September 2023 Review Issue
Mystery & Thrillers
Ferren and the Angel is the first fantasy book in The Ferren Trilogy, following the outcome and adventure of what happens when angel Miriael crashes to Earth during the long battle between Heaven and the Humen. The premise is intriguing: set in the far future when human scientists discovered and proved Heaven and then humanity did what it does best—instigated a war with Heaven itself—the story sports both an original, creative premise and dilemmas which come embedded with sound effects and visceral observations from its opening lines:
fearful noises in the night. Daroom!
Daroom! Daroom!—a deep-down thunder like an endless drum. Then a sharp
splitting sound like the crack of a whip: Kratt! Kratt! Kratt! The
throbbed through the earth and echoed across the sky. There were voices
Eeeeeeeyah! A high-pitched scream passed over from horizon to horizon.
laughter broke out in hoots and whoops. And away in the distance, grave
words of incomprehensible giant speech..."
participation and downfall grounds her in a physical environment that
challenges her status and her perceptions:
"She couldn’t fly,
she couldn’t summon help from
Heaven, she had no power to destroy with a flash of light...Again her
upon the food bag and water bowl…and a strange sensation came over her.
impulse that made her take Heavenly manna into her mouth was a
but this was a need she’d never experienced before. A bodily craving,
and visceral, an actual physical hunger."
comes upon this fallen Angel, but instead of destroying her, his
pity overcome his inclination to be merciless. The hard lessons of his
upbringing fly out the window as he becomes involved in her life and
new truths about the war that has been part of his world since birth.
Harland's approach to entwining the perceptions, lives, and clashes
very different peoples is thoroughly engrossing. From Hypers and
pale threatening ghosts to mechanical actions that happen all by
with no humans at the helm, Ferren's journey introduces him to
that he never saw coming.
angel is wrong about some of her facts? What if his sister Shanna
slave as a result of his ignorance or actions? What if the light that
tribal daughter Zonda and others introduce into the battle assumes more
and opportunity than expected?
“Our Light in the
Darkness!” she cried. “See our Light
in the Darkness!” Everyone hushed and gazed in awe. The lighter flame
much more than illumination; it meant the Ancestors, it meant the Good
and now it meant the powers they’d inherited in themselves."
philosophical, and social struggles with the unusual friendship that
an angel and a human of opposing forces, add sound effects and clashes
challenge their roles and perceptions, and build a firm relationship
shaky foundation of mistrust for a sense of the powerful and disparate
contrasted and profiled in Ferren and the Angel.
unpredictable brand of fantasy is highly recommended for young adult to
readers and for libraries seeking something refreshingly new in the
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Itinere in Occasum
Crimson Dragon Publishing
978-1-944644-07-9 $16.99 Paper/$8.99 ebook
of the series, Nova Roma: De Itinere in Occasum, provides
slant on ancient Rome by delving into the genre of alternative history.
approach lends a creative edge to a subject which, otherwise, has
overdone in fictional circles, positing a situation which changes both
second civil war and the wide-ranging impact it holds on a changed
need not have prior knowledge of ancient Rome, a basic background in
traditional history and some analysis of events will lend to an even
appreciation of the historical accuracy and unusual extrapolations
Gentry has created in a story that moves into a different outcome and
from a single twist in fate.
strength and note is how Gentry weaves actual history with alternative
Also unusually strong is an introduction which sets the stage for even
with light knowledge of the times to appreciate how Gentry introduces
changes based on real events.
example, a Roman Republic in the New World, albeit without Caesar as
Imagine an empire that never falls, a Dark Ages that never happens, and
powerful light that never fails.
These are but a few of the facets of this vastly revised world that are explored in detail in the Nova Roma series, introduced here in De Itinere in Occasum.
with a "you are here" prologue that captures the setting and
"It was a lovely
late winter evening, with the
cool mild air typical of Rome at that time of year. The show in
Pompeium was entertaining; the actors were portraying some event that
place during a trial of an accused murderer several days earlier.
best efforts of the actors and their outrageous antics, Gnaeus Pompeius
commonly known as Pompey Magnus, general of the Roman Army and former
Rome, was not amused. The news from the north was too dire."
Soon this old world and Pompey's place it in will shift as a freak storm blows his ship into unknown territory, where he encounters strange new worlds and resolves to build his own Roman Republic, eventually to defy Caesar, and despite the natives' ideas of what they want their world to look like.
add spice to the tale as Pompey encounters the Novans, punctuated by
interpersonal encounters between Romans and Novans that capture
attempts at understanding:
"Cornelia scowled at Four Bears. “What is this savage thinking, leaving this poor thing all alone with strangers? Look at her—she’s terrified!” Cornelia went to Adsila and knelt beside her. “You will stay with me. Do you understand? I will care for you,” she told the girl, punctuating her remarks with gestures. Impulsively, she hugged the girl.
tentatively. She put a hand on the Roman
woman’s robe, amazed at the fine cloth. For a painful moment Pompey was
reminded of his daughter, left behind in Rome."
facet of the story is an attention to building perceptions and
from different perspectives as Romans and tribes encounter one another:
“You are right,”
Owl continued, “to see an
opportunity. Look at how the Romans work together. They think they came
lands by accident, but I think they must have been sent here by
and we would do well to understand them, their ways, and even their
have we to compare with their ships? We have turkeys and dogs, but they
the great beasts they call horses—have you ever before seen men riding
back of an animal? They think differently than we do, and the Red
soldiers think that we should fight them because of that. But who is to
that we should not instead learn their ways?"
thought-provoking scenes of not just physical clashes, but
social conflicts as the different peoples vie for control of their
futures, and the societies they will build.
particularly adept at contrasting these peoples and their ideals
blend of exciting action and thought-provoking approaches to
that reflects the thinking and methodology of Roman and tribal worlds
histories offer but trappings of possibility based on the melding of
and fantasy. Gentry goes beyond the usual one-dimensional approach to
portraying conflicts and emphasizing differences to reveal the heart of
makes disparate peoples join, survive, and adapt to the realities of
story is also influenced by the author's background, which includes
service and a rural Iowan upbringing, which introduced him to camping
wilderness. Both facets are incorporated into a history that comes
his hand, offering many surprising twists that keep readers thinking.
unusually revealing introduction that covers traditional and
history choices, Gentry creates an intriguing Postscript to his story
further covers the choices he had and made in tailoring the outcome of
result is a
vivid saga that will draw thinking readers through a finely balanced
conflict, psychological tension, and social and political reflection.
Roma: De Itinere in Occasum will be chosen not just for
interested in history and alternative history renditions, but by book
interested in a story that goes beyond the physical trappings of
differences to probe the mindsets and shifts that lead to different
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Quaestu pro Nova Terra
Crimson Dragon Publishing
978-1-944644-39-0 $18.99 Paper/$8.99 ebook
first alternative history story in Nova Roma (De Itinere in
will find this second book follows the new Republic-building challenges
processes more thoroughly, continuing the story set in the foundations
New World with the meeting of minds between the merchant-oriented Roman
and the Native American cultures it encounters in Nova Roma.
steps in the saga play out against a changed geographical setting which
influences how the Romans will enter and conquer the vast lands of the
between the handful of Caesarian loyalists, who followed the emigrants
the Roman Civil War, play out on a larger landscape of ideology and
might as new forces (the Maya) enter the picture. This introduces
challenges and changes to the cultures intent upon building a new
nation in a
the American West thus assumes a cloak of many differences as events
and explorers and natives consider their choices.
"Even the gods
change in time."
and differences between peoples introduces elements of choice and
into the story which are thought-provoking and intriguing:
“You are people of
towns, people of farms, and people
of trade. For many generations you have come west to trade with the
the plains, and we have both grown richer from the trade. We know these
Our people, though, we are not people of towns or farms. We live on the
prairie. We follow the game in summer, and live along the river in
have no reason to join with these Romans. You Tsalee will become
that may be a good thing for you. It will be a good thing for us to
scenes embrace Roman attackers and Novan world-building forces as
Centurions, and other disparate forces struggle to wield and reinforce
visions of what this new world can bring in terms of riches and
particularly adept at using these physical clashes to illustrate the
and changing ideology of different peoples as they play out their
consider which political and social forces to maintain and which are
jettisoning. This sets the entire series well apart from books that
alternative history status, but operate on one-dimension levels of
Nova Roma 2:
Quaestu pro Nova Terra and its
predecessor is clearly a very
different kind of alternate history that demands of its reader a series
thought-provoking revelations about nation-building ideals and how
just clash, but integrate.
readers, and book clubs seeking exciting, fresh, original historical
alternate history insights will find both books powerful standouts from
crowd, highly recommended for their unique blend of creative
extrapolation and real
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The Queen of
David Allen Schlaefer
978-1-953910-81-3 $4.99 ebook
The Queen of Pohjola, the third and final book in the Far Northern Land Saga, is an epic fantasy about wizards, witches, and power struggles set in the semi-mythical world of Iron Age Finland and inspired by Finnish folklore. Familiarity with the prior books (The Mark of the Bear Clan and The Heir of Lemminkäinen) would be optimal for a seamless appreciation of the setting and characters David Allen Schlaefer developed previously, although recaps of both books are included to help newcomers enter this latest adventure.
As Ulla's power continues to grow against all odds and oppressors, she and the famous wizard Väinämöinen embark on a spirit journey to hell itself in search of tools to kill the relentless Witch Löhi. This leads them to Pohjola, Löhi’s dismal realm, as their quest forces them into impossible circumstances and confrontations not only with good and evil forces, but their own hearts.
Schlaefer cultivates a fine blend of psychological depth and action that creates a powerful interplay between nonstop twists and turns that lead the characters to question their choices and outcomes:
have but two
choices: to go back and seek the Marches before winter closes in or to
forward, no matter the risk. When we reach Pohjola—if we reach
improvise. Most likely, we would have done so, in any case.”
No one said a word. The fire crackled. Finally, Ulla broke the silence.
“This time you are wrong, Väinämöinen. There is only one choice. What good is there in returning? Better to die in the wilderness if die we must.”
As trials of mortals, survivors, healing, and spectacles of death confront the journeyers, readers receive an engaging, heartfelt saga that builds on previous books with new action and conundrums and represents a rare instance where the trilogy’s final installment is as compelling as its first.
Schlaefer is at his most powerful when crafting descriptions that embed poetic drama and life into their words:
"The old man could feel the change happening everywhere in the Far Northern Land. It ran through the cold rivers as they rushed down to the lakes and sea. It ran through the forests as green leaves opened beneath the gentle sun. The wind sang a new song, a song the Vanhalaiset prepared for the newcomers. Ulla would sing that song, and little Egan when he came to manhood, but not old Väinämöinen. A new age had come to the North, an age that the Erilaiset could never fully know."
Queen of Pohjola may be considered by
libraries that don't have
the previous books and new readers who haven't read them, it's best
part of the entire trilogy. Fantasy fans will find the ongoing epic
intricately-detailed world building, and Finnish-based mythology to be
compellingly hard to put down. This audience will especially appreciate
special blend of classic mythology and traditional characters with new
characters like Ulla that bring this story to life.
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Climb That Mountain Press
979-8-9852515-7-9 $2.99 EBook/$19.99 Paperback
Sentient Rising is the second book of a trilogy set in 2040
revolving around Bray
Hoffman and her special ability to feel the pain of animals. She's
of her life in institutions and her friends Alice and Elliott are gone,
her entirely alone. Or, is she?
is an sanctuary run by Ethan, who escaped FBI arrest and is maintaining
environment in which six activists have been hiding for the past twenty
until Bray and Lana come into the picture.
teacher Emily also finds a home in this place populated by animal
activists, and as a group forms, Emily, Kage and Bray are caught up in
evolving plan and conflict that will once again change their worlds.
formulating these new connections and revised responses to adversity
Bray to overcome her grief and losses and realize new support systems
strategies for regaining her strength: "Bray was tired, wired
moved by what she was about to do. She needed meditation, and she
needed to get
how to receive more support as Elliott's return mitigates her ongoing
not being the greatest kind of friend to him. Bray's revised
Elliott embrace events of the past (when Alice died and Bray saved the
and set the stage for moving forward into a revised relationship as
latest encounters with Kage and his animal rights activists influences
and perspectives alike.
also wants to dismantle the corporation, and has risked his job at the
slaughterhouse and his life to support Bray's cause. His practical
into Bray's special talents as an animal empath and add to the group's
disparate makeup as their diverse interests and talents clash with
beyond their control.
to the Kill Floor and his participation in the struggle that leads to
disappearance are emphasized in changing viewpoints that move chapters
Bertan, Bray, average citizens, and those who would build a formidable
resistance against all odds.
VanLandingham builds on the prior book Sentient in
a manner that will
prove especially inviting to fans of that story, but provides enough
about Bray and her companions that newcomers won't be lost.
dystopian settings that come with social conflict and interactions that
to step up into new roles and realizations will find Sentient
only a powerful adjunct to the events of the first book, but a notable
contribution to dystopian literature which bring Bray full circle into
connections she's never realized before.
readers seeking dystopian teen fiction powered by a blend of discovery
bigger-picture thinking will find Sentient Rising
"Far worse things
had happened to her, things
that brought her beyond death to places her mother knew nothing of.
made her who she was."
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She Writes Press
978-1-64742-555-5 $17.95 Paper/$8.99 ebook
A Greek Tale of Love, Revenge, and Redemption is a novel of
mythological extrapolation that focuses on Circe,
daughter of the sun-god Helios. She sees one love depart from
her life, only to cultivate new relationships that travel in a
Heeding her mother's
encouragement to journey to Delos,
Circe finds there not only new
adventures and encounters, but attractions that eventually cast her in
of savior over lover. This forces her to step out of her lovelorn life
experiences and into a position that tests her knowledge not only of
loves, but the choices she makes by loving them.
Immortal Circe has a lot to
learn about a subject she
thinks represents all of her strengths, and readers walk (and swim)
her as she enters situations that continually test her abilities,
and perceptions of her role in the world.
paints a compelling portrait of a mythological goddess who sets out to
others in matters of love and power, but who finds her course
own perceptions of both as she tracks life beyond her island home and
methods of enchanting and confronting all kinds of forces.
relationships with her parents, who are attempting to forge new
growing increasingly distant and at odds with one another, and her
with rebuilding broken connections and exposing lies, Circe's many
an immortal goddess are exposed with a delicate eye to interweaving
extrapolations. These both personalize Circe's nature and make her
exploits, and influences understandable to those who may only distantly
her from their mythological studies of years past.
an unexpectedly vivid, moving story of clashes between titans and the
forces around them. This lends a flavor of epic fantasy adventure to
that will draw audiences from mythology, fantasy, and fiction genres
Libraries and readers
seeking evocative, compelling stories about new alliances and power
builds on Greek myth and psychological insights to create a story that
thought-provoking and thoroughly engrossing on many different levels.
