October 2022 Review Issue
Fantasy & Sci Fi
Mystery & Thrillers
979-8838302281 $16.99 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
fantasy and mythology-based stories will welcome After
the Fall: A Tale of Wes
the Olympian, a tale of discovery and adventure.
intrigue and mystery into its account of an amnesiac who discovers he's
actually a world-saving hero facing immortal foes.
that Wes has
somehow materialized in President Elizabeth Clarke's Oval Office is
and of itself; but even more deadly is the knowledge that he's actually
the God of War, reincarnated in human form.
As he joins
sorceress and child of gods Hecate and Special Agent Suzanna Morrison,
to realize the purpose of his appearance on Earth in a war which
stolen souls and deadly forces, from god-driven warriors to the
A wry sense
is apparent amid the serious confrontations and interactions. It is
the dialogue between Suzanna and Wes and in the types of relationships
evolve throughout the story: "Suzanna
frowned at him before shaking her head. “You must know we’re heading
trap. Erebus would never leave the path open unless he had a plan to
us. He missed his chance at the airport, and now he has routed us here
almost no resistance. Think about it; that tank could have easily shot
Erebus didn’t want us dead, it means he wants something else.” Her
flared as she stared down the road. “We might run into anything down
“Agreed,” Wes said, beaming. “It should be a blast. Let’s go.”
serious blend of suspense and fantasy that leads readers through
with real-world flavors with an invigorating, action-packed story in
discovers his real powers and the purpose behind his amnesia.
crafted an unusual narrative that is especially potent for its ability
a fine line between familiar, real-world settings and
characters. The clashing special interests of each world and the
others hold about Wes's role in them create a satisfying mystery that
many enlightening moments that readers won't see coming.
After the Fall is a compelling work
steeped in folklore and
thriller components alike. It's highly recommended for readers seeking
well-done characters, a fast pace, and a story that assumes no prior
familiarity with folk legends in order to prove accessible and
fantasy and thriller readers will find After
the Fall an outstanding choice.
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Independently Published $5.99 Kindle
lie the final pieces of a puzzle introduced in Embargo
on Hope, requiring Darynn and Fyra to travel to the frozen
planet in search of answers. What they find is a series of deadly
stemming from the throes of a violent revolution which leads from an
to the mysterious Kaylaa.
sci-fi with murder mystery investigation and social and political
Darynn and Frya navigate not only a dangerous planet's simmering,
conflicts, but challenges to their own hearts.
Chapter One portend a tension and attention to detail that maintains a
atmosphere from the start: "A
disembodied head floated in front of me, surrounded by endless black.
screamed through purple lips, “Butcher! War criminal!” before the sound
devolved into ghastly shrieks. Blood droplets the size of my fist
crimson oil mixed in onyx water as my paralyzed body drifted in empty
This is a
example of Justin Doyle's ability to mix compelling description with
action that keeps readers on their toes and wanting to learn more.
As the story evolves, a secret involving the fate of not just two individuals, but two worlds and many forces powers a plot that maintains a fast pace and strong characterization.
only via action and dialogue, but the interjection of transcripts and
observer influences that keep readers engaged in this chronicle of war
anything to assure the freedom and safety of Kaylaa and Frya. Even give
life for the cause.
through churches and lives, the fast-paced story proves hard to put
The mix of
interpersonal relationship developments, and social and political
makes for an engrossing struggle that invites attention on different
As a leisure
read, Assassination of Hope is a
adventure; but under its surface of entertainment value beats the heart
social, psychological, and political inspections that will have readers
about all three topics and a variety of issues.
It should be
that the tale concludes by leaving the door wide open for more to come.
Fourth Erodian Conflict promises additional changes.
looking for powerful sci-fi tales of revolution and change will find Assassination of Hope a compelling saga
that adds elements of intrigue and mystery into the mix of changing
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Cael's Shadow (Book 2, The
Larissa N.N. Davila
Stone Raven Press
979-8-9851260-2-0 $23.95 paper/$9.95 ebook
Book 2 of four-part The Sky Seekers series, continues the epic fantasy
Jhared, a soldier shorn of his wings, and Nemiah, a priestess whose
inclinations go against the grain of her teachings and society.
Ideally, readers will
already be familiar with Shorn,
which introduced these characters
and setting. The continuing story adds depth and background that leads
further attraction to and appreciation of the events that unfold in Cael's Shadow.
A (somewhat long) list
identifying principal characters
is provided to help newcomers transition into this ongoing saga, but
background familiarity will enhance appreciation of the social madness
personal angst faced by many of the characters.
A previous interest in the
confluence of political and
magical worlds will also enhance reader attraction to this vivid story,
injects wider-ranging social and political reflections into disparate
lives and perceptions.
At the heart of these
conflicts are the demon Cael, a
soldier's efforts to remain effective in changing the destructive
course of his
world, and a priestess who has a vested interest in helping her people
but loses her own identity in the pursuit.
Once again, Larissa N. N.
Davila crafts a complex story
whose premises and progression are enhanced by two powerful central
whose personal challenges entwine with social and political issues.
Powering these scenarios is
a close attention to
psychological development and discoveries that involve readers on a
level of inspection than most epic fantasies offer: "It
shamed him that the mere thought of going over the edge set
his heart racing and a cold sweat running between his scarred
shoulders. He had
faced much worse than mountain heights in the past weeks: his body
the marks of the Legacy’s hatred and Alende’s fury. It shamed him that
now, after twelve years of the Teaching and more than half that many
under the training of General Nadel, a part of him still longed to
himself off the cliff just to experience the precious seconds of
sky would offer before the rocks at the bottom crushed him."
The ironies of unprecedented
alliances are not lost on
either characters or readers: “A Forest
Guard and the bane of Avelos fighting together,” she said with a weak
“Irony exists in that I’ve not the wit to express just now.”
These uncommon and
surprising unions, which juxtapose
quite different experiences and inclinations, make Cael's
Shadow thoroughly engrossing on many different levels.
As Davila unwinds yet another series of escalating personal and political challenges affecting the survival of individuals and societies in this world, fantasy readers who look for swift action tempered by an attention to strong characterization and a solid sense of place and purpose will find Cael's Shadow hard to put down.
can be chosen as a stand-alone read, ideally it will join its
in libraries looking for well-written epic fantasies that stand out
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Website: Neal Holtschulte
Crew of Exiles is set in 2500 A.D., when
an Immortal's life ends
via suicide and his assistant in the endeavor, fellow transcendent
is sentenced to 1,000 years in corporeal form on an abandoned Earth.
expected was to become part of a ragtag band of Earth's remaining
includes a frustrated virtual reality gamer who just wants to explore
and the lone survivor of a crashed starship who, ironically, turns out
represent the collateral damage of Beryl's flawed decision.
not of Earth, he's never had to interact with humanity in this way. But
humanity's problems have just become personal as Beryl discovers a
mission than survival, friendships, serving a sentence, or personal
survival of the zombie hordes who drew her away from virtual reality
into a real world eerily akin to her fantasy life, Beryl experiences
emotion he'd never expected to witness or understand.
Nesh is a
kind of survivor, serving as a reminder to Beryl of how he'd once
like him when he was a Transcendent overseer of life.
and perspectives of all three characters grow, readers will find Crew of Exiles a powerful examination of
what elements make humanity a formidable force that survives not only
destroyers, but creators of life.
against each other, or will this motley crew find common ground for
themselves and supporting one another no matter how great their
As Crew of Exiles progresses, readers are
drawn to explore this intersection of very different beings, each of
charged with evolving beyond their origins and upbringing.
Holtschulte crafts a fast-paced story that moves through a series of
revelations and confrontations, it's the moral and ethical and
processes that grasp and hold reader attention. These elements provide
consideration of how humanity lingers on long after its world has
ceased to be.
entanglements and inspections are particularly well done, drawing
just into this futuristic and alien world, but into the hearts and
characters who each struggle to find the remnants of humanity in their
story with an emotional draw for a read that moves beyond the usual
adventure-oriented sci-fi and into a thought-provoking (perhaps even
world where quests for restoration and survival lead to an afterlife
simmers with new possibilities.
Crew of Exiles especially
as a cut above the ordinary sci-fi tale.
extraordinary sci-fi scenarios that evolve on philosophical and
levels will appreciate the depth and detail Holtschulte offers in this
exiles that meet against all odds and come together to transcend their
Return to Index
Denver Moon: The Thirteen of Mars
Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola
Hex Publishers, LLC
978-1-7365964-6-3 $32.99 Hardcover/$19.99 Paper
Mars is alive. Although this was established
in Denver Moon's prior adventure, here, it assumes a new degree of
demands a different response from her.
Thirteen of Mars is the third
in the Denver Moon series, and opens with an attack on Mars that places
planet on new alert two years after Denver Moon discovered that alien
shifters had invaded Mars Colony. Now the aliens' purposes come to life
discovery which leads Denver to realize that Mars holds more surprises
As the story progresses, it moves through
repeated conundrums as the concept of 'home' becomes mercurial, as well
question of who the aliens really are, in the story.
Denver Moon faces firefights, returns to
Earth's orbit, and receives lessons in loyalty and beings that connect
hive mind and harbor a type of devotion that operates on a biological
From a bounty hunter hired to track down a
doctor to aspects of the shape shifter community which result in
perspectives and objectives, Denver's discoveries impact humans and
Once again, Warren Hammond and Joshua Viola
have crafted an action-packed sci-fi story that profiles a pro-active
hero able to think outside the box of her training and experiences,
a setting that charges her with pulling off a miracle to save Mars.
The strong character of Denver Moon, which
was outlined previously, comes to life here for old fans and newcomers
resulting in an adventure that works as either a stand-alone read or
conjunction with Denver Moon's other exploits.
The focus on individual versus collective
decision-making processes that embrace when to follow and when to break
rules, whether in alien or human circles, is particularly well-done and
thought-provoking, dovetailing nicely with the action-packed events
from Mars to space and Earth.
cyberpunk sci-fi action at its best, making Denver
Moon: The Thirteen of Mars especially recommended for
libraries and readers
who found the prior Denver Moon adventures compelling, and who won't be
disappointed by the continuing strength of her persona and actions in
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ASIN: B0B6W87C4W $3.99 Kindle
fantasy (particularly those who have absorbed the atmosphere and mayhem
previous Heart of Stone Adventures books) will find this third and
Doom's Daze, to be just as
and unpredictable as its predecessors.
Agent Malfred ("Fred") Murd is still alive. And he's facing an enemy
that tests his ability to remain so as he rejoins his magpie advisor
woman who is an expert at breaking his heart for a foray into the
waters of a new enemy from a hidden world, and the weapon that could
A host of
enter the fray, from Agent Corvinalias (a Count in his other life) to
Ambassador Nuy B. Luwa and a zany series of adventurers and figureheads.
lively description into her story that some of the sentences are
in their length and disparate observations: "Agent
Corvinalias, who outside The Bureau was the dashing young Count of a
tree known as Upper Cloudyblue, had been born— or perhaps born is not the right word; magpies
recognize two phases of emergence, one in which a chick hatches from
and a second, whereby a fledgling gains functional plumage—at any rate
the rest of his moderately large and mildly intellectual family, was
Isle of Gold, as were the royalty of the Umans."
sense of humor and minute examination of language, perceptions, and
that is woven into the story will offer a high degree of delight to
readers looking for something different and well steeped in literary
and tongue-in-cheek observation: "And now, thought Marshal Fo, it’s time for me. He liked the sound
of that and thought about it some more, but after coming up with “it’s
me now”, he ran out of ideas. So he simply aligned his medals, smoothed
fringe of his epaulettes, and polished the toe of one boot on the back
opposite leg. In a moment he would enter the Sumptuous Dining Salon of
Citizens of Abode, Sali would watch him eat his meal as usual, and then
rang for dessert, in would come his generals, carrying hand-bombards
honey-bons— a hardship, as he loved foreign delicacies and honey-bons
among the best. But there would be time for those later; time now, he
for me. Oh! That was a third way to put it!"
rollicking wild ride through a vivid fantasy universe that nicely
absurdist forms and an imaginative fictional universe that is
whimsical in its presentation.
persevere against all odds to turn his role as an outcast Royal Fool
more meaningful will especially delight prior fans, who will find his
exploits and the new adventure setting to be just as enthralling as in
strong examples of humorous fantasy need look no further than Doom's Daze for high entertainment
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$38.99 Hardcover/$19.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
Ensnared presents the second book in the
Enchained trilogy. It
depicts Arel, a city on the edge of unrest and rebellion.
to resolve conflicts, but the ones in her heart prove the most
control as she faces an exploding city and conflicts that pull her in
in descriptions that capture not just the outward battle affecting this
but the inner compulsions that drive its characters to make difficult,
the aftermath of the prior book's adventure. This makes Ensnared
especially recommended for previous fans, who will find
that the sequel charts a seamless progression of events that further
and tests its characters.
and action drive a story with tension that keeps the first-person
her readers on their toes: "Smoke
spews from the vents as an ominous rumble builds, intensifying with
second, causing my chest to vibrate in tune to its thunder. A wall of
erupts behind me just as I slide into the second safe zone."
real strength lies in its ability to explore the courage and
narrator Noni, who thoroughly explores her rationales for trying to be
who acts alone: “You’re not alone, Noni.
You don’t need to do any of this alone.”
“I have to,” I say. “I don’t want to endanger any of you.”
she does need others, and must allow them to act as their convictions
is nicely presented and integrated into the fast-paced story: “This is my choice, and I choose to be here
for you. If this is what you want to do, if you are going to continue
people leave the city, then I am going to be with you, by your side.” I
a weak smile, unsure of what to say. I have never had anyone willing to
their life just for me, or willing to help me break the law, knowing
what the punishment is if we are caught, but Chase is; and the resolve
voice gives me strength."
questions about why people are being manipulated to destroy themselves
her influence brings to the table of political and psychological
readers will appreciate a thought-provoking story that attracts on many
dystopian fiction who enjoyed Noni's first adventures will find this
continuation of her saga just as engrossing as the first book, while
(or those looking for thriller and suspense components) will welcome
opportunity to enter this world and understand its forces and the web
which have created its characters' perceptions.
leader incites a mob, and can a woman charged with protecting her city
enforcing the laws become someone who saves not just others, but
character development, and moral and ethical questions mark a
story in Ensnared that is
for suspense and dystopian sci-fi readers and libraries catering to
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ASIN: B09WN5MHJ2 $2.99 Kindle
The Hotchkiss is not human, in this
sci-fi novella. It's a GPS unit
designed to be helpful ... even if that help involves advising berated
Charles Crenshaw on how to handle his nagging wife Alice.
It's rare to
contemporary satirical sci-fi that works well, much less offers a quick
less than two hours, yet still builds a memorable plot and a
thought-provoking set of circumstances in a short amount of time.
just hoping to defuse another husband/wife spat in a restaurant when he
suggested they purchase a GPS. Wife Alice is entirely on board,
since a planned trip to Lake Placid is being threatened by the specter
getting lost en route.
convinced that this technological wonder will be helpful, until the
"godsend" arrives and proves to sport more abilities than simply
navigating the roadways. It is equally adept at navigating a long-term
gone awry; and with this knowledge in hand, readers embark on a road
excels in depicting the next generation of technology, the Hotchkiss,
"as easy to use as a microwave" and hard to find in a store.
by an employee who directs Pierre to the competition is accompanied by
mention "you can't miss it." But if it can be missed, Charles will
miss it. Three wrong turns later, he's in sight of his dream and goal.
will it turn out to be a nightmare?
captures the dilemma, whimsy, and issues of aging adults who face new
technology in a story that also introduces the specter of a nightmare
into the promises, chips, and choices that it represents.
everything Charles wanted—and more. With it, he may never be lost
that includes navigating his aging relationship with his wife.
compelling, fun, and somewhat unpredictable as Charles finds both new
opportunity and new problems in high technology. As for his wife Alice,
goes from encouraging this new venture to realizing that her husband is
"aided and abetted by the Hotchkiss."
want a sense of just how wrong technology can be will relish the lively
dilemmas and serious inspection of ethical values gone awry in The Hotchkiss.
perfect entertainment for those who exist on the edge of technological
but the perfect warning for others who would embrace them.
short sci-fi novellas embedded with fun and a witty message of caution
find The Hotchkiss an attractive
choice that packs a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor.
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readers that look for standouts in the genre will find Ndalla’s
one of them. It's literally an out-of-this-world love story in which
finds herself traveling through time and space to Ndalla's world.
Ndalla is a
woman she's just starting to know, but this extraordinary event brings
a milieu that is at once alien and welcoming.
living in Iowa when everything changes in her life. On that pivotal day
change, she is feeling stuck, merely existing more than moving forward
cultivated now translates to feeling lonely, and the goals she'd once
envisioned have either been met or have fallen by the wayside of
On the cusp
change, Julia never imagined the kind of adventure she finds herself
on—nor the kind of vibrant relationship that redefines her vision of
awakens to discover a naked man lying in her bedroom. Closing the door
blinking doesn't help—and now a naked woman is on the other side of her
Two intruders ... can she take them on, or should she call the police?
head for the phone. But Julia is not most people, and the house phone
on the other side of these strangers.
And so she
door into discovery, love, a new relationship, and a new world.
speculative fiction element into a love story quite seamlessly—so much
readers won't find they are actually in the midst of a world-changing
until they've followed Julia into unknown, unpredictable realms.
Julia to her world by teaching her to listen to trees, environment, and
heart: “I feel a sense of ...
possibilities,” I said at last. It was the closest I could come. And
surprised myself by finding more words available to me. “I feel a sense
movement and gracefulness and acceptance and ....” My voice trailed off.
“Yes,” she said. “That is the message of the trees that you feel.”
Then I opened my eyes. “But I feel the same kinds of things when I am with you.” And I was serious. It was not an empty compliment, and she seemed to understand me.
“Perhaps because I try to live my life as the trees teach me to live it.”
terms with many unexpected aspects of a seemingly staid life up to this
transformational point, readers receive thought-provoking moments of
reflection, inspection, and philosophical analysis that contribute an
layer of intellectual value to Ndalla's
new being forged in violence and sadness, and can Julia aid her on her
through sacrifice and realization?
an adventure or a work of fantasy will find that Beth Franz creates so
more in Ndalla's World. Herein lays
the opportunity for revelations of the heart that probe avenues of not
love and adventure, but forgiveness and higher-level spiritual and
coalesce into a moving story that involves readers on many different
creating a speculative work that revolves around political, social, and
that look for works embracing these elements will find them in droves
contest between Ndalla, the Forces that challenge them all, and Julia's
which make this story richly contemplative and hard to put down.
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979-8-9866368-1-8 $13.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
Shadowsphere is the second book in the Bewilderness
series, and tells of a suicide mission to the surface world of Rootcore
lightning-filled stones that power the city of Rethia on
Isodonia. Rootcore is a mystery to Rethians.
be found on the toxic planet's surface, which is why nobody returns
this important mission of sacrifice.
been an outsider among students, is considered weird, and is avoided.
his only friend, but even she cautions him to try to fit in better.
things can't get any more difficult when his favorite classes are cut
shortages, but he's about to be tapped for a mission he never
personal goals negated for sake of the greater good: “What’s
most important is your contribution to the community. None is
any more valuable than another."
As Tav is
into a new student group and charged with a mission that could either
his demise or change the world, he begins to make the kinds of
connections that he never could in the familiar milieu he grew up in.
new understandings, relationships, and challenges that transform not
vision of reality, but change the world around him.
Kevin Cox's world is engrossing, fueled not
just by action and adventure, but the psychological twists and turns of
relationships and self which explore the world and connections within
equal depth and skill.
The action is evenly paced, the characters
work together to address a variety of survival and enlightenment
the main character, Tav, serves as a focal point for observing and
with a range of threats, from tentacled monsters and swamp shadows to
situations that test his skills and ability to survive.
Teen to adult sci-fi readers will relish a
story that moves from a mountaintop community to a quest that leads Tav
constantly question his perception of the world and his place in it.
find Tav's ongoing dilemmas absorbing and hard to put down, and will
that no prior familiarity with the first book is required in order to
and completely become immersed in the scenario and challenges of this
Libraries looking for books that bridge the
gap between teen and adult sci-fi reading will find Shadowsphere
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Sky & Stone
978-1-952723-25-4 $4.99 ebook
The Singing Shore II: Sky & Stone
is the second book in the
trilogy about Darya (a.k.a. Dasha) Krasnoslavovna, Tsarinovna of Zem’,
peacekeeping mission to the Rutsi, her country’s war-like neighbors.
satisfying introduction that summarizes the setting, characters, and
the first Singing Shore book, Sea &
Song, so both newcomers and those who read the first saga can
the action more easily. Ideally, though, its readers will be the prior
fans of Sea & Stone because
of events, characters, and atmosphere were so richly drawn there. Sky & Stone also picks up neatly
where Sea & Song left off,
a seamless continuation for those who look to continue Dasha's journey
forbidden blood magic to preserve the soul of the man she had an affair
when he was killed protecting her. She now carries that soul within her
which becomes even more complicated a matter because she is now
betrothed to a
Dasha is not
lucky in love, because that, too, falls apart in an epic manner that
on the run from two different forces, struggling to both harness and
tapping the forbidden blood magic once again.
her head and helping her walk through places of the dead, Dasha embarks
dangerous journey both through her own abilities and the choices of
them, and on routes that attract danger to her path.
story incorporates Nordic myth and metaphysical flavors as it follows
struggles to tap her strengths without draining those around her.
touches of drama and thought-provoking inspections, as well as tangled
relationships of love and adversity, are injected to keep the fantasy
fast-paced and unpredictable.
inspiration from Finland's national epic story. This will be of special
interest to those studying Finnish mythology and legends. Dasha's
loosely based on The Kalevala, while her encounters
with the animals and
environment around her are inspired by the actual flora and fauna of
Finnish traditional legends, and a sense of place heightened by Clark's
personal familiarity with and travels in the region, fantasy
seeking an evocative, literary, involving tale will find Sky
& Stone a rollicking good fantasy worthy of both
reading and study.
noted that Sky & Stone ends
a cliffhanger, to be continued in a third concluding volume. Readers
seeking epic, Nordic-based fantasy will find the literary and cultural
this trilogy to be appealing on many levels.
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Entelligent Entertainment, LLC
979-8-9858605-0-4 $2.79 Kindle
with time travel elements, mystery, and sci-fi for a sense of the
backdrop of the novella Time Terminus,
which lives up to its subtitle and promise, Expect
note of the story sounds when a pregnant ewe is hit and killed by a
Luckily, the farmer who discovered it and the rock is a retired college
professor who recognizes its value, but not its evolving threat.
Can a rock
impetus to build a time machine? It can if you're a savvy professor
science-based mindset and the ability to see future potential. But,
project can't happen without investors; and who else will believe in a
that can instigate time travel?
difference arrives with the introduction of successful Florida attorney
Templeton, who finds his nightmares edging into real life. A bold
proposition lands in his office and lap to potentially change his
syncs perfectly with his life perspective: "He
had read that a person makes their future with their every thought and
It appeared that Peter Alastair subscribed to the philosophy, and so
between seemingly disparate special interests and concerns, the
foundations of Time Terminus at
first feel mercurial
and shaky; as though too many subplots are injected into the story. But
in an interconnected opportunity to appreciate the conundrums involved
developing time travel for profit.
their own special interests, ethics, and life experiences as they move
of comfort zones and into a venture that would defy any horror
novella is the perfect example of how, under the right pen, the short
prove hard-hitting and well-developed.
will please mystery and crime story readers with its probe into special
interests; the sci-fi element reaches hard science enthusiasts with an
attention to detail and science that embeds reality with new
business novel readers will appreciate a surprising story of a
venture gone awry when it trickles from the roots of achievement into
horror of misuse.
solidified by strong, disparate characters whose special interests get
way of their new ambitions, create an absorbing story that is a
enjoy explorations of time travel's potential profits and pitfalls,
readers who appreciate evolving conundrums, and business readers
cooperative ventures gone awry will all appreciate Time
consider Time Terminus the perfect
example of efficient use of the novella form to create a multifaceted
the ability to appeal to a diverse audience.
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978-1610885874 $26.95 Hardcover/$9.49 Kindle
why many readers who absorbed F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great
assigned reading in high school should take another look at that
decades later, in adulthood. Daisy is that reason.
classic Fitzgerald characters, but assuming a life of its own, Daisy
an exceptional example of a sequel to a classic story. It should be
alongside Gatsby as a fitting and memorable adjunct
to the tale.
having read the classic may recall that the character of Daisy Buchanan
appeared in The Great Gatsby to capture millionaire
creating in him an obsession which broke when she chose to marry
to life under Libby Sternberg's hand, which brings Daisy into the world
three-dimensional character worthy of her own probe into matters of
the first person to capture Daisy's version of her relationship with
others, starting with her cousin Nick, who was the narrator in the
story: "Nick made a lot of money off my story. I penned the
words, and we exchanged more through letters after it was all over—a
game we played that helped us massage away the hurt of that wild summer
consequences. We compared memories, filling in what each of us didn’t
had forgotten. So if you’ve read his version of this tale, you’ll find
differences in mine, some small and some significant."
alongside Fitzgerald's classic, the importance, character, and
influences of Gatsby come to life from Daisy's perspective in a manner
continues to define and expand Gatsby's role, while placing this female
to the unfolding of his (and her) dilemmas and choices.
grows and changes,
flitting from love to love with a savvy perspective on her
life and how best to grasp them: "I did love Tom. Not in the
open-hearted way I’d loved Jay, but more than I’d felt for Rupert or
and by then I’d heard that Rupert, too, was dead. He, of the poor
cartography skills, had been in a headquarters building in France when
mortar hit it."
expanding The Great Gatsby's era and atmosphere, Daisy
plays a fitting
role. Read for its own independent strengths as the story of a woman
a life for herself based on realizations about love and loss, Daisy
even more compelling.
deserves its own limelight in libraries profiling women's fiction,
and experiences, Daisy is at its best when read
along with The Great
Gatsby. Its complimentary and alternative views of those
lives and times
make it recommended for classroom assignment and book club reading
is of special interest, and women of the times, the focus.
Return to Index
Collection of Stories: Volume 2
979-8807067807 $12.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
volume of Darkness: A Collection of Stories
the focus of Book 1 in probing different kinds of darknesses of heart
It will be of special interest to readers of psychological horror and
revelation who look for literary stories of murder, justice, revenge,
that feature a special blend of angst and understanding.
collection, the stories here take another step into the definition and
of darkness, creating works that represent a deeper probe into
the supernatural forces often taking a back seat to the emotional
emphasizes that the roots of horror lie in the mind and heart as much
outside events that influence the course of beliefs, choices, and
short story "Vanity," for example. Here, struggling writer Josh
Brannon faces the onslaught of editorial rejections that assault his
optimism and confidence about the power of his words. His stories
cookie-cutter enough." And neither is his life.
Kraus crafts a portrait of horror that rests not on this one life's
the dovetailed experiences of frustrated writer and blue-collar worker
the early influences shaping serial killer Billy Baumgardner, and a
enthusiastic cop who pursues justice with a vengeance.
an eye to showing exactly how this coalescence of disparate lives
how each individual was crafted by his life experiences and influences.
inspections are particularly astute: "He
sometimes wished he had the powers to cause fires just by willing it.
thinking about it. With his mind. Like that girl in the movie. Carrie. She’d had her first woman’s time in the shower. She was
scared and the other girls laughed at her. Her schoolmates humiliated
Called her names. And she paid them back. Yes, indeed, she paid them
time! His mother had watched the movie on television with him years
he was 13. She said Carrie’s mother was right: God made women bleed to
them because Eve deceived Adam and all mankind was cursed with eternal
exploration is intricate and unhurried, giving readers time to absorb
characters and their motivations for skirting, navigating, or immersing
themselves in the darkness.
dance with "Cara," about a lonely man whose rescue of a dog from a
violent abuser leads him onto roads of both redemption and revenge.
dog Bear was
his best friend for thirteen years, so after the beloved dog's demise,
pass without canine companionship augmenting this loner's life.
for dogs for sale results in Jeff rescuing an abused canine, but
end there, because abuser Stephenson lives in the same town and they
running into one another.
arises, Jeff must think hard about what kind of man he will be: one who
revenge or one able to affect a rescue even if it means sacrificing the
he loves most in his life.
thought-provoking moments where characters need to self-assess and
do, some don't. Some simmer, and some forgive.
"Funny thing about forgiveness. No matter how well
grudge is, holdin’ it is like pulling a wagon full of heavy stones. And
every slight forgiven, the cargo is lightened, and your journey that
connecting these disparate lives, experiences, and choices is a
of darkness, revelation, change, and eventual realization.
fine set of thought-provoking literary and psychological inspections
display both the power of the mind and the power of the short story
fine examples of psychological suspense and growth in this genre will
find Darkness: A Collection of Stories:
a fine choice, while book clubs looking for powerful psychological
invite discussion will find more than enough fodder for debate and
these succinct, powerful works.
Return to Index
Death Throes of the Broken Clockwork
Wayne David Hubbard
the Broken Clockwork Universe is
debut collection of poetry by Wayne David Hubbard that
observations of time, change, and love.
creativity reflected in this poetry collection's unusual title
shine in the works within, which are separated into two themed
"The Time Studies," and "The Love Studies."
filled with explorations that define and support its chapter's title.
opens the first section with a juxtaposition of personal and political
revolution as the first-person narrator reflects on how "the capitols
the world are burning" even as he awaits one who never comes and
the special blindness introduced by love, revolution, and change: "...yet in and in/we were perpetual/the
blindness of dawn/the road at our feet/now that our assassins/have
nicely with such evocative bigger-picture-thinking works as "The
of Sisyphus," which examines death and perseverance against all odds: "at first/the stones/would not/speak to
me/on my last push/they wept/that i would stay."
