Book Title: The Girl in the Blue Blazer
Author: Alretha Thomas
Publisher: Diverse Arts Collective
The Girl in the Blue Blazer is a mind-bender that will keep you guessing till the very end.
Set in multiple cities and told over multiple timelines, Alretha Thomas sets the stage while introducing the story’s protagonist and antagonist in the opening scene. Friday, June 7, 2019, in big city California, Pamela, a good looking, strong and independent black woman interviews for a renowned internship at Clifford Investments, a top financial firm, with founder and CEO, Andrew Clifford III. Thomas makes it clearly known that Pamela’s intentions on getting the internship that could change her life is about much more than advancing her career, and that Andrew Clifford III is more than the brash arrogant businessman offering the job. In an alternate opening scene, other characters are revealed. Thomas turns the clock back to Tuesday, June 1, 1993. The reader gets to know Elizabeth and Sandy, two best friends working at a topless bar dreaming of overcoming their present and past challenges of lives filled with trauma and poverty. They too encounter a man that would change their lives forever.
The story weaves back and forth from past to present. This style can be challenging to make work; however, Thomas deftly connects the different narrative timelines as secrets and answers to the questions dealing with the story’s complex main characters are brought to light and the unsuspecting climax is reached.
If you like a book where strong women take on a narcissistic man and the outcome isn’t what you expect, this one is for you.
The Girl in the Blue Blazer…A fast-paced thriller dominated by lies and manipulation, control and influence, and retribution and justice.
Shortly after graduating from USC with a degree in journalism, Alretha soon realized her interest in her major was not heartfelt. Instead of writing news stories, she wanted to write plays and books. Several years later, her church gave her an outlet to fulfill her writing desires through their Liturgical Fine Arts Department wherein Alretha penned twelve theatre pieces—the community response was overwhelming. This led to plays outside of the church, including Alretha’s One Woman, Two Lives, starring Kellita Smith (The Bernie Mac Show), directed by four-time NAACP Image Award Best Director recipient, Denise Dowse. The production garnered rave reviews from critics and audiences.
In between plays, Alretha self-published her first novel, Daughter Denied, in 2008 and has received glowing reviews from readers and book clubs across the country. Representing her book and plays, Alretha has been the guest on many radio shows and television shows including San Francisco Public Affairs show Bay Sunday with Barbara Rodgers on CBS affiliate, KPIX. She was also interviewed by KTLA News Entertainment Reporter, Sam Rubin. In 2011, Alretha self-published her second novel, Dancing Her Dreams Away, and it was also well received. Her third novel, Married in the Nick of Nine, spawned a four-book series that was acquired by Soul Mate Publishing in January 2014. The series has since reverted back to her. In August 2014, Alretha was awarded the Jessie Redmon Fauset Literary Award for her indie novel, Four Ladies Only. In 2016, Alretha created the Detective Rachel Storme Mystery Series: Justice for Jessica, Losing Lauren and A Penny for Her Heart. In 2018 and 2019 Alretha debuted two additional mystery books—The Women on Retford Drive and The Truth About Gretchen, respectively. Her most recent novel is The Girl in the Blue Blazer.
Alretha is also an actress and can be seen in numerous commercials and television shows. She currently plays Anastasia Devereaux on Tyler Perry’s Assisted Living that airs on BET.
Book Title: Dani Capello: Shadows of Men
Author: M.S. Izbicki
Publisher: Highland Entertainment
M. S. Izbicki’s debut novel traverses a wide range of teen fronts with its fusion of multiple genres.
Dani Capello reads like an intense coming-of-age memoir written in the first-person by sixteen-year-old Daniella “Dani” Capello. Dani and her brother were taken in by her aunt and uncle after their parents died. The brother is a secondary character. Dani is anything but a normal sixteen-year-old dealing with the challenges of adolescence—fitting in, getting along with family, insecurities, personal identity, and love. A detail that sets Dani’s dynamic apart is that her uncle is part of a criminal enterprise tied to the mob. Dani isn’t completely oblivious to the shady dealings of family members, but she is unaware of the exact depths of illegality reached.
The supporting cast is introduced when Dani gets sent, unwillingly, to an all-girl Catholic boarding school following a heated argument with a “creepy” family member. While there, she meets her new friends Emma, Whitney, and Madeline. The four girls quickly become close. The foursome does what most kids their age do. They challenge authority, go to parties, sneak around, get into trouble, and…two fall in love. Dani and Emma’s relationship forms gradually throughout the book. Emma is most like Dani—delightfully witty with a nerdy disposition. Combined with the family’s mob ties, the relationship between Dani and Emma plays a central part in the themes and conflicts expressed in the pages. The action accelerates and the plot thickens when Dani returns home “to the mob” with Emma by her side.