Suitable for book club
discussion in not just fantasy
circles but women's fiction audiences, An
Unexpected Ally is a top recommendation for its equally
that will prove just as powerful as any scrying mirror Circe could
sequel, Perse, will be coming out
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represents sci-fi thriller writing in its most vivid incarnation, and
is set on
a South Sea island where genetic engineering has produced a marvel
it's not the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, but goes one step beyond).
Truong is on the island to pursue her dreams, but a nightmare evolves
when she stumbles onto an experiment involving creating organisms from
genetic code of a different, alien species.
Holly's avian research flies
in a different direction
upon her discovery of a form of biology she'd never dreamed would be
into a real threat. She and fellow researcher David step out of their
and into a milieu of deadly experiments and equally threatening danger
impossible series of truths come to light.
People are being killed to
keep this secret. Holly and
David, despite their scientific prowess, are not immune to the lure of
discoveries, or to the consequences of learning too much information
history and present-day opportunities to manipulate genetic species
ken of humanity.
Vivek Pravat embeds his
story with plenty of tension,
surprises, shifting revelations, and encounters that keep Holly on her
scientifically and professionally as she struggles to both survive and
understand what is going on.
getting off this ride, whether you like it or not."
While this is made as a
personal threat to her, it
applies equally to humanity's fate, which hangs in the balance of
most people don't even know are being made.
Pravat's ability to blend
scientific inquiry and
discoveries with speculative sci-fi scenarios and all the tension and
developments of a thriller makes for a story every bit as well-written
compelling as any Michael Crichton could have done. The thriller
well-developed as the story shifts through endgames and strategies. The
embracing the xeno organisms is very well written, logical, and
With its many tense
confrontations, its unexpected
realizations, and its strong characterization as circumstances demand
Holly step away from her specialty's narrow focus to embrace
thinking, Xenome is quite simply a
supercharged, jaw-dropping adventure. It will keep its readers
engrossed up to an unexpected conclusion which challenges any
vision of alien first contact.
Libraries and readers
looking for biotech thrillers and
alien stories that hold a delightful twist and many thought-provoking
of action and reaction will find Xenome
a worthy pursuit.
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Garden Oak Press
Beautiful Son is a tribute collection of
poems about and dedicated
to Ken Buhr's 42-year-old son Gabe, written during the year when Gabe
seriously ill with cancer and died.
helplessness, grief, and struggle mingles with the admiration and
Buhr feels towards his son and puts to paper, creating this tribute.
in the collection, the fits and starts of medical dilemma are
juxtaposed with questions
and anguish that bring son and father's experiences to life:
"This train we’re on moves fast—
passing signs cannot be read.
We suffer flashes of who are we?
where are we? who is with us?
how far might we have to go?"
writing (and reading) this kind of tribute, with its raw pain and
is that it serves as a touch point for others who are on the same
"Death in prime years
From others’ lives
and from their words.
we can derive guiding strength
an anchor for the heart."
the heart' unfolds, readers who are survivors (as well as those in the
of a battle with cancer) receive enlightening, surprisingly hope and
thought-provoking chronicles of the chaos and possibilities in a
manages to celebrate and acknowledge beauty even after life ends:
"The world goes on . . . without you,
My world now—dismal—
thrashing without purpose,
floundering in murk.
Or do I stand with you on a summit
amid vistas clear and far?
Wherever you breathed and worked
you brought vision.
You were responsible . . . and beautiful,
not possible to understate how beautiful!"
seeking memorable, literary accounts of a year of cancer struggle and
aftermath of survival will find Beautiful
Son a wrenchingly enlightening tribute.
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Canticle to Holy,
Blessed Solipsism: A Selection of Poems is a selection of
poems chosen by
CJS Hayward from his "Best Works" series. It will particularly appeal
to spiritual-minded thinkers who appreciate reflections centered on
"embracing heaven and earth."
This gathering of forces
invites a form of spiritual
inspection that reflects a quest for God and connections to religious
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
The Triune Pattern after which each man is made,
And I reverence each man as God after God:
To do less is to fail to grasp the One God, Who transcends
His Own Transcendence..."
the fallacies and possibilities of spiritual thinking, and will prove
thought-provoking and controversial in many of its contentions and
"the poisoning of our spiritual diet
has moved us
from knowing the mind as the heart that meets God
to growing and over-growing that which reasons,
so that it is at the heart of our lives,
in Christians as much as the atheist..."
understanding how frustration leads to spiritual revelation to
that assume the perspective of God in interpreting spiritual roots and
Hayward's diverse canticles and free-spirited poems offer the rare
to delve into the intersection of God and humanity to better understand
processes, paths, and promises of both.
spiritual thinkers interested in literary expressions of the search for
understanding, and the greater gifts of God will find A Canticle to Holy, Blessed
the soul and should be elevated to greater reflective discussion in
and spiritual literary circles. Its inclusion as a mainstay in a
thinker's library would be appropriate and important.
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Antrim House Books
features sixty poems of a "queer love story" that takes place through
a series of 'acts,' as if in a play. It evolves its probe of love
during, and after the event with an astute eye to both poetic
insights and feelings about same-sex love.
Readers might expect these
descriptions to be graphic or
limited to understanding by LGBTQ+ audiences alone, but one of Dancehall's main attractions lies in its
ability to reach a universal audience no matter their gender or sexual
Like any good poet, Tim
Stobierski's words, experiences,
and choices reflect many universal feelings and themes that all
appreciate, as in 'If this is it':
this is it
rest your head upon my chest
one last time,
and I will run my fingers
through the soft hairs
at the nape of your neck."
The dancehall of life and
love—and the moves lovers bring
to the table, sample, lose, and grow from—create poetry which moves on
and psychological levels alike.
From the recipe for falling
in love to powerfully
atmospheric accounts of passion and place ("Night,
and olive-black./Our bedroom fan sits idle,/its steady whir
replaced/by the cat’s lowercase snore./Occasionally, the house
old man stretching his legs."), the incarnation of love in Dancehall is like any fine wine:
complex, rich, nicely aged, and widely appealing.
Libraries seeking LGBTQ+
literature in general and poetry
in particular will find Dancehall a
compelling read both for its prowess in evocative emotional and
descriptions and for its celebration of love.
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the World's Understanding
Rattling Good Yarns Press
978-1-955826-36-5 $15.95 Paper/$6.99 ebook
an exceptionally intriguing and creative title, Goes On,
Without the World's
Understanding draws the reader in with a powerful collection
stories that probe humanity and experience of LGBTQ+ characters,
men. Each encourages understanding and deeper thinking.
thing that can be said about this collection as a precursor to
"expect the unexpected."
story, 'Thoughts,' for example. Here, profound and pointed observations
a "you are here" feel of a chaotic ambulance rescue attempt
juxtaposed with underlying observations of a family's poverty and angst:
"You race to the door, then help push old, faded furniture out of the way so the ambulance people can get a stretcher inside the small living room that announces your family’s poverty. A slender, dainty glass flower holder with three snow-white daisies—your mother’s attempt towards beauty, a touch of pride—is knocked over on the cheap forest-green carpet, always rough and wiry under your bare feet.
Jetting! Kind of like come when you
Why am I thinking that?
You are shouting, directing them down a thin, tight hallway wallpapered with something that may have once been pretty, even delicate, if one took time to really look."
reality of the narrator, who presents the police with the version of
happened to his parents, creates a staccato of contrasting thoughts and
realities that concludes with a twisting surprise to keep readers not
engaged, but reflecting.
with the first-person bark and bite of 'Obituaries,' where the narrator
of a childhood bully's death as an adult and experiences raw memories
violence and confrontations that marked his coming of age:
"Besides hitting me
with solid striking blows up
against my head, slapping me angrily and repeatedly across my face,
up against brick walls, choking me, and spitting on me while
mocking me as “sissy,” “faggot,” and “queer,” he once punched me in the
with his full-force fist. I nearly vomited on the spot in the boys’
room, where both he and I were naked. No, his dick was not some tiny
was it a huge wonder. It was average; in fact, pretty much the exact
as mine. I don’t know why, but in my teenage closeted homo mind this
whole experience all the more shaming."
vignette, the lives, fears, and confrontations of gay male youth and
(and in the story 'Today's Agenda,' a Black lesbian) come to light and
a manner that few other writings achieve. The end result of sending
experience into the wider world beyond LGBTQ readers is to impart a
experience, understanding, and realizations that invite dialogue and
the part of the observer/reader.
experiences of 'The Boy in the Audience,' exploring the perceptions of
school boy who has snuck into a theater to see "The Boys in the Band"
as part of his self-education on homosexuality, to the explorations in
Sissy in Sin City,' which presents an encounter between a
an older gay man, the reflections arrive with a voice of experience and
that encourages conversation and thought:
“Playing the odds
in a manner of speaking. It’s still
a matter of luck and chance. It always is,” Mr. Sissy emphasized. He
curiously serious, wanting to ensure the young man grasped the
“Always remember that whatever the game you play or how much you bet.
play smart and strategic with a recognition of the odds. But,
always, always, comes down to luck and chance.”
Westerfield's journeys through shame, healing, and understanding create
powerful set of observations in Goes On, Without the World's
These ideally will not only be chosen by libraries interested in
literary short stories that capture the LGBTQ+ experience, but by book
interested in contemporary works that reveal the underlying culture,
motivations, and experiences of this community.
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Possibilities offers a mix of
short stories that vary widely in theme and impact,
contrasting encounters with fear and darkness with the sense of hope,
and healing that can evolve from adversity.
The title story, 'Missing Possibilities', tells of teen Emma's search for a missing friend she's known since birth. Their families are so close that they are quasi-relatives, and so Emma notices many alarming indicators, early on, that all is not well with Jeremy. Little things like "The happiness leaking from his smile. The snide remarks masquerading as humor from her auntie. The booze on her uncle’s breath."
frail bit of solace his home provides will all fall apart"
learns truths even she didn't know about Jeremy's world, his flight
make more sense.
for answers leads to this promising honor student's own flight, Jaime
paints an engrossing portrait of interconnected worlds that come apart,
including an alternate ending for an incomplete journey that offers no
predictable or firm resolution.
tale with the very different perspective and tone of 'Lazarus Wept.'
of the first person lends an inspective approach to life that embraces
spiritual component to its observations:
"I know the place
where everything flows into
one...In that place, that beautiful, wide open place, we recognized in
other our common bond, our shared connection. The place is teaming with
divergent, interwoven souls."
rendition of the Lazarus legend unfolds, readers familiar with Biblical
narrative and interpretations will find both startling and rich the
Balboa lends to the circumstances surrounding Lazarus:
"I was brought
back. Sand in my teeth, crick in
my neck, I was back. Blistered skin, stench in my nose, and hunger in
stomach, I was back. My heart sank deep into my chest, burdened with a
despair. What could be worth this price? He was my friend, and I was
follower. But grit in my eyes and gnat in my ear, I was back, I was
back, I was
collection is a treasure box of surprises that holds a single unified
of thematic impact: connections.
readers seeking literary short stories that excel in diversity, scope,
subject will find the unpredictable, creative voice of Jaime Balboa in Missing
Possibilities a force to be not only reckoned with, but
included in lending collections and book club circles.
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Green Writers Press
Odes to the
Ordinary: Poems is a tribute to
everyday life and the wonder of ordinary living. It
cultivates an atmosphere of appreciation and observation that reveals
truths in ordinary wonder and the fallacies that lie in expectations of
with Paradise' offers one outline of the issues involved in
an exceptional world will unfold from a change of place:
"From Key Largo, we
drive down the great white
spine/of the Overseas Highway, the ocean a gelatinous expanse/of
improbable to be real, lucid and orderly/as an in-ground swimming
the pelicans seem/disappointed, their long faces exhausted/by so many
landings as they fumble through the air/with the disastrous flair/of
descriptions promote a newfound appreciation for the ordinary, a more
response to the life around us, and the underlying beauty of the most
of life experiences and events. Black and white watercolor art peppered
throughout further enhances the detail and nature of these works.
Emily Benson-Scott's free
verse is especially adept at
juxtaposing the personal with environmental influences, as in 'Writer's
be a backyard in winter, buried beneath blankets of/forgetful white, a
full of frozen/potential, shrubs saddened beneath the burden of snow,
forgetting/the latent inspiration of spring./You could always just give
.../but the neighbor’s field, gone to seed will always haunt, with
stalks of corn—shadows/of ideas both rotting and remaining,
with their presence..."
Whether describing images
from history in 'After Pompeii'
or reflecting on strong women in pieces such as 'Ode
to a Topless Woman in France,' these poems assume the form of
celebrations of nature, travel, and small moments of observational
that translate to bigger insights on relationships between self and the
to the Ordinary: Poems will prove
especially delightful for creative writing classes
considering the ode format, and is highly recommended for literary
and readers of modern poems who would better understand and appreciate
incarnations of ordinary life via poetic reflections.
Return to Index
Sonnets of Love
The art of
sonnets has largely been a favored effort of yesteryear, replaced by
undemanding free verse format which appears in so many variations that
barely an art involved in poetry writing, any longer.
