrasting the changing natures of individuals and
outside their comfort zones and into situations that test not just
perceptions of the world, but their choices in either engaging with or
interested in apocalyptic sci-fi may at first think that the nature and
of Loy: In the Forests of the Mind
portends the usual read about physical struggles and adaptations, but
greater joy of this story lies in its mental and spiritual
fans seeking higher-level thinking from their futuristic reading will
find Loy: In the Forests of the Mind
thought-provoking, but well suited to book club discussions. Topics
the challenges of transformation and risk-taking to the bonds between
and paradigm-changing encounters with contemporary issues the world
today, from diversity and inclusion to ecological awareness and global
Return to Index
Once Upon a Wonderland
ISBN: 978-952-65064-2-5 $16.78 Paper/$4.75 ebook
Ordering: Once upon a Wonderland: Stoneham, DJ: 9789526506425: Amazon.com: Books
a Wonderland is a fantasy
the world of Alice in Wonderland
uses Carroll's classic as a foundation for embarking on an unexpected
As the second book in a series of Wonderland encounters, it's pleasing
that this functions as a stand-alone read, making it entirely
Alice has moved far beyond the
rabbit hole in this story, realizing that her mission is to mend time
if she's ever to return home.
The tale opens with a prologue that
sets Alice in a Victorian era at home. But she's not at peace with her
"Mrs Huxley had finally
deigned to take afternoon tea with
Alice’s mother. 'How is it that Alice still resides at home? Shouldn’t
married at her age?' Victorian values did not preclude Mrs Huxley from
occasional indiscreet or snide remark. If anything they required it.
Huxley knew only too well that she had answered her own question. Alice
lived at home for the very reason that she wasn’t married. Had Mrs
that same question of Alice, the answer would have surprised her. Alice
have said that she was right where she was supposed to be."
Three visits to Wonderland have not only left their
Alice, but Wonderland is still waiting for her return. There are many
why Alice resides at home, but only one is a portent of her future. The
Wonderland proves impossible to resist, and once again Alice finds
herself in a
strange milieu where fairy tale legends have become poltergeists,
and powerful controllers of her life, in line with the dark origins of
seemingly innocent childhood tales.
Alice needs to get all these forces out of
she's to succeed in her goal and rescue the boy she loves. Hindered by
that she's growing younger (and possibly more ineffective) by the day,
notes that her days are numbered even as her strength wanes (but not
determination to succeed).
Readers who enter Wonderland once more will find
aura of madness and impossibility as in previous Wonderland encounters,
here they are tinged with an overlay of danger and power plays that
to draw on old friends and new resources to survive and change time
DJ Stoneham creates a compelling, forceful
supplementing action and impossible characters and encounters with
that Alice and her cohorts develop about what is happening, and why:
“My guess is the Queen of
Hearts and her
cohorts want you out of the way, one way or another – either out of
or isolated. Perhaps she’s playing for Time.” Jackson looked apologetic
what he was about to say. “I think her hope is that you’ll grow so
you won’t know what you want anymore and can be manipulated. Tyrants
habit of making the most out of a crisis.”
This is a Wonderland that Lewis
Carroll never envisioned. It's also an Alice whose perspective and
rationales and problem-solving abilities wane, the younger she grows.
Stoneham's contrast between adult decision
prowess and a child's-eye view of the world makes for an involving
is thoroughly unexpected.
Libraries and readers looking for
fantasy stories that take classics and turn them on end for new
and action will find Once Upon a
Wonderland not just engaging, but hard to put down or
predict. Its quirky
re-envisioning of a Wonderland in which Alice's youth is pitted against
unpredictable developments creates encounters worthy of book club
Return to Index
The Reformed Man
eLuna Media LLC
ASIN: B0BX116XH7 $2.99 ebook
The Reformed Man
represents the dystopian sci-fi time travel story at its
best and tells of Icelander Benedikt Rafnkelsson, whose invention of a
time travel portal may prove to be humanity's only salvation from the
Shift that killed millions, and the coming Great Purge which will
assembling an A-team of young Candidates to embark on an unprecedented
to assure humankind's future, and Grady Smith's brother Kenny is being
to become one of them. When Grady steps up to help his brother, his
unwittingly cause them to participate in the time travel effort in ways
originator never envisioned.
Dina Santorelli crafts a thought-provoking,
of a brother changed by his experiences in time. Grady's shifting views
family's influence, his life goals, and his perspective about changing
future are revealed in the course of confrontations with self and his
Intrigue surrounds Benedikt Rafnkelsson's real
purposes, as Grady navigates unfamiliar possibilities and taps his own
potential for growth in unexpected ways.
attention to action and family relationships as they become borderline
attractions to the Candidates' purposes creates a compelling saga in
Grady and others examine and experience the myths and realities
Candidates' real challenges.
The Reformed Man
poses intriguing questions about moral and ethical
behaviors which will attract sci-fi enthusiasts of time travel stories
altered senses of value. The story's insights about the past, present
future create a vivid exploration of good and evil in the world, and
who make difficult choices to support either one.
Return to Index
978-1-960301-01-7 $3.99 Kindle
gives readers interested in dystopian and apocalyptic sci-fi a powerful
addition to the Odemark Series. It is set in 2186, long after the
wars of the 21st century. Here, revolutionary Simon and his new friend
journey through the promise and ravages of Earth until a strange
propels them into yet another unfamiliar realm.
The story opens with Simon awakening on the space
station Arcadis, which somehow
despite his residency on one of the great Ark stations above the
Earth. His sense that something is wrong is solidified when a dead
his past emerges to instigate a casual conversation.
Alarm bells go off as Simon and his readers come to
that his environment may not be real, but a specter haunting him from
Is it really a dream—or a real nightmare?
E.T. Gunnarsson creates a story that needs no prior
familiarity with the other series titles, but reaches out to grip the
attention by building a flashback into the past into a story of
challenges. This neatly sets the stage for newcomers and prior fans
will find that Simon's memories and choices ill prepare him for the
into the unknown, marking a wild ride into revolution and redemption.
As dreams, spirit animals, and contrasts between
present selves evolve, Simon is led into a milieu in which he enters
becomes other people, and experiences lives that lead into realms of
with added courage to face the future. These physical and mental
test Simon's resolve and ability to navigate these strange new worlds,
he solidifies his role as a new revolutionary martyr, readers will
seeing this world through Simon's eyes and newfound choices.
E.T. Gunnarsson builds his story on the foundations
Simon's growth and realizations, peppering fast-paced action with
emotional revelations that keep Simon and his readers guessing about
ultimate mission and objectives.
Simon's pursuit of "what is fated" and his
encounters with old friends and new adversaries creates a powerful
which is especially highly recommended for sci-fi readers of
worlds, who will find in Gunnarsson's old Earth the unexpected
opportunities of new pursuits.
Libraries and readers who look for stand-alone, yet
stories of survival, growth, and struggle will find that Remember
Us holds many thought-provoking, action-packed moments
that examine the ultimate price of survival and revolution.
Return to Index
dystopian world will appeal to sci-fi readers interested
in compelling portraits of the apocalyptic future, and portrays a
which the last humans are packed into a skyscraper on an island. Edgar
both never alone and completely isolated. Proximity does not always
closeness. In his case, he is largely disconnected from his fellow man,
isolated both by his psyche and by his job as a carbon miner familiar
the underground portion of this vertical world.
When he unexpectedly makes a decision that gives
recognition and unprecedented access to the upper levels of his world,
this freedom to make new discoveries about his life, his place in the
the ultimate cost humanity has paid for the privilege of being its last
Tristan Scott empowers his novel and characters
with a tone
of revelation from the start. Edgar has absorbed the old stories about
with room and space, but lives in a setting where "...the
world he knew, the world everyone who lived in Vertical
City knew, was one without seclusion." The ambiguities of
alienation and social overcrowding receive satisfying contrast as the
evolves to reveal the true nature of how Edgar and the skyscraper
Nobody in his right mind would seek to shake the
the last stronghold of humanity. But, proximity and overcrowding also
lead to a
form of insanity that Edgar unwittingly embraces as he pursues answers
As he considers the underground and movements that
these foundations, Edgar makes choices that both connect and alienate
dangerous thinking: "...he had
decided he would make himself scarce when he wasn’t protected by a
of people. That, he told himself, was the main reason. But he would be
he also wasn’t hiding from the underground with their crushing,
The only way up is down, into an underground world
solitary choices can drive a man mad. As readers journey through
City's byways through Edgar's eyes and growing realizations, they
vivid tale steeped in the mystery of peoples' disappearances and
which life translates to threat.
Scott is especially astute in how he follows
with the devils in his world: "I
know the price, and I know the reward.” Edgar's motivations
play out on the bigger stage of human survival and its ultimate
costs, providing readers many thought-provoking realizations about
connections, opportunities, and choices.
Will Edgar find himself truly alone, or will the
of those close to him lead him to an unfamiliar place where "...the culmination of events that led
him to this point somehow felt like the actions of a different person
those choices in a different life. Right now, he could ponder that
choices at length and with ease, free of judgement, free of
thoughts were audible and clear within the beautiful quiet of this
now, and for once, he was at peace and alone."?
Science fiction readers interested in
examinations that begin with individual questions and blossom into
considerations of hierarchies, motivations, isolation, and connection
Vertical City a powerful interplay
emotional and social inspection.
Libraries seeking sci-fi additions to their
which make perfect fodder for book clubs interested in a myriad of
including that of a flawed isolated individual who becomes both the
and savior of humanity, will find Vertical
City a far-reaching choice.
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The Watchers: Home World
979-8-9874262-1-0 $14.99 (paperback), $4.99 (ebook)
World is first in a three-part series about a world very
similar to Earth,
which is facing its own ecological self-destruction over a runaway
Narrator Uri has become an
elderly sage of his people
(the Elohim) and is in the perfect position to reflect on the dilemma
The Watchers as they attempt to repair what his people have brought
because his life purpose to save the world from itself has seemingly
The tale opens with Uri and
the crew on a crash course
with a gas giant planet. The action-packed opening scene turns sharply
important philosophical inspection that reflects on life, death, and
time at least once in the history of a people, which inspires future
generations and alters the course of their history. When this happens,
have a choice to make: do they fight to survive, or do they ignore the
and, through willful ignorance, travel the same course to their doom?
It was in
one of these times when this story begins."
Thus, a dual atmosphere is
created which will attract
those who seek spirited reads with its action-packed volley of high
setting the stage for thought-provoking moments of realization.
Trenton Hamm's ongoing
juxtaposition of high-octane drama
and evolving truths that operate on a higher intellectual level give
sci-fi readers an absorbing story that rests on the foundations of not
transformation, but surviving and learning from disaster: "Some might argue that it was the death of the home
caused the death of the people, and some might argue conversely."
Issues of poor stewardship
and the runaway greenhouse
effects that are killing the planet and its people are juxtaposed with
conflicts between individuals who mirror the planet's clashes in their
As Uri comes to know The
Community, a group that
challenges the most basic actions and choices of his people, he also
realize that the heart of this struggle lies not in the outside world's
but in the souls of the planet's stewards, and their ideals.
Visionaries such as Penne
and Mikh are not always greeted
warmly. Their elite position and spirits tailor an experiment that
Elohim and cement the Community's next efforts to do better against all
In many obvious ways, The
Watchers: Home World mirrors much of the current (and likely
of the world, with its disintegrating ecosystem and struggles between
how to address it. Thus, the story of Uri's people is a familiar one
takes off into new territory as the Community decides to build a new
But, will they bring with them the baggage that contributed to their
betrayal of the planet?
World ideally will be used in sci-fi, social issues, and
groups as a starting point for discussion and debate over the moral and
approaches involved saving or abandoning a world. The principles of
stewardship may be discussed and reinforced through the examples
these pages, while the search for paradise and unlimited opportunity
within the psyche and in the outside world) makes for thought-provoking
insights on both.
Libraries and readers
looking for stories that juxtapose
fast-paced action with solid character development, psychological
social issues worthy of classroom or individual contemplation will find
The Watchers: Home World a
involving read. It tempers its moral and ethical complexity with
that are rooted in privilege, challenge, and higher-level thinking.
An open ending leaves a
cliffhanger that awaits Book Two
for further enlightenment.
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Werecats Emergent is
the first book in the Forest Exiles Saga series and opens "several
ago" in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where Pawly finds herself ditched by her
brother and friends at a restaurant the night before the big game.
Werecats Emergent is a
foundation-laying urban fantasy in which Pawly and her twin brother
answers about their unusual heritage before they go feral completely.
werecat legacy turns out to
be a family affair. An uncle tries to help them and their blended
family keeps an eye on their evolving abilities while dealing with drug
cartels, scientific discoveries, and rogue werecat elements that would
adversely influence the twins.
Pawly learns to trust her
instincts for trouble and finds her twin connection leads her into
danger, readers receive a fast-paced coming-of-age story that nicely
werecat world and its intersection with human special interests and
J. Engels is especially
adept at juxtaposing fast-paced action and confrontations with
about interpersonal relationships and the world. These blend military
engagements and involvements with social issues that evolve through
and her twin certainly
have a nose for trouble—and Engels holds equal prowess in following the
into a world neither had anticipated nor can really handle.
action and adventure,
nicely tempered by twists readers won't see coming, holds fine family
social inspections and revelations as the werecat community's members,
politics, and purposes come to light.
Engels creates a compelling
fantasy saga which opens the story of an emergent ancient clan of
exist alongside humans. His intersection of family relationships and
who become as close as relatives creates satisfying intrigue spiced
psychological draws as Pawly and her brother risk exposure when they
their werecat powers.
and readers looking for vivid, action-packed
fantasy stories that set the stage for a world-hopping collision of
and cats will find Werecats
excellent draw which weaves the clashes
and action of an animae landscape with the fantasy world of teens
possibilities in their lives. The special blend of paranormal fantasy
with thriller components make the tale hard to predict and impossible
Return to Index
in the Field
Old Scratch/Devil's Party Press
in the Field
The poetry featured in Break
in the Field contrasts human perceptions and experience,
delving into the
forces of nature and observational efforts.
Each poem is representative slice of these
example is 'Sweetgrass,' which considers the ghost of one who has "died
the house I moved into": "In
the kitchen were her copper/cooking pots, her cracked oyster
green matchbox from Paris,/her baskets on cabinet tops, and her
boys. I search for something sturdy/to contain their grief. And when it
be found,/I become my own flawed variation."
From laments of absence and the pain of breaking
the haunting integration of childhood and adult viewpoints and
things lost and found, Ellis Elliott's varied poems represent a similar
diversity of action and spirit which especially excels in contrasts of
present, heart and mind, and shifting perspectives.
Libraries and readers
who choose this short collection for its evocative free verse
life connections will find its art lies in not just the eye of the
but its ability to connect these disparate lives with the more
threads of history and chance encounters:
"She was a day past
presence, riding/the jagged breath below the
surface/of consciousness. I was running/to make the next plane to
frantic airport pace pulled by/a thousand thinning cords to home."
in the Field creates associations between
humanity, nature, and time that deserve not only individual inspection
but spirited discussions about contemporary poetry's ability to attract
react to life's events with bigger-picture reflections about growth,
and life lessons.
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Stories From Home
Double Vision: Stories
From Home embraces the childhood and life of
author C.T. Fitzgerald, providing prose and poetry that capture his
a series of candid truths about what he saw, experienced, and heard.
The stories unfold an
origami of life impressions that some readers may find gritty in their
and perhaps even politically or racially biased or derogatory. These
yesteryear are replete with such representations because Fitzgerald
that "...exposing the realities of that world is an important learning
tool because, in my opinion, much of what I have presented along
lines still exists throughout our society in this
From the five-word
opening flash fiction piece 'For Sale: American Dreams' to the more
'Bodies,' which explores an unnamed northern city on the eastern shore
Erie which explodes with racial tension in the 1960s, the backdrop
serves as an
unusual adjunct to a story about first responders whose actions lead to
surprising revelations and end results that depart from normal life
"No mention was made in the paper of
the “fucking idiot” Firefighter who almost wasted Officer Mike Conner."
loaded" assumes an entirely different prospect as the responder muses, "Would he have to face a whole family
of these sneaky cocksuckers?"
Readers might not
expect humor to intersect with social and political observation, but
Fitzgerald's candid vignettes open both cans of worms and hilarity as
unfold with the precise observations of a world replete with police,
working-class men, the mysteries of women, and jobs on the line.
More so than most
memoirs or collections about community and coming of age, Fitzgerald's
in Double Vision reinforce a sense
time and place that will seem both alien and oddly familiar to his
His attention to
building the dialogues and interpersonal interactions that come from
assumptions about the world and minorities as well as white privilege
a collection that is as constantly hard-hitting as trench warfare, and
socially thought-provoking as any history of the times.
Double Vision: Stories
From Home would do especially well as a book
club selection, powering its insights with controversial subjects that
lend to debate and social inspection among a wide circle of readers.
Libraries that choose
Double Vision: Stories From Home for
their literary collections will find it will appeal to readers of
well as literature students interested in vignettes that circle around
and cannot be changed in the community, world, and self.
Return to Index
Drink Wine and Be
979-8-9868844-0-0 $4.99 Kindle
The short stories in Drink
Wine and Be Beautiful are delicate
renderings of Italian people and culture that capture succinct moments
and the Italian psyche.
Its travels through
the Italian countryside opens with a first-person portrait of Rome and
'Amica Del Cuore,' which explores the foundations of a long-time
between girls which unexpectedly evolved from a visit and a long-held
live in Rome.
The narrator reveals
how she pursued this dream against all odds, holding it close through
of childhood and coming of age: "Rome,
I convinced myself, was where my life would begin. My Roman Holiday. I
swayed from that certainty. It carried me through my unhappy childhood
awkward teenage years. Money from waitressing stints and babysitting
squirreled away for my Roman life."
What she encounters
when she finally walks into her Italian life is beyond anything she
envisioned, and carries readers into an experience of fantasy, reality,
'Wine & Beauty,'
in contrast, captures the atmosphere of Milan and Simonetta's world as
serves cliquey, elite economics students at a café and contemplates her
relationship with a charismatic live-in student who appears to be her
partner, but only erodes her dreams.
Each piece captures a
piece of Italian culture and its heart, presenting emotional works of
and quiet contemplation which analyze the pathways of love and
Contrasts occur not
just culturally and emotionally, but economically as the characters
through their worlds considering their ideals, goals, and the forces
brought them to their current positions in life. Twenty-one stories
range of women's experiences, from betrayal to missed connections and
experiences. Each provoke a thoughtful response in readers as they
new milieus of challenge and revelation.
These are astutely
captured through dialogue that pursues life events and their
“It was kind of fun when
we were living in our little hovel here in
Navigli, taking classes at Bocconi. Meeting guys who were all wrong for
Never sure if we could scrape together enough money for rent. You’re
guess we didn’t appreciate it at the time. Didn’t know how good we had
While Drink Wine and Be
Beautiful is an
attractive read for any who enjoy culturally rooted short stories in
and backdrops of Italy in particular, it will be especially appropriate
those contemplating their own journeys to Italy, who will find this the
take-along tote to absorb while on the way to their Italian holiday
Return to Index
Kafka in Tangier
represents a literary reinterpretation of Kafka's classic Metamorphosis translated to a non-Western
backdrop, and will
especially attract literary audiences interested in a recreation of the
underlying themes of the original that evolves in vastly revised
Al-Idrisi is an ordinary overworked teacher whose
ambitions have been frustrated by life. When he awakens one morning to
that he has become a monster, after reading Kafka's Metamorphosis
before going to bed, he faces a distorted vision of
himself that portends a limited lifespan, alienation from his wife and
and distance from the life he thought he'd wanted and pursued.
Kafka's classic, Kafka
in Tangier is a novella. Its hard-hitting message requires
language that deploys in powerful thoughts to make the most of this
format, creating inspections that hold new impacts while remaining
(however loosely) to the original story which Mohammed Said Hjiouij
the beginning (convenient for newcomers to Kafka's classic, or those
it long ago).
process by which an ordinary, frustrated, would-be
critic transforms to find his life values and pursuits radically
him a hero in some eyes (indeed, he is described as such), but also
be "the beginning of his discovery
of his true family ties."
story moves back and forth between past, present, and
possible future events in a manner that both creates a backdrop of
understanding and connects these perceptions and events to the special
in which Jawad Al-Idrisi experiences his sea change of perspective and
particular to his Middle Eastern environment,
such as the agal, receive footnoted definition to help Westerners
special language, while the narrator's perspective is revealed in the
action that is solidly embedded in social, philosophical, and
storyteller's voice shines in narrative choices that
serve as segues between the writer's art and the plot and characters it
addresses, including the choices of names which come steeped in irony:
"In order to
make the storytelling easier for me, and easier for you to follow, I
myself obliged, at this juncture, to name the characters of our story.
will give our hero the name Jawad, generous as he is. The sister I’ll
Hind, the mother, Fatima, and, since hope comes with daughters, his
I’ll call Amal. There’s no need to name the wife, since she will be
No, better give her the name Sara, in case I need it. As for the
be Mohammed, family name al-Idrisi."
Tangier may be read and appreciated by those without prior or
familiarity with Kafka's Metamorphosis;
for maximum impact, the story would best be read and discussed in
with the original classic.
and literary readers who undertake this task
with a dual reading (or re-reading) of Metamorphosis
in Tangier will be especially intrigued by the cultural
contrasts that add
additional depth to Kafka's original existential message and the
embedded in his story.
deeper messages of the original, which revolve around
compassion, alienation, identity, and transformation, come to new life
perspective through the Moroccan backdrop that influences this
monster's evolutionary process.
collections and students of Kafka's works need
to include Kafka in Tangier on
reading lists and discussion group radars. Whether it's used in
or absorbed independently, Kafka in
Tangier represents a powerful consideration of family
oppression, and the nightmare of navigating contemporary Moroccan
society in a
new way that lends to debate and closer inspection.
Return to Index
amalL era JesuƨɘႱ hO
metaphysical and literary inspection represents both a
reflective piece and a call to arms that opens with the inquiry "Where did God go?"
References to philosophy, history, and heroes ensue
attempt to answer and illustrate this question, which weaves
spiritual reflection, and poetry in a unique way that captures the
spirit and soul like the phoenix, speculating on the improbable future
human race, steeped in an original sin which may ultimately translate
free-spirited nature of
this reflection defies any pat assignment of the term "poetry,"
"free verse," or even "essay" to these writings. The
intellectual works demand much of their reader which, in turn, requires
simmering absorption of concepts and illustrative language.
"Enēôlnən: Oh Maleficent Iradea Artificer, Fire and Ice
– chroni-cles of enduring balance and sacrifice.
Aegis safe-guards OURSTORY. Within a semiotic paradigm, This Choice does not belong to US. A
beauty plainly stated;
undeniable: All love possibility. The
Age of Delta, Evolution is nearly upon them. Will they
listen, can they
A pause, reflection. “Perhaps, not.” Enēôlnən winks as lips turn, exposing teeth. Wind pulls at sky and fabric alike. Cold, vital.
Iradea Artificer: So it shall be written. A Gift then."
contrast are works such as
'Motto': "An Ankh,/age-enduring core
structure./Möbius Strip,/replacing horizontal frame./Exquisite Strip
in gemstone;/ruby-sapphire, emerald-diamond/Elegance."
reflective pieces come together in unexpected ways, much as a
jigsaw puzzle that at first feels disparate, but actually holds many
stories, and inspections that interlace here demand much in the way of
intellectual contemplation, but reward those so inclined with a sense
and realizations that will drive not just individual contemplation, but
club discussion groups interested in literary and spiritually demanding
Phoenix Saga is
recommended for intellectual literature and philosophy
readers who will find its delve into the hopes, dreams, and
opportunities of a
species lost and found in its journeys through the universe to be
Libraries catering to such audiences will find this
book in a trilogy represents a mighty, powerful hand that both
creates connections to the universe that deserve debate and discussion
Return to Index
Night and Day
Lymer & Hart/Garden Oak Press
Night and Day: Art and Allegory
ideally will be chosen for literary
classrooms and collections interested in the fine art of descriptive
It creates a visual and verbal contrast between night and day,
fine art of the allegory in a series of poetic contrasts that are as
personal as they are ethereal paths to higher-level thinking.
first poem, an untitled tribute to things encouraged and lost in life,
opens with a twist: "Rosemary,/They told you to sing/as they
your brain/and then a wire was snipped/and you barely talked again."
The poem continues with reflections on another circumstance where
were clipped before it returns full circle to the subject at hand—which
out to exist in a fugue state of new possibility.
work cultivates a hidden gift that unfolds to reveal layers of new
possibilities from life experiences. Each piece cultivates a different
perspective and layer of freestyle writing that sometimes defies any
traditional form of a poem, as in the two works on Mary Wollstonecraft
but rewards literary readers with powerful imagery that seethes with
and impact. In this example, "Mary stood with the thousand
voices and walked into the darkness."
Andy Palasciano's subject is a fool who
undertakes nighttime swims with the ducks and "had
a belligerent dream of light"
or kids walking home from a costume party who are dressed as clowns,
rods, or compost piles, reflecting their inner countenances, Palasciano
astute at juxtaposing inner and outer worlds of observation,
scope and breath of these works, punctuated by black
and white line drawings that illustrate their underlying messages,
Night and Day an artistic and
literary recommendation that flavors its works with the overcoat of
and underlying layers of thought-provoking complexity. These will make
fodder for creative writing group and classroom discussion, as well as
examples of contemporary allegory and contrasts worthy of feature in
library strong in modern poetry.
Return to Index
Prasenjit Gupta’s new translation of Rabindranath Tagore’s classic Gitanjali pairs the translated poems of Tagore’s “Song Offerings” with the Bengali originals as well as the translations done by Tagore himself, creating a literary work of Indian spiritual and cultural force that should be in any library strong in authoritative South Asian literature.
The origins and effort involved in this particular translation need to be explained to Westerners who may be unfamiliar with the Bengali classic; for the writer Rabindranath Tagore, beloved for his own works in Bengali, has already produced an authoritative translation considered by many Indians to be the end-all experience of the poems in Gitanjali, whose publication and enthusiastic reception in the West led to Tagore’s winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. The work is considered to be representative of the best of modern Indian literature.
Prasenjit Gupta’s translation captures each poem in three ways: in the Bengali original, with Rabindranath Tagore’s translation, and Gupta’s own translation. In this manner, Tagore's Gitanjali receives a closer inspection and interpretation than Rabindranath himself achieved; adding an extra dimension of understanding that is strengthened by Gupta’s consideration of what is lost and gained in the translation process:
“... for many of these poems the translations [by Tagore himself] do not hew closely to the originals; readers of Bengali will easily be able to see how they diverge. In many places Tagore combines lines to produce a compressed English version, he omits fragments and even entire lines of the Bengali, he explains the thought behind the Bengali by making the English version more explicit, and so on. Rabindranath’s English versions, in other words, are versions polished to make them more accessible and appealing to readers of English poetry.”
A hundred years after Tagore’s achievement, these poems still hold their allure and power. They are strengthened by the dual translations and, more importantly, by the opportunity to cross-examine the translators’ intentions and choices in side-by-side presentations in two languages.
This in itself represents a feat not typically available to literary readers in general and students of Indian classics in particular.
The translator’s preference, which is key to understanding the foundations of his endeavor and choices, is outstanding in its introduction to Tagore and the original translations: “That’s the difference between [Tagore’s] poetic translation and a translation that stays close to the original. No comparison.”
The end result is more than just a reconsideration of a classic collection of poem songs, but a celebration of the different approaches and task of translating them for modern audiences.
Ideally, Prasenjit Gupta’s new translation of the classic Gitanjali will be considered both a foundation work for any authoritative library strong in Indian classical poetry and literature, and a powerful lesson in translation’s efforts and challenges.
Gitanjali should not only appear in
literary collections, but should be chosen for creative writing,
studies, and Indian literature classrooms, offering much food for
the process of representing and interpreting classic literature as a
Return to Index
To Be Human
978-1639888313 $8.99 ebook/$18.99 Paper
To Be Human
consists of five novellas and novelettes which are firmly rooted in a
sense of place and disparate purposes, focusing on characters that at
seem to hold little in common. Each of the characters makes solo
forge ahead in their lives, driven by their own force of will and
experiences and perceptions; but each finds these motivators affected
changed by newfound realizations and implausible associations with
around them who impact their lives.
Perhaps ironically, the collection starts with
the Line,' which opens in Miami where first generation Cuban-American
Dr. Montesinos (who is "professionally committed to regenerative
medicine") finds his life unexpectedly linked with that of Venezuelan
Dr. Montesinos is
used to manipulating stem cells and has fostered a goal of contributing
Latino community through his efforts—but he's not used to similarly
drug lords (even though he's honed the fine art of locating benefactors
work and soliciting generous gifts for his research).
