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AUGUS T/SEPTEMBER 2019

E L A M E F E C R FIE FE ATU R IN G

Tiffany Scandal Karen Connelly Susan Welch Danielle Wong Joan Dempsey Jo Giese Beverly Engel Ashley Frampton Billie Bloebaum

WHAT TO READ NEXT IN INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING


OUR STORY

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M A G A Z I N E All we wanted was a really good magazine. About books. That was full of the really great stuff. So we made it. And we really like it. And we hope you do, too. Because we’re just getting started.

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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


Shelf Unbound Staff. PRESIDENT, EDITOR IN CHIEF Sarah Kloth PARTNER, PUBLISHER Debra Pandak CREATIVE DIRECTOR Anna Trokan COPY EDITOR Molly Niklasch CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Megan Verway Sarah Grochowski Christian Brown D.L. Graser FINANCE MANAGER Jane Miller

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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER CONTENTS

I N TH IS

ISSUE

FEATURE SECTIONS INTERVIEWS 10 Fierce Female February

Interview with Ashley Frampton

17 NASTY!

Interview with Tiffany Scandal

62 Fierce Female

Roundup of Fierce Female Authors who talk about what it means to be truly fierce. Featuring Karen Connelly, Susan Welch, Danielle Wong, Joan Dempsey, Jo Giese, and Beverly Engel.

72 Bookstore Romance Day

Interview with Billie Bloebaum

23 Bookstagram bookbabeofct

32 Recommended Reading COLUMNS 76 Book Moms

Megan Verway

57 Book Shelf 90 On Our Shelf 99 Discoveries

78 Fit Lit

Christian Brown

96 From Within D.L. Graser

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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019

Enter your book in Shelf Unbound’s Best Indie Book Competition! pg. 30


Lamb to the

Slaughter by Pete Delohery A novel about love and cour age, sin and redemption “Iron” Mike McGann is facing the twilight of his prizefighting career. Desperate for his future, he has refused to honor his promise to his wife to quit the ring and start a family. Rufus “Hurricane” Hilliard is the most menacing presence in prizefighting. But behind his menacing ring presence lives a man nobody knows, a complex man who despises his own image. Rufus “Hurricane” Hilliard vs. “Iron” Mike McGann, just another fight shown on The Continuous Sports Network, but by the time it is over the lives of these and many others will be forever different.

“This heartfelt tale makes a powerful emotional impact.” —Blue Ink Starred Review Also in Spanish: El Cordero al matadero Available in print and e-book at Amazon, xlibris, and Barnes & Noble.

w w w. p e t e d e l o h e r y. c o m

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A WO R D F R O M T H E P U B L I S H E R

Fierce & Female. BY SARAH KLOTH, PUBLISHER

“What’s the greatest lesson a woman should learn? That since day one. She’s already had everything she needs within herself. It’s the world that convinced her she did not” - Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey Growing up, finding a book with a female lead that wasn’t all ‘girly’ was rare. The female characters were living in the shadows of their male counterparts. “Fierce Female” wasn’t a thing. I grew up connecting to the male main characters in books like Runaway Ralph, Treasure Island, Catcher in the Rye, Among the Hidden, and of course Harry Potter. I played with actions figures like Captain Planet, Power Rangers, Darkwing Duck - I never owned a barbie. You could find me playing in mud, swimming in the creek, getting lost in the cornfields, going on adventures in the woods, climbing up trees. Basically I was the female version of Tom Sawyer.

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I grew up hangin' with the boys skateboarding into the night, gauging my ears, I even rocked bright pink hair for a few years. I was fierce female. But what does it mean to really be fierce? Well, this issue of Shelf Unbound is packed full of what it means to be a fierce female. We have an amazing, truly inspiring interview with Tiffany Scandal on her book NASTY! as well as a roundup of female authors who share their version of what fierce means to them. Fierceness comes from the inside-out, and well in my case sometimes it comes in the form of bright pink hair or gauging your ears. Every day we choose to be fierce; we are fiercely bold, fiercely strong. There are many ways to be fierce, so be fiercely you.


THE EMERGENCE OF HIV A NOVEL

DAVID CORNISH MD

Dr. Arthur Noble is a brilliant first-year medical resident in San Francisco, who has a stellar career ahead of him. However, all of Noble’s skills are put to the test when he encounters a strange new illness.  The ailment seemingly appears out of nowhere, and serves its victims a most horrible and brutal death.   Noble struggles to find answers to the medical mystery, even as many researchers and society refuse to believe it is a serious threat, or that it even exists.1980 is an authentic medical story about a disease that will eventually have an unimaginable impact on the entire world.

1980 is a fascinating read written with the medical professional in mind. It paints a complete picture of the early days of the crisis. …one of the most frightening mysteries of modern medicine. Medical professionals will find it fascinating and the general public, compelling.” - A&U Magazine, America’s AIDS Magazine

Available at

Print ISBN: 978-1-54392-803-7 eBook ISBN: 978-1-54392-804-4

Check out David Cornish’s first novel, 1918, about the influenza pandemic that killed 100 million people.

Print ISBN: 9780692334805 eBook ISBN: 9780692334812

WWW.DAVIDCORNISHBOOKS.COM

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The story is about Digit, the Robot dog, who helps to stop bullying at the Zipper Elementary School. Digit is a special dog because he teaches children not to bully each other in school. Digit carries a red toolbox kit that teaches children about positive behavior, positive role models, positive rules, being kind to one another, being helpful to each other, and teaches children how to deal with problems about bullying in school. Digit teaches the children how to be friendly, to share, to say please and thank you but most of all he teaches them to have positive behavior. Digit says, “Bullying Hurts! It hurts us all. Stop Bullying now!

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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


FROM SCHOOL PROJECT TO INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP. The inspirational story of two students who took their company, Cervélo Cycles, from a school basement project to their bikes winning in the Tour de France, the Olympics and Ironman. To Make Riders Faster takes you on a wild ride of like a double-shot success and setback sharing personal of Irish whiskey” stories, cycling stories, business stories and engineering stories.

More Books By

Colm Herron

www.ToMakeRidersFaster.com

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FEATURE INTERVIEW

The Woman Behind Fierce Female February. BY SARA GROCHOWSKI

01 INTERVIEW WITH ASHLEY FRAMPTON, FOUNDER OF FIERCE FEMALE FEBRUARY

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When did you launch your blog, Falling Down the Book Hole? What motivated you to begin blogging about books? AF: It has been a little over 6 years since I created my first blog post about books. [The blog] has gone through many name changes and designs since then but has always been about books. I have always been a reader, but never had many people in my life that shared that love I have for books, so creating my blog was a way to share my thoughts and favorite books and created a community of people who loved reading as well. What was your goal in launching this year’s inaugural Fierce Female February? AF: I find that I am more motivated by lists and goals. February is my blogiversay and I wanted to host a sort of readathon during that month to celebrate! I think something was going on in the country or on twitter – I don’t remember exactly - that was related to women. I thought [Fierce Female February] was fun alliteration and the topic of Fierce Females had a ton of opportunities for blog posts and creative ideas. I felt it was important to have females involved in all aspects - female bloggers, female characters, and female authors. [The first year] really exceeded my expectations; the posts that my fellow bloggers developed for the event where so creative and wonderfully thought out. [The event] showcased great fierce female characters,

promoted amazing fierce female authors, and was able to bring together a community of fierce female bloggers! How do you define the term “fierce female?” AF: I think it is hard to determine a set definition of exactly what a fierce female is because I do not believe there is one right answer to this question. A fierce female is someone who never gives up regardless of the situation or obstacles. It is someone who is brave, confident and an overall fighter mentally and or physically. They push against what is expected by society and do not let anyone define whom they will be. A fierce female stands up for what they believe in and help empower other women. Why do you feel it’s important to celebrate characters and women who identify as or define being fiercely female? AF: I think it is important to celebrate all women and show that all women can fall into that category of being fierce. Sometimes women are put into boxes of being emotional, weak, and lesser, which is seen as negative, but history, books, and media featuring fierce females show that woman can defy those labels and that being “emotional” is really an asset! I think it’s important that women feel and know that they have fierceness inside of them. By focusing on and celebrating those qualities and characters in books, we empower

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women and provide opportunities for women to identify with characters allow them to redefine what it means to be fierce. Who is invited to take part in this multi-platform celebrations of fierce females in pop culture and real life? That is, who is the intended audience of the project? AF: Everyone is invited to participate in the celebration of fierce females. There was a heavy female presence this past year, but I would love for others to participate and share their definition of fierce femininity. A male or non-binary perspective would be a great addition to this event. I do not want this to be an exclusive celebration: the intended audience for Fierce Female February is everyone in the book community or who is interested in reading and other forms of media. What do you see when imagining Fierce Female February’s impact this time next year? AF: It went better than I ever hoped or expected this first time around, especially considering that it was all pulled together in less than two months. I am hoping to get more people involved next year to bring in new ideas, perspectives, and creative elements. I feel that being able to reach out and get authors involved would boost visibility and allow the event to have a larger impact. But, ultimately, I just love to see the event bring

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01

FEATURE INTERVIEW

together members of the book community to celebrate the books and fierce females we love! How can bloggers, authors, and publishers get involved? AF: I would love to have more bloggers involved and have the help from authors and publishers. All are welcome to reach out to me to be added to the communication distribution for more information. I’m very interested in authors and publishers creating blog posts, participating in interviews, having a book or books featured for the readathon, and assistance with giveaways. There will also be a Fierce Female Fall Featurette coming in September, which will focus specifically on the characters, rather than just the books and media as a whole, and for which involvement is welcome. I can be contacted at fallingdownthebookhole@gmail.com. Follow @fiercefemreads on Twitter for all updates. What recently released books by or about fierce women should be on our reading lists for the end of summer? AF: The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson, The Rogue King by Abigail Owen (comes out end of July), Wild and Crooked by Leah Thomas, Let Me Hear A Rhyme by Tiffany D Jackson, and On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. Read More About Fierce Female February


Discover These Award-Winning Books by Diamante Lavendar! Written about overcoming hardship and loss in life, inspirational author Diamante Lavendar offers her insight about moving forward after life difficulty into a state of hope and healing.

Available at Amazon.com

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Who is Titus? A chicken farmer at 12 years of age, US Army Paratrooper in Japan at 17, All-Scholastic Football player, Football Coach, Biology Teacher, Professional Photographer, Bank Incorporator, Presidential Confidant, Chiropractor and a critic’s quote,  

“TITUS OUT GUMPS FORREST!!” The story of a young mill town sports hero. Grit, focus and an ability to weave through all obstacles dominated his life game on the field .......... and off !!!!! Ensuing years finds the sports hero hanging up the cleats and one day dining with a US president and going on to professional brilliance and international acclaim. Never far from hometown yet lightyears from his humble beginnings. This engaging tale will inspire others in pursuit of their own distant personal goal posts!!!! Available at 14

AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019

Titus & Senator Marco Rubio, exchanging books, two great examples of the “American Dream”


Titus

Winner of the Pete Delohery Award for Best Sports Book for the 2018 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Competition

Titus

Top read of 16 recommended books sent to our United States Service Men & Women from around the globe. http://www.fall-inmilitarynews.us/Books.html

Titus

Top choice from 100 Authors/Books at the Hollywood 2018 PitchFest https://bit.ly/2T5JOhv

Titus

WSJ honors Dr. Titus Plomaritis, on March 27, 2019 http://drtitusplomaritis.com/

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WHEN 16-YEAR-OLD ANNA HOLLOWAY LEARNS MORE ABOUT HER FATHER'S MURDER, SHE UNCOVERS A MAP TO AN ANCIENT BURIED TREASURE.

CARRIE MERRILL

AVAILABLE AT AMAZON


FEATURE INTERVIEW 02

Interview: Tiffany Scandal, NASTY! BY SARAH KLOTH

INTERVIEW WITH TIFFANY SCANDAL ON NASTY!, A COLLECTION OF BOLD ESSAYS AND RECOLLECTIONS BY FIERCE WOMEN WHO ARE NOT ASHAMED OF WHO THEY ARE OR WHAT THEY DO.

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CONTINUED

02

FEATURE INTERVIEW

About Tiffany Scandal

Tiffany Scandal is the author of three books and the Managing Editor at King Shot Press. Her second book (Jigsaw Youth, 2015, Ladybox Books) exists as an audiobook which the author narrates herself. Her third book (Shit Luck, 2017, Eraserhead Press) was a Wonderland Award finalist for Best Novel and received an option for film. Her fiction and non-fiction have been published in Huck Magazine, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Living Dead Magazine, The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction, and a handful of anthologies. She is also the editor of NASTY!, a not-forprofit anthology series benefitting Planned Parenthood and SMYRC. When not at a computer, she is a part-time model and photographer and the products of both endeavors can be found online and in print - most notably: Suicide Girls, Auxiliary Magazine, Rise Tattoo Magazine, and a few art books. She has a degree in Feminist Studies from UCSB. When I first read about NASTY!, I knew Tiffany was a perfect fit or our Fierce Female issue and we had to get an interview with her. Take it back to the beginning. Tell us a bit about NASTY! and how the idea came about.

"A fierce female is unapologetic

about who they are. They speak their mind and recognize that sisterhood is powerful. We stand up for all women (and non-binary) folk."

