September 2021 Review Issue
Literature Mystery & Thrillers
Forged in the Fallout
978-1-7348218-1-9 $14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Forged in the Fallout challenges pat
categorization in a satisfying
manner. At once a coming-of-age dystopian fantasy story that embraces
intrigue alike, "action-packed" seems too mild a term to describe the
riveting, charged scenes throughout a story that open with a bang: "Conflict is a stone wedged between my
shoulders. I’m at eighty feet, leaning from a sandstone cliff on the
edge of our family property, my hands braced in a gap. It's mid-October
Blue Ridge Mountains. Red-orange trees glitter on display. The sun is a
half circle on the horizon, throwing the forest into shadows and
patches of light. But I only have a few minutes to soak up the sunset,
cool wind on my face, the grit of the rock against my fingertips. I
freeze this moment, catch it in a bottle like a firefly. This is
simple about the world."
Clayson Spangler, the narrator, is his father's caregiver. He also
to a family secret about their true heritage, the presence of another
that lies beneath their own under the Rocky Mountains, and the real
his mother's absence.
on a journey that leads in unexpected directions from the usual quest
his father goes on the lam and his mother faces trial for treason.
himself is charged with entering a previously unidentified world of
form new relationships and ferret out the truth behind the wall of
has kept him from a big part of his life.
Green's production is self-described as "genre-bending" lies in the
author's ability to weave a multitude of facets into his adventure—so
that the story remains accessible, creative, and challenging all at
Part of what
depth to the action, adventure, and thriller components is Green's
inclusion of psychological depth and detail that brings Clayson's
and dilemmas to life: "This place
under the mountains is my new home, but I don’t want it to be. Living
Tungsten City—it's what Dad wants. But I don’t know what I want.
been the safety of the cliff near the cabin to work out my thoughts.
Now I have
only a hollowed-out room in a mountain of stone. In the silence of the
everything catches up with me."
As he makes
new friends, faces powerful forces, and considers the impact of his
not just his life but everyone around him, Clayson is forced to
host of issues that keep him on edge and second guessing his own
decisions: “I hate this plan,” I say. Rugnus
eyebrow. “I don’t really like it either, but it’s your plan.” “I know.
twists and turns of plot to Clayson's evolving sense of place and
two very different worlds, the Kingdom
of Rimduum and its people come to life with adventures and action that
ages on edge and looking for more.
Deep under the layers of reality and this
world lays another world, Rimduum, which goes far beneath the surface
everything familiar. Clayson "stands on the wall between
creation and destruction" in
both worlds. His experience both changes everything and paves the way
with a conclusion that is satisfying and open-ended at the same time.
While teens may choose this title for its
coming of age qualities, adults will find Forged
in the Fallout equally
compelling. The genre bend lies in Green's crafting of a story that
interest levels, from sci-fi and fantasy enthusiasts to readers of
fiction, coming of age stories, action and thriller tales, and mystery
enthusiasts happy to accept more than a light dose of fantasy in their
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The Girl In The Toile Wallpaper
Mary K. Savarese
ISBN: 9-781953278210 $19.95 SB
ISBN: 9-781953278203 $29.95 HB
ISBN: 9-781953278227 E-book
all ages will find The Girl In The Toile Wallpaper an intriguing story that opens Book 1 of The
Star Writers Trilogy with a bang.
Twelve-year-old Tyler Charles lives in the
modern world. The girl he loves, Callalyly, lives in the past—two
ago, to be specific. When Tyler is pulled into the two-dimensional
world of the
toile wallpaper and finds her there, his life changes and is never the
His journey into the past opens with
cracking a wizard's spell. Where most stories would end on this note,
the beginning of Tyler's journey as he encounters Lyly, bonds with
comes to realize that he'll be forever trapped within the wallpaper
can rescue Lyly.
Mary K. Savarese is adept at description;
the details of which make this book recommendable not to middle grades,
high school readers and older, who will appreciate the detail and
her words: "The shadows formed into a miniature print, each
itself according to the direction of the evil man. The man was painting
distressing scene through the movements of his symphonic
hands. The wizard swiped
along the floor and the girl was jerked into the air. She hovered for
moment before spinning as easily as a spinning wheel. Then as if no
existed, the girl screamed and the wind sucked her into the cloth paper
girl was gone."
Fantasy readers will find Tyler's
discoveries and adventures thoroughly engrossing as he encounters Lyly,
considers the physics and facts that have entrapped them both, and
culture of the Houses that rule this past world and offer Lyly both
As changing points of view ripple between
humans, cats, and a range of characters, readers will delight in the
that come to light from different vantage points.
Savarese is skilled at contrasting medieval
and modern worlds, flowing between them in a manner that is
creates no confusion in the transition process. This creates a seamless
based not just on one or two main characters, but a host of special
Fantasy fans of high school age and older
who look for a blend of mystery, history, and spell-binding intrigue
relish Tyler and Lyly's journeys and discoveries which defy time,
The complex story comes alive in a manner that is satisfyingly unpredictable, firmly rooted in strong characters that each draw readers into a story that is hard to put down.
Question and The Galapagos Colony
Hampshire House Publishing Co.
of two novellas under one cover in The
God Question and The Galapagos Colony assures that readers
thought-provoking juxtaposition of hard sci-fi and spiritual philosophy
dovetail nicely with one another.
What would you
ask an all-intelligent being if you had only one question?
Question" presents a supercomputer AI that, when brought on line,
the internet and status quo so much that it is shut down as a threat.
stopped is mankind's determination to find answers to the biggest
all. This means restarting a singularity that could change not just
beings, but their perception of their place in the universe.
religion are on a collision course, here. As IVAN attempts to impart
about the biggest question of all, a human-computer interface develops
questions the wellsprings of humanity itself.
As IVAN keeps
resetting and the question and its answer remain oblique, readers
satisfying blend of thriller, philosophical and spiritual reflection,
social consideration that takes an unexpected journey in questioning
who is the
top dog—humans or machine?
holds the answers? And why ask a machine without emotions about the
human love, pain, and longing? What is really being asked?
novella offers thought-provoking inspections, suspense, and surprises
throughout. It will particularly delight hard sci-fi readers looking
for an AI
story of a different ilk.
"The Galapagos Colony" takes place not on Earth, but in space in
2242, where a lost spaceship finally finds a hospitable planet, only to
all the adults die from a disease.
With only a
few pamphlets and directions at their disposal, the young survivors
colony that turns in a direction very different from what the adults
brought home when, two centuries later, a probe learns of their
presence and a
space ship is sent to the colony to discover what this group of
become, generations later.
What kind of
colony has grown without knowledge of human history or any cultures
human? Will those who are cut off from humanity evolve in a different
explores these questions, his fascinating story of evolution also adds
of spiritual direction and faith to compliment a scientific process
an extraordinary event's outcome and impact.
are interrelated, in that they consider fundamental issues of what
the essence of humanity, faith, and systems of living and inquiry.
of both novellas under one cover provides an exceptional opportunity
sci-fi readers to consider broader philosophical, social, and religious
two presentations compliment and support these concepts in different
The God Question and The Galapagos
Colony is highly recommended reading for sci-fi
readers who look for thought-provoking scenarios and stories.
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Readers of near-future sci-fi who enjoy
short stories of technological and social change will find Lightship
intriguing collection of ideas that explore technology gone awry. Its
and insights make Lightship a recommendation for
adult audiences and
mature teens, but this audience will find the juxtaposition of social
science, and politics to be intriguing.
The title story, "Lightship,"
revolves around the notion of a solar-powered spaceship which Kevin Lee
outlines in his dissertation. His
proposal involves him in an effort that challenges technological
immersing him in a project that commercializes and politicizes space in
The issues raised in this story will keep
readers thinking beyond its examination of the commercialization of the
and special interests in space.
Five years in the making, Lightship's
insights on military, social, and political special interests are
"The Old Man," the second story in
the quartet, tells of Bob, who "is no youngster." His relatively
unique medical situation has not attracted the interest of the forces
Bad times have come and gone, recovery is
well on the way, and new possibilities are opening up in space. For all
positive, there are thought-provoking changes taking place on the heels
famines and accidents which have largely eliminated old people from the
As Bob reflects on the Water Wars, the
Cyclone Decades, and the environmental changes which have led to him
of the few older survivors, he considers what it means to enjoy
such a changed world, with so many missing connections.
Bob needs a big change. Space travel offers
something completely different. But is this the kind of change he needs?
Each story excels in juxtaposing the human
condition with the human race's endeavors to reach beyond its planetary
birthplace. Each does a fine job of portraying characters that stand at
points of change, interspersing dialogue and other characters into the
to cement technological, moral, and ethical challenges with
Stephan Besik's collection of four
hard-hitting stories isn't for those who want sci-fi action alone; but
recommended for the literary reader who looks for psychological and
inspections against the backdrop of humanity's reach for new meanings
ventures in space.
This audience will find these four
thought-provoking stories compelling, creative, and unique
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C. T. Fitzgerald
978-1954779105 $14.99 Paper/$2.99 Kindle
Powers Revealed is the second book in a series,
introduction of the story's main players, which helps newcomers absorb
setting, in the opening preface, and cements the action with a mission
captain Torvyn Lok to
learn what is happening to his country.
to sneak into a small fishing village with a few men to gain
them straight into danger on the island nation of Athlan,
which is in
the throes of tearing itself apart. Stellar Angeals Cath and Dorchada,
brokers for the Celestial Travelers, have unleashed their forces to
stir the pot of rebellion and battle.
Athlan come to? Lok wonders about the source of its struggles as he
giants with strange powers and comes to acknowledge that Athlan's
the face of them may fall far short of anything that could bring
one of the Mighty Twelve, servant of the Bas Croi, Soldier of Darkness,
to be invincible, and the microcosm of the island's conflict portends a
battle in which the struggle for Earth seems doomed.
As Lok faces dire
circumstances and the impact of his
decisions, the battle appears to be heavily weighed in favor of the
darkness: "He had witnessed useless
death, random death, almost whimsical death and he knew with absolute
that goodness had nothing to do with it. His plan had been a disaster.
Dedicated men, friends, were killed, no real information gained, and
KT’s life was
in jeopardy. What should he do?"
Fitzgerald takes the classic good-versus-evil confrontation and gives
satisfying twist. Epic fantasy readers who appreciate vivid battle
juxtaposed with thought-provoking considerations of how good intentions
over evil forces will relish the action and insights featured in Powers Revealed.
excels in depicting a range of characters affected by the battle for
and the dilemmas faced not just by those who oppose these devastating
but those who operate under the Angeal's direction: “Too much is withheld from us. We fight and die but
you pull the
strings. There are rules, you say, but we don’t know them. Our enemy is
someone just like you. The Bas Croi and his men are just like us. We
on a board not of our choosing and you say to play, fight, win, lose—it
up to you. If it was up to us, we may decide not to play at all, as I
to play when tested, but we must play or die, because this is the game
created and we can not escape.”
The result is
an especially delightful conflict strengthened by the questions
both sides as events unfold, blurring the line between good and evil
gray area that keeps readers involved and guessing about outcomes and
Powers Revealed is an epic fantasy especially
prior readers of the first book in the series, as well as those who
scenes marked by massive struggles between humans and non-human
all become caught up in the machinery of war; puppets,
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Soul Secret Service
The Unzoned Gods: Moon is the first book
in the Unzoned Gods
series, and will appeal to sci-fi fans that enjoy ethereal works
unusual forms—in this case, as a freestyle script (as if for a play).
several differences from the typical sci-fi story.
character G's dialogue is written in regular type, and her internal
italics. The narrator is one of twelve psychic empaths asked to go to
for a consciousness project, receiving the invitation and contact phone
in a dream state.
results in information about the proposal given by an agent from the
Project, raising more questions than it answers. How did they access
dreams? What's really happening on the moon?
verbosity of the sci-fi genre may be surprised at only 88 pages to the
but Teri Hitt winds a lot of action, detail, and insights into these
making the most of every word, description, and character.
the depth and variety of scenarios covered in the a short production.
the Haarp technology patent, for example: a method for altering the
atmosphere, ionosphere, and/or magnetosphere. It may also be used for
control. The planetary modification threat and promise is intriguing
portends psychic as well as physical changes.
revelations identified as "incoming" are highlighted in black
background pages to reflect insights that come from a being from
photos and drawings also pepper the story, accenting its progression
like The Unzoned Gods: Moon in
At once a play, the story of a communiqué from another dimension, an
experiential adventure surrounding a group of psychic empaths charged
unusual mission from a dubious project, and a spiritual and
probe, the story is challenging, exciting, inviting, and
don't think that extraordinary concepts, encounters, and mind-bending
can be packed into a book under a hundred pages long, they should pick
up The Unzoned Gods: Moon as
this can be done.
demonstrates, with a creative format and lively interactions, that
possible. Under her pen, the extraordinary comes to life.
is especially highly recommended for literary sci-fi fans and those who
stories of inter-dimensional travel and psychic challenges. The
elements woven into the tale keep it riveting and unexpected.
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Black Heron Press
look for evocative and unique works rooted in a sense of place, time,
psychological interplays between different voices will find Back Cut an unusually astute collection.
attempted much in her short presentation. Incorporating all these
observation and interaction is no light feat, but as the rhythmic
of husband and wife (represented in poems which clearly outline the
the title) unfolds, a delightful love story is revealed that stems from
foundations of experience and adversity.
Beard" opens the saga from the wife's perspective as her husband splits
cedar shakes and Old Man Sampson drives the effort and interaction
parts to unfold. Each offers a gem of understanding as the story moves
old man and his protégée to the wife's reflection on their
husband's penchant for drink, and the foundations of desire and love: "We buck down the road/I say Old
Man Sampson knows what he is about/I
hang my arm out the window/my fingers combing/the dismal light/we roll
woods/hung with Methuselah’s Beard/a lichen/so proficient/it eats the
I don’t mind being here/the
smell of cedar/holding me."
various parts, like the acts of a play, unfolding flowers of experience
encounter with delicate precision and capturing a sense of place,
love, and blossoming connections.
evolve, it becomes evident that the husband is battling addiction and
struggles with a tendency to withdraw from the world. The couple's
delights and pain come to light in poetry that is compellingly and
presented, holding foundations in the little daily acts of living,
vignettes are filled with revelation about the inadvertent impact of
each chooses: "She comes out on the
porch/raises my rifle/for one shot/at the cursed crow/she never
might step sideways/or cringe at the memory/of blood spraying/across
Back Cut is a collection that closely
examines the entwined lives
of a couple alienated in different ways from the world and possibly
The connections they build, the love and experience they bring into
interactions and the backdrop of the Pacific Northwest come to life in
of quiet desperation and evolution that is particularly recommended for
readers who enjoy accounts of interpersonal relationships and growth.
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Darkness: A Collection of Stories
provides a literary collection of
investigations into the darkness of mind, heart, and environment. It
focus to cast a light into understanding the wellsprings and
incarnations of different
forms of darkness.
definition of these darknesses, the stories shape themselves around it.
Old Man," for example. Here, Preston Taylor, an old man in pain who
for the final darkness of relief from his physical body, considers the
darkness he "fears, hates, and longs for," but agonizes over what
will happen to Jake, his beloved eighteen-year-old dog, when death
and loneliness have brought him to this point in time where "He closed his eyes, regretting the passage
of years, and regretting that he hadn’t done more with his life when he
healthy enough to do so. There were many things he should have done
As he and
journey to a place they haven't visited in thirteen years, and memories
carry them into the past, readers receive a trip down memory lane and
into the tragedies that have led Jake and Preston into isolation. The
these memories and his dog help Preston explore a different form of
is another story of solitude and revelation that revolves around loner
Fegalli, who has "been alone his whole life."
that he was
adopted only lends to his feeling of that he doesn't really belong
anywhere. How he is
treated differently from his
sisters only reinforces the idea that his life will be both difficult
his own way, Tony finds himself with "No
one to invite him to a party or to watch television and share a pizza
was forty-eight years old with a lousy car, a lousy apartment and no
nothing he can control about his life or the many people who have
they haven't wanted him. But, there's one thing he can control.
history, depth, and psychological inspection. Each offers a different
into that special darkness that resides in heart and soul, its origins,
choices of different characters that choose to finally confront it.
short fiction will find these stories well written, thought-provoking
examinations of different roads to isolation and how final outcomes are
Darkness: A Collection of Stories is
highly recommended for
literature and psychology collections alike.
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Good Morning to Everyone Except Men Who Name
Their Dogs Zeus
Everyone Except Men Who Name Their Dogs Zeus
offers poems powered by a damning view of patriarchal attitudes in man
and nature alike. It is a startlingly crisp free verse collection that
draw poetry readers attracted to social and political inspection.
Symbols and circumstances of masculinity
(such as a dog named Zeus), oppression, manipulation, and assault blend
mythological references with modern-day social struggle in poems which
The fact that these observations pull no
punches is evident from the very start in poems such as "Leda," which
contrasts male and female pursuits and perspectives in all manner of
you’ve ever seen swans fuck,/you’d know/it’s a folded napkin in a
a second lays flat, soiled,/praying for dinner to end./The male tops
female/in a freshwater body./She must float them both."
attractive countenance which turns brutal to reveal its true self, the
darkness of an alluring date with a stranger that turns deadly in "Her
Worst-Case Scenario," and the perseverance against all documented in
"These Boots Are Made for Trauma" in which the narrator acknowledges
the suffering of a life which tries to confirm to social norms that are
damaging ("...there is a
certain/suicide/to the rhythm/of rubber slapping/the cheeks of a street
which a boy/first wore me out/But let’s
keep going") makes
angry, painful, hard-hitting reflections of male-female interactions
This is not a meal recommended for every
poetry consumer to imbibe. Its powerful connections to emotions in the
suicide and sexual assault and its poignant, angry response to the
and reinforcements that not only foster but subliminally encourage such
scenarios may be hard to digest, for some.
For others, Good Morning to Everyone
Except Men Who Name Their Dogs Zeus gives voice to the pain
in a way that validates and acknowledges the underlying currents of
and survival alike: "When I said I recently learned how to
my emotions tried to drown me/in my own fucking sea/I was not born a
animal,/and I’ve never learned to talk to boats or fish or
might carry me to the shore/So, here I am, choking on a petty
tide rushes down my throat..."
Compelling, powerful, and revealing of
emotions too often buried beneath the tides of conformity, Good
Everyone Except Men Who Name Their Dogs Zeus is a poetic cry
for help and recognition
that offers fellow sufferers the opportunity to confront the rapists
everything—starting with acknowledging their trauma: "When I
future looked brighter,/I meant I’ve been combusting all along,/hurling
an angry star..."
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Dust is a poetry collection of
works that explore and expose the timeless,
interconnected nature of human experience. It presents these works
literary style that both deviates from the normal free verse and
supports it in
a fine, original manner.
"The Horse Fair," which was inspired by a painting by Rosa Bonheur.
The painting was "massive; precise," but what lends it life for
audiences who may not have seen the image is the juxtaposition between
and reality: "I heard the rushing hooves, the wind roaring,
horses/would neigh and whinny, the crack of the riding crop, the
thinking they had control—I’ve ridden horses; I’m not/so sure those men
right...The horses could prance off the wall, surely, cavort around/me.
tangle my fingers in a mane, another and another,/my hands growing
sweat, grit in my mouth from
the dust stirred up by a hundred horses—/But the
floor is tile beneath my shoes."
are also religious
inspections which defy convention with challenging reconsiderations
such as in
"Mary, Mother of God": "i wonder how you,/Mary, Mother of
God,/felt when the Spirit/tore through you, not even/seeking
permission,/invading you/in the rape of rapes—/did you feel anger, for
moment, or merely pain?"
a different flow, meaning, and impact. Each offers startling contrasts
perception, experience, and belief systems.
poems in collection form a representative series of questions and
about collective experience and the dance between life and death.
diverse free verse formats and expressions that are as startling as
delicately woven will find much to like and discuss in the evocative
words of Laura
Williams, which should be included in
any modern poetry collection.
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I Would Tell
You If I
The Troy Book Makers
ASIN: B084KJY74G $4.99 Kindle
I Would Tell You If I Could: and Other Stories
is a debut literary
collection of short works that focus on characters of all ages poised
changed circumstances and tries to re-envision and better understand
lives and how they arrived at this point. Each very different life
opportunity for doing things differently or perceiving things in a new
"The Ghost of Frankie Greengrass," for example. The first-person
narrator, Pete, is "sitting at the bar in Doyle's Tavern drinking
drafts with Frankie Greengrass, trying to pretend that thirty years
It's hard to
when the tavern is filled with the ghosts of yesteryear, but Frankie
spirit. Not yet. And the narrator acknowledges that he hasn't lived in
area since college; after which, the ravages of time have changed
Pete's nostalgic consideration of relationships past and gone and the
self-loathing that invites these ghosts of the past to take hold in his
they receive a sketch of Pete's life and a series of interactions with
that stretch the boundaries of past and present connections.
ghosts wait in the wings as Pete ties up loose ends and solidified
duties, and carries out his future options.
evocative prose, Mr. Sylvester portrays the nuances that influence Pete
moves into this changing world.
contrast, "Richie's Girl," which depicts a dance between Kathi
(Richie's girl) and the narrator. The year is 1974; and booze,
drugs are the cultural crutches of the times.
known Kathi for five years, but Richie has claim to her because he's
has a car. Kathi never paid much attention to the narrator...until
after she breaks up with Richie.
returns to this story to make an appearance that portends that they are
waning years of best friendship—a "...relationship that by its nature
be consigned to the attic of nostalgia."
crowd of irregulars, regulars, and friends heats up, a decision is made
in a way that will change forever old friendships in one night.
