September 2018 Review Issue
Patrick K. Jaynes PhD and Darlien C. Breeze
Double Dragon eBooks
ASIN: B07GBFNHDB $5.99
Beware of Redemption is Book Two in the
Beware series, and blends
sci-fi with political thriller elements to create a fast-paced story.
Book One was
by this reviewer, and the authors do urge readers to partake of the
series; but an excellent prologue sums up the background explored in
book and sets the stage nicely for events in Beware
of Redemption, which swirl around aliens operating secretly
on Earth, the first contact situation humanity faces, and the responses
political leaders around the world to these unusual alien visitors.
It should be
that Beware of Redemption holds a
series of subplots, investigations, intrigue, and plots among nations
lends a feel to the story somewhat between James Bond, Indiana Jones,
Sherlock Holmes. Action is nicely woven into the story and reveals
and plots, creating a winding account with astute insights into special
interests, processes of adaptation, and the changes knowledge brings to
involved: "According to Peter,
Ionlin comes off as logical and fairly non-violent. If he’s correct,
group living among us for all these years has adopted some of our
“Stuart followed her thought line. “People certainly socialize in such
manner. Peaceful people, exposed to enough violence, certainly can
justice and prejudice against aliens to the disconnect between
perceptions, purposes, and government special interests, Beware
of Redemption offers a complex set of insights not for the
faint-hearted or quick leisure reader, but for those who like their
well-detailed, intriguing, multifaceted, and filled with food for
titles don't link well to one another, or are really one book
divided. Beware of Redemption
newcomers to begin at the beginning with the prior book's details, then
provides a solid continuation.
revealing, Beware of Redemption
engross and enlighten with intriguing considerations of the
dangers Earth faces.
appreciate elements of romance, political action, and investigative
woven into their storylines will appreciate the many paths Beware of Redemption takes in the course
of presenting a
thought-provoking story of a president's connections with alien special
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Chronicles: Blood Moon
978-0692622100 $12.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Chroma Crossing Chronicles: Blood Moon is
the perfect example of
fantasy writing at its best. It's also a love story juxtaposing
and their whimsies with the life of Candy, a city girl who inherits a
Savannah that comes complete with promises for her artistic endeavors
barriers from the stepmother and disturbed son who reside in that house.
the story, readers come to realize this is not about love, games and
The Gods, or even blossoming sexual adventure (although all these
included as part of the plot). It's about a young woman whose
changes the course of her life and allows her to tap unrealized
and create a new life in a historic city she doesn't really understand.
ways, Blood Moon defies genre
Is it a romance? It doesn't feature the usual approach to love and the
laser focus a romance story alone provides. A fantasy? There are
historical backdrops set in the real world that defy the often-singular
on fantastic elements in a standard fantasy read. A tale of intrigue
survival? Certainly all these elements are part of the whole; but to
any one and say that this is the overriding power of the story would be
to do a
disservice to a multifaceted read which keeps reads involved,
happily challenged by a myriad of subplots and characters.
Blood Moon is anything but formula
writing, and the very things
that makes its nature elusive is the strength that sets it apart from
fantasy, romance, or other genre productions.
As the plot
and expands, readers will note that the points of view change, as well.
nicely delineated by chapter headings which keep readers from becoming
perspectives juxtapose with changing events.
It should be
that language and sexual descriptions are often graphic; but always in
with the plot's evolution. Readers who avoid such explicit descriptions
likely look elsewhere; but they'll be missing a special story whose
lies as much in its artistic vision as in its explorations of changing
relationships and their impact on the world.
as a fantasy/romance but in actuality supersedes either description and
actually defies formula categorization. Suffice it to say that readers
romance, intrigue, and women's fiction who enjoy artistic explorations,
descriptions of sometimes-disturbing personalities, and the backdrop of
colorless world splashed with one woman's colorful passion will find
like in the complex Blood Moon. It
excels in many surprising twists and turns as Candy and Thorne face
flaws, weaknesses, dreams, and a danger that ventures into paranormal
final caution: Blood Moon concludes
with a light cliff-hanger, inviting readers to look for more books down
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A World in Turmoil
Six Factors Publishing, LLC
978-1976911583 $2.99 Kindle/$12.89 Paper
Ordering links: https://www.amazon.com/Foundry-Dianis-World-Turmoil/dp/1976911583/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531873263&sr=8-1&keywords=the+foundry+frank+dravis
The Foundry launches a new series that
centers on cultural
anthropologist Chief Inspector Achelous Forushen and his
struggle with the
galaxy-wide mining conglomerate Nordarken Mining, which would plumb the
of the primitive world Dianis. Originally charged with
world, Forushen is reassigned far away under suspicious circumstances
finds his loyalties and mission sorely tested.
characters list at the story's beginning is ample warning that The Foundry's world and people are
complicated and many. Readers anticipating either a political or
sci-fi tale with clear boundaries and simple events will soon discover
crafts a complex scenario that builds not just a world, but a universe.
In much the
Lois McMaster Bujold, Frank Dravis creates
that is multifaceted, sweeping, and complicated. Readers of Bujold are
audience likely to appreciate the unusually well-detailed approach that
for a sociologist and an anthropologist's perspective of peoples,
events as well as evolving political issues of citizen rights,
processes, and plots to exploit other worlds.
purposes of these different characters and groups fold nicely into an
saga that embraces not just greed but efforts to subjugate and control
belief systems, and high-tech investigative processes.
various characters are closely examined ("The
whole escapade demonstrates two things. First, any determined corsair
resources can breach and elude the surveillance system. With the right
equipment, intel, and planning they could do it virtually undetected.
need to do is search long and hard enough, and they will find the
holes. If we
leave Dianis, dismantle the thin solar surveillance network, the planet
wide open to exploitation."), while a desperate investigation
search to uncover the truth blends nicely into issues of genocide and
especially astute in revealing that the people caught between various
have their own lives and perspectives that differ from those battling
their behalf and against each other. Strong characterization and
probes of motives and approaches to managing worlds create the feel of
investigative piece combined with an epic world-changing perspective.
on a man who leads a double life makes for a thrillingly complicated
worth all the hours that will undoubtedly be put into understanding its
subplots and perspectives.
like their worlds complex will relish the many thought-provoking
makes The Foundry a standout in the
genre of epic, galaxy-building stories.
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A Printer’s Choice
W. L. Patenaude
Izzard Ink Publishing
Softback: 978-1-64228-006-7 $22.95
Hardback: 978-1-64228-007-4 $27.95
eBook: 978-1-64228-005-0 $ 7.99
Printer’s Choice is sci-fi set in
2088, when the first
homicide of an ordinary laborer in space leads parish priest Father
Francis McClellan (also a retired US Marine Corps expert) to
puzzling murder involving "high-defs" (artificially intelligent
three-dimensional printers that built this new world).
There are many unexpected features and
moments in this complex, absorbing blend of detective piece and
examination of faith and technology. One of its most notable strengths
its multifaceted settings (both on Earth and in space) and detailed
of political and social turmoil against which murder plays only one
part in a
larger puzzle. Equally strong are its detailed discussions of the
of faith, morality, and ethical behaviors in an artificially
Military programming, revenge, and church
influences on transformative processes are just a few of the subplots
through a story line that's especially potent in its inclusion of
character insights: "As I grow older,” Zhèng
continued, “and as every day I see the results of people’s choices and
failures—most especially my own, as you know—and as I deal with so much
suffering in a world that was to have outlawed suffering, I’m more
the answers we seek do not come from any of us—not our actions or our
or our technologies. It comes from something greater. Otherwise it
exist at all.”
reflective pieces juxtapose church and political elements in a
original manner that bring to life the world and characters who move
Printer’s Choice. There are just
enough connections to present-day situations to feel familiar; but
futuristic trappings to come across as unique.
From powerful programmer and reprogrammer
engineers to poor choices, temptations, pride, and an evolving truth
Tanglao had been attempting, who had killed him, and why, A
walks a delicate line between a sci-fi thriller, a detective piece, and
survey of spiritual and moral challenges. All these facets are set
backdrop of a society that has evolved into a world where engineers
recreate society and moral values.
Complex, action-packed and thought-provoking
all at once, A Printer’s Choice is a uniquely
crafted piece that doesn't
handily limit itself to a single genre, but spreads its message and
across a broad spectrum to attract a diverse audience of readers who
sci-fi intricate, original and compelling.
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and Dorian live
in a future where access to the nano-implant and genetic protocol
drawn lines not only between the rich who can afford it and the poor
but the opportunities in life which stem from it. These opportunities
beyond college and work and into relationships.
opportunities, these poor characters do the one thing they can achieve
it: robbing houses, a surprisingly satisfying endeavor that allows them
up for the coveted self-enhancement program and achieve many of their
began as a
dream turns into a nightmare as they realize that their goal is in
hand, but is
sparking a series of changes that revises not only opportunities, but
away and reassess, but he's caught in a deadly trap that seems to lead
his original persona and dreams, and he seems to have no easy way out
ambition that has become an irresolvable dilemma.
been a deeper thinker than his peers, often flummoxing them with
supported by facts: "Here’s the
thing: If the world was working, I would gladly just shut up. But it’s
percent of people own everything, and three quarters of the rest are
distracted by the link and VR to realize or care that they’re being
fucked." His social observations aren't always welcomed ("...they want to be told they can keep
doing exactly what they’re already doing—playing more games and taking
drugs. Everyone knows that something doesn’t feel right, but they’re
entertained to figure out why.” “Saying that won’t motivate them, and
does, it’ll be the destructive kind,” said Chris. “When you start
giving up on
the world, the world starts giving up on you.”), but they are
when he decides to take control of his own future and defy the
promise of Revision, real changes begin to ripple into everything
ways, Sunlight 24 mirrors the
world, between separate opportunities in rich and poor worlds, the
an ever-elusive revised state of mind for some, and the collective
mental preoccupation and obsession. Readers concerned about present-day
structures will find the familiar backdrop in Sunlight
24, and its extrapolation into the future, to be
modern events that makes the story line so vivid, believable, and
thought-provoking, with its anti-hero characters fighting for something
often eludes modern-day democratic societies.
winding nature of Dorian's choice is cemented by strong
interactions through different strata of society, making Sunlight
24 the kind of read that lingers in the mind far after its
conclusion, which revolves around trust, action, and world-changing
not from the top levels of society, but from an activist who hovers
interested in high tech, social and political issues, and individual
will relish the setting and unusual paths Sunlight
24 takes in its vivid journey through a society hell-bent on
itself based on its own visions of what it should be, against all odds
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Love Your Neighbor Publishing
Almost Heaven It Was Not Even Close — A Legacy Of
slice-of-life vignettes about Carroll Green's world and the people in
it in the
unincorporated community of Bishop and beyond from the 1940s to modern
It surveys his early years, Carroll Green's stint in the Marines, his
growth and expansion, and the social, political and psychological
divide, then reunite communities and families.
focus on individual experiences; but few tie them to greater social
issues, and forces as adeptly as Almost
stated in the introductory pages ("Through
it all, I have seen what this country is and is not: The claim to
the failure to achieve it. The promise of opportunity and the bigotry
litters the path to it. The hate and greed that pervade society’s
and the determination to maintain the status quo, ensure an upward
achieve and succeed. It is always good to know from whence one came.
