November 2023 Review Issue
Fantasy & Sci Fi
Mystery & Thrillers
AGENDA 2060: AI and
The View from Space
Wild & Lawless Ltd.
$17.99 Paperback/$29.95 Hardcover/$5.99 eBook
AGENDA 2060: AI and The View from Space
follows AGENDA 2060:The Future as It Happens,
continuing the fantasy satire begun in the first book and expanding its
to new and old readers alike. An introduction recaps the collapse of
economic systems in 2036 and the emergence of a World Government based
series of social justice articles and ideals (presented as AGENDA 2060).
here with an opening paragraph that exemplifies just how and why A.I.
writings are so originally creative and compelling:
"The main thought in Levon Tofler’s mind as he
careened across the
tropical ocean eleven hundred miles south and east of Miami at over six
miles per hour was that, as crazy ideas went, this was right up there."
spent two years in space, returning with a message that threatens this
carefully constructed new world order. She also represents an attack on
elite-driven authoritarian control that has saved the world. This makes
danger both to herself (in many ways) and to the established new rules
successfully lifted humanity out of its economic crash.
whether artificial intelligence can save humanity from itself without
compromising humankind's own impetus towards self-destruction adds a
picture to the pursuits of individuals who each believes that their
to redemption is the right one.
intersection and uncertain marriage between technological and social
"Following the events of the evening, Alexa’s
Aurora Tofler was
twinkling on Levon’s canvas the next morning like never before. Her
previous day had already transformed what was a technological scheme
layers of thought into a story which follows the unwinding of social
considering who controls that impetus for change, and whether their
visions of the future are benevolent or dangerous in nature.
space, on Earth, and between individuals and technological expansion
A.I. Fabler creates another memorable, satirical interplay. It will
delight sci-fi readers who like their works embedded on a more
level than most approaches to AI.
as to catch the eye of non-sci-fi audiences, AGENDA
2060: AI and The View from Space is a wide-reaching,
eye-opening tale that both expands upon the prior book and stands
It's a story that will provoke laughter, higher-level thinking, and
from a disparate audience of thinkers.
collection additions that hold the potential to reach past genre
into general-interest audiences will find AGENDA
2060: AI and The View from Space a delightful romp through
irony and satire, and the ongoing evolution of humanity.
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Plum Drive Media
979-8-9871990-4-6 $16.95 Paper/$7.95 ebook
seeking opening series titles replete with impossible realms combined
thriller genre's penchant for action-packed scenarios will find this
in The LEAP Conspiracy to be thoroughly engrossing.
space colony which has become lost. Generations later, an aquatically
presence on the water planet faces invasion by air-beathers who
complexity and special interests into their lives.
matters is a coveted longevity product that the planet harbors; a
who feels constrained by his mission and the watery environment which
him to feel "trapped in this suit, buried alive under water;" and a
legendary colony which (as it turns out) was not really lost. It was written off as
expendable ... until the
water planet of Marna, abandoned by the LEAP Corporation, attracts
focus for its unprecedented promise and discovery.
making First Contact with the colony, diplomat Devon Arkovic finds his
and skills unexpectedly challenged not only by its watery environment,
Sharone, who chafes at the
idea that her world and people will bow to the mercenary goals of
on other planets.
job to see that his negotiations succeed in producing wealth beyond
imagination. It is Annika's to prevent her people from being exploited.
strong characters find their special interests unexpectedly entwined,
and tension builds in a story marked as much by political and personal
transformation as it is by a meeting of minds between two connected
creates a story that virtually explodes with action, but features
development that keeps its politics personal and events unexpected and
unfolds, corporate greed and evolutionary results take center stage in
developing relationship that tests the duty of a diplomat and the
between a lovely young woman and a virtual alien to her world.
especially adept at capturing the thoughts of this diplomat as he comes
realize just what his attempts and offers represent to this world:
sure sounds like another evil despot and even Suni doesn’t disagree.
so much going on here that I didn’t understand before I opened
only I’d had more time to get to know this culture first. What a mess
made. Now a dangerous, calculating thug is going to have control over
galaxy’s Glaeon supply. And LEAP will probably just go along with
Scylla wants to do. Alistair’s investors are totally focussed on
They won’t care if an entire population of aquatics is enslaved by
leader to boost the Glaeon harvest. And I’ll be blamed for launching
hideous scenario. Damn."
social, personal, and moral and ethical quandaries creates a moving
proves hard to put down or easily predict.
a sci-fi setting that then expands to embrace not just personal
changing goals and choices will find Crack the Sky
visionary story that reinvents the notion of wealth and expands notions
pursuit of personal ambition and special interests.
seeking an acquisition that is solidly written and packed with
twists and turns will want to add Crack the Sky to
their collections and
recommend it not just to sci-fi reader groups, but patrons interested
than a light dash of thriller genre devices.
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$24.99 Hardcover/$9.99 Paper/$.99 ebook
the urban fantasy series begun in Praesidium
furthers the Shadows in the Wind story of Kathryn Beck, recruited from
into a top secret organization whose members sport supernatural powers
ability to employ them purposefully.
well recall that Kathryn's strong personality and drive, enhanced by
special supernatural gifts, made her a proactive, powerful force in the
group. Cogitatio furthers these
objectives, following Kathryn on a dangerous mission that separates her
her supporting team, forcing her to address a sinister conspiracy
places her not in a position of power, however, but in jail in Alaska.
arrived at that point and what she does with this special challenge
nexus of a story that excels in both tension and mystery as she butts
with a criminal justice system that is theoretically on her side and
herself fighting for other women as well as her own ultimate freedom.
Not just her
abilities, but her instinct and fighting nature make Kathryn the only
choice for this mission. Ironically, they also make her the pivot point
conflict which tests her strengths and perceptions of the world and her
uncertain entrapment to probe what is really going on in Alaska, she
possibilities and dangers that build and then test her relationships
Pauline, Ashley, and other strong women who are also forced to consider
and new ways out of their predicaments.
which runs through Kathryn's encounters offers a wry overlay of fun to
"Was there a sign on my forehead: Come tell me
about the pending
disaster? At least I now knew the when and the where. All I needed was
a way to
There can be
greater mission than that of serving and saving humanity itself, as
forced to realize after a series of mishaps and dangerous encounters:
"What we are facing—what you all will have to face
from now on—is
nothing less than the ageless battle between the warriors of heaven and
demons of hell. And by virtue of your lineage, you have been chosen to
take up the
sword and shield and lead this fight.”
He paused. “If not, humanity itself will perish.”
especially highly recommended for those looking at blends of paranormal
urban fantasy thrillers that test the boundaries of categorization to
audiences who appreciate powerful female leaders and the conundrums
seeking vivid blends of mystery and discovery will find that Cogitatio stands nicely alone, but is
stronger as a companion to Praesidium.
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J. Scott Coatsworth
Water Dragon Publishing
$26.99 Hardcover/$16.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
book in the
Tharassas Cycle sci-fi series, The Dragon
Eater, introduces an unlikely team and dilemma when thief
inadvertently consumes a small dragon, only to find it sparks a
that changes not just his life, but the world.
The story is
humor from its opening lines as AI Spin advises his boss:
Spin’s voice echoed in his ear. “This is a bad
“Shush,” Raven whispered to his familiar.
“Seriously, boss. I’m not from this world, and even I know it’s a bad idea to steal from the sea master.”
Though only he could hear Spin’s voice, Raven wished the little silver ay-eye would just shut up.
Thiefness deals with his familiar and a best friend and guardsman whose
ex is a
priestess who hates him, a series of events draw them all into
confrontations with aliens, artifacts, and adversity.
cultivates and hones a sense of ironic inspections that accompanies a
world-changing, challenging experiences as Raven and his disparate team
forces beyond their ken.
with a riveting blend of action, unpredictable twists and turns, and
whose own special interests too often conflict with the greater good of
world around them.
faces a revised future revolving around the Hencha Queen and individual
of the trio face the choice to be either a hero or a killer, readers
immersed in a story of alien discovery. This leads them through
darkness to a
spore mother whose domain and purpose in the heart of a mountain is set
the greater world.
of individual ambitions, evolutionary processes, and complicated
transformations, The Dragon Eater
a rare blend of fantasy, sci-fi, and humor that keeps its characters
multifaceted and unpredictable.
It's part of
series, so the open-ended conclusion leaves the door well ajar for more
adventures and misadventures while addressing the main points of each
character's concerns. The themes of transformation operate on
social, and psychological levels in a manner designed to attract a wide
from regular sci-fi and fantasy fans to readers of LGBTQ+ writings and
always-elusive forms of humor in sci-fi scenarios.
series of adventures which test more than one character's role will
find The Dragon Eater a fine
acquisition filled with satisfyingly surprisingly interactions between
aliens, priestesses, and characters who shift between male and female
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J. Scott Coatsworth
Water Dragon Publishing
978-1962538015 $16.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
the Tharassus Cycle series, The Gauntlet
Runner, picks up the characters and themes of the first book
and runs with
them, further expanding upon the situation of Aik's love for his best
thief Raven. Another challenge is that Raven has just been kidnapped by
As Aik joins
with Triya to find Raven and further the uncertain relationship between
readers receive a gender-busting romp through domains of AIs, dragons,
and devotees. The story continues many of the foundations built in The Dragon Eater, crafting just as
vigorous an adventure as its predecessor to adds love and gender
the action-packed mix.
that audiences be familiar with the prior book in order to completely
appreciate the developmental process that moves relationships and
into new arenas of realization in The
continue to challenge Aik's chosen path ("How
was he ever going to square being a guard with being in love with a
thief?") as events force characters to confront their
Silya's duties in her new role as Hencha Queen to a magical gauntlet
prevents Aik from his goal of reuniting with Raven.
guard such as Aik can prove powerful to others, although the lines
personal and professional interests blur repeatedly, forcing each
reconsider their passions, values, and ambitions.
attacked on multiple levels involving physical forces and strange
which lead to confrontations and struggles over not just ideals, but
geographic turbulence, magic, and personal interactions carry readers
story where nothing is set in stone, little is predictable, and many
actions and choices are called into question.
runs headlong into selfish choices, readers receive a thought-provoking
that flows well, builds additional complexity into the characters and
presented in the first book, and represents the rich segue of
worlds worth not just saving, but loving.
seeking a strong companion volume to The
Dragon Eater which also ends with the promise of more and a
realization about one of the story's major players will find The Gauntlet Runner top-notch and
compelling in both its character- and world-building creations and
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The House Of Duquesne
978-1736508664 $26.95 Hardcover/$15.95 Paper
House's The Blanchard Witches
continues with the fourth book in the series, The House Of
Duquesne. Newcomers will find it
attraction that focuses on the 100-acre Blanchard family refuge, the
passed down by a group of witches, and secrets that were revealed in
book which continue to impact them all.
The changes experienced by this coven of
Southern witches expand with further challenges when they move from
Alabama roots to Charleston to confront the D'Angelo
family's own legacy
and connections to past and present trials.
There is a
keeping some secrets hidden:
“If I were to tell you everything and I am wrong
about what I fear, you
can never unknow. I must wait until things are clearer. The secrets
the House of Duquesne should remain unknown until there is no other
them, and everything
family faces transformations
in its internal and external relationships, minds are influenced and
love and menacing beasts confront one another, and moral and ethical
the cost of immortality and power rise to challenge family members to
was young. She was beautiful. But in time it would fade. What
was she if she were neither of these things? Her gaze moved away from
toned, smooth face and momentarily glimpsed her own eyes. A sliver of
humane quivered from them. But what am
I if I kill to stay young?"
As in his
books, Micah House presents a gripping saga of family connections,
powers, and equally strong adversity that often arises from unexpected
The battles continue, as do the growth and revelations of various
members as they battle their own psyches and connections as well as
paranormal fantasies, House more closely attends to unfolding the
pressures and perceptions of power and influence that motivate families
individuals to employ their connections in new ways. Readers thus will
deeper level of psychic inspection that works on many levels, pairing
action and paranormal encounters with witches and werewolves in a
struggle over life and death.
looking for books that rise above formula productions to reach out and
thinking readers who enjoy vivid action and moral dilemmas will
House Of Duquesne's ability to
depict a war that unfolds on many levels:
dastardly jokester. It had dangled something real in their reach, then
it away. They were foes now—each aligned to their own. Inside that
stare, the two men said their goodbyes to whatever they might have had
resigned themselves to their positions."
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The Price of
Michael C. Bland
World Castle Publishing, LLC
$21.99 Hardcover/$15.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
the dystopian sci-fi 'Price Of' trilogy, The
Price of Rebellion, takes place in 2047, where Dray Quintero
that America's leaders have been hijacked, replaced with talking heads
technological implants are controlled by forces that would influence
all political and social events in the nation.
own innovative creation has proved the impetus for this takeover,
on the side of rebel forces that know the truth and are determined to
power. Dray has joined the Founding Fathers, just one of the forces
participating in this struggle—but he has yet to feel he really knows
the uncertain role of dodging two battling forces as he considers his
choices, the consequences of his decisions, and the recklessness and
desperation involved in confronting The Agency, an enforcement group
to assure, via enhanced Agents, that no one discovers that a coup
to take back the country by any means possible, even if it involves
his remaining family, translates to an epic series of confrontations in
populated by bots, drones, and technological enhancements that
warfare conducted on a very different playing field than ever before.
As he and
companions travel the countryside honing in on their destination while
sharpening the skills that will lead them either into disaster or
readers receive a fast-paced, technology-driven story replete with
family ties and questions of living, dying, and possibilities that lie
provides a timeline of events as an introduction to this setting, but
of the action lies in the story's attention to psychological depth and
as Dray contemplates his choices and makes difficult decisions that
not only the world, but his relationships.
Dray's journey, in particular, will find his ongoing dilemmas and how
resolution to be thoroughly engrossing, featuring many twists and turns
will feel familiar to readers because of the dual nature of the recent
years and the political and technological drives of modern times.
light fete to
represent a futuristic encounter replete with flavors of present-day
Bland accomplishes this with an attention to drama and detail that
motivations for rebellion with new opportunities for collective action.
will appreciate the high-octane action and dilemmas Dray continually
interested in dystopian stories of the future which juxtapose issues of
engineering, social and political power plays, and intrigue with a
attention to psychological depth and detail will find The
Price of Rebellion stands surprisingly strongly on its own,
is highly recommended for readers who enjoy compelling futuristic
confrontation and change. It provides a supplemental story to the first
and concludes definitively, but portends new experiences to come in the
book of the trilogy.
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A Seat for the Rabble
fantasy that look for multi-volume works in line with George R.R.
Song of Ice and Fire (Game of
Thrones) series will find similar
attraction to the complexity,
depth, and characters in A Seat for the Rabble—but with a few notable differences.
falling; as are leaders who are buckling under the dual challenges of
relentless war and struggles that bring a community to its knees. Yes,
rulers, and commoners are struggling for control and a revised way of
trappings of epic politics and clashes lies a closer attention than is
most genre writers to the elements of class and privilege which play
lasting roles. Ryan Schuette considers the impact of choices that cross
political and social lines to resonate with changes that shake many a
foundation of purpose and perspective.
an atmosphere which pairs high-octane confrontations with deeper-level
thinking, juxtaposing characters whose roles would initially seem to
set directions, but who find themselves placed in extraordinary
test their moral and ethical mettle.
assume both big and small proportions, beginning with Sir Damien's task
dealing with one of his people's determination to commit murder:
knight sworn to serve a lord kill one of his peasants over a half-mad
creature doomed to die, anyway?"
and improper behavior and responses arise from this unlikely scenario
a sense of wry irony and humor into a serious situation:
"Devan sprinted after Damien, likely trying to
discourage him from
violence. If so, the squire was nobler in this moment than the knight
compel not just because they trace a battle within forces presumably on
same side of greater conflict, but because they represent an early
taste of the
style and nature of a series of dilemmas that force all types of
deal with moral and ethical dilemmas well outside of their comfort
blade be wielded over the (perhaps-misguided) love of a horse?
into a series of life- and role-changing possibilities as a son
disobeys his king
father to enter into battle. Jason Warchild, a son returned from two
battle abroad, enters into a competition that could place him on the
he survives) as disparate individuals make life-changing decisions that
into uncertainty the careening trajectory of the larger world and their
politics, and battles which blend into and support these realizations
confrontations meld with daily lives and influences to create an
forceful juxtaposition of war and peace.
traitors to trials that evolve to test not just life, but love,
lives up to its promise of 'epic' not just in its confrontations, but
myriad of characters that pursue their dreams against all odds.
Like Game of Thrones, this is no simple
scenario with easy (or, sometimes, even obvious) conclusions. It's also
opening half of a novel (despite being some 900 pages in length) that
continue later in An End to Kings.
typically suffer from a key flaw—the need for editing to bring the
a more accessible form. However, it would be a grave disservice to
apply such a
touch to A Seat for the Rabble;
for as it exists now, it's a multifaceted, wide-ranging story that
bringing a kingdom's politics and its varied classes of individual
Not a word should be cut; not an action
scene slashed for the sake of brevity or succinct reading.
This makes A Seat for the Rabble
top pick for readers who enjoy complex kingdoms and political
are powered by disparate individuals who are sometimes heroes,
villains, and sometimes make cameo appearances, only to be cut in the
stages of their development. Chivalry is also alive and well as men and
interact with and change one another by their very goals and ambitions.
Libraries and epic fantasy enthusiasts
seeking well-developed writing that explores a variety of special
reactions on different levels will find A Seat for the Rabble
not just for individual pursuit, but fantasy book club assignment and
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Shield and Scepter
Creative James Media
and Scepter is the second book in
the Heroes of Avoch
trilogy introduced with Scales & Stingers.
It continues the story of
Jinaari Althir, who has sworn to protect half-Fallen Thia Bransdottir
prejudices and fears of those who would have her and her race
Here, the Daughter of Keroys is healing from
her prior confrontations while Jinaari oversees her recovery and
Conflict continues to simmer over Cirrain,
which is in a strategic location that makes it a desirable acquisition
other side, while the legacy of Alesso's betrayal of Thia still brings
that the characters struggle with.
As Thia grows into the power she harbors (but
doesn't yet understand), Jinaari faces further tests of his vows, his
relationship to her and the world, and values that have cultivated his
and dictate his actions.
At the heart
controversy lies Adam, whom Jinaari considers "the brother of my
choosing" despite the deadly secret that he has kept from them all.
political currents that keep Jinaari on his toes are compelling
this story, which attends to contrasting action and revelation on
levels as events unfold:
"It was too
convenient. The one thing that would get me out of Almair
comes up right
when Thia’s agreed to do something that will keep her there. And then
shows up? Frustration burned in him. It was one thing to
"fight a foe
in front of him. He knew how to react to that kind of battle. One that
manipulation, deceit? There were reasons why he never liked being at
What is real
is illusion? This is just one of the challenges K.M.
Warfield issues in the thrown-down gauntlet of events that
comprise Shield and Scepter.
Readers familiar with the relationships and
complexity of the first story's struggle will welcome the expanded
and discoveries profiled in this sequel. While prior events are
recapped in the
course of the opening chapter, readers who have already absorbed the
in Scales & Stingers will be in the optimum
position to understand
the growth that takes place in a host of characters whose roles have
Libraries and fantasy readers looking for
exceptionally vivid sword and sorcery tales that simmer with
character development, and spiritual and social conundrums that shake a
foundations will find Shield and Scepter a
coming-of-age story that
holds the power to reach well beyond fantasy genre readers into
hearts and minds.
