Snowflakes Past, 96-144

96. “Glass,” by Kate Kort.  Menashe Everett is a tormented man. He’s ruled by depression and addiction.  He’s haunted by his past.  At 37, he barely keeps his job and lives in a haze of blurred reality. But to many in his life, he’s their only hope. For the past ten years, Menashe has been acting as a counselor to similarly afflicted clients who agree to his unorthodox brand of pseudo-therapy.  After a grim but revelatory trip to Las Vegas in his late twenties, Menashe decided to open up a “glass museum”—an underground safe place where clients can vent their anguish by destroying rooms filled with clear glass art.  The museum brings hope to those who have not responded to traditional therapy, but also gives Menashe a sense of purpose he desperately needs.

97. Close,” by Erika Raskin. Close is a novel of family and suspense. Wry single-mom Kik Marcheson is dancing as hard as she can — teaching at the university, struggling with the family’s finances (which may soon include having to return the long-gone advance for her unfinished second novel), and coping with her increasingly challenging daughters. Doone, the oldest, is swimming in the deep end of adolescence; Casey, the middle child-slash-good girl, is slowly coming undone and little Tess, the quirky kindergartner, has somewhat alarmingly introduced an invisible playmate into the family constellation. When Doone’s activities can no longer be ignored, a TV therapist offers a hand. Caving to Casey, Kik sets aside serious misgivings and agrees to let the family participate. And then things go from bad to terrifying.

98. “Relative Strangers,” by Margaret Hermes. The characters in Relative Strangers – ranging from a high school valedictorian fascinated by bees to a boy who goes through sexual awakening against a backdrop of bigotry — experience warmth as well as alienation, humor as well as heartache. The collection is meant to draw the reader in with characters and settings that might seem familiar but never ordinary. I grew up in Chicago and live in St. Louis and some of the stories are set in those cities, while others take place on a South Carolina farm, in a hospital in Duluth, at a baseball game at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan, in a mythical town in the Missouri Bootheel, in a suburban nursing home, or in a nameless village in Eastern Europe where “everything was heavy — the coats, the shoes, the sky, the hearts.”

99. “Mommy’s Writings: Mommy, Do You Want a Sandwich?” by Suzanne McMillen-Fallon. “There’s one thing I know – God exists.” At age nineteen, MaryAnne McMillen severed two vital nerves at the base of her skull when she suffered a near fatal fall. This was followed by an out-of-body experience, life after death, in which she heard the words, “It’s not your time.” When the two nerves fused together, MaryAnne was left in unrelenting, excruciating pain. Being the mother of a young son and married to a philandering brute of a husband when the accident occurred, the family disallowed the use of any medicine because it was against their religion. After fourteen years of agony, doctors were finally able to perform a unique surgery known as intraspinal rhizotomy. This story weaves together the idea of family and faith, while also creating a sense of longing in the reader’s own life for something bigger than themselves. Mommy’s Writings is the extraordinary memoir of the love between a mother and her young son, and a great-grandmother whose intense devotion to the two of them kept their little family together. It is a story of faith in God, of forgiveness and acceptance, and of gratitude.

100. “The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee,” by Talya Boerner. The Accidental Salvation of Gracie Lee is southern fiction set in the Mississippi River delta region of Arkansas in the 1970s. The protagonist, ten-year-old Gracie Lee Eudora Abbott, is the daughter of a hardworking cotton farmer who, in Gracie’s words, drinks too much beer, is mean as the devil himself, and is probably going to Hell. Mature and perceptive beyond her years, Gracie is unwilling to be seen and not heard. Her mind is crammed packed with questions—simple questions about day-to-day things and bottomless thoughts like why she was born to Lee and Anne Abbott instead of Elvis and Priscilla Presley. As Gracie tries to understand and save the world around her, she often lands in trouble, even in a place where nothing exciting ever happens. Themes of Accidental Salvation include coming of age, loss of innocence, man versus nature, family struggles, end of life issues, isolation, and salvation. There is humor too. Regular, real-life, laugh-out-loud humor.

