Chanticleer Reviews Fall 2016

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Discovering Today’s Best Books

Chanticleer Reviews Fall 2016

Pulpwood Queen: Kathy Murphy

Book Reviews Awards Competitions Short Story Writer Horoscopes


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welcome

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Readers

Dear Authors and Readers of the Chanticleer Reviews Community,

Hosting two CACs within six months of each other was quite the feat, but now we will have until March 31st, 2017 for CAC17.

What a year! Thank you, each and every one of you, for making 2015 and the first half of 2016 the best ever for Chanticleer Reviews, and (knock on wood), it keeps getting better as we head into the second half!

Due to demand, we are now offering Editorial Services along with Trade Show Representation to authors and small presses at the Regional Bookseller Trade Shows. We plan to exhibit at the regional shows: PNBA, NCIBA, and MPIBA Fall 2016. Be sure to visit the Chanticleer Reviews website for more information.

Last year was a year of many firsts for Chanticleer Reviews. We received our first official press pass to cover Book Expo of America 2015 in New York City at the world renown Jacob Javitz Center. And we were invited back to cover BEA 2016 in Chicago in May. Be sure to check out our posts on the latest in the publishing industry news. The venerable 200-year-old Historic Novel Society bestowed the honor of “Literary Affiliate” on Chanticleer Reviews and requested that we announce the Chaucer Awards for Historic Fiction and the Laramie Awards for Western Fiction at their conference held in Denver, Colorado. Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, handed out the Chanticleer Blue Ribbons to the award winners on stage! We are looking forward to participating in the HNS 2017 conference. We upgraded the security of the Chanticleer website store to a “Premium EV SSL Secure Site.” We have been audited, notarized, sanctified, and encrypted by Starfield SSL certification, the highest level of protection that is available for internet transfer of data. And this came at no small cost. How SSL works: Secure Socket Layer certificates encrypt all the information going to and coming from Chanticleer Reviews, L.L.C. website, securing it from unauthorized interception and making sure that your information remains private. You can have peace of mind when you see that the URL address bar turns green with the padlock symbol on the left. There is also a blue Verified and Secured badge with a pop out window for further information about Chanticleer’s SSL blue certification on the left hand side of the menu bar–just under the Chanticleer logo. This premium (EV) SSL certificate assurance comes with a $1,000,000 warranty. We hosted the second annual Chanticleer Authors Conference in September with a sixty percent increase in attendance. This is always a fun and informative gathering! We have since moved the conference and awards banquet from September to April. Whew!

Also we have published two editions of the Chanticleer Reviews e-zine. And what you are reading is now the third edition! It is our goal to make the magazine available in print and to have it sold in retail stores across North America by 2018. But like writing a novel, the goal is achieved step by step, word by word. Last, but not least, we are preparing for the fourth annual Chanticleer Authors Conference and the fifth annual Chanticleer Awards Ceremony, along with the fifth annual Books Bay the Bay Book Fair. Publishers’ Weekly’s publisher Cevin Bryerman reached out to Chanticleer Reviews this past May about the possibility of PW participating in CAC17. Of course, I said YES, YES, and YES! PW has been published continuously, 51 issues a year, since 1872 and is considered to be the premier “International News Magazine of Book Publishing and Bookselling.” Cevin Bryerman will make a keynote presentation at CAC17 along with participating on panels. (Note: Cevin is pronounced the same as Kevin). We continue to grow by leaps and bounds here at Chanticleer Reviews. We appreciate your continued patience with our wonderful growing pains. We are fortunate to have them and you, loyal Chanticleerians! We have a tiny, but dedicated administrative team, and our reviewers are the best in the publishing industry. And where would we be without the writing contest judges? Theirs is a true labor of love and passion for the written word! Now that is a lot to CROW about! I hope that you find some new favorite authors in this issue. Enjoy! Keep on Writing and Reading! Kiffer Brown, Publisher Chanticleer Book Reviews & Media, L.L.C. – Discovering Today’s Best Books with Editorial Reviews and International Writing Competitions

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Table of Contents

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Contents Author Spotlight: Kathy Murphy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

REVIEWS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 VILLA of DECEIT: a Novel of Ancient Rome . . . 13 Threaten to Undo Us. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Defender of Jerusalem. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Fire at Will’s, Estela Nogales Mystery - Book 1. 16 Catherine’s Cross . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 The Devil’s Hook. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Destiny’s Second Chance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 The Lady and the Minstrel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Ameera, Unveiled . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 No Good Like It Is. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 God’s House . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Tarnished Hero . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Anonymous. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 The Maverick Effect. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 His Life Through My Eyes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28

“Pink Alder”

Brain. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

by Award winning author and artist Nancy Canyon www.nancycanyon.com

Blue: A Novel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 An Ex to Grind in Deadwood; Book #5 in the Deadwood Mystery series. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 The Ariadne Connection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 The Great Symmetry. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 The Treasure of Malaga Cove. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Little Guy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Writer Horoscopes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Awards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 The Mystery of the Little Match Girl by Seán Dwyer. . 48

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Cover Art:

17,000 Feet: A Story of Rebirth . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

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Ommision last issue: Cover story on Michael Hurley by Seán Dwyer


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where writers win Chanticleer Reviews Publisher Chanticleer Book Reviews & Media, L.L.C. Editor-in-Chief Kathryn Brown Creative Director & Production Rochelle Parry Consulting Magazine Advisor Sheila Webb, Ph.D. Senior Reviewers SJS Stanton, K. Hess, & Kiffer Brown Associate Reviewers P. Beason, D. Beaumier , L. Costantino, N. DPamela Beason, L. Costantino, Caitlin Curley, Spencer Ellsworth, A. J. Grantham, Carolyn Haley, Virginia Herrick, Jennifer Karchmer, Lacey M., Angie Mangino, M. McWhithey, J. Parry, Jordan Raney, Leona Rinaldi, Cory S., Barbara Bamberger Scott, Diane Sillan, Pete Socks, M. Stanton Interns Lacey Longpre The Chanticleer Reviews is an online magazine debuted October 2014. It is available by subscription and can be delivered to your email inbox. Please subscribe online at www. ChanticleerReviews.com Please send correspondence to Chanticleer Reviews & Media 1050 Larrabee Ave. Suite 104, #334 Bellingham, WA 98225 U.S.A. Advertising Information Advert@ChantiReviews.com E-mail Info@ChantiReviews.com Visit us on the web at www.ChanticleerReviews.com Founders Kathryn & Andrew Brown Add us on Google+ at +Chanticleer Book Reviews Follow us on Twitter @ChantiReviews Find us on Facebook Chanticleer Book Reviews All rights reserved. Copyright @2010 - 2016 Chanticleer Reviews & Media, L.L.C.

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Spotlight

TEXAS, TEXTS, AND TIARAS: A TALK WITH THE PULPWOOD QUEEN BY SEÁN DWYER

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athy L. Murphy is an accomplished hairdresser who happens to run the Pulpwood Queens, a book club with more than 600 chapters worldwide. The author of The Pulpwood Queens’ Tiara Wearing, Book Sharing Guide to Life, Murphy has been featured on the Oxygen Network (alongside Beyoncé), on Good Morning America, and in the pages of the Los Angeles Times. But best of all, the story of her rise to dominance in the book-club universe will soon be a DreamWorks book-to-movie feature film. It will be yet another successful boost to the Pulpwood Queens movement after a documentary, For the Love of Books, by filmmaker William Torgerson (2012), won the Audience Choice Award among the 50 films at the

Her reply shows complete understanding of her mission: “Nobody does. The thing about even authors, is that no one really knows who they are. The funny thing about the business, everybody might know what you’re doing, but they

Phenom International Film Festival in Shreveport/Bossier City, LA. The documentary is still on the festival circuit.

really don’t know who the person is. That’s

Murphy’s work has furthered the careers of writers, as well as increase the size and scope of the reading public. She is a former publisher’s rep who loves books and authors, making her an invaluable asset to the introverts who make up a huge percentage of the writing community.

I mentioned that a large public persona would

Her work is, to a degree, a covert operation. A less humble person might have ended the interview upon hearing my opening confession: “When I learned that Janet Oakley’s book had been named a Bonus Selection for the Pulpwood Queens, I knew of the organization, but I didn’t know who you were.”

And yet, among the members of the

fine with me. I’m just about promoting reading.”

interfere with her haircutting business. “Right,” she said. “I’m actually doing a haircut later this morning. That’s what I do for my bread and butter, run this hair salon/ bookstore.”

Pulpwood Queens reading chapters, she is revered as the Queen to a large coterie of princesses (and now, princes). It is not a matter of self-promotion; Murphy leads by example. All of her members wear tiaras, because they deserve them. She is the ultimate facilitator. She gives huge breaks to

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writers and gives readers a fun place to feel good about themselves while they read the books that Murphy chooses for each month with amazing perspicacity. Murphy somehow manages to maintain her awareness of what is going on in each of her 600 groups. When I mentioned a relative who had lost her hair to chemo, she said, “The American Cancer Society has places you can go that have wigs they will give. They also have seminars on how to take care of your skin and your hair when you’re going through chemotherapy. I went to that seminar because I’ve had so many of my book club members and clients with cancer. Right now, I’ve got ten with different bouts of cancer. That’s how I ended up getting on the Oxygen Network, because I said, ‘ who better than a beauty professional to say that bald is beautiful, and wigs are cool?’” She went on to talk about her views on inner beauty. “I think it’s ridiculous that society almost holds the view that if somebody has a shaved head, they kind of look away. It’s actually

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a style now, to shave your head. I did that seminar, and they came and filmed it. And I’m a hairdresser! But you know, it’s what we are on the inside.” Murphy’s promotion of inner beauty ties back into her book club. “My book club is called the Beauty Within Queens, because doesn’t everybody deserve to wear the crown? I’m sorry, but you’re just born with the genetics of your parents, and you can’t help the way you look, but you can help the way you are on the inside. That’s why, if you’re a reader, you’re going to be a better person, beautiful within. That’s why we wear the tiaras at our book club meetings. To remind us of that.” Murphy forms sisterhoods and brotherhoods that transcend the normal model of a book club. “I lost my job as a book publisher’s rep. I really thought I was going to be doing that job the rest of my life. But when all of the giant bookstore chains started popping up, all of my independent bookstores started closing. So the company I worked for decided


they didn’t need a rep for my territory. I was the last one hired, the first one let go. I was devastated. I love talking books and traveling. I wallowed in self-pity for a while, and then I called my sister, and I said, ‘What am I going to do?’ We live in a town that’s historical and touristy, but there wasn’t a bookstore or anything.” Her sister gives some career advice. “So she said, ‘Why don’t you reopen your hair salon?’ That’s how I’d been putting myself through college. I said, ‘I think I’ve done pretty much everything I can do. I think I’d be bored.’ And she said, ‘Do the bookstore thing too.’ And it’s like these bells went off, and I thought, that’s brilliant, because, what do you do when you go to the barber shop or the bookstore? You read a magazine or a book.” The journey to queendom started for Murphy when she was not invited to join a local book club, a surprising catalyst, given her book experience. As she tells it: “Shortly after I opened, the local book club invited me, I thought, to join them. I was

really excited because, when I was a book rep, I had to travel so much that I couldn’t be in a book club, not that I didn’t read like crazy. I went to the local book club, and I knew all these ladies very well, very upstanding citizens of the community. I was excited about the book, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, I couldn’t believe I’d read their book, and then, at the end of the luncheon meeting, everyone sipping cordials.” However, Murphy soon learned that her relationship to the book club members wasn’t what she thought it was. “I was so impressed. I asked, “What is everyone going to be reading next month?” It got dead quiet, and the hostess, a little bitty thing, jumped up, and she pulled me out into the hallway of her plantation home, and she whispered, Í don’t know how to tell you this, we didn’t invite you to join; we just invited you to be a guest. It’s not that we don’t want you in the book club; it’s just that we only have eight.’ That’s all that fit around her table. So unless someone dies or moves away…” “I was so embarrassed. I said I understood. I went back into the room, and nobody would make eye contact with me. I excused myself and left. I was hurt. Then I thought, ‘Who made up the rule that only eight could be in a book club?’ And if they invited me, how did we all fit around the table?”

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Murphy decided to take initiative and start a book club herself. “I thought to myself, ‘I’m home now. I’ll start my own book club! I put an ad in the paper, come out to my shop. Six women showed up, and they came, I found out later, because they thought it was a joke. They thought, ‘What could a Southern hairdresser know about books?’ “They’re all really good friends now, but they thought it was funny, because a hairdresser isn’t smart. I thought, ‘Who makes up these stereotypes?’ To this day, I have interviews where they ask, ‘Are you back combing hair, chewing gum?’ I say, ‘Really? Really?’ I’m trying to change these stereotypes.”

Murphy is “a force to be reckoned with.” A compassionate, wise champion of readers and, above all, women, she brings incredible empowering energy to the social aspect of literacy and mind-expansion through reading high-quality novels. www.beautyandthebook.com www.beautyandthebookshow.com www.pulpwoodqueen.comww Edtor’s Note: Kathy was a Keynote presenter at CAC16 and is slated to present again at CAC17. Kiffer Brown attended the 2016 Girlfriend Weekend in Nacogodoches, Texas and is planning on attending 2017’s event. Please email KBrown@ChantiReviews.com if you would like to join the Chanticleerian contingent!