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The Scent of
Translated from Bangla by Clinton B. Seely
Ordering Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946582034/
The Scent of Sunlight profiles poems by Jibanananda Das who achieved literary fame at the end of his career and remains extremely popular in Bangladesh, the Indian state of West Bengal, and for that matter, wherever Bengalis are. For example, the translator Clinton B. Seely mentions in his preface a sonnet cycle performed from his writings to illustrate one Chicago Bengali-American community’s concept of what Bengali culture is all about.
His literary acclaim, which began in the 1950s when the poetry-reading Bengali community embraced his works, continues into modern times because his poems examine key facets of attitudes towards life and resurrection that, ironically, breathe new life into his words so that they will resonate in new generations around the world.
Few poets can lay claim to such a fete. Even fewer Indian writers can tap international audiences to lay hands upon the communities of expats within them, as well as those who live well outside Bengali borders. Jibanananda is an extraordinary writer, and the presentation of his works in English and its native Bengla by translator Clinton B. Seely allows an accessibility to his writings, which surely should be included in any definitive class on Indian poetry and artists.
'Sensation' is one example of a piece which begins with personal introspection, only to blossom into the greater world:
"Into the half light and shadow go I. Within my head/Not a dream, but some sensation works its will.../Who can go on, like the simple folk?/Who can stop within this light and darkness/Like the simple people? Who can speak/Like them today? Who can know/For certain anymore? Who seeks to understand/The carnal savors anymore? Who apprehends the joys/Of life anymore, like everyman?/And sows seeds anymore like everyman?/Where is that relish? And who, hungry for the harvest,/Has smeared himself with scents of earth,/Is anointed with the scents of water,/Has gazed toward light with rapt attention/And gained a peasant heart—/Who would anymore remain awake upon this earth?"
One reason why Jibanananda's works are so powerfully attractive to international audiences is because they move from personal to full-bodied spiritual and social examination on the wings of a butterfly, widespread in understanding and shared emotions that don't just reside in the poet's heart, but impact and reflect the greater world.
Whether he's exploring the jungles of Sundarban or the vultures of Asia's skies, Jibanananda's special brand of power lies in his ability to gather seemingly disparate images and cultural influences, weaving together seamless stories that are highly accessible by all readers no matter their ethnicity.
Works from his sonnet cycle 'Bengal the Beautiful' bring the sights, sounds, and feel of his native land to life in a manner that requires no prior familiarity with India, yet presents the opportunity for this connection through a cycle of observations that is creatively embedded in "you are here" imagery:
"Again I shall return to the Dhansiri’s banks, to this Bengal,/Not as a man, perhaps, but as a shalik bird, or a white hawk./As, perhaps, a crow of dawn in this land of autumn’s new rice harvest,/I’ll float upon the breast of fog one day in the shade of a jackfruit tree./Or I’ll be the pet duck of some teenaged girl—ankle bells upon her reddened feet..."
The result is a powerful, extraordinarily wide-reaching set of portraits and insights which should be made a mainstay of any library purporting to be authoritative in its representation of Indian literature.
would miss an important collection were they to pass on the opportunity
place The Scent
of Sunlight central in their discussions of
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Montreal Publishing Company
Like a fine
wine, Vignettes features a special
literary sketches that enhance and reflect on life and drinking. Josip
Novakovich cultivates a taste of connections that blend spiritual,
and psychological reflections in a manner that is appealingly creative:
"My wife is anemic, although she now and then
flares up and throws
things at me, and she doesn’t look anemic to me, but the doctor says
and prescribes red wine. If something’s wrong with your blood, you
wine. But just to relax and cool off, of course, you drink white."
around experiences with wine range from a consideration of airplane
accepting a new job based on the quality and availability of local brew.
the pairing of life that occurs with these pours, such as the war in
and the changing climate of the world, but somehow they all dovetail
attractively in stories where booze runs like a river through disparate
"Good wine, he said. Now, even local red wine is
good. They used
to make only good Riesling, but maybe the climate has changed, and the
these vignettes, connected as they are by relationships and drinking,
notable. Threads of grief and death, encounters between Croatians
travels and the lingering aftereffects of and tastes for former Baptist
teachings and influences, and the foundations of opportunities and
give rise to tales notable in their ability to draw readers into the
complexities and simmering emotions of daily life.
and philosophical reflections are compellingly revealing:
"Now that years have passed, and I think of where I
will age and
retire, it occurs to me that if I were to return to Daruvar, where many
friends already have died and others are gone without plans to return,
maybe I would become a Pintaric, walking around town with a stick,
nebulously to whoever would listen. With a glass of red wine in my
not. Who’s to know?"
literary blend of social, oenological, and personal reflection that
peasant experiences, considerations of sin and redemption, and the rich
life that touches palate and psyche with booze-based stories.
seeking examples of creative literary works that blend memoir with
for a genre-busting result will find Vignettes
is like a complex wine: difficult to categorize and entirely easy to
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and a Bunch of Crock and Other Animal Story Poems
Poems for Pleasure Press
$22.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
collections are typically geared to a particular audience of either
children, but the special attraction of The Wildebeest and a
Bunch of Crock
and Other Animal Story Poems lies in its unusual ability to
appeal to all
ages, across the board. This lends it an appeal most verse doesn't
it the potential to become a family affair for read-aloud fun.
cover illustration opens the attraction, featuring a circle of hungry
a somewhat puzzled and frightened wildebeest. The title is followed by
about this scenario which displays Glover's signature blend of
rhyme that works its magic on readers:
"On the high muddy
banks of the river Zambezi
Stood a brave wildebeest; he was feeling uneasy
Since he wanted to cross where the river was wide,
But he feared muddy waters where danger could hide.
In the water below lay a fierce crocodile.
Cunning, his teeth betrayed a sly smile.
The game that he played we could call hide-and-seek,
Which he learned as a youth in his home, Mozambique."
knows "crocs are liars" and that the deal they have struck may be
tainted (“Your time’s running out. Hurry up if you can./Just
do it, get
through it, don’t worry about a thing./Action’s what counts. Action
life zing.”). But he still is challenged to do the only thing
he can to
meet his goal.
unfolds with a delightful sense of zany fun and reflective thinking,
into other animal-centric tales where monkeys present one condition for
appreciation, skunk scents can be blessings, and bears ignore bees in
of their goals.
Underlying discussion points are featured in each poem, yet the gentle whimsy and animal facts and fancies are the major draw, holding dual opportunities for entertainment and enlightenment. Jeffry Glover's delightful creation, with its aura of whimsy, may be wrapped in the guise of entertainment, but it holds reflection and fun that appeals on more than one level.
choose this collection as a family read-aloud will discover many
for discussion about life values and approaches. These will translate
of fun and interactive pleasure, while libraries that choose The
and a Bunch of Crock and Other Animal Story Poems for its
solid verse and
appealing cover will find its underlying value lends to greater
nature and wildlife and the lessons it can hold for humans.
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Biography & Autobiography
Boy Who Loved
A Boy Who Loved Me follows a gay relationship that evolved between a
Ugandan man and an
English boy. It spans nearly two decades with passionate memoir of a
awakening that challenged status quo, identity, and not just the social
political impact of coming out as gay in a world replete with violence
memoir is far wider-ranging than most accounts because of these ethnic
and reflections, as well as its globe-hopping author's encounters with
different forms of perception and prejudice in other cultures.
at play is
the sickle cell anemia diagnosis Semitti refuses to let define him even
also rejects the notion that his African roots or cultural background
dictate sexual attraction and inclination.
aspects of his story elevate it above the usual tale of coming-of-age
coming out as gay, lending A Boy Who Loved Me a
deeper form of
inspection that will lead readers to reconsider their own underlying
and reactions in life.
with an evocative attention to detail and discovery:
"...in my lifetime
I have faced systematic racism
almost every day even from close friends who have no clue that their
might be perceived differently or might even have an effect on me. It
bothered me before especially if it’s someone I consider to be a
friend. I knew
it’s not their true intention to hurt me. I always ignored immediately
notion that they might be racist, it was always easier to see the
of things. I started thinking that maybe I am feeling the way I feel
the negativity from a few friends whom I told that I was off to China
and had a
lot to say from why I had decided to go to a place where I am bound to
mistreated because of my skin colour, etc."
also pulls no
punches in identifying sources of racism not just in the usual places,
within the black community itself:
"I had listened but
I didn’t allow that way of
thinking because I don’t see the world the way they saw it and I never
anything till I see it for myself. Plus, the more people say such
more I am even intrigued. Besides, my view and perspective on the
subject is somewhat so different from other people because all my best
are all Caucasians. Generally, I have very few black friends and if my
serves me right, the worst that has ever been done to me is by people
A Boy Who Loved Me may sound like another memoir of gay experience,
but to define it
solely as such would be to do the writing a grave injustice.
wider-ranging insights about prejudice and people deserves attention
just gay readers and those seeking to better understand their
by anyone interested in how cultures encounter one another, view each
through different mindsets and preconceptions, and adapt to
change, and opportunities.
set A Boy Who Loved Me above many others, making it
recommendation. It will prove an attraction not just for libraries
memoirs about gay growth and discovery, but for book clubs discussing
racism, shifting worldviews, and cross-cultural encounters in China,
England and beyond that come not from the usual Caucasian perspective,
someone whose roots are African.
Return to Index
Huntington Bay Press
Found: A Veteran Story chronicles the
lasting impact and legacy of
the Vietnam War in a memoir that charts Jack McLean's stint in the U.S.
Corps. The saga he began in Loon: A
Marine Story is expanded in Found,
which documents a wide-ranging series of experiences from McLean's
start, Found reviews life events
here, with his discharge from service in 1968 and his enrollment in
University to become its first incoming Vietnam veteran. McLean came home to a
changed America because
of the war. This is his story of that homecoming, which returned him to
which felt at once familiar and alien.
written about Vietnam experiences overseas. Fewer embrace the extent of
cultural and social changes Vietnam brought to America and the veterans
returned home to unfamiliar territory to confront them.
"you are here" series of insights about his homecoming and the
between his tour of duty in Vietnam and his revised milieu, both of
at his heart:
"It was early evening back in Vietnam. The boys
would be digging
fresh fighting holes, laying claymore mines, opening cans of C Rations,
setting up the evening watch schedule. I wondered how my former squad
were getting along without me. Had anyone been killed or wounded since
departure from the field a week earlier? I felt guilty that I was not
common occurrence: "While several
people had welcomed me home, no one had thanked me for my service.
in the fall of 1968, did not regard service in the increasingly
Vietnam War as being worthy of thanks." He continues then
upon the surreal atmosphere brought about by his return:
"I felt like Rip Van Winkle, the fictional
character who, in the late eighteenth century, fell asleep in the
Mountains and awoke twenty years later to discover that he had missed
entire American Revolution. While I had only been gone for a year, it
that another American Revolution had occurred in my absence."
revised America and unexpected attitudes towards not only the war but
fought it, McLean discovers that his place in this country has also
personal trails, new responsibilities and relationships, and
romantic pursuits, McLean reflects on how his tour of duty changed his
for connecting with others:
"While the responsibility for her death weighed
heavily on my
shoulders, I had lost my ability to grieve during the afternoon of June
1968, when Tom Morrissey and seven other boys were killed within
a blistering rocket attack."
his revised abilities in the world are moving and engrossing
reflections on how
military service and conflict can permanently imprint upon veterans,
their basic reactions to life and death:
"The news was devastating. I went into the
bedroom, sat down,
hung my head, and thought that I would cry, but I couldn’t. No matter
I tried, even this terrible news could not evoke a single tear. Had I
enlightenment in Found—and so do
readers interested in stories of the Vietnam era and a changing world.
trace of the imprints and impressions of the times and reflections on
Marine Corps service and its lasting connections will particularly
readers interested in the widespread process of service validation:
"Vietnam veterans of all stripes were emerging from
within which we had buried our experiences. We were finally able to
catharsis that came with the understanding, acceptance, and
first among ourselves and then, over time, by the country. It was a
widespread validation. For the first time, we were allowed to be proud
service and unafraid to show it."
powerful story of individual and national transformation that should be
part of any library strong in memoirs of the Vietnam War and its
Book clubs interested in debating the lasting psychological effects of
times will find many discussion topics embedded in Found:
A Veteran Story. These will lend to attraction by any group
pursuing social, political, and psychological revelations.
Return to Index
Tumbleweed Press Inc.
Schlepping Across the Nile: Collected Stories
gathers vignettes and
memoirs from Aaron Zevy's first three books, compiling them into an
story that follows the odyssey of the first-born son of an Ashkenazi
Sephardic mother. Zevy opens his tale with the trademark humor that
prior publications major attractions:
"This story begins with a phone call from my cousin
also begins with something I almost never do when getting a phone call
cousin Morris. I answer it. Right away, I am reminded of the benefit of
deem themselves successful in relationships, Morris holds the answer to
every dilemma Zevy faces in his life:
“Your problem is you go out with Ashkenazi women
instead of finding
yourself a nice Egyptian Jewish woman. Somebody with similar history,
culture. Someone you have something in common with.”
adhering more strictly to screening one's phone calls? Take up the
with a journey that explores Egyptian Jewish ancestry and legacy.
Schlepping Across the Nile is a memoir,
travelogue, and ethnic
inspection steeped in elements of misadventure and high drama. It
range of Jewish traditions and experiences, from a blind date during
the special ironies of his family's experiences:
"My favorite part of the seder is L’dor Va Dor. In
generation we are to regard ourselves as if we ourselves had gone out
I love that. Because this is when my mom would say 'I did go out of
humor and ironic inspections mentioned previously keeps these stories
a juicy Arabic insult during a poker game by Egyptians or listening to
date war stories, Zevy embeds his writing with personal experience,
observational prowess, and just plain fun. These elements are
black and white photos throughout for added visual impact.
audience for this literary and social observation will be Jewish
Zevy's ability to reach beyond a set ethnic group to engage, educate,
audiences of all origins makes Schlepping
Across the Nile of widespread attraction to anyone who
seeking a series of
rollicking fun, interesting short works.
making observations about generational differences in the process of
love and dates or steeped in Jewish traditions and heritage, his works
inspections that are cemented by his dry insights throughout:
"...‘blind’ is such a misnomer that it is
generation has seen more pictures of their prospective dates than I
have of my
entire family collectively. When we went in blind, we really went in
Armed with no more, especially if the set up was from a female friend,
weathered adjectives about bubbly personalities and shared interests,
ambitious promises about looks."
looking for particularly compelling short vignettes about love, life,
culture will find Schlepping Across the
Nile a major attraction. It's not just for audiences of
Jewish readers, but
highly recommended for book clubs and discussion groups looking for an
read that holds deceptively thought-provoking impact.
Return to Index
Mike Kowis, Esq.
Lecture PRO Publishing
978-1-7328630-7-1 $19.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Racing 2: The Battle for ATV and
Side-by-Side Championships is the
sports memoir of an amateur racer whose humor is embedded even in the
comments quotes. These range from enthusiasm about a second book
the subject to outright dismay (“Growing up,
Mike had a promising writing career. So much for that!” –
Mike’s 8th grade
be members of the Texas XC racing community to enjoy this book
helps!). There are enough description and enthusiasm to allow newcomers
sport to live vicariously through Mike Kowis's insights, history, and
encounters on the racing circuit:
"The sweet smell of
race gas filled the air on
the morning of April 23, 2022. That’s the day TX4 kicked off its
season of XC racing in the Lone Star State. The internet buzz leading
this event paid off in spades as the
ATV community showed up in full force that Saturday with 55 entries, including mini quads. The impressive turnout should not have been a surprise given that XC racing for quads had been extinct in Texas for the prior six years."
of side-by-side racing is captured in moment-by-moment "you are here"
descriptions that feature the vivid experiences of competition and the
and processes which dictate its progression.
interest are the author's descriptions contrasting different racing
over the years:
"...it occurred to
me how different it is to race
both an ATV and SxS with TX4 as compared to the simpler routine of just
a SxS with the previous series."
have familiarity with different types of racing in order to appreciate
exuberance and experiences described in Texas Off-Road Racing
required is a basic interest in sports competition and moment-by-moment
experiences that put the reader alongside the author in the driver's
Color photos punctuate and capture these vivid racing moments and the
of all involved who make such events happen.
seeking books that capture this experience, outlining the allure and
shifting racing opportunities over the years, will find these stories
competing, and winning to be thoroughly absorbing.
Return to Index
Glass Spider Publishing
9781957917344 $17.99 Paper/$8.99 ebook
Up in Postwar Munich is a memoir
widely recommended for young
adults, family members, and educators. It weaves a story of late war
postwar experiences with those of an immigrant who navigates learning
conflicts with new cultures and encounters with prejudice, and growing
the shadow of World War II in postwar Germany.
orphaned at birth and early on learned survival traits as a foster
with a former SS officer's family. When her foster mother passed, she
to a children's home run by Catholic Sisters which added new dimensions
experience and perceptions.
have been tempting to focus solely on personal events for this memoir,
its values lies in Haggblade's ability to represent family and social
from the perspective of a young woman who was able to transform her
connections between music and belief to geographic influences on Munich
experience and social isolation, Haggblade tackles a range of
lend to deeper understanding of the social, political, and
currents of her life and times.
coming of age and memories of different cultures and choices, Trauterose
offers a diverse range of insights as the author navigates events that
through a challenging time in Germany's history. She explores how one
woman grew beyond her childhood influences and country's borders.
seeking powerful, personal memoirs that hold political and social
insights will find Trauterose a study in
adaptation, survival, and
growth. It also deserves attention from young adult and adult book
seeking memoirs that reflect not just individual experience, but a
sense of the
culture and times.
Return to Index
$25.99 Hardcover/$15.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
The Wrong Calamity:
A Memoir opens with Marsha
Jacobson's birth "in
the whoosh of baby boomers" in Indiana and then reveals her life with
abusive husband. It deftly answers the question of why intelligent
into such a situation, much less stay in it—and perhaps seldom in the
is the answer so clear. Jacobson saw no other opportunities, and no way
in the fact that, more than many other women in her position, Jacobson
into a form of business success that theoretically gave her numerous
and alternative options. As she became more successful, however, her
became more abusive.
returned to familiar territory, leaving her sojourn in Japan for
she able to flee, two toddlers in tow, into a better life.
vividly portrayed than most stories of abuse and freedom are the
revelations Jacobson experienced as her relationship with Peter
his quick temper and jealousy to how she changed from a woman who gave
husband complete charge of their honeymoon plans to one who came to
her very presence in his life, the progressive realizations are nicely
presented and compellingly written.
ability to delineate the transformations, realizations, and influences
her to revise her life and future will prove inspirational to other
the same situation. She documents an evolutionary growth that deserves
discussion in psychology and book reading groups for its specific
her progressive determination and contributions to the relationship is
hard-hitting and eye-opening:
"I wasn’t the same
person who’d given him carte
blanche over our honeymoon. Not that he didn’t plan good trips, but I
hard, and free time was a luxury. I wanted a say in how to spend it.
'Then this is the last vacation we’ll take,' he said, and it was."
re-entry into dating and the snafus that led to new realizations about
she chose and her moral and ethical foundations to business and
choices, Jacobson creates a powerful story of calamity, discovery, and
will serve as an inspiration (and road map) to other women facing
readers seeking stories of not just escape from abuse, but
the financial, psychology, and social influences on their evolution,
will find The
Wrong Calamity enlightening, revealing, and hard to put down.
