May 2016 Review Issue
Glory -- An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise
Crowning Glory -- An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise may initially sound like a psychological self-help read; but in actually it is an unusual memoir based on the author's experiment in wearing a number of wigs in New York City, assuming personas which change as often as hair color in the process of discovering who she is and how appearance changes psyches.
Her idea for this transformation didn't begin overnight with an Internet buying binge: all her life, Stacy Harshman felt defined by her hair … what it wasn't, and what it could or should have been. What began as a simple acknowledgement of the limitations on her life imposed by her self-image and longing for flowing locks ("… my hair has been my archenemy since seventh grade. There was never enough of it, and what I had was wimpy. It became the root of all my problems. If only my hair were better.") and her investigation of why bitterness had grown to permeate her psyche evolved into a determination to buy not just one wig, but to wear a series of changing wig colors (same style) and analyze changing reactions to her hair.
Her initial experiences after she dons her first wig ("Usually one brother sat in a catatonic daze up front, while the other kept an expressionless post at the back. Every week for two years, they had mumbled “Hi”, and had maybe managed sad smiles, but today, it was clear that neither twin recognized me. As I waited for the elevator, they shocked me with their cheery banter, awkward flirting, and giggles. Giggles! On my way out after the lesson, a UPS man offered me the package he was delivering as a gift, two young guys fought for the honor of opening a deli door for me, and one older dude looked back at the wrong moment and ran into a newspaper stand. What the hell was going on?") are dramatic and leads her into an unexpected exploration of the influence of hair in self-image and psychology.
Photos throughout do a terrific job of illustrating these colorful transformations as Harshman tells her story, adding visual impact to an unusual research process that weaves in and out of dating and personal relationships, the reactions of strangers, and how her hair affects all facets of her approach to life; whether it be on the dance floor, in internet cafes, or on the street.
Expect a lively romp through the dating world with plenty of opportunities for exploring the results of Harshman's changes. In the course of conducting these experiments, Harshman finds her own healing path through life, altering her world and finding a different kind of romance in the process.
Any reader who would consider the process and result of self-transformation will find Crowning Glory a lively, pointed story of what it means to change one's image and, consequently, one's life.Crowning Glory -- An Experiment in Self-Discovery Through Disguise
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Fathers We Find
Charles P. Ries
Bad Monk Productions
Author Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLK5wWJczEM
The Fathers We Find is a saga about the types of fathers, father figures, mentors, and leaders who influence and guide us as we move toward the wider world. These figures who are present throughout the narrative, offer fine insights into the importance of adults on a child's life and growth. It is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys spirited, vivid coming-of-age family sagas, spiced with an overlay of religious upbringing, close knit family, and small town interactions all resting upon the question of who it is that guides us to our best selves.
Readers should anticipate more than a light dose of humor and fun in the process of following Charles Ries's coming of age. They will find his vignettes uplifting and revealing. From mink yards and commercial fishing, to confession services and boyhood pranks gone awry.
It delivers exactly what its subtitle (The Making of a Pleasant, Humble Boy) promises: a memoir about the author, who grew up in Wisconsin on a mink farm whose life evolves from a small town, deeply catholic family, and moves to self-acceptance and a joy-filled life.
It's this drive, and the author's spunk and motivations, which create compelling and fun scenes that alternatively keep readers laughing and lead them to consider the various paths that one can take towards enlightenment. It's not a weighty philosophical piece. Its vignettes are revealing, and fun. It offers a lively blend of nostalgia, delightful characters, and the enjoyable evolution of a precocious boy who is rescued by a sea of family, friends, uncles, priests, and quirky characters who each guide him to a deeper sense of himself.The Fathers We Find
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India Charm Offensive: An Expat Pilot Flies the South Asia Jungle provides the humorous autobiography of a helicopter pilot who flew on government missions in India, and documents the author's first year in India when his culture shock was at its strongest.
Michael Sobotta was no stranger to other cultures: his helicopter work encompassed many countries. But his latest job, transporting Indian paramilitary troopers to remote camps in the jungle, challenges more than his piloting skills and is something quite different than routine passenger and cargo flying.
Sobotta's dreams of flying had never included India ("As a youngster, I never gave a thought to the idea that a backwoods country boy like me would ever set foot in India to fly helicopters. I'm sure there were teachers during my reckless school days who would have been surprised if I even found the country on a map. Goes to show that with the right inspiration and hard work, plus knowing the right people, a guy can get around.") and so his first days in the country are eye-opening and filled with charming, but at times, offensive experiences.
The bureaucratic process that permeates Indian society, shooting incidents and flight regulations, the trials of an ancient land with thousands of gods, and various recipes for personal and professional disaster vie with the tastes, sounds, and colors that is India, involving readers in not just accounts of helicopter aviation or politics, but in Sobotta's immersion in a strange new world.
As he travels around different parts of India, both rural and urban, interacting with its peoples, Sobotta slowly moves beyond colossal cultural differences to a real sense of the country and its incongruities and wonders. Readers along for the ride can expect a journey filled with the turbulence that is India's psyche - but a journey also peppered with revealing and involving encounters that capture India's nuances and flavors.
The result blends adventure with expat experiences in a read that requires little familiarity with either India or helicopters. All that is required is an interest in this exotic country and in a rollicking good read that candidly portrays a series of startling, often hilarious encounters with India's people, politics, and unique world.India Charm Offensive
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Autobiographies typically center upon the author's life and experiences, and those which add in drama, travel, and growth insights are all the more stronger for their departure from timelines of events to inject a sense of compelling tension and thriller elements usually found in the better fiction novels.
The Lullaby Illusion is such a memoir; born of the author's decision to take a year off at age 20 and explore the world - a choice which was to blossom into twelve years of journeys through the world, influencing her evolving sense of self.
Given such a topic, it's unusual to have a story begin with an ending: "How odd to have news of his death interrupt my life now. A man I had married and divorced years ago. A man I never felt I knew. A man I last saw—in a Chinese restaurant in Frankfurt, Germany—over 27 years ago. Twenty-seven years? Was it that long ago?"
Perhaps one reason this story sounds so melodic is because Susan Joyce was (in one of her many Renaissance Woman incarnations) a songwriter and lead singer in a country-rock group. This lends a musical feel to a winning review of her relationship with not just a man who was once a big part of her life, but with life itself: "As a child, my days passed as sometimes-here, sometimes-there, but I was always aware of an inner voice as true as anything my eyes delivered. With no television allowed in our home, I tuned into my surroundings, saw and heard things others didn’t perceive. My parents called it my “wild imagination.”
Memoirs often fail to transmit the magic and drama of changing life events to their readers; but The Lullaby Illusion takes a different approach in assuring that such magic is not just presented, but transmitted to the reader; there to resonate and spread like ripples in water until the course of events becomes compelling and hard to put down.
Whether Joyce is using this magic to explore tragedy or success, it's a powerful voice indeed that allows readers to not just read about a life well lived, but to enter that world and experience that life from the inside out.
Maybe this is due to a wild childhood that encouraged higher goals even before she moved to L.A. and experienced a hectic life that was to careen her into the decision to travel and take a break from the demanding world of work: "For many years, the static of my busy, buzzing life drowned out my intuitive insight. And I lost sight of myself—the self that once listened and trusted a still, small voice. Until Cyprus."
Or perhaps it's because of Joyce's ability to synthesize all these emotions, incoming experiences, and changes into a breathtaking account that inhales the world with a big breath and breaths out life into accounts that sparkle and shine with descriptions designed not just to entertain readers, but immerse them.
There's tragedy, discovery, and change. There's tension, drama, and the unexpected. All the elements of a solid, compelling fiction read are here - but The Lullaby Illusion is nonfiction; it's all true. It's Joyce's world brought to life in a memoir that will prove riveting reading for any who relish autobiographical stories of a spectacular existence well lived, filled with both the richness of paradise and the poignant saga of a perfect world that unravels until it's ready, once again, for a new infusion of meaning and commitment.The Lullaby Illusion
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People Book 1: Things We Lost in the Night
Larry J. Dunlap
Claremont Village Press
978-0-9906279-1-3 - Amazon Kindle eBook
978-0-9906279-0-6 - Print Paperback Book
Kindle eBook: http://www.amazon.com/NIGHT-PEOPLE-Book-Things-Thieves-ebook/dp/B00VL8L0VI
Print Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/099062790X
Night People is the first of two books that make up "Things We Lost in the Night, A Memoir of Love and Music in the 60s with Stark Naked and the Car Thieves," takes place in the 1960s music business in California and Nevada, and tells of a group of friends in a rock band who migrate to California, reunite to make music, and find themselves unexpectedly on the cutting edge of nightclubs and Vegas showrooms - venues entirely outside of their experience as musicians.
From Larry J. Dunlap's early, evolving group of musician friends and why they moved from Indianapolis to California to the opportunity offered by the lure of a nightclub gig, Night Peopleprovides a fine autobiography of golden prospects, how these are assessed, and what is involved in a "…clean sweep, [sic] necessary for me to change, to become what everyone here expected of me."
From the monotony of an assembly-line job that offers its own kind of peace (if not a degree of ennui) to the decision to undertake a risky journey to California, there to become embroiled in the music scene springing from counterculture roots like a phoenix from the ashes, Night People does a terrific job of charting the impetus for change, immersions in different kinds of musical atmospheres, evolving relationships between musicians, and a combination of circumstance and drive that keeps Larry J. Dunlap on a fast-paced journey of discovery.
Against the backdrop of 1960s (amidst the military draft, rising political savvy, and marriages lost and found), Dunlap's roller coaster ride through the worlds of music and love involves transformations, departures, and new beginnings.
Readers looking for a great beach read who are interested in sagas of Hollywood and limelight encounters, back rooms, bars and nightclubs, and the progress of a band of musicians who strive for success will find that Night People is a well-written memoir that deftly captures a sense of the 1960s and what it meant to be an aspiring musician during this time of seismic cultural change.Night People Book 1: Things We Lost in the Night
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Love n' Mud
Author Kraig Geiger was only eight when he first caught a glimpse of his future, while in a movie theater, watching the original Woodstock Documentary movie: this event would eventually change the course of his life.
This isn't just the story of a young man's rise to fame in a challenging world; it's a story of serendipity and evolution, it's a love story, and ultimately it's a saga about how the author chose not to wallow under life's slings and arrows, but maintained a tight grip on his creativity by nurturing it to fruition.
