September 2020 Review Issue
Table Of Contents
History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire
Ill at Ease Press, LLC
Saul Brutus has just returned from a trip to an alternate history scenario in The Alternative History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire...one in which the Roman Empire didn't fall, but survived to change the present world in unexpected ways.
history sci-fi stories tackle similar-sounding scenarios and
what sets Missaiel's story apart from the usual focus is the
that, because of this possibility, human society has advanced some
beyond what Saul is familiar with. This segues directly into modern-day
and events made by leaders, governments, and societies, giving readers
philosophical and historical food for thought beyond Saul's adventures
As the story
this analogous universe imparts a satisfying sense of familiarity to
who will see many parallel similarities between Roman society on the
disaster and American society at this point in time.
The author explicitly states his intention and the basic principle and objective of the book up-front in the introductory Author's Note stating, "The fall of Rome halted democracy, humanism, and science for centuries throughout the civilized world, and the fall of America could likewise end democracy and prosperity throughout the globalized world." However, to avoid bias and starting to cross-compare before the story even begins, I recommend the readers read the Author's note after experiencing the action of the book, thus cementing the conclusion of the premise of the book.
explains the world he was transported to inside the Mayflower as the
of the present-day world move along, readers receive a fine
events that make it hard not to instinctively compare the political and
scenarios of the two societies.
time to not only describe these journeys to this parallel universe, but
protagonist's approaches to handling the ironies and challenges of this
unexpected form of travel: "I was
part compelled by social and personal decorum not to abandon this
conversation, and I was part curious to discover more of that new
adventure, and identity, so I decided to keep up the pretense of this
identity and accompany him. Curious as I was, I would proceed with
because while I was growing comfortable in this hyper-advanced world,
still unfamiliar, and I still wanted to come home."
other societies in this much-changed world, only mildly interested in
home at some point, readers receive a series of political encounters
that are astute,
thought-provoking, and fantastical at the same time.
As a 7-day
exploration and mission to affect these places comes to life, this
resonate especially strongly with leisure readers who like blends of
inspection, history, and futuristic possibilities. To be clear, The Alternative History Of The Decline And
Fall Of The Roman Empire is more than a sci-fi alternate
provides an opportunity to absorb political scenarios, 'what if'
and a sense of how choice and direction can ultimately change the
course of the
world's evolution beyond a given society's rise or fall.
drawings open each new seven-day chapter with intriguing visual
particular and special interest in translating political and social
an eye to understanding their intrinsic history-making opportunities
appreciate this highly recommended cautionary tale of conversion and
passion. The Alternative History Of The
Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire offers an important
message wound into
the adventure component: "History is
critical, but what is more of note is our present choices that will
history, and I resolve to rectify my own choices and do my part to
fight on the
right side of history, and I will start by encouraging the lot of you
Morgan James Publishing
9781642798876 $19.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Twilight: Rebirth opens as all
good epic fantasy should—with
black and white maps of the areas under discussion, helping readers
themselves to this new world. It then moves to a rather extensive
which sets the scene for the story, importing much background history
what changed when the world burned and warrior Darmatus Aurelian helped
brother kill their despot older brother, who changed everything.
attempt to destroy the world was only thwarted because his two brothers
their lives to stop it.
years after this epic battle, where war is still being waged in much
manner. The seven races of Lozaria have learned to carry on
without the gods that created this eternal conflict.
that goes on for some 700 years, fought by participants who employ
battle devices while forgetting the origins of the struggle. Imagine
twists in revised relationships between the sexes; the richness of the
of Light in contrast with the poverty of Sewertown, where none of the
"shared" wealth seems to trickle down; and the rise of a deadly power
believed to be vanquished through sacrifice at the Battle of Har'muth.
force threatens a new world bereft of the warriors that once had the
as a lesson
from the Void teaches that "...destruction will always be a part of
anything that has been and all that will be", with catastrophe the end
result of a divided world, characters who are descendants of past
their destiny and the past to create new ideals and powerful changes in
classic 'Lord of the Rings' series, Christopher Russell creates a
fantasy and world which is rich in detail, strong characterization, and
heroic quest that leads a myriad of players into uncharted waters.
have a history to follow, each finds their journey and destiny diverges
past paths of resolution, demanding from them many altered reactions
values. Each individual holds a key to changing the world.
struggles, and rescue efforts and survival permeate a story that is
multifaceted and engrossing.
Twilight: Rebirth presents a
rise with a difference: its juxtaposition of faith and magic, clashes
difference races, fluid gender roles, and crucibles who change those
through them makes for a story steeped in social, psychological, and
pacifists become soldiers to cycles of violence sparked by unusual
circumstances, Divinity's Twilight: Rebirth is a
true epic. Its complex
world and its influences will leave readers intrigued and engaged in
and miracles that leave the door open for further adventures.
fantasy who look for world-building tales will find Divinity's
Rebirth a compelling read that begins midway in an
history, but carries its story with a powerful surge of description,
It Gives You
Philip Raymond Brown
Canoe Tree Press
Hardcover: 978-1735281209 $24.99
Paperback: 978-1735281216 $15.99
Ebook: 978-1735281223 $ 3.99
Audio: 978-1735281230 $19.99
It Gives You Strength blends
elements of sci-fi, historical
fiction about World War I, and mystery as it presents alien
Tashan Zho, who is sent back in time to 1926 to take over the body of a
man during a rescue mission. Unfortunately, that man was an alcoholic,
his memory files are 'corrupted' and Zho's knowledge of his mission
one sentence of his mandate: to find one Mike Kelly. But when he does,
discovers that Kelly leads a criminal gang of World War I veterans
mobster Jack “Legs” Diamond for control of the lucrative Canada/New
rum-running market. And he's forced to become a member of that
a stealth drone's reflections on her mission when she's newly activated
she's waited for centuries in limbo between Venus and Earth.
linked to the fate of mankind, unbeknownst to the humans who both
use him, and even to himself. The
mission involves saving a young alien who has been sent to the Craig
an epileptic— a colony which the aliens interpret as being a prison
Costello's memory of his true mission returns, he also faces challenges
penetrating the Colony and preventing the invasion of Earth.
cultivates a wry sense of humor and social inspection that are
sci-fi writings. As Zho/Costello faces skeptical doctors in the Colony
finds his own future challenged, readers are given close inspection of
historical setting and the logic of its purpose: "The
doctor looked at his watch. “Look at the time! I have to get
to my next appointment. I hope that your current attitude improves over
next ninety days. Otherwise, when I write my report for the judge, you
likely be with us a much longer time,” Harrison cautioned. “But don’t
few of our patients begin to show improvement after two or three
or three years?” Costello asked...Zho considered the irony of his
Outside the colony, he had lived freely as a bootlegger, regularly
crimes and consorting with gangsters. Yet he was now effectively
by a New York State Court for the “crime” of having a seizure in
decided that the only actual medical advice that Dr. Harrison had given
issues to an alien's widening perception of the strange world he's
and the seeming impossibility of the rescue mission he's charged with
undertaking, readers receive a surprising blend of real history and
These offer unusual inspections of gangster activity in the 1920s,
of miracles when galaxy-class starships are actually involved, and
that lead Zho to question the real purpose of his mission.
The story is
of investigative, social history, and sci-fi genres that will attract
from all three areas with a highly satisfying, recommended blend of
Spitfire and the
Snake Eyes of Venus
Happy Joe Control
978-0-9906365-8-8 $3.99 ebook/$10.99 Paper
intriguing title, Suzy Spitfire and the
Snake Eyes of Venus offers a different approach to blending
sci-fi, and will delight readers looking for something different as
edgy Suzy Spitfire travels to Venus in search of a serial murderer.
As its title
this is a ribald romp through life that embraces sex, street language,
aggressive look at life that pulls no punches. Joe Canzano does a fine
incorporating all these elements into a story that doesn't just use sex
foul language for shock effect, but blends in just the right amount of
create a realistic backdrop for this intriguing blend of investigative
up to her name as she searches for a new start, faces the fact that a
screwing up her opportunities, and hops around the universe facing
challenges to her newfound mission.
nicely presented and compelling, reinforcing Suzy's brash character and
approach to life: "Aren't you going
to come out and say hello?" he said. "We're all friends here."
"Maybe later. I need to take a shower first." "Don't worry about
it. I like a dirty girl." Suzy laughed. "People tend to think I'm
dirtier than I am."
concepts of friends and enemies and plots and plans, rallies, and
a "good soldier" who commits murder as part of his job, Suzy's
encounters swirl in a cloud of fast-paced, involving action designed to
readers on their toes as Suzy navigates The Snake Eyes gang war, a
revolution, and dangerous situations.
Suzy Spitfire and the
Snake Eyes of Venus
more than lives up to its
title's promise of an unusual, compelling adventure. The blend of
an investigative crime piece will have readers on edge and wondering
relationships, outcomes, and the motivations of various characters.
The mix of
life perspectives, edgy responses to adversity, and Suzy's own style of
helpfulness and bawdy responses to life creates a highly recommended,
fast-paced sci-fi thriller hard to put down and impossible to predict.
Paul Alexander Casper
Paperback: $29.95; Hardcover: $33.63; Ebook: $9.99
entering into the
1960s, author Paul Casper was
experiencing childhood in America. Eleven years later, he is in a jail
waiting for something to change his trajectory, having avoided
those years ago, only to land in prison facing impossible plans for a
a wild romp through Casper's life as he embarks on world travels he
have envisioned as a child. From a job in a major city to a vision of
entrepreneurship that leads him to Afghanistan via the Orient Express
sheepskin coats, to import them to London to make a fortune, Casper
dreaming and lands in challenging, impossible, and amazing
keep his footloose habits on the run.
some 20 counties in
a 6-month period, Casper
embarks on a road trip powered as much by dreams of opportunity as
and possibility. He meets crazy people, takes risks, seizes life with
hands, and provides a winning combination of philosophical reflection
travel experience in a lively memoir that captures the sights, sounds,
motivations of the road: "I lay
awake for some time as I pondered the moment. Maybe not everyone would
it a moment of life, but I was feeling it. Sleeping in a cave was an
experience that had been shared by many before me, animals and men,
primitive cave dwellers eons ago or my contemporaries. I was becoming a
of another type of fraternity, a fraternity of travelers. I realized I
changing. This wasn't happening overnight. But I was different."
Casper confronts hopes,
fears, adversity, and success
in the course of an amazing life journey, readers are brought along for
eye-opening ride through different cultures and experiences than Jack
iconic On the Road, but with many
the same freewheeling flavors.
Germany, Barcelona, and
Paris to unexpected
destinations around the world, Casper's ability to form quick
connections, and get himself in trouble and out again creates
reading about modern exploration during the decades of the recent past.
compelling blend of
adventure and cultural
observation lends to a vivid, fast-paced memory that's especially
for armchair travelers interested in escapades and adventure tempered
cultural and social insights, set against the backdrop of a bygone
More so than most travel memoirs, the vivid sense of discovery and edge-of-disastrous encounters is exceptionally well done.Beyond Paris
Bittersweet Memories: The Life Story of an Immigrant Daughter will appeal to memoir readers with a particular interest in immigrant family histories. It tells the author's story, who, as the young daughter of a German scientist, immigrated to America only to find the land of opportunity rife with challenges that ranged from isolation, divorce, and mental illness.
The family left their home after the fall of the Third Reich in 1946, but as they faced prejudice in America, many of the same shadows of threat emerged, as in a law against immigrants owning dogs, which led to their beloved family pet being taken to the pound when neighbors reported them. Her scientist father came to America under the auspices of the US Military Government. He had never joined the Nazi party, but this didn't protect his family from community reactions to the presence of Germans in town, as Germans became suspect and despised.
From their initial experiences in America to the struggles that evolved as they settled in, experiencing conflicts both within and outside the family, readers will be engrossed by Barbara Long's survey of the challenges of daily life and difficult living situations, as well as social interactions that belayed the promise of a positive life in a new home. The true story relays how she follows her intuitions and their influence, from childhood through adulthood. It is in the way she went on from events that defined the times, to what influenced her attitudes, ideas, and abilities.
author's approach is thus wider-ranging
than many personal stories, which tend to focus on either childhood or
present-day experiences. The result encourages a fuller appreciation of
just social experience, but the mental impact and challenges of war
immigrant roots. Bittersweet
Memories is a
powerful memoir that draws readers into not just Long's life, but the
impacts of immigrant choices and experience as she traverses her
mental illness and the destiny of other family members. Anyone who
book will find it both revealing, and well-written.
Book Press Publishing
978-1-947305-16-8 $24.95 Hardcover
True Story of Faith, Family and the Testament of Love is a
memoir of wife and mother Brenda Schmitz, who wrote to a local radio
the last months of her life, as she was dying of ovarian cancer, and
friend to deliver a letter to her husband after he'd found a new wife
raise their children. The radio station was entreated to help her
into this new life.
evolved was a wish like
none other, explored in a
story that surveys the lasting legacy of a spiritual woman who made
family was cared for in every way she could, even after her demise.
story reads like
fiction, recreating her thoughts,
encounters with friends and family, and the purposeful formation of her
wish in a manner that comes to life via use of the third person.
most of the story
follows the usual progression
through her diagnosis and treatments, it also adds insights into family
reactions, and the choices that diagnosis brings: "Brenda
saw David look down. She could feel his sadness. He was
not ready to tell her goodbye either. It made her feel a twinge of
grabbed his blue collared shirt and pulled him over until he was inches
her face. “Don’t you dare think
that I gave up on us and the family. I didn’t quit!”
focus is as much on the
ravages of cancer on an
entire family as it is on Brenda's physical challenges after a Stage 4
cancer diagnosis, and the many new choices she's forced to make that
affect the course of her family's grief and evolution.
husband David reflects on
Brenda's approach, his
resentments, acceptance, and celebrations are all incorporated into how
chooses to live and raise his family after she's gone: "David
was certain he turned out to be a great kid because of her.
It made him sad that Max wouldn’t have her guidance growing up. Max was
with David’s guidance alone. A little anger boiled up in his head and
quickly shoved the thought away. He couldn’t be mad today. They were
celebrating her life and she was very particular about how today should
had planned everything herself."
wishes for their
continuing life, health, and
happiness without her is a gift not just to David, but is thanks to
author Jackie Haley, who was tapped
by David to
tell this family's story.
True Story of Faith, Family and the Testament of Love is
reading celebrating not one life, but life itself. Its recommended
anyone who would learn yet another strategy for end of life goals and
and love's lasting legacy.
Little Bit Alright
Shanti Arts Publishing
Little Bit Alright: Yoga, Meditation, and a Dog Named Roy is
memoir writing at its best, blending a travelogue with a
opens in an unexpected place: in Panama, where Daniel Hertz faces a
confrontation with authorities.
companion got them
out of a potentially dangerous
robbery and he attended a meditation session to try to recover from the
These different approaches to recovering from "the canal event" set
the tone for a survey which, more than most, links everyday life
events to spiritual and psychological recovery techniques.
Little Bit Alright sounds more wide-ranging than most
stories, that's because Hertz employs a unique voice while capturing
events and linking them to spiritual growth.
his story evolves,
readers are treated to a special
approach that succinctly juxtaposes the practice of meditation with
perspectives on life: "The robbery
is still heavy in my mind and heart. When something like this happens,
violated and disappointed in humanity.” I could feel myself holding
tear. “No matter how long you study and practice, you are always a
a lot to learn,” I said. “At least now I have some techniques and
use to deal with it. I don’t feel quite as helpless to the whim of
wind blows my way.”
this best captures
the crux of the matter. As
Hertz hones new techniques for addressing, viewing, and impacting his
those around him, he shares these evolutionary processes with the
Because they also are well grounded in life events, adventures, and
experiences, they assume a validity and solidity missing in too many
or autobiographical memoirs.
isn't fixated on
creating a self-help game plan
others can follow so much as exploring what worked for him, and why.
perspective, readers can more easily absorb the basics of connections
meditation and mindful practices and their revised effects on reactions
is no casual
exploration. Hertz delves deeply into
meditation, journeying to its wellspring of information (India) to
month in a mountain shrine, where he meets a swami who arranges a
him. This juxtaposes with over thirty years as a Minneapolis public
teacher, and nearly as many spent as a student and teacher at the
Center in Minneapolis.
result is an outstanding
survey of healing,
resolution, and a revised approach to life that holds many takeaways
readers also on the journey to explore and expand their possibilities. Everything Is a Little Bit Alright is
highly recommended reading for those who would learn the approaches and
of meditation on building a better life.
SUB-LEBRITY*: The Queer
Life of a Show-Biz
Larilee Entertainment, Publisher
Queer Life of a Show-Biz Footnote
will reach readers of LBGTQ memoirs and entertainment industry insider
alike, presenting a ribald romp through the show-biz industry and the
out' queer life of actor Leon Acord: "To this day, my husband
still believes I could someday become famous. I love him for that, even
have plenty of reasons to disagree with him. I’m on the dark side of my
I’m wildly outspoken politically. I was never the most “fuckable” guy
room, even when I was younger. I’m super gay and way out. Laurence
swears I am not “obviously” gay. Alas, he may be the only person on
who believes this. Because I’ve been told otherwise. A lot."
growing up in rural Indiana as an obviously gay child to his foray into
entertainment industry and his public activism and battles with fellow
and actresses, there is nothing subtle or coy about SUB-LEBRITY*.
Its special brand of wry life
insights into queer community and culture, and Acord's own proclivity
trouble means that his accounts can be racy, offensive (to some),
and satisfyingly political in its unique form of social and personal
commentary, all in one.
Those who don't want
this kind of
exploration and inspection of gay culture should look elsewhere. But
readers who appreciate the juxtaposition of descriptions of strenuous
scenes and acting work with links between entertainment's value in
audiences with life experiences, Acord captures many challenging
example is his participation in a hard-hitting play after 9/11 broke: "It
was a powerful reminder of theatre’s ability to bring us together, to
heal, in the absolute worst of times. Especially in the absolute worst
times. And how theatre alone, unlike TV or film, can create unique,
impossible-to-recreate moments of genuine emotion and connec-tion
audience and actors. We weren’t just crying at Aoise’s beautiful prose
Jayson’s skillful delivery. We were sharing, as one, our shock, our
our hope, in that breathtaking moment. I bet nobody in that theatre
it. I know I won’t."
actor choices and the politics and personalities involved in setting
interpreting scripts will especially delight aspiring playwrights and
actors: "Also in season three: we find Ross,
sitting dressed in an empty tub on Thanksgiving, crying about the state
disintegrating marriage. But in camera rehearsal, David played the
instead of sad. “Uh, David – ” “Ross has been moping for two
seasons,” David explained. “He’d be
pissed off by now.” “You’re absolutely right!” So that’s how we shot
want actors to serve as “custodians” of the characters they’re playing,
don’t just “go along to get along.” And when they are as good as Pevs,
worth the occasional awkward conversation."
follows Acord's jobs and evolving
life, it draws readers into new worlds on more than one level, always
its writing with flamboyant descriptions that are notable for their
observations and personal flair.
The notes on LBGTQ
culture are fitting
adjuncts to this personal and political exploration of life and the
"Eventually, we are all
footnotes" to life itself. This concept unfolds newfound rules,
and guidelines to living life to the fullest, and is described in its
forms in SUB-LEBRITY*. The book is especially
highly recommended for
aspiring performing arts participants who receive not only specific
into how the industry operates, but how personalities and politics
of the process, impacting actors, viewers, and the community as a whole.
Bird in Hand
Print: 978-0-9995487-4-5 $14.99
Ebook: 978-0-9995487-5-2 $ 3.99
Prior fans of law officer Samantha Tate's adventures will welcome another story with Bird in Hand, while newcomers will find her latest adventure both accessible and absorbing.
Fitchett is a
treasure hunter. He envisions himself as "...a
mix of Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes with a lot of truffle-sniffing
thrown in." Arley's
discovery would "upend history and rattle the art world." Told to
stop the hunt for this particular best treasure of all, Arley resists
notion, even though it's attracted some dangerous people indeed. It's
and worst decision.
Samantha Tate is called to Indian Point Road to a murder scene, she has
idea that it will change her life, challenging her in ways the past has
other explorations of protagonist Sam, there's an emotional
undercurrent to her
investigations that continues to reveal layers of Sam's psyche,
and approaches to life, which are wound into the daily activities of
her job: "Did he have any close friends?” “I
couldn’t say. He’s been around for a while, but like I said, he
paused. “It’s like everyone knew him, but maybe no one did.” I
feeling, Sam thought."
bring out the depths and life of Sam's background and perspective,
them into a murder mystery that thwarts even Sam's savvy abilities to
problems and gain answers from murky waters, creates a story that is as
about Sam's evolution as it is about finding a killer.
