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Your guide to self-publishing

Meet the Judges of the 2018 BookLife Prize •
Seven Author Branding Tips • First Lines from BookLife Authors •
Book Cover Redesign • 84 New Titles Listed

The Fans
Are Out
How Leslie Langtry found
her readers


eslie Langtry’s writing career began
in the second grade, when she wrote
a story about a family camping trip
gone wrong. When the kids in her class
laughed, she says she was “hooked.” In col-
lege, she focused on political science, Soviet
studies, and art administration. But her
love for writing—and making readers laugh—
never left her. As she neared age 40, she
joined a writer’s group and wrote three
books, which she says she subsequently
“buried in the backyard after a ritual burn-
ing, so no one would ever, ever read them.”
But, after Langtry wrote for a couple more
years, her husband challenged her to sell a
book in one year. The result of that effort
her books as “cozy comedies” because they have
elements that fall into the cozy category, but “they
seem to make people other than my mother laugh.”
Langtry says she has always been a fan of mys-
teries: “I read my first Nancy Drew in the third
grade. At some point, I graduated to Agatha Christie
by stealing my mother’s books off her nightstand
and blaming it on my sister.”
Recurring themes find their way into Langtry’s
books. There’s one leitmotif in particular: animals,
including a rabbit, skunk, raccoon, and owl, grace
the covers of the Merry Wrath books. In this case,
art imitates life. “I think it’s safe to say we have a
problem,” Langtry says. “We have three dogs, three
cats, and a disturbingly large mini lop bunny we
inherited after our daughter
broke up with her boyfriend.”
Other past animals have included
turtles, parakeets, zebra finches,
guinea pigs, and an iguana named
Langtry also writes a lot about
the Girl Scouts, having spent 10
years as a troop leader: “I must
admit my hilarious and precocious
troop gave me a lot of material to
work with. Some people are sur-
Leslie Langtry prised when they find out that
many of the more absurd incidents
was 2007’s ’Scuse Me While I Kill This in my books actually happened.”
Guy, the first book in what would become Langtry writes funny books, but
the Greatest Hits Mysteries series. She sold the writing is not all fun and games. “Someone once
first book to Dorchester Publishing, followed by said, ‘Dying is easy—comedy is hard’—and they’re
the next four titles in that series. Her publishing right,” she says. “I’ve written straight books with-
story gets a little twisty after that. out humor, and I can write those in half the time
Around 2011, Langtry got the rights back to the I write my comedies. The trickiest part is having
Greatest Hits books and decided to give the indie the right balance of comedy mixed with serious
route a try, republishing the original Greatest Hits life-and-death situations.”
books herself in order to reach a broader reader- With 23 books and additional short stories both
ship. They were later picked up again by a small traditionally published and self-published, Langtry
mystery press, Gemma Halliday Publishing. “Working has earned her merit badges. She believes that
with Gemma has been incredible, and I’ve hit the self-publishing has meaningfully transformed the
USA Today bestseller list under her guidance,” the landscape—perhaps most significantly by allowing
author says. for more fluid parameters between genres.
Langtry’s other series include eight Merry Wrath Langtry is confident that, as long as authors put
books and two books in Gemma Halliday Publishing’s out the best versions of the best books they can
Aloha Lagoon series. She has recently self-published write, readers will come: “You can write a space
a Greatest Hits novella, as well as two horror books, opera/sweet romance/werefrog novel with nonfic-
and is looking to self-publish four additional books tion elements, and you can find an audience who
across two series in the next year. Langtry describes will eat that up.” Her next book, perhaps? ■

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BookLife Talks with and household responsibilities, even when they gen-
erate a larger portion of the family income. The more

Jude Miller Burke, PhD childhood adversity the women experienced, the
more likely they were to take control of their lives by
starting and owning their own businesses.
Psychologist and business coach Miller Burke helps The men in my study group experienced more
readers turn childhood challenges into adult childhood abuse and witnessed more family abuse
successes. than the women did. Both sexes developed persever-
ance and flexibility on their career paths, had a pro-
Why did you write The Adversity Advantage? tective work style, and struggled with self-esteem
Twenty-five years of counseling and and relationships at work. However, they
coaching successful men and women in became students of the skills they did not
large and small companies have led me to learn at home, which helped launch them
believe that there is a predictable journey to success. Both sexes also used detours
from childhood hardship to career and and failures to launch them into new
personal success. I wanted to illuminate opportunities.
this process with scientific data and inter-
views to take years off a difficult and con- Who is your ideal reader and why?
fusing process. I grew up in a troubled The ideal reader for this book is someone
family and, through many difficulties, who experienced childhood hardship, or
detours, and obstacles, became success- knows someone who has, and wants to
ful. The research-based, up-to-date infor- learn well-researched and easily described
mation and heartfelt stories I have gath- ways to transform this adversity into per-
ered will ease the way forward for others. sonal and workplace strengths.

Tell us a little bit about your research Why or how do you think this book is par-
into childhood adversity and the people ticularly relevant now?
whose stories inform this book. Society is growing increasingly accept-
I conducted a scientific research study of ing of the idea that childhood forms who
310 highly successful men and women— we are as adults, creating both healthy
CEOs, artists, psychologists, and commu- and unhealthy habits that may hinder or
nity leaders—half of whom were self-made help us. This is a book that will help read-
millionaires, who grew up in lower-income ers manage their childhood “triggers” at
to middle-class families. Among the study group, 40% home and at work to move forward toward success.
experienced childhood abuse, witnessed abuse, or Learning how to maximize positive behaviors and
had an alcoholic parent, which is higher than the to minimize negative coping strategies is absolutely
national norm. These challenges did not keep them possible. All it takes is practice.
from achieving a high level of success, however.
What is the one thing you most want to tell people
Did you find that childhood adversity affects men about you or your book?
and women differently? This is the only easy-to-read inspirational book that
Both men and women reported experiencing child- outlines specific steps on the journey from childhood
hood abuse, witnessing familial abuse, and experi- hardship to adult success. The lasting, serious effects
encing alcoholism in their families. This is a surprise of childhood abuse, alcoholism, and poverty on one’s
to many people. In addition, the pathway to success mental and physical health are described along with
for men and women is more similar than different. clear strategies for recovery. Readers will learn that
However, women—as reported by men and women— they can drop that heavy old friend, childhood trauma,
experience more prejudice and discrimination while for lighter and brighter futures.
seeking financial, professional, and leadership suc-
cess. Women also absorb the second shift of childcare For more information, visit

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

Cover Redesign
This month, Michelle Argyle at Melissa Williams Design
reimagines the cover of Dreams of the Turtle King by indie
author Denise Bossarte, who praised the new cover,
saying it “captured the essence” of her book
To submit a book for a free cover redesign, email us at Original Cover

When a cover
The author
showcases an
wanted a
award seal, it’s
“dreamy” feel,
important to
so we chose a
design around
title font that is
that element
instead of
but hints at a
placing it over
bit of whimsy.
the title. I chose
a background
photo that
allowed me to
do this.

Instead of
putting a drop
shadow behind While the
the text, which illustrated
might add to cover is
the cluttered beautiful, the
feel, I created a watercolor and
dark gradient font choices
to make the felt too juvenile
text and turtle for the content
stand out. and intended
A photo and
different fonts
change the
tone and feel.

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BookLife Talks with How are things different today than when you
grew up?

Marianne Spampinato I grew up knowing my grandparents and seeing

aunts, uncles, and cousins on a regular basis. Such
family ties reinforced our shared heritage and accu-
Erma Bombeck fans will delight in Spampinato’s mulated wisdom. Today, we’re much more mobile. In
humorous take on Mother knowing best. our area, many had to relocate for work,
especially after Bethlehem Steel and U.S.
What is the story behind Listen to Your Steel closed local mills. My cousins and
Mother—what inspired you to write it? their children, as well as the children of
I am a columnist and freelance corre- many friends, are spread out across the
spondent for Our Town, a local weekly United States. Since more women work
newspaper in Somerset County, Pa. outside the home than when my mom
Readers have told me that they especially returned to work full-time, children are
enjoy my columns about my rescue dog, in day care or are watched by people out-
Galla, and my relationship with my mom. side the family. Life has also dramatically
Inspired by this response, I came up with changed due to technology, the internet,
the idea for Listen to Your Mother during and social media. These changes aren’t
the summer of 2017. My mother has necessarily bad—I keep in touch with dis-
always told me I have a book inside of me. tant relatives and friends on Facebook—
I finally listened to her. but today children are growing up in an
environment far different from the one I
Tell us about your mother. What was grew up in.
she like when you were a child?
We didn’t have the stereotypical “Wait till Who is your ideal reader and why?
your father gets home” family; my mom I’ve heard from many people around my
was the disciplinarian. Like her mom, she age that Listen to Your Mother brought
managed the family budget and paid the back precious memories of their own
bills. Like her dad, who was a gifted moms. I know one woman who bought
craftsman, she can figure out all sorts of my book for her daughter when she was
things. Mom has great inner strength expecting her first child. An older woman
and knows her own mind. She made bought it as a wedding gift for her grand-
many sacrifices, including going back to work full- daughter. Although women may relate more to the
time when I was in elementary school, so we could book, I’ve also received positive feedback from men.
have a better life.
What is the one thing you most want to tell read-
Did you always follow your mother’s advice? What ers, other writers, booksellers, publishers, or
about the times when you didn’t? agents about you or your book?
I have pretty much ignored her warning not to eat Listen to Your Mother is a slice-of-life book.
chocolate because it makes your face break out, as Readers are bound to relate to some of the
well as her advice to not snack. My mom also advised, sayings and anecdotes. The book is available on
“Don’t rush; take your time.” One unfortunate day, I and on Amazon.
ignored this and another of her warnings, namely Wholesale bulk orders may be arranged with the
not to wear cuffed pants, as I’m a bit of a klutz. I was Daily American, parent company of Our Town.
rushing around doing errands during my lunch break Please contact me at and I
and caught the heel of my shoe in the cuff of the will forward requests to the publisher. You can also
other pant leg. I fractured my left big toe and was find me on Twitter @mts_wrtr and on Facebook
given crutches, which meant people around me were @Listen2urMother.
in for more comedy.
For more information, visit