On January 4th, 1994, the new word division of Merriam Webster’s Dictionary - and on February 14th, 2014, the new word division of The Oxford Dictionary - officially recognized Kraig Geiger (by letters of file citation) for coining the word Contographer ® (i.e. concert photographer).
In 1996, the United States Patent and Trademark Office awarded Mr. Geiger an official trademark to use the word Contographer ® in commerce worldwide. While credited for naming an industry with no prior professional moniker through his unique trademark, Kraig has successfully found the key to distinguishing himself, along with his photographic works of art, from all other photographers and concert photographers worldwide.
Defining the work of a concert photographer as a trade (or a special brand) goes well beyond the normal boundaries of portrait and studio work. However, these are just some of the many aspects and achievements in his life, all documented in his story.
As chapters wind through the decisions involved in taking some leaps of faith to capture memorable experiences and moments on film, as Kraig is not a digital photographer, readers gain a sense of the concert photographer's special challenges behind Geiger's decisions: "I knew that if I didn't take my chances by flying off to New York right away with whatever monies I could scrape together, I'd forfeit any opportunity of photographing the rolling green fields of Winston Farm for the opening phase of my coffee table book, before the place was trample upon by half of a million festival goers."
The 1994 Woodstock Art and Music Fair may be the focal point of his story, but like ripples in a pond, everything evolves steadily outward from the point that he's dropped into this art world.
Just as his family history involves facing many challenges and crafting new beginnings Kraig's life moves relentlessly forward in a trajectory that brings readers along on a rollicking good ride through time, space, emotional challenges, and the artistic evolution of a true artist.
Expect this family history to be supplemented by a healthy dose of philosophical and cathartic reflection ("...if my calculations are correct, between the ages of twenty to sixty, (the most productive years of our lives), including leap-year days - a person only has a grand total of 14,609.4 days to mold and shape themselves into whomever or whatever they'll ultimately become.") Also anticipate a multi-faceted read that in many ways replicates the magic of Woodstock ’69 in the very different world of 1994.
Throughout the buildup of this momentous musical celebration, readers are treated to the unvarnished truth about the pros and cons of this historic event: "...there were plenty of people in the Ecology Village protesting against Woodstock '94 for those who felt like the festival had too much of a corporate image, and others thought it should have been re-named Greedstock '94. Personally, I thought those comments were ignorant and way out of line. I mean, so what if Woodstock '94 had a corporate feel? Don’t the promoters of this wonderful festival deserve to make money now, and lots of it, especially after the way those same promoters took such a bath financially - the first time around?"
Peace, Love n’ Mud contains a multitude of powerful insights and statements about life in general, the author's life, his family relationships, his creative career, his involvement with the Woodstock ‘94 Music and Art Fair, and an unforeseen romantic connection ties this winning-against-all-odds/ love story into a once in a lifetime experience! Of special note: Kraig Geiger has only read one book in his entire life: The Way of the Peaceful Warrior. Peace, Love n’ Mud sends a powerful message of how someone who isn’t an avid book reader can not only produce a book, but can craft a vivid saga that is hard to put down.
It must have been written in the stars! The first time Kraig Geiger met Woodstock Ventures founder and promoter John Roberts, in 1997, a strong connection was immediate made. At the conclusion of their first meeting, when asked by Kraig to sign a copy of Young Men With Unlimited Capital, a book about the original Woodstock Music & Art Fair co-written by John Roberts, his best friend and Woodstock Ventures partner Joel Rosenman, and collaborator/editor Robert Pilpel, John wrote this inscription: "To Kraig, We admire your grit!" A few years later (and just before his passing, in 2001), John Roberts wrote the official book preface for Peace, Love n’ Mud.
Formed with the passion of an observer, artist, activist and a career Contographer ®, Peace, Love n' Mud isn't just an autobiographical story: it captures the experiences, ideals, and challenges of several generations, making Peace, Love n’ Mud a compelling standout read especially recommended for anyone interested in live music, concert photography (or photography, in general) or for those who attended one of the three major Woodstock Music & Art Fairs held in 1969, 1994 and 1999.Peace, Love n' Mud
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The Silverton Chronicles
Smart Heart Publishing
ASIN: B01CIJVI92 $4.99 Kindle
Florian is a vampire who has hit the big time with business success (a rare position to be in for a member of a werewolf pack) until a female werewolf pads into his life to offer a special challenge with an unusual romance that tests his loyalties and even his true nature.
While Bound: The Silverton Chronicles is best described as an urban fantasy romance, it actually holds much more depth than this genre's usual read. For one thing, Florian's identity isn't based on his successful relationships between different worlds: it's a carefully-honed tightrope walk, and the lines he's so carefully built and trod all his life are about to come apart.
Secondly, Bound: The Silverton Chronicles injects a light dose of humor throughout, engaging readers through a series of fun encounters that are delightfully unexpected additions to a usually-serious genre: "I sucked in a huge breath of helium from the tank. “Why are we doing this again?” I asked in a high-pitched voice. My head spun, but it was totally worth it. Ivy punched me in the arm. “If you could be serious for a second, you’d realize it’s necessary. You can’t just stomp into another pack and demand they join yours. They need to be schmoozed.”
Carmen Fox's approach makes the most of the comic interlude device and adds dimension and fun to a read which sashays around two powerful protagonists who are each determined to get the most out of their very different lives, and who hold different alliances to their packs and their alpha leaders.
As readers absorb the social and political concerns of werewolves, vampires, and their intersections with human worlds, their different psyches and concerns are embellished with lively notes that add creative fun to the story line: "Any excuse to party, and werewolves were first in line at the kegger."
Readers should be prepared to enter a world where all forces exist in the same realm and mingle on the same plane: "The humans treat him like any other, and the kin… He’s got fae sending in donations. Trolls are doing his accounts and, on his instruction, helping out other kin with their finances. Gino even has demons working for him.” I frowned. “Demons? As in more than one? Demons don’t work for anyone, let alone in groups.”
By keeping secrets, Flo has endangered the thing he loves the most. It's time for his secrets to end, and the process of unraveling them, love, and werewolf objectives makes for a riveting, fun read that goes beyond the usual portraits of vampires and werewolves to inject a healthy degree of mystery, action, intrigue, and romance into the bigger picture of two very different souls who struggle to unite.
Readers of urban fantasy who look for both romance and rare humor in more complex stories of conflict will love Bound: The Silverton Chronicles, which takes passion and purpose and winds them into a captivating tale holding many different twists as it unravels a complicated truth.Bound: The Silverton Chronicles
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Andrew C. Branham
978-1530519248 Price: $3.99 Kindle; $11.99 Paper
In a world where the sun has become a red giant, resulting in a baked Earth and struggles for the few humans who survive, James and Lexie and their two children face impossible odds; especially when fellow humans rob them and murderers and thieves abound.
Early in the story line, the vastly changed environment has affected the protagonists: "All of the principles he had valued so dearly for the past 40 years of his life were fruitless in a world where three gallons of water could buy you a running car. Fair or unfair, he was a man of God—or had been. Now, he was merely another vigilante tasked with the job of protecting those he loved."
Thirst and water have become overwhelming concerns in this dry world; but where most apocalyptic novels would focus on environmental changes, Parched takes a satisfyingly different turn in exploring how the world's changes have, in turn, transformed the protagonists' psyches: "…the Bible was no longer the ruler of his life; instead, it was but a distant memory. The world had changed—and changed him."
How does one retain principles, ethics, and rules in a world gone wrong? What is there left to fight for when life itself becomes a hopeless struggle? As James finds reason for sanity and humanity in a world gone wild, Lexie finds herself stepping up to help the family, undertaking a road trip to find safety, fueled by the ongoing concerns over water.
Forced to leave their California stronghold, the family moves through a nightmare that has no end - and must redefine and recreate the notion of 'family' in the process of their discoveries.
Parched provides a satisfying focus on human interactions and changes. From the nuclear family structure to changing social and political relationships, its focus on the growing inhumanity of what is left of the world and how this affects individuals is one of the approaches that sets the novel apart from others. Add in a strong message about the power of nature and the devastating effects of climate change and you have a riveting story of not just survival, but environmental degradation.
As the story line progresses and the family faces many challenges, they, too must change and adapt - and that may mean an entirely different perspective and family structure.
Parched holds several surprises; not the least of which is its ultimate direction. Readers used to the typical linear progression of many apocalyptic reads will find something unique and special in Parched: highly recommended for any who want a powerful thriller with a strong environmental message.Parched
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Chand Svare Ghei
ISBN 978-82-998681-8-1 (printed) $17.00
ISBN 978-82-998681-9-8 (e-book) $ 5.99
Short story collections unified by a common theme are typical creations; but what gives Prasvapa its unique flavor isn't its story structures or protagonists, but its ethereal, surrealistic air that contributes an atmosphere of surprise to its dream-like descriptions.
In short, readers expecting linear short stories will find that the strength in Prasvapa lies not in predictability nor even in plot or action, but in creating scenarios that describe and support the concept of "prasvapa" ("consciousness during sleep"). It crafts dark, unpredictable, yet compelling fantasy states that skirt the edge of real scenarios, then dip over into the impossible.
Such is the case with 'An Everyday Adventure', which opens the collection with the story of one woman's sadness about her life and blossoms from a her obsession with her sanctuary/home, where she lives distant from people and their concerns, to a cat who leads her to involve another in her life, transforming her isolated, unchanging world.
Descriptions of these worlds are succinct and precise: "Here, time could be twisted around its regularity at any pace desired, like nothing actually mattered. Pages of a book, a nice cup of homemade herb tea, and the meow of a cat passed into memories without even noticing."
Chand Svare Ghei's special talent lies in the ability to take the smallest of events, moments, and scenes and show how these can twist and convert into new worlds at the blink of an eye. It doesn't take pages of description to craft these gems (these are short productions, after all), and it doesn't take high drama to inject them with a sense of compelling insight.
'The Strife for Water', for example, tackles the simple needs of a child who is taken on a long road trip against his wishes. Ghei's ability to capture the child's inner feelings while in transit is well done ("Reading the latest issue of Donald Duck was out of the question; he could not sit in the front and watch the traffic, and she did not let him play on his harmonica. Was she out of her mind? No candy? He needed candy, he needed distractions, and he needed them now. Music? No, she had forgotten his tunes; boring, ugly melodies sounding out of the speakers, idiotic adult sounds on the radio."), as is the sudden change of events when his mother throws him out of the car and drives away. Left to his own devices, he must satisfy his own needs - which include those most basic: hydration.