Izbicki manufactures a compelling plot and riveting climax to complement her clever cast of appealing female protagonists. The male characters in this tale leave a lot to be desired. Izbicki builds her characters thoughtfully using an abundance of dialogue.
Dani Capello: Shadows of Men is a multi-faceted tale of self-discovery, teen love, and violent crime. Aimed at the young-adult female audience, M.S. Izbicki has created something which may only get better with what seems like the future release of a sequel.
M.S. Izbicki studied the craft of storytelling at Chapman University, where she received a BFA in film production. After a three-year stint playing the role of “starving artist,” she decided money and health insurance had more value than she initially anticipated. Thus, she returned to school and received a boring, parent-approved MBA.
When she’s not writing books, she’s pretending to be a rock star. You can catch her singing lead vocals in her alt. punk band, Cigarette Juliet, and her country band, Myles and Ash.
Izbicki’s other hobbies include drinking gallons of boxed wine, accidentally killing plants, spending time with her two insanely mischievous dogs, and watching endless hours of animal documentaries.
Book Title: Age of Resolve: The E.V. Chronicles
Author: Ilene Grydsuk
“Every era must come to an end so that a new era can be born.” Grydsuk’s post-apocalyptic debut novel opens with a condemnation from the purported creator of the universe, telling humanity… “My instructions were simple, clear, succinct. I created a clear guide for humankind…The hypocrisy is nauseating. Have I not been patient? Have I not been benevolent? But like any good parent, I have my limits…You have been weighed, measured, and found wanting…The path to Armageddon stops now. Welcome to the real Age of Atonement. The Age of Resolve.”
Humanity is much improved when the story resumes—one hundred years after the “great reset.” The new world order is now in place, and the Biodome rules the planet. The Biodome is not tyrannical but a place of harmony and freedom where citizens live with a unified moral purpose. This way of life is made possible by the Biodome EV or “existential virus,” which eliminates the world’s “incorrigibles” and acts as a “righting protocol” for the disrespectful.
The story’s main character, seventeen-year-old Everett “Evey” Steele, is proud to be born in this age of atonement. Evey meets Jake, a Biodome agent, and uncovers a conspiracy to rid the world of the EV. In the new “Age of Resolve,” everyone is supposed to be born with an EV. However, Evey and Jake aren’t affected by it. Evey and Jake are heroes that perfectly complement the story’s scientifically minded villain, Dr. Draeger.
Grydsuk’s work contains religious undertones encouraging the reader to compare the ruling ways of the Biodome to the present combative world in which we live. The reader can’t help but wonder. What if the existential virus was reality? Would the world be a better place? Grydsuk includes, at the end of the book, myriads of pictures and descriptions of real-life events that inspired the narrative.
Age of Resolve: The E.V. Chronicles is a sinuously complex post-apocalyptic dystopian/utopian story that hits on genetics, human destruction, religion, freedom and its limitations, and the power of rule.
A fabulous debut that will delight both experienced genre fanatics and literary fiction lovers alike.
Eileen Shewen is a Postdoctoral Fellow with a research focus on the influence of biopsychosocial factors in persons with mental illness. She holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration specializing in health care. She is a mother to three grown children. Age of Resolve, her first installment in the EV Chronicles trilogy, was borne of experiences working with people struggling today. She is an Editor’s Choice Award recipient and 2023 Brew Book of Excellence award winner for her debut novel. She continues with her research in mental health while the second installment in the EV series, Age of Ascent, is nearing publication.
Book Title: Saint Bloodbath
Author: Frederick Douglass Reynolds
Saint Bloodbath: An Account of Murder in Southern California, by Frederick Douglass Reynolds, is the latest installment from this new author. Having previously read Reynold’s first book, Black, White, and Gray All Over, we knew this would be a gritty tale, and it did not disappoint.
Reynolds offers the reader a gangland detective mystery backed up by impressions from his numerous years working in the Compton Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The details that he inserts into this story help the reader realize how difficult, tiring, and important detective work is—while making the reader feel as if they are there working the case alongside these remarkable men.
The book opens with a murder, and although this is not the central investigation of the text, it does set up the background needed by introducing some of the future departed. From here, the reader is drawn into a world of gangs, drugs, crime, homelessness, and brutal murder.
Detective Mark McGuire and his partner Hugo Cortes, and Sergeant Robert Gray and Sergeant Martin Rodriguez have years of combined policing between them and have seen gruesome murders on several occasions. However, when these gentlemen begin putting the pieces together that ultimately lead back to a mass homicide at a homeless encampment it seems the worst of humanity is on display. The book chronicles their journey for justice as they follow leads, interview suspects, and try to find who is responsible for this crime.
The pace and word choice are excellent, as Reynolds does a great job of bringing Southern California to life. You can almost see the streets, and the dialogue is rich in authenticity—so much, that at times, it can be a bit uncomfortable to read. However, the sense of realism only adds to the narrative. The reader will be thankful for the richness of the scenes.
