May 2021 Review Issue
Fantasy & Sci Fi
Literature Mystery & Thrillers
Ti and the Earthling Inventor
John P. Boyle
9798612240686 $5.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
stumbling onto the power source for an alien spacecraft. In Alien Ti and the Earthling Inventor: Where
Science and Space Collide, inventor Philip finds an amazing
that, less fortunately, places him in the crosshairs of aliens who want
only retrieve it, but kill the man who would use it.
Ti is a mercenary sent to Earth to perform this dastardly deed. But
no lowly nerd and proves himself fully capable of defending himself and
discovery...even against superior alien technology. Even if his aim is
P. Boyle injects a wry sense of humor into the situation as Philip's
larger-than-life dreams and initial attempts to profit from his
bombing. His frustrated schemes and remarks on their failures provide
tongue-in-cheek fun: Philip gets into his
car and begins to drive away, just as the owner shouts after him: "If
junk doesn't hold up, you'll be hearing from me." Philip smiles and
to him...then grimaces. Now why did he have to call it junk?"
arduous treks up snow-covered trails to mishaps which plague the
often-bumbling Philip, Ti is diverted from his mission, and even comes
emphasize with the human as he observes this savvy inventor building
UFO and somewhat successfully testing it.
only the world is set to change. So is Ti's mission and loyalty to his
ability to pack fun and high drama into a story a little over a hundred
in length creates a blend of struggle and humor that is refreshing.
more going on than self-realization, shifting alliances, questionable
or the outcomes of a clash between alien and human, here.
readers who appreciate both humor and the intersection of science and
interests will relish the tale that unfolds, which holds many
and turns as Philip and Ti embark on a journey that will change both of
entertaining and whimsical as well as filled with battles and
many levels, Alien Ti and the Earthling
Inventor: Where Science and Space Collide is an excellent
for sci-fi readers looking for something a bit out of the box and
portrayed, over the usual alien/human confrontation.
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Lox Volume 1: The
Home of the Damned Ltd.
$22.00 Paper/$32.00 hardcover; $4.99 ebook
Volume 1: The Missing Princess was
released as three ebooks: Archibald
Lox and the Bridge Between Worlds;
Archibald Lox and the Empress of Suanpan; and Archibald Lox and the
Alignment. This edition brings all three under one cover for
the first time
and will delight young adults who choose this fantasy for uninterrupted
story opens in a "house of death" still stunned by loss where the
young London narrator, a foster child, struggles to deal with an
has resulted in a great grief. How easy it would have been for him to
through a few simple words of warning. How easy it is to regret what is
unsaid, and the consequences that stem from inaction.
encounter with a girl who is running away from a threat changes
thrusting him into a parallel universe filled with evil characters, new
friends, and a newfound mission that takes him away from everything
known...and from his sadness.
by his experiences to reconsider what is real and visible and what is
to most people around him, Archibald moves from witnessing something
to being a part of that unlikely world and mission.
magic lies not just around him but within him as his innate skills for
locks prove to be a saving ability that leads him to realize that only
the key to fighting repressive forces that would change and control
Shan does a masterful job of capturing young Archibald's conundrums and
choices: "I’m different. If I fled, I could
pretend it never happened, convince myself that I dreamt the whole
on with life as before. Except…I’d know. Deep in my heart, I’d know, and I’d always hate myself for
accepting the limits that everyone else in the world accepts, when I
that there’s so much more for me to explore. Adults often tell us kids
act without thinking. They say we don’t consider the consequences of
we make. That’s always made me roll my eyes, but maybe they’re right.
If I was
older, I think I’d hesitate, analyse things to death, probably decide
risks are too great. But I’m not a grown-up."
by strong evolving interpersonal connections between the protagonist
kings, and adversaries alike, Archibald Lox Volume 1: The Missing Princess is fantasy, mystery, and a coming of age story all
in one. Think The Lion, The Witch and the
but with an even stronger focus on the process by which a grieving
falls into his powers to change the world.
gripping saga that will
be appreciated not just by the young adult audiences who likely will
but by adults who enjoy Philip Pullman and other strong YA authors who
fantasy worlds appealing to young and old alike.
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Keegan and Tristen Kozinski
978-0998244020 $18.00 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
The Darkness That Slept is the first book
in the Chronicles of the
Far Dawn series, and tells of the reawakening of an ancient terror that
from deep within The North. The New Order has invaded The North,
demons with them. The High-Warden of Winsyria guards against the
threats that reside in the Mortal Kingdoms. The Lord of Antiark stands
those who would profit from war, and the North is gathering its
the struggle ahead.
A host of
interact during this epic fantasy struggle. Each region holds its
interests, affecting the outcome of changing interactions with
kingdoms as they cultivate schemes that support their own disparate
As old nightmares emerge to shatter long-held pacts, alliances, and
long-trusted havens and routines, The
Darkness That Slept presents many characters who are each
confront their own abilities, values, and ambitions.
feel of this story is supercharged by opposing forces who exchange the
throughout the story. Time is taken to explore each of these major
This attention to detail may prove challenging to those who seek less
description and more action; but will delight readers who enjoy complex
that make the effort to deeply explore all the overt and hidden
features of this
fantasy bring to mind The Lord of the Rings. There's a Dread Lord,
a ring, and a quest. Disparate forces clash on both physical and
arenas. The epic fight between darkness and light is captured through
experiences of different sides. From imminent invasions to power plays
Wardens, Lords, and gladiators, this world is filled with forces that
fall more on the side of darkness than light.
plays and battles are at their darkest, the character of teen genius
Lammerock enters the picture to introduce a wry sense of humor into the
mix: "Slade let his head drop backward,
grinning at his stunned audience before wrenching free and walking up
wall to stand upon the ceiling. There he reproduced his six colored
tossed them at the ground only to watch as they fell back toward him.
Unperturbed, he started juggling upside down. Murmurs spread through
Questions about whether his tricks weren’t magic after all."
just these characters but the milieu they navigate are particularly
well-detailed, creating strong atmospheric backdrops that compliment
action: "Despite the Dread Lord's
urgency, he progressed slowly, impeded by a morass of latent power, so
became a physical burden, and coughing fits provoked by the centuries
accumulated dust. Nondescript black doors looked on from either side of
ancient, mostly forgotten passageways, offering no solace and denying
entrance. As he ventured deeper into the palace, the labyrinth grew
the magic denser until his skin vibrated with it. His blood flashed
chillingly cold to boiling hot ceaselessly, his clothing fluttered
lack of wind, and his braid writhed on his back. Even the stone had
pliant over the years and now yielded beneath his steps."
Kozinski are especially adept at capturing the energy behind commanding
positions, the interplay between characters that hold different
power and control, and the threats of chaos which test even the most
As the great
wall becomes poised to fail, so are those who believe in its
and their own abilities to thwart forces beyond their ken, which
soul-destroying threats: "In their
zenith, the Dragon Lords warded three evils. The first they buried in
lies, and veils; the second they imprisoned with silver, ice, and
the last they broke and scattered. These represented their greatest
these evils constantly stirred, and whether through happenstance or
children, and beasts always found them. Time and again the Dragon Lords
suppressed these evils, but never before they wrought fathomless grief
world. The Dragon Lords were mortal, forbidden the omnipresence of
thus lost perception of the evils when they appeared, excluding only
evil, which never stirred."
The Darkness That Slept sets the stage
for more stories, crafting a
firm foundation of interest with explorations of fear, hope, and a
involving a door, a ring, and a renewed purpose in life.
enjoy Lord of the Rings and similar
adventures that embrace an emerging new land that challenges the
psyches of its
peoples will find The Darkness That Slept
a gripping read. It's filled with action, insights, and confrontations
disparate forces in a world gone amok—a fitting read for a new
dark fantasy and sword and sorcery followers.
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Daniel R Scott
Clipper Implants Press
978-1734050738 $16.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
The Last Crucible of Humanity is the
third volume in the Humanity
Transformed series, and is highly recommended reading for prior series
because this pinnacle of action concludes the events set forth in prior
the Chinese over the Russian border to invade the Morizov family's land
their country, in 2068. As if this wasn't danger enough, the West's
attack has devastated other parts of Russia.
hatches a plan that could help survivors begin a new life—not in Russia
lands nearby, but first from Antarctica and then away from Earth. It's
that relies on high technology, the goodwill gained from other peoples
nations, and allies who grow in leadership skills and survival tactics
2068, but moves into 2073 and beyond as the technologically savvy
Vik face prejudice, confront class systems, and move through
remain rooted in China, Russia, or the Middle East. Characters and
interests embrace the world, from Couderay, Wisconsin (where a Middle
Confederation is home to enhancement clinics for the general
performing bioengineering miracles) to Borlänge, Sweden (where the
Commonwealth faces oligarchs, attacks, and reconstituted forces that
changed and are changing the face of Europe).
story is a sweeping sci-fi epic of humanity changed by social,
technological struggles. Without prior familiarity with the other
large cast of characters, special interests, and interactions might
enjoyed the evolutionary process of Scott's prior books will find a
satisfyingly complex crescendo of action and crisis in a conclusion
humanity faces its final search for meaning beyond the foundations of
Morizov stands at the crossroads of humanity. Their choices reflect a
transformation in social and military processes and human interaction
truly change the world.
of apocalyptic and dystopian worlds will find the intense focus on
community and political structures to be especially pleasing. Scott
technological and social challenges, cementing all with a host of
characters who each contribute their own vision and purpose of this
humanity to the story's surprising outcome.
reading for sci-fi fans of post-apocalyptic epic sagas, in particular.
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Daniel R Scott
Clipper Implants Press
978-1734050745 $5.50 Paper/$.99 Kindle
begin Daniel R. Scott's Humanity Transformed series with a fitting
will find the prequel novella Oh the
Humanity an excellent starting point, even though it's the
fourth book in
It fills in
about the three main characters and smoothes out any confusion over
sparked by the Days of Trouble and the Great Dieback,
humanity recovered from and was influenced by events which sent them on
course documented in the three Humanity Transformed books in this
how the genius Cameron twins featured in Scott's other books
fostered the bioengineering promise that transformed humanity, tracing
of Singularity and intelligent AIs that interact with key human players
change the course of the world.
intelligences and human purposes evolve, readers are treated to a
overview of the world in the 2060s that provides a closer inspection of
As with the
books, a host of characters are presented, as well as changing world
from Illinois to Australia. Young people such as Darby and Daiyu are
in the latest cutting-edge research, and stand poised to make changes
life that humanity has never seen before.
for such a move?
history of survival and change should ideally be read first. It's a
stage-setting introduction to the series and its characters, which is
especially important given the worldwide scope and the wide-ranging
personalities that develop from these roots.
It should be
that this is no light series read. It entertains, but involves a level
complexity with a wide cast of characters, changing international
political and technological conundrums that keep readers on their toes.
who enjoy well-detailed reads will be especially delighted by the level
inspection offered in this story and its companions.
post-apocalyptic singularity stories will find this sweeping series and
introductory title to be absolutely riveting.
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Thousand Acres Press
978-1-7362988-1-7 $14.99 Paper/$9.49 Kindle
Qwyrk's blend of magical realism, urban
fantasy, and wry humor will
appeal to fantasy readers who look for more elements in their reading
action and adventure alone. It will prove just the ticket for fans of
satire and social inspection.
Qwyrk opens in Jimmy Eckleson's bedroom,
where the stuff of
nightmares has come alive, resulting in his sleepless inspection of a
filled with threat. An avid fan of video games, Jimmy chalks up these
to too much screen time fantasy, but as the third night unfolds much
despite his self-limit on video watching, Jimmy faces the fact that he
observing something both otherworldly and all too real.
is to call for help. Even as he runs from his visions, the humor of a
frustrated apparition comes forth: "Throwing
the door open, he rushed into the safety of the hallway, yelling at the
his lungs: “Mum! Dad! HELP!” He didn’t dare look back. If he had, he
noticed one of the shadows turning to the others, flinging its spectral
in the air in… exasperation?"
dialogue, too, is
filled with irony and fun: “Oh, nice one,
Qwyrk!” snapped one of the other shadows. “Bring us all the way up
here, and as
soon as we arrive, we’ve got a flippin’ screamin’ kid to greet us.
spot on, that is!” “Look, it’s not my fault he’s got insomnia, or
Black Death, or whatever, is it? His parents’ll be back in here any
we need to hide, all right?”
Tao, and others confront murderers, gods, and each other, it becomes
that, despite the youth of the initial character, Qwyrk
should not be a read confined to young adult audiences alone.
quest; it's a
lark that romps through human and magical worlds alike; and it's a
delightful saga set in Northern England. The story is steeped in not
but the connections between a rosebush, evil magic, and Jimmy's house,
serves as a focal point for unfolding events.
intersecting time periods to abductions via Croakbeak and knights who
murdering psychopath get away, Qwyrk
is engaging, endearing, and unpredictable in its human and magical
relationships and conundrums.
enjoy magical realism injected into the everyday milieu of British life
relish the nature of Qwyrk, first
a projected series of stories about misfits and the sometimes-hilarious
that evolve from seemingly good intentions.
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978-1-7350915-4-9 $14.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
reaches fantasy and horror readers alike with an engrossing
world where unexpected humorous observations give the story an
Zombies are no laughing
matter...especially to a
dedicated golfer who won't forego the sport just because the world has
into a mass of zombies, changing even the familiar atmosphere of the
fairway: "The constant hum of golf carts, the
clink-thwack from the driving
and the mutter of men enjoying the outdoors is all gone."
It's a world in which the
narrator can suddenly afford
the finest club, because there's nobody manning the pro shop. And he
with gun at ready in case of zombies.
He's been alone for months,
golfing and shooting zombies.
A woman's arrival seems to portend that his isolation might end, though
caution leads him to question her arrival and bloody countenance (“ 'What are you doing out here?' she asks.
'Just playing golf, shooting zombies. You know, typical Wednesday
the office.' You slick devil,
whispers my brain buddy.").
It evolves that the zombies
aren't brainless, but are
actually clever, organized, and purposeful. The narrator finds himself
stuck in pause on the course, but involved with a zombie leader, a
and the possibility that only he can save the world...if he can give up
club and the fairway long enough to do so.
Greg Rode's special blend of
unexpected twists and turns, and a post-apocalyptic world filled with
surprises will especially attract readers of zombie literature looking
fresh, original take on the subject.
Black and white
illustrations pepper a story that is at
once gory, engrossing, and filled with flawed heroes and threats.
This isn't your usual zombie
scenario. The narrator isn't
your typical world-saving hero. And readers will find this special
horror and dystopian bloodbath a satisfying illustration of how satire
irony can alter even the most predictable of genres and worlds to
presents a world not to be missed. It is a refreshingly original read
especially recommended for zombie apocalypse fans who think they've
It should be warned that
this is Book 1 of the Sanctuary
Chronicles. Be prepared for more.
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T is for
$9.95 Paper/$19.95 Hardcover/$4.99 Kindle/$14.95 Large print
T Is for Time Travel: A Collection of Timely Short Stories offers ten sci-fi tales that revolve around time travel, but move beyond the usual scenario of time travel journeys that involve searching for the key to either change history or return home.
eschews these staid trappings in favor of a series of surprising
that take the time travel notion one step beyond the usual expectation,
this is what makes this collection an outstanding presentation, in
its literary prowess.
the collection with its reflection on a traveler trapped in a wall
on a table, forced to jump every time the hand moves. How did Ollie
trapped inside a clock? And what is the price of freedom?
tongue-in-cheek dilemma that leads him to do more than jump through
(literally). First, he must break it. Then, he must face the Clockmaker.
This is just
example of the many time travel surprises, dashes of humor, and fun
explorations that Bellan offers.
different example of this collection's diversity, take 'Behind the
Here, B'litk has an unorthodox plan to reach the other side of a
which holds an unknown entity. His attempts to communicate with
has no knowledge about is intriguing: "I
am, right now, in a very precarious position in the timestream side of
rectangle, having a conversation with you, in whatever dimension you
on the other side of the rectangle. From your point of view, what is
with me has actually already happened on your side, which is why you
it already written on your side of the rectangle. Got it?”
time. It's his duty to restore it. And he needs help.
collection is unique unto itself, from the tale of a Djinn who grants
travel journeys to that of a spaceship ensign faced with impossible
Each holds a power and surprising twist even the most avid time travel
enthusiast won't see coming. Each is well-done, compelling, and
readers are in for a real treat with T Is for Time Travel, a
collection filled with delightful twists and turns.
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978-1-62253-371-8 $16.95 Paper/$4.95 Kindle
The Triskelion represents the second book
in the New Earth
Chronicles and continues a journey through a post-apocalyptic world
in The Augur's View.
2037, setting the tone for events with an 'Arrivals and Departures'
that takes place on an airfield where the royal Dora d’Arc is about to
will change. She's seen her share of controversy. But married bliss is
be her lot as aliens conspire to inject the population with
nanites; Caellum plots a coup and escapes from jail; and forest dweller
creates a sanctuary of replenishment and earth-based approaches to life
city people rarely see, as an alternative to Techno City's familiar
lifestyles and approaches run the gamut from pagan earth mothers to
high-tech. They make
The Triskelion especially intriguing
Dora and her objectives and changing environment come to life: “But Mom’s not of royal descent. She’s
actually descended from countless generations of druids.” This piqued
interest. “Weren’t they pagans?” He shrugged. “They’re basically Celtic
lovers.” The elevator reached Dora’s floor first. As the door opened,
sighed wistfully. “Nature. We city people enjoy only tame tidbits of
it. I miss
my little garden in Techno City.”
fluid as the world and introduce complexity beyond the usual
scenarios, as in the mercurial connection between Dora and Caellum: "The accusation mode he had switched to
and remained in since his capture bound his tongue, and his
anguish on Dora’s features. Her tone chided him. “I can’t believe you
again. You think I conspired against you? Is this the knowledge I’m to
be left with
for the rest of my life? That you never, ever came to trust me?”
delightful complexity to the story, in which shades of gray create
absorbing interplays between characters, politics, social evolution,
world's uncertain progression.
titles, no prior familiarity with its predecessor is required in order
newcomers to neatly and quickly absorb the setting, characters, and
themes of The Triskelion.
series titles that operate as both strong stand-alone reads and
parts of the series as a whole will especially appreciate the engaging
sci-fi, suspense, mystery, romance, in the story of this changing
reconnections to the earth.
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Brian Ascalon Roley
Finishing Line Press
Author website: ww.brianroley.com
is a poetic journey through a
father's struggles with his son's disability. The second poem adopts a
"how could you let this happen?" lament that defines the nature of
the book's title, emerging from a 1901 setting in the jungles of Luzon
the violent American occupation of the Philippines to depict the
being hunted and attacked in an unfamiliar intersection between dreams
Brian Ascalon Roley moves from the initial diagnosis of his son's
adjusting his role to become parent and caregiver, Philippine horror
mythology is injected into the lives of a California family to
series of poems firmly rooted in past, present, and Asian and Western
expect this collection to be replete in sadness alone. There is rage
there are transformative moments, and there are words and visions
Filipino legends and realities: "Even
in Santa Monica/my lola would tell my sister and I/to watch out for the
aswang/and we would say “But/we are in California”/to which she replied
does not/matter. They follow the Filipina wherever she/may live in
aswang and boyhood memories brought about in nightmares and dreams
with his much-changed world and a future he'd never imagined. The poems
his interactions with the medical community, well-meaning platitudes,
helpful (and sometimes unhelpful) efforts of others as they enter and
this family's life and struggles, and a father's ability to come to
his present and future: "They say
there is no point in asking why/god decays the bodies/he gave us, a
time to try/we need to get on with it./We are not to decide for them,
or try to
change/them, as if they need fixing."
will find familiar these chronicles of love and pain, the struggle of
reconciling daily care with life's challenges, and the efforts to
cause and effect (which, in the case of disability, may be impossible
discern): "You didn’t do anything
wrong, he said./We must have done something, she said,/something I ate,
maybe I shouldn’t have worked/so late/or stressed out so much/I knew I
shouldn’t have taken a flu shot/(she looked into the mirror: mouthed:
with literary excellence, cultural and social reflection, philosophical
inspection, and many ghosts, Ambuscade
is a powerful poetic journey through one man's heart. Perhaps the words
poem best capture the feel of this entire collection: "...she
says every word counts more in poetry/he says, every word
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That Happens is a memoir in verse about a
life changed forever by one bad decision made at the age of 20: to
drive. The accident that came from this action left her friend in a
landed author Cheryl Wilder in jail, and redirected her onto a path
would become a wife, mother, and eventually, a caregiver.
who embark on this poetic re-examination of her life trajectory begin
journey with Cheryl at 20 years of age: "Until
I was twenty, I believed anything/wouldn’t happen to me."
readers move through the experience of jail and beyond, the poems
a sense of changing atmosphere and an inspection of concurrent changing
and perspective: "I don’t know how I
brought a child/into the world when I can’t reconcile/if crashing a car
friend’s skull/is karmic debt created/or payment for a past immoral
doors and say thank you and do not try/to behave in a way I cannot
when she makes mistakes, Wilder moves through them with a revised sense
life: "Years later, I got pregnant
by a man/who gloried in reminding me/that I could never be
loved./Neither of us
knew/our baby would carry my heart/in his tiny clenched fist,
and close his fingers/to the beat of my blood."
interested in literary, personal stories of transformation and change
the beat of these poems in their hearts provides inspection not into
life changed by a bad choice and its lasting consequences, but newfound
connections to home, family, and a revised purpose in life.
a potent collection that invites readers to walk in Cheryl's shoes.
provides traction for assessing and moving beyond these poignant and
moments of quiet desperation.
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The Butterfly Bruises
Press Dionysus LTD
What does life now mean
during challenging modern times?
Palmer Smith provides 80 poem and prose pieces that consider the
of modern man in The Butterfly Bruises,
a compilation of works that blend original new pieces with those which
seen prior publication.
The piece 'Migraines,
Please' opens the collection with
an acknowledgment that "There were such good times and there will be
I know." Although this short reflection is not entirely about Covid,
alienation and contrast between what was and what is provides a moving
introduction to the poetry pieces that follow.
These are general
meditations on states of mind and
connections between humans and nature, travel and experience. Palmer
a fine job of structuring free verse and prose in a manner designed to
the literary and non-poetry reader alike, crafting compelling images of
journeys of transformation and interpersonal experience. One example is
poem 'Asheville', a travelogue of love, alienation, and departure: "I’ll pick up the stones that resemble/your
sour lonesome lime eyes./Digging is the action of how you love me."
Each piece captures a sense
of place and interpersonal
connection and disconnection. Sections are introduced by contemplations
'Shedding', which introduces the pieces on 'Pain and Relief' with a
eye on the snakeskin-shedding pain and promise of transformation: "After each session you ponder if your
doctor sheds her skin and turns into another person or perhaps the
is, likely a rattle with fake eyelashes. what if Confucius were your
What does it mean to be
alive under such circumstances
Bruises sleepwalks through a world replete with pain, change,
opportunities for transformation.
Its reflections are at once
thought-provoking, and powerfully important interplays between dreams
realities driving them.
Literary readers seeking
writings replete with wake-up
calls for change will find The Butterfly
Bruises to be reflective, visionary, and hard to put down.
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short horror stories of inhumanity and transformation, and is a
choice for literary, sci-fi, and horror audiences alike.
are steeped in psychological darkness, and are especially recommended
readers who like a Hitchcock-style element of horror injected into the
the opening story, for example. First-person narrator Dougie has been
same job for nearly thirty years. He's fifty, on this day, working for
noxious boss in a nondescript job where he has a set routine and no
prospects for the future.
His gift to
is Charlie. Who is Charlie? 'Shiny and new', Charlie is "A
radiant flower rising from the dirt, a new life for me to care
for." Charlie represents Dougie's ability to remain a giving
but as the story unfolds, an unexpected darkness joins good intensions,
them to go awry.
Another example is 'The Has-Been' which explores the intersection and encounters between Ben Taylor, who is set to inherit an endowment, and those who challenge him to think about the roots of altruism, selflessness, and greed.
up for recognition, Ben finds himself torn in different directions
different people in his life; including his father, who barely
as his son.
dark facet of life's challenges and social issues ranging from
PTSD and family relationships. Each demands from its reader a level of
contemplation and inspection of the dark elements of the psyche, and
delves into the minds (and, more importantly, the motivations) of
who choose their particular careers and lifestyles.
for the reader seeking action-packed high drama, but for the
horror fan who finds value in psychologically astute suspense
relish the slow buildups of tension that permeate each story in Ékleipsis,
and will welcome its
ability to traverse the boundaries of bizarre reflection and daily life.