As with the other stories, this represents a microcosm of experience, not the usual plot revolving around events, actions, and logical conclusions. The compelling piece lies not in high drama but in everyday circumstances enlarged for examination; much like a small photograph, when enlarged, reveals pieces and facets not seen in its smaller counterpart.
Short story enthusiasts who appreciate approaches that deconstruct simple experiences for their greater meaning, adopting a surreal feel in the process, will love Prasvapa's compellingly unique visions.Prasvapa
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a Blueprint / It's the Shoe Prints that Matter
ISBN: 978-1939371-47-8 (p) / 978-1-939371-48-5 (e)
Price: $16.75 (p) / $7.99 (e)
Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter A Journey Through Toxic Relationships achieves what few other books offer, surveying the elements of toxic relationships and people in life which defines 'toxic' actions and tells how to handle them. That it does this with acknowledgement to the hand of God and a nod to the idea that "…that God gives us strong shoes to walk those paths." makes for a discussion particularly recommended for spiritual self-help readers.
The author knows her subject: toxic relationships at home, at work, and in life nearly destroyed her. She learned from these relationships: "My ultimate lesson in my journey has been that healthy relationships require honesty, compassion, strength, and courage. Given the right mechanisms, these traits make maneuvering through life less stormy."
Her life story unfolds in these pages, from a religious upbringing and the importance of God in her life to her job, family, and friendships. Christian guilt, shame, sin, emotional attachments and parenting are explored with insights into toxic communications, individuals, and - yes - attractions to and between toxic personalities.
Not a Blueprint thus serves a dual purpose, providing Nina Norstrom's autobiography and charting her life's course through toxicity and onto a more positive, supportive path. What's the difference between a 'blueprint' that guides one and the 'shoe print' mentioned in the title? Quite simply, this is a focus on the lasting effects ("shoe prints") which lessons learned from experience leaves on one's psyche and life. The author is quite clear about the difference and God's role in this: "…my belief is that God gives us strong shoes to walk those paths. If we are willing, we can readily learn to distinguish whether relationships are toxic or nontoxic."
Followers of her footsteps should ideally be spiritually-minded readers who will appreciate the incorporation of God's purposes into discussions of the characteristics that constitute toxic relationships and how to handle or avoid them. Readers with such a background will appreciate the consistent injections of faith into life experiences (a regular thread in the stories), and will appreciate the life lessons Norstrom shares along the way which serve to support that faith: "So, when a person comes into your life, don’t question their existence—just embrace their presence. Take it from the Holy Father: they are there for a reason, and we must embrace that moment."
Each lesson provides enlightenment, making for an appealing combination of psychological and spiritual inspection recommended for self-help and Christian readers alike.Not a Blueprint / It's the Shoe Prints that Matter
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is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling?
Why is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling? A Westerner's Introduction and Guide to Tibetan Buddhist Practice applies the ancient traditions of Tibetan Buddhism to modern life through a series of step-by-step instructions and explanations and comes with portable meditation cards, a handy glossary of terms, and foundation lessons from the Namchak Foundation eCourses.
One doesn't expect to find science 'tidbits' peppered into a spiritual treatise, but they are wonderfully present here. Rupert Sheldrake's research into morphic resonance is among the works supporting these Buddhist practices and discoveries.
There are many candid discussions about this process, such as why people get 'stuck' in processing lives and choosing paths, how to block hindering karmic channels, or how to sustain an uninterrupted session of Tranquil Abiding - all aided by color photos throughout.
There's also an unexpected thread of humor that runs through many discussions ("Now you're ready to "assume the position". No, not THAT position!").
More so than almost any other book covering Tibetan Buddhist wisdom and its applications, these are just a few of the methods utilized by Lama Tsomo to make a potentially technical or confusing discussion lively and accessible to her audience. When combined with her powerful, exact messages, which take ethereal philosophy and spirituality and translate them to accessible, compelling, and actionable ideas, readers are in for a real treat.
This book is simply exquisite. It's packed with colorful visual insights, meditative connections, and strategies for mindfulness and change; all wound into a format that is bright, joyful, and hard to put down. It promises to reach readers with a verve and usefulness that exceeds most other discussions of Tibetan Buddhist practices directed to Western audiences, and should be on the shelves of any new age or spirituality collection.Why is the Dalai Lama Always Smiling?
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Emergency Room Survival Guide for Baby Boomers and Older Folks
Robert Derlet, MD and Joel Cohen, MD
Endless Knot Press
BoomER Emergency Room Survival Guide for Baby Boomers and Older Folks is a primer that should be on the bookshelves of not just baby boomers or older adults, but any family member or caregiver. It provides essential, specific information from physicians who document common emergency room issues and how patients can be proactive in handling sudden emergencies and critical care treatment.
Part of this process lies in some basic medical savvy about how to prevent or identify strokes and heart attacks, what to do before help arrives, and how to understand emergency room processes and common problems that can occur in an ER during a health crisis. Patient case histories of both lucky and unfortunate patient experiences illustrate these events and decisions that translate to either success or failure in ER procedures and patient choices.
From abdominal pain and triage methods and cautions to ambulance trauma, hospitalization pros and risks, alternatives to emergency room care, and red flags for frail elders, BoomERmethodically covers all the too-common consequences of emergency treatments for elders, providing many tips for surviving the current health care system. The inclusion of when to know if a test is a good idea, when to refuse testing, the impact of accumulated radiation exposure, and more make for cautions that are clearly defined in relation to emergency room care and hospitalization procedures.
Surprising facts - such as how patients can minimize treatment risks merely by being more informed - are included among discussions of emergency room care around the world, management procedures such as how patients are triaged, how to say 'no' to proposed treatments (and when to say 'yes'), and even how to plan ahead for emergency care.
No other patient book provides a specific focus on handling emergency treatment, making BoomER Emergency Room Survival Guide a powerful set of insights not just into the medical system as a whole, but for the one place many an older adult winds up in a powerless condition - unless this book has been consulted already.
BoomER is very highly recommended as an essential consumer guide that nobody should be without.BoomER Emergency Room Survival Guide for Baby Boomers and Older Folks
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of Grief: Overcoming the Pain of Loss
Veronica Semenova, Ph.D.
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B01CQSGW78 $9.99
Faces of Grief: Overcoming the Pain of Loss comes from a practicing psychologist who works with a range of clients and who has formulated a basic premise about grief: that its progress and pain varies widely depending on a number of factors, from a griever's relationship to the bereaved and unresolved issues to the type of death and family dynamics.
Thus, while many competing books generalize about the process of overcoming grief, there's truly no 'one size fits all' in the matter, and Dr. Semenova's coverage both acknowledges this truth and offers up a range of insights, based on case history examples, that chart different paths to recovery.
Chapters define dissimilar types of grief (anticipatory, disenfranchised, or complicated), explain the challenges facing therapists and patients as they work with each, and contrast myths and realities surrounding the process of experiencing, working through and overcoming grief.
Readers who wonder how to help a grieving relative or friend, those who feel 'stuck' in grief without an explanation as to why, and therapists who work with patients over grief and recovery will all find much useful information in Faces of Grief, which outlines not a singular path, but a variety of responses and options based upon a client's unique background and experiences.
Faces of Grief is a highly recommended discussion for anyone seeking answers to common questions about the process of grieving and recovery.Faces of Grief: Overcoming the Pain of Loss
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Paperback 978-1-942737-04-9 $13.99
eBook 978-1-942737-05-6 $ 3.99
Photographer Day Randall has been living for free in Kelly's condo in a mutually beneficial arrangement that turns into a mystery when Kelly comes home to find that Day has vanished, leaving behind her car and no clue as to her whereabouts. When the police won't help, it's up to Kelly to assume the role of amateur investigator to find out what happened to Day, a bipolar photographer who would be unlikely to just walk away from her world.
The first thing to note about this dark mystery is its realistic attention to the psyche of the bipolar personality. Right from the start, stark observations paint a realistic portrait of Day's persona and her struggles with drugs and sanity: "Day’s face froze in panic and then broke into a grin that lifted her eyebrows in exaggerated arches. A mischievous gleam lighted her eyes. A teenage girl lived inside the body of a thirty-eight-year-old woman."
As Kelly probes deeper into matters, what seems to be a possible case of straying turns into something more deadly and dangerous, leading her to investigate shady places and strangers who have discovered threats in Day's photography subjects.
Estranged from her family ("She used to wonder if the hospital had made a mistake and sent her home with the wrong people. She loved her family but was nothing like them. None of them—sister, parents, aunts, uncles, or cousins—cared about art. To them, her career choice seemed bizarre. They would have understood law school or medical school, even running off to Hollywood to be an actor, but art curator? A career without money or glamour.") and mired in a mystery that involves family relationships and bigger pictures, Kelly finds herself not only retracing the steps that might have led Day to disaster, but taking on the dangerous forces that hold a bigger threat.
The cops are helpless. Her parents are far away. There is no support and few options. Kelly's journey seems relentlessly destructive and a host of characters swirl around her world and choices. Can she find solutions to impossible dilemmas? And how do Day's photos and her last, best works keep changing these bigger pictures?
Pair a noir detective story approach with issues of loyalty, family, friendship, politics, and insights into the art world and you have a satisfying story that is hard to put down. Mary Maddox's characters 'pop' with energy and personalities, while her action-packed story remains firmly rooted in reality. What does art have to do with kidnappings and deadly encounters? Maddox is a master at using the art world's atmosphere as a backdrop in a solid mystery that involves a satisfyingly diverse range of characters.
Any interested in superior blends of mystery, thriller, and nonstop action will relish Darkroom's attention to detail and its ability to create an engrossing story that's filled with surprises right up to the end.Darkroom
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the Mighty Fall
978-1-922061-38-6 $4.00 or $4.19 (on Kobo)
Jaffa Books: jaffabooks.net
How the Mighty Fall is a Gigi Mirabelli and Harry Burns mystery thriller that is rich in action, drama, and intrigue, which will delight fans of high-octane adventure. The events center around a missing yacht owner who apparently falls overboard during her own party, missing persons expert Gigi, who is recalled from maternity leave for this special, high-profile mystery, and Harry, a talented but psychologically tortured homicide detective whose career is on the ropes.
Part of the attraction of How the Mighty Fall lies in the interactions between these events and individuals: the story opens with a nursing mother's quiet time at home with her infant but quickly explodes into action with the ring of a phone and news that will pull Gigi from her infant's side. (It's a question whether even a chief of police can pull an officer from maternity leave, but the high-profile case demands unusual responses from authorities.)
