October 2018 Review Issue
978-1983520877 $13.99 paper/$4.99 Kindle
The Separation is set in the distant future where the sexes have been separated for the greater good of society and financial success. Finn is born into a world where he knows nothing about females for most of his early life (males and females are separated by gender for the first 22 years of their lives, which both solves and creates problems). Sent away to one of the country's 'boy states', he grows up feeling the world is a little strange; that something is missing, and perhaps he's being lied to.
As he grows up, moves into new and interesting experiences at college, and begins to learn some hard truths about life (one of them being that human beings are created by human beings), he feels lied to ("...but that's the world, isn't it?"), confused about the two sexes, and challenged by both his unfamiliarity with and attraction to women.
As he embarks on a relationship that gives him a son and many more puzzles to solve, Finn struggles with career, women, and the notion of finding happiness in life. From tackling selfishness and rules with consequences more dire than murder to the origins and social control of separation laws that not only control societies but change individual pursuits, psyches, and abilities, The Separation addresses some difficult questions as Finn navigates a world which both blossoms and constricts as he learns about its real boundaries, origins, and limitations.
Readers of sci-fi who like social justice issues imbedded in their stories will enjoy following the thought-provoking revelations experienced by Finn. For some reason, when all else fails, Finn still wants to survive this surprisingly dangerous world.
A strong dose of social and political insights combines with a powerfully-presented story that pairs a coming-of-age atmosphere with a series of questions that cause Finn and his readers to rethink social norms, historical decisions, personal choices and consequences, and the ultimate connections between social structure, daily life, the pursuit of happiness and satisfaction, and an overriding rule that changes everything.
Readers who like social reflection sci-fi such as The Handmaid's Tale will find Finn's journey less harrowing in some ways but quietly evocative and compelling as it follows him through the pitfalls of a medicated, disciplined, controlled life where people are born to work and sex drive is suppressed and regulated for the greater good.The Separation
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They Left Us
Old Road Publishing
978-1-7322845-0-0 (paperback) $14.99
978-1-7322845-2-4 (hardcover) $24.99
978-1-7322845-1-7 (e-book) $7.99
Before They Left Us is the story of Midwestern artist Rosemary Davis and her move to San Francisco, where she takes on the dual challenges of a blossoming political awareness and facing an entirely different culture from the one she grew up with.
Before They Left Us captures the basics of intersecting one's traditional, familiar life and ways with an entirely new milieu, but it also commands attention to San Francisco's own evolution, as well, as Davis faces the ravages of AIDS in the community, the assassination of gay supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone, and the vast differences between her Catholic Wisconsin roots and San Francisco's culture.
Davis is precise in her depiction of this world and her newfound place in it, bringing to life the times and community that sweep her into its passions and politics: "Surrounding me on the program cover were hundreds of men—black men, bearded men, men with shirts opened to their navels, Asian men in corduroy jackets. Men who were hugging, men sporting carefree smiles and leather, Chicano men standing next to lesbian couples, men with curly mop tops and those with receding hairlines, older men, men in sunglasses with big hats or middle-aged with serious expressions—they were all there. I was their comrade, and I knew what they said was important for me to hear because, in the end, this had become my world."
she details neighborhoods from the Castro to the Mission and chooses
individuals to depict that represent some of the vast changes she
Davis recreates a portrait of some of the City's most volatile years
the eyes and personas of real people who represent much of its
happens when she's absorbed these lessons and is ready to leave San
to bring them back home, against all odds, makes for compelling
indeed, blending autobiography with social inspection in a lively and
Anyone interested in San Francisco's modern history from the perspective of one who lived through its AIDS crisis, the rise of ACT UP, and more will find no better way of absorbing this era than through Rosemary Davis's perspective: that of an outsider turned insider who must process many new experiences and thoughts in a clash between California culture and her own Midwest upbringing.
It is 7am in the
One anticipates, from the autobiography of a blossoming professor committed to teaching aspiring young doctors, that this account will focus on physician growth and patient treatments, but one surprise of It is 7am in the Cardiac Ward is its focus on philosophy and the underlying motivations and concepts that lend not just to being a doctor, but to being a more effective one: "Put on the patient’s shoes; only then will you feel and understand your patient, and that will make you a better doctor than anyone else you might have ever known.”
This focus is a fine thread that runs through the experiences presented in It is 7am in the Cardiac Ward, lending it a vivid immediacy and set of insights not seen in other medical autobiographies.
Kamal Malaker reflects on the last three years of his nine-years at the Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica; but when he winds up on the other side of the desk accepting treatments that could end his life, his narrative assumes a dual perspective. It discusses not just options for survival, but the process of presenting and making life-altering choices. In this case, the cardiac ward serves as the backdrop for these deliveries and revelations.
This is the second strength to It is 7am in the Cardiac Ward: as a medical teacher turns patient and brings his special brand of knowledge and philosophical perspective into play, readers are treated to an account that goes beyond detailing treatments and their impacts, revealing many insights not usually seen in the course of traditional medical exposés: "The slow dietary intolerance is mostly hidden, unrecognized and undertreated, resulting in various chronic illnesses, including bowel, blood and bone diseases. Diets are linked to cancer and heart diseases, the two biggest killers in general worldwide."
From handling forced
unemployment to coming to grips with changes to family and personal
survey offers a rare glimpse into not just the physical changes and
involved in regaining cardiac health, but its impact on underlying
values and approaches to life: "I
feel it was a blessing that I got sick and was grounded for a very long
out of my schedules, my routine, rounds, clinics, research, presenting,
publishing, teaching and directing research, all almost at the same
loved the life I had, but my family did not."
The blend of personal, professional, and medical insights specific to a cardiac condition makes for a powerful story that is especially recommended to new cardiac patients who will find much food for thought, both psychologically and medically, in the experiences of a medical professor who has walked the path of recovery and faced major issues both particular to cardiac conditions and related to lifestyle change. Of particular note are the insights on how aspiring doctors can cultivate empathy and fulfillment into a hectic lifestyle filled with life-or-death decisions and the kinds of treatments and choices that prompt widespread changes on all sides.
It is 7am in the Cardiac Ward is very highly recommended for its wider-reaching insights in comparison to the usual doctor/patient discovery autobiography.It is 7am in the Cardiac Ward
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The South Side of
Chicago's Glass Wall
Dr. Naomi Cooper Ro’berson
Dr. Ro'berson grew up on the south side of Chicago in the 1950s in a family with ten siblings, facing rising racial tensions in her neighborhood throughout her childhood. The South Side of Chicago's Glass Wall documents both her life and the rise of these struggles, serving as a microcosm of American racial experience and social change from the 1950s through the 60s and beyond.
The first thing to note about The South Side of Chicago's Glass Wall is that it doesn't just document the author's experience of racial violence; but considers the underlying history of relations between African Americans and other ethnic groups in this country. As she learns more about this history and its impact on present-day affairs, Dr. Ro'berson becomes more educated and cognizant about an undercurrent of inequality and prejudice which isn't just a relic of the past, but a daily presence creating and reinforcing splits between all Americans.
As the seventh child of eleven children, growing up in the projects, Amber was afforded a first-hand view of these struggles and this became as much a part of her education as fulfilling her professional dreams.
Another notable facet to her memoir is that it's embedded with important insights on the experiences of the poor and the resilience of her neighbors and community in response to oppressive conditions: "Alden Projects was designed for low income families. But the fact that it seemed like we were forgotten about by the rest of the world was prevalent because we were never given the equal opportunity to prosper. The housing management gave us nothing but rules and many of the residents were stuck there because they were very poor. Over time, the housing management developed a controlled environment. There was little unity among the residents, but a few them would share whatever they had with others whenever they could. One of the best traits about the neighbors was that they had the ability to make things work for them even when times were difficult. The irony of this is, many of the neighbors were genuinely nice people and when bad things happened, they would just shake it off as if nothing had happened then, move on from there. We never gave up hope! Never giving up is one of the strongest attributes of an African American."
Between childhood games, fun, and trials to early relationships and achieving goals, Dr. Ro'berson crafts a satisfying juxtaposition of personal experience and social and historical observation that goes beyond most memoirs to add an extra element of contemplation.
From the author's early work ethic ("My greatest gift was the fact that I had already established a strong “Work Ethic” because working was something that I always knew I could achieve.") to observations of local Chicago culture, The South Side of Chicago's Glass Wall holds a flare of insight and achievement that lends even the seemingly adverse conditions a positive touch, powered by the author's attitude about life.
Inspiring, revealing, and unexpectedly educational, The South Side of Chicago's Glass Wall is a special recommendation not just for readers of memoirs or African American experience; but for anyone who would understand the root causes of oppression, prejudice, and division in America. Its astute observations of racial profiling, terrorism, and modern-day capitalism's bow to slavery's legacy are nicely done and not to be missed.The South Side of Chicago's Glass Wall
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Two Minus One
She Writes Press
978-1631524547 $16.95 Paper/$9.95 Kindle
It's not uncommon to read about divorce, disillusionment, and growth in a memoir, and Two Minus One: A Memoir at first glance seems to cover familiar territory as it reviews Kathryn Taylor's experiences. But in any genre, there are titles which are standouts because of their approach, style, or experience. Two Minus One isn't your typical account of an ordinary marriage; but documents the process of surviving the failure of a remarriage that happens later in life, after retirement, and succumbs with an epic and unexpected bang, with no prior indication of trouble.
It's far different being sixty years old and facing a sudden mandate to begin again. Most stories of divorce, grief, and recovery take place at a younger age, when flexibility is greater and inherent wisdom somewhat less.
Kathryn Taylor's story of her second chance that didn't work out and its aftermath and impact later in life offers a perspective uncommon in many stories of divorce, documenting both a living story and the kind of moxie it took to write an account of a personal experience so profound that it challenged her self-image and devastated her ego.
How do two older people committed to giving marriage a second chance become so irrevocably alienated, and how does Taylor's perception of this chance turn out to be so wrong? Her description of this second marriage in the beginning captures the ideal of any union ("Of course, it wasn’t a fairy tale—no life is—but we were both giving marriage a second chance, both committed to making it last a lifetime, benefiting and enriching each of us—the icing on the cake. We communicated openly and honestly in “state of the union” discussions about health, finances, sex, plans, and dreams. We awoke each morning with smiles on our faces. Both of us were filled with gratitude for our good fortune. We had healthy and responsible grown children, good health, solid finances, no elder-care responsibilities, and the ability to shape our days and lives as we saw fit—or so I thought.").
Her husband decided, seemingly out of the blue, that her "mean spirit" was too much to take, and his decision was presented to her as a stunning 'done deal' that took her breath away: "There’s no use talking about it because it’s over, things aren’t as they were, and never will be, and mean and despicable people can’t be changed by talk, no matter who’s doing the talking.”
How there came to be such a disconnect between her perception of herself and their relationship and his experience of it makes for engrossing, revealing reading. Where most accounts of separation, divorce, and relationship issues focus on the preface or aftermath, Taylor's memoir investigates the razor-sharp words that linger in the mind and heart long after they are stated, there to fester and create distance, hurt, and anger.
From final interactions with a dying brother-in-law after the revelation of irreconcilable differences to how Taylor picked up the pieces, learned from them, and eventually moved forward, Two Minus One is filled with self-reflective lessons on relationships and individuality which offers readers more than a singular approach to divorce, grief, and growth.