Paul Buchheit returns
that art to modern times and demonstrates its contemporary prowess in Sonnets of Love and Joy, a collection that
is a welcome uplift for these troubled times, when the effort to
and love is too often replaced by angst and a sense of doom.
respite from the modern crisis that provides existential relief and a
well-being. Here, too, is relief from the less seasoned free verse
returning stricter rules to the poetic effort while demonstrating that
remain accessible to contemporary audiences.
a bow to
historic expressions of love, Buchheit captures these flavors and
written expression and artistic color images throughout which
heights (and sometimes plumbs the depths) of the human experience.
can one not
be uplifted by the evocative visuals in the sonnet 'Exquisiteness', for
example: "The earthen scent of dewy spruce at dawn/unmasks
hours of night. A burst/of citrus misty sun arrives to spawn/the
greenery, and soon the first/of purple, pink, and milky spangles
the golden haze. A harmony/seduces me..."
and understanding in joy, love, and friendships permeate many of the
adding a depth of inspection that reaches out much as some of the
to the loved one for response and understanding. Such is 'To a Friend
Dear': "Abandoned not am I in bully
winds/that slap in broken rhythms at my face;/nor cast to sea, where
origins/of primal darkness gather to embrace/departing souls; nor muted
forlorn/upon the spinning bluish desert heat."
emotion) oriented as these works may be, each poem contains a grounding
landscape and a heart throb of emotional connection that inspects the
facets and incarnations of love and joy in the world.
sonnet has strict rules for its form: "14 lines that are typically 5-foot
according to a prescribed scheme."
challenge is created by both adhering to these rules and adopting a
contemporary flavor accessible to a wider audience than those with
Sonnets of Love and
Joy's diverse, spirited life
connections reach out to readers to capture
and describe moments of harmony, awakening, and interconnectedness with
Libraries interested in contemporary poetry that exhibits the poetic form and rigors of wordsmiths of the past while remaining true to the modern worlds of schoolyards, family, friends, and moments of connection to life will find Sonnets of Love and Joy the perfect example of how poetry's forms and rules remain relevant to modern living.Sonnets of Love and Joy
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Fix My Face
Carolyn V. Hamilton
Swift House Press
My Face: My World-class
Cosmetic Surgery in Safe, Affordable Ecuador follows Carolyn V. Hamilton's investigation and
undertaking of cosmetic
surgery in Ecuador after she moved to that country from Seattle.
It's as much a commentary
about the medical system and
processes in Ecuador as it is about her surgical experience and the
discoveries that came from her encounters with Cuenca’s
medical services, and offers a contrast with U.S. systems
which is both eye-opening and important.
Hamilton cultivates an investigative tone that brings readers into
world, revealing a culture and medical system that reviews quite
comparison with modern American medicine. Imagine a world in which
personally follow up and make impromptu house calls! In America, this
regulated to bygone years. In modern times, it's still alive and
as a commonplace occurrence in Ecuador.
especially interested in overseas cosmetic surgery who will gain the
this book. Hamilton provides wealth of practical information, from how
assess foreign systems and operations to costs, procedures, and
navigating the alien
affordable world of 'medical tourism.'
the journey, Hamilton is in the perfect position to speak not from
but personal experience. In addition, she gathers the insights of
others to add
to the mix of considerations and analysis.
physicians also supplement her story, providing further advice on
doctor/patient interactions that will prove more fruitful than many in
"Dr. Anthony recommends at least three
consultations for international
patients: a combination of telephone, video, and in-person sessions and
holistic medical exams. He says, 'This allows our team to build a
of trust with the patient, and make certain that patients are 100
we can meet their expectations.'”
Between the personal
decisions she made to foster healing
and support her surgery to the outcome of navigating Ecuador's medical
Hamilton provides a practical, inviting account that will attract
interested in both cosmetic surgery and overseas medical system savvy.
Libraries and readers
interested in not just research on
such systems, but personal experience filled with lively encounters and
practical tips for cosmetic surgery undertaking and optimum healing
will find Fix My Face a practical
guide as well as
an engrossing personal saga.
Return to Index
Melissa M. Monroe
979-8987152805 $17.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Mom's Search for
Meaning: Grief and Growth After Child
Loss captures the heady grief
PTSD that follows a 2-year-old daughter who dies in her sleep of
causes. In contrast to many of the memoirs about child death and
tackles the challenge of overcoming a grief loop through methods of
acknowledging, celebrating, and capturing a child's short life,
memories with the special salve of healing and recovery.
weeks after her child's death play out with a steady determination to
healing process that was anything but predictable. That Melissa M.
notes during this process that translate here to a blueprint others can
to better understand their own psychic turmoil is testimony not to a
fits all' approach, but to a process that assumes different forms in
efforts towards life.
reflections are vivid: "I released the crib that day. I
notion that my child's death date should follow mine. I released more
than I thought was possible. Loss upon loss led me to collapse into the
so many of my beautiful friends and family, and for once, I didn't feel
about it. I knew it was all I could manage."
she considers is: "...how am I supposed to live as long as
lived, feeling like I do now?" As she reflects on her own
reasons for forging on, readers will find her candid, raw reflections
comforting, and challenging all at once.
"With child loss,
you are never the same."
healing and reclaiming life after a child's death receives vivid and
exploration here that will serve as a trigger to those in similar
as well as a promise that things can eventually change for the better.
readers will find this memoir, more than others, opens floodgates of
responses and discussion points that ideally will attract book clubs,
groups, and psychology participants in a dialogue about motherhood,
validation and support systems, and, most of all, that "thing with
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ASIN: B0C9BJR9Y4 $7.95 ebook
Parish the Thought Too: The Lost & Untold
Stories continues the
coming-of-age tales begun in John Ruane's memoir Parish
the Thought. It follows his life in Chicago in the 1960s and
the pivot points that affected not only his growth, but his community
neighborhood as a whole.
even a tornado that struck the city to the ice cream truck's
attraction, high school dances, and cultivating friendships, Ruane's
carries readers through sports, family interactions, and the flavor and
years which are gone, but not forgotten thanks to this memoir's
"I had promised my dad I would be safe, so I made
sure that as I
crawled onto and across the snow- and ice-filled roof with a
wind whipping against me, I did it very safely. Then, this brilliant
ten-year-old stood and walked to the edge of the roof, looking down at
beautiful drift. Wow, I thought. I’ll bet every kid in the neighborhood
love to be in my position, standing on the edge of their snow-covered
ready to jump forty feet down into the snow."
The "you are
feel can't be beat. Ruane carries readers into the sights, smells, and
of the times, neatly recreating an atmosphere where athletics took
and brought together families and players in a team effort.
experiences in Chicago come to life in a play-by-play series of
are supplemented by black and white photos.
skills in high school and translating them to college-bound efforts to
that tapped sports experiences, Ruane's story melds the personal with
bigger-picture thinking about career, life, and managing new encounters
different aspects of life:
"The pretty wild child took my hand and walked me
out on the
floor… She was energetic and a very good dancer. I really didn’t belong
same floor with her. She had dance moves which probably would have
“R” rating back then. The adult chaperones started to send concerned
new to Ruane's story as well as fans of his prior book will find Parish the Thought Too: The Lost &
Untold Stories an excellent slice-of-life memoir that brings
the 1960s and
student sports efforts to vivid life.
Return to Index
Mission Point Press
Paperback: $15.99/ Hardcover: $24.95 /E-Book: $9.99
line in a country song that
goes, 'Chase after the dream, don’t chase after the money.'
Well, I’m here to tell you that’s wrong.
Fuck the dream.
Chase the money.
Always chase the money."
salvo of the thriller Chasing Money
portends a powerfully
compelling read with a murder
scenario that evolves from an investment pitch made by entrepreneurs
and Bo. This event draws them into an investigation that holds
prospects for their future, leading them away from the path they've
cultivating for years (identifying and tapping the resources of "someone kind, generous, greedy, or
stupid to fund your ambition to become rich.").
capital has always been a
"soul-destroying" venture, but now it's become a challenge to life
itself as Marty and Bo find themselves kidnapped, tied up, and facing
possible end of their efforts and days.
Balter writes with a hand
heavy in descriptive
tension, which brings the events to life from the story's opening
Christ,' Nico cried for the
third time after the fat guy finished taping him to the chair. In
Nico, the guy holding the Beretta barked back, in a thick Irish brogue,
it!' and then, 'One more word and this baby goes off in the mouth that
He shook the 9mm in case we didn’t understand what “this baby”
took a giant step back as he spoke, moving past what I guessed he
was the periphery of any potential blood spatter. I couldn’t take my
him or the gun."
circumstances come with a
history that unfolds
in a compelling manner as readers learn about the Russian mob which
Bo and Marty, leading them into unfamiliar minefields where a wrong
detonate their lives and loved ones.
for venture capitalists
has brought them to
this point, but Bo and Marty are well-versed in both landing in trouble
getting out of it. They will need all their cleverness to escape from
killer and navigate the dangerous environment where life and death
must be made almost daily.
look for well-developed
tension and characters
whose lives sparkle with realistic and unpredictable twists will find
qualities in droves in Chasing Money;
but perhaps its greatest asset comes from the tone of the first-person
experiences and shifting viewpoint.
threats and their origins, and wry sense of humor that permeate many
contribute to a countdown to disaster. Marty and Bo search for $10
a missing masterpiece, navigating a financial and political
draws them into increasingly dangerous, unfamiliar associations.
and readers looking for
absorbing thrillers that
are delivered from the main character's perspective to embrace thoughts
his choices and ideas of the world and his place in it will find Chasing Money exceptionally clever and
compelling in its financial and crime world developments.
that often choose thrillers
will find that Chasing Money stands
out from the crowd
largely due to its compelling narrator's personality, the historical
that surrounds missing masterpiece paintings of World War II, and an
investigator's foray into deadly Russian affairs.
make a deal with the devil?
follows the bucks into a world of hurt, possibilities, and
how money can make or break lives—whether legally or illegally gained.
Return to Index
Martin Roy Hill
32-32 North, Publisher
979-8-218-182496 $3.99 ebook
Codename: Parsifal is a World War II
thriller that operates on the
stage of religious destiny and historical events. It revolves around
legendary Spear of Destiny, the Roman Legionnaire’s lance that pierced
body as he hung on the cross. The holder of this spear is said to be
become a great conqueror. But lose it, and all achievements and life
II, Hitler stole that spear. Just before his defeat, he lost it. Its
and power is such that three competing teams struggle to unearth it and
its powers, but before they achieve their goals, the world will change
employs a fine blend of military clashes and ideological challenges in
story, injecting revealing emotional facets into real-life characters
heighten the sense of both intrigue and discovery:
"All his life, Himmler felt inadequate. His size,
his looks, his
poor eyesight, his lack of experience with women. And despite having
in the German Army during the last war, he remained in a reserve unit
never saw action, unlike the Führer, or Göring, or even that scar-faced
sybarite Ernst Röhm, head of the Brown Shirts. But now he sensed a
confidence. He was the new
man of destiny —he
felt that now in his heart, felt it in his veins where the blood of
flowed with his own. His destiny was now foretold, and he knew he would
among the other greats who held the spear—Constantine, Charlemagne, and
retrieving this legendary spear is also made more compellingly
realistic by the
real history that is presented alongside the thriller components and
"Himmler frowned. “One would think a senior SS
officer would at
least be familiar with the Führer’s favorite Wagner opera.”
“My apologies, Reichsführer,” Steiner said. “I am afraid I’m not musically inclined. Which opera is that?”
“Parsifal,” Himmler said. “It is the telling of the Spear of Destiny legend.” He took the display box from Steiner’s hand and studied it. “It is said whoever holds the spear holds his own destiny in his hands,” he said. “The destiny of a great conqueror. But if he loses the spear …” He let the box drop onto his desk. “He loses all he once won.”
back-and-forth movements and potential of the elusive and powerful
spear to SS
interactions and military operations, the thriller component is
embedded in a fluctuating story of evil, the occult, and true believers.
their thrillers steeped in the overlay of real World War II events will
the intersection of fiction and nonfiction to be compelling components
story of fiery confrontations, changing battles, and ideologies that
powerful new alliances and perceptions.
adept at capturing the cultural clashes between Germans, Russians, and
who find not only their lives, but their political alliances on the
is a gripping
story that is vivid in its presentation, fast-paced in its action,
to predict, and hard to put down.
seeking military intrigue and thriller encounters that are supercharged
action and satisfying twists and turns will find Codename:
Parsifal just the ticket for those seeking a thoroughly
read. (Note: no prior World War II history is required in order to
heart-stopping, action-packed story.)
Return to Index
The Deadly Deal
Moonshine Cove Publishing
9781952439582 $19.00 paperback/$6.99 Kindle
Author Website: www.jleethrillers.com
Some people will do anything
to benefit from innovation.
is a thriller that builds tension over a wonder drug's development;
Business Development David Centrelli, who is charged with seeing the
to profitable distribution; and the conflicts between a devout man to
"efficiency is a religion" and one whose mission is derailed by the
sudden death of his best friend.
Perhaps predictably, the new
possibilities for changing the world and making its developers rich
relief results in the kind of crime that too often is not fully
front-page headlines. The behind-the-scenes action that takes place
readers into another world as David makes threats, enters increasingly
territory replete with moral and ethical conundrums, and finds himself
struggling with hard evidence and impossible truths along the way.
Readers who look for medical
thrillers will find far more
intrigue and cat-and-mouse developments in this story, which is really
the fortunes and greed of industries and individuals, and the kinds of
that send David and Anne on the run, facing charges of wrongdoing that
Where most medical thrillers
focus on the medical milieu,
David moves through different territory as he finds himself on the lam
own government and wondering about his place in the world.
Some people will do anything
to benefit from innovation.
They would even kill for the opportunity David is presented with and
struggling to grasp.
evolves superb characterization, satisfying twists of plot, and a focus
will keep even seasoned thriller readers guessing about its outcome.
perps aren't obvious or just among David's circles, but reach into the
levels of government.
Libraries looking for
suspenseful stories that are
well-written and packed with intrigue and action will find The Deadly Deal just the ticket for
reaching a wider audience than
the usual thriller.
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Fans of LGBTQ+ backgrounds and mysteries as well as prior readers of David E. Feldman's previous five Dora Ellison stories will find A Divisive Storm both a powerful series addition and a stand-alone attention-grabber for newcomers.
sidekick Missy Winters, of Geller Investigations, have a new case
seemingly random murder in a parking lot. As Dora and Missy
spark not only another killing, but evidence that these murders are
an unsolved crime that took place five years earlier.
between the victims is actually a situation that involves Dora and
Missy in a
racist club's deadly operations, bringing up questions of moral and
behaviors, justice and vigilante efforts, and Dora and Missy's own
identify and stop the murderers.
does more than craft another whodunit. He introduces elements of social
inspection, presenting the scenario and killer with an exceptional
prologue that draws the reader instantly into a killer's mind:
"And there he was.
I knew where he’d be. I knew
of several places he would be and times he would be at those places. I
the information. All I had to do was wait for the right opportunity. An
parking lot or a busy street. Either might do, if they were right. I’d
had lived for this."
is a big
reason for the killer's particular modus operandi. That, and justice.
satisfaction that comes from killing also enters the bigger picture to
personal vendetta with the red-hot colors of not just senseless crime,
cold purpose that saturates the story with blood and contrasting belief
from the start.
ability to juxtapose the killer's ideals and motives with the equally
determined force of those who hold a different interpretation of
provides just the right balance of gritty moral inspection and intrigue
murder mystery readers on edge and guessing.
characters are strong, not just the investigators. This lends an aura
believability to the plot that not only engages the mind, but
hearts of readers who expected a casual murder scenario, only to find
themselves rethinking their own ideals of law and justice.
aspects of these engagements emerge from a variety of characters and
with dialogue reinforcing the stands and choices people take and make
“… you want her to
fit in, to be normal. It’s what I
would want. And yet—”
“And yet, what?” C3’s voice was low with growing fury.
