FE B RUARY 2017

Your guide to self-publishing
Going Indie for Female Superheroes • Book Cover Redesign
• First Lines from BookLife Authors
• Ask the Editor with Betty Kelly Sargent • 148 New Titles Listed

The
World
Needs
More
Sheroes
Publishing and
promoting a
graphic novel
BY JENNIFER MCCARTNEY

L
aunching a superhero fran-
chise is a lot of work. The
author Shequeta Smith not
only created the black female
superhero Rayven Choi but also
Smith’s superhero self-published two graphic novels
Rayven Choi, from the featuring Choi under her Shero
cover of the first issue of Comics imprint, directed a trailer
the eponymous series for the series, and launched the
second book at Los Angeles Comic

W W W. P U B L I S H E R SW E E K LY.C O M 41
INDIE SUCCESS
Con. Smith was inspired to create writing and directing; her short
her own superhero after a trip to The Gestapo vs. Granny was a
a local comic book store in L.A. finalist in HBO’s Project Greenlight
“I had trouble finding any books competition in 2015. She planned
with a black woman on the cover,” to use the trailer to introduce
says the North Carolina native. comic book fans to the series.
So, she decided to create one. Smith has since expanded that
“Women make up like 46% of comic effort into a short 14-minute film.
book readers, so it’s a no brainer “I really thought that having a
that we should be creating these great trailer would help push book
stories,” Smith says. sales, but that hasn’t happened,
The learning curve for self- at least so far,” she says. The dis-
publishing a graphic novel is steep. crepancy between trailer views
After writing the first book of her and book sales is something that
planned six-part series and col- Smith hasn’t figured out yet—
laborating with artists, colorists, although she says she often gets
and letterers, Smith was ready inquiries from readers and view-
for the publishing process. One ers wondering about a feature-
of the surprises was learning that The movie poster for the Rayven length film.
the print and digital editions of Choi short film Next came outreach to real
her book required different types comic book enthusiasts, which
of formatting: color printing able to address any issues that meant launching the second book
requires files in CMYK mode, and we may have overlooked,” Smith at Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic
digital requires RGB. This meant says. She opted for Texas-based Con in October. Smith says the
a last-minute scramble to reformat Litho Ninja, which does just that. response was encouraging, par-
the digital edition. Choosing how Smith then hand-sold the printed ticularly from women readers.
to publish the print edition was books into traditional comic book She recalls meeting a group of
another consideration. Publishing stores around her home in Los girls who were on the hunt for
in color on CreateSpace was too Angeles, as well as more unusual female superhero characters, but
costly, says Smith. Plus, she felt outlets. “I have books for sale in who were discouraged to discover
that the platform catered to black- pharmacies and newsstands and the creators were all men. “Their
and-white, text-based publications even in women’s beauty supply question was: where are the
rather than graphic novels. stores,” she says. women who are creating these
“I wanted to find a company The first step in her publicity strong female characters?” Smith
that specialized in printing com- plan was a trailer for the series. says. “By the time they arrived
ics since I felt like they would be Smith already had experience at my table, they were both excited
and relieved to find a woman who
was telling a story about a strong
and powerful woman.”
Smith has also sent copies of
her book to authors she admires,
as well as to public figures such
as Michelle Obama. “My strategy
for Rayven Choi is to turn her
story into a property that is just
as big as a Hunger Games or
Divergent,” Smith says. ■

Jennifer McCartney is a free-
lance writer, editor, and the
Covers and back covers from Smith’s Rayven Choi series
author of the novel Afloat.

42 B O O K L I F E , F E B R UA RY 2 7 , 2 0 1 7
Behind the Great Firewall of
China, there are secrets people
will kill to keep..

ISBN-10: 0 9 8 6 3 9 6 2 6 5
Contact Dscottj431@gmail.com
Weam Namou,
a Babylonian Storyteller
in America

B
orn in Baghdad, the fabled city of the touches on a number of important issues that
Arabian Nights, Weam Namou weaves a are robbing American families of living the
multitude of experiences and impressions American dream.
into her twelve books. An award-winning author,
Namou grew up as a minority Christian in a During the process of writing The Great
Muslim country. Her family endured Saddam’s American Family, Namou discovered to her
totalitarian regime until, when she was a child, dismay that she’d lost her literary voice. She
they fled to the United States for a better life. decided to call bestselling author and mystic
Once in America, Namou was again a minority Lynn Andrews for some literary advice. What
and had difficulty fitting in and finding her voice. was supposed to be a one-hour conversation led
Namou to Lynn’s four-year shamanic school,
The Great American Family: A Story of Political where she would realize, among many things,
Disenchantment is the most challenging book what role her oppressive birth country played
Namou has written to date, because it revolves in muffling her ability to write her truth. Lynn’s
around a local political case that made her feel ancient teachings helped Namou heal as a
uneasy, reminding her of the authoritarian woman, wife, mother, and author. Suddenly,
government of her birth country. The book words began to flow easily and energetically
took six years to complete, and in it she writes, to where she wrote a four-book memoir series
“We came here for America’s freedoms. As an about her experience in Lynn’s school. The four-
immigrant, I saw through the Dawn Hanna case book memoir series is called Healing Wisdom
how we are losing the very things we came here for a Wounded World: My Life-Changing Journey
for.” Through the lens of a single case, Namou Through a Shamanic School (Book 1, 2, 3, 4).

Available wherever books and ebooks are sold

For more details, visit www.weamnamou.com
Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World: Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World:
My Life-Changing Journey Through My Life-Changing Journey Through
a Shamanic School (Book 1) a Shamanic School (Book 2)
Namou recounts her life-changing journey through In Book 2, Namou embarks on a deep transformation
author and mystic Lynn V. Andrew’s four-year process. The school’s focus for the second year is to
shamanic school. The first year largely focuses on the understand how to bring form into the world.
Mother Energies and the Sacred Wheel.

ISBN: 978-0977679041 ISBN: 978-1945371998
Memoir (341 pages) $15.00 Memoir (328 pages) $15.00
Read PW’s reviews: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-9776790-3-4 Read PW’s review: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-945371-99-8

Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World: My Healing Wisdom for a Wounded World: My Life-
Life-Changing Journey Through a Shamanic Changing Journey Through a Shamanic School
School (Book 3) (Book 4)
Book 3 interweaves teachings that focus on In Book 4, Namou reveals the key experiences of her
balancing one’s emotions, building endurance, final year as an apprentice. This year is about coming
working deeply with the chakra systems, and full circle, the completion/creation cycle.
celebrating the marriage of self to self.

ISBN: 978-1945371974 ISBN: 978-1945371943
Memoir (220 pages) $15.00 Memoir (198 pages) $15.00

The Great American Family: A Story of The Flavor of Cultures
Political Disenchantment A young woman is torn between her Iraqi heritage and
Through the lens of a single political case, Namou the land of freedom and opportunity. She then meets
touches on a number of important issues that her perfect suitor, but their romance brings along
are robbing American families from living the multiple complications, eventually escorting her to the
American dream. discovery of unexpected cultures and beliefs.

ISBN: 978-0977679058 ISBN: 978-0975295663
Nonfiction (294 pages) $15.00 Fiction (268 pages) $13.95

Iraqi Americans: The War Generation Iraqi Americans: Witnessing a Genocide
A collection of 36 articles, written over eight years, This full-color book looks at how the genocide
which paint a picture of Iraqi Americans’ political against the Iraqi Christians affected the
and social situation and their struggles. This full- Christians living in other parts of the world.
color book has a large focus on Christianity and the Their perspectives, told through personal stories,
biblical city of Nineveh. have sentiments and information not found in
mainstream media.

ISBN: 978-0977679096 ISBN: 978-0977679072
Nonfiction (238 pages) $30.00 Nonfiction (134 pages) $17.95

Iraqi Americans: The Lives of the Artists I Am a Mute Iraqi with a Voice
A full-color book about the lives of 16 American A collection of 76 poems, which the Pea River
artists of Mesopotamian ancestry. They followed Journal describes as “A startling call to memory
their passions and found ways to showcase their and mourning for an Iraq that is ‘dead,’ an ululation
work despite any and all challenges, thus becoming for all that is lost in war after war after war.”
victors, rather than victims, over their lives.

ISBN: 978-0977679010 ISBN: 978-0975295694
Nonfiction (176 pages) $22.95 Poetry (126 pages) $12.00

The Feminine Art The Mismatched Braid
A married woman distracts herself from boredom An Iraqi refuge living in Athens falls in love with his
by trying to find her nephew a wife from the Middle American cousin who spends a semester in Greece.
East. The process challenges her to face the truths His struggles to win her love and his attempts to make
within herself that had been kept hidden behind it to America lead him to his adulthood.
tradition and illusion.

ISBN: 978-0975295625 ISBN: 978-0977679003
Fiction (238 pages) $13.95 Fiction (244 pages) $13.95
COVER ART

Cover Redesign
This month, Deborah Bradseth at Tugboat Design
reimagines the cover of Rozsa Gaston’s romance
Dog Sitters. See Bradseth’s new cover art and design
notes below.
To submit your book for a free cover redesign, email us at Original Cover
booklifeeditor@booklife.com.
The original Movement in
cover lacked design helps
a focal point direct attention.
and elements The line
competed for extending from
attention. In the s draws the
redesign, the eye to the subtitle,
title became silhouettes, and
the focal point. author name.
The movement
within the
silhouettes draws
the eye to the
title, sky, and
blurb.
A rookie
mistake is the
use of drop
shadow on text.
The original
The happy
design used it,
couple and
but the redesign
dog let readers
does not—and
know the book’s
it’s not only
genre and tone.
readable at
You know it’s a
thumbnail size,
sweet romance
but eye catching
and the dog plays
as well.
an important
role.

46 B O O K L I F E , F E B R UA RY 2 7 , 2 0 1 7
COVER DESIGN

11 Tips for
Successfully Working
With a Cover Designer
For self-publishing success, a cover
design must be professional—and it
must be a priority
BY JOEL FRIEDLANDER Joel Friedlander

P
ublishing professionals a professional designer will raise that is attractive to the readers
advise self-publishers to your odds of getting the cover in your niche, category, or genre—
focus on editing and cover you want without misunderstand- and one that does a good job of
design to ensure that their books ings that can lead to unexpected selling your book. That’s usually
have the greatest chance of suc- costs and delays. going to mean hiring a profes-
cess. Knowing how to work with You want a cover for your book sional designer.