ahead of the line, some at the line, yet others from behind the line.
only after arrival can one measure the distance traveled and progress
attained. Progress by any measure, we trust."), and Green
this blueprint of action in the course of linking his life experiences
events to bigger-picture thinking.
white photos throughout lend visual embellishment as readers follow
journey through Bishop, a community changed by civil rights efforts,
comments on forces of corporate and religious oppression that continue
operate in modern times: "The unsung
heroes — Uncle Buddy, Mr. Colin, Mr. Lambright, Cousins Carl and
village elders and their forefathers — waged intense activism and
diligently to ensure that those of us who came later, would face a
diminished form of white supremacy. To a huge degree they were
learned very early on in our lives, that the fallacies and
white supremacy, Jim Crow and separatism are fostered by the state and
corporate America, and endorsed by the American church. It is quite
one of the earliest civil rights movements began in a house of worship
become perhaps the most enduring of efforts to end the subjugation of
color in this country."
observations juxtapose nicely with Green's heritage, the major people
influenced his life (both through their personal interactions in it and
their social and political efforts), and the forces he encounters that
influence his own successes and failures, which are candidly outlined
At no point
narration lag or become self-serving. Even more importantly, Green
important connections between key decisions in his life and points
failed others: "Youthful decisions
can be tantamount to disaster. My decision to serve my country over
son proved to be a fatal flaw in his development. Serving in Beirut,
Subic Bay, Philippines; and Chu Lai, Vietnam proved be a disservice to
His formative years were the times he needed me most. The prolonged
assuming my parental responsibilities simply made a very bad situation
He was a troubled child having been exposed to wrongdoing and misdeeds
very young age. Wrongdoing unfortunately, became the norm for him."
paired with experiences, life lessons, and observations of both his own
and those of others in his community, elevate Carroll Green's story to
than just a singular experience. It reflects the kinds of perceptions,
consequences and behaviors that lead to important social changes, for
for worse, and this all contributes to a superior autobiography that is
riveting, revealing, and thought-provoking.
social issues, or memoir collection should be without Green's story,
affords much insight into raising a family and becoming an active
member of a
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Skinny House Press, a division of Skinny House Productions, LLC
ISBN 978-0-9968777-0-1 (paperback) $19.99
ISBN 978-0-9968777-1-8 (ePub) $9.99
ISBN 978-0-9968777-2-5 (Mobi) $9.99
of the first African-American homebuilders in New York. In 1925 he
a successful business with his brother in Mamaroneck, building homes
the Skinny House that still stands today. While Skinny House is a quiet
to his skills, until now, what has also remained silent is the full
behind this family's most notable member, and his history.
a family memoir that holds a singular value to primarily the family and
to the regional geographic history involved; but what proves highly
is the fact that Nathan Seely's story is a vivid account that is not
one man and one family's struggles; but represents a microcosm of the
African-American experience as a whole.
appropriate to say that Skinny House
belongs in a variety of collections; from regional New York,
history and memoir holdings to those strong in early civil rights
researched and documents the story of an iconic three-story,
house known locally as the “Skinny House” built by her ambitious
grandfather, who owned a successful construction business in the
decimated Nathan Seely's business and life. Skinny House was
constructed as a
refuge for his family, but became so much more as generations of the
family moved from good times into poverty and back.
photos and vintage images, Skinny House
is packed with astute and captivating observations not just about the
and economic challenges of the past, but the divisions in one family as
struggled to survive: "I am
convinced the two men loved each other dearly, but they struggled to
their feelings, so they ended up resenting each other. I also believe
a part of my father that was proud of Nathan’s accomplishments,
building the Skinny House. However the Great Depression made
impossible because it roared through the country like a freight train
hijacked opportunities for forgiveness between fathers and sons that no
of ransom would satisfy."
have anticipated a narrow vision from this narrow little house's life
receive instead a sweeping saga of various social, economic, and family
psychological issues that make for thoroughly engrossing,
Skinny House is a testimony not only to a
family's changes and
survival strategies; but to the endurance of a dream and how its legacy
passed between generations. It's very highly recommended for a wide
readers; from those concerned with African-American achievement and
general-interest readers who simply enjoy engrossing family memoirs.
Return to Index
Roberts Press (an imprint of False Bay Books)
978-0-9898078-7-6 $9.99 Kindle
thriller mystery set in the San Juan Islands revolving around heroin
drug cartels, and psychological suspense will find the Death
of Vultures the sweeping saga of a woman who has already lost
everything she loves, and has nothing more to lose.
Meg is on
both psychologically and physically. Her changes are well detailed and
to draw in readers from the start ("You
don’t suddenly awaken as a wailing, angry, distant woman.")
moves from the kind of woman she wants to be to the kind of woman she
her daughter Lily's addiction for years, only to see it meet its
fate. Her husband is gone, as well. Not quite a widow (although his
leads her to feel like one; and to relate to the empty widows in her
she no longer fits into any neat category in her life. All that's left
revenge; and it's a dish best served cold.
isn't out of
her life just yet: he's involved in a dangerous game that draws Meg
the world she feels so distant from, recharging her batteries of
passion as she
finds a new, albeit dangerous, purpose to her life.
Meg's world are neatly juxtaposed in passages which move between
experiences in both worlds: "She
sipped her coffee and stretched her legs to release a tension that had
them during the ride. All the cars rocked in rhythm with the ferry as
over the water. She remembered the words to an old lullaby she used to
Lily as an infant in her cradle, Rock-a-bye Baby, and how, in that
bough had broken."
passages by daughter Lily which reflect on her life and her own
perspectives provide excellent relief and additional embellishment for
comprehending Meg's thought process, family connections, and
ability to craft evocative phrases that pair swift action with
insight keep readers not just on edge over confrontations and
immersed in a series of realizations about everything from suicide and
to another inevitable death. Surprises range from revelations about
death to a hidden secret about Lee's involvement with Wes and its
influence on Lily's choices.
set to do
something about death and its impact on her life. Grief, guilt, and
for crimes walk closely together in an evolving story which brings both
her readers on the brink of disaster as reconciliation and recovery
elusive goals for many of the characters.
riveting, action-packed inspection of one woman's life gone awry as she
out to rescue others only to come full-circle to discover her own
ability to survive.
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9781622531388 $15.95 Paper; eBook: $3.95
become used to seeing demons; but
it's quite a different experience to be actively fighting
them. Yet, this is what transpires when, after years of
silence between Steven and his unrequited love Kate, she asks for his
locating her kidnapped daughter Megan.
to be a
case for the police turns out to be much more complicated because
discovers that not only is his personal demon involved; but a cult
transforming Megan into something unworldly. If they succeed, she will
to Kate forever.
in Devil's Den proceed with the
of a thriller, inject regular insights into Steven's supernatural
with demons in the past, and succeeds in crafting a story of intrigue
danger when an impossible rescue attempt draws Kate and Steven together
the difficulties posed by Steven's personal demons.
injection of the supernatural rather than a story based entirely on
otherworldly forces will appreciate just the right blend of paranormal
and intrigue that bring this thriller to life.
and turns are well done, the story moves deftly from one man's
struggles to bigger-picture thinking about cults in society, and
especially relish the realistic characterization derived from a
fast-paced story line and attention to psychological motivation and
vivid, winning tale of a former couple's confrontation with themselves,
other, and a wider-ranging threat that grabs the reader from the
proves nearly impossible to put down. Thriller audiences will find Devil's Den more than a notch above
others in the genre.
Return to Index
Hardcover: $24.95 ISBN 978-0-692-13611-9
Paperback: $14.95 ISBN 978-0-692-13599-0
Kindle: $ 4.95 ASIN B07DP837VG
the new "Mister Puss" mystery series and opens with one of the most
intriguing introductions seen in the mystery genre, deftly setting the
using a minimum of words: "A weight-loss miracle. A dashing
architect. A talking cat. What could possibly go wrong?"
widow, Mary Questman, adopts a stray cat that seems to speak to her,
younger gay friend, Brody Norris, is concerned. When she decides to
bizarre weight-loss enterprise called FlabberGas, Brody's worry ramps
notch. And when a clinic volunteer is murdered, Brody moves from
friend to amateur sleuth to discover the truth about Mister Puss,
wisdom, and a
winding investigation with murder at its core.
strength to note about FlabberGassed is its
powerful attention to the
sights, smells, and sounds of its environments. This is reflected in
beginning, from the compelling way in which widow Mary adopts her new
"His warm breath carried the smell of bacon, but deeper from his
body rose a potpourri of subtle, more exotic scents. Closing her eyes,
inhaled the sandy dryness of a vast desert—plus a trace of something
and delicate, perhaps papyrus—and a pungent whiff of kyphi, the sacred
perfume of once-great dynasties. Mary rubbed cheeks with the cat. She
nose climb her face until the fur of his chin touched the opening of
His purr thundered. And soon, from the drone of his purr, other sounds
The rustle of reeds in a delta marsh. The ripple of a crocodile plying
great life-giving river. The hiss of an asp. And rising above it
all—gibberish—Egyptian gibberish, the babble of an ancient
mounts that Mister Puss really is speaking to Mary through his purrs,
actually giving her good advice (such as changing her mind about being
an experimental weight-loss procedure), tension mounts. And as Brody
husband Marson become immersed in a dangerous investigation, trouble
FlabberGassed is especially strong in its portrait of deadly
mischief, a new sleuth's
challenge in recognizing clues as simple as fingerprints, the
between Mary and Brody and an uncommon cat, and too many possible
attend the victim's funeral: "We all had our reasons for being
that day. Some truly mourned the loss of Jason, as their lives had been
changed by his death. Others may not have felt the loss directly, but
there to support and respect those who grieved. Still others may have
connection to those touched by the tragedy, but they were drawn there
news, as members of an affected community. Others, just curious
onlookers. Plus, there was someone else. I was fairly certain
whatever perverse reason—Jason’s killer was there among us. Perhaps the
one simply had to be there; if it was someone close to the deceased, by
or by association, their absence would be deemed strange or even
But the guilty one may have had little or no connection to the victim,
than the crime itself, and may have been there that day for the sport
for the thrill of witnessing communal grief. And if so, what did that
about the many nameless others in the crowd? Was each a potential
What is Brody to make of a talking cat that makes sassy observations about people, who may have actual clues about what going's on, but from a cat's perspective?
whimsical cat interactions with humans, amateur sleuth Brody's ability
change gears from architectural to police procedural concerns, and an
to the details of his relationship with friends, husband, and community
an involving story that is especially strong in its depictions of how a
temporary investigator is changed by pursuits far from his usual
the usual progression of a murder mystery will find many exceptional
this story; from a feline character to a gay architect's involvement in
a case demanding skills
that he fears he may not possess.
FlabberGassed is quirky, original, and a delightful read
especially recommended for
mystery fans who enjoy feline references in their story lines.