Each poem is
microcosm of self that expands outward to connect with the universe.
like a nova that becomes a black hole, reaching out with explosive
then collapsing into a quieter form of contemplation from which all
the sense of self) cannot escape.
such event horizons will find that each piece dovetails nicely with
surrounding it and the collection as a whole, introducing a life
unique in its quiet force and powerful voice.
seek exceptional contemporary works for their collections will find Death
Throes of the Broken Clockwork Universe
a fitting acquisition, while creative writing classes and book clubs
analyzing methods of injecting the most force into a few words will
want to use
these examples as keys to understanding the power and possibilities of
Return to Index
Halfway From Home
Sarah Fawn Montgomery
From Home is an essay collection
that imparts grief
over the past and the hope for a better future. Capturing nostalgia and
lingering lessons of life events, it considers a diverse array of
related to the richness of discovery, offering readers their own
of enlightenment and hope for the future in these pandemic times.
The first thing to note about Sarah
Fawn Montgomery's collection is that it comes firmly rooted in the kind
imagery that brings these moments to life irregardless of their place
timeline of experience: "Graduation
is coming. Soon we’ll scatter, moving to places where we can’t park—or
not for free. Where we won’t be able to look up and see moss drip from
trees, where we won’t be able to drive out to the eucalyptus grove in
and see ten thousand monarchs nestling for warmth, the whole forest
are, in reading through these works—you are here, in the moments and
points that represent transition and change.
highlight is Montgomery's special brand of autobiographical inspection
juxtaposes these timelines with wisdom gained from experience and
through them: "There is magic here,
I know. I am full of missing what is right in front of me. But I am
wanting something that isn’t there. This is only home because it will
one day. Because I will go somewhere else, in search of nostalgia, a
habit of saying goodbye."
poetic, lyrical lilt of these essays is like the kiss of love, deeply
and involving: "Whale tooth the size
of a palm held open for offerings, for help. Surface blade-slick, oiled
fat flayed and boiled. How your tooth shines when you are stripped of
flesh, rubbed down with your own disappearance. Taste sea, salt and
seep of sex. A ship is carved on your whale tooth, a dozen billowing
taut lines wrestling with the wind. You know those ropes, the ways they
capturing the body and holding it like an embrace."
This is how
sings. This is the song of place, time, connection, hope, and life.
this is why the essay form can be so expressive and haunting—under the
Montgomery's hands are such: tools of insights, discovery, longing and
revelation that is rooted in archaeology, geology, and the world of
connecting the observational to personal experience: "We
crack the geode with a hammer to split it open. It reminds me
of the book on my mother’s shelf, the one about babies sliding from the
legs of women, wonders that require pain."
It is hoped
from these quoted passages, the sense of strength and superior literary
reflection that comprises Halfway From Home will invite readers of all ilk to partake. It
deserves not just a
place in literature libraries, but prominent feature in creative
classes as an example of the powerful possibilities of intersecting
Certainly, Halfway From Home is
of the most compelling collections this reviewer has seen this year,
more than halfway over.
Return to Index
Iphigenia In Aulis
Euripides (Adapted by Edward Einhorn)
Image Comics, Inc.
978-1534322158 $16.99 Paper/$13.99 ebook
Iphigenia In Aulis
is an Age of Bronze graphic novel joining a series. The "play on
paper" has been adapted for this format by Edward Einhorn, but those
would translate this effort to the stage or public performance in any
forewarned that royalties may apply.
Euripides effort is steeped in historical accuracy. While one might
whether it is an actual translation versus an adaptation, that point is
What is more important is that Iphigenia In Aulis receives the kind of interpretation that
lends to its accessibility for modern audiences of all ages. This makes
standout both in the world of drama and in classic literature,
young adult study and understanding.
As the ancient Greek play
evolves, covering the dilemma
King Agamemnon faces over either killing his beloved daughter or
kingdom to fall into chaos during the Trojan War, readers receive an
interpretation that employs literary license in revising certain key
of the original to improve dramatic results.
Thus, the prologue,
epilogue, and dialogue have all been
streamlined and adjusted for dramatic flair and better modern audience
understanding of the history and interpersonal relationships of the
provides the graphic illustrations that accompany this translation,
his Age of Bronze works of art that create key interpretive moments in
Iphigenia be sacrificed to the god Artemis to bless the King's side of
Klytemnestra, and others of the times come to life, all ages will
this interpretation's ability to wind a history of the times into a
worthy of Shakespearian drama reader attention.
smooth the way to understanding the influences, events, and choices of
classic characters combines well with the black and white illustrations
Shanower, creating a powerful story of gods, men, conflict, and
especially recommended for assignment to aspiring young actors who
understand either the works of Euripides or the process of creating
interpretations accessible to modern audiences.
literature, and history will find Einhorn's study rich in description
belaying any thought that these ancient events require intense
history and culture in order to prove captivating and understandable.
Libraries looking for
graphic novels that are powerful literary representations in and of
will find Einhorn's adaptation of Iphigenia In Aulis a fine addition.
Return to Index
DelBello: His Life and Times
John A. Lipman
Alfred B. DelBello:
His Life and Times is not only a
portrait of an effective
politician, but an examination of the underlying concept of a style of
bipartisan politics that creates a cooperative rather than a
While this examination is
both a tribute and a throwback
to past values and processes, it also holds an important message for
future. This is why Alfred B. DelBello: His Life and Times deserves a prominent place not only
in library biography collections, but as discussion material for
debate groups and government worker circles.
Forty years ago, DelBello's
accomplishments were driven
not by special interests and the ebbs and flows of political influence,
personal conviction of right, wrong, and the individuals who supported
beliefs no matter their political party of choice.
DelBello's concerns embraced
modern-day issues. He was
ahead of his time in tackling climate change, affordable housing, race
relations, and prison reform—all headlines in today's news. But, of
interest here is his methodology and the underlying convictions which
contributed to his accomplishments.
No effective leader operates
without a guiding light; but
in modern times, that light too often appears fleeting and mercurial.
for DelBello, whose convictions made him a standout Democrat able to
members of both parties and their diverse ideals.
John A. Lipman discusses not
only the (many) milestones
of DelBello's life, but the reasons why he was able to attract and work
political members from different walks of life. He "had
the ability to attract Republican voters. He was a principled
fighter. He had stood up against conventional thinking in his own
party. As a
Democratic mayor in Republican-leaning Yonkers, he had always worked
aisle, especially during the tumultu-ous confidence vote for City
Scher. But Yonkers was merely a training ring. The county executive
the middleweight battle. The position controlled a 6,200-person
with a budget of $245 million. His victory would place him in the
Many a modern politician
today should take note of this,
because DelBello's special brand of politics fostered many
new medical centers and infrastructure improvements to efforts to
overcrowding and improve government effectiveness.
particular note is the way Lipman dovetails the
personal perspective and life of DelBello with strategies that sent
different directions, often defying the set perceptions and courses of
DelBello's own party: "Some
Democratic Party regulars were annoyed by DelBello’s out-of-region
Luddy and Berking had accepted that non-negotiable condition when they
Del-Bello to run. Matrone established an “encumbrance system” that
expected future expenditures from the budget and placed them in an
interest-bearing account. When the bill was paid months later, the
would be returned to the general fund. It replaced the county’s
cash-disbursement system with strategic investments. In a period of
inflation, this kind of fiscal juggling was revolutionary, especially
Al DelBello was an amazing person. Even more commendable is the way in which his achievements are both celebrated here, reviewed for their contributions to more effective democratic political processes.
It doesn't matter what party
the reader identifies
with—or even if they've heard of DelBello before. What is most
important about Alfred
B. DelBello: His Life and Times
isn't just his life, but his example of a methodology that sparked the
changes all Americans benefitted from.
make Alfred B. DelBello: His Life and Times a top
ideally won't just repose in a library's biography section, but will
just as active a role in discussions about political and social change
takes in this biography of DelBello's life and times.
Return to Index
Along Came a
Bold Story Press
978-1-954805-18-7 $9.99 Kindle
Stroke: My Story of Survival and Recovery is a memoir about
comes with a message: there is life
after stroke. This message serves as a beacon to others as Eileen Haas
her stroke and the recovery process that changed her life.
Where other stories of
recovery chart singular processes
and events, Haas maintains that healing is actually a lifetime
endeavor. As she
recounts this experience through the years before and during COVID, an
flavor of extraordinary times overlays the personal memoir of recovery.
documents the special challenges of having a life-threatening
recovering from it during a worldwide pandemic.
Unlike many, Haas was
already well-read about strokes
when she experienced hers. This allowed her a speedy response many
have thought of: "Even now, I’m
amazed at my presence of mind. I could have just fallen apart. I could
just died. But I sprang into action instead."
The life-or-death decision
she made occurred in nearly an
instant, but its results helped her return from the brink of death to a
life: "They say your life flashes
before your eyes when you’re dying. Mine didn’t flash before me, but I
contemplate death. And I decided not to die (obviously, or I wouldn’t
writing this). Eventually I would die, of course, but I wasn’t ready. I
done having adventures, that was for sure. That was right, because I’m
quite an adventure recovering.
Anyone who wants to know
what it feels like to experience
a stroke and a life-altering condition must consult Along
Came a Stroke. It's as much a memoir of the recovery and
rebuilding process as it is about the stroke experience, charting the
a woman who would never be the same.
From stages of grief
revolving around her stroke's
experience and its aftermath to lessons she learned about recovery and
in facing disability, readers gain much wisdom on subjects ranging from
wheelchairs and non-limb use to adaptations that can create Catch-22s
hinder the full recovery process.
These honest revelations
also set Along Came a Stroke apart
from other stories of strokes and
recovery. They need to be heard and absorbed by readers, ideally well
stroke or life-altering medical condition is experienced.
This book also excels in
exploring the falsehoods and
illusions that permeate and affect recovery choices, making it a
wise advice that readers from all walks of life would do well to
because "In life, you can get away
with this. I’m sorry to say, when you’ve had a stroke, you often can’t.
that moment when nobody is around and you have to climb that ladder.
people just wait until someone is available. I’m too impatient for
Normally, that’s not such a good trait. But when it comes to getting
over a stroke,
This candor sets the book
head and shoulders above most
stories of strokes, recovery, disability, and survival: "I
don’t know about you, but my goal has been
to be normal. A therapist
a good one) told me, several years ago, that “normality is overrated”;
be forever remembered for that remark. By normal, I mean that no one can tell I’ve had a stroke.
Until I tell them, which is at my discretion. This has been my goal.
I’m beginning to wonder, do I really want that? Do I want to give up
privileges (yes, privileges!) that come with being somewhat disabled?"
Any library strong in health
and healing guides, as well
as a wide range of readers (to include not just stroke survivors, but
interested in the nuts and bolts of returning to normalcy after a
experience), must place Along Came a Stroke at the top of their
Ideally it won't just repose
on a library lending shelf,
but will become an active part of book clubs and reading groups devoted
recovery, healing, and better understanding the processes and options
Return to Index
America’s Early Women Celebrities: The Famous and
Scorned from Martha
Washington to Silent Film Star Mary Fuller began as an effort
to define the
presence and actions of female heroes in American history. Ironically,
definition evolved to include a consideration of the element of
that prompted these women to live up to their full potentials, whether
them to fame or scorn. The original concept envisioned by Angela Firkus
this book, that "celebrity is a status negotiated between someone
and her fans," proved to be more complicated and wider-reaching than
process of selecting biographical sketches for inclusion, it became
that the general definition of "fame" also needed to include the
notorious as well as the favorably acclaimed.
attraction and unusual direction of this book, which focuses on women
big risks in order to not just live their lives, but thrive within
abilities and circles of interest.
host of symbols of perseverance, with the book's structure designed to
the different approaches of women who often moved in separate but
in the third chapter juxtaposing Lydia Maria Child and Frances Wright
the 1820s and 30s, promoted messages of equality and social justice for
The choice to contrast these seemingly disparate lives offers a rare
opportunity for readers to absorb not only these individuals, but their
of celebrity to achieve similar goals in different ways: "The
two crusaders pursued celebrity to break through and be
heard. They believed in many of the same causes but presented their
tried to persuade their audiences very differently. Wright cared little
subtlety and prompted intense reaction. Child tread lightly until she
by her conscience to speak more plainly. The two women won admirers but
possibly an equal number of Americans denounced them. Child and Wright
back down and promoted equality as long as they were in the public eye."
More so than
singular coverage of women's history and biography could have achieved,
contrast of these lives to identify their influences, drives, and
methodologies in achieving their goals creates a rare opportunity to
understand how celebrity status fosters goals and beliefs.
range of social issues, from censorship to social improvement. Whether
by a sense of justice, the pursuit of adventure, or an attraction to
made a difference not only in their lives, but in the lives of those
insights into their personal objectives and reactions to fame,
important details about the public pursuit of entertainment: "Women and men wanted their celebrities
to be even more active than they were. Lecturers and writers continued
attract attention, but Americans admired more those who performed feats
courage or skill like they read about in the extremely popular dime
Calamity Jane became one of the most famous daring women in America but
probably led a much less outrageous (though maybe equally dangerous)
the one attributed to her in books and articles."
footnoted references will find plenty of supportive material here,
points the way for additional reading about each woman and her times.
The result is more than a highlight of early female celebrities.
America’s Early Women Celebrities adds
the underlying social and
political analysis of their eras to provide readers with an in-depth
of the act of becoming a celebrity and its impact on the world: "Without a doubt, celebrity is a
phenomenon that cannot be avoided in the twenty-first century but it
origins long ago."
women's history and biography will find America’s
Early Women Celebrities a powerful choice supported by
extensive notes and
references. But it's also a top recommendation for book club and
groups who would better understand the changing roles of women in the
and the individuals who fostered these changes via achieving and
their celebrity status.
Return to Index
Cowboy from Prague
Charles Ota Heller
heard these words of hate in high school ... in the land of the free,
and his parents narrowly escaped the brutal Communist regime in
It was an endeavor that moved them from living a life of wealth to
a strange new land nearly penniless.
They were words that would plague his life and seem to
thwart any ideal
of success. And yet, he persisted.
with adapting to his new home by speaking English without an accent and
becoming "100% American," Heller struggled with his past and present
prejudice to achieve success against all odds and under any definition
Prague: An Immigrant’s
of the American Dream records that process. It adds to the
immigrant experience and contributions to American history and culture
offering both familiar examples of struggle and prejudice and
efforts that link perseverance to the ultimate American dream of
and success for all.
In many ways, Cowboy from Prague
documents concepts, ideals, and processes similar to the wealth of
experience already in print. In others, it represents a departure, in
on different types of prejudice and how they affected the narrator's
perceptions of life in the land of opportunity.
These passages are marked by specific
examples and memories: "The football coach looked at me,
turned back to
Smith and launched a wad of saliva onto the green grass. “This
bullshit!” he snarled. “Only goddamn immigrant freaks kick the ball
side. This is America, and that’s not football.” With that, he walked
the direction of his office. I felt as if the squat little man had
kicked me in
the groin as hard as I had kicked the football. I stared at Smith
in search of an explanation. Cap was watching the football coach wobble
hill toward the school building. Finally, he turned to me, and I could
his eyes were moist. “I’m sorry, Charlie. Apparently, Coach Flynn is
fond of immigrants. I’m afraid you’re going to meet a few people like
examples (and in this narrative) lies in "what happened next,"
because Heller is the perfect example of gaining wisdom, strength, and
pathways from adversity.
from Prague is full of such
examples as it documents
how this immigrant changes not only his history, but those around him,
attitudes and drive.
Unexpected humor is one thread that keeps
Heller's story engrossing. It appears at points where one would least
it, demonstrating the versatility of thought and approaches to life
serve him well in America.
As readers pursue Heller's story, they will
come to realize that his book represents more than a singular life or
experience. It's the voice of a nation with a history of taking in
fortunate and providing avenues of success unavailable in any other
and it follows the successes and failures of America's own dreams and
In the end, it reinforces those very
American principles that draw immigrants in the first place: "I
Cowboy from Prague in support of enlightened Americans—those who not
understand the economic benefits of immigration, but who believe that
human beings in distress is what this country has always done—whose
drown out the insults and bravado of the haters. That is the America
which I dreamed as a 12-year-old in a refugee camp. That is the nation
allowed me to pursue, and realize, the American Dream. That is the
about which I decided to write."
strong in immigrant stories will want to consider Cowboy from
Prague, it's also a powerful
analysis of the
qualities that make America accessible, the ideals of it being the land
opportunity for all, and the types of people that either represent or
this ideal by their attitudes and actions towards immigrants.
Heller's story will ideally be pursued in
discussion groups not just devoted to memoirs of immigrant experiences,
surveys of the American dream and how it is translated in real life.
Return to Index
Dad Died, Then Mom
Trilogy Christian Publishers
978-1-68556-685 $17.99 Paper/$8.49 Kindle
Dad Died, Then
Mom: Siblings' Spiritual &
Inspirational Memoir as Caregivers is a memoir about love, spirituality, and
caregiving that chronicles the adversity, struggles, and rewards of
raised to believe in loyalty to the family above all.
had passed since her parents died, but Malia Arries felt compelled to
in hand and chronicle her family's experiences. Caregivers who are in
position of helping their loved ones will be glad she did, because this
much a chronicle of love in service and assistance as it is a story of
parents in their final passage from life.
opens, Dad is about to die. This process receives in-depth coverage
not just events but emotions and atmosphere to life: "A
of rhubarb custard pies Mom had made over the years now competed with
medicines, cleaning supplies, and body wipes. Fresh lilacs I had picked
that day and placed by Dad’s hospital bed offered a glimpse and scent
the moment is captured with an immediacy that creates a "you are
here" feeling in the reader: "I had always loved hearing
grandfather clock, musically announcing the quarter hours and then
the full hours. But on that night, I was consciously and unconsciously
only on the sound of Dad’s breathing."
territory is experienced in different ways and navigated with the
of familiarity combined with the certainty of spiritual reflections and
readers receive important guideposts to connecting the end-of-life
with their own ability to laugh and create memorable moments right up
different end-of-life experiences which both challenge and embrace the
left. As the siblings learn how to navigate these changes and maintain
sense of love and loyalty that lets them help each parent in different
readers receive thought-provoking, moving insights into the caregiver's
mercurial role and adjustments needed to make them work.
acknowledges the difficulties but tempers them with insight and
were some challenging times caring for Mom which became endearing and
as we thought back."
result is a
moving memoir. Readers usually receive poignant, angst-driven caregiver
experiences, but it's refreshing to note and experience the underlying
faith, and joy that permeate this account of caring for two parents on
different end-of-life journeys.
Died, Then Mom a standout in
especially recommended for Christian libraries and discussion groups
in books that document shifting family experiences and relationships
honor that comes with celebrating the life that Malia's parents shared.
Return to Index
Find a Place for Me
Pact Press/Regal House Publishing LLC
9781646032839 $17.95 Paper/$8.99 Kindle
a Place for
Me: Embracing Love and Life in the Face of Death is a memoir
about life, a
spouse's death, and the impact of an ALS diagnosis on marriage and a
determined to live life to its fullest.
Readers won't expect humor
and laughter to permeate this
couple's end-of-life story, but these are integral components of their
and their approach to death as well as life, and lend a special flavor
Deirdre Fagan pulls no
punches as she discusses their
initial denial and misunderstandings about the nature of Lou Gehrig's
and the meaning of her forty-three-year-old husband's devastating
diagnosis: "I was in the deepest denial I’ve
experienced in my life, and raw and painful energy was simmering just
the surface. If there are parts of our brains responsible for certain
locked away the part that could learn anything about this disease, and
on with the part that thought what we were talking about was something
really not a fun diagnosis but isn’t something that will kill you."
There are many emotional
revelations about the course of
their marriage after diagnosis that reveals the crux of their
how this foundation was affected by ALS: "I
subscribe to the idea that truth and knowing are always better than
Bob and I both did. It’s part of why we both gravitated toward
and I agreed we couldn’t deal with or grow from what we didn’t know.
of all kinds are built on trust. I firmly believe that it is by not outing such information, even in
relationships we are committed to maintaining, that we grow more and
distant from our partners. Not telling Bob would have made—in the case
of my fortieth-year
crush—a mountain out of a molehill. Keeping that crush to myself would
helped those feelings to snowball, instead of Bob and me melting them
Hiding and not telling never seems to do much good in any situation."
Whether it's attractions to
others, rejecting the
ultimate results of an ALS diagnosis and its impact on daily living
point, or the influence of family and friends (and their lack of
Fagan creates a dialogue that gives insights into the caregiver
that evolves, in addition to a couple's challenges.
Perhaps most eye-opening of
all is the growing isolation
the disease and Bob's increasing limitations have on their lives and
choices: "While the update letters make it
as if we were surrounded by love, which clearly we were in so many
much of that love was far, far away. There were many people who did not
our daily lives."
Raw, candid moments of
marital change affected by the
disease's progression come to life under Fagan's hand: "Words
had meant everything to me and to Bob for so much of our
marriage. Talking and writing side by side kept us strong and united,
why we often opted to go to a hotel on a date rather than into the
sphere. Slowly, however, as Bob had predicted, I increasingly took my
elsewhere. As painful as it was for me to tear myself from Bob, like
of Velcro adhered to each other, he was too tired, and I needed to say
didn’t want to say to him."
More so than most memoirs
about ALS, Find a Place for Me hits
home, hits hard, and addresses the special
heartache of losing a beloved partner "one degree at a time."
It provides a blueprint for
any others who may find
themselves in this position, whether from ALS or other degenerative
conditions. It's both a celebration of life and a walk through the
changes caused by debilitative disease, providing insights about daily
and emotional challenges that readers can apply to their own situations.
Libraries strong in memoirs
about marriage, love, and ALS
will find that Find a Place for Me
stands out from the literature with its inspections of life, love, and
husband's ability to still make his wife laugh despite the anguish of
shared, vastly revised lives.
Return to Index
Fragile Minds: An Advocate's
Diane Lane Chambers
Ellexa Press LLC
978-0-9760967-8-8 $17.99 Paper/$8.99 Kindle
Advocate's Story is a memoir that journeys through bipolar
mental illness. It tells of a family history of mental illness that
Diane Lane Chambers in her fifties.
She'd been diagnosed with
breast cancer, finished
treatment, and become involved with fellow survivors, only to
repeated deaths as her new friends lose their battles with cancer.
The road from repeated grief
and loss creates a downward
slide into mental instability: "They
say there’s a link between stressful events and susceptibility to
death of a loved one is one of the top 10 stressors. I hadn’t realized
the death of my father shortly after my cancer diagnosis, coupled with
of two friends from breast cancer, and then my beloved Bert, had taken
toll on me. I began spiraling downhill, aware that something was very
with me, but I had no idea what it was."
Her condition belayed her
perceptions of what depression
was and how it presented in life, and so Chambers missed many of the
signs that something was very wrong, until her illness could no longer
As she became more aware and
knowledgeable about not only
her own condition, but medical and government responses within the
health system, Chambers came to realize the need to write about her
and revelations. And so Fragile Minds
was born to tackle the issues not just from a patient's perspective,
an advocate's mindset.
This approach sets Fragile
Minds apart from many memoirs about mental illness. From her
work on psych
wards and the encounters with staff and patients that led to a
revelation that many with severe mental illnesses were not being
harmed, to her evolving fight for reforms and change, Fragile
Minds juxtaposes personal and community thinking in a
Readers who anticipate
another memoir steeped in
self-analysis will find that Fragile
Minds differs from most. It juxtaposes discussions of mental
self-revelation and analysis, and greater involvement in
Chambers takes the needed
next step in moving beyond her
experiences to address mental health system failures and how to address
correct them. Portraits of other sufferers contrast different
the types of changes Chambers seeks to make through her own efforts and
of advocacy programs.
The result is a wide-ranging
memoir that deserves not
only placement in any library strong in mental health memoirs, but
interested in community issues and health community challenges.
Ideally, it will not repose
on such shelves, but will
become a flash point of conversation for book clubs, advocacy groups,
mental illness treatment professionals who will see in its stories and
the roots of positive change.
Return to Index
Involuntary Reroute!!! is a business
biography that follows Robert
Laney's realizations about the airline industry and how it really works.
lessons learned about fares, first class seating, and the logic of
moves from flying the friendly skies to moving through business logic: "An involuntary reroute took place,
teaching me the basics of airline deception, and inventing new
tools. Most travelers have no idea that airfares are a game or even how
play. Overvalued fares are only real if you pay them. In the
century, most won’t overpay, and neither should you."
receive a plethora of tips about saving money and flying better won't
disappointed, but to consider Involuntary
Reroute!!! a how-to guide about flights and fares alone would
be to do it a
much about business decision-making, processes and the finer art of
bargain mentality as it is about the airline industry and his
From a rogue
affiliate's plan to steal a business to how industry discounts really
legal cases that evolved over trademark infringement, sabotage, and
branding processes, Laney's story is replete with the cat-and-mouse
games of a
thriller, yet cultivates an inspection of real-life business processes
provide a far deeper probe into the business practices of the airline
as a whole and the actions of Laney and others who operated within its
It offers business
readers many historical
references and insider insights about everything from promotion and
ethical and moral decision-making within and outside a business
litigation stories abound in a lively blend of expose and business
that reads like fiction, but is thoroughly steeped in real-world
within the airline business.
is a fun
and enlightening inspection of airline follies and business practices
appeal on many levels. It works as both an entertainment piece and a
subterfuges and deception, illustrating business processes that have
taken place under the radar. Until now.
a lively exposé
in the form of a business
professional's memoir will find that Involuntary
Reroute!!! is the perfect blend of drama and probe into
airline tricks and
traps, designed to attract a wide audience beyond business
Return to Index
It's About Time
978-1-66783-752-9 $14.99 Paperback/$9.99 ebook
About Time is a memoir about a
boy coming of age in
Compton, California in the 1950s and 60s. Readers who expect the usual
family experiences and social integration will find that Mickey Bridges
an unusually harrowing and detailed story. It follows a boy who finds
on the wrong side of the tracks, heading for disaster as he impregnates
drops out of school, moves in and out of prison, and eventually lands
For most, this would be the end of the story
(and the end of the line). Mickey doesn't know how to forge a better
himself, and every choice he makes just lands him deeper into crime and
Readers will find that the meat of this
memoir lies not in how this life goes off-rails, but in the process
which he grows into a better life for himself, against all odds.
He wants to do his time and gain freedom,
but this goal is fraught with setbacks, even in prison. As he finds a
Bridges documents his character's progress based on real-world events,
background, and his own work with disadvantaged students.
than a way out. He found God and a meaningful life work that allowed
help others in similar situations. This occurred even in a prison
because Bridges took advantage of a program and approach that created a
foundation for achievement both within and beyond the prison's walls: "After my mother passed away, I knew it
was time for me to get down to business. I wanted to get out of prison
shortest amount of time possible. I needed to prepare myself to be able
with the rest of my life without my mother’s help, guidance, or
vowed to do the best program I could. I worked every day on the trade
when I was off, I would read the Bible or practice on my saxophone or
didn’t spend a great deal of time associating with the other inmates,
as I was
preoccupied with doing my own program."
is an inspiring
memoir that shows how even a life in dire straits can recover and
a giving, meaningful experience.
memoirs of personal and spiritual transformation will find It's
About Time an excellent
selection. But its real value
lies in insights that lend to book club discussions both within and
prison system. A classroom assignment of this memoir at the high school
would also provide much food for thought and debate.
Return to Index
The Long Surrender: A Memoir of Losing My Religion
will appeal to
those interested in faith and wisdom. It is the story of a "Jesus
freak" who lived most of his life immersed in the dogmatism of
became a minister, a father, and a missionary, bringing his faith and
family to Taiwan, where they all broadened their faith and its
It was only
years of preaching that McDonald walked away from some of his engrained
concepts of spirituality and Christianity to discover a new brand of
faith that taught him yet another new language.
The Long Surrender is a memoir that
explores faith within the
larger contexts of life experiences, encounters, and blossoming
as being a musician.
embrace a more flexible and supportive view of Christianity in his work
Chinese communities, he translated his prior dogmatic viewpoints into
could better resonate not only within himself, but his followers: "The stories of Moses, Abraham, Jacob,
Gideon, Joshua and others offer accounts of the journey of a people of
Indeed, some say these were myths created to give people a sense of
and to carry on the lessons of their faith. I began to take this
preaching and felt a certain freedom. I emphasized the lessons we could
in our modern times. I did not say that I did not accept the Bible as
true. I just did not emphasize the teachings that such a view
challenges of faith, cultural precedent and transformation, and
revised presence (and message) within the Chinese community are
passages that offer much food for not only thought, but discussion: "The challenge came from members of my
congregation whose families had observed the Christian faith for
and did not accept this metaphorical approach. When they embraced
they rejected the cultural perspectives of their families and countries
origin. In some cases, they had been rejected by their family for their
decision. By and large, the Chinese preachers they heard at conferences
other churches emphasized that the Bible is to be understood in a
straightforward, literal manner, not symbolically or metaphorically."
more than a memoir of spiritual realizations alone, as readers might
expect. The Long Surrender is a
Christianity in action in changing communities that explores a life in
ministry and the newfound connections created by McDonald's quest to
his own beliefs.
and readers looking for multifaceted stories of transformation and
will find McDonald's journey intriguing, as he no longer identifies
a Christian, but states: "I consider
myself a follower of the teachings of Jesus, whose teachings did impact
greatly. Jesus’s teaching of the value of each human has defined my
Ideally, The Long Surrender will become central
to readers of all faiths, discussed in groups of thinkers and spiritual
followers who want to reconsider the impact and underlying beliefs of
and its translation in modern times.
Return to Index
My Friend Richard: A True
Verdugo Mountain Press
ASIN: B0B6S7FXMW $2.99 Kindle
It's unusual to see a ghost
story presented as a memoir,
but My Friend Richard: A True Ghost Story
is such a study in friendship and reality. A teen who dies in a fire
haunt author William Hart with a special request—the result of which is
book, which is recommended for those who hold the belief that ghosts do
Audiences consisting of
quasi-believers and ghost story
scholars will find the premise and circumstances of this particular
unique, in that the ghostly encounter occurred years after death and
an initial friendship between ghost and hauntee.