It is interesting to note that these murders happened, so when there is a chance to learn more about the characters, it is both fascinating and heartbreaking as some have departed this earth. However, Reynolds writes about their prior lives with a sense of dignity and uses his textual skills with mastery when bringing certain scenes, such as an autopsy, into focus: “The sounds were eerie, each one coming together to form a creepy consonance; the buzz saw peeling caps, flying bone chips striking the face shield worn by the pathologist, who at times whistled, hummed, and even talked to himself as he went about his business. He was cordial with Gray and elated to see Rodriguez, and they talked about sports with a sprinkling of gallows humor while a portable radio played classical music in the background.”
Overall, this is a great read with visceral language that brings the reader into Reynold’s world. The engaging plot and coherent and realistic world-building serve to strengthen ties to the story. Frederick Douglass Reynolds has created another masterpiece that will likely leave the reader with a strong sense of respect for the men and women in blue who attempt to keep us safe daily. Be ready to step into the shoes of a detective when you pick up this book.
Frederick Douglass Reynolds is a retired Black LA County Sheriff's Homicide Sergeant. He was born in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and grew up in Detroit, Michigan where he became a petty criminal and was involved in gangs. He joined the US Marine Corps in 1979 to escape the life of crime that he seemed destined for. After a brief stint in Okinawa, Japan, he finished his military career in southern California and ultimately became a police officer with the Compton police department. He worked there from 1985 until 2000 and then transferred to the sheriff's department where he worked an additional seventeen years, retiring in 2017 with over seventy-five commendations including a city of Long Beach Chief's Citation, five Los Angeles County Chief's commendations, one Exemplary Service Award, two Distinguished Service Awards, two Distinguished Service Medals, five city of Carson Certificates of Commendation, three city of Compton Certificates of Recognition, one city of Compton Public Service Hero award, one California State Assembly Certificate of Recognition, two State Senate Certificates of Recognition, a County of Los Angeles Certificate of Commendation, one Meritorious Service Award, two city of Compton Employee of the Year Awards, and two California Officer of the Year awards. He lives in Southern California with his wife, Carolyn, and their daughter Lauren and young son, Desmond. They have six other adult children and nine grandchildren.
Book Title: The Road Renounced
Author: Kaye D. Schmitz
Publisher: Kensington Studios
The Road Renounced is a story of war and peace, triumph and tragedy, dreams lost and dreams fulfilled.
Author Kaye Schmitz constructs a gripping family saga that takes place between and around the years 1915 and 2015. After discovering her grandmother Maude’s diary while sorting through her father’s belongings ahead of his funeral, Suzanne, daughter of the late Sam Ryan, learns that there is much more to her simple family than she thought.
Suzanne’s reading of the diary guides the narrative arc taking the reader on a time-jumping family journey featuring some of the most prominent historical events in recent history—the First World War, The Great Depression, prohibition, and the Spanish flu. Schmitz’s well-researched depiction of historical facts blends with the presence of her authentic fictional characters, generating compelling interest and a Forrest Gump-type feel.
Schmitz’s penchant for drama is on full display. Graphic war scenes, suicide, and alcoholism, combined with the curiosity to discover the truth, hold the reader’s attention from the author’s opening “Letter to My Readers” to the “Author’s note” at the novel’s end.
The Road Renounced is a beautifully told historical novel with great characters, raw emotion, and an enduring ending.
It is a must-read from an experienced author at the top of her game.
Kaye D. Schmitz is the author of the award-winning novels, The Consort Conspiracy, On Deadly Grounds, The Road Remembered and The Road Renounced. Active in the writing community, Ms. Schmitz is a member of The Florida Writers’ Association, Sisters in Crime, both national and local, Women Fiction Writers Association, International Thriller Writers, and the Historical Fiction Society. Ms. Schmitz makes her home in St. Augustine, Florida, where she lives with her husband, Michael, and close to her children and grandchildren.
Book Title: Wild Thing and the Bagel
Author: Erin Neal
Publisher: Fulton Books
Wild Thing and the Bagel is the story of two rescue dogs, Wild Thing, a chocolate Labrador, and the Bagel, a basset hound and beagle mix.
The story is told from the first-person point of view of Wild Thing.
Wild Thing, who was adopted first, becomes great friends with Brady, the playful and loving son of his adoptive parents. It isn’t until Brady moves away to school that the family adopts a second dog, the Bagel.
The story showcases the different daily activities performed by the dogs and the emotions they experience while playing with toys, running around the house, chasing rabbits, getting dressed up for holidays, spending the night in the pet hotel, going for rides, getting ice cream, and interacting with humans. The picture is vividly constructed through colorful illustrations and simple writing.