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stories in Glass Souvenir center on
focal point: a vacant store front in a changing town, where everyone
in contact with the place is changed or leaves their imprint on its
There is a
certainty about the meaning and future of these disparate lives which
joined by a sense of place more than a sense of purpose. As the
psyches weave into the fate of the shop, their fates coalesce to bring
empty spaces both physical and psychological.
the opening piece in this collection. A mother forced to take her child
on a date with Frank, her latest love interest, when the babysitter
turns into a struggle over a jacket from the past which brings with it
of a vanished father and what has been outgrown, discarded, or perhaps
fit in the first place.
with a reference to the shop and its history ("The old man
keys along with the deed to the tenant next door. This tenant once
acted as the
old man’s protégé for he assisted in the daily operations of the
circumstance weaves into the story that follows, both setting the scene
creating an unusual juxtaposition of worlds that, at times, feels at
and yet achingly familiar.
Robert Morgan, an attendee who works the room but "has nothing to say
anyone." It's a familiar scenario that questions what such a loner is
doing at a social event as he probes his one interaction for clues
failure: "Drowning in a pool of
reflection he carefully went over the night’s only human interaction.
he said the wrong thing. That was probably it. He just could not figure
correct way to act and said the wrong thing to a friend who did all the
isolation lead to anger and the one choice he had avoided making: a
head towards a particular goal, than changes with a satisfying twist,
end. Each is a snapshot of life in which characters examine their
choices, taking actions that at times seem out of character but, upon
contemplation, are actually logical outcomes to their circumstances.
fifty-seven-year-old boxer who "believed he could distinguish the
difference between the ones who were for him, from the ones who were
him," who finds his life a study in indifference with no ultimate
to a diner conversation that connects loners who live their lives "Heaving away when the world is getting
ready to fall asleep and sleeping when the rest of the world is going,"
Glass Souvenir offers studies of
lives of quiet desperation, thwarted and realized purposes, and the
gentrification of the soul.
seeking vignettes that offer slice-of-life inspections of aging and
find no striking transformations here—just a quiet interweaving of
old age which joins together worlds, changing rhythms, and emptying
of the mind.
read that will leave readers thinking.
Return to Index
Illogical Conceits Publishing & Multimedia
Barnes & Noble: Barnes and Noble - Graffiti on the Window NOOK
on the Window
begins with a cautionary note by the author: "This
book is a mutt. It's a whacked out amalgamation of weird,
scary and beautiful things." Perhaps this is because of
Savreux's schizophrenia and the fact that this book was largely written
with one section produced after a manic episode. This approach embraces
streetwise, artistic, passionate sentiments with a candid fervor over
emotional pursuit of art and science.
The places where these
objectives intersect with life
forms the foundations of a poetry collection that is anything but your
collection of iambic pentameter verse.
As self-described, Alexej
Savreux is a "tormented
kid with a vision," and this comes to life in an artistic foray into
desperation that turns observational niceties on their sides.
He uses many literary
devices unexpected for the poetic
form. Take 'Sophocles's Unfound Friend Tragedy About Scarlet Haired
example. Here is a play/poem presented in ancient lingo, but with an
emotionally charged literary angle that is unexpected, compelling, and
autobiographical as it describes interplays between police,
parent, and kid.
The story opens in a
therapist's office, with a chorus
laying the foundation for this tragedy: "The
Kid had spent his days in mournful solititudes./He had been rejected by
Worlds and the Peoples/and the Tribes/His CBT therapist consoled
had left him./His life in shambles. His head,/a head case for all
psychologists./He had remembered meeting a girl named Darcy,/a
chick./She was the only one who had said "goodbye"/upon the
afternoons of his lost days, and last days."
As the point of view of this
enlightening play poem
shifts between points of view of the chorus, the Kid, the CBT
others, the classic structure of the tragedy form intersects with the
dilemma being presented: "Yea, Kid,
my sovereign patient and consumer,/Thou seest how both extremes of
enthrall/Your cerebral altars--falling hardly winged,/And stocking hat
with 24 years,/case managers, as am I/Of clinical training, and thus
of all advice."
As Savreux deftly employs
literary avenues to capture the
"beautiful suffering" of his life, the bittersweet possibilities of
Death, and "the confines of rhapsodic mathematics, and the
wrapping sands of rustling time," it's
evident that this work of art is no light psychological exploration.
it's a venture into the meaning and experience of life that delves into
Savreux's desires to both explain and represent its flavors.
Much like graffiti on the
window, these pieces tantalize,
are thought-provoking, and colorfully depict the irony, pathos, and
illogic of 'feasting and foraging" through life's "unending
A background in ancient,
classical poetry and literary
devices will lend special appreciation to how deftly and creatively
employs both in a modern interpretation and representation of an art
set aside for the winding, disjointed effects of free verse structures.
Modern literature and
ancient poetry classes and
students, in particular, will find Graffiti
on the Window a wonderfully intriguing, evocative
presentation that both
redefines and breaks poetic and drama rules.
Return to Index
The Grave I
Barnes and Noble Press
The Grave I Call My Garden blends
autobiography with literature,
using poetry to trace the memories and changing aspects of Victoria
personal life. It will appeal to readers of literature and
appreciate the intersection of these devices and the opportunity it
expand the boundaries of both.
differently for writer Cosmo and her readers, in this collection. The
presented in a chronological order that begins with a section on
captioned 'The Waves of Oceans and Withdrawls', starting with 'The
Here, readers receive the ebb and flow of the young mind's observation
world and changing waves of "Earth calling my young body back to
rest," reflecting on how "Florida rebuilds/Here on this swamp/We make
things new from rot." It describes a place where "Preparation looks a
lot like skepticism."
swamp to tub, the sensations of water, childhood, and the experience of
learning to swim in the deep end of life intersect with the Florida
to provide not just a sense of evolving self, but place.
touches the world, it gives way and springs back with descriptive words
draw connections between past, present, and future, and the evolution
worldviews: "Children don’t expect
anything more than bare minimum/That maybe extraordinary could bring
of you/Like love is merely a late shipment."
By now, it
apparent that this book is rich in experiential descriptions and close
connections between encounters with life and the inner interpretation
forms personality, hopes, fears, and values.
so do her lessons and reflections, which move from wonder to feeling
moving into adjusting expectations of what it means to fully live: "I think the best advice I could ever
pass on would be/Never hold onto a single afternoon/That it will not
for the rest of it.../That you can't go your whole life expecting magic
make the same thing twice."
periods, and the like) might have added an emphasis to these free verse
that would have further solidified their intentions. But by keeping the
sentence structures fluid, Cosmo allows for a freer-ranging
poetic license on the reader's part.
moves from cradle to grave, the vast world opens like a flower, using
perspective to chart the ebb and flow of growth in different
grief and parting to love and hope.
More so than
poetry collections, this moves from each flowering impression, passion,
emotion, and lesson to another, building a progressive stage of events
brings readers not just into her life, but into her world.
looking for strong autobiographical development in a free verse
will find The Grave I Call My Garden
aesthetically compelling, with each poem interpreting life's delights,
challenges, and growth opportunities in a thought-provoking manner.
Return to Index
Finishing Line Press
Not Your Happy Dance offers uplifting
prose poems and poetry
designed to celebrate the small things in life, whether they be
pickling in the
kitchen; connections to nature observed through the rituals and
man, beast, and insect; or the emergence of sugar ants "after every
you leave/never suspecting your blazing return."
celebrations of life, adversity, and everything in between that use
nature-bound imagery and associations to illustrate love, life's
and the hope and positivity that lie within the undercurrent of angst: "She turned on the light in her heart,
then sent me back/into the dark. I drove in circles, corkscrewing into
these cases, assumes a powerful daily presence, promising changing
opportunities and experiences. These are reflected in such delicate,
and thought-provoking pieces as 'Vernal', in which the observer's
praise influences the directions a transformative experience might take.
unexpected delights, here, as in an ode 'To Vinegar at Summer's End'
the Wave', which reflect passages of "black time" and a special
appreciation of the here and now which rests firmly in descriptions of
moments, breath, and incarnation of people, places, and events.
capture shards of experience that are bright, sharp, and dark. These
reflect an ethereal world's smallest inhabitants and seconds, bringing
full-bodied, into wider-ranging life experiences and issues.
powerful gathering of words which, like the dust in lazy sunrays in the
summer, are suspended in the mind for an instant, as flavorful and
a fine wine.
Return to Index
Presence, The Play
Port Estillyen Productions, Inc.
978-1-7364967-0-1 $17.95 Paper; $.99 Kindle
"To sleep, perchance to
dream." Only, in Presence, The Play,
the dream stems not
from ordinary sleep but a coma, and consists of a mission through hell
beyond that changes a writer on the cusp of success.
Monk and playwright Brother
Script lives on the island of
Estillyen and has finally, after six years, produced a play, Presence,
production has packed the local Theatre Portesque. Plot thinks this an
local development for his friend, and both are looking forward to
night—until Script falls from the balcony and enters into a coma. The
supersedes opening night as the main attraction: "Plot
looked at the cast standing there and thought, At
the only script at play is Script, oblivious of the scene around him."
This novel enters his
comatose state and plays out
largely in that world in which Script now resides, leaving his
friends behind. Or, is it the real world?
The first thing to note is
that all the characters have
literary names. Writer, Epic, and Story are part of Script's monastery.
best friend Plot "knows he's somewhere" and that "God's presence
is with him."
The literary allusions and
satire begin in The Path, where
Script has journeyed to a different level of being. Philosophical,
and literary references (footnoted) pepper his journey, creating a
interplay and exploration. Think Dante's Divine
Comedy blended with Tolkein's Middle Earth: “Gotta
go now,” the figure said. “Go? No,” Script said, “you can’t! Miserere: ‘Save me, whatever—shadow
or truly man—you be.’ I need help, please! I’m a playwright.” “So, Miserere: ‘Save me, whatever,’—is
that line from a work of yours?” asked the tall man. “No, no, not
Script. “But, as a playwright, I know many lines from poets and plays.
them, they know me, they speak to me, and therefore I speak of them.
mean is that they are a part of me.” “I see you’re honest,” said the
too, know that line.” “Okay, you see, I’ve become lost somehow,” said
“I don’t know where I’m at or where I’m going."
At this point, it's clear
that Presence, The Play has a lot
more going on than a simple fantasy or
novel adventure. Literature readers who enjoy philosophical and
reflection added into the mix will find it a revealing, fantastic tale
mortality, otherworldly composition, a mission filled with twists and
adding more than a dash of wry humor: “We
need to move the mission along without killing off the one we’ve been
aid. Time is of the essence. What do you think? Should we send him back
tonight, or wait till the morning? I know Melchizedek will turn up to
Script the Seven Valleys of Sin.” “In that case,” said Simon, “I think
should be bouillabaisse tonight, and off to hell in the morning."
It's the literary and
philosophical reader who will best
appreciate all the delightful plays on words, literary allusions, and
tongue-in-cheek references which permeate Script's delightful new world.
The blends of comedy and
observation are astute and
nicely done: "A fine morning mist
drifted across the Meadow of Gates and Doors, adding a mysterious
the tranquil scene. No chatter, no screams, no ripping of scripts and
Script slept soundly in Writer’s Cottage, not knowing he had
Melchizedek, Mock, and Script encountered in hell, words could not
matter how adroitly they might be assigned and assembled on the page.
without words, Script would not have had “The Raven” to recite on the
across from the Reservoirs of Bewilderment."
"To sleep, perchance to
nightmares and dreams power a journey that leads to new revelations
life's meaning, the Devil, and his place in both worlds, which leads
him to new
forms of struggle and literary expression: “Satan
extolled the promise of platform building and the efficacy of
said, ‘This is the new discarnate age, our kind of age. Today the Race
confusion, and delusion. They know not what to believe.’ “Then he said
something about the Race being like vipers; I didn’t get that. But I do
him pontificating about a new narrative, the dominant narrative called
Script is on a journey. All
he needs to do is stay on the
path. But, is this possible?
William Jefferson's story is
thought-provoking, and philosophically and spiritually enlightening.
through literary allusion comes with footnoted references that will
readers with not only the foundation for their origins, but an
no reference will be missed or misinterpreted.
Eventually, Script's journey
comes full circle.
The theater is packed.
There's not an empty seat in the
house. They should all be filled by readers of a story designed to
relationship between observer and adventure narrator, immersing both in
divine comedy that pushes against the forces of darkness that would
lives on the island of Estillyen and the everyday world alike.
Return to Index
Tempest in a Teacup
ASIN: B08WF79YWJ $3.99
in a Teacup: My Homage
to Milan Kundera and Leonard Cohen pays tribute to author Milan Kundera and musician
crafting a series of character vignettes and weaving in a romance theme
produce philosophical and psychological reflections on life.
It's a literary work that
belongs in any collection
serious about exploring the foundations of how characters are built and
contrasted. D.R. Bell uses six disparate individuals as metaphorical
of differing approaches to life.
Each holds different ways of
perceiving and understanding
the world and its choices, and each has a different experience with
romance, and life goals: "The woman
was attractive, intelligent, good in bed. He was sad to lose her. By
was drained by too much dating: worrying about performance, dealing
expectations afterwards. He no longer had a coherent view of how to
ached for some simplicity. Morris rebelled against his previous life of
only to become a slave to this new life of excess; he was ready to
Readers of Tempest in a Teacup (especially those
already familiar with Milan Kundera's
approach to writing and literature and Cohen's substantial musical
contributions) will find these vignettes absorbing as they traverse
and the mechanics of navigating them to embrace different dreams,
approaches to interpersonal relationships: “It’s
your dream.” Veda laughed. “You saw in it what you wanted to see.”
While the changing
viewpoints and lives do take some time
to absorb, the manner in which they entwine and are both similar and
is intriguing and creatively portrayed.
students interested in the mercurial
foundations of philosophical and psychological influences on choice and
consequence will find these to be stimulating studies of character
always come across as three-dimensional figures, but which do
represent the ebb, flow, and convergences of life.
explorations of how love and life purpose evolve are well done. They
especially appealing and enlightening for students considering how
are created and evolve by coming together, drifting apart, and growing.
Return to Index
The Topography of
978-1-953236-06-7 $14.95 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
A number of the stories in
this collection have been
published elsewhere—but that doesn't mean that even those with prior
familiarity with Julia MacDonnell's literary prowess should anticipate
but a repeat performance here.
here have been published elsewhere, sometimes with slightly different
forms, The Topography of Hidden Stories
holds many hidden gems for prior fans; not the least of which is the
opportunity to have all the works under one cover. This lends a
theme to the various characters who each struggle and search for
connections in their lives.
side, these stories move beyond individual creations to represent a
collaborative impact that is far greater than their original, singular
piece 'River of Grace', for example. Under the guise of an unexpected
trip, a mother and child leave in the middle of the night. The mother
intended on bringing her daughter, who stumbled upon her secret exit in
darkness. But the journey embraces them both, even as the child
observes: "My mother did not like me with
my sails. Now, by accident, I’d taken the wind out of hers, and right
knew that I did not like her without it. Ma wasn’t Ma without wind in
sails. We looked at one another in the dark, the space between us
deeper than a
river, but neither of us sailing."
As the child
her experiences with her mother, cousins, and her short life, the story
winding between past and present: "I
was trapped now in the Pontiac, speeding forward, moving, moving,
moving and it
didn’t matter one bit how scared I was. It was going to keep on going,
mother with her foot on the pedal, her hands around the steering wheel,
eyes on the black snake of road ahead."
of Grace locale that her mother covets, her reflections of her short
full circle with new beginnings and endings, as well.
'Witness' (which actually is a theme that pops up in numerous places
throughout the stories in this collection). Here, a New York mother's
preparations for Thanksgiving with her baby leads to quite a different
as she becomes an unwitting witness to a shooting. Other 'watchers'
windows safer distances away also bear witness in a way that they (but
In a flash,
mother understands her danger: "The
shooter stood in plain sight, a few steps beyond my arm’s reach, not
knowing we were there. He was about to turn around; he would have to
us. I knew this as I stood there. Knew exactly what the shooter would
He’d turn around and see us. He’d realize we were there, that we’d
witness. A queer aura, shimmering but transparent, surrounded him, and
watched him transfixed, as though all of us had fallen out of time."
can possibly save her and her daughter is a determined pretending that
not witness anything at all—against all moral and ethical feelings.
moment and decision reverberates as her friends try to console her and
to the police, only to realize that she's the only one willing to stand
bear witness to what she saw.
The fear and
that she carries from this inadvertent and unexpected connection to
and their actions and demise create in her a newfound knowledge about
fleeting threats of the world around her: "Somebody
got away with murder. Some people’s lives don’t matter. Evil exists. In
aftermath of the killing, those thoughts made their way through my
heart and mind, leaving an unhealed contusion."
And yet, at
of innocence, there is her daughter to think of. And life goes on.
evocative, and compelling, these snapshots freeze pivotal moments in
will captivate readers looking for literary examples of women trapped
circumstance and fate, their choices, their commitments to family, and
illusions and realities about the world and their place in it.
stories of growth and change and women's evolving lives will find The Topography of Hidden Stories hard-hitting
and thought-provokingly unexpected in its diversity and impact.
Return to Index
Michael Amos Cody
Pisgah Press, LLC
A Twilight Reel: Stories provides a
collection of literary works
that take place in the small North Carolina town of Runion. These
surreal intersection of night and day and periods of time and life in
characters experience sea changes both in their Appalachian mountain
and in themselves.
portrayed is imaginary, it's not too big a leap of faith to presume
knows or has known some of the character types that inhabit its
stories are diverse not only in their character dilemmas, but in their
time, place, and shifting relationships.
Loves of Misty Sprinkle' presents the dilemma faced by a hairdresser
of two who faces February's seasonal vengeance and the reappearance of
who "kept charging into and retreating from their lives." Is Jimmy
back for romance, or something more? And what kind of a love brings
chocolates, for Valentine's Day?
to mind other lovers she's had, other opportunities and options that
and leads her, at her preacher's suggestion in his oration at church
to rethink love, loss, and what makes her life feel rich.
the equally quiet dilemma in 'A Poster of Marilyn Monroe', in which
has arranged to go to Greenville, where nobody has a chance of knowing
get a coveted Marilyn Monroe poster.
Marilyn manages to make her escape on the ride home, leaving him once
home alone with his obsession, old fantasies, and unrealized ambitions.
As the old
his heart's desire mirrored in an unexpected place and legacy, readers
a fine story of love, family, and change.
each hold a punch, are firmly rooted in the sights, smells, and sounds
life. They explore a wide range of characters' diverse lives and pivot
that lead them to validate, re-examine, or achieve long-held goals and
perceptions about what enriches them.
twilight times operates on more than one level and will engross and
literature readers seeking small-town backdrops and stories of quiet
desperation and change.
Return to Index
Water: A Novel of John
978-1-7330344-2-5 $17.99 print/$5.99 ebook
Fans of poet
John Keats who like
literary fiction works will relish Writ
in Water: A Novel of John Keats. Keats died at just 25 years
old, but here,
his soul lives on as he communicates with spirits, observes the world
place in it, and considers the impact of his writing.
opens from the
perspective of a simple bird who observes the "wingless creatures"
known as humans and, in particular, the woebegone figure of poet Keats,
"is in peril." Somehow, the bird knows that his mission is to stay
close to this suffering young poet who, after listening to his special
"began to fill up some white squares
with long trails of those things they call words."
bird's spirit blends with
the poet's reflection on his unrealized life goals, a poetic series of
descriptions and fictional and biographic insights emerges, using
devices to bind together the spirit of Keats and the worlds he
angst is nicely captured: "Nothing
ever becomes real till it is experienced. All my life and death remain
mystery but for one certainty. In every dream that I cherished, I
So are his
encounters with the
bird spirit, and the opportunity to review the world from a different
perspective: "The little spirit
flutters out of my hands and hovers at a distance from me. We are
close to the earth now as we were at our first meeting—I can espy the
procession of the Spanish Steps and the distant dark hollow of the
Colosseum—and we resume our slow, upward drift while, below us, my life
continues to unfold in excruciating detail."
readers with prior
affection for and familiarity with Keats, his works, and his life will
especially appreciate the allusions and connections James Sulzer
this fictional fantasy review.
promise of his love for
Fanny Brawne and his secret engagement to an illness which takes a turn
worse, dashing his dreams and future, the life of Keats assumes the
form of a
quiet three-dimensional drama that gives a compellingly realistic feel
world and art.
enjoy literary works
with a spiritual overlay that rests as firmly on biographical
fictional magical realism will find Writ
in Water: A Novel of John Keats a thought-provoking
celebration of Keats'
world. It liberally paraphrases from and quotes his works, including
letters, throughout; and is strongly backed by Sulzer's extensive
the critical biographical literature surrounding Keats.
Return to Index
Both Sides of the
L'Oste Vineyard Press
978-1-7353896-2-2 $16.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
Sides of the Glass Ceiling: Finding My
True Self in Corporate America
is a businesswoman's memoir about how she
transitioned while working as a senior executive at New York Life. Her
experience provides a unique perspective on the glass ceiling in
the viewpoint of a male who became female and unexpectedly confronted
disparity in not just income, but respect between the genders.
Many books are now on the
market covering the social
impact of transitioning. However, more so than most, Stephanie
candid discussion of the business world is striking from the start, and
open many eyes to the issues: "I
have lived a life on both sides of the glass ceiling. On one side, I
the world identified by an anatomy that said to society I was male,
inside I knew I was really female. On the other side of the glass, I
the privilege afforded to most white males, and did not understand what
privilege really meant until I lost it. When I stepped into my office
Stephanie, a trans woman and a person that most of my colleagues saw as
I suddenly found myself looking at the glass ceiling from a very
perspective—with my nose firmly pressed up against it, thinking, “How
have fallen!” But that’s not even the half of it. What happened at that
was just the first of many challenges I faced in finding my true self
Stephanie's candid honesty
in charting these revelations
is part of what sets this memoir apart from others, creating a solid
of status quo, class, and gender issues that traces experiences from
of the table she sat at.
Readers uncomfortable with
issues of gender equality and
underlying attitudes and prejudices might find Both Sides of the Glass Ceiling a
difficult read because it forces the viewer to confront these in their
approaches to life and business. Battaglino's focus on creating human
connections that lead to understanding over confrontation, her contrast
the trans and non-binary community and the traditional business world,
stance on cultivating honesty and a complete life pulls no punches; yet
delivers its hard-hitting message with a gentle insistence on
passionate, clear, and inviting even as they acknowledge the inherent
of being white: "...in the grand
scheme of things, I have it easy—really I do. To many who see me, I’m
another white woman of privilege, and with that comes a free pass, a
of Jail Free” card of sorts that society allows me to carry with me
The daily reality for many of my trans brothers and sisters, especially
of color, is nothing at all like mine. But I have a responsibility to
into your consciousness a different daily reality. The one that the
majority of trans people
live with; the
one that involves pain, hardship, and for some, violence."
Between her divorce,
handling her son, and her business
pursuits, Battaglino's memoir embraces the building blocks of
completely different life.
Few memoirs embrace the
mission of fostering ideals of transgender
workplace inclusion. Few juxtapose the personal and business impact of
actions in such a candid, revealing manner.
This book's discussions of
power, attitude, prejudice,
and redemption makes for a powerful read highly recommended not just
people navigating a new glass ceiling in the workplace, but for
workplace readers seeking a better understanding of what inclusion
Its hard-hitting discussions
will leave everyone thinking
long after the story is finished.
Return to Index
978-1-7360731-0-0 $15.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Ordering: Braving the World: Adventures in Travel and Retirement
Braving the World: Adventures in Travel and
Retirement offers a
familiar dream to adventure-oriented retirees that perhaps now belongs
bygone world: traveling the world slowly, living amongst the locals
to experience changing seasons and the full flavors of each locale
This is quite a different
kind of travel than those
conducted during one's work years, when schedules and due dates dictate
destinations viewed and the allotted time spent in them, often
depth of experience.
2017 began this retirement
dream for Pam Saylor and her
husband with a one-way ticket to Italy and a plan to spend quality time
Europe after an early retirement.
But life holds surprises;
not the least of which is the
fact of the opportunity to sit back and reflect. Travel is not all
relaxation and contemplation. It brings with it challenges, obstacles,
plans and worldviews, and the need for flexibility and cooperative
that can add to the problems if a couple traveling together are not in
with many things.