The first chapter sets the scene of the party tragedy (and reveals that a murder has taken place - no surprises here), the second offers quick insights on Gigi's home and career lives, and the third chapter introduces Harry's role in the investigation. It's pleasing so see how quickly the main protagonists are created and explored, moving along to action which is compellingly complex as two disparate investigators must learn to work together in a case replete with high-profile media involvement.
Threads of ironic humor and angst permeate a story holding various personalities and conflicts, lots of moral and ethical conundrums, and a winding investigative process that keeps readers on their toes - all set against the backdrop of New York City.
The investigators are only human, and thus they come with their faults, including power-tripping plays and head-butting over procedure and undercover methods. The fact that readers don't always like the people being presented in How the Mighty Fall makes this a more realistic read than most mysteries, which tend to create overly simplistic, likeable protagonists. The investigators themselves argue with each other constantly over keeping an open mind and making connections between different cases, which also keeps readers involved.
Conflicts between career and personal life (on Gigi's part) are exceptionally well done, keeping the human element alive and well during the investigative process: "Thinking it his best chance to reach Mirabelli at this ungodly hour, Burns called her on her home phone. He could hear the baby’s crying in the background. The cries became louder as Mirabelli cuddled the infant in an effort to quiet her. Burns raised his voice in an effort to be heard over the wailing baby. “Hold on a minute,” Mirabelli told Burns, and then she said to her husband, “Paul take the baby, please.” Burns heard Mirabelli’s husband rant in the background, saying, “You wanted the kid. Don’t blame me if you can’t do it all. I told you it’s all about sequencing. No, you had to have it all. I told you to quit that job. You refused. You’re a mother now, so deal with it. Your child comes first…”
As truths are exposed, offering surprises and insights to readers who may not have seen some of them coming, How the Mighty Fall evolves into a gripping saga that's hard to put down. All is not successful, in the end. For a 'turn of the screw' series of adventures and surprises, mystery and thriller audiences are in for a real treat with a story that is well-developed, filled with characters both likeable and annoyingly realistic, and packed with intrigue. Very highly recommended.How the Mighty Fall
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Black Siren Books
Brit, a counter-sniper on the Maryland State police force, is a portrait of PTSD, heroism, and the aftereffects of being a cop who killed during the course of duty. She's on administrative leave, as is usual in an officer shooting; but the lingering aftereffects of trauma follow her as she searches for a peaceful retreat and isolation when an ex-Army Ranger and escaped convict targets her. The trouble is, he's picked the wrong woman - and he doesn't know Brit's background.
The drama begins with a multi-vehicle pile-up and continues when Brit is accosted by a wild mountain man during the course of investigating the wreckage around her. The last thing she's prepared for - even with her professional instincts saturated in a sense of self-preservation - is a wild stranger with a mission.
They both need to heal from their separate traumas, and these gradually emerge as Linger delivers what its name promises: a slow, intense story line that fires its salvo of tension from the first few paragraphs and never lets up.
Even as Brit faces this deadly threat which has unexpectedly emerged from a spectacular crash, her mind is working overtime to ensure her survival against all odds: "There would be no more finagling her freedom. He wanted her for a purpose, all the more reason to start strategizing her escape—or his demise."
When a professional killer faces an opponent without backup, one-on-one, in a situation where the killer holds all the cards and is likely to control the ultimate outcome, what's a woman to do?
As points of view shift between Brit and Colt Rivers, the similarities in their thought processes evolve. Brit's not used to being in a hostage situation; she's usually the one in control (or, at least, the one with the gun and a talent for precision shooting). And when a panic attack hits her at an unexpected moment, the last thing she expects is for Colt to not only recognize her dilemma, but immediately respond to it.
On Colt's side, he's not used to handling women like Brit, who has the fierce instincts of a lion and the vulnerabilities of an injured lamb. Part of what makes Linger so compelling is its believability: Brit quickly comes to determine that many of Colt's habits are ones she'd have used herself, if in the same position - and so she grudgingly admires him even as she fights for freedom.
And when the two hurting souls uncover each other's traumas and connections, they join forces to achieve things together that neither could have done separately.
While this connection develops rather quickly considering the events that threw them together, seemingly on opposing sides, it's deftly explored in a plot that moves rapidly, yet makes sense. Neither expects love to blossom from their broken lives and hearts - but this is a possibility. Also possible is the kind of hurt that never heals, and the collision of two powerful forces that could result in a blinding devastation for all involved.
P.J. O'Dwyer's ability to create a winding story that unexpectedly comes full circle makes for a powerful thriller that will grasp and hold reader attention right up to its end, creating a highly recommended pick for novel and thriller readers alike, especially for those who like a dose of romance added into the thriller mix.Linger
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Madness of the Heart
ASIN: B01DEC2GOS $5.99
Smashwords: ISBN: 9781310169847
Evangelical religion, supernatural forces, and romance seldom collide under a single cover and more often serve as individual topics in genre reads; but This Madness of the Heart combines all three forces and more in a gripping piece that holds the rare ability to grasp and attract reader attention from more than one direction.
Miranda Lamden is a small-town professor of religion in Kentucky, but her real dilemma lies in the fact that she also has a supernatural power that places her squarely in opposition to the evangelical forces at work in her community.
When Jasper Jarboe embarks on a zealous mission to convert her forest home and sanctuary into a glaring commercial Mecca for evangelical purposes, Miranda's probe into supernatural forces are challenged on many levels.
Her research into spiritual congregations doesn't come from an atheist's perspective: even as she holds herself apart for the sake of scholarly inspection, she also feels a connection to community spirit: "I loved my work. No matter how many hours I spent observing people celebrating their faith, their joy always lifted me up—perhaps bearing me on the wings of their prayers. And Appalachian Holiness congregations had to be among my favorites. I loved their lack of pretension, their tolerance of diversity, their unselfconscious enthusiasm. I envied how easily they gave themselves up to spiritual ecstasy. Comparatively, I was a clam, tightly sealed in a riotous bed of wave-swept anemones."
But she'll only go so far: she doesn't agree with religion when it goes awry, threatens everything she loves, and especially when other mountain superstitions and faiths are about to be dominated and overrun through the efforts of one dangerous zealot's mission to destroy competing belief systems.
Mood and setting are exquisitely placed throughout the story ("The winding road seemed to coil through the mountains like the snakes in their dark boxes, and I struggled against the temptation to close my eyes against it and just drift. God, I was tired! Tired like the child I’d once been after a day picking raspberries behind my grandmother’s house in the tick-infested brambles of southern Virginia."), and as Miranda becomes involved in helping Djinn, faces political pressures at her college, and crosses the line between personal and professional involvements, her life twists with changes, as well.
This Madness of the Heart circles around a number of disparate forces at odds with each other. Group psychosis, mob mentality, prejudice, scholarly inspection versus emotional involvement, curses and ghosts permeate a plot that moves deftly between opposing forces with the skill of a thriller, the stealth of a cat, and the fine-tuned precision of personalities well developed.
The result is a blend of supernatural thriller, romance, and mystery that will thoroughly engross anyone looking to break free of genre reads with a powerful journey through competing spiritual perspectives.This Madness of the Heart
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Elevation Book Publishing
What are the behavior patterns common to cyber-dating, and how does meeting online change the sense of adventure and discovery intrinsic to the dating process? Author Lonz Cook researched a number of real-world cyber-dating experiences before writing A Cyber Affair, a fictional story of relationship-building.
From making an impact in a first impression to chat room conversations versus real-world encounters, readers interested in dating and relationships will enjoy the story of Tiffany (a.k.a. 'SanFran Pearl') and how her search for peace and a better life inevitably winds through conflict and challenges the process.
Where can she meet men who are true candidates for her love? Not at work - and apparently, not online, either. As the list of losers grows, she despairs - until an intriguing email leads her cross country and on a different trajectory to connect with the man of her dreams.
A Cyber Affair is a good read for women who have dipped into the world of cyber-dating and online relationships, only to find their ideals thwarted by inconsistencies and illusions. As Tiffany delves through a host of possibilities and disappointments, so readers become involved in her wider world of family, female friends, supportive relationships, and the complexities of love and spirit.
As she more closely examines Manny and his world, two people who have had enough of being single face the challenges of a long-distance relationship and make difficult decisions that will change their lives.
Women especially will find much to like about A Cyber Affair, which deftly captures the emotions and experiences of women and men searching for love in an uncertain dating environment.A Cyber Affair
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Love Bubbling Inside
Jules Mitchell Bailey
Troubles have a way of following even the furthest move away from their origins: so Mercedes discovers when she finds that just because she has left Jamaica doesn't mean that her actions and their consequences haven't followed her into her new life. But then, it's hard to leave beyond the consequences of murder and revenge, and even harder to construct a new life built from the ashes of death.
Her love Greg can't help her: he knows little of her life in Jamaica before his arrival, and nothing about her involvement in murder. And even though much of her secret past has ended, Mercedes can't help wondering how her life would be different if her former fiancée Danny had survived.
But Mercedes is a survivor, and one of her tasks is to learn her place in the new world she has created - and so A Love Bubbling Inside follows that process as she learns to accept her past and respect her own decisions and where they have deposited her in life.
In much the same way that Champion Bubbler brought Caribbean culture to life, so its sequel follows the process of a young immigrant's new life in America, capturing the cultures of Portland and other areas but, more importantly, showing how Bubbler's Caribbean roots influence the nature of her perceptions and choices. Her insights about those close to her are priceless observations of how life works: ("Andre hadn’t really changed Momma into the person she became. It was always in her. She was a good person who wanted more for her life, but got derailed and did not have anyone to help her. What Andre gave her was the love and support she needed to make something of her life."), serving to cement her journey through American culture with powerful psychological and philosophical insights.
As contact with Jamaica continues from friends and family and journeys between two countries and her relationship with German husband Greg continues to evolve, Mercedes develops new and unexpected ties to her culture and family and finds within them the strength to not only adapt to a new world, but to discover a unique purpose to her special abilities that will help her move beyond her stormy past and into the hopes of the future.