B O O K L I F E .C O M 47
COVER DESIGN
And you want a professional logo, if you have one; sure designers understand and
book cover designer, not just a ✻ a description of the reader- have worked in your genre, cat-
good graphic artist, your nephew ship for your book; egory, or niche.
who took an art class in college, ✻ book covers in your category 2) Make sure the designer’s fee
or your friend who loves to paint that you like, and ones you don’t is within your budget.
and draw. Book cover design is a like. 3) If you need to have the work
specialty, and even skilled graphic completed by a specific date,
designers who haven’t worked in Keep in mind that designers vary communicate that at the
book publishing may not be good in their specialties. Some only do beginning of the project—and
choices for this crucial task. book covers, some only interiors, ask the designer to agree to
Here are some tips on finding and some do both. Designers with your schedule.
and working with a professional a studio and a staff will also be
4) Review the designer’s con-
book cover designer. You should able to create a website, handle
tract or the agreement under
be prepared to provide your your printing, and supply you with
which the work will be done.
designer with: other graphics for your book pro-
motion needs. If you find a designer 5) Let your designer know
exactly what you’ll need besides
✻ your manuscript, even if it who can do it all for you, you’ll
isn’t finished; save yourself a lot of time and the front cover.
✻ the final title and subtitle trouble coordinating the work of 6) Review the formats that you
for your book; several different people. would like to receive your cover
✻ your name as you’d like it to in when it’s done: PDF for
appear on the cover; Tips for Success uploading to print-on-demand
✻ your publishing company 1) Check portfolios to make vendors, a JPG of the front

Murder
In All
LE
AVAILAB CK
Honour
RBA A NEW ACTON & DOYLE MYSTERY BY
IN PAPE LE
& KIND ANNE CLEELAND
Things are a bit grim, this Christmas, at Scotland Yard. On the heels of a nasty
corruption scandal, the CID must now contend with a killer who is murdering
pregnant women, so as to steal their babies. Acton doesn’t want Doyle
anywhere near this case, of course, but she can’t shake the feeling
that there is more to his concern than his usual over-protectiveness—
and more to this case than the usual psycho killer.

LEARN MORE ANNECLEELAND.COM
ISBN / 978-0998595603 PAGES / 291 DISTRIBUTOR / Amazon and Baker and Taylor
AVAILABLE MARCH 1 ON

48 B O O K L I F E , F E B R UA RY 2 7 , 2 0 1 7
COVER DESIGN
cover for e-book retailers, a In short, as you are now a book designers and other vendors. It
high-resolution file, and so on. publisher in addition to being will pay off for you as you con-
7) Supply the designer with an author, you’ll want to take a tinue to grow your publishing
necessary background material. businesslike approach to hiring business. ■
(See the list above.)
8) Give the designer photos or Joel Friedlander is a book designer and author; he blogs about
drawings that you think will be book design, marketing, and the future of the book at the
useful as background or visual Book Designer.
inspirations.
9) Don’t dictate what elements
the designer should use—that’s
why you hired a pro!
10) Talk over the various
approaches to your cover when
the designer provides you with
samples.
11) Remember that you and
your designer are collaborators
by Keith Julius
trying to reach the best approach
to packaging your book for sale.

Contracts and
Agreements
Although many indie authors
“ A GRITTY NOVEL THAT UNFLINCHINGLY
DEPICTS THE RAVAGES OF DRUG ABUSE.
“THIS IS A HEARTBREAKING BUT AUTHENTICALLY REALISTIC STORY, TOLD “
skip this step, it is wise to have WITHOUT PROSELYTIZING EMBELLISHMENT.”
a written agreement with your
“THE PROSE IS CLEAR AND SOMETIMES HAUNTING....”
designer that addresses what
exact work is to be done, how
much it will cost, how payments
will be made, how parties can
cancel the contract if they wish,
and who owns the artwork used
to create the cover, as well as
what files the designer will
COMING
deliver. You may need access to A P R I L
2017
these files later, so be sure your
designer agrees to make them
available.
Negotiating a contract may seem
embarrassing at first, but it can
save a lot of heartache and expense
later if your project doesn’t turn YOUNG MOTHER ALEISHA WHAT SEEMS TO BE A CASE AFTER WITNESSING THE
out the way you expect. (This also TURNER OVERDOSES ON OF CHILD ABUSE HIDES A TRAGIC DEATH OF HER
HEROIN, THROWING HER SECRET THAT THREATENS BROTHER 15 YEAR OLD
applies to interior designers, for- LIFE INTO TURMOIL. SHE TO TEAR A HOUSEHOLD ROSALETTA GUITERREZ
STRUGGLES TO KEEP HER APART, TESTING THE RUNS AWAY. BUT ESCAPE
matters, photographers, models, FAMILY TOGETHER AND BONDS OF FAMILY AND BECOMES A NIGHTMARE
and illustrators—in other words, RESTORE NORMALCY TO
HER LIFE.
THE STRENGTH OF FAITH. SHE COULD HAVE NEVER
ANTICIPATED.
ANT
you need a contract or a letter of
agreement with anyone who is
creating something to be used in
your book.)

B O O K L I F E .C O M 49
FIRST LINES

First Lines Plagued
BETTER HERO ARMY
It took an insane kind of bravery to
A monthly look at some of the best hunt zombies.
opening lines from titles by BookLife
authors Jestus on Rampage
V.S. SURY
This month, we’ve got zombies, poisoners, outlaws, In a battle between the logical and the
and a whole lot more. To submit your first line to illogical, the illogical invariably wins
BookLife, email booklifeeditor@booklife.com. the day.

The Apocalypse Men The Dangerous Summer of Jesse
JOHN CHENEY Turner
The world was melting. D.C. REEP AND E.A. ALLEN
Everybody knew I was an outlaw’s kid.

Beyond Every Mirror The Lady and the Mountain Man
CHRISTINE CHURCH MISTY BELLER
His day was going great—until he Are you going to poison her the way
BOOKWORKS_HALF_H_0715_Layouthe
discovered was dead.
1 7/24/15 10:12 AM Page 1 you killed your last wife?

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.

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bookworks.com
WRITING ADVICE

Ask not like action heroes. But I’ve
received negative comments
or just human? Or maybe your
story is about a Nobel Prize–win-

the
about one character, who was ning professor from MIT who keeps
described as weak and stupid. forgetting to turn off the burner
—Kish Knight under his coffee pot. Is that stupid,

Editer Always trust your instincts. Do
you think your character’s behav-
or a touching symptom of the
failing memory of a brilliant man?
Who is this character? What do
A veteran editor ior is stupid and makes her appear
weak? And what if she does appear
you want from her? What do you
want the reader to feel about her?
answers your weak? What if she is weak in some
situations? Is that so terrible? A
If you feel your critic made a valid
point, then do your best to respond
writing questions character’s vulnerability is usually to it. But if your gut tells you that
what causes readers to bond with the actions you describe simply
BY BETTY KELLY SARGENT that character. Even James Bond add to your character’s complex-
had his soft spots. ity, making her struggle more
Dear Editor: Let’s say your story is about how sympathetic to the reader, then
a neglected child from Detroit stick with it. ■
How do I build compassion and learned to overcome her fear of If you have a question for the
realistic insecurities into my main water to become the first American editor, email Betty Sargent at
character without having her come woman to win an Olympic gold booklifeeditor@booklife.com.
across as whiny, weak, or irritat- medal in swimming. Does that
ing? I like to create characters who fear make her weak or just human?
react as everyday people would, Does any fear make a person weak,

ROBERT NWADIARU PRESENTS

NIGERIA:
A FAILED STATE
Americans who know Nigeria mainly for its Islamic Boko
Haram terrorists and internet scams will find this book an
informative guide to the country’s larger discontents.

“Political repression, rampant corruption, ethnic and sectarian
strife, crumbling infrastructure, energy shortages, and an economy
hooked on oil and mining all make Africa’s most populous country
a basket case, according to this hard-hitting jeremiad. An impas-
sioned, eye-opening take on a critical African nation.”
–KIRKUS REVIEWS

ISBN / 978-1632689276 Pages / 300 Publisher and Distributor / Tate Publishing

AVAILABLE ON

ORDER NOW RobertNwadiaru14.tateauthor.com

B O O K L I F E .C O M 51
BOOKS TO WATCH

Scouting Report
In this month’s roundup of the best-reviewed self-published
titles, we highlight a resource for the wives of wounded
warriors and a horror novel about a resurrected metal band,
as well as a romance, a thriller, and some literary fiction.

★ Banshees Wounded Warrior,
MIKE BARON Wounded Wife
BARBARA K. MCNALLY
Plot: In Baron’s horror
novel, when the dead mem- Plot: Physical therapist
bers of a notorious satanic McNally’s stories describe
metal band return to life the bitter joy that comes
and the stage, the son with being a wife of a
of the group’s drummer wounded military service
teams up with a reporter member.
to uncover the grisly truth. PW’s Takeaway: After more
PW’s Takeaway: Horror buffs and metal fans will than a decade of Americans fighting battles on
marvel at every grinding detail in this meaty, multiple fronts, this is a deeply necessary and
grim fantasy. poignant offering.
Comparable Titles: The Armageddon Rag, Comparable Titles: Once a Warrior Always a
The Returned Warrior, Afterwar, What Have We Done
Sample Line: “There was no escaping the ban- Sample Line: “Walking away from your partner
shee screams, a high-pitched atavistic vibration can feel like a profound betrayal, but sometimes
that shook the spine like a rag doll.” it’s the only choice that remains.”
Read the review: Read the review:
publishersweekly.com/9781614753940 publishersweekly.com/9781633932876

The Coming Out The Hunting
Dining Car SEVEN SLADE Ground
ERIC PETERSON Plot: This comedy JEAN HELLER
Plot: A football star of sexual misinter- Plot: Chicago jour-
turned dining pretation follows nalist Deuce Mora
car bartender lifelong friends investigates the
journeys across as they navigate mystery surround-
the country and finds himself. love and sexuality in their small ing a child trafficking ring.
PW’s Takeaway: Inspires dreams hometown. PW’s Takeaway: Heller crafts a
of savoring decadently elaborate PW’s Takeaway: Bittersweet fun... tightly constructed mystery
foods and drinking fine wines This charming story will win featuring a protagonist of
and specialty cocktails. readers’ hearts. tremendous empathy.
Comparable Titles: The Nero Wolfe Comparable Titles: Losing It Comparable Titles: Red Wolf,
series Read the review: publishers- Behind Closed Doors
Read the review: publishers- weekly.com/9780986146541 Read the review: publishers-
weekly.com/9780982486009 weekly.com/9780692779613