As Sam faces
bosses and questions of trust, a cold case that comes to new life, and
complicated homicide cases that challenge her new home and world,
given outstanding inspections of her ongoing struggles to rise above
problems: "Everything informs my
life. That doesn’t mean I’m suffering from the loss any more than
would. But something about that day bothers me. I mean beyond the
missed something. A clue, something I registered but can’t recall that
explain, well, everything.”
motivation thus move beyond the crime scene and into Sam's continuing
to resolve traumas of the past and the demands of her loved ones in the
creating a satisfyingly complex, emotional undercurrent that runs
greater murder mystery. Bird in Hand
will have prior Sam fans and newcomers thoroughly engrossed, all the
way to the
on Their Hands
978-1-946920-96-6 $17.99 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Barnes and Noble: https://tinyurl.com/ybapnlpd
Touchpoint Press: https://tinyurl.com/ybapnlpd
Bob Brink website:http://bobbrinkwriter.com
Garbuncle is not just
any ordinary witness. He's a
veteran defense attorney who stumbles into the beating of black man
Monceau during a routine traffic stop. It's obvious that the police are
Unfortunately, so is Ham. This specter of a racist attorney confronting
himself and the authorities is only one of the juxtapositions of irony
that Blood on Their Hands
in presenting, along with a wry sense of humor that makes the social
both involving and unexpected on many levels.
unusual to find a
thriller that cultivates a 'hero'
who has many issues, from prejudice to drinking. Hiram is forced to
his innate perceptions and tendency to be lazy by circumstances and
that push him to be something better than he usually is.
confrontations to the feelings and
attitudes of those who testify and interact with Ham and his client
Brink juggles his story with strong characters with realistic faults;
circumstances that test everyone's beliefs, values, and approaches to
the wellsprings of lies and truths that reflect deeper issues both in
individual lives and society as a whole.
produces more than a
legal drama as he moves from
social issues of police corruption and racism to the efforts of a
lawyer forced to play a mostly relinquished criminal law role, which
close to his own prejudices, inherent laziness, and singular
right and wrong. Hiram's psychological and moral perception follows the
and evolution of a man unlikely to change much of anything in his set
routines—and that's the meat of what makes Blood
on Their Hands a thoroughly engrossing standout from other
or courtroom dramas.
Hiram Garbuncle finds
himself in the unlikely position
of battling police brutality and corruption, he changes. This process
confrontation, realization, and growth drives a story that keeps
guessing about just how far Ham will go to both realize new abilities
purposes and form a revised vision of life and his place in it.
growth-oriented, Blood on Their Hands
excels in satisfying twists and turns designed to keep readers engaged
levels, up to its satisfying conclusion.
Cry from an
Book Press Publishing
978-1-947305-10-6 $29.95 Hardcover
Cry from an Unknown Grave will reach readers of crime mystery stories with the second novel series about a small-town Iowa newspaper reporter who gets involved in stories almost too big for him to handle.
delves into the wild world of human trafficking when a late-night call
desperate teen leads him and his colleague, journalist Madeline
probe a dangerous story of enslavement and murder.
indicative of a bigger program in trafficking, with more victims and
at large. When the FBI becomes involved, Tony and Madeline find
moving beyond their roles as reporters, embarking on an investigation
benefits from their ability to ferret out the truth, however dangerous
ability to take the real-life scenarios and challenges of human
operations and turn them into a murder mystery probe translates to an
that blends real-world social, ethical, and moral issues with a
in problem-solving at a level above and beyond the usual reporter's
the rescue of Glenda and Camila, only to learn that their kidnappers
the tip of the iceberg. The authorities working on the case are less
enthusiastic about the participation of two admitted amateurs who
dangerous territory without adequate preparation: "Tony
was struggling to placate Davis, who was beyond angry at
Tony’s irrational decision to enter the motel before the authorities
Davis pointed out Tony had been unarmed, with no decent intelligence
he would find inside. “And,” Davis growled, unwilling to let it go,
dragged your best friend in there with you. You both could have been
Christ, Tony, I thought you were smarter than this. I wouldn’t have
the location if I’d known you’d be this foolish.”
stands in the
crosshairs of danger between police and perps, his ability to grow,
perceive and solve dangerous situations blossoms. This growth process
documented in a series of twists and turns that lead readers through
real issues and scenarios of human sex trafficking that are
Cry from an Unknown Grave
is a murder
mystery with a social message
that will keep readers not just guessing, but involved and thinking.
to probing the psychology of different characters and their motivations
approaches creates an especially strong dialogue and series of
will prove not just entertaining, but involving to the end.
recommended reading for crime and detective fans who like their stories
embedded in social issues and character growth.
Melissa E. Manning
978-1735049311 $11.99 Paper/$5.99 Kindle
Again opens with the tenacity of thirty-nine-year-old
attorney Maeve Shaw,
who has risen above her dysfunctional childhood to build a successful
and fine family. Or, so she thinks.
chinks show up in that
family structure and
challenge the foundations of how she's steadily built her adult life,
feels attacked on two personal areas: home, and a new case at work that
requires Maeve to defend a mother accused of killing her
daughter. It's a case that brings up bad memories and childhood
to her past
juxtapose with her routines as a
mother and criminal trial proceedings which blend past and present in
challenging new ways.
E. Manning uses the
first person to provide a
sense of immediacy and insight to Maeve's observations, experiences,
reactions. This does a fine job of solidifying her character and
logic of her responses to new challenges in her carefully ordered life.
techniques to mitigate the stress and
trigger points of daily life, but finds that these pale against the
some of new, foundation-shaking events that leave her on edge and in
Discussions of these techniques add a realistic, compelling note to the
that demand different reactions and test familiar survival routines.
psychological detail elevates the
story from its murder mystery/courtroom thriller foundations to add a
flavor than most in the genre. It invites women, especially, to explore
depths of Maeve's combined determination and vulnerability.
witness strategies to
changing relationships with
family and coworkers, Maeve's journey provides a satisfying blend of
drama, mystery, and growth. Darkness
Drops Again is highly recommended reading for women who like
protagonists both strong and vulnerable, who are challenged with
lives even when choices of the past seem set in stone and successful.
of a Zen
of a Zen
Master is a mystery set in a
remote Zen monastery and opens with the
first-person experiences of protagonist Greg as he begins his regulated
is at this Zen retreat as penance for cheating on his wife Vega with a
stand, and it's only a two-week stay...a stay about to evolve into
dawn unfolds, however, something disrupts the calm routine of the day.
tragedy all too familiar to the narrator: "This is the kind
of stuff I
have to deal with in my normal life. I just didn’t expect it here."
unfold from the
beginning, from the identity of
the Zen Master whom he hasn't seen until the murder to the identity of
murderer who surely must reside among the residents at the monastery,
is remote and largely inaccessible to the outside world.
might expect the
protagonist's lesson in peace
will segue into a murder probe, but the references to Zen meditation
experience don't end with the killing: "I
don’t actually have a feeling, just an awareness of myself in
everything around me. It’s crystal clear. I’m the observer of my
I’m also the thinker. I’m totally engaged, and simultaneously
and receptive. It’s the sweet spot, where I’m in the moment, instead of
through it onto the next thought, the next sensation."
attention to spiritual
detail juxtaposes nicely with
the elements of a murder mystery investigation as Greg is forced to
several different levels to handle adversities which feel both familiar
alien at the same time.
intriguing to see his
personal evolution in the
course of the story, even when a near-confrontation in a forest evolves
appreciation for nature and quiet: "The
sun warms my back. I smell the pine scent of the forest around me. Freedom. Take this, Abbess
is not always in the mind—it is in putting one foot in front of the
other on a
trail in nature."
a murder to a hidden
Buddha and the involvement of a
ring of perps who all have motivation to kill, Greg faces multiple
from regaining his wife's trust and considering the lasting impact of
effect to facing death himself, revising his perception of his impact
movements in the world.
ideas and experiences
run side by side with Greg's
murder investigation and intrigue, creating a satisfyingly revealing
operates on more than one level. It will especially intrigue readers
degree of prior interest in Zen Buddhist perception, who will find the
of a murder and a peaceful monastery's disruption to be thoroughly
of a Zen
Master is highly recommended
reading for murder mystery fans looking for more
spiritual and psychological evolution in their main protagonist than is
proffered in the typical 'whodunnit'.
Hampshire House Publishing Co.
The Easter Man
is the third John Nolan
detective novel in the
series, and is set during World War I before America entered the
it, a German plot to blow up ships in New York Harbor before they can
supplies to the enemy blends with a drive to simultaneously blow up
residences and buildings on Easter Sunday, 1916.
City police department is aware of this plot, they worry that their
investigators are already too well known to the Germans. This leads
them to tap
the special skills of one John Nolan, a recent Irish immigrant and
private detective who is an outsider, and not very well known.
a dangerous game as he transmits selected information and conducts his
investigation into plots, subplots, and nefarious players: "What Nolan did not tell O’Keefe was this. The
train would not be
carrying barrels of powder and cannon shells, only police detectives
and a crew
to repair the blown rail." His actions border on those of a
operative agent as he undertakes a dangerous task and finds too many
political and criminal connections.
One of the
that makes The Easter Man
exceptionally well-written is Stan Freeman's attention to describing
emotions, motivations, and ethical and moral values of not just
Nolan, but all involved. These descriptions lend a personal touch to
line that makes it emotionally revealing: "Schwegel
remained on the roadside. He gazed at the dead man whose face was
by the moonlight, his eyes open, his mouth agape. There was no
pain or surprise. It was if the face had frozen a second before the
stunned and killed him, when only gold and jewels were on his
mind. Schwegel had the reaction then that he had come to know
personal assessment. How did this experience make him feel? It was the
time he had ever personally killed a man."
traitors and spies, investigates rumors from the police department
struggles to effectively maintain his role as a relatively anonymous
investigator, readers are brought into the action by his thoughts and
observations, as much as by his choices and confrontations: "He lay in bed trying to think of what
more he could do to avoid detection, but there was not any precaution
had not already taken. What was it his father used to say? Worry only
what you can change, not what you can’t. Whatever was going to happen
to happen, he told himself. He had done the best he could."
Detective Nolan will find The Easter Man
a satisfying new adventure presenting a special set of investigative
political conundrums, while newcomers need no prior familiarity to find
and actions of Detective Nolan involving and compelling.
The Easter Man
is especially recommended
for historical mystery
readers who will find the wartime era and New York City setting serve
realistic backdrops to a thoroughly engrossing struggle. The clock is
and Nolan may be the only one to diffuse the bombs that are slated to
Hernes Road Books
Powers presents another Imogen
Trager mystery, and
has the FBI agent thwarted by impossible circumstances stemming from
snafus. Readers of Imogen's other books (the one preceding Emergency
in particular) will find this story picks up with a bang as a current
which stymies her is overshadowed by President Diane Richmond's death
Is Imogen's conundrum
starting all over? In
many ways, it never stopped because it was never resolved, and this
only one portent of a terrible future that only Imogen can change.
Imogen once gave up on a conspiracy investigation, but it's evident that the danger still exists. Mistakes of the past looms over her present-day efforts as murder after murder take place while she struggles to follow leads that are mercurial.
add to the conflict, an
her protection. And she's still not sure she can trust him.
From rare friends in
the press and offers of
help from unexpected places to violent confrontations and gun battles,
agendas, and the long-term effects of living in fear for a prolonged
time, Imogen isn't the only one who makes sacrifices for her job and
country in this riveting thriller.
James McCrone excels in
unexpected, not just for Imogen, but in the lives and deaths of those
surrounding her. His ability to portray a heroine who makes both good
decisions, struggles to get her personal life and professional career
track, and faces the ultimate sacrifice as a result of her decisions is
well-done, providing many action-packed and unexpected moments
The injection of social
ramifications of FBI involvements in both the criminal and political
America is exceptionally well portrayed, as is Imogen's continuing
adversities, which tend to solve one problem while leading into another
Readers who enjoyed FBI
previous character and adventures will find Emergency Powers
conclusion from the prior dilemmas, providing an opportunity for
everyone to do
the right thing while licking their wounds. It also leaves the door
more. It's a hard-hitting political investigative thriller that is
and thoroughly engrossing.
Paperback: 978-1-61153-324-8 $14.99
Ebook: 978-1-61153-360-6 $ 7.49
contributes a fifth book to the Nicole Graves mystery series, but
as a fine example of women's crime fiction problem-solving at its best.
Nicole is assigned to solve the dilemma of a teenager charged with
her boyfriend, she becomes involved in an international incident that
thwarted by those who refuse to talk to an American detective, much
less a female
faces not only
mounting evidence against her young
client and reticent people who refuse to help her, but the possibility
she, too, will become the focus of a murder investigation. Further
matters is the fact that Abigail herself is defiant and unhelpful.
faces many choices on
how to handle this turbulent
scenario as it expands to involve dangerous perps and their deadly
games: "What to do? She’d promised Jerry that
if any new threat presented itself, she’d return to L.A. immediately.
Mohammed’s death was proof of the danger surrounding this case. But
badly wanted to remain in London so she could continue looking for a
prove Abigail’s innocence."
her first solo case
abroad go down in flames,
bringing her down with it?
Boyarsky creates a
clever, feisty, determined
investigator who continually challenges her abilities with new cases.
who enjoy detective stories powered by women who are astute and well
will relish Nicole's character and pursuits, and will find her latest
nicely developed and compellingly presented.
the perp also be the
victim, and a defiant
teenager at that, is the perfect recipe for a story line that is
emotional as well as criminal revelations.
value is provided by
exploring Abigail's perception
and reasons for her choices: "As the
flames danced, she thought about her predicament. Was there anywhere
go to get away from the trial and its possible consequences? With a
heart, she realized she had only one choice. The river Thames was
around here. She could throw herself off one of London’s bridges and
she knew she was too much of a coward to go through with it. Even if
what would be the point? There was still a chance her solicitor and
would find evidence to prove she was innocent."
result is a fine story
that is well-developed, filled
with intrigue and the unexpected, and presented at a pace that allows
strong character and setting development while maintaining reader
the end, making it a highly recommended addition to the Nicole Graves
and the detective fiction genre as a whole.
McKay never expected
to be the target of
terrorists...not in her staid life in a small town in Iowa. But when
soldier brother finds a strange rosary during his service in Iraq that
a global conflict, she finds her world changed in Missing
Peace, a powerful thriller about family life and belief.
K. Holt does an
outstanding job of depicting the life
of a woman inexperienced in global issues and threats. Centered by her
religion, her family, and her love for her brother's best friend, Janey
never experienced personal threat and faith-challenging circumstances
is ill prepared to
tackle a world that includes
visits by FBI agents, Middle Eastern radical group operations on her
and the unexpected results of a rosary website she was involved in
the fatwa against her world continues to change her views and
ability to survive, tests of faith and love stream through the story of
whose seemingly innocuous choices change everything.
blend of thriller and
personal struggles is well
balanced. Readers who choose Missing
Peace for its global thriller components will be well
satisfied with its
action and twists and turns; while others who turn to the story because
insights on faith and family transitions will be equally impressed by
character development and moral and ethical conundrums which are raised
course of an action-packed scenario.
takes time to explore
family connections and
experiences and Janey's newfound mission to fulfill the mysterious
promise of peace as she develops the kinds of strengths that allow her
confront enemies of this process while preserving everything she
dynamic creates an
absorbing, winning story that
proves hard to put down. Missing Peace
is especially highly recommended for readers of faith-based stories who
for a blend of action and spiritual and emotional enlightenment.
Murder Ballad Blues: A
Ebook: 978-1-7346371-3-7 $ 4.99
Print: 978-1-7346371-2-0 $14.95
Abit Bradshaw is
running for his life from
the man he and the FBI were chasing in the prologue (set in Kentucky in
of Murder Ballad Blues. As his past, present, and
future spin before his
desperate mind after he stumbles upon his prey and is hunted in turn,
story moves to seven months prior, in North Carolina. Here, a series of
mysterious deaths in the mountains involve the FBI and bring him into
with former crime reporter Della, whose latest fraud investigation
some unusual connections she didn't expect.
Abit has a theory, but
the FBI won't listen
to him. More are slated to die unless he can not only gain a
audience, but solve the crime wave that threatens a community.
The heart of Murder
in its connections to bluegrass music, which unexpectedly holds the key
solving the murders. Music is a family affair. Abit's wife Fiona plays
and sings, and their son is also taking up the instrument and joining
connections between safety and family, musicians, and musical culture
explored in the course of a stealthy, steadily-building murder
that draws in multiple characters, each with their own special
approach of this Appalachian-rooted murder mystery is Lynda McDaniel's
to alternate perspectives between Della and Abit. These changing
and observations are clearly identified in chapter headings, and lend a
tone of revelation and discovery that highlight both the similarities
differences between Della and Abit's approaches to problem-solving in
and life itself.
includes collective danger as Della deals with whistleblower Deep
a dangerous game with his mysterious communiqués (he doesn't know about
connection), and faces a confrontation with Abit before the murderer
components of each character are thoroughly explored as they fight
loneliness, loss, and helpless feelings in the course of their choices.
characters come alive not because of the mystery's overlay, but because
McDaniel takes the time to explore the wellsprings of their pasts and
reactions to adversity. What lends faith and encouragement in the face
devastation; and what influences create the type of 'justice' that ties
killer's logical process and mindset? These and other questions place
events above and beyond a simple 'whodunnit' mystery.
looking for a
murder mystery strongly centered in regional culture, the different
focus of two equally powerful investigators, and a puzzle that draws
far more than a singular investigation will relish this story's
tension. Its sense of place and people in a cat-and-mouse game that
over the course of a riveting mystery is designed to keep readers on
and guessing about the outcome to the end.
Not So Done
978-1735210803 $16.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Not So Done
blends time travel with an
international thriller to
produce a read attractive to fans of sci-fi and espionage alike.
does a fine job of exploring the murky intersection between science and
issues as he portrays Sam Sunborn, Rich Little, Michelle Hadar, and
Fermi's struggles to contain disaster.
victims of the futuristic crime of bodyjacking (stealing bodies and
minds in them) to virtual character Sam's involvement in the abuse of
technology that has spawned a crime wave of criminal kidnappers, Not So Done opens with a bang of murder,
deception, and virtual living. Levin evolves a steady stream of
chatter to engage and enthrall science-minded readers interested in a
hard science and edgy writing.
Levin has a degree in philosophy and 23 years of experience in tech
lends to a
unique approach that blends these disciplines in a compelling,
manner. Indeed, he points out from the beginning that all the
science, organizations, and global challenges covered in his fictional
are actually based on today's reality and possibilities. It's a
realistic scenario that evolves as Sam confronts his role in fostering
of virtual reality that is literally a killer achievement.
faces a deadly force in an international terrorist who joins with
white supremacists to pose a technological threat like no other. Time
literally not on his side as Sam pursues the scientific, social, and
conundrums and dangerous moves that threaten the world he's played a
engineers, and classified information to decoding routines that
the most brilliant minds, Not So Done
not only spins a good yarn, but keeps its action fast-paced by moving
character viewpoints. Like a good puzzle, each changing perspective
adds a piece
to the bigger questions evolving the story line.
first and third person narration will keep readers on their toes, but
seldom any question about whose point of view is being explored.
ability to provide a seamless interface during the course of telling
makes for a tale that is replete in attention-grabbing detail and
logical and entirely smooth in its revelations and mercurial viewpoints.
nicely crafted, and time is taken to provide background details on
psyches and environmental influences. Thus, Not
So Done's forays through software glitches, international
political intrigue are all well done and smoothly engrossing.
looking for a
fast-paced thriller which takes its time to develop multiple
solid science foundation for its action, and a concept that places
attempts on a different level than most non-science stories will relish
Not So Done for its well-spun,
page-turning roller coaster of action and possibility. It's very highly
recommended reading for techno-thriller readers who want their science
as the social and political intrigue.
Fakes a Miracle
Gerald Everett Jones
LaPuerta Books and Media
978-1733268448 $15.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Miracle supplies another Evan Jerome Wycliff mystery to
engage prior fans
and newcomers alike with the story of an amateur sleuth who pairs
jobs with a paying position as a guest preacher.
opening prologue doesn't
begin with Evan, however,
but the dilemma faced by a captive girl whose baby goes missing. As
to a convent, mysterious questions, and the threat of retribution from
emerge, readers receive a sense of things to come.
involved in child welfare issues, a
deadly human trafficking endeavor, and the threat from a luxury casino
run by a
Russian oligarch, he finds himself not only involved in the future of
people, but much broader questions that are steeped in threats and
Sometimes his probes even ignite and confront dangers from other clergymen: "It should have been a clue to Evan that the priest did not seem surprised. He cooed, “I can’t imagine who sent you to me or for what purpose, but your line of inquiry is misdirected, misguided, and frankly rude in its dishonesty.”
does the death of the
administrator of Flat Branch
Catholic Charities have to do with human trafficking and the dilemma
investigates? As church affairs wind into crimes and threats, Evan
his roles challenged in new ways as he struggles to find solutions to
ethical conundrums and help Melissa, whom some say needs an exorcism in
to keep from inviting the devil himself back into her world.
Melissa, her baby, and
her sister participate in a
dangerous game, Evan finds himself on a mission to help and heal an
situation that challenges not only his abilities, but his perceptions
again, Gerald Everett
Jones has produced a riveting
read in a character whose dual interests collide in unusual ways. He
outstanding job of slowly evolving the mystery on many levels, which
delight mystery fans seeking more than a simple 'whodunnit' approach.
and ethical considerations and church and health services processes add
riveting story that continually challenges Evan and his readers.
is an engrossing tale packed with twists and
turns that will keep readers turning pages and wondering at all the
until the end. Preacher Fakes a Miracle
is highly recommended for prior fans of Evan Wycliff, who will see this
character continually expanded and explored, as well as newcomers, who
need no prior introduction in order to find the story compelling and
Luigi N. Spring
Sacred Idol blends a detective's probe of a murder mystery
supernatural overtones in the first book of a series.
Judge (Keoni) is an
immortal man who was disfigured.