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

Meet the Judges

The semifinal round of the 2018 BookLife Prize
will be judged by six bestselling and award-winning authors

n its third year, the BookLife Prize—an annual sophistication in submissions: “Making sure the
writing contest sponsored by Publishers Weekly story arc is satisfying without being obvious. Making
and BookLife—received more than 900 submis- sure the question the story is answering is the same
sions. Of those, 30 books advanced to the semifinals. one it asks at the beginning. Making sure loose ends
From there, a panel of six judges selected six titles are tied up, that subplots and themes are rich enough
to advance to the finals. The grand prize winner, to support something book length.” Working with
set to be announced on December 17, will be selected an editor on these and other matters, she says, can
by the judges and PW’s editorial staff. PW caught help indie authors “take their work to the next level.”
up with the six BookLife Prize judges to talk about And BookLife Prize entrants are clearly committed
self-publishing, writing, and a whole lot more. enough to their work to take that step, Brown says.
“If people are serious enough to enter and serious
Eleanor Brown: The Power of an Editor enough to get to this stage, it usually means they’re
Is there a difference between self-published and serious enough to have developed their work until
traditionally published work? According to Eleanor it’s something really solid.”
Brown, a returning judge and the author of three Brown selected Anne and Louis by Rozsa Gaston
traditionally published novels, there sometimes is, for the BookLife Prize finals, calling it “a lively,
but its not what one would expect. engaging story, rich with historical detail.”
“The difference I find is not about the writing but
about the editorial process,” Brown says. “Folks who Adam Croft: The Elusive Happy Ending
choose to self-publish—their writing and their stories The story of Adam Croft’s self-publishing career is
are often just as good. But someone else weighing the kind that inspires novice writers. Since 2011,
in could have helped when he self-published his first crime novel, Too Close
them strengthen the for Comfort, through Amazon’s Kindle Direct program,
book.” Croft has sold hundreds of thousands of books. As of
T h a t ’s w hy B row n 2016, according to a profile in the Guardian, his
thinks it’s a good idea proceeds were up to almost $3,000 per day.
for self-published But Croft advises aspiring writers not to read too
authors to work with much into such tales. “People often see the success
editors or critical read- stories out there and think it’s easily
ers, even if they’re still or quickly emulated,” he says. “It’s
in the middle of a proj- very, very possible, but it does
Brown ect. Editorial insight, require applied effort over time.”
even on a single story or chapter, can be useful in Croft gained renown with his
the long term, she says. 2015 novel Her Last Tomorrow,
Brown knows the value of editorial advice firsthand. which sold 150,000 copies in the
“I have a tendency to want a really happy, tight, tidy first five months after its publica-
ending,” she says. “With my first novel, my editor tion. “The truth is that was my ninth
said, ‘This is too tidy.’ So, I always make sure I untie book,” he says. “It’s a case
it just a little bit at the end.” of sticking with it.”
As a judge, Brown looks for signs of editorial Croft Croft does believe

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in the power of self-publishing, however. After he seriousness, she notes. “There’s a difference between
published Her Last Tomorrow, the author signed a bringing humor and warmth to a story that might
book deal with Amazon, but later ended his relation- have some difficulties and being blithe and glib.
ship with the company and says he wouldn’t work Glib is the enemy of
with a traditional publisher again. “Not unless the memoir.”
deal was extraordinary,” he says. “I’ve been there, Powell also says that
and it’s nowhere near as good.” she finds herself
In Croft’s view, the line between self-publishing drawn to memoirs by
and traditional publishing has blurred to the point people with a “vastly
of almost no longer existing. The self-published different—or even sub-
authors “who do it properly tend to use the same tly different—experi-
editors and the same cover designers as a traditional ence” than she’s pre-
publishing house,” he says. viously encountered.
For readers of crime novels, of course, it’s the Powell “You want your eyes
story that counts. According to the Guardian, in open to something you haven’t seen before,” she
2017 crime overtook general and literary fiction as adds. “There are only so many memoirs I can read
the most popular book genre in the U.K. That doesn’t about middle-aged white ladies having a renais-
surprise Croft. “I think the reason for that is that sance.”
we seek happy endings,” he says. “We like to see the Powell selected Of Monkey Bridges and Bánh Mì
bad guys get caught.” Sandwiches by Oanh Ngo Usadi for the BookLife
Croft selected A Lady and Gentleman in Black by Kelly Prize finals, praising the author’s “empathy and
Jameson for the BookLife Prize finals, calling the book vivid storytelling.”
a “fascinating and intriguing twist on the crime genre.”
Tim Pratt: Honor Thy Fans
Julie Powell: The “Tricky Genre” Tim Pratt, a returning judge, began his career in
After an author publishes her first memoir, does self-publishing in order to feed his fans. In 2009, he
she start looking at her life as a potential second published the fourth book in his Marla Mason series,
memoir? For a while after writing her bestselling about an adventurous witch, with Bantam Spectra,
debut memoir, Julie & Julia (which later became a film which was then a Random House imprint.
starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep), Julie Powell, Around that time, the industry entered dire straits.
a returning judge, did. She compares the experience “About a third of publishing was laid off,” Pratt
to affecting an “authentic” personality on social media. says—including his editor. The Marla Mason series
“On social media I try to present myself in an unvar- looked to be dead.
nished way,” Powell says. “But, still, you’re composing: Pratt had ended the fourth book in the series on a
‘Oh, this is an incident.’ All of us do some of that now.” cliffhanger; he and his editor had planned to publish
For memoirists, though, it can be more extreme. a fifth title. When it became evident that the series
“Immediately after writing Julie & Julia, I was definitely would not continue, readers wrote to him expressing
like, ‘What does this mean? How is this going to weave frustration that the story had been left unresolved.
into the warp and weft?’ ” she says. “I’ve kind of let go Pratt decided to serialize the fifth title on his web-
of that now, maybe just because my life is really boring.” site. He set up a PayPal account for readers who wanted
After all, for Powell, a good memoir is one that to pay for the book. He ended up taking in five figures.
brings context to a life, rather than one that focuses Since then, Pratt has self-published myriad novels
on its every particular. “Memoir is a tricky genre,” and short stories, sometimes collaborating with a
she says. “You want to hear this person’s innermost small publisher on distribution and design. These
unique thoughts. At the same time, you don’t want include several more titles in the Marla Mason series,
to spend 300 pages reading navel-gazing.” which he crowdfunds on Kickstarter. His income from
Memoirs also need to balance pathos with humor. these books tends to be similar to his income from
Readers don’t want to feel that they’re “slogging traditionally published works. Random House paid him
through the Bataan Death March of despair all the $20,000 per book in the Marla Mason series. The
time,” Powell says. “Levity is a vital thing.”But at Kickstarter campaigns for self-published Marla Mason
the same time, it shouldn’t come at the expense of titles have brought as much as $18,000 per book.

B O O K L I F E .C O M 53
Still, Pratt likes to keep a remains connected to the community of readers and
foot in the door of tradi- fellow writers she found there. She’s also drawing
tional publishing, partly to on her experience in publishing to counsel writers
grow the readership for his who are just starting out. In addition to judging
self-published output. “I’m contests such as the BookLife Prize, she works as a
fundamentally a lazy person, mentor with Pitch Wars, a program through which
so if I can have a publisher established writers help novices find agents.
get my books out in front “I’m picking writers out of the slush pile who I think
© norwesconb

of tens of thousands of have what it takes,” Sky says. It would appear that she
Pratt people through their distri- has good instincts. All her mentees thus far have
bution channels, I like that,” he says. landed agents, and a mentee of hers from two years
Pratt isn’t actually all that lazy. He works full-time ago went on to sign a six-figure book deal.
as a senior editor at the science fiction and fantasy Sky’s success story might inspire first-time writers
magazine Locus. He has one weekday off, Thursday, to publish their work as soon as possible, but she advises
and that’s his writing day. “I have no hobbies,” he caution. “Once you put your work out there, that’s it,”
jokes. “I write, and I hang out with my kids.” she says. “That’s your first work. Don’t rush into that.”
Given that Pratt lives and breathes science fiction Sky also recommends that writers do their research.
and fantasy, he’s looking for entries that feel fresh: “Take time to explore the genre,” she says. “Read a
books that couldn’t just as well have come from a lot of what’s been successful in self-publishing and
mainstream publisher and that don’t fit an already what’s been successful in traditional publishing and
robust niche in the genre. compare that to your work.”
Pratt selected Fid’s Crusade by David H. Reiss for the Sky selected Ray vs. the Meaning of Life by Michael
BookLife Prize finals, calling it “one of the most refreshing F. Stewart for the BookLife Prize finals. “This author
and lively takes on the superhero genre I’ve seen in years.” has a new fan in me,” she says.

Rebecca Sky: Know Your Audience Rebekah Weatherspoon:

By the time Rebecca Sky published her debut novel, Creating Space for Diversity
Arrowheart, with Hodder Children’s Books earlier this According to her website, Rebekah Weatherspoon,
year, she already had millions of readers. That’s because a returning judge, has held the following jobs:
she originally published the novel in serial format on “library assistant, meter maid, middle school teacher,
the user-generated storytelling platform Wattpad. At B-movie production assistant, reality show crew
present, Arrowheart, which is about a mermaid who chauffeur, D-movie producer, and her most fulfilling
can turn any man she kisses into a merman, has been job to date, lube and harness specialist at an erotic
read more than 12 million times on that website. boutique in West Hollywood.” In addition to all that,
Publishing on of course, she’s built a career as a romance author.
Wattpad, Sky says, Though she started out as a self-published author,
helped her hone her she eventually began working with traditional presses
craft. With millions of and recently signed a deal with Kensington.
people reading each Given Weatherspoon’s robust résumé, it’s perhaps
installment of the no surprise that her first advice to novice writers
book, “I learned how to is to figure out what kind of authorial output they
to take feedback and can sustain. “I don’t write as fast as some really
assess what worked prolific authors,” she says. “I can’t set myself up for,
© foxx foto

for me and worked for say, a Nora Roberts career. I just don’t write that
Sky m y s t o r y a n d m y fast. It’s important for people to sit down, think
vision,” she says. about what resources and tools they have at hand,
It also helped Sky shape her story so as to maximize what kind of time they have.”
reader satisfaction. “I was learning what my readers It’s also important for writers to take care of them-
were anticipating as I was writing,” she says. “I was selves. “Sleep is really important,” Weatherspoon says.
able to change direction or surprise them.” “If you’re sleep-deprived, you’re not going to put out
Sky no longer publishes on Wattpad, but she a good book, or it’s going to take you even longer.”