The story is further
enhanced by other encounters with
ghost believers, skeptics, and those who provided insights into the
nature of the spirit world.
As William Hart traverses
unfamiliar territory and comes
to find that Richard displays the same young personality as he held at
point of his death, while William has evolved on many levels, the
well done and intriguing.
Equally absorbing are the
reflections on a lifelong
friendship that may have ended prematurely, but lingered on in both
minds: "I was probably Richard Johnson’s
closest male friend during the last eight or nine years of his life.
had another friend anything like him. He was the most intellectually
my friends and also the most artistically gifted. In the years we were
was my most adventurous friend and least wise. Nobody has ever
thinking more than he did. Often, with a cutting comment followed by
sarcastic laughter, he slapped the Pollyanna out of my dreamy head."
Also intriguing is the
malevolence described by Hart as
he tries to help his deceased friend, only to experience pain and
visions of Richard's impact on his life.
Can Richard see the future?
Is his shape shifting form in
William's life a portent of disaster, or promise?
Readers who expect a series
of "I saw a ghost"
discussions will be surprised (and delighted) to find there's much more
on here than an exploration of ghosts and reality. Equally forceful are
descriptions of an evolving friendship that moves from life to death
again, creating new connections, influences, and revelations that will
thought-provoking to readers as they did to the author.
The prerequisite for
thoroughly appreciating this title's
unique features is at least a quasi-openness to ghosts. Audiences who
a belief will find the added value of friendship and interpersonal
elevates My Friend Richard: A True Ghost
Story to levels not present in the majority of ghost story
Libraries seeking to augment
their ghostly collections
with something different will find much food for thought in My Friend Richard: A True Ghost Story,
while discussion groups of paranormal and friendship themes will want
include it as an engrossing, unique presentation. It captures not just
man's ghostly encounters, but the essence of a complete relationship
changes the nature of belief in the afterlife and the meaning and
ghosts in everyday living.
Return to Index
One Last Song For My Father
Exit Studio Publishing
For My Father: A Son's Memoir represents a son's effort to present a
"fair portrait of the man" to both honor and explain his father's
his regular yearly visits to his family in Puerto Rico evolves into
witnessing his father's decline into dementia, Edwin Fontánez captures not
just these observations, but their impact on his family: "The
ripple effect of his turn of health dramatically impacted the family
leading me into unknown territory as my father’s affliction followed a
devastating cycle that lasted over sixteen years."
copious notes he took during this period of time results in this
tribute and exposé, which contemplates the unfinished relationship
father and himself and the impact of how matters began and ended
years ago, Fontánez
mourned the loss of a
man who while, still technically living, had moved into a realm that
family his personality, memories, and connections: "Heartbroken,
to accept that I had lost the opportunity to strengthen our emotional
disease had robbed me of all those years I had looked forward to
memoir celebrates these elements posthumously, documenting a
process many readers follow as they pursue their own loved ones into
shadowy realms of dementia.
and white family photos and artwork throughout supplement these
personal reflections of father and son, providing visual reinforcement
who these people were and how they once lived their lives.
the strongest aspect of this memoir, which sets it apart from
other celebrations of parents' lives, is the author's attention to
the ripples of change that affected family connections, as when his
temporarily rescued a little girl cousin from a bad situation, only to
new family member had to be returned to her home: "Though it
for a few weeks, at least my mother, sisters, and I had witnessed this
side of my father which had come to life with the presence of this
As great as his enthusiasm was for giving our cousin a better life, so
grief at losing her. Suddenly, the house seemed emptier. I realized how
underestimated the light and energy she had brought into our lives.
conceal his heartache, Papa never mentioned her again. Understanding
hurt and disappointment, neither did we."
insights create the foundation of who the man was and his intense
connections with family before everything changed. The progress of his
is made all the more poignant by the time taken to fully capture this
while the moments of loss are highlighted by intimate glimpses into how
reacts to these vast relationship changes: "So it happened
that on my
arrival on that afternoon back in July 2014, hoping for a pleasant
asked him, “Papa, do you recognize me?” He looked at me smiling but his
“No” broke my heart. Yet as disheartening as his answer was, I insisted
asking him the same question in every exchange we had, knowing quite
his answer would be. It was a harsh awakening into a surreal reality."
memoirs discuss the ravages of dementia, but too few take the time
to probe deeply into the nature of family relationships and
took place before the downhill slide.
intention is to provide a full-faceted reflection of his father's life
times. He achieves his goal with love and insights gleaned from his
self-analyze, observe, and document the highs and lows of his father's
his own relationship with him.
result is a
memoir that embraces essays, poetry, and journal writing to capture the
of not only Puerto Rican roots and heritage, but the nature and impact
father who often proved a challenge to connect with, given the inherent
machismo of the Hispanic culture and the fact that his son is gay.
For My Father is more than a celebration of one man's life. It's
a cultural and psychological exposé that represents an aria of
love, and cultural identity that traverses two very different, yet
deserves a prominent place in any library strong in LGBTQ
literature, father/son relationships, and intimate inspections of
Return to Index
D'Ann Katsu Davis
Workbook For Inner Peace And A Playbook For The Revolution is an allegorical autobiography of a mantis
that comes with an added bonus: embedded original music by D'Ann
Davis, specifically designed to augment the story.
music bio, Davis quickly realized an even greater interest in writing a
the music, as well.
the feel and special perspective of this book than the author, who
defines its mercurial form: "Playing Mantis is a story within a story within a story within a
story. It is the
spiritual autobiography of a praying mantis, and an allegorical memoir,
at the same time answering the question of “what the hell” am I doing
music and sounds? Which was a central goal. But it also came to embody
social and even cosmological themes."
are an amalgamation of various spiritual teachers and influences that
incorporate an unusual countenance as events are related from the
view of a male Buddhist and female indigenous praying mantis.
note in this story is a powerful sense of people and places. These are
captured in first-person observations: "Terri
Lyn has a full goddess body, full of lusty laughter, sparkles and life.
long hair is brown, and her flashing loving eyes are green. Like many
folks here at Kalani, Terri
practices yoga and meditation. But I don’t. I just clean up the place.
Which I mean to do as a
meditation, but I’m
too young and my head is too full. Sometimes I try too hard to
that doesn’t work either. But I do walk a lot, and that clears the
head. And I
walk a lot here. These long jungle walks among the wild fragrance of
tropical flowers are one of the reasons I like where I work."
transformation work that adopts a different perspective about the
healers and spiritual forces that move through it, and those that
carry the narrator through life.
the full-bodied flavor of this experience, which contrasts diverse
as Eastern and Western philosophy, presents succinct round-up words of
by various 'mantis' incarnations (Medicine Mantis Says 'When people and nature are in perfect
harmony magic and beauty are everywhere'), and blends musical
enlightenment and creative spirit into its experiences and
observations: "She inhales air, and exhales
She is a Native Ameri-can flute—mystic and enchanting—haunting and
is full of heart, peace, and gratitude as she plays her offerings of
all who reside in the Seven Sacred Directions of her Sound Medicine
lyrical work that begins and ends with music, infusing this into high
spiritual revelation and life inspection that will prove particularly
attractive to readers interested in more than just memoirs of personal
thought-provoking, and spiritually revealing, Playing Mantis lives up to the weighty promise of its
subtitle (A Workbook For Inner Peace And A Playbook For The
with a format that is at once easy to access and hard to define within
usual genre boundaries.
Libraries and readers interested in
spiritual, philosophical, and artistic explorations will find the
focus of Playing Mantis exceptional, representing a
free fall into
healing and growth that is unusually lively in both perspective and
Return to Index
Forever the Music Man
$28.00 Hardcover/$19.99 Paper/$19.99 ebook
Forever the Music Man follows the
private and public life of an
actor who achieved fame, but kept his life tightly under wraps. Debra
interviewed family members as well as fellow actors and conducted
research to bring Preston's life to light, resulting in a biographical
that offers not just enlightenment about his personality and career,
sense of the times that influenced his vocational trajectory.
career was affected by his rejection of the typical Hollywood culture
era and the interactions between special interests that directed much
film culture's choices both on and off stage.
perfection, he eschewed ventures that assumed political influences on
choices in favor of preserving a very private life against the
fame and Hollywood community influences.
kind of in-depth inspection that lends to a thorough understanding,
footnoted references that lead back to interviews and sources that
portrait of Preston's outlook and experiences: "Preston
was eager to be featured in a comedy film and had honed
his comedic skills by watching old Carol Lombard movies. He
the secret to an actor’s success in a comedy role “is to play every
with tremendous seriousness, no matter how funny the circumstances;”
actor must be able to “lose his own sense of humor to make a scene play
interest to fellow aspiring actors are the ways in which Preston
challenged himself to seek out, accept, and participate in roles that
expand and further his acting career.
performing in a wider variety of genres than most actors and his
perfection that led him to fame outside the usual social connections of
Hollywood create a biography that is as firmly rooted in the history
methods of the film industry as it is in Preston's life and movements
powerful survey recommended not just for prior fans of Robert Preston's
but for would-be actors who can use his proven routes to success to
own paths forward in the competitive industry.
Readers outside of
acting who choose Robert Preston:
Forever the Music Man
for its scholarly probe into Preston's life and
achievements will find the close attention to the variety of
productions to be
enlightening and absorbing.
in film and stage biographies must have this delightful, in-depth
Robert Preston's world and how he approached and furthered his career
Return to Index
H. Claude Shostal
Golden Door: An American Journey is a biography of a Jewish
from Europe in 1941, their survival as penniless immigrants in America,
journey that led H. Claude Shostal to become a civil leader and world
If any book were to define
and represent the American
immigrant experience and the fulfillment of the promise of opportunity,
would be Through New York's Golden Door.
Through Shostal's eyes, readers become immersed in a story of one
family's history and struggle that follows them through their escape
Europe and their experiences in America.
References to his father's
memoir and the influential
people that affected the family's lives are accompanied by black and
photos peppered throughout, which bring these people to visual life.
As Shostal develops an early
craving to visit far-away
lands, attends Harvard, and forms close bonds and friendships that
into adulthood, readers receive an engrossing inspection of a life that
under many political and social changes in America.
Returning to Europe, Shostal
discovers new attractions
and connections between family experience and the revised atmosphere of
place his family once escaped from, entering into new ventures in
solidify his own success.
Shostal brings his family,
his times, and his trajectory
to life, examining many facets of social, psychological, and political
that affected his choices and movements in the world.
Of particular note are the
changing social and business
milieus that help those who would better understand the influences that
the world and communities alike: "Our
unrestricted giving had been shrinking slowly but inexorably for some
were caught up in a broader trend: corporate philanthropy was
seismic change. In the years following World War II, local business
heads of the banks, utilities, insurance companies, newspapers,
have a direct stake in the health and well-being of their communities.
days it was part of a CEO’s basic job to serve on the boards of
organizations such as RPA. Now most of those companies were becoming
enterprises, and global competition was relentless. It was partly for
reason that boards of directors increasingly looked to CEOs to focus
exclusively on stock price, which meant concentrating on next-quarter
projections rather than on long-term commitments to stakeholders
workers and their communities."
The result is a biography
that certainly belongs in
libraries strong in Jewish memoirs. It also which will reach out to any
would better understand an immigrant family's experiences, the process
building life connections, and the mercurial flow of success and
that forges strong relationships.
Readers looking for memoirs
that are steeped in a review
of American values and opportunities will especially value the
heart of Through New York's Golden Door,
which serves as both a memoir and a reminder of America's promise: "I hope that my experience as an
immigrant to this country makes me better able to appreciate the
importance—and fragility—of America’s institutions devoted to equal
opportunity, and our historic—though imperfect—commitment to the value
individual. As I wrote in the preface, my story could only have
happened in the
United States, and for that I am profoundly grateful to this country."
Return to Index
A Time of
Quirina Vasquez de Bond & Robert J Bond Jr.
A Time of Innocence: Memoir of a Childhood in the
High Sierra Madre
provides a focus on childhood innocence that captures the nature and
this milieu both past and present. It represents a foray into the
the child that holds important ramifications for adult perspective and
outlook, and draws readers with experiences that, ironically, left the
both well prepared for life and struggling to find her place in the
the family's roots in Mexico, exploring a father's move to Arizona to
the mines at a time when there were no borders to navigate. He would
rancher in San Antonio and he and his wife would raise fifteen children
San Antonio Ranch that would both shelter them from the world and
with a powerful sense of self suitable for navigating any alien terrain.
As Quirina seeks to define the term and
impact of innocence, she reflects on the experiences and values her
upbringing gave to her which affected her choices and perspectives
about life: "She would fill the shawl with
coffee leaves and straw and wrap herself with goat and deer hides to
the cold. It was not pretty to look at, but back then, no one knew any
We were blessed and innocent, protected from the pressures of the
world. Now, people worry about what they’re wearing and are afraid of
judged anywhere they go. Some won’t go out in public unless they are
the latest fashion. Some spend a fortune to buy a fur coat that they
once a year, and that’s only to show it off to their so-called friends."
growing up with much freedom to realizing that other families and
operated much differently is captured in candid passages of
that reflect both her upbringing and her encounters with the world: "I was used to having so much freedom
growing up and was having a very difficult time abiding by all the
out before me."
innocence and a form of poverty that may be physical, but does not
spirit, readers receive a forward thrust into adulthood realizations
from the foundations of her upbringing: "I
was told later in life that love is a choice. I have learned to
this statement because I can reflect to the point I felt my father’s
After eighty-two years, I believe people choose to accept another
choose to forgive him or her, and choose to move forward out of
for a common mutual benefit. I believe you either feel love for
someone, or you
don’t. Love is a gift from God. Some are lucky to have enough softness
heart to experience love. Some hearts are just too hard to feel it.
justify their lack of love and call it choice. This makes them feel
Love is joy, excitement, compassion, trust, explosive energy,
a deep sense of affection rolled up into one big package. This is my
adventure and experience to inner contemplation, Bond's memoir, more
builds a foundation for its values and life perspective that create a
survey of the evolution of both.
memoirs of childhood, Mexican heritage, and families poor in goods but
connections will find A Time of Innocence
a compelling story that promises book clubs much fodder for discussion,
immigrant experiences and cross-cultural connections to family ties,
and the evolution of child to woman.
Return to Index
After the Blue,
Glore House Books
979-8-9868930-1-3 $12.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Mystery readers who
look for evocative stories that work next to but more than slightly
the 'cozy mystery' genre will find After
the Blue, Blue Rain
a study in contrasts that opens with a
first-person confession by an escapee who writes of his last days in
unfold, readers come to realize that the narrator's introductory story
one journal entry in a series of observations that embrace different
perspectives, including soldier Private Stanley Comfort. What does his
life have to do with Comfort and Company, Private Investigators or his
threads are developed, the roots of this story in historical facts come
light to attract readers of historical mysteries interested in the
the 1940s and events that reach overseas to involve a soldier in his
funny thing. As Stanley rebuilds his life with his sister's help, his
memories come flooding back—and, with them, a dilemma that the
soldier must face, along with the past.
builds an absorbing story of intrigue, recovery, discovery, and family
Kit employs her investigative prowess in a new direction that tests her
loyalties and connections.
involving missing veterans multiply, Kit finds her family involvements
to become more than any investigation she's ever tackled before—more
more challenging; more dangerous.
developed between the opening letters that capture the desperate
disparate individuals and the events which grow to explain their
finely developed, finely tuned to their environments and expectations,
inject many surprises into the story as it winds through veteran and
affairs with an overlay of investigative mystery and history that
find realistic and satisfying.
is taken to
follow both Stanley and Kit's evolution under these revised
it's time well spent by readers who receive an evocative,
story that embraces many issues as it explores family relationships
war and adversity both within and outside of its circles.
in historical mysteries that incorporate veteran issues will find After
Blue, Blue Rain attractive to readers of both genres; but
ideally it also
will attract book clubs seeking edgy novels that operate both within
outside the confines of genre reads. This audience will find After
Blue Rain presents underlying issues of interest to readers
experiences, offering food for thought and discussion that augment the
and history components with powerful reflective insights about
adaptation, and change.
home would be the easy course. It takes
courage to know when you’re not quite there yet."
Return to Index
East River Books
978-1-7364680-6-7 $4.99 ebook
Book 4 of
Hundred Years of War series represents another powerful display of
mystery, suspense, and Middle East intrigue that pulls readers into the
of former president Temple, who has built an oil empire and a network
companies which fall under threat from a criminal.
manipulated his daughter to build this empire. Now Lilah is on the run,
Kingsley has assumed her role and cultivated a subterfuge that
than a singular interest or operation, and the elderly Temple finds
mired in a situation that threatens all the work he's done to assure
for himself and his family.
politics, pressures, and espionage mark a heady group of characters and
mercurial situations that keep readers on their toes as the story
of assassination, power plays, and world-hopping action that moves the
from domestic to international playing fields, readers should cultivate
ability to absorb a myriad of satisfyingly complex scenarios as the
cat-and-mouse game constantly evolves unexpected twists.
families from New York are still contending for control, but injected
mix are social and political changes that buffet all the families who
control and power.
easily delve into the story, it's the prior readers of the One Hundred
War series who will best appreciate the way this story so neatly
and expands the special interests and focus of many of the characters
The Beijing Blunder creates yet another
chapter in a family saga
that expands and ripples changes through disparate lives. Its strength
the process of changing these interconnected relationships, which is
readers will find the new events particularly enlightening and
why newcomers will want to turn to the other series titles for a fuller
of the impact of these suspenseful twists and turns.
plays, and obstacles are presented here which build on characters and
intentions, creating conundrums that are steeped in political, legal,
social transformation: “It’s not what
Brad did or didn’t do at this point. He has become the symbol of
greed in the eyes of the public, and no politician fond of his career
express support. Without Temple in our corner, the Kingsley family has
clout to make sure of it. Unless we find a way around it. As for going
courts... Noah says trial in absentia would not work in this case, and
it did, the outcome might not be to our liking. Right now, Brad has
only been accused of
treason. If the legal
system agrees Brad betrayed the nation, no president would agree
to issue a pardon no matter how much time
who like their stories firmly rooted in history, mystery, and suspense
relish the solid development of all three facets in The
between interpersonal relationships, individual decision-making, and
intrigue, The Beijing Blunder is
highly recommended for historical fiction and thriller readers who look
espionage and power struggles tempered by strong psychological
characters that represent different forces in life and political
Return to Index
Mentha Press LLC
& Gardens introduces a
genre which will be new to some: the paranormal cozy
mystery. Here, this translates to a setting which is familiar to cozy
readers (typically a small town atmosphere) which is a safe haven to
beings (such as garden gnomes). Well, it was a safe
to town in search of the mythical Bigfoot, only to unearth a peck of
the process of confirming a legend.
first article he's produced on the subject, the Mysty Haven Weekender
lets him go.
Unemployment proves to be the least of his worries, as Bob then becomes
immersed in a dilemma that goes beyond identifying fake news reporting
injects a healthy dose of humor into the story from the start. This
a lively attention to dialogues, interpersonal interactions, and a
observation of oddities and small town life in Mysty Haven that
challenge Bob on different levels: "Barksdale’s hard
and flexed jaw muscles almost intimidated me. “Maybe the thief is right
my nose. Maybe it’s you, Mr. McLarney.” I chuckled, not in a nervous
wasn’t a person who liked to be threatened. I met his cold stare
blinking. “Maybe you’re barking up the wrong tree, Sheriff.”
unfolds, readers will be drawn both by the small town's atmosphere and
residents and an outsider's struggles to understand, arrive at the
publicize it for all to read.
introduces Bob to all kinds of dilemmas and examples of good intentions
awry as a series of escapades and encounters keeps him on his toes—and
guessing about the outcome.
there's a delightful, sparkling originality to the story's setting and
that should especially appeal to seasoned cozy mystery readers looking
something refreshingly new, as well as paranormal readers who want a
element of suspense.
and discoveries between Bob and the magical town's intriguing residents
revelations at the forefront: "You were drawn to this place
are a part of you, just as you are a part of us. This is your home,
answers you seek, you will find here in Mysty Haven."
humor and its winning combination of paranormal influence and intrigue,
Gnomes & Gardens is highly recommended reading for
fans of either genre
and anyone who looks for compelling reading.
acquire and recommend it for a wider audience than the normal mystery,
book clubs focusing on magic, intrigue, and mayhem will find the
wonderfully flavorful and revealing here, with just the right elements
contributing to an unpredictable, warmly enlightening read.
Return to Index
S. Lee Manning
Encircle Publications, LLC
Bloody Soil is thriller set in Germany
that tells of American
Michael Hall, who arrives in the country on a mission to join the
political group Germany Now.
joining is stiff: he must kill a prominent Jewish anti-Nazi activist.
equally formidable) is the leader's girlfriend Lisette, who opens the
demonstrates capabilities and deadly intentions beyond her
countenance. For Lisette is on a mission of revenge for her father's
years ago, has infiltrated the group intent on completing her mission,
Michael in her sights as the next murder victim.
special brand of political and criminal prowess creates a
murder-within-a-murder scenario, set in Germany where an alt-right
rocked by violence within its own ranks.
incorporates many insights that lead readers to understand her
continued killing and subterfuge: "Could
she walk away when she was this close to finding her father’s killer?
stop avenging the people murdered by neo-Nazis? ... The man who had
father had taken more than a beloved parent. He’d taken away hobbits
Claus. He’d taken away her past with her father, but also her
possibility of a
normal life—a job, a family."
Nikolai Ivanovich Petrov (a.k.a. Kolya),
and elaborate schemes powered by hatred on all sides
evolve against a
political and social examination of European sentiment, readers are
an engrossing story that embraces some of the major themes of modern
and the peoples and forces behind them.
various groups, from the Mossad to rich American boys playing spy, are
examined, contrasted, and play out against an international backdrop of
forces and underlying influences.
characterization, the action proves gripping as readers receive a
game in a playing field where individual special interests collide with
that aim to take advantage of and redirect them.
The result is a spy
thriller that represents the third book in the Kolya
Petrov series, but requires no prior familiarity in order to prove
an intensely compelling stand-alone powerhouse of a read.
Libraries and readers
looking for thrillers that probe
the motivations and influences of realistic characters will find Bloody
Soil's ability to incorporate the political milieus and
groups of modern
times lends a special flavor to the evolving dilemmas.
Return to Index
that a Soviet spy purposely fails her mission because she's fallen in
her target, but in Bomb Cyclone, such
is the case. Ukrainian spy
Oksana is forced to defect to the U.S. to escape retribution for her
She is not safe even there,
because Russian operatives
pursue her, and her heart also remains connected to Ukrainian issues
nation's plight. Both serve to add conflict and life-threatening
J.A. Adams opens the story
with a briefing that reviews
real-world political relationships between Russia, Ukraine, and its
states, as well as the U.S. This neatly sets the stage in reality,
way for Chapter One, which opens with the question of how anyone could
Ukraine has done so, and
this in turn invites a special
form of corruption that affects generals, leaders, and operatives at
The history of Ukraine's
changing relationship with
Russia and the world is one thread that flows through a story firmly
real-world events, yet is enhanced by fictional extrapolations that
thriller readers involved and on their toes.
Between Mykola, a
Ukrainian-American immigrant who
traveled to Crimea to locate the bomb, and Oksana, who finds herself a
to her own heart, ideals of political connections and personal
change to the point that the intersection between mission and reality
obscured: "She realized she had a
mission to fulfill, but at the same time, she couldn’t help this
was feeling. After all, her mission was to seduce him."
Even when she has a new life
and name, prior connections
(and the old threats) remain.
Adams roots his story firmly
in the history of Ukraine,
creating a powerful story of transformation within the greater story of
shifting political and social alliances.
This touch of realism gives
the tale a powerful "you
are here" feel that sets the premise, scenarios, and characters on a
higher level than most thriller reads rooted in espionage and Russian
The result will prove
especially relevant to today's
reader, who receives cultural and political insights while entering the
field of political forces that struggle for control, and individuals
that the elusive prize actually resides in their own backyards and
Return to Index
The Book of
Thursday Night Press (an imprint of DX Varos Publishing)
$18.95 (paperback) $4.99 (ebook)
The Book of Jobs is a prequel to Bitter
Vintage that requires no prior
prove inviting to newcomers and prior fans alike. It gathers stories
Helen Wu and Amy Dresden before their appearance in Bitter
building a series of formative events in their lives designed to
backgrounds and believability. All nine stories take place before they
a foundation of their lives and careers before they became a
Readers who look for stand-alone crime
stories of lives interconnected by circumstance and experience will
find The Book of Jobs
a compelling read. It
opens in 1982, where fourteen-year-old Helen is being babysat by her
different about their dark house, that evening—something that portends
the quiet October night. Helen moves from being the younger, protected
to a potential crime-buster in charge of figuring out the moves of a
predator as the story introduces her early proclivity to solve problems
take charge of situations.
builds new insights into the evolving psyches of Helen and Amy, the
set for better understanding the nature of their future relationship
strengths each bring to the table of crime-fighting.
stories move from 1982 to 1990 and beyond, readers receive a series of
interrelated events that feature strong characters, unusual situations
challenge them, and dose many of the explorations with an unexpected
humorous description: "Amy Dresden
slammed the door of her baby-shit-green ’72 Vista Cruiser so hard that
visor fell open. The jolt was too much for the brittle old rubber band
all the business cards, receipts, snapshots and other miscellaneous
fluttered down on her like confetti. She pounded her fists against the
wheel and made a sound not unlike a cat stuck in a washing machine. How
she have been so stupid?"
evolutionary series of life-changing events that draw together to
powerful young women who find their skills, natures, and abilities
Vintage will be a good audience
for this prequel, it's also highly recommended for newcomers interested
short stories that explore how crime fighters learn, evolve, and employ
special and newfound strengths to further both their careers and their
prospects for personal growth.
to connect the dots of these seemingly disparate life experiences in
ways makes The Book of Jobs a fine
recommendation for libraries strong in crime stories that take the time
craft intriguing, impossible circumstances.
Return to Index
Tom Vaughan MacAulay
under her OCD impulses, she may be a killer. Co-worker Lomax Clipper
different challenges in unrequited love and career ambitions. Both
hatred of their boss, Julian. The two together are dynamite waiting to
Countdown to a Killing: The Selected
Correspondence Of Several Key Characters charts the
process of an explosion that
changes both their lives. Unlike most murder stories, its main events
the demise, starting in August 2016 and ending on the night of the
is the first indicator that this murder story departs from the usual
approach for a refreshing taste of something different.
lies in its subtitle, which presents the story via the correspondence
characters that each hold a key to the events that lead up to the
flavor comes with the experiences, perceptions, and approaches of
works familiar with such social applications as WhatsApp, and
explanations into these correspondences by a third-party narrator: "A
brief editorial intervention. This is a reminder to the reader that the
Selected Correspondence does not end lightly. Things will begin to take
soon enough. The characters do not yet know it, but an accident will
lead to a good
part of the action shifting to Palermo."
viewpoints and objective informational injections give the story an
pleasing, diverse feel to successfully create a smooth story that's
through unique voices, eyes, and experiences.
events continue, readers will find themselves much more engaged with
disparate characters' lives and perceptions than the usual murder
original, compelling story that transcends the usual methods of murder
writing with its interconnected correspondence, WhatsApp messaging, and
looming specter of disaster.
a refreshingly different, contemporary voice will find it in Tom
MacAulay and in Countdown to a Killing, which
holds attraction even to those readers who usually eschew the genre's
humor, heartache, and mercurial motivations creates a gripping
hard to put down and delightful in both its changing perspectives and
characters' evolutionary growth.
Return to Index
By the Pure Sea Books
$9.99 Kindle ebook/$16.99 Paperback/$27.99 Hardcover
Daughter of Belial is a thriller that revolves around a family legacy
and the secret Order
of Belial, which involves
Sophie Greer in betrayal, kidnapping, and the realization of a heritage
tests her vision of herself, her family, and her future.
thought-provoking scenarios also earn it a note of caution for
readers who eschew trigger subjects such as sexual abuse or graphic
of death. However, these descriptions are well in keeping with the
a realistic tone to the story rather than the flavor of over-the-top
The first-person story opens
with a bang of description
that presents a compelling dilemma to draw reader attention: "I’m running as fast as I can, but my
legs feel like marble—weighty, cumbersome, and laden with grief. Each
an agony of locomotion. Every attempt forward is met with a shove in
opposite direction. He is behind me. Chasing me. Hunting me."
As Jennifer Juvenelle
follows this gripping opener with
further descriptions via the character's first-person viewpoint of
her world, she injects an atmosphere that is revealing: "I
catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and do a double take. Who is that train wreck? Hot mess
would be an accurate description—if I looked hot.
The girl staring back at me is just a mess."
understanding of the Order and its
impact and history twines her life and purposes with bigger-picture
thinking: "Secretive to the death, if the
Belial are known at all, it is for protecting their own. There is no
as incriminating evidence when the full might of The Order is behind
them, people, places, and things are mere pieces in The Great Game. A
life-sized game of chess. A Shakespearean psychodrama. A Machiavellian
masterpiece. The ordained Masters move their pieces on the board with
unified, and decisive action. Bishops, kings, queens, knights, rooks,
pawns—none are free."
These vivid impressions and
experiences keep the plot
fast-paced and thoroughly engrossing as Sophie moves through many
revelations about the world and her place in it.
As Greer finds her purposes
and perspectives shaken,
readers will also find their ideas receive constant revision of how
will evolve, which is satisfyingly unexpected: "With
every gift I accept from these people, I feel myself growing
more entrenched in their world. The
only way out is through, I suppose. Or some such nonsense.
to lose the thread of what I’m actually doing."
Secrets, curiosity, and
Sophie's own role in evolving
mysteries will keep readers on edge and engaged as she moves to a place
judgment and redemption, herself.