101. “People and Peppers,” by Kelvin Christopher James. Gossipy, intimate, and provocative,set in Trinidad and New York City, People and Peppers gives a diverting peek into the nuances of a Caribbean island’s callaloo of inter-racial and multicultural social mores. James’s main characters are complex, motivated, and fun to know. Tall and handsome, the main protagonist, Vivion K Pinheiro, is the bastard of a half-Portuguese, half Afro- Haitian woman, and an attractive New Yorker with carrot-colored hair who danced beautifully. Accomplished as well, Vivion has earned national prestige as a scholar and athlete. As a young man trying to realize dreams, he can be selfish yet thoughtful, deceptive yet generous—no real villain, just a callow fella getting over by pulling the tricky strings of privilege and personal charm.

102. “Threads,” by Mary Wright. Adventure and necessity calls to Fletcher Broce. He heeds and leaves his familiar homeland, Germany, to go to Virginia to  work in the coal mines. A farmer by trade, he has much to learn. He leaves behind his beautiful bride, Rachel and their two young sons, his parents and a brother and sister-in-law. He hopes to earn enough to bring his wife and children to America. He realizes this move might mean he’ll never see his mother, father and brother again. He goes with everyone’s blessing. Fletcher manages to secure a job on a merchant ship to earn his passage. He longs to be reunited with his family. The few letters to and from his homeland keep him going. Finally, the big day comes when he is able to return to Ellis Island to welcome his family to the beautiful New River Valley that has stolen his heart. What should have been a wonderful reunion turns tragic when he learns of his wife’s dark journey to America.  

103. “Not Another Superhero,” by Tara Thompson. Samantha Addison remembers the mugger. And his gun. How he pointed it at her head. When he pulled the trigger. She remembers everything, except how she survived. But it’s only Monday. She’s embarking on a week of near misses and a mystery growing with each attempt on her life. Why would anyone want to kill the editor of a puff piece magazine? How could she be a threat to anyone? Will the attacks stop? Or will one finally succeed? Through all the hair-raising events, a man in a black hood keeps saving the day before vanishing without telling her anything. Including his name. Who is this guy? What is his connection to these events? And can he keep her alive? It’s a race against the clock to solve a mystery more outlandish than a faceless hero in a hood. In the end, her survival may depend entirely on whom she can trust. And whom she absolutely cannot.

104. “Emergency Anthems,” by Alex Green. Emergency Anthems is, in spite of its title, not about the actual emergencies. The book is about what happens after them. In other words, it’s not about the shark attack, it’s about having been attacked by a shark. I’ve always been more interested in the scar than what put it there.  I’ve watched a lot of I Was Attacked By A Shark documentaries during “Shark Week” and they always are about someone who had some kind of harrowing, awful run-in with a Great White. They go through it blow by blow and in the end, they show the person standing on the beach looking pensive, or poetic, or however the camera angle decides to shoot them. And that’s always the moment that I’m waiting for–do they still surf or have they never gone back into the water? Emergency Anthems takes place in that decision, or that moment where you have to reckon with the facts of your life and you realize that that reckoning happens every single second, even when you think it’s not.  I also wanted to write a book that was a combination of “Slacker,” Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs and parts of “Three’s Company”…

105. “Swimming With Maya,” by Eleanor Vincent. Swimming with Maya demonstrates the remarkable process of healing after the traumatic death of a loved one. Eleanor Vincent raised her two daughters, Maya and Meghan, virtually as a single-parent. Maya, the eldest, was a high-spirited and gifted young woman. As a teenager, Maya was energetic and independent – and often butted heads with her mother. But Eleanor and Maya were always close and connected, like best friends or sisters, but always also mother and daughter. Then at age 19, Maya mounts a horse bareback as a dare and, in a crushing cantilever fall, is left in a coma from which she will never recover. Eleanor’s life is turned upside down as she struggles to make the painful decision about Maya’s fate. Ultimately Eleanor chooses to donate Maya’s organs. Years later, in one of the most poignant moments you will ever read about, Eleanor has the opportunity to hear her daughter’s heart beat in the chest of the heart recipient.

106.  “Way Opens,” by Patricia Wild. Way Opens chronicles the journey that began when I wondered: “What happened to the two African American students who desegregated my Lynchburg, VA high school in 1962?”

107.  “In Her Mother’s Shoes,” by Dawn Lajeunesse. Author Meredith Fields’ formerly placid suburban existence is shattering, and she’s not entirely unhappy about it. She feels guilty over placing her mother, Katherine, in a nursing home. Her husband, Keith, wants a divorce. She’s emotionally estranged from her children. And her next book is overdue. As she sorts through her mother’s house before selling, she finds clues to Katherine’s shadowy past. She begins to understand why her mother related so poorly to her children and is shaken by parallels in her relationships with her own children.