And so Braving the World represents
journey of growth as much as a travelogue of places visited and
made in the world at large. It considers the nuts and bolts of how
Dave made decisions, budgeted for the trip, and acknowledged the
limitations, and demands of their planned travel: "Dave
and I lived like most working couples—alongside each other,
but busy in our separate ways. Of course, we were together evenings and
weekends, but we spent our work-days with co-workers. At home, there
to spread out and we each had our own way of doing things. We had our
routines, schedules, and hobbies. Spending every day, all day crammed
on top of
each other in a small studio apartment did not sound appealing. Even
could have saved money with a studio apartment, it wasn’t going to
charts their journeys, but advises armchair and destination-oriented
on the best ways to make the most of whatever time they have allotted
trip: "Just seeing the everyday
sights in the city of London would be a month’s long job, and what do
you do if
you, like most people, don’t have months? I’ve listed dozens of things
and I’m sure there were many more I missed, wonderful places I walked
and didn’t notice. What to do with only a week in London? I say, go
things you love and care about, your passions, and skip the rest."
diabetes and insulin laws in different countries while on the road to
navigating puzzling foreign systems and falling in love with places
never be visited again, Saylor brings readers into a 'you are there'
a lifetime: "How can I hang onto
this trip? If only I could somehow dig my fingers into time itself and
still. I wish I could snap my fingers and be standing in Greenwich
eating oysters, or click my heels and be in Rome walking on Palatine
looking down at the Colosseum. Finally, the tears came, and I rubbed
away—feeling angry, lost, sad, tired. It was ending. We had lived our
dream—from country to country, city to city, to Europe and Africa and
again. There wasn’t one thing I would change. When will we ever come
different people, earmarking 2020 for a return to France. Then
changed. While it would be enlightening to have an addendum about the
post-Covid world of non-travel, this is a story still in the making.
instead, in this adventure through bygone times in advancing years. If
can't hit the road yourself, Braving the
World is the next best
offers a vivid blend of travel advice and adventure that teaches much
to live differently.
Return to Index
Dangle Him Purposely
Purposely continues the story of author Tim O'Neill's family
and his coming
of the age in the 1960s, a time when things change for the better, but
new challenges. Ideally, readers will have already absorbed this
prequel, Timmy, which will make
changes and insights even more notable and important.
Events swirl around a boy
who comes of age in a turbulent
era—ironically, one in which his family is finally settling down. His
father has gained sobriety, his mother and stepfather have found work,
finally growing up in small-town America in the manner so many of his
more stable family settings have enjoyed.
His new home holds all the
ingredients for a fresh
beginning, but different challenges emerge from the social whirl of
around him. Thus, life assumes the feeling of a vortex of
danger, violence, introducing a war which consumes the hearts and minds
Timmy and everyone around him.
The child is not a child
anymore, as this book says in
the beginning—but neither is he yet a man. The pathos of his growth
captured in accounts that excel in recreating these haunting moments of
uncertainty in a young man's life: "Mary
and a group of friends were coming Tim’s way down the outside junior
corridor, their shoulders bumping as they all laughed at some secret
turned the collar up on his jacket, leaned against the iron support
crossed his ankles, and dipped a shoulder in a casual don’t
give a damn fashion. She’d be passing by soon. He hadn’t
quite mastered James Dean’s smirk—his head tilted down and to the side
that rebellious curl of the lip, looking up over his brows. But he came
It was, after all, who he was. He needed no one, was afraid of no one,
the answers. That’s how he felt . . . at least among his friends."
There are two notable facets
about this memoir: it reads
with the third-person description and embellishments of fiction; and it
presents vignettes which assume no linear, logical progression, but
through time in a fluid manner, immersing readers in the moment.
T.B. O'Neill's cautionary
introduction about the fluid
story structure correctly identifies its mercurial process, but almost
an injustice by forewarning its readers. Those who seek novels with
find these vignettes less structured than fiction, but will still find
emotional punch effective and nicely construed.
As this story follows Tim
into the Army and encounters
with more bullies, leaders, and ideological angst, readers view his
through the lens of an outsider who becomes intimately acquainted with
nuances of Tim's thoughts, memories, emotions, and experiences.
Deployed to Europe and
slated only see combat during the
last year of his enlistment, Tim finds a new world opening up to him
boundaries of his family and small-town America. His experiences
study in contrasts about the cultures and peoples he encounters.
From developing trust in a
different system to survival
tactics that operate on many levels, Tim turns twenty-three in Nam and
from small-town American thoughts to embrace bigger ideas about the
seeking a memoir of coming of age in the 1960s,
the Vietnam War experience from the eyes of a young man, and a
the prior memoir Timmy will find
exploration engrossing, revealing, and worthy of the read.
Return to Index
J. Malcolm Garcia
A Different Kind of War: Uneasy Encounters in
Mexico and Central
America comes from the unusual vantage point of a social
journalist who worked in Afghanistan and reported on South American
as well. His unique perspective and background combines a
worker's approach with a reporter's eye for detail. His title documents
peoples' lives, interactions, disappearances and threats, and the
atmospheres of their worlds.
More than a
dispassionate listing of political influence (as one might expect from
this hard-hitting social exposé delineates the worlds of different
peoples in Mexico and Central America who operate and intersect at
levels of their societies: "She felt
bad for the women living as they did. Some of them, she saw, were
Mayas like herself. Sister Magdalena grew up in the province of Santa
Chinautla. Her family identified as Mam, one of many Maya nations that
rural Guatemala. The people of Santa Cruz Chinautla molded clay pots
farmed. It was a town almost insignificant in size. A river ran through
the black water carried waste from Guatemala City. Still, Sister
recalls a happy, cheerful childhood, the dirty river just part of
read with the quiet drama of fiction, as in the story of a Sister
orphanage: "Kissing her niece on her
forehead, Sister Sandau sighs. Hours from now, the sun will rise, and
the possibility of new orphans. She receives very little notice. The
a family just show up with a child."
with that of a reporter's newsroom shortly before an execution in 2009
interview which captures the violent effects of active drug trade on
streets of Mexico: "...the
two-year-long drug war raging in this desert city of 1.5 million kills
average of nine people a day. The Mexican government sent in the army
quell the violence. For two months, the number of violent deaths
dramatically. But in June, it spiked back up. “Before, there were
the street with automatic weapons,” said Juárez Mayor Jose Reyes
they kill with 9-millimeter handguns. Before, they drove around the
AK-47s. They can’t now. But they are still fighting. They fight all the
down to small-time distributors killing one another.”
this contrast of social ills, that the war being fought isn't a
or experience. J. Malcolm Garcia's 'uneasy encounters' capture and
revised state of 'normal' throughout the region. This approach will
eye-opening for Americans who envision beaches and tourist destinations
they think of Mexico and its neighbors.
A Different Kind of War holds the rare
ability to make its readers
feel uneasy. It should. It's not an easy world, but one which is too
portrayed in all its contrasts and nuances, making this book essential
for anyone who would truly understand the region's social, economic,
Return to Index
Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD
The Necktie and the Jaguar is a spiritual
memoir for readers who
would better understand the intersection between spiritual practice and
perception and everyday living, and takes some unusual routes in the
background in shamanistic training as well as traditional Jungian
martial arts. His memoir about his self-exploration and transformation
traditional style of success (as president of an independent oil and
company that built him wealth) to that of a spiritual pilgrim is
experience discomfort if the book hits too close to home with its close
examination of finding value beyond monetary wealth and career. This is
The Necktie and the Jaguar embraces
redefining ideas of success and achievement, moving into realms beyond
the status quo or monetary gain.
background in psychology stands out, reaching ordinary readers with a
how despite being a husband, homeowner, and successful businessman, he
lacked satisfaction. His restlessness eventually shook him out of his
zone and traditional definitions of value and wealth.
psychological and business lessons also permeate this exploration of
worlds and spiritual paths, giving them a concrete foundation that is
in too many other memoirs of spiritual enlightenment.
This is the
factor that makes The Necktie and the
Jaguar so accessible to audiences that might not ordinarily
pick up a
memoir about fulfillment and enlightenment. Greer began his life in
circles, but expanded his goals and perceptions in ways that produced
beyond his imagination.
not have been perceived without a redefinition of value. Readers of The Necktie and the Jaguar will find
positive encouragement in many of his words: "At
last, I was consciously making different choices and beginning
to establish new habits that were making me
feel happier, freer, and more authentic."
about how his
engrained competitiveness has begun to fade, Greer is quite honest
struggles with patterns and traits which remain to this day. He's also
about his newfound abilities and satisfaction. The
Necktie and the Jaguar will reach New Age, spirituality, and
traditional business book readers alike with a story that holds a
achieving a different, ultimately more satisfying, life.
Return to Index
Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant
978-0997596304 $13.95 Paper; $6.99 ebook
Behind an Elephant: Undercover & Overwhelmed as a CIA Wife and
Mother is an espionage
memoir that comes from
quite a different perspective than the usual CIA behind-the-scenes
Lillian McCloy is a wife and mother, and writes of her family life as
spouse of an undercover CIA officer.
Descriptions of how job and life intersect
on a daily basis are revealing, providing many details about how
employment requirements change the family's choices: "Despite
protests, Frank insisted that we take this opportunity, because she was
invaluable contact. After a year at Berlitz and daily tutoring, Frank
along well in Spanish and was looking forward to meeting more rich
should have said, “Take the children and go. I’ll stay home.” The
Frank’s career had taken top billing in his life...I again realized
that I was
not number one on his priority list."
As a travelogue about living in different
countries, the stories are diverse and intriguing, offering insights on
and social challenges. As a memoir by a CIA wife who built her own
and adaptation techniques, it often contains humorous observations
inconsistencies in even official information: "This is really
incidental stuff, but it becomes horrendously important when this seems
your constant business. Moving, buying, packing. It was very hard, no
where we were going, and I was always astonished at how wrong the
was when I asked for it. Particularly when the U.S. Embassy grandly
send me a printout from their State Department catalog, or whatever it
called. One fact that enriched my life was that the average temperature
Delhi, India, was 74 degrees. After that gem of information, I did not
their advice again."
Where other espionage stories take the form
of an exposé of the
politics and processes of the job,
McCloy's focus on her nomadic life, her husband Frank's assignments,
impact this had on her family provides a riveting alternative to
views of CIA lifestyles and adventures.
It's hard to imagine a memoir that is at once
candid, fun, and troubling; but McCloy captures all these facets and
she supports her husband's undercover job and her family's disparate
at the same time.
The blend of humor, practical information,
and country-hopping adventure maintains a fast pace, bringing many
thought-provoking moments. Six Car Lengths Behind an Elephant
welcomed by readers interested in overseas adventures, the realities of
family, and how families adapt to living in foreign countries.
Return to Index
9780988562011 $12.00 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Special Needs Children: The Angels On My Shoulder
is a memoir about
Jody Sharpe's twenty-five years teaching special needs kids. It
unexpected focus on not just special needs circumstances, but the
which evolved from them, by other children.
reflections on God and angels is a constant referral in this book,
of 'angel teachers', the 'hearts of angels' which reside in many of
children, and their fleeting and long-term influences as they move
life and classroom.
see the good in circumstances and people identifies the 'special' in
needs' as she delineates her journey through the education system and
teaching and social encounters which changed her perspective and life.
those working with special needs kids) will find this spiritual and
reflection easily accessible. It's presented in vignettes which offer
digestible bites of insight into a world where angels and kindness are
in more than one form.
spirituality collections alike will find Special
Needs Children details a
viewpoint and is an uplifting read.
Return to Index
Jeanette and Lauren Manning
Walking Away from
Hate: Our Journey through Extremism
tells of how, as a teen, author Lauren
Manning was recruited through the internet by a white
They were adept at feeding into her middle-class family's values and
simmering teen anger to foster within her a hatred and prejudice that
to denounce her family and enter into a violent life on the streets of
Lauren's recruitment into extremist beliefs, her rejection of her
upbringing and values, and her participation in this dangerous world is
documented in her personal story of changing beliefs and visions of
truth. Her account also closely considers how her family fought to
forge a new
relationship with their daughter.
Walking Away from
between mainstream belief systems and extremist
thinking processes, the methods by which young adults are convinced to
on life-changing paths of destruction and hate, and an insider's
the experience are told from both sides to create an especially
"My life was already fucked up so who cared if I didn’t show
up? It was
just one more thing—in addition to living on the streets, having no
call home and no family to belong to—that I couldn’t bring myself to
about. My thought process had always been more or less “ignore it and
note are the feelings of the participant as she examines the
between what she has been taught, her newfound friends' beliefs, and
observes in the world around her: “White kids aren’t going to
be safe if we
allow these Blacks to walk all over us. We’re defending our people.”
was the one I’d heard many times before but this time it got me
parenting a child of hate. If a child saw evidence of their parent’s
what impact would that have? Was it fair to raise a child in this
about parents who forced their opinions on their kids?"
juxtaposition of two worlds is a central theme of this mother/daughter
equally powerful are the insights into how white extremist thinking is
in the young.
Walking Away from
Hate serves as a contrast between
ideals of justice, truth, and social
issues. It ideally will be used for classroom study and parent/child
discussions of ideology gone awry, and its powerful lure and message
who grow into adulthood angry about society's failures and parental
Return to Index
Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC
9781952439087 $15.00 Paper/$6.00 Kindle
The Cornmarket Conspiracy is a novel that
opens in the French
countryside, where farmers in the small town of Coquelles are started
explosion that lights up the sky at 10PM.
In the UK,
Hunter, Chief of Staff to Britain’s Prime Minister Trevor Wellington,
awakened at midnight by the world-changing phone call he's long been
dreading—the news of an explosion and fire in the English Channel
has trapped and killed hundreds on the train.
portends a conspiracy that involves British Intelligence, the CIA, and
who aim to profit from global tragedy for their own special interests.
As the story
off, thriller readers receive an engrossing probe of motivations and
people. Annie Craig, a staffer in the P.M.’s office has been carrying
affair with colleague Andrew Bolling, whom she is shocked to find out
in the attack. She journeys to France to find answers. Surprisingly,
one of her
questions was whether or not Andrew was involved in the heinous
her discovery of some notes indicates he was somehow connected to other
world-changing scenarios: "She
couldn’t help but wonder, was he involved in this somehow, even
unintentionally? She knew Andrew. There was simply no way he was
involved in anything immoral, unethical, and certainly not anything
But how did his private notes, outlining the terrorist strikes of the
years, seemingly predict a train bombing? Had he somehow been working
the attack?" Is he a hero or a villain?
criminal Akeem trails Annie in his role as a part-time errand boy to
one of the
largest criminal networks in France, sharing a taxi with her to get in
graces, Annie and Jeffrey Hunter find themselves not only attempting to
many questions, but in the crosshairs of danger themselves.
on the fringes of society: "He is
not fully Yemeni, nor is he fully French. Raised by Yemeni parents in
French Capital, and educated at the finest University in England, Rasul
never shake the feeling that he is a man with no real home and no real
Jeffrey's reason for pursuing the truth about Rasul and Jorge, three
college friends begin to realize that their past knowledge of one
contrary to their present-day passions and personas.
Sharon Hoisager creates an
outstanding interplay between
Western interests, political and social strife between immigrants and
mainstream society, and a plot that thickens as the story progresses.
Readers interested in a
thriller's fast-paced progression
also receive the added benefit of social inspection in an equally
quick-changing world that changes individuals and leads determined
people to become heroes as they continue to fight for the good of their
The result is a powerful
saga that provides more than a
conspiracy story, but a social examination that will keep readers
thinking long past the tale's conclusion.
Return to Index
978-0-9997456-5-6 $19.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Dead Tree Tales opens with the poisoning
of a 1,000-year-old tree
and efforts to uncover the perp, but soon becomes a crime thriller as a
body is uncovered and detectives find that much more is involved than
ancient tree's demise.
Set on Johns
South Carolina, the story assumes a twisted path of intrigue over a
evolves, literally piece by piece, beyond arborcide.
Mayor Jim is
looking forward to retirement. Mired in grief, his second son, Len
manages to nonetheless shake up his world. The revolution continues as
of challenges, special interests, and world-changing events ripple from
ancient tree's imminent demise to threats that portend the community
be the same.
violent death of a young woman found in the water to explosions which
literally shake the town to its roots, Dead
Tree Tales charts the opening up of a sheltered world to a
social, political, and cultural threats. These immerse the mayor,
and potential perps in a struggle that leads to unspeakable tragedy and
as a world-changing virus dawns.
Dead Tree Tales represents a slow, steady
evolution from a singular
puzzle to a paradigm-altering series of events that rocks both
and an entire community. Its powerful characters, multifaceted special
interests, and blend of murder mystery, intrigue, and social inspection
particularly delight thriller readers looking for something different.
roots in all
these elements which connect a tree's demise to wider-ranging issues
a riveting story that's hard to put down and highly recommended for
enjoy thought-provoking surprises throughout.
Return to Index
Decoy 17 is a sequel to the thriller Spider 2-3 and returns hero Jim
(JP) Peregrine to the
spotlight of the spy story community with another adventure.
prospect of a month's respite on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia in a
provided by his uncle. Stephanie Raughton and Anna Kepling join him in
idyllic journey, which is a far cry from the tense events that
heart and soul during the events of Spider
long-overdue respite is not to be. Satisfyingly unpredictable is a
events that involve a murder, a plot, and a new brand of terrorism that
the Spider 2-3 scenario look like a
walk in the park.
Ironically, Spider 2-3 has prepared him for Decoy
17's undercover efforts; for having fostered the persona of the
The Falcon (who operated surprisingly efficiently in thwarting a
disaster in the previous confrontation) he is armed, efficient, and
waiting for what evolves next.
international intrigue, espionage, and a catchy blend of James
and confrontation will find these devices appear in droves in Decoy 17 as JP foregoes his vacation for
a new task and challenge.
Tilson's murder comes JP's realization that Spider
2-3 is not the only game in town. It served as a preface for
what is about
to transpire during this second scheme, a sequel to the first.
liked Spider 2-3 (and, there
should be many)
will find the saga continues in much the same spirit. Same approach,
characters, purposes, and challenges that continue to expand JP's
as The Falcon and in his own staid world as an ordinary citizen.
JP needs to
to work, and as a target, he might prove even more invaluable to his
drawing out the plot and perps involved in Decoy 17. As he heads a team
tries to assume control of a virtually uncontrollable scenario, JP
the Caribbean to Europe to South America, seemingly a step behind, too
the time. He tries to catch up fast.
aviation or technical engineering details will relish the real facts
this story of disasters, as well as the interplay of romance between JP
Stephanie, the future Mrs. Peregrine.
will find Decoy 17 surprisingly
easy to access,
requiring no prior familiarity with JP's character, motivations, or
in order to prove immediately understandable. Prior fans receive a
as adept at surprising twists and turns as its predecessor. Both
find the action concludes neatly, but in a manner that more than leaves
door open for more books to follow in The Falcon series.
central character, a host of special interests which swirl around him,
struggle to maintain his grasp on his personal life while immersed in a
political and international spy conundrum, Decoy
17 proves a powerful story. It's highly recommended for
who enjoy stories of espionage, terrorism, disaster, and one man who
between the life and death of millions.
Decoy 17 is a riveting read that is hard
to put down, packed with
satisfying twists and turns that keep readers engaged and wondering to
Return to Index
Black Rose Writing
Make one mistake and you can
pay for it for a very long
time. That's what Quebec policewoman Chantal Pouliot discovers when her
investigation goes awry, relegating her to desk duty. In Faux
Friends, she is just beginning to probe a cyber-crime case
that might restore her reputation and ability to work as an undercover
especially when the case becomes a murder investigation.
The problem? Within this
assignment lies a too-knowing
set of circumstances that draw her into someone else's dangerous game,
as the target.
A.J. McCarthy creates a
mystery thriller that
engrossingly moves between Chantal's moves and efforts and the thoughts
motivations of dangerous adversaries: "The
man smiled. Sometimes life took an unexpected turn, and it worked out
best. Was it possible a higher power had decided it wasn’t their time
stepped in to change his plan? He laughed out loud at the thought. Call
higher power, fate, or plain luck. He took it as a sign that the game
over. Like hockey, they were in the second of three periods. With any
would play out in overtime."
Chantel re-enters an all too
familiar (and coveted)
investigative world with Jeff Lafond, but the moves she is forced to
again send her on a road that is frustrating, portending disaster: "Chantal squared her shoulders. She
needed to pull herself together. It wasn’t the first time she was
disillusioned, and it wouldn’t be the last. She was a cop with a job to
she repeated that statement often enough, it might take away the pain."
As she and Jeff face a host
of challenges in their latest
case, Chantel is forced to face her fears.
A.J. McCarthy crafts a fine
interplay between thriller
and murder mystery story, intersecting Chantal's evolution as a
a potential victim with a case which seems to hold no ready solutions
As fear, doubt, and even
love enter into the picture,
McCarthy creates a fast-paced story that rests as much upon Chantal's
to change her focus and sense of duty as it does on the undertones of a
treachery and tragedy that changes her relationships.
story of intrigue will delight
readers who like murder mysteries, strong female protagonists, and a
which offers many satisfying twists and turns. Most of all, Faux Friends excels in a juxtaposition
of professional and emotional growth that leads Chantal to reconsider
enemies, and all that lies in-between as police force relationships are
Readers who like their
thrillers embedded with emotional
growth will find Chantal a memorable and strong protagonist who
roots of her decisions, assumptions, and their ultimate impact on her
Return to Index
Music and Mayhem Press
ASIN: B08XKJY5ZQ $2.99 Kindle
Foulshot provides prior fans with another
Frank Renzi crime
thriller that introduces a special puzzler to the NOPD homicide
form of three different murders, a jailed suspect who is not talking,
that indicate that an intricate web of lies may lie at the heart of a
that is not cut-and-dried, defying his problem-solving prowess.
As Frank and
talented detective and lover Kelly share theories and investigate, a
characters and potential perps come to light that all intersect on the
playing field of NBA gamblers involved in a big-stakes game.
to a dangerous game which threatens children and adults alike, Foulshot takes many intriguing twists
and turns as Frank and Kelly embark on their most challenging
bodies, journeys between New Orleans, Chicago, and Memphis, and a
threat to Frank, who finds the tables turned as the investigator
become another victim, create a fast-paced story. It's accessible to
to Frank Renzi's special brand of intriguing cases, but will especially
prior fans more than familiar with his approaches to solving crime.
Book 10 in
proves every bit as complex and compelling as its predecessors. It
goal of expanding Frank's world as he encounters Russian interests,
men, and the complex underworld of sports betting and its connections
violence and criminal special interests.
Return to Index
Mind of a
Bruce M. Perrin
Mind Sleuth Publications
ASIN: B08YZB8N65 $.99
Once an FBI
Rebecca Marte has now become a PI. Her first job is the unusual case of
charged with killing a man during a coven ritual...seemingly
because a group of people witnessed the murder. Or, did they?
In From the Mind of a Witch, Rebecca's
client wants her to clear the name of the High Priestess, Della
sounds like an impossible task, given the circumstances. But as Rebecca
deeper into the coven, its politics, and special interests, she comes
realize that her client's unusual defense of being possessed may be
piece of an evolving puzzle. Rebecca finds herself increasingly drawn
deadly supernatural game.
Is Della an
untouchable pagan leader, a shrewd businesswoman, or something more? As
a company CFO, becomes involved in the probe, facts emerge that pit
against many forces; not the least of which is the power of
suggestion and spiritual possibilities that may contribute to
client's wild contention. But, will it hold up in court against a
a murder investigation into a story replete with supernatural forces,
business interests, and the progressive foray into danger as a savvy PI
herself operating in a milieu where she is over her head. These devices
contribute to a thoroughly engrossing story.
To add to
considerable suspense, Perrin adds a life-and-death struggle as an
side-story. Faced with her nearly impossible task, Rebecca turns to an
friend, psychologist Sam “Doc” Price to help her bridge the gap between
supernatural and a reality she can embrace. He, however, has become
perhaps dangerously so, with the hunt for his kidnapped fiancée as she
for her life. Can he break free of his obsession even for a moment to
The blend of
investigation, supernatural influences, and psychological probe is
inviting because the characters are so solidly represented and nicely
the mystery ever-changing. Perrin's probe into memory's fallacies and
possibilities is particularly intriguing as the story evolves.