He uses his immortality to wreck vengeance on the descendents of the
ruined his eternal life. He cultivates a computer hacker's skills to
down, then murders them in one of the few actions he enjoys, these days.
rituals involved in his
actions lead homicide
detective Joe Adams to tap the skills of Hawaiian anthropology professor Dr. Kawika
Kinimaka-Ka‘ahalewai, a researcher
of nearly forty who never expected that his specialty in Hawaiian lore
of interest in a modern murder case involving ceremonial rituals.
true Hawaiian family
style, a circle of authors,
including his Aunty, become involved and contribute some of the clues
locating this dangerous "judge". But they are missing the biggest
clue of all—one which changes the game from a serial murder's pursuits
dangerous immortal's driving purpose in life.
story is steeped in
Hawaiian culture and focuses on
the professor's inadvertent exploration of a career far from the
library or the
researcher's desk, after the grief of losing his wife. Detective work
him "feeling frazzled" but also attracts him with a new job title.
The lure of problem-solving, using his specialty to contribute to
than a research paper, is a welcome distraction from his grief and
unexpected directions that challenge him to apply his knowledge in new
N. Spring's story
excels in unexpected twists and
turns. Although the reader well knows The Judge's background,
modus operandi, the characters trying to solve this homicide are
puzzled and thwarted in their inspections. Their usual approaches to
career are themselves challenged as they draw ever closer to The Judge
dangerous truth not just about his identity and operations, but the
possibilities of life itself.
atmosphere, and culture are fine
backdrops to the murder mystery and will especially appeal to readers
degree of knowledge about Hawaii, as well as many newcomers who will
that culture here.
day is an amazing
adventure that leads Kawika further
from his grief and staid
life, even into the possibilities of romance. An Indiana Jones-style
encounters keeps the action fast-paced and evolving.
an engrossing murder mystery with a difference will find the Hawaiian
circumstances surrounding The Judge's ritual murder spree, and
those who would stop him make for thoroughly engrossing reading that's
put down. It leaves the door open for further adventures while
pause and satisfying conclusion to the action in Sacred
979-8623796721 $16.00 Paper/$8.99 Kindle
All That Lingers
history from 1934 through World
War II and beyond, and is recommended reading for those who enjoy
World War II historical fiction and experiences captured from different
memories of displacement during the war are one of the facets that
story compellingly realistic. The juxtaposition of personal experience
political disaster is nicely narrated from the start, and is one of the
that flows through the story line as each of three characters builds a
different life from what is handed to him or her from the outside
world: "Unaware that trouble was only days
away, Emma was happier than she’d ever been. Once she might have
early morning emptiness of their street as gloomy. Now she delighted in
dawn dancing silently on the cobblestones. The howling winter wind at
window would have frightened her. Now she greeted its icy arms around
laughed. Even the scent of steaming bleach filling their small
morning was comforting in its familiarity."
signs of trouble in spreading political violence and social unrest that
the family's world, to individuals caught up in fighting that leads
them from a
world of comfort to struggling for survival on different levels,
captures the Nazi occupation and its aftermath. It cultivates an astute
showing how everyday people and families make choices and survive their
motivations, and their impulses are well developed and designed to draw
in, from Emma's initial delight with her life and comfort to the
all that is familiar among family and friends. There is a wide cast of
characters, both main and supporting. This lends diverse perspectives
experiences into the mix, to explore Viennese society and culture on
How do three
and their families survive unthinkable adversity? How do they
pieces of their world after war ends? As neighbors and friends
become something alien and feared; now, more than ever, Americans will
find much to recognize in this story of the past. There are also many
to absorb about choices and their lasting ramifications as they impact
families, but future political and social structures.
detail and strong psychological insights makes All
That Lingers persuasive reading even for those who may have
relatively little familiarity with Viennese culture or history. The
provides the historical backdrop necessary to bring those experiences
and is highly recommended for readers of Jewish experience, World War
history, and family survival stories.
Jeffrey W. Tenney
Whistle Creek Press
the second book and
companion to Caveman, adds to the
and returns the focus on archaeologist Trent Marshall's daughter Emily
Marshall, who successfully rescued her father in the first tale.
the cave that leads through time to 40,000 B.C.E. France, the entrance
she thought was destroyed. She discovers a new time-travel threatening
lives of the Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal peoples she came to love and
been killed over the cave secret Emily has been so careful to maintain,
could the threat still be on the loose, affecting her present and the
this bygone world, interacts with young Cro-Magnon leader Wouk (who was
raised by Trent Marshall and the Neanderthals, holding the ability to
both the Cro-Magnon and the Neanderthal languages, as well as English),
faces a new threat to her beloved time period, newcomers to the story
it easy to absorb past events and these newfound threats.
cultural anthropology comes into conflict with the realities of these
peoples and their interactions, Emily's choices provide fine ethical,
and philosophical reflections. These give readers pause for thought
story's action-packed adventures: "Emily
didn’t want this conversation, but there was a price to pay for what
want. “I suppose you could consider it purely a field of knowledge.
like philosophy. Most students these days go into applied anthropology,
Things like medical or forensic. In many ways, behavior in a complex
organization is not that different from the Cro-Magnon here.” “I see
very different." “So do I. I see you as a regressive. Killing animals
pleasure and viewing people who are different as inferior.”
captive of "the strangers" and Wouk is charged with rescuing her and
his peoples. Readers are led into a fast-paced story filled with
adventure, probes of family and community relationships, and the probes
woman whose professional and personal affinity for a prehistoric world
mean she belongs in it.
looking for a
story steeped in anthropological insights and fast-paced action,
a feisty female protagonist, will find Caveman's
Daughter compelling time-travel reading with a satisfying
978-1645480419 $14.95 print/$4.99 ebook
The Christmas Spirit outlines a dubious-sounding relationship between a brooding stranger and a broken-hearted woman searching to fill the emptiness in her life. It tells of Courtney Winston who really needs the spirit of the season.
It's a blend
holiday inspirational and romance that adopts a more detailed story
novels in either genre as it tells of a writer's choice to ignore
favor of a remote cabin retreat to both heal from her recent breakup
owner Peter keeps interrupting her self-imposed isolation and mission,
Mrs. Finn, cook and nosy dispenser of wisdom. Slowly, Courtney opens
to new possibilities—including emotional pain.
The Christmas Spirit
is a delicious story
of growth and opportunity
on all sides. It takes isolation, heartbreak, and a dubious reputation
turns them on end to inspect the wellsprings of influence and loss.
of holiday beliefs and traditions add depth to the story, seasonal
and a warm series of subtle reflections about belief, prejudice, and
to new ideas and emotions: "The Yule
Cat is a huge and vicious creature who lurks about the snowy
Yuletide and eats people who do not share in the festivity of the
Peter stood next to the tree, rubbing the end of one of its branches
his thumb and forefinger. “Many cultures across Europe have similar
of the Yule Cat, and all are based on the same principle—misfortune
those who refuse to carry the joy of the season in their hearts.”
read a Christmas story that doesn't adopt either a singular or formula
to its subject. Readers who choose this book for its holiday messages
surprised at the details explored in a evolving relationship which both
embraces and moves beyond holiday themes, while those who anticipate a
romance will find the added value in cultural, social, and
inspections to be pleasingly well-detailed.
risk-taking defiance of her family's ideas for her future to Peter's
pushing her beyond her comfort zone, this story embraces both holiday
and a growth process that begins with pain and prejudice and moves
outward into recognizing new opportunities: "His
gaze remained fixed on the fire. “Find a way to write what you want.
life and it goes by so quickly. You don’t want to come to the end and
regrets.” He turned to her, the firelight flickering in his eyes. “I
see you as an accountant.”
highly recommended read that embraces more than its title's promise,
making The Christmas Spirit an
story of growth that is much needed and highly recommended year-round.
Anna: Women of
Prairie Rose Publications
9781081299880 $12.00 Paper/$3.99 ebook
of Destiny features the educated female lawyer Anna Harrison,
in the milieu of 1880s frontier Montana Territory. Her latest case,
the only other lawyer in town, revolves around Jeremiah Brown and
Marcus, young men identified as actually being the notorious Tommy
Johnny Nevada—outlaws with a bounty on their heads.
takes their case and
discovers that Jeremiah is
trying to dodge the law until the statute of limitations on his crimes
out. She also discovers an unexpected attraction to him that threatens
her carefully cultivated and rare (for a woman) career, but her efforts
side of law and justice.
in love—much less with the
enemy. But their evolving feelings challenges their roles and
life, and as Anna and her ward Sarah ride out on a strange adventure,
emotions are deftly portrayed as both external and internal challenges
loom: "He could conceal that, however, and
appear simply charming and glib, when he wanted. Anna wondered if
was the real man, and if she’d just been reading more into him than was
there. She wondered, but she kept thinking, despite herself, of moments
his insights, his thoughtfulness, came to the fore."
unusual to have a
Western story feature a feisty,
educated female protagonist with a career of her own and the moxy to
the male world around her. Cate Simon does a fine job of weaving
broader considerations of women's independence, perceptions of changing
personalities and perspectives, and courtroom and wilderness dramas
approach crafts a tale
far more detailed than most
Western historical stories. While its complexity may stymie readers who
anticipated the usual formula production of either the romance or
genre, it will delight those looking for strong female characters whose
determination, observations, and achievements leave room for growth,
and revised trajectories in life.
courtship isn't just
a matter of setting aside her
abilities or her goals, but involves becoming more open to new
both within herself, as an accomplished frontier lawyer, and in others,
working to turn their lives onto different paths.
underlying story of her
relationships and prejudices
not just about men and criminals, but her fellow woman, are
well-drawn and compelling: "Anna
might have passed Nellie dozens of times or even hundreds, but she'd
her—all she would have seen is one of those
women. And a lady like she was didn't speak to those
women. It was the
way people looked through her on the street now, and she found herself
sympathy for the fallen sisterhood, for the first time. Many a formerly
"respectable" woman in her own situation, without the annuity and the
property her father had left her, or the too-generous insistence of
adhering to the letter of their partnership and continuing to split
fees—now almost exclusively his fees—would
have ended up as one of them."
result is a highly
recommended, unusual Western that
will reach an audience that usually doesn't turn to or read the genre:
searching for a frontier story of a different nature, where a woman
charged with cross-examining her own emotions and prejudices.
Hardcover: 978-1-951796-00-6 Price: $21.99
Paper: 978-1-951796-01-3 Price: $10.99/ $11.99 Amazon
Large print paper: 978-1-951796-02-0 Price: $13.99
Ebook (mobi) 978-1-951796-03-7 Price: $3.99
Ebook (epub): 978-1-951796-04-4 Price: $3.99
Nora could be anywhere in the world right now—jogging on a beach in the sun, for example. Instead, she's trapped in front of the television watching a football game "...like a skipjack tuna hooked on a long line." Dreams, reality, and sea images are captured in only a few short sentences to introduce some of the recurring themes in the poetic, captivating Cuttle, a 'fish story' of another nature.
Romance, family, obligation and dreams are some of the many threads that emerge as Nora contrasts the life she leads with the one she dreams about, eagerly grasping new opportunities stemming from her research on cuttlefish even as she struggles with patterns that lead to places she's better off avoiding.
Her tendency to overanalyze and focus contribute to both her success and failure, while her ability to think outside the box and weave delightfully surprising reflections into her story sets Cuttle far apart from any singular production: "What do you mean, separated? When?” “Six months ago,” I tell him. Eight for me. Apparently separation’s subjective; it doesn’t just happen when you make a decision or crawl out of a window."
As Nora's life evolves and her interplay with three seemingly dissimilar (yet disturbingly familiar) personalities is explored, her feisty observational focus and the juxtaposition of career and personal potentials keeps the tale lively. Fish metaphors and fantasy observations are peppered even into observations about work success and potential academic acclaim: "...academic ecosystems are always shifting, always devolving towards big bang-level chaos. Currently, most any position anyone can afford to take— teaching, researching, camping with the Galapagos tortoises—is a unicorn. “And you deserve a unicorn,” Jarod says. I wonder if this is romance, a statement designed to make me shed my clothes like a freshwater stickleback."
Nora's intuitive thinking and analytical prowess keeps her at the top of her field. It's also what keeps romance at bay. But part of her coping mechanism for over-performance lies in a circle of friends who help keep her grounded.
Her choices between 'safe' and edgy relationships, the foundations of her personality and life lived on the autism spectrum, and decisions made by Nora and those around her to change and take risks or remain in their comfort zones are nicely delineated and offer no pat or 'right' answers.
The supporting cast of characters is as complex as Nora, in many ways, and provide depth and contrast to her experiences.
looking for a
romance steeped in a vibrant personality's introspective genius and
of the sea world she observes and analyzes will find Cuttle
beautifully evocative work that lingers in the mind long after Nora's
blossoms and unfolds.
Robert P. Louden
opens in 1961, when the hope
of a new era is fostered,
and views life through the eyes of twenty-something Dan Taggart, who
himself changing politically in a way that departs from his family's
established views after the election of John F. Kennedy.
The world is
for a change, including that affecting racism and racial relationships.
on both sides of the issue are anticipating a different world after
1963 Birmingham and threaten to explode, a host of characters are
who hold different perspectives on the future of America and their
place in it.
an outstanding job introducing a myriad of observers of this process.
doesn't rest with a single perspective or even several, but blossoms
into a number of lives, cultural influences, and political processes.
coalesce to focus on radical events that drive the 60s changes that
America's values and trajectory on end.
Hollywood and its political prowess to the death of Kennedy and the
of drug culture from ghettos into mainstream American lives, Louden
the social, political, and family influences of the times using
vignettes of individuals changed from their set courses in life and
perspectives of the future.
is a story
that is firmly grounded in real people and events and flavored by ten
vast changes, from promise and progress to events that stymie positive
perceptions of the future.
All this is
strengthened by a variety of characters, viewpoints, and experiences
consider the foundations of historic revolutionary change.
ideal of equality before Martin Luther King Jr. is murdered and the
will change his life to finding revised ways to live, Generations
does more than trace the evolution of an era from 1961
to 1968. It points out the special circumstances which changed America
world over a period of several decades.
and political evolution will prove especially hard-hitting in today's
milieu. Generations is highly
reading for those who look for accessible lessons on how to survive
Original Thirteen Publications
Paperback: 978-1-7351139-0-6 $15.00
Ebook: ASIN: B08DP3FZMR $ 3.99
Ordering Links: Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08DP3FZMR/ Paperback:https://www.killarneytraynor.com/store/p10/JennyGoodnightNovel.html
tells of a tired missionary woman who becomes drawn into a town
between fiery newspaper reporter Uncle Matthew and the powerful
of the town of Legacy.
doesn't help her case,
when murder results, that she's
an assertive woman known for packing a pistol and confronting violence,
herself. When she becomes a suspect in the murder, Jenny is drawn into
investigation to save herself from hanging. Like her investigative
discovers even more layers to the town's politics and underlying
the more she pulls at the strings of possibilities and strange
Traynor creates an
involving, clever, assertive
protagonist in the character of Jenny Goodnight. The plot follows her special form
of frontier justice
and confrontation beyond the confines of the usual Western female
uncle wants to
reject her inclination to rescue
him even as she uncovers truths about his relationship with Underwood
secret that is being held over his head. More importantly, Jenny
that her own future and capacity to survive and live in this town
her ability to unravel a very strange and deadly truth indeed.
a missing letter to
another act of violence that
hits too close to home, Jenny perseveres against all odds, drawing
a Western scenario in which her strengths spill over into other lives
new possibilities not just for Jenny, but those around her.
big plus to the
story is the atmospheric
descriptions that create strong images of countryside and purposes: "I followed him down the narrow path.
The sun was descending, shafts of light gilding the rugged dark pines
bringing out the burnt orange of the landscape. We rode maybe half a
the arbor, then the trees gave way and the valley opened up before us.
squat building, weather-beaten and in need of work, was situated on the
plain, a barn just behind it. Beyond these, a creek wended its way
corridor of earth-clutching trees. There were more trees staked out in
irregular pattern on the far side of the house. Cattle lowed from
and Danaher’s nag whinnied in the paddock. It was a sweet piece of
capable of supporting a small family, and I wondered if that would have
the lovely Helen, had she not caught the eye of an Evans."
who like blends of
Western and mystery themes,
powered by an exceptionally astute female protagonist, will relish the
intrigue, atmosphere, and confrontational changes in Jenny
Goodnight, which is highly recommended reading for Western
novel fans looking for more than the usual male-centric focus.
Two Shadows Books
978-0-9985284-8-9 Price: 15.95
a historical mystery that opens in 1940s Oklahoma, at the beginning of
War II, and moves to California as a now-older Jane Guthrie recalls
during her thirteenth summer that have haunted her well into adulthood.
use of past tense and first person to provide a sense of immediacy to
experiences and memories as she reviews her life, an endeavor sparked
evocative, descriptive hand in this story that is compelling in its
voice: "Some days are like that, a splinter you poke
at with a
blackened needle till your nerves can‘t take it no more, and when all‘s
and done, you find you still hadn‘t rid yourself of the fool thing.
letters kicked off a summer of just such days. Thorny. Days tainted
temptation and transgression, desertion and death. All these years
remember them all, every last one. I know well enough that sometimes a
splinter‘s just got to work itself out, but as the decades are stacking
me, I feel compelled to hurry it along."
into the Oklahoma Dust Bowl experience, a journey to California's very
different culture, and Jane's observations of family and roots. Her
approach to life drives the human interest in her evolution and coming
age: "Our first day in California was almost gone by
the time I
got my first look at Sylvie and Louise. Looking back on that day, it
my mind like a three-act play. In the first act, we got a good look at
hot-blooded disposition. In the second, we got another glimpse of
mystifying abilities, for I swear, there was no way a person with
could‘ve told that girl in the gypsy camp was pregnant. And in the
third act .
. . well, as it turned out, the third act actually started out with a
that revealed even more mysteries about that woman I thought I knew so
Mama, Billy Lee, Sylvie, and others, Jane grows more astute about
the underlying forces that govern decisions and relationships in her
life: "I took the nuts Billy Lee handed me but
stuffed them in my
pocket, suddenly feeling queasy myself. Louise‘s worries were caused by
something happening thousands of miles away at someplace called Midway,
things happening close by caused mine. I really didn‘t care if Shasta
the egg thief, figuring Pig Man had more eggs than he needed,
especially if he
was feeding them to the wild pig. What worried me was why Mama was
protective of Slim. It pained me to think of a man other than Daddy in
This quiet observation style drives a powerful story of change, tracing a bygone era in American history and creating a compelling story that slowly reveals mysteries and haunting memories of the past that have reverberated throughout Jane’s life.
Readers looking for a generational mystery that embraces the 1940s and 50s in America will find Liquid Grace a compelling piece. It embraces a special style of lyrical observation and offers the immediacy of a first-person recollection that identifies the influences that lead people away from their roots and homes and back again.
highly recommended for its unique voice, sense of time and place, and
compellingly realistic survey.
The Ottoman Excursion
modern-day timelines together in a
historical story that at first seems a disparate set of very different
but quickly evolves to center on the wide-ranging conspiracy that links
who participates in a disaster relief team, a Russian major in charge
program to recover plutonium from old nuclear warheads, a Turkish
tasked with finding an impossible cure, and a young jihadist whose goal
move the caliphate to glory become immersed in political and medical
ideals, and ethical, moral, and spiritual behaviors embed the plot with
layer of philosophical and deep considerations of the long-held oaths
warriors passionate about their cause, along with others who stand
in the crosshairs of death.
The blend of
historical thriller with medical mystery is well done and fast-paced.
Pelkey takes the time to develop each of these very different
leading them through confrontation, love, danger, and changing minds
Readers become engrossed not in a single perspective of conflict, but
entwined destinies and observations of each person and their experience.
culminates in a predictable disaster doesn't prove the end of
the beginning—as Mehmet discovers when disaster moves him forward.
prior familiarity with or even interest in Middle Eastern affairs in
Turkish history in particular in order to find The
Ottoman Excursion compelling and easily understandable.
an attention to historical and political detail and a fast-paced series
encounters with death and confrontations with long-held ideals. This
keeps readers engrossed and guessing throughout the action-packed
captivating dance through danger and mystery that's highly recommended
readers of intrigue, international affairs, political thrillers, and
Thomas E. Sawyer, Ph.D., J.D.
PitBull Literary & Publishing Services
Paperback: 978-1-7327371-3-6 $14.88
Hard Cover: 978-1-7327371-4-3 $28.88
It should be
from the start that The Penetration,
fictional in content and character, is loosely based upon the real
that "...it is both conceivable and
possible that Communist China, Russia, and other foreign powers were
successful in recruiting Americans; including those individuals who,
may have attained lofty positions of power and influence in the
exactly how such citizens become operatives. This is the subject of the
compelling The Penetration, which
follows an ordinary American's recruitment and rise to power in a
represents the perfect model for becoming a mole. As liberal arts
attendee, Kim is interested in politics, languages, and foreign
his intellectual knowledge would seem to belay the possibility of
Kim in fact holds the skills and intelligence that lead him to fall
so is revealed in a compelling series of encounters that links Kim's
skills and interests to the bigger picture of a mole's gradual
and evolution. His desire to prove himself eventually justifies the
takes and the choices he makes which move him deeper into international
espionage, to work against his nation of birth: "At
the age of thirty-two, Kim felt as though he was on the verge
of a most successful and rewarding life. In particular, Kim thought
experiences in Prague had clearly shown his ability “to handle things.”
infidelity, and discovers a deeper danger in his wife's savvy knowledge
secret life, Kim faces even deadlier choices in his reactions and
values: "Jim is the only man I have ever
I married you for your family name and wealth. I took advantage of you,
took advantage of me; it was an even ‘swap.’ All you ever wanted in a
a ‘prop’ for your
career. I know that you never loved me, in the real sense, that is.”
not contest Cora’s statements; they were true. So he turned his back on
started to leave. “Just a minute, Kim. There is something else I want
to say to
you. I meant it when I said that there would be no divorce. Would you
know why? Well, your ‘other life’ has not escaped my attention."
connections to the KGB and his successful infiltration of American
to further conundrums as he faces a threat to the President, his wife,
other elements of his world.
excels at taking the realities of espionage and moles and injecting
them into a
story where the main hero is not the good guy, but one who has crossed
the dark side. Kim's choices and efforts are supported by
social, and political inspections which span the globe as he traverses
increasingly dangerous course with new KGB arrangements that pair his
ambition with political efforts to infiltrate and take over America.
of reality-based events, The Penetration
is more than just another thriller. It's an astute examination of a
under siege and an individual's motivations, choices, and the
his actions, which contribute to a greater game plan. All these facets
alive in fictional format, making for thoroughly engrossing reading
to put down.
