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J ULY 2018

Your guide to self-publishing

Indie Scouting Report • Book Cover Redesign •
First Lines from BookLife Authors •
Ask the Editor with Betty Sargent • 72 New Titles Listed

How a prolific author
took control of her
career by going indie

uthor Susan Wittig Albert has some
straightforward advice for aspir-
ing writers: “Write. Write a book.
Write another, and another after that.
Writing is a craft. It has to be learned. It
can only be learned with practice.”
The author of more than 100 books,
Albert still makes time for raising cattle,
sheep, geese, ducks, dogs, cats, and chick-
ens (not to mention gardening and fiber
crafting) on her 31-acre farm in the Texas
Hill Country. She writes five or six days
per week, handling publishing and mar-
keting chores in the mornings before
turning to her works in progress: “[I take] breaks And Albert isn’t looking to return to traditional
for lunch, laundry, and for sweeping up Molly’s fur publishing anytime soon. “Beginning in 2019, I
bunnies.” (That would be Molly Maguire, Albert’s will be publishing new work exclusively under my
elderly heeler.) imprint,” she says. She isn’t shy about using out-
Albert has written several mystery series, includ- side expertise, however: “I currently subcontract
ing the China Bayles garden-themed mysteries the copyediting, page design, and cover art.” The
and the historical series the Darling Dahlias, the independent book publisher and distr ibutor
Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, and the Robin Greenleaf Book Group handles Alber t’s book
Paige Victorian-Edwardian Mysteries, which she printing and distribution. She also has an agent,
coauthored with her husband, Bill Albert. She has Kerry Sparks at Levine Greenberg Rostan, who
also written numerous standalone books. handles subsidiary rights.
Albert’s path to self-publishing was a wind- Albert says that since launching Persevero
ing one. Her writing career began when she Press, she has gained some critical insights
traditionally published an academic book into the self-publishing market: writing a
in 1973. Albert then worked as an author great book is just the beginning—quality
for popular YA properties throughout the cover ar t and book design are critical.
1980s, writing under various pseudonyms. Publishing in both the digital and print-
She has published her adult mysteries with on-demand formats has also been essential
Avon, Berkley, and Scribner. But when for Albert. And there’s the nitty-gritty
she had trouble placing a novel of marketing. She advises writers to
titled A Wilder Rose in 2013, Albert “market the hell out of yourself and
decided to veer off the traditional your project,” then, “repeat, repeat,
publishing path and launch repeat.”
her own publishing Of course, few authors produce
imprint, Persevero Press. the number of books that Albert
A Wilder Rose, which was has. She counts her natural curios-
rejected 33 times, has ity and love of research among
gone on to sell 70,000 cop- the driving forces behind her pro-
ies and has even been lific outpouring: “I write about
optioned for TV. Albert has what I know, what I want to learn,
published two other historical and what I think will interest
novels under her readers. These things naturally
imprint: Loving find their way out of my life
Eleanor (2015) and my reading and into
and The General’s my writing—I just follow
Women (2017). my nose.” ■

Susan Wittig Albert

on her farm in
Texas Hill Country

46 B O O K L I F E , J U LY 3 0 , 2 0 1 8

BookLife Talks with To what extent do you draw from real life, and
what responsibility do you feel to reimagine or
Laurel Anne Hill change characters who are based on real people?
When writing The Engine
Hill dazzles with a dystopian steam- Woman’s Light, I drew upon the
punk novel full of spirits. love of my husband, the strength
of my mother and her parents,
What is the story behind The the stories about my paternal
Engine Woman’s Light—why and Mexican great-grandparents, and
how did you write it? the behavior of every chauvinis-
Around 1993, I had a dream about tic man I’ve ever met. I also drew
an elderly woman who rode a upon adventures I’ve had, such
“death train” toward an asylum for as operating a steam locomotive,
thrown-away people. An attendant climbing and almost falling off
gave her an abandoned infant to the side of a cliff, and being swept
babysit during the journey. The under a large inflatable river raft
spirit of the old woman’s deceased in white water. Still, I let my char-
husband appeared to her and said, acters establish their own person-
“This is our great-granddaughter.” alities within my mind and on the
The woman, carrying the baby in a page. I always insist on my charac-
basket, escaped the train and ters remaining true to themselves.
walked toward a distant light.
Within weeks of the dream, sev- Steampunk figures prominently
eral characters sprang to life in The Engine Woman’s Light.
inside my head—all determined to What about this aesthetic
convince me to tell their tale. I inspired you?
wrote a short story about them. I love steam-powered machinery:
An editor suggested writing a steam locomotives, steamboats,
novel instead. A few years later, I and steam calliopes. The power of
took her advice. steam is almost sexual in nature. I
also love windup clockwork. None
Who do you like to imagine read- of these devices contain black box
ing The Engline Woman’s Light? technology, which gave me a lot to
The Engine Woman’s Light is a dys- work with as a writer. I can look
topian spirits-meet-steampunk at them and understand how they
tale. My ideal reader can deal with work and invite the reader into
gadgets and grit. A mature teen or this fascination.
an adult who enjoys fantasy with a
diverse cast of characters will love What is the one thing you most
this book. want to tell readers, other writ-
ers, booksellers, publishers, or
What makes this book relevant agents about you or your book?
right now? I spent 20 years creating The
The Engine Woman’s Light is a coming-of-age novel Engine Woman’s Light. Now this novel has received
about a young Latina that delves into dark and pain- a total of 10 honors and awards, including a 2017
ful issues: rape, abuse, child abandonment, murder, Independent Press Award and a 2018 San Francisco
and the loss of loved ones. It also addresses love, Book Festival award. Writers, never discard your
loyalty, honor, family, forgiveness, and redemption. failed manuscripts. Your time of insight may come.
The topics are timeless. I wanted to write directly to
the human experience. For more information, visit booklife.com/hill

Cover Redesign
This month, Michelle Argyle at Melissa Williams Design
reimagines the cover of the romance Just Not Ready Yet
by indie author Brooklyn James.
To submit a book for a free cover redesign, email us at booklifeeditor@booklife.com.
Original Cover

While I wanted
a cowboy
couple on the
cover to push
the romance
angle, the title
indicates some Using a darker,
hesitation on eye-catching
the part of the color scheme
characters, so sets a dramatic
I kept the man backdrop for
and woman this cowboy
separated. romance.

Font choice is
The title font
Keeping an shows the
author’s name reader that this
larger than the story is going
title puts the to be a fun,
focus on the happy read.
author’s brand,
giving the sense
that there are
more books by
this writer to be
discovered and

48 B O O K L I F E , J U LY 3 0 , 2 0 1 8

BookLife Talks with It’s also a way for the poet to connect with his or
her past meaningfully and in a way that, hopefully,
Howard Giskin if a poem is doing its job, connects with the reader.
For me, perhaps most importantly, memory provides
Giskin, a retired world literature professor, threads images, which are often charged by complex and, at
his vast knowledge of poetry through a worldly col- times, fascinating emotions. Frequently, this is the
lection of verse steeped in memory. start of a poem for me, an image accompanied by
a feeling that suggests it could form
Is there a thread that links the the basis of some verse.
poems of Murmurings?
With Murmurings, my motivation was How has your experience teaching
to capture recollections from more world literature shaped your poetic
than 40 years of travel, life, and fam- craft? Do you have any favorite
ily. Strictly speaking, not all the poets working outside of the English
poems collected here are memories, language tradition whom you would
though in many cases their inspira- cite as creative inspirations?
tion springs from something I’ve wit- Over the years, I’ve paired teaching
nessed or lived through. Now that I ancient and modern literature with
am retired, I have time to let things traveling, sometimes for pleasure and
ferment and settle, rather than feel- other times for academic exchanges
ing rushed to produce a poem or piece to Asia and Latin America. There are
of writing. some wonderful love poems from
ancient Egypt that are nearly 4,000
Who is your ideal reader and why? years old, and the Epic of Gilgamesh
My ideal reader is someone who enjoys has some of the most powerful lines
travel and is interested in the joys, sor- in all of literature. For some reason,
rows, and discoveries in life; a person though, I’m particularly attracted to
Howa rd Gi sk i n

Living was not lost on us

fascinated by history,
for the philosophy, and
island’s millennia early Japanese literature from the
spoke, its nooks and
the mysteries of human nature; some-
crags murmuring …
Nara and Heian periods, a formative
one willing to step into the shoes of time when two of Japan’s greatest col-

another, if only for a few moments.