Anyone facing relationship challenges and changes later in life would do well to absorb Two Minus One's heart-wrenching, inspiring experiences, which hold lessons for all. Any self-help, memoir, or psychology reader will find Two Minus One holds much food for thought and insights relatively unique to Taylor's book, which is especially striking in its note about how disasters happen: "Perhaps it is human nature that even when there are concerns, we see what we want to see and close our eyes to the rest."Two Minus One
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Avenue of Regrets
Auspicious Apparatus Press
Paper: 978-0-9966628-6-4 $14.99
Ebook: 978-0-9966628-7-1 $ 4.99
David Wallace is in jail on murder charges; but surprisingly, this becomes the least of his worries when he receives word that his family is dead. As readers fast forward through his memories of the past from the vantage point of seven years in the future (where his project, a non-profit shelter for battered women, changes lives for the better), they receive a litany of regrets which David struggles with every day.
On the seven-year anniversary of the worst mistake of his life, David reflects not only on his transgressions, but the series of events that have landed him in this time and place, facing the results of his efforts to break the cycle of abuse that controlled his childhood, promised him a better adult life, and ultimately led to disaster.
His latest challenge lies in a murder which took place in a bar and happened virtually beside side him, leaving him with a concussion and a woman dead. Disaster just seems to keep following David; but the good news is that, this time, he's not been fingered as a possible perp; only a witness—a witness in a case that seems to have no easy resolution.
Kate Larson enters his life to contribute psychic insights, and he views her as a "form of celestial lifeline." As it turns out, Kate might have information that will tackle some of the puzzles and regrets of seven years ago which led him to this place and time, and which still challenges his life.
But, Kate is a mystery, too. And she's getting David to do all the dirty work of investigating painful pasts and present-day conundrums before she succumbs to a deadly force, herself. Is she alive, or is she dead; and does her legacy and charge to David linger on as a mission and path to redemption, or a formula for disaster?
What appears a simple murder mystery turns into a plethora of bodies and puzzles as David barely navigates the turbulent waters of his life and uncovers seemingly disparate clues about his role in them.
Straddling the line between a mystery investigation and a thriller, Avenue of Regrets takes one man's challenged life and expands events beyond their initial boundaries, treading on the processes of casino mafia members, police protocol, and personal evolution all in one.
The result is a hard-hitting examination of regrets, atonement, and acknowledging sins committed and those imagined. With issues of guilt, redemption, and resolution a major part of this winding investigation into past and present ills, Avenue of Regrets represents a hard-hitting and absorbing slice of one man's life that traverses its pitfalls, potentials, and the delicate art of creating lasting recovery and a meaningful life that's ultimately well-lived.Avenue of Regrets
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A Beautiful Voice
Mason Alley Publishing
A Beautiful Voice is the sixth book in the Jake Travis thriller series. Jake's latest assignment is a smuggling job that is supposed to keep him on the sidelines while employing his special abilities. Unfortunately, his role as an auxiliary smuggler doesn't stay in the background for long, and so Jake finds himself at the center of yet another whirlwind of international intrigue.
While prior fans of Jake's adventures will be the most likely enthusiasts of his latest adventure, it should be noted that A Beautiful Voice is designed to be a stand-alone thriller and is thus quite accessible to those with no prior familiarity with the other five books in Jake's series.
One would expect such a scenario to begin, perhaps, on the beach where the subterfuge starts; but it opens with the perspective of 34-year-old family man and lawyer Stephen Cole, who is expecting his third child and whose beautiful voice fuels the Worthington United Methodist Church choir. All is well in his world, but it's is about to be turned upside down.
Mexican drug lords seem distant from this carefully successful life; but to Jake, they are never very far away. And a simple handoff job seems like a snap, given Jack's background. How these two and other lives coalesce in another story of intrigue and confrontation with cartels and conundrums makes for an absorbing thriller.
One strength to the story is that it flushes out Jake's personal life, as well, and includes interactions and observations that nicely probe his relationships outside of the danger zone: "I don’t believe I’d ever heard her say those two words in that particular tone—a tone that, like her indecipherable walk, contained both hesitancy and confidence. Yet, I knew what it represented. It was the universal sound of your will being sucked away by the one person in the world whom you bow to."
These succinct first-person revelations create a fine juxtaposition between senses of place, daily experiences from museums to murders, and lives facing challenging transitions. Robert Lane takes time to inject personal philosophical and observational experiences into his story, which lends it a more detailed and complex flavor than thrillers that go for action over depth: "Museums are best frequented in the mid-week, when the galleries are hushed in solitude and the pictures themselves are your living companions. When the only stimulus is what you bring to them and what they bring to you. In such seclusion, your relaxed mind is free to contemplate the oil-painted expressions of those you will never know and whose time you did not share. They reach out and touch you with a depth that is lost and forgotten in the digital world."
From an investigation into money laundering for a drug cartel to execution-style murders, an investigation that runs out of leads even as bodies pile up, and issues that emerge when Cole goes AWOL, Jake's probe traverses Florida worlds and a killer's motivations to create a wide-ranging examination of one man's nightmares and dreams and situations that test Jake's vested interest in logic.
The result is a murder mystery thriller that sends readers on a riveting romp through angelic voices, divine retribution, a family's staged demise, and a fire that changes everything. Fans of Jake will especially appreciate the added explorations of his life and world as it expands to embrace Stephen Cole's dilemmas and tenacious effort to survive.A Beautiful Voice
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978-1-77392-008-5 $3.99 Kindle/$12.99 Paper
Dead Silent is Book 2 of The Mortsafeman series for new adult and young adult horror readers, and returns the prior book's protagonist Chris to the scene of a new deadly encounter when his house-sitting getaway at a remote Vermont mansion turns into an exploration of more deaths and a special brand of horror that seems destined to haunt his life.
Grave robbers, cult rituals, vengeful spirits, and the return of a boy whose dark cloud only expands in his home turf makes for an eerily compelling story that keeps readers on their toes.
Usually the living are threatened by the dead; but in this case Chris finds the dead are in need of his assistance as rituals with human remains and the history of the thirteenth-century French Christian-era sect the Cathars comes to life in Vermont.
Chris didn't set out to be a hero under impossible, supernatural circumstances: circumstances just evolved. He also carries the burden of struggles with Mallory Dahlman’s vengeful spirit, which just won't let go. The otherworld encounters keep on evolving in a fast-paced story line that will benefit from reading the prior book, but which will prove accessible to newcomers without prior familiarity with Chris and Gillian's special talents and conundrums.
As serious accidents during an artistic Goth production indicate a deeper simmering danger, Chris stumbles further into trouble when he overhears clues that keep him guessing: "They were talking about the bones which meant the bones were still in the theater somewhere. And Chris had until Monday to find them. “Terrific,” he muttered."
Ivan Blake excels in crafting enjoyable, seat-of-your-pants, high-octane tension: it's around every turn and it's certainly embedded throughout not just Chris and Gillian's encounters with the world and each other, but in the overall spooky atmosphere that keeps getting more complex and intense, wrapped up in dangerous situations and death.
Readers who like fast-paced horror with a big dose of history and mystery, and who can't get enough intrigue and deadly encounters will find Dead Silent requires no prior introduction to the series to prove heady, engrossing, and nearly impossible to put down.
Disappearances and deaths mount
investigators find themselves confronting love, life and death in both
individual interactions, the impact of their choices, and their slowly
simmering relationship with each other.
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Black Opal Books
ISBN: 978-1-644370-13-1 Price: $0.99 (ebook)
Website/ordering link: https://www.amazon.com/Game-Piece-Alan-Brenham-ebook
Detective Barry Marshall's case involving a stolen pickup truck just got more complicated, because a demanding, anonymous caller is dangling the whereabouts of the truck before him, and when Barry rises to take the bait, the stolen truck case becomes a murder investigation. Once again, a dinner reservation with his love Erin has to be cancelled in favor of yet another work crisis that demands investigative skills only Barry can bring to the case.
Game Piece crafts a poignant first-person story about a detective so committed to his job that he loses track of the clues that show his home life is unraveling. He always promises that he'll slow down, let others take their turn at problem-solving, and make his wife a priority; but somehow the lure of solving murders always takes precedence over any arrangements with her.
Game Piece opens with a murder, a personal conundrum, and a clever killer who has not just victims but Barry's personal life in his crosshairs. Each murder takes another shot at the little connection Barry maintains at home, but in the opening pages it's apparent that matters have already moved from simmer to boil, both for Erin and Barry: "I tried to keep my cool, but I couldn’t hold back anymore. She’d been pushing my buttons for the past few weeks. First, she’d whined about the hours. Then the weeks I spent away from home. Next it was missing date nights. Following that came her badgering about taking a teaching job. Nag. Nag. Nag."
Barry's caller is more than a random killer: he's playing a cat-and-mouse sport with Barry that becomes more apparent with each unsolved killing that lures Barry deeper into the very scenarios he needed to avoid to keep his relationship intact at home.
As the killings and Barry's frustration progresses, Barry comes to realize that a deadlier game is being played. He doesn't know its rules, he doesn't know its purpose, and most of all, he doesn't realize that the killer has a specific strategic purpose beyond murder and mayhem.
Alan Brenham does a masterful job at portraying the psychology of these events, from Erin's frustration with her workaholic cop husband to Barry's obsession with stopping a serial killer and the killer's own incentive in playing Barry for a fool.
Readers won't sense the killer's ultimate objective until quite some time into the story, and when it does surface, there's a satisfying element of surprise attached to the progression of events and their probable outcome.
Brenham provides graphic descriptions where necessary, but doesn't overdo the horror, making sure the emotional rationales are powerfully intact on all sides: "Erin was a great believer in talking out bad experiences. Said she read it helped reduce stress. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to talk it out with her. I couldn’t. I mean, how do you describe your feelings when you come up on three people with their throats slit open ... I bury it deep inside me. Sharing the horror of my job was something I swore I’d never bring home."
A solid touch of irony (that Barry is too dedicated to not bringing job horrors home, which is the very reason why he won't communicate with Erin on a more intimate level), detailed explanations of Erin's frustration over a husband's all-consuming passion that doesn't seem to leave room for her, and especially well-done scenes in which Barry tries to warn Erin even as anger separates them, make for powerful scenes involving confrontations with self, ideals, and loved ones.
The result is much more than your standard whodunit. It's a gripping psychological inspection of how the best of intentions can go awry in a relationship, how love can be tested by the attitude that "This is my doing. My problem", and how intimacy fails and possibly regenerates from growth opportunities.
This latest case will change Barry. Or destroy his marriage. Or kill him. Whichever path it takes, one thing's for certain: Barry will change or die. So will those around him, and readers will find the process an edge-of-your-seat reading experience that belays the usual formula tone of detective works as it probes the perceptions, motivations, and consequences of all decisions in a winding, troubling series of events.
Game Piece is very highly recommended for readers seeking more psychological depth than the usual detective procedural provides.Game Piece
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A Line in the Sand
When the son of drug cartel boss is killed in Mexico in a shootout with a local businessman, his wife and children flee to the U.S. and the family is divided and goes into hiding. The ruthless cartel tracks the two boys and one day enters their elementary school intent on killing them, but school plant manager Frank Martin and teacher Brenda trap and inadvertently kill the would-be killers instead, creating a chain of events that leads the boys to flee once again; this time with U.S. citizens involved in something far beyond their experience.