J.D. Puett takes the time to contrast the lives,
motivations, and lofty ideals of both men in introductory chapters
moral and ethical clashes begin. These contrasts and the time taken to
into their characters and family roots contribute to the greater good
story that arises like a Phoenix from roots of dysfunction and good and
choices to formulate new opportunities for each individual.
In contrast is 'Alive?', which profiles quite a
physician/scientist whose objective is to not just revolutionize brain
but to awaken the dead—as in dead brains.
If this objective is reached, how does it then
of the living and the dead? A peck of problems emerges from success as
neurologist Dr. Schneider unwittingly pushes not just the boundaries of
but the ethical edge of what constitutes humanity.
Each story features a fast pace, but takes the
time to build backgrounds, motivations, and insights before the
begin. Each thus represents an especially mighty use of the short
form, which may be held up as examples for creative writing and
students interested in making the most of every word and concept in a
Libraries and readers looking for thought-provoking
that pairs brevity with powerful impact will find that To
Be Human works on many levels, whether as a consideration of
what it means to challenge established social and ethical norms in
ways, or as a reflection of the best use of the novella and novelette
Return to Index
The Usefulness of the Hippopotamus
Vincent J. Tomeo
The Usefulness of the
Hippopotamus is a poetry chapbook of humorous advice for
times, employing humor to invite readers to "walk
with me into a poem, laugh, and smile."
A literary anecdote for trying times, The Usefulness of the Hippopotamus
follows the irony and wit in
dealing with modern life. It starts with "Notes on a Poetry Reading at
Library," in which the poet is encouraged to put on a multimedia
production to attract listeners, although the librarian and poet admit
free Starbucks coffee at the end of the session will likely prove a
than his literary prowess: "The
librarian said,/play music with your slides./If they are not interested
slides,/they might enjoy the music."
Such free-spirited and wide-ranging observations
wry tone of inspection, reflection, and wit into life's moments,
that capture moments in time, such as "Happy Halloween 2019" and its
celebratory tone: "Have a boo
bobbing bash at the pumpkin patch/Carving plump party pumpkins/Oh
Jack-O-Lantern/Light up the night for Trick-Or-Treating/Hear little
parading, pitter-patter,/Crushing leaves..."
Often, the poem ends with an unexpected bang, as in
"Pancakes in Heaven," which imagines an event where "It
is the first time we all felt no
fear, anxiety, tension, or stress./We were all given a choice of
breakfast:/Sweet angel’s delight,/amen, fluffy and Light,/out of this
with sinless blueberries,/Holy Immaculate raspberries,/pumpkin’s fourth
commandment is served with honey and whipped/cream."
The Usefulness of the
Hippopotamus is both a poetry lesson and an example of
irony, and fun in daily events and mindful excursions. Perhaps such an
could only have evolved from the COVID-19 pandemic. If so, this
bow to adversity, drawing on the creative spirit to defy negative and
world inspection and experience.
This collection's light-hearted, free-spirited
appeal not to the reader attracted to rigid verse in iambic pentameter
philosophical reflections, but to libraries and poetry readers already
struggling with weighty times, who just want to take a break with a
collection of delightful observations and a good cup of coffee served
free verse attractions.
Return to Index
A Wyoming State of Mind
Eugene M. Gagliano
Crystal Publishing, LLC
978-1-942624-77-6 $34.95 Hardcover/$24.95 Paper
Readers might associate Wyoming with cowboys and
to believe that A Wyoming State of Mind
is penned by a cowboy poet, but such could not be further from the
Wyoming holds many delights and cultural strengths, and one of these is
State Poet Laureate Eugene M. Gagliano, who here creates a literary
his state that celebrates its life, people, and nature.
Gagliano crafts this celebration from the opening
poem, which captures Wyoming as a place of physical wonder ("...land of intricate beauty/formidable mountains
in pristine white peaks/embroidered in dark pine, spruce and
shards of granite/powerful, playful waterfalls...") as well
illustration of interpersonal connections and possibilities: "not just a place/but a state of
mind/where faith guides people/and hope rises each day/with the light
Readers need not be
familiar with Wyoming in order to appreciate Gagliano's
celebration of its land, people, and culture. All they need is
for evocative, powerful poetry and the state of mind to appreciate a
moving celebrations of the land he so loves.
As if these written
words weren't powerful enough, they are then spiced with color photos
capture peoples and places.
Moving from a
celebratory tone to the trials, tribulations, and realizations of
with others both within and outside of Wyoming, Gagliano
incorporates life experiences with these vignettes of place to
Wyoming's state of mind and influence to other milieus. The collection
evolves a sense of purpose that links Wyoming's special strengths to
processes of interacting with and absorbing life changes.
The result represents a state of mind that carries
Wyoming roots to the heartland of American experience in a fine
will appeal to poetry enthusiasts and libraries seeking literary works
ability to grasp and delight through inspirational pieces that resonate
the descriptive force of "Trees
baring their scarred souls/in shades of shadowy light/Undaunted, like
worn by life,/yet reaching for the sky."
A Wyoming State of Mind
does more than reach. It touches and then grabs the
reader's heart and mind.
Return to Index
978-1-960146-09-0 $29.95 Hardcover/$16.95 Paper
All the Memories That Remain is E.M.
Liddick's memoir about
returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan to a life in shambles. The
realizations about his life that hit him when he returned were there
when he left, but became unavoidable as absence and return resulted in
inspections he could no longer deny.
He no longer loved his wife of eleven years. His father, who suffered from early-onset Alzheimer's, was there only in spirit and history, but lived on. These and other life-changing experiences were brought home, ironically, by his role as a soldier:
"...my involvement in Afghanistan—my participation
death—was to be the force that overcame inertia. And when I came back
the first ominous whispers of change within me, that ability to breathe
noticing fell away, and I suddenly came face-to-face not only with
post-traumatic stress and moral injury but also unresolved grief over
of my father. This is a story with many threads, wrapped around a skein
hope. A hope found in rediscovered letters and exhumed memories."
quality of Liddick's inspection translates to a fluid form that moves
forth in time to pursue memories and experiences of grief and healing.
and interactions that cement the experiences of and relationship
and son create a moving testimony to the power of transformative
adaptation, and life changes:
"Dad is everywhere and in me: buried in the
memories, the stories,
the words—in the love that never dies. I want a return not to the
of a town but to the hearthstone of the heart. With this observation, I
Dad close. A warmth slowly spreads through my body, and for a moment, I
less hollow; the homesickness disappears. Dad can’t forget me if I
him. And so long as the moon continues to rise, I won’t. Maybe, just
that some thing I’ve been
searching for out there has
been in here the entire
At stake in
memories are the circumstances of coping with life, love, and loss
juxtapose a military experience and perspective with the lasting impact
emotional storms occurring at home.
the field of memories and experiences that brought him to new
readers follow his foray in and out of service, his home life and
priorities, and the relationships that experienced tumult and
through many different circumstances. The memoir could have been
'Metamorphosis' because the hard, gritty blend of recollections and
interpersonal encounters and clashes results in a special form of
and hard realizations that are not recommended for the faint of heart,
readers who can absorb and appreciate the dual lessons of trauma and
interactions pull no punches in capturing the milieu of military and
life and the long-term impact of observing the results of military
actions: "Sometimes the body will twitch. The
person is dead, but the body still twitches."
powerful tribute to veterans, families facing the hurdles and
circumstances of aging parents, and those interested in the
process and life incarnations of redemption, healing, and change.
recollections and interactions will ideally spark interest not just in
libraries strong in veteran biographies and family stories of aging,
reader discussion groups interested in books and stories that guide the
towards better understanding, resolution, and healing:
"I can find my dad’s essence in every moment that brings me happiness, peace: his singing in the birdsong; his mystery and hard exterior and hidden emotions in the heavy fog and icy edges and black rock; his playfulness in the otters; his seriousness in the calm lake; his love of rain in the mist; his twinkle in the golden glow on the mountain’s slope—his entire life, his entire being, captured in the ups and downs, the mountains and valleys, the light and dark."All the Memories That Remain
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Chasing the Daylight
978-1-6698-6940-5 $19.95 Hardcover/$13.95 Paper/$9.95 ebook
Chasing the Daylight: One
Woman’s Journey to Becoming a U.S. Army Intelligence Officer is
a memoir about a ballerina's
entry into the military. There, she becomes an intelligence officer and
her dream despite barriers from physical challenges, discrimination,
of her past.
books about women
entering the military have covered some of these topics, but what makes
story especially compelling is its focus not just on rigorous army
life, but how trust and confidence develops between officers and
As she hones the leadership skills necessary to not
survive, but command and excel, women who are also considering military
will find Rakowski's experiences to be candid, thought-provoking, and
revealing. It captures the realities of women in the military who
upward-bound career momentum in ways other women in military service
Perhaps this memoir's strength is because these
come couched in an analysis of military culture that is powered by
Rakowski learns along the way: “You know,
you are only as good as the people around you. Surround yourself with
people. Don’t take anything for granted.” As she receives,
reflects good advice and difficult experiences, Rakowski evolves and
thanks to her military service, in turn creates a memoir replete with
transformations, and realizations about life within and outside the
Chasing the Daylight is
eye-opening and captivating. Libraries and readers
interested in accounts of women in service who hold officer positions
training that leads them to be all they can be both within the army and
civilian life will find it involving and hard to put down:
"Sometimes, you revisit a
yet find no comfort. Like with the river, you come back to the same
cherished all those years ago, but the water is now replaced by a fresh
A patch of grass turned into a pile of sand. The small tree by the edge
exponentially. The big rock by the bend is now polished by the patient
little bridge had collapsed and appears abandoned in the background.
I felt in Fort Huachuca. I had to relearn how to love it, re-engage in
to call it home again."
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Fifty-One: Not Quite a
$27.95 Hardcover/$19.95 Paper/$6.99 ebook
Crossing Fifty-One: Not Quite a Memoir is
a survey of family relationships, midlife crises, and
revised perceptions of self and heritage. It comes to life through a
granddaughter's journey into her father and grandfather's worlds.
"not quite a
memoir" because its focus on the mechanics of dysfunctional family
relationships and their origins examines a powerful psychological force
reveals not just the processes of Debbie Russell's family, but the
choices, losses, and evolving abuse that move the timeline steadily
1950s and modern times.
who imbibe of Russell's
story can anticipate an unusual and powerful contrast between "then"
and "now" as events move between family members and affect their
is especially revealing
about the changes her probes bring to her only sibling, and how
members of her family make new choices in their relationships to one
"I also immediately recognize that, whatever this
it didn’t permanently impact Dad’s life—at least the part of his life
included Mum, Scott, and me. Okay. Now, what am I going to do with
Logically, the first person I need to share this with is Scott. I call
wonder of wonders, he answers. I reveal what I’ve found and send him
screenshots and, later, the full article. Again, we debrief. Neither of
recalls ever hearing about this. It’s so cool! So funny! So
interesting! So . .
. I quickly shift to the realization that talking about this among
one thing, but bringing it up with Dad is going to be another matter
Thus, Crossing Fifty-One evolves a methodology, tone, and approach that avoids the usual self-indulgent feel of memoirs and traverses into psychological revelations and contrasts that allow Russell's readers to better consider the impact of past encounters on present-day relationship patterns.
the most valuable
aspect of this not-quite-a-memoir lies in Russell's ability to capture
atmosphere through letters, communiqués, and insights about how these
connections shift over time and age:
"Always the jokester, my dad. Years ago, I’d
at my own conclusions regarding death, and none of them included any
afterlife. It made everything so much simpler. This is all we have;
best of it. Finally, I was able to hang up with Mum, and as if on cue,
pain eased up slightly. I wondered what it was like for Dad to
participate in a
conversation about his own funeral. Once again, I wished I could be his
collaborator, just as he had so often been mine. But that role was
within my mother’s purview. As the hospice social worker had informed
ten months ago, this was their journey."
Crossing Fifty-One is
a powerful saga about mid-life experience and changing family dynamics
only deserves a prominent place in libraries interested in family
but also in deep discussions among psychology and book clubs interested
of healing, recovery, and physical and mental connections between
illness, and family relationships.
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Maria Orlando & Nick Pappas
Mediterranean Mothers -
Masters of Guilt is a memoir steeped in Greek and Italian
explores teachers Maria and Nick, who are each influenced by their
the "old school" attitudes that influence their current lives.
As much as Maria and Nick seek to set aside some of
cultural influences, they find that "...all the flaws and emotional
excesses of that particular ethnic group" are part of their own psyches
they join forces to write a book documenting the prejudices and
that influence their lives.
The authors cultivate a candid sense of culture
often politically incorrect, but psychologically devastating in its
“Did you hear that, Liz?
Greeks. Always causing
trouble. I knew it, I knew it. Just like that damn Greek that works
daughter, that Pappas. Always breaking the rules, always after
As mothers, daughters, and sons come together and
contrasts in attitudes and perceptions, readers receive a lively series
interactions which are both inter-generational and cross-cultural in
The dialogues and perspectives rest on "old
country" stories, new experiences, and differences between them as the
narrators capture family gatherings, stormy debates, and travels that
ventures out of country and away from established comfort zones and
Readers will find this account mercurial in its
It's a travelogue, a survey of Mediterranean psyches and cultures, and
of friendships and family that evolve against the backdrop of an
fueled by "Italian guilt" and a first-generation Greek/American.
As these Mediterranean mothers rise into their own
and power, they carry with them an important message as their vacation
a catalyst for change: "...if you
are feeling guilty right now, maybe it’s because you have something to
Libraries and readers seeking memoirs steeped in
country connections and new world thinking will find Mediterranean
Mothers - Masters of Guilt not only a satisfying
contrast in cultures, but filled with thought-provoking insights into
different mechanics of guilt and family legacy.
This will lend to book club and psychology group
as well, making Mediterranean Mothers -
Masters of Guilt an astute read that holds a bit of something
Return to Index
On Old 67
979-8353357964 $16.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
On Old 67 is a memoir of coming of age in
Missouri, and captures
the milieu of bygone eras and pathways as Steven Clark traverses the
"asphalt river" of Highway 67 and chat dumps of its geography and
note about On Old 67 is the rich,
revealing tone of life's progression that leads readers through
territory. Steven Clark does not assume that his audience either knows
in general or these small rural towns in particular. Thus, he lends an
explorative and explanative hand to his memoir that blends historical
cultural examination into the story of his life's progression.
through this funnel of first-person experience in an evocative manner
the events, the region's culture and politics, and his family to life:
"Dad was one of those urging its implementation. He
to poor ambulance response from his Highway patrol days. (Once, he told
Gary, two rival ambulances came to an accident, and the attendants got
fistfight. Dad had to jerk the fist-swinging attendants loose...while
victims were still moaning and bleeding). It was fun seeing him on TV,
usual white shirt and dark tie, confident and explaining the need for a
system, his authoritative voice deep and pleasant. I was proud seeing
the news. Mother and Ebie refused to watch. 'Him trying to be a ‘big
always,' sneered Mother. Ebie, arms folded, nodded. 'He walked out on
family. That’ll never change.' At times, Gary and I wondered...aloud to
ourselves, as we did, plinking off rounds ...if Dad had done the right
On Old 67 represents a road trip through
bygone years, influences,
and culture. Readers who take a back seat car ride through Steven
and times receive vignettes about small-town life that impart a sense
and change that sweeps the author and his family into altered lives:
"We drove north on highway 67, passing Old 67 on
the west side of
the new highway; twisted, plugged up with asphalt here and there,
black spread out that I wrote of at the beginning, recalling Rorschach
The old road’s scraps of habitation are often hidden in high, uncut
wild bush competing with formerly inhabited houses now abandoned with
rotting wood, or single-room sized service stations with broken windows
rusting signs whose brown creep ate away at formerly cheerful or
In the end,
remnants of these byroads and choices of the past, captured in memoirs
like On Old 67, are all that's left
out milestones of the past and methods by which it transforms into new
environments and perceptions.
seeking memoirs steeped in stories of survival and change will find
that On Old 67 brings these times
to life. It
will attract memoir readers from all walks of life who are interested
dysfunctional family makeups and the process of integrating and
as time passes and people and places change.
Return to Index
J. L. Askew
978-1685268855 $22.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Alaska Deadly follows Memphis private eye
Race Warren out of his
comfort zone. His latest case leads him to the rugged wilderness of
Alaska on a
search for his client's estranged husband, but what he finds in the
a missing persons search churns up even stormier possibilities. His
lands him in a remote arctic village where a scientist is studying
ancient rites that may have led to local killings.
anticipate the search will be over when Warren finds missing ex-cop
but in fact this only jumpstarts further mysteries as he discovers that
Billings is looking for poses threats on a level he'd never imagined.
both with Warren's initial assessment of the mission and with the fate
captive woman headed to the North Slope to confront a nightmare she
There are no
answers to the paradoxes which emerge as Warren's probe draws him ever
into Alaskan heritage, ancient cultures, tribal rituals, and an evil
into the contemporary world that threatens far more than a single man,
daughter, or an investigator's case.
novel with Alaskan culture and environment to such a degree that
shiver at the cold facts that emerge from this frozen tundra of ancient
and contemporary conflict.
characterization and unexpected revelations drive a story line replete
dangerous discoveries well rooted in tribal traditions: "Hartley
thought the ritual was animal worship, that the Ankauits
believed in a wolf deity. But with further observation, it became more
fraudulent situations to get at the truth, Billings find his morals,
and investigative prowess continually challenged. He's forced to
for the greater good of solving a puzzle that increasingly embraces a
group of people than he ever could have imagined.
his discoveries and the Alaskan native traditions and perspectives that
accompany his journey will especially delight readers seeking thrillers
are more than casually steeped in their environments and influences.
looking for vivid thriller stories that evolve an unexpected set of
between a singular case and broader world-changing events will find Alaska Deadly especially powerful in its
story of an investigator forced to step outside his usual paths of
discovery. The thought-provoking story is filled with surprises and
hard to put
Return to Index
Ottawa Press and Publishing
All That Glitters is the thirteenth book
in the Sgt. Windflower
mystery series, but his latest tale represents a diversion for the good
Sergeant Winston, because his new role as a Community Safety Officer in
home town of Grand Bank, Newfoundland brings with it a case which
lands on his doorstep.
the bed and breakfast he co-owns proves to harbor diamonds in its
tract—jewels that then involve his good friend Dr. Sanjay, who is given
gems for safekeeping, then vanishes.
come to Grand Bank, and its glittery attraction brings a deadly danger
thwarts Windflower's ability to step neatly and effectively into his
while helping his friend Eddie Tizzard track down the perps.
environment, and politics collide with Windflower's new role outside
familiar Canadian Mountie milieu, challenging him to employ his new
and efforts in unusual ways.
Windflower series is so compelling is that Mike Martin takes the time
capture the sights, atmosphere, and culture of Newfoundland:
“I remember it being busier than this when I was
here before. As
someone from a land-locked province like Saskatchewan, I loved seeing
all,” said Carrie.
“Yeah, the traffic comes and goes,” said Windflower. “Part of what’s missing is the big cruise boats. They would take up half this side of the harbour. But it’s still pretty nice to be by the ocean. Feels peaceful.”
interludes also cement emotional connections that build as folklore
imparted while Wildflower is in a dream state, and clues are given that
not only his investigations, but his approach to life:
“Be strong but be gentle and always show respect to
Auntie Marie as the moose slowly walked back into the lake. Windflower
as the moose disappeared into a mist that hovered over the water. He
and missed his auntie but felt filled up by her visit."
also offers rich philosophical and life inspections that mystery
not expect. These augment the mystery in a satisfying manner that
insights and reflection beyond the usual whodunit:
“Did she tell you the moose story?” asked Uncle
“She did,” said Windflower. “Why did she come as a moose, and why did she tell me that story?”
“She seems to like that appearance,” said Uncle Frank, chuckling. “I think she finds it funny to imagine the looks on our faces. As for the story, you must have needed to hear that message again.”
“About being strong and showing respect to others?” asked Windflower.
“And also being gentle,” said his uncle. “It’s easy to be a strong man. It’s harder to be a gentle man.”
bit as important as the clues to diamonds, smugglers, and perps that
Newfoundland's culture and Windflower's newfound role, creating a
and multifaceted story as astute in its psychological and cultural
as it is in its intrigue.
All That Glitters is a satisfying
stand-alone mystery that also
enhances the Windflower series as a whole, following Sargeant Winston's
and life progression.
either new to the series or who hold prior affection for Windflower's
milieu will find All That Glitters
involving tale that further reveals Windflower's dreams, reality, and
reflections on life's adversity and promise. Its powerful character
equally rich tension that creates a story hard to put down and
by surprising metaphysical and philosophical reflections.
Return to Index
McCrone defines 'bastard
verdict' as "Scottish
third verdict in a criminal trial, Not Proven. In addition to Guilty
Guilty, Scottish law has Not Proven, which has come to mean that the
jury (or a
judge in special cases) believes that the defendant is guilty but The
not provided sufficient evidence."
This seemingly-esoteric definition comes to life in an unusual way in a
thriller that centers on a hot American topic: voter rights and
Agent Imogen Trager, an investigator of voting
integrity, has taken leave from the Bureau, hoping to leave behind the
there, and travels to Scotland, bringing a skill set that leads her
examine charges of irregularities in the 2014
Scottish Independence referendum.
She's found that,
though voting fraud is rare, electoral fraud is a very real influencer
political outcomes, undermining or outright destroying one of the basic
of citizens. Her expertise creates a milieu in which Imogen becomes
with not just Scottish struggles for political control, but the rights
by ballot box and political manipulation. These forces would do
retain their power ... even kill.
James McCrone weaves
a powerful story with thriller components embracing contemplative
social and political realizations, and Imogen's special prowess at
uncovering the truth at all costs.
The Scottish dialect and references which permeate discussions may stymie some readers, but is ultimately quite understandable with a minimum of effort; especially as the discussions fuel emotionally charged observations key to understanding the plot's progression: "...ye can see that the wee box from the working-class bit of the ward mebee did better than the box from the polling station in the bougie area.”
shadowy group of conspirators in and outside of the
government has never come up against the determination of a woman like
who relentlessly pursues the truth and pries out the facts that lead
rabbit warren of convoluted possibilities and threats.
keeps the tension high and the psychological
depth on track as the characters evolve their own special purposes and
motivations for either pursuing or hiding the truth. Social and
entanglements come to life through dialogues and interactions that test
character's determination, while intrigue is steeped into the most
stakes are high; both for Imogen, who values her
career and life and bets her expertise on her abilities to reveal
truths, and for those around her who have a vested interest in
social and political realizations that rock these
worlds are logical and thought-provoking: “Am
Ah the only one who was glaikit enough tae believe that government was
tae be better than a pack of
killings and confrontations mount, delicate balances
of power and procedure are shaken, leading readers to question and
Imogen's ability to navigate treachery in unfamiliar circumstances and
and readers seeking a thriller which is heavy
in its Scottish cultural revelations and particular in its examination
electoral processes and ideals of freedom and control will find Bastard Verdict replete with powerful
insights and issues of trust and a journey gone terribly awry—but,
in a good way:
"It all looked
so safe to her, so prosperous and tidy. But it was a lie. They weren’t
They’d bought some time. But they still had no idea how to end this."
Return to Index
Aurion du Preez
Anaphora Literary Press
$74.34 Hardcover/$25.00 Paperback/$2.99 Kindle
crime thriller holds an unusual dual attraction in its coverage of
immigrant issues, and struggles in southern Mississippi, in the small
of Bayou Caddy. Vietnamese boy Ronny
Pham and his white girlfriend Paige McArthur are the targets of an
kills him and leaves her in a nursing home.
Fast forward fifteen years,
when events have been forgotten and the town's new Sheriff, Warren
grapples with forces that defy the laws of men and nature alike.
Amongst the kudzu
vines and Cajun community's spicy culture lies a powerful knowledge
in a descendent of slaves who fears nothing in the world, Ezra
knowledge of voodoo and forces beyond his ken affects the next
whose lives still resonate from violence and losses of the past.
is a good law
enforcement officer. His questions raise ghosts from the past and
influences on the present as he grapples with a fifteen-year-old secret
truth that Ezra knows and Kim An doesn't want revealed.
Carmichael feels it's good to be home with her
brother Mack at Cotton Manor. It's a feeling that will dovetail and
Warren's probe, which draws them ever deeper into a long-held truth
community and its deep-running still waters.
won't expect some of the supernatural threads
that emerge to test the boundaries of thriller and fantasy in Bayou Caddy—but these are part of its
allure. The surprise elements deeply embedded in the town's struggles
individual lives and choices that have long departed from normal routes
logic and justice give rise to many thought-provoking moments as the
Aurion du Preez crafts a story of social
inspection, psychological revelation, paranormal experience, and
prejudice and secrets that creates its own unique blend of action and
is the point of revenge and action? Seemingly, it's "to
defend the helpless, avenge the
wronged. Those are just empty words. No one feels vindicated and the
is worth the effort of redemption and what is not,
if "It’s not about making everything
right. That’s just not possible in this world.”
characters and readers consider issues of the greater
good, retaliation, and a mysterious force that emerges from the
between swamp environment and human desires, the mystery and truths
prove riveting and hard to predict.
Preez brings to life this Mississippi milieu,
embedding it with cultural and social revelations that lead readers to
the darkness that lives in their own presumptions and actions.
and readers seeking thrillers firmly embedded
in Southern culture and legacies of prejudice and love will
find Bayou Caddy a
rich, evocative read worthy of book club discussion and individual
Return to Index
Big Island, L.A.
High-Top Publishing LLC
Big Island, L.A.
provides a complimentary volume to Boston Teran's
literary thriller Never Count Out the
Dead, but it's important to note that no prior familiarity is
order to appreciate this book as a powerful stand-alone crime story.
As is his style,
Teran opens this story with a bang and a contemporary twist that
invite, but grabs readers: "Landshark
was the first to report in his “Big Island, L.A.” podcast that a Covid
arted up to mimic the Joker’s heinous grin had been left at the scene
robbery at the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club gun shop."
In just one powerful
line, the setting, place, and crime are revealed. This is just the
salvo in a series of distinctly hard-hitting revelations that send
podcast creator William Worth (a.k.a. 'Landshark') on his journey past
self-imposed isolation when former combat marine Ana Ride enters his
investigation with an irresistible lure to drive him away from his
In a city where
shootings occur daily, Ana's experiences stand out and portend a
into bloodshed, murder, and deadly fighting that mimics the
war, but takes place on the streets of L.A.
Readers looking for
strong senses of place and purpose, cemented by the special interests
objectives of a myriad of characters who each step out of their comfort
will find the action tense and the psychology well depicted in Big Island, L.A.
Teran's ability to
dovetail disparate lives, special interests, and "Olympic
grade liars" capable of talking themselves into
trouble and deadly situations shapes a tense crime drama packed with
turns even seasoned thriller readers won't see coming.
between tenants' associations and different conspirators who "have more juice than us, so they have
more veracity," the story embraces a host of political
interests and interactions that fairly sizzle with hard gravity,
actions and reactions outside the norm.
Libraries and readers
seeking crime thrillers that embrace literary and social inspections
beyond the norm will find Big Island,
L.A. a powerful foray into L.A. culture and the psyche of
comes to admit that "The living
world out there had become the embodiment of every paranoid fear he had
been tormented by. The terror he emotionally suffered more alive in
the day to
day existence down below than he could have ever imagined. He and the
were about the same."
Return to Index
978-1-957224-07-7 $14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Cozy mystery readers
may recognize Stan Charnofsky's name from the prior Charlotte Smart
and will be delighted to find this third book in the series also
special flavor of discovery that brings its characters and setting to
Broadway Farivar is a
devotee of Charlotte. The son of immigrant parents, he and his sister
were on the road to success when their train derailed, causing
investigative skills to enter the picture.
determined to find answers to his sister's dilemmas at all costs.
used to a small-town atmosphere, finds the call to enter New York's
alluring and challenging. Can small-town detective skills translate to
a family's pressing questions in the Big Apple?
Charlotte may have
bitten off more than she can chew, because the combination of
territory and a family who only knows her via a newspaper article
perfect storm of challenge to her instincts and abilities as they
appearances on a bigger stage than she's ever imagined.