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Our book reviews are grouped according to genre. Look for the graphic in the corner for the genre, and find the genre(s) below the rating. In this edition:

Chaucer

Mystery & Mayhem

Historical Fiction

Cozy Mystery

p. 13

p. 16

Chatelaine Romantic Fiction p. 19

Western Fiction

Clue

Journey

Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Narrative Non-Fiction

p. 23

p. 24

Somerset Contemporary, Mainstream, Literary Fiction p. 29

p. 27

Paranormal Supernatural Fiction p. 32

Cygnus

Children’s

Fantasy, Science Fiction

p. 36

p. 33

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Laramie

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“Singerton has done his research, and he paints a very accurate portrait of life for young men during first century B.C. Rome. ”

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Ron Singerton’s “Villa of Deceit” cleverly portrays the transition from the Roman Republic, which had a complex constitution with checks and balances, to the rise of the imperial dynasty of the Roman Empire, which would rule the next four hundred years with an iron hand, by using the microcosm of a Roman family to reflect the changes and undercurrents that were beginning to change the course of Western Civilization. The book opens with young Gaius, the hero of the story, intending to celebrate the last night of the Ludi Flores festival with his good friend Appian Dio. But that afternoon, he makes the mistake of attempting to intervene on behalf of a young slave Gaius’s tyrannical father, Toronius, is unfairly punishing. Gaius fails, earning the wrath of his father, and is also injured during the altercation. For Gaius, the incident is further proof of what he has known for some time: Toronius is a brutal man with few scruples, and in Gaius’ eyes, unfit to head the family or the family’s trade. However, the laws of first century B.C. Rome are of no help in deterring a man such as Toronius. And Gaius’s young mother, who escapes the suffocating rule of her husband by looking after her own interests, is no ally to her son. Not long after the incident with the young slave, Gaius falls in love with a female slave brought into the household. To save her from his father, Gaius convinces her to flee with him and is disinherited as a result. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes, leaving Gaius alone with young son. In Gaius, the author gives us a highly sympathetic character who, though young, is intelligent and moral enough to draw

conclusions about such unfair treatment of slaves, and brave enough to make difficult decisions in order to strive to live his life by a better standard. Forced into choices that carry consequences by the limited options available in those times, Gaius leaves the infant with a relative and joins the merciless military to try his luck at becoming a Roman Legionnaire. Singerton has done his research, and he paints a very accurate portrait of life for young men during first century B.C. Rome. Fathers demand that they come of age early in life, measuring their manhood and stamina by the number of women they bed in one night, and the amount of fear that they are able to strike into the hearts and minds of others. In 70 B.C. Rome, slaves and prostitutes are to be used and then discarded when no longer needed. A slave’s life has little value and is easily replaced by more prisoners who would be taken in the next cold-blooded military conquest. Imported to Roman households from far away lands, slave were young children, and the women who were sorted as to their best use in the eyes of their captors. Those captured who were of little use were instantly put to death. The Roman Empire would continue to conquer and expand its undisputed rule across three continents for the next four hundred years.

Rating:

The Book:

VILLA of DECEIT: a Novel of Ancient Rome The Author:

Ron Singerton Genre(s):

Historical Fiction Review:

K.Hess Publisher:

Penmore Press

“Villa of Deceit: a Novel of Ancient Rome” by Ron Singerton will keep readers turning the pages as the author vividly conveys the brutality and wanton disregard of life on and off the battlefield in this cleverly plotted historical novel that speaks to a time that would affect Western Civilization for the next millennium.

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“Caught between their birthrights on Polish soil and the call of the German fatherland they were stripped of their human rights and became refugees within their home country.”

Rating: none provided The Book:

Threaten to Undo Us The Author:

Rose Seiler Scott Genre(s):

20th Century Historical Fiction, Fiction Review:

Sherill Leonardi Publisher:

Promontory Press (2015)

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orn to an ethnic German family in Poland , Liesel Bauer is raised to appreciate the complex cultural differences of her tight-knit rural farming community. Friendships between families are generational, forged in the spirit of cooperation and extending back for centuries. But when politics turn to war Liesel learns that the bonds of shared lives are easily severed. Liesel’s story spans nearly three decades – from the time of the Bolshevik reprisals of 1919 through the aftermath of World War II. Her early years take place during a period of political calm, thus enabling the reader to follow Liesel’s growth from a clever and loving child to shy teen and, ultimately, to a woman who draws strength from both her faith and from her role as wife and mother. It’s with this strength that she will arm herself for the times ahead. As Hitler gathers his supporters and builds a case for war, Liesel’s town is cleaved in two. Neighbors lose trust in one another and friendships are dissolved. For the thousands of German families that have the foresight to leave Poland, an exodus is set in motion. Knowing no other life, Liesel and her family stay and she shows us that the bravest actions in war are rooted in the routines salvaged from everyday life. “Threaten to Undo Us” is a novel rich with meticulous historical detail mined from both

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primary and secondary sources. From the descriptions of daily farm life and cultural customs to the price that shifting political loyalties exacted on the war’s victims, the reader is immersed in a story that rings true on multiple levels. Author Rose Seiler Scott has delivered a thoughtful and vivid picture of the plight of ethnic Germans living in Poland during and after World War II. Caught between their birthrights on Polish soil and the call of the German fatherland they were stripped of their human rights and became refugees within their home country. Through the struggles of one woman and her family the author has crafted an homage to the millions of ethnic Germans, once living in Poland, who lost their property, their freedom and, in many instances, their lives. With a literary sleight of hand this quiet narrative deftly guides readers outside of their comfort zones, demanding that attention be paid to the follies of the past.

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[Reviewer’s Note: Historical Sources and Quote References are included.]


“These vibrant women make what could be a strictly dry, historical narrative leap off the page”

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efender of Jerusalem by is the second novel in Helena P. Schrader’s historical series about Balian d’Ibelin, a twelfth century crusader who rose from his position as a landless second son to become one of the most powerful figures in the kingdom of Jerusalem. In Schrader’s previous novel about Balian d’Ibelin, readers watched his young adulthood and rise to power at the side of the young leper king, Baldwin Now the Baron of Ibelin, a nobleman in his own right, Balian is married to Maria Comnena, the dowager Queen of Jerusalem and King Baldwin’s stepmother. Balian proves to be a dichotic leader as he was a forged-in-battle warrior and a supremely capable diplomat. Thus, Schrader’s story becomes one about Balian’s family life, focusing more on an ensemble cast of characters than just on Balian himself. As the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem struggles to maintain order and fend off the advances of Salah-ahDin’s forces, the characters are scattered throughout the kingdom. This makes for a more fragmented plotline than in the previous installment, thereby reflecting the internal and external political conflicts of the time along with the clash of cultures. There are several time jumps and switches in perspective throughout the work that may make it feel less cohesive, but they add to the authenticity of the era’s fractured communications.

The story at the center of the novel is King Baldwin’s desire to find an appropriate heir before his inevitable demise due to leprosy. With no clear path of succession, there is much court intrigue around this decision. It often comes down to the women in his life to influence his decisions or make their own way, and it is here that Schrader’s work really shines. The author presents her female characters, notably Maria, her daughter Isabella, and Balian’s niece, Eschiva, as powerful, independent women unwilling to let the constraints of the time keep them from helping the kingdom. Maria even commands troops and keeps her people safe during a siege. These vibrant women make what could be a strictly dry, historical narrative leap off the page. Schrader clearly knows her history, so devotees of medieval history will enjoy her occasional indulgence in the details of her research, focusing on troop movements or treaties rather than the characters. Schrader effectively strikes a balance between the need for historical accuracy and readability in the dialogue. Nevertheless, her writing deftly portrays the gamut of emotions of this turbulent time. Defender of Jerusalem is a well written biographical novel about a little known hero of the Crusades, Balian d’Ibelin, as he attempts to maintain power and order in the face of invading armies and the internal conflicts within Christendom.

Rating:

The Book:

Defender of Jerusalem The Author:

Helena P. Schrader Genre(s):

Historical Fiction Review:

Alyssa Morris Publisher:

Wheatmark (2015)

Schrader brings interesting and vivid historical characters to life by adding emotion and valor to her storytelling. Overall, readers who enjoy learning about the intricacies of the Crusades and prefer serious and wellresearched historical fiction will relish Schrader’s novels.

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“As the ashes settle, a body—thought to be Will’s—is found at the back of the house..”

Rating:

The Book:

Fire at Will’s, Estela Nogales Mystery - Book 1 The Author:

Cherie O’Boyle Genre(s):

Animal Cozy Mysteries, Contemporary, Cozy, Fiction, Humorous, Mysteryi Review:

Leona Rinaldi Publisher:

I Street Publisher

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hen a psychologist calls on her powers of observation to solve a murder, she uncovers a secret that some in her small eclectic Californian community would rather keep buried. Fire at Will’s by Cherie O’Boyle introduces Estela Nogales as an amateur sleuth with a wry sense of humor, a keen sense of observation, and two border collies as sidekicks in this engaging new cozy mystery series. Estela prides herself on doing a good job of navigating the petty grievances and animosities of her Arroyo Loco neighbors. And if it weren’t for a few rule ­enforcing cranks she and her beloved dogs could enjoy all of the open space and clean air that her picturesque, coastal mountain community has to offer. Will Rosenblum, the neighborhood’s biggest grouch, has made it a habit to stick his nose where it’s not wanted, going out of his way to ignite the ire of every one of his Arroyo Loco neighbors, so when his house goes up in flames suspicion lands in all directions, including at Estela’s feet. As the ashes settle, a body—thought to be Will’s—is found at the back of the house. Also, Will’s memory impaired wife is missing. A round of finger pointing brings

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everyone’s actions into question causing Estela to realize that the only way to clear her name is to launch her own investigation. With so many suspects Estela starts to wonder if Will’s demise could have been an orchestrated community effort. Armed with her knowledge of human behavior and sharp powers of observation Estela examines the motives and actions of each person in Arroyo Loco and discovers an ugly secret. In this first installment of the Estela Nogales series the author uses a small, isolated location with a captive, vocal population to skillfully address the question of how well we really know our neighbors or, for that matter, our friends. Although some are locked into mistrust and others prefer denial, Estela’s unwillingness to allow wrong to prevail compels her to reveal the inconvenient details buried beneath the public facade. With humor and keen insight into human nature, author Cherie O’Boyle offers up a clever cozy mystery filled with a varied and quirky cast of characters. From the strudel-­ baking Freda von Liesing to Arroyo Loco’s resident metaphysical hippie Sunshine Rainbow, each character is a classic slice of the diverse California lifestyle. O’Boyle’s inventive homage to the HOA rules-­gone-­ crazy communities springing up all over the country makes Fire at Will’s laugh-­out-­loud fun!

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“Jenks, who has always had a deep connection with her twin sister, can’t believe that Gigi’s death was accidental.”

M

ystery, romance, and the hunt for a long-lost artifact make Millie West’s second novel that is set in the South Carolina Low Country, an engrossing read. Writing in a leisurely pace echoing that of the novel’s southern setting, West begins her story with Jenks Ellington who, while watering ferns at her house in North Carolina one afternoon, experiences the moment of her twin sister’s drowning miles away in South Carolina. Gigi, a strong swimmer and experienced diver, disappeared while diving with her partner Frank Hillier in an area the two had been salvaging for artifacts. Jenks, who has always had a deep connection with her twin sister, can’t believe that Gigi’s death was accidental. The detective on the case, the handsome Seth Mason, is equally suspicious. The initial investigation finds nothing wrong with Gigi’s diving equipment, and the autopsy reveals that she had no drugs or alcohol in her blood stream. Mason also finds it suspicious that Frank Hillier, an experienced ex-Navy diver, has no explanation for why he lost track of Gigi during the dive. Almost immediately following the funeral, Jenks begins to have disturbing and inexplicable dreams about a woman wearing a golden cross. As Jenks begins to follow clues left behind by her twin, she finds herself drawn ever deeper into the history of the area and its inhabitants.

Rating:

The Book:

Catherine’s Cross The Author:

Millie West Jenks’ dreams. Is her sister trying to communicate with her from the afterlife? Each page of this romantic thriller is imbued with the natural beauty of the Carolina Low Country, its people, and its culture. Ms. West weaves its rich and intriguing history, along with the region’s distinctive manners and idiosyncrasies into her work. Readers (non-Southerners will need to remind themselves that they are immersed into the pacing of a good Southern tale) will find themselves unable to put down this intriguing southern mystery.

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Genre(s):

Cozy, Fiction, Mystery, Mystery Romance, Southern Literature Review:

K. Patterson Publisher:

Boutique of Quality Books (2013)

She discovers that Gigi had been in touch with Miss Meta, a local spiritual advisor, and that Gigi had been reading the old spiritualist’s family diaries. Those diaries mention a gold cross exactly like the one in

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“When a rash of mysterious gifts start showing up in the girls’ dorm rooms, Emory’s intuitive radar system goes on alert...

Rating:

The Book:

The Devil’s Hook The Author:

Pearl R. Meaker Genre(s):

Cozy, Fiction, Mystery Review:

Leona Rinaldi Publisher:

Promontory Press

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mpty-nester Emory Crawford is more than just a dab hand at home-making and fiber art. As a newly-installed instructor for the Twombly College crocheting class, she’s also mother hen, mentor, and counselor to her eager students. So when a rash of mysterious gifts, all in the color red, start showing up in the girls’ dorm rooms, Emory’s intuitive radar system goes on alert. Then one of Emory’s students, a recipient of the unwanted gifts, turns up missing and Emory is tasked with piecing together the meager clues left behind. In the spirit of calming frayed nerves, Emory consents to move the class from the college campus to the comfortable Twombly residence only to find that society maven Amy Twombly and her wealthy husband Jairus are locked in marital combat over Jairus’s new, and decidedly attractive, personal assistant. Between Amy’s erratic behavior and her shouting matches with Jairus’s assistant, Emory thinks things couldn’t get much worse – until she finds Amy’s custom-made, bloodwood crochet hook protruding from the eye of Jairus’s stone-cold dead assistant. With motive, means, and opportunity all pointing to Amy, Twombly’s antagonistic Police Captain Henry Schneider considers the case closed. But Emory’s gut tells her otherwise.