TS: Nasty! came from extreme anger and frustration. On a

personal level, I found myself going to writing/publishing meetings that were largely male-dominated, and a lot of times, I felt like my voice and contributions didn't matter. Peers I had respected often spoke over me, or only saw value in me if they thought they had a chance to get into my pants. When I'd speak up, I was told to not "make waves" and was assured that issues would get addressed privately, but it never seemed like they did because this

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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019

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went on for years. On a much larger scale, I had just witnessed this country elect a man who had openly admitted to sexually assaulting women. I saw Planned Parenthood, a resource that helped me when I was really struggling to get by and didn't have access to adequate health facilities, be constantly under attack. The morning after the election results, I was working a morning shift at a bar. The space was filled with women, asking for the strongest drinks we could offer, and everything was mostly silent except for the sobbing. Women everywhere were hurting. I wanted to give women a platform. To speak about whatever was on their mind. To share their stories, uninterrupted. I was told numerous times this book would bomb, but I didn't care. This felt too important. Volume Two just came out a few months ago. Can you tell the readers a little bit about the new book and what readers can look forward to? TS: While the cover may look brighter, it is a

darker, heavier second chapter. It continues to push the boundaries of the kinds of stories women share. Tragic and heartbreaking, the anthology is still so incredibly empowering. It’s difficult to think about it without getting chills. NASTY hits on some tough subject. Can you talk about some of the

issues and struggles brought to life in NASTY! Volume One & Two? TS: Oh, man. I intentionally kept the

submission guidelines vague because I wanted women to write the stories they wanted to tell, the stories they felt needed to be heard. Both volumes provide a street-view tour of the feminist struggle, covering topics such as body positivity, sexual empowerment, overcoming adversity, surviving trauma, and defining consent. Stories that will make you laugh, cry, and feel like you can take on the world. The Nasty! anthology series is here to make waves. Since Nasty came out, what kind of impact have you seen these collections have on the community? Are there any stories that you can share from your readers feedback? TS: I don't think we were ready for these

books to take off like they did. Nasty! was featured on the local news. We headlined a reading at the largest independent bookstore in the country, reading to an audience of at least 80 people. We hosted a nationwide tour so that the writers could take the stage and share their stories. Nasty! has been picked up by bookstores and vendors all across the country, and it was a huge hit in Spain. Most recently, I received an email from a reader whose sister is a huge fan of the series. She would read and re-read the books during

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02

FEATURE INTERVIEW

her breaks from exams, and now she's recently been accepted in a University in Paris to study Political Science. I've also received countless messages from men who were shocked by some of the stories in the series, saying that even though they knew that there was struggle, these stories helped them feel like they were in the shoes of these women. It warmed my heart to see people want to become a better advocate and ally. What does it mean to you to be a “Fierce Female� TS: A fierce female is unapologetic about who they are. They speak their mind

and recognize that sisterhood is powerful. We stand up for all women (and nonbinary) folk. What are some Fierce Female authors on your radar? TS: Violet LeVoit, Juliet Escoria, Lindsay Hunter, Samantha Irby, Rios de la Luz,

Rhonda J Gracia, Kristen J Sollee, Rachel Stevens, Devora Gray. What are your top 5 books by fierce female authors and why? TS: "I Miss the World" by Violet LeVoit. This book covers trauma in a way I've

never seen before. It reminds me of writings by Samuel Beckett and early Chuck Palanhiuk, but still very much is own beast. There's a twist in the book that occurs about 3/4's of the way through that is some of the best damn writing I've ever come across. "Written on the Body" by Jeanette Winterson. This books reads like poetry about sex and dying. The genderless narrator pays tribute to their dying lover in the most morbid, yet romantic way possible. "Bitch Planet" by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Okay, so this is actually a comic series, but it's so damn good. The series is about fierce women who get sent to an offplanet prison for being "non-compliant." The comic is feminist as fuck, and I always recommend this one every chance I get.

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"Meaty!" by Samantha Irby. I'm a huge fan of her blog Bitches Gotta Eat, so when Meaty! was announced, I jumped on that shit immediately. It's a collection of personal essays that are raw, hilarious, and so deeply unapologetic. "Black Cloud" by Juliet Escoria. This is a another collection of essays, but about selfdestruction. This books reads like poetry, and I'm pretty damn sure that Escoria is this generation's Plath. What have you personally learned from making the Nasty! volumes? TS: I actually learned a lot about community working on these books. There were a lot of

people who showed up and went above and beyond to help support this project, and for that, I am eternally gratefully. Any last comments or wisdom that you want to share to our Fierce Female readers? TS: Do you. Be you. Don't be afraid to take up space and be heard. î –

About NASTY! From body positivity to sexual empowerment to overcoming adversity and beyond, Nasty! is a collection of bold essays and recollections by fierce women who are not ashamed of who they are or what they do. Featuring Boodawe, Jacqueline-Elizabeth Cottrell, Sabrina Dropkick, Tara Dublin, Amber Fallon, Devora Gray, MP Johnson, Rhonda Jackson Joseph, Diana Kirk, Jacqueline Kirkpatrick, Kathryn Louise, Jessie Lynn McMains, Cervante Pope, Julie Rea, Jennifer Robin, Rocket, Eleanor Rose, Missy Suicide, Kim Vodicka... 100% of the profits from the sale of this book will be donated to Planned Parenthood, a provider of affordable healthcare, sex education and family planning in the United States and worldwide.


Available at

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Here is the book that so many early readers are going crazy over. It is the TRUE story of the REAL American hero who risked his life in 1947 to fly the X-1 rocket plane through the sound barrier and take the world of aviation into the modern age. The risks were great with some scary ups and downs, but Chuck Yeager was steady and determined and he did it. What is the sound barrier? This book gives a careful explanation. You and your children will never forget this story. See the movie at www.supersonicflyer.com.


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@bookbabeofct TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR BOOKSTAGRAM ACCOUNT? @bookbabeofct: Hi everyone! My name is Katy. I am a project coordinator by day, avid reader by night. When I am

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not working or reading, I am volunteering at a local dog rescue or tending to my house plants! After graduating from college a few years back I realized that my love for reading had faded after having to read textbooks for school. Last Spring I started a reading challenge as a way to get myself back into reading. After my first year long reading challenge was complete, I started my bookstagram account. My account took off and after just three months I have reached my goal of 2k followers! On the weekends I love to travel to local coffee shops in Connecticut and take pictures of what I am currently reading to share with my followers.

BOOKSTAGRAM

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE 'FIERCE FEMALE’ AUTHOR AND WHY? @bookbabeofct: Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen- who co-wrote “The Wife Between Us” and “An Anonymous Girl”-are my favorite Fierce Female authors! This duo has written some

Each issue we feature a new bookstagrammer highlighting some of their amazing work.

amazing psychological thrillers. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ‘FIERCE FEMALE’ BOOK AND WHY? @bookbabeofct: My favorite fierce female book is “The Rules Do Not Apply” by Ariel Levy. This memoir takes readers through

KATY.

her life-long journey of heartbreak, loss, and grief. Levy built an

@BOOKBABEOFCT

unconventional life for herself that was constantly challenged by

FAVORITE BOOK:

perfect example of what it is like to be a ‘Fierce Female’.

THE ROAD BY CORMAC MCCARTHY FAVORITE GENRE:

THRILLERS OR MEMOIRS

her loved ones and surroundings. Her resilience and strength is a

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE ‘FIERCE FEMALE’ CHARACTER AND WHY? @bookbabeofct: Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter Series. She is the ultimate Fierce Female! 

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SEE MORE BOOK ADVENTURES ON INSTAGRAM

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“AN ABSORBING BOOK... - one sure to appeal to a broad audience of readers interested in cold war history, aircraft, defense, and the sacrifices of unsung heros.�

_ Blueink Reviews

Willy Victor and 25 Knothole is about the vital cog of airborne defense against the real threat of a sneak attack on the American mainland... It provides a history lesson that the American public is unaware of.

www.codenamearcangelbrucejarvis.com


a g cowbo n i m o c y e B can’t be that hard,

can it?

It certainly looks easy to Franklyn “Frank” Ellington Seton IV. Smothered by both his overbearing mother and stuffy Maryland Society, Frank escapes to the vistas of his childhood. He will soon learn, however, that the one thing the movies left out was the smell. And the dirt. And the horses. As Frank makes his way through mid-twentieth century America, he searches for a place he truly belongs. And if being an actual cowboy is too difficult, why not try Hollywood?

“With a mixture of nostalgia, melancholy, and heaps of humor, The True Life of a Singing Cowboy will lasso you from the first note.”

AVAILABLE


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CRIME’S AN UGLY CONSTANT IN THE BIG CITIES. L.A. CHICAGO. NEW YORK. BUT WHEN A SAVAGE MURDER BRUTALIZES A SMALL TOWN AND NEIGHBOR TURNS ON NEIGHBOR, A TOUGH-AS-NAILS COP IS ESSENTIAL TO RESTORING ORDER. BLOOD LAND IS A GRITTY, EMOTIONAL SAGA SET IN THE CONTEMPORARY WYOMING BADLANDS WITH BOTH GREED AND VENGEANCE AT ITS CORE. ABOUT THE AUTHOR

END OF SUMMER SPECIAL: xxxxxx BOX-SET ON SALE FOR ONLY $9.99 GET YOUR COPY Author R.S. Guthrie himself has been voted by The Author Show as one of “Fifty Great Writers You Should Be Reading”. Guthrie is a fresh voice in a cacophony of writers; a welcome talent who creates complex, engaging characters; heroes with fierce pride and unflinching bravery meshed with real, flawed selves; real men and women facing the challenges of all humans. 27


BOOK REVIEW

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett. “The walk made me realize that in real life, there isn’t actually a last thing. Nothing ends; it just turns into a different story.” That’s what happened with this book, it starts out one story, takes you into another, brings you back to the original, and then ends something completely new.

THE HUNDRED LIES OF LIZZIE LOVETT BY CHELSEA SEDOTI

“Everyone has their own version of the truth”

Hawthorne would say things throughout like “I wished [they] would win the lottery and lose the ticket. I wished they would only ever be able to take cold showers. I wished every glass of lemonade they drank for the rest of their lives would be just a little too sour.” And “There was something childlike about his smile, which was startling to see on such an old face. Getting a genuine smile from an adult was about as rare as seeing multiple suns in the sky.” That second quote got to me – it really got me thinking about adults and genuine happiness. Hawthorne had a different, selfish but unique and intriguing outlook on life and circumstances and situations. You get so sucked in to following her and her thoughts and her life, you forget that a mystery is actually going to be solved at the end, and when it happens it comes back and slams you like a huge wave you didn’t see coming. You get inside Hawthorne’s way of thinking that you completely forget the reality of what began this story in the first place, and wow, it really hits you, almost, but not quite, as hard as it hits Hawthorne. This is a very REAL book. From relationships, differing coping mechanisms, conflicting emotions, and topics and I can’t breach in this review without spoiling what must be read. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chelsea Sedoti fell in love with writing at a young age after discovering that making up stories was more fun than doing her school work (her teachers didn’t always appreciate this). In an effort to avoid getting a “real” job, Chelsea explored careers as a balloon twister, filmmaker, and paranormal investigator. Eventually she realized that her true passion is writing about flawed teenagers who are also afraid of growing up. When she’s not at the computer, Chelsea spends her time exploring abandoned buildings, eating junk food at roadside diners, and trying to befriend every animal in the world. 28

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A VIETNAM JOURNEY AND LOVE STORY An American soldier (Richie) and a Vietnamese woman (Linh) fall in love and have a baby during the war in Vietnam. He attempts to marry Linh but fails to get permission from the Army and is then pulled out of Vietnam. Linh and her son make an incredible journey to potential safety and security in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Richie builds his career and raises a family in the United States. They meet again in Hong Kong two decades later and achieve their ultimate destiny.

Available in Hardcover, Paperback & Ebook at: www.tomwascoe.com


E N TER YO U R B O O K ! SHELF UNBOUND

BEST

INDIE BOOK

COMPETITION Shelf Media hosts the annual Shelf Unbound Best Indie Book Competition for best selfpublished or independently published book, receiving entries from May 1 to October 1 each year. In addition to prizes, the winner, finalists, and more than 100 notable books from the competition are featured in the December/January issue of Shelf Unbound.

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Call For Entries. Shelf Unbound book review magazine announces the Shelf Unbound Writing Competition for Best Self-Published Book. Any self-published book in any genre is eligible for entry. Entry fee is $100 per book. The winning entry will be selected by the editors of Shelf Unbound magazine. To submit an entry, Apply Online or email a PDF of your entire book, including the cover, to contest@ shelfmediagroup.com, subject line Contest Entry, and send a check for $100 made out to Shelf Media Group to Sarah Kloth, Shelf Media Group, 2234 Patrick Lane, Waukesha, WI 53188. All entries received (and entry fee paid) will be considered. THE TOP FIVE BOOKS, as determined by the editors of Shelf Media Group, will receive editorial coverage in the December / January issue of Shelf Unbound. The author of the book named as the Best Self-Published book will receive editorial coverage as well as a year’s worth of full-page ads in the magazine.

The deadline for entry is midnight on October 1, 2019.

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RECOMMENDED READING

EXCERPTS

SHELF UNBOUND’S RECOMMENDED READING Take a bite from your next favorite book.