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Weatherspoon finds easier for me to find more romance novels with black
it odd that, in the writing heroines and queer people in the self-published
world, people don’t often realm. There are plenty of wonderful traditionally
talk about the actual published books by black women. But there aren’t
labor of composition. At as many.”
writing conferences and Weatherspoon runs the website WOC in Romance
seminars she’s attended, to promote the work of women of color in the genre,
“there’s always a lot talk and her community of fellow readers shares her
about what to do after sentiments. “We share new releases every week,
you finish your book, and 80% of the books we share are self-published,”
and there’s not a lot of she says.
talk about finishing the book,” she says. “A lot of Does Weatherspoon think that self-publishing is
people who are thinking about publishing or working putting pressure on traditional publishing to be
toward publishing, they haven’t really sat down and more diverse? “I would hope so,” she says. “But I
thought about finishing the book yet.” think if the pressure were actually there, traditional
And, ideally, when that book is finished, it’ll offer publishers would have done something about it
readers something they haven’t been expecting. As already. And they haven’t.”
a judge, Weatherspoon says, she’s looking for some- Weatherspoon selected After the Gold by Erin
thing “a little bit different.” McRae and Racheline Maltese for the BookLife Prize
That reflects her tastes as a reader more generally. finals, calling the book “a light yet magnetic tale of
When Weatherspoon looks for stories that reflect life and love.” ■
her experience, she often looks to self-published
books. “I’m a black queer woman,” she says. “It’s Daniel Lefferts is a writer living in New York.

B O O K L I F E .C O M 55

Seven Branding Tips

For Indie Authors
How writers can build stronger
brands and sell more books

Mark Coker

eaders seek out books by their favorite authors. brands to represent to readers, visualize the
How does an author achieve the level of experiences that their books will deliver to readers,
awareness, trust, and admiration needed visualize the legacies they want to leave with their
to become a favorite author? It all starts with writing, and be accurate in their marketing claims.
Think of an author brand as a bundle of percep- 2. Present a unified front. If self-published authors
tions and expectations that form in readers’ minds want readers to know and respect their brands,
over time. A brand is a promise; it’s what readers then they must take steps to ensure that their
expect from an author. books make good first impressions. This means
Strong brand affinity is the reason readers select professional cover designs and common design
an author’s self-published books over other books. themes across their lists to make books more
Brand is how authors build durable careers. recognizable to fans.
Authors with strong brands enjoy numerous Although experienced indie authors claim they
marketing advantages over those whose brands already know the importance of this, the truth is
are weaker. For example, authors with strong that most authors fall short of their potential.
brands are more likely to earn coveted book reviews Great cover design is so affordable that there’s
and retailer merchandising. The results of such simply no excuse for skimping. If an author writes
wins then feed into a self-reinforcing cycle that a series, the covers should share a unified design
generates more readership, greater visibility, and theme, all the way down to the colors, typestyles,
more sales. layout, and emotional feel. Whether an author
Authors with strong brands can also command writes series or standalones, there should be com-
higher prices for their books. In fact, the prices mon design elements that run through every cover
authors select for their books convey a promise for ever y book—and the same goes for author
about their brands. websites, social media profiles, and all marketing
Smart brand building is how unknown authors communications. Such unified elements foster
become known authors. Here are seven tips to help familiarity and make it easier for fans to recognize
authors cultivate stronger brands: an author’s work.

1. Visualize the destination. Although it’s pos- 3. Provide a consistent experience. What’s the
sible to build a strong brand by accident, most emotional or intellectual experience that readers
bestselling indie authors get there with deliberate can expect from an author’s books, and does that
planning and execution. Each author’s brand is experience align with the author’s brand identity?
found at the intersection of the author’s true Consistency fosters familiarity, trust, and confi-
capabilities and his or her desired brand percep- dence. Think of Starbucks coffee. A customer can
tion. Authors must visualize what they want their expect that a Starbuck s pumpkin spice latte

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purchased in Dallas will taste the same as a Starbucks 6. Practice ethical marketing. Ethics and honesty
pumpkin spice latte purchased in Denver or Detroit. are essential to successful author branding.
The customer knows what to expect both from Without ethics and honesty, it’s impossible to
Starbucks the coffee chain and from each indi- build reader trust. We’ve all heard stories of
vidually branded Starbucks custom coffee. The authors who cut ethical corners, like paying shills
customer’s confidence in the brand is reinforced to give them artificially glowing reviews. We’ve
with every purchase. all seen or read authors who promised one thing
with their covers, book titles, or book descriptions
4. Always delight. It’s difficult to earn reader trust but delivered another. Such actions sully an
but easy to squander it. As I’ve written in previous author’s brand. We remember these authors for
columns, good books aren’t good enough anymore. the wrong reasons.
With a glut of high-quality, low-cost books out
there, only super-fabulous books drive positive 7. Don’t pee in the pool. Be a nice person. No one
brand development for their authors. If an author’s likes mean, inconsiderate people. Publishing is a
books don’t take readers to an emotionally satisfy- people business. Authors’ brand perceptions are
ing extreme, every time, then the books aren’t shaped by every interaction—online and offline—that
good enough. they have with readers and fellow publishing
industry professionals. Be the author who contrib-
5. Continuously improve. It can be difficult for utes sunshine, helpfulness, and gratitude to the
authors to recognize their own shortcomings. party. Be the author others want to elevate.  ■
Authors should keep open minds, seek out critical
feedback, and always aim to continuously improve Mark Coker is founder of Smashwords and author
their implementation of best practices. of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide.

B O O K L I F E .C O M 57

Scouting Report
In this month’s roundup of the best-reviewed BookLife
titles, we highlight a pair of historical romances, a work of
urban fantasy, a mystery about abducted animals, and a
novel set in a world still plagued by the War of the Roses.

★ Stolen ★ The Cost of Hope


Synopsis: This series kickoff Synopsis: Carr delivers a

introduces Kieran Yates, a poignant message about
former Crown Counsel, who the meaning of freedom in
has left practicing law to the first Cost of Love
work as an investigator of historical.
crime related to animals. PW’s Takeaway: The message
PW’s Takeaway: Wright about freedom not always
combines her passionate being simple is significant
commitment to animal and well conveyed without
rights with a riveting whodunit that’s not being preachy or overstated. This well-told histor-
dependent on murder to sustain interest. ical romance is intense and powerful.
Comparable Titles: Robin Lamont’s The Chain and Comparable Title: Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary
The Trap Union
Sample Line: “I brooded. I drank immoderately. I Sample Line: “Sarah stared into the coffin-sized
bathed irregularly. I ate seldom and unwisely. I hole that represented the end of her hope. Mrs.
shut off my phone. I was becoming more and Williams was dead, and with her had died the
more unhinged, and I knew it.” little protection she provided.”
Read the Review: Read the Review:

★ A Queen ★ On the ★ Hero Forged

from the Edge of JOSH ERIKSON
North Daylight Synopsis: Erikson
ERIN MCRAE AND blazes onto the
RACHELINE urban fantasy
Synopsis: A beauti- scene with a cor-
fully crafted histor- nucopia of decep-
Synopsis: This series kickoff intro- ical romance about the journey tively simple worldbuilding and
duces an alternate world in which and eventual sinking of the Titanic. meticulously plotted storytelling.
the Wars of the Roses never ended. PW’s Takeaway: This expertly PW’s Takeaway: This is an intri-
PW’s Takeaway: A perfect cocktail characterized and tautly plotted cate mystery laced with humor
of intrigue and romance. story is an impressive debut. and lore.
Comparable Title: Rachel Hauck’s Comparable Title: Danielle Steel’s Comparable Titles: Jim Butcher’s
Once upon a Prince No Greater Love the Dresden Files series
Read the Review: publishers- Read the Review: publishers- Read the Review: publishers-

58 B O O K L I F E , N OV E M B E R 1 9 , 2 0 1 8

First Lines Changing Ways

“I think the world is ending.”
Our monthly look at some of the best
first lines from BookLife authors Birdseye Chronicles
“It was an ordinary day in the neigh-
In November, we’ve got bloody stars, ordinary borhood.”
days, and the joys of going commando. To submit
a first line, email
The Forgotten Flapper
A Day Out of Time LAINI GILES
KELSEY CLIFTON “You know, it’s really no fun haunting
“In Cat’s professional opinion, things people who refuse to be afraid of you.”
were already going to shit by the time
the pteranodon attacked.”
Persistence of Vision
The Awakened Ape “The stars were covered in blood.”
“The happiest people in the world don’t
wear underwear."

Ask It’s distracting and slows down

the plot by telling the reader
everyone around you—the cou-
ple arguing in the restaurant,

how the character feels, twice. the kids chatting on the bus.
It seems like an insult to the Take notes. Learn to write the
reader. way people talk.

Editer “ ‘I just got a big raise,’ Tina

said happily.” Obviously Tina is
happy about this.
4. Read your dialogue aloud. If
you find yourself stumbling over
A veteran editor answers “ ‘You are my best friend,’ words or it sounds stilted to you,
your writing questions Tom said honestly.” Is there a it probably is. Back to the draw-
reason to doubt Tom’s honesty? ing board, or rather, your note-
BY BETTY KELLY SARGENT “ ‘This thing is about to book. It’s like learning a new
explode,’ George said seriously.” language. After a while, it
Dear Editor: Duh! comes naturally.

M y dialogue is clunky. Any

suggestions? —Fred C. My other rules:
2. Leave out the small stuff.

“N ever use an adverb to mod-

ify the verb ‘said.’” That’s
“Hey dude, how’s your day going
so far?” If it’s not essential to Betty Kelly Sargent is the
rule #4 in “Elmore Leonard’s 10 the exchange between the two founder and CEO of BookWorks.
Rules of Writing.” I’d call it my characters, leave it out.
rule #1 in writing good dialogue. If you have a question for the
Doing this is a “mortal sin,” 3. Listen. Develop your ear for
BOOKWORKS_HALF_H_0715_Layout 1 7/24/15 10:12 AM Page 1
editor, please email Betty Sargent
according to Leonard. Why? language by listening to at

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.