Cavanaugh and Charlotte Smart turn up clues about Brooklyn's deadly
they stumble into subcultures that range from immigrant communities to
counter-culture enclaves, all operating in New York's underworld and
holding answers that work together to create the puzzle's bigger
crafts a sultry, revealing tone in his story that immerses readers in
Charlotte's sleuthing abilities and the backdrop of New York City. He
time to test the interplays between various characters, from brother
to Charlotte's intuitive intelligence, which gets "...to
the heart of an issue, tear away the cobwebs, ignore the
more than one crime, and her instincts lead her into uncharted
give the story a special atmosphere of discovery that will surprise
cozy mystery fans.
Whether or not
libraries have the prior Charlotte Smart books in their collections, Broadway both supports this savvy
investigator's professional and personal evolution and stands nicely
alone as a
solid cozy mystery attraction.
In the end, Charlotte's
realizations about her choices are powerful portents of endings and new
"Now it is resolved, and,
yes, there is an empty feeling, as there
is after a war is won, after a race is over, when a compelling piece of
ends. Challenge gone. Something larger than yourself had a life of its
now has died. Uncovering material and the intricate details of the
are no longer required. Thank goodness for being an optimist, for
endings as opportunities. As they say, a door closes and a window
Will Charlotte use
her remarkable skills and discoveries to change her life yet again?
mystery readers are in for a treat, both with the mystery component
in Broadway and its vision of how
detective skills change lives.
Its ability to build
strong characters who step out of their familiar roles to tackle
issues makes for a riveting story that's hard to put down, powered by
attraction of a small-town investigator operating in big-city
stage productions and an older female detective who is faced with
retirement or developing more skills to address ongoing mysteries.
Return to Index
R.A. Van Vleet
Dark Traffic is
a thriller novel set in Southern California that
embraces the world of sex trafficking and threats to those that would
it. It opens with an unexpected minor car accident to Ian's Mercedes,
him with a distracted woman whose inability to navigate her stick shift
introduces Ashley Davis into his life.
The woman is separated from her billionaire
husband, and is
in need of Ian's security services. What seems like serendipity and an
protection request evolves into something more insidious and deadly as
finds his life laced with Ashley's world. Both are drawn into
threats that come with new revelations about Ashley, her husband, and
that threaten their lives.
R.A. Van Vleet creates a social and political
that tempers its investigative tone with considerations of the
brewing between the characters. While the reason for these attacks
mercurial for much of the story, what is apparent is a series of
influences on Ian and Ashley's lives and health which emerges to reveal
underbelly to society that Ian was not previously familiar with. Events
to reveal a series of confrontations that rest on Ashley's health or
Ian's increasing inability to fully protect her.
Van Vleet builds excellent tension throughout the
whether with elements of strange attraction and coincidence, or
threats that dance through the novel's probe of difficult truths.
Ian and Ashley's immersion into DEA, FBI, and other
investigative forces leads them down paths neither anticipated or was
with, giving the events a realistic overlay of surprise that will
seasoned thriller audiences.
Libraries and readers seeking a realistic, riveting
into what turns out to be a national drug and human sex trafficking
organization will find the tension, cat-and-mouse games, and characters
in Dark Traffic to be satisfyingly
realistic and compelling.
Return to Index
Death in a Bygone Hue
Susan Van Kirk
Level Best Books
978-1-68512-336-9 $16.95 Paper/$5.99 ebook
The second book in the
Art Center Mysteries, Death in a Bygone
Hue, continues the story of artist Jill Madison's return to
and new life in
her hometown, where she has established a position as executive
director of a
new art center and cemented a reputation for problem-solving by the
solved in Death in a Pale Hue.
All has not been completely peaceful since then, because 'Ivan the Terrible,' the president of the art center's board, is not just an ongoing thorn in her side, but a professional nemesis whose ongoing (and often petty) concerns constantly thwart her efficiency and attempt to direct her every move.
Think the worst of
micromanagers—that would be Ivan. Now pair him with a terrible event
leaves behind a legacy of mystery when her good friend and mentor Judge
Spivey is killed, bringing his estranged children into her life with a
to circumvent her inheritance from his will. These developments add a
tension to the plot that evolves on multiple levels as the story plays
As in the previous
Jill Madison account, Susan Van Kirk creates masterful interactions
kinds of disparate individuals and special interests, flavoring the
mystery with evolving community quandaries that keep Jill on her toes
at odds with the very people she's supposed to serve in her new job.
"Who knew I lived in such
a colorful town?"
Jill is only
beginning to scratch the surface of its underlying influences, and
follow along with her discoveries, which are presented in a thoroughly
engrossing and revealing manner that touches upon these emotional and
interest connections to involve them in the heartbeat of a small town's
Van Kirk's ability to
bring Jill and her conundrums to life comes from both her astute
tone and the revealing events that embrace the feel of a cozy mystery
revelations of interpersonal strife:
"I took several sips of wine, sat back on the sofa, and thumbed through the rest of the newspaper. Summer sports were over for my niece and nephew, Tom’s kids, so I glanced through the sports pages in a few seconds. Then I returned to the front section. Hmm. What might Editor Gushman have found to write about? I pulled open the editorial page and gasped at the headline: “Cover-Up is Alive and Well in Murder Investigation.” It reminded me I despised the woman. I folded the page back and read her editorial. Dread came over me."
From accusations of
cover-ups and special interests to vividly described events that often
wry undercurrent of humor, Van Kirk creates many compelling twists and
cemented by a sense of person, place, and ironic inspection:
"I hit my brakes, skidded
on the wet pavement, and went careening
onto the shoulder and down into a ditch, coming to an abrupt stop.
Before I got
my wits about me, my airbag deployed, and I felt like I’d been socked
face by a sumo wrestler. Fortunately, my car called 9-1-1. Gotta love
twenty-first century technology."
Death in a Bygone Hue is
a breath of fresh air in the mystery
series because its focus on evolving and shifting interpersonal
powers a whodunit that embraces a small town's prejudices, perceptions,
Libraries and readers
seeking a stand-alone mystery that both supports the prior book and
intrigue as Jill settles into her role and navigates the dangerous
her hometown will find Death in a Bygone
Hue a delight.
Return to Index
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
978-1-5092-4187-3 $14.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
the third book in the Spider Green Mystery Thriller series, represents
in opposites as navy lawyer Faydra
"Spider" Green finds herself on a ship headed for a particular kind
of hell. It seems unlikely that a man can return from the dead, much
time itself can be altered, but Roman Justine is back. And he's thirsty
Norm Harris opens his
thrillers in a similar fashion, by introducing seemingly disparate
that, later on, prove to create an important backdrop of intrigue that
will return to, to discover the roots of the well-developed tension
embraces Faydra's efforts.
In Deception Pass,
this involves a timeline
of three months prior, the setting of a Beijing Prison, and an odd form
escape which brings a prisoner to Moscow, his "home away from home."
The events may open the story, but they evolve in curious and
as, fifteen days later, Fay is once again confronting Death's clever
a figure she knows only far too well through too much life experience:
"Although she had experienced Death before, including three of her own near-death experiences, Navy Judge Advocate Commander Faydra Green had not gotten used to his genius. Then again, Death was not a person. Although he was, without a doubt, a man."
also a major player in events that unfold over her
investigation of the U.S.S. Deception Pass, a spy ship that seems able
appear and disappear at will. Fay's vision has her on board the bridge
Russian ship which encountered Deception Pass.
been sidelined in her investigation—but is it to
keep her out of harm's way, or due to the remote viewing potential of
dreams and abilities she has yet to acknowledge?
James Bond-like investigator who deftly fields a series
of extraordinary events that test her perception of reality, time and
evolves in a thriller that goes the extra mile to place Fay's special
under the microscope of impossible situations and investigations.
excels in creating a proactive female character
that has many uncommon abilities, yet is not above examining her own
vulnerability and illusions as she absorbs seemingly impossible events
tests their reality and outcomes.
JAG conference rooms and military inspections to
Fay's own unfolding confrontation with a dangerous adversary who tests
abilities as well as national security measures, Harris moves his
readers through subplots steeped in fast-paced action tempered by
and parapsychological inspections.
maintains the thriller elements of solid tension and fast pace, but
tests and expands the powers of its main protagonist and the
those around her.
happen. The fact that Fay has pulled off many
fetes of magic and recovery, both for herself and those who become
caught up in
Moscow's dangerous bonds, lends to a compelling story filled with
characters who evolve at different paces and on disparate levels.
Pass is chosen as a stand-alone thriller or part of the
and readers will find this book solid in its ability to maintain the
high-octane action of a thriller and the continuity of its character's
development in previous books, while crafting an all-new story that
from typical paths of resolution in many satisfying ways.
Return to Index
$26.99 hardcover, $16.99 paperback, $6.99 Kindle
delivers another Dante & Jazz mystery that
returns the duo of Dante O’Donnell and Jazz Friendly to Palm Springs
mystery surrounding another conundrum.
Dante is a gay white man whose position as a concierge for Sunny Junket Vacation Rentals in Palm Springs leads him into unfamiliar territory far outside his job description. Jazz is a straight Black female on the rebound from a failed marriage who is struggling to establish her P.I. business. Their association in Book 1, Desert Getaway, (an Edgar Awards nominee for the Lilian Jackson Braun Award), presented an unabashed romp through seeming impossibilities as the disparate investigators faced unlikely scenarios that tested the talents and different perspectives of each character.
Desert Deadline opens with the unexpected, as well: the specter of Swedish death cleaning and the "cleaning dervish" Agnetha Berg, who is employed by Dante to help prep a newly listed vacation rental.
Dante and Jazz discover that the latest baggage to land in their laps
big-name author's last-minute mandate for solitude and secrecy) draws
another scenario that probes the underbelly of a vacation town's
From the start,
Michael Craft embeds his mystery with the quirky personalities of
who discover that their presumptions and attitudes are both useful and
to their latest investigation.
As Agnetha's disdain
for Dante and Jazz dovetails with inconsistencies in her story, the two
their focus on perps and possibilities, but find that their own
in subterfuge leads them not just to truth, but surprising outcomes.
The flash and
flamboyance of Palm Springs is revealed, along with its darker nature,
two investigators find themselves both thoroughly immersed in too many
possibilities and searching for the romance and emotional links missing
their own lives.
The moral and ethical
conundrums these changing relationships introduce to each are nicely
providing subplots that rest firmly on emotional connections and
big as the murder they're investigating:
"I was hoping he’d tell me
that something had come up, that we’d
have to postpone our rendezvous, our first
date. Please, I thought, let it be his
decision. Let him spare me the need to tussle with this,
need to juggle him with Isandro in my conflicting notions of loyalty
desire. I wanted an easy way out. But no."
Strengthened by a
myriad of characters who each hold special interests and roles in the
this mystery is as much about preserving the magic in relationships as
about preserving life in a gay community when motive, means, and
seem to point to a murderer who resides too close to home for comfort.
collections strong in LGBTQ+ stories, with patrons interested in
solidly steeped in a realistic sense of place and the juxtaposition of
different characters, will find the intrigue, emotional connections,
surprising twists and turns of Desert Deadline
translate to a solid acquisition choice.
Return to Index
Pisgah Press, LLC
Libraries and readers
looking for a classic gay murder mystery steeped in California culture,
political subterfuge, and characters that live on the line of lies and
will find Fault Line a fine study
intrigue that draws from its initial words, when Bob Abramson's first
in California brings him an earthquake, rain, and murder.
New lawyer Bob is no
stranger to murder. The murder of his roommate four years earlier
him to the victim’s Harvard professor, Marcus George, leading to a
which challenged them to build a new life together in California.
In this novel, the
two new transplants explore California's gay subculture and continue to
their relationship against the backdrop of a different murder that
"small earthquake" in their changed lives together.
H.N. Hirsch does an
excellent job of
juxtaposing a murder mystery with a gay couple's continuing evolution.
story is replete with satisfying twists and turns that contrast social
political insights with personal life challenges in unpredictable,
As the ins and outs of
conventional marriages, and closely held secrets come to light, both
Marcus find their lives transformed. Bob comes to realize that many of
assumptions about lifestyles and age groups prove questionable in
thought for a minute.
'And do you have any impression of the marriage?'
'None whatever. I’ve never really understood straight folk.'
Bob was startled; he hadn’t really stopped to consider whether Philip was gay or straight. He felt a pang of guilt; like many people his age, he hardly thought about older people in terms of relationships, or sex."
between mayors, attorney
generals, and other public figures come to light, Bob comes to realize
are too many suspects and secrets too close to home for comfort.
Readers who embark on this foray into California culture with Bob and Marcus will find the story packed with social and political as well as psychological and relationship insights. Hirsch brings to life a myriad of characters that swirl around this unique murder case and its accompanying special interests.
This creates a
memorable, compelling read as
suitable for genre readers of murder mysteries as it is for those
explorations of gay culture in California.
strength of the story:
it's set in Southern California, where the gay lifestyle is less famous
pronounced than in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has become almost
in gay circles.
Libraries and readers
will find Fault Line a powerfully
whodunit that adds value with its realistic inspection of gay
perceptions and experiences.
Return to Index
Cameron K. Moore
978-0-646-85704-6 $14.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
a Trident Force thriller. It is steeped in the action-packed drama
of a treacherous journey that characters experience as they encounter
covert American entity Trident, whose mission is to thwart threats to
nation, as represented by new technological developments in the hands
story opens with a wild motorcycle ride by
Molly Jones, whose special power is being fearless. Her ability has
career—but it's also especially attractive to those who would harness
talent for their own purposes. Even other nations such as China, which
developed a process to turn a human being into a bioweapon, are
for her potential contribution to their program.
Dr. Karl Shepherd is
as vested in preventing this as Molly is in defending her own life
and so the two join forces to defy China's program and objective
fact that Molly is the biggest prize they are after.
How can one trust a
truly fearless partner who is capable of nearly anything? That's one of
questions in Fearless.
the story progresses, Dr. Shepherd finds
himself in the position of quashing a new reign of terror while
who have infiltrated the Trident team itself.
K. Moore introduces satisfying twists
and turns that constantly question the forces of good and evil in a
conflict that could embroil the world in terrorism and fear. The
between Trident team members and Molly are nicely portrayed as Molly
realize that her own best interests are at stake not just with China,
that oppose China's intentions.
introduces excellent tension as the story
focuses on Molly's fearless attributes and the nature of her
life. She may be fearless, but she's not without compassion for others.
connections may save her, but they also bear a heavy cost.
biotech element of the threat is also well
done. China's foray into unethical territory is outlined in compelling
with changing events testing both sides with an unpredictable and
dance between good and evil and the
relationships that evolve and change during the Trident team's
a powerful thriller that is hard to put down or easily predict.
and readers attracted to thrillers
which thoroughly engage with moral and ethical questions spiced with
high-octane action will find Fearless
an intense story of loyalties tested by not just adversity, but
ability to support the series while standing nicely on its own makes
it a winner.
Return to Index
Wild Rose Press
978-1509239191 $17.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
features a ghost writer whose employment becomes
literal when her movie star boss suddenly dies in a drowning that
floundering in Paris. Re-hired for the job by a sullen son who
resents his father, Melody Layne is puzzled about his motivation and
until her biographical journey becomes a foray into crime and threats.
Is Melody's biography
the product of lies, or truth? As she makes the choice to delve deeper
deceased Charles-Henri Banville’s life, she uncovers hidden truths that
with powerful threats not only to her writing, but her life and those
It doesn't help that
she's in a foreign milieu, or that she comes to realize her writing is
a murder probe—something she has little experience in pursuing.
Corinne LaBalme's dialogues
are intriguing, reflecting a dash of humor as Melody chases clues to
has no business knowing about:
in retrospect, I may have jumped to a
“I’d say you pole vaulted to a conclusion.”
“But not without justification,” he countered. “You are definitely my father’s type."
The romance that
evolves alongside her duty to chronicle the truth leads to moral and
conundrums as Melody comes to realize that what she loves may be
LaBalme walks a fine
line between murder story and romance, but it's one nicely steeped in
atmospheres of both as Melody navigates situations she is both ill
manage in terms of experience, and uniquely talented to trail, thanks
writing and research background.
Other facets of the
son's anguished relationship with his father come to light over an
he never wanted, but which lies in question and comes with ironic
"Why did this man, who
ignored me all his life, make me his heir
and executor? Thanks to him, I’m a member of the one percent that I’ve
against all my life.”
backdrop blends the allure of a Paris romance with
the intrigue of a mystery that draws special interests to interact on
and investigative levels as police search for a reason to finger son
Ortega and Melody seeks the truth.
Libraries and readers
looking for mysteries steeped in first-person revelations and astute
considerations of romantic and detective pursuits alike will find French Ghost an appealing study in a
writer's quest against all odds and a romance that evolves despite her
recognition that "It was getting
harder and harder to love that man."
Return to Index
A Gilded Drowning
979-8-9851216-6-7 $15.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
With its dovetailing
of murder mystery and historical fiction, A
Gilded Drowning Pool introduces a special brand of
captivating action that
will attract both types of genre readers with its compelling contrasts
1899 high society New York and a childhood spent in the Western mining
This backdrop of
evolution is cemented by the specter of dangerous threat when a young
whose name harkens to Val’s Gaelic nickname is drowned on family
embroiling Val and her husband Roddy in a series of events and
threaten everything they've built in their lives and between one
contrast between her girlhood in the far West and the position she
herself in as Mrs. Roderick W. DeVere of New York’s Fifth Avenue comes
as the story moves through an unlikely set of circumstances and
their social status and Val's efforts to rise above adversity.
What does a proposed
Health-to-Wealth tent camp venture have to do with murder? As Val and
husband begin to realize that a bogus project is entangling their
affairs in a
serious and unexpected way, readers join them in a romp through the
the 1800s and its social and political currents.
develops an exquisite tension fostered by the first-person observations
and the interactions between her husband and various strata of society.
issues of financial gain and mutual cooperation to an investigation
exposes the fallacies of boyhood loyalties and the dangers Val and
in pursuing the truth, A Gilded Drowning
Pool virtually sizzles with unexpected twists. These lead
carefully examine the social and political entanglements of the times
to murderous decisions.
Val and Roddy find
themselves falling ever deeper into the quicksand of relationships they
they knew well, only to discover that the veneer of geniality and
overlays a dangerous undercurrent of threat that reaches out to grasp
them into ever-deadlier situations.
From tyrants and
liars to dark truths revealed, A Gilded
Drowning Pool creates an evocative, compellingly rich story
hard to put down. It is highly recommended for historical fiction and
mystery collections alike.
Return to Index
The Hero Rule
979-8-9879233-1-3 $16.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
As The Hero Rule
opens, lawyer Duncan Pheiffer has just seen his client convicted of
murder. Now the client faces a death sentence, and despite all the
arguments, Duncan truly that believes Charlie Calvin Clements is
he's just let him down by losing the case.
Duncan's pursuit of justice above and beyond the
leads him into an unlikely personal and professional association with
prosecutor Barclay Griffith, who embodies the Hero
Rule ("doing the right thing
for the right reason").
As lies, deceit, and dangerous truths evolve,
himself on a mission that goes beyond seeking and proving the truth,
into considerations of how justice is defined and enacted. And this may
unfold in ways Duncan has been trained to believe in.
Brandon Hughes creates a fine intersection between
and moral and ethical inspection as Barclay navigates dangerous
redefines justice, heroism, and how far he should go to pursue both.
The characters and their motivations are nicely
with the moral and ethical situations which drive the plot beyond
crime and punishment, creating not just one, but a set of solid,
characters and special interests that draw readers on different levels.
It's rare to see a crime thriller embrace moral and
questions so thoroughly, but as unpredictable events lead to outcomes
seasoned readers might not see coming, the story embraces a
that gives it depth in both literary and psychological circles.
Libraries and readers seeking a compelling crime
that's all the stronger for its author's personal experiences within
criminal justice system will find The
Hero Rule not only intriguing, but thought-provoking and
worthy of debate
among book club readers interested in crime and thriller stories that
new definitions of justice and fresh realizations about its underlying
influences and costs.
Return to Index
If Only Truman Were
William F. Crandell
978-1-957224-16-9 $15.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
If Only Truman Were Dead
is the second book in the Jack Griffith
Detective series, continuing the same gritty exploration of a bygone
milieu from the eyes of a streetwise detective newly returned from war.
Jack finds that
almost everything has changed—but some things never do. The Washington,
knew is seedier, yet will feel familiar to modern audiences: "Washington in 1948 was a different
planet. The squalid Southern town I’d left behind to fight in Europe
a squalid Southern city. Sex,
cabs, booze and life were still cheap because Congress ran D.C. as a
trail of corpses that immerse Jack in another series
of investigative quandaries and challenges has not yet begun— but it's
threshold as his month starts off with an unusual case.
makes If Only Truman Were
Dead stand out from the
beginning is an observational
first-person style that is candid, revealing, and sometimes startling
ability to deliver punches via succinct first-person impressions of
for actions and hard choices: "Somebody
hired Harry to handle the ransom demand for a young boy who’d been
Harry botched it, and nowadays he drank his form of pain medicine neat.
kidnapper got what was coming to him. Luckily for my
sanity, I was off shooting Germans at the time."
second wife's concern that her rich husband is falling
prey to alluring and clever young ladies introduces a series of events
lead far from an easy probe into a wife's worries, entering political
that once again challenge Jack's ability to survive the layers of
uncovers in high-level social and political circles.
atmosphere, and quandaries are spot-on and absorbing, often pairing
observations with surprising conclusions:
"Cissy Patterson held the
commanding heights of the marble
staircase in a hunter green dress cut injudiciously low. She must have
sixty or so. What had clearly once been engrossing breasts had turned
You could see from her eyes and her nostrils she had too much money and
some of it on cocaine. If your ears worked, you also knew Cissy drank
I liked her right away."
Between the noir
atmosphere of a sultry mystery, the satisfying questions and twists
Jack immersed in a strange new world he once knew well but now is
familiar with, and the evolving events that portend more threats than
anticipated, If Only Truman Were Dead
commands the kind of riveting attention that can only come from
writing that extends the story's interest from detective readers to
As dames, dolls, and
the dead coalesce, If Only Truman Were
Dead comes alive with dilemmas spiced with descriptions that
supercharged with psychological and mystery surprises: "Maybe
part of a siren’s allure goes beyond sex appeal—a puzzle
loaned bewitchment to Aileen’s allure."
If only one mystery
were chosen by genre detective readers to try to lure
friends into the fold, it should be If
Only Truman Were Dead. Mystery and history entwine in a
backdrop in which
politics and motivation are powerfully engaged.
characterization, atmosphere, and intrigue will prove draws to anyone
appreciates a rollicking good romp through nefarious motivations and
making If Only Truman Were Dead
highly recommended for libraries and book clubs seeking solidly
that conclude with a political bombshell.
Return to Index
is the story of a woman both on the run and investigating those who are
invested in keeping their lives secret, injecting its tale with
components. It also covers the special challenge of returning home, as
Bell returns to Livingsky, Saskatchewan to open her own PI business and
over financially and professionally.
Her first case
involves an arson investigation that quickly grows into a series of
to test her analytical prowess and personal boundaries.
The story opens not
with Merry, but with fellow PI Nathan Sharpe's surprise late-night
roommate, Julia Turner. Nathan would do anything for Merry, but the
delivers isn't something to help Merry, but implicates her in a murder
tests Nathan's resolve and convictions about Merry's character.
In short order, Merry's desire to return home to
and open a branch of Sharpe Investigations challenges Nathan to either
and support her or contest her reasons for leaving Vancouver, a city
for the relative backwoods of Livingsky.
His decision to support her leads Merry on a
through the undercurrents of Saskatchewan, which are revealed to
Merry's case leads her through unexpected routes of discovery in both
issues and crime:
"Within the invisible but
boundaries of Alphabet City, where Merry was soon to take up residence,
widely known that the poor, the underprivileged, the disenfranchised,
routinely taken advantage of. Merry herself had just begun to
bitter taste of that same sour candy. Unable to afford reasonable
quarters, subsisting on cheap wine and day-old doughnuts, unsure where
dollar was coming from, it was a tough life, all at the mercy of a
not-so-underground economy that exploited those who lived it."
Anthony Bidulka's attention to drawing out the
between perp and investigator, focusing on Merry Bell's dual roles,
an especially intriguing story that moves between the big city affairs
Vancouver and its small-town mirror, Livingsky.
As Merry's probes lead others to question their own
and complacency in criminal matters, so the noose around her tightens,
Bidulka excels in contrasting matters of the heart
investigative mysteries, and this will especially intrigue mystery
readers who look for stories and settings beyond a simple whodunit.
Some characters look for reasons not to go home. Others, such as Merry, find that their home is not all they'd thought. Undercurrents of the LGBTQ+ community enter the bigger picture to add further intrigue and unexpected insights to the plot.
As Merry navigates these emotional secrets, she
that "The decision to return to
Livingsky had made Merry’s life cheaper, but definitely not simpler."
Libraries and readers interested in a mystery
goes beyond obvious patterns of problem-solving to delve into matters
and cultural transformation will find Livingsky
vividly portrayed, layered with different kinds of tension, and hard to
Return to Index
Showdown gives thriller readers a run for their money as it
lifeguard Jeff Walker’s pursuit of his father's murderer, only to wind
in a deadly smuggling situation.
lifeguard Tony Park follows him into danger, and
the two work with more seasoned law enforcement figures, but Jeff's
thwarts even the experts and lands him in a scenario akin to that which
his father's life.
is sweet ... but not when it turns into an
explosive confrontation that ignites his friend Park's post-military
lands Jeff in a situation that could cost more than his life.
Weill's thriller features nonstop action and
twists designed to challenge and intrigue even the most seasoned
reader's anticipation of what comes next. The story winds through
cultures, layers of crime, and the pursuit of justice with deft
accidents, cries for help, Walker's determination to journey to
kill a man for the first time in his life, and Park's participation in
dangerous cat-and-mouse scenario in which the victim becomes the
the good guy teeters on the edge of becoming the perp.
juxtaposition of identities, special interests, and
fluid intentions contributes an element of intrigue and surprise
plot. These create a constantly shifting foundation of discovery and an
atmosphere that defies pat problem-solving or quick solutions.
readers seeking elements of nonstop adventure
and action in their stories will find The
Mazatlan Showdown spiced with just the right degree of
development, social and political entanglements, and questions about
and redemption that pair bigger-picture thinking with motives for
and book club discussion groups will find The
Mazatlan Showdown just the ticket
for a journey into other worlds that evolve from tragic memories and
that test physical and mental agility alike. Its action and psychology
simply superb, driving a story that proves riveting, thought-provoking,
hard to put down or predict.
Return to Index
Soul Source Press
978-1-960562-00-5 Print $14.99 ebook $4.99
Nicholas Eternal, the
first in The Wayward Saviors series, reflects one man's choice in
purpose as he enjoys eternal life on Earth and hones his special gift:
missing children. When homeless shelter manager Noory Abramson stumbles
on Nick grieving over a young girl's demise in an Atlanta alley, she at
suspects him of foul play and evil. In fact, Noory may just have fallen
the perfect man for the job of locating a missing fifteen-year-old.
willingness to help draws him into danger, however, when he discovers
Noory may not be all she seems. Their search for answers and the
proves to be an equally powerful quest for Nick's own soul and future
Kim Conrey crafts a thought-provoking draw in a
operates as a thriller, a paranormal exploration, and a spiritual and
philosophical quest. It reveals additional layers of intrigue as Nick
come closer to shocking revelations about not just the missing, but
believe themselves to be on a mission.
The technology of solving crimes through DNA winds
into the paranormal realities Nick has experienced both from his
life and the special abilities he is either blessed or cursed with.
Conrey crafts a mystery that overlays deeper
heart and soul. This technique draws readers on many levels as they
into branches of thought and reactions he's never before experienced in
time of recognizing his abilities and moving through human affairs.
Romance would seem impossible in this scenario,
given the agenda of an entity willing to promise utopia in exchange for
will. These issues will especially attract book club readers looking
stories that promise lively debates and discussions about good, evil,
underlying forces affecting choice.
Nick is a likeable character in whom wisdom comes
from age and experience, but new relationships and revised perceptions
world he thought he knew well. His resistance of yet another lure to
missing involves him in lives he can't walk away from, but his higher
is apparently much loftier.