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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


RECOMMENDED READING

Shut Up You're Pretty. BY TÉA MUTONJI

www.arsenalpulp.com

"Jolie was my first friend. Her name was actually Jolietta. I shortened it to Jolie upon meeting her. I felt it captured her spirit more, her essence. The name came from a song Mother used to sing when we lived in Congo, where it was hot and mosquitoes didn’t sting because we coexisted with them. “Mommy’s baby, pretty, pretty,” the song went. Mother stopped singing once we immigrated. She stopped doing many things. But I liked that she had given me this— this song so that I could now give it to someone else. And Jolie was in fact jolie: long blonde hair, defined nose, blue in her eyes, roses in each cheek, tall but not defiantly so. She was the one who introduced me to the park. She was responsible for my popularity and my likability, because she was herself popular and well liked, and I gained her reputation by proximity. But still, I was the girl next door.

Unlike Jolie, I had perfectly ashy elbows and naturally lacked poise, and this was my advantage on Galloway. People could relate to that. As for Jolie, she was simply unattainable. To want a person like her was to want too much from life. To have a person like her was to have everything and, perhaps, too soon. When we arrived, Jolie was sitting on our doorstep, as though to check that the newcomers weren’t freaks. And then she gave a thumbsup to a bunch of kids watching from the other side of the roundabout. There was another set of low-rise townhomes, peeling and brown, identical to ours. The thumbs-up meant that we were acceptable, that we had passed some unknown street cred test, and Jolie was both curator and writer of said test.

from the taxi. That’s all we had. Suitcases. We were lucky enough that the previous tenants had left behind some furniture and that whoever ran the complex took pity on our poverty and allowed us to claim it as our own. “Welcome to Galloway,” Jolie said, reaching her hand out to greet my father. As they shook hands, she grimaced a smile at him, stuck her tongue out, and winked. “Can he come out and play?” she asked." 

She introduced herself as we were unloading the suitcases 33


ABOUT THE BOOK

Shut Up You're Pretty. In Téa Mutonji’s disarming debut story collection, a woman contemplates her Congolese traditions during a family wedding, a teenage girl looks for happiness inside a pack of cigarettes, a mother reconnects with her daughter through their shared interest in f ish, and a young woman decides on shaving her head in the waiting room of an abortion clinic. These punchy, sharply observed stories blur the lines between longing and choosing, exploring the narrator’s experience as an involuntary one. Tinged with pathos and humor, they interrogate the moments in which femininity, womanness, and identity are not only questioned but also imposed.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TÉA MUTONJI Téa Mutonji is an award-winning poet and writer. Born in Congo-Kinshasa, she now lives and writes in Scarborough, Ontario where she was named emerging writer of the year (2017) by the Ontario Book Publishers Organization. Shut Up You're Pretty is her first book.

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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


RECOMMENDED READING

The Atlas of Reds and Blues. BY DEVI S. LASKAR www.counterpointpress.com

. . . in which the narrator attempts to decide which particular incident set her on the path of this particular life story, concrete driveway and all, without sprinkling regret and bitterness over everything upon which she stews, without uttering the word no . . .

Possibly the exact moment the mustached state policeman, in monogrammed Kevlar and matching navy pants, stands in her driveway and points his assault rifle at her head on a cloudless morning in May, right after she took the girls to school, before she has her shower, and while she is still wearing her brown “Hard Work Never Killed Anyone but Why Risk It?” T-shirt and gray sweatpants. Possibly one minute later when she counts the number of police and the number of automatic guns on her front lawn: all weapons at the ready as if she would cower before them or be impressed at the demonstration of force or be more inclined to listen to their

list of demands. Possibly a moment not too much later when the firecrackers are unexpectedly displayed, and she finds herself on the ground, bleeding. Or, years earlier, the moonless night before she goes into labor for the first time, the air thick with mosquitoes. Hands, face, and feet swollen from gestational diabetes. She wears flip-flops everywhere, the police precincts, the courthouses she covers, and the newsroom where she works as a journalist. For months, all jewelry had been off her hands, ears, and neck to quell the tide of swelling, the tide that never ebbs. The dangerous pregnancy and its forty daily admonitions and precautions always looping in succession in her mind. Labor Day weekend, 1998. After work, she lives in black stretch pants and a maternity T-shirt that has a cartoon picture of Garfield on it because those

are the only two comfortable things she owns. It is close to midnight and neither her husband nor she can sleep. So humid that even the crickets in the Georgia thickets stop chirping to conserve personal energy. They decide to watch a movie, but notice there is no popcorn, her only obgynapproved snack, left in the pantry. She volunteers to go to the 24-hour grocery a few miles away to lap up the hyper-air-conditioned air, while her husband, her hero, tries his luck at renting Titanic.... 

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ABOUT THE BOOK

The Atlas of Reds and Blues. When a woman―known only as Mother― moves her family f rom Atlanta to its wealthy suburbs, she discovers that neither the times nor the people have changed since her childhood in a small Southern town. Despite the intervening decades, Mother is met with the same questions: Where are you f rom? No, where are you really f rom? The Americanborn daughter of Bengali immigrants, she f inds that her answer―Here―is never enough. Mother's simmering anger breaks through one morning, when, during a violent and unfounded police raid on her home, she f inally refuses to be complacent. As she lies bleeding f rom a gunshot wound, her thoughts race f rom childhood games with her sister and visits to cousins in India, to her time in the newsroom before having her three daughters, to the early days of her relationship with a husband who now spends more time flying business class than at home. ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DEVI S. LASKAR Devi S. Laskar is a native of Chapel Hill, N.C. She holds an MFA from Columbia University in New York, an MA in South Asian Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BA in journalism and English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A former newspaper reporter, she is now a novelist, poet, photographer and artist.

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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


RECOMMENDED READING

This House of Wounds. BY GEORGINA BRUCE

www.undertowpublications.com HER BONES THE TREES

She ran, her red coat flashing through the woods. Wet leaves and soil under her shoes. The woods are full of dead girls. She heard voices calling her back, men trailing her, hunting her. She wouldn’t go back. She was pulled onwards, that tugging at her core growing stronger, more insistent. She kept moving, running into the dark dense forest, her heart thundering in her ears and her chest burning and her muscles aching—and she tripped on a tree root and fell, sprawled over leaves and mud. Her heart thumped in her chest. She felt her pulse in her throat, in her fingers, digging into the dirt. She’d fallen into a natural clearing. She clambered to her feet and raised her head, and he was suddenly there, a shadow in the darkness between two trees. He wasn’t what

she expected him to be, not really. He was wearing a mask but it was a mask of dreaming. She didn’t know him, only from stories. They’d buried the stories so deep, she wouldn’t have known him at all if it hadn’t been for the apple he held in his hand. “It’s just an apple,” he said. “Take it, if you want.” His eyes were hidden behind the mask, or she wouldn’t have been able to look at him, so fierce, so upright was his bearing. The proud antlers that crested around his head seemed to tangle and weave in and out with tree limbs and branches. As though he wore the whole forest for his crown. The Woods King, his hands full of gifts. “Apples want to be bitten,” said he, and held out the fruit. She took it from him, their fingers touching, sliding together and apart. The apple tumbled glossy into her palm. She

snapped the skin, bit into the pale heart. Juice flooded her tongue, shone on her mouth. He reached out and slid his thumb over the flesh of her lip, then his own lip, licking off the trembling droplet. An almost kiss. A teasing glance. Nothing more. But it was the same as if he’d pressed his whole mouth against her and tugged at her quivering heart. 

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ABOUT THE BOOK

This House of Wounds. This House of Wounds is the devastating debut short story collection f rom British Fantasy Award-winning author Georgina Bruce. Haunting and visceral tales for the lost and the lonely. An emotional and riveting debut, with 4 brand new stories. “An astonishing, totally absorbing debut collection. Edgy, disturbing and delicious in equal parts. Georgina Bruce plays with myth and horror beautifully.” - Kerry Hadley-Pryce, Author of Gamble, and The Black Country

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

GEORGINA BRUCE Georgina Bruce is a writer and teacher living in Edinburgh. Her short stories have been widely published in magazines and anthologies, and have been longlisted for the Bridport and Mslexia short story prizes. In 2017, her story “White Rabbit” won the British Fantasy Award for Short Fiction. This House of Wounds is her debut collection from Undertow Books.

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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


RECOMMENDED READING

Juliet the Maniac. BY JULIET ESCORIA

www.penguinrandomhouse.com

Nicole bought the switchblade when she went down to Tijuana with her mom and dad. They’d let her go off by herself as long as she was back when she’d promised. She pretended to go shopping for dresses but instead went to the nightclubs, where Mexican girls not much older than us blew whistles loud in her face, dumping cheap tequila down her throat. She pretended to swim but instead bought things you couldn’t here, pills that made us sleepy but not high, and, of course, that switchblade. It looked exactly like a joke switchblade I’d had as a kid, one that was actually a comb. Same black and silver handle, same plastic switch, just as flimsy and cheap looking. But the blade was heavy, pale and cold like the moon. She kept the switchblade in her makeup case, alongside

the bright lipsticks she often put on but never wore. This was something we did a lot at her house—put on makeup. Everything Nicole owned was expensive: MAC eyeshadow, Clinique foundation, Dior powder, all purchased from Nordstrom or Saks. Nicole was a pro, blending powders on her eyelids and cheeks with gold-handled brushes until she looked like a doll. She plucked my eyebrows high and thin, drew an X across my cupid’s bow before slicking on lipstick, lines smooth and everything perfectly symmetrical. When she finished, I looked just like Drew Barrymore or Clara Bow. I didn’t think anything when she took the switchblade out of her makeup case. We were listening to the Sex Pistols in her new room in her new house, big and empty because

they’d just moved in. The music was as loud as it would go, fuzzing the speakers of her gigantic stereo, the wild and quick beat of my heart. She flicked the knife out, held it close to my throat and laughed. Her eyes flickered and she made a face like a crazy killer and I laughed too, nervous, feeling as though for a second she had turned from my best friend into a stranger. 

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Juliet the Maniac. A highly anticipated debut—f rom a writer hailed as "a combination of Denis Johnson and Joan Didion" (Dazed)—brilliantly captures the intimate triumph of a girl's struggle to become the woman she knows she can be. Ambitious, talented fourteen-year-old honors student Juliet is poised for success at her Southern California high school. However, she soon f inds herself on an increasingly f rightening spiral of drug use, self-harm, and mental illness that lands her in a remote therapeutic boarding school, where she must ultimately f ind the inner strength to survive.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

JULIET ESCORIA JULIET ESCORIA is the author of the poetry collection WITCH HUNT (Lazy Fascist Press 2016) and the story collection BLACK CLOUD (CCM/Emily Books 2014), which were both listed in various best of the year roundups. Her writing can be found in places like Lenny, Catapult, VICE, Prelude, Dazed, and Hobart and has already been translated into many languages. She lives in West Virginia with her husband, the writer Scott McClanahan. 40

AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


RECOMMENDED READING

Hum.

BY NATALIA HERO www.metatron.press

I wake up naked next to him and I don’t know what happened but I know he’s been inside me. My body feels wrong. It aches when I move. Limbs limp. I roll over slowly, pick my purse up from the floor, check my phone. Maybe this is okay, maybe it isn’t so bad. It’s 4:03 a.m. and I don’t know where the last three hours went. Missed calls and texts from friends wondering where I’m at. I see that I sent them all the same thing around 12:30: “Help.” That’s when I start screaming. A cry that I pull from every part of my body that he touched without permission. I scream at him to call me a cab. When he gets off the phone he offers to wait with me outside. I scream at him to stay away. I run out and sit on the sidewalk. I try to control my breathing but there’s something inside me that

isn’t welcome. I want it to leave. When the cab arrives I get up trembling. Vibrating. The driver is friendly. He asks, “How was your night?” and I don’t know how to answer him so I say, “Thank you, thank you so much, thank you.” My body still shaking. Something buzzing inside me. Something angry. When we stop at a red light I can hear it. The driver looks up at me in the rear-view mirror. “Is that your phone?” “What?” I start coughing to cover up the sound. I feel it vibrating more powerfully inside my chest, thrashing around like it’s suffocating. Like it’s trying to escape. “Do you hear that? There’s a hum. Or, like, a buzzing sound. Is it the car?” “Listen, you can drop me off here, it’s just another few blocks. I think I’m gonna puke.” He stops the car and I hand him

two twenties. I tell him to keep the change, thank him again, slam the door and run up the street. Pain in my chest that makes me drop to my knees. I cough and gag and scream and then finally it flies out of my mouth. I put my head down and cry, resigned and exhausted. Empty. Through my sobs I can still hear a soft little murmur. I look up and it’s there, hovering in front of my face, staring me right in the eyes. 