$19.95 Paper/$29.95 Hardcover/$7.99 Kindle
Andy Parks is
a Vietnam War medic who
has survived his tour of duty—but not without deep psychological wounds
the death and destruction he's personally been a part of. Returning
demonstrators after this killing has stolen part of his soul is a
author James Ballard, himself a former Vietnam War medic, is all too
familiarity lends a somber,
realistic tone to Ballard's story of survivor's guilt, which opens in
Vietnam's Mekong Delta.
excels in capturing hard-hitting descriptions of the Vietnam
slogging through impossibly dense, humid, death-filled jungles to
ethical decisions that are anything but straightforward: "Andy
since grown accustomed to seeing dead bodies in the war zone. Once he
injected a dying Viet Cong soldier with enough morphine to hasten a
painful entry into death, then worried what he would do if one of his
members needed it. There were always decisions to be made in the Nam."
Many Vietnam stories
focus on the physical
and psychological challenges of surviving such an environment. Too few
deeply into the contrast between before and after, where the
different kinds of struggles and decision-making processes which become
serves to emphasize that
the return home, for soldiers who survive, is just the beginning of a
that affects not only the soldier, but his family, friends, and
come: "It was like saying goodbye to a doomed man. Even if he
the war, Andy knew young Avery would suffer and bring it home with him."
From the lasting impact
of Agent Orange and
the death that awaits them when they are "safe" at home in the U.S.
to the effects of poverty, racism, and war on soldiers who find
tough situations with few options and no respect for their term of
Ballard's story of psychological and physical survival is riveting,
it's set in-country or in the USA.
reconciliation of his experience and, most importantly, its cost and
lends a philosophical, reflective tone to this story of adversity and
healing: "...the survivors were like
the Mekong itself, branching into ever-changing tributaries and
moving towards the expanse of the sea to join with the rest of
is a hard-hitting,
powerful story not for the faint
of heart, but for those who would gain realistic, engrossing insights
on how a
soldier or medic can reconcile Vietnam experiences with the return home
psychological, social, and medical challenges that continue to send
through the veteran's life.
It's a thought-provoking read from start to finish as Andy finds his way through more than one jungle and struggles to find renewed meaning in his life as a Vietnam survivor.
Jungle is highly
recommended for new
generations, who will receive a heart-stopping story of adversity,
and social reflection.
Quiet Hero: A
Novel of Resistance in WWII France reaches
readers of World War II historical
fiction with a powerful story of French patriots General René Carmille
aide Miriam Dupré. They are aware that time is running out to thwart
plan to use the census of Jewish individuals to locate and eliminate
throughout the European countries they now control.
is based on
the true story of General René Carmille's efforts and achievements, and
makes accessible to a wide audience the revealing story of a big
connections to genocide, clarified in a prologue to the novel: "Throughout
WWII, IBM and its subsidiaries maintained an uninterrupted and
business with the Third Reich. The Third Reich’s economic success and
success of the Reich’s Final Solution rested on a foundation of slave
this history, including videos
and source material, create a fitting introduction to an involving saga
opens with "My name is Miriam
Meijer. I am twenty-seven years old. This morning I killed a man. A
agent put a Luger to my face—screamed he would kill me. I stabbed him.
immediately. I fled to escape arrest. I killed the agent in
it weighs heavily on me."
to personalize history
through the eyes, minds, and hearts of fictional characters provides an
immediacy and compelling tone to this story. It will reach not only
followers of World War II accounts, but those who don't typically pick
reflective, poetic, and revealing
as the story unfolds, injecting philosophical moments with metaphorical
description that supports the underlying moral and ethical
events and character choices: "The
blade caught, reflected, a beam of light from the reading lamp at the
the couch. I rotated the blade. It reflected the beam, like an ethereal
presence, from wall to chair to ceiling. Like the soldier’s pistol, the
and the blade did the bidding of the hand that held it. I stared at the
What might I ask of it? Today, nothing. Tomorrow?"
approach, too, sets the
story apart from many other
World War II explorations, adding literary embellishments to strengthen
history and social observations.
result is a very
different perspective on the times
that blends ethical considerations with historical events for a
involving, and thought-provoking read.
is highly recommended not just for World War II readers, but those who
interested in the interconnected subject of ethics and wartime events.
audiences will find the story, characters, premises, and strong female
protagonist to be thoroughly engrossing.
Webb House Publishing
978-1-7352860-4-4 $29.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
readers will welcome Roseneath for
its engrossing story of
surrounding Georgia Pritchard, who discovers a dead child in the attic
new dream house, but can't confide in her husband...because she's
about what he is turning into.
story opens with an
archangel who mourns both a death
and his inability to build his heart's desire—a family. He knows that
has conjured a new form of evil, and that the death of this mysterious,
beautiful child he holds has altered his destiny, as a result.
of solitude pass in
the deserted house Roseneath
before the archangel returns to find that his brother Lucifer has been
in it once again, leaving behind a malignant, growing force that
re-enact the horror that happened at Roseneath so long ago.
forward to Georgia's
world. She is pregnant, and
feels shackled by its connection to an entity she has come to hate in
of her husband Nathan. Meanwhile, he puzzles over her nightmares and
distance: "Their embrace was a cruel
mimicry of the casual possession that years of marriage had forged.
the familiar entanglement, their limbs now seemed at war with each
night, he tried desperately to hold her together, all the while her
body seemed determined to fly apart. His hands searched in vain for the
on the cruel snare that held her, but her pain was a relentless,
devouring her one small piece at a time. Each night ended as it began—a
maddening, Sisyphean endeavor. Nathan didn’t sleep anymore, not in
not in their bed."
the story unfolds from
different perspectives, the
horror grows with a satisfyingly slow build that evolves from
different descriptions of the same events.
might expect events to
come solely from Georgia's
viewpoint, but Nathan's perspective is nicely wound into the story
is an outstanding approach that adds details into the evolving horror
stems not just from his choices and actions, but his thoughts: "You’re
just trying to do what’s best. There’s no harm in that. And it’s not a
really. A lie of omission, not much of a sin at all. And of course
understand. This is how you give her everything she ever wanted, isn’t
juxtaposition of these
two very different experiences
creates an exquisite interplay that heightens tension, adds complexity
horror component, and draws in readers with an approach that proves
hard to put
down: "I guess when you decide to
rule in hell, can’t be too picky about the help.” The horde drew back
the wall, surged up it, cowered on the ceiling like a colony of bats.
froze in her mouth, a primal, prey instinct warned her to hide it away,
deep inside where the thing across the room couldn’t find it, couldn’t
it. It wasn’t until the moment he turned and caught sight of her, that
realized how gracefully, how consummately Nathan had worn his own skin.
body without the man was just an unrecognizable shell, that his soul
that precious frame to bursting and without it was little more than a
the truth about Roseneath
and Nathan and Georgia's
different roles in the house develops, readers will be surprised and
by the twists and turns Dana McSwain cultivates. These are the
hallmarks of a
solid literary horror page-turner that makes Roseneath
a highly recommended pick for horror story readers
looking for exceptional works based on more than just heart-stopping
and supernatural encounters.
A Vegas Publisher, LLC
provides a satisfying
prequel to The Missing Driscoll art
and explores the life of Boston debutante Maud Driscoll, who finds
alone and pregnant in Paris when her baby's father is murdered. As she
cultivates her artistic talents, gives up her baby at birth, returns to
to a failed marriage and dreams, and goes back to Europe to find solace
painting once again, the rudiments of an artist's journey emerge.
from 1953 to 1889 and between Europe and America in a satisfying manner
clarified by chapter headings identifying place and time. Readers are
left to wander or wonder, and will appreciate this clear approach to
present-day affairs with choices of the past which resonate with
Fabris does an
especially notable job of exploring different characters in the story,
Maud's evolutionary process to Peter Wells, who buys a mysterious
an art store, only to discover that its background story is even more
surprising than he could ever have suspected. Forced by an art dealer
authenticate the subject of John Singer Sargent's undiscovered
probe into the past reveals an underlying story of sacrifice and
holds many astonishing connections to present-day family entanglements
As the story
through the years and juxtaposes Peter's search and revelations with
Maud's life, Paris comes to life in the course of a journey filled with
unexpected revelations. Fabris takes time to build this sense of place,
is also a fine embellishment to the story line: "A
year later, Peter again found himself in Paris. It was July 14,
Bastille Day, and Paris was celebrating on this warm summer day. He was
enjoying his lunch at a sidewalk café, reminiscing how similar it was
one where he had his first job. The pâté was excellent, and he savored
bit of it spread on the remains of a baguette.
He polished off the last cornichon, and squeezed the lemon
rind into his
expresso when a young woman stopped at his table."
From a war
crushes communications between Europe and America and changes
and relationships both in families and in the art world, to Maud's
journey away from art and back again, Sargent’s
Lady is a full-flavored story that will especially delight
who like stories about the wellsprings of inspiration and life
adversity: "The colors also leapt off the
canvasses Maud painted. She had been reborn. The smell of turpentine,
linseed oil were like the finest perfumes to her. Her studio, almost as
the living room, was filled with easels and paints and paintings."
different generations changed by war and the contrasts between Maud
and Lillie Doty's experiences and lives is particularly
well crafted as each cultivates different emotional reactions to
is a fine
stand-alone story and a fitting companion to The
Missing Driscoll. It's a tale of family ties, choices and
consequences, war, and art that is highly recommended for its ability
in the mind long after family affairs and artistic revelations are
of the Deep
Blue Sea is a historical romance set on a Pacific island
during World War
II. It explores the lives and evolving mystery and connections
sailors, Bart and Olafson, and a girl, Saya, who navigate the
waters of change and love.
doesn't expect the
opening scene of a boat crossing
the Pacific to enter the war, harboring a would-be murderer and a
victim who is equally determined to survive the passage, but Jack
London opens his story with a captivating diary entry of soldiers and
adversity, and combat encounters on more than one level. These
further layers of confrontation to a saga that holds many flavors of
a counterfeit order
scam and Smith and Gretel's
discoveries to war, slavery, the actions of Suzy the spy (which land
prison) and war heroes who survive Japanese internment camps, Shades of the Deep Blue Sea creates a
satisfying blend of military and social engagement that injects moral
ethical dilemmas into its wide-ranging story of confrontation and
readers absorb the
mystery surrounding Sullivan's
disappearance and court proceedings which seek to uncover the truth,
receive an engaging inspection of promises, journeys, and one man's
the future, which is realized in unexpected ways.
of the Deep
Blue Sea cultivates many different angles, from war history
to romance to
prisoner treatment, cannibalism, and survival against all odds. It
singular military or social inspection, but combines elements of each
the backdrop of a love story.
Shades of the Deep Blue Sea
recommended reading for
anyone seeking a multifaceted romp through World War II.
978-1645480556 $11.95 Paper/$3.99 Kindle
Sisters of the Moon
is a novella set on
an island in Lake Obersee,
where the order of nuns, The Sisters of St. Gertrude, reside.
charged with tending to the nuns and their cats, but spends her spare
researching the island's history in the library, looking for answers
surrounding the mysterious forces which seem to cohabitate with them on
island. She was traded into this position by her family, whom she
they never anticipated that her new role in life would embrace a
that portends a very different fate than that of being an indentured
As she moves
being shunned by her family and being "nothing" to becoming the
pivotal force in an ancient struggle between good and evil, Durra
everything she's been taught in order to not only face dangerous
hidden secrets in the hearts in those around her: "The
admission was not something she had expected. Emily always
seemed like someone only out for herself. That she had wanted to spare
friends reassured Durra. It meant Emily was not as cold and indifferent
came across. A kind heart hid beneath the covering
of a wolf."
Weis does an outstanding job of painting
succinct, hard-hitting scenes that carry Durra from a new role in a
a more active position confronting supernatural forces and long-hidden
that could change not just her life, but the world.
is well done, and while the mystery is predictable, at times, it holds
surprises readers will find satisfyingly well described. The pace and
provide a fine blend of mystery and supernatural confrontation that
readers engaged and involved.
Sisters of the Moon
represents a fine
example of the use of the
novella form at its best. It creates a superior blend of action,
mystery, and evolving
protagonist dilemmas and growth that will keep readers on their toes
involved up to the story's epilogue of unexpected lessons in survival
Sisters of the Moon
is highly recommended
for those who like their
supernatural mystery stories to embrace a sense of character growth
fine line between good and evil proves more mercurial than most.
Price: $10.99-print (book); $2.99-ebook (Kindle)
Website/Ordering Link: tdholt.com
world in turmoil.
America teetering after the last
presidential election. COVID-19 and racial issues permeate the news.
a rumor emerges about a technology that can take down the
run through the life of Pete (the
protagonist), carrying him to new places as he falls in love with a
black woman, Sophie, who helps him root out the
surrounding the potential Internet-busting
discovery of a
new sub-atomic particle.
has many careers to his
name, from expertise in Army
intelligence to legal and scientific backgrounds. These make him
qualified to embark on a world-hopping effort to locate the source of
threat to technology. But he meets his match in the lovely Sophie, who
introduces a spiritual component into his life that he's long rejected
she keeps his affections both returned and at a professional
the two explore the
threat, its secret keepers, and
each other, readers receive an adventure that focuses on their evolving
abilities and attempts to come to terms with both a threat to society
obstacles to building a meaningful relationship.
of thrillers and
romances will find threads of
each theme, but should know that T.D. Holt devotes
consideration to exploring both with a depth and attention to detail
places the plot firmly in the realm of those who like
tension and intrigue.
characterization is well
done as Pete is forced
by Sophie to examine his prejudices, preconceived
notions of love and
romance, and spirituality. The action, too, is nicely developed as the
world-hopping adventure moves from their evolving relationship to
knowledge about the particle's properties and
political and terrorist
threats that can change the world.
really just a singular story,
but draws together the threads of two disparate lives who join together
purpose that changes them both through a process of discovery. The real
is not just in the circumstances surrounding the mysterious threat to
Internet, but in the efforts of Sophie and Pete to form a lasting
and bond that supports the individuality they have each long cultivated.
creates an exquisite
psychological dance between
these two characters, as narrated from Pete's perspective. Pete's
self-deprecating humor over being a "dork" with ex-Army intel skills
but not quite as strong relationship skills and little spiritual
creates a powerful story.
looking for the
trappings of a thriller that are
firmly rooted in relationship developments and challenges will find Threads a
wonderfully complex story. It follows the underlying influences of
perspective, and spirituality to reach a satisfying conclusion.
highly recommended for readers who
want the psychological and romance component of their thriller stories
strong or stronger than the action.
John M. Millar
$26.95 paper/$39.95 Hardcover/$7.99 Kindle
Wars Among the
Paines is an epic story
about the effects of wars on generations of the
Paine family, and follows the family's evolution and changes through
I and II, Korea, and Vietnam.
impact of each of these wars on the Paine clan and its trajectory is
a series of letters and first-person insights that start in 1975, with
Paine II's journey to visit a mother near death and a letter to his
sister. The Vietnam War divided them as ideals fractured family
and his letter, sent on the eve of their mother's death, recaps events
1968, when Vietnam politics drove them apart: "We both were
our convictions and our righteous paths to meet those convictions. In
you took the higher road and made the greater sacrifice for our
note of intrigue about
the Paine family's close-held
secret, kept even from his wife all these years, begins in this letter:
have never shared with my wife my past life in Menschville and
Vietnam. She believes that our mother
is dead. I know I want her to go to Mother’s funeral, but that means I
have to tell her our family history, a family that had everything and
with nothing. It is something I know I must do to be honest about my
past. I am
afraid that the fact that I have not told her about our family may
happiness. She will either hate me or love me more. I am afraid to find
powerful opener to the
story grabs reader attention
from the start, but it's not the story's only strength. Equally notable
M. Millar's ability to satisfyingly juxtapose the different wartime
on politics and conflict with a family's hierarchy and evolution.
by winds of change
and conflict, the Paine
family moves from generation to generation with a perspective and focus
continually changed and challenged by the specter of each very
somehow interconnected, war.
no easy task to
intersect the routines of daily
living (courtship, love, family connections) with the broader influence
social change over a period of many decades. Millar achieves this
first-person discussions and descriptions that move from as light a
an outline of school grades to the weightier topics of ethical, moral,
point and counterpoint
brings with it another
revelation that changes the epic Paine family's odyssey. Each involves
in the different long-term impacts of these wars. And all contribute a
piece of understanding to the greater whole, slowly revealed in
that move through a brother's loss to cultural changes and the
ability to adapt to these transitions: "We
had never really discussed what it felt like to be Eurasian in a mostly
world. When we met, I sensed her loneliness here at Cornell. I think I
relate to it because I felt it when I enrolled here. The difference was
was in the wine cellar with guys that looked like me. Then I joined
100 more guys looked like me. I doubt that there was one other Eurasian
in all of Cornell’s 10,000+ students."
result is a sweeping
saga rooted not only in war and
family history, but social change. Its inspections will appeal to
novel readers who look for more of a psychological inspection of many
over a period of time than a singular story of one war's lasting impact
Wars Among the
Paines is highly
recommended reading for its long-range forecasts
of evolving social and family circles.
She Writes Press
978-1-63152-745-6 Paperback: $16.95
What’s Not Said
will appeal to urban
women who like fun stories of
cityscapes and interpersonal relationships. It follows Kassie
plan to divorce her abusive husband and move in with a younger man. But
claim of suffering from chronic kidney disease temporarily stymies her
she discovers the truth, making her escape plot all the more important.
What’s Not Said
is about deceit and lies
in marriage, secret lives
and vows of fidelity and loyalty, and the kinds of decisions an older,
long-time wife faces during the process of exploring new options and
several unexpected turns, each revelation bringing its own decision and
life-changing choice, readers follow the trajectory of a self-admitted
perfectionist who is used to doing the right thing even when that
Mike, too, is
facing changes as he examines the future of his life, both in sickness
health, and muses on his new options and restrictions: "Did
he have a choice? Not a good one anyway. So Mike, outnumbered
and defeated, grabbed the TV remote, clicked on
Andrea Mitchell, and ate his lunch; one bland spoonful aft er
another. Not half bad. Not half good,
either. Is this
what I have to look forward to the rest of my life? Good grief. Soon,
Mike surrendered his mood to sleep. At last."
immersed in image and success. When Kassie discovers his big stash of
money, the marital game changes for both of them. Kassie is a neat
to order and control in her life. Can she grasp something that is
of the zone of familiarity she's built with Mike over the years?
With aging and new restrictions as new possibilities, Mike and Kassie
their decisions, discoveries, and field the obstacles of health and
Readers will find in their story an absorbing tale of mistakes, looming
divorce, love, and the kinds of concessions demanded by health changes
revised form of affection.
conundrums, illicit associations within and outside of the family
discussions of organ donor challenges, and a mother and daughter's
which impact across generations. "What if..." is one of the major
threads connecting Kassie's life with those around her as she explores
new possibilities and strangely altered realities.
readers who look
for "chick-lit" about mature women facing changes in their lives and
loves will find What’s Not Said
develops good characters and realistic scenarios, creating encounters
the action nicely paced and the characters believable and appealing.
It's a fine
examination that covers changing scenarios, ideals of loyalty and love,
drive of each main character to find something more meaningful and
than they've experienced in the past. What’s
Not Said is highly recommended for women who look for not
just stories of
marital relationships, but the unexpected revelations that revolve
purpose and the immortality of love.
Wife in Bangkok
Iris Mitlin Lav
She Writes Press
978-1-63152-707-4 $16.95 Paper/$9.49 Kindle
Wife in Bangkok
is a novel about a journey made by a wife with traditional values, who
with her husband from their comfortable Oklahoma home to Thailand when
company sends him overseas.
depression, and the growing
realization that her life choices are not what she would have made had
choice in the matter, Crystal has hardly any options, fewer
feels increasingly trapped.
isn't all about
adversity. It holds a special
kind of beauty and life lessons she wouldn't have absorbed in the
safety of her
American home. Still, as she struggles with issues of security and
her new environment, deals with servants and help she's expected to
interact with, and increasingly sees that her marriage is broken and in
trouble, Crystal is forced to make adjustments she never could have
growth process she
experiences by being an American
wife transplanted to the alien culture and conditions of Bangkok makes
mesmerizing story that follows the logical progression of her evolution
astute attention to detail and psychological development.