Juvenelle's ability to stay
on track with a deep
psychological inspection of one woman's move from victim to living an
life makes for a thriller that operates on different levels of
Libraries and readers who
seek to be engaged by the
suspense of a thriller, enlightened by one woman's revelations and the
surrounding them, and entranced by her ability to survive, adapt, and
her future will find Daughter of Belial the perfect ticket for a blend of entertainment
that comes with added
It should also be noted that
this is the first book in a
projected series. Sophie's story of survival is just beginning, so
should be prepared for more—and a cliffhanger ending.
Return to Index
A Deadly Covenant
White Sun Books
978-0-9979689-8-9 $8.99 Kindle
is the eighth Detective Kubu investigative mystery set in Africa. It
a pipeline project near the
Delta unearths a number of skeletons that then lead to more local
Superintendent Balopi, and a cast of characters find their lives and
investigations entwine with the history of Bushmen in Africa, local
a Bushman massacre whose impact resonates through numerous communities.
corruption assail political and investigative figures alike and the
clocks upward, Detective Kubu has his hands full, both quelling
response and getting to the heart of who (or what entity) is to blame
Michael Stanley's mystery is
rooted in African peoples,
special interests, and local flavor. This will draw readers who look
investigative procedurals that reveal community and political special
as they unfold.
The water project that has
revealed so much before it's
even begun, and which lies at the heart of many of these local
is one central influence on events that keep Detective Kubu, Assistant Superintendent Mabaku, and others
guessing about not just perps and outcomes, but the complicated
interrelationships of local special interests.
cultural forces, police work, and personal perspectives entwine, the
deepens—as does the attention to detail that reveals underlying motives
relationships between the Bushman and other tribes.
The result is a mystery
which also comes steeped in the
culture and history of Africa. Its force relies as much on
complicated social relationships as on identifying perps and murderers.
Libraries looking for police
procedurals which go the
extra mile in creating powerful scenarios based on political and social
insights will find A Deadly Covenant
a compelling story of Botswana, Southern Africa, and a surprising
evolves in the midst of conflict.
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Death in a Time of Spanish Flu
978-1-956978-18-6 $14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
readers who enjoy female sleuths and action firmly centered in
portraits of the past will find Death in a Time of Spanish Flu a compelling story. It's set in 1918 and
opens with a premonition of disaster and madness.
Husband Stephen's worries about the emergent
Spanish flu are only the beginning of the story. His wife Emily finds
in turmoil as Stephen fights the virus in a hospital while the world
apart in war, and her family follows.
The already-complex scenario is further
complicated by a murder that motivates Emily to become involved when
children are implicated in the death.
With so many facets and conflicts emerging
from the start, it takes a deft writer to draw readers into a scenario
juxtaposes social issues, political strife, home life, and solving
McNamara is such a
writer, capturing the personal observations, lives, and approaches of
believable (and likeable) characters who find themselves caught up in
situations beyond their ken or control.
Emily's first-person observations of her
world and those around her feature her astute eye for trouble as she
murder which proves to be deeply routed in community and chaos. All
this is set
against the backdrop of a plague and war that represent ongoing
The action is nicely paced, the premise and
mystery are unpredictable, and the historical backdrop of the times is
realistically integrated into the plot that readers will find it a snap
absorb its atmosphere, principles, and the sense of changing times.
There is also the added value of familiarity
that has been provided by current pandemic years, which makes the
of Death in a Time of Spanish Flu especially timely
Although it's the 9th book in the Emily
Cabot series, newcomers to Emily and her times will find Death
in a Time of
Spanish Flu stands nicely alone as a solid introduction to
her life, world,
and approach to problem-solving.
Libraries looking for powerful blends of
history and mystery which present a sense of place that feels familiar
engrossing to modern readers (even those who normally don't read books
either genre) will relish the realistic and personal portrait that
in a Time of Spanish Flu hard to put down.
Return to Index
W. A. Pepper
Hustle Valley Press, LLC
thriller genre who like a taste of eroticism added into the action will
find DoGoodR nicely seasoned with
combination of suspense and sexual fire. It should be cautioned that
also embraces a number of potential reader triggers, from physical and
violence and assault to social issues ranging from drug abuse to
will want to look elsewhere for their thrillers; but audiences who
tales that bring social issues, psychological challenges, and terrible
to vibrant life will find DoGoodR
item of choice for a thoroughly engrossing, thought-provokingly
Tanto, the hacker who was the subject of a prior book. It covers the
which evolves when he and his group try to protect a determined young
genius who hacks into NASA, only to find themselves on the wrong side
law, and in trouble.
introduced in You
Will Know Vengeance, but this story serves as its prequel,
his origins, motivations, personality and influences in far more detail
readers to a better understanding of Tanto's world and psyche.
From the start, it is evident that W. A. Pepper writes to involve, from the unusual
(Chapter 1 is 'My Damn Life', for example) to the candid, first-person
revelations from the start that go beyond creating a 'you are here'
readers, virtually compelling them to move into this world and its
evolves a sharp
social, political, and crime inspections that have the ability to draw
kinds of readers into Tanto's choices and dilemmas.
From the unusual nature of characters whose names run from Mane-Eac to Squirrel_Lord to smuggling, hostage situations, and clients who move dangerously close to babysitting roles that are resented, Pepper keeps the action fast-paced, high-tech, and thoroughly unpredictable.
revenge, redemption, and renewal underlies many character choices and
but embeds the thriller in a realistic milieu that keeps readers on
especially compelling example of just how diverse and involving a solid
contemporary thriller can be. Based in a familiar world replete with
and social dilemmas that cross boundaries to challenge very different
worlds, DoGoodR will ideally be
read before and
in tandem with Tanto's previous exploits in the first You
Will Know Vengeance. It is a top recommendation for libraries
seeking exceptional thriller writings that operate on the cutting edge
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The Easy Way
Mason Alley Publishing
$23.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
The Easy Way Out is a Jake Travis
thriller that needs no prior
introduction to prove captivating to newcomers who choose this story
engrossing Florida-based intrigue.
story opens with a child's unexpected death in a playground. From a
mother's sudden anguish and confusion, it then moves to Nicky Riggins's
encounter with Manuel Castillo, who is looking forward to escaping the
dangerous milieu that threatens his life and his family.
another quick turn and changes into the first-person reflections of
Travis, who muses that "We want to
believe life is that monorail. A suspended journey to an enchanted
of dizzy happiness, a land of milk and honey. Goofy. Minnie. Mickey.
The gang’s waiting for us amid piped-in music, sparkling fountains,
palm trees, and flawless green grass laced with walkways cleaner than
kitchen counter. Never mind that a cast member is suffocating inside
costume for union wages to create your glorious illusion. We see and
what we want to. And in the Sunshine State, we expect to be in a
niece, young Brittany, has gone missing. This event opens a long story
surprisingly happy ending, detailing the transformations that take
families and children are placed at risk or changed by circumstances
step up and make things right for another embraces many important
that come to light in the process of change and struggle: "Brittany needed my help, and I saw an opening. An
make amends. For as I’d come to build my own family, to author my own
anger toward my parents morphed to forgiveness. Empathy. Even
Latin root of compassion is pati—to suffer. Com
means with. Compassion is not
empathy. It is not understanding.
Compassion is to feel another’s pain as your own. Now that I have my
daughter, I feel my parents’
hurt. I’ve come to see their downfall as inspiration to create joy from
sorrow. Joy. That’s my daughter’s name."
"opening" he perceives works not just for his own redemption and
altruism with his parents, but in an unexpected manner as his probe
deeper undercurrents of moods, truths, and lies which reach out to
own family relationships.
agents and the notion that money plays second fiddle to family
financial affairs that may be worth a daughter's life, readers move
Jake's dilemmas and the underbelly of Florida's seedier connections and
operations with a familiarity reinforced both by Jake's reflective
observations and his choices in interacting with perps and police alike.
as Robert Lane cultivates a fine tension that walks the line between
psychological inspections, but soon becomes gripping as the
between Jake and adversaries grows into something unexpectedly complex.
Manuel Castillo and Nicky Riggins as part of the evolving scenario
makes for an
especially satisfying conundrum as Jake finds his family and choices
unexpectedly connected to these disparate individuals and the forces
represent. His increasing involvement with young China, “Who writes
winter storm,” also represents both an opportunity and a departure as
finds his life pulled and challenged on different levels.
The Easy Way Out is an engrossing
suspense story that joins
disparate forces and lives in what proves to be both a deadly and
scenario. It will prove especially attractive to libraries interested
engrossing tales of wonder and revelation, wrapped firmly in the cloak
Return to Index
Echo - The
the Blackwood Witches
Fables and Facts
979-8-9859946-3-6 $16.50 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Echo: The Curse of the Blackwood Witches – Fables & Facts (fablesandfacts.com)
"I grew up a skeptic. I never
believed in what I couldn’t see nor imagined what dwelled beyond the
Little did I know one day, the glass would shatter, revealing a blood
behind it, one that traced back a thousand years."
Blackwood has no
idea she is a witch. Her hidden magic only comes to light at her
wedding, sparked by a confrontation with supernatural beasts. She's got
to learn—not the least of which is the fact that tapping her powers
unlocks an equally-well-hidden dark undercurrent that could cost her
There is a
growing up a skeptic, and that extends into challenging a belief system
creates and influences allies and enemies alike.
rests firmly on the shoulders of a believable character whose
reflections about her vastly changed self-perception drive a story of
the responsibilities it introduces to Echo's life.
discovery of a
family legacy that she has been tasked with continuing embraces
descriptions that are thought-provoking illustrations of choices and
consequences, past and present: "The
conflict ended, but the bloodshed never stopped. 'There was a young
chased sin and forgot she was a wife and a mother," Maradis continued.
"She fell in love with the evil one and helped him fight nature. She
sacrifices and evil spells to the dilemma of evil chosen with the power
intentions, Echo confronts not just a transformed world and her revised
in it, but broader consequences for the moves she makes to embrace what
a dark magical power.
Is it a
curse, or a
as they absorb a thoroughly fascinating tale of good, evil, and the
forces that lay between them.
Echo - The Curse of the Blackwood Witches
is highly recommended for
young adult to adult audiences looking for a story replete in action
reflection. Its vivid portrait of love and adversity brings Echo's
life: "I shouldn’t be feeling this way." But, she
on her journey will also come to feel the special pull of a plot that
the best and worst reactions from its characters. Echo
- The Curse of the Blackwood Witches will attract a wide
audience, from thriller readers to those who like supernatural tales of
self-discovery, and adventure.
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William J. Cook
9798841126331 $13.99 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
Gallery of Gangsters is the final
Driftwood Mystery in the series, expanding
its five predecessor titles with a new and final battle between Native
detective Charley Whitehorse and Russian crime czar Vasily Volkov. It's
confrontation that will rock prior readers, and is introduced by an
Note about currency security and counterfeiting that features some key
lend better understanding to this mystery's subject and progression.
hand, readers embark on a vivid romp that opens in the art auction
2019. Here, a meteoric bidding war is taking place, with prices hitting
millions for a work of art that two contenders have no intention of
combat between the contenders evolves a chess-like game of strategy and
countermoves, readers will be thoroughly engrossed in the story's
outcome by the time the purchase of Hurricane
This is just
first chapter of a complex story that moves into the mysterious death
of an art
gallery owner in Driftwood, who specialized in high-end paintings. It
not just the game being played by Whitehorse and Volkov, but a strong
caught in the middle (Michelle Garrison), whose auction house work has
her in the crosshairs of a powerful female assassin.
questions about who killed McKinley Striker and Dashiel Owen and
immersed in the identity and subterfuge of Odesa (nee Kseniya, whose
murder), all characters dance into an arena of threat that reaches out
embrace the innocent and guilty alike.
enjoy stories centered on the art world will find Gallery
of Gangsters satisfying for its insights into that
community's activities and the works of art that drive passions and
alike. These motivate characters to move outside their comfort zones
the unfamiliar territory of murder, investigations, and nefarious
personalities whose special interests create different perspectives and
of moral and ethical behavior, William J. Cook's story assumes a
tone of surprises that embrace unexpected romance and adversity alike.
this final Driftwood mystery comes to life in ways even seasoned genre
won't see coming.
mystery, it will also nicely attract newcomers who have and need no
experience with the exploits of Charley Whitehorse and Vasily Volkov to
understandable and engrossing; especially since Michelle's character
many of the scenes and insights.
In the end,
wins. But, via a circuitous route that keeps readers guessing right up
mystery's satisfying conclusion.
who look for outstanding characters, an art world backdrop, and
subterfuge that moves from a small town into international waters will
find Gallery of Gangsters the
crescendo of a conclusion that explores what is unique and fragile not
the art world, but in matters of love, power, and the pursuit of profit.
Return to Index
Jeffrey S. Stephens
Post Hill Press
978-1-63758-582-5 $26.09 Hardcover/$9.99 Kindle
The Handler follows CIA operatives
Nicholas Reagan and his partner,
Carol Gellos, across the country and into strange new worlds as they
to thwart a plot to ignite a series of deadly assaults across the U.S.
open with their involvement, however, but the undercover actions of two
terrorists, Mustafa and Roshan, who each believe they are operating
independently in New York City.
disparate forces have to do with Russian operatives, a rumored Ghost
makes cell phones completely untraceable, and secret business
forces coalesce in such a way that the hunter becomes the hunted and
proves to harbor deadly connections above and beyond singular interests
As the plot
and events move into political circles, embracing missing scientists
frightening new ways to commit mass murder, readers become engrossed in
quicksand of revelations and realizations that challenge conventional
about threats and attacks.
Stephens leads his story into unexpected areas of cross-connections and
cross-purposes, he creates characters that have honed special strengths
response to careers made by facing adversity: "After
all the time he spent in the field, all the battles he
fought, all the life and death moments he endured, Reagan had an
could neither be learned nor taught, it could only be earned."
passages invite readers to examine their own concepts of right and
belief systems, and the injection of conviction into the bigger picture
grasping opportunities for enlightenment and change: “My
parents are Muslims, born and raised in Lebanon, moved to the
United States soon after they were married. I was born there, and they
me as a Muslim-American. As I think you’ll recall, I’m married to a
man, who is also Muslim. I think it’s fair to say I’m very familiar
Koran.” Before Reagan could reply, she sat forward and added, “I’m also
familiar with your views about my faith. I know you believe that there
such thing as a moderate Muslim.”
Reagan was surprised at the challenge. “The Koran teaches that the Muslim faith is the only way to heaven. It also encourages hate, violence, and death to anyone not practicing your religion. So yes, I have doubts about anyone claiming they have a moderate view of those teachings.”
suspense are well-developed and grab reader interest and attention; but
noteworthy is the contrasting belief systems and motivations that keep
sides convinced that their actions support a higher purpose.
“Organized hate is a powerful adversary,” Reagan
said. “All that’s left
for us is to keep fighting it.”
forms of belief that keep opponents on different sides fighting for,
ironically, the same things.
The Handler uses three attacks as pivot
points for a social,
religious, and political examination suitable for thriller libraries
discussion groups interested in examining the foundations of societal
It's especially recommended as a 'wolf in sheep's clothing' read for
anticipate a well-delivered entertainment value in a thriller, but who
find that the issues raised between characters and ideals provide
bigger-picture thinking about the origins and enactment of division.
Return to Index
The Hawk Enigma
Class Five Press
9781737150114 $19.99 Paperback
Rarely does a recurring nightmare come to
real life as sharply as in military technician Voodoo's experiences in The
Hawk Enigma, an action-packed techno-thriller that steeps its
compelling scenarios from its opening lines: "Bam! Bam! Bam!
pounded on the door, punctuated by the repeating jingle of the
doorbell. The cacophony ripped Dr. “Taka” Hawkins from her computer
trance. She yanked her gaming headset off her head and rubbed her eyes
readjusted to reality. Her mind, however, had no desire to readjust."
Tom Clancy fans, move over. Tom faces a
formidable contender for the title of a top thriller writer in J.L.
whose special brand of nonstop action and adventure is based on
twists and turns that keep readers involved and guessing on many levels.
The early morning (1AM) knock on the door is
just the opening salvo in a series of confrontations that involves
dreams, hard realities, and good intentions gone awry.
From cryptic prophecies that warn of
disaster to the possibility that scientists working in Japan have
"God algorithm" that could transform the world, research blends with
an arms race, AI involvement, and individual tests of resolve and moral
ethical behaviors as a host of characters find their work and
clashing on a dangerous playing field of science and international
The science-based drama will especially
intrigue readers who enjoy more 'techno' in their thriller formats,
focus on nonstop action keeps the pace heady and high for
readers who look for high-octane action.
The character development is well done,
cementing the intersection of science, military, political, and social
inspection with a special brand of psychological draw that only comes
characters whose own special interests are logical and realistic.
Scenes are precisely depicted, melding
action with a sense of culture and place in Asia and other environs: "Large
armored vehicles are rare in Japan. Tight streets and heavy traffic
motorcycles and light trucks the transportation of choice for police
move with agility through the city. None of this applies at nearly 3
the streets cleared, the heavily armored SAT vehicle rumbled down the
streets of Tokyo toward the target location. A tip regarding human
potentially associated with North Korean operatives piqued Captain
interest. The superintendent general placed anything regarding
his highest priority, and the Special Assault Team led the charge."
The result is a powerful, action-packed
story that is mercurial in its development. Like a shape-shifter, its
insights are always changing, incorporating military, political, and
influences into its broad spectrum. The story keeps thriller readers on
for the ride through changing hearts and minds with a dexterity that
stems from author J.L. Hancock's background as a tactical
working in the military for special operations.
standout thrillers that are powerfully written and backed with the
of a writer whose experiences undoubtedly dovetail with many of the
elements in this story will find The Hawk Enigma an inviting acquisition.
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ASIN: B0B7NBQH37 $5.99 Kindle
The Immortal Target is a sci-fi thriller
reviewed in this category
because its thriller components are so strong that genre readers won't
As Book 2 of
series, it can be read alone by newcomers, who will find that Jake
special dilemmas are a draw from the opening lines: "Jake
Wood should have killed the man when he had the chance. That
man, Adam, claimed to be immortal, but once his head was removed, Jake
able to test that theory. But because he hadn’t killed Adam, people he
about were in grave danger."
damned if you don't. Because Jake didn't murder this man, he has now
those he loves. It's an untenable position to be in, and Jake responds
fleeing both the authorities and the pharmaceutical company, Fortech
who are both after him.
How can he
his freedom while simultaneously working to expose and bring down the
intentions of a company committed to genetic manipulation?
Jake has to
and dismantle his company—that seems to be the only solution. As he
more deeply mired in a conundrum which tests not only his morals and
but his personal survival and those he loves, his problems continue to
heart-pounding read from the start. While it requires no prior
its predecessor The Immortal Gene,
successfully augments and expands the motives, personality, and
Jake on different levels that will fill in gaps for prior readers while
newcomers into this dangerous game.
crafted, the high-tech components of the story add a realistic sci-fi
to the futuristic tale, and many of the usual detective/intrigue
turned on end, such as when Jake finds himself capturing a detective
neurotoxins in his teeth, which make his bite lethal.
immortality doesn't guarantee a peaceful, long life.
Jake's latest dilemma, they will find the thriller and sci-fi
tuned and so thoroughly bound to one another that fans of either genre
find much to enjoy in The Immortal Target.
It's rare to
thriller that incorporates sci-fi atmosphere, yet remains true to the
of suspense, tension, and conflict that the thriller genre embraces.
The Immortal Target is such a rare mix,
and deserves a prominent
place in any library strong in either sci-fi or thrillers.
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In the Vanishing Hour
Sarah Beth Martin
$28.99 Hardcover/$18.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Hour opens in 1951, where a
child's drowning changes both a family and a small town shaken by the
Eight years later, sister Frances is still
buffeted by this event when model Gwen, whom she seeks to emulate, also
vanishes into that same river and is presumed dead.
The investigation that follows rocks the
town as Frances involves herself in the case to find answers not just
disappearance, but her own brother's fate.
Sarah Beth Martin's evocative descriptions
are compelling accents building the atmosphere and sense of place
the mystery: "As late summer turned to a sudden, brittle
ghostly cloud moved in over the town, and all were haunted by Mac
Harris (who has also been enchanted by Gwen), and other lives on
coalesce, readers receive an involving story that highlights its
the sense of place, purpose, and people to bring the community and its
residents to life.
truth which is unearthed decades later and draws connections between
brother, Gwen, and Harris, unexpected twists and turns keep her heart
challenged, as well as the reader's ability to predict where the story
for an especially compelling read that proves hard to put down,
turbulent on many levels, and filled with revelations that come
together in a
dark story of unexpected connections.
literary suspense stories that take the time to probe psyches and
motives and experiences will find In the Vanishing Hour an excellent example of a genre read that
rises above formula approaches to represent a powerfully chilling saga
redemption and healing.
Are there ghosts in the darkness? If so,
what is their purpose?
Readers who appreciate thought-provoking
scenarios and encounters will relish the ability of In the
to immerse its readers not just in a deadly mystery, but in altered
consciousness and realization.
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M. E. Books
979-8985077094 $14.95 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Meet Katelyn Baxter, a home rehab specialist
whose work lies not in solving mysteries, but fixing and selling
Katelyn is a master at restoring homes to their former elegance and
... even if her latest challenge, a Tudor mansion, comes tinged with
history of a murder.
Fans of amateur sleuths and powerful female
investigators will find Killer Flip, Book 4 in a
Home Renovator mystery
series, to be just the ticket for a different, more compelling
As Katelyn finds her renovation complicated
by the discovery of a cache of valuables and a twenty-year-old mystery
the local sheriff and undercurrents of romance and treachery, she finds
fourth mystery evolving to embrace all kinds of small town
undercurrents. It's another adventure that expands the Home Renovator
and solidifies Katelyn's personality and charm.
Cozy mystery readers are in for a treat as
Katelyn faces newlyweds, romance, historical threats, and present-day
opportunities and angst. From nightmares about intruders to insights
more creative juices in both renovation and crime-busting worlds,
again in the thick of mystery and threat as events unfold. Cozy mystery
can expect more than a few surprises as these relationships are probed
reveal unexpected gems of connection and intrigue.
M.E. Bakos is especially skilled at
juxtaposing small-town atmosphere with intrigue: the hallmarks of the
mystery genre. The characterization is especially well done, with the
first-person narrator cementing reader interest not just in events, but
in the story: "It was late, but not too late for friends and
While I puttered around, getting ready for her visit, there was a
Checking the peephole, I sighed. It was Eddy. Trust Eddy to show up
there’s food on the way."
The result is a compelling read that holds
just the right ingredients of intrigue and attractive characters,
married to a
mystery that will turn many heads with revelations even dedicated cozy
fans won't see coming.
Cozy mystery library collections need to place
Killer Flip at the top of their acquisition list. It
prominent place and recommendation in such circles whether or not
familiarity with Katelyn's prior house renovation and murder-solving
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Killing the Butterfly
Black Rose Writing
978-1-68433-951-8 $18.95 Paper/$4.95 Kindle
Subtitles are usually mere definitions of genre to avoid reader confusion and help library shelvers; but finally, here is a book subtitle that lives up to its potential of capturing reader attention from the start: Killing the Butterfly: A Thriller So Abusive, It's Criminal.
paragraphs are equally alluring as nineteen-year-old Patty relives the
nightmares/visions of her youth and struggles to escape them—by
herself and her boyfriend in a crime spree that lands her in trouble.
On the run
past and on the lam from authorities and her own psyche, Patty can't
boyfriend Roy, or the consequences of her choices and actions, which
haunting her every step.
When the two
upon a lone man at a lake cabin who seems to offer a way out of their
even more trouble looms as evil enters the picture to warp any
safety or redemption.
Dale Ward cultivates a
fast-paced novel that swings back
and forth between Patty's past and present, infusing the plot with
for her perceptions, behaviors, and the patterns which continue to hold
Just as captivating as the
plot's unexpected twists and
turns is the presence of angst that permeates a lonely life, buffeted
stormy relationship with Roy and a road trip gone awry.
Although the positive
influence of her Aunt Meredith
offers some respite and a refuge, Patty can't help but long for
possibilities for her future: "She
rested, her eyes wide, in a different bed. This one in Aunt Meredith’s
The house was quiet. She was at work. Patty was alone again. There had
to be a
better life out there for her. She wanted a normal life. She really
Whatever that was. Patty had never known one. Will
I ever know one? Her one escape was her poetry."
Ward steeps this suspense
thriller in elements of
coming-of-age that increases its appeal to mature teen and new adult
but its adult themes and the nature of Patty's evolution really places
the adult crime novel genre.
This audience will
appreciate Ward's attention to
captivating descriptions and unexpected events that help grow Patty's
and realizations about her options and future.
As unhappy lives evolve, dovetail with, and feed one another, leading to new possibilities, readers receive a powerful saga that journeys through disparate lives touched by evil, angst, and determination.
Butterfly is a thriller that holds the potential to reach
beyond the usual
crime story readership and into the hearts of those interested in how
results come from well-intentioned efforts. Book clubs and therapy
focused on this process will find plenty of food for thought and
here, while libraries looking for thrillers that embrace a healthy
growth and psychological insights will relish the special nature and
descriptive prowess of Killing the
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979-8-83900-390-3 $12.00 Kindle/$4.99 ebook
Author website: lynnehandy.com
Sins is the
third book in the Maria Pell mystery series, opening with a prologue
1988, when the 10-year-old narrator found a dead baby in the stream on
This early discovery sets
the stage for a story that then
moves to Chapter One in 2016 Ireland, where little Bridget Vale has
selected May Queen for her small village's celebration. Her mother's
Maria Pell, senses trouble and loss, from reading Bridget's aura.
Auras? Maria holds a power
she never asked for, but which
aids in her problem-solving ability: "The
ability to visualize auras was both a blessing and a curse; it was
perhaps people minded having someone privy to the secrets of their
I had not worked to develop the skill; it had come to me early,
result of my self-imposed isolation as a child. Most of the time, my
focused on the routines that comprised my life, and especially, my
could go days without consciously seeing haloes around people’s
that or I did see them as a natural occurrence and did not notice, as
becomes used to floaters in the eye."
As her premonition of
trouble leads herself and the
village into danger, Old Sins
presents a remarkably inviting, complex story connecting Maria's
trauma with present-day events.
The story adds background
history, which means that no
prior familiarity with poet Maria Pell's prior life is necessary in
read her latest adventure as a stand-alone mystery.
Maria is drawn into not just
two events, past and
present, but a plethora of tragedy that immerses her in the watery
young people in a town that may be a target for sex traffickers ... or
Lynne Handy creates a tale
replete with satisfyingly
complex twists and turns, peppering Maria's adventure with
tension and description that brings her world and its threats to life: "I wrote a note to Elizabeth and went
outside to get into the garda car, which had just pulled to the curb.
hurried down the steps, my muscles tensed. Birds stopped chirping,
hung heavy in the air. From the corner of my eye, I saw a black car
down the street, a glint of metal—"
As kidnappings, too many
close calls, and Maria's own
motivation for resolving not just these cases, but events from her own
coalesce, readers receive a powerful mystery steeped in Irish culture
Maria finds her life and
perceptions on the line in new
ways as she struggles to reconcile the facts with their underlying
The result is a fine mystery
that's exceptional in its
sense of place. It builds the foundations of a fine foray into writer's
murder, and high drama surrounding characters whose sense of "wild
justice" threatens their lives.
Libraries looking for
mysteries strongly rooted in a
sense of place and culture will find Old
Sins an excellent contrast of angst and forgiveness.
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Indies United Publishing House, LLC
The Ridders represents political action
thriller writing at its
finest, following PI Brock "BJ" Janoff into a dilemma that begins
when he is offered a million dollars to bring an envelope to the front
a luxury hotel.
money. Feels like a simple mission. But it turns out to be anything but
BJ is drawn into a time-sensitive job that prepays the million dollars,
places him in jeopardy no matter what he does.
experiment that seems designed to test BJ's mettle and ethics; but once
always an investigator. BJ's curiosity, combined with an increasing
that his seemingly innocuous job is involving him in a high-level scam,
him straight into danger.
cat, and it more than threatens BJ's life, ethics, and career as he
intangible trails of deceit, only to see his friends and family come
gun of his decision-making processes.
this story to life, employing the first-person to bring home
BJ makes as he feels increasingly lost by the twists and turns his case
challenging his professional abilities and his life: "I
felt as though I was out in that water again during a
life-threatening storm, struggling against rogue waves and currents too
for me, the threat of death for myself and others imminent, not even
see shore anymore."
Russian operatives to unregulated international freeports, a group of
involved in environmental conservation at all costs, and a family sword
been stolen, readers receive a romp through political and personal
carry them on an international investigation with no clear outcomes or
As BJ finds
confronting not just the Bilderberg Group, but his own missing father's
unfolding affairs, he comes full circle to realize that his family is,
all, at the heart of some nefarious events.
action-packed plot that is offset by thought-provoking revelations both
political and personal.
captivating tale that engrosses on many levels, offers satisfyingly
unpredictable twists and turns, and creates a political thriller that's
superior works strongly rooted in political, psychological, and social
will find The Ridders a PI
investigation a la mode. It's a powerful tale of father/son
good intentions gone awry that considers the heart of deception and how
well-meaning objectives become corrupted by dangerous choices.
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979-8-9866378-0-8 Paper: $12.99/Kindle eBook: $4.99
Fans of the Dylan Reilly debut thriller novel, A Dangerous Freedom, have the opportunity to further delve into Reilly's world and the threats to it in the sequel, Russian Assault, which opens with the power of an incoming missile at the White House, resulting in an Oval Office in flames and under fire.
Marine Corps sniper and Secret Service Director, Ken Hack, has earned a medal for his courage. But nothing could have prepared him for this type of action as he stands atop the White House defending the President and represents the opening salvo of an assault that commands the reader’s attention in the unfolding political and military suspense that is Russian Assault.
After seeing the news of the devastating attack, Dylan Reilly feels compelled and called to action, joining authorities in a search for justice that leads him into danger from unexpected sources.
His suspicion that the assault is far deeper and broader than is being depicted is correct, but the real truth will challenge even his own capacity to address the perps and get to the bottom of their actions and organization.
