May 2023 Review Issue
Fantasy & Sci Fi
Mystery & Thrillers
The Aether Chronicles: Rebellium follows
the quest of
eighteen-year-old Natalia Rhys as she chafes under the rule of
Averie, who searches out powerful Elementals through an assessment
add to his growing army.
her kingdom, Natalia faces her elemental assessment test with much
But, unlike many, she and her close friends fall into the company of
by Vayne's own son, Roman. She finds her destiny radically altered by
newfound associations and the changes they introduce to her friendships
up with friends like Natalia. As he and Natalia form an unlikely bond
their very different worlds) with new connections, they reflect on the
that come not only from within, but between them, musing about "...how powerful love is and the
lengths that people are willing to go for those they love.”
growing powers and connections are heavily tested not just by the
social currents governing their lives, but by a growing attraction that
the special powers within them.
compelling fantasy that incorporates epic battles both externally and
internally. She crafts characters that push themselves to go further
into the world and their place in it than they'd ever imagined,
story with action and confrontations that emerge from disparate and
"Throughout her entire life, one of the only things
ever wanted was to find love—to find family."
On the cusp
achieving her dreams against all odds, Natalia finds that, in fact, her
greatest achievement is about to change into her biggest nightmare as
family test her ability to keep them both safe.
tense, epic fantasy story of struggle and romance that is equally
fueled by war
and love. The passions, purposes, and people of this world come to
while the dashes of bigger-picture thinking about mental and physical
the real costs of winning a war are thought-provoking and involving.
epic fantasy works that will appeal to book club discussion groups with
of personal and political struggle and the impact of life choices on
influence development will find this first book in the Aether
series, Rebellium, a powerful draw.
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Four: Book 1
9780985475956 $5.99 Kindle
Four is set in the year 2097, where
society's reliance on
technology has hit an all-time high, setting it above and beyond
beliefs and political systems. In fact, scientists and atheists now
world. And it's not a pretty picture.
Marshal Austin Corrigan has eschewed traditional faith in favor of a
scientific and agnostic believers. Charged with protecting the world
master criminals, he and his team are stymied when three dangerous men
from Prime Supermax Prisons to form a deadly force, with an unknown
spearheading their efforts.
Austin tracks them on a world-hopping venture in which the perps stay
ahead of even his power and might, he begins to realize they harbor
extraordinary powers that are beyond belief.
they been genetically enhanced, or are they the fabled Four Horsemen
seems unlikely that Austin holds as a friend (much less teams up with)
Catholic, but Dean's faith forces Austin to confront his own underlying
system as he pursues impossibly empowered enemies and teeters ever
closer to a
series of revelations that will revise not only his perception of this
futuristic world, but his position in it.
a story that blends hard science, social change, moral and spiritual
conundrums, and mystery into an action-packed plot designed to appeal
kinds of readers, whether they come from spiritual or sci-fi circles.
fast-paced, the character development keeps readers engaged, and the
and questions Austin and other characters face as their roles and fates
out on a larger battlefield of belief and power plays makes for
compelling piece of this story lies in its ability to dovetail
questions over the nature and possibility of God with the events that
and precede cataclysmic changes.
particular, will find that the enactment of high drama in a futuristic
pestilences and power plays feels both realistic and true to modern
represents competing belief systems as each character tests their
transform themselves and the world.
Four will draw readers from different
circles; from Christian
thinkers and agnostics to sci-fi readers looking for a compelling story
futuristic society and change.
books that posit the end of worlds and new beginnings will find Four an enticing, different perspective
that draws as much from psychological foundations of personal change as
social and spiritual reflection.
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ASIN: B0BS3934Y2 $2.99 Kindle
Ithandryll is the first book in the Song of the
Sidhe series, and blends fantasy with romance in a compelling manner
promises an epic read to both genre fans.
Lovegood is on
the run from her past. Landing in Chicago, a good place to blend into
background, she discovers that not only has she brought along baggage
past life, but an apartment break-in reveals a relic under the
leads her into another world. Chicago has always been her dream. Now
achieved one of her life goals (to live there), it becomes her
Roxi's belief system is challenged in a
major way by events that draw her further into danger and, ironically,
her to move from her comfort zone and the distance she wants to put
herself and the world ("Some days it was easier to forget. To
To focus on something more pressing and present, like finding a new job
dodging the nosy inquiries from fair-weathered “friends” who also loved
Roxi is unable to just wallow in sadness,
given the extraordinary circumstances of a successful flight into
even she never predicted in all her dreams of opportunity and change.
Her encounter with the alluring Devon
provides her with a guide not only to this odd world, but to matters of
heart that re-form her place in both worlds. Despite his penchant for
and frolic, Devon, too, has experienced heartbreak.
the time to entwine romance, a fantasy world, and circumstances which
Roxi and Devon to step away from their choices and predictable paths
something different, both with one another and in their new lives.
Ithandryll is replete with fine tension and whimsical
moments of comic relief: "Roxi’s eyes widened. Her breath
lungs. Fairies. “Pixies.” Devon held no such wonderment; he grumbled
with all the admiration of a man with a fly swatter."
The dance between a stubborn human who taps
her deepest resources to survive in this strange new land and a
stranger who introduces her to his world and her family makes for an
story filled with numerous memorable characters and satisfying twists
Libraries and readers seeking the
intersection of epic fantasy and romance will find Ithandryll
developed, compelling in its vision of disparate people forced to tap
inner desires and heritages in order to survive, and hard to put down.
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Hart & Hind Publishing
Klara's Journey is the first book in the
new adult fantasy and
historical romance series 'The Kenetlon Sagas,' and opens with an
prologue that introduces Waywyrd, who is enjoying a magnificent view on
sea-salted terrace overlooking the Black Sea.
interlude of peace precedes events that change in a heartbeat as Klara
discovered to be acting as a village whore. She finds herself signing
up for a
very different profession when she becomes part of an expedition to the
wildlands as their chief cook and huntress.
As she moves
being exploited to a position of empowerment granted by her choices and
Klara becomes involved with both nobility and exiled royalty, coming to
her life journey entwined with the destinies of kings and the future of
contrasts Klara's personal revelations and experiences with the rising
conflicts and challenges of her world. Her encounter with demons,
matters of her own heart ("I don't
believe I'm capable of even knowing what love is.") makes for
satisfying contrast between high-octane adventure and psychological
as Klara moves into positions of power she'd never imagined, both
and as a member of society.
with King Thorn evolves, Klara's position shifts—as do her perceptions
life's purpose and her beliefs. These all bring readers into a
milieu of discovery, with unexpected twists of plot keeping the romance
and fresh and the action spirited and in sync with Klara's
seeking stories that represent the intersection of fantasy, history,
and psychological growth will welcome the opportunity to follow Klara
life-changing journey through a world in flux.
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Mark of a
Wild Geese Bookworks
9798987216903 $7.99 Kindle
divorce, Fleur La Salle returns to her hometown of Antigonish in Nova
rebuild her life and passion, both lost in her short marriage. Mark of a Crescent Moon follows her
journey into disparate and unfamiliar worlds of realization when she
the meaning of her recurring dreams, only to find herself in another
transformation processes in a vivid manner in Clara Fay's story as, one
after her move, Fleur finds herself past the period of mourning what
been, thoroughly immersed in life in a tribal village from long ago.
and connections she's longed for come to vivid life, as does the art
her passion, when she is drawn back to Scotland by a mysterious letter.
event from her dreams causes her physical trauma when she then falls
portal of standing stones and is transported into the past.
immersed in hidden family history and receives lessons on tapping into
emotions to remember who she is, readers follow her on a journey that
metaphysical and psychological as Fleur draws unexpected new
Thomas and her supportive Auntie G.
finely-tuned balancing act between emotional growth and intrigue as
approaches her past, present, and future from a different angle than
time-travel components, and shifting roles and interpersonal
Fleur experiences with Thomas and others around her drive a story line
with action and self-reflection. These make Fleur's world and reactions
authentic and realistic.
affects not just Fleur but events and lives past and present is just
of a story marked by intrigue, destiny, and the surprising intersection
artistic and spiritual journey.
seeking multifaceted stories that defy pat categorization and draw with
lures of psychological growth, historical intrigue, and interpersonal
relationships will find Mark of a
Crescent Moon a fantasy adventure of a different order, well
mystery and discovery that will keep readers thinking and guessing
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A Measure of
$20.99 Hardcover/$13.99 Paper/$2.99 ebook
the first book in the Ages of Malice series, A
Portion of Malice, may well recall the potent blend of
and fantasy that powered the story of a writer assigned to write a
billionaire's biography, only to find that Thaddeus Drake is the leader
secret society determined to bring on the apocalyptic end of mankind.
unlikely that a suicidal writer would be the savior of the planet, much
the position to play a major role in the timeless battle between good
but Emery Merrick plays a part akin to no other as he confronts both
courage continues in A Measure of Rhyme,
which will best be appreciated by those who found A
Portion of Malice unforgettable, and who will find its sequel
equally powerful force of wonder.
reintroduces Emery and presents the very different task he's assigned,
also captures an underlying sense of wry observation humor that comes
especially strongly in this book:
“I made it to Heaven?” I look down the corridor,
realize it has no
walls, no floor or ceiling, just an endless rainbow of space.
“Shouldn’t I feel
more elated? More, I don’t know, overjoyed?”
John laughs. “Ah, curiosity. Waiting for the other shoe to drop, eh?” He slaps me on the back. “I’ve missed you Emery.”
receive a surprising truth about Emery's condition and foray into
realms usually limited to angels and the dead, they move into a story
with twists and turns that keep them guessing, wondering, and
engrossed. Some of this surprise factor lies in the continual
Jeffries injects into any preconceived notions of Emery's ongoing
The blend of
spirituality, myth, and history both confronts and confounds any
inherent beliefs about these facets in a story that is especially adept
just confronting illusions, but ripping them apart.
journey is that of Everyman, reflecting humanity's relentless
towards destruction, but also its hopeful possibilities of redemption
hand-in-hand with salvation and damnation.
shut down the place and people involved in his deadly ritual is not
complete. Remnants remain to evolve new possibilities, while Emery's
self-destructive routes receive continual challenge from God, Cain, and
mirroring new beginnings that rise like phoenixes from the
endings and total destruction.
cements these journeys of God and man with dialogues and reflections
serve book clubs and readers with thought-provoking opportunities for
discussions of spiritual and psychological revelation:
“I’m sorry for your loss, but only partly. I never
expected to marry a
human, never expected a lot of things my journey has held. But now, as God,” he emphasizes this word, “I
cannot suffer such distractions as pity for you. You’ve always been in
to die, and I alone saved you from that fate. I sincerely hope we can
mutual understanding, that you’ll stay in my favor. But the choice is
yours. My hope is that you’ll be able to set aside the portion of
hold for me. But,” he pauses here, “if you cannot, it changes nothing.
still serve at my pleasure. Like all mortals, that is your lot.”
just in Emery but in Cain, Igneus, Sebastian, and a host of other
whose strengths, weaknesses, and observations contribute to a greater
realizations that continue to rock the worlds of those who populate
and their readers.
for and realized, and denied, as events emerge with fiery repercussions
portend new directions as well as the inevitable results of humankind's
political, and spiritual entanglements.
inevitable. It's also unexpected, diverging from anything readers could
anticipate to forge new avenues of spiritual and historical inspection.
The gift of
the notion that evil can be timeless make
Measure of Rhyme a thought-provoking blend of fantasy,
philosophical inspection well on the level of Dan Brown's spiritual
a little Robert McCammon thrown in for good measure.
who relished A Portion of Malice
find A Measure of Rhyme equally
powerful in its synthesis of fantasy, history, and religious
drops a bomb on any notion of predictability, leading into experiences
outcomes that wind up feeling almost inevitable despite their many
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The Singing Shore III: Spirit and Flame
$25.00 Hardcover/$15.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
trilogy The Singing Shore opens with a puzzle for newcomers: while Spirit and Flame is clearly the third
book, it's also the seventh book in The
Series and the fifth in Dasha's Story. This translates to the fact that
Spirit and Flame will best be
not just by prior readers of the series in general and this trilogy in
particular, but by followers of epic fantasy who enjoy a wide array of
characters and ongoing quests that keep their missions both lively and
Dasha is heir to the throne on a mission of peace
to the Rutsi, the
warlike tribes of her kingdom.
Her life is complicated by the promise of a magical power she has yet
command, Dasha is accompanied
by escorts who struggle
to keep her safe against the attention of a murderous magical wolf who
her power to add to his own.
The adventures haven't ended with Dasha's prior
discovery of her
abilities, but continue here as she wields them on behalf of her
is falling increasingly into war.
The second book ended with a fleet of Rutsi intent
on invading. This
book picks up where that moment left off, continuing to follow Dasha as
comes into her power and makes decisions about how best to unite her
A spirit cannot be separated from its body for
long, or it will die.
Dasha's rare gifts translate to uncommon and hard decisions as she
special challenges both within and outside:
before she had found herself back in her body without effort. But now,
was afraid and desperate to return, she couldn’t find her way back. She
thinking of returning, she tried picturing herself, she tried reaching
herself, she tried hurling herself back across that abyss of space
spirit and her body. None of it worked.
As in the
books, E.P. Clark embeds the story
with action and reflective moments, exploring the motivations and
Dasha and those around her and adding components of intrigue and
These power a hard-hitting quest that operates on different levels,
considerations of honor and pride to visions that introduce portents of
and demand responses from Dasha that are well out of her comfort zone.
The strength lies not only in this book's
expanded connections with its predecessors and the series as a whole,
the psychological and magical conundrums faced by Dasha as she steps up
into her own abilities and the hard decisions they exact.
Why are facets of her world alive and yet
Dasha's pursuit of final answers in her
journey provides just the right amount of intrigue, purpose, and
attract fans of epic fantasy and magical transformations, romance and
particularly prior readers and libraries that have seen patron interest
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Stories of 101 Words Each
978-1667866321 $15.95 Paper/$10.99 ebook
Fast Fiction: 101 Stories of 101 Words Each
is the first volume of
a book that reinforces the notion that stories of less than 3 pages and
one word over 100 can hold attraction.
includes the prompts and directions that led him to write each piece.
instructs readers in his introduction, think 'writer's improv'.
prompts result in quick tales that assume disparate and unusual routes,
beginning with the 'found property' prompt that produced 'A Most
Gift,' the introductory tale, that tells of the unusual find of a "human hermit crab" who "spent
his days scavenging for whatever
he could “find” be it from dumpsters, Wal-Marts or unlocked parked
prize (and accompanying surprise) comes when he discovers the keys to a
an unexpected twist. Anyone who maintains that 101 words is not nearly
to develop characters, plots, motivation, or surprises receives
insights into the possibilities 101 words and a prompt can introduce to
one stemming from the prompt 'Delphic') is 'Just a Lucky Guess?' in
fortune teller unexpectedly nails a secret. The dialogue-driven story
intense and involving, even at 101 words.
these 'flash fiction' pieces prove that the most power can come from a
surprisingly succinct form that will prove accessible no matter how
reader. They can be read at a moment's notice, absorbed and digested
time permits, and each provides a powerhouse of attraction that refutes
notion that complexity and length must accompany quality writing.
readers will be the likely audiences for this collection, but ideally
also be chosen by book clubs and creative writing teachers for its
examples of what can be achieved on the fly, using a minimal amount of
and a maximum attention to innuendo, possibility, and surprise.
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David W. Berner
Outpost19, The Shortish Project (an initiative to champion the tradition of short novels)
9798987839805 $16.00 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Islander is a novella
that tells of aging
American writer Seamus Damp, who attempts to cement his isolation by
a remote Irish island. You can't always escape the past, and in this
estranged son continues to introduce heartbreak and possibilities into
Ireland is where he and his wife turned for
a quieter life, even though he was born in America. The Irish-American
community's firm ties to the old country were never quite severed, and
Seamus found his roots there and raised a son, Aiden, as an Irish boy.
son left home, his wife insisted that he, too, move away from her.
acknowledges that he has "fallen into his own silence, a
spirit, increasingly in need of solitude. He had become an intensely
No longer present. No longer capable of giving enough to someone else.
knew what he had become. He had had sullen days as a child, and they
followed him like a ghost."
The last thing he expected to experience in
this chosen world of isolation is a new connection to another woman,
harbors her own heartache and reasons for a solitary existence.
When the two meet during a storm and share
their personal stories of what has driven their isolation and spiritual
contemplation, new revelations emerge to form unexpected emotional
as changes surge all around and between them.
Succinct though it may be in appearance, The
Islander packs a punch. Part of its literary strength lies in
Berner's ability to get the most impact from the least amount of words.
Where other literary discussions of solitary
lives tend to develop complicated plots, The Islander
excels in a
simple, rugged perspective of life and self that contrasts the
perspectives of father and son and the lives each touches.
Islander's reflection of
psychological depth and
literary strength will attract a wide audience, but is especially
for literature and creative writing classes seeking examples of the
possibilities the short form can take when utilized to its greatest
Book clubs interested in Irish culture and
experience will also find The Islander filled with
topics worthy of
discussion and inspection, from how Seamus is connected to his Irish
the impact of these connections on his choices and legacy to his son.
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A Lie Called
Jim van de Erve
The play in
verse A Lie Called the Present
a cast of elderly and middle-aged characters who represent a family in
Each member is hiding some aspect of their lives and personas. As the
unfolds, these truths come to light in unexpected ways to test the
past, present, and future connections.