There are stories being whispered around us, if we but
listen. Murmurings is a collection of poetry that draws lections of poems, the Man’yōshū and
the Kokinshū, were compiled. With
upon the experiences of a lifetime spent traveling the
world, reflecting on philosophy and the spirit, and
listening deeply. The poems express singular moments in
What makes your poems particu-
time—Walt Whitman strolling in Prospect Park, mulling
over a line of poetry; Monet gazing upon swirls of water
Murmurings, I aspired to capture
larly relevant now? the same level of fleeting emotions,
lilies with eyes made fuzzy by cataracts; an ancient nun,
smiling and chanting through smoky drifts of incense.

We are living in an increasingly inter-

Rich in details, Murmurings will draw you in, fill your
senses, and let you imagine yourself in another place … sensations, and complex sentiments
connected world, more intercon- of the type often found in classical
in another time.

nected than at any other time in Japanese verse.

human history. Modern genetics has
confirmed that we are one human What is the one thing you most want
family, related through complex webs ISBN 9781525503757
90000 >
to tell readers about your book?
of ancestry and descended from com- I write primarily from experience,
Howard Giskin
mon ancestors. I’d like to think that 9 781525 503757
from what I have seen, felt, under-
Murmurings captures a little of this stood, and sensed as transformative
interconnectedness. in my life. My message is that everyone has stories
worth telling, be they in the form of poems, prose,
Memory figures prominently in this collection. song, prayer, or simply conversation with friends.
Why is poetry, rather than prose, your chosen Murmurings is my attempt to tell some part of my
medium for capturing the past? story.
I think poetry is most suited to evoking the feelings
associated with unusual and complex states of mind. For more information, visit booklife.com/giskin

Writers and
Indie authors can help high
school students become
avid readers and published
Mark Coker

ndie authors invest a lot of time, energy, and imagination comes creativity, inspiration, and
financial resources into book marketing. Yet, for innovation. Reading gives us knowledge, encourages
most authors, the struggle is fraught with chal- critical thinking, and improves our communication
lenge; it’s tough to reach readers. skills. Avid readers can learn more, learn faster, and
There’s a glut of high-quality books out there, do it with less effort.
especially in the e-book market, where indie authors More early intervention is needed at the high
find most of their readers. Indies face a market in school level to help young adults develop a greater
which the supply of e-books is growing faster than love for reading. But how do we foster greater love
the supply of readers. The result is that, on average, of reading? It’s not enough to tell students to read
every new book published from this day forward books. A better approach is to teach these students
will share a thinner slice of the pie. to write and publish books.
It’s time to grow the pie. We need to create new Four years ago, in partnership with my local
readers. public library, I volunteered to help design and
According to the Pew Research Center, overall launch a pilot program at Los Gatos High School in
book consumption has remained flat over the past which 120 freshman honors poetry students col-
10 years. E-book consumption is highest among laborated over a five-week period to write, publish,
college graduates and high-income earners. Pew and promote a poetry anthology e-book. That e-book
reports that 42% of U.S. college graduates read an is titled Windows to the Teenage Soul.
e-book in the last year. The figures were 8% for those The project was led by teachers Tonya McQuade
who didn’t graduate high school and 17% for those and Catherine Wehr. They invited me to speak to
who graduated high school but didn’t pursue college. each of their five class periods about e-book self-
Why do college grads read more e-books than publishing. I shared the same knowledge that most
people without a college education? Readers have indie authors already know from experience.
access to hundreds of thousands of e-books at no Students contributed one poem each. Next, they
cost via libraries and retailers. The problem is that divided into teams. One team focused on editing,
these potential readers are choosing not to read layout, and design. Another team focused on art
books. and photography. Another team managed market-
Reading stimulates the imagination, and from ing and publicity. And another team managed event

50 B O O K L I F E , J U LY 3 0 , 2 0 1 8

planning for their book launch. the tools of professional publishing are accessible
The day it was released, Windows to the Teenage to all. All that is needed is knowledge. And this is
Soul briefly ranked as the #1 bestselling poetry book where indie authors come in.
on the Apple iBooks store. The evening of the release, Indie authors can partner with local schools to
Los Gatos Public Library hosted the book launch. inspire similar projects in their local communities.
The event was standing room only. Proud parents Every high school can replicate this project in its
and lucky patrons listened to the students describe classrooms. Every person can write poetry. All it
the project and read excerpts from their favorite takes is a visionary teacher, and an indie author
poems. willing to help share her smarts to help kick-start
Now in its fifth year, this e-book publishing proj- the project.
ect has touched the lives of more than 600 students. Windows to the Teenage Soul includes a teacher’s
This May, 175 students published Voices from the guide in the appendix to help others replicate the
Poet-Sea. same project. It includes project timelines, handouts,
These students will begin the first chapter of their and a list of resources. To learn more about this
adult lives with a deeper appreciation for the writ- pioneering project at Los Gatos High, check out
ten word. Their accomplishment will go on their episode 16 of the Smart Author Podcast, “Publishing
college applications. These students are more likely in the Classroom.” ■
to write more, read more, and publish again.
This entire project, from start to finish, didn’t cost Mark Coker is the founder of Smashwords and
anything. Thanks to free e-book publishing platforms, host of the Smart Author Podcast.


BookLife Talks with BookLife Talks to Jamiyl

Carol Basdeo and Tracy-Ann Samuels
Basdeo combines her experiences Picture book hero Amani wins
as a science teacher and a mother hearts and helps children on the
to create a series of children’s books autism spectrum and their families.
that makes science fun for kids. What is the story behind The
Amazingly Awesome Amani?
How did you get started writing the K.C. & Kayla’s It’s based on our 11-year-old son,
Science Corner series? Trey Amani, who is on the autism spectrum. We
I left my corporate job two years ago to spend time wanted to raise awareness about autism while writ-
with my young children. We spent many days at the ing a book that kids could relate to. We also wanted
library and brought home a variety of books. None to shine a spotlight on an issue that is not being
of these books sparked my children’s interest. They addressed openly in the black community. We also
had too much information or were too advanced. wrote it for our six-year-old daughter, who brought
Soon thereafter, my son, K.C., came home with a sci- to our attention the need to have open dialogue
ence experiment that we did as a family. That night, about our son’s challenges.
after seeing the joy on my children’s faces, I wrote Who do you most hope will read this book?
the first book. Families who are dealing with a child with autism and
How do your books help kids get into science? who are in denial; children in general who have low
My books allow children under the age of 10 to learn self-esteem, who have issues communicating with
science through storytelling. They encourage children other kids, or who get bullied; and adults whose first
to explore science in the home, making it relatable. reaction is to laugh at, move away from, or point a
Children will develop a fondness for science while hav- finger at a child who is on the spectrum. We hope that
ing fun. the book will encourage people to be more empathetic.
For the complete interview, visit booklife.com/basdeo For the complete interview, visit booklife.com/samuels

B O O K L I F E .C O M 51

Scouting Report
In this month’s roundup of the best-reviewed BookLife
titles, we highlight three thrillers—about a haunted house,
a reluctant homicide detective, and a weapon of mass
manipulation—plus an audiobook and a romance.

★ Shy Grove ★ Infinite Us


Synopsis: In this thriller Synopsis: Butler beautifully

from Johnson, after the weaves three interracial
death of his aunt, Gary romances—taking place in
inherits her house in the Brooklyn, New Orleans,
remote town of Shy Grove. and Washington, D.C.—into
But once he moves his fam- a satisfying and complex
ily into the old house and work.
looks to turn his marriage PW’s Takeaway: The complex
around, things take an structure crystallizes
unexpected turn. into an impressive resolution that ties up loose
PW’s Takeaway: Creepy, twisted, and relentlessly threads hidden in the very first pages. This
unsettling... This is an impressive new take on splendid story is destined for many a keeper
classic horror themes. shelf.
Comparable Title: Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting Comparable Title: Renée Carlino’s Wish You Were
of Hill House Here
Sample Line: “The place felt like a museum, a Sample Line: “Once there was an ordinary girl
shrine to a dead woman’s tastes and passions.” who held an extraordinary hope.”
Read the Review: Read the Review:
publishersweekly.com/9780692982594 publishersweekly.com/ASINB06XKMKZ2J