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Hum. Fiction. Women's Studies. HUM follows a young woman whose life is changed forever when, after being raped, she gives birth to a hummingbird. She must learn to cope with not only what happened to her, but with the bird's persistent, agitating presence in her life. Natalia Hero's debut is a beautiful and tormented magical-realist novella about surviving trauma, reclaiming oneself and what it means to heal.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

NATALIA HERO Natalia Hero is a Montreal-based fiction writer and translator. She holds a BA in English and Spanish Literature from Concordia University and an MA in Literary Translation from the University of Ottawa. Her short fiction and translations have appeared in various publications including Cosmonauts Avenue, Peach Mag, Carte Blanche, and Shabby Doll House. Her first translation of a full-length novel will be published by QC Fiction in 2019. HUM is her first book. 42

AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


RECOMMENDED READING

Hotwheel. BY AJA MOORE

www.metatron.press

All her books arrive for me My thing is putting a buncha shit on hold

Fuck, Sharon thanks for this logic. What a strange and strict tradition

Then paying close attention to what arrives, and when

The equating of men with their Earths

My other thing is walking to and from the downtown library every day via the Georgia Viaduct and getting a Costco hotdog for lunch The whole perfect day costs a dollar sixty-three On Friday after work I take her home I exhaust her I deck her outwith sparkling Paint Tool Reverent gifs I calculateher birthtime (Embarrassing) and decide that a person with their sun, Venus, Mercury and Mars in Scorpio could absolutely write when he’s left. I feel like a landscape

As if Nature weren’t literally the most Giving force there is The very condition of all life Of course I try to write a poem that requires honesty Sort of about how when my brother (You deserve it) runs too close to the edge of the road my fear becomes (tonally,energetically) rage But also about I hope the night my mom collapsed and I paced back and forth in our then apartment drinking hating and then drinking again two litres of flat warm Diet Pepsi It was sweet My brother was there too, asleepthe whole time which

is probably why I didn’t go for a walk in retrospector something He was so small and my favorite and I lay holding him very still A way-too-big spoon I saw us from above, two skins If he stirred or moved at all I would die In that moment I could not afford for him to be capable of leaving me If he had I would’ve died 

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Hotwheel. Poetry. Women's Studies. Aja Moore's debut collection of poetry is awash in sincerity and the ways in which we simultaneously crave, doubt, avoid, and totally disparage it. HOTWHEEL, in turn, reveals its precious lifeaff irming conviction, despite its incertitude-or precisely because of it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AJA MOORE Aja Moore is a graduate of the University of British Columbia. She has volunteered with the B.C. Book Prizes, Summer Literary Seminars, and as a Poetry Editor for PRISM International. hotwheel is her first book.

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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


RECOMMENDED READING

All We Have is Our Voice. BY CAROLE STONE

www.dosmadres.com

Mary Shelley Beside Mary Wollstonecraft’s Grave They say a woman could not have written such a tale, that it is a ghost story I overheard the men telling the stormy night we matched wits — Percy, Lord Byron and Coleridge — three geniuses and me. My maker, my muse, who left me motherless at my birth, I create a creature, unnatural, wild dark. Here is my book, monster with the dull eye, yellow skin that hardly covers his muscles and arteries; my shriveled, nameless, infant child.

Frida Kahlo’s The Broken Column, 1944 Nails tacked into the sheet draped around me from the waist down, as if I were in the gynecologist’s office mourning the child I lost,

my back, bloody as the backs of the penitents who corn whip themselves, the column held to my chin like a gun about to go off, my naked breasts protrude from the brace tight around my rib cage. I’m sick of it, operation after operation, suffering I can’t shake. My body survives in the sky, wisps of blue, and the earth, an undulating green, landscape of Mexico whose contours I love. Martyr, saint, muse. A woman with ordinary sorrow.

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ABOUT THE BOOK

All We Have is Our Voice. Poetry. Women's Studies. "In ALL WE HAVE IS OUR VOICE, Carole Stone's f ierce dramatic monologues, delivered by the wives and lovers of such titans as Tolstoy, Lincoln, Freud, Yeats, Joyce, and (Dylan) Thomas, incisively protest patriarchal privilege and exploitation. Taut ekphrastic poems aptly probe the artistic struggles and transports of Kahlo, Schiele, Chagall, (Lucien) Freud, and others. And Stone also pays heartfelt tribute to literary f igures such as Vallejo, Crane, Akhmadulina and Ratushinskaya who encounter extremity."--Thomas Fin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CAROLE STONE Carole Stone is distinguished professor of English and creative writing, emerita, Montclair State University. Her poetry collections include LATE; HURT, THE SHADOW; AMERICAN RHAPSODY; and TRAVELING WITH THE DEAD. Critical essays on writers include Edna St. Vincent Millay, Sylvia Plath and George Eliot.

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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


RECOMMENDED READING

You Know You Want This. BY KRISTEN ROUPENIAN

www.scoutpressbooks.com/

Biter Ellie was a biter. She bit other kids in preschool, bit her cousins, bit her mom. By the time she was four years old, she was going to a special doctor twice a week to “work on” biting. At the doctor’s, Ellie made two dolls bite each other, and then the dolls talked about how biting and being bitten made them feel. (“Ouch,” one said. “Sorry,” said the other. “I feel sad about that,” said the one. “I feel happy,” said the other. “But . . . sorry again.”) She brainstormed lists of things she could do instead of biting, like raise her hand and ask for help, or take a deep breath and count to ten. At the doctor’s suggestion, Ellie’s parents put a chart on Ellie’s bedroom door, and Ellie’s mom put a gold star on it for every day Ellie didn’t bite. But Ellie loved biting, even more than she loved gold

stars, and she kept on biting, joyfully and fiercely, until one day, after preschool, pretty Katie Davis pointed at Ellie and whispered loudly to her dad: “That one’s Ellie. No one likes her. She bites people,” and Ellie felt so sick with shame she didn’t bite anyone again for more than twenty years. As an adult, though her active biting days were behind her, Ellie still indulged in daydreams in which she stalked her coworkers around the office, biting them. For example, she imagined sneaking into the copy room where Thomas Widdicomb was collating reports, so engrossed in his task that he didn’t notice Ellie creeping up behind him on all fours. Ellie, what on earth, Thomas Widdicomb would cry, in the final seconds before Ellie sunk her teeth into his plump and hairy calf.

succeeded in shaming Ellie out of biting, it couldn’t make her forget the joy of tiptoeing behind Robbie Kettrick while he was standing at the craft table, smugly stacking blocks. Everything is normal, quiet, boring, and then here comes Ellie—CHOMP! Now Robbie Kettrick is screaming like a baby and everybody is scrambling and yelling, and Ellie is no longer just a little girl but a wild creature pacing the halls of the preschool, sowing chaos and destruction in her wake. 

For while the world had

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ABOUT THE BOOK

You Know You Want This. You Know You Want This brilliantly explores the ways in which women are horrifying as much as it captures the horrors that are done to them. Among its pages are a couple who becomes obsessed with their f riend hearing them have sex, then seeing them have sex… until they can’t have sex without him; a ten-year-old whose birthday party takes a sinister turn when she wishes for “something mean”; a woman who f inds a book of spells half hidden at the library and summons her heart’s desire: a nameless, naked man; and a self-proclaimed “biter” who dreams of sneaking up behind and sinking her teeth into a green-eyed, long-haired, pink-cheeked coworker.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KRISTEN ROUPENIAN Kristen Roupenian is an American writer, most famous for "Cat Person," a New Yorker short story that went viral. She attended Barnard College before joining the Peace Corps and teaching public health and HIV education in Kenya. She completed her Ph.D. in English at Harvard in 2014, and her MFA at the University of Michigan in 2017.

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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


RECOMMENDED READING

Plastered in Pretty. BY N.C. MARKS

www.houseofnehesipublish.com

Chapter 20: There was no divorce as the plaintiff had failed to appear at court the following morning in January. The judge, who seemed awestruck by her beauty, said he was sorry about the loss of her beautiful home and noted that the authorities were investigating whether anyone had perished in the fire. However, the judge seemed more interested in expressing sentiments of his inability to fathom why her husband would wish to “dispose” of such a fine specimen as herself before wishing her a “happy” life. She grinned widely at “dispose,” but “happy” presented her with powerful perplexities. With tears lingering nearby, she wished she could explain to His Lordship that her marriage was the

happiest thing that had ever happened to her. Happy, the extremely elusive entity had failed her yet again because of Mr_im_man’s stupid superficiality surfacing so strongly over the simple state of her nude face. Stewps. The thought of the issue stirred swells of deep-seated anger within her every single time. She left the courtroom not feeling victorious in the least, … . Walking aimlessly through the streets of Kingstown, she was met with sympathetic stares and sad spoken sentiments from social media strangers. This only served to further sink her sullen mood. Deciding that Department X was too hazardous for her health at the very hour, she drove to Villa and had breakfast at Paradise Inn. It was while making her payment she discovered that

her debit and credit cards were all deficient of funds. “There has to be some mistake,” she chanted like a powerful mantra, while driving back to Kingstown to check at the bank. There was no mistake. There was no money. He had taken both his and HER money. Every single red cent. She had been played. So he was not fast asleep in the other bedroom of the burning house. The fucker was alive. 

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Plastered in Pretty. PLASTERED IN PRETTY is a dystopian tale. N.C. Marks activates, deactivates at will the Alice in Wonderland syndrome in a Caribbean paradise. Facebook and Instagram are virtual religious icons. A pyromaniac burns a new-born in the late night, off ice-bound civil servants chat only via WhatsApp, f riends with benef its, "Persons With Pedigree," flamboyant vagrants, a car accident victim in distress over her $1,000-hairpiece, a rapist landlord, a government minister's "mysterious snake," a church f irst lady protects her psychopathic son with hush money, and the willful but f ragile protagonist is not yet among this list of characters! Vivid, with a disturbing accuracy of social media posts, and often funny.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

N.C. MARKS N.C. Marks is a writer from St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Marks holds an MSc in Environmental Management from the University of London and teaches geography at the St. Vincent Girls' High School in her Caribbean homeland. Her previous publications are When Silence Speaks (2011) and Memoirs of a Teacher (2012). Marks's writings have appeared in The Daily Herald, repeatingislands.com, and Moko Caribbean Arts and Letters. 50

AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


RECOMMENDED READING

Resurrection Girls. BY AVA MORGYN

www.avamorgyn.com

Sometimes, I tell myself the story of my own life. When I wake at night, and the dawn shadows summon from beyond the horizon, I put myself back to sleep with these stories. There are a multitude of ways to render the story that is me. In some versions, Robby was never born. And the unborn cannot die. In these versions, we don’t miss his downy hair or lopsided smile. We never had a pool … or a boy. There is just me, my parents, and a stream of days in which we are infinitely content. In these versions, I am free to live the life I once imagined for myself. I go to college. I marry my first love. I make art. My life follows a well-established rhythm that has been laid out for it. I am normal, unmarked by tragedy. In other versions, Robby comes and goes. He blooms, ripens, and withers on the vine. He graduates. He dates.

He drives a car and says things like “No kidding?” and “good grief.” He grows, marries, and has his own children. He stands beside me at our parents’ funerals. He is unblemished. He is real. He is live. And I am much the same as before. I draw constantly. I read incessantly. I fall in love too easily. Still, I am normal. We are normal. I delight in being a we. I take it for granted. But my favorite stories are the ones where Robby toddles to the pool’s edge, and I am lying in the sun in my first bikini. I see him approach and feel the fine hairs along my arms rise in warning. I jump up and plunge into the water just as he topples over. I come up choking and gasping, Robby crying in my arms. I save the day. Not just the day—every day. I save the countless possible days that Robby would otherwise never know. I am not normal

in this story. I am better than normal. I am heroic. The story I am trapped in doesn’t end like these. It never crests, crescendos, peaks, and dips back down into a resolution we can settle happily into. Instead it slithers, bucks, and then slides along, dragging us with it. We are a snag in life. We live in its wake. Our rhythm is out of sync. Normal is a thing of the past, and I am the opposite of a hero. 

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Resurrection Girls. Olivia stopped living the day her brother died. Three years ago, Robby toddled into the backyard pool and drowned on her watch, taking the best parts of their mother and father with him. Now sixteen, Olivia can no longer remember what it feels like to really be alive, until a family of strange women move in across the street. Nothing about the Hallas women is normal, and Kara, the daughter who is Olivia's age, has a morbid fascination—writing letters to convicted killers and criminals for murderabilia, tokens of infamy that promise to fetch a collector's price online. But Olivia's family has secrets of their own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AVA MORGYN Ava Morgyn is a long-time avid reader and writer of young adult fiction. She studied English Writing & Rhetoric at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX, and now lives in Houston— city with the most rain, best food, and worst traffic—with her family. When she isn’t at her laptop spinning darkly hypnotic tales, she can be found making fairy houses, talking to her crystals and plants, hunting for delicious new vegan recipes, or bothering her dog. 52

AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


HOLD YOUR BREATH!

HIGH FLYING IS HERE! “

High Flying is a fast-paced, suspenseful, psychological thriller. Readers will find themselves with their hearts pounding while they read this!” - Paige Lovitt for Reader Views

www.kaylinmcfarren.com

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NEW TO SHELF UNBOUND!

Introducing Shelf Media Group's digital young adult community designed to connect readers with YA authors and books.

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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


Becoming Beatriz. BY TAMI CHARLES

“They say when you see a wishmaker flower, you’re supposed to make a wish and blow. I thrust my body to the ground, press my face to the pavement, and wish away the first gunshot and panicked faces and screaming voices circling around my ‘hood.”