New Titles from

Booksellers, publishers, librarians, and agents are encouraged to look at the 84
self-published titles below. Each appears with a list of retailers that are selling the
book and a description provided by its author. Some of these writers are waiting to
be discovered; others have track records and followings and are doing it on their
own. If you are a self-published author interested in listing titles in this section,
please visit for more information.
Fiction he fights the East Germans and present- Publishers. $16.95 paper (262p), ISBN 978-
Awakening day Germany to reclaim his father’s pre- 0-692-15390-1
Jackie Goldman, illus. by cious art collection. Amazon,
Noelia Dickson. Jackie A bunch of eclectic characters hunker
Goldman. $11.11 paper Christmastime 1939: down in abandoned boxcars, fed up with
(200p), ISBN 978-1- Prequel to the Christmastime Series digital life. They tell yarns with comical
72705-462-0 Linda Mahkovec. digs at contemporary society.
Amazon Bublish. $2.99 e-book,
A Brooklyn mother who ASIN B07HPG2T3T Licking the Salt Block
escapes insecurity by secretly penning Amazon, Apple iBooks, Jan Fink. Fifth Estate
adventure comic books featuring a, Google Play, Publishing. $15.99 paper
glamorous alter ego must decide what Ingram, Kobo, OverDrive (322p), ISBN 978-1-
to do when real life and fantasy converge. A young widow, Lillian 936533-60-2
Hapsey, is determined Amazon
Bocage to give her two small sons a happy A young girl grows up
Charles Birmingham. Christmas, despite difficulties. Can she with dysfunctional
Cider Circle Press. $16.99 rediscover the excitement and magic of parents in the Deep South during the ’50s
paper (422p), ISBN 978- Christmas? and ’60s, when racial and social preju-
0-692-16520-1 dices were at their peak.
Amazon The Civil War at Home
In this historical novel, Dustin McKissen. Working A Model Mind
a strange midnight Class Books. $9.99 paper Brad Kash. Senior
visit draws an American expat living in (219p), ISBN 978-1- Richardson Publishing.
France into a deadly adventure that pivots 73276-932-8 $16.99 paper (372p),
between present-day Normandy and the Amazon ISBN 978-0-9703272-
deadly hedgerow fighting of the Allied Two suburban men 1-5; $9.99 e-book, ISBN
breakout from Normandy in 1944. engage in a growing 978-1-73256-811-2
and deadly feud fed by assumptions, Amazon.
The Case of Emil Diesel about class, race, and the legacy of a, Kobo
Patricia Menton. Xlibris. horrific crime. Mega ’80s rock star Tommy Model loses
$19.99 paper(223p), ISBN it all only to find himself on top of the
978-1-984518-39-2 The Junk Yard charts again years later after a life-
Amazon,, Xlibris Solution: Adventures changing experience leads him to find
Inspired by true Among the Boxcars his true love and muse.
events, this story has and Other Lost
Max Diesel caught in a Causes Munching on the Sun
web of conspiracy as Peter Kelton. Edit Ink Mark Paul Oleksiw. Mark Paul Oleksiw.

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

$16.99 paper (296p), $22.99 hardcover (60p), ISBN 978-0- paper (374p), ISBN 978-
ISBN 978-1-77511-112-2 9975902-7-2; $11.99 paper (60p), ISBN 978- 1-73237-530-7
Amazon,, Chapters 0-9975902-9-6 Amazon
The coming-of-age Amazon, Books-a-Million Surviving combat and
story of Lukas Wunand, A modern, satirical threatened with exe-
a university student take on Rudolph the cution for desertion, a
with a darkened soul, Red-Nosed Reindeer. teen from West Kent
and his search for redemption and love. This tale of inclusion is forges a new family
for readers who love and future in Italy, only to face risking
My Husband’s Marriage Is Fine, but Christmas, Hanukkah, everything again, this time for love.
Mine Isn’t: Patience and Trust in God; or both. Illustrated throughout.
The Key to a Fulfilling Life Thursday’s Child: An Epic Romance
Aretha S. Larsen. iUniverse. Second Thoughts: Joseph Wurtenbaugh. GRealist Ink. $22.50
$10.99 paper (98p), ISBN Second Chances paper (665p), ISBN978-1-5205-1684-4;
978-1-5320-3084-0; D.C. Moses. Toplink $2.99 e-book, ASIN
$5.99 e-book, ISBN 978- Publishing. $15.99 paper B079QL4LW7
1-5320-3085-7 (398p), ISBN 978-1- Amazon
Amazon 949169-67-6 Adele Jansen, a gifted
After discovering her Amazon, young attorney, takes
husband has been living Two people of differ- one step off the career
a second life with another woman, Sarah ent generations radically change their track for an impromptu
must find the strength to withstand the lives, discovering second chances along excursion with a fasci-
crumbling of her marriage. the way. nating, mysterious man. But that one step
leads her into an odyssey.
Reminds Me of My Innocence: Amorous Short Story Treasures, 1
Adventures Among Kissing Cousins Amy Sheffield. Dorrance Publishing. $13 The Trevor Truculence: Amorous
Peter Kelton. Edit Ink paper (136p), ISBN 978- Adventures Among the Phoenician
Publishers. $16.95 paper 1-4809-3718-5 Antiquities in the South of Spain
(498p), ISBN 978-0- Peter Kelton. Edit Ink
692-17761-7 An eclectic mix of Publishers. $16.95 paper
Amazon,, Ingram short stories that (256p), ISBN 978-0-
This novel traces broth- delve into politics, 692-17198-1
erly and sisterly ties religion, mystery, and Amazon,
through a lifetime of much more. A Spanish fishing village
misadventures and a journey into absur- is thrust into the modern
dity, where Alzheimer’s takes the narrator. Tales from a Strange Southern Lady world as eccentric and
Jan Fink. Fifth Estate Publishing. $19.95 bizarre characters emerge in a parade of
Road to Antietam paper (276p), ISBN 978-1-936533-47-3 lust and occasional betrayal.
Tom E. Hicklin. Palmetto Amazon
Publishing Group. $12.99 Inthese10shortstories, Viking Warlord:
paper (278p), ISBN 978- the characters search A Saga of Thorkell the Great
1-64111-118-8 for meaning and free- David K. Mullaly. CreateSpace. $11.99 paper
Amazon dom, struggling with (327p), ISBN 978-1-72732-550-8; $2.99
Daniel and Christopher the human capacity e-book, ASIN
Galloway are teenagers for good and evil, the B07HY57NWT
when they join the Eighth Ohio Infantry capacity to love, Amazon
at the beginning of the Civil War. Expecting human frailty, the burden of guilt and Thorkell is an old Dane,
adventure, they instead find hardship sin, and realizing the dark side of their a survivor of raids and
and brutality. own nature. invasions, sharing his
life story so that his
Schmuck the Buck: Three Women and the River: The fame will live on: a
Santa’s Jewish Reindeer Englishman Who Forgot His Own Name historical Viking leader dealing with his
Exo Books, illus. by Karina Shor. Exo Books. William Harry Harding. Lymer & Hart. $24.95 past and his mortality.

62 B O O K L I F E , N OV E M B E R 1 9 , 2 0 1 8

The Wind’s Story
Anne B. Udy. Xlibris.
$24.19 paper (144p),
ISBN 978-1-5144-4320-
0; $4.99 e-book, ISBN
Amazon The victim may not be as evil as it seems,
This novel tells of
misunderstandings and obstacles,
but rather—a casualty of circumstances
challenging members of two royal families
and their servants. It’s not always clear Travel on Detective Sammy Shovel’s coat tails as he
who is royal and who is not. transforms from being despised by the San Francisco
Police Department into a successful private investigator
The Yesterlings: Secrets Among the over the course of four books. He delves into each
Wild Horses of Sable Island crime to learn what evil turns seemingly innocent people
Peter Kelton. Edit Ink into public enemy number one. James mischievously
Publishers. $16.95 paper combines two opposite words to the reader’s delight and
(330p), ISBN 978-0- crafty treats all with snappy dialog.
A yachting expedition
to a Canadian island
famed for wild horses
and shipwrecks uncovers a hoax in the
raw truth of Sable Island.

Forest Lungs
Andrew G. Zubinas.
Toplink Publishing.
$11.99 paper (142p),
ISBN 978-1-947620- ISBN: 978-0998175645 ISBN: 978-0998175683 ISBN: 978-0998175669
15-5 PAGES: 396 PAGES: 302 PAGES: 330

A book of poetry,
exploring healing and art, inspired by the
beauty of the Lithuanian language. AVAILABLE ON AMAZON
Dylan Saucedo. Dylan
Saucedo. $8 paper (97p),
ISBN 978-1-72680-309-0
“James’ new book ‘An
A poetry collection Adventurous Night’ is a
acknowledging bad TAUT MYSTERY!”
feelings—feelings many — Publisher’s Weekly
of us experience and relate to but that
often aren’t given the attention they deserve.
ISBN: 978-0998175621 | PAGES: 134
Tributaries: A Book of Poetry
Pamala Ballingham. Earth Mother
Productions. $14.98 paper (152p),
ISBN 978-0-922104-36-9

B O O K L I F E .C O M 63

Amazon The Lawyer in Medellín On the Count of Three
The power of words Richard Hedlund. New Generation Publishing. Carolyn Arnold. Hibbert &
reveals deep meaning $6.34 e-book, Stiles Publishing. $15.99
in complex matters of ASIN B07CQ4JYH9 paper (458p), ISBN 978-
life and death. Amazon 1-988353-74-6; $5.99
Ballingham was Stuart Gleeman is in e-book, ISBN 978-1-
inspired by the wonders Colombia on business. 988353-73-9
of living. Before he leaves, MI6 Amazon,
asks him for a favor: Being convicted of DUI vehicular homicide
Mystery/Thriller deliver a parcel to a made her a target for a serial killer. Now
The Berlin Tunnel: A Cold War Thriller family in Medellín. What could possibly she’s missing. Can the FBI save her in time?
Roger L. Liles. Acorn Publishing. $24.99 go wrong?
hardcover (456p), ISBN Urban Limit
978-1-947392-28-1; Let Her Go Steve Zell. Tales From Zell. $14.99 paper
$15.95 paper(456p), D.J. Adamson. Horatio (408p), ISBN 978-0-9847468-4-2; $7.49
ISBN978-1-947392-27-4 Press. $14.86 paper audio, ASIN
Amazon, Apple iBooks, (448p), ISBN 978-1- B01MAV0PMF, Google Play, 73267-221-5 Amazon, Apple iBooks,
Kobo, Scribd Amazon Audible
Spy vs. spy in Cold War Murder. Betrayal. While Kristi trains for
Berlin as America builds a top-secret Love gone wrong. Olympic gold, her twin
tunnel under the river Spree to tap into Understanding how emotional dilemmas brother conquers an
Russian communications links. The strained the family emboldens Lillian online medieval world.
Berlin Wall closes, resulting in a crisis. Dove to find the prime witness to the In the Oregon wilderness, their worlds
Conrad truths. are about to collide.
Death Opens a Window:
Mourning Dove Mysteries, Book 2 Murder on the Lake of Fire: SF/Fantasy/Horror
Mikel J. Wilson. Acorn Mourning Dove Mysteries, Book 1 ...And, Her Name Will Be Called Hagit
Publishing. $14.95 paper Mikel J. Wilson. Acorn Publishing. $14.95 Mitchell J. Rycus. CreateSpace. $8.65 paper
(286p), ISBN 978-1- paper (316p), ISBN 978- (217p), ISBN 978-1-71754-060-7
947392-38-0; $5.99 1-947392-06-9 Amazon
e-book, ASIN Amazon, Apple iBooks, Growing up a black
B07H2669PZ, Kobo woman of Jewish
Amazon, Apple iBooks, Special agent Emory descent, Hagit even-, Kobo Rome returns to the tually becomes the
As he struggles with the consequences Smoky Mountains president of the U.S.
of his last case, Emory Rome returns to hometown he aban- But her friends notice
investigate another bizarre murder. doned to investigate the bizarre death of something strange
an ice-skater and an apparent case of happening to her, and what they learn
Immortal Wounds: spontaneous human combustion. will change the world forever.
A Doctor Nora Kelly Mystery
Kate Scannell. Word Haven Media. $11.99 No Deadlier Destiny Beyond a Veiled Reflection:
paper (343p), ISBN 978-1-73257-140-2; Jeanette A. Fratto. Anachronistic Dimensions, Book Two
$3.99 e-book, ISBN 978-1-73257-141-9 Outskirts Press. $14.95 Christine Church. Grey Horse Press. $2.99
Amazon, Apple iBooks,, Ingram, Kobo paper (226p), ISBN 978- e-book, ASIN B07DTB2PB6
A doctor recovering 1-977203-18-2 Amazon
from a family tragedy Amazon,, Can Dane and
is drawn back into her Books-a-Million Meirah’s love survive
life during a perilous A probation officer is the ultimate betrayal?
quest to solve the mys- forced into hiding when threatened, Readers who’ve seen
tery of multiple deaths takes matters into her own hands, and Mikaire will now enter
among the staff at risks all she holds dear. Almareyah, where
Oakland City Hospital. even a mere step into