As lies and
hatred escalate into confrontations, Rebecca walks a fine line between
psychological understanding and supernatural revelations. Her story is
with satisfying twists and turns, and is certain to delight those who
supernatural influences cemented with murder mystery intrigue.
Return to Index
L’Oste Vineyard Press
978-1-7353896-7-7 $14.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
thriller readers alike will find Invasion
of the Undead cultivates a special brand of tension designed
to raise the
hackles and intrigue the mind. It centers on the domestic dilemma faced
ex-Marine commander Chase Brooks when he returns home from a stint in
Afghanistan only to find that the enemy (the undead) is unalive and
operating on American soil.
this scenario and other zombie novels is that nobody else is
their existence in America. It's difficult to effectively fight a war
nobody will admit to.
enough traumas overseas, from fighting enemies who will not die. Now he
take his work to the streets. And not every living person will
either his efforts or his unusual contentions.
Invasion of the Undead employs Chase's
observations to bring to life (pardon the pun) the confrontations and
that surround his missions.
blow up himself and the zombies he faces in a stone temple in
would seem to end the story before it begins. Actually, it introduces a
scenario in which Chase is an unlikely sole survivor, returned to his
injured, but in one piece—which is more than can be said about his
would seem to explain the fantasy surrounding the zombie apocalypse
his last memory. The trouble is that events keep happening which
just a zombie issue, but a supernatural cover-up.
And so the
portion solidifies as Chase struggles to recover and reconcile his
the certainty of his experience with the altered reality unfolding
at tracing the roots of these convictions and their effect on Chase and
who believe in him: “Brooks,” the Colonel
started, shaking his head. “You do realize how this sounds, right?
priest that died overseas, here in Chesapeake, raising the dead and
them after you, and then someone is covering it up afterwards. Does
rational to you, son?” he asked me, finally looking me in the face. “I
say it was rational, sir. I said it was true,” I said quietly."
As he delves
deeper into a scenario that moves beyond the battlefield and PTSD and
very real threats, the thriller elements simmer with puzzles and
draw readers in like quicksand.
hard to stop reading. It's equally difficult for Chase to reconcile his
experience and reality with a probe into who (or what) lies at the
this uprising and his involvement in it.
looking for a
very different blend of military confrontation, thriller, and
will relish the original, sometimes quirky perspective of a story that
grippingly unrelenting as a zombie's grasp.
Return to Index
The Last of
Pisgah Press, LLC
The Last of the Swindlers sets its murder
mystery scene in the Blue
Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina in Fernglade in 1978, where
and a double murder rock a small town unused to threat and the specter
on a mission that has arrived at a success-or-fail pivot point.
signs may signal success, but there are small-town forces at work to
Leader's path to growth. A crisis brings with it slaughter, and tragic
circumstances bring disparate individuals together in a struggle that
the underlying transformation of this once-bucolic (on the surface,
town as its course clashes with modern times and special interests.
“There’s a sense of responsibility that’s part of
living in a small
town." As a host of characters absorb their revised roles and
away from comfort and familiarity into new territory, the story
intersection of small-town perspectives with the forces that emerge
big-city interests seek to find a place within it.
refuge, but bring the ills of their world with them. Ordinary folk just
familiar place that stays the same. Fernglade native Oliver
Swindler, unhappy with life in the big city, just wants a quiet place
home and a garden to cultivate, but is charged with solving a mystery
process that will change all the things he's come to value in his
at bringing this small town to life. Yes, this is a murder mystery; but
that, it's an excellent inspection of the social and political currents
affect the town's citizen's lives and Oliver's choices, placing the
the murder in as important a position as the social conflict itself.
full-bodied reads about small town characters, big city interests in
environments and opportunities, and lives out of control will relish
Loewer's ability to produce a story that rests on the choices of many
The Last of the Swindlers is a vivid
story of not just
investigations, but shifting interpersonal relationships. It will prove
thoroughly absorbing and satisfyingly complex to the end.
Return to Index
story enthusiasts are in for a treat with The
Last Review, because it takes the P.I. approach beyond
while including all the trappings of a solid investigative piece.
Levington, a film critic genius who finds himself in the role of an
investigator when he witnesses a murder. The story opens with a bang ("The camera was still rolling when she
was shot."), but the real story takes place twenty years
the bodies begin piling up, leading a strange actress and a tired
become involved in Levin's production and its deadly backdrop.
director and actors, investigators
and novices with no investigative savvy, and those who find themselves
their comfort zones whether on shoots or probing criminal activities
make for a
fine juxtaposition of backgrounds, differing approaches to events, and
Drawn back to a country he'd
resisted entering, Polo
Levington finds his approaches to life and even his genius challenged
different levels: "Now I understand
why I didn't want to come back here. This is one of those places where
cannot be reached. I hate Buenos Aires..."
are many places where truth remains elusive; not the least of which is
own barriers to getting to the truth of many different matters.
events unfold, he finds his past, his fears, and his focus on an
production all working against him in the search for answers, leading
characters into worlds they are ill-equipped to handle.
blend of stage backdrop and intrigue is very well presented. Lucas
excels in precise descriptions of the theater milieu that draws readers
in: "To understand this, you have to think
about the lighting of the set. When the studio lights are turned off
the scene ones are left on, the contrast is absolute. Inside the circle
Fresnel lights and the camera, everything can be seen; on the contrary,
that area, everything else is darkness."
like a stage production, this mystery develops slowly, weaving
motivation, and the blinders of background experience into a murder
is hard to put down and difficult to predict.
who enjoy stories of savants drawn into worlds beyond their comfort
find The Last Review exceptionally
well done and hard to put down.
Return to Index
"The white man never listens to the Indian."
even when he
is trying to warn them, and even when his message is meant to save
and their world. This is the opening warning of Meadowlarks,
which introduces a savvy old Native American, a dark
spirit which protects a sacred valley, and a simmering legacy that
events that took place ten years prior and its threat to a new
menace a family, which has fled the city for a more peaceful rural
when a long-standing blood sacrifice designed to keep a beast at bay is
aside, resulting in a rash of murders that make the family's urban
look tame in comparison.
eight-year-old son Jason seek a safe haven and a new life. Instead,
unwittingly step into a maelstrom of horror partially brought about by
unwillingness to allow a long-standing ritual to continue. As family
relationships, heritage, neighbors, and deadly forces intersect, evil
apparent in not only an unleashed supernatural beast, but in the hearts
Christmas is coming as events from the past
threaten to spill into the present. Readers drawn by stories
roots, supernatural horror, Native rituals, and family relationships
each of these facets well explored. These multiple components
seamlessly to build a nicely-paced drama that comes full circle for
Native John Crow, whose new neighbors have now become part of this
valley and its long-standing ritual practices, changing their lives
Meadowlarks is especially recommended for
fans of Tony
Hillerman-style intrigue who seek a vigorous dose of the supernatural
into a mix of mystery and interpersonal struggle.
Return to Index
S. Lee Manning
$18.99 Paper/$28.99 Hardcover/$4.99 epub and Kindle
In Trojan Horse, S. Lee Manning outlined
the efforts of American operative Kolya Petrov to track a deadly
involved in planning nuclear plant meltdowns around the globe. A key to
this game involved planting a 'Trojan horse' virus in a computer. But a
necessary sacrifice in the plan was Kolya Petrov, a loner and Russian
Nerve Attack outlines Kolya Petrov's
revised life of intrigue and
deception, which continues here with reverberations from an undercover
in Moscow. Petrov has long believed the Russian message about being
for anything, and has absorbed its motto: "Moscow
rules. Trust no
in his new life. In fact, it combines with PTSD to create different
that affect his role as a former undercover intelligence operative
As his fate
entwined with the actions of former Mossad agent Tehila Melaku, Petrov
on his fiancée Alex's life in a new confrontation with high-stakes
Readers receive an engrossing story of intrigue filled not just with
but psychological insights into how a loner ex-agent is drawn back into
habits. His inability to adjust to his new life is very nicely
presented: "There were lines he tried not to
cross, in drinking and in his relationship. But he didn’t fit in – and
family party in Aaron’s upscale home underscored that fact. They were
people, who talked about their jobs and their families and Judaism. He
living family except for Alex; he disliked his new job but couldn’t
his former job; and he was agnostic. Politics was risky."
meeting with a smuggler, and embarks on another clandestine operation
his personal life against his professional abilities. Readers receive
moments not just from his changing perspective, but those of people
intersect with his: "Russians. Jews.
He didn’t trust either of them. Russians were indoctrinated at an early
And Jews – well, Jews were loyal to each other and to Israel, not to
And Petrov was both a Russian and a Jew. Who the fuck knew what his
loyalties might be?"
Tehila, and CIA
operative Stephen Kowolsky barrel towards a confrontation, nightmares
coalesce with violence and threats. These forces change and challenge
Petrov has built from the ruins of his career.
is a heady
rush of intrigue and psychological inspection that weaves a
into an evolving new life. It's a story designed to attract prior
newcomers alike, placing Petrov, once again, in a position far from his
familiar routines or the coping mechanisms that worked for him in the
Readers of Trojan Horse, in particular, will find
this sequel thoroughly engrossing.
Return to Index
Renaissance: White Wings
978-0578845111 $12.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
One day, Detective Booker
Vaux arrives home from
work to find his entire family has vanished without a trace. It turns
a large corporation set on altering reality has something to do with
and so Booker and his partner Sam head out to do what they do best:
Renaissance: White Wings
that investigation into realms dangerous even in
a futuristic world where androids abound and humanity is
increasingly threatened by its own technological advancements.
In a world
"the hustle of police work is never tamed," Booker has carved a
unique place for himself that can never be replaced or augmented by
means. Or, can it?
As he and
into unknown territory, they become increasingly ensnared in a plot
from hacking into police feeds to making the Solis Corporation a
entity impossible to control or harness.
The goal is
artificially induce the next phase of Mankind, injecting him into a
a price. It's a price Booker and Sam deem too expensive to pay as their
results in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game in a thriller setting that
functions, dystopian themes, and intrigue.
Brian Gates does an outstanding job of
making this milieu come to life through the eyes of a policeman who
to live his life with purpose and family support, but finds his ideals
at odds with this new reality.
The story progresses with a form of Robin
Cook-style intrigue that keeps readers on the edge of their seats with
satisfyingly unpredictable twists and turns throughout.
As the real personas, intentions, and
challenges of both Booker and Solis emerge, readers are treated to a
series of clues and keys that Booker must unlock if he ever has hopes
his family again. These keys lead him straight into a dangerously
How inconsiderate the world is, to go on in
the face of such a threat! And how savvy Booker must be, to thwart a
never imagined as being a part of his present life and possible future.
Gripping, involving, and powered by fierce
characters who don't quit, Project Renaissance: White Wings will
simply delight readers of dystopian worlds and intrigue who will find
thriller and sci-fi components to be powerfully compelling.
Return to Index
Mark E Sorenson
978-1-953910-04-2 $16.99 Paper/$8.99 Kindle
cyberthrillers and international espionage will relish the fast-paced
and action in A Restaurant in Jaffa.
Ryan Thompson's attendance at a BlackHat Convention of computer hackers
geeks, whose hobbies are locating and exploiting computer system
vulnerabilities. Ryan may be a computer prodigy, but he's not a hacker.
founded a computer company, and is there to meet with a potential
save his failing business.
A group of
Palestinian revolutionaries have hacked into and are using his
for their nefarious purposes, leaving Ryan's reputation sullied, and so
on an effort to clear his name.
forces and interactions are represented in the quirky little restaurant
Hadyag, where disparate groups of individuals gather to blow off steam
socialize. The Palestinian/Israeli conflict comes to life in both a
and a political manner through the restaurant, which also sets this
from general thrillers that too often don't take the time to focus on
and cultural interactions.
emerge from the kitchen and surrounding environment of Al Hadyag are
particularly well done: "The cool
sea breeze was a welcome respite from the steaming hot kitchen of Al
Hadyag. Hanging on the slopes
of old Jaffa,
the HaPisgah Gardens faced the Mediterranean, its surface interrupted
waves crashing over Andromeda’s rock, a singular stone edifice just
Other than the occasional call of a seagull and the sounds of the
waves, it was
quiet. Hassan waited for Fariq in their usual spot, the very same spot
father used to bring him to when he was young." These bring
to life the
atmosphere of the Middle East, adding personal touches that imbibe the
components with a solid sense of place and peoples: "The
large round table in the corner of Al Hadyag was strewn with
the remains of the meal Hassan had served his friends and Jamal and
Uncle Kasim. The restaurant’s mountainous dishes of couscous, lamb,
potatoes were far superior than anything Kasim could find in his home
The notes on
restaurant fields local political struggles and discretely offers
dishes to special guests helps solidify its role in the community and
appeal to a diverse clientele.
an excellent job of crafting a creative, globe-trotting yarn that
main characters and readers off their feet. Its political interactions,
terrorist threats, technological challenges, and interactions are
cyberthrillers won't be disappointed in the world-changing arena of A Restaurant in Jaffa, which is gripping
and hard to put down.
Return to Index
Deborah Goodrich Royce
Post Hill Press
978-1642937091 $27.00 Hardcover
Ruby Falls is a psychological thriller that revolves around a young actress. Much like in the classic Rebecca, Eleanor finds that her new husband isn't the man she had thought, and the clues that begin to add horror into her life form the foundation of a story that is compellingly intriguing as two individuals with hidden aspects to their pasts come to terms with an uncertain result from their union.
In addition to the building mystery, Ruby Falls is adept at chronicling the dysfunctional relationship between a husband and wife: Eleanor. “Orlando cuts me off sharply and then laughs a little as he continues, ’I said I have it covered. You might try listening.’ I study his face, trying to connect the look in his eyes with his laughter. ‘I’m sorry, darling,’ he says. ‘You were just prattling on and not really paying attention. I told you I have it covered. You don’t need to worry.’ I suppose he means to telegraph to me that the conversation is over.”
As Eleanor begins to uncover the foundations of Orlando’s attitude, approach to life, and the effect of his presence and absence alike, she draws ever closer to a life that assumes a spooky similarity to that of Rebecca’s. She is cast in a Hollywood production of the classic story and finds her life becoming an eerie mirror to the protagonist's discoveries and trials...albeit in a storybook cottage setting in the Hollywood Hills.
Los Angeles's atmosphere is drawn as realistically and engrossingly as that of Rebecca's Manderley as Eleanor finds herself not only in legal trouble, but investigating what happened to her cat-crazy neighbor Dottie Robinson, who was born in the house in 1907, and whose presence is both a compelling and a threatening force in her life.
Orlando's personality is changing. So is Eleanor's. And the juxtaposition of the two forces is on a trajectory for a clash that will expose long-held secrets and threaten a discovery like none other.
Deborah Goodrich Royce does an outstanding job of creating a contemporary parallel story that connects Rebecca and Ruby Falls. Fans of DuMaurier's classic will find in Royce's story an intriguing blend of mystery and revelation as strongly steeped in psychological undertones as the original classic.
This contemporary literary thriller is highly recommended reading for those who like gothic stories infused with psychological tension and introspection. It is especially recommended for classes studying Rebecca, who will find its contemporary contrast and current-day doppelganger in Ruby Falls.
The tale exposes the fine
paradox between magic, family
ties, and the boundaries of what is real and what is not: "Once I started
filming—you don’t know what is real or fake right now, but the movie
I assure you." So is the outstanding
tension and surprise
Return to Index
Mitchell Cove Publishing LLC
978-0990937456 $14.95 Paper/$5.95 ebook
Author website: www.lizlazarus.com
find Shades of Silence a sober, involving story
that grips the heart and
mind with its tense tale.
with a news report about a missing Ormond Beach pilot and
This segues into the first-person observation of Julianna Sandoval, who
just closed her restaurant for the night, only to receive a mysterious
who is killed before her eyes...and before she can transmit a message
investigation that ensues, Julianna finds herself drawn into a world
previously been unaware of. Detective Grant, too, finds his latest
case much more complex than he'd realized, one that leads him in
unfolds between their two perspectives and moves from the missing
Julianna's husband, to a murder investigation that turns up secrets
restaurant's chef, bartender, and others on the periphery of the case
business, an engrossing set of circumstances keeps readers guessing and
learns about conversations between Michael and his son that challenge
everything she thinks she knows, Detective Grant becomes even more
the unfolding secrets that lead them all into a world of danger.
point to this story are the graphic descriptions of victim experiences
sex trafficking changes their lives: "I shut my eyes and
myself to the fact that this was my life now. In some way, I felt that
deserved it because I’d run away. I became complacent, and my will to
back was gone. I believed the only value I had as a human being was the
my body for sex."
prior familiarity with such scenarios may find these candid discussions
difficult, but their realistic contents add elements of truth to the
makes it all the more absorbing for its roots in real circumstances
affect different members in a community.
result is a
murder mystery with a social message that will keep readers engaged,
and involved to the end. It's a story of one woman's dangerous
the consequences of a homicide investigation. The plot grows to embrace
questions of how grief and loss are absorbed and reflected into daily
how communities and individuals can draw together to identify and
forces in their lives.
subplots and facets make Shades of Silence a
hard-hitting tale, indeed.
Return to Index
Stand Up for Bastards
Stand Up for
Bastards is a new novel
by Caleb Mason, a Los Angeles defense attorney and
former prosecutor. The
narrator is a
private investigator and former police officer named Marcus Heaton. The story opens with
Marcus playing the
clarinet in Central Park, while remembering
a fight from his days as a cop.
Marcus’s own history of violence and corruption are
mirrored in the
complicated case he gets drawn into.
Marcus finds himself moving from New York to L.A. in
search of elusive
answers and witnesses as he draws the attention of both state and
Marcus is a savvy
investigator, and tells the story with
a gritty sense of realism about law firms, clients, and street-level
work. The story is
steeped in astute
observations seen through Marcus's eyes: "The ex-cops get the legwork. Walking a
neighborhood canvassing for witnesses. Surveillance on workers’ comp
Domestic stuff, regular snooping. And security. There’s always work
around looking tough. Lord knows I had done enough of it. We all did.
just free, beautiful money. My theory of private security is that it’s
just another version of the suit or car or Rolex. Just another way to
that you can pay for something shiny and expensive and useless. And
plenty of celebrities who picked their security staff for sex. Which
too, if you were into that sort of stuff."
Caleb Mason captures the
milieu of a complicated case and
an investigator who is tested not just by the perps, but also by the
intrigues of his employer and client.
Readers will find the tense
action and cat-and-mouse
games to be thoroughly engrossing and unpredictable to the end, as the
intersection of crime and politics pushes the investigator to his
Bastards is a detective novel that embraces the atmosphere
and streets of
West and East coasts alike and tells a powerful story about the
of law enforcement" with a compelling swagger.
Highly recommended for fans of detective
Return to Index
Whispers: An American
$24.99 Hardcover; $12.99 Paper; $7.99 Kindle
Whispers: An American Legend opens with
five-year-old Lucy Ann
Talbet, a "fairy of a human being" who is playing hide and seek in
the old Talbot colonial mansion with her brother Jeffrey when disaster
Mister Tasty Treats has lured her into the woods beyond the family
disaster reverberates until it comes to rest in another time, when
sisters find their dream vacation turned into a nightmare.
Whispers is a unique story of social and
family danger that reaches
into disparate lives with a powerful threat by Mister Tasty Treats. The
kidnapper has struck again, taking Stacey's eight-year-old niece. Only
time, he has to contend with Stacey's prowess and determination, as
well as her
savvy about modern approaches to problem-solving and devices such as
group that has been hunting this perp for four years, but she's not
by the kind of help it offers her: "I
just blurted out, “Hunting an abductor of children long after the
is grown-up and still not solving the thing? That doesn’t inspire much
confidence. You ever find anyone?” I couldn’t believe how direct I was
It wasn’t like me to provoke instead of coax. I think I was just over
bullshit at that point."
Does it help
victims are found alive, many years later? Does it help if women's'
aren't believed or publicized? As Stacey delves deeper into the
strange truth emerges that challenges her ideals of justice and the
myth of Mister Tasty Treats, who turns out to have long roots reaching
Readers who like stories of investigation, horror, and a family challenged by history and present-day events and attitudes will find Whispers a surprising blend of not just horror, but satirical social inspection and political commentary.
choose Whispers expecting the usual
supernatural thriller will find that it evolves from a typical
scenario into a brand of special inspection that may stymie those who
a one-dimensional entertainment piece. It's not.
women's changing roles and strengths in the world, it cultivates an
ability to pose uncomfortable truths in the guise of a thriller, and
engaging examination of different social truths and realities, both
and personal, create a dynamic story that is anything but a ghost tale
the explorations of women in distress who are strong and savvy enough
charge of their own destinies in unexpectedly astute, original ways.
Whispers is highly recommended reading
for women (and men) who like
unexpected twists and turns, sometimes-uncomfortable social insights,
mystery that creates the backdrop for social inspection at an
Whispers won't be for everyone;
especially those who anticipated a
thriller or supernatural tale alone. Those who enjoy plots that begin
seemingly predictable genre elements, only to evolve into inspections
corruption, racial inequality, and social issues, will find this story
wide-ranging, unexpected, and delightfully thought-provoking.
Return to Index
Barbara Anne King
Cypress Point Press
978-1733536950 $16.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Readers of historical fiction centered around World War I will find The Apple King a powerful story that winds 1881 immigrant Nikola Markovich’s secret and a journey to a new life in America with events that bring him full circle back to Croatia, where he confronts the past and his future.
poverty-stricken European heritage and his success in the apple
industry in the
new country to a legacy that draws him back into a world stuck in a
there to confront his failures, successes, and opportunities for
Barbara Anne King paints a gripping portrait of Europe, America, and
patriotic pride in the Croatian city of Ragusa influence Nikola's
lend to his decisions to reclaim his heritage, the milieu of a world
on the edge of war comes alive through his perceptions and experiences.
when he returns is an uneducated country that has made little headway
poverty under the Austrian Regime. The next generation who would have
for it has left for bigger promises. Nikola's return portends many big
not just for him, but for the countries he loves, which share the
To many in
home, Nikola is "...just another Croat seeking his fortune in
California." As readers move through Nikola's experiences with fellow
immigrants from different countries, his connections to his homeland
newfound successes in America, and the ties which draw him back to his
they receive a powerful saga steeped in European and American history
culture at the turn of the century.
ability to intersect the personal ideals, secrets, dreams, and
Nikola's life with bigger-picture thinking about liberty and the
individuals and nations alike provides historical novel readers with
opportunity to understand many influences on World War I's prewar
insights on Croatian culture, in particular, will relish all the
details of a
world which too rarely receives much in-depth exploration.
of a Slav empire (shared by other Slav countries, including Croatia)
and the end
result of its victory in the Balkan Wars to the struggle to "seize the
moment before it flees," King crafts a satisfying juxtaposition between
political events and personal struggle as the story evolves.
There are no
or simple perspectives here. From the complicated relationships between
immigrants from different countries to the evolution of California's
apple industry, King gives examples of all kinds of growth on many
The Apple King is a compelling saga of
generations, countries, political objectives, and social
brings readers into a compelling situation and the life of a young man
challenged economically, morally, and ethically by many hard decisions
Return to Index
Rare Bird Books
9781644281635 $26.00 Hardcover/$11.49 Kindle
In the novel
Bedside Matters, Walter is literally
the end of the line. He's not only reviewing his life's trajectory up
concluding act, but he's considering his family ties, his ambitions,
process of letting go. This forms the heart of a story that is firmly
how a man used to being in charge lets loose of the things he cannot
control...death being at the top of his current list.
stories of family intrigue, connections, and literary influences and
how to take the next steps beyond life itself will find Bedside
Matters a special blend of ethereal and spiritual
reflection. It reviews the conundrums of a man who finds his life
tighter as it draws to a close.
It asks a
question ("...what else is there, with no future?") and probes how
his relationships change as his body deteriorates—even that with his
who is by his side even now: "Their
boundary lines from each other have been well established and long
But she is absorbing this like surrendering one’s aching body to a hot
expect the humor, or the additional of LBGTQ, sexuality, and gender
that are present in the story of a gruff curmudgeon in his last days of
but Richard Alther considers family ties and bonds in more than one
approach creates a delightful interplay between various pieces of the
end-of-life puzzle that increasingly lead Walter to turn over the reins
life to those who attend him.
to move on involves an attitude change about his life and his role in
it: "...he is becoming increasingly alone
even with faithful Rufe plus various people poking about, Irma
is good, he is thinking. I’m getting ready. It’s getting close. Soon
had all the rehearsal one could hope for. And then the show must go on.
you are about ready; he addresses himself, but meanwhile you manage to
one amusement after another."
interested in an ethereal story that includes increasing disability,
of independence and self-reliance, and the challenge of saying goodbye
meaningful way will find Bedside Matters an
unexpected journey merging mind, body and soul towards a new
life and those left behind.
tale that takes one man's evolution a step further into the unknown,
delight readers with its story of the legacy of a man who moves from
participant to observer in his life.