As A Line in the Sand is drawn and evolves, readers are treated to a fast-paced action story that moves from Mexico into the classroom and on a flight to freedom that includes a cover-up, confrontations with determined drug lords armed with powerful tracking abilities, flights from Mexico to California to Arizona, and repeat encounters with gangsters.
With the introduction of naive college student, Mallory, and her blossoming romance with the enigmatic Teddie, a series of twists takes a seemingly straightforward plot about cartels and flight and adds several moral and ethical conundrums to create a powerful, unexpectedly multifaceted read.
The first-person passages capture the ongoing challenges to problem-solving and survival which often place characters at odds with their belief systems ("I had to do something now or they were going to die. But if I did something, I would die first, unless God wrapped me in His righteousness and made me invisible."), while ethical sacrifices must be made for the greater good ("We went in there specifically to lie to the boys and try to get them to lie. It’s an awful thing to do, but we were in desperate circumstances and facing unknown dangers.").
Another note is that points of view change between Mallory, Brenda, Frank, and Teddie, adding further insights on the unique struggles within individuals as well as their shared experiences, as in the case where Mallory asks Teddie to consider his choices: "So what’s your inner conflict?” she said. “That’s what you need to figure out.”
Use of the first person also allows for satisfying self-reflections that add extra dimensions of psychological depth and understanding as characters react to the events that challenge their lives and ultimately change them: "The question is not was I ignorant or innocent? I was certainly both. I am a little less of each now, already."
It's hard to see how so many seemingly-impossible situations will lead to satisfying resolution, but this is another strength to A Line in the Sand 's complex story: the disparate threads wind together in a conclusion that gathers all elements into a satisfying windup with a few surprises and a punch line designed to keep thriller readers thinking beyond the story's final passages.
Line in the Sand 's ability to draw Maginot lines from various perspectives and then cross them creates a memorable, highly recommended story of killers, cartels, and innocents changed by a series of deadly encounters.A Line in the Sand
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Out of Tupelo
ISBN: 978-0-9990472-3-1 (ebook) $2.99
A wife gone missing can spark more than an investigation: it can unravel the desperation in a husband's heart when a happy, slow-paced lifestyle in the South is suddenly upended.
Edward Winston is determined to get answers; especially when the local sheriff's department refuses to confront the prime suspect in his wife's disappearance. His determination steels when he's named a person of interest in the case and as events march towards implicating him, somehow, in the crushing fall of his own life. Bothered by the course of the investigation, Edward discovers that what seems to be a smooth life in a small community actually harbors a series of deeper secrets that threaten everything he still loves in life.
As Edward begins to suspect that his inquiries and the reluctance with which they are received indicates a deeper issue than just a missing wife, he finds himself unexpectedly immersed in the undercurrent of Southern politics which have reached out to grab his wife and now threaten him. He taps his prior connections in Japan to get a job done that requires special resources he doesn't have in his homeland.
Forced to become a sightseer in his own town, learning more about its culture and closely-held secrets, Edward begins to understand more about his world and why it may be best to vanish.
Readers are treated to an unexpected international romp through high crime, political confrontation, and murder motives as Edward navigates his much-changed world and Shiro, a man from an equally-foreign culture, joins him in the effort.
This cross-cultural flavor is just one unusual plus in a story that holds many unexpected twists. Another is that, as it evolves, the tale becomes as much one of Shiro's life, focuses, and encounters as it does Edward's struggle for justice.
One doesn't expect a story that begins in Mississippi to become thoroughly steeped in Japanese culture and settings, but Out of Tupelo lives up to its title in pushing the boundaries of not just personal experience, but geography and culture.
The result moves far from its opening inspection of a small town that serves as a safe harbor for betrayal and revenge, embracing two very different lives which become tied up in a complex struggle.
Out of Tupelo is highly recommended not just for the 'whodunnit' crowd who like political intrigue mixed into a murder scenario; but for those who like international intrigue and mercurial stories that move far from anticipated avenues of action.Out of Tupelo
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978-1-4787-9699-2 $4.99 Digital/$17.99 Hard copy
In 2020, a powerful global military corporation, Global Force Protection (GFP), is in the business of fighting wars for a profit. Business is good until one of its vice presidents, Jake Thompson, stumbles onto an accounting irregularity that leads to stunning realizations implying that GFP is not exactly above board in how it makes its vast sums of money. By following the money, Jake learns GFP is linked to deadly operations connected to terrorist and rebellions in Romania that lead to the murder of his wife and adopted daughter.
Unrest in Europe works to GFP's benefit by fueling the conflagration of terror and political instability. As Jake pulls on the threads of discovery, his findings lead to greater implications about how foreign policy and diplomacy are manipulated for profit. As events unfold, he find himself immersed in tensions between GFP and other nations. The more he learns the more he realizes he must follow the money to find the truth, regardless of the cost.
Jake has not just lost family, but comes to discover every ideal he believes in is challenged as he returns to Romania after five years (a lifetime, to him) to a place that has left (and still has the power to leave) permanent marks on his soul.
This is an absorbing tale, which moves quickly through scenes and themes. History, economics, politics, and social observation feature heavily in a story that follows Jake, Naomi, and other characters into a crumbling normality that forces Naomi to leave her beloved country and Jake to find himself in over his head as multiple obstacles confront him at every turn.
The roots of rebellions and profit-driven motivations are closely examined as the story weaves through just enough action and psychological revelations to keep readers immersed without feeling overbearing with its many enlightening facets.
The result is an intriguing story that lingers in the mind long after reading, and which feels especially relevant to modern times given the rise of concurrent business and government special and disparate interests.Profit Wars
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The Second Law, Lynn
Dayton Thriller #3
L. A. Starks
Nemaha Ridge Publishing Group, LLC
978-0991110742 $18.95 Print/$8.99 ebook
The Second Law is a Lynn Dayton thriller revolving around a new challenge in Lynn's job as a top refining executive working in the busy San Francisco Bay Area. What seems like a puzzling computer glitch could turn out to be sabotage, and too many false alarms are undermining the safety warning system of the refinery, among other odd problems. Only this time the siren's warning isn't another false alarm, but a portent of the biggest disaster Lynn has yet to face: one which has roots in China and connections with California's oil history.
As the story moves to New Orleans, the challenges of risk management, Arch Webber's involvement as a top lease bidding specialist, and Reese's assistance in Lynn's investigation, it probes both domestic and overseas special interests, influences, and powerful forces that threaten not just one refinery operation, but the energy grid of interconnected power.
As near-deadly encounters with everything from bears and murderers escalate, Lynn begins to understand that someone has targeted not only refinery operations, but individual lives. Her encounters with hit men after her and whoever is with her and China's involvement in creating an oil emergency they could vastly profit from makes for a riveting blend of murder mystery and international espionage thriller.
systems, attacks, oil executive murders and traitors from within
a spellbinding story that moved between the San Francisco Bay Area,
New Orleans, exploring the special talents and interests of a host of
characters whose lives are all dictated by special interests.
The result is a compelling thriller that's hard to put down, absorbingly powerful in both characterization and plot and filled with satisfying twists and turns that introduce readers to the world of not just refinery safety and operations, but high-stakes international intrigue between groups holding special government interests at the heart of their actions.
Readers who enjoy stories of mystery, murder, mayhem and espionage will relish the intricate, complex yet highly accessible series of events The Second Law unfolds.The Second Law, Lynn Dayton Thriller #3
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The Caged Butterfly
Marian L. Thomas
978-1732488014 - Hardcover $21.99
978-1732488007- Paperback $15.99
Digital - $5.99
Barnes & Noble.com: https://www.
The Caged Butterfly begins in 1930, when Millie gives birth to a daughter and raises her with the ideals of intellectual growth, personal values, and saving physical love for marriage. As with many daughters, Millie learns only part of her mother's teachings, and her decision gives birth to and affects future generations who also dance around these ideals and interpret them in different ways.
Even though family history can become deeply buried, it can also rise to the surface like a mirror, reflecting altered images. So a great white jazz pianist comes full-circle from certainty to questioning his roots, Nina inherits a talent from him and a puzzle that sets her apart from everyone she loves, and family ties change against the backdrop of talents that alter everything: "When you sing, you sing with everything because music is where no one can touch you. No one can tell you want to do. Not your mother. Not the band. Music allows you to be you. It’s your protector. That’s why you belt out each note with such raw passion. It’s like you’re giving every lyric that drops from those beautiful lips of yours a hug. That’s what I see in your eyes. That’s what my heart hears when you open your mouth.”
Circumstances altered relationships between blacks and whites as the decades moved on, but some things never change. Issues of love, respect, poor choices and consequences that may move from darkness to light immerse these characters, who confront their identities, different generations of fear, love and lies in the Deep South, and a approach to mixing colors that changes over the years.
Marian L. Thomas creates a logical yet passionate story that weaves in and out of the reality of what children go through to not look like or be like their parents, showing how the lessons and conundrums of the past catch up to and reach out to all involved to introduce not just angst, but transformation.
Powerfully evocative and winding in its story of uncertain connections and alienation, The Caged Butterfly will delight women's fiction readers who seek strong multicultural stories of shame, enlightenment, and family connections honed through generations of interaction and self-examination.The Caged Butterfly
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A Case of Serendipity
K.J. Farnham, Publisher
978-1732283206 $13.99 paper/$3.99 Kindle
A Case of Serendipity provides the refreshingly different story of a woman who is being besieged by unwelcome text messages from Bucky's Beans Coffee Roasters, and who takes to Facebook to complain in frustration as her attempts fail to keep the coffee discount codes at bay.
Attorney Henry Mancuso isn't trolling Facebook for more work; but when he stumbles upon Ruth's rant, he takes more than a light interest in her dilemma. It's one of those many cases of serendipity that change lives when he becomes involved, only to find a seemingly simple matter of a 'cease and desist' order becomes a class-action lawsuit holding implications for anyone with a cell phone.
From the run-around Ruth receives from Bucky's in her futile attempts to unsubscribe from something she never wanted to Henry's opening of a Pandora's Box of spam and special interests, A Case of Serendipity winds through personal frustration and legal implications to show how small decisions and ire can evolve into something bigger.
Facebook apps, Ruth's initially reluctant but increasingly involved interactions with Henry's blossoming cause, and a case that assumes a life of its own beyond its relatively low-key roots in frustration create a story that is moving, involving, and filled with messages about technology's impact on everyday people and lives.
Ruth and Henry's friendship is just one of the threads percolating through this story of a David and Goliath-type struggle, and further illustrates the concept of serendipity.
Readers seeking a light-hearted but pointed blend of romance, social and technological confrontation, and legal judgments and actions will find A Case of Serendipity crafts a moving story that is hard to put down as it tiptoes through family relationships, love, and legal challenges alike; all evolving against the backdrop of coffee and conundrums.A Case of Serendipity
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Climbing Over Grit
Marzeeh Laleh Chini & Abnoos Mosleh-Shirazi
l’Aleph (Wisehouse, Pubisher)
In Shiraz, Iran in 1954, three-year-old Najma outwardly appears to have everything that she materially needs. There are many psychological things lacking in her life, however, and as Climbing Over Grit reflects on these obstacles and losses, readers are treated to a compelling novel that reads like a memoir as Najma relates her life in Iran and changing political and family dynamics during volatile times.