Return to Index
Available at Amazon.com
978-0692158234 Paperback: $12.99/Kindle: $6.99
HoloHead is an intense novel highly
recommended for fans of
political fiction, sci-fi, thrillers, and reads that hold a touch of
and messages about life purpose.
entertainment or art comes to mind; not politics. In
this T.D. Holt thriller, after the 2024 presidential election,
holograms have evolved beyond art and
entertainment to assume a
more ominous role in the U.S. political system, effectively taking
figurehead of a President who is literally not in office.
introduction of hologram science and its potential for future expansion
provides theory and background for this story; but if readers think HoloHead is going to be a hard science
tale, be advised that it's not.
wind into a story of intrigue and crime in a scenario of innovation
documenting the hijacking of the American government in an entirely new
apparent that the political events outlined here have an eerie parallel
modern times. Perhaps that's why the story feels so familiar within
just a few
paragraphs: "Placards and cries of
“Bring back the pillory; send him to
Gitmo!” erupted across America. Fortunately for the nation—especially
soon-to-be ex-President—the President-elect understood that her
priority was healing the long-divided country; to defuse the
incendiary rhetoric of the headlines penned by the yet-to-be humbled
Humbled? That will always be
President has a monumental responsibility. A 'real family' at last
seems to be
at the helm of U.S. politics and policies. But things change as key
replaced by holo-impersonators controlled by forces who would take over
White House while keeping the image of its integrity intact.
one kidnap the most prominent official in the country to replace her
dubious duplicate? As the replacement android-like leader exerts her
those affected by them begin to question their own loyalties and
has a real
gift for taking current events and projecting them to future scenarios;
perhaps the greatest attribute of HoloHead
lies in the timing of this story. What may have seemed improbable only
years ago feels all too possible today. This makes its plot even more
compelling, between the realistic references to modern political
Holt's combination of thriller/sci-fi genres and attention to building
detailed, fast-paced action.
discussions of control, manipulation, and individual choice and courage
thought-provoking moments throughout ("Starvation
was one form of control.") to create a solid story of enemies
nation, issues of trust and faith, and the love between Blake and
Mac and Mindy, who find themselves caught up in events that place their
and country in jeopardy.
readers will relish HoloHead for
of its components: a spiritual focus which adds a different dimension
considerations of loyalty, faith and ethical behavior; solid action
the story line fast-paced; detailed political scenarios that are
extrapolations of modern-day events into future choices; and fine
who juxtapose special interests with personal and social growth. Too
can predict plot outcomes in a story's first few paragraphs. Holohead has
a wonderful approach that will keep readers interested and riveted to
Return to Index
Raked Gravel Press
978-1-942410-16-4 $5.99 Kindle
The Moving Blade tells of a top
diplomat's murder, his puzzling
legacy of connections and research, and a determined daughter's return
from America to ferret out the truth, aided by Tokyo detective Hiroshi
and ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi.
the fact that The Moving Blade is
steeped in Japanese history and culture: an unexpectedly delightful
an investigative 'whodunnit' mystery that actually teaches readers much
this culture and its people.
The fact that this is
the second thriller in the detective
Hiroshi series shouldn't stymie newcomers, who will find the
requires no prior familiarity with either Japanese culture or Hiroshi's
in order to prove immediately understandable and involving.
murder isn't the only case on Hiroshi's plate: when two more bodies
faces a personal challenge to step outside his investigative approaches
his usual methods prove futile in this extraordinary case.
The blend of
dilemma over professional process is another facet that elevates The Moving Blade to something more than
a light murder mystery. From the start, Michael Pronko weaves in
observations that enlighten readers about Japanese interactions.
the confrontation between Jamie, the diplomat's daughter, and Hiroshi's
chief, who initially wants to brush off any deep commitment to solving
crime because the diplomat was a foreigner and Jamie is a woman.
advises Jamie how to loudly make her case to convince the chief to take
her] more seriously in a way that Japanese women don't do.)
Japanese style of censorship called 'shelving the truth': something
into play as events unwind and forces attempt to quash dead diplomat
work so that it cannot be published. In Japan, power is wielded in a "...slow, steady, wear-you-down way.” Readers come to recognize
the strengths and
applications of this power as the story unfolds.
battle between a tanto sword and Hiroshi's pipe to back alley battles
long-running feuds, half-Japanese daughter Jamie and Hiroshi find
the fast track of involvement with military, political, and social
"Maybes can lead to certainties"—but will
come in time?
plot, backed by solid research, makes for a story that is not just a
whodunit piece, but a slice of life piece inspecting Japanese heart and
Readers who like their detective stories more than lightly flavored
cultural insight and history will relish The
Moving Blade's ability to move in both worlds, adding the
flare that keep the story fast-paced and informative all in one.
readers, and any with an affinity for Japanese culture, are in for a
Return to Index
Judy Penz Sheluk
Superior Shores Press
Trade Paperback: 978-0-9950007-3-5 Price: $14.99
eBook: 978-0-9950007-4-2 Price: $ 5.99
Publication Date: September 21, 2018
Past & Present adds Book 2 to the
'Marketville Mystery' series
and returns Calamity (Callie) Barnstable to center stage. Prior readers
adventures in Skeletons in the Attic
will learn that these events take place a year later from when she
inherited her house and finally solved the mystery of who murdered her
thirty years ago.
remain in Marketville permanently, and has opened her own PI business,
& Present Investigations. She has a new partner and her first
woman who is also searching for clues in a 'cold case' involving a
great-grandmother and the perp who killed her.
clues in a case eerily similar to her own, she relies on both her
recently-acquired skills and new revelations that arise from a past
a relative's present determination to solve it. What she didn't
that the case's similarities and ties to her own life will reach out to
her in a personal way that challenges her professional distance in the
Although Past & Present requires no prior
familiarity in order to prove accessible, it's especially recommended
readers of Skeletons in the Attic,
who will find the logical continuations and extensions of Callie's life
personality craft an ongoing saga that continues her personal,
and psychological growth process.
take pleasure in the blend of psychological and professional expansion
allows Callie to use her past experience and newfound investigative
adding more than a light touch of genealogical inspection based on
conundrums in researching the past: "When
I’d researched my mother’s disappearance, her marriage certificate had
huge help, even listing the current addresses of the bride and groom.
with this one, which offered nothing more than the basic facts: names,
place, along with the signatures of the witnesses and City Hall
Even the witnesses’ names were a dead end. John J. Johnson and David P.
There had to be a lot of Johnsons and Smiths out there."
realizations and self-inspection are an exquisite touch to the story
readers not only engaged, but completely cognizant of the forces that
families, murderers, and investigators alike: "Why
would someone want to murder your father?” Because my dad had
left me a letter in a safety deposit box, and the safety harness wasn’t
only accident to happen to him at work. Because accepting it really was
I’d have to stop obsessing about his death and move on with that aspect
life. Because I hated my grandfather and everything he stood for and as
I could find a way to blame him, I could keep that hatred fueled."
to detail that, like Skeletons in the
Attic, sets Callie's blossoming (yet new) investigative
prowess apart from
other books in the mystery genre. It adds various subplots and detail
enliven its plot, educates readers, and injects realistic scenarios
mystery packed with unexpected and satisfying twists and turns.
concept behind Past & Present Investigations evolves, so do all
characters who interact with Callie. Each makes discoveries about their
present-day lives and their connections with the past. As Callie fills
blanks to the past, she uncovers secrets she had never suspected.
tense, emotionally gripping, multifaceted mystery that serves both as a
continuation of Callie's life story and as a fine stand-alone read for
newcomers. Filled with surprises and revelations, Past
& Present is a gem in the mystery genre that should
remain hidden, but shines above and beyond the typical genre read with
of originality and compelling scenes that will keep readers engaged,
and looking for future cold cases for Callie to heat up with an
Return to Index
E-book (978-1-5255-1662-7) $2.99
Paperback (978-1-5255-1661-0) $18.99
Hardcover (978-1-5255-1660-3) $34.49
Clay's first day back on the job after a forced 'vacation', but crime
take a holiday for any reason and so the very first investigation he's
to turns out to be especially heart-wrenching: the grisly murder of a
and child in a suburban home.
heavy toll and the last case forced him to the edge of sanity, so this
case, which opens with a bang, challenges not only his problem-solving
abilities, but his belief in how crime and punishment works. In the
murder investigations he's participated in, this is the first in which
discovered the bodies and made the call. Perhaps the small-town feel of
and its relative safety just became a lot more complicated and
Clay feels completely overwhelmed after only his first day back.
becomes evident that Revoked is
in complex human behavior. There's an obvious perp who has had a close
relationship with the victim; there's an ex-con brother who was at the
the crime; and there's an evident trail that leads to a fairly
conclusion. Or, is it?
MK Pachan is
at creating deception, so readers who expect a cut-and-dry case will
come to find that the story takes an unexpected turn midstream as more
die: people who could have held clues to the case's resolution.
lying, therapy sessions for Clay that began at the request of his
evolve into something he can actually use, and the juxtaposition of
lovely scenery with its underlying streak of cruelty blend in a
story that leads readers through hell and back again. From
to physical brutality, Revoked is a
study in contrasts and challenges, creating a riveting story steeped in
of complex interpersonal relationships.
to the truth, so his world teeters. Readers along for the ride will
find that a
tense detective cat-and-mouse game evolves which places Clay and
loves in the shadow of violence.
engrossing whodunit balanced on step-by-step tightropes of tension, Revoked can't be beat and is highly
recommended for detective story enthusiasts who like complex,
Return to Index
Shadow of Murder
Writer at Play
Book 8 in the 'World of
Murder' series more than does
justice to its companions as it creates both a stand-alone read that
no prior familiarity with the series, yet dovetails nicely with the
emotion-packed approaches and mystery themes of its predecessors.
Homicide detective Stella
Garcia and her partner Sergeant
Detective Jack O'Roarke are again challenged by murder, with Jack's new
marriage serving as a quiet opening success to events which quickly
hair-raising circumstances based on a true crime.
A deadly and gruesome mass
shooting of Indian women and
children in a family-run store, the killer's desire to destroy a lovely
woman who neither wanted nor knew him, and a just-returned newlywed's
into a world of murder. Unrequited love steeps the story line with a
and drive that makes it feel true to life and hard to put down.
Forensic profiling has done
a good job of identifying the
pattern of the deaths; but now it's up to Garcia and O'Roarke to put
the pieces in a case that leads them to not only identify the perp, but
understand what happened and why.
The latter charge is what
readers are also tasked with in
a story line that moves back and forth across time and events to build
for how events arrived at such a shocking crescendo of violence.
What keeps Shadow
of Murder thought-provoking and absorbing is not the
'whodunnit' piece; but
the 'why', which goes into revealing detail about the psychology of a
motivations and psyche.
looking for a gripping short murder story which
is more psychologically charged than most will appreciate this murder
which pairs a gripping saga with insights that compel reflection long
case is solved.
Return to Index
Nancy J. Cohen
Orange Grove Press
Ebook: ISBN 978-0-9985317-5-5 $4.99
Print: ISBN 978-0-9985317-6-2 $14.99
Amazon Print: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0998531766/
to Death is the 15th book in the cozy mystery 'The Bad Hair
Day' series that profiles hairstylist/sleuth Marla
Vail. One would think that, with such a
long-standing series of adventures behind her, any newcomer to Marla's
would at least need some degree of prior familiarity with the series,
such expertise is required in order to delve into the world of South
and Marla's endeavors to succeed.
story, Marla has entered a local charity bake-off contest at a Fall
and stumbles upon the dead body of fellow contestant Francine while she
the results. This sets off a chain of events in which Marla uncovers a
food-related possible perps who each would have had a stake in
her own benefit to support a local historical museum, the threat of
deaths looms over her promotion plans for her salon and the community.
reason why Nancy J.