108. Odd Beauty, Strange Fruit,” by Susan Swartwout. A Southerner by birth, Susan Swartwout’s writing is steeped in the gothic elements of life in the Deep South, a celebration of difference and uncommoners—odd beauties who embellish our plain lives. These poems explore the lives of freaks—celebrities of Southern fairs’ sideshows—such as conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker’s married lives, the Fat Lady’s work schedule, Tom Thumb’s Barnum-warped ego, all parallel to the hidden desires and plots of the rest of us. Our exterior normality belies the internal twisted landscapes—how complicity and silence echo abuse, how depression infects entire families, how a five-year-old learns to use words as weapons, how human need dispels language’s boundaries. From circus oddities to real-life boogeymen, from Louisiana to a Central American village, earth has no dearth of the gothic’s strange fruit, illuminating the complexity of what it is to be human.

109. “Beneath Still Waters,” by Cynthia Graham. Hick Blackburn, a reluctant sheriff with a troubled past, is called to the scene of a gruesome murder. With nothing to go on except the victim’s race and sex, the task of discovering who she is and how she died challenges all of Hick’s investigative skills. But Hick faces a deeper challenge. The vision of the victim has left him shattered, a reminder of a war crime has tried to lock away, a crime that has begun to eat away at the edges of his life, destroying him one relationship at a time. Set in the wake of World War II, Beneath Still Waters is a lyrical and haunting tale about the loss of innocence, the resilience of love, and the lengths to which people will go to survive.

110. “Double Identity,” by Jaye C. Blakemore. Identical Twins and Secret Lives…with Deceit, Murder, and Revenge! A passionate romance between charismatic French vintner Cecile Cardin and elusive billionaire art collector Paul Allenwerth leads to the birth of beautiful twins Gillian and Julianne, who are separated at the age of three during a mysterious divorce, and raised in completely different environments: Julianne absorbs the life of a small French winery, and Gillian lives in lonely luxury in New York City. Cecile and Paul take their shocking secrets to their graves…but they also leave their daughters with great wealth, an empire to run, and a strongbox that reveals a legacy they could never have imagined. As Julianne and Gillian learn of their parents’ past, and a family history steeped in unimaginable courage and tragedy, they must come to terms with the gifts and challenges that their parents have bequeathed to them, while making their way as independent women in the changing world of the 1970s.

111. “Sophronia L,” by Tim Bridwell. Sophronia Lambert, a schoolteacher on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, lives a quiet life—that is until Nantucket whaling captain James Folger comes ashore. Realizing he is the man who killed her deaf brother, she decides to pursue vengeance—first at home, then at sea—sailing to the far side of the world as his bride. As she grapples with madness and morality, Sophronia’s quest mirrors that of her island community: to find a way forward amidst the pressures of a brutal industry, a nation mired in Civil War, and a past darker than the ocean’s abyss.

112. “Hineni,” by Josh Mendel. In Hineni: My Walk to Beautiful Life, the author chronicles his journey of healing and personal growth; learning to understand and accept himself as a gifted, hypersensitive, and gay mystic. Mismatched to the norms and demands of his family, home religion, peers, and society, the author was a depressed, immature, and fearful recluse for 26 years of his life. Contemplating suicide at age 21, he heard a Voice. Learning to listen and follow that Voice, the author set upon a four-decade journey of recovery and healing, employing a range of traditional (and untraditional) religious and spiritual thought systems.

113. “The Kudzu Kid,” by Darrell Laurant. After hotshot investigative reporter Eddie Fogarty overreaches on a story and is fired by his large metropolitan daily, the only bounce-back job he can find is editing a weekly newspaper in backwater Southside Virginia. In that unlikely and alien setting, he finds culture shock, redemption, romance, and the biggest story of his life.

114. “The Gorge,” by David Armand. In his latest literary thriller, David Armand weaves together the stories of an eccentric cast of dark, frighteningly realistic characters, each under suspicion of murdering a young girl, Amber Varnado, whose body is found hidden in a deep gorge at the opening of the novel. Set in southeast Louisiana in the small town of Franklinton, The Gorge follows the colliding lives of Tuller, the murdered girl’s boyfriend, whose suspicious past and his discovery of Amber’s body make him the prime suspect; John Varnado, Amber’s father, a Vietnam war veteran whose violent flashbacks cause brutal outbursts of rage and paranoia; Grady, a young man dwarfed by rickets who prowls the night to feed his strange desires; and Euwell, a man who lives in an old shack near the gorge and hunts for young girls to satisfy his lusts and quell his inner-demons. Armand’s spellbinding story explores the universal themes of desperate love and the pitfalls of false assumptions woven into the tenuous threads of coincidence that connect people in a small town.