There's no better way of absorbing a country's culture, perspectives, and history than through a novel well steeped in not only changing social events, but the observations and psyches of those who lived through them. Najma's recollections begin at home and move outward, and so readers are treated to a compelling scenario that starts at the intersection of adult realization and a child's experiences: "If you ask anyone what would make one a good father, most of them would say one who gives love, attention, and time and is tolerant. I understood the difference between education and knowledge ever since I was a child. Money or education never turns a man into a good father. Yes, my father was an educated man, but knowledge was something he did not have. He did not know anything about love, he did not know anything about caring, and I am certain, he did not know a thing about tolerance."
Forced into an abusive marriage and motherhood at age eleven, Najma is only following the customs of her people and the common experiences shared by many women who live in Iran; but against the backdrop of Iran's eight-year war with Iraq, everything is changing.
Perhaps it's because Climbing Over Grit is based on a true story; but its characters, events, and setting feature a realistic immediacy to their tone and presentation that draws readers into a land most will find very foreign, but accessible through Najma's experiences.
It's that personal touch, and the fact that Marzeeh Laleh Chini & Abnoos Mosleh-Shirazi takes time to explore the lives of various men and women in Iran without succumbing to stereotypes, that brings this story to life. Najma's heritage and her mother's experience with wealth and power are reviewed as a precursor to her own choices (or lack of them), creating a powerful foundation for understanding some of the dynamics that can occur not only between political entities, but within families: "Usually in a marriage you do not compare or try to compete with each other, but to my mother, she was lagging far behind. Instead of enjoying the successes in her life, she started to get jealous or maybe tired of my father’s huge achievements. He was extremely successful. So, she had to do something, or she would lose in the competition between them, which was in her head."
Starkly powerful are the descriptions of abuse and how a young battered wife handles her situation in this culture: "I wondered who he hit before he married me. Or maybe he saved all his power for his wife. I guess he should have married a punching bag instead. It was very important for me to show others that we were doing well; I wanted to fit in with his family. Pretending like we were happy was the only happiness I could feel."
As readers become immersed in Najma's life and times, they absorb a healthy dose of Iranian experience and culture in a story that personalizes the political and brings it home. Passages which weave her political perceptions with her heritage and the latest generation's changing beliefs and experiences are very nicely crafted: "I remembered the damage my parents caused to us older kids by having too many kids, and now we were doing it to our kids too. We accepted the blame and went on with our lives. There was nothing I could do. I was ashamed. With my being pregnant, the country’s being at war, and small political groups’ being secretly active, I felt very bad, confused."
Readers seeking a broader understanding of Iranian history and culture through the eyes of a young woman who comes of age to reflect on the hopes and despair of a new generation facing war will find Climbing Over Grit compelling, absorbing, and hard to put down. Its story of challenged lifestyles, broken families, and social and political challenges holds no pat conclusion, but mirrors the changes, confusion, and dreams of a nation and individuals under siege.Climbing Over Grit
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Shine Box Publishing
Given the name Dead Cats and Other Reflections on Parenting, readers might anticipate a treatise on parenting techniques or parent-child relationships, but this novel is actually about the descent from upper middle-class ambition to cruelty, drugs, and delusions. As Joel confronts his wealth, failed dreams, the death of ideals, family ties, and ghosts, he discovers an unexpected challenge: his family might indeed be happier without his drama in their lives.
Dead Cats may raise grave issues about wealth, happiness, masculinity and male privilege, but it is also seriously embedded with a stream of dark humor throughout which emerges from the story's opening lines: "The dead cat is starting to smell...I confidently hold its carcass up in front of the judge..."Your Honor, clearly the feline had expired prior to making contact with the undercarriage of my client's car."
As this particular case moves forward with lawyer Bill's evidence about Friskers' demise and his client's innocence in the matter, a macabre sense of irony emerges as the cat's ghost becomes involved and points out that the narrator/defendant actually is strung out and falling apart right there in the courtroom.
At this point, readers may find themselves hooked. When a story begins not with descent but seemingly at the bottom, where else can it travel but upwards? As former success Joel Peterson confronts divorce, homelessness, the loss of family, and mind-numbing drugs, the ghosts in his world become more real (and more supportive) than his former family.
It would, at this point, have become easy to turn the story into a comedy or a parody of life's ironies; but Jesse McKinnell's focus on male privilege and its decline paints a picture of the persona of Joel as the Everyman of white upper-class males, threatened from both within and outside of their ambitions and worlds.
An out-of-control system no longer supports Joel, but another undercurrent of darkness rises to take its place. Add the specter of a generation's angst, Kurt Cobain, into the picture for a multifaceted and pointed story of privilege, winning, losing, and how a successful man by any definition of the term comes to grips with the one achievement that he has tossed aside.
Those who like their stories darkly reflective will find Dead Cats evocative and revealing: a study in survival, assumption, and degeneration that uses one man's life to illustrate a personal life under siege.Dead Cats
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Miss Etta: A Novel
Deanna Lynn Sletten
Deanna Lynn Sletten, Publisher
Paperback: 978-1-941212-38-7 $14.99
Amazon Kindle: http://ow.ly/Q2HP30kmYjM
Amazon Paperback: http://ow.ly/VJf130lwU1Q
Barnes & Noble Nook: http://ow.ly/JOeu30kjekn
Apple iBooks: http://ow.ly/pZUJ30kmk9N
Google Play: http://ow.ly/8Wgr30kjA8U
Miss Etta: A Novel is set in 1895 and opens with the story of a woman who falls in love with the Sundance Kid, follows him and his partner Butch Cassidy into a life of lawless frontier adventure, and becomes an outlaw until she finds herself pregnant and alone, and retreats to a convent to raise her newborn.
By 1911, Emily is a single woman with a young son who seeks a new life for herself far from her past, and who faces a promising future as a teacher. She has a successful businessman as her beau and only the threat of her notorious past shadows her potential for happiness.
Etta seems to have vanished. But Grandma Em holds the key to a long, nefarious saga that needs to be told, and granddaughter Susan is the initially-reluctant recipient of a story that reveals a sage grandmother's long-hidden secret.
Miss Etta builds an engrossing story of Emily's carefully reconstructed life, her notorious past, and how she transitioned from the flamboyant lifestyle of a range-riding outlaw to become a dedicated mother and the wife of a respected businessman. When a lawman and ex-Pinkerton detective gets wind of Emily's possible duplicity after a robbery forces her hand, trouble threatens, and she must again face her greatest fear: losing her little boy.
Deanna Lynn Sletten does a fine job of juxtaposing two very different frontier lifestyles and choices. Emily has long wanted to settle into a place she can call home, where she feels safe. The path to reaching this goal is convoluted and Edward finally provides her with shelter, happiness, and a lifestyle that embraces everything she loves. Will the fact that she once loved an outlaw and embraced his lifestyle return to haunt her?
The 19th and early 20th century come to life in Miss Etta, which deftly explores one woman's choices, experiences, and very different lives. It also explores Butch's changes and the tastes, sounds, and atmosphere of the times, crafting descriptions that are evocative and which cement emotional connections with physical surroundings: "Emily sat on the sofa and poured herself a cup of tea. She glanced around again, and her eyes fell to Butch as he sat in the chair opposite her. They both looked refined and dignified, dressed in nice attire and sitting in this proper room. She almost laughed. She remembered the tent the three of them had shared with only a curtain between them. The suites they’d stayed in at hotels across the country. And the log cabin in Cholila, where they’d sat in the living room together in the evenings, Butch with his stocking feet up on the table while he read a book in his favorite chair. They’d come a long way since then, but in her heart, he was still the same old Butch she’d always known."
The result is a work that brings history to life and focuses on the choices, approaches, and perspectives of a young woman who embraces love in various, very different incarnations and walks away with her life intact. It's an uplifting saga of crime, redemption, loyalty and love based on a timeline of true events that Sletten researched and used to recreate a possible scenario of what happened to the vanished Etta Place, a real woman who willingly followed Harry, the Sundance Kid.
Vivid and compelling, Miss Etta is a warm and engrossing historical novel that offers a satisfying contrast between the swashbuckling world of an outlaw and the quieter life chosen by a woman who not only has two lives, but two loves, who is tasked with making these two worlds come together without colliding.Miss Etta: A Novel
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Operation Clusterpuck: A B.S. Incorporated Novel adds the second book to the 'B.S. Incorporated' series of business novels and continues the story of Will Evans, Anna Reed, and their operation, Business Solutions Inc.
While one might think that the second in a business book series would require prior familiarity with the characters and setting to prove accessible, the first thing to note about Operation Clusterpuck is that it stands on its own as well as supporting the characters and contentions of its predecessor.
The story revolves around office and middle management politics, business pursuits, fiscal responsibility and investments, and two individuals who juggle holding patterns, business scripts, convention and innovation, and disconnects between boardroom 'spin' and challenging changes: “But for the next couple of weeks, our narrative needs to be: the business is running like a Rolex, Kirkland will be a pragmatic and merciful ruler, and the Canada deal is a bastion of strategic brilliance.”
The kinds of business and personal decisions created in such a volatile and changing environment place Will and Anna in difficult positions and involve strategic thinking, manipulations, and project risks that seem to defy contingency planning.
Readers learn such terms as 'risk mitigation strategy', 'supply chain and delivery operations' and more; but the real meat of the title lies in its probe of business motivations, economic and social forces at work within the corporate structure, strong legacies and special interests, and the kinds of choices that can even lead to assaults and death.
>From sexual harassment to team support and quasi-legal operations undertaken for the good of the company which could be offenses worthy of firing and prosecution, Operation Clusterpuck weaves intrigue and conundrums into a volatile story of business challenges and daily operations.
>The insights on corporate politics, international business relationships, and colleagues vested in damage control and behind-the-scenes operations makes for a fine business novel that weaves through company operations and individual choices alike.
The result is a novel that takes real-world business operations, terminology, and objectives and injects them with the personalities and motives of two businesspeople who find themselves facing a virtual onslaught of special circumstances and potentially bad decisions. As characters step into new roles at BSI, readers follow the progression and evolution of a company that faces the challenge of locating a new CEO with the kinds of values that can drive the business in a different direction.
Readers of business novels should not hesitate to choose Operation Clusterpuck for its many insights and the dose of intrigue which makes all the business jargon not just understandable, but compelling.Operation Clusterpuck
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The Prophetic Mayan Queen:
K'inuuw Mat of
Made for Success Publishing
978-1-64146-365-2 $17.99 paperback, $5.99 ebook
Author website: https://www.mistsofpalenque.
The Prophetic Mayan Queen: K'inuuw Mat of Palenque is Book 4 in the Mists of Palenque series, and is best savored by prior fans with a firm grasp on setting, characters, and the full flavor of its predecessors.
K’inuuw Mat is slated to wed Pakal’s youngest son and produce the dynastic heir. She's devoted to the Goddess but her course in life seems set until a forbidden attraction and the prospect of the Mayan culture's values fading away comes to rest fully upon her shoulders and choices.
Readers who have enjoyed the other books in this series will find an even more compelling story in The Prophetic Mayan Queen. It takes an individual's spiritual and political perspectives and turns them on end, leading a young woman to realize her value and purpose far beyond her belief system or the duty she's been assigned to in her culture.
