November 2020 Review Issue
Fantasy & Sci Fi Mystery & Thrillers
978-1-62253-369-5 $16.95 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
provides the first book in the New Earth Chronicles and follows
twenty-five-year-old Eena's life in the new milieu after the Solar
2034, when remnants of humanity forewarned of the disaster fled
the surface was being ravaged.
is on one of the first planes in the air post-apocalypse, flying
to a secret destination where she is told her new duty: to work with
part of the Social Engineering Initiative to rebuild humanity.
adversity comes opportunity. For some. The Solar Flash has
unleashed new avenues of power and control that sweep Eena and New
Gavin Michael into a strange new world where all modern conveniences
along with many ideals of social and political freedom.
military has hunkered down, safe in bunkers against the EMP and the
world changes it's brought both from technology's destruction and the
weather that has destroyed much of humanity. So has an elite ruling
prepared to emerge as not just the survivors but the victors of this
these would-be rulers find themselves cut off from the newly founded
the Americans which has formed in their absence.
a Anunnaki/human hybrid, is their ace in the hole for reclaiming
victory, but she has her own purpose in mind as she tracks down the
portal to the land of Mu and discovers giant augurs that may
struggle in her own world.
first, Victoria Lehrer's The Augur's View seems
standard post-apocalyptic story of survival and power struggle. Adding
sci-fi elements of a quest, an ancient force, and young adults who
find themselves a place in this deadly new world creates further
intrigue and fantasy that take the story beyond one of either survival
creates a full-flavored world that questions not just the
efforts to survive, but the choices and consequences of rebuilding
a different light.
result is a fast-paced story that embraces all kinds of social,
political, moral, and ethical questions while remaining firmly rooted
dreams, ambitions, and struggles of young people who reach for a better
a powerful opener to a hero's journey in which the world beckons
with new opportunity and danger, the promise of futuristic science and
technology, and the dreams of survivors who both struggle and love on
and adult readers alike will appreciate the added layers of
complexity and adventure that Victoria Lehrer adds into a vivid story
discoveries and options for change.
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the Painted Tomb
Independently Published Publisher - LCP
ASIN : B08GJXC7LB Price: $4.79
and fantasy readers seeking vivid writing and stories that stand
out will find Brenda Hill's From the Painted Tomb a
survey of Krista Hawthorne, whose only legacy is an ankh
pendant inherited from
her deceased mother.
on her wedding day, she seeks a new life in the Appalachian
Mountains, determined to avoid romantic entanglements and rebuild her
life as a
newspaper reporter. But after accepting a dinner invitation one night
the full moon, a mythological creature attacks, plunging her into a
of terror in which she can't escape. She knows the beast is still out
she wants to escape, but the officials doubt her story and demand she
during the investigation.
ability to weave a sense of self-discovery and
growth into its concurrent subplots of love and death makes for an
approach designed to keep readers on their toes about the outcome of
Krista's attempts to survive, change, and uncover the truth as she
Add an Egyptian back-story, a complex series of
involvements that test
Krista's courage and her ability to love and trust another, and
intrigue and supernatural horror for a thoroughly engrossing
exploration that will leave readers guessing to the end.
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Lone Wolf Press Ltd.
Book 2 of
Series is recommended for young adult fantasy and mythology readers,
those who enjoyed the prior The Twelve Labors of Nick,
and continues the
saga of the nerdy son of immortal centaur Chiron. Nick is tasked with
further Labors when he is transported to the world of Mýthos and
angers Zeus and Hera, who send him on an impossible quest.
Too late, he
shouldn't mess with Zeus. He pays the price with an assignment which
thwarts his attempts to rely on his missing father, but sends him
deeper into a
world in which his half-horse heritage proves a dubious asset.
Helen takes a
back burner to completing these added tasks as Nick finds himself not
battling too many mythological creatures, but on the front lines of an
to save the centaurs, as a race.
heritage as a
half-centaur isn’t the only incongruity he brings into this world. His
half is equally at odds with the events that unfold, and nowhere is
nicely depicted as in the dialogue and thought processes Nick employs
all the trials and creatures that he encounters: "Bro!”
Nick crowed to Helios. “You completely rock!” He put out a
fist to bump, but the gold-crowned god only stared. “I usually rest at
said Helios, “but I’ll make an exception for you.”
“Dude,” Nick yelled. “You’re like the
uber-Uber!” Man, this was so cool! He’d
actually been here before while hitching a ride from Mount Elbrus. But
at night was different: the full moon seemed huge, and the stars seemed
touch his head."
determination not to forgive Nick's transgressions adds a note of irony
whimsical humor to the story of his trials and tribulations. This will
teens expecting a predictable story of heroism and achievement: "That left Nick with a bunch of cows,
with no place to put them! But Hera, it seemed, was up to her old
cows started to moo, and it wasn’t a happy sound: soon, this was mixed
groans, even screams, while some eyes went wide as . . . Hera’s. “What’s happening?!” Nick yelled,
trying not to get squashed as hooves ran for the trees."
with a quest atmosphere to attract teen fantasy readers looking for
different— especially those already familiar with Nick's persona and
quest—who receive another adventure fully in keeping with the prior
while standing nicely on its own for newcomers to Nick's changing world.
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Jeffrey W. Tenney
979-8681381174 $12.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Author Website: www.jeffreywtenney.com
Real Enough is a dystopian survival story
revolving around four
teams dropped into the Canadian wilderness and charged with a survival
like none other, for a reality show that suddenly becomes too real.
As if their
wasn't difficult enough, interpersonal relationships quickly come into
even though it's been less than two weeks since drop-off.
a script, complete with introductory show premise, a cast of
chapters that coincide with changing days and viewpoints. This approach
adds drama and ensures that readers don't lose their way in the
encounters and perceptions as each character finds their skills and
tested in different ways.
self-realizations form one of the threads that runs through these
the reality of trying to survive collides with the notion that they can
rescued at any time: "This will be my
first and only wilderness adventure, win or lose. I learned something
myself already: I don’t like being hungry.” She laughed.
vanishes and death visits their efforts, the teams begin to realize
only has something greater than a reality show happened to the world,
but that they
may truly be the last survivors, charged with eking out a life in an
they are ill-equipped to handle long-term.
explored the idea of the world changing after a group or individual is
from it, but Jeffrey W. Tenney adds dimensions that place his story
more on the
level of the intriguing TV series Lost,
where a series of puzzles keeps the characters guessing over not just
world's sudden absence, but an underlying plot or plan that may be
their moves and struggles.
Real Enough will keep readers guessing
about this and other
circumstances as each individual finds their abilities and future
tested in an
is a gripping
story that moves from the anticipated wilderness survival tale to
more engrossing and unexpected. It's a tale of real survival on a
and physical level that tests the humanity of the survivors and their
Fans of Lord of the Flies, The
Last One, and other dystopian survival pieces are in for a
treat with a tale that includes some elements of these classics (group
and individual pursuits), but probes the unexpected until a conclusion
satisfyingly wraps up all the possibilities and ironies of the group's
will keep readers guessing and delighted in the tests that keep the
members reassessing their ultimate survival skills and the lengths they
to when the world changes.
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Rone Isa: A Dystopian Sci-Fi Novel is
set in the future city
Agnus Sistra IV, where an isolated engineer has just succeeded in
life the AI singularity Enoya,
whose birth includes a struggle to understand the world and affairs of
Dargaud Whispa, is either not the best teacher or is the most dangerous
because the lessons he imparts and his views of her abilities holds the
to change the world in an especially deadly manner.
books have been written about singularity and AI takeovers, including
classic Colossus, but Robin
story holds a different flavor because of its focus on Dargaud's
his creation's evolution beyond her initial spark of sentience.
capable of "a great many things". So is Dargaud, beyond the initial
flash point of his ultimate creation. Like Frankenstein, the monster is
apparent. Unlike the classic story, its true impact is not immediately
discernable, but lies in a process of discovery that carries Dargaud
a probe of how identity is manufactured, intellect and knowledge leads
artistic creation, and an unreliable new technology embeds itself into
fabric of human endeavors in a different way.
about AI delve into the creator's reactions, actions, and struggles,
juxtaposes the evolution of both in a refreshingly unique manner,
life the evolving purposes, experiences, and challenges of both.
confrontation weave themselves into both of their lives, Enoya begins
consider the curious juxtaposition of probability, possibility, and
she ponders how to live most effectively.
relationship between these two and their world forms the nexus of a
transformation that drives a powerful story. Unlike most of its
competitors, Rone Isa moves far
from initial threats
to consider the foundations of what it means to be and stay human.
responses and allegories to life to intrigue and thriller components
as the world changes under Enoya's influences, readers are treated to
unusual blend of philosophical, psychological, and social inspection.
eschew the usual cat-and-mouse games for deeper insights on a construct
would defy her creator's vision of her purpose.
metaphorical description, allegory and philosophical inspection, and
relationship progression that rests deeply on a solid psychological
of tension and discovery, Rone Isa
more than a dystopian story. It will appeal to thriller and suspense
alike as it drives its narrative toward a decision that seems
surprising, all at once.
recommended for its attention to detail, character development, and
twists of plot, Rone Isa is a
standout in the literature of dystopian AI singularity.
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Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/35uaZeH
Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/3hafmO5
Books & Books: https://bit.ly/2R2zdUG
is set in rural
sixteenth-century England, where a royal family faces the curse brought
strange bird and an archer. The threat doesn't just come from a spell,
but the psychological impact it has on a mother and her entire family.
Isabella finds her mother's obsession with the curse is
challenging life as much as the threat itself. Charged with trying to
changes that shield her both from magic and her mother's reactions,
finds herself a prisoner of love as much as adversity.
a child, Isabella enjoys some of the few contacts she has with the
outside world: "A journey through the woods had always been
daily highlight. She looked forward to it, as did Johndor. He would
the different leaves of bushes and trees and instruct her on the
each. The next day, he would test her. Isabella loved the challenge.
had a special place in his heart for the child, and feeling she was
his care, he would not deprive her of their daily outing."
taste of the forbidden, her mother's drive to keep her safe, and
how the inhabitants of the outside world find their lives entwined with
fate of the castle's residents makes for a thought-provoking story that
family relationships that evolve under a cloud of threat.
(whose name has been changed to Celeste by her protective
mother) is the focal point, despite the ongoing bad luck which
follows her footsteps into the world and inside the castle.
Shaw does an outstanding job of capturing Isabella's emotions as
she blossoms and confronts the things that scare her the most: "She
began to fear the change this act would bring. She feared that she
her identity with it. She was used to her cursed life. She had accepted
any chance of happiness would always be short-lived. She started
feet as she identified herself more and more with the cursed arrow."
her quest for a stolen heritage, life, and happiness, Isabella is
forced into the kinds of changes everyone feared.
of romantic fantasy stories who enjoy an evolutionary
exploration of a young girl's revised role in not just her family but
choices and her future will find The Spell truly
captivating. It's a
work that casts its own special magic on the reader's heart as Isabella
an uncertain path into the world and her true heritage.
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Jonathan Michael Erickson
Gold Dragon Books
1948746077 $12 Paperback/$3.99 ebook
Tales of Dharma is a prequel to the Song
of Ancients series,
providing a fine introduction for newcomers and prior fans alike as it
on events covered in previous books.
In the Andromeda Galaxy, early
colonists of the planet Dharma
have their hands full. The story opens with the planet's discovery,
an entry from the logbook of UIG Scout
Nathan Vasilevsky in 2425 CE: "I FOUND HER. THE ONE I’ve been
for. A true beauty. A gem glimmering in the darkness. It’s crazy that I
discovery leads to its colonization, but unlike most sci-fi stories of
colonies, Jonathan Erickson adopts a unique format that presents short
from each colonist's perspective. This both enhance Dharma's
reveals their own choices, motivations, and perceptions for embarking
introductory story by a scout who has left behind love and a life as a
and husband to venture into the unknown, for one example. He writes
feelings to Jade, whom he will never see again. Was his choice worth
self-revelations are an important piece of the puzzle of discovery as
realizes that his many preparations can't address all possibilities: "I can hide out in the simulations all
I want, but without other, actual people in them, I know it’s just a
Can’t forget that outside all the sensorium-candy of the simulations,
physical body is in a tiny scouting ship with cold black void in all
directions. Waking up to that every morning, it’s hard to not to think
how little my life has amounted to. How insignificant I am."
being a Buddhist, the only concept which he readily recalls is that of
And so the planet earns a name and, with it, Nathan embraces new
about why he left and where he is destined to travel.
first-person usage makes for a perfect introduction, but in true
the changing experiences of the characters, each short story assumes a
different perspective and presentation that contributes to a satisfying
story opens in the Dharmic wasteland, where Deanna McCadin and her
aging) husband Tamroh appreciate both the beauty of their outdoors
the promise of a relic which has spoken to others in the past.
speak to her, Deanna thinks she is prepared and is properly cautious: "She has an ominous intuition that the
relic is speaking things she already knows, though she does not
them." It turns out that she is not.
contributes another piece of the puzzle and background that enhances
series stories about relics, fate, and survival. The mind-whispering
revelations change each character in different ways and adds engrossing
and insights that expose the purpose of the relics and their difficult
weave their lives into each other's objectives and experiences as the
expand the concepts of these mind-talking relics and probe both human
extraterrestrial influences on Dharma. This contributes an involving,
probe of belief, technology, and secrets that affect social development
Tales of Dharma is a sci-fi story that is
evolutionary in content. It presents a series of interlinked tales that
contribute to the series and help this book stand alone as a powerful
to human endeavors and survival efforts.
Tales of Dharma is very highly
recommended reading, both for prior
fans of the series and newcomers looking for philosophical,
spiritual depth to their sci-fi choices.
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Hardback: 978-1-7353278-1-5 $24.99
Paperback: 978-1-7353278-0-8 $19.99
Ebook: 978-1-7353278-2-2 $ 9.99
Author page: amazon.com/author/yanabarbelo
Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KPCMM26 PHaperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1735327808
Umbra blends horror,
sci-fi, and social commentary in a piece that revolves around a future
harbinger of seeds, and the planting of a garden that brings darkness,
to the world.
a literary and horror play on the Garden of Eden, opening with an
introduction that adds a twist to the Genesis story of the world's
leads nicely into the dilemma of Ohno, a woman who is chained to the
of her shadow for life.
with protecting precious cargo even against her evil shadow as
she bobs on a yawl at sea, Ohno's perceptions craft the ebb and flow of
which is wonderfully surprising in its juxtapositions of angst and
along, her vessel was the only thing visible on the endless blue
water and sky. She was alone here, tossed by an unknown sea, sailing
unknown destination she might never reach. When she’d first found
this pitchblack yawl on the open sea, she had thought of giving the sea
but was afraid she’d get it wrong. The wrong name was like a disease
killed you slowly. It could make you disappear. Ohno wasn’t willing to
that risk. She decided to call it Sea and promptly fell head over heels
darkness, and strife continually evolve and change as Ohno
makes decisions, faces their consequences, and introduces a force into
decimated world that threatens to transform it in unexpected ways.
Yana Barbelo does a
fine job of incorporating descriptions of the growing horror Ohno
peppering her story with metaphorical depictions that are evocative to
fine psychological tension: "She
would never be anything but a haunted house, with no memories, only
shadows. Just like these, she
thought, looking out the window of the 13th Wagon as it passed the next
town: a handful of dilapidated huts half-sunk in mud, with black,
windows, empty like the eye sockets of a skull. The eastern slopes of
Sierra Nevada had quite a few of them, abandoned after the gold rush
when there was no more gold in local rivers, only fish, but who cared
fish in those days? That’s what the Blue Clown said, passing by her
day before. When Albion Madness struck, he said, some ghost towns had
experienced a bit of a renaissance, and became populated by renegade
seeking scenery and off-the-grid dwellings. Maybe, he said, she’d meet
day.Maybe she would. Squeak-squeak-thump
… Squeak-squeak-thump …"
attention to the sights, sounds, and evolving horror in this
world captures tension in an excellent blend of horror and literary
This will delight audiences looking for a haunting story of moving
murder and plague, demons and darkness, and spiritual devotion alike.
readers may find some of the spiritual components disturbing, the
result is a simmering work of visionary horror that weaves a question
identity and purpose into a larger quest for the truth in a strangely
of freedom and redemption is highly recommended for horror, visionary
and speculative literature readers alike.
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Drive in '65
Sandra Lynne Reed
9781735037608 $12.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
will reach families and travelers alike. It tells of two sisters who
pack the van with five kids, their mother, and supplies for a
road trip of North America.
Sandra Lynne Reed was one of those kids. Her account
of a road trip of adventure lead by strong women who lived in an era
were not so independent or able to manage their own money and travel
an engrossing read.
story serves as both a flashback to another era and as a lesson in
tenacity and perseverance. Reed recalls a myriad of encounters and
along the way, all of which taught her valuable lessons about poverty,
survival, and family failings.
contrasts in the cultures she encounters, to her childhood Alaskan
roots, are nicely presented, as are descriptions of her family's dreams
particular, the unusual challenges and visions of the women who were
models: "My mom, Winnie Reed, was twenty-nine years old,
three children, and gainfully employed. Yet no bank would issue her a
card in her own name. In most states, she couldn't serve on a jury nor
prescribed birth control pills. The doors of Harvard, Princeton,
Columbia were barred to her, and all women, except in the rarest of
circumstances. Her employers paid her less than they did men who did
work. Still, Mom dreamed of seeing more of the world. So she saved any
money and added to our list of travel dreams: jazz music in New
oranges picked right from the trees."
didn't know at the time how extraordinary her mother and aunt
were...but she would find this out in the course of a road trip fraught
continual challenges and discoveries that tested them all.
memorabilia, and Reed's own memories of the journey serve as
testimony to these experiences, bringing readers along for a vivid ride
danger and discovery, from escaping a suspected axe murderer in
encounters with racial conflict between demonstrators and the Ku Klux
so than most road trips across America, The Drive in '65
effectively delves into the hearts and minds of evolving social change
it comes not from the pen of a male used to freedom and opportunities,
a van full of girls and women who face social challenges before their
armchair travelers will be the most likely audience for this
adventure, memoir readers and those interested in women's lives in
America will also want to absorb these vivid descriptions of
close encounters, and unexpected discoveries.
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Lois Ann Nicolai
Black & White: 9781098319786 $14.99
ebook: 9781098319793 $ 2.99
Color: 9781098327569 $32.44
How this New Jersey girl
came to be involved with
community groups which built the foundations of the unexpected activist
she assumed later in life makes for engrossing reading as she returns
New Jersey roots and spends years examining her life and its goals.
Her six adult children were
surprised by her decision to
move to Princeton to become involved in international relations and
However, it was a logical progression to this point, as her memoir
background, and led to some 20 years traveling around the world into 33
developing countries in the role of Citizen Activist.
Her inspirational story
provides the insights others can
utilize to make such changes in their lives. Although Ordinary
People, Extraordinary Times is one individual's story, it
also serves as a blueprint for seeing how personal involvement effects
change, providing inspiration to others at all stages of life who would
better world for themselves, their children, and humanity.
Discussions of cultures and
politics around the world are
very nicely described and presume no prior knowledge about these places
peoples in order to prove engrossing.
Although the black and white
version was not seen, the
power of the color prints in this title is outstanding, and are part of
lends a compelling immediacy to Nicolai's story.
From how she worked a day
job and, at night, made inroads
to realize her dreams and goals to her journeys to remote regions of
readers who enjoy travelogues, stories of personal growth and
the evolution of social and political activist efforts will relish her
story which proclaims, in the course of its autobiography, "Yes We
That attitude and the story
of how one ordinary American
can and did forge a different path serves as inspirational reading
recommended for anyone seeking insights into how personal choices can
into political and social programs that make a difference.
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Grand Canyon Press
ASIN : B08F7CYSNY $4.99 Kindle
Surrender is a memoir about adoption,
legacy, and repeating
patterns of giving up and reconnecting with one's children. It uses the
author's experience to explore these themes, from her legacy as an
tried to justify her adoptive parents' choice to her inadvertent
pattern when, challenged by their divorce, she finds herself unwed,
and in the position of giving up her own child.
a powerful revelation: "When I was
sixteen and not yet wise enough to know what it meant to have a child
him, I surrendered my firstborn son. He was adopted. For the years of
youth, he was my ghost child."
what it meant to be an adopted child: "...as
an adoptee myself, I knew firsthand the difficulties of assembling an
without the crucial, and missing, pieces that came from DNA. From an
I knew I did not fit with the family that had adopted me. There was
inside me, trying to come out. I didn’t know what it was, but growing
sensed my parents watching and waiting for the real me to emerge."
story of her upbringing, her own pregnancy, and the process of
with her 21-year-old child decades later, they gain a strong story of
ties, sacrifices, connections, and dysfunctional family scenarios (as
the adoption process) which navigates psychological and social issues
More so than
most, Surrender isn't just a
singular story of
one girl's experience, but includes experiences of others who are also
mothers and adopted children. As such, it assumes a broader
the processes and the lasting impact a surrender has on both mother and
child: "...my time in the home was not an
interval of bitterness. The interval of bitterness began after I left,
dawned on me that I would have years of not knowing if my child was
dead. The inability to mourn my absent child, or, on an equally
to mourn the death of my young self, made it impossible to put the
references, tables, and information accompany this memoir, providing
data for anyone interested in the adoption process's social, legal, and
Surrender offers a powerful saga of
family and blood bonds, and is
highly recommended reading that should be in any family issues
on the reading list of anyone interested in the lasting impact of an
choice and process on everyone involved.
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Paperback: 978-1-7342796-4-1 $16.95
Hardcover: 978-1-7342796-3-4 $25.95
Kindle/MOBI: 978-1-7342796-5-8 $ 6.50
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wherever-the-road-leads-k-lang-slattery/1137276841?ean=2940163014385
Picture getting married, then spending two years on the road, traveling around the world in a microbus. Wherever the Road Leads: A Memoir of Love, Travel, and a Van documents just such a journey as newlyweds Katie and Tom move through 40,000 miles and four continents in a van that keeps breaking down. This introduces them to new worlds even as it tests their newly cemented relationship and resolve to travel.
with a proposal and a wedding. Their journey brings with it both
negative experiences; not the least of which is the struggle to live in
space together, traveling to areas where they know nobody else.
North Africa, from Europe to the Middle East and India, the couple
through different cultures that reveal their own underlying motivations
prejudices, prompting them to make discoveries about themselves and
Katie Lang-Slattery originally documented their journey both in letters
postcards. Over seventy of these pieces formed the foundation for her
which captures the immediacy of the moment as well as the benefit of
as she writes about their adventures decades later. It's only recently
the reader's benefit) that she turned dinner table stories into this
recollections power a tale replete with adventure. One of the
features of these accounts is their flexibility, adaptation, and sense
in encountering various peoples even under adverse conditions. When
becomes mired in mud, an entire Mexican village turns out to help them.
author's friendly ability to interact with their rescuers even without
the language, and her positive perspective the next morning, reveal
some of the
underlying sentiments of what it takes to embark on and absorb such a
trip: "By morning, the experience had taken
on the rosy glow of a travel adventure."
follows the couple throughout their escapades and encounters. Recreated
dialogue and descriptions lend a "you are here" feel to the story.
travelers who would like to share this journey via microbus and memory
relish Wherever the Road Leads. Its
vivid stories, illustrated with black and white maps, photos, and line
drawings, fully capture the experience of encountering other cultures
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Frank "Gus" Biggio
978-1948677646 $28.00 Hardcover/$13.99 Kindle
Helmand: A View from Inside the Den of Modern War charts the
military service experienced by author and U.S. Marine Captain Frank
Biggio as he services his country, retires from military service into
builds a family, then re-enlists ten years later, to serve in war-torn
Afghanistan's Helmand Province.