★ Gone Viral ★ Shadowed Terminal

J.A. KNIGHT by Death Rage
a man creates a Synopsis: In 1944 NARRATED BY
weapon of mass San Francisco, SCOTT BRICK
manipulation, detective Oliver Synopsis: After a
he finds himself Wright has returned terrorist takeover
involved with a shadowy intelli- from combat in the Pacific and has of a skyscraper, former FBI agent
gence agent. mixed feelings about his first Alex Blackwell is dragged from
PW’s Takeaway: Fans of intelligent homicide case. retirement.
thrillers will relish Knight’s prom- PW’s Takeaway: A superior PW’s Takeaway: A totally
ising debut. whodunit. satisfying audiobook.
Comparable Title: Christopher Comparable Titles: Sheldon Russell’s Comparable Title: Daniel Silva’s
Farnsworth’s Flashmob Hook Runyon series The Black Widow
Read the Review: publishers- Read the Review: publishers- Read the Review: publishers-
weekly.com/9780998775906 weekly.com/ASINB07F2V369K weekly.com/ASINB07D5J4H6

52 B O O K L I F E , J U LY 3 0 , 2 0 1 8

First Lines
Swim Season
“Aunt Mags didn’t say a word on the way
to the high school, and neither did I.”
Our monthly look at some of the best
Gathering Frost
first lines by BookLife authors KAITLYN DAVIS
“The world ended on a Saturday
This month brings the end of the world and an
in spring.”
early-morning visit from the cops. To submit a
first line, email booklifeeditor@booklife.com.
Identity Crisis
Martha’s Sister: “I’ve never been a morning person, and
Beloved Prodigal if there’s one thing I don’t need before
PATRICIA ANNALEE KIRK my first cup of coffee, it’s a visit from
“I watched the young girl in horrified the cops.”
Your Crocodile Has Arrived
WOLFGANG PARKER A third-grade classmate of mine
“Jonas Shurmann woke up tired and named Jimmy told me he would eat
grumpy—probably because he hadn’t a live worm if I paid him twenty-five
heard cats speak yet.” cents.
BOOKWORKS_HALF_H_0715_Layout 1 7/24/15 10:12 AM Page 1

Calling all Indie Authors

What can BookWorks do for you:
● Help You Find Your Reader ● Chat With Our Experts
● Post Excerpts from Your Book ● Showcase and Sell Your Books With
for Peer Review Direct-to-Retailer Links
● Get a Featured Author Cover Medallion ● Find the Best Editors, Designers, Illustrators,
for Your Book Marketers, and Publicists in the Business
And that’s just for starters
Let us help you Prepare, Publish and Promote your books. We show you how to make
indie publishing easier and, yes it’s true —how to make it fun.

RELIGION_THIRD_V_1114_Layout 1 11/11/14 11:38 PM Page 1

Ask in your career. And you are not

PW keeps a watchful eye
alone. Here are some examples
under a stone for a thousand

of rejections well-known books —On Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita
RELIGION_THIRD_V_1114_Layout 1 11/11/14
1 11/11/14 11:38
11:38 PMPM Page 1
PM1 Page 1
over spirituality
received that and RELIGION_THIRD_V_1114_Layout
should cheer you up.
RELIGION_THIRD_V_1114_Layout 1 11/11/14 11:38 PM Page 1
1 11/11/14 11:38
As Harper Lee says, “I would

Editer religion books “Does with

We recommend
great ways towith
PW keeps aamong
twoto be a whale?...
it have
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eye visage
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1 1 aa
a watchful
advise anyone who aspires to a
eyecareer that before
eye his talent he would
A veteran editor answers of changesinstance, the younger readers. For
in the field, be wise to develop a thick hide.”
not over spirituality and
the Captain
with So
twotake heart, and learn
your writing questions over
PWPW spirituality
keeps a watchful
a watchful and eyeeye
emerging new trends
struggling with a great
depravity ways
andreligion books with two
great ways toto keep
keep abreast
from your rejections. But if
overover spirituality
spirituality and and
towards with twoperhaps
young, volup-
changesininthe you’re
field,writing about a whale —
the authors
religion books
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with twotwo
maidens?” great ways to keep abreast I’d keep the whale.
Dear Editor: great ways
to keep
to keep
—On Herman
emerging newtrends
Melville’s trendsand and
the genre.
H ow can I better deal with
writerly rejection?of changes
It hap-
pens to everyone, right? emerging
of changes
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trends and
emerging emergingnew
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 —T.R. Johns about
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1 11/11/14 thePMmanPage 1is trying to
thethe authors
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P rofessional rejection is a big thethe

PW keeps
part of life for all creative
people. If you’re an actor, painter,
a watchful eye
—On Joseph
to be funny.” the genre.founder and CEO of BookWorks.
Heller’s Catch-22
If you have a question for the
over spirituality and
musician, or writer, you just have “Overwhelmingly nauseating... editor, please email Betty Sargent
to expect noes, especially religion
early books with two
I recommend that it be buried at booklifeeditor@booklife.com.
great ways to keep abreast
of changes in the field,
PW keepsemerging
a watchful eye
new trends andover spirituality
Listen toto and
authors religion books
Listen to authors discuss
with two great ways
the authors to keep abreast of changes
shaping their
their latest
latest books
books inin thisin the field,
emerging new latest books in this
trends and the authors shaping the genre.
FREE podcast.
the genre.
FREE to authors
to podcast.
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their latest
latest books
books in this
in this
Listen to authors
FREEFREE podcast.
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54 B O O K L I F E , J U LY 3 0 , 2 0 1 8PublishersWeekly @PublishersWkly Read More at

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New Titles from

Booksellers, publishers, librarians, and agents are encouraged to look at the 72
self-published titles below. Each appears with a list of retailers that are selling the
book and a description provided by its author. Some of these writers are waiting to
be discovered; others have track records and followings and are doing it on their
own. If you are a self-published author interested in listing titles in this section,
please visit publishersweekly.com/pw-select for more information.
Fiction Set against a backdrop of wild Tasmania, Man on the Floor!
All the Lies We Live Australian gold, and African diamonds, Daniel L. Coberly. Man on
Don Trowden. Publerati. this is an epic story of betrayal, undying the Floor Productions.
$16.95 paper (258p), love, and one man’s struggle to find his $26.99 paper (566p),
ISBN 978-0-9979137- way home. ISBN 978-1-71949-
3-6; $7.99 e-book, ASIN 284-3
B077Y9CN7C Island Fever (Jimjeran, Book 1) Amazon
Amazon, BN.com, Sarah Carrell. Sarah The son of a military
BookBaby, Indiebound, Carrell. $12.25 paper father and a French war bride tries to
Ingram (363p), ISBN 978-1- make sense of a brave new world in
A cast of octogenarians pursue their 980414-73-5; $4.99 post-WWII Munich and Verdun.
dreams as a hurricane approaches a e-book, ASIN
Maine island. The theme is redemption B07D4KT65F My Friend Marilyn: The Great American
through love. Amazon Destination Series
Carlie Beecher, a Christopher Lentz.
The Family Jewels spunky American nurse, leaves her fiancé Christopher Lentz. $3.99
Vincent Graziano. GGP in the States in her hunt for adventure and e-book, ASIN
Publishing. $24.95 hard- volunteers for a term on a tiny atoll in the B07DDBZZ8C
cover (290p), ISBN 978- Marshall Islands. Amazon, Apple iBooks,
0-692-93682-5 BN.com, Kobo,
Amazon, BN.com Lagging Indicators Smashwords
Destitute middle-aged Jennifer Anglade After being named Marilyn Monroe’s
brothers are forced to Dahlberg. Jennifer assistant, a sassy small-town spinster is
return to the tenement apartment where Dahlberg. $5.99 e-book, surrounded by showbiz temptations and
they grew up. Their aged mother will be ISBN 978-1-77342- hidden dangers.
glad they are home. A third brother, not 049-3
so much. Amazon, BN.com, On Burning Mirrors
Chapters Jamie Klinger-Krebs. J2K
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B O O K L I F E .C O M 55

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56 B O O K L I F E , J U LY 3 0 , 2 0 1 8


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Amazon Google Play, Kobo Etiquette... Manners...
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B O O K L I F E .C O M 61