Cohen is an award-winning cozy
mystery author is that her stories are packed with personality, upbeat
scenarios, and the solid pairing of a murder mystery with broader
entanglements. In this story, Marla isn't just a sole proprietor
independent of her world: she's thoroughly connected to the community
her salon and work.
nicely crafted and filled with atmosphere and detail that bring Marla's
to life, sometimes with a touch of ironic observation, as when she and
companion venture into an eclectic restaurant during the course of
investigations and have to confront a decidedly sophisticated menu that
challenges their taste buds: "I don’t
see anything here that I like. You didn’t tell me the menu was this
Marla took a look. Crawfish cocktail, conch fritters, gator bites,
crabs. Those didn’t appeal to her, either. “How about the guacamole?”
in a less than enthusiastic tone. It wouldn’t be her appetizer of
dip comes with pita bread. And what’s this pawpaw martini?” Dalton
kind of fruit drink, maybe? We could always get a salad to start.”
like the best bet. I wouldn’t want the sunray salad. That’s got oranges
onions and cream cheese balls. Ugh.”
As for the
investigation itself, it's filled with the kind of realistic flavor
cements the idea that Marla and her fellow partners in non-crime are
professionals, but informed amateurs: "Marla
drew a stool over to the counter, sat on the vinyl seat, and unwrapped
sandwich. After taking a few bites, she said, “We have some promising
but nobody stands out as the main suspect.” “Who do you have so far? In
mystery novel I just finished, the guilty party was the business
activity, culinary insights, and probes into Marla's logic to recipes
romance which pepper the story line and embellish its twists and turns,
who want a cozy mystery filled with atmosphere, intrigue, and adventure
settle a chair by the fire for a good evening's read.
Trimmed to Death is a delicious story to
savor primarily because
the focus on Marla and her community is so realistically and
that readers will relish the final results and the path that leads
her detective hubby Dalton to move from the concerns of the Cut ’N Dye
and Day Spa to probing Francine's life and the motives of who would
Return to Index
Ebook: B07DFQLL8Q $2.99
Paperback: 1981051457 $9.99
Love, Lust, Pain & Freedom in the Deep South opens
in the summer of 1852, and tells of Amana, a Caribbean-born girl newly
to the status of 'house slave' in antebellum New Orleans.
Collette, in contrast, is a
Southern belle who has little to do with the slaves that keep her world
functioning. Immersed in her own life and achievements, Collette is a
wife and homemaker who lost her first child and spent two years
Amana's arrival in the house
sparks jealousy and resentment in Collette, who struggles with her own
close-held secret and a life that at times feels out of control despite
rich outer appearance.
In many ways, Antebellum
Struggles is not just a study
in the contrast of lives, but in the differences between hearts, minds,
perceptions, and choices. Amana and Collette represent obvious
this environment; but escaped field slave Tabari, the back-and-forth
between Collette and her husband the Colonel, and the always-scheming
self-serving approaches to life add more characters and insights into
methods and motivations of people living in the South in the late 1800s.
Realistic characters, dialogue,
and setting lend an aura of authenticity to the evolving story, which
delves nicely into the rationale behind and the structure fueling
slave system: "Strong men were more
valuable than weaker women. Child bearing women more valuable than most
Gender, age, strength. They were all considered in calculating their
the plantation. Submission to their master’s dominance was crucial.
in any form, would threaten the entire business enterprise, and thus
tolerance. Any hint of revolt, escape, or disrespect needed to be
eradicated, like a plague."
From those who would harbor
runaway slaves to Amana's lingering nightmares about the voyage that
her to New Orleans, Antebellum Struggles
isn't about a singular character's struggles; but about the entire
sentiments, structure, and moral and ethical tribulations.
Readers seeking a historical
piece well steeped in its times and multifaceted in its approach to
social stratas and their perceptions will relish Antebellum
Struggles for its involving and clear survey of what it
means to be a slave or free in the South of the 1800s.
Return to Index
978-1-946920-37-9 $17.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
Because I'm Worth It outlines a clash
between Skye Topple, who is
engaged to the spoiled Southern belle who is his employer's daughter,
follows the convoluted puzzle of their stormy lives together as family,
and business pressures collide.
spoiled people, and impressive perks may sound like they'll contribute
story of self-centered behaviors; but the heart of Because
I'm Worth It lies in its ability to depict the stormy
encounters of two very different families whose values and approaches
are based on different concepts, from Northern and Southern culture to
how to get ahead and relate to people.
explorations focus on husband and wife; but Because
I'm Worth It adds in the dynamics between various family
factions to expand
one of its many themes: how disparate people do and don’t work together
union born from psychological and business benefits.
and realistically presented is the unique lifestyle of California's Big
residents, the country club atmosphere of the rich, and the clash
different layers of California culture. As different generations from
view payoffs, motivations, and goals from upper-class perspectives,
treated to a blend of humor and thought-provoking insights that
society approaches to life.
more than lightly cast upon the waters of lavish displays, is a welcome
juxtaposition to the more serious events chronicled within and add some
and pointed moments: "A photographer
took pictures of the bride and groom in a gold gilded carriage as the
added their approval with applause. Weddings were meant to be fun, and
carriage was removed, the couple snuggled together on a board placed
one-sided plywood boat, painted white with gold trim. It was set up on
artificial lake with a scenic backdrop, and the people clapped again. When the lake scene was
dismantled, a white
horse materialized. It whinnied and tossed its head as Charles climbed
bride was handed to him with great care. The wire hoop of her gown
around the front of the saddle like an organdy cloud that had slipped
sky “I can’t watch
anymore. Are all southern weddings this silly?” Evelyn’s eyebrow
indicating her bad-temper. “No,” Robert replied calmly. “I believe the
have confused their royal background with a fairy tale.”
minor grammatical errors sprinkled throughout; but
while this should
be noted, the overall strength of the story and its delivery is not
Sur hippies coexist alongside the world of the wealthy? And how does
untangle himself from the web he's woven?
on American classes and the ongoing clash between North and South
for a lively story that readers of women's fiction will find fun and
Return to Index
A Brothel, Beauty,
& A Murderer!
Raymond Cook, Publisher
ASIN: B01BXK5O1A $4.99
A Brothel, Beauty, & A Murderer!
is set in 1899 in Silverton,
Colorado, where a fancy brothel caters to higher-class clientele than
average Gold Rush miner. Protagonist Annabelle flourishes under the
runs this venerable establishment, with one of her repeat satisfied
being rich businessman Greg.
missing as he's leaving this establishment, Annabelle is high on the
perps, and when she escapes his gunfire slaughter of revenge, he
embarks on a
vendetta to find and punish her.
It should be
that A Brothel, Beauty, & A Murderer!
contains steamy sexual descriptions. It crafts well-detailed historical
background that informs readers about Colorado history, gold mining era
culture, and the importance of saloons and prostitutes in this milieu,
provides a degree of complexity unanticipated from a novel that
recommended for ages 18 and older because of its many explicit scenes.
a soft porn production alone should be advised that A
Brothel, Beauty, & A Murderer! is much more, blending
historical novel, murder story, and cultural observation that winds hot
into the overall mix of solid historical representation. The actual Blair House in this story was,
historically, the most famous brothel in Colorado's history.
girls take to prevent the diseases which would earn the brothel a bad
reputation to how the Madame vetts her clientele ("My
clients are wealthy, mine owners or businessmen. They dress
sharp, are courteous, and respectful to me, and the women who pleasure
them."), it should be noted that "explicit" refers to more
than sexual description.
time to recreate the atmosphere, culture, politics and pursuits of
that point in its history. Readers are treated to a full-faceted
documents a beautiful 24-year-old woman who loves sex, the
bring her into conflict with her job and place in a situation that
her life, and the background drama that leads up to the familiar
scenario of a
helpless woman tied to the train tracks.
throughout could ideally have been addressed during a final proofread
marks in successive paragraphs of a character's discourse are lacking,
example; and errant commas appear in unexpected places), but, though
significantly mar the reading for all but the most editorially
may chafe at their regular appearance.
noted that descriptions are designed to be forthright, which may offend
when regular reference to the Madame is made as "the Jew". However,
this is all in keeping with the story line, the times, and the
Raymond Cook creates, and falls under the caution that if readers are
offended by explicit descriptions either of a sexual or cultural
should look elsewhere.
setting and atmosphere with a vivid story of murder, sex, and strife
a common device in many stories; but Raymond Cook's ability to candidly
these facets with no filters creates an authenticity lacking in more
productions which would skirt explicit description in favor of decorum.
color photos sprinkled throughout reinforce the setting and landscapes
Cook's story: another unusual, effective approach that lends to a
that belays a common 'Western novel' label, pushing it into the
but with a more serious attention to historical detail than most.
healthy dose of graphic descriptions tempered by the drama and
a Gold Rush story will relish the slow burn of A
Brothel, Beauty, & A Murderer!, which takes passion
different level as it reveals a beautiful woman's dangerous game and
hunter who becomes involved in an unexpected journey.
A Brothel, Beauty, & A Murderer! is
recommended for its
effective cross-genre blend of erotica and historical detail.
Return to Index
Four Days to
Bill Mesce Jr.
ASIN: B07FQH1RVH Price: $3.99
Gilmore is the
administrator of an assisted living facility that seems to grow more
under his charge even as he feels that his job is pulling the life out
Reverend Owen Dawson is a preacher distributing illusions, dreams, and
possibilities who harbors some unholy approaches to life, such as
gun and aspiring to make an adult movie. Four
Days to Trinity tracks the good pastor's journey and the
people he affects
during his progress, introducing a host of small-town characters who,
own ways, are quirky, funny, life-challenged, and themselves living on
in various ways.
note about Four Days to Trinity is
Bill Mesce Jr.'s attention to small-town people, politics, and
Dawson's trajectory is closely followed by many who speculate that he's
to embark on some kind of vendetta.
aspect to this tale is its sense of humor, which winds into the story
between characters in the most unexpected of ways, overlaying the most
of observations: "The blurt of a
passing semi’s horn drowned out her reply. “Was that you, love? I’d stay away from the
empanadas from now
on. At least say
extended discussions between characters, and close inspection of
lives take the time to build a myriad of scenarios and backgrounds that
first seem unrelated; but which serve to deepen the plot as the
and go, interact and drink together, and ultimately play important
parts in the
buildup to Dawson's actions.
