Discovering Todayâ€™s Best Books
Chanticleer Reviews Fall 2015
Author Spotlight: Michael Hurley
Book Reviews Awards Competitions Short Story Writer Horoscopes
Chanticleer Grand Prize Winner Michael Hurley
Dear Chanticleer Reviews Community of Authors and Readers, This past year has been quite exciting! The new “golden age of publishing” definitely brings chaos along with unprecedented opportunities in the publishing industry for authors to achieve their publishing goals. Never before have so many authors been able to earn royalties from their works. For some it is enough just to see their works published, for others it is satisfying to earn a little extra spending money from their need to write. And of course for others to make a solid living at the craft of writing. There are those outliers such as Hugh Howey, Robert Dugoni, Ann Charles who are inspirational to Indie authors everywhere. Let us not forget the traditionally published authors such as Craig Johnson, Elmore Leonard, J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Myers, Stephen King, Sarah Gruen, Suzanne Collins… It is reported that Amazon publishes more than 5,000 titles a day. That is approximately two million titles a year. Compare these numbers from the heyday of the printing era of around 250,000 to 300,000 titles per year. Yes, these can be frightening numbers for the new author whether she is traditionally published or self-published. However, will these two million titles a year have great stories to tell? Will they have top-drawer editing and formatting? Will the covers appeal to readers? Will the marketing efforts resonate with the intended audience? Will the distribution and pricing strategies be well thought-out and planned? The authors and publishers who take care of the details will find their titles quickly rising to the top of the heap. And that is what we do here at Chanticleer. We discover today’s best books with objective, unbiased editorial reviews and international writing competitions. We help the overwhelmed reader decide where to invest their precious free reading time. We help authors and publishers whose works should rise above the daily avalanche of book choices to stand out and be read! We continue to grow by leaps and bounds here at Chanticleer Reviews because we are passionate about our mission: Discovering Today’s Best Books! We appreciate the Chanticleer Community’s patience and understanding with our wonderful growing pains as we continuously strive to find new and better ways promote our discoveries. This review magazine is just one of them. Our goal is to publish the Chanticleer Reviews magazine on a quarterly basis. Our eventual goal is to have the magazine printed and distributed in North America. But like writing a novel, the goal is achieved step by step, word by word. In this issue, you will find Chanticleer Reviews promoting the best books that received coveted Chanticleer Blue Ribbons at the 2014 Chanticleer Authors Conference Awards Banquet. There are some stellar works highlighted in this issue. Enjoy! Keep on Writing and Reading!
Kiffer Brown, Publisher Chanticleer Book Reviews & Media, L.L.C. – Discovering Today’s Best Books
Table of Contents
Author Spotligh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Reviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Propositum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Fatal Induction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Choices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Individually Wrapped. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 The Vineyard. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 The Prodigal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 More Faster Backwards. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 19 Remarkable Northwest Women . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Caregiving Our Loved Ones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Mixed Blessings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Metaphors of Healing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 The Shelburne Escape Line . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Tightwads on the Loose. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Raggedy Man. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 The Watcher. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Unbroke Horses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Borealis Genome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Immortal Game . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Virtues of War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Artemis Rising. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 The Starlight Fortress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Myth Born: Rise of the Adepts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Shadow Guardians. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Writer Horoscopes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 The Award . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Contest Info . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Short Story. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
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From The Prodigal to The Passage: a Conversation with Michael Hurley
ichael Hurley is a prolific, award-winning writer of nonfiction and novels, the author of The Vineyard and The Prodigal, winner of the 2013 Chanticleer Grand Prize.
The Prodigal brought big news at the 2014 Chanticleer Authors Conference; the 2013 Chanticleer Grand Prize book may become a movie. Kathryn (Kiffer) Brown founder of Chanticleer Book Reviews and Media, brought the book to the attention of film-industry executive Diane Isaacs. The film opportunity provided by Chanticleer could mean huge changes for Hurley; now it’s just a matter of playing the waiting game. “My understanding is that it’s in the process of looking for financing, and that’s about all I know,” Hurley said. “I know Diane Isaacs has talked to a former HBO executive, but I have no idea what the level of interest is. I think it would make an excellent movie, but we’ll have to see if the money people get behind it.” A Baltimore native, Hurley has been a sailor, pianist, and writer for most of his life, as well as an attorney. Based now in North Carolina, he has furthered his sailing exploits, especially since his retirement from practicing law. Hurley is a lifelong sailor who sailed on Chesapeake Bay with his older brother as a boy. His brother built and rented boats. Hurley received his first boat
right after he finished law school, and that’s when he began to truly understand sailing. “There was a sailboat shop behind my apartment, and I wound up buying a boat before I bought a house,” Hurley said. “It was probably four boats later before I got a house.” Writing novels about sailing is simply a natural progression from Hurley’s earliest writing experiences. “I’ve always loved to write. I wrote my first book when I was thirteen. It was called 101 Ways to Better Your Bass Fishing. I mimeographed it off and sold it at the local tackle shop.” Hurley then sold his first magazine when he was about fifteen years old; his mother used the money earned to pay the light bill.” “We needed lights. She was a single mom, and we were living in an apartment. She was my first editor. My mom would proofread my work and type it on an old Royal manual typewriter we had, so I sent the first article off to a publication called Maryland Conservationist. This was an article called “Camping in the Catoctin Region.” Hurley’s mother passed away in 2002, but her writing support prompted him to create a prize in her name. “That is the reason why I started the [Joanne L. Hurley] book prize in her honor, as you might remember from the Chanticleer conference,” Hurley said. “ When I got the award, I said I was going to start a book prize in honor of my mother, and I did. We just made the first award on May 22nd, to a highschool student here who wrote a novella, and we had a runner-up, and they’re going to get a conference with a literary agent, so I’m excited about that.” Hurley might have remained in the nonfiction world had it not been for the inspiration of a North Carolina friend.
Ocracoke, North Carolina, setting for The Prodigal
“For years and years, I never wrote fiction, I wrote op-ed pieces, I was studying to become an English teacher, so I wrote some journal articles about how you teach writing, and all that, but I didn’t really have a facility for fiction. I wasn’t a big fiction reader myself. It wasn’t until I moved to North Carolina that Nicholas Sparks, who at the time was a pharmaceutical sales rep, published a novel.” Hurley and Sparks spent time together sailing and with each other’s families, and Sparks told Hurley that he was going to write a novel. Hurley always teased him about this, until afterwards with the success of Spark’s book turned movie The Notebook. “ It was like a year later that the local paper in our town, New Bern, had a banner headline that said he had a million-dollar advance from Warner Books for The Notebook. And of course, the rest is history.” And yet, there were a lot of Nick Sparks novels on the shelves before Mr. Hurley found the motivation he needed. “At the time, like a lot of lawyers, I had a few lines scratched down about a novel I planned to write, and I thought, ‘Here’s Nick working a full-time job, and he can bang out a novel, and what’s my excuse?’ Whatever it was, I continued to find an excuse for another twenty years, and I didn’t finish my book until I sold my memoir to Hachette. That was the sailing memoir, Once upon a Gypsy Moon. I was flabbergasted that I was able to get an agent, that the agent was able to get a fabulous offer from Hachette, and that Hachette loved the book. And so, my agent asked
me, ‘What else have you got?’ and I said, ‘I’ve got this novel I’ve been percolating for twenty years.’ That was The Prodigal. So I hurried up and finished that, and once I realized I could write a novel, and I could finish it, and I got the confidence to work with characters and dialogue, I realized that was what I wanted to do. I wanted primarily to be a fiction author, and less so nonfiction.” The newfound literary career has enabled Mr. Hurley to rekindle interest in his nature and travel writing. “Along the way, I also published a quarterly literary journal on wilderness canoeing called Hurley’s Journal, and that took off like a rocket. My kids were five and six years old, I loved to canoe and camp, and I was looking to take them with me. So I started writing some stories and publishing a little journal that I printed on my laser jet. I sent around a few copies to family and friends, and people started sending me money for this journal. Pretty soon, I was on the internet, and people were sending in money to subscribe. It ran for about eight years, and by the time it was over, I had accumulated some ten thousand subscribers in forty-eight states.” Hurley says he’s proud of the publication’s content, as well as having it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.” “It’s a beautiful hardcover volume. But the kind of canoeing that I did, which was wood-canvas canoes, Baker tents, cooking over an open fire, portage packs and all that, has sort of passed out of vogue. Most of the people who did that are long gone or not canoeing any more. Kids today, they want to do the stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and all that. I think that star has risen and gone for that type of canoeing and that type of book. But I wanted to put it together as a memento for my kids.” Like Sir Francis Chichester, Michael Hurley faced and defeated the mental stressors of his voyage. As was the case for Sir Francis, his sailing vessel suffered numerous insults from an angry sea. Unlike the Gipsy
Moth, the Prodigal could not withstand the battering. She took on water in the Atlantic Ocean and had to be scuttled. Mr. Hurley is safe, and it’s not hard to assume that he has acquired enough firsthand experience to turn his next upcoming book, The Passage, into an incredibly insightful character study, as well as a thrilling story. As was the case with his two previous novels, Chanticleer Book Reviews will be reviewing Hurley’s The Passage. Look for the review, coming soon.
The traditional publishing industry is broken… …because the gates are closed to talented new authors.
Self-publishing never had a chance… …because there is no quality control.
Virtues of War
Winner 2013 Cygnus Award Military Science Fiction
Finalist 2013 Indie Book Award General Fiction
In Search of Sticks
Finalist 2014 Somerset Award
Top 10 2014 Ben Franklin Awards
There has to be another way… …which isn’t all about the money. Promontory Press is a new kind of publisher which offers the high quality, full distribution and sales support of traditional publishing, blended with the fexibility and author control of self-publishing. Created by authors for authors, Promontory recognizes that publishing is a business, but never forgets that writing is an art.
If you have a great book and want a great shot at the market, contact us.
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:
Mystery & Mayhem
Contemporary, Mainstream, Literary Fiction
Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
Young Adult Fiction
Fantasy, Science Fiction
“The Roman Empire is no longer a Republic; it is failing...”
any know the story of how Jesus Christ came and founded Christianity Christianity through the death, resurrection, and crucifixion, but do we know the full story, now millennia old? Sean Curley’s story, Propositum, unfolds to answer this question in a book that is part historical text and part political subversion. Caesars rise and fall by the decisions made by Proculus and Maximus, two great minds who subtly guide the ebb and flow of the Senate and the most powerful voices in Rome, just barely ahead of the crumbling empire. The Roman Empire is no longer a Republic; it is failing. Since the death of Augustus Caesar, each of his successors has proven weaker, feebleminded, and unable to rise to the governance of the former Republic. Proculus, a former senator cannot bear to see his country fall into an inevitable civil war with Judea. His solution is to gather Saul, a young man who admires the senator greatly, his military friend Maximus, and Maximus’ daughter Curia. Each character carries a vital aspect of the plan to fruition. The plan? Create a way for gentiles (non-Jews) to be converted to Judaism without the need for the Jewish laws. Through uniting the two huge groups, Proculus and his allies seek to create a stronger Rome, unified by law and religion. The book is well-researched, with each Caesar a nod to history, the knowledge of Jewish communities most akin to Christianity, and Curley’s biblical information shows the clever way religion can be reinvented. The history will put some readers in the mind of the Book of Kings, or, for those less biblically versed, in the dusty classroom where they first had the classics explained to them. While for
some, this will distract from the story, the historical distance emphasizes the parallel distance. Proculus and Maximus feel from their goals. The disconnection from the reality of their actions proves highly effective as the book progresses. Curley plays the long game in the set-up for thisbook, just like Proculus with his propositum. Antioch is the setting for part one, focusing on Saul and Proculus developing this plan. Saul is the least informed member of the conspiracy, the Jew needed to spread the new religion, and who can be controlled and influenced by his Roman counterparts. Maximus doesn’t receive a proper introduction until Proculus’ first journey to Rome, where he proves himself as a respected and stalwart soldier, with more contacts than you can shake a stick at. Curia and Saul (who eventually changes his name to Paul), are two of the most interesting characters, as they are brought into the plan, Curia with full knowledge that a potential war between Judea and the Roman Empire might be just what is needed to solidify the sympathy of the Roman people with the Jews, and Paul none-the-wiser for his efforts. Curia and Paul are linked by Curia’s role as the eyes, ears, and center of the plan in Rome. Without her, Paul’s church of Christianity would wilt and wither, but Paul still cannot bring himself to reconcile one simple aspect of Curia’s personality: she is a woman. Paul’s sexism is often a point of tension between the rest of the group and the proselytizer.
line between fact and fiction, between belief and self-deception is so blurred that this is a book with many interpretations. Its merit lies in the momentum of the plans, that once started, cannot stop. All of which is aided by Curley’s knowledge of the subject, which highlight and showcase subtlety well in his book. A worthwhile read.