52 B O O K L I F E , F E B R UA RY 2 7 , 2 0 1 7
PAID LISTINGS

New Titles from
Self-Publishers
Booksellers, publishers, librarians, and agents are encouraged to look at the 148
self-published titles below, with descriptions provided by their authors. Some of these
writers are waiting to be discovered; others have a track record and a following 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 disaster, and two a complex conspiracy of interstellar
Best Laid Plans & Other Disasters immigrants. Where proportions. Will she uncover the truth
Amy Rivers. Wooden Pants Publishing. will all this lead? Earth of the crimes?
$12.99 paper (235p), faces destruction and
ISBN 978-0-692- awaits the path for Death of the Republic
81780-3 survival. Anthony Fielek. Xlibris. $19.99 paper (166p),
Amazon, Kobo ISBN 978-1-5144-
A year after Gwen is A Couple with Common Cents: 2338-7; $3.99 e-book,
elected mayor, her A Short Story About Abundant Hope ASIN B018DE8EUM
career and life are fully in Your Family Finances Amazon
on track. But the unex- Ryan Eidson. Morgan A plebeian boy seeks
pected turns everything topsy-turvy, James Publishing. justice for his family
forcing Gwen to reexamine her carefully $12.95 paper (108p), while trying to cut
planned life. ISBN 978-1-63047- through the fog of
712-7; $9.99 e-book, avarice, double-dealing, deceit, corrup-
The Call of Destiny: ISBN 978-1-63047- tion, and bloodshed as the old republic
Secrets of the Lost Scrolls 713-4 dissolves.
John J. Pietrangelo. Amazon, BN.com, Books-
Bhakti Publishing. $20 A-Million, IndieBound Drinking the Knock Water:
paper (512p), ISBN 978- How do young parents resolve conflicts A New Age Pilgrimage
1-5399-6668-5 about money? Tabitha and Jack can’t Emily Kemme. Arrowhead
Thecallofdestiny.net, agree how to handle their finances in Publishing. $26.99 hard-
Amazon this realistic fiction story. Includes study cover (288p), ISBN 978-
Destiny finds twin guide for application. 0-9837401-2-4
brothers faced with Amazon, Apple iBooks
the challenge to “Repair My Church,” Cryogen, Mars: An Interplanetary Topics of infertility,
which is falling into ruin. When all is said Espionage and Murder Mystery religion, mental health
and done, will they triumph in the face of Kevin Owens. and abortion direct an
enormous odds? AuthorHouse. $23.95 emotional pilgrimage through the rela-
paper (390p), ISBN 978- tionships that make us who we are.
Code Name: Zeus 1-4918-3238-7; $3.99
Gary Andersen. Xlibris. $19.99 paper (298p), e-book, ASIN Faulty Bones
ISBN 978-1-5144-1738-6; $3.99 e-book, B00HFR3HAG J.M. Fraser. Natalyn Press. $12.95 paper
ISBN 978-1-5144-1737-9 Amazon (256p), ISBN 978-1-946464-00-2
Amazon A series of deaths Amazon
A secret project, a major worldwide thrusts media journalist Terra Antoni into Two desperate card players, lured by

B O O K L I F E .C O M 53
PAID LISTINGS

PW SELECT LISTINGS
counterfeit chips and Amazon, Apple iBooks, Joe’s Tap: The Story of Maurine and
black magic, find Audible, BN.com, Google Tales of the Other Cape May
mystery, humor, fan- Play, Kobo K. Lee Washington.
tasy, and romance in Betty Grafton tells the iUniverse. $15.95 paper
the seedy underbelly tale of how an unlikely (176p), ISBN 978-1-
of New Orleans. friendship during the 4759-5127-1; $3.99
civil rights struggle in e-book, ISBN 978-1-
Fenian’s Trace the 1960s shaped her 4759-5129-5
Sean P. Mahoney. Fenian Productions. $9.99 into the woman she is today. Amazon
paper (238p), ISBN 978-0-9983207-0-0; Growing up above a
$19.95 audio, narrated The Game Changer racially integrated local pub in 1950s
by Liam Carney, Dave Dröge. MVO Productions. $12.95 paper and ’60s America, Maurine Finch will
ASIN B01N2JUY2G (384p), ISBN 978-1- take the lessons she learned into school
Audible, Amazon, Apple 5190-8808-6; $9.99 and beyond, trying to find comfort in her
iBooks, BN.com e-book, ASIN own skin.
Mr. Clancy tells of two B01N5CQY1A
lads raised as broth- Amazon Last Things
ers during the rebel Henk van Wijnen- Betta Ferrendelli.
days of early 1900s Ireland who take a Swarttouw, a born CreateSpace.
fancy to the same girl—a story of secrets entrepreneur and $2.99 e-book,
and sacrifice, loyalty and love. self-made man, gets in trouble when ASIN B01N9AQ459
his daughter, Julia, becomes famous in Amazon
A Fine How Do You Do the art world as a performance artist. Bridgette Connor and
Patty Dickson. iUniverse. $20.95 paper Alexis Parker—they
(372p), ISBN 978-1-4917-9822-5; $3.99 Hunter’s Daughter are different and they are the same. A
e-book, ISBN 978-1- Nowick Gray. Five Rivers Publishing. $29.99 story of love and of loss and above all,
4917-9821-8 paper (302p), ISBN 978- a story of friendship.
Amazon 1-927400-77-7; $4.99
Eric had no idea what e-book, ISBN 978-1- Let the Glory Pass Away
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INDIE AUTHORS
the Light Trilogy. Noa 5245-2940-6
of Publishers Weekly and Callum share a Amazon
from Publishers Weekly
to assist indie authors
dangerous secret and An introductory book to
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INDIE AUTHORS
other indie authors
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in Publishers Weekly Bethlehem is fascinat-
ing, and the many the-
Hailey is supposed to
share during circle
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Support for Fullertown may have Amazon, BN.com, Books-A-Million

INDIE AUTHORS had a hardscrabble
past, but it was never
A little boy’s imagina-
tion has gone wild,
from Publishers Weekly in short supply of and he is overcome
reasons to smile. by fear. As told in
A Yankee storyteller verse, accompanied
describes Pilgrim by his father, the child
descendants with wit, warmth, and faces and then over-
whimsy. comes each one. ■

booklife.com
REVIEWS

Fiction
tive, super-sexy hottie who’d like to see her he only narrowly escapes. The reanimated
stick around has her thinking that maybe Banshees attract a cult following. Each gig
she can come home again. Ballard’s snappy results in the death or disappearance of
1% Free dialogue and endearingly eccentric charac- someone in the crowd, and soon Ian is lured
G.A. Matiasz. 62 Mile, $18.95 trade paper ters will win over readers and have them into helping ambitious reporter Connie
(468p) ISBN 978-0-9977054-3-0 flying to the next installment. Cosgrove score the story of a lifetime. Baron’s
In this middling cyberpunk noir novel, smart dialogue propels his globe-trotting
a private investigator and a salvager face off Arms of Promise characters along in a charismatic ballad of
against an alien menace. San Francisco PI Crystal Walton. Impact Editions, $2.99 e-book carnage. Horror buffs and metal fans will
Jimmy Hidalgo finds out that an old friend (249p) ASIN B01HVLH1MU marvel at every grinding detail in this
has been murdered on the same day that an Walton’s chaste contemporary piles on meaty, grim fantasy.
alien hires him to find a missing operative, the bathos, as willful Annabelle Madison
a cloned human spy who’s gone rogue. In struggles to make her own way as a profes- Beneath the Blackberry Moon:
the no-man’s-land beyond L.A., Becky Wiley sional dancer despite her Chicago DA father’s The Red Feather
picks up a mysterious piece of salvage, insistence that she move back home and April W. Gardner. Big Spring, $12.99 trade
drawing unwelcome attention from the pursue a sensible career. Worse than land- paper (442p) ISBN 978-0-692-60333-8
LAPD and FBI. The extensive world- lords and creditors breathing down her neck Gardner sets the first of her three-book
building and character backstories pad out is the physical threat of a merciless gangster Creek Country Saga series in Alabama amid
an otherwise meager plot while also dis- kingpin’s goons. He’s about to face Anna’s the historical conflicts between Native
tracting from it. Matiasz (End Time) has father in a life-or-death trial and has put out Americans and white settlers during the
crafted a world that’s a hotbed of political a contract on the DA’s family. Enter lifelong War of 1812. The McGirth family has lived
intrigues and ideologies, where war sim- family friend Evan O’Riley, a former Army peacefully among the Creeks for years, but,
mers on the horizon. The narrative slowly Ranger who’s tasked with guarding Anna after a brief encounter between middle
winds through a labyrinth of tangents and even though she’s determined to dodge him daughter Adela and a band of Creeks trans-
“Interstitial Materials,” a reading list from at every turn. Walton shines at making both porting weapons, the family seeks refuge at
an alternate timeline. The uneven pacing characters lovable through their interactions Fort Mims. Compelled by honor and duty,
makes skimming a necessity for all but with children and family, but falls short the McGirths’ once-adopted son Nokose, a
die-hard worldbuilding enthusiasts. This when it comes to bringing Evan and Anna Creek tribe member who has returned to his
diverse, complex setting feels better suited together. Despite obvious, highly charged roots, and his brother-in-law Totka, partici-
to an RPG than a novel. sexual attraction, it seems like they’ll never pate in the Fort Mims massacre. Nokose
find their way into each other’s arms. This rescues the surviving McGirths, bringing
Alaska Virgin Air one is for romance fans willing to overlook them back to his village as slaves. Totka
Izzy Ballard. 40 Below Ink, $12.50 paper a few plot contrivances so they can read is soon given responsibility for Adela.
(304p) ISBN 978-0-9818267-0-7 about an adorable couple. Struggling with an undeniable attraction to
Fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum a man who does not share her religious
will find a kindred spirit in reticent clair- ★ Banshees beliefs and who is holding her captive,
voyant Abbey Vertuccio, the beleaguered Mike Baron. Wordfire, $16.99 trade paper Adela often gives Totka hope that she will
heroine of Ballard’s charmingly sassy AVA (416p) ISBN 978-1-61475-394-0 acquiesce and become his wife. She then
series. Traveling the country in a past-its- Veteran comics writer Baron (Nexus) repeatedly dashes those hopes. While por-
prime RV ever since her pilot ex-husband slays with this epic and brutal novel. A new trayed as a scalp-collecting heathen, Totka
crash-landed in another woman’s bed, band with the look and sound of an old remains a more sympathetic character than
nomadic Abbey’s visit to her outspoken and satanic metal group called the Banshees the Christian settlers. Despite an extensive
oversexed mom on Long Beach Island, N.J., blazes onto the music scene decades after narrative, Gardner does not resolve the rela-
is cut short when Grandma Luna calls the the original trio died in a plane crash. A tionship between Adela and Totka in this
itinerant psychic back home to save the concert flyer leads impoverished musician installment, making the next book required
family airline in Fairbanks, Ala.—the last Ian St. James, the son of the Banshees’ reading for those seeking closure.
place Abbey wants to be. But even as Abbey drummer, from a hangover in his Prague hotel
plots her next great escape—while juggling room to the shocking discovery of his long- Chiaroscuro:
corporate spies, would-be killers, a suspi- dead rock star father performing with the rest The Mouse and the Candle
ciously repentant ex, and a vision-inducing of the Banshees at a Czech club. He demands Matthew Cox. Curiosity Quills, $18.99 trade
old photograph her suddenly tight-lipped to see his father but ends up drugged and paper (332p) ISBN 978-1-62007-769-6
mother refuses to discuss—a sweet, sensi- screaming in a car compactor, from which A vampire laments and an innocent child