As it turns
nothing evolves from random chance alone. Each character has a part to
Owen's ultimate choices, and what feels like a confusing mishmash of
characters in the beginning soon comes to be a flurry of important
atmospheres, observers and decision-makers that each contribute to the
story of a good man's intentions gone awry.
expect to find himself involved in a murder investigation, helping to
possibilities. But he and others find themselves in over their heads as
journey that holds its roots in infidelity blossoms into something much
Four Days to Trinity is a progressive
read that is complex,
absorbing, and unexpected in many ways. It takes its time crafting
and atmospheres, injects purpose and meaning into a seemingly disparate
experiences, and provides hard to put down as it deconstructs the
many lives and weaves them back together for an unexpected journey.
whimsical, alluring, fun, and disturbing, all in one. Readers seeking
original, complex, yet rewarding story will relish Four
Days to Trinity for its quirky cast of characters and the
serious threat and offers of redemption that craft a truly evocative
Return to Index
Top Hat Books
Paperback to be published in 2018
Her Morning Shadow is set in the time of
World War I and tells of a
young Jewish Ukrainian immigrant to America who forms connections in
country just as the world is exploding overseas; but although the war
changes form the backdrop for this story, it's the immigrant experience
powers the tale.
opens with the bang of real events as German saboteurs commit a
by planting a chemical bomb in a freight car loaded with ammunition at
Tom on Jersey City’s Hudson River waterfront. The descriptions are
relayed to readers ("Rounds began to
cook off lighting up the sky and peppering the Statue of Liberty and
Island with shrapnel.") as events unfold and an America not
involved in the war finds its commitment to neutrality shaken, lending Her Morning Shadow an introduction
that's unexpectedly powered by real events in American history.
("Abie") is introduced in the next chapter: a Ukraine immigrant who
ironically fled Russia, not wanting to get conscripted into the
and who now finds himself defending his adopted country.
as a war is winding down. Millions are dead, millions more wounded, and
survives to see the Great War's conclusion even if everyone is too
battle-shocked to celebrate it.
forces celebrate, many in other countries are devastated and suffering.
tapped to continue his journeys beyond American shores, his fluent
deemed a useful skill to the military, in an effort that leads him on a
personal mission as well: to locate missing fiancée Rachel Zeidman and
her to his adopted home in America.
world torn apart by war and struggling to piece itself back together,
Jewish man trying to make his way through life, forging new connections
renewing old ones, makes for the engrossing story of an immigrant's
which unexpectedly takes place far from American shores.
Add a murder
investigation, social observations and prejudices, trials and
a growing immersion of immigrant perspective into American culture
redefined by different opportunities and connections and you have a
hard-hitting story. Her Morning Shadow winds
through military and civilian life, embracing the perspectives, special
challenges, and hard-fought achievements of a community where 'family'
defined not just by one's blood relatives, but by the values and roots
from adversity, strife, and danger.
appreciate the powerful focus on how a cobbled-together family seeks
will find much to appreciate in this survey of how Abie's world not
unwinds, but expands to embrace others.
Her Morning Shadow is very highly
recommended, especially for
readers of immigrant experience who want a better-rounded perspective
offered by most novels on the subject.
Return to Index
Linda Lee Keenan
Linda Lee Publications
Print: 9780692134146 $14.95
ePUB: 9780692141328 $ 2.99
described by the author as "A
Novel of World War II from Berlin Then
to Manhattan Now."
It's a story that emphasizes the
survival of love against all odds—even war—and tells of Julia Hamilton,
modern-day interior designer in Manhattan whose great-uncle joined the
underground forces in Germany to save people from the Nazis. World War
events seem distant from Julia's life despite her family's connections
opposition, but Uncle Per wants Julia to understand these experiences,
journal is the perfect place to capture them for posterity.
worlds of 2015
Manhattan and 1940 Berlin are juxtaposed and explored, readers receive
thought-provoking contrast in experiences and perceptions that captures
Per's encounters with ordinary citizens both for and against the Nazis
could not decide how to respond. She was obviously pro-Hitler and I was
Berlin to protect Sweden from Hitler.") and
contrasts them with Julia's own journaling efforts and her
increasing understanding of the past: "Until then, her
was conducted without her conscious mind being present. Every other
written what Uncle Per had told her, she had not comprehended it until
day after resting. That night there was a change. She was acutely aware
levels of what her uncle was saying while he was telling his story. Did
mean that she was in both places at once - in Manhattan in 2015 and in
her uncle's experiences, she becomes immersed in not only his life,
challenges; but in the notion that there is more than a transient
between events of the past and her life.
Uncle Per's stories and experiences and Julia's world is nicely done,
italics to separate these two identities and their accounts. This
clarity, separating each character so that readers don't become lost.
Another plus is that the story takes many unexpected turns, venturing into areas of loss, heartbreak, love, and broken hearts as well as missions realized and thwarted.
Julia comes to not just understand her uncle, but becomes immersed
in his experiences, choices, and the social, political and military
of Berlin during the war.
observations, vivid in its representations, and nicely balanced in its
between past and present worlds, The
Journal is especially recommended for readers of historical
thrillers, and history's mysteries who will find the combination of
sacrifice, and evolving romance nicely done and thought-provoking,
unusual perspective that sets the story apart from other World War II
Return to Index
a 1960s Vietnam War novel based on true events; but it should be noted
story's progression is quite different from the usual military focus.
instead tells of a group of American deserters holed up in Japan who
escape overseas to Sweden.
anticipate the appearance of hippie communes in Japan, the social
revolving around Japanese peace activists who are involved with this
Americans, and the challenges Flynn and his companions face as they
the strange ironies and inconsistencies of Japanese culture, assess
for escape, and craft a fragile plan that depends on a series of
circumstances to prove successful.
satisfyingly surprising is Matthew
Turner's attention to navigating his characters through urban and rural
Japanese communities alike as they trek into danger and face the
many different levels.
Harper, Masuda, Santiago, and Flynn interact with and learn from
activists and face condemnation for being deserters, they and their
come to understand the nuances of not just events in Vietnam and their
on all levels of military and civilian personnel, but their
on Asia as a whole.
bigger pictures, life tends to change and go on in those smaller
that Turner explores with much attention to cultural descriptions. The
microcosm of the hippie world which accepts the deserters and then
returns to a
semblance of normality is particularly well detailed ("It
was testimony to the cohesiveness and purposefulness of the
Tribe that they continued to function smoothly as a group despite the
caused by the presence of Masuda and the deserters. With the exception
Anala, who spent her free time either by Santiago’s side or watching
him from afar,
the hippies seemed intent on going about their lives normally, varying
routines only to the extent necessary to enable the new arrivals to
when Pran had taught the three how to fish with spears. And adjust they
the days went by, Santiago, Roberts, and Sullivan slept in less, were
inclined to congregate around the kitchen before meal times, and showed
interest in participating in the yoga sessions and other group
during their free time."), as is how these cultural
turn, change the deserters' perspectives.
political maneuvering around the search for these deserters nicely
with their interactions and travels, creating a pointed yet
story that takes the elusive goal and promise of the freedom of Sweden
contrasts it nicely with the subcultures and realities of 1960s-era
moving, multifaceted story that cements its plot with strong
astute cultural insights and social inspection, and a backdrop that
both familiar to any regular reader of Vietnam novels and alien to
anticipating the usual military encounters.
It's rare to
social inspection so nicely wound into a Vietnam story line. Any
strong in historical fiction will relish the different insights and
Sweden, a literary, historical piece
that focuses on the student protests overseas during the mid-1960s
received comparatively little depth and attention in the annals of
Return to Index
Business of the
Apprentice House Press
Casebound ISBN: 978-1-62720-187-2 $22.99
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-62720-188-9 $13.99
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-62720-189-6 $ 6.99
This Business of the Flesh is a suicide
story with a difference, because
when Tracy's brother Aaron commits suicide, she inherits not only
his three large dogs: two pit bulls and mastiff Stella. As she
unfamiliar territory of dog ownership, it's intriguing to note that This Business of the Flesh is as much
about dogs and their ability to challenge and heal as it is about
suicide and how mental illness is dealt with in a naturally-reserved
Tracy's evolution, because she has a history of not fulfilling her
for her ("Tracy had begun
disappointing her father when she’d majored in business and minored in
communication, definitely a “practical choice,” like the kids who
they could dream bigger: a pre-major that necessitated graduate school
more years of study, a hefty starting salary and the prestige of
letters that automatically attach to a person’s last name. She’d
disappointing him when she’d decided not to go to graduate school and
home.") and keeps her secrets close.
of her deceased brother's dogs heal not only herself, but her family?
Life in a small Wisconsin town holds both connections and alienation. Tracy has carefully honed her independence, sometimes against her parents' wishes, and has cultivated the kind of distance that too often belays close relationships.
her brother's cabin with the dogs in tow provokes the need for
communications about fences, pit bulls, and changing relationships as
assures neighbors and friends that things won't be changing for the
especially adept at describing psychological undercurrents as the story
and Tracy makes new discoveries about her brother when she visits his
world ("... there
would be Sam’s stories about Aaron, stories of an Aaron she didn’t
know: the Aaron who helped him fell trees and clear a space for a new
building; the Aaron who joined him and his hunting buddies for beers;
who could tell a great story, entertaining everyone; the Aaron who
silver bitch from the roadside where she’d been dumped, her puppies
the red bait dog and Stella, returned six times to the shelter,
undergoing many changes for the sake of the dogs. She makes new friends
lesbian couple Lucy and Carla, finds deeper connections with her old
ultimately confronts the fact that she's spent too much time separating
from her family roots in particular and life in general.
This Business of the Flesh is about
flawed families, perceptions,
and the pursuit of meaning in life. It's also about the politics of pit
their presence in her life, and what happens when an old suitor returns
change everything she's rebuilt from her brother's death.
women's fiction will relish Tracy's story of growth, it's the dog lover
general and pit bull enthusiast in particular who will find much to
about the changing relationships between man and beast that's just one
strengths of This Business of the Flesh,
which is highly recommended for leisure readers interested in stories
recovery and pets.
Return to Index
Three Women and the River or The Englishman Who
Forgot His Own Name
tells the vivid story of World War I in Europe and an aspiring writer
himself caught up not in the throes of literary achievement, but in the
struggles and aftermath of war.
a series of trials in Italy during his service, from surviving battle
rescued by Gabriella, whose family tends to him until he is captured by
Germans and eventually returns to his homeland, England.
winding journey far from his literary passions, can Reg forget the
cared for him as he resumes some semblance of normal life at home after
experiencing the horrors of war?
The theme of
ordinary citizen and boy turned soldier, exposed to a series of
mental and physical survival, and returned to home and hearth where
seems different is not an unusual one; but what is notable in Three Women and the River is how adept
William Harry Harding is at weaving historical fact into fiction. He
recreates the social and political atmosphere of Reg's times as he
the literary and political contemporaries that challenge his thinking.
subplot provides a gentle undercurrent of hope embellishing a situation
is often dire, as Reg faces a trial and accusation of desertion, with
punishment for his actions in the field.
leave his life at different times, each holding keys to Reg's safety
happiness. As his journey from a small English farm to the wilds of
includes both redemption and romance, readers are treated to an epic
through World War I that personalizes the milieu and experiences of the
juxtapose bigger life experiences with Reg's return to environments
faded connections and new associations based on his trials makes for
evocative passages that illustrate the changes war that brings to the
world: "In the place Gabby's garden once
stood, Reg found the pockmarked wheel hub that had served as a bird
her blue jay. Small green stalks grew out of it. He broke one off,
the scent of licorice. Following the gentle slope above the flood
walked toward the smoke, his mind flooded by memories he didn't know he
approaches made on burning buildings in Flanders, where Germans hid or
From PTSD to
survival challenges, Reg's experiences translate to a powerful and
saga that captures the world's long journey towards peace and
reader interested in World War I's lasting impact on Europe will find
story a satisfying microcosm reflecting a greater story of the times.