“I’ve just gotta say, son. She,” he shrugged, “looks like a retarded kid.” He held out a palm. “There’s things you can do about that. Why wouldn’t you cover all your bases?”
C3’s answer came out as a snarl. “Because your granddaughter isn’t a base. And she’s not a retarded kid.”
one thing can
be said about A Divisive Storm, it's "expect the
There is nothing singular about its plot, nothing predictable about the
outcomes, and little set in stone along the way.
Feldman's ability to craft a hard-boiled noir atmosphere in Dora's world, supercharged with further elements of personal and social inspection, creates a story highly recommended not just for libraries and readers seeking compelling mysteries, but book clubs looking for genre reads that provoke discussions and debates about larger moral and social issues.A Divisive Storm
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The Wild Rose Press
978-1-5092-4978-7 Paperback $18.99/E-book $3.99
When solving a present-day
mystery involves delving into
one's own past and traumas, investigators can face challenges not only
professional pursuits, but their personal lives. Such is the case in Parallel Secrets, when a kidnapped child
introduces eerie specters of past experience for a TV journalist who
herself too close to the case for comfort.
Can there be opportunity for
growth in reporting a
kidnapping? Vicky Robeson thinks so. The story opens with this
it evolves surprising pathways to realization and redemption as Vicky
the clues that lead her ever deeper into facing an old conundrum she
The impact of such an
investigation spreads from its
point of origin to those around Vicky—in this case, Pete, who has
kind of supportive friend who proves understanding even in the worst of
situations. But, everyone has their limits. Will Pete continue his
for staying alongside Vicky as she tries to discover what happened to
child Rose Wildwood?
Rose actually holds one of
the leading roles in this
mystery, and the story opens with a child at play who is captured from
circle of her Aunt Sara's home by a stranger who has stalked her and
Vicky hears the report of a
kidnapped child from Walkers
Corner, Missouri—a place she never wanted to see again, which has long
her nightmares. Her personal motivation for following up on this news
clear: "She might not be able to
undo the past, but this time she would do everything she could to help
Redemption is a funny thing.
It often arrives in the
guise of promise, evolves into complex confrontations that introduce
and challenge, and complete with resolutions that are unexpected. In
case, her personal past struggle combines with a present-day mystery to
re-introduce her to choices and consequences she'd long delegated to
As ML Barrs unfolds a
gripping saga of investigation and
personal realizations, the story presents not one pursuit, but a series
angles that involves returning to a familiar place to confront not just
demons of what was left undone, but those who were left behind:
you ever catch
yourself in a mirror when you aren’t expecting to? When I look back at
left here, it’s like I saw myself from a different angle, and it wasn’t
Vicky's journey of recovery
and self-discovery embraces
Vicky's journalistic drive to write a compelling story with a clear
her equally powerful personal motivation to lay her past to rest.
Barrs crafts psychological
insights that take place both
within Vicky and in those who swirl around her, whether they are
from her past or loved ones who support and struggle with her
These strong characters and
their own special interests
dovetail nicely in a vivid story that pursues the truth and matters of
heart with equal strength and many satisfying twists and turns.
Libraries and readers
seeking mysteries that represent
more than a whodunit, but embrace the challenge of returning to a
milieu and dilemma to face old patterns and new perceptions will find Parallel Secrets a compelling, solid
study in not just intrigue, but psychological transformations that
determined probe into family and self. The story is not only hard to
but thought-provoking beyond its investigative elements.
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Judith W. Richards
978-0-9845410-8-9 $14.99 Print/ $11.99 E-book
will delight historical novel readers interested in European tales. Set
Netherlands in 1572, it follows various members of the Van der Voort family as they struggle against
political and social
strife, taking risks that pit them against the Spanish rulers of their
from the start, "The story is
fictional but the history is true." A timeline of events,
maps, and an
opening introduction to this era assures that those unfamiliar with the
politics and events of the times will not be lost.
Judith W. Richards
acknowledges that she's taken some
liberties with language and history for the sake of succinct
that this might annoy Netherlanders fixated on historical accuracy in
representation and language; but these adjustments result in a
story that is inviting and rich in its action and details.
The tale opens with a sea
venture that represents the
first salvo in the van der Voort's battle against Spanish oppressors: "Dutch sea captain Maarten van der Voort
stood on the deck of his merchant ship, the Dirck,
and watched his men, looking ghostlike in the dense fog,
go over the side and into the waiting longboat. It was a cold March
three in the morning, yet sweat beaded on his brow, for he knew he was
calculated risk with their lives. They were going to attack a Spanish
before it attacked them."
A vivid "you are here" feel
brings the times to
life, whether events take place on land or sea. As the efforts of the
Beggers wind into the special interests of a broad audience of
the story traverses social and political perspectives on different
There is no clear guiding
light to battles for change,
and so the competing visions and experiences of a variety of characters
an especially realistic tone as events unfold. Whether describing the
plundering of monasteries or the expansion of maps that place Amsterdam
perspective with the rest of the 1500s world, Richards employs an
descriptive voice to bring these times and families to life.
This contrast between the
microcosm of local society and
the greater picture of the world is vivid as the characters grow and
their own boundaries:
Catrijn commented. “Where’s the land and sea?”
“It’s a celestial globe, not a terrestrial globe.”
“Hmm.” Not sure what he meant, Catrijn examined its surface.
“They’re constellations!” she declared, delighted by her discovery and realization that the globe depicted what a person saw looking up at the sky—a celestial view—not looking down at the earth, a terrestrial view."
ability to capture the engrossing, turbulent social and political
the 1500s makes it a top recommendation for libraries and readers who
be immersed in the times and the people whose lives were changed by
endeavors and political transformations.
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Alex Webb Wilson
Kelp Books, LLC
Beasts of the Field is powerful novel
packed with images and
photographic references. It opens with a grisly murder and a terrible
of evidence sent to a father, moving into the image-driven world of
photographer Robert Ellis, who is in Central America, documenting life:
"Images passed through his mind, photos he had
taken and photos he
imagined—a car burning in a broken street, a soldier kneeling in a
poppies. The compositions shifted, one into another, as he lay in the
unfamiliar house by the ocean."
at age twenty-eight, he was the youngest photographer on his company's
masthead. Robert feels like something is missing from his endeavors: "He had looked at his G5 hard drive,
his color-calibrated monitor, his Canon lenses and Hasselblad, and
that he might be searching for some concept of success forever, and
discovers by challenging himself go further and deeper than anything
attempted before, sending him on missions around the world that capture
of the heart and also land him in the heart of danger.
crafts a powerful story that casts a deep lens of inspection on
attempts to document how much has changed in America since 9/11, and in
world he attempts to capture on film:
"...he’s tried to document how much has changed
since then. To him
the solider is about the small things they’ve lost—with his rifle and
in the subway. Maybe small isn’t
the right word, he thinks. Maybe there is no single word for it."
to sons and strangers caught up in struggle and violence, Robert's
and perspective moves readers to consider the transition points of life
that often prove elusive in the moment, but later come back, captured
as if on
film, to haunt and change the world.
cartels and murder to connections back in the U.S., Wilson moves the
uncharted territory as Robert and those he loves become caught up in
political struggles they never saw coming, from earthquake aftermaths
murders and kidnappings.
of reporters on assignment who move between very different worlds,
line of discovery and danger, receives steady and thoroughly engrossing
attention in a novel which reflects on the politics, work, and
individuals under fire and in combat in many different ways.
Libraries and readers seeking vivid stories about individuals who find their lives challenged and changed, from documenting life to navigating and reporting the outcomes of its violent struggles, will find Beasts of the Field a powerful study. It should also reach into book club audiences interested in gripping stories of transition, danger, and survival.Beasts of the Field
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The Blue Iris is a novel that follows six
individuals whose lives converge at the Blue Iris Flower Market, there to experience new
options and divergent
paths that challenge their seemingly set perceptions and choices.
family, and rooted belief systems come to life as each of the
forced to consider their life trajectories and the choices that brought
this moment in time.
a series of inspections that contrast these lives in satisfying ways.
seeking a story that comes steeped in the disparate pasts of characters
struggling with life losses and new possibilities receive these
droves in The Blue Iris.
Tessa's longing to capture elements of her mother Beth's life (lost to
the magic died via a drunken driver when Tessa was only eleven) to the
realization of dreams past and present that are connected by the flower
market's atmosphere and allure, each character finds their life
their venture into new territory.
isn't the only thing driving these realizations. Each relationship
very different motivation and incarnation that will resonate with
powered by a complexity that is alluring in its review of opportunities
transformation and realization: "The same part of her Sam had ruined beyond
repair, barring her from properly moving forward,
became the reason she couldn’t go back."
events that both flaw and free the characters and the flower market
that mean something different to each come to life in a jigsaw puzzle
disparate influences and choices that proves hard to put down.
and libraries looking for literary, accessible stories of the shifting,
disparate lives of men and women who encounter magic in their
changing objectives will find The Blue
Iris an evocative, compelling read that is alternately quiet
countenance and reflective of the adage that "still waters run deep."
Each character's depth is nicely probed in a story steeped in life and
Return to Index
The Corey Effect
Red Adept Publishing
978-1948051972 $13.95 Paper
tells of a woman's second chance at love when she returns home after
father's death to encounter the ghosts of her past. This includes Corey Johnson, the "boy who got
away." In reality, they both escaped the ghosts of their past in
ways—Andi by physically leaving, and Corey by forging business success
Fairford in a manner Andi never knew about (until now).
Corey's ongoing allure is
just one of the forces that
rock Andi's life, proving that the past is not as distant as she'd
attractions don't always fade away over time, and new connections can
despite underlying secrets that influence everything.
Casey Dembowski crafts an
appealing story of first love
revisited and revised, taking the time to inject a sense of place,
transition points into the relationship to give it a full-bodied
Timelines that shift between past and present develop both characters
circumstances that brought them together and then drove them apart.
Corey invites Andi to stay
in town and resume a
relationship with new opportunities, but Andi isn't interested in
same mistakes of the past. As confusion evolves over her father's
ex's inclinations, and her present-day identity, Andi's struggles come
so much—want and desire and hurt and forgiveness and giving in and
I pulled him closer, and the years separating us didn’t matter. We were
together now, and in his arms, I knew exactly who I was meant to be."
Readers who choose The
Corey Effect for its promise of romance and realization won't
disappointed to learn there is also a strong component of growth and
wound into the tale. Elements of surprise keep readers and characters
toes and contribute to an evolutionary process of new realizations.
As misperceptions of the
past evolve into new
understandings that could result in a different outcome, readers will
satisfyingly revealing the course of Andi's discoveries not only about
and her past, but her perceptions of what romance could be.
Libraries and readers
seeking a warm romance of returning
home to old patterns only to discovery new truths will find the
relationship-building (and destruction) compelling and moving in The Corey Effect.
Return to Index
A Delicate Marriage
978-1-63988-930-3 $17.99 Paper/$27.99 Hardcover
A Delicate Marriage is a historical novel
set in Puerto Rico forty
years after it became a U.S. colony and centers on wealthy Isabella
"Isa" Soto, whose initial ambitions are thwarted by her love of and
marriage to poor man Marco Rios.
As a child
first hurricane in 1928, Marco is charged with caring for his mother
siblings when his father vanishes at the height of the storm.
fulfill his promise to his father to become the man of the family, he
on a mission to improve both their lives and the broader world of
who live on the poverty line.
feelings of abandonment and pain from her father's choices, rebelling
his admonition that she should not marry Marco for various reasons:
“Is that why you left me with Abuela while you
traveled all over the
world? You know, the girls at school made up stories about me.” Isa
hands at the memory. “They said my mother had been a witch, that you’d
me from the Amazon jungle, and even that I was really Abuela’s
As she faces
with Marco, including a terrible truth from childbirth and his lack of
in either satisfying her or maintaining his moral balance, Isa
series of revelations about life, good and bad choices, and the
her country's values and politics under American rule. These change her
perceptions of her relationships.
Badilla further changes and challenges her ideals, Isa finds herself
to his seductive ideas and offer as Marco finds himself in the center
whirlwind of cultural, social, and political change in Puerto Rico.
of personal experience and research lends a realistic, warm overlay to
foundations of the events portrayed in A
Delicate Marriage, bringing the nation and its people to life.
"you are here" feel of the story represents a powerful inspection of
poverty, politics, and personal connections that requires little prior
knowledge of Puerto Rico in order to prove accessible.
characters that look to grasp unprecedented opportunities for their
nation, A Delicate Marriage
the delicate nature of all kinds of relationships and peels away layers
historical and cultural influence to illustrate how change trickles
political events and connections into personal lives and psychology.
interested in either Puerto Rico or a winning story of a couple
buffeted by the
winds and tides of political change will find A
Delicate Marriage compelling, revealing, and
At its conclusion, they will know far more about Puerto Rico's vivid
a level that embraces personal struggles and growth.
Return to Index
Karin M. Gertsch
978-1-63988-791-0 $18.95 Paper/$8.95 Kindle
is a debut novel that takes place in the New England small town of
where Delbert MacInnes
experiences contentment with his place in this world even as wife
to be similarly happy with her life, but harbors a big secret her
Now she not
stands on the threshold of achieving the dream of a vacation (something
Bertie has long resisted), but is on the edge of revealing long-held
and defying silences which have served her well into older age. Her
history and inspections sweep readers into a saga that gives voice to
undercurrents of freedom, control, and life choices in romance and
builds a powerful story in Five Wishes that
revolves around a
prediction, realistic life assessments, and new experiences that carry
and characters into unfamiliar territory.
travels also introduces changes as long-held dreams confront difficult
realities, bringing characters and readers into new realizations that
and change their dreams and assumptions.
event, pilgrimages, and revised understandings about family legacy in
MacInnes and the roots that both hold them and define their lives lends
story that embraces history, family connections, and new realizations.
result is a story that is revealing, thought-provoking, and absorbing.
is recommended for libraries and readers seeking literary explorations
family, history, and the legacy of secrets and attitudes on heritage
goals. Opportunities lost and found are the hallmarks of a story that
ultimately maintains there is no time like the present for making
wishes come true.