Libraries and readers drawn to paranormal mysteries
unfold deeper layers of philosophical and life inspection will welcome
intrigue, relationship developments, and bigger-picture questions Nicholas
Eternal evolves. It crafts
satisfying twists and turns, possibilities readers might not see
confrontations that test the boundaries of good and evil intentions.
is a story that is fresh, original, and thoroughly compelling in the
transcending definitions of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, or
Return to Index
Teresa Burrell and L.J. Sellers
Silent Thunder Publishing
978-1-938680-40-3 $14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
readers seeking a story that incorporates unusual relationships between
on either side of justice will find No
Consent a satisfying study in contrasts. It unites the forces
Attorney Clara Hitchens ("Hitch"), who is facing the possibility of a
corrupt boss, and newly released jail inmate Nate Conner, whose new
locating his missing sister while fending off a bully's demands for
Conner taps Hitch to
help him, but when he's implicated in a murder case, she has her hands
more than one front. Hitch also harbors too many doubts about what is
going on, suspecting she might be aiding and abetting what is possibly
wrong side in the pursuit for justice.
Part of the
attraction in No Consent lies in
constantly-shifting alliances and situations that test Conner's ability
out of trouble and Hitch's ability to identify the real perps in her
Teresa Burrell and L.J. Sellers excel in action-packed scenarios that
moment Conner steps out of jail to confront his past and the grave
made in getting involved with a scammer.
When he is rescued
from this confrontation by his other sister, Conner comes to learn that
baby sister, who has been in and out of trouble for years, has actually
missing for months. This sends him on a mission before he's even
his revised role in society, immersing readers in the specter of a
released inmate who once again finds himself skirting the edges of the
Burrell and Sellers
navigate a thin line that moves among informants, accusations, social
possibilities, and fresh issues with practiced agility. The story
excels in the
ebbs and flows of a tension that stems not just from discovery, but
inspection: "She would do her best
to make Heather look … more wholesome? Meaning less slutty. Hitch hated
As No Consent
evolves its multifaceted
plot, readers receive a tale steeped in ironic twists, circumstances
ideas of political correctness, and setups which reveal to Connor
possibilities about his missing sister's life.
mire Conner deeper in legal entanglements and threats as his little
tunnels into hiding and Hitch is thwarted by a successful corruption
that turns her trial into a travesty.
development, action, and tension are well developed, creating a
story that rests as much on the individual challenges to Conner and
Hitch as on
their conjoined purposes.
Light references to a
budding friendship that could turn into something else pepper the story
future development, but the foundations of intrigue and proactive
drive each character in No Consent
lay a firm foundation of adventure that thriller readers will relish.
Libraries and readers
seeking a story that navigates political, social, and legal circles to
challenge its two main characters' perceptions and roles will find No Consent action-packed, vivid, and
hard to put down.
Return to Index
Detective's Last Case
Swallow Tail Press
9780999756471 $13.95 paper/$2.99 ebook
The Philosophical Detective's Last Case
adds to and completes the
trilogy of detective experiences of narrator Nick Martin, demonstrating
ability to stand on its own strengths with no prior introduction to the
required for newcomers.
the confession that its narrator resides in a memory care center, where
"caretakers" who are charged with maintaining him. Nick cultivates a
minor form of rebellion against his newly managed life. His keepers "...care for my memory as the gardener
cares for the lawn, by saturating it with poisons and eradicating
sprouts up unexpectedly. Their mission is to make me remember what they
ought to remember." But Nick admits that "My
secret revenge is to remember only the things I want
is also a defiant statement as he spends "my
endless days and nights sifting through lost time for fragments of what
made my life worth living."
fictional associations with "great
Argentinian poet and fabulist Jorge Luis Borges" provides a
treasure trove of experiences which fueled prior books and appears
early on in
this one to cement the presence of mysteries and conundrums that appear
literary and physical milieus alike.
“The fundamental mysteries of nature aren’t the
kind a detective tries
to solve,” Nick protests to Borges. But as he is drawn to
giant's world and finds himself on yet another philosophical mystery
readers will discover that the underlying inquiries that power this
every bit as intriguing as the detective's foray into unfamiliar
continues the concurrent themes of philosophical inspection that
roots of investigations and the definition of mysteries as unique to
reasoning: “The detective is to a mystery
what the observer was to Schrödinger’s cat,” Borges said. “Unless he’s
looking—and asking—there isn’t any mystery.”
especially, who enjoy the intersection of philosophical examination and
intrigue will find that both evolve in attractive, engrossing manners
and Nick explore matters of fate, time, and the methods and outcomes of
arrogant fools. The threads of humor that consistently run throughout
line add a fine dimension of laughter that is unexpectedly delightful
fate to predictions that lead the characters to consider the underlying
and presence of what is likely their last case, Hartman creates a
thought-provoking series of events and character interactions with
that transcends the usual approach of a detective piece to enter into
of philosophical debates and reflection:
"He liked to say that he could see through the veil
into the essence of things. But in this, his last case as a detective,
perception had been spectacularly wrong. His ideal woman’s
to his clouded eyes—was an accurate reflection of her depraved heart."
powerfully rendered 'Philosophical Detective' story that (perhaps
efficiently) concludes Borges and Nick's associations, giving the
more to think about regarding the hearts and minds of humanity than a
whodunit alone. Between the story's compelling evolution, its
whimsical character interactions and jokes, and its unexpected
between philosophy and mystery, the result is quite simply a delight
standout in the mystery genre's usually-staid world.
looking for literary blends of philosophy and mystery, cemented by
thought-provoking interludes and action that embraces a wide cast of
and possible outcomes, will find The
Philosophical Detective's Last Case a unique and delightful
Return to Index
New View Literature
978-1-941-603-12-3 $15.95 Paper/$.99 Kindle
Protective Instincts is the 24th book in
Reunion---Wisdom of the Ancestors series and the fifth episode in the
Kids Saga, and opens with nineteen-year-old Professor Dena Montgomery's
involvement in the abduction of two children whom she encounters on her
home from work.
confrontation leaves a dead man and two traumatized young children in
hands, sparking her protective instincts towards the kids even as an
investigation of these circumstances reveals political complications
unexpected air of romance that threaten to change her life.
extraordinary young woman in any definition of the term, but her many
are tested as the story unfolds to connect her with young, handsome
police investigator Darrius Pappas and the complicated case he has been
As he probes Dena's life and discovers that she is even more mysterious
initial circumstances indicate, Darrius becomes immersed in global
affairs far beyond his experience and calling.
learn more about Dena's large family and their connections as the story
unfolds, leading into a second murder that brings new revelations into
entanglements that result in invasions of privacy and boundaries alike.
skilled at carrying the microcosm of a kidnapping into bigger-picture
powering it with an evolving relationship that doesn't go where readers
it will and including the examinations and circumstances that bring
extraordinary characters to the stars.
seeking a focus on mystery, relationship developments, intrigue, and a
futuristic mission will find Protective
Instincts a powerhouse of a read that specializes in
developments which immerse readers in extraordinary family developments
Return to Index
The Tree of
Daniel G. Miller
978-1737646334 $14.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
The Tree of Life, the third book in the
Tree of Knowledge series,
opens with the specter of Eva Fix hiding in a cold, windowless
detonator in hand. This prologue sets the stage for a story laced with
and mystery as Princeton math professor Albert's discovery of the Tree
Knowledge is threatened by an insurgent movement that also knows the
changing the future, and desires to get their hands on it for their own
stop such a force, so Albert taps the power of a secretive global
dedicated to toppling tyrants around the world—only to find that his
association with a different kind of devil brings with it new
challenges to his
moral and ethical position.
discovery first lead him to become a terrorist, and how can he fight
the forces of a new world order which defy his own integrity and lead
question whether he's chosen the right side?
creates a steady-paced, action-packed story that juxtaposes moments of
spiritual and social revelation with philosophical and ethical
test readers' minds and their affinity for Albert's cause.
association with the Sword of Eden movement to Albert's journeys that
to feel "...he had been transported
to an alien planet that was mimicking an American suburb,"
edgy changes keep readers changing their minds and alliances during a
fast-paced technothriller embedded with Christian revelations and
seeking stories that operate on different levels of social, political,
spiritual inspection will find that while The
Tree of Life can stand nicely on its own, it works best in
the other books in the trilogy. It develops the characters further,
moving the story
into different directions to expand its social and political movements
adventurous twists and turns. These make the outcome completely
and the story hard to put down.
Return to Index
Richard D. Lentz
978-1959770183 $18.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Accidental Journey is a novel about a traumatic brain injury that changes the lives and relationship of a married couple struggling to preserve a formerly successful marriage. Jeff and Cate have just confronted one another in hopes of forging better paths of connection when a terrible injury leaves Jeff altered, lacking insight, and unable to function effectively as a father and partner.
Plenty of nonfiction discussions of traumatic brain injury have reviewed its science and experience, but learning about these issues and challenges in a fictional story provides unique access to understanding how a brain injury affects everyone involved, creating especially riveting reading.
Cate assumes many of the jobs Jeff performed in their lives and has to serve as the primary breadwinner while keeping a thriving career and her family together, and finding a way to meet her emotional needs in a marriage she had questioned to a man she would not and could not leave.
Richard D. Lentz explores their conjoined journey with the expertise of his work as a physician, well aware of the complex effects of brain injury on family life. Lentz builds his story on family relationships not just between the challenged couple, but the kids and the entire family, with interactions realistically woven into a plot in which the special challenges of a family world altered by a brain injury are revealed: "He looked good physically—normal— but that proved to be a double-edged sword. People engaged him and expected a normal response."
The story educates readers about not just physical recovery, but the emotional components of facing a brain injury's personality- and life-altering demands.
Libraries and readers seeking fiction about healing that reveals the process on many levels will find Accidental Journey revealing and emotionally astute. It makes for a story that will ideally be pursued in book club reading groups, and by those interested in brain injury, healing, and family relationships.
Its vivid portrait of the
frustrations that come with brain
injury makes Accidental
Journey a compelling
story that's hard
to put down and easy to understand.
Return to Index
Barnaby Shea opens with an evening walk
between husband and wife
and a reflection on a peaceful time. In thirty years of marriage, the
cultivated routines that embrace both. Their quiet life is shaken when
and accusations from the past embroil ex-priest Barnaby Shea in
he'd thought were long laid to rest.
this novel for its social and legal conundrums or the mystery
Barnaby Shea's actions and choices will find the story replete in
As events of
are reflected upon and their impact on the future considered, readers
prompted to experience and relish not only Barnaby's latest challenges,
presence and impact of church affairs in small community relationships
a vivid picture that moves from a slowly satisfying life to one beset
turbulence and adversity. The specter of self-incrimination that
Hobson, ex-priest Barnaby, and the legal forces that pursue the truth
resolution creates a story replete with revelations that emerge to both
and tarnish reputations and connections.
What is the
motivation for causing pain, accusing the innocent, or harboring a
dangerous that it's worth killing for?
wider landscapes of social connections and issues from the perspectives
those motivated to lie, hide, or repress the truth. As two couples
embroiled in a mystery that holds well-hidden motivations and secrets,
also reconsider the foundations of the community which supports them.
forgiveness is at stake as Barnaby tackles the roots of sin and
“Forgiveness can often be selfish, John. Often we
forgive not to help
the offender in any way but to help ourselves. Forgiveness is the only
can move forward. If we are unable to forgive, we live forever with the
with the grief, with hatred in our hearts. The forgiveness is for us.”
thought-provoking consideration of church and community that opens with
paths and concludes with new possibilities.
seeking novels that embrace mystery and discoveries that impart both
and bigger picture realizations will find Barnaby
Shea an attractive journey into the pulse and power of past
Return to Index
The Boys and
In The Boys and Girls of America, only
fifteen percent of applicants get into the dream college Edsen. Like so
before him, James Castle has similar big dreams, but fails to make the
years later, his perseverance pays off when he becomes the college's
writer-in-residence, producing a magnum opus that cements his prowess
author while exposing family secrets and skeletons which should better
been left in the closet.
comes adversity, because these newly released secrets which dovetail
with his literary
success ironically threaten his achievement when a too-savvy stranger
expose the real roots of his novel's themes and strength.
dicey relationships with women and men, he begins to fall into the
adult situations and realizations that are the hallmark of maturity.
captures the moments of this evolving life with an intimacy and
detail that brings James's experiences to life:
"I guess I sort of lost myself for a bit. What I
realizing it, was start singing along to the music that was playing. It
song by The Police, called “Message in a Bottle.” Anyway, I always
song, and I just sat there in the middle of traffic singing along,
entirely that Marnie was even there. Midway through the song, Marnie
laughing. Really laughing—hysterically
even. I mean, it was one of those joyous laughs that are pure and
kinds of laughs that are a long time in coming, and make everyone
distance break out into uncontrollable laughter too."
Part of the
The Boys and Girls of America lies
the moments it captures as James falls hard for Marnie, only to realize
her special brand of strange passion has permitted him entry into an
hellscape in which he finds his ambitions and perceptions constantly
"torched heat of East Coast summer" to equally emotionally sizzling
encounters James never expected from school or success, Gould paints a
compelling portrait of a young man under siege in more than one way.
This time is
"furious balancing" of past, present, and possible futures that James
navigates with precision and growing uncertainties about his choices.
looking for a vivid story of a new adult who teeters on the cusp of
his longed-for recognition produces unexpected (and unwelcome) results
find The Boys and Girls of America rich
in its portrait of a dream gone awry and the transformations that
emerge from it.
Steeped in a
culture and the songs of the times, James's terrible summer brings with
series of evocative, thought-provoking revelations that make The Boys and Girls of America a strong
recommendation for book clubs looking for powerful stories of
successes, failures, and the secrets that can blossom to unfold around
Return to Index
But Do You Love Me With Locura?
But Do You Love Me With
Locura? questions family loyalties and a sense of place as it
explores a blossoming relationship between American Rosie Logan, who is
an immersive Spanish language and culture experience in Mexico, and
Ramón Villaseñor, whose role as the cynical but caring director of an
impoverished pueblo clinic has dealt him a hand at once filled with
The locura ("Passionate
enthusiasm; madness") that develops between them reawakens
character's drive for something better than they are as they become
one another's missions and are changed by the revelations of people
First-person narrator Rosie brings this milieu to
her interests dovetail with the good doctor's underlying romantic sense
influence on her research.
When the time comes to say goodbye, Rosie and Juan
find their connections have galvanized new purposes and created new
realizations about their separate goals and conjoined attraction.
They are from two very different worlds. Will their
intersection be a temporary one of discovery, or can they merge these
interests to forge new pathways of healing and growth?
Sharon Steeber steeps her story in memorable
realization that bring Mexican culture to life. Her portraits of two
who don't realize they are on the cusp of change make for compelling
intersections of purpose and perspective as Rosie and Juan Ramón revise
ambitions and ideals of life.
The novel is replete with moments of stark
impart many thought-provoking gifts to readers:
is madness. Craziness. Losing your mind. Losing control.”
“We can shape the kind of life we want. Go where we want. What’s so crazy about that?”
Libraries and readers seeking multicultural stories
romance, career, and sea changes in life will appreciate the threads of
connection and realization which make But
Do You Love Me With Locura? an exceptional story of a journey
out in territory unfamiliar to Mexican visitor and resident alike.
The rich realizations that power this story will
good food for thought for book clubs, as well:
"I was like a bird
pivoting on the edge
of its wing in the air current, going as high as the drafts lifted it.
soaring on the edge, in control and out of control at the same time,
current. Just as suddenly I was plummeting. He was right. It was locura to think we could pluck the
life we might want right out of the sky and live it."
Return to Index
Cry of the Soul
Ruby Jean Jensen
Gayle J. Foster, Publisher
$29.99 Hardcover/$11.99 Paperback/$8.99 ebook
of the Soul
opens with a young girl's encounter with a mysterious stranger on a
then segues neatly into a future in which sixty-five-year-old Maggie
(a.k.a. Emily Alexander) enters the Willowbrook Care Center to
a broken hip.
The secrets she hides from
the world are ones she also
grapples with in her own heart as she cautiously makes friends,
the home's atmosphere, but looks forward to resuming her quiet life,
easier to keep secrets close to the heart. What evolves, however, is a
inspection into her choices, life purpose, and past.
Ruby Jean Jensen creates a
thought-provoking story in
which the aging protagonist is forced to reconsider some of the
factors of her life, as well as the questions that drive ordinary and
extraordinary events and encounters.
happen that most were chosen but a few, like herself, were not?"
As readers become privy to
Emily's reflections, her life
becomes a springboard of missed connections, opportunities, and choices
come home to roost in strange ways in her future: "A
flicker of doubt entered her heart. A strange feeling that she
was not meant to have that connection to life. She didn't understand.
prayed for understanding, for a purpose, and received no answer. God
The spiritual quest and
musings which lie behind and
beyond her life's events and unpredictable twists and turns receive
inspection and enlightenment in a story that weaves through threats,
and choices to hide in anonymity that become shaken by dependence on
Ruby Jean Jensen weaves
issues of love, growth,
spirituality, and revelation into a hard-hitting review of one woman's
that journeys into intrigue, danger, and life purposes with equal
Mystery and intellectual
inspections are woven together
with a compelling story that isn't fully revealed until the end, when
about Emily/Maggie's life comes to light. The result is a compelling
life, truth, and steps that lead the protagonist to constantly miss
the real purpose of life.
Or, does she succeed?
Libraries and readers
seeking multifaceted stories that
resonate on different levels of spiritual and psychological inspection
find Cry of the Soul
thought-provoking, captivating, and steeped in a life rocked by
and metaphysical possibilities.
Return to Index
$32.99 Hardcover/$10.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Road is a novel that
follows the Jackson family's
rich, unconventional journey through life, in which a sudden uprooting
is sparked by eccentric Aunt Beaners' Ouija board messages.
Cimarron (Simmy) Jackson's journal begins the story in 1960 with the young teen's account of how her aunt's prediction of another impending holocaust unwittingly drives her family straight to a doomed rural town near Park City where an irrepressible and hilarious ranch hand becomes their life guide.
Simmy and her younger brother, Lefty, find the impulsive family decision intriguing without knowing the underlying reason for this sudden move, an act motivated not only by Beaners' capricious predictions but also by the hidden truths behind secret lives.
As rich in Utah history as in its characters, Enduv Road is a generational study in contrasts that juxtaposes perspectives, experiences, honesty and lies. As Simmy and Lefty reach adulthood, this heart-warming saga creates a detailed and engrossing portrait of colorful and disparate family members that draws readers through excellent character development and the surprising twists that emerge from these contrasts in lives and realities.
Gwen Banta holds the uncommon ability to follow the evolution of family relationships in a manner that is at once eye-opening and compassionate. The revelations that rock the younger generations, whose history of their roots proves flawed, makes for thought-provoking introspection as the wise and lovable family members encounter changes in life and in each other:
"My father just accepted the craziness because he knew that Arty and Beaners, who was my mom's older sister, had huge hearts, even though he would often wink and refer to them as the 'Hoover Twins' due to the 'big vacuum on their top floors.'"
Underlying themes of tolerance, discovery, and growth accompany this journey through intergenerational experiences as Enduv Road unfolds generous humor in its dialogues and life examinations:
heard all the tales,” Simmy told Lefty in private, “and you really
up that kind of stuff. But he amuses me. There are so many people in
it's always a party.”
“Sure, we all get it, Sim. But a person could have a better conversation with fungus.”
“I know, Lefty, but every now and then, we hit on a topic on which he is surprisingly entertaining—from historical battles to random works of art and literature.”
“Rick can read?”
The result is a study in unforgettable characters whose lives are touched by love, truth, and a purpose to "squeeze the day" against all odds, shaping and maintaining the family and life connections that bring the characters full circle to present day and into new realities and revised ways of living.
Libraries and readers seeking an evocative,
intergenerational story packed with whimsical personalities and
revelations will find Enduv Road a
glorious journey well
Return to Index
The Final Eight Seconds
The Final Eight Seconds is a story of faith, luck, and new forays into belief which opens with the specter of a rodeo cowboy: "Some rodeo cowboys prepared for their event with a short prayer to whatever deity they believed in. Not Joey. He’d stopped praying years ago."
Joey's lack of faith in God comes home to test him
unexpected way when he is thrown and injured, then is visited by an
informs him that his heavenly fate will be decided by events that have
place in his life.
The only trouble is that Joey is well aware that
will be found lacking if it's that closely examined. As he relives his
and their ultimate impact, readers receive a fine first-person journey
connects faith, belief, and the ultimate consequences and cost of good
decisions at life's end.
Olivia Godat's inspection will especially appeal to
Christian readers interested in the special style of self-discovery
propels Joey to reconsider his persona, actions, and what he really
"In my truck, I sat
slumped over the
steering wheel. Here I was, all dressed up like something that I
expensive boots didn’t make me a cowboy. My pearl-gray Stetson didn’t
make me a
cowboy. If I wanted to be a cowboy, then I had to learn the cowboy
that moment, I hadn’t even known that’s what I wanted."
Readers who enjoy stories about cowboy ways will
unusual the intersection of a cowhand's training and lifestyle with the
spiritual component that drives this cowboy's self-examination and
into belief and motivation.
This cowboy has been thrown from broncs many times,
knows how to not get hurt. What he doesn't know is how to make his life
effective and in sync with others: "I
should have been man enough to forget my failings and think of Margene.
asked her how she felt, only presumed. I mourned for our lost time
to my selfishness."
This story of growth and realization will appeal to
range of readers, from those who enjoy stories of men who come to
admit their faults and new opportunities for change to spiritual
interested in a tale of redemption.
Libraries and readers seeking a thought-provoking
that goes beyond the trappings of cowboy culture to delve into the
realms of lives well or badly lived will find The
Final Eight Seconds a powerful test of individual faith and
revised realizations about the course and importance of his "shiny cobweb, his lifeline."
Return to Index
979-8840621165 $16.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Germany and its
lasting legacy on the 1970s and GI Patrick Walden, who does his tour of
the country and discovers love and new challenges in his military
the ongoing impact of the Nazi era, comes to life in German
a love story, a coming-of-age tale, winding the account of Germany's
and ongoing impact and legacy into a story that sparkles with depth and
insights as Patrick unwittingly enters into personal and political
beyond his experience.
encounters with succinct dialogue that capture the character and nature
world: “What’s it like here?” “It’s
fucked up.” He leads readers through a Germany still divided
by both its
past and the threat of Russian invasion as he follows Patrick's mission
behind the Iron Curtain to retrieve a missing work of art that has
new lover Sieglinde with the possibilities it holds for healing Germany.
mission, however, circles around matters of the heart as well as the
a war that has never really left Germany's borders.
allure of Tannhauser comes to life and leads each character to step
their comfort zone to effect return, readers receive a powerful
German psyche and history that moves from World War II events to
over unresolved issues.
The price of
returning Tannhauser to its home may ultimately cost everything Patrick
newly envisioned for building a life in this strange new world.
powerful blend of intrigue, historical fiction, love story, and
observation in German Days, which
supplements action with the psychological profiles and developments of
characters who are all influenced by the ghosts of World War II—whether
know it or not.
reflections makes German Days a
strong recommendation not just for library acquisition, but for book
reading group debate over modern German culture and life in the shadow
of a war
that ended over fifty years ago, but still holds influence today.
Return to Index
Aria Tyger Inc.
978-0692534007 $21.95 Hardcover/$15.99 Paper
Ghost Runners is a novel based on real
events which give the story
the ringing tone of reality as the fictional characters (including
Olympic sports figures) face not just sports ambitions, but racism and
prejudice which permeates their past, present, and future worlds.
Olympic team's American running competitors in 1936, the story winds
Jewish, German, and American encounters on the playing field of sports
prejudice as athletes, coaches, and observers find their lives and
challenged by shifting social and political tides.
builds a captivating story that swaggers with nationalist sentiments,
scintillates with new possibilities for achievement and identity, and
perceptions and efforts of men like Adolf Eichmann, who "...wanted
only to sweep the Jews away."
become the tertiary playing field of businessmen, financiers,
major players, readers are immersed in a story of American, German, and
encounters which represent the building blocks of a growing prejudice
destined to effect changes behind the scenes. Such is Joshua, who is "...going to race invisibly. He was
going to move everyone along. He was a ghost runner now."
As the novel
hard-hitting scenarios of the athletes who represent the "...glory
and the dash men who ran like gods down from
Olympus," it excels in a powerful voice that contrasts ethnic
perceptions, experiences, and the rise of power in all strata of
Ghost Runners should be in any library
strong in fiction that
examines Hitler's Final Solution and its compelling evolution through
levels of life in Europe and America. Ideally, it also will receive
and debate in book clubs devoted to stellar works that explore and
time when the circles of hate closed around the Jewish people, leaving
with no place to hide and too many reasons to run.
Ghost Runners offers an important lesson
for modern times, charting
the rise of an era in which "Soon,
he’d know all the names of the Jews. 'Yes, it was possible not just in
In a little more time, you can begin cataloging all of Europe.'”
follows the world—which is why readers need the reminders and insights
in Ghost Runners to keep the
at bay, now more than ever.
Return to Index
978-1948598651 $21.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Glassman is a
self-taught twenty-five-year-old whose eclectic educational pursuits
in a generalist's education, a literary jack-of-all-reading knowledge,
various light addictions which mitigate the impact of his intellect.
falls in love
with Teresa Devlin, he finds himself unexpectedly terrified about his
sexual savvy, and so he begins to pursue his more accessible, safer
Sarah—only to find himself in a dangerous emotional game as his
entangle and become angst-ridden and complicated.
thing to do. Run for it.
In too many
Glassman has never really grown up. From his adult interactions with
parents, which mimic the whining self-absorption of childhood, to his
insistence that life goes his way or it's the highway, Glassman
intellectual and emotional dichotomy.
not only his delayed adulthood, but patterns of approaching life and
he's absorbed from his divorced parents: "In
addition to my refusal to rent a carpet cleaner, the ingrained
frugality of my
father found its way into the schedule I devised for going to the
laundromat. This schedule was constructed upon the necessity of making
or five hand-me-down towels last as long as my two bed sheets."
Glassman's life through his first-person experiences and reflections,
realize that they, too, have known many an adult like him. But, here,
psychology explaining his actions, logic, and disparities in dealing
provides succinct, hard-hitting insights that make Glassman both a
like and one that also exists on the edge of condemnation.
relationships that lead him to procrastinate over important decisions
finding work) to his naivety in dealing with women and life, Glassman represents a self-inspection
of flawed logic that works to sometimes support and sometimes
Glassman's desires and ambitions.
embrace both unemployment and flight lend a realistic feel to the story
character continually confused about the world around him, the psyches
and men, and the love and hate that swirls around a divorce he never
to view life through the eyes of a character both eminently likeable
flawed leads readers into a whirlwind of a life that always teeters on
brink of breakdown and disaster, yet represents a resiliency that comes
the same disruptive forces of childhood experience.
Glassman is a coming-of-age story (even
though the character is
well into his twenties) that follows a new adult's journey into
adulthood, in whatever form that might assume for a damaged soul.
comes to life through his inquiries, fears, and realistic methods of
embracing and rejecting set courses in life based on his past. This
thought-provoking insights into the maturity process as, now an adult,
reconsiders his motivations and fears.
seeking stories of evolution and growth will find Glassman
a classic in its approach to revealing transition points
and influences, whether they reside in family history and current
or new, frightening, and ultimately uplifting opportunities for change.
Return to Index
$25.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Golddigger: The Legendary Nellie Cashman is a historical novel about a literal golddigger of the past, Nellie Cashman, whose exploits were driven by a lust for gold in an era when gold fever and the specter of Alaskan riches had struck the nation.
opens with the ring of revelation and the convincing reality of a
whose life in 1924 was filled with action and achievement: "I am a woman with a reputation. I’m an angel,
maybe even a saint.
That’s what the newspapers say, and don’t we always believe what those
self-proclaimed savants tell us?"
Cashman reflects on the
nature of this journey at the end of her life, readers receive a vivid
that blends the history of the times with the ambitions, perspective,
driving desires of a woman who stepped out of her predictable role to
make a name
for herself as an extraordinary individual.
From the gold fever which sent
her journeying to her unexpected task of caring for her dead sister's
which threatens to tamp any sense of adventure and wanderlust, Golddigger not only brings these times
to life, but reflects a vibrant sense of the times and the motivations
drove people to perform extraordinary feats.
Kathleen Morris is especially adept at juxtaposing
insights and history, presenting scenes, events, and options through
eyes in a way that brings these times and places to life:
"I stayed on board and
clearly see the town itself was three times the size I’d remembered.
buildings, many more houses and many more people. Such was the cost of
and civilization, I supposed, but it was here I realized again that I
less of it, and felt assured for the first time that I was going in the
direction, gold or not. You’re a
restless, solitary soul, Nellie Cashman, I
thought. You must make careful choices on how you
The result is a compelling saga that captures the
of the times and the options women faced in general, which Nellie
with in particular.
and readers seeking vivid reenactments of
historical events and times will find Golddigger powered
by gold fever, adventure, and a taste for success that brings the
real riches of this world to life.