The Foreword, which is written by a long-time friend of the author, introduces the reader to the story’s theme—pets play an integral part in the lives of their owner and . . . we can learn a lot from our pets.
As she writes…
The homes and friendships we develop are made almost perfect by our pets guiding us through.
Wild Thing and the Bagel is a fun read for dog lovers of all ages.
Erin L Neal was born & raised in Cincinnati, OH. Erin considers her family and friends (including the fur-children) to be most important to her. Erin can often be found attending concerts, going to the theatre, and simply just hanging out with her family & friends. Her chocolate lab and basset/beagle mix are usually found not too far from her. "Wild Thing and The Bagel' is Erin's first children's book.
Book Title: Check the Chooks
Author: Nanette Hanna
Publisher: Bumblebee Books
Check the Chooks takes the reader to Australia to follow in the approval-seeking, heroic adventure of Pepe, a sweet little French Bulldog dedicated to proving his worth on the family farm.
Pepe longs to feel “special” while gaining the admiration of Ava, an adolescent girl who loves doing chores on her grandparent’s farm. Ruby, a fast and clever working dog, always seems to overshadow little Pepe. That is until the day Missy, Ava’s prize-winning Orpington hen, goes missing. Pepe knows this is his chance to get noticed.
Immediately after Missy’s disappearance, the suspense on her whereabouts dissipates as author Nanette Hanna tells of the hen’s intentions and hiding spot in the Australian bush.
As she writes:
Now she was settled into a snug little cave she had scratched out in the scrub…Missy had decided she must find a safe place to lay her eggs. She didn’t like that they kept getting taken from her!
After the first day’s group search effort fails, Pepe takes it upon himself to find the prized hen. His mission leads him into the wild, where he courageously confronts a dangerous predator. Articulate Illustrations nicely complement the thoughtful story and Pepe’s journey through the bush.
Check the Chooks is an appealing story for youngsters and those who appreciate nature and life on a farm. Pepe’s desire for acceptance has a universal appeal in that all of us want to be valued by the ones we hold dear.
I reside on acreage in Queensland, Australia, surrounded by bush, which inspires me to write and illustrate. Animals of all kinds have been important members of my family—from when I was a child looking after the household menagerie up until now—living on a hobby farm with my husband. We have horses, cows, chickens and of course two trusty pup companions, Pepe and Ruby. Having recently retired, I am now enjoying the time I have to develop my passion for writing and illustrating children’s books.
Book Title: Adventures of Fairies and Dragons
Author: Nancy Benson
Childlike prose and fun characters carry the day as Nancy Benson delivers a charming continuation to her first book Fairies and Dragons.
The story begins when the baby dragon, Hunter, loses his way during flying lessons. He ends up in a faraway land, a land of fairies called Fairyland. Hunter bonds with the fairies of Fairyland. One fairy in particular, Sylvie, becomes good friends with Hunter. After only a short time in the land of the fairies, Hunter is discovered by his father, The King of Dragons. The king ushers Hunter home while promising future protection to the fairies as retribution for taking care of his lost son.
While back at home, Hunter and his precocious friends, Carlos, Kramer, and Baxter learn to breathe fire. It is during this fire-breathing lesson that Hunter displays childlike honesty. He tells the elder teacher, “Fairies can turn fire into colorful ashes!” After being directed by his father to stay quiet about what he knows about the fairies, Hunter learns a valuable lesson.
Sylvie, Hunter’s fairy friend, makes a surprise journey to Dragonland. Hunter is pleased to see his friend. However, his joy quickly dissolves as he learns that Sylvie needs help. Fairyland is in trouble!
Will Hunter and his friends help save the magical Fairyland?
Adventures of Fairies and Dragons is a story inspired by a grandmother’s love and experiences for and with her grandson Hunter. As inspiring as the story is to the older population to read to and value the generations hereafter, it is equally as influential to the younger reader with its lessons of love, honesty, loyalty, and equality.
Adventures of Fairies and Dragons…A tale that is sure to capture the imagination of the young reader.
Nancy Benson lives on the island of Maui in Hawaii, where she has the pleasure of having her grandson Hunter on Saturdays. With Hunter’s six-year-old imagination, we created our first book Fairies and Dragons. We had so much fun, we decided that more adventures were needed for our exciting characters.
Book Title: The Nervous Noodle
Author: Vy Lien
Publisher: Vy Lien
The Nervous Noodle, written by Vy Lien, is a fun and engaging story of one Nervous Noodle.
Vy Lien has created a book where the characters are lifelike versions of produce—Obnoxious Onion, Persnickety Persimmon, Bragging Broccoli, Serious Sesame, Pistachio, and Miss Betty Carotene, the carrot.