Jim van de
presents the drama with a military edge of reflection: "Who
is a daughter but a spy/with a matron’s cloak and assassin’s
dagger?/And who are parents but generals/raising their off to be
stars into their separate zealots."
reflective as its introduction demands, the heart of this story lies in
relationships tested by time and the advancement of years as dementia
disparate special interests both challenge the family and threatens its
connections are made via seemingly-ordinary conversations that ring
What it is, Honey?
When do we eat what they masquerade as a meal?
HARRY (looks at the wall clock)
I’m famished now. In three, I’ll be bored of starving."
revealed within each family member's particular vision, limitation, and
objective come to light as the play moves through time and experiences.
resulting tale of
lives tested by aging, the betrayal of self and loved ones, and
made by a family already connected in unusual ways contributes to a
ideally will be both read and considered for stage production.
seeking contemporary scenarios and literary dramas that employ poetic,
psychological, and dramatic embellishments will welcome the
and structure of A Lie Called the Present,
which may also be chosen for drama classes as an example of modern
brought to life using new literary approaches to broaden both its
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Poems of Everyday Life
Suzanne W. Guinn
The Ewings Publishing
979-8-88640-187-5 $15.00 Hardcover/$5.99 Paper
The second edition of Poems of Everyday
Life is a literary work recommended for any library or reader
accessible, inspirational pieces reflecting both spiritual and
observations of ordinary life.
The sentiments expressed by Suzanne W. Guinn
are those which come from daily living, from an introductory poem which
Jesus in virtually every aspect of life to the next piece, which
sense of exhaustion in all ages: "I’m tired says the little
in from play./He takes a short nap and soon is on his way./It doesn’t
to get his strength renewed./I’m tired says the teenager who is growing
the weeds./He sleeps long hours, getting rest for that is what he
needs./College life is coming when late nights are pursued."
As with the first poem, quite often these
pieces (as demonstrated in the above poem 'I'm Tired') move full circle
connect life experiences, reflections, and events with higher-level
From reflections on how to "live a life
that's right" which are imparted by a thoughtful mother's admonitions,
the blessings of diverse friendships, Guinn keeps her poems rooted in
life, spiritual connections, and verse that cements both the simplicity
and its overlay of complex reactions and emotions.
The result is a poetry collection perfect
for readers who like verse, easily-digested reflections, and blessings
come from celebrations and insights about life.
Black and white artwork and photography by
the author supplement the colorful cover art and accent these delicate,
poems about life, contributing the feel of fine art to the
revelations within, making the collection recommendable to libraries
poetry easily understood by the everyday reader.
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Summer Words: New and Selected Poems presents poems about family history, labor, and the pursuit of dreams in a changing America where values and landscapes are in flux. A hard-hitting collection of thoughts and images, it juxtaposes literary and historical references that move from Hungarian family roots to modern-day life in a new country and time.
The first thing to note about this collection as a whole is its contrasts between modern and past life in America. Readers move between social issues, such as an 1800s hanging and the modern death penalty, with special attention given to the emotional impact of life and death in different historical eras.
One example of the power of this special form of contrast in lives and experiences lies in "The Welder on Midnight Shift," in which "It’s only a pit, huge as the summer sky and deep,/where the new Penn Station is going up./The beam of an arc light in the pit/finds tenement houses by mistake,/explores the facades, invades the windows,/and floods the rooms where people sleep."
From the worker's creation and tasks to the impact they hold on those outside of his workplace but affected by these efforts, David Salner captures in a nutshell the impact of new building invading and challenging set lives at all hours of day and night.
"Furnace" is another delightful example of a working man's experiences that moves from "...a lake of yellow steel/breaking the darkness, almost spectral,/sizzling with waves that bake my skin" to respite from the blasting work environment which is carried home; where the narrator says "...I pull a sheet over my skin/and dream of trees that never burn,/skim branches over sizzling waves."
These poems do more than tell stories or contrast lives past and present: they sing with literary allusions, metaphorical descriptions, as workaday worlds spill into daily living off-hours, steeped in such evocative descriptions as "the sour kiss of rubber put away wet."
The jobs and heritage of the blue-collar worker are captured in a collection that ideally will be used to illustrate these lives and their foundations and impact. Most poetry collections limit themselves, by their language and accessibility, to literary audiences; but Summer Words represents the magical ability to reach into the worker's life with the promise of familiar experience and values that can prompt discourse and insights among laborers and poets alike.
Ideally, Summer Words: New and Selected Poems will be selected for both literature libraries and by book clubs interested in works that translate the experiences of workers in new, accessible, enlightening ways to reach a wider audience than scholarly readers alone.Summer Words
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Intimate Souvenirs is a memoir with a
message that embraces a
coming-of-age story with a background in 1970s Brooklyn. This
Couteau's progressive work as an adult with the homeless and
America to Venezuela.
introductory passages of the opening 'Gravesend' that the 500+ pages of
coverage won't be either a tome or a waste of time to traverse, because
brings to vivid life his impressions of the world from an early age,
evolving place in it:
"I wash my hands at a sink in the boys’ bathroom,
then turn to a
kid next to me and ask: 'Do you realize that we have eight
more years of this?' I was only five years old, but
already I was counting the days of imprisonment at St. Anne’s
School. Like any other prison, the occupants were expected to wear
uniforms, for individuality was not to be tolerated."
first-person reflection. Dialogues with influencers and others in his
document the interactions which move him through different milieus of
"what's normal and what's crazy" as he embraces dreams, disparate
individuals around him, and new purposes to his life.
find these dialogues and interactions an intrinsic part of exploring
process and how divergent paths are considered. Couteau moves through
relationships and encounters that reinforce his own perceptions while
considering how poverty is tolerated and acknowledged in different
"...for Priscilla art was merely a “distraction”
that only the
most callous could enjoy without having a guilty conscience. After all,
as the world was beleaguered with poverty and homelessness, we were
focus on far more urgent matters."
through different worlds (including France), encountering literary,
and social figures, he finds a new sense of home, place, and purpose
translates to social and philosophical revelations about life,
method of engaging with other worlds is what links readers to his life
exuberant march of its encounters and revelations:
"With Marie and with a handful of others, I
succeeded in breaking
through this formal boundary line only because, all the while, I would
personal anecdotes about my own life, but couched in that witty,
sophisticated manner that makes such a confession not only forgivable
entertaining to the well-bred Parisienne.
As a result, with a little prodding, they’d incrementally divulge some
detail about themselves, perhaps as a means of not appearing to be
such a competition of wit."
Introduction by acclaimed novelist Robert Roper and an Afterword by
biographist Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno.
by in the blink of an eye as readers absorb an intriguing memoir that
a place in any library strong in memoirs that embrace literary,
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Tortured Road is a memoir about a forty-five-year-old man who
hits the wall
of depression. It follows his life up to this point and beyond,
starting with a
childhood in which racism was a powerful influencer and an intrinsic
the family belief system.
beliefs and rules emerge from a riveting account of a boy who grows up
believing he "can't do anything right," whose life lessons embrace
family legends and illusions as well as abuse.
cultivates an unusually candid form of self-reflection that reaches out
his readers: "At a young age, I
learned that extroverted people were more successful than introverted
and I was told that I was an extrovert. It felt like it was a choice
than an inherent trait. I learned that having time alone was wrong.
was sad. Time alone was selfish. I avoided and fought that bad place,
never learned the feeling of a solitary comfort zone."
influences translated to adult pursuits and perspectives which too
support Kind's own instincts and best interests: "As
I surface into the world, I’m a social chameleon, contorting
into a mistake-free human being. Each day, I mentally craft a handful
for my clients, continuing to perform as a witty extrovert. I exist in
of improv, always preparing standup comedy bits to please people."
It's rare to
memoir that so succinctly and straightforwardly translates the messages
childhood into the adult perceptions which lead to struggle and
scenarios. Kind's memoir succeeds in drawing important connections
experience and personality growth, offering many thought-provoking
for those struggling with early childhood mandates and their
delusional manias in which Kind "became a madman" to journal entries
that documented the thinking, logic, and processes that led him to
extraordinary reactions and behaviors to ordinary life challenges,
receive a powerful connection between outer and inner worlds. This
excels in examining a myriad of connections, such as the process of
political fervor and translating it into passionate ideas for change.
illness, and world events coalesce to bring Kind to the brink of both
and newfound realizations about himself, readers will find themselves
thoroughly immersed in the challenges he faces: “I’m
bouncing off the past and the future, past, future, past, future.
I can’t stay in the present.”
is a vivid
memoir that, more so than most, chronicles the early influences,
impact, and translation of childhood mandates and growth processes into
reactions and connections.
seeking memoirs about life changes, discovery, and recovery will find The
Long and Tortured Road a powerful testimony to the power of
perception in mental health struggles and transformative experiences.
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Amy J. Schultz
is a powerful photo-driven memoir
the roots of Texas and motherhood, and captures a social and cultural
expedition across Texas with a focus on mums and their mindsets. Its
first-person journey attracts from the start with a candid
that opens on the football field of Texas life:
pushed down on the football stadium that homecoming night, capping and
coagulating the din rising from the student section. Each individual
movement, and breath taken seemed to stick together in the atmosphere,
a singular, dense mass of joyful disharmonies.
I love it. When I’m in a big crowd like this one, I play a
game my mom
taught me back when I was a wiggly child sitting next to her at a
First, she told me, find the sound of one instrument. The trumpet,
the piano. Listen to its melody until you can follow its story. Once
understood, open your eardrums just a little in search of a
Try to add a third, then a fourth. Take care you don’t add too many
at once so that the first ones disappear back into the murk, because
instrument is equally important. As I applied her game to the
homecoming-related chatter around me, there were so many harmonic
which to choose..."
This passage captures the feel and process
of Mumentous in a nutshell, representing the rich
flavors that Amy J.
Schultz mixes into her story of Texas homecoming mums and the milieu
exhibits a special countenance to the world that is uniquely and "...outrageously
conspicuous and totally emboldened, just like a teenager making a big
our big, noisy world."
Texans, mothers, and those who would view
motherhood and Texans through a very different lens will find Schultz
her own revelations as she moves through this environment: "Acknowledging
mum-makers as entrepreneurs marked an important shift in my perception."
Readers expecting another focus on children
and family will find, instead, a richer vein of discussion that
profiles the Texas mum as a treasure in her own right, whether she's
for a team, creating her own, or embarking on proactive activities that
incorporate tradition with new engagements with life in various ways.
Rich black and white photos of homecoming
games and women living "the times of our lives" pepper the account
with a vigorous set of images that capture the cheering moments of
Her interviews with mums who reveal
different social and cultural aspects of this process and the unique
of the Texas mum are engrossing and enlightening:
Facebook, I’m still in touch with several of my high school friends.
take a photo of them from twenty years ago wearing their homecoming mum
paste their daughters’ faces on top of theirs. Nothing has changed.
in our hometown, the mums are much bigger now.'
From her insider’s vantage point, however, she sees many more who opt out. There are numerous reasons, not the least of which is sustained migration to Texas from just about everywhere in the country. The more non-Texans in a school district, the more diluted the enthusiasm can be for unusual traditions."
will attract, delight, and
who think it will be yet another coverage of motherhood alone. By
exposing the unique traditions of Texas mums, Schultz succeeds in
history that captures homecoming games, queens, and the powerful
the Texas mum, whose persona and drive are explored nowhere else.
Libraries and readers interested in women's
history, literature, and especially regional probes of women's
experiences will relish Mumentous for its lively
celebrations of the
Texan woman and the energy she brings to the playing field of women's
literature and life.
Return to Index
She Writes Press
1647424917 Paperback: $17.95 / Ebook $8.99
Nobody’s Daughter: A Memoir of Healing The Mother Wound is a study in survival and provides the experiences of Rica Ramos, whose mother "didn't have the courage to save (her)." As a result, Ramos endured sexual abuse in her childhood and longed for a heroine to intervene.
Her narrative is about women, mothers and daughters, and imperfection in mothers and children. It opens with Rica's search for the perfect wedding dress...without her mother. The effort calls forth a contrast in times and lives as she reflects, "The thought of Mom split me in two, part woman, part girl. My adult self said ‘focus on finding a dress, being a bride, living out my happily ever after.’ But my teenage self haunted me from the streets of Milwaukee."
There are many memoirs of sexual abuse on the market. Most reference a mother's presence fairly lightly, in passing. Nobody’s Daughter is satisfyingly different in its survey not only of the sexual trauma and experiences, but its analysis of a mother/daughter relationship that moves from childhood to adulthood to remain disconnected in many ways.
Another difference between this memoir and others is that Ramos reflects on impacts of not only her own life trajectory, but that of her sister and those around her. Her mother's ability to defend and question in certain situations (as when confronting a nurse about her low weight) is also presented ("Was this woman doing everything right? Seeing Mom’s concern sent a warm flicker through my body, a rush of pride for my mother, the momma bear ready to pounce.") to balance out and contrast her mother's choices and decisions.
Interactions with other female relatives, from Aunt Rachel to Grandma, interplay past events with the present-day world Ramos reflects in her own family as she questions the legacy she's handing down to future generations because of her experiences: "My mind went back to the conversation with Aunt Rachel. Suddenly, I had to know if I’d said terrible things to my son that stuck in his memory." As her self-analysis deepens, so do her realizations about her role in spreading her childhood damage: "Try as I might to remember, I didn’t know all the ways I’d failed my sons. All the splinters I plunged into their hearts."
Also key to the memoir is her sister Jesse's trauma and her different way of defying or bowing to the same events: "...my sister’s trauma was a spotlight that never dimmed, an agonizing beam on her conscience. Her guilt plagued her with questions: Wasn’t she the big sister, and shouldn’t she have protected her siblings? Shouldn’t she have protected herself? She was a child, victimized and traumatized — a fact she often forgot."
As Ramos embraces her memories and feelings about her parents, grandparents, and the childhood that influenced her, she creates a survey of different family members and considers their roles in events, pulling no punches in analyzing the wellsprings of her adult challenges and childhood angst.
emerges from the reflective process with grace and a new position
of power— a highly recommended read for anyone interested in self-help
strategies, memoirs of abuse and recovery, and those involved in
lives from the foundations of abuse to achieve empowerment:
so long I believed I could find healing in Mom’s love, in
something she might say, do, offer. Now I saw the error of my ways. I
the power I’d had all along, the strength and the will to nurture and
my own heart. Within the mother wound, my body held the imprint of my
But healing was attainable too. Healing was mine for the taking."
Return to Index
Like a Duck:
How a Mom with ADHD Led Her Neurodiverse Family to Peace of Mind chronicles Kim R. Livingston's battle
against the medical profession that sought to label her son as ADHD.
results of her journey led to not just one diagnosis, but insights
member of her family as a whole.
Livingston initially resisted the types of
diagnoses that inevitably lead to medicated responses: "He,
to be tested as a teen, but I never brought him in. Lack of attention
his problem. A bit of anxiety, maybe. Low self-esteem. Not ADHD. And I
that if he entered the clinic, he’d leave with a prescription. I’d
anyone to go through that screening process and come out clean."
Losing faith in traditional medicine's
approach to neurological and brain issues, she embraces functional
which is not often covered by health insurances.
Herself at one point one hundred pounds
overweight, prediabetic, and taking meds for high blood pressure and
Livingston's journey to find health answers that flew close to but
radar of conventional responses to ADHD reveals an undercurrent of
for families facing their own challenges with several
neurological problems living under one roof.
Any parent who has faced diverse challenges
in the family or their own mental and physical health struggles will
Like a Duck alternately surprisingly funny and
thought-provoking as it
navigates a medical system's rigid ways and a mother's medical, legal,
personal battles, both within the system and in her own home.
Like a Duck tackles many hard
questions about family
management, from issues of guardianship to medicine control and
adopting a candid, gritty tone about the obstacles of navigating daily
while being an activist for one's family member of any age:
to allay his fears about guardianship—fears that I’ll remove him from
current nursing home and send him far away to some cold institution
ones in textbooks on the history of psychiatric care, grainy photos
patients caged like rabid animals, quarantined for the safety of others.
'I just don’t want you to end up homeless again,' I tell him. I need the authority to prevent him from leaving this nursing home “against medical advice” when he has nowhere to go.
'Yeah, well, that’s my decision to make, isn’t it,' he says.
For a long time I thought he was right, and I’m still reluctant to take away his control of his own affairs—the one source of power he has. I don’t want to be his guardian. I just don’t know what else to do."
As life changes (such as college) loom,
Livingston finds ways of both supporting her family and acknowledging
strengths and weaknesses. Her candid assessments of self, family, and
systems provide both humor and powerful reflections on navigating
diagnoses, medical institutions, and revised objectives.
Her story is one that should be read by any
family whose makeup includes members who are neurologically diverse. Walks
Like a Duck deserves profile in medical and general-interest
also will provide much food for thought in reading groups consisting of
parents, psychology groups devoted to life skills and coping methods,
clubs interested in memoirs about parenting children with disabilities.
Return to Index
978-1-7345418-6-1 $13.99 print/$4.99 ebook
AfterStrike is an Agent Dallas thriller whose title
refers to the aftereffects of a lightning strike on a woman's memory
Touched by fire, Remi's memories are taken, and she finds herself in a
dangerous situation caused by her inability to perceive the dangerous
toed in her life before the lightening disintegrated her
While pieces of her past have returned to
tantalize her, the rest of it is still a total blank. This situation is
complicated when she is kidnapped by a crime-family patriarch,
she was in hiding from him and is now forced to carry out his vendetta,
realizes that underlying traumas of the past are affecting her
survival ability—even though she no longer remembers them.
she’d been hiding from had finally found her." This passage also should include
"whatever," because Remi's process of rediscovering her motivations,
influences, and survival capacity also unearths these traumas, forcing
deal with them in new ways.