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In the search for the truth, Amy’s daughter Madison plays Nancy Drew to Emory’s Miss Marple. Using the full powers of her “Gift of Knowing” and a little help from her forensic scientist hubby, Emory and her sleuthing partner Madison unlock the secrets of the past and learn that not everyone is who they claim to be. In The Devil’s Hook, author Pearl R. Meaker delivers a fully-developed cast of rich, quirky characters that are sure to satisfy the discerning cozy mystery enthusiast. Her inquisitive and highly intuitive main character Emory Crawford, provides the perfect sounding board for all of the supporting characters and is a clever match to the brilliant young side-kick, Madison Twombly. The author also demonstrates a unique ability to illuminate the myriad facets of human relationships revealing, in the process, the similarities in all of us. Twists and turns abound in this delightfully engaging second installment of Pearl R. Meaker’s Emory Crawford mystery series. With the down home small town feel of Murder She Wrote and the multi-layered complexity of an Agatha Christie mystery, The Devil’s Hook is a cleverly-crafted and enjoyable whodunit style cozy mystery.

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“Bella finds a letter from her daughter’s adoptive father, Nolan Harris, giving her permission to contact Destiny, who is now twenty-one.”

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wo decades ago, librarian Isabella Campbell made the wrenching decision as a young, unwed mother to put her newborn child up for adoption. Though Bella wanted to keep her daughter, her rigid and disapproving parents insisted that a child needed both a mother and a father, not a single, inexperienced, teenage mother. Bella reluctantly agreed, but only if she was allowed to receive regular updates from the adoptive parents. The parents complied for a short period of time, but then Bella heard nothing more from them. Upon returning home from a business trip, Bella finds a letter from her daughter’s adoptive father, Nolan Harris, giving her permission to contact Destiny, who is now twenty-one. Bella is instantly thrown into emotional turmoil, thrilled yet very apprehensive. Would Destiny even want to meet or talk to her? Had her daughter’s adoptive mother, who had always disapproved of keeping Bella in their lives, continue to be a roadblock? And why had Nolan Harris chosen this moment in time to contact her after all these years? With a deft hand, author Kate Vale weaves this stressful, yet welcome complication into the daily events of Bella’s busy life—the distressing illness of a close friend who runs a local bookstore, the difficult relationship with her mother, who has never let Bella forget about her “little mistake”, and, of course, the new romantic interest in Bella’s life, Gavin, the nephew of her elderly ill friend. The result is a compelling novel rich in detail, heart-warming in its delicate yet realistic portrayal of the impact of adoption on all the lives it touches. Vale has a real talent for drawing characters one wants to get to

Rating:

The Book:

Destiny’s Second Chance The Author:

Kate Vale Genre(s):

know, and for understanding the emotional impact of the events that shape our lives. Destiny’s Second Chance draws the reader in from the very beginning, providing a thoughtful and satisfying story about people who feel like close friends. Life is messy, and life-altering decisions are never just good or bad, but rather create a mixture of emotions that run the gamut from satisfaction that one perhaps made the right decision, to guilt or despair over the toll that decision has taken in the intervening years. Vale understands this, and has described these conflicting emotions beautifully.

Contemporary, Contemporary Social Issues, Romance, Women’s Contemporary Fiction Review:

Marion Spicher Publisher:

Promontory Press (2015)

This book will stay with readers long after they put it down. Highly recommended for those who enjoy women’s fiction and stories of family relationships..

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“Trapped and powerless, Marguerite turns to the only man who may be able to help her, Robert Marcel, a traveling minstrel.”

Rating:

The Book:

The Lady and the Minstrel The Author:

Joyce DiPastena Genre(s):

Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance Review:

K. Hess Publisher:

Sable Tyger Books (2015)

I

n this delightful medieval romance, a spirited lady and a vagabond minstrel with a penchant for trouble engage in a battle of wills with a powerful earl in King John’s court. Ranulf de Villon, baron of Ashbury Castle and a hard, cruel man, has engineered the betrothal of his daughter, Marguerite of Winbourne, to the ruthless, licentious Earl of Saxton, favored counselor to King John. The proposed marriage is one of political expediency for all concerned: Ranulf gains prestige by arranging an alliance with the most powerful earl of the land, and Saxton will use income from the estate that comes to him with Marguerite’s dowry to curry favor with King John. Though Marguerite loathes Saxton and has the right—as stated in her grandfather’s will—to refuse Saxton’s hand in marriage, Ranulf has made certain that no one can get news of Marguerite’s plight to the proper authorities before she is wed. Ranulf’s wife Leah, Marguerite’s mother, is too afraid of her husband’s violent tendencies to side with her daughter against him. Marguerite’s cousin Richard, who cares deeply for her, is horrified by the prospect of the match and willing to cross Ranulf, but Ranulf’s men are watching his every move.

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Trapped and powerless, Marguerite turns to the only man who may be able to help her, Robert Marcel, a traveling minstrel. DiPastena has once again crafted another epic tale of romance and intrigue in thirteenth century England during the reign of King John. France and England have been at war for years, and the king requires a stream of unlimited funds for his campaigns to take back the duchy of Normandy. Women such as Marguerite are viewed as property, as chattels used to produce heirs and to provide assets through their dowries. Members of the peerage survive and hold onto their ancestral lands only by paying court to an ambitious and merciless king. The Lady and the Minstrel is the story of two star-crossed lovers, Marguerite and Robert, and their struggle to survive in the face of the ruthless ambitions and political conspiracies that are the order of the day. DiPastena has crafted a rich story world that immerses the reader in the culture, the politics, and the language of thirteenth century England. Meticulously researched and deftly told, this historical novel will captivate readers of this genre.

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“Readers are then taken on a rollicking jaunt through India, with a group of self-important musicians and tourists in tow”

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our guide in India and a practitioner of Healing Touch, Sonia has a country farmhouse in Nashville, loyal friends, a generous but unfaithful husband, a flame on the other side of the world who seems to have forgotten her, and … breast cancer. This highly engaging story, Part 3 of the series Romantic India by author Martha Rather, begins with Sonia burning up her “chemo pajamas” with her best friend, Clara Mae, in a wild “Freedom Fire Ceremony.” We learn in flashbacks the very real fear and agony Sonia experienced in her two-year struggle with breast cancer, losing her memory and almost losing her mind. Now she faces losing Carl, her antique dealer hubby, who prowls for old furniture by day and sweet young things by night. Sonia pals around with a lawyer friend, Bob, though she dreams, frustrated, of handsome Raj, her fellow tour guide and Indian prince who, she is told, is about to get married on the other side of the world. When Sonia and her friends are tapped to squire some struggling musicians across India, it’s a chance to re-establish trust with the still-single Raj, break with Carl forever, and watch the haunting dreams of previous lifetimes unfold in this one. Following the old dictum that writers should write about what they know, the author, like her heroine Sonia, has roots in South Dakota, lives in Nashville, has traveled extensively in India, and is a practitioner/instructor for Healing Touch

International. Martha Rather writes in a wonderful girlfriend manner as though she is a dear friend catching us up on the latest happenings. She also seems as much at home with Southern accents as with Hindi street talk. Settings, too, are a highlight, from a plain old Tennessee farmhouse to the romantic majesty of the Taj Mahal. There is rarely a moment when the action lags. The first half of the book, with its vivid descriptions of Sonia’s battle with chemo and radiation treatments, projects a depth of selfexploration and insights. Readers are then taken on a rollicking jaunt through India, with a group of self-important musicians and tourists in tow, for the second half of the story. Nonetheless, Martha Rather is careful to keep emotions and libidos always on the boil for her intended readers who enjoy stories filled with intrigue, romance, friendships, adventures, handsome princes, and, maybe, a flirtatious elephant thrown into the mix.

Rating:

The Book:

Kismet or Kamasutra, Book 3 in the Romantic India series The Author:

Martha Rather Genre(s):

Chick Lit, Fiction, Follow Your Dreams/ Inspirational, Romance, Senuous Review:

Barbara Bamberger Scott Publisher:

Wild Hickory Publishers (2013)

Kismet or Kamasutra is a journey of selfdiscovery and the possibility of changing one’s stars. Kismet means destiny; fate and Kamasutra mean desire, but which one will win out? In this uplifting and transporting novel of love and connection, Sonia and Raj must confront their worst fears and the fateful patterns that started a thousand years before.

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“Kat realizes it’s not about a lack of talent that is holding her back, but her own self-doubt...”

A

Rating:

The Book:

Ameera, Unveiled The Author:

Kathleen Varn Genre(s):

Chick Lit, Contemporary, Contemporary Social Issues, Fiction, Follow Your Dreams/ Inspirational, Humorous, Motivational Fiction Review:

T. Mitchell Publisher:

BQB Publishing (2013)

meera, Unveiled is inspirational story of how, with courage to chase her dreams, Kat transforms herself to become Ameera, the exotic belly dancer of the Palmetto Oasis Middle Eastern Dance Troupe. This is a story about of how exhilarating and frightening it feels to take yourself out of your comfort zone and chase your dreams, and the amazing experiences you can have just by trying. Kat spent most of her life doubting herself and her abilities–especially her ability to learn how to dance. Now at the age of 48, she finally feels comfortable enough in her life to finally pursue her dream of dancing by enrolling in a belly dancing class taught through the local high school. Through each lesson she timidly works up the courage not only to learn to dance, but to discard the self-doubt that she had burdened herself with for too long. Kat finds herself having to battle with her inner-critic’s heavy doses of self-doubt, and anxiety. The story reflects on how some women allow their inner critic to dictate their lives for far too long. Kat’s journey is about how hard it is to overcome years of believing you aren’t good enough to do something, but how what happens when you go ignore your inner self critic and follow your dreams. Kat realizes it’s not about a lack of talent that is holding her back, but her own self-doubt. The author, Kathleen Varn, skillfully weaves scenes of everyday women transforming

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into exotic belly dancers. She vividly portrays, with detailed descriptions of their wellpracticed routines and dance moves, and how through their diligence they are able to wow their audiences. The dancers develop such a strong sense of individualism and self worth as they learn to move in exotic ways. The delightful interactions between each of the dancers is inspirational as they bond as a troupe.The camaraderie developed within the troupe is one of friendship and support that only a sisterhood of girlfriends could create. And the troupe will need all the support and confidence that they can muster when they are surprised by one of their dance gigs when it turns out to be held at a clothing optional resort in Jamaica. Kat finds herself out of comfort zone in more ways than one as do several others of the sisterhood. But with each other for friendship and motivation, they are all empowered to explore, take chances, and believe in themselves. Ameera, Unveiled by Kathleen Varn, is a coming of age story of a diverse group of middle-aged woman supporting each other to follow their dreams and to go outside their comfort zones and routines. Reading Kat’s journey made me want to put on a shimmery scarf, an exotic flowing skirt, and learn to move in a fashion beyond my own comfort zone. It is an inspiring and fun story that reminds us that it is never too late to pursue your dreams and unlock your inner goddess.

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“Walls and Melton embody the best of human values, exemplified through the valor of their actions...”

I

n his meticulously researched, debut historical Western, McKendree Long takes the reader on a journey to the Civil War era, as experienced by homesteaders and soldiers in the far-flung outposts of the Old West. A must-read for fans of the genre! Second Lieutenant Thomas “Dobey” Walls, a West Point Graduate, and Corporal Jimmy Melton, a non-commissioned soldier, meet at the military outpost of Fort Gibson, just off the Arkansas River, in 1859. As they work side-by-side to protect wagon trains traveling through their territory, fighting off roaming bands of raiders and Kansas “Jayhawkers,” the two men become fast friends. No Good Like It Is follows the daily lives of these men as they work at the Old West outposts, journey to Texas to join up with the famous Texas Terry’s Rangers during the Civil War, and ultimately search for the remaining members of a Wall’s homesteading family in the wilds of Texas Panhandle country. Long’s gifted ear for the true vernacular of the time and his detailed descriptions of the Old West place the reader right in the middle of the action along with these two men and the colorful characters they encounter during their adventures.

Walls and Melton embody the best of human values, exemplified through the valor of their actions, their honesty, and their determination to fight for what they believe to be just and right. These men leap off the page, remaining memorable long after the reader finishes the book. But above all, this is the story of men who meet and become friends, and whose characters are shaped by a series of dramatic historical events that defined our country. This novel goes beyond the typically simplistic view of the Civil War, delving into the divided loyalties of the homesteaders in the American West who found their families and friends fighting on opposite sides of the war. Long accurately portrays the dangers and shifting alliances of the Old West during the war, exposing the reader to a very different view of the war’s effects on the western states. No Good Like It Is, the first of three gritty action-packed novels that follow the adventures of Dobey Walls and Jimmy Melton, well written with historical accuracy and authentic dialog. Readers will be eager for the sequels..

Rating:

The Book:

No Good Like It Is The Author:

McKendree Long Genre(s):

Adventure Western, Classic Western, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Military, Southern Literature, Western, Western Fiction Review:

K. Hess Publisher:

McKendree Long

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“One clue keeps him going: a message ... to his late wife that is hidden in some kind of cipher, tucked away in the pages of a cheesy novel.”