The New York
of some of these pieces and people and the shifting tides of their
relationships to each other and their self-perception permeate stories
thought-provoking slices of life incorporating the elements of personal
and interpersonal connection.
settings, characters, and messages capture the thin line between
routines and unfamiliar responses to changed circumstances and times.
stories, Mr. Sylvester creates a series of questions about how
go of the past and move in new directions.
depth, social introspection, and lives of quiet desperation will
attract readers who like their short literary works to resonate with
of everyday life challenges through short reads that impart much food
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collection Impressions: Short Letters
symbolize his thoughts throughout a span of years, and represents a
life meanings through an examination of memories and world experience.
heady reading, be advised that the short pieces in Impressions
cultivate a tone and inspection that is meant to linger
in the mind without challenging the reader's ability to easily absorb
Childhood," for example—the opening piece in the collection. Pandit's
memories and reflections of youth are presented in a series of
of which may be accused of being run-on sentences unless the reader
that these stream-of-thought associations are actually connected jigsaw
of impressions that, when linked together, form a uniform evolutionary
experience: "I hear an anthem, I see
the march of the troops, there is a show of strength, of stature; this
anthem of a nation, a nation celebrating the continuance of a new era,
birth of its freedom; then after a while as the celebrations wind down,
a cry, a cry of a new life, one who may be a few months old; this I say
an anthem, perhaps a far superior one, one that our ears invariably
tune in to;
one that needs no salute, no flag, no armor; one that lives in all yet
to each, and one that a child speaks well before he knows his nation or
God; even the brave soldier lends his hand to protect such a one, for
anthem transcends every other, this is the anthem of life, the anthem
of our humanity."
This is just
example of the form these reflections cultivates: a blend of metaphor,
and memory that serve as testimonies to the rhythms and sequences of
through the collection, it's evident that Pandit's works are diverse,
philosophical, and reflective in nature. They hold the ability to link
individual experience with the broader historical backdrop that is the
short forms they are, these impressions serve up digestible thoughts
by real-world contacts that make them particularly accessible to either
readers or those with short attention spans: "Every
feeling of happiness, every celebration of victory, every
excitement of a journey, and even every moment of joy comes to an end
course. These rules apply to one and all, to every life, as history
civilizations rise and fall, species come and go, to make way for what
in form but carries much the same in spirit—the spirit of nature
there was no
better time to publish Impressions
than now, when the Twitter generation and others look for meaning in
brief form rather than in "longhand."
focus on a
variety of topics, from music and the arts to poetic metaphors of life
experience and growth, Impressions
an item of choice for a variety of readers. It will reach literature
enthusiasts and philosophy students as well as those who look for
expressions that use the mechanism of language to translate the
experiences of life into a meaningful draw that illustrates both the
"power of the pen" and the ability to assemble "worthy thoughts"
that lend to discussion and life celebration alike.
go, Impressions is a clear literary
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Susan K. Hagen
Antrim House Books
Shall We Dance? Poems of Desire and Meditation
comes from a poet
who has 40 years of teaching medieval literature. This background
allows her to
craft especially artistic reflections strongly rooted in poetic
form: something the typical free-verse presentation too often eschews.
reflections stem from literary experience, as in "After Reading
Hafiz." Many of these poems will benefit from a literature-savvy
reader: "Herbert tried. And Donne knew the
body/was kin to the spirit,/but prayed to be battered rather than
literary background in order to appreciate the reflections on desire
gratitude embedded in many of these pieces: "In
the gray of morning just before the/orange-red rising of the sun,/I put
to incense,/breathe gently on the ember glow,/watch bluish smoke
spiraling image of gratefulness/and supplication,/dispersing into air."
desire, and life themes coalesce, Hagen ultimately celebrates the
reflected in nature with lyrical works that sometimes contain a
as in "True Subjunctive."
"the difference between tourist and pilgrim." The fine lines explored
here traverse human nature and contemplate interactions with the
reflect her professional familiarity with the works of Rumi and Hafiz's
mystical poetic styles of observation. This will especially appeal to
already familiar with these poets and their special blend of spiritual
seeking modern works rooted in literary approaches of the past will
find Shall We Dance? a fine
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Grandson: A Black, Gay Minister’s Passage
Out of Hiding
Cedrick D. Bridgeforth
Alabama Grandson: A Black, Gay Minister’s Passage
Out of Hiding
details Cedrick D. Bridgeforth's coming out journey, his family
and the processes of both living in hiding and finally revealing the
loved ones and those around him. It's a familiar story on one level,
the spiritual and social impact of being a black Southern minister adds
dimensions of dilemma and complexity to the story.
preface, a letter to his dead grandmother, provides an early inkling of
soul-wrenching his experience is: "On the short walk from my
your gravesite across the ankle-high Kentucky bluegrass and Bermuda
I’m consumed with anguish. Would you appreciate who I have become?
accept me or would you rebuff me? You were a wife, mother, grandmother,
great-grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin; you were Southern Baptist,
class, conservative. You had a sixth-grade education. You were a
midwife, and a great cook. You were impeccable with housework, a wiz in
garden, thrifty, a generous giver. Yet you never came across as a
person. You were settled and secure in who you were. I crave a similar
and confidence in my own life. But instead, I have struggled to embrace
identities and celebrate my existence. I learned to lie about who I am.
learned to hide in plain sight."
between lifestyles, inherent belief systems, social experience, and
bonds tested by Bridgeforth's efforts to stay true to family and self
make for engrossing reading.
will readily relate to these experiences (and perhaps will be the most
audience for this memoir), it's the Southern or black reader who really
be the interested party, here. Alabama
Grandson is as much about being black and religious in the
South as it is
about a truth the author struggled to reveal, both in himself and to
It incorporates his entire experience, from moving to California for
opportunities and the engagement he entered into, to his evolving
stay true to himself: "I also had a
responsibility to follow opportunities and options that would improve
standard of living and move me into greater understanding of my life’s
Domino’s was not doing that for me. It was a reminder of what I was not
accomplishing and of who I did not want to be in the world."
reflects on his own steady family's heritage and remaining unresolved
about its legacy, the dissolution of relationships he'd hoped would
forever, and the importance of solid life lessons he absorbed from his
upbringing, readers receive an unusually astute consideration of how he
to live a more authentic life, incorporating this background into not
development, but his vision of the future: "The
lessons learned since early childhood have shaped me and informed how I
in the world. There are those who celebrate with me and there are those
who do not
understand why I do what I do. I have tripped over just as many
obstacles as I
Alabama Grandson reviews more than just a
gay man's coming out
experience. It's the story of how family heritage passes along values
approaches to life that remain vivid, relevant, and powerful under the
of the South, of love, of black men and oppression, and of
that leaves readers thinking long after Bridgeforth's story concludes,
powerful letter to his grandmother celebrating his journey.
Return to Index
and Client to Best Friends for Life: A True
978-0578958798 $24.50 Hardcover
Author website: https://alexanderbrilee.com
interested in memoirs of love, friendship, and growth will find
Escort and Client to Best Friends for Life: A True Story embraces the full flavors of experience of
gay lifestyle and friendship story. It's a read especially recommended
those who look for the added touch of different perspectives—a rare
a memoir to take.
Brian and Lee's long friendship defied the norms in many ways; not the least of which was the unspoken rule (applicable to escorts and clients alike) that "The advice that you will find on the web for someone thinking of calling an escort is that you should never call an escort if you're looking for a friend. An escort should not think of a client as a friend."
The big question that
remains is: "Is it possible then to go from
an escort-client relationship to a
relationship of best friends and for that new relationship to last?"
Lee's experience is any indicator, the answer is a resounding "yes,"
and their memoir tells of this transformation and how it happened.
world of gay escorts and their clients, those whose experience lies
this milieu learn much about the escort business and its possibilities
with a dyslexia he didn't know he had until it was diagnosed when he
adulthood and his entry into escorting to resolve his ongoing financial
to how he was initially controlled by older man Patrick, who made sure
contacts consisted of unattractive men, the story winds through Lee's
experience and then Brian's life.
attention as Brilee surveys how they entered into the escort world from
backgrounds and expectations, their encounters with each other, and the
elements that would build an unexpectedly long-lasting friendship.
included in the
story is the background of Britain, the ravages of AIDS and its social
psychological effects on the gay community, and shared experiences in
and social encounters which were initially tempered by caution: "It was difficult at first for Lee to
believe that Brian was someone he could trust, someone who really loved
would always care about him."
One might expect a romance
with such connections, but
another special note to the story is that Brian and Lee are loving best
friends. This operates outside of a love relationship and raises
identifying partners and best friends separately, and how a best friend
exist alongside and within a partnership or marriage relationship.
Client to Best Friends for Life ultimately considers the
influences on connections between friends, what makes for a long-term
friendship, and how that differs from a love relationship.
These questions and more,
set against the backdrop of
evolving friendships, relationships, and experiences, make Gay Escort and Client to Best Friends for Life
a standout not only
in LBGTQ literature; but for anyone interested in how close
maintained, evolve, and grow against all odds.
It should be noted that
Alexander Brilee is a pseudonym
for the two authors of this dual memoir. It was written together by
Lee, which are pseudonyms used throughout.
strong in memoirs, LBGTQ literature, or
probes of friendships and lifelong connections will want to add Gay Escort and Client to Best Friends for
Life to their collection.
Return to Index
White Bird Publications
978-1-63363-537-1 $18.99 print; $7.99 Digital
Website/ordering link: susan-cole.com
ever bought into a partner's dream and embarked on a life-changing
because of this decision will recognize themselves in Susan Cole's
memoir Holding Fast. On the
surface, it's a
memoir about sailing. In reality, it's a foray into not just adventure,
loss, as a young family embarks on a trip that not only challenges
notions, but Cole's own trajectory in life.
sailing was her husband John's dream—not hers. Having a child only
their different visions of the future, so when it came time for his to
brought to life, Susan was not exactly on board: "Kate
told her class the next day that she was sailing to the
Caribbean and snorkeling, and she wasn’t going to school anymore. Her
a sailor, was thrilled for her and asked her to write the class about
adventures. She promised they would write back. I wish it had been that
for me. I did not want to go. John would tease me and say, 'I’ll have
you out kicking and screaming, clinging to the garden.' I imagined
red-faced and shrieking, my fingers black with dirt, while John yanked
and Kate stared open-mouthed."
adventure component to life as their little boat sails through waters
in her experience: "In over twenty
years of sailing, I had been frightened before: on a friend’s sailboat
mast split in half and swung menacingly over the deck, or on an
drunken attempt to tow Phaedrus when
the tow-boat capsized, throwing John and me into the cold water of Long
Sound, or on Block Island when Phaedrus
went aground in the channel and in our zeal to free the
boat, John broke
his hand on a spinning winch. But none of those occurrences took place
middle of the night out in the stormy Atlantic with our young daughter
The other times, we were near the shore, and in Block Island, we went
in front of the Coast Guard station. Now, if we tumbled into the water,
on our own."
similar dreams of sailing off into the sunset receive a realistic
both the positives and the negatives of doing so, while women who have
a partner's dreams receive a healthy dose of reality as Cole navigates
uncharted waters, but the special challenge of keeping her family safe
with Hurricane Mitch, possibly stranded off-boat in a tropical paradise
battered by uncertainty and winds, to a health crisis which brings with
unexpected reliance on the survival tactics the family honed on their
boat, readers are treated to a thoroughly absorbing story that embraces
different facets of confronting life's unexpected moments.
bring her memoir full circle from a sailing adventure and adjustments
family must make to a struggle with personal adversity links the two
in a satisfying, unique manner: "When
we had sailed in New England, we often ran into fogbanks, seeping gray
that hardened into sheets with blue sky right up to the edge. When I
a telltale gray wall on the water, my stomach clenched, and fear would
over. I begged John to turn the boat around. But he sent me forward to
lookout and on we would go. He took our bearings every few minutes, so
our course. Once we were in the fog and could see immediately around
us, the fear
abated. Moving forward cautiously was a template for facing danger."
is a vivid
story of survival and adaptation that operates on many different
promising to attract not just readers of true-life adventure, but those
want stories of endurance and moving forward.
did, just say "yes" to this enlightening, moving story, which is
highly recommended reading not just for memoir enthusiasts, but for
interested in stories of adventure, family, and survival.
Return to Index
In Search of
Science, and God
Sadhan Majumder, Ph.D.
979-8735256304 $12.95 Paper/$5.95 Kindle
Search of Love,
Science, and God: A Memoir by a Cancer Scientist comes
professor of genetics at a major cancer center in the United States who
already published an extensive list of research materials.
His memoir offers something
different: the opportunity to
consider lessons from the microbiology lab as they apply to health,
the pursuit of happiness. It imparts these considerations in a sweeping
examination of his life in India, his research studies, and his
navigating American culture and exciting new studies alike.
It should be stated that,
first and foremost, In Search of Love,
Science, and God is a
memoir. As it follows Dr. Majumder's
life experiences and the influences on his perspectives, the story
successes and failures that honed his experience and expertise as well
focus of his research: "I failed my
qualifying exam. I had to rewrite the proposal and take the exam again.
passed on my second attempt. But I learned a valuable lesson for
grant proposals in my future life. The grant proposal needed to be very
specific and focused. When I would be a grant reviewer for NIH, I saw
grants rejected based on being “overambitious.” Although I did not like
outcome on my first exam, the examiners made me a better scientist."
From what it means to be a
scientist to how research
contributes to broader goals and meaning in life, Majumder's story
scientific, philosophical, and autobiographical processes and
for maximum impact: "I realize how
my contribution to science so far is like a drop of water in a flowing
which other scientists have contributed their drops. Perhaps one of the
significant changes in patient care I have witnessed, particularly in
is a continuing shift in the treatment regimen, from
treatment for all to individualized treatment based on personalized
circuitry. I feel good about my contribution and hope others will go on
even more far-reaching discoveries to help humankind. Science at its
always works that way."
This memoir will especially
appeal to readers of
scientific process, science and health professional memoirs, and
how science dovetails with real-life challenges and choices, but it
contains humor and wry observation as well as a focus on overcoming
in all walks of life, from an initially unrequited love that he turns
romantic connection to how he tackles racism and politics in the
and his new milieu as an American immigrant.
Many of his research and
scientific discoveries also link
directly to personal discoveries and mirror controversies and obstacles
society. One example is how his first lab lesson ties in directly to
events and challenges.
Another is how science
connections to God in unexpected
ways: "The precision with which our
body, which on the average contains about 30 trillion cells, is formed
one-cell embryo without making mistakes is simply stunning. This
accomplished because of billions of years of evolution—a process of
errors (mutations) in the genetic information, selecting the mutations
most suitable for our survival and generating progeny, and passing this
information on to the next generation. As I mentioned earlier, to me,
evolution as a means to create us. Who we would become is a combination
genetic gift of our earlier generations and the environment in which we
As Dr. Majumder
weaves his growth as a scientist, professional, and American into
pictures of personal discovery and evolution, readers begin to realize
of this memoir's difference from most other stories of scientists or
ability to connect micro and macro worlds, from lab studies to
traits that lead to not just rebellion or growth, but ultimately
draws direct links between science, human nature, and the process of
and transformation on many different levels.
Readers of health and
science topics alike will find In Search of
Love, Science, and God is
both a personal and professional voyage into research avenues that link
directly into improving as well as saving lives, and will find its
philosophical and scientific inspections astute and revealing, all
the backdrop of personal experience for added connection and attraction.
Return to Index
Kiss My Mike
979-8517600318 $15.99 Paper/$8.99 ebook
Author website: www.kissmymike.com
My Mike is the memoir of a
Filipino immigrant to
America who navigates not only a new country, but the challenge of
gay, and both enthralled by America, yet rooted in his native country.
Mike Talplacido was only ten when he became
fascinated with American culture in the Philippines in 1989. As the
opens, this attraction blends into daily family life through an
meaningful family interactions, Catholic religious foundations, and the
and foods of the Philippines.
Three years later, the narrator receives his
first clue that he might be gay, with summertime sexual experiences
new possibilities about his psyche, preferences, and life. The cultural
expectations and milieu that enters into these early encounters is
well done: "Culturally, the expectation in the Philippines
boys would eventually marry girls. If not, they would end up being a
even though Paul touched me, it meant nothing as I was still on track
fulfilling my destiny of one day marrying a girl."
As Mike grows and evolves, so do his
interests and his blossoming sexuality, which leans more and more
homosexuality despite social pressures and norms.
As he enters high school and questions
whether or not he's gay, readers receive inspections that reflect a
interest in pop culture and both sexes. Mike discusses courtship norms
Philippines, explores his changing self and world, and embarks on a
that eventually leads him to come out to his family.
It should be cautioned, at this point, that
the sexual encounters are quite graphically portrayed. Readers who seek
circumspect accounts should look elsewhere; but those who want no
pulled will find these descriptions part of the candor Talplacido
narrating his story.
The coming out portion of this story feels
familiar, resonating with so many similar accounts: "I wasn’t
to expect when I came out to my family. I knew in my gut that I wanted
it. Partly because I felt like I was no longer sharing my life with
felt like there was a part of me that was hidden, and it was affecting
relationship as it felt everything else was simply becoming too
that our connections were not growing. On my phone calls with my
often asked me about my work, and about my health, and then about other
basic stuff that, quite frankly, never had any depth."
Readers who seek memoirs about gay life and
immigrant experience which embrace a sense of family and change will
My Mike to be frank, honest, revealing, and focused on all
It dovetails well with other memoirs, and is
recommended for any collection strong in LBGTQ stories and social and
Return to Index
Anita Hinson Cauthen
Lancaster Bakery: Thank you, Come
Back to See Us blends a memoir with a cookbook, juxtaposing recipes
with memories as it explores the family history of a small Southern
bakery that operated during the 1940s through the 80s in Lancaster,
Cauthen's childhood was influenced by this family business, which
world and that of her identical twin sister Rita. From the processes,
interactions, and personal and business relationships of the extended
that ran this icon of success to its intimate depiction of bygone times
vanished way of life, Lancaster
Bakery pairs sweet
memories with bakery recipes
adapted for home cooks in a manner that will delight readers seeking
just another collection of restaurant specialties.
The memoir is arranged "...into small sections, based on the seasons and
memories, each with its own tastes, smells, and emotions."
digestible pieces allow for easy reading based not on the usual recipe
format, but the seasons, experiences, and celebrations that marked
days and processes.
Through Cauthen's eyes and
memories, readers gain a sense
of Lancaster then and now as an 1896 town primed for success with the
of the Lancaster Cotton Mill changed into a commuter town in 1993 when
closed, forcing residents to locate jobs further afield.
Of special note, too, are the vintage black and white photos liberally peppered throughout which mark such notable bakery achievements as Belk's regal birthday anniversary cake, proudly labeled and served with
Famous Tetley's Tea'. The
price and personality of the
bakery's production and the era are captured in these compelling images
As for the recipes, there
are many surprises, from a
Japanese Fruit Cake of raisins, apples, and spices to Oatmeal Rocks
Cookies...which may sound unappetizing, but which are packed with
oatmeal, and raisins and are based on a vanilla pound cake mix.
Bakery best-sellers are
arranged in their own chapter,
while other baked goods receive profile.
Juxtaposing the accounts of
community, business, and
social changes are observations of sister Rita, who suffered from
led to researcher interest in why one twin had the condition while the
did not, and resulted in her twin leading a socially isolated life.
The insights on how busy
bakery seasons formed the
foundations of family life are particularly well presented, woven into
bakery recipes that will attract cooks interested in regional bakery
These bring the recipes to life by adding a special ingredient not
in the ordinary cookbook—the personal touch of experience and loving
memory: "During the week of Mother’s Day, the
bakery’s bestseller was a twelve inch coconut cake decorated with one
Thank you, Come Back to See Us offers a bit of something for
will attract memoir readers interested in culinary journeys and local
But it also holds the fine taste of history for anyone who would absorb
flavor of small-town living in bygone years.
Return to Index
Love Has No Limits
Has No Limits is an Armenian
memoir charting a powerful
journey that began when sixteen-year-old Arminé fell in love, but had
that love behind when her parents decided to immigrate to the United
What her parents saw as new opportunities
translated only to grief and loss for the teen, who did not view
America in the
As events that began in 1963 blossomed to newfound determination, choices, and repeated challenges to finding lasting happiness, Arminé kept the connections between herself and Alex alive in hopes of a better future outcome, and overcame many obstacles in the course of realizing her dream.
Before that time came, Arminé cultivated new
dreams and romances, compromising on cultural differences not just in
relationship with Americans, but fellow immigrants born in other
As she and Alex both marry others but
somehow stay connected through those who know them both, their lives
experiences broaden, in their different countries.
Although she keeps making mistakes, Arminé's
resilience, and the life experiences based on her choices, contribute
upward trajectory that keeps readers engaged and interested in her
Arminé Papouchian narrates a story that
holds no linear progression, no simple answers, and many insights about
immigrant experiences, choices, and love.
Readers who like true romance stories as
well as accounts of perseverance and learning will find much to
Papouchian's life evolves.
At once a romance, a story of personal
revelation and learning, and an immigrant's account of creating a sense
place and family in a new environment, Love Has No Limits
will appeal to
memoir readers looking for strong writing, stories of love, and
survival on many different levels: "Somehow, I knew I was
going to be
OK and just as before, life would move on and although it had only been
months, it felt like I was at a better place and I no longer wondered
how I was
going to survive another loss. I had learned that the pain from loss
diminishes but your life around it grows so that the pain occupies a
place. I needed to once again refocus on what I had rather than what I
and make a conscious effort to be in the present moment, appreciate the
moment and what was around me and how my not-so-desirable experiences
helping me grow in ways that I would otherwise never have had the
Why did she write about her journey?