Replete with mangos, love, and sifting sands of intercultural encounters and changes, A Love Bubbling Inside is especially recommended for prior fans of Champion Bubbler who will appreciate Mercedes' evolutionary process and her slow realization that she can, indeed, change the world. As much as it's a love story, it's also a story of gaining peace, making amends, and finally gaining forgiveness for poor choices of the past. Anyone seeking a novel steeped in Jamaican culture and laced with adventure and self-discovery will find A Love Bubbling Inside offers, through Mercedes, its own wellspring of positive perceptions.A Love Bubbling Inside
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978-0-9854100-2-5 $3.99 ebook; $15.99 Paper
A major prerequisite for a sweeping historical novel to prove successfully compelling is to take a real-world setting and infuse it with more than just a dramatic retelling of historical fact - and this is the point where many a historical novel fails. When too much drama supersedes individual lives and twists history into something unbelievable and larger than life, the story fails - butBéla's Letters is proof that, under the right pen, history can come alive even when it covers a sweeping eighty years of experience.
Beginning in World War I and focusing on a family living in a small city in the Carpathian Mountains, Béla's Letters offers up a plot centered around family experience as it tells of Béla's family's struggles to survive a changing world and an evolving threat.
In order to properly trace the course of both family and historical events, the saga opens with the author's family tree, a black and white photo of generations of the Ingber family, and a first-person preface that flushes out the novel's setting with a discussion of family connections and Hungarian history. As the author learned details of the Old Country and his family's experiences there, so he became inspired to put these experiences into a novel that would reach out and grip strangers much as his family stories offered him rich traditions, spiritual and emotional revelations, and immersion in a world gone wild.
In the turmoil of political and social changes and betrayal, strong family and blood connections often meant the difference between living and dying. The letters and postcards the family wrote connected them in ways they could not have imagined decades later, and form the foundations of this novel's approach, which celebrates the art of the written word as much as the tenacity of family relationships.
As Holocaust events foreseen by the family come to a head and loss becomes part of daily life, the world of Hungary under Hitler and beyond comes to life, with vintage black and white family photos cementing the images of peoples' lives.
Ultimately it's a universal story of survival and how even the most impossible of circumstances can offer hope, inspiration, and a healthy dose of history chronicling different family members and their individual evolution.
It's all about keeping connections alive - and Béla's Letters provides one way of understanding how the course of these connections came to last a lifetime. Any who would receive a different kind of Holocaust story - one centered on family survival and Hungarian culture and traditions - will find Béla's Letters a riveting read that takes the experiences of several generations and translates them into a powerful, sweeping saga of change.Béla's Letters
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Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co., LLC
Many historical novels are set in either Europe or America, so it's refreshing to discover that The Devil Knows takes place in neither place, but makes the most of 19th century Canada, London, and Jamaica as it explores a pastor's daughter's encounters in the Canadian wilderness.
With its huge cast of characters, ranging from pastor and daughter to First Nation peoples and others, The Devil Knows could easily have proved a complex, challenging read under a less steady hand; but Janet Holt-Johnstone's ability to capture the sights, sounds, and feelings of her characters makes the setting and story line a breeze to absorb.
Readers inhale deeply and take in the feel of the alien Canadian frontier world Susan has entered ("She trailed red sawdust from her tapered boots and the hem of her petticoats, residue from the canoe’s wide-spaced planking. Susan thanked him prettily, then steadied herself and watched Henri and his companion unload, wincing when her carpetbag narrowly missed a ducking in the amber water."), while the logic of why she's undertaking this journey (her mother's recent death leaves her father a single parent, so he must bring her along) is impeccable.
Holt-Johnstone's attention to detail and description is just one of The Devil Know's strong points: "Mosquitoes swarmed around Susan’s face, and she waved her bonnet in a futile attempt to discourage them. “Gentlemen,” she pleaded, “it will soon be twilight, and we’re not yet in our quarters. Father, I’m being eaten alive, and I really do want to unpack and rest.”
But don't expect the action to begin and end in this wilderness camp, for other roads beckon, each offering something different, and Susan finds her life a whirlwind of opportunities and adjustments during the cultural changes that take her far from her familiar London society world: "Susan gently placed the packet on the table and stared at it, dazed. Yet another path beckons! A proposal. Oh, yes, I could live in the islands, she thought. Romantic cascading waterfalls, dazzling sands, soaring mountains, exciting people and opportunities to be useful to the children of such an exotic environment. She stood, then paced back and forth in the dim light of the cabin, pausing at her father’s bunk and watching him sleep, imagining him serving a very different parish of both black and white souls, and in the evening playing his flute or reading on the broad verandah of a Jamaican manse."
Canada's pioneer days and their challenges are brought to life in a compelling series of events that transform Susan with a series of adventures driven by circumstance, evolution, and perhaps the Devil himself. As bears and romance both loom on her horizon, Susan finds her place in a changing world that embraces both her growing beauty and her missionary zeal for different cultures and peoples.
The juxtaposition and contrasts between these peoples and their lives drives The Devil Knows and makes for a winning frontier story that offers a number of satisfyingly unexpected twists and carries readers along in a tumultuous atmosphere of change, opportunity, and social inspections. It's a feisty, fun saga that historical novel readers will relish.The Devil Knows
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Simon & Winter, Inc. (for Celestial Hedgehog)
$3.99 Kindle $15.95 Paperback
Novels steeped in the atmosphere and culture of Hawaii tend to be particularly appealing because they are atmospheric from the start, but the story of Selkie Moon's struggles in the land of paradise when she realizes that someone is trying to kill her makes for a particularly evocative setting and plot.
Perhaps this is because Hawaii's circumstances feel much like the Australian life she escaped from when she fled an abusive home situation: "All by myself in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Without a life raft."
Perhaps it's because Selkie is living proof that trouble can strike anywhere, even in a paradise far from home's dangers, showing that even though she's relocated to Hawaii, she's still not immune from menacing forces and the supernatural, which emerge from land and sea alike.
And maybe it's due to a series of visions and near-death encounters that catapult Selkie into a dangerous cat-and-mouse game where this powerful, independent protagonist finds that her footsteps lead directly to lies of the past that hold clues to her future.
Whatever the reason, Selkie and her readers are about to be dragged into the threatening undertows of a mystery that grabs hold and won't let go: qualities that make The First Lie a standout in a genre overloaded with predictable routines and staid characters.
In the black-and-white world of mystery stories, the struggles of characters often present action and scenes that tend to sound alike. But Selkie's choices, confrontations and abilities are anything but common, placing her and her encounters on a different level of tension and drama than most. Selkie struggles to rebuild her life and her own small business, she faces supernatural impossibilities that threaten her with death, and she's on a mission to unravel the ties that bind her to the past and threaten her future.
Wind these subplots into a suspenseful read packed with vivid imagery and surreal encounters and you have a story line that will require from its readers an ability to absorb a dizzying array of events, from mysteries to supernatural intrigue and action.
It should be mentioned that while The First Lie reads like a stand-alone novel, it's actually part of a series. Given the power of this production, which creates a compelling protagonist readers care about more than lightly, it's a treat to anticipate more.The First Lie
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The Fly Strip opens with a letter written by the angst-laden Weed Clapper, a teen who is on a bus, moving to Indiana to live with an unfamiliar relative. One might anticipate from this that the story will revolve around his struggles with family; but set as it is in the turbulent 60s, when racial issues are turning into hotbeds of contention across the country, it's only logical that Weed's coming of age introduction to adult society will involve more than family strife.
One of the first notable features of The Fly Strip is Weed's wry sense of humor, which captures images of his world with the precision and finely honed finesse of a sharp pair of scissors, snipping out facets of the world he observes with a delightful critical perspective: "I’m looking out the window at nothing but miles of flat land. These may be America’s fruited plains, but there isn’t a fruit in sight. It’s the saddest expanse of nothingness I've ever seen. Even the cows look bored. Midwest farmers should definitely be on alert for a bovine suicide pact."
Under Gwen Banta's hand, protagonists come alive ("I’ll be paying, and I'll have a vanilla Coke," I replied...but not too friendly myself. (Honestly, I’m a really nice guy in spite of how this sounds, but my nerves are a bit on edge these days.) "Hmmm, all the other kids order cherry Cokes," Snarls sniffed, like he was the Betty Crocker of fountain drinks."), and the vivid method Weed uses to describe his world is what succeeds in bringing it to life with more than a wry sense of snarky observation.
Carry this nicely-posited sense further than scenery and everyday characters and use it to inspect civil rights issues and social change and it's evident that something special is being finely tuned in The Fly Strip. Think Catcher in the Rye, but with a greater focus on social events. Think To Kill a Mockingbird, but with the mature eye of a seventeen-year-old who still finds his world confusing, but who is able to remark on it with jaded (yet pointed) precision.
As readers pursue The Fly Strip, one thing becomes evident: this is an extraordinary coming-of-age story that successfully links teenage mindsets with outside world influences, creating a host of characters whose concerns and feelings serve as pivot points between daily life and greater concerns.
The humor may not always be for everyone: many times black humor is embedded in the story ("Robert is from Long Island, and he’s a lot of fun. He told us that although New Yorkers have the reputation of being a bunch of unfriendly grouches, they’re really very social and always show up in large numbers when there’s a group shoot-out. That killed us."), but the delightful injection of unexpected moments and the feelings of a soon-to-turn-eighteen boy who just wants to escape the madness growing around him makes for a delightfully personal and engrossing read.
As Weed searches for meaning, love, God, and stands at the pinnacle of success posed on the thin edge of disaster, so readers come to not just understand his world and his life, but to embrace them.
Fans of coming-of-age sagas who look for gritty, realistic reads and, most especially, characters who are determined and believable, will find The Fly Strip a powerful selection, especially recommended for adults of all ages who want a more socially revealing contrast to the classic Catcher in the Rye.The Fly Strip
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9781942316152 (ebook) $4.99
9781942316169 (Print) $17.95
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Elizabeth_Cole_Honor_Roses?id=fOeeCwAAQBAJ
Honor & Roses is Book 1 of the 'Swordcross Knights' series, and a prior reader affection for historical settings (medieval times, in this case) and romance will assure that this novel's events are appreciated by genre readers who will find powerful personalities in the characters of knight Alric and his childhood friend Cecily, who has grown to be a lovely lady promised to another man.
When the two reunite as adults, old flames fire - but Alric's duty is clear: he's to bring her to her wedding; not elope with her. And Cecily's heart has no say in the matter, either. It all feels hopeless and their separate destinies preset, but when life interferes with these plans, placing Cecily in danger, it's Alric to the rescue as both face the dangers of a wild world and their own hearts.
Medieval Britain comes alive in the process of exploring these affairs, which include a supportive cast of characters and a winding story line that is spiced with compelling protagonists and their individual interests.