In this standalone companion to Charles’ 2018 novel Like Vanessa, 15-year old dancer and member of the Latin Diablos gang Puerto Rican Beatriz Mendez contends with the loss of her brother Junito at the hands of a rival Haitian gang and the devastating effect on her family. Navigating her first year of high school and torn between her dream of dancing professionally and the growing demands of the drug empire she’s is expected to continue, Beatriz develops a friendship with new student Nasser, a fellow dancer who charms Beatriz against her better judgment and from whom she hides her Diabla identity. Set 1980s Newark, NJ., Beatriz is a devotee of Debbie Allen and Fame! and she looks to her idol for inspiration and guidance: “For me, no one but Debbie Allen exists. I swear she’s talking to me – her words punching me right to the chest, making me want to scream, Yes, I do have a dream … and this ain’t it!” Jumped in at twelve, Beatriz is no stranger to the realities of gang life and the novel’s opening scene – shots flying as she and her older brother dance at her quinceanera – immediately steeps the reader in the touchstones of Beatriz’s life: family, dance, and the Diablos. Charles is a master at creating a vibrant sense of place and imperfect and engaging characters that deeply resonate with readers regardless of their individual experience. Becoming Beatriz is a powerful celebration of community, choice, and the importance of representation that should not be missed.

WHAT TO READ IN YA FICTION BY SARA GROCHOWSKI

Young adult fiction continues to become one of the most popular genres – mostly for adults. Join us each issue to find your next YA read.

BECOMING BEATRIZ BY TAMI CHARLES

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G+B RECOMMENDED READ

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RECOMMENDED AS YOU R N EX T

YA R E A D

Becoming Beatriz. ABOUT THE BOOK:

Beatriz dreams of a life spent dancing--until tragedy on the day of her quinceaĂąera changes everything. Up until her fifteenth birthday, the most important thing in the world to Beatriz Mendez was her dream of becoming a professional dancer and getting herself and her family far from the gang life that defined their days--that and meeting her dance idol Debbie Allen on the set of her favorite TV show, Fame. But after the latest battle in a constant turf war leaves her brother, Junito, dead and her mother grieving, Beatriz has a new set of priorities. How is she supposed to feel the rhythm when her brother's gang needs running, when her mami can't brush her own teeth, and when the last thing she can remember of her old self is dancing with her brother, followed by running and gunshots? When the class brainiac reminds Beatriz of her love of the dance floor, her banished dreams sneak back in. Now the only question is: will the gang let her go? 56

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Moustache & Macintosh BY D.L. GRASER

The night was calm as we floated across the ocean. “Land's not too far away,” I heard the captain tell Short Leg Louie after dinner. I had not heard anymore cries from the princess in the last couple of nights. I wondered why. I just have a gut feeling that tonight is the night I take her off this ship with me. I have to leave because Short Leg Louie said he will make sure there are no witnesses and I am the only witness aboard this vessel. www.pagepublishing.com Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Term Limits

BY PAUL HOLBERT

The political atmosphere in America is poisoned with acrimony and partisan bickering. People are sick of the ineptitude and dishonesty of their elected representatives and a cry for change echoes from every corner of the land. The problem is no one knows how to affect the revolution so many constituents desire, until one-person steps forward and begins a personal campaign to recall the sitting members of Congress. However, it is not a political, but a lethal form of removal he has in mind. Follow the selfappointed patriot bent on exacting his own form of term limits and the suspense that ensues as our elected representatives finally realize one American has had enough. The twists and turns of the case stunt investigators trying to catch him before he vacates another seat in congress through lethal means. www.theliteraryvet.net Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 58

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Runaway Husbands: The Abandoned Wife's Guide to Recovery and Renewal BY VIKKI STARK

Imagine you're a happily married woman in a secure long-term relationship. Now imagine that one day, out-ofthe-blue, your husband says, “It’s over and I’m moving out right now!” This nightmare scenario is called Wife Abandonment Syndrome and it affects women all over the world. Written by family therapist Vikki Stark who experienced it herself, Runaway Husbands provides explanations of why a man morphs from a loving husband to an angry stranger and strategies for rebuilding your life. www.RunawayHusbands.com

Blood Master Book 1 of The G.O.D.s Series BY KIRSTEN CAMPBELL

It’s 2052 and Earth has lost two thirds of its population to the Great War. Many more lives were lost to earthquakes, the Clover Virus, and the Death Plague. Years later, survivors were clumped into factions. Two of the factions, the Guild and the Brotherhood, have fought over medical supplies and food for years. The fight is coming to a head as manpower dwindles and the struggle becomes one to gain numbers, even if said numbers are children… Griffin is the only survivor of the Guild’s deadly experiments and they hunt for him because his survival will have dynamic consequences on the world. Will he save the children of the Underground from their tragic life? Only time will tell… www.kcampbell-gods.com Available on Amazon


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Two Tickets to Dubrovnik BY ANGUS KENNEDY

A View From The Languedoc BY ANGUS KENNEDY

Australian wine writer, Andrew Johnston, goes to Dubrovnik to prepare an article for his editor on the wines and wineries of southern Rhône. He meets up with an old Bordelaise wine making acquaintance, Lucien Delasalles, and his step-sister, Niki Menčetić. He becomes embroiled in the murky affairs of Niki and her family and the local police, which leads to his sad departure from the ancient city.

Australian wine writer, Andrew Johnston, is again staying in Europe, this time with his brother, Adrian, for both work and a holiday. During an extensive new wine project from his publisher, he meets up again with a number of his old acquaintances from both France and Dubrovnik, including Niki Menčetić. Whether he can resolve his difficulties with Niki’s life is uncertain.

www.anguskennedybooks.com Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.

www.anguskennedybooks.com Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.

To The East

The Final Programme

The book gives a composite picture of what heaven is like based on the eyewitness testimony of nineteen separate accounts. As a result it gives a more complete picture than any other single book does. All of Scripture’s testimony about heaven is confirmed and many more details God never revealed in His Word. Many readers say it’s a great blessing and have bought extra copies to give away.

In this final novel of the Out of Solitude tetralogy, Australian wine writer, Andrew Johnston, is comatose in a hospital in Sydney, Australia after the events of Međjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His Croatian lover, Niki Menčetić, believes him gone, the victim of a cruel deception by Andrew’s brother, Adrian, and has returned to Dubrovnik. Andrew now has to try to re-establish the rest of his life.

www.anguskennedybooks.com Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.

www.anguskennedybooks.com Available at Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.

BY ANGUS KENNEDY

BY ANGUS KENNEDY

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Undermining the U.S. Constitution

ARRANGEMENT IN BLACK AND WHITE

BY DIANE VANN

BY FRED MISURELLA

As a nurse I have been in situations where patients learned very bad news about the state of their health, news that was not received well by them, their families, or even their medical team. When preparing this book, my feelings were much the same as when I was in those situations.

She's white; he's black. But their conflicts are more than racial. Margy is from Iowa , the product of an abusive mother and a neglectful father. Everet's from Connecticut, a civil rights lawyer on the rise, and their lives take a tense turn when he decides to run for political office just as Margy moves forward in her own career as an artist. Arrangement in Black and White captures the conflicts that give interest to meaningful love stories, yet with an eye toward women's independence, interracial politics, and the difficulty of balancing romance with social, public life.

The bad news about the health of our nation is, like cancer in a patient's body, communism (also known as "Marxism") has grown in the United States. Like cancer, it started with an unnoticed seed and grew insidiously with little sign or symptom. Now like cancer, communism is on the brink of overwhelming us. Available at Amazon.

Feast of Fates

Available at Amazon or www.fredmisurella.com

A SUMMER OF GOOD-BYES

BY CHRISTIAN A. BROWN

BY FRED MISURELLA

Morigan lives a quiet life as the handmaiden to a fatherly old sorcerer named Thackery. But when she crosses paths with Caenith, a not wholly mortal man, her world changes forever. Their meeting sparks long buried magical powers deep within Morigan. As she attempts to understand her newfound abilities, unbidden visions begin to plague her—visions that show a devastating madness descending on one of the Immortal Kings who rules the land.

Passion in Provence: Ben and Lee Alto follow Van Gogh's 19th century path to Provence, hoping to find inspiration for their own lives and give their adopted son, Misha, insight into a world completely different from their own. They find art, of course, and a world of beautiful landscapes, warm temperatures, and, yes, wonderful food. But they also find a ghost from the past, and it's not Vincent Van Gogh, but a woman Ben once loved and a man, Zach, a well-known jazz musician, who teaches them hard lessons about art and life, as well as the art of life. A Summer of Good-Byes is a vital, romantic story, filled with the tensions of love and marriage, sexual longing and family loyalty, and the struggle to live in the face of impending death and loss.

www.christianadrianbrown.com Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 60

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Available at Amazon or www.fredmisurella.com.


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Fierce Female. ROUNDUP OF FIERCE FEMALE AUTHORS WHO TALK ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO BE TRULY FIERCE

What does it mean to be a fierce female? We asked various women authors to tell us what it means to truly be a fierce female. Author roundup featuring Karen Connelly, Susan Welch, Danielle Wong, Joan Dempsey, Jo Giese, and Beverly Engel.

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KAREN CONNELLY AUTHOR OF THE CHANGE ROOM

In my last novel, I wanted to smash up many of our conceptions of womanhood, motherhood and sexuality. I also wanted to embrace transgressive sex and sexualities without killing a single woman or child, which is usually the literary price exacted from female characters who transgress sexual norms, from Anna Karenina to Hausfrau to The Girl on the Train. Thus my main characters, Eliza and Shar, though very different, are both fierce females. The first requirement of a fierce female, for me, is the kind of complexity and nuanced feeling that is increasingly eschewed in our world. Simplistic this-is-good/that-is-bad thinking dominates our culture at a time when our world has never been more complicated. To be fierce, in these times, means to be brave and forthright, yes. And it also means to be tender in and with a broken world. That is what my characters attempt to do, imperfectly. Eliza is white and middle-class with roots in poverty, which she has worked hard to escape.

She is a small business owner, an ex-chef, a mother, a loving wife who is nevertheless weary of her not-very-sexy marriage. She knows how privileged and blessed she is. Yet, perversely, she wants more. Not more money or a bigger house, but more life, more feeling, and much more sex. Into her busy, whirling world walks a tall, dark handsome stranger. With gorgeous breasts and a shaved pussy. They meet in the change room of the local pool and the sexual sparks fly. The novel is a celebratory exploration of their affair. Unsurprisingly, no American publisher would publish The Change Room. The explicit sex between the women was repeatedly called out as ‘too much.’ That’s a sure-fire definition of a fierce female: she is considered “too much.” Tall, dark, handsome Shar is mixed-race and middle-class, too, in some ways, but she is also an immigrant, a sex-worker, a citizen of the world by explicit choice. She is Middle Eastern, European, North American; she is an intellectual, a polyglot, a singular and single woman who is dedicated to her own freedom and (more shockingly) to her own pleasure and the pleasure of others. She is also the survivor of a truly horrific act of sexual violence, but she is private about that part of her past, which she considers healed. She is about to step out of sex work into a related field, that of sex therapy and psychotherapy. Shar resembles a number of

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women I’ve known personally over the years. They rarely make it into literary novels because they are too fierce, too complex. It’s hard to believe they exist, these women, who’ve eschewed every traditional role of womanhood that we know. They are dazzling, and I’ve fallen in love and/or lust with several of them. The Change Room is my homage to their beauty and their courage.

THE CHANGE ROOM Eliza Keenan is the mother of two young sons, the owner of a flower studio that caters to the city's elite, and the loving wife of a deliciously rumpled math professor named Andrew. She's on the move from dawn until her boys are in bed, and after they're asleep she cleans her house. Her one complaint about her life is that the only time she has for herself is her twice-weekly swim in the local community centre pool, where sunlight shines in through a tall window and lights up the water in a way that reminds her of the year she spent as a footloose youth on an island in Greece. Then one morning into this life that is full of satisfactions of all kinds except sexual (because who has the time or the energy once the kids are asleep?) comes a tall, dark and lovely stranger, a young woman Eliza encounters at the pool and nicknames 'the Amazon.' The sight of this woman, naked in the change room, completely undoes Eliza, and soon the two of them are entangled in an affair that breaks all the rules, and threatens to capsize not only Eliza and her happy family, but her lover's world, too. And yet the sex is so all-encompassing, so intimate, so true...how can it be bad?

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Susan Welch AUTHOR OF A THREAD SO FINE

I’m forever grateful that through research, I discovered Frances Perkins, who became a pivotal secondary character in my novel, A Thread So Fine. I had been looking for a real life ‘fierce female of the 1940’s’ to serve as a role model to one of my protagonists who, under duress, leaves the safety of her family and Midwest home-town in 1948 for Cornell University. When I somehow landed on Frances Perkins, I was suddenly like a happy squirrel chasing a runaway acorn down a very long hole. I had found not only my character's role model, but my own. When Perkins was 31 years old, she unexpectedly witnessed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City which killed 146 garment workers, mostly immigrant women as young as 14. Outraged by the squalid sweatshop conditions that lead to the horrific fire, Frances committed her life to industrial


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reform and social justice work. Balancing marriage, motherhood and her husband’s mental health crises, she played a critical role in establishing what we now consider to be essential parts of our societal safety net-Social Security, unemployment insurance and child labor laws among many other reforms.

New Deal legislation-- are far too buried in our national lore.

Her accomplishments as an activist and as a civil servant over nearly six decades opened my eyes to a type of fierce female that existed in midcentury America with many first and second wave feminists, although Frances outlasted them all.

My question is, ‘why did it take me so long to find her?!’