There, he and fellow Marines
discovered they were on the
front lines of instigating a new military offensive strategy that
local population in restoring government, ousting the Taliban, and
lives of the Afghan people.
Readers who turn to this
story expecting a chronicle of
military engagement alone will find it much more multifaceted than the
memoir. Biggio brings to the table a powerful inspection of not just
battles, but interactions with local people (destitute, in this case)
they build within these people the power and vested interest to take
their own destinies.
It's a story of struggle,
courage, and diplomatic efforts
that one doesn't usually associate with Marine stories. Biggio adds
research to support his reports and insights about Afghanistan and its
struggles: "Afghanistan continued to
be an enigma for political and military planners. Questions about
where, why, how
many, and when to deploy additional troops persisted. Even if numbers
agreed upon, interservice rivalries caused headbutting about whether
majority of troops would come from the Marine Corps or the U.S. Army.
struggled to paint an optimistic picture of the country amid widespread
of Afghan government corruption and incompetence."
To call this a military
autobiography alone would be to
do The Wolves of Helmand the grave
disservice of oversimplification. It takes a step back from party line
and military processes to add cultural, historical, and social
battles, strategies, and approaches to fighting. It describes not just
in Afghanistan on the author's watch, but precedents for military
other nations: "Admittedly,
Americans at war haven’t always regarded their enemies in the same
manner as Major von Luck and his British antagonists. We’ve dehumanized
our enemies, with names such as “krauts,” “nips,” “chinks,” “gooks,”
“skinnies,” “ragheads,” or “camel fuckers.” I’m not saying it’s right,
war, it can make killing—war’s business—easier. Even with those slurs,
America’s service members have largely comported themselves with honor
dignity on battlefields around the world and treated our enemies with
We did the same in Afghanistan."
The result is a
hard-hitting, analytical, powerful story
that was written years after Biggio's return from his mission. This
adds strength to a story that assesses the hearts, minds, motivations,
effectiveness of a close group of soldiers who strove to make a
understand their unique role in the military.
highly recommended reading, The Wolves of
Helmand is a 'must' for
anyone who would learn about Afghanistan history, culture, conflict,
operations in the new arena of world war.
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The Empty Space
Ebook: 978-1-944815-14-1 $ 4.99
Print: 978-1-944815-15-8 $ 16.97
provides the 4th addition to the Kate Pomeroy mystery series,
tradition of involving Kate in hair-raising confrontations with
Here, a sniper has focused
on one of the most important
people in Kate's life. Kate and Jeremy have fled to Norway under
identities, and neither is leading the kind of life they want. They are
from both the FBI and the Turkish police, who want to extradite her to
despite her innocence, and notorious criminal Vladimir Sokolov is once
Vlad has apparently decided
to punish someone else for a
change, but Kate's new life isn't immune to adversity, and soon she
herself once again immersed in a personal threat that has followed them
Norway, a place where violence is infrequent and shocking.
The assault opens a new
chapter in Kate's life as she
finds herself involved with a group of recruits on a mission to find
neutralize Sokolov’s threat. As she becomes an integral part of a wider
operation that needs her, she moves between being a physician and
As in the previous Kate
books, Linda Watkins does an
outstanding job of juxtaposing Kate's personal and professional lives
outside threats that come from special interests as well as a
psychopath on a
mission. These ongoing threats continue to test Kate's abilities and
resilience, as well as her ability to problem-solve and survive. They
multifaceted, engrossing atmosphere to her story.
Although this is the fourth
book in the series, no prior
familiarity is required with Kate in order to enjoy her latest
confrontations and choices are seamlessly inserted into the story line
for smooth transitions between past experience and present-day threat,
the story moves between Vlad's perceptions and logic and Kate's actions
very satisfying, insightful manner.
Filled with the same
attention to detail that blends
psychological with pathological inspections, The
Empty Space is as engrossing as its predecessors. It offers a
fast-paced series of confrontations and discoveries that will keep
fiction and suspense readers immersed and wondering to the end, which
the door ajar for more Kate experiences while neatly concluding this
Mystery readers are in for a
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Lost Canyon Press
E-book: 978-1-948003-05-6 $ 3.99
Trade paperback: 978-1-948003-06-3 $16.99
is Book 1 in the Jurassic Judgment series. The story opens with reptile
Oakley Laveau's awakening from a blackout with no memory of her last
with her best friend. Events lead to her incarceration on a remote
island for a murder she doesn't recall committing. Set in a near future
dinosaurs have returned, thanks to genetic manipulation, and now are
an isolated island, the prologue explains that death row inmates are
choice of immediate execution or banishment to this dinosaur-laden
involved with fellow inmate Kaleo, who surprisingly has her back in
than one, Oakley is faced with both potential, unexpected romance and
She needs to
survive and field her feelings, but face the truth about her blackout
really happened that night, and why she's been committed to Extinction
will obviously be the audience for Extinction
Island, with its satisfying intrigue, twists and turns, and
lie beyond living on an island of dangerous dinos.
Janice Boekhoff does a fine
job of crafting a protagonist
who is both a heroine and vulnerable, at the same time. Oakley must
many failings in her life, memory, and drive to survive; not the least
is her tendency to keep secrets and make the wrong choices.
Boekhoff also injects humor
into her descriptions in a
subtle, surprising manner: "A sharp
pain in her scalp almost made her yell. She bit her lip to stifle the
she had her way, she'd smack Chubs. How dare he rip hair from her dead
As adversity and threat
grows not just from loose
dinosaurs but the convicts around her, Oakley faces perhaps the
challenge of all—getting a grip on her own psyche and its inherent
Getting off the island
becomes secondary to survival in a
gripping story that offers powerful psychological examinations and
Consider the result as a
suspense thriller with the
backdrop and power of Jurassic Island, the psychological examination of
sociopath's progression in this environment, and the social and
challenges of manipulating not just dino genetics, but human beings.
fast-paced story of confrontation
and survival will keep readers thoroughly engaged right up to a
promises further adventures and adversity. Extinction
Island is highly recommended reading for fans of dystopian
Jurassic Park, and scientific and technological thrillers.
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9798678660954 $4.95 Kindle
The Grassy Knoll: The Other Assassin
takes place in a pivotal
ten-year period between 1954 and Kennedy's assassination in 1964, and
one Ranny Lebeaux's run from the law in a Louisiana swamp and his next
years, during which he becomes involved in the assassination of
fictional history of what could have been, opening with an engrossing
first-person prologue: "I'm the other
guy - the guy on the knoll. That's right, the shooter. I'm 83 years old
wanted to be somebody. But that became too dangerous."
narrator with a series of personal reflections tied to questions about
is, what he did, and what plot evolved that wanted him dead and led him
new life, this conspiracy story reaches out and grabs readers from the
timeline of dates for easy understanding as the third-person story
around Larry Crawford's involvement with Carlos Marcello. Larry (who
his name to Billy) finds himself delving deeper into politics, illegal
and international influences involving payoffs and narcotic activities
by the Kennedys.
part of an organization that will ultimately test his loyalty and
leaving behind romance possibilities and a staid life.
The countdown to the climax of events with Kennedy's shooting is nicely done as Larry, Carlos, and others interact with Jack Ruby, Oswald, and well-known historical figures.
outstanding job of blending fictional and real characters into a story
delves into political choices, a cat-and-mouse game between the CIA and
players on the international field, and the motivations of agents and
assigned to protect the President and his staff on many different
different conspiracy theory approach is realistic, gripping, and
characters whose ambitions and reactions are realistic and engrossing.
involvement in the assassination is one of the real possibilities
events, and part of what lends The Grassy
Knoll such an aura of reality.
fictional and nonfiction accounts written about Kennedy's
Andrews takes the time to craft not just a believable plot, but a close
examination of the motivations and special interests on all sides.
thriller made all the more engrossing by its roots in facts. It's a
historical novel readers and conspiracy theorists won't want to miss.
Return to Index
Hardcover: 978-0-578-72143-9 $24.95
Paperback: 978-0-578-72162-0 $14.95
Kindle: B08H43QQV5 $ 4.95
HomeComing is another Mister Puss
mystery that revolves around
Brody's chatty Abyssinian sidekick, who has a nose for tuna and
the third book in the series, but like the others, it stands nicely
alone as Mister
Puss finds himself tooth and claw in another mystery revolving around
Architect Brody Norris and his husband, Marson Miles, are about to move
new house they have been building in the idyllic small Wisconsin town
Dumont. A filmmaker plans a location shoot in town, and that's when
Mister Puss become caught up in something more than cinematic
Part of the
of Michael Craft's Mister Puss adventures lies in his ongoing ability
capture the nuances of Brody's life, those he encounters, and
living: "Basil Hutchins, however,
had simply rested on his laurels, spending too few hours at his desk,
tea from a delicate cup and saucer—Royal Copenhagen, Flora Danica. In
evenings, after changing into his finery, he dawdled about the vast
teak-floored lobby shared by the three theaters. During intermission,
hobnobbed with the better-healed patrons, sopping up their adulation,
bothering to squeeze them for a nickel. “Bye-bye, Basil,” I said. “And
riddance.” Mister Puss arose from my lap, where he’d been curled, and
to rest his paws on my shoulder, purring. What
As a woman's
an out-of-control kid, and photo shoots clash, the town begins to reel
change as Mister Puss appears to assume a leading role in the
descriptions and interludes provide realistic, loving insights as Brody
Marson prepare for one of the biggest moves of their lives: "I turned to him at the top of the
stairs, held him in my arms, and delivered a deep kiss. I was still in
bathrobe, but he was already dressed nattily for the day—that’s just
being Marson. “I think,” I said, “you’re a genius.” “I think,” he said,
a little fruity.” “Correct,” I said. “Fruity and frisky.”
fall into place over revelations about the murder, Brody, Mister Puss,
Marson find their lives altered and sometimes threatened by the changes
bucolic town and lives are experiencing.
is a fine
mystery that successfully integrates the evolving relationship and
lives of a
gay couple, a talking cat, and the conundrums they face in trying to
past, present, and future worlds.
Readers of LGBT fiction who love cozy mystery styles with a bit of supernatural cat action tossed in for additional atmosphere will relish the setting, approach, and delightful twists and turns of HomeComing, where Mister Puss truly shines.HomeComing
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Lion in the Grass
Dos Perro Press
978-1735275109 $12.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Lion in the Grass
covers six decades in a sweeping epic story of a spy with dubious
moral values. It is narrated from the viewpoints of three characters
his protégés, and the French villain) whose lives entwine in an
Readers of historical
fiction and intrigue will
appreciate that the story line moves between social, political, and
psychological drama as Mark Zvonkovic considers the evolution of
conflicts and how the acts of individuals affect outcomes not only in
lives, but those around them.
Portraying the main
character as a killer who is adept at
his job and yet able to mentor others to foster the underlying goals of
makes for a different focus than most suspense stories with a
approach to good and evil forces.
development, as is those of his
entwined compatriots and enemies, is an intrinsic thread to a
story that offers no linear progression or easy answers. This may
readers who look for a set course in the action and character
it will delight others who look for more complex stories with a
threads and subplots that wind up fairly neatly concluded by the
The action is fast-paced
without losing track of
character development and many of the subplots built along the way.
taken to present and consider underlying motivations and influences as
character grows into their job and psyche: "...it
was comforting to think he could match the pace of the river. He
believed the river's
greatest power came from its steadfastness, and it was exhilarating to
could imitate it...He had changed dramatically on account of his
he was afraid that she, a pacifist, would see it and be disappointed."
Cognizant of the fact that
many lies will be told, with
fabricated lives invented for the sake of his involvement in the OSS
beyond, Raymond's changing orders preclude ordinary relationships and
endeavors. He struggles with his choices and their consequences, both
world arena and in his own life's evolution.
Fans of Ludlum, Clancy, and
other writers who hold the
ability to craft high-impact spy scenarios within the broader scope of
events and interpersonal relationships will relish the attention to
the realistic action and perceptions cultivated in A
Lion in the Grass.
Its strong ability to weave
thriller and suspense
elements into a historical saga steeped in spicy psychological
makes A Lion in the Grass a top
for those who like their spy novels sweeping, embracing changing times,
changing relationships, and characters who grow into their duties and
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A Perfect Storm
Ottawa Press and Publishing
9781988437491 $14.99 US/$18.99 Canadian
The ninth book in the Sgt.
Windflower mystery series, A Perfect Storm,
sees the usually-quiet Newfoundland town
of Grand Bank under siege
from biker drug gangs who invade, presenting many new challenges to
and Mayor Sheila Hillier as they simultaneously face crises at home and
RCMP officer Eddie Tizzard,
another character from
previous Windflower books, opens the story with a bang as he recalls
hotel room, only to view a bed filled with money and blood. Now he's in
Vegas jail awaiting an interview, his support person not only far away,
confronting a re-election as mayor of Grand Bank.
There's a brewing battle
between forces which would
either restore the town or modernize it. Sergeant Windflower faces his
investigative problems as he confronts danger and uses his dreamweaver
background to help him out of jams, and a perfect storm of events
around everything he touches.
More so than in past
mysteries, Mike Martin crafts a
sense of intrigue that is complex in its multifaceted subplots and
interests. This adds a delightful flavor to the story, creating a
calls to action that aren't always answered by effective choices.
The blend of interpersonal
changes and confrontations,
the death of an aunt who viewed Windflower as her favorite nephew, and
and professional strife juxtapose nicely with family scenes of
Sheila, and baby Amelia Louise.
It's unusual to receive
detailed family interactions
beyond the job, in a mystery. Martin's attention to detail in exploring
evolving relationships adds authenticity and compelling psychological
to personalize the reader's connection with Windflower's life and world.
Intrigue operates on many
different levels and through
different characters' perceptions. This, too, enhances the story's
overlay as Windflower confronts threats that strike too close to home.
Readers receive a healthy
dose of philosophy and
spiritual components in the process of absorbing these evolving events:
"It’s okay to cry.
Sadness is a healing emotion,” said Uncle Frank. “Today we cry, and
she is given back to Mother Earth, we must be strong and let her go.
people say not to cry on the night of a burial so that their spirit has
blessing and the freedom to leave. I will leave you for a moment alone
see how the rest of your family is doing.”
result is a gripping murder mystery that not only expands the prior
creates an engrossing stand-alone saga that is easy for newcomers to
It's a thoroughly compelling work that is hard to put down.
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Panthers 1: The Greatest Thieves in the World
9798652003739 $17.99 Paper/.99 Kindle
Readers of heist thrillers, true crime, and military intrigue will all appreciate the foundations and focus of Pink Panthers 1: The Greatest Thieves in the World, an engrossing saga of robbery and frustrated young people who confront symbols of wealth and power in a grassroots attack.
Loosely based on the methods and actions of the international crime group Pink Panthers and its actions in the former Yugoslavia and globally, The Greatest Thieves in the World follows a series of organized heists as a crime cartel affects not just that country, but the world, as a nation goes to war and then disintegrates.
The story opens in 2007 with the memories of Victor, who suddenly awakens in a military tent far from his familiar roots. A year earlier, he was sipping coffee in a small rustic Italian town. Now he is imbibing military action and danger, having come far from his roots with his involvement with the Panthers and the secret ambitions they harbor.
As the timeline moves backwards to 2004 with Victor's first encounter with the suave criminal Green and his introduction to the lure of robbery, payoffs, and diamonds, readers absorb the methods, values, perspectives, and growing attraction of a group Victor participates in with abandon.
Other books have been written about the activities of the Pink Panthers, but Neboysha Saikovski's fictionalized format allows him to delve into their hearts and minds. This approach injects a blend of psychological suspense and insight that enlightens readers on not just their modus operandi, but their underlying motivations and the personal revelations of its members.
How does the goal of money affect drug cartel interactions around the world and lure individuals into criminal activities? How does the structure and tactics of Pink Panthers and other groups entwine to affect political and social process; and what happens when the team's leader threatens to defect?
The methods and the madness of the Panthers' activities permeate an international romp that closely examines all facets of organized crime on a broader scale than most novels offer. Somewhere within the guise of the intersection between fiction and nonfiction exists a rare opportunity for enlightenment. A touch of romance provides an added attraction.
While some readers may eschew the result for its fictionalized format and detailed explanations, those who have absorbed other heist thrillers will find Saikovski's is more than satisfying. The injection of real-world information adds a level of complexity, but in no way belays the emotional foundations that drive the plot.
Thieves in the World provides an exposé that is lively,
psychologically astute, and hard to put down. Fans of thrillers and
international espionage based in real history will find this first book
trilogy to be thoroughly compelling, whether its focus is on
change and relationships, or plots and plans.
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Rats in a Maze
Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC
978-1-945181-917 $14.99 Paper/$6.93 Kindle
At first glance, it seems to
be just a simple car
accident. Or a suicide. Detectives Ray Fisher and
Lahoti close the case with
minimal fanfare. But something lingers in Fisher's mind, and Rats
in a Maze adopts a
feel as events unfold to prove that the incidence of a car driving off
into the Hudson River is only the tip of the iceberg.
As Ray and his cohort probe
the case, sometimes going
beyond logic and evidence, readers receive a roller coaster of clues
includes stock market processes, seedy bars and underworld contacts,
save Jessica (an odd old woman with psychic abilities who is one of the
in a dangerous game), and murders and arson that follow in the wake of
confronting bad guys.
Peter Bailey cultivates an
action-packed story designed
to keep readers guessing. The characters are realistic and engrossing,
psychological component grows as the characters confront each other and
own natures and desires, and Bailey's ability to construct a fast-paced
well-detailed story keeps his audience thoroughly engaged.
As the story evolves,
questions about not only the
identity of victims and killer but the circles in which they operate
life and are explored, with Jessica's special ability becoming a
and pivot point in the case.
Another pleasure to Rats
in a Maze is that good and evil isn't cut-and-dried. As
events lead to a
surprise conclusion, readers are taught to consider the close
between legal, lawful duty and crossing the line to a darker side.
The game that ended when a
car dove into the river,
killing its young occupants, is just beginning, for Ray. The story
readers into a life that is changed, in the end, by purpose,
Mystery and detective
fiction readers will find Rats in a Maze
satisfyingly complex and
hard to put down.
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Luigi N. Spring
Fans of the
book in the Sorcerers' Prayer series, will find its sequel, Precious Blood, just as captivating; if
not just as complex.
This is no
for the cursory thriller fan looking for entertainment, but a walk
Hawaiian culture, legal processes and systems, and the rise of a
of true believers whose actions threaten everything.
premise of the first book will lend quick understanding for those who
pick up its
sequel, allowing for a seamless segue into the lingo, culture, and
Hawaii, which is an integral part of the mystery and story line.
confrontations with new possibilities to the intrigue and danger that
his choices and revised life, readers will find just as much to delight
story's progression as in the introductory piece, which stays true to
complex explorations of Hawaiian history and myths.
unexpected stream of humor often injected into the story that changes
expectations, providing comic relief and cultural insights, as well: "The king raised a finger of warning to
the judge. “If you have any ideas of absconding with any of this royal
treasure, Keoni, please don’t. It is all cursed, and the culprit will
thousand deaths.” An amazing number of bushel baskets lay at their
containing a multitude of semiprecious and precious stones and
of them seemed to glow as they reflected the flames from the kukui nut
torches. The judge scratched his head. “One thousand deaths,
huh? Not nine
hundred ninety-nine?” The sovereign started to giggle again. “I should
brah. I am the kahuna sorcerer that placed the enchantment on these
is laughter and jest
even between the Judge and supporting characters, from Jimmy to Uncle
This sense of community adds to the story, giving it a personal touch
belies the usual procedural approach to mystery, thriller, and cultural
The story is
playful, childish, sexually charged, culturally revealing, and
different points of the story. All these facets might confuse those who
anticipate and look for linear thinking and stories; but anyone who has
Hawaii and is familiar with its culture, language, and the inherent
of many of its peoples will find this story holds satisfyingly
elements, for all its complexity.
Precious Blood is an inviting follow-up
tale that expands the role
and purposes of the Judge and his Hawaiian community. Its wealth of
Hawaiian words, and mercurial scenarios makes it a highly recommended
those with some background in Hawaiian customs, who will find it a
blend of intrigue, mystery, and social examination.
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Stoneman House Press, LLC
Paperback: 978-1-7337379-4-4 $13.95
Ebook: 978-1-7337379-5-1 $ 2.99
Author Website: www.sagewebb.com
Sage Webb practiced criminal law defense for over a decade
before writing several novels. Her background in legal processes and
atmosphere of the legal community lends an aura of authenticity that
resonate with any reader familiar with this environment as Devlin
with personal and professional challenges in her life.
investigations into shell companies that operate on St. Kitts and
government agent Xavier Charles' search for the truth over an
Devlin's increasing involvement and confrontations even at sea on a
Sage Webb weaves a fine story that moves from dialogue to open waters
courtrooms with equal aplomb: "What ya thinking up here all
Winters?” Devlin opened her eyes to Nils’s ankles and bare feet beside
head. She shut her eyes again. “Honestly?” She kept her voice low.
I’m wondering if you’re a crook like your lying brother or just
dumbass.” “Is there an option C?” Nils dropped down next to her hip, so
she opened her eyes for the second time, his back in a long-sleeved red
with sponsor logos and a regatta name across it filled her view.
what that indictment says.” “You think Viggo’s crooked and I’m in on
client interactions with agents and investigative processes to
Devlin's interactions with Nils Bryson, a flame reignited after 7 years
absence, the intrigue, romance, and changing personal and professional
relationships that stem from an evolving investigation into danger
fast-paced story that is powered by both career and life decisions.
blend of corporate intrigue, criminal activity, and personal
recovery and revelations creates a compelling story that is simply hard
down. It's unexpected right up to the end, making it a highly
for legal thriller, romance, and women's fiction readers alike.
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Ways to Be
Joseph & Associates, Publisher
97808692970133 $12.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
17-year-old girl, Usaré García, has slipped away from her high school
only to be found murdered at another part of campus in a spicy mystery
unfolds against a backdrop of street gangs, race relations, and the
investigative approach of a multiracial school administrator, Enrique
who himself becomes entangled in the intricate web of deception and
that surrounds the crime.
Suspense readers will relish Ways to Be Wicked's interconnected plots as Tavish pursues his own brand of justice, even as he strives to keep his dark personal secrets hidden from those around him. There's a fine mix of plot twists and intriguing characters in this story, which elevates it above and beyond mere mystery-solving.
Tavish suspects a gang called the Levantes as the perps in the García girl’s death, and in return, the Lavantes target Tavish and his family for revenge in a fast-paced story that brings Southern Arizona's urban environment to life.
Tavish is not your ordinary hero. He's a flawed character whose relationships with teachers, students and detectives alike are not always in sync with their perspectives or objectives—not just about the murder, but about life itself.
Tavish's determination to solve the crime gets him in trouble every bit as deadly as that of the victim and the murderer. He investigates with a sometimes-amateurish directness, and at first he primarily succeeds in attracting only more trouble, raising issues that the school, the neighborhood, and the community would prefer remain hidden.
Just as his own objectives and secret motivations remain in flux, so events affected by revenge and retribution keep pushing him towards an inevitable showdown. Or, is it an inevitable death?
One reason the plot, characters, and atmosphere feel so realistic is that author Jim Christ was himself a teacher and high school principal in the region that forms the setting of his story. His ability to capture realistic political, ethnic, and social atmosphere in the course of exploring Tavish's Hispanic heritage, conundrums, and uncertain relationships with authorities at various levels adds a dimension of reality and social commentary to events in the plot. This keeps the story both action-packed and thought-provoking.