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inspires in Cox’s centuries-spanning philo- mechanics, and shallow characterization player, Rob Kincaid, an ex–Navy SEAL, to
sophical exploration of duty, guilt, and mean that the patience of a saint will be help him find the truth after the U.S. Park
faith. In 1885 France, Father Antonio required to follow this trilogy to its end. Police and the FBI are taken off the homi-
Molinari is fresh off an exorcism of a young cide inquiry. The romance that develops
woman. Two priests approach him, Coming Out between McGuire and Katelyn Murray, a
claiming to have a chained-up vampire that Seven Slade. Howling Mad, $12.99 trade member of Kincaid’s team who got her air-
he can study. Horrified to learn the vampire paper (322p) ISBN 978-0-9861465-4-1 plane pilot’s license at the age of 13, adds
is an eight-year-old girl, Sabine Caillouet, Slade’s clever contemporary romance some human interest.
he becomes protective of her and even lets deposits best friends Tamsyn Archer and
her feed off him. When a priest disapproves Rodrigo Vega-Goldstein into a screwball Darkshine
and stabs Antonio, Sabine saves him by comedy of sexual misinterpretation. They’ve R.D. Vallier. Free Fire, $2.99 e-book (372p)
turning him into a vampire. Thus begins been friends since the second grade, when ASIN B01ENYSJ4W
the paternal love story of Antonio and his tough butch Syn defended Rigo (who’s Vallier’s uneven debut features a tepid
young ward, whose soul he vows to save and “queer as a left-handed, blue-footed boobie”) heroine who has been abused and neglected
protect against dark temptations. As they against a bully who teased him for wearing until she can no longer trust her feelings or
dodge Vatican vampire-hunters and a pink shirt. Now they’re 22 and still stuck instincts. When a chickadee speaks to
vengeful vampires, Antonio has faith that in their tiny hometown of Middle, N.C. Miriam, her first assumption is that she’s
God has a plan for them, a faith he carries Rigo claims to have the hots for the aptly losing her mind, not that the bird is telling
to America and Canada, and into the 21st named Simon Sex, the lead singer in a rock the truth about fairies and dangerous
century. Cox’s world is elegant, the charac- band, but Syn worries that he’s setting him- moths. Shocking revelations about her hus-
ters are sympathetic, the vampire lore is self up for a fall if the guy’s not gay. However, band and about her own true nature leads
traditional, and the writing is engaging and when Simon and Rigo finally do meet, it’s a to Miriam walking out and looking for the
descriptive. However, the second half lags, very different sort of disaster: Simon is guide to fairyland that the chickadee told
themes become repetitive, and plot threads willing to experiment with gay sex, but all her about—before one of the evil darklings
unravel. Nevertheless, vampire enthusiasts Rigo can think about are Syn’s breasts. And can find and kill her. Along the way she tries
will devour this solid and emotional story. though she’s in a relationship with another to learn about her changeling heritage and
woman, Syn secretly yearns for Rigo. life in the fairy realm, but quickly realizes
Children of Hellions Bittersweet fun ensues as each wrestles with some things don’t add up. Vallier’s world is
Mia Michele. CreateSpace, $14.99 trade the risk of losing a friend by fessing up and complex and interesting, but the characters
paper (354p) ISBN 978-1-5371-3078-1 coming out as straight. This charming story are one-dimensional. Miriam is threatened
This Christian paranormal romance rests will win readers’ hearts. with sexual assault multiple times, entirely
on the premise that a soul is required to fall so that various male characters can save her,
in romantic love. Ela (a name for God, we’re The Custer Conspiracy and by the time she finds her voice she’s
told) is nearly 30 and spends much of her Dennis Koller. Pen, $14.99 trade paper been plunged into a potential war. A sequel
time caring for her autistic brother Tim and (348p) ISBN 978-0-9980808-0-2 may be able to answer lingering questions
running a bookshop dedicated to the What if the true story of Custer’s last for readers, but it will be an uphill climb.
autistic community of Cape Spear, stand was quite different from the accepted
Newfoundland. She has two concerns: Tim version? That’s the intriguing premise of Demons of the Hallowed Dome:
and getting married. Every man she Koller’s second thriller featuring homicide Acheron, Book 1
encounters is evaluated for hotness and par- inspector Tom McGuire of the San Francisco C.F. Sheridan. Nowatay, $12.99 trade paper
enting skills, often repeatedly. No man PD (after 2016’s The Oath). McGuire, who (340p) ISBN 978-0-692-57222-1
makes the cut, though—it’s Lucian, was once a high school football coach, is Sheridan’s generally appealing but some-
enforcer demon from the Ninth Realm of pleasantly surprised to hear from a former what melodramatic military SF debut con-
HellQuarters, who smells so good she can’t player, historian Matt Conroy, who’s working tains plenty of military lingo, patriotic
resist him. Unfortunately, Lucian has a on a book about Custer. Conroy has just con- characters, and a roguish protagonist who
demon war to stop, and a virgin teetotaler firmed a discovery about the Battle of the enjoys risky behavior. Three years ago, the
who wears a lace mantilla to morning Mass Little Bighorn that could “possibly rewrite Earth was viciously attacked by an assault
can’t distract him—unless that virginal the past hundred and forty years of world force of lizard-like aliens; they were barely
blood might come in handy—but then history.” McGuire agrees to meet Conroy at repulsed by the combined forces of Earth’s
Lucian, who is supposed to have no soul, the battle site, but on arrival he finds that a nations. Capt. Ryan Flannery and his 13
finds himself falling in love with her. sniper has just murdered the historian. Green Beret brothers undertake a perilous
Redundant, meandering prose, shaky McGuire reaches out to another former mission to raid the planet Ou’Therras,

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destroy an alien communications tower, and pass up, and she’s secretly intrigued by E.X.O.: The Legend of Wale
gather intelligence to prepare Earth in Jesse’s blend of roguish charm and private Williams, Part 2
advance of further attacks. It’s just coinci- playfulness. Their mutual attraction is Roye Okupe and Sunkanmi Akinboye. Youneek
dence that, while on Ou’Therras, Flannery impossible to deny, and what starts off as a Studios, $14.99 trade paper (148p) ISBN 978-
discovers that his girlfriend, Alyssa, has performance for the cameras soon turns real, 0-9966070-3-2
been held captive by the aliens for several with the two lovers burning up the sheets The second chapter of the Legend of Wale
months. The plot is familiar and there are even as Jesse’s album burns up the charts. Williams, a superhero in an Iron Man–like
several nods to Star Wars, but undemanding But they both know it’s only for the dura- power suit, delves deeper into the compli-
fans of pulpy SF adventure will enjoy this tion of the tour, and Katie can’t wait to get cated relationships that characterized the
tale of tough men flying planes, bran- back to a normal life. For this first entry in first book, and explains the properties and
dishing cool weapons, and shredding aliens. the Dirty contemporary romance series, powers of the E.X.O. suit. The outline of the
Diamond (Deep) crafts a spicy, sassy, sexy story is familiar: Williams hones his abilities
The Dining Car romance with likable characters who share and eventually must combat the supervillain
Eric Peterson. Huckleberry House, $28.95 intense chemistry, and populates it with a Oniku, whose army of faceless drone soldiers
trade paper (350p) ISBN 978-0-9824860-0-9 memorable, entertaining supporting cast. attacks Lagoon City, Nigeria. But what
Peterson’s second book is like a meal pre- It feels like Katie and Jesse take forever to should be a brisk action adventure is often
pared by a top-tier chef, great individual realize their obvious feelings for one another, bogged down by loads of exposition. These
ingredients coming together to form some- but their story is still satisfying. sections of lengthy, textbook detail, which
thing even better. Brilliant, athletic Jack constitute a significant chunk of the book,
Marshall was a Stanford football star whose Dreadnought and Shuttle drag the pacing to dead stop. E.X.O. is
career ended after a shameful accident. After L.J. Cohen. Interrobang, $4.99 e-book (327p) clearly a passion project to create a superhero
recovering from his downfall, Jack becomes ISBN 978-1-942851-01-1 for Nigeria, and writer Okupe’s love of
a bartender on an elaborate, anachronistic Cohen continues to display her talents for American comics is palpable on every page.
railroad dining car owned by rich, alcoholic, engaging characters and a believable uni- But right now it’s too by-the-numbers to be
famously eccentric Horace Button, a nation- verse in her teen-friendly third Halcyone a successful superhero story in its own right.
ally acclaimed food and wine writer. Horace Space adventure (following Ithaka Rising),
is a politically connected culinary aesthete traits that more than balance out uneven The Fairytale Chicago of
who has hired the 25-year-old Jack to per- storytelling and pacing. Chief Engineer Ro Francesca Finnegan
form “the menial tasks of a busboy,” but his Maldonado, captain of the AI space freighter Steve Wiley. Lavender Line, $14.99 (250p)
deeper abilities are never entirely ignored. Halcyone, and most of her crew are working ISBN 978-0-9981492-1-9
Throughout journeys across the country in on Daedalus Station, while ship botanist Debut author Wiley’s name is only men-
the rolling bar/restaurant/sleeper car, with Micah Rotherwood attends an Earth uni- tioned in the back matter, so readers may
its remarkably lovable/hateable owner and versity under an assumed identity. A warning wonder whether his whimsical novel is in
its extraordinarily talented chef Wanda from mysterious rebel Dr. May about Ro’s fact written by young, blue-haired Francesca
Nordquist, Jack outgrows his flaws. The dangerous smuggler father, Alain, is Finnegan. The hero is called either Richard
novel inspires dreams of savoring decadently received too late to alert Micah’s bright new or Rich, depending on his place in his process
elaborate foods, drinking fine wines and roommate, urban archeology student of learning about himself and the history of
specialty cocktails, and rolling with unlikely Devorah “Dev” Martingale Morningstar; Chicago. As Richard, a miserable, wealthy
adventures while hurting, laughing, and Alain takes her hostage in an attempt to “vice president of something,” he believes
falling in love. Peterson (Life as a Sandwich) extort money from Micah, both as an act of the city’s past has been accurately recorded
serves up his story in delicious form. revenge and to stave off his criminal credi- by dusty historians in their tedious books.
tors. The admirably brave and übercom- As Rich, a teen boy who travels on a special
Dirty like Me petent Dev shines as a stellar addition to the lavender train with Francesca, he learns the
Jaine Diamond. Jaine Diamond, $2.99 e-book genre, and Cohen bestows significant fantastical truths about Chicago. She
(301p) ASIN B01KAKAU2M contributing tasks upon all of the supporting explains that the city of Chicago was built
The sparks fly when a Vancouver-based characters. However, too many of the by magic and wind, and corrects all of the
rock star hires a struggling artist first to mysteries of the allies and adversaries of the pedantic “real-world” lies. The talented
appear in his new video and then to act as universe remain in question after the abrupt author takes admirable risks with this
his girlfriend as he goes on tour across ending. New readers are advised to begin at enchanting tale of magic, self-exploration,
North America. Katie Bloom has no inten- the beginning; Cohen makes few allowances and growing up by remembering one’s
tion of being known as rocker Jesse Mayes’s for those joining midseries. youth. There are illustrations, too, as in any
latest fling, but the money is too good to proper fairy tale. This is a book for intelli-