One notable aspect of this story is its focus on how K'inuuw struggles to embrace new ideas, a new destiny, and a much broader purpose than she's been raised to believe in. She's prophesized the very decline her culture is experiencing, but can her choices then make a difference in its ultimate preservation (albeit in a different, less familiar form)?
By illuminating various women operating at different levels of early Mayan society, Leonide Martin has already produced an award-winning series that illuminates this culture and the powerful individuals who come to make a difference in it.
Mothers, wives, daughters, and priestesses have all risen to power and strength in different ways in each of these books, and K'inuuw is no different; but the story isn't narrated through her eyes and experiences alone. As ruler Pakal receives communications about her through subliminal consciousness and comes to know her, the concept of different lives lived over various periods and the impact of past upon present and future becomes part of the Mayan belief system explored in this story.
As a work of
visionary fiction, these insights on Mayan spirituality and culture are
exceptional in their scope, and complexity. No light read, The
Mayan Queen: K'inuuw Mat of Palenque
crafts a wide-ranging set of inspections which provide readers with an
excellent foundation for understanding the historical, spiritual, and
aspects of the early Mayan world.
Readers interested in a story that brings ancient Mayan culture to life through the viewpoints of its leaders, powerful women and men who are on the cusp of experiencing a collapse of their ideals and world will find The Prophetic Mayan Queen: K'inuuw Mat of Palenque a riveting addition to a series that continues to expand Mayan knowledge through a fictional tale that is engrossing, well-detailed, and supported by Martin's detailed studies into Mayan culture and cosmology.
Having a story that is not just pure fictional construct, but which is supported by modern archaeological discoveries connecting the ancient Mayan world to modern times makes for an underlying layer of scientific and historical background that adds to reader knowledge in many unexpected ways.
The Prophetic Mayan Queen: K'inuuw Mat of Palenque is a fitting and wonderful addition to an increasingly authoritative series.The Prophetic Mayan Queen: K'inuuw Mat of Palenque
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The Search for Rasha
Paul B. Skousen
Izzard Ink Publishing
eBook: 978-1-64228-008-1 $ 9.99
Paperback: 978-1-64228-009-8 $22.95
Hardback: 978-1-64228-010-4 $27.95
The Search for Rasha is Book 3 of The Bassam Saga and requires little prior familiarity with others in the series in order to prove absorbing for newcomers. Its audience will include anyone interested in historical fiction and a tale that embraces the dilemma of a kidnapped young woman, features an Ancient Egyptian setting, and examines love held hostage.
Events don't entirely take place in the past, however: a series of lovely maps precedes the story of an old museum caretaker who is struggling with advanced technology as he investigates the treasure of a hidden scroll in a sarcophagus that tells the first-person story of Rasha: “My dearest Bassam, come for me, I am taken away to a dark place. It is the end of my life. I have nothing but this script to console—and my thoughts of you. If these words find you when it is too late, let them comfort you for your life without me at your side.—Forever yours, Rasha.”
From a ransom scheme that carries Rasha far from her roots to old Egyptian scenes that come to life under Paul B. Skousen's powerfully descriptive pen and bring alive countryside and hearth alike ("Cala waited in a chair, her hands folded neatly with pretended interest as the men’s conversation changed from a retelling of personal histories to an in-depth comparison of genealogies. An hour later they were seated for dinner. Hot barley bread and a dipping oil with ground sesame and spices, slender strips of roasted chicken on rice, roasted papyrus tubers, with melons and dates to round out the modest feast. The smell was delicious."), readers can anticipate a journey that captures the people and atmosphere of the times.
After noting these basic strengths, it's also important to observe that The Search for Rasha is a multifaceted production that embraces both Rasha's perceptions of her changing world and the efforts of those around her. These different viewpoints create a vivid saga of tribal leaders and jungle encounters with cats and expeditions via camel that dose impressions with unexpected moments of humor ("An hour later we passed the bleached bones of a camel skeleton poking from a sand drift. I pointed them out to my stubborn camel. “One more rebellion like that,” I warned him, “and I’ll leave you tethered to the bones of your cousin and pick another for a ride.”). Paul B. Skousen's close attention to tension and characterization nicely compliment the historical and cultural details of Rasha's life.
The result is a journey set against the pyramids and setting sun of Egypt, steeped in the countryside's villages, tribes, and Rasha's efforts. It's compelling reading for any enthusiast of historical novels that embrace not only mystery and romance, but tragedy and courage.
More vivid than most historical novels set in Egypt, Skousen's attention to deep detail in describing not only events but Rasha's times makes The Search for Rasha a compelling recommendation that's hard to put down.The Search for Rasha
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Shattered Dreams at
Christopher Horne, PhD
Shattered Dreams at Rainbow's End is a post-World War II novel about family legacies, failed dreams, and a woman whose three husbands impacted and changed the course of future generations through their perspectives and choices.
From a legacy that holds mixed benefits and values to impossible ideals of marriage vows as society changes over time, Shattered Dreams at Rainbow's End crafts an astute portrait of death, grief, recovery, recreation, and a repeat cycle of devastation that reaches beyond matriarch Mary's psyche and into the hearts and minds of future generations.
Against the backdrop of evolving lives lies much psychological inspection about the roots of narcissism, concepts of mortality, success and failed dreams, and emotional development that introduces drama and history into family dynamics.
This psychology is injected into the story at major transition points to consider such questions as the roots of self-absorption and insecurity, how people become control freaks and manipulators, and moral considerations that all operate against the backdrop of true and metaphorical reality processes.
Obviously, an affinity for psychological inspection is one of the prerequisites a reader will need for a through appreciation of some of the discussions and routes Dr. Horne chooses in the course of his story: elements which at times feel more like nonfiction than fiction.
Another strong point to Shattered Dreams at Rainbow's End is its ability to craft strong characters, then move beyond them into other strong characters as generations shift, change, and die out. Readers who like to follow one character throughout a story may be initially surprised at these transition points, but Shattered Dreams at Rainbow's End's focus on miracles, marriages, and dreams that evolve from playing by the rules or which are shattered by ignoring them provides no singular story; but a series of interrelated experiences.
Spiritual and moral concerns blend into the plot, creating a multifaceted and thought-provoking series of events as characters and choices change.
The result is not a light story, but a thought-provoking piece about various kinds of inheritances and the lasting impact of legacies both intended and unintended. Shattered Dreams at Rainbow's End will delight fiction readers seeking complexity and insights into how cruelty and arrogance can change into kindness under the pressures of hidden agendas, greed, and broken dreams.Shattered Dreams at Rainbow's End
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Spike: The Search for
ISBN: 978-1-5320-3949-2 (sc) $18.95
ISBN: 978-1-5320-3951-5 (hc) $27.64
ISBN: 978-1-5320-3950-8 (e)
Spike: The Search for Redemption tells of Anthony (former name Spike), who returns from Vietnam to become a handsome lawyer and who encounters Angel by chance during a demonstration that threatens to spill into violence. When he rescues her, fate seems to hand them both new opportunities for transformation; but they'll have to travel through more challenging paths before they reach their personal form of heaven on earth either with each other or in the course of honing their dreams.
Spike takes many unexpected twists and turns which lends it a satisfying flavor because it mimics the puzzles and avenues of life and holds no pat answers or happy endings that aren't hard-fought for.
From his loving interactions with a Bronx Italian mob family and his surprising entry into the world of politics to his attempts to keep his dream girl a part of his life even while it's barreling into unknown territory, Anthony brings readers into worlds that are ever-changing, fluid, and believable, and this keeps the interest level high.
Angel, too, is afforded a birds-eye view of changing relationships in a set of experiences that leads her to narrow her own values in life, consider if Anthony's actions fall in sync with these values, and view their evolving relationship from different perspectives.
As life takes them from chance to determined behavioral and lifestyle changes, readers are treated to a satisfyingly complex, believable story that brings two ideal lovers together, separates them, then considers a new kind of reunion based on their growth. Each must survive and thrive from personal challenges before they can form a relationship, and these factors and the individual circumstances of their growth make Spike a riveting story especially recommended for readers who like their relationship stories volatile, changing, multifaceted and unpredictable.Spike: The Search for Redemption
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Stuck in Manistique
Celestial Eyes Press
Mark comes to Manistique, Michigan when his aunt dies and he inherits her estate, an old house which was a bed and breakfast establishment. He hardly arrives when the doorbell rings and his first uninvited guest arrives: a shaken female doctor who has run into a deer on the road and seeks refuge for the night. Mark's decision to help Emily for one night turns into something that neither anticipated, and is a challenge to the secrets they both harbor.
Is either one really stuck in Manistique by circumstances beyond their control, or have the events they've carefully controlled all their lives brought them to this point in time to confront something entirely different?
Stuck in Manistique uses the overtones of a romance to introduce themes of change, growth, and letting go. For Emily, the stranger she encounters challenges the affair she's cultivated and the course she's envisioned for her life after the medical school.
For Mark, his estranged aunt's inheritance is much more than an old house with family connections: it's an opportunity for a new life. As he bumbles his way through a series of lodgers and their lives, struggling with an inherited career he'd never envisioned, Mark finds his life challenged by far more than Emily and George's entry into it.
As readers come to understand the secrets and forces at work for Emily and Mark as they tread upon unfamiliar territory, they will especially appreciate Dennis Cuesta's astute eye to detail as he winds these separate stories into a fun entwined set of experiences with a light thread of humor overlaying all.
As Emily regains control of her life by throwing away something she'd coveted and Mark discovers newfound connections with family and customers that he'd never experienced before, they draw readers into a warm, cozy story of growth that's perfect for contemporary women seeking an involving beach read.
Death changes everything. But when one door closes, another opens. Stuck in Manistique details the process of these doors opening and of being both stuck and unstuck, and is a delightful read of changed lives, purposes and connections that offers hope and imparts a positive feel about life's twists, turns, ironies and the power of serendipity. Women readers will find that Stuck in Manistique holds plenty of connections between people, places, and circumstances, and will relish the read.Stuck in Manistique
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In the opening chapter of this hard-hitting thriller, the protagonist is on a mission from God: "who’s going to eliminate evil sinners if not me? They’ve had opportunities for redemption and blown them all. They’re irredeemable." The Spirit of Fellowship rescues sinners and tries to help them; but if they are deemed hopeless, the mission becomes one to eliminate them; the protagonist viewing himself not as a murderer, but as a warrior working for the Lord.
The second chapter also provides a first-person viewpoint: that of detective Frank Luca, who is tasked with uncovering a murderer. Joey Chapman was a punk with a long record, so at first Frank doesn't see this case as a priority in the scheme of things. He's also facing challenges in his personal life over a blossoming relationship with coworker and fellow detective Vargas, is recovering from the chemo that followed bladder cancer, and at first simply isn't interested in tracking down the killer of a reprobate.
Everything changes as he and Vargas delve deeper into a homicide that involves four crime scenes and a complex blend of business bureaucracy and investigative challenges.
Four bodies are connected to The Spirit of Fellowship church, which offers its sinners a second chance. But what does it offer if the sinners are habitual offenders who have more than exhausted their second chances and beyond?
Third Chances is powered by not just murder investigations, but the changing relationship between two detectives who find their personal perspectives of themselves as possible heroes and problem-solvers challenged by their professional world.
Characterization is strong, references to events in previous books are clear and require no prior familiarity with Frank Luca's world to prove understandable, and the procedurals as Frank investigates DMV records, boats, possible places for dumping bodies, and more are intriguing and well-done.