Return to Index
Linda Long Radosevich
979-8607920456 $19.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
Bethlehem Boy is a historical fiction
about Jesus, but Linda Long Radosevich provides a cautionary note at
it "...intentionally expresses my
personal faith in who and what Jesus of Nazareth was." As
tale involves personal interpretation and poetic license not designed
authoritative, but embracing, warm, and revealing.
of Christian fiction will relish a fictional focus on the young Jesus
he grew up, what his influences in the world were, and how he stepped
role as a spiritual leader in a world fraught with political and social
before Jesus appears on the scene, Radosevich demonstrates a prowess in
bringing the times and its peoples to life through strong dialogue that
social and political observations into daily lives operating at
levels of society: "Simon changed
the subject and asked the two Pharisees, “What do you know about the
star?” “Ah, the star.” Nicodemus cleared his throat. “I’ve searched the
Scriptures as you asked. The Prophet Daniel spoke of leaders of justice
like the stars forever. Therefore, so new and so bright a star may well
indicate the birth of a future leader of justice or perhaps a great
Nicodemus hesitated. “Or perhaps a king.” A loud groan issued from
chest. “For everyone’s sake, don’t tell Herod about any future king.
assume a challenger to his dynasty is being born. Thank you, though,
information. God be with you.”
astute are the representations of a young boy's life as he survives
onslaughts and is accused by peers of being a teacher's pet, among
things: “What did you call him?” an older
classmate asked. “Bethlehem Boy,” shot out Baruch with disdain,
thinks God let him alone escape Herod’s slaughter.” Jesus looked
never said or even thought that,” he told the small group gathering
Moshe immediately looked to Sam and realized the secret he’d shared
kept. Sam’s guilty expression confirmed so. “I heard otherwise,” Baruch
contradicted. “You think you’re so special, and you act special, too.
why you’re the rabbi’s favorite.”
sentiment among the boys is
that nothing good has ever come from Bethlehem. Though Jesus represents
something different, being different isn't necessarily embraced;
hard times where ritual and familiarity supersede new ideas, people,
unfolds Jesus's life,
readers are treated to a
powerful story that also embraces the changing lives of his parents,
thought they'd be part of a Son of God's upbringing and world, and who
losing him in more than one way: She
wondered, though, what such a powerful influence might portend, and if
take Jesus away from her again. “He did say it was his Father’s
Joseph reminded her. “Perhaps he senses—” “No, he couldn’t possibly,”
Mary, knowing perfectly well what Joseph had been about to say. “So
speak of this again, please. Not to my parents either. It’ll encourage
promote Jesus as a rabbi, and he may not want to become one.” Or maybe you don’t want him to become one,
thought Joseph. Maybe you prefer a
carpenter son who’ll always stay near you in Nazareth.
over and closed his eyes. He wasn’t about to disagree with Mary, who,
realized, had probably been traumatized over losing Jesus a second
time. To his
thinking, any mother would panic over a missing son, but no mother but
would have to panic about losing God’s
son. Therefore, he easily forgave her for wanting Jesus
readers interested in a different,
more personal take on Jesus's childhood, upbringing, and evolution
spiritually and politically) will find The
Bethlehem Boy rich in interpretative details
that probe the perceptions and evolution not just of Jesus, but his
discussions possible from this approach and warm review should be
any Christian looking for a broader inspection of Jesus's life than
fictional works adopt.
Return to Index
Christine Melchior, Publisher
978-0578863832 $12.99 paperback; $4.99 ebook
Readers of women's fiction
will receive a treat with
Christine Melchior's Bright, a
that opens in 1983 in Massachusetts, where twelve-year-old Leeann
observes a fire and her father running from it.
Fast forward to 1998. Leeann
works in a Boston high-rise
and faces the lingering aftereffects of her father's involvement in the
when new information breaks open the arson case.
As the timeline fluctuates
between the 80s and Leeann's
coming of age and new adult challenges, readers receive an engrossing
the impact of adult decisions on a child's psyche and its reemergence
Christine Melchior is at her
best when describing the
aftereffects of this choice: "Leeann
woke in the middle of the night on a sweat-soaked sheet. Panic tightened her chest. She sat up, trying to
catch her breath. She
had lied to the police and that was a
crime. She broke
the law. People get
arrested for lying to the
police. They get
could end up in jail or juvenile hall for
a long time. She
took deep breaths
trying to relax and clear her mind.
eye caught a patch of blue and yellow paisley patterned wallpaper,
dimly lit by
her night-light. When
she squinted, she
saw sea urchins with monster heads floating across the wall."
She also excels at crafting
a long-ranging story that
follows Leeann's confrontation with her mother, her father's journey,
long-term consequences of a choice that changes a family's trajectory
From an anonymous note years
later that reopens old
wounds to the progression of years from age 12 and upwards which
the now-adult Leeann's struggles, Melchior's
story is poignant, realistic,
engrossing, and follows the newly challenged connections between a
her parents through the years as everything changes: "Under
normal circumstances the day would have left Leeann feeling
pumped. She was
heading to Boston
University with a four-year scholarship a few days before Labor Day to
a high-rise dorm with its view of the Boston skyline.
She walked onto the stage to the cheers of
her softball teammates. She
had a glow on her face. The
handed her a diploma, that piece of parchment releasing her from
launching her into adulthood, but all she thought of was her mother,
wanted to live long enough to witness this day."
Can Leeann rebuild her own
life against the forces that
moved her from childhood too early? Bright
is a compelling study of this process. It is highly recommended as a
story of moral and ethical struggle and growth, and is a riveting
intention and consequences.
fiction readers will find Bright
Return to Index
Black Rose Publishing
9781684337033 $19.95 paper/$6.95 ebook
Decanted: Sheehan, Linda: 9781684337033: Amazon.com: Books
Decanted's story opens in Paris in 1936,
where middle-aged artist
Marciel struggles to capture the woman's form in a modeling session,
inspiration. The story then moves to modern-day New York. Here,
during a wine tasting at Spence’s Fines Wines & Spirits turns
protagonist Samantha Goodyear's great-aunt, who was a model, rebel, and
appreciator in Paris right before the war, eventually moving to the
continue exploring her passion for fine wine and culture.
inherited much from her spunky aunt's attitude towards life, working
as an accountant in the online sales world of Weatherhouse towards
suddenly feel elusive.
"enjoy her ride" though life as her aunt did, Samantha embarks on a
sea change when Paris reaches out to her in a different way, fueled by
lure of wine and romance.
on a journey that reveals her aunt's hidden history and her own
wine and modeling, she learns much about aging beautifully. Her journey
Manhattan to Paris and then to a job working with a winery in
to a new role and discoveries that change everything.
wine will find plenty of both steeped in Samantha's evolutionary
process as she
moves from past to present and rubs elbows with major players in
wine industry. The lap of luxury and culture is explored as she makes a
life for herself and realizes new ambitions and goals far from the type
success she'd already built in New York.
fiction will find the flavor of this read more full-bodied than a
embracing career and growth as much as it embraces the wine industry
Samantha's mercurial explorations of life.
Decanted is highly recommended reading
for those interested in the
intersection of traditional women's roles and newfound passion that
marriage, presenting an amazing journey that links them both. Fueled by
grapes, and personal growth, its lively, realistic tone engagingly
the cultures of France, New York, and California in satisfyingly
Return to Index
978-1-7358600-1-5 $18.95 paper, $4.95 ebook
a literary survey of family ties and healing. It opens in 2007, when "Dr. Landon Ratliff’s fortieth birthday
had been lost, thwarting everyone’s expectations, including his own." An
accident has changed the course of his life, resulting in a head injury
shattered thumb. On the surface, this appears to be a recoverable
However, like ripples in a
pond, his healing sends
undercurrents of change through his life, from his relationship with
to changes in his ability to help and teach others.
As Landon's healing moves
beyond immediate trauma to
embrace issues of a past he'd never successfully confronted, his
becomes one of reestablishing connections on more than one level—and in
than one life.
His medical leave from his
former passions, including
teaching, begins to offer him new opportunities, and Landon discovers
on a trajectory in which nothing of value is protected, certain, or,
oftentimes, even appealing.
Robert Schwab does a fine job of exploring a healing process that changes everything. As Luna joins his journey into his past and family relationships, readers are treated to a story of reconciliation and transformation that offers an enlightening, thought-provoking story.
attempts to confront his own mortality, his choices
and their consequences, and his connections to self and the wider world
large are particularly strongly portrayed as Landon learns difficult
how to solidify and handle his responses to life: “I
don’t know what to tell you, Landon. I don’t understand the battles
you fight inside your head, but I wish you could get past them. They
doing you any good."
The focus on how long-held
family relationships and
patterns are revised on all sides is particularly nicely done, and will
especially attract psychology students and readers interested in how a
commitment to doing the right thing goes awry in Eddie's life,
Eddie's real legacy turns
out to give readers pause for
thought as they absorb the lasting impact of life and death decisions
son's ability to love and embrace life. Perhaps more than anything,
this is the
shining light in a story that moves through Landon and Luna's world and
means to be part of a family.
Literary readers who enjoy
novels about pivot points in
life that lead characters in new directions will appreciate Eddie's Boy, which comes full circle to
lead an esteemed doctor to heal himself, opening up his life to new
possibilities and the warm embrace of a different depth of love.
Return to Index
Falling Forward, a Woman's
Pat Benedict Jurgens
Purple Pine Publishing
978-0-578-70157-8 $15.95 paper; $6.99 Kindle eBook
Ordering link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/057870157X/
Woman's Journey West is coming-of-age literary fiction at its
follows the saga of seventeen-year-old Louisa, a Mennonite farm girl
Her dreams of travel and
adventure seem impossible when
her mother dies in childbirth, leaving her to care for her younger
her father struggles to keep the farm running.
When he hires Thomas, an
outsider to the Faith, to help
on the farm, Louisa finds everything changed not just by her attraction
but the differences between her strict Mennonite upbringing and the
he poses to them as an outsider with very different beliefs and
life and God.
When her loving father
agrees to their union, Louisa and
Thomas thus begin their own journey, making many discoveries about
and each other along the way. They are challenged to create a life
a community that has shunned them.
Pat Benedict Jurgens brings
the times to life, as well as
introducing the foundations of a Mennonite household and its Germanic
Her attention to detail includes dialogue between father and daughter
captures these foreign flavors while keeping the story understandable: “I haf lost face in de church, but still haf
my daughter. Vith a strong-headed girl like you, dat is victory.” She
with an uncertain smile, but didn’t say anything. “Nineteen years you
voman grown, and one who knows her own mind.” Louisa’s fingers stopped
to take in his words: “I hope it nein vill land you in too much
When yet another tragedy
strikes, the headstrong and
determined Louisa is challenged to continue her foray into the world
alone: "...outdoors in the natural world,
grass along the walk greened, crocuses and then daffodils pushed their
from the earth. The scent of earth and early blossoms permeated the
Looking at the buds on the big cottonwood tree in the yard, Louisa saw
world awakening. Gradually she began to feel that life was for living."
Jurgens adds many
observations about women's roles during
this era, in these wild places and times: "A
woman’s livelihood hinged on either having a husband or enough money
to be independent." But Louisa is not the kind of woman to
quietly true to her assigned role even as a bank president stymies her
proposal: “I don’t doubt your capability,
Miss. And I admire your enthusiasm, but starting a business is a man’s
your husband were alive, I doubt that he’d agree to your ambitions. I
understand you need to make a living, but perhaps something you could
home would be more seemly. A store run by a woman? Pardon me, but a
for commerce is needed for an endeavor of this magnitude.”
Readers who anticipate the
journey of another pioneer
girl will find this coming-of-age story offers so much more as Louisa's
ventures in the West evolve from travel to business to enter another
circle, politics, which brings with it a blossoming women's suffrage
All these elements are
presented in a warm, involving
story that is a delight to read. The personal growth of a homebody and
girl into a determined woman who falls into a role of advocating for
change is well done and compelling.
Women's fiction readers who
seek more than adventure
alone will welcome Louisa's story of social, political, and personal
Return to Index
Holy Water of Free Enterprise may sound like a business book
motivational self-help piece, but it's a humorous novel that spoofs and
at the motivators for economic development and the intersection between
politics and rogue actions. It offers a tongue-in-cheek survey of
policy, business special interests, and considers the
incentives that drive both.
One of George Franklin's
objectives was for his readers
to "...have a good laugh and be completely entertained from page to
through each character's storyline." This goal is met through the
of two rednecks who insert themselves into a multi-billion-dollar
thanks to government aid, with ribald results. But the story holds more
comedic observation alone.
Also embedded in this saga
is a set of cultural mishaps
and investigations, tongue-in-cheek commentary on male and female
and roles both within and outside the business world, legal entities
political entanglements, and more.
The rogues aren't just the
rednecks who find themselves
in new and unpredictable circumstances, but the social structures and
which surround their rise to power and their newfound objectives.
Carl Hiaasen fans,
especially, should take note; because
the approaches, characters, and ironic situations that swirl throughout
are reminiscent of his works, as well as a good Christopher Moore spoof.
Readers warned about the
novel's humor might find
unexpected the business, political, and social food for thought
embedded in the
ruckus—but it's there, and is a nice contrast to the inherently fun
Readers looking for
something original, sassy, and
intriguing will find Incentives: The Holy
Water of Free Enterprise defies easy or pat categorization as
characters embark on paradigm-changing romps through business and
Return to Index
The Limits of Limelight is a Hollywood novel about the cousin of Ginger Rogers, Helen Nichols, who finds a different kind of opportunity in the town when her cousin invites her to become successful in the new motion picture business that is rapidly evolving.
teen comes to "talkie town" set for success, between her famous
cousin's invitation, the possibility of a contract, and her new name
Fraser). What she doesn't bring with her is an understanding of the
undercurrents of 'tinsel town' and its ability to crush the dreams and
aspirations of the inexperienced.
aunt, Lela Rogers, also has stars in her eyes and her own agenda for
success. This affects her relationships with her daughter Ginger and
face a male-dominated film industry that is ruthless its money-driven
to life, each changes and faces challenges to her dreams that forces a
picture of Hollywood's allure and opportunities for women.
relationships grow (as does the sense of family connection) from these
experiences: "Was Ginger going to ask her to move in? She’d
attached to Anne and Mimi Shirley. What’s more, she was reluctant to
that place she’d previously occupied, deep within the shadow cast by
outrageously talented and enormously popular movie star."
transformed by hobnobbing with other stars, handling new wealth and its
of more, and dealing with Hollywood's social and political environment,
Limits of Limelight does a fine job of capturing family
affected by the backdrop of opportunity (either real or illusionary).
true journey of Helen Maurine Brown Nichols (best remembered as Phyllis
Cerf Wagner), this story's progressive examination of the price of
a young girl's entry into an industry notorious for prosperity and
provides an engrossing glimpse into a bygone era and the forces
young woman's evolution into her own abilities and adulthood.
stories of Hollywood and family ties will find The Limits of
adds just the right blend of action to keep it vigorous and involving
end. It's a story especially recommended for anyone interested in
history and affairs.
Return to Index
ASIN : B08WFG2CCW $4.99 Kindle
The Magician is a sweeping historical
family saga that moves
between 1920 and 2019, tracing the heritage, birth, and growth of a
legend whose achievements change the Donora household. Before Stanisław
Franciszek Musiał steps into his destiny, however, a series of
personal and social) pose seemingly insurmountable barriers to his
His story is
92-year-old Patryk Rusek who, having been thwarted in his escape from a
community, decides to capture the magic of his family history for a
which eventually expands to embrace other listeners. Rusek hoped that,
gathering these recollections, he would be deemed sane enough to return
Donora, Pennyslvania home.
Donora is a
town, affected by the mills that became its lifeblood and by the
lives were changed and challenged by factory work. Kathleen Shoop
members of the Donora Historical Society to build authentic color into
which represents a fine blend of fictionalized lives and nonfiction
and social issues. She also reviewed source materials about the legend
of baseball player Stan Musial, injecting a background of solid history
biographical facts into the story.
baseball player deemed a "magician" by Rusek and everyone who knew
him. His magic stemmed as much from his attitude towards his abilities,
equally extraordinary way of overcoming seemingly insurmountable
achieve the impossible, and his kindness towards others as his skillful
his childhood, Donora history, and the events and elements that shaped
life, readers receive a powerful story of the Depression, the
Patryk faces over cancer, and the choices it brings to both his present
connections with his family.
strength to Shoop's story lies in its evocative descriptions of not
life and relationships, but the inner logic of his thoughts. Her
bring these to life to explore Stan's progression through hard work,
crises, love, and baseball dreams alike lends a powerful flavor to the
that even non-sports readers will find absolutely compelling: "...when I bat and I’m looking at the
pitcher and everything just fades away, all the voices, the fielders,
doubts, and I feel the pitcher’s movement like it’s mine, and in the
back of my
mind I register the grip and see the ball come off his fingertips—but
not even what’s important; it’s what comes after all that stuff that I
concentrate on, and before the ball gets halfway to the plate I know
gonna break or curve or drop, and I know whether to swing for short
or smack one through the center right gap. And then I do. It’s not like
kind of thinking in algebra or making sure I don’t stammer or deciding
college. It’s like nothing else I’ve ever
experienced. It’s like magic. It’s when I’m the most happy
I could ever be.”
fulfillment, happiness, and walking in the shoes of destiny drive this
and makes all its characters and their choices and trials realistic and
that a prior interest in baseball or Donora history is a requirement
enjoying The Magician will be in
a surprise. All that's required is an open mind and heart. The magic
in the tale will do the rest.
Return to Index
Secrets, the third novel in
the Jake McGreevy series,
combines a pun-filled culinary adventure in Paris, France,
a historical family mystery from World War
II. This is a
fast-paced tale of
intrigue that will appeal to middle
grade readers ages 10 and up.
stage is set
by a prologue that opens in German-occupied
Paris in 1942.
A courageous woman, forced to make difficult
decisions and employ
survival tactics during the war, must part
from her 11-year-old
daughter, Esther. Two fellow underground members will escort her south
Free Zone in France. The woman packs a family photo with a cryptic note
on the back into her daughter's belongings
and jots down important information about Esther into an
jam-packed journal, next to the details about her two other daughters,
been smuggled out of Paris earlier.
years. It's spring break in 2013, and
fifteen-year-old Jake and
his best friend Ben Meyers have just arrived in
Paris to participate
in a televised baking contest, run by the Le Cordon Bleu
school. When not being judged on their baklava and brioche,
be digging into Jake's late mother's family's
past. A photo from
the 1940s with a mysterious note, which once belonged
to Jake's late
grandmother, is their only clue, but it's enough to
get them started.
their guide, Jake and Ben begin their journey. After knocking
on a few
apartment doors, they meet Jake's cousin Sophie
and her grandmother,
Esther (Jake's great-aunt), who tells them about her mother's
mission in the 1940s and two journals. The four of them marvel at the
photos. If the note on the back can
be deciphered, it will lead them to answers about Jake's
history—and so much more.
Soon, Heather (a new friend from the baking contest) and Sophie's friend Claire (a Parisian Catacombs expert) join their quest. Along the way, contemporary dangers emerge: Whom can the teens trust? And who is that shadowy person following them on a moped?
will find Paris Secrets an
outstanding read that requires
no prior familiarity with Jake McGreevy's first
two adventures, and they will be riveted by
this impactful story
about friendship and valor, past and present.
Return to Index
Saints and Martyrs
978-1636495644 $18.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
follows protagonist Damian Kurt's determination to write his father's
proving that he was a saint and that, therefore, Damian is in line to
saint in heaven himself. This involves confessing his sins, handling
mother, and recovering from an accident that leads him away from home
prospect of becoming a religious figurehead, thanks to his mounting
The pursuit leads him to a
remote seminary which at first
seems ideal for following his goal of sainthood. However, it just goes
that ideals of godliness are rarely achieved by those who aspire to
Damian faces new challenges, the real challenge to his objectives
emerges in a
place of healing, wonder, and revelation.
Aaron Roe injects a wry
sense of humor into his
descriptions. Readers will find delight in the most common of
as Damian's ill-sought experiences during confession: "Dizzy,
he suddenly found himself leaning to the left. He swung
his torso in the opposite direction and almost fell through the
curtain and into the body of Canadian Martyrs. To steady himself he
sides of the small, square window facing him. Through its
grating, Father Dennis slouched in a black cassock and purple stole.
thick thumb and index finger, the priest pinched the ridge of his nose,
his glasses to his forehead. Then he rubbed his eyes before resting his
on his fist. He seemed oblivious to Damian’s flailing."
The sense of place, purpose,
and people are cemented
throughout by such descriptions, which tap realistic scenarios but
with a chuckle—perhaps because of their astute commentary on the
Catholic thinking: "He wanted to
confess his masturbation along with looking at the underwear model in
catalogue, but it was his practice, when confessing acts of lust, to
them between other, less embarrassing sins."
Damian's ability to
transcend earthly challenges seems
doomed as Roe outlines his failures in even the most mundane of tasks: "Damian was fully awake now and
recalled Thoreau’s injunction to keep awake
“by an infinite expectation of the
dawn.” This infinite
expectation was, to Damian’s understanding, a perpetual
re-approach life, adjust one’s worldview, and to daringly alter how you
your days. Also, to ever hope afresh, to never dampen one’s outlook by
dull, outmoded, and conventional beliefs. Ultimately, to retain, as
enjoined his followers, a childlike awe for nature’s beauty, for life’s
spring of surprises. And since today was just about to fully dawn, he
shore where, chilly and dripping, he realized he’d forgotten a towel
underwear. If he dried himself with his old clothes, his stale, smelly
would cling to him just when he was about to sail forth into a fresh
The result is a
tongue-in-cheek romp into the ideals of
sainthood and godly behavior that will have readers both reflecting on
laughing at Damian's convoluted journey. Religious readers who think
choosing a story about achieving a spiritual goal will find this story
flawed character who strives for perfection to be funny,
poignant as Damian tries to rid himself of his fears and the seminary's
increasingly crumbling façade of corruption, only to stumble into
truths and a new vision of life.
It's a vocation story of
another order, entirely!
Return to Index
979-8579977748 $4.99 Paper; $2.99 Kindle
depicted in Standees holds the rare
attribute of simultaneously feeling both familiar and alien. This will
readers of social satire and literary allusion, offering a close
ironic and dark settings that provide a twist on perspectives of modern
Take a walk
Lovee's world, where an elderly best friend has been reborn as
'standee'—a cardboard cutout of himself who represents a wave of undead
observers in a strange half-dead/half-alive milieu.
setting which puts all kinds of relationships to the test. In this
"love has run amuck," and has washed everything away. Lovee still
finds plenty to fear, despite his changed condition: "Now,
the lights in our apartment flickered. I best not move
forward. She held another unborn hostage in her womb. She had the power
and death. The stillborn still breathed in our memories amidst the
Standees is no straightforward
progression through the usual
pandemic scenario, but a surreal romp that juxtaposes inner and outer
imagination and change: "At that
instant, my phone rang. The question posed had awakened a memory. I was
again to that cold storage bin. A nurse was pulling me out of my
if I were born again. “Hi honey.” It was Miraj. She sounded breathless.
thought we could get together,” she said. Miraj, the nurse with her
butt, who extricated me. Her error put me in a body bag for the whole
see. Her and her cohort, palpating my lip. How much more pain did I
the midst of a world pandemic? It was obscene."
the usual logical progression of such a scenario may chafe at the
turning, winding story line that ebbs and flows like the tide. Standees assumes not a linear
progression but the mercurial staccato images of a dream, intoxicating
romp through images, underworlds, and the dark, stark reality of
standees who are corrugated coroplasts of their former selves.
Dip into a
consciousness style of narration in which Lovee is buffeted, abused,
the observer of a society transformed by pandemic and its own implosion
values: "Ruì’ān was being
brain-washed. How else to explain the rage? He was being programmed to
to suicide by over-ingesting milk chocolatey frosted donuts. There were
ways to kill Americans those days."