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gent adult readers who love a playful escape Daniela hides out in his home, which is of magic in this contemporary urban fan-
into teenage fantasies of fleeting first kisses, where Ian finds her when he goes looking tasy. On a wintry night in Chicago, Gabe
exceptional Ferris wheels, extraordinary for his friend. Since she’s the only one who River rescues a suicidal Latina teenager
cocktails, and a castle that has the sky’s stars can identify Finch’s killer, the two form an who’s freezing to death in the snow. Then
for a ceiling. uneasy alliance. Ian vows to protect Daniela her face flickers and she’s revealed to be a
from all men, including himself, which white woman. She also displays a shocking
Feast of the Raven becomes a problem as she begins to fall in ability to communicate with his autistic son
Catherine Spacer. Quillstone, $16.95 trade love with him. Marton succeeds with an and can even heal his injured horse. She is
paper (254p) ISBN 978-0-9971535-0-7 edgy mix of love and danger. Annie, a centuries-old member of a clan of
A warrior has a crisis of faith in Spader’s beings who manipulate life energy to heal
thin medieval adventure of pagans versus Going Up South or harm. Annie is running from K.B.
Christians. In 782 Germania, Saxon pagans Janet W. Ferguson. Southern Sun, $13.99 Volmer, a sadistic Homeland Security agent
are forced by the Frank King Karl trade paper (266p) ISBN 978-0-9974822-6-3 who believes her to be a terrorist, and from
(Charlemagne) to abandon their old gods Ferguson’s (Leaving Oxford) second Clanmaster Drago, her grief-stricken
and convert to Christianity. Gerwulf, born installment of the Southern Hearts series father-in-law, who blames her for the death
from a Saxon wolf warrior father and a continues in Oxford, Miss., where Cassie of his son. Drago vows to wipe out human-
Christian Frank mother, yearns to purge his Brooks hasn’t practiced law since her messy kind by manipulating DNA to create a fast-
mystical wolf nature and embrace the divorce. But when her close friend, Jill, acting infectious disease, and Annie must
Christian god with the help of colorful needs help with a custody battle involving alert the other clans to Drago’s plans.
Brother Pyttel. He hopes that if he tracks a hotshot Hollywood actor, Cassie offers to Rhamey focuses as much on his racially
down the rebel Saxon Widukind and mediate to keep the story out of the tab- diverse characters’ emotions and goals as on
retrieves Karl’s powerful relic, the Holy loids. Dylan Conner never quite gave up his the intricacies of magical properties,
Spear, the king will absolve him of his crush on Sarah Beth, the heroine of the crafting a solid paranormal story with an
pagan sins. But he’s distracted by the series opener, with whom he had a fling epic feel.
charms of Widukind’s accomplice, the when they both lived in L.A., and so he’s
magical shieldmaiden Vala, who worships pleasantly surprised when he sees her and The Hunting Ground:
Wodan and draws Gerwulf in with the her friends in L.A. But upon reconnection Deuce Mora Series, Vol. 2
hunger of the Raven spirit, the Eater of her friend Jill tells Dylan he is the father of Jean Heller. Heller, $14 trade paper (410p)
Souls. Historically accurate settings of the her cute three-month-old son Michael. ISBN 978-0-692-77961-3
Hellweg, Lippespringe, and Teutoburg Dylan decides to travel to Oxford, Miss., to Down-to-earth and resourceful Chicago
Forest are lovely; the sprawling plot and negotiate custody of his son, and it seems as journalist Deuce Mora finds herself
lengthy diversions are all the more unfor- if the whole town is against him. He finds embroiled in a mystery surrounding a child
tunate by comparison. Gerwulf frets con- an unlikely ally in Cassie and her son trafficking ring in Heller’s worthy sequel
vincingly over his soul, but the other char- Benjamin. As they start to spend more and to The Someday File. While Deuce and her
acters lack dimension. more time together, the custody mediation boyfriend, Mark, are on a nature stroll in
isn’t the only thing on their minds. And Chicago’s Dan Ryan Woods, Mark’s dog
Girl in the Water when Dylan joins a group from Cassie’s picks up a human bone. The discovery sets
Dana Marton. Dana Marton, $11.99 trade church that goes to Honduras to help those in motion a police excavation of the area,
paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-940627-19-9 suffering from a dengue fever outbreak, the which unearths multiple bodies of children,
Marton’s tense nail-biter of a contempo- past bubbles up in unexpected ways. believed to be street kids and others lost
rary romantic thriller spans two continents Ferguson makes up for some awkward dia- through the foster care system. In addition
and several years as American Ian and logue and the overly complicated romantic to having a vested interest in the case,
Brazilian Daniela join forces to find the man situation with the captivating unfolding of Deuce is also eager to be the first to cover
who killed Ian’s former army buddy, Finch. Dylan and Cassie’s relationship, as well as the story. After she takes a transient foster
The story comes to life with descriptions as Dylan’s father-figure role in Cassie’s son’s kid under her wing, Deuce’s drive to help
lush and colorful as the wild Amazonian life. uncover the identity of the victims increases
jungle where Daniela lives a hand-to- threefold. As the investigation begins to
mouth existence with her mother. At 15, Hiding Magic have far-reaching implications, Deuce’s
Daniela is forced into prostitution. Years go Ray Rhamey. Platypus, $14.99 trade paper own safety is threatened. Heller, herself a
by and eventually she’s sold to Finch as a (290p) ISBN 978-0-9909282-1-8 journalist and former investigative reporter,
housekeeper and sexual slave. After he is Rhamey draws a realistic and sympa- crafts a tightly constructed mystery fea-
murdered by a mysterious man, a terrified thetic portrait of the uses and consequences turing a protagonist of tremendous

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empathy and a bent toward thoughtful Nicholas John, in a desperate race to fore- petent general and the Indian settlement of
introspection. stall that disaster. Wolfe knows his stuff and Tippecanoe is sacked by the forces of William
successfully integrates esoteric details into Henry Harrison. Tecumseh’s Shawnee
Introducing Gertrude, Gumshoe a compelling story line. descendants may well tell his story differ-
Robin Merrill. New Creation, $6.99 trade ently but this works adequately as a piece of
paper (154p) ISBN 978-0-6926-8909-7 The Keeping fiction.
Cozy fans who enjoy ample servings of Rochelle Ransom. Preadtend, $9.99 trade
tongue-in-cheek humor may find Merrill’s paper (294p) ISBN 978-0-9890174-4-2 Life as We Knew It:
(The Witches of Commack, Maine) series debut At the start of Ransom’s clunky debut, Transformation Project, Book 1
to their taste. Oddball Gertrude, who lives teenager Sierra Hart wakes up in a small, Lela Markham. Breakwater Harbor, $2.99 e-
in Mattawooptock, Maine, is concerned locked room with absolutely no recollection book (337p) ASIN B00UY6MKHG
about a nearby trailer, occupied only by two of how she got there. What follows is an With this brief volume, Markham (The
young neglected children. She noses around investigative journey through her family Willow Branch) sets the stage for her post­
and finds a pay stub indicating that their history and current romantic entangle- apocalyptic thriller series, which features
mother, Lori, works in a strip club, Private ments. Sierra’s life in Laketown, N.Y., is fiercely self-sufficient Christian preppers
Eyes. Gertrude adroitly gets the local trans- revealed through a detailed diary she keeps and government conspiracies. Shane
portation service for the disabled to give her while imprisoned and the narratives of Delaney, a mercenary haunted by his past,
a lift to Private Eyes, but strikes out there. those closest to her: her parents, Patrick and is close to committing suicide in fictional
She has more luck when she conducts a thor- Dr. Laura Hart; her ex-boyfriend, Dave Mirastan when the book opens, but an
ough search of Lori’s belongings, uncovering Braun; and the new boy in her life, Gavin unexpected text from his grandfather Jacob
some compromising photographs, Ross. Unfortunately, not all of the narratives and a visit from his friend Mike interrupt
including ones featuring the town’s slimy serve the purpose of moving the story him. Back in Emmaus, Kans., Jacob and
mayor, Lance Pouliot, who once tried to forward, and the immense amount of back- other members of Shane’s family feel moved
burn down Gertrude’s church. Gertrude’s story negates the suspense. Awkward prose to pray for him, even without knowing why.
inept doggedness will entertain readers who doesn’t help (“The water pooled in a small, Shane is a Central Security Agency asset,
don’t take their mysteries too seriously. deep, divot as the fear exploded up her and his depression is bad enough that his
throat, across her tongue and out of her handler, Grant Rigby, is prepared to pull
Judas Wolf mouth in a desperate shrill wail that fell him from his current assignment and send
Robert J. Wolfe. Wolfe, $15 trade paper flat, in the trapped air”). him home. Then Grant and others learn of
(330p) ISBN 978-1-519608-36-9 a plot to nuke multiple American cities—
In cultural anthropologist Wolfe’s capti- The Last Great American Magic and at least some elements of the federal
vating second Alaska-based mystery (after L.C. Fiore. Can of Corn Media, $17.99 trade government are aware of this plot and doing
2015’s Falling Walrus), the governor’s chief paper (372p) ISBN 978-0-692-71707-3 nothing to stop it. (This bizarre premise is
of staff, Marlin Fosburger, fears that a Fiore’s fictionalized story of Shawnee war never really explained.) Shane’s unique
decline in the number of moose could nega- leader Tecumseh focuses on his relationship skills may soon be needed by his family and
tively affect tourism and be used against his with his brother, Tenskwatawa, as well as his the rest of his salt-of-the-earth rural Kansas
boss in an upcoming election campaign. apocryphal love for Rebecca Galloway. town. This flimsy science fiction thriller
Fosburger convenes a summit of experts, Tecumseh is determined from a young age to will appeal to fans of novels by Newt
who agree that the cause of the problem is play his part in the fight to keep white men Gingrich and William Forstchen.
the higher-than-desirable ratio of wolves to from overrunning Shawnee and other Indian
moose, but not about how to manage the lands. His father and later his older brother, Marry Me Twice:
wolf population. The ultimate decision—to Chiksika, are killed in battle, leaving Rose Quartz, Book 1
relocate some of the predators to the Kenai Tecumseh to lead his band of Shawnee and, Catherine Avril Morris. Catherine Avril Morris,
Peninsula—infuriates Mel Savidge, a mav- later, an increasingly large confederation $3.99 e-book (284p) ASIN B00O28QR30
erick anthropologist, who views the plan devoted to halting the settlers. Rebecca, once A disillusioned would-be TV producer
as an indirect death sentence for the wolves a captive in his village, is the daughter of a finds romance and a new career in Morris’s
because of the Kenai’s isolation. The peril judge who wants Tecumseh to sign a treaty middling Rose Quartz contemporary series
of the situation becomes even clearer when ceding Shawnee lands. Tecumseh refuses but launch. Janie Adams is eager to produce her
Mel learns that it could unintentionally falls in love with Rebecca. Tenskwatawa is first episode of magazine television show
lead to an epidemic of dangerous parasitic portrayed as weak, a drunkard, and a gam- Albuquerque Tonight, and she has the per-
infections. Mel enlists the aid of series lead bler, until he returns from death imbued fect idea for it: a piece on the tiny town of
Camilla Mac Cleary and Camilla’s sidekick, with great power. Even then, he is not a com- Rose Quartz, N.M., and the Valentine’s Day