Return to Index
The Whole of
Paperback: 978-0-9997456-1-8 $15.99
Hardback: 978-0-9997456-0-1 $25.99
Ebook: 978-0-9997456-2-5 $ 5.99
When a group
idealistic and aspiring young Americans land in Zaire, Africa in 1988
mission to lend aid to those in need, they discover more than
motivations at the heart of their mission in this prequel to Don't Go, Ramanya.
living in a
village with no roads, no electricity, and no modern technology changes
Their journey is narrated in a story that follows events that take
Americans from a high-tech society to an isolated bush existence and
The Whole of the Moon deftly describes a
social learning process
that embraces disparate forms of change in a tale that opens with a
of description: "There are certain
people who sizzle and burn. Gabriel was one of them. I first noticed
sitting near the front of a twin-engine prop plane as we made our
Bukavu, Zaire, long before the wax on his own wings would begin to
tiny foam chairs could barely contain him; you can't wrap a seat belt
descriptive language flows through The
Whole of the Moon like a prose poem, and is one of the
reasons why the
story line is much more compelling than any description of its plot
the tale lies in its ability to juxtapose the puzzles and ironies of
cross-cultural experiences with the fire of individual growth and
As Gabriel, Sheila, and others in the group change and the protagonist
back on the events that led them to the present, readers embark on a
soul-searching journey through not only deepest darkest Africa, but
hearts and minds.
that move from Gabriel's life-threatening bout with malaria to his
transformation, the story carries readers into a blend of international
encounters and African cultural experience, sparkling with angst,
emotional heartstrings that are tugged at every crossroads.
demonstrates the difference between a singular story and a gripping
journey that grabs one's heart and doesn't let go. It cements that pull
and lovely descriptions and psychological and social insights in an
that makes The Whole of the Moon
highly recommended for any novel reader looking for a compelling saga
love and transformative changes.
Return to Index
The Baryon Press
ASIN: B07FMKTN3T $9.99
Astronomy & Natural History Connections
from Darwin to Einstein
is a science course in a book, adopting the unusual approach of
astronomy with natural history in a survey that successfully draws
connections between the two disciplines.
to see the different disciplines thoroughly covered in a single volume;
addition of scientist biographical sketches from classical Greek to
times creates an approach that cements scientific developments with
individual pursuits and social history.
Astronomy & Natural History Connections covers
but focuses on what thinkers such as Darwin did and
did not say. Classroom discussion and individual study are more
detailed than memorizing dates and theories, encouraging reflection on
ideas developed, were debated, and how they apply to lasting scientific
pursuits, pinpointing moments that were epiphanies and breakthroughs in
weaves back and forth between astronomy and natural history,
created which solidify not only basic concepts, but points of
contention and how these were addressed, providing far more depth than
traditional linear presentation of either subject.
It should be
that many casual and conventional lay impressions of scientific
processes, and theory will be challenged during the course of Barry
associative process. Among these concepts is the contention that
not necessarily an adaptive process; that 'species' is a term that
questioned; and that migratory processes may be seen as only breeding
in a mix of options.
mentioned that Boyce's appeal to lay audiences is strengthened by his
of a chatty tone that clearly explains matters to lay readers: "A lot of information has been
presented, and for some of you, a lot of the terminology may be new.
purpose, I assure, you was not to overwhelm or fry your chips; it was
you feel more at ease with, and perhaps less than threatened by,
natural history. Scientists work in a formal, somewhat competitive
are obliged to use very technical language."
summarizing the important concepts of each chapter clarify the basics
material for classroom discussion or independent reader reflection.
this piece lies in its "connections" portion. Astronomy
& Natural History Connections doesn't just summarize
major findings, but moves back and forth as it links the two subjects.
fluidity allows for an unexpectedly wide-ranging survey of the future
challenges of science, such as the pros and cons of colonizing and
Mars or the search for answers about galaxy expansion processes.
discussions come from either teachers or scientific researchers. Barry
was a graduate student in the neurosciences, but spent 30 years
natural history and astronomy on expedition voyages to the Galápagos
and the Antarctic, so his experience with worlds outside the
classroom or lab structures affords a different focus and lingo that
explain and exploring these worlds, employing a more engrossing,
treatise for self-study will be delighted by the book's accessibility
ability to turn technical discussions into understandable ideas, while
looking for a more 'user-friendly' volume emphasizing
interdisciplinary approaches and research
processes will delight in the special approach of Astronomy
& Natural History Connections, a work highly
recommended for laymen and science students alike.
Return to Index
Hidden Brook Press
Home Ground comes from a Canadian author
whose work is firmly
rooted in a sense of place; whether he's using the poetic structure to
the manicured grounds of the Point (which is his childhood home), the
where "where the sand sang in the
sun/and thunder rang over its dune-dense immensity," or the
of changing habits and nature in one of Canada's long winters ("When Leckie’s field iced/over after a
thaw/and quick freeze, we skated/on glazed meadows/where once clover
bloomed,/wild mustard throve/and larks buffeted the air").
through memories of Don Gutteridge's childhood observations of people
encounters with peers as they skate through the ethereal world of
landscapes, and the process of growing up, falling in love, and
new landscapes both natural and human, they form a progressive dance in
readers are moved by description and experience alike. It's as though a
painter captured a delicate butterfly for a single moment in time,
preserving that moment under a lens of inspection that moves to examine
microcosmic level of life's fullest moments: "In
your lemon-yellow dress/you stun the sun and the/fellow gazing
at you/debouching from your Volksmobile/unfazed/and effortless in your
Many a poet
to do just the same; but Gutteridge's ability to succinctly capture the
quickest of impressions, presenting it for close inspection before
to the next dovetailing moment in life, creates a more powerful series
vignettes than most. Individually, they are seconds in time; together,
a timeline of life's meaningful bullets, nicely preserved for all to
Many of the
inspired by and dedicated to various individuals who presumably moved
Gutteridge's life: a nice touch solidifying the impact of not only
people in his life.
"Words and joy collide" indeed in this
collection, which holds the singular ability to capture these moments
passion; but readers should also expect the unexpected. These aren't
vignettes about sunshine, love, and nature. Sometimes the darkness is
in the most unusual of ways, as in 'Sinister', which seems to be a
comment on the game of golf before it explodes into something more
reflective. Even here, there is always the attention to twists of
word to inject the unexpected into seemingly the most ordinary of
worlds: "My Uncle Tom and I/swung from the
sinister side and patrolled the Thames Valley/fairways in
tight tandem,/and while I
irritated my irons/with random rambunctions,/his wedge struck his
and we watched it/in feathered flight as it/gravitated to the green..."
works are clearly stand-alone slices of life; but when taken as a whole
in Home Ground, they assume a
deeper inspection of life's movement, evolution, confrontations with
nature's winding influence as it paints humanity's psyche.
descriptive, yet rooted in autobiography and a sense of self and place,
Home Ground is highly recommended
enthusiasts of free verse who treasure exposés firmly rooted in
Return to Index
Living in the
Sidney C. Walker
High Plains Publications
0-9621177-8-1 $16.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle/Audio
Living in the Zone: Engage the Unstoppable Power of the Intuitive Spirit comes from a sales training coach who moves beyond boardrooms and sales floors to apply the basics of his concepts to the bigger picture of living a better life. It is recommended reading for seekers with an interest in personal growth, but is different from any similar-sounding approach. Why? It addresses changing negativity in the world starting with the core of this kernel of angst, the ego/self.
Readers who look to self-improvement techniques to answer why they feel something is holding them back in life will find that Living in the Zone pinpoints a problem both difficult and theoretically easy to fix: one's own attitude, perceptions, and approaches to life. Other books might promote or insinuate that a timeline is involved in the process of self-evaluation and change; but because part of Sidney C. Walker's game plan involves intuition, there's no deadline for success in his approach.
Intuition takes time to tap into, time to process, and represents a kind of 'zone' that can't be forced. This is just one of the messages in Living in the Zone.
It should be cautioned that this isn't a scientifically-backed approach, as Walker himself points out in the first few paragraphs: "The information in this book is not scientifically proven. Everything presented comes from my own experience of more than three decades of coaching and personal research. Science is of indisputable value. But when it comes to philosophy, psychology, and transformation, our intuitive knowing is way beyond what we can prove scientifically, and I suspect that may always be the case."
This not only makes sense; but, actually is a big plus in a world where information not backed by scientific procedure and testing methods tends to be discarded. As a matter of course, such information tends to be of an intuitive nature.
Living in the Zone includes an unexpected spiritual component: "You could say that life on planet Earth was created as a game to play to give us something endlessly fascinating to do. Then there was another aspect added to our existence, which was internal guidance. We were guided by a Higher Power through our intuitive instincts and our conscience. Yes, we had control over the choices we made, but we were making choices toward what felt intuitively right, and we had a clear awareness of what our path was."
Readers who don't believe in a Higher Power or guiding light may find this skirts too closely into spiritual realms in a psychological examination of change; but in actuality, Living in the Zone is a discourse on transformation; and this process contains the prerequisite of a belief in intuitive faith in order to prove successful.
As chapters unfold, problems involved in shifting to a wider perspective are outlined with an attention to not only charting the course of change, but the obstacles to reaching beyond ego-centric forces to intuitive recognition, acceptance, and success. The 'how' aspect of such achievement is nicely addressed in Living in the Zone, in contrast with competing new age books which would focus on the 'why' and provide ideals and explanations without explicit follow-through.
Living in the Zone requires a slow, careful pursuit. It's not a race to the finish line; but an opportunity to reconsider goals, achievement, definitions of winning, and the power of intuition in the process of real change.
From effective approaches to keep the ego from judging and evaluating people and situations to avoiding the tendency to 'sell' to people in favor of a more intuitive, sharing approach to relationships, Living in the Zone provides a succinct roadmap to a new way of approaching life. This is highly recommended not just as a paradigm for change; but for its attention to the details involved in inviting transformation into one's world based on identifying, trusting, and acting upon something that's already present: one's own intuitive powers.
New age, self-help, and psychology readers alike will find Living in the Zone direct, accessible, packed with examples from Walker's own life and experiences, and satisfyingly specific in its instructions.
Walker's approach creates a survey of relationships that is highly personal in tone, in contrast with the usual psychology jargon infused into similar accounts of changing approaches to life. There is no comparison between the vivid transformative approach that is infused with personal experience in Living in the Zone and the more distant analytical tone cultivated in too many other reads.
There is no substitute for intuitive
connections and understanding based on personal experience.