Propositum The Author:
Sean Curley Genre(s):
Fiction, Historical Fiction Review:
D. Beaumier Publisher:
Most interesting is that this book makes no claim about the validity of religion. There are true believers in these pages who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. There are visions, there are miracles, but the
Bradshaw is unaware that a seemingly trivial domestic concern at home is about to sweep him into the underworld of Seattle...”
Fatal Induction The Author:
Bernadette Pajer Genre(s):
Fiction, Historical Fiction, Lab Lit/ Science, Mystery Review:
A. Libey Publisher:
Poisoned Pen Press (2012)
et against the backdrop of a national tragedy—the assassination of President McKinley— Fatal Induction by Bernadette Pajer follows Professor Benjamin Bradshaw as he scrambles to catch a killer. The year is 1901 and Seattle is a vibrant and up-andcoming city. Bradshaw, a professor of electrical engineering and a passionate inventor, has entered a new invention competition for a device that will carry the sounds of a musical theater production through telephone wires to listeners in the comfort of their own homes. Bradshaw is unaware that a seemingly trivial domestic concern at home is about to sweep him into the underworld of Seattle. With the needling of his housekeeper, Mrs. Prouty, Bradshaw inspects a peddler’s cart that has been abandoned near his house. “Ralph’s Redeeming Restorative” is emblazoned across the side and upon further investigation, Bradshaw discovers a small and well-loved doll inside the cart that must surely belong to a young girl. Bradshaw turns to good friend Detective James O’Brien for help in locating the girl and her father. He discovers the missing peddler’s body in his own neighborhood and quickly realizes that the only witness to his murder may be his missing daughter, Emily, which puts her in grave danger. When Bradshaw finds that solving the murder of a roving peddler is not high on the police department agenda, he must
rely on his own skills of deduction to locate Emily. Bradshaw finds himself delving into the seedy underbelly of Seattle, the wicked tenderloin district. Death threats are quick to follow and Bradshaw finds himself embroiled in something much larger and more far-reaching than he ever suspected. Bradshaw has something else to cope with as well— his growing affection for a young woman named Missouri, the niece of his best friend and a woman Bradshaw feels he can never be with. Pajer’s vivid writing takes readers to this exciting time that is in the crossroads of scientific investigation and innovation, when automobiles and horse drawn carts compete for the same streets, and the United States reels with political unrest and social upheaval. Readers will warm to the curmudgeonly and reserved professor who has a heart of gold and a penchant for investigation. All four books in the series have earned the peer reviewed Washington Academy of Sciences Seal of Approval for scientific accuracy. Like all important novels, this mystery has wider implications for the larger world than the story is set in. We posit that the Professor Bradshaw series is on its way to being considered a classic in the mystery genre. Fatal Induction by Bernadette Pajer was awarded the Overall Grand Prize for Best Book in the Mystery and Mayhem Awards 2013, a division of Chanticleer Blue Ribbon Writing Competitions.
“Sam and Melanie aren’t prepared for the troubled times ahead of them...”
hoices by Kate Vale is a modern day romance story set in small town USA about a seemingly perfect family that ends up experiencing the harder side of life. The story is heart wrenching, but it is ultimately inspiring even though it deals with divorce, infidelity, and relationships. This novel uniquely shows the gritty and often ignored side of what families with kids go through when a marriage breaks apart. Melanie, the main character, finds herself in a position that no mother or wife ever expects or wants: her husband has just walked out on their family and she is left alone to pick up the pieces. She finds herself having to support her three children by herself and her kids are blaming her for their dad’s disappearance from their lives. The reader is dropped right into the heart of the story from the very beginning when Melanie is confronted by her estranged husband telling her he wants “out” of their marriage. He declares couples counseling was simply a waste of his time and he wants the marriage to be over so he can move on with his life. Self-doubt creeps through Melanie’s mind and she wonders why her husband would want to leave after sixteen years of a seemingly good marriage and what she could have done differently. It’s not long after her husband deserts her and their children that she re-meets Sam. Sam, the detective, the single detective who is smitten with Melanie from the get-go. He immediately takes to her kids and wonders what it would be
like to have the full life of a family, house and all the trimmings. He carefully pursues Melanie in hopes of a life with her and her children. But Sam and Melanie aren’t prepared for the troubled times ahead of them. Melanie finds herself with two angry and troubled teens, both acting out and getting themselves into some frightening situations. Sam finds work colliding with his personal life and his attempts to court Melanie. And Melanie’s ex-husband has become jealous and angry at the thought of another man stepping into his role as husband and father. Can Sam, Melanie, and her children be there for each other and help each other when tragedy strikes and life gets even harder?
Choices The Author:
Kate Vale Genre(s):
Contemporary, Fiction, Romance Review:
T. Mitchell Publisher:
Create Space Independent Publishing Platform
Vale’s Choices sincerely explores the pain and anger that can come with a messy divorce in a realistic and honest way. This is a novel that everyone who has experienced the sting of divorce and troubled teens can relate to. Choices by Kate Vale is a sweet romance novel with a truly heart-warming ending. Each character grows and changes from beginning to end in this novel, making it not only a great read, but an inspiring one as well. Vale wrote a page turning story that I wouldn’t hesitate to read again! Choices by Kate Vale received the Chatelaine Grand Prize Award 2013 for Romantic Fiction, a division of Chanticleer Blue Ribbon Writing Competitions.
“Technology hasn’t made the city easier or safer to live in...”
ndividually Wrapped tells us the bizarre tale of Sam Gregory’s descent over the condensed course of a couple of days. Set in a 21st century futuristic city, technology has permeated every aspect of the city dwellers’ lives. In some ways things are more efficient: cars drive themselves, doors open on voice command, money is exchanged via thumbprints. None of the technologies presented are farfetched; many exist today.
Individually Wrapped The Author:
Jeremy Bullian Genre(s):
However, technology hasn’t made the city easier or safer to live in; traffic problems, vagrants, theft, and serial killers still abound. Workweeks include Saturday; workdays are commonly 10 hours. Sam has integrated his car’s computer system – dubbed Susan – into his home environment to simplify things.
Contemporary, Social Issues, CyberTech, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Sci-Fi Review:
Only problem is, Susan is developing her own personality.Sam has been given the opportunity to pitch to an important client, Nutrixion, for the ad agency he’s worked at for eight years. Sam won an award for a campaign for a paid toilet system, but hasn’t done much since, and is suffering burnout. His former partner is now his boss: a lumbering, balding, donut- and pornography-indulging man who is growing weary of his subordinate’s slacking. If Sam can’t step up his game, he’s in danger of losing his job, and he knows it.
J. Parry Publisher:
Amazon Create Space
But everything in the universe seems to conspire against his being able to get the job done, and he’s running low on excuses.Sam, and his story, is a vehicle for questioning the big-picture elements of life as we know it: Can we achieve a utopian society? How much control can we really gain over our lives, and is perceived control better than none? Are we just bits and pieces in a bigger machine controlled by a greater force? What liberties are we willing
to give up in order to be free from mundane tasks and duties? What happens when what we created starts creating? Is technology our salvation? Ian, Sam’s coworker, thinks so, and uses it not only for work but for entertainment. He drags Sam out for a night at a club, where the patrons enjoy virtual realities of their own creation, although the alcohol is very real. By now Sam is stuttering intermittently, has headaches and numbness on one side, but doesn’t seem to take any of it as a serious problem; just side effects from a minor car accident and sleeping wrong. He still joins in the fun, and decides to become his spy-movie hero, Victor Nil. The near-comic events of the night continue his downward spiral, although he gains insight into his highsecurity account, setting off in him a course to take down the product, its parent company, and his agency. Sam sees himself as a hero, not unlike Victor Nil, but doesn’t give his plan a lot of due diligence, or pay much attention to his cautioning subconscious, with which at this point he is having out-loud conversations. He is also becoming paranoid, encouraged in part by the culture of his workplace. Self-delusion is an interesting state of mind, because everyone can see it except yourself, as it propels you ever deeper into oblivion, where not even technology can save you. An average guy with a college degree, Sam’s search for meaning and significance collide with his need for privacy, intimacy, and revenge, sometimes helped but more so hindered by technology. Individually Wrapped is a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of computers taking over in a modern world, showing how humans might not benefit from its intruding tendrils as much as technology proponents had intended in their quest for a utopian society. ➥
“Mysteries, both major and minor, are introduced in the form of a stealthy blue-eyed fisherman...”
artha’s Vineyard, an island located south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, providesthe tradition-laden setting for a summer reunion of three long-time girlfriends, who were roommates in college. Dory, Charlotte, and Turner are now in their early thirties, single, sharing their mistakes and their lives’ courses, which find them alternately in heaps of tears and laughter as they get reacquainted. For as pleasant a place as a well-appointed island guest-house should be for a reunion, a cloud of ominousness hovers over it. One of the girlfriends, Charlotte, has a darker purpose for attending the gathering. We, the readers, are accompanied onto the island with Charlotte and her well-thought out plan for self-destruction. Charlotte is distraught over a decision by the Catholic Church over her deceased daughter, and would rather be with her little girl than to try to find purpose or happiness in this life. However, the best laid schemes of mice and men (or in this case, women) often go awry. Dory, the host with the Vineyard estate, connections, and an overbearing mother, is staying the course of all familial expectations, driven by decades of what was handed down to her. Turner, the last to join the trio, has reason to doubt her course, but is too ashamed to confront Dory with what she knows. Mysteries, both major and minor, are introduced in the form of a stealthy blueeyed fisherman – the only one who can find shrimp in the area; a glowing red light, and unexplained occurrences that have miraculous results for two of the ladies. The story takes unexpected twists and turns, as it meanders into the history of some of the local men and their relationships with the women. Individually Wrapped by Jeremy Bullianwas awarded the Grand Prize in the Somerset Awards for Literary and Contemporary Fiction, a division of Chanticleer Reviews International Writing Competitions.
The Vineyard The Author:
Michael Hurley Surrounded by wealth, deception, opulent parties, and the high life of summer at the Vineyard, the fisherman stands in contrast as a beacon of innocence and light; a moral compass in a world of selfishness, extravagance and greed – an almost Christlike figure some presume to be a prophet. That makes him a target of those with lower impulses and motivations, and one of the women will betray him in an effort to save herself. Trust is violated in multiple ways as the women seek justice for some of the wrongs inflicted upon them by those with self-serving motives, motives that are in conflict with the trust their posts should elicit. Intimate situations arise, or in some cases, barely arise, and not always to the satisfaction of both parties. Blackmail, manipulation, and ulterior motives abound. Meanwhile, one of the three is leaking out the miracles and the oddities of their summer via her blog, causing a stir none of them could have anticipated.
Contemporary, Contemporary Social Issues, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Women’s Contemporary Fiction Review:
K. Brown and J. Parry Publisher:
Ragbagger Press (2014)
The Vineyard is a multi-layered modern tale of women’s self discovery and coming into their own, of men getting their comeuppance, and mysteries begging to be solved. An exposé of marriage and the Catholic Church drive the events and the histories Michael Hurley’s signature style of of the characters and place. But metaphor and allegory runs delightfully where tradition may be lost, hope just below the surface of the storyline is not. As the final pages approach adding dimension and intrigue. Scandal and all too quickly, The Vineyard betrayal juxtapose the idyllic and captivating delivers the satisfaction one hopes setting of Martha’s Vineyard in this for, just as the rising tide carries a enigmatic work that encompasses tragedy beached vessel back to safety of and hope, human frailties and strengths, of the deep. contemporary American society.
“Hurley unfolds the timeless stories of transgression and forgiveness...