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festival celebrating the “Love Stone” that start to the series, but it lacks real story leave. Although this is part of a series, the
was mined there. Janie, who longs to make movement. book functions well as a standalone. While
historical documentaries, is fascinated by the writing is somewhat formal and the
the local legend of lovers Isabella and Rest Now, Beloved characters’ emotions are restrained, these
Enrique, but her ratings-hungry boss wants Blake S. Lee. CreateSpace, $14.89 trade traits reflect prim and proper 18th-century
more, and he thinks a Bachelor-style dating paper (334p) ISBN 978-1-5087-5403-9 society. Bryant and Dorman invite readers
competition featuring sexy local quartz Two different cover-ups 60 years apart to escape into the past in this enjoyable
mine owner Mason Hart is the key to drive Lee’s lackluster debut. In San Diego, work of historical Christian fiction.
drawing more viewers. It will also help Calif., in 1933, the body of missing seven-
Mason, who stands to lose everything if he’s year-old Christopher Abkhazian, a pastor’s The Seventh Son:
not married by his upcoming 30th birthday. son, surfaces in San Diego Bay. Jurisdictional Norman Conquest, Book 4
Upset to learn that her boss intends to rig conflicts, misinformed reports, and egotis- Ashley York. Ashley York, $4.99 e-book (397p)
the contest, Janie proposes an alternate plan tical battles eventually cause the case to be ASIN B01BZ36LS0
to Mason: she will marry him if he’ll give forgotten—that is, until 1993, when the York takes the reader on a journey back
her seed money to start her own production San Diego Observer runs an article detailing to 11th-century Ireland in the fast-paced
company. But it will take more than sexual the closing of the case. Pete McGraw, the and enjoyable fourth Norman Conquest
sparks and wedding vows to bond this former lead investigator, who’s now a recov- romance (after The Irish Warrior). Tadhg
couple. Despite a shaky plot and by-the- ering alcoholic with cancer, challenges it, MacNaughton has become chieftain upon
numbers romance, Morris delivers enough calling it a second cover-up. Sera Schilling, the death of his father, Padraig. The old
emotional heat to hold the story together. an investigative reporting intern at the chieftain had broken off a treaty that joined
Observer, teams with Pete to revisit every the MacNaughton family with the
Midnight Omen part of the case and find out who would O’Briens, an act that annulled Tadhg’s
Marti Melville. Doce Blant, $24.99 trade want to cover it up decades later. Lee does a betrothal to his beloved, Tisa O’Brien.
paper (356p) ISBN 978-0-9971023-4-5 good job evoking San Diego’s rich culture, Before Tadhg can craft a new treaty or rein-
The past haunts the present in this lum- but her intertwining of past and present state the betrothal, Tisa’s father weds her to
bering piratical fantasy, first in the Deja Vu fails to generate much momentum. Only Darragh Meic Lochlainn. Tisa is very
Chronicles. When ER nurse Katherine the climax delivers any real suspense. unhappy in her marriage and her new home
experiences unusual phenomena while on with the Meic Lochlainn clan; her cruel hus-
duty one night, her mentor suspects it’s Sarah Anne’s Faithful Friends band is not sexually attracted to women
related to her magical gifts and mysterious Cathy Lynn Bryant and Jessica Dorman. and, she fears, cannot protect her from other
heritage. In order to learn more, Katherine Bryant Dorman, $12.25 trade paper (314p) men who wish her harm. When she and
undergoes shamanistic regression to a past ISBN 978-0-6925-6298-7 Tadhg meet again, they learn that the spark
incarnation, where she relives the adven- In the fourth book of the Unshakable that was kindled between them years ago
tures of Kathryn, a Welsh witch living in Faith series, the mother-and-daughter has never been extinguished. York expertly
1721. As Kathryn, she’s coerced into writing team of Bryant and Dorman return combines her historical knowledge with
joining the crew of the pirate ship Revenge, to pre-Revolutionary War Massachusetts to romance and intrigue in this alluring tale
under the captaincy of John Phillips; many continue the tale of Sarah Anne Swyndhurst. of parted lovers whose greatest desire is to
of the men superstitiously avoid her, but she Having suffered the loss of both her hus- be together once again.
nevertheless finds a place among them, band and her son, Sarah travels to the home
using her powers to protect and heal them. of Daniel and Joanna Thompson to help The Sitting Room
As they confront other pirates, thwart with the birth of their third child. Soon Aimee Juarez. Bayley Street, $4.99 e-book
mutiny, and plunder their way across the after giving birth, Joanna, realizing that she (410p) ISBN 978-0-9965749-0-7
Caribbean, Kathryn suspects larger forces is dying, asks Daniel to marry Sarah after Juarez’s debut romance has the bones of
are at play and have brought her on board she is gone. This way, Sarah can take care of a good historical—strong period feel
for a reason. Despite the modern-day her family and Daniel can take care of the (though there are some persistent errors),
framing sequence, most of this tale takes young widow. At first, both Daniel and appealing protagonists, quirky secondary
place in 1721, leading to a narrative imbal- Sarah reject the idea, but in time they agree characters, and a dab of Irish language for
ance between the various threads. Melville’s to a celibate marriage of convenience. All aficionados—but it cannot escape its
work, which heavily romanticizes the life goes well until Joanna’s estranged brother smothering detail. In 1894 London, David
of a pirate, is atmospheric but overly George arrives to make trouble. Angry at Gosfield arrives to take up a teaching post
descriptive and even flowery, which drags Sarah for stepping into Joanna’s place, he is formerly held by his grandfather at Johns
down the pacing and tension. It’s a solid determined to do all he can to make her College. Adele Ledford is in the company

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of her illusionist uncle, Lionel “Douglas The To-Do List abound. Ference lifts some lines from
Daniels” Ledford. Uncle and niece are gifted Sharon Struth. Solsbury Hill, $3.99 e-book Wilde’s text and adds his own gift for
mediums, and when Adele spots David (254p) ISBN 978-0-9979293-0-0 description: “Flowers, bright in sapphire
across a restaurant, it’s more—and worse— Struth’s sweet contemporary struggles a blue and crimson reds, sang out from every
than love at first sight: David is being bit under the weight of its complex story. corner of the ornately decorated room.” But
haunted by a specter only Adele and Lionel Free after a contentious divorce, Maggie other sentences are clunky and clichéd.
can see. This is an enticing setup, but an Harris leaps at the chance to restart her life Perhaps the forthcoming sequel will show
excruciating 15% of the book is required to with her teenage daughter back in her this promising writer coming into his own.
establish it. Juarez’s research is front and hometown of Brockport, Conn., where she

Nonfiction
center, a jumble of apropos nuggets and inherited her aunt’s bookstore. But she
absurd specifics: David’s hair is seven inches didn’t count on bumping into her high
long at the crown, while that of Adele’s school crush, Cooper Stanton, so soon after
future brother-in-law is five inches; David’s settling in. No one warned her that the An Affair with Beauty: The Mys-
satchel never becomes a mere bag but is former college baseball star was now a town tique of Howard Chandler Christy
persistently “the brown-leather gladstone.” detective—and he’s in charge of finding James Philip Head. North Loop Books, $23
And so interminably on, delaying and mud- whomever vandalized her bookstore. (292p) ISBN 978-1-63413-882-6
dying conflict and character development. Despite old chemistry reigniting between Head’s glowing and revelatory biograph-
It’s a meander of a book, one that longs to Maggie and Cooper, it’s a long and slow ical novel chronicles the life of Howard
romp but only plods. road to a relationship. Each is keeping Chandler Christy, a talented painter of
20-year-old secrets that could very easily celebrities, dignitaries, and beautiful
Splintered drive the other away. Struth’s characters are women, whose models were known as
Thomas London. CreateSpace, $16.95 trade well developed and are given room to con- Christy Girls. Born in an Ohio log cabin in
paper (428p) ISBN 978-1-5151-2356-9 sult with family and friends about their 1872, Christy’s talent was apparent from a
London’s tale about the consequences of problems, which is refreshing when many very young age; at 18 he went to New York
lying in D.C. is a strange concoction that contemporaries keep the dialogue between to study at the Art Students League, where
unsuccessfully mixes a children’s story the focus couple. But two big revelations he was singled out as “brilliant” by his
with lobbying skullduggery. Pinocchio, it make the story feels more complicated than teachers. Christy was a magazine illustrator
seems, is an analyst at a lobbying firm that it needs to be and take away from the plea- in his early 20s, followed by a stint as a
has lost its former idealism. Charles sure of watching Maggie and Cooper fall sketch artist in Cuba during the Spanish-
Stevens, the senior partner for the Kronos back in love. The Wolf of Dorian Gray: A American War. Back in New York, Christy
Group, needs some leverage on Werewolf Spawned by the Evil of Man became a well-paid illustrator, then shot to
Congressman Frank Barnes to effectively fame with his Christy Girl portraits and
overturn Barnes’s previous legislation pro- Brian S. Ference. Brian S. Ference, $9.99 large-scale historical murals. His famous
tecting the speckled owl. He seizes on a mass market (216p) ISBN 978-0-9983252-0-0 painting of the signing of the Constitution
fender bender between Pinocchio and the Ference’s debut puts a twist on Oscar hangs in the U.S. Capitol. Christy’s second
congressman, whose female passenger was Wilde’s classic The Portrait of Dorian Gray, wife, Nancy, was his model and muse until
definitely not his wife, to pressure the con- adding the dimension of a wild beast. The his death in 1952; the narrative is mostly
gressman, using Pinocchio’s testimony in arrangement smoothly parallels the orig- from her perspective and from reminis-
front of the congressional committee to inal, and Ference does his best to honor cences or writings ascribed to her. Abundant
drive home his point. Everything takes a Wilde’s distinctive style, though he’s not anecdotes provide insight into Christy’s
left turn when Pinocchio’s lies return him always successful. Victorian gentleman personality, life with Nancy, and philo-
to his former state as a wooden puppet. Dorian remains stunningly handsome after sophical musings. Head emphasizes that
Fairies and talking flora and fauna take the his youthful self is captured by an excep- Christy’s lifelong obsession with beautiful
stage, including Pinocchio’s old con- tionally talented artist in an eerily powerful women, the “romanticized, statuesque god-
science, who turns out to be a cockroach painting. However, Dorian is not alone in dess,” was as much about inner beauty as
rather than a cricket. London injects this portrait; also depicted is a wolf cub, and physical perfection.
thriller elements like the kidnapping of after the painting is hidden away, the wolf
Pinocchio’s family, but the two sides of the is the one to change. A element of intense Busy Mom’s Cheat Sheet:
story simply don’t mesh. It doesn’t help violence is added to this version, and there Raising Happy Healthy Kids
matters that this reads like a second-rate are some gender swaps, but the plot of a Lilly Cadoch. Picki Beli, $11.99 trade paper
morality tale for teens. young man led astray into lusty debauchery (162p) ISBN 978-0-9969633-0-5
remains the same. Passions and betrayals Cadoch, a certified health coach, is