When does undercover FBI Agent Jamie Dallas
enter this picture? Not until Chapter 15, where her research reveals an
intriguing connection to an old case. This sends her on a mission that
intersects with Remi's life in an unusual manner.
L.J. Sellers takes the time to recreate the
weeks before the lightning strike, setting the stage by building Remi's
world before entering the dangerous crime ring which also strikes Remi,
changing her life in unpredictable ways.
This lends a psychological edge to the thriller
component that will attract and satisfy readers seeking plots based as
character growth and discovery as on the criminal elements that impact
The tension is well developed, the
psychology astute, and the characters realistic as they make inquiries
their lives and new discoveries about the turbulent present.
Dallas's probe of the Sebastiano family’s
crimes leads her on a dangerous path as Remi's memory issues create an
backdrop for the pursuit of the truth.
Readers won't expect the romance that
evolves from interpersonal connections and new revelations, but the
undercurrent that is present from the start swells into something
The result is a sizzling thriller that
simmers with inquiry, revelation, and inspections that probe not just
but redemption and personal risk on the parts of Dallas, Remi, and
Libraries and readers seeking thrillers that
pose equally intriguing psychological questions will find AfterStrike
powerful study in survival and discovery whose underlying themes linger
mind long after the reading.
Return to Index
$15.99 Hardcover/$10.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
A.N.D.: Acute Nepali Disorder provides
another Ben Molina thriller,
exploring Ben's shifting perception of his place in yet another world
events test his mettle and approach to life.
when an elegant Indian woman unexpectedly sits at his table in a
restaurant and issues a challenge: "I
will pay you one million euro if you can prove that my uncle murdered
– the King of Nepal."
No sooner is
offer extended than a spray of bullets causes everyone to dive for
he emerges, his mysterious companion has vanished, leaving only her
offer in his thoughts and driving him to take on a case that is as
social stratas come to life as Ben hurdles down the streets of Mumbai,
the slums of Kathmandu, and traverses the countryside in search of
is a mental process that draws readers on more than just an
as Ben moves from his initial freelance assignment to cover a terrorist
in Mumbai to assume an active role influencing unfolding events.
enemies and allies coalesce with circumstances that drive Ben further
danger as interrogations, mercenaries, and kidnappings emerge.
develops an excellent interplay between action and psychological
At no time does the reader find their attention wandering as Ben moves
confrontation to another, handling situations that demand he adjust his
of viewing the world and interacting with others: "Maybe
I haven’t just saved her life, but I was here to protect
her whether she liked it or not, even though she has been lying ever
first met. I deserved some respect."
leads him to the truth, Ben discovers that his journalistic skills have
involved him in a well-fabricated tissue of lies that unfolds to reveal
surprising conclusions and connections based on historically accurate
and Nepalese cultural inspections.
The story is
of fiction, but blends real events into the plot to gain a level of
believability that reflects the country's poverty and struggles as well
Ben's emotional challenges in handling these issues.
seeking thrillers that go above and beyond action-packed will find the
political, and psychological undercurrents supporting A.N.D.:
Acute Nepali Disorder produce a thoroughly engrossing,
Return to Index
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
978-1-5092-4132-3 $16.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Imagine a female version of
James Bond whose sense of
curiosity and proactive thinking lands her in deep waters, but also
out again in the most amazing ways. The second book in the Spider Green
Series, Arid Sea, is a study in
intrigue that opens in the Czech Republic with the prayers of a former
girl facing a final release from her bondage as a sex slave to the
Mafia, which has been her life since she was abducted.
It takes only a few days' events more for protagonist, Navy lawyer Commander Faydra Green, to walk into center stage limelight in her latest case, which involves a special mission to tackle one of the nation's wealthiest men. Aided by her own convictions and the unlikely help of both a CIA operative and a Chicago mafia crime boss, Faydra's foray into international waters becomes stormy as she confronts forces beyond her experience and finds her mission to track down a missing retired naval officer goes above and beyond her job description.
Fay's half-sister, Petty
Officer J. Pearce, joins her foray into
questions about why and how Admiral Alvin Joe has vanished as Fay
ultimate objective and faces new challenges to her romantic life
It's a challenge to present the
operating fields of
distinctly different milieus, from international tension to trouble at
but Norm Harris achieve this through a blend of thriller tension
relationship inquiries that tie together such seemingly disparate
Native American Indian heritage, genderqueer characters whose real
prove mercurial, and a case of amnesia that adds additional and special
challenges to Fay's pursuit of the convoluted truth.
So many threads are
readers might think Arid
Sea might also be a
confusion, but the links between characters and the situations that
prove logical and easily digestible as Harris moves his audience into
situations that pose surprises and delightful twists throughout.
From the dangerous deals
that underlie seemingly normal
community members and actions to the intrigue that Faye navigates with
increasing knowledge about not only political and criminal elements,
of her own heart, Harris creates a powerful thriller whose force comes
inspections of a flexible female protagonist whose courage and
realistic and absorbing.
participation in the grim and dangerous op had served as her attempt to
heart and soul straight with her country, her maker, and herself."
Libraries and readers
seeking thrillers driven by female
experiences, relationships, and savvy will find Arid
Sea a top-notch production that requires no prior
with the first book in order to prove immediately accessible and
engrossing. Its astute juxtaposition of military and political power
impeccably crafted, especially recommended for thriller audiences who
their female leaders powerful and their plots unpredictable.
Return to Index
Bruce M. Perrin
Mind Sleuth Publications
ASIN: B0BWWYFV8Y $3.99 ebook
The Beating Heart of a Mind adds to the blossoming Mind Sleuth series with a vivid story of corporate pressures, marital discord, suicide, and a mystery. These lead P.I. Rebecca Marte on a complicated journey to uncover the motivations behind the bullying in the boardroom that ultimately leads to the company president’s death.
Rebecca's new client (a friend of the dead man's wife, Nicole Veles) paints a vivid picture of the influences that led to the president's demise and the succession of his most virulent opponent. Once Rebecca accepts the job, however, she comes to perceive that her new client's psychological history may have contributed to the woman’s suspicions more than the facts of the case.
As Rebecca delves into a series of events that expose the underbelly of interpersonal and business relationships, she comes to believe that the truth lies hidden among the fabrications truly believed and those constructed solely to deceive.
As with his previous mysteries, Bruce M. Perrin excels in an investigative profile that is as much a psychological analysis as a detective’s deductions. The business components of decisions are nicely presented during the course of Rebecca's discoveries:
"The implication was clear enough to Rebecca. If Whitten had been adjusting the time when losses were taken, he could create the appearance of cause and effect when there was none. Peterson messes up and soon after, the company suffers the consequences. And with enough repetitions of that pattern, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Investors hear that HomeRight had to revoke a personnel policy three days after instituting it, and they pull more of their money out. They don’t care how or why the misstep occurred, or even if it has financial implications. To them, it’s just another instance of a pattern they’ve already seen too often."
The story unfolds a sense of discovery and insights about business processes, interpersonal relationships, and professional and personal defamation, introducing moral and ethical conundrums on all sides.
well-developed, whether it's psychological revelations that involve
more deeply in her client's life than she'd imagined, the wedge between
and investigator driven home by the victim’s wife, or the probe of a
structure that supports dangerous undercurrents.
The Beating Heart of a Mind is highly
recommended for mystery
libraries and readers, but its strength goes beyond the usual whodunit.
Ideally, it will also be enjoyed by business readers and used as
material in book clubs devoted to novels of psychological, business,
inspection, as well.
Return to Index
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
No sooner does one funeral end than another
death looms. That's what ex-wife Kate O'Brien discovers in Before
Knows You’re Dead. While she was in Ireland laying her mother
to rest, her ex-husband Harry Johnson
died. Or so
they say—because nobody wants
to talk about him. This secrecy leads Kate on a probe through the
Harry's life and legacy, leading to circumstances which implicate her
Setting aside well-meaning
advice to let this situation go, Kate pursues the truth, even though
question her motivation: "It’s just
that it all happened too quickly and too quietly. I even resorted to
myself up for heart-ache by texting and calling my kids. I’ve heard
back from anyone. Am I crazy to wonder if Harry is still alive?”
Humor sends an undercurrent of surprise
through the story ("...Harry probably is, as my dad would
say, ‘on the
wrong side of the grass.’”) as wry examination turns into
observations to involve Kate in a puzzle that goes even deeper than
Can someone be in two places—including
herself? Kate's pursuit of the truth involves her family and threatens
different ways: "Kate wasn’t sure if her dad was
hallucinating or there
actually was someone threatening him. All she knew was her dad was
and she needed to be there to calm his fears. They had switched roles;
the adult, and he the frightened child."
Readers who join Kate on her search for
answers will find plenty of surprise twists and turns as the plot
mystery is strengthened by strong character developments that build
persona, then challenge it with unexpected moments of revelation,
and impossible truths.
Libraries and readers seeking a mystery that
strongly rests on the foundations of hidden truths and impossible
will find the intrigue and mystery finely tuned in Before the
You’re Dead, which travels full-circle to lead Kate and her
breakthroughs they'll never see coming ... including revenge.
Return to Index
In The Burden of Memory, retired college
professor Robert Russell is just looking for a peaceful place to pen
novel. The Low Country of Beaufort, South Carolina seems the perfect
settle into his inherent shyness and hermit tendencies (and into his
craft in life), but when he witnesses a brutal murder, everything
shifts in an
As he finds
living a drama that he never could have developed from fiction writing,
finds that his lifelong ambitions (which seem to always have been
come full circle into realization in not just unusual, but terrible
circumstances thwart both his tendency towards isolation and his ennui
creating his masterpiece:
"He wanted to be an imaginative writer, and he had
stories every spare minute he could get during the war, stories that
happened to him but hadn’t. Or stories that may have happened to
others. But he
felt untrained. Nothing ever turned out right. And he never finished
"could have happened to him but didn't" becomes one that is all too
real and did. As Robert navigates unfamiliar territory that tests both
ability to survive and his creative craft, readers become immersed in a
scenario that forces a literary recluse to emerge from his chrysalis of
a literary thriller that is powerfully rendered in both psychological
action arenas. He unfolds the revelations and discoveries that prompt
Robert, testing this Vietnam vet's already-vetted ability to survive
As he falls
into an unexpected
romance as well as a struggle for literary achievement and survival,
probes the underworld of human trafficking and finds himself bending
wind, both in his investigation and his own psyche: "Everything
had changed now. The murder of the boy had opened him
up, somehow, but he had no real idea why. He had seen plenty of boys
Well, now it seemed he had no discipline, no control. He just took what
only a powerful story of intrigue, but an equally potent story about
novel and a new life. Russell's writing will just have to wait.
it's also rebuilding itself from the foundations of new experiences as
sets aside his lifelong ambition to pursue a very different course of
romance, the murder scenario, and newfound connections between past and
events and responses, The Burden of
Memory proves a far more challenging, realistic, and
than the usual genre thriller.
and insights into a would-be writer's psyche as he moves from isolation
immersion makes for a compelling tale filled with not just unusual
turns, but psychological depth and social insights. Is Robert a hero,
achiever, a survivor—or dangerously flawed?
seeking thrillers that operate on several levels of value will find The Burden of Memory a powerful story of
one man's walk out of his world and into his purpose, promise, and
Return to Index
The Dark Side of Grace
Terra Nova Books
traumatic experiences can find a life of peace despite relentless
can then live beyond those traumas. In doing so, they rise up and
beacons of hope to others.”
Dark Side of
Grace is a thriller that opens not with a bang, but with a
whisper of the
scenic beauty and wonder of a typical New Mexico morning and its
Journalist Kevin Pitcairn and the long-time love of his life, Maria
Maldonado, are journeying from New Mexico's high desert to the state's
for a weekend getaway when all hell breaks loose.
Trouble always seems to find
them no matter how far they
travel. In this case, Kevin and Maria Elena drive straight into a
bombing and a threat that commands their attention and action when a
retreat is torched.
Readers may not anticipate
the spiritual and
philosophical reflections which evolve from the thriller's
scenarios, but Ronald Chapman liberally sprinkles and dusts his
with bigger-picture quests and revelations that test Kevin and Maria
friendships and life experiences: "I
guess Bill W was right when he said we would never understand what was
in the present moment until after it was finished."
As events unfold, both
beliefs and the experiences of
survivors receive close examination as Kevin pursues answers and
ongoing dangerous situations he never saw coming.
Chapman's exploration of
these questions and revelations
adds a spiritual component to the story that will especially delight
From long-held dreams that
subconsciously point to new
directions of possibility to a priest who employs Jungian analysis to
Kevin tap into his own potentials and spirit, The
Dark Side of
Grace employs many different devices of revelation and
embrace the darker facets of life and the realities of death.
Libraries and readers
seeking a thriller that goes above
and beyond in presenting a powerful sense of place and spirit as
struggle not just with dangerous forces, but with their own choices and
opportunities, will find The Dark Side of
Grace just as thought-provoking as it is action-packed.
Return to Index
in 1955, Fosterdale small-town police chief Art Moran lost everything
life during an investigation of a mountain cult. The murder that
actions and shut down his private life remained unsolved.
himself drawn back into the fold of an unsolved crime and its
tentacles of impact when he is tapped to once again tackle the
crime's lingering impact.
innate psychic sense of impending doom. It was active in 1955, and it
once again to forewarn him that the upstate New York small town of
holds not just answers, but new threats.
weaves a story that comes to rest firmly on the shoulders of small-town
politics, racism, and underlying, simmering brutality that emerges from
steeped in church bake sales, the murder-suicide and fire that
Diamond City events to reach and impact neighboring Fosterdale, and the
atmosphere and changing times of modern trends which change the faces
towns. One such example is the changes experienced by the town of
"Just by looking at the progression of buildings,
fol-low the prosperity and lack thereof throughout the town’s years.
were good years, based on the number of brick-faced buildings that bore
decade on their façade. The 1920s saw another boom. But the next wave
buildings didn’t come until the 1950s and a few in the 1970s. All of
buildings now needed new façades, looking dated and tired. Most of the
buildings were empty. Their dirty store-fronts stared dully onto the
The mile-long strip along Broadway from Jefferson Street to Columbia
also empty of foot traffic, except in front of the post office. It
always been this way. For eighty years, this single street had been the
of the county. In its day it boasted dress shops, restaurants, two
stores, a pharmacy, and a few dive bars. Now people shopped in the
at the edges of town or drove to Midville in Harris County where there
large shopping mall with a movie theater."
time well spent, because this detailed atmosphere is one of the
forces promoting readers to pursue a story immersed in the unfolding
small towns and residents who find their lives in flux.
How does an
investigator from 1955 become the focal point in a new inquiry?
intersection of past and future events creates a dichotomy that shifts
of power, prejudices, and the truth.
his life to recover from the last encounter. It's taken all his life to
revelations about his life choices, decisions, and the impact of his
perspective on his future progression.
In the end, Diamond City is more than a murder mystery, but a probe of the beliefs and underlying motivations of individuals and small towns that comes together in a fiery blast of thought-provokingly vivid revelations: "It’s easy to love the dead. The dead never change, they never hurt you, they never argue with you or disagree. They don’t just remain an image of perfection. Rather, the longer they are dead the more perfect they become."
the trappings of intrigue will find Diamond
City so much more. It's a study in small-town psyches and
growth that leads
full circle into forks in roads and life that bring flowering, closure,
opportunities to not just Art, but Donny, Tirzah, and other small-town
Return to Index
Lost Canyon Press LLC
978-1948003117 $16.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Fans of Jurassic Park and Janice Boekhoff's
Judgment' series receive a dinosaur/genetic engineering adventure
ensconced in the trappings of surprise and thriller tension. Although Execution Island is the third book in
the series, it stands nicely alone for newcomers, including a basic
introduction that sets the premise of a futuristic justice system
island of dinosaurs where "...death
row inmates are given a choice: immediate execution or … exile to
Oakley Laveau is wrongly convicted of a murder and sent to said island,
story appears to be at an end. In fact, it's only beginning as she
the truth about her own genetic manipulation and situations which
mysteries in Execution Island.
on the island, but the truth isn't about to set her free anytime soon.
Acknowledging what she is and what she was created for is just part of
challenge of employing her enhanced genetics in a venture that goes
beyond her assassin skills.
As she faces
adversary accomplished in 'undetectable murder' and realizes that there
good choices in her quest, Oakley discovers that her fight to live free
one motivation for solving the mysteries of her life purpose and
team up with
her sibling (who is also genetically enhanced and has been her
Oakley discovers that her quest for the truth and her pursuit of who
is powers an underlying horror that will not only change her life and
likely demise, but will alter the game plans of those connected to her.
satisfyingly complex cat-and-mouse game features major players who must
into their own psyches and origins in order to emerge victorious on a
field controlled by forces they are ill equipped to handle.
Oakley, Lumas, Auburn, and others come to life, swirling and dancing
each other as unexpected events keep outcomes mercurial and characters
about their next moves.
thriller that is heavy in surprises (including a glimpse of faith),
thought-provoking in its considerations of power plays and their
and readers will find Execution Island rich
in action-packed confrontations designed to keep them guessing to the
Return to Index
Hawk Hill Literary
978-1-7366108-3-1 $4.99 ebook/$15.99 Print
Judgment Day is not a novel about the end
of the world, but the
story of the end of one woman's world. Magnolia Kanaranzi has just been
to the US Senate when a probe of her past reveals that she once
murder her mother. Even her powerful lawyer seemingly admits defeat
seeks to have her declared unfit to stand trial, much less serve her
Bishop Pollock uncovers the truth—but instead of redeeming her and
her good name, it only mires her in further conundrums that force her
into hiding to avoid prosecution and a mental institution.