64 B O O K L I F E , N OV E M B E R 1 9 , 2 0 1 8


a puddle of water can mean torture, Chasing Colton’s Tail Gardens of Corfu
agony, and death. Todd Aldrington. Athlete Rachel Weaving, illus. by
Raccoon’s Books. $4.99 Marianne Majerus.
A Life Without End e-book, ASIN B07J9LC5JJ Impress Publishing. $65
Garland DeNelsky. Xlibris. Amazon, Apple iBooks, hardcover (256p), ISBN
$19.99 paper (302p),, Kobo 978-1-9997825-1-1
ISBN 978-1-984512- Todd is an athletic Amazon
03-1; $3.99 e-book, ISBN raccoon who’s just This first-ever book
978-1-984512-04-8 come of age and secretly fancies an on the gardens of Corfu, greenest of the
Amazon edgy fox named Colton. They’ll share Greek islands, spans the range from
Stan Miller, obsessed either an unforgettable prom night or romantic old estates to contemporary
since childhood with death and the a complete disaster. works by international designers.
afterlife, is cryonically preserved (frozen).
Reanimated in 2068, he is stunned by Nonfiction God’s Unreasonable Reasoning:
the dramatically altered world, especially The Adversity Advantage: Turn Your What God Is Up to When Things in Life
the short-term marriage contracts. Childhood Hardship into Career and Don’t Make Sense
Life Success Preston Williams II. iUni-
The Prisoner Jude Miller Burke. Wisdom verse. $13.99 paper
Sara Allyn. Kindle Direct. Editions. $16.99 paper (238p), ISBN 978-1-
99¢ e-book, (165p), ISBN 978-1- 5320-5811-0; $3.99
ASIN B07GYLKMMK 939548-67-2 e-book, ISBN 978-1-
Amazon Amazon 5320-5810-3
Imagine a world with no Based on a study of Amazon,
money and no politi- 300 men and women A spiritual guidebook that can help you
cians. Imagine a world who overcame hardships to have per- understand God’s reasoning in life’s
where lawyers don’t take sides and men sonal and workplace success. The book many transitions.
and women always get along perfectly provides real and inspiring stories,
well. If only it was safe to go outside. insights, and specific techniques. A Guide for Writing Teachers:
How to Build Effective Writing
The Separation Alzheimer’s with Communities in College
Thomas Duffy. My Mother, Eilleen LaRonce M. Hendricks.
CreateSpace. $12.99 Jim Dicke II. Orange AuthorHouse. $10.99
paper (306p), ISBN 978- Frazer Press. $14 paper paper (70p), ISBN 978-
1-983520-87-7 (99p), ISBN 978-1- 1-5246-9739-6; $3.99
Amazon, 939710-96-3 e-book, ISBN 978-1-
This is the story of a, 5246-9738-9
future where the sexes Amazon Amazon
are separated at birth and young people A candid look at what the Alzheimer’s A helpful tool for teach-
aren’t allowed to meet (or know about) sufferer’s family can expect. ers, exposing educational perspectives on
the opposite sex for the first 22 years of how negative predispositions prevent a
their lives. The Christians’ God Does Not Exist! student from performing at high levels.
Yes, He/She Does! It Is Matter That
Romance/Erotica Does Not Exist! A History of the Apocalypse (second ed.)
All the Wrong Reasons Proncell F. Johnson Jr. Catalin Negru. Catalin Negru. $25 paper
Jerilee Kaye. CreateSpace. $3.99 e-book, Dorrance Publishing. (637p), ISBN 978-1-387-
ASIN B07JJBG1NX $43 paper (870p), ISBN 91116-5; $2.99 e-book,
Amazon, Apple iBooks, 978-1-4809-4107-6 ISBN 978-1-387-, Kobo 91839-3
What happens when a The material universe Amazon, Apple iBooks,
prim and proper virgin is one big illusion. All Kobo, Lulu
has a one-night stand things are spiritual, the manifestation of Every generation thinks
with the city’s most God. Johnson’s proof is based on a law that its problems are
wanted playboy? of physics. the most important ever. Thus, people

B O O K L I F E .C O M 65

always see signs in their times, and the end Looking to the Stars from Old Algiers and their consciousness through specific
of the world is constantly a fresh subject. Other Long Stories Short meditation techniques that can help them
Jan Risher. Sans Souci develop the power to control their destiny
Inside Hollywood Books. $9.99 e-book, and prevent failure and disease.
Marsha Ross. ISBN 978-1-946160-33-1
CreateSpace. $35 paper, Amazon, My Pashtun Rabbi: A Jew’s Search for Truth,
(200p), ISBN 978-1- Meaning, and Hope in the Muslim World
5440-3100-2 This book is Risher’s David Eden. BookBaby.
Amazon collection of columns, $32.56 hardcover (344p),
A book of thoughts and which creates a narrative ISBN 978-0-692-08615-
art about love, life, and of her aim to build her family and commu- 5; $17.95 paper (344p),
success in the movie capital of the world. nity, and weave the stories and lessons ISBN978-1-5439-3155-6
from the past into the present. Amazon, BookBaby
It’s All in the Name Eden chronicles his
Keith Brovald. Xlibris. “Love Letters”: Deep time as the “journal-
$15.99 paper (110p), Affection; Fondness ism expert” at United Arab Emirates
ISBN 978-1-5434-4602- Claudia Rhodes. Xlibris. University during the 2008–2009 school
9; $3.99 e-book, ISBN $19.99 paper (108p), year, as the world’s economy collapsed
978-1-5434-4603-6 ISBN 978-1-5434-4935- and war erupted in Gaza.
Amazon 8; $3.99 e-book, ISBN
This book contains a 978-1-5434-4936-5 My Soul Is Filled with
categorized list of possible names that Amazon Joy: A Holocaust Story
have other meanings (e.g., Luke Warm, Telling your truth will free you of any Karen I. Treiger. Stare
Justin Tyme, Jim Nasium). complications in life. All parents should Lipki Press. $14.99 paper
write their own stories for their children. (315p), ISBN 978-0-692-
Kick-Ass Kinda Girl: A Memoir of Life, 11579-4
Love, and Caregiving M.A.R.E.S.: Mature, Attractive, Amazon
Kathi Koll. Ward Respectable, Even-Tempered, Single, This is a tale of
Publishing. $16 paper Professional Ladies over Forty Holocaust survivors Sam and Esther
(276p), ISBN 978-1- Sherry Lynne. iUniverse. Goldberg, and of the author as she tells of
73236-490-5 $13.99 paper(180p), ISBN her writing journey the past three years.
Amazon,, 978-1-5320-1098-9
IndieBound Amazon,,iUniverse Nostradamus Speaks Again:
Koll unveils an unex- Do women over 40 Heaven Paradise
pected life of joy, adventure, and great who pursue younger Elisabeth Jörgensen.
sadness with honesty and humor as she men want to be called Balboa Press. $2.85
navigates the realities of life as a full- cougars? For those who paper (160p), ISBN 978-
time caregiver. aspire to a higher level of femininity and 1-4525-1489-5
professionalism, Lynne has coined the Amazon
Lean but Not Mean acronym MARES for confident, attractive, An exploration of human
Anil K. Singhal. Anil K. fun-loving, and financially secure ladies nature as well as the
Singhal. $20 hardcover who magnetize a man searching for complicated times we are now approaching.
(200p), ISBN 978-1- those qualities.
73244-750-9 Notes from the Trenches: A Musician’s
Amazon Meditate to Unlock Awareness Journey Through World War I
Singhal takes a con- Edna E. Craven. Toplink Gary H. Foster. Outskirts
trarian’s view to the Publishing. $22.99 paper Press. $24.95 paper
question of how to run a successful cor- (88p), ISBN 978-1- (306p), ISBN 978-1-
poration by prescribing his “lean but not 949169-98-0 4787-9274-1
mean” approach. Amazon, Amazon
Craven argues that Foster retraces his
readers can overcome grandfather’s footsteps
limitations and expand from enlistment in the