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devoted to her children; like many parents, maybe so that other people, younger than narrative about the fragility of this natural
she struggles with juggling tasks and ourselves, will ask uncomfortable questions treasure. B&w photos.
feeding her kids easy and healthy meals that about echoing things they don’t quite, but
they like. Cadoch’s main goal expressed here feel they should, understand.” The material Journey to Peace:
is for all children to have healthy, well- is steeped in Southern charm. Some overlaps 31 Devotions Through the
nourished bodies, minds, and spirits, and in the material become repetitive; four sepa- Grief of Miscarriage, Stillbirth,
she breaks down her thoughtful guide into rate works mention the city pool being or Other Pregnancy Loss
these categories. In the body section, she cemented over rather than integrated. In Keanna Barnes. Gold Peach, $8.99 trade
discusses teaching children to read and standout pieces concerning Barr’s adult life, paper (114p) ISBN 978-0-9979057-0-0
understand food labels so they understand he marries an Iranian woman and then hides In this debut, Barnes collects 31 devo-
how certain ingredients affect the body. She the marriage from his parents, and he seeks tionals to help mothers process the grief of a
also covers essential topics such as the to understand his daughter’s love of new miscarriage or stillbirth. Providing a dif-
importance of sleep and exercise. In the country music. Barr’s portrayal of his ferent biblical passage for each day of the
mind section, Cadoch shares more lessons mother sustains the book, as she is funny, month, Barnes divides her book into five
she’s learned; she encourages parents to endearing, and frank. Whenever she spins sections that help teach women how to
share stories of overcoming failure and to a new yarn, the reader can’t help but listen. find “PEACE”: pray, entrust, act, change,
teach children accountability and a positive encourage. Barnes introduces the book with
attitude in order to equip their minds for Everglades: Time’s Discipline her own heartbreaking story, sharing how she
success. In the spirit section, she describes Mary Peck. Merlin Press, $35 paper (64p) lost her son to preeclampsia around the start
the benefits of meditation and affirmations ISBN 978-0-692-69106-9 of her third trimester. She continues to weave
and shares several preferred techniques. This slender collection of black-and- her own personal experiences and insights
Finally, Cadoch includes a brief appendix of white photographs—most presented as into her daily meditations, which will make
healthy recipes that her children love, from double-page spreads—and the accompanying readers feel as if they are listening to an old
berry nutty smoothies to sweet and sour commentary evoke both the grand mystery friend who has endured similar grief. Barnes’s
meatballs. This is a kind guide for any and the worrisome ecological decline of writing is intimate and simple, and the daily
parent, one that reminds them to practice Florida’s Everglades. In an accompanying meditations are quick doses of hope (a page
and teach self-care. essay, writer and conservationist William or less) rather than theologically complex
deBuys observes that “the ’Glades are a reflections on death and grief. She also
Don’t Date Baptists and Other Noah’s ark of wetland wildlife and an eco- includes a note from her husband on his expe-
Warnings from My Alabama logical marvel” and provides bits of histor- rience dealing with his own grief over the loss
Mother ical and political background, as well as a of his son and helping his wife through her
Terry Barr. Red Dirt, $14.99 trade paper stark warning about the region’s rapid pain. An accompanying journal that can be
(228p) ISBN 978-0-692-64120-0 decline due to human impact, climate downloaded for free from the author’s web-
The essays in Barr’s debut collection change, and the predatory, nonnative site helps people work through the devotions
engage both nostalgia and social critique as Burmese python. The Everglades were and exercises in this helpful book.
he chronicles his upbringing in Bessemer, declared a national park in 1947 and origi-
Ala., under George Wallace’s divisive gov- nally stretched for 150 miles, notes deBuys, God in My Head:
ernorship in the 1960s. Born to a Jewish until real estate development diverted and The True Story of an Ex-Christian
father and Methodist mother, Barr lovingly damaged the waters. Restoration attempts Who Accidentally Met God
details neighborhood barbeques (“Over the are ongoing, but have all but failed. Joshua Steven Grisetti. CreateSpace, $12.99
Hot Coals”); his filial love for Dissie, his Photographer Peck’s images are a vision of trade paper (185p) ISBN 978-1-50850-266-1
f a m i l y ’s A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n m a i d bowed and brambled curiosities: leafy In this debut memoir, Brooklyn-based
(“Searching for Higher Ground”); and his plants within reach of nubby tree bark in actor Grisetti describes a divine vision he
experience of revisiting the town in adult- rugged, tangled thickets; tree trunks and had while undergoing a dental procedure.
hood (“Racial Divide”). In highlighting finely detailed foliage rising up from vel- Raised as a Southern Baptist in Virginia,
Bessemer’s widespread intolerance, Barr vety water that appears to be moving Grisetti abandoned his faith after college.
reveals the town’s ugliest cobwebs, but he pell-mell; and darkening, atmospheric Before that, faith was how he coped with his
often fails to sweep them away; instead he wetlands with tree shadow reflections on crippling fear of dentistry, he jokes: “In the
defers to rhetorical questions or passes the water. Tasteful and affecting, the photos name of the Father, the Son, Crest, Colgate
work onto others. In “The Mayor,” for capture a diversity of cluttered, unkempt and Oral-B. Amen.” Eventually dentists
instance, Barr suggests, “Some things need plant life that awes with quiet elegance. prescribed anxiety pills, which he mixed
to stay the same so that we’ll remember, and Readers will be moved by the cautionary with alcohol to knock himself out. On the

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day he met God, he had premedicated on the apocalypse, Negru’s not-so-brief book them are for Italian standards (panzanella
before being given Xanax and nitrous oxide. won’t disappoint. Sunday sauce, veal parmigiana, lasagne)
The majority of the book recounts the with some culinary outliers (a Niçoise salad,
extended question-and-answer session he Let Go, Heal, Be Happy: potato pancakes, beef stew, coffee cake).
had with the deity, who told him, among An In-Depth Roadmap to Readers of a certain age and those with an
other things, that the Old Testament is alle- Life-Long Emotional Mastery affinity for family cookbooks are sure to find
gorical, God and the devil are “two halves Mark Linden O’Meara. Soul Care, $17.95 a lot to like here. LoFrisco’s a warm story-
of a whole,” and heaven and hell don’t exist. trade paper (338p) ISBN 978-0-9812717-8-1 teller. His deep affection for his family and
It’s no surprise that such iconoclasm and O’Meara’s foray into the self-help genre the foods of his childhood is truly a delight
moral relativism emerged from the mind of is stimulating despite occasionally being to behold, and it shines through in what is
someone who’d struggled with orthodox overly vague about process. O’Meara begins clearly a labor of love.
Christianity, Grisetti acknowledges. by detailing his own struggles with letting
Although he gamely investigates drug- go, which led him to make a New Year’s Long Road to Hard Truth:
induced hallucinations and near-death resolution to “experience more joy.” He’s The 100-Year Mission to Create
experiences, he still believes that he expe- overly brief with how the process occurred the National Museum of African
rienced “something beyond the mere neu- in his own life and never defines what he American History and Culture
rons of my brain.” Readers can make of experienced emotionally after a series of set- Robert L. Wilkins. Proud Legacy, $26.99
God’s revelations what they will, but the backs, including a back injury. Much of (144p) ISBN 978-0-9979104-0-7
author’s vivid memory and sense of humor what’s here will be familiar to anyone who’s In this comprehensive yet refreshingly
render this a riveting account. ever picked up a self-help book, but O’Meara’s brisk account, Wilkins, a former public
tone is admirably sincere. He attempts to defender, relates the drive to establish the
History of the Apocalypse cover a lot of bases, including depression, National Museum of African American
Catalin Negru. Lulu, $2.99 e-book (581p) abuse, memory, shame, and emotional History and Culture. The process spanned
ISBN 978-1-329-66764-8 masks. Maybe the most important sections decades of pervasive racism, wars and eco-
Negru, who describes himself as neither a come when O’Meara criticizes the concept nomic crises, and dismissive, hostile, and
believer nor an atheist, didn’t use the popular (which he cites as common among assertive- ineffective Congresses. It’s a journey riddled
phrase “a brief history” in his title for good ness coaches) that no one can make you feel with false starts and full stops, which
reason. At 581 pages, the tome is anything what you don’t want to feel, and runs down Wilkins traces from its earliest notions—
but. Negru reminds readers that fascination the flaws and benefits of positive thinking. a 1916 effort to erect a memorial to honor
with the apocalypse isn’t a recent cultural A concluding appendix offers a list of sug- black soldiers—to President Obama’s
obsession; rather, it’s been a subject of intense gestions for how to continue to heal and speech at the 2012 groundbreaking cere-
interest since the earliest days of recorded grow. For some readers the book might be mony. Throughout, Wilkins weaves the
history, as evinced by the doctrinal beliefs of too optimistic, but there’s something to pick personal story of his “foolhardy” involvement
all three Abrahamic religions. He also points and choose and learn from for everyone. in advocating for a museum dedicated to
out that the phrase the end of the world can black history, culture, and contributions “in
be interpreted various ways, such as the LoFrisco Family Cookbook: How America’s front yard.” He peppers the
extinction of humankind, the destruction of Josie Brought Sicily to Brooklyn book with little-known history, from the
Earth, or some other type of transformation Anthony LoFrisco. Trylon, $39.95 (280p) failed government-run Freedmen’s Bank,
or migration. After delineating the views of ISBN 978-0-9975458-0-7 which lost and did not reimburse former
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam on escha- First-time cookbook author LoFrisco’s slaves’ savings, to the changing designs of
tology (the study of the last days), Negru love letter to Italian cuisine is equal parts and bureaucratic squabbles over the
zeros in on how the Christian view, in par- memoir and cookbook, a welcome trip National Mall. The museum also had sur-
ticular, has been presented from the first to through time. LoFrisco’s nostalgic stories prisingly diverse array of proponents,
the 21st century, and how it has changed due from his youth in 1950s Brooklyn, such as including Mary McLeod Bethune, James
to “greater knowledge and discovery.” The his brief foray into a life of crime—lifting Baldwin, John Glenn, George W. Bush, John
book is well researched and includes quotes fistfuls of candy bars to share with his Lewis, Rick Santorum, and Cecily Tyson.
from sacred texts and other scholars. Those friends, only to have his father, a police Wilkins occasionally gets bogged down in
obsessed with zombie movies or modern officer, answer the call from the shop minutiae, but he delivers a passionate
stories of survivalist living may be disap- owner—are charming and delightful, and narrative of the struggle to honor and share
pointed that the book stays away from give the book a generous helping of person- the complex and powerful stories of African-
Hollywood’s take. But for those who want to ality and place. His recipes are perfectly American people.
probe the historical and religious teachings fine, but also perfectly ordinary; most of