On the run,
lured back by the prospect of reconciliation with her now-adult
Hamilton Blethen, whom she abandoned when he was four years old.
too, is at
a crossroads. His grandmother's murderer has been identified, and his
mother is back in his life. Sadly, they appear to be one and the same.
needs answers to his questions. Only his mother can provide them. He
to confront her, and his past, to get them.
powerful interplay between issues of justice, family connections, and
psychological undercurrents that shake not just a family, but the
One of the
the thriller (and key to understanding the deeper meaning of its title)
forged art piece of Joan Miro's 'The Reaper.'
a prison system which threatens Magnolia's life to psychological
that illustrate the truth, Jung crafts a fine tension between legal and
victim and who is the villain, in such matters? Judgment
Day makes you think.
Its deep inspections of motive and perception and its
insights into the
criminal law system's successes and failures creates a story that is
highly recommended for thriller readers interested in justice,
Libraries and readers seeking solid tension development, good characterization, and twists and turns they won't see coming will find Judgment Day an astute examination of escape, liberation, and the inexorable cost of revealing the truth.Judgment Day
Return to Index
David Unger, PhD
Murder mystery readers are in for a treat
with A Lesson in Woo-Woo and Murder,
which joins others in the "Lessons" series exploring psychotherapist
David Unger's probes into murky matters of the mind.
Here, several therapy clients have paid for
him to work at the Whole Life Expo, a bastion of self-care, healing,
age exhibits. David is more than the usual therapist, sporting a
of training and psychic expertise that enhances his problem-solving
But, is this enough to tackle bigger pictures when two Tantric sex
practitioners and a chiropractor suddenly collapse
and die in an
environment where paranormal influences abound? Maybe.
David is not an inherent believer in special
abilities, even though he keeps being drawn into unbelievable
where he's forced to exhibit extraordinary powers of deduction to solve
In fact, he doesn't "...participate
in a lot of “otherworldly, self-enhancing, spiritually awakening”
I don’t even know if I’ve had any of those experiences, but perhaps I
have." He "might buy a few shares
in the woo-woo world, but I wouldn’t be a big investor." The
reason he's at the expo is because he has a job to do.
The job turns out to be an immersive
experience that carries David far further into this world than he ever
expected, augmenting his psychological training with a sleuth's eye for
Did UFOs commit murder? Can he foresee the
future? Or does the trouble stem from pure psychological complexity,
David is already trained to handle?
provides an unsettlingly realistic murder story that is backed by his
professional expertise in psychology, presenting a first-person
that might mirror the author's own personality and approach to life.
elements create an especially engrossing, believable milieu that brings
character and the new age world of psychic involvements to life as he
astute are references to the psychotherapy techniques that come in
other problem-solving situations: "In
A Lesson in Cowboys and Murder,
I used a therapeutic technique called doubling, where I stood behind
suspects and said out loud what I thought they would be saying if they
holding it in. It can move things along."
teller Madame Vadama becomes a focal point, readers will be drawn not
the new age environment and murder, but Dr. Unger's own shrewd
personalities and possibilities.
of murder and mind probe is particularly well done, creating a
as perceptive in its psychological complexity as it is in its portrait
sleuthing as Dr. Unger confronts good and evil in the healing world and
romantic possibilities in the process.
readers seeking a powerful tale that comes across as realistically
will find A
Lesson in Woo-Woo and Murder alternatively funny,
thought-provoking, and filled with satisfyingly surprising twists and
Return to Index
One of Ours
Level Best Books
One of Ours is the fourth mystery in the
Detective Joe Erickson
series, hitting Joe too close to home with the fatal shooting of a
captain Joe knew well. The captain was working on his last case, a cold
before his demise. Joe takes up the reins of this mission well knowing
might lead him into the same kind of danger before he can expose the
realize is that the trail leads not to one murderer, but political
and conspiracy that is worth killing for ... again and again.
builds satisfying intrigue and personal relationships into the story,
within Joe's circle of fellow officers and at home, in his life with
PTSD as well as ongoing threats from the Scalise crime family, whom he
will try to kill him again, since he busted Vincent Scalise for human
trafficking and attempted murder for bombing his car.
expose corruption. Joe needs to bring the perps to justice to account
injury to victims. This mission sends him on a dangerous path that
circle again as he confronts molesters, fine-tunes undercover cops and
operations, and moves ever closer to a truth that will either rock his
solve a big crime puzzle.
between characters and crime are especially well done. Joe comes across
realistic person whose personal, political, and career dilemmas create
perfect storm of controversy, demanding of him a series of
in deductive reasoning.
including newcomers to Joe Erickson's world, will find One
of Ours compelling, action-packed, and hard to put down,
libraries looking for satisfying intrigue and puzzle-solving paired
psychological intrigue will find the story a fine addition to any
police procedural mystery collection.
Return to Index
William J. Borak
Stranger on the Shore opens on a twilight
evening at the Jersey
shore, Chris's favorite time of day. A year ago, he was reaching the
of his career at the same time as his love for Theresa was cresting.
in the blink of an eye. Little does he know, now, that he stands at
crossroad—that of restarting his life anew.
presents a series of entwining personalities and lives in a story that
from the ashes of death and addiction to assume quite a different
than readers might expect from its opening lines.
of this mystery lies in its evolving interactions between disparate
the forces that drive them in unexpected directions. This approach
entwined series of stories that flow between characters' lives like the
of a Google search.
with a mysterious woman (who leads him to another woman who not only
lot like Theresa, but apparently has many of her memories) evolves into
growing revelations about a dangerous threat that immerses Chris and
in a deadly world where romance and destiny entwine.
Arielle introduces him not just to Theresa's look-alike, but to new
realizations he never could have imagined. As he contemplates her
meaning, incorporating Marisa into his business world while pursuing
identity, readers embark on a series of inquiries that delve into
realms of possibility as well as mystery.
creates a story that is not your usual mystery. It's more than a
romance, too, and
is more grounded in alternate and conflicting possibilities than the
looking for stories of love, growth, recovery, and discovery will find
these facets and more as Chris grows into his new life with more than
question about its people and purposes.
Return to Index
979-8-987697 1-08 $9.00 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Summer of Angels introduces a different
twist on the usual murder
mystery by placing the murderous event in the future and the
to her name in more ways than one. She's a psychic meteorologist about
a storm of a very different nature when she experiences a nighttime
about the future and an old man's demise.
lives up to his name. As an intuitive attorney, he's also committed to
others (sometimes in unusual ways). His flexibility of belief allows
realize that Gayle's vision could represent an opportunity for them
solve a problem that hasn't even occurred yet.
But it will,
tension in just the right way. Gayle's dream awakens her and injects
into her life as she realizes she has been uniquely tapped to both
old man and live up to the dream's opportunity for her to do good in
Her "slightly psychic" traits have afforded her enough flexibility in
belief that she can recognize this opportunity for what it is, while
ability to follow "signs from heaven" leads her in the right
explanations lend a believable flavor to the unfolding story as Gayle
step into their talents in a very different way.
developing tension within characters that embrace proactive new roles
problem-solve outside their usual environments lends a delicate reality
puzzles they encounter both within and outside themselves.
with loves in perhaps predictable paths, but with enough twists and
even savvy mystery fans won't foresee some of these events until they
become involved and Gayle comes to realize that Alex may have been
from above," the plot thickens. So does the reader's interest, due to
exquisite revelations that embed the mystery component with spiritual
"He was calling you in the dream, Gayle. But your
helping too. It was meant to be. It’s really extraordinary. You have to
work. You have a team now to help."
looking for mysteries that incorporate spiritual components and many
about past, present, and future life connections will find Summer of Angels attractive and
mission is a
force to reckon with. So is Summer of
Angels, which juxtaposes secrets with surprises about belief
right up to
its unexpected conclusion.
Return to Index
And Union No
978-1-7377669-2-6 $11.99 print/$5.99 ebook
And Union No More is a historical novel that precedes the Civil War era. It depicts the impact of the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and the rush by antislavery and proslavery forces of the times to gain the majority of settlers in the Kansas Territory, to make it either a free or an enslaved state when it enters the Union.
The novel opens with a personal bang that
acknowledges "...startling a man sleeping with a loaded
pistol at his
side was not a good idea." Nor is it a good idea to presume
land of prairies and low population isn't a pivot point in the
process, because the crossroads Kansas stands at is one which is both
and reflected by the quandaries the nation faces over slavery.
An attack on Lawrence, the town that served
as the headquarters of the free-state movement in the Kansas Territory,
finally happened, involving former Ohio congressman Monty Tolliver (who
moved to the area to promote its status as a free state) and younger
Robert (also new to the state) in a conflict that tests the future of
won't expect the specter of a double
murder that lends an investigative tone apart from the political
that concurrently develops, but Stan
Haynes excels at creating subplots that bring to life different aspects
culture and figures of 1850s Kansas.
figures which permeate the story (such as Abe Lincoln and abolitionist John Brown) give further
reinforcement to the real events that took place during these times,
them in a perspective that historical novel readers will appreciate as
intrigue, mystery, and social and political confrontations unfold.
fate of Kansas will be decided."
It doesn't just happen at the constitutional convention Robert is
for his newspaper, but in the hearts and minds of individuals on both
are motivated to step beyond their comfort zones and abilities to
progress of not just a state, but a nation.
From issues of justice and spying to
cover-ups and hidden truths, Haynes creates a vivid and involving story
readers follow the clues and influences that direct Monty and Robert
unfamiliar avenues of inspection and analysis.
Libraries and readers seeking a historical
novel that incorporates the drama of a thriller, the intrigue of a
the historical foundations of fact, cementing all with solid
and a realistic sense of place and time, will find And Union
especially strong in creating a milieu that explains America's past and
Kansas's role in creating the freedoms the country is based upon.
Return to Index
At the Seams
Pamela Gwyn Kripke
the Seams is a novel of family
loss that contains
elements of pain and recovery that could prove triggers to readers who
experienced similar tragedy in their lives. This warning aside, At
cultivates a winning sense of discovery and revival. It's presented
perspective of a precocious eight-year-old who discovers that a baby
her mother died in the hospital before she could begin to know or
Kate's discovery leads to a series of
investigations and revelations that follow her into adulthood as she
her own life and a generational loss that returns to haunt her
How does a newborn, healthy baby suddenly
die in the hospital? It's a mystery that emerges out of the blue when a
conversation with her mother reveals part of the truth.
The tale is narrated by Kate, a grandchild
whose legacy is presented in a more forthright manner by her mother,
still comes shrouded in a mystery that requires further explanation. As
investigation unravels family secrets, motivations for keeping them,
the truth, readers become immersed in a vivid saga spiced with the
intergenerational experiences of a family motivated to resist reality.
does a fine job of exploring the evolving circumstances from the
of a child who grows into the ability to pursue answers to these
load me up at
eight years old with the scary death of a person who could have been an
who could have looked like my mom, or me, who could have painted and
we did, who could have crossed his arms that way, our way, when he
I need to know about him for some reason, a reason that she didn’t
herself? Was she trying to make sense of the death, after so many
saying it out loud?"
The strength of this story lies
not so much in the
original loss, but the long-term impact it has on the entire family
as secrets are agreed to, kept, and passed down between generations.
Kate's pursuit strengthens when,
as a single
mother, she finds these patterns unexpectedly repeating in her own life
choices. The impulse to hide, disguise, and modify reality is one that
handed down quite inadvertently on some levels and more purposely on
and it prompts Kate to grow and pursue where other family members have
into quiet complacence.
Her revelations aren't always welcomed by her family. In fact, they think she's gone overboard in her focus: "Was it possible that Grandma Lilly wasn’t just homesick? Had she forced the baby’s death into oblivion in order to survive all these years, only to have it destroy her now? Or was I too obsessed to see straight? Everyone said I was obsessed."
there such a thing as too much information? Not to Kate's mind. Readers
follow her pursuit will find much food for thought in her story,
sparking of family resistance and reactions and the links between her
patterns and those mirrored in her grandparents' choices.
clubs looking for vivid stories of loss and its resounding impact on
generational connections and life patterns will find much food for
discussion in At the Seams,
novel which unravels not just the truth, but the hidden costs of
Return to Index
979-8-9866266-3-5 $17.85 Paper/$9.85 Kindle
Dessert with Buddha blends spirituality
growth in a novel that follows Dinner
with Buddha's spiritual road trip and completes the fourth
and final book
in the series. Its special flavor of spiritual and social examination
leave readers hungry for more, yet sated by considerations which pique
with new flavors of inspection and realization.
paragraphs explore the fine art of letting go in 2022; from a
beloved family house to a sense of power and control over self and
of chance, the protagonist embarks on a journey filled with insights
explorations. As eccentric monk Volya Rinpoche and his brother-in-law
enter into new paths and conversations about spirituality, readers are
into a milieu in which the narrator explores his expectations and
convictions about life:
"Almost daily, Rinpoche—and/or my sister—would
surprise me in one
way or another, as if to underline the fact that, while we could make
plans we wanted, we could never really know what would happen a month,
or even a few seconds in the future. I accepted this, in theory. In
it often immersed me in a hot, bubbling pool of irritation. Still, over
I'd come to admit that I was continually living in the future, mentally
planning out my hours, days, and weeks as a kind of hedge against
leads a thinking reader to consider similar perspectives about life's
as the road trip results in confrontations with uncomfortable truths
realizations about life.
especially adept at exploring the intersections between belief systems,
contrasting Rinpoche's unshakable encounters with Christians and
the psyches of believers who act and react in different ways. The
often delightfully revealing and thought-provoking:
"At that moment I came to an understanding of what
I had seen and
sensed the night before, that strange connection between Andalusia and
They were both, in their own way, innocent, doubtless, hard to fluster,
Rinpoche had instinctively found that common territory with her. The
difference, to my way of thinking at least, was that Rinpoche's
like pure spring water flowing out of the earth, and Andalusia's was
distilled water in a bottle on a pharmacy shelf. His seemed to come
within, and hers from without, something manufactured, even a bit
way seemed extremely broad and all-embracing, and hers narrowed by the
of severe judgment."
readers of Dessert with Buddha will
already have a
basic knowledge of Buddhism and a questioning mind. Those ready to
embark on an
armchair road trip with two characters whose journey and encounters
enlightenment and revelations will find much food for thought here,
clubs, in particular, can use in discussions of novels that incorporate
powerful spiritual and growth components.
looking for a lively series of dialogues and encounters between belief
and those holding them close will find Dessert
with Buddha a deliciously attractive story.
Return to Index
is a novel about Helena Handbasket,
a former housekeeper whose run of good luck has resulted in an
fortune, a mansion, and a loving husband and family. All these would
add solidity to her life; but in actuality, too much good fortune can
cracks under pressure.
bad enough that her husband
has left town and her community status has changed, but Helena then
suspect in a murder case. She embarks on a journey to clear her name,
embroiled in a murder investigation that strikes at the very heart of
small-town politics and special interests.
atmosphere and culture of Cape
Cod come alive as the story courses through Provincetown events, fueled
fire of conviction and tenacity that leads Helena to make discoveries
whimsical, thought-provoking, and downright dangerous.
C. Burch introduces the story with a map and a somewhat
daunting-appearing list of characters which range from central figures
appearances featured in the story. While this might portend a
the novel then progresses on a path which is emotionally compelling and
interactive, lending vigor and personality to each of the characters
her readers come into contact with.
aspiring socialites and undercover cops to Helena's natural
curiosity (which sometimes injects too much complexity and trouble into
investigation), readers receive much more than a 'whodunnit'. They are
to a romp through the undercurrents and trials of Cape Cod and
community as Helena traverses her environment with a witty, astute
exploring different cultures and interactions:
Helena said, “you picked the right moment. I was up until two drinking
champagne, and what is it now? Seven in the morning? I don’t think I’d
curious if you told me you were taking up drag.”
friendships to inevitable conversations that pair discretion
with observations of the firebrand Helena has become in the community, The
Distance Between Us blends insights into the drag community
passion for justice and her involvement in different definitions of
she's mired in personal, political, or social conundrums,
there's one thing Helena profiles and represents—the powerful heartbeat
community at odds with growing fame and its impact on individual ways
book clubs, and libraries seeking LGBTQ+ examinations, Cape
Cod cultural inspections, mysteries, and novels packed with social
welcome the dual threads of humor and serious inspection that capture
multifaceted world of Cape Cod, a microcosm of small-town experiences
Return to Index
Legacy Book Press LLC
get closer to the psyche, history, and currents of the American family
take a hard look at the novel Dreams of
Arcadia. It embraces these facets and more as it follows the
life of city
veterinarian Nate Holub, who moves to his dead father's Texas home town
become a rural vet and learn more about his father's life.
proves and tests his ability to adapt, adjust what he's been raised
a different truth, and reinforce his ties with both nature and family.
quest comes with a heavy price tag, but it also brings newfound
about his family ties and his own legacy as he uncovers local and
secrets and begins to understand the undercurrents influencing his own
locals, the dialogues between them, and Brian Porter's well spent time
building Texas culture and atmosphere brings readers right into this
however foreign it might first seem. This is an achievement,
use of the third person tends to accompany an inherent observational
that first-person descriptions cultivate, in contrast.
lines describe limited veterinary services and why Nate's pursuit will
valuable to the community, while descriptions of the places he visits
the all-important backdrops and people supporting his pursuits:
"The hardwood floor creaked as Nate walked in, and
a small bell on
the door jingled. The room was long and narrow with a meat display case
front, tables in the middle, and pits in the back. Fans extended down
tall, pressed tin ceiling. The brick peeked out on the faded walls,
except for a couple of dusty deer heads, an unplugged neon Pearl Beer
a few unframed yellowing photographs. The odor of smoked meat
square inch of the place."
connect a sense of place and purpose with bigger-picture reflections on
role and efforts:
"The distant hills glowed vividly, every feature of
the land sharp
and unmistakable, every tree, barn roof, and fence post scrubbed clean.
cold purifying rain had seemingly washed away the world’s ills—all of
hatred, greed, and ignorance—leaving a shining, more hopeful place.
lingered there, wanting it to be true, if only for that brief precious
a vision to return to in the hazy days to come."
place, purpose, and discovery makes Dreams
of Arcadia a compelling read. Readers walk alongside Nate in
all of his
efforts, understand their motivations and ramifications, and find these
descriptions of secluded lives and worlds juxtaposes vet work. These
experiences which make characters and readers feel "totally alive" as
haunting truths emerge to inform Nate about deeper levels of living and
thinking, which will often surprise his followers, as well.