The Prodigal The Author:
Michael Hurley Genre(s):
Contemporary, Fiction, Southern Literature, Travel Adventure Review:
K. Brown Publisher:
Ragbagger Press (2014)
ndoubtedly one of the best new books I’ve read, The Prodigal by Michael Hurley is the novel I tell everybody they must read. This award winning novel is a story that you will not soon forget. The Prodigal could be interpreted as a coming of age story, not of teenagers or young adults, but of the middle-aged. Mature adults who seem to have it all together, but grapple with insubstantiality. Adults, who as arrows of Life’s bow, are missing their true target. These are the vividly drawn characters of Michael Hurley’s novel. A riveting and socially relevant tale, The Prodigal is a contemporary marvel of an legorical story of vices and virtues, of Achilles’ heels, and odysseys into the unknown. Hurley spans two thousand years, several oceans, and eternal love with adventure and captivation. The protagonist, Aidan, finds himself stripped of all his privileged-trappings: professional kudos, private clubs, top level connections, cash, even credit cards, due to a quick and nearly fatal bite from one of his own kind, an attorney of law. Aidan’s mentor sends him to the backwaters of
gale strengths, sometimes with stalling headwinds, and sometimes becalming. And then there are those magical times in our lives when we have the wind at our backs and our sails on a broad reach going faster than hull speed—our eyes on the prize. The Prodigal portrays these moments with powerful writing that is finely nuanced. Hurley unfolds the timeless stories of transgression and forgiveness, of despair and hope, of damnation and redemption with brilliant subtlety in this riptide of a novel. The Prodigal was awarded the Chanticleer Best Book of the Year Award 2013 and the
Okracoke Island in North Carolina, a land sequestered between the Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, to get his bearings. Okracoke is often described as a geographical oddity with the folks to go with it. This quirky island has a single paved road and is only accessible by boat; it is so isolated that you can still hear traces of Elizabethan English spoken by the locals. It is as it has always been–a place treacherous enough to be a safe haven. It is here in Okracoke that Aidan meets the others whose fates and chances are bound up with his.The tides, winds, and currents of life propel us along in directions that, unless we take notice and change our sails, might endanger us, indeed, ensnare our very souls. Hurley captures the forces that swirl among us; sometimes with dangerous
Michael Hurley’s The Prodigal won the Chanticleer Grand Prize for Best Book 2013 and the Somerset Grand Prize for Literary Fiction. The Prodigal was optioned for film rights by Diane Isaacs, executive film producer August 2014. His memoir, Once Upon a Gypsy Moon, is published by Hachette. We are looking forward to reviewing his next work, The Passage, that will chronicle his solo Atlantic Ocean crossing on his 30-foot sailboat, The Prodigal.
“They race against time, money, and natural elements to save the David B...”
ore faster backwards,” she yells to the boat captain. Christine Smith’s angst makes her words tumble out scrambled. These words, now the book title, summarize how obstacles pushed Christine and her husband Jeffrey “more faster backwards” during their boat’s reconstruction.
They race against time, money, and natural elements to save the David B—the vessel that they bet all of their resources on in hopes of making their dream of owning and operating a small expedition cruise boat in the Pacific Northwest come true. The adventure begins when Christine and Jeffrey Smith, searching for an old boat to transform into a small passenger vessel, examine a sixty-five foot 1929 work-boat, precariously moored on Lopez Island—the neglected wooden vessel that hovers near death is the David B. However, Jeffrey sees the elegant beauty of a three cylinder antique engine and the strength of the hull made from Northwest timber. Christine saw the look in Jeffrey’s eyes and knew that this was the boat. In the opening pages, we learn they’ve accomplished part of their dream and we’re ready to climb aboard. The author seamlessly carries us from her present experiences and joy during the sea voyage, back into her memories, where she relives the enormous hurdles of the rebuild process. The flashbacks work well because we want to know. Need to know. With hearts captivated by the David B, the couple gambles everything. Looming bankruptcy lurks alongside the other huge challenges. Anxiety heightens because their cherished family and friends (without whom they couldn’t have succeeded) share the risk. Readers will think, “This can’t be done” and then ask themselves, “How did they do it?” Intrigued from beginning to end, we peek into the lives of the author, her husband, the crew, family, and friends. We yearn for their success and their safety. More Faster Backwards, Rebuilding David B seamlessly mixes nautical terms with
More Faster Backwards The Author:
Christine Smith Genre(s):
Boating, Pacific Northwest nonficiton, Sports natural elements and boat builder’s craft. Those who enjoy cooking and baking will also discover it a delightful read. Seafaring people will sail through the narrative like soul mates, but landlubbers might appreciate a glossary of boating terms. The map provides great references and the photo albums heighten the pleasure.
Marion Spicher Publisher:
Old Heavy Duty Publishing (2011)
A sample of Smith’s fluid writing style: “Jeffrey worked the boat with the skill of a lover. Every movement she made, he watched carefully, to see how she responded to his commands, the light breeze, and the incoming tide.” When the literary boat trip ends, readers might sense an inner torch quicken along with the call to embrace their dreams anew. As for Christine and Jeffrey, the restoration of the David B is just the beginning. More Faster Backwards, Rebuilding David B by Christine Smith won 1st Place in the Adventure/Travel category of the Journey Awards for Narrative Non-fiction, a division of Chanticleer Book Reviews Blue Ribbon Writing Competitions.
“These are women who are lifelong explorers and learners...”
19 Remarkable Northwest Women The Author:
Carolyn Leeper Genre(s):
A. Libey Publisher:
Amazon Digital Services, Inc. (2014)
arolyn Leeper’s newest work, 19 Remarkable Northwest Women, is an inspiring and motivational compilation of profiles of 19 women she has met through the years. These women have led very different lives, but they all have one thing in common: the ability to “evoke change through choice” (as Billie Miller states in the foreword). The book is composed of short vignettes, each profiling a different northwest woman who Mrs. Leeper finds inspirational. These women are very different; they range from entrepreneurs, to writers, private investigators, captains, CEOs and more. Each profile covers the featured woman’s career history, interests, what advice she would offer to other women, and ends with a short horoscope reading. The advice offered throughout the book is consistently uplifting and motivating, with an emphasis on action, involvement, and having the tenacity to grab opportunities as they arise. The book features women such as Robin Akkermann, Pamela Beason, Kathryn Brown, Deborah McFarlane, and Irene Roberts. Many of the women featured have held multiple and varied careers. All of the women have created change and success in their lives through conscious decision making, often at very difficult times. These are women who are lifelong explorers and learners; women who are actively involved in life. They are the kind of women that we interact with on a daily basis. These are not extreme sports athletes, or corporate moguls, or women who have survived devastating situations.
They are women with whom most of us can relate to and that is the beauty of Mrs. Leeper’s slim volume. These are ordinary women who have had positive impact on many lives–especially in the Pacific Northwest. Mrs. Leeper’s passes their advice on to young women to follow their passions, never give up, and help each other along the way. 19 Remarkable Northwest Women focuses on the work/ life balance that many women feel they struggle with. Mrs. Leeper lets the reader know that women really can have it all…with a support network in place, the encouragement of other women, and the gumption to go out there and do it. As Mrs. Leeper states, “These women are living the lives they want…not just doing what others expect of them.” [Editor’s Note: The only item that I would add to 19 Remarkable Northwest Women is that Carolyn Leeper should round out the number to 20 remarkable northwest women. Mrs. Leeper, author and interviewer of this work is a published author, retired travel agent, an emeritus board member of Whatcom Writers and Publishers, a longstanding member of Washington Business and Professional Women organization, and an active volunteer with many non-profits.]
“It has helped me set boundaries and given me new tools that I can implement today and in the days ahead...”
ith its compassionate, yet nononsense approach, Caregiving Our Loved Ones will be appreciated by anyone who must navigate the turbulent waters of looking after an ill loved one. I count myself among them, having served as caregiver for my mother, who has suffered from dementia since 2004. Dr. Nanette Davis discusses numerous caregiving topics, from transitioning into the role of caregiver and advocate to dealing with medical misdiagnosis and overmedication, even survivors’ guilt. She offers expert advice intertwined with practical tips and strategies that she has gleaned from her own caregiving journey, along with relating the experiences of sixty other caregivers who have shared their experiences with her. Each chapter ends with key ‘Lessons Learned’—helpful takeaways for the reader. What I particularly appreciate about Dr. Davis’ guide is that she covers the complexity of family dynamics and its inherent conflicts. It was especially heartening for me to know that I am not alone in feeling (sometimes) less-thanaltruistic in my caregiving role. She identifies the stages and transitions that caregivers go through (or may remain in), and in doing so, explores the forces that form our thoughts, actions, and reactions. She also reminds us of the emotions that our loved one may be experiencing, so we may have a better understanding of their perspective. Dr. Davis doesn’t shy away from the dysfunctional free-for-alls that can and do take place when siblings and family members are in conflict over what to do
when they find themselves in the trenches of caregiving. Her suggestions for “parenting the parent” are particularly invaluable. Dr. Davis also discusses more taboo subjects that most of us would feel awkward about broaching, such as the difficulties of becoming a caregiver for one’s spouse. And she takes the time to inform her readers about the symptoms of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia, cancer, and other ailments, so they can be better prepared for their journey. From my own personal experience and reading, I would emphasize that Dr. Davis’ accounts and insights of the complex relationships between caregivers and their loved ones are right on target. Caregivers could gain much from her tips for dealing with the ongoing emotional, financial and health toll of taking care of someone who will never get better. Caregiving Our Loved Ones is a positive tome that left me feeling more empowered and energized in my role of caregiver. It has helped me set boundaries and given me new tools that I can implement today and in the days ahead. Dr. Davis’ reminds us that chronic diseases tend to have two victims— the patient and the caregiver—unless steps are taken by the caregiver to prevent losing herself and, ultimately, her health.
“Caregiving Our Loved Ones” Stories and Strategies That Will Change Your Life The Author:
Nanette Davis, Ph.D Genre(s):
Health, Non-Fiction, Senior Care Review:
K. Brown Publisher:
House of Harmony Press (2012)
I highly recommend this informative and compassionate book to anyone who finds herself at the crossroads of taking on the caregiver mantle. This book recieved first place in the category Career Experiences for the Journey Awards.
“Social class differences can be nearly as disruptive as ethnic or racial distinctions...”
Mixed Blessings: A Guide to Multicultural and Multiethnic Relationships The Author:
Harriet Cannon, Rhoda Berlin Genre(s):
Health, NonFiction Review:
N. Davis, Ph.D Publisher:
Mixed Blessings LLC
hat genuinely makes a difference in a couple’s ability and willingness to nurture and maintain their relationship? Rhoda Berlin and Harriet Cannon, both highly insightful psychotherapists, address this significant question through a series of fictional case studies of multicultural and multiethnic couples. Each couple’s story demonstrates a crucial concept, such as ethnocentrism, the belief that one’s own culture is always right; cultural universal, an element, pattern or institution that is common in some form to all human cultures, such as age-related roles; and acculturation, adapting to the patterns or customs of a new culture. Other impediments to relationship harmony that are illustrated by the couples’ case studies include: cultural loss, the experience of moving out of one’s culture, social class or ethnic enclave resulting in a sense of estrangement; subculture, membership in an in-group within the majority culture, such as the military or a sorority; cultural grieving, the inability to overcome the loss from migrating to another country or marrying into a different type of family culture; cultural identity, the culture we identify with and feel as a “second skin;” and code switching, the ability to move fluently from one language and cultural context to another. Children accomplish cultural shifts most easily, code switching from their family’s way of life to a new language or social mores within months. Middle-aged people tend to resist change, hanging on to their traditional life-ways. Older persons may never make a successful shift out of their traditional culture, religion or social class. Particularly revealing is the notion that people socialized in an individualistic culture, such as America, Canada, the British Isles, Australia, New Zealand or Western Europe, have a demonstrably different social context for relating than people growing up in a collectivist type society.
For instance, the extended family remains a major concern for persons growing up in such areas as rural China, Asia, Eastern Europe or India. Rather than cherishing an improved career or making lifestyle improvements through geographic changes, as in individualistic cultures, extended family-oriented persons are unwilling to sacrifice traditional values of support, loyalty and social approval. For example, a partially acculturated wife who grew up with the expectation that she must cater to her culturally grieving mother’s unceasing demands will find her more successfully adapted husband very unsympathetic to such arrangements. Multicultural and multiethnic couples get especially hung-up in the shift from early to later stages of their relationship, such as when they encounter the extended family. Let’s highlight one case. William, an American, had an uncle who served in World War II and had returned from that war profoundly impacted by years of internment in a Japanese prison camp. William’s implicit family rule of “never buy Japanese” proved to be a serious drawback for his new companion, Eve, a JapaneseAmerican woman, who had suffered the indignities of living as a child in an American prison camp simply because she was Japanese. Eve experienced “hidden trauma” as she confronted the family’s prejudice and ➥
Mixed Blessings continued discrimination, contributing to her withdrawal, but William insisted they work out their difficulties. Through counseling, Eve and William developed a “big picture” of their situation, encouraging the extended family to leave their ethnocentrism behind. Now, family members even buy Japanese cars! Social class differences can be nearly as disruptive as ethnic or racial distinctions. Take the situation of an Indian couple, one from a Brahmin family and the other from a middle class background. The authors portray how cultural differences in their parents’ cooking, gift giving, household décor or child rearing practices can readily upset a couple’s harmony. Mixed Blessings is a fascinating and educational guide to understanding and healing couples’ relationships under pressure from ethnic, geographic, racial, social class and other cultural disparities. Not only do the authors provide incredibly lucid portraits of couples’ differences that make a difference, but they also indicate steps couples can take to minimize or eradicate apparent diversities. I strongly recommend this book for its courageous leap forward to elucidate the “hidden culture” that separates and divides loving families and especially for the authors’ substantial skills in showing us the various ways of healing the breaches.