115. “An Unlikely Arrangement,” by Patty Wiseman. Ruth Squire was rebellious, headstrong, fiercely independent, and constantly in trouble; a shocking dilemma for her parents in the late 1920’s. Her antics caused them to consider an arranged marriage to a man she didn’t know. They felt she would settle down and be a properly married woman. The story takes off with Ruthie locked in her bedroom awaiting her fate, surmising she would be sent to a boarding school for women. Throughout the tale three lives intertwine, Peter Kirby, the man she is to marry, Eric Horton, a scheming banker who intends to make Ruth his own, and Ruthie, who takes her fate into her own hands. Through the differing worlds of high society, middle-class life, and organized crime we follow their story culminating in an engagement, a kidnapping, a misunderstanding… … and a murder.

116. “Hustle Henry & the Cueball Kid,’ by Jack Strandburg. Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid is a Western humor story taking place in late 1800’s – early 1900’s. Clarence Flannery was luckier than most men his age to discover his life’s ambition, particularly in the unpredictable years just following the Civil War. Born with an unmatched skill to play pool, he left his home in Kansas when he turned twenty-six and traveled throughout the Southwestern United States to make his mark as a legendary pool hustler, with every intention of amassing a fortune in the process.

117. “Resting Places,” by Michael White. After receiving the devastating news of her son’s death, Elizabeth ekes out a lonely and strained relationship with her husband, Zack. While he takes comfort in support groups, Elizabeth becomes withdrawn and seeks solace from the only thing that helps her forget: alcohol. A chance meeting with a man on the side of the road spurs her to travel cross-country to the site of her son’s death in the hope of understanding what had happened. During the trip, she undergoes a transformation, one which allows her to confront the demons of her past but also to acknowledge the possibilities of her future. Through the wisdom and kindness of a man she meets along the way, she finds a means not only of dealing with her pain and her guilt, but of opening herself to the redemptive power of love, and of faith in something. Resting Places is an inspiring, upbeat story, a tale of real faith in what we cannot see except with our hearts, a novel that follows a character from despair to hope, from despondency to renewal.

118. “The Holdouts,” by Sherry Clements. Some girls grow up with Barbie dolls and E-Z Bake ovens, but not Martha. She has Scorpion Tail, Beelzebub, and the seven battles of the Apocalypse to deal with in addition to a mother who reads bedtime stories from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Martha lives in working class Arkansas of the late sixties and early seventies. Her father is a proud and brutal man who can’t always get enough work to keep pinto beans on the table. Her mother, Pixie, in the most creative moment of life, slips into her wedding dress, marches to the local storefront fundamentalist church and marries Jesus. The only redeeming thing about the church for Martha is that the middle Spoon daughter is also forced to attend, and she’s the toughest outlaw girl in town. Martha finds temporary respite through her friendship with Spoon and her strong independent grandmother. Girlfriends, however, get boyfriends and grandmothers get old, but the holdouts survive.

119. “Out of Touch,” by Rusty Coats. For Jonah Morgan, the past and future run through people like lightning, throwing sparks on everything they touch, and Jonah’s hands catch those sparks – an ability his grandfather called wicking. In Out of Touch, Jonah confronts his own gift – and the ambitions of a phony psychic named Perry Jahn – while saving a small Indiana town when its basketball team boards a flight doomed to crash.

120. “Some Kind of Way Out of Here,” by Mark Lauden. Some Way Outa Here recounts the turbulent year from July 1969 to June 1970, when men walked the moon and students marched in the streets. It’s a joyful and inspiring story about young people who set out to change the world – and each other. Amid the turmoil of the Vietnam war, high school friends confront the horror of the war and the frustration of hometown apathy. The story is told from the point of view of a teen who must reconcile his zeal for science and his opposition to the war; he is challenged to lead despite paralyzing self-doubts. Two remarkable girls join him in an inspiring and passionate journey.