Mitlin Lav's story
excels in its survey not only of
Crystal's emotional condition and growth, but in its portrait of the
people and their world. Readers absorb a depth of discussion surprising
usual novel, which imparts much information about Thai lifestyles and
added focus on Crystal's
evolution and the process
whereby she heals, makes new decisions, and cultivates new
icing on the cake of understanding, on many different levels. While
seem complex, the story is also involving and hard to put down.
of how Crystal and her family
interact in their new world, forming revised purposes and ideals for
future, are creatively, evocatively crafted through descriptions that
the heart: "The Carrol family
launched their kratongs to join the others. Even Brian was taken by the
and helped the children float theirs. Crystal certainly
needed the water god to float her own troubles away. She formed a
prayer in her
heart. Please, may I find a better way
to live here. Please, may the problems between Brian and me go away."
looking for stories
about female psyches,
development, growth, and change will relish the inroads into
positive choices that are cultivated and explored in A
Wife in Bangkok.
Dr. Charles Margerison
Amazing People Publications
978-1916372702 $9.80 Paper/$6.22 Kindle
Amazing Stories from the Streets is a collection of everyday peoples' life experiences as narrated by Dr. Charles Margerison, a psychologist, who ventured into local pubs, restaurants, and gathering places, in many countries. He conversed with people in a quest for life stories that never made the newspaper headlines.
from the Streets is
celebration of efforts, perspectives, and choices in life that one
receives from mainstream media reporting. Here you will meet ‘Lady In
‘Mizzie From Mississippi’, ‘Stranger My Brother’, and other fascinating
The stories explore the realities of adversity and survival. These include the author's own childhood memories of surviving World War II bombings in England. He poses the thought-provoking question, "What can you do to prepare for attacks in your life, which could negatively impact your career and family situation?"
Through these valuable life stories, you can learn how to improve your own life. Fortitude and heroism is demonstrated on many different levels. You can gain pearls of wisdom about life, and society as a whole.
Each story opens with an overview of setting and place, moves into a poetic structure, and concludes with thought-provoking questions. These invite readers to relate the basic experiences and messages of others to their own life choices.
Themes of war and peace, choices and judgments, highlight principles that influence better ways of living. Inspirational lessons are imparted in this blend of free verse. Black and white line drawings provide visual support.
The blend of philosophical, ethical, and moral issues sets this story collection apart from most others. The book creates solid themes and approaches to living life, that go beyond academic inspection and presentation.
Readers who appreciate the free verse structure, will appreciate the solid grounding in life experience in these pieces, as well as their opportunity for absorbing basic life lessons.
from the Streets is
recommended for two audiences: those who wish to chart a better life;
readers of social affairs who want applied insights into life's
resulting choices in how to live. It is inspirational reading at its
is easily accessible.
Okay (When You're
Bryan Bushman, PhD
You're Not Okay): A
To Decrease Suffering And Develop Acceptance narrows its
self-help focus to
the subject of accepting life challenges and pain during the process of
overcoming physical and mental anguish. It is a top recommendation for
who want to move past suffering.
offers ways of making life
better. Wallowing in and focusing on pain makes it worse. The steps to
into awareness are outlined in chapters that examine not only how to
acceptance, but the elements involved in this revised approach to life.
metaphors for direction
and the principles involved
in these choices to understanding common self-imposed barriers to this
Dr. Bushman is specific both in his admonitions and exercises: "It isn’t that pragmatism or realism
are always a problem, but the realism we embraced may have been a
the service of avoiding. If I roll my eyes and think others who are
are “quaint” or “naïve”, then I can spare myself potential pain. Too
surrender self-direction because we’re too worried about
Instead, we accept stagnation, and then, strangely enough, become angry
confused when we become adrift and directionless."
is an inevitable
byproduct of life, but it doesn't
have to be the primary force directing its progression. Even the title,
Becoming Okay (When You're Not Okay), acknowledges
that underlying pain is not to be ignored or rejected. Instead, it can
incorporated into the bigger purpose of moving away from being mired in
negativity, moving into a life which incorporates pain while adding
approaches to solve problems and achieve a better state of mind.
specific steps form a
blueprint for success that
will be appreciated by any reader who tends to wallow in pain while
clear way out. They excel in exploring and explaining the difference
bigger-picture thinking and becoming bogged down by present-day pain,
crafting approaches that are especially recommended reading for
self-help and inspirational book readers who too commonly receive
admonitions not backed up by actual step-by-step processes.
will be especially appreciated
by those who know how limiting and narrow is the vision created by a
state, and how valuable is a roadmap away from it, adding an extra
possibility to alleviate suffering.
Paperback: 978-1-7350538-0-6 $28.00
Ebook: 978-1-7350538-1-3 $16.00
Compassion Mandala: The Odyssey of an American Charity in Contemporary Tibet details fourteen years of the author's experiences in Tibet helping Tibetans overcome extreme poverty.
Pamela Logan formed a nonprofit group to lend humanitarian assistance to Tibetans under Chinese rule, which gave her a close vantage point from which to observe social change and the Tibetan struggle under Chinese authority.
Compassion Mandala is a blend of social inspection, memoir, and history. It covers the peoples of Tibet and how they have fared under China’s rapid development, and should be required reading for anyone interested in the region's interactions in general and Tibetan history and culture in particular.
As chapters survey development challenges and document Logan's travels through the country, readers receive insights from a series of personal encounters that are vividly narrated and socially, psychologically, and spiritually revealing: "To me, bushido and Buddhism didn’t seem far apart. As a martial artist, I sought to transcend my ego and face my fears through the practice of simulated combat, passing through a veil of fire into a place of joyous release. Zen practitioners might compare that to satori, imperfectly translated as “enlightenment” or “liberation.” Followers of Tibetan Buddhism seek to overcome mental obscurations, leading to an understanding of emptiness and the true nature of reality, a state of continuous bliss sometimes expressed with the same words: “enlightenment” and “liberation.” In Tibet and other places that practice the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, practitioners seek liberation not for themselves, but for the sake of helping others."
Logan’s personal observations of daily life in Tibet and revelations about the challenges Tibetans face are particularly insightful and specific: "Visiting nine schools in four counties, Griffin found that kids loved our Children’s Fun Science series thanks to the cute pictures on every page, but the rest of the news was not good. Our second series, titled Window to Science, was being read at only two schools. At all the others, the books appeared untouched. When Linda asked why the books weren’t useful, teachers seemed embarrassed and insisted that they were using them, even though the books appeared pristine. Griffin learned that the science books were gathering dust because primary school pupils could not read Tibetan well enough to make heads or tails of them."
The fundamentals of grassroots organizing, budgeting, providing effective assistance, and the problems of operating programs in other countries all contribute to a full-fledged discussion about the ideals of aid dissemination versus the practicalities experienced by aid workers on the ground. These notions are relevant to a broader discussion of the value of basic literacy and education in communities where hunger runs rampant.
Economic progress has a long way to go in Tibet, and Chinese oppression continues. Even though KhamAid’s work has ended, this chronicle of ordinary people’s relentless efforts to improve their lives offers hope and insight that go beyond a factual telling of Tibet's current conditions. Logan’s memoir is a call to readers to become involved in their own compassionate efforts.
Mandala is a
inspirational survey of how first
one woman, then a group of committed individuals, made progress against
overwhelming odds in a nation crushed by poverty and
culture and people in a way that few other books achieve.
COVID-19: What It Is, How to Avoid It,
How to Survive It
Peter Kent Consulting, LLC
ASIN is B08C5K6YYW $4.69
some of the
information presented here about
COVID-19 will be obsolete as time goes by, requiring an updated
today, in the throes of a pandemic, many a reader will want to consult Coronavirus & COVID-19: What It Is, How
to Avoid It, How to Survive It for a specific overview of the
puts, in one place, the latest knowledge about the virus.
there's been plenty of
media coverage on
coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and COVID-19, and pandemics. But they hold so
conflicting information and approaches that the average reader is
confused. That's why having details in a less dramatic book form is
at this point, and is essential reading for anyone concerned about
book opens with a basic
definition and history of
COVID-19's roots and birth, reviewing facts, refuting misinformation,
discussing the possibilities of illness and how to survive infection.
different virus names and
defines them in a history of their appearance. Specific mention of
between them that often miss journalistic reporting offer invaluable
understanding. Next, comes a review of virus biology in general and
history in affecting the human race, before chapters turn to the heart
matter—why coronavirus is different, and what readers can do to avoid
illustrations of the virus, its
carriers, and what is known as well (as what remains unknown) about
mortality rates and
comparisons to the flu to
healthcare system limitations, how much virus is needed for infection,
public restrooms and cleaning habits, and homemade hand sanitizers, Coronavirus & COVID-19 covers
assesses all possibilities and dispels many myths.
of the information has
already been updated since
the book's initial writing began, while website links to research and
included, which hopefully will provide further lasting references that
updated as the situation changes.
a lot of information
about COVID-19 in the daily
news, but readers who want it all in one place, with a clarifying
information that make it easy to understand, should place Coronavirus & COVID-19: What It Is, How to
Avoid It, How to Survive
It at the top on their reading list.
information-backed details explain everything
from the very simple process of effective hand-washing to how to
infection. Essential reading for modern times.
Little Book of Wisdom
Raab & Co.
978-1-7352490-0-1 $19.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
of Wisdom: Earn More, Achieve More, and Live a Good Life
advice from a father who passes on the wisdom he wished he had as a
It is recommended reading for anyone who would absorb the lessons of
from those older and wiser.
as a book of advice
to the next generation, Dad's Little Book of
Wisdom blends a
chatty tone with memories and vignettes that embrace topics ranging
financial savvy to cultivating persistence in setting and reaching
incorporating long-term planning into short-term experience: "If you dedicate four hours a day
toward a vital skill for five days a week, that’s twenty hours a week.
maintain that for fifty weeks a year, you will reach 10,000 hours in
This is why mastery doesn’t happen overnight but after a sustained
adults who regularly interact
with young people will find Dad's Little
Book of Wisdom not just the perfect gift book, but a point
for many topics that can open up new avenues of wisdom and connection
a healthy degree of
business acumen within the
advice—it's not all about ethics, morals, or setting goals; and can be
specific, such as the section about encouraging a collaborative
atmosphere: "I’ve found it helps to craft a
agenda and issue it days in advance of the meeting, ideally as part of
meeting invitation. This helps all attendees know what to be prepared
discuss and what prep work they should do in advance. If there will be
people, I use introductions at the beginning to set the stage for the
At the end, I make sure we determine the next actions. Everyone has put
their valuable time. Make sure something comes from that investment!"
far as the ideal age
range of the reader, think the
thirty-something professional or the twenty-something just getting a
adult responsibilities and approaches. The insights in this sage
aren't limited to a ten-year age range, but hold potential for
several generations who are at pivot points in their careers and
college to finances and
entering and excelling in
the business world, these examples and tried-and-tested paths from
experience prove invaluable not just because of their direction, but
they cover potential pitfalls and how to avoid them.
sage voice of experience
can save a lot of time and
trouble. Dad's Little Book of Wisdom
is highly recommended for any young person open to learning from the
forge more efficient success in their present and future. It's
reading at its best.
GET IN THE CAR, JANE
Billy Van Zandt
Van Zandt/Milmore Productions
978-1734401714 $17.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
GET IN THE CAR, JANE!
Adventures in the TV
is a memoir
of TV experiences from an Emmy-nominated writer and producer who spent
making sitcoms. It blends a sense of whimsy with insider observation to
a compelling read that is unique and educational, all in one.
Zandt met and
worked with some of the great actors, actresses, and entertainers of
from Lucille Ball and Brooke Shields to Alan Arkin and other
artists. These encounters depict experiences that are hilarious,
filled with Hollywood insights. The anecdotes offer testimony to the
sometimes uncertain, relationships between Hollywood writers and
blend this wry humor into stories that are revealing and fun, whether
talking about people, politics, or methodology : "After
six episodes and a weekly firing of perfectly good writers,
the writing staff consists of just Jane, Bruce Ferber, and me. We’re
go home only when it looks like rain, because our boss doesn’t want her
bolts of collaborative writing are also presented in exposés which are filled with not just fun moments,
but insights on the process of creative producing: "With
Shawn and Marlon in the Writers’ Room, we’re able to try out
bits to see if they work before we finish writing them. It saves a lot
It’s eye-opening, too. Me: “We need a list of WASPY white guy things
joke to work.” Shawn suggests: “How about if I call him a
baloney-smelling…” Me: “Baloney what?" Shawn: “Baloney-smelling. All
guys smell like baloney.” A pause, then he adds: “Except you.”
the realities of struggling to find a
decent premise under deadline and handling actors and actresses to
shows and enjoying the fruits of making them, GET IN THE CAR, JANE! captures the humor and paths of creative
Hollywood writing like no other book on the subject.
nuts-and-bolts Hollywood writing experiences and fun industry
especially recommended for aspiring writers who want to get a sense not
Van Zandt's life and encounters with the famous, but the specifics of
writing and producer relationships.
It's a fun, inviting
way of absorbing this
atmosphere through the author's personal journals, creates a fine "you
here" series of encounters, and should be required reading for aspiring
students who want a realistic flavor of Hollywood behind the scenes,
writer's point of view.
Mary Choy, PharmD, BCGP, FASHP and Michele B. Kaufman, PharmD, BCGP
The Medical Careers Guide is the first book to gather the
almost thirty different kinds of healthcare professionals, who reveal
follow in their footsteps in a given career. Unlike more singular
which focus on one healthcare objective, this offers students a rare
opportunity to contrast these different choices for a better fit
skills, work environment, and alternative options that students and
not know about.
is written by two board-certified clinical pharmacists who are
that explore the process of adopting academic and internship paths that
Nurse Anesthetist to Medical
Imaging Technologist, Biomedical Engineer, Osteopathic Physician, and
or Vet, Healthcare Heroes covers
quite a wide range of career options that fall under the 'healthcare'
Each profession receives a clear overview, including educational
responsibilities and requirements, career outlook, and a concluding
similar careers that students can check out to expand their options.
its wide-ranging and
clear presentation, Healthcare Heroes
is highly recommended
reading...a 'must have' educational reference for high school career
collections, adults who want to help any teen, or for adults looking to
Become Extremely Wealthy
Lulu Publishing Services
Hardcover: $59.00/Paperback: 24.99/Kindle: $9.99
Extremely Wealthy sounds like it will parrot so many other
'how to get
rich' books already on the market, but anyone who chooses it will find
James Elleyby cultivates a different interpretation of and approach to
that embraces a unique perspective.
It's a lesson in gratitude and positive attitude, eschewing the usual focus on money matters alone to document the presence of wealth in all kinds of endeavors and approaches to life.
logic is impeccably
explained from the start: it's
difficult to accumulate wealth if the correct mindset is lacking.
maintains that a wealth builder first needs to tackle one of the more
challenging, less-addressed jobs on the list: revising one's mindset to
"...deliberately readjust your thought
process, if you are to order and manage and attract the other dollars
you." This approach involves appreciating what one has before
financial and personal goals for the future.
chapters unfold, Elleyby
winds a basic ethical and
moral perspective into the effort of gaining more wealth, connecting
pursuit of money to the pursuit of happiness in a richer, more concrete
than one would expect from a book with this title.
a brilliant move,
drawing the financial and business
planner in with the promise of 'extreme wealth', then adding insights
satisfaction, gratitude, giving, and generosity into the mix of advice
making more money.
states that "...no
one owns money. We are only managers of its flow" and he also maintains
that "It's very easy to bring in lots of money...It was designed to
freely and casually. You must cultivate the right mindset regarding
the tools are here for
and living that ideal, which embraces money-making on far more than a
business readers may
pick up the book anticipating
a guide to investments or financial planning, they'll receive so much
winning promise to not only make more, but do better with what you've
highly recommended for those who would accept lessons on more mindful
along with concrete advice on handling not just money itself, but the
of making and using it wisely.
Know You By Heart
Cresting Wave Publishing
978-0988904873 $14.95 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
Know You by
Heart: Navigating the Dementia Journey is more than
just a chronicle
of caregiving. It outlines the entire dementia experience, from first
to progressive challenges.
should there be yet
another book about dementia and
caregiving? Because Angie Swetland incorporates spiritual and other
her story that are rarely found in other caregiver accounts. But, most
it's applauded for its underlying tone, which is one of encouragement: "When our cognitive gifts are depleted,
and our memories are gone, we are still wholly and substantially the
creation we have been since the day we were born. Understanding this is
to communication and respect for those who have dementia."
challenge of a caregiver
lies in supporting new forms
of communication and respect under changed conditions. I
Know You by Heart provides a navigator's roadmap to making
kinds of changes that keep life engaging and meaningful throughout the
ever-changing challenge of dementia.
identify key reflections, feelings,
and points for greater understanding throughout the journey, using case
histories and discussions: "These
feelings may be present not only in Lewy body disease but also in other
of dementia. Frustrated when unable to find possessions they have
angry at their confusion, irritated by their own ability to remember,
may lash out at others."
to other books
and literature holding
additional insights link resources together for readers who want to
further: "Those who receive this
diagnosis themselves are doubly devastated. How dreadful to know that
need you daily will someday no longer be able to rely on you. Still Alice, a novel by Lisa Genova,
explores young onset thoughtfully and compassionately."
physician approaches and patient
experiences to changing relationships within families and with loved
those diagnosed with dementia must come to grips with the fact that
longer are support providers, but need help themselves, I
Know You by Heart details all the underlying psychological
struggles that too many dementia stories miss.
weaves these accounts
into a larger spiritual overlay
and a survey of how a caregiver can draw from overall history with a
sufferer to rebuild or create new connections based on past joys: "Ask yourself, what did your mom do
to help you when you were upset? If she sat you on her lap and sang to you, try a hug and music. If she made you a cup of cocoa, make some. These things mean comfort to her."
specific tools for
re-establishing connections that
are positive and meaningful are all here, in a guide that addresses
obstacles and specific steps for overcoming them.
Know You by Heart
is highly recommended reading that should be tops on any caregiver's
Train - A Rail Journey Across Canada
Robert M Goldstein
Rivendell Publishing Northwest
Print: 978-0-9763288-5-8 $15.00
Ebook: 978-0-9763288-6-5 $ 8.99
The Last Passenger Train -
A Rail Journey Across
Canada joins other
outdoor odysseys undertaken by Robert M. Goldstein and opens with an
'temple', the Union Train Station in Toronto, Canada, home of the last
transcontinental train in the country.
nearly-deserted station an hour before he is to board. This affords him
time to describe its beauty in detail, leading readers into the world
rail journey before he even gets on the train.
Part of the
compelling pleasure of reading The Last
Passenger Train lies in its ability to present a "you are
feel to the journey, making at-home readers feel like they, too, are
undertaking Goldstein's rail excursion. His ability to describe the
smells, and sounds of every facet of the trip makes The
Last Passenger Train a wonderful armchair read: "At 9:00 p.m., the Great Hall is nearly
deserted, seemingly occupied only by our echoing footsteps and the
roller bags from a handful of potential passengers in the vast chamber,
dimly lit and looking more like a mausoleum than a train station."
this equation of attraction lies in the story's personal touches.
includes the kinds of social and interpersonal interactions which are
hallmarks of a journey. These lend additional emotional draw to his
account: "Where are we? I grab the map from
little holder by the side of my bunk. Have we reached Rupert’s Land?
rolls her eyes. After 40 years of friendship and a year of marriage,
me well. I need to know where I am. I attribute this to a genetically
programmed instinct that clicks in when I am traveling, particularly on
train, though the phenomenon also occurs in cars and, with the advent
seat-back viewing screens, on airplanes. On a train, one must have a timetable and a map.
Without these indispensable tools of the control freak, I become merely
Nervous Nellie, furtively glancing about, not sure where I am."
As he views
passing, changing countryside from the train window and remarks on the
sounds, and politics of Canada, readers are drawn into a story that is
thought-provoking as much as observational. It's refreshing to read a
journey that begins with the ride and moves into the kinds of
changes that take place in the traveler as he moves through his
Too many pieces focus on the journey and destination over the inner
and changes that travel brings.
of Canadian subjects will be the most logical readers of this
anyone interested in journeys, changes, and relationships alike will
find The Last Passenger Train moves
documenting a single travel experience to reflect on broader issues.
is a compelling rail journey that readers are invited to experience
On With the
Hekla Publishing LLC
On With the Butter! Spread More Living onto Everyday Life presents an inspirational admonition to make the most of each day. While this may seem to mirror many, many other motivational books already on the market, Heidi Herman cultivates an ability to do more than provide encouraging words, but includes the tools needed to develop and support this attitude.
title of this book comes
from the author's Icelandic
mother and an old Icelandic expression that means “carry on,” “keep
you’re doing,” “forge ahead,” or “keep moving.”
Herman absorbed this message and its practical
applications at an early
age, and pinpoints the crux of the issue, for others less familiar with
teachings: "We’re reminded to take
advantage of the days we’re given, but how exactly do we do that?"
Exactly how it's done is the focus of her book.
chapters survey this
philosophical attitude and how to
learn its applications, readers receive a remarkably astute probe of
living a better life. One example of this process stems from
opportunities in life and "just saying yes" to them. From cultivating
the kinds of spontaneity and surprises that translate to added joy in
(because "welcoming unplanned
adventures is good therapy for us") to volunteering for work
passionate about, these offer concrete strategies rather than ethereal
means that potential
readers of On with the Butter! need
to be prepared to do more than absorb the
underlying messages in this book. They need to be ready to act on them.
locating the life
coaches who can help re-inject a
playful, spontaneous, creative spirit into one's life ("If
you’re out of practice and need some help, spend time with
playful people. Children are especially good at playing.") to
inspirational timeline of growth sparked by a year that Herman dubbed
“Never Too Old” year" (in which her family and her mother purposely
embarked on shared new experiences together), On
with the Butter! is packed with methods for making the most
life. The message is all the more powerful for the fact that the
mother formulated it after recovering from a stroke at age 92,
93 new activities experienced between her 93rd and 94th birthdays.
reading for proactive, engaged
readers who would grasp these lessons with both hands and apply them to
their own worlds and opportunities.