Travelers, educators and students going abroad, along with business people who want a better understanding of how to recognize and bridge cultural gaps would also benefit from reading Mixed Blessings.
“Malhotra aims to move people beyond their negativity, beyond holding on to old problems...”
ne rarely sees a self-help book from a practicing psychotherapist that offers more humor and appeal to the common denominator in all of us than this collection of brief stories: Metaphors of Healing : Playful Language in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life. Dr. Malhotra offers a simple, but brilliant, idea: Use the healing language of metaphor as a therapeutic strategy and a curative approach for daily life. Metaphors of Healing organizes metaphors by themes, including “The Daily Grind,” “Dating,” “Being a Better and Happier You,” and “Addiction,” among the 14 chapter titles. For instance, try reading “Is the Left Lane Too Fast?” as a metaphor for slowing down, easing the professional load, and getting reacquainted with our family. Its appeal is in the simplicity of applying the idea toward easing anxiety and cutting back on the “daily grind” most of us know too well. In addition, we gain a visceral sense of how the self-imposed pressure to succeed contributes to everyday unease and unnecessary fears. Another feature of Metaphors is how easily
Metaphors of Healing: Playful Language in Pschotheraphy and Everyday Life The Author:
Dr. Harish Malhotra Genre(s): one remembers a story, but forgets most of the high-minded advice of a therapist. If the story fits (and most of these have the superb quality of fitting very well) a client can leave his therapy session with an entirely new way of dealing One rarely sees a self-help book from a practicing psychotherapist that offers more humor and appeal to the common denominator in all of us than this collection of brief stories: Metaphors of Healing : ➥
Health, NonFiction Review:
N. Davis, Ph.D Publisher:
Metaphors of Healing continued Playful Language in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life. Dr. Malhotra offers a simple, but brilliant, idea: Use the healing language of metaphor as a therapeutic strategy and a curative approach for daily life. Metaphors of Healing organizes metaphors by themes, including “The Daily Grind,” “Dating,” “Being a Better and Happier You,” and “Addiction,” among the 14 chapter titles. For instance, try reading “Is the Left Lane Too Fast?” as a metaphor for slowing down, easing the professional load, and getting reacquainted with our family. Its appeal is in the simplicity of applying the idea toward easing anxiety and cutting back on the “daily grind” most of us know too well. In addition, we gain a visceral sense of how the self-imposed pressure to succeed contributes to everyday unease and unnecessary fears. Another feature of Metaphors is how easily one remembers a story, but forgets most of the high-minded advice of a therapist. If the story fits (and most of these have the superb quality of fitting very well) a client can leave his therapy session with an entirely new way of dealing with his or her issue. For instance, he says, “A dead-end road is not the same as a dead end journey.” We can always find another route more effective than the lost cause we thought was our destiny. Malhotra’s training in both psychotherapy and behavioral approaches offered flexibility for initially coping with his patients’ various maladies. Shifting to metaphor when confronting dis-ease, he discovered, incorporated an even broader spectrum: healing words from unexpected sources.
Who knew a figure of speech could have such transformative powers? Malhotra aims to move people beyond their negativity, beyond their holding on to old problems, and even beyond their expectations to achieve a lifestyle free of judgment and criticism. I found his ideas on marriage as mindfulness exercises very significant—he speaks of empathy as the path to marital happiness: “Walking in the moccasins of one’s spouse” contributes to compassion and forgiveness, opening the door to an enduring love. The author is not a Pollyanna, an everything-is-beautiful-if only-you employa-metaphor to your life issues. Change requires commitment and persistence. We all seek successful relationships, whether we are talking about a difficult boss, an annoying neighbor next-door or our beloved spouse. Malhotra stresses how precious any relationship can be when it is working, even when it is very challenging. The healing power of any relationship blooms only under certain conditions, however: practicing the difficult virtues of restraint and diligence. This is not a book to be read in one sitting or all at once. It is one that the reader will find herself/himself picking up again and again taking in a chapter or a metaphor to ponder and, perhaps, adapt. It will become, more or less, a gentle companion that guides and inspires. One will find, on reflection and on rereading, that these simple stories contain deep insight and wisdom. Clinicians and those seeking to increase their understanding of themselves and their fellow humans would benefit immensely from reading Metaphors of Healing.
“Escape routes became instrumental as more and more Allied airmen were shot down in Nazi-occupied France...
he Shelburne Escape Line begins with MI-9 (British Military Intelligence) announcing “Bonjour tout le monde à la maison d’Alphonse” over the BBC shortwave French language service. The date: January 28, 1944. This announcement was a code for confirming the covert pickup of downed Allied aviators hidden by the French Resistance well within the Nazi occupiers’ patrol range.
The Shelburne Escape Line The Author:
Once you pick up this book by Réanne Hemingway-Douglass, you will not be able to put it down. The author attended university in France in 1953. While there, she lived with a French family and heard their amazing stories about the French Resistance. During subsequent visits, the more accounts were shared with Réanne, the more engrossed she became in the stories about the French Underground with its safe houses for the Allied aviators its members rescued and hid. Réanne also learned of the British Royal Navy’s clandestine pickups of downed airmen, and London’s MI-9 involvement. This is not a fictionalized tale of heroics, but one of everyday people who endangered their lives and those of their families, as they answered General Charles De Gaulle’s call to action to regain France and her liberty. And this meant fighting against her occupiers in any way possible. These ordinary people took extraordinary risks in creating an escape organization for the secret evacuation of Allied Forces. Escape routes became instrumental as more and more Allied airmen were shot down in Nazi-occupied France. Getting these men back to English soil was more than just humanitarian aid; it was imperative to get these highly trained aviators back into the fight for freedom against the Nazi forces as quickly as possible. We learn that other escape routes had been infiltrated and collapsed due to Nazi-sympathizers.
The author shares the accounts told to her of the violence committed upon members of the various resistance groups in the Nazi’s effort to infiltrate and destroy them. She tells of the brutal treatment some underwent without revealing their secrets. This book is divided into two distinct sections. Part II deals with a brief history of a small number of World War II French Resistance members and their staggering contributions to the escape and evasion efforts of Allied airmen, as well as the MI-9 agents and French patriots needing to escape to England. The Shelburne Escape Line, although short-lived, was the only such route never infiltrated by the Nazis.
French Resistance, Historical, NonFiction, WWII accounts Review:
D. Wright Publisher:
Cave Art Press (2014)
The author chronicles the selfless giving of assistance by the people who, prior to the war, were bakers, teachers, farmers, and mechanics. We are reminded of the rationing and scarce food supplies these heroes shared with those they rescued and hid. They did this with the knowledge that, at any moment, their participation in the escape plans could mean their imprisonment in a horrid Gestapo prison camp or their execution as acting as spies for the Allied Forces. ➥
The Shelburne Escape Line continued Part II of the book deals with first person accounts of Allied airmen and their stories of how they were assisted in their escape and repatriation back to England. Several of these stories tell the tale of the airmen from their point of view; about the circumstances of their downing into occupied territory; the hazardous rescues by the French Resistance; the apprehensive time spent in hiding— not knowing if they would be able to escape before being discovered. The chance of being killed by enemy forces or friendly fire was immeasurable for everyone within the war-torn country. We also learn about the harrowing stories of families and children who had their lives turned upside down by the Nazi occupation and the requirements to “work for the fatherland.” Each of these stories is a wellwritten account of a small slice of the war and the dangers and hardships, faced and overcome on a daily basis, by average citizens who endured the terrors of war in their own land. These are the unknown and unsung heroes of WWII who were instrumental in securing the freedom we have today.
As this reviewer stated at the beginning, this is as fast-paced a read as any thriller or suspense novel that I have read. The Shelburne Escape Line: Secret Rescues of the Allied Aviators by the French Underground, the British Royal Navy, and London’s MI-9 is an enthralling and well-researched read about actual events and the real men, women, and children who were involved in them. Réanne Hemingway-Douglass has gathered this galvanizing collection of true-accounts, vividly portrayed historical details, and military tactics of these little known, but amazing, slices of WWII history. Her adept writing reminds the reader of the human elements of war. Highly recommended. [Reviewer’s Note: This book includes: a documented photo collection, a listing of the author’s interviews and correspondence, a comprehensive bibliography, a glossary of WWII military terms, and pilot accounts of missions flown. It also includes information about the Canadian military war efforts and the French Resistance’s perspectives of WWII. ]
“This is good ol’ straightforward storytelling that doesn’t require literary flourish to be captivating.”
ightwads on the Loose – A Seven Year Pacific Odyssey opens with a map of the Pacific Ocean that showed the voyage of the sailing vessel Velella starting and ending in Seattle. Soon the reader is immersed in the plans of Wendy and her husband, Garth, to set sail on their openended adventure. And we wonder how long an introvert, whose motto is always be prepared, can live in such tight quarters with an extrovert whose motto is let’s just wing it. These are not rich dot-com people on a yacht. Nor are they trust fund hippies, or newly retired people with a nest-egg, hence the title. But they are practiced sailors who believe in themselves and each other. Later in the book, Wendy made a statement about why it felt important to take the leap (and the risks); leave behind the meetings, deadlines, and emails; and set sail across the Pacific: “Perhaps the path of least resistance, while it offered a temporary respite from the struggles of life, ultimately held no great opportunity for growth, which was what made life most interesting.” And risks there were! The reader departed Seattle with them — against the tide. And then there were the shipping lanes to traverse in the fog; the breakdown of equipment needed to keep them alive in said fog; those squalls and mountainous waves, alternating with a total lack of wind. Then they endured scorching tropical heat; polluted harbors; and the possibility of pirates, fishing nets, rocks, and coral reefs. Did I mention the typhoons? The author shared events in a detached, dispassionate way that belies the sheer
terror you would expect one to feel. Having sailed in gales, I found myself inserting my own fear and drama into their many neardeath experiences. Yet the dangers were offset by countless magic moments and encounters. As they sailed from island to island in the South Pacific, they sometimes sailed naked through silence under silvery moons in perfect winds and temperatures. At each stop they were met with friendly, generous locals. Their days were filled with new friends, hikes, snorkels and dives. They enjoyed the camaraderie of fellow sailors, and found themselves immersed in the international racing scene. Also, while they did not set out on a “history cruise,” they encountered artifacts of World War II on almost every island. Details of those discoveries added interest and context to the account. In desperate need of equipment repairs and the funds to pay for them, Wendy and Garth took jobs on a U.S. Army base in the Marshall Islands. As they moved off Velella, worked at their jobs, and explored the island we learn the inside story about life on Kwajalein and those who lived there. Two years later, with their boat seaworthy once again, Wendy and Garth set sail for Japan via Saipan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Okinawa. Very few blue water cruisers visit this part of the world, and tourists rarely get to see the remote harbors where Velella stopped. This sets Tightwads on the Loose apart from most sailing narratives and adds value to the reading experience.
Tightwads on the Loose: A Seven Year Pacific Odyssey The Author:
Wendy Hinman Genre(s):
Boating, Humorous, Memoir, Nautical Cruising, Non-Fiction, Pacific Northwest nonfiction, Sports, Travel Novels, Travelogue Review:
Rae Ellen Lee Publisher:
Salsa Press (2013)
Finally, the couple starts the arduous journey from Japan back to Seattle. They are faced with sailing 5,000 miles at the pace of a fast walk, with limited capacity for water or fuel, even food, and, of course, the possibility of a ➥
Tightwads on the Loose continued typhoon. They would have enough of everything —if all went well. This last, long voyage provided ample time on watches for Wendy to ponder what ‘reality’ would be like for them back in Seattle. After surviving the dangers of their ocean quest, how would do they do back on land and in day-to-day working life? This is good ol’ straightforward storytelling that doesn’t require literary flourish to be captivating. Just imagine spending 24/7 for months on end with your spouse in a 31’ foot sailboat. Just imagine that your world is always moving or changing in one way or another. Now imagine immersing yourself into post-9/11 America only to discover how much everything has changed when you finally return to your home-port. Tightwads on the Loose; a Seven Year Pacific Odyssey vividly details the highs and lows of life at sea and at port. It will definitely appeal for those who are curious about sea voyaging. Armchair travelers will find a diversity of cultural experiences, historical details, and adventures for their entertainment and education. Come on board and sail away with the intrepid Wendy Hinman and her humorous and ingenious insights about life at sea.