Return to Index
979-8843073480 $12.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
Guards: A Boston Novel represents a study
in humorous fiction and
revolves around Karl Augustus Poppel and other Boston personalities at
with their environment, culture, and life trajectory:
"It was morning in America, and as the Amtrak
limped into South
Station, Karl August Poppel fought the Cro-Magnons. 'It’s two dollars.'
surly bartender stared back. 'Two-fifty for the muffin and juice.'
square jaw firmed. 'As Hooker Academy graduates, we receive a discount.
about Boston since he was locked up: "...different
words slid under the door. New ones had sprouted since he’d last been
city. He hated them; swaggering towers of Cro-Magnon pride, a tribe of
and steel bullies pushing their weight around older, smaller brick and
buildings that squat like trolls."
realizations, and culture which swirls around Poppel brings Boston to
a wry "back East" sense of humor and observation that those familiar
with Bostonian attitudes will find all too familiar—and fun: "'This place is falling apart. It’s an
abortion is what it is.' Howie Leakey was the head maintenance man, and
looked like the eighth dwarf: Bitchy."
characters navigate these mean streets with an eye to moving through
and unfamiliar terrain, whether they are skyscrapers, relationships, or
shifting life objectives.
From men in
and inquests to the odd trio of illegal alien bike messenger Fiona,
guard Poppel, and alcoholic security director Mike Gilhooley, the story
an odd set of relationships that all come steeped in the dark wit and
observational style of a true Bostonian.
himself and stop being a joker? Will Gilhooley get the girl?
find their lives intersected, their special purposes challenged, and
courses of their careers and relationships challenged as the story
seeking humorous contemporary fiction that juxtaposes disparate lives
deft rhythms of a dance into irony and shifting objectives will find Guards rich in laughter,
thought-provoking inspections, and Bostonian ironic and sardonic life
Return to Index
In Case of Deceit
Plum Drive Media
979-8-9871990-2-2 $7.95 Kindle
Sarah and Nathan Wood
need to add some excitement to their committed marriage, so they return
swinging as a way of maintaining this feeling. But, things go awry as
clash, and In
Case of Deceit, this leads the two lovers
to make some hard decisions about what they really want from their
While it should be noted that this story represents
2 in the Plumdelicious Series, expanding events in the first book (In Case of Desire), newcomers need have
no prior familiarity with the setting and characters in order to
this stand-alone novel's plot.
The specter of flings
organized around family life and kids may sound impossible to many
Sarah and Nathan think they can have it all—and, until things begin to
Fiona Kolodzy takes the time to build the depth of
interactions and relationships, from cuddling time with young kids to
sexual encounters which are described both graphically and tastefully.
As parties and dates permeate their lives and are
accompanied by special challenges and time-juggling requirements,
readers get a
full-bodied taste of the swinging world and its emotional and physical
Nathan finds himself pulled into new possibilities,
has some difficult choices to make.
Readers who want a lurid and realistic exploration
couple whose sexual explorations create new emotional ties and threats
will find In Case of Deceit is as
powerful in its psychological development as it is in its exploration
of how a
swinger's milieu fits into married life (or not).
As new relationships form and new possibilities for
life are created, Kolodzy crafts a story of women's friendships, men's
pursuits, and a redefinition of marriage that tests the foundations of
kids, and commitment.
Libraries and readers looking for sultry blends of
realization, and challenges to traditional marriage values and
find In Case of Deceit packed with
thought-provoking encounters and material well suited to book club
on topics of marriage, monogamy, friendship, and the boundaries of
Return to Index
Karma Two is a story of ideals,
addiction, and a childhood that
leads to poverty and struggle as Arizona Sunshine Jacksyn (AJ) finds
survive his abuse and neglect and strives to create a better future for
story opens with a violent confrontation between Ember Elizabeth and
Leroy, moving between the first person experience and third-person
Ember's own troubled childhood and struggles.
and violence are graphically portrayed (in keeping with the story, but
may serve as trigger points for readers who keep their own demons of
chapters set the stage for a better understanding of the family legacy
foster care cruelty and street influences that impact son AJ as he
form a different life.
a candid look at the possibilities of past legacies and changing one's
matter their influences, crafting the story of a young man who is drawn
kindness and opportunity even as he struggles with studies and new
that typically rely on foundations of education and support:
"Every day he feels more and more frustrated and
ashamed at his
slow progress. Isabella tries to offer positive reinforcement, but AJ
hear it; he’s so frustrated with himself. He finds it hard to fit in
wholesome, loving environment that the Franklin’s have cultivated in
home. He just doesn’t understand it. He thought for sure he could make
transition from living on the streets to living with the Franklin’s
simmer of a
life in transition which finds no easy answers and much difficulty
story that is exceptionally realistic and compelling as AJ cements a
relationship with Isabella and new purposes by confronting his past and
a different future.
create new opportunities and avenues of success for his family, and his
gratitude for having succeeded where most fail, makes for an especially
thought-provoking story that holds much book club reading book debate
as AJ defies his legacy and creates different pathways and patterns
seeking novels graphic in their descriptions of past adversity and
new courses of action will find Karma Two
an exceptionally realistic novel of love, adversity, and transformation.
Return to Index
attracted to tales set in Tudor times will find the characters,
history, and events that play out in The
Lost Books – Romance and Adventure in Tudor Times a draw, but
surprise of this story lies in its attraction and accessibility to
well versed in this era.
descriptive paragraph, Mo Conlan sets an atmosphere and history that
winds into surprises to draw readers gently into the times and the
one woman faces in navigating the romantic and political threads of her
"When the large parcel arrived, Morwenna Goodwin
was busy in the
barn helping Da repair the sheep pen. She heard a commotion and ran to
front of their cottage, adjusting her kirtle and cap as she ran. This
fine winter day in north Cornwall, a blessing amidst so many killing
that battered England in this reign of the Tudors."
that immediately follows is just one fine example of a story in which
does not evolve on expected paths, but fully embraces the devices of
wit, and a foray into different choices than is usually portrayed by
novels depicting this era:
the doorstep, Morwenna found a pear tree. In its branches sat
a fat partridge, giving her a rather cheeky look. A scroll at the base
tree read. “I would wed ye, dear heart. H. Truelove.”
Well, isn’t that just like him? she thought. Henry Truelove must think I am going to cook up this partridge into a pie for him and make him a pear posset. Hah!"
evocative from the start, it's immediately evident that this is no
historical novel or romance, but a romp through Tudor times, culture,
expectations that involves men and women in a dance of discovery and
nefarious objectives towards wealth-building opportunities are not
Conlan's descriptive touches, which lay hands on the special interests
swirl through these times:
"As he wound down his thunderous tirade, the Abbot
made a small,
dismissive gesture of his hand and in a less wrathful tone said, 'We
Christian charity, give a tithe to holy folk turned out and beggared. I
attend to it.' He was thinking in terms of pence, not pounds."
trails of navigating "an upturned world in which popes and queens and
houses did come and go" to Mistress Morwenna's foray into danger and a
search for holy books that could change this world, Conlan creates a
of tumultuous times, political moves, social conundrums, and Henry
of illuminated manuscripts, which are destroyed when he takes over
rich monasteries and convents.
of personal and political special interests creates a vivid account of
times which is unexpectedly witty, historically enlightening, and a
read as Tom, Morwenna, Daniel, and others become immersed in the fate
books and their own souls.
in choosing historical novels for genre readers that hold the rare
reach into a wider audience will find The
Lost Books – Romance and Adventure in Tudor Times especially
its lively characters and a sense of purpose and humor that makes the
come to life in unexpected ways. Simply delightful!
Return to Index
978-1645482086 $16.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
meets romantic. What could possibly go wrong, and what connects them? My Goodbye Girl probes a love that
evolves against all odds, despite the fact that Tessa Talman and Simon
are worlds apart, both physically and mentally.
doesn't tend to work. It is said that proximity lends to deeper
but in Tessa and Simon's case, perseverance and strange attraction play
in keeping them linked even though they reside distantly and think very
appropriately, these disparate individuals first meet in an airport.
going becomes the routine of their lives, with goodbyes just as common
romantic encounter in which the characters are each successful, in
their own ideals of life, and have cause to resist the attraction that
pulling them away from their previously-set goals.
to think seriously about setting aside her freedom in favor of the kind
commitment that would eliminate the constant farewells, changes again
couple's resolve, ideals, and individual strengths.
Many "cease to be strangers and turn into
friends." Rare are those connections which become deeper when
Tessa and Simon's odd journey, they will enjoy the changing
reinforce each individual's viewpoints and passions. Simon follows
the world, but comes to resent her globe-trotting ways: "Simon
had so much going through his head. He was happy to see
her. He wanted her. He couldn’t go on like this. She kept her distance.
an idiot for showing up on impulse. Another one for the books. The Year
Simon Lost Himself."
of inspection draws important and compelling connections between
and love. The jealousies and misunderstandings which arise from the
between a jet-setting lifestyle and one which values settling down are
particularly well depicted through dialogues that pinpoint the chasms
“Can you blame me? Can you blame me for always
feeling left out? I’m
the one who keeps on having to find you!”
She really didn’t understand what she had done wrong. She traveled around the world for a living. He should know that. And be okay with it.
“You knew this was my life. You knew this is who I
am. I like to
disappear. I like to be free to come and go. It has nothing to do with
I feel about you!”
disparate lifestyles, commitment, and love drive a plot that eventually
a tragedy that further tests Simon and Tessa's values and what they
for themselves and in a relationship.
interested in stories that hold lessons about growth within and outside
passionate relationships will find My
Goodbye Girl thought-provoking, while book clubs looking for
creating and anchoring past, present, and future possibilities will
to discuss as Tessa and Simon confront seemingly impossible differences
love that grows against all odds.
Return to Index
Apprentice House Press
$18.99 Paper/$6.49 Kindle/$28.99 Hardcover
When Emilie is widowed suddenly, the last thing on
is a replacement husband. But, it's the first thing on her friend Viv's
She plays matchmaker by setting up Emilie with the handsome bachelor
There's only one problem with that notion: Colin is gay. He may not be
material for a woman—but that doesn't mean he can't become a good
Being married to Rob was fun—but Emilie finds that
time has passed her by while she was in love with him, and now she's
ignorant of everything from online opportunities to the etiquette and
of resuming dating in midlife.
Colin is the perfect guide to this unfamiliar
and so the two embark on a journey that pairs a midlife emergence with
resolution of the past and portent of future possibilities, all of
readers on different levels.
On its surface, New
Normal represents a struggle through waves of grief that
unexpected times and moments. Look deeper to find the undercurrent of
possibilities, and growth that come from new friendships and learning
ways of approaching not just love, but the world.
Even though Emilie makes mistakes, she acknowledges
parts of being married that gave her comfort by their routines and the
she and Rob built, which remains elusive in her current circumstances: “It felt so nice to be with someone—a man.
It was good to have someone to spend time with and go on dates with
movies, and stuff. It was nice to have someone to talk about life with.
I miss that the most about being married.”
Between her therapy sessions with Dr. Jeffries and
foray into a new life with different perceptions of who she is and what
wants both within and outside of a relationship, Emilie's growth will
and attract women on their own journeys towards recovery, independence,
Emilie's journey out of widowhood and into novel
realizations is realistic, compelling, and as joyful as it is
Women's book clubs, as well as readers interested
process of moving ahead from grief to living and re-envisioning life,
New Normal packed with angst and
which often coexist side by side as Emilie moves forward, sometimes
back during the process.
Libraries seeking fiction replete in women's
and growth will find New Normal an
appealing study in healing, romance, and humor that builds its strength
new relationships and difficult realizations.
Return to Index
Tell-Tale Publishing Group, LLC
Wise Words Publishing
978-1-952020-25-4 $6.95 ebook/$35.00 Hardcover
Robert Tucker, Author - Home
Robert Tucker's Paper Dolls trilogy
focuses on the high society lives and loneliness of Gwen and Tess Vanderveer, sisters
who live in a Beacon
Hill mansion in Boston in the 1930s and 40s, and whose distance from
family is as great as that of friends whose companionship doesn't
test of time.
As with the
book, The Discontent of Mary Wenger,
Tucker creates this story with an eye to capturing and exposing both
pressures and the trials and tribulations of women who rebel against
seemingly set life courses, only to find them again changed by World
Paper Dolls unfolds the drama behind Gwen
and Tess's lives and the
unexpected directions they take, but it's equally adept at exposing the
undercurrents of rebellion and defiance which lie at the heart of each
woman's decisions and flight.
revelations trace how these acts of defiance grow from small choices to
decisions, bucking societal and family pressures:
"I was never sure how they became friends in the
because Tess and I weren’t supposed to associate with “the riff raff”
hill, as our mother called them. But since she almost never paid
us, we mingled anyway. Tess said 'Mother didn’t tell us we couldn’t
we’re not associating. We’re mingling.' Although I didn’t understand
difference, Tess explained that associating meant going to parties,
did. Mingling meant doing things with friends of our own choosing."
build the story early on to form the foundation for events which
then-radical nature of each sister's changing choices and progression.
how women acted and were perceived post-war versus its aftermath is
thought-provoking here. This compliments insights into the aristocracy
America, the interactions and motivations of characters who find
resisting expectations, and the circumstances which lead the sisters to
admire one another and struggle with envy, dominance, and independence.
break free of the expectations surrounding them and enter into new and
unfamiliar territory of personal and social achievement, Tucker's
story brings the times and their world to life.
powerful historical fiction that captures the lives, motivations, and
of young women on the cusp of blossoming and transforming against their
culture's expectations will find Paper
Dolls both an excellent addition to the trilogy and a fine
story. The questions and issues it raises will attract book clubs
historical portraits of women changed by shifting society and personal
Return to Index
may sound like a biking travelogue, but it's a work of fiction and
that will delight readers looking for stories of growth and problem
which bicycling is the backdrop, not the focus.
The novel opens with a
prologue that reviews the
catastrophe of COVID-19 and the life changes it introduced to the world
young Carrie, who lost her job and her boyfriend at the start of the
Rootless and jobless, Carrie
undertakes a two-month,
cross-country bicycle trip from
Virginia Beach to Mendocino, California. It seems to be perfect timing,
she has nothing tying her down. In reality, it's the perfect disaster
as an excellent opportunity for growth, because the people Carrie
during her solo ride lead her straight into human and natural hazards
her positive viewpoint, problem-solving abilities, and desire for
A cast of
characters enter her widening worldview, from detectives investigating
to ordinary and extraordinary people Carrie encounters during the
course of her
time to center Carrie's journey both emotionally and physically,
feelings of evolution and observation that lead Carrie to maintain a
wonder about the world despite its COVID-ridden angst:
"Carrie looked up, breathing deeply, and tried to
deep emotion she sensed. The arresting views were not unfamiliar to
she’d seen them in books, magazines, and movies many times, but being
the picture brought them vividly to life. Not just three dimensional
only because of the appearance—the sensation generated something
powerful, and mysterious, impossible to describe using only the five
ways, Pedaling West is neither fish
More than a travelogue or a coming-of-age story, it also profiles
mystery along the routes Carrie takes into the wider world. Special
Douglas Hill pursues attempted murderer Norman Sloan through the story
Carrie unwittingly rides into danger and becomes part of a bigger
than she ever could have imagined.
appreciate the intrigue and suspense that follows Carrie into these
travel or bicyclist enthusiasts who anticipate an encounter with
Americans will appreciate the extraordinary circumstances that force
adopt surprising positions of strength; and fans of novels that pair
elements of intrigue and growth will find her story compelling,
hard to put down.
contemporary novels that explore American identity, society, and the
that often accompanies birth and growth will find much to relish during
course of Carrie's bicycle adventure and accompanying emotional roller
of emotions in Pedaling West.
Return to Index
979-8-9866387-3-7 $2.99 Kindle
comes to life in a satisfyingly unpredictable manner in The
Quarry, the second book in the Skulldiggery series. The story
opens in 14th century France, where a fledgling longbow soldier dreams
returning to his family, but struggles with his actions and choices in
where child Jeanne Butte and her family are fleeing war, taking refuge
old Roman quarry that lies outside of their village. Their experience
will return to haunt her forty years later, when Jeannie finds herself
home looking for answers to a myriad of questions—all of which seem to
from the quarry experience and its present-day promise and threat.
itself? Sure it can ... especially if supernatural forces influence
special brand of horror needs no prior introduction to the previous Skulldiggery in order to prove
immediately accessible and compelling to newcomers.
answers from her childhood experiences and adult dilemmas carries
readers into a
frightening milieu in which she encounters the deceptive, nefarious Dr.
whose lie separated her family and contributed to disparities between
her new life
in America and her old one in France.
special brand of tension that rests on historical precedent, unanswered
questions and surprising revelations, and truths that move from dreams
nightmares of the past to affect present-day events.
realistic and moving as she examines the foundations of her beliefs
family, her past, and the world, discovering new truths that enlighten
about hidden history and long-held secrets.
horror components are nicely developed against this historical
contributing to a story filled with unexpected moments, surprising
and haunting dreams and nightmares that connect seemingly disparate
seeking occult mysteries that stand well alone, yet contribute to other
will find this sequel to The Relict
powerful tale that exposes war-time truths, hard decisions, and
The Quarry's well-developed
historical and psychological tension will have readers guessing to the
which creates satisfying connections between generations of family
to skullduggery of the present and shocking truths about the past.
Return to Index
She Writes Press
The River Remembers is a work of
historical fiction set in 1835,
contrasting three very different women who represent different cultural
backgrounds and experiences in the early Midwest.
a rebel. At least, she constantly refuses the suitors her father
her, and so he finally banishes her to live with her brother in the
Wisconsin Territory, where he assumes the responsibility of handling
Day Sets is
American woman married to a white man who fights for her daughter's
right to an
education to learn his ways while preserving her tribe's influences for
Robinson has come to love the Territory for its feeling of freedom,
she's still a slave, but when she falls in love with Dred Scott and
dreams of a
life with him, she rediscovers that her life is not in her own hands.
faces this feeling in different ways as events unfold to tie their
contrast between the perceptions, experiences, and social and cultural
expectations that bind and limit strong women creates a moving story in
each woman is forced to reconsider her abilities, dreams, and the
her world and how much she can actually change it.
experienced by each woman as her deepest dreams and desires are
unfolding events makes for vivid contrasts between worlds, such as when
Sets bitterly comes to acknowledge that all her efforts to influence
daughter's future may be in vain:
"She wondered exactly how his iyeska granddaughters
the tribe in a world where the wasichu blundered through sacred land
thought it theirs. Anger flooded her. She’d supported her father as
trained to do, wasting her life raising a daughter whose future was
disappearing as fast as the tribe’s."
between these ideals and the realities of their worlds give much cause
thought as readers absorb the shifting influences and forces that drive
woman's effort towards a greater goal than her destiny seems to ordain.
sacrifices and plans which are adeptly portrayed in moving passages:
"Ellie could never take her son downriver, even if
allowed it. Downriver meant slave territory. No enslaved mother would
son, even mixed-race as Jarvis was, from free territory into slave
They continued as they had been...Ellie dried her tears and rolled out
biscuits for dinner."
creates a powerhouse of a story that utilizes these contrasts in
to build a tale of interlinked destinies and strengths that profiles
real-world unique confluence of cultures at Fort Snelling in the 1830s.
at the story's conclusion reinforce the reality of its foundations and
The River Remembers is a powerful work of
women's literature that
ideally should be included in book club discussion groups, women's
holdings, and libraries interested in fiction. It brings the past's
motivations and realities to vivid life.
Return to Index
979-8375041155 $10.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
The Rogue and the Jade Part 1: A Buried Home
opens with Amanda
anticipating a rescue from the island she's stranded on, only to
realize that the
two-masted sloop is there to toss bodies overboard—not exactly the
won't anticipate that a Regency romance could incorporate swashbuckling
pirates, a woman survivor who is "an Eve, but one who quickly primed
loaded pistols," or the meeting of two spirited souls who
harbor different ideals of their future, both separately and together.
with cocky, ambitious sailor Jack Hobb evolves into their alternate
"The Rogue and The Jade" as they join forces to forge new pathways of
opportunity in their lives, only to find their ambitions thwarted by an
opportunistic young lady and her mother, who see Amanda as a threat to
own visions of Jack's role in their lives.
nothing to Amanda. But can she thwart the dangerous influences of Lady
and her daughter Lucy, whose plots involve a way of eliminating Amanda
more than follow a relationship between two headstrong,
individuals. He charts the course of special interests and nautical
disparate paths dovetail in unexpected ways, creating a novel that
action and confrontations both physical and mental.
personalities are compellingly described as these characters find they
often motivated by forces beyond their control:
“I see now that Amanda must know why she is hated.
To tell her,”
Claudia steepled her hands, “will complete our enmity. I will tell her
is helpless and condemned, when all she strove for dashed and
It should be
that this story concludes with a cliffhanger (part of the word is
Readers can anticipate further action from a story which is set to end,
will live on in future books as Amanda faces the certainty of death and
of her relationship with Jack.
story of family ties, adversity in love and aspiration, and
pirate and social encounters will delight Regency readers seeking
steeped in the times and women who are powerful characters and
interested in action-packed encounters, emotionally charged romantic
relationships, and historical backdrops will find The
Rogue and the Jade Part 1: A Buried Home thoroughly
marked by satisfying twists and turns Regency novel readers won't see
Return to Index
The Rosey View of the World
Andrew Scott Bassett
$29.79 Hardcover/$15.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
The Rosey View of the World: One Woman's Journey
the 20th Century is a work of historical
fiction that brings to life the husbands, wives, soldiers, and
World War II.
real-world influence on
political and social events of the times leads her author son to create
story of her world and actions, bringing the drama and sense of these
it moves from the opening of
World War II to the Cold War, the activism forces pushing for women's
and Rosey's involvement in personal and political empowerment, readers
front-row seat of observational and emotional undercurrents of these
times. These experiences shine in one woman's determination to
contribute to a
proactive world for herself and her son, Danny, who will grow up to
best-selling book, followed by his account of her life. His mum may no
be part of his life, but her legacy lives on as his writing captures
and tells why her efforts and their impact weigh so heavily on his own
mother's story opens
when she is nine years old and facing Hitler's threat to her world,
brings with it the recognition that "...some
people are never satisfied. If they have a lot, they want more. If
people have most of everything, they want it all. Hitler is one of
never satisfied until he has it all."
this threat, but develops new realizations as she observes the English
against one another. Her son Danny comes to realize, while reading her
that his own failures have come home to roost in spectacular ways that
limited his ability to fully understand his mother's life.
the novelist considers his
obsession with writing, comes to acknowledge new connections between
experience and present life, and continues to absorb his mother's story
and pieces, he finds his own literary and psychological outlook revised
the fine juxtaposition
of Rosey's life and her son's literary aspirations, Andrew Scott
Bassett creates an evocative contrast in experience that brings history
patterns and impact to life.
Rosey's growing reputation as a "spitfire" and
her determination to live on as her soldier husband Albert becomes
the Vietnam War and unpredictable changes makes for a vivid story that
past and present generations to bring both worlds to life.
Whether covering World War II, the Vietnam War, or
of social consciousness, Bassett uses Rosey's viewpoint and experiences
chart the course of a rising social awareness that fuels Rosey's
illusions, and disillusionments, ultimately impacting and influencing
Political campaigns, ideals of hope and peace, and
blossoming civil rights issues all come to life, along with Rosey's
as a military wife. Readers experience a vivid road trip through the
through Danny's reading of his mother's words, and will find his
replete with many thought-provoking insights about the status of women
Rosey's battles on the home front.
and readers seeking an engrossing novel that
juxtaposes a son and mother's perspectives on their worlds and life
will find The
Rosey View of the World
an evocative survey of self-worth, love, perseverance, and
transformation whose currents of discovery carry readers through
powerful change around the world.
Return to Index
Not Bite: Nuriye's World
Canoe Tree Press
978-1-951490-13-3 $12.99 Paper/$4.19 Kindle
The Snake That Did Not Bite: Nuriye's World
reflections on about seventy years of Turkish history and change from
perspective of Ottoman aristocrat Nuriye, who speaks into a recording
capture her memories.
her voice or this history will be staid is immediately put to rest by
lively opening lines of Louis Mitler's story as the narrator reflects
motivations for remembering, and the forces that try to thwart her
"It is little closer to daylight than the three
o’clock that, I
believe Napoleon said, was the hour that frightened even his bravest
when they awoke. The ghosts in the old house are silent tonight and not
to contradict me when I talk into this machine. Rats scuttle through
while the clap-slap; slap-clap of the boots of the armed patrols has
died away in the lane. We had another minor military pronouncement
years ago and were forbidden to go out at night. I know that
prohibition is not
in force with all this rejouissance over
the Bridge but no danger of me gadding about tonight."
narrator's deeply personal experiences, her observations of living
the making, and her reflections on the impact of social and political
her life and position make for compelling reading—even for those who
little about Turkish affairs or who lack an intrinsic attraction to the
historical fiction genre.
capture a wise great aunt's recitations to her great niece introduces
with the reason why she takes this time to document this point in her
life: "Aylin, in far way America, you asked
me to tell you about our family. Remember this rule in life: never ask
question if you are not prepared to hear the answer."
that this aristocrat will have encountered, interacted with, and
different cultures in the course of her life, from the religious ideas
influences of the Bambara African slave who helped rear her to the
rigidity of her British governess and the restrictions on her role
dictated by her Ottoman Empire heritage as Turkey enters the modern age.
how an orderly society is to be regulated to the influences that
Turkish family and carried her nephew to America to study under a
these lively reflections are embedded with observation and emotion to
and educate readers with rich descriptions and richer realizations
bygone world and the cultural forces that separated families from
The Snake That Did Not Bite is one of the
historical fiction works about this time and place. Steeped in Turkish
and affairs, yet requiring no prior familiarity of the times or region
those who might know little about either, The
Snake That Did Not Bite crafts a compelling voice that builds
a tale filled
with thought-provoking events and fast action. All this is powered by a
character able to step outside her status and role to see the end
seeking an evocative, moving work of historical inspection will find The Snake That Did Not Bite suitable for
individual reading and group discussions about Turkish affairs and
Return to Index
9798392235841 Price: $12.99
stonemason from New Jersey knows nothing about black holes, scientific
experiments, and deadly forces. Joe
Scarapone experiences all these things
and more during an
unexpected encounter in the heart of the Pine Barrens, when he and a
strangers find themselves alone, isolated, and possibly the only
survivors of a
A Stillness in the Pines opens with the
confession that this story
is only reluctantly being revealed, as the protagonist is encouraged by
daughter to relive these events for her oral history project.
opening a portal to the past involves readers in deepening questions
very start as the narrator's first-person confessional voice reveals
managed to survive an extraordinary event.
much from the process of this disparate group of strangers interacting
levels for the shared cause of survival as it does from the
"Stranded in the Pines, our little group of six
souls was like
some kind of sociology experiment...about what people will do when the
hits the fan. We all started the day with our prejudices – some kept in
some not – our own points of view about what’s right and wrong with the
By the time we got out of the Pines, those of us that did, we were
won’t say traumatized, but that fits, too."
diverges from the usual apocalyptic survival story, giving A Stillness in the Pines a special sense
of social revelation that
comes as much from the characters' interactions with one another as
growing perceptions about what has happened in the outside world and
can make the most of their unexpected isolation.
into the stillness that comes from an inhaled breath held through
the story progresses from being lost to making new discoveries, each
character's detour into the wilderness imparts new insights and truths
trust, humanity, and revised possibilities, both within their group and
wider outside world's unknown situation.
relationships between men and women, the power plays over who holds the
who navigates survival, and questions about opportunity and ability
from group dynamics all create an exquisite tension cemented by Joe's
"Jimmy and Eve had planted the seeds of paranoia,
and they were
starting to grow. What if the guy in the woods really did
have it in for us? What if the Piney was an evil
son-of-a-bitch, and not the benign hermit I’d imagined? Here we were,
cavemen huddled around a fire, trying to keep the monsters at bay. All
do was stare into the glowing embers, watching a meager flame appear
just as quickly disappear."
incorporation of shifting ideas of what is right and wrong behavior and
in these extraordinary circumstances goes beyond survival tactics to
influences of the past and adaptations each character must make in
remain strong. Joe's engrossing voice powers these displays of
"I heard Momma’s voice in my head. 'One nail drives
out the other,
Joey.' Merda! I guess the
had a point. I had almost forgotten about the knife, and Lila could
those painkillers. So, give Jimmy what he wants. But it still didn’t
in apocalyptic end-of-world scenarios and stories will find A Stillness in the Pines a standout in
the literature. This is because its strength lies as much in its
individual and group dynamics as it does on the reality of what changed
outside world they've become isolated from. From issues of belief and
ethical conundrums to the group's evolving survival tactics that test
attraction, and prejudices alike, the multifaceted themes that emerge
from predictable—which makes for delightfully thought-provoking reading.
steeped in South Jersey culture, A
Stillness in the Pines captures an atmosphere of Piney
culture that holds
its roots in reality and the author's own experiences.
looking for powerful stories of unexpected endings, new beginnings, and
individuals thrust into extraordinary circumstances will find A Stillness in the Pines builds intrigue
and creates satisfyingly unexpected twists in the story that even
readers of apocalyptic and survival fiction won't see coming.