She saw her own and other people’s outrage as an opportunity to bring about change – and she worked tirelessly, optimistically, fiercely to forge it. She did so by finding allies, defining common objectives and by using whatever means available to create consensus. She was the first (and longest running) woman to serve in a presidential cabinet, as FDR’s Secretary of Labor. Her views were not always popular –in one case, the House Un-American Activities Committee tried to impeach her when she refused to deport Harry Bridges, the head of the west coast longshore union. The case was eventually dropped for lack of evidence. Her remarkable tenacity in bringing together politicians, the labor movement and manufacturers (mostly men who often disparaged her in ways we’d now consider ‘micro-aggressive’ or plain sexist) to introduce

Frances Perkins was surely fierce. She operated in a man's world with dogged determination to fix social injustices through consensus that has stood the test of time.

A THREAD SO FINE Can love for a secret child heal old wounds? St. Paul, Minnesota, 1946: Introspective Shannon Malone and her more popular sister Eliza are Irish twins and best friends. As little girls, they relied on each other for companionship and affection as their mother remained distant, beating back the demons of her own mysterious childhood. As womanhood approaches, both look forward to promising--though different--futures. But when tragedy rocks the Malone family to the core, secrets bloom and one sister leaves, possibly forever. The other, physically and emotionally scarred, vows to hold the invisible thread that runs deeply between them. In the course of her journey, she encounters a child with a hidden past and discovers the true meaning of family. But is it enough to bring her sister home?

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DANIELLE WONG AUTHOR OF SWEARING OFF STARS

Now, more than ever, being a fierce female is an undeniable asset. Women have possessed and harnessed inner strength since the beginning of time, but there’s been a fundamental shift in the perception of female fierceness. As we continue to ditch archaic tropes of strong women as bossy and controlling, we embrace the reality that fierce females are empowered females. Being fierce means voicing our opinions, even (and especially) if they challenge the status quo. It means being strong when things seem dismal, and asking for help when we need it. Being fierce means knowing our own worth— standing up for ourselves and brazenly empowering others to do the same. It also means unapologetically pursuing our dreams and following our hearts. I explore these ideas in my novel, Swearing Off Stars. The story— set in the 1920s—follows Lia, an American student, and Scarlett, a British gender-equality activist. The young women meet at Oxford

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and eventually fall in love, initially choosing to keep their taboo relationship a secret. Amidst strict societal standards and political uprising, Lia and Scarlett face adversity in multiple forms. Ultimately, they realize that loving each other fiercely and fully—despite the world’s judgment—is the only way to live authentically. I’m proud to be a fierce female, and I’m in brilliant company. It's amazing to see so many women courageously speaking up and taking action. We want equal rights, not just for ourselves, but for every marginalized group. We are fiercely fighting for what’s right— locally, nationally, and even globally. Here’s to fierce females everywhere, and to the brighter future that we’re shaping together. SWEARING OFF STARS Amelia Cole―Lia for short―is one of the first women studying abroad at Oxford University in the 1920s. Finally free from her overbearing Brooklyn parents, she finds a welcome sense of independence in British college life. Lia quickly falls for Scarlett Daniels, an aspiring actress and hardheaded protester. Scarlett introduces her to an exciting genderequality movement with high stakes. But when their secret love clashes with political uprising, their relationship is one of the casualties. Years later, Lia’s only memories of Scarlett are obscured by the glossy billboards she sees advertising the actress’s new films. But when a mysterious letter surfaces, she is immediately thrown back into their unsettled romance. Lia’s travels span oceans and continents in her search for Scarlett. Spread across time and place, their story is one of desire, adventure, and ultimately, devotion. Lia will stop at nothing to win Scarlett back, but she soon realizes that uncovering lost love might not be attainable after all.


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JOAN DEMPSEY AUTHOR OF THIS IS HOW IT BEGINS

You want fierce? I’ll tell you who’s fierce: my 85 yearold character, Ludka. Seriously, I was trying to write a novel about her son, and Ludka kept muscling her way into every scene. I kept pushing her out. She kept coming back. When I finally acquiesced and let her in, she took over the entire story, and thank goodness for that! This Is How It Begins is the happy result. Like Ludka, I believe that being a fierce female is all about perseverance. Let nothing stop you from telling your stories, fulfilling your highest potential and living out your most fervent dreams.

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This is your one life. Live it with furious intensity.

THIS IS HOW IT BEGINS In 2009, eighty-five-yearold art professor Ludka Zeilonka gets drawn into a political firestorm when her grandson, Tommy, is among a group of gay Massachusetts teachers fired for allegedly discriminating against Christian kids in high school classrooms. The ensuing battle to reinstate the teachers raises the specter of Ludka's World War II past―a past she's spent a lifetime trying to forget. The firings are the brainchild of Warren Meck, a deeply religious local radio host and father of three who is hoping to pass a religious freedom bill in Massachusetts. Meck favors achieving his goals through careful planning and legislation and is disturbed when violence erupts. His concern quickly turns to alarm when he realizes those within his inner circle might be inciting the violence.

As Ludka's esteemed political family defends Tommy under increasingly vicious conditions, a stranger with connections to Ludka's past shows up and threatens to expose her for illegally hoarding a valuable painting presumed stolen by the Nazis. Only one other person knew about the painting―a man she's been trying to find for sixty years. Compulsively readable, This Is How It Begins is a timely novel about free speech, religious freedom, the importance of empathy and the bitter consequences of long-buried secrets.

Don’t wait for an invitation; invite yourself. If that doesn’t work, push your way past every obstacle. Don’t be afraid to bare your teeth and brandish your claws.

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JO GIESE AUTHOR OF NEVER SIT IF YOU CAN DANCE: LESSONS FROM MY MOTHER

Never Sit If You Can Dance: Lessons from My Mother is a motherdaughter memoir, but a positive one. My mom was named Gladys but she didn't like that name and since she was the baby in the family, she asked that we call her Babe, and it suited her. She was some Babe. She drank, danced, and stayed up very late. She favored colorful clothes, liked giving parties, adored her husband, and told her daughter, "Never sit if you can dance!" She was fierce about making the best of it even in the worst of times--like when Hurricane Carla with 175 mph winds was projected to hit Houston back in the 60s, or when her husband got a job repairing the turbines at the Canyon Ferry Dam outside of Helena, Montana, and the only place the family could live was in a dirty, deserted shack, or when she was 95 and blossomed in a senior living community in Houston.

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My book launched in time for Mothers Day this year and instantly became a Amazon best seller. Also, just this morning I learned that the San Francisco Book Review will give my book 5 stars tomorrow, and the reviewer said: This may be one of my favorite books of the year. I couldn't have said it better.

NEVER SIT IF YOU CAN DANCE: LESSONS FROM MY MOTHER Jo’s mother, Babe, liked to drink, dance, and stay up very late. When the husband she adored went on sales calls, she waited for him in the parking lot, embroidering pillowcases. Jo grew up thinking that the last thing she wanted was to be like her mother. Then it dawned on her that her own happiness was derived in large part from lessons Babe had taught her. Her mother might have had tomato aspic and stewed rhubarb in her fridge, while Jo had organic kale and almond milk in hers, but in more important ways they were much closer in spirit than Jo had once thought.


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BEVERLY ENGEL AUTHOR OF I’M SAYING NO! STANDING UP AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT, SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND SEXUAL PRESSURE

Fierce women stand up for themselves and they stand tall… especially when it comes to sexual assault, harassment, and sexual pressure. Fierce women say “No!” loudly and clearly to anyone who tries to impose their will on them or tries to coerce them or force them to do anything they do not want to do. Fierce women have come to appreciate, love, and respect their precious body, and are determined to never allow anyone to violate it. Fierce women express their righteous rage at the mistreatment of women. Fierce women feel emboldened to reach out to help other women and girls to become more empowered. Fierce women pass on what you have learned to the next generation. They become positive role models of strength, self-worth, and courage for every young girl they know. Fierce women look for opportunities to pass along hope and support to the next wave of women who will be victimized. Fierce women teach their daughters that they have a right to stand up for themselves and say “No!” to unwanted touches and sexual

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approaches. They teach them to honor and respect their bodies and to never do anything just to go along with the crowd or try to keep a boyfriend. Fierce women teach their daughters to have compassion for their own suffering—to understand that they don’t need to pretend that something doesn’t bother them when it does and that by acknowledging that something is hurtful, embarrassing, or damaging, they will actually strengthen their resolve to not allow it to happen again. Fierce women teach their daughters to respect other girls instead of seeing them as rivals. Fierce women are positive role models of a strong woman who doesn’t allow men to dominate, take advantage of, or abuse her. Fierce women are warriors who show the world that they a force to be reckoned with—a force that cannot be broken or beaten or disappeared. I'M SAYING NO!: STANDING UP AGAINST SEXUAL ASSAULT, SEXUAL HARASSMENT, AND SEXUAL PRESSURE In spite of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, many women are still afraid to say no to unwanted sexual advances and reluctant to report sexual violations. Far too many college students are being raped and are afraid to report it. Women are subjected to sexual harassment, sexual bullying, and sexual pressure every day on the street, at work, and at home but are unable to speak truth to power or to report these sexual offenses. I’m Saying No! is written specifically for these women— women who are still afraid to speak up for themselves, women who need to learn how to do so, and women whose personal history of child sexual abuse or sexual assault as an adult has wounded them so much that they have lost their voice. 69


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FEATURED INDIE BOOKSTORE

Twenty Stories Founded by writers Alexa Trembly and Emory Harkins, Twenty Stories mobilizes the literary arts. Twenty Stories is an independent mobile bookstore operated out of a renovated 1987 vintage van. Each month the two owners, Alexa Trembly and Emory Harkins, curate twenty new book titles in the genres of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, as well as literary and cultural magazines. The book selection values innovative and emerging writers and presses, as well as established authors in the literary community. The teal bookmobile pops-up in a new location five days a week and can be located with their online schedule, updated weekly, on their website and social media platforms. The bookshop was established in 2017 in Los Angeles, California and since then has made its way across the country to its new home in Providence, Rhode Island. Alexa www.twentystoriesla.com

and Emory's goal is to showcase literature in new spaces. They plan to simplify the book-buying experience by curating a top-tier selection and can't wait for you to find your next favorite read! The idea for Twenty Stories came a year after they moved to Los Angeles. Inspired by the LA culture of food trucks and its sprawling streets, they quickly realized they wanted to create a new space for writers and readers that mobilizes the literary arts.

Photography by Alexandra DeFurio 71


FEATURE INTERVIEW

Bookstore Romance Day. BY SARA GROCHOWSKI

04 INTERVIEW WITH BILLIE BLOEBAUM, FOUNDER OF BOOKSTORE ROMANCE DAY

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August 17, 2019 marks the first Bookstore Romance Day, a grassroots celebration of the Romance genre by over 100 bookstores across the United States. Billie Bloebaum, the founder and “Evil Mastermind” behind the movement, sat down with Shelf Unbound to discuss her career in bookselling, misconceptions about Romance genre, and increasing the visibility of independent bookstores that respect and embrace the Romance genre and its dedicated readership.

What was your path to a career in bookselling? BB: Modified nepotism. I got a job working in the publisher returns department for a large independent bookstore in part because my dad had worked in the same department and was, at the time I started, managing one of the company’s multiple locations. That was 1994. I stayed there until I moved to New Orleans in 1999. When I moved back to Portland in 2001, I went back to work for the same company and only left in 2014 because they drastically downsized the location I was working at. I never meant to make bookselling a career, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else. When did you become a romance reader? BB: I was raised on a steady diet of Disney movies and fairy tales, so the Happily Ever After has been part of my reading self for ages and ages. My first dive into Romance as a genre was in my late teens (so, the late 80s) and it started because my friends and I would pick them up at the corner store to find the most outrageous euphemisms (velvet flute, anyone?). It didn’t take long to realize that I

found something supremely comforting and hopeful in the stories and I added them to my regular reading rotation. Are there certain authors or titles that you feel define you as a romance reader? BB: The books that will give maybe the most-rounded idea of what I look for in the genre would be Johanna Lindsey’s The Silver Angel which is problematic as hell from a contemporary standpoint, but was an early favorite and still holds a sentimental place in my heart. Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise because it’s the first Romance I read with a curvy heroine and the first with a couple who made a choice to be child-free. A Notorious Countess Confesses by Julie Anne Long because it’s what I call a “longing” book—it’s all well-crafted simmering build-up and when the hero and heroine finally give in to their feelings, it’s explosive. That kind of long, slow, building sexual tension is really hard to do and it’s one of my favorite “book feels,” so I want to celebrate when it’s done as well as it is here. Temptations of a Wallflower by Eva Leigh because it’s the book that I recommend to anyone who claims to not understand the appeal of the genre. The heroine, Sarah, has a secret career as the writer of “racy” novels and there’s a passage where she’s explaining to the hero why she does what she does, why it’s so important to her and her readers and very neatly knocks down nearly every objection the uninformed have to the Romance genre.