Papouchian says it best: "I knew I needed to continue to grow
person. I knew I had to think way beyond myself. Everyone had a story
wanted my story to inspire others."
Inspire, she does!
Return to Index
Diane E. Papalia Zappa
Bold Story Press
met Bob Zappa, each felt a powerful connection at first sight. There
one problem. They both were married. And neither would commit to each
give up their vows and partners.
So far, this
feels familiar. But, add the thought that their encounters would
a twenty-seven year period and The
Married Widow begins to assume a countenance few other love
Papalia met Bob
in 1986, but it wasn't until 2013 that they could cement their ongoing
connection. Before that happened, there was divorce, breakups between
a storm of connection and adversity that operated on many different
these are described here, along with family relationships and
brother, Frank Zappa, and his family are explored in the course of a
that lives beyond death. Papalia Zappa's experience with psychic Drew,
transmits additional comfort from the afterlife, is equally intriguing,
testifying to the timelessness of love's bonds: "This
experience with Drew was life changing. Nothing that Drew
said could be Googled or otherwise found on line. These were exactly
feelings Bob would have expressed to me in life. And it reassured me
although he isn’t physically present, he is very much with me."
the test of time and the challenges of separation and life experience?
Zappa provides some answers in her story, but she also crafts powerful
into how this process works long-term.
The Married Widow is an involving
account, highly recommended for
readers who enjoy love stories, and who are intrigued by the process of
connections that grow over decades, leading lovers in unexpected
that always come back to each other.
and faith will reach into many hearts and deserves a place not just in
biography collections, but in romance and spirituality sections as a
segue between romance fiction and life's reality.
Return to Index
of a Smalltown Boy Vol. 1
Libero Printemps Books
Available on Amazon.com, and bookstores everywhere, after October 1, 2021
Naked Ink: Diary of
a Smalltown Boy Vol. 1 should be
in any collection strong in LGBTQ
issues, and provides a multifaceted autobiography which embraces many
It comes from a struggling wannabe actor and art model whose pursuit of
fame in the early 1980s led to confronting his trauma as a teen and
its lasting impact on his life choices.
the years 1978 and 1979 in New York City, where Maxwell charts the
moving on from his past and his preoccupation with sexual fantasy.
by which he chronicles each day's reflections, achievements, and
follows Maxwell's determination to remain positive about his future
odds. It also captures the immediacy of opportunities that come with
and assessing personal connections and interactions.
navigates his dream of acting and his core beliefs of what it means to
be part of
a couple and to form meaningful, committed relationships, readers get a
inspection of a young man who not only kept a journal of everyday
but paired these entries with commentary about their underlying belief
"It says something of my egotistical, myopic view of the world
didn't consider the fact that someone else was more suited for the
someone else may very well have been more talented. Obviously, my
responses suggest that these two ideas crossed my mind all the time as
out to others, but to survive you had to do psychological jujitsu. Tell
yourself you were as good as the next, better than some, and lacking
to others. The trick was thinking you were worthy, if not even great,
time of your audition."
new to the process of auditioning and the success and failures in the
will be particularly attracted to the manner in which Maxwell
LBGTQ audiences will likely find familiar this young man's professional
personal growth process as he searches for his role on and off stage.
the pain and joy of new loves and revisits old ones, readers will find
first volume of Naked Ink thoroughly engrossing,
both for its personal
reflections and for its interpersonal approaches to life.
Return to Index
of a Smalltown Boy Vol. 2
Libero Printemps Books
Available on Amazon.com, and bookstores everywhere, after October 1, 2021
first volume of this two-book memoir will be intrigued with Naked
of a Smalltown Boy Vol. 2, that covers the years 1980 to '82,
moved "from no to yes, seemingly overnight" and becomes involved in a
committed love relationship.
chronological order of diary entries paired with contemporary
commentary on his
state of mind and contents affords a detailed review of life both at
of the events and in hindsight; an approach that shows an evolving
married to getting mugged and progressing in the art modeling business
navigating life in New York City, Volume II continues the
examination as the author embraces life-changing experiences and
maturity Maxwell demonstrates between these two volumes of
entries is more than evident, allowing readers to absorb the influences
life on the cusp as Maxwell and Coo move forward as a couple.
they embarked upon represents a momentous change in perspective, place,
ambition as Maxwell continued to expand his boundaries in unexpected
bringing readers along for the ride.
seeking an in-depth analysis filled with reflections on growth and
will find this book and its companion thought-provoking reading.
Return to Index
No Rules: A Memoir
She Writes Press
Author Sharon Dukett came of age during the
1970s, and No Rules: A Memoir captures this era in
a series of memories
that begin in January, 1971 in Connecticut. Here, readers receive the
of a sixteen-year-old girl dressing to run away to California, to join
As the older Eddie, sister Anne, and Sharon
embark on a cross-country journey, readers receive a compelling story
motivated by the author's desire "not to drown" in her parents'
The child of immigrant parents, Dukett
describes how she was raised "as though we were living in England."
Her mother's determination to raise better-behaved children than the
American child resulted in rules and guidelines that deviated from the
neighborhood kids and Dukett's peers.
When young, she assumes her mother knows
best. As she grows older, she rebels. Her sojourn into a counterculture
in search of an elusive happiness her parents never seemed to
their home environment offers many thought-provoking moments as readers
Dukett into a world of drugs, sex, and the rise of women's liberation.
As the story moves from California back East
to Boston and Provincetown, the narrator considers the many people she
and her search for an elusive love which leads her to question her
with perfectionist Ernie.
As commune life introduces her to other
couples and raises possibilities of yet another kind of future, Dukett
readers into not just counterculture worlds and thinking, but the
belief, conviction, and lifestyle changes influenced by both parental
and a search for self.
She excels at contrasting these outer and
inner influences and the quandaries she faces between her idealism and
reality of her choices.
These features strengthen a memoir that is a
portrait in opposing values systems and forces, growth, and
relationships during an era in which social norms were being tested.
What losses lead Dukett and her friends to
reconsider the trajectory of their lives? As she charts the influences
to revelation and change, readers will find her story of the 1960s and
(and, particularly, the kinds of social changes that guide her own
love and self-identity) to be particularly compelling reading.
Readers seeking a memoir that embraces
personal, social, and cultural change and epitomizes the atmosphere of
times will find No Rules an intriguing examination
of power, control,
influence, and evolution. Its ability to capture the process of
growth and the logical and illogical deductions that emerge during this
is particularly well done, and will lend to discussion as well as
about the times.
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Racing with Aloha
Morgan James Publishing
Racing with Aloha:
An Inspiring Journey from Humble
Barefoot Maui Boy to Champion in the Water
will delight readers who love memoirs steeped in the atmosphere of
Hawaii and the culture of surfing. It deserves a spot in any collection
sports and Hawaiian culture are a strength.
be noted there are some fifteen pages of accolades preceding the story,
foreword by a fellow windsurfing competitor and fitness leader Laird
who outlines why readers unfamiliar with Haywood or windsurfing should
this memoir appealing. A note by Mike Waltze comments on Maui's rise to
the Mecca of windsurfing.
such volume would be less than desirable at the start of a book, each
offers more than praise, adding further insights into author Fred
personality, background, and experience that, together, serve as a fine
introduction to his book.
pages into the book, Haywood's voice finally comes to light. Its
mild start disguises a powerful current to his story: "I had
the windsurfing world speed record in 1983, breaking the thirty-knot
Weymouth, England, but that’s not how I made my name in the sport. My
on a day when I was surfing alone, thanks to an eccentric and very
fellow windsurfer and cover photographer for such magazines as Vogue
who showed up to watch me after everyone else had left the beach for
unfolds, readers receive a contrast between Hawaiian culture and life
Western attitudes and perceptions, whether it's about education and
sports: “I’m bilingual. I speak English and Hawaiian pidgin.
So just put me
through bonehead English. I’ll be out of your hair in four years.”
pause. Then, the dean laughed. And I laughed. Then I got serious. I
I intended to improve my verbal skills. I explained that my whole
future was at
stake, and I knew it. It was the reason I had left Maui to swim for
I wanted to attend Stanford. It was my ticket off the plantation."
each of the challenges that change his world, from real estate ventures
encounters with sharks and ill winds that blow him into danger on the
he came to
set world records and ride the biggest wave in the world makes for
"you are here" reading that will delight avid surfers and armchair
with Aloha as a memoir alone would be to do it a disservice.
exploration of surfing, Hawaiian culture, and how his own life unfolds
a multifaceted read recommended not just for memoir readers, but anyone
interest in Hawaii and surfing culture.
Return to Index
All the Whys of
Delilah's Demise blends a
dystopian thriller with an
investigative mystery, and will draw from sci-fi and suspense audiences
as it probes New Seattle resident Delilah's fall from a balcony and the
suspicion that falls upon nineteen-year-old Scottie as being involved
accident, Scottie was a new intern at New Seattle’s Social Agency,
being the liaison with Delilah. Before the last morning of Delilah's
Scottie had just decided she wanted to be more visible. But, not this
is a neural
mesh embedded in Scottie's brain that acts as her personal assistant,
becomes much more than a communication chip, accessing a knowledge
after Delilah's death.
tracks down the real perp and opens a can of worms in the process of
investigation, readers are carried into a future world where threats
from unusual places.
embraces her relationship with Dax, one of her PALs ("Permanent Allies
Life, a link more formal than friend but less binding than family"),
covering Cece's evolving importance in guiding her away from trouble as
skirts the threats of disaster that come from the Code Enforcement
Maslakovic's story is a standout not just because of its smooth
between dystopian sci-fi and murder mystery, but because of the many
inspections that are woven into the story. As an unlikely hero who
People List of others who may be similarly targeted, Scottie explores
motivations and life in the course of becoming increasingly involved in
dangerous effort to uncover the truth.
All the Whys of
Delilah's Demise is about more
than why Delilah died. It's
about a new adult's interactions with technological enhancements, her
for self, her probe of illusions, memories, perceptions, and her
take to find home, love, and safety in a manipulated world? Scottie's
to find out reaches into the reader's heart as she considers what it
be a controlled, automated product of society versus a thinking, free
woman surrounded by family and friends who truly love her.
All the Whys of
Delilah's Demise is a
thought-provoking story that marries
high technology, social inspection, mystery, and dystopian sci-fi under
cover in a seamless manner to keep a wide audience guessing about the
Return to Index
M. J. Polelle
978-0960086320 $14.95 paper/$3.99 ebook
charge of protecting the President of the United States. Picture that a
lapse in your attention resulted in his assassination. Wouldn't you try
amends for your terrible failure? American
Conspiracy takes this scenario and turns it upside down as
detective Jim Murphy struggles to address his failures, his
and a new case involving the disappearances of several Chicago gang
going on than redemption and ruin, here, because young vice president
Taylor is thrust into power to confront the likelihood of a conspiracy
continues to threaten not just the highest levels of political circles,
a tense thriller that explores both political and personal circles of
within two very different individuals who both struggle with their
roles and duties.
Senex and his gang plot a coup that will change the face of
perceiving Dallas Taylor to be a threat to the nation, D.C. politics
personalities clash in efforts which should be uniform, but often work
tension through fine characterization and quickly changing
intersect the special interests of the Chicago Police Department and
cops. From issues of trust to international influences on America's
and criminal influences, Polelle creates a multifaceted journey which
predictable conclusion as it traverses many complex relationships that
on different levels.
readers won't see many of these twists and turns coming. And even the
seasoned genre fan will find American
Conspiracy replete in a social and political arena and
is as much about ideals and perceptions as about solving a murder
injection of romance into the story, American
Conspiracy becomes a close inspection of idealism, values
gone awry, and
good intentions turned bad. Its political suspense story and mystery
thoroughly engross readers seeking a solid examination that embraces
generations of Americans and the chasms between their beliefs and
becomes a solidly thought-provoking, action-packed story that's hard to
or put down.
Return to Index
Body on the
Anamcara Press, LLC
1871, Mary Fanning discovers the body of her neighbor, who has been
bed. As she becomes the first female reporter for the Kansas Daily
an effort that leads to a meteoric rise in political involvements, The
on the Bed becomes an engrossing blend of detective story and
commentary that follows Mary into not just into a murder investigation,
Readers who expect a whodunit will find this story much more multifaceted as it explores one woman's evolution into becoming a powerful, conscientious force in Lawrence, Kansas.
most mysteries, Leonard Krishtalka identifies the foundations of this
intriguing piece, which hold firm roots in reality, providing a
explanation of what makes this particular tale so compelling: "The
events...took place during 1871–1872 in Lawrence and Garnett, Kansas.
were derived from newspaper accounts and historical and legal
excerpts of which are quoted verbatim for authenticity, or rephrased
dramatic effect. The fiction weaves the facts together through
conversation. Similarly, most of the characters in this novel were
although literary license has sculpted their individual personas and
true crime and real-world biographical history elevates the entire
story to a
much more complex, intriguing level than fiction alone could have
that the main character is spunky and forthright, taking advantage of
opportunities to educate her fellow man (and woman) about changing
norms: “Will you have that drink now, Miss Fanning?” He
motioned to the bar.
“I have news. It … uh … it would interest you.” “Thank you, Mr.
not ‘Miss’ but ‘Mrs.’—Mrs. Apitz, to be exact, as you will learn when I
the stand. The English language denies women a simple salutation that
independent of marital status. Much like the government denies us the
are ‘Mr.’—married or not. Plus they have the vote. Why don’t you write
editorial about this egregious inequality for your newspaper. Then I’ll
judicial system and its processes to Mary's discovery of a plot that
not only her investigative skills and determination, but her struggles
women's independence, The Body on the Bed
incorporates so many elements
of social inspection that to call it a detective story alone would be
to do it
a grave injustice.
also complex and involving, however, many a mystery and detective
especially those who enjoy historical backdrops and strong female
will find The Body on the Bed thoroughly
engrossing. From its literary
prose which is both astute and compelling writing to Krishtalka's
ability to craft an atmospheric read, it's filled with surprises and
right up to its unexpected ending, which proves that a woman can do
anything...even if this is not necessarily a good thing.
Return to Index
Capitol Murder is a political suspense thriller centered on a
contract that results in special interests who will murder high
keep the bill from passing Congress.
advertising agency has won the healthcare account that stands to gain
positive vote, but she becomes involved in a murder investigation when
of Congress begin to die. One of these deaths is her best friend
probe these killings. Although the FBI is on the case, Madison and
personal stakes in its outcome and join their investigation, only to
personal danger as a too-lucrative contract threatens some 5,000
healthcare plans which face demise if healthcare coverage is provided
mystery drives an involving plot, the real meat of Capital
in its social and political inspections of who tends to gain and lose
healthcare industry in behind-the-scenes manipulations and maneuvers.
emerges, in this story, as a force to contend with, overseeing these
interest groups and protecting them with a heavy hand.
adept at capturing the political atmosphere of Washington D.C. More
murder story alone, the injection of Congressional processes, the
special interest forces, and Ellie's evolving pivotal role in the fate
entire U.S. healthcare industry makes for enlightening, compelling
probes interpersonal relationships and political interests alike.
well drawn and continuous throughout, but it's the juxtaposition of
and special interests with US Congress actions and objectives which
realistic feel to the murder mystery as it unfolds.
Capitol Murder is political murder mystery writing at its best.
It is highly
recommended reading for those who seek far more than a whodunit, but a
probe of how special interests go beyond the call of democracy in their
to support wealth-producing programs at the expense of the American
health and welfare.
Return to Index
Indies United Publishing House, LLC
978-1-64456-378-6 $14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
is the third mystery
Trisha Carson series set in the San Francisco Bay area, and will
readers familiar with the area as Trisha confronts yet another
a very realistic scenario: Trisha has been convinced by her sister to
open water swimming in a beautiful Napa lake in order to lose a few
a venture might be challenged only by swimsuit sizes. For Trisha, it's
exercise in confronting her fears; for not long ago, she was forced to
a very similar environment to escape a psychotic murderer.
calls forth PTSD memories that resurface, but there's more going on
recovery from trauma. Trisha also unearths a puzzle that continues to
as she vanquishes one black cloud, only to confront another.
creates a powerful portrait of not just another murder mystery, but an
investigator still recovering from the last one.
time to craft family backgrounds steeped in Bay Area culture and
relationships: "I lived in Earl’s
house now. A well-known architect constructed the beautiful estate in
north of the Golden Gate Bridge, on the edge of La Cruz Canyon. Earl
my father’s friend for years and Dad lives there, too. Last year, I
of my sister’s extra bedroom in San Rafael when I found out she was
the plump little guy passed out in the stroller next to me."
These lend a
realistic tone and absorbing backdrop to Trisha's experiences and lead
and newcomers to her adventures to appreciate her history, connections,
meaning of the new paths she attempts to forge in her life.
contribute a solid foundation to the mystery that embraces her and
to return to many prior scenes of trauma in the course of her
The contrasts between past experience and present-day mandates are very
juxtaposed: "I hadn’t been out to
China Camp since the summer before, when Shari Granter’s body washed up
shore. Sheri and Lena grew up together and spent afternoons in pools
the county. Her death was deemed a murder. It shocked everyone. I’d
spent a lot
of hours driving back and forth on the winding road to the popular
on the edge of San Pablo Bay trying to figure out who had done it and
time, driving there didn’t have the same fierce sense of purpose. I
talk to my dad about the missing/not-missing Tyler, even though I’d
wouldn’t. But really, I just wanted to see him."
As in life,
little straightforward as the story unfolds; either in Trisha's family
relationships or in the mystery which hits too close to home.
As she falls
danger due to Earl's choices, high-tech houses and AI technology enter
picture to provide intriguing components that elevate Dead
Code beyond the usual whodunit approaches.
missing friends, Trisha follows a convoluted path. Even genre-savvy
will find themselves surprised by the unexpected twists and turns the
Dead Code is not your usual murder
mystery. With its satisfying
psychological and technological backdrops, its portrait of PTSD
recovery as new
dilemmas continue to evoke bad memories and challenge Trisha's
solve problems, and its consideration of a woman who doesn't know if
swimming, investigating, or high-tech problem solving, the story is
multifaceted and complex. It lingers in the mind long after Trisha
solutions that open doors to new problems and opportunities alike.
Return to Index
readers will find Don't Get Caught
powerful story made all the more intriguing by its roots in a real
occurred in the Midwest. Jamie Stoudt loosely bases this story on these
fictionalizing the narrative for added dramatic impact.
Driscoll is a
respected Minnesota statesman who runs a truck leasing company.
Narrated by his
son, Victor's activities, business, and dubious actions are revealed
with a wry
tone of truth and insight: "His
little business had more customers than he could count, but they all
financing, and Dad claimed all bankers were bastards back in the
was well educated, a veteran, a great salesman, and everybody’s friend.
Unfortunately, he didn’t know a damn thing about heavy trucks, so that
day of business at Minnesota On-Road Equipment Company (More-Co) was
on the long and exciting journey toward its failure."
community, Victor Driscoll is also a war hero. But his sons Kelly and
become involved when evidence of fraud emerges to threaten everything
has built from the leasing business. The truths they discover about
father's activities and subterfuge will shake the community.
different goals in becoming involved in the investigation. Ryan only
exonerate his father, while Kelly wants the real truth to come to
seems unlikely that either can achieve their goal by hiring
temperamental office manager/investigator Margaret Kratski and equally
angry ex-Marine Donna Carlasccio to help them track down the truth and
embark on an adventure of exposé and discovery, readers will find Don't Get Caught replete in moral and
ethical conundrums, dubious business operations and concepts, and a
the times that brings the economic, social, and political milieu to
playing a dangerous game, indeed. It's one that will ultimately
reputation and his wealth, and which draws his sons into the future of
Leasing in ways neither could have anticipated.
To call Don't Get Caught a legal thriller alone
would be to do it an injustice. The political, social, and
and turns, spiced by irony and humor along the way, reach out to
more than just a foray into legal concerns.
especially skilled at portraying confrontations between characters
action-packed, spicy, and wry: "The
look Rhonda Jane gave me could weld steel, but once she figured out
staredown might take the rest of the week, she gave it up. “I need to
my attorney...Rhonda Jane got out of the booth and stormed toward the
and the back offices. The sheriff turned toward his lead deputy and
enough for her to hear, “Lane, please follow Ms. Teske, and if she
anything other than her purse, give me a shout. If she heads to the
room, follow her in. She can pee at home.”
capture moral, ethical, family, and interpersonal dilemmas against the
of a bigger picture involving schemes and plots creates a thriller
satisfying twists and turns.
Don't Get Caught is fast-paced, nicely
populated by intriguing
characters, and filled with questions about motivation, good and bad
intentions, and business interests gone awry.
in for a treat.
Return to Index
The Final Yen
R. Sebastian Bennett
Milford House Press/Sunbury Press
professional invitations you can't say no to. And when you do say yes,
are dire consequences that embrace many different levels of threat.
In Tokyo, in
young American businessman is framed for a crime he didn't commit, and
threatened with imprisonment. Nobody will help him. The witnesses to
supposed crime were his friends.