Another reason for the powerful result in Ways to Be Wicked lies in Christ's ability to portray his protagonist as a man filled not just with motivation and confidence, but also deep uncertainties. This, too, adds an authentic aura to the murder mystery, giving it an extra edge over traditional genre approaches and reads.
their mysteries informed by community and ethnic issues, and struggles
the fine line between heroes and heretics will welcome the multifaceted
complexity that places Ways to Be Wicked on
a different level
than an ordinary whodunit.
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Anamcara Press LLC
Hardcover: 978-1-941237-57-1 $28.99
Softcover: 978-1-941237-38-0 $18.99
Ebook: 978-1-941237-39-7 $ 9.99
provides the first book in a series revolving around hit woman Millie
Henshawe, a fearless hired gun who operates in a man's world with the
finesse of a determined female.
moves through an offbeat world of assassins, odd family
relationships in the 'business', quirky cohorts who view their
activities as a
combination of colorful movie plot and real-world crime spree, and edgy
These elements place Millie's actions on an uncertain line between
story opens with a sharp bang, providing an immediacy that makes it
hard to put down: "No fucking way was Millie going to shoot
the guy in
the men’s room at Kansas City International. What the hell was Ralphie
thinking? I should just waltz in behind the guy, wait till he unzips,
pop him while he’s thinking happy thoughts? Or get in the stall next to
fire when he flushes?"
will be laughing before the dark horse even leaves the starting
gate as Millie struggles with new assignments, danger, and ironic
leave her in an uncertain position. This style of
one of the facets that sets Wrong Man Down apart
juxtaposing wry observations with fun explorations of the conundrums in
proper hit job: "Now Ralphie calls and says, “The client says
decided to hire a limo this trip, I don’t know why. So it’s your call
when and where.” And Millie says, “Ralphie, are you fucking crazy? The
a driver? Where’s he going to be while I entertain the subject?
mention the added risk if the driver gets a good look at me. Am I
do him too? What the hell’s wrong with you, anyway?” No doubt about it,
getting wound up. “Plus,” she said, “it’s not professional to
can get hurt.”
are just two examples early in the story that capture the
delightfully spunky personality which Jerry Masinton creates via a
whose actions embrace dubious choices, uncertain opportunities, and a
continually requires an ability to make snap decisions about the
and logic of a murder contract job.
proclivity for connecting murder operations to business
thinking is especially fun, and refreshingly different in a murder
"Millie continued: “OK, so I got to thinking: why would the
us a lot of money to ice this guy, maybe more than the guy owes in the
place? Why not just write it off, I thought, price of doing business.
banks with their credit cards. Some people can’t pay, but you still
on the high interest you charge. Or the shy could’ve asked a dumb-ass
who spends all of his time in the pool hall. Or maybe a Made Guy he
grade school. What I’m saying is, he had cheaper ways.”
marries irony in a rollicking, fun story that follows Millie,
Ralphie, Chuckie, and a host of characters as the plot revolves around
motivation, deception, and gang violence and mob ties that rock both
and Millie's professional career.
ability to craft a fast-paced action piece that draws
readers in with humor and adventure makes Wrong Man Down
recommendation for murder mystery readers. It's especially recommended
for those who enjoy strong female protagonists and unpredictable twists
turns where the heroine isn't always the conventional good gal, but a
woman charged with leading the action well beyond her comfort zone.
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ASIN : B08K3S3RJX $3.99 Kindle
Yes, It Happened is set in the near
future, providing a scenario
that grabs attention and proves almost impossible to set aside: "A blazing flash lit up my home office
followed instantly by a distant, wall-shaking explosion. “Holy shit!” I
from my chair and hurried to the window. Everything on the street
normal, until my eyes lifted to the horizon. A huge mushroom cloud rose
Washington DC. “Oh, my God.”
mumbled in disbelief." The protagonist can't stop to agonize
wife, who was in Washington when the nuclear bomb hit. He's now charged
finding his kids and surviving its aftermath.
creates an engrossing scenario in just a few paragraphs, drawing
into Augustus's life, choices, and how his priorities change in a
surprise in more than an attack on Washington, however, as further
indicate that perhaps Augustus doesn't hold his government in the
regard, even though democracy has been attacked: "I
know the instructions. Big Brother is alive and well in our
stories of terrorism, Augustus is willing to immediately entertain the
that the perps may not have come from overseas, but on America's home
turf: "What did the President mean – this might be an internal terrorist attack?
And why did he source Russian intelligence. Why not ours?"
vastly changed world with children and challenged ideals in tow, the
and reality of events come to life under Maxwell's pen. There is much
and many possibilities as various forces question the attack, the
the many possible truths about the enemy and his purposes.
As a deadly
emerges about not just the perps, but their takeover intentions,
himself on the run from not just radiation and war, but his own ideals
But aren't their actions just a part of the jigsaw puzzle of the war
processes and a strange, elusive enemy whose lies and promises are
Maxwell's story is so frightfully compelling lies in its roots in
adversity, gaslighting, and confusion. Augustus reflects this process
makes decisions and confronts a strange new America. Readers following
footsteps receive a heartfelt, moving story that moves into
intrigue and gripping scenarios, from caving and confrontation to the
impact of the fake news that swirls all around them.
With its heart-stopping scenarios, nonstop action, and foundations in modern-day events, Yes, It Happened is one of the most moving, absorbing political thrillers to appear in 2020, and offers an intense parable of possibilities for our times.
leaves the door ajar for possibly more, but satisfyingly concludes a
riveting story that can't be put down.
Return to Index
A. Wilson Steele
Mouse Hole Farm Press
("Zen") operates in two worlds: as a champion horse rider who has
found a steed that may propel him into the Olympics, and as an
whose team works closely with him to solve mysteries.
bid on a
seemingly invaluable art piece turns into full-fledged danger and
is called upon to solve an international smuggling mystery even as he
crisis on the show jumping circuit that melds both worlds into one big
to operate in these two very different arenas, juxtaposing horse
experiences with the fast pace of an investigation that turns deadly,
initially stymie those who look for a hastier, more casual pace, but
Steele takes the time to carefully craft both worlds. This pays off
big, with a
sense of place, authenticity, and purpose that would have been lacking
more cursory coverage of either atmosphere.
fine inspection of choices, purposes, and clashes of personalities,
and Trudie's involvement in schemes that ultimately thwart their own
interests to Zen's struggle to keep his meditative personality on track
his ability to both win in competition and solve puzzles that challenge
progression of these special interests and their disparate milieus
full-bodied read that is delightfully mercurial and intriguing. Perhaps
story's greatest strength is to pull together the seemingly unrelated
that wind through the hearts, minds, and motives of not just Zen, but
a story that operates on many different levels, from career and life
fulfillment to love and moral and ethical questions, will relish Zen's
special ability to draw its reader into a series of events that solve
create problems simultaneously.
probe into the world of art smuggling that adds just enough history to
thoroughly absorbing without requiring any background in the art world.
Likewise, no knowledge of horses is needed to appreciate the exciting
international show jumping—the plot is grounded in an absorbing mystery
will captivate a broad audience.
are at once strong and vulnerable, wise and clueless, and mercurial in
purposes and perspectives, Zen offers a taste of
something different. It
will especially appeal to fans of Dick Francis, with its horse-related
Return to Index
Cowgirls of the Urban Legion
B. Mirthy & Sons
Paperback: 978-0-9861709-2-8 $15.00
Ebook: 978-0-9861709-3-5 $ 2.99
second book in a trilogy, Bikini Cowgirls of the Urban Legion,
is highly recommended reading for anyone who enjoyed the blend of
escapade in the introductory novel The Urban Legion,
unraveling (or revealing, as the case may be) the Wacko Conspiracy
powered the first story.
is back. So are urban legends which are actually purposeful
creations: "Like other urban legends created as cover-ups,
details were distorted: these dolphins didn’t carry torpedoes and
swimming the Gulf aimlessly. That meant they probably weren’t armed and
by the CIA, either—fake urban legends were the signature of Howie’s
archenemy, the Corporation."
Meg joins a web reality show and Howie steps up his investigation of
the Corporation, a bucket of worms is uncovered over mysterious texts,
murder of Tommy Owen, and the nefarious purpose of the undersea device
discovered years ago.
is also a strong undercurrent in Bikini Cowgirls of the Urban
Legion, but here the urban legends and fun give way to a more
series of escapades and confrontations as the action heats up. Meg has
lost two partners to the Corporation. Is she risking a third one?
Agans again employs satire, irony, and fun as he continues to
unravel the threads of the Corporation's activities and threats and its
on as wide a cast of characters as the first novel; some of whom return
repeat performance, here.
Meg uncovers the truth about Howie's purposes and dolphins become
involved in a spiraling plot that heads rapidly towards disaster for
characters, readers will delight in the dual sense of fun and intrigue
keeps the Urban Legion story alive with still more ironic encounters
special interests gone awry.
excels in weaving unexpected twists into his story, too. These
might add a level of unexpected complexity that average thriller or
readers won't expect, but the result is deliciously involving and
worthy of a
slower and repeat read so that all the subtle nuances of comedy are
novel, too, ends in a twist that is both funny and
thought-provoking, paving the way for the third book and leaving
Cowgirls of the Urban Legion is primarily recommended for readers of the
first book, who will find it a delightful adjunct that expands some of
characters, the premise, and the humor for a suitably fun follow-up
Return to Index
At first, The
That Sang in Color seems hard to easily categorize. The title
and cover art
would seem to indicate its relevance for a young audience, but once the
embarks on the story of teen Donna Greco's changing view of what
meaningful life well lived, it's readily apparent that this novel is
for mature teen into adult audiences; not picture book readers or
The setting is New Jersey in
the 1970s. Donna has been
well taught about conventional ideals of success, achievement, and
Her artistic older brother has received the same lessons, but has made
choices. Currently, he's stuck in a lifestyle that feels equally empty
As the feel of an
Italian-American family's interactions,
clashing values, changing perspectives, and self-portraits comes to
against the backdrop of Donna's awakening and evolution, readers
delightful, warm exploration of changing times and the impact they have
Vincent, as the family
artist, holds a special role in
his younger sister's eye. Somehow, his talents make him seem larger
influencing everything around him: "He
had the smallest room in the house, but it seemed like the biggest
was its own self-contained universe. I felt like I could be on the
of the world without ever leaving his room."
In contrast, Donna holds
traditional values which she
fulfills as she comes of age, marries Frank, and builds her own family.
something is missing. As her ideal marriage turns into something quite
different, Donna is forced by both her brother's visions and
the limitations of her own life to consider changes that veer from the
trajectory which was once her ideal.
Family relationships and
interpersonal evolution are at
the heart of Grace Mattioli's story. The contrast between Donna's youth
adult experiences and the changes that force these new realizations are
captured, down to moments of life-changing emotion:
"I hung up, and a scream so loud and shrill that it felt alien,
came out of me, a glass-shattering prelude to the wailing and streaming
that followed. I lay, stomach-down on the floor, banging it a bunch of
with my fists while screaming “No!” into the air, the only witness to
I was glad no one was home to see me or save me from myself. I always
people tried to cap grief as if it was a contagious disease."
As she confronts her own
daughter's evolutionary process
and her role in both loving and alienating Angie, Donna rediscovers her
path in life, which turns out both different and familiar at the same
It's refreshing to read a
family portrait that is not
'black and white' in its perspectives. The realistic highs and lows of
family's interfaces, transformations wrought by a combination of
vision, life experiences and changing times, and the evolution of
forms of intimacy and understanding are presented with affection,
The result is a satisfying
slice of life blend of
philosophy, psychology, and transformation that draws readers into a
that ultimately examines the wellsprings of creative force and legacies
future generations. The author's intention is for readers to be
live authentically, not be bound to societal conventions, so that they
free to make their own pictures.
Readers of women's
literature, family relationships, and
artistic exploration will find The Bird
That Sang in Color an evocative, appealing, and ultimately
Return to Index
J W Nelson
9798677697968 $3.99 Kindle / $10.99 paperback
Fools: Selling for Love & Life, Is a Tricky Business considers the
unfulfilled ambitions of Justin Whalley, who
dreams of success in love and career, but instead faces a series of
upbringing and countenance are unremarkable, his family
"close, but in a distant, unspoken way" which he mirrors in an adult
life, which is quiet. Despite the fact that Justin has resolved "...to
end up like them. Content with very little, and had no freedom, no
call their own," the fact is that he's in danger of doing just this,
he stumbles into high drama and death at work and comes to realize that
and success come with price tags.
new opportunities in business and love change his trajectory and his
relationships, Justin finds himself out of his league in many ways,
more conundrums and complexity to living a vivid life than he'd
ventured our separate ways, with my mind flicking back and forth over
wife and her son. Vicky sat alone in some hotel probably crying or
shitless. Chelsea at work and her precocious little Robert, who was
becoming a thorn in my side. Shaun soon to skulk off back to Dublin.
rolling around with the leggy and the sexual ‘one look and you’re
Sally. Who said my life wasn’t exciting?"
W Nelson does a fine job of taking an ordinary, common man with quiet
ambitions and turning his life upside down. There's a cast of
surround him in work and romance and affect his course in life; there
situations that leave him swimming against the tide; and too many
leave him both excited and frustrated over his life's unexpected
attempt to stay on course against this onslaught of change and
challenge makes for a fun, engrossing romp through life that juxtaposes
philosophical considerations with psychological growth: "These
transcendent thoughts are like smoke, here now and disappearing in a
Living in the moment, I had to remind myself. Focus on my true
from the start. On my work goals. My life goal, utilising the
support from those around me."
depicts an 'Everyman' changing the course laid out by family and his
own expectations of what life is. Its tale of irony and opportunity,
bag of success and unexpected obstacles, and the process of overcoming
failure to enter a better life provides a gripping story that is
funny, and thought-provoking all at once. It's infused with British
changing relationships that keep readers both on their toes and
unexpected twists and turns.
Return to Index
The Education of Delhomme:
Chopin, Sand & La France
History Through Fiction LLC
Paperback: 978-1-7329508-3-2 $16.95
Hardcover: 978-1-7329508-5-6 $26.95
Delhomme: Chopin, Sand & La France is set in France
in 1848 and follows
the fictional life of piano tuner Beaulieu Delhomme, who falls awry of
newly elected French president and is slated for death after being
treason. Ironically, the only person who who may be able to save him is
former enemy, author George Sand,
the one-time lover of composer
Frédéric Chopin...the man
for whom Delhomme tuned pianos.
As Sand and Delhomme compete
for the dying Chopin's
attention, the president's secret agent uses Delhomme to spy on Sand,
been spreading her own revolutionary message about the president's
Delhomme's initial desire
(to preserve a social and
economic level he has a vested interest in) soon changes as he views
of an abused, poverty-stricken nephew under the president's rule,
to enter a dangerous game indeed when he secretly joins the resistance
as a counter-spy.
There are a lot of
entanglements, both political and
personal, that drive the mercurial story in The
Education of Delhomme. Under another hand, all these facets,
loyalties, politics of the times, and subplots could have proved a
even for readers familiar with the era. But Nancy Burkhalter chooses to
these events through the first-person experiences of Delhomme, who sums
the politics and social challenges of his times: "...I
doubt her testimony can undo Vidocq’s devilish words. He
will swear I sided with resisters, hobnobbed with radicals, and became
counterspy. Never mind that he lured me with easy money. He is the
vaunted, powerful toady. Loyalty trumps scruples in this man’s
did everything Vidocq asked of me—reluctantly, I am proud to say now.
day, I fed him wrong information on purpose. It was my attempt to fight
domination of those who ignored the suffering of others. Then, Vidocq’s
came crashing down. Now here I sit. Accused of treason. Jailed.
Burkhalter's ability to
capture not just current events
but the medical school training and background of the piano tuner who
play a pivotal role in Chopin and George Sands' lives adds an
thriller element to unfolding political events.
As the manipulations and
pressures of François Vidocq,
"humble servant to King Louis
Philippe”, changes Delhomme's life's trajectory, taking
advantage of past
influences, present-day circumstances, and future choices, all
themselves facing volatile situations that test their moral and ethical
Burkhalter sets up these
tests and scenes with an
exquisite attention to detail and emotional impact that will engage and
even readers with little to no prior familiarity with the times, its
and these people.
Education of Delhomme's greatest
strength lies in exploring the dichotomies between belief, purpose, and
evolving political interactions that challenge and change everything.
social atmosphere and descriptions are exceptionally well presented as
story unfolds and Delhomme faces worries even over his efforts to
individual from a life of oppression: I explained how rebels
roamed the streets and
threw rocks just to be disruptive. I recounted how his own grandfather
abducted by militia in Warsaw during an uprising there many years ago.
dangerous and unpredictable. Many people have died, and most have
eat. Everyone is angry.”
The result is a complex,
mercurial story. It keeps
readers on their toes as entanglements change and deepen. Characters
with the inheritance of war and conflict even as they search for an
peace both within themselves and each other, and in the wider world of
complex, and involving, The Education of
Delhomme is highly
recommended for historical novel readers who like their characters
and their story lines well grounded in historical facts.
Return to Index
historical fiction with adventure as it follows a young man's journey
to find a
magical elixir that will lend him love, strength, and an exalted role
world. It opens with Sall's dreams of a dwarf and a magical potion that
to many new revelations—perhaps the most powerful one involving
differences in the world: "We see different things, even when
looking at the same thing."
journey undertaken because "a girl knocked him out with her
eyes" turns into a deeper spiritual and emotional journey as Sall
with not just a search, but the impacts of his quest and ideals.
born to be a healer, finds his interpretation of that ability and
its incarnations subject to change during the course of his quest for
elixir of his dreams. So does the world, as events in Jericho, the
legacy of a
potter who teaches him that "freedom is a gift that shrinks with
age," and ongoing dreams that connect him to the dwarf's purposes and
contentions reach into his life to transform him.
seeking a blend of magical realism, spiritual exploration,
romance, and social change will find The Elixirist
a powerful story
replete with all these elements and more. Think a Carlos
of revelations based on both inner and outer world encounters, spiced
atmosphere of adventure akin to The Celestine Prophecy
by James Redfield
and Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code.
the elusive promise of the golden elixir transforms his life,
readers receive a compelling saga that follows Sall from childhood
to adult purposes, questioning the notion of destiny and heritage as
pursues not only impossible dreams, but the truth about his world and
result is a story especially gripping for readers of adventure
stories rooted in discoveries about faith and destiny. Fans of
romance, and spiritual explorations alike will find The
compelling historical novel powered by psychological and social
Return to Index
Samson, Forbidden Bride
Swift House Press
978-1733720946 $17.95 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
readers who look for strong female protagonists and compelling
relish Elisabeth Samson,
Bride, based on the
true story of a Free Negress who married a white man in
18th century Suriname, becoming the first woman to legally do so.
cast of characters and a prologue neatly set the scene and action,
necessary background details as the story moves into the experiences of
first-person narrator Elisabeth, who is educated enough to tell her own
actions and choices cause social and political strife on two
continents. As she
reveals her background, the wellspring of her decisions, and their
everyone around her, readers receive an exceptionally vibrant,
story that requires no prior familiarity with the times, place, or
order to prove compelling: "It is a bitter irony the way our
governance regularly makes contradictory decisions. They disapprove of
in concubinage, yet object if a Negress wants to marry a white man.
even consider living with a man without marrying him to be whorish. Yet
men in this colony have taken Coloured women as concubines for eighty
which situations are commonly referred to as, “marriage, Suriname
is the strange state in which Carl Otto and I live."
befalls her beloved sister, Elisabeth finds herself exhausted by the
threats of prejudice, death, and her struggles against a double
affects all their lives.
Colony politics, influences from abroad, rebels, and family interact,
receive a multifaceted, absorbing history of the times through
educated eyes and choices.
Hamilton does an
outstanding job of integrating the journals for the original
inspiration with a
fictional overlay to create a personal, revealing, absorbing saga. From
country's history to how free individuals interact with those enslaved
quandaries faced by whites and blacks alike, Hamilton's ability to
influences and prejudices on all sides makes for a revealing, complex
probes intention and attitude as well as how events evolved.
and slavery, politics or home affairs, or family interactions with
interests, Hamilton brings Elisabeth's story to life with a solid
rich details that both educate and involve. These elements make Elisabeth Samson, Forbidden Bride highly
recommended reading for historical fiction followers who like their
firmly rooted in reality. The bibliographic references that conclude
offer opportunities to relish all the nonfiction facts supporting the
Return to Index
Paperback: 978-1-09830-049-4 $19.95
Ebook: 978-1-09830-050-0 $ 4.99
Enduring Times will reach readers of romance and relationship
in stories rooted in reality. The tale opens in Carnegie, Pennsylvania
1900s, where a dominating mother loses her daughter to marriage despite
controlling ways. As a series of disappointments and changes affect the
readers receive a fine account of quiet courage, perseverance, and
that changes from one generation to the next.
From religious influences and a
quiet Catholic girl's confrontation with the exuberance and culture of
different religious group to evolving connections between faith,
adversity, Jennifer and Bill face many challenges both in themselves
other in the course of their growth.
The last thing Jennifer expected
to become was a missionary. The last thing she anticipated was a flight
her jungle life to return to Philadelphia, only to find that the Great
Depression changes everything yet again.
As Betty Godfrey traces the
roots of more than one form of endurance, readers receive an engrossing
narrative inspecting interpersonal relationships, faith and
social, spiritual, and psychological forces alike.
The effects of all these
influences on the family that Bill and Jennifer cultivate is very
related: "Jennifer followed him. “I
know coming home to this mess is nerve racking, but we can’t take it
out on the
children.” “I guess my nerves are bad. Why wouldn’t they be? We come
living a quiet life into a big city full of turmoil and noise. We have
little money, our parents are broke
and we can’t get back to our house in Carnegie.”
Faith is as solid an influencer
for surviving these times as love. Godfrey does a fine job of tracing
evolution as the family unit adapts. This focus on parenting, spiritual
concerns, and world influence creates a warm, outstanding read
recommended for readers of women's fiction novels.
Return to Index
Doyle Weldon Knight
True Southern Gentleman Publishing
fictional pandemic world set in 2020 and revolves around an ongoing
survive in a world that began changing when illness hit in 2016. The
has ten percent of its population, yet its survivors still struggle to
is one of those people in a lawless America with his wife, who
depends on a medicine that's run out. Determined that she should live,
undertakes a journey that is less than a hundred miles (but, in this
might as well be thousands) to get her medicine.
charts his road
trip through this topsy-turvy world. Surprisingly, it includes not just
challenge and danger, but joy, as Dinky observes and appreciates his
environment: "In the new topsy-turvy world, the one thing I
almost as much as Baby Girl and our Blue Heeler, was the fragrance of
southern outdoors at daybreak. On a spring morning, the aromatic smell
flowers mixed with a hint of marsh bog create a false atmosphere of
pre-Pentacle home. I knew it was one of those mornings as I took in a
that this novel has appeared amidst one of the most virulent
pandemics to hit the world, many of its fictional backdrops, history,
observations feel strikingly true: "There were around seven
and a half
billion people on Mother Earth the year that the NV-17 virus wreaked
In an effort to contain NV-17, the quarantine and lockdown mandates
the global economy. The cure became almost as bad as the disease."