Are activist groups destroying the country, or does their command center go above and beyond citizen protests to delve into international waters?
Once again, John Ruane has crafted a compelling story that edges between familiar-sounding real-world possibilities and events and extrapolations that move the intrigue into unexpected realms.
Dylan's character again takes center stage. This will prove compelling for both his prior fans and newcomers, who will find Russian Assault stands nicely on its own, as well as being a powerful expanded feature of Dylan's efforts.
From comments on hope-driven leadership and historical precedent to peaceful and violent demonstrations and their effects on democratic process and American issues, Ruane provides a probe that incorporates present-day, familiar-feeling scenarios with a futuristic examination of a disaster that simmers under the surface of current events.
The tension is well crafted, the story's twists and turns are unexpected, and the overall attention to juxtaposing historical precedent with issues involved in defending freedom is thought-provoking, as well as action-packed.
Libraries looking for powerful political suspense thrillers that inject insights about democratic processes and the forces that struggle for and against them will find that Russian Assault goes beyond the story of an attack to examine the foundations of how a democracy (and its individuals and defenders) respond to adversity.Russian Assault
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DX Varos Publishing
978-1-955065-62-7 $18.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Supernatural P.I. welcomes mystery and
paranormal action readers
with a Fawn Malero story of the P.I.'s alliance with a werewolf. Its
components are just as strong as its portrait supernatural events, and
with Fawn's newfound success as a self-appointed Supernatural P.I. for
She's on her
interview a serial-killer-in-training (who was also her bad first
date), on a
mission to extract information from the perp she'd personally brought
Davis adds a
touch of ironic humor into the situation from the start, which is one
protagonist Fawn's trademark responses: "Hopefully,
he didn’t hold his arrest and incarceration against me."
mission is to prove her career value to her family, validating her
choice of partners-in-solving-crimes with an effective first mission.
She has all
trappings of success—with one tiny problem: "...soon
I would have a belt with handcuffs, stun gun and whatever else a P.I.
need, like maybe a notepad or some mints? A camera would be good,
small and very spy like. What else did a supernatural private
need? Probably a client..."
personal validation from her family of Magicians evolves into a case
proves a worthy challenge to her abilities and even her supernatural
connections and influences. Fawn soon finds herself in over her head,
with a powerful force that is both tapping the power of the ocean and
an equally formidable vampire within its depths.
Supernatural P.I. employs the first
person to get into the mind,
logic, and heart of Fawn's world, exploring volatile family
connections as well as the underlying mystery that she's motivated to
solve: "I didn’t really want to involve my
father, I would rather just tell him after it was over that I had
it." The forces that give her an edge in the P.I. world also
critical eye on these efforts and their results. This involves readers
series of encounters that test Fawn's problem-solving as well as her
stability and connections.
supernatural creatures and humor into a story that is surprising and
on many levels, replete with comic relief at unexpected junctions of
and even romance: “What the hell is wrong
“Where should I start?” Evie said popping in. I threw a pillow at her, and she disappeared."
Supernatural P.I. is a P.I. story that is
just as strong in its
investigative components as it is in describing the evolution of a
problem-solver who hones her own unique abilities.
that are thoroughly embedded in crime and supernatural worlds alike
will find Supernatural P.I. an
from its strong character development and nicely paced action to the
twists of mystery that keeps readers involved to the end.
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979-8985447309 $17.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
"There is no paradise for cowards."
Perhaps that is one
motivation for destroying the world: to prove courage and thus gain
heaven. Ali bin al-Dosari, (aka Terror's Sword) does everything for
look for blends of high-octane action tempered by attention to
interplays and acts of political desperation will be attracted to the
encounter that plays out in Terror's
death and destruction is wielded by an attacker who sports a deadly
and is headed for the U.S. to wreak havoc.
taps the only resource that might be able to match this clever and
opponent: Kyle McEwan, a counterterrorism mastermind whose weapons
formidable as his deadly enemy.
is a force to be reckoned with, as murder and kidnappings surround his
to eliminate the danger. He's not alone, because all facets of science
government are united in not just locating Terror's Sword, but finding
for the deadly force he is set to unleash.
is the last left standing.
about terrorist threats, Kevin Kuhens injects added value into his
inner workings of bureaucratic and political processes which serve to
against themselves and each other as desperate men and entities
against an impossible weapon and timeline.
to more closely inspect not just a bioterror threat, but the mechanisms
sides which unwittingly create an environment in which it can flourish
independent of original intentions or the best efforts of terrorists
anti-terrorists to affect the outcome.
sends messages to the world that circumvent the best efforts of
stifle them, readers receive engrossing, realistic scenarios that
thought-provoking glimpses into the logic and nature of terrorists who
their actions are firmly rooted in faith ... and desperation.
fully develop the characters on both sides of events, which gives
satisfying opportunities to better understand the underlying
actions. This adds to the story's depth and gives it more of a social
psychological perspective than action alone, creating a standout that
tension with understanding.
killer across three continents and awaits an enemy's final error that
him the upper hand, events are not set in stone, but hold some
twists. These keep the reader not only on edge, but thinking about
powerful saga that probes Presidential actions, traps, moves and
and special ops processes that embrace various government departments,
different methods of handling adversity, and ultimately places the onus
American security squarely on the heads and shoulders of the men and
serve in the armed forces, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies.
all these agencies and elements affects the final outcome, tailors Kyle
McEwan's responses, and ultimately outlines a bigger political struggle
beyond clashing special interests to examine the religious and
machines that create them.
thriller readers looking for the chess-like moves of worthy opponents
each backed by a conviction and belief that their actions are of
importance to the world will find Terror's
Sword replete in satisfying confrontations both idealistic
contemporary and thought-provoking moments, Terror's
Sword is also recommended for book clubs and groups
interested in social
and political probes who will find much fodder for discussion in a
story that could, on many levels and under the right conditions, come
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$17.99 Hardcover/$8.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Uniform represents a military
at its finest. Perhaps this is because it's based on true events, and
of real drama is captured from the start.
The story opens in 1944, when a young doctor on his way to a Nazi death camp stumbles on the body of a murdered Gestapo officer and takes his uniform in an effort to survive.
Initially trained as a medic in Prague,
David Korda has spent his confinement trying to ingratiate himself to
Now he can be one of them. Or, can he?
The dead man’s uniform is gashed and
bloodied. Before the tunic can be any use to David, he has to
and drain the blood stains, all the time facing discovery by SS officer
Hausler’s ‘wife', Petra, and Oberführer Hausler’s family as well as his
Gestapo members—and the attendant risks to his life. These and a
relationship with a horse all affect his choices and decisions
just the uniform, but the world it represents.
The uniform changes everything, but it also
places him in a position of added danger from unexpected events that
him in different and deeper mysteries than those of survival and
From preserving the fabric of his disguise
(literally and figuratively) to navigating the strange new world the
has introduced him to, David finds himself at different odds with his
draws, once again, on his latent medical skills to save himself and
G. Gruen provides an exacting, step-by-step
drama that follows David through concentration camps and beyond.
A host of characters interact with him as he
attempts to repair more than the uniform, only to find he's become
mired in new
dilemmas that test his abilities, courage, and determination to survive.
The thriller components are just as deeply
steeped into the story as its historical and mystery-laced encounters,
a captivating tale replete with treachery and danger.
Readers looking for a World War II scenario
of a very different ilk than most, and libraries seeking thriller-style
embedded with unpredictable drama and action, will find The
defies pat categorization, but assumes a life of its own that makes it
put down. Its outcome is satisfyingly difficult to predict as David
the two choices of being a prisoner or a representative of the
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could get through what was bound to be one of the worst days of my
we could handle anything…right?"
is a romance
story that opens not with love, but loss. Narrator Bella Buchanan has
her mother. Her best friend Rhett is trying to help her. They live in
town of Half Moon Lake in the North Carolina mountains and have shared
things, but this is the first summer that Bella has thought of Rhett as
anything more but a good friend.
forward twelve years. Young mother Bella has a child of her own
(Brendan). She and Rhett broke up three years earlier. Rhett is still
life, but everything has changed. And yet, some things never change.
run high as the duo continues to struggle with their feelings
about one another: "He glanced away and wouldn’t meet my
gaze. What the
hell was wrong with him? We weren’t super close anymore, not since he’d
out of his parents’ guest house last fall and into his own small place,
we’d learned to coexist and be friendly with each other. And yet,
whatever reason, he seemed almost annoyed with me. I had half a mind to
what I did to piss him off."
conflicted love/hate of their relationship continually gets in the
way, clouding what each of them really want.
difference between this romance's progression and others is
that the points of view shift between Rhett and Bella. This is clearly
in chapter headings, making it easy for readers to understand these
voices and perspectives that lead to a better understanding of events
thus builds its
own vortex of swirling feelings as the confusion and love between these
star-crossed lovers continues to resonate over the years. Heartfelt
abound as each explains and explores their emotions: "I
didn’t want to
fight with him, not tonight. But this was something I had to do for
if he couldn’t understand that, then maybe this wasn’t meant to work
out. But I
prayed he would understand once I explained it."
psychological insights are astute and revealing, driving a story
replete with life changes and interpersonal conflicts.
result is a solid romance firmly centered in small-town life and
ambitions. Always Yours will prove an attractive
and compelling read for
romance followers who look for emotional growth amid contentious
relationships and changing friendships.
strong in romance stories will welcome Always Yours,
while romance book reader groups will find the contrasting male/female
perspectives offers excellent food for thought and discussion.
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Banks of the
Gordian Knot Books/Crossroads Press
978-1637897812 $17.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Banks of the River, the second book
adding to the Kansas Murder
Trilogy, is as much about a small Kansas town in the 1960s as it is
murder that changes it.
protagonist Jack Marshal is no saint. In fact, he's incarcerated in an
to cool off for 48 hours.
finds Jack a cut above the ordinary: "In
the proverbial phrase he was “Full of it!” Possessed of a joyous hunger
grasp each pleasure offered and take it in. Full of it—the devil. He
loved too deeply for faith to cure, loved too deeply the marrow of
his sins, Jack imparts a ribald story that involves Jack's implication
murder surrounding his teen daughter's pregnancy by Jack's old buddy.
the town in many conundrums because more is at stake than Jack standing
Also on the line and under examination are the beliefs, actions, and
undercurrents of the town's secrets, which stand trial alongside him
exposed one by one.
The heart of
follies lies in deception, decisions, and perceptions that shake the
its roots, both individually and as a community.
As a host of
characters swirl around Jack's mistakes and life, readers receive a
story of redemption and town complexities, tempered with a wry, ironic
underlying stream of humor that keeps readers involved and walking a
between criminals and citizens. Immersed in murky legal and social
good citizens of this small town find their parties and lives in full
they cope with the changing tides of legal, political, and social
exceptional characters with the ability to represent both the ironic,
facets of life and everyday milestones of achievement, Melvin Litton
another winning story (begun in King
Harvest) that captures the characters and sentiments of this
fiction who look for a satisfying blend of mystery and a broader sense
and purpose than most murder novels embrace will find that Banks of the River appeals beyond the
murder mystery genre to attract
readers interested in communities and the crimes that rock them.
books that operate either as an integral addition to a trilogy or on
as solid examinations of guilt, innocence, and mercurial legal waters
Banks of the River a fine novel.
recommended for anyone who enjoys tales of small-town residents and
redemption, and resolve.
Return to Index
Richard W. Wise
Brunswick House Press
979-8-9864208-1-3 $17.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Fans of Jean
fictional stories set in prehistoric Europe will be just one of the
interested in The Dawning: 31,000 BC,
which is set in the Ice Age world of Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals.
Cro-Magnons Ejil and Lada are just beginning to explore their feelings
another when an attack by the pale-skinned Neanderthals tears their
apart. Lada is missing, and Ejil finds himself on an unexpected journey
regain tribal connections and love.
captures the vivid setting, confrontations between very different
the ancient world of Southwest France in an adventure that immediately
reader attention, introducing the atmosphere and adversity of these
He takes the
build a "you are here" feel with a sense of place that embraces the
characters' observations and world: "As
the sun climbed the sky ladder and the day warmed, the two girls made
deeper into the thick forest and, probing with their digging sticks,
for edible roots and tubers. The forest was quiet. Cave Bears still
lions, cave lions and other big scary animals avoided the thick woods.
paused and sniffed the air. She loved the sharp smell of pine."
painted caves and the spiritual nature of these early beings as they
and venture into lands and places that challenge both their survival
perceptions of their world and what lies beyond it: "Pico
stays by himself. He has a hut below the mouth of the sacred
cave. It is high up in the cliffs, almost a half day’s walk. There is a
chamber—paintings by Pico line its walls. That is where the tribal
meets. There are some, deeper in the cave that have been there
for as long as anyone can remember.”
“A sacred cave,” Ejil said, his excitement rising. “Is it very deep, then?”
“It is the womb of the earth, sacred to The Mother. No one has ever found its end. None have gone so far in as Pico, but even he had to turn back when he grew faint and his torch refused to burn.
“His torch wouldn’t burn? How strange.”
“Yes, perhaps it is the fetid breath of the spirits that dwell deep in the earth. Pico believes the doorway to the Shadowlands lies in its depths. Powerful spirits protect it.”
attention to the
physical world and its interpretation by various peoples and tribes
realistic tone to the story, which is driven by emotional connections,
and tribulations, and two young lovers who find their world changed and
The Dawning: 31,000 BC is as much a story
of war and peace as it is
of individual lovers and changed destinies.
capturing the physical and emotional components of land and peoples
makes for a
realistic, involving drama that unfolds new possibilities and
between disparate tribes and peoples.
and libraries seeing interest in this genre of prehistoric fictional
are in for a treat.
Return to Index
Cathy Burnham Martin
Quiet Thunder Publishing
978-1-939220-60-8 $15.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
readers who like tales of coming of age, survival, and revised
find Destiny of Determination: Faith and
Family a fine second book, enhancing a trilogy about World
War II and the
Armenian genocide survivors who come to the U.S. in search of new
recommended that the first book, Destiny
of Dreams, be consulted before this continuing story, this is
absolutely required in order for newcomers to become immersed in the
carry Hrant Gulumian and his family to a new life in America.
of respite and safety, the realities of being an immigrant in a strange
where language, culture, and prejudice affect their safety and choices
central to their story and adaptation.
Martin's focus on faith and family are the guiding themes of a literary
survey that holds its roots in mother Glenna Burnham's immigrant
influence lends historical integrity to her efforts, bringing the past
with rich descriptions that both continue her family's true story and
fictional embellishments to capture the action and feelings of her
review of primary characters from Book 1 gives newcomers an easy
slide right into the lives and people in Book 2, while modern
contrast with family interactions and past memories through inviting
and interpersonal relationships: “Oh, how
Grampa would have enjoyed this... and YOU,” Cassie uttered.
“I know I’ve told you this before, but my grandfather, Hrant Gulumian, crosses my mind so often when it comes to little things you do. Just like Grampa, your lawn has to be perfect, as if rivaling some country club’s golf course greens. Just like Grampa, you love flowers, birds, and boats. Just like Grampa, you have extraordinary intelligence, an uncanny mathematical ability, and a seemingly natural knack for engineering and constructing things. I wish he had lived long enough to meet you.”
Set in the
century, the events trace the impact and roots of bigotry and prejudice
multiple generations as their lives grow to embrace both family
interest and note is the ways in which Martin interjects and contrasts
stories, experiences, and lives. As "Days of Love and Tears" unfolds,
complete with family recipes and reviews of better days and strong
life's adversity and promise, readers receive an immigrant experience
captures and contrasts the nature of immigrant family worlds.
highly recommended for historical novel readers, Destiny
of Determination should also serve, along with its
predecessor, as a starting point for book club and family discussions
Armenian history, family relationships, faith, and perseverance against
changing backdrop of American lives, prejudices, and ideals.
Return to Index
Sandra L. Young
The Wild Rose Press
978-1-5092-3823-1 $16.99 paperback; $4.99 ebook
blends romance and suspense in a novel designed to attract historical
readers looking for strong female protagonists and a sense of adventure.
The story opens with Tess's
puzzling confession to
another: “My husband didn’t kill me!”
As this gripping opening
scene moves to more revelations
and mystery, readers will find this story of a 1913 puzzle that draws a
contemporary woman into the past to be thoroughly absorbing and hard to
A sea change happens between
the story's powerful
introductory scenario, the peppering of quotes in between from other
fans of Divine Vintage, and Chapter
appears to open in May 2013 with Tess Burton's new adventure, attending
auctions for her new business.
She's used to taking massive
risks—but not with her
inheritance. Divine Vintage represents a business risk, but promises
rewards and much adventure; both of which attract her and lure her into
situation far from the traditional world of navigating estate sales and
Past and present flow into
one another as Tess's venture
into 1913 (ala the clothing of the era) contrast with her contemporary
the modern world.
As a murder draws Tess into
a scenario of romance, sordid
mystery, and danger, readers move into a story steeped in historical
and modern dilemmas alike. These contrasts in time and place enhance
romantic components and the intrigue as readers come to appreciate
ability to navigate both worlds.
As Tess handles her visions
of a murdered bride and joins
with Trey Dunmore in exploring his
family history and secrets, the couple finds their own potential
risk—along with the business and their own lives.
Sandra L. Young crafts a
divine story of contrasts in
time, place, and purposes. Readers who enjoy engaging mystery spiced
sultry romantic overtones will especially appreciate the powerful
both in a story designed to simultaneously titillate and intrigue.
Libraries strong in either
romance or mystery that look
for strong characters whose lives are changed by their abilities and
will find Divine Vintage an
attractive acquisition. It acquires its heat not just from kisses, but
high drama and unexpected twists and turns as Tess finds herself caught
two determined men.
Return to Index
$32.00 Hardcover/$19.95 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Fearless is a novel based on
true facts. It comes from a "cradle Catholic" who spent several years
in a Catholic girls' boarding school, and who holds a personal,
familiarity with the Catholic Church's schools, convents, and
Viewing with horror the Church’s moral failings and persistent
women and other disenfranchised groups, she is no longer Catholic.
highly respects the heroic work of countless nuns who work tirelessly
front lines of social justice for women and other marginalized groups.
fictional story of seventeen-year-old Maggie Corrigan, who has
tough life as the oldest child of seven, growing up motherless (her
in childbirth) and impoverished in a Southside Chicago Irish-Catholic
seem clear: either follow her mother's path into marriage and too many
or enter the convent to dedicate her life to God and chastity. The
like a no-brainer as Maggie chooses the latter, but finds her devotion
anything but a singular, predictable path.
a key role in a story in which Maggie comes to represent not just
piety, but a
special brand of woman whose purpose seems clear: to both support and
against the Church she so loves.
tough and devious as she survived her family situation and remained
true to her
spiritual calling. These traits continue to serve her well as she hones
challenge to the Church that includes a fight for women's reproductive
charity work, in clashes between personalities, and in moral and
evolve in a story replete with many thought-provoking experiences and
passages: “She wants to establish a relationship with
to open up a funding stream. Says she will assure the cardinal and head
Catholic Charities that the shelter’s goal is to help women come to
senses and return to their husbands—keep the family together. This is
what we don’t want to be doing, for Christ’s sake. If we accept money
archdiocese, we’ll have to accept the strings that are attached, and we
like them. You have to help me figure out how to stop this reign of
powerhouse of a story especially recommended for readers steeped in and
supportive of Catholic faith, but critical of some of its social
This audience will find much food for thought in Maggie's struggles to
reconcile her beliefs with her moral and ethical values.
strong in fiction that represents strong female characters and
want to include Fearless in their
holdings, ideally it will
reach beyond library shelves to assume a major and interactive role in
clubs and reading groups interested in representations of women's
the Catholic Church.
find many discussion points in Maggie's experiences and changing world,
will fuel debates and provide opportunities for deeper-level thinking.
Return to Index
A Home for
Ramirez & Clark Publishers LLC
$21.95 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
A Home for the Stars is the third,
concluding volume in the Lantern
Creek trilogy, and ideally will be chosen by prior fans, who will find
concluding story of a magical experience picks up where the last book
a mysterious Ojibwa petroglyph which has carried Justine Cook back in
the moment her unseen enemy is born, separating her from what is
introducing her to a world that she's only dreamed of.
with magic and danger is countered by her determination to find Dylan,
apparently left her alone in this strange place where a "great wind"
has deposited her. Her top mission is to stop Henry Younts before he
those she loves. The only way to save them is to find what she came to
world to uncover.
setting marking Justine's awakening and sense of purpose leads nicely
first chapter, where Calvert Cook is tending to a girl that was
lying in his field.
fine story of the shaman, Butler, and the characters that surrounding
as well as capturing their confusion over Justine's strange clothing
Butler and Odessa find their lives entwined, the action unfolds on
levels, moving between a magical odyssey and a mission to save very
of fine characters who each hold special interests in the outcome of
with the flavor of magical realism, creates action-packed scenes of
confrontation, and reveals "Injun magic" and forces of religious
fervor that don't always follow logical paths of good and evil's
powerful novel that nicely completes the prior books in the Lantern
find the tale involving, ideally readers of A
Home for the Stars will be prior fans, This audience will
gain the most
from its continuing revelations of this world and its people.
popularity with the other books in the series will find A
Home for the Stars a satisfying conclusion that includes
reflections on when a search should end and peace be accepted.
Return to Index
979-8-9865206-0-5 $14.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
contemporary women's fiction will enjoy Joint
Venture's foray into the wild, wild world of a business
venture that brings
together two disparate "frenemies" who traditionally are at odds with
one another, but find their lives entwined in expected ways.
business pursuit that surprisingly serves each of their newfound
particularly well, Alice and Helen both find themselves in the
of their 60s, cast adrift after their partners exit stage left. Whether
betrayal or demise, each flounders and grasps the other in a lifesaving
that will prove much more to each, opening new doors of opportunity
atop past adversity.
incorporates a wry sense of humor about the personalities and events
dovetail in an unexpectedly odd journey, starting with childhood
between the two which set the stage for future interactions steeped in
controversy and competition.
is a long
time to maintain even a tenuous connection, however bittersweet. Helen
had fled the small town of Poplar Point right after graduation with her
Alice thought this was the end of the story (and their tumultuous
until she comes upon Helen in a state of disarray, drunk on the
an event that tests even her newfound meditative peace: "As
Alice helped Helen to her feet, she felt a small vindictive
flare of pleasure. She tried to suppress it, remembering the silent
to kindness and compassion she had made at the meditation meeting just
earlier. Well, this was definitely a test of her commitment."
between these women rekindles into a shared purpose in later life,
receive an engrossing exploration of how opposites not only attract,
combine forces to achieve formidable goals.
time to portray these disparate personalities, the reasons why they
the values that drive their lives: "She
couldn’t resist a closer examination of Alice, whom she had not spent
time with in years. Yup, not much had changed except for the 20 or 30
pounds. Same hippie–dippy clothes. Same dangling earrings and jangling
bracelets. Same long thick braid down her back—only now it was gray
brown. Unconsciously, Helen brushed her palm over her own recently
from Helen to Alice, these character-driven experiences come to life to
thought-provoking and often funny passages driven by these different
perspectives about life and values. Other characters, such as Helen's
Kim, also add perspective from other vantage points to round out the
interactions between the two women.
incorporates wry humor as her opinions of her mother are revised,
her to adopt a new story of family connections to her young charges and
husband: "Where was she going? Home
to tell Kevin what had happened? To tell her children that the
had come to love was now the town champion of marijuana?"
As the two
evolve, so does a town struggling with the latest social issue
laws and outlook; and so does Kim, who finds her mother's presence not
embarrassing, but socially and psychological challenging: "Why was her mother, of all people, speaking up for
Access side? Was this what her mother had been secretly working on up
room all this time? She knew about Kim’s position as chair of the Board
principal of the high school; she knew about the public stance Kim and
of the Board had taken. Didn’t she care that Kim now looked like a
is a tale
replete in transformations that operate on different levels, from
interpersonal and community-wide. The ripples of controversy threaten
the new relationship apart, leading it back to old foundations of
even as it holds out the promise of something different.
this dual focus on community and interpersonal change to be thoroughly
satirical inspections create a nice interplay between characters and
issues, while the family relationships affected by the duo's new joint
are strongly depicted.
Joint Venture evolves to be more than
about business or a
friendship revitalized. Its astute probe of social issues that affect
ties makes for a small-town portrait of personalities and purposes that
highly recommended for libraries and book clubs seeking novels about
relationships, growth, and family changes alike.
Return to Index
The Killer Half: The Legend of Blackhawk 6-Deuce
is a novel about
combat at home and abroad. It follows Hawk, who has become
the war in the Middle East and has walked away from one battle, only to
himself in unexpected combat territory at home.
remorse, and as though he's been used. But he's not used up, because he
to full-on combat mode when he uncovers a scheme for an armed invasion
America and makes a stand on his own country's soil.
action-packed stories that also retain a good degree of reflective
about the nature of military combat and civilian efforts to sustain
will find The Killer Half replete
with thought-provoking passages as Hawk considers the political
his task of protecting his country.
JB Blake is
of military history and behavioral science (among other research
and these lend a fine foundation of reality to a story steeped in
encounters and a relatively unique form of dialogue between characters
eschews the usual quotation-mark usage.
feels more like a film script or play because of this, but the format
the action and interactions, highlighting the plot's impact.
done and the changing settings and clashes are particularly compelling
realistic in their portrayal. A cast of supplemental characters bring
actions to life, as well.
The "you are
here" descriptive moments are especially well detailed: "The
pilots flew back and forth once
over the valley where nothing was moving. If anyone had moved, they
shot them. These helicopters were violent, deadly weapons, and the men
them knew exactly how to use them to maximize death on the ground. They
made for assault and for close air support of infantry, and they had
job with destructive efficiency. Snakes flew over the volcanic tube and
into it, but they couldn’t get an angle to be effective. They hovered
time away from the wash to see if anyone would come out. No one did.
could still hear the helicopters because of the distinct sound their
thrillers that take a character's military service history to evolve it
the usual formula writing approach will appreciate the evocative
The Killer Half which
brings to life not only battles, but
unexpected romance and characters whose hearts shine with love and
Return to Index
Enoch Publications, LLC
978–1-942627–04–3 $14.99 Print/$2.99 ebook
Lyrical Bliss in Tuscany is Book 3 in the
Bel Homme Quartet. It
will best be enjoyed by prior enthusiasts of the series, who will find
story of Italian opera singer Nico Biviano to be compelling as he
classical crossover group Bel Homme in a new venture that introduces
romance along with its different notes.
romance, and music weave a solid story of achievement, pursuit, and new
journeys as Nico's world tour turns into a relationship with the very
Gina, who also didn't anticipate falling in love.
in different ways. Each has dealt with the distractions of previous
relationships in manners that eschewed lasting connections. And they
within one another, a mirror of their expectations and ambitions that
to produce results greater than the sum of their individual efforts.
exceptional job of following Nico and Gina as they step out of their
zones, both with each other and in their individual ambitions and
surprising Gina (and she often surprises herself) as they contemplate
attachment that could require an exorcist to untangle.
interactions on both sides to introduce more surprises requiring
both characters' parts. This, in turn, creates a fine tension that
romantic and sexual encounters to embrace the growing affair's
changing family interactions and relationships, as well.
Italian-backed culture of love and growth emphasized in Lyrical
Bliss in Tuscany forms the backdrop for a powerful story
that ends with a surprising revelation.
multifaceted romances touched as much by evolutionary processes as by a
couple's growing attraction will find Lyrical
Bliss in Tuscany a haunting story that's nicely steeped in
and romantic surprises. It also follows several characters who circle
Nico and Gina with their own changing involvements.
Lyrical Bliss in Tuscany deserves a place
on the shelves of
libraries strong in novels that spin a fine yarn of the psychological
transformations love can bring.
Return to Index
Marooned is a shipwreck story of a different ilk,
surrounding a couple and a cat.
The family in the classic Swiss Family
Robinson banded together to create a new home and life while
rescue. In Louise Jane Watson's contemporary take on becoming marooned,
is no supportive nuclear family. Just a cat. And, as Book 1 of the Lost
Found series explores, the process of being marooned demands more than
tactics and physical innovations.
The day began with the promise of sunshine,
relaxation, and new connections. So, why is Pinky out of bounds and
control, now? She finds her past strengths stymied, under these
"There had never been a situation she couldn't run, jump, or
way out of. But out here, her modus operandi was useless."
And this is
just the cat's experience as she rides a human survivor on the waves
aftermath of shipwreck.
Sunny also shares these qualities, and a
vacation in Fiji seems like just the opportunity to profile the beauty
danger not just of the island, but in life in general. Especially since
first stranger she encounters is drop-dead gorgeous.
But, unlike Pinky, Sunny is not vacationing.
She's there to work as an illustrator on a research station, and duty
Sunny, too, cultivates "a resourceful mind that saw a
found a solution." She excels in embracing and working with
Nothing in life could have prepared her for
her Fijian adventure, however, as she embarks on a journey of survival
exploration that ultimately tests not just her physical skills, but her
Watson creates an emotional roller coaster
of a ride in Marooned which carries readers beyond
the usual shores of
romance as Kit and Sunny struggle with one another and themselves.
Independent and proactive at age
twenty-five, Sunny has never had the opportunity to cultivate such a
relationship, so Kit thinks she's naïve and much younger. It's simply
Sunny has not been made bitter and jaded by life experience, unlike so
her contemporaries. And that lends to her attraction which, in
the opportunity to blossom.
Readers who pick up Marooned
anticipating a survival story alone may be surprised at the depths the
Unlikely as a relationship between a sexy,
world-wise Hollywood star and a nature artist might be, the shipwreck
them (and the ship's cat) together in an endeavor that changes them
Readers receive a story of evolutionary
growth both between and within the characters as perspectives shift
and Sunny. This allows for psychological growth and revelations to be
to the forefront as their situation forces new efforts and realizations
has ever attempted in their lives. Watson's psychological probe is
juxtaposing the simmering romantic potential of an island made for two
counting the cat) with the explorations and secrets each individual
move forward with their lives.