It is the first day of school and Nervous Noodle is well…nervous. His thoughts are shared with the reader through questions. “What if nobody talks to me?” “What if I can’t answer any of the questions?” “What if I trip and fall?” “What if I don’t make any friends?” These questions become a self-fulfilling prophecy for when he goes to school nobody talks to him, he misses the one question asked to him by Miss Carotene, he trips and falls, and throughout the entire day he doesn’t get to know any of his new classmates and walks home alone.
Day two is totally different. Nervous Noodle wakes up confident and ready to take on the second day of school. He learned a valuable lesson through the struggles of day one. “What else is there to fear? He asks himself.
The Nervous Noodle teaches young children the lesson of overcoming one’s fears through cute characters, colorful illustrations, and creative storytelling. It is an attention-grabbing read from start to finish.
Vy Lien was born in Vietnam and migrated to the United States with her mother at the young age of two. She grew up as an only child with a superhero single mother who set high examples of how to face extreme adversity, persist, and succeed even when having a delicate disposition by nature.
Vy always was interested in human behavior and received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at University of California, Riverside. She then obtained double graduate degrees and joined the medical field as a Physician Associate. Aside from work, Vy enjoys everything culinary arts including cooking and eating home cooked food made from scratch, street food, fine dining, and cruise buffets! She also enjoys international traveling, yoga, and writing children’s fiction books.
Now as a single mother herself to a dynamic toddler, she writes her children’s fiction books at night when the lights go out, in the dark, and when her daughter is finally asleep. Vy’s books feature social themes that children face and incorporate learning lessons, fun, friendship, adventures, and usually a whole lot of food! Vy reflects on the social situations that she faced as a child and writes books in hopes of helping children, including her own, bravely face and conquer social challenges. She is the author of The Nervous Noodle, the first book in the Growing Pains of the Grains series and of The Spicy Ghost.
Book Title: Amaranth
Author: Samantha Davenport
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Samantha Davenport holds nothing back in her out of this world 500-page debut novel Amaranth: Book One of the White Dragon.
Ami, short for Amaranth Rose, the female protagonist, is Vincian—this is considered a foreigner in Rascu, the early setting of the story. Ami is fierce and is believed to be just “twelve-years-old.” however, she never seems to age. She can beat up grown elves and werewolves, “kills without remorse,” and is the most wanted and talked about person in Rascu and possibly the entire universe. She has survived multiple assassination attempts, requests to join the all-male Rascal army for protection and feared by pretty much every creature in the story.
As Davenport writes…
“The snow giants bend to her will. The mountain trolls are in ruin because of her. They have become mindless slaves to her magic. There are tales of how the Vincian king developed madness due to her influence. It seems a rebellion finally cast the little demon out.”
Ami is a powerful character, and the newly elected Rascuan female dictator, Jasmine, knows it. Instead of rivaling each other with their talents and power, the two become allies. Little did they know it would be an arduous ride containing many players.
Davenport relies on heavy dialogue to add depth and intrigue to her far-stretching story. Her many characters and conversations between them are a bit overwhelming. However, she makes it work with the fascination and dominance displayed by her leading lady, Amaranth Rose.
Amaranth is a glorious tale filled with interwoven real-life problems and emotions between its sensational heroin and fantastical supporting cast. It is a great prelude to what promises to be an interesting series.
Samantha Davenport grew up in South Carolina and didn’t go too far when she reached adulthood. When’s she’s not writing, she is baking, cooking, being a gym rat, cuddling with her two dogs and husband while binge watching Netflix or working. This is her first novel.
Book Title: Conversations Behind the Kitchen Door: 50 American Chefs Chart Today’s Food Culture
Author: Emmanuel Laroche
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Since Emmanuel Laroche’s birth in Versailles, France, he has been on many adventures. From traveling around Europe as a kid to moving his family to the United States to traveling the world as an adult professional, food in his life has been “ubiquitous.” Conversations Behind the Kitchen Door is the product of a lifetime and passion for great tastes.
Laroche’s role as Vice President of Marketing with Symrise North America has allowed him to make lifelong connections in the food and beverage industry. Of these connections, StarChefs—a prominent platform for culinary professionals around the world, offered Emmanuel an opportunity to meet and connect with culinary talent. Using these connections, in 2018, Laroche created his podcast, Flavors Unknown. Applying the knowledge and understanding accumulated from the many revelations expressed on his podcast and his countless life experiences, Laroche constructed Conversations Behind the Kitchen Door.
In its pages, some of the world’s most accomplished chefs offer valuable insights into all things food—flavor creation and innovation, popular trends, business applications, motivations, inspirations, and many behind-the-scenes stories. If you aren’t already a chef or a Foodie, you may convert to one after reading this book.
Imagine a dream where you are traveling the world while experiencing unreal tastes prepared for you by earth’s finest chefs—and at the same time, drinking the most flavorful beverages blended by the world’s best mixologists—Laroche takes you there in his new book.