66 B O O K L I F E , N OV E M B E R 1 9 , 2 0 1 8


National Guard to the trench battles in hostile world. a game plan that utilizes the same science-
France during WWI to his joyful home- based exercise and diet approach that
coming. The Road to Glory: Meditations on the has worked for Wood’s clients for more
Way from Here to Heaven than 30 years.
Operation Wappen: A War that Never Was Thomas Dillon. WestBow
Robert K. Maddock Jr. Xlibris.$41.99 paper Press. $10.99 paper (166p), Unwelcome
(84p),ISBN978-1-5434- ISBN 978-1-973623- Opportunity:
6084-1; $3.99 e-book, 65-6; $3.99 e-book, ISBN Overcoming Life’s
ISBN978-1-5434-6085-8 978-1-973623-64-9 Greatest Challenges
Amazon Amazon Richard V. Battle. Outskirts
The story of a CIA-MI6 Theologian and lawyer Press. $14.95 paper (162p),
Middle East 1957 Dillon explores signs, ISBN 978-1-977201-64-5
military adventure to overthrow the illustrations, and symbols in Scripture Amazon,
Syrian government and a return of knights that will guide us on the right road on the Battle faced multiple tests in a short
to the battlefield. way from here to heaven. period of time and shares how he, with
God’s daily provision, overcame them.
Out of the Lion’s Den Spirit and Soul: Odyssey of a Black Man
Susan Mattern. in America What Endures: An Amerasian’s Lifelong
CreateSpace. $7.99 Theodore Kirkland. Xlibris. Struggle During and
e-book, ASIN B01LDTR6KI $23.99 paper (522p), After the Vietnam War
Amazon ISBN 978-1-4691-8625- John Vo. Xlibris. $15.99
The true story of five- 2; $3.99 e-book, ISBN paper (76p), ISBN 978-
year-old Laura Small’s 978-1-4691-8627-6 1-5434-8229-4; $3.99
attack by a mountain Amazon e-book, ISBN 978-1-
lion in a California park, with family, In this autobiography, 5434-8230-0
cover-ups, legal battles, and beliefs Kirkland offers critical insight and Amazon
pushed to the brink. politically cognizant commentary on Vo came to America in 1987 as a refu-
the past, future, and real-time reality of gee from war-ravaged Vietnam. This is
Paul and the Dispersion: The Teacher’s race relations in America. his lifelong story of hope and despair,
Edition triumph and defeat.
Richard J. Willoughby Sr. Stupid Cupid: A Survivor’s Guide to
iUniverse. $33.99 paper Online Dating What to Expect as an Adult
(162p), ISBN 978-1- Alison O’Donnell. Linda Tengan Wright. Linda Sue Tengan Wright.
5320-1239-6; $3.99 Stillwater River $12.95 e-book, ISBN
e-book, ISBN 978-1- Publications. $20 paper 978-0-578-40935-1
5320-1240-2 (297p), ISBN 978-1- Amazon
Amazon 946300-25-6 Wright discusses the
This book equips teachers to explore Authoralisonodonnell. importance of credit,
and explain Paul’s mission to the Jews of com, Amazon, finances, education,
the Diaspora, revealing the scope of this Chronicling 100 horrific dates, the author renting a home, buying
often-overlooked aspect of his wide- gives online dating advice for men and a car, and much more.
ranging apostolic work. women. Written in short snippets, it’s an
easy read that’s as fun as it is practical. The Yankee Way:
Pulpit Friction: Reawakening the The Bluepaper that Created America
Church’s Voice in a Political Wilderness TBC30: 6 Steps to a Stronger, Troy Tyson. Courant Publishing. $14.95 paper
Ken Kinton. WestBow Healthier You (266p), ISBN 978-1-
Press. $13.95 paper Michael Wood. Wicked 73278-120-7
(156p), ISBN 978-1- Whale Publisher. $14.95,
973641-56-8 paper (244p), ISBN 978- Amazon,
Amazon,, Ingram 1-73219-250-8 How did America
Kinton examines the Amazon, Apple iBooks, become great? This
challenges facing the book proposes that
church in a politically The TBC30 plan offers America’s unparalleled

B O O K L I F E .C O M 67

success stems from the traits of a small, everyone feel included? K My Name Is Kendra
peculiar ethnic group from New England Kamichi Jackson. Kindle Direct. $9.95 paper
known as the Yankees. Carol and Santa (178p), ISBN 978-1-5410-3303-0
Karen O. Cotton. Karen O. Amazon
You Are Not Alone: Cotton. $7.99 paper Fifteen-year-old
A Heartfelt Guide (89p), ISBN 978-0-578- Kendra’s life begins to
to Grief, Healing, 40033-4 spiral with the visit of a
and Hope Amazon, celebrity uncle, who
Debbie Augenthaler. Carol Bell, an eight- sets his sights on her
Everystep Publishing. year-old cowgirl who and the return of the
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Augenthaler, a licensed mental health Nona Ransom, illus. by Windel Eborlas. Xlibris.
counselor, combines her personal story of The Handy Helpers: Not a Happy $17.99 paper (38p), ISBN 978-1-5434-
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The Adventures of Camellia N.: 1-5434-5598-4; $3.99 Carina wants to go
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Amazon,, Booktopia Power Hunt (ArcMed, Book 1) (ArcOn 3)
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one of the most important and lush hardcover (40p), ISBN 978-1-5456-3986-3; B07F36VVML
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978-1-5456-3490-5 They thought that, as
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ISBN 978-1-4836- about a cat whose life easy target, but they
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Amazon to this change and discovers new and with some extraordinary abilities, she races
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go on adventures than
sleep all day. Jim Crow Must Die! The Secrets of
Harriet A. Dickey. Hawthorne House
Alycat and the CreateSpace. $7.99 Donald Firesmith. Mage
Friendship Friday paper (158p), ISBN 978- Press. 99¢ e-book,
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illus. by Chiara Civati. Amazon Amazon, Apple iBooks,
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hardcover (38p), ISBN 1966, and 10-year-old Matt’s life changes
978-1-68401-903-8 junior militant and Chicago native Hannah forever when a family of witches moves
Amazon,, Books-a-Million, Powell’s Jordan is making her annual trip to into the dilapidated Victorian mansion
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someone feels left out. Can Alycat use with segregation that she is unfamiliar with, and the clash of two very different cul-
her creativity and imagination to help so she decides something must be done. tures. ■

68 B O O K L I F E , N OV E M B E R 1 9 , 2 0 1 8

Fiction and Jamal’s ethics pushing him toward a

dangerous, climactic confrontation. The
herself against a vicious attack by her
enslaver, 22-year-old Soleil flees with her
truths here are poignant, and the realities five-year-old-daughter, Hope. They are res-
Beach Body Boogie of racism, homophobia, and the exploita- cued by 25-year-old Alex Cummings, a
Timothy Fagan. Fireclay, $14.99 trade paper tion of young athletes are scrutinized by an powerful white plantation owner who rec-
(384p) ISBN 978-1-7324596-0-1 insightful author who leaves readers with ognizes the confused woman as Soleil Dufor,
Carl Hiaasen fans will enjoy Fagan’s the hopeful message that “You become his former love interest, who mysteriously
tongue-in-cheek first novel, a series launch strongest in your broken places.” disappeared six years earlier. Soleil is a for-
set on Cape Cod. Three years after Pepper midable and sympathetic protagonist
Ryan was kicked off the New Albion, Mass., Catherine Lescault whose role as a mother makes her both resil-
police force following a botched drug Walter Idlewild. Fårö, $15.99 trade paper ient and vulnerable to those threatening
stakeout, he receives a second chance. (334p) ISBN 978-0-9986226-0-6 their freedom. Even as Soleil’s connections
Pepper’s return to duty coincides with the Idlewild’s novel is a fantastic exploration to wealth and her history with Alex are
discovery of a bizarre crime—beachcombers of the creative process and the horror of cre- gradually revealed, the tension remains
find the body of Arnold Keser buried in the ation, heavily rooted in Honoré de Balzac’s high as Soleil battles prejudice against
sand, under a tarp. Keser was shot and then “The Unknown Masterpiece.” Balzac’s former slaves and loopholes in emancipa-
steamed to death in a clambake, with a red characters move through the novel as spirits tion. The message about freedom not always
starfish left on the corpse. The Secret Service and paintings, each a different incarnation being simple is significant and well con-
reveals to the New Albion PD that the dead in a mirrored world. In the opening episto- veyed without being preachy or overstated.
man was one of theirs, assigned to do laries, Mary Frenhofer hopes that the “rari- French-speaking readers may be distracted
advance security work before President fied air” of an inherited country home will by inaccuracies in Soleil’s use of the French
Wayne Garby’s vacation in the vicinity— help her husband recover from depression language, but the writing is otherwise
and that they’re taking seriously a recently and finish his masterpiece, a book years in smooth. This well-told historical romance
received death threat to POTUS, which the making; she doesn’t know that the is intense and powerful.
features a drawing in red of a starfish and house is marred by a torturous history of
signed “R.I.P. Garby. U took my candy!” artists going mad and muses dying within. Gaia Twist
Pepper, who ends up as the liaison to the “The house of fiction has many rooms,” Dr. Doug Walker. CreateSpace, $15.99 trade
feds, races frantically to prevent the assas- Frenhofer observes. “But in this house a paper (392p) ISBN 978-1-71918-732-9
sination. Fagan manages the impressive feat room is missing.” The novel takes a sharp A mysterious toxin contaminating the
of balancing suspense and humor. turn into the unreal when Dr. Frenhofer is food supply threatens Earth in 2816 in
proven to be right; a portrait of the dead this mixed debut novel from physicist
Broken Places artist Porbus is found in a hidden room, and Walker, whose storytelling isn’t as inno-
Roland Martin. iUniverse, $18.95 trade paper from it he walks like a specter. In a mirror vative as his scientific concepts. Southwest
(300p) ISBN 978-0-595-52961-2 universe, Porbus’s muse Gillette is the Saskatchewan field monitor Galen Sjøfred,
Martin’s intense and profound novel is ingénue painter seeking to perfect her mas- a stereotypical former hero fallen from
about battles that are waged with society, terpiece, and Mary’s letters are found docu- grace, is alerted to the crisis when he dis-
authority, the self, and others. Three young ments. Gillette is Pygmalion, and Porbus covers dead animals littering the soybean
African-American men are assigned to share is entirely her creation. Idlewild’s novel fields he oversees. The totalitarian Earth
a dorm room as college freshmen at becomes a palimpsest in itself; pieces of Authority’s Minister of Organic Resources
Pittsburgh City University, but their dif- Balzac’s original narrative are obscured and is desperate to cover up the existence of
ferences are daunting. Shawn Collins, over- repurposed, until the novel itself imitates Toxin X and orders the immediate arrest of
sexed and egotistic, is a rising basketball Balzac’s fictional painting of Catherine Galen and his nieces, Kessa and Marta
star showered with elaborate recruiting Lescault. Idlewild’s exploration of the Dahlstrom, who are visiting from the planet
gifts (including a BMW). Robert Robinson, nature of art is a bewildering, beautiful New Gaia. Pilots Jet Castilian and Stoke
at school on an academic scholarship, is gay, novel full of intriguing characters. Omroni join the cast of wooden characters
but he’s repressed by guilt and his religious when an inexplicably rash decision forces
faith, and he’s always braced for harassment. ★ The Cost of Hope them to help the Dahlstrom sisters evade
Jamal Lewis also won an academic scholar- G.S. Carr. Gabrielle O. Brown, $3.99 e-book the government pursuit. Walker’s solid sci-
ship; he maturely and wisely tries to serve (194p) ISBN 978-1-71955-223-3 entific concepts paint a believable vision of
as a bridge between his two roommates, Carr (Divorce Wars) delivers a poignant Earth’s future, but the combination of
befriending Robert and tutoring Shawn. message about the meaning of freedom in overly familiar plot tropes with two-dimen-
Their lives are changed by the semester they the first Cost of Love historical. Carr wastes sional characters detracts from the stimu-
spend together, with Shawn’s coach and no time in vividly setting up Soleil’s dra- lating premise and thematic exploration
ex-girlfriend manipulating him, Robert’s matic and hard-hitting plight as a former of isolationism vs. community.
longings causing him fear and confusion, slave in 1860s Alabama. After defending