It should be mentioned that Honor & Roses is a leisure romance read; so readers approaching it as a historical tome might be disappointed. There's a time and place for complexity, but it's not usually desirable in one's leisure choices and Honor & Roses stays true to its intention of gliding over the surface of intricacy to skim the cream off the top of events and bring them to life.
One anticipates the growing connections between these forbidden fruits, and several events that transpire contain an element of predictability - but then, the appeal of many a historical or romance piece lies in just how predictable events will come to pass; and in Honor & Roses there are a few surprising twists readers will find satisfyingly engrossing.
Protagonists display weaknesses and strengths as they face challenges and move through their worlds, but the ultimate result is that they are simply human beings with the same vulnerabilities and sometimes-surprising powers as any human being.
The result is an appealing and lovely read that stays true to medieval times as it portrays the dilemmas and challenges of a relationship that grows between two childhood friends and threatens to change the world. Romance and historical fiction readers will find Honor & Roses an excellent leisure choice.Honor & Roses
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A Historial Novel
38051 Lakeshore Drive
Harrison Township, MI 48045
The Mallast family's move from Germany to America in 1882 is, in one way, a classic story of immigration involving turbulent times, difficult adjustments, and new paths in life. After an introduction emphasizing that Mallast stems from his family history, Bob Prevost provides a journey through time, opening with the feel of rural central Prussia in 1879 as August Mallast tends the family fires on their tenant farm while musing on his country's progressively dangerous military ideology.
August's life has been changed by battlefield horrors in three wars, already: how can he avoid having his son conscripted into service? It's obvious: the family has to flee their homeland.
Bob Prevost takes the time to fully cover the logical progression of thought, from initial analysis of a country's political, social and military history and its impact on August and his family to their difficult decision to immigrate to a strange new country.
The frugal farming lifestyle the family's cultivated could translate to success in America, and as August follows progressively more bad news and tries to find a route that will allow the family to remain in their homeland, it becomes increasingly evident that this will not work: "Do we stay and endure the possible future treacherous wars with our sons’ lives at risk?”
This decision-making process is particularly well detailed, taking into account not just political changes, but the psyches of young men which are often geared to the glories of conflict and battle: "He knew his sons would initially look forward to a perceived glorious adventure with the army, especially since many of their young friends would be part of the big build-up as well."
August's task lies in using his more mature knowledge of war's horrible effects to move his family to a safe place where the drama lies not in battle, but in new opportunities for growth. As they make their choices and moves, these themes rise to the forefront of a plan that brings the family to a new home and some unforeseen challenges.
As the family experiences newfound prospects and change with their new American farm and business ventures, so does its history evolve from one of Old Country hardships to New World opportunity.
The European setting, motivations for major changes, family connections and support systems, and Mallast's family history (the facts are reviewed in a concluding section to the novel) all make for a lovely historical piece that takes a family history and transforms it into a microcosm of immigrant experience.
Any fiction reader who appreciates historical facts and stories of early European immigrant experience will relish this sweeping saga of a family that ultimately recreates their lives and makes decisions that have lasting, positive ramifications for future generations.Mallast: A Historial Novel
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Deborah Kulish, Publisher
978-1502376763 Paperback: $12.99 ebook: $2.99
Moonlighting Bride's protagonist Jan is a new bride who seems to have it made: she has a good job and a lifestyle with many perks, and now she's snagged the man of her dreams. Or is it the man of her nightmares?
Jan isn't used to the basics of daily living, whether it's budgeting and living within her means or worrying about groceries and bills. Her high standard of living has involved a relatively carefree lifestyle with few money worries, until Rob. Suddenly these are concerns - as is their wildly different financial lifestyles.
It's surprising to note that a moneyed woman in modern times would be so oblique as to not have realized this gaping difference in their lifestyles before marrying, but on the way back from the honeymoon this becomes quickly evident: "Rob looked at Jan. “Do you have any credit cards?” Jan slumped back in the passenger seat not sure how to answer. She turned her head away from Rob and slightly covered her mouth with her hand. “Just a few,” she faintly replied. She suddenly realized they hadn’t talked much about this area of their personal lives. She tried to remember all the times they were dating how Rob paid for everything, but all she could recall were his beautiful, brown eyes."
Don't most couples at least discuss basic money matters before they jump into marital bliss? ("Jan realized her new husband felt as frustrated as she did at the revelation of differences in their finances.") One wonders that Jan (as well as Rob) has been so captivated by love and lust that the subject never came up, even concerning credit card use.
Be that as it may, it quickly becomes evident why Rob wasn't committed to discussing money matters. And Jan had plenty of warning signs, but chose to ignore them ("She had only seen him this upset on a couple of occasions while they were dating when he would take work related calls. It scared her, his fiery temper. Her friends told her to be careful, because some guys, after they're married, dominate the relationship and become violent.")
While the first few paragraphs of idyllic bliss lead readers to believe they will be pursing a light read, in reality Moonlighting Bride tackles all kinds of serious and thought-provoking issues as Jan's life begins to unravel and the carefree, flighty existence she has led turns into a tense situation.
Lest readers think this is an entirely serious social commentary, it should be mentioned that Moonlighting Bride holds more than a small degree of tongue-in-cheek humor that permeates situations and leads to laughs and fun, as when Jan insists that she hasn't gained any weight: "I won’t need a fitting today. When I tried it on the last time it was perfect.” “Are you sure?” the sales woman persisted. She looked at the small dress size then looked at Jan’s backside again." Light moments permeate the story line and provide much comic relief.
Determined to make her new marriage work, Jan begins a juggling act between leading the kind of lifestyle she's used to and making her new husband happy. It's an impossible dream already; but when she discovers new truths about the consequences of the one time she abandoned caution to impulse, she is tasked with a new objective: survival.
Expect a lot of shopping in Moonlighting Bride, and concerns over a high-maintenance lifestyle - but that's just one of the facets of a read that moves between a light leisure choice and one embedded with deeper issues of domestic violence and money management: "If only I had married a millionaire, Jan thought as she completed the purchase. She resolved to herself that her purchases were justified. This is who she was and marriage wasn't going to change her."
One of the pleasures of Moonlighting Bride is that nothing is what it appears to be. Readers move forward anticipating a certain progression of events, but just when the story line seems to oblige, it takes a complete turn and moves in the opposite direction. While the tone is light and airy at points, it's also a serious investigation of the progression of two personalities after their union, and provides an inviting story that offers no pat personalities or solutions.
The result is an engrossing read with more than light comment on marriage, fortunes, and the collision of two powerful lifestyles.Moonlighting Bride
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Once & Again
Caroline E. Zani
Piper is an equine insurance agent living in modern 21st century Massachusetts, but her concerns don't center in one world alone, as she struggles with a life lived in 19th century France. Yes, this is a timeslip novel; and as with the classic Time and Time Again, it's also a romance that crosses time and space in the process of examining two lives and one heart.
"I must have been born in the wrong century again." Destiny opens the story by complaining. Who is Destiny? The first chapters can be confusing as readers wrap their minds around the fact that one Piper is, in fact, living many lives separated by time, and that she's actually several people in one body.
Horses and husbands, love and fortune tellers, and accidents and tragedies that flow back and forth across time take some getting used to, but readers quickly absorb Piper's changing lives (for there is more than one) and the hypnotic circumstances of past life regression and bleed-through between worlds - and that's when the fun really begins.
Scents and memories, characters lost and saved, psychologists that regress the clock of time to enter into other worlds, and horses that run through these worlds: all these facets combine in a riveting combination of ghost story, romance, past life saga, and tragedies re-experienced to make for a tale that's a vivid read, and hard to put down.
If there's any criticism to be made of Piper, it's that the mercurial story demands an elevated level of perception and an appreciation of the idea of past lives from its readers. Those with prior familiarity with timeslip logic and plots will be the biggest enthusiasts of Piper, Once & Again, which wraps its story around a protagonist's powerful experiences and envelopes the reader in not just one life story, but those of numerous characters who walk into other worlds.
It's evocative, it's complex, and ultimately it's nearly impossible to put down, offering up a positive progressive romp through fate, circumstance, tragedy and redemption. Timeslip and ghost story readers will find Piper, Once & Again satisfyingly detailed and wonderfully complex.Piper, Once & Again
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Hidden in Plain Sight
Ilene B. Benator
Psychology patients often harbor delusions … but what if they aren't delusions, and are rooted in reality? Wouldn't a psychiatric ward be a good place to 'stash' someone who has gotten too close to the truth about a real organized plot to take over the world? And what if you were a doctor who stumbled on this truth, only to face the consequences of a dangerous discovery?
Schizo: Hidden in Plain Sight revolves around medical student Dan, who has had years to think about the consequences of his choices when he faced a delusional patient during his second year of medical school - and began to believe her.
Therein lay the trap; for as Dan, obsessed about his professional progress, finds his dreams of the future moving in another direction, so he finds that embarking on that course spirals into a situation out of control in contrast to his prior, measured plans for success as a future surgeon.
Finding himself incarcerated on his own psych ward as a result of too much snooping and a growing belief system that doesn't conform to the world he perceives, Dan discovers some unlikely allies in the form of fellow psych patients (shades of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest!) who band together to thwart a conspiracy by a small band of people to take over the world.
Unlike Cuckoo, however, Schizo combines an investigative mystery with a startling social dilemma, placing the patients and their med student leader in the dubious position of being the most powerful people on the planet - and the world's only hope for freedom. (Delightfully ironic: the world's only hope coming from most locked up and feared people in society, the insane.)
Fans of medical thrillers and investigative pieces who appreciate a healthy degree of psychological inspection in their reading will find Schizo a compelling read written on the level of Robin Cook, packed with satisfying twists and solid attention to the details of interactions between psychiatrist and mental illness.
At the end of the tale, one wonders about the fine line between sanity and insanity. The process of crossing that boundary succeeds in crafting ethical dilemmas and impossible situations that inject more than a degree of thought-provoking insights into a realistic action mix that ultimately examines the dilemma of mental illness in America. Highly recommended not just for thriller readers; but any who wanted One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to take the next step.Schizo: Hidden in Plain Sight
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Edward A. Dreyfus
Shattered Direction opens by presenting a practicing clinical psychologist, Dr. Albertson, who is reading up on the pornography business and its effect on those on both sides of the camera. As the article he's reading talks of the victimization of women in the industry, he recalls a client, Harry Moreland, whom he treated in the 1980s and who fell into the world of porn fully cognizant of his choices, reasons, and the dangers involved.