Conversations Behind the Kitchen Door…an eye-opening and mouth-watering journey into the culinary world.
Born in Versailles, France, close to the famous chateau of King Louis XIV, Emmanuel Laroche grew up savoring the best food and drink that France offers, eventually earning him the American nickname: “Champagne Charlie.” His mother taught him to cook when he was six, starting with a simple yogurt cake, and moving on to Lorraine quiche, from the region where his mother grew up. He married a woman who also loved to cook, and during the first four years of their marriage, they never ate the same dish twice!
In 2002 he moved to the United States for his role as VP of Marketing with Symrise North America—a global manufacturer of flavors for the food and beverage industry. He now has more than twenty years of experience in the food and beverage industry, both in Europe and in the US.
Through his job, Emmanuel has access to a variety of acclaimed people in the food industry.
Since 2008, he has attended the yearly StarChefs Congress in New York City. In 2015, Emmanuel developed an exclusive partnership with StarChefs for Symrise and began moderating panel discussions with successful chefs, pastry chefs, and mixologists. In 2018, Emmanuel launched a personal podcast called Flavors Unknown, featuring a series of conversations with trending and award-winning chefs, pastry chefs, and mixologists from around the United States. Emmanuel currently resides in New Jersey, which acts as a home base for his travels around the country, conducting tastings, lectures and presentations on food and consumer trends.
Book Title: The Adventures of Pick Pock Tick Tock: The Attack of the Monkeys
Author: Michael Clarke
Publisher: M. Clarke Stories
The Adventures of Pick Pock, Tick Tock is a children’s book aimed at the nine-thirteen-year-old audience that centers around three main characters—Rad, Mia, and Eric. All three have their own distinct personality and quirks. However, they all have a similar disdain for school and its controlling teachers.
As Clarke writes concerning the three…
He was a warrior, and warriors didn’t need books, science, and math. All he needed was his wit and his strength.
If there was one person who hated teachers more than anything, it was Mia Yang.
Eric, just like everyone else, hated Chemistry class, but getting to sit across from Lindsay made the whole thing much more enjoyable. He liked her black hair. It looked a lot like licorice, but it didn’t smell like it at all. Eric was curious to see if it tasted like licorice, but he’s gotten into trouble for biting people before.
The three exhibit behavior issues at school, and their principal, Principal Rigger, feels like the behavioral program in the small town of Pick Pock run by Mr. Chan, an old, gray-haired, tall, slender old man with a pair of round spectacles sitting at the tip of his nose, is his only option for the three troublemakers’ reform. Their arrival in Pick Pock marks the beginning of the trios unexpected adventure.
Clarke has created a fun story with engaging lessons and alluring characters—characters that are developed over much of the first half—and a story that incorporates themes of courage, trust, and belief in self. The vibrant pictures are a welcomed addition.
The Adventures of Pick Pock Tick Tock… an imaginative adventure that stands out from the crowd.
Michael Clarke has a degree in computer animation. He has been working as a 3d freelancer for over ten years. He is an avid writer of stories and plans to create as many as possible.
Book Title: MacLeish Sq.
Author: Dennis Must
Publisher: Red Hen Press
MacLeish Sq., Dennis Must’s curiously appealing new novel, takes the reader through the obscure final act of a man’s life.
The main character, sixty-nine-year-old John Proctor, buys an old farmhouse on the outskirts of the desolate New England mill town he grew up in—the town he left when he was eighteen. Upon returning, John wishes for nothing but to settle “down here outside the derelict mill town of my childhood to savor the days each sunup deigns to grant me.”
John’s reclusive existence in his remodeled farmhouse is suddenly interrupted by the arrival of Eli, a wet “bedraggled” ten-year-old looking boy, who claims John was once married to his grandmother, Sara Phipps. John confirms to Eli his year-long marriage to Sara—a marriage that ended when Sara left him unannounced, never to return. Eli then incestuously asserts that John had fathered a female offspring he never knew existed by telling John, “Mother knows you.” Implying to John that he had impregnated his daughter and was (Eli’s) father. John denied the incest but had many questions for his young friend.
“Tell me, Eli. I want to know who you were—perhaps even still are—before I welcomed you inside. I don’t even know your last name. Eli who?”
Eli proclaims, “I hail from MacLeish Sq. overlooking a harbor north of Boston.”
MacLeish Sq. is an ode to the published works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville—Examples: the Charles Bridge leads to the site of the Salem Witch Trial executions, Bartleby the Scrivener can be found at the Falling Man Tavern which is near the Cotton Mather Hotel and Hester Alley. Must’s ghostly descriptions of New England paint an eerie picture of the setting with the foggy nights, frigid winters, and bowls of chowder.