Fiction Ben’s hospital clerkship as he and other med teen, Lord Bryce. After brokering peace
students diagnose patients help ground the with the cannibals, Ian, his brothers, and
story’s paranormal elements. Laurette’s a secretive scribe join Lord Hodge, aggres-
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Clint Geller. SciroFant, $3.99 e-book (322p) world serves as a foil to Ben’s pragmatic the bog of monsters. When the fight goes
ISBN 978-1-77342-008-0 skepticism, though her character is less poorly, it is left to Ian to clean up the mess
Geller’s cluttered debut, first in the developed than his and not much is made and secure the safety of the road. His actions
Gennebar Rising epic fantasy series, moves of the Vodou angle. The novel’s strength lies soon put him on the wrong side of the
awkwardly from labored beginning to in the author’s sensitive commentary on lords—and of Blackpool. Fans of action-
action-packed second half, but that action adult responsibilities and mental illness. driven fantasy epics will enjoy this story as
demonstrates the series’ promise in spite of long as they don’t require too much in the
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Gennebar—a clear parallel to ancient Clare Flynn. Cranbrook Press, $15.99 trade
Roman-occupied Israel—tensions between paper (342p) ISBN 978-0-9933324-3-2 The Covert Captain
various opposing factions are reaching Flynn’s memorable historical novel takes Jeannelle M. Ferreira. Beehive, $2.99 e-book
breaking points. Sixteen-year-old Arol, a readers back to early World War II, from (240p) ASIN B07BHCP27L
menial assistant at the Sacred Temple of the farmlands of Canada to a seaside town Ferreira’s smart, sexy Regency romance
Gennebar, develops unexpected and sur- in England, as two damaged souls are features a bravura cross-dressing heroine.
prising powers that will change the course changed forever by a chance meeting. Capt. Nora “Nathaniel” Flemming, who
of his life. Arol’s best friend, Zorn, is at Canadian farmer Jim Armstrong joins the took her brother’s identity to become a sol-
loose ends until he meets a beautiful and army after his fiancée jilts him for his dier in the Napoleonic Wars, meets and falls
mysterious fortune-teller. Meanwhile, brother, Walt. In the English town of in love with her commanding officer’s sister,
militaristic rebel leader Zemakiel and Eastbourne, Gwen Collingwood’s privi- Harriet Sherbourne. Harriet is determined
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competing visions for Gennebri resistance. Roger, goes off to war and her housekeeper sisters died in childbirth. The two fall in
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murky motivations, and in spite of an Royal Voluntary Service who translates that create tension within Harriet’s family.
intriguing, long-hidden system of magic, German radio communications, also takes Harriet is an elegant lady; Flemming breaks
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ments is occasionally clumsy, especially notions of propriety have no place in war- sion. When Harriet learns Flemming’s
when it relies too heavily on historical time. Gwen’s purpose-filled life translating secret, she’s initially distressed, but soon she
analogies. Readers interested in stories of the communications is disrupted when learns to love Nora just as she had Nathaniel.
uprisings against occupying regimes will she loses her position to Jim, who is also Their forbidden love story is set against an
appreciate Geller’s work, especially the billeted at her home. She and Jim become exceedingly detailed historical Britain that
intricately plotted battle scenes. closer even as they know their wartime will delight history buffs but overwhelm a
romance is fleeting, and they both discover casual reader. Frequent perspective jumps
The Bone Curse a love that helps heal wounds of the past. muddle the chain of events, but there’s
Carrie Rubin. Science Thrillers Media, $13.99 Flynn’s novel is a vivid page-turner that much to enjoy nonetheless.
trade paper (296p) ISBN 978-1-940419-98-5 depicts the destruction of war, but it is most
In the arresting opening of this horror- notable for its portrayal of the effects it has The Crimson Heirlooms
tinged mystery from Rubin (The Seneca on individual lives. Hunter Dennis. A-R-B Books, $16.99 trade
Scourge), American medical student Ben paper (470p) ISBN 978-0-9994936-0-1
Oris visits the Paris Catacombs with his Clansman: Invoking the Darkness Dennis’s debut is an ambitious, sweeping
best friend Laurette, a med student from Royce Scott Buckingham. Gere Donovan, epic of French history between 1776 and
Haiti. After Ben is cut by a bone in the cata- $9.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-5423- 1832 that follows two men decades apart
combs, bad luck follows him back home to 0479-5 who are loosely connected through two
Philadelphia. People in Ben’s life, including In this brisk first Mapper epic fantasy, elusive, fabled heirlooms—a priceless
an ex-girlfriend and his estranged mother, Buckingham (Impasse) introduces Ian necklace called the Cross of Nantes and
develop a violent and possibly fatal illness. Krystal, a shrewd and calculating leader of lyrics to the devil’s song, said to contain a
Laurette, whose family is practiced in the a band of Hilltopper clansmen. Ian has been secret. Set mainly in France and Saint-
traditions of Haitian Vodou, warns Ben that summoned to Abrogan by the new king, Domingue (now Haiti), the story begins
she suspects the bone contained a centuries- Blackpool, to build roads and tame the with Xavier Traversier, French heir to a
old curse. Practical, logical Ben resists the inhabitants. What he finds are villagers failing dynasty in Nantes, who goes into
idea that a powerful supernatural force is who worship cats, a bog filled with can- shipping and the African slave trade to
behind the illnesses. Realistic details of nibals, and a royal court led by a drunken restore his family’s fortune. The Guerrier

61a B O O K L I F E , J U LY 3 0 , 2 0 1 8

family of Saint-Domingue were in posses- Driving Whiskey Wild: Go with Your Heart
sion of the Cross of Nantes; years later, a The Whiskeys, Book 3 Savannah J. Frierson. SJF Books, $0.99 e-book
fateful meeting between Estelle Guerrier Melissa Foster. World Literary, $4.99 e-book (116p) ASIN B01F0IATFC
and Xavier forged a connection between the (312p) ASIN B076X4T6QN This sweet but shallow historical novella
families and the missing necklace. Decades Foster’s savory third Whiskeys contem- pairs up Shiloh, an enslaved black woman,
later, Jake Loring is an American studying porary (after Truly, Madly, Whiskey) will and Nashoba, a Choctaw man reluctantly
in Paris who leads a foiled rebellion against delight fans of alpha male heroes and fighting in the Confederate Army, as the
the king and is arrested. A stranger frees feminine heroines. Bullet Whiskey, an ex– Civil War careens to an end. The two bond
him on the condition that he find both Special Forces biker, and Finlay Wilson, a as they defy their mutual enemy, the
artifacts, called the Crimson Heirlooms, a chef starting a catering business, seem Confederacy, and hope to build a new life
journey that takes him around France and entirely unlike—she’s sweet and he’s that doesn’t revolve around America’s
to Ireland, culminating in Jake’s discovery scary—but they have more in common than “peculiar institution.” Although Shiloh
of a shocking secret that connects the two they think. Soon they’re finding their ways must part ways with Nashoba when she
heirlooms, and a newfound suspicion that into each other’s hearts. Although the focus escapes bondage, they eventually reunite
his involvement is not a coincidence. In this is on the budding romance between the after the war. Frierson develops accurate
remarkable, webby tale, Dennis uses the two, the novel also takes time to raise con- cultural portrayals, avoiding clichés and
heirlooms as the link to weave Xavier, Jake, cerns about the toll that war takes on sol- stereotypes. The story is told in a nonlinear
and many other story lines into the politics, diers as well as their loved ones. Foster format, which is perfect for this couple’s
religion, social issues, culture, and ideas writes believable protagonists and shows erratic journey. Unfortunately, too little
of the time. Meticulous research, sharp that these complete opposites make sense time is spent on the characters’ conflicts
historical detail, and a deepening mystery together. Her secondary characters are also both inside and outside of the relationship,
results in an exciting story. A cliffhanger well-developed, and readers quickly and the story moves too quickly for the
ending ensures a sequel. become invested in their lives. Tension and reader to savor each special moment. This
release in all the right places will keep is a tender, quick romance that’s perfect
Discovery readers eager for the next book in the series. travel reading, but romance fans who desire
Leslie Schweitzer Miller. Ranjilor, $14.99 something a bit deeper or hotter will be
trade paper (278p) ISBN 978-0-9677480-8-5 Fast Bang Booze disappointed.
Miller’s debut, a multi-generational tale Lawrence Maddox. Shotgun Honey, $9.95
centered on the contested history of Jesus trade paper (152p) ISBN 978-1-946502-54-4 ★ Gone Viral
and Mary Magdalene, has an intriguing Frank, the unimposing 24-year-old nar- J.A. Knight. Carbon Life, $14.95 trade paper
premise hampered by clumsy execution. rator of Maddox’s fast-paced novella set in (318p) ISBN 978-0-9987759-0-6
In 1885, Abbé François Bérenger Saunière 1990s L.A., has a “nervous system that’s Fans of intelligent thrillers about poten-
is assigned to Rennes-le-Château and dis- souped-up like an engine with sixteen tial technological threats will relish
covers that his church is a shelter for secrets valves per cylinder and turbocharged to Knight’s promising debut. After Lenny
that challenge the foundations of the boot.” It makes the world appear to be in Driver crashes and burns in his effort to land
Roman Catholic faith. This knowledge puts slow motion. This impediment, as he calls a job with Blahst, the Massachusetts-based
him and his comrades in mortal danger. In it, comes in handy when he’s attacked in a “coolest web company in the world,” his
2012, biblical scholar Dr. Giselle Gélis, a bar. An extraordinarily fast and brutal roommate finds him a position with
descendant of one of Saunière’s confidants, fighter, he easily dispatches his oversized Healthway Research International, a
finds her quiet world upended when she assailant, who’s left crying on the floor. A small nonprofit group that focuses on AIDS
meets and falls in love with archeologist Dr. Russian drug dealer named Popov, impressed prevention in third world countries. After
David Rettig. While on a romantic sojourn, by Frank’s lightning-quick takedown, Lenny uses up much of the organization’s
the two discover the final resting place of offers him a job. Broke and unemployed, funding in an unauthorized experiment
Saunière’s treasure: a marriage contract Frank readily accepts. The position gives targeting Burundi, he deploys a viral algo-
between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Their Frank plenty of chances to make use of his rithm that creates personalized appeals for
love and Giselle’s faith are threatened as unique skills as he tries to help his new boss money across a range of social media sites
they struggle to cope with the implications recover the more than $1 million ripped off to repair the damage he caused. His scheme
of their find and the endless media hype in a drug deal gone bad. Despite Frank’s quickly raises enough money for Healthway
surrounding an upcoming biopic of Mary lack of endearing qualities (he’s introduced to cover what he spent—and much more,
Magdalene. The scenic details and paired sitting in a pool of his own “whiz, puke, and which is sent directly to Burundi. But that
plotlines are appealing, but stilted, artifi- blood”), Maddox manages to keep readers influx of cash leads the Burundi government
cial dialogue and a lack of character devel- interested in how his story plays out, up to back out of a deal with a crooked U.S.
opment keep this novel feeling until the enigmatic and tantalizing con- senator, who asks a shadowy intelligence
superficial. clusion. Fans of offbeat noir will have fun. agent to find out what triggered the wind-
fall. Knight maintains suspense throughout