As new perspectives blossom under adverse
conditions, romance readers will especially appreciate that a
situation evolves, both mentally and physically, between all three
The result is a love story, a survival
piece, and a fictional revelation of growth and connection. Marooned
highly recommended for romance libraries and readers, but also should
women who seek strong female role models (and cats) who tackle their
futures with equal ability.
Return to Index
The Mother I
Hadleigh House Publishing
979-8-9850576-1-4 $16.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
The Mother I Never Had opens with an
ordinary morning in
protagonist Nate's life. It's one that is destined to change in the
blink of an
eye when an old skeleton from 30 years ago comes rattling out of his
change his world.
made an orphan when his father died, but even more surprising is the
of Amy in his life soon after, who brings with her information and a
that involves him in a journey to find the truth about his heritage.
On the line
relationship with girlfriend Jennifer, his sense of self, and a family
that challenges everything he's known about his past.
creates an outstanding story of family flaws and connections that
revelations into a staid life.
strong characters, motivations, and believable events that lead to
situations makes for a tale replete with considerations of what changes
individuals human, influence their lives and psyches, and why betrayal
and how it can be justified.
psychological currents contribute to a story that poses unexpected
turns as Nate reconsiders every belief he's fostered about his heritage
life's trajectory. His dual choice to be angry with Amy and sad about
father's own duplicity and decisions sets off a chain reaction which
in his own life options.
As Nate goes
therapy and considers the pros and cons of such an intense probe of his
readers will find much to like about the man and his dilemmas. His
change not only his love liaison, but his business relationship with
partner Danny and virtually every facet of his life.
At the heart
story is an evolving affiliation to and realizations about the mother
never knew, and the effects of family secrets on future generations.
novels replete in revelations and change, with a character who
own motivations for pursuing marriage and family ties, will find that The Mother I Never Had opens new doors
of insight that leads them to think about their own choices and the
consequences of their decisions and beliefs about the world.
family ties and impacts receive a fine list of discussion points at the
end which will encourage lively debates, both in reading groups and in
psychological group circles.
Return to Index
The Wild Rose Press
9781509245956 $17.99 paperback/$5.99 ebook
Enlightenment series expands with the addition of Penelope's
Passion, a study in love and legacy that follows
eighteen-year-old Penelope Wood's first journey to London and the new
and job she faces there.
Enlightenment has prepared her for this big step, but it couldn't
tackle matters of the heart as Penelope finds her new position brings
challenges that lie far outside the school's instructions.
back to the family, Penelope has a career aspiration—to start a bakery.
as a courtesan is the first step towards realizing a dream that
threatens to be
waylaid by unpredictable events beyond her goals and experiences.
The world of
early 1800s and London society are nicely captured as Penelope pursues
ambition and finds her concepts of the world rocked by what she
It should be
that explicit sexual descriptions accompany the story of Penelope's
which will attract readers who look for more real-world descriptions
scenarios that embrace sexual explorations, but may preclude enjoyment
readers seeking more staid romances.
approach to her life embraces all possibilities as she moves forward in
different ways, and the detailed sexual experiences are part of the
she grows as she fosters a relationship with Lord Michael Slade, who is
be married to another and faces the need to gain distance and
despite being thoroughly enchanted.
childhood and lifelong friend Sophia, subject of Book 1 in this series,
the picture after a hiatus, Michael's close-knit family faces changes
from the patriach's health issues, but from a son's choices.
time to explore these connections and relationships: "My
parents allowed my sister and I free rein out of the limelight
of London Society so we could enjoy our childhoods. Even learning my
responsibilities as heir was fun with my father." Her
are steeped not just in the trappings of privilege, but in a changing
where past legacy and present-day inclinations are tested in new ways.
of the social, sexual, and psychological connections between kin and
loves creates a thoroughly realistic, engrossing story that Regency
readers, in particular, will find familiar and exciting.
At stake are
Michael and Penelope's growing connections, but Penelope's own dreams
family and career.
satisfyingly intricate dance between all the characters against the
1800s England, creating a compelling interplay of emotional and
attraction that will draw not only prior fans of Sophia's
Schooling, but newcomers who will be enticed by the
promise of blossoming relationships and goals.
Regency romances with sultry descriptions and characters that
into their powers and grow both separately and with one another will
find Penelope's Passion rich and
Return to Index
Five Star Publishing
978-1432895877 $25.95 Hardcover
novels, historical fiction, and prior readers of Rawhide Jake in Learning the Ropes will each find a
compelling new saga to appreciate in Rawhide
Jake: Lone Star Fame, which centers on Jake's ongoing
encounters that take
place after he splits from Wes Wilson in the first book.
Jake is now
undercover, arresting cattle rustlers and gaining a reputation for
justice. But riding the range looking for criminals isn't his only
Also a part
life is a romance he's cultivated with a married woman, whom he marries
her husband dies. There are also unresolved issues with Wes, who
this book, to join Jake in a dangerous undertaking that almost kills
changes his life. Now the owner of a new company that places him and
Chinese workers in different jeopardy, Jake's battles are only
powerful saga set in the late 1800s, which incorporates the political,
and psychological challenges of these times.
represents not only a force of strength and change in a world beset
those who would skirt justice systems, but a business figure, as he
into unusual investments and absorbs financial interests and matters
his work in other areas. His actions are detailed with logical analysis
realistic insight: "His original
intent was to ride out to the crew and deliver the payroll. But now his
changed because money-in is always more important to develop than
Both were needed of course in business, but there were priorities."
As Jake, his
Mary Jane, and Wes come to terms with new opportunities that test their
readers receive a powerful Western backdrop that both educates and
in the historical record concerning the real Rawhide Jake. Jonas V.
was not ever known as Rawhide Jake; however, many western historians
was. Same goes for his role as a stock detective. The author came to
these disparities after the publication of Learning
the Ropes, and segued the part fiction/part fact contents of
predecessor into a full fictional format in Lone
looking for Westerns that incorporate historical backdrops with a
attention to descriptive detail and the lives of those faced with
changing choices will find Rawhide Jake:
Lone Star Fame a fine survey of life challenges in 1800s
concludes with the promise of another Jake adventure in another Western
The blend of
and adventure works seamlessly to create a vivid account that is
and hard to put down.
Return to Index
978099912024 $14.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Saigon Spring spices war fiction with
mystery and thriller
components to expand the story's potential audience, making it a
not just for the usual historical Vietnam experience readers, but for
seeking a solid novel of intrigue.
It opens in
the San Francisco Airport, where the first-person narrator is set to
a journey dressed in full green army uniform and paratrooper boots.
Post-Vietnam, returning vets were not treated with respect, but
Despite this atmosphere, the narrator retains pride in his military
accomplishments. It's a pride that will be tested both at home and
captures the sentiments of the times as well as the unfolding mystery
surrounding Sergeant Travis Nickels as he returns home convinced his
duty is finished forever, only to find himself re-enlisting, drawn back
Vietnam which is now in complete chaos after the war.
about his service, Vietnamese relationships, and choices made during
have come full circle to haunt any semblance of him moving on, forcing
into the past to confront not just the consequences of his decisions,
lingering mystery that infuses his life with angst and uncertainty.
mirrors the wider issues of America's involvements in that region.
been changed, because he's assumed a dead soldier's identity to get
Vietnam to find his family's killer.
So opens a
thriller that includes many of the trappings of a traditional Vietnam
then departs from the norm to bring its readers on an unexpected
through a war-torn region of anguished hearts and minds.
Much of the
focuses on his new civilian status at home—how Travis reluctantly
hide the fact that he's a vet and how he deals with those who think
military service only attracted suckers while others (more intelligent)
ways to reject the call to go fight in Vietnam.
As he gets
experiences life at Ranger school, and seemingly moves forward even
constrained by events from his past, he finds his trajectory moves full
as the secrets he's kept even from his wife draw him back into the
the social and political experiences and divides that keep changing the
picture, employing powerful "you are here' imagery to capture Travis's
observations and conclusions: "That
means only one thing," said Tam. "Victory or death. There's not going
to be a peaceful negotiation to this offensive despite what your
my government hopes. It's all or nothing this time."
for a good
man, what constitutes bravery in environments replete with atrocities,
can Travis make better decisions?
blends with mystery, intrigue, and psychological self-inspection to
give Saigon Spring a full-bodied
discovery and revelation that is rare in either mysteries or thrillers.
life in different ways, and is especially recommended for readers of
fiction, who will find in this story far more depth, linking personal
cultural and political experience, than most.
events that drive Travis are mercurial and unpredictable. How he finds
against all odds and reconciles past with future opportunities makes
story that is not only recommended for libraries looking for powerful
Vietnam-based accounts, but book club discussion groups interested in
novels and growth-inducing stories about personal transformation.
Return to Index
Thursday Night Press (an imprint of DX Varos Publishing)
978-1-955065-64-1 $19.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
readers typically don't receive humor mixed into dark descriptions, but
Sasquatch Love Call represents a
satisfying foray into the unexpected, both in its romance component and
array of supernatural forces, from sasquatch interference with weddings
little fire problem.
a bang that captures this juxtaposition of action and fun: "The explosion shook the entire house throwing me
out of my bed.
Paperbacks were knocked off shelves. My heavy, carved, oak wardrobe
full foot along the wall. I was lucky it was bottom heavy since it
over on top of me. My bookshelf, desk, and bed, had joined it in a
across the floor. I was not amused. Before being blown up, I had been
midst of a delightful dream involving Anna. The music had stopped, she
about to kiss me, and boom."
monster hunts, supernatural encounters, and everyday life keeps the
intriguing on more than one level: “Tell
you what, we’ll go monster hunting tonight and then you guys can go
hunting tomorrow night.” She sighed.
“All right, I guess that’ll do.”
“Good,” Mike said. “Let me get the cornbread.”
The cornbread was fantastic.
circus of characters in colorful garb enter the picture to build a fun
of a strange summer in Weir Canyon, Colorado, as Danny Jael's mountain
job becomes tainted by acts of heroism and murder.
There is no
to define the rollicking romp that is Sasquatch
Love Call. Suffice to call it a mystery, a foray into the
a love story with a decidedly different tone and characters.
seeking humor with a satisfyingly fun supernatural backdrop will find Sasquatch Love Call impossible to either
categorize or put down.
Return to Index
Son of a
Mark B. Arrieta and Deborah Driggs
Crystal Woods Publishing
Son of a Basque is introduced by Mark B.
Dorothy Stangle, who explains that this posthumous novel reflects a
legacy, as it is loosely based on her father's experiences and explores
life, prejudices and honors.
passed in 1998, but his story lives on, both in this book and in its
his family's memories and knowledge of family history. It now holds an
additional opportunity for readers to absorb the life of a young man
ten years old in 1928, and whose world evolved to embrace the war that
lead him into the military and uncharted territory.
romance which develops in the midst of his enlistment to a Basque
determination, love, and special brand of perseverance, family
profiled in a story that is outstanding in its exploration of culture,
heritage, and connections.
a coming-of-age or wartime saga alone will find that while Son of a Basque embraces both of these
facets, it's real strength
lies in family relationship probes that explore Basque culture and its
impact on future generations.
separation from wife and children as he performs his military duties to
lingering aftermath of threat when the war ends ("Later,
a Japanese soldier gave himself up to the American patrol group,
telling the intelligence officer during an interview that he and some
surviving Japanese soldiers had been instructed never to surrender. He
unaware that the war had ended and had been living in the jungle and
the beaches late at night to catch fish to survive. If I’d known that
soldiers were still alive and living in the jungles, I would never have
my boys and left them on the deserted beaches at night."),
learn of a life well lived, centered on family and embracing the impact
military career on all family members.
Driggs is the
granddaughter of Mark B. Arrieta, who wrote this book in tribute to his
a famous Basque bullfighter.
scope, from World War II to the Vietnam War, explores how families
handle the rigors of life changes.
Son of a Basque is a legacy to his
family, but to their credit and
publishing efforts, it's now also a legacy for fiction readers who
stories based on true life, accounts of military and civilian
the efforts of a man who proved a hero to his family in so many
novels that explore all these facets, from family ties to Basque
the generations that receive this gift of cultural identity, will find Son of a Basque a solid work of
Return to Index
Patti Frye Meredith
Mint Hill Books/Main Street Rag Publishing Company
978-1-59948-905-6 $17.95 Paper/$6.99 Kindle
South of Heaven is set in 1998 in North
Carolina. It tells of two
middle-aged, estranged sisters who find their lives unexpectedly
they are forced to live together and reveal the lies of the past to not
one another, but the world.
everything, from the source of their love and estrangement to their
relationships with their families and others in their separate lives.
culture, and relationships of the town of Carthage, North Carolina come
to form an evocative backdrop as the drama plays out.
is especially adept at introducing characters from Fern's past and her
of recalling this past and contrasting it with present-day incarnations
experiences: "Fern searched Doyle’s
features for the boy she’d known. The sharp angles of his jaw had
recognized the flush of spider veins that too much alcohol wrote across
but overall, time had been kind. She doubted he thought the same about
awaken newfound feelings in her which embrace revelation, forgiveness,
different emotions that influence the winds of change, both external
internal: "For a moment she
remembered the girl she used to be, one worthy of kindness."
a life she doesn't deserve"? As she and sister Leona's lives become
entangled and their personal affairs turn into headline news for all to
and judge, Meredith weaves a compelling story of human nature and
story ultimately reveals the nature of second changes, new
revised viewpoints in life.
novels about estrangement, reconciliation, and stormy redemption will
find South of Heaven a little piece
in itself: a story that pulls at the heart and presents two strong
whose shared experiences take on different meaning and impact in their
discussion points about changing family connections in mid-life will
to talk about in a novel that captures the life lessons of siblings who
caught up in bigger-picture events and thinking.
Return to Index
Sun City: A Hilariously
Addictive Story of Rebellion
9798985471748 $14.95 Paper/$5.99 ebook
Hilariously Addictive Story of Rebellion is a humorous coming-of-age novel that
incorporates many elements
in its romp through Irving Mills' life, from a mother who likes to set
alarm clock for an ungodly hour to clog-dancer Wiccans, genetically
government pot seeds, and genius baker Betty Crocker.
up a formula for disaster, irony, and fun as teen involvements segue
various disparate elements both nefarious and innocent.
As the lives
sixty-year-old farmer Cal (whose beloved farm has been sold out from
by well-meaning adult children intent on seeing him safe in a Sun City
for the elderly), Irving, and Betty (a "genius with a spice rack")
coalesce, readers receive a hilarious story that charts the process of
rebellion in disparate lives.
create not just one or two, but a cast of characters who each harbor a
sense of rebellion contributes to a multifaceted story that attracts on
At the same
it's a tale that lives up to its subtitle and defies pat
Coming-of-age readers will find far more involved than a boy and a
Readers of stories about elderly rebellion will find much to appreciate
Yarbough's madcap encounters with Betty Crocker, Wild Bill, and other
unexpectedly lively characters in his new home.
It's here, in the form of a mob boss in the witness protection program
former CIA operative who sports a new passion for counterculture ideals.
familiar traits, routines, and progression are turned on end because
tale excels in unexpected routes. Its characters could, under another
have represented staid stereotypes, but here they assume whimsical and
countenances that defy the norm.
is a novel
that is compellingly, unexpectedly vivid in its contrasts between
youth, old age,
and disparate choices that have unexpected results.
Libraries looking for
novels that successfully work outside the formulas of suspense, humor,
coming-of-age, or end-of-life scenarios will relish the fresh, original
countenance ofs Sun
creatively powerful form of rebellion against convention.
Return to Index
Waiting ‘Round To Die
Die tells of a nameless man who
takes to the road in an effort to uncover answers about his past. The
opens with the first-person narrator reflecting on this escape: "I
not felt this disconnected from my myriad responsibilities in years. No
save the person who checked me into the hotel, knew where I was. I kind
wondered if my wife cared. I suspected she didn’t. She told me to
leave. I was
just taking her advice."
He has a vague idea of where he is going,
but no real concept of where he will wind up. At once a middle-age
and a discussion of existential life inspection, Waiting
‘Round To Die
contains a sense of irony because its character is making the choice to
anything but wait for the end of his story.
Readers who look for stories of middle-agers
in crisis about their lives and choices, who embark on a road trip of
self-discovery that results in odd answers to questions that drive
with disparate individuals along the way, will find Waiting
‘Round To Die
a fine study in opposites.
excellent job of juxtaposing social, political, historical, and
references during the course of this novel. The journey details a road
the heart and mind, as much as it covers the physical encounters with
individuals that each lend a sense of revelation to the narrator's
Astute dialogue often synthesizes this process and its meaning:
“Tell me this then,” Morty continued. “What are you
doing? Why are you
driving around the country with your degenerate uncle?”
“I am trying to find myself.”
“You’re almost fifty years old. You should have found yourself thirty years ago.”
“Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I never knew who I was.”
readers will be prompted to consider their own life-changing moments
meanings, and will find the narrator's journey thought-provoking and
disparate set of personalities, and contrasting life visions with
reflection to receive a novel that proves enlightening and entertaining
than one level: "I did not need to
spend another twenty or thirty years just waiting around to die. This
what I’d signed up for. This was, in no way, what I wanted. No muse, no
nobody needs me . . . what the hell was I going to do next?"
novels about middle-age journeys will find Waiting ‘Round To
Die one of the best, while book
this topic will find the story holds plenty of fodder for discussion.
Return to Index
used to the challenging world of a trauma ER environment, but he isn't
finding out that one of his critically ill new patients is a former
summary of events, readers might anticipate that this story will be
through Dr. Owens's eyes, but it's Elsie McCormick who opens the tale
growing awareness that she's fighting for her life.
How did she
end up in
this condition, and will she survive?
When Stars Align considers love, destiny,
and fate as Elsie reviews
her life and the only man she's ever loved, Auggie ("Gus").
reflection is complimented by the first-person observations of Dr.
Owens as he treats her and, against all odds, falls back in love,
having dedicated his life to medicine.
have quit trying to bring the dead to life. Not Gus. As soon as he
he is treating, he fights against all odds—and seemingly wins.
this is just
the first step in a battle not only to save her life, but to return to
they once had: "In an earlier
chapter of my life—during a time when I was happy and actually liked
Jane Doe had been my other half, the only girl I’d ever loved, my
evident from the start that Gus remains fond of this woman, which lends
determination to save her: "No one
in the trauma bay knew this woman as I once had. No one knew that her
pure and kind in spite of having experienced way too much sadness in
Her life could not end this soon and this tragically. She didn’t
deserve to be
a lifeless Jane Doe dying before my eyes. No! She deserved a long,
that was as beautiful as she was."
from this beginning, that the story will revolve around recovery
These are incorporated into a bigger picture of a blossoming
receives an unusual supplemental experience: E.K. McCoy has compiled a When
Stars Align soundtrack, available on Spotify, which is
linked to events in
to set the mood and relive the music that inspired McCoy, helping her
her characters to life. It's as close to a movie as you can get within
written word, and brings alive the story of aligning stars between past
present which allow the star-crossed lovers to carry onward towards the
stories will find much to like about the evolving relationship
Those who believe in destiny, especially, will find When
Stars Align a riveting tale of new connections and
opportunities for transformation.
looking for stories about second chances will find When
Stars Align a compelling tale.
Return to Index
The Ewings Publishing
$20.99 Hardcover/$15.55 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
All Votes Matter pinpoints issues
inherent in the setup of the
American republic and the Electoral College in particular, making a
argument against the College's participation in the voter process. It's
discussion that ideally will become an active part of any high school,
or adult group debating voter rights and politics in modern America,
highly recommended for this purpose.
is neither a politician nor a political scientist. His background is in
instructional design, and his interest lay in gaming before he became
by the electoral process and presidential elections.
studies, and debates grew to become this book, published at a key time
American history, where voters and citizens have come to question
facet of the democratic process.
ideally, should come a thorough knowledge of historical and political
precedents, and that's where All Votes
Matter enters the picture. It offers readers a foundation for
the Electoral College's premise, operations, and involvement in the
analyzes the concept and operations of checks and balances built into a
designed to be fair and reflective of voter rights.
with criticism alone, All Votes Matter
then tackles the subject of how to do better, making a case for EVV
action: "If we want our Electoral College
results to be similar to the popular vote, EVV (Equal Voice Voting)
much better result. Remember, too, that these results can be achieved
the need for a U.S. Constitutional amendment."
As with any
democratic process, debate is the first order of business. All Votes Matter offers plenty of fodder
for discussions, using
charts, graphs, history, and data to back its analysis.
science as well as citizens more engaged in voter rights and change
this alternate voting approach, with its state-by-state enactment
its ability to prove flexible yet strong, an intriguing component of a
solution-based approach to resolving present-day political problems.
democratic rights and social and political issues needs this
Ideally, All Votes Matter won't
repose on a bookshelf, but will assume a more active role in the search
solutions to build a better democracy.
processes are key to preserving liberty itself because, as Spriggs
maintains: "How citizens decide poses a
challenge, especially in our federalist republic, a nation as large as
United States is, inclusive of its diverse ethnicities, religions,
values, or priorities. The process must be transparent as it adheres to
principles put forth in the U.S. Constitution. The voting steps we take
fair, equal, inclusive, and engaging. We must do the best we can to
Return to Index
Formula-Free Creative Writing Explorations for Secondary ELA Classes
Alexandrite Publishing, LLC
Website: Alexandrite Publishing
Artfulness: Formula-Free Creative Writing
Explorations for Secondary
ELA Classes is a study in the finer art of writing which
into the writing mix for secondary ELA teachers who are tired of using
usual formula approaches to writing.
concept of 'Writing Wednesdays', providing teachers with lesson plans
target key ELA skills while building student attraction to the writing
already too aware of the formula-driven focus on writing and ELA
which challenges not only students, but instructors. Those leaders who
approach writing and reading in a different way receive 20 lesson plans
are flexible and can be adapted to a range of classrooms and student
down into quarters, with each quarter reflecting a writing goal.
supporting these efforts are clearly explained: "This
activity highlights to students the clear connection between
visual and written art through a common concept—color. Color Your World challenges students
to develop their abstract
thinking skills by requiring them to consider how best to convey a
color without literally employing that color in their narrative. What
created by a particular color or color combination? How can mood evolve
the pairing and progression of the (metaphoric) incorporation of
into a narrative?"
are designed to build upon the initial foundations of success,
routines for helping students build and expand vocabulary lists and
anticipatory activities that build impetus for expression through
Writer's Notebooks and different approaches to adding to them.
Artfulness creates a series of lessons so
inspiring and lively that
instructors may wonder why formula approaches ever became the standard
the fundamentals of effective writing and reading.
The focus on
activities that lend to both group and individual pursuit, which return
'lively' and 'compelling' into the task of teaching writing and
for a top recommendation for secondary ELA teachers who want to achieve
goals in a different, more effective manner.
educators who would take a step in a different direction to enhance the
learning experience for their students and the teaching process for
will find Artfulness: Formula-Free
Creative Writing Explorations for Secondary ELA Classes
strategies for success. Each has been tested in the real world and
found to be
a concrete route to engagement and learning.
Return to Index
9780578299082 $9.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Insomnia is a
widespread problem, and shelves of books about the subject have already
written. What sets Stephen Altschuler's Beating
Insomnia: A No-Nonsense Way to Natural
Sleep apart from
most is its
review of why most sleep advice doesn't work, and the methods which
powerful chemotherapy, which saved
his life but exacted many tolls—among them, the inability to sleep. The
cookie-cutter approach of many doctors towards fostering elusive sleep
help. In fact, they made matters worse.
Timing is everything; but
nowhere is that adage more
effective than in sleep patterns. Body clocks vary, body chemistry
this is why 'one size fits all' approaches to insomnia are more likely
expand the problem than solve it. And that's the ticket to success in Beating
Insomnia, which presents a self-help program of identifying
with one's natural rhythms instead of a singular approach.
avenues towards reaching the goal of better sleep that are involved in
process. Some may be surprising to readers that anticipate nighttime
wind-down routines alone.
the move to improve overall life quality: "To
shift attention away from sleep difficulties, you must find something
life to look forward to waking up to—a purpose that is enjoyable, that
your creative juices, that literally consumes you with interest and
you find so interesting that it can distract you from obsessing upon
It seems counterproductive
to get all fired up about an
effort to sleep, but Altschuler maintains that this and other
approaches all contribute to better sleep by improving the quality of
nighttime, but daytime routines.
He defines "natural sleep"
without prescription medications or over the counter sleep aids," and
attends to routines and measures which also are not too addictive or
As self-help readers and
insomniacs pursue the many tips
to creating a more restful, sleep-inducing environment, from outfitting
with blackout curtains and making sure it's cool to adopting a regular
that encourages sleep, they will find it easy to adjust these tips to
their own lifestyles and approaches. And yet, the basics of these
allow for understanding the fundamental influences on reaching the goal
natural sleep patterns.
Reading Beating Insomnia
is like pressing the
"reset" button. It allows readers to better understand the roots of
their individual problem and pattern disruptions, and to adopt the
processes which mitigate sleep-reducing influences and patterns. It
identify and address anticipatory fears and many other underlying
factors that interfere with sleep patterns. It is best used by the
insomniac who would consider and revise perceptions not just of sleep,
new approaches to self-health and beating insomnia will find Beating Insomnia filled with examples
gleaned from Altschuler's own experiences as well as a host of
solutions any insomniac can readily employ to address their own
its readers fall and stay asleep. Its author's experiences offer
keys to identifying common pitfalls and overcoming them, making Beating Insomnia a highly recommended
choice above many competing sleep aids.
Return to Index
Cinnabar Moth Publishing LLC
978-1-953971-50-0 $31.99 Hardcover/$4.99 Kindle
The Cannibal's Guide to Fasting is a
literary horror/humor work
that titillates the mind with a juxtaposition of serious (potentially
triggering) topics such as murder, addiction, and violence, then turns
subjects on end for a refreshingly original inspection.
Igor is a
scary-looking man who breaks rules because nobody has the courage to
him. These can be as simple as not picking flowers in a park: "He carries an old-fashioned woven
basket, which is filled with bluebells, daisies, and a few shy violets
managed to find hiding behind a rotten stump. He picks wildflowers
It is zen as fuck."
As if his
weren't enough to warn people away, he's also been infected with Pestis
Manducans (viral cannibalism), and just can't help a human nibble once
in a while,
even if it is already dead.
He's not all
fact, he eschews mosquitoes not because of their bite and pain, but
dreads the possibility he can spread his condition: "Infecting
another person is his worst nightmare."
His life in
Containment Center nullifies his threat on many levels, but the same is
true for also-contaminated brother Karl, who resides outside the Center
fosters rebellion to the government's 'solution' via a cannibal rights
that stirs up trouble.
apparently have other possibilities, as Esteban Zappa reveals through
issues, eccentric science, and Igor's innate tendency to do good
physical urge to eat humans evolves, readers receive a delightful
that considers the nature of good and evil and the circumstances which
encourage one or the other choice.
it's not a
choice. Sometimes it's an urge that cannot be resisted.
choose The Cannibal's Guide to Fasting
find it difficult to define or put down.
good intentions gone awry, puzzling codes and the unexpected characters
(or can't) solve them, and the specter of vengeance only Igor can
rollicking good story is packed with both action and thought-provoking
tempered by ironic inspection.
is a story
that should attract literature readers, fans of horror and satire, and
readers looking for a fast-paced saga of flesh eaters gone awry and on
The Cannibal's Guide to Fasting will
find it can appeal to a wide circle of readers looking for something
Book club discussion groups receive plenty of fodder for lively
about cannibalism, good intentions gone awry, and eerie atmospheres
problem-solving to a new level by mixing horror with social inspection.
Return to Index
Common Deer Press
9781988761718 $15.95 Paper/$9.95 Kindle
Faded Glimpses of Time focuses on the
aftermath of a time-travel
adventure with something different than most timeslip novels offer.
2059, where Wren Derecho has succeeded in burying a dangerous orb in
has she? The threatening orb actually still looms, making her
success an illusion and forcing her to reconsider her actions, choices,
approach to saving her world.
complicated by the fact that things have been altered in her own
requiring Wren to acknowledge that time is not back on the right
has taken a wrong turn for the worst.
challenge for her to face a world that is not in flux and changing, but
has changed in many ways while she was away.
a dangerous enemy who wields high-tech threats (in the form of Cyril
Elton-Blackwood), and circumstances which indicate that far more may be
involved than the single orb's powers.
Wren is the
who can enter time and make alterations, but as this second volume of
Tempus Trilogy shows, time machines, orbs, and altered reality indicate
fixing the future is a complex endeavor, indeed.
haunt her: "You can’t fight me. . .I won’t leave you. .
this moment for eternity. . .you are nothing without me!"
Even more haunting to her and her friends is
the idea that she may never return to her familiar reality. And it's
fault: “I messed things up, and you can’t fix it this time.
You can’t fix
realizations of her role in her altered future, Nyah Nichol provides
additional, unusual plot developments which range from Wren's
enhanced form after an accident to her guardian Rob's inability to help
this time. Rob is also the security director at a top-secret government
organization named DAIR (Department of Advanced Innovation and
'Terminus Terra' begins, it seems that the one person who could again
difference is stymied by forces beyond her control or ken.
fast-paced story by injecting thriller elements into the usual
tale. This provides a compelling additional flavor that will attract
adult to adult fans of timeslip fiction with elements of discovery and
confrontation that take many satisfying twists and turns.
guaranteed or predictable in this story, which gives it even more
special interests become the focus of a bigger picture, prior fans and
newcomers alike will find the story thoroughly absorbing, powered by a
futuristic scenario and characters that grow in different directions
their familiar worlds change.
suspense stories for young adult to adult audiences which go beyond the
timeslip focus of getting back home will find Faded
Glimpses of Time a winner.