Return to Index
Wild Rose Press
978-1509243273 $11.28 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
romance and atmosphere of Summer People
will appeal to a wide range of readers, whether or not they are
Cape Cod's iconic atmosphere.
As the story
Rick has his eyes set on married woman Jessica, who has opened an art
on Cape Cod and has suddenly set her wedding ring aside, creating an
question in his mind.
aside the negative force that husband Max represents in her life. His
comes from a privileged Boston childhood that no longer works well for
Jessica's ambitions and vision of a life on Cape Cod, and she's honing
powers in the course of forging a new life for herself. However, old
hard to break, and as she falls into relationships that test her
and ability to maintain her independence and focus on her heart's
Jessica discovers that Cape Cod may just be the perfect place for
fulfilling romance or a disaster that repeats patterns of the past.
casting spells on even the most powerful of women—so, does Jessica have
chance at the kind of romance that can support rather than overwhelm
picture when an art piece in her collection invites dangerous attention
also portends disaster. Can Jessica navigate matters of love and
larceny at the
romance, more than a story of an adult woman's growth, and flavored
suspense of mystery, Summer People
will please readers who come to it from many genres. It may thwart
seek steamy sex scenes, step-by-step detective whodunits, and readers
anticipate the story will be entirely about love in the art world; but
the attraction of its multifaceted presence, which defies pat
A warm, rich
replete in growth opportunities and romantic realizations, spiced by
atmosphere, estate sales, and motivations of competing art sellers, Summer People makes for an engrossing
story especially recommended as a beach read or for a dark night with a
of hot chocolate by the fire.
contemporary romance stories that excel in historical and art world
explorations will find Summer People
an excellent attraction.
Return to Index
Tranquility is the story of an ordinary
woman, Taylor, whose
predictable and peaceful life trajectory is altered by co-worker Greg,
charismatic, successful, and on the fast track to success in his career.
forces to create a luxury resort, Taylor and Greg find their personal
attraction nearly impossible to set aside in favor of their jobs as
and adversity throws them together to test their dreams.
a romantic story that contrasts the different lives and perceptions of
characters that are as driven by their work as they are drawn to one
"impending feeling of doom" lends an anticipatory tension to the
evolution of these coworkers as each tests the boundaries of propriety
impossible relationship that should never have come to pass.
the two is "exquisite"—but is it enough to change everything in their
story walks a
fine line between a crushing romance and a tale of co-workers who both
their attraction to strengthen their business objectives and realize
fantasies may be creating a new reality that risks their current
on many different levels.
these choices and their impact on existing life trajectories is well
drawing readers into the scenario of an evolving couple that enters
dangerous territory fully cognizant of both their emotions and what
and should not be doing with one another.
seeking romantic interludes in stories that evolve on complex levels of
entanglements and business relationships will find Tranquility
an absorbing study in revised possibilities and
behaviors and choices that evolve from dreams to interrupt reality: "Taylor is wondering why this is
happening now, and how this happened in the first place."
Return to Index
The Three Sisters
Broderick is a fighter.
This quality lends to his survival after a solar flare destroys the
electrical grid, crashes his plane, and cements his separation from a
already estranged by his alcoholism.
One doesn't expect an alcoholic
to exhibit powerful survival traits, but in Jack's case, his ability to
persevere against all odds creates a surprising scenario in which he
successfully navigates the days following The Pulse through an
which has been transformed virtually overnight.
of The Pulse
who have been looking for the second book in the postapocalyptic
series now have The
Three Sisters to
enjoy, the next phase in a survival story marked by strong language and
visceral situations not for the queasy reader.
Powerful observations introduce his awakening to
also new to this world: "Florida.
The Gulf Coast. 70 miles north of Clearwater. Tucked away in a clearing
brush off Highway 98. Dawn? Dusk? On my back on a folding chaise lounge
backyard set. And it was the end of the world."
Owen Garratt excels in the ability to inject a "you
are here" feel into the moments that mark Jack's new life:
"I hid the silhouette of
my head in the
rocks onshore. The boardwalk creaked. Not definitive enough. Things
the heat of the day and contract in the cool of night. Expansion and
contraction cause creaks. Wait. Listen. A breath of wind rustled leaves
canopy, and slight gurgling as water eddied around rocks. Then, like a
came the unmistakable crunch of someone stepping on an empty water
This approach crafts and encourages a seamless bond
reader and protagonist, which is why the more visceral elements of
revelation that permeate this particular end-of-the-world scenario
immediate and impactful to Jack's readers.
As the story unfolds, a vivid set of revelations,
life-or-death encounters, and events that happen almost too fast for
absorb or survive makes for an action-packed thriller that rests firmly
shoulders and choices of an ordinary flawed character whose perspective
determination shifts through extraordinary encounters.
The days after all electrical devices stop prove
critical ones for survival as Jack's ability to adapt is tested. It's a
thing Jack was in ‘Health and Safety’ and trained in medical
procedures. It's a
bad thing that his newfound family focus places him on a journey that
serious challenges to his health and safety training.
It's a great thing that Garratt incorporates the
realistic, human aspects of Jack's special challenges into an ongoing
forges new connections to his grandfather's lessons and his new roles
vastly changed world.
Libraries and readers interested in apocalyptic
that simmers with action, takes the time to create a flawed but
characters whose ability to adapt is continually tested, and includes
inspections of shifting world paradigms that convey new revelations
family and alliances will find The Three
Sisters compellingly absorbing, driven by Jack's powerful
growth in a world where "...the
fires released people from the constraints of civilization."
Return to Index
Black Rose Writing
978-1-68513-201-9 $22.00 (paperback); $6.99 (e-book)
Uncontrollable tells of the impact of
epilepsy on a middle-aged
woman approaching her forties with all the trappings of success. She
high-profile career, a loving husband, and children. Everything in her
seems to be under control—except her health, because her seizures are
to threaten everything she's worked for.
brilliantly acing a court case in her first appearance, then is equally
at navigating interactions with children, in the next scene.
emerge as it becomes apparent that she takes meds to control her
all seems well managed in these opening scenes, despite their
disaster—until it's not.
compelling story that evolves from the varying viewpoints of Jonah and
which add depth and alternate nuances of observation to Casey's life.
role in the team that is their marriage undertakes a sea change, as
well, as he
reconsiders his own ambitions and how they need to change in response
Casey's health crisis.
regain the control she thought she'd mastered years ago, Casey
promise of new options and their message of freedom that will change
in more than one way. Insights on epilepsy challenges and its shifting
will educate those who know little about it, while others who have
knowledge of the condition will well relate to Casey's discoveries
herself and her future:
"Seizure freedom. That term was surprisingly apt.
you in an invisible cage: the more frequent the seizures, the smaller
Seizures took away your ability to exercise, the desire to socialize,
advance in your career. Seizure
freedom. The words made me hopeful and depressed at the
same time. It
was as if Dr. Alem stood outside my invisible cage and told me he
might, just might, have the
keys to open the
process isn't linear. It introduces all kinds of changes that
challenge her hold on life and ability to micromanage it. As she
through the process of reconsidering her health and values, readers
thoroughly engrossing inspection of epilepsy and alternatives which
husband Jonah, and all of her friends to view life differently.
Uncontrollable evolves a winning story on
many levels as it
considers a life under control and what happens when its underpinnings
showing that solid foundations are, in fact, fluid.
seeking novels about that shifting experience and its lasting impact on
talents, ideals, and ambition will find Uncontrollable
a powerful lesson in adaptation and love: "But, a
within me said, "This is what you wanted, isn’t it?"
Return to Index
50 States of Mind
Bite-Sized Books Ltd, UK
$25.99 Hardcover/$15.99 Paper/$8.99 Kindle
Ask almost any American in 2023 whether the nation
divided and you'll find the one topic most agree on readily: yes, it
Ryan Bernsten maintains otherwise in 50
States of Mind: A Journey to Rediscover American Democracy,
his travels through the country interviewing ordinary Americans about
of democracy and the major issues affecting their lives.
Any politician, whether aspiring or actively in
would do well to heed the words of 50
States of Mind, because Ryan Bernsten's journey and
discoveries reflect, in
a nutshell, the trends and influences that are buffeting this nation.
Does American democracy still work? Read the
you'd likely say not. Read 50 States of
Mind and you might think differently, because at its best,
democracy is a
fluid work-in-progress, and its capability for optimism is as strong as
capacity for pessimism.
Bernsten didn't expect this powerful thread of
to emerge from his journey. Nor did he anticipate a re-envisioning of
means to participate in the American democratic republic in different
He found rich veins of validation and discovery in
course of his travels, and readers who pursue his book will find it
with candid self-assessments as well as new possibilities for both the
and the nation:
"As I drove south to
Georgia, I knew
that besides looking for a place to live, I was looking for something
Long a disciple of Joseph Campbell, I believed that everyone who
outside their homes and undertook some kind of travel underwent a
the hero’s journey. I had hoped that this trip would similarly become a
transformational experience that would provide me with much-needed
just about our democracy, but where I fit into it."
The book's much-needed prescription for angst and
depression provides hope and a sense of purpose to modern America's
which is largely missing from newspaper headlines, but encouragingly
this book. It considers the influences that polarize America, the
hopeful possibilities, and the pulse of a people living, breathing, and
interacting to create a new American story.
The nation does
stand at a crossroads, as it has so many times in the past.
Libraries and readers seeking to feel the pulse of
democracy in action through the eyes, hopes, and experiences of a
across the modern U.S. will find much to reflect on, discuss, and take
in 50 States of Mind.
Ultimately, the book cements its promise with
that represent the American dream of new potential:
"I tried to suss out the
best things we
can do for democracy with our limited time, how we can take action
screaming into the void. This little move, this jump into the dark is
that perhaps with a new mindset, we can set the country on the right
again. We can be a cohesive whole and allow our better angels to win
out in a
community where we can actually make an impact."
Return to Index
Back to the
Jean-Louis Rodrigue and Scott Weintraub
979-8-218-05895-1 $22.00 Paper/$12.99 ebook
Back to the Body: Infusing Physical Life Into
Characters in Theatre and
Film explores the Alexander Technique as it relates to
bodywork, drawing spirited, exciting connections between the Alexander
and the fine art of producing a play that uses movement transitions and
transformations to transcend the usual performance effort.
The story of
play evolved to represent the success of applied Alexander requires no
familiarity from the reader in order to prove inviting and
the start, the authors reveal a draw to learning it that is supported
vivid representation of its strengths:
"It was never about success, for we had no idea
that would happen.
It was the exquisite experience of creating, working through the play,
character changed, sometimes in mid-sentence, into someone else. This
accomplished as Pam’s weight shifted, as did her arms, torso, head, and
posture, along with her voice and accents. This was a class in and of
exploring each of the 23 human beings’ personal behavior. This
the perfect example of the wonder of the Alexander Technique, for
this play would not have been possible."
followers of the Alexander Technique, and newcomers to both will find
instructions and directions compelling as the connections between
creative results are fostered.
explorations and exercises that encourage mind/body connections and
observation of changes to mental, physical, and philosophical
how these techniques can not only lend to creativity, but change lives,
Back to the Body comes infused with
and opportunity for thinking readers who would move both into and
stage of performance and life:
"A relationship between two human beings is
experienced in space,
in time, and in their bodies, through movement. Relationships depend on
exchange of energy between two people, demanding a give-and-take of
thoughts, and, ultimately, emotions. Intimacy can be reached only
personal connection. The chemical synergy between two human beings is
thrills and engages us as an audience because this is what fuels our
We need each other to successfully exist in our world."
reflections are rarely seen in either drama or psychology books which
Alexander Technique principles, and therefore tend to produce
between mind, body, and interpersonal spatial and mental awareness.
working with props, sets, and costumes or stepping into alternative
choices in the course of depicting scenes and characters. Each movement
description also translates to life encounters and choices in a manner
constantly invites the reader to absorb both the Alexander Technique
possibilities for new life and art interactions. Exercises motivate
readers to hone
their own awareness of movement and form.
and Scott Weintraub have created a winner in Back
to the Body that ideally will become a mainstay in performing
arts libraries, as well as a book club discussion choice for those
in acting, movement, or the psychology and physiology of action-based
Return to Index
979-8-9877766-1-2 $19.95 Print/9.95 ebook
"Why miracles happen to some but not others, I
cannot explain. I
was one of the fortunate. I had been mired in the proverbial swamp of
when a lifeline was thrown my way."
Crossing the Swamp: My Path to Innovating as a Parallel Entrepreneur is a business memoir about success and failure, and relates John Shen's rapid personal and business transformation back to success after the 2008 financial crisis when his profitable real estate business collapsed. What sets Crossing the Swamp apart from other books on entrepreneurship are its clear strategies for adapting to challenges and change, based on Shen's real-life business experience.
Shen's story shows that drive and resilience and six other talents are critical to entrepreneurial success, as he shares his lessons with business owners and innovators facing their own pivot points in launching a new company.
As a first-generation immigrant to the U.S. Shen has come to start and operate four companies successfully, two of them ranking among the "fastest growing companies in America." Inspired by a last-minute reading of an email that contained a parable called "The Glass of Water," Shen stepped away from an attempted suicide after his real estate business failure and dove back into innovating new startup ventures. His memoir provides readers with clear advice about how they, too, can confront negativity, depression, and challenging circumstances as they seek to achieve the American Dream in a startup business.
Shen explains the specific steps he took to create, realize, and grow new opportunities in a variety of business ventures. Throughout the book, readers receive inspiring and practical insights into the process of successful entrepreneurship.
provides in each chapter makes his book practical and
useful to understanding
the nuts and bolts of business operations. He provides detailed
such topics as how to find new ideas, why revenues matter more than
how long-term risk-taking is better than short-term risk-taking, and
the most effective strategies for hiring, dealing with employee
A key theme of the book is Shen's recommendation that today's smart entrepreneurs consider running several businesses simultaneously, which he refers to as "parallel entrepreneuring." He notes:
"I believe parallel entrepreneurship will become the most popular trend among young entrepreneurs. In my view, once you start one company and bring it to a certain level of success, you are ideally positioned to leverage your knowledge, your staff, your customers, or your market dominance to start yet another company. Frankly, if you have the intelligence and stamina to be a solo entrepreneur, you might as well aim to be a parallel one. The benefits of “going parallel” are enormous..."
Crossing the Swamp is not just positive and supportive, but it imparts many keys to creating a successful entrepreneurial vision. Shen's ultimate message? The sky's the limit for a hard-working, ambitious entrepreneur.
and entrepreneurs seeking concrete advice on common obstacles to
entrepreneuring and how to overcome them must have Crossing
the Swamp in
their collections, as
should business book clubs and entrepreneurial
discussion groups. Its
candid, revealing assessment of the risks and opportunities in the
world is that important.
Return to Index
9798985903898 $12.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Audiobook- Narrator Larry Wayne
Arising: Finding the
Warrior within and the Willingness to
Explore, Grow, and Arise explores the process of T.I.
Frazier's own faith
and its evolution, illustrating this endeavor with a memoir and a
following one's own path into faith.
The close examination
identifying limiting beliefs that
held the author back from stepping fully into faith provide insights
cautions for others on the spiritual path to self-realization. Those
in how faith is defined and incarnated in daily life will find Faith
Arising an impetus for reflecting on the Christian teachings
which guide both the author and many readers.
"The questioning of faith is where faith begins."
It is also
where this book opens, for those unafraid of reconsidering or probing
rock-solid foundations of belief.
unfolds, questions pepper the account that prompt readers to reflect on
own faith and the history that supports their beliefs. From lessons on
responsibility during and for "rock-bottom moments" to reading
objectively about other religions and their beliefs, Frazier charts the
of not just building faith, but testing its foundations through an open
necessity, involves a high degree of self-inspection and uncomfortable
reflections. It won't be for everyone; particularly those resistant to
faith's foundations to assess their strength and resiliency.
solidifying these roots by remaining open to other methods of analysis
find Faith Arising's real purpose
isn't to shake the foundations of faith, but to chart the process of
it so that it is both set and embracing of a wider degree of
rigid belief systems allow.
of the abundance of life's lessons keeps faith an upward-growing
both this book and in the concepts it promotes for readers of all
making Faith Arising highly
recommended for both individual and group spiritual reflection.
books about faith that encourage discussion, debate, and interest in
reading and spiritual circles will find Faith
Arising an inspirational, intellectual journey that links
stages with growth.
Return to Index
Shades of Gray Matter
Teresella Gondolo, MD
complex scientific matters come to mind, but in Fifty
Shades of Gray Matter, the medical mysteries surrounding the
brain and its health and illness come to life in a way both medical
and general-interest health readers can readily understand.
Teresella Gondolo offers a
neurological examination steeped in physical and psychological health
considerations that intersect psychiatry and neurology, discussing how
disciplines interpret and consider brain health and disease.
collection of medical case
histories opens with the mystery of a patient who has lost the ability
recognize faces. Imagine waking up to find a familiar world, but not
recognizing anybody despite their outward appearances feeling familiar.
was the neurological presentation of patient Steve B, who could "see
clearly but not distinguish a face."
opening mystery is just
one example of a case study that embraces bigger-picture reflections on
facial recognition works and how its absence threatens social
the ability to navigate life.
the puzzle of a patient
who gains weight the more she exercises to considerations of whether
are just as or more effective than chemotherapy, Dr. Gondolo presents
incredible cases, but wider-ranging questions about what makes people
allows them to lead their lives and interact with others, and what
neurological symptoms present mysteries that challenge conventional
interested in case
history-driven examples of extraordinary circumstances that test
will find Fifty Shades of Gray Matter
absolutely compelling. The diverse stories are not only
fine examples of adaptation and medical approaches to the brain's
but offer bigger-picture ideas that encourage debate and inspection
medical students, professionals, and the general public.
interested in medical stories and mysteries that lead to revelations
science, psychology, and the intersection between personal lives and
challenges will find plenty of book club material and food for thought
psychological and medical readers in Fifty
Shades of Gray Matter. It's highly
recommended for its lively ability to juxtapose medical conundrums with
considerations of just what makes us human.
Return to Index
Vernon Street Publishing
9798987943700 $17.95 Paper/$7.99 ebook
Financially Capable: A
Friendly Guide to Building Whole-Health
Wealth offers a key to understanding financial
attitudes that influence not only money-making abilities, but personal
financial value in the world.
Paradise departs from the usual treatise on how to gain wealth by
concept of what that wealth involves and what makes it valuable. Thus,
both explores and explains financial literacy and links financial to
objectives in a way that few other guides to money can achieve, making
accessible to group discussion and non-financial readers than the
business or financial guide.
open with an introduction that surveys financial stress, providing case
examples of individuals who experience it in different ways. From
and living paycheck-to-paycheck to the gaps between rich and poor, the
survey links individual experience and choice to bigger-picture
essential key to appreciating the different directions taken in Financially Capable.
Its foundation idea of how mindsets, values, and
affect financial decision-making and capability is explored in chapters
provide concurrent strategies for building both financial security and
As Paradise discusses budgeting, money management
and common sources of stress, readers receive the opportunity to more
relate their financial health to the emotional factors that influence
and perceptions alike.
Another rare feature of this financial guide is
doesn't promote a "one size fits all" approach, but acknowledges that
disparate interests and ideas of life and wealth affect the nature and
of personal financial planning and health:
"If your ideal life is one
don’t need financial products, services, or modern amenities, go for
fact, many people do. It’s quite possible to live a happy, healthy life
so. Personally, that’s not the life my family chooses. If it’s not the
choose, I’d suggest that you keep an open mind and educate yourself
living in a credit-based economy."
As a result, Financially
Capable promotes flexibility alongside knowledge of how
money, credit, and
financial institutions work. This will, ideally, encourage dialogues
discoveries in book club and group settings where financial issues are
Libraries should recommend Financially
Capable not only to adult patrons, but young adults on
the cusp of entering the world of new adulthood, with the changing
perceptions it requires.
Return to Index
Fulton Books, Inc.
978-1-64952-974-9 $19.55 Paper/$8.99 Kindle
The Frankfurt Kitchen: Forty-One
Stories of Growing Up in Post-World War II West Germany is both a memoir and a history lesson. Its
stories come from the perspective of the daughter of a Jewish
a Christian mother who grew up in postwar West Germany with the legacy
Nazism and the prospect of America's ideals changing the world.
From the opening story 'The Jeep Driver,' it's apparent that these vignettes will be more than a focus on self, but a wide embrace of atmosphere and culture that pairs a "you are here" feel with the broader impact of politics and social change on daily lives in Germany:
"If I wanted to make a movie of my life, the first
show my mother, youthful and resolute, with soft hands and vestiges of
elegance, and me, almost eight years old and unafraid, standing in the
rain of a cold April downpour by the side of the on-ramp to the
between Heidelberg and Frankfurt, hitchhiking. For a population of war
challenged daily by the extreme scarcity of basic resources,
become as normal as standing on a platform, waiting for an unreliable
Eventually it would come, and you could get on."
Laird's approach allows
readers to move from the
microcosm of her personal experiences to the macrocosm of social
inspection. This, in turn, creates a satisfying (and rare) connection
political events and social change. This is especially powerful when
considering the ideals of America and their translation into action in
The impact of this interplay
is not always depicted nor
understood by the general reader, but comes to life under Laird's hand.
Consider, for another example, the title story 'The Frankfurt Kitchen,'
captures the irony and emotions of one's home and life being
thrust into the public eye and held up as an example of history:
never occurred to me as a child that the cramped and cluttered kitchen
Vera cooked dinner every day, and was clearly overwhelmed by the task
cleaning up afterward, would one day become a famous museum exhibit.
But half a
lifetime and six kitchens later, I found the kitchen of my childhood
in a newspaper article extolling the revolutionary design elements of
kitchen as it was exhibited in an architecture museum in England. I was
speechless and felt a mixture of uncomfortable exposure and hilarious
that the site of my family’s deeply personal and intensely painful
had become a public space studied by museum visitors and architecture
This process of
interpretation and revelation comes to
life in each piece, bringing German culture and history alive in a
personal, yet accessible manner that is especially powerful when
the physical and emotional ravages of war on everyday lives and
American military forces, which had chosen Frankfurt and nearby
their headquarters, issued summary evictions for the entire Römerstadt.
Thousands of single-family dwellings were converted into barracks for
troops, the tidy hedges between the miniature gardens in the rear of
houses were torn out to create open space for improvised baseball
tanks were driven through the massive walls around the bastions down to
lower-lying terrain ..."
The Frankfurt Kitchen proves unexpectedly
powerful in its personal
observations and rendition of life after World War II and the events
it that altered German lives. Unexpected, because this contrast and
rarely receives such intimate and close examination, nor an attention
that draws all readers into the milieu of the changing times and the
transformations that reconsidered ideals, experience, and future
If only one
to be chosen to represent this era and its challenges, The
Frankfurt Kitchen should be that book. Literary, historical,
and social inspections combine in a lively personal survey that brings
Germany's events and people to life in a manner seldom seen in most
coverages of the country and its people.
Return to Index
978-1-63988-822-1 $25.99 Hardcover/$17.95 Paper
Hollow Gods: Why Liberalism Became a Destructive
especially appropriate reading for modern times because it embraces the
and sentiments connecting religion to political choices—and also
comes from a liberal forced to reconsider his faith and political
This is not
condemnation of liberals or religion, but operates in the milieu
belief systems that considers the long-time presence of two cultures
clashes have resulted in a form of arrogance. This has unwittingly
very monsters and messages liberals accuse others of fostering.
considers himself liberal should digest these contentions, which are
with footnoted references reinforcing statistics and contentions
The treatise closely analyzes the liberal platform "...that
I and millions of others have had, and the serious,
devastating, possibly permanent harm they have done and are doing to
individuals, two generations of college students, our country, its
liberal religion, racism, sexism..."
aside, this survey is not written like an academic paper, but is lively
that general-interest audiences can easily access its contentions and,
debate and consider them in group and book club reading circles.
represented by the media, distorted, and manipulated to the left-wing
the media as a whole and its impact on divisions and freedom, chapters
thought-provoking blends of historical, philosophical, and political
that should particularly interest media studies and social issues
Hollow Gods will make readers
readers who have long held their contentions close to their hearts
close that they have remained immune to deep inspection).
that choose Hollow Gods for its
hard-hitting examination of belief systems, social activism, media
involvements, and clashing cultures will find its words embrace
subjects and truths, thus broadening the opportunity for revision and
"Affirmative action doesn’t address or solve any of
problems. It is done to treat black people like our token victims,
liberals feel virtuous for speaking up for them—while doing virtually
to help them. These liberal ideas aren’t just stupid. They’re also
and ungrounded. They’re good examples of why these un-realistic Second
misunderstandings, like the Scare-crow’s Delusion, do so much harm, and
gatekeepers must come from people in the First Culture who, like
their feet on the ground in the real world. The problem isn’t limited
liberals. The problem is that, for the reasons already shown, we have
lost the ability to center ourselves or our culture around healthy
values and have degraded ourselves and our world into merely
Return to Index
Contemporary Circus Show
Modern Vaudeville Press
professional performers interested in the basics of assembling a modern
show will find no better guide than the new book How
to Create a Contemporary Circus Show. It's written by an
award-winning contemporary circus artist named Eric Bates who started as a Vermont circus juggler with early
roots in Circus Smirkus before going on to study at Montreal’s
National Circus School. Throughout each chapter Bates explores the
process from conception to creation, and presents his company Cirque
methods for making a circus production.
From budgeting to overseeing
team efforts, Bates covers
all aspects of organizing a circus, using the experiences of his team
successes and pitfalls to identify common areas of challenge involved
crafting a successful show.
His book gathers all the
advice he wished he'd had
earlier in the effort, featuring 20 plus interviews that were conducted
Bates of industry professionals sharing their advice, and will save
circus producers a lot of headaches by streamlining the hard work of
multifaceted production from scratch.
From using exercises to
identify core concepts in a
circus show and making the leap between acting and circus performances
honing a perspective and vision that allows the circus ideal to
easily into promotional efforts, Bates provides industry examples that
compelling and hard-earned lessons from experience:
serves as the proof of what you believe. Rather than telling everyone
your show or company is, it might even be a better strategy not to, but
to talk about why you decided to make that show in the first place.
you trying to accomplish? What is so important to you that drove you to
this effort in? Then tell them why your show or your company reflects
Circus performers and
producers receive an extensive nuts
and bolts list of what works, what doesn't, and how best to tailor a
contemporary show for maximum success and ease. Bates takes the whole
experience and breaks it down into accessible, manageable chapters in a
that allows a performer/creator, regardless of what stage of their
career, access to new information every creator needs to see their
through to fruition.
How to Create a Contemporary Circus Show
may focus on the circus's
unique environment and requirements, but its wide-ranging production
experiences, illustrations, exercises, and formulas for success makes
it a top
recommendation not just for circus reference libraries, but any
collection, and for those who would put together a winning production.
Return to Index
Lorry Leigh Belhumeur, Ph.D.
$24.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paperback/$4.99 ebook
Resilience: Transforming Into Your Purpose features an
8-step formula for
tapping into the underlying strengths of adversity to unfold the growth
resilience that it offers. It is highly recommended for self-help
interested in building new strengths against all odds.
Contrary to popular belief,
adversity can prove the
impetus to positive change that drives individuals to recognize and
their resilience for best benefit—but only if it's used appropriately.
That's where Mastering
Resilience comes into play, defining and encouraging a
intrinsic values that can create new, positive directions in life
Chapters contrast the
author's background and her work
with others as they chart a path through this process, revealing how
mindset shifts can ultimately contribute not just to better individual
relationships, but a better world:
respond with compassion, we’re driven to make the world a better place.
why so many resilient individuals who have experienced childhood
often driven toward helping professions and positions: teaching,
youth ministry, coaching, and mentoring. Our ability to be resilient in
face of adversity has a purpose."
statistics, and revelations about
challenges and choices in life come into play as Dr. Leigh Belhumeur crafts a thought-provoking series
of insights based on real-world examples and hard data.