Return to Index
Rob Sullivan, PhD
Black Heron Press
looked so good. Well ... assuming an alter ego isn't exactly mental
until one's fictional personality takes the reins and commits murder.
mild-mannered, isolated clerk retiree Lloyd, whose successful act of
movie cowboy proves so empowering that he enters into other fictional
that ultimately begin to take over.
lost control of not just his life, but who he is. And in his advanced
this translates to a loss of not just self, but life connection that
into new directions and dangerous curves in the road.
explaining Lloyd's initial foray into mental disintegration uses
logic to enter his world:
"I only started to feel right when I put on my
Before that, I had been a half-person, a shadow, a ghost, a nonentity,
anonymous, dead. But once I put that disguise on, I felt like I fit in
body, that I belonged, that I was part of society, like I had a place,
In fact, "It was such a relief. Not to have to
dread and disaster, readers follow an intense story made all the more
and powerful by the use of the first person, which allows readers to
the logic and surprises that buffet an urban disguise artist's revised
powerful images and insights throughout Lloyd's story, crafting a
events that send him on expeditions through relationships, uncharted
and emotional responses that have not been a part of his prior life.
social revelations permeate a story so intensely revealing that even
cross-dressing are realistically presented and thought-provoking at
of the way.
misconceptions and makes mistakes. As Lloyd observes that "if anyone’s totally capable of navigating the
straits of life and
never crashing into anything, I sure would like to meet them."
In his case,
crash is almost surreal in its strength as Lloyd Stollman loses himself
Glenda and other personas and finds himself on the lam, immersed in
counterculture, and skirting the edge of madness.
seeking powerful psychological novels of transitions and revelations
will find I, Lloyd Stollman offers
intriguing insights into the opportunities and dilemmas of juggling
personalities and possibilities.
stronger are the
insights suitable for psychology groups and book club circles that
around the assumption of not just new personalities, but responsibility
their incarnation, growth, and perhaps inevitable outcomes.
I, Lloyd Stollman crafts a rare
opportunity for a bird's-eye view
of life through the changes a sixty-two-year-old man experiences
choices both of his own making and outside of his control. It's
riveting, and hard to put down.
Return to Index
Top Reads Publishing
$28.00 Hardcover/$18.99 Paper/$9.99 ebook
Mortal Weather is a novel of magical
philosophical observation, and mystery that will attract a wide
its genre-hopping qualities and compelling attractions.
decidedly philosophical bent that invites readers and the narrator to
ideals and new ways of approaching life:
reliable kind of prophecy, Stanhope: the self-fulfilling kind. Who do
you are? That’s you. The world whispers, so listen.
dharma that approaches and prepare a welcome.”
myths served as the initial inspiration for Mortal
Weather, KP McCarthy reveals in his preface; but the proof of
lies in its interpretation and presentation, which here assumes a
thought-provoking romp through ideology and hope that can only come
characters are all aptly named, with a tongue-in-cheek humor reflected
names as 'UpChuck') is actively seeking change after the death of his
his own near-fatal accident. But just because the scenario changes
that Death's touch has been thwarted, as Stanhope finds when those
begin to fall.
wonder about his ultimate power and impact on the world as his journeys
him and his readers into magical realms he never thought possible
number of memorable characters who face their lives and losses,
with equal passion. Readers will find themselves falling in love with
one kind of character, but beware—death is often not far behind.
there are reconnections which serve as "tonics" to the soul, and
there are gifts of surreal art which promote healing and discovery in
of the death of not only spirit, but imagination.
to see how uplifting possibilities and new beginnings can emerge from
of death's touch, but McCarthy creates an ultimately hopeful story
not just magical realism, but the power of relationships to transform
The only way to be a superhero, I think, is to be
means feeling uncertain. “I think sometimes we are strongest when we
Then we must connect with
is a study
in relationship-building, transformation, and discovery that tackles
challenge of existential philosophy and spiritual components with the
affectionate touch of new possibilities.
clubs, and readers will find many thought-provoking moments in a mix of
characters who each cultivate their own powers of hope, salvation, and
Return to Index
Allison G. Smith
$24.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
The New Tenant tells of widow Angela
Wilcox, who moved from riches
to rags virtually overnight upon the death of her wealthy husband.
bereaved, but penniless, Angela meets a new, vibrant tenant in the
house she now resides in. This leads her to confront not only the
nature of such a personality in a place where subdued resignation is
norm, but the exceptional qualities of an individual who hasn't let
opening her eyes to new opportunities for service and interpersonal
in this world. Her appreciation of his gifts is evident as her story
unfolds: "Being introduced to things she had
never noticed even after living here for so long, she finds herself
less and less about her own circumstances."
just stop with influencing Angela's trajectory. It spills into holiday
celebrations and the lives of other tenants, changing their perceptive
and possibilities in their own worlds.
rely on Jack's magic more than she cares to admit, she also finds
slipping in the area of reciprocating by asking more closely about
daily experiences and feelings. When the truth emerges about what
Jack is doing in this situation, Angela finds her assumptions shaken
crafts a winning women's story in Angela's navigation of her revised
the consideration of the true nature of friendships and love to the
of those who swirl around Angela's world, Smith creates an
jigsaw puzzle of personalities and purposes that leads to unexpected
revelations and satisfying insights.
characters who each face different adversities, The
New Tenant focuses on lessons in kindness and adaptation that
the world truly needs right now.
looking for uplifting stories of growth and giving will find The New Tenant replete with
life lessons that will resonate and attract.
Return to Index
Kelly Stone Gamble
Red Adept Publishing LLC
ASIN: B0CCF5PV4Y Price: $9.99
story of the Great Depression, parallel lives, and the process of
courses of both individuals and the nation. Its prologue opens the
an account of the brutal murder by a half-breed Indian in Nevada in
results in an unprecedented manhunt for a serial killer that goes on
At this point, it's
important to emphasize the historical
backdrop and value of Kelly Stone Gamble's story: "Ragtown is
the 1930s during the first phase of the building of the Hoover Dam: the
diversion of the Colorado River. Many of the characters in this book
wholly invented but come from actual dam workers and their families.
circumstances and actual events were gleaned, in part, from interviews
recorded oral histories."
to life through the experiences of a determined young woman, Helen
finds herself alone with limited options for women in the shadow of the
Dam's construction, and young dam worker Ezra Deal, who also
into Helen as she is running from legal issues and a gangster's
caught in the middle of an impossible dilemma, both their lives are
well as their views of independence and connection.
compelling saga made all the more riveting for its foundations in
fact. The astute reflections of each character cement a sense of the
which includes not just a taste of place and history, but the life
conundrums which transfer between generations as well as between
"I’d always thought
my dad had planned for
everything. Maybe that is what all little girls think about their
because as I lay there, I realized that so many things couldn’t be
When the mine closed in Kansas, for example, we ended up here. It
he had ever planned for us to move to Nevada. We were in a bad
opportunity presented itself, and he had to make a quick decision about
future. There weren’t many options available at the time, so even if
the middle of the desert wasn’t ideal, we made the best of it. He
optimistic about better days ahead, and I believed him. I believed in
I had to believe in myself."
As the Wobblies and other
social and political forces
buffet Ezra and Helen, the points of view shift between chapters to
the events, backdrops, and influences affecting each character. Chapter
headings clarify these shifts, making it a snap for readers to absorb
perspectives each individual harbors as they find their lives both
Gamble's recreation of the
Depression years, Nevada, and
two lives forced to be creative in their problem-solving drives a
saga that's hard to put down, complex in its associations and changing
and attractive in its psychological depth and sense of place and
Helen must undertake a
divorce with few resources, buy
off those who would pursue her, and make a life apart from those who
her down and thwart her dreams. Her reflections continue to power a
story of a
young proactive woman who refuses to bow to others' expectations or
norms, and whose reflections are astute and compelling:
back, I probably never should have waited so long to leave Cotton. I
have just left, taken what little I had at the time, and made my way
town instead of waiting until things escalated. But looking back never
to do much good. I needed to focus on looking forward."
These elements turn a 500+
page read into an unexpected
attraction that will grasp and hold reader attention while injecting
necessary historical facts and influences that keep characters and
their toes, educated, and well able to field any transition points that
introduce new challenges.
From good intentions gone
awry to the peppering of author
notes as the story unfolds which explain character development
the writer's part, Ragtown adopts a
uniquely attractive countenance that holds equal prowess in
attracting its reader.
The result is a vivid
historical novel highly recommended
for any library or reader seeking stories set in the Depression years
revolve around men and women who face their changed life trajectories
determination, courage, and not a small degree of personal growth.
Book clubs focused on
historical novels that are firmly
steeped in a sense of time and place will also find Ragtown
an engrossing read that promises the added value of much
discussion and debate material.
Return to Index
Benjamin H. Barnette
Ravenbourne Warriors are the most
throughout the Empire which, in Ravenbourne
Slavery, is a domineering, successful organization in effect
before the Age
of Iron, headed by the Lord of Ravenbourne.
also falls into unusual fortune when he saves the Lord and is recruited
slavery to join the elite army of warriors, there to discover romance
equally formidable woman (the beautiful Natasha, whose hidden powers
problems and attraction alike).
H. Barnette leads readers
through this vividly
engrossing world, Kaelin and Natasha's evolving
a series of changes that move from the initial situation of the Opar
taken captive to Kaelin's entry into vastly unexpected, revised
compelling, erotic element to the story which results in scenes of ménage
`trois affection, graphic sexual exploration, and romantic
These add to the overall atmosphere of the kingdom's different layers
civility and incivility. Readers who eschew reads that include such
scenes may wish to look elsewhere, but they are in keeping with the
nature of the exploration of slavery and survival that is one of the
themes of the story.
and lectures about this survival process represent thought-provoking
revelations of what it takes to evolve and survive such a world:
"I was spared by the mercy of the god of war, taken
to become a
slave of the Empire. I
could not escape. There
was no place to run to—nowhere to
hide—no way to vanish. Disobedience
brings only humiliating punishment.
gained my freedom by obeying my master and mistress and pleasing them. I told them that was the
only way that they,
too, could similarly gain their freedom.”
between sexual conquest,
lessons of domination,
and love are drawn which enhance the overall message and draw of the
disparate characters, from high priestess to warriors and slaves,
dual explorations of survival, adaptation, and sweeping
passion make for a vivid story of clashing personalities, peoples, and
and readers seeking an
exceptionally vivid story
of romance, power, and slavery's challenges will find Ravenbourne
Slavery a heady read packed with opportunities for book
club discussions about the kinds of relationships and power struggles
evolve between slaves, warriors, and ordinary men and women.
Return to Index
Anne Marie Bennett
979-8-9860503-4-8 $12.00 Paper/$2.99 ebook
Book 2 of
Seahaven Sunrise series, Sea Glass
Memories, returns to the Maine environment featured in Feathers in the Sand to explore a new
start. It focuses on Elena
Jeffries's move from Boston to the small community of Seahaven, where
becomes involved in a class play, a local grief support group, and a
romance that leads her to think all may not be lost in her life.
Grief is not
changing state of being, but one which promises riches from its flux,
finds by becoming involved in a world both unfamiliar to her and
deftly intersects past experience with present-day changes as Elena
her Boston past into a future that portends resolution and redemption
feature of Elena's move is her realistic perspective about her life's
possibilities. These create a current of experience and acceptance that
underneath any illusions of ideal life:
"In the back of my mind, I know that Ryan isn’t
going to stay in
Seahaven. I have a feeling he is destined for bigger stages than ours.
listen intently, absorbing the excitement in his voice, and I tell him
my own stories. How I met Marc. How it rained on our wedding day and
rainbow that appeared as we were leaving the church. Some of the
students turned in about their fantasy summer vacations. A few plays
directed while teaching in Dorchester. I share a little more about how
died, but I don’t tell him everything. I don’t want to break the
intimate mood we’ve created here in this beautiful setting."
perspective spills into the Our Town
play rehearsal, her encounters with others open new doors of
her musings about her choices in the matter reflect both the impact of
recovery and the potential of forging a different life with new
at its core:
"Do I have a choice? Yes, I guess I do. I can sit
right here at
this table and finish my coffee, then go home to my lonesome apartment
spend the night with Jezebel. Suddenly, that doesn’t seem like the
choice. What will happen if I do join Anna and Jonathan? Maybe I’ll get
them better. Maybe I’ll find out what this Seahaven Scavenger Hunt is
about; every time I hear someone talk about it or see one of the many
scattered around town, it sounds more and more like fun."
intimate portrait of small-town Maine life, a big-city girl's sea
the process by which she overcomes her own expectations and grief to
a milieu which promises many new treasures.
seeking a beach read replete with warmth and a sense of personal
recovery will find Sea Glass Memories
an alluring, evocative grief journey that carries Elena from the life
anticipated to one which is unpredictably promising.
Return to Index
Trigger Warning is a novel that embraces
university politics and
procedures, focusing on Professor Tymoteusz Tarnaszewski ("T"), who
finds himself resisting the administration's new requirement of
"trigger warnings" in all syllabi. As a Professor of Biology, this
could limit or mitigate the impact of his teaching, T believes.
And so he
a resistance that leads to a charge of insubordination despite the fact
his teaching actually is more effective than that of most of his peers:
"He was, in a word, superb at the task. His was the
only class at
Skowhegan where the students applauded the lectures. They applauded not
his style, his passion, and his uncanny narrative gifts—he spoke with a
and familiarity suggesting that he had actually known Charles
sense he generated that he cherished them. T had long ago learned that
students knew that you cared about them, they would go to the ends of
Just how far
students will support him is tested by his convictions, actions, and
administrative regulations. When he is betrayed by a student, new
are made which challenge both his stand and his relative isolation as a
leadership in his mind and in his students' lives.
open the world of college encounters and politics with a steady hand to
exploring one teacher's impact on his closed world and the situations
evolve from it that mitigate T's ongoing isolation and
ideology, political correctness, and the motivations of teachers and
who break away from their self-imposed worlds to acknowledge the tides
trends of the greater world around them, Klose creates a
milieu which should be of special interest to students and teachers who
long operated in institutions of higher learning:
"T recalled Nan’s memorable quote from a past
An institution is incapable of showing gratitude. Because he knew this
true, he was, in a way, prepared for this moment. And he pitied those
colleagues who believed that, if they only joined one more committee,
one more student, got one more grant, took on one more course, wrote
forgettable paper, the school would come to view them as indispensable.
dirty little truth was that no one was indispensable. It was a cold
but T had never seen any evidence that contradicted it."
contractions, contraindications, and changing triggers in their lives
all the characters both within the system and outside of it, leading to
confrontations and realizations that embrace not just political and
change, but personal growth.