Weldon Knight also infuses his story with Southern culture and
perspectives. This adds an extra layer of social inspection to the
Dinky encounters others, and readers absorb the kinds of instant
formed by the bonds of adversity and Southern hospitality: "Baby
settled him in Darrell’s old room, and he showed the respect and
gratitude of a
southern gentleman in her presence at all times."
difference between The Flip and other stories of
worldwide apocalypse and death is Knight's attention to every facet of
survivors' experience, including the changed smells of the world and
reactions to small pleasures, such as a basement refuge: "We
inside the basement, and for the first time in almost three months, we
smell the strong essence of decay. The only scent of decay was when
close enough to you that you caught a slight drift from their clothes.
better than Christmas, and Baby Girl was happier about the basement
was about the shampoo and conditioner. When things got rough over the
to three months and as fall set in, we would clean up and go down into
basement. I would purge the room and we would breathe the compressed
the cylinders. For a few hours we could minimize the constant odor that
and threatened to smother us."
facets enhance the story line, add to its realistic and
compelling draw, and contribute to the surprisingly upbeat gratitude of
narrator, who takes obvious pleasure in small successes and
had been a good day; I have a new daughter. I drifted off that night
other night, the most fortunate man in the world."
ability to inject this air of positivity and human connections
into Dinky's survival story gives it an added attraction much needed by
readers and beyond.
elements place The Flip above and beyond most
pandemics or apocalypses. It's especially recommended as a tool for
times, offering a dystopian journey that will leave readers both
engaged in the
characters' changing lives and the outcome of the broken world they
through as Dinky and Baby Girl love, live, and do everything they need
to do in
order to survive.
Return to Index
ASIN: B08H41S8HB $2.99 Kindle
Harvest Moon is the fourth book in the
'By the Light of the Moon'
romance story set in 19th century Ontario, and follows the legacy
Ojibwe Maang-ikwe and her forbidden love. Niin-mawin, also facing
for his decisions, has been raised in the white man's community,
his family and his traditions. When the two get together, past and
collide in an encounter with choices and consequences which could
reconcile their hearts or inject further heartbreak into their lives.
Ojibwe pronunciation provides a solid foundation for successfully
the language peppered within, while the prologue (set in 1862 on a
provides a poignant first-person survey of loss, grief, and pain,
readers into events that unfolded ten years prior to this point.
wanderer who steals Wiigwass-ikwe's heart with kindness, with
consequences, to a fifteen-year-old's observation of a mission school's
construction in 1861, the timeline moves back and forth like a
important connections between individuals and community forces. This
reinforces the sequence of events that change cultures and lives.
As in her
books, Jenny Knipfer does an outstanding job of cementing place, time,
culture against the backdrop of evolving relationships. These
approaches lend a
solid feel of authenticity and attraction to her plot to keep readers
educated and engrossed, as spiritual and social matters evolve.
Michigan and beyond, characters change, legacies solidify, and the
through many experiences as Knipfer builds a progressive saga of
lasting impact on future generations.
Readers seeking a Native-based blend of romance, social inspection, and Christian-based concepts will find the fictional format and inspections form a strong spiritual bond between characters and choices that impart much food for thought. The author's own Native heritage contributes nicely to these elements. This familiarity makes for a story rich in strong characters who struggle with issues of being together, staying true to their beliefs and cultures, and viewing the world—and God's place in it—from powerfully different angles.
Harvest Moon is especially highly
recommended for prior fans of the
series, who will find it an outstanding addition expanding their
characters, and spiritual revelations.
Return to Index
Lands In Palm
John F. Shekleton
Mo Keijuk Press
Print: 978-1-935751-68-7 $9.99
Epub: 978-1-935751-67-0 $3.99
Ordering: Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and Ingram.com
He Lands In Palm Springs is a LGBTQ romance story revolving around
Catholic priest Father Tierney, who is newly out of the
positive, and looks to rebuild his life in a gay community. Enter the
atmosphere of Palm Springs, California.
Joe finds this cultural and
social milieu entirely
different from his Midwest heritage—so much so, that the opportunities
openly gay love seem suddenly and unexpectedly endless.
It's one thing to want to
rebuild one's life in a safe
environment. It's another to realize that a change in community can
lead to so
many opportunities that one's identity and life trajectory become
Joe's gay friends are
diverse. Many want to see him happy
and settled, and more than one love him. Some even harbor dreams about
relationship certain to evolve as Joe settles in to this welcoming
community: "After Cy returned from Cathedral
he went into his small office and threw himself into his swivel chair,
with happiness. He couldn’t get over it. Joe was exactly what he had
Dazed. Cute. Vulnerable. Full of longing."
As emotions on all sides
spring to life and bring with
them new challenges and realizations, readers walk in not just Joe's
through the expectations, hopes, and romantic longings of others who
flourished in the freedom and encouraging atmosphere of Palm Springs.
Readers who have visited
this town or who are well
familiar with its attractions and culture will recognize many realistic
elements in this story. Others who enjoy gay romance stories, albeit
outside these communities, will appreciate John F. Shekleton's realistic attention to detail
and the perceptions
and evolution of all kinds of relationships.
eyes, as well as Edward's, Cy's, and other characters, more than just
blossoms. Family and community-building moves are made which influence
choices and trajectories of all the characters, who consider and
emotional entanglements Joe faces in his new life: "...he
would let Joe drive the discussion. For this plan to work,
Joe needed to engage fully, to fight through all the funk that covered
soul." All these explorations and avenues for success bring
newfound challenges to Joe's spiritual vocation, as well.
He Lands In Palm Springs explores
different facets of love and romance, readers receive a fine story that
embraces Palm Springs culture and the types of transitions and changes
gay people who move from repression to many new freedoms, experiencing
choices and unfamiliar opportunities this move brings.
life-threatening condition to rebuilding his life and faith, Joe's
resonate with LGBTQ readers and whose who are empathetic and open to
community and its underlying passions.
Return to Index
Tara Sue Me
After Six Publishing
Madame President is a Washington, DC romance about a single
woman, Anna Fitzpatrick, who tries to honor both her vows to serve her
and her determination to remain single through that political process.
the first book to posit a female president, but it is
the first to link a single president's love life with the office
she's determined to protect. This creates an intriguing turn of events
discovers her heart and political mission in life may not be aligned.
news anchor and former flame Navin Hazar enters her world on
level, neither anticipated that romance would blossom between them
envision keeping their professions and goals at the forefront. But,
elusiveness of matters of the heart, an unexpected connection is
more than one level that tests their determination and ability to keep
first-person perspectives are clearly outlined in chapter datebook
capturing the emotions of each character in a lively and winning
Navin's introduction, which opens the story, provides a taste of some
drama and flair for description: "On
any other election night, I wouldn't give a rat’s ass who won the
As a news anchor, presidential election nights always feel like a
of the Super Bowl and the Oscars, mixed with a healthy serving of a
attention to detail in capturing the pessimism, opportunity, and
visions of both characters is part of what fuels this romance beyond
connections they contemplate, try to reject, and build with one another.
elements against the backdrop of professional responsibilities and a
would seem to dictate that their current lives stay on a different
creates a dynamic that makes for a compelling read. Romance followers
between draws and rejections in a catch-and-release style of action
both satisfying unpredictability and realistic atmosphere.
his and her
emotions are thoroughly explored: "I
give serious thought to calling George or Edward and telling him Navin
leave, he can no longer be on my Press Pool. But I can’t think of a way
it that won’t make me sound like a total idiot. What reason would I
needing him gone? He distracted me from running the nation? I might as
label him a national hazard. That I actually think on it for longer
seconds proves how far gone I am."
interplays between the characters stem from Anna's position as
Navin's role as a press corps member. Their actions may be considered
with the best interests of their professions and nation if they act on
emotions. Between campaign promises and personal revelations, the
very nicely drawn.
This gives a fine dimension of interest to the evolving romantic overlay and adds a full-bodied flavor to the story. Madame President's interplay between political and emotional interactions makes it a top recommendation, especially for genre readers who seek more depth and auxiliary concerns than in an interpersonal relationship alone.Madame President
Return to Index
Malice in Milan
Ebook: 978-1-7331773-5-1 $ 3.99
Paperback: 978-1-7331773-6-8 $13.99
Malice in Milan is Book 3 in the Nico Argenti novel series set in Renaissance Italy. It explores the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of a Florentine banker in Milan just as Nico is on the cusp of achieving his dream to become a practicing lawyer.
Assigned to a commission to investigate threats to the newfound Republic of Florence, Nico finds himself facing not one mystery, but a crescendo of abductions, murder, and deadly danger. What seems like a singular disappearance turns into Nico's attempt to link these seemingly disparate circumstances into an overall, dangerous conspiracy against the Duchy of Milan.
Interactions between commissioners charged with probing a dangerous political and social situation test Nico's newfound abilities and profession beyond anything he'd anticipated.
Ken Tentarelli not only captures the political and social atmosphere of Nico's times, but he takes the time to inject insights on its culture and daily life, as well, describing foods, peoples' interactions and expressions, and other elements of Renaissance life. These outline the perceptions of soldiers, thieves, investigators, and special interests that operate in the underworld of Milan.
The intrigue is especially well done when set against this carefully constructed backdrop, involving readers in not just Nico's modus operandi, but the evolving conundrum posed by a series of events that bring him into a less familiar underworld.
As Nico, Vittorio, Massimo, and others interact and uncover a tangled web of deception and plots, readers will relish the full flavor of Renaissance Italy and struggles with an abduction which inadvertently turns into murder.
Nico's growing legal savvy and elevated status during the course of his investigation contributes a fine line of achievement and evolution to the overall murder mystery's social, political, and historical foundations.
The result is an excellent, involving tale that keeps readers guessing until the end. It is as astute about its survey of Nico's professional and personal evolution as it is about the identity of perps and the efforts of a commission charged with stopping the crimes.
Malice in Milan
is highly recommended for
historical fiction readers, especially those with an interest in
Italy and mystery.
Return to Index
The Mariner's Grandson
ASIN : B08HJ4JMHM $3.99 Kindle
Grandson opens with the 50th birthday of Duncan Craig, who
finds himself on
a park bench alone, facing a deadly medical diagnosis of pancreatic
At the same time, his father
Jack is threatened at his
nursing home residence by a mysterious stranger in a circumstance that
that Jack regain some of his memories. Duncan come to his aid during
Between the mystery of this
intruder and the history that
brought him into their lives, Duncan's life-threatening diagnosis, and
blossoming romance, there's a lot going on in The
Mariner's Grandson that cuts through any walls of individual
loneliness and singular purpose.
Facing the early end of his
life, Duncan is ill prepared
for either this event or the ongoing circumstances which demand his
As he finds himself pulled in too many different directions at once,
embarks on a journey of discovery that connects his life in ways he
Family history, destiny, and
choices permeate this story.
Milan Gupta does a fine job of exploring the evolving situations that
in Duncan's final years, connecting past generations and choices as she
the time to build the background story and influences: "My
parents lived a comfortable life with me, their only son and
child. Not having the means to visit Scotland, dad tried to instill a
pride in his ancestry in me, being the grandson of a mariner. He had
encouraged me to consider marine biology, or engineering, as possible
rather than art history. “I may have abandoned the sea,” my father used
to me. “But it still calls me back, son. It’s in our blood. Think about
This was likely his way of making restitution with his long-passed
father for abandoning
the sea, for deserting the Craig tradition."
As Duncan questions his
attractions and interests at this
stage of his life, readers are drawn into a story that links new and
connections. An underlying sense of irony and humor injected into these
changing relationships offers satisfying comic relief as Duncan
newfound possibilities and limitations alike: "I
wasn’t used to such kindness, and felt my eyes welling up, ever
so slightly. I shook it off and, bringing her hand to my chest, said,
there’s something I need to tell you. Something that I’m afraid you may
like.” A look of concern grew on her face. “What is it?” “I’m in the
The reader might anticipate
a depressing atmosphere,
given the story's opening premise, but one of the best features of this
lies in its cultivation of hope, possibility, and new viewpoints which
any notion that the story will be an end-of-life saga alone.
The result is a satisfying
blend of self-discovery,
romance, and intrigue that follows Duncan through one of the most
periods of change in his life. It's a thought-provoking, moving story
recommended for fiction readers who like their characters
situations mercurial, and their choices and reflections absorbingly
Return to Index
The-Not-So-Old Man and the Sea—An Adventure
into the Mind of Ernest Hemingway captures the spirit and persona of the whole of
and is especially recommended for those with some recent familiarity
affection for this literary icon's works and life. Readers who have
Hemingway's themes beyond the initial high school required reading will
that this story takes the icon's basic approaches and expands them into
territory through one man's musings about his life experiences.
incorporates many facts about Hemingway's life that will be familiar to
Hemingway readers, The-Not-So-Old Man and
the Sea also provides new insights on his influences and
does so by
presenting lone, aging narrator Daniel, who faces his later years
frustrated by various life losses. The reflections of this not-so-old
likes to swim in lakes, seas, or pools by himself are nicely described,
capturing many of his changing views about life and his role in it: "The not-so-old man had a peculiar
trust in people—in humanity—despite being lied to and cheated many
times in his
life. In fact, he had come to the conclusion that although he was lucky
ways—ways that proved unimportant—generally speaking, when it came to
important things, he was not. Still, he believed that people, in
good. His sister once said about herself that she couldn‘t imagine
unrighteous because she, herself, was not, and you tend to see in
you are yourself. ―Perhaps that is why I trust, the not-so-old man
―Or perhaps it is simply because I am lazy."
As he swims down memory lane, readers follow him through descriptions of pain, confrontation, rebellion, and redemption. These aren't easy journeys. Each reflection requires that the old man review his connections to life, pain, and its conquest, reassessing the emotional and physical losses and choices that have led to this point in time. As the sea churns up emotional issues that have remained unresolved as tenuous influences on his psyche, Daniel faces a process that ultimately (and unexpectedly) results in rejuvenation and transformation.
this not-so-old-man makes these discoveries, is evocative and lyrical: "He thought about the dream he just
had, and it stuck in his mind because all his dreams about his dad
stuck in his
mind. But what the dream could have meant didn‘t come to him then. That
take some time and reflection. But the meaning was there then and
been there, and now the sea had washed away some of the dirt and grime
accumulated over his lifetime to cover up those truths."
his knowledge of Hemingway's works and life to re-examine his own,
revelations juxtapose the approaches of Ernest and the narrator: "The not-so-old man called Ernest Ernie
out of respect. But he called him Ernie out of contempt, too. He
for his abilities and achievements, his writing skills, story-telling
abilities, and profound perspectives. But he envied him for his life:
adventures he had, all the women he loved, all the drinks he drank and
ate, all the strolls around Paris and bullfights he saw, the battles he
witnessed, the mountains he climbed, and friends he troubled with. And
not-so-old man hated Ernie not so much because the not-so-old man had
not had a
similar or even close to a similar life. He hated Ernie because Ernie‘s
extraordinary life highlighted to him how wrong his own life had
to spark memories of pain, from his encounters with children on the
which prompts him to pull out a photo from the past and relive the
memory it brings, to his reflections on what elements in his many past
experiences might lead him to greater happiness at this point."
personal and life conquest, courage, and strength moves through this
character's thoughts as he maintains his physical prowess through
his mental acuity by working through often-painful reflections.
swimming goals and struggle to simplify his life to insights on the
of Hemingway's 'suicide' and health challenges, his legendary physical
and participation in death-defying sports, and the narrator's current
realization that he is on a course to die alone in the sea, Barlow
Hemingway persona and runs with it. He ventures into territory that
not just one man's influences and choices, but the driving forces that
a larger than life figure in an arena where courage and persistence vie
the physical and mental strife that life contribute to his
revelations that permeate his reflections during these long-distance
swim challenges form insights into the meaning of life: "He
knew he was crazy. Here he was, pushing himself for no reason.
Making himself hurt, for no reason. Continuing to live, for no reason.
might as well go down swinging,‖ he thought. ―Even if you‘re the one
at yourself. But he took a perverse kind of solace knowing that in the
it‘s all the same for everyone. Your life ends and all the dreams are
musings incorporate the pain and protest of everything notable that
achieved as he ponders his successes and failures alike. These
revelations appear as provocative themes that reassess the meaning of
achievements, struggles, and their ultimate impact on not only his life
those around him.
his emotional reactions to these later realizations about the sum of
impact capture the rage and struggles this older man experiences: "The not-so-old man‘s imagination was
driving him now, taking him places he had never let himself go before.
hurt. It stung him in the heart, like a barb from a stingray, and its
was spreading into every cell of his body. He hated. He hated himself
listening to his wife and feeling now for the first time what he had
His imagination was betraying him, stinging him, killing him. The years
distraction and suppression had piled up, gathered strength, and were
beating on him like a tsunami and exploding out of his soul like an
responsible choices or contemplating suicide, the protagonist relives
the starkest moments of his life, as in a bullfight which brings him to
conclusion that "Showmanship was
over. Flaunting was forgotten. Now came the dying." As
his greatest experiences and achievements, he begins to comprehend the
life ventures and experiences that have propelled him to this singular,
isolated point in his life.
should have more than a cursory or long-ago familiarity with
in order to fully appreciate the literary allusions and devices Barlow
here as the protagonist channels Ernest's thoughts and approach to
protagonist's choices in confronting pain and opening new doors of
cannot be fully absorbed without Hemingway's personal and literary
firmly in mind.
The-Not-So-Old Man and the Sea is a cathartic exploration of an aging man's
past, his connection with Hemingway's approach to living a powerful
the choices involved when rougher waters and decisions alter the impact
perceived triumphs and failures in life: "Life
journeys into the unknown. Life struggles. Life triumphs. Life lives."
It's highly recommended reading, especially for prior Hemingway fans
looking for an introduction to some of the major points of his life and
Return to Index
Open Heart is a romance novel centered in
Arizona in the 1970s. It
focuses on the love and career aspirations of Gene Hull, who is on the
success as he heads for college and falls in love with a beautiful
Juggling romance with a career not even begun is hard enough, but when
fail, disaster strikes. Gene begins to question his motivations,
life, and the waning opportunities he sees for heading in a different
than his parents.
father's ability to save the day, which turns into an impossible legacy
son to fulfill, to the career and love choices that create turbulence
complications in a son's life, Gregory D. Williams does a fine job of
the changing options and challenges facing a young man who breaks
hearts because his own is being wrung by life circumstances and family
his future, compares loves present and lost, and tackles the failures
which seem to plague his life and muddy his purposes, carrying readers
story that moves between career and romance. Gene's ability to contrast
different options and possibilities is particularly well done: "The sex is great, as great as it was
with Patty. Perhaps better because of
Sandra’s…experience. That, he tries not to think about.
And still, he
feels empty. Maybe not empty, but at least not full of what Patty once
— a future. But why no future with Sandra? Why couldn’t that change?"
As the naked
heart is exposed in more ways than one, readers will appreciate a
traverses different circumstances of heart failure and successful
There are no
answers concluding Open Heart.
world is complicated, whether it's his relationship with a successful
and his expectations or the women he encounters during his evolutionary
appreciate stories of young men coming of age against social and family
expectations and challenges will relish Open
Heart's gentle survey of growth. Though it's billed a
'historical novel', its
primary attraction lies not in history, but in social and love
which fuel a young man's desire to achieve success on more than one
complex, evocative stories will find Open
Heart a powerfully written, evocative journey.
Return to Index
Black Rose Writing
about love, art, and finding one's place in the
world when everything changes. Camille is an American artist living the
life in Paris. She has everything, until it all explodes by her own
All she can dream of is, then, an impossible escape: "I’ll do
I’ll walk, stow away, tele-transport myself out of France so I can have
chance. Live alone, no need for romance. Like Shawshank Redemption,
will be no redemption."
accident kills her soul and, at twenty-seven years old, she moves
from considering the world her oyster to wondering if she even wants to
continue living. It's only one of the many predicaments Paris and her
choices will confront during this fine literary romp through a young
vastly revised life.
Lauren does a fine job of charting Camille's course during this
turbulent time of her life. Her lies, realities, and unexpected choices
action are revealed in a compelling first-person confessional dialogue
reader that nicely incorporates metaphor and descriptions that are
compelling: "A peek of sunshine snuck through the curtains
sliver of Parmesan expertly shredded onto a Caesar Salad made with fine
finesse, waking me much earlier than planned."
her friendship with the educated artist Tom to her fresh persona
as Lucy and the life she both escapes from and newly falls into, the
winds through the art world and the world of redemption and irony alike.
as Camille reflects that "My life was a Humpty-Dumpty
scrambled mess," she chooses different options and succeeds in leaving
Paris conundrums behind—even though she now deems herself intrinsically
unlucky—a far cry from her previous luck-filled journey.
poetic prowess and gift with words drives a story of discovery
and transformation that is replete with a spunky character's wildly
ride through a suddenly-revised life.
of women's literature who appreciate international exploits, a
story that leads full circle to a revised life, and the touches of
that mark Camille's journey will find The Paris Predicament steeped
art, love, and a girl's newfound discoveries when she's forced to step
from her set life routines into an entirely different world.
Predicament is highly recommended for those who like their
female characters determined, flexible, and ultimately successful in
their life courses and personas.
Return to Index
Deborah King's 'Inspiration In Cologne' romance series, Reformed
Dreamer, is recommended for both prior fans and newcomers
alike. King carefully crafts a stand-alone story that includes enough
to appeal to those unfamiliar with the past adventures surrounding the
connections between Melinda and Darius.
In Reformed Dreamer, Melinda Moore is
honing her skills with horses while living under Darius's roof. She's
from a rehabilitation facility in an agreement to live with her
'warden' for a
year, recovering from cyclothymic disorder (a milder form of bipolar
illness) that has challenged her all her life. She's struggled with
and her mother's secrets. Her second chance to recover into a better
promises to incorporate the peace and quiet she gains from a rural
her troubles only continue, albeit in new form, as she adapts to these
surroundings and possibilities and learns to work with horses and
stories that emerge against the backdrop of rural farm and ranch
will especially appreciate the attention to detail that Deborah King
this story. The specifics of horse training routines wind gently into
romance portion to provide realistic, uplifting scenes:
"Our first course of action on Tuesday was to persuade Thunder
to accept Darius as my equal. I rode Thunder around the arena a couple
and stopped by the fence. As I spoke softly to Thunder, Darius eased
behind mine and straddled both of us. My nerve endings sizzled,
Thunder, on the other hand, was unfazed. One huge step accomplished.
Darius and I fitted and added tack to Spirit’s and Thunder’s
day—baby steps. By Friday, they were sporting blankets, western
stirrups, bridles, reins, and gentle snaffle bits as we continued to
around the arena. Next Monday is deemed tack, mount,
and trail ride day. I’m apprehensive but excited."
"electrifying connection" between the main characters grows, readers
receive a fine evolutionary tale of love and new beginnings which take
different forms. As Lindy evolves new friendships and new dreams and
the challenges of her mental condition, readers will relish this
uplifting story of adversities overcome and new possibilities for the
only an apt addition to the evolving series, but a fine standalone
recommended for romance readers who like to see their protagonists live
lives with challenges outside of their evolving connections.