Dreams of Arcadia's compelling portrait
of lives in flux and
tangible connections to the past bring this Texas world to life.
readers seeking fiction rooted in a sense of community and growth will
Dreams of Arcadia examines and
captures the values that bring families together, making difficult
their logic and choices easier to understand and handle for present and
Return to Index
Michael J. Tuberdyke
Five Senses Publishing
Growing Down is subtitled "A Comedy of
Life." It lives up
to its promise with a series of revelations about life as experienced
male buddies who embark on a romp around town after attending their
a study and contrast between maturity and immaturity as Sam and Kevin
control, revisit the past, and reconsider present-day opportunities and
shifted by the changing lives of their friends.
perfectly captures the perceptions of those changed by the evolution of
peers while they remain in a milieu that is both familiar and stagnant:
"There were a lot of weddings and a lot of births.
He attempted to
sort out the friends he knew that were settled to the others who were
search of a good time. He did not know which category his beliefs
felt one way but existed in another."
There is an
existential flavor to the ironic inspection and comedy that evolves as
spend a day together and enter the evening both carousing and
The duo's explorations of new possibilities are equally fun and
“'I've thought about that. I really want to be
somebody though, you
know? I want to wake up in the morning and be something.'
'You should be yourself.' Kevin's voice held clear annoyance. He considered explaining how a good cook is always appreciated, but he did not want to waste his breath. Sam's tangent would cool down once he found the next thing to become obsessive over."
newly changed by another's wedding supposed to do in life when they
care about anything?"
Tuberdyke's succinct novella juxtaposes comedy with bigger-picture
a manner that portends both fun and deeper life inspection.
looking for novels about aging and the revelations of life choices will
Sam and Kevin's explorations to be thought-provoking as they reflect on
and their place in it. It's a read that redefines 'comedy', contrasting
a contemplative atmosphere that can only take place in the bars and
Return to Index
Red Adept Publishing, LLC
$12.99 Paper/$20.49 Audio/$9.99 Kindle
Hush, Delilah explores a wife's dilemma
when her husband's
undercurrents of evil break through the façade of perfection they have
their community. It's a story of Delilah Reddick’s revelations and how
comes to deal with a growing force that threatens everything they've
together that will especially appeal to readers of modern women's
about her own well-being, her family, and her choices rises to the
she is confronted with a reality she has chosen to ignore and repress
beginning—her husband's dangerous disposition.
been a complacent accomplice to his actions by providing an alibi. It's
that has gone on for far too long, and now threatens not just her own
that of her son and others in their community.
the results of her silence and reviews her options under impossible
circumstances, she makes different decisions that ultimately rock not
world, but all around her.
warning for readers who also have built lives on fielding abuse:
dilemmas are graphic and realistic, prompting all kinds of reflections
choices and responsibility to others.
"Of course I am in danger. I have lived my entire
adult life in
danger." Delilah is not a dummy. She well knows the
her choices. But, where does she go from here?
an involving tale of evolving evil in such a way that readers become
in Delilah's possibilities.
to heated book club debates and intriguing discussions in women's
makes Hush, Delilah of special
interest and recommendation to these audiences.
Abuse is not
solitary process. Delilah's move to find her voice and strength is
portrayed in a story that is at once familiar and thought-provoking as
revolves around the many ramifications of tolerating (and sometimes
monster's psyche and behaviors.
that choose Hush, Delilah will find
its characterizations potent, its events not entirely predictable, and
outcome engrossingly surprising.
Return to Index
Vivus Historical Press
979-8-218-06676-5 $13.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
series of novels continues to expand with the latest volume, Lockett and the Devil's Path, which
moves through battles in Tennessee as it presents a historical
Civil War events.
section at book's end (and a shorter introduction which places this
perspective) details the dramatic events and twists of the Tullahoma
of 1863 in Tennessee.
Lockett is in
charge of a ragtag band of men who face impossible challenges during
He commands an odd but effective group that has a reputation for a kind
diversity neither North nor South has seen in military companies.
involvements between conscripted men and civilians of both sexes, and
treason affect these mercurial relationships as battles shift balances
and impact lives.
dangerous path with little chance of success, yet he refuses to give
perseverance creates both a legend and a conundrum as he sticks his
for others and defends those who seem undeniably guilty for their
with Confederate officers to facing the life and death moments of
Lockett's world comes alive ... as does Anna Tucker, who finds herself
strange position of being a Confederate spy enamored with a Yankee
year after she is saved from a Union trap by his efforts.
T.J. Johnston builds his story on the firm foundations of historical fact, adding the emotional connections and relationships that give history a realistic, compelling flavor.
allow even non-historical fiction readers to access and enjoy the
conundrums that test men and women attempting to survive and engage
other during Civil War times.
heart set the stage for another drama in which Anna, James, and others
their convictions and attractions tested.
seeking Civil War novels firmly rooted in history and spiced with vivid
will find Lockett and the Devil's Path
both enhances the series as a whole and stands nicely alone for
Return to Index
Nelson’s Lost Son
978-0645023756 $19.99 Paper/$2.99 ebook
Lost Son is a military historical
fiction piece that focuses on the
“Great Chase”—the Caribbean campaign preceding the more well-known
It presents a fictitious story based on historical facts with the
Josiah Nisbet, who has lost his command and thus feels that his
with his famous stepfather Admiral Horatio Nelson is in jeopardy.
This is why
turn down the unexpected offer of becoming part of a covert mission
if successful, redeem his reputation, career, and relationship. The "if
successful" part seems more and more unlikely, however, as events test
personal, political, and professional strengths.
While Nelson's Lost Son stands alone nicely for newcomers, it ideally will be selected by readers already familiar with its predecessor, Nelson’s Folly, which offered new insights into the lives of Nelson and his wife Fanny. This builds the foundation for Nelson's Lost Son to continue the family legacy in a different way, offering a fast-paced adventure pairing the backdrop of real historical events with the examination of the father-son relationship of Horatio
son’ Josiah Nisbet.
and intrigue come to life, this story is about so much more than
confrontations. Equally at the heart of matters is the struggle between
and son, their shared missions and ideals, ways in which events test
relationship, and the manners in which heroism and courage emerge in
forms for different generations.
realize the complex ramifications of his actions as the story unfolds: "It seemed to him there were two issues
– a shortage of good hemp and a crisis of trust caused by the
Everyone was scared. And where did that leave him?" This
into a position of danger in which trusts betrayed and ideals pursued
land him in
no-win situations. These further threaten not just his career ambitions
relationship with the navy and his father, but his life.
Oliver Greeves again paints a
engrossing story powered as much by the quandaries and emotions of his
as the times they live through.
Between presenting battles on
the high seas or
the plight of slaves "compelled to serve without condition" whether
they be French or English, Greeves supercharges the story of men who
are "victims of their own convictions," bringing Lord Nelson's world
to life with vivid action and a blend of psychological, political, and
Libraries that saw popularity
with the previous
Nelson’s Folly, as well as newcomers,
will find equally rich and
vividly portrayed the history and sense of place and time in Nelson's Lost Son. Whether
chosen as a sequel or a stand-alone novel, the tale is highly
recommended for libraries seeking historical military fiction that
Return to Index
Seat at the
Susan Dormady Eisenberg
to see a
blend of Broadway music history and romance, but One
More Seat at the Round Table offers both, icing its story
an attractive tone and drama that bring to life the creation of the
One More Seat at the Round Table surveys
the history of the
American musical's development as it follows two characters whose
romance develop in conjunction with the advent of a special form of
theater that cements their connections and advances their professional
Eisenberg creates interplay between real-world facts and scenarios,
streets of New York City to actors Julie Andrews and others, whose
contributed to the play's creation.
At the heart
events are Jane and Bryce, who face their own separate challenges in
expectation and precedent to make their marks on life in ways nobody
them has achieved.
between romance and full-flavored life challenge not only gives this
realistic edge, but provides a satisfyingly complex evolutionary
departs from any notion of formula romance writing. This creates a saga
as strong in its artistic, historical, and cultural influences as it is
psychological developments that motivate and drive the main characters.
actor prompts, challenges in getting into character, and the special
bigger-picture thinking in translating script to stage will be
delighted by the time Eisenberg takes to recreate the process of
play to life:
“...when Tom stows away on the boat, he plans to
help the knights
preserve the honor of the Round Table. He’s on fire with the idea, and
meets King Arthur, it’s like the moment when Peter Pan saves the Lost
It’s that great.”
“Honest?” Garry asked.
“Yes,” I replied. “But you both sound like you’ve crossed the street to buy a candy bar. Like it’s no big deal. You need to know that your character, Tom of Warwick, becomes the hero of the finale. Like Peter Pan when he defeats Hook.”
“Nobody told us that,” Rufus groused. “Mr. Remsen didn’t explain it that way.”
“Mr. Remsen has a lot on his mind,” I said. “But remember, King Arthur might die like the Lost Boys at the plank Then you show up and give him a reason to fight on.”
“I’m gobsmacked!” Garry said. “Can we try the scene again, Miss Jane?”
“Just call me Jane,” I said. “And this time, I want to feel your courage. Be a hero.”
pursuit of a production that will change the face of American stage and
first-person revelations about her choices and what she stands to lose
making a name for herself, the story excels in both historical and
"I couldn’t predict when I’d find the courage, but
my darkest fear
was that I’d already lost him. And if this was the case, I thought,
back up to stage left, I might never recover. Worst of all, I’d have no
blame but myself."
struggles of the heart, art, and career make for a memorable, involving
that teaches much about stage efforts and living the show and life
seeking a story that gives equal strength to performances that lead to
and new realizations both on and off stage will welcome One
More Seat at the Round Table, recognizing it as both a
story and an exploration of the foundations and processes of a pivotal
Return to Index
978-1-7379575-2-2 $2.99 Kindle
The Regal Pink is the first book in a
series of retold fairy tales,
and tackles a Grimm classic in a story that will especially appeal to
from young adults through adults.
comes from Diana, who expresses the pain of being a fairy "betwixt and
between" human and fae worlds. Charged with being human for a period of
time, Diana feels trapped.
opens in 1451 with Daniel, who has just had a terrible dream about
magical friend he loves) killing him. Is it a premonition of the
future? He has
created Diana from his dreams and his power, so why would she hurt him?
Daniel and Diana grow up to adulthood, but retain their powers and
mysteries. Daniel's biggest wish is to move into a different life. Be
what you wish for—especially when your power is to grant wishes for
Daniel learns this when the future introduces more transformations that
his control: "Daniel discerned a
change coming and with it freedom from the slavery of wishing."
a compelling story of lives undone and redone in The
Regal Pink. It is a story with a lesson, much like the
original 'The Pink' (upon which it is based); but it also brings with
magic of evolving relationships, transformative processes, and the
friendships and love that drive its characters to make extraordinary
diverging from lives that already reside a touch beyond the commonplace.
that God does appear in what seems to be a fairy tale retold, but is
represented as The Light. This makes the story accessible to a broader
than myth-seekers alone.
A host of
in Diana and Daniel's world, from spies who breach castle walls to
whose father teaches him that "...the
power of the natural realm, along with the spiritual, was The Light’s
command and that mankind were mere stewards of that power." And
he and his wife Rosalind are assured of a child and an heir through
dreams and heavenly processes that he accepts on some level and rejects
between the first-person perspective of Diana and the third-person
events that entangle the lives of Diana, Daniel, Roderick, Marcus, and
in the kingdom.
is a heady
blend of magical realism, myth, and references to God's force in the
involves readers in a complex, appealing new version of Grimm's
The Regal Pink is recommended as a
stand-alone choice for fantasy
readers, but, ideally, it will be read in conjunction with the original
and utilized in creative writing courses interesting in highlighting
techniques for recrafting traditional fairy tales in new ways.
well as libraries looking for revised fairy stories, will find Jenny
first book in a projected series to be thoroughly engrossing,
hallmarks and boundaries of the fairy tale in new and satisfyingly
Return to Index
Wild Rose Press
978-1509248827 $16.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Reluctant Hearts is a romance story that
arrives with the added
twist of coming from not the usual singular perspective; nor even a
insights, but from four different viewpoints.
represent different facets of love under challenging, seemingly
situations. Their disparities and attractions receive satisfying
that contrast their lives and choices in a story that evolves to follow
growth of very different people.
interact, so readers will find that "all the pieces fit together
perfectly." This contrast in lives and hearts works because Linda
takes the time to trace the fears, reluctance, and possibilities each
brings to the table of love.
friendships that evolve against the backdrop of shifting lives and new
connections to gender disparities revealed during realistic
Griffin's attention to detail produces discussions that will lend to
debates as well as individual enlightenment:
“Are you going to defend your gender, Frank?”
“We try,” was the best he could do. “We aren’t as smart as you are—you know, verbally and emotionally, but we try. We don’t understand what you want. What do women want?”
different ways under different circumstances and perceptions.
Reluctant Hearts is as much a story of
awakening and discovery as
it is a psychological profile of very different people brought together
circumstance, chance, and their own visions of what love looks like.
receive deep psychological inspection, interludes of sexual
exploration, and love
stories that are thoroughly engrossing and thought-provoking.
Return to Index
Foundations Book Publishing
ASIN: B0BTC99CQF $2.99
fiction who look for stories steeped in paranormal romance and Wiccan
plays will find Rhiannon's Circle
perfect ticket for a moonless night of intriguing reading.
A power play
the Bohannon family, which has long led a centuries-old witch's coven
roots in Ireland, makes for a thoroughly engrossing story that evolves
paranormal struggle themes to new levels.
lead the coven, but her murderous older sister has other ideas about
legacy. Middle sister Anya finds herself in the middle of a family
struggle set to not only tear them apart, but threaten the coven's
never thought he'd land in the middle of a witch's conflict, but he
himself "walking into a minefield of unknowns" as he unwittingly
makes choices that lead him into love and danger that hold equal
engage with one another and consider their legacies, prejudices, and
interactions with humans and extraordinary beings, Emily Bex brings to
this world and its ability to coexist with everyday humans over the
"I grew up with this
stuff. To us, you're the weird one. In our
world, we're all normal, and it’s humans we have to be careful of.
You're not a
very accepting species. You tend to kill off people you don't
know, the witch trials were real, although all the women that were hung
even witches. Just the thought of something being off and humans go
know all the rumors about us, but most people enjoy the rumors. We're a
curiosity, something to gossip about. Something they
about. But they don't think it's real, and we try to keep it
that way. Same with Ian. Vampires stick to their covens; we stick to
We're all safer if we keep it on the down-low. Just how it is."
and coven politics play out against the backdrop of an evolving romance
not only entertains readers, but leads them to think about family power
and the special pressures of leadership and heritage.
Rhiannon's Circle also grows a mystery
which concludes in a
satisfying manner for this book, but leaves the door more than ajar for
seeking occult fiction that excels in mystery, romance, and family
will welcome Rhiannon's Circle's
Return to Index
ASIN: B0BSRM9SBC $3.99
Toxic But Addictive tells of Eria who,
single and childless at age
40, is not leading the kind of life she'd imagined. In fact, this is
near where she thought she'd be at this age, in terms of marriage and
Her minimalist approach to decorating has translated to the same
her relationships and life, and she's ready for something new.
Toxic But Addictive follows this sea
change as Eria navigates two
very different men, follows the different forms of promise each offers,
finds herself in a life-or-death situation that demands of her a
and force she has never before applied to her life or her future.
arrangements of her life and control over every aspect of it begin to
the central core of her convictions and aspirations come to the
unexpected ways as Eria evolves a different life and faces new
approaches to engaging with it.
Wynn E. is
at portraying Eria's challenging involvements, whether they be with a
an ex, or unexpected surprising dramas that affect her formerly-staid
revenge evolve, adding surprising twists to the tale, Wynn E. captures
evolving conundrums that pit her deepest desires with opportunities she
her readers) never saw coming.
throughout also follow Eria's physical pleasures as she grapples with
and challenging problems alike.
seeking an evocative work of women's literature that follows the
changes of a powerful woman who lets go enough to inject love and its
accompanying changes into her life will find Toxic
But Addictive offers lessons in both love and toxic
inspections of both themes (and more) makes Toxic
But Addictive a highly recommended title for African American
literary and contemporary women's fiction collections alike.
Return to Index
Depression is the third novel in
the Equal and Opposite Reactions trilogy, and is especially recommended
literary fiction enthusiasts familiar with its predecessors (Equal and
Reactions and Hail Mary), who will welcome the final
installment of a close
inspection of the psychology and ironies of relationships.
Guzman have been deported to Nicaragua, where they must readjust to
relationships and the loss of a child who was born in America and left
These family issues lend to a tropical depression lifted by evolving
relationships with unexpected new friends who hold the power and wisdom
mitigate the crushing events that have a hold on their lives.
As in her previous stories, Patti Liszkay maintains
powerful, rich hand in portraying Nicaragua's culture and the social,
political, and psychological influences that buffet the couple's lives.