Powered by discussions that
encourage the reassessment of
life and one's achievements, Mastering
Resilience contains the kinds of admonitions and
encouragement that lead to
a better understanding of one's place in the world and the potential
important to note that these small steps may already be well within
comfort zone. To reach your full potential, remember that it’s
step out of your comfort zone to reach your true purpose, and to live
according to your intrinsic values."
Readers need only be already
self-realization and change in order to benefit from Mastering
Resilience. Whether it's used for individual growth or in
group settings to reach participants interested in life values and
improvement, Mastering Resilience
represents an opportunity for transformation. This makes it highly
for self-help libraries, book club and psychology reading groups, and
who would take the next step into versatility and more effective living.
Return to Index
John A. Gentry
Armin Lear Press Inc.
$35.95 Hardcover/$24.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook
the CIA: Why
US Intelligence Versus Trump Has Long-Term Consequences is a
analysis that holds the rare ability to attract general-interest
concerned about intelligence history and America's CIA in particular.
It probes the political
bias that both dictates operations and too often undermines the agency,
considering how this bias affects intelligence operations and
efficiency as a
whole. While the key example presented in this study is the impact of
on the interaction between the CIA and the Trump Administration, to
the CIA a history of
involvement alone would be to do the book an injustice.
It holds far wider-ranging
realizations and information
that affect the overall operations, driving force, and perceptions of
intelligence operations as a whole. Neutering
the CIA ideally should be consulted not just by political
but anyone actively involved in U.S. intelligence operations and ideals.
his treatise with a preface that explains his background in the CIA as
intelligence analyst and his personal experience of its
"politicization" by fellow professionals who overlaid the operations
of the agency with an agenda that represented their personal and
revelations are eye-opening and controversial:
"After following the German Democratic Republic for
I was under no illusions about the many negative and few good aspects
country’s communist regime ... Yet in 1986 my division chief, Steve K.,
to insist that his analysts make the countries we followed look worse
were, mainly by adding pejorative adjectives in our analytic papers."
information, framed by simple choices in presentation and
mild; but in hindsight it began a dangerous trend that continues to
experience also led to Gentry's newfound awareness of and ongoing
the intersection of politics and intelligence work—and he was in the
place and position to observe these changes in action.
will appreciate Gentry's attention to detail as he delves into such
topics as diversity politics, other presidential campaigns that
growth of special influences and interests, and the changing approaches
intelligence community as politicization became a new norm rather than
exploring moral and ethical dilemmas, his exposé of facts (such as the
leaking of intelligence information by intelligence officers
his heavily footnoted references that support many of his contentions
articles, interviews, and research create an authority that goes beyond
personal familiarity to reflect the information-based work Gentry was
the CIA at this
time is key to understanding the influences upon and progress of
itself. Far more than an analysis of the inner sanctum of the American
intelligence community, Neutering the CIA
draws both damning and thought-provoking connections between special
personal ambition, and political influence that dictates the focus and
direction of intelligence operations in this nation.
Gentry's discussions of
anti- and pro-Trump elements
within the organization and his notes on the CIA's evolving culture and
strengths invite classroom dialogue and discussion that also should
general interest circles despite the scholarly nature of this book,
should not be limited to classroom study alone. General-interest as
scholarly or college-level library collections should see widespread
to Neutering the CIA because its
history, analysis, and insider information hold great impact for
perceptions of the democratic process in America as well as its
book club discussion, political and social
issues debates, and classroom reading alike, Neutering
the CIA is an important examination of linguistics,
ideology, and purpose of intelligence operations. It holds the ability
a wide audience with its insights on how modern America really works,
front and behind the scenes, and is very highly recommended for its
Return to Index
Ostentation: Building the Circus
Steve Ward, Ph.D.
Modern Vaudeville Press
Opulence and Ostentation: Building the Circus
is a history of the
circus buildings which helped house and perpetuate the popularity of
circus, particularly during the nineteenth century. Readers with only a
familiarity with architectural history and the circus may not realize
long-standing nature of this subject:
"During the latter half of the nineteenth century
and into the
twentieth century many circus owners, and indeed civic authorities,
commissioned buildings specifically for circus. Why, you may ask, for
ephemeral entertainment? I consider that this growth in circus building
reflects the popularity
of the art form
at that time. Some of these buildings were vast cathedrals of circus
could accommodate thousands of people, regularly reaching capacity."
architectural students and circus historians will find that Opulence and Ostentation holds many
powerful examinations, but it also will attract general-interest
may relish the circus, but are unaware of the structures that
its popularity and mythos.
intend this book to be a definitive history of either the circus or its
buildings. It celebrates the opulence and wealth of this approach to
the circus, examining how these structures contributed to the mystique
allure of the circus over the centuries.
white photos, footnoted references, and quotes from publications that
early circus buildings and atmosphere make for a scholarly yet
survey designed to educate and attract.
architectural history, in particular, will find the notes and
design choices and the mechanics of translating a building's use to
theater and circus applications to be specific and intriguing.
Circus history is incorporated into these building descriptions, bringing a satisfyingly lively tone to the fine art of capturing opulence and the moveable art of the circus both within and between nations:
"The (then) modern building was very tall, 36
metres in height,
with a cupola 46.5 metres in diameter. The standard 13.5 metre circus
the facility to be lowered and flooded with water for water
arena was complete with a fully equipped stage and orchestra pit, and
almost 4000 spectators. The building included a restaurant and an
Bar’; an American Bar being a ‘long bar’ arrangement as opposed to the
intimate tavern style bar. Behind the circus was stabling for up to 130
and space to accommodate a menagerie. The building survived
the bombing of Dresden in 1945, when it was completely destroyed. The
survived but Sarrasani, having problems with Hitler’s regime, decided
to South America in 1934. Hans Stolsch-Sarrasani died there shortly
and the circus was continued by his son. The Sarrasani Circus became
Argentina and in the 1940s was proclaimed the ‘Argentine National
of such passages and references will require that readers already have
interest in the circus environment in order to appreciate the depths of
research and the social, historical, and cultural connections Dr. Ward
circus topics or architectural explorations will find Opulence
and Ostentation: Building the Circus is an opulent and
potent examination indeed, juxtaposing complexity with a freestyle
the circus world that is not commonly accessible to general-interest
Return to Index
Question of Cosmological Significance is a spiritual focus on
that takes a hard-hitting look at what St. John Chrysostom perennially
warned "about the obscene theaters in which
'the shared nature of women is insulted.'"
The intention of CJS
Hayward's book is to encourage
thinking readers to "...never look
the same way at porn ever again." He
achieves his goal by covering the concept
of 'sexual sin' and what is actually at stake by viewing and accepting
From the initial trajectory
of the world's creation and
the evolution of science and technology to the perception of Christ as "...head of the whole Creation, not
just the Church. Christ isn't just concerned with his people, but the
created world," the spiritual discussion mixes history,
inspection, and routes to lead a more engaged, meaningful life beyond
forces that lead to passive life participation and YouTube inspections.
Hard-hitting discussions of the reality of porn addiction differentiate this pursuit and sin from others: "The reality of porn addiction may be different. It is, with other evils, a pursuit of something that does not exist and cannot create lasting satisfaction. Not that porn is the only evil by any stretch of the imagination. But it is one way of reaching the misery for which the final destination is a Hell that has many, many entrances but not one exit."
In the beginning, Hayward's
between religious and human history may seem not only broad, but
distant from the book's promised focus on porn. Readers who persist
cosmological and spiritual history will find that salient points
other articles to form a unified examination of porn that is solidly
intellectual and thought-provoking.
Yes, porn holds issues of
cosmological import. It also
represents the opportunity to hold dialogues in and reconsider life
their connection to and impact on religious pursuits, and the meaning
underlying seemingly simple options and perceptions that weigh heavily
Discussions of porn here are
unlike any other book,
embracing existential and spiritual matters that are presented in a
forms to cement the reader's inner dialogue, as in the section where
assumes a countenance of awareness:
interesting times. There is a singularity, or rather has been but keeps
exponentially, and this singularity may turn in to the end of the
world: a strange
Ragnarok where the forces of Good resound with apocalyptic triumph. And
Porn, am part of the singularity, an important part. Did you know that
am not the only thing in life? Remember: “Every
man who visits a Porn site is looking for God.”
Any discussion of
porn and its spiritual and social impact would not be complete without
religious inspection and enlightenment it receives in “Porn?” is a Question of
which is at once intriguing, challenging, and worthy of discussion in
circles, as well as inclusion in any library interested in applications
religious thought to social conundrums.
Return to Index
The Luminary Press
intersects fantasy, thriller, and paranormal themes so seamlessly that
who choose it for its coming-of-age component will find far more depth
attraction in the story's multifaceted character and action than they
anticipated from its title.
College-bound orphan Everest Clearly's discovery of
her paranormal abilities are only the first revelation she experiences,
sends her off-course from a largely unpleasant life into a parallel
The Prism, which holds a much nicer environment.
Her second life there
is apparently boundless, and its attraction is unshakeable, even when
herself on an unexpected journey confronting not only new
new threats. The allure of the Prism world lies in apparently limitless
possibilities. It also holds secrets and danger which Everest
encounters as she
penetrates this world's attractions to realize its underlying dangers.
Readers who follow Everest into the Prism will find
first-person descriptions of her experiences evocative and rich: "This room is my blank canvass. I
recall what Erik said about creating anything within it. Anything! But where to even start? Baby steps. I need to process the
world outside first before attempting to create a brand new one in
As she explores her changed role, power, and
navigate and craft new possibilities for her future both within and
Prism, readers are treated to a vivid tale that sparkles with
and encounters that mirror Everest's experiences in a world that "steals her breath away."
From the challenges of fighting for others when
to fight for themselves to the complicated lives of Erik, Lise, and
interact on this new playing field of possibilities, Aneta Torchia
powerful story of a game-changing world gone awry, and a girl's
options. The story captures not just the Prism and its special
the dilemma faced by one who finds both heaven and hell in her choices.
Libraries and readers seeking fantasies that
nicely with thriller components, interpersonal relationships that
teeter on the
edge of disaster, and explorations of spiritual and metaphysical
the world will find The Prism a
compelling adventure and a thought-provoking journey.
As the first in a three-part series, The
Prism sets the stage for what looks to be an extraordinary
trilogy steeped in life-changing decisions and glimpses of life's
Return to Index
Root, Rise, Roar
978-1-958714-53-9 $4.99 Kindle
Transforming Trauma into Your Brave and Beautiful Life is a
rests on Dawn King's career in behavioral
psychology, offering an approach to life and recovery that promotes
mindfulness, emotional healing, and resilience.
Rather than promoting
King's own approaches, Root,
represents a collaborative mix of her
insights and those of her clients, documenting the varied processes by
survival becomes revival.
King's mother chose alcohol
as a salve to hide her pain.
She was "was injured by a partner
who betrayed and pulverized her emotionally and mentally,"
reaction to life created a distance from her family that led to
wounds on all sides before alcohol was finally set aside.
King acknowledges both the
legacy of family patterns and
the power available to everyone to break them:
on my life, I see how my parents’ traumas, thoughts, beliefs, and
were transferred to me on very unconscious and seductively subtle
genetics are undeniably inherited, I believe the learned behaviours of
parents or caregivers and environments as children have a constructive
destructive effect on us. We can also change them."
does more than document this path of destruction and rebuilding. It
diverse set of keys to better understanding these chains and how best
them, drawing important connections through seemingly simple approaches
revising life. These evolve on as basic a level as learning how to slow
and what to do with this added time, as well as how best to place a
allows more intentional awareness of making decisions. Impulse control
problem in our culture, yet slowing down expands creative thinking and
a space and place within us of making and planning for possibilities.
more doesn’t always equal doing our best."
As new possibilities evolve
from addressing and
challenging familiar patterns of behavior and responses to life, the
potential of learning to live not faster, but better, are explored in a
self-help inspirational guide especially recommended for high achievers
approach their goals too measuredly or hastily.
Libraries and readers
seeking a guide that introduces the
paths to better living will find the clear advice in Root,
Rise, Roar an inspirational key to building alternative
choices in life.
many of us
have not grown up with any emotional fluency." Here is where
envisioning lessons begin, in a lesson plan that deconstructs the
rigidity of family patterns and negative impulses:
understand the difference between constructive and destructive
leaves our roots rotting in denial. We cannot grow from there. We
ROOT and rigidly do not change, causing anxiety, depression, addiction,
other destructive behaviours we have the power to change."
ability to illustrate the process of embracing this power makes it a
recommendation for readers and book groups interested in discussing and
enacting new rules for living life in a different way.
Return to Index
Black Rose Writing
978-1-68513-204-0 Paperback: $21.95/Kindle: $5.99
Runner's unique blend of
tempered by a dash of fantasy makes it a winning read for those who
cross genre boundaries in the pursuit of vivid stories that don't fall
into formula definitions.
Aristocrat Ada has no illusions about
her predictible future. Either she will marry into comfort and money
requires set boundaries of behavior and lifestyle, or her inheritance
usurped by a male heir.
partially inspired Ada and this story, but KJ Fieler embarks on
foreign to Gaiman's book as Ada leaves childhood behind and considers
choices and challenges that light the way to a very different legacy
ever envisioned for her future.
thought-provoking reflections that come from Ada's physical and
growth, injecting these into dialogues and situations that accompany
strengths and tests of her abilities: “If
you don’t hit me, you’ll be in more trouble. You won’t be punished for
back. That’s the whole point of these exercises. And you really need to
your ethic. It’s making you weak.”
As maid and
Mistress Nadine leads Ada into realms she'd never imagined, readers
growth and revelations, which are flavored with action and insight.
A touch of
marks many of Ada's encounters, which will feel unexpectedly delightful
is forced into alien territory both physically and mentally: "Ada was sorry she ate the beans. She
wished she was still hungry and had hair. She didn’t want to do
pushups, or any
other thing Mistress demanded."
becomes Ada's responsibility because of the choices she makes, and
receive thought-provoking insights into mercurial relationships that
them terrible responsibility and the impact of bad decisions. How Ada
into a predator, attacking the circles she once knew intimately, and
handles the impossible dilemma of a freedom that can cost the lives of
closest to her makes for a story as riveting for its moral and ethical
as for its action-packed scenes of transformation and confrontation.
Runner's ability to move between
historical fiction makes it an especially thought-provoking read for
well as adult audiences.
Libraries and readers seeking vivid fantasy
stories that embrace a coming-of-age theme with an environment that
young protagonist, and which comes with many topics ripe for book club
and classroom discussion, will find Shadow Runner a
Return to Index
Badasses Book Two
J. Stewart Dixon
978-0985857974 $16.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Spirituality for Badasses Book Two: How to Find
Your Heart and Soul
Without Losing Your Cool posits a mind-altering romp through
and spirituality alike. It opens with a chatty tone of confrontation
realization that immediately informs readers that this book represents
something more than a lesson in road trips, spirituality or
"So, you think you’re gonna double your spiritual
badass just by
reading Book Two? Think
There is no doubling your badass. There is only one
amount of spiritual badass and you already
(sorta-kinda-you’ll see) have it. You’ve always had it. You never lost
can’t lose it. But I presume, since you’re back for more, something is
If Book One was "just a slow dance at a rural county fair" then "This book—well, it’s a stage dive into a slam-dancing mosh pit at a punk concert."
journey which evolves represents a romp of mindful and spiritual
first-person admonitions move through new realizations, realities, and
acknowledgements of the ironies and inconsistencies of beliefs and
revelation, all cemented by a flavor of humor: "You’d
think a guy who writes books with the word “spirituality”
in them wouldn’t have waited until page 95 of his fourth book to
pretty damn fundamental—ahem— spiritual topic: Death."
be a lesson in spirituality turns out to be a fictional foray into a
through other worlds as the narrator moves through Kansas City, Vegas,
other milieus to confront Death the Destroyer of Dreams and further
to spiritual and life perception.
"The New Age thinkers and doers…chant and hope and
dream…a neverending dream of finally…one day…arriving."
In Spirituality for Badasses Book Two, the
journey towards revised realizations about life, death, and everything
between is as important as the ultimate destination.
of this expedition into consciousness creates a powerful story that
the realm of metaphysical fiction and philosophy, but holds so many
topics for debates and fun that book clubs and spiritual new age groups
find much fodder for discussion as the tale unfolds.
looking for a road trip through irony and life inspection will relish
originally creative tone and hard-hitting accusations and realizations
of Spirituality for Badasses Book Two.
Return to Index
Quanzhou, Past and Present
William N. Brown
9789811980350 $58.50 Hardcover/$49.99 Paper
Marco Polo's departure port and Columbus' goal in China. It fostered
Maritime Silk Road and, perhaps more importantly, was centuries ahead
time in fostering tolerance and diversity among its populace, housing
alongside Christian, Hindu, Taoist, and Jewish spiritual centers. Splendors of Quanzhou, Past and Present
this city (now a World Heritage site) and its culture, from early to
readers care about this place? Because it's not just a singular piece
Chinese history or a world wonder, but a representation of
cultural, and social ideals that can serve as a mirror of achievement
possibility for developing nations around the world.
spent three decades in China, traveling the country and speaking with
and exploring every aspect of the city's history and culture. His
which began in 1989, documented the city's balanced approach to
heritage while becoming a forceful example of success for the 21st
anticipate the tone of this survey will limit its audience to scholars
will be delighted to discover these travels lend to a lively
style which juxtaposes Chinese historical and cultural insights with
experiences, from shopping to Quanzhou's world-famous puppets.
travel experiences, personal reflections, and sidebars of additional
information create a rare combination of travelogue and study which
accessible to a large audience, from readers interested in studying
culture in general and Quanzhou in particular to travelers who will
encounters perfect armchair reading.
Splendors of Quanzhou, Past and Present's
multifaceted approach and
depth lends to its consideration by a variety of library collections,
college-level holdings seeking in-depth explorations of China's history
cities to general-interest libraries that will discover the
cover masks an appealing survey filled with not just information, but
personal encounters. These will educate and attract general-interest
those attracted to cities that practice diversity and tolerance.
attraction is that it has done so for centuries, long before the
inclusion become contemporary and widely supported.
Return to Index
Pamela G Kennedy
$13.99 Hardcover/$7.99 Paperback/$2.99 ebook
Tea Attitudes: A Blend of
Tea, Life &
Faith blends tea-themed anecdotes
with Scripture verses, providing readers of faith with an experience of
afternoon teas drawn from the author's own tearoom traditions and
with family and friends.
with which the stories are steeped will appeal to Bible readers who
testimonies of faith in life encounters that translate easily to daily
permeate these spiritual connections with a sense of place, purpose,
perspective to link social and cultural encounters with the deeper
"Raised in the Southern
US, I am accustomed to hearing the
occasional “ma’am.” But milady made
me feel special. This French term was appropriated by the English for
addressing noblewomen. I am neither French nor English, and not of
Instead of protesting my lack of aristocracy, I appreciated the moment
thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the afternoon. I reflected later how
undeserved respect was similar to the undeserved grace God has extended
through Christ. Would I relish being termed a “child of God” as much as
perked up at being referred to as milady?
On a less superficial level, that answer is yes."
Pamela G Kennedy adopts a confiding tone of
discovery in many of these reflections, which lends a warm feel to the
"Because each of us is
created for a
unique ministry, there is no cause to compare or compete with others’
fact, it would be impossible. God alone sees our true motivations and
This cultivates a personal touch that links God's
daily actions, encounters, and cross-connections in life that move from
to social encounters, awkwardness, and awakening.
From experiences of self-consciousness in social
to the process of making choices and taking chances, the juxtaposition
spiritual with psychological and social inspection creates a dialogue
examination and revelation that warms the heart as much as the teatime
Readers seeking an inspirational connection between
events and spiritual concerns will find the quotes and reflections of Tea Attitudes the perfect blend, highly
recommended for Christian readers and spiritual libraries serving them.
Return to Index
$24.95 hardcover/$19.95 paperback/$9.99 ebook
Time Served is a memoir written by a retired Correctional Captain who worked in the California prison system for over twenty years, and is highly recommended reading for anyone interested in the daily activities and nuts and bolts of the modern American prison system.
memoir is particularly notable in two ways: T.L.
Cromwell is a Black female in a system dominated by male correctional
and she covers the process of overseeing inmates in contrast to the
stories written by those who have done time behind bars. Having an
the other side of the bars provides many eye-opening insights that will
especially valuable to students of law, justice, and those aiming for
the correctional system.
important note is that Cromwell worked in some of
the toughest prisons in the nation. This background lends further
her story, which navigates the social and political issues of
prison and dealing with inmates as a female in a decidedly
story opens with Cromwell's childhood and the candid
note that she never saw herself being in the position she wound up in
adult: "Nobody says they want to
work in prison when they grow up. Who would want to be a prison guard?
certainly didn’t. I wanted to be what all kids say they want to be when
grow up: a doctor, a lawyer, a social worker, or maybe even a teacher."
Growing up in the 'concrete jungles' of Los Angeles, however, Cromwell knew many who were incarcerated. When, as an adult, she divorced and was faced with raising a daughter alone, Cromwell was determined to obtain a job that paid well, keeping them out of poverty and the cycles she'd seen too many fellow women fall into as single mothers.
search for a stable career kept leading her back to
corrections work. It was a job she would excel in, grow and learn from,
ultimately would share with the world in this memoir of her
dovetails the routines and requirements of the prison system with
inmate/correctional officer relationships and the dangerous
undercurrents that often affect and direct them.
Cromwell's eyes, readers learn of these threats and the
reactions that saved her career and life. The psychological insights
only impeccably described, but offer rare insights into the dangers of
prison system that go well beyond physical violence and into the
"Inmates had 365
days to focus on us; to find any little thing they think they can use
manipulate us. It is insidious and before you know it you have fallen
their trap. When they target you, they usually start small by being
jovial, and very complimentary. If they work for you, they make sure
the best job they can while putting you at ease in their presence. They
you to think they are different from any other inmate you have ever
Lulling you into a false sense of security and pushing you to lower
They attempt to get you to do something small, something seemingly
that you know you’re not supposed to do, just this one time, just for
Nobody will ever know. It will be just between you and him."
so than almost any other prison system title, Cromwell
provides an invaluable and rare look at inmate relationships and how
affected by imprisonment.
of prison systems and justice issues, as well as
anyone thinking of entering this milieu who wonders what these daily
translate to in terms of motivation and experiences, will find that Time Served pulls no punches in
revealing all the underlying emotional challenges of the job. It
correctional officer's job and relationships in many different ways.
Time Served should ideally be included in general-interest collections, inner city libraries, and any library strong in books about social issues. It should also be used as debate material in classes and book clubs examining prison system operations and experiences.Time Served
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Alexandra J. Kuisis
$23.56 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Truth Matters Love Wins: A Memoir of Choosing Faith
over Fear in the
Face of False Accusations tells of a happily married woman
who seems to
have everything until she is accused, out of the blue, of committing
felony crimes and comes to realize the depth of betrayal and falsehoods
by someone close to her.
into a pursuit for justice opens with a doorbell ring in 2016, an
which is especially impossible considering her commitment to children
education, and the realization that other seemingly innocent
mistakes have actually been purposeful attempts to sully her name and
reaction is in keeping with her innate response to any trouble or
challenge: "This is so me, to be immediately
searching for a deeper meaning or bigger purpose mere nanoseconds into
confusing or troubling situation." In this case, she quickly
realize that the accusation is more than a mistake. It's a set-up that
challenges her life ambitions and convictions in the cruelest way
miring Alexandra J. Kuisis in a legal and psychological struggle that
ability to both survive and regain control over her life.
Why would a
with an "overflowing heart," whom she loves, entrap her with a lie
that could commit her to prison for life?
challenges the accusation and navigates unfamiliar legal territory, she
struggles to maintain an attitude and perspective that will not only
but reveal the truth. “There is no force more powerful than a
determined to rise.”
justice and contemplates various avenues for achieving it, family and
relationships fall under the eye of assumptions and suspicion as she
difficult realizations that "...it
turns out not everyone is interested in hearing what I have to say
making me the villain, and that’s confusing for a justice-driven person
myself. If only they understood,
if only they’d listen, if
they knew… Alas, I remind
myself I can only walk my line, tell my truth, and rest assured that
keeping very close tabs on what’s going on around here. What doesn’t
the truth has no choice but to fall away eventually."
falsely accused, any who harbor a love of children and family, and
interested in how the wheels of justice come off and are thwarted by
conflicts will find Truth Matters Love
Wins a powerful lesson in perseverance, faith, and
Truth Matters Love Wins is a riveting
memoir that deserves a
prominent place in libraries interested in issues of family, justice
processes, and psychological entanglements that pose unprecedented
to ordinary individuals living their lives and reflecting their values.
"Sometimes karmic return takes lifetimes. Sometimes
instant." The gratification of the lessons presented in this
memoir is immediate, raw, and thoroughly compelling.
Return to Index
Cultivating Erotic Intimacy to Keep Passion and Desire Alive is testimony to the notion that monogamy
translates to eventual boredom in the bedroom and other rooms of the
relationship house, as well.
It provides keys to mitigating the impact of
a long-term commitment by reintroducing the spicy elements of surprise
often the hallmarks of a new sexual relationship, tailoring these to
long-haulers who are committed not only to each other exclusively, but
notion that passion can be maintained, extended, and ignited in any
relationship no matter how long its duration.
Readers might anticipate some of these
exercises and their focus, but the real surprise lies in a close
underlying barriers to sexuality and relationships. These range from
to negative self-perceptions. Mali Apple and Joe Dunn promote a method
just transcending these emotions, but taking control of their power and
them to foster new erotic connections in a relationship.
Monogamy directs readers to the
process of identifying
and working with their responses and emotions to encourage a greater
psychological and sexual connection with their partner, rather than
elsewhere to fill the gaps.
With its focus on conditioning, thought
patterns, and physical and mental impacts on relationships, Wild
provides not just ideals, but solutions to common problems.
Stories of others in similar situations who
harnessed the power and promise of new relationship approaches form the
foundations of an example-driven approach:
stories that follow, you’ll see examples of how couples have decided
what kinds of encounters might be right for them. In particular, notice
they support each other through any insecurity or jealousy, as well as
their awareness and intentions help to ensure their experiences are
for all. And unlike options that are often designed to keep emotional
connection to a minimum, such as swinging, sex clubs, or sex parties,
that these stories involve intimacy on all levels: physical,
intellectual/creative, emotional, and even spiritual.
Monogamy's promise to monogamous
couples rests on
the premise that both participants are interested in considering
changes designed to promote the longevity and passion of their
willing to do this kind of work, and
libraries supporting them with materials that encourage it, will find Wild
Monogamy a lesson in better living. It takes the latest
research on sex and
love and translates it into ideas and experiences any couple can learn
tapping the healing power of eroticism to transform individuals
Return to Index
Compassion Project Press
978-1-7386778-4-9 $18.99 Hardcover
Children Who Dance in the Rain is based
on true events and presents
the picture book story of Sophie, who wakes up reluctant to go to
does she need to learn about the world, anyway?
But get up
does—and proceeds to reject the usual healthy trappings of her morning
breakfast (fruit and vitamins—but the chocolate chip pancakes are
before setting out to school. A rainy sky leads her to request her
her, and at lunch she scarfs her grilled cheese sandwich, but leaves
receives about privilege and gratitude don't seem to apply to her at
a family trip to visit a grandmother in India reveals many surprises
Sophie to think about both concepts as they relate to her life.
poverty, cleanliness, and health (which contrast heavily between India
own life), Sophie begins to understand the different ways of not just
but seeing beauty in the world and making the most of life
without toys? How can they be happy in a third world setting mired in
offering so few opportunities?
in Children Who Dance in the Rain
invaluable not just because of their intrinsic importance, but because
picture books tackle this expansive subject.
Justice does an
especially good job of transitioning young readers from Sophie's
world and her rejection of its benefits to her realization that India
places hold very different kinds of opportunities and lessons that lead
children to exhibit kindness and generosity even under adverse
Illustrator Lena Bardy adds colorful and thought-provoking images to
Sophie's story to life.
discussing and profiling these values to young people cannot be
character who is selfish and unaware and introducing her to a foreign
environment where children with less opportunities still cultivate
joy, Justice presents the kinds of life lessons essential for not just
understanding, but encouraging valuable dialogue in family and
Children Who Dance in the Rain's
importance in connecting ideas of
first-world privilege with third-world realities makes for a powerful
that should be on the shelves of any library seeking picture books that
encourage insights about economics, kindness, privilege, and sharing.