Living in the
Zone shines in its achievement, here, and stands out
from the crowd of
self-help and improvement books by cultivating a series of connections
examples that stem directly from life itself. It's especially highly
recommended for readers who eschew typically dispassionate approaches
of a more passionate, personal consideration of intuition's
Return to Index
Naveen Jain with John Schroeter
Moonshots Press, an imprint of John August Media, LLC
978-0-9997364-0-1 (Print) $28.00
978-0-9997364-1-8 (eBook) $14.99
Moonshots: Creating a World of Abundance
comes from a billionaire
entrepreneur who focuses on the types of disruptive innovations that
only change human life, but improve it in various ways. It chronicles
approach to not just accepting this change, but cultivating its
"moonshot" in Naveen Jain's lingo is designed to be a one-word
summation of the "super-entrepreneur" approach to innovation, which
can be applied beyond business pursuits to technological advancements
Jain holds a
idea of abundance that holds strong roots in lofty ideals ("This convergence—unprecedented in human
history—will upend every
notion we have about our civilization: how we live, where
we live, how we work, how we get around, how we interact,
even what we are. And all of
these outcomes will be realized by the ushering in of a previously
of economy—an economy of abundance.
An economy whose very basis lies in sharp contrast to everything that’s
peddled to and simply taken for granted by a naïve public."),
these visions with practical insights on how these approaches can be
incorporated into everyday choices.
discussions to Dostoevsky, philosophy, and the roots of entrepreneurial
Jain encourages the idea that bigger-picture thinking needn't come from
foundation of expertise alone: "I am
not a rocket scientist, but that didn’t keep me from founding Moon
Viome, with no credentials or training whatsoever in physiology,
healthcare. My status as a nonexpert has actually been my greatest
asset as an
entrepreneur. This is why I have never started two companies in the
industry, ever...Every company I have started was not only in a
industry from the last, but an industry that was completely new to me.
belief is that once you become competent in a particular domain, you
improve it incrementally—you can never disrupt it. Disruption happens
someone who has no idea about your industry begins to challenge the
foundations of everything that the experts have taken for granted."
Thinking investors and entrepreneurs who want to move outside the box will find much encouragement in Jain's 'moonshot' approach, which supports the reason why the process is so accessible to non-technical readers: "Moonshots are possible only because audacious entrepreneurs are able to look at a problem from a perspective that the experts have never considered. Thinking in the abstract is something the industry expert can no longer do."
cultivating this approach. It should be cautioned that Moonshots
is not a get-rich-quick scheme or blueprint for quick
action, but a read to be digested slowly, savored over a period of
approached with the respect for complexity that it deserves.
entrepreneurs, investors, and individuals vested in bigger-scale
life's possibilities will find Moonshots
a detailed survey not just of Jain's processes and success, but the
thinking on disruptive innovation that lead to success on many
Moonshots should be in any collection
strong in business, ideology,
self-help, philosophy or technology. It's a highly recommended,
hopeful probe of mankind's next possible stage of self-driven
Return to Index
My Career as
Reviewer Defending the Faith
Maurice A. Williams
Maurice Williams, Publisher
ASIN: B01F43ZUCA $2.99
2008, Maurice A.
Williams began writing and posting book reviews to the internet,
effort to promote his own book Revelation
and cement his name as a writer. All in all, he's written about a
reviews; yet his name and his book remain in relative obscurity. As he
these reviews, he vastly revised his notion of what a book review (and
book reviewer) should be. This collection gathers 70 reviews that
considers his finest pieces. Ideally, they should be read alongside the
they refer to; but they are also stand-alone works that offer fellow
reviewers and readers much food for thought.
book reviews will find that Williams adopts a straightforward, critical
in contrast to some, letting the reader know right off the bat if a
production is lacking. Often this criticism of a book's effectiveness
because Williams disagrees with an author's approach or contentions,
out errors in either logic or delivery.
note about these reviews is that they reflect the opinions and
their writer, who personalizes his style by using 'I' in a manner often
from more formal approaches to book reviewing.
example, the first review contains the words "I have mixed opinions,"
"I was surprised," and "I think this is another flaw"
(speaking of A Secret of the Universe,
by Stephen L. Gibson). These injections of personal observation do not
unsupported. The review closely considers the work and pinpoints faults
reasons why Williams chose to comment as he did, following flawless
logic as he
assesses each piece.
of A.D. 62 Pompeii, in contrast,
the novel's plot of the novel, adding commentary on Rebecca East's
character development and realistic portrait of the past based on her
background as a professor and archaeologist.
demonstrates a successful strategy on the part of the reviewer, showing
observations can be supported by a book's structure, approach, and
and how a reviewer's determination of value involve more than just
does My Career as a Book Reviewer Defending
Faith successfully sum up the extent of one book reviewer's
career; but it presents
different approaches to reviewing. Book reviewers new to the industry
writing about others' creations would do well to look at this
collection as a
series of templates for producing powerful reviews, which could easily
a solid example for creative writing classes covering the fine art of
Return to Index
The Senator's Son
Foreword by Ray McAllister
Beach Glass Books
The Shocking Disappearance, The Celebrated Trial, and The Mystery That
a Century Later comes
attorney fascinated by history's mysteries who stumbled upon the true
the disappearance and presumed murder of a state senator’s
in 1905, becoming immersed in a murder mystery over a hundred years old.
detectives can't solve 'cold cases' under a decade old; let alone
investigation after a century has passed. That's just one fascinating
a piece that becomes 'living history', holding unexpectedly valuable
and messages for present-day audiences as it probes the events,
politics and influences of the times.
anticipate that a broader theme of political entanglements, social
and personal inspection will take what could have been a dry assembly
and imbibes them with new life; but Charles Oldham's ability to do so
any notion that writings by an attorney are necessarily dry and staunch.
It takes a
storyteller to delve behind the scenes to capture not just the lives
atmosphere of the times. Evidence of Oldham's ability is abundant and
insightful: "In the early 1890s, the
veneer of stability over race relations in the South began to crack. It
with economic hard times, which impacted blacks and whites alike. When
lose their jobs, it is natural to look for scapegoats, and for white
Southerners, blacks were the most obvious target. But it is interesting
that the racial recriminations did not set in immediately. They took
take effect, and it happened only after a series of unusual political
assembling facts probing secondary events, social evolution, influences
perception and action, and more. In addition, there are a wealth of
images that support this sense of place and time, providing emphasis
enlightenment that come from visual as well as literary representation.
language and accurate social and political depictions creates a history
reads with the drama of a novel and the insights of a well-researched
inquiry: "Whatever the true state of
Mrs. Beasley’s health, the press’s depiction of her need come as no
Thirty years earlier, it had described Sarah Ross, Charley’s mother, in
virtually the same idealized terms. In all the years Charley’s story
was in the
news, the press almost never interviewed her or quoted her directly.
husband spoke for her, as Senator Beasley later did for his wife. And
Mrs. Ross was mentioned, she came across as little more than a cliché:
“the poor mother,” or “the stricken lady.” Her grief was a badge of
honor, described by the New York
Herald as “something so noble, so hopeful, so womanly."
As can be
another surprise to The Senator's Son
lies in insights that hold relevance not only for understanding the
of the past, but its ongoing presence in modern-day social and
scenarios. It's as if Oldham embarked on a personal time-traveling
scope out the motivations, institutional structures, and snafus of the
then translated them into language and scenarios many a reader will
from present-day affairs and reporting.
the depth of insights into these social issues in a story about
murder; but they are abundant and pointed ("As
it was in the Victorian 1870s, so it was in the Edwardian 1900s, and
in the chivalrous South. Ladies lived on an exalted plane, untroubled
right to vote, unsullied by the mundane hand of crime or political
at least proper white ladies, and that is certainly how the prosecution
intended for Cassie Beasley to appear to the jury, amid the day’s other
testimony about hog theft, saloons, “working girls,” and the like.").
juxtaposition of a particular case and its broader implications offers
priceless inspection not just of a historical mystery, but its lasting
assesses political influence, legal proceedings, and narrows the
of what really happened in an approach that raises questions even as it
up avenues the original investigation didn't touch.
for a better exposé
than The Senator's Son. Filled with
passion, well-researched facts,
maps, photos and illustrations, and astute insights into state
financial influences, and special interests that led to disaster, the
not just a historical recounting, but a vibrant, engrossing true tale
proves both educational and nearly impossible to stop reading.
Return to Index
Outskirts Press Inc.
A World Worth Seeing recounts the
experiences of Brian Nelson, who
has visited over 190 countries on seven continents over the years. Here
documents these journeys using a step-by-step series of descriptions to
how he traveled the world. From time to time, reflections are added on
lessons learned about how to travel and absorb cross-cultural
A World Worth Seeing separates chapters
by regions visited and
often includes thought-provoking insights not to be seen in the usual
travelogue: "Honestly, the world I
have gotten to know is much better than the media gives it credit for.
preach a world of war, hate, and crime. If the world was nice, people
long to see it, but if it’s evil, it must be better where you’re at."
between A World Worth Seeing and
other travel stories is the wealth of sharp, nicely-composed travel
pepper Nelson's story. These lend a visual component to his narration,
landscapes to life and nicely embellishing observations as vivid as a
view of the classic statues of Easter Island.
"you are here" feel to his descriptions, so readers also receive
specifics on how he navigates customs and foreign cultures, the
arranging airfare and tours, and how he travels these strange worlds.
is not just about inviting readers to see the world through his eyes,
covers the nuts and bolts of exactly how he made travel arrangements.
more insights on how traveling through and observing these places
insights about other cultures and life; but this isn't the ultimate
purpose of A World Worth Seeing.
It's a "come
along with me" travel resource for wanna-be world travelers that
Nelson through foreign lands and outlines his journeys between them.
of wanderlust who intend to travel the world will find World
Worth Seeing an excellent, inspirational guide to crafting
their own world journeys.
Return to Index
The Wild Rose Press Inc.
Print ISBN 978-1-5092-2123-3 $16.00
Digital ISBN 978-1-5092-2124-0 $ 5.99
Dickensen Academy is a young adult
paranormal story that holds the
power to reach out and grab not only protagonist Autumn Mattison, but
readers, as it opens with her first impression of one of the big dreams
life, and a looming puzzle. Autumn's first day at the exclusive
Academy introduces a bizarre secret that none of the new students sees
impression of the physical academy's setting, Autumn experiences a
certainty: somehow, she's been on this campus before. But, that's
Or, is it?
As she tries
cross-country and seeks to expand her horizons, 15-year-old Autumn
seems on the
brink of achieving much, but she keeps feeling something is wrong;
when one of her courses turns from a predictable study to incorporating
Management into its curriculum, leading students on a discussion that
introduces Autumn to some uncomfortable realizations: "My
theory: the school used these unforgettable dreams to convince
us to accept."
As the 'why'
the 'how' becomes more and more apparent, Autumn and her classmates
of the biggest decisions of their lives. From her struggles with her
over her grades and objectives at Dickensen to persistent nightmares
that spill into daily reality, the events, people, and secrets at
about to take over.
Amidst all this, Autumn is finding herself and discovering the true strengths of attending Dickensen: "The school’s culture seemed made for people like me. I was becoming who I was supposed to be because I didn’t have to hide my true self."
enjoy boarding school stories, paranormal encounters, and stories of
a teen who receives lessons on romance, mistakes, and special abilities
find much to like about Dickensen Academy,
an institution which specializes in making dreams come true in more
character is nicely done and inviting, and the world of Dickensen with
its conundrums and confusion comes to life through her eyes, making for
that is hard to put down.