From the steamy atmosphere of the jungle to
equally powerful circumstances of changing hearts and minds, Liszkay
vivid portrait of the struggles that simmer during the adjustment
Lupe and Ascensión rebel in many different ways—including
"Ascensión tromped over to the bench by the
plopped himself down. Lupe was
angry? She was angry? And
blamed him? Wasn’t he always
trying to soothe her, comfort her, protect her? Did she have any idea
been protecting her at work, doing her work for her, practically
on his knees to Yoolie? Did she have no idea how stressful all this was
him? And did she really expect him to chew out his mother, his own
created by abandonment and choices to revelations that bring both love
into family circles, Tropical Depression is rich in the intersections of love, conflict,
and culture that bring
this world to life.
While newcomers could easily enter this
milieu and gain much from Tropical Depression, its
true riches lie in
its connections to the prior series books.
Libraries and readers with this familiarity
will find Tropical Depression a warm embrace of
families, and worlds which are expanded by children and the pursuit of
Return to Index
$17.95 Paper/$17.95 Audiobook/$9.99 ebook
Anger Is Your Compass: Harness the Wisdom of Anger
and Transform Your
Life points to the power in hidden, repressed, or overt anger
is highly recommended for readers interested in this general topic and
dovetailing of its contentions with typical anger management logic.
illustrates that anger can serve a useful purpose—especially if it is
in an effective manner that promotes growth, change, and appropriate
The key to using anger responses effectively lies in a more mindful
acknowledging its value as well as its strength. In this manner, Ratson
provides a blueprint for better understanding that should be basic
psychology and self-help followers.
constructive insights on anger's origins, strengths, and ability to
When used as a signal for uncovering truths and moving forward in a
manner, anger can be quite useful—not something to be repressed, but
transformative promise is ongoing, and it's not a reaction to be
because "It’s important to note that
anger will remain active in your life until it serves its teaching
will continue to seek your attention until you learn from it and
wisdom. And even then, it will arise again in the future to let you
you need to take action to close the gap or meet a core need."
contentions with case histories and examples from his own life as a
psychotherapist and executive coach, Ratson provides the important
that profile anger's strength and ability to do good as much as do
presents a step-by-step approach to harnessing anger's potential:
"Step one of transforming anger is to temper it—to bring it to the right
level and direct it with
wisdom. Just as a metal becomes stronger and more flexible by being
then cooled in air, anger can make you stronger when you take charge of
heat and intentionally adjust it to the right temperature, so it is
proportionate to the situation. When your anger reaches the proper
you will be able to access the wisdom beneath it. The ability to temper
is a key skill of the compassionate warrior."
painful experiences and pursing becoming a "compassionate warrior"
fueled by the strength of anger and the wisdom of tapping into its
potentials, Ratson provides an uplifting view of how anger may be
viewed in a
different light, managed in a different way, and used to reinforce
potentials and purposes in the world.
alternative views of anger's powerful possibilities will find that
insights stand out from other anger management discussions. Ideally, Anger Is Your Compass will not just
reside in general-interest and psychology libraries, but will be
discussed in book clubs and reading groups interested in self-help,
insights, and social and business world issues. Its message is that
far-reaching—and that widely applicable and important.
Return to Index
Better to Win
Ronin Road Press
979-8-9878036-0-8 $16.00 Paper/$7.99 ebook
to Win: Hardball Lessons
in Leadership, Influence, & the Craft of Politics teaches people interested in political
advocacy how to take a powerful seat at the leadership table. While its
and examples come from politics, any reader interested in assuming the
unfamiliar reins of handling strife and controversy will find this book
powerful guide to navigating treacherous political and social
Bill Wong's account opens
with a powerful punch: "Today would be a
fight. Simmering with
silent rage and resentment, I entered the majestic conference room
little skirmish would take place."
Like a good
tension is developed from the start which grabs the reader's attention,
them to want to know more about the source of this feeling and the
The followup blow comes from realizing that Bill Wong's nemesis isn't on the streets or in the boardroom, but is an Ivy League elitist whose attitude and actions support and represent inherent prejudice that stems from privilege and a distain for minority participation: "He stood at the head of the table preparing to serve me a deftly crafted public humiliation. I think he thought Asians were going to be an easy mark. I believe he saw this as a convenient opportunity to practice what he probably thought would be a lifetime of dominating a room and everyone in it."
the nature of this battle will be overt, direct, and above-board is
the reality that covert, underlying innuendos permeate actual power
so Wong found himself participating in quite a different playing field,
because "I wasn’t going to be the
model minority participating in the establishment’s Hunger
Games of merit. Nor was I going to attempt to explain why
this maneuver felt like a personal attack on Asian Americans. Instead,
to make my point in another way. In a way that would play out in
lines. This was going to be an intimate dance in the dark with my
approach is both
reasoned and acknowledges the underlying motivations and influences on
of affirmative action. Wong's exploration of "political jiujitsu"
processes and how they can successfully undercut established political
and prejudices provides an outstanding route for nonviolent protest
be on the radars of any involved in leadership decision-making circles.
This is only
introductory example in a salvo of campaign and political experiences
encounters that creates solid, compelling stories about "how
to win hardball campaigns where underhanded and often unethical
tactics are employed."
proven to work. The approach to these kinds of situations and campaigns
addresses underlying racial prejudice and its incarnation in social and
political circles and methods to thwart its presence with strategies
employ confrontation in a different, more effective and educational
Lies will be
Leverage will be employed. But, beyond these too-common rules of
winning lies a route that maintains "Better
strategy, tactics, and execution are the key to winning races that are
in the mud."
utilized in Better to Win come from
Wong's political world, they can be equally employed in business
social milieus, and any environment where tacit privilege and prejudice
often take the upper hand.
Ideally, Better to Win will be featured not just
in libraries interested in political campaign strategies, but in any
collection where issues of racism and power struggles are of interest.
also be an excellent choice for book clubs interested in explorations
political and social prejudice, in social issues classrooms, and in any
environment where hard and fast rules of racist engagement and
to be broken.
of the political machine and tactics to dismantle many of its
routines come not from ideals, but from tried-and-true methods that
psychological strategies and a savvy life knowledge that can't be beat.
Return to Index
The Control Problem
$25.00 Hardback/$15.00 Paper/$9.99 ebook/$15.00 Audiobook
On the surface and to others,
represents the epitome of a fine life. Single, in her thirties, and
quietly, Vera needs only one more thing to achieve
Scratch that surface, however, and there's more simmering under it than
need for a child in her life. Many mysteries surround Vera's life, from
strange abilities to her frustration with the chaotic world around her.
Her first-person story opens with an
intriguing reflection: "I WISH PEOPLE WOULD LISTEN TO ME.
great. How should you start a diary?"
Control Problem, Vera is forced to tackle
unanswered questions about her background and
abilities and the unpredictable paths her future takes as she navigates
strange series of circumstances from pursuing her dream, only to find
into a nightmare.
Readers may not anticipate the
elements that develop from Vera's quest and introductory perceptions,
evolve in a compelling and satisfying manner as questions are answered,
rise to different revelations and new horror as Vera comes to realize
impossible truths about her past, present, and future.
Norah Woodsey builds mystery
into Vera's story
and presents the world through Vera's eyes as she becomes increasingly
embroiled in a strange world that immerses her in odd circumstances
shadowed past. As questions arise about who has control, who should
it, and why Vera has no children, readers will find the surprises come
This is particularly notable
because it's no
light feat to develop a personality and world without the seasoned
reader well able to predict courses of action and development. Woodsey
away and pursues Vera's unfolding conundrums with an attention to
realization that creates a satisfyingly unpredictable story.
Woven within the sci-fi
elements are insights
into women's friendships, matters of control, and a form of data
that fails to note the real motivations and feelings of individuals: "How
many women shop when they are upset? It’s what I want to do when
I’m upset, and I can’t be that unusual. Who are these people who make
systems? How do you overlook something as basic as motivation of the
are trying to assess? I laughed to myself. How inconvenient for product
the feelings of others. Do they know people at all? Do they care?"
The emotional threads
reinforced by Vera's
first-person questions and explorations bring the hard science of her
its impossible situation to life.
Libraries and readers looking
for a blend of
women's literature, hard sci-fi, and social examination will find
in The Control Problem to be
eerily akin to some forms of modern angst, and impossible to put down.
Return to Index
Carolyn L. Baker
Racial Divide to the Road of Repair: A Collection of Essays
is not an easy
read. It outlines and probes the White American identity in a manner
invites readers to conduct their own close inspection of their
prejudices, and inherent bias towards racial profiling and expectations
justice and injustice.
Dispatches both compliments and expands the themes in Carolyn L. Baker's previous memoir An Unintentional Accomplice, her story of coming of age as a white person in segregated Southern California, but more closely examines the uncomfortable topics of systemic institutional racism, sexism, and classism in American society.
messages are introduced and acclaimed by anti-racism scholar Mark
is in itself an important commendation.
Racial Divide to the Road of Repair dovetails the history of
disparities with their incarnation in modern America, focusing on the
encounters which lead to the double bind many modern White Americans
themselves in when it comes to addressing this racial wall, the book's
will lend to fiery debates in classrooms and forums devoted to societal
inspection and racial issues.
Discussions about invisible
and underlying prejudices
woven into the fabric of society and everyday life are never
to undertake. Baker provides a beacon of hope in addressing how racism "has always tainted women's movements
in this country," moving the discussion from male privilege and
to White Women who are also complicit by their actions and "...often do
not want to acknowledge our White skin privilege and access to power
affiliation with White men, including our fathers, brothers, husbands,
sons. However, we often take a stance suggesting weakness when we do.
shut down, and then act like we have no power."
From immigration to
whitewashing and voter suppression,
Baker's book will provoke all kinds of uncomfortable but necessary
considerations and dialogues—especially among White women.
And, it's about time.
candid assessment of these trends, tendencies,
and deeply held social and psychological responses by White women makes
Dispatches: From Racial Divide to the Road
of Repair an invaluable addition to any library strong in
examinations. It's also an ideal choice for book club and discussion
tackling the racial divide from both sides of the American wall of
ideally attracting the attention of any individual or group interested
studying and acknowledging American racism.
Return to Index
979-8-9873501-8-8 $7.95 Kindle
Clowns: Sustainable Investing for Everyday Life holds an
if sustainable living is an individual's ultimate ideal, one can't then
investment vehicles that include companies unsupportive of this effort.
Sustainable living choices
do not always neatly translate
into sustainable investing approaches, however—and that's where money
Dale Wannen comes in. His book covers all the possibilities and
tailoring one's investments to match one's ideals.
It opens with a key insight:
"... every penny you invest in a 401k, 403b,
IRA, etc., is
literally changing the way the world works. Yes, you are that special.
about it. That decision you made by checking some boxes because “Big
Large Cap Dividend Sucker Growth Fund” sounded appealing after you
Kathy from HR. You know Kathy. She drives that fancy Infinity GHBG720.
too is changing the
Wannen points out the
ongoing disparity between
envisioning sustainability and actually living it: "People
are walking around like zombies. But their 401k balances
are way up. This is the path we have been on for decades."
decision-making to sustainable
accountability, Wannen refuses to let the individual reader off the
responsibility for higher-level decision-making in the economic world.
an important lesson, indeed.
Some of his advice is basic
Investing 101, such as
setting up a sound asset allocation unique to a risk profile. The meat
approach lies in advice that takes the time and additional steps that
solidly into sustainable thinking and action.
Yes, investors as a whole
are already adopting this
mindset. What differentiates Don't Feed
the Clowns from most other surveys of sustainability is
to drawing further connections between money management and investor
and impact on business behaviors and choices.
Whether investors are
interested in IRAs, mutual funds,
or active investing (which involves a more hands-on approach), Wannen
typical financial vehicles, choices, and investments to bigger-picture
about impact, responsibility, and sustainable ideals.
As a result, Don't
Feed the Clowns is very highly recommended for readers
seeking to live more
sustainable lifestyles, investors looking to move their choices into
vehicles which better support the world's health and diversity, and
that would add a more lively discussion of investing that incorporates
and conscious ideals into their business book collections.
Book clubs (either reader
groups or those addressing
sustainable living choices) will find plenty of information for not
investment approaches, but discussions about the intersection of
objectives and sustainable ideals.
Return to Index
The Reason for Everything Press
978-0-9913770-5-3 $12.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
The Eleventh Grieve's near-future story
of two women despairing
about climate change holds compelling attraction because of its
present-day issues and experiences, as well as its intriguing title. It
reader attention from its opening lines: "THERE
WERE NO OYSTERS. That was how it all began."
In the first
the 21st century, extreme weather events are becoming the norm, not the
exception. So much so that "weird weather" has gained an audience
among those who would profit from its increased impact. Businessmen
Jake Krimmer eschew any concern for environment over the profits such
events bring to their special interests.
more than a
vested interest in denying climate change; but his attitude also holds
cost—the fate of his relationship with Samantha. She is increasingly
about the planet's future, and her interests seem to lie in direct
to Jake's denial of climate change and his profit-making ventures based
and the world are on the teetering edge of catastrophe when Rita Ten
enters the picture with her time-travel ability and command of The
technology that holds the potential to change the world via one man's
"Grieves" that test and transform Jake, it becomes evident that not
only his future, but the world's survival rests on the shoulders of an
impossible transformation that needs to take place both individually
surface, The Eleventh Grieve is a
possibilities and life lessons. But look deeper to uncover the jewel in
crown, because Jake's encounters with predictions, surprises, and
shifts in his relationship not just with Samantha and Rita, but the
reflect the progressions and possibilities of healing and illness on
an individual scale.
facts about climate change and influences with a fictional backdrop
both subjects thoroughly engrossing. From the role of speculators who
profit from disaster to the impact of climate policies made on social
political levels, Hallberg's story is replete with the realities of
precedent and the future possibility of either transformation or
up the central focus of this compelling fable: "...think
of it as an object lesson for how difficult it is to do
what you know in your heart needs to be done. How easy it is for people
the point that the future of the planet is at stake.”
Dickens' A Christmas Carol, but
posed on a more universal level that embraces humanity's survival as a
The Eleventh Grieve's parable will reach
a wide audience, from
those who anticipate another "cli-fi" fictional exploration to
readers who look for higher-level thinking in their stories. Libraries
recommend The Eleventh Grieve to
their patrons will find it also is ideal for book club discussion
interested not just in the physical manifestations of climate change,
mental hoops humanity must jump through to make changes in paradigms
perceptions to address the successes and failures of climate change
Return to Index
979-8377539803 $14.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Like William Hope Hodgson's classic Carnacki
the Ghost Finder, investigator Professor Aldous
Crane of Five Demons
is skilled at dealing
with supernatural circumstances and incarnations. Also like Carnacki,
encounters are narrated in a series of stories that probe the
underbelly of the
paranormal world—especially the haunted halls of the late Matthew
estate, which lure him with two experiences the Professor and his
The breath of intrigue and horror that
permeates these encounters opens with 'The Taster' and the sensation
first, the sound was subtle—a whispering rustle of fabric brushing
against the stone floor. A sound inconspicuous and non-threatening,
it shouldn’t have been there. No sound should be there when you’re
Normally, wine expert and taster William
Meyer loves his work, and the lure of deceased wine collector Matthew
estate is especially inviting and flavorful. Perhaps too much, because
has entered a private tasting of uncommon proportions and his encounter
those rich productions of the past come with a heavy price tag. "It
should have been a wine collector’s dream to explore such a fabled
and yet, there was always the catch. Him."
A world away in San Francisco, Professor
Aldous Crane is tapped to solve a mystery that assumes superstitious
proportions when the call to enter the cellar and locate six bottles of
and valuable vintages becomes one to also dismiss allegations that a
supernatural entity still presides over the collection.
Each story rests upon the flavor of unusual
hauntings that force Professor Crane to extend his experiences and
unusual ways. Each excels in presenting a very different demon. 'The
Dollhouse,' for example, profiles an entity which stalks the capable
himself, involving him with sister Claire's friend Sadie, whose
haunting experience reaches out to embrace him with shadowy arms and
challenges, including the pain of loss.
Each story adds another compelling insight
to the good professor's life and abilities. Each excels in a different
haunting that expands the concept of ghostly encounters and purposes.
Fans of supernatural detective stories that
enjoy well-developed plots, tension, and contrasts in supernatural
investigations will relish Five Demons, which is
every bit as involving
as Hodgson's classic Carnacki the Ghost Finder and
adds a literary
flavor to the paranormal detective experience.
Libraries looking for well-developed ghost
stories will find Five Demons a top recommendation,
notable for its
literary and psychological depth and the satisfying intersection of
supernatural topics that is equally strong in both developments.
Return to Index
For a Song: The Most Enduring Tunes Ever
a Song: The
Most Enduring Tunes Ever Written
features text and illustrations by the author as it celebrates the
attraction of twenty-for selected songs which Hal Taylor identifies as
iconic creations in existence.
Admittedly, this is a heady contention to
make. As the introduction documents the importance of music in every
human history and life, the lingering question in the reader's mind
how does one determine a small number of "the best of them all,"
given centuries of human history?
This is especially challenging given that
readers who would think that classical and pop music pieces should be
those judged iconic will learn early on that these major genres have
purposely omitted from discussion because the author has "...intentionally
omitted contemporary music like rock and all its forms and sub-genres.
for Classical music. Those two disciplines have been critiqued,
dissected, analyzed, and written about so extensively, that I would
nothing more to contribute. Likewise for blues and jazz, America’s
music, the moon stuff from which rock and pop originated. Nor have I
Country with its Scots Irish roots (although you have to vigorously
varnished exterior of contemporary “country” to find those origins
I am probably the least qualified person to offer any historical
of rap or hip hop."