J

Rating:

The Book:

God’s House The Author:

John Trudel Genre(s):

Crime Thriller, Eco-mystery/ suspense, Mystery, Spy Review:

J. Parry Publisher:

Amazon Digital Services

ack Donner can’t get a break. He blames himself for the deaths of those he was close to, and even one he was hired to protect. While bringing the body home from the Middle East, he gets detained in the United States by low level agents over a missing stamp in his passport. Worse yet, he has to use his real identity this time. While his CIA connections eventually get him out of hot water, his troubles are only beginning. The body Jack brings home belongs to a man who had the technology that could change the world’s power balance forever. A system that produces efficient, clean energy, but could also be used as a weapon of mass destruction. The company behind it, Enertech, was attacked in Lagos where it lost most of its staff. A young, attractive widow, Anne, is left with the assets, but she wasn’t involved with operations. She has no idea what her husband was working on. Jack planned on retiring, but is talked into staying on as a private citizen commissioned to recover Enertech’s technology along with trying to keep Anne safe during the process. Anne and her late husband, Bob, were members and supporters of a local mega-church called The Sanctuary, run by a charismatic woman, Liz, with ties to nefarious foreigners. Liz speaks at the United Nations, visits the Dalai Lama frequently, and spreads the gospel of wealth, non-violence, and world peace. Anne turns to Liz and a few close friends for emotional support during this difficult time. She also turns over everything she knows about the company to Jack. This leaves him

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with a lot of data and few answers, and puts him under the scrutiny of watchful eyes at The Sanctuary. Things are not right around Anne’s empty estate. Jack needs help to keep her and himself safe, but there are never quite enough resources at his employer’s disposal to do so. While trained in firearms, he’s not a huge fan of them. He’s more of a technologist than a soldier. Enertech faces bankruptcy. The pressure to sell to a foreign investor is on, starting a race against time. Problem is, Jack can’t find the answers needed to unlock the key to the technology. One clue keeps him going: a message from Bob to his late wife that is hidden in some kind of cipher, tucked away in the pages of a cheesy novel. Anne and Jack start developing their own story, though Jack has reservations about getting romantically involved. Everyone he cares about ends up dead. He’s seen too much bloodshed to risk another loss. He about earns a frequent-user pass to the ER trying to protect Anne, and now he has to keep both her and her only close relative out of danger in Brazil. Will Jack be able to come through for Anne and Enertech? The stakes are high in both cases. Those Anne trusts raise doubts about Jack. He has doubts about himself, recalling many episodes revealing the horrors of non-staged, real life gunfire and bloodshed, losing friends in wartime. Continued page 26 ➥


“While conjuring up his street smarts, Kelly learned about the value of choosing loyalty to friends over that of authority...”

T

im Kelly grew up in 1960s Galveston, Texas, a border city with a long history of being terrorized into lawlessness by drug cartels from Northern Mexico. He left home at the age of fourteen to escape the unacceptable behavior of a ne’er-do-well father. While conjuring up his street smarts, Kelly learned about the value of choosing loyalty to friends over that of authority from a couple of highly disparate mentors: Rodolfo Guzman, a cartel leader, and Dave Holt, a local sheriff. Kelly shouts the sixties mantra of “question authority” with the consequences-bedamned recklessness of a young man who will be true to his heart, even if it lands him into chaos. Indeed, trouble will stick to him like maggots to a dismembered body in Jim Gilliam’s sweaty guns n’ ammo action thriller Tarnished Hero. As a Petty Officer in the United States Coast Guard, Kelly demonstrates his lack of respect for authority with extreme prejudice, enough to land him in a courtsmartial. It is only with reference to his acts of bravery in Vietnam that his defenders are able to keep him out of prison. That will not be good enough for his accusers who, in a wink toward the militaryindustrial complex, decide to splice this knowledge of his grace under pressure into an offer that he cannot refuse: Kelly can walk free after completing the dangerous mission of infiltrating and destroying a drug cartel, that of Rodolfo Guzman, the man who had always been like a father to

him. At the same time, Kelly’s fiancée is in a coma after becoming collateral damage in a brutal combat between the Campechee and Sineloa drug cartel. It is when Kelly accepts an open invitation to spend some time in Guzman’s drug palace in Northern Mexico that his code of “trusting friends first” will force him to face not only the dilemma of a loyalty to be divided between Guzman and Dave Holt, but also of being thrust into a senseless and bloody border war that has more than a few parallels to the Vietnam conflict. As such, Gilliam’s novel stands not only as a complex and intriguing “band of brothers” romp, but also as a reflection on the evils of unquestioned authority and corruption. Tarnished Hero is abundant with colorful heroes and villains. The author is deft at offering them various poses on his goodguy to bad-guy continuum and he paces his quick narrative with enough twists and surprises to sustain interest. However, it is important to point out that this will be for most people a “guy” book, one that offers up the kind of violence and gore that its subject requires for credibility. Also, readers are warned that some female characters are portrayed as rather one-dimensional boy-toys, perhaps as a nod to that common stereotype of the era.

Rating:

The Book:

Tarnished Hero The Author:

Jim Gilliam Genre(s):

Crime Thriller, Military, Thriller/ Suspense Review:

L Wilson Hunt Publisher:

California Times Publishing, Los Angeles (2014)

That being said, Tarnished Hero is a thriller that can more than holds its own as an engrossing entertainment for fans of the genre.

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“She’s terrified that her mind, like her mother’s, is beginning to crack..”

Rating:

The Book:

Anonymous The Author:

Christine Benedict Genre(s):

Thriller/Suspense Review:

Leona Rinaldi Publisher:

Loconeal Select (2014)

N

o one suspected the things her mother had done,” but Debra Hamilton knows full well what skeletons lurk in her past, and she’s spent a lifetime putting distance between herself and the crimes of her schizophrenic mother. With the potential of mental illness lodged like a genetic time bomb in every cell of her body, Debra lives in constant fear that she’ll follow in her mother’s footsteps. So when things go missing and Debra starts hearing noises in the 100 year-old fixer-upper that she and her husband Greg bought, she’s terrified that her mind, like her mother’s, is beginning to crack. Debra’s pragmatic neighbor, Julie, delivers her own brand of common sense in dealing with the “events” that continue to occur in the old farmhouse. Julie’s skepticism turns to concern and then fear as she experiences, first-hand, the otherworldly presence plaguing Debra’s life. Then Julie’s fears mount when she starts receiving graphic, sexually-charged letters from an anonymous stalker. As the intent of the letters becomes darker and more menacing, Debra’s and Julie’s worlds collide in ways they’ve never imagined. Part ghost story, part psychological thriller, Christine Benedict’s Anonymous illuminates the bond forged between two women, both survivors of a traumatic past, who become unlikely allies in the fight for their lives. In Anonymous, author Christine Benedict has created a world rich in character. Through the use of flashbacks she invites

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the reader to learn more about the two main characters, Debra Hamilton and Julie Zourenger, allowing the reader to identify with each of the women. The author also breathes life into the subsidiary characters. Debra’s supportive and loving husband, Greg, is skillfully counterbalanced by Julie’s angry, verbally abusive husband, Kyle. As to the genesis of the anonymous stalker, his history will leave readers wondering about things that go bump in the night. It’s chilling to know that all the letters in the novel are from the man who stalked the author twenty-plus years ago, and he still remains anonymous as of today. With a new plot twist around every corner, the author delivers a complex story of obsession and jealousy that will keep the reader turning page after satisfying page. Since its release, Christine Benedict’s novel Anonymous has received stunning accolades and was shortlisted for a variety of literary awards. Fans of literary heavyweights A.M. Homes (“The End of Alice”) and Robert Clark (“Mr. White’s Confession”) will find that Christine Benedict’s Anonymous hits all the marks for an engrossing, edge-of-yourseat read.

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Reviewer’s note: This book contains graphic violence and adult content.


“Overnight success” can take years, so persistence is essential...

H

ave you ever wondered what makes you different from others? Why you’ve always had the urge to “go against the herd”? Why the “popular” kids who snubbed you in school seem to go nowhere after graduation, while you still have an urge to accomplish something great, no matter what it takes? It may be the Maverick Effect, an intriguing theory conceived by entrepreneur and self-styled maverick George Verdolaga. Verdolaga makes an important distinction between “mavericks” and “hipsters.” Hipsters look cool, revel in their popularity, but fade out fast—because they are really only followers, chasing the latest trends in fashion or tech. Mavericks are the ones who actually establish those trends. People with maverick personalities may have a hard time at first, driven by weird artistic and intellectual interests that set them uncomfortably apart. However, they are the real winners, Verdolaga asserts, once they realize their true potential, “finding their way over, around or under” the barriers that society has put in their path. The author gives many pertinent examples of the maverick effect among unusual people throughout history: Pythagoras, Caravaggio, even Jesus, were ahead of the curve, misunderstood and scorned by the conventional thinkers of their day. J. K. Rowling was a divorced single mom living on welfare when she conceptualized Harry Potter and his magical universe. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, all were considered nerds when they were young. People destined for maverick greatness never say, “I give up,” “It’s too hard,” or “I’m too busy.” They aren’t distracted by what the crowd wants, but rather, “fearlessly

Rating:

The Book:

The Maverick Effect The Author:

George Verdolaga embrace challenges and become the catalysts that spearhead the new initiative for change.” This motivational guide is organized with business-like competence by someone who has “walked the walk”—Verdolaga left the family business his parents had built for him, choosing instead to carve out his own highly lucrative path through the corporate world.

Genre(s):

Non-Fiction Review:

Barbara Bamberger Scott| Publisher:

Promontory Press (2015)

He offers sound, step-by-step advice for those willing to break out of their comfort zone every single day to promote their groundbreaking ideas. He sets forth, with numerous case studies and a lengthy bibliography, the skills needed to manifest the maverick effect: “overnight success” can take years, so persistence is essential, along with training in public speaking to convince others of the feasibility of one’s projects. Words of wisdom from a successful pacesetter, The Maverick Effect will inspire the hidden innovators among us to invent, initiate, and innovate.

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“Rahimi touches on the sociopolitical controversy and turmoil that surrounded Tupac during his life..”

I

Rating:

The Book:

His Life Through My Eyes The Author:

Gobi Rahmi Genre(s):

Contemporary, Contemporary Social Issues, NonFiction Review:

Jordan Zedler Publisher:

Promontory Press (2015)

n the early ‘90s, up-and-coming artist Tupac Shakur was taking the rap industry by storm. Known for his electric energy and controversial lyrics, his music focused largely on social injustices and oppression. Equally notorious for the brilliance of his music and for his frequent problems with gang violence and the law, he accrued a large and passionate community of listeners and fans. When he was killed in a drive-by shooting at the young age of 25 in 1996, his legacy as a well-known and respected voice within the genre lived on. In the book His Life Through My Eyes, filmmaker Gobi Rahimi, who worked continually with Tupac in the months preceding his death, offers a unique glimpse into the artist’s day-to-day life. Sparing no detail, Rahimi takes the reader on an intimate and emotional journey through his memories of the times spent with Tupac, aided by photographs he took during the time. Rahimi tells the story of how he came to work with Tupac and become his close friend. IThis book is shamelessly personal; it is as much about Rahimi’s journey to process Tupac’s death and honor his legacy as it

is about Tupac himself. This is to Rahimi’s credit, though. What might otherwise feel like a series of empty anecdotes is bonded by Rahimi’s laudable honesty and openness with regards to his grief and admiration for Tupac. Rahimi touches on the sociopolitical controversy and turmoil that surrounded Tupac during his life, and does not gloss over Tupac’s struggles with racism in the music industry. However, his focus is much more on Tupac as a human being than as a public figure. Rather than recounting details of his friend’s public persona, he centers on portraying the man he knew. In many ways, the book reads very much like a series of diary entries. Some may find Rahimi’s accounts somewhat chaotically organized, but overall the stories provide captivating, interesting, and thoughtprovoking insights into Shakur’s life. Rahimi’s respect and love for his friend ultimately shine through. Engaging, personal, and deeply felt, Rahimi’s tribute to Tupac Shakur will be sure to move those interested in his legacy.

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God’s House Continued from p. 24 One of the character’s German accent reads so spot-on you almost hear it. Those who follow events in the Middle East will resonate with John’s novels. His novels seem more fact than fiction; they lend credence to Trudel’s tagline: “Thrillers are fiction until it happens.”

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This fast-paced thriller will have you turning pages quickly to piece together puzzles with surprising twists. You would never know that John Trudel’s God’s House is his debut novel. It reads like it was written by a seasoned author.

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“As they ascend, Jo and Squibb spar, share, and commiserate, while he gradually, gruffly, fills in a more human, ameliorative portrait...”

W

hat do you do after you’ve done all you can? Jo Packwood, marine biologist at the top of her professional game, decides to climb Mt. Olympia, all 17,000 feet of it, looking for clues to her blighted childhood and facing the cold mists of her future The book begins on the trail up the mountain. Jo is accompanied by Solomon, nicknamed Squibb, her long-lost uncle, the person most likely to help her reconnect spiritually with her father Papi, or Nelson, who abandoned her and her mother when she was a small child. Why?—Jo has only vague memories to rely on, most of them painting a scurrilous impression of Nelson—a decorated soldier, yes, but a reckless rake and deceiver. Jo has recently placed her mother, increasingly isolated by Alzheimer’s, in a nursing home, evoking guilt, as well as frustration at the lack of information about the fractured family. As they ascend, Jo and Squibb spar, share, and commiserate, while he gradually, gruffly, fills in a more human, ameliorative portrait of Nelson, who disappeared, presumed dead in an avalanche, on the very mountain they are climbing. Squibb is a reluctant mentor whose advice will reverberate for Jo at a critical moment: “Life isn’t a sprint, sugar pie. It’s about bases: you get to each for the grand slam homerun.” Loss of radio contact with a group of hikers up ahead, hallucinations possibly brought on by oxygen deprivation, and the horrifying discovery of a cache of

frozen corpses (could Nelson’s be among them?) stymie the pair, with worse to come. Fox Deatry, media executive and author (American Witches: An American Witch in New York City), tells Jo’s story in flashbacks as she hikes up Mt. Olympia: her discouraging visit with her deluded mother; her mentoring moment with a female cleric; an unexpected talk with one of her father’s old war buddies; and her introduction to Solomon/Squibb who will challenge her to conquer the mountain that killed her father (“Up there, you’ll experience unexpected things”). Deatry’s descriptive prose shows practiced sophistication, and he conveys ordinary conversation believably. The plot is well constructed, and readers may appreciate the story’s close adherence to the classic concept of the hero’s journey: reluctance at the outset, fateful guidance, life-threatening peril, all leading, as the subtitle references, to rebirth, in a most surprising, cinematic conclusion. 17,000 Feet, an adventure combining real time, powerful memory and lush imagination, offers a heroine in crisis coming to terms with her life’s big questions by taking courage and, finally, taking charge.