121. Faggot,” by Frank Billingsley. A true story of tragedy, despair, and hope for the future after surviving a childhood of bullying. Debut true story on homosexuality, religion, overpopulation, and a boy’s desire to fit into a society that has marked him as an outcast. A teenager tries to make sense of his life. He has turned cold, withdrawn, and depressed. He is different, and everyone knows. He is gay, living in a town that does not understand him. He lives in a family that does not know how to support him. He is abused emotionally, physically, and sexually for years. No one cares. No one helps. Then on one dark rainy night, everything changes. Share in this story that debates religion, overpopulation, the human condition, and lays the case for the greater acceptance of the LGBT community.

122. “The Rose of Skibbereen,” by John McDonnell. This is the beginning of a family saga about Rose Sullivan, an Irish girl who comes to Philadelphia in 1880 and finds love, heartache, loss, and unexpected joy during the tumultuous years around the turn of the century. She marries an Irish mystery man named Sean McCarthy, who has a violent past and a secret life, and he takes her to new heights and depths of passion. The lives of multiple characters, vividly drawn, come together in this series that examines what happens when the rural Irish of the 19th century encounter the breathtaking pace of change in the America of the 20th century. Follow Rose and Sean through the years as their lives take unexpected twists and turns, and they discover the many surprises hidden in the human heart.

123.  “Survival,” by John Fahey.  My memoir is about a battering father who would not accept me as his son. It is about my love of Ireland sustaining me, giving me the courage to fight back against despair, to seek a better life through reading and hope and education. It is about never giving up. After a disastrous road accident which scarred my face at 17 and cycling from northeast England and across the Irish Sea to Knock, seeking a miracle, I found the burden of despair lifted from my shoulders.

124 “Fractured,” by Erin Britt. Writes the author: “Fractured is a collection that examines brokenness. Through poetry, short fiction, and the personal nonfiction essay, I look at the ways life breaks apart, from the literal breaking of objects to the shattering relationships and of self.”

125. “Big in Japan,” by Jennifer Griffith. Big in Japan: Zero to Hero in 400 Pounds. Buck Cooper is a big, fat nobody at his statistician job in Dallas. The six-foot-six blond guy isn’t sure when he became socially invisible—probably about the time he passed the three hundred pound mark. But when his parents shanghai him to Tokyo for a business trip, he finds himself thrust into a whole new world—where his size still defines him but suddenly isn’t the liability it’s always been. Now, it could be his greatest asset—because this zero is about to become a sumo hero. Go along with Buck as he gets sucked into Japanese culture as a foreigner, peek inside the secret world of sumo wrestling that can be more dangerous than expected, and cheer as he reaches inside himself for the strength he needs to overcome, literally, huge enemies.

126. “Secret Fire,” by Dennis Young. A land forged from the fires of strife, blood of heroes, and touch of the gods. Where deeds of great valor, vile evils, and blazing passions intertwine to shape the course of elven and human history within. With family relationships and blood-oaths taking precedence over all, The Ardwellian Chronicles offer stirring tales of high adventure and challenges testing the mettle of the bravest souls and spirits.

127. “War, WV,” by Michael Abraham. Tragedy strikes often in the coal country of Southern West Virginia, one of America’s poorest places. Too often the tragedies are caused by corporate malevolence. When a coal impoundment dam upstream of War, West Virginia, collapses, sending a raging black torrent of death through the hollow, Lucas “Pug” Graham and a band of survivors decide that justice must be done.

128. “Father Flashes,” by Tricia Bauer. The winner of FC2’s inaugural Catherine Doctorow Prize for Innovative Fiction, Father Flashes re-imagines what the novel can be or do. Composed of stunning vignettes that capture the deterioration of a father’s mind and body, this novel provides poetic insight into the complex workings of a father-daughter relationship.

129. “Sirocco,” by Danielle Dahl. The Algerian War of Independence begins in 1954, forever changing the lives of the French colonials, including 10-year-old Nanna and her family. The conflict lasts for 8 years, but despite the constant threat of terrorist attacks, Nanna confronts the usual challenges of growing up—helping to raise her spirited siblings, struggling with math, and defying her harsh father by falling in love.

130. “My Dear Wife and Children,” by Nick Adams. What does a father write to his wife and young children when he’s gone to war? Does he explain why he left them? How does he answer their constant questions about his return? Which of his experiences does he relate, and which does he pass over? Should he describe his feelings of separation and loneliness? These questions are as relevant today as they were over 150 years ago, when David Brainard Griffin, a corporal in Company F of the 2nd Minnesota Regiment of Volunteers, wrote to those he left behind on the family’s Minnesota prairie homestead while he fought to preserve the Union.