Ultimately, Trigger Warning is about money,
motivation, and moves that change everyone within the university
effect, its experiences, confrontations, and evolving challenges mirror
in the world outside the university's walls, providing many
moments and surprises as these influences are uncovered:
"You as a teacher speak about truth and facts and
obligations to your students. But we”—thumbing his chest—“think only in
of appearances and expediency. When you were directed to include
warnings, both of these considerations were on our minds, but mostly
appearances. Trigger warnings made us look like we were current, and
and that we were giving students what they wanted. The public would, of
approve. And the legislature, with the power of the purse, is part of
superb political, social, and interpersonal assessment that is
highly recommended for students, teachers, and supporters of higher
The ways in which teachers are constrained and guided will also provide
delightful fodder for controversial discussions in book club circles
and among readers
that come from university-level settings.
Return to Index
The Unbroken Horizon
978-1-63988-766-8 $17.99 Paper
The Unbroken Horizon
is a novel spanning a century of women's wounds and healing and
lives of two very different individuals: 1914 teen Maggie Burke, who
sharecropper life after she witnesses the lynching of her father and
and 2011 white humanitarian nurse Sarah Baum, whose
strange recurrent nightmare intrudes on her present-day world and
The content note which appears before the
story opens advises of possible reader triggers as lynchings, sexual
and mental health struggles evolve against the backdrop of Black
The story opens with Sarah in the South
Sudan in 2011, where she is engaged in helping the people who are
their first life-sustaining rainstorm after five months of heat and
Sarah's appreciative response to the local delight in this event
different world views:
"The nurse in me
cringed—knowing all too intimately that mud is host to a cesspool of
disease-carrying bacteria—and wanted to shout at them to go home. A
child part of me longed to join in. To be that carefree."
Readers who anticipate that The
Unbroken Horizon will be a
time-travel type of story will be pleased to learn see that Jenny Brav
interested in the contrast between disparate women's lives in different
particular, how they are wounded, heal from their wounds, and create
growth in the process of learning new survival skills for navigating
worlds and those to come.
Particularly notable are the first-person
reflections which capture both the new experiences of each character
realizations they come to, for formulating new lives: "I
sensed that I needed the joy he brought to my life much more
than he needed the entertainment and novelty I brought to his."
From feelings of powerlessness over life's
circumstances and trials to evolving natures that grasp power in new
Brav's contrast in these women's worlds creates a story of new
family, secrets of the past, and choices that send each character in a
"May you always know
depth of your love and power," a loving father writes
baby Sarah. And, she does—but not before her revelations result in
missed opportunities and mistaken perceptions that created further pain
"As I touched the
of pain and misery that had ricocheted from believing I was
years of avoiding love altogether or seeking it from unavailable
sorrow crashed through my being followed by wordless rage. I’ve wasted SO much time! I thought
as I flopped belly down on my bed and pounded my head on my pillow
tears came crashing down on me."
At first, readers might feel that the
disparity of events in these very different lives belay any connections
might form with one another, but Brav interconnects these experiences
revelations and discoveries that drive Maggie and Sarah to find new
healing in their lives.
Their efforts change not only their lives,
but resonate into future generations with connections to the past that
new opportunities and realizations about the Black experience and the
Libraries and readers seeking powerful
novels contrasting past and present Black experience and routes to not
recovery, but empowerment, will find The
Unbroken Horizon emotionally gripping and astute in its
depictions of these
very different worlds.
Between the contrasts in experience and
attitude and their shared heritage, these women are presented as
courageous, and ultimately self-reliant and pioneering, in their own
ways. The Unbroken Horizon is a
winning story that ideally also will be chosen for book clubs
vivid literature that fully embraces emotional connections and
processes of not
just survival, but thriving against all odds and perceptions about what
and should be.
Return to Index
Year of the
Year of the Puffin isn't about (or for)
the birds. It's about an
Icelandic college football team, The Puffins, who are determined to win
championship in American college football despite harboring a ragtag
misfits and misguided directors whose intentions often go awry.
international dovetailing of this story feels surprising, a prologue
how soldiers introduced American football to Iceland in the 1930s, when
country served as a base for American soldiers who played flag football
periods of waiting out winter storms.
anticipate a sports-centric series of events will be surprised at the
accompanying cultural contrasts that add value to the story. Gregory
excels at injecting these seamlessly into the action:
"He’d lived in Iceland for so long that he often
forgot the North
American capacity for enthusiasm."
around various types of successes and failures embrace characters and
readers, a sense of Icelandic psyche begins to grow as issues of team
leadership, love, and adversity begin to emerge to form a bigger
underlying the football team's efforts and impact.
“You can be anything. You just have to prove it.
Over and over again.
For the rest of your life.”
graphic descriptions of Iceland unfold, readers will be drawn to this
compelling story of its countryside, people, sports efforts, and
who face dangerous secrets, internal conflict, and the external
international relationships and perceptions.
To limit Year of the Puffin's audience to
football enthusiasts alone would be to do it a grave disservice. It's a
powerful story of plays made by individuals, nations, and competition
evolves many layers of attraction to make it the perfect item of choice
just for lending libraries, but book clubs looking for vivid discussion
material about Iceland's people, culture, and worldwide sports.
Return to Index
Norman B. Schwartz
Worthy Reads/Cresting Wave Publishing
978-1-956048-17-9 $15.99 Paper/$2.99 ebook
ACTing Now: A New
Approach to the Old Techniques of
Acting should be on the shelves
any library interested in drama education and performing arts. It
modern-day challenges of actors required to produce and pitch a
audition tape, pointing out that conventional (and long-held)
acing auditions need vast revision in this milieu.
acting techniques were loosely based on the Stanislavski System, which
methods that became the foundation of a new American approach to drama.
contrasted heavily (and controversially) with other notions of good
came to be the norm in this country:
"Their template was
the actor’s learning to work
on self to discover the inner life, the psychology of the character. To
emotions appropriate to the drama, the fundamental obstacle to
many of these teachers perceived it, was often the actors’ inhibitions:
fear of being emotionally naked in front of an audience. To be
scream and shout, pour out one’s guts, and cry unrestrainedly on
trademark of American-style acting. Not so in the rest of the world,
total emotional abandonment was never considered the hallmark of the
modern times. Changes in stage, auditions, and screening require
changes in approaches to acting and definitions of what constitutes
choices—and this is where ACTing Now comes in.
controversy over its sometimes-vastly revised approaches, ACTing
features exercises and objectives that embrace intention, action, the
responsibility to adhere to the script, and inner and outer choices
support the best possible interpretations of a scriptwriter's
Schwartz tailors his advice to the self-taping effort that young actors
being asked to produce today. His solid advice is based on these new
requirements and a better understanding how they translate to success
"Even if you don’t
give much thought to the DNA
of its action (the character’s want, environment, approach, and the
of getting the want), on the first reading, by the end of the
process, you will have an excellent idea of what it is about...The
CD, the producer, or the director who will eventually watch your
decide if you are the one for the job—doesn’t know what you were
you taped the sides, nor does that person care what the subtext is you
below the words you speak. All the viewer and listener sees and hears
fullness of emotion below and beyond the words on a page."
not just a deeper understanding of the actor's choices and intentions,
these translate, in turn, to the self-taping process and the decisions
invisible listener and judge.
interested in probing the actor's underlying responsibility to self,
and incarnation of his character will find these words especially
thought-provoking and educational:
"The actor can do
so robotically. It’s not
difficult to turn a head or walk a few steps.... the intelligent actor
finds a reason for doing it. That reason is called JUSTIFICATION.
without reason is simply pointless movement, a lie that the best of all
detectors, the camera, detects instantly. And which the movie or TV
recognize just as quickly and find just as false."
would-be actors should place ACTing Now in a top
role on their reading
lists and recommendations. Ideally, its radical eye towards
actor's intention and incarnation will prompt drama group discussions
better acting choices and the power of creative drama via a deeper
understanding of techniques, choices, and fine art.
Return to Index
of Daihmler County (Audiobook)
ASIN: B0C5KDMDG5 $21.83 Audio
of The Blanchard Witches of Daihmler
County provides a listening opportunity that profiles
Clark's ability to clearly yet powerfully bring a story to vivid
Readers of the print version will discover, in this audio, nuances that perhaps had been missed by the eye. This comes from Clark's ability to dramatize and emphasize passages to help them leap from any printed page and into the mind and visionary imagination of the listener.
"It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The 4,430-second Saturday afternoon." Clark's opening lines in the first chapter 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' creates an evocative invitation to continue into Micah House's world, where 85-year-old Olympia Blanchard remains of sound mind and refuses to bow to her age.
Alabama history and present-day complications come to life as a family
witches living under one roof find that modern times bring challenges
audio is such that even prior print readers should ideally imbibe. The
of the story brought to life in audio demonstrate the power of the ear
better understand words and underlying meanings, while the listening
will enhance any drive or efforts to better absorb the grief,
efforts, and pursuits of a clan of witches who become involved in
heritage, history, and culture; a murder mystery; and a band of witches
struggle to survive relationship and life changes come to life in the
version in a manner that supports House's ability to weave a
of intrigue and psychological depth.
balked at pronouncing some of the characters' names in print have no
limitations in audio, where Clark easily vocalizes the correct names in
voice that readers can equally easily understand.
unmitigated appreciation for the plot, character development, and
twists and turns of a novel replete with fantasy and emotional
eschew audio productions are missing something if they pass on the
exceptionally well-done production of The
Blanchard Witches of Daihmler County. Clark's ability to
tailor her voice
to capture the thoughts and approaches of the story's different
not only nicely achieved, but exceptional.
Return to Index
978-1-63388-823-4 $25.50 Hardcover/$21.49 ebook
struggles with increasing economic, environmental, and political
timing seems more than appropriate for the considerations in The
of Disaster: The Lessons That Catastrophes Teach Us and Why Our Future
on It. Michel Bruneau considers the process of survival and
a different vantage point that comes from a relatively unique
of a 'catastrophe engineer' whose work involves tackling extreme events
considering how these forces change humanity.
such a focus would be laden with portents of doom and extinction, but
Bruneau's book exhibits an ability to move beyond obvious disaster
consider outcomes more far-reaching and enlightening than the usual
movie, book, or scenario would envision. Chapters divided by possible
as well as possible evolutionary processes derived from them, offer
well as management and recovery insights.
on 'Technological Disasters.' This examines the Chernobyl nuclear
Japan's Fukushima disaster, and the wide-ranging domino effects of
and scientific snafus that led to changes in how the world not only
nuclear power, but obtained its reactors ("The downfall of
Japanese nuclear plant builders following Fukushima opened up the world
reactors manufactured by China and Russia.").
technology will fail." And when
it does so on epic scales, changes
inevitably follow—not just in ideologies, but in scientific and
pursuits and the economics of supply chains influenced by technology's
err is human,
and the human factors involved in many of these disasters cannot be
more than the wisdom of better mitigating risk posed by infrastructure
decision-making and management.
engineering philosophy is examined, its incarnation in the world
and the human component of creating or managing disasters is astutely
in an astute blend of unexpected wry humor, unerring analysis, and
thought-provoking presentations of engineers and scientists who work
hand-in-hand to address disaster scenarios and outcomes.
the ultimate effect of The Blessings of Disaster is
to offer hope and
new considerations of the ultimate world-changing effects of disaster
readers interested in considering these perspectives in a lively
history of hot
spots and lethal subjects will find that The Blessings of
offers plenty of solid science, engineering, and food for thought and
Return to Index
Box of Birds
Stephen Stowers M.D.
979-8-9871442-0-6 $15.99 Paper/$2.99 ebook
Box of Birds comes from a New Zealand
cardiologist who reflects on
the nature of his work, its moral and ethical conundrums, and how
and visions have gone awry in the U.S., which led him to travel to New
to a better vision of medical management and efforts.
practicing in the U.S. medical system to New Zealand led to startling
revelations—not the least of which is that New
Zealand has better patient outcomes, yet spends less
money on healthcare.
journey from education and internship to
facing cardiology crises and learning from individual situations and
edicts makes for an especially intriguing memoir that delves into moral
ethical areas most physician memoirs skirt.
encounters, including experiences of nature and its force, juxtapose
with the medical world he encounters in New Zealand to add depth to his
While this might give pause for thought to readers interested in
politics and issues alone, Box of Birds
isn't just about the practice of medicine. It's about the practice of
eye-opening are revelations about medical management and physician and
researcher freedoms which allow for a greater degree of creative
problem-solving in New Zealand's atmosphere than in the U.S.:
"Only by working in New Zealand, where I was given
time to pursue
original research and where I had the chance to work in a medical
prioritized conservation of limited resources, was I able to
insights that would help change the field of cardiology."
Box of Birds thus synthesizes the final
points in life, medical
treatments and systems, and physician and researcher edicts to operate
strong moral and ethical grounds.
interested in accounts of alternative medical systems in the world and
compare to U.S. approaches to healthcare will find Box
of Birds suitable for not just personal enlightenment, but
discussion groups interested in debating medical community systems and
experiences that hold alternative, successful approaches.
Return to Index
$24.99 Hardcover/$14.99 Paper/$4.99 ebook
The Finer Things Club: The
Summertime Chronicles of a Yellowstone Housekeeping Employee is
memoir about self-discovery during two seasons of work in Yellowstone
Park in Wyoming. It outlines a journey that led the 20-year-old author
her future and the values she held in her life.
This is a
wilderness influence that is akin to Thoreau in some ways as Lauren
observes the nuances of nature, learns to journal her true feelings
overlay of civilization's influences and expectations, then shares
with others. Her two seasons of work in Yellowstone are the main
this book departs from the usual nature chronicle by including many
interpersonal encounters and inspections that Erickson honed while
the staff at Yellowstone National Park.
the tone of
inspection and revelation are almost poetic:
heart sigh—I didn’t realize it had been holding its breath. Finally
to speak like a poet, like a writer, to another person held so much
me. The only connections I ever felt were to the words in the pages of
books, spoken by brilliant authors, who knew what it meant to look at
close and ask the deeper questions: What do you really
want to say?