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Rating:

The Book:

17,000 Feet: A Story of Rebirth The Author:

Fox Deatry Genre(s):

Contemporary, Contemporary Social Issues, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Travel Adventure, Women’s Contemporary Fiction Review:

Barbara Bamberger Scott Publisher:

Founding Frame

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“He had such strong feelings of loneliness that he often thought of himself as an alien trapped on the wrong planet...”

D

Rating:

The Book:

Brain The Author:

Dermot Davis Genre(s):

Humorous, Mystery, Romance Review:

L Wilson Hunt Publisher:

Expression Unleashed Publishing (2013)

aniel Waterstone has every intention of writing the Great American Novel, and in doing so, he is going to set the ignorant, crazy mass of modern readers straight on what constitutes great literature. But, after two improbable, failed “masterpieces,” his publisher, the delightfully savvy Suzanne, has told him that success and recognition will best be served by his authoring a book that some of the “great-unwashed” might actually be interested in reading. Daniel likes the idea but is clueless about how to proceed The product of coldly academic and overprotective parents, Daniel entered adulthood as a cynic with a dislike for people, a fear of women, and a conviction that everyone except him was crazy. He had such strong feelings of loneliness that he often thought of himself as an alien trapped on the wrong planet. Although highly-degreed in literature, the rigidly naïve Mr. Waterstone will soon learn that he is obligated to finish one final course: Life 101. And if he is willing to take his lessons, life just might have a little something up its sleeve for him. Daniel quickly finds a theme for the book that will liberate him from poverty and his sense of failure; he enters a bookstore where a flamboyant and somewhat other-worldly writer of self-help books is preaching his gospel to an enchanted crowd. When Daniel calls him out as an opportunistic fraud, the guru challenges him to engage in a “mind-meld” that will supposedly free Daniel from some of his hang-ups. Amused and seemingly unaffected, Daniel leaves the store cradling an idea for the book that will please the masses: he will write, under a pseudonym, a satire that

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exposes the pop-psychology industry for what he thinks it is: a total lie, an insult to crazy people done by crazy people. Ironically, his satire becomes the kind of blockbuster success that brings him riches and fame, but at a cost, as author Dermot Davis is happy to tell us all about in Brain: The Man Who Wrote the Book That Changed the World, his mystical and joyous tale of personal growth and fulfillment in the modern age. “Crazy,” the word, the notion, the concept, is the spine from which flows the energy of Davis’ often tonguein-cheek fairy tale, its relevance grounded in the infinite variability of human experience, and its ability to score a few points for emotion in the seemingly endless skirmish between skepticism and belief. Score more points for the stubborn and ineffective Daniel if he can revise the “me-versus-them” definition of “crazy” that has him strapped to the cheap seats of human experience. And, could there be a better word than “crazy” to carry the torch of enlightenment into the shadows of our increasingly soulless and programmed culture? Probably not, at least in Davis’ jauntily addictive narrative, an arena in which he holds court with the majesty of an imaginative, accomplished humorist. I was not surprised to learn that the author is also a playwright, as his marvelously crafted characters and sets quickly acquire the kind of three-dimensional believability that one expects to encounter in a live theatrical performance or, according to my mind’s eye, a movie (complete with an endearingly haunting soundtrack and a reincarnated Jack Lemmon in the lead role!). Continued next page ➥


“As those memories surface, her current life begins to deteriorate...”

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his lyrically written, beautiful story of three emotionally broken yet connected women begins in present day, illustrating the current struggles each faces to simply hold it together and get through each day. The tale then slowly unravels—as these women’s lives unravel— to reveal the mystery in their past that connects them. We meet Izabel—a young woman who arrived on Shaw Island in Washington State without any memory of her life up to that point. Taken in and cared for by the nuns, she then trained as a doula, a birthing coach. Izabel now lives on Orcas Island and is a valued member of the community, but it soon becomes apparent that she is struggling with the re-emergence of repressed memories. As those memories surface, her current life begins to deteriorate: She dreams of a teenage girl, experiences birthing pains after a particularly difficult night with one of her clients, and almost melts down in a coffee shop when a name mentioned by a friend sounds horribly familiar. Izabel knows that she must deal with whatever is happening to her and turns to a close friend and mentor for help. Not far away in Seattle, we meet Monica, a single, clinically depressed woman with a closeted addiction. Her life is unraveling, and she has no idea how to put it back together. Through a sequence of events

Dermot Davis’ Brain is that rare species of complete entertainment that can be both deeply philosophical and buoyantly accessible. Laughs, suspense, intrigue,

she meets Jack, a psychotherapist, who cares deeply about her and supports her as she grapples with overcoming her problems. And Daisy dreams in shades of blue about the fantastical world of Tausi in which creatures talk about philosophy and an evil master is plotting her demise. Is she having a near death experience? Or is she really dreaming? Where is she? Kayce Stevens Hughlett has used her extensive background in therapy and as a life coach to create a novel about the deeply rooted psychological connections between all of us. Blue is a story that is at times wonderfully whimsical, and at others, poignant, heartfelt, and even suspenseful. But most of all, it is an uplifting tale about how three women who have spent years only half alive and struggling, and who, with the help of a supportive network of friends, eventually deal with past traumas and are able to find their way back to each other.

Rating: none provided The Book:

Blue: A Novel The Author:

Kayce Stevens Hughlett Genre(s):

Contemporary, Contemporary Social Issues, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Women’s Contemporary Fiction Review:

K. Hess Publisher:

BQB Publisher

Blue transcends genres with its complexity of story and psychological suspense. It would not be a surprise if it appears on Oprah’s Book Club list. A poignant, inspiring tale of three women, emotionally damaged by the events of their lives, who ultimately find their way back to each other.

(2015)

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love, and a gentle thread of the paranormal are all there for you, gift-wrapped in a sweet mist of serendipity. .

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“Vi has more than her reputation to worry about when she gets a unsettling call from a mysterious women...”

Rating:

The Book:

An Ex to Grind in Deadwood; Book #5 in the Deadwood Mystery series The Author:

Ann Charles Genre(s):

Contemporary, Cozy, Fiction, Humorous, Mystery, Mystery Romance, Paranormal, Romance, Senuous, Western Fiction Review:

K. Brown Publisher:

Ann Charles (2014)

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he Deadwood Mysteries by Ann Charles is a wickedly funny paranormal mystery romance series that takes place in its namesake city in South Dakota. Meet Violet “Spooky” Parker, a sassy singlemom real estate agent who is earning a reputation for selling haunted houses and finding dead bodies. And, now her agency’s boss is advertising that “she’ll show you a magic place that you’ll love…” on an interstate billboard. He also has her lined up to appear in a reality TV show featuring ghosts. But, Vi has more than her reputation to worry about when she gets a unsettling call from a mysterious women insisting that they meet immediately. When she and her sidekick Harvey arrive at the appointed place, all they find are ticking clocks, a shrunken head, and yet another dead body. Vi swears not to get involved especially after she is warned to keep out of the way by the police detectives on the case. She especially swears off the case when her ex decides to make a reappearance in her life. However, when she finds evidence that links her young son to the victim, all bets are off now that her child maybe in mortal danger. The Deadwood Mysteries offer a welcomed new twist for cozy mystery lovers! Fresh writing, lovable quirky characters, a good dose of randiness, peculiar situations (I have no idea how Ann Charles comes up with this stuff, but it makes for an entertaining read), and clever surprises at every twist and turn. An Ex to Grind keeps the laughs coming or the suspense building. Get ready for another hilarious and spooky suspenseful read from Ann Charles.

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“Coming to Earth from the Superverse, they home in on 1960s outback Australia ...”

B

rimming with a fully dynamic set of characters and otherworldly energies, Enemy of Existence is the strong and inventive debut novel that introduces Juan Yur’s science-fiction space opera series Citadel 7.

Rating:

Uniss and Dogg turn literary style on its head by greeting and then involving the reader in their story. Coming to Earth from the Superverse, they home in on 1960s outback Australia to seek out and commandeer the help of young Ben Blochentackle. Uniss and Dogg engage and prepare Ben for the realities of the Superverse until he is able to digest the psychological and physical demands of the looming war. At the same time, Uniss and Dogg must find a way to satisfy the coercing unit of the Evercycle council, who are the creators of existence. Ben’s human life changes forever when he joins Uniss and Dogg, right when he’s about to disclose his feelings towards his lady friend. Dogg’s painful timing in bringing Ben out to the Superverse is made worse when both Uniss and Dogg come to realize that Ben might not be who they thought he was. The reader finishes Enemy of Existence deeply satisfied but simultaneously left with many questions about what the future holds for the characters.

The Treasure of Malaga Cove Continued from page 36

The Book:

Enemy of Existence The Author:

Yuan Jur Genre(s): Yuan Jur utilizes his skillful craft of writing as he uses different perspectives throughout the book to open up various characters and their environments to the reader’s viewpoint. This particular development in Yuan Jur’s writing provides the reader with a well-rounded insight into the Superverse. The author is no stranger to breaking conventional norms with his quirky, unique writing style that will captivate readers.

Fiction, Sci-Fi, Thriller/Suspense Review:

Chanticleer Publisher:

Promontory Press (October 2015)

Enemy of Existence breaks new ground in the science-fiction universe as readers are required to actively participate in unraveling the novel’s plot.

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Gillgren has delivered a mystery story ala Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew, but with more contemporary individuals playing those roles. The Treasure of Malaga Cove is a fantastic novel for children and their families wanting to dive into the depths of mystery and adventure. I will certainly read the next books in the series: The Treasure of Ching Shih and The Treasure of Ocracoke Island. This is the first book in an adventure series that will invite readers of all ages to set sail into the high seas of their imagination with the adventures of the Cali Family as they hunt for mysterious treasure.

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“Broken promises and a perceived betrayal have warped her soul, launching her on a revenge-driven mission to expose and destroy Ariadne...”

Rating:

The Book:

The Ariadne Connection The Author:

Sara Stamey Genre(s):

Eco-mystery/ suspense, Fiction, Sci-Fi Review:

Leona Rinaldi Publisher:

Book View Cafe (2015)

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he year is 2027 and planet Earth is angry. Pollution has gone viral, ravaging the global environment while corporate technocracy has invaded all aspects of the media using its sensory-loaded “NeuroLink” productions to commandeer the thoughts and will of the masses. Radical climate swings, drought and famine, flood and pestilence take on Biblical meaning. And deep inside its core, the bowels of the earth are being rocked by a violent shift of its geomagnetic poles – a shift paired with cataclysmic seismic activity. With planetary life headed for extinction, mankind reaches out to its “Gods,” both secular and non-secular, for salvation. At the same time whisperings on the NeuroLink claim that there is a savior among them. Saint Ariadne. With the story of a lifetime in her sghts, NeuroLink celebrity Leeza Conreid calls upon “freelance import expediter” Peter Mitchell to take her into the dark heart of the militarized Mediterranean League’s territory. She’s confident that her history with Ariadne will give her the access she needs, but Leeza has more than a hot story on her mind. Broken promises and a perceived betrayal have warped her soul, launching her on a revenge-driven mission to expose and destroy Ariadne. “Saint” Ariadne has her own plan. After pushing into alternative scientific frontiers

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using pulsed laser, electronic stimulation and a mysterious “tonic” water, she’s on the verge of finding a cure for a rapidly-progressing form of leprosy. But the ongoing electromagnetic upheaval is tapping into something primal in her DNA, and her life’s work as well as her “healing abilities” are under attack. With global salvation at stake, Ariadne must escape from the exile of her father’s house and place her trust in the talents of harddrinking smuggler Peter Mitchell. Destined to be a classic in the Speculative Fiction genre, Sara Stamey’s Cygnus Awardwinning novel, “The Ariadne Connection,” takes the reader on a visual feast through the azure waters and rugged Mediterranean landscape of the Greek Islands while tapping into the deep roots of mythological tradition. And her use of well-defined, believable characters invites us to cinch our seatbelts tight and come along for the ride of a lifetime. With a clever nod to movie blockbusters such as “The Fifth Element” and “Transporter”, Sara Stamey’s near-future novel “The Ariadne Connection” is a rocketpaced thrill ride that delivers complex, engaging characters in a laser-sharp plot.

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“His discovery... contains data with the potential to dismantle the control of the Sisters and destroy the carefully crafted society they’ve created...”

A

t the dawn of the 24th Century, seven corporations or “families” known as the Sisters dictate every aspect of human life. “The Spoon Feed” spits out the latest curated news while Marcom, a marketing communications group, composes “The True Story,” their version of reality for public consumption. Tight control of information is necessary for total corporate domination of all planetary enterprises and the Sisters are willing to go to extreme measures to maintain their stranglehold on humanity. Driven by a thirst for new information, exoarcheologist Evan McElroy makes a discovery that takes him outside of the perceived safety of the “True Story” and hurls him into the nearest glome, a wormhole-like space portal, where he runs for his life. His discovery, an ancient artifact from the extinct Versari race, contains data with the potential to dismantle the control of the Sisters and destroy the carefully crafted society they’ve created. A discovery worth killing for. From the first sentence to the last, The Great Symmetry is a science fiction thrill ride. Opening with Evan in the crosshairs and missiles of Affirmatix (a family of companies within the Sisters), he is forced to take a leap of planetary faith. Evan sends out a final coded message then, with the artifact safely tucked into his EVA suit, he steps out of his runabout craft and propels himself into deep space to escape obliteration by the Affirmatix. With a dwindling oxygen supply his only hope is that expert pilot and longtime

friend Mira Adastra will decode his message before death or Affirmatix takes him. But Affirmatix is already targeting all of Evan’s known associates and Mira has had her own run-ins with the Sisters. It’s only through the unlikely help of Evan’s ex-partner, Kate DelMonaco, that any of the three have a chance to make it out of Evan’s giant leap alive. In this stunning debut novel, James R. Wells has assembled a great cast of interesting and complex characters embedded in a well-planned dual narrative. Pitting the infoterrorists – seekers of reality and truth – against the corporate, profit-before-people decision makers of Affirmatix creates a dynamic “good versus evil” scenario that allows for a deeper understanding of the motivations that drive each side. The shifting narrative also enables the reader to travel between unique environments that reveal rich and clever world-building components.