Return to Index
979-8850121686 $35.00 Paper/$14.99 Kindle
All Roads Lead to Murder charts NYPD
homicide procedurals, stems
from Stewart Bird's working day (spent with NYPD Detective Sergeant
Vernon J. Geberth, who was investigating a homicide in the Bronx), and
three murder stories based on his real-world experiences.
novellas here (Murder at the Yeshiva, One
Murder at a Time, and Go West Old
all feature explorations by NYPD homicide detective Mo Shuman, who is
cusp of retiring, but never more involved in his profession. Rather
backing away from cases, Mo not only embraces them, but finds these
reaching into his personal life as his last involvements involve
murderers whose actions heavily impact his own future.
nature of these tales makes them perfect for presentation under one
linking Mo's shifting objectives in a manner that is uniformly
logically presented, and compelling in their ability to move between
mystery and personal impact.
opens with Murder at the Yeshiva, in
which Mo and
his partner Detective Dynaburski are charged with hunting down a
ability to affect Mo's future is dangerously powerful.
on the Lower East Side and still lives there. His familiarity with the
his Jewish background, and the nature of both murderer and victim leads
dark examinations and connections a Shuman traces the pathways of past
present to find answers to seemingly disparate clues that just seem to
ability to craft a winning story steeped in a powerful sense of time
where the savvy detective must tap these roots in order to both find
and resolve a murderer's real intentions, creates an especially
of circumstances as rabbis and rules coalesce to produce insights Mo
to weave together.
One Murder at a Time sees Mo not
retiring, but reuniting with
former partner Mike Gallagher on a twenty-year-old cold case that turns
once again, with new evidence and ideas fueling its continuing
As the duo
probe igniting simmering passions of the past, their families and lives
threatened by forces that still hold a vested interest in keeping the
against all odds.
only odds for resolution rest on two dogged investigators whose noses
trouble uncover situations that lead them away from the Cold Case Squad
NYPD to situations far outside their familiarity or comfort zones.
arenas that challenge both detectives on personal and professional
events provoke questions about connections between love, money, and the
detectives who draw ever closer to a dangerous truth.
tone of investigative quandaries and interpersonal relationships in
which further expand Mo's life and habits while adding the overlay of a
which reaches from New York to the New Jersey suburbs, Alexandria,
expansion of Mo's
identity and processes from Murder at the
Yeshiva to this very different challenge enhances an approach
personalizes the processes of investigators, perps, and the motivations
experiences that lead them down a deadly path of confrontation and
Go West Old Man brings the personal
aspects of investigative
prowess home as Mo once again finds any hopes of retirement
by a gang war that destroys any ideals of peace.
In trying to
this life-altering experience, Mo instead finds himself embroiled in a
different style of gang war far from his native New York and
Sandoval in southwest Texas on the Mexican border, Mo finds he must
most savvy procedural processes in order to resolve not just this gang
fits and starts, but the impact a similar situation has made upon his
crafts a story of investigative strength that derives its main
juxtaposing personal and professional challenges.
to have events
evolve in a murder mystery from a series of progressive cases that also
growth. Receiving these three novellas under one cover gives readers
opportunity to better know Mo, the NYPD, and the cases that lead not to
resolution, but life-changing lessons.
and fans of
detective procedurals who look for stories steeped in a gritty sense of
an attractive lure of psychological growth, and questions about making
alive from this kind of work will find All
Roads Lead to Murder outstandingly realistic and compelling.
pairs thought-provoking drama with crime stories that feature, as their
attraction, a series of plots that lead to a greater result: a
involving story of a detective's ongoing evolution.
Return to Index
Manwaring's thrillers will find Backlash:
Venom and Vengeance from 'Nam a welcome addition to and
expansion of the
JadeAnne Stone adventures set in Mexico. The story centers on
Quint, who remains in Mexico to investigate why his former superior
Vietnam is trying to kill him.
By the time
realizes that not just he, but his daughter JadeAnne, who has gone to
with her new love Dylan, is in Nadar's crosshairs, the man could be
well on his
way to apprehending his daughter.
And so the
moves from Colorado to Mexico in a nation-hopping chase that features
explosive plot and many satisfying twists and turns as Quint struggles
survive political subterfuge and zealots that have Mexico's best
interest forces that coalesce and struggle receive winning, engrossing
via dialogues that capture not just action, but underlying intentions:
“Alejo is a methodical worker, but a bit of a
zealot. He’s smart, yet
his drive to defend Mexico—the entire world—from the cartels clouds his
judgement, in my opinion. He believes he’s doing great good. While a
for the rules, he makes poor choices. From the little I know, this op
is one of
portrayed as the story evolves:
"He met the fight at the pantry door. Trampoza’s
man had one hand
grasping at Horacio’s throat with a large can of tomato juice in the
Quint batted away his hand quashing the thugs’ attempt to bean Horacio
can. Quint grinned as Horacio balled his fist, sending an uppercut into
man’s chin. The thug flew backwards into his arms."
story steeped in Mexican culture and mayhem, with the lingering effects
Vietnam relationships injected into the present-day picture of
vengeance, the result is a vivid portrait of traitors and a dangerous
wrath and cleverness threaten everyone Quint has believed in and loved.
Manwaring does an
outstanding job of crafting a story that stands alone on both its
and thriller components. Prior readers will appreciate the plot while
won't need an introduction to past relationships to appreciate the
and actions that represent international relationships and survival
built, premises are logical and embedded into the story's action-packed
scenarios, and readers receive a high-octane work well steeped in
seeking thrillers that center around themes that challenge individual
national interests will find Backlash:
Venom and Vengeance from 'Nam seamless in its action and
hard to put down.
Return to Index
978-1-961624-15-3 $17.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Fans of The Pangaea
(a thriller which excelled in nonstop action and fast-paced twists and
that pitted protagonist and wealth advisor David Blum against a bizarre
conspiracy) will find David's return here reflects a renewed battle
Global Futures Alliance which continues to plot to reshape
its special vision of technology and profit.
Switzerland in 2019, where artificial intelligence's promise has
resulted in a
computer that can not only emulate emotions, but manipulate them in
beings. When such a technological venture melds with social media, it
just as effective a battle influencer as wars fought on the ground via
preventing this next impossible war scenario, David Blum and his team
a world-hopping venture to confront and disable forces that would
reshape world order and the nature of reality itself.
why The Billion Dollar Sugar Cube
especially engrossing is that the crux of its possibilities lies in the
and experience of modern social media which, today, is assuming a
in directing not just the politics but the state of mind of its
too easy to imagine the scenario which plays out in David Blum's
too easy to realize that the forces at work, driven by technological
advancement and manipulation, could become those underlying human
revelations with fast-paced action. This will please thriller readers
for stories replete with satisfying twists and turns that are
Mindy Tanaka's love for Angel Atash is threatened by events that drive
apart and David delves into questions surrounding sound and facial
patterns, the story's dual complexity of technological and social
introduces a thoroughly engrossing adventure that evolves a whirlwind
challenges and choices.
seeking thrillers that both support prior writings yet stand alone,
emotionally vivid layers of discovery, will find The
Billion Dollar Sugar Cube a winning, world-hopping story
the struggle for a power that will change everything.
Return to Index
Bird on a Head
979-8986807447 $4.99 Kindle/Paperback: $12.99
don't present a sense of humor embedded into their action, but Montana
special brand of wry inspection, demonstrated so adeptly in the first
Martini book High Crimes, appears
from the opening lines in Boom Days:
"After the first explosion, most everyone in town
spent the next
few days announcing to anyone within earshot exactly where they were at
time it happened. Me, I was jonesing for my usual triple shot of
the line outside High Country Bean on that fine summer morning wrapped
around the corner of Main and 3rd and there was no way I was going to
there on the sidewalk like an idiot and patiently wait my turn with all
others. And it was precisely as I was cruising past the tourists on my
inside to pour myself a drip at the DIY counter at the back of the
that Boomville went Boom."
the explosion is instinctive—she hits the ground. Then she hits the
a search for explanations and answers, tapping her former experience as
city cop to answer the questions that arise from the Boomville
absorb the humor in the story's opening lines will also appreciate
Kane's creative descriptions, which supercharge Brandy's pursuits with
blend of astute insights and descriptions of place and people:
"Down came the window and out leaned the face that
in my dreams on nights when my loneliness clings to me like a sweat
sheet in a Bruce Springsteen song. Other times, the face and the smirk
bears are simply irksome. But today the face portrayed exasperation
on outright anger, an expression also frequently reserved for me."
descriptions permeate the story, giving it a lively sense of discovery
surprise ("It looked like a
convenience store stuffed inside a sporting goods store stuffed inside
to dovetail an intense investigation with equally powerful examinations
disparate possibilities, from a "bomb-making vegan terrorist" to
facing fellow investigators' feelings of frustration and anger. No
Brandy's path, she weaves through personal and professional challenges
equally wry inspections and humor that keep the story on track and
unexpected, filled with twists and turns even seasoned thriller readers
Brandy is a
formidable character whose alter ego as Katie buries a truth she
to confront. But her readers do. These insights drive a discovery
process that dashes
hopes and raises new questions as Brandy pursues impossible answers and
just an explosion in crime-solving processes, but one of self-discovery
Brandy puts her life on the line, only to find unexpected support under
not be familiar
with Brandy Martini or her prior adventures in order to immediately
themselves in Boom Days.
action, exceptionally strong characterization, and satisfying mysteries
faces in all kinds of ways make for a highly recommended pick for
interested in multifaceted thrillers that go the extra mile to add
attraction to all their characters.
Return to Index
The Fourth Prisoner is the second Barclay
Griffith thriller in the
series. It opens on Alcatraz Island in 1962, where a daring escape is
staged from the most infamously secure prison in the world.
The fates of
prisoners is known, but the focus here is on a mysterious fourth
story reaches from the treacherous waters of the San Francisco Bay to
and the terrible massacre that changed a small town forever.
Barclay Griffith navigates career-ending choices, small town history,
family trees, and a cold case that unfolds to reveal a labyrinth of
and deadly consequences, readers receive a tense blend of detective
investigation and thriller. The story cements its problem-solving
conclusions in the kind of unpredictable, fast-paced action that marks
thriller genre's finest productions.
genealogy DNA to a search that leads to political bombs of dangerous
realizations and history, Barclay discovers that the truth about murder
poised to release a concurrent tidal wave of controversy.
past and present events in a crime thriller that excels in both its
descriptions of police procedures and in the dilemmas faced by a host
characters from different walks of life, from detectives and attorneys
these relationships and their simmering history to life makes for a
replete with twists and turns of discovery that many readers won't see
resulting in edge-of-your-seat reading and revelations.
seeking thoroughly engrossing stories that pepper their murder puzzles
influences and objectives of different characters at odds with not only
other, but themselves, will find The
Fourth Prisoner both expands the character of the prior
book but stands nicely alone for newcomers.
Return to Index
$13.81 Paper/$5.66 ebook
Think of a
Sherlock Holmes and The DaVinci Code
when considering the attraction of The
Jericho Manuscript, which offers more than a taste of each as
Holmes and Dr. Watson pursue a murderer that tests even the great
investigators' combined prowess.
found dead in the midst of translating the now-missing Jericho
chase for the murderer and the missing manuscript sends Holmes and
Paris and beyond, as the investigative duo tackle
their greatest case that leads to a truth far
beyond even their wildest expectations.
tale that moves the classic detective from the arena of investigator to
thriller status as the tense, world-hopping tale moves from a crime to
investigation of Biblical prophecy and facts.
Manuscript's threat and ability to change the world becomes just as
pursuit as that of a murderous entity that will stop at nothing to
truth. These issues inject religious and social dilemmas into a story
traverses many different worlds as Holmes and Watson find their usual
problem-solving approach lands them into the heart of political and
special brand of history and mystery is certain to rock many a
sentiment. Sherlock's probe sends seismic tremors of realization into
previously concrete mindsets and perceptions.
impact of The Jericho Manuscript
in its ability to craft unusual religious and historical questions that
lead to vigorous debate just as Dan Brown’s The
Da Vinci Code succeeded in doing. Many may expect a whodunit
to evolve, but
won't anticipate the delightful interplays of religious and historical
inspection that drive the case, adding depth and intrigue to Holmes and
Watson's struggle to discover the truth.
prior Sherlock Holmes adventures will delight and intrigue fans who
followed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic writings:
“'Tell me what do you make of the story of his
Holmes thought for a while, 'What did I tell you when we confronted the legendry beast of the Baskervilles?'
I remembered what Holmes had said, 'If we are dealing with forces outside the ordinary laws of nature, there is an end to our investigation.'
'Lazarus’ resurrection certainly appears to be outside the laws of nature,' said Holmes."
and historical revelations, The Jericho
Manuscript is highly recommended reading for those book clubs
individuals that would take a closer look at belief systems through the
close inspective lens of a classic Sherlock Holmes crime approach. When
with a powerful interplay between crime investigation, redemption, and
that clash to create a new reality, the allure is powerful.
reality and fiction is questioned in a crime thriller that holds many
satisfying twists and turns. The plot dense enough to attract
eschew simplicity in their reading choices, preferring the rich
complexity of a
well-done story steeped in many possible reinterpretations of accepted
Return to Index
The Medusa Murders
Joy Ann Ribar
Wine Glass Press
9781959078203 $17.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
book in the
Bay Browning mystery series, The Medusa Murders, introduces Bay Browning ("L.L." to her friends
colleagues at the university), whose expertise as the head of the
department and authority on mythology is tapped to help solve a
The last thing Bay considered from her
opportunities was that she could become a detective or participant in
crime. However, she can be relentless. This personality trait serves
as she pursues myths and truths in a captivating pairing of
possibilities that leads
her from a set course in her career down a dangerous path of discovery.
The process involves developing
relationships with all kinds of people, which are outlined in a story
with satisfying characters that contribute to Bay's own development
dialogues that feel both realistic and involving:
a swig of beer. 'I didn’t figure you for a beer person. I sort of
something lofty—wine at the very least.'
Bay shifted awkwardly in her chair; she didn’t appreciate being pegged. 'Shouldn’t we discuss the case, Detective?'
Downing relaxed a notch. 'Nope. We should discuss the menu. Almost everything on it includes pork, so I hope you’re not a vegan.'”
As pursuit of the Medusa Murderer brings Bay
into contact with a diverse cast of characters, readers will realize
complexity and allure of these situations represent psychological
blocks of realization and action that move Bay and others far from
comfort zones of predictability.
cultivates an atmosphere of growth as Bay exhibits defiance,
admits her failings as an investigator while maintaining her
contribute her expertise to a case that relies on her strengths for
lead to an
inevitable face-off and a confrontation with not only Medusa, but the
menace of Bay's own special brand of savvy, readers will relish the
of a story that sizzles with thriller elements, draws with mystery
myth, and eventually takes a course that many won't see coming.
looking for more complexity and challenge than the cozy mystery genre
will appreciate the tension and compulsion of a story that grows
individuals, and careers during a careening course towards disaster and
Medusa Murders should be in any
library collection strong
in murder mysteries that reside a cut above the ordinary.
Return to Index
Level Best Books
978-1-68512-448-9 $16.95 Paper/$5.99 Ebook
Murder in Fourth
Position expands the On Pointe
ballet-based mystery world with another
compelling situation that attracts ballerina Leah Siderova (who is "on
wrong side of thirty") to both opportunity and disaster.
ballet to Broadway in an effort to continue performing results in a
demands she play a dual role, but also fueling her decisions is her
investigation of Amber Castle, the show's star, who is facing threats
physical aches and demands of rehearsals to a special assignment where
plays a very different part ("My role as her alter ego
required me to
reflect in movement what she expressed in words, and from the
perspective, it would indeed look as if we were two sides of one person."),
Murder in Fourth Position will delight readers with
a prior interest in
ballet and Broadway productions. This audience will find the evolving
as engrossing as Leah's career challenges.
rehearsals and elderly friends who try to help to amateur dancers
surprisingly well-versed in tackling crime, Lori Robbins crafts another
powerful performing arts exploration. It dovetails mystery and
with behind-the-scenes action, all tempered by the drama of evolving
interpersonal relationships and motives.
attention to performance requirements invites dancers, actors, and
alike to follow Leah's insights and aspirations:
"A series of short,
inventive dances, all very
different from each other, succeeded each other at a rapid pace. Many
performers had body types that didn’t conform to the usual balletic
which delighted me. Bryan was noncommittal regarding the choreography,
was both fascinated and inspired. I’d always been the instrument of
else’s artistic vision. Would I ever have the courage to take the lead
Murder in Fourth
Position is thoroughly
engrossing, giving insights into script development and
work-arounds that challenge all participants in different ways.
readers interested in mysteries that expand beyond whodunit territory
embrace the special world of performing arts—especially those who have
attracted to and entertained by the prior books in the series—will find
latest challenges make for thoroughly engrossing reading.
Return to Index
Harry Przewalski returns in another investigation that challenges his
in Native Blood, which mingles
American issues and struggles with the death of an academic researcher.
Athabaskan native, archaeology student, and chancellor's son is
the crime, Harry suspects that far more is going on (and at stake). His
will prove him right in unexpected ways as the puzzle unfolds.
evolving murder mystery is a probe into Native American culture,
the conflicts that evolve from prejudice and the perception of all
elements and more.
full as he reveals these politics and influences and, especially, the
and controversial conflicts between race and racial theory that
science, academic, and outside communities in a struggle to discern
aspects of Native history and studies add an extra layer of value to
as Harry evolves a long list of suspects and begins to absorb facts and
he never knew about before this latest case:
"Motives for murder are like weeds, Harry thought.
adjacent to the dead...
'She’s ... she’s a difficult individual. Bitter.'
'Oh yeah? Bitter enough for murder?'”
more important are the cultural and political revelations that emerge
underbelly of university processes and politics are revealed, exposing
details about protests, historical precedent, and scientific pursuits.
One facet of
Native Blood that keeps it so
engrossing is the surprises that keep emerging from Harry's case.
receive a healthy degree of thought-provoking inquiry into racial
cultural and historical precedent and expectations, and the rationales
scientific method and prejudice that (in this case) justify murder as a
resolution tactic (albeit a poor one, if one attracts the tenacious
of an investigator like Harry, who is operates like a dog on a bone).
astute, revealing, and commanding. Leonard Krishtalka builds insights
into historical and political influences, but Harry's evolving
responses to dilemmas well outside his comfort zone.
headings (such as 'White Guy History,' 'Dose of Derangement' and 'I
Confess') add tension and reflection to the story, while a sense of
relief emerges at unexpected moments to lighten the load of Harry's
“Przewalski, I know you. You see a donkey, you want
to load it up. With
a bunch of crimeys. Now you’re telling me to add Strickland to Page,
Montanares, Kovitch, and Nalren.” Like I said said last time you were
this ain’t a goddamn Agatha Christie novel, y’know, Murder
on the Orient Express. He raised his hands, his face
incredulous. “What? All five are down there, grab the ceramic ape,
then sing a quick chorus of Kumbaya?”
spirited, thought-provoking brush with death and racial issues that
attract both prior fans and newcomers. Native
Blood is dedicated to using classic hard-boiled detective
devices in modern
social and racial inspections replete with scientific and history
that (apparently) are worth killing for.
seeking engrossing stories packed with atmosphere and intrigue will
to appreciate as Native Blood
its extraordinary circumstances and revelations.