What did that experience really mean for you? Who
do you really want
to say those things to?"
grizzlies and tourists to co-workers and shared experiences, Erickson
through this world and revised life with insights and growth
come from the duality of a manmade venture set within the boundless
opportunities of a national park.
politics, psychology, and processes of maintaining a park for tourists
nature alike come to life as vividly as the relationships she
outside and within herself.
finest when revealing the deeper questions and answers that come from
risks and navigating new territory without getting lost.
seeking powerfully-written memoirs about summer work in general and the
processes of working in a national park in particular (an attractive
many young adults) will find The Finer
Things Club exposes the nitty-gritty of what can be
temporary summer employment, and what happens when a young adult
walk out of a comfort zone and into a new environment.
Return to Index
Hair Goes History:
How Hair Enhancement Has Shaped the
Arc and Trembling Hand of History
should be considered general interest and cultural history collections.
creates a lively, uncommon link between hair and history that surveys
wide-ranging impact that hair, appearance, and augmentation efforts
have had on
key figures, decisions, and historical events.
tends to make his wide-ranging survey even wider, at times, by
damning insights about Trump, commenting on the politics and hairpieces
major influencers, writers, and movers and shakers, and incorporating
themes into broader historical observations:
authored over 20 books on political
history; a quality volume on President John F. Kennedy, being one
tome. Sabato’s now graying-black left-parted, but brief hairpiece
authentic than in the past. His lavish black mustache is likewise a
From military and sports hair to global crisis, Taylor propels his account with inspections of how hair has represented and influenced some of the major figures of human history. Initially inspired by the results of the 2016 election, Taylor moves his observation into wider-ranging territory:
"I witnessed a
diabolical manifestation of a
left-parted orange hairpiece surfacing as the next president (without
faire) of the United States. Then crashing reality set in: hair systems
had a momentous repercussion on the dawning of human history."
Taylor's links between history and hair are tenuous, at times, with
commentary assuming a larger proportion of time than the hair-related
Goes History is recommended for readers interested in a
discussion than most history books tackle. Where else can a reader
insights into comic book heroes, aliens, splashy figures of myth and
modern and historical political processes that are all linked by hair
Return to Index
Guide for Government Workers Leading Change
Herocrats: A Guide
for Government Workers Leading
workers on the cutting edge of radical approaches to government
and management processes. It offers a satisfying new alternative to the
perception of government workers as being little more than bureaucrats
out for their own special interests.
Bell encourages government employees to step up into their own
"superpowers" no matter what their level of involvement in
government, surveying the abilities such ordinary heroes could provide
promoting a different form of leadership by example that taps both
values and the government's existing structure.
relationships to shift power to identifying common "supertraps" that
immerse workers in supporting systems that have little moral grounding,
creates and promotes ideas anyone at any level can employ:
"In the last
chapter, we discussed the importance
of building and maintaining your herocrats network. Weaving the web is
and easy form of that ... Weaving the web is about frequently and
"grassroots" were to be identified not ideologically, but in
real-world operations, Herocrats would fit the bill
for a step-by-step
workbook on how to enact positive, ongoing change. Baby steps lead to
bigger-picture transformations, Bell maintains as she links individual
perspective, and actions to these government-changing efforts.
believe that change comes primarily from strong connections,
efforts, and big drives for power and control. Bell here promotes a
approaches that, together, build a network of actions that support
visions of community and government empowerment.
just what is needed in the milieu of modern times, where powerlessness
people from acting in personal, workplace, and political endeavors.
A Guide for Government Workers Leading Change will
be part of any
government worker's reading; included in all kinds of libraries
activism, change, and government processes; and, most of all, profiled
club and debate and discussion groups interested in the nuts and bolts
enacting community- and then nation-wide change.
"It can take
courage in these environments to be
vulnerable and place oneself in a learning position. But that is
we need to do. We need to get over ourselves and our egos and listen to
community members without judgment or defensiveness. This is how we
grow, and eventually put together solutions that create positive change
Return to Index
Lynne M. Kolze
Beaver's Pond Press
978-1-64343-673-9 $31.95 Hardcover/$9.99 ebook
Write: Finding Joy and
Meaning in the Soulful Art of Handwritten Letters makes a case for handwritten letters as an
important source for communication even in a digital age, tapping
experience, anecdotes, and the enthusiasm of avid fellow letter-writers
From why putting ink to page
creates a different legacy
and feel than a phone call or email to different kinds of writings that
not only connection, but art, Lynne M. Kolze reviews the history,
purposes of effective letter-writing using a lively voice that will
readers to cultivate their own letter-writing skills and circles.
Kolze makes a powerful case
for choosing writing over
dashing out an email:
work well to convey one’s homesick feelings to those back home, yet
profound is missing when the recipient cannot touch or see the paper
tangibly holds those thoughts. Electronic messages give us little to
to—we cannot feel the paper that our loved ones held themselves or
kissed or cried over before sending them home. We can too easily lose
special flourishes, creativity, and soul of the writer when we convert
analog writing into digital communications. Thankfully, there are still
enthusiasts and volunteers who put pen to paper for military men and
bringing joy to homesick souls."
Such writings can be
embellished by cartoons, quotes, or
even small pieces of nature tucked within their envelopes.
From antique postcards and
the works of postcard
enthusiasts to seasonal letter-writing and tapping the wellsprings of
inspiration to inject self and a sense of place into the world, Kolze
an inspirational blueprint for better understanding the power of the
why writing should remain relevant in these modern digital times.
Libraries and readers
interested in the history and
incarnation of letter-writing efforts will find Please
Write a passionate, lively celebration that will make one
wish to run to the mailbox in hopes of discovering the joy of something
handwritten and personal inside.
Return to Index
Reflective Meditation: Cultivating Kindness
and Curiosity in the Buddha’s Company
Linda Modaro and Nelly Kaufer
Meditation: Cultivating Kindness and Curiosity in the Buddha’s
Company encourages and
provokes conversation and
reflective meditation. This offers a different perspective and approach
just enlightened thinking and feeling, but dialogue.
A fine prologue synthesizes the practice's
results by narrating the experience of Kim Henderson, who observed her
(and founder of Sati Sangha) Linda Modaro's immersion in a practice she
‘recollective awareness’. As Kim observed the impact and life-altering
of this meditative process, she was encouraged by her friend to pursue
practice through mentor Nelly Kaufer, a fellow recollective awareness
meditation teacher and the founder of Pine Street Sangha in Portland,
how this initial observation and interest turned into participation in
yet life-changing experience, opens with an introduction that informs
seekers about the opportunities and processes of a different form of
aspect of this approach is the authors' collaborative focus on the
experience. They gather the voices and insights of others around them,
collective wisdom in an accessible and lively manner:
"We have ongoing conversations with meditators
experiences. In our groups meditators get to listen to and learn from
another. Throughout this book we share these voices from our community,
times with a kind and curious response. This is how we interact when we
of the practice is just as essential for understanding and success as
meditative process itself. Conversations about experience, intention,
mindfulness, and more permeate insights about the bigger-picture
meditation can unfold in a dance of mental origami:
"It takes courage to be self-honest, but in fact
that is one of
the main teachings. In Pāli a sappurisa
is an honest person. Someone who is true to themselves, to
authentic, and becomes comfortable in their own skin. Many of us don’t
with these characteristics; right off the bat we’re trying too hard to
and not acknowledging our starting points. We’re under so much pressure
good when we put ourselves out in the world, especially these days if
engaged in social media. It’s hard to be aware of and value our own
experience in meditation when we’re always trying to change it, or
telling us to change it, or when conditions get in the way."
of Buddhist concepts of vulnerability and suffering to how meditators
with challenging characteristics of existence and experience, Linda
Nelly Kaufer craft a dialogue of possibilities that ultimately
of the average reader's concepts of what meditative practices can
Meditation is a powerful dialogue that, in turn, deserves
not just library
acquisition and individual thought, but hopefully results in
interactions among different types of communities as thinkers,
seekers, teachers, and ordinary people come together to explore
growth and kindness in their lives, and its incarnation in the world.
Return to Index
Work-Life Bloom: How to Nurture a Team That
Figure 1 Publishing
Bloom: How to Nurture a Team That Flourishes is a study in
career moves, nurturing talent, and moving from individual to group
achievement. It hones its examples through a combination of real-life
histories and surveys of how teams succeed and fail, offering a series
lessons no business reader should be without.
The first strength to note in Work-Life
is that its contentions rise above the usual 'blueprint for leadership'
address many of the underlying reasons of why teams often begin with
ideals, but fail to live up to their promise.
Dan Pontefract speaks of many influencers to
process; not the least of which is attitude and the perception of team
critical to remember that many great ideas are not necessarily great at
glance but, like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, could be impactful over time.
members might not create something as noteworthy as a bestselling
album, but if
you value them, you appreciate and recognize their contributions and
value their input, extra effort, and desire for open conversations. No
what people do at your organization, you must believe that they have
to contribute, and therefore they must be valued."
Another big 'plus' that sets this book apart
the usual team-building title is its attention to linking individual
and experiences with group and business intention. In this environment,
leadership can take a stand and make a difference not just in business
personal life outcomes:
is clear that social community has declined over the past several
that decline comes both concern and opportunity. You ought to be
because a lonely person in life is likely to be a lonely worker. And,
discovered, loneliness is a costly expense. However, on the
front, you can create the conditions at work that allow a team member
part of something."
Pontefract connects important dots between life
influence, personal experience, and business and team leadership
The result is more multifaceted than most team-building business
offering solutions and observations that stem from acknowledging the
interconnected opportunities and pitfalls that lie between individual
leaders, and group efforts:
arrives through autonomy when people are permitted to ideate and act,
by their ability to make informed, uncoerced decisions. That’s why I’ve
a life-factor. If we can apply agency in our lives—as we should—how do
those same constructs of agency at work?"
libraries and readers that choose Work-Life Bloom: How to Nurture
a Team That
Flourishes should look at its bigger picture promise; for
offers not just another treatise on team-building, but revised
interacting with and supporting people through life.
This earns the book not just high
but should propel it off library shelves and into the hands of readers
clubs interested in vivid examples worthy of debate and discussion.
Return to Index
Becky's Choice: A Ghost's Story is
another Becky Chalmers story for
ages 13 and older. It promises a ghostly plot, but adds in unexpected
and intrigue to embed Becky's story with many attractive elements.
collide when Becky, now fifteen, explores the New Jersey State Archives
her historian uncle, only to unearth a ghost haunting the annex's
Becky with story embedded with a dilemma and tragedy, opening with a
recap of the six-member family's structure to set the stage for
Becky's world who may be unfamiliar with her prior exploits.
should be noted that this is a faith-based series that will especially
Christian readers. References embrace this fact as Becky confronts not
revised reality, but her own fears:
"Becky was home in Yardley. She was moved deeply by
and she slept restlessly. She was sweating in her bed. Becky dared not
belong to Jesus Christ,” she whispered over and over again. Was it a
werewolf, or Minnie’s ghost that was under her bed?"
(and afterlife) challenges includes considerations of bigger-picture
about ethics and morals as Becky enters into unfamiliar territory that
her to make some unusual choices.
of the story is that intrigue and history are crafted in just under a
pages. This will especially draw reluctant readers who typically eschew
complicated plots or long-winded descriptions, as well as modern
attracted to shorter works that pack a punch.
also take center stage, which creates a fuller-flavored story than most
writings for this age group, which focus on young protagonists who seem
to be alone
in their quests for truth and their adventures. Family is not far in
background of Becky's world, here.
compelling brand of entertainment and thought-provoking historical
both adds to the Becky Chalmers experience (and series) and stands
seeking a story that pulls through its vivid, realistic focus on
problem-solving and achievement will find Becky's
Choice: A Ghost's Story notable and worthy of pursuit.
Return to Index
Kristin A. Oakley
979-8-9878703 Paperback - $15.99; EBook - $4.99
The Devil Particle is a young adult dystopian survival story that
presents a very
different take on a new world order in which evil has not only been
but identified and contained. In this world, scientists have discovered
of protecting humanity from imploding under its own violence—but this
with a big price tag, requiring one individual to 'contain' all this
scenario, serving in such a role is not just desirable, but applauded.
why teen Paul Salvage
the competition to be The Devil Particle Vessel, and why he draws back
violence destroys his own family before he can compete in the Trials to
a world-saving hero.
In a struggle
reminiscent of The Hunger Games for
its focus on a new world order and a competition which holds underlying
and realizations a teen must uncover to survive, The Devil Particle performs a neat slight of hand. Paul's mission and
those of teens around him become a journey of new realizations and
truths about good, evil, and options in the matter of world salvation.
Kristin A. Oakley embeds her
story with the particles of
realization and moral and ethical quandary which bring Paul and his
life. Oakley is especially adept at portraying life-changing situations
demand extraordinary responses and choices from these young adults:
at Rune dangling from my hand. Do I let her go? Could I? Would that
Jaelyn, Gaige, and me? I don’t know. But it might buy Jaelyn enough
reach the twelfth floor. If I hang on to Rune, can we all make it? As
answer, I hear loud pops as the ladder’s bolts give way. There isn’t
I’ve got to save Jaelyn. That’s all that matters. I have to let Rune
The process of making hard
decisions based on impossible
circumstances that both test interpersonal connections and redefine
evil intention results in a riveting story that is all the more
displayed by its use of the first person to reveal Paul's thoughts. As
finds himself in competition with those he loves, he comes to realize
deeper impact of this effort to contain evil.
As issues of personal and
worldwide survival vie with
questions of reality and perception, Oakley creates an action-packed
filled with higher-level thinking and messages that will lead young
audiences to debate and consider their own impacts on life and the
Libraries and readers
interested in spirited,
thought-provoking teen dystopian stories that hold the feel of The Hunger Games but notch up the
ethical and moral dilemma factor will find The Devil Particle equally (perhaps even more) compelling.
Return to Index
Extraordinary Adventures of an Ordinary Girl
Many Realms Media
979-8360043393 $12.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
Middle grade readers
who choose The
Extraordinary Adventures of an Ordinary Girl for leisure reading are in for a treat,
because Clara Frank's journal of her life-changing experiences entering
school will mirror many of the hopes, expectations, and experiences of
readers in the same situation.