B O O K L I F E .C O M 61b
while making her projections about viral a stranger presents her with a rune that at the heart of this captivating novel from
social media both plausible and compre- bears an etching of two scarred hands, she Chabot (Godspeed: A Love Story). More than
hensible to the lay reader. recognizes the circular marking carved just a venerable landmark in Haviland,
into her own palm. The rune spurs Taran’s Mich., the grand old house at 401 Barnhill
Heart of Dust: discovery of an ancient prophecy, which in Road has been the cherished home of four
Death’s Embrace, Book 1 turn forces her into the company of Collens families over the course of the last 90 years.
H.L. Moore. H.L. Moore, $3.99 e-book (213p) Donovan, the owner of the corresponding With the house set to be demolished soon
ISBN 978-0-648-27129-1 scar depicted on the rune. Together, they to make way for a new highway and bridge,
Moore’s entertaining futuristic romance are tasked with finding and protecting the the home’s current owner, Nettie Tannehill,
tackles messy family dynamics and civil Craniarann, or staff, of Woden—Taran’s sends out invitations to the surviving
disobedience in a dystopian, semi-subter- ancestor—in order to prevent the end of members of the other three families for a
ranean world. Bryson, the tyrannical archon, the Hexen race. Coll’s own family history, final Christmas Eve homecoming. On
ignores concerns about the country’s highly however, makes him a less than willing Christmas Eve, newspaper owner Willow
lucrative but brutally unsafe coal mines and participant, much to Taran’s chagrin. Summerhaven, former baseball player Nick
the miners’ extreme privation, so hot- Kowallis’s blend of mythologies is immer- MacAlinden, and 90-year-old Sister
headed and charismatic former foreman sive and impressive, and the volatile Theresa Renwick—all troubled by pressing
Doran Ó Seanáin and his Black Lung Gang chemistry between the two protagonists financial woes—reunite one last time in the
orchestrate a massive strike. After an propels this dynamic narrative forward into house that had once provided them with
attempt to incite rebellion, a wounded the series’ next volume. shelter and security, little realizing that the
Doran stumbles into the apothecary of answer to their problems lies within the
t a c i t u r n but generous Nathaniel ★ Infinite Us house’s walls and under its floorboards.
Morgenstern. Doran ducks the huge bounty Eden Butler. Eden Butler, $2.99 e-book (296p) Although Chabot lovingly depicts a
on his head to visit his estranged adult ASIN B06XKMKZ2J Rockwell-esque image of small town
daughter Grace, who’s living with the Butler (Fall) beautifully weaves three Americana, his memorable characters are
wealthy family her mother abandoned to interracial romances into a single satisfying shaped by less rosy issues like alcoholism
marry Doran. He discovers she is engaged work. Brooklyn programmer Nash Nation and suicide. Though the pacing is a little
to the archon, a personal affront to Doran, is focused on getting his company started slow, the detailed prose and dynamics
who crafts a risky ultimatum for miners’ to the detriment of everything else, including between the characters makes this a worthy,
rights. Tensions among the gang leadership sleep. When his attractive neighbor Willow inspiring novel.
mount, and Doran’s increasing feelings for helps him finally get some rest, he dreams
Nathaniel and frustrations with Grace of Prohibition-era New Orleans, seeing Loathly
cloud his judgments until the explosive through the eyes of black delivery girl Erica Forrest. Erica Forrest, $1.35 e-book
conclusion. Moore’s worldbuilding could Sookie as she falls in love with her rich white (319p) ASIN B07D1CZKSY
be slightly more fluid as she packs in Celtic neighbor, Dempsey. Willow, meanwhile, Forrest builds on “Beauty and the Beast”
mythology, a crypto-Jewish minority (to dreams of 1967 Washington, D.C., where in her slightly overwrought fairy tale of a
which Nathaniel belongs), and a compli- university tutor Riley is falling for her feminist curse, political machinations, and
cated political situation, but her characters’ student Isaac despite her abusive ex-boy- courtly drama. Lady Maud of Stonerow has
entangled relationships and Doran’s angst- friend and the tensions of the civil rights been locked away in a magical castle for
free bisexuality keep everything feeling movement. As Nash and Willow’s relation- 19 years due to a curse that turns each
fresh. Shocking revelations and unfinished ship becomes more passionate, they realize generation’s firstborn child into a beast.
reforms pave the way for future books in this that the dreams they share are actually Favior Elwyk, a half-fae knight, arrives and
series that should appeal to fans of slow- memories, pointing their way to a happy binds her to help his prince’s insurgency. He
burning desire and fights against ending. Butler’s lush descriptions evoke the is dismayed when his actions break the curse
oppression. love and terror the past couples feel as they and saddle him with a young woman
face violence that threatens their relation- instead of the fearsome beast he’d hoped to
Hexen’s Cross ships and lives. The complex structure employ. Maud convinces him to marry her
J. Kowallis. Gatekeeper, $16.99 trade paper crystallizes into an impressive resolution and become Baron of Stonerow so he can
(396p) ISBN 978-1-64237-042-3 that ties up loose threads hidden in the very provide a loyal estate inside the kingdom.
Kowallis’s first Hexen’s Cross novel is a first pages. This splendid story is destined for Soon after the marriage, Favior rides into
cleverly articulated portrait of a modern many a keeper shelf. battle and leaves Maud at a fort with a
witch. Driven by her Hexen lineage and her gaggle of snippy knights’ wives and
father’s murder, Dr. Taran Grim has dedi- The Last Homecoming Salvador, a mage and priest who helps her
cated her professional life to the study of Dan Chabot. Yellow Wahee Publishers, $16.95 research a way to end the curse forever. Once
European occult practices. Taran’s use of her trade paper (404p) ISBN 978-1-5480-2601-1 triumphant, Favior returns with Maud to
own magic is perfunctory at best, but when A generation-spanning homecoming is Stonerow, where they awkwardly step into