Return to Index
Investigations, Inc.: The Cases Nobody Wanted
ASIN: B0CJ228TXX $4.99
Brooklyn, New York in the summer of 1942. Twenty-eight-year-old Maeve
O'Shaughnessy, owner of O'Shaughnessy Investigations, has exactly $1.15
name. This is supposed to last her for a week—until tough guy Vic
her into her office and makes a proposal she can't resist.
is there to
help her. But Maeve maintains that she doesn't need help—especially
he's a man on a mission, and his determination drives them both into
investigations nobody else wanted (and, perhaps, neither do they).
injects the hardboiled detective tone of the 1940s world into his
creating dialogues that are gritty, spicy, and realistic:
“'Who the hell do
you think you are coming in here and
telling me what you like and what you don’t like?'
'I’m the guy who’s gonna help you make some dough. You do need dough, don’t you? The last time you had a client was two months ago.'
She crossed her arms, 'The War …'
'The War, yeah, yeah. Your brother gets drafted. The other two sign up to go with him leaving you and another brother, fifteen-year-old string bean Jimmy, who’s supposed to act as your muscle, to take care of this thriving enterprise. Except you have no experience in this line of work. Let’s just say, ‘Your heart’s not in it.’ As a result, you’re gonna be outta business sooner than you can say ‘smart mouth.’”
a sense of
the times, its politics, and the burdens of the war come to bear on a
cases and interactions, Vic, Maeve, and other characters form
bring them into not just intrigue, but a living sense of the history of
Depression of the 1930s everyone
suffered, even the rich. It was hard times for all and people helped
if they could. Americans coming through that together meant something.
were being asked to struggle again. But because so many servicemen were
at Pearl Harbor, Americans had a cause that they all shared – fight the
Fascists and keep the threat and the war from coming home. Yet, now the
reality, the depths of the sacrifices, and the grief of their losses
initially was against the idea of America entering the war, Maeve finds
life and beliefs challenged not only by her brothers' involvement in
but the circumstances which play out at home to place her in the
position of maintaining a business she feels she can't properly tackle.
an era where
women are "dames," Maeve stands out as a bad cook and good
investigator, evolving a skill set that carries them into new
while creating a home for younger brother Jimmy and a new, unexpected
result is a
compelling story steeped in World War II history, social and political
and the evolution of unexpected relationships and careers which all
the umbrella of growth and commitment. This is book one of three. As
II progresses, will Maeve and Vic have similarly compelling experiences
looking for mysteries firmly grounded in a sense of times, place, and
transition will welcome the vivid discoveries Maeve and Vic face on
one level, and will find O’Shaughnessy Investigations, Inc.:
Nobody Wanted a major attraction.
Return to Index
Rukia Publishing US
979-8-9891084-3-5 $16.99 Paper/$6.99 ebook
yet again with another Jeff Trask crime novel—but the drama here
place in the courtrooms or streets of America but overseas, where
operations specialist Buck realizes that he's being tailed through the
of Athens in a vastly changed post-COVID world.
his job at
the CIA, working in the Special Activities Division identifying the
patterns that cause problems.
meeting with old friend (and agent of a foreign intelligence service)
Gilfoy at the Acropolis introduces him to the dilemma of missing
the Russians lost track of, others that were sold to the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic of Iran, and an emerging terrorist plot that involves
goals for Ukraine and nations beyond their western borders.
source of intel in Iran (codenamed Oracle) is in a pivotal position to
reveal information or further the danger over what the Iranians plan to
their expensive secret acquisition ... which is: to change the world.
Athens may be a target of interest, placing him literally in the
destruction if the threat can't be located and nullified.
twist, the Oracle can't safely give out further intel, effectively
countermeasures in a blind spot that gives Buck only warnings, but next
nothing concrete. There's nothing an intelligence officer hates more
dead end—particularly when it's his life that is heading for the brick
along with millions of innocent citizens.
Ethan Trask, Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District
Missouri, have to do with a situation that immerses Israel and Greece
deadly game? As usual, he's busy in a courtroom in America laying a
kingpin to rest in prison while on the cusp of going on a much-needed
Greece, of course.
evolves which places Jeff, Buck, and others in a dangerous place as a
in hell evolves, testing the perspectives, determination and survival
needed this get-away, too: “I was just
beginning to like this world again. No emergencies for you to tackle.”
heat up and
Lieutenant Hamid Rashidi of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and
characters perform reconnaissance and stake out territory and
tension ramps up as events move between Greece and Israel, with Buck
trying to save five million people from a nuclear holocaust. To further
complicate matters, Lynn must not only be kept in the dark, but away
another powerful Jeff Trask novel, proving his prowess at moving the
action away from American soil and onto the desks and grounds of
whose political and anti-terrorist objectives intersect in surprising
superbly developed, the motivations and secrets of opposing forces play
nicely to the point of revelations readers sometimes will see coming
will not, and the characters and their motivations come to life against
backdrop of discovery and interpersonal connections.
who have thoroughly enjoyed the numerous other Jeff Trask thrillers
Marc Rainer will find the action and international flavors of Oracle further expands the series while
standing entirely alone as well-constructed, engrossing work
notably powerful for its tense twists and turns.
Return to Index
Out of the
Amir Tsarfati and Steve Yohn
Ten Peaks Press/Harvest House Publishers
$14.95 Audio/$15.99 Paper/$11.99 ebook
a glossary of Hebrew, Arabic and Russian terminology (as well as a
characters from different nations) lends a sense of anticipatory
complexity to Out of the Far North that
readers may not be used to, but that's not to say this story comes
with demanding detail.
lines, Amir Tsarfati and Steve Yohn present powerful international
reflections, and experiences that grab attention to keep readers
immersed in the specter of international confrontations and intrigue.
their Nir Tavor Massad series will benefit from prior familiarity from
appreciate the authors' special blend of contemporary political
action, but it also stands nicely alone for newcomers. Thriller
find the revelation of the Kremlin's plans for a major attack against
be intriguing and engrossing. Hostilities that explode threaten to
Tavor and Nicole le Roux, testing the latter's newly gained Christian
the two struggle to prevent global disaster.
Steve Yohn specialize in a style of action and psychological immersion
juxtaposes romance, drama, and tense confrontations at personal,
played by opportunists come to light as forces from Russia, Israel, and
West intersect to face not only present-day danger, but ghosts from the
patriotism and profit to business and personal interests tested by
bigger-picture altercations between nations as well as individuals,
and Yohn supplement and support the work begun in Operation
Joktan and By Way
of Deception with a notable atmosphere of authenticity.
Perhaps this reflects Amir Tsarfati's spiritual foundations and his position as a former major in the Israeli Defense Forces, which combines well with co-author Steve Yohn's experience as a pastor in the group Tsarfati formed, Behold Israel, which provides Bible-based teachings about Israel from a prophetic viewpoint.
The power of
story lies not just in its political maneuvers and action-packed
in the revelations and growth individual characters experience as
"Nir knew he was being overly dramatic in his
bravado, but he was
so tired that he defaulted to tough-guy mode...Because of the state
bodies were in, it was their minds that would give them this needed
events but steeped in the best trappings of fictional drama and the
spiritual revelations and experiences, Out
of the Far North is a multifaceted thriller about beliefs and
will attract libraries and readers seeking vivid stories featuring
characterization and sizzling scenarios of transformation and adversity.
Return to Index
R. Chapman Wesley
High Top Publishing
ASIN: B0CDMDC6NM $9.99 ebook
thriller, add a heavy dose of medical mystery intrigue, then polish it
the world-hopping potential for a cure that will change mankind for a
the special style of high-octane, nonstop action that is The
The theft of
possible promise combines with a murderous competition in which
Anatoly Popov, an esteemed virologist and Russian-born defector, steals
world's deadliest virus from a lab with the objective of altering it to
a cure that will change the world.
adversaries (which came from all walks of life) don't share his vision.
struggle emerges which holds the dual prospect of either destroying
altering it forever.
cultivates a special blend of mystery, myth, and hope for the future.
pose quandaries and questions as characters vie for control of a force
has never faced before.
values collide with legend and science in satisfying ways that
shifting realities of everyone involved. Readers will find their own
values buffeted in the course of a story that reads like a mystery,
back-and-forth globetrotting tension of a thriller, and creates unusual
associations between military and scientific special interests as new
possibilities are pursued.
As if these
weren't already enough to command a compelling read, Wesley adds the
an indigenous tribe into the mix who "...
are the Keepers of the Secrets and the Protectors of “The Well.” It is
have discovered that the true “Well” lies within each of us, already an
embedded perfection of ourselves, given by the One Universal Mind,
awaiting a recognition to unleash the perfection."
priests and cultural revelations to a search that leads Popov and his
associate, ex-Seal medic and budding scientist Cmdr. Rex Lee, to probe
jungles of Brazil for answers, readers embark on a rollicking world
frightening power struggles and possibilities. These represent swift
thought-provoking twists and turns throughout.
The Well is marked by a sense of
discovery and the possibilities of
miracles that evolve from unlikely associations and sources. This
lends it a tense aura of expectation that doesn't always lead in
engrossing thriller that is dressed in a broad spectrum of metaphysical
philosophical reflections perfect for readers of The
Jerico Manuscript, The
DaVinci Code, and similar tales of resolution and revelation.
disparate, powerful favors of The Well
will make it a main attraction for not just thriller collections, but
looking for exceptional book club recommendations:
"He could understand the worthiness, even
practicality of not
judging others, but how could he not judge himself? His father had
that the universe was filled with forgiveness. But he also taught a
spiritual preservation; that each action provoked a reaction, like a
in a mirror; that the universe was just; and that one could not escape
consequences of one’s actions…unless there was atonement."
Return to Index
Agave Americana Books
Author website: https://www.samfosterbooks.com/the-american-trilogy
final book of the American Trilogy takes place in Beardstown, Illinois, as the early years of
the 20th century are just evolving.
Sam Clark is serving
as a guide on a hunting trip for his father's boss, Cunningham, who is
manager of the entire line of the Missouri, Kansas and Eastern
railroad has overshadowed his short life,
but Sam's strength and ambition comes from
bigger dreams than working in a factory town:
"I was born and
raised in the only town named for
a railroad—Missouri, MO, Kansas, KAN and Eastern, E. MOKANE. My father
cooked in the railroad hotel my whole life. Everyone here works for the
railroad. But I would like to drive for one.”
steps into his
future as an adult and enters into adult relationships, but he never
his passion for the outdoors, hunting, or fielding the kinds of
purposes others hold for his future.
years, the railroad's rise and fall, and friendships evolve, Sam finds
politics keeps affecting his future—whether he wants to be involved or
“Wherever we go, we
got union problems. But here, here
in Beardstown, it never goes away. Never. Most of downstate Illinois
Republican. They’re all independent cusses and vote that way. Chicago
exception. They all want to cling to a group to get the result they
Hell, this town is so Democratic, it not only has a full slate of
Democrats running the place, it didn’t even vote for Lincoln. Not even
for God’s sake. We have more trouble here than anywhere south of
don’t see that changing. We’ll move.”
absorb and redefine wealth translates to a winning story. It unfolds a
compelling saga of American transition, growth, and hard decisions as
town's growing prosperity brings with it new questions of virtue, vice,
review and reflect the town's history serves as a mirror image of
growth, featuring thought-provoking insights about the evolutionary
“When I arrived at
the beginning of the century, we
were almost fifteen thousand here and with everything prosperity and
could provide. When the river traffic died, we’d have collapsed but
ourselves by bringing in the rail. When you were a boy, we were
ten thousand but still prosperous. The rail left after you did, in ’40,
we’re seven thousand and going broke. If we don’t create something new,
die. Driving liberty out will squeeze out creativity, and there will be
to come up with the next new thing, the thing that would have saved us.
Beardstown may not be a proper place, but it is a free place, and
both more important and valuable than propriety. Free trumps good.”
Sam Foster's ability to create a panoramic portrait of the evolving country translates to a story that holds the sweeping appeal of an epic saga, the allure of an ordinary American who grows from boyhood to senior citizen as transformative events unfold, and the history of a life and town affected by fraud, new dreams, opportunity, and courage.
moral, ethical, and political ambition that accompany Sam's journey
thought-provoking tale that not only serves as a fitting conclusion to
trilogy as a whole, but can stand alone as a representative piece of
experience and history.
readers seeking fiction that reflects the concurrent rise and fall of
individuals and nations (as well as the American values and ideals that
accompany them) will find American Pied Piper a
compelling story replete
in a blend of history and experience that invites book club discussion.
Return to Index
of the Urban Legion gives another
Urban Legion satire to
audiences both new and formerly appreciative of the other novels of
fiction, bringing the Wacko Conspiracy Group and a madcap world of zany
conflicts to new heights.
insistence on investigating Master Chuushin’s Zen meditation center,
ecumenical mob scene has erupted between Baptists, the Mothers of Zion,
Granite State Congregationalists, drives a story which delves into
legends, religious fervor, and biotech enhancements. These include
thinking cat with a talent for chemistry, and a host of crazy
only unpredictable, but represent a romp through not-so-evil geniuses,
and purrfect cats, and moral and ethical choices faced by secret
involved in illicit transplants (among other scenarios).
presented with a signature brand of fast action, unexpected twists and
and wry humor which is embedded into the dialogues and interactions of
whispered, turning to give her personal
witness camera a panoramic view. “I reckon we should’ve expected the
refrigerators for an organ transplant operation. But I didn’t expect it
so huge. Or so automated.”
“Or so busy. They must be stealin’ a lot of kidneys.”
comments of Zen-mind (which permeate the story and fill it with an
philosophical atmosphere) to goons, cats, and confrontations, the
scoundrels and a cast of characters with vested interests in artifacts
thievery makes for a hilarious tale that laces intrigue with satire.
readers either familiar with the prior Urban Legion books or new to
scenario will equally find delightful the observations and
outlined in Ancient Mysteries of the Urban Legion.
Its wry tone of
mystery and sarcasm keeps readers laughing and thinking, enhancing the
Legion trilogy as a whole with its cat-centric struggle between humans
feline influences (among many other facets).
Return to Index
Between the Sky
and the Sea
Dragonblade Publishing, Inc.
979-8375696164 $13.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
Between the Sky and the Sea is inspired by a legend and presents a
nautical tale of shipwreck and the difficult choices faced by two
the 1800s. Lisa Kline fictionalizes the facts, adding drama and further
to the original story of the sinking of steamship Pulaski, whose
discovered off the coast of North Carolina in 2018.
survivors of this disaster (Mr. Ridge and Miss Oslow from Savannah)
alive for four days on floating settees before they were rescued, but
questions about their experience and relationship remained unanswered.
Extensive research uncovered a love story that is translated here in an
extraordinarily compelling tale of 1800s history and romance.
fish using earrings as a lure to envisioning a revised life after
story follows the process of tragedy, survival, and lasting impact with
lure of high drama. This pairs well with historical details that came
Kline's extensive research of known facts surrounding both the disaster
relationship between its sole survivors.
shipwreck changes Lavinia in many ways after rescue is as key to the
story as the
event itself. This differentiates Between
the Sky and the Sea from other tales of adversity and rescue,
deeper psychological currents to events than the efforts of Mr. Ridge
their mutual survival. Livvy's initial desire to live as an independent
is transformed by her experience, opening her eyes to vastly revised
quasi-marriage (which might not be entirely acceptable or legal in
eyes) to Livvy's new position as a tainted woman who still takes charge
own destiny, Kline creates a moving story that focuses on many
elements of survival beyond a shipwreck's initial impact.
experiences are on par with the challenges faced by women of her times,
history interplays with drama in a way that laces both with more detail
reader might expect from a historical novel. The plot also considers
evolution and the fears and confrontations faced by women of the times.
chosen by historical novel readers for its extensive background
women's fiction readers for its realistic, astute analysis of the
women faced in their efforts to control their own destinies; and by
general-interest readers attracted by the scenario of a shipwreck
survival story that proves to be so much more.
Libraries and readers looking for a tale which promises entertainment, then delivers a powerful punch of social inspection, will find Between the Sky and the Sea compellingly easy to recommend and hard to put down.Between the Sky and the Sea
Return to Index
979-8585924699 $12.95 Paper/$2.99 ebook
Freedom's Just Another Word opens in 2018
with the declaration
"I used to be famous." Jake revels in the more minor fame of having a
successful syndicated column until the newspaper is sold and his column
back, forcing Jake to become a part-time Uber driver just to make ends
adverse economic conditions seems unlikely, but Jake is wallowing, even
his adult daughter is on the cusp of realizing success at last, having
accepted to Stanford Law at age 31.
candid from the start about the many questionable choices he's made in
life, all of which have led him to this point of uncertainty:
"My fall from grace had been all on me. I fell in
someone I wasn’t supposed to fall in love with. She was 21, I was 35
married. She was my intern. She had a baby. We named him Devante. I’m
to say I was wrong. That I made a mistake and I’m sorry. But I loved
and I love my son. My heart wanted something it couldn’t have. I don’t
that makes it wrong, just impossible. I have no regrets."
gritty form of self-realization in his character which makes him both
and likeable from the beginning. Although family unity seems
there are still life changes waiting to influence Jake and change his
floundering course. These unfold in the course of a novel that follows
moves into adult son Devante's life and crazy woman Amanda's world, who
represents yet another opportunity to either succeed or fail in
traverse the social and political tides of Jake's environment brings
directly into contact with its disparate forces, from boxing and exes
children who are also finding their way in their lives.
beautiful stories Jake is capable of writing change others' lives. Why
But as he
son's dangerous stalker, an even uglier situation with his ex Tawni,
and a job
demotion that keeps him wondering about his future, Jake's search for
stories becomes his own quest for a better outcome.
life to absorb Jake's first-person revelations about his scattered
relationships with job and life will find in Jake many of the
their own psyches; especially in moments which teeter on the fine edge
failure or success.
return to his
writing prowess in producing a column which is both enlightening and
controversial opens new doors of opportunity he and his readers won't
commanding probe of old patterns, new beginnings, political
relationship challenges reformulated under new conditions. Against the
backdrops of boxing, fighting for identity, and confronting self and
lies the astute, vividly realistic story of a man who attempts to
save others while making difficult choices to do the same for himself.
Freedom's Just Another Word is highly
recommended for libraries and
readers looking for powerfully compelling fiction about middle-aged
who face real-world danger, the impossibility of fairy-tale endings,
promise that tomorrow will be different. Maybe.