The Final Yen documents his flight from
Japan and his interactions
with its culture; but more importantly, this is a survey of Japanese
and business community that lends many insights into not just Japanese
but the interactions between men and women within and outside of that
excels in injecting many insights about Eastern and Western
perceptions throughout the story, from the start: "All
Japanese businessmen drank Scotch, just like they all used
chopsticks to eat their sticky rice. Ono leaned forward. “It is good
to drink together,” he said...“We are all Tokyo businessmen, and we
drink.” Ono’s words were a little slurred, but I understood his real
point. He was
trying to minimize our differences, to group us all together in a set
dominoes. In a way, it was touching."
between Western and Eastern perceptions of beauty and propriety to the
interactions that present challenges to Westerners doing business in
Bennett creates a powerful story packed with insights and descriptions:
"I clasped my hands together in front
of me in an attempt to show how cooperative I intended to be, how
was, and how much I ought to be released. I tried not to think about
statistic that in Japan, 99% of all accused
individuals were eventually found guilty…"
business philosophy blend in a powerful story surrounding a mystery, a
challenge, and a set of seemingly casual circumstances that quickly
puzzling and dangerous to the protagonist. A subtle but notable touch
underlying humor marks many of the interactions.
weaving action into many of his insights about not just the culture but
sights, sounds, and experience that is Japan: "I
had tried to optimize Tokyo transportation, but I had failed.
Maybe I just tried too hard. Or was this my karmic punishment for being
a shikan, a train pervert, if that’s what I was? I couldn't
think clearly anymore. All I knew was that my head was throbbing. It
hell. And I just wanted to sleep."
juxtaposes intrigue, action, and cultural inspection, brings The Final Yen to life in a gripping
story that will delight a wide audience, from thriller and mystery
those who appreciate the added depth of intellectual inspection and
The Final Yen is a compelling story
recommended for business
readers, those interested in stories set in Japan, readers who want to
East/West incongruities and etiquette, and suspense readers who just
fine, vividly portrayed read that embraces a sense of place and purpose.
Return to Index
John J. Spearman
mystery readers will find FitzDuncan is set in
medieval times and tells
of P.I. Casimir FitzDuncan, whose latest case revolves around a woman
to escape an oppressive marriage contract with man who holds a
initial meeting, she is kidnapped, prompting FitzDuncan to embark on
mission to recover her and an effort to clear his own reputation,
question since he was the last person to see her.
opens, however, it's FitzDuncan who has been abducted, awakening in
a knot on his head and his quasi-friend Sir Oliver (Ollie) grilling him
the whereabouts of Miss Julienne Traval.
feature of this story is that FitzDuncan operates on both sides of the
Neither good nor bad guy entirely, his reputation for both brings with
murky set of objectives and influences that cause many to doubt his
ancestry (he's the eldest son of Duncan Barry, Earl of the Eastern
FitzDuncan goes his own way and has developed a wry sense of propriety
impropriety that often lands him in trouble as well as lending him a
for fact-finding savvy.
into dire straits in this story, which excels in presenting a flawed
doesn't always make the right choices.
progresses, John J. Spearman deftly juxtaposes history, fiction, and
investigative tactics in a multifaceted story designed to please a
audience, whether they originate from historical interests or choose
for its investigative mystery components.
task to represent medieval politics, culture, and people in such a way
come to life; especially for readers who may be unversed in this era.
accomplishes both while viewing events from the first-person
FitzDuncan, which lends a personal and immediate tone to the world
and his choices.
evolves, a surprise is embedded when FitzDuncan discovers that the
the kidnapper isn't actually obvious at all.
political conundrums he faces on who to trust and who is dangerous to
pursuit of a dangerous force steeped in deadly rituals, FitzDuncan
with royalty and dark forces alike.
pursuit of a
questionable truth and elusive justice is especially well written in
person and presented through his encounters with friends, superiors,
who confront him: "I thought quickly. “Your Majesty, I have
you would listen to what I have to say with an open mind. Your
dismiss your son from our meeting gives me hope that you will. I must
for your patience since it will take time for me to explain to you what
As for my innocence or guilt, I requested the King’s Justice. That will
you to decide.”
more than provide mystery readers with a detailed investigative probe.
setting his character in medieval times and thoroughly immersing him in
politics and processes of this era, he brings history to life,
with a first-person observational style that requires no prior
history in order to prove accessible.
prerequisite to enjoying this story is an interest in problem-solving
rollicking good read that romps through cultural norms and politics,
them on end as FitzDuncan struggles to arrive at the truth even as his
get in the way of reality.
mystery collections alike should select the well-detailed FitzDuncan
a crossover title appealing to a broader audience than either genre
Return to Index
Level Best Books
978-1953789587 $16.95 Book/$5.95 Kindle
Havana Brown is a prequel to Rose's
Thorn, but no familiarity with the prior story is required in
order to jump
into the mystery and serial killer dilemma facing Detective Joe
piling up, and the only clues to the perp's identity are cat hairs.
inability to stop these murders keeps him up at night and stresses him
point where his investigative abilities become questionable as the
boundaries between work and obsession? As Joe questions evidence and
down a killer, becoming involved with alluring Destiny at the same
efforts become akin to the plot of a bad television show as he faces
possibilities of a faked death and a too-alive threat that may stem
from a cold
builds a story that opens with a graphic description of the murderer's
operandi. As a cat-and-mouse game evolves, readers receive perceptions
both the killer and the detective's perspectives, which keep the plot
on different levels.
convoluted possibility that at first feels impossible and then begins
more sense, Joe Erickson and his partner, Sam Renaldo, face the kind of
every detective dreads: one with too many dead ends and impossibilities.
relationship with Destiny and its separate evolving emotional ties and
conundrums into this fast-paced story, presenting scenarios which
and Destiny's choices and future together: "She
couldn’t understand how her love for Joe could prove detrimental to his
Wouldn’t someone’s love and support help a person recover rather than
Joe is a
detective who is pushing too hard on this case, and it all comes home
in unexpected twists and turns. These reveal the underlying
obstacles Joe faces in his own psyche, which thwart his ability to
the case and his own emotional evolution.
presentation of adversity and the perils of personal strength when
over-thinking and overwork makes for a particularly compelling story as
Johanson considers how even the most adept personality can experience
bring the police procedural portion to life in an unexpected way. While
interested in a whodunit focus may find the psychological inspections a
distraction, they do add to the overall strength of a story that goes
problem-solving to investigate matters of the heart.
readers who like more than a casual dose of psychological inspection
will find Havana Brown a powerful
conflicts on many different levels, both within the psyche and between
Return to Index
Carolyn V. Hamilton
Swift House Press
978-0990966449 $17.95 Paper/.99 Kindle
Implosion combines mystery with humor in
an unusual story
especially recommended for genre mystery readers who want more than a
It tells of
Desert Palace, an aging Las Vegas once-lofty casino slated for
the mystery of stolen money that might still be hidden there.
has an eye for intrigue and a nose for trouble. What she doesn't have
scoop that will make her feel like a million dollars.
only one who's after the dough—and the truth.
fosters charm from the start through a host of fun characters, from
Palace Hotel & Casino owner Foxy Craig to Juniper Johnson, an
secretary charged with not only smoothing her boss' world, but
artificial jellyfish aquarium.
years since six million dollars vanished during a robbery. Foxy has
obsessed with the building's layout and possibilities for recovering
but with its impending sale and implosion, these possibilities are
come to an end.
waitress Linda Mayo and her fifty-two-year-old boyfriend KingBob
involvement in highly-placed drug clientele to changing relationships
feelings ("Lately she’d had the
thought that he reminded her of a slinkie—not real useful, but it would
to watch him tumble down the stairs."), Hamilton's story
kinds of colorful characters from disparate walks of life who each have
eye on an elusive prize...and, now, a limited timeline for getting it.
Russians and a
"caviar picture" to Nedra's unexpected success with a
caviar-plane-bust story, Hamilton creates intrigue, subterfuge, and
she surveys betrayal, lust, mafia influences, and greed against the
a hotel's demise.
blends of whimsical description, intriguing dilemmas, and the addition
of a flesh-eating
curse added to the action for good measure will find Implosion
replete with satisfying twists and turns. This will
delight mystery fans with laugh-out-loud encounters that inject
sometimes-black humor into the mix for a fresh taste of originality and
Return to Index
$27.99 Hardcover/$17.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Trap returns investigator Clay
Wolfe and his
partner Baylee Baker to mystery fans who enjoyed his prior appearance.
time, he's investigating a missing daughter, violent attacks, and
leading up to Leap Day which portend disaster.
The prologue begins a month prior, as a woman bares every secret of her shameful past to twelve Disciples, who sit in judgment of her as part of a ritual to allow her to belong to their cult. Thirty-six hours of confession lead to what she thinks is the promise of enlightenment, but instead is the portent of horrors to come.
Chapter 1 introduces Clay Wolfe's first sign
of events that swirl around mother Martha Abbott, who has vanished
her daughter, and the Port Essex world that Clay must probe in order to
As facts emerge about Martha's emotional
abuse by her husband Doug, her decision to leave the material world
bring daughter Jenna along for the ride, and the evolving lure and
comes from Marduk and his high priestesses, the mystery grows around
community's people and their own hidden lives.
Matt Cost creates a fine story that
revolves around the
cult's tightening trip and the conundrums its members and outsiders
dealing with its lure, and Clay's challenges in uncovering its members,
motivations, and threat.
A variety of characters come and go
(some are murdered) in
the course of Martha's pursuit and Clay's attempts to stop the
the real strength of this story lies in unexpected expressions of
not just of the killers, but Clay's moral and ethical purposes: “We got a nice town, Crystal. I don’t like
what’s been happening. Sometimes you just got to do what’s right.” “I’m
yanking your chain to get you to say some fucking lame shit like that,”
said, her voice warm with affection. “I know we got to do this. But,
that is some pure Mr. Rogers bullshit that just tumbled out of your
left the doorway and went to her desk out of sight. Clay’s face
helped by Baylee’s poorly suppressed chuckles. “What are you laughing
asked. “I can picture you in a red button-down sweater and tie,” she
of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or
help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world.
of the things that connects us as neighbors—in our own way, each one of
us is a
giver and a receiver.”
One doesn't expect inspiration from
Mr. Rogers, nor the
undercurrent of humor that runs through character interactions to
relief into serious challenges: “I love
Mr. Rogers. If I were you, I’d take it as a compliment.” “I’m more the
Murphy version, don’t you think?” “Yeah, you’re real ghetto, as long as
hood has a twenty-four-hour dry cleaner,” Baylee said."
As the cult drives to gain the
ultimate reward (Heaven)
heighten the sense of urgency and danger, Cost excels in juxtaposing
action with psychological and spiritual manipulation. Scenarios engross
with accounts of cult methodology, mind games, and the wellsprings of
that Clay must tap in order to overcome a charismatic leader and
Trap's contrast between
motivations, cult processes, and the method by which an ordinary but
psychologically damaged housewife turns killer makes for an absorbing
It's not only filled with twists and turns that will delight murder
fans, but adds psychological insights that will attract readers who
depth in their stories.
It's a top recommendation for prior fans,
but stands nicely alone for newcomers. Mind Trap
deserves a spot in any
collection strong in murder mystery writing.
Return to Index
The Narcissism of Small
Differences: A Noir Detective
print: $16.99; eBook: $4.99
Small Differences is a fast-paced story that opens with a
when a different ten-year-old child, Belfast-born Conor, is delivered
Grandmother Raven than the anticipated Ojibwe child Henri. The
is mute, but Grandmother compels Conor to reveal his story to her
series of blinks. What emerges is a striking account of a cojoined twin
separated from his brother, who died during the procedure. His fate was
when a bomb planted at a restaurant mixed his identity with that of
Bouchard, who remained in a foster home in St. Paul while Conor wound
to the Grand Portage Indian Reservation and Grandmother Raven.
Fate is a strange thing.
Cody's death has resulted in
alienation and suffering. The mix-up between the boys brings with it
The story quickly moves to
an investigative probe of a
psychopathic serial killer.
Delaney is a smart detective
with a hidden talent for
hypnosis and detecting lies. These twin abilities heighten his
and will prove a required asset to track a killer whose signature
involves placing an apple in his victims' throats.
Henri Bouchard's involvement
in the evolving case, a
police culture that reduces criminal activity but comes with a heavy
in an Agreement between police forces and criminal organizations, and
mystery of who killed Katheen Martin coalesce in a read that embraces
cultures and the forces driving them.
Dennis Dorgan is skilled at
evolving a whodunit detective
piece that works on many different levels. From tribal gifts and
see differing forms of darkness and light to Owl Eyes Conor's
"“These divisions are the children
born of narcissism and fear. They are the kind of small differences
led to patriotism, bigotry, cruelty and war,” The Narcissism of Small
fate, psychic forces and abilities, choice, and leftover impacts of
experience makes for a gripping story.
Readers looking for intrigue
and detective stories that
operate on many different levels will find The
Narcissism of Small Differences more demanding (and thus
than your typical crime piece. Its embrace of others cultures,
and life challenges create a multifaceted read that is satisfyingly
Return to Index
Indies United Publishing House, LLC
978-1644563342 $12.99 paper/$3.99 ebook
In Ninety-Five, Zak Skinner is a college
student bent on exposing a dangerous scheme—one that initially seems to
a campus crime, but quickly evolves to a savvy crime ring that uses the
As the story
with Zak's first-person observation of this scam in action, readers
fast-paced opening that talks of new beginnings and a frat environment
leads to a dangerous confrontation, even though Zak reflects that he is
"New to campus, barely social, not
wealthy. What attributes would be of value to them?"
Not only is
the fresh start Zak and his mother had in mind by moving him from NYU
University of Chicago, but it holds an immediate, different threat that
with it the coordinates of an even greater danger.
appreciate the time taken to describe both the college environment and
encounter with a bigger picture of danger.
As the story
to where he is ambushed and separated from his support systems, Zak is
continually challenged to track down the truth—even if it means he will
pursued by powerful adversaries, and even if this means he has made the
from concerned citizen and savvy college student to radical activist.
political, and investigative transformation is a powerful part of this
thriller. It enhances the suspense element as Zak walks a thin and
line that leads straight into a potential murder investigation.
As Zak and
trusted friend Pat Riley field an increasing number of threats and
possibilities, they move from their college milieu into an adult world
with different kinds of challenges.
keeping the action fast-paced, but always firmly rooted in Zak's
abilities, perceptions, and social and political savvy. Her depiction
college environment and the move into adulthood are especially astute
realistic, embracing all the technological toys of modern times and the
attitudes of those who wield them with power and purpose.
psychological encounters that motivate and drive the characters are
done: "His outlandish creation myth,
however, of being the vast force behind the whole operation, lacked
considering how desperate he looked asking me for the receipts. He was
with me, vulnerable almost, friendless in his tower of control, trying
appeal to my sense of compassion. Sorry, fresh out."
well-written romp through college and adult underworlds alike. Ninety-Five's ability to follow Zak
through a series of puzzles that challenge his survival skills and his
determination, as well as his problem-solving abilities and alliances,
for a story hard to put down. Ninety-Five
is a standout in the genre of new adult thriller reads.
Return to Index
Book Press Publishing
978-1-947305-33-5 $27.95 Hardcover/$8.99 ebook
A movie production comes to
the small rural Iowa town of
Orney, bringing with it a large cast of Hollywood actors, producers,
cameras. The town's excitement builds, in Performing
Murder; but the shoot turns lethal when a dead body is
in the country club swimming pool, further challenging the community
Tony Harrington (a writer
for the Orney Town Crier, one
of the smallest daily newspapers in the Midwest) was one of the
members most excited about the production. Ironically, a loved one
murder suspect, and Tony is drawn to investigate. After all, it was he
at least partially responsible for Hollywood's choice of Orney as a
What he uncovers is a
hornet's nest of secrets and issues
that go far beyond perp and victim to strike at the heart of a town
thought staid and straightforward, introducing questions and threats
the foundations of his world.
Joseph LeValley does an
outstanding job of involving
readers in this blossoming mystery, from the opening racy scenes in
lovemaking couple stumble upon the body in the pool to Tony's love for
small town and his well-meaning efforts to see it (and his career as a
newspaper reporter) prosper.
Tony has stars in his eyes
about all the possibilities,
at first, but events quickly turn into something more sinister.
both the intrigue and Tony's maturity process to life in a series of
that challenge Tony and readers to uncover the underlying influences
just murder, but choosing evil over good.
Tony's coming of age and
relationships are nicely
described. They grow and change during the course of his interactions,
the whodunit component a perfect combination of intrigue and
depth. This will especially delight suspense story readers seeking more
simple investigative procedural alone.
Even when Tony's guesses
prove correct, the case is not
resolved. Instead, it takes another twist of danger that places Tony in
position of being responsible for another's life or death.
undercurrents and forces that affect this small town from within and
Tony's growth process of becoming more savvy and effective, LeValley
compelling read, in Performing Murder,
that captivates on many different levels.
Return to Index
mysteries will appreciate the Elizabethan backdrop of The
Reversible Mask, as well as its vivid portrait of 1500s life.
Sir Edward Latham makes the difficult decision to turn his
back on family
heritage, title, and political position in favor of following the
religion, traveling to continental Europe.
wars rise to threaten his Protestant family in England, Latham must
between religion, country, and family in a difficult decision that
leads him to
accept the role of being a spy for Queen Elizabeth.
an exceptional job of depicting Latham's uncertain balance between
belief. Her ability to inject suspense and thriller components into a
historical setting and then add elements of social and philosophical
for a broader mix of dilemmas and subjects creates a full-faceted story
nicely captures the times.
especially adept at portraying conflicting matters of the heart that
Latham second-guessing his decisions and their consequences: "Latham’s feelings about this royal
progress were complex. He resented the discomfort and expense, the
of small miseries for all but the sovereign. But he didn’t reject court
ceremonies. At a distance, he could almost
smirk at them, but almost was
the keyword. Up close, when he was
the bowing one, he thrilled at being a courtier and knight. At heart,
he was a
traditionalist, and protocols affirmed feudal hierarchy’s vital role in
off anarchy. He had sound reasons for his ambivalence and was acutely
and tricky position in the world that affords him many opportunities as
unprecedented conundrums. This is as starkly portrayed as the actions
place him in jeopardy in a world of spymasters also working behind the
setting are compellingly written: "Elizabeth
turned in front of a gilded heraldic falcon on top of a striped pole.
her spymaster without sympathy “Dour thoughts, Master Moor. Is hatred
Dutch/Spanish truce braiding your gut? You’ll have to stop shrewing me
English troops, the perils of which you won’t see.”
to pirates, Spanish warships, and political manipulations, Elizabeth's
shaken by spies, intelligence, and complex missions on both sides.
readers might expect that some basic familiarity with the times is a
prerequisite for enjoying this historical thriller, Goldberg provides
background needed, winding it seamlessly into a series of encounters
her protagonist's resolve, religious convictions, and political savvy.
Sit back and
the cat-and-mouse games which play out in 1500s Europe. It's a story
prove as engrossing to newcomers to the times as those already well
its culture and setting.
Return to Index
Misterio Press, LLC
978-1947287228 $13.99 Paperback
Star is Book 5 in the Nikki
Latrelle thriller series, and opens not with a murder, but with the
thrill of a filming session: "The
movie camera’s dark eye unnerved me. Like a hungry bird of prey, it
me as I raced the horse down Santa Anita’s backstretch." This
introduction to a mystery thriller is the first indication that Sasscer
story belies the usual formula production in favor of an original and
approach to capturing and maintaining attention and building tension.
Horses, stunt acts, and
filming are only part of the
story that revolves around Nikki's latest task: to watch over and
horses being used to film a movie at Santa Anita Racetrack.
assignment is the fact that it comes from an ex-lover, while a sexy
actor has focused his attention on her, and an assassin on the set has
the cameraman standing right next to her.
This kicks Nikki's sleuthing
abilities into high gear as
her initial charge to protect the horses extends into an effort to
everyone on the set from a deadly killer who has more in mind than a
readers who enjoy horses, Hollywood, and
dangerous confrontations alike will find Nikki a savvy sleuth who faces
blade of a knife, the whisper of a sniper's shot, and the tension of
movie-making efforts with equal courage despite any reservations about
roles: "A radio hooked to Pinky’s
belt clicked on. When a male voice said, “Ten minutes,” I felt like a
tiny wild horses was galloping in my stomach."
of the filming process, its politics and people, and Nikki's changing
role as a
protector and sleuth to a widening number of people creates a fast pace
also embraces roots in atmospheric description, from the California
new love actor Jamie's infatuation with her.
The focus on
romance, developing dangers and threats, and bigger pictures makes for
that is more than a wrap. It's an engaging probe of the Hollywood film
and a feisty female sleuth's determination to save what she
independent spirit—that will keep readers coming back for more as the
As with the
Francis mysteries, horses are an intrinsic part of the plot. Unlike
Hill cultivates an emotional and psychological depth that keeps readers
completely engaged through Nikki's first-person perspective and
her life and its latest challenges.
want more than a light dose of thriller elements added for exquisite
are in for a real treat in a story that should be added to any mystery
Return to Index
Shopping Can Be Deadly
Deadly is the third book in the 'Discount Detective Mystery'
revolves around widow and single mom Cameron Chandler, who works for
Investigations as a detective. This is no ordinary PI agency. It bills
as a 'discount' operation, is located in a mall between a candle shop
notions store, and sports the catchy motto "Vigilance You Can
Her job becomes harder when
a mall shooting leads to her
rescue by Gary, who confesses he was the target of the shooters,
engaged in a
secret operation gone awry.
Cameron agrees to take on
his case and finds herself in
over her head as she navigates a treacherous series of encounters that
her family in jeopardy, as well.
