Weather Report, July 20



Crime Scene


1. One thing that many readers of crime books, fiction and non-fiction, have in common is the innate conviction that they could have solved the crime — and more quickly — if only given the chance. This is the crux of “The Skeleton Crew,” a Deborah Halber’s fascinating look at a curious subculture.

The book provides an entree into the gritty and tumultuous world of Sherlock Holmes–wannabes who race to beat out law enforcement—and one another—at matching missing persons with unidentified remains. The web sleuths pore over facial reconstructions (a sort of Facebook for the dead) and other online clues as they vie to solve cold cases and tally up personal scorecards of dead bodies. The Skeleton Crew delves into the macabre underside of the Internet, the fleeting nature of identity, and how even the most ordinary citizen with a laptop and a knack for puzzles can reinvent herself as a web sleuth.

Deborah Halber started out as a daily newspaper reporter, then turned to the “dark side.” as journalists say, to do public relations. She worked as a writer and editor for Tufts and as a science writer for MIT, where she chronicled everything from quantum weirdness (that’s the technical term) to snail slime. A freelance journalist since 2004, her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, MIT Technology Review, the graphic news magazine Symbolia, and many university publications. A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the National Association of Science Writers, she lives near Boston in a house with a lot of former pets buried out back.

2. In “The Solarbus Legacy,” Nicki Brandon depicts a social and environmental crisis brought about by the depletion of the world’s oil reserves. In the wake of the catastrophe, just a relatively few fortunate survivors possessed a Solarbus. . Realizing how fiercely these vehicles were coveted by the rest of society in one city, the Solarbus owners clustered together in an isolated community, continually alert to efforts by those they called “terfs” to overturn the existing order. And when the daughter of two privileged Solarbus Society members is kidnapped, those two factions are forced to confront one another directly.

Nicki Brandon is a former legal assistant who threw herself into researching her dystopian tale after retirement. A resident of northern California, she has also had poetry and short stories published in various anthologies, webzines and print magazines. “The Solarbus Legacy” is her first novel.

Florida 1


1. In Florida, it is often said, politicians frequently get away with murder. This is generally meant in the colloquial sense, but Andrea Brunais’ entertaining novel “Mercedes Wore Black” takes the expression literally.

When Janis is fired from her job at the newspaper, she focuses on the causes that matter to her — the environment and the economy. When her good friend and co-worker Mercedes encounters danger and turns up dead, Janis’ efforts at investigating her murder lead her into a political maelstrom of big money, lottery, and interests with opposing goals. The book is set against the backdrop of the 2014 election.

Joe Guidry, opinion editor at The Tampa Tribune writes; “Fast-paced, exquisitely written, ‘Mercedes Wore Black’ vividly depicts the underbelly of the newspaper industry and the all-too-real shenanigans of those who are ever willing to sacrifice Florida’s natural treasures.”

Andrea Brunais is a journalist with more than 20 years in the field. After a career as a prizewinning reporter, editor, and opinion writer, she now works in higher-ed communications. She served on the editorial boards of The Tallahassee Democrat (then Knight-Ridder) and The Tampa Tribune (then Media General) and edited the Creative Loafing chain’s alternative weekly in Sarasota.As a journalist she won first-place awards from the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association, the Florida Press Club, Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers and the Florida Medical Association, as well as a Robert Kennedy Journalism Award for investigative reporting. She is the co-author of a book on media relations, “I See Your Name Everywhere!” Her first novel, “Night of the Litani,” set in Lebanon, received widespread critical acclaim.

2. Another Florida writer, Kate Hasbrouck, has produced an enchanting novel that might be called sci-fi/romance.

Kerana is being sent to Earth to begin her duty as an Eldurian. Hers are a perfect people, without flaw and without sin, never experiencing the fall of man. Created by God to shepherd His people on Earth, they remain in the shadows, unnoticed. Kerana looks human, speaks like them, and has been taught to act like them. Above all, her mission is to serve the humans.Arriving on Earth, Kerana meets Eli at school. He is an ordinary human, with a father suffering from alcoholism, and a past that threatens to ruin his life. A star scholarship lacrosse player, Eli has to forget his true passion and live in a shell that doesn’t let anyone in. Until he meets Kerana. They find themselves intertwined in a connection that neither can quite explain. When this connection puts the two of them in danger, they find comfort and protection from each other. When Eli discovers that there is more to Kerana than just her stunning looks and grace, the Eldurians and their home planet of Eden may not remain a secret for very long.

Kate Hasbrouck has been writing and creating stories for as long as she can remember. She had written several stories by the time she was a teen, but Homecoming was the first full manuscript she had ever written with the intention of sharing it with other people. She attended Houghton College, where she received her Bachelor’s degree with a dual-major in Writing and Psychology where she honed her skills. She lives in Florida with her husband, a youth pastor at a local church, where she spends time writing, ministering to teens, and enjoying the life God has given her. “Homecoming” is the first book in a trilogy.


1. Snowflakes in a Blizzard is approaching 2,500 page views, not bad for a blog that has only been functioning for a few months. We continue to seek followers (the sign-up key is on the left as you read the main page), but the page count indicates a groundswell of interest beyond that.

2. Brian Simpson, who writes as B.M. Simpson and whose wonderful novel “Island Dogs” was one of the main inspirations for this project, has a new Website, He — and I — invite you to check it out.

3. Another reason to read Andrea Brunais’ “Mercedes Wore Black” (above): The book is a finalist in the Florida Fiction category for the the Florida Authors and Publishers Association annual contest. The awards will be announced Aug. 8.

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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.

2 thoughts on “Weather Report, July 20”

  1. These write-ups on authors and books are absolutely fabulous. This week’s images are especially effective. A grand job, Mr. Snowflake. And they just seem to get better and better.

    By the way, I am trolling for guest bloggers on my website if anyone’s interested.


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