Return to Index
Victor Cunrui Xiong
978-9866286803 $24.00 Paper/$9.99 ebook
The Age of Wu Zetian: A Novel of
Tang and Wu Zhou China is a
"history in the guise of a historical novel" which stays truer to its
history component over embellishing the facts. This makes it a worthy
for anyone seeking an accurate exploration of Chinese history and
different from the modern Western world in unexpected ways (to
from how time is divided to the solar-lunar calendar based on Chinese
which is largely incompatible from the Julian calendar. In some cases,
Cunrui Xiong has adopted Western methods to ease reader understanding.
others, Westerners are required to absorb Chinese history and facts in
different ways, which lends to the authenticity of this representation
better understand of China's Tang era.
the literary works of Western writers over the last two centuries,
tailors a work that, itself, is a tribute to world literature's tried
tested approach to creating historical fiction that both educates and
features emotional revelations of royalty and the disparate forms of
undertaken by women, playboys, and serious rebels who aspire to the
the movements of expeditionary armies; political campaigns that turn
to Empress Wu (who stands "at the pinnacle of the world"), and the
battles between princes, rebels, and families. Xiong explores not just
politics of the times, but the familial and emotional forces at work
outside of groups.
feature satisfying contrasts of political and social ambitions between
poor and royalty and commoner with an astute eye to covering the
facts of the time in a style that proves compelling even to readers who
hold little prior knowledge of Chinese history.
observations, intrigue, and actions of a wide cast of characters of
demands that readers hold an attention to detail as shifting political
maneuvers and encounters embellish the characters and their connections.
not be accurate to portray Heavenly Empress as a
Xiong accomplishes his goal of personalizing the politics and
the times. He creates a story which offers many insights about the Tang
court proceedings, and the contrasts between opposing forces that would
China's internal and external affairs.
rule was permanently restored in China to the role and power of a woman
toppled a seemingly unshaken dynasty and replaced it with her own
which lasted for over a decade, Xiong's story of how a male monopoly on
was shaken, overcome, and replaced will prove of special interest to
studying world history and women's roles in power.
book clubs seeking novels steeped in fact and enlightening in their
portrait of how women overcome impossible political repression to
will find Heavenly Empress offers not only numerous
facts, but many
opportunities for wider discussions about China's history and women's
Return to Index
9798389294462 $16.99 Paper/$6.99 ebook
adult recover from the legacy of sexual abuse as a child during the
such events were not acknowledged? If Pain Could Make Music
revelations of Lemeilleur, a young man who comes to the slow
realization of the
lasting impact of his sexual abuse and trauma, and the limited options
for working past the pain of his discoveries.
experiences read like a biography, incorporate the pain and passion of
and capture the efforts of a young man whose goal is to "stop feeling
about his life."
relationships, struggles with sexual offers and the emotions they
tries to feel a love that he knows he should harbor but can't quite
readers receive a thought-provoking tale of anguish. This might trigger
who also struggle with past abuse, but will enlighten most about the
nature of this kind of healing journey.
Ron Morin peppers Lemeilleur's explorations with thought-provoking growth insights:
nothing in themselves. Until words
rang with truth they are nothing but harlequins out to thwart their
had to start over again. Mice had loved him, and Lemeilleur hadn't FELT
feelings sparks a wellspring of unacknowledged emotions that compel
past the books that have provided him with both foundations and
end up like Mice: paralyzed in
a fear so great love was forever locked out?"
address the specter of male sexual abuse, much less the impact of such
taking place during times when sexual abuse was barely acknowledged;
readers looking for passionate, heartfelt novels that capture personal
community crisis alike will find If Pain Could Make Music
study of the impact, healing, and fractured results of abuse.
Return to Index
979-8988328117 $16.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
The first book in the West Creek Ranch
series, Mad Dash, is about felons, love, family
ranching, and trick
riding, embedding romance with rural flavors and finishing the dish
country descriptions that are compelling from the novel's opening
grand plans meet their demise during an argument with an old lady over
This story, set in the high country of
Higgins, Wyoming, unfolds with a learning curve as Christa confronts a
thief, the trick-riding Corbett brothers, and her infatuation with
Corbett, who has been the object of her fantasies since childhood.
The impact of childhood dreams, adult
realities, and a changing environment leads Christa and her readers
story laced with ironic humor and interactions that support both
personal growth. These are cemented by dialogues between characters
invitingly easy on the eye and heart:
into the same gawking teenager who sat with Skyler for hours
what it would be like if we could marry those men. We would live in
door to each other on their massive ranch and raise beautiful families.
have adorable sons who could ride like the wind and crush their
records. The fantasies, coming from a girl like me, felt ridiculous.
'You’re drooling.' It’s Skyler’s voice near my ear."
Sage Evans presents a tale that changes
points of view between Carter and Christa, presented in chapter
make it easy for readers to absorb these shifting perspectives. The
tones of the narrators emphasize and outline the meeting of the minds
hearts that fires Christa and Carter to confront their dreams—and one
brutal honesty, my little brother is fucked up. Has been since the
knocked the shit out of Cody Harris, the drunk driver who killed our
But I didn’t tell Christa that when she asked about him. I didn’t tell
anything about the strange bond my brother and I share or how it’s made
connected and disconnected simultaneously."
As secrets, truths, and contrasts between
two very different families come to light, Evans builds a wider set of
and perspectives that draw readers into the milieu of the small town
influences on the main characters in her story. Their ideals and
to light in satisfying contrasts that keep the action and events
is no perfect love story. There’s only love. Precious, powerful, and
The resulting love story about flaws,
transformation, and coming together will delight libraries and readers
a vigorous combination of small-town tale, examination of life and
revelations about power, praise, and the process of riding recklessly
Return to Index
and the Jade: Part Two
979-8394683640 $7.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
part of The Rogue and the Jade
the story of 1800s story of Amanda Breakfield, on a prison ship to
who is taken by the ship's captain to be his concubine. In short order,
faces an assassin, inclement weather, and challenges that include being
captured by a queen who both covets Amanda's special form of magic and
adopt her as a daughter.
the truth and justice has landed her in precarious positions, but she
overcame everything fate has given her in order to survive and realize
freedom and vengeance.
Steven Clark's first story will lend a fine sense of continuity to
evolving life as she continues to move far from her life in Regency
embark on a voyage of discovery and romance aboard the Jade and among
who both revere and revile her:
"Walking on deck, Cates knew about the tropics, and
girls...and malaria, headhunters, pirates, heat so great it seemed to
a white man. As he fingered the guineas in his
pocket, he imagined a
better life than one on the King’s floating prisons."
As she moves
opposite ends of the earth from all that she loves and all that is
Amanda's encounter with powerful women gives her not only new
escape, but new revelations about women's relationships and belief
Her God is
love. But some who encounter her are sure she is a demon.
rollicking good adventure and action story which cements its progress
purposes with strong female characters and interactions between native
White communities alike. These evolving connections and the new ideas
from them receive enlightening discourse as Amanda struggles against
and new ideas in different ways: “You are
allowed your cross god. It is a god with much magic. But you are my
daughter. You are one with the world, and have your home.”
is a vivid
story of plots, survival methods, and the gift of magic and discovery
traverses impossible conditions to form new connections:
“The tune comes from this. You must wind it like
so. When you do this,
the magic will know you need it, then when you lift the lid, it sings
But you must not wind it quickly or tightly. The magic wants you to ask
adventures in the first The Rogue and the
Jade book will find the same attention to character-building
revelation, and growth builds further trails and new possibilities for
Jack, and the people they encounter on their journey.
Return to Index
The Rogue and the Jade Part Three: Mandee
9798394683640 $7.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Two left the door more than ajar for more is the third book in the
the Jade trilogy, which opens with Amanda's near-disastrous escape
Jack Hobb rescues her and bears her back home, but she has not
escaped adversity yet. Waiting for her are the charges and influences
to her world-hopping adventure in the first place.
forced to confront them in new ways as she reconciles the survival
lessons of a
captive that challenge her sense of home and place, leading her into
face their love for one another against the hold of Mateah and
readers swept into the magic of the trilogy from the first two books in
series receive a thought-provoking series of clashes in which Amanda
choose between her roots and the island clan that has adopted her as
one of theirs.
drawings pepper the story (as in the previous books) as Amanda finds
through new circumstances and life "brushes away all confrontation and
the trilogy will be the best audience for this riveting conclusion to
adventures because characters and situations from the prior books
receive embellishment and enlightenment here. This leads to a
conclusion that frays the tempers and purposes of a wide range of
different walks of life.
over finally finding home and purpose power a novel that is
multifaceted and as
able to draw romance and Regency readers as it is those who look for
action and vivid battle scenes.
popularity with the prior two Rogue and the Jade stories will want to
this conclusion on their 'must acquire' lists. It's an inviting survey
plays, women's evolving strengths, and the world-building choices men
face as they seek to reinvent themselves.
Return to Index
Kathryn Brown Ramsperger
9781956851649 $16.99 Paper/$8.99 ebook
Set in the
1990s in Sudan, A Thousand Flying Things
lives up to its title by being many things—among them, a romance story,
of humanitarian aid and UN efforts, and a chronicle of the conflict
between work and love when an opportunity of the past returns to
efforts to change the most well-meaning of intentions.
worker Dianna saw coming was an opportunity to rekindle a romance that
place in Lebanon. Her efforts to help children in the Sudan have
terrible realizations about the politics and abuse of foreign aid
power of local tribal warlords to kidnap and train child fighters, and
to her own life.
Africa is filled with idealism, practicality, and dangerous
"These children mean
everything to her because her
Africa is what she has left. She has a year to reach them. A year from
most will join the fighting, or the dead. Reaching even one would be
reward for the time spent in this restless, ragged heat. Reaching a few
be a miracle. Books are her only tool."
What she had
of was the return of a prospect she had long set aside for
this story lies in its exploration of UN protocol and moral and ethical
that arise from these best intentions gone awry. Dianna's moments of
realization and reinvention drive her story, keeping its insights and
on track and thought-provoking:
“I would have realized he
was just one more soul in
a vast array of
souls that all need our help. I would not have singled him out. Nor
have if I'd enlisted team assistance. Acted according to U.N. protocol.
the appropriate steps.”
She pauses and looks around the room. All eyes are on her but with looks of empathy, not disapproval.
“That is why I am requesting a less arduous position in Addis Ababa, where I will be a team member instead of a teacher. I would enjoy the camaraderie, brainstorming, and protection of a team. I will not ever allow this kind of circumstance to happen again. Never.”
her realizations about loves past and present feature a fascinating
juxtaposition of subjects that keeps readers engaged on different
personal and political inspections that evolve from Dianna's ambitions
connections are astute and realistic:
"Did love bring happiness?
Did it bring power?
Biblical love song say that love was as strong as death? Now that was
resulting saga of
shifting core values, contrasts between Dianna's white American
and how they will (or won't) dovetail with Qasim's Lebanese Muslim
focus on diversity and choice is highly recommended for libraries and
seeking evocative works that will also fuel powerful book club
Return to Index
Beacon Publishing Group
978-1-961504-01-1 $16.99 Paper/$7.99 ebook
Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/randall.devallance.author
True North is
a literary novel
of business, enlightenment, and
transformation. It incorporates a wry satirical sense of irony to life
sales rep at True North, LLC, Salvatore "Sal" Slocum, finds his life
and business savvy put to new tests.
Leathers places Sal in a different position, then views the fruits of
decision in success ratios that exceed anything Sal or the company
achieved before his loss of memory and concurrent strange attraction.
scenario made all the more puzzling by the fact that, before this, Sal
an average achiever and employee.
than profited from Sal's situation. It's time to hand Sal the reins of
company. But, leadership evolves from strange places and a bequest of
isn't always the gift it seems, as Sal discovers when he learns of the
reason Burt has decided to retire.
DeVallance employs extensive dialogue between characters to
individual psyches and pursuits. These bring the story to life, adding
sense of irony and special interests exhibited by the characters as
situations change. The dialogues and reflections that permeate this
provide food for thought about business, special interests, and
“I’m rather pleased with
how that came off,” said
Leathers, once his
crossword had been amended.
Stilton nodded. “Not nearly the pushback we had expected. I thought I was in for a long day, but aside from that one question about refreshments everyone just seemed to accept the fact that Sal’s the boss now.”
Leathers grunted, but said nothing. He had noticed that as well. It was the only thing that dampened his pleasure at how smoothly his plan had gone. He and Stilton had spent the previous evening workshopping an intricate explanation for why Leathers needed to step aside temporarily...It wasn’t the wasted time that bothered Leathers so much as learning that his workforce saw him as replaceable. Better to suffer a hard truth than a bullet to the head, he reasoned, but that didn’t mean his pride was any less wounded."
and a concurrent drama of shifting relationships both in the financial
interpersonal relationship sectors, True
North charts a course that is inviting, fun, and
thought-provoking all in
a literary piece that works on different levels is not uncommon; but
Randall DeVallance creates here is a unique romp through
and dovetailed lives. This translates to perfect debate and discussion
for book clubs.
interested in novels rooted in both business and personal pursuits will
discover True North to be
captivating draw that's hard to put down, weaving drama into
"I don’t know what I
expected, letting a compass
plan out my
Return to Index
Welcome to Bellechester
medical story introduced in the novel The
Doctor of Bellechester, which centered on a small village
journeys to London in search of a mentor for his practice and instead
encounters new possibilities in American woman Mary Elizabeth.
cozy mystery, suspense, and budding career and personal choices is
this second book, which opens with different circumstances of intrigue
potentials, beginning with another confession gained by Detective
William Francis Donnelly.
not a major figure here, but plays a more minor role, appearing
after the story has heated up and embraced readers with its special
Bellechester community interactions and concerns.
As Dr. Basil
Applegate and other characters profiled in the first book come to
readers will find this second story of small village interactions and
influences expands the psyches and situations of the first book while
an excellent stand-alone novel steeped in British atmosphere, detective
and medical issues alike.
this novel opens the doors and definition of "cozy small town" to
invite newcomers and prior fans into a read that excels in building
relationships, connections, and conundrums stemming from mystery and
As in her
novel, Margaret A. Blenkush is adept at crafting a set of realistic
circumstances powered by quiet, believable dramas that play out many
levels. This translates to a realistic feel that uses daily life
build suspense, eschewing the lure of nonstop action in favor of a
that builds equally satisfying tension and attraction.
to feel that there should be something more in her life than her
becoming a rural doctor, involving readers in the opportunities,
issues facing women in the late 1950s.
fine cozy story that embraces and expands the atmosphere of
its residents with an 'everyman', 'everywoman', and 'everytown' appeal
the challenges of adopting a foreign locale as one's home.
seeking a story that focuses on how a young woman moves into new
that expand her future and perspectives will find Welcome
to Bellechester delightful, pairing a deceptively peaceful
countenance with moments of revelation and discovery.
Return to Index
I'll Be Gone
979-8-218-95514-4 $16.00 Paperback/$6.99 Kindle
When You Read This I'll Be Gone
The title of
Moose's When You Read This I'll Be Gone
achieves the goal of an excellent title—to compel readers to delve into
story. It supports the opening lines of the tale, which take the form
letter Valerie Hawthorne writes to her loved ones:
"I know there’s nothing I
can ever say or do to
make up for the
hurt I’ve caused you, but this book will at least explain what happened
I did what I did. I don’t expect forgiveness, but I do want you to know
truth. It’s ironic that, with this book, I may finally achieve the
an author I’ve always wanted."
that the domino-tipping came as much from her actions as those of a
tall stranger she encountered at a hotel, readers receive a compelling
of events that turns an illicit romance into a quest for redemption and
becomes something more—and then the terror begins as Valerie comes to
understand that little was left to chance, and much that played out was
both intentionally and inadvertently to the deadly results of dangerous
choices, Moose weaves a thoroughly engaging story that winds through
past crime the perp never realized had been committed, and racial
which infect even a liberal university.
As the truth
revealed and Valerie is charged with telling the world, a riveting
out that intersects romance and danger in such a way that readers will
to stop following its satisfying twists and turns.
process lies in developing truths and underlying motives that affect
characters, and its strength lies in a plot for retribution that
Valerie to not just survive, but step up to life in new ways:
“By the end of this week,
you’ll be one of the
biggest stories in the
country. It has all the elements—sex, violence, mystery. Everyone will
your name and be wondering what happened to you.” He paused with a look
satisfaction. “We don’t know what your husband’s condition is, or what
thinking is about your disappearance, but it doesn’t matter. What
matters is you’re gone, and
the mystery of your
whereabouts will grow bigger every day.”
Stark in its
interlude, which opens the saga with a slower simmer that then builds
to a boil
of intrigue and revelations, When You
Read This I'll Be Gone lives up to its promises to be a
powerful blend of
mystery, romance, and psychological attraction.
When You Read This I'll Be
Gone is highly
recommended for libraries
and readers seeking exceptional titles supported by equally potent
keeps audiences thoroughly engaged and guessing to the end.
Return to Index
Patrick Sanaghan Ed.D.
979-8862462838 $11.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
How To Increase Your "Creative IQ" joins other self-help
exploring the wellsprings of creativity, but arrives with a difference.
heart of this story lies in exploring not only supportive forces to
but the obstacles that batter the creative impulse.
other books would
maintain that creativity is
inherent, Patrick Sanaghan maintains that it also is learned and can be
supported or quashed. Almost anyone holds the potential to be creative,
daily problem-solving challenges creating opportunities to delve into
creative solutions or resort to mundane reactions and thinking.
ethereal and philosophical ideals,
as too many books do, Climbing Bubbles
presents five concrete approaches for supporting and increasing one's
"creativity IQ", from capturing creative thoughts from sleep and
awake time to understanding different styles of learning and how to
promote them internally and externally.
each of these strategies with
examples, supportive suggestions, and routines any reader can employ to
their own creative wellsprings in whatever form they may take.
of necessity involves
identifying "creativity killers" and mitigating their impact.
Sangahan shows how to hone creativity-enhancing tools and approaches to
life situations, supplying real-life case history examples of not only
individuals, but leaders who would mentor and foster creativity in
organizations and followers.
will discover that Climbing Bubbles
is no quick read, but
presents a program which
ideally will be slowly digested and applied to individual lives and
demands an attention to detail and understanding that also deserves to
of business and book club discussion circles:
metaphorical thinking, you create the psychological space necessary to
your existing problem. It takes you to a different level and different
thinking. It naturally opens up your creative processes and provides a
different perspective. It takes some practice but can have powerful
thought a subject for
liberal arts groups, Sangahan
demonstrates how the pursuit of increased creativity benefits all kinds
organizations, operations, and individuals at all levels of life
of Climbing Bubbles can thus come
from all walks of life, from business and leadership roles to
looking to burst the limiting bubble of perception that creativity is
artistic pursuit alone. Its momentum and relevance comes not from a
avenue to success, but from a carefully honed compilation of supportive
references, statistics, case histories and specific discussions, making
Climbing Bubbles highly recommended
a wide audience of already-creative thinkers and wannabes alike.
Return to Index
Creative Genius Press
9780983985655 $21.99 Paper/$8.99 ebook
You: The Equation That Makes You Great! pairs drawings by
Scott Ward with
exercises and insights into the foundations of intuition, creativity,
choice. This encourages readers to think outside the box of expectation
patterns to reach a greater level of creative insights.
the importance of
cultivating inner dialogues to
optimizing ambition by reviewing progress in a new light, Patti Dobrowolski
creates an inviting set of easy routines
and insights about how belief
systems can combine with artistic drive to create new pathways of
outlining a path
forward, Dobrowolski admits
and training too often must be set aside in order to let in a different
people spend hours longing for something to occur and asking
is nothing changing?' Unleashing the full capacity of your Creative
takes belief and determination."
with examples, case
histories, and inviting
methods of re-envisioning past and present to hone better future
the exercises and advice in Creative
Genius You outlines a road map of new possibilities. Of
course, these involve restructuring one's expectations, ideals, and
to life. Interactive formulas throughout the book streamline and
process of discovery.
interested in revised growth
opportunities will welcome this approach, but Creative
Genius You will truly shine in group settings where
opportunities for contrast, discussion, and success can be shared and
Books clubs thus will find it an inspirational, actionable set of new
for fostering and tapping creative roots.