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“The cast of suspects is equally intriguing and includes members of Foeller’s own family...”
etective Matt Toussaint is one of Portland, Oregon’s finest. Experienced and dedicated to the job of solving the violent crimes that plague his beloved city, his case clearance rate is one of the best. Because of his success, Toussaint is regularly asked to partner with and train new homicide detectives. As his latest murder investigation begins, he’s been assigned yet another new partner, Detective Missy Owens. Smart and known to be a rising star in the police department, Missy is nonetheless inexperienced at homicide investigations. Toussaint has his hands full, educating Missy about crime scene protocol while puzzling through the crime scene evidence. The murder victim, Ben Foeller, presents an intriguing contradiction: he is clean and neatly dressed, though his clothes are old and worn. His backpack contains literary works by some of the world’s famous writers, but Toussaint finds a vial of crack cocaine beneath his body. Is Foeller just a recent addition to Portland’s homeless community? Or was he under the bridge where his body was found for another reason, such as dealing drugs? And given that he’d recently traveled back to Portland from the East Coast, how does that connect with his murder in Toussaint’s fair city? Though the case appears at first glance to be a fairly typical crime associated with Portland’s homeless community, it quickly becomes apparent that the murder may have been committed for far more complicated reasons. As Toussaint digs
ever deeper into the victim’s life, more contradictions arise. The cast of suspects is equally intriguing and includes members of Foeller’s own family, who are wealthy and influential, as well as a mentally disturbed homeless man whom Ben Foeller befriended. While some story elements reveal themselves logically as the police investigation unfolds, other details seem almost serendipitous, illuminating how simple circumstance can affect the outcome of any murder case. Mr. Curley has written an engrossing debut novel that immerses the reader in the lives of the characters and the city they inhabit. His story world is one that you don’t want to leave behind. His characters are fullyrealized, living and breathing human beings struggling to make their way through days complicated by the best and worst of the human condition, and his writing is exquisite in its detail. I was disappointed when the book ended, and I am happy to know that Mr. Curley has written a second novel in the Detective Toussaint series titled A Cup of Hemlock. [Read Chanticleer’s review] Raggedy Man by Clyde Curley was awarded the CLUE Awards Grand Prize for Best Suspense/ Thriller/Mystery Novel. The CLUE Awards is a division of the Chanticleer Reviews International Novel Writing Competitions.
Raggedy Man; A Detective Toussaint Mystery The Author:
Clyde Curley Genre(s):
Contemporary, Contemporary Social Issues, Detective, Fiction, Literary Fiction, Mystery Review:
K. Hess Publisher:
Cedar Forge Press (2012)
[Editor’s Note: Clyde Curley’s novels are prodigious—yes they come in at more than 500 pages, but you will be wishing it were longer—and are page turners that tackle and explore the big ethical and societal issues of today. Curley’s deft use of murder mysteries to microscopically explore society’s ethical issues is nothing short of brilliant. Highly recommended.]
“When she finally discovers the truth it sends her on a soul search journey of love and redemption...”
The Watcher The Author:
Lisa Voisin Genre(s):
Fiction, Paranormal, Young Adult/New Adult Review:
J. Parry Publisher:
Inkspell Publishing (2013)
ia Crawford is a vibrant, outgoing high school student in West Seattle with a close circle of friends. She shares most things in her life with them, but not the strange occurrences that keep her guessing her own sanity: cloudy dog-like creatures with menacing red eyes that chase her, voices cloaked in static, flickering lights, and even real people no one else sees. Mia’s family isn’t around much – Mom works a lot, her dad has a different life out of state, and her brother is away at college. She feels everything with deep intensity, as the smallest events trigger emotional responses landing on both ends of the spectrum. Two new boys arrive at her high school this year: the first is mysterious Michael, who experienced death after an accident but came back. He is beautiful, strong, and seems to show an interest in Mia, always showing up at just the right time. She quickly develops strong affections for him, but he does not reciprocate her feelings. Instead, he pushes her away, disappointing and confounding her, giving rise to her insecurities. Damiel, the other new boy, shows up dashing and debonair on his vintage motorcycle. All the girls swoon under his attention, and he pursues Mia persistently. Michael warns her to stay away from him, and she really doesn’t like Damiel. However, she is inexplicably drawn to him, in spite of being in love with Michael. Mia loves the study of ancient civilizations and literature. She lives out her painful crush through a classroom reading of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Sometimes she has visions of another world, seeing at times a meadow, a loom, and large birds circling in a fight to the death. She also knows she has some kind of connection with Michael, and that he and Damiel have a history. But nothing could prepare her for knowing the truth of that history, and her role in it. Things become heated when Michael and Damiel confront each other in an other-worldly fight over Mia.
When she finally discovers the truth, it sends her on a soul-searching journey of love and redemption, When she finally discovers the truth, it sends her on a soulsearching journey of love and redemption, and into a supernatural battle of good and evil, involving angels and demons. Voisin transports us visually into Mia’s world with rich details, from places as mundane as a wall locker in a school corridor, to a thrilling winged flight high above the city. We ache with Mia for Michael’s touch when he is near, and feel Michael’s pain for resisting. The mundanity of high school life and petty spats gives way to an other-worldly realm with life and death significance. Mia and Michael have a tragic past that occurred before recorded history, resulting in Mia’s early death and Michael’s fall from his fold into hell and guilt-ridden remorse. Only Mia’s strength can save them in this lifetime; is she up to the task? The author draws from principles of many different sources, from the Bible and the Quran to Tarot cards, giving none any greater importance than the others, and without judgment. The Watcher will keep you guessing, and feeling, and leave you with great hope. The Watcher by Lisa Voisin was awarded the Grand Prize Award for Paranormal Novels, a division of Chanticleer Reviews Novel Competitions.
“Caught up by his own part in the violence, Matthew is convinced that he has become as evil as his captors...”
read the early pages of D.B. Jackson’s Unbroke Horses with a heavy heart. If anything could be considered even partial mitigation for the senseless evil, cruelty, and disregard for life displayed by Jackson’s first-carved characters—Civil War deserters Brevet General Ike Smith and his dull-witted brother, Private Raymond Smith—one might seek an explanation in the gruesome experience of the war itself. Yet General Ike shows no inclination to change his postwar life. He seems to have no different thought for their future than living off the blood of others. After killing two farmers for fresh horses and an elderly man for his purse, the two take on a partner, a silent mulatto named Sandoval— thenceforth, Private Sandoval Smith. The murderous violence reaches its apex when the monstrous Smiths kidnap the slightly built, fair-haired Matthew Stanford, whose preacher father they had senselessly murdered on the trail. Though only fourteen years old, Matthew grows up all too quickly in their cruel hands. On one hand, this is a coming of age story of a boy, Matthew, who must survive by his wits when he is kidnapped by the three vicious men. It is also an epic account of the heroic battle waged by one of the trio’s badly injured victims, J.D. Elder, who must fight a deadly wrenching conflict as he tries to rescue the boy from the sadistic threesome. It is a powerful, un-blinking telling of the hard-fought war between the bravery of J.D. Elder who refuses to give up against the cunning cruelty of the malevolent trio. Caught up by his own part in the violence, Matthew is convinced that he has become as evil as his captors. Matthew’s destructive attitude becomes his worst enemy. The question becomes, will he find a way back from the darkness that has taken over him or will he be forever doomed to the cold, ugly life of violence and killing?
part these are played to advantage in portraying the majestic beauty of Montana’s mountains, the peace of a flowered meadow, the fury of the white-water
Unbroke Horses The Author:
D. B. Jackson Genre(s):
Civil War, Literary Fiction, Western Fiction Review:
Chanticleer streams, the camaraderie of cowboy life on a cattle ranch, the dangerous power of “unbroke horses,” and the spiritual wisdom that an old Indian draws upon.
Goldminds Publishing, L.L.C. (2012)
D. B. Jackson’s Unbroke Horses has carefully chiseled characters and is written with unflinching clarity in short, powerful chapters dominated by taut dialogue and hard hitting action. If you’re a Cormac McCarthy fan who appreciates western literary thrillers, this masterfully written novel is a must-read. Unbroke Horses by D. B. Jackson was awarded the 1st Place for Western Literary Category in the Laramie Awards.
While Jackson’s excellent prose and poetic sketches help balance the harshness of the first part of his story, in the second
“Brutally violent murders are plaguing Philadelphia, perpetrated in zombie-like fashion...”
The Borealis Genome The Author:
Thomas P. Wise and Nancy Wise Genre(s):
Fiction, Lab Lit/ Science, Sci-Fi, Young Adult/New Adult Review:
J. Parry Publisher:
Author House (2013)
hen technology, genetics, biology, and the quest for eternal life combine, what could possibly go wrong? Quite a bit, it turns out. The Borealis Genome begins as a smooth, ambling tale told through the eyes of some of its characters in vivid detail. Scenes are intricately painted in warm, pacifying colors. However, these scenes are juxtaposed with psychological disconcerting subject matter along with some gruesome and disturbing events. With each turn of the page of this YA/New Adult thriller, the ticking clock speeds up. Brutally violent murders are plaguing Philadelphia, perpetrated in zombie-like fashion, mostly by adolescents. We relive a young boy’s torture by two of his own family members before he’s left in a pool to drown. We see the world through the eyes of an observant 12-year-old boy, Tommy, trying to be tough enough to withstand the rough ‘play’ of the boys he is hanging with. We, the readers, wonder if he’ll meet a similar fate. If you listen to the news reports, all these deadly incidents are isolated: There is no zombie-virus; there are no zombies. Meanwhile, Tim has cause to think otherwise. The pursuit of some connection to the seemingly random killings across the Northeast becomes his obsession, involving his fiancée and his best friend via cryptic text messages and secret meetings. Will they find something to link these events together? And if they do, will they be able to do anything about it? Dr. Denat is the director of computing sciences at a facility researching cures for Alzheimer’s disease and he is Tommy’s father. Dr. Denat is the mastermind behind an artificially intelligent program that can restore memory function by transplanting those memories to a new “host.” In this way, the company, named Environmental Consciousness Ltd. (E.C.), can sell the means of extending one’s life through an
engineered person made from your own DNA and memories, albeit edited – think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – but even better. It’s similar in concept to Being John Malkovich – except that you have your own “John Malkovich” after you die. Tommy goes happily along with his dad to work, as he has before, and we can see his pride in his father as they enter the research facility. We see the center through Tommy’s twelve-year-old perspective as he fluctuates between being awed by the glass and architecture and his father’s position and then becoming bored when he is reminded by his father to sit quietly while in his office. The ancient Mr. Oldham, the owner of the company drops by and invites Tommy to view one of his experiments. Tommy obediently follows him to his lab where he views Dr. Oldham’s experiment, at first, with resignation, then curiosity, and then disgust. Dr. Oldham is pleased with Tommy’s inquisitiveness and patience. Tommy is sweetly naive, but intimidated in the research center’s sterile and laboratory surroundings. However, apprehensive begins to set in as he begins to comprehend what he was just shown by the ancient Dr. Oldham. We wish Tommy would have more apprehension—much, much, more. From here the story takes off at breakneck speed as we learn about the Dr. Oldham’s secretly intended purpose for the research. And he believes Tommy might just be the ➥
The Borealis Genome continued missing element that he has been searching for to achieve his own personal goals for his research.
“The story gathers speed when Ruby discovers that Zeus has forbidden the gods from meddling in the affairs of mortals...”
The reader is given glimpses of E.C.’s rosy marketing efforts to potential elderly clientele Jurassic Park-style – from a moving tram behind a protective barrier. What they don’t see is that sometimes biology throws in a monkey wrench by mutating its viruses, computer programs always have bugs, and human error, and other unpredictable elements come into play. E.C.’s artificially intelligent program, like HAL, becomes a selfprotective force corrupted by the uploaded consciousness of many minds. Tim’s friends end up fighting not only for their own lives, but for the future of humanity. The Borealis Genome takes on a unique perspective of the zombie vs. humans’ tale. For it is a tale of the ancient quest for eternal life, but one using the latest in high-tech, stateof-the-art scientific research that creates its own type of Black Death.
The Immortal Game The Author:
Joannah Miley Genre(s):
Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Young Adult/New Adult
ove bursts forth like Athena from the head of Zeus after a shy college student meets Ash, a guy who plays chess at the local bookstore. Ruby, a quiet pre-med student struggling with her coursework at a university in Portland, Oregon, hangs out at Athenaeum Books to study and indulge in the barista’s irresistible ambrosia bars. When handsome Ash challenges her to a game of chess, she demurs. She has work to do, and chess stirs memories of her late father, a medic killed in the war. Ruby wants to follow in his footsteps, but she finds it hard going.