Return to Index
MB Litspace Books
Ebook: 978-1-7771673-1-8 $2.99
Presale Ordering: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=the+sailor+from+lampedusa
The Sailor From
Lampedusa: Escape to Paradise is
a fictional sailing adventure loosely
based on real events, following a young architect student who achieves
awakening about immigrant rights, sailing, and international politics
embarks on a voyage with one Captain Falco during his visit to Sicily.
thief and the impact of choices to help refugees to the Captain's
reconnect a separated family, navigate bureaucracy, and finally, to
freedom to sail both into and away from trouble, The Sailor
does a fine job of not only exploring James Bellamy's involvement in a
international dilemma, but Captain Francesco Falco's
ability to skirt the law
whether refugees are criminals or oppressed people needing assistance.
romance enters the picture, Falco must decide where
his heart rests and if there's any place in it for the man he has
self-assessments are astute and revealing during this process: "I can't give you much except the
thrill of not knowing what tomorrow may bring. I am a sailor with an
unsettled lifestyle. I'm a bit crazy, and I have more than my share of
challenges. I could end up in jail at any time to boot."
strikes and innocents become collateral damage, everything changes.
does an outstanding job of creating not only memorable and appealing
characters, but the milieu of the sea, its laws, and the emotional and
political entanglements of sailors who navigate treacherous waters.
these insights along with the adventure the characters encounter on the
the moral and ethical dilemmas they raise makes for a story that is
realistic, and astute as it captures the dilemmas of a group of
individuals who often operate outside the letter of the law.
hand, the immigrant crisis in the Mediterranean comes to life as seen
the eyes and experiences of very different individuals who take risks,
love, and uncover the meanings in their set courses and journeys in
life and on
Sailor From Lampedusa is highly
recommended reading for anyone who enjoys nautical backdrops
and social issues combined into a winning story of ethics, morals, and
Return to Index
Union Bay Publishing
Print: 978-1-7352411-0-4 $12.99
Ebook: 978-1-7352411-1-1 $ .99
is clean romance
reading at its best, incorporates a spiritual undertone, and centers on
and single mom Jessica Nash's paralyzing fear whenever she gets on
demonstrate her vocal talents: "Producing a luminous vocal
with color and mood, filled me with joy. But singing also exposed my
displaying me under a microscope for the world to see. I wished I
what others thought. I wished I could laugh off the audition, but I’d
rejection too often."
rare opportunity to go to England with her choir group tests
Jessica's courage in many ways as she faces quirky and prickly fellow
her intense fear of public performances, and the romantic attentions of
handsome tour guide. Despite it all, she achieves her goal. And then
finds that her journey changes her on many levels beyond
conquering stage fright. Also being challenged is her ability to relate
people, her openness to love and her single status, and the
always held close to her heart, fueled by her mother's lessons: "Once
Mom recovered from her divorce, she seemed fine without a husband.
a couple times, but the panic of being a single woman had subsided, and
was content. “There’s more to life than men,” Mom said one Friday night
she didn’t have a date. “If you’re not happy with yourself, don’t
expect a man
to fix it.”
has learned that lesson perhaps too well; because as difficult
as it is for her to get up on stage and demonstrate her singing skills,
is equally hard for her to deal with people, on many levels.
roots of the dilemmas she faces in England go back to childhood and
parental relationships: "Dad will be sitting at the table,
when I was little.‘Come here, Jess,’ he’ll say. His long arms will
and I’ll be five years old again. Isn’t that stupid?” My father was
old as Martin’s and could die before I told him I loved him. In spite
rage and crushed feelings, I still loved him—a strange affection that
with a plethora of closely-held secrets and missed and real
Jessica's first-person experiences bring readers along for the ride
emotional growth as she considers the life she now leads and how it
revised by new actions and reactions.
will follow, with complete interest, Jessica's invitations for
change and reconsidering her life. The process by which she comes to
realizations about her values, attitudes, and their lasting impact
moving story of achievement, failure, and choices and consequences.
of women's fiction who look for involving stories of personal
transformation will find Stage Fright is about more
than facing one's
fears. It's also about considering opportunities and life trajectories,
providing insights against the backdrop of a European cultural
will keep readers involved to the end.
Return to Index
9798650072775 $10.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
In Stockboy Nation, Phillip Doherty has
made many big changes in his life, from moving cross-country to marry
long-time girlfriend to returning to a job he once loved years ago. His
is at a crossroads and his future as a writer is questionable when his
fails to sell, so these changes seem to be appropriate moves for
The fact that he's in his 40s is a minor obstacle to his dreams of success on many levels, but Phillip faces a series of challenges to his dreams, from his own approach to life to the addition of new possibilities which conflict with his set course.
and goals end and new ones appear to be uncertain, Phillip comes to
realizations about his objectives and approach to life and love. This
readers into a world of uncertainty and change that holds both promise
fine job of portraying the angst, twists and turns of fate and purpose,
changing world of a middle-aged man whose decisions aren't always
despite his long-term goals. His character is believable, the life
realistic, and the choices and options tumultuous. When the pandemic
everything in an instant, his world turns upside down in a way that
more than familiar to all.
life completely transformed suddenly and in unexpected ways, readers
relate to his evolving relationships, changing reactions, and survival
Duffy also paints his romantic relationships with emotionally charged
about opportunity to ultimate life goals: "You’re
a runner. But, you’re getting a little too old to keep running. You
settle down somewhere and with
someone to be happy."
of personal and social challenge are nicely contrasted in encounters
dialogues which bring these issues to life:
"I’m miserable. I’ve watched a few movies that made me laugh but only
serve to remind me that my life isn’t going to amount to anything close
I thought it would.” “Let’s
happens when the pandemic ends,” Melissa replied.
“If Yogi Berra was going to call my life,
he’d say it’s “officially over.”
more than that of middle age—it's of life perspective and a future
transformed by crisis. This bigger-picture story, which begins as a
crisis and moves into pandemic territory, is highly recommended reading.
Where is the
in a life substantially revised? Duffy provides a moving story that
examines breaking hearts, new opportunities, and changed lives. It's
ticket for pandemic times.
Return to Index
Eric Redmon & Felicia Gros
Eric Redmon - Felicia Gros, Publishers
978-0-578-72039-5 $3.99 Kindle/$14.99 Print
In Tallulah's Pie, the prologue states that
Marie and Paul lived for eighteen years without each other. This story
the years that follow, when they do find each other, love, and new
together. Is it chance, destiny, or determination that creates this
romance and relationships? That's what Tallulah's
Pie is all about.
Paul is in
pursuing an English major. Marie has her sights set on art. Neither is
about the fast-paced required course they find themselves forced to
lies far from their goals. Both approach the challenging course from
angles that bring them together in an unexpected manner.
As the story
Marie and Paul find unusual connections as well as major differences in
approaches to life. Paul also comes to appreciate his family and roots
he faces Marie's angry father and her very different family: "As he drove down Airline Highway to
New Orleans, he said a prayer of thanks for a family that was
to everyone. He’d been raised in a bubble and hadn’t realized the full
of sheltering that occurred growing up in a rural town. He’d
differences a few times when he and his parents visited Savannah in the
city of New Orleans. Most people didn’t share the blessing he took for
Not everyone came from a kind family and a comfortable home. He’d grown
an idealistic, protected way compared to many who survived day by day
relationship, then a home, and Marie explores her painting abilities,
are absorbed by the ups, downs, revelations, and choices that confront
character at different stages of their lives. Eric Redmon and Felicia
don't just represent a one-dimensional romance, but devote time to
how love evolves and how each individual is changed by the attitudes
pursuits of the other.
take the time to explore the overall atmosphere of the South. Cooking
big part in many of these descriptions, adding mouth-watering food to
bigger recipe of life encounters and changes. At the heart of these
descriptions is Aunt Talulah's reputation for producing pies that
and Queens come from thousands of miles away to taste."
only things that Talulah does for the couple, however. Even as her pies
their lives and influence their direction, their visits to her
change her, as well. It takes only one bite of her pie to addict them.
Paul's writing and Marie's art winds into the joy and presentations of
Talulah's particular talents, readers gain a rich story of interactions
different levels that change all the characters in unexpected ways.
at the heart of this story, as is Louisiana culture—but so is an
process of love and transitions that touch all the characters to
their underlying abilities and blossoming talents.
change begin pushing Marie away from Paul, Talulah's pies could
the day. New lives, big possibilities, and Talulah's homestyle manner
Southern-rooted romance story that is highly recommended for fiction
who like their characters steeped in personal discovery and change,
between each other and within themselves.
Return to Index
ISBN: 978704019901 $15.00 Paper
ASIN: B07ZBN35JF $ 3.99 Kindle
In 1934, south-central
Michigan is experiencing the brunt
of the Great Depression. The farm setting of Threads
stems from author Charlotte Whitney's family stories that
she grew up hearing, about ongoing threats of losing the family
Life during this era is
captured from the viewpoint of
Nellie and her two older sisters, who experience childhood, adult
ongoing economic pressures with a mixed blend of childhood perception
worries about the future.
A note on mid-Michigan farm
dialect introduces the story
and sets the stage for absorbing the origins of Nellie's evocative
descriptions: "I’m in second grade
so I git home two hours before my sister Irene who’s in sixth grade,
though we go to the same oneroom country school. My sister Flora gits
high school even later, around five-thirty. I like the afternoon time I
all by myself. I can talk to Pa while he works, visit my favorite
explore the meadows, woods, and crick."
Whitney excels in capturing
how the Depression affects
and changes even the simplest pleasures in these childrens' lives: "I can’t remember when I’ve had three
cookies all at once. It’s so rare to have even one. It was heavenly to
seeing Jean again. I didn’t realize how much I miss her. We used to
together every day at our country school."
Her attention to small
details of childhood, adult
changes that interest with play and pleasure, and the injection of
concerns into their world than prior generations had to face crafts a
compelling story that is gripping in its juxtaposition of adult
concerns and a
child's view of life.
One such example is an
attempted rape in which Nellie
only knows she's being attacked, successfully fights back and gains
then must involve her parents: "I
couldn’t eat supper thinking ’bout having to tell Pa ’bout the rivalist
preacher trying to strangle me. Ma didn’t believe my story and I was
that Pa would make me go down and then show him where it all happened.
don’t wanna walk down there again. Why were all these awful things
down in the woods? I used to love the woods. No more."
The focus on how adult
events transform everything and
bring Nellie into a dangerous and changing world is nicely done,
realistic lingo which is easily understood, adding authenticity to the
observations of a young girl's coming of age in hard times.
As Nellie grows up, faces
changes to friendships and
family, looks forward to a wedding day possibly marred by unexpected
revelations, and more, readers receive a thought-provoking, absorbing
that, more than most Depression-era novels, introduces a family's
a multifaceted, broader level.
Add the mystery of a dead
baby's discovery and a threat
that goes beyond social and economic struggles for a story that works
many levels. It invites readers of history and mystery to absorb the
changing life in rural America through three sisters who harbor
perspectives of the forces that affect their lives.
The threads of these
connections and forces will engage
and enthrall readers who enjoy close inspections of childhood
adult concerns, all set against the backdrop of Depression's overlay of
Return to Index
eBook: 978-1-7349018-0-1 $15.00
Paperback: 978-1-7349018-1-8 $17.00
is a romantic suspense story that revolves around the actions of
beautiful, successful businesswoman Celeste Donovan. Her life changes
boyfriend is murdered and her ex, Omar, is implicated. Celeste
own danger as she finds herself in the crosshairs of his attention.
to entrap him and bring him to justice, Celeste instead finds
that her dangerous new role and pursuit places not just her life but
she's worked for in jeopardy, as a clever opponent matches her every
increasingly deadly force: "Celeste’s face registered
Omar’s glee. She swallowed and said through clenched teeth, “Yes, I
misunderstood what you’re telling me. You just said Stan told you he
us, and in the same breath, you’re telling me you asked him not to?
confusion, because there is no way I could discern why my own boyfriend
sabotage what Sav and I have been working so hard toward.” “Celeste,
already have to compete with your work schedule and friends as it is.
going to allow you to go fifty million dollars deep with someone like
would be in over your head, not to mention the time it would take away
there is more at stake and behind Theodore's death than one
man's pursuits and plans. As Celeste uncovers a wider-ranging plot, she
with choices and insights that challenge not just her future, but her
vision of her success.
Eckles does a fine job of winding the themes of relationship
abuse, murder, and romance into a story replete with many twists and
Readers who follow Celeste from a life of achievement and success into
emotionally dubious territory will find her character holds an
of vulnerability as well as determination and ability. These qualities
to form a realistic protagonist as much at odds with her heart as she
is with a
murder investigation that has become too personal and dangerous.
also does a fine job of marrying intrigue with romance on an
international arena that keeps Celeste's story fast-paced and
still found these clandestine flights in and out of secret desert
thrilling, this time perhaps more than she normally would since she was
stifling all her other emotions at this point. No amount of ayahuasca
ingest on a retreat in Peru would cleanse her of the trauma she had
through the past few days. Celeste had to find a way to get her old
back—when flying to a glamorous locale on a private jet was what she
are her allies? Has Omar threatened others? Can he be brought to
elusive game she plays is thoroughly engrossing and logical at each
step of the way as her emotions wreak havoc with her investigative
Readers who look for a glamorous romp through the
of business success and underworld dealings will find this blend of
intrigue a wonderful achievement. It provides an engrossing read as it
its way to a conclusion that is unexpected and thought-provoking.
Return to Index
B. Mirthy & Sons
Paperback: 978-0-9861709-0-4 $15.00
Ebook: 978-0-9861709-1-1 $ 2.99
concerns, conspiracies, and comedy make for a fine serving of
fun and is just the ticket to counter the angst of modern times in The
Legion, a romp through the food world which opens with the
puzzle of a
strange voice that interferes with food critic Lynn Grady's latest
venture: "Our Zen Gourmet was three bites into the Duck Pâté
Truffles when she first heard the voice. It seemed to be inside her
was surprising, since it was male, with a distinctly French accent. ZE
TRUFFLES, ZEY ARE TERRIBLE, NO? Lynn Grady froze, listening, wishing
check what she’d written about the truffles on her hidden notepad. But
pretty sure the words were [savory] and [delicate]. She
this opener, the reader (especially those interested in humor and
food fun) is hooked as Lynn discovers the true origins of this sudden
critic and what it means not just for the culinary world, but the
readers pursue the story, they'll discover that The Urban
is actually a satire that offers much more than a culinary perspective. It tackles corporate
special interests and
shenanigans, simmering psychological struggles, crazy conundrums, and
woman's wacky journey from a world she is very familiar with to one
stymies her knowledge of Boston's society and people.
the chase scenes are replete with humor: "You made it! We
were worried sick.” He stopped short as he got a closer look.
wounded, and”—he noticed the wet clothes and sniffed—“fresh from a swim
cesspool? In your clothes?” “Just practicing escape techniques on our
Cartel friends,” Roger replied. “Took the sea route through the Public
“You sure you lost them?” “Of course.” Howie examined Roger’s bruised
“They should pay for this. They should drive French cars till they drop
from frustration. Come, you need ointment on those scrapes—I’m thinking
more duck shit than chlorine in the Swan Pond.”
Rocco and Carl, Howie, Francois and Phil, and a cast of characters
bumble their way through special interests and special foods with a
French, fast food, and high drama, readers will enjoy the subplots and
different threads that run through the story. These lend a degree of
that might thwart some readers in earlier chapters, before they
all these escapades hold meaning and connection, and that the abundance
delightful characters and observations result in a wild ride through
hallmark example of the 'absurd conspiracy', The Urban Legion
introduces the presence of unsettling voices that portend escapades and
alike in the face of a truffle farm incident that evolves from a Mall
to blossom into violence and murder that "...violated every
teaching that even a remedial student knew."
defies neat categorization. Suffice it to say that this novel is an
exceptional presentation for anyone who enjoys literature, satire,
references, and a romp through life based on a blend of conspiracy,
and social investigation.
Return to Index
Walk Away West
Evolved Publishing, LLC
9781622536375 $16.95 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Evolved Publishing: walk-away-west
Author website: www.jfcollen.com
Walk Away West is the second book in the
'Journey of Cornelia Rose'
series, providing historical literature readers with a continuing saga
Nellie's changing world. Nellie lives happily in New York as a midwife
to Obadiah Wright. She enjoys a lovely home filled with privilege and
in the 1850s.
likely candidate to walk away from this world and head out into the
but circumstances change and force Nellie to leave her beloved home and
when the lure of the West calls her husband to the road.
underlying facets driving the story line, from the love between the
involvement in death and social strife and Obadiah's legal prowess. The
changing role of women in this society is nicely outlined in encounters
test the couple's love and perceptions of their places in this volatile
world: "Nellie laid a reassuring hand on his
arm. “We all suffer distress beyond rational thought at the tragedy we
witnessed first-hand,” she said. “We mutually ache from the painful
that further efforts, now, shall spare none of the victims. Agnes, the
proceeding shall assess culpability. Moreover, the Inquest could spawn
legislation banning all racing on the Hudson River. If only it were
for the ladies to give sworn statements at the judicial proceedings. I
subject myself to that torment for the privilege of aiding this
Would that women had citizens’ rights and could effectuate a change in
law,” stated Nellie. “Cornelia, such pie-in-the-sky thinking. That day
never come,” said Obadiah."
As Nellie moves from her beloved New York milieu to strange territory in more ways than one. JF Collen follows her fears and changes to bring readers along for an exciting emotional and physical ride into danger and revised living: "This is not the beginning of an exhilarating trip on my beloved river. It is the beginning of the end. The end of my time in civilization."
leaving a piece of her heart behind, but discovers new ways to fill the
a story that winds through the West via boat, wagon train, emigration
and emotional confrontations.
an outstanding synthesis of history and personal experience that bring
into a world that moves from a comfortable one to one which, by choice,
embraces austerity and adventure. Where is home for the
Nellie; and can love survive the journey?
for a fine stand-alone story of a venture out West and the characters'
motivations for both undertaking the unknown and remaining and growing
couple will find Walk Away West an invigorating novel of
change and challenge. It works well either as a follow-up to Nellie's
adventure or as a stand-alone historical novel for newcomers.
Return to Index
Howling in Ruin
When Cities Sink Howling in Ruin is set
in the Mediterranean in the
Late Bronze Age (around 1191 B.C.), when civilizations in the area
over a relatively brief period of time. Troy wasn't the only city that
this era, and the story offers a vivid impression of the times, its
promising a flair of language and description that creates thoroughly
strong dialogue to open the story, bringing readers into striking,
compelling scenarios from the first paragraphs of the saga: "Heading east, our shabby cargo ship
was a cradle rocked by lazy waves. Somewhere else those same waves were
sleek warships to glory. My cousin Eurylochos scowled. “Quit staring at
damn water and pay attention, Iakos. You want to become a mariner or
you?” “Not really.” “Well you better start wanting to, or that
ballocks-cruncher of an uncle of yours is going to kick your ass off
and send you back to the counting house. This is the last time I’m
show you, so watch and listen.”
presented so nicely that terminology such as 'gigglestick' is
understandable; the flavor of the times an enhancement and not a
understanding the psyches and observations of characters who become
in world-changing events much larger than anything they've ever known.
crux of the
adventure lies in how the ordinary individual finds himself at in the
of social, political, and personal change, bringing him to uncharted
the potential of a strange new, revised world. How he gets there and
choices and consequences are when he arrives contributes to a
that weaves historical facts and interpersonal relationships in a
satisfying, powerful manner.
bringing pre-Homeric times to life in a way that belays the usual
novel's reliance on dry facts and figures. While known history of these
times is woven deftly into the story line, it's the attention to detail
brings this world to life, from the treatments of healers who handle
wounds and greater afflictions caused by the clash of men to the
faced by Aithon’s heir when 18-year-old Lakos of Pylos's uncle's secret
threatens to go to the grave with him.
true heritage, the young lord faces newfound revelations that introduce
outside his experience and expectations.
vivid descriptions drive a story line that is powerfully laced with
emotion: "Of those who chose to attack
the Kikonians’ city, half were blind with hate. The rest had lost
worth living for and didn’t care if they lived or died. Perhaps a few
hoping for silver, or just enjoyed slitting throats. Saddest of all
ones who went because they couldn’t abandon their friends. Ko’on,
of the cargo ship, was of this number. I was there because Aithon had
me there. He told me that he couldn’t leave me behind and deny me the
avenge my parents. I had awoken to an uncle I didn’t know. All that he
was seemed gone: intellect, compassion, wit, moderation…. Inside him,
glowed red-hot, as if he were a poker that Hephaistos had left among
More so than
other stories of the times, Partridge's attention to emotional
details drives a story hard to put down...a tale of revenge, heritage,
cross-cultural interactions, slaves and lords, and what happens when
Mediterranean world falls apart simultaneously.
When Cities Sink Howling in Ruin offers a
lesson in anarchy and a
world in flames that provides thought-provoking reflections for modern
historical novel of Troy's downfall (as is usually presented from this
stream), When Cities Sink Howling in Ruin
points out the survival instincts, warrior drive, and struggles to
prevail that embraced a number of cities and both civilization and ruin.
first-person experiences of Lakos, son of Gaphnos, this world could not
better inspection. Historical novel readers as well as those with
familiarity with the times or its peoples will find the account drive
battle, honor, and a brand of ethical and moral perceptions of struggle
much food for thought.
Return to Index
ISBN: TBA Price: $13.95
is average. His life holds nothing remarkable, he has no siblings or
family connections, and his 1897 world, just after he graduates from
offers few possibilities for him to enrich his life or mind.
when Neville is called upon to join the family business. Neville has
secret dream: "With
all his heart he hoped that he would be assigned a place on a ship, and
sail away from the world that he had known all his life – he called it
‘existence’ - he knew his life would start the day that he got onto a
felt the sea beneath his feet." Is it about to become
Herb Smith follows Neville's evolving life purpose with an eye to contrasting the young man's growth and his involvement in the shipping and trade industry and the concurrent evolution of his dreams. His inheritance includes a mystery that charges him like nothing in life has prepared him for. As Neville explores new possibilities and options involving an antique icon and a young woman, he explores the world, expanding his own future in the process.
London and Cairo are exceptionally well depicted, as are the changes
undergoes after so many years of leading a seemingly staid life.
fine job of figuring out an increasingly complex world, from the true
of The Hermit to the real legacy of his life, which moves from normal
anticipate a quiet story of a too-normal man will find that, by the
conclusion, when Neville is in his fifties, everything has been
his actions and choices.
outstanding job of depicting changing personas, talents, and life
alike as Neville discovers that his purposes and origins are anything
surprising twists and turns that lead the novel into the realm of
revised ideas of the world's realities will relish the journey Neville
to them in With All the World Between.
Return to Index
978-1-64548-049-5 Paperback $14.95/ebook $4.99
wanted to do in her life is get away from her small town roots. On the
finally escaping, however, Abby receives an inheritance which ties her
more firmly to the town's future.
her life to fulfill others' dreams, Abby seems destined to never
own, but decides to turn the tables on fate and sell her inheritance.
Christmas spirit, fate again intervenes to provide Abby with not just a
portent of what should happen if she decides to leave, but a different
reconciling her role in the world with her personal goals and
present are contrasted in the course of a blend of romance, fantasy, in
A Christmas Carol style of writing
holiday readers with a gripping saga of a young woman's revelation of
future could be without her and the magic she brings to the small town.
a compelling holiday story that is highly recommended reading not just
of its seasonal attractions, but because of its underlying message of
empowerment and the forces affecting positivity and negative attitudes
comes to realize how her dreams and her reality can result in a better
for both herself and others, readers will appreciate the beacons of
move through her world to reignite the holiday spirit.
of how not just the town but its driving forces are transformed makes
particularly thought-provoking reading: "It
was indeed Lolo. Still full of gumption, though buried deep down, the
a visible, yet indescribable way appeared to be a shell of her former
had been transformed from a busybody into nobody."
compelling story of transformation and discovery is the perfect
seasonal cup of
hot chocolate to draw readers interested in both romance and
creates a wonderfully attractive tale reminiscent of a comforting
movie as it explores how Abby confronts forces of darkness both in this
world and in herself: "The woman in
front of her fed on fear and anger and hurt. She’d turned into a shell,
more than a vessel, now full of all the ignorance, pain, rage, and
world here could muster. Abby would not, could not, be its source of
nourishment any longer."
inspirational read for the holidays, Write
Christmas is highly recommended as a panacea for angst in
Return to Index
90 Days to Your First Real Estate Investment
Robert Gill, Jr.
9780578718279 $19.95/CAN $24.95; $4.69 Kindle
Author Website: https://robertgilljr.com
Publisher Website: https://teachingpress.com
Days to Your
First Real Estate Investment Purchase provides a daily action
guide to real
estate investments for all readers, whether they contemplate entering
market on a shoestring or are already well versed in real estate
haven't yet made a move.
introduction to the topic of real estate profiting with an eye to
90-day goal, discussing techniques, how to handle competition, and how
understand and employ property analysis.
understood, the approach moves to online identification of deals which
the profit-generating formula.
goal of analyzing one new potentially good deal a day, once a real
has been put into place and pre-approval bank letters are obtained.