Return to Index
The Elk in the Glade
Bruce E. Whitacre
Crown Rock Media
Elk in the
Glade: The World of Pioneer and Painter Jennie Hicks belongs in any arts collection strong in
paintings, biography, and
poetry; but it doesn't assume the usual nonfiction structure of a prose
Bruce E. Whitacre
instead chooses poetry to
capture the life of Jennie Hicks, the author's great-grandmother and a
legend. This personal presentation succeeds in capturing the life and
influences of this Nebraskan daughter of pioneer stock, weaving family
and memories into a story which sometimes blurs the lines between prose
poem, but which always features a steady rhythm and revealing hand.
Vivid accounts of
Jennie's beginnings and
artistic development bring home the effort of this creative artist to
place for working on her craft:
Jennie in one of Arthur’s old shirts,/the pantry wall lined with three
paintings:/a mountain cabin, a howling wolf, a cowboy on
through a blizzard to make his log cabin in the night."
reproductions of her art
pepper the story, which will interest even readers who may hold little
familiarity with the artist, her family, or the times.
Whitacre's ability to capture this support network and the
efforts of Jennie Hicks in a manner that reaches beyond the usual
arts reader makes her story appealing to a much wider audience.
with the visual and mental artist's hand, The
Elk in the
Glade proves much more than a
review of the artist's productions. It delves into her life and, even
importantly, the family relationships and experiences that influenced
presence of tragedy, healing, and creative impetus in her artworks.
In the end, the poetic
reflections about her
legacy prove just as heavy a draw as Jennie's life and artistic choices:
of two lions painted by Jennie/at the birth of my father, her first
grandchild,/floated with the river of the seven houses/in seventeen
youth in one town—/until it became home itself."
Libraries and readers
interested in stories
of 19th century female artists who emerged from backgrounds that
little to do with art will find The Elk in the Glade
captivating, and nicely rooted in Nebraskan history and culture.
Return to Index
Interpreting Time's Past Press
979-8-9852672-2-8 $15.99 Print/$6.99 ebook
highly recommended historical novel for all ages, from young adult
adult readers. It centers on American Revolutionary War history as seen
the eyes of 1800s character Esther, who experiences war, Indian
movements through early American settlements, and shifting family
times come to life
through her eyes and travels as
C.M. Huddleston attends to capturing the atmosphere and motivations of
America and those who lived in these turbulent times:
raged in the east, Indian attacks grew more frequent in the lands
Appalachians. Despite knowing of and fearing such attacks, men,
the militia traveled the far western trails, for such was life in the
wilderness. Besides the threats of Indian attacks, all frontier
tales of robbers, evil men, white like themselves, attacking and
the backcountry roads and trails."
timeline of American
history that introduces this milieu
may prove daunting to those who want immediate immersion in fictional
but it does set the stage for the story's roots in fact. Readers who
immediate gratification and draw can easily look beyond the timeline
introduction and refer to it later as Esther's life progresses.
relationships between men
and women (and within
families) unfold against the backdrop of early American journeys and
receive a "you are here" feel that cultivates a compelling immediacy
and logic to the history embedded in Esther's story.
skilled at integrating
thoughts and prayers with the routines and concerns of not just Esther,
community and people she moves among. This creates a wider-ranging
place and purpose that helps drive the story line with satisfying
and historical insights. Ultimately, these dovetail within Esther's
and shifting perspectives about herself, her relationships, and the
Joshua, Esther, Seth,
Lovely, and a disparate range of
personable characters come to light, readers will revel in the
courage that also emerge from their experiences and interactions.
ability to reach a wide age range with a compelling saga that's based
materials and published resources, yet incorporates the drama and
fictional creativity, makes it a strong recommendation for libraries
reading groups interested in early American history and novels
Return to Index
The Hand of God
$33.95 Hardcover/$23.95 Paper/$9.95 ebook
Ordering Link: https://www.amazon.com/Hand-God-Oppenheimer-Hypersonics-Humankinds/dp/B0CD1616XQ
Hand of God examines the science,
and social issues surrounding nuclear weaponry, creating a discourse
sounds like others on these topics—but is not. Its major difference
lies in an
attention to not just detail and history, but doing so in a way that
fast-paced and compelling.
Because it's neither a
textbook by a
scientist nor a political discourse by a social issues analyst, The
God is not intended to compete with other surveys more
in-depth in nature,
but provides a comprehensive overview of the subject that
readers can more quickly and easily absorb.
There is not a strict
arrangement to these discussions, either, which connect with one
interconnected ideas much like the Internet. Ordinary readers thus
engaging discourse that is information-rich, but presented on a level
allows for greater engagement with the subject.
Take the chapter on the
space race which
emerged from the cold war, for example. It pinpoints the foundations of
space became a political contest between US and Soviet Union military
"On October 4, 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth. While many across the world admired the Russian space achievement, the United States government and its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) knew better—Sputnik wasn’t a mere test satellite—it was the beginning of the Soviets’ ICBM program."
As he reviews such history and events, Paul McCarthy heavily footnotes his account so that readers can refer to source material for further reading. He provides links within the greater contexts of social and political events and also includes many startling revelations which do not reside in other books about nuclear development:
1950s, the United States commissioned a classified worldwide study
Project SUNSHINE to determine the uptake of strontium-90 and effects
from Sr-90 being put into the environment from nuclear testing. Bones
1,500-6,000 cadavers, many of them babies, were gathered from half a
countries ranging from Europe to Australia, with 26 “bone collection
located worldwide, shipping the remains to Chicago and New York.
remains were used, sometimes without their families' permission,
children are particularly susceptible to the uptake of Sr-90 since they
growing bones and bodies."
Ultimately (for this
particular study, its
approach, and its results), "The findings of Project SUNSHINE
analyses are perhaps as disturbing as the study’s methodology itself,
findings helped to put an end to nuclear testing worldwide."
These and other
insights emerge in the
course of a powerful assessment of war and peace and the high costs of
choices that influence the atomic age.
The underlying issues,
arguments of both sides of the nuclear discussion receive
discourses that will lend particularly well to classroom and group
considerations of whether nuclear weapons promote peace or threaten to
it irrevocably are questions of morality."
Hand of God is a survey less
rigid in its scientific
and political probes, more wide-ranging than most, and offers a more
approach that defies past answers, toes the line between taking
sides, and cites extensive supporting materials in its survey.
Libraries and readers
seeking a more
approachable history and survey to the whys and hows of national
weaponry choices will find much food for thought in The Hand
Return to Index
Volume 4, Nitty, Gritty Ascesis
C.J.S. Hayward Publications
$10.00 Paper/$20.00 Hardcover/$5.00 ebook
Hidden Price Tags: Volume
4, Nitty, Gritty Ascesis
is the fourth
volume in a seven-book series about technology's promises and costs. It
on its predecessors, providing cautionary notes about how to eliminate
unnecessary screen time and providing both thought-provoking and
condemnations of branding, socially accepted technological habits, and
because the discussions embrace alternative ideas of technology's
appropriateness and applications which will go beyond many avid users'
perceptions of what those benefits and possibilities could be.
cosmological and spiritual approach to better understanding technology
impact on the soul is particularly well-developed and inviting,
fodder for discussions and discourses among all kinds of spiritual
about broader topics such as addiction, pain and pleasure, and
his subject translates to discussions which may be identified as some
"run-on sentences" because they are laden with facts and emotional
"I had earlier hoped to
wind this down with the
advice given when one is tempted to escape: “Persevere in alternating
and work, and one can eventually emerge a victor,” and with an anecdote
one of the times I repented of another layer of this vice I desired,
God putting me somewhere else as I sought escape, that a loving God had
in quite an awesome place without escape, and that in the here and now
God has placed me I am in a very real sense in communion with the stars
sky and the salt in the sea."
experience and insight dovetail with historical precedent, God's
spiritual reflection, Nitty, Gritty Ascesis
becomes both an invitation and a demand, requiring of its readers an
to deconstructing and revealing not only God's intention, but the
of the English language and human desire.
to quite politically incorrect passages in Scriptures and the special
challenges of interpreting the history of yesterday with the language
mindset of modern times. General-interest readers and religious
receive a series of in-depth, demanding, and enlightening works on
connections to efforts to glorify God outside of the murky confusion of
affairs and focuses.
isn't just a treatise about technology or Orthodoxy, but a
passionate reflection on the processes and meaning of life itself:
"This life is an
apprenticeship, and even now, when
we may be in
situations we do not like, God is asking us to be apprentices, learning
knights riding the warhorse he gives us even
in the situations we might not like. The life of Heaven
begins on earth,
even in an economic depression."
Hayward's extensive writings who look for more depth and complexity in
works will find it in Nitty, Gritty
Ascesis, which is recommended reading for Christian Orthodoxy
members and, especially,
for groups interested in wide-ranging material offering a
blend of philosophical, spiritual, and social reflection.
Return to Index
Hot Berry Punch
Soft Moon Press
979-8-9887423-0-2 $6.99 ebook
Berry Punch is a novel that
crosses the line between
pioneer romance and fantasy, and will appeal to readers who like
stories that defy pat categorization. Its odd-coupling blend of pioneer
relationship and paranormal examination employs the first person to
roots of an ordinary life which becomes extraordinary:
"I was born
augured my fate. No hellhounds bayed upon their misty moors, no frantic
fled their belfries like cracks through a twilight teacup when I first
the ethers of this world. There was nothing in my birth that would have
suggested a prolonged association with despair, bloody death, or
Anymore than there was evidence that my life would be dedicated toward
constant pursuit of love and being loved."
Thus opens a tale set
in the 1800s that
swirls around Emma-May Shinnecock, who was born on the
and raised largely apart from the staid trappings of urban civilized
What led to
Emma-May's relatively wild upbringing? Her parents opted to forego the
civilized world for the relative freedom of the unknown:
had seen too much of the civilized world and Cora was fed
up with that world’s constant contradictions and so it was decided they
do what few of the innocent and the jaded were doing in those days.
swap the raw disappointments of their respective
pasts for a shared terror of the future and go West."
Bradford Tatum assures
that history and
events wind nicely into the story as a rise in population assures that
who go missing won't be noted, and no mystery will swirl around their
This marriage between
paranormal fiction and
Western, especially when combined with a powerful woman who steps into
special abilities and revised future, works well. Emma-May is a feisty
character with a no-nonsense approach to life. Her attitude is
dialogue that is raw, candid, and powerful:
take a pull of berry punch from any sucker fool enough to think he
me? You want me to keep culling from the streets? Listen, you’re
this the wrong way. Folks in this town don’t give two cold shits about
likes of us. Hell, if they knew what we really were, they’d run us out
with pitch forks and torches.”
It's also notable that
Emma-May plays many
roles as the town madam, the preacher's wife, and more. The secrets
follow her and the motivations that drive her lifestyles and choices
center stage in a story steeped in vampire encounters and concerns, a
true love, and a series of encounters that tests the mettle and
of women in the Wild West.
From manipulative plans
fueled by the rush
of recent challenges to Emma's reputation as "...the Little
Weather, as they called me, that stole their brothers’ thunder and
through a handful of their best," Tatum's one-two punch of
revised realizations about life and opportunity form a compelling
neatly defies any formula approach to Western, women's novel, or
Libraries that choose
replete in rich dialogue, vivid confrontations, and unusual dilemmas
will find Hot
Berry Punch hides high drama in an unassuming title, and
deserves to be
richly recommended to readers who look for original stories packed with
satisfying twists and turns.
Return to Index
In the Pace
fictionalized memoir In the Pace of the
Path also represents a diverse array of styles as he moves
verse poetry and prose to build the story of his life in Berkeley and
career in the public library system.
the library reference desk to pursue the atmosphere of Berkeley from
vantage points past and present. He captures this milieu with vignettes
move between experiences with the fluid viscosity of time travel and
these literary forms to juxtapose such experiences and observations
satisfying interplay between the "pathways that lead to home" and the
places that occupy center stage at select moments in the narrator's
As he walks
spiral paths of Indian Rock Park and moves between reference desk and
readers begin to understand that the feel and presence of his words are
than just an invitation, but a sharing of the experiences of the
byways of Berkeley that bring that town and its culture to life.
evocative hand that also embraces philosophical reflection:
"What I really want to
grow is a dream that makes
me see a dream
that sees me. And everything as it can be. From the dream’s eyes would
caught in cooling winds, in a soundtrack of persistent chimes, would I
above the life I live, rise into mountains of my highest imaginings, an
I’ve never visited, a deep valley from a picture book I read as a
clarity beyond clarity as I’ve known it."
work defies any attempts at neat categorization. As a memoir
fictional components, it challenges pat filing as either an
autobiography or a
novel. As a special blend of prose and poetry, it can fall under
but doesn't adhere to any set expectations of what that form embraces.
acquisition that features a powerful sense of place and growth, In the Pace of the Path will find a
welcome home in libraries strong in literary genre-bending works whose
intrinsic value lies as much in its fluidity as in its multifaceted
the human spirit and its earthly ties.
Return to Index
Dr. Ian D. Brooks, MS
978-1-7359750-0-9 $19.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Capabilities to Transform Your
Story deserves a place on any
bookshelf where self-help and transformation is of interest, reaching
interested in both with a framework for successful change.
approach begins with cementing intention and supporting its presence,
how to make adjustments that led to consistent new behavior patterns.
and reflective personal inquiries accompany these directions, adding
cues and strength to discussions that range from success methods and
return to building a "principle of you" that rests on revised
direction, experience, and exercises that reinforce new abilities.
includes his own experiences as well as those of clients to follow the
paths taken to cement career and personal goals alike. As the CEO and
of Rhodes Smith LLC, his consulting firm has helped many a business
goals via routines and exercises that apply equally well to individual
both within and outside of the business community. His attention to
details and examples of his own reflective processes lends real-world
to his stories:
was not in
search for feedback for myself, but
I found it empowering to acknowledge my own emotion in the moment where
I had a
choice to take action. This story first reflects the vulnerably
taking action and doing something different. Your awareness of being in
moment when you’re taking action builds your capability to manage
incalculable results of pushing boundaries to re-prioritizing goals,
help, and applying wisdom and direction in ways that support new
Brooks reviews a wealth of examples that show how to not only achieve,
sustain transformations and persevere against all odds.
readers looking for a lively link between real-world experience and the
enactment of strategies for change will find Intention
only for individual pursuit, but (perhaps especially) useful in group
situations, whether they be book clubs or psychological groups debating
supporting the goal of better understanding how change works.
Return to Index
1st World Publishing
$21.95 Paper/$14.95 Audio/$9.97 ebook
Keeping Your Seat at the
Table is about
women aging, facing agism,
and defeating the self- and society-inflicted mindsets and perceptions
the process and its impact on their lives.
It's a book
should have been written long ago, but which arrives now with a
message—that women can not only claim a seat at the table of
can sit at its head as stronger, more resilient leaders.
collection of research, stories, and insights, not only that position
table itself falls under close inspection. This is especially vital for
professional women used to power's presence, but not to interpretations
meaning and importance.
series of "table-talk" sessions about purpose, redefining it in a
series of discussions which encourage readers to begin their own
external dialogues about its presence and importance. Jabba's blend of
and her own reflections creates a synthesis of personal and political
which are easy to digest and encouraging in their presentation:
"Shifting the function of
the table from career
pinnacle to life
purpose provides an opportunity to revitalize your goals, your career
your life path. Imagine if hiring managers asked questions that get to
heart of a person and what value they can add to the organization with
questions about the table, such as, “What does a seat at the table mean
you? Who’s at your table?” or “Tell me about a time when you
felt pulled under the table and how you
handled it.” No one has ever asked me these
questions in a job interview, but they became central questions I
my journey to get my seat back at the table."
in middle-age growth and involvement will find Keeping
Your Seat at the Table relevant and important; but perhaps
nowhere else is the audience of professional women so important to
individuals have already worked hard to sit at the table. Now they need
absorb discussions on how to not just keep that seat, but reinforce it
transformative thoughts and actions.
many original approaches to address all facets of this process. One
her program PURGE, designed to address the promises and failures of
a social media presence:
"PURGE helps me create a
shield from intimidation
saddled, bogged down by social media, bullied, or caught up in an
reduces anxiety and mitigates regret. It helps me leverage my voice
strategically instead of worrying and wondering. The purpose of a
policy is threefold: to keep you out of trouble and protect you, to
give you a framework
for sound decision-making, and to keep everyone on the same page."
reality-based approaches to addressing key obstacles in middle age that
to thwart or reduce women's power in various ways makes for a series of
important lessons. These ideally won't be limited to women's book clubs
but will expand into discussion groups for everyone from professional
psychology self-help reading groups.
will find Keeping Your Seat at the Table
interactive, power-promoting, important read that should be on the
table of any
aging woman interested in being proactive about her future. As Jabba
"No one wants to grow old,
and while we cannot stop
it, we can
heed the early warning signs and manage them as we age so that we don’t
one day depressed, perplexed, and shocked at how we got there. What I
learned from my mother’s frustration, distress with aging, and
mentality is this: do not let old age creep up on you. Take it by the
the signs start to appear and manage it." Reading and
sharing Keeping Your Seat at the Table
first step to doing so.
Return to Index
The graphic novel The Nosferatu Conspiracy: Lady of the Loch was adapted from the novel trilogy and written with AI assisted artwork.
More so than most
graphic novels, Brian
James Gage attends to creating a heightened sense of drama through
white and color artistic renditions of place and people. These reflect
depth and delicacy of works of art in and of themselves.
Opening in 1894
Rumania, where the isle of
the "black ruler" Vlad Dracula rises from Loch Dracul, the
atmospheric images (whether they be of dark landscapes or people who
through them in pursuit of Loch monsters and fortune) come to immediate
a manner that belays the more familiar cartoon drawings of too many
works. Gage returns the fine art to the form of graphic fiction—and
that is no
light accomplishment when it comes to the genre, which is replete in
that too often fall short of the talents of their writers.
As events evolve, the
which lace the story with compelling portraits of men and women under
create just as enticing an allure as Gage's tale of investigations and
struggles that emerge on a battlefield of supernatural clashes.
The history, segues
between black and white
and rich color imagery, and high drama cultivated by a more interactive
taken by characters, plot, and art ups the ante for graphic novel
creating an integrated display of suspense and discovery that readers
impossible to put down.
Gage's production may
also be used as a lure
to those who tend to view graphic novels as amateur and superior only
serving as an example of artistic possibilities created by a successful
marriage of plot and art.
Conspiracy: Lady of the Loch is
absolutely compelling, impossible to put down, and highly recommended
graphic novel collection. Perhaps especially, it will draw non-genre
with the promise of a thriller, the art of a modern creative force, and
lure of supernatural confrontations that operate on many levels.