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FEATURE INTERVIEW

What do you feel are the most common misconceptions about romance? BB: That it’s formulaic. Yes, there needs to be a Happily Ever After (or Happy For Now), but there’s a lot of variation in what that looks like and how the characters get there. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels are far more formulaic than Romance, but you rarely, if ever, hear this criticism levelled against them. (Or against Mystery fiction or Adventure novels or Thrillers, all of which have their own formulas that have become formulas because they work.) That it’s “lady porn.” Yes, there are some spicy offerings, but there are also Romance novels where the hero and heroine don’t even kiss until the very last page, and even then it’s a fairly chaste endeavor. That it’s easy to write, which is the one that I really, really don’t get. Because the same people who claim that Romance is easy to write never actually do so themselves. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry, so if it’s so easy to write a Romance novel, why isn’t every author claiming a piece of that pie for themselves? The truth is, it’s easy to write almost any kind of book. It is not easy to write any of them well. Which recent or upcoming romance reads should be on our tobe read stacks? BB: Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, Ayesha at Last by

Uzma Jalaluddin, Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore, Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan, Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean What spurred the creation of Bookstore Romance Day? BB: The groundwork was laid with the creation of a Facebook group in 2018 that was (and is) a place for independent booksellers to talk to each other about the Romance genre. The final spark for Bookstore Romance Day, though, was a Romance author on Twitter singing some version of the “Independent bookstores don’t support Romance, why should I support independent bookstores?” refrain, which spurred discussion in our FB group. It basically came down to us realizing, as a group, that we needed to be more visible and vocal and how do we do that? I was sort of joking when I suggested that we create a day to celebrate Romance in independent bookstores, and the idea


somehow gained traction and here we are. What is your goal for this inaugural year? BB: The metaphor I employ most often is a group of kids saying “Hey, let’s put on a show,” intending to do something simple in the backyard and finding themselves Off Broadway. I was hoping for maybe fifty bookstores participating and we have well over 100 at this point. Our resources are limited, so it’s really a grass roots, organic sort of thing this year. The base goal, though, is and always has been to celebrate the relationship between independent bookstores and Romance authors and readers and to create more of those relationships. Where do you hope for the project to be one year from now? BB: I honestly don’t know. I love what Independent Bookstore Day does and look to that event for inspiration. I would love to be able to offer t-shirts and tote bags that stores could sell. I have some ideas for merchandise that stores could offer—maybe year ‘round—alongside their Romance fiction. We’d love to have an Ambassador to be the public face of Bookstore Romance Day and help us spread our message. I want Bookstore Romance Day to be more than a oncea-year thing, though. I want the organization (such as it is) to be about advocating for the genre to independent bookstores. To that end, I’d love to have representatives at the regional Trade Shows this fall. I’d love to have representatives at Winter Institute and BookExpo and the RWA National Conference. Ultimately, I want to finally kill the idea that Romance is somehow beneath the dignity of independent bookstores and (pie in the sky time) to ensure that no reader ever again feels dismissed or looked down upon by an independent bookseller when they go in looking for Romance. How can authors, bookstores, and readers get involved with Bookstore Romance Day? BB: It’s not too late for bookstores to sign up to be a participating bookstore this year. You can sign up here. We always appreciate people following us on social media, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and liking and sharing our stuff. Shout us out to all your Romance-loving friends and family. If your favorite bookstore isn’t signed up, encourage them to do so. Support those bookstores who are participating, not just on August 17th, but all year ‘round.

If they really, really want to help, we have a GoFundMe and a Zazzle shop full of tees and totes and drinking vessels, the sales of which also funnel a little money into our coffers. And if we’re going to keep going past August 17th, we could always use more volunteers. Interested parties can e-mail info@bookstoreromanceday.org. 

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REVIEW: PRETTY IN PUNXSUTAWNEY BY MEGAN LORD

Author: Laurie Boyle Crompton

BOOK MOM A little bit of everything from a scatter-brained, book-loving Mom.

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST

I am the mother of an adventurous and exhausting but amazing toddler boy that runs my life. I spend a ridiculous amount of time reading mind numbing children’s books over and over again because he has his select favorites… But when I do get time to read (or listen) I love reading and listening to a variety of genres. I get the most time to indulge in books of my choice during what I like to call “wind-down baths” once a week.

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Groundhog Day meets Breakfast Club meets Pretty in Pink meets Freaky Friday – like WOAH!

This book thoroughly surprised me. I started reading it thinking eh, it’ll be cheesy, but cute, I’ll give it a go. It came through on my expectations, but also was surprisingly GOOD, and addicting. I kept having to know how Andie would navigate the next repeat day and how she would break the spell or curse or recurrent dream or whatever was happening to cause the same day over and over again. The ending of the love triangle was pretty predictable – especially if you’ve watched ANY cliché 80s romantic flics. But you still can’t help yourself to eagerly wait it out. It’s impossible not to get emotionally invested in Andie’s life and feel connected and in tune with her throughout the book. It’s also impossible not to compare Punxsutawney to what was your high school setting and your personal experiences – and fully comprehend every high school experience is more or less the same. As Andie works to tear down social barriers, you can’t help but to look at the social barriers that surrounded your high school days and continue to effect life in general – and you wish to tear them all down as well! This author gives you a good look into all the social cliques, the stereotypes, and the actual reality that regardless of appearances, we’re all just trying to navigate the same type of hardships and day to


days as everyone else. Everyone is so wrapped up in judging those they assume are judging them that it becomes an endless cycle. This book also reminds you a bit of the Butterfly Effect – you go back and change one thing; you change EVERYTHING following that. I’ve thought about that concept quite a bit and it’s a really hard one – you think you’d go back and do something differently, but would you be willing to give up your current life to change one part of your past? Because one different decision could lead you somewhere totally different and your today wouldn’t exist as it does. Now that I have an awesome son, I know I could not change a single part of my life or change a decision no matter how bad or stupid it seemed at the time if it would potentially take this current reality away. What about you? Would you go back and choose a different adventure in your choose your own adventure life not knowing what the new story might be? If you like 80s movies, you were intrigued by the concept of Groundhog Day, and you like the cliché love triangles often found in YA novels – give this book a read. You’ll be surprisingly addicted and reflect on your own life more than you think. 

ABOUT

THE BOOK Pretty in Punxsutawney: • Addresses topical issues of self-discovery, navigating cliques, and ignoring stereotypes • Is an homage to beloved 80s movies, such as John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Pretty in Pink • Is the perfect gift for birthdays and high school or college graduation • Will captivate young adult readers of all ages with its universal coming-of-age themes about struggling to fit in, navigating the tough high school years, first kisses, and first crushes.

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A Nation of Strong Women. BY CHRISTIAN ADRIAN BROWN

FIT LIT Body, Mind and Quill

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST

Quadragenarian fitness model, lifestyle coach and bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Feast of Fates, Christian A. Brown received a Kirkus star in 2014 for the first novel in his genrechanging Four Feasts till Darkness series. He has appeared on Newstalk 1010, AM640, Daytime Rogers, and Get Bold Today with LeGrande Green. He actively writes and speaks about his mother’s journey with cancer and on gender issues in the media.

September 25 marks the annual National Women’s Health and Fitness Day. Some might wonder why such a day is needed or necessary, and the answer is simple: women are generally not encouraged to participate in group sport or activity. Women’s soccer, while growing in audience interest, especially after this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, brings in a fraction of the viewership and revenue of its male counterpart. Almost universally, young women are still guided into sympathetic disciplines instead of full-contact sports. Whereas for young men—as I once was—sport is simply a part of your rearing. As a child and then youth I dabbled in swimming, lacrosse, soccer, hockey, and tennis before finally settling on athletics and weightlifting. While sociologists may argue back and forth that this is due to biological imperatives, social constructs, or hierarchal programming, I think I took to sport because there was an aspect to discipline and/or group activity that I found enlightening and wholesome. And that’s not a lesson exclusive to the male identity, nor should it be. Which is why events like the National Women’s Health and Fitness Day are so important: to provide women with the same choice and arena for healthy competition with their own bodies and against others. More important, though, is keeping those doors and

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opportunities open once the day has come and gone. What are your goals beyond Women’s National Fitness Day? And this isn’t a question you should only ask yourself if you identify as female. This is a question that supersedes identity. How will you encourage your mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends to take up the mantle of health and wellness? Well, in my opinion, the easiest way to influence others has been, and will continue to be, leading by example. We are highly adaptive creatures who respond and change to social cues and suggestions. Therefore, if you want a nation of Wonder Women (the reboot, not the cringey seventies version), then be that Wonder Woman—or Wonder Man, or Wonder Folk—and help train a nation of warriors through your role-

modeling. Push women into activity. I was pushed into sports, many of which I didn’t like, although via a process of elimination I soon learned what I did fancy. Show women that they are strong. Show them that weightlifting can be more than five-pound curls and Jane Fonda butterfly thigh contractions. I often go through this particular roadblock in my work as a lifestyle coach: the self-perception that women should lift very light weights because they are slighter and frailer and don’t want to bulk up. This is a gross misinterpretation of how the body works, since a woman won’t turn into a muscle god without a tremendous amount of calories and most likely hormonal injections. A woman can be strong, can lift strong, can treat her body in many ways no different to a man’s—to a human’s—and that is the capacity and goal to which we should have women achieve. Perhaps one day we’ll just be celebrating National Health and Fitness Day—nonbinary and without qualification. But we’re not there yet. Until we are, show your support and your leadership and encourage the women in your life to conquer life’s obstacles with the sheer determination of their bodies and wills. —C 

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ABOUT

THE BOOK

Scheming immortal kings and antediluvian horrors meet their match in a handmaiden. ABOUT HIS BOOK:

Morigan lives a quiet life as the handmaiden to a fatherly old sorcerer named Thackery. But when she crosses paths with Caenith, a not wholly mortal man, her world changes forever. Their meeting sparks long buried magical powers deep within Morigan. As she attempts to understand her newfound abilities, unbidden visions begin to plague her—visions that show a devastating madness descending on one of the Immortal Kings who rules the land. With Morigan growing more powerful each day, the leaders of the realm soon realize that this young woman could hold the key to their destruction. Suddenly, Morigan finds herself beset by enemies, and she must master her mysterious gifts if she is to survive. www.christianadrianbrown.com

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BOOK REVIEW

Queenie Queenie's world falling is falling apart. She is at her wits end. Messing up at work. Messing up with her boyfriend. Messing up with her friends; her parents. Dispite it all she finds a way to put her life back together. Queenie teaches readers to navigate whats seems impossible. To find the strength they need to power through tough situations when everything seems to being going wrong. From dealing with anxiety to difficult family, Queenie teaches us to let go of the things and the people whose presence in your life is more harm than good.

NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2019 BY WOMAN’S DAY, NEWSDAY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, BUSTLE, AND BOOK RIOT! Queenie Jenkins is a 25-yearold Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying

QUEENIE BY CANDICE CARTYWILLIAMS

brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Candice Carty-Williams was born in 1989, the result of an affair between a Jamaican cab driver who barely speaks and a Jamaican-Indian dyslexic receptionist who speaks more than anyone else in the world. She studied Media at Sussex because her sixth form teachers said that she wasn’t clever enough to do English, but she showed them all by first working at the Guardian Guide and then moving into publishing at 23.

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NEW TO SHELF UNBOUND!

Introducing Shelf Media Group's digital young adult community designed to connect readers with YA authors and books.

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WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT GIRL + BOOK

“2015 Best YA Blogs And Book Reviewers” - URBAN EPICS, 2015 BLOGGER AWARDS

“2016 Top 100 Book Review Blogs For Book Readers and Authors” - FEEDSPOT

“The awesome Girl+Book YA book review blog.....I smiled to see Blue Karma recommended for "tom-boys, tree climbers, adventure seekers, and backyard-campers" because I have answered (or still do) to all of these descriptions....The Girl+Book blog continues to make my day.” - J.K. ULLRICH, AUTHOR OF BLUE KARMA

“I Just Read Girl Plus Book’s Review Of Revelation, And It Made My Night!” - ELLERY KANE, AUTHOR OF LEGACY SERIES

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BOOK REVIEW

Here Comes Mrs. Kugelman Historical fiction fans are sure to love Here Comes Mrs.

- an incomplete fish service in a battered brown suitcase -

Kugelman.

she decides to break her rigid

Set just before the start of WWII,

person. But before she is even

Here Comes Mrs. Kugelman tells a story of both historically known events as well as everyday happenings through the eyes of

routine and go collect it in able to settle into her hotel room, an odd old woman bangs on her door and invites herself in. Her name is Bella Kugelman, and she

Mrs. Kugelman.

is determined to talk.

Here Comes Mrs. Kugelman is

And talk she does, with

an unusual presentation of the Holocaust. Pradelski beautifully depicts a telling of Poland pre and post war, bringing life to places and persons through the

wondrous effect. Soon the room is filled with people―residents of the Polish town of Bedzin before the war, who now live on, if only in Mrs. Kugelman's

stories she tells.

stories. Flirtatious girls and sly

When feisty young Tsippy

and a family so poor that their

Silberberg of the curious eating habits receives word from Tel Aviv that a distant aunt has left her a mysterious inheritance

shopkeepers, rich industrialists necks are bent over from looking for coins - in tale after tale, a town magically returns to life, even as its grim future looms

HERE COMES MRS. KUGELMAN BY MINKA PRADELSKI

darkly. And under the thrall of Mrs. Kugelman's words, Tsippy finally pieces together her aunt's strange bequest, as well as her own place in the story unfolding before her. î –

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Minka Pradelski Minka Pradelski is a German sociologist and documentary filmmaker. Her parents were Holocaust survivors and she is an honorary member of the Shoah Foundation. Her first novel Here Comes Mrs. Kugelman appeared in 2005 and was translated into English by Philip Boehm.

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BOOK REVIEW

Allusion One thing is certain, Andi Hyldahl’s writing is fun and refreshing! Allusion is the perfect mix of suspense, wit, and charm. The story line is simply clever and the character development is to die for! There are authors who can suck you into the story line and there are authors who can make you fall in love with the characters, then there is Andi Hyldahl who can do both. Andi Hyldahl is definitely an author to watch out for! Can’t wait for what she brings us next!