Return to Index
The Little Labradoodle:
Puppy Pickup Day
April M. Cox
Little Labradoodle Publishing, LLC
Eight engaging labradoodle
puppies wake up to greet the
day in April M. Cox's engaging picture book story of a special day when
puppies expect to get a new home.
They are fed, groomed, and
play, but one little pup,
smaller than his siblings, is rejected. As the rollicking rhyme follows
and games, young readers can't help but be concerned about one little
who falls off the puppy slide, is too small to play tag, and gets lost
As the countdown begins,
teaching numbers to young animal
lovers, the last little puppy begins to wonder if getting a new home is
something else he's going to miss out on. He's become lost (on Puppy
Day, no less), but his friendly nature leads to help from unexpected
and after his siblings are picked by new families, he discovers
important about courage and finding his place in the world even though
runt who can't do what his siblings enjoy.
A variety of messages are
wound into this fun-loving
story of a little puppy's adventure: counting, colorful fun, lessons on
friendship and helping, and embracing new experiences. Illustrator Len
oversized, colorful panels are a huge draw to an equally-strong,
story line that will delight young picture book readers and their
parents. He's a former Disney &
Hanna-Barbara illustrator, and so his background is perfect for
story into large-sized, exceptionally colorful characters designed to
eye-catching excitement and action to enhance the story's visual
panel is packed with not just vivid colors and playful action, but
the little puppy moves through his choices and considers his options.
the puppy's emotions are involved: readers will find their heartstrings
similarly pulled as the story visually 'pops' with excitement.
Return to Index
Calico Barn Books
Paper: 978-17322626-2-1 $12.50
Hardcover: 978-1-7322626-0-7 $23.95
eBook: 978-1-7322626-1-4 $ 7.50
Pysanky Promise refers to Ukrainian
Easter eggs called pysanky.
Here, both the eggs and the culture come to life in a delightfully
picture book story of Alena, who usually loves Spring rituals
making pysanky, but discovers that this year, her grandmother is
are required for this fine story of a grandmother who finds her
tradition of making pysanky for the holidays is challenged by the
makes her too shaky to create these delicate eggs. Even more important,
feels she's missed the opportunity to teach her young granddaughter how
carry on the tradition.
surprise her grandmother, but first she must learn the history of the
embellished, colorful panels follow the step-by-step process and
couching it with Alena's impressions, experiences, and thoughts to keep
readers interested. The borders of each illustration have pysanky
are explained at the conclusion of the story.
It's hard to
a more effective, colorful, or inviting survey of the subject for young
readers. Pysanky Promise is simply
delightful, unique, and highly recommended for any picture book
strong in holiday traditions, multicultural readers, or evocative
conclude with facts, website resources, and real information.
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Observations of Liliana Joo
SC McQueen, Publisher
ASIN: BO7FM88532 $2.99 Kindle
world is filled with "delicious,
delightful secrets—or, as she liked to call them, "fresh, edible meat."
This translates to a set of surprisingly mature observations from a
fifteen-year-old savvy not only about the source of secrets, but how
high school student who is cheerful, dramatic, and used to relative
so when her junior year introduces unexpected challenges, she must
her personality and her techniques to remedy problems, even if it means
employing other talents to get where she needs to go.
place in her life than challenging academics, however. Her mother's
and the price of her teetering world cost her much as her obsession
secrets turns into a newfound appreciation for lovers' trusts and the
The death of
father in a car crash when she was thirteen was the first time the mask
life began to crack. As Lily feels that her persona and its foundations
moving into shaky secret-driven areas, she understands that much ties
past that she fears to examine too closely.
scoops to gay porn and disturbing teachers, Liliana is both dramatic
process and determined to make her world better. She views life as a
people spontaneously interacting and acting roles. As she writes her
observations about this life, readers are treated to a romp through
interpersonal connections, and a teen's secret desire to get her two
teachers together in a steamy tryst.
ways, The Secret Observations of Liliana Joo is
a bit like the Harriet the Spy
but for older readers; holding more depth and maturity in its
process. This pairs with a sexual component to reinforce the notion
that The Secret Observations of Liliana Joo is
not so much for teen readers, despite its protagonist's age, as for new
who look for engrossing, surprising coming-of-age accounts.
dishonesty, observation versus manipulation, Asian culture and a teen's
for drama, and peer assessments of Liliana's world ("Liliana...has
these moments of sincerity that surprise me. She
seems like she's built this little façade so thickly that she can't be
anymore, but in those rare moments, she seems herself. Like her honest
She's not some character she plays on a stage and she's not some person
made up...") combine to
create a complex tale in which an astute observer of life loses herself
The Secret Observations of Liliana Joo is
an engrossing, revealing
probe of Asian teen culture, the boundaries of propriety, and a young
search for answers. It crafts a multifaceted story of breakdowns, peer
teacher relationships, and challenges that change Liliana's life and
to grow and fail accordingly.
Will Liliana's meddling improve life? The Secret Observations of Liliana Joo's embrace of Asian culture and a fangirl's foundations weaves diary entries with observations to keep the saga vivid and unexpected right up to the end.The Secret Observations of Liliana Joo
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struggled for years with an undiagnosed ailment that left her bedridden
barely alive. The fact that she moved from this state to a full life is
extraordinary in and of itself; but that she did so from her personal
investigation into a range of healing techniques is amazing.
The Healing 100 is both a memoir of her
battle and a list of the top
100 healing techniques that finally moved her from almost dying to
active life. It holds much promise for those who eschew formula, "one
fits all" health routines that choose singular approaches.
hold a holistic, mind/body emphasis because traditional medical
largely failed her. That said, The
Healing 100 is specific in its outline of how these
(some of which are as simple as getting an air purifier for a room and
cultivating positive thinking) helped.
obsessive in her focus. Her point is made early on: "I
believe that a combination of modalities promotes healing. The
key is to figure out when you can use a more natural remedy or
when you require a more mainstream, medicinal approach."
plus to The Healing 100 are her
between bigger-picture thinking and common observations: "It
is said that open and loving communication is crucial for
healthy relationships. One relationship that can benefit the most from
the relationship we have with our body. Think about it. Our body
millions of processes each day without us even knowing what they are
This gives a
perspective to her specifics about all kinds of therapies that too many
alternative health and new age books simply miss. When these
competitors often face
resistance from traditional health readers, The
Healing 100 reaches out to them, pointing out the reasons why
some of these
attribute to this book is that these therapies and how they are
cemented not just by theory but by Kephart's personal experience. This
"I did it/here's how it felt to me" feel that most health books don't
touch: "Since I started stretching
every day, my body feels stronger, and I am able to do certain
couldn’t do before. For example, when I bent forward, I used to be able
barely touch the tops of my feet. Now I can place my hands flat on the
and my hamstrings are much more relaxed."
single routine or philosophy but incorporating a blend of perspectives,
tempering belief systems with the author's own experience, and
routines and adjustments that don't require a big investments in time,
or lifestyle changes, anyone struggling with health issues can find
plenty to appreciate
and much hope from The Healing 100,
which should be in every alternative health collection and many a
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Kick-Ass Kinda Girl is an inspirational
memoir documenting author
Kathi Koll's challenges and achievements, presenting a blueprint on not
surviving life's slings and arrows, but finding joy despite adversity.
describes from her colorful life adventures: "...there
really is a rainbow of happiness around each
challenge." Uncovering that rainbow under clouds of
contention is the
task outlined in a vivid story that embraces all kinds of adventures as
follows Koll's experiences.
illness and caregiving will especially appreciate Koll's journey as she
her husband Don's debilitating stroke and assesses the only thing she
control about these events: her response to them.
cancer to her father's alcoholism, world travels, and a
France, a sense of eternal optimism about life transfers its lessons to
giving her the strength and courage to approach life from a different
friends before, during, and after Don's demise. She kept their lives
also kept alive the memories of a man "always on the go" and the
promise of recreating a life without him.
about caregiving, survival, and being a widow will find a remarkable
within Kick-Ass Kinda Girl that
belays the usual focus on mourning and picking up pieces to instead
passion for seeing the good about life even during the throes of grief.
a memoir by and about a "kick-ass" girl: it's a lesson plan others
can use to find their own rainbows behind the clouds, and represents a
in the literature surrounding grief, recovery, and illness.
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The Light in His Soul
Rebecca Schaper with Gerald Everett Jones
There are plenty of
biographies and autobiographies about
schizophrenia in the family on mental health bookshelves, but The
Light in His Soul: Lessons from My
out from most with its story of a brother who goes missing for twenty
only to return homeless, broke, and suffering from schizophrenia.
This sent sister Rebecca Schaper on a 14-year odyssey to care for her adult brother, and as they faced the trials of paranoid schizophrenia together, lessons were learned in both mental health and sibling relationships. Thankfully, these lessons make up this combination of memoir and mental health primer by a woman who learned much from her brother's experiences and her own interactions with him.
If this story sounds
familiar to those who have long
studied mental health family experiences, that's because it
recaps the story of a 2012 award-winning documentary film,
"A Sister's Call," and adds further details on the film's
perspectives as Schaper reviews the process of not just dealing with
brother's condition, but returning him into the family.
Think 'schizophrenia' and
the common attitude is that
it's a disease to be managed, controlled, subjugated, and drugged into
submission. Schaper's attitude and perspective is refreshingly
writing doesn't distance and analyze issues, but introduces readers to
feeling and perspective of one afflicted with schizophrenia as we see
interact with daily life: "Understand—and
this might be difficult for you to take in at this point—you know you can’t trust your judgment.
You seldom know whether your perceptions are real or hallucinatory. And
are intelligent enough to know that there’s a difference. From moment
moment, you don’t trust yourself. You don’t trust your judgment about
you’re sane or ill."
and finding an underlying joy and purpose in even the most cruel of
lies at the heart of The Light in His
Soul. Where other memoirs and similar-sounding accounts focus
and survival against all odds, Schaper's
story takes the extra step to uncover riches, understanding, learning
experiences and life-affirming joy against all odds; and this is what
makes The Light in His Soul a
unique story worth pursuing.
Black and white family photos pepper the account, but include headings that are not your usual identification of scenes or people alone; such as a childhood photo of Call that mentions that mother and son both suffered from schizophrenia.
book is as much about the author's self-inspection
as it is about helping her brother, and this too is a fine piece of the
puzzle that lends to warmth, insight, and revelation: "Today,
I feel it was the shared pain of abuse that drew Call and
me together in support and healing of each other. It was a powerful,
underlying, subconscious bond. He and I never discussed this, but I
felt it was
recognized and acknowledged between us. I heard him. I felt him. I
the best way to help him, as I wanted to be helped."
Fueled by reflection, family
photos, inspection of the
roots of and reactions to mental conditions and family interactions,
on incorporating mental health and illness into daily living, The
Light in His Soul perhaps inadvertently serves as a blueprint
for not just
survival, but positive acceptance and healthier living with mental
It's a title designed
to not just capture a singular life or experience, but to expand
the experience of interacting with a family member with schizophrenia
inherits a legacy of abuse and mental illness, but who is still loved,
respected, and treasured as part of that family.
Families in similar
circumstances will want to take away
a big piece of Schaper's positivity to apply to their own unique
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