True Adventures of Gidon
Lev: Rascal. Holocaust
978-1735249704 $16.95 Paper/$5.95 Kindle
of Gidon Lev: Rascal. Holocaust Survivor. Optimist. takes a
approach to exploring Jewish Holocaust history in following the effects
Nazi concentration camp Térézin (Theresienstadt, near Prague) on the
life of Gidon Lev, who was a child when he was incarcerated.
100 children survived
out of the 15,000 imprisoned
in the camp, making Lev one of the very few to emerge from its walls.
story doesn't end there, because Gidon did more than simply survive his
He thrived, cultivated an optimistic outlook on the world, and
adventures that involved him in two marriages, a late-life romance, and
Israel's birth and meaning to the Jewish people.
who pick up this
story for its satisfying blend
of Jewish history and biography will find Gidon Lev's story
just because of the tenacity of its subject, but from his involvement
building a new life for himself and the Jewish people around him.
Julie Gray moved to
Israel from Los Angeles in
2012, fleeing heartbreak and loss. Two months before her arrival, Gidon
lost his wife of forty years, which was a blow to his entire family. He
determined to take the time to write a memoir of his life experiences,
result, on the eve of his encounter with Gray, who saw this newfound
fruition in this book.
the especially challenging
role she assumed in translating Gidon's life for the world, placing it
proper perspective: "The Holocaust
has not defined Gidon’s life—he has not allowed it to—yet he found
feeling responsible for conveying his experiences at the hands of the
Even so, he didn’t want that terrible experience to be the focal point
life story. For me, this was sometimes tricky to navigate. I felt
as a curator of Gidon’s Holocaust testimony, as well as of his many
sometimes painful life experiences. I did not want to cause him or his
any more pain or grief than they had already endured."
driving force of his
life story is not your usual
Holocaust history or autobiographical reflection, but a solidly
life-affirming perspective that is as much a celebration as a tribute.
to imagine? The
language of the story comes to life
in unique ways, as in this example of Gidon's encounter in a very
kibbutz than he'd experienced before: "The
members of the kibbutz welcomed us very warmly and went out of their
make us feel at home there. There was not a single area of this
that did not need help, and we had all come to do just that. Whereas in
Ha’Zorea everything was well established, organized, and order ruled
here in Zikim, everything was, to put it mildly, fluid."
of Gidon Lev is very much a collaborative effort, as author
historical background, cultural insights, and reflections to support
quotes and memories, so that non-Jewish readers can readily understand
underlying influence and meaning of his experience.
a pleasure to read a
Holocaust story that is a
standout not just because it serves as another important invitation to
and understand the atrocities of the past, but a lesson on how to
present and reform the future. Given the repressive forces at work in
times, we need the lessons
in The True Adventures of Gidon Lev:
Rascal. Holocaust Survivor. Optimist. now, more than ever.
is a highly recommended
memoir that rises above and
beyond politics, Middle East history, or autobiography alike to reveal
one man took to move beyond an incredibly difficult childhood of
My Journey of Love, Resilience, and Alzheimer's is
highly recommended reading for both caregivers, friends,
and family members of people with Alzheimer’s or other chronicle
adults and seniors in general. It's an intimate, whimsical, and yet
story of the author's 9 years of progressively challenging care for a
diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Well Spouse asks
the hard question of how a 'well spouse' survives being a caregiver and
to someone with such a devastating, deteriorating condition, and it
retrospective review of events that especially challenged and changed
author's life. JoAnn Wingfield hopes that families, caregivers, and
similarly challenged will find nuggets of wisdom in her story that will
them on their own paths to support a loved one. And she wishes that her
will heighten society’s awareness of the struggles of family
caregivers—particularly the spousal caregiver.
to this story is that it alternates between first-person memories and
person, using poetic, lyrical description to capture the interactions
challenges that Alzheimer's
introduces into the relationship: "People are not able to choose their
own birth and, for the most part, not able to choose their own death,
thought, but I will choose how to love and how to live, regardless of
happening in my life. That is exactly what I will do! She searched for
soul, for a sign of recognition and the assurance of his love. She felt
flicker of it, or did she? But it was hard to catch, it was hard to be
and it slipped away into obscurity just as quickly as it sparkled in
darkness, before she could catch it, before she could be certain."
cultural revelations, where JoAnn Wingfield's Chinese heritage injects
of solutions and problems that are different from Western thinking.
descriptions offer thought-provoking insights into how methods of
problem-solving are influenced by cultural perspective: "After the incident
at the luau in Hawaii when the man had yelled at me for allowing Clyde
into the men’s room because he urinated on the floor, I told Joy,
that although Clyde was still physically healthy and active, I could no
take him out because of his confusion about using a public restroom.
you take him to the women’s room?” she suggested. “Most people wouldn’t mind. I know I wouldn’t.” In
the eyes of Chinese people, Westerners are open-minded—maybe too
in matters of gender propriety. In China, at least during the time I
growing up, there were expectations for how boys and girls should
according to their clearly defined gender roles: no boys wanted to play
band skipping, which was played only by girls, and no girls wanted to
Clothing should not be too revealing—definitely no cleavage showing,
Chinese mind had not allowed me to think in such a deviant way until
now: if I
didn’t want to give up all normal activities, if I didn’t want to stop
places with Clyde, if I didn’t want to be confined within the high
walls of the
big-and-beautiful house, I needed to have the courage to break the
segregation of public restrooms."
the approach and theme of this story of an Alzheimer's patient, his
social and cultural encounters beyond most caregiving books. It
additional dimensions of challenge and understanding that enlarge the
circumstances and considerations of managing an Alzheimer's spouse's
ethical considerations of this process are particularly striking: "This
war was so much more personal, with no possibility of winning, and with
prophecy of its ending. As Clyde’s protector, guardian, and well
one who continued to be in love with him, I wanted to shield him from
sufferings, I wanted to take him away from the world of afflictions,
wanted to end his misery. Nature, or God, did not let us choose our
it is we human beings who have given away our right to choose our own
the ultimate destiny of death. I wished for an enlightened world where
could be allowed, and afforded the means, to leave this world without
agony and with dignity."
Black and white photos of the couple enhance a different kind of caregiving story that is highly recommended reading for mixed culture relationships and well spouses who face the challenges of caring for a loved one.The Well Spouse: My Journey of Love, Resilience, and Alzheimer’s
9798643592846 $12.95 Paper/$6.99 Kindle
Got This!: An
Action Plan To Calm Worry, Fear, Anxiety, And Stress provides
readers with a concrete course of action based on cognitive behavioral
therapy techniques to reduce stress and anxiety—and in these
times, it's a
divides the day between
morning, evening, and daily action steps. Linking the many elements of
action plan to a typical day's encounters melds action to experience,
for a far more accessible, easily digestible method of learning new
account opens with
personal moments of crisis and
challenge and then surveys the emotions and reactions associated with
situation. It lists cognitive disorders and questions for
achieve a more balanced perception of life, advocates absorbing and
positive affirmations to change conditioning and destructive patterns
reaction to adversity and stress, and it includes visualization
reinforce these revised approaches to daily life.
who want to cool
down and foster a calmer
perspective about life will find these stress-reducing techniques and
insights on how to handle adversity and worries to be specific, useful,
adaptable to just about any situation, large or small.
series of empowering
routines, carefully crafted for
all-day applications, provides a solution-based plan of action that
creativity, adaptation, self-examination, and change. This will
readers from specific problem-solving approaches to revising one's
tendency to worry and build stress over life's challenges.
who tend to be
hampered by their own thought
processes and reactions will especially welcome this action guide to
different attitudes that will serve them better, overall, than the
to build stress through worrying.
don't have to have
any prior knowledge of
cognitive behavioral therapy techniques and philosophy to appreciate
accessible the specific routines and tools in the highly recommended You Got This! All that's required is the
willingness to put changes into place through exercises and reflective
Brattle Publishing Group
A Basketball Story About the Meaning of Team lives up to
its subtitle's promise with a powerful focus on middle-schoolers ages
whose captain and top player began with high hopes for the season, only
his team repeatedly fail on the court.
face their biggest rival with a chance to get back on track...but
only if they can come together to do something different. And star J.J.
confronts losing not only his team, but his identity and other
readers of 1 for All who hold a prior affection for
basketball will find this story vividly captures the dilemmas,
failures of the game. Even more importantly, it captures the backroom
struggles, and approaches of teammates and coaches alike as it outlines
dilemma and evolving determination to support his teammates: "J.J.
stepped forward. “You should leave now,” J.J. said. He felt confident
first time in a long time. He knew he was doing the right thing. Big
glowered down on J.J. “Who do you think …” J.J. didn’t flinch, his
flowing out in a stream. “Leave, or we’re done, and things get messy
Principal Dell sees that video, and it’ll be online by tomorrow
Belcher Motors has a website, yeah?”
illustrations, tense descriptions of interactions and games,
and traps in playing and personality clashes make for a vivid story of
struggling team finally comes together, with a number of surprising
spicing the story.
McCollum pays special attention to interactions and politics
between players on and off the court as he draws the tale of winners,
and the evolution of the Musketeers’ style and newfound objectives.
realistic, pointed examples of changing directions will enlighten and
middle schoolers who will find motivation and insight into not just the
but the special abilities of players who contributes to it, but need a
picture vision of roads towards success.
result is a middle-grade read that is realistic, vivid, and
captures the strategies, challenges, and dilemmas of players, managers,
those involved in building basketball dreams.
embellished with colorful watercolor paintings by retired NBA star Jim
line drawings by Rachel Luman. These enhance a gentle, lovely picture
haiku poems describing various mammal babies and how they bond with
mothers through nursing.
an ocean mother's
"flippers that stroke the
sea" while her calf nurses, to a hungry little hippo that "guzzles
milk" underwater, Phoebe Fox provides a fine celebration of creatures
share this special bonding experience.
diversity of selected
animals, from manatees and
hippos to possums, alpaca, giraffes, and kangaroos is to be commended,
with the terminology that helps even the youngest reader identify
names for different animal babies ( 'joeys', 'crias', and 'calves').
You Know?' facts at the
end of the book provide
added details about each featured animal and how they nurse, while a
bibliography of reading resources, for both natural history and
offers parents and children the opportunity to learn more.
Jim Fox's gorgeous paintings are as powerful as Phoebe Fox's gentle descriptions of each animal pair. Together, the two have created a gorgeous book, perfect for reading aloud to the very young, that encourages gentle contemplation of breastfeeding's special bond between babies and mothers.Babies Bond
978-1-64548-008-2 $16.95 Paper/$8.99 ebook
The Bone Carver
is a followup to The Night Weaver,
expanding the story of
Rachel Cleary, who
continues to come into her own powers and abilities as she maintains a
to leave the town which keeps drawing her back into a dangerous mystery.
trajectory for college, which feels threatened by her insecurities and
knee-jerk reaction panic attack to taking the SAT, when suddenly her
no longer solid, but fluid with possibilities.
Readers of The Bone Carver
ideally will have
absorbed Rachel's initial challenge, success, and persona in The Night Weaver, which will add depth
and understanding to her reactions in this second book.
from both familiar and strange places: "One small setback and you’re ready to push
the self-destruct button? Shame on you, Rachel Cleary. She
however, overlook the fact that Cameron was always there.
He usually lingered in the background, just watching her.
Granted, this could’ve been her imagination, some residual paranoia
Night Weaver had stalked her. Either way, Rachel didn’t know what to
the Fae both threaten and change her college trajectory as Rachel finds
confronting both unwanted gifts and a spate of accidents that
up a body.
Orion Nebulius gone, unlike in her prior encounter, Rachel and her
school friends may be helpless to confront what the threat come. Rachel
has her hands full caring for her Mom at home.
The tone and
presentation of this story lends to its pursuit by mature teen to new
audiences: "Something inside her
mind clicks, like rusty cogs being forced to turn after years of
and then gives way. Too fast to fathom, she clashes into another,
different mind. How she’s done it, she can’t explain, but she grabs
sliver of darkness that doesn’t belong and the intruder jerks back. She
into the black tendril and doesn’t let go, afraid of missing an
teach this Fae a lesson in boundaries."
and death to unholy creatures, the mature themes of this engrossing
fantasy place it in a category that will especially appeal to ages 16
evolving and coming into her own powers. So is the ongoing threat she
along with fellow senior students and the town as a whole. How can she
town when it needs her help to survive?
dark fantasy are in for a treat with a heroine who is also finding her
adulthood through her fears, choices, actions, and evolving goals in
of Lost Animals and the Kids Who Rescued Them
Diane Trull with Meredith Wargo
Citadel Press (Kensington Publishing Corp.)
Websites: http://meredithwargo.com/ and https://www.dawgsntexas.com/
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dawgs-diane-trull/1132251038?ean=9780806540344
DAWGS: A True Story of
Lost Animals and the Kids
Who Rescued Them
is an inspirational series of first-person stories about lost animals,
and building a rescue center. It is recommended reading for dog lovers
young readers alike, who will learn important lessons about how kids
can make a
teacher Diane Trull's fourth-grade reading class saw a photo of a
containing homeless puppies. The students decided to rescue them—a
blossomed into a mission beyond a single attempt, birthing the Dalhart
Wellness Group and Sanctuary (DAWGS).
their teacher create a sense of community awareness about stray dogs
an out-of-control problem as rescue volume escalates, readers are
more than a story of kids involved in animal welfare in a saga of a
center which faced eviction and many challenges to its existence.
surrounding animal euthanasia and preservation to the political
conundrum of support
versus tolerance, this story embraces all kinds of challenges to animal
management. The story will reach a wide age range, from middle school
adults interested in animal rescue and the daily challenges of
color photos abound in a tale that is inspirational, heartwarming, and
educational. DAWGS is a key
acquisition for anyone concerned about animal shelters, rescue
the nuts and bolts of daily challenges to operating them successfully.
Did You Say
Pasghetti? Dusty and Danny Tackle Dyslexia
$9.95 Paper/$14.72 Hardcover/$2.99 Kindle
Pasghetti? Dusty and Danny Tackle Dyslexia tells young
picture book readers
that "Everyone needs to find the
special way that their brain learns best" and advocates
kindness, and different approaches to fostering both. It follows
his best friend Dusty the dog in a humorous examination of not just the
of struggling with learning, but the associated emotional trials that
story is narrated from
dog Dusty's perspective as he
tries to help his beloved human. Danny likes school at first, but he
seems like many different obstacles to success, from not remembering
rhyming words to mixing up letters, reading aloud too slowly, and not
understanding math problems.
Danny's dyslexia problem
is revealed, Dusty longs to
help his beloved human companion solve his problems. But, how?
with good reading
skills will benefit from parental
input and assistance as they absorb a lesson in self-confidence,
different approaches to learning.
Els provides colorful
drawings of boy and dog
which bring these dilemmas and their relationship to life, while
questions presented after the story encourage conversations about not
dyslexia and learning abilities, but handling emotions that arise
process of overcoming adversity.
who want to teach
kids more about learning
disabilities, fostering an atmosphere of acceptance, problem-solving,
understanding will find Did You Say
Pasghetti? just the ticket for an educational conversation,
with a child newly diagnosed with learning challenges or a peer who
Matthew John Echan
978-1-938480-57-7 $15.99 Paperback/$0.99 ebook
Snyder has been told he's going
to his godfather's house in Missouri for a visit, but he's actually
to a Baptist reform school for wayward children, more like a prison
complete with fences and abusive overseers.
he faces repressive
brutality, God-driven admonitions
and sermons, newfound love, and threats to his safety and health, Sam
forces with others hatching a dangerous escape plan and comes to
own connections with God and the contrast between Biblical teaching and
reality of his situation.
John Echan uses the
first person to capture Sam's
observations, feelings, and experiences. This lends a personal touch to
story (which is based on true experience), involving teen to adult
readers in a
saga that contrasts questions of faith with issues of brainwashing.
inclusion of fellow
students on both sides of the
equation who either embrace and accept the program or reject its
nicely done: "I wasn’t too happy
when I first got here
either. All I can tell you is your mom is just trying to help you, and
you like this place or not, you gotta try to find something good in it.”
Sam learns to call his
keepers 'Mama' and 'Papa' and
accept some of their teachings, he begins to sift through those which
God's will versus something different. He maintains his drive for
the rules and structure changes and he cultivates a taste of
possibilities: "It hit me as I lifted my hand
waved back why my stomach was all bubbled up in knots and crap. I was
sitting on a bus, about to leave Mount Zion for the first time since my
had dropped me off. Victory didn’t really count, cause it was just
campus down the road. This was different. This was out of the SHU and
genpop. The land of the living. The real world. The other side of the
covering the hole we were living in. Out in the woods, where anything
possible. Freedom was so close I could taste it like a nine volt on my
hard lessons on how to
quit cussing to Mount Zion's
dangerous environment and possibilities alike, Echan creates a
character in a rebellious young man who struggles to find his way in a
his "moms" has committed him to.
these methods and
results of religious brainwashing
are revealed, readers are encouraged to consider the difference between
teaching faith and brainwashing efforts. This fosters a deeper
God's will as Sam and his peers make decisions beyond escape that move
Matthew John Echan is
a board-certified behavior
analyst and education consultant for emotionally disturbed children and
individuals with developmental disabilities. This lends more emotional
and psychological insights into Sam's story than might be expected,
compelling story of survival, faith, and religion used for both good
Will is a
thought-provoking story of good intentions gone awry and a bad boy's
right some serious wrongs. It will captivate readers with a special
of 'bad boy' Sam's ability to perceive and do the right thing under
repressive conditions that operate under the guise of a good approach
better life. God*s Will is highly
recommended for its thought-provoking considerations of morals, ethics,
Nancy Kunhardt Lodge
Softcover: 978-0-9960885-8-9 $14.99
Hardcover: 978-0-9960885-9-6 $21.99
Kindle: 978-1-7352241-0-7 $3.99
book in the
Lucy Nightingale series for middle grades is illustrated by Christopher
Hilaire, who provides lovely, full-page color drawings complimenting
Lucy hears a
child crying behind a wall only by accident, when she lingers behind
museum field trip gone awry as a class visit dovetails with the
aftermath of an
reveals a form of evidence the police missed, uncovering a mystery that
charged with solving with her special abilities, along with cohort and
friend Sam, who has joined her in forming S.L.A.R.P (Sam and Lucy’s
Research Project) to identify and investigate puzzling phenomenon.
As the two
contemplate the addition of Tommy, whose father is involved in the
secret, the investigation becomes one of evolving conundrums. The
tasked with a mission to identify the evil mastermind who stole the
painting with the purpose not of making money, but taking secret
shapes out of the painting's windows to build a dangerous machine.
idea of gravitons and a plot to suck the universe into a black hole,
children widen their probe to embrace not just the unlikely, but the
impossible. Lucy journeys other places to encounter Wilbur in a
lovely descriptions that keep readers involved and engrossed: "A swarm of tiny, glinting mirrors
whirled around her, spinning a blinking web of light. The photons
faster and faster, lifting her up and up until finally, they reached
surface of Phorxys. They burned a hole in the ice, lifted Lucy out of
water, and vanished in a trail of glittering light."
healthy dose of scientific possibilities wound into a thoroughly
plot every bit as involving as the old-time Danny Dunn adventures, and
investigative as the classic Encyclopedia Brown: "Sam
composed himself. “Mycroft Goat invented the Copenhagen
Interpretation of particle interaction: Quantum particles exist in all
states at once.”
fans of Lucy's adventures in The
Crystal Navigator and Mona
Lisa’s Ghost, as well as newcomers to her
and adventures, will find The Gravity
Thief alluring and thoroughly engrossing reading. It's highly
for middle graders, who will appreciate the peppering of colorful
embellishments in a fast-paced blend of intrigue and sci-fi.
Cresting Wave Publishing
may be waiting from the time he gets up in the morning, in
fun picture book story, but that doesn't mean he's inactive.
he waits, Harrison
lives his life, hanging out in a
wheelbarrow heaped with hay, watering plants, having breakfast and
playing. While it's clear that he's waiting for something, Harrison is
interacting with the world. This message about an approach to life
more value today than it did only six months ago.
what Harrison waits
for has nothing to do with
COVID or restrictions, it does illustrate the possibilities involved in
building a life not just around anticipation, but meaningful activities
undertaken during the process of waiting.
Hagen's realistic, fun
drawings are excellent
accents to a story that holds more meaning than she probably intended
originally, in a story not just about waiting for something coveted,
but how to
wait more effectively.
Empire Studies Press
Ebook: 978-1-952520-00-6 $12.00
Paperback: 978-1-952520-02-0 $19.00
Boatman's Daughter features
original illustrations by rising
young artists Serena Malyon, Niklas Frostgard, Oliver Ryan, and others,
bringing to life this young adult historical novella of a feisty
who becomes the pivot point in a whirlwind of political strife and
enjoy epic stories of adventure and confrontations on many levels will
Illustrated Boatman's Daughter a vivid story of the Suez
culture and history, and a young protagonist who sees her world change
assumes an active role in directing its ultimate outcome.
Salima is the Boatman's daughter who keeps the barges operating safely
dreaming of an education and a better world for herself. She's saving
her ultimate goal in life.