Not all such
investments are good matches, however. Much attention is given to
this process and what constitutes the "right" investment for a
particular goal or approach. For example, duplex investing may seem
prime opportunity for many, but the down sides include locating the
tenant (especially if you are occupying one half of said duplex) and
understanding the screening process.
specific negotiation pressure points on both the prospective buyer and
sides to using a pre-approval letter to maximum advantage, 90
Days to Your
First Real Estate Investment Purchase not only streamlines
process of making a real estate purchase, but identifies common
turn a good deal into a bad decision.
knowledge, investors have everything they need to forge ahead with a
game plan, even if they harbor little prior experience in real estate
fast track assures quick results, once the cautions, pros, cons, and
packed into this informational primer are absorbed.
Days to Your
First Real Estate Investment Purchase is a clear, highly
for anyone looking to gain introductory knowledge about real estate
opportunities in the fastest possible manner.
Return to Index
Book Marketing Fundamentals
Strange Worlds Publishing
978-1733342445 $21.99 Print/$5.99 ebook
Fundamentals: Tell the World About Your Book comes from an
author who has
self-published and successfully marketed over 30 books. His fountain of
knowledge stems from this experience as well as lectures and webinars
the process, which incorporate the experiences of others. Thus, a
information and new opportunities are presented that will prove
points out that the marketing tactics to be used can change, depending
the author is in the process—newly
published by a publishing firm; newly self-published; or planning on
Platform concepts are
discussed, words of wisdom about
advance planning and timing are revealed, and authors receive all the
step-by-step instructions to assure their book gains the timely
attention it deserves.
From good, specific groups
that can be joined on social
media platforms (such as Goodreads) that support a newly published
the problematic realities of making public appearances to support one's
and deciding how much to spend on book promotion, all the strategies,
bolts, and realities of both the publishing and marketing effort are
Interviews with authors who
have employed various
strategies also pinpoint the pros and cons of various choices, making Book Marketing Fundamentals not just a
singular set of recommendations based on Hank Quense's experiences, but
real-world encounters of others.
Numerous books cover book
and marketing. Few discuss the practical pros and cons of Book Marketing Fundamentals, presenting
them in a way that makes
sense and offers contrasts between effective possibilities and
approaches. It's a highly recommended 'must' that every newly published
and future authors should consult well before their book hits the
Return to Index
Gary E. Midkiff
Busville: A Story About School Bus Drivers is a collection of interconnected stories revolving around school bus drivers and the social and political conflicts which add another layer of responsibility and angst onto their driving duties. It will especially delight both bus drivers and those who know them with stories that don't just take place behind the wheel.
One might anticipate that a
story about buses would begin
on a bus, but the saga opens with Derek's confrontation with the
an aging mother who really needs to live in a safer place than in her
As the story moves from
Rick's recurring nightmare to bus
driver Monica's evolving health issues and Jay's worries that the
district may be considering putting his lucrative bus driving contract
bid, readers receive an entwined story of drivers, managers, politics,
daily life that pose challenges for everyone.
Whether it's Monica or
Stephanie's life under discussion,
common economic and social challenges face them both as other
influences on bus
driver lives are revealed. Gary E. Midkiff excels at creating a story
delves into these disparate characters' lives and thoughts beyond their
driving connections: "...there were
no savings. There was no buffer. And there was no meaningful medical
If she thought about the past, she cried. If she thought about the
cried. If she kept her focus very tightly on today, she could manage.
This approach brings an
added layer of psychological
inspection to the story that elevates it in an unexpected way as the
face their own pasts, limitations, challenges to better lives, and the
consequences of their actions and careers. Who would know there could
much drama in a mundane job?
From the mechanics of job
performance ("In less than 45 minutes it would
time to perform. Morning routes, first pickups for the high school.
it would be a beautiful day in Busville.") to blends of
managerial adversity that affect each character, Midkiff crafts a
dance between business woes and concerns and social impact.
Some readers might think the
numerous characters and
their special interests confusing. But as the story evolves and centers
evolving confrontation between management and driver lives, readers
excellent series of perspectives on the problems from many different
Perspectives include those of drivers, the driver union, bus company
management, school administrators and schoolchildren, and parents; all
harbor different insights and connections to the bus system.
In the end, one doesn't have
to be a bus driver or
familiar with the rigors of managing a transit system in order to
the directions and revelations in Busville.
Its evolutionary path and focus on a District Manager's
battle makes for an accessible, involving read that brings both
bus-driving politics and pressures to life.
highly recommended reading, especially for anyone with any degree of
or involvement in school bus driving systems and driver challenges. It
a thoroughly engaging, realistic story of special interests and
all sides of the bus transit equation.
Return to Index
Sam Hooker, et.al.
Black Spot Books/Vesuvian Media Group
978-1645480594 $16.95 paper/$7.49 Kindle
fiction are in for a treat with the eight stories presented in Dead of Winter, an anthology that gathers
experiences set in the dark months of winter when anything can and does
happen...and not just holiday celebrations.
Many of the
begin with the holiday spirit (in more ways than one), such as Daniel
'The Face Inside the Christmas Ball', which opens with a child's musing
what actually lies inside holiday decorations. A box of ornaments kept
family for generations serves as a portal of deadly discovery as Joey
their magic, promise, and perils. This year, Joey's intention to prove
reality to his sister Sammy results in a confrontation with the
his grandmother's warnings about the magic in the ornaments proves
'Jolly Old Saint Ryan' is another macabre twist on the holiday season
follows an odd Santa's encounter with death in a chimney and the
legacy he inherits with the job. As the tale unfolds, his discovery
leads to a
dark place even seasonal magic can't cure.
For yet a
example of the variety in approaches to this holiday horror theme, take
Hooker's introduction to the collection, 'The Watchful Crow'. Here,
role as head of a murder of thieving crows turns unexpectedly deadly
young girl confronts an old codger and his only friends with a modern
diverse, unexpected, and solid in their characterization, plots, and
While the pairing of 'holiday' with 'horror' in the short story field
unusual, horror fans will relish the creative results in a collection
delights with its original, thought-provoking creations and twists on
Dead of Winter is very highly recommended
reading for fans of
horror short stories and seasonal themes.
Return to Index
You Ever Wanted to Know About AGING ... But Were Afraid To
978-1-7355815-1-4 $12.75 print/$9.75 ebook
You Ever Wanted to Know About AGING ... But Were Afraid To Ask tackles all the
difficult questions about aging that are intrinsic to the process, from
increased difficulty finding the motivation or ability to exercise to
nursing homes, understanding the threat and promise of assigning a
attorney, and adjusting to society's changed perceptions of one's
when age 70 is reached.
and other cautions, such as the chapter on how seniors are forced
into involuntary guardianships, form the backbone of a different kind
to aging that more closely examines the link between senior status and
perception than most, while addressing common barriers to leading a
of the problems besetting those over 70 come from being alone, not
having a chosen advocate (whether it be a spouse of family member), and
realizing the various con games that can affect them, either legal or
of the cautions in this book are eye-opening, such as the facts
about guardians and how they operate: "Forbes — in a great
this topic — found 60% of guardians never had a credit or financial
Yet they are given total access to and control of your money! They can
your house, your stocks, etc. and charge you exorbitant “fees” for
fees that quickly move your money into their pockets. And it’s a LOT of
Forbes found total dollars controlled by guardians in just Idaho and
to be over $1 billion."
are backed by studies and statistics, discussions revolve around
what a savvy senior can do to avoid such scenarios, and chapters cover
health and stimulation as well as physical issues. At each step, senior
audiences are encouraged to take this information and use it to better
lives and approaches to aging.
this is the most invaluable tool of all: a mindset that
empowers seniors to consider the kinds of changes that affect not just
aging, but their future role in society and their own preferences for
their remaining years in relative safety and comfort of their choosing.
developing hobbies for both introvert and extrovert personalities
(a factor too rarely considered in admonitions to expand one's
exercises geared to assess current lifestyles and satisfaction, Everything
You Ever Wanted to Know About AGING should be the
guide of choice for
one's older years whether the reader is in their 50s, 60s, or
Return to Index
Serge Beddington-Behrens, Ph.D.
Print: 978-1-64411-045-4 $18.99
Ebook: 978-1-64411-046-1 $12.99
Soul: Inner Work for the Outer World holds only one
thorough enjoyment: the reader's interest in absorbing and doing
improvement work on the self. It explores connections between
the planet, creating a powerful set of strategies that not only link
discuss outcomes and the results of personal transformation.
Readers who typically
receive singular discussions on the
subject of soul work will find the sense of activism and larger
be surprising and revealing. Chapters discussing 'gateways' to
courage, forgiveness, and joy (among other topics) assume political
they survey cultivating these ideals in one's self, then transmitting
the wider world.
More so than others, this
Gaia-oriented worldview offers
an approach that takes individual experience and discovery to a higher
Also different from other new age and self-help titles is an attention
step-by-step process of linking journaling and reflective efforts to
topics and deeper thinking: "Ah,
betrayal! But why should this have such a strong charge? I mean, all
did was renege on a small promise they made. In seeking to answer that
question, we come to realize that actually betrayal looms much larger
lives than we ever thought. And it always has."
An almost chatty tone is
used to reach into readers' lives
on an emotional rather than an intellectual level. This will attract
who might balk at the more impersonal approach of, say, a scholarly or
This welcoming atmosphere
and close inspection of not
just techniques but the newfound strategies and ideals they unfold is
the strengths of Gateways to the Soul,
and a key as to why the inner and outer worlds of contemplative readers
more readily understood here than in other books.
Between its examples and
welcoming surveys and tone, its
step-by-step exercises on how to forgive and evolve, and its bow to
precedent's influence on common paths of discontent ("The
truth is that we human beings have treated each other quite
abominably over the centuries. We have raped and tortured and pillaged
betrayed and destroyed and ethnically cleansed, and as a result very
hate memories have grown up inside our collective unconscious. If this
particular dimension of world Shadow is to be more fully transformed, a
deal of forgiving is called for in many different ways."),
power of Gateways to the Soul
promises unique access to the psyche and spiritual self.
Soul is highly recommended for any spiritual-oriented reader
greater purpose, greater effectiveness, and a better understanding of
self-growth leads to broader transformations in the world around us.
Return to Index
J.D. Vermaas, PhD
Hardcover: 978-1-7353966-1-3 $19.99
Paperback: 978-1-7353966-0-6 $13.99
Ebook: 978-1-7353966-2-0 $ 9.99
Get Money Do Good:
A True Story How-To discusses
older child adoption and
rescue—and how the author used money to personally adopt 10 children
with social inspection as it follows the efforts of Drs. Garry and Jodi
as they personally commit to changing not just their world, but the
others. This charts a course for social engagement and individual
serves well as a navigation point through the often-challenging world
international adoption and anti-trafficking efforts.
of these impulses and lessons learned from watching his parents is one
family's biological children whose experiences create the evolution of
autistic perceptions about aiding others, this story is both absorbing
inspirational from the start: "The only prolonged activity
make me pull my hair out is when we journey to visit the poor people in
places. Even though traveling to reach them feels endless (which I
foreign location fits me once we get there. Faraway people never seem
shoes and always eat with their hands, two bad-mannered habits which I
They also look bored and uncomfortable, like me. I get an idea. Next
travel with my parents to help people, I will bring along extra candy.
sweets will help them feel better, too."
development and fostering of missions are nicely presented and follow
courses of social and financial interaction as organizations evolve
efforts: "...we had made it, and thus began our mission to
a school for 100 children who otherwise would not receive an education
nutritious meals. The school became one of several missions we
through our growing nonprofit organization, Priority One Worldwide, or
While we were living in Qatar, we hadn’t been able to develop POW like
planned. Now that we were living back stateside, we had the opportunity
assess numerous potential mission partners, such as the one in
of how the usual capitalistic focus is transformed into one of gaining
do good with it are particularly enlightening and thought-provoking: "She
chose to sacrifice her individual opportunity to build the firm with me
make as much money as possible to support our drive to accomplish good
world. To her university colleagues, she looked foolish for rejecting
allure of higher education to join the evils and corruption of the
world. Yet like me, she also knew our professional lives did not really
unless we could leverage what we had—and as much as we were able to
transformative process, from making money to employing it usefully and
best possible way for maximum effect, forms the heart and soul of this
Get Money Do Good is very highly recommended reading for anyone who
would receive a
revised connection between money-making, profit, and using money to
lives and foster good in the world. Its adjunct insights on adoption,
children's issues, and nonprofit world organizations committed to
Return to Index
978-1-7339338-9-6 $19.95 Paper/$8.99 Kindle
Job Searching in Pandemic Times employs
Donna Cornell's decades of
experience as a job recruiter and career mentor, is tailored for the
obstacles newly introduced by the pandemic, and should be a hit with
multitudes of newly unemployed; many of whom have seen not just their
their professions disappear.
have changed drastically, overnight. Many unique or less-used avenues
employment are now overloaded and ineffective. This new job war between
many competitors for too few remaining positions requires a new arsenal
tools. Enter Job Searching in Pandemic
hunters to hone a creative, flexible approach to the notion of
Chapters open with psychological advice that ranges from reassessing
search factors are under a candidate's control to how to revise and
approaches for better results. They also discuss changing the notion of
constitutes employment, whether it is entering into an independent
status, taking a temp job with no benefits, or working from home.
both familiar, traditional approaches and revisions specific to the new
methodology of employers as they weed through droves of applicants and
to narrow their choices.
example. So much has been written about this subject that there are
books devoted to this one topic. Cornell discusses how to get past
gatekeepers to gain the human eye, how to fully utilize one's age and
experience to greater benefit, and how to avoid common mistakes, from
inflation to under-representing significant accomplishments and
industry terminology which may be unfamiliar when crossing into a
misconceptions (such as not letting one's prospective employer know of
in the position), reveals the basics of effective, persuasive
and tells how to make the best impression in the least amount of time,
the typical job interview where "You
spend all your time talking about parts of yourself in which they most
have no interest or details that are of no real value to this employer
that job. So the result is that you waste valuable, limited interview
you lose the opportunity to tell them critical pieces of information
position you as one of the leading candidates. The clock is running,
want to use the time wisely. Now, if the interview starts off with a
generic question, try to guide it to more specifics."
designed to meet specific goals: eliminating time-wasting efforts on
prospective employer and employee's side; standing out from the crowd
applicants; and refining skills and approaches for maximum results.
a pandemic is even harder. But it's not impossible...not with the
advice cultivated in Job Searching in
Pandemic Times, which should be a cornerstone in any
library. It is highly recommended for all ages and all levels of
just the young newcomer to the job market.
Return to Index
Journey to the Ecstatic Self
Ecstatic Self Press
Hardcover: 978-1-7354689-0-7 $23.99
Paperback: 978-1-7354689-2-1 $15.99
EBook: 978-1-7354689-1-4 $ 6.99
Ecstatic Self: A Workbook for Settling into your Skin, Cultivating
Authenticity, and Reconnecting with your Radiant Self offers
spirituality readers a guidebook of stories, meditations, and paths
self-reflection. It is recommended reading for those who enjoy and
inspirational workbooks and lessons to their daily lives.
The adventure of embracing
change is outlined in chapters
that read like a hike through life, from the introductory establishment
of a 'base
camp' to taking on challenges, accepting the support of helpful
hiking through insecurity, self-doubt, and negative forces in life that
stymie growth opportunities and perceptions of positivity.
Kae Strouse remarks that,
early on in the journey, it can
be difficult to separate truly positive opportunities from other
forces: "If you’re further into your journey,
like I am now, you’ve come to realize that no amount of external
will give you lasting self-worth. Sure, the applause and the “likes”
your angst for a short while—but the chasm of insecurity grows."
As Strouse leads readers
through the journey of
reconnecting one's inner self and discoveries with the forces at work
world, his followers receive both a blueprint for success and specific
approaches to apply the recommended meditations in ways that make the
sense to each person's life.
Quotes from writers and
fellow thinkers pepper Strouse's
admonitions, supporting them and bringing them to life as he reviews
obstacles, goals, and methods of perceiving and achieving them: "By actively making changes to our
current way of being, we will alter the manifestation of our futures.
forge new trajectories—and while it may take time to see results, the
are being formed. As physicist Newton explained in his second law of
“An object in motion tends to stay in motion.” Meaning that, once we
moving, we can stay moving—we can alter and add to our momentum. And
energy you put toward steering yourself in a particular direction, the
it’ll be to keep heading that way."
Where other books choose
Strouse uses his own experiences to illustrate pivot points, whether it
encounter with bisexuality's possibilities or a greater acceptance of
discomfort and pleasure in life interactions.
This guidebook through
physical, psychological, and
spiritual realms of life thus achieves what many lack: a full flavor of
wholeness that reflects not only Strouse's lifetime journey, but the
possibilities readers may experience in better understanding the links
growth, acceptance, and genuinely integrated connections with one's
Spiritual and self-help
readers will find Journey to the Ecstatic
outstanding course in reconnecting with body and mind.
Return to Index
The Perfect Leadership Triad
The Perfect Leadership Triad gives business book readers and executives a solid discussion on maximizing productivity by focusing on employees and coaching (delete through better relationships) through better relationships, and is the item of choice for leaders who would cultivate a different approach to management.
Eric Turbiville is a former
Fortune 500 executive and
credentialed executive coach who is president of Turbiville Group, a
and leadership development company that provides organizations with
turning executives into more effective, high-performing leaders.
One big plus to his book is
how specific it is about
imparting these messages and lessons: "Ask,
“If you could change something about your job, what would that be?”
transfers the power to the employee to correct any problems. As a
that question you are both empowering and encouraging the employee to
solve the problem—and you are
creating trust with the employee."
This focus on the
interactive process goes beyond
fine-tuning messages to considering the kinds of approaches that
employees and organizations to grow. It considers how the Leader Coach "...coaches to competencies that are
aligned with organizational needs. She asks questions that cause each
to ponder and develop better solutions" to understand how a
high-engagement culture within an organization propels it to success
beyond competitors who do not employ or realize this process. The Perfect Leadership Triad thus moves
heads and shoulders above the competition in business books and
Leadership Triad is a practical, specific, highly recommended
organizational and individual transformation. It should be a 'must' on
reading lists of individuals and executives who want to move beyond
practice and into the realm of extraordinary results.
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William L. Kovacs
Newman Springs Publishing
Paperback: 978-1-64096-514-0 $12.42
Digital: 978-1-64096-515-7 $ 9.99
Author’s Website: https://www.ReformTheKakistocracy.com
Kakistocracy: Rule by the Least Able or Least Principled Citizens defines the term
'kakistrocracy' as being "what our government has become, a
government-controlled by "leaders" who are the least able or least
principled citizens." Keeping this definition in mind is
understanding the driving force of a thought-provoking treatise
"the Dutiful Cog", defined as "that person who keeps society
running by getting up every day and going to work, taking care of
paying taxes, contributing to community, and being continuously loyal
Kovacs believes the tenacity of these 'cogs' will prevail over
battles and corruption. Reform the Kakistocracy offers
the 'how to'
manual for this process.
some ways, this theory is akin to The Peter Principle, but without
qualified people. In a Kakistocracy, the cream doesn't rise to the top
sours, but is placed at the top irregardless of its strengths and
provide both a political and social history of the raise of
this too-complex national control system and comments on who runs it,
people respond to it, and how it's rewritten the US Constitution for
special interests and gain.
history, and political inspection blend in an arena where
the moves of leaders are closely examined and critiqued: "The
disconcerting aspect of these changes is that by using massive
to change laws without Congress, the next president using the same
power can also change the laws without Congress."
whom did we form a government?" We, the people seem to have
original equation. Politicians will be the least likely readers of a
lambastes this system. But, the Dutiful Cog will.
isn't a general treatise, but offers specifics on the methods and
approaches that least-qualified leaders use to circumvent political
freedoms, and moral and ethical ideals of behavior.
Kakistocracy isn’t just a condemnation of the system, or a
history of how it came to be. Chapters offer "A Few Modest Proposals
Restructuring" which range from reversing regulatory complexity to the
federal government divesting itself of unnecessary assets and returning
of lands to states that ceded them to the federal government.
proof of the success of this treatise lies in these and other
specifics. This is where Kovacs
excels, placing his work head and shoulders above the usual approach to
critiquing the federal government and its processes.
examples specific and linked to daily life and familiar political
results, Reform the Kakistocracy
provides Dutiful Cogs with more than a bit of hope for a more effective
including a blueprint for enacting real change.
income tax revision to citizen management of the Kakistocracy,
this is a thought-provoking, action-oriented blend of history,
and political inspection. It is highly recommended reading for readers
would understand the process of change and how America got to where it
today, in the first place.
standing at a fork in the road and hold the opportunity to remake
the nation using a smaller government structure as a blueprint for
that's needed to complete the formula for success is action,
more books like Reform the Kakistocracy.
Return to Index
Timothy J. Smith, MD
Hidden Path Publishers
Alzheimer's: How to Prevent Dementia and
Revitalize Your Brain offers hope
and an unusual approach to handling the ravages of dementia—applying
new science to improve cognition and reverse the ravages of
influences, pro and con, of foods, fats, and herbs and vitamins on
to the effects of high blood sugars on memory, discussions reach those
would consider lifestyle changes to improve memory and reverse the
the control and condition of a healthy brain versus one which is
lies in individual hands may be surprising to those who believe in the
inevitability of bodily deterioration over time. There is a tendency to
that health conditions impart a degree of powerlessness that precludes
and cause and effect.
doesn't just settle for generalities, as so many alternative health
He provides specific actions readers can take to understand the impact
changes in their habits and world, right down to the choice of cooking
with stainless steel, glass, or ceramic pots and pans. Under high heat
breaks down into its component chemical polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE),
is highly toxic...A few years ago, after much research, my wife and I
on the DaTerra Cucina Vesuvio ceramic frying pan. We continue to be
with the performance of this fine Italian cookware and feel safe
knowing it is
free of unwanted toxic chemicals. It’s available at the company’s
of specific advice, supported by the latest scientific research and
studies, set Reversing Alzheimer's apart from
most, placing it in the
category of a reasoned, clear argument for healing versus 'pop
new age self-help idealism.
and studies are backed by footnoted references that also offer food for
for further reading, but the clarity of these discussions makes Reversing
Alzheimer's accessible to a much wider audience than these
would normally reach.
valuable, highly recommended contribution to the literature that
empowering choices and options for those who struggle with either a
of dementia or the present-day challenges of Alzheimer's and dementia.
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Rise of the Agile Leader
9781988925592 $24.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
the Agile Leader: Can You Make the Shift? will reach HR
personnel and business leaders interested in agility as it applies to
business community, and is addressed to traditional leaders who need to
re-examine consumer interests, global business connections, and how
organizations can adopt processes that add speed into the equation of
key lies in becoming an 'agile leader'. This book offers a
different approach to identifying such potential leaders and how they
leaders ready to make this shift receive a blueprint to
success that is much more specific than competing books about agile
Where other discussions revolve around theory, Chuck Mollor addresses
and bolts of how to achieve these goals by
discussing specifics, from
steps to handling feedback more effectively to common management issues
revolving around visibility, time management, and handling remote
Individual, as well as team, pursuits are delineated, while the
to move between traditional and agile approaches to management are
of struggling clients and how they overcame obstacles to
success illustrate exactly how agility plays out in the workplace.
differentiates emotional agility from other forms of responses,
outlining specific approaches to each that indicate healthy or
corporate culture. He also provides plenty of examples of moves to
self-awareness and corporate change.
these come not from ideals and books, but from his own life
experience as a multi-experienced executive and the founder and CEO of
consulting firm MCG Partners, and his own growth as an executive coach.
who tire of too many business books about theoretical
possibilities will relish the attention to the nuts and bolts of agile
that make The Rise of the Agile Leader a leader in
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Phillip B. Chute, EA
978-1732885530 $29.99 Paper/$14.99 ebook
Taxes: A Comprehensive Handbook and Investment Guide for Everybody
from a businessman who has been a tax advisor since 1976, and who has
many changing strategies, tax laws, and investment choices, as a
Phillip B. Chute is a retired stockbroker with 20 years of experience.
licensed as a Registered Representative Series 7, Registered Principal
series 24, and Registered Investment Advisor Series 63 NASD.