Rating:

The Book:

The Great Symmetry The Author:

James R. Wells Genre(s):

Contemporary Social Issues, Fiction, Sci-Fi, Thriller/Suspense, Thriller/Suspense Review:

Leona Rinaldi Publisher:

Travertine Books (2015)

With its Kafka-esque view of an escalating, dominant corporate presence, James R. Wells’ The Great Symmetry echoes the timeless social messages of truth, freedom and sacrifice embraced by science fiction greats like Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and the author’s own great grandfather H. G. Wells. Its powerful premise gives voice to the perils and challenges of our current society and reminds the reader that even the smallest person can change the world. A great read!

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“Readers will anticipate every moment of action as the story pulls them in with the dangers that lurk in the ocean...”

Rating:

The Book:

The Treasure of Malaga Cove The Author:

John Gillgren Genre(s):

Children’s Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Travel Adventure Review:

Mike Hartner Publisher:

Promontory Press (2015)

R

eading John Gillgren’s The Treasure of Malaga Cove is its own enjoyable treasure hunt. I was immediately immersed in the adventures of history, the ocean, and more suspense than I anticipated from a children’s book. The author takes his readers on a captivating series of diving adventures and pageturning treasure hunts with the Cali Family as they try to solve mysteries of the high seas. The story begins in 1577 on Sir Francis Drake’s flagship the Golden Hind. While looking for an easier path to Asia, this ship endure storms, battles with the Spanish and Portuguese, and Drake himself faces the mutiny of his own crew members. The plot fast forwards four hundred years into the future. The novel’s protagonist Carmine Cali discovers a skull while learning how to dive in the Malaga Cove in southern California. Waves of mystery wash over the setting as Carmine can’t find the skull on a second dive. He spends several years with his wife, Elaine, and his three children, Snail, Carmen, and Caroline, trying to prove that the skulls exist, and link them to the flagship the Golden Hind and its crew members. Gillgren is extraordinary at crafting a realistic and engaging narrative. The planning that Carmine and his family do for each of their dives, in addition to the time constraints, are point on with how a divemaster would construct his or her plans. Readers will anticipate every moment of action as the story pulls them in with the dangers that lurk in the ocean, whether it be the high tides or the sharks casting shadows beneath the water’s surface.

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Readers will appreciate that Gillgren has created such a dynamic protagonist. Carmine’s protective watch over his family highlights his strong character as a father and protector. His reluctance to leave the water when they’ve found new information is realistic and captures the reader in the moment of discovery. He’s a character all readers will love and root for to find the truth in the end. Suspense is the buried treasure in and of itself in this tale, and readers will never experience a dull moment. The plot twisted and turned in every direction, revealing by the end which character is deemed untrustworthy. The things I learned about Carmine’s family are presented in such a way that readers look forward to learning more about their individual character arcs in subsequent novels. While many events unravel quickly, this is still an appropriate book for a younger audience and for a family to read together. It’s a fun story with straightforward dialogue and plot. And while the author judiciously presents responsible diving techniques and know-how, readers without diving knowledge will be able to follow along with it. If anything, I think more detail of the reefs around Malaga Cove would have been a great addition to the story. The ocean adds a rich context to the tale, as well as an element of unexpected danger. However, the lack of some description made me revel in the details that were present. Continued page 33 ➥


“ As each day brings new challenges and new understandings, Patti discovers a little bit more about herself...”

P

atti is the engaging young girl we met in Life on the Farm, but now she is a year older. She is a curious, horse-loving kid who is aware of everything that surrounds her. Patti’s wit, determination, and sunny personality, combined with new adventures, make Little Guy a captivating read along with its delightfully surprising ending. Patti never expected to be so busy every day of her summer vacation. She’s up early every day to do her stable chores in exchange for riding lessons, but it’s worth it. Her girlfriend, Sylvia, is letting Patti ride her pony, Bets, for her riding lessons. Also, Patti finally has a horse of her own– sort of. Little Guy belongs to the Andersons, but they think Patti is just the girl they need to care for Little Guy and his lame foot. Spending her summer working with Little Guy and taking riding lessons at the local stable is a dream come true for Patti–at first. Gardam does a wonderful job keeping readers engaged with Patti’s emotions as she deals with the demanding stable chores and the teasing of the more experienced students, along with those who are snobbish toward her for having to do stable chores in exchange for riding lessons. The author earnestly portrays Patti’s life lesson that not everyone is accepting, but not to let other kids remarks stop her from going after her goals without sounding too PollyAnnish. Patti’s spunkiness is endearing and her enthusiasm is contagious. The author charmingly portrays, through Patti’s encounters and hindrances, how a positive attitude can open doors and create

opportunities especially when combined with hard work and diligence. These traits along with Patti’s bravery to overcome obstacles so that she may pursue her passion for horses and learning to ride them is inspiring. As each day brings new challenges and new understandings, Patti discovers a little bit more about herself and the important things in life. Nevertheless, a cloud of worry hovers over Patti. Will Little Guy’s lame leg ever heal? She works hard to take care of Little Guy and pays close attention to her charge. But, she longs to ride him and show off what she’s learned all summer at the Fall Fair. However, Patti knows how much Little Guy and the Andersons are depending on her to do what is best for Little Guy.

Rating:

The Book:

Little Guy The Author:

Heather Gardam Genre(s):

Children’s Books, Children’s Fiction, Fiction Review:

D. Garland Publisher:

Promontory Press (2015)

One of the beautiful aspects of this book comes to fruition as Little Guy and Patti learn to trust each other. It’s the magical connection that a child and a horse can make with patience, perseverance, and openness to learning on both their parts that Gardam captures with brilliant subtlety. Each day brings a new challenge and by learning to work together, Patti discovers a little bit more about herself and the important things in life. Little Guy is a captivating story that demonstrates true friendship and learning to believe in one’s self against the odds.

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B

writer

B

Horoscopes

ARIES: (Mar. 21 – Apr. 19) Always the feisty kid, you’re still actively enthusiastic and ambitious, always looking for new adventures, especially for your action novel characters. Just when your hero seems to be relaxing, you manage to put in the unforeseen twist, cutting him off from that comfortable place. For yourself, a new direction may bring new and exciting events that make you re-think your own life’s path. You may be surprised by a new friendship that you never could have anticipated.

TAURUS: (Apr. 20 – May 20) You can bring your writing to new levels if you let your characters talk to you. One of those background characters may be ready to emerge to hero status. Readers are ready for a shift of focus, maybe a new, unexpected alliance or even a romance? Open your mind to letting those characters evolve. Your writing affects your life as much as your life affects your writing and it’s up to you to embrace change. If you have been struggling with a change in your personal life, you will resolve that problem very soon.

CANCER: (June 22 – July 22) Has something been holding you back? Use your natural instincts and imagination to create those wild and crazy story plots. While your own life may be easy and calm, your characters can be your outlet for adventurous explorations, emotional bursts, and strange relationships. So what if you enjoy staying home with family instead of traveling the world? You stories can take you anywhere and everywhere. While you are home baking a birthday cake, your heroine can be roaming the world, skiing in the Alps, kayaking in the Caribbean, even searching for King Solomon’s Mine.

GEMINI: (May 21 – June 21) Now may be the right time to add another genre to your writing. If you’re writing romance, why not try cozy mysteries? Or you might try something totally outside your experience and do a western cowboy adventure story, or science fiction? Be flexible. Be curious. Take the blinders off and see the possibilities. Set up a strange and wild situation and see where it goes. Let yourself enjoy the research that will be necessary to bring that situation to authentic life. This could be what you’ve been waiting for.

LEO: (July 23 – Aug. 22) Do you have a first novel that you attempted early on and never quite finished? Did you move on to something else and let that one fade away? Go ahead and revisit that manuscript and see if it speaks to you now. Do you need a push, an inspiration, to get over a dry spell in your writing? Look at your own life, childhood, adolescence. What did you really enjoy when you were ten or fifteen? Find that spark and you can finally begin that lifeaffirming novel your readers have been waiting for. This could be your magical time.

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VIRGO: (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22) How many hours a day or a week do you spend actually writing? Do you sit and look at the blank screen and wonder why the words don’t appear as fast as you would like? You do love spending time with friends and find inspiration from attending writing group meetings and writing workshops. Now turn that inspiration into action as you visualize the possibilities. Let your characters come alive, let the plot explode. Go for broke as that blank screen becomes filled with page after page. You will feel better than you have for a long time.


B

writer

B

Horoscopes

LIBRA: (Sept. 23 – Oct. 23) You now have the opportunity to serve a cause you are passionate about and at the same time fulfill that urge to express your creative side. Write that novel you have been secretly considering for several years. Get started right now, the time is right. Do a quick first draft, get it all in. Then, read it carefully. Study it. Take it sentence by sentence, page by page, and let the second draft bring it into better shape. Does it say what you want to say, what you want your readers to know? Make it work. You will be a happy camper. SCORPIO: (Oct. 24 – Nov. 21) You are not afraid to take chances and learn by both your successes and your mistakes. Why not take a chance and finally write that science fiction novel? You know you want to. Have fun with it. Bring in strange creatures for your hero to deal with. Design a new spaceship that will travel the universe in style. Develop a plot set in exciting locations, with big problems and inspiring solutions. Tell yourself it is the right thing to do right now. You’ve waited long enough.

PISCES: (Feb.19 – Mar. 20) Are you hiding your talent? You know you are a good writer, so why be shy? Arrange a book reading with a local book store. People like meeting the author. Offer to conduct a workshop session at the next writer’s conference in your area. Breaking out of your comfort zone can be invigorating if you approach it with an open mind. You can benefit personally as well as professionally by being more outgoing with the writing world. You may be surprised at how easy and fun it can be.

CAPRICORN: (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19) You have a lot of patience with everyone except yourself. Relax. Take care of your health. Spend time with your family. Watch the ball game. Give yourself credit for your accomplishments. You are right on course. You don’t really have to complete that novel in 30 days but do write regularly every day. Do the research. Work with your critique group. Look at your goals. Make a plan and follow it faithfully. It will all come together for you if you stick to it.

AQUARIUS: (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18) Schedule some time for writing every day. Set a target date for completion of that first draft. Work on the plot outline. Do character sketches for you main characters, their backgrounds, families, life styles. Get organized. Do you need to take a class or attend a writing workshop? And write, write, write. You will love watching that word count add up day by day. It will all pay off as you turn those creative ideas into an engrossing novel. Good luck to you.

SAGITTARIUS: (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21) Don’t look back. Go forward. Write what moves you right now. It can be serious or lighthearted. Let yourself move in a new direction. You don’t have to stay on the old path. Your published novels may have an established readership, but maybe you need to try something new anyway. You need to satisfy your own needs. Has your life become too predictable? Break out of that rut. Take a leap and go for something you’ve never done before. Go for a walk in a new neighborhood. Find a new friend.

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the

B

Awards

Congratulations to our Grand Prize Winners in the Chanticleer Blue Ribbon Awards Writing Competitions! Go to chantireviews.com for all the latest news!

The Chanticleer Grand Prize Award 2014 for Overall Best Book:

The Love of Finished Years (Manuscript)

by Gregory Erich Phillips Gregory Erich Phillips was awarded the $1,000.00 Grand Prize Cash Award and the gorgeous Chanticleer Grand Prize Blue Ribbon along with his digital badge and golden stickers when the work is published. This is the first time a manuscript has won this prize!