About The Book: Every year, an anonymous gift is left on eighteen-yearold Lucy’s porch. It’s the only gift she receives all year, and it’s exactly what she needs. This year’s gift exposes hidden clues, untangling the undisclosed fates of her parents. Along the way, she finds Toph, a college athlete who’s easy on the eyes and deems to be more useful than suspected.

Allusion BY ANDI HYLDAHL

With the help of her best friend Art, a chemistry genius who resides at the nursing home where she’s employed, she delves into an impossible mission for truth, love, and freedom.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andi Hyldahl Andi Hyldahl is a graduate of Utah State University with a degree in nursing. As much as she loves poking limbs and passing meds, her creative beast escapes during the quiet hours of night shifts, where she dreams up stories and scribbles plots in the margins of her Drug Dosages book. Andi lives in Northern Utah with her favorite people, her husband Scotty and four kids.

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Podster is a magazine for podcast listeners and serves as a curator for the best of known and unknown podcasts.

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AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


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NATIONAL WOMEN’S HEALTH & FITNESS DAY Women’s Health & Fitness Day is the nation’s largest annual health promotion event for women of all ages. This year’s event is set for Wednesday, September 25, 2019, and in future years, is always held on the last Wednesday in September. This unique national program — with participation by local organizations throughout the U.S. — focuses attention on the importance of regular physical activity and health awareness for women. The event is similar in concept to its “sister” event — National Senior Health & Fitness Day — the nation’s largest older adult health promotion program held every May. Women’s Health & Fitness Day will also be part of a new National Women’s Health & Fitness Week, to be held annually the last week in September. On Wednesday, September 25, 2019, more than 500 groups across the country will host women’s health and fitness events at senior centers, hospitals, health clubs, park and recreation districts, local health and service organizations, schools, retirement communities, houses of worship, and other community locations. An estimated 50,000 to 75,000 women of all ages are expected to participate in these local activities.

Learn More 88

AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2019


HOLIDAYS

|

NATIONAL BOOK LOVERS DAY National Book Lovers Day harnesses all the excitement bibliophiles feel about books into one celebration on August 9th. A day for all those who love to read, National Book Lovers Day encourages you to find your favorite reading place, a good book (whether it be fiction or non-fiction) and read the day away.

HOW TO OBSERVE Sit back, relax and READ! Don’t forget to share the joy of reading with the young people in your life. Inspire them with your favorite novel or find out about the last book they took off the shelf. Read to the littlest of the up and coming readers. And share what your reading with us, too! Use #NationalBookLoversDay to post on social media and spread the word.

Check Out #Bibliophile on Instagram 89


ON OUR SHELF BS

CHECK OUT

What's On Our Shelf Nobody loves books more than us. We're a team of readers with broad interests and strong feelings about the books on our shelves.

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ON OUR SHELF

FISHING FOR BIRDS by Linda Quennec

THE ATLAS OF REDS AND BLUES

EXPERIMENTS IN JOY by Gabrielle Civil

by Devi S. Laskar

Kate, a somewhat clumsy widow of thirty-two, flees her stifling hometown on Vancouver Island to live alone on an even smaller island in the Salish Sea. In so doing, she has vague expectations of solace and sanctuary, despite past experience. Instead she meets Ivy, a woman who through their conversations transports her to the intoxicating world of 1926 Cuba. Within the context of their friendship, Ivy's past begins to unravel from a long-held silence, just as Kate finds herself confronting her relationship with the colourful community she's known all her life, along with an unexpected visitor who threatens to remove all peace from her chosen refuge.

When a woman - known only as Mother - moves her family from Atlanta to its wealthy suburbs, she discovers that neither the times nor the people have changed since her childhood in a small Southern town. Despite the intervening decades, Mother is met with the same questions: Where are you from? No, where are you really from? The Americanborn daughter of Bengali immigrants, she finds that her answer - Here - is never enough. Mother's simmering anger breaks through one morning, when, during a violent and unfounded police raid on her home, she finally refuses to be complacent.

Gabrielle Civil's Experiments in Joy celebrates black feminist collaborations and solos in essays, letters, performance texts, scores, images, and more. Following her explosive debut Swallow the Fish, Civil now documents her work with From the Hive, No. 1 Gold, and Call & Response--whose collaborative Call inspired the title. The book also features her solo encounters with artists and writers, ancestors and audiences. Here you will find black girlhood, grief, ghosts, girls in their bedrooms, lots of books, dancing, reading, falling in love, fighting back, and flying. With lots of heart and the help of her friends, Civil keeps reckoning with performance, art and life.

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ON OUR SHELF

JULIET THE MANIAC

WELL-READ BLACK GIRL

by Juliet Escoria

by Glory Edim

by Elizabeth Acevedo

A highly anticipated debut— from a writer hailed as "a combination of Denis Johnson and Joan Didion" (Dazed)—brilliantly captures the intimate triumph of a girl's struggle to become the woman she knows she can be. Ambitious, talented fourteenyear-old honors student Juliet is poised for success at her Southern California high school. However, she soon finds herself on an increasingly frightening spiral of drug use, self-harm, and mental illness that lands her in a remote therapeutic boarding school, where she must ultimately find the inner strength to survive.

Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging remains with readers the rest of their lives—but not everyone regularly sees themselves in the pages of a book. In this timely anthology, Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black women writers to shine a light on how important it is that we all—regardless of gender, race, religion, or ability—have the opportunity to find ourselves in literature.

Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows that it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

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WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH


ON OUR SHELF

FIGHT LIKE A MAN & OTHER STORIES WE TELL OUR CHILDREN

CHRONICLE OF LOST EMPIRE: SECRETS OF NALANDA

by Christine Granados

by MALA MUKHERJEE

Life in the parched landscape of El Paso is the setting for this book of stories about people navigating their way through dysfunctional lives with the help of friends and family--people like MonĂ­ca Montoya, a housewife and mother whose affair leaves her pregnant, causing her to revisit the legacy of her father, a man who maintained two separate families on either side of the Mexican-American border. In spite of their bad choices, the characters in this collection never give up.

A historical fantasy set in the backdrop of Nalanda and the end of Gupta Empire depicts the horror of Hun invasion, and power struggle between smaller kingdoms in an alternate universe bounded by magical reality. During the political turmoil, a prince vouchsafed to save Magadha from foreign invasion with the help of Nalanda's intellectual teachers and their secret knowledge of Celestial Weapons.

RARITY FROM THE HOLLOW by Robert Eggleton

Lacy Dawn's father relives the neverending Gulf War, her mother's teeth are rotting out, and her best friend is murdered by the meanest daddy on Earth. Life in the hollow is hard. She has one advantage - an android was inserted into her life and is working with her to cure her parents. But, he wants something in exchange. It's up to her to save the Universe. Lacy Dawn doesn't mind saving the universe, but her family and friends come first. An award winning adult social science fiction novel filled with tragedy, comedy, and satire that raises funds to help abused children.

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ON OUR SHELF

GOLD STAR

BEE'S FLOWERS

SEA SECRET

by Shara Meyer

by Corlet Dawn

by Elise H. Ford

Nicole Holston is a sanctimonious and wealthy entrepreneur who lives a life devoid of romance—that is, until the moment she stumbles upon the allure of the enigmatic lesbian prostitute named Zoey Bonet, an employee of the Gold Star lesbian matchmaking service. When the two women meet at a formal ball intended to raise money for the local LGBTQ teen center, their initial encounter is anything but friendly. Even so, Nicole finds herself drawn to the ebony-haired Zoey, despite their wildly differing positions in life.

Most everyone has gone to a flower shop and purchased a bouquet or a gift. Have you ever taken the time to ponder where the flowers are going and the story behind every purchase? Welcome to Bee's Flowers where there is a story behind every bouquet. A place where customer's and owner's lives intertwine. There will be love, and there will be loss, there will be laughter, there will be tears.

Cora is a girl who likes simple pleasures, reading her books and swimming in the local Michigan lakes. She has no idea who or what she truly is. She falls hard for Jett, there's just one problem. Jett is a guardian of the Halcyon mer-tribe. His job is to find a Lunafriya, a magical mermaid warrior. He thinks he's found one...Cora. He's forbidden from relationships with his subjects. Now he has to tell her a secret her father never told her. She is a mermaid! And not just that, one that has magical powers! Cora's life is about to get turned upside down. Will Jett break his oath for Cora?

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Together, the cast of Bee's Flowers will make you rethink the way you look at flowers, and the reasons people turn to them on multiple occasions.


ON OUR SHELF

REAL WOMEN'S STORIES 2018: A POWERFUL, INSPIRING COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES BY AND ABOUT REAL WOMEN by Beth Kallman Werner

The twelve brief chapters in this book reflect the beauty and the burdens of life, the highs and lows of being a woman. With stories about: mothers and daughters; relocating from a small town in Idaho to a tiny island in the Caribbean; a United States marine adopting a baby girl from an orphanage during the Vietnam War; surviving divorce, alcoholism, and domestic violence; building an empire in exotic jewelry design; trading routine for adventure; and more.

VENGEANCE BLIND by Anna Willett

PLEASE STOP!: A DRUNK, 5 KIDS AND PENNILESS by Mary Downham

Recovering from a road accident that has left her halfblind and in a wheelchair, Belle Hammer is alone in her secluded house set in a sprawling ten-acre plot, deep in the forests beyond Perth, Australia. Her husband having left on a work trip, and living miles away from urban centres, Belle has only a few neighbours. And one of them, the creepy retired lecturer Arthur Howell, she doesn’t trust one bit. Was it Howell who was seen in the grounds of her house? Did he make the noise she hears in the inaccessible first floor of her home?

In her first book – Please Stop! – Mary Downham recalls her early years, living with an alcoholic father, 5 siblings and a mother who was so weighed down by the family’s situation, she was unable to see the horrific abuse her young daughter was suffering at the hands of other children and adults charged with her care. For over 50 years, Mary kept her silence about the abuse she suffered; abuse which adversely impacted her functioning; development; and trust in others. Writing the book was a catalyst to recovery for Mary, who now lives a very different kind of life with her close and loving family.

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HAVE YOU EVER FELT LIKE A PEON AMONGST GIANTS?

BY D.L. GRASER

FROM WITHIN Life lessons from a firsttime children's book author.

Reading through articles in last month’s Shelf Unbound Magazine I began to feel as to who am I to share my thoughts amongst so many well-versed experienced writers. Many whom have no problem staying within the rules of the English language, typing words so eloquently bringing forth a well composed sentence. Feeling an inferior complex begin to tingle the hairs on the back of my neck and invade my thoughts, I looked for my chocolate chip cookies.

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST

D.L. Graser, was born and raised in the Midwest and has traveled worldwide with medical missions volunteering her time and talents for over twenty years. D.L. Graser has always dreamed of writing a fun book.

A half dozen cookies later, I told myself to knock it off, I am a beginner at this writing stuff. I need to keep going if I want to succeed as an author. So, grabbing my coffee, I sat down to write this article and wondered if anyone else ever felt like this. Fictional writing is fun. I never knew how much fun until I began to place words on paper to create characters. They become anything you want, good, bad, funny, serious, loving, grumpy, you choose. You have been wanting to write a fictional book for some time now, it’s been moving about in your head and for some strange reason you can’t get started. You read other’s work and long to write your own book, but don’t. Sit down and start. If your imagination takes a little jiggling and wiggling to get it awake, that may be because you have not exercised it very much. Imagination needs to be worked. We all have an imagination, so find yours and get it moving.

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Next dust off your laptop and write. It doesn’t have to be prize winning at first, you may get there, but your thoughts on paper motivates you to keep going. Next take those thoughts combined with your imagination and watch what happens. Never mind how this one or that one writes, or even what they write about. Be you, take the idea you have and just write. It’s your book, you can make it whatever you want it to be. Most of all have fun, challenge yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. Comparisons may pull you down and could cause you to sit another ten years before you get the confidence up to try again. Writing is fun, so enjoy! Blessings, D. L. Graser Moustache and Macintosh 

MOUSTACHE & MACINTOSH The night was calm as we floated across the ocean. "Lands not too far away," I heard the captain tell Short Leg Louie. I had not heard anymore cries from the princess in the last couple of nights. I wondered why. I just have a gut feeling that tonight is the night I take her off this ship with me.....

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Light the Night.

Join us in bringing light to the darkness of cancer! We are forming a fund-raising walk team, in memorial of our founder Margaret Brown, for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS) Light The Night. Register today to join our team or make a donation and help fund cancer cures!

Join Team Margaret / Shelf Media Group >

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DISCOVERIES

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THESE... YOU’RE SURE TO LIKE... THE REVOLUTION OF BIRDIE RANDOLPH BY BRANDY COLBERT

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THESE... YOU’RE SURE TO LIKE... WAITING FOR MY CATS TO DIE: A MORBID MEMOIR BY STACY HORN

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DISCOVERIES

IF YOU

LIKE

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THESE... YOU’RE SURE TO LIKE... CITY OF GIRLS BY ELIZABETH GILBERT RIVERHEAD BOOKS

102

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You had the power all along my dear.”

— GLINDA THE GOOD WITCH IN THE WIZARD OF OZ BY L. FRANK BAUM

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Fierce Female - August/September 2019 - Shelf Unbound Magazine