As a black dog, Operation
Cell Phone, and other
circumstances introduce complexity into a job that was supposed to be
straightforward, Cameron questions her career choice and its ultimate
her life: "Not that I blamed my
mother for being concerned about me being a single mom and having a job
brought a fair amount of uncertainty and disruption as well as
into our lives. Although I was happier than I’d been in a long time and
my job, I frequently questioned whether it was right to put my family
to satisfy the Nancy Drew fantasies of my childhood. I was all too
there are consequences for every choice made, for good and for bad
like these pair nicely with
the action and tension created by her latest challenging case, making
world three-dimensional, believable, and compelling. Mystery readers
believable female PIs whose lives are rooted in real-world conundrums
the investigative process itself will be delighted by Shopping
Can Be Deadly's multifaceted approach.
Whether fielding family
concerns or interpersonal connections
outside the home, Cameron is adept at considering the options, her
and her responsibilities: "...it
makes me really angry. Bondo is so . . . so . . .” “Arrogant? Smarmy?
Deceitful? Rude? Overbearing? Am I coming close?” PW asked. “All of the
“If you let every man you meet who fits these labels get to you, you
a lot of time angry.” She sounded half-serious, like she had been
“You’ve made your point. I will let it go.” Hearing the truth doesn’t
help when you’re angry, but intellectually I knew it was time to move
This mystery is particularly
intriguing not just because
of its nonstop series of confrontations and threats, but because its
character takes the time to consider and wonder about her choices,
their ultimate effects on those around her.
Readers who like stories
that evolve to embrace
international affairs, yet remain thoroughly grounded in strong
whose lives remain at the forefront of their decision-making processes,
relish the adventure and intrigue of a P.I. who faces personal and
conundrums as well as investigative challenges.
Return to Index
is a medical novel set in 1983 in New York City, where Dr. Candace
has just opened her fertility clinic. It feels like she's been holding
breath towards this moment for years. She's overcome a host of
years of setbacks to arrive at this moment, but remains shaken by the
possibility that her goal of fostering fertility will inevitably lead
disappointments in some clients.
Rewind to the past that led
to this moment of uncertain
(to her mind) success, where Candace's story unfolds.
She's just another
nineteen-year-old involved with a
flighty football star who leaves her pregnant. When an abortion results
infertility, Candace becomes motivated to put her interest in science
use, overcoming many pressures, both personal and social, to succeed in
field dominated by men.
From confrontations with
misogynists and fellow students
to a cruel professor determined to break her resolve, Candace faces
challenges beyond intellectual ability alone, that test her path
the medical field.
Young women who choose Against the Glass for its exploration of
a woman's path to success
may be surprised at the extent of the blatant prejudice and misogyny
faces during her journey. While these are realistically portrayed (and,
created barriers to success to some of the first women of their
they are rarely talked about in much detail today, aside from casual
Linda Habib's stark
presentation of situations that seem
incredible on the surface is actually a realistic representation of how
to be an ambitious young woman hitting a glass ceiling not just in the
world, but in school and science communities.
Habib's ability to bring all
this to life and yet follow
the wellsprings of Candace's determination to succeed against all
odds—including doubts in her own heart—drive a story line that is
hard-hitting. Perhaps this will feel artificially powerful to some
so little has been written about the many physical and social barriers
times that, in this case, the novel's tendency to bludgeon readers with
shocking events and emotional impact is not just acceptable, but
is highly recommended because, in order to understand the present, it's
that the decisions and impact of decades past are fully understood. New
readers fresh to these experiences and social atmospheres will find Against the Glass hard-hitting,
enlightening, and revealing.
Return to Index
As It Should Be
Drummond Martin Publishing
Canadian couple Andrew and Stephanie think
they've found their dream home in Norway, but their dreams turn into
nightmares, forcing them to return to Canada where further trouble
As Shawna James unfolds the story of a
couple that manages to maintain their positive view of the world
odds, readers gain an enlightening story of how attitude plays into
change their outcomes and reinforce relationships.
The ongoing love between Andrew and
Stephanie is not shaken but is strengthened by these adversities. Their
connections are strong and, though tested, prove equally resilient as
crafts a story of redirected money and romance that holds many
Love is a big part of this story, but so is
the ability to be resilient and proactive in the face of the
and Stephanie tackle problems head on and protect their family and each
yet still hold an engaging trust that things will work out. As they
all these changes, their purposes and life only gets stronger. This
readers with a positive perspective that comes full circle; from love,
The blend of romance, intrigue, and
conundrums that test this love form the foundation of a vivid story set
the backdrop of Canadian culture.
It Should Be will please literary
female readers who
look for Canadian and Scandinavian settings, stories that revolve
intrigue, romance, family, and social and legal challenges that lead to
friendships, relationships, and strife.
It's recommended for romance readers and
literary collections alike—but especially for women who look for good,
reading that juxtaposes action with thought-provoking discussions of
choice, and consequence.
Return to Index
$13.99 Paper/$19.99 Hardcover/$3.99 Kindle/$15.99 Large Print Edition
taking early retirement against her will, but she's prepared to make
with good grace. She's become "increasingly invisible" in her job
anyway, so the move, after twenty-seven years with Bancroft, Chandler
is not entirely unexpected.
competent but socially incompetent, Bennett has persevered up to the
her loyalty to the Company is rewarded by being let go, escorted out
by a security guard.
Tired of the
of familiarity, Bennett decides to cultivate a quieter life. But fate
intervenes to introduce her to handsome widower Joe Muir and his two
Ugandan children; and with this event, many new possibilities divert
her plan of self-isolation and quiet living.
the poignant story of his losses, his childrens' trials and hidden
how Joe came to end up in Wilmington, she is "shaken by the recognition
her own weaknesses" and comes to feel that her goals in life may be
and more important than her quest to isolate and quietly vanish.
of her failures from Joe, yet continues to explore new possibilities
lead to a new possible career. Her evolution will delight women who
novels replete with growth and insights into how meaningful connections
formed in later life.
especially astute in following Bennett's upward learning curve, showing
Bennett moves from a staid life to one in which risks are taken and
are not only perceived, but grasped with both hands.
left-behind older girl Grace sends her to Uganda on a mission that is
redemption, resolution, and love.
ability to move far past her carefully construed comfort zone to reach
world results in rewards that introvert-type readers will especially
for their challenges and difficulty.
literature will relish this eye-opening saga of personal and
Return to Index
Moonshine Cove Publishing
9781952439117 $14 paperback, $6.99 Kindle
that retired do-gooder Ben Sanna and New York hedge fun manager
Beckett would move outside their comfort zones to form a relationship,
but in Cenotaphs, they meet in
marry their disparate interests and concerns in an unexpected manner.
with a philosophical contemplation of his life: "The
parts recur––the son, the lover, the husband, the father, the
friend, the citizen. They come in whispers and fragments, in the
memory. They come in your smile, in the laughter of our children, in
nightmares, in bursts of violence against once precious objects. How do
gauge the parts of a life? Did I perform any of them well? How do you
them into an unfettered whole?"
"a more structured time" and his attempts to reconcile past with
present and his evolving memory and feeling of loss contrasts with Sam
Beckett's detour off the highway, which brings her into Ben's world.
own unique method of establishing her power and abilities in any
strangers: "Putting men on the
defensive, at least at the start, comforted me. I wanted them to
believe I had
all the power, to cower to my skills and intelligence, to glimpse who
become, glimpse the impenetrable just underneath. And most of the time
wise, kind old man like Ben. Ben doesn't think he is either, but he has
cultivated the finer art of listening well.
As the two
on different levels, their viewpoints change. So does the reader's
of their relationship and the process of entwining lives later in life.
Marcello does a
fine job of exploring these transition points. Readers can expect a
of philosophical reflection on aging and growth as Ben surveys his
considers the past events that brought him to this point.
at presenting perspectives that embrace both the aging process and the
evolution of a special brand of wisdom that allow Ben unexpected
and understanding later in life: "Old
men love each other more. Collectively, we’ve witnessed the ups and
life and, as a result, we’re not so competitive about the things of our
We don’t care about promotions, getting the beautiful woman, money, or
in general. Sometimes I see young men fighting, lusting, or working at
expense of all else, and I wish I could tell them about us old guys,
those things don’t matter much. Though if I could magically tell my
self what I now believed, my younger self wouldn’t listen."
Sam and Ben
track to be completely honest with one another—the good, the bad, and
Their relationship, revelations, and the impact of their choices both
past and with each other create a powerful story of love, loss, and how
friendships and connections evolve. This will attract audiences
the aging process and the value of love in later life.
poignant, and psychologically gripping, Cenotaphs
offers a satisfying emotional inspection that is revealing and
rare glimpse into platonic love, friendship, and later-life changes.
Return to Index
Lawrence P. O’Brien
readers who look for vivid historical tales of Ireland will find Clochán a powerful story set during the
Irish Rebellion of 1798, where child Kevin Neal loses everyone he loves
war that continues to roar through his world, changing everything.
orphaned survivor, Kevin is determined to face the beasts that appeared
in a battle scene, in his dreams, and among the shadows of the dead
falling. Kevin’s attempt to keep Anastasia (Anty) Kelly safe is made
as he tries to deal with the superstition, lawlessness, corruption, and
sectarian violence in a restless, threatened countryside.
than most historical novels about this era, Lawrence P. O’Brien
ability to bring the early 1800s to life through Kevin's eyes as he
from child to man. The focus on postwar experiences, ongoing struggles,
elusive promises keeps him alive and engaged as friendships form,
are lost, providing life to the period and enhancing a compelling saga.
journey takes him full circle in unexpected ways as he embraces a
mystery and a
mission, manages to survive both, and acquires a newfound purpose.
seeing through his eyes absorb the milieu of the times, politics, and
impact of war and tragedy in the Irish south-east.
Clochán's ability to capture a singular
expand its circle of encounters and to take in the changed worlds,
and objectives of a range of intersecting characters reflects a vivid
Return to Index
Drummond Martin Publishing
$17.95 Paper/$22.95 Hardcover/$20.00 Audio/$3.99 ebook
Despite the Devil is the first book of
the They Loved collection
and is a fine romance about meeting the perfect man, only to discover
comes with baggage.
new sports teacher, attracts fellow teacher Stephanie; first physically
then with a demeanor she finds appealing: "Stephanie
gazed at Andrew’s clean-shaven, long and slender face. His dark green
captivating. His brown hair was neatly combed to the side. His eyebrows
thick and kind of joined in the middle, and his nose looked even
the angle at which Stephanie was now looking at him. Girl, he’s
Stephanie thought, And that accent!’ There they stood, both having
themselves by saying foolish things and not wanting to say anymore."
As the story
relationship) unfold, Stephanie must consider whether Andrew's appeal
the trouble he introduces to her world.
fine job of juxtaposing passion and practical everyday living with the
circumstances of a blended family that makes romance not a
linear production, but something more complex.
commitment, Stephanie finds that threats from the past and financial
difficulties introduce stress into her vision of 'happily ever after'.
enough to always belay that feeling, but the conflicts that evolve
just Stephanie but her new family as they struggle to get back on their
details of Despite the Devil makes
for a story that is a notch above more staid or predictable romances.
Andrew and Stephanie struggle with past, present, and future, but the
positivity that each harbors for the outcome of their relationship and
family unit is always a part of the bigger picture.
challenges in a satisfyingly meaningful way that will keep readers
engaged in the
story and interested in the outcome of Stephanie's pursuit of love and
special brand of romance that builds on relationships, revelations, and
idyllic life that embraces movement and change on more than one level.
seeking the passion of love married to the practicality of evolution
welcome Despite the Devil 's
blend of romance, intrigue, and family life.
Return to Index
Cresting Wave Publishing
A Five Birches imprint
978-1-7354135-7-0 Paperback: $9.99/Kindle: $1.99
The Imperial Orchid is a historical
romance recommended for readers
who like their stories rooted in horticulture, history, and adventure.
set in England at the end of the Victorian era, where an expedition is
to locate rare orchids from faraway Ceylon.
a female illustrator and expert chosen for this largely male endeavor,
by Lord Holloway himself, president of the Royal Horticultural Society
London, to make the journey.
Egypt adds Lord Holloway's spoiled, obnoxious son to the roster,
problems begin to surface. And when they arrive at their destination
find a competing group with an equal interest in the rare orchid is set
thwarting their mission, all hell (and love) break loose.
captures the atmosphere, times, botanical interests, and interpersonal
relationships to fuel a vivid story of adventure that operates on more
The Imperial Orchid is everything a
historical romance reader will
like, blending action and adventure into the romance and adding depth
factual backgrounds and history to keep the story alive and compelling.
detail and description adds three-dimensional value to a plot that is
about describing romance as it is about contrasting a professional
goals with matters of the heart, as in this passage, where Frances
her long journey around the world: "She
remembered being underneath the bed, looking at him in the darkness,
sense of closeness and intimacy that unnerved her. His words seemed to
her ears: I was alone with a lovely
woman for ten minutes or more, and I didn’t kiss her once. She
uncomfortable recalling the conversation, remembering his hot eyes on
sat up suddenly, pulling the pins from her hair and letting the locks
her back. She had no time to dwell on frivolous thoughts when she had
more important things to think about and plan."
an at-first unwanted potential romance are lively and include an
of humor in many of the passages: “When
he dragged you into the broom closet,”
he said, emphasizing the words, “how did he pull you into his arms?
not wanting to scare you, or more aggressive like this?” He pulled her
against him. She looked up into his handsome face, trying to keep her
normal. “I wonder if the London Zoo is missing any of their gorilla
population?” she said, pushing her hands against his chest."
the heart of passion or the heat of intrigue, suspense, and discovery, The Imperial Orchid is a vivid, moving
story that romance and history readers will find energetic, with strong
characters and an underlying subplot adding authenticity and spice to
Return to Index
In the Palace of the Great King
Verbum Bonum Books
the Palace of
the Great King is subtitled
"a Catholic novel." What does this mean? It means that Julie Ash has
embedded within her story a sense of religion and culture that sets it
category of astute religious reading as it explores prayers,
priests, and the meanings and contradictions of Catholic influence on
Ash provides thoughtful inspections of these
lives as she introduces devout characters who reflect the rituals and
of the modern Catholic Church while considering its impact and
and bishops never talk about Hell anymore, she reflected. It didn’t
seem to fit
with the modern idea of a loving, forgiving God. But many of the saints
powerful, life-changing visions of Hell and Purgatory. Mother
Bonaventure hadn’t heard of any modern
saints reporting visions of Jesus saying, “No, my child, you don’t
When I said to fear the one who could send body and soul to Hell, I was
speaking metaphorically.” Until then, she intended to go right on
God’s mercy on the dying and the salvation—the saving—of souls. No need
Savior if there is nothing to be saved from, she thought."
From dwindling numbers of young people
choosing to enter the priesthood to radical assaults upon the Church in
1960s and 70s, Mother Bonaventure faces vocation problems and
changes after forty years of devotion and a sense of place and purpose,
interacts with contemporary families who hold different ideas of
relevance in their lives.
These issues are brought to the forefront by Char
and Tia, the main characters, who come to the monastery from very
backgrounds and experience, defying cultural norms and familial
Each girl struggles with issues of identity and belonging—Tia is
growing up in a single-parent home with a special needs brother, while
experiences social awkwardness and isolation despite having privileged
Catholic readers, in particular, will
consider Julie Ash's novel to be thought-provoking as it presents the
Church's milieu with a contemporary twist that embraces adult and
perceptions alike. One example is how Char's friend Celia maintains
movie E.T. is actually an allegory for the story of Jesus.
As readers absorb the characters and lives
presented in In the Palace of the Great King, they receive lessons in how Christian and
Catholic beliefs are embedded in and reflect all kinds of lives, at all
Daily life challenges experienced by the
girls and their families reflect the presence and evolution of
belief in everyday circumstances and experiences.
From descriptions of parishes and threats to
their existence to metaphysical spiritual beings and dimensions of
that emerge, Julie Ash crafts an iconic tale of demons, angels,
the reality of what it means to give one's life to God. This will
Christian readers in general and Catholic audiences in particular.
The blend of contemporary perspectives and
dilemmas and struggles between good and evil forces within church,
spiritual realms is nicely done, contrasting monastery life with
experiences and perceptions in a satisfyingly religious inspection.
Return to Index
Just My Luck
Lelia Coles & Rosilyn Seay
978-0-9985576-5-6 $12.99 Paper/$6.99 ebook
portrays Tina Brooks and her mother Antoinette, who have each been
circumstances, life events and just all-over bad luck.
As a young girl, Antionette
(Twanie) became a victim of
abuse, which led to single motherhood and the end of many dreams. Is
Tina destined to follow in her footsteps when Antoinette vanishes and
her thirteen-year-old daughter to fend for herself?
Thankfully, strangers come
to the young girl’s rescue.
But later, as Tina navigates her changed world, she is faced with a
murder and secrets that affect her future, she finds that more than
involved in affecting the course of her life and her choices.
Sisters and authors Lelia
Coles and Rosilyn Seay create a
realistic, powerful account of women under siege in many ways; from
and their own experiences and choices, and in the environments they
As murder and intrigue
threaten Tina's motel job and her
personal well-being, readers are drawn into a story that operates as
murder mystery and a social commentary piece: "Just
like that, everything changed. We all agreed that the person
who committed the awful crime was a threat to all of us, mostly me. The
from the bathroom had seen my face and he knew exactly where to start
for me, even if I couldn’t remember what he looked like."
Tina's versatility, survival
instinct, and ability to
absorb many changes in her situation create a powerful protagonist who
more than just survive adversity. She tackles it head-on with full
that her heritage and its influences are affecting her future wellbeing
ability to move beyond her mother's world.
Readers will find this story
compelling not just in how
Tina and her group of friends tackles problems, but how she grows
relationships, solves problems, and comprehends new situations that
challenges—and opportunities—connected to the past.
Lelia Coles and Rosilyn Seay
create a compelling story of
a spunky, savvy young woman's coming of age. Her problems, solutions,
discoveries come with a charge to "go find herself." How Tina does so
goes beyond expectations in a gripping story that fully embraces love,
and a life that evolves to reach past adversity to new possibilities.
The portrait of this process
will especially appeal to
readers of women's contemporary fiction, urban fiction, and African
literature. But any reader will find, in Tina and her mother, role
perseverance and flexibility.
Return to Index
Ethan T. Burroughs
Morgan James Publishing
Messianic Reveal is a Clayton Haley
adventure that should be high on the reading lists of anyone who would
the history, culture, and politics of the clashes between Shia and
in the Arab world.
encounters are key to understanding much of what drives and challenges
historical and modern Middle East, this novel's backdrop and easy way
absorbing the personal impact of these conflicts is especially
mention before the plot is revealed is that author Ethan T. Burroughs
personal familiarity with the Middle East, having developed
friends, and personally lived and worked in the region. He bases his
events which are either true or otherwise widely believed as being true
fulfilling his consular duties when he meets a man he thinks could be
to the 1979 Grand Mosque siege in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
he uncovers a host of political connections and a plot that moves from
Middle East through Europe to affect Western and Middle East interests
investigates, the more he learns of a convoluted history that underlies
just modern-day conflicts, but the special challenges of his own
duties: "To understand current relations, you
must know history, and if you don't mind me saying, you Americans
good history students. I think you spend more time trying to make
ignorance as well
as his increasing cultural and political savvy place him in the heart
as Clayton comes to discover that evolving crimes hold dangerous
implications beyond their singular enactment.
interrogations, threats, and a new assignment as a political officer
his growth, experience, and evolution on personal and political levels,
gain a vivid insight into the complex mire of Middle East politics that
spiced by conspiracy in a story which becomes hard to put down.
of Middle East history and relationships, it's a real achievement to be
describe all these undercurrents of controversy against a backdrop of
information, yet tailor it in such a way that newcomers to these
find them absorbing. This is an intrinsic part of why the thriller
plays out so strongly and smoothly.
Messianic Reveal is a powerfully-written,
story that reviews the challenges of American diplomacy and
realities of life in the Middle East, and the special assignments and
conundrums of one man who finds himself caught in the middle of it all,
as a pivot point in a series of extraordinary encounters.
Return to Index
978-1948598521 $17.95 Paper/$9.99 ebook
an academic satire that primarily targets campus “cancel culture” and
excesses, as its title, a nod to the notorious 2017 controversy at
State College, suggests. But also it is a novel about irreverence,
the perils of academia as a disillusioned middle-aged physician is
offer a lecture about his peculiar art and medical knowledge
paintings of corpses and dissections.
The first indication that J.
has entered a nefarious
world rather than a simple college campus job is when his driver to the
invites him to choose directions at a fork in the road, then lets him
"all ways lead to the
The funk J.
experienced in his life prior to this point is typical of middle age: "The truth
of course, that there was nothing wrong with being a
physician, and a
reasonably successful one—even if he was losing faith in the
practice of medicine, was painfully aware that every patient ended up
no matter how he treated them, and even more painfully aware that he
already crossed the hump of his own life and was very much on the
something was surely off lately, more than just lately. His gentle
developed rougher edges; his great capacity for compassion was
once legendary sense of humor was becoming, how did Debra put it, more
fruits of his
odd passion and interest, and the course of his life as he becomes a
point in a swirl of cancel controversy that assumes a dangerous
create a story that is far more than the initially anticipated tale of
Andrew Pessin injects into
his character's experiences a
newfound purpose as J. is shaken from his comfort zone to becomes mired
campus's philosophical, political, and social controversies.