Macleish Sq. is a surreal story constructed by a talented author in a mesmerizing way where the characters’ reality is hard to decipher from the author created illusion. The uncommon account can only be appreciated by reading it. The complex arc, unconventional structure, and extraordinary prose may be challenging for the everyday reader to comprehend. However, to the reader who appreciates a mind-bending intellectual read, Must delivers a captivating tale.
Macleish Sq…A stand-alone novel that needs to be experienced at least once in a lifetime.
Dennis Must is the author of three short story collections: GOING DARK, Coffeetown Press, Seattle, WA (2016), OH, DON'T ASK WHY, Red Hen Press, Pasadena, CA (2007), and BANJO GREASE, Creative Arts Book Company, Berkeley, CA (2000), plus novels: MACLEISH SQ., Red Hen Press (2022), BROTHER CARNIVAL, Red Hen Press (2018), THE WORLD'S SMALLEST BIBLE, Red Hen Press (2014), and HUSH NOW, DON'T EXPLAIN, Coffeetown Press (2014). His plays have been performed Off Off Broadway and his fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary reviews. He resides with his wife in Salem, Massachusetts. For more information, visit him at www.dennismust.com
HUSH NOW DON'T EXPLAIN won the 2014 Dactyl Foundation Literary Fiction Award
Also an Eric Hoffer 2016 Award Finalist
THE WORLD'S SMALLEST BIBLE was a USA Best Book Awards Finalist
GOING DARK: Award-Winning Finalist in the “Fiction: Short Story” category of the 2017 International Book Awards
BANJO GREASE: Nest Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist
Book Title: The Imposed Path: The Gem Keepers Saga
Author: Timothy M. David
Publisher: Gem Keeper Creations
The Gem Keepers (good) and Stone Keepers (evil) are battling for world control. Most every Gem Keeper has fallen to the enemy except for a select few. In this selection, there is a hero on which this story is based. Emma is her name. The world must unite around her, or “evil” will reign.
The Imposed Path is a story told from the first-person hero’s perspective. Emma is introduced in the opening chapters as a teenage girl adapting to life after the sudden loss of her father and moving to a different school. She quickly bonds with a female neighbor, Natalie, similar in age, who has also recently lost her father. Over the next few weeks/months, the two girls fall into teenage love and experience something out of this world. Emma and Natalie have glowing gems inside them and possess the qualities of superheroes.
Timothy M. David has created an action-packed superhero fantasy tale highlighting lesbian love, acceptance, female empowerment, and the courage to face one’s true destiny—like it or not. The story is unlike many of its’ peers as the LGBTQ coming-of-age and superhero fantasy genres mix creating a complex yet engaging read for a mature audience. The Imposed Path contains a heavily dialogued 409-page narrative where Emma, Natalie, and company evolve from innocent mortal teens to full-fledged worldly superheroes with increasing powers.
Many dramatic scenes are chronicled herein where the Gem Keepers try to rid the world of evil. David warns the reader prior to the opening chapter. As he writes…
WARNING: This series will cover many various forms of trauma and sensitive subjects; and how the characters handle those scenarios. These could trigger emotional responses in people with similar experiences. This is a fictional work, with aliens,
superpowers, and other science fiction/fantasy elements; and is not to be interpreted in any other manner. If you are sensitive to any type of traumatic writing, be cautious in reading this book, and the series.
David’s clever combination of creative storytelling and intriguing characters makes for an engaging read and a promising start to the planned seven-part series.
Timothy M. David is a recently retired 24-year veteran. He is an avid Sci-Fi and Comic Book fan but enjoys horror fantasy and crime stories as well. As a hobby he would write short stories and came up with the idea for the Gem Keepers Saga during his last overseas assignment. He enjoyed the characters and story so much; he started writing his first novel. What was expected to be a single novel, has now become an estimated seven-part series. He has many other stories he would like to convert to novels and make his author dream come true. He hopes people will enjoy his stories and become fans of his work.
Book Title: The Epic of Gilgamesh: A Poetic Version
Author: Robert W. Watson
Publisher: Gatekeeper Press
Robert W. Watson’s The Epic of Gilgamesh: A Poetic Version tells the story of King Gilgamesh, the first hero of literature, in poetic verse across 120 pages. Watson’s retelling of this timeless tale begins when a young boy, a trapper’s son, encounters Enkidu, a half man half beast being, freeing a snared deer and drinking from a stream in the forest. The boy returns home, tells of his experience with the beastly creature, and alerts King Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh conjures up a plan to bring the beast “into a snare without escape.” Shamhat, a conniving priestess, is sent to seduce the innocent Enkidu. Her “prowess” is too much to resist. Enkidu quickly loses his innocence and is transformed into a more human-like creature. Shepherds welcome the new Enkidu with open arms.