Egypt and its
waters face changes from foreign influences and domestic strife, Salima
confronts treachery, kidnapping, and the rising tides of struggle: "It’s
the Germans,” said the Tunisian calmly as he reloaded both rifles.
to use their influence with the Turks, and turn Egypt against England.
just wants your business,” he added, with a hard chuckle."
receive a solid dose of historical insights on the changing
between Egypt and the world and the power of its unique waterways as
follow Salima's efforts to solve a mystery and expose the truth against
Author Fatima Sharafeddine notes in her Foreword: “The richness of the layers of Tom’s novel is compelling … what better way to educate the youth about historical events that shaped our past and cast their influence on our present.”
characterization is superb. He cultivates a compelling, personal touch
encourages young readers to develop concern and care for Salima's
struggles as they learn about the politics and social milieu of her
through her eyes.
story steeped in action and insight alike, the driving force being a
protagonist who has ambitions beyond her role in her father's business
circumstances that Egyptian culture has handed her.
changing, and Salima is determined to take charge of her own destiny.
compelling story comes to life in a fine blend of written word and
diverse illustrations throughout.
The Illustrated Boatman's Daughter is a novelette that's highly recommended for young adult readers seeking a strong female protagonist whose heart confronts a whirlwind of changes that will ultimately affect her future and her dreams.The Illustrated Boatman's Daughter
Jellies and the
The Jellies and the
Crunchers is a
picture book story (illustrations
not seen by this reviewer) of a town that holds two very different
people: 'jellies' (who only eat sticky jelly) and 'crunchers' (who will
consume crunchy crackers). Kids who hold preferences for specific
foods will immediately relate to the story before it even gets off the
ground...but, there's more to recommend this book than flavor and
and crunchers are a disparate group of people, there's one problem: "The Jellies think that the Crunchers
are messy and loud. The Crunchers think the Jellies are messy and
they don’t get along so well."
very different habits, shop in different stores for their different
obsessions, and remain separate: "Throughout
the history of the town, a Jelly has never been in a crunchy cracker
shop and a
Cruncher has never been in a Jelly shop."
come together in the square to eat...but the two groups remain apart,
is where a problem evolves, as the jellies create sticky messes and the
crunchers contribute crumbles to the problem. Both sides point at the
habits as being the culprit.
is supposed to be fair, has chosen a side. How can the town come
Bell creates a fun,
winning story with a message
that will especially delight read-aloud parents looking for stories
adversity, differences, and unity. The strong social issue and
couched in a delightfully whimsical approach to differences and
makes The Jellies and the
Crunchers a special winner that
is widely and highly recommended for parent
read-aloud and educator pursuit alike.
Jeremy Austin and
Rod C. Spence
Ebook: 978-1-952553-02-8 $ 4.99
Paperback: 978-1-952553-01-1 $20.95
Miervaldis is the third book in
the Jeremy Austin series for teens and young adults interested in
stories, but requires no prior familiarity to prove accessible to
series synopsis recaps past adventures and the basic premise of
encounter with a wormhole that transforms his life and his perceptions
Six teens charged with
survival skills to the test embark on a quest to locate an ancient
Miervaldis and release its magic before they can return to what is
safe in their own world.
One satisfying device
Rod C. Spence employs
during the telling of this yarn is that the young 'heroes' are not
heroic figures. Several struggle with being bullies or getting into
while others are at odds with themselves and their personalities. It's
band of different individuals with very different skills and
Joined together when
they are stranded on a
planet 2.4 million light years away from Earth, they are enslaved,
and have already faced adventure and danger, in the first two books.
volume continues to spin new threats as each individual confronts
challenges and opportunities to either grow and change, or die.
Miervaldis does contain violence,
so it's recommended reading for mature teens who will find its
of description and age-appropriate confrontations blend into the
of this disparate group's individual and unified prowess.
As Jeremy finds he is
the "hope of
nations" to others and searches within himself for strengths he never
he had, readers follow him through an intriguing world of magic and new
possibilities. The fast-paced story's episodes of comic relief and
will particularly appeal to fantasy readers who like their plot filled
unexpected twists, and the main characters more nerdy than heroic.
Fantasy readers will
the many trappings of the genre, from elf maidens to gnome armies and
often-whimsical dialogues between characters: "Thy purpose,
Lord Gareth spluttered, hands spreading out toward the Gnome army. "I
a duty to fulfill. Save the city, and all that."
The result is a
rollicking good read highly
recommended for prior fans of Jeremy, who will find his coming of age
preparations for wider conflict to be thoroughly absorbing. It should
that the door is left open for more books in the series. Fans will
979-8654752475 $15.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
The Last Monster Hunter,
Book 1 in a
series, offers a fantasy
adventure story for middle grades and tells of Theo, who is attacked by
wall in his bedroom. Until that point, he knows nothing about magic.
that, he has a vested interest in learning more about not just magic,
monsters, magicians, and dragons that emerge into his everyday life.
vivid, action-packed story that is based as much on confrontation and
problem-solving as it is on Theo's evolution and courage.
threatening, grinning wall or exploring an ancient city, Theo embarks
series of adventures that not only provides a quest and a number of
but leads him to reexamine his own life, prejudices, and choices: "Theo wondered how you could fight
someone one day and then expect to live alongside them the next. He
over at Shab. His family had fought against the Inferni, yet now he
alongside one as a comrade. How many old hatreds lingered beneath the
of this society? Was this why war had returned now to blacken their
It's these moments of personal insights that elevate The Last Monster Hunter to a production beyond the usual middle-grade fantasy read, offering young readers the opportunity to see how Theo grows and matures during the course of his extraordinary adventure.
As he learns
actually the son of a lost hero who is charged with not only playing a
role in a looming war, but may be the last Hunter of his kind, young
receive a thoroughly engrossing story of a boy who uncovers his hidden
heritage, learns his place in it, and cultivates a newfound purpose in
for a younger audience, but with all the trappings of magic and
growth that Potter exhibited for older readers.
rich, deep, well-described, and powered by a believable, likeable young
protagonist's efforts to not just confront his abilities and the world,
the right thing for everyone around him. The
Last Monster Hunter is thoroughly absorbing, rich in
descriptions of growth
and change, and leaves the door open for further adventures, which
of magic will welcome.
Love will reach
K-2 young picture book
readers with a gentle lesson
on love, and features lovely animal drawings by Rachael Balsaitis.
want to choose this story as a read-aloud for the very young,
its simple message and heartwarming moments of connection and love.
basic, Bible-based definitions of love: "Love is generous. It celebrates
the joys of others."
These simple admonitions are designed for parent/child interactions and
lessons, and lend especially well to introductory discussions about
affection, and giving, and Biblical teachings.
One of the
in this particular message is that it takes time to review all the
that demonstrate love, from patience and acceptance to enduring
believing in the best for all.
critical for helping young learners form ethical and moral foundations
behavior towards others, and goes beyond the ideal of romantic
is a warm,
lovely picture book that crafts a delicate life lesson that hopefully
early root to live in young reader's hearts as they mature.
978-1-64548-006-8 $16.99 Paper/$7.99 Kindle
The Night Weaver
will reach mature teen
horror readers with a
penchant for horror stories. It opens with the small town of Shadow
missing children and an even stranger silence from adults who neither
acknowledge nor worry about their absence.
Rachel Cleary lives on the edge of town near a dark and dank forest, so
not caught up in the heart of these matters—at first. But when the
whispering and shadows fall in strange new ways upon her home and life,
too is drawn into the Maine town's odd threat.
the lack of adult response to vanishing children than in the kids'
disappearances themselves: "Where is
the outrage? Little kids are going missing and nobody over the age of
seems in the least bit concerned. In fact, the Sheriff’s Department is
it sound like there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for the
the only one concerned, but her unusual attendance at a party (which
a concerned teen planning mission headed by Greg Pearson) drives her
investigation into what winds up being a shocking truth not just about
kids, but the town and reality as a whole. Everything she's taken for
is about to be turned upside down.
Ridge Crest High student body becomes involved when one of their own,
Hayward, literally vanishes into thin air in front of witnesses.
approach to this horror story is the juxtaposition of teens on the cusp
adulthood who are forced into assuming adult roles when those who guide
lives seem indifferent: "Ideas are
thrown around the gathering, opinions are voiced, and it’s all very
civilized. Too civilized. The
Rachel builds. This nasty business has forced teenagers into adult
bashes aren’t supposed to be town meetings. Teenagers aren’t supposed
talking about instigating an unofficial curfew and finding lost
purpose in life, at this age, is to get into trouble and enjoy our
As the local
is pinpointed as a possible source of the threat, Rachel and her
friends find themselves learning about another world, which includes
dangerous Night Weaver and her army.
moves from the small town to Fae territory in the woods, the teens
involved in not only The Night Weaver's threat, but the quest to
Akrah Cloak, one of the House of Nebulius’ most treasured artifacts.
identify the many adults involved in what can only be described as a
a vivid story worthy not just of mature teen attention, but many an
horror story reader. The tale excels in strong characterization and
which drives the plot and keeps readers guessing about its outcome.
and her newfound circle of fellow teen investigators arrive at
truths, readers will find the story riveting and hard to put down,
unexpected twists that keep them thinking.
engrossing, involving story that brings relationships and possible love
relative loner whose former goal was to get out of town as soon as she
mystery, horror, and dark fantasy, finished with a touch of romance,
mature teens engaged to the end.
Print: 978-1-7321332-9-7 $12.99
Ebook: 978-1-7348883-0-0 $ 4.99
Perfection and Other Illusive Things is recommended for young adult girls who look for slice of life stories. In protagonist Eden's case, she awakens one morning to realize that her changed appearance results in revised personality, as well. She's always been strong and independent, but mostly because she's been standing behind her strong and independent best friend. Besides, the crush in her life, Hawk, has always been drawn to his delicate, ethereal best friend. While Eden doesn't want to change just for a boy, the truth is that she's sick of being who she's supposed to be.
Eden's character, motivations, evolving personality and abilities, and the conundrums her choices bring are clear and appealing: "Girls like me did what they were supposed to, that’s what I’d come to realize. Not what they wanted. Girls like Ivy did what they wanted, and, it seemed to me, seldom what they were supposed to. There had to be a happy medium. There had to be an in-between."
More so than most, Mercer captures in a nutshell the restless urges of a "good girl" who has achieved many of her goals and leads an admirable life, but still dreams of something more: "I had everything a girl like me should want: stellar grades, early admission to my third-choice college, a solid spot on the volleyball team, the most loyal best friend, the sweetest little brother, a mom who loved me, et cetera. It wasn’t that I didn’t want those things; obviously, they were very nice things. It was just I wanted things outside that box too. Things Billie didn’t understand. Things my mom wouldn’t understand. Or Wes. Obviously, because he thought I should want him. So if I didn’t want the things a girl like me should want, then maybe I wasn’t really that girl anymore."
As Eden explores who she would be if circumstances changed, and takes a more active role in re-inventing herself when they do, teens who embark on the ride through her life will be pulled into the many possibilities Eden explores in thinking about "...the girl I was supposed to be."
Imagine waking up one morning to find that everything is changed; demanding new values, reactions, goals, and visions from you. It's a physical change that only she can see, apparently...but it, in turn, transforms everything.
As Eden explores her new life, readers will relish the possibilities and differences she experiences in her journey. The many ways she considers and changes her approach to life are fascinating: "The whole point of all this magic (that might not really be magic) was that I wanted to try out someone else. If I didn’t actually want to drink, I at least wanted to know what it felt like. I also didn’t want Javi and Nat to keep things from me anymore. They were coming, and we were drinking, and then they’d understand I wasn’t the prissy, judgmental friend they’d assumed me to be."
From a party in which her friends abandon her to a different kind of relationship with Hawk, newfound conflicts with her mother, and actions which threaten her scholarship opportunities and future, readers receive a thoroughly engrossing story of magic, transformation, and responsibility that will keep them engaged and reading to the end.
more than craft a coming-of-age story. Perfection and Other Illusive Things is a blend of magical realism
and self-examination that will prove an entertaining and
to identifying life values and the unexpected results of taking risks.
highly recommended reading for teens.
979-8644811427 $9.99 Paper/$4.99 Kindle
is a teen
who has been trained by her parents to be a sleuth. She's biracial in
Brooklyn—already a questionable place to be practicing on the side of
And she's about to tackle a case that brings her into contact with not
gangsters, but vampires...all at the same time, as a deadly disease
family and challenges its relationships.
It may sound
like Private Ivy is a mishmash of
Steven Cortinas succeeds in creating an original, appealing character
and her late 1930s milieu, opening with a vivid observation designed to
reader attention from the first few sentences: "Look,
when you've got a double-barreled shotgun grinning two
inches from your face, it's usually a good idea to get in a prayer or
if you don't claim God, it doesn't hurt to cover your ass."
the twists and turns of an action-packed plot, the spunky observations
young investigator whose actions move beyond both her biracial heritage
gender, and who look for extraordinary stories replete in both action
personal growth will find Private Ivy
one of the more unexpectedly compelling reads of 2020.
admittedly-amateur, detective harbors a "stupid Brooklyn accent" and
faces capture, when the scene opens, by perps wearing Dracula and
masks. Her Brooklyn accent worsens under stress. The entire scene is
unique, and unexpected.
surprise, wonder, and adventure permeates a story packed with
it would have been all too easy for this tale to turn into a fantasy or
series of silly encounters, but Cortinas has the ability to juxtapose
relief with believable action, and humor with a serious inspection of
challenges. Placing Ivy and her action in the late 1930s in Brooklyn is
brilliant move because the dialogue reflecting her Brooklyn roots and
milieu reflecting the period are impeccable, fine devices for crafting
mysteries, perps, and family challenges, teens are presented with the
mix of action and psychological inspection that keep Ivy's character
her choices and confrontations thoroughly absorbing.
It may sound
like Private Ivy is primarily a
but many an adult who chooses teen stories for leisure and fun will
surprisingly appealing and complex.
Private Ivy is a very highly recommended standout in teen detective fiction, far surpassing most of her competitors in a story that is filled with gangsters, battles, and moral and ethical conundrums ("Hey!" I snapped. "If more kids get taken 'cause we didn't step in, what does that make us?").Private Ivy
Author Academy Elite
$26.95 Hardcover/$14.95 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
nature drawings by Kate Zotova illustrate a Christian inspirational
of God and life in Rainbow Land.
captures the presence of color in nature: "Green
from pom poms that cheered from tall trees/orange that melted the sea
end/white sails that moved on a coconut breeze,/blue waves a cheery
readers and read-aloud parents will enjoy the opportunity to learn
and equate them with nature scenes, receiving a gentle lesson on God's
efforts at the same time.
concepts of God the Creator as the Painter of all the little girl
This serves as a fine starting point for linking ethereal spiritual
daily life and nature observations in a story especially recommended
Paperback: 978-1-7339589-8-1 $8.99
Ruffing It will
reach readers ages 8-12
and centers on the dilemma
of 10-year-old Charlie Fogalman, who is changed into a dog when a magic
goes awry. How can a $3.00 mail-order magic wand change everything?
power becomes all too real.
note about this zany story is its sense of humor as Charlie's
observations cultivate a wry comedic overlay to events: "Of
all the schools in Last Chance Gulch, I got stuck at Anacapa
Elementary. And of the four fifth-grade classes at Anacapa, I got stuck
Mr. Crans for a teacher. I was pretty sure he was a Russian spy, or
kind of mafia hitman. He had that look like he was getting ready to
pain on someone. And he was always telling us to keep our traps
trap obeyed. But not now. Not when my best friend had a magic wand and
to use it and wanted me to tell him how. How often do you get a chance
The goal of
sister into a frog ("A sister
covered with warts was a fabulous idea, I had to admit, but would it
work?") turns into a dilemma a little less fun for Charlie,
his prior concerns about bullies and dangerous teachers pales in
Or, is it another opportunity to investigate, in dog form, things he
have uncovered as a human boy?
whimsical, unexpected in its twists and turns, and thoroughly
will involve kids in a series of odd and unpredictable episodes as
tests newfound capabilities, eludes a dogcatcher, and somehow falls
awry of a
bully gang of dogs equal in power to any bullies he ever faced as a
The blend of
investigative drama, a boy's life as a dog, a touch of magic, and even
commentary creates a romp through a different kind of life that changes
rules Charlie knows: "Sure enough,
it was dry under that bridge, and there was a man there, sitting in
front of a
fire, poking at a can of something in the flames. “Hey there, little
said. I moved forward slowly. After all, this was a stranger. Hadn’t I
taught all my life not to talk to them? The human version of myself
was true—but did dogs have to follow the same rules? Here was a guy
stay dry, just like me."
appreciate the different paths Charlie is forced to take to survive his
condition as he struggles to return to a life he once took for granted
learns new things about the world. Ruffing
It is highly recommended for kids with a sense of humor and
an interest in
magical stories of canine adventure.
Frances Perkins, Champion of Workers' Rights
Jennifer M. Merz
Perkins, Champion of Workers' Rights features hand-crafted,
illustrations in a moving picture book biography of a woman who
devastating Triangle Factory Fire of 1911. She made it her life mission
advocate for workers' rights, as a result.
Perkins became the
first woman ever to serve in a
U.S. Presidential Cabinet, becoming the Secretary of Labor and creating
programs that, even today, help protect worker rights and safety.
6-9 with good reading
skills will find this book an
important blend of American history and social inspection that uses
Perkins' life and times to document not only worker suffering in the
1900s, but the changing role of women in politics and social issues.
led the battle on
many fronts. Steadfast's inviting study of the times and her
actions encourages young
people to not just understand her life, but the active role she chose
battling seemingly impossible injustices through the male-dominated government system.
picture book biographies of strong
women who made a difference will find Steadfast
an important reference, suitable for reports.
Laura Segal Stegman
Hardcover: 978-1-947796-57-7 $28.99
Paperback: 978-1-947796-56-0 $16.99
Ebook: 978-1-947796-58-4 $ 4.99
Summer of L.U.C.K.
unlikely heroes who meet at a
summer camp to form an unusual bond. All struggle with different
incarnations of emotional stress. Darby stutters, Justin is mute as a
to grief, and Naz is just learning English. Isolated by their different
responses to life, they are brought together in an unexpected way when
magical calliope allows them to connect via telepathy.
barriers to companionship and life fall away. And when they do, they
a ghost who presents them with a magical mission that involves
overcoming their limitations in order to develop more powerful voices
control over their lives.
Summer of L.U.C.K.
adventures reminiscent of Jane
Langton's classic A Diamond in the Window
with the eerie carnival atmosphere of Ray Bradbury's Something
Wicked This Way Comes—but for middle-grade readers.
Like both of
classics, these young protagonists are challenged to overcome the
restrictions that keep them from experiencing life in favor of
themselves and developing supportive friendships that lead to
how the lessons they absorb from their magical encounters translate to
everyday problems in a life that used to stymie them: "Hey,"
he said, grasping her shoulders. "Think of all
that happened at Mr. Usher's. Stuff we never could have imagined. This
work out that way too. Remember how he said to try things we don't
think we can
adventure's connections to real-world problem-solving strategies are
what make these characters and their lives so thoroughly engrossing,
who appreciate interlinked stories of underdogs who succeed against all
with a little help from an unexpected adventure, will relish this blend
camping saga and fantasy, which offers important messages about
friendship, courage, and perseverance.
Summer of L.U.C.K.
is a compelling read
that will attract even
reluctant young readers, creating characters whose dilemmas stem from
conflict as much as external challenges. The blend of fantasy,
psychological growth is well done, making Summer
of L.U.C.K. highly recommended reading that stands out from
R. Scott Boyer
Main Street Reads Publishing
Temple of Eternity is the second book in the Bobby Ether series, and provides teen fantasy readers with another fine adventure.
Seventeen-year-old Bobby Ether has returned from the Jade Academy, but somehow, home is not the same. For one thing, his parents know the truth about the Core: the secret organization which experimented on the Academy's students in pursuit of increasing human abilities. They also know how Bobby and his friend Jinx thwarted the devious plot, escaped a secret monastery, and were aided by his grandfather's own supernatural powers.
The adventure is over, and his parents just want everything to go back to normal. But how can it, when Bobby still holds connections to the people who helped him escape? He also has natural abilities that could thwart the ongoing efforts of the Core. And he needs to do something to help. Then he learns about a Mayan temple hidden in the jungle that could provide both the answers to eternal life and pose a threat for those who would use its powers for nefarious purposes.
Think Indiana Jones, but on a level geared to young adult adventure story readers. Add a dash of cultural intrigue, with warrior descents of the Mayans determined to take action as souls are claimed by evil forces. Mix in a riddle that evokes the Fountain of Youth, yet seems to negate the legend behind it. What results is a fast-paced adventure designed to keep young readers engaged and guessing throughout.
Bobby Ether and his friends face a series of impossible circumstances and family connections to the Core which place in jeopardy not just the lives, but the minds of those he loves. His grandparents aren't stay-at-home elders, but active participants in the events that swirl around them. This is a refreshingly different perspective on family interactions and the involvements of the savvy, active elders in Bobby's world.
As betrayals and sacrifices coalesce on multiple levels, young adults are treated to a fast-paced series of confrontations which will keep them engaged and engrossed in Bobby's many dilemmas and challenges.
Prior fans of Bobby's escapades will easily pick up the action that begins a few months from his previous adventures. Meanwhile, newcomers receive quick access to Bobby's world that requires no familiarity with prior events to prove accessible and inviting.
The juxtaposition of a search for a beloved grandmother and a mission to save the world is nicely done, and contrasts personal with social objectives. The blend of a circle of strong characters who each contribute to Bobby's strengths and abilities is another fine feature of a story that revolves around relationships, trials, confrontations, and spiritual components of Bobby's growth.