Return to Index
tells the story of a boy who has a special talent—being disgusting.
takes many forms, from farts and obnoxious noises to never washing his
clothes, stinky sock fights, blowing snot bubbles, and eating with
His special talent, which
receives vividly fun
illustrations by Lesley Vamos, never ceases to amuse his friends, and
in their laughter. However, this admiration leads to increasingly gross
in order to gain more attention and laughter, until one day Justin's
disgusting pranks backfire on him, spectacularly.
Justin Frank creates a
picture book filled with action,
memorable moments, and insights about attention-seeking children and
Parents who choose this fun
book for read-aloud will find
plenty of opportunity to reinforce lessons on friendship, respect, and
transformation as Justin undergoes a sea change and makes discoveries
friendships, humor and values.
Libraries seeking picture
books which are both hilarious
and thought-provoking will find Disgusting
Justin an original and fun acquisition; especially since most
include a child who acts out much like Justin.
Return to Index
A Dispelling of Darkness
Joyce L. Miller
978-0-9886440-8-3 $11.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
Teens who choose A
Dispelling of Darkness for its promise of time-travel
mystery will find the novel holds so much as it crafts the story of
twelve-and-a-half-year-old Pearline Jayne Profitt ("PJ") and her
Layered into the story of time travel and a classic
between good and evil are real-life encounters with class bullies, a
relationship with a contentious younger brother, a father who has
himself from their lives, and a powerful invading force that threatens
everything she knows.
PJ is forced to confront "The thing that wasn't
right" to gain clues to possible avenues of resolution that force her,
time and again, to face a powerful evil that seems beyond her abilities
Aided by a Peruvian shaman and an eccentric
confronts tribal experiences, the devastation of the land, and issues
environmental degradation and conservation as she struggles to win an
impossible war that takes place on multifaceted playing fields.
Libraries and teen readers looking for stories that
beyond time travel adventure alone to embrace underlying concerns of
environmental activism, friendship and family relationships, and
empowerment will find all these features come to life in A
Dispelling of Darkness.
The darkness, in this case, isn't just in
around her, but in the history and processes of a world PJ feels ill
to confront at her age—but which, in reality, she is ultimately
A Dispelling of Darkness
ideally will join library collections looking for a blend
of adventure with bigger-picture thinking on teen activism, and will
central to book club discussions about teen involvement, choices, and
Return to Index
Dumpster Dogs: Rescue and Delivery Mission
continues the story of
rescue animals, illustrating how their efforts to "pay it forward"
result in new missions, dilemmas, and satisfactions in life. It will
chapter book readers who enjoy stories of canines that combine
life lessons about love and friendship connections.
leads the Dumpster Dogs from the first book into new territory as they
what happens to abandoned animals and covers their perceptions of human
involvement in events that create 'dumpster dogs' in the first place.
drawings by Jack Varonin bring simple, fun illustration to the story.
still has nightmares
about his hard life in Dumpster City, even though he now enjoys a warm
after years of cold and hunger. These memories lead him into a new
he and his fellow rescued Dumpster Dogs wonder what happens to the less
fortunate dogs that don't have humans to love.
past adversities, the fortune he and his friends enjoy in their new
the possibilities of other lost dogs, Riley, friend Gus, and the group
the hard problem of helping other Dumpster Dogs who have a hard life
on the streets.
convoluted, the dogs get their day in court (literally) as a host of
become involved in either solving or perpetuating the issues
dumpsters that have proved life-saving opportunities for street animals
pursue Dumpster Dogs: Rescue and Delivery
will find it embedded with important messages about caring, giving,
fortune in the face of misfortune, and helping others. Adults who
embark on the
read with their young ones will find Dumpster
Dogs the perfect encouragement for discussions about
and paying it forward.
examinations blend with a survey about helping abandoned animals and
understanding the circumstances that led them into this kind of life,
many powerful themes and discussion points for group or parent/child
will find Dumpster Dogs: Rescue and Delivery
a fine survey of not only animal issues, but the broader message of
following through on purpose and happiness in healing life endeavors.
Return to Index
Facing the Beast Within
978-1-7358781-6-4 $9.99 Print/$3.99 ebook
Middle grade fantasy readers who select Facing the Beast Within: The Anxiety of
Cameron Poole will find this first book in the Order of the
Stones series a
compelling adventure filled with monsters, bullies, and a summer to
Cameron Poole has enough problems between his
somehow being a draw for bullying, but when he discovers that mythical
are invading his camp, forcing him to try to stop them, even more
Cameron and a ragged band of resisters find
resisting Malphas, a demon who is bringing his monster army to the camp
an invasion route, despite the fact that Cameron has his own inner
Mark Cheverton builds a fascinating story that
fantasy monsters as well as struggles with inner anxieties. He flavors
gripping external fantasy scenario with insights into internal
nightmares in a
story of magical realism which contains many recognizable emotional
young readers can relate to from the start:
"Fear nibbled with sharp
teeth on the
edges of my soul as I scanned Camp Pontchartrain's dining room hall,
for the bully who would surely notice me."
The lessons Cameron receives on taking control of
refusing to yield, and employing strengths that come from knowledge,
and conviction are compelling. These come from a high school physics
teacher author who consulted with a large team of psychologists, social
workers, and licensed mental health counselors to learn about anxiety
it is treated.
This expertise, combined with his son's own
tailor the experiences and insights that make Facing
the Beast Within an exceptional read.
Middle graders and libraries catering to them who
choose Facing the Beast Within for
realism and fantasy adventure premise will thus find plenty of fodder
and book club discussion about the roots of anxiety and how it can be
addressed, making Facing the Beast Within
a top recommendation both for its entertainment value and for its
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I Am the Tree's lovely picture book message stems from author Kelly Bauer's personal experiences during a retreat in nature, and sports an especially provocative opening about an ordinary girl who longs to lead a different life:
"Once there was a girl. She felt like an ordinary girl even though people often told her she was an extra-ordinary girl. She longed for adventure, freedom, and love. She wanted to dance and create and invent things. But instead, she lived an ordinary life."
The young protagonist feels stuck in her world, which has become a scary place to her.
As Kelly Bauer and Stella Maris explore this young girl's perceptions, reactions, and attempts to rise above adversity, there are plenty of vivid opportunities for parents to teach the very young about the process of adaptation and perseverance on a different level than most picture book stories provide.
The girl flees into nature, where she bathes in its rejuvenating countenance: "She looked up to the sky, opened her mouth, and stuck out her tongue to taste the rain drops… they were like little drops of magic."
Her experiences and ability to tap natural wonders to return a sense of possibility into her own stuck life translates to a simple but powerful message all adults should place at the top of their interactive reading lists with the very young.
I Am the Tree may be one of the best picture book reads of 2023 to date. Its extraordinary power reaches adult and child minds on many levels and its reflections promise new interactive experiences, discussions, and life lessons.
Any library interested in provocative, wide-ranging messages for all ages will find I Am the Tree absolutely compelling, while parents and individuals will consider it worthy of personal collection keepsake status, to pass down between generations:
"When she got to it, she hugged the tree. She pressed her face into it. It felt like a hug from all that she knew love should be. The tree asked her to sit and stay for a while. To rest. To forget about all that she was running from. She needed that. And she couldn’t explain it, but this felt more real than anything she had ever known before."I Am the Tree
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In One Life and Out Another
$5.99 Kindle/13.99 Paper/$24.99 Hardcover/Audio forthcoming
In One Life and Out Another
is a coming-of-age story that is unusual in its
'either/or' contrasts of action and reaction experienced by teen Marin,
parents are divorcing. The day her life split, her parents were doing
rare—actively fighting instead of building a wall of silence and
Marin's story opens with an unusual twist on Robert
poem of possibilities, which is interlaced with a Russian legend: "There is a story that lays a course of
two roads diverged in a yellow wood. If you ride to the left, you'll
horse, but to the right it will be your head."
In this case, Marin's very different movements
joint-custody parents split not just her time, but her life's
The story is narrated in the first-person, but
curious approach in juxtaposing different possibilities with the same
a backdrop, from dinner at her mother's house and the kind of
have to friends, romantic possibilities, and growing older.
The back-and-forth nature of these alternate worlds
Marin's split life and decisions takes a few chapters to get used to,
reward from pursuing this story lies in its rich contrast between
attitudes, developments, and possibilities that develop from the same
Marin's pursuit of dance school, handling her
mother, and moments that serve as forks in the road of possibility are
presented in delightful chapters that capture Marin's split objectives,
quandaries, and choices.
Tired of being her best friend's "doormat" and of
the forces that pull at her life and heart, Marin learns to navigate
alternatives in the course of contrasting the disparate options created
romance and adulthood.
J. Mercer's intriguing story of a teen's growth and
realizations about herself, her parents, and her choices holds special
for teens interested in examining their relationships and possibilities
crafting different responses with changed outcomes.
It's a warm story of a girl who stands at more than
crossroads in her life and uses the daily encounters of school,
and parents as foundations in flux to consider revised perceptions of
Libraries and readers seeking coming-of-age stories
probe the effect outer forces as well as personal intention have on
will find In One Life and Out Another
rich in thought-provoking moments that are ripe for teen and new adult
club discussion and debate.
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Sharpe & the Pirates
Gary R. Bush
Three Ocean Press
adults and adult readers who look for high adventure
and an 1800s setting involving pirates will find Jamie Sharpe & the Pirates
of Barbary a
story that tells of former shipmates taken captive by brutal pirates.
of the prior Jamie
Sharpe story, Seas of Treachery,
find that old enemies emerge to challenge the friends, albeit with new
strengths and weaknesses: "Jamie
walked off. Horace seems to have grown a bit, he mused. Geoff is still
small tyrant he's always been."
kidnappings and slavery to
the politics of a world affected by seafarers, pirates, and struggles
wealth and control, Gary R. Bush brings to life the 1800s, in which
the Mediterranean and around the world struggled with pirates that
their own nefarious agendas.
daily life on the high
seas to Jamie's increasing realization that he needs to do something
influence the American Navy's projected attack on Tripoli, history
life in a series of adventures and encounters that pit Jamie against
beyond his control.
he evolves a relationship
with Claire that involves redemption and money, he also cultivates a
sense of the world and his place in it.
and readers looking
for historical fiction infused with pirate action and political and
insights will find Jamie Sharpe & the
Pirates of Barbary replete with a fast pace and satisfying
action that does
not require prior familiarity with either the prior book or the times.
search for a way out of
the dilemmas that ensnare him in issues of slavery, freedom, and
struggles makes for an involving, action-packed adventure that educates
Jamie Sharpe & the Pirates of Barbary
is a vivid story that will resonate with the clash of
swords and ideas, ideally sparking lively discussion and debate in
fiction book club circles, as well as young adult readers.
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Julian Blooms, Julian is a tiny
peacock who tries to play games
with his larger brothers, but finds his small size constantly thwarts
ambitions, leading him to regularly hide in the banyan tree.
wise mother consoles him
that he will grow into special abilities, but Julian is doubtful. Her
message to him (“Julian, you are
wonderful. You’ll bloom when you’re ready.”) falls on deaf
ears as the
seasons pass. Eventually, Julian's older brothers fly away, leaving him
with his mother.
day, trouble comes for
them. With a strong desire to save his mother from danger, Julian
his bloom at last—just in the nick of time.
Fox has created a simple
yet captivating picture book that adults can easily use to help address
child's insecurities about their abilities and potential for growth.
Bailey provides lovely
illustrations that bring Julian's personality to life in appealing ways.
and readers seeking
picture book stories that provide a message of encouragement will find Julian Blooms a delightful story of
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Maybe There Are Witches
Fitzroy Books/Regal House Publishing
9781646033645 $14.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Maybe There Are Witches
will appeal to middle grade readers interested in haunting
stories of the supernatural and in an ordinary girl's extraordinary
thwart a destructive prediction made by a 19th century witch.
Clara Hutchins discovers that her ancestor was
hanged as a
witch when she moves to a tiny village and absorbs its history,
her family heritage. The mysteries in a house that holds creepy dolls,
diary of a long-dead relative, and portents of Clara's future that keep
true drive her to search for answers. As a newcomer in Biskopskulla,
the scenarios feel far from her California upbringing as well as her
anticipation of what it will be like to move to a tiny town of 140
Clara is determined to make the best of things.
Her positive attitude against all odds is part of
attraction of a story that follows her into mysteries, supernatural
and unexpected friendships with two of the strangest boys in school.
Middle grade readers receive a compelling story of
who persists in finding answers and thus begins to realize her hidden
and powers. As Jude Atwood reveals the possibilities of Clara's future
impact of her present-day choices, history and psychology come into
flavor a realistic, gripping story that's hard to put down.
Woven into these supernatural possibilities is the
real impact of attitude and perception which helps Clara and her
their horizons and choose actions to mitigate what feels like
Atwood is especially skilled at connecting the dots
the kinds of choices that keep Clara's latest move on track with a
"The last time she started
at a new
school, she didn’t even talk to anyone for the first two months, and
felt ready to (barely) acknowledge her new classmates, they already had
of practice ignoring her. For the entire year, her mom kept encouraging
her to make a fresh start,
but Clara just withdrew—and
grew more miserable. She was determined not to let that happen again in
Biskopskulla! This was a new home…even if it didn’t feel like it yet."
Clara's integration into her past, present and
incorporates many keys to adaptation and proactive thinking and action
middle grade readers will absorb in the course of enjoying a
Libraries and readers will find Maybe
There Are Witches
hauntingly provocative. It’s a story whose strengths lie as much on
developments and emotional growth as they do on vivid action,
twists, and passages that contrast bigger-picture thinking with the
of daily life experience. It's perfect for individual reading and book
"The enormity of what they
hit her like a wave of cold water. The stakes were high: “Untold
die. But what they were doing, and what they were attempting to do…?
This was magic. People died
for this stuff.
People killed for this stuff. Her great-great-great-grandmother had
that the hard way. On top of all that, she’d lied to her mom."
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Beaver’s Pond Press
explores family dynamics for picture book readers through the unusual
perspective of a family minivan charged with carrying his passengers
changes and life, and will be appreciated by any child attracted to
vehicles and family journeys.
The minivan narrator thinks his name is "Let's,"
because references to his activities always involve "Let's go." The
minivan's relationship with the family begins with them acquiring him
forward to accommodate their growth. New roles must be adopted, from
(to the hospital for a birth) to security truck (as the parents bring
Think the animated fun of the movie Cars,
but with deeper messages about changing needs and purposes as
the minivan narrator moves his family around and assumes different
their lives, as needed.
Kevin Cannon's colorful illustrations are
whimsical, and attractive as Mark Therrien explores the world of a
Read-aloud adults and elementary-level libraries
picture books that hold underlying messages about flexibility,
purpose will find The Megavan a fun
read that moves through a family's growth and support systems with an
tone and vivid illustration of family connections.
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The Noble Adventures of
Beryl & Carol
$17.13 Hardcover/$9.79 Paper/$3.67 Kindle
Adventures of Beryl & Carol is a coming-of-age story
twelve-year-old best friends who live in England in 1997. The story
the duo running from bullies, a common occurrence in their lives which
The only way to elude the
bullies is by entering the
Forbidden Forest, where Beryl and Carol “jump off the edge of the
into the biggest adventure of their lives.
Jeremy Sherr creates a
compelling, action-packed story
that draws readers deeply into the forest's secrets as the girls burrow
from their tormenters and into another world entirely. He captures the
atmosphere of an area avoided by adults and children alike, fueling the
imaginations with descriptive allure: "Every
crackle became a smuggler; every snap became a murderer, every crunch
Fifteen years earlier, a
disaster in the woods reinforced
its reputation in the community as a dangerous place. As the girls
navigate unfamiliar territory and even discover unexpected beauty in a
which harbors a bad reputation, the secrets unfold to embrace readers
special form of compelling magic.
Beryl and Carol have broken
every rule they've grown up
with by entering the forest and becoming lost. Even when they return
find their new discoveries imparts a rare courage into their lives
reinforces their friendship and gives them the creative impetus to
situation, as each challenge and decision they face leads to further
discoveries and adventure.
Between the mystery of a boy
who entered the forest and
never returned to how the girls build a new strategy for handling the
that have overshadowed their lives for years, Sherr's story resonates
different levels of intrigue, action, integrity, and psychological
The likeable characters of
Beryl and Carol, their
motivations for taking risks and absorbing the surprises this brings,
revised realizations about life from tackling puzzles and problems
makes for a
story that lures with fantasy, but tackles real-world situations kids
The Noble Adventures of Beryl & Carol holds the ability to attract a wide audience of advanced elementary to middle grade readers who will find the characters nicely done, the adventures operating on more than one level, and the realizations and courage that evolve from a touch of magic and risk-taking to be thought-provoking and fun. The book is a fun read for adults as well, and parents will appreciate the good values it promotes.
As Carol’s father writes:
act of strength leads to another act of strength
Every act of weakness leads to another act of weakness
Courage begets courage
Fear breeds fear."
Libraries will find The
Noble Adventures of Beryl & Carol fulfills its
promise of adventure,
injecting a learning experience into the story that will stay with
readers and fuel discussions about friendship and transformation.
today is the science of tomorrow.”
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Piki Goes Flying
Joan M. Hellquist
$19.95 Hardcover/$12.95 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
The second book in the
series about Piki the Service Dog
will appeal to picture book animal lovers and those who enjoy stories
aviation. The story is narrated from Piki's perspective as she is
Joan to lie quietly under a chair in preparation for their upcoming
Piki, of course, does not
know the meaning behind these
instructions, but she follows directions well. She is a Service Dog
efforts are reinforced by Joan's training and by routines that assure
be part of the magic of journeys, and not left behind.
Joan M. Hellquist creates a fine story filled with details about Piki's training and exposure to unfamiliar sights and sounds. Piki is not just obedient—she has questions about what she observes and how she's being trained to act. Through her eyes, young readers receive important keys to the training process and how Service Dogs operate.
The step-by-step process of
getting a dog through the airport,
including security, is told with a winning eye to capturing all the
from the dog's viewpoint:
the other side of the doorway wanted me to go through the doorway to
without Joan. I didn’t know this man, why should I go to him? Joan
want me to go through so she handed the end of the plastic loop to the
looked like he wasn’t sure what to do. Then he stepped back and I went
the doorway with no door."
Libraries and adults looking
for stories that educate all
ages about Service Dog training, activities, and methods of support
will find Piki Goes Flying an
illustration of all these subjects. It includes practical
embarking on air travel with a Service Dog, offers insights on what
distinguishes a Service Animal from a pet, and reviews airline rules
Readers and libraries will
find Piki Goes Flying educational
as well as entertaining, filled with
illustrations and examples that personalize the experience of flying
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978-1645480891 $16.95 Hardcover/$5.99 ebook
Rain Falling on Embers follows the
struggles of thirteen-year-old
Katie McCabe, whose life changes when her father falls ill and she's
to live with an uncle she doesn't know. When her father then dies,
becomes part of a whirlwind of alienation and grief that is complicated
revised living situation and the challenges it brings.
Katie was a
troublemaker when her dad was the town's sheriff. Her penchant for
hasn't abated, but without her role in the town and her family
is lost, with only her obstinate ways contributing to her survival on
narrated in the first person, which allows young readers entry into her
processes as her initial rebellions (designed to earn her a ticket
into facing a bigger picture than she'd ever imagined. Eventually she
her rebellion to call on as a source of inner strength in deeper times
trouble: “I decided on my own not to do
things the McCabe way anymore."
reality of her father's death and Uncle Charlie struggles with his new
the guardian of a girl who apparently cheats and lies, the definition
and survival come into play to further test Katie's actions and
find in Katie a rebellious spirit that masks an underlay of grief and
and will relish her ability to survive new circumstances and demands
different reactions to life.
As Rain Falling on Embers follows Katie's
adaptation and spunky response to adversity, it proves a solid
only for elementary-level libraries and readers seeking a blend of
and psychological insight, but for preteen book discussion circles,
find much to actively debate from Katie's choices and experiences.
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Sky, the Deaf Home
Third Culture Books
$19.99 Hardcover/$9.99 Paperback/$4.99 Kindle
choose Sky, the Deaf Home Run Hero will
find it a fine story of baseball,
bullies, and problem-solving. Deaf boy Sky loves to play baseball, and
discovers that his superpower is hitting home runs. Not hearing enables
focus on the ball in a way hearing children cannot.
The presence of the
and their impact on his life
arrives, like his superpower, without warning as Sky realizes his
skill and immediately decides to deploy it for the greater good,
goal that "With every home run a
bully becomes a friend." Since he is not experiencing
himself, this declaration of power seems to arrive out of the blue.
But Sky is aware of the presence and impact of bullies on others around him, and, like a superhero, is determined to use his special talent to thwart them.
winning illustrations that
capture Sky's growth as he steps into a new role beyond merely winning
Being deaf doesn't
nor does his lack of verbal
prowess. He must develop additional skills to win these bullies over
their harmful activities, and the meat of the book revolves around the
problem-solving, courage, and message that being deaf does not limit
powers or perspectives.
Parents who seek to
in deaf children the
realization that a lack of hearing won't limit their choices in the
find Sky, the Deaf Home Run Hero invites
important discussions about courage, achievement, and translating one's
personal ambitions and success into strategies for supporting others.
Its important lessons on values and making the world a better place supports individual effort and responses to bullying, making Sky, the Deaf Home Run Hero a top choice for all young readers as they navigate life and face adversity with courage and strength.Sky, the Deaf Home Run Hero
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Stephenie Wilson Peterson
979-8-9860737-4-3 $9.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
provides advanced elementary to early middle grade readers with the
story of an
eleven-year-old who looks much younger due to his stunted growth
Silas is a "small fry" whose attitude earns him
respect from some of his classmates, but whose stature attracts bullies
His entry into middle school, at only 52 pounds and
inches tall, brings him into a milieu which holds much potential, both
teasing and for building a personality which is bigger than the body
contains it. This determination comes to life when he and his new
band are bullied by a group determined to enter into school politics.
needs to represent the browbeaten and little guys! And that someone
might as well
School encounters aren't the only driving force in Small Fry. Also at odds is his believed
grandfather's diminishing mental acuity, which challenges Silas in new
leads him to realize that his grandfather won't always be there to
When tragedy strikes, Silas is forced to tap his
independence and problem-solving abilities to step up to adult
situations: "Something was wrong. Something
very wrong, and I couldn’t get in touch with any of the adults in my
This concurrent story of handling bullies, aging
ones, and life challenges will attract young readers who find their own
struggles evolving on different playing fields at home and in school.
Stephenie Wilson Peterson's first-person story is
evocative because Silas both acknowledges his limitations and embarks
strategies to rise above them. Despite the lemons life hands him, he
within himself an ability to act and react creativity and effectively,
his story will resonate with middle graders encountering their own
The result is an engrossing story of a small fry, a
personality, and a growth process that leads Silas to unexpected
about life and his place in it. Middle-grade readers and libraries
them will find Small Fry a big
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Aditi Wardhan Singh
Raising World Children LLC
$19.99 Hardcover/$9.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
through the experiences of Indian girl Tanvi, who faces the challenge
talent show with the conviction that she doesn't have a talent that can
well, in comparison to others.
advises her to "use part of your culture" in exploring her options,
but Tanvi still struggles with a presentation idea that will sparkle
friends find good things in even her flawed attempts, leading Tanvi to
that "Everyone sees sparkles in
explores important messages that parents can use to inject positivity
wisdom into a young child's life and experiences. Colorful
Noor Alshalabi capture the Indian culture as helpful parents both teach
assist Tanvi in her efforts.
as a disparate group joins in to help Tanvi learn and succeed, which is
important theme in a story that sparkles in and of itself.
Libraries and read-aloud adults looking for culturally inclusive picture books that cover Indian celebrations, art, and bigger-picture insights about working together to achieve goals and recognizing each individual's "inner sparkle" will find the vivid messages and celebratory feel of
The Sparkles Within powerful. It promotes
understanding, empowering youngsters to not only recognize their inner
abilities, but tap into support systems around them for mutual
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The Book of Galatéa
Hilverloo Publishing House
979-8-9876999-0-4 $19.99 Hardcover/$6.99 ebook
Middle grade fantasy readers ages 9-12 will appreciate Tzia: The Book of Galatéa for its compelling and original story of a girl called upon to step into her destiny as a witch—especially since illustrator Zsófia Ötvös has added an extra touch of visual draw with black and white drawings that bring Sanamon's characters to life.
Fourteen-year-old Galatéa lives on the Greek island
Tzia, home not just to herself and her three sisters, but a legacy of
involvement spanning nearly four hundred years. One sister in each
of this family is tasked with a quest that leads her to absorb her
well-kept secrets and real identity.
The story is actually told from the perspective of
Galatéa’s future daughter Theo, on her own fourteenth birthday, and so
the adventures of not just a single person, but a family of powerful
Sanamon's unusual device in moving from observer to
participant creates compelling scenes as the story unfolds:
"... she heard an
unexpected but welcome
sound—a laugh so loud and carefree that it made her smile. She turned
wagon and saw four baby girls, two by two, side by side. She could
familiar scents. All four looked up at her as if they could see her.
saw her sisters. She saw herself! She was looking straight into her own
and felt goose bumps up and down her spine."
As the story progresses, young readers come to
the threats not only come from the evil ancestors, the Vicious, but
whose identities are more hidden (and thus their powers more dangerous)
anything Galatéa could have imagined from her future.
The island she thought she knew well embraces
delights, but holds a dangerous undercurrent she discovers during the
her journey, which brings a powerful lion into her world much like
Aslan in the
classic The Lion, the Witch, and the
The result is a study in wonder, adventure, and
will delight middle grade fantasy readers looking for something akin to
Lewis's classic, but far more layered in a form of magical realism that
juxtaposes elements of fantasy with reality.
Libraries and readers seeking a compelling
find this first introduction to the Land of the Lion to be magically
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The Widow's War is the third book in the
Defenders of Dembroch
series, and is highly recommended for prior teen fans of this fantasy
who have enjoyed the previous characters' encounters and exploits,
Arthurian legend surrounding the cursed kingdom of Dembroch.
Legend has it that only a child can break this curse. Robby and Lucy fit this requirement, and make it their mission to enter the forbidden land and confront its darkness. But as brother and sister enter The Timeless Kingdom of Dembroch, they come to realize that legend and courage are only part of the myths they'll face as they confront a devastation that is not part of the legends surrounding this strange land.
sacrifice to reach his grandkids and the legacy he gives them
mission to bring timelessness back to the realm and break the poison
through his veins. They need to do so at a young age, before adulthood
the door shut on their ability to save Dembroch. Also at stake is Lucy
Robby's ability to see their parents again (they are also lost).
Nick and his friends saved Dembroch while unwittingly delivering evil
door powers a prologue which nicely recaps past events while cementing
of action and adventure that lead grandkids Robby and Lucy, into
challenges beyond their familiar world.
immune to the curse, but he can't break it. Only a long night of blood
horror experienced by a young person will work. It looks like only
Lucy can enter this fray and possibly win.
prologue that sets past and present scenes evolves nicely into a
dialogue about The King's Killer and a confrontation that places Sir
in the position of being the final sacrifice in a festival of bloodshed
celebrated by murderers. Wry humor permeates his observations: "As the future third king of Dembroch,
I was one of them. Yea."
characters, from Lady Katya to Mudryy of Kitezh, Page Trey, and Meghan
with a mission to destroy Necrosis and harvest the trapped souls, and
Arthurian world of Merlin and his contemporaries receives fascinating
both build on the prior books and add further enlightenment and
the bigger picture of Dembroch's future and the forces pulling it apart.
instrumental in the fate of this war struggle with the forces both
and outside, chapters that shift the viewpoints between first and third
create an interplay of action and observation that come from different
creating a spectacle of action and explanation that enlightens readers
the political power struggles on all sides.
the action swift and the inspections thought-provoking through vivid
description and a "you are here" feel: "Necrosis
in my gut, Merlin on my mind, I arrived at the castle.
It no longer stood regally over the kingdom, but stuck out of the
the last teeth of a timeworn skull."
special purposes intersect, absorbing one another and evolving into
different, with the flavors of psychological and physical
transformation that permeate
this adventure bringing the story to life in unpredictable ways.
cautioned that newcomers expecting a fantasy tale steeped in Arthurian
tradition may be challenged by the epic nature of The
Widow's War. While Harris does a fine job of reminding past
readers about its history and setting, The
Widow's War is especially recommended for prior series fans
that have the
grounding of past events and characters to appreciate their
revised purposes in this conclusion to the story of friendships, magic,
Libraries and young adult to adult readers seeking an epic fantasy world that is powerfully rendered and which expands the Arthurian environment in unexpected ways will relish the depth and attraction of The Widow's War.The Widow's War
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