The shepherds welcomed Enkidu and held
A feast; he learned to eat as they and meld
His heart to theirs; he drank their strongest drinks;
Then learned to speak and how a shepherd thinks;
After getting to know his new King, Gilgamesh, Enkidu becomes enraged when hearing of his rule and excesses. Enkidu challenges Gilgamesh, and after a long period of fighting, ironically, the two become great friends. The two heroes go on many adventures together challenging the great gods—Enlil, Shamash, Anu, Ishtar—the nasty demon—Humbaba—and the Bull of Heaven.
After misdeeds, Gilgamesh and Enkidu are judged cruelly by the gods. The gods ultimately decide that the two friends be punished—and that Enkidu must die. Heartbroken and lost after the death of his friend, Gilgamesh embarks on a quest for immortality.
Primitive pictures appear throughout Watson’s poem. These simple images fit perfectly with the transcribed timeframe providing the reader supporting details to the interpreted vision. Although Watson has taken some poetic liberty in creating his tale, it does not carry much significance in the story. His style, using rhyming pairs of lines in iambic pentameter, creates a seamless flow that follows a “neoclassical tradition.”
Watson’s poetic retelling of The Epic of Gilgamesh is an easy-to-read introduction to an ancient story that hits on all the transcending themes of the original—friendship, loss, and the mortality of men. He has created a masterful version of the original epic.
Robert W. Watson has spent many years in the classroom, both as a student and as a teacher. Having earned three degrees, BA, MEd, and JD, Watson has taught at the high school and college levels. Courses taught include ancient, American, and British literature; rhetorical writing; and western philosophy with some history and Latin tossed into the mix. Because of his appreciation for all literature past and present, Watson has authored several literature courses as well as offering instruction in critical writing. Watson developed a course in philosophy, Ever Learning: The History and Fundamentals of Western Philosophy, which centers on the popular book, Sophie's World. In line with his advocacy for home education, Watson authored Critique of Pure Education: A Philosophy for the Christian Home Educator, which defines the goal, the foundation, and the proper curriculum for truly educating students. Currently, Watson resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is manager of Worldview Curriculum Today, a site for providing materials to home educators for high school students.
Book Title: Sinful Duty: A Steamy Romance/Mystery-A Stud Priest, A Gorgeous Cop And More! (Father Grant Stevenson Series Vol 1)
Author: Philip Pallette
Publisher: Philip Pallette
Author Philip Pallette pens a layered story of Grant Stevenson, a dark-skinned “stud” of a man set in his life’s path of being a devout priest—the only problem is he is tempted sexually by almost every woman and some men who encounter him; and on top of that he is having an affair with his friend’s wife—the same woman who ends up dead in his office.
This story contains many interesting characters—Diana, Ricky Kincaid, Alex Rogers, Officer Stefanie Craig, Guillaume, Father Brown, and others—but the charming and hunky Grant Stevenson takes the cake. Pallette portrays him as somewhat torn between a life of faith and human temptations; however, his consistent behavior seems anything but Godly.
Sinful Duty takes the reader on a wandering and twisting ride enticing with erotic dialogue, engaging characters, and scenes of direct and explicit sex. Both are sure to arouse even the most virtuous mind. Sex, romance, and the battle between faith and sin take a front-row seat in this entertaining murder mystery.
Sinful Duty is a whodunnit thriller filled with sex, mystery, and suspense.
Philip B. Pallette is an incredibly diverse author who has published The Game Changer- How Hank Luisetti Revolutionized America’s Great Indoor Game, Planning for Retirement- Relax, It’s Play Time!, Little Boy Found, and Me? Buy an Electric Car? Hah, Never! But if you have buy one, here are some things you may want to know.
His latest work, Sinful Fathers, comes as a sequel to Sinful Duty. Phiilp’s adventurous life is what has enabled him to write about a wide range of topics from biographies to effective financial planning and technology. His professional experience as an IT specialist led to research in technological advances that prove useful in the future, especially in electric cars.
Aside from this, Philip has a great love for music and the arts, playing the clarinet in concerts. He has had the joy of performing with the likes of the Manhattan School Orchestra, the Verdi Requiem, and the Mozart Opera Cosi Fan Tutti. Before his career in IT, he sold pianos—even to a few Hollywood stars!
His vivid imagination comes from a colorful life. The first 14 years of his life were spent on the West Coast before traveling to different countries in Europe and South America. These countries and cultures opened his mind to life beyond the ‘norm’, and he takes great pleasure in incorporating his stories with his characters' own experiences.
While many see retirement as a chance to slow down after years of commitment and responsibilities, Philip sees this time as perfect for learning and sharing. Romance and mystery surrounding the 70s are common themes in his books but with such a full life (that is very much still going), Philip is more than capable of surprising us with new topics to intrigue us all!