61c B O O K L I F E , J U LY 3 0 , 2 0 1 8

their noble duties only to face suspicion, Tenn., 17-year-old Ellie Ryan discovers Peculiar Savage Beauty
gossip, and insubordination from the ten- she’s pregnant. Although she is happy about Jessica McCann. Perspective Books, $24
ants. Favior’s mercurial inclinations to the news, she also fears her dreams of (422p) ISBN 978-0-9994602-0-7
alternatively spurn and ravish Maud singing in Nashville will need to be put on The heart of McCann’s gripping, atmo-
become somewhat tedious, but Forrest hold. When the Klein family, who are active spheric novel, set in 1934 during the Dust
excels at highlighting resentment and members of their church’s crisis pregnancy Bowl, is an intrepid government geologist,
defiance in the other relationships. This center, decides to take her in, she must Rosa Jean “RJ” Evans, who returns to her
occasionally dawdling story will attract adjust to the wealth and the strong faith of drought-stricken hometown to help farmers
those who want to explore the complicated the new people around her. As Ellie becomes stop soil erosion and restore the land. The
emotional, domestic, and political terrain closer to the Kleins, she begins to believe environmental devastation and human
between the kiss and happily ever after. some of them are hiding secrets, but decides suffering are shocking to RJ, yet many of
to keep quiet. Then Jenny meets Ellie on a the residents of Vanham, Kans., do not
Love over Lattes trip to Tennessee, and both women begin welcome the interference of a government
Diana A. Hicks. Wild Rose, $5.99 e-book to again believe that their dreams are worth scientist, or a woman at that. RJ sets up soil
(322p) ISBN 978-1-5092-1945-2 fighting for; Jenny starts to emerge from experiments, gradually persuading some
Hicks’s sizzling first Desert Monsoon her depression, and Ellie continues her pur- farmers to adopt her methods, while
contemporary romance is a touch predict- suit of a singing career. But after hidden easing into friendships with brilliant,
able but wholly entertaining. Valentina de addictions and affairs are finally revealed, misunderstood Woody, who becomes her
Cordoba has an emotional meltdown in a characters must struggle with their own assistant, and Ethel, the owner of the local
café when she finds out that her rental values in search of redemption. In this pow- diner. RJ also falls in love with Harvey Clay,
application has been rejected, jeopardizing erful story, Scott elegantly considers the who wants to marry RJ and move to Wichita
her future with her young son, Max. difference between faith and trust. for a new life, yet he forces her to choose
Hunky Derek Cole, who’s been eaves- between marriage and her career. The dust
dropping on Valentina’s conversation, The Organ Growers: storms depicted are graphic and terrible,
impulsively offers to rent her the cottage A Novel of Surgical Suspense none more so than the “black blizzard,”
on his estate. With no other options, Richard Van Anderson. White Light, $11.99 based on 1935’s Black Sunday. McCann is
Valentina reluctantly takes Derek up on trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-0-9907597-4-4 especially good at using the ever-present
his offer but wants to keep things strictly Van Anderson hits the ground running dust—gritty, dirty, seeping into homes,
professional—something he has a hard in the breathless middle volume of his and infecting characters with “dust pneu-
time doing, though he and his wife are in medical thriller trilogy featuring Dr. David monia”—to depict its devastation on
the midst of a rough divorce. The acerbic McBride (after 2014’s The Organ Takers). humans, livestock, crops, and homes.
wit of Derek’s housekeeper and the pre- McBride and his mentor, Dr. Andrew McCann’s Dust Bowl saga meshes a seminal
cociousness of Valentina’s son boost an Turnbull, were dismissed from NYU event in American history with a suspenseful
otherwise stock plot with humor and Medical Center’s Department of Surgery plot and insightfully etched characters.
heart, and Valentina and Derek’s great two years earlier after allegations that they
chemistry gives this story its sizzle. Each accepted bribes to move patients up on a ★ Shadowed by Death:
stolen glance is taut with sexual tension transplant wait list. In the prior book, An Oliver Wright WW2 Mystery
that continues to build until an utterly Turnbull abducted and killed McBride’s Mary Adler. Dancing Dog, $14.95 trade paper
satisfying release. This irresistible romance wife and unborn child, and this sequel (296p) ISBN 978-1-7320097-0-7
is sure to satisfy. opens with McBride’s revenge: he injects Set in 1944 San Francisco, Adler’s supe-
Turnbull with a chemical that causes his rior second whodunit featuring homicide
The Mother Keeper former friend to suffocate. McBride man- detective Oliver Wright (after 2014’s In the
Paula Scott. West Butte, $12.99 trade paper ages to escape from the NYPD with the Shadow of Lies) finds Wright, who has
(358p) ISBN 978-0-692-88531-4 help of a shadowy NSA agent, Richard returned to the U.S. from combat in the
In a departure from her historical Whitestone, who offers McBride a deal: if Pacific with only one good leg, serving as a
romances, Scott (California Rising series) the doctor uses Turnbull’s research to grow JAG lieutenant. He has mixed feelings
delves into contemporary dangers with this a kidney for Whitestone’s dying daughter, about his first homicide case: “regret for the
inspirational novel about the power of the operative will help keep McBride’s one victim and her family, and an unseemly
secrets. In Colorado Springs, Colo., Jenny surviving family member, his father, from exhilaration at being able to do the job I
and Ken McBride believe that they are being permanently sedated in a psychiatric loved—a job that required someone to die
happy, strong Christians. But after their ward. Robin Cook fans will appreciate Van violently, unwillingly.” This time, a woman
unborn child is killed in a car accident, the Anderson’s skill at combining action with resembling Greta Garbo, whose battered
deep emotional and physical scars left on plausible extrapolations of what is currently body was found in the Presidio by a pass-
Jenny and Ken slowly bring their relation- medically possible. erby, clings to life, having suffered two
ship to the brink of collapse. In Sutterville, severe head wounds. The only clue to her

B O O K L I F E .C O M 61d

identity is a flyer advertising a fund-raising and transmitting his posts back through
talk the previous day about the Hidden time in Morse code. In Seattle, tallboy
Children of Europe, which was given by begins a job at AltaSystemics, a mysterious
Sophia Nirenska and Marek Landau, Polish startup that claims to store data in another Becoming Jesus:
Jewish resistance fighters. Before Wright dimension via psychic power, and he rapidly The Making of a Prophet
can locate Nirenska and Landau, they, too, succumbs to the odd corporate culture. Michael Berens. MJBerensResearch, $9.95
are attacked, leading him to suspect a link tallboy’s college student brother, Eddie, trade paper (228p) ISBN 978-1-73204-050-2
between the crimes. Fans of Sheldon begins to both carry the blog and recruit Berens, a freelance writer, discusses the
Russell’s Hook Runyon series will find this allies to save his brother and others drugged historical background and personal devel-
a more than acceptable substitute. by AltaSystemics’s CEO. Important among opment of Jesus Christ in this enjoyable
those allies are Isaac and his newfound speculative biography. Beginning with the
★ Shy Grove: A Ghost Story Tiaran acquaintances, who travel from the premise that Jesus would have had similar
Scott A. Johnson. CLB Publications, $19.99 South Pacific to Seattle to take part in the experiences to those of his contemporaries,
trade paper (279p) ISBN 978-0-692-98259-4 confrontation with AltaSystemics. Berens marshals archaeological evidence as
This creative, twisted, and relentlessly Perlman’s metafictional approach leaves well as historical and biblical scholarship to
unsettling creepy house story draws both his in-book blog readers and actual explore what Jesus’s everyday life was like
deeply on the natural tensions of a stressful readers guessing what is and is not real. as well as which events and influences may
marriage and of parenting a teen while The dialogue is sometimes stilted, and the have led him to make his choices. Taking a
pulling its characters into profoundly depiction of the Tiarans borders on a cari- strictly historical approach, Berens situates
strange territory. Gary is excited to move cature of Polynesians. Still, fans of stories Jesus as a Galilean man among other
with his wife, Angela, and 14-year old son, set in the tech world, residents of the Seattle Galilean men, experiencing the events of
Zach, into the old house he’s inherited from area, and readers who enjoy offbeat and his lifetime—the hardships of life under
his reclusive Aunt Ester in a remote, dying original stories will be entertained. Roman rule, the recent history of religious
town hours from their home in San Antonio, violence—just as his contemporaries (par-
Tex. But the locals tell stories of an evil The Vale: Behind the Vale ticularly John the Baptist) did. Berens’s
church that once stood on the property, and Brian D. Anderson. Longfire, $3.99 e-book approach is matter-of-fact and sticks close
thumps from under the floorboards, dis- (412p) ASIN B079J3YVYS to the arc of Jesus’s life as known through
embodied voices, and disturbing erotic In this formulaic but well-executed the Bible, continually bringing the reader
dreams make the house feel anything but dystopian fantasy, which opens the Vale back to the everyday realities of first-century
welcoming. Zach focuses on repairing the series, Drake Sharazi, a disgraced royal Palestine and the notion that the rationales
classic truck in the barn and on his first guard turned bounty hunter, is tasked with for some decisions (particularly spiritual
romance, but the increasingly strange rescuing the crown prince from a rebel ones) are only known to the individual
behavior of his parents becomes impossible group and becomes entangled in a vast making them. Reaching no real conclusions,
to ignore. Johnson (Droplets) skillfully political conspiracy. Nine years earlier, Berens’s rehashing of scholarship will
brings readers into Gary and Angela’s inner Drake was falsely accused of murder and appeal to those looking for a primer on
thoughts so that their flips between belief exiled from Troi, the capital of Vale and Jesus’s life.
and disbelief, and the ways in which each the only city flourishing in a time of
reacts to the atypical behavior of the other famine. He is called back into the fold when Hacked Minds:
while experiencing the incongruity of Prince Salazar, his former friend, is abducted A Loss of Personal Freedom
increasing compulsions, become terrify- by the radical group Exodus. Drake is Jorge Rudko. J.R, $11.99 trade paper (144p)
ingly relatable. This is an impressive new joined by a revolving rogues’ gallery— ISBN 978-0-9984196-4-0
take on classic horror themes. Bane, a volatile mage; Linx, an adolescent “We are exchanging our minds for the
grifter; and Princess Lenora, with whom he promise of endless convenience and
Thinks Out Loud: A Blog at First had a forbidden affair and for whom he still unmatched accessibility,” argues Rudko in
Martin Perlman. Marrow Books, $14.95 trade pines—as what begins as a simple rescue this short, startling treatise on the ill
paper (366p) ISBN 978-0-9975039-0-6 mission brings to light past betrayals and effects of society’s overreliance on digital
Perlman’s somewhat promising debut ongoing schemes that endanger everyone in technology. Rudko warns that digital tech-
mixes the blogosphere with the story of a Vale. Drake himself is a sympathetic badass, nology is inhibiting creativity, encroaching
man lost in the South Seas. Isaac, the but the minor characters, especially the upon privacy and freedom, and tearing
blogger of “Thinks Out Loud,” decides to women, fall into cliché. The twists and families apart by eroding time together (he
take a sabbatical and leaves his blog in the turns of Anderson’s plot are familiar but describes the average family dinner as a
hands of frequent commenter “tallboy.” capably written; less demanding fantasy bunch people at table preoccupied by their
Isaac then reappears on the blog, claiming fans will find this a perfectly acceptable devices). He urges readers to reflect criti-
to be posting from the small South Pacific work. cally about their own habits, designating
island of Tiaré via inter-island drumming such common behaviors as sleeping with