J.'s obsession with the
medieval image of “Wound Man,” a
medical textbook figure illustrated with every type of bodily wound,
with the mystery and threat surrounding the campus, his new life, and
Pessin excels in vivid
descriptions of this life, which
at times may be described as long 'run-on' sentences, but which impart
passion and color of J.'s evolving world: "If
Wound Man now resembled J. so too did these agents of hatred, as they
wearing the masks that Big Chief Corrie had had made from the
large masks with J.’s face on them with sinister slits cut for their
within the sinister shadows of his
eyes in the photo, the masks handed to them as they were expelled into
environment, streamed into every hexant and beyond, hollering and
signaling their V for virtue signs, their V for Wagner’s “Valkyries”
pumping all over from the campus speakers."
inject dark humor into this story of evolving intrigue and change, as
his review of campus personalities, life, and social conflict, creates
literary examination that is engrossing, unexpected, and colorful in
Readers looking for a
novel that blends college life with an aging physician's stumble into
world that challenges his life and perceptions will find Nevergreen
eerie, terrifying, and unexpectedly, darkly
fun as it romps through J. and his wife Debra's world and turns
upside down with new realizations.
Return to Index
Kindle Direct Publishing
One Afternoon in April is a literary novel about racial interactions and opens with an unusual encounter between a white older woman ("WOW") and a Black woman who owns an alpaca.
Eugenia ("Genie") Mitchell is hiking a trail in April, with her
alpaca Evan in an effort to clear her head when an unexpected clash
and the WOW involves witness Max, a "cute young Asian dude" who rides
a mountain bike and who observes that Genie is a very different kind of
from her colorful clothing to her choice of pet.
post-Coronavirus, where people are emerging from hiding to re-enter a
world. Unfortunately, some things haven't changed, and the
ensues from this chance encounter wraps three very different
individuals in a
dance of changing perspectives, purposes, and prejudice.
and Amy find their lives coalescing in unexpected new ways, travel
opens up as
their possibilities grow. Ties to the past become less solid; from the
anniversary of the death of Amy's husband (for which she will never
herself) to Genie and Max's ability to move between countries again,
on new discoveries.
to pursue justice for the perceived threat Genie's alpaca poses, and
and ethical conundrums that play out both in court and outside of the
for involving reading as the characters pursue different desires for
KJ crafts a
memorable story that embraces these changing perceptions, challenged
the dreams and destinies of all three characters. As Genie dodges one
only to find that she faces more strife, the lives of all three grow,
and become interconnected in unexpected ways.
points of view are wonderfully done, allowing for a full-faceted feel
character's purposes, past, and perceptions. Their contrasts in
life, grief, and recovery are nicely portrayed and promote depth in a
how lives change under duress.
for a story of racial interactions and post-Coronavirus transformations
find One Afternoon in April an excellent story of
and the processes and encounters which challenge and change hearts and
It’s a literary novel replete in social and psychological interplays
inspections, designed to keep readers thinking about the roots of
love, and change.
Return to Index
The Price of
D.X. Varos, Ltd.
9781955065-06-1 $18.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
readers who choose The Price of Betrayal
will discover that Phillip Otts spins another fine tale set in Civil
It's especially recommended for those already familiar with and
prior Harvey and McCrary series titles because its grand finale ties in
to these prior events, providing a satisfying conclusion to the saga of
brothers John and Martin, who share a father but very little else.
Martin represent the epitome of the nation's divide. Harvey is a freed
and John is white. When a shipwreck throws them together, their
the backdrop of war changes their lives and perceptions.
In The Price of Betrayal, the brothers'
experience at Fort Sumter is long over, and they have parted. Years
McCrary’s daughter locates her uncle, who is hiding and living in the
where the family narrative he relates continues to affect and change
making a new life for himself and his family hasn't come to fruition,
murder has left him isolated with dreams that never came true.
niece awakens the pain of these losses, and as he and Anne McEachen
family stories and make new discoveries about truths they hadn't known
their lives and perceptions of past, present and future changes.
heroes, traitors, and American involvements in the Caribbean move from
soil to international waters as Harvey becomes involved in rebellion,
and the lasting impact of America's slavery actions and history. The
Charleston has followed him to the Sea Islands. Will he ever find
will the conflict ever subside?
politics and processes to how life in the Caribbean was affected by
American soil, Phillip Otts brings all the social, political, and
facets of change to life.
much broader inspection of the Civil War's effects at home and abroad
Otts especially adept at translating this history into personal lives
His focus on
courage, betrayal, and the lasting price of civil war brings the times
adding the final piece of the puzzle for prior fans of the two brothers
their tumultuous times.
conclusion to the story, The Price of
Betrayal should not be missed.
Return to Index
and the Pursuing
978-1953910875 $17.99 paper/$4.99 Kindle
Readers of LBGTQ
romance will find much to like about The Pursued and the Pursuing, which builds upon F. Scott Fitzgerald's
literary classic The Great Gatsby. Quite a different turn of
events takes place when
Jay Gatsby survives the bullet to take on a very different life and
happiness—with a man.
Gatsby is not the only
Fitzgerald character to return
from the dead. Daisy Buchanan, too, reappears...only
to find that Nick and Gatsby are a couple who have built a life
together—a beacon of hope for her teenage daughter, Pam, who envisions
different life than the one toward which her parents are trying to
Narrated by Nick, Jay's
companion, The Pursued and the Pursuing
romps through Gatsby's world with an
attention to social norms, changing ideals and values, and a brand of
flourished by Pam that challenges the adults around her: "You
must be awfully smart, Uncle Nick, to make Mother so afraid,”
the girl continued, and I felt a thrill of hope at the winking sarcasm
voice. “Mother’s very afraid
smart people.” At this juncture, I heard a struggle in which the phone
wrestled away from Pam. “As you might have guessed,” said Daisy,
“I can’t take her anywhere.” “Oh, I don’t know about that,” I said
think Boston will like her just fine.”
Wry humor, observational
ironies, and social inspections
embrace the diverse personalities of Gatsby, Nick, Pam, and Daisy,
thought-provoking conversations and delightful moments: “Jacqui
thinks we’ll be too soft with each other,” Pam scoffed. “She
told us to, I quote, go home and do
some research. That was awfully cagey. Before you ask,
she knows about
us. What’s the difference, whether it’s love between men, or love
or love between anything else? It all looks the same to me. She must’ve meant something
As Pam and Daisy change Nick
and Jay's lives, readers who
have recently reread The Great Gatsby
will, in particular, delight at AJ
Odasso's ability to stay true to literary precedent while formulating a
take on Gatsby's evolution.
classic who want a contemporary twist and the same attention to social
but carried a notch further, will find The Pursued and the Pursuing an excellent tour de force, and a fun
extrapolation of events.
Return to Index
ASIN: B098KZCZSG $4.99
PURSUIT: The American Way is sequel to DELIBERATE JUSTICE: The American Way and brings back that novel's main character, Major, the Count Mikhail Diebitsch-Zabalkansky as Mike Zabel (Count Mike), a San Francisco Family man. He holds the limelight as a relentless killer operates against the backdrop of early post-Civil War San Francisco.
Pursuit takes place on many levels, from Mike's pursuit of a murderous cannibal who threatens Mike's family and home to the hunt of justice for immigrants of different races while he fights old foes who arrive in San Francisco seeking vengeance for perceived wrongs of the past.
While familiarity with Mike's history in the previous novel will lend a special appreciation for the background that leads to events in Pursuit, newcomers will easily fall into the story's present circumstances and references to past history as they absorb Count Mike's latest adventures.
No longer a Russian immigrant learning about American ways, he's found a solid place for himself in San Francisco, and is respected by many. His involvement in the social and political issues of his times is personalized by confrontations with friends, enemies, and a social order shaken by a sadistic killer whose objectives are forever changing and deadly.
Thomas Holladay neatly walks the line between history, action, and adventure as he narrates the story, incorporating early California history and personalizing events through the eyes of the Count, his family and friends, and those who oppose him.
The result is a fine, multifaceted story that brings the times to life without requiring any knowledge about the era or the prior book's adventure.
American Way is historical fiction at its best.
with changing dilemmas, and features a central character who continues
his way in America's culture, introducing a broad spectrum of special
and approaches that influence San Francisco's growth. This compelling
provides just the right amount of psychological and social inspection
the tale vivid and fast-paced to the end.
Return to Index
978-1736475713 $14.99 paper/$7.99 ebook
The Reunion: Coming
of Age in the Age of Aquarius is
a historical novel that will especially
appeal to readers enamored of the 1960s. It revolves around memory
Taylor, who (sometimes unfortunately) can't forget anything he's
life. His trip down memory lane emerges full force when he decides to
the 50th reunion of the Class of 1969; there to confront his coming of
experiences and the legacy of growing up in the 1960s.
that catches the eye is the chapter titles. The descriptions each are
compelling, whimsical, and a portent of the tone Gary Wells cultivates
romp through the past: “The Mighty Quinn” -- Nick talks to
his best friend
from high school and college—a ski coach in the West—who finally
as extroverted as Nick is introverted. They still give each other crap,
never crap on each other. You want to keep friends like that. They’re
to this story that keeps it lively and involving is the attention to
and interactions which also preserve a sense of humor and fun
you like some Clorets?” Bren fished in her purse. “Anytime someone
Clorets,” I said as we drove, “I make it a habit to accept. I always
there’s a reason for the offer.” We both laughed. That was about as
smooth as I
could be. After all, if I tried to woo a girl by saying, “Come with me
Casbah,” it was likely to come out as, “Come with me to the Cash Bar.”
memories to explore and considers what sparks some over others, readers
know not just his life story and relationships with family and friends,
major influences of the times.
in the way
of Proust, songs and other stimulations provoke the emergence of
bring the sights, smells, and sensations of the times to life.
their own memories of this era, which often are softened or
time. Nick's power lies in a recall that defies these modern
reveal the truth of what really was experienced. And it's not always a
revelation to others—or himself: “Tracks of My Tears” by
Johnny Rivers. Are
there tracks of my tears? Ha, no. They flow way too wide on my face to
tracks. More like four-lane highways. I drove down back roads, on a
learned from my dad, one day that summer singing THAT song at the top
of my lungs."
Readers who join Nick on this walk down memory lane will discover a serious inspection couched within the guise of wry humor that considers choices, consequences, and the lasting impact of the 1960s.
most novels set in this era, The Reunion captures
not just a sense of
the times, but uses the vantage point of decades later to consider what
important then, and how it translates to and affects life today.
special interest in the 1960s will find The Reunion
an unexpected journey
that re-evaluates the best and worst years of American history and the
Return to Index
A River For Gemma
Debra Whiting Alexander
The Wild Rose Press
978-1-5092-3406-6 $18.99 paper/$5.99 ebook
Gemma, the small town of Sugar Creek, Oregon is home to
Gemma Porter, who has long ago been assigned the label of being
This designation has
affected parts of her life; but not
her grandmother's love. Her warm relationship with her grandmother
to want to be a mother herself, to pass on this Porter legacy.
But what she doesn't know
can thwart her dreams, and as
she discovers a hidden secret of the past which rears as a threat to
happiness and ambitions, readers become drawn into a story replete with
insights about Gemma's real abilities.
Alexander writes with a passionate, descriptive hand that exudes color
defies pat categorization of her characters, instead celebrating their
strengths: "...the world would not
accept the truth about Gemma Porter—even though it radiated from her
Creator’s flaming medallion in the sky. Yet the truth was simple. Gemma
different abilities, not “disabilities.” And it was Gemma who sparked a
of miracles that year."
Her blend of
assessment and embrace of the miracles and surprises that lie in
ambitions, and potential is a breath of fresh air in the family
novel genre, offering readers a tangible sense of place and person
descriptions that wrap themselves around the smells, tastes, and
not as a dependent adult/child, but an independent young woman who
holds a job,
has her own apartment, and holds emotional and empathetic abilities
than make up for any intellectual deficiency.
friendships with local Native Americans and others to encounters with
spirits of the dead and living and truths that reach out from beyond
to shake up her worldview, Gemma's perspective is nicely supplemented
characters that revolve around and affect her world.
As mothers' hearts
past, present, and possible future are revealed and tested, A
River For Gemma
sterling story of love, threats, and a grandfather's dying wish that
confrontations which Gemma and her grandmother face from too-familiar
River For Gemma
blends action, intrigue, and suspense into its family saga. It's an
presentation of how Gemma navigates and sees her world and belays any
that intellectual challenges translate to deficiencies in emotional
and the ability to make good decisions and lead an effective, loving
This facet, especially,
makes A River For Gemma recommended
as inspirational reading for a wide
Return to Index
Root of All
ASIN: B09BJWV7YY Price: Tokens unlock episodes
ROOT OF ALL EVIL | Kindle Vella (amazon.com)
"Sometimes the only response to unspeakable cruelty
In Root of All Evil, a child groomed to be
a soldier grows up to become a ruthless political leader in a story
not just a compelling vision of how evil is cultivated, but what
the roots of childhood expand into adult pursuits.
and renowned for her wealth and beauty. But it's a flawed heritage on
fronts, because under the mask of achievement is the countenance of
a heart-stopping account of childhood betrayal on a level that goes far
playground spats and into the adult world of murder. Chinasa is charged
strange form of mercy killing involving her best friend.
scenario is a far cry from Chapter 1, where Chinasa (Zayani, now) is at
cocktail party where she's identified by a stranger as being a "world
changer." Little does he (or she) know how prophetic these words will
powerfully compelling saga that traces a young woman's evolutionary
moral and ethical challenges, and her effects on the world around her.
village roots that she still hasn't completely come to terms with,
she watched her family die and formed connections with their
order to survive, to her conviction that something is wrong with her
perspective as a result of unresolved trauma, Zayani navigates her new
facing many choices about exactly how she'll come to terms with past
In her role
First Lady, Zayani negotiates the reconstruction of a country torn by
strife and ongoing hatred, yet harbors within her a thirst for revenge
as nation-building which are at odds with one another.
"Why fight a
ghost?" Because it continues to haunt.
Ayira crafts a truly haunting social, political, and psychological
that embraces many realities of many nations.
emotions and political responses, her central figure of a girl who
grows up to
both reflect and deflect the circumstances of her troubled and violent
and her ability to capture succinct descriptions of environment and
turmoil are powerfully written.
a compelling story of a strong woman who both rises above her
embraces some of these roots of evil in unusual ways makes for a
thought-provoking story that is hard to put down.
read, Root of All Evil challenges
reader's heart and mind with emotional and political changes that keeps
story fast-paced, action-packed, and thoroughly engrossing to the end.
Return to Index
D. X. Varos, Ltd.
978-1-955065-04-7 $18.95 (paperback); $4.99 (ebook)
Runaway Train opens in 1987 Oklahoma,
where young man Bill Stacy
receives a job offer that leads him to move across seven states to
accept a new
career as a reporter, just as a serial arsonist threatens Texomaland.
to events is the fact that the Fairness Doctrine guiding and limiting
has just been suspended, creating an instant, ratings-driven
which TV news will do anything to encourage sensational news and viewer
in a maelstrom of political and social confrontation as the job becomes
not just numbers, but challenging ethical and moral conundrums in the
of success: “If there’s no news, he creates news. You saw what he did
last week. He set that cop up. Chip said he bragged all over the
next day.” “If
Larry’s guilty of
anything, it’s being a workaholic. I mean, the man never sleeps.” How would she know that? “News is his
life, Stacy. And regardless of how you feel about him, you can’t argue
success.” “Is that
all you care
shouldn’t I care about it?”
Her eyes looked duller than he remembered. “We finished a point behind
2. We’ve never even come close to those numbers."
fine job of melding political, social, and personal tipping points,
Stacy's mother's stroke to behind-the-scenes manipulations in the name
better ratings as part of the fallout from the Fairness Act's
cancellation: "People look up to us now. They
we’re something special.” “Something
special?” he chuffed. “Because we B.S. our viewers? Hype
Because our ‘award-winning’ news director lies to his own employees?”
curled from the ashtray like a sickle. “He wouldn’t tell us why we were
to that motel, Katie, because he didn’t want an argument. We were his
And then, worst of all, he let us take the fall for him.”
ways, the era
of honest reporting's transition to an entertainment-value medium is
in these pages and Stacy's experience. This will especially attract and
media professionals and anyone who has wondered why the news of modern
doesn't hold the same feel and, often, authority of that in past
investigative suspense story that evolves to the social and political
that reach into news reporting, Capps is adept at capturing all sides
story and the dilemmas that emerge when reporter and news become
special interests and the drive for financial reward.
Runaway Train is a novel that is
compelling on many different
levels, from social commentary to intrigue and personal revelations.
story especially highly recommended to anyone interested in media
politics, but will equally captivate those who just want a solid,
action piece in which a newsman author inspects the process and demise
unbiased reporting methods.
Return to Index
The Sword of
Bombardier Books /Post Hill Press
978-1637580066 $28.00 Hardcover/$9.99 ebook
The Sword of David is a high-octane
thriller on the level of an
Indiana Jones-style international treasure hunt—but with more political
subterfuge added, for good measure.
opens in 70
A.D., when the Jews are anticipating a reign of destruction by the
Jews have already perished at their hands in one month. General Titus
to lead his army on a final offensive to eradicate them entirely.
temple High Priest are convinced that God will save them...but in very
different ways. Their actions to protect the treasured Ark of the
the Ten Commandments lead to a centuries-old mystery that reaches into
future in Chapter 1, which opens in 2019 Jerusalem. Here, Chaim Klein,
Israeli Special Forces officer, stumbles on a dangerous artifact that
Islamic organizations that embark on a modern-day reign of terror
destroy Western and Israeli interests alike.
not only at the center of this swirling controversy, but wielding the
David as he pursues dreams and struggles with nightmares.
Peace rallies in London to an effort by Klein and his boss, Dan Beer,
down the treasures and avoid even greater disasters than are already
brewing, The Sword of David is a
struggle and the survival of Jews against the forces that would bring
Charles Lichtman brings a
great deal of history into his
story, but does so in a way that is inviting, revealing, and tied into
adventure component of the plot. This means that Middle East history,
archaeology, religion, and influences are imparted seamlessly to
blossoming drama, making it easy for non-history readers to absorb
delighting those already somewhat versed in the historic events of the
past and present.
also does an excellent job of building tension,
mystery, and interpersonal connections as he pits various factions
another in a cat-and-mouse game revolving around an ancient world's
precious truths and relics.
A host of
characters on both sides of the conflict immerse readers in events
revolve around a biblical dilemma and a world-hopping struggle not just
Islamic and Western political entities, but between religious groups.
either support or vie with one another, Khaled's growing position of
leads to a choice of whether to destroy world leaders in a single
await the opportunity to take out some of the most revered religious
history), and a network of cells involved in deadly pursuits that is
and set to detonate makes for heady description and nonstop action.
religious and historical insights, paired with a close attention to
makes The Sword of David a powerful
thriller. The story draws from the start, builds a solid foundation
historical and religious facts, and leads to a fiery conclusion that
door open for more while firmly resolving the dilemmas created by
treasures and ethnic groups locked in a centuries-old struggle.
like strong characters, solid explorations of history and belief, and
action-packed treasure hunt driving disparate forces will relish the
twists and turns and events of The Sword
of David, which should be a mainstay in any thriller
Return to Index
Twisted Silver Spoons
Karen M. Wicks
Spoons is an atmospheric story
the legacy of heir George Leibnitz, who struggles with the wealth and
is destined to control. The
set in 1985, describes this scenario: "The silver spoon
George’s throat was choking the life out of him."
introduction, events circle around "a continent of stifling duty" as
George faces an inheritance of power, sinister possibilities
grandfather's death, and family influences upon the roles he and other
members were born into and are expected to assume.
relationships receive another layer of possibility when he meets M, who
George's resolve and invites him to assume a different position in his
than the path which has been predetermined for him.
family's wealth and follow tradition while remaining true to his desire
operates in a
world of yachts and Fire Island and Martha's Vineyard gentry, and is
hemmed in. His heart's desire seems to clash with his inheritance: “I’d really like to find my own path,
explore my interests in art, philanthropy, something outside the family
business. But that will never happen.”
M seems to challenge his belief that his future is set in stone and not
his control—but, first, he'll have to deal with an equally powerful,
young woman who wields her own power in his life in an unexpected way.
adept at capturing the world of the rich and politically
portrait of George's dilemmas, relationships (both within and outside
family), and the mysteries and influences which dictate its course is
faces are not singular, but are many as he looks for a more forceful,
approach to life, but finds many of his desires thwarted from
connections in the past and influences on his future.
As M becomes
fiancée, her role in this family also falls into question as
motivations, greed, and manipulations come into play from many sides.
satisfying blend of psychological suspense, mystery, and family
that keeps readers involved in George's choices and possibilities.
Hers is a
wealth and obsession that will especially intrigue women interested in
dynamics and the influence of prosperity and family history on heirs
change their worlds in a different way.
Spoons is highly recommended as
intriguing story of George's pursuit of love and meaning both within
his family upbringing. It calls into question what is valuable, and
how a family's dreams for its future can incorporate different visions
Return to Index
place during the British Gaza Campaign of World War I. It outlines the
faced by Ginger Whitman, a young woman of privilege who becomes a
nurse to help the cause, only to find herself in quite a different role
dying soldier gives her a coded message that could change the course of
Charged with making sure the
message gets into the right
hands, Ginger doesn't know whom to trust as she navigates unfamiliar
foreign countries. She must also decide whether to accept the help of
handsome British intelligence officer Major Noah Benson.