Return to Index
for the Brave at Heart:
Essays Rethinking Race,
Crime, and Justice
Leon E. Pettiway
979-8-9891820-0-8 $29.99 Paper/$23.99 ebook
Only for the Brave at
Heart: Essays Rethinking
Race, Crime, and Justice
offers a scholarly reflection on several important social issues and
unusual path by incorporating Afrocentric and Buddhist ideas in its
Dr. Leon E. Pettiway undertakes a critical examination of the writings
scholars in several fields of social inquiry, from sociology and
black studies and philosophy.
represents a very different understanding of ethnic and racial
given the dreams and realities conjured by race, and he considers how
influences such disparate subjects as concepts of injustice and
self-identity, and race relations.
with a powerful account of how black men and women die in America
police violence. It is a hailstorm of bullets, perceptions, and
create opportunities for death and other threats to shroud the daily
punches in identifying and documenting the ongoing effects of prejudice
simmers through America's melting pot:
"The death of George Floyd
set tongues to wagging
protests and demonstrations across the country. Some politicians
looting, vandalism, and violence that ensued were linked to the radical
but others spoke of the systemic racism, the antiblackness, that
lives of non-whites in this country. While many Americans are sick and
the violence held in antiblackness, the solution will not be found in
understanding the divide between police and the minority communities
serve. A solution will not be found by elevating the voices of good
officers who are committed to justice or by getting behind an array of
justice initiatives that supposedly help minority communities. None of
will get to the root cause. The solutions to our problem can only be
understanding the nature of the American mind."
admonitions drive a powerful and forceful critique that demands candid
conversations and a national examination that may prove painful to many
reader, it is apparent that Only for the
Brave at Heart lives up to its title. It promotes and
discussions that should lie at the heart of any group or individual
consideration concerning white privilege and the tendency to frame
offenders through a racialized lens:
"White perpetrators of
matricide, patricide, school
white-collar offenses, serial killing, hate crimes, insurrection, and
murder, as well as white street criminals, are not seen as dangerous in
same way as people of color who commit crimes."
away layers of prejudice that affect and infect American culture and
members regardless of their race. His commentary reveals the raw skin
historical precedent and the roots of our failures in the judicial
actually orchestrate the injustices these systems are mandated to
because purveyors of justice do not address the underlying racial
frame their perceptions and decisions.
principles and perceptions from Buddhism, African philosophy, and
to provide a thought-provoking contrast to the Eurocentric framing that
typically underlies our normal examinations of race and racial inequity.
scholarly, yet accessible critique that lends to a rare opportunity to
academic and non-academic readers alike. In that regard, these essays
considered pivot points in those difficult discussions where new
necessary, where prior discussions seemed over-considered, and where
approaches to these issues haven't changed.
seeking hard-hitting, challenging, enlightening essays that probe the
foundations of the paradoxes found in the Eurocentric worldview will
find Only for the Brave at Heart
appropriate reading for those interested in the construction of race,
justice, and other social issues in America. Ideally, it also will be
as classroom debate material, appealing to educators with heavily
references and supportive bibliographic material.
Return to Index
Paperback: $19.99, Hardcover: $29.99, E-book: $9.99
the second volume of CK
Sobey's reflections (begun
in Musings, Woolgatherings & Ghosts),
but requires no prior familiarity with the first book in order to prove
entirely accessible to newcomers.
special blend of personal reflection, poetry, and philosophical musings
marked the first book, but carries these themes into wider waters as
marks her life and heritage with passages of experience and growth that
spiritual reflection with life inspection. Sobey often writes with an
underlying philosophical view. This will attract a wide audience of
who enjoy deeper-level inspections.
begins with a consideration of impermanence and the impetus for writing
publishing one's thoughts for posterity: "Nothing
is truly gone but can be so fleeting. I’m trying to capture the
moment longer and put them into words."
series of surges and reflections that reflect both an appreciation for
poetic structure and accompanying prosaic considerations of wisdom,
dialogues, and the fabric of building personality and perspective over
CK Sobey is
particularly adept at capturing her life experiences and inspections in
interweave of reveries about marvels, mysteries, and miracles to
an appreciation of what is known about life and aspects which are in
unknown, yet to be developed.
Like a fine
photograph, Sobey's work slowly comes to light in the darkroom of life,
assuming clarity and form as readers either choose a progressive
reading or dip in and out at various points in her book, as desire
a work which offers dual approaches to readers who pursue either linear
non-linear paths of exploration, but Outpourings
(and its predecessor) offers satisfaction to both kinds of readers as
embraces a "multiple passage of steps" to arrive at thought-provoking
considerations of the human spirit and wisdom.
haiku and prose works well in this pursuit, lending vivid imagery and
possibilities to Sobey's work and strengthening her intention to reach
an audience as possible:
"I think about things that
touch me. Believe me
when I say I am
touched in countless ways every day. Not always in thoughtful, poetic
life can be outrageously foolish, and sometimes it involves a great
shouting and disruption. Reaching some passionate and evocative
me to turn up the heat when I need that. I’m not alone in this, just my
version. I will do my best to share that authenticity with you in this
memoir, literary inspection, and philosophical and spiritual reflection
delight libraries that look for evocative, accessible writings for
appreciate prose, poetry, philosophy, and everything that goes into
Return to Index
A Pack of
for the Mind
C.J.S. Hayward Publications
$20.00 Hardcover/$20.24 Paper/$5.00 ebook
Pack of Cigarettes for the Mind: Selections from the Hidden
Price Tags: An Eastern Orthodox Look at the Dark Side of Technology and
Best Use series differs
most other writings condemning technology because it's more than a
technology's alienating forces, but a package of solutions.
cautions, and remarks about
technology's allure and dangers lies a series of strategies everyday
can employ to counter and thwart many of the soul-diminishing threats
technology poses (especially to current generations).
specifics are wound
into discourses that examine
routines and roles for making important changes:
advantage of having a phone then? Wouldn’t it be simpler to not own
personally think there is much to commend about not owning a
smartphone, but it
is a socially mandated technology. You should be able to get along well
to have a paper planner and pad and a standalone GPS to navigate by,
is how to skim the cream off of technology and not hurt yourself with
Followed by eleven specific moves to achieve this goal of reducing reliance on devices and the lure of the screen, this example pinpoints the heart of this intention ("...how to skim the cream off of technology and not hurt yourself with its murkier depths.")
advice to "Trample technologies
underfoot as much as it takes to have a life" are thus
cemented by the
heart of this book—how to get there—issuing a clarion call for change
holds the promise of spiritual and social transformation.
simple task or singular solution. A mindset change over values and
of engagement is required of readers. This may prove challenging to
is of utmost importance in any drive to reconnect with the world beyond
facades of modern technological devices.
This book is
powerful introduction to Hayward's thoughts on the topic and should be
consulted first, before Luddite's Guide
to Technology or his other writings about technological
impact and its
likely be the pursuers of this discourse on how to put technology in
place, ideally (and, perhaps, especially) A
Pack of Cigarettes for the Mind should be given to young
mired in technological attraction, debated in their classrooms, and
by book clubs and libraries devoted to discourses that challenge the
proper use of technology in everyday life.
in favor of a screenshot is to also set aside too many spiritual and
connections. A Pack of Cigarettes for the
Mind returns these facets to life through a series of
insights that are
concrete in their action plans and wider-ranging than most technology
examinations in their opportunities for reflection.
Return to Index
True Stories of
the Philosophical Theater
$50.99 Hardcover/$32.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
True Stories of the Philosophical Theater represents a melding of philosophy and drama. This approach challenges the boundaries of fiction and nonfiction as it follows a teen's explorations of self-discovery and awakening (a process that evolved well into adulthood) on a level that embraces both psychological and sociological awareness and evolution.
beginning, S. Yerucham's ability to move beyond staid prose to a
of descriptive prowess exhibits the ability to draw readers into a
may at first seem ordinary, but fulfills its promise of attraction in
extraordinary ways. For example:
"If you desire any kind
of unity of
soul or mind, then the consequences of drug experiments must be
particularly the ones in which you wander around physically and
further scattering your tangled mind...The greatest rebellion is to
feel for yourself; awkward displays of chaos and self-destruction are
spectacles which weaken true inner freedom. Many sadly believe it
embrace one's desires and fulfill them. However, what is truly natural
human beings is to use the power of reflection to discern whether the
and/or fulfillment of each desire is in the long term or even short
destructive for oneself or others."
As the protagonist
embarks on physical and
mental journeys that move from Indiana to India, his nomadic life
between madness and enlightenment, carrying readers along for a heady
involves more than a memoir or even fictional road trip alone could
As he takes resolute
steps, as a student,
into "consuming anarchy," the narrator deconstructs his life and its
driving forces, entering into an effort of rebirth that charts new
realizations which intersect between world experience and mindful
At this point, it
should be cautioned that True
Stories of the Philosophical Theater is no light-hearted road trip or world-hopping
romp. It represents a
deep and thought-provoking special brand of social, psychological,
and philosophical reflection that deserves a reader's committed time to
slowly and effectively.
short reads that extend the already-formidable length of this journey
800 pages), the deceptively simple portrait of a young man who abandons
academic pursuits for bohemian lifestyles and explorations includes
levels of inspection that will provoke and drive readers to reconsider
own growth processes.
particular take on reality to social sins, communal views and values,
infusion of new experiences which each serve to break down traditions
accepted worldviews, Yerucham moves through a self-imposed exile
overseas to reveal the foundations of transformation which move the
new places and homes that continually challenge his mindset.
Readers along for this
anticipate no easy flow of logical connections, but a
of experiences that speak with equal power and bows to obsessions,
transformations in mind and body," and shifting academic philosophical
The stories in this
movement. Thus, they should be read in their entirety, not skimmed, as
flow and progression are one of the strong points of this collection.
At many points, the
spiritual insights also
spark pause for thought:
sense, a smooth holy life (or any life, for that matter) is a handicap
These pauses may also
give rise to
discussion points in book club and group settings on various levels of
spiritual, philosophical, and psychological debate. The narrator's
many paths in the course of his journey lends well to similar,
rich realizations on the parts of analytical readers.
In a nutshell, True
Stories of the Philosophical Theater represents a transgression of traditional thinking,
allowing readers to
enter into realms of higher-level processing of experiences that, on
surface, represent road trips but, more deeply, reflect the heart of
readers seeking a story that crosses the line between fictional drama
nonfiction memoir, using discovery and revelation as the heartbeat of
attraction and growth, will find True
Stories of the Philosophical Theater a compendium of
experience. It deserves a deep attention to detail and reflection for
multifaceted themes, from masculine and feminine influences to the Yin
of attachments that grow, challenge, and contrast opportunities and
anticipate such journeys from children of the sixties. S.
Yerucham demonstrates, here, that children of different generations can
shatter the doctrines and illusions of established thought to arrive at
realizations and truths that empower life and craft different visions
Return to Index
The Geranium Deaths
Creative James Media
Alex McKenna & The
introduces adult genres and
topics for mature teens, blending paranormal developments into a murder
in engaging story of intrigue and discovery.
story's opening lines:
"Alex held Margaret, his
arm hand pressing her head
shoulder. His breath brushed across her ear. “Don’t look, no matter
hear. That’s how it gets you.” All the other victims had turned to ice.
couldn’t understand why, but the rules didn’t apply to him. None of the
deceased were family, so maybe that was his armor. His family history
his brother and escape. To do that, he has to bait the creature that
them. And time is running out.
up the temperature on her young adult story to 'hot', issuing a
intrigue and adult themes that follow the efforts of transgender teen
McKenna to help lost souls move on from the living world. His ability
them and lend a helping hand makes him a bridge between more than one
but when a series of murders begins to plague his neighborhood, Alex
to be the only stop gate between a legacy of death and the future of
pile up, Alex comes to realize that his choices, his legacy, and his
role require new abilities and possibilities he'd never envisioned for
between paranormal and murder mystery is heightened by the slow truths
emerge about Alex's heritage, his talents, and his unique position.
these insights with character development that features tantalizing
to look deeper.
looking close enough."
As the wills
purposes of spirit and corporeal worlds clash, Alex becomes the pivot
personal and paranormal struggles, forcing him to pursue secrets that
the identity of a vengeful spirit.
craft a powerful story that unfolds mystery and discovery on different
of personal and paranormal confrontation results in a novel rich in
and a satisfying mix of strong characterization and intrigue.
and libraries catering to them (as well as many an adult) will find
drive, personality, and life as compelling as his extraordinary ability
connect with the unseen and help others overcome hate and fear so that
cross over to better circumstances ... much as he does in his own life.
Return to Index
Creative James Media
Apprentices in Magic
opens with a legend
of promise that permeates
a war-weary country—that two peasant children will eventually bring
prosperity to the land.
be Annette and Laila, friends who
were delivered on the same
night, who harbor not dreams of saving anyone, but learning how to
wield their magical
they are offered apprenticeships at Paduane’s royal magical academy,
they are excited
until assignments at the school separate them, driving them into
directions of education and magical deployment.
themselves in the promise of magic as well as their individual growth,
and Laila find their habits and purposes challenged as studies,
and progress takes its tool on their perspectives of the world.
illustrates how these two friends become not only apprentices in magic,
apprentices in learning about life, politics, and how their special
grow to affect their prospects for the future. The mission the girls
upon eventually proves to be one that is even more important than
training and predictions.
how the girls grow different personalities and abilities, tackle
both together and independently, and move from apprenticeships to more
roles in life.
As the two
sacrifices and sorrow, they continue to build upon the foundations of
possibilities that are supported by the strong friendship between them
connections made by their disparate powers.
their dual confrontation with monsters and war. These turn their
into a series of extraordinary confrontations that quickly flow outside
usual progression of a magical education.
compelling story that moves from political and social situations to
relationship- and power-building efforts as seamlessly as the two girls
new maturity and abilities.
stories of magical confrontation and self-discovery embedded firmly in
foundations of powerful female role models and friends will welcome Apprentices in Magic's ability to evolve
mystery, possible romance, and healing opportunities in one powerful
Return to Index
$16.99 Hardcover/$12.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Bold & Brave
presents the picture
book story of autistic Lily,
who wants to sing solo in the school's choir show, but eschews both the
and audience attention. She even has a new outfit to lend her courage;
alas—her boldness is still lacking. How can Lily perform when she has
worries and fears?
autistic, "sometimes the world overwhelms her." Polka dots give her
courage, but she must wear the choir uniform like everyone else.
intervene to show Lily how she can gain courage anyway as the story
through Lily's rising and falling fears. The result is a realistic
story of the
waves of opportunity and struggles Lily feels in the course of stepping
her role and courage.
More so than
books about performance, courage, or autism, Bold
& Brave embraces a range of feelings, explains and
explores them, and creates a tale that lends to deeper understanding in
readers; especially when read-aloud adults participate in discussions.
who choose this book for the young will find it holds many
exploring the foundations of courage and understanding, couched in
thought-provoking language and experiences that are easy for all ages
Return to Index
$24.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
in the Children of Light series title Darkness
Rising reflects a classic confrontation between darkness and
light, with a
difference: the Universe is adding wisdom in the middle of its portent
"As the Darkness crept
further and further into the
humanity, the Light turned in desperation to the Universe and begged
help...“The Darkness is rising,” the Universe warned. “Every day it
stronger, and with each human soul it destroys, you will become weaker.
the light is extinguished from the last human soul on Earth, you will
exist. The heart of the earth will stop beating; its lands will blacken
A gift and a
chance arrive in the form of a new Consciousness, but the Universe
gift with a cautionary note:
“If you destroy the
Darkness, you will also destroy
yourself. Both are
an intrinsic part of the fabric of life; each exists only because the
force exists. Without both, there is nothing. You must learn to accept
existence of the Darkness, to understand it and then to navigate a path
not only the struggle but its underlying importance is thus set forth
prologue that will attract both young adult and adult readers into the
with the promise of bigger-picture thinking.
introduction, all readers will view the unfolding events and trials
added value of a philosophical approach to classic confrontations that
spark thought and book club debate among readers that follow the
the Darkness, Light, and beyond.
Universe's gift lays in young adult Lightworkers Aurora, Aaron, and
embody the power and represent the ability to transcend physical
boundaries to come into their powers and destinies.
unresolved grief to hold a soul and expose it to the Darkness to
souls that receive the new Consciousness and escape the dark demons,
Earle weaves a gripping fantasy that goes beyond the classic
confrontation to probe the necessity and benefits of alliances with and
struggles between both.
revelations reflect the higher-level thinking of many an adult
philosophical assessment. These can be as wide-ranging as psychic Jane
and Seth's The Nature of Personal Reality or as
close to home as a
psychologist's assessment of the long-ranging impact of grief. These
intellectual challenges come wrapped in a veneer of action and
is completely compelling, presenting adventure in a very different
than most genre fans may be used to.
appreciate the insights and messages embedded in these encounters and
“Everything . . . every
person, every situation,
even every thought,
feeling, and emotion we have has a resonant frequency. Think of
if they were hundreds of highways running parallel to each other. You
choose to switch to another highway, or you can convince yourself that
the only way for you and you don’t have the power to change it. Your
become your reality, and you will indeed have no power to change it. A
frequency will attract other negative people, situations, and
it along its route, so in essence, a person existing at a negative
will likely always be in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time.’ Unlucky
will keep happening to them because that is what they expect to happen;
are resonating at that frequency.”
as it is
to receive a fantasy wrapped in energetic healing and new age thought,
ability to personalize these experiences translates ideas to actions,
and insights that can be absorbed by a broader age range than usual.
in Darkness Rising is a story that
transcends its own age-connected interpretation of a young adult
fantasy to appeal
to a much broader range of readers who will find its action based on
thought-provoking realizations about the nature of good, evil, reality,
clubs will find the story packed with fodder for discussion.
Return to Index
Rey U. Barrera
adults receive surprisingly few
leisure stories featuring strong Hispanic protagonists, but El Piñatero - The Legend of Simon Alejandro
De La Peña fills the
mature teens. It blends folklore and history with a fictional action
adds mystery to the story of a Latino struggling to realize his dreams.
embedded into Simon-Alejandro's
story provides readers with engrossing surveys of family and Latino
traditions. The plot originated as a movie mockumentary idea, and then
practically wrote itself as this book.
initial screenplay into a novel when COVID struck, Rey
U. Barrera bases some of his characters on real people as he spins
the yarn of La Piñata Brava, an outlawed sport that produced a
Simon's small family
incorporates many warm
facets that are presented in this story, from a proclivity towards
exaggerations to family tales used to impart lessons to the young.
family interactions and friendly jabs power a story as firmly rooted in
connections as it is in an evolving mystery that drives Simon to
his dreams and nightmares.
Would he turn away an
adventure? Of course not. Neither will he pass on a chance to realize
piñata pulling to become more than just a hobby that didn’t pay much.
people that made a living by creating professional-grade piñatas and
someone like him: someone who was ridiculed by his friends and family
thinking that a living could be made from pulling piñatas."
YAs who choose this
story for its Hispanic
roots won't be disappointed, but readers needn't be Latino in order to
understand and appreciate the story's roots—nor its attraction as Simon
new challenges on the cusp of adulthood at age eighteen, yet still
his abilities and future.
discussions about bullying,
fighting, and cultural understanding all come into play as El Piñatero unfolds a special blend of drama, action, and
psychological insights. Simon's struggle to reconcile elements of his
life with his small family's interactions also provides key moments of
and inspection. These drive the plot as much as his ambitions.
looking for novels which are steeped in Hispanic traditions and flavor,
accessible to all ethic groups, and spin a story replete with moving
the awkwardness of new relationships with self and others will find El
Piñatero - The Legend of Simon Alejandro De La Peña a
that is hard to easily categorize and just as difficult to put down.
Return to Index
Will Love You
Forever and Always
Sarah M. Thomas Mariano
978-1646068319 $17.99 Hardcover/$12.99 Paper
I Will Love You Forever and Always offers an unusual
blend of whimsy and
emotion-driven connection that will particularly appeal to read-aloud
seeking a different vision of love and sharing.
