Weather Report for July 6




We’re now officially into the summer reading season, and a couple of our offerings this week are ideal beach books.

In “When Clouds Gather,” Ryan Jo Summers has wrapped mystery and romance into a neat bundle with a story built around a bucolic bed & breakfast. Bucolic, that is, until a guest is found dead in one of the rooms, and the world caves in on owner Darby Adams. Not only does her business go into the tank — haunted hotels are one thing, the chance that a guest may become a ghost quite another — but she comes to be regarded as the chief suspect, largely for lack of any other possibilities. Private investigator Sam Golden is sympathetic (and intriguing), except that he’s working for the victim’s family, and they think Darby is guilty.

For quite some time, Charlotte Rees has been a voice crying in the academic wilderness, convinced that some ancient maps discovered by her father, Hendon Harris, provide proof that Chinese explorers reached the North American continent before Columbus. In “Did Ancient Chinese Explore America?”, her second book on the subject, she enters the wilderness of the American West looking for clues. I think you’ll find that what she discovers might cause you to rethink your assumptions about America’s earliest history.

As might be expected, Rees is very popular in China, where she has been invited to speak on several occasions.


Susan Coryell’s latest novel also shapes up as an entertaining summer read. Memories of the Civil War Sesquicentennial are still fresh in Virginia, and Coryell — a writer steeped in the region’s history — has provided a bridge between the present and the turbulent past.  Ashby Overton has everything to look forward to, including a promising writing career and her wedding at summer’s end. But Overhome, her beloved historic family estate in Southern Virginia, is in financial peril, and it is up to Ashby to find a solution — even as she is menaced by dark supernatural forces that seem to emanate from an old stone cottage that was once the home of a plantation overseer. As the violence escalates, Ashby begins to fear for her life.

“Black Tide Rising,” on the other hand, is not a relaxing beach read. Rather, it’s one of those riveting stories that come about when an author starts thinking “What if?” and “What’s the worst case scenario?” This is an examination of America’s festering racial problem as it might be interpreted by Stephen King.

Singleton writes in the Amazon description: “Everything you have ever known about your status as a minority or the majority may be the lie of all lies. Black Tide Rising: Dark Prophecies agitates the serene waters when hundreds of millions discover that Blacks now outnumber Whites, and the American Government is willing to kill to keep this secret.  The Lord God Damballah has grown weary with mankind’s villainy, demanding a measure of blood. While Deputy Director of the Census Bureau Evan Parker runs for his life, trying to save his pregnant wife and father from relentless assassins, the constant pounding of the Conga and the Rada will drive the Vigil of The Drum. Wailing far into the night, the voodoo drums will resurrect the Kuuta — blood lust! It forces the Black race to surge as one. See what humankind is capable of when demons of genocide are unleashed in the streets of America the beautiful, land of the brave. Feel what is hidden deep within souls that are pushed one step too far.


1. Kelvin Singleton, author of “Black Tide Rising,” is a native of Charleston, SC, where nine people were shot to death last month inside the historic Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church by a disturbed young man who was apparently racially motivated.  This is what Kelvin wrote on the day after:

“Charleston, South Carolina, the historic city where shots were once fired and heard around the world. Rising from the ravages of the Civil War and the ashes of human disparagement, the good people gathered to hold a supportive vigil of Gospel songs, prayers for the slain in the name of peaceful coexistence between brothers and sisters of many races. My people have made me most proud in the handling of the tragic slaying of nine souls, who had gathered in the presence of God Almighty. Once more, shots have been fired in the name of hatred while the Confederate Flag still darkens the sky overhead; ever the reminder of the shame it brings to us all.”

2. Congratulations are in order for Melinda Inman, whose crowd-sourcing effort to fund her novel “Fallen” rallied on the final day to push her over the top. Melinda was short of her $5,000-plus goal by more than $1,000 with only 24 hours remaining.

This is what she wrote in her blog:

“Thank you for coming alongside to make it happen. If you pledged $25 or more, your copy will be signed and shipped right to your door. Please tell others that Fallen is coming. Let’s prepare the world to receive this story of God’s grace! And now, I must rest. I’m exhausted, yet so excited that I can’t unwind! (I’m editing this at 4:00 a.m.!) I maxed out my physical capabilities and sent my autoimmune disorder into a tizzy these past few months. I’ll be back soon with more details, but I must take a break. God bless you and thank you again, dear readers and supporters!”