Return to Index
Following Your North Star
978-1-63988-376-9 $16.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook
books that incorporate a spiritual flavor into their mix will find Following
Your North Star a fine synthesis
of both. It teaches self-improvement routines on a bigger backdrop than
competing titles attempt in either the self-help or spiritual genres.
envisioned herself a novelist, but each time she sat down to write,
would emerge. The motivation and purpose of her writing talents soon
crystallized: "It soon became
apparent that I wasn’t being called to write a book that helped people
their lives, but to write one that helped them transform their lives
something abundantly extraordinary! God had a message to download to me
would only get still long enough to receive it. I soon began to realize
the message was not just for me but for others, too, who have allowed
busyness of life to overwhelm them. It was a message for such a time as this when the world
seems to be a scary place, and people have forgotten how to interact
another...How do we find our way to lives of peace and joy in the midst
the negativity and learn to hear from God when life is too noisy? Most importantly, how can
we begin to live
authentically if we don’t have clarity about what that even looks like?"
uncovered in her heart during the process of writing this guide will
resonate with readers who feel buffeted with the winds of change,
and adversity, yet feel powerless to change or address them.
valuable purpose of this book is to add 'empowerment' back into the
better understanding and making more powerful choices.
striking moments of revelation throughout as she considers other lives
their impacts: "...every spiritual
leader from Jesus to Mohammed was never too busy to attend to the needs
others, and they took time for themselves and their own spiritual
miracles happened in the margins, in those spaces in between where they
and where they were trying to be. Consider that when we write, type, or
picture, we leave space along the edges of the page or the picture.
margin, in contrast to the rest of the page or canvas, serves as a
makes it more beautiful. This concept applies to our lives as well.
refuse to live right up to the edge of our lives—when we learn not to
over-commit ourselves—we are free to respond to the possibilities that
We’re better able to pivot should the need arise, and our lives become
fuller, and more abundant because of it."
on a way out of negativity, depression, inaction, and powerlessness,
is embedded with Biblical references that Christian readers will find
Donice is no
Her voice comes from experiences with others from all walks of life and
candidly reviews both successes and failures, remarking on the
come with them to provide additional upward-bound understanding: "This man would often tell me that he
didn’t want to have a relationship with me. He saw me only as something
for his pleasure, and he couldn’t understand why that arrangement
enough for me. It surprised me that there were women who were willing
him to use and discard them. It soon became obvious to me that some of
very little self-worth. They seemed to be willing to settle for a piece
man without understanding that they deserved a committed partner who
completely present. Even in the midst of the pain this man caused me, I
that I had value, even if he couldn’t see it."
is a life
guide firmly rooted in Christian beliefs and self improvement options
a synthesis that promises enlightenment and new realizations will want
include Following Your North Star
on their bookshelves, but ideally it won't be limited to individual
Christian study groups and women's
faith-based self-help book clubs will find Following Your
worthy of group review because it cultivates a lively, involving tone
revealing strategies women can easily adopt into their own spiritual
psychological growth processes.
Return to Index
Theory: How to
Build an Online Sales Machine
Fables and Facts
979-8-9859946-0-5 $19.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Funnel Theory: How to Build an Online Sales Machine
comes from the
CEO of Sonic Funnels who maintains that traditional sales websites are
while promoting the better idea of funnels as online vehicles driving
just new methods of delivery, but new mindsets. That's where Funnel Theory shines, with its contrast
between past and present approaches and how to enter and make the most
of a new
automates not just the ordering and delivering, but the marketing
itself. The book opens with a practical, yet startling assessment: "The money spent on website development
rarely translates into actual revenue and real customers buying your
product." It then identifies common obstacles to sales which,
ironically, tend to lie in the website form and presentation itself ("We all have a short attention span,
especially online. Your customers have become accustomed to scrolling
clicking away. They’ve also become less patient. If they don’t see what
want at a glance, they’ll look elsewhere. A complicated website
a giant cognitive load on visitors because it gives them too many
moves into identifying the alternative (a sales funnel), demonstrating
can promote rather than thwart online sales activity, providing
customers an easy way to buy that embraces both impulse and
buzzwords here that are worth memorizing, from "tripwires" to
"referral marketing." Each receives in-depth coverage as Kendell
moves through the sales funnel concepts that can drive better customer
experience, motivating them to not just buy, but refer others to a
"...the real key to getting your customers’ support
is to give
them a great product and a greater customer experience. Unless your
worthy, all your marketing efforts won't matter."
designed to cover all the usually-untapped potentials of an online
Real-world examples and an attention to detail come with discussions of
audience targeting for improved results from social media and other
interconnected sites; choosing, assessing, and cultivating promotional
and professional affiliates; and understanding what is involved in
what it takes to build a better brand and promotion and delivery
for a book that should be on the shelf of any business library—and in
of discussion group leaders interested in building better online
Return to Index
The Gray Bird of Baghdad
Stephen Phillip Monteiro
978-1684631513 $17.95 paperback/$8.99 ebook
Author Website: stephenphillipmonteiro.com
Gray Bird of
Baghdad: An Ex-Secret Service Agent‘s Desperate Mission to Save an
Scientist offers a true story that reads with the drama of
represents a powerful memoir whose experiences are gained from
The events described here
took place over an eight-year
period, from 2001-2008, in Iraq, Syria, New York City, Virginia,
Washington, DC. The
these events to enhance the story, creating a powerful "you are here"
feel as the opening salvo of the Iraq War is brought to life in the
paragraphs: "For a moment Thamer
Imran cursed himself—he could have sent his family north to Erbil where
safer. But no, he really couldn’t have. Splitting up the family wasn’t
option. If death was coming, they would die together. Earlier that day,
wee hours of March 20, 2003, Thamer Abdul Rahman Imran woke to the
blasting sounds of his country, his city, his home under attack. It was
first day of the Iraq War."
Ex–Secret Service agent
Steve Monteiro and his team were
on a mission to locate missing Iraqi Microbiologist Thamer Abdul Rahman
who may have important information about a planned biological attack on
Surprisingly, they find
themselves also battling Washington
bureaucracy, which seems to throw up barriers to success and has an
the mission's failure.
As Monteiro and his team
fight to locate Thamer and
understand his role in the affairs and future of two nations, readers
a gripping journey that brings the sights, smells, and politics of the
The points of view and
observations shift between
third-person descriptions of Thamer and the first-person reflections of
Monteiro, together bringing the story and major players to life.
Readers interested in
memoirs, personal interest stories
and stories of overcoming great odds as well as those interested in
chemical and biological warfare histories and possibilities will find
story reads like a thriller, but is made all the more compelling for
roots in real events and intrigue.
Those who would better
understand the politics and
processes of the times and libraries strong in Middle East and Iraqi
and culture will find The Gray Bird of
Baghdad a powerful story that's hard to put down. It holds
revelations that correct historical presumption and presents equally
reflections on the future of Iraq and its position in the world.
The insights on chemical and
biological warfare also will
interest military readers who look for historical analysis and
inspections of the social and political forces at work in events of the
Return to Index
How the West
War to Ukraine
To say that How
the West Brought War to Ukraine provides
a controversial, thought-provoking study
is to identify only part of its attraction and scholarship. The meat of
revelations and realizations lies in an astute probe of the roots of
Ukraine crisis which places the onus on Western actions and political
much as Putin's moves from Moscow.
Readers may not want to consider uncomfortable points that vie with popular Western media representations of Ukrainian political strife—but these are points that need to be debated, understood, and considered by anyone interested in more than a cursory examination of the history that has led to the current conflict.
Western policies, choices,
and perspectives play as much
a part in Moscow's instigation of war as Putin's military
doesn't just make this point: he proves it through assessments of U.S.
strategic decisions and actions that repeatedly placed Russia in an
increasingly untenable position.
by Abelow's effort is that it will require the reader to keep an open
reconsider a war that has to date been pinned entirely on
actions said to
be Hitler-like and intent on world domination. There's more to this
that added layer of value is provided here, in a survey that picks
façades and the lies to expose uncomfortable truths.
others have done: he gets into the mind of strategic military thinking
analyze the concerns of Moscow in response to a series of chess-like
placed Russia at a perceived disadvantage.
He writes: "Russia had been deeply concerned that
new U.S. missiles, placed close to its borders, could increase the
in a crisis, the United States might believe it could carry out a
first strike, decapitating Russian command and control systems and
Russia’s ability to retaliate. When coordinated with even a partially
ABM network, intermediate-range weapons thus stimulate Russian concerns
the United States would no longer be deterred. These fears are not
paranoia. As two members of the German Council on Foreign Relations
Deveraux explained, these missiles 'could threaten Moscow’s command
and limit Russia’s military ability to act.' Russia thus had much to
saving the intermediate-range missile treaty. But the United States
to demonstrate how noose-tightening measures also narrowed the
responses Russia could make to assure its own survival and military
history from world-wide events to Ukraine in particular as he strives
analysis of why Putin felt the time was ripe to act: "Although
it is impossible to know the specific motivations that led Mr.
Putin to invade Ukraine, a combination of factors was likely at play:
ongoing arming, training to NATO standards, and integration of the
structures of Ukraine, the United States, and other Western powers
non-NATO arrangements; (2) the ongoing threat that Ukraine would be
NATO; and (3) concern about possible new intermediate-range missile
deployments, exacerbated by a concern that the U.S. might deploy Aegis,
offensive-capable ABM launchers in Ukraine regardless whether Ukraine
a member of NATO."
particularly adept at clearly identifying and separating speculation
"Regarding this last point, it is possible, given
progressive military coordination between the United States and
Mr. Putin felt the window to prevent the deployment of
launchers in Ukraine was closing and that, if he were to obviate that
he would have to act now. This is all speculative, but it is plausible
consistent with previously stated Russian concerns. But regardless of
specifically led to the invasion, it is clear that the threat of new
deployments added another cup of sand to a sand castle that was already
the point of collapse."
rarely make for acclaimed reading; but in this case, any thinking
would better understand the myriad of influences on the Ukraine
to read this book. To avoid these truths is to buy into a simplistic
makes accusations and media images more important than actual
results set in reality.
Ideally, How the West Brought War to Ukraine will
serve as debate material, sparking discussions not just about Ukraine,
about Western special interests and actions in the world, and how
results arise from strategic decision-making that backs individuals and
Return to Index
$20.00 Hardcover/$13.25 Paper/$3.50 Kindle
Mexican Rhapsody: Having a Second Chance
is at once a travelogue
and a biography, and deserves a place on either shelf as it follows
move from native Japan to Mexico.
spiritual revelations flow in this story as Onoe reveals what he loves
Mexico, what he hates about his country of origin, and the revelations
marked his journey between them.
novel approach injects drama into the adventure, which incorporates
cross-cultural observations in a manner few travelogues, memoirs, or
match: "You know, we’re very open.
We don’t care where you hail from, for we know in our hearts that we’re
brothers. We welcome everyone who wants to enjoy what our fatherland
But alas, goddamn Japanese have discriminated against us in the right
faces. I still don’t fathom and will never be okay with such a godawful
realization that Onoe has always loved writing, feeling that it is his
to his foray into being a prankster, his obsession with
his ribald enjoyment of life, Mexican
Rhapsody's adventures translate to a thirst for not just the
but new experiences and growth.
provides readers with a hearty blend of entertainment and revelation as
philosophy, adventure, travel, cross-cultural experiences, and
beliefs dovetail and evolve into the odyssey of the author's lifetime.
Mexican Rhapsody turns the traditional
travelogue on end as it
incorporates all these facets into a lively survey of relationships and
surprised at its description as a 'novel' despite its reality-driven
this serves to reflect Onoe's ability to represent the drama and
inherent in everyday experiences and interconnected lives.
pieces of different genres to incorporate their strongest qualities
into a story
of discovery, change, and faith.
biographical novel of exploration and enlightenment that lingers in the
long after reading, and deserves a place in libraries strong in
and faith-based revelations alike.
Return to Index
Dancing Corgi Press
978-1943654239 $19.95 Paper/$6.99 Kindle
Moon Dragon Falling is the genre-busting
Book 2 of the Dragon
Shadows series and picks up the story of Lisette de Lille, who is now
and looking forward to marriage in the aftermath of a battle.
book will recall that she is now a moon dragon, but she faces ongoing
challenges from this transformation and her uncertainty about how to
new abilities. The learning curve isn't easy, especially when she's
and recovering from the events in Blood
her love Tristan has fallen victim to a potion that has made him forget
and her child. She must win him all over again—and apparently re-fight
too-familiar battle—to win back control over her life, future, and the
her unborn child, the result of two blood dragons' union.
fantasy would seem to make Moon Dragon
Falling appropriate for the fantasy genre reader. But, wait:
is that a
pirate injected into the story? And, how can Lisette embark on an
save her love and herself if she can turn from dragon back to a
human being at any given moment?
confrontations, and unusual milieu coalesce, readers will find Moon Dragon Falling a powerful saga
whose characterization and setting continually place it outside any pat
action of a thriller, the fantasy elements of a dragon dilemma, and the
romantic concerns of a new mother-to-be who must battle herself and the
around her bereft of her life's love, the story is designed to attract
readers as well as fantasy genre followers and fans of a rollicking
kidnapping plans to firebrand Lisette's determination to once again
forces that threaten her happiness and world, GS Carline has created
compelling story that could stand alone, but more readily adds another
to the tale that prior fans will relish.
strong examples of action-centered books that feature powerful female
protagonists on the cusp of many changes will find Moon
Dragon Falling recommendable to patrons who look for
non-formula writing that steps out of its own definition as a 'fantasy'
reach out to and immerse other audiences.
Return to Index
Readings & Devotionals, Volume 3
C.M.H. Koenig (compiler)
C.M.H. Koenig Books (through IngramSpark)
Ordering: New Testament Readings & Devotionals: Volume 3 by C.M.H. Koenig, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®
predecessors, the third volume of New
Testament Readings & Devotionals represents an
opportunity to better
absorb, understand, and study the New Testament with an eye to
and discussing God and Christianity.
of thinkers Robert Hawker, Charles H. Spurgeon, and Octavius Winslow,
juxtaposing their reflective writings with Biblical passages and
designed to both enlighten readers and lead them to think deeper about
passages and their contemporary meaning.
Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1& 2 Timothy, and
from the New Testament offer reflections from AD 50/60 up to
times warnings, creating insights which range from historical settings
background information to analytical and critical explorations that
particularly well to group discussion and Bible study.
extensive) provide further cross-references to relevant Biblical
expand and augment the three writers' insights, allowing Biblical study
the food for thought and cross-referenced passages necessary to better
understand the Bible's wording, concepts, and presentation.
As in the
in compiler C.M.H. Koenig's growing reference library, this offers
students a unique opportunity to pair the reflections of three
thinkers to the basic tenants of the Bible.
The focus on
works in this manner translates to an effective method of applying
Biblical events and concepts to contemporary life and thinking, making New Testament Readings & Devotionals
another rich tool in the Christian thinker's arsenal of spiritual
Return to Index
Strategic Harmony Books
BOSS! The Real
Truth about Working Independently: 12 Lessons from 30 Years of Bossing
Around should be on the reading lists of any entrepreneur and
those of any
age who are contemplating self-employment. It focuses on the creation,
and potential successes and failures of the one-person business
addressing these from the vantage point of one who has learned from
decades of experience.
There is perhaps no better
time for this book to appear.
With the advent of the COVID pandemic and the business changes it's
more people than ever are contemplating or venturing into
circles. If only one book on the subject were to be consulted, it
should be NO BOSS!, because it goes
others venture as Steven Cristol considers the pros, cons, and special
challenges involved in becoming one's own boss.
While the planning of this
book began shortly before
COVID, its many relevant lessons expanded and will reach beyond the
years. Key among them are considerations of what it really means to
home, handle the isolation and loneliness that comes from independent
and the nature of working independently rather than in a group
With these considerations,
Cristol really shines, because
his approach goes beyond the usual self-employment account to examine
psychological challenges that come with independence and self-driven
What does it really mean to
be your own boss?
Self-employment may not be the type of freedom anticipated by those who
initially view such a venture as being replete with flexibility and
Essential to such
self-examination is the willingness to
self-analyze expectations and needs. Cristol helps readers understand
their basic psychological inclinations translate to in the business
world: "...control-freak fear can often also
be related to both perceived and real cost. In Lesson 1 I warned that
boss (you) might be even stingier than your old boss. Let’s take a
at how this dynamic plays out in failure to delegate when appropriate."
Equally astute are
discussions of objectivity, the
author's own Strategic Harmony intellectual property, and the effects
business ideals, serial rejections, and fundamental flaws in pursuing
the mystique and glory away from the idea of self-employment. It
real-world issues, psychological self-barriers to success, and the
business dilemmas which commonly arise to change or quash dreams.
The result is a solid survey
of expectations for success
or failure which gathers the stories of others on the same road,
value of real-world insights that can help would-be entrepreneurs
understand not just their dreams, but their hearts.
Serious business or
economics libraries should consider NO BOSS!
The Real Truth about Working Independently:
12 Lessons from 30 Years of Bossing Myself Around an
acquisition. It deserves not just recommendation, but to be an active
business and entrepreneur book clubs and discussion groups.
Return to Index
Rock Gods & Messy
Whole Healthy Group LLC
979-8-9862823-2-9 $14.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Rock Gods & Messy Monsters is
both a gory experimental piece
and a powerful illustration of dreams that move into the arena of
surprisingly, is a story of empowerment, placing the onus on creating
dreams on their maker's perceptions of the world.
Set in the
revolving around the entertainment industry, Rock
Gods & Messy Monsters opens with a messy job
description: "The blood didn't bother Alex
cleaning it up made her angry."
escape, but rampant unemployment makes her one of the lucky ones.
Because certain aspects of this alternate world belay any thoughts of
fortune: "Alex put her backpack on the floor
unzipped the side of her head. She reached in and pulled out her brain,
the throbbing gray matter in the customized, faux crystal cerebrum urn
Records had supplied her with her first day at the company. She had
procedure at first, refused to sign the Cerebrum Extraction Release
with times being as hard as they were, and with the knowledge that she
over six months unemployed before being offered this job, Alex knew she
successfully appreciating this story is the reader's ability to move
through gory descriptions and scenarios. Another is an appreciation of
satire and parody which is embedded in descriptions of Alex's working
world: "The shock brought her to her feet.
Langley had embedded neurological electric shock chips in Alex's body
first started working for him, so with the push of a button, he could
attention anywhere in the building. The second jolt ripped through
ankles and nearly toppled her. If she didn't carry out her duty
would start shocking her all over."
dark humor permeates the story as its characters evolve: "I
was just admiring your gold and platinum record
collection," said Bret Horowitz, e.l., as he pointed to the wall.
"Nice to see so many of them are my clients." With lightning speed,
Horowitz reached into his inside pocket and pulled out his box of
rapidly throwing on his proud, fatherly smile. He held out his hairy
literary devices of humor, ironic social inspections, and atmospheric
psychological descriptions also lend to Rock
Gods & Messy Monsters's consideration as a sterling
example of modern
absurdist observation and writing. A host of rollicking, crazy
permeate a story replete with cultural observations of the
literary work that holds the ability to reach into many reader circles
powerful tale of mutant sea creatures, alternative music, and the
money and power interests into a profitable milieu which changes art
economics equally powerfully.
writing classes looking for discussion points in experimental literary
will find Rock Gods & Messy Monsters
promises many lively debates about the elements of social examination
impact of truly creative writing.
Return to Index
979-8840745304 $12.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
The Sparkzgott Anthology is a
metaphysical, philosophical, and
social inspection that comes from an unusual point of view: a
child that considers, in slices of "zime time," the facets of what
makes us human.
takes the form of short vignettes of couples around the world who are
process of creating life via their couplings, perspectives, and
impulses. Sparkzgott is defined as
at the instant of ignition—of union." What precedes this spark and the
recognitions that accompany it are the subject of a wide-ranging set of
examinations designed to titillate, educate, and spark reflections
usual literary format.
who look for stories that are not quite religious, not quite
not entirely cultural examinations, but which embrace elements of all
more, will find The Sparkzgott Anthology
a journey that is thought-provoking, while book clubs, especially, will
debate many of its presentations.
anthology which features writings from various contributors, the sole
contributor to this is author T.D. Holt and the narrator he creates to
the foundations of humanity itself.
can be said to reflect the essence of Sparkzgott under consideration
here: "What takes place during this
combination—exactly at the time of fusion—is the substance of this
void of time within which I
become “I am.” Spark and
zygote? Sparkzgott: the
briefest burst of time, yet infinite in significance."
As the time
countdowns evolve, readers can expect works steeped in diverse human
cultural experiences and perspectives. While each couple is united by
spark they cultivate in their relationship, they also are affected by
cultural milieu which births them and that impulse to embrace "risk, adventure, and reward."
a series of touchstones which both explain and explore Sparkzgott, the
and inconsistencies of human thought and action, and the motivating
which lead up to the creation of another thinking human.
sound intellectual and thought-provoking, they only reflect the special
of The Sparkzgott Anthology. It's
of those collections which holds as great a potential as the ethereal
narrates these inspections of life and creation, but also challenges
religious and philosophical ways that belay most traditional thoughts
"Zime time" in these series of countdowns offers another potential
for discussion, revelation, and realization. Each takes on a different
perspective and challenge while uniting with the other "slices" in
the anthology to contribute to an overall perspective about what makes
In the end, The Sparkzgott Anthology proves
mercurial, thoroughly absorbing, and nearly impossible to put down.
social, spiritual, and philosophical reflections are especially
readers who harbor a special interest in literary works of social
who would use The Sparkzgott Anthology
as a touch point for lively debate and discussion about all the
make humanity distinctive.
Return to Index
$39.99 print/$29.99 ebook/$160.00 library binding
and entrepreneurs who look for ways to stand out in the crowd will find
Strategic Creativity: A Business
to Advertising, Branding, and Design the key to creating ad and design concepts
and campaigns that work.
think that business school training would have embraced these paths,
Robin Landa points out, creativity is often lost in the nuts and bolts
and figures. This lends not just to dull, repetitive marketing
a mercurial vision of what makes one's product or service unique.
guiding vision of 'why' and a creative approach to representing and
this message, businesses blend in and too often fall short, mired in a
to effectively communicate what makes their endeavor unique and
realizing, embracing, and cultivating the uniqueness of each business
Chapters in Strategic
Creativity are steeped in marketing, design, and
designed to promote and support not just the special selling points of
business operation, but how to creatively and compellingly represent
"Building a Culture for Results," for one example. The nuts and bolts
of what compels people to share, cross-promote, and embrace a given
and its message offers particularly relevant opportunities for business
managers who seek to design and promote a brand's story. It all begins
listening to feedback and potential customer needs, desires, and
highlighted messages synthesize the examples and lessons gleaned from
real-world experiences: "If
the core purpose and strategic rationale
is authentic, collaboration can be a powerful tool."
Strategic creativity is
built into every admonition in
this book, whether it is graphic design or copywriting. The pros, cons,
tips for avoiding common problems are also outlined: "Co-opting
pop culture is often one of the best ways for a brand
to experience a real earned media moment that can get more attention
traditional media or a whole original creative concept. But if it comes
as borrowed interest or opportunistic, it can backfire."
synthesizes real-world experiences and examples with admonitions on how
integrate creative problem-solving with strategic positioning methods
embrace and represent a brand's uniqueness.
entrepreneurs in different professions, and anyone who would better
the link between business success and creative strategic positioning
must add Strategic Creativity: A
Business Field Guide
to Advertising, Branding, and Design to their reading lists.
it a key addition, but ideally Strategic
will gain wider attention in classrooms and reading
groups, where budding entrepreneurs and seasoned professionals alike
the book's specific, important focus.
Return to Index
Ricky Arenson, MD
New Insights Press
979-8-9860163-1-3 $14.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook
include the question 'why', but it makes a statement that holds a
its subtitle: Women
Are Superior to Men: The REAL Secret to a Fantastic
Marriage, Joyful Parenting & Better Sex!
fulfilled in a lively, delightfully surprising manner that advises
readers to survive their relationships, marital distress, and the
War III" scenario caused by introducing children into the mix.
humor supplements solid tips and advice on building better
means that the self-help reader who resists outright admonitions will
concepts of Women Are Superior
to Men infinitely
digestible thanks to their humorous overtones, which eschew the typical
tone of a self-help treatise in favor of a more whimsical approach.
Readers receive candid
advice based on the author's
studies and personal experience, which led him to a basic premise: "Writing this book became my chance to
explore this captivating debate about who really is superior — men or
And after about a year of thinking and researching, my conclusion is
hands down, women are superior to men. I am proclaiming this based on
pieces of scientific evidence I’ve collected, my personal experiences at
work, and as a man
married to a woman far superior to me."
As he explores this concept
as it enacts in the bedroom,
in society, and in the home, readers will enjoy a romp through
to life that juxtapose whimsical wit with truly thought-provoking
about the nature and incarnation of relationships.
The advice outlines the
differences between men and women
in many different circumstances: "Experiment
with something new. When your partner arrives home from work, ambush
the bedroom — but remember, timing is everything! If my wife came home
long evening shift in the Emergency Department and found me lying naked
waiting for her, the only “rolling pin” in action would be the one my
fetched from the kitchen to smack me on the head with. On the other
hand, if I
arrived home late after a long shift and found my wife waiting in bed
naked . .
. well, let’s just say that naked women don’t grow on trees (or all men
take up gardening)."
As he highlights gender
differences in a manner that is
enlightening and humorous, Dr. Arenson
makes accessible and understandable the actions and reactions of both
begun as an emphasis of women's superiority, but it ultimately
both sexes can interact more positively and effectively.
Are Superior to Menan absorbing, revealing, and
downright fun to
Return to Index
You Are Your Healer
Sri Devi Press
$18.95 Paper/$7.99 ebook/$24.95 Hardcover
You Are Your
Healer: The Ultimate Guide to Heal Your
Past, Transform Your Life & Awaken to Your True Self points out that one key to changing one's
experience of the present is letting go of the past. This is a goal
contemplate and much harder to achieve.
focuses on this process, providing insights on healing emotional and
wounds to experience a better present and future life. It draws
connections between one's divine nature and self-knowledge, making a
spiritual seekers to realize the former through self-awareness, while
dissolving codependent patterns that limit or block one's access to
see discussions of codependent patterns and the power dynamics of ego
in a book
that essentially is spiritual in its nature and goals. Swan's approach
synthesizes the best of self-help psychology and spiritual objectives
strengthen both aspects, showing how this particular process is key to
achieving the goal of spiritual freedom.
this process and presents The Swan Method to heal the past, readers can
through the exercises and meditations confident that the end result
will be an
ultimate, lasting embrace of life as a reflection of one's true Self or
rare to see a self-help spiritual lesson plan embrace such broader
the pitfalls of enlightenment, which include falling into the trap of
a self-serving guru or falling prey to one and identifying the power
which dominate relationships as a result of the egoism and spiritual
inherent in the ego-mind.
between psychological and spiritual inspection entwines both into a
more understandable, goal-oriented reflection that offers much food for
only thought, but, ideally, discussion: "Owing to the egoism
spiritual ignorance of the ego-mind, however, you expect people to
according to your needs, while everyone else is trying to figure out
life-movie and expecting you to behave according to their needs as
sets the typical power dynamics that dominate most relationships, in
subtle ways. If you perceive yourself and engage with the world through
sense of otherness, you will seek love and validation through other
rather than recognizing that you are the love you have been looking
From various meditation exercises and how to
assure their success to deliberations of individuality and
Swan at times delves into philosophical as well as spiritual and
realms. No matter the topic, Swan provides insights geared towards a
understanding of onesself and one's place in physical and spiritual
alike: "You identify with your mind, which is a collection of
impressions and memories, and with your body, the vehicle through which
memories are experienced and expressed. Since your life emerges when
of Consciousness is projected onto your mind, and your experience is
through the sensory perception of your subtle and causal bodies, it is
that your experience of reality is a mental projection of the past. But
also a portal into your subconscious offering ongoing opportunities for
awareness and healing, so that you may leave the past behind, where it
and be fully present, anchored in the moment."
The result is much more than a game plan for
healing. It's an in-depth journey through life's meaning, intention,
that moves beyond drawing connections between these facets to encourage
guide readers on the concepts of self-healing growth, self-awareness,
ultimately, nonduality or Oneness.
Libraries strong in spiritual guides will be
the logical target audience for You
Are Your Healer, but
ideally will reach psychology self-help collections to become a bigger
reading and discussion by book groups, spiritual classes, and seekers
for concrete examples of how to choose more enlightened paths.
Return to Index
Asha and Baz
Mary Sherman Morgan
Common Deer Press
9781988761671 $7.99 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
Asha and Baz Meet Mary Sherman Morgan
will reach kindergarten to
Grade 3 readers with a biography that can be read aloud for lower
independently consulted by youngsters able to absorb a 97-page chapter
Asha and Baz
friends tasked with a science project: to launch a paper rocket. The
Rocket Challenge is also a competition, with the prize for the winner
meetup with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
How can two
who know little about the science of rockets combine forces to win?
the competition and bounce ideas off one another, black and white
Dharmali Patel illustrate the process of tackling a project that
cooperation, savvy, and research from its young participants.
creates a multifaceted problem-solving adventure where the kids learn
competition range from space race insights (“Why
does it have to be a race?” Asha asked. “Because the winner of a
race is the best. And we want to be the best,” said Roger.")
dilemma faced by Mary Sherman Morgan when her Hydyne design is not
her efforts, giving the fame for her achievement to someone else.
As the kids
this 1957 world and its politics and women's issues, readers receive a
inspection of scientific and social issues that will help adults enter
discussions based on the time-traveling adventure presented here.
Asha and Baz Meet Mary Sherman Morgan's
engaging, engrossing story
is rooted in science, but explores far more than theory alone. Its
action-packed scenes and encounters are highly recommended for leisure
as well as students of women's biography and science, introducing
topics of teamwork, achievement, and women's rights that will lend to
discussions and debates.
Return to Index
What would you give to be beautiful?
Ten-year-old Becky has her perceptions of beauty—and they don't include
That's why she wishes for something
different on her birthday: the type of beauty that turns heads.