What is left? Old songs that "have
cobwebs hanging from them." This may lead contemporary
suspect that this book, too, will feature webs of antiquity and
this premature supposition would be wrong. Indeed, For a Song
a lively dance among tunes that have unique origins, stories to tell,
lasting impact on music. They deserve to be heard.
Classic and well-known ditties and an entire
section devoted to beloved Christmas songs trace the evolution and
lyrics and music so embedded in everyday life that their origins and
have often been obscured. One early example is an 1893 children's song
by two schoolteachers, the 'Good Morning and Birthday Song' (aka 'Happy
Birthday To You'). Their greeting song today represents one of the
most widely distributed celebration songs in the world.
'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' is another
widely known song that holds fascinating history.
Like his subject, Hal Taylor cultivates an
attractive, lively tone that draws all readers into this history:
before Mel Tormé and Robert Wells sat in the California summer heat
cold weather thoughts, composer Leroy Anderson was on the other side of
country doing the same thing. In the middle of July, during a drought,
was trying to dig up some old pipes, and envisioning a horse-drawn
gliding though a snowy landscape. Unlike “The Christmas Song” however,
no intention of penning a holiday tune, but like Tormé and Wells, he
trying to stay cool." Thus the roots of 'Sleigh Ride,' written in the
mid-1940s, evolved with a special twist—it "actually began with what is
now the middle section of the tune."
Captivatingly dynamic, enhanced by lovely
illustrations that bring these tunes to life, and thoroughly engrossing
matter what the reader's musical inclinations), For a Song
recommended. It ideally will appear in every arts collection where
history is featured, and many a general-interest library. It's that
wide-ranging, appealing, and attractive.
Return to Index
Lauren Powers, MCC
979-8-9875994-0-2 $14.99 Paper/$7.99 ebook
How to Listen Out
Loud: Ridiculously Powerful Skills for Leading, Relating, &
from an author who was once a "champion non-listener," but changed
her tune to become a more effective listener and coach.
Her observation that "Somehow,
we’ve relegated skillful listening to just a few careers
like therapists or bartenders. Which is a clever way to let the rest of
the hook of having to listen at all" will hit home for many,
the foundation of a guide designed to remedy the tendency to listen
promotes the active (and more mindful) approach of Listening Out Loud,
reviewing the patterns that often contribute not to listening, but to
what is heard:
"From this unconscious place, too often, my version
was to talk about what I’d read most recently. That way, it wasn’t my
a fix, but a smarty-pants, qualified, author’s idea. It had to be
what my friend and I could come up with. Regrettably, this simply ends
another serving of Level 1 Listening with a dollop of
The meat of
approach lies in examples that will prove especially hard-hitting to
who thought they already did a good job of listening to others. Many
these examples eye-opening, as Powers shows why they are too often not
effective and outlines better paths for active listening that encourage
meaningful dialogue and better understanding.
through these examples and lessons, they will find themselves
listening skills which promote empathy and deeper interpersonal
well as an overall healthier approach to life and one's place in it.
As for the
themselves, they are delivered in the form of tips, exercises, and
that reinforce the nature of better listening through everyday life
every reader can relate to.
powerful message reinforced by solid examples of how to overcome
habits and messages to be not just a better listener, but a better
to positive relationships throughout all facets of life.
Libraries and readers
seeking self-help titles that encourage self-assessment and better
skills will find How
to Listen Out Loud
a key lesson in both being heard and hearing more effectively.
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How to Love
In Less Than a Week & Also for the Rest of Your Life
Rachel Madorsky, LCSW
$10.99 Hardcover/$4.86 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
How to Love Yourself: In Less Than a Week &
Also for the Rest of
Your Life provides readers with permission to love themselves
more fully, which
translates to a less judgmental attitude and more acceptance and love
others, in turn.
usually come as an inherent part of nature, but is a practice that
and exercise like any other routine.
How to Love Yourself provides short,
simple, but powerful
admonitions designed to teach readers this process of greater self-love
throughout the day:
"Today is the day. I will love myself from now on.
matter how much I do or do not understand fully what that means or how
it. I’m in. I promise to learn, and I promise to enjoy the learning. I
myself, no matter what from now on."
insights are useful whether contemplated individually to help drive the
decisions and experiences, or utilized in a group setting either by
discussions interested in self-improvement routines or in psychological
"In any given moment we can love
ourselves more by reminding ourselves to let it be easy."
As easy as
be to self-love, many similar-sounding titles make such a production
out of the
effort that ordinary readers may be stymied by the process.
How to Love Yourself creates quick,
insights in how to incorporate these practices into daily routines and
busiest of lives.
make How to Love Yourself a strong
recommendation for any self-help, self-improvement, or group effort.
How to Love Yourself: In Less Than a Week & Also for the Rest of Your Life
Return to Index
Studio: A Memoir of Food and Art
Mallory M. O’Connor and John A. O’Connor
978-1-63988-796-5 $56.95 Hardcover/$45.95 paper
The Kitchen and the Studio: A Memoir of Food and Art
is a rare
combination of art book, memoir, and culinary exploration highly
for readers interested in successful intersections of the arts.
and John A. O’Connor chronicle their lives together, their community
involvements, and their shared passion for art and food in a love story
many subjects. Their effort is illustrated with John’s original
accompany photographs of celebrations.
love, food, and nature assumes an uplifting tone from the start, rich
color images that liberally accent the authors' memories, insights, and
historical reflections on the history of classic culinary dishes such
"It is generally agreed that Beef Wellington was
likely created in
celebration of the first Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, and his
at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815. The Duke was given his
defeating Napoleon Bonaparte the year before, and not long after he
Prime Minister. The dish is probably French (Boeuf
en Croute) but was renamed during the 19th century wars
with France to celebrate Wellington’s victory. Or so they say. In any
Beef Wellington is a magnificent dish to serve at a fancy party. It
takes a lot
of preparation and is quite the attention-getter on the table or
It's rare to
these elements under one cover, but the O'Connors achieve this special
through shared memories, reflections, and artistic eyes. These are transmitted to readers
via visual and
written vehicles that supersede the linear approaches of most recipe
memoirs, or culinary histories.
illustrations often include a touch of whimsy, as in the pastel for
Green Beans' which features an uncommon observer in the background of
Think of the
of James Beard's classic Delights and
Prejudices, which surveys food and life from more than a
for a sense of the multifaceted attraction that is The
Kitchen and the Studio.
readers who love uplifting blends of life experience will find the art
culinary insights equally powerful and attractive here, and well worthy
Return to Index
Muslim Mechanics, The View From Behind the Curtain
Charles H. Brewton
John Hunt Publishing
978-1-80341-050-0 $25.95 Paper/$12.99 ebook
Muslim Mechanics, The View From Behind the Curtain offers a primer on Muslims for Christian readers, and should be considered an essential ingredient in fostering understanding between the religions of the world.
A number of other books on the subject have attempted this approach, but too often fall prey to overt or covert prejudices that wind up attacking Islam's deepest contentions in an effort to make the contrast favorable to Christian beliefs.
Another difference between Charles H. Brewton's approach and others is his focus on the concepts of Sharia Law, which are embedded into democratic principles and Christian history, as well as Muslim faith.
A third important note is that Muslim Mechanics assumes no prior familiarity with either Christian or Muslim concepts. This allows those with varying levels of familiarity with either faith to fully engage with a coverage that clarifies the basic concepts which drive the Muslim faith and life choices.
Brewton doesn't neglect the political ramifications of his subject, either:
"The inquiries about who is Muslim and who is not, and under what conditions and circumstances, are critical questions for Islamic fundamentalists. They are fundamental questions for jihadis since takfir is pivotal to identify the enemies who must be fought and killed. The issue of takfir was one of the significant contention points in the conflict between Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Al-Qaeda holds the more moderate position, according to which takfir applies to selected individuals. In contrast, IS leaders use it more freely and do not hesitate to brand as heretical entire movements, communities, or sects, such as the Shi’ites."
This approach allows for a much greater depth of understanding of not just Muslim faith, but the foundation concepts that drive political and cultural entities either together or apart.
The contrasts in political approaches influenced by Muslim beliefs and perceptions lend to a special form of enlightenment not usually proffered in simple contrasts of belief systems: "Several Muslim nations such as Egypt, Jordan, and even Saudi Arabia have found that having political relations with Israel can improve security, trade, and economic opportunity. Some Muslim countries like Iran and Syria cannot let go of historical and contemporary enmity. The issue of whose God has sovereignty in this land has created the overall schism."
The result is a wide-ranging connection between faith and social and political history and choices.
Muslim Mechanics, The View From Behind the Curtain ideally will be chosen for all kinds of library holdings, but is especially highly recommended for book club and debate groups interested in the connections between belief systems and their social and political incarnations.
The ability of Muslim Mechanics to reach all kinds of audiences with clear enlightenment about these special connections makes it a top recommendation over other books which too often contrast beliefs without showing how these are reflected in real-world political and social actions.Muslim Mechanics, The View From Behind the Curtain
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Art is Living the Sermon on the Mount
CJS Hayward Publications
$19.99 Hardcover/$11.99 Paper/$2.99 ebook
The Orthodox Martial Art is Living the Sermon on
the Mount departs
from CJS Hayward's other works, linking the Sermon on the Mount to
a manner that promotes and links the Sermon to martial arts mastery.
many thought-provoking statements, not the least of which is a
discourse on the
belief that Christians need to be more cognizant of catch phrases and
that describe their mission. His attack on the vague "lay down your
for your neighbor" and his consideration of the violence underlying
concept invites further discourse and reflection on the notion of
killing and fighting.
ability to both analyze and pull no punches in analyzing the belief
underlying psychological and spirituality which are part of Orthodoxy
the forefront in discussions which are as passionate as they are
"The Orthodox Church indisputably has
the patron of our monastery, but the Greek Fathers have precious little
concept of "just war." The only Church Father I am aware of speaking
in favor of Just War was Blessed Augustine, and I have said in other
that if St. Augustine is your only friend among the Fathers, you are on
ground. I do not see what theological warrant buttresses the assertion
Orthodox Christians believe in just war."
From his analysis and consideration of "slippery words in Orthodoxy" to deeper reflections on the gifts of the Sermon on the Mount which appear in disparate ways ("It was by the Sermon on the Mount not following protocol that an Orthodox elder responded to a subordinate who had let loose a torrent of toxic words against him by giving him a small gift and saying, 'Always talk to me that way!'"), CJS Hayward creates discussion points and insights that lend particularly well to debate in Orthodox circles.
to successful and ultimate mastery to how intention and spiritual
are employed both internally and externally, Hayward creates
are passionate, vivid, and filled with life:
"The martial artist I most respect said, humbly,
that even in the close calls, he had said, "You're the tough guy,"
and backed down, or run away, or almost anything
possible (whatever it took), coming out the loser in every
confrontation, and he went on to say, "Most people who think they want
fight don't really want to
fight." And I submit that the proof of his profound mastery of his art
this: he has passed through minefield after minefield after minefield
such as I
almost certainly could not, without stepping on a mine even once. The
not that he happened to be carrying a first aid kit in case he did step
mine. The point is not that he was carrying a very, very good first aid
case he did step on a mine. The proof of his mastery is that, as of my
knowledge, he had never needed to open his first aid kit, not even once. And indeed martial artists
often defuse a potential fight before most outsiders would recognize
anything going out of the ordinary going on."
arts is reflected in credentials, teachings, and instances in Hayward's
when he was granted extraordinary realizations and experiences that
Orthodoxy beliefs and underlying messages, this book is a synthesis of
work and revelations. It invites thinking Orthodoxy readers and
alike to reconsider some of the basic tenets of belief in a new way.
contemporary discourse on Orthodoxy's presence in and ongoing relevance
current daily living will find The
Orthodox Martial Art is Living the Sermon on the Mount
wide-ranging, and thought-provoking. It's essential reading for those
link the underlying foundations of Orthodoxy to modern times.
Return to Index
$24.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Power of PR
Parenting: How to Raise Confident, Resilient, and Successful Children
Public Relations Strategies connects two seemingly-disparate
subjects in a
survey that working parents, in particular, will appreciate.
initially question how strategic
public relations techniques can
apply to basic childrearing, but Marjie Hadad's connections between the
astute, entertaining, and realistic; from managing chaos with grace to
self-confidence in children and encouraging them to be their best.
are passionate and lively: "...be
prepared to manage a time commitment to chauffer, watch and cheerlead.
parents, we are the executive producers, and it’s on us to oversee the
keep all costs within the defined budget, and ensure that our children
learning and having a great time doing it. Again, and this is really
It’s NOT about perfection, winning an award, or becoming professional.
enjoyment and strengthening self-esteem and poise."
different aspects of a
parent's reactions to life
events and the process of supporting their child come to life. These
addressing issues of safety in public (whether it be on the streets or
altercations and strangers on a bus), being laid off from work, and
circumstances which influence family dynamics, parenting, and raising
be strong individuals.
rules, lessons, and guidelines
come into play in virtually every aspect of life, while her candid
of her own world and the hard lessons learned from life events
concepts and how they play out in the real world.
in no other
parenting guide is the message of positivity
so strongly profiled. Perhaps nowhere else are the public relations
to success so powerfully connected to parenting approaches and choices.
make that definitely—The
Power of PR Parenting should be made
a foundation acquisition for any library strong in parenting books,
in building relationships and approaches cemented by the real-world
applications of business principles, and any book club or parenting
interested in lively discussions of what it means to be a powerful
teacher to one's children.
Return to Index
Sex, Drugs and Navel-Gazing
Edingsville Village Press
Ordering Link: https://www.amazon.com/Sex-Drugs-Navel-Gazing-American-Joyride/dp/B0BF2ZJVYR
Sex, Drugs and Navel-Gazing: An American Joyride Through Basque Country and South West France is a spirited romp that represents both a travelogue and a humorous erotic adventure. It will attract readers via its ribald adventures of counterculture narrated in a voice that doesn't just attract reader interest, but pulls like a magnet.
An early example of this immediate draw is
the story's opening lines: "In adventures to foreign lands
assorted crew of committed degenerates, it always helps to have a local
as part of the squad. Traveling exclusively with a bunch of American
twenty-somethings with Peter Pan syndrome trying to relive the glory
days is an
embossed, gold-letter cardstock invitation to a disaster party."
William MacDuff begins his odyssey (aka
"a sordid reunion of a bunch of recovering frat boys in Europe")
in the coastal Basque town of San Sebastián, where the author and his
compatriots are "hopping the pond" to France for a week in a quiet
His observation of this choice and its
impact is anything but staid or for readers used to travelogues that
wonder of foreign locales: "...it turns out I physically
more than seventy-two consecutive hours in Basque Country. That place
disgustingly perfect little piece of hellish paradise. It is a ghastly
The story unfolds with all the sordid
details, escapades, and drama of a travel experience that embraces
different people, joining them with shared situations filled with
and the jocular interactions between boys, men, and those on the cusp
Those who choose Sex, Drugs and
Navel-Gazing will find it a joyride not only into sex and
drugs, but an
exploration of the intersection of different European cultures. The
encounters different people of all ages, saturating himself in "two of
universal languages, booze and women" as he connects with vastly
individuals from all walks of life.
In effect, Sex, Drugs and Navel-Gazing represents
a cross-cultural odyssey whereby new adults and adults create an
of coordinated and uncoordinated life rendezvous to illustrate heady
sometimes dangerous) interactions and lessons.
Readers looking for a journey replete with
sex, drugs, and cross-cultural revelations will find themselves joining
author on this promised joyride. The only requirement is that any
correctness or judgment be left behind. Boys will be boys, and the
of their growth can be found here and relived by the open mind
the open road where growth and discovery exist alongside crossroads of
revelation and angst.
Libraries seeking the rollicking joyride of
a European road trip should place Sex, Drugs and Navel-Gazing
at the top
of their acquisition lists.
Return to Index
Rachel L. Rider
$24.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Who You Are Is How You Lead is for any
leader who has felt
exhausted by the effort, and who seeks insights on how to better guide
without impacting personal survival mechanisms or sacrificing personal
outside the company.
says, this book is a tapestry of experiences reflected not just by the
but those around her. It echoes her years of working with executives
by their successes as much as their failures and surveys the patterns
achievement that demand a more complex skill set from business leaders.
guide is clearly stated from the start: "No
one tells you that there is an unwritten part of your job description
leader. At the highest levels of the organization, there is an implicit
skills required to succeed, skills that you’ve likely spent little time
developing. It was most likely your ability to execute that drove your
and promotions until now."
skills can lead to success conundrums that stymie leaders unless this
employed as a guideline for identifying, understanding, and ultimately
disrupting the patterns that can stymie upward-bound leaders in many
survival mechanisms that translate to superpowers to handling company
acquisitions challenges and considering the lessons of adaptation that
seeming untenable situations.
cemented by real-world experiences from Rider's life and those around
bringing a grounded sense of life experience to the table that reflects
just one, but a range of business and personal adaptation processes.
from business circles would seem the likely audience for Who
You Are Is How You Lead, but ideally the concept of
patterns and lessons won't be limited to this audience alone. Many a
and book reading group devoted to empowerment and pattern-breaking
find much fodder for discussion in this book's premises on how to
bigger" rather than just being known as an "anchor in the
Return to Index
$18.99 Hardcover/$12.99 Paper/$.99 ebook
Baby Dragon's Big Sneeze teaches kids
ages 3-7 about empathy and
trust, and will delight read-aloud parents seeking books that are
for their adventures and emotional insights.
colorful, fun illustration to Sheryl Bass's exploration as a sick baby
finds that his fiery sneezes are causing problems for everyone around
those threatened by his destructive potential find it within their
forgive and help him?
bravely enters the cave to discover the truth about this fiery dragon's
kinds of emotional lessons in her story, from empathy and
courage, family connections, unexpected relationships that can emerge
adversarial situations, and understanding one's world.
love fairytales and dragon stories will find the book's initial allure
promise of a dragon situation will give them the edge to open
emotional topics that kids of this age typically don't understand.
will find Baby Dragon's Big Sneeze
attractive, and a popular choice for read-aloud parents and kids who
Return to Index
Midshipmouse: Time and
Brass Button Books
$32.99 Hardcover/$16.99 Paper/$6.99 ebook
Paperback available wherever fine books are sold.