Clara has read many books
about middle school and the
often-unwelcome changes it introduces. Her parents aren't helpful in
their own memories—in fact, her father cautions that "high school will
worse," which does nothing to address the overwhelming feelings Clara
Her normally-wise mother
holds the opinion that, somehow,
Clara is extraordinary. How she
into this promise, navigates middle school's challenges, and faces
unpredictable and daunting adversities in everything that previously
in life (even her family) is the topic of compellingly rich, honest
cemented by the confessional tone of Clara's diary entries.
compelling portrait that reflects the increasingly jaded worldview of a
whose life is buffeted by too many changes all at once. This leads to
candid reflection that "Life sucks
and then you die, I guess."
realize there is more to living than survival alone makes for a story
filled with questions, answers, and observations that lend to her
extraordinary ways. Couched in the pages of a personal story, Clara's
progression is replete with psychological growth that starts and stops
of frustration and new realizations:
"Maybe I'd misjudged them? Maybe they really did
miss me and want
to be my friend? Maybe they'd only been rude before because they were
will serve as thought-provoking moments for many a middle grade reader,
also offer fodder for discussion groups as she tackles vastly revised
experiences. Her moves to attempting to be more grown-up in her
dovetails nicely with the situations that force her to move forward
reactions to her life.
completely engrossing, memorable account of not one, but many life
affecting young Clara's world and its promise.
grade readers seeking an evocative, realistic survey to the tune of Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret
and other fictional attractions will find the combination of strong
characterization, an intimate diary format, and a series of changing
to be compelling and revealing, making The Extraordinary Adventures of an Ordinary
Girl a top
for this age group.
Return to Index
Find Me in
Find Me In Time IP Holdings, LLC
the Find Me in Time series, Mission
Apollo, brings middle grade readers to the Tree House Club's
adventure—following the moon landing via a personal experience of time
Keith, and Harry embark on a journey that brings them to Mission
the making of the Apollo mission, but spies and intrigue emerge to
only the moon landing effort, but the history and involvement of the
real efforts made in the moon landing with a scenario in which five
children find themselves personally engaged in the making of history.
story is replete with science, a "you are here" feel revolving around
the Apollo mission, and the special abilities of savvy kids to observe
the adults around them tend to miss:
"As I turned my head from the TV back to the big
video screen in
the control room, I noticed something strange. A man sitting right at
of the room was pulling at his earlobe. Now, moving restlessly wouldn’t
been strange at all, but the way he
was doing it caught my eye. You know when someone’s doing something
shouldn’t, but they’re trying to be super-casual about it? We’ve all
‘nothing to see here, folks’ act—I guess most adults wouldn’t notice
though, are tuned in to that kind of behavior."
connections between Apollo and
civil rights efforts to
the milieu of the 60s and struggles for equality and achievement, many
underlying social patterns of the past are also revealed as the kids
and learn new things.
ability to bring history to
life through the young
observers' eyes and experiences makes this second book in the time
series just as compelling and educational as the first.
and readers seeking time
travel journeys that
involve proactive kids of the future becoming actively involved in
the past will find Mission Apollo
displays the mantle of a mystery, the power of history, and the
connections of kids who do more than quietly observe the past. They
engage with it—thus participating in their futures.
Return to Index
Realm of Legends
Crimson Dragon Publishing
978-1-644644-41-3 $14.99 Paper/$3.99 ebook
readers of epic fantasy and adventure who look for stories embedded
elements and solid, compelling young characters will find Iora
and the Realm
of Legends a gripping read.
simple query: what if an evil rainforest legend escapes into the real
what if a tag team of twelve-year-olds who have entered the arena of
legends are the only force that can stop it?
Iora, the Spirit of the Jungle, is called upon to help the Angels and
evil to retreat.
with reflections on this evil force, then moves to Iora, Owlus, and Chinar, who are charged
with thwarting its move into reality from the fantasy realm.
setting and contention might confuse kids at first, but Arefa Tehsin
compelling characters whose special interests and force power through
“It’s a very rare
happening, you know, to escape from
a story. I couldn’t understand for a while how I had entered the real
Luckily, I found a cave to hide in. To my surprise and terror, I saw
A, the story keeper witch. And, you know, it was just out of habit that
the root from her. I didn’t even know it was the key to the Realm of
until she caught me yesterday and …"
would mean that the trio becomes trapped in this realm, to become
a series of
encounters mingle to create avenues of confusion and new possibility
trio, young readers will find the potentials and promises of this realm
as inviting as considerations of its impact on the broader environment
an inviting fantasy journey through legends and lore that tests the
characters as well as the Inventor's narrative.
Iora and the Realm
of Legends is Book 2 of the Iora’s
(Book 1 is Iora and the Quest of Five).
middle school readers seeking a vivid fantasy that weaves adventure
insights about family and friendship connections will find the quest
and the Realm of Legends a captivating read that traverses
opportunities and perceptions of changing the world and confronting
Return to Index
Mindy Bingham, Penelope Colville Paine and Sandy Stryker
Paper Posie Publishing Company
978-0-9707944-9-9 $19.95 Hardcover/$14.95 Paper
treasure of environmentally aware nursery rhymes originally appeared in
but remains as relevant to young audiences of modern times as it did in
past. It's a delight to see it reincarnated in 2023 in a lovely
illustrated with equally compelling and timeless art by Itoko Maeno.
to plants, animals, and the natural world brings each to life with a
twist of rhyme and insight that helps early learners absorb the basics
environmental importance and preservation. Today, more than ever, this
message needs to fall upon young ears; not deaf ones.
will find these twists on familiar nursery rhymes to be enlightening
educational, as well. Take the classic 'Little Miss Muffet' for an idea
nature, here, is represented as being appealing rather than threatening:
"Little Miss Muffet
Sat on her tuffet
Eating a berry sorbet
Along came a spider
Who sat down beside her
To frighten the houseflies away."
initially question why such approaches are tailored to babies and the
young, who are hardly in the position of becoming even early advocates.
reason is: because these are the future stewards of the world. There is
inappropriate time for starting this education and appreciation, much
developing cognizance about the importance of the world beyond human
This is why
compelling rhymes and focus of Mother
Nature Nursery Rhymes not only needs, but deserves a place in
library. Its ability to gently instruct and cultivate a better attitude
nature and its appreciation and preservation can't be introduced at a
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Mark M. Even
Cresting Wave Publishing
978-1-956048-21-6 $9.49 Paper/$1.99 ebook
The New Lizard Queen is the third book in the Dragonstone Story for
advanced elementary to
middle-grade fantasy readers. It continues the saga of Mandy Mandez and
cousins, who continue to employ their extraordinary abilities in
Their ability to fight crime alongside the FBI returns them from
(where they honed their powers in previous books) to the real world,
continue their education by using their powers in new ways.
events in the first two books lend to a feeling of continuity for
readers and a foundation of knowledge for newcomers to better
recall Mandy's family and evolving strengths.
nicely set for the confrontations they experience in The New
where a concurrent series of crises, from the rise of terrorists led by
sorceress to astronauts trapped on the moon, challenge them to
and how their abilities will best be utilized.
dragonstone's ability to help these young heroes transform to
gun-smugglers and giant lizards, the wizards and witches that permeate
story are varied and many as Mandy and her cohorts face battles,
forces, and the lasting impact of their efforts:
"Everyone was wary
of talking with her as she
continued to answer with emotional outbursts each time someone
battle in Macau. Each night, Mandy would leave the family and return to
Parasol. Sometimes, she would sit on the outer landing and watch the
the west, causing colors of oranges and purples in the sky. But after
nightfall, she would scan the stars above, looking for some sign of
what was to
become of her life."
The New Lizard Queen's special brand of rollicking adventure is
especially recommended for
fantasy readers interested in a blend of epic confrontation and
decisions that grow the participants in different ways.
readers seeking a series that sizzles with battles and magical insights
life's adversity will find The New Lizard Queen an
that's hard to put down.
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Nursery Rhymes for Kinder
Times - Volume 1
Kinder Times - Volume 1 reforms the classic blind mice rhyme
Kind Mice,' whose objective is to help others get cheese, say 'please',
identify their emotions, telling adults how they feel to mitigate
and encourage communications.
Three Kind Mice, the book includes additional updated rhymes, allowing
branch out and illustrate other acts of kindness, such as picking sweet
for Grandma and Teacher in "Ring Around Sweet Roses."
Other kids get into the mix
as they help Humpty Dumpty
and appreciate the artistic efforts of peers, with the introductory
coming out from hiding to present kids with find-the-mouse activity.
A facing page of emojis to
each story encourages kids to
think about how they would react to others and how they can identify
and show appreciation and gratitude to others.
The result is a fine
collection that updates eight
classic nursery rhymes to use the familiar to explore areas of
empathy and gratitude for the very young.
Educators and parents who
choose Nursery Rhymes for Kinder Times -
Volume 1 will find it attractive
for its many opportunities to explore higher-level thinking about
actions with preschoolers.
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Sammy & Scarlett's
Coral Reef Adventure
Robert Andrew Provan
$30.95 Hardcover/$20.95 Paper/$2.99 ebook
Scarlett's Coral Reef Adventure takes place in the Florida
involves a visit to the barrier reefs that lie off Florida's Eastern
perspective presented in this adventure comes not from human children,
a fish duo who explore their water world with an eye to revealing its
other underwater denizens, and its natural history.
Robert Andrew Provan pairs
an anthropomorphic perspective
with nature facts to create an attractive story filled with natural
insights about the area. The fishy adventures and encounters come to
illustrator Mary Wentzel's hand, adding colorful visual attraction to
remember—late in the afternoon, when the sun is low in the sky, the
and sharks begin feeding. You must always seek hiding places late in
and at night, or you may be eaten.”
will find that this survey of coral
reefs offers a different, more intimate perspective about undersea life
human influences on its quality and nature. Provan injects ecological
concerns seamlessly into the fish world, so the impact of plastic bags
ocean (for one example) hits home harder than it would in a typically
nonfictional survey of ocean life and ecology.
By personalizing the coral
reef world and presenting it
through the eyes of a pair of fishy adventurers, Provan creates a
world that comes to life in a more personal way than most undersea
Libraries and educators will
thus find that Sammy & Scarlett's
Coral Reef Adventure
embraces many themes of ecology and ocean preservation that will prove
better understanding, couched in the form of an adventure tale that
appeal to young audiences.
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$24.17 Hardcover/$15.99 Paper/$5.99 ebook
Stars & Swashbucklers is a young
adult steampunk story written
by a teen who is largely involved in the world of professional dance.
prowess at the written word and an exceptionally creative take on a
scenario in which Earth has been broken up into space 'islands' makes
compelling, visionary story that is a standout for not only its setting
action, but its humor.
exhibits this wry sense of humor from the start as she presents an
advertisement for the maiden space voyage of the starship Halthow, as
by 'average girl' Anya Marcox. She longs to be a privateer searching
Earth's relics from before The Breaking across space, but this is an
extraordinarily dangerous profession which also attracts monsters—and
brother would never allow.
airship journey she is embarking on will bring her in direct conflict
vision of being 'ordinary' and will also place her in a dangerous
becoming an active participant in the greatest treasure hunt of all
encounter with an alluring stranger draws her from her steerage passage
the heart of danger.
first-person story represents a powerful foray into the unexpected as a
four-hour journey that will lead to a new home turns into something
that haunt Anya's dreams to the reality that plagues her choices and
young adults will find themselves thoroughly and quickly immersed in a
supercharged not just by confrontations with monsters, but by new
about connections between upbringing and strengths.
secrets, considers another's promise to keep her safe, and experiences
changes in perceptions and involvements, readers will find her
realizations breathtakingly captivating:
"I know what kind of life Dax lives, what his role
in the Cavil
Bros. entails, but that doesn’t make it any less unsettling to hear it
mentioned so casually. It’s so easy to forget that the boy in front of
kill me in less than ten seconds if he felt like it. So easy to forget
wholly different from him I am."
lives for average girls." This
thought powers the story and constantly reminds Anya of her initial
life, but as she moves further and further away from their meaning, she
discovers an impact and adventure she never could have foreseen for
Neither will readers—and the added value of
this element of surprise and growth makes Stars
& Swashbucklers a strong recommendation for libraries
young adult readers seeking exceptional pairings of action and
in the sci-fi and steampunk worlds.
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in the Library!
979-8-9882939-1-0 $18.95 Hardcover/$17.95 Paper
There Are Dinosaurs in the Library!
presents Library Day, which is
a day young Alyssa particularly hates. But, how can you hate the
there are dinosaurs in it?
Barker leads a very skeptical child to the library and introduces a
book, which doesn't impress Alyssa at all. Until a confused-looking
leaps out of a book, leading a group of dinos to invade.
Not one to
leadership assume responsibility, Alyssa makes her move, introducing
into the scenario.
picture book story that is inviting and surprising on different levels
Alyssa receives some lessons on the library's attractions and Mrs.
illustrations by Octavio Cordova seals the deal with inviting
will earn the delight and attention of young picture book readers and
read-aloud parents looking for whimsical, fun lessons about dinos and
different form of magic, There Are
Dinosaurs in the Library! stands out as a lovely adventure
messages about adaptation, escapades, and the possibilities of entering
book's inviting world.
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Lydia P. Brownlow
$33.95 Hardcover/$20.99 Paper/$6.49 ebook
seeking stories that embrace elements of sci-fi paired with thriller
will welcome the fast-paced action and intrigue that permeates
seventeen-year-old Leigh's new world in Vermilion
"She’d never wanted to leave Earth. And yet, here
was—ninety-nine trillion kilometers from home. Part of humanity’s
settlement in a distant solar system, a colonization effort undertaken
teenagers because no one else could survive the cryosleep."
a compelling bang: Leigh awakens nauseous, covered in peach slime, and
about her situation. She's in a cryorecovery room awakening from a long
and has traveled ten light-years from home to be among the first
colonists in a
new world. She's been sleeping for thirteen years, and her memories
stolen. All she knows is that she needs to go home...
embeds her story with mystery and discovery. These two components drive
life towards unexpected discoveries as she interacts with fellow teen
and redefines what "home" really means.
world may not
be as new and unsullied as they expected, however. It brings with it
discoveries, realizations about their past and future, and even new
washed by the possibility of memories that will fill in the blanks and
the truth of their mission and lives.
philosophical, deeper-level thinking into the story which adds value
"She’d been the one to say, 'I think we should go,'
but when she’d
said it, she hadn’t thought about how going in search of one thing
leaving something else behind. She still thought they should go. But it
harder to leave than she’d imagined."
make Vermilion Sunrise a standout
teen sci-fi reading. As Leigh and Lex uncover their realities and
young adults will find their saga compelling and hard to put down.
Libraries seeking exceptionally powerful stories of new beginnings, new connections, and old truths will find Vermilion Sunrise a welcome collection addition.Vermilion Sunrise
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