As Frank connects the dots from past family relationships and murders, Third Chances becomes a riveting production that follows clues that lead to tiny towns, old DUI car crashes, and instincts that seem to be failing a seasoned investigator's process.
The juxtaposition of health, personal, business and religious concerns creates an involving, compelling detective piece that will especially delight genre readers seeking more gritty personal challenges in the course of the murder mystery scenario.
Third Chances is riveting and hard to put down: a power saga of third chances not just for killers and reprobates, but for those investigating them.Third Chances
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The Twisted Crown
978-0-9624012-4-4 $14.95 Paper/$9.95 ebook
The Twisted Crown opens in 1846 in South Carolina, where slave Mayree gives her daughter Eve something more precious than her love: her freedom.
Years later, Eva Phillips embarks on a journey back to her roots through dangerous landscapes to find the mother who gave her away, carrying readers through Reconstruction-era South Carolina as she pieces together clues about her heritage, her mother's courage, and the lasting impact of slavery on her life.
In many ways, The Twisted Crown mirrors other accounts of escapes to freedom and the different paths chosen by those born into slavery; but the difference here lies in an approach that juxtaposes the atmosphere of Abolitionist Boston with the milieu of South Carolina through the eyes of a woman immersed in both cultures.
Eva undertakes her own dangerous journey which she deems no different than the risks her Aunt Tully took to bring her to freedom; but in reality she has no idea of the foreign world she's about to enter by returning to the Stillwater Plantation to find her mother.
The big war is over and the slaves are theoretically free; but Eva encounters a different reality in the course of her investigation and comes to understand her aunt's fears as she faces elusive clues to her mother's fate and feels trapped and isolated.
As she questions what remains of value in the South and why the Civil War was really fought ("It was actually a war to hold onto land, land that brought riches to a small number of white men who planned to rule the South forever with vast numbers of enslaved people. The entire economy of the southern states depended on the wealth of those men lasting forever, and that could only happen if they owned land and slaves."), she begins to realize why her people continue to settle there, stops imagining what her life would have been like if her beloved husband Chester hadn't died, and begins to emerge from her isolation and pain as a "...stranger in this peculiar, hauntingly beautiful place."
The Twisted Crown delves into various social, political, and cultural facets of African American history and one feisty woman's confrontation with past and present, sweeping readers into a series of events that eventually place Eva in the role of saving others just as her mother made hard choices to save her daughter. The power of fictional experience based on real events successfully empowers a story that proves multifaceted and hard to put down.
Replete with thought-provoking insights about courage, choice, heritage and love, The Twisted Crown is a portrait in changing attitudes and lives, racial prejudice and tolerance, and the selfishness and altruism that divide or connect people. Eva's experience heralds and reflects a new era in American development: one revealed in a satisfyingly astute observation of how the tenants of freedom and oppression march through individual lives.The Twisted Crown
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Designer Dogs, Awkward Hugs and
P.J. Miller, B.V.M.&S., M.R.C.V.S.
Designer Dogs, Awkward Hugs, and a Pigeon: Veterinary Tales, Again is for animal lovers who appreciate stories about veterinarian encounters with animals; but newcomers to Dr. Miller's writing who anticipate a warm, cuddly James Herriot-type of collection will find many surprises between these covers. Dr. Miller's encounters do probe emotional ties between humans and animals, but in a way that favors humor over the more philosophical or psychological survey of life lessons in compassion.
The tales take on more of a gritty feel of realistic irony and struggle, detailing experiences with unique clients, sassy staff members, and challenging days.
This feel is imparted straightaway, in the first few paragraphs, which, in a microcosm, reflect the approach of the rest of the stories within: "I walked into the treatment area. Jen and Cassey were already getting samples for the annual exams. If I had been one of ‘those’ veterinary practice owners, I’d have been there earlier. Perhaps even lending a helping hand. I’m not one of those. Truth be told, this works out perfectly, at least for me. They check in the owners and pets for their appointments and get assorted samples, and then I can start the appointments. It’s like my cue for a stage show, and my part starts in the exam room. Of course, Jen, our head technician, doesn’t see it that way. “Nice of you to finally get here, Dr. Miller. I drive further than you do and I’m here. What’s your excuse this time? Traffic get you again? Don’t worry, we got all the hard work done for you already. It’s not like YOU got scratched holding that dog. Look at my arm…” Once she started complaining, I instinctively blocked her out."
From human guardians who have pre-diagnosed patients, are certain of their knowledge, and insist that the good doctor just verify their online research prowess to ticking medical time bombs where humans place attendance at a reunion over the emergency involving their pet, Designer Dogs, Awkward Hugs, and a Pigeon is packed with unexpected conundrums (both human and animal) which keep Dr. Miller, his staff, and readers continually on their toes.
Also of notable interest is the contrast between Dr. Miller's veterinary practice and approach to staff, patients and medicine and a vet's traditional ways, which results in some meaningfully pointed observations: "As usual, Dr. Miller, you know our level of care is too complicated for some of these people. He really needed a vet just like his old one and that’s not the way you practice. His little trip was the perfect opportunity for him to make a clean break from us."
The humor that runs through even the most serious of encounters is a spark that keeps these tales lively, appealing, and fun to read no matter what their subject.
Dr. Miller's book is highly recommended for anyone who wants a different kind of vet story collection: one that embraces the nitty-gritty of life and death and strange encounters all the way around, leaving readers both pondering and laughing. No other vet story collection holds quite the original, reflective flavor of Designer Dogs, Awkward Hugs, and a Pigeon.Designer Dogs, Awkward Hugs and A Pigeon
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God Answers Science
978-0-9852783-5-9 $17.99 paper; $7.99 ebook
God Answers Science maintains that in order to understand the mysteries of the natural universe, science and not religion must be the key; and it provides a spiritual reflection on cosmological principles that will require a Christian reader's attention: "Many have limited themselves by looking only to science or religion. Ironically enough for both camps, it is the Bible that points us in the right direction. It instructs us to “lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things” (Isaiah 40:26a). Star-gazing will not yield answers; rather, the scripture instructs us to investigate with vigor, through the discipline of science."
The discussion begins by pointing out that scientific discoveries, from the Higgs field to plate tectonics, are all phenomena found in the Bible, setting the stage for a Christian view of the universe which is firmly rooted in scriptural references.
The analytical chapters that follow are contingent on two things: a belief in and respect for the Bible, and an interest in the scriptural foundations of scientific discoveries. Take, for example, dark matter. Gary Driver summarizes the latest research surrounding dark matter, and then adds Biblical inspection and insights to the scientific process: "Did the Creator leave any clues about this enormous component of the universe? The mysteries of science have been extracted from nature at a high price, owing to the time and labor of thousands of scientists over several centuries. This knowledge is not found on the surface; it must be relentlessly sought, even against the toughest odds. In the same vein, the predictions made by the Creator are not on the surface and certainly are not conveniently enumerated in a sequential or chronological order in the Bible. These metaphors are peppered throughout, hidden until their revelation is possible."
From possible Creator logic in extinction processes ("The Creator controls the entire ecosystem and must have decided once again to institute his own life reset button. One logical question: Could humans live with huge, carnivorous dinosaurs when humans would obviously be prey? Both could not live together on the planet, so the Creator removed one to establish the other.") to overall social insights that indicate a Creator's hand in matters ("Like Solomon, the wise of this world wrestle with why and how the Creator established his world, and why and how he included entropy as a part of it. Contrary to its tendency toward disorder, the Creator established entropy for the economic benefit of society first and then for the individual who is a part of society. What a strange method to sustain life for humans. It is difficult to find any occupation that is not established to overcome some form of entropy, either directly or indirectly."), Driver documents evidence of God's hand in human affairs and in scientific processes.
Christian readers who want a Biblically-supported worldview in a synthesis that embraces scientific fact and Bible teachings alike will find God Answers Science a much better balanced and complimentary contrast than the usual pro/anti God stances of other books, and will find this offers much food for thought over evidence supporting God's hand in scientific discoveries and theories.God Answers Science
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A Lyle Saxon Reader:
Lost Stories of the French Quarter and Buried Treasure
James Michael Warner (ed.)
Cultured Oak Press
Kindle: 978-1-7325404-0-8 $2.99
Hardcover: 978-0-6921415-2-6 $26.00
Lyle Saxon is a New
Orleans author whose previous works consist of historical novels and
nonfiction. He's been writing for a long time, producing pieces for
but no prior familiarity with his works is required in order to
A Lyle Saxon Reader: Lost Stories of the French Quarter and Buried Treasure.
Here, perhaps holding more diversity than his full-length productions, is a compendium of writings introduced by an in-depth survey of his life, family, and New Orleans roots. While readers might wonder at the need for an extensive biographical sketch before any of Saxon's works are imbibed, it does lay a strong foundation for his many literary achievements and interests, including Saxon's long-time advocacy for the preservation of the French Quarter and his ongoing contributions to literacy in the form of New Orleans-based reflections that appeared in the Times Picayune and elsewhere.
This lead-in allows readers to better appreciate what follows: a synthesis of cultural reflection, history, and a sampler of the early years his writing career which selects writings produced between December 1919 and June 1923, each of which was originally published in the Times-Picayune nearly a century ago. The stories have been out of print since their original publication, which makes this anthology a treasure trove unequalled elsewhere.
The works are grouped into three themes: short stories, writings on preservation issues, and character sketches. As readers pursue Saxon's pieces, they should be prepared for a solid, literary range of details and discussions. Each section holds its strengths.
The short story section opens with the very short piece 'An Interlude' and presents the story of a man and his beautiful wife at a candlelit dinner on their terrace. What seems a romantic setting quickly turns to one of cruel distain as the man looks upon this beauty and declares he is tired of it: "You are ever the same; your very beauty grows monotonous. The thing which drew me to you at first has become the heaviest chain." The punch line is unexpected and elevates what seems a cruel observation, punctuating it with irony and psychological insight that explains why this beautiful creature seems almost android-like in her responses.
More short works offer the same attention to crafting strong settings and scenarios, then changing them with laser-precise, emotionally charged insights. One example is 'Reprieved', which details the day of a prisoner's execution. The condemned man reviews the events that led him to murder and this place in time with no reprieve but the one thing he can afford to lose other than his life. Readers will find themselves right there, in the prison cell of his mind and life, through Saxon's employment of vivid reflections and imagery.
Saxon wrote his pieces about preserving the French Quarter after the fire that destroyed the French Opera House. Two of these works appeared in his book Fabulous New Orleans, but this chapter contains fine stand-alone works reproduced in full, here, which explore preservation issues and politics specific to that city.
The chapter on character sketches comes from a series of short works that appeared in the columns 'Choosing a Vocation' and 'Unusual Ways of Making a Living' and featured prominent personalities of the city. The article sketches insights into not just individual lives, but the overall influence of immigrant personalities and people on the cultural and historical development of New Orleans.
Lest one think these sketches are so intrinsic to the city's history that outsiders may not be interested in their cultural and historical value, it should be noted that the works are lively, compelling pieces that will reach far from the city's borders with interesting observations and vignettes such as 'Woman Cow-Catcher Clears $15 During First Day Of Appointment' or the story of Sailor Toney, the tattoo artist.