Is he a threat, or someone
she can trust? As the story
evolves, it feels akin to an Arabian version of Gone
With the Wind, juxtaposing history with romance with a depth
that few World War I novels achieve.
As Ginger explores a world
of intrigue in which boldness
and scandal underlie subterfuge and secrets, readers receive both an
romance and a series of challenges as Ginger navigates completely
terrain in different worlds.
Ginger is no dummy, and
Annabelle McCormack successfully
captures her feelings about her affair and the duty she has unwittingly
accepted by being directly involved in the war.
The dialogue surrounding
these events realistically
captures her attractions and challenges: "A
warm feeling spread through her. “You don’t have to woo me now, Major.
than a willing participant in this affair of ours.” She cocked her head
“Are you really Irish?” He smiled. “Tá
mé.” She raised a brow. He wrapped his arm around her
more tightly. “I
am.” “But how is it you sound so English? And how many languages do you
In the desert you used both Arabic and Turkish—” Noah held her hand. “I
want to talk about anything from the desert now.”
Readers seeking a blend of
passionate romance, political
inspection, and the challenges facing a feisty young woman who finds
her head in many ways will find Windswept
does an excellent job of depicting matters of heart and loyalty alike.
As Ginger traverses the
realm of wealthy families in
Cairo and faces the fiancée of the man she's in love with, readers will
the complex interpersonal relationships that are woven into the story
Readers who like romance,
Middle Eastern settings, and
history, intrigue, and social inspection will find all these elements
incorporated into the persona and whirlwind of action surrounding the
Its special blend of history
and politics, suspense,
action, and romance keep the narrative fast-paced and thoroughly
but Windswept is especially
recommended for readers who look for more than the usual European
World War I novels are too typically centered in.
Return to Index
Liminal Phoenix Media
978-1-7372917-0-1 $20.99 Paper/$9.99 Kindle
Awakening Your Soul's Truth is a
spiritual self-help guide highly
recommended for new age, spirituality, and alternative health
alike. It comes from an energy healer and spiritual teacher with over
years of spiritual, healing, and teaching activities to her name, and
no prior familiarity with new age or spiritual concepts in order to
the legwork in introducing these concepts for audiences unfamiliar with
energetic intuitive healing or spiritual development.
these efforts with a historical overview of belief systems, charting
developed and their basic tenets and contrasting different types of
before moving to belief's connection to the healing process, discussing
emotion plays a big part in choice, action, and consequences both on a
and a spiritual realm.
be prepared to do the work that is proposed later in the read, after
covers basic concepts and their applications. This is where self-help
powerful and necessary component for effecting real change and
results on many different levels.
embrace passion and perception as they entwine the results of rising
consciousness: "One day our masks
come off, our consciousness shifts, and we become aware of the truth,
truth. We become aware that we are all kin, and that when we fight to
each other, we eventually become defeated ourselves as well. When our
come off, we grieve the unconscious life we have lived and the errors
made as a result of living life through the mask, through our cloaks.
with the knowledge that so many continue to fight the battle of belief
unconsciously as we once did. And then we forgive."
that this will be an easy or intuitive process. She often uses examples
clients and her own self-inspections to cement the fruits of this
emphasizing that the undertaking, while vastly rewarding, is no simple
procedure: "I had many clients in
the past who had suffered sexual abuse. I remember watching the healing
unfold, thinking how lucky I was that it wasn’t me who had to
It is truly amazing how the mind and body can protect us. The memories
came back to me, that I had to remember and relive to release, replayed
mind and body as visceral flashbacks over the course of weeks. The
formed through that trauma took many months to work my way through.
knew through my work and experience as an energy healer exactly how to
trauma from such tragic events, yet it was still an excruciating
her past which needed to be realized, remembered, confronted, and
effect real healing to handling different forms of anxiety and
how emotion, trauma, and belief intersect at different levels of
readers receive a template for identifying and working through their
Awakening Your Soul's Truth comes with
the prerequisite of an
inquiring mind willing to do the work to understand the roots of
effect real change.
new age, and health collections interested in specific techniques for
at and embracing new truths and lasting change from the effort will
find Awakening Your Soul's Truth
ticket to begin an intensive, fruitful process.
Return to Index
Susan C. Riford, Author
Suzanne Ford, Narrator
Suzanne Ford and Blackstone Publishing
978-1665059275 $29.95 CD/$20.19 Audiobook
Black Rocks and
Rainbows: The True Adventures of Henry
Opukahaia, the Hawaiian Boy Who Changed History is the perfect example of how a story can come
alive in audio in a
vivid manner that print cannot quite match.
this attribute here is narrator Suzanne Ford's performance. Cultivating
compelling, clear, smooth and evocative voice is no light feat;
it applies to an entire book.
moments of the story, punctuated by Hawaiian musical embellishments, to
dramatic style, which brings to life fifteen-year-old island boy Henry
Opukahia's 1800s adventure on a ship bound for America, the audio
spirited, captivating descriptions.
adult listeners will find this style of learning history inviting. It's
press the 'pause' button as Henry faces pirates, the white foreigners
enter his world, and his own destiny in enacting changes that
to his role as a scholar, writing down Hawaii's language for the first
to bring all this to life through a focus on such atmosphere as the
shifting sea" and "the air was still and steaming hot" is
wonderful. Dramatic moments are conveyed in a low, sultry, hushed voice
captures the atmosphere of early Hawaii's environment.
circumstances surrounding Henry's birth, life, and journey are
readers of all ages will enjoy audio embellishments which bring the
Henry's special challenges, as well as early Hawaiian culture, to life.
to ages 12 and older rarely captivate adult audiences, but Ford's
allows those with relatively little familiarity with Hawaiian history
culture to absorb both in an accessible, enlightening, engrossing
than grow from his experiences. He develops talents that lead him into
role in capturing and preserving Hawaiian culture for his people and
mainlanders, as well. The politics and history of Hawaii's relationship
the mainland is nicely captured within Henry's experiences.
version which will be available in the near future reflects an
towards a youthful audience; but the audio expands these spectators
ability to reflect the compelling drama of the written word.
Black Rocks and
Rainbows is the perfect example
of why audio and written word may be equally
inviting to different audiences. In this case, both contribute a
sense of place and perspective to a historical drama that is highly
for young readers in book form and a wider range of listeners in audio.
audio can be
enjoyed now, while readers await the publication of the written version
Return to Index
Children of Violence
978-1-09832-119-2 $12.95 Paper/$4.99 ebook
Readers of coming of age
find the contrast
between four very different young adults in the novella Children
Violence to be absorbing and
Each young person has their own cross to
bear, from a parent who is a cult member to the son of an addict
younger brother virtually alone, a girl whose father is connected to
and the son of an alcoholic killer.
The story opens with a big bang: "We
robbed a bank. A fucking goddamn bank. Brilliant...It was a strange
time. Something I think about every day. The one wrong decision in my
spiraled into the hell of my existence today."
This is only one of the pivot points that
mark what each young person's life has evolved into; but these children
violence absorb and reflect their upbringing in very different ways.
therein lays the strength of their stories, which makes this novella
just a predictable survey of the end results of adversity.
Gracie got her fearlessness from her father.
It's a quality which will serve her well in her efforts to move beyond
gangster father's decisions, which make her family well off for life
goes to work for Mr. Kearsey to become a hired killer.
Gracie's astute observation of this process
and its impact on their family is nicely done, offering deeper
those about conflict alone: "When you live with people long
know there’s some things about them that they never show the outside
Some things stay in their hearts behind closed doors, yet define their
As her perceptions evolve from that of a
child to an adult's considerations, Gracie's move towards adulthood
The same goes for each of these young
characters, who evolve a sense of purpose, place, and personality that
from their parents.
Luke Gherardi pulls no punches in his candid
stories. There are violent confrontations, cursing, and threats that
characters and their readers. His is a world of cruelty, survival
Each child is charged with taking their
parents' worlds and realities and surviving it physically, mentally,
Each cultivates imperfect decisions based on the information they have
environments they were raised in. And each solves their problem in a
Gherardi's thought-provoking stories are
portraits of violence, survival tactics, and family influence that
these concepts of survival plays out.
The juxtaposition of very different young
adults caught up in a cycle that demands unique responses and choices
result in different consequences creates as much a social issues
a contrast in coming of age. All these elements make Children
highly recommended for socially conscious readers unafraid of stepping
milieu of kids facing the results of poor adult choices and challenging
Return to Index
9781736761144 $14.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Combative to Collaborative: The Co-Parenting Code
reading for any stepparent, divorced parent, or blended family member
for guidelines and concrete steps for co-parenting success. It outlines
pitfalls and processes that will help avoid typical issues and resolve
problems. Its code of conduct will help dissolve the differences
parenting styles and approaches in parents who harbor personal and
differences over how parenting should ideally work.
parents is that they want to do the best for their children. Starting
common ground, Teresa Harlow surveys what "the best" looks like from
different angles, focusing on how parenting relationships change these
experiences and those of other co-parents illustrate the difficult move
adversaries to partners, pinpointing revised approaches that ultimately
resulted in success stories.
examples outline not only interpersonal obstacles, but challenges that
from a child's other support systems (such as school), showing how they
may be structured
towards only live-in parents: "Some
parents are more comfortable being in complete control and shut the
parent out intentionally from information about their child’s
avoid these communications for fear they will turn negative,
just plain uncomfortable. Others simply don’t think about it. Schools
beginning to recognize that all parents do not live together and are
to accommodate the needs of parents and children living in two homes.
school systems now provide communication to both parents. But this is
always the case."
co-parenting ideological challenges and the mechanics of assuring that
families and extended families receive their due 'child times' even at
holidays. They acknowledge the special juggling acts that occur at
co-parents face a host of obstacles to smooth interactions and
thinking, but with the aid of the practical considerations and creative
in Combative to Collaborative, many
of these obstacles can be acknowledged and conflicts short-circuited.
reasoned collaborative recommendations not only support the children,
sides of their families and extended relations.
improve interactions and make better choices must add Combative
Collaborative to their arsenal of
Return to Index
Morgan James, LLC
$26.95 Hardcover; $17.95 Paper; $9.99 ebook
Maker: How to Create Remarkable
Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait to Share is recommended reading for any salesperson or
marketer who wants to
reach customers on more than a financial level. It shows how to go
beyond most sales routines to create and transmit an experienced-based
salesperson or marketer consider this above other tried-and-true
Because traditional approaches aren't working as well as they used to.
Customers are seeking an experience, not the pitter
patter of trite
sales approaches, and those who can create a positive experience stand
many more sales, references, and repeat customers than those who employ
then becomes: how to create such a milieu? That's where The
on facets outlined in the sterling Foreword that is written by Ann
introducing Dan Gingiss and his approach: "What if we thought
systematically about creating consistently remarkable experiences that
for our customers? What if we looked more intentionally at creating
extraordinary moments they can’t forget?What if we didn’t practice
karaoke—singing the same song everyone else sings, mimicking the same
the same voice—but instead found new and creative and witty approaches
reflect our true identity?"
ethereal interpretations of what constitutes a compelling experience,
contrasts between different kinds of experiences: "Remembering
definition of customer experience includes every single interaction a
has with a brand, we must consider how every experience looks when
can range from digital imagery in an advertisement to almost any
element of a
focus on how to stand out in the best possible way through every
representation of a company's product or service: "...with
of your company’s experience, you have to ask yourself if you want it
social media. This is not just about being afraid of what people might
it’s about how you design it so people want to share the experience."
from traditional to experience-emphasizing approaches will be no easy
existing companies and businesspeople. The effort represents a
on the most fundamental levels—a challenge which is not ignored by
juxtaposition of old and new methods, the methodology of incorporating
into existing business structures and plans, and the nuts and bolts of
an experience to reflect a vivid, flexible, changing company is
many specific admonitions and case history examples that take the
of the theory's application process.
collection and many an entrepreneur, business manager, or owner will
take a look at The Experience Maker. Like its basic
premise, it's a
standout in the crowd of business transformation titles already on the
serving as a powerful example of not only what is possible, but how to
Return to Index
Yours and Ours
Natalie Graszewicz & Dominik Socha
Sleepless Writers Ltd
Graszewicz & Dominik Socha embarked on a mission to preserve
Anglo-Polish history and heritage in the UK, they uncovered a
unlawful destruction of Anglo-Polish cultural and religious heritage in
Court—one that embraced some 2,000 years of history during which London
became powerful enough to rewrite the sagas of England's people and
authorities breached English, European and international law in their
of modifying the truth about the Anglo-Polish heritage, this resulted
destruction of the heritage site that once had protection under
campaign for justice, historical discoveries, and information about the
economic and elitist rise of power and purpose in both the UK and the
contribute to a powerful scholarly examination that, at first glance,
seem to hold a narrowed scope primarily of interest to those of Polish
and UK residency.
But, soft: anyone
interested in an interdisciplinary approach to major world issues
historical representation, economic forces, and social activism needs
the discoveries and their impact in For Victims Yours and Ours.
Its powerful testimony to
the ongoing forces of
repression, social and legal challenge, and historical representation
changed to reflect the points of view of special interests and elite
makes for thought-provoking reading relevant to all ethnic groups and
circles around the world.
More importantly, For
Victims Yours and Ours offers a compelling
look that draws in many facets, from science and technology to
parties who have influence on the City of London, agreements between
and peoples, the impact of terrorism on the world, and disturbing
differences between official reports and eyewitness experiences.
As it draws together an
alternate history of influential
forces on various peoples, this book expands to embrace the concerns of
just UK or Polish residents, but anyone interested in who really pulls
strings of influence behind the scenes: "Since
its inception in 1913, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE did not work for the
benefit of the
American people but a narrow group of corporate and banking Fraternity."
Poland's experience serves
not just as a microcosm for
understanding, but as a foundation for expanding knowledge of the
which have affected the currents and choices of nations, leaders, and
This wide-ranging survey and
history is highly
recommended reading for college students who would consider the
origins of and influences upon historical precedent, decisions, and
authoritatively referenced, and broad
in its scope and information, For Victims
Yours and Ours is no casual survey, but demands from its
scholarly, college-level educated awareness that is equally suitable
classroom debate, and social awareness development.
Return to Index
McGee Legacy LLC
Reading Move Over, I’m Driving! A Road Map for
Reclaiming Control of Your Life is like pressing 'restart' on
computer. It's about rejecting conventional ways of approaching one's
and life in favor of cultivating paths that lead away from failure and
self-flagellation and onto better roads of success. This approach is
recommended for self-help readers who already have had some therapy or
some inspirational books, but still feel stuck.
"been there/done that," and is in an excellent position to tell what
makes a difference, what is useful, and how seemingly-helpful advice
as an obstacle to growth: "I spent
years not moving forward because I was waiting to be happy. I was
waiting to be
healed. I was waiting to forgive everyone. I was waiting for people to
me. I was waiting for the closure I was promised. Well, it never
I was miserable."
As in a
where the heart of the title lies in the main course, the dishes of
served up here surround the crux of a contention that "...my
approach focuses on the various situations that alter our
reality, cause us to lose focus on
our goals, and try to shift our priorities from what we want to what
else deems to be a priority." The key lies in identifying and
separating outside forces from one's perspectives about life and the
happiness and success.
through this process of identifying better routes to change, they
many typical self-help admonitions that actually can translate to
limiting opportunities for transformation: "If
I challenged you to list a few goals, dreams, or aspirations you have
yourself, I doubt you would have any difficulty to be able to come up
least one....a list of things you know you need to do, have to learn,
to know to start your process. Unfortunately, for many people, that
becomes the very thing holding us back from progress. Many of us forget
resulting list is nothing more than a to-do list. It’s a list of things
start to do this very second to get moving in the right direction.
list becomes a sort of ball and chain that you drag along every time
you try to
make progress. It goes from being a list of things to do to being a
reasons you can’t do something. Instead of being next steps, they
reasons to stall. To make matters worse, we then begin putting delayed
timelines on things to ensure we never reach success."
self-help guidelines, McGee provides the reasons why so many of these
well-meaning approaches don't work. Their limitations lie in how they
translated into action and how they can serve to increase pressure and
rather than alleviating these forces.
real-life examples, and admonitions about reality and change come to
readers receive a real game plan for personal change, a better vision
constitutes success, and a course of action rooted not in just ideals,
but in clues
on how to build a real momentum towards change...one that identifies
opportunities and teaches how to keep moving forward.
that truly sets Move Over, I’m Driving! apart
from other self-help books. When momentum is achieved, all the other
the puzzle fall into place. This guide provides all the tricks and tips
covers all the pitfalls involved in this process, and should be
"must" for those who have felt bludgeoned or trapped by their own
desires and the typical self-help approach, and who are looking for
different with a better path forward.
will want to consider Move Over, I’m
Driving! a key acquisition.
Return to Index
Tony A. Blankenship
Mason Jar Publishing
Fans of self-help and
self-improvement guides should
prepare for a surprise, because Tony A. Blankenship maintains that most
these admonitions don't solve problems—because they don't adequately
The roots of improvement lie
in both connections to a
Higher Power and using the resources and help of supportive individuals
foster the process of recovery.
If this sounds familiar,
it's because it's modeled on
Alcoholic Anonymous's 12-Step program—with a slightly different focus.
Here, the objective is to
identify and promote a healthy
lifestyle. Blankenship, having himself been in the position of
of these promising yet "fluffy" contentions of self-help
effectiveness, here provides meditations, exercise, and prayer to
standards of healthy daily living that he outlines as a blueprint to
Where other books might
promote vision boards,
affirmations, chants, rituals, and various forms of self-inspection,
Blankenship maintains that "without the help of a Higher Power and the
support of others, we will not be able to change ourselves."
in contrast to most others, provides a spiritual approach that moves
in connecting these spiritual reflections to processes that enhance
understanding: "There are so many
ways for each of us to approach this step. For example, it was
important to me
to use my own words and terminology to convey what I wanted. Some
want to go to a church, go into a room, sit at an altar, or just be in
house at their kitchen table. Go where it feels right for you, where
the most connected. You can also go outside for a walk in nature. Go to
woods, the river, the lake, mountains, parks, grassy fields, or even
around your neighborhood. Just go. Turn off your phone, turn off your
and start to walk at a gentle pace. This is not meant as exercise; it's
pleasant stroll. As you begin your walk, say a prayer or, if you wish,
earnest request to open your heart and your mind and lay aside
think so you can have a new experience. Walk for thirty minutes. At the
thirty minutes, stop, sit down, take a breath, take another breath. Look
With each of
simple six-step instructions, Blankenship links intention and new
with concrete, world-redefining moves that are backed not just by
self-inspection, but a broader view of giving back responsibly to those
have influenced a better path: "Once
I admitted that I cannot do things on my own, I had to find a Power by
could live who could give me the strength to do what was needed. Part
forming the relationship necessary to that Power requires clearing away
has blocked me from it and finding the things that connect me to it.
that has consistently kept me connected is being of service to others."
reflections on and admonitions for self-help are firmly rooted in a
social component, Blankenship is able to effectively guide readers
pomp and fluffy promises of self-help guides that are more ethereal,
lacking in practical applications.
It of course
requirement that the reader come to believe in a Higher
pursuing this guide. Those who already have such a basic foundation of
will find that its advice supports and builds upon this spiritual
who believe this book just repeats the better-known AA guidelines will
pleased to note that it expands upon these, into areas more concretely
and outlined for easier, more productive absorption. Strong
religious connections are key to this process.
another self-help guide (because most of those do suck). It's a
how to choose, identify, and live a healthier, more productive
overall, and is highly recommended for those who have delved into the
book world before and found it sadly lacking.
has spent much time and money following these barren paths to promised,
success, he's in the perfect position to both acknowledge their
point to a better approach.
Return to Index
WilPower Integrated Marketing
Every business and
social issues library should contain a copy of The Silent Agreement: An
Illusion of Inclusion in Black Corporate America. The survey is that unique—and that central
to formulating a better understanding of the fight for inclusion and
in the workplace, and how that struggle is more an effort to change
and preconceptions than it is about instigating rules and methods to
The strength of Wil
Shelton's approach in The Silent Agreement lies
in the nature
of the subject and especially how he approaches it, in that a degree of
discomfort will take place on the part of even (perhaps especially?)
liberal-minded readers and Black businesspeople who believe they are
enlightened about diversity to some degree.
Shelton comes out punching
from the very first chapter
(the book is filled with boxing connections from the author's dual
as an athlete): "Black executives
inadvertently make silent agreements to be content with less, to not
what they deserve, and to fully support the demands of the corporate
administration even when those demands conflict with their own
culture, and conscious. Those who comply with these unwritten contracts
corporate America almost always find out the hard way that the other
With several adept strokes,
Shelton jabs at concepts of
what inclusion, getting ahead, and the illusion of equality really mean
business environment, attacking the "facades of conformity" that lead
Black business folk to blend in and compromise when they should be
Part of this battle lies in
the ability to recognize the
forces that encourage silence, acquiescence, and the status quo. These
reinforced not just by corporate structures and business environment,
minority groups who participate in them and serve as silent partners to
oppression. Shelton's survey of how white corporate leaders and
knock out true Black achievement, status, and opportunity is backed by
of facts and astute analysis.
From the methodology in
sports and business worlds which
are committed to creating the illusion of diversity without truly
foundations in effective ways, to how individuals fall into the trap of
participating in these illusions, Shelton proves hard-hitting facts,
them up with examples from real life experience: "The
NFL is a prime example. While the institution continues to
uphold racism in its practices, it needs Black talent to compete, so it
token positions for Black executives to appear as a
Unfortunately, those positions are few and far between."