There are numerous
similar-sounding books on the market
which cover stocks and bonds, but few of them delve with authority into
side of investing, which is Phillip B. Chute's strength both in his
professional life and in his book.
Taxes compiles case histories and insights on all kinds of
from stocks and bonds to retirement funds and pensions. It covers
from changing IRS rules and audits to tax court processes, bankruptcy
debt, probate and estate law, and financial management impacts on tax
This survey is not meant to
replace consultation with a
CPA or EA, but to supplement their advice, for maximum understanding.
tax rules and processes require both, these days. This is one example
of why: "Corporate bond interest is taxable
with no exception. The 1099 amount is added to the top of your tax
schedule B income, and taxed at the ordinary income tax rate applicable
return. Offsets include capital losses (with limitations), business
operating losses carried forward, and itemized deductions. It can cause
Security distributions to become taxable, truly a double taxation
pushing over the $25,000 single or $34,000 married thresholds. That is
yield after taxes is so important. You really need to review the whole
return to get the complete picture."
Perhaps the most intriguing
aspect of this primer is its
inclusion of insights gleaned from others' experiences. From a horror
about a general partnership that evolved from changing tax rules in
possible liability involved in even the altruistic pursuit of joining
of directors of any local charity, Chute outlines cautions anyone needs
as they make financial decisions and assess changing tax rules and
The result is a clear,
wide-ranging survey that is highly
recommended for anyone who wants more than an investment guide. It's a
discussion of tax implications, changing laws, cautions, and insights
overall financial planning and the tax-related impacts of various
vehicles and approaches.
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Electric Bliss Publishing
Unreasonable Joy: Awakening Through Trikaya Buddhism
usual Buddhist treatise for applying centuries-old wisdom to modern
offers a new school of Buddhism for the modern world that begins with
that Enlightenment is real, and is possible for all.
has been developing this premise for decades, translating Tantric
a different style of Buddhism that relates more closely to 21st Century
approaches that can be incorporated into the busiest lifestyle to
control of time, understanding values and beliefs in the face of social
political influences, and narrowing one's focus to changing reactions
perceptions, this survey combines ideals and spiritual insights with
and approaches through nine lessons exploring mindfulness, karma, and
of Unreasonable Joy is also
most Buddhist enlightenment discussions. Poetry, essays, and stories
employed to link these teachings to experience and examples of how they
in daily life. Chapters conclude with 'practice pointers' that contain
questions for reflection, exercises, and experiential experiments that
reinforce that chapter's discussion. All these are linked to daily life
experiences and the lessons they hold.
the section 'Mammograms, Ropes, and Snakes'. Turīya's experience of
testing and possible disease juxtaposes with spiritual conclusions: "The sadness dissolved into gratitude
for this body and the life it has lived."
The blend of
spiritual, philosophical, and psychological reflection elevates Unreasonable Joy above and beyond many
Buddhist treatises, offering opportunity for reflection, change, and
purpose and meaning through a life led with deliberate awareness of
spiritual paths and self-reflective works will find Unreasonable
Joy encouraging and solidly connected to everyday
living, offering a succinct blend of food for thought and paths to
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Why Globalization Works for
978-1640123014 $29.95 Hardover/$26.12 Kindle
The U.S. helped create a
global economy; yet this is the
country currently attacking the policies and processes it set up to
itself and the world. Why Globalization
Works For America: How Nationalist Trade Policies Are Destroying Our
defends this process, providing a history of trade policy origins and
and making the case for globalization's benefits.
From the economic history of
the move of the computer
industry to California to political, economic, and social impacts of
globalization processes beyond the trade arena, Edward Goldberg employs
variety of approaches to understanding the impact and choices of
He attacks the underlying logic behind nationalist trade policies that
back achievement, world connections, and benefits.
As the current polarized
political system has confronted
globalization with new tariffs, penalties, and limitations,
collaborative processes have waned just when the world needs them most,
order to address COVID in a unified manner.
Goldberg weaves a social,
cultural, and political history
of America into the greater story of its spreading connections and
around the world. He tracks the results of these processes, why they
are important to American interests and growth, and how they are being
today. Perhaps most surprising (and important) of all is his link
globalization and successful evolution as a natural process supporting
From half-truths and
intellectual slights-of-hand in news
reporting to the changing realities of America's status in the world,
creates a hard-hitting, critical view of Trump's approach and
history that outlines the latter's importance to American achievement.
Anyone who would absorb a
treatise firmly rooted in
historical, social, and economic trends and influences needs to place Why Globalization Works For America at
the top of their reading list. It makes an unabashedly
argument based on statistics, history, and facts, providing ammunition
pursing international cooperative avenues as a better way of improving
America's position in the world arena.
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Walking in Circles
Finding Happiness in Lost Japan
in the Round Earth series. It follows a 750-mile walk through Japan
by Todd Wassel, whose purpose was to escape his set trajectory upon
from school and make a pilgrimage to find his spiritual and life
Over half a decade later, he's
still wandering...lost, on some level, but finding new possibilities on
Circles chronicles this
Japan. It is highly recommended
reading not just for readers of Japanese culture and travels, but for
sojourners who would learn about the pilgrimage process from Wassel's
His was no singular journey or
choice. Shikoku, one of Japan's smallest islands, sports over eighty
and is the pilgrimage mecca of the country.
Its remote and unique attraction lured others as well as
Wassel: "Despite its remoteness, or possibly
because of it, Shikoku has inspired countless journeys for over 1,200
The pilgrim’s path traverses the island’s jagged peaks, coastal fishing
villages, small cities, and farming hamlets. Each year about 150,000
Japanese henro (pilgrims)
circle Shikoku, passing through its four prefectures. For over a
years, henro have followed a
circuit of 88 Buddhist temples laid out in a ring around the perimeter
island. They walk in the footsteps of Kūkai, founder of the Japanese
Shingon Buddhist sect, which is a close relative of Tibetan Buddhism."
One doesn't expect a spiritual
pilgrim to encounter a bicycle gang, a scam artist pilgrim, a sex café,
monk bent on revenge; but all these elements and more keep Wassel on
Readers will be fascinated by Wassel's encounters that are as much a
commentary as they are spiritual encounters.
This is a Japan most readers
won't be familiar with. Wassel probes the underlying reality of a world
continually challenges his perceptions and preset opinions.
Isn't that one of the goals of
travel—to encounter new ideas that contrast with one's expectations?
Wassel explores this experience,
employing an engaging tone that juxtaposes historical and cultural
with his own experiences. This both educates readers and draws them in.
accomplishes much more than a travelogue of personal encounters,
story filled with drama and local atmosphere that captivates.
in Circles will mostly likely receive most of its interest
from armchair travelers, it's also a top recommendation for
interested in pilgrimages, spiritual journeys, and encounters with
culture beyond the usual Tokyo-centric focus.
Wassel's ability to both
entertain and educate makes Walking in
Circles a highly recommended read for a wide audience.
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The Wanderer: Travels and
Adventures Beyond the Pale
Take a trip with Steven
Darian by following his world experiences
and encounters in The Wanderer: Travels
and Adventures Beyond the Pale. His path doesn't follow
routes, but ventures onto roads less taken, from Turkey and Uzbekistan
Lanka, China, and beyond.
Where other travelogues
document physical movements,
Darian explores these cultures and experiences through encounters with
His lyrical language captures these adventures in a manner which is
engrossing: "Lorenzo turned out to
be really nice: bright, soft-spoken. Very easy-going. The kind that
explode when the steam has no place else to go. The kind whose rage
This is no casual
meet-and-greet of other cultures. His
experiences are challenging, dangerous, fiery, and always educational.
images and pathways "leading to the heart of nature," as in a
reflection on jade, to proverbs, quotes, and reflections that assume
proportions as these lovely metaphors resonate from experience to the
this is no ordinary travelogue.
especially highly recommended not just because of these lovely facets
involvement and reflection; but because such a book, in these pandemic
limitation and fear, is all one gets to employ in traversing the heart
For all these reasons, and because its special blend of philosophy, spirituality, psychology, and cultural inspections are so astute and compelling, The Wanderer is a highly recommended read above and beyond most travelogues. Unlike more singular productions, it carries readers to new heights of understanding and emotional connection, assembling intimate stories that are evocative, thought-provoking, and at times, even ironically funny.The Wanderer: Travels and Adventures Beyond the Pale
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Max Willi Fischer
ASIN : B084C377TP $2.99 Kindle
Brush-Off is a young adult
read set in 1942 and
Lud Mueller, who enjoys both romance and popularity in Cleveland, Ohio.
this changes with the advent of war and the sudden perception of
family as being an alien threat, prompting the rise of prejudice.
Fear changes everything. It
fuels bigotry and intolerance. These are realities Lud soon faces as
around him changes, turning his idyllic life and future goals into
waters of prejudice and threat.
An excellent nonfiction introduction
to this story points out its roots in Max Willi Fischer's family
setting the stage for a first-person story that brings these encounters
through the eyes of an ordinary teen who never fully considered his
American society before.
But Lud's experience turns into
more than one of personal realizations as he and his family find
the Texas desert serving as unwitting pawns in a government game when
interrogates and then incarcerates them in an internment camp.
Lud spends much time fretting
about how he left things with his girlfriend back home, but realizes
things need to change before he can return to make things right: "I spent most of my time pouting about
Betty and how I’d left her. I’d lied to her about Mom, Pop and Freddie.
think she knew and covered for me with her dad anyway. She’d never
off. The least I could have done would have been to open up with her
F.B.I. interrogating me and the probability of my internment. Now,
we’d never see each other again, and her lasting memory of me would be
liar. Perhaps she even viewed me as a Nazi spy if her father became
enough and twisted my story around. On a dozen different occasions I’d
about writing her a letter and explaining things. Each time those
F.B.I., the Civilian Enemy Alien Board, the mansion prison in which I
under armed guard—made for an unforgiveable position. No, I needed to
myself before I ever made contact with Betty again."
The government has its own
secret plans for Lud and his family, however. It's a plan that will
As Lud confronts poetic justice,
deeper ties with his German roots that are being used for new political
effort purposes, and builds unexpected new relationships in challenging
circumstances, readers are brought into a world that doesn't look or
much like modern America. Or, does it?
The roots of love, heritage,
prejudice, and damaged emotions, tempered by nostalgia and vastly
dreams, come to life in a story which illuminates aspects of World War
escape other young adult stories set in these times.
Perhaps it's the first-person
narrator's stance between two very different worlds, neither of which
familiar with; but American Brush-Off
offers young adults a compelling, unusual examination of American
society at a
crossroads, offering insights into the foundations of prejudice and
arise from war.
Teens (and many a new adult)
will find American Brush-Off
especially timely reading, given today's social turmoil in America over
status of immigrants and legal aliens and the effects of government and
processes on their lives and rights.
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ASIN: B08HGLH73F $0.99 Kindle
fantasy adaptations will relish The Beast
of Bellevue. The story centers on seventeen-year-old Ava
Pierce, who has
been locked away in an insane asylum by her parents in an alternate
Beauty and the Beast.
between the old folktale and this modern take lies in the internet, web
sites, and Ava's ability to form connections outside her home, which
new conundrums to her situation and status.
years old when she was committed to Bellevue. The hospital is motivated
her because her parents pay stiff bills to keep her incarcerated.
changes when a magical inheritance from her inventor grandfather leads
the outside world via remote access and to soccer star Alec, who not
a dark secret, but loves the same girl as his younger brother Dylan.
Ava uses the
portal's voice-activated commands to access and then alter this world,
everything changes in her institutionalized life, as well, and new
will be delighted with Grace Chen's ability to succinctly provide the
background for this story, then delve straight into powerful action and
interactions. There is no lengthy setup, and Ava's position as an
trapped girl quickly changes, which creates a faster pace in this story
most fantasy tales.
and Ava become caught up in a fairy tale come to life, readers will be
surprised and delighted at many of the twists and turns their conjoined
once out in
the world, is Ava truly safe? Challenges continue as the three face
obsessions, love, and forces which compete to keep Ava under thrall.
The Beast of Bellevue is a gripping story that keeps even seasoned
fantasy readers guessing to the end. Its ability to present riddles,
parent/child interactions, inject believable magic into Ava's evolving
and cement all with characters whose lives each hold challenge and
for an engrossing tale that's hard to put down.
The Beast of Bellevue's audience is
young adult, it's also highly recommended for new adult readers and
like modern retellings of traditional fairy tales. Its ability to
young girl's growth and changing relationship with family and newfound
will interest more than a teen audience alone.
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Charles's Bridge, written by librarian Sandra Novacek and illustrated with lovely drawings by Nicole Lapointe, is based on Novacek's husband's personal story during wartime.
It opens in 1938, when soldiers have caused Charles's family to flee Czechoslovakia. Forced to leave his beloved art supplies behind (supplies which quickly become scarce as war spreads), Charles is lonely, feels isolated in school by his accent and alien background, and is disconnected from the art which once held so much promise for him.
When he sees a beautiful scene, he wants to paint it. With no supplies in his future, Charles is forced to find a different form of expression.
Will he ever find a place that feels safe and welcoming again? And can his innovations replace the artistic techniques he once honed?
Kids with good reading skills or parental read-aloud assistance will find much to like about this story. As Charles perseveres in revising his dreams, there are many lessons for this new age of COVID which teach kids about preserving dreams and forging new paths to realize them despite the barriers that emerge.
Bridge holds a
magical story with a
powerful lesson for all ages, and is a much-needed positive perspective
times. As the color evolves both in Charles's life and in the artwork
book, so hope equally rises in his readers.
Return to Index
Find a Moose With Me!
Suzanne Buzby Hersey
978-1-7323020-4-4 $17.95 Hardcover
a Moose With
Me! will appeal to kids ages 5-6 as it tells of a young boy's
Ashley Halsey's fine
drawings illustrate this picture
book adventure, which uses an easy rhyme to follow Oscar's family's
Oscar counts down as he
encounters other features of the
outdoors, from ten sticky, sappy pinecones to nine turtles in the river
When parents use this gentle
story of discovery to
reinforce early math skills, they will find the story unfolds a lovely
family-shared experience and reinforces the idea of exploring the
What are the signs that a
moose is near? Oscar and his
family's encounters in the forest will engage parents and children
Oscar faces discovery and disappointment.
Read-aloud parents will find
it engaging and fun.
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General Jack and the Battle of
Jack and the
Battle of the Five Kingdoms is
a children's parable for kids
ages 8 and older, and is filled with battles, struggles, wry humour,
observations of social and political strife. A kingdom ruled by "the
repressive rule of King Roar the Lion and the fierce Felines" holds no
hope for change until explorer Jack arrives to shake things up a bit.
an outsider. By this very fact, he is able to address a threat which
evolved to control a kingdom under a very dark paw indeed: "There were five animal kingdoms, but one kingdom
ruled them all.
King Roar the lion was the omnipotent monarch of the Feline Kingdom.
proceeded from him and everything returned to him. The fearsome felines
the king. They prowled throughout the land. King Roar was the centre of
circle of life. The fierce felines set the law. They conditioned the
life of all other animals."
When the first-person narrator
who cleans the
King's office comes upon a Constitution and learns what the oppressive
really could have been, the story evolves into a allegory for modern
adults and children delve into a story about powerful kids who
changes against repressive forces.
The adult narrator of this
story has lost much
to this regime, from his family to his wife. He dreams of enacting
himself: "I dreamt many dreams. I found comfort in
rhapsodizing. There was one particular recurring dream. I had morphed
lion who mounted a successful challenge to King Roar. As the new king,
the law of the land. I abolished the blood sports. I repaired relations
the other four kingdoms."
His narration of events
provides an intriguing
fictional documentary of the clash between right and wrong, good and
animal and human forces that will keep all ages riveted and thoroughly
While David Bush's story is
identified as being
for ages 8 and older, the very adult surveys of politics, and the
would indicate this story would best be accessed by readers who are at
middle school age and older. Many an adult will find the detailed
of social and political idealism and intention to be thoroughly
while the very young may struggle with language and concepts even if
assistance is provided: "We have only one chance at victory. If we
get it wrong, we are finished forever. The victors would exact a
revenge against whoever dared challenge their authority so brazenly.
Lords will conduct a scorched earth policy from which we will never
recover. “The great
army that my
esteemed colleague George the fox speaks of is a large mob not an army.
not united. It can never be. It is disunited by its very nature. It is
polyglot of disparate animals each with their own idiosyncrasies. All
in common is their desire for freedom. That however, does not guarantee
compactness and unity..."
The blend of
themes and nature is very nicely balanced and well-done, enhanced by
white drawings that are detailed and attractive throughout.
It should be
that this review is based on a first-tier ARC, not on the final version.
Readers who seek a blend of
animal-oriented political commentary à la
Watership Down or
Animal Farm, and a vivid
story of courage and confrontation will find General
Jack and the Battle of the Five Kingdoms an outstanding
tale. It weaves personal and political purpose with a deft, compelling
designed to keep readers thoroughly engaged to the end.
Return to Index
Horn is Born
Blue Whale Press, an imprint of Clear Fork Publishing
book readers ages 4-8 will find illustrator Melizza Chernov's
large-size, creative drawings of musical instruments are lovely
in the intriguing A Horn is Born.
job is to place performers' feet in beautiful shoes. He
hangs around, elongated and beautiful and longing to be part of the
performance, to no avail—until one day, disaster strikes and places him
is no ordinary survey of musical instruments or music theory, but
a thoroughly creative, delightful endeavor that links music to symphony
processes through a lilting rhyme linking gorgeous drawings with a
and kids alike receive a compelling, original treatment of the
music world that covers not just music, but the possibilities of
creating a new
role in life. An added bonus is its message about bullying.
history of shoehorns appears in the 'back matter' but it's the
beautiful drawings and whimsical approach to life changes and music
make A Horn is Born thoroughly delightful and
a welcome addition to not just picture books about music, but
those encouraging flexibility, adaptive thinking, and approaches to
one's life purpose. Very, very highly recommended as a standout picture
Return to Index
How to Catch a Keeper!
978-1-7323020-5-1 $18.95 Hardcover/$16.95 Paper
to Catch a
Keeper! will give kids in grades 2-3 a Maine lobster boat
follows the adventures of Luke and Layla as they take a trip to the
and explore its many ways to play.
This story is really a Maine
celebration in disguise, as
their father outlines the biking, hiking, museum, and lighthouse
opportunities before the family settles on taking the Lucky Catch boat
Gorgeous paintings by Connie
Rand provide captivating
views of all the Maine scenes mentioned by Stephanie Mulligan as the
teaches readers about lobster fishing, using lilting rhymes that invite
attention and interest and lend nicely to read-aloud exploration.
From how to catch a lobster
to measuring it for its legal
harvesting and understanding the lobster's natural history, How to Catch a Keeper! is specific,
clear, based on a real lobster boat's operations, and invites kids to
appreciate and understand both the lobster's world and the appeal of
Local and science
terminology are reviewed in a
finely-illustrated "Lobstering Lingo" section at the end, while the
story's rich descriptions and visuals provide a standout read highly
recommended for parents and children interested in a lively story about
and lobster operations.
Return to Index
I Wish You
Michael Wong and Ann Baratashvili
Amazon Hardcover: 978-1-925973-12-9 $17.99
Ingram Hardcover: 978-1-925973-13-6 $17.99
Paperback (Ingram, PiccoPuppy.com, Amazon):
I Wish You Happiness is an encouraging, positive picture book that offers kids a set of affirmations for leading a good life.
Baratashvili's lovely illustrations compliment this message with happy
of kids riding bikes, reading books, dreaming, and having adventures.
presents new words that reinforce both vocabulary building and positive
perspectives: "I wish you success and prosperity, to trust
your ability to succeed."
and generosity to faith and hope in the future, moments taken in nature
peace and tranquility, and the notion that risk-taking requires courage
strength, but rewards greatly ("...for the magic begins at the
your comfort zone."), these are much-needed messages
and confusion. They offer adults the opportunity to instill in the very
sense of excitement and positive perspectives about life, the world,
optimistic picture book presentation deserves a place in any parent's
a read-aloud reinforcer of how to view the world and cultivate a better
and attitude towards it.
Return to Index
Ebook: 978-0-9994492-5-7 $ 4.99
Paperback: 978-0-9994492-6-4 $12.99
Audiobook: 978-1-7353778-5-8 $12.99
Book 3 of
Conjurer Fellstone series for teens, Kingshackle,
ends the trilogy. It is recommended reading for prior fans, and
saga of the missing Ash and three individuals charged with confronting
defying the reign of Conjurer King Slayert.
king's major weapon. It's a magical crown which gives him power and
When Tessa is captured and forced to confront this power and her
role in conquering it, she finds herself facing many forces, from
Kingshackle is a powerful and fitting
conclusion to the series
begun in Dreadmarrow Thief and expanded in Gravenwood's events. Here, Tessa comes
into her own and faces her
abilities, mortality, and the influence of friends and enemies as she
resolve in a final battle that has no clear outcome.
quest and the objectives of ridding the kingdom of a powerful conqueror
seems to hold all the cards is well-done, building on the prior books'
scenarios, magical setting, and characters while taking the action and
confrontations to new levels.
involved in this fantasy receive high-octane action, insights about
decision-making, and the evolving choices of all the characters, which
life through Tessa's first-person narrative and the insights of those
her: "We had no idea what we would
be up against,” she said. “Slayert must have spent decades building his
Horrifying half men combined of men and pigs. Soldiers with scaled
repels blades. We had no hope of surviving their attack without the
help of a
powerful conjurer. But when we released my brother to come to our aid,
psychological motivations and keys to success and failure are nicely
as events unfold, which are embedded with the fantasy trappings of
and consequence are explored from different perspectives: "He stared down at the black water beneath his
feet. It would be
so simple to fall into the sea and sink down to its depths. Reunited with his bag, they would say
at his funeral, by way of consolation. Except there would be no
Everyone he loved would soon be dead or living in a state worse than
It's hard to
a more fitting crescendo to the dramatic opera of events formed in the
books. From the opening lines of Tessa's experiences, readers are drawn
a journey replete with satisfying twists and turns, before it neatly
Fellstone series for teens is well-served by this final saga, which
relationships and hanging questions and summarizes a heroine's long
just to save those she loves, but to accept her own wild nature.
recommended, this series is nicely done!
Return to Index
Little Hometown, America
Author Website: https://cgfewston.me/
Kindle (price 3.99): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B083F7B2WS/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1
America is set in a small town in 1980s Texas. It follows the
coming of age
of a cast of characters who surround a boy on the cusp of understanding
mysterious world of adults, beginning with his own family.
CG Fewston is especially
adept at capturing the images of
transitional moments that lead to new revelations: "I
stopped running and looked back. My hair, fully wet, leaked
water into my eyes. Through the haze and thick veil of rain I watched
stare out across the river with a determination I’d never seen from her
And with the cool grace of a giant bird lifting itself out of the water
flight, my mother slipped off her wedding ring and threw it hard into
river. The rain continued all around me and I told myself how this was
stuff of dreams and how I should not believe my young eyes."