131. “We Dare Not Whisper,” by Jan Netolicky. Luce Garrison narrates the unraveling of her stoic Midwestern family: a mother plagued by bipolar disorder, a father guilt-ridden by his inability to confront his wife’s descent into madness, and Luce’s own unassailable conviction that she can never be as loved as the brothers she has lost. As a child, Luce often lingered over albums of glossy photographs, longing to be just like her lovely, enigmatic mother. But images frozen for an instant could not capture the lightless depression and manic bouts of frenzied activity which demonized Bets Garrison. Luce does not know the depths of her mother’s undiagnosed mental illness. Her only certainty? She is an inadequate substitute for the older brother who was stillborn just three months after her parents’ marriage.  After giving birth to Jonny, eleven years Luce’s junior, Bets develops an obsessive, disturbing devotion which trumps every other relationship in the Garrison home. Although Luce tries to minimize the gulf, she is excluded from the smothering attention her mother lavishes upon Jonny. Caught in a void, she can neither be loving sister nor cherished daughter. She can only be in the way.

132. “Steele Secrets,” by Andi Cumbo-Floyd. When Mary Steele mysteriously finds herself in an old cemetery down the road from her house in a tiny mountain town, she’s not concerned. She’s not even frightened when a ghost named Moses approaches her, or when she has a standoff with a bulldozer. But when her inquiries into the history of the cemetery and the people buried there begin to draw out the worst in the members of her community, Mary begins to be afraid. Will she be able to recover history while keeping the people she loves safe? Steele Secrets is a story of American history and racism, slavery and family, and the way mystery can lead us to healing. While completely fictional,the book is drawn from real life events where cemeteries have been destroyed – or under threat – because people do not know who is buried in them or do not care. Whether the cemeteries are in urban neighborhoods or in rural countryside, many slave cemeteries in particular and African American cemeteries in specific are under threat.  These themes, historical and current events, and questions about whose responsibility it is to save these historic places are drawn together in the novel.

134“Stealing Cherries,” by Marina Rubin. 74 heart-rending stories, each in 150 to 300 words. This is literature with an adrenaline rush – each story has a plot, a conflict, a lesson, humor, and a spectrum of characters. Who are they? A family of five arrives at JFK with no English and two suitcases per person. Women searching for love at a local Jewish center with the same zest as in a Jamaican nudist colony. Strippers spending $3000 on underwear. They are looking for jobs, they wear bunny slippers to work, they have sex in the office under the scrutiny of security cameras. These characters are all too human, too familiar, too flawed, and just glamorous enough to be endearing and unforgettable.

135. “Passage Oak,” by K.M. del Mara. High above the coast of Cornwall, a remarkable tree dominates the woodland. It stands out because it is the only oak of its type and larger than any other tree. Down the ages, it has served as a landmark for thieves and smugglers, lovers and outlaws.In the small village below, people have a rather obsessive dread of anything that stands out, that doesn’t fit the mold. They like to keep to themselves and don’t like to see their traditions threatened. But along comes an Italian and then an Irishman, each escaping religious persecution in his native country. A young woman and a small boy follow, fleeing the French Revolution, plus a stranger running from a charge of murder, and a girl of mixed race sent by mistake from a London orphanage. Imagine this motley assortment of people seeking to build new lives in one hard-pressed fishing village.

136. “Never a Hero to Me,” by Tracy Black. Tracy Black was only five years old when her mother was hospitalised for the first of many occasions, leaving Tracy in the care of her father. His behaviour, seemingly overnight, changed from indifferent to violently abusive and, for the next seven years, Tracy was sexually and physically abused by her father, his friends and her own brother. All of the men were in the British Armed Forces. Tracy’s father compounded the abuse by sending her to baby-sit for his paedophile friends – whilst their own children slept in other rooms, these men would find excuses to leave later or return earlier than their wives in order to abuse her, with her own father’s blessing. When she sought help and safety the doors were closed as the authorities closed ranks. In this shocking and compelling book, Tracy Black pieces together the jigsaw of a story that has haunted her for the past forty years.