Hardcover: order via website or order/purchase at Naval Academy
Midshipmouse: Time and Tide
sails the mouse kingdom with the final book in a trilogy about a
nautical house mouse's seafaring adventures.
the cusp of graduating from the
Naval Mouse Academy, Chester experiences new challenges and adventures
pursues his goals.
Vandewalle contributes to Chester's world, bringing him to life with
(hardback and ebook versions) or black and white (soft cover book)
illustrations, accented by four thumbnail sketches within, as the story
final year of training
should be a snap, but when he faces mouse traps, tries to help a fellow
overcome failing grades, and faces a dangerous predator that demands he
training he's barely absorbed (much less applied to the real world),
finds his paws full.
attempts to build
character and purpose through hard life lessons as well as the
study, and moral and ethical questions unfold as Chester begins to
the pursuit of learning is also a process of testing his abilities
lessons are even completed.
Weisberg has a winning,
likeable character in Chester the mouse. She weaves realistic Naval
experiences into the fictional story, providing young readers with an
especially vivid journey through naval studies which are usually not
to young readers.
fantasy and fun opens with a
strike fighter squadron composed of a mouse strapped to an eagle's
back. As the
Super Eagle's maneuvers test Chester's stomach and abilities, so other
experiences arise to test his mettle and determination.
is also replete in
educational examples that kids will find hilarious and familiar:
the platoon offers one hawberry for each raspberry but
the commanding officer requests double the amount of hawberries and the
doesn’t have them, now we are talking about imaginary numbers. So, we
like this…” Chester continued jotting numbers and symbols.
“Why don’t they offer the asparagus instead?” Dilly suggested.
seem quite large and puzzling and humans who appear to "speak cat,"
along with the routines of Academy life, bring to life Chester, his
and humans that mirror the mouse's Naval life. Midshipmen First Class
and T. Briggs, who befriend the brave mice, bring facets of the Naval
life in a rollicking series of adventures that involve readers of all
the worlds of man and mouse ... and Naval Academy experiences.
result is a fantasy, an
adventure, a coming-of-age tale, and a thought-provoking venture into
of Naval training through the eyes of a mouse who wisely observes that
challenges will continue far beyond classroom walls.
and readers who enjoyed
the prior books in the series, or who look for a vivid tale of struggle
change ala Watership Down, will find the Naval
Academy milieu and
pursuits of man and mouse to be inviting, action-packed, and fun as
unusual friendships and hones his abilities.
winds and following seas.” Chester spoke with force and
volume, “Whatever you do and wherever you go, strive valiantly and dare
Return to Index
978-1-958459-08-9 $24.99 Hardcover/$3.99 Kindle
book in the
Caitlin and Rio adventure series for ages 8-12 presents a new dilemma
a girl and her magical cat when a pack of wild coyotes threatens
recapping Ragdoll cat Rio and human Caitlin's previous adventures
smooth introduction that allows newcomers to immediately understand the
milieu of the two, while prior fans can choose to skip the review to
right into the story in the second chapter, which opens with a Saturday
adventure run through this lively tale, from a new family in the
to the reappearance of the ever-evil MacDougal, along with a
pack of wild coyotes.
tense encounters, Caitlin and Rio seem to have their hands and paws
a good thing they have best friends to help. It's also a plus that
magical abilities give them an added edge over evil's powers.
an engrossing story that once again tests Caitlin and Rio on many
their inherent abilities and connections with each other and supportive
to their determination to try to lead an ordinary life under
circumstances. This objective is too often tested, but Caitlin remains
determined to enjoy her childhood: "The
morning of the party, Caitlin was determined that she was not going to
anything upset her."
winter and coming holiday festivities also lend an atmospheric seasonal
as Caitlin and Rio become involved with animated fighting Snowmen and
decorations that develop new ways of fighting the coyote pack.
protect Caitlin from these wild teeth, but both feel danger hot on
as their different defenses fall apart.
find The Coyote King spirited. It's
filled with confrontations, realizations and discoveries, holiday
and the injection of evil into the celebratory picture.
The Coyote King is another winning
adventure that both adds to the
series and stands nicely on its own for newcomers.
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Ella Learns to Dance is a picture book
filled with lovely
illustrations that reinforce the story of achieving an impossible dream.
not seem impossible to most, but Ella is an elephant who loves the
moves of ballet dancers on television, and longs to emulate their
a ballet class evokes laughter among her peers because “Whoever
heard of an elephant that does ballet?”
friends aren't the end-all of her dreams, because her determination
first to observe the class in action, then to tackle the most basic
requirements of the dance, which at first feel impossible for her to
off. That's the underlying message in a fine story that invites young
to understand that hard work and a big dream can produce winning
and libraries seeking fictional stories that excel in illustration
reinforcing an underlying message of positivity with a whimsical touch,
find Ella Learns to Dance offers an
important lesson in achievement.
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The Extraordinary Curiosities of Ixworth and
978-1-7388707-0-7 $12.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
seeking a compelling adventure will find The Extraordinary
Ixworth and Maddox a fine bend of
mystery and fantasy. It's about a pre-teen who makes
curious London shop owners, then embarks on a series of adventures
spells, a missing magician, and encounters with strange creatures such
Once an herbalist's shop, then abandoned,
the newly revamped store transforms overnight. Middle grade readers
piqued by the blend of old-fashioned language and the portent of
adventure that these changes promise: "How Chloe Ashley—a
everyday girl who went to school, rode the bus, did chores and loved
to be friends with Mr. Ixworth and Mr. Maddox is a tale, like many,
born from a
single coincidental moment."
When Chloe befriends the two odd proprietors
of the shop, she falls into an adventure and world she never saw
Maddox finds his friendship tested and his world upended as a result: “Essentially,
a magician is the landlord of his realm. He can Evict anyone he
“Why would Ixworth Evict you?” said Chloe. “You’re friends.”
“I don’t know,” said Maddox. “I’m not even sure it was him. It was a very strong spell.”
As events unfold and Chloe and Maddox pursue
an elusive and odd truth, the ordinary becomes extraordinary at
turns and in all levels of their pursuit, whether it be landing in an
house or discovering that modern technology can be used to solve
as a map of London tacked to the wall of this strange place which
in as ordinary a thing as a hat rack.
J.D. Grolic encourages young readers to
pursue the clues and unusual presence of magic in their own lives. As
story and friendships evolve, this audience will become thoroughly
twists and turns which contrast exceptional moments with everyday
The wry sense of humor that unexpectedly
accompanies many of these scenes is nicely done: "Chloe was
take a picture with her mobile. She would call it Maddox Taking a Bath
River Tyburn. They would laugh about it later, but the seriousness of
situation stopped her, and she decided instead to just watch things
Libraries and young readers will find the
book's title, The Extraordinary Curiosities of Ixworth and
up to its name and promise as Chloe and Maddox turn up some surprising
revelations about London, which is tinged with a magic that, to Maddox,
"sticks out like a sore thumb." It also attracts with a quest that
will revise the characters' lives and test their friendship in a story
comes so packed with surprise and delight that it's hard to put down.
Return to Index
Star is the third book in the Rise
and Fall of Dani Truehart series, and opens with a powerful scenario
in its prologue that claims the narrator has "just made the biggest
mistake of my life" before a terrible accident.
then awakens to the
impact her talent manager has on
her life as he and his creepy assistant Carlton force her to add fuel
fire of her tragedy by involving her in a cover-up.
is no ordinary girl.
She's a pop star whose talents
have propelled her to the top, but she's not immune to making poor
the influences of those around her who are determined to preserve her
Dani faces the impact of
her decisions, she falls prey
to the notion that her career is worth any sacrifice. Even another
lure of her abilities and their ongoing appeal and strength cannot be
under any circumstances:
everything going on in my life offstage, my performance is sheer
wipes away any misgivings I’ve had about the choices I’ve made over the
few days. I am meant to be on this stage and give my fans what they
Whatever it takes to keep me here is what needs to happen."
Dani faces violations on
many levels and comes to
realize her own strength and choices in handling those around her, she
on a different stage of empowerment and comes to acknowledge the moral
ethical sacrifices involved in reaching for the stars.
Kwasniewski crafts a
powerful voice in following Dani's
rise and fall and her blossoming self-awareness:
“I live and breathe
my career. If I’m not touring, I’m recording, or rehearsing, or making
appearances. I don’t think there’s anything in this world I need more
music. It’s taken so much for me to get here; I never really had a
I’m a high school dropout. My career has torn my family apart, ruined
relationship with my mom, boyfriend, and best friend. I’ve given up
to become Dani Truehart. There is nothing more to me right now. Maybe
older, a husband or some kids. But I’ve never really imagined those
my future because I was always told to focus on getting here. As
shallow as that sounds, this is me one hundred percent, warts and all.
and make my mistakes in the public eye."
comes to life for prior fans and newcomers to the series, offering many
touching moments of self-inspection and life processes that can serve
points for teen reading groups.
of music, romance, and women's issues, Falling
Star is a powerful story highly recommended for any library
strong in teen
fiction, and for young adults attracted to stories of growth and
Return to Index
The Fish Stick Detective
Austin Macauley Publishers
$4.95 e-book/$7.95 paperback/$23.95 hardcover
Detective presents picture book
readers with the zany specter of fish stick Hake Pollock, whose
office on the corner of Tartar and Gorton is so hot, he feels like he
when his next case bursts through the door:
Great-Dane burst into his office like a sumo in a sauna –too hot and
“The diamond is gone!” she cried.
The fish stick detective looked up. “The Neil Diamond?”
At this point, it should be more than
evident that this story is not just for kids. John Kilby's whimsical
plays, references to fish and culture, and hard-boiled detective
paired with impossible characters, gives it many literary allusions and
references that will prove hilarious to adults who choose this book for
read-aloud to the young.
As the fishy story evolves, Hake finds
himself in dogged pursuit of the Neil Diamond, encountering a host of
in the process. From the natural history of prime Suspect One, Humboldt
Sir Humboldt Penn-Gwynn, to the possibilities of a magpie who likes to
bright and shiny objects, the jokes just keep coming.
Brilliant, colorful illustrations by Mark
Penrod personalize, dramatize, and excellently represent these
characters as the story unfolds.
of approaches displays the nuances of a hard-boiled detective story
paired with the
wordplay of a delightful literary
of all ages seeking a story and illustrations that are exceptional in
original thinking and colorful action will welcome The Fish
Stick Detective's captivating,
uniquely whimsical picture
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$26.28 Hardcover/$17.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Families who choose Miracle Mello for its messages on positivity, keeping hope alive, and experiencing life's miracles will find their read-aloud experience enhanced by not just an uplifting message, but Iole Rosa's gorgeous illustrations.
enjoys a lovely picnic in the park with her mother, but disaster
she becomes separated from her mother while heading home and finds
up a tree in the dark.
has been longing for a kitty of her own. It seems destiny when they
also feels inevitable that they will separate.
Amani-Ghoreyshi explores these miracles
of reconnection, connection, and new beginnings, adults have many
to explore the magic and wonder of life with the young. The
that "miracles happen every day," will both enlighten and provide
hope and understanding to all ages, building a foundation of
adults looking for an uplifting
message about life's changes and handling downturns will find Miracle
Mello an important story to share and discuss, especially
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$26.95 Hardcover/$17.95 Paper/$6.99 Kindle
An Eventer: Dressage, Stadium Jumping, and Cross Country follows
14-year-old Katherine as she works with her horse Piper in eventing (a
photos open the blend
of autobiography and horse
story with images of Katherine at a young age, riding horses at her
grandparents' farm in upstate New York. As her photo-driven story moves
describe how her efforts are a family affair, these action-packed
supplement equally vivid accounts of how event horses are trained,
kids of all ages
will welcome the opportunity
to vicariously experience the world of horse evening through
and images, and will learn much about not just competition, but the
routines of caring for and training a horse.
will learn terms
such as dressage, jumper shows,
on the bridle and free walk as they are paced through every nuance of
Katherine's horse-filled world. The photos also support the story every
and adults seeking
real-world horse stories for
kids will find colorful attraction in Katherine's experiences, which
all ages about the hard work involved in maintaining and training a
horse. Quarter Horse Kids: An Eventer:
Stadium Jumping, and Cross Country will prove highly
educators and young people looking for practical, insightful
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Rock On, Dr. Peanut: 12 Nutty Tales is a delightfully original collection of stories for children ages six and over who like fantasy and whimsical humor.
Dr. Peanut and his gang are well-liked ... by too many people who covet their deliciousness. This could justify going into hiding, but Dr. Peanut is an active peanutrician who needs to be out in the world, and so he circumvents hungry forces by wearing disguises:
"So when talking peanuts go out, they try to fool the giants. They dress up to look like things that giants don’t eat. Sometimes they dress up as mice. (Most giants don’t eat mice.) Sometimes they hide by carrying tree leaves on their heads. (Most giants don’t eat the leaves off trees.)"
Elementary-age kids will relish the
proactive rebellion of talking peanuts who take a stand against hungry
giants. As peanuts, snails, and humans join forces
and other greater causes, readers will follow them through an inviting series of conundrums of kindness, wisdom, science, and wordplay. Enlivened by black and white line drawings by the author, this dozen of thoroughly “nutty” adventures delivers more than a dash of thought-provoking psychological revelation.
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$14.99 Hardcover/$9.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
will find hero Doople takes the unlikely form of a good egg who is more
ordinary, endowed with superpowers. At a very young age Doople dreams
flying, but despite his efforts to reach the sky via climbing, he is
warned that reaching for this particular dream will lead him to fall
listen to the naysayers and insists on his pursuit, until one day a
wind leads to his downfall and others' dire predictions come true. Or,
recover from an egg-shattering event, much less support an impossible
but as Little Doople faces his downfall and enlightenment, a miracle
fueled by a scientist helper who has been studying how to put dooples
to test one's dreams and abilities: by trying.
and libraries that choose Super Doople
for its entertainment promise will find added value in a takeoff on
Dumpty that features a different outcome. A study in positivity and
perseverance emerges that will delight any adult seeking lessons
these concepts for the very young, powered by whimsical, fun
the author in a very important message.
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The Weber House
9781639885794 $14.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
home is haunted. She discovers this fact as her mother is driving them
her father at their latest abode in the small town of Elk River in
Did anyone ask her if she wanted to
move? Of course not. But here she is: collateral damage in a family
build a new life.
Weber House will reach young
adults interested in
mystery and detective stories with its powerful story of friendships
problem-solving. Entering eighth grade is supposed to be fun, but
discovers that starting all over is easier said than done.
Ironically, as her life becomes filled with
new friends, ghosts, pirates, and another outcast who is proud of her
American roots, Nicole comes to discover more about history, prejudice,
superstition than she ever experienced in New Jersey.
allure of a ghost story and mystery to build the foundations of an
appealing story of friendships, new beginnings, and unexpected, unusual
connections made between very different girls.
story for its supernatural promise will come to appreciate its
messages about racism, bullying, and proactive thinking. These create
messages about perseverance, problem-solving, and life lessons.
to note that the Native American historical and cultural components of
story are reinforced by Lance's consultations with experts, including "Chief Richard Menard from the
Missisquoi Abenaki Nation. Without knowing me whatsoever, Chief Menard
read the story but offered it to others in his family and the Abenaki
in Swanton, Vermont."
as a gift
for his daughter to reflect their experiences and shared vacations in
evolved into an important story compelling both for its action and
and for its cultural and social insights.
seeking the allure of the supernatural juxtaposed with real-world
and concerns will find The Weber House an immersive experience that draws from its
opening lines and proves
riveting to its unexpected, powerfully thought-provoking conclusion.
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Winnie Goes to School
Joy K. Ball
$18.99 Hardcover/$12.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
School connects nature with
learning in the story of a curious bird who wants to join a classroom.
Manuela Pentangelo provides gorgeous, nicely
detailed color illustrations to accompany Joy K. Ball's vivid story of
Wren's venture into the classroom of the Desert Hills Academy in
its unexpected results.
Arizona's nature is profiled as Ball
explores the personality of curious Winnie, who lives in a comfortable
cactus, but cultivates an interest in the outside world and new
None of the creatures she queries quite know
what the human kids do in a classroom, and so she sets out to conduct
research, inadvertently becoming part of the learning process herself
satisfies her sense of adventure and makes new discoveries.
Picture book readers and read-aloud parents
will relish Winnie's story as the bird learns the basics: "Winnie
learned that the symbols in books are called letters…and letters make
that form words. Winnie was learning to read! Later Winnie learned that
Cactus Wren is the state bird of Arizona."
Besides instilling a love of learning in
young readers, perhaps the most important message represented by
excursion is that of appreciating the outdoors environment in general.
brings the Sonoran Desert and its creatures to life, celebrating both
Southwest and the adventures to be enjoyed while pursuing new
Libraries and read-aloud parents seeking colorful lessons on both will find Winnie Goes to School a captivating winner.Winnie Goes to School
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