L. Costantino Publisher:
Second Story Publishing (2013)
She finally accepts the undefeated Ash’s challenge to play. When Ruby checks his king, Ash is baffled and is insistent to discover how she beat him. The aloof Ash finds himself attracted to Ruby’s intelligence, natural allure, and lack of guile. Although Ruby embodies all of these attributes, she doesn’t seem to know it. Their friendship blooms. Against her usual caution, Ruby accepts Ash’s compelling dares of outdoor adventures that push her beyond her comfort zone, and these experiences change her in an indefinable way. She’s finding courage and she is falling in love with Ash. He reciprocates and begins to open up to Ruby. ➥
The Immortal Game continued Now it is Ruby who is baffled. Ash has a first-hand way of talking about historical events, and he has wounds that mysteriously appear and then strangely disappear as quickly. Also puzzling is his relationship to Sage, the barista and owner, and Langston, an aloof poet who also frequents the bookstore. When Ash finally reveals his true identity—he not only looks like a Greek god, he is one—Ruby hesitates, but not for long. After all, Ash—now Ares, the god of war—has promised that their marriage will stop all wars on Earth. Already peace is ensuing as Ares’ obsession for war is replaced by his love for Ruby. Ares transports Ruby to Olympus, where he declares his love for the mortal Ruby and they petition Zeus to allow them to marry. It is here that the story’s rapid unfolding and unveiling of secrets is taken to a new level when Ruby is introduced to the various gods and nymphs and the opulent splendor of their homes and adornments. Here Miley has created an intriguingly flawed Olympus, one where vainglory and selfishness prevail; where Zeus is lecherous, Apollo scornful, Persephone apathetic. She makes these characters and their interactions come alive on the page. The story gathers speed when Ruby discovers that Zeus has forbidden the gods from meddling in the affairs of mortals or with mortals, for that matter. Zeus sets about thwarting Ruby’s marriage to Ares by going back to his old ways—he starts making deals with the other immortals. The immortals intervene, once again, in mortal affairs and stirring up the ages-old status quo amongst themselves. Before long, mankind becomes the expendable pawn in the immortals’ plots and schemes as the immortals form alliances for dominance of Mount Olympus. It is up to Ash and Ruby to save mankind and to restore order. Their quest takes them to Tartarus, a sunless abyss, where they encounter ordeals and the most fantastical creatures from Greek mythology: Charon and Cerebus, Chimera and the fifty-headed
Hecatoncheires. The heroes’ ordeals are suspenseful and their journey adventurous as they experience challenges that lead to a thoughtfully crafted conclusion. This reviewer is looking forward to reading Miley’s next work in the End Game series. Adults, new and otherwise, will be entertained with Ruby’s experiences as she negotiates the intertwined worlds of mortals and immortals. Miley takes you from Portland, Oregon in a war-torn future to opulent Mount Olympus to the darkest halls of Hades as she keeps you turning the pages in this entertaining novel that successfully intertwines ancient Greek mythology with a contemporary story line that has just the right amount of romance, action, and adventure. A mythic twist on New Adult college romance and a rousing tale of personal courage, The Immortal Game has deservedly earned a place as a First in Category in the Dante Rossetti Awards for Young Adult Fiction 2013, a division of Chanticleer Writing Competitions.
“Thus begins a narrative of nonstop action, swift pacing, and near-constant tension...”
sci-fi thriller of physical and psychological combat, Virtues of War sends readers hurtling through space to find that our warlike nature has survived intact into the 26th century. This is no Star Trek mission of exploration, and there are no aliens: only longestablished colonies in the Centauri system rebelling against Terran rule. Humankind’s technological evolution may have continued at breakneck speed, but social evolution has yet to catch up. Lt. Katja Emmes, fast-attack strike leader of the small but pivotal warship Rapier, leads her troops into a hot zone on Cerberus—a minor operation to target a Centauri spy. It’s her first mission, and it leads to her first kill. It also leads to a full-on war between Terran Astral Forces and Centauri’s colonies which, despite an outwardly peaceful existence, have developed robotic killing machines far beyond Terran expectations. Thus begins a narrative of nonstop action, swift pacing, and near-constant tension. Drops from space through planetary atmosphere are vicarious thrill rides that get the reader’s heart pumping, and battle scenes are wrought with suspense. The author, Bennett R. Coles, an officer with plus 15-years experience in the Canadian Navy, demonstrates a crisp writing style, an impressive knowledge of military tactics and techno jargon, and an imagination crossed with a study of physics that has produced believable weaponry and space travel of the future. Although action is clearly his strong suit, Coles has created an engaging set of characters. Katja Emmes has a chip on her shoulder placed by a cold-hearted father, and she’s constantly trying to prove herself against his Army bias. Lt. Cdr. Thomas Kane, Rapier’s captain, has a big heart, but he’s easily swayed by the promise of promotion and even more so by the scheming, powerhungry Lt. Charity “Breeze” Brisebois, a vixen of a villain. And sub-lieutenant Jack Mallory, whose disfigurement early on
Virtues of War, The Author:
Bennett R. Coles Genre(s): fails to dampen his sunny optimism, enjoys a steady climb in respect as his superior intellect transcends his boyish charm. The Astral Forces are filled with assorted men and women at every level of rank, and each, though briefly drawn, are clear individuals. War may still be ever-present in a society that is now intergalactic, but at least equality between the sexes has been achieved.
Fiction, Military, Sci-Fi Review:
L. Costantino Publisher:
Titan U.K. (2015)
Well into the story, exemplary soldier Katja ponders the incredible civilian death toll and the necessity of war. It is a potential turning point, and she nearly takes the next step into a desire for peace that one hopes could resound throughout humankind. But, luckily for Virtues of War readers, this is the first in a series, and such a step will take many more battles—both military and societal—before that possibility can be achieved.
“The inevitable showdown between Arethusa’s two suitors challenges the traditional endings...”
Artemis Rising The Author:
Cheri Lasota Genre(s):
Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance, Young Adult/New Adult Review:
L. Costantino Publisher:
Ever-Sea Press (2013)
endered with a lush and lyrical touch, this Y/A historical fantasy depicts the romantic yearnings of two innocent lovers, both dedicated to and trapped by the belief that they embody tragic figures from myth and legend. Born of a pagan mother and a strict Catholic father, fifteen-year-old Eva Maré learns the hard way that when the two religions clash, catastrophic results follow. Aboard a ship bound for the Azores, Eva undertakes a ritual to transfer the role of Arethusa, a sea nymph dedicated to Artemis, from mother to daughter. But instead of the Goddess’s blessing, hell’s own fury is unleashed. The ship crashes into the volcanic face of Ilhéu das Cabras, though not before Diogo Cheia, a marquês’s son possessed by his desire for Eva, displays his wrath over her rejection. Eva, now Arethusa, regains consciousness on the Azorean island of Terceira, surrounded by the flotsam of the shipwreck that took the lives of her parents and nearly everyone else on board. Badly wounded and rendered mute by an act of violence she cannot remember, she is rescued by a beautiful young man, who takes her to the orphanage in Angra do Heroísmo, where he lives. There Arethusa is healed, but it won’t be long before she discovers Diogo survived as well. Thus begins the ages-old tale of two men fighting over the woman they both love. But this is no ordinary triangle: Diogo believes himself heir to the role of Alpheus, the river god to whom, in Greek mythology, Arethusa is bound for eternity. To complicate matters, Tristão Vazante, Arethusa’s rescuer, had been led to believe he is the embodiment of the Cornish knight Tristan and that Arethusa is his Isolde. This well-written and crisply paced novel mixes the two myths: one Greek, the other of the canon of Arthurian literature. It’s possible the author intended the two disparate myths to represent the clash between paganism and Christianity—and the way the main characters eventually
reconcile their religious conflicts—but one is distorted to emphasize evil, while the other is less a Christian morality play than a medieval tale of courtly love. However, the sweetly chaste passion of Tristan and Arethusa carries the day, along with the Azorean setting, with its seaports and beaches, caves and cities, all wonderfully evoked and enhanced by a sprinkling of Portuguese expressions. An early scene, when Arethusa dreams between life and death after the shipwreck, is a sensory feast. The inevitable showdown between Arethusa’s two suitors challenges the traditional endings of the two myths in a way that is as anticipated as it is satisfying. Readers who enjoy being swept away in romantic fantasy will not be disappointed. Artemis Rising by Cheri Lasota was awarded First Place in the Mythological Category, The Cygnus Awards 2013. The Cygnus Awards is a division of Chanticleer Book Reviews Blue Ribbon Writing Competitions.
“Dangerous, sticky, and amourous situations intensify as hostilities mount...”
ourage, love, and loyalty are counterpoised with intrigue, hatred, and betrayal—in settings ranging from intimate dinners to royal banquets, seaside walks to interplanetary voyages and galactic space battles in this highly entertaining and fast moving debut novel by Fiona Rawonstile: The Starlight Fortress. After reluctantly turning the last page of this mesmerizing and unpredictable tale of love, life, and war, I looked out my window to see the solid shape of a bright quarter moon and the twinkle of the “Evening Star” that is Venus against a deep azure sky. I wished I could see further into the galaxy and find the Renaisun solar systems, with their widely differing planets, countries, and cities—but of course they don’t exist (yet?) except in the pages of The Starlight Fortress. Spectacular battles in the Stony Band of asteroids, the interstellar pathways, and even on-the- ground maneuvers provide plenty of fast-paced military action, conducted with imaginative space-age techniques, weapons, and ships of all shapes and sizes—the most spectacular being the RA allied forces’ enormous five-armed Starlight Fortress, coveted by Emperor Pompey. Artfully interwoven with the military battles are the interpersonal relations among the royals, the military officers, and ordinary citizens. Despite their future sci-fi existence in the universe, Rawsontile’s characters and their language, lifestyles (with a few tweaks), hopes, and desires—as well as their darker natures of envy, jealousy, hate, prejudice, and war—will resonate with readers. The young Queen Geneva of Sunphere, the primary country on the RA-4 planet of the Renaisun A system, is unlike any queen, past or present, on Earth. Elevated to her post after the untimely death of her father, she would rather go shopping on one of the moon malls with her friends than rule the country, but duty calls and the stakes are high. Geneva may be queen, but her elders question her judgment when she selects as
The Starlight Fortress her military assistant not an experienced officer, but Commander Sterling Presley, on the basis of a speech he delivered at his graduation from Sunphere’s Space Force Academy just four years earlier. However, they are betting that age isn’t everything when it comes to creating new battle strategies. Sometimes singly, and sometimes together, Geneva, with her chubby cheeks, and Sterling, resembling a junior college professor, face some hard work if they are to earn the respect of Sunphere’s citizens and Space Force—not to mention that of their allies of Renaisun A, as well as their enemy Emperor Pompey with his colonial forces of Renaisun B.
Fiona Rawsontile Genre(s):
Fiction, Military, Sci-Fi, Young Adult/New Adult Review:
S. J. Stanton Publisher:
Fiona Rawsontile (2013)
Joining Geneva and Sterling is a full cast of colorful, multifaceted characters—Sir Lloyd, Geneva’s uncle and Secretary of Defense; the handsome, aristocratic, young officer Charlie Swinburne of Rainprus; Prince Edwards of the neutral Renaisun C, who could be a good ally; military diamond-inthe-rough; and more, all artfully crafted by Rawsontile. Dangerous, sticky, and amorous situations intensify as hostilities mount and battle fleets are amassed. Be sure to strap in, hang on tightly, and enjoy Rawsontile’s exhilarating ride into the future. This reviewer really didn’t want the story to end. Please, Fiona, give us a sequel to The Starlight Fortress!
Forced to keep themselves hidden, even the most powerful mages have lost the deepest knowledge...
Mythborn: Rise of the Adepts The Author:
V. Lakshman Genre(s):
Fantasy, Fiction, Military, Sci-Fi Review:
Alyssa Morris Publisher:
V. Lakshman (2014)
classically high-fantasy styled novel that is a satisfying layered read full of battles and skirmishes, mages and wizards, dwarves and elves, dragons and royalty, and its own complex lore and magical systems, V. Lakshman’s Mythborn: Rise of the Adepts will leave dark fantasy enthusiasts clamoring for more. After a powerful mage allowed a demon named Lilyth to enter the world of EDYN, causing a devastating war, King Galadine declares that all those with magical talent be put to death. For over two hundred years, mages have been hunted down and killed, except for a select few that escape and train to be adepts under the tutelage of the mage council. Forced to keep themselves hidden, even the most powerful mages have lost the deepest knowledge of their craft, and their abilities are only a shadow of what the generations before were capable of. When it seems as though the demon Lilyth has begun to stir again, the council is ruthlessly determined to act. Arek Winterthorn is an apprentice with a power that even he himself doesn’t understand. Unable to produce even the simplest of spells, he can disrupt the magic of others with a single touch. When his master, Silbane Petracles reluctantly agrees that Arek’s abilities might be the only way to save the world, the two embark on a journey full of twists, violence, intrigue, and even a dragon. They seek the kingdom of Bara’cor, where the current King Galadine is under siege by a barbarian horde. Inside the castle walls, we are introduced to his court and advisers, including his teenage son and young niece, next in line to the throne of the neighboring kingdom. All of these diverse threads weave together as the characters clash, attempting to discover the true nature of the demonkind and the heart of the conflict two centuries ago.