It brings to
mind One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest;
Lovee is too often the participant as well as the observer of revised
tactics and choices in this dreadfully altered world.
and confused and delighted, all in one. Standees
is no light read, but carries its readers into the dissolution of
self which seems both all too familiar and hauntingly surrealistic.
readers well used to the devices of satire and dark humor are in for a
as well as sci-fi or pandemic fiction audiences looking for a far more
twist on the subject.
Return to Index
979-8649768399 $12.99 Paper/$7.40 Kindle
fans with a special interest in the Mongol era and medieval European
will find a special treat in Tatar Storm—it's
the only fictional work to include all
the significant events of the
The focus is on the grandson of
Batu Khan, who has his sights set on ruling the entire European
only made it to Hungary, where his rule changed the lives of its people
to a firm rebellion that prevented him from achieving his broader goals.
One would expect such a story
to open in this
bygone era, but it begins in modern times, when a female archaeologist
on site to investigate an unexpected discovery during a construction
An ornately carved, hidden door sporting the double seal
of Béla IV
leads to an ancient sealed box that holds a historical treasure: the
words of Detre, son of Máté,
who records in extraordinary detail the events which led he and his
fellow men to hole up in an old castle for nine months; starving, cold,
dreading the Tatar invaders who have decimated Hungary.
This introduction injects a
desperation into the story from the start that draws readers while
that no prior familiarity with the era or Hungarian history is needed
to thoroughly access and enjoy this vivid account: "I
write down all that I witnessed during this last year, when our
flourishing country became filled with corpse-stinking air and littered
rotting ruins hither and yon, until the time is upon us, until Our
judgment is fulfilled. My story started here, in this small castle by
Danube exactly a year ago, and how, as the king’s vassal I came to be
not, rather sharing the bitter bread of exile with my master, is all
in the history of events recounted below…"
into a story that attracts in two ways: though strong characters, and a
are there' series of atmospheric descriptions that capture the sights,
smells, and times: "The mounted
regiments, the heavy cavalry of the Knights Templar and Hospitaller
the king`s own heavy cavalry and also the county`s light cavalry
camped on the left of the road leading to the city. The private
soldiers of the
aristocrats erected their tents to the right. There was an empty
tram-pled flat and fenced in with barriers constructed by the squires,
their lords were passing the time jousting and practising dragoon
metallic clattering was constant, blade on blade, on shield, on armour."
underestimation of the power of the king and the determination of the
Hungarians to choose their own leader and destiny to the close
historical detail unparalleled in other stories of the times (according
author Tibor Gergely: "About two-thirds of the events
described in the novel actually happened. About 70% of the characters
novel were real people. The novel also features details from original,
contemporary documents that fit perfectly into the story."),
this story is powerfully rendered. It will simply delight both
newcomers and seasoned readers familiar with the times, who well know
gap in literature surrounding this important, little-covered era
Gergely: "So far no novels or films
have been made about the events of the Mongol invasion in Hungary.").
The close attention to
historical detail alone
would have made this historical novel exceptional; but its ability to
those less familiar with the history blends accessibility with flair
that exquisitely captures the pathos, conflict, and tortuous social and
political changes that were the legacies of an invasion that almost
It's rare to find such a blend of scholarly detail spiced with compelling fictional proficiency. Tatar Storm is a standout in many ways, and deserves a place as a foundation piece in any historical fiction library, and on the shelves of readers who may or may not have a prior background or interest in medieval European history.Tatar Storm
Return to Index
Every Page a
Turning: One Life's Journey presents the transformative
of a seventy-seven-year-old narrator who reflects back on his life and
conflicts as he cleans out the memories of his past.
It is Florida, 2019. He is
prompted to undertake a
sentimental journey through the decades when he stumbles upon scribbled
in a file. These bring him back to Vietnam, to a world of steamy
jungles, an eighteen-year-old
boy thrust into the work of military men, and a survival process which
in a long-term emotional cost: "...the
tears were buried deep within him, so deep he wondered if he could ever
feel again, or just go on pretending."
Religious beliefs and
sentiments aside, this young man
has developed coping mechanisms for war that continue to influence his
choices and attitudes during peacetime: "He
wondered, “Does anyone really know me? Can anyone see me below the
I alone in a world full of strangers?”
Somehow, he had always been a stranger, on the edge, waiting, judging,
watching, appearing to be on the inside smiling, joking, but that was
the mask for show. And once again he asked, “Is this the day, Lord?”
As the story moves from
war-torn jungles to his marriage
to Mary and his involvement in a twelve-step group, he learns new ways
engaging with a world he'd purposely disengaged from in order to
process is engrossingly described, and readers receive inspections of
various means by which he confronts his past and present: "Sunday evening, he sat in the silence of his room,
pen in hand,
writing a letter to his late father and mother, finally able to speak
to them without condemnation and with acceptance."
Every Page a
Turning is a captivating novel of recovery and reflection
especially reach readers who have their own wartime and military
consider. Its journey of growth also reflects America's changing ideals
experiences as seen through the eyes of a young man who moves beyond
tactics to adopt a new vision of the world and his place in it as an
These evolving social issues change his life completely, bringing him
circle to share his strengths, his weaknesses, and his joys in a new
comes full circle.
different take on the long-term aftermath of the
Vietnam War will involve and interest readers with a special interest
lifetime of coming to terms with the past.
Return to Index
978-0988562004 $12.00 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
the presence and influence of angels in everyday life will find the
in the Mystic Bay series, Town of Angels,
an uplifting study in positivity. It blends a mystery with the story of
angel who takes on a bully in a small town where angels live as humans.
The town is
with psychics and ordinary people. All live a bucolic life until bully
Waxman comes to town and tries to change its psyche.
ignore his negativity and typecasting; especially when he opens a store
mocks the angel sightings the town knows to be true.
It's up to
to lead the charge to thwart Klaus's influence.
As much as
this is a
story of angels and psychics, it's also a story of small-town life
an outsider bully's influence and approach, providing lessons not just
spiritual nature, but on how to confront bullying and prejudice with a
perspective on life.
different points of view present dilemmas from a number of angles,
in more than a cursory examination of clashing belief systems.
for enjoyment of this story is the ability to read about the presence
and their guidance of human affairs.
Those who welcome the thought, appearance, and approaches of angels in everyday life will relish the positive notes, mystery, and problem-solving attitudes of angel and human alike in this gentle story of kindness, hope, belief, and resolving differences.Town of Angels
Return to Index
Two Boys at
Two Boys at Breakwater is set in the late
1950s to mid-1960s and
follows the lives and connections between two New York inner city
Prince, the son of a racketeer, and Dean Teranova, the son of a conman.
a ten-year-old who is arrested for murder. In the next chapter, father
Prince is walking away from his son not knowing if he will be murdered.
“The crime…is life itself.” It's an adage that drives fathers, sons,
relationships as the Bronx and its culture and crime come alive for
one might expect the usual story of two boys who come together to
create a life
of crime, but Two Boys at Breakwater
offers much more, delving into a search for a gangster who has been
ten years, punished for the one good deed he's done in his life.
As the world
associations, friendships, politics, and 1960s street culture comes to
the account becomes a gripping coming-of-age story which employs more
language and description than the usual mafia tale to bring the
culture, and times to life: "Dean
knew this was the full dose of no good. It was like every nothing
Spofford where guys stumblefucked over their own dicks in the race to
they were fools."
ability to guide the English language in a unique manner that both
and captures the New York community milieu creates an atmosphere that
compelling and often unexpected as the boys struggle with themselves,
heritage, and each other. Teran's language is crisp, original, and
throughout: "They might have gotten
into it. Dean knew Guy was suffering and it was a dirty wound because
the son, fighting for a father he had not seen in a decade and now knew
wasn’t dead. Here was the son playing the paladin, waiting on word
would he see
As issues of
ruthlessness, protection, love, and redemption come into play, the two
develop disparate yet connected lives and concerns that provide
probabilities, futures, and alternatives.
Two Boys at Breakwater is no West Side
Story. In its exploration of
a different kind of love between two young men on the cusp of change,
creates a compelling search and saga that is cemented by strong
characterization, a sense of place, and an evolving purpose that
fiction or coming of age stories who anticipate the usual progression
transformative events will find Two Boys
at Breakwater is a horse of another color...vivid,
surprising, gritty, and
filled with accounts of crime and lessons about life...and death.
recommended reading for anyone seeking a story of two souls who
uncertainties of a dangerous urban world and their own hearts.
Return to Index
D. X. Varos, Ltd.
978-1-941072-950 $18.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
The Weary God of Ancient Travelers
presents the dilemma of amnesiac
Lydia Warren, who struggles to regain her identity and life, then moves
a different scenario as she experiences life in Greece with a man she
quite recall and tries to reconcile this world with a past which is
brings Greece alive from the start in an introductory paragraph that is
compelling, evocative, and filled with the promise of a good mystery: "I remember how it tasted. It was pasta
that reminded me of past lives, where I wore a different face, slipped
another skin. It was the taste of white wine and garlic, the slight
salt coming off the Aegean. It’s the sea itself, how blue it is. Then
wasn’t it Proust who said that taste and smell are directly connected
memory? He ate a cookie once that he hadn’t had since his childhood,
goes, and memories of being a little boy came flooding back. Then he
Remembrance of Things Past. They call it the madeline memory. But it’s
this life, one past, that we’re connected to. Sitting at a restaurant
out at the sea, I could taste it in the pasta, the white wine and
current life is overlaid by a past she can't quite recall. The
not only what that life was and what happened to it, but at what points
personas intersect, and how to rebuild it from a blend of new and old
the UN arrives at her door, Lydia begins to discover that her
this world may not be as straightforward as the accident that caused
loss and thwarts her recovery. She may be involved in something that
not just present-day experiences, but past lives: "I
see spies and enemy planes, secret agents, trench coats and
fedora hats. Was I a spy in my life as Olivia? Did I perish undercover
after World War II? Is this what she’s hiding, the secret in Europe she
reveal not to me or to herself?"
intrigue powers a story spiced with psychological inspection and
she finds out about threats to people who were her family and her role
events through a third party agent, Lydia and Agent Rynsburger uncover
that much more is going on than a simple memory loss. Are her past life
memories real? If not, why do they fill in so many blanks about the
surrounding her identity don't make sense. The facts surrounding a
death do not
add up. And Lydia's commitment to uncovering the truth about her past
possible other lives leads her to place trust in another's ability to
investigate, even though he might not prove to be acting on her best
The motive for her choices is especially well portrayed: "There
is a comfort in his expertise and I want to push him to know the truth
I cannot remember it. I want him to piece this together ever so
The blend of
mystery, the compelling-almost visceral-descriptions of Greece, and the
psychological self-inspection all work together to create an absolutely
compelling piece worthy of high recommendation.
Who is Lydia
in all this? The answer will rock not only her world, but many readers.
Return to Index
Top Hat Books/John Hunt Publishing
9781789044607 $18.95 Paper/$7.19 Kindle
Where Madness Lies moves between 1934
Germany and the USA in 1984
as it weaves connections between the Holocaust and its lingering impact
world. It is especially recommended for readers who might wonder at the
for reinforcing Holocaust history in modern times, and considers the
legacy of repression and genocide on surviving generations.
It should be
that this is the fictionalized story of Sylvia True's grandmother's
has embellished somewhat for the sake of crafting a captivating
admitting that while some details are how she imagines them, "the bones of the story are true."
This realistic feel is part of what makes Where
Madness Lies so compelling; but another satisfying reason for
is that no singular point of view is the lone capturer of these events.
The story opens with
a Q&A session in 1947 Germany with Dr.
Paul Viktor Bohm—Medical Director of Sonnenstein Psychiatric Hospital
Deputy Director of Action T4. The discussion of 'mercy murders' and why
professional physician would willingly become involved in gas chamber
of his fellow ordinary countrymen makes for a powerful introduction,
moral and ethical examinations from the start: "Q:
And you agreed to this because of orders from Bouhler? A: I
agreed to it because we were releasing patients from lives of misery."
As events move back and
forth in time and between
different characters, True is careful to include these changing dates
chapter heading so readers experience no confusion about past and
From the well-known methods
of oppression which overtake
Germany to the specter of mental illness and how it is handled over the
decades, True crafts an involving story of the changing world and how
ill patients and people become especially threatened: “I
am only thinking that because of the times we live in, I find some
of the methods used at the hospital, to be blunt—barbaric.”
As these different eras fall
under True's close
inspection, readers receive a discussion that examines concepts of
civil rights, repression, and the lasting impact of social and
changes on generations to come.
It was more than a time of
embraced the effort to use women's mental health against them as one of
many means of controlling the population and altering their perceptions
right and wrong.
This detailed examination of
how a horrifying concept
became part of the mainstream acceptance of Nazi contentions forms the
of a story firmly rooted in family experience and struggle.
Any reader of Holocaust
history who thinks they already
have likely received enough of the typically familiar focus on events
think again—and choose Where Madness Lies. It represents a
powerful survey of control, transformative social experiments, and the
struggles the Nazi paradigm brought to ordinary Germans; and it traces
repercussions into today's world, with chilling food for thought.
Return to Index
You Might Feel a Little Prick injects
satirical examination into a
medical thriller format to provide readers with an unusual blend of
sentence, it's evident that the story is filled with startling
that are compellingly original in their representation: "The
keening wind blowing off Lake Erie weaponized the snow,
turned it horizontal—a Christmas Eve more appropriate for balaclavas or
than reindeer sweaters. Or better yet, to stay inside. Unless inside
Cleveland Mercy Hospital; then all bets were off."
Julie were high school sweethearts who both worked for the
company, EZ Care. They find themselves unexpectedly in trouble in
ways, threatened by the health system they once believed in. Nick has
accident that results in a series of botched procedures that he comes
believe are benefiting his employer, while Julie is framed by her
supervisor for the loss of a patient and is fired.
forces to seek justice—and that's where You
Might Feel a Little Prick becomes complicated and especially
Questions of moral and ethical judgment—and actions on all sides --
too-savvy police detective who connects the dots of their actions and
closing in—combined with a range of obstacles, from dangerous doctors
corporate shenanigans and threats, to complete a romp through the pages
are hilariously depicted: "...according
to the AMA, you’re not licensed to practice anywhere in the United
“You lie!” said Demidova. “Dr. Trout arrange all my licenses!
Everything is in
order!” “Then I’d say killing him was a helluva of a way to say
and aahs from the crowd as Demidova wailed, “Akhineya!
How could I kill the man I love?” Demidova’s white-hot
glare would have made the sun cower, had it been out. “Save it for the
Doc,” said Sikorski. “Along
with the reason your fingerprints were all over his French doors to
ask me to open!” That begat woofing from the bystanders, who’d taken on
singularity of a reality show audience."
unexpected, whether it's in interpersonal interactions, special
changing points of view, or images of perps and police alike: "Detective Debs, with flaming red hair
and freckles that scrunched up like a colony of fire ants when she was
real hard, was alright."
language, and progression of You Might Feel
a Little Prick are simply outstanding. The story will
especially appeal, as
a spoof, to medical thriller readers who will recognize many
comments on more serious medical thriller components.
transformations as Julie turns away from the person Nick loved and
find her way back on the path home to issues of medical system special
interests, along with a serving of revenge and redemption, You Might Feel a Little Prick is
delightful in its dilemmas. It will
intrigue a wide audience, from medical thriller fans (who receive
very different with the added value of satirical inspection) to those
black humor, corporate shenanigans, and stories of idealistic
Return to Index
#ImpactMyLife: Being the
Being the Change charges readers to spread kindness around
the world by
making a difference in small ways. It is especially recommended reading
call to action) for those who feel they can't really impact the world
Its choice of using memoir
rather than admonition creates
a concrete link between desire, action, and impact, setting the stage
intersection of all three right from the start: "The
purpose behind this book is to create a transformation in the
way each person impacts another’s life, which in turn positively
life. This book is for anyone who has contemplated the thought, I want to make a difference, or, I wish I could do something more. I
am one of those people."
By publishing this treatise,
Eric Godwin actually lives
up to the letter of change in his own words by reinforcing that
be offset by constructive and purposeful efforts to engage with the
causing it to adopt a different course.
His is a blend of memoir,
blank page journal, and
action-encouraging admonition that provides a game plan for healing and
empowerment. Weekly tasks are quite simple to achieve: "Your
task this week: go to any grocery store and purchase five
dollars’ worth of non-perishable goods and donate them to the local
school, church, et cetera. You can do more than five dollars, if you
is an essential item for life, so the bigger the impact, the better!"
just focus on individual action and effects, however, but broadens its
and approach to embrace community-changing efforts: "After
this week, you will have made an impact on yours and
others’ lives for a month! There is an old saying, “When you are green,
growing.” This week, let’s impact the environment in a positive way."
As the weeks unfold, tasks
and notes lead to bigger and
bigger jobs, such as mentoring another, adopting a highway or community
care for, or baking a cake to donate to a worthy community-supporting
For example: "Bake a cake for your
local soil and water conservation office. The soil and water
service provides numerous resources for your business, home, or
help you understand soil conservation techniques, water quality
youth education programs."
The result is highly
recommended for readers who want to
help, but are stuck in routines and approaches that thwart meaningful
Anyone prepared to not just
lip sync the idea but do the
service work will welcome this firmly-grounded approach to changing
the better through small efforts and volunteer work that can be easily
Kindness starts with home and heart, and with a blueprint for action.
of actions specifically outlined here.
Return to Index
The 48 Laws
Dr. Rob Carpenter
Happiness: Secrets Revealed for Becoming the Happiest You teaches
the rudiments of self-actualization and positivity
through a survey that identifies the common thought processes of happy
showing how these can be adopted by anyone.
well and good to
propose positive thinking, but quite another thing to understand the
and processes which prompt and support such reactions to daily living.
Carpenter's focus on
these nuts and bolts covers the process of loving oneself, then moving
self-love into the world at large. Chapters cover common pitfalls along
way, consider statistics that indicate that too many people are failing
adopt lifestyles and attitudes that support life-enriching choices, and
the stories of others who have tapped negativity to create
experiences. This book thus goes far in not just illustrating the
example is Myles, whose
devastating grief over the loss of his mother seemed insurmountable.
discussion of how he moved through the grief period to better times is
specific: "This acceptance of my
mother’s death and adaptation into inner strength which I created from
been a key element of my being for my entire adult life. I am grateful
mom’s foresight that allowed me to turn a tragic event into a
with the careful choice of words and values which she instilled in me."
This is just
one small example
of the many avenues Dr. Carpenter illustrates as concrete courses
a better attitude and life.
Tips run the
emotional reflection to choosing clothing that radiates positivity (oh,
think clothing shouldn't matter? Consider this reflection: "The
colors of our
clothing carry symbolic and psychological meaning. In fact, our
trigger chemicals in our brains so we can dress ourselves happier.").
is a wide-ranging
consideration of psychological influence, social issues, and the impact
choice and attitude on the concept and realization of happiness.
pursuit of happiness
who has felt at odds with the effort will find footnote-supported
case histories, and plenty of solid advice in The
48 Laws of Happiness. Together, these elements set this book
apart from most similar-sounding discussions.
Return to Index
The Algorithm of
Kenneth A Macfarlane
978-0-578-71689-3 $9.95 Paper/$1.99 Kindle
Consciousness presents essays that link mathematics to
spirituality, consciousness, and philosophy. It is recommended reading
those who seek reasoned inspections of the process of becoming
Readers who consider
inspections of the Divine to be part
of this process will embrace the tenants of these essays and the
purpose of this book: "If you commit
to considering this book's contents with an open mind, I can assure you
you will emerge with a new inner feeling of self-worth. You will begin
embrace patience and a sense of peace—the peace arises from knowing
are not alone."
Its inspections will
particularly be welcomed by those
who like mixes of spirituality, philosophy, and autobiography as
Macfarlane considers how family dynamics and dysfunction contributed to
building a set of values and approach to life that then shifted over
His personal inspection ties
in well with the lessons he
learned from life experience. This blend of candid self-assessment and
spiritual evolution will help readers face their own transitions and
points in life: "My storyline says I
am always accurate and speak from a truthful place! Not true! So, when
with the accusation, my suppressed denial had been called out, despite
fact, in this example, I was in a “cry wolf” situation."
It should be mentioned that
these essays provide a
progressive journey into spiritual realms some readers will find
unexpected: "The role the planets, as
beings, have in the development of matter and consciousness is
concede there is truth buried in the lore of Astrology. Until now, I
imagined that planets within a given system worked as a community to
the desires of the Divine."
Its progressive logic and
discussions will especially
delight those who look for a blend of ethereal reflection cemented by
experience and influence.
An open mind and heart is
thus required, as well as an
affinity for expansive spiritual concepts. This examination of the
plan and incarnations, and its purpose is especially recommended for
already embarking on a path of self-awareness and spiritual reflection.
The Algorithm of Consciousness
fine synthesis of memoir and life examination, adding a spiritual
provides much food for thought.
Return to Index
Christina Singh, Ed.D
Parents...Lessons from Your Child's Teacher: The Parent and Teacher
Creating a Better Bond comes from a parent and teacher who
was motivated to
write this discourse due to recent challenges to parent/teacher
and experiences inside and outside the classroom.
This relationship, once
supported by both sides, has
become dysfunctional and broken in modern times. Parents and teachers
seen as being on opposite sides of the fence, when their real
be shared and supported.
Author Christina Singh
taught in both Brooklyn, New York and
in North Carolina. The diversity of her classrooms and experiences with
created a unique opportunity to address the modern disconnect between
Singh seeks to re-establish
these connections by
reminding readers what parents and teachers have in common. One might
this is self-explanatory, but Singh points out the forces at work in
modern disconnections between parents and teachers, while placing blame
neither. "The problem is not the
teachers; the problem is not the students; and the problem is not the
The problem is that everyone is living on their own island without
the others’ perspectives. This is where I come in. I’ve been a parent,
been a teacher. In today’s society, both parenting and the education
under attack. Every day, the news and social media of all kinds is
negative stories of teachers, bus drivers, or schools and, sometimes,
the above in one news segment."
Her consideration of the
psyches, teaching methods, and
social environments of schools and homes and how they intersect offers
analysis of many different scenarios and issues arising from them: "Some of the most outstanding teachers
are structured, well-organized, and no-nonsense. There is a fine line
this individual—insert teacher name who comes to mind here—and the
teacher who sits behind the desk, never budging an inch even in the
of circumstances. I will interject these thoughts: The purpose of
school is to
learn, and it is challenging to be a student, parent, or teacher in
Please do not mix a structured teacher who pushes your child to the
potential with a teacher overdue on retirement."
From methodologies that
foster positive bonds between
teachers and parents to her own experiences as a teacher that taught
turn, how to best tap the strength of parental connections to reinforce
her approach and the student's learning opportunities, Dear
Parents aims to rebuild these broken ties for a stronger
educational and parent-supported result.
Parents who have felt
frustration over their local school
systems and individual teachers, as well as teachers who have felt the
toward parents, would do well to consult the examples, routines, and
advice of Dear Parents. It won't
Return to Index
Language of Coincidence
The Divine Language
of Coincidence: How
Miracles Transformed My Life After
I Began Paying Attention charts the course of a spiritual
process that began at age 19.
blessed with good fortune, Sophia Demas learned to trust her instincts
that, in so doing, more good things fell into her lap. As she absorbed
choices and perceptions that built on this success, she became more
their spiritual roots: "The graces I received through
synchronicities and serendipities began to seem more intentional. I
calling them “miracles.” Along with love, faith was a word I had heard
mother use forever, and I wondered what it meant. When I finally
realm, I knew. I had become a believer and attributed these mysteries
most books about faith, Demas has the ability to get to the
different perceptions and how to make the most of them: "If
from the perspective of wishful thinking, you would most likely find
befuddled by these seemingly disconnected chance events and, chalking
to coincidence, proceed to buckle your seatbelt in silence as you
wish for help in making the right decision. At the second level,
the perspective of hope, you become aware of the triple whammy
“something meant to be” and wonder if you should give in to the “gut
telling you to strike up a conversation, hoping that you might glean
helpful information. Operating from the perspective of faith, the third
you wouldn’t hesitate for a second knowing that this man was put next
for a reason, and you would find the first opportunity to engage in
conversation that will yield the clarity you need to resolve your
incorporate research into prayer, meditation, and attitude as they
foundations of each and how they intersect to create a divine approach
spiritual reflection or philosophical contemplation alone, Demas
memoir about her own life's course and the miracles, coincidences, and
attitudes that continue to drive its progression. Her personal
reflections on changing social and economic climates around her, and
expressing gratitude and using the Course in Miracles
program to change
fear to love makes for engrossing reading not just for its ideas, but
insights into how they are enacted in everyday life situations.
readers looking for a road map to making some of these transitions and
realizations themselves will find that The Divine Language of
charts the results of a simple determination to pay better attention to
series of revelations that enlighten, educate, and inspire, and should
the shelves of any new age or spirituality collection.