The Chanticleer Genre Grand Prize 2014 Winners

Cygnus

Journey

M&M

Dante Rossetti

Chaucer

Citadel 7, Earth’s Secret: Enemy of Existence Yuan Jur

Five Thousand Brothers-In-Law: Love in Angola Prison

The Only Clue: A Neema Mystery

Legacy: Biodome Chronicles Book One

The Love of Finished Years

Shannon Hager

Pamela Beason

(Manuscript)

Jesikah Sundin

Gregory Erich Phillips

Laramie

Chatelaine

Clue

Paranormal

Somerset

Not On My Mountain

Find Me Again

The Red Ribbon

Janet Shawgo

Rachel B. Ledge

An Ex to Grind in Deadwood

The Manipulator

Ann Charles

Steve Lundin

Jared McVay

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The Paranormal Awards recognize emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genre of Supernatural Fiction. The First Place Category Winners of the Paranormal Awards for 2014 are:

Paranormal :

Genre

Title

Author(s)

Blended Genre

An Ex to Grind

Ann Charles

Urban/Edgy

The Fall

Stephen Cost

Contemporary Gothic

Mateguas Island

Linda Watkins

Time Travel/Shifts

Disappeared

Norman L. Johnson

International Thriller

Raven’s Run

John Trudel

YA

Jesse

Alan Burke

New Adult

Crossing into Mystic

D.L. Koontz

Angels and Demons

Witch’s Malice

Lisa Voisin

Legends and Lore

Just Another Sunset

Nikki Broadwell

Adult Paranormal

Storm

Jennifer Kohout

Supernatural/Mystery

Islands

Sara Stamey

The Chaucer Awards recognize new and outstanding works in the genre of Historical Fiction Novels. The Chaucer Awards 1st in Category Winners for 2014 are:

Chaucer :

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Genre

Title

Author(s)

Women’s Fiction

Timber Rose

J. L. Oakley

Legend

Five Guns Blazing

Kevin Allen and Emma Rose Millar

Legacy

Silver Kings and Sons of Bitches

Michael D. McGranahan

Pre-History

Peyote Fire

Mary S. Black

Ancient History

The Thinara King

Rebecca Locklann

Roman/Grecian Classical

The Golden Dice: A Tale of Ancient Elisabeth Storrs Rome

High Middle Ages

Knight of Jerusalem: A Biographical Novel of Balian d’Ibelin

Helena P. Schrader

Late Middle Ages

The Alhambra Decree: Flower from Castile

Lilian Gafni

Elizabethan/Tudor

Shakespeare’s Changeling: A Fault Syril Levin Kline Against the Dead

1600’s

Shame the Devil (manuscript)

Donna Scott

1700s & 1800s

Destinies

Karleene Morrow

Turn of the 19th Century

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte

Ruth Hull Chatlien

Twentieth Century

The One with the Beautiful Necklaces (manuscript)

David Brendan Hopes

World Wars

The Love of Finished Years (manuscript)

Gregory Erich Phillips

Young Adult

My One Square Inch of Alaska

Sharon Short

U. S. History

Beyond the Divide

Michelle Rene

World History

I Once Knew Vincent

J. P. Kenna

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The Dante Rossetti Awards recognize emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genre of Young Adult Fiction. The First Place Category Winners of the Dante Rossetti Awards for 2014 are:

Dante Rossetti

Genre

Title

Author(s)

Steampunk

Odette Speex: Time Traitors, Book 1

Padgett Lively

Contemporary

The Flying Burgowski

Gretchen Wing

CyberPunk

The Biodome Chronicles, Book 1

Jesikah Sundin

Romance

Twist

Roni Teson

High Fantasy

The Vow

S.A. Hunter

Blended Genre

Fruit of Misfortune: Creatura Book 2

Nely Cab

Science Fiction

Dreams of a Red Horizon

Chris Pawlukiewicz

Dystopian

An Outcast State

Scott Smith

Mythological

The Star Catcher

Stephanie Keyes

Lighthearted/ Humorous

Ruth 66

Elizabeth Barlo

New Adult

Ice Massacre

Tiana Warner

Teen Fantasy

Song Magick

Elisabeth Hamill

Children’s

The Escape of Princess Madeline

Kirsten Pulioff

Tweens

The Curse of the Thrax

Mark Murphy

Manuscript

The Lackawanna Prophecies: Black Shadow

Ben Hutchins

The Cygnus Awards recognize emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genre of Fantasy, Science Fiction, Paranormal, Mythological, and Steampunk fiction. First Place Category Winners for the Cygnus Awards for 2014 are:

Cygnus :

Genre

Title

Author(s)

Space Opera Sci-Fi Series:

Citadel 7, Earth’s Secret: Enemy of Yuan Jur Existence

Military Sci-fiction

Betrayal on Triton

Ryan Henry

Dark Fantasy/Gamer

Mythborn: Rise of the Adepts

Vijay Lakshman

Paranormal

The Unbeliever

Zachary Kitchen

Mythological

The Immortal Game

Joannah Miley

Epic Fantasy

Dream of a Vast Blue Cavern

Selah Tay-Song

Speculative Fiction

The Ariadne Connection

Sara Stamey

Mythological

The Immortal Game

Joannah Miley

SciFi

Shadow of the Last Man, Book 1

J. M. Salyards

SciFi/Cyperpunk: Legacy

The Biodome Chronicles, Book 1

Jesikah Sundin

Time Travel

Timelapse

Lorrie Farrelly

Lab Lit SciFi:

The Borealis Genome

Thomas P. Wise and Nancy Wise

New Adult Dystopian

The Cloud Seeders

Jamie Zendt

New Adult Sci-Fi

ISO

H.G. Bleackly

YA Dystopian

All Is Silence

Robert L. Slater

Best SciFi Manuscript

Natural Selection

Michael Simon

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The Chatelaine Awards recognize new and outstanding works in the genre of Romantic Fiction. The Chatelaine Awards 1st Place Category Winners for 2014 are:

Chatelaine

Genre

Title

Author(s)

Historical

The Order of the Lily

Catherine A. Wilson and Catherine T. Wilson

Romance Regency

Learning to Waltz

Kerryn Reid

International Intrigue/ World Events

Deadly Betrayal

Kristine Cayne

Contemporary

The Ex Lottery

Kim Sanders

Mystery/Suspense/ Thriller Romance

Mother Teresa’s Advice for Jilted Donna Barker Lovers

Blended Genre

Find Me Again

Janet Shawgo

Inspirational/ Restorative

Surrendered II: Pride

Peggy Patrick

Romance & Adventure

Kismet or Kamasutra

Martha Rather

Fantasy/Mythological

Montana Mustangs

Danica Winters

Jane Austen Inspired

Inspired: Betty Codd

Eleanor Grace

Debut Novel

Betty Codd

Julie LeMense

YA

The Dissimulation of Doves

Clarke Scott

Women’s Fiction

Destiny’s Second Chance

Kate Vale

Women’s Fiction/ Humorous

Beauty and the Bridesmaid

Lisa Souza

First Loves

The Trouble with Mistletoe

Jennifer Snow

The Somerset Awards recognize emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genre of Contemporary, Mainstream, and Literary Fiction. The First Place Category Winners of the Somerset Awards for 2013 are:

Somerset

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Genre

Title

Author(s)

Social Issues

Ghost Horse

Thomas McNeely

Satire

The Manipulator, a Private Life in Public Relations

Steve Lundin

Literary

No-Accounts, Dare Mighty Things

Tom Glenn

Contemporary

Home Fires

Judith Kirscht

New Adult

Lost and Found in Missing Lake

Tanya Fife

YA/Juvenile Fiction

Memeloose, The Island of the Dead

E. F. Winters

Adventures/Suspense

Recording a Kill

Jim Hennigan

International Intrigue

The Tangerine Trio

Rian Everest

Mainstream

Soon Coming

Nancy Adair

Women’s Fiction

The Last Outrageous Woman

Jessica H. Stone

Blended Literary Fiction

The Homegoing

Michael Olin-Hitt

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The Laramie Awards recognize emerging new works and outstanding authors in the genre of Western Fiction. The Laramie Awards 1st Place Category Winners for 2014 are:

Laramie

Genre

Title

Author(s)

Historical

The Last Desperado

Rebecca Rockwell

Romance/Dramatic

Between Heaven and Hell

Jacqui Nelson

Romance/Comedy

Much Ado About Miners

Jacquie Rogers

Contemporary Western Not on My Mountain

Jared McVay

Adventure

Terms of Surrender

Lorrie Farrelly

Classic

Nations

Ken Farmer and Buck Stienke

Debut Novel

Freckled Venom Copperhead

Juliette Douglas

Civil War

Along the Way Home

Christi Corbett

Young Adult

Wolf Eye’s Silence

Elisabeth Ward

Blended Genre

Come Home to Me

Peggy L. Henderson

Drama

A River Divides: Book Two of Beyond the Wood

Michael J. Rouche

Literary Western

Heart-Scarred

Theo Czuk

The Journey Awards recognize emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genre of Narrative Non-fiction. First Place Category Winners for the Journey Awards for 2014 are:

Journey

Genre

Title

Author(s)

Global Enlightenment:

Thwarted Escape

Lopamudra Banerjee

Personal Journey

The Breast is History

Bronwyn Hope

Career Experiences

Caregiving Our Loved Ones

Nanette J. Davis, Ph.D.

An Era Memoir

Soviet Letters

Alex Posoukh

Travelogue Experiences

Moroccan Musings

Anne B. Barriault

True Action

Waking Reality

Donna LeClair

How-to/Life Experiences

The Accidental Teacher: Life Lessons from my Silent Son

Annie Lubliner Lehman

Best Manuscript

Five Thousand Brothers in Law: Love in Angola Prison

Shannon Hager

The Paranormal Awards recognize emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genre of Supernatural Fiction. The First Place Category Winners of the Paranormal Awards for 2013 are:

Paranormal :

Genre

Title

Author(s)

Young Adult

Spirit Legacy

E.E. Holmes

Contemporary Gothic

Poe, Nevermore

Rachel M. Martens

Angels/Demons

The Watcher

Lisa Voisin

Historical

The Immortal American

L. B. Joramo

Mystery/Thriller

The Dream Jumper’s Promise

Kim Hornsby

Romance

Montana Mustangs

Danica Winters

Urban/Edgy

The Third Option

Ben A. Sharpton

Supernatural Powers

Witch’s Malice

David Hutchison

Vampires/Werewolves

Dancing on the Dark Side

Mairin Fisher-Fleming

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The Somerset Awards recognize emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genre of Contemporary, Mainstream, and Literary Fiction. The First Place Category Winners of the Somerset Awards for 2013 are:

M&M

Genre

Title

Author(s)

Social Issues

Ghost Horse

Thomas McNeely

Satire

The Manipulator, a Private Life in Public Relations

Steve Lundin

Literary

No-Accounts, Dare Mighty Things

Tom Glenn

Contemporary

Home Fires

Judith Kirscht

New Adult

Lost and Found in Missing Lake

Tanya Fife

YA/Juvenile Fiction

Memeloose, The Island of the Dead

E. F. Winter

Adventures/Suspense

Recording a Kill

Jim Hennigan

International Intrigue

The Tangerine Trio

Rian Everest

Mainstream

Soon Coming

Nancy Adair

Women’s Fiction

The Last Outrageous Woma

Jessica H. Stone

Blended Literary Fiction

The Homegoing

Michael Olin-Hitt

The CLUE Awards recognize emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genre of Suspense and Thriller Fiction. The Clue Awards 1st Place Category Winners for 2014 are:

Clue

Genre

Title

Author(s)

Historical

The Red Ribbon

Rachel B. Ledge

Romance/Suspence

Special Agent Francesca

Mimi Barbour

International Intrigue/ World Events

The Dark Seed

Lawrence Verigin

Contemporary Mystery/Suspense

The Only Clue

Pamela Beason

Private Eye/Noir

The Bleak

Keith Dixon

Police Procedural

The Midnight Call

Jode Susan Millman

Spy/Espionage

The Red Circle

Michelle Daniel

Psychological Thriller

Deadly Thyme

Rebecca Nolen

Cozy/Amateur Sleuth

I’m Kona Love You Forever

JoAnn Basset

True Crime

Orville Nix: The Missing JFK Assassination Film

Gayle Nix Jackson

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enter our

B

Contests

More than $30,000.00 dollars worth of cash and prizes will be awarded to Chanticleer Book Reviews 2016 writing competition winners! Yes, CBR writing competitions are challenging. Those who enter are impassioned about their writing and are keen to meet their publishing goals. •

Submission deadlines help you meet your deadlines for your publishing goals.

Winning and placing in a CBR competition will help promote your work and your author platform.

Manuscript submissions help to get your work out of the slush pile.

You could win cash, promotional opportunities, and a coveted CBR book review package. CBR Grand Prize Blue Ribbon Award 2016 winner will be awarded $1,000.00 cash. Fifteen 1st Place Genre Blue Ribbon Award 2016 winners will be awarded $200.00 cash each. CBR 1st Place Award Category Contest Winning Authors will receive:

yyzzyx

yyzzyx

Chanticleer Book Reviews’ Blue Ribbon Writing Contests 2016 – 2017

Award winning books will be placed on the Chanticleer Book Shelves (which sell and promote the winning titles). Our CBR Book Shelves are located in participating Independent Book Stores across the U.S.

A coveted Chanticleer Book Review

A CBR Blue Ribbon embossed with the Contest Name, Author Name, and Book Title to use in promotion at book signings and book festivals

Digital award stickers for on-line promotion

Adhesive book stickers

Shelf-talkers and other promotional items

Promotion in print and on-line media

Review of book distributed to on-line sites and printed media publications

Review, cover art, and author synopsis listed in CBR’s newsletter

Enter Now @ http://chantireviews.com/contests/ The Genre Grand Prize winners will automatically be entered into the GRAND PRIZE AWARD for title of The Best of the CBR Award Winning Books of 2016 - 2017! Now that is something to CROW about!