Mariano's fantasy, blended with real-world attraction, creates a story
I have sparkly, spectacular
days. We shimmy down waterslides, eat strawberry shortcake and have
fights sprayed from our trunks."
sense of fun
is furthered in colorful illustrations by Sarah Gledhill, who brings to
the message of sharing, unconditional love, and changing life
that may revise settings, but never erodes the underlying love
between parent and child.
animals and their interactions are displayed as the message of ongoing
tough days too. Sometimes, we will
disagree and argue. You might shout, “You’re the worst alligator mom in
Or, your dad will snap at you for not cleaning up your muddy swamp
the diversity of the story and the varied conditions under which love
tested, but also solidifies an ongoing message that translates well
only revised situations, but diverse families.
will love you
forever and always" is the
ongoing litany of this uplifting
story. It's one that comes to life in a picture book that promotes
engaging conversations, and positive insights and dialogue between
Return to Index
Monster Ivy Publishing
9781955060172 $16.99 Paper/$24.99 Hardcover
wouldn’t take his sixteen-year-old
to visit a murder victim,' I say.
'A normal daughter wouldn’t be able to talk to the dead.'
He has a point."
Musical is a compelling teen
mystery and supernatural affair that spices a
sense of intrigue with unusual discoveries. These elements combine with
sense of humor that lends comic relief to the very serious subject of
Orleans teen detective CeCe
LeBlanc's unusual talents and detections.
delves into the world of high drama and secret lives in a manner that
attract and hold the attentions of teens looking for stories that don't
fit into set expectations and developments.
discovers that her two very different worlds collide in unusual ways
is drawn into circumstances that test her drama and performance
well as her equally powerful investigative skills.
paints surprising portraits along the way as the story evolves, from
passive-aggressive posturing and relationship quandaries to the special
challenges of fielding a peculiar form of icy magic and reconciling it
own objectives and talents.
know with what you’re
experiencing will be hard."
Cece's evolutionary process takes place on different levels, from romantic interests and attractions to the danger in a charge to both catch a killer and resolve the relationship challenges in her life.
blend of modern fantasy, thriller, mystery, and psychological
development in a
story that defies pat genre classification. It features an appealing
to detailed character and plot developments that read with the
drama of a play and the astute psychological depth of a work immersed
Musical's ability to evolve its
own special flavors of attraction makes it an
appealing leisure read. CeCe loves drama. Hibbert does, too. The
of drama and intrigue flavors a story that proves hard to predict or
as CeCe navigates challenging physical and psychic worlds.
teen readers seeking stories that don't conform to predictable
build their tension from solid action and discovery, will find Necromancy
the Musical a hit.
Return to Index
978-0995994249 $12.99 Paper/$7.99 ebook
of Crows contains all the
trappings of an attractive
middle-grade read: mystery
and secrets, prophecies and challenging family drama, and a strange
that leads two children to struggle with their revised roles in life.
One of the
Arcanium series opens with an action-packed dilemma:
plowed frantically through the
dark undergrowth, gasping with every breath. Branches clawed at his
hands and snagged on his clothes, but he barely noticed them. He needed
home. By the Goddesses, how could he have been so careless? He’d only
trying to do the right thing—to help an injured man. How was he
have known that the man was a Siershasai’dan freedom fighter? Emperor
Blackthorn had declared them enemies of Arcania, and anyone caught
any kind of assistance to them was also considered a traitor and dealt
accordingly. It was an automatic death sentence, not just for the
but for that person’s entire family."
featured in the book's title appear early in the action to add portents
and participation into the saga. The tale centers on twelve-year-old
concurrent struggle with his emerging powers and the impact of new
enemies that introduce situations he'd never encountered before.
important secret mission to a legacy Ty must step up to (even though
information to him), N.P. Thompson weaves a compelling tale in which
heroes and flawed characters alike are challenged to make adult
"even though they are just kids."
heightened by the psychological growth challenges and relationship
between the young people and those who inhabit and influence this
world. Seemingly-adult complex scenarios extract extra problem-solving
abilities from each young character:
do we even
start…?' Ty already felt defeated
by the scope of their task. How were they ever going to find what they
in this mess? They had to find someone who dealt in illicit spells and
who knew how to get into the Citadel undetected. And they had to do it
triggering anyone’s suspicions, without attracting the attention of the
Guard, and without getting themselves killed by the criminals they were
to have to talk to in order to get what they wanted."
of Crows is a compelling fantasy
backed by an avian army
and the shifting
intentions and perceptions of young people forced into unpredictable
situations. It will delight middle grade readers (and older) who will
blend of action, growth, and fantasy to be riveting and hard to put
Return to Index
$9.99 paperback/$6.99 ebook/ $9.99 audiobook
Earthling turns ideas of aliens,
humans, and pets upside down as it presents the
story of a human boy who grows up being alien Zira's pet, but then
wonder about his origins.
elementary to middle-grade readers will find Rolo's story a compelling
the usual pet or alien fantasy when Rolo's self-inspection is sparked
animal rights protest:
he had never really wondered
why he was a pet. All his life, he had been a pet. And all the other
too. And all the generations before them, and before them. But was it
that way? Why did no one ever talk about that? Was it a secret?"
unfolds as Rolo escapes, uncovers the truth about his origins and
then faces some difficult decisions about how he wants to live.
mission to find her pet before the earthling-catchers do, Zira finds
and perspective changed, as well, by her relationship with Rolo and the
of his world.
an intriguing adventure, while illustrator Sofia Komarenko peppers the
with colorful embellishments to add further value and attraction to the
engaging, creative tale.
his past reveals many thought-provoking questions about animals, pets,
and wrongs that will also lend to important discussions in classrooms
between adults and kids.
readers won't want to miss Rolo's adventures. They are heartwarming,
the Leash!” He
looked up wistfully at the bright
star, the one he imagined was Earth. He now felt foolish to think he
there. Earth might not be real. Or it might be an awful place. And how
even get there? Or find it? He had gotten his hopes up for nothing. And
didn’t even know about Earth until today, so why was it suddenly so
Return to Index
979-8-89132-013-0 $15.00 paperback/Hardcover price TBD
Beginning pairs lovely color
illustrations with the enchanting story of a
toymaker who reinvents the holiday season. It is filled with elements
entire family can enjoy and appreciate, from the presence of angelic
and magic to the forces that lead to Santa's first global trip on
in the 1800s with the origins of Rudolph Stern Toys and two budding
orphan carvers whose creations and skills lead them to become adopted
home and trade.
presents a straightforward, attractive atmosphere as the story of their
unfolds: "Rudolph Stern introduced Benjamin Timmons and John
to the world of toy making. They would become toy makers
and lessons about values over money, ability, and economics are
the tale, creating rich discussion points that adults will find
young listeners thought-provoking.
evolving magical abilities to the personal connections that keep
intention, and realizations growth-oriented, Santa Claus: The
creates a thoroughly delightful tale that proves inviting, magical, and
embedded with important values and considerations.
especially highly recommended for family pursuit and enjoyment, but
for libraries seeking special books that move from picture book status
involved adventure that feature the ability to attract all ages.
Readers find Santa
Claus: The Beginning the perfect item of choice for an
acquisition that holds lessons for year-round enlightenment.
Return to Index
The Sunscreaming Summer
Dr. Tamara Lazic Strugar
$25.99 Hardcover/$15.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Sunscreaming Summer is a graphic
novel with a health message
about summer fun, skin care, and cloudy days. Toeing the line between a
book and a graphic novel, this chapter book follows kids on their
holiday, reviewing the winning game of being "sun smart" in their
Strugar doesn't just focus on physical health. From a too-pale father
ghostly countenance may mean he's swallowed a spirit to a boy who is
too many things, her tale of summer fun embraces a broader spectrum of
adventures and interpersonal relationships to portray kids who tackle
and mental health issues alike.
engaging art supplements the story of kids' summer interactions and how
Lazic is called upon to help one sunburned child.
cream sundaes, and skin care usually don't intersect in kids' books. Skinventurez:
The Sunscreaming Summer is a study in childhood adventure
several important messages about relationships and self-care.
blend of chapter book, graphic novel, and picture book story will
readers on more than one level, earning it recommendation for
libraries and readers looking for a blend of entertainment and
Return to Index
Eugene M. Gagliano
Crystal Publishing LLC
Snap follows a
experience of his dream
holiday turned nightmare when he becomes involved with Cody, who
secret that endangers them both.
On the run
everything familiar, Jace Johnson finds that accusations of an
imagination have come true as his visions of danger and intrigue turn
out to be
far too real.
receive a thriller-style story, but Eugene M. Gagliano excels in
same nonstop action and heart-pausing moments in Snap
as many a young adult or adult receives in writings tailored
for older readers.
with and studies of nature and his introduction to a Washington
from his Wyoming roots are only a few of the many background elements
in the story and give it a sense of place. The truth about Cody which
revealed early in the story lends it both intrigue and psychological
facing down crazy adults. Nor is he familiar with those who aren't
kidnapping and violence. These and his own drive to stay brave and
the face of impossible choices and confrontations make for a riveting
that middle grade readers will find a compelling survival saga.
adventure-based, action-packed tales that incorporate the allure of a
but embed bigger-picture thinking into the plot will find Snap an appealing story of courage and
survival. It also will serve
well for middle grade discussion groups about all kinds of
dilemmas and responses that require stepping up into survival mode.
Return to Index
Wild Rose Press
978-1509252350 $17.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
mother dies and she goes to live with her great-grandmother and
Ted at Stonebridge Manor, she soon comes to suspect that a ghost is
the place—possibly that of her mother's murdered cousin. But the
specter of a
spirit is overshadowed by a romance which evolves between her and
Wyatt, who courts her with a promise of marriage and love.
friendship with Ted, deals with unanswered questions about Jason, and
a chilling feeling that accompanies what should be a happy engagement,
relationships and spirit possibilities heat up.
adept at cultivating both ghostly encounters and psychological tension
story evolves. These elements will attract YA readers with a special
intrigue and romantic realizations.
astute and thought-provoking insights into the legacy of child abuse
that play out between generations, which will encourage discussions in
clubs catering to mature teens and new adults alike.
changes in the course of the story whose initial draw as a ghost tale
into something much more thought-provoking; as driven by the emotional
developments between characters as it is by puzzles of the past which
and influence them.
legacies that transmit within families and between generations are
"He had told her abused
children became child
beloved children grow up to be loving parents?"
understand Ted on a deeper level, even as she becomes a wife and
Griffin crafts a tale that is alluring on many different levels.
consider Stonebridge for mature YA
readers, it also will appeal to adults attracted to stories of
discovery, and genetic predispositions and growth, tempered by a legacy
ghostly encounters and the interpretation and action of risk-taking.
Return to Index
Tale of the Animals'
Christmas in Crouch End
who choose The
Tale of the Animals' Christmas in Crouch End will find a
holiday fable as
appropriate for adult read-aloud as for individual pursuit.
animals of Crouch End in
North London have not
celebrated Christmas before, but when unusual rains lead to changes,
them is to acknowledge the Christmas season in a special animal way.
a disparate blend of
animals wild and domestic, from
magpies and squirrels to cats, band together to discern the puzzling
this human holiday, they contribute not just insights but their own
approaches to celebrations to create a multifaceted experience.
begins as a simple
assignment (Rufus Fox hires Marvin
Mole & Sons to
repair his flooded home) turns into an exploration of what People do
some of these rituals and approaches to life may be fine-tuned to bring
animal world together.
Lee creates an unusual
focus and take on the
typical Christmas holiday book for kids, adopting a lively focus that
an unusual blend of fairy tale magic and Christmas insights and secrets
animals move from incomprehension of human behavior to realizing that,
maybe, They have tapped into an
important secret that has (until now) eluded the animal kingdom.
So's fun, colorful
illustrations pepper the story,
which is too complex to be called a simple picture book read but too
attractive to be limited to older readers alone.
acknowledges that there is much to
discover about the holiday and its processes, and his concerns lend
particularly well to adult read-aloud discussions with the very young:
into his fireplace, sipped the last of his wine, and looked down at his
ascot and finer waistcoat. He liked both very much but knew they
‘something more’ he wanted to understand."
Tale of the
Animals' Christmas in Crouch End will prove an attraction for
catering to young readers, but is especially recommended for family
it spins a fine London-steeped yarn that explores fairy magic, Father
and the deeper points of the holiday season.
Return to Index
Richard R. Becker
$29.95Hardcover/$16.99 Paper/$8.95 ebook/$17.99 Audio
In Third Wheel,
struggles to fit in to the desert city of Las Vegas, where he is lucky
to have a few good friends. The trouble lies in location. This Mob-run
filled with drugs and illicit activities, and Brady's best friend's
Alex is a pusher operating an illicit business under the very nose of
father, in their own house. Dangerous times, indeed, as Brady must
good and bad guys to find his own place in this mercurial world.
Richard R. Becker
creates a moving story of
shifting friendships buffeted by drugs, booze, and influences that
Brady to make decisions about his place not only in his circle of
the wider world.
The social influences
and impacts of
conformity shape Brady's choices starkly, early in the story:
out was that I was lying on my back in my best friend's yard, and he
offering me a hand up as he did from the pool. He looked at me with a
expression, somewhere between disappointment and pity...We had been
friends for closing in on three years, and it never occurred to me that
might change. But something had changed. Maybe Alex wasn't a third
much as I was anymore. Or maybe that's the way Alex wanted me to feel
leaving me out on the collection visit. It was hard to know."
The connections between
Las Vegas's milieu
and Brady's coming of age are particularly notable, reflective of the
of influences most urban areas hold as young people come of age and
it was all about in Las Vegas. You were on the inside or the outside,
and I was
always on the inside with a gram of confidence and an ounce of doubt."
In a nutshell, this
insiders and outsiders drives a story in which a young man must make
about where he stands, influenced by best friends and newcomers who too
move from outsiders to influencers.
As adult concerns
ranging from murder to
missing evidence surface, Brady is ever more challenged to find a
place in the world and make better decisions that will affect not just
relationships, but his future.
From the values gleaned
from the Church of
Satan which are adapted to fit individual objectives to chosen friends
those which simply assume positions of power and influence, Becker
story that rests firmly on many different types of moves as his parents
help and Brady finds that the social influences in Nevada follow him
When tragedy strikes,
it matters not his
locale or his relationships—Brady is forced to take a hard look at
of friendships and actions that sometimes prove irreversible.
process, Becker writes with a passionate, descriptive hand that pulls
adults into Brady's emotions, responses, and choices:
them just looked at me like I was a freshly lit fireworks fountain on
Fourth of July. Everybody knows something will happen as the tiny coil
glows, but there is a hesitation when nobody knows exactly what kind of
fireworks it might be. Will it be a small ribbon of lights buzzing
bees, a wailing siren that forces you to press your palms to your ears,
explosion that makes younger kids tuck their heads in the nearest lap?
It was a
dud. When one of the officers apologized, I sat on the floor in front
I didn't scream or cry or explode. I just quietly surrendered and
This kind of writing
doesn't just craft a
coming-of-age saga, but holds the power to immerse readers in deeper
social inspection that connect individual perception and values to
bigger-picture thinking about crime, justice, and redemption.
Everyone wants to help
when death rears. Few, however, understand the depths of pain which can
from a seemingly privileged life. This sends Brady on journeys far from
upbringing, accompanied by friends who each face their own trials of
individualism and empowerment.
The multifaceted nature
of these struggles,
insights on friendships and hard choices, and the nature of intrigue
spins a story of lies and truths makes for a standout in YA literature
also will serve as a powerful discussion point for YA book clubs
titles about growth and relationships.
Libraries and readers
complex tales of outsiders and insiders will find Third Wheel
Return to Index
Kristin A. Oakley
979-8-9878703-2-7 $13.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Book 2 of The Devil
Particle series, The
Vessel, opens with teen narrator
Paul's revelation that, due to his choices, life will never again be
"I have all the world’s
evil inside me, and I’ve
brother. This can’t be good."
was designed to place control of the entire world's evil in one body.
containing the devil particles, Paul questions his abilities and
contest that has cost him so much more than he'd anticipated.
covered his competition with nearly fifty others and the extraordinary
Paul put forth to win this desirable contest. Much in the manner of The Hunger Games, however, his
competition, survival, and ultimate success are only part of the
story, which continues here.
candidate for the job actually come out on top? Paul is living proof
only is this a fact, but his continuing eligibility for being the most
brave of all is not necessarily the actual requirement for the job. As
from the horrors of what he has done to the actuality of containing the
particles, Paul's transition includes new realizations about his
that affect both his worldview and his relationships:
"What got into me? Did I
really talk Oscar into
doing what I
wanted him to do? Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard. This new ability
manipulate is exciting and a little scary—it’s a power I shouldn’t take
responsibilities are realizations that test Paul's belief in the Vessel
Project, his family connections, and the changing attitudes that come
being able to command anyone around him to do anything.
seems so happy. His father confesses that life without his brother
with it its own ongoing sadness. So why isn't Paul mourning like those
adds new moral, ethical, and psychological dimensions to Paul's ongoing
in The Vessel. As a powerful
container, Paul discovers that power comes with a price tag. Although
physical and mental abilities have been heightened, Paul admits that "Sometimes it’s hard for me to wait for
people to catch up." If they ever will.
has proved both a wild success and a failure in ways Paul and his
anticipate. This gives the story the added value of not just surprise,
but a closer
inspection of the moral and ethical guidelines which direct and
deepest questions humans have about purpose and their lives:
"People still seek God,
don’t they?" I ask.
"Of course. Cancer, MS, Parkinson’s, and dementia endure.
Poverty still exists for those who are down on their luck, mentally ill, or don’t apply themselves, though new services are provided every day. People pray for riches and love. People praise God every day for sending you. But after Asher’s death, it all seems so pointless."
The point is
between finding his personal path and stepping into a greater
Paul has sacrificed something that's irreplacable. YA readers who have
the action, objectives, and sentiments Paul revealed in The
Devil Particle will find his ongoing saga compelling. As
there are no easy answers to his calling or its actual incarnation.
just part of the prize. The real challenge lies in wielding power and
understanding its ultimate impact and influence on the world.
seeking a compelling extension of The Devil
Particle in a second book that continues to expand the nature
growth in a Big Bang of unexpected results will find The
Vessel a powerfully compelling sequel that confronts
truth, and a president's ultimate lies about the cancer affecting the
Return to Index
Wedge of Fear
Eugene M. Gagliano
Crystal Publishing, LLC
978-1-942624-81-3 $9.95 Paper/$2.99 ebook
family survivors must pick up the pieces, often moving far from their
established comfort zones to do so. In Wedge
of Fear, Tony's loss of his brother motivates the family to
move from the
East Coast to Wyoming.
of making new friends, facing bullies, and environmental changes are
additional family challenges with another death that leads his father
question his ability to hold his family together.
outside challenge to not just his family, but the entire town, for a
how a six-grader evolves into his own abilities and strengths against
does a fine job of addressing and contrasting the fears of both adults
children in this new milieu: "...his
stomach tightened at the thought of attending a new school. What if the
didn’t like him? What if they made fun of him because he was from New
Could he take care of himself?"
Gagliano also provides contrasts between urban and rural Wyoming interests as Tony makes new discoveries and, most of all, faces the special challenge of solving his own situations rather than relying on the adults around him to do so for him.
steps up to
help his family during crisis, he develops mature reactions to hardship
never had before.
contrast action with adversity, reviewing the process of maturity that
Tony's new skills in dealing with the world, translates to a read that
realistic and thought-provoking.
seeking a blend of action and astute psychological insights will find Wedge of Fear enlightening,
compassionate, and revealing as Tony moves through unfamiliar territory
matters of the heart to discover new facts about himself and those
Libraries will want to include this story in any collection appealing to young leisure readers that emphasize personal growth and empowerment at the middle grade level.Wedge of Fear
Return to Index