137. “Fire in the Bones,” by Mark R. Harris.  Spanning the years 1964-1972, Fire in the Bones follows Luke, an American boy plagued by panic and loneliness growing up in a nominally religious middle class family.  He looks for security and companionship wherever he can, first through daydreams, including a relationship with an imaginary friend named Bob, and then on to sixties pop culture, via TV icon Batman and pop music sensations the Beatles.  As Luke comes to pattern his identity after the Beatles and others, he creates a fantasy world for himself that keeps the panic and loneliness at bay. But when Lonnie walks into his life, he enters a new reality where a flesh-and-blood female offers him tangible security—but at a price Luke may not be willing to pay.

138. “Walking with Trees,” by P.R. Lowe. Urged by the ancient wisdom of trees, the author moves through a reflective journey of the natural and the man made, the innate and the learned. Through signs, symbols and messages, the polarities are woven together into a timely and sensitive message for a new paradigm. A poetic narrative leads the reader into the magic, wonder and mystery of nature, the forest and the luminosity of one’s one being.

139. “Indivisible,” by Randi Sachs. The story of twin brothers, who at the age of 22 are orphaned and have no other family. Aaron has just graduated college, David has Down Syndrome. They now have to start their adult lives together, without the help from their parents or older sister.

140. “Them That Go,” by Becky Mushko. A secret revealed, a mystery solved, a life forever changed. In 1972, seventeen-year-old Annie Caldwell, who has the “gift” of animal communication, wants to be normal, but she’ll settle for being unnoticed. Annie’s brother died in Vietnam, her mother is depressed, and her father drinks. Her only friend is elderly Aint Lulie—who lives in the same holler and understands the gift because she has one, too: “The first daughter in ever’ other generation has always been blest with a gift, though some think it a curse.” As they sit by the fireplace in the evenings and tell each other stories, Aint Lulie shares family history with Annie, including a relative’s mysterious death and how some of their ancestors came to settle in the area: “There’s always been them that go and them that stay in ever’ generation.” When a local girl goes missing, Aint Lulie’s and Annie’s gifts can help solve the mystery—but if Annie speaks up, she can no longer go unnoticed. Them That Go is an Appalachian coming-of-age novel rich in tradition, superstition, family ties, and secrets.

141. For Love of Charity,” by Wanda Parker. Charity, raised with wealth and privilege has her world shattered when her fiancé runs away before the wedding. With determination, she reinvents herself from a lady to a frontier lad, to join a trader to find her fiancé Robert. During the long journey carrying a heavy pack, and masquerading as a young boy, she learns the hardships and dangers of frontier life, from bear attacks, rogue white men, and fierce Indians. She also learns she has the inner strength to be a survivor.

142. “Making History,” by Kim Pearson. Making History is a comprehensive, easy to use, fun method of exploring the times of your (or someone else’s) life against a backdrop of historic events. It illuminates personal power, providing an antidote to the apathetic assumption that one person cannot make a difference. It contains detailed historic timelines from 1930 through 1989; vibrant true stories full of humor, tragedy, and excitement; thought-provoking questions to help the reader discover how they contributed to and participated in the events of their time; and easily accessible information arranged in eight categories, which are: Economics and Politics, The Social Fabric (race, gender, and morality), War and the International Scene, Technology and Science, Crime and Disaster, Arts and Entertainment, Lifestyle Activities (food, fashion, toys, sports, etc.) and The Weird and Trivial (scandals and gossip, comics, slang, pets, etc.). 1

143. “Adirondack Gold,” by Persis Granger. Hollis Ingraham, a young Adirondack boy of the 1890s is forced by his widowed mother’s poverty to go to live on the farm of grandparents he hardly knows, and who, he senses, do not like his mother. He strives to earn the approval of his seemingly angry grandfather by mastering chores on the farm, and, in the process, learns more about his deceased father and the cause of his grandfather’s bitterness.

144. “The Silenced,” by James DeVita. In the aftermath of the Millenium War, the new Zero Tolerance government focuses on the safety inherent in homogeneity of political thinking, ethnic origin, and appearance. A wall has been constructed around the southern part of the country and suspected families relocated into a “re-dap” community in which the young people can be educated into right-thinking. But within her Youth Training Facility, Marina has found some kindred souls: an art teacher who encourages her, a boyfriend with whom she sneaks out at night, and a rebellious newcomer. As she gradually retrieves her memories of her mother’s death, Marina determines to honor her spirit, starting her own resistance movement, the White Rose. This leads to a horrifying discovery: the tool the party uses to silence wrong-thinkers permanently.

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writersbridgebridgebuilder

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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