B O O K L I F E .C O M 68a
Goodbye, Magnolia readers may feel misled and annoyed. of old gods, only Vale, demigod hacker Zian,
Krista Noorman. CreateSpace, $10.99 trade Melissa’s villainous mother and an unex- and ambitious Texan journalist Candice
paper (250p) ISBN 978-1-5024-7790-3 pected relative are irredeemable, making Kennedy can stop it. Comby (Blind Chess)
This appealing Christian romance from the reader wish for their demises as soon as ably handles dynamic action, and Cold
Noorman (Bittersweet) explores how rash possible, and Faber’s late, sharp veer into City’s post–Great Recession instability fits
judgments can stand in the way of true love. thriller territory just doesn’t ring true. detective noir well. However, close adher-
Rival wedding photographers Maggie ence to 1930s tropes feels dated at best, ret-
James and Simon Walker are both talented, ★ Hero Forged: rograde at worst: Vale’s Chandleresque
driven, and determined, and love weddings Ethereal Earth, Book 1 banter includes a dash of glaring misogyny,
as expressions of the leap of faith. But Simon Josh Erikson. Josh Erikson, $3.99 e-book with every adult woman sexualized, labeled
also feels that Maggie misjudged him when (346p) ASIN B07CZ51BXD “bitch,” or both. Casual jokes about Asians
they briefly dated over 10 years ago, and he’s Debut author Erikson blazes onto the eating bugs and a villain’s bad English only
never gotten over her. However, although urban fantasy scene with a cornucopia of increase the discomfort. These dusty stereo-
they have a clear chemistry when they run deceptively simple worldbuilding and types undermine even the most jaded read-
into each other preparing for weddings, meticulously plotted storytelling. Gabe is er’s enjoyment of an otherwise fine magical
Maggie allows Simon to charm her only a professional con man in dire need of homage to hardboiled crime fiction.
briefly before repeatedly shutting him money to ensure his ill father’s continuing
down. The repetition of this cycle becomes care. When the perfect way to earn some The Italian Couple
tedious as it plays out from one wedding to quick cash appears, Gabe jumps on the J.R. Rogers. J.R. Rogers, $4.99 e-book (434p)
the next. After one too many rejections— opportunity, only to learn—the hard way— ASIN B07C4XW4MY
for both Simon and the reader—Simon that nothing good comes cheap: he and This suspenseful combination romance
finally decides he needs to give up. But will several others are set up to be consumed by and espionage thriller centers on a married
his faith in the destiny he believes in allow powerful unearthly beings called Umbras, couple in despair in Fascist Italy under
him to move on? Although the book is and after the ritual is botched, Gabe ends Benito Mussolini’s rule. In 1938, in the
heavy on dialogue and light on character up with one of them in his head. Suddenly city of Asmara, known as Little Rome in
development, Norman’s message of faith Gabe’s narrow view of the world is exponen- the Italian Eritrea colony of East Africa,
and perseverance will find an audience with tially expanded, and he’s forced to reeval- Col. Francesco Ferrazza, a cagey Italian
readers of inspirational romance. uate his entire concept of self while dealing military information officer, is tasked with
with the Umbras and trying to stop the ones Operation Red Lion, a sabotage operation
Heartbreak at Roosevelt Ranch who are out to destroy humankind. This is ordered by Mussolini. Through manipula-
Elise Faber. Elise Faber, $2.99 e-book (250p) an intricate mystery laced with humor and tion and enticements, the colonel begins
ASIN B07BKB77H7 lore. Precise characterization, and an equal to groom local mechanic and novice race
Faber continues her Roosevelt Ranch focus on personal evolution and the car driver Mario Caparrotti to carry out the
series (Disaster at Roosevelt Ranch) with this everyday fantastic, lend the novel a satis- destruction; one of the colonel’s schemes
uneven contemporary tale about a food fying gravitas. Fans of Jim Butcher and includes Mario becoming the lover of the
blogger and a cop whose marriage appears Craig Schaefer will gobble up this trilogy colonel’s wife, British-born Emilia, who
to be hitting the rocks. Melissa is content launch and eagerly await more. reluctantly goes along with the ruse. The
with her life as a wife and mother in sabotage scheme begins unraveling when
Darlington, Utah, until she finds a secret Hostile Takeover: Mario demands more money after
cellphone with messages that imply her Vale Investigation, Book 1 becoming involved in the colonel’s cover-
husband, Rob, is having an affair with a Cristelle Comby. Cristelle Comby, $3.99 e- up of a murder, and Emilia begins an
mysterious woman named Celeste. As if book (355p) ASIN B07D2MWFN7 affair with Gyles Aiscroft, a British free-
that’s not enough, when an unexpected This brisk paranormal noir innovatively lance foreign correspondent and part-
dinner party at her sister’s turns into a combines gods and gentrification, but stale time intelligence agent working for her
chance for Melissa to have her own cable genre artifacts leave a bad aftertaste. In an father. The novel’s pacing is skillful and
cooking show, she’s thrilled—but her hus- alternate version of the present-day U.S., precise, leading ultimately to an unfore-
band isn’t, further driving a wedge between private eye Bellamy Vale works for Lady seen and terrifically satisfying ending.
the two and making divorce seem likely. McDeath—death incarnated as a classic Rogers’s depiction of Asmara—its stra-
Faber’s competent characterization (par- femme fatale—whose quick-healing powers tegic significance, architecture, and how it
ticularly of Melissa and her pregnant sister, he accesses in exchange for fealty. She sends was modeled after a typical Italian city,
Kelly, the heroine of the first book) pulls him to hunt a murderous part-beast ber- even incorporating a car race with Mario
the reader into the story, a heartbreaking serker through Cold City. When the ber- as a driver in the novel’s introduction—is
view into a marriage devolving—so when serker’s seemingly random maulings unfold both a richly visual impression of Rome
Faber takes an almost cartoonishly soap into an otherworld-spanning plot rooted in and a dark reminder of Mussolini’s rule.
opera–like series of detours late in the book, real estate, gentrification, and the worship

68b B O O K L I F E , N OV E M B E R 1 9 , 2 0 1 8

Last Call ★ On the Edge of Daylight: leading an Outer Sphere terrorist group.
Libby Kirsch. Sunnyside, $12.99 trade paper A Novel of the Titanic Beyer gives the reader little time to soak up
(250p) ISBN 978-0-9969350-8-1 Giselle Beaumont. Trek, $11.99 trade paper atmosphere or to puzzle out the mysteries
Janet Black, the heroine of this appealing (474p) ISBN 978-1-980593-22-5 of his universe (such as the presence of tele-
series launch from Kirsch (the Stella In this beautifully crafted historical pathic alien AIs that boost human intelli-
Reynolds series), is proud of the Knoxville, romance about the journey and eventual gence), but the fast pacing, occasional
Tenn., bar she owns. She’s determined to be sinking of the Titanic, debut author humor, and clear split between the good
a level-headed and responsive boss to her Beaumont weaves facts with fiction to guys and bad guys push a lot of questions
rag-tag group of employees—and a warm create a transcendent tale. The author mod- out of the way as the action pulls the reader
face to her eccentric patrons. But circum- estly points out that the novel is not a 100% forward.
stances take a sinister turn when Janet dis- accurate portrayal of the tragedy, but it’s
covers a body—that of a bar regular, Ike close enough that readers will feel as if they Piercing Maybe
Freeman—behind the Dumpster of her bar. have experienced the disaster personally. Dan Cray. Third Quandary, $16 trade paper
Amid the chaos of swarming cops and con- When feisty Seventh Officer Esther Bailey (340p) ISBN 978-1-940317-07-6
fused regulars, Ike’s daughter plants roots and her commanding officer, Will Murdoch, This science fiction thriller tantalizes
at the bar, refusing to budge until the police meet, cutting wit ensues—and the two with a bold, intriguing, and original
solve the crime. Janet’s own sleuthing leads quickly recognize their sparring as enticing premise, touching on themes of human
her to uncover the victim’s hidden past and foreplay. Rules prohibit a romance until the potential and the ethics of eugenics, but
to become a thorn in the side of law enforce- ship docks in New York, leaving sim- falls apart due to a lack of subtlety and plau-
ment, while a second murder causes her to mering, suppressed sexual chemistry woven sibility. Andra Barger’s is the only human
doubt even those closest to her. Tension throughout the story. When the Titanic woman entrusted by the secret Cinüe race
rarely rises above a slow simmer, but the meets its date with destiny, Esther and Will to help execute their 180,000-year-old
mystery reveals unexpected entanglements realize that not everyone gets a tomorrow— diminishing program, by which every
and stranger motivations. Readers may not and that their roles must give them the human child’s godlike capacities are elimi-
gain a deep sense of Janet’s interiority, but courage to help others. Vivid descriptions nated by the stealthy placement of a gel on
she’s a strong-willed, good-hearted woman bring the reader onto the doomed ship as the mother’s palm at conception. Andra
who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. characters shrink in terror from the inevi- struggles with balancing her general oppo-
table, pray for rescue, and grieve for the lost. sition to this program, and her personal
May Day Beaumont heartbreakingly chronicles sur- desire for an unaltered child, with politics
R.R. Born. R.R. Born, $13 trade paper (262p) vivor’s guilt wrapped in a history lesson, that affect the lives of her loved ones. These
ISBN 978-1-73243-370-0 and ably portrays the heroism and honor of concerns are amplified when, to her sur-
Although uneven in its delivery, Born’s the men and women of the sea. This expertly prise, she is tapped to vote on the semicen-
debut novel introduces readers to a fascinating characterized and tautly plotted story is an tennial Council’s reapproving the program.
world of ancient magic and sets up a number extremely impressive debut. Cray (Mother Tongue) fails to reconcile the
of intriguing arcs for the proposed series to cloak-and-dagger nature of the diminishing
come. Ari Mason was born with highly Pathogen Protocol process with a near-perfect success rate over
destructive magic powers that her heartless Darren D. Beyer. Darren D. Beyer, $13.99 millennia, and though Cinüe-created tools
mother manipulated ruthlessly. Having fled trade paper (579p) ISBN 978-0-9973366-1-0 and environments are often evocatively
her coven, Ari is now a bartender and tarot Like ripples in a pond, this frenetic space described, an unsatisfying explanation of
card reader. She’s determined to use her powers opera sequel to Casimir Bridge moves in “arcane tech” is relied on for almost every-
to help others, including her ghost companion bigger and bigger circles outward from the thing. Cray lets what could have been a
Remy and her friend Leise, who has just splashy events detailed in the opening thought-provoking story degenerate into a
received an unusual bequest. She may even volume. Jans Mikel and the other leaders of humans vs. others power fantasy.
have found love for herself. When a killer with Applied Interstellar Corp., reeling from the
supernatural powers begins targeting invasion of their extrasolar headquarters, ★ A Queen from the North
Houston’s witches and humans alike, Ari try to keep their source of the wormhole- Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese. Avian30,
resolves to take action—until she realizes the generating hyperium hidden while security $27.99 (408p) ISBN 978-1-946192-07-3
killer is much closer to her than she ever imag- chief Grae Raymus organizes the resistance. The splendid first in the Royal Roses
ined. The premise of this story is appealing, Rival corporate power Tech Standard and series introduces an alternate present-day
reminiscent of Adrian Phoenix’s Hoodoo its head operative, Erik Hallerson, force the U.K. in which the Wars of the Roses never
series, but too little meaningful exposition issue by seizing the remaining known hype- ended and a political marriage between
and too much extraneous detail keep this story rium supplies, bringing the three Earth Prince Arthur, the widowed Lancaster
from exploring anything deeper than the superpowers into their court. Mikel’s agent, Prince of Wales, and Lady Amelia Brockett,
superficial and generally predictable. Mandi Nkosi, makes a desperate attempt to the radical daughter of a Yorkish earl, is the
contact a rogue AIC officer who’s now only thing that might finally unite the