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B

short

B

Story

“The Mystery of the Little Match Girl” For den lille pige med svovlstikkerne

by Seán Dwyer Story Copyright 2015 Seán Dwyer

Author Contact: sean.dwyer@wwu.edu

All Rights Reserved

“Ah, the shame I feel when I recall that New Year’s Eve of 1845,” said the man to his dinner guest. “The day was terribly cold, especially for Copenhagen, barely warm enough to form tiny puddles of water on patches of ice. The day was overcast, I remember, not nearly so cheery as one would hope for a final day of a year. “At noon, I was riding from my father’s bank, where I was being groomed for the position I now hold as its president, in a carriage hired to take my father and me to luncheon with the British ambassador. There was to be talk of loans to the people of Ireland, whose housing and diet were abominable. We in Denmark wanted to be of service to them, but, of course, we had to navigate the diplomatic waters of the British royalty. “Listen to me. I say ‘of course,’ as if you would know how challenging it was to work with the British then. Forgive me, young friend. “So, truly, the day was cold, and we had left later than we wished for the appointment. My father urged the driver, who seemed generally to be cautious at the reins, to navigate the streets as rapidly as

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possible. He did so, to the consternation of a number of citizens, primarily pedestrians, who had to scurry out of our way. “At one intersection, I saw ahead of us a waif, a small girl wearing thin clothes and ridiculously large slippers that she had either borrowed or found. She looked carefully before she began to cross, but the driver chose that moment to urge his horses forward, and between us and another oncoming carriage, the girl nearly found herself trapped. She fled across the street without regard for her slippers, which fell off, one on each side of the street. “My father looked straight ahead, but I looked back. A young ruffian grabbed the slipper nearest the girl and made off with it. I saw her wander back in search of the first slipper, which she had lost in her hard-won effort to cross the avenue safely. “I remarked to my father that the child would surely freeze without her shoes. I then learned something about him. He replied to me that children who wandered the streets, selling trifles for pennies, should be in orphanages or left for dead. Here was my father, who wanted to provide funds to assist Irish


children, unwilling to pause to provide even rags for the feet of a small girl on a cold New Year’s Eve. It struck me then that he saw the lending of money to the Irish as a business opportunity, rather than a good deed. I hope I was wrong about his motives, but I lost some bit of respect for him then. Even so, he was simply stating the thoughts of his time, and, truly, of ours, thirty years later. Now we have the work of Mr. Darwin to give it a name: survival of the fittest. I am not fond of the concept, when it applies to my fellow citizens. “As I could not evoke sympathy in my father, I turned my attention back to the Irish children that we would, indeed, help. I could not, however, stop thinking about the little girl who had lost her slippers. And suddenly, two or three blocks down the avenue, it struck me: I knew who she was. “In the summer of 1845, she had roamed the streets near our bank, cheerfully offering sulphur sticks for a pittance to businessmen as they passed by. Some, even those who did not smoke, bought something from her, for it was clear that she did not live in the best of conditions. “It is possible that our hearts melted for her in part because she was truly a beautiful child. Her hair was long and fair, with curls that made her seem an angel. Her face was thin, from malnourishment, I assume, but her blue eyes were lively and intelligent. She was always courteous, showing none of the resentment of the street beggars when someone ignored her or was rude to her. “One day, a pouring rain ruined her matches. I thought of buying her entire stock, and should have done, but I did not have small enough coins on me to make such an offer. I much regretted my avarice the next day, when she was on the corner again, with welts on her back that showed through her hole-ridden dress. I saw a bruise on her face as well. That day, I

did buy her stock, but rather than the few skillings it would have cost me, I gave her a rigsdaler coin. These coins mean nothing to you, I’m sure, with the change in our currency to the krone, but she was stunned to receive such a sum. She thanked me over and over. “She did not go immediately home, and I began to suspect that she was chary to do so, as she had been beaten the previous day. In the afternoon, I went to a nearby bakery and, as she was still wandering about, I presented her a bun. She thanked me again, and she waited until I left to begin to eat. I peeked back and saw her devour the bread. “It went thus for part of the summer. I brought her a morsel when I could, and as my responsibilities at the bank grew, I sent a clerk out to find her. I always gave him money for a treat, and I had him bring me a match, so I would know he had done the proper thing.” The speaker looked at his guest, bowed his head, and sighed deeply. “Would that I could say that things continued this way indefinitely, but they did not. As I mentioned, my workload increased. Also, my long-awaited wedding day arrived in October, and after a journey abroad graciously allowed us by my father, I was so busy in November and December that I simply forgot the little match girl. “On this cold and snowy New Year’s Eve, had I recognized her immediately, I would have demanded that my father stop the carriage, as a moment’s time spent retrieving her would not have cost us an ontime arrival at luncheon. Given that I had no recourse at this point, I assumed that, finding her feet naked, she would capitulate to the cold and return home, no matter how grim her reception would be after losing her slippers. “We ate goose at luncheon, which dismayed me, as my new bride was proudly preparing her first goose at that very moment. However, I did not mind

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much, as my wife was quickly becoming a wonderful cook, and the early serving of goose might keep me from overeating later, a new practice that was leading me to some heft. She had sent our cook to visit her family, with the ulterior motive of impressing me with culinary skills of which I was unaware when we married. She certainly required no additional help on cook’s days off. “With the affairs of state done, and with the day being a holiday at the bank, I was allowed to return home sooner than usual, around four. I must have seemed pensive, for my wife asked me: “‘Pray tell, dear, what has got you so morose?’ “I had not realized that I was brooding, but it was true. I feared that the little girl, who had been so kind and cheerful in the summer, would now suffer either from the elements or at the hand of a cruel parent. I told my wife what I had seen. “She dropped into the soup pot the spoon with which she was stirring, and a splash of broth surged over the edge, causing the fire to hiss. A delicious odor filled the room. In spite of myself, my appetite awakened. “‘How could you do nothing for a defenseless child?’ she exclaimed. I had never seen her take such a firm stance in a situation that did not concern her directly. “‘I was not in control of the carriage. I—’ “‘But you control your heart, do you not?’ “‘I do, my dearest, but as my father says—’ “‘Bah! Your father is a banker. I suppose he said that the child would be better off dead.’ “‘Not quite,’ I replied, somewhat weakly. Then I raised myself to my full height. ‘You forget, my love, that I am also a banker.’ “‘And I’ll cure you of thinking like one, when it comes to children. How will you live with yourself if the child is beaten again?’

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“In truth, I was wondering that myself, but all I could do was hold my hands out to plead for mercy. “‘Well,’ she said, rather than asked. “‘Well what, my love?’ “‘Are you going to seek her, to ensure that she arrived home despite her poor frozen little feet?’ “I looked outside. Warm and cozy as our house was, it kept me from desiring to step into the dark streets that were now acquiring a layer of snow. She read my mind. “‘Shall I go, then, Moritz?’ she asked. That was enough for me. “‘No, I am going out to look for traces of her.’ For this sentiment, I received an enthusiastic kiss, as well as the obvious admiration of my young wife. “I pulled on my boots and my greatcoat, and, as an afterthought, I splashed a bit of brandy into a flask and shoved it into my pocket. Perhaps the spirits would keep me warm. Then, before I could change my mind, I opened the door to brave the weather. “As painful as the wind was, accompanied by little needles of snow that reddened my cheeks immediately, I felt pleased with myself for going out. My wife could not fault me if I did not find the girl, who was probably at home, though she might be wishing she had stayed out. My foray would ease my conscience, and I could celebrate a new year’s arrival in peace. “Logic pointed me in the direction of the bank, where I had so often seen the child. The streets were desolate; only the desperate and the foolish walked them. That left me the foolish one, and I hoped not to find that someone truly desperate walked them barefoot. “And yet, among the brightly lit houses, on a street where the scent of roasted goose pervaded even the frigid outdoor air, I heard voices in conversation. I turned the corner, and in an alcove between houses, I


saw two figures huddled together, an old woman and a frail child over whom she bent. I saw them well, as the small one had lit a bundle of the matches she had been meant to sell. “‘Grandmother, take me with you!’ the little one cried. The old woman pointed at me. “‘Go with this man, Eva,’ the grandmother said. Given how cold I felt in my fine greatcoat, I could not imagine that the girl would last much longer. I ran to her as the matches burned out and left the three of us in darkness. “I found the girl trembling and gasping. Her cheeks, hands, and feet were like ice. I was not sure that she was completely conscious. “‘I’ll take her to a warm place,’ I said to the woman, but when I turned to give her an encouraging smile, she was gone. I found it odd that I saw no footprints in the snow. “‘Hello!’ I cried. ‘You are welcome to come with us.’ “There was no reply. Lacking anything else to say, I called again, ‘My wife is cooking a goose!’ “All I heard was the echo ‘goose-oose-oose’ on those silent streets. I looked down and realized that my waste of time could be fatal to the girl. “I gathered up the child, who seemed to weigh no more than the matchsticks she carried. Her wasted figure brought tears to my eyes of a sudden; I had held babies that seemed heavier. “She did not respond to my movement. Suddenly fearing that I had lost her to the cold, I brushed the snow out of her fair hair. Then, I remembered the brandy. I knelt with her on my legs, grabbed the flask, and rubbed some brandy on her gums. Call me silly for feeding spirits to a child, but once she began to stir, I gave her to drink of the brandy, and she came to life, thrashing in my arms. “Clearly, she was in jeopardy. Rather than

carry her to our house in my arms, as I had intended, I opened my greatcoat and clutched her to my breast. Then I buttoned the coat again, and I began to run home as fast as I deemed safe. “I arrived quickly, yet it seemed an eternity. When I opened the door, my dear Dorothea hovered near it, and she screamed—whether with fear or delight, to this day I do not know. She ran to the kitchen, calling behind her: “‘Take her to our room and swaddle her in the feather bed. I have water on the boil.’ “I lay the little match-seller on our bed and covered her to her chin. She fought me, calling for her grandmother. I tried to soothe her, but it was not until my wife arrived that the girl calmed herself. “‘Why does she cry so for her grandmother?’ my wife asked. “‘She was with us, but she disappeared when I arrived.’ “The glare I received gave me some concern, as I did not wish to return in search of the grandmother. “‘I should make you go look for the poor woman.’ “I persuaded her that I had done my best in the matter, and Dorothea busied herself with the child’s welfare, to my relief. “Between hot compresses on her extremities and sips of hot broth, the child slowed her tremendous shaking. Even so, as sleep overcame her, she trembled yet, and I feared for her life. I slept on a divan that night, while my wife showed her maternal instincts by cuddling Eva as if she were a newborn. “I ate no goose that night. Perhaps I did not deserve it. * * * “Two days later, with a heavy heart, I approached a house in the most wretched section of

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Copenhagen. The walls were a mere frame to hold up the roof. The roof itself needed mending, or, rather, it needed to be demolished and rebuilt. Bits of roof, bound into some sort of protection by straw and, perhaps, Eva’s spare clothing, covered the meager living quarters. “I tapped at the door, and a man, surly, blond, and ill-shaven, opened it. “‘Are you the father of Eva, who sells matches?’ I asked. “‘I am.’ He eyed me with great suspicion. Behind him, I saw a woman, as thin as Eva had been, who looked at me hopefully. “‘Have you had word of her?’ I asked. “‘None. What business is it of yours?’ “‘What would you think to learn that she was dead?’ “The woman hung her head and began to weep. “‘I would regret it, to be sure, but it would mean one less to feed, and she hadn’t brought home much income of late. I suspected her of eating the profits.’ “‘Would you want her buried decently?’ “The father snorted in disgust. “‘I’ve nothing to give for a burial. She’ll have to share a grave with the rest of us miserable wretches.’ “Anger rushed through me. I pulled a rigsdaler from my pocket, showed it to him, and flung it far down the street. It landed on its edge and rolled away. He ran after it as a child after candy. “I looked at the mother. She bore a bruise on her temple, and another on her arm. I cursed the man, but I could give her a bit of happiness. To her, I said, ‘What would you wish if Eva were alive?’ “She gasped, and I nodded to encourage her to speak her mind. “‘I would wish for her to be safe, warm, and

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fed. If you see her, kiss her for me, please, sir.’ “‘How many others are there?’ “‘Three boys, younger. I hope for better for them.’ “‘Even so,’ I said. ‘Does the grandmother live here as well?’ “The mother gave me an odd look and opened her mouth to speak, but I held up a hand to stay her words. The father was returning with his coin. “‘I thank you for the money, though I had to work for it. The girl used to bring home these coins, but not lately. She was using them on food only for her, I believe.’ “Hence the beatings, I thought. They were my fault. “‘Speaking of work, how do you earn your living, sir?’ I asked. “‘Ah, it’s desperate times. I lay bricks, when work comes to me.’ He waved his arm toward the back wall of his hovel, which did show some sign of brickwork. “‘And if I found you steady work laying bricks?’ “He stood straighter. ‘I would lay bricks faster and more true than anyone.’ “‘I will send someone for you. But there is one condition. I don’t want to hear of you beating your children.’ “He began to sneer, but under my stern gaze, he dropped his eyes. “‘They’re my children, but if you’ve got work, I’ll allow some meddling.’ “Indeed you will, I thought. At that moment, he rivaled my father for the coldest spot in my heart. But for Eva’s sake, I felt compelled to provide for the man. “‘I will acquire bricks for you, so you can finish your own walls. I will roof your house. And you


will put your poor daughter out of your mind.’ “The day was as gray as New Year’s Eve had been, but he squinted at me as if the sun were in his eyes. I bade him and his wife a good day, and I allowed myself a long, slow walk home.” The speaker stretched and smiled at his guest. “And that, my delightful little one, is the very long answer to your question. Do you even remember what you asked me?” His dinner guest giggled. “Silly Grandpapa, of course I remember. I asked, ‘How is it that Mama and I have blond hair, while you and Grandmother have black hair?’ Our teacher says such a thing is impossible.” “That was the question exactly. Do you understand how it happened?” “I do! You and Grandmother took Mama from her family.” The girl’s mother and grandmother laughed. “Grandpapa and Grandmother adopted me, precious one. They did not take me. And they helped my mother and my brothers.” “And then,” said the grandfather, “a recently departed friend of mine wrote a story about your mother. I’m sure you know it.” The girl cocked her head and thought a moment. “I do not think so.” “Ah, but you do. Do you not read H.C. Andersen in school?” “I do! But in the story about the little girl who sells matches, she dies.” “That is true. Mr. Andersen thought that people would be more likely to pay attention to the poor street children if she died in the story. But it’s your mother, indeed, about whom Mr. Andersen wrote. He wanted everyone to know that children should not be invisible. Not even to bankers.” “Not even to bankers, like you, Grandpapa.”

She thought for a moment. “Did you also adopt Mama’s grandmother?” The man and Eva exchanged looks. She leaned forward and spoke. “Darling, what happened that night with my grandmother cannot be explained. Grandpapa saw her keeping me warm, but she died two years before he came for me.” The girl hesitated for just a moment. “Then, she was an angel. I will be happy to meet her in Heaven.” “A long time from now, yes. And now you will sleep, my dear, and in the morning, you will see a new year.” And with that, Eva gathered her daughter into her arms and took her to bed. They would be staying the night; it was far too cold for children to be outdoors.

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CAC 2016

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