Shelton does more than offer
critical analysis and
perspectives. He ties them into social situations ("The
pandemic, the racial tension, and the economy have all affected
each other as a seemingly deplorable trifecta that has led American
to consider getting more Black faces into C-suite positions versus
age-old practices with simpleminded views of race, sex, and
Unfortunately, not enough corporations have made the jump. Most have
lip service and grabbed a few Black actors for “photo ops.”)
identifies and celebrates companies which have made and succeeded in
efforts to be truly inclusive, such as Netflix.
Agreement covers more than the tactics of illusion. Its
real-world scenarios and how enlightened, empowered companies, leaders,
workers can make headway against engrained corporate standards and
to achieve true change through a variety of approaches, from mentorship
understanding the roots of success, defeat, and how to foster
authority in the workplace and life.
No business or social issues
collection should be without
this book, which is especially recommended for classroom and group
both in school and in the workplace.
Return to Index
R.J. Mott Jr.
Huge Jam Publishing
978-1-911249-48-1 $25.95 Paper/$11.99 ebook
Out Semantics: The
Limits of Philosophy
fruit of years of research in semantics and philosophy. It provides a
analytical philosophy that reviews the philosophies of language, mind,
mathematics, epistemology and science, adding Mott's original theories
to the mix.
Out Semantics is not
the usual survey of Western philosophies, but represents a radical
that maintains that much of what is considered philosophy, these days,
is not...it's platitudes and advice that come in the guise of
lacks the backing and credentials to achieve this status.
In the pursuit of what
constitutes real philosophy,
language is key to the process. This is the focus of Sounding Out Semantics,
strives for clarity in a discipline that has become muddied and murky
of linguistics or philosophy will find Mott's scholarly approach
history and linguistic challenges of philosophy in a dual examination
caveat at the start of his discussion which acknowledges the underlying
difficulty in the analytical process and its choices: "All
of linguistics is afflicted with terminological mayhem. Any
survey of linguistics will find a total lack of terminological
Hundreds of terms are used in a multitude of inconsistent ways. Even
terms such as “statement”, “syntax” and “language” are redefined
fit the needs of theorists. Theoretical terms such as “productive” and
“inflectional” appear to be even more flexible. Nevertheless, I will be
many of these terms without defining them. In reading the book you will
odyssey is revealing, critical, and embraces history, usage, and
pitfalls alike: "Studies
consistently indicate that different frames of reference and
metaphors in various languages produce different thinking about time
There is no longer any doubt that the use of any language has effects
non-linguistic cognitive domains. The question now is: How much language affects
non-linguistic thinking and
rules to social cognition from childhood upward, conditioning
perception, and usage (such as the word "certainty") is examined and
supported by researched footnotes as Mott navigates scientific
support and lend to philosophical thinking.
Because Sounding Out Semantics: The
Limits of Philosophy
creates such a detailed and in-depth
survey that crosses disciplines to challenge common perceptions and
descriptions, it is especially highly recommended reading for
students of science, philosophy, and linguistics.
these disciplines proves, in Sounding Out
Semantics, key to the process of real comprehension—if not of
than the special challenge of its processes.
Return to Index
Tales of the
Champ Clark Vaughan
979-8501618466 $15.00 Paper/$4.00 Kindle
of the Public Domain: A History of the United States General Land
to Oregon collections, it would be a shame to limit its readership to
In effect, Champ
Clark Vaughan has crafted, in his history of Oregon's public land
a geographic and cultural inspection which examines the evolution of
land laws and management systems, reviews the roles of the General Land
(GLO), and embraces the social and cultural challenges of such issues
rights and lands and settlement laws, in the process.
holds a diverse history in addressing all these issues, and that its
actions, acts, land status records, and public domain controversies
facets of U.S. land management experience and issues means that the
be held up as a microcosm of experience and history relevant to other
position as chief, Branch of Lands and Minerals Operations in the
Land Management Oregon-Washington State Office lends authority to his
as does his background as a geographer and land law examiner.
backgrounds in geography and land law create a powerful consideration
settlement issues over the decades that hold much food for thought and
relevance to modern-day issues that arise from changing laws, values,
Anyone interested in
the history of U.S. settlements, land management, and changing legal
and rights needs to place Tales
of the Public Domain
at the top of their reading list.
Collections strong in references about Oregon history and public domain
in general will find it a worthy acquisition.
Return to Index
The Vice Chairman's
Doctrine: A Guide to Rocking the
Top in Industry 4.0 comes from a
former public company Vice Chairman and CEO who offers a different
take than in most books. His focus on transformative business
wellsprings of creativity and flexibility that lead to success, and the
that back these experiences set this business book apart from almost
other discussion on the market.
Domowitz does not use a single company for his corporate examples.
weaves the perspectives, knowledge, and power of leadership and change
each different story to provide not just business lessons, but
connections to events and growth experiences.
lies in its addition of dramatic flourishes to capture audience
like fiction, these references may be otherworldly or emotional draws.
with the best acuity of nonfiction, Domowitz supports them with real-world incidents,
facts to educate and transform business readers.
anticipate and even look for staid accounts filled with facts and
diagrams may be stymied by this approach. The Vice Chairman's
is a manifesto of change not recommended for business leaders who base
corporations, decisions, and lives on statistical references alone.
invitation to embrace a new form of corporate identity, and excels in
the business perspective through a clear doctrine that defines
this process: "The Vice Chairman’s product is the company
Common priorities of innovation, branding, and culture are refashioned
unorthodox lenses. The glass is ground through process, and three
the Vice Chair’s attention. They are design thinking, the AGIL system
societal action, and the psychology of cognitive appraisal."
employed to craft and reframe a winning game are clear and are based on
different frameworks: "In order to understand why tit for tat
a solution to our second problem of contingent rewards, ask: why did
strategy do so well in comparison to others? Academics have complex
this question, but mine are relatively simple. TFT is a strategy which
implemented in games with repeated moves or in a series of similar
is a requirement in both marriage and business."
used to a "one size fits all" approach to success will welcome the
flexibility advocated in Domowitz's approach. By considering
thinking, leaders are challenged to incorporate many ideas that promote
change not just the concept of doing business, but their own roles in
transformative experience: "Influence the influencers. The
the firm may be oriented towards maintaining client relationships but
nevertheless sensitive to changes in the clients’ environment. The
attempts to demonstrate those changes, even if they are latent. Once
advertised change is bought as a concept, change management in behalf
client becomes the sale. Pattern maintenance now includes change
Cultural differences are mitigated in pursuit of a common objective:
client happy. The phrase could define the culture itself."
key to successfully absorbing this book lies in an acceptance of the
"change management." Everything else falls into place in chapters
that discuss and promote how this happens. It's that simple to
radical to instigate under traditional corporate settings.
interested in innovative concepts and creative envisioning of
approaches to goal attainment, adaptation, and change will welcome the
and examples packed in an inspirational survey of many new
visions of success.
Return to Index
Volume 1: The Facts of the Case
Michael F. Cole
Twin Prime Publishing
$16.95 Hardcover/$10.95 paper/$4.99 Kindle
the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 60s through early 70s well
atmosphere of terror a mysterious serial killer fostered as he
murder spree, taunting investigators through anonymous letters to
that in 2021 this case is more than cold and closed, but The
Zodiac Revisited Volume
1: The Facts of the Case reawakens events, reconsiders clues,
reevaluates the lingering questions of the Zodiac's identity and
It is highly recommended reading for true crime readers looking for a
angle on the subject.
revisit occurs at a point in the far future where the hope for justice
almost certainly gone. What remains is a quest for lasting closure by
identifying the Zodiac once and for all and pulling together the pieces
puzzle surrounding his elusive persona.
The Zodiac Revisited begins with a
powerful introduction which
outlines why the Zodiac mystery remains one of the most compelling
killer cases in American history. Cole reviews the killer's actions, as
coverages before him have done—but what stands out is the ciphers
to the newspapers as clues—puzzles which stymied law enforcement and
cryptologists alike. One puzzle was only solved in December 2020, and
Zodiac's real identity weren't the only lingering questions on this
Zodiac boasted of some 37 murders over his spree; yet law enforcement
only account for five of his victims. Were the others figments of his
imagination, portents of his future goals, or real victims so cleverly
disguised or hidden that they could not be credited to him?
emerged since the last swirl of excitement in 1978. Investigators
impressive mountain of evidence that led nowhere, including over twenty
of writings the killer contributed himself over the life of his crimes.
known, but little is understood—and that's where The
Zodiac Revisited shines.
Zodiac's entire story, from his logical starting point in Vallejo and
to each of the murders, including reproductions of the Zodiac letters
will be particularly delighted by the meticulous sifting of clues which
publishes images of letters, documents, and other key evidence that
readers to look at everything the investigators developed or had access
each murder and its clues and challenges are specific and intricately
complete with footnoted references: "Police
initiated a thorough review of all the details that had been published
Cheri’s murder. Although multiple accounts had mentioned that the
coil and condenser had been torn out, no reports had included any
the perpetrator pulling out the middle wire of the distributor — which
fact, true. Though police publicly allowed for the possibility that the
may have been written by someone other than the murderer, the reality
they knew the author and the killer were one and the same. The Chief of Police would
describe his conclusion on the matter by saying: “There is no doubt
person who wrote the confession letter is our homicide suspect.” As of
writing of this book, the murder of Cheri Jo Bates remains unsolved."
capture the drama surrounding the Zodiac's era (including the Bay Area
and residents) through stories of the murders and the terror they
brings this story to life; but it's Cole's attention to detail that
history apart from any other Zodiac consideration (and, there are more
about the quagmire of legal, social, psychological, and political
The Zodiac's modus operandi uniquely presented to the community at
hard to put down this true crime story, which blends elements of a
into a meticulous historical probe that leaves no stones unturned.
three-part investigation is a huge draw. The conclusion of this segment
the way for more in a compelling manner that makes it hard not to want
what happens next: "Many had reached
the point where they would be happy with the story of the Zodiac simply
away. To a large extent, that’s exactly what happened."
gone away, but Cole's book certainly won't vanish in the reader's mind
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Embargo on Hope
978-1637528167 $16.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Embargo on Hope is recommended for teen
sci-fi readers who look for
stories replete with action and social inspection.
Vastire, the choices of a father fall upon the shoulders of his son.
Sixteen-year-old Darynn Mark faces poverty as an aftermath of the
his father incited, which resulted in the P.A. embargo on their planet.
to reach Darynn with a message: finish his father's work, and the
poverty-inducing embargo might be ended.
Darynn is an
observer of his world and is more than cognizant of the social and
forces that have conspired to bring them to this juncture: "The P.A. wanted to help slum-rats like Pavlar and
me, since we
have about the same rights as sheep, but those bureaucratic idiots
realize that an embargo would just mean things would get worse for the
political savvy will delight older teens who look for more insights and
than the usual sci-fi adventure quest contains. It reflects many
situations of poverty in which forces that would help actually add to
world, Darynn understands that his choices, like his father's, may
change not only the status quo, but his own life and those around him.
mission that leads him to confront spies, monsters, vampires, and more,
confronts his heritage and lessons in the course of learning more about
abilities and the complexity of his task: “Were
you a good friend of his, Mr. Viln?” Fyra asked. “If Kawto wasn’t
come to me for advice or to rant. We worked together on a few missions,
was a rare man—both skilled and disciplined. It’s hard to find men like
that.” I’m neither of those things. At
least, according to Kaylaa. She was probably right though. But was that
fault? Maybe I should have inherited those traits. Or maybe he would’ve
them to me, had he been around longer."
ability to juxtapose political and social inspection with personal
revelations creates a gifted story that is exceptionally compelling.
Darynn's first-person insights and observations with notes by Polek
others, who solidify objectives on different sides, and adds
inspections of the
underlying motivations of fighting forces and a son who both admires
and struggles with his insanity.
Embargo on Hope is about more than a
social and political struggle.
It's about a son's legacy and ability to grow into his powers and make
difference in his world's future, and the Olan-Har caste's lives, joys,
is ultimately responsible for their condition.
readers who enjoy more than a light social inspection are in for a
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Whoever You Are
Goodnight Star, Whoever You Are is an inviting picture book discussion about
overcoming grief and loss after a loved one dies; but it's also about
bigger picture of finding meaning and ongoing love from that loss.
a mother and
child are driving home at night from a wonderful beach day, the child
that a star seems to be following them.
provides a solid scientific explanation, then offers her own idea—one
beyond science to enter into the realm of recovery and new
possibilities in a
star "...all full of magic and promise and light. It made the
night seem so bright."
reminder that love is timeless and never dies is reinforced as the
considers her wisdom and finds comfort in the possibility that those
Camarra provides simple, engaging illustrations that kids will relate
colorful drawings are fine compliments to a story that gives just
to encourage a dialogue about grief, death, and loss between adults and
satisfying difference from some picture books which attempt to fill in
blanks about these subjects. The open-ended inspirational idea
conversations between adults and children, making Goodnight
You Are an uplifting beginning for discussions that sets the
stage for a
positive, creative viewpoint using a metaphor about lasting love beyond
strong in picture books that open the door for emotional insights will
Star, Whoever You Are a welcome addition that's very highly
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If You Shut
Eyes, You'll Hear Some Cosmic Verse
Ep Creative Enterprises
and white line illustrations in If You
Shut Your Eyes, You'll Hear Some Cosmic Verse will appeal to
all ages, from
young poetry readers to adults well versed in the genre. They provide
thought-provoking, imaginative creations that at first appear to hold
insight for the young. However, many an adult who cultivates being
heart will find these short works whimsical and imaginative
"a new world from a new dimension."
"Nincomdroops!" for one example. This builds on previous observations
to note that "The Droops of
Evil/cause upheaval/everywhere they go./Can't walk in a line./Can't
sign./Go fast instead of slow."
journeys, hilarity, and bouncing, rollicking rhythms that describe
and spaces will also delight read-aloud parents who encourage levity
celebration in the young, cultivating an appreciation for poetry that
fanciful environments with fun wordplays and fantasy observations about
creatures that inhabit these other realms.
to absorb multiple word interpretations and differing observations and
conclusions about these intergalactic environs and their inhabitants as
romp through a cosmic and literary journey.
introduce kids to a variety of poetic forms will appreciate the
Palestrant employs in these celebratory explorations, the humor, and
descriptions. Her black and white illustrations provide just the right
simple touch to help these cosmic verses come to life in a presentation
especially recommended for young readers new to poetic experiences.
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Kiki Goes to
Victor D.O. Santos
introduce the concept of foreign languages, words, and polygot speakers
early age will find Kiki Goes to Brazil
another fine addition to the Linguacious picture book collection that
multicultural encounters, understanding, and language skills.
The polygot kids are
traveling to Brazil, the country of their father's birth, where they
warm Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro
and encounter people from different countries.
Words in their mother's
tongue (Ukrainian) as well as in Chinese
and in Portuguese introduce some new concepts to kids, but the action
around pet chicken Kiki, who goes missing.
Even more important than the
adventure and language
lesson is the example of being helpful and sharing new experiences. The
of an evolving friendship that introduces yet more possibilities to the
family creates an inviting story about being open to and understanding
The contrast between
different cultures and how they
become friends is the real heart of a story. Colorful, inviting
by Eszter Miklós illustrate the tale of how a travel encounter creates
for all ages.
Collections strong in
cross-cultural representation and
lessons supporting positive attitudes and encounters among diverse
groups will find that Kiki
Goes to Brazil is delightful in its
presentation and perspective.
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Old Kicker Legs
Robert and Ross Rubenstein
979-8514534746 $6.20 Paper/$3.00 ebook
Old Kicker Legs tells of a grandfather's
walk with his grandson,
and reviews the activities they can and cannot do together. Based on
events that happened over several seasons in 2021 Maryland, the story
nature, Native Americans, family relationships, and themes of aging and
Kicker Legs") has a carved walking stick named Joe Elm. Joe has his own
sage persona and observational style as he narrates his revised life
is a concrete world,” Joe Elm says. He misses the mountain near the
tree between three rocks where he began to breathe."
Old Kicker Legs is cognizant
of the fact (and informs his
grandson) that he must tread carefully through life. His "old
bones can crack like crystal. And he'll be gone."
Robert and Ross Rubenstein
employ lovely, lyrical
language to explore relationships between people and between humans and
in this story. This feature pairs beautifully with colorful, original
Victor Nario, which receives an added boost through the choice of the
first-person in the young narrator's interactions with his grandfather.
Readers who expect a sage
walk, given Old Kicker Legs'
physical limitations, will find that what the body resists, the mind
This grandfather is more than willing to accompany his grandson through
different adventures, from the joys of mud puddle play to an unexpected
challenge with a young player.
"What the old man can be" is
still an active,
engaging, fun-loving personality.
The lessons imparted by this
adventure are delightfully
unexpected, presenting a fine contrast between attitude and physical
Parents using this book to help kids understand older adults and their
possibilities will be pleased that the Old Kicker Legs portrayed here
holds gumption, creative thinking, and an interest in the world that
in embracing his grandson.
Adults looking for a
different kind of story about elder/child
relationships will find many lessons and unexpected turns in Old Kicker Legs, which is especially
recommended for collections looking for something different in the way
family interactions in general and grandparent depictions in particular.
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Her Lucky Pickle
978-1648710841 $15.00 book/$2.99 ebook
Pickleball Patsy And Her Lucky Pickle
tells of a girl who loves to
play pickleball. But, before every game, she sucks on a sour pickle
deems lucky, and which (she thinks) assures her of a winning streak.
she loses her lucky pickle. Can she ever win again, without her ace in
provides vivid, compelling illustrations that nicely accept Gerrie
story of a girl who thinks her skills come from luck. Even though her
tries to tell her that she doesn't need luck to win, Patsy is convinced
she can't play without it.
Her idea is
a losing streak that began when luck went missing. Can Patsy regain her
approach to pickleball on her own terms?
young picture book readers with a vivid story about winning strategies,
systems, problem-solving, friendship, and creative approaches to
Much to her
Lewis tailors Pickleball Patsy And Her
Lucky Pickle to go in an unexpected direction right up to the
which involves a surprise twist neither young readers and read-aloud
will see coming.
It's a fine
determination that considers different viewpoints and ways of winning
and will delight adults who want to teach kids about positivity and
Return to Index
The Red Fence
The Red Fence is a picture book story set
in the town of Vanderloo,
where "everyone, everywhere, has the same view."
lively, whimsical character drawings with the look and feel of a Dr.
classic as Ed Diamano employs a rollicking rhythm to explain and
town's creed, which "echoed far and near/That difference wasn’t wanted
moves in, though, nothing is the same again. Their differences are
when they decide to paint their fence a (shocking) red, challenging the
commitment to bland uniformity with a flagrant slash of color they
fence back to a more-acceptable white not only fail ("The
Bean family laughed, and they cried out with glee,/“You can’t
change our fence, so just let it be!/It doesn’t affect you, so just let
go!/A little change is good, or didn’t you know?”), but
provoke a series of
changes that horrify those who think that any change is bad.
message about diversity in the guise of a town's special challenges,
readily understand the problem and its solution in a whimsical read
through a lesson about being different.
choose The Red Fence for
read-aloud, as well as
independent young readers who grasp the basic message of this story,
it thought-provoking, lending to discussion and wisdom at a very early
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the End of My Muddle
Ep Creative Enterprises
readers of all
ages (but especially the young) will find There's
a Light at the End of My Muddle a whimsical invitation to all
verse that encourages both imaginative thinking, read-aloud, and
in the beginning of the collection, is to 'open up new doors' of
creativity for readers of all ages. This sentiment is best expressed in
"Living Life in Pause," which offers a thought-provoking survey of
being overly cautious about life experiences:
"Are you.../living Life in Pause,/tidying up your drawers,/sweeping
these attitudes and how they can influence perception and life
in poems such as "Mrs. Naysayer," who "considers negation her
may require some degree of interpretation for the very young, this is a
collection that excels in being employed by read-aloud parents. This
will find much discussion fodder for interacting with kids about
attitudes and fun encounters in daily and routine experiences, from a
rudely-slurping uncle to an angry tabby cat.
yet whimsical black and white illustrations throughout add interest to
opportunities for engagement with young poetry readers will find this
collection the perfect place for exploring characters, emotions, life
circumstances, and whimsical observations; all couched in a literary
that is delightfully unexpected in its various portraits.
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Summit Street Books
or Treat: The
Story of the Switch Witch and How She Came to Be is
a picture book
that portrays how the witch and warlock children of Transylvania use
31st to haunt the nearby town, and is a whimsical, delightful take on
that read-aloud parents will find fun.
Abigail, the smallest of the
witches, wonders why they
are limited to mortal sweet treats only during Halloween festivities.
they enjoy them year-round?
When Abigail observes the
rare treats are being passed
around by mortal children after the holiday, her wise mother lets her
only on October 31st can the witches and warlocks of their town safely
with mortals, because everyone is in costume and nobody will notice
As Abigail continues to
observe not just sweets but
games, sleepovers, and other pleasures the local children enjoy, she
brilliant idea for the upcoming Halloween celebrations...something that
solve her problem with a different approach to the holiday.
Kids who enjoy stories about
Halloween's rituals will
delight in the clever solution Abigail conjures up to solve her problem
few sweets and too little Halloween time.
The surprise twist will also
delight parents, while the
large-size, colorful illustrations throughout by Noor Alshalabi add a
tone to the story that make it a perfect read-aloud choice for the very
and parents who choose not to associate Halloween with scary stories.
Trick or Treat: The Story of the Switch Witch and How She Came to Be is about problem-solving at its best, and is delightfully original.Trick or Treat
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