If anything, these stories capture New Orleans' cultural, social, and historical evolution in a manner no outsider could have achieved. Anyone with an interest in the city's early history or the literary prowess of Lyle Saxon in particular will find these compelling, offbeat, and powerful works which, when presented together under one cover, create a solid work of literary and historical achievement. The collection should be considered an essential acquisition for any library holding purporting to be authoritative on the subject of New Orleans.A Lyle Saxon Reader: Lost Stories of the French Quarter and Buried Treasure
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Little Cow Books
$20 USD online, $22.95 retail stores
Mom's Turn: A Journal for the First Year of Motherhood and Stories for Staying Empowered should be at every new mother's baby shower along with the clothing and diaper bag: it's that essential an addition to a mother's tools for handling both baby and her own needs.
A mother's education doesn't begin at birth, here, but with guided journal entries for prebirth, from imagining the baby and providing a space to glue in an envelope for a mother's first gray hairs to Jennika Ingram's own reflections on what she envisioned motherhood to be, tips on how to prepare for it, and spaces for a new mother's notes about her baby's birth.
Most books for new mothers are filled with tips, reflections, and notes about the baby. The mother's needs, role, and perspective are too often lost in this intense focus on the new life.
Mom's Turn creates a space where both are honored with a series of tips on not just how to handle a baby's needs, but how to address a new mom's own fluctuating needs to stay mentally and physically fit.
This includes many important details to help mothers make their lives easier ("You may want to create a plan for your hair if you’re hoping to look like Kate Middleton after giving birth. Rare is the mother who wants to go take a shower after giving birth and before photo opportunities. Planning ahead can minimize this dilemma."), week-by-week reflections, tips, checklists, and admonitions, and even side panels for coloring to accompany such fill-in exercises as "Five ways motherhood isn’t what I expected:" or a list compiled from various experiences on "New Mom’s Favorite Baby Gadgets."
The weeks and months post-birth are also given both journal space and guidelines for considering many different questions of new motherhood, from "The most memorable thing that happened this week was…" to "Food on the floor is typical of children learning to eat regular food. I’m handling it by…" and "I want a sitter or nanny who will…"
These guided exercises assist new mothers in pinpointing common causes of confusion and frustration or broader questions of how to handle a baby and mother's needs.
Having a baby not only can, but will change a woman. Reviewing the details of these changes, how they happen, and the choices a mother has along the way allows for the kind of advance preparation most new mothers will appreciate.
This is why Mom's Turn is so highly recommended as a prebirth gift for any woman new to motherhood. The only prerequisite is a willingness to fill in the journal blanks and consider the many wise tips assembled from fellow mothers.Mom's Turn
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Postcards From The Void
Guy N. Smith, et.al.
Darkwater Syndicate, Inc.
978-1-946378-15-6 (paperback) $19.99
Amazon (Kindle e-book):
Postcards From The Void collects twenty-five stories of horror and dark fantasy and is especially recommended for fans of Stephen King, Joe Hill, and other top-notch writers working in the genre of eerie horror and dark fantasy. It should be noted that the collaborative prowess of this anthology was ambitious from the outset: it was published to celebrate Darkwater Syndicate's tenth year in business and the intention was that it "contains some of the best original horror and dark fantasy you‘ll ever read."
This lofty ideal seems to set the stage for an impossible achievement; but one satisfying note to Postcards From The Void is that its short stories more than fulfill expectations with their odd twists of plot; settings in impossible, nonexistent, yet strangely possible places; and its ability to craft hard-hitting conundrums that keep readers thinking long after the story concludes.
Take 'Blackwell, New Jersey' by Jill Hand, for example. A mysterious abandoned village has long been cordoned off, but an ambitious group of four curious explorers with an overriding mission to "...document places before they were gone, worn down by the elements, destroyed by vandals, or demolished" find a way in; and once in, the way out is not so easy. This is no stumble-in, but a deliberate plan involving a long hike, much preparation, and readers are drawn in by powerful descriptions of sights, smells, sounds, and a deadly sense of foreboding: "The air had the spicy, cinnamon scent of fallen leaves, and of rich, moist soil."
The group's fascination with history, abandoned places, and the weird is about to ramp up an extra notch in Blackwell, a town barely acknowledged in the real world—and, for good reason.
It should also be noted that, as the stories progress, a peppering of fine photos supports the text and adds atmosphere through compelling visuals.
Robb T. White's 'Spirit, Ohio' is another such place off the beaten track, where a photographer of abandoned ghost towns uncovers the ghost behind the town he's investigating which, itself, has disappeared.
As towns lost and found teeter various characters on the brink of insanity, readers will find these short stories individually compelling, each holding the power to contribute to a bigger-picture theme that runs through Postcards From The Void. Each story excels in well-developed characters, tension, horror, and a slow buildup that takes the time to properly invest in atmosphere and surprise.
The result is an
exquisitely powerful anthology that does what most should and few
build a series of interrelated scenarios that should not be possible in
real world, but which are most definitely pilgrimages into horror.
Genre readers receive stories that diverge from any hint of formula writing to delve into creative, compelling, and gripping scenarios that are hard to put down and unforgettable literary productions.Postcards From The Void
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The Real News! The
Never-Before-Told Stories of Donald Trump & Fake News
John Bernard Ruane
Post Hill Press
Barnes and Nobel: https://www.barnesandnoble.
The Real News! blends political observation, satire, and fiction in a refreshingly different perspective about Trump that uses a series of satirical stories about Trump and his media whirlwind to poke thought-provoking fun at his presidency.
Although controversies are addressed, the real appeal of this book (as opposed to the already-many Trump exposés and revelations on the market) lies in its tongue-in-cheek satire.
Readers will find these essays based in real roots which take unexpected turns. Take the piece about Oprah's possible bid for presidency. A news interview here reveals she's just waiting for the right kind of sign ("10,000 women have lined up across the George Washington Bridge in New York holding up signs saying Oprah Please Run! They want to know if this will inspire you to run?” “It’s a sign but I’m really looking for a sign with some lighting and thunder attached,” she said. “You know, stuff that there’s no question it’s coming from the Almighty.”).
From an unusual Trump protest by his base and his hilarious response ("President Trump,” she began, sounding more than a bit concerned. “You need to see this protest out here.” “Protest!” Trump smirked, waving her off with his right hand, which was holding the television channel controller. “There’s a protest nearly every day. What do I care? I got my 37 percent base, everyone else can move to one of those shithole countries in Africa or Haiti.”) to Oprah's interview with Melania Trump and her pre-election warning to America on that show, this collection's ability to offer satirical observations somewhere between fact and fiction gives it a stimulating flavor that stands out over other Trump exposés.
Political humor that comes to life in a pointed discussion of Trumpisms and their impact on social and political circles makes for both enlightening and entertaining reading especially recommended for those tired of the usual rants and raves from either side, who want a different tone with an overlay of serious irony.The Real News! The Never-Before-Told Stories of Donald Trump & Fake News
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Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second
Second Edition Copyright © 2018 by Nancy J. Cohen
First Edition Copyright © 2014 by Nancy J. Cohen
Published November 2018 by Orange Grove Press
Printed in the United States of America
Digital Edition: ISBN 978-0-9985317-2-4, $3.99, Nov. 12, 2018, Orange Grove Press
Print Edition: ISBN 978-0-9985317-3-1, $9.99, Nov. 12, 2018, Orange Grove Press
Amazon Print: https://amzn.to/2nkXGFO
Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/
BN Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.
BN Print: https://www.barnesandnoble.
Universal Link: http://books2read.com/
Given the popularity of the cozy mystery genre, it's no surprise that a guide on how to write and market these books would be of interest to a wide audience, and this expanded second edition is highly recommended for would-be genre writers who want details on how to produce a classic cozy.
Too many writer's guides focus on style and how to write; but Nancy J. Cohen's Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition doesn't limit itself to literary mechanics alone. This makes it a highly recommended pick for all levels of writers; from those who enjoy mysteries and need a clearer definition of 'cozy' and its applications to writers already well aware of the genre, but who need tips on how to sustain suspense or sprinkle believable clues throughout a cozy production.
General mystery enthusiasts should know that the cozy format requires some notable differences from a traditional mystery writer: characters must not only solve the mystery, but should find it a transformative process; each suspect should ideally hold a secret that puzzles the investigator even if it doesn't necessarily relate to criminal activity; and reader expectations should be fulfilled at the conclusion as personal motives for the crime are revealed.
A clear formula is provided for making sure all these facets (and more) are considered by aspiring cozy mystery writers. As Cohen points out, "Cozy readers expect a certain type of story when they pick up a book in this genre. You don’t want them grimacing in distaste or feeling your story is too painful for them."
From plot development, revisions, and approaches to characters and crime to publishing and marketing tips, Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition covers all aspects of production and is a 'must' for any author who would adhere to the cozy ideal while building a solid, compelling story and audience interest.Writing the Cozy Mystery: Expanded Second Edition
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The Dusty Train's Sweet
9781946312068 $14.99 Hardcover/$2.99 Kindle
Picture book readers and parents seeking moral lessons for youngsters will delight in The Dusty Train's Sweet Surprise: A Lesson in Kindness, the lively story of a shiny red bus named Goti and a dusty coal train named Vivek. They share many qualities (both are hardworking and strong), but Goti's constant teasing and snide comments about dusty Vivek's slowness begin to erode the friendship.
One day a big festival comes to town. It's Sankrant, the festival of goodwill and kindness. Goti and Vivek each plan on attending, but it will take something special to get them both on the same page.
Bright, lovely color photos of the train and bus assume the fun facial features of the animated movie 'Cars' with the story adding an extra dimension of insight into not just kindness, but how to treat friends in a respectful manner.
Parents seeking colorful picture books with appealing transportation motifs and a powerful message will find The Dusty Train's Sweet Surprise an attractive way of imparting an important lesson to young readers.The Dusty Train's Sweet Surprise: A Lesson in Kindness
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Adventure in Time
Interpreting Time's Past Press
9780996430487 $8.99 Print/$4.99 ebook
Greg's Fourth Adventure in Time joins others in the Adventures in Time series and tells of the time-traveling duo Greg and Rose, who are separated between past and present, leading Rose on a journey to locate Greg in the mid-19th century.
This fourth book in the series for older middle grade and young adult readers imbeds quite a bit of historical fact in its story, but retains the drama, strong characterization, and action of previous books in the series.
The terrain becomes rocky as Rose faces the Pirate, who specializes in stealing from the past, the possibility that her loved ones have been killed and buried in a previous time, and the certainty that anything they attempt will become steeped in pioneer experiences.
Rose's adventures read like a combination of history lesson, science investigation into the mechanics of time travel, and detective story as she unearths clues to Greg's fate and embarks on a series of journeys made realistic and thought-provoking by family encounters with people, events, and mechanics of living in pioneer times: "Dad explained how each pair of oxen had a particular yoke that fitted them better. This kept the yoke from rubbing and making sores. "Dad, how did you learn to do this?" "Oh, I watched a YouTube video made at an historic park demonstration," he replied without even cracking a smile."
Between the action, humor, struggles with the time-thief Pirate, and exploration of pioneer history, Greg's Fourth Adventure in Time makes for a winning series addition that prior fans will welcome. It will also appeal to newcomers, offering a recap of events that sets the stage for this latest adventure, and is a fine addition to both the ongoing series and the genre of YA time-travel stories as a whole.Greg's Fourth Adventure in Time
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Harpoona, The Diary
Of An Ugly Tuna
Thelma Allen Watkins
Oxford House Publishers
The first thing to note about Harpoona's many strengths is the simply gorgeous illustrations by Shawna Tenney, who lends truly original, beautifully intricate full-color creations to the story of Harpoona, who is a loner quite different from her marine friends and any other tuna she knows.