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Masao: A Nisei Soldier’s Secret (e.g., that depression can be cured by exer- raphy book, which was eight years in the
and Heroic Role in World War II cise), but he dives in with curiosity and an making, photographer and writer Palazon
Sandra Vea. DMA, $18.99 trade paper (360p) open mind, encouraging readers to make crafts a highly visual study of Timor-Leste,
ISBN 978-0-692-57558-1 their own choices. A longtime indie car- focusing on the unique beauty of the
Vea shares the important and fascinating toonist, Page draws in a simple and acces- Southeast Asian country and the contradic-
story of her father-in-law, Masao Abe, doc- sible if unremarkable style, sometimes tions of modern life. In addition to photos,
umenting his military experiences as a stretching too hard for gags instead of the book contains short written pieces from
nisei, a second-generation Japanese- letting the material speak for itself. As a 60 mostly Western contributors to illumi-
American. She bases her work on hundreds chronicle of mental illness, it doesn’t nate aspects of the culture. Simão Barreto’s
of hours of interviews with Abe and his reach the heights of its clear predecessor, song “Call the Wind” celebrates the ritual
friends and relatives. Though the book has Ellen Forney’s remarkable Marbles, but it ceremony calling the wind at the time of
some flaws, the story is of historical interest provides an exhaustive, personal look at rice harvest, still guiding the day-to-day
for several reasons. First, though Abe was the little-understood world of ADHD. life of farming communities today.
an American citizen by birth, from ages Anthropologist Sofia Miranda describes
nine to 19 he was brought back to Japan for Sew Jewish: The 18 Projects how difficult communication and transpor-
his education and groomed to be an officer You Need for Jewish Holidays, tation issues between Dili, the center of
in the Imperial Japanese Army. To avoid Weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs power, and rural areas, prevent projects
military service his father sent him back to Celebrations and Home from fully materializing and keep the popu-
the U.S., where he was drafted into the U.S. M. Bywater. Sew Jewish, $29.95 trade paper lation dependent on government assistance.
Army in 1941, serving with military intel- (150p) ISBN 978-0-9968582-2-9 Each contributor zeroes in on an intriguing
ligence throughout WWII. The second Bywater, who designs wedding chuppahs facet of Timorese politics, culture, or his-
aspect of Abe’s distinct story is his service for the wedding rental company Huppahs. tory, together offering a kaleidoscopic look
as a translator and interrogator during com, assembles 18 projects for crafters at the nation. Palazon’s many photographs,
WWII. It was Abe’s job to coax Japanese interested in creating items for Jewish taken between 2008 and 2016, provide the
defenders into surrendering during the events. Each project is introduced with a most striking and lasting impression of
ferocious island campaigns of WWII in the quote from the Torah or rabbinical texts. Timor-Leste. Until the Timorese them-
Pacific. Finally, the Abe story illustrates Bywater introduces readers to each project selves document their culture, Palazon’s
the challenges and injustices faced by the with a quote or idiom and a short explana- work will help readers outside the small
American immigrant communities during tion of the religious significance of the item. country get to know it a little better. Color
WWII even as their sons fought and sacri- There are projects for all skill levels, ranging photos.
ficed on the battlefield. Vea omits much from a simple decorative wrap that can
about Abe’s life and career, but her other- transform an everyday jar into a special Weedgalized in Colorado:
wise moving and informative story illumi- tzedakah box (used to save coins for chari- True Tales from the High Country
nates a rarely discussed aspect of the WWII table donations) to a DIY wedding chuppah Johnny Welsh. Peak 1, $19.95 trade paper
experience. with directions for both the canopy and (224p) ISBN 978-0-9963078-8-8
stand. The color photos and simple instruc- Welsh, a bartender in Frisco, Colo.,
Raised on Ritalin tions and patterns will help anyone feel sheds light on the “green rush” in this hap-
Tyler Page. Dementian, $20 trade paper confident in taking on a project. Suggestions hazard account of the first year of legalized
(400p) ISBN 978-0-9720801-6-3 on choosing and cutting appropriate fabrics marijuana in Colorado. Gleaned from
Like many Gen X kids, Page took make this a perfect book for beginners. Welsh’s experience as a bartender, the book
Ritalin to control attention problems and Bywater’s cheerful writing style and helpful attempts to entertain and inform curious
hyperactive behavior. As an adult, he explanations of the religious significance of readers about the emerging cannabis
notices his old symptoms returning and items will appeal to younger readers or industry primarily from the perspective of
goes back on medication, but this time he those new to Judaism and wishing to learn one ski town in “the heart of Colorado.” It
starts to ask questions. The result is a thick more. Color photos. is most useful as a guide for Colorado tour-
graphic novel that explores ADHD, ists, detailing laws and customs from the
Ritalin, and psychiatric medication from Timor Runguranga: first year, offering a dispensary list, and
every possible angle. Page intersperses his A Photographic Journey Through describing the different strains available at
ongoing search for treatment with biology Timor-Leste the moment. Welsh puts a strong focus on
lessons, history, and criticisms of the phar- David Palazon. Blurb Books, $49.50 (344p) the business side of the phenomenon,
maceutical industry. He’s not a doctor and ISBN 978-1-36-755911-0 speaking with “ganjapreneurs” running
latches onto some deeply suspect ideas In this fascinating contemporary photog- shops, consumption friendly lodgings, and

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Children’s/YA
culinary tours, illegal dealers whose income and Jack seek safety from advancing
has dried up, and dispensary “budtenders” German forces as Jenny grapples with her
about their early experiences, and with inexplicable new circumstances and falls
individuals like Frank McDonald, the Skin for Jack. Allen and Reep, who previously
owner of the entire town of Stoner, Colo. Brenda Corey Dunne. Fortunate Frog Fiction, collaborated on The Dangerous Summer
Welsh’s own inexperience as a consumer $14.99 paper (262p) ISBN 978-0-9881562-2-7 of Jesse Turner, vividly portray the histor-
puts him at a remove from his subject and Though Ocean O’Malley loves to swim, ical moment and keep tension levels high
his retelling of other people’s anecdotes she isn’t happy to be moving from Toronto through a series of perilous encounters. Jack
often fall flat. He attempts original research to Prince Edward Island. It doesn’t help and Jenny aren’t the most memorable of
by way of formulaic interviews with anony- matters that the 17-year-old is attacked on romantic leads, but readers intrigued by
mous dealers that leave obvious questions her first night on the island, though she’s the idea of past-life loves should still be
unasked. It’s an amateurish book on a pop- rescued by Sam O’Brien, her attractive new intrigued by this girl-meets-ghost story.
ular subject. neighbor from Ireland. As Ocean and Sam Ages 12–up.
become close, he reveals that they are both
Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife: mythical creatures known as selkies, and A Fine Witch for a Cat
Not Just Surviving, but Thriving that his dangerous father is looking for Catherine Callie. Amazon Digital Services,
Barbara K. McNally. Battle Flag, $7.99 e-book them both. As Ocean struggles with these $3.75 e-book (154p) ASIN B01M9BFB1U
(228p) ISBN 978-1-63393-287-6 revelations, the race is on to find her selkie In this sharp-edged fantasy, British
Physical therapist and debut author skin, which her father hid in order to pro- writer Callie’s first book, Granny Willow,
McNally, writing in heart-wrenching tect her. Canadian writer Dunne (Dependent) an elderly witch, lives with her talking cat,
detail, outlines the bitter joy that comes builds on Irish lore to create an intriguing Shadow, in a remote village. One night, a
with being a wife of a wounded military mythology, though it’s not fully explained mother frantically seeks Granny Willow’s
service member. Each of the book’s selected (particularly with regard to the way that help in healing her daughter, who has been
stories illustrates phases of the recovery “time moves differently” for selkies, as well attacked by a cat. After the murderous cat,
process from the perspective of a veteran’s as their custom of luring humans into the Gorlan, kills Granny Willow for refusing
wife. The author frankly discusses anger, sea to live as “sex slaves”). Ocean has a to supply information about the girl,
traumatic brain injuries, suicide, and other believable voice and is a well-rounded char- Shadow becomes a suspect and is hunted by
issues. Challenges with sexuality fill a acter with fleshed-out relationships with the villagers. Callie writes vividly about
deeply honest chapter. McNally cites find- her family, particularly her mother. Her Shadow’s journey, as he adjusts to living
ings that post-9/11 military caregivers story is marred, however, by the fact that, without Granny Willow’s protection.
are more likely to be young (more than on multiple occasions, Sam steps in to save Enduring both physical and mental
40% are between 18 and 30), veterans of Ocean from sexual assaults. A sequel is anguish, Shadow eventually finds love with
military service themselves, working, and planned. Ages 14–up. a cat named Magala and forms alliances
without a support network. “With little with feral barn cats, as they prepare for a
warning and almost no training, these Kiss’d great battle with Gorlan. Though the story
women have learned to serve their fami- D.C. Reep and E.A. Allen. CreateSpace, bogs down amid redundant explanations
lies as full-time caregivers while their $10.99 paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-5331-3312-0 and overwritten passages (“Shadow could
partners try to recover from broken bones, In this light paranormal romance, not begin to understand those feelings that
lost limbs, severe head injuries, and 16-year-old Jenny Tyler goes to stay with made him want to destroy the cat that did
other unspeakable assaults on their her eccentric Aunt Connie, following a this. He didn’t know it was within him.
bodies and beings,” she writes. McNally hurdle-jumping injury during a track meet These destructive impulses, combined with
describes becoming aware of this issue that resulted in a concussion. Aunt Connie, the immeasurable guilt he felt for his earlier
after witnessing a veteran’s suicide. Along who conducts séances with a small group of absence made him question his own
with her own insights, she also shares the fellow enthusiasts, believes that Jenny will being”), Callie creates an intriguing world
sage advice of a number of mental health bring new luck to their attempts to contact of animal magic. Ages 9–up.
professionals, meant as a lifeline to care- a spirit. When Jenny has a dreamlike
givers struggling to understand their loved meeting with a young man dressed as a sol- Mystery of the Troubled Toucan
ones’ issues. After more than a decade of dier, it seems as though her aunt may be Lisa Travis, illus. by Adam Turner. WorldTrek,
Americans fighting battles on multiple correct. The ghostly figure’s kiss transports $5.99 paper (126p) ISBN 978-1-936376-24-7
fronts, this is a deeply necessary and poi- Jenny to WWI-era Belgium, where she This sixth installment in the Pack-n-Go
gnant offering. learns that he is a Canadian soldier named Girls Adventures series, mystery chapter
Jack. Along with two of his cohorts, Jenny books featuring young heroines from

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around the world, transports readers to the touched on, and the retrospective narrative
Amazon rainforest. After nine-year-old frame only serves to distance readers from
Sofia Diaz’s parents announce that they are the boy’s experience. Ages 4–8.
separating, her father takes her with him
from their home in Miami on a trip to Brazil.
Though Sofia is brooding over this recent
The preceding reviews of
development and wondering whether her self-published titles ran in
father will continue to be a part of their Publishers Weekly during the
lives, the sights of Brazil distract her from past month.
her pain. She soon meets a girl her age, Júlia
Santos, whose passion for protecting the
rainforest animals from poachers and other
threats proves infectious. After the girls
discover pink dolphins called botos that
have been tied up by poachers, they attempt
to find out who is responsible. Travis writes
clearly and engagingly, infusing the story
with information about conservation and
the rainforest, as well as Portuguese vocabu-
lary (a glossary is included). Turner’s b&w
cartoon spot illustrations do a fine job of
capturing the local flora and fauna, while
tapping into the unfolding mystery and the
camaraderie between the girls. Ages 6–9.

Once Upon a Weasel
Salvo Lavis and James Munn, illus. by Dave
Leonard. Spitball Studio, $15.95 (32p)
ISBN 978-0-9977982-0-3
An adult narrator looks back at his
adventures with his childhood pet weasel
in this energetic but aimless story. Living
with his parents above their hat shop, the
unnamed boy had few friends “but I did
dream a lot,” he explains. Passing a local pet
store, the boy is instantly drawn to a weasel:
“He had big eyes, soft orange fur and a
playful nature.” The boy sneaks the weasel
home and hides it from his parents, but after
he brings the weasel on a field trip to a plan-
etarium, chaos ensues, jeopardizing his
chances of keeping the pet. Leonard’s fresh,
cinematic cartooning has fun with the sto-
ry’s flights of fancy, including the boy’s
imagined moon journey with the weasel and
the animal’s wildly circuitous path through
the museum, traced in a zigzagging dotted
line. But Lavis and Munn never give the
story much substance or tension. Pacing is
uneven, including a second imagined trip
into space that’s done in a flash. The lesson
the boy learns about responsibility is barely

66l B O O K L I F E , F E B R UA RY 2 7 , 2 0 1 7

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