Lakshman’s epic is told in several diverse voices from every side of the conflict, creating a complex web of loyalties and motivations. This leads to some initial confusion, as the reader is introduced to several different point of view characters in rapid succession. Flashbacks, integrated into the narrative under the heading “Histories,” are at first difficult to distinguish from the novel’s present day events. But after the narration settles into a pattern, fans of fantasy will be engrossed in his world and the envelopment of its familiar tropes. As the multi-faceted characters and their motivations are revealed, readers will come to care about what happens to them as they come to understand what motivates them. Lakshman’s experience in the game industry and his martial arts background are evident in the novel’s many detailed battle scenes in this fast-action and complex fantasy. The Rise of the Adepts’ cliffhanger ending will leave readers clamoring for the next volume in this fast-paced and suspenseful Mythborn series, the sequel to which is now available. First Place Dark Fantasy, 2014 CYGNUS Awards for SciFi and Fantasy Fiction, a division of Chanticleer International Writing Competitions.
“Instead of dying, the would-be-victims find themselves groggily awakening in the alien confines of an intersellar spaceship...”
hadow Guardians is a science fiction novel that steps away from warring aliens and warp drives to delve into individual potential. The premise focuses on how one would react if extracted from normal life and inserted into a totally new construct of so-called “life” while retaining all of your previous life’s memories. Would you take death instead? Lawrence starts his story with Abigail and Dennis Webster who have just celebrated their anniversary with a special dinner at a fine restaurant, ensconced in the warmth of their closeness in the cockpit of their Piper aircraft. They are taking off from Tacoma, Washington, toward their temporary home in Everett. Abby and Dennis’s affectionate reflections are interrupted by the raucous noise of another craft’s intrusion in their airspace. There is scarcely time for thought before a crash sends them heading downward into the frigid Puget Sound. That same evening, Lindsey Maguire, a beautiful but self-serving and arrogant bank executive, is abducted by a hired killer, destined to be pushed over a bridge railing to her death. Instead of dying, the would-be victims find themselves groggily awakening in the alien confines of an interstellar spaceship, the “Starlight Mistress.” Each reacts differently to the news that they have been rescued and transported by two representatives of the distant planet of Majora—Milankaar (or Mil), a humanoid born there, and his companion Miriam, a human rescued from Earth some time ago, who has joined Mil in his mission of learning more about Earth and its people. The fascinating difference between Lawrence’s captivating sci-fi novel and most others of this genre is his focus on the personalities and feelings of the rescued beings of our era and their reactions to the knowledge that their lives will be continued on the planet Majora. Their initial shock and disbelief evolve in different ways, which Lawrence deftly paints. The survivors are offered an impossible choice that,
Shadow Guardians The Author:
Brett Lawrence regardless of their decision, ensures their old life is over. But Mil—an intelligent, generous, and thoughtful character—seeks to help his guests deal with their present reality and look forward to a new life on the relatively peaceful and pleasant planet of Majora—especially Dennis and Abby whose marriage threatens to crumble under the strain. The interspatial action heats up when a Chelonite slave-abducting ship attacks the “Starlight Mistress.” The pages fly by as fast as the spaceships when Mil draws the slavers to the rocky surface of the moon in an effort to evade or destroy their attackers. Lawrence’s precise descriptions of the lunar landscape, skillfully drawn from America’s moon landings and explorations, lend reality to the death-defying chase, skimming over mountains and diving through the Valles Alpes. If Mil can’t out fly the Chelonite vermin, he’ll have to outwit them.
Fiction, Sci-Fi Review:
S. J. Stanton Publisher:
Martin Sisters Publishing (2013)
As Brett Lawrence says in his bio, if all goes well for the Shadow Guardians, we might just see a sequel to this, his first published novel. This reviewer, for one, certainly hopes so, because Shadow Guardians gave me an exciting ride and a thought-provoking great read!
Horoscopes ARIES: (Mar. 21 – Apr. 19)
TAURUS: (Apr. 20 – May 20)
As a novelist as well as a friend, you
Your creative side is struggling against
are generous and compassionate;
your need for stability and conformity.
readers know your heroes will always
You need to be more open with your
win in the end. You enjoy thinking
friends and consider their thoughts
things out for yourself, whether it
and opinions. Is there a romance in you
is a personal issue in your own life
near future? This may be a good time to
or a life-changing decision for your characters. You admire
resolve any problems you have with money. Clear the air, stop
personal honesty and abhor hypocrisy. You enjoy working
worrying and take action to regain your feelings of personal
out long-term plans and projects and working toward
well-being. Your writing will become more authentic when you
improvements. Relax and enjoy the ride.
are honest with yourself.
CANCER: (June 22 – July 22)
GEMINI: (May 21 – June 21)
It is well to be sensitive to others,
You provide important advice to
as you are, but you need to pull
others, but you need to realize you can
back occasionally to simply enjoy
learn from your others as well. Take
some alone time, to maintain a
advantage of pending opportunities.
sense of privacy. Conversations with friends will bring
Keep your eyes open, observe; listen.
new and exciting ideas for adventures you had not
Friends and colleagues can help
considered before. Be open to improving your own
you if you let them. Don’t completely rule out the idea of
lifestyle and your writing style may take a turn for the
collaboration with a writing partner. When your plot-line bogs
better. Are your stories and your characters in need
down, your heroine may need to move into a new venue that
of more energy and zest? Why not explore a few new
your partner can help you create.
LEO: (July 23 – Aug. 22)
VIRGO: (Aug. 23 – Sept. 22)
Look for a new approach to the problems
Look to family matters that you may
that have been troubling you. You need to
have been taking for granted. Heart-to-
feel respected and you work hard to fulfill
heart talks can be helpful as you work
your goals. Writing can be a lonely profession but it doesn’t have to be. Consider a
through personal problems. Don’t make quick decisions; take a more long term view of any situations
partnership instead of going it alone. Share the work, share the
that have been troubling you. Make plans and set new goals,
rewards. Do you have a research assistant? Do you belong to a
both for yourself and in your writing. As a writer, let your
critique group? You may find new doors opening that you never
plot development dig deeper into serious situations and your
characters will be stronger for the effort.
Horoscopes LIBRA: (Sept. 23 – Oct. 23)
CAPRICORN: (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19)
Romance may be right around the
You need the kind of emotional support
corner. Is there someone you have
that comes with friendly conversations,
been thinking about but have held
bantering, exchanging ideas. You are a
back on your feelings? Maybe you’re
social person and enjoy group dynamics,
not ready for a new relationship.
whether in professional meetings or on
Give yourself permission to think about the possibilities.
the golf course. Writer’s conferences are
You don’t have to rush anything until the time is right. Try
right up your alley, a chance to see what your peers are doing,
to look at things with a more open perspective and don’t
sharing ideas and advice. Don’t be afraid to take some of that
be afraid of your own emotions. As you open up, your
advice to heart and to try some of those ideas in your own
writing will blossom.
SCORPIO: (Oct. 24 – Nov. 21)
AQUARIUS: (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18)
You do have spontaneous impulses
Opportunities are all around you. Give
but you’ve kept them hidden, perhaps
some serious thought to your future.
even from yourself. Ask yourself if
Think about what you want to do and
it’s time to let some of those wilder
accomplish in the next five years. Can you
dreams become realities? Do you want
put that into a goal statement and then
to travel, to see the big, wild world?
break it down into five steps? How prolific
If you combine work and pleasure, the characters in your
do you want to be in your writing? Are your novels suitable for
novels can experience the same adventures you do. You can
turning into a series? Are you characters ready to experience
let those characters take a few of the wild risks you only take
growth and change? Can you create enough drama and suspense
to keep the readers coming back for more? Yes, you can do it! PISCES: (Feb.19 – Mar. 20)
SAGITTARIUS: (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21)
Don’t let old attitudes hold you back.
Take a good look at your work. Are you
Discover what stimulates you and frees
reaching your goals? Are you goals too
you to follow your passions. What can
lofty or not lofty enough? Should you be
you do to distinguish yourself? Let your
stretching, extending yourself, striving for
imagination soar. Have you been writing
new heights? Have you been complacent,
the same old, same old, feeling that
satisfied with your comfortable state? Do you
anything outside your field would be unacceptable to your
think your readers would be upset if the characters they love in
followers? Not so. Your readers are waiting to see you break
your books were to change paths? Actually your readers may
out in a new direction. What should you try? Why not go
be eager to see those characters and their lives grow and move
in a totally new direction, exactly opposite to what you’re
writing now? Give it a try.
Congratulations to our 2014 1st Place Category Finalists in the Chanticleer Blue Ribbon Awards Writing Competitions! Not all cataegories were decided at time of publication. Go to chantireviews.com for all the latest news! 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:
The Last Desperado
Between Heaven and Hell
Much Ado About Miners
Contemporary Western Not on My Mountain
Terms of Surrender
Ken Farmer and Buck Stienke
Freckled Venom Copperhead
Along the Way Home
Wolf Eyeâ€™s Silence
Come Home to Me
Peggy L. Henderson
A River Divides: Book Two of Beyond the Wood
Michael J. Rouche
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:
The Breast is History
Caregiving Our Loved Ones
Nanette J. Davis, Ph.D
An Era Memoir
Anne B. Barriault
The Accidental Teacher: Life Lessons from my Silent Son
Annie Lubliner Lehmann
Five Thousand Brothers in Law: Love in Angola Prison
The Clue Awards recognize emerging new talent and outstanding works in the genre of Thriller, Mystery, and Suspense Novels. The Clue Awards 1st in Category Winners for 2014 are:
The Red Ribbon
Rachel B. Ledge
Special Agent Francesca
International Intrigue/ World Events
The Dark Seed
Contemporary Mystery/ Suspense
The Only Clue
The Midnight Cal
Jode Susan Millman
The Red Circle
I’m Kona Love You Forever
Orville Nix: The Missing JFK Assassination Film
Gayle Nix Jackson
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:
J. L. Oakley
Five Guns Blazing
Kevin Allen and Emma Rose Millar
Silver Kings and Sons of Bitches
Michael D. McGranaha
Mary S. Black
The Thinara King
The Golden Dice: A Tale of Ancient Elisabeth Storrs Rome
High Middle Ages
Saint Louis’ Knight
Helena P. Schrader
Late Middle Ages
The Alhambra Decree: Flower from Castile
Shakespeare’s Changeling: A Fault Syril Levin Kline Against the Dead
Shame the Devil (manuscript)
1700s & 1800s
Turn of the 19th Century
The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte
Ruth Hull Chatlien
The One with the Beautiful Necklaces (manuscript)
David Brendan Hopes
The Love of Finished Years (manuscript)
Gregory Erich Phillips
My One Square Inch of Alaska
U. S. History
Beyond the Divide
J. P. Kenna
I Once Knew Vincent
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:
Odette Speex: Time Traitors, Book 1
The Flying Burgowski
Legacy: The Biodome Chronicles, Book 1
Elanraigh: The Vow
Fruit of Misfortune: Creatura Book 2
Dreams of a Red Horizon
An Outcast State
The Star Catcher
The Escape of Princess Madeline
The Curse of the Thrax
The Lackawanna Prophecies: Black Shadow
Riding with Crazy Horse (manuscript)
P. J. Martin
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:
Space Opera Sci-Fi Series:
Citadel 7, Allies in Anarchy, Book 4
Betrayal on Triton
Mythborn: Rise of the Adepts
The Immortal Game
Dream of a Vast Blue Cavern
The Ariadne Connection
Lab Lit SciFi
The Borealis Genome
Thomas P. Wise and Nancy Wise
New Adult Dystopian
The Cloud Seeders
New Adult Sci-Fi
All Is Silenc
Robert L. Slater
YA Soft Sci-Fi
Legacy: The Biodome Chronicles, Book 1
Best SciFi Manuscript
The Chatelaine Awards recognize new and outstanding works in the genre of Romantic Fiction. The Chatelaine Awards 1st Place Category Winners for 2014 are:
The Order of the Lily
Catherine T. Wilson & Catherine A. Wilson
Learning to Waltz
International Intrigue/ World Events
The Ex Lottery
Mystery/Suspense/ Thriller Romance
Mother Teresa’s Advice for Jilted Donna Barkerr Lovers
Find Me Again
Surrendered II: Pride
Romance & Adventure
Kismet or Kamasutra
Jane Austen Inspired
Once Upon a Wager
The Dissimulation of Doves
M.A. Clarke Scott
Destiny’s Second Chance
Women’s Fiction/ Humorous
Beauty and the Bridesmaid
The Trouble with Mistletoe
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:
The Manipulator, a Private Life in Public Relations
No-Accounts, Dare Mighty Things
Lost and Found in Missing Lake
Memeloose, The Island of the Dead
E. F. Winter
Recording a Kill
The Tangerine Trio
The Last Outrageous Woma
Jessica H. Stone
Blended Literary Fiction
More than $20,000.00 dollars worth of cash and prizes will be awarded to Chanticleer Book Reviews 2015 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 2015 winner will be awarded $1,000.00 cash. Nine 1st Place Genre Blue Ribbon Award 2015 winners will be awarded $250.00 cash each. CBR 1st Place Award Category Contest Winning Authors will receive:
Chanticleer Book Reviews’ Blue Ribbon Writing Contests 2014 – 2015
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 1st Place Award winners will automatically be entered into the GRAND PRIZE AWARD for title of The Best of the CBR Award Winning Books of 2015! Now that is something to CROW about!