Temple of Eternity offers
introduction to the
underlying social, cultural, and spiritual issues involved in an
changes Bobby's perspective. It is highly recommended.
Steven L. Masia
The Trials of Uwe: Parts
I, II, and III
will reach young adult
sci-fi readers looking for a strong sense of nonstop action in their
It follows the adventure of young wizard Uwe, who has spent his short
training for his profession, only to find his efforts lacking.
At age 18,
orphan. His parents were killed fighting the self-proclaimed 'savior of
universe, the Evilore, who uses the magic in the souls of living
destroy and reconstruct the universe time and again.
great-great-great-great-grandfather, a wizard named Edam, has
thwarted the Evilore, perishing in the process but passing to Uwe the
their wizardly ways, Uwe still finds himself lacking in ability. It
evil wizard with his own plans for takeover to help Uwe change.
satisfying philosophical aspect to the story as it unwinds, which sets
from the ordinary action-oriented sci-fi fantasy: "Uwe
spoke. "We have done the dragons a great disservice. In
trying to protect ourselves from you and potential enslavement by you,
instead enslaved you. My control over the dragons is more unjust then
had in store for us." His drive to rectify his mistakes and
ethical conundrums makes for intriguing reading as the wanna-be hero
himself trying to act in a morally correct manner even as he identifies
and fights it both in himself and in the world.
It should be
that there are many subplots and takeaways, here; from an evolving love
Uwe and Amanill to a quest that sometimes mirrors the Evilore's
purposes: "He had accomplished what the
had only dreamed of performing. He had gone too far; and there would be
gaming choices and action-packed twists and turns may find these
injections of ethical dilemmas and subplots a challenge, but these
contribute to a story that, like any superior read, is greater than its
individual parts and pieces.
A more singular focus might have made the story more accessible to a wider audience. However, The Trials of Uwe: Parts I, II, and III challenges its young readers to absorb more than just a singular epic adventure. This is one of its strengths...and the reason why The Trials of Uwe: Parts I, II, and III is recommended reading for young adults looking for more than an adventure fantasy story alone.The Trials of Uwe
Tom Graves with Larthy Washington
Devault Graves Books
Print: 978-1-942531-38-8 $28.00
eBook: 978-1-942531-39-5 $ 9.99
With Ms. Larthy: Life Lessons
in Soul and Soul Food comes
Southerner who was frustrated by his inability to cook some of the
Southern cuisine, such as catfish. From this failure came a motivating
idea: "I sure wish some older black lady would teach
me how to cook soul food. From
the basic differences of soul food and why he wishes to focus on this
food and country cooking are two sides
of the same Southern coin. And
food means black
cooking and country means white cooking."),
it becomes apparent that readers are being treated to more than just
cookbook. Graves was determined to improve his kitchen skills at the
hands of a
master and so discovered Ms. Larthy, whose culinary acuity and soul
expertise not only taught him soul cooking, but a different angle on
heritage and kitchen lessons, contrasting them with the cultural
his new mentor and considering soul cooking's relationship to Southern
traditions as a whole.
of the attraction to this book. The other appeal lies in evocative
that inject a sense of down-home inspection and cultural revelation to
associated with food, as in this consideration of the American
hamburger and why
'gourmet burger' is not on Graves' personal menu of choice: "Remember in the old Popeye black and
white cartoons (the best by far) made by the Fleischer Studios when
order a burger and Bluto would slap a blob of burger meat on the grill
it down until it
was a thin, burbling
patty? When it was
done he would flip it
onto the buns, brush it all with a coating of mustard and Wimpy would
down? That, dear
reader, is how a burger
should be grilled and eaten. Fancy
not a word that should ever be used in collaboration with the American
anticipate more than just a recipe collection. Cooking With Ms. Larthy cultivates a
relationship...with food, with
heritage, and with soul cuisine's evolution and meaning.
Larthy's dishes alone. Recipes and accompanying narratives come from
parts of life, from 'My Granny’s “Pink Lady” Strawberry Cake' by former
student Jasmine Parks, who provided the recipe in a narrative she wrote
school about her grandmother's how-to dish and perspective on life ("Only the best will do and that only
comes with work from you!” My
said those words and made them famous to everyone in our family."),
worldwide culinary influences such as a recipe from former wife Bintou
Ndiaye for Authentic African Ginger Beer.
By now, it should be
evident that the 'life'
portion of this cookbook's title embraces no singular path to culinary
as Graves gathers recipes and reminiscences from a wide range of people
contribute their own "best" culinary creations, whether handed down
from family tradition or invented by the donor.
powerful cookbook that is rooted in Southern soul cooking traditions,
expands into the world to include a wide range of 'best of' dishes.
photos and a personal, revealing set of considerations about cooking
heritage, Cooking With Ms. Larthy
takes a compelling look at the making of a cook and follows the
lessons and evolution with an especially delicious eye to observation: "Wilma is the one who
introduced me to the fantastic flavor fireworks of
combining fresh pineapple with a good curry powder.
It may not sound appetizing, but I promise
your tastebuds will stand up and applaud.
These two wonderful flavors work some sort of magic
sweet with the spicy—and
provide a tantalizing appetizer with any
With Ms. Larthy is a
very highly recommended celebration of cooking, culture and life,
for those who have some basic kitchen skills but who want to move
fresh new dishes proven to be outstanding comfort food.
A Memoir of the Foods
of the Foods of India celebrates India's unique regional
departs from the usual Indian cookbook by profiling India's regional
and how they differ. This means that the book's organization is
featuring destinations, specialties, and a subtitle that connects
culture and cuisine, as in the chapter on 'Mumbai: Food That Inspires
Masala Films' or 'Goa: Konkan and Portuguese Simmered Together.' There
pages of recipes here, but plenty of discussion about how food is
paired, and seasoned according to regional influences, differences, and
learn a good deal
about India's culture and
geography; not just the origins of its classic recipes. This helps
relatively unfamiliar with the country gain a basic working knowledge
India's culinary history, an essential ingredient in helping define,
and understand not just recipes, but India's food traditions as a
their history to their modern incarnations.
Indian cookbooks are
published each year. Most offer
some of this information in only the briefest of introductions to each
recipe. Foodsutra presents the
opportunity for a
deeper understanding and celebration of Indian cuisine than most of its
its color photos
throughout to discussions of how
dishes are spiced and served, accompanying Shalabh Prasad's travelogue of
through the country and its foods, readers receive much more than a
Prasad's ability to tackle familiar dishes and deconstruct their
cultural roots is simply outstanding. His approach presumes a basic
Indian cuisine, but not an in-depth knowledge—though at least a basic
familiarity with some of its classic dishes will add appreciation for Foodsutra's unique approach.
essential guide to understanding how Indian cuisine differs—sometimes
radically—from region to region. Its discussions of modern twists,
misconceptions (such as confusing the chilla flatbread with its cousin
dosa), and cultural and food differences makes for a choice that should
required reading before any Indian cookbook is chosen.
Let Them Eat
978-1-64313-440-6 $27.95 Hardcover/$18.99 Kindle
a journey through France that embraces culture and culinary facets
relish the armchair read Let
Them Eat Pancakes: One Man's Personal
Revolution in the City of Light,
a memoir of restauranteur Craig Carlson's decision to open an
American-style diner in Paris.
familiar with the
rigors of running a restaurant,
and who know the statistics on how many fail, will be surprised to
Carlson had no experience running a restaurant anywhere in the world.
never even owned his own business, let alone successfully navigated the
business, social, and culinary milieu of France. All these elements
a recipe for disaster, but one of the joys of Let
Them Eat Pancakes lies in its unexpected success story as
Carlson navigates this strange new world and turns adversity into
of the sweet appeal of
this narrative lies in
Carlson's descriptions of not just his life and perspective, but the
of his customers and employees: "Then
there was the group of female students from the nearby
They met at the diner once a week for their “Pancake Club.” They would film themselves for social media, hamming it up as they drenched their pancakes with maple syrup. Not satisfied with their performance, they would do take after take. By the tenth take, I had to look away as all of my profit margin drip drip dripped out of the now empty syrup container. Lastly, there was Savannah, my waitress from Mississippi. A blond bombshell with a deep Southern drawl, she’d startle French customers half to death with her big, booming voice. “How y’all doin’ today?” she’d say. “Can I get you a dessert? Or are you sweet enough already?”
surface appearances in
the dining room of Breakfast
in America to behind-the-scenes probes of relationships and the special
of handling French employees, the story is ribald, fun, and culturally
intriguing: "...since I was in
France, I couldn’t just fire her—even with her guilty-as-hell photos.
I’d have to put a dossier together,
which could take months, if not years before a verdict was
reached—which 90% of
the time ended up favoring the employee. On top of my server woes, I
on the verge of losing another cook. A couple days earlier, right in
of the lunch rush, Fikadu put his spatula down and said, “I want what
has.” It took me a moment to figure out what he was talking about.
fellow cook at the diner, had just started a year’s worth of paid leave
siring his second child. “Oh . . . do you mean paternity
leave?” I asked, putting two and two together. “Yes,
that.” “Well, Fikadu, to get paternity leave, you have to have a child
“But doesn’t your girlfriend live in London?” I asked. Fikadu nodded. I
chuckled slightly as I stated what I thought was the obvious. “Well,
sure to get French paternity leave, your child has to be born in
to be safe, I called my accountant. She was my first resource when it
all questions involving France’s complicated labor laws. “Looks like
is more on top of the latest developments than we are,” she said. After
consulting the government’s website, my accountant discovered that a
had just been passed with very little fanfare. Not only did Fikadu not have to live in the same country
as his baby in order to get paternity leave; he didn’t have to be the
biological father, either."
gain a great deal of
information about running a
business in France and navigating its many unique cultural, social, and
business relationships in the process. This is something most culinary
explorations omit in favor of a food focus alone.
one of the many
strengths unique to Carlson's story,
making it a delicious standout in culinary, travel, or business
From Carlson's desire to give his customers American fare to his
of French values and cuisine during the process of running and evolving
diner concept, this is a compelling, fun, and thought-provoking read
lively and hard to put down. Let Them Eat
Pancakes is especially recommended for Francophiles,
foodies, and anyone
interested in the culture and challenges of fostering a French
Kid Lit: An
Introduction to Literary Criticism
Empire Studies Press
Ebook: 978-1-952520-01-3 $19.00
Paperback: 978-1-952520-04-4 $29.00
Introduction to Literary Criticism
comes from a long-time English teacher
whose focus is on capturing the narratives of daily life. It is
just for fellow teachers, but for anyone who appreciates the written
the creative effort involved in bringing it to life.
Kid Lit surveys the major devices of storytelling—story structure, class, gender, symbolism, trauma and Orientalism—using children’s narratives as a more accessible, familiar structure for understanding how they operate.
Durwood advocates developing a critical literary eye and provides his
readers with the toolkit to do so. From underlying messages on class,
gender, and race inherent in various children's literary works (from Tarzan
to John Christopher's classic alien invasion Tripod series) to creating
characters and subplots, Durwood covers the basic elements of good
Lit will be read by would-be creative writers, because many
of its basic
critical components are essential reading and reminders to aspiring
may have forgotten some of the basics of creating not just acceptable,
compelling writing: "The achievement of great fiction is to
character which the reader believes in, and wants to know about. What
a memorable character in fiction? Why do you remember and want to keep
about Katniss Everdeen, or Sherlock Holmes, or (in your case, Dawsey)
What does a writer do to lend depth and likeability to a character?"
of producing memorable, exceptional works—and identifying these
literary and leisure writing alike—forms a series of lessons that help
understand the basics of superior language choices.
advances through various children's literary examples, contrasting
and passages from both classic and modern works, readers gain an
not just writing, but reading with a more critical eye to understanding
story either works or does not.
questions are provided in this workbook for reader self-analysis,
abound, and references and examples are included in an extensive,
index that makes cross-referencing a snap.
educator Todd Whitaker has written a Foreword to Kid Lit: An
Literary Criticism in which he concludes: “This is
literary criticism at
its least formal and most lively.”
thinking is a skill best honed at an early age. Durwood provides all
necessary for developing this skill, promoting solid children's
the process. He has created an appealing, accessible, educational
survey in a
format all ages can readily enjoy, in the lively, thought-provoking Kid
Steve Shear’s poems
are arranged in no particular
order, as is common with modern poets who tend to group works by
chronological incarnation, each does receive a fitting introduction
outlines the milieu which fostered the inspirational effort. These
introductions are essential keys to enjoying the poems' wellsprings in
affairs and events, filling in any blanks about their source and
they are poetic reflections
of current events, written as the events unfold. For example, the
'Agar in a Petri Dish', was
initially inspired by the 2008 economic crash. It reflects on the
the experience: "All
those folks—but not the
wealthy,/find themselves trapped/in the solidified agar within a petri
dish,/unable to climb out,/unable to cope with life’s
Captain of Destiny'
surveys the choice in living and
responding to life in its introduction ("We have two choices, it seems: to go
with the flow whether in calm water or heavy rapids or fight the waves
drown in our own weightiness."), but it's the
poem that carries
the weight of personal inspection: "Time is the bosom that feeds your
flesh/and the soft voice that feeds your soul."
Free verse isn't the only device Shear employs; nor is modern-day discourse alone his focus. There are literary pieces and approaches, such as sonnets, incorporated into the collection. These will delight readers interested in a poetry gathering that is wide-ranging in its literary and social pursuits, including the 'Oedipus Rex's series of sonnets: "Ironies of ironies, the prophesy grows/as the prince, now older, learns something about it./He races away thinking he knows/who his birth father is ― refusing to doubt it."
The colorful paintings accompanying each poem provide added value, with literary and artistic pairings designed to give readers thought-provoking moments and contemplative insights.
The collection achieves its goal: to combine prefaces about the wellsprings of poetic expression with fun, and revealing artwork that supports the foundations of accompanying emotion.
Speaking's blend of
literary and philosophical inspection will delight
poetry readers looking for a mixed bag of strong presentations.
Owen Bryan Jr.
Owen Bryan Jr., Publisher
Paperback: 978-1-7345432-2-3 $12.99
Ebook: 978-1-7345432-1-6 $ 2.99
Moment: Analyzing Moments In Everyday Life Into Poetry comes
poet and motivational speaker who captures his life experiences in
are written reflections of the far and immediate past. As he ponders
moments and their emotional responses, he creates a series of
traces the lasting results of life experience and their translation to
spiritual, moral, ethical and psychological achievement: "Entering
the valley of the shadows of death/In this journey, I
find myself/Stumbling into the crevices of hopelessness/My mind jaded;
into an abyss of misery/I ponder on the brevity of life/I look up… And
to God,/“Looking at life, it seems all I know is losing/Will I be able
one time?/The feeling of winning seems foreign to me”/I hear no
continue pushing onward..."
interested in this
special blend of spiritual and
psychological growth will appreciate the perspectives captured in these
musings. The works move through a typical life's slings and arrows,
they come from relationship, home, or work environments: "Did
I update that excel spreadsheet, LAST WEEK?!”/With little to
feed the employee’s yearning/For excitement and adventure, outside of
employee seeks it during the working hours/As the day unfolds/Drama,
energy, and a toxic environment/Can start and end with whom/But instead
to instigate and prolong the drama..."
who like free verse
firmly rooted in changing
life moments will be the best audience for Owen
Bryan Jr.'s writings. This audience will appreciate the poet's
intention to capture the moments that serve as pivot points to changed
perspectives; they'll find the writing itself to be clear and
they'll appreciate the attention to detail that translates revelations
revised life purposes.
to literary or cultural inspiration that led to a particular poem's
helps readers understand their context: "On
my visit back to Jamaica in June of 2019, I sat in on a church service
held at my grandparents’ house. In the service, one of the themes the
spoke about was remaining faithful to God through the ups and the
be still” was a common phrase used in that discourse."
inspiration and poetic prowess is well done and places Owen Bryan Jr.'s
in a category accessible to non-poets and everyday readers, as well as
enthusiasts looking for works firmly rooted in life experience and
Expert Giver LLC
$27.95 Hardcover/$16.95 Paper/$2.99 Kindle/$13.97 Audible
Expert Giver: No Strings
Attached is a
spiritual self-help guide to
attaining happiness and joy from life by fostering giving and
stems from Jason Cazes's vision of how to create groups of people who
reality, as do our actions. These are often a matter of choice, which
made from both faith and concrete intention. Rarely are these
better living and spiritual understanding given the specific courses of
and game plans outlined in this book.
lofty ideas and ideals, from explaining God and conscience, to the
of truth and common perceptions and misconceptions that lead to
people and within the world.
intriguing revelations here that refute common notions, such as the
that happiness is not a choice, but is a "byproduct and the result of
actions of giving to others unconditionally." It is an indirect choice,
and a consequence of an approach to life that can be cultivated but not
this and other links between choice, behavior, faith, giving, and end
of changed perceptions of life's meaning and purpose, readers receive a
concrete set of insights on how they may achieve this byproduct through
something not rigidly controlled, but incorporated into a lifestyle
happiness do not come from self-gratification, which seems to be the
idea in modern times, but from the peace and goodwill of unconditional
this approach can be nurtured to fruition, blending spiritual
psychological and philosophical insights, Expert
Giver: No Strings Attached becomes a road map to a different
is centered not on self, but on others.
paradigm for world change and positive approaches to life, surveying
different ways of identifying lies and excuses and the path forward
from healing to effective spiritual living. From the author's
miracles to examples of this process throughout different walks of
life, Expert Giver creates a
success that includes the vision and possibilities of interconnected
spirituality readers looking for a solid course of improvement and
contemplative growth will find Expert
Giver an uplifting guide that tackles common misperceptions
and the process
of evolving to become a better person, both socially and spiritually.
Coming of Eve, Abraham, Buddha, and Jesus
Robert W. North, PhD
The Way of the Soul Publishing
978-0-9907795-6-8 $19.95 Paperback
of Eve, Abraham, Buddha, and Jesus:
Their Lost Way to Personal and Global Peace blends
spirituality with inspirational quotes on how to lead
a richer life will reach not just Christian, Jewish, and Buddhist
those of other faiths as it traverses the connections between early
figures and the social and spiritual challenges of modern times.
foundation of the book
is an allegorical analysis of
the Garden of Eden section of Genesis. North’s insights present us with
that differs markedly from what we usually understand.
The book presents an intriguing formula to consider for resolving divisions between both religious and secular belief systems, promoting a synthesis of these approaches to life that outlines the basics of a singular 'way' promoted by Eve, Abraham, Buddha, and Jesus.
Author Robert North was in a Catholic Jesuit seminary for priests when he developed the idea that Jesus was as much a therapist as a religious leader: "Instead of preaching dogmas, Jesus used sayings and parables to teach people how to live a fulfilled life."
The Gospel of Thomas, Buddha, and the Bible form the foundation for the discussions that ensue. This interpretive discussion gives many thought-provoking analytical opportunities to people who may not have completely linked these teachings to everyday opportunities for not just spiritual awareness, but self-awakening.
But North doesn't stop with Biblical analysis. He connects these underlying messages of Jesus and others to daily life challenges in unusual, specific ways that take the Bible from lofty spiritual realms to everyday life struggles. He uses questions and answers, along with extensive Biblical references, to bring readers along on the journey of exploring this singular path to better understanding and living: "Do you think that our desire for deep, complete intimacy permeates the world’s romantic songs and elaborate marriage ceremonies? My answer: Yes. We seem to soul-know that we are not alone and that someone loves us unconditionally. So, instead of going up on our mountain and empowering our third eye and ear to teach us how to possess intimacy with Spirit, we project our needs on another human who will never fulfill them."
people are familiar
with a particular, predictable
way of religious interpretation, they may balk at considerations that
other spiritual approaches (such as acceptance of the third eye and ear
in Buddhist thought). Those whose minds are open to different,
allegories and stories that link religious perspectives will find
survey both challenging and satisfyingly direct.
Joseph S. Spence Sr.
$11.95 Paper; $3.99 Kindle; $28.95 Hardcover
Spiritually is a discourse blending inspirational poetry with
observations of religion and life. These invite readers to achieve
breakthroughs in spiritual thinking and enjoy enlightened, heightened
perceptions of God's word.
using the poetic form to
impart these words of wisdom
and reflection, Joseph S. Spence Sr., an award-winning poet and
military veteran, offers insights and experiences that capture the
spiritual inspection through various poetic devices and powerful
the entreaty of 'We Are
Still Standing', for one
example of this strength. Its free verse admonition is a passionate
the power of faith to believe in the concept and shared beliefs of all
God's people: "Anchored in His
foundation/Standing on a solid landing/Trusting always in His grace."
This short piece charts the foundations of faith that unites and
Christmas Greetings to You' offers a
greeting card of seasonal inspiration and hope that solidifies and
the season: "Though some days may be
bleak and dark,/Your ship will come for you to embark./We belong to a
with special love./May God's blessings descend on you from above."
added author note at the end, as well as the poem's wide-ranging
that other faiths are embraced in his celebration, which is directed to
"all of God's people."
readers enjoy the
easily-understandable poems and
their messages of hope, inspiration, and solidarity, they will come to
that their connections move beyond Christian focus and into the worlds
everyone holds faith in God.
unifying effort and
message is highly recommended
for Christians, but reaches out to any with faith, who will find the
message of shared love and belief to be especially inspirational during
of plague and divisiveness. The literary, spiritual, and social impact
of Sincerely Speaking Spiritually
a recommendation for any spiritual reader, and collections appealing to