61e B O O K L I F E , J U LY 3 0 , 2 0 1 8

one’s phone next to the bed or checking it life growing up in the 1950s in the small the right person, along with a trial period
unprompted by a notification as red flags. town of New Bremen, Ohio, is like taking to ensure that the nanny is a good fit. A
His remedy is straightforward: people need a leisurely Sunday drive down a country useful appendix with sample contracts,
to turn off and step away from their devices road. The impetus of his book was a reunion checklists, interview questions, and other
for at least part of the day. Though there’s in his hometown of friends he hadn’t seen important forms rounds out the book. With
merit to some of his observations, his since 1958, “fifty-five years earlier.” The chapters specifically focused on dads and on
alarming tone detracts from his cause (on Road Rebels were teens who, inspired by LGBTQ parents, this primer contains a great
media manipulation: “The modification James Dean and the early days of California deal of practical information for parents
of our brains comes from such deceitful hot-rod car culture, decided to get “some seeking help with an often challenging
tactics, biased data coverage, and false shirts, bumper plaques, and a club name” process.
stereotypes”). There are some good ideas, but to be both “cool and different from all the
many readers may find the overheated manner other teenagers in New Bremen,” as well as The Old Testament Case for
in which they are delivered off-putting. show the town that the Road Rebels “could Nonviolence
be organized and do something important.” Matthew Curtis Fleischer. Epic Octavius the
Humdinger As a group they helped stranded motorists Triumphant, $12.99 trade paper (254p)
Michael A. Malpass. Chicken Man Media, and organized road rallies and car shows. ISBN 978-0-9994306-0-6
$49.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-0-692- Gilberg’s life revolves around the group, as Addressing Christians who struggle
95584-0 well as typical teenage activities like school with reconciling Old Testament images of
Malpass, the oldest child and namesake and dances, but his memoir isn’t a warmed a violent God with New Testament images
of sculptor Michael Malpass (1946–1991), over American Graffiti. He delivers a sympa- of a peaceful Jesus, Fleischer, an attorney,
immortalizes his father’s legacy in this thetic look at his desire to leave his small town argues that God engages in “incremental
beautifully illustrated, reverential tribute. for the bigger world of Ohio State University ethical revelation,” gradually revealing
The author traces his father’s artistic drive where he first hears Joan Baez’s “incredible, Christianity’s nonviolent moral standard.
to his childhood in Yonkers, N.Y., in the late crystal-clear, haunting voice” drifting down Beginning with a comprehensive listing
1940s, through his education at Pratt his apartment hallway. While he ends up in of Old Testament accounts of God commit-
Institute in New York City, to his time in the California designing microcircuits for main- ting or ordering Israel to commit violence,
Vietnam War. The younger Malpass describes frame computer companies, his heart clearly Fleischer acknowledges that humans
how his father infused his art with existential is back in Ohio. Gilberg’s book beautifully throughout millennia have used these sto-
wonders at every stage in his career. The older evokes 1950s small-town America. ries to justify slavery, apartheid, slaughter
Malpass was inspired by the sphere, which of indigenous peoples, and other atrocities.
he called “the most perfect form,” and his The Nanny Manual: Fleischer claims that Israel’s Mosaic Law,
best known sculptures are patchwork metal How to Choose and Nurture compared to contemporaneous ancient
globes (up to five feet in diameter), which he the Perfect Childcare Partner Near Eastern religions, offered significant
welded together from metal scraps, creating Alyce Desrosiers. Chirp, $12.95 trade paper moral advancement in warfare policy,
what he dubbed “humdingers,” “an out- (274p) ISBN 978-0-9815773-0-2 treatment of the disadvantaged, and man-
standing thing of its kind.” Whether finding As Desrosiers admits in the introduction agement of bloodlust. Arguing that God’s
spiritual connection in the spheres, whimsical to her valuable and user-friendly guide- “introductory moral lessons” included
joy in his “chicken men” sculptures, or authen- book, when a friend asked her to help find teaching obedience and trust in God
ticity and psychological depth in his collages childcare in 1996, she was “clueless” about rather than military might and temporarily
and autobiographical drawings, the sculptor how to do this. However, she was determined sanctioning limited violence while leading
expressed his passions for life and family to locate the best nanny in what she found people from retribution to restorative jus-
through the process of creating—which he to be an unregulated and unlicensed tice, Fleischer contends that God’s “end
did until his death at 44 from a heart attack market. Afterward, she founded a childcare goal” was always the revelation of the
when the author was a teenager. This beauti- agency and now provides insights from “universally applicable moral code” of
fully crafted book offers an indelible portrait her 20 years in the business. Desrosiers nonviolence and enemy love preached by
of a sensitive artist, his spirited psyche, and often finds the process of finding childcare Jesus. In a section entitled “Maybe God
his diverse body of work; it is also a son’s an emotionally fraught one for parents, Didn’t Do It,” Fleischer suggests that human
loving homage. identifying five “heartfelt worries” that misinterpretation may be responsible for
mothers in particular often face, namely the violent portrayal of God. While some
The Last Road Rebel and Other trust, being replaced, inadequacy, guilt, biblical scholars may quarrel with Fleischer’s
Lost Stories: Growing Up in a Small and envy or jealousy. While observing that argument for chronological divine revela-
Town—and Never Getting Over It parents often have a gut feeling about a tion, Fleischer makes a strong argument for
Robert Gilberg. True Directions, $20.95 trade particular hire, she encourages them to use a Christian embrace of nonviolence based
paper (354p) ISBN 978-1-4917-5723-9 objective facts as well, and to take enough on both testaments.
First-time author Gilberg’s memoir of time (commonly four to six weeks) to find

B O O K L I F E .C O M 61f
★ Successful College Teaching that follows Erin as she tries to complete all anecdotes about discovering treasure
Begins with Throwing Away Your the items on her new bucket list before she among clutter will inspire readers to not
Lecture Notes turns 35. This list includes getting married only dig through their attic, but maybe
Calvin Luther Martin. K-Selected, $15.75 to and completing a marathon and dance visit some estate and tag sales.
trade paper (154p) ISBN 978-0-9841827-3-2 lessons with longtime boyfriend Ben