yyzzyx These are Chanticleer writing contests you can still enter for 2015. Blue Ribbon Awards Writing Contests – 2015 Two Divisions in Each Category: Published (Legacy, Indie, Self-Pub, Small Press, E-pub) and Manuscripts Paranormal Awards – Paranormal Writing Contest 2015 Deadline: October 31, 2015 • Special abilities, super-natural • Werewolves, vampires, vampire slayers, shape shifters, etc. • Southern Gothic • Pulp Gothic • Contemporary Gothic • Romantic (no eroticism, please) • Urban/Edgy Paranormal • Historical • Magical systems • Parallel universe • Angels & Demons • Young Adult & New Adult
The Somerset Awards – Literary, Contemporary, Blended Genres Writing Contest 2015 Deadline: November 30, 2015
RAW NaNoWriMo 2015 Writing Competition The RAW NaNoWriMo 2015 writing competition is for 1st & 2nd drafts manuscripts ONLY! We are searching for orginality of story concept and raw storytelling ability. See www.chanticleerreviews.com for details.
Story “The Stone God’s Wife” A Short Story by Sharon Anderson
Story Copyright 2014 Sharon Anderson Cover Art Copyright 2014 All Rights Reserved
Author Contact: Seanderson@Comcast.Net Author Website: http://www.sharonandersonauthor.com/
was born the day after my sister came into the world: an afterthought, an extra piece, the twisted thing that nearly killed my mother. A talisman of things to come. My sister’s cries were met with gentle coos; mine, with scorn and derision. In the long annals of our village, the holy sisters could not find one instance where a child lived who was not wanted. That fact, stacked against the tenacious nature that held me fast to my mother’s womb, set my fate like a stubborn law. The high holy mother said that the second babe is a shadow, bad luck, and would soon extinguish the life of the firstborn. My mother did her best to neglect me. If it had not been for my sister, I would have perished. Even as an infant, when my mother attempted to separate us, Agnes would scream and would not be comforted, save in my presence. Together she and I learned the cruel nature of the gods that surrounded us, the histories of our people, and what it meant to be a good steward of the earth. Together we dressed and said our prayers. Together we scoured our soiled linens on the river rocks and spread them on the flat stones in the upper fields to dry. Together we spied on the boys working the upper
barley fields, their bare brown backs glistening with sweat under their labor. We clutched each other, holding our breaths because of their beauty, and the thrill of what they would do if we were discovered. Although my mother had given up separating us years ago, and more or less accepted me like she might accept a mangy dog what would not go away, the high holy mother had not. Each prayer session began with, “Save us from the ugly, malformed murderess in our midst.” Soon I grew weary of all things high and holy. Today as the acolytes line up to enter the temple, Agnes and I stand at the end of the queue hand in hand. As the line moves forward, I am itching to be free. I want to tell Agnes that I plan to pluck an apple from a tree in the high holy mother’s orchard. Every other day she dissuades me, but today she is occupied by the acolytes giggling and gossiping in line. I slip from her grasp and run unnoticed to a small orchard behind the temple.The holy mother professes to make sacrifices of apples to the earth and sky gods. But I know better. She keeps a barrel for herself in a pit behind her hovel.
I hop the rude fence and walk between the ancient trees, filling my nose with the fragrance of forbidden fruit. A dog barks, bringing me back to the task at hand. I snatch an apple and tuck it in my apron, then climb the fence and run along the game trail to the barley fields. Blood courses through my body, setting time to breath. I climb what remains of the stone god and sit, watching the river The flat stone slab has captured the warmth of the late summer sun, and it is comforting beneath me. I let my mind drift. Mother says the river god is powerful. So powerful that sometimes he takes a wife, or a foolish boy who falls in, or a cow, though that is rare. The river is wide and slow to the east. The holy sisters say this is where the river god slumbers. The ranchers drive their beasts to this section of river each day to rest in the cool shallows and graze on the sweet green grass growing there. Then the river twists and bends and gathers speed as it curls around the village. The north shore is harsh and jagged. Rocks jut from the water and extend down in to the bowels of the god, carving out swimming holes and places where little yellow and orange fish rest and swirl in the murky depths. In the time before remembering, the holy sisters teach that the stone god grew jealous of all the brides his brother took. In a rage he moved his boulders and shouldered giant slabs of stone out of the good earth and slammed them down across this brother’s back in an attempt to stop the marriage and steal the bride for himself. It was too late. Even though the stone god narrowed the passage with his giant reach, he was still too slow for his swift moving brother. The river god claimed his bride along with the life of his brother. The river is swift and angry there as the god cascades over his brother’s broken body, loath to linger on the memory of the dead. I dig in my apron for the apple. If the river god sees me way up on the hill he may not want me, even though at sun’s setting, according to the high holy mother, he will claim a bride. I sink my teeth into the apple’s flesh and pretend it is the god I devour. Sweet juice pools on the palm of my hand; tiny rivers trickle down my arm. I lick the rivulets and suck my palm dry. What is this river god to me? When I join the other acolytes, they are gathered around Agnes, congratulating her. She blushes and fussed with her long red hair, her eyes downcast. She is smiling, though. I needle my way into the group to face my twin. “What is it?” I ask. “What has happened?” The high holy mother grunts behind me. “If you were at prayers, you would know.” I bite my lip. This cannot be good. “Sister, pray tell. Ants are on my spine.”
My sister throws her arms around my gangly figure. “Oh, Cillia, isn’t it wonderful? The river god has chosen a bride!” I loosen her embrace. “A bride?” “Yes!” Agnes wipes tears from her cheeks, bur her eyes don’t meet mine. “Who?” I whisper. The high holy mother pushes my aside and takes my sister’s arm. “Your sister, fool.” Mother says that when Agnes was born the river god turned golden yellow with delight. She adds, the day I was finally birthed, the heavens wept. She snorts and turns back to brushing Agnes’ long fiery hair. I look around at the people crammed into our stone hut. Their faces are wary. They congratulate Mother on a fine match, and nod their heads to Agnes. As usual, they avoid looking at me. “If this is a wedding, why aren’t people happy?” I ask Agnes, and she smiles her slim, chaste smile. Even now her eye do not meet mine. She looks sad. I try to cheer her with tricks the stone layers taught me. I stand on one foot and juggle round, smooth river stones until one lands on my head. Mother scowls. The holy sisters elbow their way into our house, shouldering by well-wishers. They stand in a circle around Agnes and Mother, and remain silent. One by one our guests crumble under the cold stone stares, and one by one, our guests sweep out the door until there is no one left but Agnes, Mother, and me. The holy sisters have come with lengths of marriage lead to braid into Agnes’s hair. I ask, “Why must you use ribboned lead?” One turns her stone face to me and I nearly falter, but she deigns to say, “To be sure the god will accept her.” “If the river god is truly a god, he will accept her, weight or no,” I protest. Mother hushes me. “Enough, Cilla.” I balance a stone on my nose, then two, I lift a foot in the air, but Agnes isn’t looking. Her blue eyes are transfixed on her waiting husband’s long body stretching out in front of the house. By the time the women are done, Agnes has hundreds of braids down her back, and the weight of it nearly pulls her over. Then Mother begins to gather and twist the heavy strands over and over, like the rolling water, until her hair is bound closely to her head. Agnes flinches as the sharpened ends of the wedding ribbon pierce her scalp.
“Does it hurt?” I ask. Mother’s slap spins me to the ground. Blood fills my mouth and spills onto the smooth dirt floor as the holy women rise and lead my sister outside. Her time has come. The holy sisters raise their black silk banners high. They pull their stone faces into place and push the gawking small folk away from the door, making a path for Agnes to follow. What are they hiding behind their hideous masks? I brush the dirt off my shift and rush to follow. I catch the villagers’ whispers as Agnes walks by, the high and mighty, the brave and lovely, the forlorn and sacrificed. My sister is calm as the holy sisters march her down the hill to her doom. I want to cry out that the river god is no god at all. That anyone who must weigh themselves with ribbons of lead will certainly sink. Everyone knows this. Everyone. But no one is paying attention to a blood-smeared, awkward girl trialing behind the procession. No one notices me. The bride halts at the water’s edge. She stands straight and tall despite the extra weight woven into her hair, despite the weight of maidenhood the river god will soon devour. She has nothing on under the shift the holy sisters gave her. I can see the shape of her shoulders and the long curve of her back through the fabric as the last rays of daylight shift and shimmer low on the horizon. My other half stands waiting for the ceremony to begin. My hand clenches around a rock and before I know my left from right, I send it hurling toward her. It hits the back of her head with a dull thwack. Time stands still. Slowly she turns, lifting a hand to the back of her scalp. Blood smears her shift. Everyone is screaming and rushing toward her. But I cannot hear them. For the first time that long afternoon my sister finally meets my eyes and then she is falling backward, dead. Sound comes back to me as the holy sisters cast aside their masks and wail, tearing at their hair. They drag the bride from the shallows. What good is a dead sacrifice? The people who were just in our hovel congratulating my mother now turn to me in rage. I look at my hands, unable to speak. The high holy mother’s prophecy, the one I have fought all my life, has come to pass.
beast, but fit for me. The pit begins to fill with water and I lose track of time. I am alone, sloshing through fetid water, no light to mark the passing day or the lonely night, no noise except for my shattered breathing. Soon I hear nothing at all. After a time the stone ceiling lifts and a high holy sister peers down into the pit. The sun scorches my eyes, and I splash around in a ridiculous attempt to hide. “Bring her out,” the high holy mother says. I am drawn out with ropes lashed about my arms. The men holding the ropes sneer and spit. The high holy mother sniffs and pulls her stone face into a frown. “Take her to the god.” “Am I to be made a bride?” I ask. The men laugh and keep their ropes tight. “Who would marry a curse?” they mock. My sister’s face flashes before me full of surprise and betrayal. I did that, I murdered my sister, five breaths away from the river god’s arms. I stop fighting against the ropes and let the men lead me to my destruction. No one is near the river today. Instead of ribboned weights in my hair, the men force river stones into my mouth. Like the stone I slew my sister with. I cannot swallow anymore. The holy mother nods her head and the men knock me to the ground. One opens my mouth while the other jams in more stones. My teeth chip and break, but I don’t scream or fight. I remember what I am. Then the two men toss me into the shallows. Strength has left me. I cannot move. After some time I realize I am alone. No one is present to witness my demise. I am to die a murderess’s death. The water ebbs around my skin, licking my toes, racing along my legs. Fingers snake around my neck and flow into my ear. My heart races. I wish my mother hadn’t hated me so. The river rolls over my body and withdraws, sucking the pebbles around me in a deafening roar. I wish my sister wasn’t dead. The waters cover me again, but this time the river god does not pull away. The sky shifts. My breath stills.
My mother rocks Agnes in her arms, weeping as the summer blue sky claps and the sky god pours out his wrath. The holy sisters push the small folk out of the way, and I let them raise me above their heads, above the shrieking crowd, and carry me off. The sisters toss me in an earthen cell and cover it with a plate from the stone god’s skull. A hole in the ground, not fit for
Chanticleer Authors Conference & Awards Banquet 2015 September 26, 27, 28, 29 Hotel Bellewether Bellingham, Washington see http://www.chantireviews.com/save-the-date/ for more details