As Cody bears witness to
these events, interprets them in
his own manner, and comes to some startling realizations about family
society, Fewston continues to pinpoint these revelations in a pointed,
manner from Cody's point of view: "The
day had gone beyond repair, beyond human decency. As I walked to the
end of the
gravel road where the mailboxes signaled the paved road leading back to
thought — as I placed the remaining shoe in the mailbox — how I could
live with either Henry or Gwendolen ever again. I didn’t belong to them
and I could no longer relate to the people they’d become or to who
always been. Henry and Gwendolen had become strangers to me and in
physical presence I saw the failings of human endeavor, smelt the
the gross absurdities found in the undereducated."
Also 'beyond human decency'
is American society, as Cody
navigates an uncertain course to adulthood and its conundrums.
As he reviews his life and
its influences, readers gain
perceptions of the events and attitudes that stick with Cody as well as
special challenge involved in analyzing them with an intimate friend,
later: "I don’t think you’re telling me what
you came here to tell me. Is that true? Trust is a damn hard thing to
in this world, isn’t it? Only if you think so. Shall we?"
CG Fewston employs a
literary device called a 'frame
narrative' which may be less familiar to some, but allows for a
picture-in-picture result (to use a photographic term). Snapshots of
appear as parts of other stories, with the introductory story serving
backdrop for a series of shorter stories that lead readers into each,
dovetailing and connecting in intricate ways.
Intrinsically wound within
the evolution of American
society and experience, Cody's journey will resonate with novel readers
enjoy blends of social and psychological inspection. The gritty voice
attitude that evolves from childhood is realistic and understandable as
brings readers along for a ride into the past and the wellsprings of
Readers of The
Catcher in the Rye and similar
will relish the astute, critical inspection of life that makes Little Hometown, America a compelling
snapshot of contemporary American life and culture.
It's highly recommended
reading for literary readers who
enjoy coming-of-age stories and reflects on the memories that influence
Return to Index
Dancing Horse Press
Mr. Figgletoes' Toy Emporium is a magical
toy story recommended for
advanced elementary to early middle grade readers. It tells of an
eight-year-old girl who stumbles into an extraordinary shop that
life being stubborn. Her insistence on stopping at this
and her spoiled attitude, will prove surprising strengths in the
Parker is a
whose sister Kylie is ill. Used to being the 'man of the house' after
father was killed, ten-year-old Parker has been able to tackle
has thrown at him...until now. His desperate visit to the only place he
will contain something that can help, the Toy Emporium, leads to a
that changes everything.
appreciate the attention to detail and action that M.J. Evans
this fun fantasy. As investigators struggle to find four missing
Jasmine's stubbornness and defiance serves her well and aids in her
while Parker finds within himself a special form of courage that can
everything. Both confront the true meaning of the elusive toymaker Mr.
Figgletoes's magical emporium and its different impact on their lives.
connects the dots which sends Mr. Figgletoes on a mission, young
delight in the interactions, personalities, and involvements of a cast
characters who support courage and their own special interests.
story, as do surprises, when some of the adversarial characters turn
out to be
unexpectedly warm folk who also deserve a break and help.
The magic in
Mr. Figgletoes' Toy Emporium lies
just in the adventure, but in the revelations which lead Jasmine and
reconsider their views of the world and their places in it. They each
different answers as they challenge themselves and seek to fix those
their world which are going awry.
Just as the
emporium's magic changes everyone for the better, so young readers will
their expectations and perceptions of the characters to be in flux. The
is not just a fun magical adventure, but the story of true
using one's strengths, and changing the world for the better.
Mr. Figgletoes' Toy Emporium is very
highly recommended for young
readers looking for a tale of magic which evolves into something even
delightful, advocating for a kinder world. In these trying times, this
message is particularly important.
Return to Index
Days on Russian Hill: Tales of Love and Laughter
Mother-Daughter Days, Publisher
Mother-Daughter Days on Russian Hill: Tales of Love and Laughter
for read-aloud, pairing lovely drawings by Amber Rae Malott with a
reflections of her dreams for her new daughter and how they changed as
follows mother and daughter as they explore the city they live in,
in a "proper tea" under a table, enjoy Pajama Day or Dress the
Stuffed Animals Day, and have fun together.
Scout cookies, and other pastimes evolve and are shared, mother and
grow closer as the story moves through their shared life experiences.
area of San Francisco serves as the backdrop for many of these
adding an appealing atmosphere to this survey of fun times in the big
this aloud, or young readers with the literacy skills to appreciate its
descriptions and rollicking rhyme, will find Mother-Daughter
Days on Russian
Hill a wonderfully celebratory story of a warm relationship
creativity, imagination, and fun explorations that bring to life the
bonds between mother and child.
Return to Index
Suzanne Busby Hersey
Little Beach Books
ages 2-6 who are curious about the state of Maine will appreciate
this lively picture book exploration, which pairs a light rhyme and a
tell' series of descriptions. A young girl's observes what makes Maine
from its moose and summer shooting stars to wild blueberries and fresh
Fazio adds good-sized, colorful drawings of the young narrator
enjoying these Maine scenes and pleasures, with excellent visual
exploring the cultural and natural wonders that make up the state.
unfamiliar with Maine receive a light geographic exploration that
includes mention of L.L. Bean, Portland's museums and shops, Maine's
(the chickadee), and activities the entire family can enjoy there, rain
result blends a travelogue with a cultural, historical, and
geographic exploration presented through a young Maine girl's delight
the perfect introduction for youngsters studying the United
States, who will appreciate the blend of fiction and nonfiction that
action and observations with real facts about Maine's attractions and
recommended for kids who are studying the U.S. states in general and
particular. Its personal foundation for absorbing fun experiences
leisure readers to the table.
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Morgan James Publishing
book readers looking for creative, colorful stories will find Pippin
No Drippin' a standout, between illustrator Linda Pierce's
fun cat drawings
and Layne Ihde's entertaining rhyme that follows a rainy day where "The
days when it rained were really the worst./Plans for outside went away
thinks everything is shut down by the weather and wants to play
games on his tablet or phone; but his wise mother encourages him to use
imagination as an alternative to electronics.
can she mean? Pippin is perplexed, but finally his house gives him
inspiration for a one-cat effort. Perhaps it's not what his mother
in mind, but Pippin cultivates a fun approach to life as he becomes
creating music without conventional instruments being available. The
from the first book, Pippin No Lickin', also makes
receive a fun introduction to basic music terms in a story that
tackles both a rainy day's challenge and a young cat's lesson in
delight to this story lies in his wise mother's admonitions and
reactions. Kids receive an amusing story of innovation and fun, while
will absorb a gentle lesson in supporting youngsters who tap into their
result is an entertaining and thought-provokingly fun story of how
a young cat explores a new hobby and learns to take full advantage of
Return to Index
Rise of the
D. X. Varos, Ltd.
978-1-941072-81-3 (paperback) $18.95
978-1-941072-82-0 (ebook) $ 6.99
Book 2 of
Chronicles of Pan series, Rise of the
Hidden Prince, places Pippa Gardner in the center of action
in her quest to
locate faerie Queen Mab's lost son, Eros. Hampering her are disasters
physical and mental, stemming from the worlds she seeks to preserve.
her are savvy allies who also have a stake in the outcome.
Add in a
threat as a dangerous evil rises in their world for a thoroughly
fantasy that goes far beyond Pippa's prior relationship with Pan to
feelings about a war that is keeping them apart.
a fine background and setting to help newcomers transition to this
but it will be those already well familiar with Pippa's personality and
Into the Fairy Forest who will most eagerly reach
for this sequel, which
continues to explore her challenges and newfound abilities.
injection into Pippa's world and his odd countenance and name to
such as Silenus, who display early evil connections that cause her to
her destiny and abilities, Pippa forges ahead. The journey places her
uncertain position as a defender of everything and everyone she loves.
an evocative, descriptive hand that not only captures the contrasts
these worlds, but Pippa's evolving feelings about them: "Hello,”
Pippa said. There was something so special about this
place and she wanted to speak to it. And honestly, she loved it, she
for the Core the way she loved her mother, her painting and nature. She
to touch it and tell it how grateful she was that it was here, that it
protecting her and the entire planet. She knew Ruinae was there, but
knew the Core was a special thing on its own, even if it wasn’t
terrible creature that wanted to destroy all of humanity…and all of the
As she, Pan,
and a host of fairy and human followers investigate threats to Inner
both worlds, the story assumes a vigorous, fast, compelling pace that
teens thoroughly engrossed in Pippa's perspective and her adventures.
Rise of the Hidden Prince is not only a
fine follow-up expanding
the story, but an excellent vision of a young girl coming into her
purpose. Considerations of who chooses which side and why are
done, bringing readers into a story which holds a side dish of ethical
moral conundrums, as well.
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Sadie’s Shabbat Stories
Clear Fork Publishing, Spork Imprint
Clear Fork Publishing:
Shabbat Stories will
appeal to picture book readers
and read-aloud parents who
seek a warm family coverage of Shabbat celebrations. It reviews Shabbat
that range from the baking of challah bread to table settings, Nana's
about Shabbat and family history, and connections to ancestors.
This work is as much about
ancestor history and connections and the survival of Jewish people both
general and in Sadie's family as it is about Shabbat. It creates a
family-oriented story of how this celebration serves as a reminder of
through stories that move between generations as a result of Shabbat's
Lisa Goldberg's lovely drawings
add to the celebratory feel of the story, inviting young readers both
and non-Jewish to understand the underlying connecting foundations of
and family get-togethers.
The intergenerational feel of Sadie’s
Shabbat Stories will appeal to
families seeking to cement the importance of family experiences for
Return to Index
Robert M. Moores
Eight-year-old Violet can't
recover from losing her
father. As The Shoebox opens, four
years has passed, but she's still stuck in grief.
She recalls a birthday celebration from 2016
in which both her parents were alive and went all out to demonstrate
for her. It's now 2020, and everything has changed.
Robert M. Moores does a fine
job of exploring Violet's
many feelings, from her hatred of Father's Day (because it reminds her
her loss) to feeling like the odd one out at daddy-daughter school
Those around her call on
spiritual and psychological help
in an effort to shake Violet from her depression, but nothing seems to
until a shoebox hidden in the attic promises a special kind of key to
Young readers who enjoy
faith-oriented discussions will
especially appreciate the attention devoted to exploring Violet's
whether it's reconnecting with her father in a different way or
and family connections.
Can a story carefully
crafted by Violet actually bring
her father back to life? Her concerned mother is certain this
fictitious world in which Violet's dad is alive will only clash with
world where he is dead. In contrast, Violet believes in possibilities
transform her loss.
Moores carefully contrasts
the thinking between Violet
and her mother for maximum effect: "This morning when I heard
running around…she must’ve been imaginary playing with her father.
around like they used to in our backyard before he died, thought Jennifer. Violet went back into her
room and started pacing back and forth. Who is my
mom to tell me what I
can and can’t do? She doesn’t know anything, thought
Violet. She was right about one thing; her mom didn’t know that
this just wasn’t some story."
As her mother tries to
impress upon Violet the fact that
God still loves her, Violet struggles on many levels. Young readers who
her story for insights about grief and family interactions will find The Shoebox creates a satisfying blend
of mystery, intrigue, and psychological and spiritual revelations
connecting real-world events to religious and personal revelations.
It also nicely points out
that grief doesn't hold a
timeline for recovery, even as it crafts a path to resolution for a
girl who is
stuck and unable to move forward.
highly recommended for advanced elementary through middle school
will receive an inviting exploration of Violet's life and spirituality
Return to Index
979-8677710360 $2.99 ebook, $5.99 paperback
with an unusual premise. Protagonist Mira is a ghost
who remains tethered to the school she's been haunting for three years.
needs to draw energy from the living to keep her from disappearing.
Tether that holds her to the world and her mandate to preserve some
of herself through a symbiotic relationship with the living world, Mira
stuck...and she wants to be untethered and free.
Be careful what you wish for.
When Mira achieves her heart's desire, it's only to enter yet another
in which free ghosts, once trapped as she was, are busy entrapping
The story opens with a bang: "The
clouds almost did Mira in." As
it describes kids who play around her "as though she isn't here"
(which she isn't), Mira's ghostly incarnation and purpose become clear.
Damon May does an excellent job
of succinctly explaining Mira's world so he can move into its special
challenges. This brings readers into the story quickly, giving teens a
background from which to appreciate Mira's position, her desire to be
what it ultimately costs to harbor such a goal.
Tethered to the spot where she
died, spunky and determined Mira builds a different afterlife and goal,
find it challenged by the Elders, who are the only ones who can
freedom and Tethered entities.
Facing the chaos of change where
she resides at its focal point, Mira employs her stubbornness to affect
things she knows little about. Her willpower, resolve, and approach to
this strange state of being will engross teens; especially since her
experiences, combined with her attitude, lend an immediacy and special
to her efforts.
Teens seeking a ghost story that
is compellingly different will relish the story and characters in Untethered. These characters might not
always know exactly what they are struggling against, but they do know
importance of freedom and opportunity.
offers an engaging,
different take on the ghost story
genre with a well-done, thought-provoking series of encounters with the
of free and trapped ghosts.
Return to Index
Wild Day at the Zoo
Victor D.O. Santos
978-1-64962-043-9 (paperback) $ 9.99
978-1-64962-044-6 (hardcover) $ 21.99
Wild Day at
is illustrated by Eszter Miklós and provides a sequel to the picture
book Dylan's Birthday Present with the second
volume in the Little
Polyglot Adventures series.
Dylan and Isabella are attending a special event at the local
zoo—a visit in which pets are allowed to accompany their humans.
chicken Kiki, the pet from his last birthday, will be joining them in
parents and kids see long lines and encounter a multicultural mix of
people from around the world, they speak Portuguese to Dylan's father
Ukrainian to his mother. Phrases and words in these languages and
Turkish, and other languages spoken by fellow zoo visitors pepper the
six foreign language words also are available on an audio link, so
parents and kids can hear them, at https://www.linguacious.net/lpa-audio).
dual focus on the natural history of zoo residents and encounters
between peoples of different cultures creates a fine interactive
that gently teaches kids about more than a zoo world as it outlines an
adventure which arises when Kiki gets loose and runs away.
polyglot theme carries over from Dylan's Birthday Present to
again illustrate the power of communication, multicultural
interactions, and a
family built of warm relationships.
A Wild Day at the Zoo's uplifting, fun tone pairs nicely with its messages and lessons. It will appeal to anyone seeking to expand a child's experiences with other cultures and languages.A Wild Day at the Zoo
Return to Index
poems in Borrowed Light represent
Ken Haas' first
collection and are a diverse set of observations. Many of them appeared
journals and anthologies across the country. They present memories of
place, and time in a synthesis of evocative observations in free verse,
charting the passage of not just time, but changes in place and
and adolescence to the intrusion and influence of historic events on
experience, each work both stands nicely alone and contributes a jigsaw
piece to the greater tapestry of not just the poet's life, but those of
past and present mingle in a family circle are evident early in the
with 'Sleeping in the Crack': "At
night sometimes I woke to what were surely/Soviet airplanes buzzing the
Bronx/and sought safety in my parents’ room./They had separate double
beds/joined by two large steel clips/hooked to the hardwood
sheets but a single blanket/so they had something to bicker about/even
unconscious./They were dangerous in different ways/so I burrowed under
blanket,/wedged myself into the one-inch doorway/between the beds, and
reconciliation of memories and habits of past generations ("...we say a prayer for mothers,/ours and
others,/for the tales
born of the deal/their love makes with the world...) to new
visions of this generation's participation in American culture (even
Jewish or Chinese heritage), Haas does a remarkable job of delineating
forces that change perspectives and hearts as life goes on.
portraits, ethnic influences, and social forces coalesce, readers will
appreciate the vibrant tone of stories that dovetail with one another
seeking an award-winning collection (it was the 2020 winner of the Red
Discovery Award) filled with reflective force will relish the cultural,
historic, and personal roots explored in the visionary pieces in Borrowed Light.
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Nancy Richardson’s poems in Going
Home are select
works from her previous three volumes that pair with new creations that
on themes of American heritage, injustice and social issues, and
growing up in
a world replete with "myths of equality and equal opportunity." As a
study in American ideals and realities, its contrasts are stark and
As a memoir, it's a strong testimony to the pursuit of these ideas in
Richardson’s own life and the world around her.
These very personal
revelations chart coming of age in a
nation pulled in different directions by different forces. Take 'Mail
one example of Richardson’s strong voice as she narrates both her own
experience and the social milieu she navigated: "Along the
factory line,/ the men’s whistles and cackles,/the oscine noise of
skinny teenager, stumbled through my first real job/in high heels and
legs/in the General Fireproofing plant of Youngstown, Ohio."
Mail is important, she
learns...but the men also want
something else that she is ill prepared to either offer or understand.
As the poems take flight
through American experience and
history, readers receive a synthesis of encounters on a political and
level that present news headlines and events through the eyes of a
woman, and adult who evolves a set of reactions and impressions of
justice and personal responsibility.
'Kent State' is one of these
hard-hitting pieces that
successfully captures this juxtaposition of perspective and history,
reports with personal connections to the news: "But getting
back to her
as she slammed/the screen door smelled the newly cut grass,/walked
at the pillowed clouds/and the man pointing the gun four hundred feet
something extraordinary through his sight./A dazzling red and gold
in the parking lot./A small sun come to the tarred surface."
How do we absorb world
events and link them to our own
evolving psyches, choices, and impacts? These free verse poems offer a
blueprint for following Richardson’s evolution of political and social
perspective, and are striking stories of activism's birth and the
journey to make the world a better place.
Poetry readers interested in
a blend of memoir and
literary and social reflection will find Going Home
a compelling read.
Return to Index
Writer at Play
Haiku Journal acts as both an
inspirational collection of diverse
haiku by master writers such as Matsuo
Basho and Masaoka Shiki
an encouragement for readers to fill in their own blank books with
creativity. It pairs lovely black and white drawings with examples of
that can be incorporated into the traditional haiku form.
writing books might focus on the three-line stanza approach of its
structure, Trisha Sugarek provides a deeper interpretation of what
haiku piece stand out: "A haiku is a
way of looking at the physical world and seeing something deeper, like
nature of existence. It should leave the reader with a strong feeling
Traditionally the natural world is mentioned." She also
by master poets which didn't always strictly adhere to the 5/7/5 haiku
foundation because "They were too
beautiful to ignore and not be included."
readers that there is an attention to excellence, here, that goes
regimentation. Any poem that is uplifting, beautiful, and an example of
expression is included, such as this: "Well,
what must we think of it?/From the sky we came./Now we may go back
again./That’s at least one point of view." --Hôjô
alongside lined blank pages that encourage readers to become writers
juxtaposed with tips on how Sugarek chooses to write, including
writing and history information that supports various approaches (i.e.
producing a complete poem in three sets of three lines, known as Renku).
is juxtaposed with verse and free verse from others, adding just the
blend of encouragement and a flavor of diversity to a haiku journal
as both an encouragement and an example.
looking for inspiration could not find a better wellspring of support
than in Haiku Journal. Its format
presentation lend to not just inspiration, but creative effort.
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Proverse Hong Kong
Poems from the Wilderness lives up to its
name, presenting poetry
composed on the trail by American doctor/poet Jack Mayer, who
with his prize-winning observations. These were composed during his
along Vermont’s Long Trail and parts of the Appalachian Trail and White
Mountains, over a forty year period.
writing poetry during his career as a doctor to help him absorb the
of handling patient lives and medical conditions, and several poems
nature, through forests and on trails, and the philosophical and
reflections that stemmed from these encounters with self and
environment form a
strong foundation of free verse replete in spirited and quiet
alike: "Time goes this way, and that
way,/and backwards, and not at all./On the trail I can accept all of
it,/believe (given the benefit of doubt),/that all is true./I listen
in wilderness./Since we can never know,/does it matter?"
Whitman, Thoreau, and other nature writers well know the power of
nature on the
contemplative literary voyager who would survey the wilderness with an
rejuvenating soul and perspective. These audiences will especially
Mayer's attention to connecting natural with human affairs, as in 'True
which addresses navigation challenges of not just the environment, but
soul: "My compass, though scuffed
and dented/points magnetic North./When I’ve been lost,/it was not for
magnetic North,/only my failure to follow the meridian./...My compass
points me/through that mysterious space/where intuition and ‘the old
reside uneasily/with Dark Energy and quantum uncertainty./More
navigating my soul/with neither compass nor map,/only memory."
Poems from the Wilderness is the
recipient of the Proverse Prize
2019, an international contest in Hong Kong which includes publication
those who win. It is a testimony to outstanding writing that will
delight fellow poets and nature enthusiasts who look for winning ways
words and reflections that begin with nature encounters and move
ripples in powerful literary waters.
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Me a Light
Finishing Line Press
Send Me a Light
is a poetry collection highly
recommended for those who have suffered the loss of a child and are
It charts the process of this mourning and recovery with an astute eye
capturing not just its nuances, but its possibilities: "Show
me the way to fill in all the blanks/of people, places I
have been and lost/Briefly I sleep and dream of scented
and I’m a child again/before I knew you’d come to be my son."
The progression of the poems
moves from past to present
and future, creating intersections of thoughts, beliefs, and changing
perspectives as it reflects Julia Gregg's devastation and recovery.
discussions of friends and strangers, and of life encounters tempered
cloak of grief and the overlay it introduces to her life.
throughout accent the words with
visual impact. Some of the poems capture a sense of season and place.
in-the-moment vignettes that reach for and capture the solace in a
fire, a city bus ride, or in "...poems
written for you in life and after life,/—my scraped, raw heart leaking
Thirty-nine poems of
mourning, observation, and growth.
Thirty-nine ways to incorporate their message into the heart of grief
and the movement between death's absolute message of heartbreak and
emerges on the other side. These messages are highly recommended for
poetry readers interested in introspective works charting the road out
Send Me a Light
should be not just in literary
libraries, but any collection strong in psychological reflection.
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Uni-Verse Poetry - Prints -
Proofs by Visionary Humans
Anna Ehrsam & Katherine Jackson, Editors
- Prints - Proofs by Visionary Humans
pairs poems with
art in a portfolio celebrating the selected works of contemporary poets
visual artists. It arranges these works according to the Relational
Theory, which "...presents a context
for all existing systems to be considered as a relational whole."
These juxtaposed works of
visionary reflection represent a fine synthesis of written and visual
will especially be appreciated by wordsmiths and art appreciators. Take
Ferry's poem 'After Walker Evans: The
piece teaches how to
look at art: "The old house is there
for us to look at./Not there for us to look at. It is there./We look at
blank unsmiling front/Says nothing more than what it has come down to."
Anna Ehrsam's black and white work accompanying this piece, the ink jet
print Light Compositions, provides
food for thought beyond the reference to Walker Evans, solidifying the
poem, and connection between written word and visual incarnation.
Another example of these relational works is Katharine Coles's 'Villanelle in Prose', paired with Poet and Poem, a mixed-media color piece by Maureen O’Hara Ure. Both reflect the heartbeat of love, differences, longing, and life disparities.
As the poems and art move
between subjective, personal inspections of life and art to depictions
crisis and survival, they not only dovetail with and grow from each
inject multicultural perspectives into the mix.
As this presentation evolves, the visual nature of the images changes from panels of artistic representation to patterns and organization that flow in a evolutionary way, capturing language, color, and page displays in a synthesis of reflective growth.
Any idea that this collection
will be singular, predictable, or uniform in its approach to art is
by an artistic process that keeps viewers surprised, delighted, and on
In an era where visiting an art
museum to achieve the same flow of interconnected images is verboten, Uni-Verse Poetry - Prints - Proofs by
Visionary Humans brings the relational order approach into
one's home with
a collection that reflects mobility and escalation in sound waves of
language. The result is thoroughly engrossing, and lends to repeat
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