Shattered Direction follows Harry Moreland's downfall and struggles and offers an unusual focus as it reveals the life of a talented young photographer with a dream of making socially relevant documentary films who escapes his dysfunctional family, travels to California, falls into counterculture groups along the way, and finds his passion for "making a difference" waylaid by his move from boudoir studio work to all-out pornography production.
Very powerful ideas are presented early on as Harry moves away from home, crosses the country, falls in with different social groups, and hones his ideas. His evolution and growth is fully explained in a series of events that harkens back to his family influences and the psychological motivations for his entry into this world, and Edward A. Dreyfus uses his own psychology background to provide exceptionally clear rationales for this progression. Especially notable is the attention given to different kinds of alternative living situations without accompanying judgment about their structure or meaning.
All this lends a personal perspective to the story of how even an aware, sensitive individual fully cognizant of his actions and choices can take a wrong turn - and the attention to understanding the processes of such a choice makes Shattered Directions a vivid, compelling read that proves hard to put down.
Under Dreyfus's hand, Harry's motivations are impeccably logical and Harry's conflicts and conundrums as he attempts to follow his career and ethical dreams, only to find both on a different path, are wonderfully presented. The psychology infused throughout the story line is exquisite, and lend power and grace to a wonderfully thought-provoking read.
The psychological detail succeeds in creating a vibrant portrait of how principles become warped even when self-knowledge of actions and their consequences is strong: "I have my own struggles with being in this business. Some days I think I will just quit and go back to Samy’s Camera and just sell cameras. On other days I think perhaps I can make a difference by doing better films, not smut. I can save some money and then do what I want to do.”
How do one's ideals, in general, become thwarted and changed; and how does one young man struggle with his growing involvement in the porn industry? Where other coverages might lack psychological depth, Shattered Direction offers a vividly precise story line that is firmly based on family and social psychology, creating a finely-tuned and revealing read which will attract any reader who enjoys powerful depth in their stories.Shattered Direction
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Many Boots, So Little Time
Kalan Chapman Lloyd
Lloyd Words, LLC
9781523744978 Price 7.99 eBook, 14.99 print, audio TBA
So Many Boots, So Little Time: The MisAdventures of Miss Lilly,Volume Three provides a fun sequel and romp through the ongoing adventures of sassy Miss Lilly, introduced in prior books, and opens with Miss Lilly facing the unwelcome return of a character from her past. While all this may indicate that readers need to have a prior familiarity with Miss Lilly and her world, it should be advised that newcomers will find themselves on the roller-coaster adventure of her life before they quite know they've gotten on the ride: it's that compelling and that easy to slip into and understand Miss Lilly's world.
And, what a world it is! Miss Lilly is a spicy Southern lady in a small Oklahoma town whose spunky attitude towards life is matched only by a flair for irony and candor: "Drop dead.” I told the gutless wonder I once told I’d marry…Van can be charming. A very charming asshole who had cheated on me with his secretary. It had taken me some time to discover that all of Van’s supposed charm was just a jacked-up compilation of thin affectations." Dialogue is rich and observations pointed as Miss Lilly faces down flames past and present, cattle rustlers, her career as an attorney, family connections and complications, and much more.
Indeed, readers new to Miss Lilly will find her a sassy kind of woman who is smart, tough, and who does yoga on the side. It's a mixed plate of talent, ambition, and savvy that translates well to an ongoing story of ranch mysteries and struggles with dynamic personalities who attempt to derail her life.
Southern manners, romantic ghosts from the past who keep on chasing her, a life on the run from too many disappointments (only to have them pursue her and show up on her doorstep bringing the baggage of more problems along for the ride), and the impossible search for cattle rustlers and good men all wind into another satisfyingly fun western-themed 'chic lit' novel that is at once sassy, invigorating, and filled with dialogue, guns, mystery and lies, and so much more.
Prior fans will be delighted at the new twists and turns in So Many Boots, So Little Time, which stay true to the character and concerns of Miss Lilly's turbulent life and career, while newcomers who have entered the roller coaster of her life will not only find themselves hanging on for the rollicking ride, but returning to prior books for more adventures.So Many Boots, So Little Time
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ISBN: 978-1530533466 $13.10
Brent and Angela, an attorney and a FBI agent, are about to solidify their relationship until Brent's latest case lands him in direct opposition to not only the FBI's processes, but the ethical boundaries of his own profession. Suddenly all the solid foundations of his life are called into question: his career, his love, and his friendships - and all over the death of a scientist, which appears to hold sinister implications of a dangerous plot.
Readers who relish courtroom dramas will find much to love in the feisty character of Brent, who willingly goes out of his way to defend an underdog who may be innocent even if it involves spying, ferreting out secrets, and destroying his life and career in the name of justice and pursuing what is right.
It's these dilemmas, injected into courtroom proceedings, which makes The Spy Files such a powerful read: readers simply don't expect that many of Brent's foundations (laid out in prior books) will be shaken up so thoroughly in this story.
Brent is the kind of attorney who goes to bat for the little guy against all odds, and he will even change his life for what he believes to be right. Action is swift as he challenges the forces amassing against him - including his own beloved girlfriend - in the fight for what he believes.
It's these moments of conviction and willingness to not just take risks, but to risk everything, that makes Brent such a likeable character. Eade paints the portrait of a man who is not foolhardy or unbelievable, but real human being who faces ethical and moral challenges and temptations to support the status quo. His uncanny ability to stick to his guns for he believes is right, despite his sorrows, pain, and uncertainties during the process, makes for a riveting read.
Larger, real-world themes of surveillance, government control of public records, privacy challenges, and intrusion on the private lives of citizens are embedded into the story line, offering a contemporary perspective that embraces all of the headline news surrounding Homeland Security activities and citizen rights.
Readers who love vivid courtroom dramas, detective and spy sagas, and a plot immersed in the latest social concerns of modern times will find The Spy Files a spellbinding, highly recommended addition to the ongoing stories of Brent Marks. While no prior familiarity with the series is required for a smooth read of his latest adventures, most newcomers will want to return to the prior, equally powerful books once they absorb the character and concerns of this feisty, involved attorney who moves beyond professional boundaries to set his life and job on the line in the name of justice.The Spy Files
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Once upon a time, two idealistic college students, Jacqueline and Dalton, met at a New Year's Eve party, and their very different trajectories in life resulted in a love affair that should never have happened. What began as a friendship evolved into something else, with nasty consequences for both individuals.
Thirty years later, the fated couple is destined to meet again. One has become the writer he's always needed to be, and the other is a divorcee whose dreams have dissolved under the harsh battering ram of life. Thirty years has also changed the world around them, but the seeds of what they left behind so long ago sprout once again, under different circumstances, and with light dose of baggage from the past that will either cause love to re-blossom or once again poison both their lives.
The Sweet Charm of Distance delicately traces this process of reunion and reinvention with a light hand that doesn't overwhelm readers seeking a romance infused with humor, irony, and the passing of the Baby Boomer generation's dreams.
Perhaps this is because Jared Glovsky uses the first person to get inside each protagonist's head, reviewing their past, their emotions, and their different perceptions of the future.
Dalton's published a book that has launched his career far beyond anything he could have imagined during his days with Jacqueline; while Jacqueline's dreams of saving the world have crashed and burned, and she's not even been able to save herself.
Once again, their trajectories are different. The question is: will they merge this time, or fail once again? There are other questions as well, keeping readers intrigued and on their toes; but the story is light-hearted even as it closely examines epic failures and uncertain successes, and it flows smoothly enough to coax readers along without bashing them over the head with angst and nonstop action.
The pace is a lope to a trot at the most - convincing, easy to keep up with, and slow enough to create compelling characters that are influenced by the events of the last decades.
Where does idealism end and practical, achievable change begin? What would have happened if they had chosen a reckless leap of faith, and how do their decisions change things thirty years later? Do their connections promise lasting love or, once again, only a temporary affair?
Readers of light romance who grew up in a generation fueled by the notion that "all you need is love" will find themselves questioning many beliefs during the course of this engrossing story, which is firmly centered in new possibilities arising, like a Phoenix, from old connections.The Sweet Charm of Distance
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Paperback ISBN 978-1-937487-85-0 $14.99
eBook ISBN 978-1-937487-86-7
Narrative poetry readers well know that many of the true 'classics' of this literary form have not only been written hundreds of years ago, but appear only rarely, compared to other poetic and literary styles. Indeed, the epic narrative poem has largely gone by the wayside in modern times, with the exception of Christopher Hassett's The Boundary Stone, a production some ten years in the making.
The Boundary Stone eventually grew to embrace 300 poems, then was edited back to the structure seen here: 70 poems carefully woven together to form an epic saga about a nomad wandering through the aftermath of an apocalypse.
The narrator stumbles through this smoky world with only a bone lit from its fires for illumination when he comes upon a glass-fused hole in the desert and throws himself down it in despair, presenting shades of "Ozymandias" and Danté in a vivid description that will shake readers to their poetic roots.
Each piece of this vivid collection holds multiple meanings - the flame of the narrator's heart is love, but the flame of his discovery lies in a torched bone reminiscent of humanity itself - both illuminating his path through past, present, and future options.
Descriptions of this blasted landscape are vividly wrought: "The trails through arroyos and those in the hills become/deadpaths of bone and darked plainswood, skeletal saguaros/and sparceoak,/and the peaks above and the towering basalts, where tree/stone and sun and calendar steps, scripted piers, altars of let,/stairglyphs told to temple mouths,/all in the ashfall stood spectral." Through this example (just one tiny segment of a greater whole), readers can gain a sense of just what can be done with the epic narrative poem, which cannot be similarly achieved using a different structure with roots in either other poetry or fiction.
One might anticipate, through this example, that The Boundary Stone will be a complex and challenging read; and that it is - but with the added note that it is accessible, stimulating, and vivid even to those unfamiliar with this style. The caveat here is that The Boundary Stone is not a collection to be read quickly, but a thought-provoking series of images and philosophical reflections best digested a little at a time.
In this ever-faster modern world where "high speed" and "high octane action" are revered, this requirement for reflective, slow, thoughtful reading could prove a challenge for some, but especially in an era where the epic narrative has all but vanished, The Boundary Stone stands out as a rarity in the poetry world.
But, soft! As one descends with the protagonist into the pits of Hell and hope and back up again, a transformation happens. The complex, the challenging, and the thought-provoking become compelling and visionary, while any preconceived obstacles to understanding fall away.