Note: The photo above is of Melinda’s “Happy dance.”

Joshua Brown3. Joshua Samuel Brown (featured book for June 19) has come up with an ng intriguing marketing idea. He writes:

“Want free travel advice from me, noted guidebook author & bon vivant Joshua Samuel Brown?

For a limited time, I’m offering Jet Lag readers a special, super-sweet deal. Here’s how it works:

1) Buy How Not To Avoid Jet Lag & other tales of travel madness from Amazon at 19 tales of travel madness from Lonely Planet author Joshua Samuel Brown, with illustrations by David Lee Ingeroll

2) Read and enjoy! When you’re done, contact me at and answer the following questions:

Date of Purchase? (for synching purposes)
What is the last country named in How Not To Avoid Jet Lag & other tales of travel madness? (It’s the last word on the last page under the title OTHER STUFF. It’s the setting for one of the stories in the book.)

3) Ask me a question or two concerning potential future travel plans.

For example:
“Hey Joshua, What’s the best beach in Belize, and where should I stay when I go there?”

“Dude, What’s one spot in Taiwan I have to see, and how do I get there from Taipei?”

“Yo, Josambro…How can I crash a wedding in China without looking like a jerk?”

“JSB, What are three must-try Singaporean dishes and in what food court will I find them?”

The possibilities are limited only by my own areas of expertise!

I’ll get back to you within a week (possibly longer if I’m on assignment someplace remote, but I’ll do my best to keep it under a week) with personalized travel advice!
It’s like having your own personal travel-writer pal…only you don’t have to let me sleep on your couch next time I’m in your town.

Buy the book: How Not To Avoid Jet Lag & other tales of travel madness on Amazon at

Here’s a quote from Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler, an early reader.

“I’ve often thought that guidebook writing attracts the mad, the bad and the slightly crazed. If he didn’t start that way – perhaps a pre-writing career as a bike messenger helped – his years on the road have certainly contributed to Joshua’s off-kilter take on the world.”
— Tony Wheeler, Lonely Planet co-founder

Buy the book! Ask me questions! Be repaid not merely with a fine book of bizarre illustrated short stories, but also with free travel advice!

4. Starting this week, I will begin listing all the books that have been featured previously. For more information, click on “Pages” on this site and then the author’s name.

May 26: “Island Dogs,” by B.M. Simpson. About a group of rowdy but lovable expats who bond in a Caribbean bar. Similar to Carl Hiassen, but better. The perfect book to take to your beach chair.

May 28: “Waiting for Westmoreland,” by John Maberry. A very personal look at one man’s Vietnam War experience, and what it taught him.

June 2; “Death of a Cabman,” by Nina Boyd. An intriguing mystery, overlaid with turn-of-the-20th-century British history.

June 5: “The River Caught Sunlight,” by Katie Andraski. The publicist to a charismatic evangelist begins to question his motives and her role in his work.

June 9: “What to do About Mama?” Reflections on caregiving from those who have been there.

June 12: “Turnstiles,” by Andrea McKenzie Raine.  Through their own unlikely interaction, three unhappy characters become more than the sum of their parts.

June 16: “Betrayal,” by Sharon Brownlie. An edgy, disturbing and intriguing novel of a woman getting even for her childhood sexual abuse.

June 19: “How Not to Avoid Jet Lag,” by Joshua Samuel Brown. A longtime travel writer, Joshua shows us the quirky side of Asia and other places.

June 23:  “Caught,” by Deirdre Thurston. From a New Zealand author, a collection of short stories about how seemingly mundane life events can prove significant.

June 26: “Thirty Perfect Days,” by Claudia Taller. Presented with fierce honesty, a chronicle of a woman’s search to bring order and meaning into her world.

June 30: “Downfall,” by Deborah Teller Scott. A British “cozy mystery” artfully crafted by an American writer.

June 30: “Boiling Point.” A massive volcanic eruption in Chile and its effect on a cast of interesting characters.

July 3: “The Secret Corps.” A former Tom Clancy co-writer goes it alone with this Marine-flavored thriller.


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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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