Return to Index
Jacquelyn H. Berry, Ph.D.
Find Your Carrot comes from a Fulbright scholar and cognitive
scientist who studies
human/computer interaction and authenticity. In it, she asks a succinct
hard-hitting question: are those motivated to succeed chasing the
running from the stick? Do the foundations of success hold their roots
questions drive a self-help psychology examination that excels in
goal-oriented behavior sources and how to not just gain heart's
identify and separate them from influences that deviate from the
This process involves refining and honing goals ("The price for taking up space on this planet is doing something only you were meant to do and helping others in the process."), identifying struggles and their deeper meaning ("Struggling with how to do something is normal. But make sure it’s the how you’re struggling with and not the why."), and finding a better level of focus, surrounding oneself with those who share that same objective ("The people you surround yourself with should reflect who you want to be.").
these messages aren't new concepts, what is new is
under one cover under the uniform goal of creating a transformative
that develops new support systems, replacing old patterns and
self with revised, more purposeful visions of the future.
than just a
formula for success, Find Your Carrot gets down to
the nitty gritty of
identifying unique personal goals and cognitive avenues that free
to strike while the iron is hot, tapping into one's personal power to
and recreate an authentic self.
the nuts and
bolts of that process are here. Motivated self-help readers will find
insights to guide them on the path to authenticity, helping them
achieve ideal outcomes with an ultimate "carrot" or goal in mind.
collections and readers already on that path will want to make Find
Carrot a foundation read. It covers a process author
Jacquelyn H. Berry has
successfully employed herself, to get to where she is today.
Return to Index
Amy Newman Shapiro, RDN, CDN, CPT
978-0-9886071-2-5 $14.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
The Great Weight Debate: Get the Facts and Choose
the Diet That’s Right
For You explores the rationales behind the myriad of popular
plans and premises on the market today.
books designed to promote a particular avenue towards success, Amy
Shapiro's guide contrasts the latest research, theories, and
what kind of diet promotes weight loss. Her approach offers a
knowledge of contrasting scientific and health approaches to managing
giving readers the opportunity to debate and contrast all the facts.
popular, well-known ones to those equally effective but less familiar.
Individual health and genomic profiles are as great an influence on a
success as the science behind each method. This explains why various
for some and not others, and also supports the importance of
what's involved in a diet's ultimate success, which goes beyond
to delve into individual bodily makeup.
her discussion, readers receive important facts about weight control
probe overall gut health (how to maintain, preserve, or restore it),
connections between diet and exercise, how to handle plateaus, and how
understand the difference between a fad diet and a lifestyle change.
The Great Weight Debate is the perfect
book for readers interested
in weight loss who question the approaches and need for different
survey of the principles and research behind each diet allows for a
contrast unavailable in books that focus on the process itself. Its
of the latest trends and research assures that weight loss enthusiasts
the facts at hand to make reasoned decisions about how they can best
health collection should be without this simple discussion of weight
risks, benefits, and options.
Return to Index
Healing Ourselves Whole
Emily A. Francis
Health Communications, Inc.
978-0-7573-2377-5 $15.95 Paper/$11.99 ebook
Whole: An Interactive Guide to Release Pain and Trauma by Utilizing the
of the Body comes from a motivational body worker who
and new age readers with a powerful survey of how to use the body's
healing systems to release pain and trauma.
Emily A. Francis is a
wellness expert with much
educational prowess to her name. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in
Science and Wellness as well as a Master’s of Science in Physical
graduated from the Atlanta School of Massage in clinical and
massage therapy, and went on to specialize (through the Dr. Vodder
America) in manual lymphatic drainage and combined decongestive
age health readers will be particularly interested in the fact that she
a Usui and Karuna Ki Reiki master-level practitioner.
This extensive background,
combined with her expertise as
a speaker who hosts a regular internet radio show (All
About Healing, on
Healthy Life Radio), contributes to an authoritative guide on healing
other authors can match.
Her book teaches how to pair
affirmations with exercises,
deep meditation techniques, and various therapeutic approaches to
positivity and healing-promoting measures.
Audio and written
meditations link to her exercise
instructions to provide dialogues designed to regain connections with
communication between mental and physical bodily systems.
Between journaling, audio
meditations, and supporting
science, Healing Ourselves Whole offers
a fine opportunity for identifying poisons to body and soul and how to
from them. It's a self-help workbook recommended for new age and
readers who would use the power of meditation and healing to foster
revised, positive paths to complete body and mental health.
Return to Index
It's Not the Trauma, It's
Marjorie Leigh Bomben
979-8706984625 $14.98 paper/$11.99 Kindle
Chicago has one of the
busiest ambulance services in the
country. Its murder rate is high, its population dense, and its
used to facing extraordinary situations. It's
Not the Trauma, It's the Drama: More Stories by a Chicago Fire
Paramedic captures Marjorie Leigh Bomben's experiences in
vivid detail for
lay readers and fellow medical professionals alike.
Each Chicago neighborhood
has its own story, its own
cultural milieu, and its own predictable problems. Take Ambulance 39,
the "geriatric ambulance," located in a quiet neighborhood of rest
homes and assisted living establishments. Here, the average patient is
eighty years old, there are few surprises, and often the EMT is called
service the Slipper Ladies...elderly 911 callers whose complaints tend
less true emergencies as the result of loneliness and isolation.
These ladies insist on going
to the hospital even when
nothing is apparently wrong...but before they get there, they'll have
the paramedics to bring them the right coat from the closet, sort
articles of clothing for just the right ensemble for leaving home,
of horrors—choose just the right slippers from a plethora of
How do you make the most
serene, unshakeable paramedic in
history experience a momentary flash of anger? Assign him to a Slipper
This hilarious story is a
surprise opener to a collection
that juxtaposes life-threatening, dangerous scenarios with those that
plain ironic, unbelievable, or taxing for all involved.
Readers who anticipated high
drama and edge-of-your-seat
reading won't be disappointed, but that's not all that goes on in the
life of a
typical fire department paramedic, as Marjorie Leigh Bomben reveals in
From a dangerous
confrontation with a schizophrenic
family member who refuses to take her meds to interactions between
chiefs, medics, police, and other officials as calls are handled,
not just a series of lively stories and surprising situations, but
into how this public service is handled politically, socially, and
professionally at all levels of the chain of command.
Readers who may know little
about what a fire department
paramedic actually does will want to hold onto their hats for a wild
through diverse challenges, while fellow professionals who well know
these routines will find much to relish as the creativity and response
of teams are put to the test.
The unexpected lighthearted
dash added into a sobering
subject will delight general-interest readers in a collection of real
of lifesavers who face a myriad of scenarios that demand they respond
with professional expertise, but psychological flexibility, creativity,
These stories make perfect
reading for those who want a
blend of action and reflection on interpersonal relationships and
difficult people and situations with finesse.
Return to Index
J. Byrne Murphy
978-1-4930-6068-9 $19.95 Paper/$7.59 ebook
Author Bryne Murphy was a
successful entrepreneur at a
young age, cultivating the finer art of the deal long before the term
business buzzword. Le Deal: How a Young
American, in Business, In Love, and in Over His Head, Kick-Started a
Multibillion-Dollar Industry in Europe follows his sojourn
European retail clothing trade in a business book that reads with all
and action of a novel. Because of Murphy's approach to the written
readers who normally eschew business lesson nonfiction memoirs will
If this title sounds
familiar, it should be noted that
this is a republication of an earlier book, retailored for new
business readers and for future generations who have moved beyond the
book's Baby Boomer paradigm.
about the fine art of identifying and making the next step in a series
building blocks of business acuity. This reformatted exploration
this process and the pattern recognition associated with it as Murphy
the cognitive approaches that lead to new, successful outcomes and
Unlike traditional models
about building business
success, every venture is different. Murphy found this out when he
foreign world of European business circles, explored the start-and-stop
and political underpinnings of entering a strange new world with
valid to build upon and share, and honed a success story during the
restructuring his vision.
The intersection of human
connections and interactions
and commerce makes for an engrossing read that contrasts American and
retailing approaches as a whole, as well as the paths Murphy traveled
realize his success in both milieus.
From product life cycles to
basic concepts involved in moving
from and between American and European export and import markets,
readers receive a lively survey based not just on facts and figures,
course of Murphy's life and decision-making processes.
As high adventure, high
risk, and high hopes lead Murphy
and his cohorts continually into new arenas and revised observations of
branding processes, the British buying public, and new markets, readers
fascinated by the recreation of dialogue between all levels of business
The rise of hopes and new expectations, the realities of roadblocks,
unexpected disasters sometimes hold their roots in cultural
differences: "Byrne," Marie-France responded
calmly and with confidence, "this is normal. In France, it is always
way before an opening." "Well, not in America," I barked. I had
never been harsh with Marie-France, and she didn't deserve it even
all I could think of was the train wreck that was about to happen the
as hoards of shoppers (we hoped) descended upon twenty-nine stores that
be nowhere ready for them."
and lively enough to be chosen
for leisure pursuit by business readers, Le
Deal defies the usually-staid process-oriented approach of
business book. It holds the potential to reach beyond its genre borders
general-interest audiences who simply relish a good read, strong
and engrossing stories that lead to better insights about the process
Return to Index
the Bells and Beads
9781119750765 $25.00 Hardcover
these days) a book title strikes the reader with such promise that it
compelling attraction without even turning the first page. This is an
most authors strive for; but very few achieve.
Clif Smith has
accomplished this with the title of his book, Mindfulness
Without the Bells and Beads, which promises a more
pragmatic approach to the new age concept of mindfulness and its
to daily life. He then reinforces his excellent book's appeal to
with a clarifying subtitle: Unlocking
Leadership, and Well-being for Working Professionals.
With the subject firmly
rooted in both new age and
business worlds, Smith's next task is to live up to his title's
is more than achieved in a survey that adopts a reasoned series of
of mindfulness to business theory and routines, grounding it in a
most new age and psychology titles don't begin to touch.
Take the meditation process
which is one of the
foundations of mindfulness training, for example. Smith points out that
"Although many mindfulness teachers and
practitioners are attached to the things on the following list and
you probably associate with meditation, you do not need any of them to
authentically practice and reap the benefits of mindfulness.
of these will make you “better” at cultivating mindfulness."
includes bells, beads, special meditation equipment, a trip to India,
statues of Hindu deities, and other approaches which assume a
humor about the typical things some will identify as requirements for
successful meditation and mindfulness development.
He does note that, for some, these rituals or objects can be useful; but points out that they are not the requirements many claim are essential to the practice: "These things are like pearls, quite beautiful in some respects and wearing them helps people project a certain image to others, which is extremely important to many. However, that outer sparkle distracts from the true core without which there would be no pearl. With mindfulness, far too many get ensnared by and attached to the outer shell, the pretty accessories that project they are mindful people, and completely miss the true essence...The bottom line is that you don’t need to add any of these things to your life to practice mindfulness effectively, and in fact getting attached to them can be a real hindrance to your practice."
Mindfulness Without the Bells and Beads'
will prove particularly inviting to the audience who may need this
most: business professionals who typically eschew any mention of
new age concepts as being relevant to better approaches to both
meditation typically involve an especially big shift for
personalities. Smith makes his book accessible to this audience by
common criticisms and barriers to achieving mindfulness. In many ways,
practice might seem to counter common business sense. Smith
in sections such as that on 'Shifting
from Doing to Non-Doing, aka Being', pulling no punches as he confronts
perception, reality, and the challenge of making such shifts: "It may seem strange to talk about
shifting from a doing mode to a non-doing or being mode in a book that
to unlock exceptional performance, leadership, and well-being. You’ve
where you are in your career and life by getting things done and
problems! Why would you stop now? It’s not about stopping; it’s about
Perhaps Smith is ideally
suited to write such a book
because his own career has been firmly grounded in pragmatic
approaches. He's a
US Army veteran, a former diplomat, a
CIA-trained former intelligence officer, serves as EY's
Mindfulness Leader and Global Mindfulness Network Leader, and teaches
to tens of thousands of corporate and government leaders across the
intrinsic part of what sets Mindfulness
Without the Bells and Beads apart from any other book on the
promise in the title is to reach into business minds and hearts not
attracted to such a practice. This audience holds the best potential
mindful practice to a new level and applying it to business pursuits
maximum impact while preserving its positive impact on personal
have a book that speaks their language...one especially highly
business readers and library collections catering to them.
Return to Index
Nursing Home 101
Home 101: A
Daughter's Perspective deserves a place in self-help, health,
living collections. It documents a family's uncertain journey through
of nursing homes when a social worker gave two daughters less than 24
locate a nursing home facility for their elderly mother.
Thrust into the challenges
of a long-term care world they
were ill prepared to handle, Ruthie and her sister learned the hard way
myriad of issues, from dental care and dealing with staff to insurance,
paperwork, and rules and regulations.
If she's done nothing else
by providing this journal
record of the journey, Ruthie Rosauer successfully documents a path of
and possibilities that offer a blueprint for other families facing
Choosing a good nursing home
is just the tip of the
decision-making iceberg. Even when an elderly person is properly
are a myriad of care issues that family members need to address and
from the daily routines of care to dealing with staff members and
visiting, and considering little things, such as the challenge of
glasses that work when the patient can't properly handle a vision test.
Journal entries provide both
an easy way of understanding
these issues and document the daily frustrations and challenges, as
solutions found by employing creative problem-solving methods. The
prove more accessible to readers than most books about nursing home
Heartfelt insights help
readers understand their revised
role in a loved one's life when they enter a nursing home: "I reflected on that day, thinking how being
present to ask her
these questions was a luxury probably enjoyed by no one else in her
home. I was acting as an amateur therapist, asking her to consider her
and dreams. I was willing to listen to what went on in her mind. The
home tried to keep residents clean, out of bed, dressed each day, fed,
and protected from falls. Staff would say a few words, but no one
to the residents’ hearts. I was, and still am, so grateful I was there
mom to do that."
Anyone facing the challenges
of not just locating but
dealing with a nursing home needs Nursing
Return to Index
The Top Five
to Consider Before Filing
An Employee Relations Complaint
9781642984804 $11.95 Paper/$9.95 ebook
The Top Five Things to Consider before Filing an
Complaint: And How to File an Effective Complaint is as
reference as one's employee manual, providing insights for employees at
levels of business. Its review of company policies, the complaint
to assess the pros and cons of a dilemma for best resolution, and
notes about investigators who look into a complaint should be
knowledge for any American worker.
Ideally, The Top Five Things to Consider before
Filing an Employee Relations Complaint will be taught in
for new adults just entering the workplace. It provides concrete
more general books directed to this audience fail to mention and it
strategies, typical courses of action (and inaction), and includes
psychological insights into common causes for complaints.
bullying in the
workplace and tips on conflict resolution to things to consider before
employee complaint is filed, this slim but accessible manual helps
avoid many common pitfalls and lends to understanding how the complaint
works on both sides.
with details, The Top Five Things to
Consider before Filing an Employee Relations Complaint is an
worker's guide that should be a staple in any business book collection
worker's reference library.
An Employee Relations Complaint
Return to Index
City Hall: What Happened When A Stand-Up Comedian Got Elected Mayor is
based on the true story of a stand-up comedian who was elected to
office. It comes from an author who was an active participate in the
community when he decided to help that same community by running for
The Introduction comes with
a caveat warning of a slow
buildup in the comedy arena as Nunes sets his stage for readers: "Like my mayoral career and any good
comedic story, this book first takes a little time to lay the
the story builds, so does the humor. In my biased opinion, once you
the basic details of the story, you’ll really settle into the laughter
as you continue through the pages.
What follows can be best
described as a romp through
political and social conundrums as Nunes offers the first revelation:
he ran for office, he never intended on taking up the reins. Indeed,
persona dominated his ticket: "I ran
for office as a joke. I registered my name on the ballot as “Comedian
Nunes.” Then, I distributed fliers with my campaign slogan: “Put a Real
You'd think the community
would get a general laugh out of
such a campaign, and then turn over the keys to the city to a seasoned
politician. The fact that they went for the punch line hook, line, and
only goes to show that a breath of fresh air is preferable over staid
approaches to holding public office, these days, at all levels.
Nunes first won a seat on
the council, virtually
uncontested. His bid for Mayor resulted in a win...and then began his
surprises as he settled into the job of running a town where
characters can be observed egging a house in the night, yet still can't
confronted: "Sure enough, they had
egged the house. We called the police, yet again, and filed a report.
again, the police said that just because we say we saw the Greens do
didn’t mean they could do anything about it. We had to prove it, or all
police could do was talk to them. Yet again, I was reminded that
somehow we had
to get them out of this town."
The combination of real
political conundrums, backroom
discussions, dog-and-pony shows between politicians, and wheeling and
to get things done blends well with the elements of irony, satire, and
comedian's perspective on the job.
The latter lends a
tongue-in-cheek observation of the
political process which readers will find accessible even as they are
enlightened about what a town mayor does and how he does it.
Passages delving into this
process are delightful: "The annual argument
over what night to
hold the bonfire and wiener roast then commenced. Rhonda chimed in,
am sick and tired of Buffalo doing their event the same night as ours.
it first in our community, so there’s no reason to change it!”
The result may sound
incongruous, at first, but it's a
fine mix of real-world processes and a comedian's very different take
on how to
react to complainers and small-town drama queens.
Readers who like their
comedic encounters firmly cemented
in serious real-world confrontations will find You
Can't Write City Hall cultivates a delightful blend of
on political processes, memoir, and a comedian's unique perspective on
react to an audience which embraces an entire community. It gives
sure...but within the arena of political inspection that succeeds in
rare enlightenment while it spices the story with fun encounters of the
Return to Index
Crucible of the Vietnam War
Izzard Ink Publishing
War accounts will find that A Shau
holds a different approach and message than most, documenting events
war that centered on the A Shau Valley, a 40-kilometer hub central to
experienced some of the most intense battles of the war as Americans
failed to achieve their goals. It served as a microcosm of the
struggles of the
Vietnam War as a whole, so its analysis and position are central to
understanding what went awry in U.S. efforts in that country.
a military history that embraces events, people, and struggles at a
point and place in time. As he points out: "The
United States and its South Vietnamese ally were never able to wrest
one strategically critical location on the enemy line of
communications, the A
Shau Valley, away from the Communists after they overran the Special
camp in March 1966, and how that failure contributed, in a
major way, to the final outcome of the
focus and study holds vast implications for scholars seeking better
of the events and influences upon the Vietnam War's outcome as a whole,
a key acquisition for any collection interested in more than the usual
this history, he charts ambushes, military strategy, company movements,
choices and consequences which led to outcomes.
who experienced these battles add "you are there" accounts to the
history, capturing accounts of courage and extraordinary efforts such
as that of
1LT James M. Sprayberry, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for action
night of 25–26 April 1968: "This
rescue operation, which lasted approximately 7½ hours, saved the lives
of his fellow soldiers. Capt. Sprayberry personally killed 12 enemy
eliminated 2 machineguns, and destroyed numerous enemy bunkers."
histories, analyses, and personal accounts exist that, at this point,
might wonder at the need for yet another.
Shau: Crucible of
the Vietnam War's ability
the struggles that both defined and led to the ultimate outcome of the
lends to a study rich in strategic analysis: "Whether
the Vietnam War was, at any point in time, “winnable” is
beyond the scope of this work. What is clear is that by its failure to
or regain occupancy of the A Shau Valley, the United States enabled the
to develop and use it as the key logistical base in the northern half
country, if not all of South Vietnam. This wasn’t so much a lost
one that was forgone. For whatever reasons, and for whatever purposes,
that might have altered the course of the war by permanently occupying
Shau were used elsewhere, for pacification or for pursuing the enemy’s
battalions” in the hinterlands."
footnoted and cross-referenced and filled with
battle-by-battle analysis, A Shau:
Crucible of the Vietnam War is
casual coverage, but a scholar's delight. It focuses on the central
role of a
Vietnam valley that saw battles beginning in 1961 and lasting through
of the war in 1975.
Perhaps nowhere else in the war-torn country has one locale so represented the successes and failures of opposing forces as graphically and consistently throughout the war as in A Shau. A narrowed focus on this region is essential to understanding all the military and political facets involved in the war's ultimate outcome. A Shau: Crucible of the Vietnam War is a scholarly history highly recommended as a foundation acquisition for any collection serious about Vietnam War analysis.
Balloons for Tiger talks about balloons
that take center stage
after a beloved pet's death, discussing concepts of grief, the 'rainbow
bridge', and how adults can help children identify and cope with their
exploration opens with: "It was a
cold winter day. When the balloons for Tiger floated away."
is compared to the journey Tiger will take after death, serving as a
form of instruction as read-aloud adults use Balloons
for Tiger to show how Tiger will live on in the memories
of those who loved her.
and approach of this tender story ideally will work best with adults
it as a starting point for discussions with children about pets and
the unexpectedly cheerful approach of a story about pet death will find
Balloons for Tiger inviting. It
Common Core discussion points (presented at the story's conclusion)
selected coping strategies parents can employ with the very young.
employs bright and appealing color illustrations throughout.
primer for a young child facing the loss of a beloved pet.
Return to Index
Dog Named Trouble...Goes to a Forever Home
Dog Named Trouble...Goes to a
Forever Home tells the story of a large
Bernard dog rescued from a
shelter that proves a handful for his new owners.
book readers will enjoy, both, the dog story and the engaging, fun
Walter Policelli, who brings to life the story of a dog anxious to fit
new family, and enthusiastic about the outside world after his life in
the dog likes exploring, guarding his new home, playing with children
for rides in the family truck. He also lives up to his name as Mommy
face a series of adventures getting him acclimated to their home and
boundaries that work for them all.
may be his name, but as the dog becomes a part of the family, it would
trouble to live without him.
Dog Named Trouble...Goes to a
Forever Home celebrates the pros and cons
integrating a shelter dog into a
new family. It's a realistic portrait of the process that helps young
how their new pet will settle into their family and come to display
personality traits, needs, and desires of their own.
who wish a young child to better understand their new pet will find A Dog Named Trouble...Goes to a Forever Home
just the ticket for following the process of pet adoption in a
of the real-life Trouble conclude this delightfully warm dog adoption
Return to Index
How to Break
Black Spot Books
978-1-7335994-8-1 $18.95 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
which a princess lives in darkness, but defies the usual princess edict
remain a damsel in distress until rescued. Season it with the young
determination to take charge of her own freedom, only to find eight
digging her way to freedom leads her, ironically, straight into the
arms of the
man who holds a cure to the curse she is under.
more than a
dash of humor for a rollicking adventure in How
to Break an Evil Curse, which follows the two through a world
telling names and trials, past the Brook of Dashed Hopes and the
of Mirabella the Traitor into a place where secrets are revealed and
honest and honorable aren't above taking the money and running.
focused on saving her father's throne and legacy from evil wizard
Phelps and his determination to seize control.
But as her forays lead her to question the value of that
Julianna finds herself aligned with the commoners who are in the
affecting an overthrow, themselves.
fun permeate this story—unusual devices in a tale many teens will pick
its fantasy elements and promise of supernatural confrontations. YA
grades 7 and up will appreciate the complexity of this tale as well as
introduction to a special blend of humor. The female protagonist's
self-determination and feisty approach to her heritage, her life, and
possibilities lead her beyond anything she's been raised to believe in.
writing captures ribald circumstances and zany encounters that also
notion of good and evil upside down, as when Julianna and Warren
thug who harbors his own different dreams: “A
life of peace does appeal, you know. I’ve been in the thug business for
I hardly know anything else, but there was a time I dreamed of being a
he said dreamily. “Ooh!” Julianna said. “What kind of stuff would you
crime. The experts say to write what you know, after all, and I come
long line of criminals. I’ve always dreamed of something more, but it’s
cycle of poverty, you know. Parents poor and uneducated, kids don’t
anything different, it takes an awful lot of luck and resourcefulness
hate to interrupt,” Warren said. “But we are in a big hurry. We need to
of the city before the King and Queen realize we’re gone.”
is at once
hilarious and thought-provoking. Kids already steeped in the usual
fantasy and fairytales will delight the unexpected descriptions
"Without further ado, Julianna and
Copernicus dragged Warren out of the Forest of Looming Death and into
created for teen readers, many an adult interested in re-envisioned
will find How to Break an Evil Curse
original, action-packed, and worthy of the read.