Most professors are experts in their field, Bertram. But, as Erin begins to buckle
but woefully inept at the most essential part under the rigors of her life-turned-reality-
of their job—teaching—argues Martin (The show, she begins to suspect that there is a
Way of the Human), a retired history pro- better way to gauge success and happiness Terminal Rage
fessor at Rutgers University, in this astute besides a growing fan base. The chaos A.M. Khalifa, read by Scott Brick. Mavenhill
and idiosyncratic guide to college teaching. mounts and newlywed Erin travels from her Audio, unabridged, digital download, 10.5
Early in his book he describes his technique home in Texas, to Los Angeles where she hrs., $29.99 ASIN B07D5J4H6W
for creating a seating chart and memorizing tapes her shows. Wiedower effectively The audio production of Khalifa’s
the names and faces of every student in a portrays Erin and Ben, and the plight of the twisty thriller begins with a terrorist
class—“I review my name chart... at traffic modern working couple who are devoted to takeover of a Manhattan skyscraper and
lights; while I’m shaving.” His goal in mas- both their relationship and their work but features a spirited reading by Brick.
tering a lecture-hall full of names is “to are unsuccessful in balancing the two. The Former FBI agent Alex Blackwell initially
teach individuals, personalities, real flow of the narrative is, at times, disrupted sounds annoyed as he is dragged from
people.” Content and brilliant scholar- by overworked plot points such as Erin’s retirement to handle a hostage situation
ship—not to mention the instructor’s anxiety about Ben’s clingy female coworker, in a New York City high-rise. His attitude
ego—are secondary concerns to the great and flat descriptions to fill in backstory. shifts to that of a determined professional
teacher, he argues soundly. Over the course However, the playful tone and insightful when Seth, the terrorist leader, demands
of this short book, Martin meanders from observations on relationships and life’s a safe escape and a trade —the kidnapped
topic to topic in a way that is refreshingly changing priorities are entertaining enough daughter of an influential senator for the
off-kilter and personal. He goes from dis- to make for a light and appealing novel. release of two bombers imprisoned in
cussing term papers, which he views as a Egypt. Once the deal is struck and com-
waste of time and energy for both students Why Don’t You Want My Stuff? pleted, Blackwell vows to hunt down
and professor (most students at the college Josh Levine. BookBaby, $16.99 trade paper Seth, and his quest is interrupted by chap-
level can’t write, he says, and unless you’re (132p) ISBN 978-1-5439-2199-1 ters featuring Sam Morgan, a Southern
leading a writing seminar, it’s not your duty Levine, owner and founder of J. Levine California software developer who’s lured
to teach them) to describing a lecture he Auction & Appraisal in Scottsdale, Ariz., to a new job in New York City. The way
conducted for more than an hour in the dark shares two decades worth of wisdom the stories connect is clever and shocking.
during a power outage, in which not a regarding antiques and collectibles in this The plot hops around the globe, giving
single student left or said a word. His breezy and informative guidebook. While Brick’s international accents a workout—
point is that teachers need to establish a reality shows like Antiques Roadshow extoll from credible Australian, Egyptian, and
connection with their students to keep the virtues and sometimes extraordinary German accents to a questionable
them truly engaged in learning. The book value of decades-old furniture and Caribbean one. Brick’s clipped, precise
serves as evidence that Martin practices ephemera, Levine shares a harsh reality: in performance smooths out some rough
what he preaches: It feels like light reading, many cases, nobody wants it. The current spots in Khalifa’s prose and, more impor-
yet the message is deep and thoughtful. “buying generations,” with differing tantly, makes the most of the surprising
interests and lifestyles, along with shifting finale. The result is a totally satisfying
This Is 35 tastes, has resulted in once-pricey items like audiobook. A Mavenhill paperback.
Stacey Wiedower. Gemma Halliday Publishing, china and toy trains dropping dramatically

$11.99 trade paper (302p) ISBN 978-1-5410- in value. Levine has yet to meet a Gen Xer
9668-4 who collects Hummel figurines—most
On the brink of her 35th birthday, a don’t even know what they are, he writes—
reality TV show coproducer and actress but vintage watches and pens are hot right Road Whiz
reexamines her existence and goals in now, as are Star Wars toys and Chinese Darcy Pattison. Mims House, $5.99 e-book
Wiedower’s humorous and touching antiques. Levine argues that the key to (178p) ISBN 978-1-62944-098-9
romantic novel. Before she turned 30, Erin succeeding as a collector is patience, an eye Jamie Kruger hates being so big, towering
Crawford completed a bucket list that for quality, the ability to recognize the above the other eighth-grade students at
included “start a blog.” The popularity of cyclical nature of collectibles, and knowing his Arkansas middle school. He’s growing
this blog and bucket list leads to Erin when to sell before the market cools. constantly, hungry all the time, and bullied
becoming the successful co-executive Levine’s insights into antiques economics by other kids, especially rival Chan
producer-turned star on YOLO, a TV show along with his terrific needle-in-a-haystack Maxwell. Jamie’s father, who travels for

61g B O O K L I F E , J U LY 3 0 , 2 0 1 8

long stretches of time, doesn’t notice Charlie Sparrow and the Secret of
Jamie’s growth or isolation, and his mother Flight: Tales of Tree City, Book 1
is sad about her husband’s most recent D.F. Anderson, illus. by Daniel McCloskey.
work assignment: a year or more in Poland. Underdog, $9.95 paper (86p) ISBN 978-0-
To help allay the physical and emotional toll 9918003-5-3
of being on their own, Jamie and his mom Anderson’s buoyant, if slight, chapter
start running together. Meanwhile, grey- book is set in Tree City, where sparrows are
hound Road Whiz’s racing days are over; flightless and rely on a system of elaborate
when Forever Homes for Greyhounds visits staircases to ascend into trees. When the
Jamie’s school, Jamie persuades his mom to titular young sparrow, Charlie, discovers
adopt the retired dog. Everyday life remains that he can fly after an accidental fall, his
a challenge, however, until a Thanksgiving concerned parents take him to see Dr.
Turkey Trot teaches Jamie and his family Nightingale, who declares that Charlie suf-
about love, understanding, and what’s truly fers from “Leaping Syndrome,” or “the Leap,”
important. Pattison (the Blue Planets World which causes him to exhibit “an extreme and
series) attempts to connect worthy themes dangerous urge to leap off things.” The only
of alienation, bullying, competition, cure, Dr. Nightingale suggests, is to
friendship, and family relationships into a remove Charlie’s feathers. Charlie escapes
coming-of-age story, but a lack of focus and discovers a community of other birds
results in a missed opportunity to make a with similar abilities who consider the love
strong point. Ages 10–12. of leaping to be something fun and entirely
organic. Anderson offers a fast-moving
A Yorkie’s Tale: story with an allegorical feel that touches
Lessons from a Life Well-Lived on themes of fitting in, embracing differ-
David L. Heaney, illus. by Alexandra Tatu. ences, and finding like-minded friends.
CreateSpace, $19.99 paper (150p) ISBN 978- McCloskey illustrates in pared-down line
1-9759-9132-6 art that captures the personalities of the bird
Heaney’s contemplative novel centers characters, who return in a sequel, Charlie
on a cast of endearingly self-aware anthro- Sparrow and the Book of Flight. Ages 6–9.
pomorphic animals who face significant
questions about life’s meaning. Niles, an
elderly Yorkshire terrier, leads a carefree life
with his human owners (“Mama” and
“MAN”)—until he meets fruit rat (not a
“common trash rat”) Nathaniel, who has
witnessed something troubling: a family
burying a cat in the ground. Knowing
nothing of death, Niles and Nathaniel are
educated on the matter by a knowledgeable
possum named Leach. The animals embark
on a journey to the sea, along the way
encountering animals that impart powerful
lessons about living mindfully and making
peace with death. Throughout the story,
Niles is visited by the spirit of a deceased
cat, Deheune, who hints at a greater purpose
in life—or perhaps beyond it: “Stay true to
your quest now, but these words ne’er dis-
miss./ The life you were meant for is/ Not
this, not this.” Heaney offers wisdom, poetry,
and humor in his narrative. His distinctive
animal characters—pictured in Tatu’s
expressive watercolors—will resonate with
middle grade readers. Ages 9–12.

B O O K L I F E .C O M 61h