B O O K L I F E .C O M 68c
kingdom. Amelia, a grad student studying ★ Stolen: A Kieran Yeats Mystery that “The problem with grief was that it
environmental science, never planned on Linda J. Wright. Cat’s Paw, $16.95 trade paper didn’t come with a user manual.” This
becoming a princess, but when Arthur pro- (240p) ISBN 978-1-7323593-0-7 thoughtful story about learning how to live
poses their union as a mutually beneficial Set in Victoria, British Columbia, this after loved ones are gone will captivate
political arrangement soon after their first superb series kickoff from Wright (the readers.
meeting, she can’t deny her people the Caitlin Reece mysteries, as Lauren Wright
chance to finally have a York on the throne. Douglas) introduces Kieran Yates, a former Terminal
Against her better judgement, she grows Crown Counsel, who has left practicing law John Leifer. Earhart, $12.99 trade paper
closer with the charismatic prince. Faced to work as an investigator of crime related (366p) ISBN 978-0-9995655-2-0
with relentless press coverage, a divided, to animals. She’s drawn into a complex case Leifer (The Myths of Modern Medicine)
skeptical populace, and an ever-changing after Jen, her 13-year-old goddaughter, con- makes his fiction debut with this sus-
political climate, Amelia struggles to keep fesses that 11 Bengal kittens have mysteri- penseful and alarming kickoff to a trilogy.
track of what in their relationship is real and ously disappeared from the cattery where Cmdr. John Hart has an impressive resume.
what is just for show. Rich, diverse world- Jen was hired to keep watch. Though Jen A former Navy Seal with degrees in medi-
building sets this story of contemporary insists that all the doors were locked and the cine and nuclear engineering, he officially
royalty apart. McRae and Maltese (the Love alarms set, someone managed to enter and works with the Defense Advanced Research
in Los Angeles series) have created a perfect abscond with the valuable felines. From Projects Agency, and is part of the counter-
cocktail of political intrigue and slow-burn what Jen says, Kieran gets the sense that the terrorism team that addresses the threat of
romance. crime was an inside job. The inquiry bioweapons. He faces his greatest challenge
broadens after Kieran learns that others in when Ibrahim Almasi al-Bakr, the founder
The Silver Horn Echoes: the area have also had their pets stolen. of the United Islamic State, sets a diabolical
A Song of Roland Kieran uses both high tech (she has a friend plan in motion to devastate the U.S., making
Michael Eging and Steve Arnold. iUniverse, hack into the alarm system at the residence use of a “virus of unimaginable destructive
$29.95 (334p) ISBN 978-1-5320-2021-6 housing the cattery) and old-fashioned shoe power.” Al-Bakr intends to target America’s
In this thrilling medieval swashbuckler, leather to crack the case. Wright, who has four busiest air terminals with the highly
Eging and Arnold reimagine the adventure, been involved in animal advocacy for 30 contagious disease, which was developed as
treachery, and epic battles of the Franks in years, combines her passionate commit- part of a covert Soviet biowarfare program.
801 CE through Roland, knight of Breton ment to animal rights with a riveting who- Hart’s desperate efforts to avert disaster are
March and King Charles’s esteemed combat dunit that’s not dependent on murder to aided by his colleague and former lover,
hero. Roland is an ambitious young warrior sustain interest. Elizabeth Wilkins, a senior scientist with
who finds himself only posted to garrison the Centers for Disease Control. While the
duty when King Charles leaves to battle the A Strange Companion overall plotline isn’t new, Leifer, who has
Saxons. When an envoy arrives with news Lisa Manterfield. Steel Rose, $5.99 e-book served on a presidential panel headed by
of another foreign aggressor, Roland leaves (342p) ASIN B06XB85BD8 former national security adviser Brent
to inform the king of the news. He joins the Manterfield’s bittersweet debut follows Scowcroft, makes the details plausible.
Saxon assault, becoming the king’s bravest, a young woman’s attempt to recover from

most skilled fighter, and earns the title overwhelming loss. Seventeen-year-old Kat
“champion.” Meanwhile, Roland uncovers Richardson thought she and her boyfriend,
a plot to harm the king, and suspects his Gabe, would marry and spend their lives
stepfather, Ganelon, is its instigator; together. But those plans are dashed when God’s Grand Design for Health
Roland believes Ganelon also killed his Gabe dies in a rock climbing accident. Two James Darnell. WestBow, $13.95 trade paper
father, William. The Franks soon find years later, Kat has been having trouble (168p) ISBN 978-1-5127-8641-5
themselves battling on two fronts. There moving on—until she meets handsome Darnell, a chiropractor and holistic coun-
are gory battles throughout that will reso- fellow university student Owen, whose sellor, introduces his system of spiritual and
nate with combat and history enthusiasts, playful and earnest personality has started physical health in this clear and helpful
but may be too graphic for some readers. to heal Kat’s broken heart. But their bud- book. Taking readers beyond symptoms and
Those closest to Roland—his wife, Aude; ding relationship is interrupted when she into the intricate world of the symbiotic
friend Oliver; and mother, Gisela—elevate returns home to meet her new niece, Mai, relationships between bodies and their sur-
a complex, powerful character whose who’s been adopted by her brother and his rounding environments, Darnell explores
decency can seem at odds with his brutality husband. There, Kat is confronted with the how diet, the environment, and the delicate
during battle. This tale of military aggres- possibility that Gabe has been reincarnated balance of pH in the body may affect all
sion, family betrayal, and knightly valor as Mai. Manterfield presents the idea of aspects of health. In his opening chapters
ably reimagines the legend of Roland and reincarnation with just the right balance of he uses many charts and lists to explain the
his indomitable fighting spirit. skepticism and hope as Kat questions both increasingly poor health of U.S. citizens. He
her mind and feelings while acknowledging then dives into his holistic approach, which

68d B O O K L I F E , N OV E M B E R 1 9 , 2 0 1 8

focuses primarily on cell health and reduc- WWI Crusaders: A Band of Yanks
tion of inflammation. While most of his in German-Occupied Belgium Help
medical advice comes in the form of dietary Save Millions from Starvation as
and nutritional tips, he also insists that Civilians Resist the Harsh German
personal harmony begins with spiritual Rule, August 1914 to May 1917
harmony. A devout Christian, Darnell uses Jeffrey B. Miller. Milbrown, $24.95 trade paper
biblical quotes to reinforce his ideas: “We (726p) ISBN 978-0-9906893-8-6
are appointed stewards to what God has Miller expands upon his previous volume
given us... to whom much is given, much is (Behind Enemy Lines) to provide the com-
required.” With great detail on the causes plete story of the Commission for the Relief
and effects of inflammation, the influence of Belgium, a private American-led relief
of free radicals, the best sources for vitamins organization that supervised the import and
and minerals, and the sources of toxins in distribution of food to the people of
foods, Darnell provides a wealth of health German-occupied Belgium and Northern
information in a small space. This is a read- France, from its beginnings in 1914
able, practical guide for any Christian through America’s entry into the war. Much
reader who wishes to find a path to healthier of the book focuses on the volunteer
living. American delegates who worked inside
Belgium under commission chair Herbert
I Didn’t Believe Any of This Hippie Hoover, and who were harassed by the
Dippy Bulls**t Either: A Skeptic’s German military and always in danger of
Awakening to the Spiritual Universe arrest. Meanwhile, German submarines
Julie Rasmussen. Red Renegade, $14.95 sank numerous CRB ships and threatened
trade paper (198p) ISBN 978-0-692-08090-0 to shut down the relief effort; the Allied
This irreverent debut spiritual memoir military was not in favor of the operation
delivers evocative humor but never gets and at one point accused Hoover himself of
much below the surface. The primary arc spying for the Germans. Among many
concerns the author’s growing under- impressive characters, Hoover stands out as
standing of her connection with her “twin an incredible organizer and powerful per-
flame,” a person with whom one shares a sonality without whose efforts 75% of the
type of soul connection that she says is much population of Belgium might have faced
rarer than that shared by soulmates. starvation. Though its length will be
Although Rasmussen is sure that Bo, whom daunting for most general readers, those
she met through an online dating service, with a serious interest in WWI history or
is her twin flame when the book opens, the the life of Herbert Hoover will find this
relationship remains in flux over the course lively and engaging book fascinating.
of her mystical awakening. Readers will
enjoy her clever imagery and snarky self-
analysis but in the end will find coinci-
dence-loving Rasmussen (she sees signs in
license plates) as remarkably gullible. The
story of her on-again-off-again relationship
with Bo and his spiritual growth path is
unsatisfyingly incomplete. Although
Rasmussen professes a belief in a connected
universe, there isn’t much clarity in her
assertion or proof in her personal story to
back up her claims. The author’s foul-
mouthed humor helps make this entry
stand out among other spiritual memoirs,
but the derivative message and excessive
confidence with which Rasmussen offers
herself as a spiritual model make this a poor
source of guidance.

B O O K L I F E .C O M 68e