In the end, what is left is a saga of enrichment, discovery, and a new process of "becoming" something different in this strange new world. And what, exactly, is that?
Pursue The Boundary Stone in all its nuances to find out. Fans of the epic poetry narrative and newcomers to the form are in for a real treat, here: but be prepared to descend with the observer in the story into the depths of destruction to arrive at the heart of resurrection.The Boundary Stone
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Wait For The River
Inspiration Pointe Press, an imprint of Over And Above Press
I Wait For The River is a free verse poetry collection of some sixty pages of heartfelt pieces entwining the author's growth process with meditative observations of nature. It's a collection embedded with the quiet passion of Zen. Each poem represents a piece of this evolutionary process, taking seeds of reflection and inspiration and following their outward trajectories through change and transformation.
The progressive journey begins with 'The River', where the author's desire to "wait for the river to wash over me/to carry me" evolves into a fear of the unknown and the desire for a type of change that doesn't bring pain ("I want the river/to carry me with kindness/around the bends…").
From the unfulfilled promises of peaceful nights to attempts to recapture youth's ability to live in the moment ("I want to practice what I knew then/to be in the only moment I can be/with these words/and the rich bounty of space/between words/where the wildflower still waits."), these aren't life passages unique to the author, but moment-by-moment representations of universal experiences.
Perhaps the greatest strength of I Wait For The River lies in its ability to precisely and succinctly capture these turning points in life. Those intersections between instances when possibilities are perceived and pivot points when choices are made come alive under Russo's pen.
Poetry enthusiasts with some background in meditation, Zen, and concepts of gratitude and acknowledgment will especially relish these pieces for their precision, seasonal connections, and, most of all, for their lovely illustrations of a blossoming life.
I Wait For The River is ultimately about how to meet the tumbling uncertainties of a life-carrying river with a sense of purpose, acceptance, and awe: an approach that advocates discovery and embraces change.
Crystalline in its beautiful descriptions, I Wait For The River is a roadmap to greeting the morning, surviving the darkness, and relishing all facets of life.I Wait For The River
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Susan J. Berger
Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
Hardcover ISBN: 9781616334307
Paperback ISBN: 9781933090665
Ebook ISBN: 9781935137542
The second edition of Earthquake, a fine primer for all ages, opens with a simple, eye-catching discussion of why nobody can dig to China, using bright cut-away illustrations of the planet's layers and highlighted 'factoid' sidebars of information to enhance a lively, chatty discussion of earthquake facts.
The first thing to note about Earthquake is that it offers more than its competitors in several areas. Consider its lively but fact-rich focus, which offers clear emphasis where others might bog down in detail: "The points where the plates meet each other are called Faults or Fault lines. A fault is a very dangerous place. When two plates bump each other, Watch out! Bumping causes Earthquakes. Bumping causes Tsunamis."
Another thing to consider is that Earthquake is loaded with a variety of illustrations by accomplished graphic artist Eugene E. Ruble, offering fun cartoon examples and easy charts, and it also is packed with practical information on what to do during an earthquake ("If you are indoors, STAY THERE. Move into a hallway if you can or stand by an inside wall. You can also get under a desk or a table and hang on to it. (It’s a roller coaster ride. Remember?)
Some thirty pages cover all facets of earthquakes, from their science and impact to what individuals can do both for their own safety and for other earthquake victims.
The result is a lively and fun picture book that makes for a winning, educational read suitable for both elementary-level leisure readers and students alike.Earthquake
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Girl Who Could Read Hearts
ISBN: 978-1-5043-5111-9 (sc)
ISBN: 978-1-5043-5113-3 (hc)
ISBN: 978-1-5043-5112-6 (e)
The Girl Who Could Read Hearts opens with six-year-old Kate, who huddles in the safe embrace of a walnut tree in Berkeley, California. At this point, Kate is clueless about her hidden intuitive powers and the presence of an angel on her birthday cake, who is charged with overseeing the evolution of a soul eons old, belaying her latest six-year-old incarnation's physical age.
While the story line focuses on the evolution of Kate's powers and her growing relationship with this angel overseer, it's also a story of parents and others who view her visions as a form of mental illness and who try to help her accordingly.
The Girl Who Could Read Hearts may be directed to young adult audiences, but the first thing to know about Kate and her world is that her ability to 'read' others and effect changes that might not be entirely desirable makes for a compelling tale that many an adult will also want to read.
As events unfold and Kate finds herself caught in a web of self-discovery and self-induced interventions, facing the consequences of her choices as her abilities grow, so readers are drawn into a plot that pairs a story of growing faith and evolving talents with a myriad of social, political and personal conflicts along the way.
Sherry Maysonave's ability to juxtapose inner and outer worlds for a maximum sense of impact and her realistic portrayal of a youngster's world make for satisfying blends of extraordinary and ordinary experiences: "See, you’re not such a smarty pants after all. Like you can’t even win a game for four-year-olds,” Marilla Marzy taunted."
Medical procedures and murder, teen angst and police involvements, eating disorders and intrigue, and interactions with the afterlife push The Girl Who Could Read Hearts into unexpected directions. Readers won't expect to find these themes wound into an overall saga of a girl's awakening abilities; but they are an intrinsic piece of a plot that combines spiritual reflections with social issues, and they make for a complex web of events that succeed in creating a moving, memorable story.
The Girl Who Could Read Hearts is a highly recommended, evocative read for young adult to adult audiences who are interested in stories of evolution, spiritual guidance, and ultimately, hope.The Girl Who Could Read Hearts
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Amazon Digital Servics
ASIN: B018EQLQ5E $3.49
Almost everyone has experienced the nightmare of being hunted - running across the land in a heart-pounding terror with something close on your heels. Don't look back, or it will get you. But the temptation's there…and so you LOOK….
Ken Brosky's The Proving feels much the same way as it builds heart-stopping terror through a protagonist on a life-threatening run through a forest, compelling its readers to LOOK behind her and face the beast. But the protagonist is running for more than her life alone: it's for the sake of her unborn child and for a message that desperately needs to be transmitted. And her flight is not a drill; it's through a deadly world that hasn't been the same since the alien Specters invaded Earth over a hundred years earlier, treating the planet as a living buffets by devouring any humans who dare to venture out from hiding.
In this world a new order has arisen among the youth, who have formed clans to survive, and who face hard truths and new opportunities in their uncertain futures. In this world, a "Proving" solidifies a young adult's entry into adulthood. Mind you, the protagonists are supposed to be on the cusp of adulthood; but they still very much act like children - possibly due to their circumstances and perhaps because some teens do still act younger than their years even while tackling adult-sized problems.
There are several things to note about The Proving. One is that it's a young adult read, offering a myriad of characters and an absorbing setting reminiscent of The 5th Wave. Think War of the Worlds or The White Mountains, but where the tripods have won. Think of different responsibilities undertaken by each individual within the larger Clan structure, which present obstacles to a new mission that runs directly to the heart of who the Specters are and the logic of their actions.
Another note is that there are five main protagonists who each bring to the table different perspectives on the problems and issues of their world. As action switches between them and grows heated, it's the mature and savvy young adult reader who will find that this is the one adventure that doesn't 'dumb down' its action, but which keeps readers guessing and on their toes to follow changing perspectives and characters.
At times the protagonists sound like children and at times they seem to possess a sense of duty and wisdom well beyond their stated ages. Welcome to young adulthood!
The Proving provides a gripping, involving scenario that offers a number twists and turns (wormholes, a pilgrimage to New Earth, a sense of loss, hope, and struggle; all wound into teen angst) and demands of its readers a willingness to perceive the flexibility in its characters. Only a few other notable sci-fi readers for this age range charges its protagonists with coming-of-age tests similar to The Proving (such was the scenario in The White Mountains, in which three teens undertake the monumental task of changing their alien-infested world.)
Young adults who love scenarios in which teens are tested and move beyond the boundaries of their tests to prove they are not just ready for adulthood, but can supersede many of its mandates to succeed where adults have failed, will relish the complexity and action in The Proving. Set in a world where the hunted can become the hunter, the teens search for answers that have long been buried in despair.The Proving
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of the Oceanides
978-1523214037 Price: $25.99
As young adult fantasies flood the market (many offering genre reads that seem all too alike), many a teen seek something different that stands out from the crowd. Song of the Oceanides is that item of choice, making its mark not by the usual sword-and-sorcery approach, but by combining elements of steampunk, timeslip, history, and adding a dash of romance into the mix.
All these elements work wonderfully, but demand an audience of mature teen to adult readers who are willing to read out of the genre box in exchange for a delightfully complex, engrossing romp through worlds that are not quite logical and predictable. Young adults should anticipate a Twilight Zone feel to this emotional piece which tweaks one's heartstrings, causing readers to fall in love with the lives and predicaments of two girls on Mars who are abandoned there, and who must make their way in a strange new world.
The story starts with a bang ("From the moment Emmylou heard the song of the Oceanides, she recognized something godly in the tune. As it resounded all across the desolate shoreline of Blue Hill Bay, she recalled the terrible chorus mysticus ringing all throughout that extinct Martian volcano the day her father went missing down in the magma chamber.") and it's nonstop engagement from that moment on as a handicapped girl who longs for her missing volcanologist father adds much more onto her plate of angst.
The surreal feel of Song of the Oceanides is translated through precise descriptions that simultaneously explain and create setting ("You’ve no cause to fear the Oceanides. They should never harm a Martian girl like you. Do you know why the Venutians sent them here? Thousands of years ago, up there on that invisible moon orbiting their planet, some or other duchess decided to send the Oceanides as intelligencers. Just in case Venus ever resolves to conquer this world.”). The power lies in J.G. Źymbalist's ability to intrigue and immerse readers by crafting protagonists who are living, breathing forces traversing an alien environment.
Mature teens will delight in an approach that binds readers to the concerns and psyches of the characters even as it deftly solidifies the features of this world and the underlying purposes of its various factions. And while Źymbalist's pace is fast, requiring some slower readers to trot to keep up, it's not going to leave many behind in its pursuit of suspense, mystery, and an intriguing series of dilemmas.
A series of riveting scenes involving aliens and a young girl's determination to carry out a mentor's life work come together in a resounding, satisfying clash of action. Can time be changed and obsessions fixed, and can champions emerge from a parent's extraordinary study? The progress and premises of Song of the Oceanides hold no guarantees: to find the answers, mature teens to adults will simply have to hold on for a wild ride.Song of the Oceanides
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