Advanced elementary to middle grade readers receive a vivid tale of an "ugly" tuna who is an orphan surrounded by mean relatives (a marine Cinderella), who faces relatives who display their own inner and outer ugliness (Yolanda, for example, is an older tuna who is a "high-spirited, loud mouth, tattletale"), but who somehow manages to make the connections denied to Harpoona.
The second note that brings this undersea story to life is a rollicking rhyme that is nicely presented not in the usual verse form, but integrated within the structural paragraphs of a typical story, making it accessible and lively for readers not normally attracted to verse in its traditional format: "The dimming sun sank into the distant ocean. Beneath the blue green deep stirred a lot of commotion." Another pleasure is that Thelma Allen Watkins doesn't force this device throughout the story line, but weaves it in and out, at will.
This isn't just another fish waiting for her Fish Charming. Harpoona sets out on a journey to find the mysterious Valley of the Black Holes, searching for medical direction and guidance.
And it isn't just about Harpoona's quest, either: There's Prince Marlin to consider, who is filled with sorrow and so badly smitten by unrequited love that "...even a swallow of that sea weed juice he poured, wouldn't go down his throat."
This fabulous story, with its outstanding color drawings, is unparalleled in artistic innovation and a refreshing standout in the children's illustration world, and cannot be more highly recommended. Its art and its tale are perfect examples of the powerful results of a marriage between two artists who are equally adept at original inspiration via pen and colorful art.
All ages will find Harpoona, The Diary Of An Ugly Tuna a compelling draw that takes the Cinderella theme and expands its complexity and message, translating it to a whimsical undersea milieu where politics, royalty, and privilege come to life in unique ways.Harpoona, The Diary Of An Ugly Tuna
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Wardens of Time
Black Rose Writing
Noah feels like his life can't get much worse: his too-busy widowed mother is working three jobs and rarely has much time for him, and last year's summer was the last good time he can remember.
Being a new kid in school after school was hard enough at the elementary level; but starting in 7th grade the atmosphere moves from uncomfortable to dangerous, with bullies dominating his new way of life.
When Wendy enters his life, everything changes. It's not just that she's angry and different, but she too is a loner, and she challenges his position of being a victim in the school by helping him escape his abusers.
The discovery of a bookshop, his newfound friend, and a new rallying of peers and school administrators to help him fight against the bullies that control his life mean vast changes for Noah; but the biggest change of all comes when dark forces enter the picture to inhabit human bodies and wreck havoc.
As Noah enters the beginning stages of a more purposeful life and gains knowledge of his real purpose, he embarks on a quest to locate the dark energies that escaped from his window, feeling the overwhelming responsibility of a new secret life that places him in the hero role rather than the victim position.
As faith and imagination coalesce to introduce to him a very different world than the one he barely survives, Noah discovers a newfound resilience to not just face his world, but affect it in positive ways.
Young readers who choose Longevity: The Wardens of Time expecting a timeslip adventure will find surprising the story of a bullied loner who makes unexpected new friends, enters unknown new worlds, and must acknowledge evil forces and his own role in containing them.
While there is a healthy dose of fantasy and adventure, the real draw of Longevity lies in its ability to combine an epic fantasy quest with the real-world story of a shy loner's growth process.
Noah is transformed by his experiences, Wendy is at his side, and a new cast of good and evil characters interact in a satisfying tale that holds firmer roots in real-world encounters and dilemmas than most sagas incorporate. Middle grade readers looking for a plot more compelling than the usual fantasy will relish this story of shy Noah, spunky Wendy, the cat Keeper who watches over Noah, and a host of forces.Longevity: The Wardens of Time
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My Afrikah Hair
Melanie L. Houston
Alabastar Box Media Group
My Afrikah Hair is a picture book that features lovely watercolors by Bahamian native Philece Roberts to compliment the theme of hair and its various incarnations. It is especially recommended as an uplifting story to be given or read aloud to young children frustrated by any perceived imperfection in their own hair and appearance.
It offers more than the usual celebration of individuality and self, mixing in an appreciation for African roots with an acknowledgement of how these roots permeate American culture as it opens with a poem ("It's mine to twine/in fiber fine,/our braids now vanity fair.") and a facing colorful drawing from the cover of 'Afrikah Hair Magazine' that celebrates locks and knots.
As readers pursue the gorgeous full-page color illustrations complimenting winning rhymes about family and spirituality, 'Afrikah hair' takes center stage in a story that is uplifting, positive, celebratory, and supportive of God, individuality, and culture.
The rainbow of colors and styles of such hair evolves as pages offer a few surprises about the narrator's background, roots, and the significance of hair throughout one's life.
Delightfully original, evocatively thought-provoking, and supportive of family, community relationships, and Christian sentiments alike, My Afrikah Hair is a unique and winning formula for not just self-acceptance, but celebrating culture and appearance. As an added note, the book is designed to be a collector’s item as well, with a gold ribbon marker and gold foil lettering on the cover.
It's very highly recommended as a standout that should become both an award-winner and a foundation selection for any elementary-level picture book collections looking for a powerful multicultural read, Christian readers, and parents who want to teach a better understanding of ethnic roots and paths to empowerment.My Afrikah Hair
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Rock & Roll Woods
Written by Sherry Howard
Illustrated by Anika A. Wolf
Clear Fork Publishing
Rock & Roll Woods is recommended reading for youngsters in kindergarten to grade 3, and features illustrator Anika K. Wolf's bright, whimsical drawings of animal friends who face a new neighbor and an assault of noise in their peaceful forest.
Bear Kuda is particularly growly about the newcomer's invasion because he doesn't like new things; particularly noises. Somehow, it seems like Bear is alone in his angst and anger; because his friends seem to be bouncing along with the music.
Kuda maintains his stance ("It’s too loud. I can’t hear the stream, or the birds, or even think.”) but forces seem aligned against his wish for peace and quiet. What's a nature-loving bear engrained in habit supposed to do?
Kids receive a fine and thought-provoking story holding several lessons about change, sounds, and different approaches to life as they follow Kuda's dilemma and how he adjusts to the one thing in life that he hates the most: change. He adds layers over himself in an attempt to mask what he perceives as assaulting noise; but the process of his emergence is narrated in a lilting, rhythmic matter that embeds the very essence of poetry, music, and sound into the narration of the story line.
Parents of autistic children, in particular, will recognize Kuda's sensory overload and will find this gentle story offers some solutions; but the read shouldn't be limited to autistic children and their parents. It holds valuable insights for anyone resistant to noise, change, and daily life challenges; all couched in an appealing, fun story that kids and parents will easily relate to and enjoy.
This means that parents, teachers, children's caregivers, and any adult involved in a child's world will find an appealing, rollicking, and heart-warming read with an important message in this compelling story of a bear's struggles with the world around him.
The author's note concluding the story and explaining its origins and insights is a special bonus to all ages seeking to understand the concept of sensory overload and why some people find even soft sounds too noisy or overwhelming, adding practical value to an already-inviting story line. Highly recommended for any adult who would explain and explore overwhelming environmental situations to the young.Rock & Roll Woods
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Stig's Flight of
Stephan von Clinkerhoffen
Publisher website - http://www.
Author website - https://www.stephanvonclink.
Amazon.com link - https://www.amazon.com/
Stig's Flight of Encounters is Book 1 of The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham trilogy and opens with colorful maps of a golden city, inviting young adult to adult fantasy readers into a land that literally runs like and by clockwork. Stig is an inventor in this world and his tinkering has produced many successes, but when the innovative spiral drive which newly powers his clockwork plane fails during a test flight, Stig finds himself far from home and in situations that test even his innovations and abilities.
Many of Stig's perceptions of his world and his place in it change; from his love of all animals, which is challenged by the evil bat-like creatures he encounters who have designs on his beloved home, to his ability to navigate through unfamiliar territory with only a map and his skills.
Even Stig's new ideas are tested as his realizations about the evil threat must be modified in the face of a silver creature, Bach, which seems to be helping him. As the boundaries of good and evil and black and white thinking blur, Stig discovers that his greatest challenges may lie within rather than in this strange new land.
Stig's Flight of Encounters is vividly portrayed, from his alliance with Meg and her knowledge of unusual approaches to fixing his plane with toxic berry oil to exciting descriptions of test flights: "Stig had given up trying to steer her and was just hanging on for dear life. As they neared the bottom, he could see that the patch of yellow was sand, and they were approaching it fast. When the plane’s wheels touched the soft sand, they sank into it, up to the fuselage, and suddenly came to an abrupt halt. The prop hit the ground, and the tail dug into the sand, launching Meg and Stig into the air. They somersaulted, over and over, until they hit the ground on their backs, sliding to a halt."
Stephan von Clinkerhoffen's attention to describing the sights, sounds, smells and forces of this world is what brings it to life and lends Stig's Flight of Encounters more of a 'you are there' feel than most YA fantasy reads impart. Readers aren't just fed a plot: they are embedded into Stig's world.
This creates an especially evocative, compelling story that is hard to put down, action-packed, and thought-provoking as Stig navigates not only unfamiliar terrain, but new relationships in a fantasy highly recommended for young adults.Stig's Flight of Encounters
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With Love from Poland
Linda Lee Keenan
Linda Lee Keenan, Publisher
978-0-692-58687-7 $14.95 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
With Love from Poland is a young adult story set in 1920 Cracow, where, against the backdrop of a prosperous textile town, young Helena Pawlowski encounters her future husband Jan Jasinski. Knocked off her heels by her chance meeting with the "...brash young man with fiery red hair and brilliant blue eyes", Helena forms a friendship destined to take an unusual turn as political events change and challenge them to take on new purpose.
The evolution of an underground group to protect their friends and family from the Nazis in 1939 introduces the history that Poland was affected by Hitler before most other countries, and suffered some of the biggest hits as well as cultivating the most resistance.
As Helena and Jan's world expands and their relationship evolves, With Love from Poland immerses young adult to adult readers in this world, complete with diagrams about the underground resistance movement's structure, dialogue between characters who build the premise and resistance, and threats that lead the group to determine they must attempt to flee everything familiar, even though it may already be too late: "By midmorning the group had come to two decisions. First, that they should leave as soon as possible and second, that they would begin life anew in America. The decision as to how they would get to America seemed impossibly complicated. There was no good way of out Poland at that point."
Especially notable is how quickly the Second World War intrudes into the lavish and rich lives of the Polish people, and how ordinary citizens become activists, then refugees from their own beloved land and fellow citizens. The journeys they all must take, from cultural heritage and connections to political revelations, resistance, and struggle, come to life in a story that perfectly captures the politics and social issues of its times.
Weaving historical facts with cultural insights about the Polish people and add romance into a young adult saga that moves far beyond politics to show how personal relationships become affected and impacted by political and social change and it's evident that With Love from Poland offers a special brand of educational opportunity not usually afforded to young adult readers.
It's especially recommended for readers of other literature of the times, such as The Diary of Anne Frank, who would receive deeper inspections of Nazi impacts on daily lives through the fictional eyes of protagonists who face many difficult choices.With Love from Poland
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