As advanced elementary-grade readers absorb
these eight short stories about Becky Chalmers, they will be called
think about their own definitions of beauty and how these can change
Diane Campbell Green introduces a discussion
of the subject for readers of a much younger age than the usual
audience. But, Becky Chalmers Beautified isn't
about physical, outward
As Becky investigates cosmetics and other
approaches to enhancing her outward beauty, she receives lessons in
help her understand what the real goal is: to appeal to herself rather
just to others.
Becky does more than contemplate. As she
interacts with psychiatrist Mr. O-Angel, her family, and her friends,
receives gentle lessons about the elements which make her royalty in
mind as well as in the eyes of others.
Green cultivates a soft, appealing
atmosphere in these lessons, using interpersonal interactions and
to introduce these life-changing moments of realization.
Life revolves around more than beauty. Becky
learns about adaptation, as well; from a challenging new move to
to a return to Yardley and being able to perceive when others around
As lessons about faith, kindness, and
friendship unfold, young readers receive a compelling story about
ideally will be discussed in reading groups and with adult assistance
sure the book's valuable messages are completely understood.
The result is an excitingly original probe
into everyday life, growth, and perception of self and others that
the story of Becky's desires to change and takes transformation and
self-improvement to new levels of understanding for elementary grade
Libraries and parents seeking materials that
lend to young reader enlightenment about emotional and physical beauty
Becky Chalmers Beautified provides the rare
opportunity to better
understand the world and one's place in it.
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The Beyond the Hostile Sky Cycle Part 0:
After the Breaking
Karen J. Laakko
Hostile Sky Cycle Part 0: After the Breaking
will delight young adult and teen readers with its especially creative
blend of sci-fi, puzzle, and cyclic organization, which is deftly
explained in the author's opening notes: "...it will start
very important events (Part 0), reset itself (Part 1), and then slowly
This prepares readers for the recurring turn
of events that keeps them on their toes and prepared for interlinks,
especially important to attend to close inspection of the unfolding
lest they come full circle with further expansion.
The fallen realm of Vilse resides in the
desolate far reaches of this world, which portends a similar fate to
explorers who stumble upon it and seek to learn the truth about what
The 'Part 0' which this cycle opens with
actually takes place after the reset button on life has been hit, in a
age that divided the world and those who looked over it, both moral and
From the very start, Karen J. Laakko creates
an evocative blend of observation and connection that draws readers
new observers, participants, and adventurers in this realm: "This
have been a wondrous realm once, but now it looked like some immense
had chewed it up, spat it out, and then set fire to it. And yet, as
stood near the top of the mountain trail and gazed on the dimly lit
devastation, she could not help but feel a sense of relief, even of
nostalgia: the wave of emotions experienced by one who has finally
home after a long time. Those, she knew, were extremely dangerous
The emotion-driven responses to these discoveries
are embedded in the story, lending it a power gained from strong
characterization and events that range from discoveries and
the world to personal challenges, such as Keraunia's failure to take a
among the warriors, and the tragedy that befell her parents.
At this point, it should be noted that a
wide cast of characters, special interests, history and discovery
its young adult readers an attention not just to detail, but to names
phrases that have Greek roots. This adds a level of complexity that
satisfy older YA audiences, but may belay some of the attraction for
readers. However, it also serves to extend the interest level of this
YA-oriented fantasy into adult circles.
As Laakko weaves her story of magic
and growth, readers absorb the dilemmas of immense power, clashing
different forms of magic which not just command the involvement in, but
challenge the belief systems of different characters.
As new and old earth mages face misfortune
and the impact of poor decisions based on flawed realities, readers
immersed in the fast-paced and well-drawn tension of a wide range of
The result is a complex YA read that is
recommended for mature teens, adults, and those who look for
stories spread across different worlds and (likely) future books in the
As a study defining cyclic plots and their
evolutionary process, ideally The Beyond the Hostile Sky
Cycle Part 0: After
the Breaking will also attract and be utilized in creative
and sci-fi reader groups as an especially strong example of how genre
boundaries can be broken to expand their potential audience reach
usual formula genre reader.
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The Brooch: A Magic Within
Sandeep Kumar Mishra
979-8842684960 $9.99 Paper/$1.99 Kindle
Read-aloud parents and picture book readers
alike will find The Brooch: A Magic Within the
perfect item of choice
for an adventure that pairs well with lessons about good deeds and
Adults can use this story to open
discussions about concepts such as paying it forward and helping those
while kids will appreciate the touch of magic involved in this
about cultivating kindness and compassion in the world.
Inspired by author Sandeep Kumar Mishra's
daughter's request for such a tale, The Brooch tells
of a child's
generosity and a stranger's unexpected reward.
The story is simple but powerful. At times,
its language creates some confusion. A final polish could help smooth
passages which inject some degree of grammatical confusion, but the
this story lies in its illustrations of how to foster good in the world.
Paired with very colorful illustrations that
bring the tale home, The Brooch provides concrete examples of the ripple of
generosity that begins with a boy and a brooch and moves into the world
magic changes hands.
Read-aloud adults who use this picture book
story as a starting point for illustrating the personal power of
choice and action will find the diverse examples of all ages involved
brooch's magic to be thought-provoking.
Its fine lesson of positivity in the world
will best be employed via interactions between adults and the young,
discussions which will augment the story's important messages and
Return to Index
of Krampus: Secrets in the Ice
aren't typical holiday reading, but Devin Arloski's The
Christmas Curse of Krampus: Secrets in the Ice continues his
tradition of providing a holiday story with a twist for children who
more than the usual Christmas themes.
A year has
since Max's original involvement in a Christmas curse, and the holidays
once again fast approaching as December 4th opens the story.
that warns "I found them" could be from Santa, portending another
adventure that draws Max and his father even as they are still settling
from last year's Christmas explosion.
between Max and his father, and he hates to rock that boat. He's also
to keep these past events secret from even his best friend Mina. It's
she'll be open to the possibility that Santa is real, much less the
adjustments in his relationships for the sake of undertaking a new
finds himself once again immersed in a Christmas mystery that sends him
icy world where Krampusnacht is threatened by his involvements.
Inuit mythology and a host of creepy creatures coalesce to make this
far different experience than the usual holiday read.
dad and Mina, the truth, Max finds himself on a new adventure with his
friend that even threatens the wise leader Santa.
While The Christmas Curse of Krampus: Secrets in
the Ice needs no prior familiarity with its predecessor in
order to prove
thoroughly engrossing to newcomers, those who have read the first book
in a better position to appreciate the protagonist and plot's
through middle grade readers will find the adventure satisfying, the
interpersonal relationships and conundrums realistic and involving, and
holiday overlay a cut above the traditional seasonal read.
fast-paced as the important adults in Max's life join in to rescue him
winning story that turns the usual holiday theme on end with an
adventure backed by Santa and, this time, reaching out to involve Max's
and friends in unusual ways.
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Thomas M. Ellis with Lily Coyle
Beaver's Pond Press
is a children's picture book about death and dying, presenting the
aftermath of a lonely child who wants to talk with Enzo about all kinds
experiences, but feels lost and alone.
first-person revelations offer candid discussion points that
read-aloud parents will want to pursue with their kids ("I
wish I was
where Enzo is and Enzo could be here.").
explorations of all who grieve the loss of Enzo is another facet
that sets this picture book story of death apart from others on the
hate it the most when Dad cries. Dad hates it
the most when I cry. I hate this. Dad hates this. We hate this."
wisdom and reflections about life and what he's observed are
threads that augment the grief experienced and expressed by the young
storm of emotions is revealed as the youngster processes his
sibling's demise: "I got so mad today I ripped up all of
because Enzo wasn’t there. Then I felt bad and
taped them together
because Enzo isn’t here."
with evocative and beautiful, colorful landscapes by illustrator
Brian Schmidt, Thomas M. Ellis and Lily Coyle's Enzo Isn't
simply gorgeous. It's a fitting adjunct to other stories about death
very young, created in a format and presented in a manner that
discussion of different reactions to death.
parents will find it stands head and shoulders above similar
books, while libraries will find Enzo Isn't There
deserves not just a
prominent place, but display and discussion in any collection catering
groups for all ages tackling the subject of death, loss
and dying will find Enzo Isn't There simple, yet
for pinpointing feelings surrounding loss and dying, offering excellent
Return to Index
in the Night
M. M. Mesldorf
Star Toaster, LLC & SBA Books
FastFight 540: Bump in the Night is Book
1 of the FastFlight 540
fantasy adventure series for middle grade readers and older. It
especially fast pace and compelling atmosphere designed to bring even
reluctant reader into the world of leisure reading for pleasure.
Sullivan is a
miserable orphan. Anslie Dawn
switches places with him to
give him a break and finds herself protecting her secret identity as an
boy when she is sent to an ancient orphanage, Nocturnan.
There, she finds
herself involved in some dangerous games.
M.M. Mesldorf opens the story with
compelling intrigue and action that draws attention immediately: “I’ll find him! And when I do, I’ll wring
his scrawny little neck like a chicken for Sunday dinner!” Headmaster
muttered as he passed the closet door. Anslie, who had never tasted
Sunday dinner or any other meal, edged backward deeper into the corner
dark closet. She stepped on Tucker’s foot. Hard. She clapped her hand
mouth to keep him quiet."
As Anslie faces the formidable Mr. Strickman
at Nocturnam and receives a lecture about the looseness of Whippoorwill
comparison to her new quasi-prison, she is drawn into the mystery of
Garden, makes a new friend in Xander, and finds herself feeling oddly
and connected to life, at last.
Armed with a new purpose, new friendships,
and a new perspective, Anslie's journey, which includes a meeting with
the night, is replete with humor and growth.
Mesldorf creates a vivid tale that excels in
nonstop action and twists of plot to keep events unpredictable and
mystery and feel of the classic children's book Tom's
Midnight Garden, but adds a contemporary flavor of adventure
that will attract modern readers looking for a fantasy replete with
The secret identity Anslie assumes forces
her into some unusual situations, such as cheering for herself as a
escaped her prior circumstances when her new posse of friends reviews
situation and admires the escapee's spunk.
The ironies added to the intrigue make for
many humor-driven moments as Anslie becomes privy to information about
Shadow Wars and those who fight them.
Black and white illustrations by Rebecca
Lemoine are peppered throughout and add further attraction and insight
story. Armed with these visuals, young readers will find the tale
to life in a manner that creates a 'can't-put-it-down' read.
uplifting, inviting story of evolving friendships, loss, and battles,
within and in the world.
nature of this fantasy allows young readers to become thoroughly
Anslie's secrets and revelations, creating a story that is especially
and highly recommended for advanced elementary grades and older.
who look for vigorous fantasies firmly rooted in not just action, but
protagonists whose insights form magnetic attractions to a wide age
find FastFight 540: Bump in the Night
a unique and commendable choice.
Return to Index
A Feast for
$17.99 Hardcover/$8.99 paper/$3.99 Kindle
Picture book readers
ages 4-8 will find A
Feast for Pleasant Beasts
a delight. It assembles a winning cast of
characters who gather for a July picnic, from a cook in a cave to
troll, who is often the first to get an invitation for the annual woods
presents the story in a series of chatty
descriptions of characters and fantasy settings that even read-aloud
will find whimsical and fun: "So, do
be on the lookout next time you take a stroll. She’s often to be found
the riverside catching fish to share with her chums. Cuthbert always
the pufferfish pizza, but there’s banana and piranha pie if that’s more
receive engaging, full-color, large illustrations by Andy Catling, who
the nuances and delightful creations J.T. Bird fosters in the lively
for something quite marvelous" as Cuthbert's culinary delights
to a day peppered with pleasant beasts and action. The boy is a
master of picnics" and everyone has fun (even though they are all quite
from each another).
original ballads, and a glorious feast spice a read that promises not
many nights of exploration by young and older readers alike.
Adults looking for a
fun bedtime read filled with delight will find A Feast for Pleasant Beasts whimsically entertaining and a cut above
most bedtime picture book choices. It features an underlying message:
creatures diverse in age and appearance can join together to create an
exceptional experience and friendships.
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Footprints Across the Planet
978-1478876045 $17.95 Hardcover/$8.95 Paper
Every footprint in the world leaves its
mark. What kind of footprint will you make? Young readers who choose Footprints
Across the Planet for its ecological message and bright,
receive a story filled with vivid color photos and answers to the
one's personal impact on the world.
These answers take the form of close-up
examples of all kinds of animal feet, paired with lovely close-up shots
creatures (including humans) making them.
Jennifer Swanson's simple, enlightening
words are just as vivid as the photos: "Footprints come in
and sizes, colors and species. Some are large and deep, strong and
Others are small and shallow, barely leaving any imprint at all ...
also as diverse as the people on the planet."
The lovely visuals, including slices and cutaways of mountains, people, and animals, reinforce the observations with a particularly powerful hand to representing the interconnectivity of world environments and creatures.
The result begins small, with the notion of a single footprint's impact, but expands into a blossoming story showing how each individual can make a big difference.
The picture book concludes with biographical
sketches of humans who successfully changed the world through their
More so than most books about intention,
personal impact, choice, and consequences, Footprints Across
presents a powerful display that will reach a wide age group (including
with a strong message of empowerment and positivity.
If only one children's book were to be
chosen on these topics, Footprints Across the Planet
should be at the
very top of such a list. Its opportunities for not only personal
but discussion between youths and adults who read along are boundless,
the enthusiasm with which it is written and the obvious care taken to
only the most powerful striking imagery to highlight its important
Libraries and individuals who choose Footprints
Across the Planet will find it rich in thought-provoking
rich rewards for the effort of imbibing.
Return to Index
Mona R. Semerau
Young adult fiction readers
who seek evocative stories of
life and death quests will find Forces
is just the ticket for thoroughly engrossing reading.
Thorn is a scribe who
translates oral puzzles into
written revelations. Drawn to problem-solving and questions which give
into the nature of the universe, Thorn is more likely to see logic and
opportunity in magic than mysticism and mysterious forces.
an unusual countenance because the adventures within flow from Thorn's
adopting an unusual flowing font to represent the writings Thorn
creates as she
moves through her world.
The language is evocative
and captures a sense of place
as much as a sense of purpose in this wintery world: "A great
separated the trees and drove the snow sweeping wet upon them, nothing
seen, and night’s obscurity had returned. They could only guess, and
listen. Perhaps this one had turned aside, then suddenly was sweeping
--- a bare shadow, a muffled sound, a single rider whose mount had been
his head to take the road as he would, the rider bent low peering
into the storm."
Thorn conveys news to those around her,
describing the changing world and her new realizations about it, young
readers will be drawn into the language and descriptions Thorn chooses
illustrate and interpret her adventures and revelations: "Very
here, way west of here, --- Thorn began, but before you come to the
the Western Sea, as you know there are many smaller kingdoms and
powers who are constantly at war. Nonetheless, one must maintain
so i was with a party that was caught in the aftermath of some skirmish
was lost, save my life alone. hoo! do not ask me the details of that
afternoon, for the thought of it fills me with dismay and makes me
no no! do not ask ---
Were there bears?
Were there --- oh, bears? yes! bears! many bears!
lots of bears. bears, bears, and bears! so many bears!"
written and verbal dialogues spark an especially evocative sense of
capturing the realizations Thorn encounters in the course of her
creates an exploration of differences, surprises, magic, and other
blossom under Thorn's pen and eyes.
"emerged drunken seeming from a tarry blackness" to events that shift Thorn in her sense of
place and interpretations of the world, readers receive a lively,
thought-provoking novel that takes an unusual approach to dragons,
The result is more demanding in its
intellectual and worldview inspections than most adventure fantasies
adults, but rewards the reading effort with a far livelier sense of
the usual genre production.
Libraries and teachers seeking something compellingly and satisfyingly different that illustrates the diverse ways in which a magical quest can come to life will find Forces a powerful example of original literary writing and the power of the pen in altering worldviews and political milieus alike.Forces
Return to Index
and the Quest of
Crimson Dragon Publishing
$22.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Iora and the Quest of Five reaches middle
grade to high school
readers of fantasy with its story of Iora, who is attacked by a strange
creature in a well and comes to realize that her missing father is in a
only she can perceive.
She sets out
personal quest to the enchanted Wacky Wilderness to search for him,
encountering strange denizens which at times aid her and, at other
hinder her goals.
As if the
a missing father weren't enough, Iora finds herself drawn into a bigger
and a mission to save not just her father, but the jungle world itself.
of this story lies not just in its action and adventure (which abound),
its underlying ecological message about the importance of environmental
preservation and the environment's connections to human health and
the fantasy quest story to its greatest advantage to bring these
life, exploring the animals and humans of the rainforest. Mystic
and forces blend with special interests on both sides, expanding Iora's
focus on her personal dilemma into world-saving issues.
and animals appear, speak, and demonstrate equal abilities and concerns
is buffeted by the winds of adversity and a desire to preserve what she
of her world.
readers able to
absorb not just a powerful fantasy adventure story but its underlying
of relationships and bigger-picture thinking will find Iora
and the Quest of Five a compelling story, while libraries and
teachers will want to choose and feature it for its exploration of real
that exist under its fantasy overlay.
Return to Index
Superhero Bowling Rescue
Sheri Poe-Pape, Publisher
9798402873964 $11.95 Paper/$17.99 Hardcover
To play a
bowling is Koala Ballerina's "happiest dream." She is a "frisky,
strong joey" able to leave other bowlers "in total awe" of her
strengths and abilities despite the fact that she wears a dancer's tutu
tiara to her bowling game.
rollicking rhyme covering Koala Ballerina's latest exploit is
whimsical and colorful illustrations by Nejla Shojaie, the story
unfolds to become
more than about ballet, bowling, or sports abilities.
also about pride, "acting childlike" with enthusiasm over personal
achievements, and stepping up to help friends like poor Wilfrid Wombat
contrast to the powerful achiever Koala, is inept and has problems
the attention of a bully in the neighboring lane, it's up to Koala to
her spunk, courage, and determination in more than just achieving
explores the complex subjects of ADHD and life interactions in a way
picture book readers can readily understand.
foundation first with Koala's successful strengths and abilities, then
contrasting these with Wilfrid's experiences in and view of his world,
understanding is promoted through a story that adult participants can
explain not just ADHD, but bullying and different ways of approaching
Ballerina assumes her alter-ego after perceiving Wilfrid is in trouble,
gain insights into what they, too, could do when they see bullying and
peers who act differently.
beyond rescue, delving into creating bridges of understanding that
use to show the young how to foster cooperation in their own young
By using the
a proactive, strong female who figures out how to not just be a
help educate those around her, the story moves beyond an action
attempts to delve into the bigger picture of emotional barriers to
and understanding how to address them.
looking for picture books that feature strong female characters,
with vivid color drawings and the familiar superhero concept, then take
next step into linking these attractors to better life choices and true
will find Koala Ballerina's Superhero
Bowling Rescue a winner.
Return to Index
of Black Jack
A. R. Witham
978-0578354361 $16.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Young adult horror
story readers who enjoy tales steeped in Nordic mythology will find The
Legend of Black Jack
compelling tale that operates as a fantasy, a horror story, and a wry
Jack Swift never expected
he'd be kidnapped into another
realm and charged with saving a life. He's anything but adventurous and
neither medical ability nor, seemingly, the courage to step out of his
become a legend in someone else's mythology.
Life has a way of exacting
changes and a toll for them,
because Jack finds himself in a situation filled with action and the
unexpected. A fantasy twist leads him to be kidnapped on his 14th
transported by a monstrous rhino into another realm, Keymark.
As he steps
shoes of the legend of Black Jack (a being that walks between worlds,
gods, beats the devil, and heals a thousand people in a day), Jack
himself tasked with not just believing in the impossible, but believing
pepper the story as Jack walks through this world and fulfills his
ways he never could have imagined.
epic encounters with monsters in a world he quickly grows to love, they
find much to like about the growth process and realizations that Jack
These may mirror many underlying questions about their own lives.
and a sense of growing belief in Jack's own powers to epic battles with
samurais and dark forces, teens receive plenty of action couched with
self-discovery as Jack moves through Keymark and its traitors,
His rite of
is not without violent confrontations. Their descriptive prowess is
revelations that spring from sword and mind alike.
Legend of Black
Jack's fast-paced action
encounters will keep teens reading, while its higher-level thinking
young adults to consider the facets that make for legendary examples of
fast-paced leisure fantasy as steeped in myths and legends as it is in
coming-of-age saga of a boy just beginning to understand his strengths.
Libraries looking for
compelling, epic fantasy will find The Legend of Black Jack's action
and adventure particularly potent and engrossing.
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The Mango Family: Thinking
Fineness World Inc.
979-8-9859292-0-1 $24.99 Hardcover/$18.99 ebook
Picture book readers and
adults who choose The Mango Family: Thinking
for read-aloud will find these short stories provide plenty of food for
and fodder for discussion about positivity and how to foster it in
This adventure takes place
in Fruitiville, located within
the country of Nourish on the virtual Achievements Island. It focuses
cultivating gratitude, acknowledging achievement, and developing
solutions to problems.
Exceptionally bright cartoon
panels of the fruit family
will prove both accessible and highly attractive to adults and their
listeners, incorporating such insights as "we can become whatever we
like" and "we must celebrate all our victories."
Mango Family bows
to past precedent by showing how these opportunities evolved for the
generation, but also presents short stories that embrace contemporary
such as dealing with a tattletale, understanding lessons in
underlie adult approaches to teaching children, and empowering children
need money by showing how they can earn it in various ways.
Each lesson incorporates
strategies for life that offer
opportunities for bigger picture thinking, all couched in the
entertainment value of the Mango Family's interactions.
Adults won't anticipate the
contemporary issues such as
school shootings which are incorporated into the mix of lessons, but
fine strength of The Mango Family:
Thinking Differently lies in its focus on examples that kids
are likely to
encounter in their everyday lives (which unfortunately include
Sometimes the character
expressions on the lovely
illustrations don't seem to match the situations under discussion. Character facial
expressions aside, The Mango Family: Thinking
excels in its emotional lessons on not just coping with life, but
from a more positive perspective of empowerment, change, and emotional
Read-aloud adults looking
for inviting discussion material
that promotes attitude changes and revised views of life will find The Mango Family: Thinking Differently a
fine tool for introducing these concepts to the very young, fostering
overall feel of positivity about the world.
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Common Deer Press
978-1988761732 $12.95 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
The Math Kids: A Knotty Problem is the
seventh book in the Math
Kids series, offering young readers ages 9-12 a new dilemma that
math problem-solving with other kinds of relationship and life issues.
finds that her favorite interests are on a collision course as her
tournament falls on the same date as the district math competition.
leave Math Kids?
only change in the Math Kids' lives, as other members of the club face
that divide them and threaten their friendships and club connections.
to near-war between the former friends to dilemmas that invite each kid
up with new problem-solving and social skills, The
Math Kids: A Knotty Problem reviews evolving relationships
dilemmas that threaten team efforts.
insights on these changing friendships and the conflict which begins
scheduling issue and then blossoms to other problems.
the other books in this series will find this focus on life changes and
that test friendships to be engrossing and realistic, while newcomers
appreciate the connections between math and real-world problem-solving:
“It’s important to really understand what it
is we’re trying to solve. The question didn’t ask what the odd numbers
even numbers added up to, just which one was bigger and by how much.”
“And that’s what we figured out,” Stephanie said.
“We got there, but did we do it the easiest way?” Justin asked.
enlightening connection between math and daily living which educates
entertains on different levels, from solving relationship problems to
outside the box of a singular math problem to consider the process of
understanding life changes and challenges.
popularity with the prior Math Kids adventures, as well as newcomers
for vivid fictional stories embedded with math problem-solving
find The Math Kids: A Knotty Problem
a fine tale that educates as it entertains.
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9781667838724 $9.99 Kindle
Miracle Times Two is a lovely rhyming picture book story that
follows a mother's
reflections about her twin boys. Designed for read-aloud and sharing,
of a young woman and her pop who wander the world and have adventures.
vibrant lives, there is a gap in her heart: two places that await
gaps are filled by twins, and the mother finds her world and
changed by a different experience that portends just as much wonder and
story of a
mother's love for her children and her satisfaction in building a home
with that love makes for an engaging read that parents will want to
its celebratory tone.
between the young mother's prior life and her new family circle is very
done, portraying the rich values of both in a manner that young picture
readers and read-aloud adults will both relish.
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Babylon: Book 2 in Babylon Twins Series
Michael Ferris Gibson and Imani Josey
Girl Friday Books
978-1954854710 $16.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Book 2 of the Babylon Twins
series, set in a
post-apocalyptic world ruled by machines, presents thirteen-year-old
who guards the old city of San Francisco and has survived thanks to
psychic connection with her deceased twin and to being a member of
Chimera, which made her into a biomechanical robot able to survive the
The story opens with her
birth into a strange new
condition, which happened after she met a scientist. As Josephine and
readers piece together the events which have made her into a
'unit', the story is steeped in personality and purpose which lends it
Even more complex is the
fact that there is more than one
Josephine in this strange new world, and the task of protecting her
city is not
a single-handed venture. The seventh incarnation of Josephine has lost
in this story. In order to preserve her sense of self and purpose, she
re-access her secret language in order to fight a language virus that
what remains of the world.
Young adult and adult
readers who choose Queen of Babylon
will find its powerful,
character-based experiences drive a futuristic story which also is
mystery, discovery, and confrontations.
Readers will be surprised to
learn that the urban culture
of Oakland, California is alive and well in this futuristic scenario. Michael Ferris Gibson and Imani Josey steep
their story in a solid sense of place that will especially delight and
readers familiar with the San Francisco Bay Area.
spiritual ceremonies that allow Josephine to pass between worlds to the
remains of the world she once knew (which is inhabited by Aunt Connie,
of 'frenemies', and others who both aid and impede her journey),
find Queen of
refreshingly original, unpredictable, and unique in its dystopian
portrait of a
bleak future in which machine minds meld with the human psyche.
Gibson and Josey inject just
the right blend of intrigue,
hard-science, and social and ethical examinations into their story of
unusual band of survivors whose interrelated selves are tasked with a
beyond their combined experience.
Is Josephine truly alone?
Will she fail her mission to
protect the world?
Young adults who choose Queen of Babylon as either a stand-alone
read or an expansion of
the first book will find the layers of psychological insights,
futuristic spiritual and social conundrums to be completely enthralling.
Libraries looking for sci-fi
that is a cut above most,
and which demands a level of intellect from its young adult readers,
them with emotional connections, will find Queen
of Babylon a fine acquisition.
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Gracefully Global Group
$26.99 Hardcover/$16.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook
interested in aviation and bilingual Spanish/English books featuring
involved in the industry will find Taking
Flight With Captain Mama an inviting look at the job of
incorporates many aviation terms which are defined in a glossary in the
the book, from boom operator and flight deck to crew chiefs. Other
as egress and navigation, are included to assure young readers and
the read-aloud story thoroughly understand the routines involved in
Air Force aircraft.
inviting mixed-media color drawings that capture this experience,
the feel of being on a jet and the excitement of a class field trip
from the anticipated observation to a surprise experience.
Tiscareño-Sato provides an engaging aviation story of military
basic flight that covers aerial refueling, Nighthawk jets, flying in
weather, and more. It's a tale inspired by her decade of active-duty
this unusual aircraft.
The "you are
there" feel is heightened by action-packed experiences, aircraft
communications and explanations, and discussions of military deployment
help the young narrator better understand his mother's service, duties,
special role she holds as a Captain on a military aircrew.
stealth fighter jet educate kids about different types of military
while the adventure component keeps children both involved and educated.
important and unique survey of women, including Latinas, in aviation
military service that showcases several womens' important work,
other women who have earned command and aeronautical positions in our
facets, and the
bilingual approach of the story, make for an outstanding opportunity to
more about women in service and in active military roles, making Taking Flight With Captain Mama the
perfect picture book of choice for assignments during Hispanic Heritage
Veterans Day, Women's History Month, and general-interest reading
delivery, and action-oriented story are compellingly presented and
in the picture book world.
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Tell, or the Adventures in
Oslo & Bangs Publishing
978-2-9569463-3-5 $12.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Adventures in Themiddle presents kids ages 8-12 with the
first book in a
trilogy about William Teller ("Tell"), who is expelled from Theffects School for Troubled Boys and
returns home to an empty house and a goodbye letter from his father.
another of his father's jokes, until representatives from the local
show up, forcing him to flee his home to preserve his freedom. He runs
into a changing world of trouble, instead, where imaginative figures
mind become too real and threaten the world.
This is not
figment of Tell's imagination. Others, too, encounter the strange
spill from his mind: "...by the time
he entered the house and followed her up the stairs, there was no need
for there was no way of explaining what he then saw: a monster in the
the room. Now some people swear it was a black bear and others say it
an elephant, so huge the beast was, but all who’ve heard this nonsense
that the creature had no business being in that little boy’s room."
blends with whimsical encounters with creatures and equally compelling
that draws readers with an action-driven flavor: "Tell
opened his mouth to reply, when suddenly Thebackspacer
lunged at Stu, who dropped his mallet and dove out of the way. The
crushed the cart he was pushing with its stocky footless leg as Herman
others ran for cover. Taking their cue, Tell ran after them. As he
tunnel, he keeled over, trying to
catch his breath. His heart beat in his throat."
alien world created in part by his own mind, he encounters a host of
characters. Kids will find their names unusual and delightfully quirky
("Weekday," "Thepeacekeeper," "Weekend"), while
humor permeates many of the encounters to keep young readers laughing
thinking as the adventure unfolds.
aftereffects of a place where belief isn't tolerated and powerful
only change the world, but send its king on the run, he also confronts
legacy and the truth about his missing father.
coming-of-age adventure story with fantasy and philosophical roots,
with humor and action, then add a host of zany character names for the
feel of Tell,
or the Adventures in Themiddle,
which is particularly adept at cementing the absurd with the
Children's libraries looking for fantasies and action stories that operate outside of the usual genre definitions will find Tell, or the Adventures in Themiddle a winner.Tell, or the Adventures in Themiddle
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