Return to Index
Isn't It Scary?
Scary? is a children's
picture book story that
opens with a baby rabbit who disappears into a dark hole. Young Travis
that the darkness is scary...but Mother points out that it's not scary
rabbit family that considers the darkness their home.
And so begins a
exploration of elements which initially seem scary, but prove to just
of the ordinary, to other creatures. These scenarios include squirrels
of climbing tall trees; swamps that hold bugs and worms; the hidden,
dark woods the deer call home; and more.
frightening place is
presented as a welcoming home to other creatures as Mother guides her
children through a world of nature that isn't actually scary after all,
book is a study in
contrasts between initial perception and learning more about what seems
frightening. As the children's knowledge of nature expands, the world
Children who enjoy
this book as a
read-aloud with parental support in place will also find it a welcoming
introduction not just to the different environments of nature, but
one's fears with an added dash of knowledge and a wise mother's support.
It's a lovely
story of family, home, and
different comfort zones, and is especially recommended as bedtime
reinforce the notion that the world is filled with differences that
to translate to being scary at all.
Return to Index
The Legend of Jet the Gerbil
Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Legend of Jet
the Gerbil's subtitle is hilarious ('Could
Be the Greatest Gerbil Story Ever Told') and portends an
as young picture book animal enthusiasts absorb the story of Jet, who
than just another in the many pet gerbils Michael has enjoyed in his
Jet "Did amazing things and
adventures" and this story reviews his extraordinary life, spiced by
detailed drawings by Patrizia Donaera.
As Michael reviews all the
ways Jet is bigger, stronger,
faster and braver, and even challenges invading cats, readers will
the tale of a spunky little gerbil who defies gravity and the odds to
from the gerbil crowd.
Owner Michael thinks Jet can
do anything...but can he
confront an appliance monster, and death?
This uplifting, fun
celebration of a very special gerbil
is truly delightful. Kids who have an affinity for pets or gerbils will
Michael's celebration of his beloved pet is moving and appealing,
a section of natural history facts about gerbils.
Parents and teachers will
find the story lends to read
aloud, while kids ages 3-8 with good basic reading skills will want to
Jet's adventures for themselves. It's an all-around positive story of a
his pet that delights with both its action and Donaera's accompanying,
beautiful illustrations that support science-based lesson plans, as
Legend of Jet the
Gerbil is very, very highly recommended for its excellent
both word and art.
Return to Index
Mama is powerful reading for the
teen and young adult audience it's directed towards—but then, many
reads also embrace themes of abuse, depression, and struggles with a
mental illness. What sets this story apart from others is its attention
bringing these situations alive through diary entries, letters to a
(that come from a fourteen-year-old recovering from his abusive
physical attacks), and the devastating and healing effects these had on
loving family and his long-term relationships
first thing to note about Listen Mama
is its candid assessment of how these choices were not cut-and-dried
too often appear in other stories of family mental illness). Williams
acknowledges, from the beginning, the clash between belief systems,
realities which require hard decisions that often go against all
and ideals: "...although you screamed to the heavens that
against you, that’s just not the case Mama. The vote to have you
a lot closer than you would have ever imagined...But the concerns of
of the family had me pretty worried. They said they did not know what
to you, that this was wrong, and nobody’s freedom should be taken away
them. And I’ll be honest, I was really scared due to the portrayal of
institutions in films and television. For all I knew they would have
up on the same wing as some psychopath or deranged killer . . . I was
terrified at the potential for abuse and mistreatment at the hands of
clinic’s staff. For one, I thought it was more like a jail scenario,
degrees of the mentally ill lumped together."
the narrator reviews the ideas and realities of not just mental health
illness but institutionalization, the healing process of all involved,
young Manny's search for answers about his own place in life and his
his mother's illness, readers receive a compelling saga. It moves into
choices when he finds himself in a caretaker role while struggling with
legacy of mental illness.
other issues are woven into the story, from racism and poverty to
identify and separate mental illness concerns from daily life obstacles.
reason why Manny's story is so accessible to teen readers, especially,
candid, heartfelt acknowledgments of searching for a mother's love and
accepting both the good and bad moments that stem from that search and
alienating facts of mental illness's effects on love, parents, and
alike: "Whenever I am away and don’t
visit her for a while, I find myself missing Mama for all the wrong
How she made me feel about myself is high on the list. How she gave me
tremendous love as a child when no one else could/would—not even you.
made this sad little boy think a withered old lady would slay a dragon
meant keeping him from harm. On those days I ran home crying, I was not
of anything offhand that I had done wrong to deserve a treatment of
caliber from society. And Mama Dear would often cry silently too. She
then try to get me to understand that I was normal, like any other
only difference I had was actually on the inside.
That’s what made me special. That’s what made me
different—not the burns on my head. But I was usually not appeased, and
beg her to tell me when it would get better. When would people see my
instead of my outside—just like she could? And her reply was always the
“Sooner than you think, honey. Sooner than you think.”
speaks of the "soft bigotry of low expectations" and social
interactions that also intersect with family strife. He also adds humor
close inspections of family circumstances which ultimately gave him the
strength to rise out of poverty, prejudice, and abuse to live a good
these make for compelling reading that injects a positive note into a
seemingly fraught with inevitable disaster: "Did
I have a tough life? Yes. Did I grow up in poverty and face things
day and night that I would never wish upon my worst enemy? Yeah. Do I
had shown just the slightest interest, or at least talked/met me once?
bet. And while I am not a saint or martyr, I am also not vindictive. I
spiteful and I am not a bad person.
adult (and many an adult) readers will find Listen
Mama a thoroughly absorbing story about not just a mother's
love and a
family's mental illness, but the dysfunction of society as a whole.
Return to Index
Look at Me!
follows a child's active imagination as he goes exploring with his
uncovers a world of possibilities. It is recommended for read-aloud to
As the young child views the
world as his oyster and
contemplates flying and exploring, vivid language pairs with equally
color illustrations by Vanessa Alexandre to bring his playful, hopeful
enthusiasm to life: "Do you think I
can reach? Do you think I can be everything I hope and see?"
His mother has taught him
how to soar. Now he wants to
fly. And he brings her along to witness his achievements in a fun,
story that reminds the young of all the possibilities of life, and how
encouragement and participation is part of the magic.
As the young narrator dreams
of the unbelievable, the
impossible, and the possible; children receive an excellent,
survey of a child's life where his mother runs beside him and people of
face all the magic of the world with big dreams and hope.
Collections looking for
positive reinforcement of all
possibilities, both real and imagined, for the very young reader will
Look at Me! captures the combined
themes of opportunity and imagination, winding them into an exuberant
that's just perfect for read-aloud fun.
Return to Index
9781087943060 $16.99 Print/$9.99 ebook
readers who look for first-person narratives strong in contemporary
perspectives will find Maya Loop attractive.
Eleven-year-old Maya Loop's
world is falling apart as she begins her story. Everything is about to
but she just wishes she could turn back time and keep everything the
her beloved Baltimore, which has also changed around her.
with her father's death years ago, which leads to her mother's desire
into a bigger place and get away from her dead-end job as a Baltimore
accept a position which offers much higher hazard pay.
country to live with relatives wasn't in Maya Loop's game plan, but she
she has to "find a way to love this place." The process by which she
sets aside old connections, including the internet, and adjusts to a
different world makes for a compelling read.
will find Maya thoughtful and intriguing. As her adventure traverses
otherworldly realms, the fantasy component of her encounters lends to a
powerful exploration of her evolving strengths and ability to not just
but break free of the dead-end loop her former life became.
the truths surrounding her family heritage and her abilities ("only
Loops can restart the clock"), she faces
new choices that lead
her to question what she really wants from her life.
powerful passages explore her psyche and the difficult choices involved
saving not just herself, but others: "An old anger swells in
The kind I feel when kids push other kids around in the halls or take
lunch or steal their backpacks. The anger and fear that arises when I'm
sure I can make the situation right. The anger of helplessness. Bullies
off of it. I try to swallow it back, but it stays. I don’t know what to
sketchpad is in my hand, but it's not an option. Not now. Drawing a
get me out of this mess but it leaves everyone else behind. Drawing a
doesn’t prevent the Landions from finding that one final piece and
result is a
story driven by Maya's changing emotions, life, and abilities. It will
readers also challenged to accept new circumstances, relationships, and
perceptions about life and its purposes.
in a passionate journey of determination and evolving wisdom will find Maya
Loop unpredictable, driven by understandable emotions and
events that lead Maya to a new form of determination and courage.
Return to Index
Anne Frank: An Anthology
Tim Whittome, Editor
978-1-6641-4556-6 $19.99 Paper/$35.99 Hardcover
"Meeting" Anne Frank: An Anthology
belongs in any
Holocaust or children's history collection where Anne Frank's diary is
interest. It is comprised of twenty essays by those who never actually
girl, but found her influence on their lives to be unusually compelling
years have passed since Anne and her sister died in a concentration
authors of these pieces have all felt her lasting impact on their
explore many striking facets of this impact, which will prove
sometimes compellingly controversial.
the latter lies in this thought by Tim Whittome: "If
the life of Jesus Christ for Christians across the world
derives much of its unique power and meaning from his miraculous transcendence of death and subsequent
appearance to his disciples, Anne Frank’s life derives almost all of
transcendent power and meaning from the fact that she died
in the state-sponsored grip of one of the cruelest of all
ideological and genocidal dreams—namely, that the world would be
better off without there being any Jews left to envy or despise. Did Anne have to die at Bergen-Belsen
and—as far as we know—not rise
again and did Jesus have to
on a cross and then rise again in accordance with Christian faith for
current martyred reputations to exist today? On one level, it might
presumptuous to link these two historical figures and fellow Jews, but
another, we need to bear in mind that Anne’s diary has become one of
well-read and translated books in the world after the Bible."
personal relationship with the deceased Anne through her writings. Some
her father or others connected with her, as well. The impact of Anne's
influence is striking, as in Anne Talvaz's reflection: "Anne
did indeed tell of sad events. Perhaps my previous Holocaust
reading had hardened me to the cruel facts she related—I do not know.
stood out was the wit, the needle-sharp portraits, the flawless
the sense of comic timing. The description of the potato peelers’
cat peeing in the attic, the strawberry preserving, the German soldier
his officer for treason all had me laughing out loud. And then there
sheer wizardry of her use of words."
continue to resonate with future generations where so many similar
have been consigned to the annals of history? By capturing twenty lives
by her words and their legacy, this anthology succeeds in showing how a
writer's experiences and eye for detail can translate to life-changing
and Holocaust history will of course be the likely major audience for
book, but let it also serve as an inspiration for writers of all ages
question the lasting power of words to reach out and transform others,
as teenagers learning about Anne and the Holocaust.
Return to Index
Bright Star: A Story of Resiliency
Independently Published/New Beginnings Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-7366569-0-7 Price: $14.95
the outskirts of town, where the sky is dark enough to see a very
that she equates with her missing parents. Merin
And Her Very Bright Star: A Story of Resiliency is about
loss and grief six
years later. It is a very simple reader that follows a young girl's
life and adjustments.
This joins a
relatively small number of books that cover the long-term effects of
Merin struggles as much with the notion that her parents' absence is
fault as she does with the vacancy this has left in her young life.
As a grief
helps her and Merin discovers her imagination is an acceptable
readers receive an evocative, compelling story that follows Merin's
resiliency as a process rather than a singular revelation, unlike so
opportunities of this process are especially nicely explained: "...here
is what became true: all the bright and beautiful things were filling
And she was brighter. And she was not the only person with an unknown
wanting to be filled. The star taught her that she could turn something
into something found, and if everyone did this, the world would be
outstanding story that will bring healing and better understanding to
whether they are read-aloud adults or children able to absorb this
for its enlightening, uplifting, supportive message.
recommended, Merin And Her Very Bright Star:
A Story of Resiliency takes an important extra step in
long-term approaches and effects of grieving and its opportunities for
and developing a positive resiliency that transforms despair into
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of the Khar
978-1-7349098-0-7 $7.99 paper; $2.99 Kindle
Mystery of the Khar
Chuluu will reach middle grade to
adult readers and holds a surprise: it's a
full-length book designed to be read aloud. Those who believed their
days ended with growing away from picture books will find this a
prospect because this gentle fantasy, narrated by the "Djinn
Deserts, who piles himself like a pillar of smoke and rolls across the
ages," reveals this sweeping tale using metaphor and mystery
milieu for read-aloud attention by all ages, and so lends well to those
want an ongoing bedtime read filled with action and adventure.
been hired to steal the khar chuluu, a powerful black stone. But, he's
not to follow through on turning it over to an even deadlier force, and
the run. So is Anita Aminou, who is on her own quest to unlock dark
save her magical family.
of the two and their seemingly disparate purposes form a saga that
khar chuluu is not a key, as Chul has believed, but a "wicked thing,
of dark magic" (as the reluctant Djinn is forced to reveal to the
command its force will face decisions and dilemmas beyond the ken of
humans. And Chul and Anita may be pushed to make the hardest decision
of all in
its deployment and protection, tapping into a power that defies even
narrator Djinn's abilities.
Wilson Whitlow's enchanting,
fast-paced journey is
replete with a special form of magic. It's unusual to find a story
young protagonists that holds the ability to thoroughly immerse adult
audiences, as well.
As the mystery evolves,
powered by the Djinn's savvy and
sometimes sarcastic observations of human behaviors, it becomes a
impossible to put down, filled with gripping moments that transform not
the characters, but the readers and read-aloud listeners.
Mystery of the Khar
Chuluu is very highly recommended
for its astute definitions of wickedness,
goodness, power, and wisdom.
deserved a family's read-aloud participation, it should be Mystery
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Mystery School: Islid is a story set in a
world embroiled by
turmoil, and is recommended for mature teens. Estrella Chavez is a
when the story opens. Her father, part of an eco-labor movement, was
when she was a baby, but the impact of his work and absence still
her life. Even though twelve years have passed, she still doesn't know
details about his death.
school Glouton, where she initially loves her roommates and its
Estrella remains blissfully unaware of another world and danger lurking
the surface of her mother's actions.
learn about the Spirit War, the Angelai, and disparate groups that feed
simmering anger, Estrella finds herself embroiled in a conflict that
challenges her abilities, but her perception of the world, her family
and her place in it.
Mystery School: Islid contains moral and
ethical quandaries that
arise in the course of Estrella's education: "Estrella
looks at the self-satisfied expression on his face. It’s
a look that says he thinks he’s perfectly ethical, and that money has
influence on him, unlike his corruptible childhood friend and her
murdering family. “But don’t people do the bad things they do because
have money?” Zaharia asks. “It’s much easier to behave
ethically when there is a roof over your head and food on the table.
see others who have so much, and yet we have so little that our
out from hunger, is it not understandable that we might resort even to
for the money that will give us relief? Money, for many, is not a
ethics, but of desperation.”
really be a
world in which none of these issues exist?
new lessons about friendship, romance, ethics, and new possibilities,
only revises what she knows about her past, but tackles newfound
that stem from a blend of self-discovery and rising consciousness about
choices and their consequences: "Estrella
smiles, giddy at her own memory of dancing with Mark, but then sees a
blue eyes in her mind. John. She has a boyfriend. Right? A really good
boyfriend, who didn’t abandon her when times got tough, who texts her
than a mystery, more than a coming of age story, and more than the
of a boarding school experience that changes everything.
and thought-provoking growth, Mystery
School: Islid imbeds the overlay of mystery and discovery
lessons about good guys, bad guys, and Estrella's real role as a brand
enjoy stories that embrace more than adventure will appreciate the
inspections of Estrella's cultural roots, her foray into
worlds and purposes, and the progression of her growth as she
these discoveries into her own evolving psyche.
a host of strong characters, Mystery
School: Islid deserves its status as a powerful series opener
appeal to a wide audience.
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Ryder Hunte Clancy
Winter Goose Publishing
978-1-952909-05-4 $14.99 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
Mystic Invisible provides teen fantasy
readers with the compelling
story of Monte Darrow, a young wizard who moves to the mystically
Scottish Highlands to find that magic is forbidden in a place where
regulated by the International Mystic Bureau's limitations and
it's still a threatened world in which magic is becoming unstable and
milieu of teens in high school fades into supernatural and fantasy
involving missing Mystics, vanishing creatures, deadly possessed
mysterious figures cloaked in rainbow lights. Monte and his friends
Finn, and others find themselves both evolving their abilities and
something no adult Mystic dares to face.
discover the intrigue behind a mysterious seashell to the dilemma
trying to identify valor from vice, Ryder Hunte Clancy creates
fast-paced story which builds its foundations on interpersonal
much as mystical and magical encounters.
story of teens coming of age and coming into their powers, embracing
transformative choices these processes involve.
fast-paced action and adventure tempered by intrigue, mystery, and the
to keep magical disasters from the prying eyes of the non-magical world
find Mystic Invisible satisfyingly
unpredictable and involving.
mystery, fantasy elements, and coming of age themes as its young
learn which rules to break and which to abide by makes for an excellent
Return to Index
Trunk Up Books
$18.99 Hardcover/ $12.99 Paper/$3.19 Kindle
Rhythm Rescue introduces readers to Music
"there's always a song to sing and instruments playing everywhere."
music as the city is, Tala is a talented young musician who appears to
just the right place as she puts her abilities to work. Vicky Weber's
Viel-Taschereau captures Tala's
spirit in large-size pictures that insert a sense of power and
into the story.
story about music, Vicky Weber teaches the very basic introductory
reading music and accompanying it with rhythm, injecting simple bass
notes into the story and inviting young readers and their musical adult
accompanists to clap along at various intervals.
by music. The rhythms she (and the reader) cultivate over the course of
story help her overcome obstacles and find her way, whether it be past
traffic signals, over flooded roads, or beating a storm.
simplest music-reading ability can help youngsters navigate Tala's
employ the clapping beats which teach diverse rhythms, resilience, and
participation in the read-aloud experience. Those who struggle with
memories of music receive further written instruction in the back of
on how to interpret the rhythmic beats of each section.
usual passive read-aloud picture book, Rhythm
Rescue goes beyond encouraging a collaborative experience,
youngsters how they may empower themselves to overcome life's obstacles
encouraging creative artistic abilities.
Walker has achieved a dual goal in a story that both encourages
individuality, and community interaction and imparts a basic awareness
aspect of music's power to uplift, support, and contribute to a sense
adventure and positive connections in the world.
in psychological support and musical education will appreciate having
opportunity under one cover.
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Trunk Up Books
978-1734212976 $12.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
The Song Garden is a lovely, lively story
of music, creativity, and
a child's determination to contribute to the musical community by
own original song, and creates an uplifting celebration highly
picture book readers and parents interested in musical celebrations.
large-sized, appealing illustrations that capture the personalities
a community gala celebration, bringing to life the enthusiasm of
work and independent creative effort alike.
There is an
of fantasy involved, as each participant in the town event is tasked
creating a song that "magical flowers" in different gardens will
always participated in this event as a group, but this year she's
work separate to make her mark as an independent creative force in her
others' song gardens to see what else is in the world has an unexpected
she is overwhelmed by all the choices already taken and becomes worried
she will "get it wrong" with her own creation.
mother, a bit
of encouragement, and an epiphany about creativity leads Calla back on
of positivity, which is transmitted to young readers, along with a
project reinforcing their own creative force with an opportunity to
in a song garden project, themselves.
Weber accepts the challenge of encouraging a child's creativity and
perspective about opportunities. Her song garden story is more than a
tale or a gentle reminder of supporting a creative spirit—it simply and
successfully teaches the basics of self-awareness, collaborative and
effort, and how to develop autonomy and strength by realizing a goal.
her story, kids will be encouraged to consider their own path to
translation through bright, large-size drawings by Zoe Mellors will
adults seeking stories that go beyond entertainment value to reinforce
child's inner spirit.
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Alicia J. Novo
9781947796652 $16.99 Paper/$28.99 Hardcover
Ordering: Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Unwritten-Zweeshen-Chronicles-Alicia-Novo/dp/194779664X
reach teens interested in magical realism and stories about bullying,
introduces the Zweeshen Chronicles series.
Beatrix Alba is a book nerd
and is ripe fodder for
bullying, which takes place not just in school, but at home. Like most
she harbors dreams of being powerful enough to overcome these forces of
darkness. Unlike the rest, she actually holds the secret capability to
so...a power that brings her into the book world she so loves when a
keep her hidden breaks.
In Zweeshen, all the tales
she so loves are alive. It's a
world where wishes come true, there to live alongside horrors the
world keeps buried out of sight, with only books of legends remaining
document this alternate reality.
Unlike her former world, in
this one, Beatrix's ability
to change everything proves not just an asset, but the starting point
world-changing battle. Amidst confrontations between good and evil,
finds herself joining forces with a cursed conjurer to face an
on taking over.
Only she holds the puzzle
key to his ability to do so.
And only Beatrix can tap the help of her friends to use darkness to
even if it means destroying the world she's lived in all her life.
Alicia J. Novo creates a
powerful story which relies on a
set of literary clues and puzzles that drive the main character and her
to make difficult decisions. Beatrix is motivated by her need to see
mother, but there's a deeper purpose to her actions. She also needs to
truths about herself.
Teens receive a
coming-of-age (or, perhaps more
correctly, a coming-into-power) tale that is delightfully hinged on
figures and devices from not just fantasy realms, but romance and other
As she questions "How much
bad is tolerable?"
Beatrix begins to find answers to questions that include many
moments: "I'm convinced the best we
can do is live our way. It denies everyone else power over us."
While its moral and ethical
queries are one of its
strengths, Unwritten will be
by teens who have experienced bullying and who will especially delight
unexpected convergence of literary figures on the stage of a world that
them all to life, fighting side by side: "Elizabeth
has arranged for a ship captained by one of Peter Pan's defected
Its surprising confluence of
fantasy and its unexpected
twists and turns, supported by strong characters, draws readers into a
that is satisfyingly unpredictable and hard to put down.
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978-0988562080 $9.00 Paper; $2.99 Kindle
When the Angel Sent Butterflies provides
read-aloud parents with an
uplifting primer about little Kate, who is frightened when a bee buzzes
sister that their mother says angels watch over them daily. Angel Ken
different approach: he sends butterflies to delight the kids and take
their fear of nature and the outdoors.
angels all the time. She knows that Angel Ken's purpose is not just to
with lovely butterflies, but to teach the kids that bees and
are their friends, and a positive part of the world around them.
Clare Anderson's drawings are simple and inviting. They could have been
by a child, but provide colorful embellishments that will interest a
The story concludes on an upbeat note with an invitation to have kids draw a butterfly and a bee, providing an activity to reinforce the spiritual and nature message of a read-aloud that religious parents will find inviting.When the Angel Sent Butterflies
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The Tale of
George H. Bentz, DDS, MS
Schornsteinfeger Press, LLC
$19.95 Hardcover/$14.95 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
The Tale of the Tooth Mouse is a
delightful picture book story
reaching ages 7-9 with a whimsical message about lost teeth, tooth
twins who live in a friendly small town in "a time of kings and queens
castles and knights."
enjoy their clever mouse friend Timothy J, who is always entertaining
and who is quite a fan of his young friends and cheese.
first tooth comes out, it precipitates a crisis because Jon likes his
doesn't want to throw away a tooth just because it exited his mouth,
traumatized not just about the loss, but about the specter it brings
growing up and change.
Timothy J help his young friend overcome this trauma and cheer him on
thinks...and the idea stems from a combination of his caring
the children, their appreciation of surprises, and an innovative idea
blossoms into a myth all children embrace today.
story goes far beyond the usual approach to tooth fairies and loss. It
far wider themes of growing up, being responsible and caring towards
at innovative solutions for problems, and how to adjust to the trauma
one's first tooth.
As Jon adjusts to the idea of change and growing up, young children will appreciate the lessons embedded in the whimsical story of a creative mouse and the human he loves. While reading skills are required to absorb the story, parents of younger kids will also find The Tale of the Tooth Mouse lends to read-aloud, with its fun drawings and important message. It's a delightfully refreshing, original change from the usual tooth fairy story.The Tale of the Tooth Mouse
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